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Archive for February, 2014

Death—it surrounded me when I was 3, tried to grab hold when I was 11, held hands at 16, wrapped its arms around me at 19 but death took a piece of my soul at 21.

 Dungeon Prompts (Season 2, week 8):  When did death become real for you? 

 

When I was three, I didn’t say goodbye to my grandmother at the hospital before her death. My great aunt tried to sneak me in—I wouldn’t go. I didn’t see her body afterwards and was not allowed to attend the funeral. I knew she was sick but where did she go? I was told, “to heaven,” but where is heaven?

 

At eleven, I met a boy a little older than me. I was being diagnosed with my AVM and he was being treated for a malignant brain tumor. I didn’t know the severity of it and I sure didn’t understand mine. He later died and I carry a piece of him with me to this day. I didn’t know death then but this is part of the ribbon that binds us all together.

 

Peach. It was the color I liked. It reminded me of her. I remember it like yesterday. Caskets are elaborate boxes that I would love to nap in if they were not for the “ever after.” They look so comfortable. I picked out the first one when I was 16. My great aunt had just died. She was my best friend and filled in the role of grandmother. Never having children of her own or marrying, I spent much of my childhood with her. I expected her to die one day—it was the natural order of things. She was old…she was 84 but it wasn’t easy saying goodbye.

 

Death was getting closer. Death asked me to dance.

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On my dad’s shoulders.

Going to funerals became an activity for the family for a few years. Some relatives I knew, some I had met, and some I had never seen. I got accustomed to the routine of saying goodbye, shedding tears, and packing those memories up in a box to put aside. That was how I dealt with death. I didn’t know how to grieve—to go through the motions and the stages of recovery. You see, we never get over death—not if we really care for someone. We only learn to deal with our feelings of loss. We learn how to prevent it from hurting us so deeply. The pain is always there but we usually learn how to cover it up and disguise it. I didn’t have a clue of what death was when I was 16. I pretended to know.

 

A distant cousin flirted with death all of his life. My grandmother that died when I was 3 … he took her car and fixed it up but then one night he was drag racing and drove into a tree. I was small—young. He was messed up and I wondered if he would live. Memories haunt me from that night. One, I remember his blood. It seemed to be everywhere. The racing did not stop and neither did the wrecking. He went through a few cars and always promised he would never do it again but he was thrilled with speed and he loved to race. He loved other things, but racing was his downfall.

 

I was at college when my parents called to tell me he passed away. I was 19. It was a wreck he wouldn’t survive. It took the life of a young mother, too. He had been my mentor, my hero, and my protector–the big brother I never had. Death quit dancing with me and became a part of me at 19. The innocence was gone. I never forgot that night he almost died so many years before and after this, I never looked at things the same again. I had talked with my cousin not long before he died. He sought me out yet he was much older. He said that he wanted to patch up his marriage and go into the ministry. He wanted to make things right. I didn’t know why he would talk to me about such private matters. I was a kid but I was also the innocence of life. Sometimes we want to see the past in order to find our future.

 

I wish I could say death and I parted ways for a while but my life was forever changed at 21 when my dad died of cancer. He was my biggest fan. He loved me … called me ‘Monkey’… I don’t know. He would do anything for me if I needed it. He almost died of a heart attack when I was diagnosed with the AVM. He didn’t want this for me. He wanted life to be better. I loved him so much.

 

He taught me most of what I know from roofing a house to planting a garden to so many things. He taught me to think for myself and to not take ‘no’ for an answer. The closeness between us caused death to take part of me—part of my soul. I never allowed myself to grieve. I had to be strong for my mom and to show others that I wasn’t weak. I could not understand how my dad could be taken away at such a young age. I thought he was invincible. I believed he would be healed but it doesn’t matter what we want to happen. Sometimes things are going to happen no matter what. Death became real that night I answered the phone from the hospital. Life stopped for me in some ways and never returned. I carry that pain with me. It goes deep, very deep. I wasn’t prepared for my dad to die.

 

Death did not stop there, of course. I have said goodbye and had to bury all of my family except my girls. It hurts. I learned how to grieve finally … a little late but I learned. When my mom passed away, the tears wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t cry for my dad until she died. I kept family at a distance–scared that the next person close to me would die. I wanted to protect everyone I knew. Later, my mom’s mom died here in the house when the girls were little. I was her caregiver just like I was for my mom. I hope the girls don’t have bad memories later or that they cannot grieve. I worry about that—a lot.

 

Oh dear, sometimes we know someone who dies and we ask ourselves how it was them and not us. There have been other deaths—a lot of them along the way—but there is one that touched my heart and my family—my youngest daughter’s best friend’s mother, “Mom Number 2.” The girls had been friends for much of their school years. They were a lot alike—more tomboyish than girly. Both were in high school when the best friend’s mom had an aneurysm burst. She was medevac’d to a place that could safely remove it but it turned out she had two of the dang things. Everything seemed to go OK but then she took a turn. No one ever dreamed this could happen. I always thought she might need to care for my girls if/when I died. She wasn’t supposed to die but infection set in and she passed away. I still can’t believe it. That was six years ago this month. I have watched my daughter deal with grief while remembering my own inadequacies. We talk about feelings and loss … and memories. I hope it will help as well as her participating in some rituals with her friend each year.

 

Finally … When I was young, I remember seeing a TV movie called, “Death Takes a Holiday” (not the 1934 version). My mom was watching it and for some reason, it intrigued me. It’s been an awful long time but the movie was about ‘death’ becoming human. Death stopped—no one was dying. In this particular family, a certain member was to die but another family member made a deal with death so that he/she (not to give away the ending) could die and spare the one that death came for. A silly notion that we could trade a life … but I sometimes daydream asking myself if it were possible how I would act.

 

I used to dread the possibility of experiencing another death so close—I said I couldn’t take it. I think I would gladly trade my life for another if I was the only one who would be affected. I watched my mother struggle after my dad died. I never wanted to lose my mate to death but I think death is sometimes an easier reality than what happened in my marriage. My mom knew my dad loved her. Sure, they had problems along the way but they loved each other. She could not put her arms around him nor his around her but she knew. In many ways, I have experienced the death of a spouse without going through death—someone I trusted my life with, someone I sacrificed so much for—but no love in return.

 

We have walked closely, Death and I, because of the people I have lost—so many I have known who are gone. No one thought I would live this long so Death and I have walked in the same footsteps at times. I have never feared death for me. I have been afraid of losing those around me but I am learning that we cannot hold on to the ones we love. We have to let go. That’s not easy for me. Death becomes more real to me with each death.

 

So, where is heaven? (small snicker) Heaven is on the other side of death … of course. 🙂

 

* Note:  Thanks to Sreejit for this prompt (dungeon prompts-link). I write about death fairly frequently but this is the first time I have put all of these stories together in one writing. It was extremely cathartic but I can’t stay here in this thought. I find that if I remain too long, I forget the sun rises and sets only to rise again the next morning. 😀

Blessings …

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A woman needed help. She reluctantly and hesitantly asked if volunteers would help her. It was difficult for her to do. She was used to doing for herself but that was in the past.

Saturday

We have so much in life even when we are lacking, we are blessed. I have never known how to be a needy person but you know, we are all needy in some way. Today, like many days lately I was out cleaning the yard, struggling to move limbs and storm debris to the curb before the county’s contractor came through. We only get one chance and that’s it. A lot like life. It was too much for me but I was doing the best I could—get as much done as possible—even if it got the best of me. I kept pushing. 🙂

I prayed when I arose that God would be with me, to give me strength to do this unattainable task. I prayed a few more times while I was out working (normal for me in the day) that He would be there and that He would send someone to help. I didn’t know how to act if He did and I didn’t know what to do if I didn’t get help. I left it in God’s hands.

Next thing I know there are 3 trucks pulling up to my house with a few young men and several younger guys piling out to clean my yard—get the trees off my house—cut them up and haul to the curb. I felt overwhelmed and began to cry. 🙂

An elderly neighbor stopped by to tell them, “thank you.” These young guys worked so hard. There was one I was scared he was going to fall and hurt himself. They were great. I really cannot repay what they did for me…and I’m not speaking of monetary worth. They helped my heart when it really needed it.

 

Remember the ice and limbs in the front…

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There is more to clean but the big limbs have been moved. THANK YOU!

  

These young men are from the Atlanta area (not local). They traveled to Augusta to assist in the Columbia County Day of Service organized by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons). I add this with their permission. 🙂

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This is what it is all about…what we can do for others. We all learn from one another when we give in this way but the young men—I dare not say boys—probably learn the most because they carry it with them for the rest of their lives. I was so happy. They answered a prayer 🙂 . 

Blessings… 😀

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I will not pretend to know much of the laws of science(s)–even though I was a physics major for much of my college life but I love the natural world these days. I see things in a slightly different perspective than I did when I was fancy free. Things have more meaning. I appreciate things and people more. You get the idea–that’s what happens along my journey through life. 🙂

Lately, I have been hearing people yell at how much they know about the earth, our solar system, the universe. They know this and they know that. I am trying really hard to not challenge this thought. Rather than words to describe my feelings, I decided on an illustration. So, here it is:

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To me, that little bite is what all of the scientists in the world today believe they “know” about our universe. There is so much we do not know–I think I might have made the bubble too small. 😀

Science is not bad. Us not listening to each other–that’s bad. We can do better. We need to do better.

Blessings…

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I don’t blog as much as I used to. I want to. I feel torn. I have things I am trying to do in my life but I keep hitting roadblocks–lots of them. Blogging is what keeps me focused. Last year when I felt like I knew where I was going–that was the most satisfying I have felt in so long. Now, I’m not so sure where I am headed. This is my main blog and I still post some prayers at My Letter to God. The other two on wordpress are hidden for now until I decide what to do with them.

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Protect Your Heart

When you have an itch, you want to scratch it. I have had many itches lately and several things have fallen through in my life. I was upbeat before–it comes and goes. As long as things are going ok, I am ok but once I start hitting rough patches, I want to climb in a shell, close the door and hide. It took several years to get less shy (I don’t know if you ever overcome shyness completely) but I did my best, I married and raised two girls and when my husband left, it took a while to climb out of the pool (I keep falling in 😉 ).

I have withdrawn again–I hate it. I don’t feel worthy most of the time, I choke when I shouldn’t. I’m not dead. I still have thoughts and feelings. I still have a heart of gold and am loyal to a fault–loyal to my children, my beliefs, my friends, and the man I have yet to meet, I guess. I won’t accept a life alone and I won’t settle. God has to do whatever in that realm. That’s not where I excel but I’m not sure where I excel anymore.

God has always been in my life. God can be many things to many people but God is my strength. There is not a day that goes by that I do not pray and have meditation with God–I think people would be surprised sometimes. It isn’t always what I desire it to be but I really believe I would not be here if I didn’t take time out for Him, us, me, all of us. 🙂

Blessings…

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One of the scariest times of my life… This is what happens when too much ice accumulates on trees (I had mostly pines)…my poor house and yard.

This is not snow…this is ice only…small itsy-bitsy, teeny tiny pellets–sleet and frozen rain (tears, maybe). I could not believe how much there was. It began on Tuesday the 11th, continued through Wednesday and then it began to snow a bit on Thursday morning–no snow accumulation. In the photo below:  the left, where it appears to be less, is the driveway and to the right is the ground where there was more accumulation. This is the only pretty picture…and it ain’t pretty. 😉 Footprints should give you an idea how deep it was.

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Ice — doesn’t look that bad, does it? 😉

 

This is what I saw after the first tree came down Wed night. The second tree is still standing at the time. The house is to the left and the base of Tree A that snapped in two is to the right. The biggest part that fell is pointing toward the house 🙄 I didn’t see what it did to the house until later. When it came down, the power was out and it was dark. There is a brick patio under there somewhere.

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Patio pic #1

 

This is looking into the backyard from the front—with the shed on the right (right of pic #1). I could not even get to the backyard until later—it’s a good thing.

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Patio pic #2

 

This is some of the front yard. This is not a tree down…only limbs. Yeah…a mess.

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<- Driveway           House ->

 

A tree from my neighbor’s yard fell across the road (toward me 😉 ). I took the photo after the road was cleared a bit.

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Driveway and road where tree had fallen

My nice driveway. Very few limbs–the only place that did not have limbs or trees. 😉

 

Now for 2 pictures where trees meet the house. This is the first hit. Hard to see with the shadows but my eave is missing as is some of the roof.

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Doesn’t look so bad in the pictures I guess but… The one laying on the house…that’s the story I told before where I was out in the road attempting to remove the one blocking the road. I heard it snap and then watched it fall. It damaged the roof and the ceiling below it.

This concludes the ice tour 2014. Be careful and watch your step as you exit the vehicle–don’t trip. 🙂

By the way, I know people are making fun of all this–that it is nothing–that “we” southerners are making a big deal about it all and that others deal with this all of the time. That may be true but I will say it again…I have never EVER seen this much damage for an ice storm and I have never seen this much ice at one time. Houses weren’t brought down everywhere but this is unreal–surreal. I thought people were over exaggerating when they said ‘catastrophic’ possibilities but I also thought the same when Jim Cantore stood on the shores of Mississippi just before Hurricane Katrina came in and said, “Everything you see here will be gone,” and it was. 

 

I was hit exceptionally hard. I don’t know why but it isn’t because I have lack of faith or that I am not a good person or whatever reason someone can think of. Things happen, period. I thank God for everything that I have and need. I love snow–I hate ice. 🙂

Blessings…

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Yes, Virginia Amy, there are earthquakes. Ice–sleet, frozen rain, cold stuff–began to fall Tuesday and fell all day Wednesday and then to add insult to injury, it snowed Thursday morning very lightly. It is weird to walk on more than an inch or two (looks more like 3 inches but what do I know) of small ice pellets everywhere–not snow. The snow didn’t accumulate. Let’s revisit…

Two nights ago after much, much ice had fallen, a tree fell and hit the back of the house. I have a 2-story house. The tree broke off at the top–all of the limbs and needles came crashing into the house tearing off some of the eave. The house shook violently. Yesterday morning, I went to survey the damage of more than 24 hours of ice coming out of the sky. I’m telling you that I’m 54 today (yes-Saturday) and I have never ever seen this happen before–not to this extent.

I was in the road with some neighbors yesterday morning and we were talking about this one pine tree leaning over my house. I was attempting to remove debris to clear the road when I heard it crack. I yelled at it to not break off and just like a little child who sees something he/she wants, it didn’t listen. After all it is was a tree. WHAM! Into the house it went. I watched it. You should have seen how big and green it was before it broke off, but that was the problem. It could not stand up to the weight of the ice. I now have a ceiling that may cave in… You get the idea.

The house shook that time, too. I watched it happen and Simon felt it–he was so scared–he is still scared. To be honest, I’m scared. At the time, we still had no power, it was cold, dark, scary…he doesn’t react well to change and he hates cold. Last blog post, I wrote about Jim Cantore coming to town. We really do joke about him in the summer. You probably do, too if you live close to the coast. We have had storms before but I have never ever seen one this bad and not just because I have tree damage. There are only a few tornado hits in this area that I have seen that are worse. This is far reaching–more so than tornadoes. Now for the story…

Happy Valentine’s Day…there are a few minutes left. 😆 I was trying to relax…Friday night with power, some heat, and my internet came back tonight so I was talking to some friends, reading up on some things, writing, answering emails… I was just a having a quiet night in on Friday night, Valentine’s Day. I didn’t care. I just wanted peace and warmth. 

Earlier, Simon came in the room and wouldn’t lay down on his blanket. He was acting strange but look at what we have been through. Each of us is doing whatever we need to cope. All of a sudden the bed began to shake…..the house shook (and creaked)….I have a chest of drawers with handles that rattle when it is moved and it made such a ruckus. My first thought was the ice storm but I knew the ice was almost all melted. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking “earthquake.” Then I received a text from my daughter who was out with her boyfriend. She asked if “that” was an earthquake. I said, “yes.” It was either my house falling down or an earthquake or both.

It hasn’t been a good week. And, this? The epicenter was a few miles away–seriously. Yes, really. So….I wish you a good Valentine’s Day–a day late and if nothing else happens, we hope to celebrate my birthday later today–it’s after midnight. If something happens, we plan to celebrate my birthday later today. And to think I didn’t want to celebrate…… 🙄

Blessings …

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Jim Cantore

It is awful…the worst ice storm I have ever seen! If Jim comes to your town, escape as soon as you can!!! I had 2 trees hit or come in the house, the area looks like a war zone. I’ll have to post pics later… 85% or more were without power. I just got mine back….54 degrees (F) inside 😦 . I’m thankful. 🙂 

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