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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just One Tree

 Standing in the kitchen, staring at the tiny Maple tree they planted the year they bought this house, she can't help but think back to that wonderful day when this became home. When everything was normal.

As had happened so many times before, Carrie felt the weight of their future on her shoulders alone. It was up to her to make things happen or live with nothing ever getting done. The house was now bought and payments were made regularly. She arranged that. The gardener, the housekeeper, the repair people anyone that was needed for anything was on her "to do list" never on his.

Kent still lives in his own little world where everything gets done for him. He sees things that need to be done and in no time at all, they are done. It's an easy life and he is deliriously happy and in love.

Everything had changed for them in over 6 years of marriage. She was happy, though sometimes overwhelmed, and she still felt there was no one better suited to her life or more deserving of her love than Kent. Life really was, finally, good for them.

The news from the doctor would be the most difficult thing she had ever had to share with him and this could not be fixed. All the problems they had encountered and discussed and she had taken charge of, since then, were nothing compared to this burden she was about to drop in his lap. He would not be prepared. She was not.

Looking back at their lives Carrie knows that beyond any fear and any pain she had to face, she would never be alone again. She would never not live a day without him and she would be able to depend on him because nothing in his life came before his devotion to her. With that, she would share with him her cancer had returned and was inoperable and too wide spread to look for chemo to help.

Again, he would just take over her role and he would take over her fears. He would be the man he had always been every other time she needed him. Six to eight weeks of goodbyes and I love yous and strength from him, that was her reality now.


The GBE2 prompt was to write the end of a story. Here is the end of "Just One Tree". 


I have written a good deal about SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, because I have suffered with it for years. I never used to actually talk about it, other than to say that fall is not my favorite time of year. I guess I thought it was ridiculous that weather could actually make you depressed in a clinical way. Describing what I live through is difficult because it isn't the normal or common kind of depression. I do not suffer from lack of happiness, I do not feel alone, I do not feel overwhelmed. I do sometimes have physical pains that have no explanation and pass exactly as they appeared, quickly and without hangover symptoms. That pain is normally either my hands or my shoulders. Why? No answer to that, so far.

What happens to me when SAD takes over? I am moody. I am not me. I am either very ornery or I am just out of control. I am disorganized and sometimes nearly speechless, as in, I have nothing at all that seems like it needs to be said. Pleasantries are non-existent. I'm not a nice person to be around. I try to just stay away from people, if I am aware that I have fallen into the SAD trap.  That's the rub, I'm not always even aware that I am being affected. I will see it in hindsight. I have lost more than one friend who didn't know or didn't understand even when I apologized or explained, but most of my close friends know if I'm acting out of character and it's past September and not close to April, maybe just mention to me that I don't seem to be myself. It has worked in the past. Awareness at the very least, helps me to tape my mouth shut and get up off my butt. Doing something is always step one, changing my thinking is step two and of course, finding some sunshine will always help. Fake sun doesn't work for me, at all. It's more about the gloom and darkness than a fake sun dose daily. I will not take medications because I am pretty much non-medication unless absolutely nothing else works and serious pain is involved. Some years have been easier than others. I have learned a few things over the years including my best explanation of what it's like to live in here; I basically feel nothing. I don't really feel, love or hate or compassion or anger. I don't feel hurt or sad or happy; though I may have happy moments and sad moments, they will pass quickly.

I have done some research and I am beginning a new and kind of hodge podged plan for this season. I took ideas from other sufferers and doctor's thoughts and programs and built my own plan just for me and what I need help with most. A friend suggested acupuncture and I looked into that and will be seeing a well-reputed acupuncturist in a couple of weeks to give that a shot, pun intended, as well.

My concentration is on looking back. Something I don't usually do. Why? Because seeing how many days of the season I have survived is helpful to knowing I can move forward. The season is a long one in Michigan and I will be escaping in March for a few weeks to find sunshine and relaxation. I will be looking forward to that trip, but not counting the days. That can pull me down because it's a big number. While thinking about going and making the travel plans will be fun and exciting, I will not be specifically thinking about when, only where and what. I will also be taking each hour as it comes. I will have specific projects which I control for each month. I have determined that always having something on my horizon is necessary to keep my mind full of good things.

I am smiling more. I mean looking in my mirror, thinking of one of the hundreds of reasons I have to smile daily, smiling from my heart. I am using mantra's that I have collected to encourage these smiles, when needed. Simple as that sounds, it is helping. Smiling is powerful, apparently.

I am making my list of projects to begin in November. Nothing gigantic like last years downstairs remodel, but little things that I have been putting off and will enjoy tackling. My office is getting a make-over with new paint, shelves being removed and cabinets put in. My kitchen is getting a fresh paint job and I am going to reorganize and totally purge my cupboards. That will be more than a week's worth.
There will be more, but for now, that's my list. Thinking of something involving my fireplace, but I have to get Roomy on board for that job.  :-}

Daily looking at how much of October is gone, then how much of November has passed etc., is the looking back part. Changing my way of thinking is not going to be real easy, but I am going to give it all I have. I believe it can make a difference.

If I can keep myself level on a day to day basis, if I can just do this one hour at a time, I do think it could work for me. And if I do have a day or three that I just can't find that morning smile? If writing doesn't bring me back, then I guess I'll give in to that one or two days, but nothing beyond that and I will fight even for those to not win. Busy minds can't turn dark, I hope.

I will also be writing on a schedule again. I used to do that. I have not for the past couple of years. It helps to keep me focused and it gets all those stories and feelings out of my head and into my journal of writings. Some you will see, some you will not. But write, I shall.

Feel free to comment if you like, but please understand that I am not looking for more ideas, at this point. I am going to work this plan and I am going to give it 100% this year. I do not want another winter of dismay and apologies to people who didn't deserve the sharpness they may have received from my messed up brain. I really want to be the organized, kind and loving person who I know lives in this body. I want her to win this one.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nano Fiction-Three in Five

This Old House
Fifteen years ago they bought a twelve year old house and lived through these years without thought to update or replace a single inch. It became a necessity as they prepared to downsize for their retirement years. Updating would bring more money at sale time, but it also made them so happy in their beloved home that selling was not imperative. Happiness, it seems, does not require downsizing.

The OCD Cat
Chuck is a white, long haired, squishy faced, tom cat of questionable heritage. At the age of 6, he is considered to be in his prime; his humans believe it's prime OCD. Chuck turns exactly 4 times before settling at his bowl for meals. The same 4 turns before going out his cat door or re-entering. Any attempt to interrupt that routine requires a restart of the four consecutive turns because, as most know, cats are nothing if not independent.

It Must Be Love
He found the day incomplete and empty when she traveled, which she often did. She loved the trips and yet thought of him hourly while on the road, in the air or dining without him. They each smiled, kissed and hugged as she left on every new venture while each silently wished it was the last time. After thirty-five years of her comings and goings, she announced at dinner that her job had been eliminated and neither of them felt a loss.

Friday, October 11, 2013


There is a fine line between respect and fear. It's hard sometimes to know the difference. Raising my children I often wondered if I was instilling respect or fear. I know now it was a little of both. They feared suffering consequences of their rule breaking actions, but they respected me for my consistency. Hindsight is very helpful.

Parental respect is vital to raising people who function in adulthood with the skills to negotiate and compromise with others. No one gets to be right every time and no one has to give in every time. What everyone does get and does deserve, is to be heard. Having respect for others allows for give and take of ideas and consequently, can lead to a middle of the road plan of action. I fear this mutual respect aspect is sorely missing from a great deal of today's society. I fear we are raising an entire generation of people who have no respect and little fear.

Parents who are befriending their children are unable to teach respect and don't instill fear because friends don't punish, they just talk. Talking is certainly important so that a child hears clearly what they did wrong, but equally important is a real and painful consequence. Losing a privilege that is unimportant to the child, relatively speaking, isn't effective. The punishment has to be such that fear of having that repeated might cause the child to not repeat this action. A little fear and then respect for parental authority.

It's our job to set a moral example for our kids, our grandkids and even the other kids in our lives. We need to remember that they are watching more than listening. Kids really do learn more of how grown-ups act, or should act, by watching the adults in their lives and how they live day to day. They will copy and admire everything you do. Even the bad or not so good things.

We had adult rules and kid rules in our house. My kids knew some things were okay for adults and that when they were adults themselves, they could make a choice as to copy our behavior or not. Adults were always portrayed as being wiser, more responsible and independent. The kids were taught that one day, they would also be adults and would be all of those things and their role for childhood through their teenage years was to become wiser, more responsible and independent. We taught by giving them chances to hone those skills. Sometimes they failed and  they learned consequences were to follow. Most often they succeeded and gained a bit more freedom for having proven they were ready. They also knew the law allowed adults to live by different rules like drinking alcohol and smoking or voting and driving. Those were decisions they would make when age allowed and not before.

Yes, they both drank before they turned 21. I didn't condone nor did I severely punish. I allowed the hangovers to do the punishments. They learned.

Respect was hard earned in my world and more is freely given as I age. While someone used to have to earn my respect, now they have it until they blow it. I like it this way and hope one day my children will adapt this philosophy, as well. To date, that isn't happening. They are very stingy with their respect.

I do hope that more of today's parents learn to teach their children respect for elders and authority. It is becoming very rare to see young ones who have any idea what respect means or how to show it. Parents are being disrespected and kids are learning wrong is what you got caught doing, not what you did.

Makes me a little sad.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Birthday~Coming in 13 Days

I am posting this on the 3rd of October 2013 and in just 13 days Momma will celebrate her 91st birthday.

That is so hard to really envision, isn't it? Ninety one years of living, loving, hurting, smiling, crying, hating and forgiving. Born in Kentucky, mostly raised in Ohio and moving with her family to Michigan around 1953 where she would have no support after having all of her family and Dad's family within a few minutes of her home all of her life. A 31 year old woman with her husband and three kids moved over 7 hours away from their families. Add to that some instability in the marriage and you begin to see what a giant step this was for her. She gambled and she fought for many years through trials and tribulations to finally around 1965 or thereabouts, find herself in a fairly good situation. Her children all raised, for the most part. Her husband 100% in the marriage and some stability finally. It was over 10 years of struggle and she would only have about 13 years of the sober and loving life before he passed and she was left alone to carry on.

Graduation day June 1967 Mom, me and Dad

They were the same age, 56, when he passed. She was not prepared. She was not an independent woman. The checkbook had been his territory. The bills, the income, the taxes and all things other than running her home, were his territory. In 1978, they became her territory with a mere few weeks to prepare. No, not true. The few weeks were spent at the hospital, hoping and assuming he would get well. So there really was no preparation time, though she did apparently pay the bills as they came in as we found no overdue notices when I went to help her get set up following the funeral. It was very difficult. But as with all things to follow, she did what she needed to do and was more than capable, though she was nervous. In the following few years she developed into a very independent and very strong woman. I have not really worried about her until very recently and that might be because I am more involved in her day to day life now and I see the years taking their toll.

 Now, don't misunderstand. She lives alone in her beautiful 2 bedroom 900+ square foot apartment and does most of her cleaning. I clean the high up things so she doesn't climb. My choice. She prepares her own meals, though I think she should be eating more. She goes down a flight of stairs everyday to get her mail and takes her garbage to the dumpster by walking across the parking lot and two driveways to do so. She is amazingly capable and amazingly willing to do what she is physically capable of doing. I love this about her. I love that she doesn't want help, but allows me to do what she simply can't safely do. She no longer drives so I taxi her where she needs or wants to be. She doesn't take advantage of that and in fact, won't even ask to go anyplace. I have to ask if she would like to go, is there any place she has been wanting to go, anything she needs that I haven't thought of and that is really the hardest thing. Intuition is a good tool and 
not really my strongest asset, though, I am always trying.

Momma (brown) and her neighbors in her apartment on her birthday in 2011
This year she will be staying home with my sister and her husband, and Mike and I and we'll be dining together. I will cook whatever sounds good to her and we'll have cake and she'll open presents from us. It won't be a big deal, but it will be a very BIG deal at the same time.
Our momma will be 91 years old and we still have her everyday in our lives. What a blessed family she has raised. What a good life she has now. We will celebrate IN her presence and IN her own home. I am aware how rare this is and I am so happy every time I think of what she has added to my life in the last few years since moving here. It's been 4 years next month that she has lived within 2 miles of me and that I have been her taxi and her lifeline to the outside world. It is heavy sometimes, but it's a blessing most times. Much like the years she was raising her children without a lot of help from our dad, it's tough some days and heavenly some days.

Last year's birthday at my house.

Birthdays...days to reflect. Days to be grateful and days to celebrate life to that point and dream of the ones to come. On her birthday I dare not dream too far ahead, but I love looking back with her and remembering anything she wants to remember. Her stories will fill a book one day and what they lack in accuracy, they will make up for with the knowledge that the stories I have and am still compiling are from her mouth to my ears and then my note pad. Her words, her life as she has chosen to recall it. I am good with that.

Happy birthday, Momma.