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Mieze’s Musings # 14

29 Apr

I’m so happy everyone is home with me.  I rubbed on their legs to show them I was pleased they returned and to illicit ear scratches.  I realize humans are necessary for food and water when a cat is indoors, but they also can be quite lovely when it comes to affection.  I will be cute in the coming days, then aloof again.  I don’t want them to know how much they were missed.  A cat has a reputation to uphold.

 

But now that I’ve heard about Florida and the wide variety of birds there….When are we going?

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Her sweet face

25 Apr

Mammo-grammar

9 Feb

So I went for a mammogram today.  It was strange.  It was scheduled at the hospital where I was born and during the drive there I drove by my first school.  There was the park where I played as a child and the street I use to sled down when it snowed.  Thank goodness it was a  perfectly routine procedure but it was the stroll down nostalgia lane that weighed on my mind.

The reality of growing older sometimes blindsides me.  I can put as many colors as I can imagine in my hair, but I can’t change my age.  Along with the twinge of reality, comes relief.  Maybe physically it’s time for me to take better care of myself, but mentally I feel like I’m almost there.  There are still residual doubts and lack of self confidence, but for the most part I grew up to be self assured and practical.  I am what I yam, blah blah.

It took a lot of trial and error.  I didn’t exactly have a blueprint in my dysfunctional parents.  Yes, I no longer speak to them, but it’s a decision that should have been made years ago.  I no longer regress to the mess I was in their presence, especially my mother.  I no longer feel the need to seek their approval, only to find it’s still unattainable.  Instead, I concentrate on my own daughter who is tripping through life and I’m there to brush her off and put her back on the path.  I want to give her the support, I lacked growing up.

This doesn’t mean as I drove by my past that it’s all bad memories.  I can allow the good ones to the forefront and not feel the need to reach out to my parents again.  It wasn’t all bad.  But the what was is no longer allowed in my life.  I’m not one of those people who believe you can blame everything on your childhood.  At some point, you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make.  Especially ones that implode your life.

I never demanded more, because I never realized there was more.  I’m old enough to know it’s okay to want what you never had.  It changed the chemistry of my brain and my heart.  What I want is completely different in my mammogram stage of life than in my carefree stage of life.  So, even though I’m at a stage to be medically poked and prodded, I feel as if my mind is finally healed.  Even if there are whole days of regression.

I realized the important lesson I’ve learned at this age is that it’s okay to deserve more.  It’s okay to want better.  It’s okay to reach out in the dark and find someone who is just as scarred.  It’s okay to reveal the soft underbelly of your soul and chance rejection.  It’s about seizing the happiness, the joy and yes, the love with full knowledge it could hurt along the way.

I thought of these things as I had my mammogram.  For all you ladies who have not experienced it yet, it’s not that bad.  Sure, being fondled by a stranger may put you off (or maybe not), but it’s rather clinical and over quickly.  There is absolutely no pain, despite having your breasts in a vice.  You walk away and think it was less evasive than most tests we have to endure.  I’ll know my results in seven to ten days.   The thoughts swirling in my mind will surely last much longer.

Dogs are so useful

9 Feb

Beautiful

22 Jan

My favorite picture of my daughter

Last night, my daughter and I stood in line at the grocery.  The store was crowded and of course they had only a few lanes open.  While standing there, she wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek.  Then she leaned against me, her head resting on my shoulder.  I smoothed her soft hair and we laughed about the cover of The Globe magazine.  She then decided she wanted a candy bar and wandered off.  I stood there, flipping through an US magazine when I was approached by an elderly woman.

“Your daughter is beautiful.”  She said.

I smiled and thanked her.  My daughter is beautiful.  She has been fortunate to have had no issues with weight or acne and she has a tiny hourglass figure and milky white skin.  I’ve never made a big deal about her looks or her slim body.  I grew up with a mother tortured by her body and in turn she tortured her children.  Instead, I figured if I let nature do its job, then she’d end up the weight she was supposed to be.  This doesn’t mean I bring a lot of junk food in the house, but neither do I sweat it when she wants to eat a candy bar and a bag of chips before dinner.

The elderly woman reached out and patted my arm.  “You did a great job with her if she will still hug and kiss you in public as a teenager.”

I thanked her again and looked over my shoulder where Nat was doing peekaboo with a baby in a cart in another aisle.  There are a lot of things I did wrong as a parent.  But when I see her laughing, when she walks me to the door every morning and hugs me goodbye, when she looks at complete strangers we encounter and finds one thing nice to say them, I know I did a good job.

We’ve had a rough time through the teenage years, but she’s still loving and sweet.  There are days when all we do is battle, then she’ll come in the room and tell me she wants to do better at communicating with me.  She hasn’t always understood the way the grownup world works, but she’s getting there.  She is generous and compassionate and she strives to be a good person.  In the scheme of things, maybe raising a considerate human being is all I could have hoped for.

My daughter joined me once again in the line and she smiled at the elderly lady.  “That’s a pretty scarf.”  She said to her.  The elderly woman beamed and moved back to her cart.

Yes, my daughter is beautiful.  Inside and out.

Mommy Nearest

13 Jan

I’ve been asked by more than one reader about my mother.  Apparently she’s missing from my blogs lately and people are curious about my very complicated and volatile relationship with her.  It’s like reading a book and there’s a protagonist and you’re just so curious about what really happened to them.  I’m not sure if in my case if it’s more Patricia Cornwell or Stephen King.  The truth is, I haven’t spoken to my mother since October.  Now, before you judge me…..

The last time I saw my mother was at my aunt’s deathbed.  I held my aunt’s hand and watched as she succumbed to the cancer that had been periodically visiting her body for the last fifteen years.  She was ravaged by pain and regret and although we had a falling out, attributable mostly to my mother and my desire that my aunt stop enabling her prescription pill habit, we were able to communicate both our love and our sorrow before she passed.  I comforted my mother in her sorrow and ignored her painful outbursts aimed at my aunt’s husband and myself.  It was time to put aside petty things.

I thought the pain and the sorrow of losing her sister would be enough to make my mother realize what she was inflicting on her children and her grandchildren.  She was not speaking to my sister.  My sister had been angry and said angry words, and according to my parents they were unforgivable.  They decided to never speak to my sister again, and in doing that had not spoken to their grandchildren either.  I played mediator for a period of time, and had clung to a small vestige of hope that all of it could be resolved.  I talked my sister into visiting the hospital with me while my aunt was still cognizant enough to know she was there.  I watched from the doorway as my mother snarled at my sister and rolled her eyes and the disgust was palpable.  My sister’s egregious act was by telling my mother and my father she was angry, she was hurt and they had caused it.  For this, my mother could barely even look at her as she sat crying at my aunt’s bed side.

I was certain death would be the catalyst to bring us all together.  After all, hadn’t my sister and I forgiven my parents so many things?  There were instances of neglect that were so painful, and yet we saw past them.  We had overlooked my mother’s drug addiction for years and had forgiven my father for enabling it.  Surely, words spoken would not be the straw that broke my family’s back.  Yet, even in the tragedy of death, they could not see beyond their own selfishness.  First one, then two holidays past and they refused to see my sister or their grandchildren.  I pleaded and ranted at my father, and still he held steadfast.

So, how is my mother?  To be honest, I have no idea.  I haven’t spoken to her in three months and neither will I.  It seems cold dead hearted to abandon my parent when she needs me the most, but I’ve extricated myself from the guilt I’ve carried all these years.  I cannot have a relationship with her while she’s on drugs, be them prescription or not.  It has been her decision to not speak to my sister and her grandchildren.  Now, she’s locked up in her house, sleeping in a recliner when she’s not watching Law and Order and I can’t imagine a more miserable existence.  I once believed loving her could make a difference, but it hasn’t nor will it ever.

I’d like to say at least I have my father, but I’m no longer speaking to him either.  His choice has always been to allow my mother to erode our family.  He has chosen not to see his grandchildren.  He has chosen to disown my sister.  There was a time when I understood his pain, but those are bygone days.  The history speaks for itself and my parents have to live with the choices and decisions they made.  It sounds harsh and simplistic, but it’s anything but.  I’m a parent and I love my child more than my own life.  I cannot imagine she could say something so egregious I would cut her out of my life.  I cannot imagine saying to her that her pain and the words she may say in it, are unforgivable.

I’ve thought a lot about this.  After all, I was grateful I had sat at my aunt’s bed side and said goodbye to her.  I was grateful I heard her apology and I was able to give mine.  It’s beyond sad to waste moments that could be spent loving and understanding each other.  But I hug my sister, this woman who was once this baby I loomed over in her crib.  I had loved her wholeheartedly.  She was a prelude to the daughter I would one day call my own.  She is a beautiful soul, yet in so much pain directly caused by my parents.  They did not keep us safe and did not protect us.  She wears the open wounds of someone who longed for comfort and never received it.

It is a miracle neither of us are drug addicts or in prison.  Instead, we turned to each other and found the comfort in our family of two.  Our family expanded with our children and we swore we would do things differently, and we have.  Our children have never felt alone in the world.  We had each other.  I remember laying in bed at night, whispering to each other in the room we shared, trying to cheer her up with funny stories.  She deserved better.  I deserved better.

So since my father insisted I had to choose a side, I did.  I thought of my sister crying in a hallway with my mother smacking her and my father standing feebly by.  I had pulled my mother off her and demanded my mother to leave.  She didn’t and my father didn’t make her.  But in that moment, we became all that each other ever had.  So if my parents can’t forgive my sister for the words she said, then they have chosen to be alone.  We are surprisingly happy and well adjusted.  Not having to watch my mother slur her words and lash out while high on drugs is a relief.  Not having to wonder why my father didn’t and doesn’t do more to prevent it is no longer an issue.  We have each other.  Maybe that’s what got us through it all.

As snow approaches…I remember a blizzard in New York

11 Jan

4 Jan

It did start here

I met your birth parents

and the die was cast

Now we go back

and sit at the same table

I marvel at the young

woman you’ve become

I know what happy is

It’s being your mom

 

SWEPT AWAY

2 Sep

The Tibetan monks spend weeks creating sand mandalas, intricate sand painting of vibrant color and meaning.  Once the mandala is complete, the monks then perform a ritual of sweeping up all the grains into a glass jar, wrapping it in a silk cloth, then distributing it in moving water.  All the weeks of labor, of painstaking placing sand to represent deities and ancient symbols, swept away and carried across the water.  The lesson in it all is that material life is impermanent.  You and your things can be swept into a jar.

When my daughter was four we were living in NYC and I heard about a Tibetan festival being held on Long Island.  Braving the city traffic, the bridge and Long Island, I drug her out in the cold fall morning to see something she could have cared less about.  I was in a crisis of a sort.  I had been since uprooting my daughter from Kentucky and moving to a city I knew nothing about with a man I was beginning to discover I knew even less about.  Spending a Saturday with Tibetan monks seemed a better alternative to the chaos my life had become.

We arrived at this nondescript house down an equally unassuming road, drove up an impossibly steep driveway to stumble upon Shangri La.  There among the apple trees was a Tibetan wonderland.  Behind the main house was a large hall, open to the outside and there scattered on the rug on the floor were monks enveloped in orange robes, tied with ruby sashes, with their eyes closed and the most mournful, plaintiff chants emanating from their open mouths.

My daughter, usually a flurry of activity, paused in the doorway with me, holding my hand tightly with her eyes wide with wonder.  We stood there, the pair of us, enraptured by these men in their robes, so removed from anything but the harmonious sound that carried us away.  In that moment I was standing there with my little girl, whose tiny hand was intertwined in mine.  It was just the two of us, experiencing something beautiful and profound and I had blinked away tears at the perfection of it all.

Later, after we were given paper mandalas to color and a small woven bag, we mulled around the grounds, saying hello to our like minded brethren.  An elderly woman from Tibet approached us, her smile toothless and her face creased with the beauty of her life.  She crouched before my daughter and ruffled her hair, pinching her cheeks.  Then she looked up at me, her dark eyes alit with something I could only describe as happiness, and remarked I was surrounded by love.  It was one of those remarks you file away.

I was watching something on television the other night and they were explaining the sand mandalas.  My little girl, now a beautiful young woman, turned to me and asked me if I remembered that morning we went to the Buddhist temple.  I did remember, I told her.  I had been thinking about the same thing.  That morning, listening to those monks, seeing that old woman.  I am surrounded by love.  At the time, I thought it meant I had people who loved me.  My daughter, my family, my circle of friends and the man I had moved to NYC to be with.

Years later, sitting in my living room, I realized that’s not what she meant at all.  I am surrounded by love.  I am the carrier of it, not the recipient.  I am the one with the open heart who was shocked by the power of loving my daughter, whose heart flew open with the possibility of getting love in return.  I am surrounded by love and it’s mine to give with no expectation of it returned.  To love a book, a song, a band or a perfect Saturday morning.  Love is not restricted to people.  It can apply to food, to scents or to soft sheets.  You can love this life despite all it’s impermanence.  I have built my life mandala, only to have it swept away in a stream, but always return to work on another one.  This time more intricate, more colorful than the last.  To see for a brief moment, this life in its entirety and then to sweep it up.

I am surrounded by love.  And love is all you need.

It Arrives

17 Jul

Cancer has always been on the periphery of my family.  My great grandmother died from it, my grandmother Tumor died from, yes, you guessed it, a tumor.  My aunt had colon cancer at thirty five.  It’s always been there lurking.

Now it has invaded my immediate family.  My father recovered from surgery, the tumor was small and supposedly all gone.  It has not invaded the surrounding tissue or lymph nodes.  He’s home from the hospital and resuming life, albeit with the knowledge he had cancer.  It was there and now it’s gone.  Gone.  Stay gone.

I would be remiss as a human being for not wondering when it’s my turn.  When does the Russian roulette of junky genes call my number?  My new attitude has been “if it’s not happening right now, it’s not happening.”  A mantra I’m repeating over and over as I lay in the dark blocking out whatever negative thoughts might try to creep in my conscience.  It’s not happening to me right now, so it’s time to concentrate on my father, on my daughter, on this life I’m navigating.

I keep telling myself I’m different from my family.  I have never smoked, and they all were heavy smokers for at least 20 years or longer.  I’m a vegetarian.  I attempt exercise.  I meditate.  I try to wash whatever bitterness I have on my skin off in the shower.  But it’s still a roulette wheel isn’t it.  If it’s my turn, then it is.

I’m not going to change the life I’m trying to carve out because of fear.  Fear has never been a friend of mine.  It’s led to rash decisions that have reverberated through my life.   I won’t allow fear to dictate my future.  Or cancer.  

I am the captain of my own destiny.  Or something profound like that.