Today, while I was updating a woefully out-of-date profile on WordPress/Gravatar I re-affirmed a most basic part of myself. I am in awe of life.
Old enough to know better. I wander in awe amid the complexity, order, and nuance of life. The ripples of small acts amplify my belief in goodness. I try to let those ripples carry me along as I observe, write, share, and curate.
A while back I made this shareable graphic. It is along the same lines. There is some consistency in my nature and actions.
I spent half the night, this past night, awake and ruminating in a way that I rarely do. Once I woke every night with concerns, what-ifs, and relived painful and confusing times. I rarely do that these days, or should I say nights?
I do wonder about what ifs, branching realities, and alternate universes. As a mature woman I do not spend a lot of time in wonderment over those things though. Concerns still plague me, financial for the most part. I so wish I could help my husband by bringing money into our lives.
My creative worth brings great enrichment to mine, but I know I am a needy weight financially to him. It would not have been all that different had I had myself declared disabled due to depression and PTSD. But I simply have not been able to do that. I do not believe I am mentally ill. I do have some challenges, however. I wanted to write an article for SheKnows.com in May about my struggle with mental illness but there is nothing wrong with my “mentals,” and they seemed to want people to come out about mental illness. I am not sure that is necessary.
Oversimplification does not help anyone. Fables, analogies, metaphors and allegorical tales are lost on the overly literal members of society.
I was abused as a child, or perhaps it was neglect. It was both. It is still difficult to define because I bought into my mother’s off kilter view of life. So there is still a part, a very small part, of myself that tells me, “You had a hand in it.” And she was at times a good mother. In this all or nothing society, a bit, both, or somewhere in between is not well received. We want things clean and simple.
Nothing is simple. Everything is a woven intricate mesh of interrelationships.
I need to finish something. I need some alone time, some time to focus. I need to find a way to have my husband understand that the more he hovers around the house, the more tense and unproductive I am. His office is quite close at a nearby University and unless he is meeting with an other professor or research group or has an appointment with a student, he is working at home more and more often writing reports, writing grants, and doing the administrative work that goes with being a successful research professor. I am not a person who can get anything done when anyone is nearby. Whether it is cleaning or writing, I need huge chunks of time and space to myself to accomplish anything.
To me it seems like my husband is always here at home. It isn’t true that he is always here, but his coming and going several times during the day distracts and disrupts me and makes me feel like he is here or due to come back any second. He doesn’t keep a regular schedule and that unpredictability promotes insecurity in me. I like to know what is happening when.
That is my summer challenge. If I don’t finish one of my projects soon I am just going to dissolve into a puddle of jello-ish (line) indecisive incompetence.
I’ll feel better tomorrow. I will figure out how to frame this as best I can, but re-framing alone will not give me more alone time or space. I am consistent and I know my needs.
I wrote much of this post in July 2015:
I spent a lot of the day with my brother, Jim, reading prayers he liked (Psalms), ones I like (Buddhist), telling him I love him, talking to him about family, telling him his love for me was always something I cherished, that we would make sure his wife of 52 years is okay. After I said good-bye I wandered around Costco and waited for a storm to pass while I nibbled samples and bought nuts and energy bars for the road. And waited for a nephew from another brother, Roger, to call me. He did not call. So I just went out to his house and found him there. I do not understand everything about the way he is living, but he has had to cope with so much all on his own. His dad had dementia for a quite a while longer than I knew before he really began to physically deteriorate. My nephew took the brunt of it. I offer support as best I can, but I have never been close or a real part of his life and he heard his dad’s paranoid rants about me, and everyone else, for much of his life.
I am really tired, and the closing of some of the last of the doors to my natal family promises a kind of sad peace. It is sad as when there is no one with whom to share memories of a time; the time becomes less and less real.
I only have my husband and daughter, the rest of my immediate family is gone. I am so very proud of my daughter and will do nothing to impede her progress. I’m glad we have a good relationship. Seeing her once or twice a year at best, is so very difficult. Hubby and I have settled into a quiet friendship. Different interests, but again no terror. I lived in terror and in full tilt fight or flight mode for so much of my life, I cannot go there ever again.
So much has happened this past week. A week ago I said good-bye forever to my eldest and last surviving brother. He died on Weds at 3:25 a.m. I was in Chicago with my daughter. I picked her up at O’Hare on Monday evening and had dinner with long time friends of mine. Tuesday we went wedding dress shopping. Wednesday we met another friend who happened to be in Chicago-land for drinks and dinner. Thursday we drove to visit my daughter’s fiancee’s and my grand dogs place in Minneapolis. Friday was a fun day and we took in the Walker Art Center. Saturday I woke up with a migraine and scrapped any plans for driving to eastern Indiana that day for my brother’s funeral as driving on the medication I take for migraines is not safe. By today I realized I could not endure the 12 plus hour drive to Indiana, through Chicago, with the tail end of a headache and the nasty weather that is moving through MN to IN today.
The truth be told, I would take little to no comfort from attending my brother’s funeral. I said good-bye a week ago. I have the feeling he moved on Tuesday but his body did not cease functioning until Wednesday. I do not understand all the preoccupation with, and preservation of, the bodies of loved ones. It seems barbaric to me. I just do not want to remember my brother as a dead body. I would take no comfort from a Fundamentalist Christian Service. Most often they, from my experience, have been more about hellfire and damnation than love and the departed person. I doubt that I could provide much comfort to my brother’s widow or sons.
I hope no one will think me to be a horrible person for not attending the funeral of my brother. Tomorrow I will stop at the time of his service, wherever I am, and meditate on his life.
I did stop that day at a state park with a lake, fishing, playgrounds, campgrounds, stables and riding trails. It was the kind of place that my brother Jim would have loved taking his family when everyone was so much younger. I cried. I sang. I meditated and listened to the jumping of frogs and fish, and the whish of wings and bird song. I recorded some of the quiet sounds so I can listen whenever I need to commune with his spirit.
It is now much later in the year, November 6th to be precise, and the All Souls Procession will be on Sunday evening, two days hence. It will be a year that I have mourned my brother Roger. My brother Jim has traveled away from this life for almost four months. I found a picture of them both together, with Roger as a little kid, and Jim as a teenager, sitting together cuddling, before I was even born, that I will carry in the procession this year.
Did I tell you that I found out last year, on the way to the procession, that Roger was gone? The procession will always hold a special place for me.
This is what I will carry in the procession.
This year I walk to remember and honor the two brothers I lost this past year. Another year I will include a portrait of all my brothers including the two brothers who passed on earlier, Max, who I lost in 2005 – ten long years ago, and Dave, who passed on in 1998. Of course I walk remembering them all along with my parents, and cousins, and aunts and uncles. But this year I walk to help me say goodbye and to honor the most recently passed who have joined with my other brothers in the land of the departed.
Donald Featherstone touched lives, created a cultural icon, and made people smile. That sounds like a pretty good life and legacy to me.
I have to utter thanks one more time as he is laid to rest; he passed away a couple days ago. Pink flamingos are iconic in and of themselves. But the plastic ones are more so. He invented these.
Created at the height of the post-WWII baby boom, in 1957, the same year I was born and the same year that Sputnik launched, the pink plastic lawn ornament captures the essence of an era it helped to create. Or at least it captures one essential view of the era.
To me the prototypic 1950s image conjured up by the word retro is an image of a platinum blonde woman wearing pointy frame glasses, a wasp-waist full-skirted dress, emerging onto steps from an Airstream travel trailer onto a perfectly manicured lawn decorated with pink flamingo lawn ornaments.
Such pink flamingo lawn decorations served as trail markers for the path at the top of Mount Lemmon to Lemmon Meadow where my husband and I exchanged wedding vows in June of 1989. I wore a flamingo pink dress. We loved retro kitch! The bathroom in our first home was “the flamingo room” that iterated the theme in the shower curtain, the toilet plunger, towels, framed pictures, and just about every bath-related product that friends could find and buy for us from a Five and Dime or touristy gas station souvenir shelves with a flamingo image.
We have always had a few flamingos displayed in our home. There is a gorgeous, well-framed professional photograph of a flamingo that was a wedding gift. An Audubon print of a flamingo is in my hubby’s study.
We took a pink flamingo with us to Niagara Falls to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Is it accidental that Donald Featherstone had a bit of surname determinism playing out in his life? I suspect not.
Yes, this ad leads to an Amazon listing where you may purchase a Featherstone Flamingo.
This will not be a huge post, not intended to change other people’s lives, nor for getting page views, or for furthering other bloggy-world accomplishments, but it is about my biggest, best, most wonderful accomplishment in this world: My daughter Phoebe. She is pictured below with her fiancé, Adam.
I love her more than life itself. She taught me more about love than I ever dreamed of knowing. I am proud of her. I love laughing with her. I miss her physical presence as she attends grad school around the Great Lakes and I am here, where she was born, in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.
I love you Phoebe, Happy Birthday! As always, you are the light of my life…
…as you have been since your birth!