Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Changes

It's hard to believe tonight is almost over thus ending another Christmas. I can't say that this year's was the best for me. I am sure it won't be the worst either but it was definitely different.

Our morning seemed lonely and sadder without the presence of our beloved family dog Jackie, absent for the first time since we've had Christmas in this house. Her death last month has left a hole in all our hearts. As I video taped the kids opening the presents and stockings from Santa, I couldn't help but remember Christmases past where Jackie would be sniffing around her own stocking waiting to see what goodies await her inside. There was no rush to vacuum the floor because her long black hair was littering the surface. Or a need to ask her politely to move out of the way so the kids could play with their new toys in our limited space of a living room. Oh how I long for those things again and hope someday in the future we'll be able to make new memories with another beloved pet. For now I will cherish the fond and comforting memories our Jackie girl gave us. I miss you girl and hope you are watching us in doggie heaven.

This year also marked the first without my dad being available to be with us. Although he wasn't with us the last couple of Christmases (unbeknownst to us because he was sick and didn't want to be around people), it was definitely a different feeling knowing he couldn't be with us versus didn't want to be. I knew he wasn't just sitting at home in his recliner watching TV. I knew I couldn't call him up and try to convince him to come cause we all wanted him here. I wish I'd tried harder to convince him when he was still with us. Samantha often mentions the times when Grandpa would come to Christmas and would read to her. Unfortunately I don't think there are enough of those irreplaceable memories with him for either myself or my children.

I wonder if things would have been different if he hadn't been sick for previous Christmases. Would he have come and spent more time with us? Especially on the holidays? Or were there just too many things that bothered him that would have kept him away? I'll never know so I choose to believe things would have been different. They would have been good and he would have been here with us spending time with his family, his grand kids. I felt a bit helpless knowing I didn't have a choice this year if my dad was here or not. He just wasn't and I missed him greatly as I do everyday knowing I can't just call him up or go see him.

As our family continues to change and get older, I have come to realize through the death of my dad and dog that we all won't be here forever. And as much as it might be frustrating or stressful to get us all together, it is important and vital. I don't ever want to miss out on being with the ones I love if I am able. Or if they are able. A time will come in the future when they won't be or they will have left us as well. It is essential to me to work diligently to keep our family together thought the holidays no matter how crazy, stressful or frustrating it may be.

It has to be for me. I hope it will be for my kids and their kids too. Love the ones you have with you now for someday they may not be.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Missing what is gone

Today would have been my dad's 70th birthday. A milestone for many but my dad wasn't lucky enough to see it, neither was I. When you think of your future, you usually imagine being with your parents as long as possible. Back when I was a kid, 70 was considered "old". But in today's world, a world of healthier living, staying fit, being active; we see our parents living well into their 80s and 90s. Unfortunately my dad didn't fit into those categories.

I miss him especially today when I would have celebrated his life with him and told him how much I loved him. How I thought he was the greatest daddy in the world. I still think those things but can't tell him now that he's gone. I am sad that I don't have him here to confide in. I have lost the best male relationship I've had in my life and probably will ever have. It just doesn't seem fair to have lost him.

People say you will think of him at the weirdest times. Today was one of those times when my neighbors were putting up their Christmas lights. I flashed back to my childhood when I'd watch my dad put up the Christmas lights with fascination. He'd line them up on the yard before he put them up on the house. At night I could see the colored lights outside my window twinkle and I remember feeling safe and warm. I felt that way because my dad put those lights up for our family, for me.

I hope my dad knows that I love him as much today as I did when he was alive. I hope he knows I am sorry for not making more of an effort to be in his life as I got older. I hope he knows that I am sorry he had to spend his last days in that rehab center instead of his home, in his own bed. I hope he knows I miss him every day and still need him as much as ever. I hope he's sitting in heaven petting Jackie and Cheyenne with a smile on his face.

Happy birthday Daddy! I love you forever and ever until I see you in Heaven.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Being Alone vs. Loneliness

How lucky am I? Two weeks ago I took off for the mountains. Just me and my bagful of goodies. Girly movies, a good (new) Nicholas Sparks book (The Lucky One which I managed to finish in 2 1/2 days), my new pink laptop and plenty of comfy clothes. I couldn't wait to get up to the cabin in Crestline (thanks to Tom and Diane for letting me use it) to have some alone, me time. I wanted to just veg out and not have to worry about anything or anyone except myself. Selfish? Probably yes but something I needed and wanted to do. Maybe I wanted to see how I'd do on my own. You know "me against the world". I had to rely on only myself to get in the cabin, go into the basement to turn on the water, water heater, etc. It was dark and I didn't like climbing into the dark room under the bedroom alone but I did it. "Hey I can do this." The first night was short since I arrived close to the seven o'clock hour. I got settled in, put in the first disc of Pride & Prejudice, the A&E version with Colin Firth (yum) and got comfortable on the couch. The cell phone reception at the cabin was patchy at best but I felt good and loved when I got a call from my family just as I had arrived and then an instant message making sure I had reception when I didn't answer the phone. I was happy to hear from them but hadn't quite had time to miss them, yet.

The next morning I awoke to the crisp mountain air. Immediately the need for coffee was a must. I made some breakfast and got right to the second disc of P&P. The afternoon lead to a nice walk around the surrounding streets. I found myself out on one of the more populated through streets. Granted it still wasn't that busy with traffic, with an occasional car passing me every couple minutes. I had to wonder though, "what if?" What if I fell and no one found me? What if a stranger stopped the car and grabbed me? Would anyone miss me? How long would it be before someone noticed I was gone? One of the down falls of going to the mountains alone I suppose.

Although I was enjoying my time alone, I found myself a little restless and filling the time with movies, sitting outside reading or playing games on my computer. Nothing too deep or thought provoking. I had wanted to write. Write some articles I had been meaning to start or get off paper and into the computer. Jot down some verses for greeting cards I wanted to submit this week but none of those things seemed it get done. I felt like inside I was babysitting myself. Like was doing everything I could to avoid what I intended to do while I was there, find myself. Think about what I really wanted for myself going forward. The only real thing I learned was that I don't like being alone. I don't like feeling lonely.

Now don't get me wrong, there is something wonderful about having time to yourself. Maybe a day off at the beach or a quiet afternoon at home with just the dog but being truly alone, isolated from friends and family for a period of time longer than 8 hours isn't something I enjoyed as much as I thought I would. I was lonely and I longed for my family, my routine. Eating alone was particularly hard for me. I was sad every time I got up to make myself a meal. Perhaps I was just feeling sorry for myself (I know, being alone in a mountain cabin is probably a dream come true for most of you!). I longed for the phone to ring and have it be my family saying they missed me. I guess I really longed to hear my husband missed me.

As I prepared to take a drive down to the Lake Gregory to walk around it and enjoying the scenery, I couldn't help but be excited to enjoy the rest of my time alone but also happy in the knowledge that I was going home that evening. When I arrived Sunday night it had been dark so I pulled up to the end of the driveway that stops right in front of the door. I was scared so I wanted to be close to the entrance of the cabin since it was so dark up there. Well, getting in was no problem but getting out was another story. As I started to back up and guide the Tahoe around the sharp right I had to make to get around the tree stump, I felt the tires slipping under me. The right side of the truck started to lean into the hill. Crap, I was stuck in a hole with no traction and the truck tilting heavily to the right side. The hill next to the driveway is somewhat steep and leads straight down to the road below. SHIT!!! I got out of the truck and proceeded to freak. I called Triple A (thank God for AAA). They would send a tow truck out to pull me out of the dirt. Great! No walk for me but at least I'd be able to go home that evening as planned.

After getting lost the tow truck finally arrived. After accessing the situation, the driver attempted to back the flatbed truck up the steep, dirt driveway. No go. Not gonna happen. He says they have to send back a classic tow truck that has 4 wheel drive. Unfortunately that truck is towing something to Apple Valley and won't be back till later but they can get it done today, even if it's dark. Guess what? He was wrong. As dusk approached I phoned AAA again and they informed me they couldn't come back out until morning. NO!! By this time I was so ready to go home to my family. As beautiful, peaceful and restful as it was, I had my mind set on going home. But I was stuck and better accept I was there for another night. I called my husband crying as I was worried about him going to work the next day, the kids, etc. He assured me they were fine. Glad they were. The night brought on new sounds and the wind (which caused a lot of the noises). I was restless all night for various reasons, one being I kept imagining the truck blowing over in the wind and crashing down the side of the hill right onto the street causing an accident!! It didn't happen and the tow truck finally came and got me out in less than 5 minutes.

It wasn't life threatening but it scared the shit out of me and showed me that I truly don't want to be alone in this world. I know being up at the cabin had a lot to do with it. When I am at home, in my own house with my friends and family only a phone call or walk outside my door away, being alone finds itself not as threatening. It is something I can live with and imagine I will have to at some point or another in my life. The marriage may not work, the kids will move out and start a life of their own. The dog dies. That leaves me alone with just my thoughts which lately all seem to be about how I don't want to be alone and lonely.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pure Joy

This weekend I experienced two instances of pure, unabated joy. Both involved my husband and my children, on separate occasions. I felt the unshakable urge to get them down on paper (or cyberspace) as to try to capture these moments forever aside from in my mind. In addition, I wish there was a way to preserve the snapshots in my mind and have them transferred for you all to see. Maybe my words will give you a mental picture of your own to enjoy.

On Saturday, Jess played in his second to last regular season soccer game. Another bright and early occasion, the field was the perfect backdrop for the dramatic scene being played out. Slippery with dew and messy with mud, the boys played their hearts out. We were versing the #1 team in our bracket. They were undefeated coming into our game. When I arrived (late) it was already half time and I missed a first half consisting of the other team scoring making it a simple 0-1 game. Jess played defense with a new sense of confidence and power I hadn't seen in him at the start of the season. Quite a difference for Pops and MeMe to experience since their first game visitation.

As we entered the 4th quarter (period? I still haven't done the research on this) having tied the game at one goal each, coach Bob placed Jess in goal; a position he was yet to play in a regular game aside from practice. But I assumed that coach had seen a change in Jess as well and was placing him in this all important role because he had the faith in him any child needs to become a confident and stronger person. I was amazed as I watched my usually timid son on the soccer field come out to get the ball before the other team was able to attack it again. He made great stops, we scored another goal and were leading the game 2-1 now. We had a chance to win this game. Play continued and Jess made a move to stop the ball and accidentally stepped out of the box picking up the soccer ball instead of kicking it. A no no in soccer resulting in a penalty kick. As our team lined up in front of the goal, I held my breath. The kick was lobbed high and went over Jess' head to score the tying goal. The initial disappointment was felt but everyone moved on including coach as he yelled encouraging words to Jess and the rest of the team. Time wasn't on our side and the ref blew the final whistle indicating the end of the game. We tied the first place team handing them their first non-win of the season. No bad not bad at all. As I felt a sense of disappointment that they were able to score while Jess was in the goal, I observed the other parents on the sidelines. They along with coach Bob were cheering for the boys and thrilled with the outcome. As I approached Jess, Kevin was telling him how amazing he was and how proud he was of him. Jess was elated. His pride showed on his face and I had to stop to soak in the moment. I was ashamed of myself for being embarrassed my son let the tying goal in. I should be and am proud that my normally timid and passive soccer player had stepped up and found the confidence he needs to be a part of a team and feel good about his accomplishments. Jess' joy showed me you don't always have to win to get the prize.

On Saturday evening, funny enough the same day as the soccer experience, we all went out to dinner as a family to Don Cucos. We rarely get to go out as a family on the weekend as Kevin is usually working late and we normally eat separately. Several minutes after sitting at the table, I noticed Kevin looking over my shoulder with that twinkle in his eye he only gets when he is looking at children. Whether it be his or someone else's. This time it was a sweet little girl with big eyes sitting in her high chair. She was entranced and so was he. When I turned around to look at her she didn't even notice as she was too enraptured by Kevin waving to her and having a personal conversation just between themselves. Although seeing Kevin interact with children makes me smile, I also feel somewhat sad that I wasn't in a place in life to give him more children. A third or even a fourth child would have fulfilled him even more than his two do now. I am sorry that I wasn't mentally strong enough to take that next step. No what really brought me joy was watching Samantha watch her dad. She too was intrigued by the sweet little girl but it was her daddy that brought a huge, pure smile to her face. She sat with her back against the wall just taking in her dad flirt with this little girl. I didn't see jealousy or spite that he was giving his attention to the girl instead of her. I saw my daughter taking in the moment with love and a pure innocent joy I don't see every day. I hope to never forget that smile and look in her eyes.

Can you experience joy when you don't feel it yourself? Do you overlook what's right in front of you everyday because you aren't in touch with your own happiness? Being at peace with oneself may open the door to allowing the light from these types of moments to shine in on your heart and soul. Do we see these acts when we are down and just don't appreciate them as much? Are they not joyous enough to bring us out of our darkness? Maybe it's the slightest shifts in mind and spirit that allow this change to happen. The baby steps towards finding your inner self. Discovering you do have the strength to be strong when times are hard. The motivation to follow your dreams and just do it! Tonight I did it and submitted my first five verses for Valentine's Day greeting cards! I am thrilled that I finally accomplished something I've been dreaming of for a while and although I tell myself I am just happy I did it and don't care if they are accepted or not (I'd settle for just one of them!), I am kidding myself because it does matter to me. I really want them to be accepted. I need them to be accepted to help me continue to get stronger and believe in myself. And perhaps to help me remain at peace with myself enough to see the moments of joy that happen in my life everyday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The "F" Word

No I am not talking about that "F" word, I'm referring to a more profound and impactful 'F" word , FEAR. A four letter word that seems to be creeping into my conscious thought quite frequently.

Do we all live our lives out of fear? Were we all born fearless and something came along, bit us in the butt and made us fearful? Are we born with certain fears inbreed in us like genetics? Do we all have the same underlying fears but handle them differently? I have to wonder. Does everyone have a fear of being unloved and unwanted? Some say even people who act like they don't care or need anyone actually do. They have just created this facade to protect themselves from getting hurt. But whose hurt more, the one who doesn't try or the one who puts their who heart and soul into not being hurt only to be scarred in the end?

I think my fears have been alive and well in me from a very early age. My fear of being unliked and later in life unloved. I never felt I wasn't loved by my family, never. Even when I was a TOTAL nightmare to them (and I do apologize for that Sissy, Mom) I never felt like I wasn't loved. I've always wanted people to like me. I think I acted like a jerk when I was little to avoid the rejection of other kids. Then I decided to be nice and hope everyone would like me. I still hope for that today although my years of life experience have taught me not everyone is going to like you no matter what you do or how you are. I try to just be me and hope for the best but deep down, I do want everyone to like me. :)

New fears pop up through out the process of living life. Fear of trying something new and failing (writing). The fear of doing something you know is right but is hard because it might make that person (or pet) not like/love you anymore. My beloved dog Jackie is getting old, bless her heart. I love her to death but she has now become almost completely blind, deaf when she is asleep and her back legs don't work quite as well as they used to. All these circumstances have lead to her having accidents on the carpet, repeatedly. I know the only solution is to lock her up in the kitchen at night (where there is carpet in the dining room for her to lie on, her water & food plus her doggie door to go outside) but this would prohibit her from coming into our room and sleeping on her bed next to ours. I did try to barricade her in, several times and every time she broke through so I caved in and let her have run of the house even though it inevitably leads to an accident, me cleaning it up and my husband getting more upset with me. I finally bought a gate wide enough to enclose the space between the living room and dining room. It's nice and was expensive. I've used it during the day when I know we are going to be gone for more than an hour or two and it's been fine. But I still can't bring myself to use it at night. Is that a fear that the dog will suddenly hate me and not let me pet her? That doesn't sound very realistic when you really think about it. Maybe it's not fear at all just selfishness on my part. I love her like a child and I selfishly want her with me and I want her unconditional love for as long as I can get it.

My fear of being unloved can be tracked back to my first boyfriend, Eddie. He was a nice guy, they always are. Never mean or abusive but Eddie definitely took advantage of my kindness. My open generosity to him based on his living situation, his family life, his past. My naivety on life and relationships. I let him take advantage of me out of fear of being unloved and unwanted. Of course eventually I woke up and got tired of it and saw what he really was and got over it real quick. Then it was the doctor. The doctor who I convinced myself was the one for me. I was going to be a doctor's wife if it killed me. He liked me but never loved me. I tired all I could to be the one for him but he wasn't looking for that one or I just wasn't it for him. When in reality he wasn't what I really wanted or needed in the one either but at the time I had convinced myself he was. Thank God he didn't do his residency at UCLA.

When "the one" does come along and you decide to marry, it isn't just about you anymore. It's about us. I honestly and truly believe that any relationship; friend, lover, parent can only be successful if their is compromise on both parties part. We all at one time or another have made compromises to make a relationship work. I am willing to compromise, especially in my marriage but what I find myself asking lately is; is compromising really just an excuse for settling? Have I allowed things that bother me in my marriage to just be a compromise all these years when really I was just settling for the way things were or are because I am fearful of being unloved or unwanted? Did I not stand up for things I wanted or believed in early on in the relationship because of those fears or were they things I could really compromise on to make things work? Did I allow these things or not do things because I knew/know they would make the other person happy? What if I did settle or compromise to make the other person happy and now they aren't? Where does that leave me?

I can not redo the past. I can not go back and change the things I've done or may not have done that I should have, no one can. So now I have to look to the present and the future. Next time I find myself compromising on something, I should stop and ask myself if this is really something I want to do or am I just doing it out of fear? Can we really succeed in life when we live in fear constantly. I think we can survive but that's not really living. I think I will always have the fear of being unliked, unloved and unwanted but I want my new fears to be my driving fears. The fear of the unknown, the fear of never trying, the fear of my children not being proud of their mom. The fear of not being the best I can be for me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


"Just Do It!"
I love this slogan! It pretty much says it all in three words. Lately I've found myself searching for inspiration, motivation and purpose. I am inspired by many things and in many different ways. Today I was blown away by a group of 8 & 9 year old boys running around a soccer field at 7:30 in the morning in 48 degree weather. When I arrived at half time, our team was down by 4. We were playing a good team with several star players. It was a bummer and my son Jess said to me (as he sat on my lap keeping me warm) "we lost but it's okay." I said the game isn't over yet. And it wasn't. The Sky Knights proceeded to score, goal after goal until they took the lead in the last quarter (or is it period in soccer?). As the minutes ticked away we anxiously awaited the ref's whistle indicating the end of the game and a tremendous victory for the boys. The feeling of exhilaration was pure and irreplaceable. The courage and tenacity those boys showed today was inspiring. Never give up no matter what the score or the circumstances. I wish I had that spirit alive in me today.

As I struggle to lose the 20 pounds I put back on after losing 22 over a year ago, I find I am missing the motivation I must need to "just do it." I did it once, why can't I do it again? I am exercising the same amount, if not more. So what's the problem? Why aren't the pounds flying off like they did the first time around? I know why, because I'm not sticking to the program. I am still eating whatever I want and losing any and all will power especially when I am feeling out of sorts which is quite often for me lately. I find I am an emotional wreak more often then not. When I'm sad, angry, tired, I tend to eat. If I am mad at my family, I think I am punishing them by not eating right. No, I just punishing myself. If my husband is not paying the attention to me I want or feel I deserve, I dive head first into self pity and eating rather than trying to work at making myself more attractive or healthy for both myself and him. My work out buddies try to motivate me by being there for me and providing the encouraging words I need to hear. But they can only take me so far on this journey. They can lead me to the top of the hill but I have to climb to the top on my own. I have to carry myself over that last obstacle in order to achieve my goal; all my goals not just with my weight loss.

How long have I wanted to be a writer now? Probably longer than I care to look back and remember. First it was writing fan fic for the General Hospital soap couple, Jason and Elizabeth. Then I wanted to write a romance novel. Oh no, I know, I can write greeting cards. Yeah I would be good at that. Now I want to write a book about my experience with my dad's illness and untimely death. All have lead to the same place - nowhere! I don't know what to write about. I don't know if I should write greeting cards for other companies or start my own business. Maybe no one will want to read what I have to write about. I'm no expert, how can I write a book about caring for a sick parent? These are the statements I have running around in my head, daily. I make a commitment to myself to start something, finally. Then I find myself making excuses or playing on Facebook instead of writing. Today my kids were outside playing most of the day. Kevin was at work, the dog was asleep at my feet. The perfect time to sit down and write something. My Facebook page sure looks good.

I need a swift kick in the ass is what I need. I need something stronger and more powerful than my mind to get my dreams in motion. I need my heart, my soul and my mind as one so I can "JUST DO IT!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feeling the affects

The death of a loved one certainly has various emotions, at least for me it has. I think up until my dad's service on August 23rd, I was just numb still and going through the motions of existing in my world again without my dad. It wasn't too hard to jump back into my daily routine of taking care of the kids, the house, etc. Before my dad got sick we didn't see each other often or even talk on the phone for that matter so it wasn't such a shock to my immediate daily life except I wasn't going to visit him anymore and I missed him. After the service, it was different. The morning of I found myself very emotional and able to cry easily. Before that I hadn't cried since the evening my dad passed away. The memorial was everything I could have wanted for my dad and more. It brought me great relief and closure, both of which I needed desperately. Seeing all those people there in one room to honor my dad and hear all the wonderful stories they shared, it really was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

In the days that followed (I almost wrote weeks because it has felt like weeks since the memorial) I found myself feeling many things. Sad, relieved, anxious, overwhelmed, lonely, disappointed, peaceful. At times these emotions would hit me within hours of each other. One minute I was feeling inspired and powerful. The next unmotivated and depressed. I felt like I was walking down a line but unable to walk straight, somewhere in between leaning too heavily to one side or the other.

I can now see how death can affect everyone in different ways. I can understand how a person can become depressed very easily. It is easy to get wrapped up in the emotions of losing someone you have loved your whole entire life. For thirty-eight years I have had love for my dad in my heart and although it is still there, it is a different kind of love now. A love of longing, wishing and thankfulness. I also found myself somewhat lost. For months I felt needed more than I ever have in my life. Yes, it was stressful and hard but it also gave me added purpose on a daily basis. Now that purpose is gone. I no longer am needed to go to doctors appointments or just come by to visit. To make sure the nurses are doing what they need to do so my dad is taken care of. I no longer need to be glued to the phone in case it rings with an emergency or just so my dad knew I was there if he needed me. This is also the selfish side of death. How my dad's death affects me directly not about how my dad lost his life too soon.

On the flip side and more positive, I can see and feel the benefits of taking a loved ones death and turning it into something positive. Using the experience to change the way you do things in life. Change your outlook and where you want to end up when it's your turn to move on. Before my dad's death I used to procrastinate horribly. When he got sick, I didn't have a choice. I had to call the doctors or nurses to get what my dad needed. I had to find out about additional health care options to help pay for my dad's health care. If I didn't do it, no one else would. I see this carrying over into my life today although it isn't always standing at the front of my mind. It sometimes gets lost in the back with the depression and lazy days. I want to continue this positive, life changing habit into my future. I don't want it to be something I got from my dad's death, I want it to be a part of me. I think on the days I can think ahead and focus on how good and blessed my life is, I obviously benefit much more. If I can get up in the morning and kiss my kids good morning without stressing about them getting to school on time, I am calmer and happier. If I can go out and exercise with my friends and benefit from their company, the feeling of my blood pumping through my body and being grateful to just be healthy and alive, that will show on my face. If I can utilize my time wisely instead of being scattered and unorganized, I can get more accomplished and feel proud of my accomplishments for the day. If I can come home and cook my family a good meal where we all benefit from it, that calms my mind and warms my heart that I took care of the ones I love with the best of my intentions.

It is going to take all the mental power I have to make the choice to live each day on the positive side. I know that sometimes I will cross the line and feel sad and helpless. I also know that is okay as long as it is sometimes and not all the time. I want to make the most out of life now and I am sad that it took my dad's death to make me realize this. But I can make a choice. I can control my life to the best of my ability and make it all I want it to be. If I can just hold my dad's love and the strength he showed during his battle close to my heart and turn that love into positive energy. I will get through, with time and effort. I choose to be strong today and every day after.

Be healthy and loved - -

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Heaven Has A New Angel

Do you believe in angels?

I do and always have. I never thought twice that angels existed in Heaven. I couldn't imagine how God could handle everything He has to handle alone so I've always envisioned Him assigning angels to each and every one of us to help Him watch over us. I know I've always had angels watching over me. My first angel perhaps was my mom's mother Ruth whom I never met. She died before I was born. Or maybe my dad's father? Or maybe God assigns angels to us based on something else. No matter how we get our angels, my life has always felt blessed and that I've been watched over. I often pondered the saying "God doesn't give us anything we can't handle." I once told my cousin Karen that I must not be very strong because God hadn't given me anything hard to handle. My life has been good and fairly easy for me. Perhaps that is because I've had angels watching over me.

Now I know I have another angel up above that will watch over me more than any other. Although I feel my dad is still here with me, his love and spirit feels strong in my heart, I also know he is up there in Heaven looking out for me and my family. Sometimes it's the little things. One thing I have been feeling since my dad passed away is guilt when I am having a good time or having fun. I still feel like I shouldn't be enjoying myself and that I need to be visiting with him. Of course that isn't possible and I know that but I have to stop myself to remind myself of that. Just Friday we were going to Hurricane Harbor with my best friend Krysti and her kids. We had made the plans a while ago and were really looking forward to it. We bought our tickets online to eliminate standing in line and they were $5 cheaper too! Cool. We drove in one car to save on parking. Krysti drove down and got us in an aisle where most of the spots we already taken. We drove and we going to have to backtrack to the area that cars were coming into when we saw an open spot close to the aisle where we had to walk to the park entrance. My dad was looking out for us. My mom insists she has a parking angel. She probably does. Once we got to the park entrance there was a line to go through security. The line that was open was for no backpacks, purses, etc. which of course we had so we got into one of the other longer lines. The no bag line cleared out and the attendant motioned us forward even though we had bags. Daddy strikes again. Finally, and this one is big. We walked up to the turnstiles and I handed the attendant our tickets that we had printed at home. I said there was six of us and as she counted the papers, it became clear that we only had five tickets. She counted again and there were only five tickets. Krysti was distraught thinking she forgot to print or bring one of the tickets. But instead of the attendant sending us back to the ticket booth to buy another ticket, she let us in. She said it was okay and let us go anyway. That was both my dad looking out for us and that woman being an angel herself. I picture my dad whispering in her ear "it's okay, let them pass." I also know it was my dad telling me to have a good time. To enjoy my life with my kids and my wonderful friends. I hope he went on the rides with us too because we had so much fun!

I also know there are angels here on Earth. Angels among us because they surround me every day in the form of my friends. Maybe we are angels in training while we are here on Earth and earning our wings for when we reach Heaven. It doesn't really matter to me. I am just thankful for them all. All the ones sent to watch over me and my family and I hope I can be one to others on this Earth and in Heaven someday.

Be happy and loved.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last blogged. That either speaks to how busy I have been or bottled up. Hard to tell which if not both at this point.

It's day three after my dad passed and I think I am starting to feel the effects. I haven't had a real good cry since it happened on Wednesday. The sobs came when he took his last breath. Then the constant stream of water that comes uncontrollably. But since then I felt a sense of calm and quiet sadness. The sadness was in there just not yet at the surface, close enough to the top to control my every emotion but today I fear it is bubbling to the top, ready to explode. Today I feel edgy and unsure. My confidence is low and I fear for what is to come. I know it is in there just waiting to be released. I have no delusions that this is the last of my emotions in regards to my dad's passing and possibly that is why I am more aware of the feelings and emotions I am having today.

Up until now I have tried not to berate myself or judge my feelings. Everyone handles grief in their own way and I am no different. Just because I am not sitting here at home on the couch crying my eyes out does not mean that I didn't love my dad. I know I am still in shock and I think in denial of some kind although I was there. I saw him take his last breaths with my own eyes and felt him leave his deteriorated body to be at peace and see the ones that have passed before him. I guess as many of my friends have told me who have lost a loved one, you just keep expecting them to call or walk through the door as if nothing has happened. I know he won't but I guess it doesn't stop me from wanting him to.

I am trying to stay busy with everyday things such as household chores, trying to have fun with the kids before they go back to school and reconnecting with my husband. I'm good at keeping busy with tasks that need to get done. I think that is what has got me through the last month or even five months while my dad was sick.

Writing these thoughts and feelings out helps. I feel it is a kind of release and a way of expressing myself so it doesn't stay all bottled up in here. Even if no one else reads this, I will have it to look back on and remember this time in my life. A hard time. A trying time. A sad time that I am going to survive and be stronger from. That I know deep down inside just as I know my dad is in a better place today looking down on me and my family in his cowboy hat & boots with his mother, father, and brothers by his side as our faithful dog Cheyenne lays at his feet while he sips on a cool ice tea. Love you daddy!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Land of the free - Memories

Happy 4th everyone! I spent the day with my family & running errands. Something so normal and something I miss in my life. I was so content to be at home, to run errands with no other agenda for the day except to get done what I had to get done. I did laundry, I watered my plants. I didn't fight the crowds to go see fireworks and I am perfectly okay with it. I have many memories to fill my head with happiness.

I was talking to my mom today on the phone after she visited my dad. She took today for me to give me a break despite the fact that we got a call at 6:45am that my dad had taken a fall out of bed last night. Thankfully he wasn't hurt very bad, no broken bones. We have put an alarm on his bed now in case he tries to get out again. Anyway, she was telling me how she was just talking to him, telling him it was the 4th of July and she was telling him the story of how our dog Cheyenne use to get so freaked out on the 4th due to the fireworks. Oh the poor baby, our sweet baby, a 65lb. German Shepard! Unfortunately, when he was a puppy the neighbors shot bottle rockets off at him and he was never the same. On the 4th or during a thunderstorm our strong, fierce German Shepard became a big baby. He'd try to crawl into cupboards to escape the noise. It was quite a site to see. This big dog trying to crawl into this little space. Of course it was so sad too. Usually on the 4th we would have to give him a tranquilizer to keep him calm.

One of my favorite stories about Woofie (as I called him) was one year my mom had gone out to get something at the store. While she was out, she saw a German Shepard roaming the neighborhood and wondered why and how Cheyenne had gotten out. After making our friend follow the dog in the car, she finally got out to catch up with him. Our friend wasn't so sure she should approach him as he might be freaked out from the tranquilizer and wasn't responding to his name but my mom insisted. She got out and told him to go home and get my dad to help her with Cheyenne. Our friend left only to return several minutes later with a look of panic on his face. He told my mom "Lynn get in the car." My mom was like "what are you crazy, where's Tom?" Our friend said it again "get in the car." My mom said "no I need help with Cheyenne" and our friend said through gritted teeth, "that's not Cheyenne." Cheyenne was back at home with my dad sound asleep at his feet. My mom realized she had her arms around this huge, strange dog! She was so lucky he didn't bite her! I love that story and my mom can probably tell it better but it brings a smile to my face every time I think of it or hear it.
I showed my kids Cheyenne's collar I found at my dad's apartment when I started cleaning it out the other day. They seemed as touched by it as I had been. Especially the fact that my dad had kept it all these years and now I will too. It brings tears to my eyes now as I think back on my childhood and how much we loved that dog. My dad really loved him and the feeling was mutual. I wrote in my e-mail update the other day how I had found the collar and it made me cry. My friend wrote back that she was fine until she got to that part and then she broke down crying. She said it was funny how a good dog story brings it all out and that is so true. It is weird to me how at times when other people are sad about my dad's health or his weakening condition, I can't cry. But then when I come across our family dog's collar, I break down and continue to tear up every time I think about him or my memories of him. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me for not crying about my dad. Then I find myself tearing up at other times when I wouldn't expect it. Maybe when others are sad, I am being strong for them? I am sure when I see my dad move onto a more peaceful place I will find the tears will come easily and probably from a variety of emotions; sorrow, relief, anger, regret, and pure weakness of heart.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is it okay to be happy?

So today I spent a lazy Sunday at home with the kids until later in the day when we went to see Indiana Jones together. Jess had already seen it with Papa and Kevin had no desire to see it so I thought we'd get out of the house and get out of the heat. As I sat there, I was so happy to be spending time with the kids that I thanked them both for coming with me. I was thrilled to be there with them and found myself enjoying the movie. I loved just being entertained for a couple of hours (which I was, not a great movie but good enough!).

But then I started to think. . . is it right to be happy and enjoying myself when my dad is dying? Shouldn't I be at home waiting for the call or by his bedside holding his hand? Part of me wishes I could be there with him 24/7 as I know my time with him here on this Earth is very limited but I have a life. I have a family that means the world to me and I don't want to lose my sight of what will still be here when my dad leaves. But still, it is right to be going out and having fun while he lies there dying? I guess I'll never know because what is done is done. The past is the past. I can't change what has already happened. I can just hope my dad knows I love him as much as I can love a person and want him to find peace. I know in my heart he'd want me to be happy and spend time with my family. His family too.

It amazes me how we can control life for so many things like our plants, our pets, but not our loved ones who are already dying. I wish I could heal my dad of his diseases so that he could stay here with us longer but it's not like watering my plants every night. Or feeding the dog and getting her meds for her at the vet so she can stay here with us longer. It's just not that easy is it.

I recently got a Blackberry so I could keep up with my e-mail while I was away from home with the kids, etc. I found myself obsessed with the game BrickBreaker. Every spare minute I play it to let my mind go. One capsules that falls is LIFE. If you catch it with the paddle you get another life to extend the game. If only it worked that way in real life.

Be happy, loved and well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"All These Thoughts In My Head"

That's a quote from a song off Alanis Morrisette's new album "Flavors of Entanglement". I happen to be in love with the it and find myself listening to it over and over and over again in my car especially when I am alone or feeling heavy emotions about what is going on in my life with my dad.

The circle of life is an interesting thing. We come into this world and are cared for by our parents. We exit this world being cared for by our children. We start off wearing diapers and being fed, we end up in diapers and being fed. Sometimes babies are just plain cranking and don't know why or what they really want. Not hungry, not tired, just fussy (as Teri once descrbied her mood to me). My dad was just fussy for several days dealing with his pain and feeling helpless. Now he is not so fussy but helpless lying in his bed not able to communicate or move about freely. This is the price for not being in pain or so we believe. It was heartbreaking to see him lying in his bed today, his eyes glazed over but still holding the familiar blue tint and kindness I have know all my life. He is still very much "in there" and still fighting the fight. How difficult it must be to have to lie there and wait for a chance to communicate with your loved ones or those taking care of you. I have no doubt he'd rather be up in his wheelchair visiting with us and his friends smoking a cigarette but the pain is strong and the need to find relief stronger.

I wish I knew the answers. I wish I knew who this lesson in life was for, myself or my dad? Perhaps both of us. I know I am trying to learn from every second of it but how long will this course take to complete? My whole life I assume but I am ready for this chapter to be over. They say God doesn't give you anything you can't handle. I never thought I was very strong because all my life I have had a fairly easy time of things. I hope this is my test and I hope I can pass it. My friend Minda sent me an e-mail the other day with this story. I want to share it with you.

You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something to think about.
Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than their house.
The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely. As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up? Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this? 'Look at it.' He said. 'Read what it says.' She read the words ' United States of America ' 'No, not that; read further.' 'One cent?' 'No, keep reading.' 'In God we Trust?' 'Yes!' 'And?' 'And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin.
Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by?
When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful! When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, 'In God We Trust,' and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message. It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient..

Thought for the Day:
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring.
He sends you a sunrise every morning Face it, friend - He is crazy about you!
Send this to every 'beautiful person' you wish to bless.
God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.
Read this line very slowly and let it sink in...
If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

I really liked that last line. I have never been an overly religous person as most of you know but I have always believed in God as a higher source and now I am looking to that source to help me find the answers I am seeking and to lead my dad to a peaceful place with his family that has already passed on.

I need to pray tonight to get back in touch with God. I was praying a lot when all of this first started happening. I seemed to find strength and solace when I did. For some reason lately I haven't been. I seem to find a reason not to. I am too tired. I am too angry. God already knows what I am thinking but what if he doesn't? What if I need to voice my thoughts as part of my lesson of life I am learning? I will try tonight and every night after. Maybe that will help guide me in the right direction with my dad's illness. I hate questioning every decision, every thought I have. I feel guilty when I don't go see him every day. I feel rushed and anxious when I have to arrange for someone to watch my kids when I go visit him. Do I want to visit or have to visit? I want to visit as this is precious time I have with my dad before he leaves this earth forever. I should be thankful for every smile, breath and word we share until it is no longer possible to be together in this life. I am tired now and need sleep and with it some peace of mind and soul.

Be happy and loved and feel freely with your heart and thoughts.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taking the plunge (again!)!

Well, here I am typing again. I just had my first experience with losing an entire post!! UGH! I clicked on the preview and then didn't save it so I lost it!!! Oh well, lesson learned I guess although now I feel way less inspired to recreate what I got down on paper (keyboard) the first time but I'll give it a try. . .

I finally decided to take the plunge and start my own blog. As many of you know, I have wanted to be a writer for a couple of years now. I have continually struggled with what to write. Should I take a stab at a novel? Is magazine writing for me? If so, what should my topic be? Recently a friend told me I was good at writing greeting card sentiments (thanks Sue!). That sounds wonderful, do I start my own business producing the cards or just freelance? So as you can see, I am still struggling today with what's next. But for now, I know I want to write and with my Dad's sudden illness, I feel the urge to write something down almost daily so I am hoping the blog will fill that need and hopefully help guide me to move forward with some form of writing for the rest of the world to read (dream big!).

I want to share this quote:

"Life is all about timing . . .
the unreachable becomes reachable,
the unavailable become available,
the unattainable, attainable.
Have the patience.
Wait it out.
It's all about timing."
- Stacey Charter
Timing is everything right? Have the patience. Well patience is something I have definitely lacked in the past especially when my children came along almost 10 years ago (can you believe Samantha is going to be 10 next month?). I seem to have very little patience when it comes to my children especially. I expect everything to be done right and quickly. Well, I don't do everything right and quickly so why should I expect that from my kids, family & friends? I shouldn't and I am trying not too. Ever since my Dad has gotten ill, I have been practicing patience a lot more. I am still not 100% there but I am better. You have to be when you are dealing with a health issue or you will go crazy. There is a lot of "waiting" to see what happens next when someone is ill and you don't know what will happen next. Right now we are waiting to see what happens next after my Dad's radiation therapy has ended. Right now he is tired and weak. A condition we hope is only an after effect of the radiation.
These days I am trying to take one day at a time and appreciate the wonderful things in my life. My talented and healthy children. Jess singing at Flagpole Friday at school (he rocked!). Samantha developing a lifelong friend in her dance buddy Maddy. The hummingbird feeding in my garden. One more day with my Dad. My hard working husband who provides for our family and comes home at the end of the day. Everyday I am thankful for more and more and hope to express it here in my blog. I also want to make the most of each day as we don't know if it will be our last. Today Jess had basketball practice at his school so instead of sitting and watching I walked around the playground to get my workout in. Normally I would have made an excuse as to why I didn't get to work out today (the kids are home, Kevin is working, etc.). I felt good for making the time and just doing it. I made time to see my Dad today and let the kids visit with their Grandpa (Pops) before he leaves for his trip. Dinner for Father's Day tonight and well wishes for a much deserved trip. Today I feel good, if only for today.