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Archive for the ‘sober’ Category

cactus heartI’ve missed writing immensely. I just have not been up to it. It’s not because I’ve been on vacation. It’s not because I’ve been too busy throwing dinner parties or something. And it sure isn’t because I’ve been out riding my bike. The reason I’ve missed writing immensely is, well, because I’ve missed me immensely. My life as I knew it – as well as the woman who lived it – seem to be long gone. Not just with my chronic health challenges. But at this moment, it is my truth, that as soon as my 85 year old father was diagnosed with his cancer, something shifted within myself as well. The shift happened deep with in my soul. And since I said goodbye to him the morning of February 20th, 2014, my heart has been missing – perhaps misplaced in Tucson somewhere.

What an amazing lesson I’ve learn as my life was turned upside down in a heartbeat – the greed of both of my father’s ex-wifes came gushing towards me.  Now, I’ve seen cheap. And I sure have seen frugal. But, greed? Never have I seen such a sight. It is quite unattractive in a person. I can see now why greed is included as one of The Seven Deadly Sins.

I’ve had to pull the plug on my dark thoughts quite often. And it sure can come out in my writing. Which is bringing me back to the beginning: I’ve missed writing immensely – it is just too dark to share.  And I miss my father so deeply that it’s completely unbearable. How do people do this? I do not know how they have gone before me, but for that I am grateful. Yes, I am grateful for every woman who has shown me that it is possible to continue living with out their father. I am sorry for anyone’s grief who has walked this path before me. For now I understand. For now I know.

It has been too long since I have felt good physically. No one really can actually know the depth of my health challenges – I believe the reason is that it is so personal. And because what I really need in a conversation is hard to come by – don’t give me unsolicited health advise – give me encouragement. And the only person who filled me with encouragement my whole life was my father. He was not perfect. But he never left me. He did not speak negatively of his ex-wife (my mother) when she walked out on us when I was a child – he gave me encouragement as he himself tried to do the things “the mom” is supposed to do.  He did not offer much advise unless I asked – but he sure did give me encouragement! Someone like that is hard to come by. I miss the lost art of encouraging words. I miss my father… I am grateful and honored that I got to be his voice. And I am grateful and honored that I’ve been given the opportunity to be in Tucson.

As for my heart, it is just misplaced, I’m sure I left it here somewhere. Soon, I will hear God’s voice directing me towards it. And just maybe, just perhaps, it will be better than it ever was before…

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Once I thought that I’d live in California forever. But I didn’t.

Once I thought that my dad would live forever. But he was not able to.

I never ever thought that I’d live in Tucson, surrounded by my father’s memories.

But suddenly, I do.

I’ve never known the depth of this grace.

I’ve never known this level of humbling fatherly love.

My gratitude is bottomless. My blessings quiet me.

My love is deep. Therefore my grief is deep.

I am a lucky girl because I am my father’s daughter.

the little road to my refuge. I never thought it would be a place to begin to heal, but it is...

the little road to my refuge. I never thought it would be a place to begin to heal, but it is…

I am just going through the motions day after day, missing my father immensely.

But it is with these motions that I will persevere & find my way & a new life.

Because this is how my father taught me to live.

Keep on pushing until I reach the top of the mountain.

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For the better part of my life I’ve jumped into a nice hot shower, gone to bed and fallen fast asleep.  Who doesn’t, right?  For approximately 5 years now, the level of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue that I live with has made these 2 things incredibly difficult, painful and troublesome. I’ve come up with several survival plans to manage these necessities of life. However – during my father’s illness and passing and the domino effect that still continues to follow – it’s been quite, shall we say, challenging.

For tonight, I will execute one of my little feeling better tricks: The Gratitude List. More often than not, writing it works a heck of a lot better than thinking it… And I am so grateful, that, somehow, I am still sober…

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

 

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

 

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father's cat.

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father’s cat.

 

I am grateful I live on a quiet cul-de-sac.

I am grateful I live on my father’s quiet cul-de-sac.

 

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

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It is June 11th once more – today is my son’s 29th birthday. The following is a re-post of the day of his (fast) birth… And today, during this time of grieving for his grandfather, it is a joy for me to celebrate the man who my son has become.  After putting himself through night school for 2 years, my son received his MBA shortly after my father passed.  Not only do I celebrate my father’s life – I also celebrate my son’s huge achievement and my excitement for him and his brilliant future.  My son is my family. And what a blessed family I have…

Here’s the post I wrote 4 years ago, HAPPY DAY OF BIRTH, SON:

For many years on his birthday, I’ve called my son at 10:08AM – the time he was born.   I get a kick out of being that kind of mom.   25 years ago I was only in labor for 3 hours.   (Yes, I said three hours.)  When we arrived at  the hospital and got on the elevator, the contractions were so intense that I had to awkwardly squat down on my knees for fear I might fall from the pain.  Some how I spoke through my agony as the elevator started to move, “Oh my God, this baby is ready to be born”, I gasped to my then husband.  The people riding on the elevator with me did not say a word as the doors opened when we arrived on the maternity floor.   A couple of people helped me up and off I waddled – on my way to give birth!  My son was over due, ready, and starting to be born while I was still in the labor room (I’ll spare you the details) and by the time they finally wheeled me into the delivery room, Tyler was on his way!  I noticed my doctor had not even arrived yet.   “Where’s my doctor?!!”  Needless to say, things were getting a little exciting during my speedy “FedEx” type of delivery and apparently I thought that was as good of a time as any to start screaming my head off.   No, not like a woman in labor, but, perhaps like a woman who was witnessing a murder or something.   At that exact moment, my doctor literally burst through the doors of the delivery room.  He held his cloth face mask over his nose and mouth with his hand as the untied strings hung freely and  touched his plaid shirt.  As he was holding the face mask in place, I noticed he had on a beautiful, big artistic silver turquoise ring with a matching watch and band.  Incredibly masculine.   I felt relieved at the sight of my cool and hip doctor and stopped screaming as I got back to business and continued to push.  To my dismay, my cool doctor started to scold me for screaming at the top of my lungs – he had heard me from down the hall.  “Geeze.  Well, where have you been?”  I said to him.   And then he started to explain how first babies usually don’t arrive so quickly while one of the nurses started tieing his face  mask on for him while another helped him with his scrubs while I was pushing and pushing and . . .  then  . . . . silence  . . .  “It’s a boy!”   More of that silence.   (But he is lavender?  Are they all like that? Lavender?)  More silence followed by my son’s father crying and barely getting the words out, “I knew it was going to be a boy!”  He looked at me and said, “Can I hold him first?”  I nodded my head, “yes”.

The silence that was getting my attention was that my son was not crying, he didn’t even peep.  Not a sound.  It made me feel uneasy, I mean, after all, he was lavender too.  I did not remember receiving a memo on lavender babies.  “Is he ok?”

“Yes!”

“Why isn’t he crying?  Isn’t he supposed to cry?”

“You know what?  I don’t think your son feels like crying.  He is just fine.  A fine, healthy baby boy.”  I’ll never forget my doctor’s words.

Quiet new son Tyler was being held by his grateful sobbing new daddy.

And that is pretty much how my baby boy has been for most of  his 25 years, incredibly mellow, cool, calm and collected.  Totally together during any kind of confusion, chaos or stress that life can bring.   He just has that kind of demeanor, along with an occasional  joyous loud laugh that makes anyone want to laugh along with him.

Yep, amazing to think he was born 25 years ago.   My son was born in 1985.  I got divorced – as well as sober – in 1987.  The odds were completely against me to make it on my own, let alone be a good sober mom.   No child deserves a drunk parent.  A drunk parent can change even the most mellow of kids.   There is no reason or excuse to be drunk, especially when there is a solution and a joyful way of life to be found.   It is always possible to find a solution, eventually.

My last drink was on August 1st, 1987.  My 30th birthday.  I was ready.

My blessings are abundant.

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me, my big brother and my dad. michigan 1959

me, my big brother and my dad. michigan 1959

My father peacefully passed away 12 days ago.  I have vivid dreams of him almost every night.  While my grieving has been quite unbearable and I do not seem to have the energy to answer my phone – I am comforted to know that perhaps my father has finally found my brother. My dad would be so happy to see him again. . . I love you Dad.  I know  you promised that I will be happy again – but I just don’t think that it will be today. . .  but maybe tomorrow. . . 

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IMG04047-20131228 Tucson fireplaceAnother late night as it reluctantly creeps towards a dark early morning. I can not sleep. I can not seem to breathe. My loss of appetite is bothersome. My entire body thumps with each beat of my weary heart.

I am well aware that I am not the first to walk in the wake of a loved one fighting to live. Cancer has only one destination in its horrific plan. However, my father has a much different plan. A clever plan. A plan so clever that all of us who are around him seem to be baffled as they watch him walk with out the aid of a wheelchair or a walker. And they watch him gain weight while he can only have nutrition through a tube that protrudes from his belly.  This feeding tube is due to the damage of the radiation – not the damage from the throat cancer. Even with the confusion my father lives with now – my phone rings in the middle of the night and he tells me with his painful sounding voice – before any of the caregivers bother to tell me when I call during the day – that “something is wrong“.  (By the way, I have found even better medical care for Dad!)

If these remarkable things have occurred, then why my bottomless sadness?  Why the isolation? Why the sleep deprivation? Why the private meltdowns…?

Because my father’s soul is changing. His larger than life personality is changing.

Once again it is all about the choices we have to make in life and then learning to live with and accept our choices.  And today – today was the day I saw the true reality that he is indeed beating the throat cancer, but the radiation and chemo treatments seemed to have relentlessly beaten him into becoming another person that resides inside his skinny body.  Quietly I hope this is temporary. It must be temporary.

While I was sitting with my father and holding his hand today, without warning, another piece of my heart broke away and crashed on the floor as if it was an ice glacier slipping into the Antarctic Ocean.

I have never admired my father so much – nor has he ever taught me such an important lesson in life.

As much as I long to sit and spend sweet time with the love of my life who lives in California – I will remain in Tucson to fight for my father so he can be as comfortable as possible for as long as he chooses – because this is the right thing to do.  And because of all of this, I am full of gratitude and I see and feel that God is with us at all times.

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I’ve been staying in Tucson longer than I originally anticipated. 9 weeks ago I arrived with endless hope and energy.  As today comes to a close I feel the weight of endless sadness – reckless sleeping has pushed down my weary shoulders and clouded my eyesight. I am amazed at the amount of tears that continue to fall many times a day.  I duck into an empty bathroom or I sit in my car, or suddenly I can not hold myself up as I am standing alone washing the dishes in my father’s empty home.

Is this the way life is now?  I am unable to see out.  Suffering from serious sleep deprivation as I make endless decisions for my father’s care.   I find myself with the suprising and distracting task of convincing caregivers that my father is in their facility to recover from throat cancer and chemo – not die – recover!  I have learned the hard way that because my father is quite thin and is on a feeding tube many false assumptions have been made.  My hope and faith is tested as I take someone aside to explain that my father is already a miracle!  can’t you see that he is walking unassisted?!  He was in a wheelchair only 2 months ago. PLUS he has gained 7 pounds since he went on that feeding tube.  I am quite clear on my hope.  I am quite clear I am spreading a positive force of healing thoughts. I am quite clear as I share my admiration for my father’s unwavering determination.  Yes, his confusion is heart breaking – however – he is tenacious and healing!

Caregivers giggle when he makes a face like a frog with a wide turned down mouth. Then he makes a face like a fish and puckers up.  “Ga. Ga. Ga!” he says with his broken raspy voice. “Ka – ka – ka!” He says with a sly smile and wink.  “Wow! Good ones Dad! You’re really improving!  Keep up the good work!” I tell him with a gentle hug. “Your throat exercises are making a big difference Dad!  I can tell.  I just know it to be true.  I catch a couple caregivers tilt their head with sudden understanding.  They ask questions. So my father teaches them what he is doing to rebuild his throat muscles.  The tumors that were at the top of his throat and airway are gone now.  He speaks highly of both his oncologist as well as his Speech Pathologist who visits him on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Yes, it is another day in the life with surviving throat cancer.  But the good news is, my father’s hard work, combined with hope and my private tears and prayer is paying off in baby steps. The Speech Pathologist gave him 3 sips of water yesterday and then 3 sips of apple juice. He did not cough. He did not choke.  He swallowed – he drank them. It was magnificent.

And the best news of all is that my father’s alma mater, Michigan State, won the Rose Bowl.  All we can do is the very best we can do.  Half measures avail us nothing.  It’s another blessed day in Tucson.  It is the recovery that comes from hope. Tears are allowed with hope. Confusion is allowed with hope.  Sleepless lonely nights in an empty house can still have hope and blessings in every corner.Tucson Sunset

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