Tag Archives: grief

Don’t Wait to Say You Care!

life-handle-with-care

A friend of mine recently posted some wonderful family photos on FB. I miss her, we grew up together and her Mr. Man took her to the opposite coast. They have had a wonderful life as far away from tragedy they could get and still be in the United States. Her FB photos of her handsome grandson triggered nightmares for me. I’m writing this post to try to exorcise the negativity and avoid stress eating my lunch. My nightmares centered on the dichotomy of the following paragraph. I’ll try not to be in too much of a rant in the following comments.

My friend’s father is the reason that I am a Christian.  Mr. P. was the kindest man I had met growing up.  He demonstrated his kindness as a Christ follower in ways that the rest of us aspire to in more flawed ways.  (So glad I don’t have to work my way into heaven!)  He was a loving father, husband and son.  He served his fellow man in all the ways he could.  Isn’t there always a “but” with humans?  But, he suffered from multiple personality disorder.  We never knew until a horrible thing happened.  He was tried and convicted of the horrible thing and went to jail, never remembering the horrible thing that Jack did.  It left Mr. P. a broken man to think he did this horrible thing and a week of this life was forgotten. What was left was a soul shattered life missing important pieces.

Fast forward to this morning: My co-worker brought her coffee cup into my office today and expounded on the self-centered nature of drivers. On and on she went as if she had saved up all her words to use on this one subject. I agree that we have become a self-centered and sometimes narcissist culture. My co-worker was upset because a vehicle was slow moving, often at erratic speeds. Her niece was driving, yelling at the man, her 18 year old friend in the back seat flipped him off as they passed. My co-workers concern was for possible retaliation, not that the driver might be impaired or the young adults need some anger management and road rage training.

The nightmare, still fresh in my mind, of Mr. P. driving around for a week before being picked up by the police stumbling, hungry, dehydrated and incoherent, rambling as one of his lesser personalities asserted himself. What if Mr. P. had been that erratic driver? What if it was one of my military heroes who suffer daily with PTS? There is a host of mental illness, medical conditions, grief and stress that could result in an erratic speed, not just distracted driving or a jerk driving as a self-appointed traffic monitor . Caution should be a virtue practiced at all times. I tend to practice the negative form of caution, cynicism. Either would have worked, as well as a touch of empathy, during this driver training exercise between my co-worker and her niece.

I have driven at erratic speeds, appearing fine to the world, while grief was crushing my chest like a 500 lb. weight. I would give much to say thank you to Mr. P. for all his kindness and unconditional love to an awkward young girl. I would give even more to erase the horrible thing from their lives. I would trade the rest of my life to be able to be with my beloved. The opportunity is gone. I must wait until my time to see Jesus is due and then I can see them all again. I grieve words not spoken, the road not taken.

Tell your loved ones you care, not only that you love them, but that you care about them. Give them a hug! Cut people some slack and eliminate provoking behavior from your daily life. How much better would this life be if we didn’t swear at each other, call names or gesture obscenely? Consider how you can improve the quality of your life in how you conduct yourself. Dare to care for the human race by being kind!

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Filed under Grief, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Marriage, PTSD

Thirty Two Years A Friend – In Memory of My Beloved

mac-laughing-cameoAugust 30th marks thirty two years of friendship, now lost to this world. I still count the years even though my beloved has been gone these past few years. He is still the best friend I ever had. He was a kind gentleman with a pleasant (and oft corny) greeting ready.  My beloved always respected the boundaries of marriage when I was married to an abusive man, and was always kind to me. He was just a friend, then a friend in need, and then my beloved friend indeed. He was the last of his line, sixth or seventh generation Californian of 100% Scottish descent. He would say he was all Pict. He was handsome to me but, he felt self conscious about his Scottish nose. Always humble about his looks as well as his brilliant mind. He left behind a handsome body without an ounce of fat and a brilliant mind. Dust now but always alive in my mind.

I was an ugly woman during my pregnancy but, he always had a kind word for me. My ex insisted his five months pregnant wife go with him to chop and haul firewood. In retrospect, I think he had hoped I would miscarry. I was horribly naïve in those days and believed everything I was told. I returned home spotting blood, with an extremely severe case of poison oak that lasted until I gave birth and they could shoot me up with steroids. It was nasty, oozing and ugly and covered 80% of my body.

How my beloved could say I was beautiful pregnant is beyond me. He saw things in people I never could. The things he saw were truthful; it just took time to show up. I became beautiful because he loved me into it. I wanted to be the best I could be because it is what he deserved.  My heart and mind were changed because of his enduring kindness and love. He never yelled at me, threw things at me, called me names or put me down. He was capable of great anger and I did make him mad on occasion but, he always chose kindness.

My beloved was a tactical man, a warrior. He was finely honed in body and mind, he drove himself ruthlessly. He could ride (m/c and horses), shoot, track, capture, break/fix, cook and specialized in ECM. He could drop a cocky CHP officer in less than 6 seconds and leave him wondering what happened.  The army believed he had cheated in survival school because he gained weight and sent him through again. (Duck roasted on hot rocks in the sun can be tasty). He served the country he loved both in the military and privately for an alphabet agency. He lived with the knowledge that forever alters your life when you see the evil that men can do.  He often said as long as there was evil in this world, there was a need for men like him.  He suffered from PTS but hid it well from most people. He was a gifted engineer and at one time a critical piece of 80% of all computers in the world was a result of his work or design. He was brilliant and he gave his brilliance to others making several other people millionaires. He gave his wealth away.  He loved people.

One year before his death, as his health began to degrade; he purchased two small life insurance policies in addition to the one he had carried for decades. It made the difference in my life now so I would not have to struggle and lose everything we had worked for. I can still keep and drive his truck that is overpowered with an 8 liter engine.  It hauls around our grandchildren of the heart and pulls the RV he never wanted to own.  (Sorry honey, when you don’t stick around, wives do stuff!) He cared enough to plan for my future without him. He lived on adrenaline.  His high school year book quotes him as the most likely to die before age 30, his tired body quit him at 52.

He loved children and spent his time caring for those thrown away by their parents. Because of his upbringing and early days of extreme hunger, he never let anyone leave his presence hungry. It was not uncommon for him to feed 12 people at lunch time or dinner. He often took someone with us for Saturday or Sunday morning breakfasts. It was expensive but, as an automation engineer, it was how he chose to spend his money. It fit with my Italian ancestry, to feed someone is to love them.

He was not perfect, just perfect for me. He could not and would not practice a work/home life balance. He could not pull back and rest so when he caught pneumonia and the call came to assist someone, he went. I begged him not to go, I went with him and watched as he heaved up the water from his lungs and begged him with tears to go to the hospital.  He was stubborn to the very last and refused.  He expended his very last reserve serving others and died the next day on his terms.

   Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

You were the greatest love and lover I will ever know. Rest now my love, my gorgeous man.

The angels danced in delight and Jesus must have been waiting for you as you took the express lane to heaven and your eternal reward.  You touched so many lives and where you were was a better place because of you.  You are still missed!

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Filed under Grief, Marriage, PTSD

The Cat Died

Cancer, my beloved CJ had a run of 20 great years.  The last few years he didn’t do much except eat and sleep.  I didn’t notice he even had cancer until it was bad because even on the last day, he was eating, drinking and making smells in the litter box.  He gave exceptional purrs.

So it’s August again.  Shitty month!  My birthday, my bitical mother’s birthday and my beloved’s death day.  Now I have to add CJ’s death to the list.  Seriously, what did August ever do!

I’ll see you in September! (with a better attitude)

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100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

Dear Reader, I advise you to do these things on rainy days (I’m not talking about the weather). Bookmark this article or link it or whatever the kids are doing these days, and open it when you’re f…

Source: 100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration, PTSD

Lost – Brussels

At least 30 dead and more than 220 injured

20 dead and up to 130 injured

There will be more, it is so sad but the numbers will continue to roll in.  ISIS rushes in to claim responsibility and Muslims rush into the street spewing hatred.  I find it so hard to understand that kind of hatred.  (I know I am naïve, most of the time it is quite alright with me to be the butterfly with wings.  Please don’t think you have to pull them off so I am no longer naïve).  Harder still, I fail to understand how individuals can believe that their wants, beliefs and “rights” supersede or come at the expense of another human beings.  Have they lost all common sense?

The religion of hate marches on.  How are we to react to them?  I caution you not to get down in the dirt with them and return hate.  I believe in self-defense and even a good offense.  I believe in my constitutional rights.  I practice those rights.  I believe in a strong military and healthy boundaries.  I don’t believe in the right to hate!  Forgiveness might be the right thing to do but, it is certainly the harder and less traveled path.

God left us with two rules, all of the old testament rules are rolled into these two.

Love God.

Love Others.

Take this time to examine your own religion.  Does it judge a group of people?  Does it condemn rather than redeem?  If it does, RUN as fast as you can from them.  Remember the rules, there are no “ifs” in there.  Set healthy boundaries but show love for others.  Love as a verb and not as a noun.  The hatred coming from this religion did not grow overnight, be vigilant with your own, ever watchful so evil cannot grow there.

There is nothing we can do for those that are dead.  The remainder however, need our prayers and love.  Grief is a terrible thing, I’ve seen it twist good people into unrecognizable, mean people.  My prayers today go out to the remainder touched by grief as family, friends and neighbors go through the burden of living while loved ones cannot.  I will also pray for those men and women who took to the streets directly after the attacks spewing hatred.  Lord heal their hearts and pour out the hatred and fill it with your love.

I challenge you to find a way to show love to someone this week in memory of those lost in Brussels.  Honor the dead not with hate, but with love unexpected. Pay for someone’s lunch, take a homeless person a clean pair of socks, clean someone’s house, go the extra mile in your own “house”.  Let our response be swift in love, as it would be in might had it happened here.  In this sad day, remember…

Love God.

Love Others.

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Punching the List

Punch list update! 

The short story, we bought a house, made a repair “punch” list, closed a business, inherited a quilters will, a crafters will, my favorite maiden aunt died and my beloved got sick.  Then he died, all within three years. Breathe.

My beloved managed to slice a good portion of the 100 item punch list before he was promoted to engineer for Jesus full time.  The twenty five items he completed were big ones that would have been costly for me to hire to complete.  He rewired walls and the main panel, replaced rafters, installed two sprinkler systems, built a staircase, installed a floor in the two lofts and more.  I am so thankful for what he managed to complete!  The 76 items left loom over me like an oncoming freight train.  I budgeted for them carefully and set a priority for each item and began to tackle them one by one. 

Saturday morning I was able to put the final coat of paint on the trim around a sliding glass door and hang the blinds.  This was the completion of a long drawn out item that included: repairing water damage to the wall, removing its cause, associated black mold, insulation and drywall, some wiring and replacing a damaged outside light fixture.  I lost the alarm, electricity, light and phone on that wall due to the water damage.  The patio cover on the outside of the wall had to also be removed and the damage to the stucco repaired and trim replaced.  Research and technical advice on how to proceed were required to proceed.  It also required I face my Kryptonite, multiple trips to the big box hardware stores where the service is less than desirable when you don’t know what you are doing!  I am sooooooooooo happy that this wall is done!!!!!!!

I haven’t been brave enough during the last few months to even look at the outstanding punch list.  I could only deal with one overwhelming task at a time so, what was the point.  Today I opened up the Excel spreadsheet to move the wall repairs to the completed page and do a review/update of my remaining tasks.  There are some larger ticket items on the list that include:  insulate attic, tile the master shower, replace kitchen window and associated water damage on that wall, replace water damaged kitchen cabinets, remove two crumbling cement pads, replace patio pad, new patio/balcony (old one is removed), new construction of walkway from bedroom to landing in loft.  There are a total of 30 items, the rest are easier and lower cost.  The budget for the entire list is $33,960.00.  I feel so broke just looking at it!  Items that I complete myself will lower the cost but take longer.  Welcome to homeownership.

A review of the completed page revealed that I was completing the tasks at a rate of one a month.  Good right?  At this rate, I will finish the list in almost three years.  I really need it done in two so I can retire and transition to a fixed income.  That means I need to complete seventeen tasks this year, thirteen tasks in 2017 and four tasks in 2018 for a total of 34.  The last four tasks are looking like they may have to just stay a wish and a dream. Reality is, I may not have the money to complete them.

Who knows, if I am brave enough and talented enough to actually finish my three novels and sell them, it might just work out.  My home is no longer the horrible looking pit it was when we bought it in a short sale.  It’s still in the needs improvement  category but I have two neighbors that have usurped me in the “worst” house spot. Each item I can complete on the punch list only improves the look and value of my home. 

The land of optimism is a much better place to live than the dark side.  There are more sane people there.

 

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Grief, Homeowner, Projects, Writing

Anxious Much?

I was raised by a bitical woman (bitter + critical = bitical).  That explains where I learned to fail so well but it does not explain why, equipped with this knowledge, I can’t seem to shake it off.  I ended the relationships that were so toxic and damaging to me completely when my beloved died and they (plural) saw it as an opportunity to attack me personally when I was at my lowest.  I had all but ended relationships with them before but, without my beloved protector and personal encourager, it was no longer possible to have contact with them.  That is their problem, my problem remains but is different.

I set wonderful goals with appropriate steps to complete them; good time frames and even plan outside influences to create my success.  I have great technical plans and then I fail to follow through until completion.  My big girl pants just don’t seem to stay on as long as I need them to.  I shoot myself in the foot on a regular basis and when I get close to the goal line, I fail to finish.  I have volumes of stories that have never seen the light of day. This blog is the first time I have freely let my words leave without rushing to pull them back and protect them from harm.  It is a learning experience for me and, perhaps because I have so few followers, I’ve been able to let it go and be myself.

NaNoWriMo has been a great experience for me to “turn off my inner editor” which is really a technical writer and the child of bitterness.  Coaching others to complete the 50,000 word count has helped me grow and throw out my inner bitical critic. Seven years as a staff volunteer for the San Francisco Writers Conference has provided me with healing encouragement and hundreds of success stories and relationships with people who are happy to see me when I walk into the room.

To stretch those new confidence muscles even more, I have started my own critique group and am going to submit two short stories for publication in an anthology.  It is not so important that I get accepted for publication as it is I actually submit it.  I sent one of the stories to a beta reader.  Not just any beta reader but, one I consider to be a true American hero.  He served as an Army Ranger and later as an undercover police officer.  He gave much for his country, including the life of his mother when his cover was blown.  He is quiet, humble and extremely smart.  The story deals with PTSD, a subject he is an expert on.  I highly value his opinion.

I sent the story to my friend yesterday at 5:00 p.m. and was awake most of the night.  My anxiety level was sky high.  I expected one of two things; he would read it and politely say little or nothing or attack it with a full offensive.  Neither happened.  The time stamp was 10:27 p.m. the same day and he liked it!  His wife liked it! He gave me 12 suggestions (some I should have caught if I wasn’t so anxious).

It is time for me to succeed!  I have awesome friends and an awesome God!  Now Tessa, let it go and get it done.

Worry for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Grief, Homeowner, Life Lessons, SFWC, Writing

Rain in California = Indoor Projects

Textured wall sm

Post Writers Conference To-Do List, Homeowners To-Do List, Work To-Do List, and then there is the offspring Mom “can you” To-Do List.  I need to retire to get some work done!

My Homeowners To-Do List is the one that weighs on me the most.  It is in my face and doesn’t go away unless I’m sleeping.  It is still there in the morning when I wake up.  We purchased the home in 2008 and a series of events quickly overtook us.  My beloved was able to complete 25 of the 100 projects on our punch list.  He tackled the biggest and most expensive ones first before he was pulled away by 60 hour work weeks and his eventual death by job in 2013.  The official cause was pneumonia; only because Americans don’t have the term the Japanese use, Karoshi (death by job). He worked himself to death and I’m trying my best to find balance in my life and not follow his example.

I’m grateful for the 25 items he did get done and the 40 that I have completed in the last four years.  Projects including removing hazardous trees, painting, trim work and laying a 1,100 sq. ft. hardwood floor.  That leaves me 35 to tackle.  I am frustrated with my inability to get things done quickly. I would really like to take a shower in the master bathroom but that project does not rise to the top of the priority level.

With a heavy heart, I must add several projects to the list.  The last heavy rain shook me out of my denial and I must replace another window.  I have a heavy heart because I do not possess the ability to replace a window and will need to pay someone to do it. The leaking has been going on for so long behind the paint the sill is a void in the corner. When wiping up the water my finger went through the paint.  I have also decided to add a false wall to hide a butler’s pantry in the great room.  I can do the wall myself if my handyman places the floor plates for me.  I’ve decided this is the best way to stage everything for my kitchen replacement that way most of the mess will be hidden  The cabinets are either water damaged or were chewed on by the previous owner’s dogs.  I still have not replaced the ugly kitchen floor.  I really wanted to run the bamboo flooring into the kitchen but the grandchildren have made me rethink.  My 11 year old grandson has dropped a regular hammer and a small sledgehammer on the new hardwood in the den and left dents, major bummer.  I am having problems with him in understanding that grandpa’s tools are not his just because grandpa won’t be using them anymore.

This week, I need to finish several things so I can get outside when the rain stops!  The trim is now nailed up on the water damaged wall in the den after six trips to unhelpful big box hardware stores to find the right piece!  I’ve already painted the repaired area (photo shows texturing only).  So close, and then this item comes off the list!  I will also complete one more transition in the hallway floor and a second clear coat for the garage threshold. Three items this week, I think that will be enough.

When I’m not pretending to be Mrs. Winchester, I also have two literary deadlines before March 15 and an unlimited supply of overtime that I resist almost daily, almost.  The frustration level is very high this week and I have to constantly remind myself to trust God will bring me through it all.

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Filed under Grief, Homeowner, Prepare, Projects, Stress Reduction, Writing

Spring – Are You There?

I’ve always believed in goals but now that I am a fine and fancy widow, goals have become a critical part of my mental and emotional health.  I no longer am delighted with the love and approval reflected in my beloved’s eyes so I need to measure my own success.  This was a skill that I did not develop until I was 40.  I was not raised to believe in myself and my own success.  I was raised to always put myself last and to endure whatever was thrown at me, including fists.  Having someone believe in you can change your entire outlook on life.  I know it did for me.

I’m suffering from the early stages of spring fever.  My project list is down from 100 to 36 and I am itching to finish something.  The project list doesn’t include the new planter boxes I want or any gardening tasks! I don’t have the baseboard molding 100% done, I need a threshold and door sweep weather stripping installed and there is a 2′ x 3′ section of flooring still left to complete.  The problem is I need the big saw to complete these tasks.  It’s put up for the winter.  During the summer when the rains have passed, I leave the saw out under the awning and put it away for family get togethers.  I was going to drag it out for a few hours on Saturday but there was a light drizzle during the daylight that turned in to a rain at night.

We need the rain desperately!  One of the main NorCal water reservoirs is the Folsom Lake.  The marina has floating boat slip/docks.  They have been laying on dirt for over a year now.  We are far from being out of the water crisis but, I was so happy to see the live camera shot of floating docks!  Folsom Lake Marina Live Cam  Boats are permitted for launch starting this Saturday. Please pray for more snow in the Sierras.

FL Marina on dirt FL Marina Cam 2-5-16

Folsom Lake at capacity would mean plenty of water for the American River and all the towns between Sacramento to San Francisco.  It would mean no restricted watering.  One of the projects on the “list” is to change 1,800 sq. ft. of grass service into stamped concrete.  I removed another 400 sq. ft. from the front yard but never finished the project.  That will require some dirt excavation, a tree removal (it’s touching the roof), a walkway removal and another concrete pour.  Oh, and I’m not supposed to lift over 40 lbs. while doing it!

But the “list” is not getting any shorter, I need to accomplish something!  Arrrrgh!  My doctor said I was supposed to be kind and gentle with myself and stop beating myself up so much, to take it easy.  Raised in a performance for love environment, this is extremely hard for me even today.

I could work overtime tomorrow but I don’t think that is going to happen.  Too much goes to taxes and then there is the “list”.  The sun is supposed to shine from 6 a.m. to noon and then cloudy for the rest of the day.  President’s weekend is booked solid for the SAN FRANCISCO WRITER’S CONFERENCE (woot!) so I won’t be working on my projects then.  What’s that old saying, make hay while the sun shines or, in my case, finish something!  I can at least say my writing goals are fairly up to date.  I’ve started a local writing critique group and surrounded myself with author support. How are you sticking to your goals?

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Filed under Garden, Grief, Inspiration, Projects, SFWC, Uncategorized, Urban Farming

Broken

system failure

I haven’t posted in a few months and have spent my energy recovering after mono and strep.  I am back to work and have built up enough stamina to do one or two activities after I get home.  I take care of the fur and feather needs, my own nutrition and then try to lay some more flooring.  I usually manage two or three rows of boards before something starts to ache or I just run out of energy. I’m tackling 1,300 sq. ft. of flooring one row at a time! It will get done just not fast!  I have not planted a single vegetable in the garden either.

While my body may be slightly worn down, my heart is absolutely broken.  I cannot help someone who does not see the problem and we all know that “fixing” someone else’s problems is at best hypocritical and condescending and is not healthy behavior.  I do not want the responsibility for controlling or making someone else’s choices.  That being said, I cannot keep the tears from falling.

I have met a young mother of three, I will name her Phoenix here.  Phoenix comes from the most heartbreaking childhood that was splashed across inter-national media when the details became known.  Both of her biological parents are now in jail, her mother for at least 15 years and her father on consecutive life sentences.  I am grateful they are out of their now adult children’s lives but the terror and havoc they wrecked still continues as it is ingrained into their very DNA after so many years of continual abuse.  Because all of the victims involved are “aged out” and poor, they have exhausted all social services has to offer.

The father of Phoenix’s three children also comes from an extremely dysfunctional home that barely borders on legal behavior.  Phoenix looks to me as a mom figure because we are both domestic violence survivors.  I have made my own personal success my revenge and for years my mantra was “living well is the best revenge”.  I caught on early in my recovery days that getting even or snarky would only further hurt me and not the person I wanted to hurt.  I let it go, it was squealing like a piglet when I let go, but I was able to do it.

Phoenix has been to counseling, she has overcome so much.  But, this family is trapped in an economic cycle of poverty.  It is like trying to scale the wall of the Grand Canyon without climbing gear.  She doesn’t even know she can climb much less what a carabiner, harness, belay or an ascender is.  Telling her she can climb makes no impact on her.  Opportunities have presented themselves to her in the last few weeks but she does not take advantage of them.  Phoenix professes she is not afraid of the opportunities, just not interested.  She does not see a better way of life for herself and her family.

You have heard of the Stockholm Syndrome where the captive begins to love the captor.  Similarly, Phoenix is trapped in extreme poverty and poor living conditions because she cannot see the opportunities or where it will take her.  Where she is at now is better than before.  She passes on opportunities because she cannot see how they will benefit her future and presents indifference to the world.  It is possible that she just does not believe she could be successful and it may even be mixed up with some survivor guilt.  It would take a full time team of psychologists to unravel this depth of damage.

At times like this, I truly miss my beloved.  He understood this so well.  He came from this type of horror but moved past it.  He loved me in spite of my own past. He would know what to say to comfort as well as to motivate someone to invest in themselves.  He could convince people into believing in themselves because he could share his own story in a way that gave them hope.

Please pray for me as I make myself available to Phoenix when and if she ever decides to take the next step.  Please pray for Phoenix, her partner and their three children.  Pray that I will remember to love her in a healthy way in the hope that she will someday see better choices and opportunities.

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Grief, Life Lessons