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Dear Sarah (2)

I have to believe you were an angel with a lesson for us all about unconditional love. Tolerance. Acceptance.

Though you were judged, more about you never passed judgement. Even when people expressed hate toward you, story you showed them love. You celebrated each person for exactly who they were, nothing more or less.

That’s not to say you were soft, or a pushover – you were a damn firecracker. But you could defend yourself and your stance in a heated discussion, and then buy your adversary a drink.

Because all that really matters in this life, is love. Love is the only thing you leave behind, and the only thing you have with you when you go. I wish you had known how much you were loved.

We can’t change what happened, but we can change ourselves and live the legend that you left us.

May we never miss an opportunity to give love to each person we meet, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.

Dear Sarah

It’s taken me a month just to be able to look up the website of the charity we were asked to donate to in your memory. I remember you mentioning it a couple of times, about it but I had no idea how deeply it spoke to you. Or how it would now speak to me. The first paragraph of their vision broke me down completely:

“You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, health to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.”

I wonder if you did know. I wonder if you knew that every person who met you, felt blessed by your presence. I wonder if you knew the impact you had on everyone around you.

I’ll never know.

Support the To Write Love on Her Arms movement by clicking here.

Jun 23, 2011 - Family, Men, Women    2 Comments

One Strong Belief

With the encouragement of my friend T, advice I’m going to use some of the #Trust30 topics, medical  an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.

::  today’s prompt::

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

(Author: Buster Benson)

I am going to pull from my “interview” on T’s blog for this one…

Having a child should be a thoroughly well-thought-out decision. A lot of people, men and women, start a family without ever really thinking about it. But ask any parent how often they think about that decision once their kids are born and they will tell you “constantly.” It is the biggest choice anyone can make in a lifetime – the greatest responsibility you can take on, one you can’t undo – it’s a life. I think that deserves careful consideration and thought as to whether you are really prepared to give everything that commitment deserves. Some people are. I am not.

This quote says it so well:

Source: etsy.com via Laura on Pinterest

Jun 2, 2011 - Family    No Comments

Brotherly love

I know, about it I’m supposed to be querulous, but today I’m appreciative. So if you only like my bitchy posts, check back next week. [nevermind, just read till the end]

My brother rocks. He’s my roomie and one of my closest confidantes, which you know puts him far above just a blood relation in my books. “J” didn’t do anything over-the-top to deserve this salute. Yeah, he finished supper and did dishes while I went to yoga (pretty awesome of him), but it’s in the every-day-life that I’m most grateful for my bro. He’s loving, he’s caring, he’s sensible, he gives excellent advice when needed and he listens when that’s all I really want someone to do. Mostly though, he’s patient when I’m difficult. He’ll certainly tell you I’m not easy to get along with (I think he’s exaggerating), and he puts up with it all.

The thought of him someday moving out, moving on to a life all his own, scares me to pieces. What will I do when he’s not here? When he has a family that takes priority over slushy drink nights? I mean sure, I will probably will not miss the disaster he tends to leave in the kitchen, on the dining table, the coffee table, the entry table, the entryway floor, the carpet… But I’ll miss him more. And I might even wish I could curse his messy ways when he’s gone.

All I have to say is he better give me A LOT of cute nieces and nephews to fill the gaping hole left in my heart when he moves out.

May 28, 2011 - Family    No Comments

The shoe’s on the other foot

Though I can’t think of anyone I know personally, symptoms I’ve often been shocked by characters in movies and songs who have walked away from loved ones who are ill. You know, generic the ones who leave their wife battling MS, here their child struggling with addiction, their elderly parent dying of cancer…

While I don’t sympathize with them, I’m beginning to have much more compassion for their struggles than I did before.

In the past four months, we have watched a transformation in my grandma the likes of which I’ve only seen before on screen. Whether it’s the dementia or depression or both, my sweet, loving, wouldn’t-say-shit-if-her-mouth-was-full-of-it, grandmother has turned into an aggressive, outspoken woman who will (and has) give(n) most everyone a very blunt piece of her mind whether requested or not.

Until this winter, I can’t recall grandma raising her voice in anger. But I won’t soon forget her altercation with the lady who unknowingly sat in g-ma’s friend’s chair at lunch. You would have thought that woman had committed a cardinal sin for the tongue-lashing Grandma gave her. And it almost resulted in my formerly mild-mannered grandma being kicked out of the retirement home.

She has always been the type to lead by example rather than preach with words. Grandma has never smoked, never drank, never cussed, and though my brothers and I are all guilty of at least 2 out of 3 of those, she would never call us out on our bad habits. That certainly has changed as she now takes advantage of every opportunity to instruct us on cleaning up our acts.

As her memory worsens, so too does her frustration with herself and those around her. Twice in the past week she has gotten very upset at us “not having visited her in WEEKS” – hardly a day goes by that at least one of the family doesn’t get in to see her. And let me tell you, trying to reassure an angry old lady that you have not forgotten her, and were actually there the day before and will be back the day after tomorrow, well let’s just suffice to say it’s a losing battle.

Never will I turn my back on the woman who helped raise me, who has been the unwavering matron of our family, who I’ve come to call my friend in adulthood. But I certainly have a more open heart for anyone who has walked through a door to realize the person they used to know on the other side, is no longer there.

Jan 17, 2011 - Family    No Comments

Hanging in the balance

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, about it
courage to change the things we can, treat
and wisdom to know the difference.”

My grandma is one of the most beautiful people I know. She’s been a role model for me throughout my life, and now in my adult years I’m blessed to call Grandma a “friend.”

We were fortunate to grow up on the same farm on which our grandparents lived, with just a few steps from our door to theirs. Our parents often traveled with show and sale cattle, which meant lots of sleepovers with Grandma. The bros and I have many a memory of grandma making us Sunny Boy porridge, scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. The scrambled eggs were the best part, but grandma always held them hostage until we finished our seedy (read: yucky) porridge. When we got home from school, she always had a snack ready for us before sending us out to do our chores.

Many kids go their entire lives without knowing their grandparents well; we knew just how lucky we were to have that opportunity.

After Grandpa was moved to a hospice, I moved in with Grandma to keep her company and help ease the transition to an empty house. What I thought would be a 6-12 month stay turned into 3 years during which time I got to know her as a person, not just a grandparent. And what began as an idol-worship relationship 29 years ago grew into a true appreciation of the woman.

Tomorrow we’ll move Grandma into a room in a so-called “senior community.” After suffering several injuries from falls recently and requiring round-the-clock care from family at home, she decided it was time to go somewhere “she wouldn’t be such a burden.” Though I certainly didn’t concede her burden belief, I was desperate for her to have the care and attention of professionals who knew how to help her.

But now with the time at hand and Grandma heartbroken to be leaving her home of 64 years, guilt and remorse for my part in this decision are making it harder and harder to follow through with. When she begs me to stop my aunt from making her move, it tears me apart. And when the pain is at it’s worst and she tells me she doesn’t want to live any longer, it’s all I can do to keep it together as I try to calm her. Though I know much of what she is saying is the dementia talking, I no longer know what the right answer is.

They say any action done out of love it the right action, but what if the person on the receiving end doesn’t see it that way?

May 21, 2010 - Family, Men, Women    No Comments

It should be a privilege, not a right

I think being a parent should be a privilege, malady much like a career. Because it basically is. When a person brings a child into the world, they need to be committed to preparing that child to be an adult. And not just an adult, but a productive member of society. Giving their time, their love and their dedication to developing that child into a good person from birth right through the rest of their life.

On one of my bike rides this week, I saw graffiti painted on someone’s back fence. I know this would be no big shock for those of you living in cities, but I live in a lovely (upscale, if you don’t mind me saying so) village.

Where the hell were that kid’s parents when he or she was disrespecting a fellow citizen’s personal property? Where have they been all that kid’s life when they should have been instilling character in their child?

Probably at work. Probably making money so they could buy that kid video games that would keep him or her entertained so they didn’t have to play with the child or teach them.

When did it become acceptable to bring a child into the world and then essentially abandon them?

Where are the parents these days?

May 7, 2010 - Family, Men, Women    No Comments

Kids these days

I realize that’s a bit of a comical title considering my age, approved but I’m convinced there is a wide gap between people my age and the group 5-10 years younger than us.

Is it just me or have good manners, view social responsibility and respect for your fellow man been lost between Generations X and Y? It seems there is a good reason for calling “X” the Generation Me.

You see examples of this change every day – people in their late 20’s holding doors for their elders on the heels of someone in their early 20’s dropping the door in front of an elder; a tremendous decline in the number of people who volunteer between the two age groups; the new “swarming” phenomenon that has resulted in brutal beatings and even deaths of authority figures and elders.

It frightens me.

Last weekend the annual country music festival in my Alma Mater’s town took place for the 19th year in a row. Just five years ago, help this was a celebration of good music, the end of classes and the many friendships made during the school year. Everyone had a good time while looking out for their friends and neighbors and paying tribute to the talented musicians who graced the stage. This year, one of the performers received a concussion and 24 stitches from someone in the crowd who threw a glass bottle at his head. Another singer was disrupted by someone who snuck past security and got on stage with her – uninvited.

It’s hard to believe those kids’ morals and friends didn’t stop them from that poor behavior. And yes, I’ll call them kids. They don’t deserve to be called adults.

Where did the world go wrong in just five years?

What can we do to re-instill these values in the next generation?

Apr 30, 2010 - Family    No Comments

The ties that bind… and strangle

If you meet someone whose personality conflicts with yours, cost you are probably going to walk away and not give them another thought, stuff right? So why is it when we have an irreconcilable  conflict with someone we are related to, we put so much time and effort into trying to keep that relationship?

Brothers. Sisters. Parents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Even grandparents occasionally.

Holiday gatherings are rooted in tradition, generally involving large meals with family. Often served with sides of stress and hard feelings because of strained family relations. And when it’s all over we feel like terrible people, having had our worst traits boil to the surface and spill over like poison.

What if we put into practice the old adage that “friends are the family we choose?” Would we be happier not only at holiday gatherings, but every day? We would no longer worry about whether Aunt A was going to insult our turkey, or whether Uncle B was going to ask again when it’ll be time to settle down. We could enjoy time and a meal with the people we choose to have in our lives. The people who bring out the best in us.

What if every day we stopped wasting negative energy trying to keep good relations with our bad relations, and instead multiplied positive energy by sharing our best with friends who enhance our lives?

I’m not saying anyone should write off all their family members. My brother is one of my best friends and I would choose to have him in my life whether we were siblings or not. Keep the treasure, lose the trash.

People are people, whether they are family, friends or strangers. We should love all people, but should we give some preferential treatment based on blood?