Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

that yours?

Something is happening. As I progress to the inevitable, I recognize how many before me have dealt with the very same issues. I hope to show grace during my tenure.

My elders are leaving the planet faster than before. Some are great friends; some are dear family. It is difficult to endure but everyone knows the transition must come.

I keep seeing the same scenario: who gets or wants what. Even as I begin my relocation, people ‘shop’ my belongings, knowing I have to downsize. They love me. They love my things. They want my things. Sometimes I am thrilled to give things to certain friends, as a memory of our relationship. Sometimes I would appreciate people recognizing that I love these things, that I have treasured them, and that I am out of money and asking for my belongings as gifts could get a little old.

I am not being selfish with my things. I have given more business clothes away, designer clothes, evening clothes, and accessories than I ever realized I owned. I will never use these things again and I want them to make someone feel good, or happy or well dressed. Fine. I am getting rid of furniture constantly. Then, there are the collections that I need to sell to pay for my move. Friends want them, at a huge discount. I have written before that I recognize how little something actually costs when you have owned it for years. It is miniscule. There are still times that I find it a little hard on my heart to have people ask if they can have an obviously expensive item for no cost. I realize they will sell my treasure. I no longer have time to sell the small stuff. Maybe I have just had too many people ask in too short a time. I know they mean no harm. It just causes an odd feeling. I have become a thrift shop. I ask my step kids and my nieces and nephews about things they might want. I have asked my sisters. That is my choice. If I can get things to people before I pack, we both win. I think sometimes people forget that I have family to consider. I think sometimes people forget losing your favorite things does not feel as good as they feel, sniffing out a bargain.

As my relatives reach their ending, the family is already asking for things. I admit I used to have the same thoughts. I reached a conclusion years ago: I would prefer having the memories of spending time with my family. If they decide they want or need more money and I cannot help them enough, I hope they sell everything and live on the proceeds. I would be thrilled to see them well enough to take a trip around the world; selling off every single item, they own to finance it. No inheritance is necessary. It was never mine to begin with.

None of these things belongs to me. They belong to the person who actually owns them. The person who remembers why and where they purchased that item and the memory that belongs to the storyline. It is not mine. It is not yours. It is not OK to begin pestering people for ‘when they die’. I heard someone not long ago ask if she could go ahead and take a table, since she was going to get it anyway. I almost gave her my jewelry because after that comment, I was about to die right then.

No. it is not OK to ‘go ahead and take belongings that you want from someone who still wants them’.

A very dear relative of mine says that my brother, a nephew, and I are the only people not expecting things from her demise. It made her sad. It broke my heart. When I see her, I always ask about family, about where she purchased things, what the reason was. I love to see the history of items and think about when she and her husband were young and furnishing their homes. Those are cherished memories, not things that ‘would look good in my place’.

So, as I craft my new will, making lists of things that will go to my relatives who will live much longer than I care to, I try not to be offended by the things I’ve already had people ask me to ‘gift’ them. Selfish as it seems, I am still using some of my things. All of us are. They will one day be a gift. When that day comes, enjoy, appreciate, and have a kind word to say about the true owner.

Only then will it be yours. Sometimes the price is higher than expected.

getting older, having fun

My birthday is coming.

I have always loved to celebrate a birthday. When I lived in Colorado and had my business, I would write a poem about the upcoming event, fax it to a bunch of my friends, and wait. The poem told them that we had one month to get together, their treat, for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktails. It was such fun. For an entire month, I would see people, re-new good friendships and catch up on life around me.

In our family, we sing to each other on our birthday. Each year, usually early, the phone will ring. It will be my brother or my stepmom and dad or my best friend. Years ago, it would also be my mom and step dad, my husband and his kids. This year my aunt will call, singing. My best pal across the street and my best friend who lives in Boulder will follow. My brother will call, singing. It is a family custom, and anyone pulled into our fray knows to participate. As a result, I will have a day filled with birthday song and good wishes. I love my birthday.

The more I relocate, the smaller my birthday pond becomes. In Colorado, I had about 30 interactions, getting together with friends because of my poem. I lived in Salem, Oregon just under 2 years and never had the opportunity to be so bold. When we moved to Spokane, I was no longer running a business and my friends all became my husband’s employee group or a very few neighbors. The boss’s wife cannot tell his employees to do anything so my poem had to stop. I miss that poem and the camaraderie it created.

Tomorrow my Facebook wall will fill with birthday wishes. I will never meet most of these people. We are online friends. We grieve together when something untoward happens to anyone in our ‘group’. We celebrate victories, however small, and send well wishes and homegrown knowledge to anyone who might require a bit of help. We recognize the newly formed units of family and friends. These are important relationships to us. They broaden our lives.

My best friend across the street will take me to lunch soon. This is our tradition. Another woman who lives nearby will do the same. I have begun getting fun cards in the mail. My step kids will probably call, which I cherish and I know my ‘almost-ex husband’ will think of me with a bit of regret.

Tomorrow I will not do anything that does not appeal to me.

Instead of sending my birthday poem, people will send me best wishes online because of computerized reminders.

Naturally, I will think of my mother, losing her, missing her, thanking her for life. I will think of friends and relatives who have a significant memory tied to my special day. It is my birthday. I would not consider ignoring this date. I earned this. “And Many More”

Let’s Pretend

Someone very important in my life is pretending. It disturbs me. That makes me question why:  not why she is pretending, but why do I let it disturb me?

She lost her husband, the love of her life. Now, she has taken up a sort of ‘cause’ to collaborate with another man, because he reminds her of her husband. The new guy is driving the family nuts. They cannot stand him. She cannot explain the attraction. I suspected. I asked. She said that sometimes she even calls him by her husband’s name, and then realizes what she has done. Fortunately, the man is so hard of hearing, he does not even know. She is paying many of his bills.

Another family member is keeping her doggy long past time. It is painful to see. The dog is not allowed outside. Ever. Will never again be allowed outside. The dog does all of its ‘business’ in the house, which is causing issues you can imagine. The dog can never be around any other dog due to an autoimmune disorder. The dog has such a small life. My family thinks it is better than putting the dog to sleep. They are continuing to search for ways to lessen the pain, to ease the suffering. My heart is breaking for the dog. My heart hurts for my family member. Prolonging the agony. I see no winner here.

Someone who used to be in my life is a chronic liar. It seems impossible to stop. Oddly, this person has high moral standards where others are concerned. He has shed people who lied. He has refused relationships with people doing exactly as he does. He pretends to be the man he wants to be. He pretends he is honorable. He pretends to be truthful. At the mere mention of a lie, he reacts negatively. He pretends.

Another person, very close to me is pretending his mom is doing well. She is not. She cannot hear, but neither he nor she will acknowledge that. She cannot remember but makes up reasons and blames others. She has begun hoarding things and creating reasons to do that. She is not well. He pretends she is.

I pretend all is well. I am out of money. I am frantic to pay my bills and find a place I can afford to live. I pretend to others that I know I will be fine. I will leave a life of luxury to live in a mobile home. My best friend reminds me that it will be the cutest mobile home anyone has ever seen. I pretend that is true. I pretend the place I park my new little trailer will be great. I pretend.

A neighbor of mine is battling for her child who is on drugs. My neighbor is a recovering alcoholic. Her husband pretends the daughter is fine. My neighbor sees the truth and cannot pretend. The daughter pretends she is clean every time she comes home to get some rest and money. Then, she leaves, buys more drugs, and pretends until she needs help again.

My parents pretend they are going to downsize. They live in an over-crowded home that they cannot maintain, in spite of the elevator they installed. They live in 3 rooms of a large home. They cannot manage much of anything but pretend they do. They pretend they will move to a smaller home and give in to age. They have pretended this for almost 15 years, when they began to look for homes in their area, slightly smaller. Now, in their 80’s, they pretend they will actually move to a 2 or 3 bedroom place, get rid of at least one car, since neither should drive anymore, and they will be fine. Neither of them is fine. They are elderly and have a list of ailments that would frighten anyone in their 40’s. Nevertheless, they pretend.

I used to pretend that love would solve anything. I pretended that one day someone would ‘complete me’. I used to pretend that my life would be different. I pretended that true love would make everything else work. I pretended that having someone to share my life with was important. That being alone was somehow sad.

When my friend lies, I pretend to believe. When my parents contemplate their move, I pretend to listen to new plans. When my neighbor says his daughter has finally learned, I pretend to congratulate. When my relative pretends her husband is still beside her, I pretend to understand. When someone tells me of love, I pretend to bask in his or her glow.

I remember how I would pretend as a child. I would pretend I was a doctor, or a nurse, or a pilot or a mother. I would pretend my future, always rosy, never difficult. I would pretend I would be popular, famous, smart, or beautiful.

When things go awry, don’t most of us pretend they will improve? I think improvement is really acceptance. At first, we cannot envision accepting the difficulty we face. Then, we grow accustomed to what life will be. Then, we recognize it did not kill us. It did not end so many things. We just learned to get along.

I guess I never stopped. I just pretend.

friends

I’ve been thinking about my friends. Learning who your friends are is important. Your friends are people you can reach for when you need to lean. I recognize how fortunate I am to count so many.

I have many friends from my airline days. These men and women have been physically absent from my life for decades. If I need any one of them, they will  immediately respond. That is friendship. I just got a phone message from one. She lives in Atlanta. We haven’t seen each other in 25 years but stay in constant contact. Her husband had an affair. Then her next husband did the same. She is living on social security, close to the bone, after marrying with houses and investments. She is now bereft emotionally and financially. She is a wonderful friend to me. We have the same pain. However, we had such fun and wonderful memories. We laugh. Everyone needs to laugh. It reminds us to live and enjoy life. We are fortunate. Sometimes we just need to remember.

I have friends from so many neighborhoods where I had homes. Manhattan, Orlando, Miami, Boulder, Colorado Springs, St. Croix, Gainesville, Salem, Spokane, Nuremburg, Munich, Frankfort, Oberammergau, Ft Knox, Redstone Arsenal, and others that I can only remember vaguely. Incredibly, I still am in touch with friends from almost all of those locations.

Now I have many friends I have never met. They are all on Facebook. According to my profile, I have 176 of them. Amazing. These men and women know of my impending divorce, know I have a cat and recently lost one, know I live in Washington and know I love to write. They know I flew, they know I care. They are my friends.

If these friends were around me on a daily basis, I wonder how much they would still want to be my friend. Am I whiny, controlling, difficult, dumb, or boring? Who knows? The beauty of this group of friends is the instant connection we all know. If I need help, look to Facebook. My friends there will immediately rally. I have seen them come together as a force whenever needed.

I have a wonderful friend nearby. We never see each other. We plan, we swear, we promise, we mean well. It simply does not happen. Like me, she is recovering from an ‘indiscretion’ from her husband, the love of her life. As he has moved on with his mistress, she has had to pick up the pieces of their lives, sell their home, and find a new place to re-start, saying goodbye to so many memories and so much pain. We ‘get’ each other completely. She is about 1 year farther down my road. It helps me to see that. I remember when I learned of her pain. Now I recognize I was not supportive enough. We all just go through the motions of help and support. We do not necessarily tie that to our hearts when we should, as friends. My lesson came later. Gratefully, she has continued to be my friend in spite of my lapse.

This is friendship. We ebb and flow. We understand and forgive. On a daily basis, it might not work so well.

As we each move through our lives, some friends come and some simply stay forever. I am blessed with both. You need some of them for a bit of time. That time finally passes and the friend needs to pass with it. They did their job. You did yours. Time to move. Time to change.

A friend just called. Incredible. We have not spoken in so long. She just asked me to come for the weekend. I am going. What could be better than a weekend with one of your dearest friends?

We have so many and they are so willing to help.

what are you thinking?

I live in Spokane, WA. The US Figure Skating Championships are here, and I am normally in a front row seat. I have followed skating avidly since the mid 80’s. Fortunately, for me, attending championship contests have been constant. If I were not able to be in a great seat, I would watch it on TV, never missing a second.

Last night a very nice friend of mine took me as her guest to the championships. It was wonderful to see again.

However, what I actually experienced was not what I was accustomed to seeing.

I’ve mentioned before that I suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) a couple of years ago. It really has changed my life, my outlook, and my future. Last night I recognized it has also changed my past.

My mom had Alzheimer’s. Horrible disease. She lived in Fla and I lived in Colorado, then Oregon, now Washington. Farther and farther away from her, needing to be with her, hating to see what she was.

I made a decision about my visits with mom: I would meet her wherever she was. Toward the end, she had no clue who I was. I would watch her before I approached, to get a feel for how she ‘was’ at that moment in time. she would look at me, blankly, smile, and ask how I was. that’s mom. the more ill she became the more she morphed back into her ‘hostess’ mode of making others comfortable. because she did this so well, most people had absolutely no clue she was so ill. she managed to fool people for almost 5 years, with this disease eating away at her memories, her being. Now, visiting her in the lock-down ward was always unsettling. I wanted to scream, I’m ALEXA!! I’m your DAUGHTER!!. that would have done no good. she simply did not know me anymore. so, I decided to try to get her to like me, every time I visited with her. she had always helped everyone, everywhere. huge volunteer, all of her life. I decided that whenever I ‘met’ her, I would try to get her to enjoy my company. for an Alzheimer’s patient, that is no small feat. they are angry, frustrated, isolated, and tired of being bossed around. they have no clue who anyone is and they want ‘out’. I would go to her, smile, call her by her name, and beam at her, “HI”. she always responded favorably.

Sometimes, rarely, she would chat, laugh, and almost manage conversation. Alzheimer’s robs people of their ability to use their words. I learned to listen to her cadence and her tone. Amazingly, I usually could converse with her, on her terms. All I wanted was for her to like me. just for that ‘time’.

A brain, robbed of its use is not pretty. People do not act the way we expect them to or the way we are accustomed to them acting. When I injured my brain, my husband had his hands full. I had outbursts, my language went to the gutter, I was angry, crying, unable to do things and unable to figure out why. The doctors had warned us several times but until you live it, you really don’t ‘get it’. When I was going through this with my mom, I was still intact (almost brilliant, or at least really smart, IMHO). I just wanted her to like me. I loved her enough for both of us. I wanted her to like my company. So, we would chat. Sometimes we would hold hands. She had no idea who I was. I was careful not to intrude. I just wanted to be with my mom, or whoever she was at that time.

Sometimes I would visit her and it would go really well. So, I would stay longer than normal. Those rare times were golden and I didn’t want to miss a second of them. We would talk and laugh, her conversations would make little sense, But she liked me. She was happy in my company and I was thrilled to almost see a piece of her, coming through. If anything or anyone interrupted her, she was lost again. Sitting with a stranger. I would start from the beginning. again.

Brains are pretty interesting. she was ‘there’ in pieces. The pieces weren’t necessarily the good ones. My brain was here but not functioning very well. As a result, I was difficult and unable to care for myself.

Now I have the after-effects. my marriage is in shambles, over essentially. My brain has returned as much as it will manage we believe. If I am tired, I cannot form sentences. My spelling ability has completely vanished. I was an English whiz, math whiz, science whiz. Now, I cannot multiply. Sometimes I cannot add, no matter how hard I try. I spoke 4 languages, I seriously struggle with my English today. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I’m mobile, I can drive and run errands and cook and garden. I am just a bit more diminished. That’s life.

Last night I realized I don’t know a damned thing about skating. That was astonishing. My friend had gone with me as my guest years before. she evidently relied on my knowledge to help her understand the competition. It made me remember the first month I was here in Spokane, the championships were here (Skate America, I think) and I took my very best friend to every event all week. She was an athlete but knew absolutely nothing about this sport. So, I explained to keep her appraised. Last night, I could not answer the most basic questions. that was stunning to me. I simply don’t know anything much about this sport I have spent thousands of dollars on for 25 years or so. I’m a newbie.

So, just like my visits with my mom, I decided to just be ‘there’. I decided I don’t need to be in charge, don’t need to know the answers, don’t even need to know the questions. I could just be there, with my dear friend, watching a program of great challenge and superior athletes. I had been here the month I moved to Spokane, and now, 8 years later, as I am making my plans to depart, I was here again, but a different person, in every way.

And it was OK.

curtain up: it’s all in how you act, isn’t it?

we are all so busy. it’s that time of year. holidays bring more and we all react. Re-act. good word. We aren’t quite ourselves if we ‘re-act’ are we? so many expected examples, traditions, and issues.

I have bats living above my bedroom, in a crack in the roofline. I like what bats do. I dislike what people still believe about bats. I was raised to believe that bats would swoop down into my hair if I were walking in a field at dusk. odd. yet, people believed that. I do realize that bats are some of the most voracious insect eaters on the planet. our chemicals are destroying them. they are becoming endangered. like butterflies, which we love, they and bumblebees, which we require, are being destroyed by the chemicals we use in our landscape.

the nights I can’t sleep, I turn toward my bedroom window and hope to watch bats, zipping around, and catching insects. I know that mosquitoes will not be biting the next day. I enjoy watching them swoop, stop on a dime and swoop in a different direction, catching their prey. I find it interesting.

I’m waiting for the moose to amble into my yard. they always come in the winter. I am awed by their size. opposite of  bats, the moose seem to just destroy my landscape because they are enormous and will eat anything they reach. they reach very well. but, because they are moose, they are forgiven being so incredible in size and not so often seen. and, moose are rarely said to dive at your head at dusk.

then I have that damned skunk. she (yes, I know) comes regularly now. when I was still an idiot, I tried to run her off one afternoon. you don’t do that twice. she comes in the evening. she eats fallen birdseed, next to my hedge. she began digging a hole. I put a stop to that. I do not want a den of skunks. they are hard to shed. and, in most states, it’s against the law to kill them. I am not the type to kill animals. I am more interested in trying to shoo them away. I’ve tried most things with this skunk. she scoffs at my efforts. cute, but not welcome. nor is the raccoon.

that’s the point, isn’t it? things we love and things we don’t. some are welcome, some are not.

traditions are welcome. the strife that comes along, not so much. family, always welcome. typical fights, no. trying to make things ‘just so’ because people are visiting: don’t. it’s just too much stress and reaction.

I remember one evening at my folks’ house. we had almost the entire family visiting. 3 brothers, 2 sisters, spouses, 2 nephews, one niece. I walked into the kitchen to put dishes away from the deck. we had just finished an incredible dinner. when I came in, my mom was madly scooping cookie dough onto sheets, ready to slam into the oven. the look on her face as I walked in was almost terror. I’ve never forgotten it. she was scooping about 15 per minute, it seemed. I offered to help. She tersely said “no, and don’t’ you DARE tell anyone I’m making cookies”. I went back outside. I knew the tension. she wanted this to be fun and easy and obviously it was nothing similar. she was frantic.

when she presented the cookies, on adorable trays, napkins ready, she was beaming and would not look at me. it was too much knowledge. she wanted it to ‘happen to be perfect’. I’ve never lost that lesson. it’s ok to just be ‘ok’. it’s fine to just relax and let people gather, laugh and pitch in. you don’t have to do it all.

so I am starting to decorate for Christmas. I learned yesterday that Christmas is a week from now. ooops. I’ve had no clue. my mind is clouded with so many things. I just knew it was ‘sometime’ and thought I might actually decorate. I was planning to put lights out this weekend. well, I’m not doing THAT now. good grief. by the time I get them up, it’s time to take them down. I have lost track. I don’t have time to react. I had also realized this is my last year in this wonderful home and setting. that makes me sad. that made me decide to really do one last Christmas so I wouldn’t regret it later. ohwell. traditions change. I will make Christmas in my next house and be just fine.

so, while I watch the bats, shoo the skunk and wait for the moose, I realize that everything is really ok. I am not going to change the axis of our planet by what I do or don’t. the big wheel keeps on turning.

I have sworn off the stricken look I saw that night in my mother’s eyes. I have sworn off the rush and need of a calendar. I do things because I enjoy them, not because it’s expected. expected by me or expected by others. they are the same. I need to keep specific appointments, medical appointments, and lunch with friends. not much else is really that important. when I begin to work again I’ll keep those appointments as well. otherwise, I am now on ‘alexa time’ and the living is really not so bad.

I have more time to act.

call me anything

I had a great visit with a wonderful woman over the weekend. she is my stepdaughter.

We have been through so much together. When I met her, she was in 2nd grade, now a sophomore in college. the years have been amazing, the changes incredible.

We laughed about her different ‘phases’, the extreme shyness, the necessity of goth, the girly-girl times, the dates and the heartaches. She is slated to be more a friend now than a daughter and I’m fine with any circumstance. I love her dearly.

When we met she was going through the demise of her family unit. Her parents had divorced but in her mind hope was always intact. When her dad and I married, she was not pleased. It was very difficult for both of us. I had worked with children all of my life, as a volunteer in various areas. A single professional woman, I had never married so had no children of my own but really loved kids. I was always the favorite aunt, the neat ‘mom’s best friend’, the fun next-door neighbor to kids but never a mom. I proceeded slowly, getting into her life. Her dad wanted to rush us but I knew better. Still, she was rushed and it hurt her. I was unwelcome. For the first time in my adult life, a child did not want a thing to do with me. I was so surprised,  hurt, and confused. I tried everything,  I thought.

What I finally had to relent to was the unvarnished truth. After a particularly bad visit I was finished. I had no thoughts of trying further. By this time she was a freshman in high school. She had done some unforgivable thing and I was shattered by the memory.

When she came back, I invited her to have a talk. I laid my cards on the table. I loved her. I had worked very hard to love her. It was not something that just happened because I married her dad. It was a conscious decision and I had to be certain it took. I loved her. I would do anything in the world for her. I was so sorry about her parents’ divorce and her upheaval but I had nothing to do with any of it. I was also a child of divorce and knew the pain. I simply married a man I had fallen in love with. A divorced man. And she came along with the package.

I asked her to please tell me 3 or 4 things I had done to cause her pain, to hurt her, to make her angry. I wanted to know so that I could try to improve but I was fatigued with being treated badly and being unwelcome in my own home and life. I did not intend to allow any more ill treatment. She cried. She explained that it was nothing I had done. She said I had always been wonderful to her. She knew I loved her. Then she said it was not me, it was what I represented: that her parents were really over.

What a huge statement for a young girl. What a truth.

We both cried, held each other for the loss each of us had suffered and for the mending we were needing .

After that day, we went into sync. Our relationship began to flourish. We had both learned huge lessons. I believed I had known just what to do with my new kids, to help them like me and then maybe love me. Yet, I could not have really understood their feelings. I wasn’t them, they weren’t me. We all had to navigate this together and mostly, we had to be willing. One person in a relationship cannot maintain without the other being engaged.

She is a young woman and I am an older lady. We have 15 years’ history. We have a relationship that will continue in some version even though we will never again live near each other and even though she is now watching her father move out of my life. She is something of a niece to me now. A friend. A daughter of a friend. My daughter. She is important to my life. She needs no label. Neither do I.

We have love, respect and enough history to understand each other. We have continuity. How lucky is that?

are relationships built on suffering or friendship? does one lead to the other?

This season mostly cars and coyotes have hit the deer hard. as more and more housing is pushed onto former farmland, too many cars are on the road where once a slow country road existed.

I have always enjoyed watching the wildlife in my yard. It’s such a treat to be able to observe so many things and learn from nature.

a few weeks ago a neighbor called me. as we chatted she said, “I’ve seen too many dead bambi’s this year, hit by cars down our hill.” I concurred and we wondered aloud how the mother deer cope when this happens. oddly, you don’t really put our emotions into wildlife. they are animals. they are wild. they don’t talk to us about feelings so I guess we often decide they don’t have feelings, other than physical pain.

this season we had 2 moms with new babies. a young doe who had one bambi and another doe, a year older, who had twins. I’ve written about watching the babies all play and challenge each other in my yard, mom’s letting them get the lessons they will need, but close enough to protect if necessary.

one day, all of us noticed another young bambi, lying beside the road, hit by a car. you can’t help but feel sad. the deer were always here. the builders have put up fences, forcing the deer onto a curved road, on a hill. a recipe for disaster and disaster is met repeatedly.

we wondered to whom the bambi belonged. I learned very quickly that our doe that only had the one baby this year was now alone. that was difficult. what I watched unfold made it worse. the doe who had the twins would not allow this young mother to be around now. whereas they used to all be in the yard together, now the mom with the twins would run the other doe away. I felt so bad for that mom who had just lost her bambi.

putting my emotions into a wild animal. I know better. I admit freely that I have no clue if the mom even remembers her baby was killed. I have no clue.

watching this kept haunting me. finally, I realized I was remembering a mean neighbor from my childhood. she was just plain unpleasant. I told my mom about her and my mom just told me to ignore the woman but to stay out of her yard so she wouldn’t have any reason to complain. all of the kids in the neighborhood knew she was a meanie. we talked about her as we passed her house, some of the boys were taunting, showing they were brave.

we heard that she was pregnant. Well, that seemed weird. she hated kids; why would she want to  be a mother? this turn of events completely stymied our innocence. a few months later I overheard my mom talking to another neighbor. they were planning to take some food over to this ladies’ house. that night my mom explained that the woman had miscarried. I really didn’t comprehend that, I was in 5th grade. my mom explained that the neighbor wasn’t pregnant anymore and that actually her baby had died. then she told me more: this was the 4th time this same lady had lost a baby. my mom told me that several of our neighbors kept their distance from this woman over the years and that bothered my mother. she explained that sometimes when someone in your life has severe heartache, people pull away. almost as if you can ‘catch’ that heartache if you get too close.

everyone felt sorry for her but I was still angry over the way she had treated me and my friends for over a year. why would she want kids if she was mean to all of them?

my mom became a friend to this neighbor. she told me later to always try to look inside people more, to understand why they act the way that they do. she told me that I would probably find a really good reason and it was probably something to do with personal pain.

the neighborhood rallied to this neighbors side. they took turns bringing food because she was still in bed. it turned out that she would not have the opportunity ever again to have a baby. everyone felt sad about her pain. everyone did things to try to comfort her and her husband. when she finally began to venture out, the neighborhood went out of their way to encourage her. through such severe pain she gained friendships and support she had missed before. my mom said people were feeling guilty, trying to make up for their attitudes toward this lady for so many years. sometimes pain brings people closer, even though that pain is what pushed them away in the first place.

I thought about her over the years, wondering how her life turned out. again, I was a kid, still learning that not everyone has a baby just because they plan.

yesterday I saw the doe. as I watched, I saw one bambi. I went onto my deck, looking for the other. they can hide so easily. then I saw another deer. I still saw no bambi. just the one, missing the twin. that was when I realized that we had lost another bambi. I’d been hearing lots of coyotes the last couple of nights. this disturbed me so much that I stayed on my deck for about 15 mins but the twin never showed.

today I saw the doe again, with the lone bambi. I saw the other doe too. I watched because she had not been allowed in the yard since she lost her baby. now I had 3 deer, one a baby and 2 adults. as I watched, both of the mothers began to walk toward the bambi. I knew someone was in for it. then, together, the two older deer began to wash and groom the little ‘left-over’ bambi. both of them. I was astonished. somehow there was no longer animosity between these two mothers. I continued to watch, mesmerized. then, the bambi began to lick the mom, then the ‘other mom’. it was beautiful. the three survivors. I no longer knew which mom was which.

maybe the mom who had the twins had been threatened by the mom whose baby was lost. I don’t have any way of  knowing. you can’t put human emotions onto wildlife. I just know that today, the two moms who had lost a child each were able to co-exist again.  I guess it was their way of bringing food over to the house, offering comfort and support.

sometimes it takes true pain to give birth to friendship. sometimes you feel it’s ok to allow someone in if they have suffered in a way you can understand. of course, you can’t give human feelings to wildlife.

knowing

I wrote once about my cat, Addie. she has always been fearful of strangers and more of men than women.  many visitors to my home have never seen addie. she’s a ‘stealth’ cat.

once, my dear aunt dot came to visit me. addie jumped up in her lap, napping along with my aunt, after her long  journey from florida to colorado. when my aunt awakened, she came into  my office and mentioned the black and white cat sleeping with her. I carefully corrected her because naturally addie doesn’t get on ANY lap except mine. I explained to my aunt that it was Throttle, the large white blue-eyed cat.

my aunt, just as carefully, explained to me that the black and white cat, with green eyes had been on her chest while she slept and was still there when she woke from her nap. she was right. addie accepted her the day she arrived. my aunt spent 3 weeks with me. she had recently lost her husband and was grieving. while she was there, addie was never far from her. she was just ‘taken’ with my aunt. it was charming and cute. it made me realize that addie had finally seen someone she knew she needn’t fear. she spent quiet times with my aunt, while I was working.

people have suggested I have a ‘way with animals’. I believe that’s true. for some odd reason, most pets take to me. the better part of this is that I am quite often able to be accepted by wildlife. that stuns me but I appreciate it.

I fed a hummingbird this year, from my hand. I loved that. last year birds began taking seed from my hand.  I’m not suggesting that the wildlife and I are making dresses, ‘a la cinderella or sleeping beauty, but I manage to get pretty close to lots of critters. I do love animals. I wonder if they recognize that like my aunt dot, I am harmless and can be trusted.

sometimes I sit with an injured bird, trying to encourage it to fly. I know it sounds nuts. I know that. but, when that little bird finally flies again, I feel great. and feeling great is never a bad thing.

I had company recently. two wonderful new friends came to spokane.  they had not visited me before, nor had they been to spokane so it was a busy time.  they are both so gentle of nature. nice people.

addie was totally comfortable with them here. she knew my husband for 12 years and was still ‘deciding’ how she felt. these two waltzed in and she just went about her life. they have no idea what a huge thing this is. nobody sees this cat. but, during their brief visit, she ate, she came into rooms with us. it was nothing short of amazing.

sometimes we need to trust. fortunately, many of us learn just how easily we can manage that. it makes the world better. it makes us all better. perception is everything.

a horse is a horse

I am lucky enough to live where animals are still free. wild animals. the other day we got a report that a cougar was spotted not far from here. when we moved here, I was warned to be careful. so far I’ve had to be careful of horses, racoons, moose, deer, coyotes and a hundred or so bird varieties. I’ve also had to be careful of a few people who would mean me harm.

I haven’t been scared, yet.

but, I still find it interesting to watch the horses down the hill.

not long ago I saw that someone had put a huge earthmover into the pasture. it was big. true to form, the 2 horses were standing by the earthmover, plunked into their territory. you could almost envision the foreman leaning on his shovel, watching workers in the ditch. but, these two horses were curious. they always seem to be curious. they were by the big machine and just giving it a long  ‘once-over’.

I ran some errands. when I was driving back home, I glanced over again. this time the horses had moved, together, to the other side of the big machine. again, they were looking over the thing that had invaded their territory. you had the impression they were discussing the thing, wondering why it was in ‘their house’ and what it was for and how long it would stay.

I am always taken by the ‘herd’ instinct horses have. I don’t think it’s only safety in numbers. I think it’s friendship. horses just seem to be pals with most other horses. I have seen one horse that didn’t like another. the one horse bit the other. they didn’t get along. but, for the most part they seem to want to be together. just like they want to come to the fence to see who has stopped for a visit or to bring a snack. I’ve noticed that when one sleeps, the other stands guard. they know they have safety in numbers.

I live in the country so am able to observe. I also recognize the value of my friends and neighbors. they have become my herd.

I rarely call on anyone for help but I know several of them I can. out here, we have safety in numbers. we all watch for people we don’t know. we call one another when someone comes in or intrudes in our privacy or safety. intrusion is only welcome when we feel safe and in control. there are some people we know better than to trust. like the horses, we won’t go over to the fence when those particular people are near.

once, there was a huge fire, causing mass evacuations. one of my neighbors called me, saying they were packing. I went next door, to a new neighbor, telling her I was leaving. another neighbor was away, calling me to learn how our houses were doing. we all knew we could do very little to stop the progression of the flames. we also knew we could rely on each other to try to maintain our individual safety.

when I returned home the next day, all was well. the horses had been moved but were already back. they seemed to fall right into routine. my neighbors were mostly home. we all got into our routines. that fire was like a huge uninvited guest and we just had to make the best of it.

like the horses, we look at everything new in our world, trying to figure out how long it will be there. we look things over and then return to our routines.

I think it makes us feel safe.