Birth Truths

Jannie,

Sometimes I have things I feel the need to share with family.  You are always my 1st choice, because of who you are; discreet, discerning.  Think before you speak.

 

Today was the 1st birthday I have actually experienced a reflection back to what I know about Mom and my birth;  it’s about what Aunt Ann shared with me many years ago…reluctantly, but AA was also very forthright and frank with me, always.  During one session of discussion in Florida, when she was there while Cindy was dying…she told me this:

She and Uncle Bill were apparently “double-ing” with Mom (9 months pregnant), and Dad the night before I was born.  They were playing a foursome of cards; I would guess Clabber or whatever (none of which I never was allowed to learn; I asked once, and was told, “you don’t need to learn such things”.  Or some such.)  I think Bob and Ginny were staying at Grandma/Grandpa’s on Harlan, so not sure the location.

During one game, Mom made a “play” that Dad thought was stupid; he yelled about her ‘stupidity’, and *BACKHANDED* her; she nearly fell backward in her chair.  As you can imagine, Aunt Ann told me it was a terrible, frightening moment; she and Uncle Bill were thrown totally off-guard.  Aunt Ann took Mom into the kitchen (or whatever, away from where they were playing cards), as Mom was *inconsolable* with fright (who wouldn’t be?).

I was born the next day, a Sunday, at 1:54pm.  IN MY WILDEST DREAMS, IN MY DEEPEST HEART OF HEARTS, I will never come close to imagining what our mother must have gone through in her mind in those moments in time.

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Ironing and memories

A person posted a question on FaceBook that prompted fond memories of my childhood.  The question was “do you still have an ironing board”, prompting commentary all over the map regarding ironing.

I responded:
“Ironing takes me back to special weekends I would get to spend with my Grandma and Grandpa. Washing laundry, hanging it out to dry in the sunshine, pulling it down and smelling the delicious aroma of outdoors, sprinkling it down with little coke bottle fitted with sprinkling cork, rolling it and stacking in a wooden basket then over a bologna and tomato (fresh from her garden) sandwich and coca cola, iron it all while watching TV with Grandma working a big bucket of snap beans for dinner. Starch wasn’t in an aerosol can, but rather powdered starch mixed with water and “cooked” a bit on the stove, and the pieces of clothing “dunked” in it before hanging on the line outside. And so on. Best times of my childhood.”

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Evangelism: what I experienced

During my childhood, I experienced a number of church-sponsored “evangelical” rallies (kind of like a performance event)…with super-charismatic “performers” purportedly representing “Christianity”, designed to recruit followers. I think I knew, in my young mind, that this was a “staged” thing, and not wholly embraced in it. I just loved the wonderful music, so engagingly presented on a “stage”-like scenario.

The one I remember most was this set of gifted pianist brothers, who performed onstage at giant grand pianos, very loud, very engaging, very beautiful musical scores, etc.; the very essence of ambience that can produce “sheeple” to succumb to a “message”. My sister, the longtime Mormon, was always immensely captivated by these evangelists. I loved the music, and the theatricality, but they didn’t get to me. They def got to her. IMHO, she was always completely gullible to “sensationalism”. Boom.

Note:  her succumbing, in the pivotal moment, was not related to an evangelical “event”.

In later years, in a similar personal experience, the LDS church got her in a period of some of her lowest moments. Lots of them, some I can’t remember to write about, but they are vivid in my heart’s memory.  I consider that predatory.

THUS…my reaction to this post.

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Grief

A FB post from Jon Pavlovitz – that speaks so eloquently of what I am experiencing since my Mother’s death; Jon writes about his late father’s birthday date and passing…

 

    

    



















 

 

  

Living without Mom being alive is completely different from what I expected, though I am not sure I can even expound on what I expected.  It’s a million little pieces of her that permeate every day in unexpected ways.  Things I brought home of hers that I intentionally keep close – the Betty Boop tasseled ski hat, the dish towels at the ready in my well-used kitchen, the Pillsbury Dough Boy cookie jar that “hee hees” upon removal of his hat (the lid), the scarf around my neck, the necklace found among her treasures that exactly matches a favorite ring, the Jergens face cream I use to remove my makeup, listening to great music (Hvorostovsky, the 3 tenors, Nat King Cole)…watching the sun come up with hot coffee and yearning to do the Evansville Courier-Press daily crossword together…

Inopportune moments of emotion upon the visage of someone who looks like her, talking to a dear friend about how I wish I could have given her a better life that she so richly deserved, remembering painful moments that break my heart after decades (that I couldn’t have anticipated, and if I could have, would have “fixed”).  From-the-gut waves of tears and emotion in the blink of an eye.  Invisible shroud of a wet blanket over me, exhaustive, ever-present cocoon of emptiness I did not expect.  Even though she was far away, she was ever-present in my subconscious.  How was I not cognizant of that?

Ginny Pearl grew up with nothing, lived with so little.  Yet she gave every ounce of what she had to everyone else.

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Letter post GP

(letter to JRT 3.4.19 – PRIVATE between us)
I am not sure how to start this, but am writing to you only, for a very good reason..what I write here may make that reason evident, as I know YOU will understand.  You can’t imagine how much it meant to me, your comment one moment during my visit about how we shared a “kindred spirit”, when a great deal of noise was coming from the kitchen/dining room and I sat alone on the sofa doing a crossword puzzle.  We absolutely do share a kind of spirit.

Perhaps partly because I have been away for over 50 years,  I am unable to handle the loud noise and over-talk of so many at once.  In my world, communication doesn’t happen during those moments…and as well, perhaps I think I have inherited Dad’s longing for quiet, something I think I am now very clearly able to understand.  If that’s the case, I can only imagine the anxiety and frustration he felt with such nonstop ‘noise’.  As much difficulty I have related to my (lack of) relationship to him, some things I cannot deny inheriting.  Undoubtedly, on top of his obvious (what we now call) PTSD, I can only imagine his frame of mind dealing with the cacophony, or at least for me, that’s the perfect descriptive:

ca·coph·o·ny

  1. a harsh discordant mixture of sounds.

“a cacophony of deafening alarm bells”

synonyms: din, racket, noise, discord, dissonance, discordance, caterwauling, raucousness, screeching, jarring, stridency, grating, rasping

There was a moment when the subject of the talk-over thing came up, and I was quite aware the comments indirectly pointed to me and my being uncomfortable with it.  “It’s always been that way” was a comment that said much more than those 5 words.  I have only lived in EVV for 18 years of my almost-72, summers only for 4…and sometimes I wonder if there was a subliminal reason for leaving – part of it escape from “the way it’s always been”?  My reaction is not a choice; it is who I am, and has no bearing upon how much love I have for my family.  Like Dad, I don’t have a need to have the last word, to be the expert on all things.  As I have shared with many of my friends these last couple of years, I have become much more comfortable listening than speaking.  Dad surfacing, perhaps.

Thus, during Fazoli dinner last week, I was totally in a shell at that point, clammed up (my Cancerian side?); post-funeral, I just wasn’t able to deal with more of the loud overtalk.  Not to mention the invisibility that causes; one is rarely heard, and dismissed.  I guarantee you, every time I opened my mouth, if I was actually *heard*, someone had something to say, to preach they knew more than I did about the subject, to add “their” take on it, make light of MY take on it…and not one living soul in the group has any knowledge how much I DO know about ANY subject, and quite frankly, could sometimes run circles around what THEY know.  50 years away is a mighty education – and I know not to mention that, ever.  I let others bask in whatever it is that makes them feel on top (of every subject).

I have not been myself since the services; we all grieve in different ways.  I need quiet to reflect.  I cook to reflect.  Since I got home, every interaction with others who mention condolence, brings me to tears…not sure why, just is.  And of course, the requisite tears at any given moment for no reason thing, very normal, I know.  My friends are also family to me, and I am not alone in that.

There is another angle to this phenom:  I have had longstanding issues getting response from my Primary Care physician and his office.  I have requested a refill for my Wellbutrin (depression), shingles vaccine, annual EpiPen scrip, and mammogram orders since last fall.  I have called twice – no response.  I finally wrote a letter directly to my doctor (that I sent with “signature of receipt required”) – documenting all of the above, and NO RESPONSE – nothing in writing or voice mail.  I am now out of my Wellbutrin (have been for several weeks), and wonder if that isn’t a factor in exacerbating my feelings right now, given the timing.  My scrip is quite mild, so I am monitoring my behavior at the moment to see if I can do without it (which I have tried before and it didn’t go well, but I was working and under far more stress at that time.)  Maybe this is a sign I need to change physicians; I have thought about doing so for some time now – 2 years in a row, their office mis-coded my claim for an annual physical that should be paid for wholly by Medicare, causing me to have to pretty much fight for coverage.

I hope this makes some sense to you.  Writing is very, very therapeutic for me, and this very moment, have emitted my third long, giant, deep sigh…a sure sign of stress relief in my world.  I am still in my jammies, drinking a 3rd cup of coffee (something I never do), at peace with my thoughts, laundering the blankies of Mom’s for the shelter and the kitchen towels of hers plus the adorable cat-chef ones you gave me.  It’s the simple things that I seem to be drawn to at the moment.

*Response from JRT 3.11.19*:

Pat,
I share many of your feelings. I believe aging is the main culprit. Working with the old people over the years taught me this. They all experienced the discomfort of being ‘in a crowded room’. Everyone wants to be heard, at least once in a while, and I have lost the ability to jump in the mix. Screw it.

Even mom, who was the biggest people person of us all. I watched her retreat inward and it is a reason I did not attend the brunches often – I did not want to be part of what I feel was a difficult situation for her.

Yes, she used to love the crowds and just reveled in all the talking going on, and just listened to all of it for years, but age came upon her too.

I can’t say I even remember the specific things you shared, because in addition to my difficulty concentrating in a crowd, my short term memory has been a problem for years. I don’t talk about it because of the ‘assuring’ comments from dear family that would contradict what I believe to be true. I truly believe the comments to be an attempt to uplift, or make me feel better, but it’s not just my feeling or opinion. Since my accident I have had a problem and age I believe exacerbates it. When I try to share my concern, I always meet denial aka oh that’s just in your head type response. So I keep quiet and talk to my doctor about it. Sometimes family isn’t the best source of discussion group.

I believe you should change doctors if you are no longer satisfied. Dennis and I did some years ago when our family doctor, for whatever reason, didn’t seem to satisfy our needs. It was the best move we made – the new doctor took Dennis’ complaint of pain seriously and discovered the cancer.  Don’t be loyal where it is not deserved – people and their needs change.

Love you,
Janet

My response back 3.14.19

Your wisdom is evident.  There is so much more I could say about this evolution of my ability (or lack thereof) to handle big groups – am not sure I even liked them in my earlier years.  But yes, age has to be a factor.

I have to chuckle; my short-term memory totally sucks. Normal aging, they say.  I guess that’s some comfort. As for your life post-accident, I know there have been changes in your being; some of us are more intuitive than others about things like that, and I am one of them.  It makes me angry that someone (anyone, friend or family) would dismiss you, but people do that when they mean well but need to think through it before opening their mouths.  I’ll stop there.

I rather enjoy my silence now.  I feel listening is far greater at creating wisdom and insight.

Keep sharing.  It was a tough visit for me, not just because of losing Mom.

p.s. I had one of those “moments” one is warned of, just after losing a loved one.  I was at my Wednesday kaffeeklatsch having weekly brunch with my girlpals, when a threesome walked in the door.  One was an obvious caretaker, accompanying a very elderly couple.  Within a few seconds, I was consumed in tears; the little woman looked a lot like Mom, and a rush of memories at how much she loved eating out, being helped into the restaurant, etc…took me with a hammer-like emotion, and I could not control my silent tears.  My friends knew what was happening, and one of them jumped up from the table and engulfed me with a hug and I held on for dear life.  Friends are the family you choose; I have chosen well.  And I choose you, too, family or not.  You are such a gem to me, Janet.  Please know that.

P1

 

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Ginny Pearl post-passing: day 1

Fresh from the trip to say goodbye to Mom (Ginny Pearl), today is deeply quiet and reflective, the description of which will first be shared in my personal blog. But before sharing any of it, please accept a deeply appreciative thank you on behalf of our large family for all the love shown to us in this journey heretofore.

All 6 of GP’s babies (my sibs and I) spoke from our hearts at her service, and not only were many in attendance at the visitation and ceremonial service, a number of profound moments occurred because of unexpected visits from folks none of us would have anticipated coming. More memories for a lifetime.

We all are taking baby steps, moving forward. Having gone through some belongings (of hers) together as a “sibs team”, all left with many sweet and precious items. As I go through my own stash today, minus the din of hectic activity the last few days in a giant family, the quiet and solitude are clarifying, as well as duct-releasing. Now the tears, and so it goes – the normalcy of grief and joy for a life well-lived, now rewarded with peace and joy and reunification with those previously lost but waiting for her to arrive.

Right now, I’m just content wearing her Betty Boop skiiers cap with the long tassels, opening and closing the Pillsbury Doughboy cookie jar that giggles each time, thinking about how to navigate tomorrow. Much love to you all…that’s what Ginny Pearl would do, as now do I.

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Losing Mom…musings

Letter (email) to Michelle…2.23.19…during last vigil for Mom…

Well, she sure has earned peace and rest from life difficulties.  This morning’s update is that her BP and oxygen levels continue to decline; they are now administering Roxanol (morphine), Ativan (anxiety calmant), and Atrophine (reduce salivation re: choking common at end-of-life time) and it is expected she will leave us today.  Of course, my sisters are there, and lots of nieces, nephews, greats, Mom’s half/step sisters, etc…so she is surrounded by love that she so deserves in return of all that she gave.

So…I hold vigil here in the ATL.  As the official family obit writer, I will begin (I have taken some notes over recent years) today.  I also am thinking of composing a poem-like piece of reminiscence to present at her services.  And I have this overwhelming urge to make meatloaf.  Though my Mom, as you know, had little skills for cooking, she made a mean meatloaf, and I told her that a couple of times, which surprised her.  She cooked only basics, not really accepting of trying new things, so one year when I visited her in Evansville, I made a tweaked version but didn’t tell her I had done the tweaking.  I had used ground pork as well as beef, and added a little more this or that, nothing major.  I was apprehensive at her response, but after one bite, through a big fat mouthful, she grinned from ear to ear and her eyes lit up like stars…I asked her if she liked it, and she nodded wildly like a big old horse does.  I imagine you understand my delight, with my love of cooking.  I didn’t get much positive feedback from her as a kid or young adult, but that was not uncommon when I grew up, so that was a life-changing moment.

Another sort of precarious thing happened yesterday.  I had been cooped up in the house for days (dreary outside, no need to go out, still nursing knee flareup, etc) and after hearing what was up with Mom, I needed to get out of the house and just wander, clear my mind.  So I bundled up, and headed for some retail “wander time”.  You know, TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall’s, just to poke around.  I did have one thing in mind; of course, culinary-related.  One of my kitchen utensil containers was too small – it was the one I used for small pieces.  So in that journey, I ran across some big tin-like, sort of vintage-y looking metal (galvanized something?) “tubs’ with dividers.  Long story short, I think I was in a nostalgic mood, and those appealed to me – maybe I was transported back to helping Grandpa in his smithy shack in the back yard where he very neatly stored all his stuff for inventing things, making horseshoes, whatever.  They were at TJMaxx; before making a decision, I dutifully moved to Marshall’s and Ross, but like a magnet pulling me, I made a beeline back there and bought *3* containers – to supplant those typical round ceramic ‘utensils’ holders most foodies/cooks use.  The tubs are perfect.  No idea what I will do with the ceramic ones, but they will be great containers for something – plants, maybe 🙂

I digress.  Time to get crackin’…love you, sister friend…

P

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