goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Life is Too Short for This

He told me I was worthless.  I knew I was pretty together and he was a troubled person. I tried to speak to him. He was silent.

He told me dinner stank. I knew I was a pretty good cook and it was very edible. I asked him what he would have preferred. He was silent.

He told me he was going to divorce me. I told him I was pretty tired of him throwing that one out in the air and he was not to bother to say it again. Just to act on it if he truly felt that way. He did nothing.Depression stock

He told me I was repulsive. I knew my added five pounds was not great, but better than his added 20. I told him he didn’t look so good himself. He yelled more.

We went on a belated honeymoon. I bought a new negligee, hoping for a new beginning. I asked him if he would like to take a walk on the deserted beach in the moonlight. He raped me.

portrait-of-a-worried-girl-sitting-on-the-beach-with-the-sea-in-the-backgroundThe next night when he made his moves I told him I wanted him to make love to me. He hit me.  It was the first time and I swore to myself it had to be the last.

I threw on some clothes and left the room, sitting on the beach 30 feet in front of our room for 3 hours. He never came out. He was snoring when I finally went back in. The next morning I told him we needed help. He said he was fine. That I was the problem.

I was 23-years-old and I knew I deserved better than this.  But I was stuck in a place still trying to “fix” it.  And on it went, for another few weeks, until I finally had the strength to call a friend to come get me and told him to leave the house so I could pack. He grinned, grabbing the car keys and headed out.

He was not happy when I filed for a divorce.  I had nightmares for months.

Now, I hear that this football player beat his fiancee unconscious, dragged her out of the elevator and has just been kicked out of the NFL. Supposedly he is in counseling since this is his first offense (that is known). I wonder if the woman, who married him after this attack, is also in counseling.cycle of violence

I have several friends who are in marriages where they are emotionally abused and sometimes physically threatened by their spouses. They stay in the marriages for a number of reasons that usually include the needs of the children as well as the financial dependence on that spouse.domesticviolencekids

Life is too short for living that way. We try to get to know the other and yet many people never develop the ability to truly talk, to share happy or sad, with their partner. We mistake lust for love and then we hide behind silences and forced smiles, trying to put on a facade to fool others.

No one is fooled. Your kids are not fooled. Your friends are not fooled.

They are confused.

 


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Passages

A couple of my friends lost a parent in the last week. As my peers age, it is a normal part of life to face the illness and care of aging parents and their inevitable final passage.

With losing a husband to brain cancer after a ten year battle, I have had some experience to be able to offer a few words of what worked for me. Perhaps it might for you.

Be a realist

  •  Try to understand the cause of the illness. If you are reading this, you have access to the Internet and there are countless websites that can provide explanations that you probably can understand.  Do some reading in order to ask the doctors good questions.  Not knowing causes more stress than you need.
  • Fight (yes FIGHT) for good follow-up care, whether it is physical therapy or a home health aide.  Do not accept a guilt trip from anyone that you should be able to provide all care.  Even if you are a trained nurse, you are not able to be on the job 24/7.
  • Understand when things start to slide downhill that at some time, death will occur.  Trying to ignore it won’t make it not happen. Nothing you did or didn’t do caused that. The body gets awfully tired of the pain, the inability to take proper nutrition, the confusion. Recognize that this is not about what you are going to be losing, but making the time the best goodbye you can.

old-couple-holding-hands--007

Be prepared

  •  Doctors have a tendency to refer the patient to hospice very close to the end. This is a horrible disservice not only to the ill loved one but to you. I guess the doctors think it mean admitting failure, but being realistic about the illness and the probably outcome will enable you to persuade for earlier admission. Hospice is a wonderful helpful system set up to care for the ill person in their own home or perhaps in a residence. They provide palliative care, keeping that person comfortable and always acting with high respect. They also help YOU with the emotional turmoil as well as practical issues that are part of this stage of life. Hospice will typically enroll a patient if the doctor indicates end of life will occur within 6 months. That’s a wonderful amount of caring that can be extended if the loved one lingers on.
  • Use this time to make pre-arrangements so there is no need for intense decision making when the person passes. In fact, before your loved one gets so ill, it might help you to understand if there is anything s/he prefers. Many people can’t talk about death easily. Let me assure you, talking about it does not make it happen sooner.comfort love respect

Keep grounded

  • If you have a spiritual connection, relax in it, even if only a moment here and there during the day. As one wise woman said to me when I asked if there were special prayers, “Don’t worry about the words. He knows all the words.” Take some time to complain, to cry, to be angry. It is okay. It is normal.
  • If you have some friends, now is the time to call on that friendship.  Not everyday. Not for long hours. But ask for one to bring a home cooked meal, do a run to the grocery store for you, sit with you and have a glass of wine and a hug. If any friends are very special, ask for a relief hour so you can go get a haircut or gas up the car or just drive over to the park to watch the sun set. If you are used to doing for others, it may be hard to ask for help. Don’t be concerned; the time will come later on to help others again. Now it’s time to let others love you.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are not eating well and not getting enough sleep, you too will get sick. Your immune system is already being attacked because of the stress. This is the time you need to love yourself a bit more.

You know the final day will come. We just don’t know when. Trying to move from a position of pending loss to one of making it the best goodbye you can will give you more peace than you can ever imagine. Hugs.

 


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Wealthy Beyond Measure

Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other’s gold.

I learned that song in Brownies and it must have made a lot of sense to me as a 7-year-old because I have friends from prior chapters of my life.  My best friend from 6th grade is someone I can rely on always to be there for me. Other best friends in now far away former places I have lived maintain contact through the joy side of the Internet and we sometimes get to visit in person.Liz and Graham dancing

When I first joined Graham he was taking a six-month sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and we made some wonderful friends there. Anne and Barring just left this morning after two very full days to continue their summer exploration of the Pacific Northwest before returning home.  In the seven years since we left Colorado to return to West Virginia we have seen them twice and after basely skimming the surface of the wonderful attributes of the Willamette Valley on this short visit, they promise they will return to Oregon again.Barring and Anne at winery June 11 2014

It is difficult for some people to make friends.  Some simply because they don’t recognize the signs of a mutual interest that could serve as a base for deeper communication and friendship.  Friendship is not an instantaneous event and although I may have almost 300 “friends” on Facebook, many are people I have never met but we connected over some commonality. Whether that relationship builds to a true friendship will only be borne out over time. A few I think might; several others are not probable and the majority are in between. Being realistic of the term “friend” on Facebook is a sign of maturity.

It is also difficult for many people to maintain friendships when someone moves. I once worked for a wonderful woman who I am sure I will not offend at this moment because I sincerely doubt she reads anything I write now. I made a decision to move that had nothing to do with her.  She maintained contact for less than six months, and then, silence to every email, letter and phone call I made. It leaves me wondering how she is, and what the hell happened?  But I have to leave it behind. It was, after all, her choice.

This Patty Loveless song may sum up the pain many people feel when someone leaves.  For those, the pain of the leaving may get confused with anger at the person who left instead of maintaining contact.Friends

The internet and many cell phone plans make it easier than ever before for long distance friendship to continue. They are different, of course, then when people live proximal, but as my friend in New Jersey and these recent visitors from Colorado show, when there is love, there can be continuance. Forever. And so, I am wealthy beyond measure.


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Parenting Myself

So many people have been trying to help me move through this incident.  The most common thing people have said is “that’s why we have insurance.”  And that is true. She will get the medical care she needs at no cost to herself and the electric scooter will be repaired or replaced.

The concept of insurance is to protect against loss. Without it, the financial burden would be hard to cover, without a doubt.  I have, even in periods of my life when I was stressed financially, always carried insurance.  When I am the responsible party, the LEAST that can be done is cover the costs to try to get things back to where they were before the accident happened.

Many people said, “it was an accident, not something you planned to do.” Well, true. I did not start my day saying “hmmmm, wonder what it would feel like to hit someone with my car today.” But it has been a sort of nightmare concern of mine for years. I always envisioned my brakes failing…something where I was not in full control. Can’t duck this accident that way. But yes, it was an accident.

Other people have suggested that I will learn from this. Very true. More diligence when driving. I long ago put away the cell phone. I turn the radio off when I am in heavy traffic or nearing the last few turns trying to find a new place. I keep distractions down to a minimum.  Yet I know, as you probably do too, there are times when I know I am on “automatic.” I arrive home and wonder how tuned in I was sometimes. This time, though, I know I was alert…and yet I missed seeing her, so obviously I was not alert enough. Something to be more aware.

The best comment one friend made was to ask how I would parent my kids if one of them had had this accident. That was good. That gave me something to build back with.

Because I would not want any of my children to be feeling the way I do.  So what words of wisdom could I share with them to help them?

I think it is good that I am so bothered. It means I consider life to be precious, that I have no right to hurt someone or affect their life in such a negative way.

Have I been free from causing other people pain in my life before this? Not only no, but hell no. I am not going to go into details but I will admit that I enjoy using big words whenever I talk with my older kids’ father.  Okay, that kind of nastiness doesn’t get far from the Goodie Two Shoes standard, but there have been a few other people who have had their lives disrupted because of me. Not happy about it  but I have been able to work  through those situations by recognizing that those people played an equal part in the failure of what happened.

This woman was merely crossing the street….completely innocent…and perhaps that is the thing. Recognizing that other people make their choices and I make my choices and sometimes things will happen that cause them to bump.

Not happy. But yes, an accident. I get it.

It amazes me that so many of the bystanders made a similar comment: “At least you stopped and helped.” So many people run from the consequences of their actions that my staying and admitting responsibility was unusual? That is a pretty sad comment about society.

But before you agree, remember YOU are a member of that society.  And your actions are part of what we consider when we talk about society’s values. Set a good example and perhaps more will follow.

Okay, so I will move up out of this funk I think because of your words and your help and my own basic who I am. Let us all be a bit kinder.

 


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Trying to Find Grace

Okay, thank you. I was offered lots of quiet hugs after the prior post….offers to listen to the issue. And I still do not feel ready to discuss it but it is time to tell you.  It will, I think, take a long time to find the grace to forgive myself.

So much displeasure surrounds us. We have lost tolerance for people that get in our way or don’t agree with us or someone causes us to not do what we want when we want it. Or just disagrees so it turns to anger. One very caring person, when she managed to get out of me that I had had an automobile accident started raging about crazy drivers and even said she wished she had a gun to shoot people who make her so angry! What makes her so angry? Someone who pushes in and does not merge nicely!   This person is very dear to me and it horrifies me that someone that close can be thinking her lack of calm should result in someone being shot?

What is wrong with us?  What have we turned into? Why have we lost the ability to control our emotions? Why do so many of us go so easily into rages?

So, I will spill the beans because this kind of anger to others is sick and needs to stop.

I was the cause of an accident yesterday. Oh, I have been in accidents before. I even caused one as a very new driver, totaling my parents’ van. But as expensive as that was, it was just property damage. Everyone was okay.

I’ve even been in an accident that I did not cause where I was hurt. I probably had a concussion.  And no one seemed to care so I tried to ignore it too.

But this time, I hurt a person. They took her to the hospital and the EMT assured me she was not hurt badly, but that is the only grace I can hold on to. Because I care. About her.

Sure, my insurance is going to go up. And yes, we have some minor damage to our car. But that  consequence of an accident is normal.

But hurting another person is horrible.

Rick MyerSo, my angel that appeared….he happens to be a guy I met at this new church we are attending. He sits in front of me with his family and from the first day I showed up there he has chatted and shared and been very friendly. Yesterday, he hugged me and held my hand and kept me grounded. Last night he showed up in the class on Jewish Roots I am holding as a Lenten seminar and only at the end after everyone else had left, respecting my need to be private about working this out, he quietly asked me how I was doing. And I know he will ask again and again as the weeks go on. Because he also cares about people. He feels. He knows.

I was holding it together okay today until it got later n the day. When it got dark, my mood also went darker. One more person who is very close pushed a bit hard to find out what happened and kept on pushing so I finally emailed a terse explanation. And then she was quiet. For a while. Probably because she also felt the horror.  When she finally wrote back I chose not to answer but she will read this and I hope she understands I still am not ready to discuss it but I decided it might  be easier if you all know.

We really need to check out our reactions when we lose our cool and want to strike out and hurt someone.  Think about it people.  This life is not about who gets there first. I believe it is who has the most friends around to hold their hands at times like this.hand holding

Thank you for being my friend. Remember we all are family.

 


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The Appearance of an Angel

Life goes on…..things are doing their daily things and thenBoomsomething major happens and life as you thought you knew it, changes.

It is amazing when someone appears and holds you. The simple touch of a hand on yours, a hug around the shoulder, a look of concern into your eyes, can make a significant calming and grounding impact.

It can’t take away the calamity but it reminds you that you do not walk alone.

I can think of three times when an angel showed up in my life. The first time was a stranger and the other two happened to be someone I knew who just happened to be there at the moment when a familiar face and love helped me through. Today was the third time and my angel…and the incident…will remain private but know I am okay.

Here is my story about the first angel I wrote as part of a life stories class.

The Prayer

“I seen you heh now for two days.  Whaz happ’n?” 

I glanced up from the book which had meaningless gibberish in front of me to look into the concerned eyes of the cleaning lady assigned to the 11th floor at Vanderbilt Medical Center. 

“My husband had a stroke during an operation for a brain tumor a couple of days ago. He’s in a coma in the ICU and they are surprised he is still alive“ I shared, managing to keep the sobs quieted for the moment. 

Immediately she grabbed my hand. “Whachoo prayin’ for?” 

Surprised at her question, I stammered, “I guess I’m praying for strength.” 

“What for?” was her immediate response. 

“To deal with whatever happens.” 

“Oh no, Baby, don’t you pray for strength!” 

“No?” 

“No! You pray for strength and He gonna give it to you. He gonna send you all kind of troubles to show you He send you strength,” 

That was logic I had not considered. “Oh….. But what should I pray for?” 

“You tell Him you done had enough!” 

“Really?” 

“Really!”

 “I can do that?” 

“You can do that!” 

Thinking of the tons of prayer books that are part and parcel of any religion, “Is there a special prayer to make, any special words I should say?” 

“Oh no, Baby, “she smiled.  “He knows ALL the words.”  With that, she released my hand and patted it, smiled and wandered off to clean. 

The day continued with two more permitted half hour visits inside the Neuro Intensive Care Unit.  Problems were still popping up and while the doctors and the nurse tried to put a positive spin on the situation, it was apparent that Dave was still very fragile. 

I left the hospital around 10p.m. to get to Sam’s babysitter before they headed to bed.  As I drove down I-24 I decided to open the car window, I suppose to really let my words out. 

“Okay! So what the hell is going on? This is too much! I want it to stop! I need him to get better! You’re the one in charge here. Do the right thing!” 

I got to the babysitters’ house, picked up my sleeping 15-month-old and somehow got him into his car seat without waking him.  Got him home and into his crib, and then listened to the messages on the telephone answering machine.  I left a new outgoing message to update people when they called the next day and I would be out, and then headed to bed, exhausted. 

The next day, nothing bad happened. 

The day after that, Dave woke up. 

By the way, I never saw that cleaning lady again. 

~~~~~~~ 

It seems that almost all religions have prescribed ways to speak words to God.  It also seems that most disagree. So what is recognized as prayer at one church is completely different at another. 

And yet, if I accept the concept that God is everywhere and knows everything, why not use any words I want to say? He does, after all, know all the words.

~~~~~~

 I believe meeting this Angel who taught me a life lesson supported my concept that I need not go to a certain building to read certain words lead by a specific leader.

Prayer and thoughtful discussion with my Higher Power can and does take place anywhere, anytime, with a varied choice of communication techniques.

The important aspect is how involved you and your heart are in that prayer, not the words said.

 


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Life Ripples

A moment has arrived that I knew would eventually and I wondered what my role would be. my older children’s grandmother is dying.  It is clear to me that my presence there would not be appreciated, so the need to attend the impending events is eliminated.  So that is not the issue.

I suppose whenever someone dies that I have known intimately, it reminds me that my time here is also limited. It reminds me that the impression I will make on others will be varied….there will be those who will be saddened, others who will sometimes remind themselves that the reason these postings have ended is because someone finally learned how to shut me up, but I believe there will only a few, a very few, who may be glad. (To those of you; dream on, my voice will remain in your head as it has in all the time we have stopped talking to each other.)

The main issue is how to help my kids. I know the concept of death can be scary to some. No matter what your belief system, there is no SURE way to know what happens next and to some, that makes death itself something to fear.  Having been with a few loved ones when they passed I could witness there was no struggle, there was no fight to stay here. It has given me a sense of peace that when my own time comes, it will be a transition to the next adventure.dying hand

The other issue is how to help them come up with words for a eulogy; how to talk about their experience so it eases them. I firmly believe a funeral or memorial service is for the people left here. To not hold some kind of celebration is to potentially result in a lack of closure for some.  So, the service gives people a chance to share their thoughts, their memories.

I remember writing a eulogy for my mother. There were wrestling matches over my life that I knew need not be included, but neither was I comfortable talking about Mom as a saint. She had her flaws and perhaps because of them, the fact that so many people loved her was more meaningful. It took time to get to that point of view but it allowed for a more thoughtful and heartfelt composition for me.candles

My ex-law was also a bit of a challenged person but I was able to point out some of her strong-willed actions came from a position of loss. Having gotten pregnant in high school, she and her sweetheart married, and at age 16 she was forced out of school.  Not only did she complete high school but she went on to college and had a long career as an elementary school teacher. It is a clear example of her determination that she would make her own pathway despite obstacles.

So, go in peace Portia Garmat…..there lies a whole new place ahead to conquer!