Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving was mama’s favorite holiday. Before she got sick she loved hosting the whole family and would spend hours planning the meal and making her shopping lists. She took such pride in setting a beautiful table and in making sure family traditions were upheld. 

Mama’s beloved grandmother loved spiced peaches. She made them from scratch and were a staple at every holiday she hosted. Even after she died mama made sure there was a dish of the peaches at every Thanksgiving table. Hardly anyone ever ate them, but mama didn’t care. They held  space for her grandmother and brought her comfort on a day where her grandmother would be sorely missed. 

This year I’m including spiced peaches on my table in hopes they bring me comfort just as they did mama. A tiny remembrance for the women who came before me. A symbol of my commitment to hold onto the traditions that they valued and established. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Needing

It’s been five months since you left. It’s not gotten any easier, it’s just become different. There’s this nagging feeling that something isn’t right. That there’s a piece of me slightly askew and no matter what I do I can’t make it fit back in place. Most of the time I can handle it. I grit my teeth, put my head down, and just deal. But  there are moments I just can’t. I’m in the midst of a time where all I want is you. I still need you. 

One of my sweet boys is struggling. I am particularly protective over this child. He has the same ability I do to plaster a smile on his face and plow through the day. Once he steps off the bus the facade falls and all his insecurities come rushing out. I am working with the school to remedy the situation, but the careful discussion and calculated words spoken at our meetings have left me bruised and lonely. I desperately need to hear the words that I’m making the right choices. That I’m correct in what I’m thinking.  I need your experience as both a teacher and a mother. I still need you. 

I’m fostering a litter of high needs kittens. They are battling a congenital issue that makes it hard for them to keep food down and absorb nutrients. One of them has to be held upright for 20 minutes after every feeding. Despite all my effort and research they still aren’t thriving and I feel like we are constantly teetering on the edge. I so badly want them to make it. I need your rescuers intuition. I still need you. 

The twins must be in the midst of a developmental leap. They aren’t sleeping well and are frustrated by the tiniest things. Rhodes has taken to bursting into tears while clenching his fists and screaming at the top of his voice. Laurel has discovered stomping off and slamming doors. My nerves are frayed and I completely lost my cool yesterday. I feel so inadequate. How do I mother these five little hearts when my own still hasn’t completely recovered?  I need your words of encouragement. I need to hear stories about how I frustrated you at their age. I need to hear that I’m a good mom even if I yell sometimes. I still need you. 

You left us too soon, mama. I wasn’t ready. I’m still not. I still need you. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Birthday

Today Tana reminded me that my birthday is on Saturday. I had completely forgotten. In the back of my mind I knew it was coming, but only two days away??? It will be my first one without you. 

I’ve been thinking about past birthdays. The ones you made so special... Trips to the circus, brand new digital watches, white cakes with pink flowers. After I lived on my own you and daddy would call early in the morning and sing me awake with a laughter filled version of Happy Birthday. We’d talk about my plans for the day and you’d remind me that I wasn’t really a year older until the time of my birth: 9:30 am. 

After I became a mother I learned how different those birthdays must have been for you. Every one so bittersweet. Spending the day remembering every stage of labor and reliving the sweet relief of finally having your baby in your arms. I learned that those morning calls were as much for you as they were for me. They were your way of reconnecting with the baby girl grown up. 

Last year my birthday was a disaster. A cancelled dinner and a hurried visit tainted the taste of a store bought cake. I scolded myself at the time: “You’re turning 42. You don’t need your mama to celebrate with you.” But I did. And I still do. I’m turning 43 and I need my mama to celebrate with me. 

I wish I could have a do over of last year. I’d throw my arms around you and thank you for the cake. I’d be thankful for the short visit instead of wishing for more. I’d ask you to tell me the story of my birth one more time. We’d laugh about daddy talking cars with the nurse during your contractions. We’d compare labors and reminisce about you being there for Will’s birth. I’d make you take a birthday picture with me ignoring your pleas to put the camera down. We’d light my clown candle -the one you saved from my first birthday and lit every single birthday after that. I’d savor every single second I had with you. 

 I imagine Saturday will be a day full of mixed emotions. Celebrating with my babies but missing you. That seems to be the way of things right now. Being truly happy in the moment, but always having a nagging feeling that a piece of me is missing.  I have my clown candle and I’ll be sure to light it.  It hasn’t missed a birthday yet.  And even though I know wishes are silly, I’ll be thinking of you when I blow it out. 







Friday, July 6, 2018

Help

Yesterday I shared some pictures of how we celebrated the Fourth of July. We had a fun day and it felt really good to smile and laugh with our friends and my dad. Mama was mentioned several times, but I never felt overly sad. It was, for the most part, an easy, happy day. 

There was one portion of our day that I didn’t share in my happy Facebook/Instagram posts. It wasn’t included because I feel like it deserves more attention than what I can give in a social media post. 

Most of my friends know that I foster kittens for the City of Georgetown Animal Shelter. I chose this shelter because I read an article in the Williamson County Sun about their need for fosters. Over the years I’ve realized how lucky I was to have stumbled upon this particular shelter. It’s an amazing place full of people that genuinely love the animals in their care. They work hard to provide their charges with enrichment and stimulation (this is so important in preventing behavior problems and depression). They seek out training opportunities for both their employees and their volunteers. They evaluate each and every animal multiple times and council potential adopters about animals they feel will best fit their home and family. It’s these reasons and so many more that I continue to put so much of my heart into working with this one shelter. 

The animal rescue community is a tight knit group. The people are passionate about their mission and love to talk about their experiences. News of the Williamson County Animal Shelter’s plan to turn a livestock arena into temporary animal housing traveled fast. The county is expanding and remodeling their shelter and in order to speed up construction (thus saving tax payers money) they needed to move ALL of their dogs out of their current spot. At first there was much excitement about the creativity and ingenuity the county was using to save money and fix the problem of where to place their dogs. The Canine Corral seemed to be a quirky solution to a logistical mess. Then the Corral was opened and the tone of the discussions changed. There were rumblings of concern about cleanliness and disease containment, about temperature control, about stress on the animals. Where talk was once positive and enthusiastic it was now disgusted and concerned. 

As we were leaving the Fourth of July festivities we had to pass right by the Corral to get to our car. I decided to take the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Surely it couldn’t be as bad as I was hearing. The kids are always up for window shopping for puppies so off we went. 

* The next section contains pictures that I took. There were several signs saying pictures and video aren’t allowed. My concern for the dogs housed there was greater than my need to follow their rule. Please be aware that you may want to scroll past them if you are squeamish. 

The first thing we noticed was the noise. Rhodes immediately covered his ears and commented that it was LOUD. It was more than loud. It was painful. The whirring from huge industrial fans, blaring patriotic music, and the barks and shrieks from the dogs combined to create a hurricane of sound that was both overwhelming and agitating. A shelter employee tried to explain to the kids that they weren’t allowed to put their fingers in the kennels. We had to resort to gestures and charades to finally understand the rule because it was impossible to hear her. It was THAT loud. 

Then there was the smell. A horrid combination of urine, feces, and bleach. A different employee was walking around pouring straight bleach on random spots on the concrete floor. At the time I assumed the spots were urine. As we continued our tour I realized it could have been blood she was treating. I took this picture of one of the places where we found blood splattered on the ground. I never saw what caused the blood. A dog fight? Was someone bit? 



The humidity and heat were stifling.  The bleach fumes and the temperature caused Will start wheezing. This thermometer was attached to one of the kennels. 



There were huge industrial fans placed sporadically among the kennels. They did help get the air moving, but did little to cool things down. 

Most of the dogs looked healthy, but there were several that should have been removed from the adoption floor. This poor pup was obviously sick. There was vomit on his kennel floor and all over his bed. He was pacing between his bed and the door to his kennel in what looked like distress. This should have been noticed and cleaned in the time we were there. It wasn’t. 





We left soon after seeing that dog. The kids were getting upset and I was worried about Will. 

We have all felt the growing pains our community is currently experiencing: traffic is bad, the wait time for a table in our favorite restaurant has increased, lines at the grocery store are awful. These are all minor inconveniences and we deal with them because we know good things are coming (Yay for Zoe’s Kitchen and Jason’s Deli).  While The Williamson County Animal Shelter is noble in its quest to grow with the community, I can’t help but think it’s at the expense of the animals currently in their care.  The treatment of these dogs shouldn’t be considered a growing pain. It isn’t an inconvenience that they can’t breathe due to bleach fumes. They shouldn’t be subjected to noise pollution so intense it made one of my children cry. They aren’t sacrifices to be made for the greater good. 

One way to start improving the conditions for these animals is to get people talking. Our community cares. It is full of compassionate people who I have to believe wouldn’t condone this mistreatment if they knew it was happening. 

Here are several ways you can spread the word:

Call or email The Williamson County Sun.
512 930 4824 Ask them to do a story about The Canine Corral. 

Write a letter to the editor of The Williamson County Sun 
Letters@wilcosun.com

Call Department of State Health Services, PHR7
Phone: 254-778-6744 

Call Williamson County Animal Control 
Ask to speak to a supervisor and make a complaint. 






Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dear Grant,

Dear Grant,

You came home today from your writing class with a funny look on your face. You told me you’d read my blog and that you were surprised I felt so sad. I apologized that you were upset and sent you off to play, but after some thinking I feel like I left some things unsaid. 

Grant, what you’ve seen with my actions and read on my blog isn’t me keeping a secret. It isn’t me being fake or disingenuous. What I’m doing is called
grieving. I know you’ve heard this word before. Grieving is messy and complicated and nobody does it the same way. Sometimes it takes people a long time to feel better after someone dies. Sometimes people don’t grieve at all. This isn’t smart. Don’t do this. It will make you miserable later, sweet boy. Most people grieve like I am. We have moments of feeling really really icky and moments of feeling almost normal. The rest of the time we feel mostly ok and we do the best we can to get thru the really icky times when they come. The tricky thing is we never know what can bring on the icky moments. That’s why sometimes you’ll see me start crying out of nowhere or I’ll be happy one second and sad the next. 

When you grieve it’s important to find something to help you feel better when those icky moments hit. Some people paint or draw. Some people exercise. I write. I get out all the yucky feelings and try to make sense of my jumbled thoughts. This is called processing. When you’re sad or angry your thoughts get jumbled a lot. Sometimes you don’t know what it is that is making you feel bad you just know you do. Processing and writing help me figure it out so I can begin to feel better. Confusion = unhappiness  Clairty = peace Remember this... it can help you even in situations other than grief. 

Grant, something else I want you to know is that I always write the truth. Always. BUT, when I write it’s always at emotional times. It’s when I need to figure things out or I want to get something off my chest. This means that what I write is going to sound very very dramatic. This could be confusing to you (as it was today).  When you read my blog please remember this:  It’s how I felt at that moment, but it’s not how I feel all the time. 

Ganky, you are a writer. You’re a great writer and you have gotten so much better this year! A piece of advice from one author to another: to grow as a writer you’re going to have to read. Reading things that make you think and push you to feel will bring out a new depth in your writing. I’m sorry that my post shocked you, but if you felt something new then maybe it was a good thing. Maybe one day you’ll write an essay about the day you learned how to grieve. 

I love you. 
Mommy

Sunday, June 3, 2018

One Month

You took your last breath one month ago today. I haven’t heard your voice longer than that. Your last words to me were: “I’m really sick, Lissy”.  They were over phone. Daddy holding it to your ear. So proud that you were conscious and alert enough to talk to me.  I could feel the hope radiating off of him through the distance. You were gone less than a week later. 

This month has been an odd mix of beauty and despair. My grief has taken me on a journey back in time. It’s brought up forgotten memories of my childhood. Times full of laughter and innocence. It’s made me grateful for your mothering in a whole new way. It’s brought my relationship with Laurel into a sharper focus. She will reach for my hand and I’ll dissolve into tears. Her sweet voice says she loves me and I choke back sobs. It’s as if I suddenly understand what is at stake. The sacredness of the mother daughter relationship has moved onto a whole new plain having now given birth to a daughter and witnessed the death of my mother. 

Losing you has unearthed a sense of envy that I haven’t experienced before. I find myself watching families. I watch the hugs, the waves, the familiarity- all knowing that it will break my heart a little more. I just have to see it. I have to see what I once had. What my children won’t have. Am I a glutton for punishment or am I peeling off layers of hurt to find my new normal? I don’t know. 

I still reach for the phone to call you. I have so much to say. I find myself keeping a list like I do for my friends when we haven’t seen each other for awhile. “Tell Mama...”  I wonder how much you’ve seen? I had a moment of anxiety when I was getting rid of something of yours. “Is she watching? Am I making her sad that I’m not keeping this?” Then I decided that you and Aunt Pam were probably giggling at my
angst and I shook my fist heavenward. It felt good to share a joke with you, Mama.  I miss laughing with you. We did so much of that. 

Dad brings me loads of your things to sort through every few days. I now have your beloved Franklin Covey planner that you carried for years. The last inserts are from 2013. They are full of reminders you’d given yourself as your memory started leaving you. Your home phone number. Directions to my house from yours (even though it was only 3 minutes away). I also have the planner I made you a few years ago. The Franklin Covey had become too complicated and I made a simple one in hopes it would help you not forget birthdays, Christmas shopping etc. It didn’t help. Your dementia was too advanced by then. It didn’t have one mark from you in it. It broke my heart that my help had come too late. I am finding so much comfort knowing that you are now whole again. You don’t have to have reminders or help. You aren’t embarrassed anymore. You are perfect and healed. 

Mama, I love you more than words. I miss you every single day. Be happy. Be whole. 




 


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dizzy

Grief is the by far the biggest dichotomy I’ve ever experienced. 

It’s only been two weeks that we’ve been without you, yet it’s already been two weeks. 

I feel raw, exposed, and wounded. Always seeking cover. Happiest when it’s finally dark and I can find asylum under the weight of my blankets. Yet I’m almost offended when my sadness isn’t acknowledged. The cashier chirps “Have a nice day!” and I want to snap at her “My mother is dead. YOU have a nice day”. 

I won’t circle the wagons. I won’t call to my sisters to lean into and cry on. Yet when they come anyway I cling to them as if they are my very breath. Desperate for the light they provide and greedily taking the balm they offer my torn spirit. 

I shun the things that remind me of you. I trim back my rose bushes. I put the photos on the highest shelf. Yet I look for signs everywhere: feathers, cardinals, butterflies.  I dream about you. Frantic plays full of jail cells and chains. I’m being kept from you. How do I get you out?  How much do I owe? I wake up sweaty and sick. 

Oh, Mama. I’m dizzy with the need of wanting you. Yet I’m dizzy with the want of needing to forget.