Tag Archive | Grief

Uncle Mark #wemissyou

You were involved in some many firsts, although not *that* one lol. You were the first grown up friend we made, one outside of family, school or church. 

You called us the Katzenjammer Kids.

We called you Uncle Mark.

Which is utterly ridiculous because you were only 5 years older than us.

But you had a house. We were in our early twenties, and that seemed so far away. That’s the only thing I can think of, because you were wholly and unapologetically there for us. 

We met at Danny’s, of all places. In Milpitas, off Calaveras. It was our non bar hangout, and your dinner stop on your commute home from work. I still order the Super Bird, with a side of ranch. Dipping it makes all the difference,

You weren’t one of my college buddies, but we talked about everything. From motorcycles to midevil knights, books and bars. Your interests were so wide ranging, I think you could talk to anyone about everything. 

You found love, and lost love. Always painfully, and sadly, once, tragically. And yet you still believed, still put yourself out there. And found it again, with Lyn. I could tell when I met her that she was going to be good for you. That twinkle was back in your eye. You, Sir Knight, had found a Lady worthy of your wooing and you enjoyed it.

I didn’t make it to your funeral. Damp, winding roads scared me too much. Instead, I did something I know you’ll approve of. I went and spoiled my great nephew, visiting from afar and sicker than a dog. He napped while I dropped the stuff off, but spoiling doesn’t happen because you need approval. It happens because they need to be spoiled. 

Regina and I will miss you terribly, Uncle Markypoo.But we know that when you see you again, you’ll share all the best spots with us and have some amazing stories for us.

Love Never Dies

I know this to be true:

Love remains, even when all that is left is a memory.

Love remains, through the years you should have had together.

Love remains, even as grief changes the very molecules of your soul.

Love remains, as you live your life, alone or with others.

Always, always, love remains.

Love never dies.

Bones

I saw the bones

Of the world

Washed up on shore

Stripped bare of the

Taint of hate

Laying side by side

One atop another

Coexisting
No care for male 

Or female

Republican or Democrat

Black or white

Brown or tan.
How long until

We no longer

Need to wait

Until we’re bones?

When Nightmares Come to Visit

Halloween was my favorite non-Christmas holiday for a long time. I loved decorating my room for it, actually had boxes of Halloween decorations. It was spooky and fun: a night to pretend to be someone other than yourself, and imagining that ghouls and goblins really are around the corner. I was living with my parents, going to Cal State… when I found out that not all Halloween Nightmares end.

I did not celebrate Halloween (other than handing out candy) from the time I was 24 until I was about 38. One year, during that time, I went over to my brother’s house to hand out candy while he and his wife took the boys out trick or treating. That first night started a tradition, a way of raising a toast…

You see… my mother, she who loved the very dry and sometimes tasteless British sense of humor died on Halloween.

That particular Halloween Nightmare— you don’t ever shake. You learn to live with it, but it’s always there. I can’t remember parts of that day– I must have blacked out while picking up a chair and throwing it at a window in the hospital. I remember many friends who helped, who made phone calls and came by the house to hold my hand while I made phone calls. I also remember going to the airport to secure the flights for my sister in Missouri and my brother who at the time was in Arizona.

My friend Jackie drove me. It was a good thing she was there, because I remember wanting to punch Raggedy Ann in the face. Yes, a lady at the ticket counter, dressed as Raggedy Ann gave your good old Wynelda Ann a temper overload. Jackie quietly stepped between us, defused the situation.

When we returned to the house, it was just getting dark. Trick or Treaters were starting to swarm the streets. The neighborhood that I loved, the holiday that I adored… suddenly was way too much. As a group came up, the kids just starting to come up the drive, I told the grown ups “no Candy.”

“No candy? What’s wrong with you?!!” It was someone I knew, someone I’d known since childhood. He probably meant it in a joking matter, but I couldn’t…

“Mom just died.”

I don’t know how he did it. But there were no trick or treaters that night. None.

My soul sister came in from Reno, spent that first Halloween night with me.

After that, I couldn’t get into the spirit of dressing up, of decorating. Halloween lost its appeal for me. Slowly, the boxes of decorations disappeared.

Then came the toast. It was quite a few years after Mom had died. I was watching the house and handing out candy for my brother, Charlie. They came home, and were separating out the candy. “Hey, a Butterfinger! That was mom’s favorite candy bar!” Soon came to find out, she would con me, my dad and Charlie into buying her just one candy bar… sometimes on the same day. She was diabetic, so if we had known… well. If we had known then what we know now, we would have bought her a bag of full size bars.

SItting there, on their living room floor, Charlie, Beth and I held a toast with Butterfingers, to Mom. It’s a ritual, a tradition now. Even when all I did for Halloween was hand out candy, I always made sure that I had a Butterfinger. Sometimes alone, sometimes with family.

And the tradition spread through parts of the family.

After all that, I’m here to tell you… Sometimes nightmares come to visit, and they don’t leave. But you can learn to live with them… and start enjoying what you once loved.

Because I have a child now. He’s 9 years old. I’ve dressed him up and taken him trick or treating, but haven’t decorated beyond the general fall decorations that my dad has. That changed this year. Princeling wanted to decorate. Please mom! Please!

Love the dollar store. Love it! Halloween items were a true BOGO, and we got a bunch. Mostly stuff he chose– a mummy hand, a skull candelabra centerpiece, signs for the yard, big spider and webbing… I tried to steer him away from outright demons and ghouls, because my dad… but he had fun!

But then there’s my 2 items. That’s right. My. Two. Items. I actually found 2 things that I thought were cute. And then they needed to be mine. And they were BOGO, so how could I not? They are black and purple and witchy and sparkly and they had to be mine. I’ve started up my decorating again… Last night, we watched the Dreamworks Scary/Spooky collections on Netflix and laughed our butts off.

This morning, I’ll go over to my neice’s house and raise the toast with Princeling, the niece and her family. We’ll probably also have the toast again tonight with Pappa.

It’s hard to learn to live with your nightmare. Hard to learn to walk everyday with it.

I plan to dance with it tonight. I think Mom would like that

My wish for you is that you give yourself time to learn the steps. It isn’t easy, it isn’t nice.

Living with grief is of like trick or treaters. Sometimes you’ll get a ghoul, and sometimes it will be a princess. But you always have the power to decide which candy you’ll feed your nightmare.

And there will come a time, either soon or in the distant future, where you can dance with your nightmare and celebrate the one you’ve lost. It takes a while.It takes a lot of ugly, messy tears before you can get to the point where you can remember them with joy and not want to ball.

But you’ll get there.

Love, Grief and Mashed Taters

When I awoke on Saturday morning, it was to the news that Shirley, my sister in law, had suffered a stoke. She’d been airlifted to Sacramento. I went to be with the family, to offer support as I could, and to love and pray with them.

The situation was dire.

And all I could think of were her mashed potatoes. Shirley married my oldest brother, Richard. Her sons bracket me in age— I was the midlife crisis baby. I was little, maybe 5 or 6, and Charlie (my brother closest in age to me) and I were at their house for dinner. I was told that I had to finish everything on my plate before I could have something to drink.

It included a big heaping dollop of mashed potatoes.

I loathe mashed taters, always have, always will.

In a flash of sibling solidarity, as soon as she left the room, Charlie scraped all of my potatoes onto his own plate and I finally got something to drink.

And this past weekend, somehow, I ended up peeling a bag of potatoes for a church potluck.

Monday at 1:39pm, Shirley went home.

Losing your mother at any age is devastating. If I could spare them the pain, I would. I hope they know they are in my prayers every night, and that I love them fiercely. I was 24 when my mother died, she was 65? I understand how grief can come at you and rip you apart. And amid this grief, this wreckage left of their lives….

They have to somehow pay for a funeral.

Kimmy said it best:

“Walked put of the hospital today.. I was the last one to leave the room.. Carrying moms clothes.. Feeling so numb.. Not wanting to leave my mother.. Please help me get mom transported home..go to Linda Shelton go fund me account so we can bring mom home…”

Ricky posted:

I just changed my Facebook status to public because my mom just passed and my sister Kim took on the responsibilities of power of attorney. We have no ability to pay for the funeral cost. I am reaching out to the public in hopes that I can help my sister the strongest women in the world be able to lay our mothers body to rest. We are sorry to request assistance from others but are lost and stuck with no other options. We are good people and our mother was our best friend in this world if you can help please do. We are in such great need.
God Bless you all. Rik
.

 

David & Stephanie have been quiet— or I haven’t seen it because I decided to hide from Facebook.

Here’s the thing. I’ve never asked for any money on this site. I’ve stopped following people who because just one long harrange for money. But this is my family. And when your whole world has been knocked out of orbit with no warning… the expenses pile up ruthlessly. All four of the kids have jobs, they have families that they are supporting with little or no extra. Kim used her car payment for transportation.

If you can help them, the site is here

And if you can’t help with money, please pray for them, keep them in your thoughts. It’s a hard road to tread, and they were thrown onto it with no preparation, no map….

 

 

A Stranger Grief Than This…

Driving home the other night, I saw a man at the base of an ancient tree. He was on his haunches, his shoulders bowed with grief. In front of him, against the tree, was a white cross. He was planting flowers– spring flowers– at the base of the tree. From the comfort of my car, I watched as he created a shrine to a loved one. The music on the radio conspired with him, and… it was a moving moment.

Third person poignancy.

I have a mini-shrine in my room. Two collages of my mom, some of her tea cups, a thimble. Off to the side of the shelf where they are, is a picture of my mom at the Japanese Tea Garden in SF. She loved that place. But the thing is… this mini shrine… I barely look at it. I didn’t even think of it as a “shrine” until.. well, the other night, when I started thinking about shrines. It could be because it’s been up for so long. It could be because it’s been 20, 21 years.

The hard edges have worn off my grief. It no longer crushes me under its unforgiving weight.

And yet, my shrine still stands. I may change it up tomorrow, or may leave it. But I think I’ll take my boy, and go to the local Japanese Tea Garden….. and let him discover why it was one of her favorite places. I can walk in the peace, meditate…
Well. Lets be honest. I have a 7 year old boy. I can trail behind him, taking deep breaths. Because no matter how hard, life does go on.

And it is ok to enjoy it.

Daddy

Today was a busy day. Dear Husband (DH) had to go into work, so Boy Wonder and I went up to see Grandpa.

 

Seeing Grandpa is a 30 minute drive, but so worth it. Boy Wonder loves looking at trees, and if there were snow in California I’d say the road was made for the song “Over the River and Through the Woods.”

 

I love bringing BW to Grandpa’s for several reasons. One of which is I love talking with Dad. He’s a very intelligent, thoughtful man and I have never come across a topic that I could not talk to him. Ever. Even though he is an Elder in our church. Another reason is that BW gets to run wild in the back yard. The rain held off, and boy howdy did he run. He Swiffered the back patio and grass until not a speck of dirt remained. Ran this way and that. Generally had about as much fun as a 2 year old can.

 

It also afforded me time to talk with Dad. Since the death of his wife a few weeks ago, I’ve talked to him about twice a day and seen him on Sunday at church. But to really get a good idea of where he was at, I needed the conversation today. Sitting on the patio, holding hands with Daddy, watching Boy Wonder run wild… We talked.

 

He is handling his grief probably just about right. Dad says he should probably trim the rose bushes because they need it, but he can’t bring himself to do it. I offered, thinking that maybe it had to do with his back or something. “No,” he said and I could hear the tears in his voice, “She loved them so much, I can’t do it. Jane used to always say that some women get a bouquet or two of roses from their husbands, but her husband gave her a whole yard bursting with flowers.” As we spoke, with only an occasional jump up to grab a certain curious 2 year old, I could feel Dad trying to get back to being ok, even though it will be a tough, lonely road.

 

We talked of things that happened both with my mom (married from 1944?  until her death in 1993), and with Jane (married to her since 1994). He loved doing things with both of his wives, loved traveling and seeing new things. He has a monster of a motor home, and no where to take it. Because it would “just be too lonesome to do those things alone, now.” Right before each of their deaths, he was making plans for when the felt better—Where they would go, what they would see. Only, with this most recent loss, I believe he knew where the chips were going to land.

 

That’s not to say that he’s not grieving now. Or that he’s practicing “grief light.” Just that he started grieving in a different way a long time ago. Grieving for the relationship, for the things that they used to do, the life they led. To care for someone with a terminal illness takes a very special person. To do that and still allow them to have hope, and plans for the future: I can’t imagine the strength that took.

 

Tears have been shed. Some today, some last week at church when the closing hymn was “God be with you till we meet again.” I hope he knows that God is with him. That all of us kids would do anything we could for him. That both Mom and Jane want nothing but the best for him, and expect nothing less from him.

 

He’s a very good Daddy.