A few weeks back I heard the sad news that John Prine, legendary singer/songwriter, passed away.
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”
9 years ago I registered for this blog site ~ 9 years!
In my very first post I wrote about topics I love: Mom, cooking and life lessons.
- Still do.
A lot has changed but a lot stayed the same.
I am still cooking. Still learning. And I still write about Mom .. but now it’s about how much I miss her.
But – I had the most wonderful day yesterday ~ out & about between meetings, snapping pictures of my Autumnal drive. Just Magical! The colors, the brilliant blue skies and the sights & smells cannot be captured in mere photos.
Then – last night we received the terrible news that a dear friend’s Dad suffered a massive stroke. No chance of recovery. Hushed whispers and tears ache in our throats while we wait the news of what comes next. There are no words, nothing we can do or say that will make a lick of difference. All we can do is show up, lean in, and do our best to love and comfort all of them.
So, in the meantime, I will cook the foods, learn the lessons, and give thanks for my favorite season *Autumn* and that He gave me the world’s most wonderful Mom.
* * * * *
“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” ―
I remember being surprised at being invited to that executive’s retirement party given we’d hardly interacted. I was around 27 and, looking back, a bit naive.
The night of the party, one of the (ancient) executive’s pals, in his toast to the retiree, joked about inviting “pretty girls like __(me)__ so we all have something nice to look at.” Their wives looked horrified and sad, most men chuckled, and I can still feel the rage at being reduced to “something.”
I know and have loved many wonderful men – decent, kind and gentle men. I’m fortunate I can easily rattle off a long list including Grandfathers, Great Uncles, Dad and his brothers, my husband and our sons. But I also have known – and had to work with – creeps. And, in my experience, the creeps spoil the well for the good men.
Now, as a Grandmother, my Spidey senses are on FIRE whenever I’m out with our grandkids – both grandSON and grandDAUGHTER — I watch them like a hawk even though they aren’t “babies” any more. I’m hyper-aware of everyone around us; if one asks to go off to another aisle to “see just one thing” we all go; it’s not up for discussion.
I’ve talked with the grands about good people and bad people, about trusting their instincts, and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe to tell any of us, and that they will never be in trouble for doing so. I worry about Social Media and creepy perverts who lurk in shadows everywhere. But, as many of us know, creepy perverts were in our churches, schools, and communities long before Facebook or SnapChat ever existed.
I made a quick list of how experiences with creepy men has impacted how I live; the list wrote itself in minutes.
- I stay alert and pay attention to surroundings; if someone feels “off” I get away from them.
- I never walk, shop for groceries or stop for gas in the dark.
- I prefer to exercise in the house vs. in the neighborhood.
- I wear a cross body purse, always and my cell phone remains charged and accessible, even at home.
- I check the back seat of any vehicle before getting in, anywhere and in every light.
- I rarely venture away from the hotel when traveling for business ~ Company (male) colleagues like to walk to restaurants for group events (because they never have to think about lists like this!). I prefer to take a taxi but will walk in a larger (mixed) group.
- I never sleep on flights.
- All windows and doors are locked ~ if I find myself alone at the office (very off-putting) I take the cell phone with me to the copier or the restroom.
- On business trips /outings I stick to water or (sometimes) order a cocktail I don’t like and sip it; whatever I have goes with me to the ladies’ room.
- It’s Hubby’s deep voice on the answering machine.
- I’m not thin anymore; extra weight has lessened the burden of unwanted attention.
- I never use parking garages, valet where possible and expense it, and offer no explanations or apologies.
- I don’t get on elevators with men, not even one.
- I limit fluids during road trips which limits stops, and never use highway rest areas; Fast food restaurants only.
- At company functions I employ the “Irish Good-bye” – excuse myself and don’t come back.
- Can you relate to this post?
- How have your experiences impacted the way you navigate your day-to-day life?
- Any tips or thoughts to add?
“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.” — Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”
It’s Monday and it’s time for some random thoughts from the ever-swirling mind of yours truly. Ready? No. Well get set, let’s go!
1 ) Still reeling over the loss of Anthony Bourdain. I’m not even a foodie. And I wanted to be one … watching him. I wanted to walk into his kitchen, sit at his table, have him flirt outrageously with me, tell a clever joke and have him lean in for the punch line. Young, middle-aged, older – there was something about him that drew us in. And kept us there. This blogger sums up our loss beautifully – https://atypical60.com/2018/06/09/the-anthony-bourdain-i-knew/ #LOSS.
- Help is available by calling 1-800-273-8255 or at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
2 ) Last week I took a couple of days off ~ I was, once again, up against the deadline. Time to use vacation days. Darn. Thursday I packed tea, sunblock, my books and a beach chair and drove myself to Lake Michigan. A place where stress does not thrive. I read for hours, enjoyed other people’s children, watched a wedding, dug my toes in the sand and came home with beach hair & freckles. And yes, I aim to repeat this many times over the summer. #SUMMERGOALS.
3 ) The days are longer now that summer is officially here. Celebrating my birthday I reflected on changes. Much much stays the same ~ the work load, schedule, and expectations. But I’ve changed – I’m a bit easier on myself than I used to be. I’ve said “no” to others so I can say “yes” to me. I’ve slowed down. I’ve leaned in. I’ve savored. There’s a shift and I like it. #SELF-CARE
4 ) Something I’ve realized – getting older – is that I’m a lot like Mom: I don’t mind time alone, I crave it. I get a little bit cranky with too many people and too much noise. Yes I enjoy good conversation, music and such but I can – and will – easily spend days by myself. A few nights back I imagined taking a week off and never leaving the house. I found myself day-dreaming of how that would go:
- Putter outside
- Chat on the phone / visit with Hubbs
- Sing/dance to music
- Putter outside
I even had a fantasy food list ready. It came to me immediately and goes something like this:
- Strong coffee with cream
- Grilled anything & Fresh veggies
- Strawberries and watermelon
- Iced Tea
- Bacon & eggs
- Chinese Coleslaw
- Margaritas and Fresh Limes
I realized that this exercise was really me manifesting my summer “wish list.” Yep, time to book more days off. #SUMMERGOALS
5 ) Saw two ducks on my walk earlier tonight … made me think of this:
- Did a celebrity death ever leave you reeling? (recent or not)
- Are you making a summer wish list, too?
- Got any bread?
As a girl, I found it hard to reconcile the suffering of Good Friday with the chocolate abundance of Easter Sunday. We worked through our Sunday school lessons, asking questions and falling quiet when we realized all He endured for us. That everything could somehow be better by Sunday, dressed in tights and Mary Jane’s, eating Ham dinner and hot cross buns, was lost on me. That feeling continues as an adult.
Have you ever noticed the darkness that falls between noon and 4pm on Good Friday? It happened here yesterday.
“We focus on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, but we forget to pause in the stillness of the days between.
Find time today to be present in that place of waiting.
There is treasure to be found in the sacred peace that comes as you breathe in that place of quiet surrender.
Don’t rush through the space called “Between.” ―Katherine J. Walden
* Happy Easter to all who celebrate *
It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world. Ready? Set? Go ->
1 ) 665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day. I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health. Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis. It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it. I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick. Amazing! 10 days became a lifestyle.
2 ) Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad. He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice. Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances. Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.” And there it is. But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby. Fathers come in many forms.
3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer. Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!
4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns. Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert. You know what keeps me going? Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~ I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world. It’s good to have goals 🙂
5 ) Tom Petty. RIP. So many great songs, all sing-along-able. This was and is a favorite. “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.” ~ Sigh
And how was your week?
I’ve been absent, that much I know: 1 post in August, another in September.
I used to write almost daily. What happened?
I’d like to say life happened but that’s just not true.
Yes we’re busy. Busy-busy-busy. I am so sick of the word busy.
The truth is harder to admit out loud: I. Miss. Her.
It’s been a year+ since she left. It was time and believe me when I say I don’t want her to come back for things to be how they were in the end.
Just last week a colleague’s mother passed away and the grief paid a visit. A Tsunami wave of it so strong and deep I nearly lost my footing.
So many of my stories, experiences and thoughts have her intertwined throughout.
But. She wouldn’t want this. She would not want this for me at all.
She would set her mouth in a firm way, frown and tell me, “it’s time. You have to carry on.”
And so I do. I try.
Some days are better than others.
Some days I forget to think of her.
Other days I dial into conference calls and try not to shout out loud “OH FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!” like she would have been tempted to had she been there.
Some days I move around as though nothing happened. As though the void of her passing wasn’t there.
Other days I prep the coffee maker to wake up and find I never added … water or coffee.
Some days I laugh and chat with my sister and a memory makes us both giggle then gasp back tears, all at once.
Other days I can engage with humanity as though nothing happened. Like the wound isn’t still gaping.
There’s a lesson for me here: Grief has no timeline.
It’s real and raw and it’s why I haven’t even thought about writing.
Because to write now is writing in a world without her in it.
All that she was and all that she shared and encouraged in me – a love of reading and writing, of good books, breaking news, meandering conversations, being still and quiet, political nuances, singing along to songs worth singing to, Sunday supper on the stove, and a home tidied with things in their place – all that I love to do and 5 million more – are because of her.
God, I miss her.
* * *
“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri,
This song was one of her favorites ~ and it echoed one of her favorite Bible verses. Sing with me will you?
Last night, I caught the second half of an old favorite, a 1988 movie featuring newcomer Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” I forgot how cute Harrison Ford was! And I laughed while watching, remembering and relating to her, busy working hard, dressing the part, putting up with double-crossing, double-talking bosses. “Ya wanna be taken seriously? You gotta wear serious clothes…..!” Like this:
There’s a scene in the movie where Melanie’s character, Tess, meets Harrison Ford’s character, Jack, ~ she’s wearing a beautiful, feminine cocktail dress .. his reaction is perfection:
Jack Trainer: You’re the first woman I’ve seen at one of these things that dresses like a woman, not like a woman thinks a man would dress if he was a woman.
Tess McGill: Thank you, I guess.
I remember those suits, the padded shoulders, and the stupid bows that tied at the neck. I remember how hot those ties were and how we thought big shoulders made our waists look smaller (like they were ever large in the first place, sheesh!) Now, looking back, I see how we were nearly overtaken by those shoulder pads!
Today, clothes are more forgiving. Mix & match, not much that’s matchy-matchy. Slacks and a sweater, wrap dresses, clothes that fit and flatter. Less is more. Thank goodness.
That picture above was taken in Houston, where we lived for 10 years before moving to Hubbs’ home state of Michigan. We haven’t been back but we keep in touch with friends ~ some were spared, others had heavy damage to their homes. Having lived there, driven there, and witnessed “normal” flash floods that happen, the damage and impact of this is beyond imagination.
And there’s a reason why sometimes we have to turn off the coverage, bury ourselves in an old movie and swoon over Harrison Ford … who’s still as handsome as ever.
Sincere prayers of safekeeping to all affected by Hurricane Harvey!
Mother Nature has been mercurial again – here March roared in like a lion, with freezing temps, bitter cold, blowing snow and lashing sleet. All this after a mid-February warm up to nearly 70F. The latest round felt like a mid-winter spanking. Are we safe to assume March will leave like a lamb? I’m not so sure.
A friend passed away last Sunday ~ shockingly young, leaving a wife and two children plus a business and employees to take care of. We struggled to absorb the news and rally around our friend. As expected, a call went out for food and folks didn’t disappoint. At the wake Friday night, were crocks full of hot foods like meatballs, macaroni and cheese, Sloppy Joe’s, Fettuccine Alfredo and Lasagna plus trays of cakes, cookies and squares, salads, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, boiled shrimp, crackers and cheese, a baked ham and the fixings for sandwiches.
There’s something so comforting about being able to help at a time of sadness.
Many commented on the abundance of foods and I thought of Mom and my Auntie and all the times they’d done the same. It’s nice to be part of a community that comes together and provides sustenance when needed.
Later that evening, reflecting on the day, Hubbs and I chuckled at how we’d both observed the same thing: older gentlemen – every one of them had a big slab of cake (sometimes two), cookies or brownies on their plate ~ we laughed about how we could see my Dad or his Grandpa doing the same – how they knew enough to”go for the good stuff first.”
Co-mingled in the sadness is a lingering feeling of fellowship, the memory of a room growing loud with laughter and toasts to a good man.
And as the wind howls outside here today, no lambs are in sight.
** How does your family or community navigate loss? Are you experiencing Lambs or Lions where you live? **
As a girl, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a school party, card boxes, ice skating and moms visiting our classrooms.
As a teenager, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a boyfriend if I had one and avoided if I didn’t.
As a young married woman, Valentine’s Day meant cards and flowers – for a while, anyways. As our relationship evolved, romantic gestures were replaced by thoughtful ones. Things you can’t buy in the store: taking out the trash; filling my car up with gas on a snowy day. Running his vehicle through the car wash then detailing the inside myself. Folding the laundry left in the dryer; bringing in the groceries. It’s the little things ~ but they’re helpful and kind and nice. And there’s a flow and a comfort to it that I love.
In my 50’s I don’t wait for someone else to make me happy ~ I make myself happy.
You see I learned it from her: My mother was a strong woman and my role model – 100lbs of dynamite ~ she calved calves, trained horses, wrangled 5 kids, a husband, a 1/2 acre garden, 2 dogs and 14 cats. She rode in trail rides, taught 4-H and Sunday School, balanced the books and Chaired the Board. She always got out to vote, once taking the tractor to the highway to catch a ride to the polls. No muddy roads were going to stop her! Not much ever did!
Like she did, I go to bed when I’m tired, take a nap if I need one and I stay up late when I choose to. I make room for the things I love – books – and never apologize for the space they occupy. I have learned how to say “no thanks” to stuff I don’t want (or want to do) and “YES please!” to the ones I do.
Years ago Mom bought my sister & I that novel about the guy with the grey ties ~ She made it clear she had no intentions of reading it and quipped “you can handle it” with a snort. The two of us traumatized our grown kids by leaving it out on end tables. The comments of horror from my nieces and the looks our boys shot my way were so worth it. That was her point, to stir the pot and to remind us we always have a choice.
I chuckle remembering how Mom and I joked that if a good looking, rich man came near us with a grey tie, he’d find himself in some deep do-do.
God, I miss her.
So this Valentine’s Day I wish you this:
- I wish you the courage to make the leap you’ve been pondering,
- I wish you dreams in technicolor,
- I wish you the conviction to change what’s not working, to stop worrying about what others think and to do the things that make your soul sing.
- Time’s a-wasting and, per the wisest woman I’ve ever known, the only hero we have is ourselves.