My greatest love affair

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I can’t recall our first meeting but I can tell you it was love at first sight.  My curious gaze met his warm, brown eyes and the rest is history.  I was a year old, and he was a stuffed bear, but ours is a love story for the ages.

Me and Winnie

When I couldn’t fall asleep, Winnie was there.  When I was excited to read my new poem or short story, Winnie was there.  And, sadly, when my roommate’s dog escaped her confines and ran up to my room, Winnie was there.  After some moderate facial reconstruction and many tears on my part, Winnie, or a new version of his former self, was still there, he is still slightly angry that he had bad plastic surgery.

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He may have slightly faded with time, as have I, but he still remains the same stoic character that I have come to rely on over the last 47 years.  We celebrate our birthdays together and, although I have the benefit of one extra year of wisdom since he was carefully crafted by my mother on my first birthday, each year is just as special because he is there to celebrate with me.

This is the fifth year I have been able to write a blog post on our birthday and I have written a tribute to him every year, so why should this year be any different?  He has been my confidant, my best supporter and the shoulder (albeit padded) that I know I can cry on whenever I feel the need to shed a tear or two.   He, like me, has experienced an encyclopedia of reference material when it comes to life events but we have come out remarkably unscathed.

Happy Birthday Winnie!  May the scars of our past help carve the road that leads us into our future.

The most authentic version of me

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Aging is a funny thing.  When we are young, we think we have the world by the balls.  We are confident to the point of being cocky.  To some extent, we feel (or felt) like the world owed us something.  But as we watched the calendar pages keep turning, we realized that life is merely leading us to the place where we were meant to be.

If I were to be honest, I would tell you that, deep down, I always knew I was meant to be the person I am today but somewhere along the path I took to get here, my direction was circumvented by my distorted illusion of reality.  I let others opinions weigh far too heavily on the perception of who I thought I was and it altered my trajectory for a number of years.  Those outside voices did more to define me than the voices I should have listened to that were coming from deep within myself.  I always knew who I was, I just wasn’t confident enough to give her a chance.

Today is a different story.  Perhaps is it different because I am two years away from being fifty.  Maybe it is different because I have finally created a sense of self that is directly related to the person I see in the mirror.  And conceivably, it is different because I have quelled those outside voices and listen only to the voice in my head.  Regardless of how I got here, I have arrived at the place where I feel most comfortable being the person I know I was meant to be.  I make no excuses, I apologize to nobody…..I am simply me.

 

 

 

A decade plus a year

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My mom and I sat at the end of his hospital bed.  My brother had just left to take care of his young family and my mom and I remained.  There was one dim light in the corner that cast shadows on his bed and our two chairs.  The rest of the room was bathed in darkness.  We sat for several hours as my dad continued to have small seizures.  When we couldn’t bear to watch his suffering anymore, I had the night nurse call our doctor at home shortly after midnight to increase his morphine.  The seizures stopped and both my mom and I silently counted the seconds between his breaths.  The last time was 14 seconds and then he just stopped breathing.  It was 2:00 am on March 9th, 2006.

It is a strange experience watching the life slip out of a body that once cradled you as a child and was always there with open arms.  We said our goodbyes and I drove my mom home, neither of us crying because we wanted to be strong for the other.

It took a few months for me to be able to picture my dad as he was in life and not how he was in death.  The body that we said goodbye to in the hospital was not my dad.  My dad was the life of the party.  He was charming and funny.  The men loved to hang out with him and the women loved to dance with him.

Now when I think of my dad, the picture I have in my head is of his infectious smile and the mischievous twinkle in his eye. I think of him tanning in the nude at the end of our dock and using folding chairs for privacy as the boats went by our cottage.  I think of our family spending time tanning on the ice in February when the sun’s warmth grew stronger.   And I think of all the time my dad spent to try to make our lives happy.   I miss you, dad.

 

 

The day in between

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March 8th had never previously had a profound effect on my life.  It had always been a day like any other.  But three years ago, that day marked the separation between the calendar date that my mother and my father passed away.  Although the losses were separated by almost 8 years, the fact did not go unrecognized that the dates of their individual passing almost overlapped.  March 7th was the third anniversary of my mom’s passing and March 9th will be the 11th anniversary of losing my dad.

Time is a funny thing.  Had those moments not occurred within less than 48 hours of each other, eight years later, that single day on the calendar would go by inconspicuously.  It would still be a day like any other.

arch bridge

But today has become a bridge – a connection that holds the memories of both my mom and my dad in a splendid moment of happiness between the two saddest days of our lives.

Today is the day when their laughter is heard and the thoughts of their smiles are etched in our memories.  Those moments shine above the heartbreak of their losses.  Today is the day that will hold us in its embrace, allowing us to live in the contentment of how wonderful life was when they were both still with us.  And today is the day that we can stand on top of that bridge and not feel the pain of loss on either side.

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Do the thing that makes you happy

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We were busy chopping vegetables and chatting as women do while we prepared more freezer crockpot meals for our local food bank.  The conversation hovered over several topics, after peeling and cutting carrots there were some offside comments made about tiny orange hands and the laughter was abundant.

And then a comment was made that we all talked about but I thought about more and more on my drive home.   When she was younger,  the daughter of one of the women had asked her dad, “If you died tomorrow, would there be something you regretted not doing.”  That really stuck with me.

I have been pondering my past and my present and was extremely contented to feel that, if I died tomorrow, I would be extremely happy knowing that I have lived a good life.  I have made mistakes and learned from them.  I married for the wrong reason and got divorced for the right one.  I have always given 110% to everything I do and I have come to understand that doing things for others is the thing that makes me truly happy.  That should have come as no surprise to me since my career in Hospitality has been about taking care of other people.

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Some people spend most of their lives searching for happiness but that euphoric feeling is not as elusive as some believe it to be.  Do the thing that makes you happy.  If you love to read, read.  If you love to play golf, play golf.  If you love to do macrame, do macrame! By doing the thing that makes you happy, you have a much better chance of being happy.  Sure, life likes to throw in a curve ball every now and then to keep us on our toes but life doesn’t run us, we run our lives.

I am who I am and I where I am because I chose to do the things that makes me happy.  And if I cross over and am asked if I lived a good life, I will smile proudly and say “absolutely”.

 

 

 

 

They just needed to point a little harder

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writing

The words are back, the characters are active and the book is alive.  Motivation is a fickle thing.  For months I have been wanting to get back to the book but life had a way of coming first.

Suddenly I find myself overwhelmed by the personalities who are craving attention.  These poor characters have been so neglected that they are doing everything they can to be heard.  The voice recorder on my phone is never far away since these voices seem to have no sense of time.  They pay no attention to the blackness of the night sky and chatter incessantly in my ears.  After not writing a single word about them over the last couple of months, I have recorded almost 5000 words in two days because they do not want to be silent anymore.

I’m happy for their intrusion.  I welcome their chatter.  And I am willing to lose sleep to hear their stories.  Fingers crossed, over the next few months I can keep up this pace and have a book at the end of this.  Keep pointing fellas….it seems to be working.

 

A Change Is Gonna Come

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changing-lives

I have learned not to use the phrase “things happen for a reason”.   It can be a truly offensive statement to those who are struggling to find that reason for their situation, especially in cases of terminal illness.

However, I am a firm believer that people are brought into your life for a reason.  I have blogged before about my marriage and subsequent divorce and how much I learned about myself and my strength throughout that process.   Had my ex-husband not come into my life and had I not said yes to the proposal, my life would be very different today.  I would still be clinging to the notion that it was my purpose in life to “fix” people who I knew were broken.  My courage to walk away from that marriage was the beginning of my evolution.

Perhaps my believing in reincarnation allows me to be so sure that souls connect and somehow find each other in each lifetime.  I have argued this point before when trying to explain the feeling of Deja Vu when you meet a stranger.  It is certainly not a scientifically proven fact but it warms my heart to think that people gravitate towards the souls with whom they are meant to be connected.

I have very strong bonds with certain people in my life.  I know they have changed my life just by their very presence and, in some ways, I know I have changed their lives with my presence.  That connection draws us and keeps us together.  And it is that connection that makes me confident that we were meant to find each other again and prove that change is not always a frightening thing.