Now that was a fun little exercise in commitment. The (Almost) Every Damn Day December challenge was fun and a bit of a stress, but not bad. I missed 3 days, and I apologize, but I can’t help thinking that it’s really okay, because it was in 2013 and THAT YEAR IS OVER!!!!
You’ve only known me since March (except my family & friends who jumped on board with me), but you’ve probably caught on that I’m a bit unpredictable and spontaneous. Tomorrow morning (in a few hours) I’ll get on an airplane in Seattle, Washington. I’ll land in Juneau, Alaska for a brief layover/photo tour, and then on to Anchorage, Alaska that evening. I’m staying until mid-May.
Here’s the unpredictable, spontaneous part. I SHOULD have spent the last 2 days of the year writing my AEDDD posts and getting ready for my long stay in Alaska. Any semi-normal person would have. Not me. I put on my BRAVE cape, packed an overnight bag, opened Maggie’s door and stepped into a 2 day adventure. You’re gonna love this. Am I even sane? Well, yes I am, just a little…oh yes, spontaneous!
My first 2 stops were pure pleasure. I got warm hugs from my tall, handsome boy (okay, young man), Jon, and got to hold and snuggle my sleepy twin step-granddaughters. Their mom sat back smiling, as the girls opened Christmas presents from Grani…that’s another story.
Sara, Caleb and my impish little Cameron were next. I had a blast playing with Cameron. He’s hilarious in his antics, a ball of energy and brilliant to boot! (No Grani prejudice at all!) Sara helped me unsnarl my rat’s nest (tangled, knotted hair), then I took a long, glorious shower (Maggie only gives me a quick 3 minutes). Of course, my new best buddy, Cameron, had to get in on the action. He’s our water baby and he sat happily playing in the water at my feet, while I enjoyed the warm spray of water pelting me.
Once we were out and dry, Sara gave me a heavenly pedicure and topped it off with pretty toenail polish. It probably took 8 times longer than a salon, but they don’t have to stop and nurse and play with and fight off “help” from an almost 2-year-old, like Sara did.
The next day I tracked down my aunt and “Smitty” and got about 10 hugs. She helped me map out and contact her kids, my cousins. I simply had this strong urge to see them all before I left on my long journey to the north. Soon, 4 maps turned into one, as all 4 agreed to meet me at one cousin’s house that evening. I love it when a crazy spontaneous plan comes together!
I’m sorry that I never did track down my uncle, so he’ll have to be my first stop when I get back from Alaska. My next stop was not so great, but was an ending to a long, happy/sad story. I had to get the last of my belongings out of the home Paul and I had shared, then say a final goodbye to that place and that chapter. Our fun, loving and happy home was now just an empty house.
Another bittersweet part, was that my little granddaughters came with their dad, who was helping me. We were only there a short time, but the girls shared their memories of living there, and even “Papa” memories. Nola and Cora got a step stool and removed their drawings from the wall. They explored every nook and corner for memories and lost toys. We got a photo of the girls and me in front of the house, then we all left.
A map and a few phone calls later and I was greeted by my 3 beautiful cousin/sisters. We were not only raised together in Alaska, but I’ve spent most of the last 25 years encircled by their family here in Washington. They have been along, in one way or another, for almost all the good and bad times of this large chapter in my life.
We hugged, and hugged some more. We caught up a bit and I told a few stories. We reminisced about our young selves and laughed a lot, while trying to get a good photo of the four of us. The atmosphere was calm, soothing and filled with happy and sad shadows of the past.
Their brother couldn’t make it, so we made plans to try and meet the next morning. The 5th cousin just became a new dad in California, hopefully we will cross paths one of these days soon. I’m not that spontaneous (or wealthy). My last stop on this long and emotional day was to renew a lost friendship.
I’ve written about my 4 best friends here before. Leslee is one of them. It had been many years, but seeing each other again was a balm for both our souls. She’s been very ill and is tiny, but as beautiful as the last day I saw her. Six weeks of healing from a life-saving surgery and she was on her way back to good health.
We laughed, cried, hugged and kissed, then did it all again, until late into the night. She fed me love, warm soup, a potpourri of cookies and candies and wise sisterly counsel. In the morning I had another long, glorious shower, but not before jumping in my truck to find a place to buy my addictive morning cup of coffee.
Of course, I told her the story of the two fifteen-year-old kids on a first date. I mentioned a possible 40-year-later meeting. That very day. Possibly. She wanted in on the story. Badly. The morning felt just like the old days when Leslee was singing in a band, and I was her best friend/sister/groupie/hair, costume and make-up assistant. She primped and slathered me with blusher, despite my protests. I kept refusing the pink coral nail polish, but once she noticed my painted toes, she wouldn’t stop until I finally handed over my finger nails for her loving application.
I know that you’re dying to know if I ever caught up with my other cousin. You may even want to read whether or not my BRAVE cape and Leslee propelled me and my pretty painted nails all the way to a rendezvous with Mrs. M’s son. The thing is, this post is already over 1300 words, it’s after 1 a.m. and I have to catch a flight in the morning. And tomorrow is a long drive to the airport, a photo tour and two airplanes. The next day is mom’s hip replacement surgery…so I will try to get back and finish the tale of my last day of 2013 as soon as I can.
Peace Out, Really!
Here is my New Year’s welcome:
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ― Alfred Tennyson
That is my word for the new year: Hope.
My arms are wide open for the good, wondrous and unknown things that await me in this new year.
I hope that all my friends and family (and yours) stay safe, healthy and full of LOVE in 2014.
I hope that I am calm, brave and loving when the previous hope falls short; after all, we’re only human.
I hope I choose the best path for me, when I stand before the crossroads that are offered up this coming year.
I hope I am successful in living in the present moment; not one foot in the past and one in the future.
I hope I use hindsight and foresight to make wise decisions, for even these have a useful purpose.
I hope tolearn more (about you and me and the world), see more (of the magic in you, me and the world), sharemore (of myself and the magic and what I learn about you, me and the world) and be more (of myself; to stretch and reach and pull in all of the good stuff).
“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” ― Rumi
It’s funny, but I think that you like the truth better than any tale I could weave, and I can weave some fanciful ones. But, surely it is the real heart and real emotion that we need the most…
Whether it’s, “Oh, my gosh, I never knew!”
or, “That’s just how I feel too!”
The best and worse of me, resounds in you. P.H. 2013
I just wrote that for you:>)
Traveling home is very different, on many levels, to each of us. It also changes with the reasons that we go home. Since 2007, there has been a different reason each time that I traveled home. My late husband, Paul, came up with the money for a ticket, and then insisted that I go that first time. The visit was initially to see my dad, who had a health scare, but then, also to make up with a family that I had distanced myself from for too many years. That was good. And hard. And it lightened my heart to have my reading, gardening, rolling- with- laughter mom back in my life.
Another visit to the north was a casual one, almost a vacation. Fishing in Homer with #1, a sister who took me everywhere when I was little, says I was HER baby! A long-time friend of hers verified the news. I made up with a sister that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in at least eight years, and made headway with another. I helped dad with his yard sales and listened raptly to tales from his childhood in Kentucky. I loved the way his faded southern accent peeked in and out of his reminiscing. Of course, mom and I reveled in working the garden together, and I, in watching her dance in front of the green house in her jammies, to the loud music coming from within. Joy.
In 2012, my visit was filled with pain and heart-ripping sorrow. My direct sorrow was laced with regret. The sister I had reunited with just eight months earlier, the sister who had been sending care packages of craft ideas and love ever since, the sister I’d been sharing texts and long-missed phone calls with, was gone. The gratefulness that we DID connect, didn’t come until much later. My secondary sorrow was the torture of witnessing how the loss hit my parents; the death of one of their seven, a crushing blow.
Then, too, the twin to my lost sister, their birthday is tomorrow, lost her literal other half. There are just no words for the pain I felt she must be suffering. Still suffers. Another sister was a close business and personal buddy with our lost one. Another sister was out of the country. The brothers stood by, strong shoulders for our tears. My heart tore in painful strips of crumpled, tear-stained ribbon. I tried to capture and identify my pain and soothe it, but the ribbons flew in all directions; my parents, our twin, each sibling, even dear friends who fed and flowered us so well. A tattered ribbon of pain from my husband’s death flew in, and tangled with the rest.
Our (now) single twin flew home, soon after the beautiful memorial, into the loving and healing arms of her husband and son in Arizona. When I flew back to my beach a few weeks later, the ribbons of pain flew behind the jet and tangled between my feet as I disembarked. They knotted in my hair as I walked the beach, searching for my lost loved ones. A little over a month later, a phone call; my mother is in the hospital, and so, I packed my ribbons of pain for another flight to Alaska.
The ribbons of pain were no longer filling every space in my parents home. But as I cared for mom, cooked, cleaned and organized, the ribbons fell from every drawer, cupboard and closet; still there, but moved aside to make room for daily living. The ribbons filled pillows that we rested our heads on each night. We used them to wipe away the tears that flowed, unbidden, from our eyes. I was there for over 4 months, which allowed special time with the four siblings who live near.
Eight months after the return to my Washington beach, I lost my 3 year-old grandson and the fresh ribbons of pain, added to the others, almost smothered me. My mother’s sister died October 1st, adding still another tangle of ribbons. I feel them right now. Those ribbons of pain make it hard to open Maggie’s door; my little RV cave is packed with them. I am safe, as long as I keep them away from my nose and mouth. I’ve accidentally swallowed a few and they almost choked me.
Mom is having hip surgery January 3rd, and a brother is having a potpourri of surgeries in the next few months. I fly out on the 2nd and spend the day in Juneau, the capital city that I have never been to. I look forward to walking up to the huge Mendenhall Glacier, that presents its blueish glory, just a few miles from the airport. There are other wonders close by that I hope to explore. Are you excited to see the photos? I am too! If you have a friend in Juneau who can give me a quick tour between 2 and 6 that day, please let me know.
I’ll be back to my beach in mid-May and I’ve promised to visit Mrs. M soon after. She’s doing well, by the way, and is doing outpatient PT now. I also have a long list of family and friends to visit on my return. Those ribbons that I’ve been writing about? They have been keeping me inside the sorrow of those lost loved ones, and not allowing me room to be with the loved ones who are alive. I know that. I’ve decided to drop them out the airplane on my way back from Alaska:>)
“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
― Charles Dickens
Here’s a beach sunset from a few days ago. Enjoy, please:>)
Let’s make that, “one person,” just to keep my inner humanist happy:>) Other than that one word, I’d say this quote is pretty much the mantra of Word Press. The “You too?” of it is what keeps “real” life support groups, and even service organizations going. I think it is the basic element that underlies many online social media forms.
Sure, we may be trying to build our “platform,” sell our book or our product. We may even be trying to “sell” our way of thinking; our own opinions. But underneath it all, when you post something that makes people think or write, You too? the human to human connection is made.
I’d venture to say that very few of us have the opportunity to share or receive many You too? moments in “real” life (RL). That’s usually where best friends come in. Sadly, many people out there just don’t have best friends, or any friends. I’ve run across several people like that online since I started my blog in March. Too many.
We are still judging people by their outside appearance; their clothes, their cars, their income and their socially acceptable rating on the attractiveness scale. We see none of that online, at least we don’t in the beginning. When we do see a photo, it is usually the best of the best that we can come up with, but often it is a cartoon or our cat or an anonymous design or shadow figure.
So we don’t know if they are a hippy, a banker, a butcher, a baker or a candle stick maker. We just know that we had that You too? feeling about something they wrote. The funny thing is, that it may be months before we find out that their political or religious beliefs are completely, totally, thoroughly OPPOSITE of ours.
Now what? That’s the interesting thing, to me, at least. Now we mentally get out the paper and pen to do the pro/con list, or we dig out the scales, to weigh the heft of “OPPOSITE” against “YOU TOO?” It is my belief that if you have strong opposing beliefs, with little tolerance for the other side, and/or you have a bus load of friends in RL, you exit, stage left. On the other hand, if you are tolerant of other belief systems and/or have few, if any friends in RL, you hang in there.
Is this too simplistic or totally erroneous? What do you think? I confess, I am a cave woman, a loner (duh, you know that). I am very lucky to have 4 long-time best friends. I have solid friends that I have not known as long, and I have an incredibly supportive family. Why they put up with my anti-social ways, I may never know, but they do.
Then, I have this incredibly supportive group of friends online, including some from the previous paragraph. And STILL that You too? matters so much to me. It matters so much, that I don’t care if we have some opposing beliefs. Hell, I am out of step with the strong beliefs of most of my RL family and friends! Really. And judging by Facebook posts, I’m REALLY out of step, or out of line, as they would say if they had the chance.
I will admit that I have stopped following a few people who I did not have the You too? feeling for in the first place, and in the second place, they showed their mean, cruel or intolerant side. I just love saying, “I will not tolerate intolerance!” That just cracks me up. But it is true.
How many creative artists have we missed in our everyday lives? How much knowledge has gone unknown? How many loving, compassionate people have we ignored? They have always been there, sometimes in our own circle. And now they are out there shining and being accepted and winning recognition, and best of all, they are building friendships. I hope they find my blog soon.
My point is that these blogs, and other social media forms, are bringing us closer together. (Okay, maybe not facebook:>) They are testing our tolerance, and I think we are all winning. We are getting to know and become friends with people from all walks of life. When that banker finds out that the guy he’s been sharing poetry with is a damn hippy, he hangs in because they have forged some kind of bond. (I do realize that the banker could BE a hippy.)
Do you see it too? Leave a comment and share your thoughts, please.
Patti, who is not a hippy or a banker:>)
Okay, one totally unrelated photo…
beautiful blue sky and cottony clouds 2 days ago. Westport, WA PHALL PHOTO 2013
“Your body is away from me But there is a window open, from my heart to yours. From this window, like the moon, I keep sending news secretly.” Rumi
When I read this quote on my friend, Elaine’s site, it reminded me of a letter to Paul that I posted back in June. Paul died August 9, 2009 after a year-long battle for his life; first leukemia, then a stem cell transplant, then his body attacked itself with Graft vs Host Disease of the Gut. I was his 24/7 advocate/caregiver in the 3 hospitals, the 4 temp housing units in Seattle and for his final 2 weeks in our bed at home.In our short 4+ years of working, living, loving and building dreams together, we considered ourselves married. Just 7 weeks before his death, I climbed into Paul’s hospital bed at the U of W Hospital, and we made it legal and official. Since his death, I have “sent news secretly” to Paul through my journal. After the death of my little grandson, I didn’t write in my journal very often. The letter below is my catch-up letter, as I resumed my healing writing habits. I’ve recently updated it to include another lost loved one.
Look Paul, the reality is that I have no idea what you do or do not know about what’s been going on around here, and maybe just for me, I need to catch you up. For all I know you could simply be ashes buried deep; away forever, from this well-lit world that I walk in. For all I know you are “up there” bitchin’ about the fancy food and wondering when Earl’s gonna be on. So, that’s the place I’m going to imagine you while I write this little note. I mean, how can I think of you as just gone? Just buried ashes? At the same time, you know I haven’t let the bliss of religion take me over; we’ll just settle for “up there.”
In the place I keep you in my mind, you have all the sweet company of lost pets, your parents, and your former wife, Janet. We talked about it before you left, and I know where the balance of your love lies; Janet was the love before ours, I was the love of your present and future (huh! Some future!). You guys can hang out until I get there and then we’ll all be friends. Janet and I will probably ditch you and go antiquing anyway.
I’m sure my sis, Michaela, has found you by now. She’s the one cracking up, putting on fancy parties and trying to take care of everybody else. Our family friend Tommy is probably with her, and you two are going to get along great—you both have that little sparkle in your eyes that I never did figure out. It does my heart good to think of the three of you having fun together, and you pulling them into your own family circle up there. You’ll probably sit around watching Johnny Carson with my grandma and ogling pretty women during the commercials with my Uncle Eddie. My Aunt Norma has joined you, her parents and her brother, Uncle Eddie, by now. She’ll be telling bawdy jokes that you guys will eat up. She’ll be fighting my sis, Michaela, for snuggling time with Tiven, then the two of them will exchange manicures and recipes. Don’t miss Aunt Norma’s chicken enchiladas or Michaela’s layered chocolate pudding, whip cream and cake dessert!
There’s a precious little 3-year-old blond boy up there too now. He’s Jon’s son, Tiven, born just a few months after you left. That birth was an amazing event, and one of the only things that could get me out of the house. You’ll probably find him snuggled up with my sis, since she’s always been an awesome mommy. He needs one. And Tiven actually knows you, his papa, from all the pictures he’s seen and from all the stories we tell about you. You were so good with Nola and Cora, and I know you’ll just love our Tiven as much.
We could use some help down here, with keeping an eye on and caring for Tiven’s brother, Hunter. If you folks in the know up there could visit him and surround him with your love, I’d appreciate it.
Anyway, honey, I miss you more than you can imagine, and I hope you are dealing with this better than I am. I’m trying and I’m finally back to writing, so don’t nag about that. Just like we talked about, my hope is that our memoir will help others travel that rocky road of love, illness and death with better ease than we did. Well, I better get back to it.
You always loved holidays and had a way of getting me to love them too, so Merry Christmas, my sweet man.
Love you always and forever, Your Patti
Oh, and I know it’s you, sending Tiven to wake me with his little kisses. Send more.