From Bitter to Beloved

For starters, this header photo isn’t us, it’s a stock photo. We’re not those ages yet.

I spent a lot of years making bad choices for boyfriends. I allowed certain behaviors where I convinced myself all the good men were married or buried. It kept me in a vicious cycle of continuing to make those choices. It was an awakening when I was very ill in 1995-1996 with a disk infection, IV antibiotics for 6 weeks at home, and a huge laminectomy on my spine. I was bedridden except for 45 minutes a day while wearing a giant body brace. Really sexy, let me tell you.

I had a critical attitude about Valentine’s Day. All the unattached single women did. In the beginning, it was hard to work where every woman around you received these giant, expensive bouquets of roses. Interesting. Many of them read the card, saying it was their husband, and made the comment, “He BETTER do this for me.” Talk about a poor attitude! IMHO, getting flowers because you will make your other’s life hell if you don’t receive them is not out of love. It’s out of fear. I don’t want my love to fear my wrath over a bouquet.

I knew too many women, divorced, raised their kids, and hated men. They went out together and bashed men. I’ve never joined in. I like men, I don’t hate them! So negative. I never wanted to become like that. I could have.

I’ve told the story over and over about the Babe being so kind to me, despite still recovering from that back surgery. I met him in March following the December surgery. He just quit smoking in August after losing his dad to heart disease. Good thing; the Babe was a 3-pack a day smoker and I cannot tolerate smoke. See how things work out?

Convinced all men were the same, my ego in the garbage with a nasty breakup the year before, I believed no one would ever love me. Mom told me what I wanted was not possible. I should have stayed in the terrible marriage. Nope. It was exactly what I always wanted. Amazing. He was attentive, caring, patient with my recovery, and patient with me.

The most important factor in our love is the trust we have in each other. We both feel infidelity is a deal breaker. There is too much of that in the world, IMHO. We get angry with each other, but we clear the air. I sometimes have a hard time with his contented silences. In our house, if Mom was quiet, she was angry. Angry silences were not good. Once in a while, I still need some reassurance about the silence, and the Babe assures me. It’s a weakness I haven’t overcome as yet. We’ll get there.

Learning to love yourself is a key factor in breaking dependency. I grew up during a time when women were incomplete without a man to take care of them. When I got divorced, I was determined to finish college. A lot of men thought college was not even a possibility. Why was I going? I’d find someone to get married. Way to not have a second date, dude. Way to end up in the friend category, man.

The Babe never felt less of a man if I earned more money that he did. He has always been supportive of when I worked, went on LTD, and now as I write. His support knocked me over when he told me my writing was important to him, too. I asked why. He said, “Because it’s important to me.” Wow. Jackpot.

I can tell you if you’re by yourself this Valentine’s Day, it’s ok. I didn’t get flowers either. We’re not going out to dinner, we’re having leftover chili. Neither of us had time to get cards. We talked about what we mean to each other. We talked about how comfortable as we’re doing nothing. Life is an adventure, and it can content us sitting on the deck. That’s what true, trusting love is. Build the trust while you’re in the physical attraction stage. Build the trust while you’re getting to know each other. Talk. And learn about each other. Baby steps turn into a marathon of marriage when it’s right. We’re celebrating 24 years this October. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I am now beloved. And it’s perfect for us. The Babe is beloved, too. It is worth the wait.

Enjoy your day, your company, your solitude and silence. See you tomorrow!

Just a Few More Wake Ups!

Who among us doesn’t remember the excitement we would have before Christmas? Those last few nights of knowing it was only so many more days until we could wake up and see what Santa left for us? We didn’t get a ton of things, but it was thrilling to wait at the top of the stairs, waiting for everyone to go to the bathroom and wash their hands. It was unnerving! Hurry up! Let’s go! We’d run downstairs, and all sit in a spot.

Dad always had on a nice pair of dress pants, and a white shirt and tie. He worked all night the evening before; he went to Mass on the way home. He helped Mom finish up the display Santa left, and he’d sit patiently while we were opening gifts, one at a time, in order of the circle. The littlest kid went first, then the oldest, then Mom and Dad. Then youngest kid again. Once that was all finished, Dad would go upstairs to go to sleep for a few hours. Mom would be cooking, we’d play, walk to Mass at St. Bridget’s, and be quiet so Dad could sleep. Dad would get up by about 2 or 3, we’d eat dinner (always another turkey), have dessert, and Dad got his thermos of coffee ready for work again that night. Then he’d leave for work again.

Although our Christmas didn’t resemble anyone’s we knew, it was normal to us. We’re all very different today, Mom still decorates like crazy, I do a little more sanely, and cookies for neighbors and friends are always in order. This year, I’m baking tomorrow and the next day, I believe. It doesn’t have to rival Mom’s record of 165 dozen (Yes, I said DOZEN!) cookies, because it means love, no matter the quantity. Our nice neighbors will get some delivered by the Babe!

BTW – NEWSFLASH!

My conundrum of the last couple days is solved. I told you about receiving an envelope in the mail Friday. Well, read the backstory here and here, too. (Three days blogs here; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). Now you’re up to date. Until later last evening.

Enter my only girl cousin on the Jewell side of the family: Jilla Jewell Arthur. Jilla and her husband David retired to Minnesota to be nearer their kids and grandkids. These two were teachers in the Omaha Public School System, and are encouraging my writing. Thanks, guys! Anyway, Jilla sent a note telling me it was her who sent the calendar. She recalled a blog where I talked about Dad’s business, and I was so tickled! I knew it had to be from a family member; she was one of the remaining suspects, and bless her heart. She fessed up, and here we are! I knew my most excellent investigative questions and observations would force a confession from someone. HA!

It was such a sweet thing to do during this season of love. My adult cousins on both sides of the family are such good people. I’m so lucky to have them all, they’re all different and all talented, loving people. My brothers and I come from good stock! Thanks, Jilla!

What did I do today? Decorated some more. It takes me a lot longer, but here we are. A bunch of shots to give you a feel for Raabe Ranch, decking the halls, 2021.

I’ve shared this Christmas struggle I’ve dealt with this year to heal myself. I know I’m not the only person who has them. But I also have remembered the joys I’ve had on Christmases past, and shared with you many of those memories by picturing the ornaments and my feelings as I’ve decorated the tree this year. It’s helped me heal. Maybe it’s helped you or at least encouraged you to enjoy your decorations this year; or baking a certain cookie. It can even be purchased baked goods. It doesn’t matter, home made or not. It’s still a Christmas memory. Please, salvage your good memories this year. They help you get through the special days. You may feel better after you remember the memories and vow to make new ones this year. And next year.

The new door wreath is from the Pioneer Woman Collection at Walmart. This is a perfect wreath for us; I have a collection of her dishes, glassware, and I’ve named our large lot “Raabe Ranch.” It speaks loudly of my present life; the life with the Babe; our wonderful present and future. That’s where we all need to look. Our present. Our future. It will be as good as we make it. Have a sparkly evening. And I’ll see you tomorrow. Be careful out there!

(Mumbling) Monday?

It could have been. It very easily could have been. Instead, I forgave myself for being human. For sometimes forgetting where I’ve put things. It’s happened a couple times. The first time, I found what I was looking for by simply moving something else. Like magic! There it was.

The second time wasn’t as magical. I emptied the middle desk drawer in the Babe’s office, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find our Safe Deposit Keys. Oh boy, this will be expensive. Not good. I proceeded to beat myself up, which was old behavior. I could feel my normal good mood start to ebb. It’s going to be rain all day, don’t need it to be in a bad mood! NO! I called the Babe.

He immediately encouraged me. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok. Really? Well, yes. Yes it is. Not a big deal. I came in off the ledge. As we were talking, I mentioned some things we had at home that I would place back in the Safe Deposit Box. Passports. Other important papers. I went to the jewelry armoire and opened the bottom drawer. I removed the travel belt I received from a friend’s belongings after she died. It has two pockets. One pocket had the Passports. The other? It had the Bank Envelope with the Safe Deposit Box Keys in it. I thanked our friend Sharon Reidmann over and over for helping St. Anthony find my “lost” items. Whew! I can almost hear Sharon tell me, “You need to be neater.” True. I do. Working on it.

Note to self: Start writing down where we hide stuff. We’re getting to that age where we honestly may not remember everything as we used to. Better safe than sorry! My Catholic upbringing yielded a quick prayer to the Saint in charge of lost items. We Catholics have a Saint for everything. Thank goodness. Not sure who the Saint is for memory. Anyone?

Easter will be upon us in another couple weeks. Growing up Catholic, we learned about all the days surrounding Easter. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and how we remembered each of them on their own special days. There was a lot of ritual connected with them, and somehow, I miss all that. My older brother was an altar boy, I was a choir girl, and our presence was expected at all these ceremonies. We were there, front and center.

Two years in a row, my mother became deathly ill, and we went to stay at our Grandma Jewell’s, while Mom was in the hospital. First time, on Palm Sunday, she had a bad gall bladder attack. She had surgery the next day, and was hospitalized for over a week. The Second time, she was hospitalized and put in traction for her back. Bed rest and traction, along with muscle relaxers ruled her life for another week. She repeatedly counted the tiles in the ceiling. She truly thought she’d go insane.

We attended Grandma’s Church for all the services on those special days. We must have been out of school, but I truly don’t recall getting the whole week off, usually we had school Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and were out Thursday and Friday. Grandpa had already passed away, so I know he wasn’t available to take us to school. I’ll have to check on those details.

When the third year rolled around, we were wondering what would cause Mom to be hospitalized that year? It became sort of a joke, wondering what would happen next. Nothing ever did. Good thing, Dad was lost without her to keep the house running smoothly. She did a good job.

As I remain grateful for finding my lost item, thank you for reading today. Take it easy on yourself first. Then a deep breath and calm down. You will find what is lost, even if it’s yourself! Thank you for reading. I appreciate it more than you know. Find some brightness in this gloomy day. The grass will need mowing if the rain keeps up! Take care of each other out there. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Courteous. See you tomorrow!

Shower-y Sunday

It started raining yesterday and has yet to quit. It’s a pleasant sort of rain, not one to be a gully washer. The creek behind us is almost full. With 2 – 3 inches of rain expected total, it doesn’t surprise me. We think this will really green up our grass. The back yard will muddy up. Goldie has worn two paths while playing catch. It’s ok. When you have kids or dogs, it’s expected. It’ll grow back someday.

A couple days ago, I wrote about Cynicism. Interesting topic, I turned the page this morning in my “Silver Disobedience” book by Dian Griesel. It’s a collection of her writings, blogs, and random topics on aging. She has a blurb about cynicism. It can be the only thing that makes us old. It replaces contentment with bitterness. Trust is replaced by distrust. Doubt replaces trust. Pessimism overtakes optimism. Sarcasm dominates. Faith and trust must be worked on.Old age happens at any time, any age. Avoiding cynicism is the key to remaining forever young.

I would highly recommend following her. While she is a model for the famous Wilhelmena Modeling Agency, she doesn’t concentrate on outer beauty. She concentrates on attitude and the care we should all give our bodies and soul. She’s a breathtakingly beautiful woman in her 60s. Imagine that! Once I saw her fabulous head of silver/gray hair, I knew it was ok to keep letting my COVID-coiffe continue growing. It’s now acceptable! Who knew?

I love this part of my life. It’s so awesome, the older grandkids are measuring how close they are to us in height. Some are very close. Whenever any of my cousins bragged they were as tall as Grandma Bobell, she’d say, “Well, that’s no big feat! I’m only four feet ten inches!” And she laughed her funny laugh. Just kept giggling to herself. She cracked herself up! I loved her laugh.

I’m wishing we could celebrate our granddaughter Kayla’s birthday, too. They are experiencing a lot of snow today. We always loved birthdays. I always requested a Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake. I did that to be the direct opposite of my older brother, who always wanted plain angel food. What was your favorite birthday cake?

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

It’s tough now to have a birthday cake. The Babe’s birthday is two days after mine. His favorite cake is German Chocolate. I love to make one for him, and the recipe on the Baker’s Chocolate package is the one my Grandma Jewell used to make. It was fabulous. Lots of butter! Oh my. Maybe I’ll make one this year. It can be frozen, then we wouldn’t consume it all at once. Sounds reasonable, right?

FInally, today I’m packing away my snowmen. They’re gathered on the coffee table, and I shouldn’t need too much time to do that. Just accomplishing something makes a huge difference. I think we might have the fireplace on sometime today, it’s pretty chilly. Soon it will be time to poke around outside and see what’s starting to grow in the flower beds. A favorite time of year.

Thank you for catching up today. Remember, whatever your age, check your attitude. It’s worth it to be positive and have a good outlook. I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Safe out there!