Posted in #bloganuary, Childhood

Write about a dream you remember.

This prompt is very difficult for me as I rarely remember my dreams. I wish I did. I love when I do, mostly. But I’m not a great sleeper, never have been, so maybe that’s why I don’t remember them.

I can tell you a very weird dream I had as a child. It was most definitely a nightmare. I was sleeping in a room with two twin beds, and I think my dad was in the other bed. I could see his outline in the dark, his back facing me. I knew that if I moved even a muscle, even to blink, the room would implode killing him. This was a recurring nightmare, showing itself perhaps every five or six months until I guess I finally outgrew it. But that’s not the weird thing.

I’m third of 11 children. I have a brother Mike who is 16 years younger than me. Finally adults, one night we were all sitting around a campfire reminiscing about growing up in such a large family and comparing differences and similarities between us. As I began telling about my recurring nightmare as a child, Mike suddenly interrupted saying, “I had that same nightmare!”

What??

And then he went on to describe his experience, the absolute terror of having to hold himself so still in case any slight movement would make the room blow up with his dad in it.

I couldn’t believe it. Mike likes to pull your leg and is very good at keeping a straight face when he does. But he swears it happened to him, and more than once. And what he added to his narrative jibed with what I’d experienced but not yet spoken aloud.

I’m relieved I don’t have that dream anymore, but I will always be curious how two siblings, so far apart in years, could possibly have had and still remember the same recurring nightmare.

Posted in #bloganuary

Interview a fictional character.

Me: Thank you for sitting down with me. So, Moira Rose, what is it about you, do you think, that so many women seem to identify with?

Moira: When one of us shines, all of us shine.

Me: I think what I like most about you is your straightforwardness, your no-holds-barred approach to your relationship with others. Have you found that this directness turns some people off?

Moira: That’s exactly the kind of paranoia that makes me weary of spending time with you.

Me: You went from the upper 1% to … well, to this; pretty much nothing, living here in Schitts Creek. And yet you appear to have kept your dignity and your family intact. How do you do it?

Moira: I’ve been gutted. I’ve been stripped of every morsel of pleasure I’ve earned in this life. Who knows what will befall us tomorrow? You could be hit by a Mack truck or bopped on the head by a tiny piece of space debris. One must champion oneself and say, ‘I am ready for this!

Me: But how did you not fall apart?

Moira: Who has time amidst all the chaos?

Me: When your big downfall occurred, what was uppermost in your mind?

Moira: Oh, God. I’d kill for a good coma right now.

Me: Your husband, John, seems to always have a very positive attitude. He tries to make the best of a very bad situation. How does he do it?

Moira: Good men always win.

Me: Your daughter…

Moira: Alexis… something Rose.

Me: … yes, and your son, David, seem to have an interesting relationship with you. What do you say to them after something like this?

Moira: We have no interest in what’s going on with you.

Me: You starred in a soap for many, many years. How did you rise above the gossip mongers?

Moira: Gossip is the devil’s telephone. Best to just hang up.

Me: Do you have a favorite season?

Moira: Awards.

Me: Okay. Well, I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me today. Thank you.

Moira: Let’s go. I’ve had enough waking hours for one day.

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The blogging challenge to keep you motivated and start the new year on the “write” track!
Posted in #bloganuary, Thoughts

Feelings make memories

“People will forget what you say. People will forget what you do. But people will never forget how you make them feel.”

Maya Angelou

I love this quote. It is such a true statement. Be it an argument, a tender moment, a scary scene, or a hilarious joke, you will forget exactly what was said or perhaps even the cause, but you will remember the feeling associated with it and be able to pull that feeling up in your memory and your heart.

I think feelings are what make memories. My daughter claims to have very little recollection of her childhood; she was always looking forward to what’s next. As an adult who loves to travel, I’ve suggested to her that she absolutely live in the moment, look around and place her entire self there and feel; acknowledge any event, good or bad, appreciate your place in that scene, and see if it helps when trying to recall it. I think it has worked for her. Recounting her last solo trip, I could feel in the telling the excitement of kayaking in Venice and discovering the salt flats of Malta. She felt her memories.

Conversely, I believe this quote is exactly why men claim women have the memory of an elephant when it comes to an argument. I’m convinced it’s not that we remember the argument or even why there was an argument. We remember it because of how it made us feel.

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The blogging challenge to keep you motivated and start the new year on the “write” track!
Posted in #bloganuary, Randomness

Time travel? In your dreams!

At first glance, this would be a quick and easy question to answer. In fact, it sounds like fun, right? Especially if you could go back in time knowing what you know now. Once you’ve decided on a time, you must attempt to answer ‘why?’ This, I find, is more difficult.

Let’s say at this stage in my 66-year life I decide I would like to backtrack several years and perhaps change my decision on something of importance. Seems simple enough; right? The old saying, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’ comes to mind. The ‘why’ is because I now believe I made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons. And so I do. I go back in time with the full knowledge of the present day and choose another path.

I’m now thrown back into the unknown, trading the devil I knew for the devil I don’t. I don’t know. Perhaps I didn’t go back far enough. Now is the conundrum of knowing what I know, and more importantly WHO I know, and risking NOT knowing them with a different decision.

I think I’ll go to the future, still knowing what I know. But how far? At 66 years old, if I go TOO far, well, that could be pretty disastrous. If I go, say, 10 years to 76, do I really want to see my 76-year-old self before I have to? 66 is tough enough!

It’s funny that this particular scenario came up today. It has put things into perspective at a time when my perspective has been clouded with so many issues and emotions that I can’t see the forest for the trees. God and life work in mysterious ways.

Believe me, I love to travel. It’s right up there with that first cup of coffee or sitting at the beach. I love everything about it. But I think I’ll leave time travel for my dreams.

The blogging challenge to keep you motivated and start the new year on the “write” track!
Posted in Childhood, holidays, Moving forward, Thoughts

And so it begins…

It’s that time of year again. I can’t complain since last year was COVID where nothing was the same as before. But it does seem like ‘it’ starts earlier and earlier every year. Where I live in a 55+ community, I actually saw a Christmas tree in the window of a neighbor’s home around Halloween.

When I was younger, every holiday seemed like a separate event to me. Now, with retailers so aggressively promoting Christmas earlier and earlier, it feels like all the preceding holidays take either a back seat, or they are simply whizzed through to get to The Big Event. Interestingly, while shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, I searched high and low for decorations for the table and a little something for the yard. I went to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and found nothing! (I didn’t try Walmart. I just can’t.) When did they stop Thanksgiving displays?

And so now the outside Christmas decorations are beginning to go up around me. I’m tempted to join in. In fact, I was this close to putting up the tree for Thanksgiving! You have to understand; when we were kids – hand to God – we did not get a tree until Christmas Eve! (Of course I now realize it was because the trees were so cheap by then.) We would then spend the day happily decorating it, totally oblivious to the fact that this was not what every other family did.

Thank God I have a robust relationship with Amazon. I have been Christmas shopping for months. In fact, I’m pretty much done but for a few things here and there — oh, and stocking stuffers. So it’s not like I didn’t know it was coming, and coming fast. It’s just that when it does come so fast, I somehow want to slow it down, kind of stave it off for as long as I can, not because I don’t like Christmas, but because I do.

I wonder if it’s because these end-of-year holidays are just that. They are the beginning of the end of the current year, rolling us into the next. It feels sometimes like it’s an accelerating somersault that begins with Labor Day and rolls us through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, only to land us seated, feet splayed, hands braced, and eyes crossed, bracing us for the new year where we’ll start all over again.

Posted in Childhood, Family, Lucky Eleven

Tradition: the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.

Sixty-plus years ago at a small cottage built by my maternal grandfather on a bluff overlooking Lake Huron, my siblings and a handful of cousins marched in an impromptu Fourth of July parade put together by the various adults in attendance. My dad, belting out some of the traditional patriotic songs and waving a large flag, led the small contingent of children around the cottage while the grown ups sang “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “You’re a Grand Ole’ Flag,” and any other marching-type song they could think of. Everyone trailed happily along waving little flags totally unaware of why, just having fun marching behind the big guy. This went on year after year after year. As the family grew, the parade – eventually nearly 30 strong – became a favorite tradition along the beach shore. Somewhere along the line someone furnished a long string of gas station flags that we all held onto while dad would holler, “Tighten up that line!” Lining up in front of the flag pole, our hands over our hearts, we would then recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Years later, as we all got older, the parade finally culminated with the bravest of the brave marching into the cold waters of the Great Lake, dad marching on until his hat floated on the water.

And now we see my brother Terry carrying on the family tradition this past Fourth of July at his own cottage on Lake Huron with his own kids and grandkids. I clipped these pictures from a video he shared where we could hear him singing the same songs he learned so long ago. Just for fun, he’s the baby in the last picture at the top, where mom is carrying him, more than 50 years ago, at the end of the parade line.

I know there wasn’t a single kid, myself included, who didn’t look at his video and smile. We’re all so grateful to see dad in Terry. It brought back such happy memories of times so long ago; times gone by, but certainly not forgotten. Tradition.

(Pardon the grainy images clipped from old 8mm movies thankfully filmed by my uncle all those years ago.)

Posted in Family & Friends, Thoughts

My gang

My sister has a group of friends she met when she was a teacher at the same Catholic school she attended as a kid. I think there’s four of them that are each others’ support group. She calls them her posse. I like that. I think it’s great to have a posse.

Me, I have a gang. Not a big gang, mind you, though the name itself would suggest that. No, it’s a small gang; sort of a gang of two. But between us, we’ve weathered births, adoptions, divorce, and heartbreaking death; life at its best and worst; while helping raise each other’s kids. They say it takes a village. My family was my village, but she is my person. She knows my darkest secrets, and I hers. After more than 30 years, I’ve learned that she will caveat to the point where I often just make a quick mental note where she started so I can get her back on track when needed. We’ll run the gamut of raucous laughter to silent sniffles, each of us knowing what the other one needs at any particular time. We will challenge each other, make us face our fears, always offer support and of course unconditional love. We can go for months on end and not talk with each other outside of maybe a text or two saying, ‘Hey, I’m still here, are you?’ And then out of the blue one of us calls the other, and we’re on the phone for hours asking about family and friends, the fun and the not-so-much-fun that’s been going on since we last spoke.

We are pretty much total opposites in many ways; it’s really a wonder we clicked as we did. And while we are the same age, she grew up in a very dysfunctional family of five where all the kids (three boys, two girls) had male names. Alcoholism ran rampant in her clan who all lived within miles of each other. Raised on a farm in mid Michigan in the 60s and 70s, hard work was no stranger to her. While the rest of her siblings stayed close to home, at 18 she left for the dance world and never returned, forever the outcast who dared to choose a different, better life. I was raised in a tight Irish-Catholic clan with 10 siblings, lots of love and laughter, pretty much oblivious to the lifestyles of other families. But I had my own struggles growing up. With six kids in eight years, there wasn’t much individual attention to spare for a needy little girl. We didn’t have much, and I wasn’t popular in school. It was a strict upbringing that included church, chores, curfews, but we knew we were loved.

She (given name Dale) was and is athletic. I am not. She has two children through adoption while I gave birth to three (she was there with me for the last one). She is the Diane Keaton to my Annette Benning, good at acting as if all is well when it’s not. We both weathered destructive marriages, and we are now both retired with grandchildren. We live a thousand miles apart, but we also know if one of us were in need, we would be right there for the other. We can agree to disagree on many things with no judgement while we encourage, advise, empathize, and console.

There’s a quote from Grey’s Anatomy where this ‘my person’ idea started, and I think it says it all:

This is life. Bad things happen. You find your people, you find your person, and you lean on them.

Meredith, Grey’s Anatomy

So she is my person. I have other close friends that I love dearly along with many acquaintances, and I try my best to stay in touch, even if it’s just a quick text or email. All our lives are constantly changing. After being alone for 11 years she has found a nice man she enjoys spending time with. She’s in a really good place right now, deservedly so, and I am more than happy for her happiness. I have remarried. I am in a good place as well, though there’s a bit of a ‘limbo’ feel to my days while my 94-year-old mother lives out the rest of her days with us. We are far apart in distance but always close in heart.

I love her. She is my person, my gang.

Posted in Family, Lucky Eleven, Mom

The other side of hospice

My mother may be dying. Five words that, when said to myself, feel like they don’t mean anything; at least not anything real.

My 94-year-old mother has been living here with us in Florida since last Thanksgiving. She had previously lived with my brother in Michigan for the past 14 years, minus the winter months with me, since my dad’s passing. But circumstances brought her to us for longer than the typical winter months, and now she is in her bedroom, in a hospital bed, and for all I know, she is dying.

Did I mention I work for hospice? I know about people dying. I’ve talked to them or their caregivers and I’ve offered words of reassurance. But what did I know? My dad was on hospice in the hospital where he died, but only for a few days, and it seems far removed from this. This is different.

Mom is now on our hospice. She has an angel of a nurse and a wonderful aide. She has all the accoutrements of a hospital room, but she’s home, with us. And instead of hearing the reassuring words I’d uttered to others, I have tunnel vision. I feel inept. Like I’m not doing enough, but I don’t know what enough is.

She surprises us. She’ll be totally wiped out and barely able to get up enough strength to use the bedside commode. She’ll be in bed all night and all day eating and drinking little to nothing. And then suddenly I’ll see her dressed, coming out of the bedroom smiling, saying, ‘Hi, Honey!’ She has raised 11 children, worked tirelessly in and outside the home, traveled near and far. She is part of that generation that feels she’s not supposed to stop.

I’ve been trying to keep my 10 siblings updated as much as possible. The challenge seems to be, though, that my dire narration is often followed by a ‘never mind’ report making me feel foolish, like I’m jumping the gun or something.

She says this is dumb. “This is so dumb.” “I just wanna feel better.” “If I’m gonna kick the bucket, I wish I’d just kick the bucket.” I have no response to that. Part of me wants her to join her beloved Charlie, whom she has had to live without for 14 years. Of course, the selfish part of me wants her to rally once again, to go to breakfast with us, to drive to the ocean and watch the surf. And it could happen.

Being on this side of hospice is eye-opening and humbling. I can do this part, caring for her, making her comfortable, accepting the thanks from my brothers and sisters for something I’d have fought them for. This part is easy.

I’m not sure about the next part. She’s the last of them. She deserves to go peacefully to her husband and loved ones gone before. My mind knows this absolutely. I want it for her, too.

But my heart…

I hope I’m as strong as I need to be.