Thursday, November 6, 2014

On twelve months

It is twelve months since losing my mother.  There is no poetic way to write it.  She is gone twelve months.
It was twelve months ago our family gathered around her bedside and watched her fade away.  Afterward, we spent time just being silent, just being.  I tried to speak into her ear and my voice would not work.  I screamed but all was quiet.  I was a silent strain.   My sister and I dressed her for her final ride, knowing that she would want it to be done properly.  She was a dignified woman and a lady.  Cancer never took my mother's dignity, even though she felt that it had.  As long as you hold yourself to the highest standards, you still have your dignity, even when it is difficult to reach the bar you keep setting for yourself.

Daily, I ask myself, "How long do I have to go on this way?"  I am nearly forty years old and I have no longer the person who brought me here.  When she left, there loomed such a gaping hole that I feel I might very well be swallowed up in it.  I suppose the giant hole has a name and it is Grief.  I know that Grief can swallow a person completely and I know that some people find that they cannot face their daily business without the pall of sadness that wraps around them like a swaddling blanket. There are those who prefer to dwell there.  There are also those who let it take them.  I do not want to risk sounding suicidal, because I most certainly am not.  But I do wonder, "How long must I go on without my Mom?"  Each time I look at her photograph, I think "I miss you so much, how long do I have to do this?"  And then...tears.  Her photograph does not answer.

The presence of my children is my answer.  The fact is I had my mother so much longer than she had hers. I am in the more fortunate position of having been raised by my mother into adulthood.  She knows I would always choose to stick it out and give my children all the advantages a mother can provide.  To leave them, would be pure selfishness.  But how to answer the question of how long must one go on this way?  What I mean to say is in this condition of sadness.  I manage very well in the day to day drumbeat of life.  I enjoy my work, my co-workers, my husband, my children, my family, my church, my friends.  With the help of family and friends, we tackle the logistics of getting the children where they need to be daily.  Somehow, the basics get done and no one gets hurt.  Frankly, it is all a blur.  Most days, I feel like life gets done, but not done very well.  Getting a delicious meal on the table used to seem like such a culinary adventure.  Now it is simply a burdensome task that deserves no more creativity than picking out the which ketchup to purchase.
At what point do I attend a social function or go to the mall and not constantly think, "Mom would have liked this. I wish she could be here."?  If there is one thing I have figured out, in these twelve months, it is that it does not get any easier.  I will always miss her.

I will always miss her smell.
I will always miss her smile.
I will miss her critiques.
I miss her infectious laugh and her wicked sense of humor.
I miss calling her on the phone for every question and to tell her every little mundane detail.
I miss her encouragement.
I miss her insistent generosity.
I miss her scrappiness.
I miss her unsolicited advice.
I miss the way she bragged about her all her children and her grandchildren.
I miss her obsessive cleanliness.
I miss her pissing me off.
I miss her telling me what to do.
I miss her amazing ability to be Mom.

When you miss the good, the bad and the ugly in a person whom you love, how do you carry on and live a normal life?  Or a happy life?  And all these questions just feel like a whistling into a deep cave.  The sound just gets lost and the answers are just as vague as the inquisition.

Oh to be in the arms of my sweet mother and to tell her one more time "I love you, Mom."


There are too many names of loved ones on this list.
But it is God's Will that they appear here to see.
Like the changing colors of Autumn's leaves,
There is a season and a time for all things.
Our time is continually drawing near,
 our souls draw nearer to Thee.
Our hearts are drumbeats on
 the march to Heaven.
Praise Him.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Early morning gift.

*I walked into my Mother's bedroom at the Farmhouse and there she was, sitting upright, in one of her dark-stained, ladder-backed chairs.  She was surrounded by family members, who were already enjoying her company and perched on her bed and on other chairs.  I was obviously late to the party and there was nowhere left to sit.  Her smile was beaming at me and she gave me a hearty "Hey Sweet!"  I walked over, knelt in front of her, put my head in her lap and hugged her deeply.  I said, "I can't believe you're really here!" and she only said, "I hate that it's so dusty."  I looked over at my puzzled brother and then I asked her, "You mean the house?"  She answered, "No, me."  I just hugged her more while she played with my hair.  I wanted to hold onto her forever and never, ever let her go- And then I woke up.*

I didn't want to open my eyes for a long time because I was trying my best to hold on to that image of her but I knew that it was only a pillow to which I was clamoring, instead of my beautiful Mother.  When I finally peeked at the clock it read 2:30 a.m.  I had just received my first dream visit from Mom and while it was so hard watching that image fade away into the darkness, I couldn't help but feel incredibly grateful for this brief-lived gift.

It really doesn't matter from where these gifts are generated- from God, from Mom herself, from some special area of the brain- what matters is I have these dreams and they help me.  I don't know if others have this experience, but after I lose people whom I love very deeply, they will occasionally visit me in my dreams.  My Grandmother Fleta left us in the Spring of 1999.  Since her passing, she has waited at her kitchen table for me numerous times.  Sometimes my Grandaddy Reid is there as well.  We always share a quick bite to eat and I pass the napkins around.  In these dreams, I always know they are really gone from us and that I will have to say goodbye.  I always tell them I am glad to see them and that I love them; and then they are gone again.  Because this is a recurring dream, I believe that I will see my Mother again in similar dreams.  It only took a little over a week for her to appear to me but I needed it so badly.  Anyone who has lost a dear one, no matter their age or their circumstance, knows how devastating and empty it can feel.  I am happy to report that Mom looked so beautiful and healthy in my dream, like she had never been sick a day in her life or had to endure the treatments to fight her disease.
This helps me to remember that she didn't really die, only cancer died, to paraphrase a quote from one of the sympathy cards Herbert received from a friend.  I have been reminded twice in the last week to "look inside myself to find her."  I think this is true as well.  I look at her five grandchildren and see her in all of them.  I look at my siblings and see her again.  I look inside myself and there she is.  Another person wrote that "losing a parent is one of life's saddest milestones" and yet another said, "it is the season of our lives." I know that I must accept this as true, but I also know that I don't ever have to say good-bye.  It was always, "I'll see you later, OK?"

I found this beautiful song that I hope you will take time to hear.  It is a reminder that while I am waiting for her, she is waiting for all of us.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61_qsDeuFu8&feature=share&list=ALYL4kY05133oxiIx_-pldYAFVm2Q_EwRM
This is Michael Kiwanuka, an artist recently seen on Austin City Limits.  It is beautiful song.  You will cry.

This post dedicated in the remembrance of my Beloved Mom, Cathy D. Ramsey, who left us far too soon, on November 6, 2013- Rest In Peace, Beautiful Lady

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This is not a cry for...

Not a cry for help.  Not a cry for sympathy.  Not a cry for validation.

I usually enjoy picking a topic and writing about it.  At times, my topics are tangential and folks who actually know me know that is pretty true to my nature.  I spend much of my time out in left field.  It is where I prefer to reside.  But this entry is all about me.  Not about work.  Not about food.  Not about some random event.  It is all about me.  More precisely, it is about me being a downright failure.
I have a hunch that I'm not alone in this feeling of being a failure, but right now, indulge me.  But, again I say, it isn't a cry for attention, sympathy, sad looks or even prayers.

This has been a week of abysmal fails.  I failed as a mother, sister, friend, daughter and caretaker.  I failed as a professional speech therapist, diagnostician and clinical supervisor.  I fail each year as a writer, musician and artist.  I fail every second as a dreamer and visionary.  I fail as a Christian and church-goer.  I fail as a housekeeper and gardener.  My knees and I fail as a runner.  I fail miserably at being a wife.

I lose my patience, I cuss, I roll my eyes, I blow, I neglect and I may not be loving enough.  I have not kept up with my friends in the way that I should.  I do not keep up with the journal articles nor do I stay abreast of the latest research on therapeutic modalities.  I feel lost at sea when it comes to the voluminous mess of paperwork that faces me each week.  I fail to model best practice consistently.  By the age of 40, my first novel should be written and I should have already learned to play the violin.  My career is not what I wanted it to be and I don't see my way clear to get it there.  I am cynical and I hate kool-aid.  There are so many days I do not feel I can face my fellow man.  I do not send the cards I want to send nor do I make the phone calls I need to make.  I am inflexible and grumpy.  My house is a mess and the weeds have taken everything out of doors.  I let the frost kill my tomatoes and I neglected to plant my mums in the ground or even keep them watered for the last week.  I love to exercise but exercise hates me.  As I am writing this at almost midnight, The Dude is working in the kitchen at making a soup because I haven't cooked in a month.

This has been an exercise in emotional cleansing.  I have a lot of work to do on myself.  I keep thinking I need to move back to Colorado to get myself straight, but then I realize I would only be trying to run away, hence failing at living honestly with my failures.

Don't cry for me, Argentina, or anyone else.  I am just having one of those moments.  You know, the moment when you stop blaming everyone else for your problems and you admit that you are the epic fail you never meant to become.  I'm not the only person who realizes this... right? Don't answer that.  I don't want to hear from a soul.

(The soup smells pretty good.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Life is only one time around"

I took this photo last night as I was driving home from my mother's house.  The message is on the marquee outside of the church in which I grew up.  It was really late but when I spotted it, I had an uncontrollable urge to share it with my little FaceBook community.  These words really spoke to me, especially in light of our current situation.  There is just so much to say but no words in which to say it. There is much I cannot express, but these words on the church marquee seem to express so much of what I am feeling.  Many little platitudes and sayings are so cliche; however, I am not turned off by this one.  Think of "You only live once" and "Live life to the fullest" and "Live like every day is your last."  Those sayings don't seem to capture the essence of the problem.  The real crux of the matter is written on the marquee right there.  The pretty horses on the old merry-go-rounds go around and around and around.  You get one spin on the ride of life and then the guy at the controls stops the ride and somebody else gets a turn.  At this point in the revolution of my life, one of my favorite riders will be getting off and I have to enjoy riding with her the best way I know how for as long as possible.  That last line, just got me really, really - I cannot even begin to find a word to describe how it just made me feel.

This must be why I have been avoiding this.  Maybe, I am not as prepared as I thought I was.

I have so much to say.  God only knows when I will be able to articulate it and give it the justice it deserves.  Until then, Peace be with you.
SWB

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A blurb on Graceland

In 1985, I was ten years old and Paul Simon had entered Johannesburg, South Africa to find local musicians and create one of the most amazing collaborations ever.  The fact that this collaboration even took place is a marvel given the political environment of the day.  Mandela was imprisoned, apartheid was the law, people lived under suffocating oppression.  By all accounts, the tour and album should never have materialized, but despite all odds, there it was.  So many years later, in 2011, Paul went back to Johannesburg for a reunion with all those musicians, another marvel, as everyone was older and dispersed.  I am watching a recording of Under African Skies which is an account of this reunion, early this morning since sleep eludes me lately.  Watching some of the political aspects of the film reminds me that there are brilliant and resilient people all over the world.  The racism and oppression depicted in the film is unbelievable.  The people in South Africa were not free in 1985 and they managed to find such joy in music despite the hatred of the day.  We think we have problems here in our community; when the sad truth is, most of us have not yet been put in a furnace.  I am not certain I could locate brilliant and resilient people in the community in which I live.  Oh sure, there are plenty of pretty smart cookies around but they all seem to be competing with one another for who can shine the brightest and they seem to really dislike being questioned or challenged.  They have difficulty shifting their mindset from "I must enlighten you with what I know so you can do this my way" to "Let's enlighten one another and better our community together."  Paul Simon and his contacts in Johannesburg, enlightened one another and made the world a better place.  Thank you world, for giving us Graceland. Brilliant. Enlightened. Satisfying. Wonderful.
"Homeless, Homeless, Moonlight sleeping on the midnight lake."
http://youtu.be/Sg7IlKl-nkc

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I've got some really great shower curtain rings to sell you...

Lately I have noticed there is quite a bit of 'selling' going on.  Whether I need it or not, it is in my face.  Constantly.  Ad nauseum.  A proverbial dead horse.  Beaten.  Until there is nothing left.
And it feels gimmicky.  You know the kind of thing I mean?  Try this new handy housewives helper with thirty different functions.  You'll be glad you did.  (I mean, we have no real proof that it will make your life better or your chores easier, but we just think it will look great in your house.)  And did we mention that "Thirty Helens Agree" that this thing is awesome?  How can you agree with that many nodding 'Helens'?  (Nevermind that we have all those Helens on the payroll and it is their job to agree.)
And it has a cool, gimmicky name also- Helen's Handy-Housewives Helper.  This is way better than the old tool box you keep under your sink with screwdriver, wrench and hammer.  This is new! This is, of course a better way to do things simply because the Helens say it is.
More on this later, I have much to say on the issue of 'selling.'  Right now, I want to sleep.  Not because some know-it-all has told me that research suggests I require the sleep, but because it is past my own personally-prescribed bedtime and I can no longer keep my eyes open.  Until next time, thanks for joining us, Helens!  It is always a pleasure to see you all!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This is a repost from my FB page...for posterity only

I get a little sad thinking about the ridiculous turmoil around us. When people don't agree, neither side needs to be labeled positive nor negative. These are simply opposing views, which I feel is healthy. I think we can all agree that when you look at a photo of your own children, all you want is the very best for them. When you consider someone's child or their money, you MUST understand that emotions will be high. You don't mess with a mother bear's cubs, so you should tread lightly with human children as well. These are my girls. They belong to Me, Chris and GOD Almighty! I will always have an opinion where their well-being is concerned. I obviously have to tread lightly myself so I don't voice all of my opinions in a public forum; however, I respect those who have chosen to do so. I love my girls so much that I will always try to ask thoughtful questions, consider all angles, observe if necessary and formulate my own conclusions with an open mind.