Tag Archives: SoCs. #SoCS

Whether family or strangers

My stepfather’s memorial service was today. Not many in attendance, as we expected. He kind of kept to himself and never made any friends around here. My mom was enough for him. Hell, even I didn’t really get to know him until he was dying. Once I did, I regretted not getting to know him in that intimate way earlier. I had so much time to do it,  but I just didn’t. I spent the past few weeks getting things together for the service. I collected photos to make a slide show, I gathered stories from his life to include in the obituary, and I went through his military records, hoping to find something to frame and put up in the church. Boy, did I find some things! Letter after letter of recognition from Colonels and Commanders, detailing his outstanding work ethic. Multiple medals and certificates…all kept neatly organized, tucked away in an unassuming black messenger bag in his desk, never to be spoken of. I can’t believe I’ve known this guy for over 20 years and never knew these things about him. I wish I had paid attention. I feel the same way about not recognizing the love he and my mom shared, when it was right in front of my face all these years.

I had a patient the other day….this old guy who’s starting to decline in his health status, basically just due to old age. Such a sweetheart. Last week, he told me the story of how he met his wife, talking about them going to different states to finish school and still stayed in love, got married and he went off to war. I saw him again a few days ago, and as I was leaving, he started to tell me the same story. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’d already told me, but I did have 5 other patients to see, so I inched towards the door as he spoke. I realized something familiar about his story. It reminded me of my grandmother, and how she used to repeat the same story, over and over and over, as she neared the end of her life. It was of how she met my grandfather and the story of them getting married. This guy was telling me the same thing. He needed someone to hear it, I think, so the story would be remembered. That’s important information, you know. So, I inched back towards him and listened to the rest, smiling at the love in his face as he recalled his sweetheart. It came time go again, and I happened to notice a unique cane by his door. It had an American Bald Eagle carved into the handle, and his name down the shaft, along with the dates of World War Two and his Air Force picture embossed on it. Damn, this guy is a WWII vet and I didn’t even know it. These guys are almost gone. I’m so lucky to be able to come across them at work, because it won’t be long before there are none left to tell us stories. He talked about the different bombers he flew, and where he went. He could have talked all day,  and I could have listened, but I did have to go. I told him my stepfather was a Vietnam Vet in the Air Force and he nodded at me. Sometimes, you don’t need words.

I’ve been thinking about him every day since…especially today. The Air Force Honor Guard folded the flag and played Taps at the service. I sat next to my mom as they presented the flag to her. She cried and trembled the whole time. God, she loved that man so much. Just like my patient loved his wife, and my grandmother loved my grandfather. My mom has been telling us the story of how she fell in love with him a lot lately.  These love stories are everywhere, and I just never noticed them. I didn’t get it. I think it might be because I truly didn’t think love like that was real, because it’s just so foreign to me. I can appreciate them now. I hold them close, whether they are told by family or strangers. I can finally feel them…

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s stream of social consciousness Saturday.

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Self Care…It’s All or Nothing

It’s all or nothing. That’s how things seem to be going around here. Just two months ago, I had nothing to write about. I had a lot of time on my hands. Things were peaceful in my soul. Then, life happened. My stepfather died last week. Yesterday, I found my mom on the floor of her living room. After spending the day in the ER, I took her home with me, nursing her vertigo and nausea. Caregiver stress is real, people. Be careful. My dryer vent must be clogged, because it smells like burned rubber when it’s running. I’m sure I can take the vent apart and clean it, but just haven’t had the time or energy, between caring for my mom and driving the boys around. I finally wrote my stepfather’s obituary last night, and ordered his funeral cards this evening. I’ve made his funeral arrangements. I need new tires on my car, but have to work all week, so not sure when I’m going to get them put on. I’m tired.

Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? Well, believe it or not…it isn’t. My soul is still at peace. How? I can’t say for sure, but I’d like to think it’s from my “practice”.  I’ve been committed to my mediation practice, to therapy, to eating healthier, to Reiki, to enjoying purposeful interactions with my loving and nurturing friends, to learning how to play my drums, to prayer… all the things I do to nurture and love myself. My yoga teacher always tells us we can’t keep pouring water out for everyone else in our lives if we don’t refill the pitcher… meaning, if you give all your love and energy away, it will run out. So, I do these things to fill my pitcher up. This allowed me to care for my stepfather, to care for my mother, to care for my children, to care for my patients…because I care for myself right along with them. I fully commit to my practice, because I want to be the best caregiver I can for those I love. I don’t want to care for them just a little bit, so I don’t let me care for myself just a little bit. Self care… it’s all or nothing. It doesn’t fix everything, but it fixes enough. Give it a try… a peaceful soul is definitely as good as it sounds…

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS May 20/17

 

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Cannibal Hamster

I can’t really remember too many Christmas gifts received as a kid. I mean, I got gifts, I just can’t remember most of them now that my brain is old. I know, “old” is relative…all depends on who you’re asking.  Anyway, when I think of childhood Christmas gifts, one year always sticks out. I must have been around 8 or so. I can remember waking up, putting on the pink robe my mom made for me, and running out to see the goods. I was full of anticipation without having a clue as to what might be waiting for me. I rounded the corner and saw this contraption on the table. It was plastic and had a round, wheel-type thing in it. I looked at it quizzically, wondering if it even had anything to do with Christmas. It wasn’t wrapped. No bow. Just this weird plastic cage-like thing with wood chips on the bottom…wait a minute, those are hamsters! Oh my God, I got hamsters! I can not BEGIN to accurately convey to you how damn excited I was to get those two rodents! They were both girls, and it only took one look to know exactly what to name them… Cecilia and Candice. Why, you ask? No freaking idea. Where in the hell did I come up with those names? I’m pretty sure if there was a book titled “Perfect Hamster Names”, you would not see those two in there. Maybe in the “Perfect Princess Names” book, but not the hamster one. But hey, don’t judge me. Those were my babies. I was in love. They were mine.

I loved those girls. Even though I found out the hard way that hamsters are nocturnal and like to run on that damn wheel ALL NIGHT LONG. I dealt with it, though. We all know sleepless nights are a big part of having babies. Yes, I was their mom. Just go with it.

I’m not too sure how long I had them for. It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re a kid. Especially when you’re a busy mom like I was. Hamsters are a lot of work…cleaning out the cage, cuddling them, putting in new wood chips, cuddling them, filling the water bottle, cuddling them…you get the picture.  Anyway, one day I went to cuddle them, and shit suddenly got REAL (cue the horror movie music)….Candice was freaking GNAWING Cecilia’s leg off! What the HELL?!! I screamed. My heart went in my throat. I looked at Candice and she stared right into my eyes as she ate her sister’s leg. It was really kind of scary, to tell you the truth. She was looking at me as if to say, “You’re next”. I ran out to my mom, crying hysterically, telling her about the cannibalism going on in my bedroom. She came up with some story about how Cecilia was probably sick and animals can sense when another animal is sick and they eat them. Whaaaat?! Why the hell do they do THAT??!! She said things are different in nature. She was so chill about it, so I figured I’d better calm down. But really, I was NOT calm. We ended up putting a piece of wood in the cage to separate them. I stood vigil at the cage for days. It was so sad to see them apart. I’d never seen them sleep alone. They were always snuggled up together. I wondered what Cecilia was thinking. Did she understand why Candice was eating her? Was she as sad as I was about it? I’d hold her and carefully stroke her without touching her chewed up leg. I stopped touching Candice. She scared the shit out of me.

Cecilia died not too long after. I held a funeral for her in the back yard, in my little unofficial pet cemetery…you know, the one that held dead frogs, caterpillars and the like. I held a memorial service for any creature I’d held that then died. Listen, I did not have many friends back then, so cut me some slack.

The weirdest part of this story is that I can’t remember the rest of it. What happened to Candice once I was scared shitless of her? Did she die? Well, of course she died…it was 37 years ago. I mean, did she die right after? A long time after? Did I just have her for awhile? Did I ever pick her up again? I have no idea. All I can remember is being scared of her, resenting her as I heard that wheel spin during the night.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness. The prompt was “Ham”. Check out the link below to learn more.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 18/17

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