Be Careful What You Wish For

So I dared 2015 to keep me down, and as my title states, be careful what you wish for. 2015 took my dare and ran with it.

I did start a few pieces of art, but nothing to post as of yet. Instead after the New Year’s pat on the back for creating something, I find myself struggling to create. New Year’s Eve my sister had to take our elderly father to the hospital. He has pneumonia, and worse yet has been diagnosed with some severe neurological problems. I won’t go into detail, I respect his privacy, but it is never the less a blow I hadn’t counted on. What is even more difficult is to be so very far away from him. I am not in the financial position to go. I have had some offers from my daughter, and one of my sisters to help, but I am choosing to hope for the best. For me that would mean my dad moving here as soon as he is able. I know it won’t always be easy, but it is the least I can do for him.

My dad worked hard his whole life, and he did it all to give us a better life in this country, his chosen home. I don’t know of anyone who loves Ireland as much as he, but he knew there was a better future somewhere else. He left Ireland for Canada, and Canada for Chicago. When he came to this country he talked his way into a job driving a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus. He had never driven one before, but he had a pregnant wife and two kids, and he needed the work. He always told a hilarious story about driving the bus down an alley in downtown Chicago. He was stopped by a police officer who took one look at my dad, who was clearly very young, heard the brogue, knew he was fresh “off the boat”, laughed and let him go. Later he learned a new trade; he became a painter and wallpaper hanger. He was one of the best. For a number of years he was “the painter in the zoo”, at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I have fond memories of days spent there. When Jessica was a baby, my sister and I would bring Jess and my nephew John to have lunch with Papa at the Children’s Zoo. Just a few years ago while in his seventies, he cut in a portion of a wall for me. His normally shaking hand as steady as a rock while he held that brush. He often worked two jobs to meet the private Catholic school tuition for my sisters and myself. My mother worked as a waitress from four in the afternoon sometimes until two a.m. to help fill the gaps. I don’t know how they did it, but they did. Below is a photo of the First National Bank of Chicago, sixty stories high. My dad painted the outside of it, once dangling from its side from a safety harness when scaffolding broke. He was fearless, strong, and would go to the ends of the earth to take care of us. Now he is old, frail, and lost without my mother. As a friend said, “Sampson is lost without his Delilah.” How true.

1st national bank

So 2015, I offer my deepest apologies. Can we start again? I just want my dad to recover, and to hopefully have him spend some time here with me in sunny Southern California. I have lots of plans to keep him busy, including a few little painting jobs that will hopefully bring back some good memories. I love him dearly, and miss him terribly. For now all I can do is wait and hope, and when the time is right to head to Chicago and bring him back with me.

One more photo from happier times. Dad outside the Lincoln Park Conservatory with Jessica as a baby.

007

Get well soon Dad, I love you.

 

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A Year Of Possibilities

Happy New Year one and all. Another new year, another new beginning. Another chance to hope for better things ahead. We started out 2014 with Dan still unemployed. We started out worried, yet hopeful, that somehow, someway, better things lay ahead. Not everything came out as well as we hoped. A job that has definitely had its ups and downs, but employment none the less. We started 2014 with no idea of changes coming our way, including our daughter and son-in-law moving to the other side of the country, and our son moving out. To say that 2014 left me adrift is barely hitting the nail on the head. With Jessica and John so far away, Brian gone from home, and from enjoying Dan’s company every day for sixteen months to barely seeing him at all (thanks to a one hundred and ninety-four mile round trip daily commute), I’ve been feeling lost. I miss the kids. I miss Dan, but more so appreciate every day what he does for us. I had hoped by now to be moved somewhere closer, and to be gainfully employed myself, but as we all know life can be the ultimate magic act, taking hopes and dreams and making them disappear right in front of our eyes. I am no longer sure of my place in the world. One thing I have learned in this life of mine is that only I am responsible for my happiness. I think I forgot that for a while. December kept me busy in fairyland, but while my hands were working, my mind was thinking. I don’t want a job. No, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work, but rather that I don’t want to work for someone else. I have all the employment that I need in my hands.  I need to begin filling my time, as well as my bank account, with what I do best. The amount of creative things that I can do is quite impressive (if I do say so myself!) So 2015 I dare you to keep me down. Life, I’m old enough to know the secret to a lot of magic acts, I’ve looked behind the curtain. No disappearing acts this year.

Just before I sat down to write I began my first project for the year. A few months ago I stated that I wanted to start a new 365 project, then my engine stalled (I think it was all the glitter), fairies were occupying my every waking moment. New year, and the holiday rush behind me, there are NO more excuses. Commence the creating. Whether I make it back later tonight with something to show remains to be seen, but I will be working, I will no longer be drifting, I will be anchoring myself to my life’s salvation, art. Here’s to a good year ripe with hope and possibility, and making my life better for myself. If things go as planned you might all just be hearing from me a little more often, and in the process have some beautiful work to look at.

Just in case…one of my photographs from here in the hills of Temecula.

599 b&w

Big Changes Ahead

Back from Fairyland. No time to write in the last two weeks, the weeks and weeks of fairy making have left me with a sore shoulder from crouching over, and a house full of sparkle, but I’m not complaining. I made enough money to finance Christmas. I’ve learned a lot in the last year and a half, and gratitude for the little things is on the top of the list. We packed up this house months ago, packing much of the clutter in order to make the house ready to sell. I haven’t seen much of my “stuff” in months, and the truth is that I’m not missing it so much. (Although when we went to our rented storage space to get the Christmas decorations I was admiring many of my own belongings. I told Dan I’d like to shop my own storage locker.) We are learning to live with less, and since we will be downsizing that’s a good thing.

It’s been a rather strange holiday season so far. Our son moved out this year, and our daughter and son-in-law are happily ensconced in New York. I found myself struggling for a little Christmas spirit. Brian has agreed to spend Christmas Eve in the guest room, and I am so very grateful for that. This will be our first Christmas without Jessica. Sometimes it seems strange that she is so far away. With all the means of communication available we talk a lot, text almost daily, Facebook, Skype, I even sent her some old-fashioned snail mail. I still miss her terribly. There’s nothing like seeing the people you love face to face.

One of the faces I miss very much belongs to my Dad. He is eighty-two now. I haven’t seen him since September of 2013. Our finances being what they are, and his health making it hard for him to travel, we have been be unable to see each other. I talk to him every day, actually several times every day. He is my first call every morning as soon as I wake, and I am the last voice he hears every night before he goes to bed, and sometimes many, many calls in-between. He knows that I will answer when I see it is him. He is having a harder time remembering things, and suffers from much confusion. Lately he has been having episodes of paranoia. I think his days of living alone are through. Dan and I decided this weekend to see if we can move him here with us. The timing seems right, we will be looking for a new home once this one sells, so I will now be looking for a home that we can share with him. I’m not sure if we can work out all the details, but I plan on doing my best to make it happen. My mom has been gone for more than seven years, and my sisters have been incredible in caring for him. I have the luxury of having a talent that allows me to work from home. I hope to move him from Chicago to California. No more long cold winters, and for him the security of having one of his “girls” around all the time. It will be a huge change in our lives, but one that I feel a call to do. It is the least I can do.

Like I said, I’ve learned a lot in the last year and a half. Coming close to losing everything makes you really understand what matters in your life. It’s the people that we love, not the things that we own. Just remember that when you open “stuff” this Christmas.

Behind The Mask: Faceless Hatred

So here I go once again, just when I thought my words about words were over and done with. Not so fast. On Sunday in the New York Times magazine there was an article about a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court. It is about the 1st Amendment, and the individual right to free speech. Seems like a clear-cut case right? It isn’t. It seems a marriage dissolved, the male half of the couple went onto social media and posted about wanting to kill his ex-wife, he actually went into some detail, and more than that he made a video. He claims that he was venting anger and frustration, that he never actually intended to follow through on any of what he wrote. Meanwhile, the ex-wife was very frightened, enough to take out an order of protection. She does not feel that he should be able to terrorize her even if it is only through words. He served some jail time, and is now suing for his right to free speech. (This is a very simplified explanation of the case.) The case that will be presented to the Supreme Court is asking this question: What is more important, the right of the individual to express what he feels? Or the rights of the person that those words focus on who lives in fear of the threat?

I don’t think there is one among us who hasn’t said something in anger that we aren’t proud of, or wish we could take back. I’m pretty sure we have all also been rather casual in tossing around the word “hate”, “I hate him.” or “I hate you.” Sometimes in jest, sometimes in reference to an actor in a movie, someone we don’t even know, but for some reason there is something about that person you find distasteful. We don’t really hate them. I think for most people if they really did hate someone they would have a difficult time saying it to the person’s face. This is my issue with what this man did, and for that matter what people in my own life have done. I mentioned the family member in my last two posts who was saying hateful things. Do I really think he hates my husband? No I don’t. Social media have become society’s mask to hide behind. How easy it is to say mean and hateful things when you don’t have to look someone in the face. It makes bullying easier, it makes racism easier, it makes sitting in judgment easier. Think about it. Isn’t that the reason that a particular organization wears white hoods covering their faces? Would you have the nerve to walk up to someone you barely know and call them a coward and a liar? I am asking all of us to remember that behind that screen lies a human heart that can forever hold the scars of what it’s mind sees and reads.

I ask because someone I know has just had such an experience on Facebook. He wrote a remark on someone’s post. He did it because the person was mistaken, it was not his place to do so, and I have told him that. It didn’t end there. Someone else that it had nothing to do with joined in. The person I know sent a  private message that man and questioned why, but told this man he was doing it via private message as to not have a public discourse on a page that belongs to someone else. What he got in return was a message calling him a coward for not posting publicly, and calling him a liar. He is neither. He has not responded, although he wants to, but I have told him to let it go. This person doesn’t know him. I can only assume through connections that he may have heard things that aren’t true, but I can’t be sure. Fueling ignorance gives people more to feed on. Do I want to say something? You bet I do (Obviously I have a lot to say about a lot of things….), but I won’t.

As I said before, I don’t want hatred or anger in my life. I am just deeply disturbed by those who hide behind the mask. Why must people resort to name calling? When my husband was dealing with his family member he asked for facts. He never got any. He got name calling. What is wrong with old-fashioned debate? What happened to, “I believe you are mistaken for these reasons…fact…fact…fact.” In return, “I see your point, but were you aware of…fact…fact…fact.” It worked that way for a long time. I am aware that even facts can be skewed to one’s own perspective, but at least no one was calling anyone else a liar.

There is a loss of decorum in our society, a loss of self-respect, class, and by that I mean to present oneself to the world in our best sense, through the way we act, dress, and speak. It is becoming increasingly easier to spread untruth, to spread vile words, to spew hatred. I’m on the fence with the Supreme Court decision. I do believe in free speech, very much so as I write what I believe here on these pages, but I also feel a duty to not use my words to hurt people. Free speech was meant to make us a better people, a greater Nation, by giving us the right to criticize that Nation.  It was never meant as a blank check to use as a means to bully teenagers into killing themselves, or to cause fear in another because of anger and frustration, it was never intended to be used to dehumanize our fellow citizen. We live in a country that guarantees us the right to speak, but we should also as citizens not just of this Country, but as citizens of the world at large, use our words carefully. I sometimes write of spirituality and love, today I share wise words from some who are far wiser than I:

Matthew 15:10-11

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Sahih Muslim

He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should either utter good words or better keep silence.

Jewish Proverb

A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.

Dalai Lama

“Silence is sometimes the best answer.”

In the end I guess I do have a few more words, and quite possibly some wise ones at that.

Jacqueline Zuckerman

If you could plant a field of seeds would you sow? Roses or weeds? Remember that words are like seeds, once sown they take root in the hearts and minds of others.

And with that, I have no more words, I only offer you something lovely to plant in your mind for today.

Sunset over Temecula on Sunday, just breathtaking.IMG_1053

Giving Thanks

Last year about his time I found myself repeatedly saying that 2014 would be a better year. That didn’t exactly turn out to be true. Yes, Dan did get a job, but it got just a little too close to the edge for my comfort level, things aren’t nearly the way I had hoped, we still need to move because his job is too far away, but that being said I am truly thankful for many, many things. At the risk of being cliché I will give you my top ten.

10. We came awfully close to losing our home, but we didn’t, and we will celebrate that tonight.

9. For all the friends and family who reached out in our hour of need.

8. Despite the weird and unexplained aches and pains that come with age, we are healthy.

7. Dan’s job. It isn’t great, but at least he has one.

6. My friends. I’ve got a couple of really good ones, and that is invaluable.

5. For my sisters, for the one who fought and won the fight against cancer, the one who makes me laugh until I cry, and the one who is always supportive of my artistic endeavors.

4. My Dad. Still feisty, alive and kicking. Sometimes maddeningly frustrating, sometimes very funny, sometimes incredibly sweet.

3. My son in-law John. He loves my daughter and makes her incredibly happy. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

2. My amazing kids. Jessica has grown into a beautiful,intelligent, kind, and lovely woman. I am so proud. Brian, who is so funny, quirky, intelligent and thoughtful. Again I am proud. I always said when they were small that I didn’t care if they were rich and successful, it was more important to me to raise nice people. I did it, I’m pretty proud of myself.

1. If you know me, then you know where this is going. Dan. There aren’t enough words for what I feel for my husband. Its been 25 years of marriage. I hear marriage is work, maybe a little in the beginning, but now? Wonderful beyond words.  I give thanks for him every single day.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Maybe 2015 will be the one….

The Theory Of Three

It seems I am obsessing once again. My last post about a family member is still bugging me. I get obsessed the way some people get fleas, it itches and itches, and never seems to go away, unless of course something new happens for me to obsess over.

My mother always said that everything comes in threes. If there was a plane crash you can bet she was waiting for two more. We are Catholic, and Irish so there is the legend of St. Patrick and the shamrocks that represent the Holy Trinity. There is the rule of thirds in photography and art. If you are a collector then you know that three makes a collection. If you are a driver’s ed student there is of course the dreaded three-point turn. I started thinking about this today as I was driving through a parking lot. What triggered my thoughts were the people crossing through the lot as I stopped to let them pass, and how this can be related to people in our every day lives.

There is the apologetic one. You know, the person who scurries as fast as possible as if apologizing for getting in your way, head down, quick steps, glancing nervously sideways to make sure you haven’t changed your mind and are going to plow them down any moment. Then there are those I consider “normal”. They appreciate that you’ve stopped, they give a quick smile and a wave, and continue on their way. Finally there are those that act superior. They step in front of your vehicle nose in air, refuse to look your way, and stroll leisurely (sometimes on an angle!) in front of your car, as if they are the most important person in the world and you are an inconvenience in their day. I began to think that maybe people come in threes as well. There are of course existing socioeconomic groupings, Rich, middle-class, and poor, but I think in general the rule of thirds can be applied to many of us. There are the life of the party people, friendly, out-going individuals, who seem to fit in everywhere, former cheer leaders, high school quarterback types, they ooze charisma, and when you stand next to the finer examples of them you feel horribly inadequate. (I say finer examples, because aside from the rule of thirds, there also exists a sliding scale, some people are on the bottom of their group, some are on the top.) Then there are what I shall refer to as the “Norms”. Regular people who try to live their best life, they are friendly, nice, will go out of their way to help in any way they can, feel more comfortable in a small group, and don’t enjoy all the attention. Applying my sliding scale once again, there are people in every group that bear traits from another. Finally, there are the people I will refer to as the “Eeyores”, you know Winnie the Pooh’s com padre. Nothing is ever good enough, everyone is out to get them, cheat them, they never get a break, think everyone else has it better, I could go on, but I’m sure you may know an Eeyore, and understand what I’m talking about.

Back to my obsessive point. Religion. It can be a wonderful mysterious loving thing. It can also be an excuse for doing the wrong things. My three people rule again. There are people like me. I have my beliefs, I live what I hope is a life that includes doing good things for others, and caring for others needs. Loving my family, my friends, trying to be a good member of humanity at large, but not feeling the need to shout what I feel and believe off the rooftops, or to force what I believe on others. I am a firm believer in “to each his own.” No one knows what is going on behind the closed doors of another house. No one knows what resides in the hidden parts of the individual hearts and minds of others. I say, “Do not judge, less thee be judged.” Returning to the family member who made the remark about Dan going to hell for not accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I have a question. (Not for him in particular but to the universe at large.) What if say you were born into a family that practices Judaism? Are you wrong for believing what you were taught and raised up in? Are your parents and ancestors liars? The answer is an unequivocal no. What if you were born in one of those South American tribes that are deep within a jungle and never heard of Jesus? Anyone? Locked out of heaven because you didn’t get the memo? My husband asked his brother at the time if a man who harmed a child, someone who did a horrible thing, but who accepted Jesus was going to heaven? He said, “Yes.” ( I say again here, for that man who is guilty of harming a child? Hate what you did, I can be angry, I can have intolerance for the act, but not my place to judge. I don’t know where you came from, I don’t know if you are mentally ill, or if you were a tortured child yourself. God will decide.) But Dan, Dan who stops to help old people in grocery store parking lots, who can’t pass a homeless person without giving them whatever he can, or buying them a sandwich, Dan who is a great and loyal husband, a very loving and giving father, he’s going to hell. That would be my number two kind of religious person. The kind that hold themselves above others because they believe. They wield their faith like a hammer ready to pound it down in judgement against others. I envy the faith that some people have. Mine tends to be a little shaky at times, but what I don’t agree with is the superiority complex that sometimes is part of the package. There are amongst that group some who spit fire about God and the bible, but then would deny aid to those in need. Senator______(fill in the blank). Finally, the worst in my book. (And that would just be in my book, my personal opinion, trying not to judge, but sometimes….) The religious zealot who uses the words of their God, whomever that God should be, to twist them in to a crusade of harming others in God’s name. I’m not judging here, I’m right, you’re wrong. We are all God’s creatures, even the ones who don’t believe exactly like you do. Not your place to decide who gets to stay and who needs to go. Stop hurting people, stop killing children, stop claiming to be acting in the name of God when you do horrendous things. No God, I mean no God at all, wants us to hurt one another. Religion and faith are about peace and love. I have mentioned these wise words before, they come from my dad (and as always must have a soccer reference. I’m paraphrasing here), “It doesn’t matter what color jersey you are wearing, as long as you play the game.” He was talking about faith and spirituality, and I’m with him. I don’t care who you believe in or how, that is up to you. I believe in a loving God, a forgiving God, a God who knows what is in your heart and in mine. What I do care about is when people hurt each other no matter what the weapon of choice, a sharp tongue can make a deeper cut sometimes than a sharp sword, remember that.

 

Putting An End To Hatred

Before I say anything I want to say that I am not above reproach.  I make mistakes, I hurt people (though never intentionally), I say thoughtless things without thinking, in other words I am human. I am also angry this morning. We have a family member who has upset me. I will only say that he knows who he is. I am taking him to task publicly because I know there are others out there like him. He doesn’t agree with the political beliefs held by our family. That is his right and his privilege, as it is our right and our privilege to feel what we feel and believe. Yet this individual believes it is somehow justified to call my husband names, to spew hatred, to try to demean those beliefs that my husband holds dear. By the way, he calls himself a Christian. The Christ I know and believe in is a man of love, of charity, of kindness, of self-sacrifice for his human brother and sister. I am amazed that someone would call himself a believer, a follower, and find it acceptable to attack his family member in such a manner. You know who you are. I am ashamed for you. The vile and inappropriate remarks that have been leveled verbally, via email, and by text are deplorable.  I am asking you to stop, I am asking you to remember your faith, I am asking you to show your family member some respect. I have sent a text to this person this morning because I picked up my husband’s phone to call my elderly father, and I saw the message that was sent to Dan. My husband is a good, decent, loving, hardworking man. He is kind and compassionate. This person also told my husband a few years ago that he is condemned to hell because he hasn’t chosen Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I have news for you, not your call. While my husband is not a man of faith he lives his life in a manner that God would want.  I am asking, no I am telling you, and everyone like you who thinks it is OK to present yourself to the world as a Christian, but to privately express yourself in a less than Christ-like way, that you so don’t get it. Maybe you need to reread that bible of yours. Hatred doesn’t work, judgement doesn’t work, the only thing that works, the only things that matter in this life are love, compassion, faith, and family. If you wish to continue to be part of mine you will stop. I don’t want another word of hatred to cross my door. You are someone who my husband respected and admired, he was mistaken. I will no longer allow you to hurt the person who means the most to me in this world. As I told you via text this morning, he is not “stupid”, he chose me.

If you are not my family member, but any of this rings a bell, think about it. Examine your own behavior. As I said above, I am not above reproach. I simply feel that there are those who are mistaken in their beliefs, I also believe it is not my place to judge them. I do not hate them, I don’t demean them, I don’t stoop to inexcusably childish name calling. I try to live my life caring for those I love, but also caring for the less fortunate. I am asking everyone who reads this to remember the season, remember what it is about, remember that you shouldn’t treat someone else in a manner that you would not want to be treated. I will also say that even if you are not a Christian there is the way that Jesus asked us to live our lives. There are ways in many religions that speak to the core of who we all should be, loving, kind, compassionate, and caring human beings. It is the way we should all live, believers or not.

Obsessing Once Again

It’s me again. Have I mentioned that I obsess? Last night I wrote about making the realtor cry. When I said I didn’t feel good about it I wasn’t kidding. It isn’t who I am. I do have a horrendous temper, but it doesn’t lie close to the surface, it is deep within me. When I was a kid and my dad was getting mad he would say, “The worm is turning.” I guess in that way I am much like him, but the truth is that I don’t want the worm to turn. It doesn’t feel good to get that angry and upset. It was never my intention to have someone leave my house in tears. I would blame some of what I’m feeling on Catholic guilt (actually probably a lot of what I’m feeling), but there is also the fact that I am really one of the nicest people you could meet. I am compassionate, loving, and generous to a fault. I don’t want to be the angry person. I went to bed feeling really bad last night. I woke at 2:15 in the morning feeling troubled and stressed. Even though the woman who came here last night presented herself with intentions other than the truth, I feel bad for upsetting her. I told Dan this morning that I think I vented a little frustration at her last night. He on the other hand doesn’t feel bad at all. He told her prior to coming to our house that she shouldn’t try to ask to list our house. I had told her myself that it wouldn’t happen, I had told her several times in fact. Part of what really got to me last night was the callous way she offered us what she called an “option”. I have probably talked to upwards of a dozen realtors at this point. About half have heard me say that my friend will get the listing and then quit asking. The other half try to convince me that real estate and friendship don’t mix and make their pitch to get the listing. What made the difference last night was that she knew my friend had buried her dad earlier in the day. It was heartless, and then she tells me that only God knows what is in her heart. My friend is from Illinois, I grew up in Chicago, she at the complete opposite end of the state. She has no family here. Actually that isn’t true, she is part of my family. We have been friends for several years. I am a very protective mom, and while we are a little too close in age to say she is like one of my kids, she is like a younger sister to me. We have been through much together, and we will be through even more…together. I wish I could shake this. I have considered calling an offering an apology, but in the end what she was trying to do wasn’t very nice, and it would have hurt my friend. So I obsess.

It is later in the day and quite frankly my day hasn’t been good. I enjoyed some one on one with my dear friend Theresa this morning and into the afternoon. While we were together my mind was occupied, but later I still found myself feeling unsettled. I can’t undo last night, but I think I learned a lesson from it. I need to listen a little closer to my inner voice, the one that told me that I shouldn’t have let her come over. I always want to think the best of people. I want to believe that their intentions are what they say they are, but in the end people are people. I sometimes think even people with the best of hearts lose sight of what the right choice is when there is a dollar sign attached.

Still later yet…I am letting go of a little of my worry. I spent the evening making a gift for my dad. It isn’t for any other reason than that there are many nights that he breaks my heart. He misses my mother more than I can say. He tells me that he talks to her every night. Theresa and I worked on crafting projects this morning involving photos and fabric. Last year while I was in Chicago visiting my dad I was looking through an old box of cards. The inscriptions to my parents from each other touched me very much. I grabbed my cell phone and took photos of all of them. I printed one on fabric for this pillow, along with photos of my parents together through the years. I know he will love this. Finally an art project of sorts to post, a little something for my dad to take to bed with him at night. Working on this pillow took my mind off my obsessive worrying. There’s nothing like doing something for someone else to make me feel better.IMG_1176

Life Moves On

I have friend, she landed in Paris this morning. I have another who is burying her dad today. One friend facing probably one of the worst days of her life, and the other experiencing immense happiness. The world never stops. Sunday I went to a concert, but as we drove there I thought about the friend of mine who just that morning had lost her dad. I was reminded of when my mother died. I remember thinking about how in a single moment my life was changed forever, yet for the rest of the world outside my family life was continuing on as normal. I remember thinking, “How can this be? Shouldn’t everyone know that a beautiful person had just left this earth?”, but here I was on the way to a concert, my friend’s world changed forever, mine continuing on. It’s a strange place to be. You know your life will never be the same, but the people who see you on the street have no idea of the profound loss you’ve just experienced. For the friend that is burying her dad, actually her step-dad (you know those unsung heroes that step into a family and make all the difference in the world?), I am sure she is in a similar place to where I was. I think I have posted this poem before, or at the very least mentioned it. I heard it in the movie Four Weddings and A Funeral and it stuck with me since:

1

It’s been seven years since I lost my mom. When my friend sent a text to let me know her dad had passed I cried. I cried for her loss, but also for my own. Reopening a wound a little. I still wonder about the world that continues on without my mom. I still ache to her voice, to wrap my arms around her, to give her one more kiss. Monday was a little cold here. I grabbed a scarf from my drawer, it was my mother’s. It still smelled of smoke, hairspray, and of her perfume. I haven’t washed it in all the time I’ve had it, and I never will. It carries traces of her and if that is all I can have I will treasure it forever.

To my friend in Paris. I love Paris, I hope you will love it as much as I did. Treasure that you are there with someone you love, I hope you have thousands of beautiful memories.

To my friend who is burying her dad. I think I’ve told you more than once, my mom knew how much I loved her. In some small way that helps. Your dad knew you loved him. He knows you are a fine and good woman. Dark skies ahead, but time truly helps, focus on the good stuff, the love, the laughter, even the stuff that annoyed the heck out of you. It’s life, it’s moving on, it will continue to move on, it will be a little emptier, but he will live on in your heart and mind. He has left this world with the gift of your love and the love of your family, and in return has left some love of his own. Prayers are with you all today.

 

Before I end this post a word about stepfathers. My husband is one, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Like my friends dad he made sure that my daughter knew he loved her. Most stepfathers love all of their children, not just the ones that are “blood” relatives. Stepfathers usually end up in the movies as creepy guys who are up to no good, when in everyday life they are men made of something special. It isn’t easy to step into a family, and when your stepchild loves you immensely it means you have done something really right. When your stepchild refers to you as “Dad” it means you have crossed the boundary of blood lines and brought something wonderful into the life of someone else. I’m not forgetting the step-moms either. My daughter has a really terrific one named Valerie, who is one of the finest women I know, and my very dear friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better influence in Jessica’s life.

Life will move on. Stop breathe, appreciate, offer gratitude, and most of all love. I never want someone I know to leave this earth not knowing what they mean to me.

She Speaks

After a year of blogging every single day, and then a couple of times a week, it might seem like I am running out of things to say. That isn’t true of course, although I am much less of a “talker” than most. I am comfortable in my own silence (and even more comfortable in the silence of some others…) The truth is that things haven’t changed. Our life is still on hold as we try to sell our home. At the risk of offending some very dear friends (who happen to be decent human beings and realtors), I will say that we are beginning to feel a bit like shark bait for the local realtors. We continue to have people contact us about our home, always starting out as if they have a possible buyer, ask lots of questions and then go for the kill. When I explained to a caller the other day that I had a realtor in line, a best friend in line for the sale of our home should we decide to go that route, she began to badger me on the whys and hows of why in her opinion, “That just doesn’t work.” I explained that my dear friend is away for family medical reasons. I explained that I had already made the promise to my friend that the listing would be hers. I explained about a bad realtor experience back in Chicago that made me wary. None of that mattered. She simply ignored everything I said and told me that I needed to have an “open mind” when her boss came to preview my property. I was losing my temper (which is never, ever a good thing for the person on the other end of it), I was trying to be as pleasant as possible, but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. If this particular caller had her way I would be greeting my returning friend with, “Sorry your family member was gravely ill, by the way our friendship of nine years means nothing, and I’m giving someone else my house to list.” I actually thanked this person for her professionalism (which she wasn’t), but I find myself in a very awkward position. I want to tell these people exactly what I think of them and their “ethics”, but if I do that I risk alienating them even farther. I just don’t understand. Why is my need to sell my own house such a bad thing? We are offering compensation to the buyer’s realtor. We don’t expect these people to work for nothing, but not a single realtor in the area has brought a client to our home. One realtor went as far as telling us that we weren’t worth his time. Since when is a paycheck of nearly ten thousand dollars not worth someones time? We aren’t against someone earning a living, but we are people who had very little income for sixteen months and need to keep as much of our money as we can for ourselves. I’m angry and frustrated. I want and need to move ahead with our life, but I am also as stubborn as they come. So I will sit in my beautiful home with my heels dug in and wait for the buyer to find us without any help from anyone else, because ten thousand dollars is definitely worth my time.

Breathe….now I feel better.

Art! There hasn’t been a piece every day. There have been fairies and other things. I will share the photo from my altered art piece from my daughter’s birthday. (She may kill me for it, but if you don’t think she was one of the cutest toddlers ever…) This was the cover on one of thirty gifts I sent her. A small cigar box that contained a little tiny set of pages where I wrote out the story of her birth. One thing that the last year and a half has taught me is that “things” don’t matter. People matter, memories matter, spirituality matters. The things that mean the most are the things that cannot be held in our hands, but only in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jessica.

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