Category Archives: Family

Volatility

Storm surges –
not knowing from moment to moment,
whirlwind tempests
stirring waters into choppy, cut-up waves,
slicing bodies into fragments,
buffeted by forces beyond control.
Death and despair,
pulling up roots,
pushed over by greater forces.
one by one the fortresses’ buttresses
fall, stone by stone
smashing on heads
bruising damaged minds,
praying for resurrection
in the wake of thunder’s heartbeat,
lightening’s spear thrusts –
how are we to bear up
to life’s dark furies?

When do you say Goodbye?

She was by turns feckless or feral.
ferocious, fickle, self-centered.
Twelve years spent in her company,
unable to respond or defend.
captive, as she came to visit
several weeks at a time,
several times a year.

Schizophrenic, Bipolar –
voices keeping her company
more than her devoted husband.
Her only caregiver –
he wore himself down
to bare nubbins.
And I worry now he will soon
follow the same path.

She appropriated my life
told me there was a cancer in me
she had to cut out.
Humiliated me in front of family
relatives, her friends – while they lasted.
Spoke in a foreign language
my husband wouldn’t teach me,
about me, in front of me,
my knowing the words were directed ,
about me, in front of me.
Told my children she
was their real mother.

She died last night,
first came mourning,
now rage . . .
It’s been 20 years since I have been
her daughter-in-law,
since I have seen her except
when my children married,
or graduated from schools.
And even in these years I treated her
with a consideration and kindness
rarely shown to me.

This woman who made my life
miserable, terrifying, unstable –
who did so much to ruin my marriage –
twisting, turning truth,
confusing my children,
angering my husband so he wouldn’t
speak meaningfully to me for months.

Who twisted my children’s
understanding of Mental Illness,
refused medication or therapy,
made her husband of 60 years’
life one of horror and despair,
beating and berating him,
listening to those damn voices . . .

After all this time, and I mourn
for her, for my children,
for her husband and my ex-one.
Mourning the woman she was
and could have been
if she had accepted her diagnosis.

Listening to her voices . . . .
Still feeling a relative,
Mourning the loss,
even as the rage pours in.
Some nightmares you never forget.

I dreamt you died

I dreamt you died last night
and a week went by before
I realized you had slipped
out of my consciousness
and into another of your choosing.
My heart bled little one,
I couldn’t imagine a life
without your shining face
reflecting back on mine.

You are the mirror of my madness,
the being who forces me
to resolve the tortured places within,
for if I don’t, yours is the life
most likely to suffer.

Parenting requires me to turn
my soul inside out,
like shaking pennies from a piggy bank,
seeing what it holds,
then stuffing them back in again,
known commodities.

Each day forces you to examine
your premises, expectations,
under a finely tuned microscope
until I am sure,
cemented in the knowledge
I am offering all that is best . . .
releasing the worst . . .
before irrevocable damage happens
to the sponge of your young mind.

Each day I awaken
to a little mourning,
a small keening of my soul,
for your encroaching lack of innocence,
the slow evolvement from purity
to detachment and
a rethinking of how life is
forced by big and little
tragedies of your days.

If I could hold you back,
heal your wounds,  I would.
In owning my responsibility to you,
my spirit must strength,
while letting go of control,
so you can be the adult meant to be,

and be free, wholly yours
so as not to not die week before I notice.

esmeralda with her hair

 

Idiot sayings of old

“Children should be seen and not heard’ and somehow that only applied to boys “- my brain smiled when I read those words this morning.  Still chuckling, I am remembering my sisters and brother, aged 5 and 7, climbing out the second floor window of the parsonage, creeping down the six-inch shelf along the second floor the distance of the home and climbing down the pine tree at the end, covered in needles and sap.  Not just once mind you, but a lot.  My mother never knew.  somehow, she was oblivious to all the shenanigans of my younger siblings.

Please understand, the demands of obedience were intensified being minister’s kids. That particularly applied to me, as the oldest.  My parents placed a lot of responsibility on me.  I was the quiet one by nature by I had my share of going out to pick my switch when I had disobeyed.  But my illicit activities where nowhere near those of the others.  Well, except for the time I was playing in the church while my Dad was counseling a couple in the parsonage’s office.  I inadvertently turned on the organ and music, of a kind, rang through the neighborhood.  I remember my Dad flying over to stop me but he could hardly contain the smile lurking about his lips as he chided me.I was about 5.

Although come Sunday morning, my Mother was yelling for us to get ready for church. When we were in church, it was the “whammy look” which brought us to heel. One of those was like the Death Star shooting rays at you – total  inialation. I have had countless nightmares involving the whammy look, even through adulthood.  Although I have to admit it was my adult years when I deserved a whammy look once in a while.

That rebellious, fiercely disobediant spirit lurked strongly in my son.  I worked from home, not the easiest of tasks with young ones about.  Once I was talking to a client and suddenly realized it was far too quiet.  Finishing my call, I went to check on my son and his friend Luke. I couldn’t open the door.  When I told  my son, Yori, to open it, there was no response.  I walked outside and looked through his window. Everything he ownded as crammed up against the door, including his mattress. (He was about 4 at the time). I gave him 5 minutes to put everything back.  When I walked into his room, I was surprised how far he had achieved that goal.  Later that night, I opened his closet to put clothes away and everytrhing tumbled out and on me.

Another time, while talking to a client, I heard chopping. When I finished the call, I went out to check on the boys (Luke again). (This is the boy who, at his wedding had his dogs carry the rings and act as best man and maid of honor)  They had climbed the fence into the dog’s yard, gone into the garage.  Took tswo hammers. And proceeded to chop large holes in the fence. Aghast, I tracked down the dogs and put the boys to work picking up wood. There were many such incidents in Yori’s childhood.  Needless to sday, the kids won, the 10 year old job did not

.So the saying “Children should be seen and not heard” was a misnomer in my famly heirarchy.

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness in the Holidays

The holidays are here . . . there is hope, my friends, hope to enjoy the memories being created, hope to share in joy and thanksgiving, hope to walk away with a smile instead of trying to shake off negative thoughts and feelings. For many of us, the holidays bring stress, anxiety, perhaps anger.  But, in times like those, it is good to remember . . .

The tingling of a stream running through a forest                 A cozy fire to warm up our increasingly older bones                 A blanket which feels cozy and secure                 The passion in the eyes of a lover, even if it was many years ago                 How the Grinch stole Christmas and Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer Those are just a few things to reflect on when life seems interminable, frustrating, depressing.  There are people who can offer comfort. Or, wait for it . . . you can give comfort to others and to yourself.  There is positivity to offer renewal – of our associations with others and our relationship with ourselves.  This is especially true for those of us with thought disturbances and/or mental and emotional ones.  When you are sitting at a table with more than 5 people, just remember you aren’t the only one – 1 in 5 people have some sort of mental/addiction/biochemical challenge – you are likely not as alone as you may think.

When you yearn to change your thoughts, move a muscle:

Volunteer or share the meal at a Shelter or Food Kitchen Exercise – max out those endorphins Watch some of the old charmers – Bells of Saint Mary, Christmas Carol, Christmas in CT . . . Call someone who understands and remember crisis centers if need be Calmly but clearly express your feelings, share those feelings where it matters Go to the Religious organization of your choosing and practice the traditions you grew up with

Don’t be afraid to leave the holiday gathering – go in another room to compose yourself, go for a walk, smile (just using those muscles changes your mood, even just a little). Feel the love you have for your friends and family, even when they disappoint you, you’re not the only person who can benefit from a hug.

Most of all, remember the meaning of the holidays . . . religious/spiritual, loving, sharing, giving of oneself to others.  Remember . . . whatever your circumstances, you are Blessed.

Aging with Children

Your words plunder my heart
for what I am telling you is real
but you don’t hear my reality.
How can I make up for a thousand
errors in judgement, slips of the tongue,
tears of depression . . .

You, still young, don’t understand
the ramifications of age
creaking of bones, emotional balance,
various and assorted illnesses
and traumas……

How I tried hard to be what you needed,
failed miserably and now rue the costs.

I am aging. Likely I have many years ahead.
But I want to share them with my family there,
the ones I gave birth to.

The difficulty is, should I be there
the increasing impediments aging brings
would mean you would be asked
to provide increased help when
what most excites you is the life
you live now . . . and who can blame you?

Which brings me to more pain.
If I moved back, I might only be
the person of misery there before –
neither of us want that. I’m stronger
physically and mentally, but,
I am aging. And you fail to realize
the implications.

and I don’t want to lose
those precious moments.

 

 

 

 

Mom’s Death

As I stand here today, I can’t reconcile the fact that Mom has died With the woman I knew.  She was a force to be reckoned with, a force of Nature, and the quinticential  matriarch.  I hurtled myself at her thousands of times yet she stayed strong, unwavering.  A mother.  I didn’t realize how much I would miss her until now when its too late.  The woman I saw on Monday evening was not the woman I knew in this life.  Her essence was gone and we all know how much a woman she was. She gave me many things in this life – helped me when I needed, probably more than she should have.  She encouraged me to be a strong woman.  There was no way I \could fill her shoes – One sister is much better that. Two others still follow in her wake, – I was her antithesis.  But even in this I defined myself by her measure. My sisters, aunt and I stood around her hospital bed and solemnly sweared we wouldn’t followed the same health choices she did.  We agreed we would be closer to each other. Some of that has come true, some not.  After she died, I moved to California to be close to my children.  I just didn’t realize they would feel about me Finally, I realized I had to o back to Connecticut to be where family could help me out when needed and where I was wanted.   In the course of looking for a new apartment ,I stayed in my mom’s bedroom for two months. I saw her life and the things that comprised it.  My anger dissipated and we made peace.  It was a tough one – one I couldn’t have survived.  She was a remarkable, powerful woman and I had just been too angry to see.  I miss her but I think she might be proud of me now.

Her Luminosity

I never wrote a poem for her,
She was too uncomplicated,
too surface, a known commodity.
Yet it was a lie, of self-defense,
because still waters run deep
and she is one though whom
God’s eyes shine.
Her luminous soul reflected
in each act with which
she undertakes her days.

A vision of beauty,
exotic and rare,
unfettered by life’s social constraints,
conforming only as a means
of self-determination,
acting with a will
I failed to possess
at such a young age,
all I longed to be and more,
reflected in the eyes of this child.

#everydayinspirations Prompt – Image

Chosen Image – Girl standing, looking into a forest

Scratching and clawing up the mountain, pushing through trees with long, sharp thorns, I started working my way through the pain and rage I felt.

Back at or family’s summer cabin, my parents were involved in a heated argument, sitting in chairs in the front yard. I have never been one who was highly vocal – my feelings were mine to keep.  However, when I heard that horrid, devastating word “Divorce”, I lit into them.  My fourteen year old self called the dogs and took off, trying to get as far away from the turmoil as I could.

Crossing the creek, I followed a late summer trickle of a mountain stream, rugged with sharp rocks at all angles. The stream fed the creek, with watercress and mint planted in its waters at the base. After scrambling over boulders, I got as far as I could before the boulders were too big to crawl over. I entered the land of thorns, shorter trees bearing inch long thorns throughout. It was a much larger area than I realized for in all the years we had been here in the summer, I hadn’t climbed the mountain.

Somehow, whenever major messages come from God, prickers and thorns are always a part of it  They don’t leave scratches or cuts – they are for the struggle and learning.  They are to get my attention, for the struggle of understanding.

Finally, I entered a glen as the thorns I passed away from. A huge tree had fallen, its root system an incredibly mosaic reaching to the sky. I was captivated, staring at the myriad lines the branches made.

Beyond was a barbed wire fence with a hunting road leading to a large fallow field.  A tiny cabin stood at the top. I crossed the road, easing my way through the barbed wire on both sides to a lush, soft green forest.  It was a fairy land. As I eased myself onto a log I could see moss climbing trees, grass ankle high. I breathed in the pure air and completely relaxed.  Moments later a young doe wandered to within 10 feet of me. We looked at each other, then she went back to nibbling the grass.  I couldn’t remove my eyes from her smooth, delicate beauty

A few minutes later the dogs came bounding back from their explorations. The doe took on look and high-tailed it away from their noisiness. Time to go. Crossing through the barbed wire, I decided to take the road down and the three of us started back downhill.

Back at home, all was quiet.  To my young eyes, my parents seemed to at least have called a truce.  My parents didn’t say a word to me but I was left with the feeling I had shaken them up a bit, and brought the tension they had so forcefully had earlier.

The lessons learned?:
a. State your truth.  It is right and appropriate to open your mouth and let others know how you feel
b. After life’s thorns comes beauty
c.  If you are not afraid, you won’t spread fear#everyday

 

 

 

Socks

Party night, play night,
never gonna know what will happen
pot, booze, boys calling my name
am I a siren to all those boys
or are they ones for me?
A box of candy many flavored
most are to savor
a few are Harry Potter’s snot jelly beans
what the hell, not all can
can be a good flavor.

So I reach into the drawer
pull out a pair of Dad’s socks
f0r I know as long
as I’m wearing those socks
I’ll be just as much a virgin
at the end of the night
as when it started.
Even took a pair to college
wore them . . . for a while . . .