Actions Speak Louder than Words

The young woman of 27 can’t sit in silence. She’s watching her aging loved ones as they begin on their journey to the next life. Action is all she knows.  Sitting and watching doesn’t suit her.  Her heart wants to make everything better but this is not something that will get better, or will it?

There is a blessing in caring for a person who’s spirit is ready to move on.  As the young woman delegates herself as caregiver, she is determined to give her loved ones every ounce of living that can be accomplished before they pass.  She couldn’t allow her grandmother to just waste away and give up even though they both knew what was coming.  Her grandmother was as strong as they come so she was a willing adventurer.  The young woman wanted a special girl’s day out so she made arrangements  ahead of time with the nail salon.  They greeted her at the door and made room for her wheelchair.  They treated her like a queen.  On the way to the salon, the young girl and her grandmother drove the country roads through the mountains and listened to country music as the grandmother tried to sing along with a smile on her face.  Although her body was tired she was not quite ready to ascend from it.  It was a day full of treasures for both women.  As each day passed, there were new challenges, but little gems were being passed from one generation to the next on those special days.  Every day became special because every moment counted.  The time spent together for these two souls will be forever ingrained  in the heart of the young woman.  Taking after her grandmother, the young woman forged ahead with strength and courage, determined to give this elder all that she had in her.  And, so, she did.  She gave her a beautiful send off, full of love and light.  A family came together for this special moment in time to celebrate the life of  their loved one.  Once again, although she had left this earthly home, the grandmother brought joy and love to her family as they spent several days together, sharing and laughing and enjoying each other.

Several weeks went by after the passing of her grandmother and she tried to get back into some semblance of a routine in her life.  But life doesn’t wait for a person to be ready for the next thing.  The 27 year old woman was informed that her grandfather was in hospice and did not have much longer to live.  All of the recent memories of caring for her grandmother came barrelling back into her heart.  She felt as though she was shot in the heart with an arrow and was ready to just bleed out.  All the pain, sorrow and grief poured out of her.  She didn’t see it coming and wasn’t sure what to do next.  The grieving for her grandmother had just begun and now she would have to face another devastating loss.  But, action is all she knows.  As the grief washed over her, she waited.  She waited for the correct path to lay itself before her.  She decided to sleep and when she awoke, clarity had shown itself.  The young woman made her way to the airport that day and within 24 hours was at the bedside of her grandfather.  After being the caregiver for her grandmother, she absorbed so much knowledge about the needs of a soul trying to pass.  When she layed eyes on her grandfather, it was apparent to her that his medications were not what she considered to be in the right balance of each other.  She had to at least share her concerns with his caregivers.  If nothing else, she had to fight for his life.  Her observances were acknowledged and the next day he asked for a cup of coffee and a newspaper.

This 27 year old woman, young in years but wise beyond, is an action taker.  You will never see her sit on the sidelines of life.  I sat with her, watching her grief just pour out in dignified tears.  At that moment she was having the realization of just how fragile life is and how we are all aging.  She had a glimpse of the need to take care of our elders.  She wanted to shout to all of her elders how much she loved them and how much she valued their words and contributions to her life.

I sat there as she sobbed into my mother’s bosom.  I sat quietly and observed this woman who is my baby girl.  I am a proud mother and so grateful to have a child with such heart and soul and caring running through her veins.

Never Say Never

I believe that in life if you don’t get the lesson the first time, you get to do it over and over again until you get it right.  I never realized how true that was until it really hit me in the face.

I have evolved ,over the years, into a completely different person.  I am but a shadow of my former self and that is very good news.  Not that I was a bad person, but I was a very hurt and broken person.  My daily decisions were all based in fear, anger and low self-esteem.  I was broken by the sudden loss of my father when I was 17.  It was sudden, completely unexpected, especially for a man of 48 years old.  He had been out of work for a solid year and finally got a new job.  He was a truck driver.  On his very first day of work, he was excited to be able to get financially stable once again.  On that very day, he never came home again.  He died of a heart attack while unloading that truck.

My world changed and I went into a tailspin of deep depression.  My life choices were made out of fear of being alone; out of fear of losing another; out of fear of not having someone to take care of me.  I got married at the age of 18.  I was so naive, just a child actually.  I was scratching my way through the muck of life with no direction.  I had two sons from that marriage that ended in divorce after nine years.  I was low-spirited for that period of my life.  My children didn’t know that.  They just needed me to be a Mom and I gave it my best with what I had to work with.  At that point in time, I had not evolved into anything but a sorrowful, depressed young woman and unfortunately that is what I gave to my boys.  I remarried and had a daughter with my second husband.  I felt that  was my chance to start over and use previous experiences to grow and to raise my children.  It was all so fresh and new.  But, I still carried the sadness and fear and depression with me.  Since that was what I had, that is what I once again given to my children.  Don’t get me wrong, I was the best mother that I could be.  My children were well cared for and loved but I wasn’t able to give them the best version of me because I hadn’t met her yet.

I raised my kids and felt that I was mothering them pretty well.  The struggles of raising kids never ends.  You’re always trying to teach them lessons and show them the way.  I made so many mistakes along the way.  I was rigid and expected them to grow with the rules that I grew up with.  I was unrelenting in my high expectations of children that were so young.  I look back now and wonder to myself, “What was I thinking?”.   I was so involved in the “rules” that I couldn’t see that I wasn’t allowing for the fact that they were children and so they should be able to act like children.

I have always been a searcher, meaning that I was a soul-searcher.  As I grew, I learned more and more to allow my spirituality to help me raise my children.  But, that took a long time and my kids were getting older and turning into teenagers and young adults.  I have to say that my children are 5 years apart.  I was one person when I had my first child at the age of 20 and a completely different person when I had my second child at the age of 25 and then again changed when I had my third child at the age of 30.  I was evolving at a slow rate.  I was finding that problems were getting bigger with my kids and I was not equipped to handle them.  I was still allowing fear, sadness and anger to guide my life.  Looking back now and seeing the mistakes I made just makes me cringe with sadness.

Now at the age of 57, it all seems so clear as does most things when looking in the rearview mirror.

My second marriage ended in divorce after 15 years.  I moved on to a new relationship and at that point, my daughter was 14.  The boys were adults then and I had grandchildren.  Still, at that point, I was not seeing the true needs of my daughter.  Again, she was well cared for but I was overlooking the most important things.  I was missing what her feelings were and what she was going through.  I was on a new journey and she was along for the ride.

While all this was going on, I eventually had a nervous breakdown and was forced into therapy.  I thought it was the worst day of my life but it turned out to be the best day.  I gave in and sought therapy and healed through hard work, blood, sweat and tears.  I finally healed from the loss of my father.  His death was 33 years before this.  So much healing took place with that year of therapy.  I learned how to communicate with my daughter and I learned how to stand up for myself and look at the world with more loving eyes as the sadness began to roll away. I allowed myself to be accountable for all the mistakes I made while raising my children.  I spoke with each one individually and acknowledge my mistakes and asked them to share with me the things that I had done that hurt them so much.  I apologized to each of them.  I learned so much about myself at that point in my life.

My evolution at that point was monumental but I had another surprise in store for me that I didn’t see coming.  My boyfriend has a daughter that is 8 years younger than my daughter.  All this time she lived with her mother until her mother’s circumstances changed and his daughter came to live with us at the young age of 14.  Wow, I thought I could handle taking care of a 14 year old.  I had done it 3 times and now had grandchildren; a lot of experience under my belt.  Once again, my eyes were opened.  This child was different, I was different.  The “rules” that I had raised my children with weren’t working.  I suddenly became that same old rigid mother type again.  What was I thinking?

I guess I didn’t get the full lesson after raising three children and grandchildren so, I got to do it again.  My step-daughter and I went on a journey together.  We learned together what worked and what didn’t work.  I learned to not be so rigid and to acknowledge when I was being unreasonable and apologize.  She began to respond positively and we grew a bond with each other.  Today, as she is now 19 years old, we live in a very peaceful environment.  We work together to achieve peace in the house.  We have compromised with each other about our daily habits and life is good.

I remember saying very adamantly, “I’m never going to raise anyone else’s kids.”  I so forcefully put that out into the universe and the universe heard me and responded with another chance to get the lesson.

Never say never!

 

Color Me Red

I saw a picture of a girl sitting on a couch laughing. She had red hair and wore a white dress. She was bobbing her head around and frolicking hysterically as she chuckled such a happy giggle. Who is that girl I wondered.

I’m looking at a little girl with a sad expression on her face. She cries very often and doesn’t talk too much. Even when she does talk it’s a quiet whisper. Her tears come more often than her sweet grin. I asked her what her name was and she shyly whispered “Mona”. I sat with her for a while and tried to strike up a conversation but her apprehension was so great that she just put her head down and searched for something to look at other than me. Mona, I asked, why are you so sad? “I don’t know” she replied. It was difficult to pry any information out of her. “Well Mona, I’ve been told that you cry very easily and I’m sure there must be a reason. Can you tell me what upsets you so?” Mona sat quietly in the room with me. There were toys for her to play with but she had no interest in any of them. She was very fidgety because she didn’t want to engage in this conversation. Mona looked at me out of the corner of her eye and said “my brother makes me cry”. “He’s mean to me”. I began to ask her questions about the things that her brother did that were mean. “He points at me and tells me scary stories and he laughs at me”, said Mona. “Well Mona I knew there had to be a reason that you were sad. I would be sad too if someone laughed at me and made fun of me. What kind of stories does he tell you that are so scary?” Mona sat up and looked at me very intently now and said “he said that I used to have a sister named Mona and she cried all the time and they drowned her in peanut butter and they buried her under the apple tree in our backyard.” I looked at poor Mona and realized that her brother was tormenting her but he did it in a way that nobody else could see. He would place his elbows in a certain way at the dinner table so that they were pointing in her direction and he would whisper “Mona, I’m pointing at you.” This was a terrible torment especially because it was secret and everybody in the family couldn’t understand why Mona was such a cry baby. At such a young age she felt like a victim that no one else could understand and they couldn’t because they didn’t see clearly what her brother was doing. Her family chalked it up to the fact that Mona was just a very sensitive child. But nobody liked a cry baby.

I see a young woman who is married and has a small child. She works full time so her son has to go to daycare. Her husband works full time too but he is very withdrawn all the time. He works more than the average 40 hours a week. For some reason he’s working 50 or 60 hours a week. Even when her husband is home he is never present. He sleeps a lot and is cranky most of the time. He doesn’t like to smile ever. This woman is very lonely in her marriage and so she shares all her time with her little boy and he becomes a companion of sorts. She takes him to the orchards and to the park. They go to the movies together and Mother and Son are very happy. But the loneliness just fills her inside. She can’t share her feelings or emotions with her husband because he won’t tolerate it so she just let’s it build up inside without a whisper to anyone, another lonely hearted soul. Eventually she and her husband have a second son and shortly thereafter they face divorce. A woman can only stand being alone for so long. The sadness and fear and anger keep building like lava heating up up underneath the mountain. Soon the volcano will burst and what will be left in the ashes no one can know.

Independence is a funny thing. We are not always born with it or maybe we are but we learn very early on to contain it. We must always contain any thoughts or emotions because nobody likes a cry baby. There are times when independence is forced upon us because we cannot count on anyone else. We have to figure things out for ourselves because there isn’t any rescue waiting for us. We are lonely beings just waiting for someone or something to come along and pick up our broken pieces and put us back together. A person can get pushed into it if they want any chance at survival. Self reliance can pop up in our path because we have no other choice.

A woman in her mid thirties walks by me. She’s a little heavy set with brown hair and stands about 5 feet 2 inches. She’s got her little girl with her and they are getting ready to enter the dance studio. The woman seems pretty happy with a smile on her face as she greets the dance teacher. Her daughter is a very confident, talkative little girl. Everyone at the studio knows her. She is quite the social butterfly. The mother sits in the waiting area with the other mothers while their children have their dance lesson and they chat about Mom stuff. I noticed that she comes by here every week with her daughter and now she is able to drop her off and pick her up after her lesson. I’ve never seen her Father come by. A few years later I saw the same woman with her daughter who was of course starting to grow up. They were at the ice cream stand in our town with the daughter’s softball team. Everyone was all smiles and the parents were friends. The kids hung out with the kids and the parents hung out with the parents. I guess when your kids are in activities that becomes your social life. I didn’t notice her Father there either.

I just met this woman at my weight management group. She’s really nice and so caring. She makes me feel comfortable sharing my weight loss journey. It’s very difficult to speak about what caused a person to become heavy. It’s like a therapy session and people share their souls with the group. I like this woman. Her confidence and humor make our meetings so much fun.

As time has gone by I too have changed. I’ve grown older, wiser, more confident and willing to socialize with everyone. My life is good and I’m finally happy. As the years have moved forward I’ve been able to grow my spiritual foundation and at the same time not take life too seriously. I know how to have fun now. I can laugh and dance and sing and find humor in most things now. It’s funny how life can change. As you grow older you get new friends, keep some old ones and socialize with different groups of people. I’m looking in the mirror now and wondering if this dress flatters my thinning figure. I’ve dyed my hair red because I love switching things up now and again. I have to laugh at how men respond to red heads. It’s astonishing how boyish they become with their flirting even as an older adult.