Tag Archives: life

The Storm

Coming out of the storm was nearly as harsh as when it began, and it was an intense storm that gave so little warning.

An ER procedure and then just over 24 hours later, the near death unresponsive low oxygen state, and calling in estranged family – only for the reaction to be tornadic, and not the type you get warning of.  Instant and violent – he vented his hate, his fury, his rage on my husband.

Left broken, ice packs, EMS assess and urgings for treatment, my man – the man of the house – sat quietly with his pain.

The storm raged on in the minds and emotions, and then – he’s awake!  Low oxygen and 24 hours taking toll, this person is a shell of dad, not the same and great loss of functions suddenly.  Distrustful and displeased and confused.  The need for aid assist, the need for the estranged to access the life before it is gone, the need for safety for the whole family  is now swirling for purchase.

Nursing home – I had told him he could die here.  I never ever intended for him to go to a home.  Necessity ruled.  So the move was set in motion.  And the danger assessed, and mental pictures examined and felt.

We left our home and my dad in care of other family.  We were too tramatized to remain while the gears of paper spun.  Runaways, feeling like strangers exiled.   Silence was demanded so that family on hubby’s side was not alerted – no need to retaliate.  And this is where I finally hit my knees and cried out to YHVH, this is when I recognized that I owed confession.  I hoped for safety.

When access was finally made by the estranged – in the nursing home – we returned to reclaim our safe space.

Immediate needs were to remove dad’s presence, his belongings, his care needs, his treasures from our home.  Remove triggers.

Then set in place the handoff – all property now ensconced in one metal clad box, and his instructions stilll loud and clear ‘those things are mine until I am dead’ – we made terms clear on expidited ownership change for the metal box.

Then try to live – the eye of the storm is not calm, it’s subdued.  You know the pressure, the lingering eery feel of what’s likely is felt by all.  Daily.  But not for long.

Then the final.  And the estranged and his sister held dad as he died.

Then waiting.  Will this trigger?  How about that?  Which event is likely?  Then he is missing… not checked in at home… then he is reported found by an old friend, and close by.  Then waiting.  And planning a funeral by phone, trying to stay out of sight, and signing and paying and … then remaining home while my dad was recognized and lowered into the ground,  video taped for later viewing because view I must – I will need the closure.

stretched

Family dysfunction is everywhere.  We’re all touched by it in some manner.  Sometimes it takes everything you have, your money, your family, your heart, your life… and sometimes it comes out in the open and someone sees through the storm and into the brokenness, sees that a change is required.  Change is the only choice you get or it continues.

So we took down the noise makers stationed around the property hastily.  We removed the rakes from their bed on  the ground, put back the blocks and bricks and pails stationed as trip hazards.  We decided to take back sanity, to let go of fear – to tell terror that its time was had.

And we enjoyed a restful shabbat.

We’ll move forward, without relationships past – with better or new or fewer.  Those are determined by the participants.

Be the change.

Setbacks

Once several personal items stack themselves upon each other, one little inconsequential thing will create in me a monumental setback.

Lightbulbs. This time it was lightbulbs.

Still not back in the swing of brick and mortar shopping, I place orders online and go to pick them up. Sometimes items are deemed unavailable for pickup and move to the shipping status.

Thus the lightbulbs arrived via delivery to the house. Plainly marked on the box – pictures of lightbulbs across the front and back – it was obvious what was being delivered.

My dad reported that he had arrived at the door to meet the delivery person, as he has the prime perch to see what happens out the front of our home. Just as he opened the door he witnessed that the driver stood 10′ from the porch and launched the box, delivering it by air mail to the porch.

What the absolute fuck?!?!

Why.

My genuine optimism, my faith in the combined struggles and overall goodness of people was blasted by this one asshole who made an intentional act of destruction at my front door.

Now, every inconvenience, insult and putdown that I’ve stuffed and dealt with has been pulled out for inspection, infusing me with smallness and weakness and… depression.

I’ll suck it up and get back to doing the most awesome best I can with the hand that’s been dealt…

First step should obviously be to contact the delivery service and complain, then return the box… but I’m paralyzed by the feelings, the reluctance to make confrontation when I feel this overwhelming underwhelm. So the unopened box sits at the receiving table near the front door to accuse me of my inabilities to deal with life.

Setback, the box of setback.

Appearances

The thing about dying is that it’s a matter of health.

My dad arrived at our home following a hospital stay during the peak of COVID regulations.  We could not see him during the stay, and we were harassed by the nursing staff for calling daily.  We did not find out until after he arrived and we reviewed the discharge papers that he nearly died there.   It’s a long story involving his care and I’m saving it for a very well put letter to the hospital authorities once I’m no longer seething over it.

He arrived with the appearance of death hanging over him.  I summoned the siblings and let them know we were on short time.  Then my husband and I set about the act of nursing him and caretaking his property.  That was 7 weeks ago.

He had pre-qualified for hospice before the hospital, but had refused to accept a terminal diagnosis, so had settled for home health.  We didn’t know this until we asked about getting some medical equipment.

Now he is in hospice, safely ensconced in a hospital bed in his new ‘bedroom’ which was once our living room.  We’ve changed up our furnishings and set up his desk and PC in the spare bedroom and handed off our main bathroom for his needs.

He’s gone from near death to being nutritionally balanced and hydrated.  Before the hospital visit, he had lost track of doing the basics – proper food and fluid intake, taking his meds timely – and was not in a healthy environment as he had fired the housekeepers that I hired to take care of his house.

He can’t fire me, he’s stuck.  Hubby and I have become the groundskeepers, nursing aides, financial advisors, chefs and housekeepers, with other duties as assigned.  We do have some family assistance as well.

Death is still looming, but it has been delayed.  There will be quality first, health.  The mental health has vastly improved with the improved physical nutrients.  Now it’s up to the disease.  Poor health conditions are no longer driving this bus.

It appears that we will have a resident here for a while.

 

Struggle Bus

I don’t know what to say except that there’s always another something to take your breath away.

Retreat necessary for me, as I expect to be quite involved with end of life care for my dad.

I recognize that as painful as this is, it is an opportunity for much – and I intend to do this as best as I must.

I hope for this to be the absolute most pleasant option for him.

Peace out!

 

Breathe Through the Storm

Spring has sprung and the fireflies have arrived.  It feels early.  It’s only been days since the last freeze. . .

I watched one alight on the garden bed beam, and as I peered closer, it flashed wings at me with agitated antennae.  I took the hint and retreated back – and it was gone in that moment.  Absent.

We are in the midst of this storm of no precedence.  The unknown.  Varied in strength and strike and form.

The storm activity has been one of ‘take shelter’ here.  In tornado country we know how to be prepared for a short and harsh duration that may cause a term of duress… but this. . .

Prepare for taking care of family – too many in the scary category to comprehend.

Prepare to be home for extended periods…  write lists, revise lists, check lists.

The theme has been prepare.

Work was deemed essential.  Many hours were spent by the team to set up and roll out that particular preparation.  I and my office mates are nearly full remote now – a jerky transition wrought with change and chaos and frustration – then sprinkled with joy and anticipation from my perspective.  What I have oft longed for is now short term reality.

And so, after so many means of preparing in and around my own realm – I recognize, once I’ve slowed down, that I’ve gone bouncing and careening along this whole storm prep while moving over and through several stages of grief.

My emotions must also have been setting up buttresses of potential realities and … well … here we are.  I imagine you or someone you know has been staging through grief steps as well.

Fireflies have been spotted.  So have asparagus beetles.  I’m awaiting a particular wasp to cart in luggage and set up home base.

It’s been a while since I’ve been ‘present’ here.  I’m surprised to recognize that.  If you’ve been along for the telling, we moved a few years back, leaving established garden spaces behind.  But we’ve been busy here, building new spaces and options… and I had opportunity to .. inhale it ..  breathe it in.  Absorb it.

It’s good – we’re a good building team.

Greens are growing.  Life is abounding here.  Breathing space exists and just in time.

I hope this finds you well.  Recovering, or surviving, or staging the grief steps – no matter where you are, I hope you find well ..  are well, .. will be well.

Peace out.

Boundaries Redefined

There are times when it’s best not to publicize what’s going on.  Sometimes there aren’t words.  Sometimes the words would not accurately depict, they would just be an oozing of figurative ink – a blot, a blob, confusion.

I’ve just come through a stretch of such time.

Emotional haunts from time gone by will occasionally grasp our heart and soul with such force that we’ve no recourse but to submit, lay victim, and wait out the predatory-like clutch to release the hold on our seemingly lifeless remains.

Escaping from a seemingly skeletal and soul paining clasp, I’ve taken cleansing gulps of fresh air and perspective to find myself somewhat purged of what I had unwittingly stuffed into the dark forgotten crevices of memory.  Shaken those haunts out, I have.

One of the things that I believe, as a strictly Torah person, is that there is no hell except what we live through or else what we choose to accept in our lives.

Sometimes we choose our hell from a perspective of worthlessness; sometimes we are running furiously far away from all sense of authority, taking our own damn control and creating our hell by consequence of our own rebellious actions.  Sometimes we are born into a hell from which we don’t know enough to escape – or else we are able to glimpse outside of that hell and slowly build ourselves a new environment.

Many people know at least one of these variations of hell.  It’s the survivors of such who will understand me and mine.

I was born into an environment that was quickly erected by two hell survivors, a variant and much weakened form of hell in its own mutated form of normalcy – foundered with good intent, but lacking quality materials.  As a young adult, I ran gleefully and furiously from the control I perceived, and quickly defined a new hell for myself.  My construct was a chameleon hell – it would change structure depending on the variables presented and the characters introduced or dismissed.  I am thankful to say that I was able to lock in on a variation that was truly a functional and sturdy place, no hell perceived.

The final and most damage inducing hell was my own self-perception; what I had attached as my title, my label, stamped in the dark recesses – the center of my own personal value – my soul.  It would simmer in those recesses as I continued on in my new seemingly hell-less structure, quietly burbling and bubbling like an unsettling miasma of discord, raising its ugly head whenever trauma or drama arose and shucked me back into a repressed or depressed emotional state.

This is the hell that I forced myself to come to terms with over the past six months.  It is the hell that has bounced me in and out of perpetual shame and discontent for most of my life.  It was something that I had to uncover, discover, acknowledge, reach down deep and wrench out of myself, piece by ugly piece.  It was hard, it was emotional, and it was painful.

It was not depression.  It was different.  There was not the fog, the inability to express, the disconnect with routines and normalcy, the uncaring.  This was not an overlay, it was part of my construct.  It was f’ugly.

So – I’m back.  Moving slowly, and assessing damage.  Addressing the reality of me – who I am and what I am.  Solidly placing my feet on the ground, planting my resolve, defining and enforcing my boundaries.

Working from an inherent acceptance of being ‘less than’, I had resigned myself to relationship terms that healthy people would quickly assess and reject.  I became easily taken advantage of, taken for granted because I allowed such.

Stating boundaries and enforcing them causes some damage, some rifts, some kicked shins, so to speak.  At work I get surprised looks, but general acceptance.  At home, there have been tense moments at times, but things get talked out, worked out.  Boundary enforcement with friends runs the risk of severed ties, to this I can readily attest.  One of my relationships may not recover – it is one of my longest friendships, forged in the midst of my chameleon hell.

It all comes back to my acceptance of or rejection of the hell to which I had succumbed.

I choose to live to love myself, to value who and what I am, and to live life outside of the hell that I have unknowingly known.

I am ever so thankful for choices, one of the gifts of Almighty.

The Tapestry of Meaning

Fear of aging, fear of economy and country, fear of the unknown, fear of those who don’t look like or think like us… the drivers of fear keep our consumerism fed, our resources hungrily gobbled and maintain wedges between us that are easily manipulated and used for purposes that do not represent us – not us as a whole.

Humanity is not represented by those fear drivers.  We’re not the sum of the strife that gets drummed up by power hungry, or newsworthy or even news hungry people – no, we’re something entirely different.

We’re more.  We’re better.

We may suck at times – but we should give ourselves permission to suck.  That’s freedom.  Not being constrained by what we’re told is normal, who or what we’re told to be.

I had a bout of what I think feeds this yesterday, as I continued to be a vegetable through the evening. I wondered if I were wasting life, what was I doing that had any meaning.

It’s really easy to inspect that in a small sphere, and forget about the whole makeup of you. Yes, yesterday and for the past two weeks, I have been wasting life, doing not much to count for anything in my home.

Surviving.

But dang – sometimes that’s just what we need after being buffeted by sustained winds.

Stop.

Listen to the silence.

Soak up the nothingness.

Veg out.

The point I came to is that we’re trained to forget that lives in general are a tapestry of worth.  When you closely inspect a slow segment of time, the threads look so similarly woven and predicable that it’s hard to see the artwork, the beauty, the joy, the meaning. But those threads connect the whole and without them, there would be no continuum.

Why do we think we have to be so gosh darn important all the friggin’ time?

Aging spurs an impetus, a drive to do something that matters – when the truth is that we mattered already.  I think that’s where many unhappy people are now – evaluating value, and wanting to find importance in life.

We need to remember things we taught others in the past that threaded through their lives and helped others find little successes with that learning.

We need to remember kind things we’ve done, and kindnesses extended to us.

People we’ve touched, and people who’ve touched us.

Accomplishments, tiny though they may seem in the looking back – but how huge the ripples in the whole.  Those threads.  What matters.

No use looking for the pot of gold…  It’s been found finely threaded through our tapestry of life.

We need to be able to stop and visualize it… and be content with just being.

 

R & R Observations

Finally, time in the garden and the urge to record.  Snapshots of the new home’s garden before and after.

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Cleared corner, prepped for the build

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Path and beds laid and planted – then came the rains…

Bed of hungarian peppers, rhubarb, choke berry, asparagus and heather

Inset path of ajuga, plantain and sorrel, etc

Beet greens and chard, etc

Heather

Pathway corner with ajuga

Creeping thyme from pathway

View under the rhubarb

Much awaited rainbow chard

Hungarian wax peppers

Cat in the carrot patch

View to the side garden

Plantain path between planters

Garden visitors

Ah, my favorite spaces.

 

Mid-Life: Crisis or Crux

Once again I find myself addressing the void, the lack of posts, the unspoken pieces.

There has been a lot of activity in the last year or so; so much to excuse the silence.   A lot of accomplishments, a lot of hard work, a lot of necessary doings – and a lot of deep thinking.

We often hear about mid-life crises – those defining moments when a person in their advancing years puts in a hearty attempt to stop the clock, to return to their youth in defiance of the advance.  I’ve witnessed this phenom, multiple times.  I’ve also dabbled with it off and on myself, when surrounded by youthful coworkers.

I’ve decided, however, that this is a thinly woven cover-up for the reality of mid-life.

Reality?  Mid-life is a crisis, a crux – a very poignant step where you find yourself staring at hard truths.

Who am I under all of this detritus?  Now that I’ve forged a path, albeit paved with a mish-mash variety of materials that ramble hither and thither with only the thread of staid peoples flowing constantly through, I stand at this juncture looking around and find…  myself.  That’s not what I went looking for long ago – in fact, I can assure you that I was actually running furiously from self.  Surprise!   And the best part?  I like me.  Who-da-thunk?

What are my priorities?  Having accomplished minimal security, in the paid-off home and accouterments, I am now free to look around and find that family is once again at the top of the list.  Except that I find myself pulled in both directions – toward adult children and their families and toward my remaining parent in his advanced years.  I’ve been in similar circumstance, while raising the children and caring for my handicapped mother.  But I had the understated stake on youth at that point, and was able to keep multiple plates spinning with nary a drop.

Where do we go from here?  Youth is gone.  There’s no recapture of the strength and stamina – and we will simply ignore the elephant in the room, ol’ beauty and the beast who now peers back from the glass.  The priorities are going to take a toll on us, that’s just a fact we’ll have to accept – and we’re not yet in a position to leave the work world, to free up time to better fit all of the pieces.

So my synopsis is that a mid-life crisis is not as we’ve always presumed.  Truly, it’s a point in life where we find ourselves split in three directions, filling three positions, nurturing three households.  We are the crux, the point between the past and the future.

Our goal?  To persevere.  And to do it well enough that our future selves may look back with fond memories, and peer out to see no longer ourselves, but the results of our hard work, our future generations.

 

Adjusting Positively to Change

As time trickles seemingly more and more quickly through the lifeline hourglass, I find myself once again writing a catch-up post.

World events keep me alternately pressing my head, yoga style, into that hole in the ground, then rising, gasping with tear-filled eyes at the horrors I see played out around and to the globe we call home, tinted with the blood-stained, fear-driving scenarios of our future.

I subscribe to positive news feeds, to keep some semblance of balance – yet even these often confound me.  How are many man-made intrusions to Almighty’s design considered to be ‘good’?

With all of this,  I ground myself by thinking of NOW.  The people around me, strangers, next door neighbors, co-workers, friends and family – many of these who I consider the silent majority.  That portion of us who are living our lives to produce as much positive and kindness and simple self-rewards to sustain ourselves as the current convenience/industrial/regulation realm will allow.

Sure, there are outliers – those who spew hatred with their political name-calling, and those who prey on the weak, and those who regularly beat the war drums – and these are the fodder for headlines and blankets that skew the social networks.

But my day-to-day interactions are counter to this ugly racist/divisive/far-left/far-right social overlay that seems to define the majority.

I hope I’m correct – that the silent majority is as I believe, the good still there, the submissive and unspoken until awoken might that is truly indicative of humanity…

And on that note, I find myself awaiting from afar an increase to the positive – a new addition to the family!  A grandson will soon be born, a brother to the beautiful granddaughter who is now 3+.

Attuned to boys, having only raised sons, I am purely excited for this new arrival.  Another smattering of cells that were once part of me is to reside in a tiny new being – a mighty fine piece of new inheritance to survive me.  Praise Almighty!

A granddaughter and a grandson – these two little people are my hope for better, purer things in the future.  These two little beings that I don’t see but a fraction of what time I would prefer to spend with them – these assemblies of perfections and imperfections composed by their parents and all who came before them, these are the best things of life.

This Bubbe will not attend the birth or the first greeting due to a very recent job change, but count on me for a visit next weekend!

The recent job change was a surprise.  I knew I had overdone my time at my current position – but seemed resolved to continue to retirement, assuaging myself with the perks of bonuses and posh office space, flexible work schedules and rare public interactions.

Then I felt pushed too far, and the well-timed surprise recruiter contact regarding a new opportunity sent me back into the market.

I had my self-confidence restored with three job offers, from which I chose… a gardening service company!  Already, some of my physical ailments related to high stress are resolving.  The only true negative of the new position is the inability to take time off to attend the birth of my grandson.  But he won’t know that unless he’s looking back many years from now.

Until then, I’ll be working on providing him with positive examples.  🙂