Category Archives: Memories

On Still Alice

I watched Still Alice last night. It came out in 2014.

Gpa died in 2013.

It has taken this long for me to be brave enough to watch the movie. I’m glad I did.

Everyone did a fantastic job. All the emotions and struggles we went through were on the screen. And the joy’s. The years I cared for my grandfather will always have a special place in my heart.

Each day was a precious gift where I spent my time in the moment, in his reality and I lived to see the twinkle in his eye as he interacted with me and other people I brought along on our journey.

Not only do I miss him, but those who met him as he slipped away. They too mention of the loss of the delight of who Gpa was even as he became more and more child like.

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 3 years since he died. As the days go by, I feel the memories slipping away, anchored in place in the moments they happened.

But as I reflect on Still Alice, I think about the going forward. There will be a day in the future. Where we will meet again and that thought takes a bit of the edge off of stepping away from the years Gpa and I had a grand adventure.

Until we meet again, I’ll have to gather other’s who will venture forth on this crazy ride called life. Thank you for letting me share.

Celebrating at JJs

Celebrating at JJs

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Adult Words

Laura aged 7

When I was a child, I was taught there were certain words reserved for adults.  Mostly those words were curse words.  However, the n word was in the list that little girls do not say.

So I have to say, there was an allure to those words.  Here is a group of words I can’t say now but someday, when I am old enough and worthy, I will be able to use them.

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was riding in the back of a pick-up truck with a group of girls.  The pick-up had a camper on it. (Kids were allowed to ride in the back of pick-up trucks back then, even without a camper shell.)

I can’t remember where we were going.  I didn’t know the other girls very well and I wanted to impress them.  We saw a boy chasing the pick-up and I thought I’d use a grown up word.  That would be impressive, I would show the other girls how grown up I am.

I pointed out the boy and used the n word. I didn’t get the response I was expecting.

One of the girls, must have known more about the word than I did, scolded me. I don’t remember exactly what she said but I understood that there was more to grown up words than I realized. I hadn’t meant to be ugly.

I have never used that word again.

Some words aren’t adult words, they are hurtful and hateful and shouldn’t be used.

Irritating People I Love part 2

Early in our marriage, my second husband and I painted the house.  In the process, he painted the words, “I love Laura” on a door.  And even after we painted over it I remembered.

Later in the marriage, he became so angry with me he woke me at 2:00 a.m. to accuse me of buying 2 cartons of ice cream for the kids (mine from a previous marriage) and letting his canned good cupboard run out.

I calmly told him one ice cream carton had ice cream and the other being plastic, I had put left overs to use at a later date.

I then told him, he had canned goods in the cupboard, it was not completely out. He replied that he hadn’t been eating the chili and he wanted ravioli.

I then replied I asked him every week what he wanted from the grocery store.

He replied he had told me once and shouldn’t have to tell me again.

I said I was sorry and that since I had to get up in a few hours for work and take the kids to school.  I was going back to bed.

In my mind, 2:00 a.m. wakings should be about life threatening emergencies.  I’m not sure what happened in our relationship to change how he felt about me but it did.

He never could let go of the things I did to disappoint him.  And the weight of knowing I would never live down his judgment against me, the marriage failed and I sought a divorce.

My husbands aren’t the only loved ones who have let me know when I disappoint them.  Even before they tell me I have failed, I know I am not perfect.  Sometimes when they tell me I have failed, it is because of a misunderstanding or an expectation I didn’t know about that I didn’t fulfill.

I am sorry for the part of me that doesn’t measure up. I am also sorry that people set the standard so high it cannot be reached.  That part is more about them than it is about me.  And that part I’m going to let go and give back to them.

It is not my responsibility if they can’t or won’t acknowledge that what I say and do is with the best of intentions. I’ll correct what I can but I won’t apologize for 2 cartons of ice cream in the freezer. I won’t agonize over being human and making mistakes. I believe in grace, I will extend it and expect it to be granted to me as well. If I can’t get it from those in my life, I’ll go to my creator and get it there.

On Loving an Angry Man

Larry and Laura

Larry and Laura

I have heard people wonder why a woman won’t leave an abusive situation.  They don’t understand it isn’t an easy decision to make.  Many angry men will destroy those who try to leave.  This is a reality, look in the news. You will see many examples of women being met at work, home or even at restaurants and killed. In many cases even the children, other relatives and neighbors are not safe from this angry out lash.

But that doesn’t paint the whole picture either. There is love involved. Just because the other person is angry, destructive and abusive doesn’t make the love die.  Not right away anyways.

Angry men can be very charming and a delight to be around. So easy to love them when they are in the right mood. And then something makes them snap.  They tell you if you had only done this or not done that, they wouldn’t have lashed out.

So the woman adjusts to comply.  To get back the charming man. And he does return and its good again for a while. But the trick is she will never know when or what will set off the anger. More adjusting to comply.  In reality all this contorting only makes things worse.

Dad doesn’t look like an angry man in the picture. But he was. He was angry about a lot of things but mostly at his dad.  His dad died before I was born.  I don’t know if the kidney failure was sudden.  I do know Grandpa Atwell died within a week of having it. They didn’t have dialysis back then.

This unresolved relationship my dad had with his father, kept us from truly being able to connect for many years. Dad did get help when I was in high school and our relationship improved drastically. But it was because Dad did what he needed to do.

Dad had to do it. Not I. Women who love angry men think they can help, that their love will cure what is wrong.  This thought is a fallacy. Angry men who don’t do the work stay angry and love is blocked. They can’t fully receive it. And, Baby, it’s not your fault.

Seven Minutes in Heaven

When I was in junior high, I had a friend who went to a church of a different denomination.  On the one hand she told us if we didn’t go to her church, we were going to hell, on the other hand she told us they played seven minutes in heaven at youth group.

I told myself not to go to her church.  I didn’t want to go into a closet with a boy and grope each others.  Even if it meant going to hell.

I don’t remember the whole story but I’m thinking the leaders weren’t involved.  I could be wrong.

Because I went to a youth retreat at my church and they had us play ‘Darling, I love you.’ We all sat in chairs in a circle.  One person was it.  They were to sit on someone’s lap and try to get that person to smile.

Both junior high and high school kids were there.  Being shy and nervous, of course I smiled when a boy sat on my lap.  I was highly embarrassed, I didn’t even know the boy and I didn’t want to sit on anyone’s lap.

However, being a rule follower, I played the game as best as I could.  Which was lousy.  I ended up sitting on every single boy’s lap, except for the one that was shyer than me.  He didn’t want to play so much that he folded over and hid his face.  Oh how I wish I had thought to do that!

Finally, they had mercy on me and asked a boy to volunteer.  For I wasn’t going to go around again!

Really, what did you teach me about heaven?!?! I stopped going to church not too long after that.

I would much rather be in the garden digging in the dirt, alone in my room playing the violin, or juggling in the park or library.   These are times and places I find heaven. I can spend more than seven minutes and don’t have to hide in a closet.

Where do you find heaven?

 

 

A Commitment Kept

When the kids dad and I split, I made a commitment to God that I would do my part in keeping peace. I would trust God to keep my kids safe when they were away from me.  Not just with their dad but at school, friend’s homes, etc.

So when he didn’t pay court ordered child support and kept telling me the check is in the mail, I went to court to ask what they were going to do about it.

Once when the kids were in their early to mid-teens their dad was going to pick them up for a visit around 9 a.m.  He called about 9:30 a.m. and said he was on the way.

He sounded inebriated.  When I got off the phone, I looked up at God and told Him ‘I know I made a commitment not to make a fuss but if that man shows up at my door with a beer in his hand, I won’t let him take the kids.’

I don’t remember but I probably put my hands on my hips and continued, ‘I want to keep my commitment to you.  What are you going to do about it?’

Five minutes later, the phone ran.  It was the kids dad.  His friend was in the hospital and he wouldn’t be picking up the kids.

OHHHHHHHHHH

God made it possible for me to keep my commitment because I let Him do what He does best.

Thank you God.

A Promise Broken

I have never considered myself an abused woman. Though I will tell you my first husband was verbally abusive.

At first I was in love, he was a charmer.  I was taught to tell the truth but no one really talked about people who lie.

And for a period of time, I was afraid of him.

But that isn’t why I stayed.  I stayed because I had made a promise. A covenant.

I stayed until I worked out my fear of him.  I stayed until I was clear that when I left it would be for good.  No going back.  I had left and returned a couple of times before we had kids.

The main reason I was able to leave is we had gotten to a point where he acknowledged his promise didn’t mean anything to him. He was out to get all he could from all he could.

When there is a breach of contract, there is no contract.

He didn’t want a divorce, he didn’t want to be a husband either.

I had to be strong enough to make my stand and do so in a way that he didn’t retaliate.  We split in the early 90’s.  During this time, several men killed their leaving spouse or their children.

I had to navigate these treacherous waters carefully so my children could have the life I wanted us to have.

I prayed, a lot.  I would not leave my husband for another man.  I was either going to be in this relationship or not. And on thinks I could have insisted on, I let him have so he wouldn’t think I ‘owed’ him.

The rocky road didn’t end with the divorce papers being signed. He was sporadic on seeing the kids and paying support.  I never knew when he’d show or what mood.  I dealt with each incident when it came.

In the mean time I raised the kids.  Took them to school, checked report cards, taught them life skills and when chores were done on Saturdays we got in the car to do something fun.

The life I wanted.

 

Next to Last Words

When my grandmother passed away.  Gpa said her tongue got to thick and they couldn’t understand the last things she said.  The last thing they did understand what she said was, “There’s Papa!”

When Gpa talked to grandmother’s sister, she said Papa was what they called their dad.

When Gpa passed away, his speech became incoherent.  I don’t know if his tongue was thick but he was only saying his vowels.

I told him, “I love you.”

And he replied “I oo oo.”

So I knew he was telling me that he loved me.

Then he said something else.  I had him repeat it a couple of times but, I had no idea what words the vowels were.

I will have to take comfort in the next to the last words these wonderful people said.  And I do.

I will also use my words today a little more carefully than I have in the past.  I want them all to matter.

The Man Behind the Camera

A picture of Gpa

Picture of the Cameraman

Now that I have finished the floors, I am tackling the corners of stuff I have piled up.  I am determined to clear out enough space for my son and his family before they arrive.

I took a little break to go through some pictures.  I want us all to have a memory party and go through all the pictures when they get here.

I have always thought we didn’t have pictures of Gpa because he was the one taking the pictures.  Look what I found!

The tree tells me this is when he worked in Washington D.C. about the time I was 6 or 7. My sister remembers him putting us in front of trees or bushes so it seems apropos that he too is in front of foliage.  I wonder if he has been placed to look into the sun.  I don’t think so as he has so many shadows on his face.

That’s the part I hated looking into the sun and being told not to squint!

Looking at this picture makes me wonder if it is Gma taking the picture.  Or is it someone who happened to walk by?  I think now, looking back, the person behind the camera is as vital as the subject.

I know that is especially true when Gpa was the cameraman.

Anniversary on Saying Goodbye

Today is the second anniversary of Gpa’s death. I’m not sure how I feel about celebrating it.  But Lillie found this picture and it made me smile.  I miss Gpa very much.

Gpa's birthday

Looks like Gpa’s 101 birthday party

We forget, deny, denounce the part death plays in the life cycle of all living things.

If part of remembering what happened this day, also reminds me of Gpa and our relationship, then, it’s OK with me.