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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

My grandma Helen at age 17 (left) with her friend (and later sister-in-law) my great aunt Amy Ruth (who made an excellent chocolate gravy).

I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately.  This week, my family will be having Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house.  Except, my grandmother won’t be there.   Instead, my grandpa’s new girlfriend will be hosting.

This should be okay – my grandma died a few years ago, and my grandpa (the playa) has dated several women since then.  And I like his newest girlfriend a lot.  She is sweet and friendly and really seems to care for him.

But.  It’s my grandmother’s house (selfish, bratty response, I know).  And some other woman is serving some other food.  And it’s Thanksgiving.  Hmph.  (K, I’ll uncross my arms and remove my pouty face now.)

So, I’m sure it will be fine, but I’ve been telling myself I can NOT get upset when my grandmother’s stove is used for other people’s pies and I will not whine when they try to serve sweet potatoes with stupid little marshmallows on them and what if they don’t make cornbread dressing?

Really, these are petty problems.  And not the reason for this blog post.

A dear friend of mine has a rare form of cancer.  She was undertaking her 6th round of chemotherapy last week and the pain was so intense she had been unable to sleep in three days.  Another migraine hit (a reaction to the poison churning through her) and she grabbed hold of the bathroom sink, hoping and praying for the pain to subside.  In her lack of sleep and the force of the throbbing, she was consumed by a hopelessness that she had not yet allowed herself to feel.  (Incredibly strong woman, my friend, in body and in mind.)

Suddenly, she heard her grandmother’s voice, calling to her from the other room.  “I know that is crazy,” my friend said in a text (because her grandmother has been gone for years), “but I swear her voice was as loud and clear as my own.”  The voice was so present that my friend went to look for her grandmother in the other room – and half expected her to be there.  The migraine (and despair) that had just flooded my friend’s mind subsided.  And that night, she slept soundly and deeply – for the first time in months.

I am touched by this story, not just because of the situation, but because of the characters involved.  My friend has always been sensible, level-headed and smart.  She’s not prone to ghost stories.  And neither is my brother, who seemed to experience a ghost story of his own today – a calling from our own grandmother (who, by the way, seems wholly unconcerned about my need for her cornbread dressing).

I can’t tell you his story just yet – it involves a present for someone who reads this blog.  So you’ll have to wait a few months.  But it’s a good one.  Stay tuned!

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Deployment sucks.  And some days are harder than others.

Today, in fact, was a hard one.  So I Googled “surviving deployment” and got a bunch of exactly what I don’t need – mushy crap about being strong and holding on.  Crap that made me cry.  And that’s exactly what I was trying to avoid.  Bleh.

So, today’s blog post is a self-service kind of list.  It’s a way of saying FU to deployment.  And all the crying crap that comes with it.

Here’s some REAL advice.

My TOP TEN Strategies for SURVIVING DEPLOYMENT:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 1: DRINK.  A LOT.  I recommend Cabernet.  But whatever.  Your choice.  Just medicate.

Step 2: SWIM.  Well, okay, that’s just for me.  But do what makes YOU happy.  If you like to cook, then cook.  If you like to dig in the dirt or drive motorcycles or dance or color or whatever.  Just do it.  Because YOU have to make YOU happy right now.  The other person in this world responsible for making you happy is oceans away.  So this falls on your shoulders right now.

Step 3: SHOP.   Buy those Manolos you’ve been having wet dreams about.  Or the Pottery Barn shower curtain that is five times more expensive than the one you have now.  Or the smart phone you’ve been dying to get your hands on.  I’m not suggesting you put yourself into debt.  I’m saying pay your bills, then use what is left over for a little RETAIL THERAPY.  You can save a little more when he gets back to make up for it.  Splurge a little for yourself.  You deserve it.

Step 4: DECORATE.  What, he doesn’t like the color pink?  Well, now’s a good time to paint the bedroom pink.  Why?  CAUSE HE’S NOT HERE.  Throw in some fluffy purple curtains with unicorns on them.  Okay, never mind, don’t do that.  UNLESS that is what you want. If it is, then do it.  Just don’t tell me about it, I might throw up in my mouth a little bit.  The point is, you have these decorating compromises you’ve made for him.  (That comfy <butt ugly> chair that he loves.  The futon left over from his college days.) But now you have a year of NO COMPROMISE.  So do whatever the last thing is that you suggested that he shot down.  You can always change it when he gets back.  For now, it will feel like a little bit of rebellion.  And it will make you happy.

Step 5:  BITCH.  Call your girlfriends and tell them how you feel.   Here’s a few suggestions:  Love sucks!  I should have married for money!  You know he has a third nipple?

Step 6:  GET BUSY.  DO everything you’ve thought about doing but haven’t.  Join a gym, take the kids to the park or the pool, take guitar lessons, hike the nearest mountain, boat in the nearest lake.  JUST do something.  You’ll experience new things, meet new people, and the time will fly by.  Basically, LIVE your life.   You knew how to live without him before you met him.  Figure out how to do that again.

Step 7:  GIVE BACK.  I’m gonna get all serious-mode on you now.  Because, let’s face it, there is always someone out there who has it worse than you.  And maybe, the best way to help yourself during this time is to help someone else.  Sign up for a river clean-up, a soup kitchen, something that you can devote your time to, something that can help you keep perspective.

Step 8:  GET DIRTY.  Forget the housework. Let the dishes pile in the sink.  Don’t vacuum that floor until you can SEE the dog hair built up on it.  Neglect the laundry until someone runs out of underwear.  I know, some of that sounds painful.  But here’s the thing – it doesn’t MATTER.  What matters is that you are happy.  And your kids are happy.  And if you have to let the dusting go one weekend because you have a waterpark to go to, well, then, SO BE IT.  Just let it go.

Step 9:  WRITE.  Your feelings are important.  You should write them down.  There are few things more therapeutic than getting your thoughts down on paper.  That’s what brainstorming is, just letting it flow.  Surviving deployment is about just that: surviving.  Don’t avoid the pain, let it out.  Don’t hold it inside, push it onto the page.  Keep a journal that only you are going to see.  If it’s private, then you don’t have to worry about anyone but you when you write it.  No one to judge you or tell you it’s wrong.  Just say whatever it is you want to say.  And you’ll be amazed at how you feel afterward.

Step 10:  FEEL THE LOVE.  Or more importantly, share the love.  The reason this is so hard for you is because you love that man.  Damnit.  Despite his third nipple.  You miss him.  And that sucks.  But it sucks for him too.  So tell him you love him and you miss him.  And you can’t wait for him to come home.  Because I’ll bet he feels the same way.  Then hang up the phone, and go back to Step 1.

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I love April.  My allergies of January/February are gone, and the weather is warming up enough to open up the windows and let the breeze blow through the house.  My toddler is heavily entertained by the birds in our backyard, and if that doesn’t amuse him enough, a simple bucket of water and some cups keep him occupied on the back porch for at least an hour or so, allowing me to get some work done in the patio lounger – which, right now, much to my neighbor’s chagrin, is a folding camping chair.

I hate April.  This month, my husband leaves us for a year, a goodbye that will likely spur my pre-schooler’s first serious bout with loss and heartache.  And, as all military families know, every goodbye during deployment has the potential to be your last.

pic by dakaishi

So those are my choices.  I can love this month, and the bird singing to me from the railing of my back porch.   I can appreciate the cool wind hitting my cheek and the clean smell of freshly cut grass.  And I can help my children to do the same.  OR I can wallow in the fact that my husband is leaving soon, I can stress about the consequences, and I can be angry at him for putting us through it all.  OR I can have a nervous breakdown.

Hm.  Decisions, decisions.

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