Tomorrow is my surgery. I’m looking forward to it as I hope it is going to take care of the pain I’ve been having for quite some time. I guess my first real hurdle was getting the letter from the insurance company and having them go through all this almost-legal-speak to tell me, finally, near the very end of the letter, that they’d approved my procedure. Well… terrific! I was stunned at first reading it thinking they were writing to tell me that I wasn’t going to be approved, in which case I was prepared to be totally miserable. No way could we afford this on our own. It makes me very grateful I have been able to afford insurance – even though it is one of our major expenses, due to being self-employed.

For some reason I’ve just been feeling this urge to communicate. To write down thought and maybe make amends… I’m not drinking, but it in in the “drunk-dialing” variety of urges that is spurring me on. Do it and damn the consequences. At least until I read it later.

Some people probably get tired of hearing me say it, but I love my husband…so much. I know he worries and I’ve contributed to his worry with some of my irresponsibilitys with money and recklessness with which I’ve done some things in my life. I hope he can forgive me and knows that my pledge to do better is heartfelt.

When I met him I thought he was the most gorgeous guy. I mean, tall, dark and wonderful… my “dream guy” come to life. I couldn’t stop staring! Through the years that opinion has changed. Now now only is he beautiful to me on the outside, but I know what a warm, generous and loving man he is on the inside. I have truly been blessed to have this man in my life for over 30 years. Best thing of all? He loves me too! He leaves me without a shred of a doubt as to the depth and breadth of this love – every day. Who could ask for more?

…and what can I say about my kids? After upsetting my eldest by blogging about her I promised I would never do it again, but I just have to say that I love her as much as a mother can. She’s the first, the one who when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing had to endure a young mother’s ignorance. A premie, she was so close to not even being with me that I truly do treasure every day she is on this earth. I am so proud of the obstacles she has had to endure and the progress she is making to better her life. I don’t always say it right, but I’m working on that.

My eldest son. He can be tough but he has this soft gooey middle. Sometimes it is a toss-up who is the biggest softie of all the kids. I’ve seen him grow from innocence to rebelliousness to a man who any mother could be proud to call son. Although each of my children are independent souls, his was independent much earlier – flying out of the nest and forcing himself to make the best of it. It is to his character that he has friends – good friends – that he has had his whole life long, and now a loving wife who treasures him as much as we do.

Younger daughter. Although Hubs likes to refer to her as “Susan-junior” or “mini-me”, I prefer to refer to her as “Susan 2.0”. She is the new, improved version. The better ‘me’. Yes, and although she has a lot of traits similar to mine, she is still very much her own woman. She is beautiful and fiesty and takes no shit… but, as in the case of her siblings, she has a soft core, maybe softer than all the rest. One she protects fiercely and who takes things very hard when the world, or other people, do not live up to her expectations. It is hard to get in, but so worth it if you do.

Last, but far from least, is younger son. No longer a boy, but a man as well. Tall and broad shouldered and soft-hearted as they come. I see a lot of his father in him and that is something to be very proud of. He, too, shares his life with his loving wife and critters and he would do anything for any member of his family… siblings and parents included. I hope as the years go on he learns to love this farm life and not become jaded or hard from it. It has certainly changed my life… and brought me all the beautiful blessings that are my family, and yes, my critters too.

Oh, wow… this has turned rather sappy, hasn’t it? That wasn’t my intent. I know you are told to tell your loved ones that you love them every day. I try, as often as I can. I guess I’m just touching all my bases.

Oh… and all of you, my blog friends, have a special place in my heart as well. Some of you have become very good friends. We’ve never met in the “real” world, but I haven’t given up hope that may happen someday!

God Bless… see you on the other side of tomorrow.

Picking Up My Jaw Off the Floor

I didn’t (and still don’t) intend on this blog becoming a health and diet journal, but honestly people… I have to tell you this stuff or I’ll explode. Bear with me.

The last post? The update? Well, those jeans were a size 12. I analyzed the way they fit and wondered, “can I get into a size smaller?”… because, frankly, I could pull the waistband out at least an inch. First I asked my younger daughter who is my height and I know smaller than I am if I could try on a pair of her jeans. She let me and again, they fit. Size 12. Okay. Now I was feeling brave. I am fitting into “regular” jeans. Not “fat girl” jeans. I know you women understand that statement… Men, if you don’t understand, as a female friend.

So, feeling buoyed up by the whole thing I talked daughter into going shopping with me for jeans. At a real store. Not a “fat girl” store. Risking it, I took some size 10’s into the dressing room at daughter’s encouragement. I put them on and my daughter started laughing at me from the next room as the expletives came out of my mouth. I was stunned. I didn’t have to lay on the floor… and I could breath… AND I felt like I just might be able to go to another size smaller.

You heard me. I did. I put on a size 8. A size EIGHT. These are not baggie jeans. I did not have to lay down to put them on. I could still breathe. I could sit down without cutting off my circulation. I could move. Stunned is not the word for how I felt. I have gone from a size 18 “fat girl”… to size 8 “real girl” jeans.

Do you know how long it has been since I could get into a size EIGHT? Years. Years and years. Before my kids were born. AND… the most bizarre thing is, I haven’t even gotten to what the charts and the doctors call my “ideal” healthy weight. I may have lost all I need to off my butt and legs, but my gut and arms still need more, so am hoping that’s where the rest comes off. To that effect, I have started lifting weights for my arms and doing sit-ups for my gut.

I gave all my other jeans away. I don’t want to go back. I’m actually having fun looking at this “new” body. Now if I can just keep working on the inside so I don’t sabotage myself, I have a great chance of making it stick. In the past when I have even made a start on a weight loss program, it seems like as soon as I start getting some off and I may be drawing a little bit of attention, then I panic and bulk right back up again – throwing myself back into my protective cocoon. This time? I feel much more confident in myself. I feel there is going to be a lasting change because I did it the right way and for the right reasons.

I’m looking forward to the next phase… and, yeah, I’m kinda proud of myself. That sounds conceited and all braggy (is that even a word?)… but damnit, I deserve it. Let the cheering commence!

Finding My Footing Pt2

I was stunned. Sitting in the backseat, trying to absorb what I’d just been told. My younger daughter had been downstairs and not aware of anything going on upstairs until she heard the screaming through the heat vents… coming upstairs she realized there were pills all over the counter as well as my sharpest knife. All eldest daughter could repeat was “call mom!” urgently between crying and yelling in anguish. I tried to talk to her from the back seat, trying to get through to her… trying to understand how she could go from okay one day to this. No warning.

When we got to the Emergency Room I helped her inside. She was beginning to get a bit woozy and they quickly rolled up a wheelchair and took her away for treatment.

Younger daughter and I sat and waited, quietly rehashing what had happened. Trying to see what we’d missed. The piece we’d not seen that had brought us here once more. I sent a text to my hubs to let him know and got back two words. “Oh shit.”

After a couple of hours of waiting they let us go back to see her. They’d given her charcoal and her mouth was black with smudges on her nose and cheeks. It made her look like a little orphan waif laying on the bed. I tenderly cleaned off her face and she started crying again. We talked about everything and anything and it all came back to the same thing… the divorce. She was to meet her husband later in the week to file the papers to start the divorce proceedings and it suddenly became very real to her. They had been seperated for months, but until those papers were filed she thought she had a chance, maybe, to work it out with him. It didn’t seem to matter that she had a son who still needed her very badly “He’ll be with his dad and then they can travel like his dad wants to”… She didn’t seem to care that she was still young and beautiful and had so much life ahead of her to look forward to… “I can’t, it hurts too much. How will I ever be able to trust that someone loves me again? I thought HE was the one.”… It wasn’t in her to understand that she wasn’t alone and that she wouldn’t be homeless or starve to death and that she’d have people who loved her and would care for her as long as she needed… “I will never be able to live on my own. I’m not going to ever be able to afford it.” Everything that I said was flung back at me with anger and negativity. I asked her why the knife… “Because this time I meant it. This time was going to be the time I did this right.”

They moved her up to a room on a medical floor so she could be kept supervised for a few hours.They wanted to make sure she didn’t injure her kidneys or liver… or any other physical part. They had a “sitter” who would stay with her all the time. It was that, or they were going to move her to the ICU where they could watch her all the time. They wanted to make sure she didn’t try and harm herself further. We went with her and made sure she got settled in. By this time she was pretty sleepy and we let her sleep, talking to the intake nurse who was trying to get all her medical history. The questions rang so familar… things I’d answered hundreds of times when the kids were little and had to go to the doctor. I felt I was dealing with a child, not a 30-some year old woman.

Then came the question, “Has she been under any stress in the past year?”.

Oh, my. I looked at my younger daughter and we both laughed with awkward nervous laughter. “Where do I begin?”. The depressions, the ECT treatments last summer, the marriage troubles, the separation, the moving out of her house and having it foreclosed on, the bankruptcy, the moving into our house, the having to put her two cats up for adoption, the going back to work after being off for nine months, the 12 year old son who is getting teenage hormones and is giving her grief about where he wants to live and who he wants to live with and how he isn’t ‘comfortable’ living with us, her off-again-on-again relationship with her husband and trying to find other friends after so many years of being isolated… I mean, pick any one of them and they’re a nightmare.

I used to think eldest daughter was the most level headed and competent of all my children. I used to feel she was old before her time when she was young. Part of that I think is my fault for thinking that probably at too young of an age. I asked a lot of her growing up. I put a lot of responsibility on her that I probably shouldn’t have and wish now that I hadn’t. I see now that in some ways she may have suffered for that, just as I suffered from my own parents’ mistakes.

I wish with all my heart I could believe her when she tells me she has promised, for her son’s sake, that she will never do this again. I wish I could know that the next time she is hurting so badly that she will stop and call someone – anyone – and stop. I’m hoping that the support group her therapist is trying to find for her will be a successful match and she’ll find people there who can help her through this. People who have the right things to say and do and who maybe have some strategies to get her through these hard times. I hope she knows she always has us, her family, there for her – but I also know that sometimes it can be us who are the problem. Just as new roommates need to learn to live with each other, her coming home to live has created some turmoil and territorial issues that my OCS (only child syndrome for those of you who haven’t read me before) can bring on. I’m learning to live with another person added to the mix and I keep telling her it isn’t just her, but myself and how I deal with things in life in general… such as, not being a morning person and being snappy when I am stressed…

I tell her… she doesn’t know what the future may bring. I certainly didn’t expect my life to end up how it did! I was the city kid who was never getting married, never having kids… and now on my second marriage (30+ years) and four kids and married to a farmer living in the country? Well, you could have blown me over with a feather if someone had shown me that crystal ball years ago! I tell her all things are possible – that all is not lost. BUT… that she has to be breathing for it to happen.

I just keep telling her the most important thing of all… that I love her, that we love her. I hope she’s listening.

Finding My Footing

What a week it has been.

Last Saturday I spent the day with my mother and my eldest daughter. It was a relatively good day… as good as a day spent trying to make out what is being said in a noisy, crowded Olive Garden with a mother who isn’t wearing her hearing aids and an unwillingness to shout. Later after lunch my daughter was saying she wasn’t feeling well and thought she might be coming down with Hubs’ cold he’d been fighting for a couple of weeks.

When we got back to mom’s, she went to lay down as I tackled mom’s bookwork… ending in me having a massive headache, shoulder pain, and a craving for alchohol.

When we got home I unwound a bit online and my daughter went to lay down. I thought she was feeling a bit better but didn’t realize all that she had running through her mind.

Sunday younger daughter and myself decided to do a movie marathon… something we like to do from time to time. We had originally decided on one movie I wanted to see and another one late in the day that Hubs’ wanted to see. We were going to join up with him later for that. Well, I talked to elder daughter and she wasn’t interested in seeing either movie, plus she was still feeling a bit under the weather. After a brief discussion with younger daughter we decided there was another movie she wanted to see as well so we were going to go to it when Hubs’ piped up and said he’d be interested in tagging along. Well, alrighty then!

As it turned out, by the time we’d watched the first two he didn’t want to go see “his” choice after all, so we came home. Elder daughter was still being quiet and I thought she was still feeling ill.

The next morning I heard her up very early showering and when I got around I found out she’d gone back to bed. Said she’d called in sick. I went in to work and about 10:30 am got a phone call from my younger daughter. “Come home. Now. Amanda needs you.”

I drove way faster than I should have been, considering the driving conditions, and flew into the open garage… my mind racing with any number of possibliities as to what was going on. I raced inside not noticing my daughters were already sitting in younger daughter’s vehicle. I hopped in and asked “What happened?”… to be told she’d taken pills. Too many pills. We were on the way to the ER.

…to be continued…

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug. *

It has now been one year. One year since Dad passed away, quietly, while the hospice women cleaned and cared for him. We were at home, at Mom’s, and getting ready to go to see him. Mom was still in bed when I got the call. I was able to tell her, hug her, hold her, and not cry. I still have not cried. A year and I have not shed a tear for my father.

He was a hard man in so many ways. I have tried to be in his shoes and look through his eyes often. He lost his first wife after a long battle with polio at a very young age and was left with a three-year-old daughter who was the spitting image of his dead bride. Who, though she didn’t know it growing up, was told later that she even had her mother’s mannerisms. Could this be the crisis that hardened his heart? That caused him to withdraw into alchohol and anger? To make him so over-protective that he made his home a prison for his daughter and his second wife?

The public man was a very different man. He was boisterous and bold. Laughing and joking. The life of the party. If you were in a restaurant with him, he was rarely at the table. You would find him in the kitchen, talking to the head chef, the manager, and flirting with all the waitresses.

He was proud of his Irish heritage and St. Patrick’s Day was “his” holiday. He was known for taking off work two days – one to celebrate, one to recouperate. He would go to the local Irish pub and spend the day drinking, joking, laughing, and pinching pretty girls on the backside. His dream was to one day go to the ‘homeland’ and see it all. He never made it… time and life got in the way.

I’m a middle-aged mom of four now. I have a grandchild, a bunch of grand-critters, and a man who has spent three decades with me. I have a life that now revolves around trips to see my mother. To visit, to help out with small chores that she can’t do on her own, to try and give her some company and support. I see the changes in her this year. In many ways she is stronger – not having to follow what rules my father dictated. She is lonely and misses him, I know, and I’m sure she has shed many a tear for him. Me? I still can’t.

I wonder sometimes if I am too harsh a judge. Too unforgiving. I hope he is at peace now. I hope someday to know that for sure. Guess that time will come soon enough. It sure seems to go by quicker all the time… I can’t believe it has really been a year.

Peace be with you, Dad.

*John Lithgow

New Year’s 2010

I remember being a kid watching “2001 A Space Odyssey” and thinking how far away that was in the future. Now we’ve gone far beyond and are entering a new decade. I look back and the past year and so many things have happened that changed the course of my life. My father dying, my daughter having more ECT treatments… then separating from her husband and she and her son moving in with us. It has been a busy year that flew by so fast and I barely have any blog posts to show for it. That disturbs me more than it should.

I’ve decided to set myself some goals this year. Call them resolutions, if you must. I find that a bit overwhelming. Just the fact that resolution has such a bad connotation to it… I mean, seriously, how many people really keep their resolutions? Whereas if you refer to them as goals, it sounds much more obtainable. Perhaps that is all in my own mind, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

So I’ve heard the best way to keep goals is to make them public. To share them with family and friends. Guess what? If you’re reading this, you probably qualify. Here goes:
– I’m going to take better care of my health, specifically my diabetes.
– Directly related to the above, I’m going to eat healthier.
– I’m going to exercise more. No, I’m not going to be unrealistic and say something silly like “daily”… because, well, you’d just know I’d be lying. However, when you are as much of a couch potato as I am, “more” isn’t too hard to do.
– I’m going to try and clean out some of my “nests”. I am by no means a hoarder. Watching that show has made me cringe, however, and realize that it wouldn’t be fun for my family to have to clean out some areas of my home were I to be unable to do it. They’ll thank me later.
– I’m going to write. Daily. Yes. You heard it here. Daily. There, I said it again. Doesn’t mean I’m going to be blogging daily, but if I’m ever going to meet my goal of writing a book someday before I die, I’d better get busy. Soon.
– I’m going to start my Christmas shopping early. This does not mean December 1. (Although that would beat this year…) I would like to have it done before we get busy with the harvest. This includes wrapping. Okay, family… stop laughing. Now.
– I would like to re-connect with some of my friends. Real life friends. I’ve been a bad friend and know it. I only hope it isn’t too late.
– I would like to refrain from cutting my hair off every time I get a wild hair… no pun intended. It is never going to grow out if I keep doing that. I know that.
– I am not going to wait until the last minute to have the bookwork caught up for the tax man. Bad Sue. Causes stress that is totally unnecessary. Totally.
– I’m going to take a little time to be grateful for all I have. I would like to think I’ve gotten better at this through the years, but I never want to forget it. I have it good. I have much good fortune that many people do not. I don’t want take those things for granted.

Okay… on that note, keep in mind… I never intend to even start most of these goals until Monday. That would be next Monday.

Happy New Year!

Dear Writer

There are some bloggers out there who are amazing writers. Truly amazing. They can say things that get to me. Deep inside of me. Whether it is reaching down and touching a memory or giving me a giggle, they can get to me.

I know it is silly, but when one of those bloggers comments on my blog or sends me an email I suddenly feel like I have been seen. That I’m Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club” and you have fussed over me and made me pretty and accepted and … seen.

I’ve never been one of the ‘cool’ kids. When I was in school I loved the work, the learning, but hated the rest. I sat in the back and barely spoke unless directly called upon. I got good grades because studying was interesting to me and important to me. I enjoyed the challenge.

Growing up I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. We lived near to a large state university that had great vet med program. I took all the math and science I could cram in… then realized I hated it. I liked the idea of the animals and helping them, but to actually do all the rest? Not so much. The final blow came when I went to visit a relative who was a veterinarian and he let me watch him stitch up a cat that had been in a bad fight. Faint? Yeah. As a teen, that was soooo embarrassing.

Somewhere along the way my English teacher noticed I enjoyed writing. Then they offered to let me take an independent study course of creative writing. I’d get credit for doing something I did all the time anyway… and actually liked? Cool.

Of course, my parents thought that going from a veterinarian to a writer was a huge mistake. Just one of the many mis-steps I was going to have in my life, according to them.

One thing led to another which led to … well, life. I never did go to college. Never did get that degree. Never did turn into a ‘Writer’.

Still? It gives me warm and fuzzy’s when the big kids like something I’ve said. Or, to even realize they’ve been here. I wonder if they realize how powerful they really are? How their very prescence here makes me feel validated.

Thanks guys. It means a lot.

No, I’m not going to name names or link. If you think you might be ‘that person’, you probably are.

Having Fun Yet?

Sorry I’ve been missing. Partly it has been an issue with the evil forces of the internet. You know… those stupid virus-maleware types again. Thanks again to Brad for fixing me. Sheesh. I wish that would just stop. It really gets annoying. Hope none of you got infected. It upsets me on so many levels. Mainly because I’m afraid it will scare off all two of you who are still reading this.

The other reason for my lack of posts is the season. We are full-swing into harvest now. Among other things my sleep patterns are all messed up. Yesterday morning I was wide awake at 3 a.m. Then I worked until 7 p.m. only to turn around and be wide awake again this morning at 4 a.m. I mean, c’mon! We are so busy and then my brain just seems to not want to shut off. Glad this is only a seasonal thing. If it lasted year-round I’m sure I would have a melt-down. I feel sorry for those people who have these kinds of long and stressful days every day. I couldn’t do it.

Last, I just once more want to mention that no matter how much I rant and rave around the internets… my heart knows just how lucky I really am. I have seen so much loss, hurt, sorrow, pain… there are people hurting all over the blogosphere and in my real life and I feel for them. I suppose I should just shut up and quit whining, but then what would I blog about? KIDDING. (Sort of.)

To those of you who are hurting or have loved ones who are hurting… you know who you are. You know that I care. To those of you who have things going pretty good right now? Take a minute to acknowledge that… be it to your God, the Universe, or just to yourself.

The Written Word

I don't know what prompts us to throw ourselves on the tracks and purge all over the blogosphere, but I've seen it so many times from so many of us. I've seen confessions and breakdowns and infidelity and loathing and love. I've seen blog posts from people that I'm not sure they themselves have a clue what they're talking about. We all have written posts like that, our internal monologue filling in the blanks so that the reader is only getting half of the conversation, only half of the clues to the puzzle that is our thoughts.

I admit, I read some of your posts with envy. I am jealous of the words and the emotion and the absolute beauty that comes through your words. I am a reader. My family will attest to the fact that I am rarely without a book on my person – or within reach. I used to buy them all until a few years ago when I realized I was going to go broke trying to keep up with my habit – as horrible as a crack habit. You do not want to see me without a book. Trust me on this.

I took a New Years' oath to stop buying books. Okay, not altogether, but I cut back by at least 98 percent. I read about one book every day or two. If it is a very long tome, it may take me a week. I am lucky that my local library is online and I am able to put books on 'hold' – including new releases, so I am in there about once a week exchanging one pile for another. It is highly frustrating to finish one book in the dead of night, only to pick up a new one and start to read – realizing you have read this one already. I used to keep a list of books I'd read, and even tried to put them on my blog, but I just go through them too fast to keep lists of them. It slows me down.

So it is that I feel exceptionally bad about not keeping up on my blog reading. It isn't that it would take me a long time to read your posts. It isn't that I don't want to know what is going on with you and in your life and in your head. I can't really explain why it is that I am so bad at it. I only know that as much as I do read I am inside-out green with some of your posts. I want you to expand those posts – I want to see a book that explores this person further and lets me see more insight than the glimmers you've shown me. The way you turn a phrase or bring a tear or make us smile. I envy that ability to move us with words.

Keep up the good work. You know who you are.*

*Yes, you. All of you over there on that list to the right.