Saturday, February 28, 2009

The 'Brady Bunch'

What you're looking at is a first..... the first photo of all seven of us 'kids' from the union of Mom and Dad over 28 years ago. We were the scruffy version of 'The Brady Bunch' and we gave 'Carol and Mike' fodder for many of those 'in the bed' conversations. We haven't always seen eye-to-eye, but with struggles and strife in life, come lessons of wisdom and acceptance. The coming together started five years ago when Mom passed away. This week brought us even closer together. To appreciate the poignancy of this photo, you'd need to understand that between some, there has been over five years of no communication. That we were all able to put aside our qualms yesterday at our dad's funeral and come together for a photo, and actually SMILE is a testament to each one!

The memorial service was the best with touching memories of my dad shared with such a great gathering of friends and family. There were many laughs, probably a few more tears and even more gracious, a coming together of people that I might not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes. Definitely, a hand of grace was over us.

Yes, even in death...there is beauty and grace.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Gift To Go

A little over five years ago my mother passed away after five years of enduring a horrendous illness, innumerable medical procedures, hospital stays, countless doctor visits and so many other events that it would be impossible to document. Throughout it all, she maintained optimism, dignity, her beautiful spirit and unfailing grace.

I, on the other hand, was a mess. I was angry at her illness, at God, and shamefully, at her, at times, for not fighting hard enough, in my distorted view. I wanted her to live. I wanted her to get well, get better. I wanted her to continue to be my mom, even though I knew in my heart that she would never be well and whole again. I continued my campaign for her recovery vehemently. Ultimately, she passed away.... of which I had no control over.

I had no control over it. None.

She died. And I couldn't stop it.

Today, my dad passed passed away. He had been in the hospital for the last two weeks. Triple-bypass was performed a week ago and his recovery was being hampered by mild liver disease and 'sick' kidney function, but we were optimistic for his recovery, albeit, a long road ahead. I have been with him since Friday. Feeding him ice chips. Wiping his forehead. Kissing him. Telling him how much I loved him. Holding his hand. Getting the nurse. Pushing for pain meds to be administered. Adjusting his pillows. Putting balm on his dry lips. Keeping in touch with family and friends...even those estranged for nearly 16 years.

New tests administered yesterday revealed that he had only hours left with us.

It has been grueling, painful, sad and surreal.

But there has been beauty and grace in the process. Along with all of the tears that have fallen and words whispered into his sweet ear, I was able to give him a gift that I couldn't give my mom. Not one that was to be opened with his sore, bruised hands, not one that cost me a penny, not one that was the wrong size, color or style. No, this one was the perfect gift.

I gave him the gift.... to go.

Friday night, weak and struggling with each breath, dad said to me as I bent over and stroked his face..."I'm dying." And he was. But instead of protesting, instead of saying "No, you're not!", instead of making light of it or chalking it up to the pain he was in, I smiled. I looked into his watery blue eyes, ran my fingers through his silky gray hair and said, "Dad, if you need to go, then go. It's okay." I kissed his forehead twice; telling him "I love you. This one is for you, and this one is for Mom when you see her. Tell her I love her and that I miss her."

Four times he told me that he was dying. And each time, I told him that it was okay to go.

Because as much as I was angry at his illnesses, mad at God, afraid to loose another parent, weary of pain and hurt and wanting him to continue to 'fight the fight', I learned from Mom's passing that there was something much greater for me to do. I couldn't control the diseases that were wearing his body down and taking him away from us, but I could, hopefully, give him love, comfort and peace in knowing that we were here to support and love him through the process.

And so .... I told my dad that it was okay to go.

And go, he did. Surrounded by his children, and, I hope and pray,

with a gift in his heart.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In A Garden My Soul Is Happy

"There you are dear lady...where have you been??"

Oh, keeper of my garden.... I've been gone.... and it feels so good to be back!

I have soil to sink into and flowers to plant...

...again, I ask...must she?!?

...apparently, she must.

a little 'ambitious' pruning leaves me planning on making fried green tomatoes!

It never fails...whenever I start to garden, he shows up. He was sleeping soundly on my bed upstairs when I started...but once I begin to play in the garden, Gambit joins in on the fun!
He approves.
You go inside for one minute!....
and look what you find when you come back!!
A tomato thief!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Embarrassed by the state we are in

**note** scroll down on the right and 'pause' my music player (it's red) before starting this video

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Round And Round I Go

This is more like it! Cloudy, cool, gray and rainy. The much herald winter storm that they've been warning us about for the last five days rain finally arrived during the night and is already on its way out. Sunlight skips among the gray puffs and winks at those of us who want to build a fire, stay in our pajamas - knitting and reading on a day like this.

Last night I tackled a project I've been perplexed and facinated by - knitting in-the-round. I've always used two regular knitting needles in the past, but there's another style of knitting that involves smaller, double-pointed needles, and you use 4 of them at the same time! Hats, socks, mittens all use this technique and I've always admired those who could do it. A few months ago I bought a set of these needles, determined to tackle knitting in-the-round. It was not to be.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was pretending to be engaged in my state-required night class but was secretly looking through my latest Martha Stewart Living magazine that just happened to have been mixed in with my stuff, I found an article on knitting mittens, using the in-the-round technique. Heck, if Martha can do it, so can I !!

I got out my yarn, needles and methodically followed the directions, step by step. My first attempt was pretty good and let me get comfortable with the mechanics of it - it's a bit tricky holding 4 knitting needles at once! After a few rows, I started over to see if I could refine my technique.
The result is this! It's really fun and is, actually, quite easy to do. I even got adventurous and tried adding a new color for a row to see if I could do it...I could. I think I'm just about ready to tackle the real deal and make some hand warmers!

All of this coincides with what my book club is reading for February's selection. I just got my book the other night and haven't started it yet - I've been too busy knitting! The gals are meeting Tuesday to have dinner and discuss .... alas, I won't be there because Tuesday's are not with Morrie for me... they are spent sitting in a state-mandated class that I have to take in order to keep my teaching certificate, costs me money, will take 15 weeks to complete and turns my Tuesday's into 13 hour days....but I'm not bitter.

Hmmm... I wonder.... think I can sneak my knitting into Tuesday night's class?!?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Welcome To My Winter

aahhh... winter time.... in the desert southwest. Crazy, huh?!?

Yup, my first tomato from the plant I planted about 4 months ago is ready to be picked! Fresh garden tomatoes in February... only in the desert, my friends.
I got to do something today that I haven't done since October.... work in my garden pulling weeds! You just don't know how exciting and great this was!
Last October 30th, I blew my knee out running to the school bus for our field trip. I knew I had done something serious as soon as it went. Since then, I've had a lot of pain with each step, mri's, x-rays, countless hours seeing doctors and even more in physical therapy. The good news is that surgery is on the back burner and we are hopeful that the physical therapy will continue doing its magic on healing my knee. The bad news has been how much this injury has impacted my day-to-day life. I've had to learn new ways to walk, get into my Tahoe, walk up the stairs, move my leg in the middle of a night's slumber, bend, sit, get up off the floor...everything. It's been extremely frustrating.... And all the worse by the fact that I have not been able to go out and work in my gardens. I also have had to give up my Thursday night yoga class which I was doing faithfully as a committment to myself.

I've been a good girl and have grinded my way through ump-teen hundred weighted leg lifts, steps, bicycle pedals, balancing acts, band pulls, hamstring stretches and all the other sub-masochistic activities exercises I've had to do to retrain my knee (and leg muscles), strengthen my whole knee and leg, regain confidence in my body and keep a positive attitude that it will get better! And it has! To the point that I went back to my yoga class 3 weeks ago. My instructor was so glad to see me back and I picked up where I had left off...and it felt so good! I was even able to do the 'hero' pose!

Today is suppose to be cloudy and rainy.... uh, yeah... right. Sunny, clear and beautiful, I made my way out to survey the abundant amount of weeds partying in my garden. It makes me sick and sad to see the state of my garden. 'Hmm... let's pull this guy out. Hmm... maybe this one. And this one... Okay, I'm feeling ok... let's bend down and get this guy.... Okay...let's just dive in and get the job done!!' So I did... and it felt soooo good! Yes, my knee is a bit sore now. But a few ibuprofen and it will simmer down. The pain in the knee is so worth the happiness in my soul to be able to return to something that I love to do, and have so missed!

Look who I found! Just enjoying his day in the garden as much as I am... Hello, Mr. Inch Worm!

....inching his way through life.

Off to buy a few items to make my famous chili in my Le Creuset. They are predicting rain this afternoon ('s not), tonight and all day tomorrow. I've rented a movie for the evening, too!

What's this?? Clouds??

Ahh... slowly building overhead ... teasing me...

Come on up thick and gray...bring those rains to make my day!