Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Update

So I had the "big talk" with Clem on the 20th. Told him I wanted a separation. He handled it much better than I expected. He agreed to go to counseling, which we started last week. He said he had no idea I was that unhappy. Geeze Clem I haven't worn my wedding ring since February.
He asked if I had a boyfriend. Oh yeah, in my spare time. He's still convinced that none of it is my fault. That is all about my depression -- I was depressed before and now I'm just more depressed. My mother just died you big dumb shit -- duh? If you'd even been a little in tune you'd get that. He told me last night I should have told him I needed more. What part of "My mother just died and you're supposed to take care of me as I was in no position to take care of myself did you just not understand?" God are you really that clueless?
I think it's going to take me a while to get over this --
Anywhoooo -- I noticed the most bizarre shift over the weekend. I had been on pins and needles trying to decide if I was leaving or not -- I had made arrangements to rent a house and everything -- but I was out in the yard and I just realized I wanted to stay in my house -- Not that I'm not ready to go at any time -- but I do love my house and my life so as long as things are progressing forward through counseling etc -- I'll hang in there. The reality trying to separate just before school is starting for the kids and just after my mother died was more than I could handle. I don't know if it's the Zoloft kicking in or what -- but my instincts are telling me to stay -- if only for a little while longer. I hope it's not a decision I will regret.
I keep thinking I'm due for a break down -- that it would be justified -- but the wierd thing is I haven't felt this strong in a long time -- How about that? Right in the middle of the biggest stressors in my life and I'm ok -- who would've thunk it??
I'm really, really, looking forward to going to New Jersey to see Dan the first weekend in Oct. I think Cyndi might go with me. It's ok if she doesn't -- but I'd feel a little better if she did cause it feels a little wierd to go vist a single guy when I'm married to his cousin -- especially when I think he's so darned special. But I've never been east and Dan and I have a cool connection and I'll get to see some of Clem's relatives that I really like -- AND SEE THE THE BLUE MAN GROUP IN NYC!!!!!
Yeah for me!
But I'm a little afraid to fly -cuz last time I flew I couldn't get the seatbelt on -- and that was the most humiliating thing in the whole entire world -- I just broke down and sobbed for a minute...I wanted to fall out over the Pacific Ocean -- I'm hoping United has bigger seat belts than Delta --
And I feel like such a bad mommy cause I scheduled a trip over Patti's birthday -- I was thinking I would be able to find a babysitter to help Clem that weekend because school is out Thursday and Friday -- but yesterday I realized it's her 6th birthday and since my kids only get BIG birthday parties every 3 years, this is sort of a big one. She says she's ok with celebrating a week early -- a trip to Chuck E Cheese makes thing seem a lot less yucky I guess.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

For the record

Just so you know, I did not give the eulogy exactly as written below -- I made it upbeat and positive -- left the ramblings here.
It feels rather strange to be at peace with her death -- I keep thinking I should have more issues -- but I don't. At least not now. Maybe they'll sneak up on my later. She's in a happy place. I miss her. Can't think of much else.
So I went on a picnic with my dad and step-mom today. My sisters think I'm a traitor. Dad and Maxine didn't come to Mom's funeral -- and Maxine was, apparently down right rude about it. I was mad. I yelled at my dad when I found out he wasn't coming. In fact, I yelled so much I actually felt compelled to call back and apologize later.
I don't know exactly what the issue is -- Maxine got all freaky at my wedding too. It's probably old garbage that has nothing to do with anything in reality. Just stupid crap. I was, and am, really disappointed. I would have thought they'd be there -- if nothing else, to support me as I gave my mom's eulogy. My sisters ex- husband showed up to support his kids -- and everyone hates him. My uncle showed up -- and my mom and he couldn't even be in the same room, but he came to support us -- even some of my strange cousins showed up and they never made any secret about not liking my mother -- but not my dad. He lead me to believe it was, in part, his choice. That it wouldn't be appropriate for him to come. Ok -- but how dumb is that? They've been divorced for 40 years ! -- Get over it. My step-mother said she couldn't understand why were making such a fuss over someone who just cost us money and caused trouble. She was worried my dad would end up paying for the funeral or something.
The thing is, my step-mom -- is well -- not that bright and not exactly the nuturing sort -- although she , on accassion, tries. I suspect she knows she screwed up and at some point will try to make ammends. In fact -- she tried to say something to me today.
But I'm most disappointed in my dad. I'd really like it if one man in my life would stand up for something he believes in -- and better yet, I'd like it if at least one of the two most significant adult men in my life would at least try to take care of me in my time of need. My husband and my father both baled out on me -- during one of the most significant stressors in my life.
What, do I have a target on my ass?
But, here's the thing. I'm mad, but being mad won't serve any purpose. It won't change anything. If I, like my sisters, stop talking to Dad and Maxine, exactly who gets punished? Dad? Does it matter? He'll likely not last too much longer -- so I'm thinking I should cherish the time I have left.
Yes, he made a choice that didn't suit my needs, but he has to live his life. Is this really worth ending a relationship? I think not.
Clem comes home tomorrow. I am planning on having the big "talk" with him. It will be tough, but I need to be in control right now. He has to learn not to be quite so selfish. I don't deserve the kind of treatment I've been getting and I can't get healthy if it continues.
I wish we could balance each other out better. He's too selfish and everyone keeps telling me I'm not selfish enough.
I'm feeling a little sorry for him though. His brothers moved into the "new" office (My old house) and all Clem had asked for is that they leave his workbench alone. But they didn't -- they moved it all out and left it outside for a week -- there's no sign of anything of Clems in the office -- except for his fish left on the wall. You know -- he didn't want an office, a phone or anything he just wanted his work bench -- And they didn't even move it because they need work space. They moved it to make room for his brother's antique collection. I went to get his stuff and store it over here, but his brother had wised up earlier and moved it into another building. Clem's in for a rough week -- but maybe he'll finally see who is there for him -- and who is not.


I saw her for just a moment today -- that old familiar face. It was lovely to see her again, looking back at me.
Me. My other self. She looked healthy and happy -- relaxed. I'd forgotten how nice it is to have her around.
But she didn't stay long -- I don't know why -- It wasn't intentional. First, I thought I'd just change clothes -- be a little cleaner in case I went to the store after the hike. But everytime I changed and -- let's face it -- judged myself a little harsher -- she faded -- until she was gone.
I just looked again and there's no sign of her.
It was funny -- I'd almost forgotten what she looked like. Younger -- alive -- a lot like my mother -- like in that great picture I have of Mom wearing a cowboy hat western shirt -- mugging for the camera with one of her friends. Face was a lot thinner -- gentle, kind -- with a wild spark in her eye -- nothing dangerous -- just a hint she'd be ready for anything.
But after a few minutes around the farm -- and a few minutes lost in thought about the future and then that other part of me was back.
Square face, dark circles -- haggered and beaten -- overwhelmed.
Maybe I'll go change clothes.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

All in the family

My brother wrote this tonight -- wow

The light glowed softly from across the darkened room, much like a candle in a sanctuary -- both welcoming and warming.
"Come, you are home," it seemed to say. And, in a trance like way, I did. The approachment, itself, warranted the slow and respectful march that accompanied these sort of occassions, but the joyfulness and the happiness of the one being approached called for something of a much more joyful nature.
"What do I do?" I wondered, "How do I show my respects for her in ways that I know she'd understand and respect herself, without insluting those that wouldn't?"
Why does it matter? Why does it even concern me? This occassion is for her, it has nothing to do with me or even my own existence. Granted, I will mourn for her, but I will not mourn forever. Instead, I will celebrate her life, both the good and the bad and that I will celebrate forever.
And so, I approached with a large and soul-felt tear in my eye that also seemed to accompany the moment.
I stepped into that aisle that said nothing else to me but, "I am the end. There is nothing beyond me but a box and some dirt."
And, then her voice said softly to me, "No, I am always here, and I always will be so long as you remember me."
And looking back in retrospect, I should have said, "Mom how could I ever forget?"

Saturday, August 05, 2006

goodbye continued

She died yesterday about 5:30. I had been warned it would come within a few hours. The call came 20 minutes later. My sister said it was peaceful and quiet and -- as much as we could ask.
This morning I find myself strangely calm -- though tired and a bit overwhelmed -- Strong enough to handle what comes at me this week --
My heart continues to break in my marriage. My husband has yet to offer me a hug -- show me any compassion. Maybe he just doesn't know what to do. Thank God for his cousin Dan -- here visiting from the east. He has offered a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on when I needed it -- cooked dinner and been very kind. I felt so bad last week, when I realized he would be here when she died. I haven't been able to be the tour guide I'd planned. I had so many things I wanted to do while he was here -- but very little of it will happen. I'm not sure what I would have done were Dan not here when the calls came in. It would have been very lonely indeed. Perhaps God had a plan afterall.

I find myself pretty impatient with people and things -- I have so much work to do around here - but I'm thinking I might be ahead to take the kids somewhere fun. I'm not sure where that would be at the moment -- Clem, his brothers and Dan are going to go play golf -- Maybe the kids and I will go to the fair in Jerome -- maybe we'll go to Glenns Ferry and do the craft project at the state park -- Who knows -- maybe anywhere is better than here.
So here's part two of the eulogy. You'll have to tell me what you think.
Eulogy cont --
My mother, as I hear tell, knew horses. I had always heard that she was the kind of woman who could tame a wild stallion. She always told us about growing up on the back of a horse -- riding around the family farm in Steam Boat Springs, Colorado –But according to my uncle Floyd, she didn’t start off on a horse – it was Buster the Billy Goat.
“She would ride that thing all over,” Floyd told me. “Buster would get lazy and wouldn’t want to go. Well, we only had one spur … we put it on her – Buster went sideways and she went the other direction.”
Her love of horses though – started early – Floyd says there are pictures of her in which she was so small – her feet just stick straight out.
Next to horses, my mom talked most often about music. Originally it was singing with Aunt Vera – later it was using her soprano to belt out more classic tunes. Most of us though remember the old hymns …
My dad said she bought a piano for $75 dollars at the music store in town – A man moved it out and unloaded it by himself using a board with two wheels in the middle. He sat it in the corner of the house and it wasn’t a week and she was just sitting there playing – “The notes and sounds were a natural talent,” Dad said. “She didn’t have to have lessons.
At night after they’d all gone to bed, she’d sit at the piano and sing – Old traditional hymns. Dad’s favorite was How great thou art. George Beverly Shay would sing it on the Billy Graham show – and mom would sit at the piano and play and sing it as well.
“It was beautiful,” Dad said. She made ol George Beverly Shaw sound like a chicken.”
For Don and I, she’s play and chord quietly every Sunday morning – it was our wake up call – we hated it originally – but both of us would give anything to hear those chords again now.
My mother was playful and silly – she could tease – when we were little it seemed she’d try anything – riding my bike – place baseball in the street with our friends – and my personal favorite – riding Gary’s skateboard.
But she was at her best when she was taking care of us – especially when we got old enough to really be taking care of ourselves.
When Marian was living in Denver – she got sick – really sick. Mom flew out bought her socks and fed her hot dogs.
Marian went to work the next day.
She was feisty – a force to be reckoned with when she needed to be – While she may have had an opinion or two about our choices – let anyone else question us and there would be hell to pay – she always believed in us – even when we were being self destructive – Maybe she was in a constant state of denial, but in her eyes we could do no wrong – even when doing wrong was exactly what we were doing.
My mother never made millions – even if she did she would have spent it all on obnoxious toys found at yard sales and given to the grand kids – she didn’t have some stellar career or hold a world record – But she accomplished what some people only yearn for – she gave us unconditional love.
I think Gary said it best – he told me she was what a grandmother should be.
He wrote: I loved her and I always felt as though she loved me. Throughout my life she has often been the first to praise me for my few accomplishments, and nearly always the last to scold during my numerous mistakes.
I am going to miss the "birthday" call. Gary said Since I joined the Coast Guard she has never missed calling me once. What more can you ask for as a grandchild, someone who loves you no matter what, with none of the parental responsibility-baggage, just positive support and undying belief in you; and by god someone who thinks your special enough to call you on your birthday even when your closer to be being a grandfather than a grandchild. She is my grandma, what else can I say."
And she’ll be missed.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Testing 1, 2, 3

I'm sitting here, faced with the daunting reality of writing my mother's eulogy. She's not quite dead yet, but I figure once the big event happens I'll be out of time.
I was secretly hoping my sister Robin would do this -- she's always more eloquent than I am. But, I think it's good it's me. I can handle this -- and it makes sense for my role in the family I suppose. I am the head drama queen.
So I'll test drive it here.
I had gotten to the unfortunate point of resenting my mother most of the time. She presented me with one more thing to do in my overscheduled life. She was demanding -- wanting attention on her schedule not mine. She refused to take care of herself -- take responsiblity for anything, including my existence on this earth and I was tired of it. I determined a year or so ago that this relationship would continue on my terms not hers -- as much as possible anyway.
I was most often convinced that she would make her self ill just to get attention -- to make sure we'd all come running -- and for the most part, her ploy worked.
My brother, Don, and I must have seemed rather callus when we checked her into the hospital the last time. We made sure she was safe and cared for, but left quickly.
"Ok, Mom, we'll see you later," I said.
"Did you guys have any questions?" the nurse asked as we left.
No -- we replied and we both rolled our eyes.
"You guys have gone through this before I take it," the nurse said.
Oh yeah -- once too often I guess. It was the last time I spoke to her -- that last time I saw her smile -- upright -- alive, really.
It occured to me when I got news of the stroke that I'd spent two hours alone in the car with my mother and we'd barely spoken ten words. I was tired, preocuppied -- and really, I had nothing to say. I had already told her pretty much everything I wanted to -- and anything else had fallen on her selectively deaf ears. Two hours in a car wasn't going to change or repair anything.
She was who she was. She did the best should could with what she had. She loved me -- loved all of us to the extent of her ability. That will always have to be enough.
My mother was not the kind of person -- in my lifetime anyway -- who lived in the "now" -- the grass was always greener some where else. Her vocabulary was peppered with ifs and shoulds haves. Just when you'd hand her everything she always said she wanted on a silver platter, she'd want something else -- Don and I spent thousands of weekends looking at new houses or cars -- things that would be ours "when" and" if".
Every so often though, she'd show up in reality -- and it is those times she seemed truly happy --She'd always told us she wanted to take a long vacation -- but my step father -- well he was just not that kind of guy. She kept saying when and if and then finally said -- we're going -- now.
Hiro stayed home, but she packed Don-Don and I up in that little silver Izuzu and we headed out.
We went to Vern and JoAnn Johnsons ranch in Mackay. It was -- and continues to be -- one of my most favorite places on the planet. Don and I had heard about the Johnsons -- but we'd never met them -- they were the stuff of Metzler family legend -- but I didn't know why until I was there.
Vern Johnson was probably the first cowboy I remember laying eyes on -- he was authentic -- I barley remember him -- his wind weathered skin dark under his cowboy hat -- Joan was beautiful and practical -- she always seemed to have bright lipstick on -- their dining room was covered with pictures of the whole family on horseback and stacked floor to ceiling with rodeo trophies and ribbons -- We stayed in the basement in a room that smelled of dust and old leather and it was wonderful.
My mother was relaxed -- for one of the first times I could remember -- we dined on milk fresh from the cow and mushrooms Joan had picked and that day and fried in butter. To this day, that meal goes down as one of best meals I have ever had. The Johnsons, much to my continued surprise put Don and I on horseback and sent us out into the sagebrush -- They gave Don the nice horse -- but -- they just sent us out -- us two city kids who were rather lucky to know which end to feed -- and Mom just smiled and waved as we wandered away -- she knew we'd be ok - if nothing else, she figured, the horses would take care of us.
My mother, as I hear tell, knew horses. I had always heard that she was the kind of woman who could tame a wild stallion. She always told us about growing up on the back of a horse -- riding around the family farm in Steam Boat Springs, Colorado --

to be continued

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mass of energy

I'm sitting here in my mothers hospital room listening to her snore -- the only audible reminder she's alive, breathing. I wish it would stop. It seems nuts to continue like this--I guess I don't understand how one part of the brain could be mush and the other still sending the signal to breath - to exist.
My brother and sisters hover over her. They stare longingly into her eyes and hold her hand. They brush her hair and fuss. I am not compelled to do so. This, to me is just a shell -- I just want it to be gone like her spirit. If I get close I must admit to caressing her cheek or running my fingers through her hair. I don't have anything left to say to her -- anything I would say she wouldn't get any more than she did when she was alive. She was a kind woman, compassionate even, but she often saw and heard only what she chose to accept -- the rest, was trivia.
On Tuesday, I went to Mass at St. Al's. It was the oddest thing. I was sitting there in the dark chapel. There was only one other person there. The stereotypical older Catholic woman. Long skirt, conservative blouse, caridgan sweater thrown over her shoulders, a large cruxifix around her next. Neat, clean and righteous.
Abruptly the priest threw open the door and flipped on the light.
"That was abrupt," I said aloud. She looked at me as though I were a space alien.
"He's running late," she said, rather snotty, I thought. "I better go over the readings."
Then in piled another stereotype. I mother in her 40s -- denim jumper, birkenstocks, medal around her neck, wild hair with more than a few grey strands shoved haphazardly in a bun on her head. She was trailed by seven kids, the youngest of which quickly prepared the altar.
I watched them with a bit of awe, spiced with amusement.
"Say hi to Jesus honey," the mother said to the youngest boy teaching him to genuflect.
After that, a 20 something man -- wearing a "choose life" t-shirt -- a clean cut boy with a wedding ring. He sang the loudest -- knew each ritual. Again amusement for me. Next someone in scrubs -- her pockets filled with prayer books -- though none so tattered as Catholic MOM, but on their way, I'm sure.
I said there trying to focus on the lackluster homily by a priest I instantly disliked.
Several minutes into the proceedings, the Governor.
Well I'll be darned -- the Governor. Didn't even know he was Catholic.
At the sign of peace each of those Catholic Kids walked over and greeted me -- ok now I was warming to the scene. Wouldn't mind raising a few of those.
Then the priest corrected the actions of a few -- kneeling when they should have stood -- genuflecting at the wrong moment.
My amusement was complete at this point -- I dislike the notion there is a right and wrong during the mass -- People need to act on how they feel -- not according to some ancient rule written by a guy in a dress -- who likely never tried to teach seven kids to sit still and follow a ritual or two.
I walked away and shook my head.
While I needed the eucharist that day and got what I needed -- the man had confirmed in one fell swoop everything my mother hated about Catholicism.
I suspect she was watching from her perch someone -- giving me that dreaded "I told you so" shake of her head and tapping the right foot. And wishing, perhaps, her body would catch up to her brain and fade away.