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Category Archives: Spiritual

The Broccoli Dilemma…


Stranger number 1. “Mormons. Can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.”
Stranger number 2. “Pssshhhhh. Can’t live without ’em, either. They’re the first ones to show up when a disaster hits.”
Guffaw.
Harrumphhh.
Clinking of the mugs.
And on to the Broncos.

I overheard the comments at a diner and it got me thinking. And feeling. My thinking was, “Amen, brothahs!”, and my feeling was, “UHHH! Ruh-ooode!” Offended, yet understanding and agreeing. Both. How can that be? How? Easy. Life is not tidy.

I am a Mormon. And… I am also, not.

I am a Mormon because I have a name and a blessing, have been baptized, and have had church callings many many times. Actively participating or not, disciplined or not, it has been part of my culture. You could say I am a native. I am Mormon because I strive to be as Christ-like as I can be, choosing Mormonism as my vehicle of organized religion. Yet…I am not Mormon in this way. I am having a crisis of faith. In praying and seeking answers to questions, I have found that I currently do not agree with all views and policies in my religion. I feel very un-faith-like, in this faith-based religion, actually. In my mind, I have divided my faith into two distinct parts. The Church, and The Gospel. It’s how I justify putting up with one so I can enjoy the other.

OKKKKK. Let me stop you right there. This is not a pro- or anti- rant. There is no platform or soap box. So if you are looking for that, head right on back to Facebook. Ahem.

So the “yes I am” and the “no I’m not” kinda feels like… like this. Like dipping broccoli into Ranch dressing. I dig the Gospel principles of love and kindness, and turning the other cheek, and peace from a source who has a much bigger design than I can comprehend. I am good with that. That’s the Ranch. The Church part, the human part, the inconsistency part where there is paperwork and differing personalities clashing and keeping the bills paid… well… that is the iffy part for me. It’s the Broccoli. The have-to have to enjoy the get-to have.

Now, you won’t catch me with the fridge door open in the middle of the night, guzzling Ranch dressing from the bottle. Rest easy, Mom. But you won’t catch me ordering a vat of Cream of Broccoli soup, hold the soup, either. My religion has been my version of a healthy snack. Kind of a no-brainer snack. Only, I am tasting the Broccoli a lot more, lately, and it almost tastes like Brussel Sprouts.

So where does that leave me? How do I categorize myself? In limbo? On the fence? Is there a fence? Hmmmm. I guess there is. And I realize that there has been, for years.
This is an opportunity to look at the fence I am sitting on.

And I know fences.

I grew up in a small town in Utah. Many fences. Way more potholes than people. No stoplight, but lots of community involvement. I, like any other kiddo growing up, had many spoon-fed concepts, from many different sources. For instance:
1. (MOM) We have inside voices and outside voices. Please use them correctly. (ME) Ok.
2. (SESAME STREET) We say please and thank you. Always. (ME) Ok.
3. (DAD) We go to church and all church activities. Every time. (ME) Ok.
4. (NEIGHBORHOOD) Many hands make light work, so pitch in and watch out for ways to help. (ME) Ok.
5. (SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER) Be kind, always. (ME) Ok.
6. Change your underpants every day because you never know when you will get in an accident and have to go to the doctor. (ME) Uhhhhh. Okkkkkaayyy….(That came from Grandma, bless her soul. Sound advice.)

The natural assumption I took on was that a line of authority wasn’t questioned. It didn’t need to be. We all had roles, and mine was to grow up, be good, and have fun. That was as far as I looked.  I naturally assumed that authority was there to protect and provide order to those with less experience and knowledge. It was a learning process, and a safeguard against being hurt. Moms and dads guided and protected us. Adults protected us. We kids respected and listened to them. It totally made sense and worked.

There really wasn’t anything to ponder about. Nothing I needed to change because everything ran smoothly. Not that I always followed them in real world applications. Ask anyone in my family. I was the middle child. Boo Hoo. It was HARRRRRDDDD to follow every assumed custom AND every rule EVERY time. So I messed up. Sometimes I tried really hard to keep it all together, and sometimes I got fed up and did what I wanted, knowing there would be consequences. My choices, my consequences. Pretty cut and dry, right?

You see what I’m saying.

Stay with me here. Many assumptions. My easiest assumption, by the way, was that because I learned these things in MY home and neighborhood, everyone learned those things in THEIR home and neighborhood. Everyone, everywhere. And, I lived a very cut-and-dry, right-or-wrong life. Simple. Until the ripe old age of Kindergarten.

When I was six, I went to elementary school and noticed that not everyone had the same experiences and opinions, or even habits that I did. It was just a quick adjustment, but by the end of the first day I had learned about Root Beer Bubble Gum, Puff The Magic Dragon, and just how many kids there were in my grade. I saw that manners were subjective. (Nose-picking was a lot more common than I thought.) I learned that some girls knew how to do back flips, and immediately wanted that in my life. (Gymnastics was a passion for me for the rest of the week.) I saw a 4-square game outlined in yellow paint on the black-top at recess and immediately needed the giant rubber bouncy ball in my collection of toys. (I didn’t get one.) There was a lot of cool stuff to take in, and I wanted to know about it all.

Well, almost all.

I experienced bullies at recess, right along with back flips and 4-square. They were different than the big-brother bullies, simply because they clashed with my sensibilities so much. (How dare they not be polite? They don’t even know me, yet! We are all supposed to be kind, except for big brothers!) Sometimes, as I went through the grades, bullies would be in packs, and other times they would be on their own. Now I wasn’t always subject to them, but all the classes knew them. We knew who they were, and unofficially formed plans to counter those attacks. Luck helped sometimes. Sometimes not. When a plan fell through, and we would see a victim come back with a story, we shared in that hurt. (Here. Have a piece of Root Beer bubble gum. It’s my last one, but you can have it.)

So here’s the thing. I went out into the wider world, but when I came home, there was a sense of safety and peace. It was a familiar place where I belonged. I could tell my family about the good and the bad, or come back with scrapes and cuts, and my mom and dad would make things right. They never went after those bullies, but made the place where I lived a safe haven. Yep, there were arguments and things I didn’t want to do. Yes, I felt very picked on sometimes. But overall, it was an assumption that when I was home, I was safe. So when certain people were invited into our home, people who were assumed to be safe, but weren’t, it rocked my world.

It didn’t make sense.

How could people so deceitful and sneaky and terrible be allowed in my home? I had no answer that made sense, and at six or seven, I needed a simple answer. Nothing made sense, so I went with the logic that was available at my young age. I simply understood from that time on that because they were in our home, the logical conclusion was that my parents were somehow fine with it in our home. Ergo, they were fine with something terrible existing right along with the safe environment, even scolding me when I didn’t want to be around those guests. That was something that did not make sense, but nevertheless WAS happening in reality. The REAL WORLD stuff was not in alignment with the SHOULD-BE’s. That’s how I knew that life wasn’t black or white.

The reality is that my parents did not know. They were unaware that a terrible thing was happening. In fact, it simply was not a possibility to them that someone would take advantage of the love and kindness that they showed. And because they did not think of that possibility, they came to their own conclusions about my lack of civility to these guests. It became apparent to them that I was moody and over-dramatic and prone to over-exaggeration or fibs, even. My truth became that my mom was cruel on the inside and kind on the outside, and dad trusted mom’s judgement. We all formed our opinions, and life went on. That became the reality.

I bring this up, not to bring you down, but to look at something. I experienced something completely different than my parents did. In our safe haven. In our same family. At the same time. Simple as that. Our experiences led to assumptions about ourselves and each other and that became our reality. Were we both right? In a way, yes. We acted from interactions that actually happened. The actions were obviously right there. And yet…in another way, a resounding NO! I had only one view of an event.

So did they.

The events in their entirety did not just reveal themselves to me, on their own, by the way. Nobody came to me to clarify what was going on at all. It took me actively questioning my side of the past events over years, as an adult. It took talking several times with people about uncomfortable things. It took me allowing myself to follow my gut feelings as well as my head. It took getting out of my comfort zone. And I became the target of some pretty unpleasant words from those completely outside of the situation. What I found, over years of digging, was an opportunity for information to be shared, for relationships to be strengthened, and for my angst to be laid to rest.

So back to the diner. And my fence.

My relationship with my faith has been complicated. Am I Mormon? Yep. I was born and raised in the faith and know how to do all that is asked of me. I have felt love and peace many times over the years, through my faith. Do I feel Mormon? Not exactly, simply because I am questioning the reasoning and accountability of certain parts of my religion. And feeling uncomfortable doing it. My logic says that it should be cut and dry. There is a natural line of authority, put in place to lead, guide, and love a group of people who want peace and joy and love in their lives. The same goes for a natural line of authority in government, companies, and any other leadership organization. It is trust. It is there to give direction to those who do not have all the answers or experience in an area and are wanting that safeguard.

I am having an event, which is a part of a series of events, that I have felt is the whole event. Until now. Now, I feel there is a major lack in the whole picture that I am experiencing.

So do I rock the boat? The Church boat? We-heh-heh-hellll. Let me tell you, rocking the boat is… exhausting. Fighting for answers takes time and commitment. Going up the chain of command is frustrating to me when answers aren’t easy to explain or find. I hear it is the same in the military, the education system, and in corporate life. So the big question for myself is, “Do I want to go here?” I have kids, exercise, work, bills, husband, sleep, fun, reading, living of life to do. Do I really want to move that stuff around? Hey. It’s only my spiritual, eternal self I’m talking about.

Sitting on this fence is starting to get mighty uncomfortable.

Now, my experiences and assumptions are mine. Only mine. Some may have similar stories, and others may not relate at all. A few may even doubt my honesty about my stories. Some have. But worrying about someone else’s opinion is not my business. What I do with my experiences and assumptions, are. So this is what I choose.

1. I choose to use information and facts over opinion and assumptions. It’s certainly interesting to get everyone’s input on a subject, but it is subjective, in the end.

2. I choose to listen to my gut feelings, and temper them with my logic. Because if I don’t, then there isn’t a complete picture.

3. I choose to have a line. I am allowed to form a line of safety. My safety and moral compass is on one side of the line, and on the other side is the stuff that I don’t want in my space. Not for manners sake. Not for comfort sake. Not for other people’s comfort sake. It is a line.

4. I choose to question things so I know how I feel. I am ok with going on faith in some instances, and questioning in others. BOTH.

The diner experience leads me to realize that it is time to search for the questions about certain policies that I have just been waiting for others to answer. It is time to be proactive. Right or wrong? For or against? Yes or no? Puh-leez! Those are about as polarizing as it gets. And that just doesn’t work for me.

There is more to it than either/or. Life is not tidy. My grief is about my conflict. I am grieving the simplicity that I so want in my life. I am grieving my former reality. I am conflicted because I know that I am coming down off the fence. Not only coming down off my perch, but I will be pulling up the fence and seeing what leaves my space, and what stays.

I know I want love and light and peace in my life. I know that duplicity and deceitfulness and looking the other way have no part in my space. Not from myself, and not from others. Even when it would be simpler/easier/nicer to just do nothing.  Am I Mormon? Am I not? Do I believe?

Meh.

How bout…. I am… Hungry. It’s time to hit the fridge and browse. Ranch can go on many things. Not just broccoli. Who knows? In my search for the perfect snack, I just may create a fantastic meal.

 

There’s The Wedding, and Then There’s The Wedding…


There is going to be a wedding.

The question was asked. The answer was given. The status change happened on Social Media. It’s gonna happen. I couldn’t be happier for them. I mean, what isn’t awesome about the opportunity for a stellar day dedicated to a fantastic couple, right? The decor and food, the people and gifts, the love and the toasts and the vows and the dresses and the pictures and…and…

Wait. WHAT?

What was that one word? VOWS? Oh. That’s right. The Vows. The part of the wedding that is, after all, the point of the wedding. The MARRIAGE part of the wedding. Well. There is the wedding, and then there is The Wedding.

Look. I don’t want to get all preachy. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I don’t want to… blah blah blah (cue all the other politically correct sayings that preclude me softening the blow of what I am going to say anyway)… but what I will say is something I wish I had listened to a long time ago. Like 24 years ago, to be exact.

It is this: The Wedding is, first and foremost, a WEDDING of two souls. A blending and a taking on of each other’s lives. So take it seriously. It is a commitment for two people who were (up until this point) just hanging out together and enjoying each other’s company, to become one team.  Like, One Team, One Dream, baby. A well-oiled machine. And that takes commitment, yo. Intention with commitment and time.

Oh.

And before you decide to bring up the “I have to be me/I need my own space” debate, let me stop you right there. It would be pointless to have a clone of yourself, or the other person. Dur. So that’s not what I mean. I am talking about stacking the deck in your favor. When people go from being single to being married, they are forming a different entity. They are merging their lives, their beliefs, their traditions, their finances, their family and friends and habits and CREATING SOMETHING NEW. Something more than they were before. Now listen up. I didn’t say something INSTEAD of what they are. I said something MORE. That means you get to be you, AND you get to have more of what you want. It is an enhancement package. You get to be a team.

That is something to celebrate, for sure.

Now being part of a team means bringing each person’s strengths to the table, so to speak. It is laying out the strengths and weaknesses honestly, and saying, “Look. We have a goal. In order to accomplish this goal, we’re going to need every idea, talent, intuition, and resource we can get, so here is what I have.”  In a marriage, by the way, the goal is to love, learn, grow, and have joy…TOGETHER. To be married because it’s a want-to, not a have-to. So get that “I need me time” crap out of your head right now, because you are automatically assuming you can’t have BOTH personal and married time, and that just sets the expectation that there is never enough. Which is crap.

Kapeesh?

If you can buy in to the wanting to be married, then buy in to the importance of making a marriage a want-to instead of a have-to or a  should. Ya know, “I HAVE-TO be getting home. I SHOULD tell him/her about this. I SHOULD see if I can help. I HAVE TO cook/clean/fix this.” Living in “Should’s and Have-To’s” sucks. Stack the deck, right up front by doing some legwork. So get all of the resources out where you can see them and use them. What do we like to do? What do we not like to do? What will we avoid at all costs? What can we do well without even thinking about it? This would take a meeting, logically. (And if anyone reading this has ever been in a meeting, I need you to quit rolling your eyes. Seriously.)

My husband and I don’t work for the same companies, but we are in meetings constantly. He works with teams a lot. So do I. We both use project-based goals. We both work from home, but work with clients, teammates, and have people we report to. We interact with people both in our home and off-site. There have been large, and I mean LAARRRGGGEE amounts of conference calls, Skype, and in-person meetings between the two of our careers. So please get where I am coming from when I say we have some experience in knowing what makes a pointless or annoying meeting, and what makes a productive, positive, even fun meeting. Basically, it goes like this: A big key to a successful meeting is communication of what roles people play. But an even bigger key is knowing what the point of the meeting is, and sticking to it.

Keeping The Thing The Thing, ya know?

Look, it doesn’t matter who caters the meeting, or where the meeting is, or who runs the meeting. I mean, it makes for a more pleasant meeting to have something to chew on while Bob or Dorkus starts a PowerPoint slide show, and I absolutely pay more attention when my tush is on a cushioned chair instead of a plank of wood or standing in a doorway. But no matter how decadent the setting, if the meeting is not relevant, then my time has been wasted, and so has everyone else’s.

So isn’t it kind of key for two people who want to align their lives, to take some time looking at what is important to each of them? Uh…YA-UHHH! Thus the meeting. The sit-down. The beginning. Anything important and lasting and good takes planning for it, right? A trip. A job. A party. A place to live.

A life.

Alrighty then. Here is where I wish I would have taken this advice. My wedding was my wedding. There were guests. There was a cake and gifts and music and awkwardness and laughter and then…. It was done. I intentionally left out all the describing words because it ended after a day. That part is irrelevant, other than as a memory. Harsh, I know, but the advice I minimized cost me YEARS of frustration, trying to figure out how I could have been taken by surprise when this particular topic came up, or when that particular situation reared its head.

I skipped the legwork.

My husband did not marry the venue. Or the cake. Or my dress. Or the music. But he did marry all of what comes with me. We chose to blend our lives, and that is the good and the bad. The positive and the negative. Which, I am telling you, came as a SHOCK down the line. Now granted, we didn’t live together first. We went from our parent’s homes to our own home, so everything from morning breath and snoring, to attitudes about keeping the house in order, was a new thing.

Those things got worked out, eventually, but there were things that really should have been talked about before we leaped into a committed life together. Things that would have made our lives, and our children’s lives, simpler. Things like…Religion. (GASP!) Life Insurance. (Hand over mouth.) Budgeting. (Ewww.) Parenting Styles. (Well, now that’s just too far.)

Suck it, Propriety.

I regret only a few, few, few things in my life because I deeply feel that the good and bad has made me who I am now, and I worked quite hard to accept and enjoy who I am, but seriously… I would be an idiot not to regret asking the hard questions when it would have made our life easier. We stacked the deck against us in so many ways because of it. I was too enthralled with having a wedding to ponder for long on what the wedding was for. The wedding could have been planned for and executed and thought of later with just as much joy and excitement as it already was, but with a more complete understanding of what to expect, if I had simply spent more time heeding advice to make The Thing the Thing.

The wedding is exciting. The wedding has a lot of magic to it, and should be remembered fondly. But The Wedding Vows… that is a FAN FRIKKIN TASTIC ride. It takes time, and heartaches, and patience and joy and love and loyalty to the team and goal to make it valuable, and it is SO WORTH IT. But for crying out loud, have a meeting first. Take notes. Get some great munchies and a soft place for your butt to go while you do it.

And then….?? Well, then, maybe you both can watch the PowerPoint slide show with the lights dimmed down…

 
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A Specific View Of The Broadmoor

A Specific  View Of The Broadmoor

Sometimes life is about stopping to smell the roses. Even in February. Even in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Wherever it happens to be, taking in a breath can be rejuvenating. Now it wasn’t that I’ve been scrambling around in a physical frenzy, desperately longing for a space to sit down and rest my aching feet. I wasn’t. What I was, though, was hunkered down in a mental bunker. I was uber-focused on fixing the future. Bills, studying for my business, and doing a lot of scheduling for various members of the family and myself put me on the computer and phone for hours every day for several days. Or weeks. I can’t remember. It all blends together.

I set reminders on my phone to find time, in the next day or two, to remind myself for even more stuff. I had reminders to wake people up, take medicine, make phone calls, and study. I set timers to pick people up, drop people off, and set appointments. 10 minutes for time with each kid, 30 minutes for hubby. Set a timer to pet the dog. I just forgot down time, eating time, and to smile.

Time just blurred together.

I wasn’t ready to look up from my tunnel vision even when my husband invited me to go with him to a luxury hotel for three days. He got to spend those days in a conference room, and I would be free to relax and explore the grounds.

Tempting, right?

Um. Well. All I saw were the mechanics. Who should take and pick up my daughter from school? Would the kids be ok? Would the house survive? I was still hammering out details, needlessly hovering and unwilling to let go of the responsibility, when we pulled into the wide avenue showcasing the spectacular piece of art that was The Broadmoor.

I let go.

Um. Hotel is an understatement. As we drove, looking for our own spot to call home, stately trees lined the paths and roads. Manicured flora and fauna graced the expansive grounds. Bridges flowed over the lake, dotted with elegant swans. And in the background, craggy, tree-strewn mountains grew around the property, cradling the place in crisp air and breathtaking views.

The entrance was grand, of course. I was now expecting that. What delighted me, however, was the attention to details for the guests. Never did we touch handles. Cars, doors, and elevators were opened with pomp and ceremony. Staff seemed to enjoy assisting us to our room, proudly pointing out things of interest with a smile, a nod, or a gesture. I felt as if I were the only guest there. How could it get any better?

Then the the door to my room opened.

Plush, tasteful elegance greeted us as the door was opened and I couldn’t help but grin. I’ve never been a fan of wallpaper. Til now. Subtle, silky cream curlicues let a hint of light baby green fabric peek through the walls. It cocooned the room that brought me to a time when grace was more important than convenience.  Details brought the room into focus. King size bed with cream colored embroidered bead spread. Pillows in rich fabric, inviting hours of lounging in a robe and slippers. Which, of course, were provided. A soft bench at the bottom of the bed, a plump sofa, and reading arm chair provided choices in relaxation. A work station rounded out the furnishings, along with a large tv and plenty of soft-lighted lamps.

And then there was the bathroom. Hotel bathrooms have a sliding scale of function mixed with attractiveness. But ultimately, it provides a means to an end. Not so, at The Broadmoor. I wanted to just stay in it. Really. Yes, there was a huge marble shower, yes the lighted mirror and double sinks were beautiful. It was the deep soaking tub and in mirror tv that made it stand out.

As soon as the bellman left, my husband, bless him, filled the tub for me. Yes, it covered me to my chin.  Yes, there was a pillow towel for my neck. Yes, there was hot cocoa ready for me to sip. No wonder this gem has been graced by presidents, sports heroes, and movie stars. It was the perfect place to be pampered, and I had fallen for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

 

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An Update…


Dad passed away on October 7th. Just 2 weeks ago now.
In some ways, it feels like years.
In other ways, I am still in the middle of it.

I see the sunshine seeping in my parents kitchen window. It’s about 2:00 PM, and it’s just that right temperature of warm but not too warm.  I still hear dad breathing hard in the other room, from his hospice bed. He is in the very last hours, and 2 of us kids hold his hands at all times. It’s not my turn. (When it is my turn, I look forward to touching his warm skin, and looking at his face, knowing I won’t have very long to do that.) His breathing gets easier for a bit, then stops. We all count, as we have been told that an apnea can come at this time, stopping the breathing for anywhere from 15-45 seconds. …5, …10, …15, and he takes in a deep breath. We all take a breath, too, and continue our scrabble game.

Yeah, scrabble. We were playing a game while my father was dying. We had been looking over and after him for 5 days straight, and as neighbors, friends, and relatives came to say their goodbyes,  or dropping off cards and food and hugs, well at some point we just realized that it was ok to do something other than watch the man die. It didn’t mean we loved him any less. In fact, it was probably a relief for him to hear some laughter and gossip coming from the next room, like in old times. (You should probably know that dad got 5 daughters, and would lament, only half jokingly, that he had somehow upset The Lord for Him to punish dad with so many chattering, laughing, bickering daughters…)

So we went on with our game. QAT was my word, and I got it hooked to a double word score. Woot! And I did woot, right out loud.  We all looked at each other quickly, and then at dad in the other room. And our voices raised even more. It was almost a relief to remember that we were allowed to be living, while he was dying. It was odd, but during this vigil, we still ate meals, and hugged each other, and talked normally.

At first this all felt like a betrayal. How dare I sleep when I should be watching over this dying man! Right? And I could not imagine leaving his hospital bed, whether to go to the bathroom or for food, a walk outside, or to play a game of scrabble. Why should I go do these things when he could not?  I don’t know what I expected. I guess for us to be hush hush around him so he could labor in quiet…. I guess that was it.

Well, life is not tidy.

What happened instead was 8 siblings descending upon the Thornton home, from across all sorts of states, all in various stages of grieving. The one thing that didn’t happen was quiet. I was stupefied. The house of grieving flipped like a switch. We had a room of crying and whispering. A room of food prep and eating. Then we had a room of catching up and visiting. And, because we are Thorntons, that room turned into a room of laughter and loudness. In all rooms, reverence was gone.

It was the best thing that happened, in my opinion.  Where I had been moping and obsessing before, being exhausted beyond belief, there was now a life and energy renewed.  Instead of literally watching a man die to death, we provided a father and husband with family living and celebrating his life all around him.

We played board games in the kitchen, just a few feet from where his hospice bed was set up.  We played the piano where he could hear his favorite songs. We put Pandora on the iPad and let him listen to the “Tabernacle Choir” channel because he loved the music so much. And it worked

Whatever IT was.

IT spread through the house gradually. Through each room of sadness, IT seeped in and smiled the sadness away. Oh.  The IT was… Peace.

Peace spread through the house and household. It made it ok for us to laugh or cry. It made it ok for us to sleep in, or stay up all nigh with our sweet dad. Peace made it ok for dad to rally at the end, for us.  He came out of the labored sleep he was in, and acknowledged those who were there in the house. He said he loved hearing the music. He touched our faces and let the little ones give him kisses or high fives. He loved our laughter and talking which, he said, just sounded like LOVE.

And that was when I let go of the process looking a certain way.  I was not in charge, and neither was anyone else. Dad’s death was between him and The Lord. My only responsibility was to be part of the peace and love that was family.  And so I did.

He passed away peacefully, between one breath and another, with family around him.

 

Goodbye…


Sunbeams

I’m not ready to say goodbye yet, but here it is. It is time to say goodbye. The gift you have given to me is that it was gradual. I get to say thank you, along with the goodbye. Thank you for teaching me tennis. Thank you for giving me lecture 47, about everything from cleaning my room to having a fight with mom, and then turning it into a life lesson. Thank you for getting down on your knees to wrestle with me, and play horsey with me, and pray with me. Thank you for playing the only song on the piano that you know, and doing it well. At least the first part. Thank you for dinners together, and basketball games on saturday mornings. Thank you for teaching me the old man shuffle when running was too fast for me, at age 9. Thank you most for loving me, believing in me, and never giving up on me.

Thank you for instilling in me a desire to be more than just me. To be part of something bigger.. Greater. Thank you for teaching me to expect and give respect. Thank you for never raising your voice or your hand to me. Thank you for showing me how I should be treated as a wife and mother. And thank you for showing me what a father should be like.

I get to say my thank you’s along with my goodbye’s, but also my I love you’s. So here is an I love you…

I love that you didn’t like Ketchup, only Catsup. I love that you would sit with me out on the porch and watch the birds, and the neighbors, and the cars roar by. I love that you let me watch you milk the cows all those early mornings, and even tried to teach me how to milk one. I never got the hang of it, but you didn’t lose your patience. Not once.  I love that you made up the game, Balloon Volley Ball for our Family Home Evening game times. I love that it turned into a neighborhood favorite. I love that you built the addition on to our home big enough that Balloon Volleyball fit so well in our family room. I love that you aged so well. You look great with a bald head. Like Jean Luke Picard.  I love that you loved mom so well and so deeply. And I love that you loved us 8 kids so completely.  We were your life.

All these Thank You’s and I Love You’s I get to say to you silently as I patted your cheek one last time. As I held your warm hand. As I kissed you on your forehead. Almost a goodbye. But not yet. And I am grateful, Your last breath is your first step into your next life, and I envy you your journey. But still. Still, I am not ready to say goodbye.

Not yet. So I just hold your hand while the hospice nurse is called. I look at your peaceful face when mom needs to be close to you. And still I can’t say goodbye. When the mortuary tenderly and respectfully brings your body to the facility to be readied for the funeral, I know you are gone, but can’t say goodbye. The viewing is hard, because your sweet presence is gone from the body that is in the casket.  I know that.

It isn’t until now, when the man in the suit is ready to close the lid of the casket, and asks that any of us that want to come by your body to say the last goodbye, that I realize that this is it. This is the moment that, whether or not I am ready, I have to…need to…say goodbye.

And so I say goodbye silently.

Goodbye to the past heartaches and pain. Goodbye to Cancer. Goodbye to awful pills and hospital beds and walkers with tennis balls on them. Goodbye to all that. And Thank You for all of who you are and have been. And I love you for being strong through this last part.

OK.

Goodbye for now.

 

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A New Day, A New Outlook…


Well. It is a new day, and after an emotional wreck of a day yesterday, and a lot of sleep, I have a new perspective. My dad is still on his journey with Cancer. I am still sad. And time is still ticking away too rapidly. I do see something new, though.

Nobody knows what will happen after death. Movies have been written about it. (Somewhere In Time, Heaven Can Wait, etc…) Books, articles, and stories are all about what CAN happen after death. Then there is the

Stairway to Heaven...

religion aspect of it. The faith that plays into BELIEVING what will happen after death. There are even people who have had a near-death experience. And they related their experience as well. But no one knows except the dead.

What comfort does that leave for us? None, unless we choose to buy in to a method of coping. I choose into the method of faith. Religion. Heaven, to be exact. I believe that I will see my dad on the other side. Which I guess means that death isn’t the end. Just a new beginning. I just have to wait a bit to see him. Which is what the sadness is about. I  will miss him. It isn’t that I don’t think I will ever see him again, it is just that I will miss that he isn’t there, in the flesh, in my house that I grew up in. It is a new phase. And I’m scared.

Life without dad. Not exactly true because I have the same memories that I have now. I live 8 hours away from him now, so I rely on memories anyway. My kids rely on memories. There is just something so comforting about the THOUGHT that he is in the house when I want to go see him. It’s my choice.  And now that choice will be taken away. Harrumph.

Well, I don’t have much to say except I feel better today. As I’m writing, my head is clearing, and I am learning a new perspective.

I talked with him again today, and I made another memory. Sure it is a sadder one, as he couldn’t really remember what we were talking about, and he mumbled a lot. But I got to make it , nonetheless. What really matters is that he is pain-free now, and comfortable. This is not something I am in charge of, and frankly, it isn’t about me at all. This is his path. His circumstances. I’m just along for the ride when I can. When I can get out there. When he talks with me on the phone or in person. That is when my path coincides with his. And I am honored to take whatever part in it that I can. Right now it is just a painful part, that’s all. I will cry when I need to, and love the memories I have, and the memories I make.

I’ll take it one day at a time, and that is enough.

 

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Life Is Not Tidy…


What I don’t want to hear, or feel, is that life is not tidy.  It is painful now. And not witty, or funny, or even positive. I really believe that life feeds us lessons, in joy or pain, that are good. I am simply not at the point now where I can see the lesson.

My dad is dying. Really. He has cancer, and he is dying.

I am past the panic stage. I am in the acceptance stage. All the way until I talk with him.  He took a bad turn this week, and I talked with him today. I could hear the pain in his voice, and the grogginess as the pain medicine battles to take that pain from him. Oh how it hurt to hear!

This man is a good man.  A strong man. And today… well today, I am sad. His pain is undeserved and I am sad. No.  I am ANGRY! I am not a “Why does this have to happen” kind of girl, but this is a close reason to go down that road.  “Bad things happen to good people”… Blah Blah Blah.  I hate this. I am not ready to be rational, or see how this affects me, or the family, or him, for the good.

Yes, this brings me closer to my dad. I mean, I talk with him more now than I ever did before. Yes, it brings me closer to the family, and we have communication and compassion and caring in an open way.  Yes, it lets me have faith that there is something more in the universe. I firmly believe that I will see him again in another place and time.  I just do.   And yes, this gives me the opportunity to be gentle and kind with him. And genuine. Lets not forget genuine. There just doesn’t seem to be time to be sarcastic and witty anymore.

So there. There is the good news.  Now lets just put that aside, because I have tears streaming down my face, and gulping great gobs of air. I just don’t care about all the good stuff. My dad is dying, and I can’t fix it, I can’t stop it, and I can’t do anything about his pain.

I live 8 hours away from him. Yes, there is family there for him, but not me. Ya know? I have this need to be there and watch over him, and care for him. My heart is just aching to help. Yes, I have been out there twice since we found out that it’s spreading, and the chemo isn’t helping. Yes, I’m going out there in November, but it’s just not quick enough.

I have had people say “he’s strong. He will beat this”, and I want to punch them. Well not actually, but emotionally. No, he can’t. The tumors are inoperable, he’s 73, has had cancer 2 times before, and doesn’t want radiation. STOP BEING SO POSITIVE ABOUT THIS! Our family has worked to get past the bouncy, brave face. How bout comfort instead? How bout holding his hand and just being quiet?

OHHHHH. I hurt. That is all. Later is when I will be hopeful and calm and easier about this. But not today. Today is a day to cry. Today is a day that is ok to feel sad. And so I do.

Life Is Not Tidy. And that sucks.

 

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