The Past is Not Always What You Think It Is

What is the quote —You Can Never Go Home Again?

Perhaps that’s not the correct quotation, but its meaning hit me this past weekend.

I have always dreampt of going back to where I spent the first 22 years of my life, the house I grew up in. Now leaving home at 22 isn’t a big deal except for the fact that it was 44 years ago. We always go back to my husband’s old stomping grounds in Chicago, but that’s because we go down there to see his brother who still lives in the house he grew up in. So we always got to experience where he grew up.

But never where I did.

So Saturday we went to pick up my brother-in-law from a physical rehab center two blocks from my old house, and I asked if I could be dropped off so I could walk around the block once more while the brother-in-law was checked out.

I remember riding my bike to the back side of the block, playing with the few friends I had. Drawing on a chalkboard in one friend’s screened-in gazebo; swinging on my friend’s swingset; Fourth of July tables in front of my house. Three brothers, three girlfriends, and my first two loves of my life lived around that block. I thought I would be swept away with memories and emotions and flashbacks to days gone by.

I wasn’t.

The only thing that hadn’t changed was my house.

The back side of the block backed up to the golf course, and all the small houses that used to be there had been torn down,  huge, gawking houses replacing them. Susie’s house is gone. I don’t even recognize Lucy and Rita’s house. On my side of the block there is an apartment complex across the street from my house where houses and fields once were; even the hospital rehab center is new. The school directly across the street has grown another floor, and there’s a stoplight there, too.

The whole area has changed. The two-lane road I used to play on at 3 o’clock in the morning while my parents were packing to go camping is now a busy four lane. Further away sit new shops, gigantic houses…nothing I knew as a child.

I walked around the block, hoping, praying I’d feel that knot of nostalgia that comes with dipping into the past. The house my dad built is still there, as was Andy the old man neighbors and Lynda’s sprawling ranch.

But the thrill I thought I’d find walking through my past never came.

Oh, it was nice walking around the peaceful back of my block; I even walked past my first love’s house…if it was his house…it was so different. I walked by John’s house, the boy who never knew I existed, and his buddies the Abbotts next door.

But John and Lucy and Lynda were long gone. It was time for me to let the past go, too. I’ve walked my last walk around the block of memories.

My memories, no matter how distorted, are much better.

 

The Yellows

Well, it’s a few days later, and I’m embarrassed to reread my whine-a-thon the other day. We all get into the funk now and then — the reasons don’t matter. Usually they pass as quickly as they come. The point is, though, is that most of us don’t take to public media to share that whining.

Perhaps that’s the curse of the writer. Confused? Write about it. Excited? Write about it. Tired? Write about it. That’s the problem with writers. We are so used to emoting on paper that we don’t know when to stop.

So in order to make up for pouting and venting and making more of the blues than of the yellows, here are a few photos to make you (and me) smile.

 

 

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues….(Elton baby)

How do you deal with the blues?

You know — those navy, cornflower, turquoise kind of blue days where nothing seems to go quite right. Not even the lure of editing and/or writing something new seems to interest me. TV? Blah…too much drama. Reading? Not in the mood. Writing? Not inspired.

I’ve changed my diet, walk a little more, try and get to bed before 11 pm (another story), and yet I sometimes get these hates coming on. Now, I don’t hate anybody (well..maybe just one person). Hate is a wasted emotion with nothing but bad side effects and conclusions in the toilet.

Work is changing big time, and I’m lost in the shuffle. I’m not close enough to retirement to retire, but I hate the idea of sitting at a desk putting data in the computer 8 hours a day for the next 1-1/2 years. I come home from work and the grumpies follow. The stupid Netflix keeps timing out. There’s a sink of dishes to do. Blah Blah Blah.

Then I talk to friends who have real issues. Illness, custody battles, unemployment, and I refocus. I’d rather listen and help them than listen and help myself. It’s a tough world out there, and we all deserve medals for making it through with the battle scars we have.

Maybe it’s just the changing seasons that are trying to pull me down. I’ve never been affected by the seasons, but hey — I’ve never had these many hot flashes, either. Anything is possible.

So my question to you — what do you do when you get the blues? I’ll take any and ALL suggestions!

 

 

Letting Go

Some sad reflections today.

My dog of 13 years passed away yesterday.

Now I’m not telling you this to wring out sympathy or other reactions. The reason I share this with you is that whenever someone or some thing close to you is taken away, there is a little piece of you that leaves with them.

Worse than that for me, though, is that sudden, albeit unwanted, connection with my own mortality.

I know a dog is only an animal. They don’t think and reason like we do (although sometimes I beg to differ). But Dickens’ passing makes me think of those I have loved who have passed before, and those who will pass in the future.

And my own passing.

I have to admit something. Many people find solace in religion. That there is an afterlife, a heaven, a chance to be reunited with loved ones. They believe this fully and adamantly.

I’m not one of those people.

I look for signs of those I love who are in the afterlife, but I always come up empty. In my heart I feel my mother or father or brother with me, but common sense says it’s nothing more than an emotional overload. Wanting is getting. I hope to be proved wrong in the end…that the guardian of the afterlife will chuckle and say “I told you so.”

Dickens had 13 great years. She fetched, she went swimming in the lake, she went on walks with me.We buried her in our field (I live on a hill surrounded by wild fields) with her mom, her bfdf Rennie, and my cat. In my selfish dreams I see all of them running around through the fields, sleeping, eating, climbing and swimming together.

I see her with all the dogs and cats I have lost during my lifetime. How are they all together, when they didn’t even know each other in this life?

My love, my spirit, connects them all.

I believe the same is true for human beings. Our love, our spirit, is what connects us. Whether on this side of the cosmic divide or the other. Whether we live in Australia or California or Midwest Wisconsin. Sometimes that string that connects us is pulled, and we all feel unified, if only for a moment.

Keep that string connected, my friends. It doesn’t matter what’s on the other side — that will be decided for all of us in due time. It’s what we share today and tomorrow and every day we are able to see the sunrise that counts.

Have fun, Dickens. See ya ‘all when the time comes.

 

 

Make the Love

I had a wonderful weekend. We celebrated both grandkids’ birthdays. We laughed, spoiled, loved, gossiped, and enjoyed the company of parents, grandparents, great grandparents (grandpa is 90 next month!) my grandkids, friends with their kids and grandkids, plus a couple of dogs thrown in.

Today I read the following column at Ask Amy (http://tiny.cc/za2wmy)….

DEAR AMY: I have four adult children and three grandchildren. They all live 2.5 hours away and have very successful, fulfilling lives. My husband and I couldn’t be prouder. They usually call every week or so and I send an occasional text or email. The problem is our daughter-in-law, who wants nothing to do with us. She is the mother of our only grandchildren. She refuses to visit, especially on the holidays. When we visit, she is pleasant but seems to barely tolerate us.

We want to see more of our grandsons but we are not permitted to babysit, and if I ask to take them to the park, etc., she ignores me, hoping I will let it go (which I do to keep the peace).

I have spent many a sleepless night trying to figure out what I have done to her and cannot think of a thing. Honestly, in the 10 years they have been married I have never said a mean word or offered advice, even with new babies.

I say nothing to my son. I know he sees her treatment of us and feels guilty, but fighting about it isn’t worth it to him. The boys love to see us and I have heard the oldest asking if he can go home with Grandma and Grandpa and Mom always says no!

This made me very sad.

I don’t know the daughter’s side, I don’t know the grandparents’ side. But to keep grandparents from enjoying the best time of their entire lives —

What happens to families?

I know I take for granted the love and affection I share with my two sons and their kids. Love, friendship, all come naturally for us. We’re not all like two peas in a pod all the time, mind you, but we enjoy each other’s company and get together whenever we can.

Grandparents are the old souls, the old angels, leading the innocent young angels through the mess we call life. We try and lighten their burdens, play their games, listen to their secrets. We give them a safe space their parents can’t, just because they’re parents.

It’s a parent’s job to protect, guide, and teach their precious packages to ensure they make it through life with a good head on their shoulders.

It’s a grandparent’s job to spoil, cuddle, play and dream with those same packages, ensuring they make it through life with good dreams in their heads.

I look at Dear Amy’s question and my heart breaks for everyone involved. The grandkids will never have that close relationship with two people who love them so much; the mother will never find peace with the mother and father of her husband; and the grandparents will have to deal with empty arms and empty dreams.

Like I said. I don’t know the whole story — I never will. There is nothing I can do to change that family and their sorrows.

But what I can do is share this story so that you will go home tonight and hug your kids and grandkids and when you see your friends or your sister hug their kids and grandkids. Play catch or Chinese checkers with them. Tell them a story of when you were a kid.

Don’t just take the love — MAKE the love.

 

 

 

I’m Done Listening

I had a blog in mind this evening, but on my way home I changed my mind. On afternoon break I read a quick online story that really hit me. This is the beginning of it:

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A Thai man filmed himself killing his 11-month-old daughter in two video clips posted on Facebook before committing suicide, police said on Tuesday. People could access the videos of the child’s murder on her father’s Facebook page for roughly 24 hours, until they were taken down around 5 p.m. in Bangkok (1000 GMT) on Tuesday, or about a day after being uploaded.

It happened far away. In a world I know nothing about. To a man I know nothing about. To a little girl I know nothing about.

Of course, that’s just on the heels of a story from 3-17: MEDINA Ohio — The man who took his own life after he killed his pregnant girlfriend did not want to have a baby, her father said. Or from February: LaGRANGE  A man accused of abusing and killing the infant of his then-girlfriend pleaded guilty in a Troup County Superior Court last week.

There is nothing that can be said that can shed any light on any of these heinous crimes. There’s nothing I can do to turn the clock back. Nothing I can say to the families, to the situation.

There is nothing I can say to save the children.

I’m going to cut back on my internet wandering. Yahoo, CNET, all those hot spots that broadcast these crimes like they’re a Sunday social. I know everyone hurts, everyone wonders why. Everyone cries and makes promises and moves on with their lives.

But I’m an adult and can make my own choices. I’m older so that’s an even better excuse to tune all of it out. TV is make believe; I can handle that. But the news…

I’m done. My heart can’t take this. I know there are lots out there that say I should do something about it. The sad truth is there is nothing I can do about any of it. I can’t help those in Thailand or in North Carolina or even on the other side of town.

What I can do is interfere and interact with my own circle of friends and family. Encourage those who need to talk to talk. Those who need a break give them a break. Love the children I come in contact and stretch out to love the ones I don’t.

Life’s too short to let the media have their way. To let the world have its way. To let the madness get into my head. You are all my friends in one way or another. I’m here for you — for your highs and lows and losses and misses. But I have to let go of the rest of the world. I’m not willing to let the madness set me into depression and worse. My family still needs me.

I think I’ll call my grandkids now.

 

It’s Time to Stop Fighting

heartThis post is being written with a lot of trepidation.

I am not a hellion, nor am I a pansy. My age has nothing to  with the depth of my feelings or the dedication of my causes. I am no better nor no worse than any of my peers. I have had ups and downs and rewards and punishments just like everyone else.

I suppose this confession is to reassure you — or most likely myself — that I’m not over-  or under-reacting.

Just last week I started my post by saying It is as if I am handling a puffer fish or prickly bush with my bare hands. For the world of politics is indeed prickly. But this week prickly has turned vile. It is no longer screaming at the TV or sharing a sentence or two on Facebook.

In only a couple of weeks I have watched this political nonsense start to tear families apart.

Sounds so over the top, doesn’t it?

But in the past few weeks I have heard several first hand reports of one family member tearing at and apart another family member because of their political preferences. Yes, the problem between family members probably existed way before the change of the Guard. But this cavern between political preferences has opened wounds that finally were starting to heal. Or at least left alone.

People are just getting nasty.

Kids are ripping on their parents. Adults are blowing up on their kids. Generations are berating each other because of their political preferences. Then one thing leads to another, and things are said that cannot be taken back. And what started as two people disagreeing turns into people digging into the very foundation of what makes us human.

This isn’t right.

With all the anger and hatred and mistrust shuffling between people, it’s hard to see the good in each other. Parents who have given up everything so their kids could have a better life now are nothing but stiff, selfish old people. Younger kids with a chance to make things better are nothing more but self-centered spoiled brats.

Yet these are our children. These are our parents. These are our aunts and uncles and best friends’ kids. These are the people who we depend on for love or friendship or just a smile.

We have to stop ripping each other apart.

We can be involved, we can be passionate. We can march and we can protest. But we can’t change what is at this moment. This administration, the past administration, are a specimens of their own. None have made their way up from poverty, adversity, or war. They have never worked as a waitress or a sales clerk or a garbage collector. They don’t care about “us.” They don’t know us, they don’t see us, they don’t hear us.

And that point of fact is why we should never turn against our family. Not for this.

Not for them.

 

If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time

tumblr_o4739ljd9n1tp0mqvo1_500I was writing a blog for work today, talking about how music can bring memories of days gone by. And it got me to thinking — if you could turn back the hands of time, what would you change?

I already hear whispers of “I wouldn’t change a thing” or “I love my life just the way it is” or “my scars have made me who I am today.” All of that is good and well, but there is always something we wish we could have done, changed, said.

There are few things I would change about my life. I love where I am, I love my family. Knowing me, I would have loved a different husband, different children, different grandchildren. Love is love. I was not popular in my younger younger years, but I feel my heart has grown into a beautiful maple tree because of that.

But things I would have changed — there are always a few.

I would have gone to college. Back in my day (what a cliche!) half the girls went to college, half got married. Although I didn’t get married I did fall in the second half. Maybe I didn’t have the money at the time. Or the inspiration. But since I’ve always been a writer and an artist, I should have learned more about both. It most likely would have led me down a different career path, but it would have been more of a career and less of a job.

I would have put more effort into saving my bed and breakfast. It was a gorgeous house, a dream come true. I owned it for 7 years, always moving backwards financially instead of forward. Instead of trying to support my end of the upkeep with paying guests, I should have gotten a full-time job and run the B&B on the weekends.

I would have talked to my parents more. I would have asked them about their childhood. Their teens. Their young married years. Who they loved. Who they hated. The hard times. The family problems. The war. Their illnesses. I would not have let their lives be nothing more than spectres dancing in the sunlight.

Hindsight is such a strange bedfellow at times.

It’s not so much living in the past as re-experiencing it. I would still take the hard knocks, but I would savor the sweetness even more. I would have brought the friends I left behind into the future with me. I would right all wrongs, mend all fences, and keep the love the way it used to be.

I would cherish every moment of every day much more than I did when I was younger. I would not, could not change the deaths of those who have gone before me, but I would have made much more of the time we had when they were alive.

If I could turn back the hands of time, I would never have let go of the things that meant the most to me.

But perhaps that’s what the future is for. Never letting go.

 

 

I’m Not Going There

65933_com_201106021652521973.gif1029cFor all of you expecting my usual, cheesy, astral sense of middle-age blog, sorry to let you down this evening.

There was something going around the Internet earlier in the week that had me more than unsettled. As often as not, I just breeze past the headlines I don’t care for, but even in doing so this time the impression still lingers.

And it was only from a headline.

Some parents decided to show a video of their son’s final moments of a high speed crash they were in. I don’t know if the kids died; I refused to read the article. The kids were high, that much I know. But I didn’t, couldn’t, read the article.

My first reaction was: Who would share something like that? Why would they share one of the most painful, horrible, moments of your child’s life?

My politically correct side answered first. The parents shared this video so that others can learn from the tragedy. So that other kids will see what happens when you drink or get high and drive. That through their tragedy other lives may be saved.

Then my mother side chimed in. I am a grandmother. I have been blessed with two sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and two adorable grandkids. I weathered many storms with my kids as they were growing up, and we all survived. I love them all more than life, and would be crushed if anything like this happened to me. My life, my love, is my family.

My liberal side popped in. Who are you to say what goes on on the Internet? You are not a monitor. You don’t like what you read? Pass it by! Ignore it! Stop telling others what they can and cannot talk about. Life is not a bowl of cherries for everyone, you know.

Then my mortal side interrupted. This upsets you because you fear death. Death is the normal progressive end of life. The one thing you cannot control. You cannot let go of anyone you love. Your fear of no afterlife taints everything you think. Everything you do. Perhaps the boys are in heaven now, feeling no pain, no confusion, nothing but eternal peace.

Then my smart-ass radical side chimes in. Who in the hell are you to judge if they went to heaven? How do you know there even is a heaven? You are so quick to judge. You didn’t even read the damn story. You have no idea why the parents shared the video. Quit yappin’ about stuff you don’t know anything about.

My practical side offered a rebuttal. This was a tragic event in so many others’ lives. There are different ways of coping, different ways of healing. A moment’s misjudgement has changed thousands of lives in ways no one ever imagined. Instead of reacting, or over-reacting, acknowledge their pain, then go hug your own kids. Your own grandkids. Tell them how much you love them, warn them of the dangers of drinking or getting high and driving.

Things circle back and the mother reappears. Those boys were someone’s baby. Someone’s little guy. Children are not supposed to leave this world before their parents. They are supposed to grow old and have children of their own. They are not supposed to get high and race and crash and die and leave their parents with broken hearts. My own heart hurts. And I don’t even know them.

Which led towards the comment that started this whole conversation.

Who would share something like that?