Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Importance of Tradition

So, yeah, this Christmas has the potential to SUCK.  I can EASILY slip into a state of depression over both my parents being gone and not having either one of them here with us for the Holidays.  And believe me, the majority of the time, I am really depressed about it.  I had just become use to my Mom not being a part of the Holidays anymore and then my dad dies also.  This is huge for me because the past two Christmases that mom wasn't here, we would go pick up dad in Richmond on Christmas Eve day and drive him to our house where he would spend the day and night with us.  We would all wake up on Christmas day together, and if the boys were at their dad's, we would wait for them to show up and then open gifts together.  It was so wonderful having dad here.  We would drive him back to Richmond on Christmas afternoon because he would have his dialysis treatment the next day and wanted to be home early enough to rest up and get to bed on time.  That won't happen this year.  Also, this is the first year that my mother in law has completely changed how our Christmas Eve will be, so the one other tradition I had become accustomed to over the past 10 years, is no longer the same.  I am a creature of  habit and tradition.  It is hard for me to let go of those traditions. When you lose both of your parents, you have no choice but to let go of all your traditions.

Ever since I got divorced 12 years ago, my holidays have never been quite the same or special.  Now that my kids are so much older, it is even more of a struggle to get excited about a holiday.  Every other one is not spent with them, and the ones that are spent with them are usually only for the day of the Holiday and that is it.  For a momma who is use to tradition, that is a hard pill to swallow.

This Christmas I have really struggled with getting in the groove.  I had ordered Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift to help me navigate through the Advent season and find some meaning.  It has really helped at times and at other times, my depression gets the best of me and I find myself honorary guest at a huge Pity Party.  Yesterday, I finally decided to stop being such a baby and get into the spirit.  I found out my kids would be here on Christmas Eve and half of the day on Christmas day and that was enough reason to finally make me want to go get a tree.  So my husband and I went out to the woods, found a crazy cedar tree that I deemed perfect, cut it down and brought it back into the house.  I proceeded to decorate it with my mom's Shiny Brite ornaments she passed down to me and wore some vintage red and green ragg socks that had belonged to my dad.  I made my own evergreen decorations for the doors, like my momma would do and just tried my best to turn my attitude around.  My parents always had a real Christmas tree every year for as long as we were still coming home for Christmas.  I knew that they would be very disappointed in me for not getting a tree just because I am sad.  So, I put my big girl panties on and found a tree.

Today I spent the entire day baking cookies from my mom's recipes.  Her Pecan Sandies and her Cheese Wafers.  Now, my mom had a real knack for writing out the ingredients in a recipe and nothing else.  No directions for mixing, what temp. to preheat oven, how long to bake, etc.  I should have paid better attention when I was little, but of course, we never think of those things then.  The cheese wafers I was really nervous about.  I haven't made them ever, even though every Christmas I look at the "recipe" and say, I can do this.  This year, I took the bull by the horns and did it.  AND, they turned out wonderful!!!!!!  I was so pleased.  Now, I ended up making `11 dozen cookies and I am fully aware that 3 of my sons will be here late Christmas Eve night until mid day on Christmas day at which time they will leave and go back to their dad's.  Why on earth I made 11 dozen cookies for basically Robby and I, I have not a clue other than, it just felt right.  Maybe I will be surprised by some amazing guest who has a hankering for Pecan Sandies, Cheese Wafers and Peanut Butter Cookies.  We'll see.

While I was baking away, I played Christmas songs like the songs I heard growing up....... Perry Como, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, you know the ones.  All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed with joy and a sense of Christmas.  It all became crystal clear what Christmas was about.

Tradition......the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice:  (according to Dictionary.com)

Tradition, something that I think as a daughter/female, is more important to me that it may be to my brothers or other males.  I have been stripped of so many of my traditions, it is hard for me to get a hold of any holidays anymore.  But yet, they are what helps me plant my feet firmly in any Holiday.  They are what let's me know what is expected of me.  When I don't have traditions to follow, I am lost.  But today, I took those traditions of my Christmases way past, and found a way to work them into my life.  I felt a sense of calm and peace while baking my momma's recipes and listening to classic Christmas songs on a turntable that belonged to my daddy.  I pray my momma saw me today, trying to carry on her traditions in my very un-traditional household the best way that I could.   I pray that she saw the happiness it was bringing to me to use her rolling pin, her pastry brush, wear her apron, read her recipes and follow somewhat, in her footsteps.  I hope my daddy found happiness in me using his old turntable, playing old records and smiling all the while.  I just know that it is what made my day for me and really put me and kept me in the spirit of Christmas.  Whether anyone else will notice or appreciate the traditions I carried on today, they made me happy.  I don't have any daughters and really doubt that any of this will pass down to my sons.  Perhaps someday there will be significant others in their lives and maybe they will care what I tried to do for my kids as far as traditions and some will be passed down.  Making new traditions with your family is very important and so is carrying on a few from your past.  I myself, am so thankful for them because they are the only thing that have managed to pull me up out of my funk this Holiday.  They aren't the same as my momma and dad being here, but at least I can feel them in Spirit and that is all I have left.

I wish for all of you, a Christmas filled with old traditions and the beginnings of your own new traditions.  NEVER underestimate the impact these traditions have on your family and loved ones.  There will come a day when that is all they have left and they will want those traditions more than you know.

Merry Christmas to you all!!!!
.            

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I'm Trying


Faith is not something I have always had.  I mean, I guess I have had it, but I never really felt it.  So, I guess that means I didn't really have it.  It's funny how when you lose someone you are so very, very close to, like the two people who created you and brought you into this world, you start to feel like you have to have faith, you have to believe.  You have to believe that there is something greater that their souls go to when they leave this world.  That their bodies don't just rot in the ground or in a coffin and that is the end.  I can't believe that, I won't believe that.  What is the point to our lives if that is all there is in the end?

There have been few times when I have really felt like I needed to have something bigger to hold on to.  When I had to believe or I could simply not carry on.  I begged for there to be more and for a second chance once when I was looking death in the face and I have begged for there to be more when my mom died.  Now that my dad has died also, I have decided that simply begging isn't enough.  I have to believe.  I have to commit.  I have to not doubt that which I cannot see.  How can I expect there to be more when I won't commit to believing that there is?  And more importantly, what do I have to lose?  If there isn't more, then i will never know the difference.  But if there is more, oh my goodness, why would I want to miss out on that simply because I wouldn't believe?

It will be a process, it will be a time of learning and questioning.  It will be a journey but one I am willing to take.  I am so blessed to have people in my life willing to teach me, to walk beside me and help me.  There is something bigger.  I have to believe it, I have to live it, I have to let it into my heart.  If I ever want to stop not allowing myself to see the joy in the Holidays and the birthdays that come along, the Mother's Days and the Father's Days that I no longer can celebrate, the anniversaries, the start of the new Seasons, then I have to believe that there is something MORE!!!  That God IS. That my mom and dad are exactly where they BELIEVED they would be when their spirits left this world.  That they are together again, maybe not as husband and wife, but as something even more amazing and wonderful.  That I will see them again.  So this Advent Season, I am beginning my journey.  I may stumble along the way, I may have my doubts, but I will stick with it and I will find  my way.  It may not be by this January, when dad and mom would have both celebrated their birthdays, it may not be by April, when they would have celebrated another year of marriage, but it will happen.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful for........

Thankful For:

My husband, my kids
My brothers, their families.
My friends, their families.
My health, my home.
My simple life.
My pets.

My God
My childhood.
My gifts and talents.
My desire to try new things.
My willingness to live and let live.
My ability to let go.

This Thanksgiving is a tough one.  Robby and I are by ourselves and he is sick.
The past two Thanksgivings were so wonderful, spending it with my 
brothers, their families and my dad, that it makes this one 
so much more difficult.
Every year it seems the Holidays are a little less Holiday-ish than they
use to be.  
I guess this just happens as life goes on.
But, in spite of it all,
I have so many blessings in my life.
And since my mantra is now, 
Choose Happiness,
I will be happy today for the things I have,
the things I am thankful for.
This will be enough,
as it is much more than many people have.
I miss my mom and dad,
I miss talking to them 
and 
especially on the Holidays.
But I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember to find something to be thankful for.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My New Year's Mantra


Today makes 2 months since daddy passed on.
Today, I came up with 2015's Mantra:
I CHOOSE HAPPINESS

This will be the last mantra I ever set for a New Year and I am starting it now.
There never needs to be another one.
This one covers it all.
With Happiness in my heart,
fear, sadness, anger, grief and guilt
have no room.
Happiness in my heart only makes room for 
LOVE.

Today was an awakening.
Nothing out of the ordinary,
just an understanding that came over me.
Another dream a few nights ago,
telling me again that they are okay,
and to please LIVE.
Live with Happiness.
Life is for the Living.

I spent some time outside today.
It was rainy, cloudy, dreary by anyone's standards.
But I sat down and the chickens came over to me,
my dog laid down next to me,
the birds darted and chirped around me.
All of the simple beauty of my life became so clear to me.
I couldn't help but smile and laugh.

I took this photo with my Ipod
and when I looked at it,
I saw it.
Pure Happiness.
Yes, life is good.
Life is for the living.
I am ALIVE.

And so, 
though I will never stop missing you both
and wishing you were physically with me.
I will move forward and live my life
the way you loved to see me live it.
Full of laughter, love, little adventures
and crazy ideas.
And I will know you are there,
watching, rolling your eyes, smiling and laughing.

Today and for now on
I CHOOSE HAPPINESS!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Remembering and Reflecting



My Mom hated having her picture taken and she probably hates my whimsical rendition of her even more.  But if she can see this painting, I hope she sees what I was trying to capture were the things that made her my beautiful mom.....her beautiful blue eyes, her gorgeous white hair and the gentle smile and look she could have when she was letting her guard down and just letting herself feel loved.  The pearls around her neck represent the beautiful gift my dad gave her when they married.  Pearls that I have the honor of owning now but find myself to scared to wear for fear of losing them.

Three years ago today I lost my mom.  A quick, swift blow to my world and the rest of my life.  She was snatched from us in a blink of an eye, clearly a decision God made and was certain of, for there was no doubt she would not return to us in any form.  Regardless of how much my heart hurts because of that swift swipe of her life, I am so thankful for her that it happened that way.  It's how she would have wanted it.

The past three years have not been easy and try as I may, moving forward seems to happen at a snails pace.  My dad was my inspiration to move forward everyday because somehow, he, the person who loved her more than anyone, found the strength to get up everyday, accomplish what needed to be done in the day, care for himself, be productive and carry on.  If he could do it, then surely I could do it.  One month and 26 days ago, Daddy left me and went to be with Mom, ironically at just about the exact same time of day as she left us.  Actually, it's really not so ironic at all, they were one.    I guess he just didn't feel like getting up and doing it "all' everyday anymore and I can't say I blame him. You did an awesome job daddy, and I am so proud of you!!!!  I know you were tired.

Some people deal with death really well,  I am not one of those people,  Many people find comfort knowing their loved ones are in a better place.  I may believe that they are in a better place for themselves, but my selfish heart believes that the better place for them is here with me.  But I am tired of being sad.  I am tired of yearning for someone, or now for two someones, to come back to me or answer the phone when I call.  I don't want to be sad anymore.  I want to create art that is happy art, not art that is helping me work through DEATH.  It's enough already and surely people are tired of me still grieving.  But the thing is, just about when I thought I was going to be able to move on with mom's passing, daddy had to go and die.  Damnit!!!!!!  And as if losing your first parent isn't bad enough, losing the second one is worse.  It's final.  I have no more parents.  I am an orphan.

The best I can hope for is to find a way to keep moving forward.  My art is how I best express myself these days.  As pitiful looking as it may be, I keep putting myself in classes with super inspiring artists, real artists.  My work compared to their's is juvenile and messy.  But, it is mine and it is helping me express what I need to express.  My hope is to start focusing my art on something new and different.  Something inspiring and refreshing for me.  I have some tough days ahead with clearing out and closing up my childhood home and letting go of my attachment to it.  But I will keep my daddy's strength and determination in the front of my mind and will move forward and hope to make mom and dad proud.

Mom, I love you and miss you so much, but I know how overjoyed you are that daddy is there with you now.  I promise I will try and find comfort in that.  Halloween will never be the same ever again for me.  But hey, I just thought of something........you lost your mom on Halloween and yet every year you still insisted on going and getting candy to hand out at the house, knowing very well you would probably only have a handful of trick-or-treaters.  You wanted to be sure you had candy for whoever may come to the door.  I guess I should let you be my role  model and learn to celebrate this Holiday again.  I hope for you, there are trick-or-treaters in Heaven and you get more than a handful come to your door.  I love you and if you want to ring my doorbell tonight just to let me know you are happy, I promise to answer and have a frozen Snickers bar ready to hand you.                      

Happy Halloween Mom!!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three Weeks Later

It's been three weeks since we said our final good byes.  The days go so slow and finding purpose in my days is a challenge.  I still go to cal you, morning and night, checking the clocks to see if it is time or if I am late.  Sometimes I still call, just to hear your voice on the message saying you can't get to the phone.
Last night I had such a vivid dream, though I know not of it's meaning.  It was Easter, a Holiday of celebrating re-birth.  I was home in my childhood neighborhood.  The church that was once across the street on the hill, that is now a Masonic Lodge, was a church again.  Crowds of people were gathering for Easter services and activities.  Family  members hiding Easter Eggs for a hunt that would happen later.   So many people gathering to celebrate a Holy Day.  I drove around the block, over and over again, past our house, but no one was ever home.  No car in the driveway, no main front door open and you standing at the storm door awaiting our arrival, no sign of life at all.  What struck me though was how bright WHITE everything was.  Everyone was wearing white and there was such a brightness and clarity to everything.  It frightened me, it was all so familiar but yet all so strange.  I just continued driving around the block, waiting for something to change, for some sign of life at my childhood home.  I watched everyone else and marveled at how happy and at peace they all were and wished I could stop, get out of my car and join them.  But I couldn't, I didn't belong.
I finally woke from that dream and remembered it so vividly.  All day I thought of  it and thought I had best write it down in hopes it would then leave my conscious and subconscious being.  It's clarity has haunted me all day and made me uncomfortable.
Three weeks have passed since I said my last good byes to you.  Three weeks of trying to understand that I will never see you on this earth again, that you will never be coming home to your things, will never complain to me again about all the solicitors that call you and all the junk you get in the mail.  Three weeks of not having been able to say good-bye the way I would want to say good-bye when I know it is the last time I will ever be able to say it again.  I wish you had come to me in that dream, i wish you had been standing in the doorway or driven up in your car.  I wish you never left and I wish I never had to say good-bye.

PS......please tell mom I love her and miss her oh so very much.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Using my Art

Everyday the mail brings more forms to fill out and mail back.  More ugly ways to remember my dad is no longer here with us.  When my mom passed, this didn't happen, but now that they are both gone, the paper work doesn't end.  Reading a Will that is written in the first person and hearing my dad's voice as I read words he would never actually speak in the real world is something I just can't bring myself to do.  I made it through less than half way, of the first paragraph and broke down sobbing. Not sure I will ever go back and read that paper......instead I handed it to Robby and asked him to just tell me what it is I need to do.

Through it all, I turn to the things that help me the most, my art and my family.  I am trying really hard to stay on top of my emotions and not let myself slip into a state that requires medication to get me out of.  Been there, done that, really don't want to re-visit that ugly place again.  Today, I made this entry in a journal I am doing for an on-line art class called "Kingdom Come".  I love the words to the song that accompanied the lesson and decided to include them in my journal entry.  This song continues to play over and over again in my head.  I believe it may just help.

 Oceans
Where Feet May Fail