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Posts Tagged With: grief

The price we pay

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.

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, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

 

This song was one of her favorites ~ and it echoed one of her favorite Bible verses.  Sing with me will you?

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Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lions, Lambs and funeral luncheons

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? **

 

Categories: Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Grief, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

It’s not the grief, it’s the longing

Six years ago I registered for this blog site – 6 years!  My very first post involved lessons learned from Mom – you can read it here.

Man, I miss her.  She was my “go-to” person on so much but especially politics.  Oh the conversations we’d be having right now!   She’d snort, I’d laugh and the two of us would conspire like school girls.  I remember her whispering to me once that “none of the other kids read like you and I do” – now some siblings do read, a lot. But the way she said it makes me grin because I know she saw herself in me.  I couldn’t be more proud of the similarity.

This is the same woman who gifted me (and my sister) a scandalous book about grey ties. She had no intentions of reading it but told me, “You can handle it.”  I know she did it to scandalize us… and it worked.    The two of us horrified our (grown) kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The looks my  boys shot my way were worth it.  That was her point, to stir things up and to remind us we always have a choice.  God, I love her.

I’m lucky to have had someone so feisty as my role model.  Someone who didn’t let her gender define her. Someone who slung her purse over her shoulder and leaned in as she marched forward, even when she didn’t know the script.  We talked about this often, how as women we do more – we’re expected to  – be more, accomplish more just to earn a seat at the table.  We often talked about “not having the playbook” and her response was always the same, “you’ll figure it out, kid.” And I did.

So I think I’ve finally hit on out why conversations around me  of late have left me bored: It’s the lack of layers. The surface talk. Not having her intelligent interjections to both jar and delight me.

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
― Stephen King

 

What conversations do you miss having?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Humor, Joy, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

‘Till next time

There’s no other way to say it than to say it: Mom passed away last week.

She’d been up & down and things weren’t getting better; but we’d been there before, collectively holding our breath.  And then the little bit would rally and surprise us all, over and over again.

Oldest sister sat with her last Sunday and they talked frankly about things; thankfully Mom made her own choices about being moved from the nursing home to the hospital.  “No way,” she said emphatically.  But the meds weren’t working as they had before.  Sissy asked if she was tired and Mom said yes, yes she was.  Sissy told her it was OK to rest that she would sit with her and she did. She asked about calling the others. Mom’s response was a typical Mom response, “Don’t believe that’s necessary.”  Sissy did anyway and they all visited the next day.  The morning after that, Mom slipped quietly away.

Even when you expect it, there’s no way to prepare for the loss of someone you love. You can’t.  All you can do hold on as hard as you can and brace yourself for the waves of grief that are sure to come. Some are Tsunamis, some are ankle nippers.  You try not to drown.  I’m still there, some days floating, other days gasping.

I had booked flights for my nephew’s wedding at the end of July; our oldest son’s wedding is this Saturday.  It was so like her to slip off before all that – not wanting to cause a fuss. It was so like her to put space between those milestones so as not to tamper anyone’s joy.

Tickets have been changed, I’ll leave sooner.

She wanted to be cremated and for us to hold a service “when it made sense.”  That was also so her. We laugh about how, even now, she’s still ‘large & in charge.’  Sobs come through our stories.

We’ll have a service at the grave site then a gathering in the town hall with several hundred people followed by a lunch. There’s no church big enough!!  And not having everything this week or next gives people time to come.  And they are. By the droves.  Not just locally but from all over Canada & the U.S. as well.   Mom was well-known and loved; friends & family want the opportunity to tell their stories and pay their respects.  I’ve tried to help where I can, making phone calls, sending photos, and just being part of things.  But I know when I step off the plane that grief will hit me in the face like a wet towel.  Drafting her obituary last night stung but I was  honored to do so.

As sad as I am and as much as I’ll miss her I know she’s free.  She’s with Dad on a date night, holding the winning ticket to a fast horse, enjoying a hot Rye, her purse just a-swinging.    I smile knowing Frankie’s tucked up under Heaven’s kitchen table getting fatter by the second; she always called that dog “the Gentleman.”  Her Mom and Dad are there, she’s with other pals and family.  Farm dogs, barn kitties and ponies we’ve lost along the way are all snuggled up close to her. How can we be sad at that?

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses - and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

No, the sadness, that’s for us. The sadness comes in knowing we have to wait to see her again. And I’m not that patient.

But mixed with the grief is the gratitude: for all who she was, all that she did, and how deeply we loved her.

I’ve lived far from home for 32+ years. She and I enjoyed many happy visits, there, here, other places, plus other trips and adventures. We had a thing: we never said “good-bye” we always said, “’till next time.”  The last time I was home with her, when it came time to leave for the airport, she stood to hug me and laid her head on my chest. We stood quietly like that, her head on me, me supporting her, and her hugging me tightly. I’ll never forget that hug.  Breaking apart we looked each other in the eyes and said “till next time.”   She smiled and I smiled and headed out the door.

Soon my siblings and cousins, aunties and friends will gather – we’ll share her stories and we’ll sing her songs.  We’ll find ourselves saying the things she would have said. We’ll sip on a Rye and we’ll reflect on the gift of a Mother happy to be one.  On the gift that was her.

related:

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~ Kahlil Gibran  

angels-kiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Home, Life, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Morning sunshine

Sunlight is streaming in this morning and the reflection off the snow is blinding – in a beautiful, sparkling way.

There’s a sun puddle covering most of our living room and the only thing missing from it is old dog.

Frankie loved the sun puddles and even more so in winter and especially as he aged.

He’d hoist himself out of his posture-pedic dog bed and shuffle to the center of the room where the carpet was warmed.  With a huff and a grunt he’d settle in, stretch forward and back and, I swear he’d smile.

Frankie with one eye open, is lunch ready?  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Frankie with one eye open, is lunch ready? An Emjayandthem (C) photo

With one eye on me, he’d drift between sleeping and snoring and active fridge monitoring, the warmth of the sun enveloping his old bones.   His sighs could be heard from the next room and beyond.

It’s mornings like this one that something as simple as sunlight can make me cry.

an impression of Mr. Bear's paw; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

an impression of Mr. Bear’s paw; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

 “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go to where they went.” Will Rogers

*I’ve had – and loved – plenty of pets in my life.  But I’ve never had one quite like my Frankie.  I’m learning there’s no “statute of limitations” on grief.    Is there a pet that you still miss to this day?

Categories: Animals, Beauty, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Life, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

It’s the cliches that cause the trouble

10 years have passed since he left us. 10 years.

And despite what people say, time doesn’t heal everything – it never gets easier, missing someone you love. You just get through it and, over the years, you get used to the ache that remains.

For those of you who didn’t know my Dad, let me tell you a little about him. His name was Lloyd.

He put cookies in his pocket & kept licorice and peppermints in the truck. He didn’t go anywhere without a favorite cap or a little grin on his face. He loved people, but he had a soft spot for children and animals, especially dogs. He taught me where to find Saskatoon berries, to appreciate the land we farmed, to be fearless, to drive a stick shift, to read the sky, and to dance while standing on his toes. He taught me girls could do anything but that it was perfectly OK to look like one, too, and without too much makeup. He taught me that doors should be opened for ladies and that if someone came into the yard and honked they could just keep on driving. He taught me to be helpful, to fix what I could, to re-use what I had, to preserve what was good and to let go what wasn’t. He taught me real men cry, cherish their wives, tickle their children, and are playful, gentle and loyal. Dad loved to dance, kid around, make up silly songs and laugh; most of all, he loved his wife and every single one of us kids and all grand kids and greats, friends, family and neighbors. He was a man of few words. He didn’t need them I suppose. His actions spoke volumes. He showed up.

my Dad as a young man; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

Dad as a young man; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

As much as I long to hear his voice and see his kind face, I continue to be overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of a kind and loving father. Who gets that? We did. So lucky.

“You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?”
― Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

Who are you missing today?

Categories: Faith, Family, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Random Five Friday

It’s Friday! It’s random! Let’s go ….!

1.  Our trees are have peaked and with the rain this week many have let go.  There are still beautiful scenes to behold and yesterday I noticed another favorite of fall – that rich  autumn smell. The fresh smell of wet leaves and plants letting go of their summer glory.  The fragrance that reminds us all what Mother Earth smells like and all that she gives us.

Many scenes like this one right now google.images.com

Many scenes like this one right now google.images.com

2.  I’ve taken the past 3 days off.  Why?  Because after leading an 8 1/2 month project while also covering another’s duties for 7 of those same months, I hit the wall. Everyone around me asked the same questions: what are you taking time off for? Where are you going? Are you going away? What are you going to do with all that time???? And my answer was the same: nothing. I’m not committing to anything. I’m going to rest, read, rest and read, in that order.  And I have.  I don’t feel the urge to “fill up” every spare minute with more to do.   You?

3.  Heard this morning of that a friend’s Dad passed away last night.  That’s the stage of life we’re in now-a-days.  Most of us have (mostly) grown children + aging parents and there’s a whole lot of both. Tomorrow I’ll make up some soup & other foods and have Hubbs drop it off to the family.   Good thing I am rested and had that time off ~ see how that works?

4. Tomorrow marks 4 years of blogging. 4 years!  In my very first post “Who’s the turkey” I wrote about things that I still write today – Mom, cooking, traditions, personal, relationships, joys, life lessons, and faith.   Some topics can stand the test of time.

5. And this last photo is for my blogging buddy Dianna who writes at “These Days of Mine.”   She has a pair of wild swans who visit their yard in S.E. Virginia and when I saw this picture I had to snag it for her.  Taken in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada earlier this fall, I call this one “Seven Swans a  Swimming.”   Millions of birds are very happy to summer “up north” where the world’s wheat basket is located.   And yes, there are only 68 days till Christmas!

photo credit: Owen Lasseur

photo credit: Owen Lasseur

How’s your week been?  Do you ever take time off just to “be?”  Are you seeing migratory birds in your neck of the woods?

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Frankie’s friends

As many of you know, we had to say good-bye to our fur-ever friend, Frankie, this summer.

13 years & 22 days with the world’s greatest dog.

So lucky, yes we were.

Smart and hilarious, I found him at the Humane Society. (More about his adoption here.) In his honor, we decided to pay it forward and sponsor the adoption of another lucky mutt.  He was all about sharing (especially food!) and I think he would have appreciated that.

Last week, still feeling the pinch of his absence, I received an email that made my heart smile.  Read on:

Dear Marilyn:

I wanted to let you know that Frankie’s memorial gift was used on a terrific family today 🙂  They adopted Penny – a 1.5 year old Pointer/Hound mix who has been with us since October 8.  The cool thing is that Penny joins their Golden Retriever, Sam, who was adopted from us in 2010.   The photo of the adopter, her son and the 2 dogs together is below.

Penny (L), her new brother, Sam and their family

Penny (L), her new brother, Sam (L) and their family

The adopter was so overwhelmed by your generous gift that she started to cry.  She couldn’t believe the kindness of you and your family and was even more touched because she just had to put her cat down last month.  She wanted to keep the generosity going so she made a donation to help more animals!

Thank you again to you and your amazing family!  It is truly an honor to be a part of your fantastic story!

On behalf of all of our animals,  we thank you!!!

Nicole C.,  Humane Society of West Michigan.

* * *

We like to think of Penny and her brother, Sam, as “Frankie’s friends” and we’re happy to be part of their success story.

Ever had a “pay-it-forward” moment?  Please share!

 Well done, Mom!

Frankie would have approved 🙂

Categories: Animals, Charity, Faith, Family, Friendship, Joy, Life, Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

on Herman Shepherd Mix-ups

We sure do miss old dog.

100_0516

::  I miss my Frankie  :: (And Emjayandthem (C) Photo)

It’s just not the same around here without a fuzzy-faced greeting from an old pal.

Not the same at all.

I look for him when I come home at night, when there’s no nuzzle meeting me with a soft “Herrow.”

I think of him when I walk through the neighborhood, and my eyes always tear up at places he liked to stop.

I feel him near me when I clean leftovers out of the fridge, I swear I can hear him whispering, “Where are those meatballs going? Surely you wouldn’t toss those out? Wha?”

See, when you’ve enjoyed 13 years with the world’s greatest dog, well, you tend find yourself spoiled for any other.

You cringe at stories of dogs who eat furniture, obsess over the mailman or possess other odd behaviors.

He never did any of those things, he was just always … a gentleman.

And as much as Hubbs has shut down the boys comments about getting another pooch, it took me by surprise when he recently blurted out, “You know, when we get another dog, I think I might like a German Shepherd Mix.”

What was that?

Not if.

Not someday.

When.

The truth is, I’m not ready.  And I know he’s not, either.

But you have to start somewhere.

And so, as we do with all important decisions, we’ll start by just talking about it. Without crying.

Someday … not sure when … I know we’ll have another dog.

Perhaps a Herman Shepherd Mix-Up* 🙂

*”Herman Shepherd Mix-Up” is in homage to our friend’s son, Trevor, who as a small boy referred to the family dog Jake, a Lab/German Shepherd mix, as a “Herman Shepherd Mix-up.”  Ha ha ha! Kids.

If you’ve also lived and loved with the “world’s greatest dog  pet,” how much time went by before you jumped back in?

Categories: Animals, Family, Grief, Growth, Life, Love | Tags: , , , , | 38 Comments

No words

I do not have words to write about what happened in Newtown yesterday.

But He does.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

When I look at this image, that childhood song plays in my head, "Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world."  Image from Pinterest.com

When I look at this image, that childhood song plays in my head, “Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world.” Image from Pinterest.com

Categories: Family, Grief, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Intuitive Mothering

We don’t have to be the same to be lovable; Google.images.com

I always knew I wanted to be a mother.

I never imagined my life without a family and I certainly had lots of practice nurturing baby animals and babysitting on the farm.

Having said that,  I felt fate gave me boys: two hilarious, ridiculous and busy boys.   Why? Because even though I knew it would be fun to have a girl, I knew that I was far from a girlie-girl.  I mean, as a kid,  I lived out my days like Billy Jack, riding ponies and shooting cap guns, staging shows and cooking up adventures. I felt confident to handle two rumbly-tumbly boys; I wasn’t sure that I could manage a Barbie-playing girl.

But, in time, life brought me a daughter-in-law and, a later, a grand-daughter. Cool, the scales have shifted, I thought.  Secretly,  I envisioned all kinds of girlie escapades for us. I took my time getting to know her and making sure I wasn’t one of those mother-in-laws, overpowering or with-holding. I accepted her and her cute little boy and tried to let her know that if you love my boy that’s enough for me.

But, here’s what I didn’t anticipate:  I never expected that I’d mother her, too.  I mean, I knew she had a Mom and I’d heard enough to know that they weren’t as close as could be, but still, I hesitated … better tread softly here.

So, as it does, life moved along and I began to notice certain things: Like when she was expecting, it was me who organized a baby shower and it was our huge, crazy family that welcomed her.  When they got engaged, it was me & hubbs who booked the hall and paid the caterer and organized the guest list.  It was our house where she dressed and and it was me who helped her into the wedding dress; it was our yard where their pictures were taken in and our patio where the gifts were opened.  Them? They were … guests.  And when she related her struggles just talking with her,  I was the one who encouraged her to keep on trying.   You see, as a daughter of a wonderful mother, not having that relationship was as incomprehensible as not having …  air.

We talked a few days ago and I made it a point to tell her that, no matter what happens,  we hope she stays in our lives.  I tried to convince her that, despite her past experiences with them, it’s not in our hearts to trash, bash or discard her. Punctuated by her sobs were the words I’d never expected to hear, “I wish I could talk to her like I do to you.”

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

Have you ever parented someone who wasn’t “yours?”

Categories: Faith, Family, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Flying solo on Thanksgiving

source: johnnycupcakes

It was Thanksgiving Day, 2004 and we had just buried my Dad. My lovely, sweet, kind and wonderful Dad. Gone from us.

I had been home to see him about month before, when we knew things weren’t going well, and I had tried to say my good-byes. Sort of.  Because you’re never really able to say all that you want to say.   I told him I loved him, tried my best to thank him for being the best Dad ever, and clung to him until it was time to leave for the airport.

I hugged my mom and sisters, boarded the plane and headed back to the United States; away from the family farm in rural Saskatchewan.

It was Thanksgiving day and I never realized until then what a gift a light travel day could be.  What I had always imagined would be such a lonesome, awful thing to do turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The plane was nearly empty. I didn’t have to make small talk with anyone.

I sat alone.

I ate alone.

I read.

I slept.

I cried softly into the darkness.

It was on that plane, on Thanksgiving Day, that I was, once again, overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of a kind and loving father.  For 80+ years. Who gets that? I did. Lucky.

my Dad, Lloyd; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

You didn’t know my Dad, so let me tell you a little about him.  His name was Lloyd. He stashed cookies in his pocket & licorice in his truck.  He didn’t travel without his newest favorite cap or a little grin on his face. He loved people, but he had a soft spot for children.  He taught me where to find Saskatoon berries, to love and care for animals & appreciate the land we farmed, to be fearless, to drive a stick shift, to read the sky, and to dance while standing on his shoes. He taught me that real men cry, adore their wives, tickle their children, and are playful, gentle and loyal.  My Dad was a man of few words. He didn’t need them I suppose. His actions spoke volumes.  My Dad .. showed up.

6 years have passed since he left us and it never gets easier.

You never get over it. Time does not heal; that, my friends, is a lie.

We. Just. Get. Through. It.

I Miss you Dad, on this day and every day.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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