Posts Tagged ‘on death and dying’

Threw Momma from the train

My parents loved to travel. They handled their finances so well that they retired early, to enjoy their lives together and explore the country.

When I was flying, they had the ability to use my airline passes and they did. Nevertheless, they loved taking the train.

Often they would take Amtrak from Florida, through Chicago, to Colorado to see me, then onto California. They had no particular schedule. When they arrived in Denver, they always had stories from their trip, people they had met. Dad was super shy, mom was extremely outgoing. They had a blast.

I was following their trip once because this time they were coming to see me on the way home as opposed to on the front end of their trip. They had wanted to take a different route, see more countryside, and visit the Grand Canyon.

The phone rang in the middle of the night. When I answered, the connection was poor and it took me a second to realize it was my mom. She was upset. I was instantly alert. Their train had gone off the tracks in Arizona. As it jumped the track, it fell over sideways and down a ravine. After she and my dad had helped everyone they could, they began the climb up the steep slope. A young man was kind enough to let my mom use his cell phone. The connection was poor but I was at least able to learn they were not part of the group going to stay overnight in the hospital. She was so shaken. She kept saying, “We’re too old for this, Alexa, the train ran right off the tracks and down a big hill.” I realized she was in shock. Well, I was in shock. I asked what she knew about how I could find her after she got away from the wreckage. She told me that firefighters and medical people were the only ones around and she just had no idea but needed to return the phone and would call me again. She was gone. An hour later, I made coffee because sleep was out of the question. I began looking around, online and finally saw some information about the accident. My parents were there! This was so frightening.

I heard nothing for 12 hours. I was trying not to be totally frantic. I probably cancelled my business day to wait by the phone. I do not remember much about that day. She finally called again to say they had been put on a bus, taken somewhere I cannot remember, then put on a train and would be in Denver in 6 more hours. Ok. I organized myself and headed to the Mile High City to hug my parents. They had come for my birthday.

Our visit was filled with ‘what if’ and ‘thank goodness’ types of conversations. I really have little memory of that visit. We were all tired, they were so sore all over their bodies and bearing in mind that they were 70 years old, it was too much to absorb.

Being of sturdy stock, they continued their trip back to Florida on Amtrak.

My mom passed away when she was 77. Alzheimer’s had really made a mess of who she had been. My dad lasted longer than anyone expected, such a love shared and such a huge loss.

I am living in Washington State now and during a workout, I injured my leg somehow. After being misdiagnosed with a muscle injury, the MRI showed my extruded disc and broken tailbone. Well, no WONDER it hurt to walk and try to work out. I started physical therapy.

I became a regular at the clinic, everyone trying to recover from various issues smiling and saying hello. One day I arrived 20 minutes early so settled with a book in the waiting room. I was chatting with a woman and her husband, until her appointment and he left. A biker walked in. This guy was big. He was wearing his HOG jacket and lots of chain type things. His face was weathered; he appeared to be around 70. We struck up a conversation. He was wearing a doo wrap, bandana of the US flag.

I asked what he had done to end up in a place like this. He reached down, pulled his jean leg up to reveal a prosthetic leg. When he walked in, I just assumed he bent a little because of a back injury or something. I waddled for 3 years after my 3 discs broke.

I asked him how he lost his leg. He said he was an engineer. An Amtrak engineer. He derailed years ago into a creek bed in Arizona. He lost his leg under some wreckage. Tears were immediate. I asked what year. What time. The answers were already familiar. I told him my parents had been on that train. We had to hug. He apologized for my parents’ bad luck and asked about them. I told him other than shock, they had been fine, just sore. I told him my mom had passed 2 years earlier.

He told me that he does not live in Spokane but was having pain from his bike and called his doctor for referral to a specialist in the area. Incredible.

We just stared at each other, holding hands. It was odd but it was right. Then he was the one who said it. “How likely is it that I am in a city 100 miles away from my home, in a rehab clinic because of my accident, you are here, you actually ASK about me, and your parents were with me during the accident?” I had to say, “I don’t believe for a second that this is an accident.”

What a full circle moment. I asked about the derailment. Someone had sabotaged the track and a section was missing. I had not known these details, so grateful just to have my family intact physically. It was a dangerous place to jump track. He was so grateful to know my parents were not badly hurt. The derailment happened at 130 in the morning. Total darkness. It was miraculous that so many survived.

I went into my rehab appointment. When I came out, he was gone. I got into my car, started crying, and called my brother. What a story I had to share.

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.

missing you

It is that time again and I am already deep in denial and dread. I go through this every year. I have always been great about occasions even though we hear complaints that occasions are really drummed up by ‘card companies’, like American Greetings or Hallmark. Now the advertising wheel is enormous and you become drenched with every possible occasion.

When I look at my calendar, I am surprised at all of the pre-marked dates. Secretary’s day, bosses day, grandparent’s day, teacher appreciation day. The greeting card areas are enormous now. Its nuts really but we bought right into it and now it is just a way of life.

I have tried very hard to tune all of this out. I always try. It never helps.

As a result, I really am in a fog about the date. I don’t pay much attention. Today I had an appointment that I truthfully knew nothing about. I’m under the weather but missing an appointment instead of cancelling is unheard of in my world. I will start paying attention next week. I will get back into a cycle and life will be so much better. I just need to get past the weekend.

I always miss her the most on Mother’s Day.

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.

can you change the ending?

A friend of mine is not in great health; his time is short.

I have lost so many people in my life and my family. You begin something of a routine. It becomes necessary to continue in your daily life while you monitor the person who is leaving theirs. Routines help us cope. Knowing the ending is difficult but you still must keep moving forward, toward that difficulty.

It’s almost like a movie you love, but cry when you watch. You enjoy the good parts yet you know the worst is to come and regardless of many repeats, you will still cry. You love that movie.

Family and friends gather in a hospital. It is a kindness for them to come to a grim place like this. They want to pay their respects to the family and the friend. It is true respect. That respect carries through a funeral service. You do not attend a funeral for the person who is gone. You attend for the family to see how valued their beloved member was in life. It is respect.

When my mom passed away, I was determined to have a gathering of the fun and joy she created. Several people were kind enough to relate their stories of time spent with her, laughing or being amazed. Everyone in the chapel laughed, even though many of us had to give into our tears. My mom was always laughing. We said good-by in style and I know she enjoyed watching.

Because of my mom’s service, I do my best to attend those for my friends. I go because the family deserves to feel their loved one touched many lives. Respect.

I was talking to a friend today about respect. Specifically we were sharing the importance of being certain our next generation of women learns respect. So many lives change due to a lack of respect. Naturally, you cannot respect others until you respect yourself. Young women are especially in need. Our society still operates on ages-old routines. Many continue to make young girls obsolete in favor of young boys. Women will always be necessary because we give birth. However, young girls have consistently been pushed to the back. If these young girls do not learn their importance while they are children, they will have a more difficult time standing firmly for themselves as adults.

Our school systems believed that young women could not really grasp math and science. Astonishing. My father did not think a girl needed college. He pushed my 3 brothers to attend, even though none of them did well in high school. For me, it was not an option. He decided I would just find a husband. This idea is still alive and well in many families even though women are now more than half of the workforce.

Once a young woman values herself, she begins to expect equality in her life. Men do it so easily but women have to be taught by parents, teachers, and relatives. We need to change this. Once done, I believe many teen pregnancies will be avoided. When a young girl realizes she has more in life than to ‘catch a boy’, her options open fully. Once open, they rarely close. This has nothing to do with being pushy. It has everything to do with pushing yourself. Respect.

Being strong and respecting yourself means there is no sign of weakness to tears. Crying when your soul aches is a sign of love felt. You can only be as happy as you have allowed yourself to be sad. The valleys and peaks must balance. That is respect you owe yourself in life.

I wish for women. I hope for humanity. I pray for leaders who will make rules. I do not know how this will end. Movies and books cannot tell me. I have to play it out to the end. Nothing can foretell this.

How much do I wish I really knew? I wish I knew. Sometimes knowing the end isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

here’s to good health!

Don’t you hate it when your child is sick? They whine and complain, they ‘hurt’ but cannot explain exactly where or how, they cry, wanting more ‘mom’ time but refuse to do as you plead with them to do. They cannot understand the meds they dislike. They don’t want to be ordered about. They are not quite honest about what is at stake and how they really are dealing with the day-to-day.

You want to scream. You want to run away. You want them to grow up or let you parent. Either side would work better than what you have in the here and now.

I just visited such a household. It was difficult. Who raised this jerk? I’m sorry. I know he cannot help it. I know his mom is almost ashamed, as is the sister who had to take on the task of raising this child. However, if he will not admit something is wrong when the TV show comes on, he should not be allowed to suddenly be at death’s door when it’s time to help with the dishes or the laundry. You cannot have it both ways. Neither can a sick kid, but that’s just my opinion.

What I know is I spent a horribly frustrating time with family, some overindulgent and some just plain angry and frustrated with the attention needed by one member being under the weather. What is the solution?

The obvious one is that you wait until the illness is past. That always helps. Everyone can relax. But, what if your child is brain-injured? That child will never really ‘recover’ from this illness. Those parents don’t get the opportunity to ‘wait it out’. They live this 24×7, and have no outlet unless they are fortunate enough to have a huge support group. A huge support group. Huge.

I am seeing commercials about health care. Morgan Freeman is a spokesperson for ‘something’. I get the message. We need to help each other more often than we do. I understand that volunteers are needed. I know we should be doing more for our own. What I do not have the answer to is: how?

How does the normal family get the much-needed help when someone in their household is not going to improve but takes a majority of your time and energy? We are all so busy now. We have so many needs to fulfill.

I came home a crying fool. Afraid I had not done enough for my family unit. Sleep-deprived, angry, upset, scared. What I left behind is the mom who still has to deal with this while I fly away. I did laundry, cooked meals, cleaned the house, made beds, pushed meds on a kid who refused to take them, ran errands, and did medical appointments so that she could finally get a break. It completely wore me out. I am spent. Finally, home, I have no energy left. I have a full week ahead of me and don’t know how I’ll manage it. Tomorrow she starts with more doctor appointments, meal prep, housework, and laundry. Taking the medicine we need is not easy. He needs medicine. She needs rest, medicine, and they both refuse it because they are not capable. He needs to be fed and clothed, not simple. He wants things his way; she wants him to wear his underwear UNDER his clothes, not on top. She wants him to eat and is exhausted with the work that entails. He will not drink his juice, wants specific foods and because he is not well, she wants to provide but is close to illness herself as a result.

When I left, we all cried. I promised to come back soon. I always make that fruitless promise. I cannot afford to keep flying there but these people are so important to me. My family is so scattered. Travel is expensive and of course. I have to pay someone to care for my pet, my home, my routine, in my absence. Money. Medical. Misery. What in the world is happening in our lives? Who should be taking care of this, of us, of lives in illness when something has prevented us from having family members to do it? Moreover, with those family members, where do you draw the line? They cannot do everything. We cannot expect anyone to do anything. What is the solution?

Forgive my soapbox here, but why is our country continually working on a new health care program instead of making the program that our elected officials have, the national norm? Shouldn’t everyone have the same option at the same price? It certainly makes sense to me.

So, my stepmother will continue. I know she is exhausted. And the recalcitrant sick boy is my father. How does something like this happen? Until we find solutions for our family members whose mind has eroded, we are all sick.

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.

get a grip! no gripes.

horrible week. cannot imagine one worse yet I know another is bound to appear.

4 of my dearest friends have experienced huge loss of life. what is worse than that? before that, I was feeling very bereft, left, alone, frightened and sad. now, i recognize again that everyone has ‘something’. as my best friend said today, “you don’t have to look very far to see someone in a horrible position.”. she is so right.

3 of my best friends lost their pets in less than a week. one, is losing her husband. good heavens. I’m upset over my husband’s “stuff” and my pride and my money and divorce.  I need to get a grip.

I always say, ‘everyone has something’. when you are in the midst of it, you don’t remember that. just look around your own corner. someone is dying emotionally, spiritually or physically. someone is. I promise.

I have been helping a woman through her chemo. talk about a rude awakening. this is serious stuff. naturally, I keep my stupid stuff to myself.

so many of my friends and family are coping. we just didn’t dream things could become this grim. amazingly, spring will make all of us feel a little better. we will probably be missing someone but we will see more sunlight, watch new flowers bloom and realize that our world will trudge onward.

the most amazing part of this to me is the few people who still don’t ‘get it’. the ones who are completely caught up in their own drama, their own pain, not even seeing everything around them. that is heartache. name calling, bullying, pointing out faults, yelling, screaming, to no avail. we only diminish ourselves. I have been as guilty as the next. I keep trying though. I really do try. knowing that, I cannot discount that others are probably trying as well. we just see things at different times.

let’s pull together. please. let’s just row this boat in the very same direction. our time here is short. shorter than anyone knows. some of us feel we’ve been here, done this. possibly so. doesn’t matter. everyone is struggling with the very same issues and problems. we all deserve a break. we all deserve love. we all deserve a chance to improve.

I’m trying to improve. hard to imagine I could be better, but I’m gonna try!

are you worried or scared?

I am often afraid. I fear so many things that haven’t happened. I fear things that ‘could’ happen. the relationship between the first and the second are huge.  there is the possibility that nothing bad could happen at all. irrational fears.

I am afraid of spiders. I don’t know why. many are so tiny. I try to help them. I know they are afraid of me. then, the bigger ones: ok, I’m frightened to pieces. no clue as to why. I think I am afraid of things that ‘scurry’:  mice, rats, big bugs (roaches), spiders, and the like. again, they have never bitten me. I am just uncomfortable. afraid.

but why am I afraid of people? not many people, but certain people doing certain things. why should I fear them?

I am pretty fearless generally. it is not the person I fear, but what that person represents (as my stepdaughter taught me) me (CALL ME ANYTHING). I fear what I cannot predict. how many of us don’t?

of late, I am afraid of my future. I fear being without funding. I have only been that way once in my adult life and I managed by working 7 jobs a week. I was also 38. huge difference. now, I find myself without income and I feel old and withered, fretting about my financial future.

how different from a spider or a rat or mouse is this fear?

I know a wonderful woman. she is frightened to pieces of fire. I will hope to understand that fear before I leave her company. she consistently cuts trees, thinking this will prevent her family from burning. during the time I have known her, she has given way to both of her children leaving the nest, moving onward with their lives. she still fears that fire. she has more than one home. she is constantly cutting trees to prevent the danger of a dwelling being lost to fire. we all watch and feel for her dread. no one person will be able to put that to rest. only her. only this woman can prevent herself from the slashing of trees and shrubs, homes to so much wildlife, because she fears fire.

I’ve known her 10 years. I have yet to learn what was killed, or  lost  in a fire, in her life. I gather she lost something or someone precious. but, maybe it’s an irrational fear.

I fear sharks in the ocean.

I was raised in the ocean. my brother and family swam in the Atlantic and the Gulf for years. at times, our mother would call out to us: “sharks! , be still.  now, come slowly to me.” we learned that sharks were a danger. we were afraid but not terrified. when I saw the movie “JAWS”, I became very frightened. that was different. now, I’m afraid. now I’m frightened. now, I can be terrified.

but that’s me.

don’t we all have something? everyone is afraid of something. we all have our terrors. our worries. it doesn’t matter if they are things or stories or memories. they still frighten us sufficiently. we are afraid.

how interesting that so many of us decide that what one person fears is silly, yet inside we fear something. isn’t it time that we all recognize that everyone has fears and no fear of one person is any less than the fear we carry? personally, I think it’s past time.

it’s STUFF. we all have it. nobody is exempt. without fears, terrorism could not exist.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but when I get on an airplane, I kiss myself goodby. I say my prayer to my guardians, my family, my loved ones and I put myself into the hands of ‘everlasting hope’. whatever happens after that is whatever happens. I have warned my family that if I were to perish in a plane crash then I was meant to, I decided to, I chose to. because, as a crew member, if I did not get out of a plane, there was a very good reason. I decided I needed to help someone else, I decided my life was over, I decided. yep. I decided.

so, what is your fear? do you acknowledge it? do you try to pretend it doesn’t exist? we all have it. no one person is exempt, no matter their posturing. everyone has fear.

overcoming that fear is a huge step forward.

my fear of sharks dissolved several years ago (that’s another blog). my fear of being left is dissolving now. (I’ll manage) my fear of spiders is a work in progress but I’m gaining on it considerably. i still dont’ like roaches but I realize now how long they have survived and try to acknowledge that as I do my best to kill them, standing as far away as possible. roaches are scary.

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.