Monday, Momentarily

The night was pretty wild. The windows were open as it was warm, and the wind was blowing like crazy. The more the wind blew, the more I coughed. That led to little sleep. Hard to believe, but if I faced the window, even though I was five feet away from it, my hair blew around and got messed up. Seriously. I wouldn’t joke.

So, I thought I’d be cured this morning, but not so lucky. I can’t even tell you what I did today, either. It wasn’t write. Except for now. I am nearly finished with “More Busting Bad Guys,” though. It’s interesting recalling some of the awful crimes in Omaha’s past. And people seem to always thing they’re smarter than the law. Guess again!

I didn’t watch “Price is Right,” today, but watched old reruns of “Chicago PD,” which I really like. No real nap today, so maybe I’ll sleep a long time tonight. I’ll maybe go for some ice cream later, too. It’s a required food when you’re sick. Even with congestion. It’s a law somewhere, or it should be. Ice cream makes everything better. Even viral infections.

*Actually, I’m sure the medical folks will tell you no, clear juices and frozen pops are better, but I’m talking emotional feeling better. LOL.

I did email the doctor, they said with no fever, it’s probably viral, so just drink plenty of fluids, blah, blah, blah. At least I didn’t have to pay for a visit. Hoping tomorrow will see the end of this stuff, whatever it is.

What do you remember when you were home sick from school as a kid? I don’t recall staying home sick after my two younger brothers were born. I think I got sick with all the kid stuff of the 50s and 60s before third grade. We had sinus infections, but the folks called them “colds” and we’d still go to school and Dad would work. We did not use tissues, but handkerchiefs. We all had a stack of them, one for every day. Mom washed them; I had to iron them all. Yes, iron them. All.

It was good teaching about ironing small things, before she let me do my blouses, etc. The boys didn’t have to iron, but I think they learned eventually.

Mom’s hard and fast rule was if you were home sick, you were Home; Sick. In bed. In your pajamas. No TV. I remember being very lonely. I was the kind of kid who wanted someone with them. Mom wasn’t too in favor of that when there was nothing wrong. Usually she sent Dad in to talk to me. He’d play checkers with me. In fact, he taught me to play. I loved playing checkers with him. I made sure to teach Addison. We still do that sometimes, it’s fun.

I remember taking the note back to school from Mom telling the teacher I was well. I guess it wasn’t necessary, but it was a rule. I always wondered who’s Mom would not know they went back to school? Very few Mom’s worked back then. I had no idea.

In high school, I had perfect attendance, until senior year. Our mom was in the hospital, and my older brother was supposed to take me to school after I got my little brothers off to school. My older brother became ill, went to the hospital, and I had no way to get to school. Go figure. I hated that I got that far, and missed out on a major award, as they say.

All that is in the distant past now. All that matters is we take each day as it comes and make the most of it. My ex-husband’s family has lost another extended member; Dean Hascall, former husband of Jeannie Tomasek Hascall, has passed away. He will be missed by his wife, and children. Life is indeed very short. Hug your loved ones every day you can. You never know.

Have a beautiful evening. I’m finishing reading my book and hoping for a full, good night of sleep. No wind. No issues. No anything. See you tomorrow.

Saturday. Reflecting and Remembering.

So, a year ago, this happened. I forgot about it yesterday, but the header photo is of something I have on my window sill above the sink. It’s my reminder of Lenny and Kris and of happier times.

It occurred to me, a year from now, all those grieving the loss of someone right now will be in a different place. The tricky thing is to not let grief make you bitter, retreat into yourself, or worse yet, never speak of your loved one. Mom didn’t want to hear us talk about Dad when she was around. She became angry. We knew Dad wasn’t a saint, but we were not allowed to grieve as a family. It was eye opening when we finally figured it out.

Another thing that helps me heal from anything is music. It heals my soul, which is improving daily. I’ll go back and forth, it’s normal. Some days you feel relief they’re not suffering anymore, some days you’re sad you can’t see them anymore. Let your good memories get you through. And music.

Janet was in the choir at Immaculate Conception Church. She enjoyed that, and said, “My mom always told me singing in church meant you prayed twice.” That was long after I left the area. I believe the words to songs can be prayers for your healing. It’s why I listen sometimes all day long. If I’m low on energy, the Music Channel folks have such variety, I like Jazz or Smooth Jazz. It is usually rock and roll, classic R & R or local artists.

How lucky, the Babe and I have tickets to another Billy McGuigan show, this one: Pop Rock Orchestra. Remember, back in the day? You could hear the orchestra in the background of most songs. Strings and horns add so much to guitars, keyboards, and drums. Try it, you’ll love it! I know a lot of great music will envelop me tonight, like a giant hug, and I’ll feel better. The hard week we just finished will be a distant memory, and we’ll be stronger again. We’ll have new things to tackle this week. Music is the cure for much of what ails us. C’mon down to Sumter Amphitheater tonight. Starts @7:30 p.m.

Have a lovely evening, I know I will! See you tomorrow.

Grief. Confusing?

Yes, it is. There are several stages, and you may rock back and forth between them. One minute, you may recall wonderful memories, and suddenly, painful memories rear their ugly head. The feelings are contradictory, and totally normal. The key is to learn how to navigate among them. Ignoring them does not work. I tried.

Applying alcohol or drugs to the pain is counterproductive and causes other problems. My siblings and I tried that (no drugs for me, just alcohol and withdrawing), along with never talking about Dad. Mom usually became angry when we did. Years later, we individually compared notes, and learned a lot. We also learned to share the happy memories and enjoy talking about him. It’s much healthier and we could move on then.

The thing is, the feeling of choice for many people is anger. All that does is try to blanket fear. That doesn’t work, either. Fear is usually unfounded, unless it’s a twelve foot grizzly bear in the Montana wilderness growling in your face. Then fear is very justified.

Fears originate from the unknown. Often folks who are fearful think they need to execute every move according to their rigid plan. Our plans, foiled by life, often are useless. Yes, knowing what your life work is and achieving the education and experiences to realize that plan is great. Sometimes, the plan, spoiled by life events like death, loss of financial support, unexpected pregnancy, and a host of other things, does not work out.

That doesn’t make you or me a failure. You will feel grief. Your plan cannot work right now, but maybe later. Maybe you need a better plan, a different timetable or different source of revenue.And yes, you can be angry with the situation. Remaining that way will affect your life in very negative ways. You will become negative. Getting through the anger is hard work, but worth it.

Feeling guilt for things said or not said, things done or not done is also normal. Those are mistaken sentiments, especially if you feel, “I should have . . . ” or if you feel as if “I’m being punished because I . . . “. God doesn’t play with us like that. He wants to comfort us.

At long last, the frustration, exhaustion and fog lifts and we can accept the change the loss has caused in our life. It is our life, and it won’t be the same. Sure, we’ll still be sad from time to time. We won’t find ourselves lost in it, though. Life goes on. We need to live ours while we have the opportunity.

Acceptance does not mean forgetting the loved one or the dream. It means putting it in a place where you can remember without pain or anger. Acceptance means the loss is a fact in life. An ultimate fact. And you have healed your way there.

Thank you for reading about something most of us would rather avoid. Living again is the best result of all. See you tomorrow!

“Grief is Messy”

I finally figured out why I feel so out of sorts and am stalled in my writing. I believe it’s because I’m grieving. My brain is saying, “Duh!” And I may be afraid. Afraid of running out of time. Afraid of losing the Babe. And afraid of not being missed after my demise. Foolish woman. I cannot control that. Nor do I want to.

Some of it is real. Some of it is silly. I know logic is nowhere to be found when emotions take over. Yet, to be human is to feel these emotions. To deal with human emotions is to feel all the feels. And grief is one so misunderstood and mis-handled. I know. I’ve done it.

With yet another funeral this week for the Babe’s brother-in-law, I expect lots of feelings. I’ll see the family with their grief, and witness their celebration of a life well lived. There will be stories. And oh, there will be toasts. And there will be tears.

We need to be mindful of grieving. We need to accept all people grieve differently. That said, I remember when my dad died in 1988. I’d lost my best friend earlier that year, had a nasty breakup with someone who wanted to marry, my grandmother died, my former father-in-law died, then Dad. I was a wreck. The hurt was too much for me. I withdrew emotionally. I never wanted to hurt that bad again.

My brothers and I all grieved in inappropriate ways. Alcohol, some used drugs, and we were angry. Dad got robbed. He was a nose to the grindstone worker all his life. He wanted to take a European trip with his Blackhawk Division from the US Army. They were to follow the same path through Europe. They followed Patton the first time. He was so happy about getting the opportunity.

It wasn’t to be. Mom was angry, too. Only she became angry when we tried to talk about Dad. We stuffed our feelings around her. We never have heard her cry about it. And we’ve not heard her say she misses him. To this day, I’m afraid to ask how she feels; does she really miss him? We may never know. We needed to grieve as a family, and we couldn’t. It feels unfinished all these years later.

Since then? I’ve learned so much about grief. I’ve studied it deeply, learning so much. And I’ve told my kids I was sorry about being withdrawn. They don’t remember, but I do. There was chaos for them with my brothers, and we’ve talked about that. Lessons learned all the way around. I’m still learning.

From real life, the movie, “We Are Marshall” is an excellent study of grief. A small engine plan crash killed nearly the entire football team from Marshall University in Alabama. It devastated the town. The team members and coaches who were not on the plane suffered survivor’s guilt. As the story unfolds, the University nixes football but eventually hires a new football coach. Matthew McConaughey plays the new head coach, hired to rebuild the team. The key line in the movie is when the father of one player tells the cheerleader girlfriend, “Grief is messy.” It explains why she must leave and build her life. She must live. In his devastation, he finally goes back to his life, whatever that will look like after his loss.

None of us knows. Until it happens to us, we do not know how we will react. I don’t need to borrow trouble from tomorrow by speculating on how I’ll feel. Or how I’ll survive. Because I will. No doubts about that. The unknown is scarey. All we can do is gain knowledge about what’s unknown in life. Grief is worth studying. Sitting with grieving people is worth it. Expressing yourself is worth a lot. Being an example is great. Healthy grieving is not only critical, it’s necessary. It’s messy.

I feel a little lighter now. Admitting what’s going on is necessary to solve any funk you may find yourselves in. Just remember, I felt emotions. I had to feel them. To find my way through them, I had to admit them. Still, I’m afraid; just not petrified. I will get through whatever comes my way. I have to. There is much left to do, many stories to tell. Accepting our humanness is a mere step in living the life they meant us to.

Have a beautiful day. Cleaning up is in order, and laundry. Normal, everyday stuff. Isn’t is nice? The windows can let in the fresh, spring air. Yes, it’s going to be a great day. See you tomorrow!

Officially Fall, At Last!

Who cares what the solstice says, it’s officially fall by the sounds we heard last night as we opened our windows and shut down the A/C. The high school band from Gretna was playing. We didn’t hear them as much during the month of August when they typically practice very early in the mornings. It’s a beautiful sound. It heralds a change; change of schedule, change of colors, change of temperatures, and a change for me.

Fall is not only “my color,” but it’s what rejuvenates my spirits. Maybe it’s because at 69, I’m in the autumn of my life? It is because I like the restful time that comes with fall, the leaves teaching us how to let go, and the colors reminding us what an artist God is. I appreciate all I see and sense. The crunch of a crisp apple, the smell of cinnamon, the taste of pumpkin, and the chili cooking on the stove while the game is on TV.

Living in Nebraska nearly my whole life, talk starts of how early it may snow, hunkering down with fleece blankets by the fire, and how early it gets dark. Once daylight savings time ends, it will get dark before 5 p.m. between November and the late December days. I don’t like the early darkness, but I’d sure like it if the government would stop daylight savings time. It’s kind of dumb, really. It puts people through a lot of hassle, especially Arizona, part of Illinois (or is it Ohio?), and whoever does not participate.

I will soon be time to trim down the dead flowers, plant some, and put the garden tools away. I was looking through some old paperwork and found a small journal I purchased a few years ago. My first entry was about my garden. I like what I wrote, and will share it here:

The Garden – my favorite place – proof of my labors of love, where I dig the earth, plant, and relieve frustrations and stress.

The Garden – full of singing birds, thanking me for the seed; the scented flowers colorful and brilliant, or green and muted while growing.

The Garden – where butterflies refresh and activity is frenzied – if I sit quietly to listen and observe, not just work and tend.

The journal is for working through your grief after the loss of a loved one. If truth be told, I’m still grieving after losing my dad. He was 64 and I was 37. I looked to him for advice on my business career, raising my kids, and life in general. My kids were devastated. I’m well past his age. All the joy I have now was never enjoyed by him. That’s sad. But then, he sees our lives, and I believe has a hand in things going well for us. His mother lived two years longer than he did, passing at 97. Once, she told me she believes things go well because he has a hand in them. Isn’t that a cool thought? I believe she’s rooting for us, too. Thanks, Gram!

Our group of friends has lost two husbands this year, and that’s so hard to see your friends hurting. And the empty seats at the table are constant reminders. We’ve also lost a friend to COVID this year. It’s a lot to process at times, isn’t it? I know resources are available for me when I need it. It’s also available to others, and I’d highly recommend “The Centering Corporation,” in Omaha, Nebraska. They are the best at what they do. Check their website, www.centering.org.

Have a beautiful rest of the day. I have some fresh air to go breathe. Wish you all could join me! See you tomorrow!

Saturday – Recalculating

When you’re driving and following Google Maps or whatever app you use for directions, you’ll maybe know a better route, and as you drive, the voice will tell you the app is “recalculating.” I started this month sure I’d crack open the book about writing a book in 30 days. It must have been an omen. There is a monthly calendar on the front; the month, like September, has 30 days. I was elated!

Forward to today, September 4. I’ve driven right past the book on my end table near my chair. I’ve skipped updating the website for the Post (sorry, folks. Just didn’t have it in me earlier this week. At least now you have the Newsletter to view). I’m hoping by Monday evening, it’ll be back on track, as I will be.

So, as I recalculate my next move, it’s important first to update things on FB, Website, IG, and Twitter for the Post. We have a lot going on this month, and we’ve committed to cook and serve for our Nebraska National Guard gathering on 9/11. We are hosting another Car Show Fundraiser this month for the family of Corporal Deagan, who died in Afghanistan late last month. We are also hosting an event to honor the POW/MIA’s on the third Friday in September. We are a thriving entity, and I’m so happy to be a small part of the outreach we do. Stay tuned!

I know just doing stuff will get me where I want to be. I’m behind and need to get caught up. So, laundry’s in. Going to sort some office stuff when finished here, before I check on the Nebraska game again. The game doesn’t have my interest as it used to. I hope they win, I hope they’re successful, but more important things are on the horizon. Like checking on Mom more often, and making sure she has whatever she wants. Her vision is diminishing more and more, so it’s rare she does any adult coloring anymore. She really misses doing that, maybe we can spend time doing that again. We’ll have to see!

This year has been almost as difficult as the Pandemic Lockdown was. We’ve lost two good men from our Wednesday group of VFW table-mates. It’s heartwrenching! And then, losing another friend next week, along with Mom taking a nasty fall in her home of 72 years. My brothers and I have taken some steps at making her mobility a little easier. Hoping she can stay there until she goes to heaven. The wonderful neighbors she has help us tremendously. Thanks Juan, Martha, Kenny, Raymond, and David. We couldn’t do this without you!

As I spend the rest of today taking care of business around the house, please know we’ll get back on track. To help with my grief of these losses and my grief about Mom’s world becoming much smaller due to her advancing age, I am wearing my watch that says, “Live a Great Story.” Nugent, Lenny, and Rick all lived great stories. I have an angel pin on my shirt today, too. Grief has to be dealt with. Perhaps I wasn’t dealing so well. We’ll try this. And God will let me know if it’s the right thing. Like yesterday, when Goldie insisted I sit on the deck with her. Then I could write about Rick Tiger. That’s one for future stories. So grateful for messages presented to me.

Grieving is never easy. You have to acknowledge it, go through it, and come out on the other side. No shortcuts. You cannot avoid it.

Have a beautiful rest of the day. Hopefuly, Nebraska will win a game today. Home game. Yes. It would help. Be kind today. We all need it. See you tomorrow!

Natural Progressions

Death is the mother of beauty. Wallace Stevens

This reading from my ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) daily meditation really spoke to me last week. Of course, with losing our friend a couple weeks ago, it was quite timely again. I believe God does that to help us see His message for all of us. Death is as natural as birth yet we humans see it as an end a lot of the time. I believe the thing of it is, the person who dies is the lucky one. They no longer have to be witness to the perils of living in this world. No, I’m not suggesting we end it all when we can’t take it any more. Not at all.

What I mean is death is the period in the sentence of our life. Not a sentence as in time served in prison, but the sentence of the story of our life. Maybe Lenny’s end of the sentence was an exclamation point. The guy certainly could make us laugh and forget our worries. Yes, let’s call it an exclamation point ending. Your life becomes complete when you pass.

And the part of life you spend with your spouse, best friend, significant other, or family and friends is over too. The grief is another process you need to experience to make those relationships complete. Your grief has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s personal. My grief, should I lose the Babe, will be different than yours is. No two people grieve in the same way. The women I’ve observed in Mom’s family are often very stoic in their grief. Mom was when Dad died. And she became angry if my brothers and I talked about Dad in front of her. We clammed up. We took our grief and expressed it in many bad ways. I withdrew from my kids. I was not in any relationship at the time, so no one was affected but my kids. That was wrong of me. They needed me. I just wanted the hurt to stop. My brothers drank and did some drugs. All dysfunctional. But we did not know any better.

We were used to seeing people behave in dysfunctional ways; siblings arguing, refusing to speak, anger, and pointing out the faults of the person who passed, not the good they did. Not how they would be missed. That was wrong. I vaguely remember the same thing happening when our Grandpa died on Christmas Eve, 1964. I was the oldest granddaughter, so I was twelve. I could feel the unrest among Mom, my aunts, and Grandma. Grandma had regrets. She carried those around forever.

I’m so glad we have resources now, for all people in their stages of grief. Little children lose a parent, they can utilize groups like at Teddy Bear Hollow in Omaha, Nebraska. Contact the Centering Corporation, they’re great people. They can help you. They help kids, Gold Star Families, and everyone in between. Check them out. You’ll be glad you did.

Dealing with the sadness of grief takes time, just as living a life does. There are different stages, and we all process them differently. The Babe and I have talked about this. Should he die before I do, I’ve asked him to come talk to me out on our deck, early in the morning, when the weather is warm enough to be there. He agreed that would be a good place. I suppose it would be from the fireplace in the winter. We love our fireplace, and enjoy it every chance we get.

I have no idea what path my grief will take me. It will be deep and big, I’m sure. The practical truths that surround everyone grieving are;

  • The dead have no problems. Our problem is our sense of loss.
  • Acceptance of death, just like our acceptance of our past mistakes and bad decisions, is what a wise person does.

We will survive. We will feel better someday. Some days we won’t. You cannot get around it; you have to go through it. If you are a Veteran and need help, call your local VA. Help is available for all of us. Let’s walk with each other through our grief, and come out whole on the other side.

“I rejoice that my loved one and I had time together. I am grateful as well as grief-stricken.”

Thank you to Hazelden Meditations, for their August 20th page in “Days of Healing, Days of Joy; Daily Meditations for Adult Children” that inspired this blog post. Be safe out there. See you tomorrow!

Love you, Dad

I don’t recall Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t born yet. In fact, I would be over a decade in arriving on this planet. We grew up having a great respect for our country, our Armed Forces; after all, Dad was a medic/support person in both WWII and Korea. I’ve told this story before, but please cut me some slack. Today is the day, in 1988, that we told him goodbye. Nothing has hurt that badly since. I wouldn’t let it. I retreated from everyone I loved; even my children. And for that, I’m sorry, guys. I just didn’t know how to handle what I felt. All I knew was I wanted nothing to hurt that badly again.

Not being unkind, my mom is like a Drill Sergeant. Very stoic. We never saw her cry. I’ve not heard her say she misses him, not even once. If my brothers and I were all together in her presence, she would get angry if we talked about him. We didn’t know what to do. We needed to grieve together, and that didn’t happen. They had taught Mom to be that way. It’s what got her through. We all had unhealthy ways of coping with those feelings of loss. It wasn’t pretty.

My oldest son was seventeen. They diagnosed dad with lung cancer on Frankie’s birthday. Cancer, the gift that kept on giving. Fifty-one days later, Dad died. He lost over fifty pounds. I’m glad he didn’t lose his hair. He had beautiful hair and was a handsome man. I learned to listen to Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Harry James, and how beautiful Lena Horne was from Dad. All significant memories. No one can take those from you. Dad spent a lot of time with Frankie, and taught him what to look for when you buy a used car, etc, etc, etc. Dad was the best male influence on all my kids.

My younger son, at thirteen, grieved openly and hard. He gets it all out of his system, and he’s done. He remembers funny things, and he tells us stories and asks questions. He was such a brainiac. Dad loved to tease him and his little sister, Becky. She was “Dolly” to Dad. He adored her, and I loved that he did. He told me what good kids they were.

I’d see him every weekday at the hospital, over my lunch hour. We talked about lots of stuff. We talked more in those fifty-one days than we had in my life. It was wonderful. The last thing he told me, on my lunch hour, Wednesday, December 7, 1988 was, “Sis, I just can’t fight this anymore. I’m tired.” I took his glasses, covered him up, kissed him on the forehead and told him, “Do what you’ve got to do, Dad. I’ll always watch out for Mom. Love you.”

At 4:20 p.m., Mom called me at work and said, “Call your brothers, you all need to come.” around 5:45 p.m., he passed. Quietly. Painlessly. No more pain. Thank God we had such a wonderful dad. He was tough, no doubt about that. You learned lessons, as we should have. The thing I learned most from him was “Do it right, or don’t bother.” I hear his voice while I’m writing. I feel his encouragement. No one can take that from me. I miss you and love you.

Dad’s Medals. I wrote to get them in 2016. He’s my hero, always. Two Bronze Stars? Bad Ass.

I learned a better way to grieve. I have told my kids about my mistakes and apologized. It’s a case of hoping they learn from your mistakes. It’s a gift when you do that for your kids. It’s a way to stop the craziness that travels from generation to generation. People always used to keep things to themselves. “Don’t tell your business.” Now, with social media, perhaps people share too much. We need to put aside the idea that we know everything, how to do everything. No one is that balanced; after all, we’re human and full of flaws! It’s a courageous act to admit it. And then learn a better way to do something. Ah, balance.

I know Dad would love the Babe. They have similar qualities. Deep sense of right, deep love and caring of others, firm yet fair. I was lucky my kids were good people; they have all turned out well. It’s the best thing you can hope for. It was hard to transition into being an empty nester. When you’re busy providing and working and studying and family dinners every night, you build up a momentum you keep on until you look around one day, and by gosh, they’re gone! On their own! You raised them to do that, now what?

You decide to write a book, and you write a blog, and you work with a book coach to learn. Life is good. We balance life. Life is the Babe and me, making the most of it; in sickness and health, in pandemic and wellness, in respect for the unknown and certain. We’ll make it. Together.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it. Spread happiness, not the Pandemic. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Careful. Count your Blessings. We all have a lot. See you tomorrow!