Yard Work = Thinking Time

OK, I lied. I didn’t go to the gym today. The sun was out and it was 45 degrees, so I decided to clean up the flower beds. They are a big mess and they need to look decent for when we sell our house in the spring. I worked for 3 hours, so I got a much better workout than I would have at the gym. I am going to be VERRRRY sore tomorrow in places I forgot exist. I looked at the clouds to search for my mom and I did a lot of talking to her while I was outside. I’ve always found yard work to be relaxing¬† and a good time to do a lot of thinking. Of course, I thought of lots of things I wish I could change. I wish I would have been a better teenager. I definitely gave my mom a lot of challenges. If payback is a bitch, I’m in for a lot of trouble with my own daughter.

I also wish I could have changed a lot of things for my mom. She was pretty bad at choosing men. I know she would admit this herself. She was divorced from my dad when I was only 2 years old. He wasn’t a very nice person. She went on to marry my step-dad when I was 6, who also wasn’t a very nice person. (I’m being very kind with that statement.) Since I was just a little kid, I had no idea what was to come with him. I knew, even as a 6 year old, that I didn’t like him very much. I wish I could have told my mom to be a little more picky and wait for someone better. My mom was beautiful! She could have had anyone she wanted. I think she had very low self esteem and didn’t know her worth, so she went for the first guy who paid her any attention. I’m so sorry she didn’t grow up to know she was worth so much more. They divorced when I was 14. Thank the Lord!! I did the happy dance on that one. A couple years later, she married the most collassal asshole to walk the Earth. After you read this, if you know someone worse, please let me know. His name was Bob. My mom had been out drinking one night and fell asleep in her car. Now I’m not defending her for drinking and driving. She only had a few blocks to drive, so I’m guessing she thought she was alright. I think I was staying overnight at a friends house that night. She made the mistake of calling Bob. Well, Bob was the Assistant Chief of Police in our town. Mr. Asshole called the officer on duty who gave her a DWI. Nice – huh? Wait… it gets worse. One night I had heard a noise downstairs, so Bob got up to investigate and took his gun with him. He didn’t find anything, but when he went back to bed, he slept with his loaded gun under his pillow pointed at my mom’s head.¬† Do you know anyone worse than that?! I’ll bet you don’t. I told my mom several times not to marry him. I begged her not to marry him. She said we couldn’t survive unless she did because we didn’t have any money. We were flat broke. I told her we would find a way. I was 16 at the time. I wish I would have gotten a job. I could have just given her the money. I know that none of her friends would have let us go hungry or without a place to live. My boyfriend’s family would have let us stay with them. I know they would have. We would have found a way for a couple years. The day I left for college, she walked out the door and left him. The best move she ever made. A few years later, she finally met her soul mate, John. They celebrated 30 years of marriage this past August. I often wonder why she didn’t meet him first. John often jokes that they didn’t meet first because it was illegal. He is 9 years younger than my mom. Since she had me when she was 21, he would have only been 12. Ha ha! I’m grateful that she found him and they had 30 wonderful years together. She was happy at last.

I do however, think she suffered from PTSD from Bob sleeping with his gun under his pillow. He did it more than once. Who knows what else he did to her? She was also sexually harassed at one of her jobs. She didn’t tell me until many years later. I wish she would have told me, because I would have gone and punched that jerk in the face. She had night terrors for over 20 years and I think these are the reasons. I told her to go for counseling, but she always said it didn’t help. I kept telling her to find different ones until she found one who helped. Maybe if she would have found someone, she would still be here. You can’t go through years with no sleep. It’s hard on your heart.

My mom was having therapy for her broken ribs when she started having trouble breathing and they took her to the ER. This is when she had the heart attack. John found her phone broken in 3 pieces on the floor where she was having therapy. I wonder if she was trying to call me. What would she have said to me? Would she have told me she thought she was going to die? Would I have gotten to talk to her one last time and say I love you? What happens when you die? I think that she saw that bright light and she knew she was on her way to see her mom and dad, who she has missed so much these last several years. I think knowing she would see them and be free from so much pain was so strong, that she went for it. I think she knew that I could take care of myself and that my husband would take good care of me. I know she’s in a good place and she is with God. I know she’s free from pain, she can sleep and she is with my grandparents, and that comforts me the most.

Somehow I have noticed that a lot of TV shows have been about grief lately. Maybe I’m just noticing it more than usual. If you are a Grey’s Anatomy fan, last night’s ending resonated with me when Meredith said something like “what’s the best way to grieve… however the hell you want”.

I made it

Well, I did it. I went to the gym today. I was unsure the entire drive and debated turning around all the way there, including as I drove into the parking lot. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face people and talk about where I have been. I know that getting there is half the battle. Sure enough, the first person I saw when I got in the pool said “I haven’t seen you in weeks”. As I teared up, he said “I know, no excuses”. I told him my mom died a few weeks ago and I’ve barely been able to leave the house. He said he was sorry and said hopefully the exercise would be good for me. He’s a nice old guy, so I know he didn’t mean any harm. He couldn’t have possibly known. I made it through the class, until the cool down song, which is always a sad song. I started crying after the class ended. I fully expected it. I know this will take time. It did feel good. I’m going to go back tomorrow.

I also made appointments with my trainer for 2 training sessions in upcoming weeks. I have to get back on the horse. I can’t just sit on the couch and get fat. I did manage to get a laugh in at that lady across the pool who makes the really stupid faces when she works out. The lady next to me and I were cracking up at her. She thinks that she is doing face exercises. I think she looks like a drowning fish. It felt good to laugh at something, even if it was at someone else’s expense. She didn’t know we were laughing at her. She was all the way in the other pool.

Also, I have to ask… what is the deal with the Black Friday sales today? It is November 1. Is this stuff really going to start the day after Halloween now? Before you know it there will be Christmas sales on Labor Day when the kids go back to school. I’m sorry, but I’m just not in the mood this year. The first time I hear a holiday song before Thanksgiving on the radio, I’m turning the channel. I’ll send the obligatory Christmas cards. I already wrote the letter and cried the whole time. This was a really SUCKY year. I’ll make it great for my child because I’m determined to be a great mother and make sure when the inevitable day comes that I am gone, she has wonderful memories of me. What do I want for Christmas? I want my mom back.

Please don’t tell me to get a grip or get a therapist. I have a therapist and it’s only been 3 weeks. I’m not bringing my family down. They are very supportive. It’s called for better, for worse. And my daughter is the sweetest little thing. She gives me lots of extra hugs and kisses. She had very little time to get to know her grandma as my mom has lived in Florida for most of my daughter’s life. It’s still a big loss for her, she was her favorite grandma. She has her moments of sadness, but overall she is doing pretty well. Better than me. If you’ve lost a parent, you know the sadness. If you lost one unexpectedly, you can relate to the devastation. Especially when they didn’t live nearby. This is the hardest thing. I hadn’t seen her in 10 months, and that time it was only for 1 day. I hadn’t spent any significant time with her since Christmas 2016. I envy people who live in the same town as their parents. I haven’t lived in the same town as my mom since I left for college. My dad has been gone for 14 years. I have no siblings. I am an island.

Keep Trying

I keep trying to get back to normal, but I don’t think it’s working. Last night I was determined to get back to the gym today. My husband is off work this week to use up some vacation time, so he is doing all the driving back and forth to school for me. I told him he didn’t have to, but he said he wanted to give me a break. I set my alarm for 8:15 this morning so I could make it to a 10:00 water aerobics class. I turned it off and swore I would only sleep for 15 more minutes. I woke up at 9:46. Clearly, sleep was more important to me, but I had been in bed for 12 hours. A clear sign of depression. I am tired all the time. I think I could sleep for weeks on end at this point. I obviously didn’t make it to my class. I’ll try again for the 10:00 class on Thursday.

Today I had a doctor appointment. The doctor came in and asked how I was doing and I said not great. I must have had a look on my face because he said “that bad?” I have seen this doctor for years, so he knows me pretty well. I burst into tears and told him about my mom. Most of the time, I’m pretty good at just saying I’m fine even when I’m not, but not this time. Of course, he’s a really good doctor who talks to you like a normal person and he listened to me and gave me a tissue. I said I was sorry and shouldn’t have said anything. He told me it was fine and that was the place to talk about it and he listened to me for several minutes before we even talked about the reason I was there in the first place. Thank goodness for doctors who just listen and don’t rush you through your appointment.

The world is full of wonderful people who will listen, sometimes you just have to find them. I’ve got a few, not many, but there are a few. A couple friends have asked me out for lunch. Thank goodness. I’ll try not to cry on their shoulders and just act normal if I can. But at least I know they don’t expect me to be normal just yet.

Life Must Go On

Yesterday I spent the entire morning going through my hope chest desperately looking for cards my mom gave me for birthdays or Mother’s Day, just to see her handwriting. I realized that much too often I throw away cards. Shame on me. I wonder how much stuff I have not kept that she has given me. Then I crawled in bed and cried for a few hours. Yesterday I had somewhere to go and wanted to wear one of her tops that I brought home with me, but I couldn’t bring myself to get it dirty. Then I would have to wash it and her scent would go away.

As much as I hate it, I’m trying to realize that life must go on somehow. I have a child and I can’t sit around and cry all the time. It makes her upset and she is trying to be brave and be my comforter. She is too young to act grown up and comfort me. I have to be the adult, no matter how much it hurts. On Saturday I took her trick-or-treating with her best friend. I wasn’t really in the mood to even leave the house, but it helped me to get out and see all the kids dressed up and having fun. The girls were really cute and their faces lit up when 2 of the houses both gave them 20 pieces of candy. Yes – they really gave them 20 pieces of candy!! Kids have a way of cheering you up when you are really down.

In the last 10 days, we have been to two concerts. It just so happens we bought concert tickets way back in February to these concerts that fell within two weeks of each other. Who knew back then how life would change in October? We saw the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. I wasn’t in the mood for either one, even though the Eagles are my all time favorite band. I have seen them 7 times. In 2013, my mom and I flew to New York to see them. We had the BEST time! This is all I thought about the day of the concert and I was dreading it, but we spent a literal ton of money on the tickets, and my husband would kill me if we didn’t go. He convinced me that my mom would want me to go and have a good time and he was right, as he always is. We did have a good time. When “Heartache Tonight” came on, I thought of my mom right away because I always remember her teaching me how to rollerskate to that song. I quietly dedicated it to her. During Fleetwood Mac, I really didn’t want to go even more so. We were going with friends and going out to dinner. I wasn’t feeling sociable in the least, but again forced myself to go. They played a Crowded House song, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and I cried. I know it has nothing to do with death, but it made me cry because I want to think my mom will come back and it’s not really over. The very last song was called “All Over Again” and was kind of a downer for a last song. It was mostly a song about troubles in love and doing it all over again, but it made me really sad. I thought about my mom and all the problems she had in her life. She had a lot of troubles in love, but also a tremendous amount of health problems, but she still led a happy life. I would like to think that she wouldn’t change a thing. I think if she had the chance, she would do it all over again.

This Life

I’ve come to realize that we all go along thinking our life is completely normal… until it’s not. My life was completely ordinary, and I expected a completely ordinary day 3 weeks ago, until my husband walked in the room to tell me my mom passed away. My life hasn’t been normal since. I don’t know when it will be again. I walk through my days like a zombie. Bursting into tears for no reason. Wishing it wasn’t true. Waiting for my phone to ring telling me she was just kidding and she is really still here. Every time I hear a ding with a text, I think it’s going to be her. Somehow I just can’t accept it. It was so sudden and she was so far away. I haven’t seen her in 10 months. How can this possibly be true? I don’t get it. How can someone go to the hospital with broken ribs and die of a heart attack? It doesn’t compute in my brain. I went to see a therapist today. She told me about working through the sadness and anger and those other stages. She told me to stay in the present and try not to dwell in the past. I don’t know how to do that. I keep thinking if I would have done more to help her, she would still be her. I wish someone would tell me when the feeling will go away like someone is standing on my chest and punched me in the stomach. Right now I would be satisfied with an occasional smile on my face.

Letter Writing

Today I wrote a letter to my evil step-dad that has been a long time coming. 35 years in fact. If you think only evil step-mothers exist in fairytales, you would be wrong. My evil step-dad exists in real life. My mom married him when I was 6 years old. He adopted me so that I would have the same last name as him, but really it was to take my last name away from my biological dad and to take away my real dad’s rights. He wouldn’t let me have anything to do with my dad. My parents had divorced when I was 2. I never even met my real dad until I was 10, and my mom had to sneak me out of the house to do it. My real dad has been deceased since 2004. I barely ever got the chance to know him.

Since my mom has passed away, I decided to let my anger out on my step-dad. They were married for about 9 years, but he ruined my childhood. He treated me like the unwanted excess baggage that unfortunately came along with marrying my mom. “Oh well, I guess I HAVE to take her too”. That’s pretty much sums up how I felt my entire childhood. Like I was in the way. When I was 7 years old, he took every single one of my toys, put them in the middle of the living room, and told me to pick 2 of them to keep. He was going to throw the rest of them away because I was too spoiled. Then he took a picture of me crying trying to decide which ones to keep. Fortunately my mom came home and stopped him. What kind of monster does that to a child? For some reason, unknown to me, we moved every single year and I had to change schools. I can only assume it’s because they couldn’t afford the rent. We were dirt poor. We lived in trailer parks or apartments my entire childhood. Once the bills were paid, we were lucky to have enough money leftover for food. I was only a kid, so I didn’t know any better, but I’m pretty sure my grandparents bailed them out many times. Let me tell you, I am a million times grateful for my life now having lived the way I did back then. Life was rough as a kid. I went to 7 different schools as a kid. My step-dad was not in the military, which is what everyone asks when they hear this. He was just a jerk. He was always looking for the next best thing or he couldn’t afford the rent. At one point we lived in Fargo, North Dakota. Ya-der-heh. Fargo is a big city and when you move a couple miles away, you end up in a different school district. Well, he had no regard for this and didn’t seem to care much that I had to leave all my friends and start a new school. I had no stability whatsoever and had a hard time making friends. When I did make friends, he criticized whoever I hung out with. To this day, I don’t have many friends because I have trouble making them. I never know if they will stick around. Oh sure, I’ve got 200 friends on Facebook, but no real ones. When my mom died, over 100 people sent online condolences, but not one person came over to see me or sent me flowers.

Anyhow, I sent him a letter to unleash my 35 years of pent up feelings. I did the happy dance the day he left when I was 14. I don’t expect an answer and I don’t really care. I just wanted to get it off my chest. I also wanted to let him know how much my mom has suffered over the last several years. I thought he should know. Additionally, I told him that I found some letters he wrote to her many years ago that proved that they really did love each other. It surprised me because I really only remember the fights. His sister, my aunt, who I still keep in touch with, confirmed that they did love each other a lot. I am actually glad to know that and to know that she wasn’t totally miserable in her marriage. It gives me a little bit of peace to know this and helps me let it go. I don’t want to continue to hate him, but I’m not adding him to my Christmas card list either.

In summary, my thoughts are this… if you have a regular family whose parents have been married and never divorced and they treat you right, you are blessed beyond measure. Cherish that. This is how my husband and I intend to raise our daughter. We have been married for 21 years. Both our parents are divorced. We are changing the script and teaching her the way it is supposed to be.

The Good Old Days

When I was in Florida after my mom passed away, I sorted through many of her belongings. She literally kept EVERYTHING! She kept every single little note that I wrote. Best of all, she has pictures and journals and letters from my grandpa to his parents. I finally had a chance to go through some of it today and sort it out. Including her and myself, I have about 6 generations of photos and information. I only brought back 2 small boxes, so there is a lot more to go through when I can get more back here. I have to try to figure out who a few people are going back a few generations. Of course, my mom would have the answers, and I so wish we had gone through this stuff together at some point. I don’t know why we never took the time. I intend to make sure to put this all into scrapbooks and label it for my daughter so she can keep it forever and hand it down to her children and grandchildren. As we were going through it today, I told her to make sure she gives it to her most responsible child someday to hang onto, and to keep passing it down.

The letters my grandpa wrote home to his parents are ordinary, but very humbling showing how much he cared about his parents. He was 22 years old. He was the oldest child and working away from home, with 6 younger siblings at home. In each letter he asked how everyone was doing every time. I was hoping to find a letter where he met my grandma, but didn’t find one yet. I did see a letter dated in 1934 on my birth date. I wonder if he could have possibly known I would come along on that date many years later? I had to laugh when his first son was born and he described in his letter to his mother that the doctor says he looks like him, but he looks just like every other baby he has ever seen. Ha ha!

There are also tons of pictures of my great-grandparents and the family. My grandpa was one of seven. Those pictures are a treasure. My great-grandma also has pictures of herself with her parents, so there are many I have to figure out. I gratefully have one picture of myself with my great-grandma. I was blessed to know her. She died when I was 8. She was 88 years old and she remembered me every time she saw me. With 7 children, who all had kids of their own, and they all had kids… she had many great-grandkids. There were a lot of names to remember. I was surprised she remembered me every time. She would say “you belong to Roy (my grandpa), you’re Betsy’s daughter”. I think there is a picture somewhere of all of us (4 generations).

In the box I brought home I also found tons of letters I wrote to my mom. I must have been constantly writing her letters. I would just write her a note from my room and give it to her. I wrote her tons of letters from college. I clearly really missed her when I was away at college. I know I did, I just didn’t realize I wrote her so many letters. I feel like such a schmuck because over the last few years I’ve gotten so busy with my life and my own child, I feel like she and I haven’t talked as much as we should have. She moved to Florida when my daughter was an infant, so we certainly haven’t seen each other as much as we should have. I can’t ever get that time back or even say I’m sorry. I miss her so much, I don’t know what to do. I know how much she loved me and I know she knows how much I love her, so I’m holding on to my good memories.