THE WRITE PLACE…

to find Patti Singleton these days.


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EDDD 14; Family Health History, The Perfect Gift (Says Mom)

Totally unrelated to this post. saw this young bald eagle on the beach this afternoon. The 2 adults that were with him exited, stage left. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Totally unrelated to this post. I saw this young bald eagle on the beach this afternoon. The 2 adults that were with him exited, stage left.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Have you ever wanted to change your phone number? I had that sudden urge just tonight…but it was too late, because I had already answered the damn thing. Too late. She was off and running before I even got the second half of “hello” properly spoken. “I’ve got the most wonderful thing for you to do for the whole family for Christmas!” Dead silence on my end. Who in their right mind would reply to that statement, especially  even from their own mother? Not me. I struggled not to hang up and sever our ties completely.

“Don’t you want to know what it is?” Then, before I even had a chance to not answer the statement or the question, she was back at it. “I know everyone one would LOVE to have the health history of our family, and you can do it, Patti!” She released a few syrupy sweet lines, adding a mound of butter, to really set the hook. As if. I’ve had over 50 years to learn how to deal with these tactics.

If only…For the next hour, I held my cell phone in one hand and a pen in the other, as we charted 5 generations of our family tree, including physical and mental health issues for each person. RELATIVE ALERT: This information will NOT be in my next post! Or even the next one. This is private family information that is only for family. Seriously, don’t freak out.

Besides, it’s all mom’s fault. While I am a family history researcher, this topic can be a little iffy (note the alert above). Mom and I went back and forth about what should be included and what, if anything, should be denied excluded. We have lost at least one person, from all but one generation, mainly to heart problems or cancer; this is important stuff.

As a matter of fact this information can tuck neatly into the health file that I hope you started working on during my Postcard series. Remember that? No? I will have a hard copy of it available soon, but here’s a link to the last one, which has links to the whole series http://wp.me/p3i5jo-8N.

So, uh um uh, mom was right (I might as well tattoo that on my forehead now), this will be a great gift for the family. I send out a yearly name, address, phone number list most years anyway, so I can just add this to it.

There, my Christmas shopping is done, before it even started. I like that in a holiday!

Mom and I agreed to add all known physical and mental health issues for those who have died (not in the mood for a tactful euphemism). For living relatives, we will leave the mental health issues for individuals to fill out on their own and share with whom they chose.

I decided not to change my phone number, at least until next time.

*please note, motherly quotes directly from daughter’s faulty memory.

How Do I Do This?

Below are some questions to start with, from this site: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/creatingafamilyhealthhistory/howtocreateafamilyhealthhistory/01.html   They have an online form you can fill out and have saved for your private use, or you can print their form and fill it out. (There are other resources available from any search engine; copy & paste or type: family health history form.)

“To start, make a list of relatives to contact. See if there are any existing family trees, charts, or baby books. Important questions to ask your blood relatives include the following.

  • What is your age or date of birth?
  • Do you have any chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure?
  • Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke? (If you know of a specific disease or illnesses in your family, ask about them, too.)
  • How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
  • Have you or your partner had any problems with pregnancies or childbirth?

Other questions to ask are:

  • What countries did our family come from? (Knowing this can help because some genetic diseases occur more often in certain population groups. Also, different diets and living environments can influence the risks of developing certain diseases.)
  • Has anyone in the family had birth defects, learning problems, or developmental disabilities, such as Down’s syndrome?
  • What illnesses did our late parents or grandparents have? How old were they when they died? What caused their deaths?”

Do you think you will work on this? How important do you think it is, that we share this information with our family members?

I just think, if I have to do it, you should too:>) I’ll tell mom!

Patti

Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway?

From writing challenge Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/

 


19 Comments

EDDD 13; Waking Up To 8 Strangers In Your Room

 

Notes from a memoir in making…

Crap, the alarm didn’t go off. Okay, maybe it did, but I just set it two hours ago, so maybe we both slept through it. So, here I am on this cot next to Paul’s hospital bed, hair going every direction, eyes still stuck together and my brain on sludge mode. Without the elixir of life (coffee), and with a full bladder, I have to wake myself up enough to answer specific questions and protect Paul from cruel and unusual poking and prodding.

In a teaching hospital, this happens 5 days a week. Waking up to strangers in your room, and not screaming, “Get out!,” is an acquired skill. You can tell who the doctor is, because he or she is usually a snappy dresser, and freshly showered. The students either look intimidated by the doc and exhausted, or they look attentively up into the doc’s face, have brown noses and try for the matching snappy look, with a semi-pressed lab coat.

Either way, it is game on. Once in awhile I can get them to check back later, but usually they are in a hurry and won’t can’t change their routine. It is amazing how different their behavior is when I’m just waking, and still in bed, compared to when I’m dressed and alert when they arrive. I know they are not the enemy (at least I do on my good days), but I still have to make sure the facts they are using to decide Paul’s meds and treatment, are based on what he and I know to be the reality.

Paul is groggy, but always humble and accommodating. He knows I’m listening, making notes and generally on top of it. This is the best gift I can give Paul, who is on his 6th or 7th plan B treatment to try and stop the aggressive attack of Graft vs Host disease. The gift is allowing him to not have to remember medications, side affects and his vital statistics. If there is an issue to be discussed, he can lay and listen, while I rattle the cages to correct or get more information about his treatment.

I grab a hair clip, my notebook and pen and another day begins.

~~~~~~~~

Frosty garden colors and the end of the primrose. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Frosty garden colors and the end of the primrose.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

It’s almost midnight and I’m happy to report that I made it through another dreaded Friday the 13th. Personally, I think it is a lucky day. Turns out, I had neither dread nor luck today…but isn’t that lucky?

Thanks for hanging out,

Patti

Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway?

From writing challenge Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/


27 Comments

Beach Farewell…Again

It has been nice to be home this week, but Mrs. M. has called and I will be returning to Oregon tomorrow. One last, late afternoon visit to my beach, and I collected some sand to make her a beach scene in a glass dome. She loves the beach too, so I will take her one of her own. (Beach therapy in glassware)

The driftwood bull carving was still there and I told him how much you all enjoyed him:>) Here are a few other beauties and oddities that I gathered with my camera today.

What? PHALL PHOTO 2013

What? Don’t ask me…
PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Results of stormy weather. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Results of stormy weather. Some incredible finds. This is my therapy and I see stories here too!
PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Beach art. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Beach art. Another view, still odd.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

I could actually smell winter at the beach today. I didn’t last long outside, but found some pretty beach glass, a Westport moonstone (round, smooth, clear rock), a heart-shaped stone and a piece of petrified wood. No agates, but still, some goodies to make Mrs. M.’s mini-beach!

Have a great week and I will be back online as soon as I can.

Peace,

Patti

 

 

 


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4 Days of a Caregiver, Writer on Hold

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Friday & Saturday

Friday was busy and full of smiles and hugs from Sara & Jon and the little grands. I am so glad that it worked out that I could watch the my gr’daughters get their awards before I headed to Oregon.

It was a beautiful fall drive from Washington to Oregon, and my truck remembered how to get back to the nursing home just fine. I spent some time with Mrs. M at the nursing home, and then I followed her gr’daughter over to Mrs. M’s duplex. It is a 2 bedroom in a little community near Gresham. After the gr’daughter left, I unpacked and did a little freshening up around the place, then went to explore the area in my truck.

Yes, I did get lost once, but it was worth it. I now have a better idea of where I am and where most of the places that we may need to go are. Mrs. M doesn’t drive, and I know that it’s hard for me to get to know a place if I am a passenger. I bought a map:>)

I made it back over to the nursing home the next morning with no wrong turns. Mrs. M was ready to go, after fond farewells with her roommate and the staff. It was obvious that she was well-liked there. I packed her up, and when her gr’daughter got there, we left. By Saturday afternoon, Mrs. M and I were as settled in as two strangers could be. She seems to take well to changes and is amiable about the big and little things. Ahhh, that makes things easy for both of us.

White Picket Red Berry Gate Wood Village, OR PHALL PHOTO 2013

White Picket Red Berry Gate
Wood Village, OR
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Sunday & Monday

Mrs. M and I had an exciting day and evening yesterday. The nursing home sent a nurse to look over the meds and check her vitals. We should also have visits from physical therapists in the next few days. We were sitting here filling out some papers after the nurse left, and we heard a loud boom; the electricity went out. With Mrs. M’s directions, I found the flash lights and batteries, but didn’t have the right batteries for the radio. We still don’t know what happened, but we were in the dark for only an hour or so.

Once the power came back on, I turned the thermostat up to get us warm. I smelled something burning and got up and looked around. It was coming from the wall heater, so I turned it back off. Then 3 smoke alarms started screaming out. I turned those off and Mrs. M called the landlord; he got here pretty quickly. It turns out that dust build-up inside the heater caught fire. As he was testing the heater in my bedroom, it started smoking too and set the alarms off again.

Please vacuum out your heaters for winter use. Might as well check your flash lights and emergency radio for batteries while you are at it.

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

That was our crazy Sunday. Yesterday I took a long walk around the neighborhood. I had my camera and found some of the season’s last flowers and some other great colors and textures to take photos of. We had a big plan to go get groceries, but at the last minute, Mrs. M’s back pain flared. She called the gr’daughter to come over while I ran our errands. Yep, got the batteries. It was nice to be back in Oregon, where an attendant pumps your gas. Everything else feels pretty much the same as Washington.

My little grandson, Tiven has been gone almost 6 months, and November 3rd would have been his 4th birthday. I have been fighting tears for several days, but yesterday I was able to get away and let them come as they wanted to. I miss my little guy every single day. That’s all for now.

Autumn Rose for Tiven. 3 Nov 2009-26 Apr 2013 PHALL PHOTO 2013

Autumn Rose for Tiven.
3 Nov 2009-26 Apr 2013
PHALL PHOTO 2013

 

Let me know how things are going with you. Still getting our routine down here, so I haven’t got back to editing the memoir postcards. Not online much either.

Peace,

Patti


23 Comments

A Writer/Caregiver Packs For A New Journey

Tokeland, WA PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tokeland, WA
PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tomorrow (Friday) I set off on a new journey. It may take a week, a month or maybe longer. The timeline is open and so am I. I’ve detailed my truck, except I need to vacuum it. I’ve re-potted and watered my houseplants. I stirred the compost pile and planted the lilac and rose by the fence, and a handful of mini-crocus near the pond’s edge.

I’m fairly certain that I can come home once a week. Mrs. M.’s grand daughter lives near and should be able to manage a day and night with her. It’s over 300 miles, round trip, so I hope I can break that into 2 days. I’ve got the edited hard copy of my Postcards manuscript packed and I’ll also be working on the middle book of the memoir series. I’ll take my laptop, but I will hold off on taking my printer until I have a better idea of how long I’ll be needed.

The biggest thing I will miss is my little cave/home (Maggie) and the beach. It will just be the two of us and I’ll have my own room, so I can still be a part-time cave woman:>)  I look forward to getting to know Mrs. M. better and seeing what mischief we can come up with in Portland. I’m certain to get a better schedule going and get outside more often.

Journaling is a strong habit for me, so I do plan to journal about my time with Mrs. M. I know I’ll take a lot of photos of my new surroundings. I am sure that I will be online and checking in with all of you at least a few times a week. As you can tell, until I get settled, everything is up in the air. That would frustrate many people, but I really look forward to the mystery of it. I am very adaptable and change doesn’t bother me.

The big difference with helping out this time is that I don’t know Mrs. M. I have met her maybe 3 times over the years. She has passed the main part of physical therapy and does not need a lot of assistance there. Also, there is no stress or heart break related to her care. She may be almost 91, but she is mentally sharp and physically on the mend.

These links will take you back to the posts where I talked about this new adventure and my other caregiver experiences. Here and here.

Did you notice that I changed to a static “home” page? Check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. I am still working on the site…

Take care,

Patti


19 Comments

Happy Halloween!

100_2293

The photo is of the first Halloween that Paul and I celebrated together, with our little grands surrounding us. This is Cora, who is now seven and still remembers her “Papa.” These are some happy memories that still make me smile.

Everyone who knows me, knows that holidays are not my thing and never have been. My children are lucky that I had two holiday-happy best friends while they were growing up. I can still feel the energy that they brought to each holiday and/or celebration.

I’m also not religious, but the Waldorf school that we were involved with for several years, brought holidays closer to us with myth, nature and reverence, all in a gossamer water-colored package.

Then there was Paul. He loved my playfulness and I loved poking and prodding the curmudgeon that he often projected. I knew better. A curmudgeon doesn’t enjoy making others happy by coming up with special surprises that fit each person like a glove. And they don’t laugh until tears are running down their face. Oh, and they don’t have half a room dedicated to holiday decorations.

Sure, the room was from a time when he and his late wife raised their children. But Paul kept it up by hanging the lights and putting out the holiday decorations. On our own, neither of us were really into all that, but together? Man, did we have holiday fun! We were young again and silly, and it almost seemed like we challenged each other to be our funnest holiday selves.

We even bought silly costumes and presents for our dog Jake and the felines, Oliver and Abby. The year before he got sick, we went to all the after Christmas sales, and bought everything blue and white that we could find. We filled totes in the holiday room with tons of blue Christmas bounty. We had so much fun making plans for an awesome blue Christmas the following year.

No, our theme Christmas didn’t happen, but those memories still make me smile. We relived our crazy shopping spree and plans while we were in the hospital fighting leukemia, and they made Paul smile too. And we never gave up hope for our future blue Christmas. We also laughed to tears while we planned crazy Halloween costumes for the future.

For the first time in 4 years, I think the happy memories and tears are over shadowing the sadness and tears. That’s a good thing, right?

How do you feel about Halloween and the holidays?

Peace,

Patti


13 Comments

Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

Bridge Along The Journey PHALL PHOTO 2013

Bridge Along The Journey
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Metaphor musings. Bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity…into the horizon…

Continued from Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

An executive caregiver position came open many years later. (No phone call this time.) By then, my children were out on their own and I had divorced their step father. I was 4 years into the best relationship that I could ever have imagined. And then, my partner in life and business, was diagnosed with leukemia. I became Paul’s 24/7 caregiver. The hats I wore covered all aspects of our lives during the year of his illness, treatment, stem cell transplant, our hospital wedding and his final battle with graft vs host disease. We were fortunate to have a strong group of supporters in our family and friends. We all learned so many lessons during this time, that Paul and I began to plan a book about it. My 3-part memoir series of love, illness and loss is a work-in-progress.

I readily admit that nepotism was involved in my next caregiver position. The patient was my mother. My family (2 parents in their 70’s, and 6 siblings in their 40’s and 50’s) were still reeling from the loss of my sister in February 2012. Two months later, my mother had an accident that left her with two broken arms, 2 black eyes and a variety of pain, from head to toe. Yep, I got the call. I was back on an airplane heading north. It had only been five weeks since I returned home from Alaska after my sister’s death,

When I arrived back in Alaska, my brother picked me up and took me straight to the hospital. I stayed in my mother’s hospital room that night, and we took her home the next day.  Mom was unable to care for herself at all. I became her right-hand and left-hand person, and slept beside her at night. I would like to break off and tell you what an amazingly strong woman my mother is, but I will leave for another day.

Two of my siblings live nearby and they circled the wagons to provide support and relief. I stayed in Alaska 4 months and wore many hats while I lived with my parents. My most rewarding role was that of adult daughter to my parents, but the second best was that of caregiver to my mother. I was also able to spend some special time with 2 of my sisters and their families, as well as both of my brothers. I flew home to Washington in August, on the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death.

A holiday bonus. The patriarch (I call him “dad”) sent Ms. Daisy (mom) and I on the vacation of a lifetime in late November 2012. I joined my Alaska family for Thanksgiving, then mom and I toured the Hawaiian Islands for weeks. We spent Christmas and New Year’s with my Arizona sister (it was her twin who we lost earlier that year) and her family. Mom flew home from Washington in January, after visiting her sister and the rest of our Washington family. [3 months later my grandson died and mom flew back to Washington to mourn with, and nurture our family here]

To make a long story short (hahaha), I received another call. It was the call from my sister that I wrote about in the first paragraph of Part 1 of this post. I’m still not perfect, but I guess I will keep on practicing this caregiver role, until I get it right. I am looking forward to this new adventure of giving care to Mrs. M. in Oregon.

I’ve taken some time this week to ponder the meaning of these calls-to-action that keep arriving in my life. They seem to be bridges to the next part of my journey, rather than minor side trips. So, now I have to wonder where this next bridge will lead me…

You can be sure that when I get the call that Mrs. M is being released, my laptop, printer and works-in-progress will be traveling with me, so please hang out for more.

How will you answer the call? Has a caregiver call been a bridge in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience (in the comment section).

Here are these Helpful Links again:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

Holding You Up A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii PHALL PHOTO 2012

Holding You Up
A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii
PHALL PHOTO 2012

by Patti Hall

They Say That Practice Makes Perfect

Technically, I wasn’t looking for practice or perfection when I answered my sister’s phone call from Alaska a few days ago. Just last week I was deep into my grieving cave-woman mode. Tuesday, I traveled about 350 miles (round trip) to a convalescent facility in Oregon. I met with the care team of my sister’s mother-in-law, Mrs. M.  Yesterday I started cleaning, packing and planning for an extended stay at the home of Mrs. M. in Portland, as her caregiver.

Caregiver: Is This A Calling And/Or A Bridge?

My caregiver internship began within the parameters of my first parenting role when I was 28 years old. That’s what parents do, they give care. Care-giving starts when you wake up in the morning, extends throughout the day, and continues into the night. It is wiping snotty noses, changing diapers, feeding, clothing and loving those in your care. Care-giving is sleepily welcoming a tearful dreamer under your covers, and into your arms, in the middle of the night.

To further my caregiver qualifications, I answered the phone and agreed to join a caregiver group in California. A troupe of his sisters and nieces, gathered at the home of my maternal uncle, when he was in the last stages of his battle against cancer. We came from 3 states; sometimes one at a time, sometimes overlapping, but one of us was always at his side. Despite my uncle’s sad prognosis, he basked in the songs of this Florence Nightingale choir. The songs were expressed in our laughter and love. We nurtured, laughed, cried, reminisced and took care of his physical needs. It was the first time that I truly considered how fragile life is.

A few years later, an interim caregiver position came available via an out-of-state call from my children’s father, aka my former husband. His mother was in her 80’s, living alone and had recently been widowed. She was not doing well emotionally, although, she was physically fine. I packed my bag, drove 100 miles north and left my own family to fend for themselves (again). K and I had known each other for many years and we had remained friends.

K was in deep grief and needed help with the mounds of paperwork and legal procedures that come after a death. While her son handled his job and household transfers from Utah to Washington, I helped K negotiate the details at hand. The signs of dementia came on fast and I consulted her son over the phone. I took K to her doctor and explained our concerns. She was poked and prodded and tested.

I received a promotion. Along with K’s paperwork, legal matters and emotional distress (grief), I had to keep her physically safe. From herself. Household hazards suddenly loomed everywhere. She was a fragile child one moment and an angry woman in the next moment. By the time her son came, K and I were exhausted and traumatized by trying to navigate the chaos brought on by the changes taking place within her brain. I returned home and wished that I could have done more.

Stay tuned, Part 2 will be posted soon…more caregiver experiences and I ponder whether this role is a calling or bridge to the next step in my life.

Have you answered the call? We’d love to hear your story in the comment section.

Helpful Links:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


30 Comments

Naked Without Them

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Naked Without Them; Gold & Silver Memories

My wedding ring set has such a bad track record.  You’d think that I would want to drop it down the sink or bury it in a drawer. Never. Like most of us, that set of rings has had its ups and downs, through no fault of its own.

Before their life with me, the rings had a life on the finger of a young bride, full of high hopes for a happy future, with the man of her dreams. That dream died quickly and lives were shattered. The rings sat in a box, in the very back of a drawer, forever. Who knows how long it really was, as rings have no sense of time.

My friends, the preacher and his wife, gained possession of the rings through their family ties. They finally found a way to aim the rings on a path towards a happier future; much happier than living in a drawer full of undies and unopened packages of socks.

Admittedly, the groom (whose bride would wear the rings) was being treated for leukemia, but surely he would live to rejoice in his recovery with his new bride? The rings could have a new life too. The betrothed were living in the hospital and did not have the freedom to go shopping for wedding rings. So when the preacher and his wife drove across the mountains to perform and witness the hospital wedding, they brought the set of rings to offer as a gift to the couple. The rings would be redeemed and the newlyweds would live happily ever after. The gift was gratefully accepted.

The groom’s wedding band was chosen from the offerings of the preacher couple and the bride’s aunt. He simply chose the one that fit the best. The wedding is another story altogether, and you are welcome to read one version of it here. Most of you know that the story didn’t end so well. The groom left this world and his bride less than 2 months after the ceremony. Once more, the rings were marked by tragedy.

That was 4 years ago and I wear Paul’s wedding band on my thumb now. I just recently moved my wedding set to the ring finger of my right hand. I read somewhere that this was the custom for widows in…? I can’t remember what country that was. My wedding ring finger is still much thinner where the rings once sat, and I’m sure that time will be successful in healing the finger, if not my heart. Either way, the rings and I are happy for the company along the way.

The other piece of jewelry that I cherish is the heart locket that you see in the picture. It was already special to me, but now I only take it off to shower (so I actually am naked without it). Sealed inside is some resin mixed with my forever-3-year-old grandson’s ashes. We lost him in April and I can still hear his voice and see those bright blue eyes,

I had more to say, but I lost my steam somewhere up there in that last paragraph. I can say how grateful I am that I have these special things, and I truly would feel naked without my gold and silver memories. Some people don’t want such constant contact with objects that hold sad memories. That’s odd to me. When I adjust the rings or the clasp on the locket chain, I may shed a tear (or a bucket of them), but then I usually end the tearful session with a smile for all the happy memories.

Do you have something special that you feel naked without? Maybe something romantic or funny or magic to cheer us up? Well, then please share it with your friends here :>)

Peace Out,

Patti


8 Comments

Book Review: In the Body of the World: A Memoir, Eve Ensler

 In the Body of the World: A Memoir

 

In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler
Patti Hall’s review on Goodreads and Amazon

Oct 12, 2013
Recommended to Patti by: Elaine Mansfield
Recommended for: *Cancer victims and survivors. *Anyone with a female in their life.
Read from September 10 to 28, 2013, read count: 2
*I easily concede that this may not be the right book for everyone. I know that I would want to read it if I had cancer, but it may be too raw for others. Ensler does not filter out the horrendous things done to her body during her fight against cancer, nor the horrendous things done to the bodies of females in the Congo. I strongly value the message of hope that she brings to both subjects. Oh, and the “V” on the cover is not an accident.
Any possibility of love and respect for her body was taken away with the violation of it by her own father. Eve Ensler kept her body busy though, with good, bad and ugly actions. Years later, she began talking with, and interviewing women about their bodies. Part of the discussion was about how they could value and protect their bodies. Ensler wrote and published the Vagina Monologues and performed the play on stage. Her character portrayals are pure art. Other artists took on her role. The result of all that wondering and questioning can still be witnessed on campuses and theaters across the country. Ensler continued to interview women from every walk of life, and from around the world. There was only one thing that stopped her, or I should say, refocused her.
The plight of the women and girls of the Congo gave her a new focus. The Congo is a place where the rape, pillage, murder and destruction of females, from infants to grandmothers, are rampant. These crimes against humanity take place in collusion with the destruction of the Congolese earth. These crimes take place in order to mine the earth’s natural ingredients, which feed the rest of the world’s lust for resources and technology.
Not long after Ensler began to envision and ignite solutions with and for the women of the Congo, she encountered the destructive force of cancer within her own body. While the Congo women and earth continued to be attacked, Ensler was forced to retreat (although never out of contact) and fight her private battle. And a horrendous battle it was. Ensler writes about it like a gentle, yet ferocious mother. She writes in awe of the mighty foe. Her writing invokes a woman who is, at once, humble, brave, weak, passionate and grateful. As if that were not enough to compel readers, Ensler is also generous with her unvarnished honesty.The City of Joy is being built and run by the girls and women of the Congo. It is its own powerful force, envisioned and ignited by Ensler and her circle of supporters. When Ensler and her doctors were done slaying her cancer dragons, she went right back to The City of Joy. She continues to travel the world to garner funds for the V-Day movement to end violence against women and girl’s bodies. This daunting challenge is no less heroic than the fight to save her own life.

The loudest lesson Ensler offers her readers is hope.


28 Comments

Dedicated to My Aunt, Her Children and You!

On October 1st, while I was being amazed at the offerings of the sky, my Aunt Norma was on a final journey to her loving husband who passed away eight years ago. As a hole in the stormy clouds above the ocean opened up, it sent rays of light from above, and chills ran up and down my body. This is usually my reaction when I get to witness this natural phenomena, but it felt stronger that day.

Hole in sky. October 1st. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Hole in sky. Westport, WA, October 1st.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Yesterday I visited my other aunt and talked to my mom in Alaska; they had both lost a sister the day before. For my mother, that is a daughter, a close family friend, a great grand child and a sister, that she has lost in less than 2 years. I got to hug two cousins yesterday and renew our cousin-love vows. I stopped by to give my uncle a hug and to renew our vow of family love. I have recently been rebuilding friendships with the children of the aunt who just died, and I am trying to support them through this hard time.

A double rainbow, double the hope. Oct 2nd. PHALL PHOTO

A double rainbow, double the hope. Oct 2nd. Centralia, WA
PHALL PHOTO

All of this has me thinking about the nature of loss. How very different the loss of one person can be to each of us; how the news hits us and how it settles around us. Our experiences with loss, and our relationship and history with the lost one, make such a difference. Some want to laugh, some need to cry, others want to reminisce, while some just want to ignore the pain. It is very hard to know which way a grieving person is leaning on that particular day, or hour or, even, that minute. I am doing the best that I can for each. The biggest thing I think I can do, is to be a good listener and let them lead me to the place they are, emotionally. I offer gentle sympathy. After a lot of listening, I can usually offer something that I think will help. Sometimes it is just a hug, or hanging out for awhile. Sometimes it is an action I can take. Either way, I try and be gentle. And yes, this loss is my loss also, so I’ll need to be gentle with me too.

Fall Rainbows. Oct 2nd, Centralia, WA PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Fall Rainbows. Oct 2nd, Centralia, WA
PHALL PHOTOS 2013

I also spent time with my daughter’s family yesterday. As usual, I drug them all out to see Nature’s glory in the sky. Pretty soon, Nola (6) and Cora (7), were dragging me down the sidewalk and around the corner to get better views of the incredible fading rainbow-setting sun-lit sky.

Sunset on window-wall of Centralia College. Oct 2nd. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Sunset reflection on window-wall of Centralia College. Oct 2nd.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

 

They ran up the concrete steps of a vacant 1930’s church, and still, stood on their tippy-toes to get a better view…then, around another corner, and they careened, arms out, down a wavy concrete ramp.

Nola & Cora, Oct 2nd, Centralia, WA. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Nola & Cora, Oct 2nd, Centralia, WA.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

This loss, like others, seems to bring us together, even as we regret not having spent more time, laughter and rainbows with the one we lost. Let’s just try harder with the ones we have left. I think my aunt would be happy with that vow.

Sunset of a happy-sad day. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Sunset of a happy-sad day.
PHALL PHOTO 2013


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New Features and Reflections of Memoir and August

Tan steerette

From my country drive a few weeks ago here. Tan Furry Steerette (not official species name). Maybe it’s the teats, maybe that soulful look, but I love her. Cannot have steerette where I live. I’m so glad that she has that awesome rack (horns not teats) to keep those bad boys away…when necessary:>) I was very sad when we had to leave these new friends behind. I wish they had internet.

New Features & Reflections of Memoir

I have not received enough reader photos here and here to keep that feature going, so I am working on 2 new features that I hope will be more popular and useful. One is for caregivers and the other is for writers. Both of my new features are written as “Postcards” since that seems to be in keeping with my “Souvenirs from My Heart” memoir series. I intend on carrying that theme through all my writing, as it is such a big part of my former and current life.

I wanted to get the memoir postcard series here published this month, but this has been a rough month for me. As you might imagine, my emotions are pretty raw, and time spent on the memoir has been ripping off old scabs. I hope that the caregiver and writer postcard series will give me a short break and allow me step back and breathe for a short time. Both of those series are meant to help others, and that helps me get out of my own emotional way.

Reflections of August

Tomorrow, the 27th, is the anniversary date that Paul and I celebrated our new life together. He would always tease me about my bold, “Why don’t you call me sometime” gesture at the pig roast in 2005 where we were re-acquainted. The 28th was the day of his memorial. What a day. I raged in my journal about how that day was supposed to offer some “closure,” but all it did for me was make my grief worse, because it made Paul’s death so real and so final.

I will certainly be glad when August is over! With Paul’s deathday, birthday, our anniversary and his memorial in the same month, it is always hard. Leaving our home  and gardens for the last time, this past week, added more to my heaping pile of emotions.

The bright side could be, that it is all over in one month of the year. I (with lots of help) am building a new “secret garden” that Paul would love, from what I salvaged from our old garden. This year I also have my wordpress family to add to my supporting and loving circle of family and friends in “real” life. Thank you all.

Heaps of Goodness

Please continue to send all sorts of goodness to my WP friends, Ionia, Belinda and Marilyn, and my real world f/f’s who face serious health issues. For those in my circle facing emotional issues, maybe try what helps me most; give true and loving support to others:>)

I just got word that I did not win the last contest. A BIG thank you for those who took the time to read and vote on my story, “Love, Laughter and Loss” I did not win, but had the most, by 20!, facebook likes:>) Here is how the stories were judged. (I think I only had one person write to the judges.) http://midlifecollage.com/winner-circle/
Again, thank you!

See you soon,

Patti


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Last Day, “Love, Laughter and Loss”

Snapped this at the local espresso stand. Makes me smile every time I see it. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Snapped this at the local espresso stand. Makes me smile every time I see it.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Closes Sunday!

midlifecollage.com is hosting a contest, which my short story, Love, Laughter & Loss, is entered in. If you’ve followed the Souvenirs from My Heart Postcards, or my other memoir posts, you’ll want to know how the story of Patti & Paul began. Won’t you?

There’s one comment below the story that seems pretty negative…am I being too sensitive?…what do you think? The only way to counter it, is if folks in our community add their own comments. midlifecollage.com

Judges count the facebook likes, so please hit that button after you read the story.

Thanks,

Patti


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Birthdays; Cherished Memories Revisited

Paul swinging in the sunshine. PHALL PHOTO 2008

Paul swinging in the sunshine.
PHALL PHOTO 2008

I originally posted this just after I started my blog, and again in 2013, but I wanted re-post it in honor of Paul’s birth date this year. Paul loved celebration, surprises and family. I remember this last birthday before he was diagnosed with leukemia. We lined our merged five grand daughters up on the couch and took pictures. We so loved our little girlies :>)

Paul is/was a Leo and loved being in the lime light on his special day, okay, on any day. He was very quiet about his pride of place, but if you knew him well, loved him, you could see the glow of it in his bright blue eyes and that smile…

I gave him this 3-D NASCAR card that he kept next to his chair for months; he’d never seen anything like it and I think he loved it better than his actual gift. He loved getting gifts, but that was nothing compared to how he loved finding the perfect thing for someone special. He was very into the drama of giving gifts.

We went out to eat with friends 3 times a week and one of the places was at the local casino. While waiting in line, you pass the gift shop. We’d often have our friends hold our place in line, while we looked in the display cases. I’d oooh and ah over the pretty, shiny things, then we’d move back into the line waiting to get in for dinner.

That Christmas, I had a lot of gifts in all sorts of shapes and sizes. By the time all the gifts were opened, I saw what he had done. He used his casino points and bought me every piece of jewelry I had made noise about at the gift shop during the past year! Crazy guy. Thankfully, he also bought me a jewelry armoir to put it all in.

Enjoy…

A Piece of Our Story in Poetry

This is a piece of our story; the man I knew. This was written for his birthday, 11 months before cancer entered our lives.

20 Aug 2007

Paul teased me about writing a book for him, instead I wrote this poem for his 60th birthday.

Book of Paul…

He is everything wonderful that I ever needed,

handsomely wrapped up in one big tender man.

His rolling laughter leads to coughing fits;

spitting up water and vitamins,

and then falling off the bed!

A prankster to his core,

full of special surprises for all.

A memory-maker, his camera always within reach,

he records the Kodak moments of our lives.

His cards & gifts & little notes come from the heart,

and always meet their target.

He loves easily and deeply…

his children, grandchildren, his friends & me!

He would love to be a millionaire,

but he lives well, and is generous with what he has.

His tastes and beliefs are “traditional”,

yet he has an open mind and can embrace the non-traditional,

except food, of course!

He loves Taco Time, NASCAR, animal shows,

Funniest Videos, Cops and bad sci-fi movies.

Every day he says and does funny or special things for me,

he can calm me with only a look, or a touch.

He wants us together, no matter what,

and turns every errand into a “date”.

He acts crabby sometimes,

but just below the surface is a joke or a prank or a smile.

He notices the little things,

and always says “thank you”.

For a T-shirt and jeans guy,

he sure is a clothes horse!

He gives hugs and touches often,

he sings seriously and dances with a laugh.

Happy Birthday… With All My Love,

Patti

Sorry about the quality of this photo. I snapped it on my way out the door. This is Paul’s part of a little alter I have in my beach cave, for all those we’ve lost the last few years.

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