The Chicago drama…

Just a short recap…I got my pants back. Yes! I didn’t have to see Hamilton in PJ’s!

After getting my pants back Friday night, we stopped at the hospital to visit Martha. She was doing a lot better and was moved out of the ICU. I felt a lot better heading to Chicago knowing things were better at home. Plus, I had pants.. There’s that!

I won’t bore you with the trip down to Chicago as it was very uneventful. We checked into our hotel and headed for a late afternoon showing of the Blue Man Group. It was an awesome high energy show.

We took the subway to the show. We stuck out like a sore thumb all dressed to the nines and all. There was a man that wanted money to help Paul get a subway pass. The security guard asked if we were okay. Immediately after entering the subway, we saw a man that had a sign that said ‘Hungry as F*ck’. He appeared to be sleeping. The subway car smelled like piss, but being on it didn’t scare me. I just fear irrational things.

It was bitterly cold in Chicago with wind chills below zero. I broke down and bought myself a hat. I watched the passersby from the window as we ate supper late Saturday night. Young girls walked with streets on their way out in short skirts, high heels, and no coats. There was a group of young guys with pants that didn’t cover their rears. I thought that went out with the 90’s. Guess not? Everyone looked so cold. I finally reached the age were being warm is more important than looking cool.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. I thought I heard someone getting murdered out in the street in the middle of the night. I looked out my window in the morning to see if I could glimpse a body in the dumpsters.

I have also been waking up with nightmares. I have this crazy fear when it is cold outside that I forgot to let the dog back in and he is freezing to death. My son was staying at his friend’s house down the road and was going to be pet sitting. I worried that the dog was out all night. Sometimes at home, I get up to check that the dog is alive and inside. It is a totally irrational fear that I can’t seem to shake.

But you want to hear about the sold out Hamilton?? The musical was greater than I ever expected it to be. Angel sat in front of the computer literally all day the minute the tickets went on sale. She was able to snag tickets for Paul, my mom, her boyfriend Mitch, and I. The tickets had an obstructed view. I had a pole in the middle of my view. Regardless, the show was absolutely awesome. It was worth it!

Then came the long trip back home. We got lost trying to find our car after the show. It seemed like the skyscrapers stopped our navigation from working properly. So we ended up wandering around the streets in our dress clothes in the bitter cold cursing modern technology.

It was so bright in Chicago on the dark night that we failed to notice that our headlights were off. We drove through downtown Chicago and were on the interstate when I noticed that someone opened her car window and was frantically waving at me. It was then that we figured out our lights were off the whole time.

It was at this time that Arabella started calling me. She stayed over at a friend’s for a birthday party and got dropped off at home. She said that she wasn’t feeling well and might have strep. She was feverish and delirious. She complained of being cold. She said that she was going to turn on the oven and open the door to warm up. It freaked me out that she was home alone sick and we were a long way from home.

We finally got home late last night. I checked on Arabella. The house was trashed but the pets were alive. Alex overfed Angel’s fish so that caused a fight. But it was a lot better than our arrival home from Florida last year when our pet sitter was stuck in the snow bank after trying to leave our house that was covered in dog crap, vomit, and urine. Fun times!

I had to take poor Arabella to the doctor today. She does have strep and is delirious when feverish. She was crying and arguing with me about why she should cut her hand off. When asked if anyone else was sick in her house, she responded that the pets were very sick with fleas. She was convinced that the doctor was trying to steal from her. We sure had some interesting conversations.

The saga continues…

 

A flame’s last few flickersĀ 

Yesterday I spent the evening in the ICU.

My mother-in-law Martha collapsed on her way to her doctor appointment. An elderly friend of Martha was taking her to her appointment, pulled over when Martha said she was going to be sick, and couldn’t get her back in the car.

The rescue squad transported her to the nearest hospital where they had no room in their ICU. Then they transported her to a hospital a couple of hours away. This was good news for us because Martha was 20 minutes away versus 2 hours away. 

We drove in nervous silence to the hospital. It was a long, windy, and bitterly cold day. It seemed like I had to park miles away from the door. The sharp winds whipped my face and stung. I ran to get in as fast as I could, but I really didn’t want to go. I was afraid of what I would find. I was afraid of how I might respond.

We searched for a long time down empty corridors for Martha’s room. We didn’t know where to go or what was happening. We weren’t sure what to expect. We had many questions and no answers.

We finally found the ICU. Only 2 visitors were allowed at a time. Paul and Angel went in first. While we were waiting, Martha’s husband Darryl arrived. Angel came out crying. My other 2 children went in. Angel sat on my lap and I held her in my arms while she cried. 

Darryl and I were the last ones to enter. Paul helped me tie on my gown and I put latex gloves on as was ICU protocol. Then I saw Martha. She was so weak, sick, and fragile looking. She asked me if I was okay since I looked so tired. Her concern for me was strangely touching as she was the one in the hospital bed hooked up to machines. She was getting a blood transfusion and had a couple more bags being emptied into her body. She had to sign a consent form but couldn’t quite remember how to spell her name. 

She told me that if she didn’t make it home, I should go through her items with the girls and take what I wanted even though she said she doesn’t have much. I told her I would.

It was all very beautiful and ugly at the same time. All of our previous issues faded away into the past. Yet I felt like I was in the way of the nurse. I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I could do. Nothing but be there for her as her light starts to fade during her flame’s last few flickers.  

Soon our brief time together came to an end. I tore off my gown and threw it in the garbage along with my gloves. I washed my hands in the the sink. Martha told me that she loved me. I told her that I loved her back. 

After a long glance, I walked away and didn’t look back.     

Boot thief

I am going to take the kids to see my mother-in-law this weekend.

The last time I visited, she accused me of stealing her boots. She said that someone, possibly my daughters or I, took her boots and left a pair that looked just like hers behind.

I really didn’t know what to say. Why would I steal my dying mother-in-law’s boots?

I admit, my relationship with my mother-in-law Martha has been rocky at times.

I am structured and overly responsible. Martha is spontaneous and irresponsible. She is usually late and she only does what she feels like doing. If she doesn’t feel like doing something, she won’t do it. She might cancel out last minute after she made a commitment. She usually has good intentions.

She once cancelled out of going to her grandchildren’s birthday party because it was going to be too hot outside and we were having the party outdoors. Or it might rain or might snow. Or she spent all her money at the casino and didn’t have enough for gas. Or she had to work. Or she was sick. Or the hot water heater stopped working and she couldn’t shower. Or the car broke down. Or she needed to go shopping instead. All of these excuses have been used.

Some of my biggest pet peeves are when people don’t do what they say they are going to do or when they cancel out last minute without a good reason.

Most of the time, I didn’t argue. The handful of times that I did over the past 20 some years angered Martha enough not to talk to me for years. Martha is always right. It was never her fault. It’s not worth arguing. I just nod my head and smile if I disagree. It is not worth having my children not have their grandma in their lives over.

I am a peaceful person that avoids conflict, but is never at peace. I am the one that is upset. I am the one that is hurt.

I have learned over time to lower my expectations. I am not upset that she accused me of stealing her boots. Martha is a difficult person. Paul and I talk about the things that bother us so it doesn’t fester into something bigger.

Really, what does Martha care if I am upset??

She is the biggest owner of rose colored glasses that I know. She is happy. She talks of all the things she is going to do when she kicks this terminal cancer. She is happy while she is getting chemo. She thinks she is getting better. She has always lived in her dream world of lies. She is happy. She is happy. She is happy..

I am a realist and I am completely miserable.

Some have called me a pessimist and I would argue. But I would admit I am not an optimist. I want to have both feet on the ground. I want to know the facts. I want to know the truth. I see the world as it really is and sometimes that bothers me.

Is such honesty worth it? Try as I might, I can’t seem to change.

 

Opening the Door..

DSC_0017_copy.JPG

This past weekend, I visited the beautiful Door County located in the thumb of Wisconsin. I even broke some of my rules…

Namely, I was spontaneous. My mom asked me to spend the weekend with her and two of her siblings and their spouses. Less than a weeks notice is spontaneous for me. I did have other plans, like going through my endless pictures to delete them from my server that I almost crashed and cleaning the house for Thanksgiving. But I did blog earlier about needing to put my relationships above cleaning, so I packed my bags and went.

We had a great time away…we played the game Loaded Questions. Great game! We stayed at a large house right on Lake Michigan. The picture above was taken from the front yard. One of the questions asked during the game was what everyone would do on a whim. Most answers involved travel or jumping nude into the lake. Well, except for my mom who answered that she would have a cup of coffee. Hhmm, sad! I don’t take after her… Ha ha ha.

I was tempted to jump into the lake. They had a hot tub near the lake and when I got overheated I was tempted to jump right in. It looked so inviting, despite the cold and all of the empty beaches.

Saturday morning we awoke to the first snow flurries of the season. It was cold and windy. It was so windy at home that trees fell down on power lines and cars. We braved the cold to head out to the winery that morning (where I broke one of my rules). Aunt Jan said that it was too early to drink wine, but she changed her mind. Aunt Jan is usually the one in charge, so we followed her lead. At 10:45 AM, we were sampling wine. Hey, it’s noon somewhere, right?

I ended up buying 5 lbs of pitted tart cherries to make my homemade Thanksgiving pies and a bottle of Summer Breeze wine. They bottle it under the name White Christmas in the winter, but I couldn’t resist the picture of the sailboat on the summer label.

DSC_0060.JPG

The above picture is why we don’t go sailing on Lake Michigan or the bay in the winter. It can be pretty vicious, which is why all of the sailors took their boats out of the water last month. No one wants to be on the water under these conditions. Just think of what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in the gales of November. Great! Now I am humming the Gordon Lightfoot song!

As I was inching my way along the dock to take this picture, an older gentleman screamed out to me “No further!” People have drowned when waves like this have crashed into the dock knocking them over into and under the water. But I didn’t even get close.

We had a great time in Door County and in case you were wondering, I was able to get my house cleaned too!

30. What I hope to be remembered for

Day 30: List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Do you ever wonder what will happen to Facebook or WP 100 years from now? Do you ever wonder what will happen to all of our old posts, comments, and pictures?

A few months back someone shared a post entitled ‘a picture of grandma’. It showed two pictures side by side. The first picture was a black and white from the early 1900’s showing a women dressed very modestly with her hair up in a bun..then the picture on the other side showed a woman from our modern time..she was taking a selfie in nothing but short shorts and a push up bra with an unmade bed in the background.

At first I laughed, but then I wondered what it would be like to have my great-great grandchildren literally see every part of my documented life.

Generations beyond ours will be able to know everything about us. We are the new pioneers for creating future genealogy records. (Hey, I just found my grandma’s blog). Facebook and WP will probably charge tons of money to grant our descendants access. Have you ever wondered why both are free now?? Ha ha ha. JK!

What will it be like to know what grandma ate for breakfast 75 years ago? I wish I knew more about my ancestors..Maybe not that much info, but still!

My grandma passed away after delivering her eigth child when she was around the age that I am now. I know nothing about her. I don’t even know her birthday. I know nothing about her personality. My mom said that her parents were very happy together and that I would’ve loved her mother. That’s about all.

When I was a little girl, I had 2 great-grandmothers that were still alive. I sure heard a lot of stories about them. I wonder if it was because they were unusual women for their day or if people talk more about the living. Both of my great-grandmas had strong personalities and just happened to outlive the rest of my great-grandparents that I know nothing about.

A decade ago, I got into genealogy to learn everything I could about my family history. I took a class at the local library. I went to several archives. I scoured old records. I found a couple of old newspaper articles. I went to cemetaries. I got a computer program and a membership to Ancestry. I scribbled all my findings onto a family tree.

Even though I got back as far as I could, I could only find birth, marriage, and death dates. Just the facts. What I really wanted to find out was who they really were.

I want to be remembered by my writings. I want my great-great-grandchildren to read my blog and understand me. That is what I want to be remembered for. I am hoping to give what I wanted to receive. I want to be more than my dates on a faded piece of paper.

24. Family dynamics

Day 24: Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

Then:

My parents were married back then and still are now, however there was always a lot of conflict between them. My mom was the breadwinner and the one who did a great majority of the household chores.

I was the firstborn. I was overly responsible, a caregiver, a confidante of my mother, and a problem solver. I felt as if I was always an adult and never a child. I was very serious, mature, moody, and intense. I strongly sided with my mother and found myself playing the part of judge picking sides with either of my youngest two brothers.

The world revolved around my autistic brother Matt. The family centered around his care, wants, and needs. If he wanted to go somewhere, we went. If he decided to stay home, we would stay. Everything was about him, the rest of us took the back burner.

Mark was the invisible child. He didn’t rock the boat. He was quiet, serious, honest, stoic, and hard working. He received attention for his work ethic, otherwise he was totally forgotten. He didn’t seem to have feelings, except the anger and depression that manifested in his teen years. He strongly sided with my dad and it was his job to convince my mom to stay when she wanted to leave.

Luke was the clown and instigator. He demanded attention and refused to let Matt have it all. He did wild and crazy things without consequence because my parents were too worn out to handle it. He rocked the boat every opportunity that he could. He strongly sided with my mother and against Mark and my dad.

The family dynamic was very dysfunctional. We did not work together as a team. The environment was constantly stressful.

Now:

Fast forward things a couple of years….and ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ falls in love with ‘Good Will Hunting’. Or if you aren’t familiar with those old movies…the little girl who thought that dysfunction was normal met the little boy without a daddy. We fell in love and got married.. We had no idea what normal or healthy was, but decided to work towards it anyway.

Not long after…we had 3 children..

Our firstborn Angel is our beauty both inside and out. She is overly responsible, honest, and extremely optimistic with a winning personality too. She is a big time people person and would make a great supervisor.

Our middle child, Alex, is the one that rocks the boat. He is honest to a fault. He is smart with a high emotional intelligence. He is not a people person, but can read people well. Sometimes he likes to cut corners, but is willing to work hard if he needs to.

Our youngest, Arabella, is an intellectual. She is very book smart, but can’t seem to read people. She likes people, but also likes to argue. Other than that, she is very easy going.

As a family, I think our dynamics are very healthy. Sure, sometimes there is squabbling. But compared to how Paul and I grew up, our kids have it made.

I guess we are pretty normal…Whatever that is..

 

9.Ten people that influenced me

Day 9: List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

1. My grandma (my dad’s mother)

My grandma was the biggest source of comfort in my life growing up. She took time to patiently listen to me and always made my favorite meals when I came over. She is the number one person that helped me through childhood without totally cracking. Although our personalities were nothing alike, we did share some hobbies such as singing, working puzzles, and reading thrillers.

2. My grandpa (my dad’s father)

My grandpa was stubborn and tough. The last 13 years of his life, his health drastically declined and he was wheelchair bound. Being sick changed him, but through it my grandparents showed me real commitment through sickness and health. My grandma was selfless in her devotion to his care.

3. My mom

My mom was very influential. She taught me to have faith in God even when He seems far away. She showed me commitment by staying in an unhappy marriage. She gave me my strong work ethic. She taught me to find fault in others, but not in myself. I learned to worry and be indecisive from her. But I also learned patience, devotion, peace keeping, generosity, and selflessness from her. Those rare qualities more than make up for any areas that need improvement. She was the best mom anyone could ask for and my biggest parenting role model.

4. My dad

I learned from my dad not to care what others think of me through his eccentricity. He also gave me a propensity towards depression and irritation. I get my lovely eye rolls and sighs from him. He also showed me the importance of caring for my elders.

5. My brother, Matt

My autistic brother Matt has been one of the most influential people in my life. He has given me the most stories to write about. Without Matt, I would not be the person that I am today. He has changed my life so much, I couldn’t even imagine a life without him.

6. My great-aunt Grace (my dad’s aunt)

Aunt Grace was like a grandma to me. She was structured, a domineering firstborn, intelligent, perfectionistic, eccentric, and always right. She told me that I could do anything a man could do. She was the one who pushed (forced) me to go to college. We were so much alike that sometimes we clashed.

7. My husband, Paul

Paul is one of the most intelligent people that I know. He is constantly pushing me to try new things. He encourages me to be anything that I could possibly want to be. Our skill set and personalities compliment each other which allows us to be stronger unified than alone. He is my biggest supporter. I couldn’t have run a marathon without him cheering me on. He encourages me to keep on writing…

8. My daughter, Angelique Hope

Angel has restored my faith that there is goodness and light left in this dark world. She has influenced me to learn how to be a better singer.

9. My son, Alex

Alex has provided me with countless hours of entertainment. He keeps me on my feet and tests my sanity. But underneath it all, he is caring and we understand each other.

10. My daughter, Arabella Joy

Arabella has stretched me by being totally different from me in almost every way. She is very intelligent, eccentric, and a strategic/abstract thinker. She thinks outside the box and pulls me out of my black and white detailed thinking to see things from a different angle.

For good or for bad, my family has been the most influential in my life. Although it seems kind of tacky, my children have been very influential in my life as well.

3.Describe your relationship with your parents

Day 3: Describe your relationship with your parents.

My parents then…

When I was a child, my mom and I were always close. She considered me to be her best friend. As a parent, she did the best that she could and had the perfect amount of strictness. In that area, she has been my role model for parenting. I identified with my mother. She always worked hard. She rarely sat down and relaxed. She was not one to sit and chat. She was always buying gifts for me. When times were hard, she would bring home a bouquet of flowers for me. She confided in me because she didn’t have anyone else that understood.

When I was a child, I hated my father. He never hugged me or told me that he loved me. Instead of teaching me everything that he knew, he told me I was stupid for not knowing what he knew. He never set aside time to spend alone with me. He ridiculed my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams. He was very lenient. He didn’t care when I came home, who I went out with, or what I did. He never sympathized with me. He never comforted me and told me things would be alright. He was never on my team. He never took an interest in my life. He never had patience for me. When the going got tough, he checked out emotionally. If he was forced to deal with me it was usually with irritation, anger, or harsh words. He never said that he was sorry. Our relationship was generally negative.

My parents now…

Fast forward the clock 30 years..

My mom and I are still close. Sometimes I resent her for not giving me a childhood. Sometimes she resents me for having healthy children and a loving spouse, things she always wanted. There was a rough patch in there after my autistic brother Matt attacked my daughter. I felt that she sided with Matt over me. But that was many years ago now. Over time, the rough seas smoothed out into reflective glass. We lived through some very difficult times together. Despite everything that happened, we are still very close. My mother has my utmost respect and admiration for her perseverance through hard times.

My dad and I still aren’t very close, although we probably get along better now than we ever have before. All in all, I don’t believe that my dad is a bad person. But when he had to step up to the parenting plate, he failed miserably. For this reason, we will never be close. I no longer hate him. I pity him for his weakness. I feel sorrow for the relationship we never had and never will have.

In deep water

Last week I signed up for my first triathlon which prompted me to get myself into deep water.

This last weekend my two daughters, the neighbor girl, and I decided to go up north. The weather forecast didn’t look too promising, but it was the only weekend I had available this month to go up. The decision was pushed along a little further by Angel who really wanted to go. She is looking for a summer job and said that it will probably be one of the last weekends that she wouldn’t have to work. Plus I wanted to practice swimming in open water. So we packed our bags and went.

Last minute my brother Luke and his family came up. So did my parents with Matt. In the past, I wouldn’t have been able to bring visitor children up north. But it has been almost 14 years since Matt had a meltdown and hurt anyone, so I felt pretty safe. But I think there will always be the hesitation in my decisions regarding Matt. I can’t seem to forget how things used to be. Things that this new generation rarely had opportunity to see.

When the cabin is packed, sometimes we are in pretty tight quarters. I had to share a bed with my 6 year old niece Gracie one night and her 8 year old sister Mavis the next night. Now, as I found out, Mavis is a restless sleeper. She tossed and turned all night long. Sometimes I would wake up with her legs draped over me or her knee wedged in my hip socket. She stole my covers and they were strewn all over the room before the night was over, or it least it seemed that way. So needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. Sorry if this post makes little sense! Zzzzzzz….

I have to swim 750 meters or about 1/2 mile for the tri. Saturday I decided to swim half way across the lake and back which is close to a 1/2 mile. I never swam across the lake without a tube or flotation device before. I will admit that even though I love water, I was a bit nervous. At times, I was a bit out of breath. I gasped for air and got a mouth full of water instead. At one point, a weed wrapped itself around my inner thigh which elicited a shriek. I have a fear of weeds. That caused my mind to become fearful. When I looked underwater, I thought that I saw big fish, turtles, underwater laughing loons, muskrats, man eating piranhas, or cadavers lurking in the water beneath me. My mind was playing tricks on me at the end. C’mon, it was only a weed! I didn’t have the security of escape. I wasn’t quite expecting how that would feel. 

This morning I told myself and everyone else that I would be swimming across again. I made a huge breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and bacon which I took my time preparing and eating. Then I had a long winded theological debate with my parents. I made sure to wait for the bathroom when the line was the longest. I took my time cleaning the kitchen and washing dishes. Was I stalling, perhaps?? This morning was a bit of a bear. I didn’t sleep well for two nights. It was raining with temps in the mid 60’s with 20 mph winds. Even the hardiest of children did not want to attempt a fun dip in the cool waters this morning. To be honest, neither did I.

Then my mom told a story of someone that fell out of a boat in a nearby lake that got wrapped in the weeds and drowned. She said that is why they had to kill the weeds in the lakes. What??!? Are you kidding me? I never heard such a thing! My mom told me to ask my dad. I asked him and it started another debate between my parents over weeds. Another delay! My mom prompted me to back out which made me want to even more. I did worry slightly about the vast amount of water that I ingested. Perhaps it was full of weed killing poison. Argghh!

I put on my swimming suit and finally headed for the water. The winds were catapulting pine cones at my head, but at least it stopped raining. An eagle circled above. I stood in the water wrapped in my towel for about 15 minutes until I could find the courage to embrace the cool water. I really wanted to chicken out. I really, really did. But I finally did it! I had a very similar experience as yesterday. But I was satisfied with it. I finally was able to get myself into deep water.

Back to the present

Today I struggled with what to write. I want to go back to my autism series that I started earlier this month but so much is happening in my life right now. How can I talk about the past when the present is exciting, here, and almost gone?? I will finish it though. With the marathon last weekend and my first child’s graduation this weekend, I have a thousand thoughts and emotions running through my head. And it all has to fit into one post per day that should contain an average of 500 words. Lol.

Last night, Paul and I decided to call our parents to try to convince them into going to Angel’s graduation. I called my dad and asked him directly if he was going. Now I typically call my dad twice a year, on his birthday and on Father’s Day. So it was a big deal that I was calling him. He seemed happy to hear from me. He told me that Angel was a nice and good girl. He said that he was planning on going to her graduation. I was floored. Then he even asked me how my marathon went. I was shocked that the whole conversation was very positive.

Then I walked out of my bedroom to find that things didn’t go quite as well with Paul and his mom. Martha was on the phone with Angel saying that she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it. But this time she is really sick. So sick that she couldn’t make it in to her chemo appointment yesterday. I believe that she is really sick this time. But I liken it to the story of the boy that called wolf. Martha has been calling wolf so many times over the past several years that now my mind finds it had to believe that there is a wolf.

But there is a wolf. Martha has terminal cancer, the big devouring wolf. A few weeks ago, Martha was going to go with me to see Angel perform her solo and ensemble pieces at state. Martha was supposed to be at my house by nine. I waited around until 11:00, Martha didn’t show up or call. By that time I had already missed half of Angel’s performances. At 11, Paul called his mom and she was still at home an hour away from our house. She wasn’t feeling good enough to go but didn’t bother to call. She was going to try to make it out to eat with us later that evening for Mother’s Day.

I knew that Martha was sick. But it still brought up all of those old feelings that I had towards her for standing up my kids. I was very angry and hurt. I drove fast to get to the remainder of Angel’s events. I was pissed that I wasn’t there to support Angel when I told her I would be there to watch her. Then I even started to feel a little guilty that I was angry with my mother-in-law who is dying. So I have become tolerant. I have repressed the years of resentment, hurt, and anger.

It is hard because now I think that Martha might want to go to Angel’s graduation. But it is too late now. She should have gone to more things when she was able to. She should have been the involved grandparent then. Now it is much too late.