There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.
Home is where my husband and I reside; wherever that may be.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ruminations

If I continue to write as sporadically as I have been doing I'll be dead before I say all that I want to say. That may be a good thing.

I have been ruminating a lot lately about death. Not that I am a ruminant nor that I am in iminant danger of death either but nonetheless that is what I have been doing. Recently several people that I care very much about have died. (I despise the term passed away, it has no real meaning in this context)

My father has terminal cancer. Almost a year ago he was given a death sentence and told that he didn't have very long to live. Here it is nearly a year later and he is still hanging on. To paraphrase him, he hasn't died yet so he decided to renew his membership in the shooting club that he belongs to. I spent some time with him last fall thanks to some very good and generous friends and to my good and generous son Ryan. Dad and I got to have several heart to hearts and, I think to be able to say to each other things that needed to be said and things that we both wanted to say to each other, although dad and I have always been able to communicate with each other fairly openly.

That said, part of me, the pragmatic part, is comfortable with his imminent death. Another part of me, the emotional and, I admit, the selfish part is not happy with it at all. Layer that on top of the two deaths that have so recently occurred and it is enough to make me contemplate what is it all about.

I know what death and dying are about, but what is it about death that is so hard for all of us. What makes us cringe and shrink away from death. I have come to the conclusion, for myself anyway, that it is selfishness that makes it such a burden. I am not afraid of my own death, on the contrary, bring it on. There are days that I would be very thankful to be done with this mortal coil. But the death of others, those that are close to me, those whom I have loved, that I detest. They empty me in ways that nothing else can. Losing someone I love wrings out my heart and wrenches my soul as nothing else can.

It is a selfishness in me that I despise. It is not based on what I get from that other person, it is more embarrassing than that. Something that I find I don't even like to face in myself and yet I must and I must overcome. I detest, strong language I know, change. Please don't ask it of me. The removal of someone from my life is change, it is reminder, it is an acknowledgement of the march of time. That change is inevitable. Change is my enemy.

Sounds silly, almost juvenile, yet I am a creature of habit. Routine and order are what help me function. Without them I am at odds and I have trouble getting myself in order. Each death of each person I love changes not only my life, my schedule, my routine, but me. I acknowledge that it is good for me. I welcome it once it comes for the good that it is. But at the same time I dread it because I fear and dislike it so.

So my new resolution, and I am begging those who have gone on before me to pray with me for the strength to maintain my resolve, to open my arms to whatever change that the Lord has in store. Quit fighting against it. Find the good and the lesson that is there and learn.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Observations

Let me take a break from the life narrative and make a few observations about life. The first one being that an increase in maturity, at least for me, is proportunate to the negative experiences that one goes through.

What do I mean by that. My first experience that was a make or break thing for me was when the doctor came into my labor room to announce that I had to have a C-section. Being a person who was somewhat spoiled and used to getting my own way, most of the time, that was a situation for me that was beyond my control. There was no way for me to do anything but comply with the order of the doctor. Besides the life and health of my child was literally at stake here.

What I am getting at is that it was a time for me to either grow up and learn from the experience or keep on as I was and probably never have another child again because it was obvious that I was unable to control things and they wouldn't be going the way that I wanted in the future either. I chose to grow up and learn. I shut up, took the pain, took my lumps and sucked up my disappointment. I learned in a flash, literally, that what was important here is the child not the mother. Not what I wanted but what God wanted of me.

The next epiphany in my life will seem rather minor to others but meant a great deal to me. It was when my pediatrician announced that my second son was allergic to milk and that I had to wean him from breast milk and put him on soy formula. My first feeling was, "wait a minute, I'm feeding him the best there is, how can it be making him sick?" Then I, again, sucked it up and did as I was told. (are we seeing a trend here: headstrong mom needs to be pushed to the wall in order to learn anything) Again, I learned that he was more important than my feelings about breast feeding.

I won't go into all of the bumps that caused me to grow up in my life. There are far too many to chronicle here. That is the only way that I learn. But I will list the most significant.

The greatest time and lesson that I learned was when my youngest daughter died. That was more than the usual blow for me. Sure I was sad, sadder than i have ever been in my whole life. That is a sadness that cannot be described nor can it be shared with anyone other than one who has also lost a child. But beyond the sadness and how to deal with it effectively and properly, I learned something much more important, I learned the real value and power of faith in God. Before her death I knew about faith and all that it means to us. I knew what faith could do but I had no real idea about what faith was. Then my daughter died and it was a matter of do you really believe or not. Every second of every day for quite some time after her death I had to make a real and constant decision to believe in God and to act on that belief. Not that my faith wasn't real before, but in order for the grief not to swamp me, to keep it from overwhelming me and taking over my whole life, I had to consciously think about God and who he is and why I believed and then I had to make an effort to believe and then to act on that belief. That was the only way for me to survive. That was the only way that I could get up every morning and care for my family. That was the only way that I could take each breath some days. That was my kick in the backside into my next level of maturity. It was God's way of saying, grow up or else.

I am not saying that he took my daughter to make me grow up. Nor am I saying that he necessarily used that incident to make me take the next step on the road to maturity, but it sure was a ripe opportunity for doing just that.

Another large kick in my butt came not too many months after Rebekah's death, when my doctor announced that not only would there be no more baby's but that I had to have a hysterectomy or there would be dire health consequences for me. Not only did that kill my dreams of a large family, no six children isn't a large family, but it made me feel less inside myself. Not in the way that other's may imagine. Not less of a woman because I would be missing those organs, but less because my motherhood and my ability to have children was what had defined me for so long. I had to change my mind about myself and I was still dealing with grief over the loss of my child. My mind wasn't ready to grieve about this too.

This event was not only a kick into another step toward maturity but it had the extra added bonus of bringing my husband and I closer in our marriage. Not that any of the other happenings didn't bring us closer but this event did in a very different way. The removal of my ability to have children was something that changed both of us. It was something that both of us had to grieve over together. My husband was a wonder through this experience. His love and support were so beneficial in helping me change the way that I saw myself. Helped me see myself not only as a wife and mother but as a woman as well. As a woman with talents and gifts to give beyond my family. He showed me that I have a potential that was as yet untapped but that he would help me realize. Without his help I would never have made it through that as well as I did.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The perfect child.

On March 10, 1984 the most perfect child that God ever created was born. A more beautiful baby has never been seen. Of course it helped that he was born by C-section so his head wasn't
molded into a conehead but was nice and round like the Gerber baby.
From day one this child slept through the night, I kid you not. His father and I used to go into his room and hold our hands in front of his mouth just to make sure that he was breathing. He would wake up and eat with no fuss and go back to sleep again with no fuss either. He was just the most perfect little boy.
Every milestone that was expected of him he passed at the right time; rolling over, creeping, crawling, and walking. His smiles could melt the heart of the grouchiest and light up the room that he was in. There was nothing that he was afraid to try. When he was 18months old he announced one day, "No diaper mommy" and forever after he was potty trained during the day.
When he was old enough to play outside I could put him in the yard with his toys and there he would be hours later just as contented as could be, he never wandered off.
His favorite pastime from the first was to drive his trucks in the sand saying, "dig, dump, dig, dump." over and over.
He loved nothing better than to have his dad take him for rides on the tractors on the farm. As soon as he could hold a shovel or a fork here was there "helping" his dad. That boy was born to farm.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And then there were three.......


I got pregnant the first time on our honeymoon. A good or bad thing is hard to tell. I know that there began my growing up in earnest. Again, I thought I knew what was going to be, what would happen. After all, I came from a big family, I am a woman, and to top it all off, I'm a trained nurse. What arrogance!
The first surprise was the fact that things didn't happen as I thought they would. The textbook is the textbook and life is life and not often do the two meet, at least not in my life. For one of the first times in my life my body was in control of me and not the other way around.
Pregnancy didn't agree with me but it was something that I enjoyed because, I may not have had a right attitude about a lot of things back then, I knew just what I was doing. I knew that I was bringing another soul into the world and I looked forward to it. For the first time in my life my attentions were turning away from myself and onto someone else.
My husband, wonderful man that he is, did what any good husband and father should, became involved in the growth of his child. No way his stupid, self-centered, selfish wife could shut him out of this event.
Thank you God for sending him to me. Through the whole time he was there. No matter what emotional or physical trial the pregnancy put us through he was there, patient, loving, kind, unperturbed. Oh, how God knew what he was doing when he sent this man into my life. True, I did him some damage, but he is still here in spite of it.
Nine months later there we are in labor and delivery. Neither of us really prepared for what is to come. Even I was willing to admit that I didn't know what was in store, for me. My body wasn't going to cooperate, at least not in the way that was expected of it. It was going to cooperate in the plan of God but not in the way that I wanted. To this day all my husband will say is that he is greatful to God for his wife's life and the life of his child. The thought of disappointment is something that he won't let in.
Labor, what an apt name. No details necessary, that's not what this is about. Suffice it to say that after laboring all evening, all night, and all morning, nothing happened. All that time there he was beside me, never complaining, never leaving, and never once losing his patience. Always encouraging me, and, I am sure, praying for the safety of his wife and child.
Then comes the sound that anyone who knows what it is dreads to hear, the baby's heart monitor goes off signalling the baby is in fetal distress. I knew what that meant. I knew that sound. At the same time the dr. comes in and says he has to do a C-section. My heart fell into my feet. My husband, loving, encouraging, and patient as usual stood beside me the whole time. No disappointment there, just resignation that it would soon be over and he would know his child, his wife would be comfortable again, and it would all be over.
Why tell this part of the story in such detail? Because I need to remind myself of the love and constancy of my husband's love. Not because it wanes, not because it isn't still so true or constant, but because I am the one who forgets to remember. Because I wasted so many years taking it all for granted and I don't wish to do it anymore.

In the beginning........

In the beginning we got married. What an arrogant fool I was back then. After all, I came from

a large, intact family, I knew all about what marriage and family life was like. I knew what a wife and mother was supposed to do. I was so totally equipped to do this. Therein was my first mistake. Good choice of word, therein, there in my head. There in my pride. I could resort to the oft used phrase, "if I only knew then......" but I'm not sure that would be true of me then. I was missing an essential ingredient, maturity. In my credit I did indeed "know" an awful lot. To my discredit, I was too young and immature to know that I didn't know an awful lot as well.

My husband would be a happier man now if I hadn't been so arrogant. The honest truth, and that is what this whole thing is about after all, is that I spent so much time knowing it all that I spent a lot of our early married years shutting him out and shutting him off. Instead of learning and growing together I stood on my own and learned and stood alone. The growing didn't really happen until we started to grow together. Thank God that God is in control because without him making sure that circumstances and events came along to help both of us, I don't think this whole thing would have worked.
Thank God also for a persevering and loving man who had and still has the love and patience to stick with me and wait for me to grow up and learn what needs to be learned.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finally Learning the Lessons of Life.......Maybe.

Take one woman in her mid to late 40's, take a life-time of experiences; a lot of experiences, and you get a life-time of learning. The thing is, with this woman, most of that learning has come late in life. Mind, the experiences were scattered throughout her whole life but she is a bit slow at the learning thing. With her it takes time, sometimes a lot of time, for things to sink in.

So here she is in here late 40's and some of the lessons are finally beginning to sink in. Some are even beginning to gel, a bit. You may ask if this is an attempt to pass on some of those experiences? Maybe give a bit of wisdom to those who come after so that they don't have to learn things the hard way. This is neither. This is purely selfish. Purely a way of reflecting and recounting. A way for me to run through what has happened to me in my life and what I have gotten from it. A way to put it all down and see if there is anything else that I might be missing.

If along the way someone gets something from this, more power to them, if not, then I didn't fail at still another thing in my life. Sound like a cop out? Too bad.