WE

 

We have built houses together

Planted a vineyard and gardens

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Raised six kids together

We have survived your mother

The death of parents

And your brother

We have moved

Numerous times for your career

Starting over again and again

Just knowing each other

In a city of a million faces

Finding comfort and love in that

And we have stuck together

Through so much adversity

Pain and sorrow

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We have traveled the world together

Had much happiness and joy

Done things as a couple

That brought us closer

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We have struggled

Raising two boys with autism

Put their needs ahead of our own

Done everything possible to give them

The best chance for a good life

So why it is now

After all the hard years

After all the time we have sweated and pushed

And fought the school system

After life and death

Hardships and pain

You want to abandon

Our future

And all the good times

We dreamed about

For so very long?

We’ve slogged through

The Rough Times

Taken so many wrong turns

But you don’t want to share

In the best that is to come…

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The walking along the beach

Holding hands

Visiting Grandchildren

Kayaking the rivers

And taking art classes

Working to save the river

And the seals

Old age sex

And wrinkles

And watching with a tender heart

Fingers intertwined

When one of us takes our last breath

Being there for the other

As one passes to the other side

To the unknown

The other left grieving and lonely

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We’ve been through the hard times

Why can’t we share the reward

Of all we worked for together?

When life is finally getting easier

Why should a future wife

Get all the benefits

Of our hard work?

I do not understand

I will never understand

And don’t expect me to…

Don’t ever expect me to!

 

 

Yesterday I had a private therapy session with our third and final marriage therapist. He was highly recommended by my therapist and she believes he can help because he does in depth therapy examining both partners pasts and seeing how they effect the dynamics of the relationship. He looks at attachment in childhood and how that influences attachment within the marriage.  I think he is a good fit but I was exhausted after our session. I felt like I had run a marathon and got run over by a truck at the end. Working on psychological/relationship issues is hard work if you are honest with yourself and others.

Recently I have been reading the book Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. The book jacket says ” Forget about learning how to argue better, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, get to the emotional underpinnings of your relationship  be recognizing that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection.” It is an interesting book and I see B and my relationship on so many pages and it saddens me. But we both keep trying.

 

 

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Quieting My Soul

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It used to be that for my husband’s job we would move about every 2 years. I loved the excitement of it all. The new house, new town, new things to do. I loved purging my life of all the un’s … the un-used, the un-wanted and the un-needed. I loved starting life “over.”

For the past 10 years we have lived in one town but moved to three different houses. We have been in this one 5 years. About the longest we have ever lived in one place and to tell you the truth…I am ready to move. This wouldn’t be a problem except that it is…B refuses to move again. I get it. It is a pain to move….so much to do…taking apart, putting together, cleaning, painting, and organizing, Yet, I was good at it. Amazingly so. In fact, I got so good at moving I would have all my boxes unpacked within the first 72 hours. No boxes sitting in the garage waiting to be unpacked for me. I took that as a personal affront if things were not in place where they belonged…soul included. And for a while my soul would be at peace while it explored and planned and painted.

My soul is a nervous one. One that craves excitement, changes and challenges. My soul has a hard time sitting and staying in one place. And when my soul gets itchy I know that it is time to move. Yet, I can’t. B no longer wants to buy and sell houses; no longer wants the bother.

So how does one feed an itchy soul?

I am not sure. I am meditating which calms and centers me but still my soul is restless. I am working on my novel but still my soul wants to wander. Sometimes it feels as if my soul is akin to a ghost wandering the halls of an old mansion looking for a way to get back into herself. And I am just not sure how to quiet her.

Will it quiet when I am living where I really want to be? Will it quiet when my marriage is good again? Will it quiet when I know what the future holds for my two autistic sons? Or do some souls never quiet because they are always looking to stir things up and invite chaos into their lives?

People say doing things for others helps quiet the soul. I haven’t found that to be true yet but I am hoping to start volunteering for a local hospice program and perhaps that will help…being close to death often reminds you how precious it all is and plants seeds of contentment in your soul.

Or perhaps quieting the soul it is more ominous to me than I truly want to recognize. Maybe my soul believes that quieting itself means I have given up… that I no longer am wanting or expecting change, that I am content and therefore complacent, that I am accepting of whatever comes my way; no longer carving out a life of my own. Done. Finished. Bricked up like a fireplace in an old house so as to eliminate the drafts. And if this is what quieting the soul is all about then frankly it scares the crap out of me.

Sometimes I wonder if I am doomed to have a wandering soul and sometimes I wonder if wandering is better than a soul lost to complacency. I’m sure there must be a middle ground but I have been unable to find it. For now my soul wants a change but perhaps this time the change will have to be within me and not through external circumstances. Looking inward instead of out. I am not sure but I know without a doubt that change is acoming’.

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Breaking Records

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I’ve lived with autism for 16 years. I have yet to understand it. Take Andre. High school student who is also taking college classes and getting A’s and B’s. Smart, right? Then why can’t he change his underwear?

Seems to me that he is on some sort of record-breaking quest because recently I have noticed a pattern which I am sure Guinness World Records would love to have a stake in.

Record Breaking Attempt #1.

Number of Days Between Showers….SIX

Yes, six stinky days. Believe me, it’s not that we are willing participants in these record-breaking attempts. It’s just that life gets in the way. Often we take notice after Andre walks by smelling like road kill and the following conversation ensues:

“Honey, when was the last time Andre took a shower?”

“I don’t know. I thought it was your month to remember all his idiosyncracies.”

“No, my month was last month. This is your month.”

“No, last month I caught him hiding cookies in the downstairs bathroom so he could have a snack when he was on the toilet. It is definitely your month this month.”

And then all is revealed when little sister pipes up with:

“Well this week is my week to clean the bathroom and he hasn’t been in there once!”

AGGGGGG…epic parental fail.

AGAIN

Record Attempt #2.

Number Of Days Without Changing Underwear…..SIX

Yes, I am at fault here. I forget that an almost 6 foot tall person may need reminders to change his underwear EVERY SINGLE DAY. The lazy mother in me is tempted to teach him to turn his skivvies inside out in order to get a few more days use out of them but butt skid marks on the outside just look worse than skid marks on the inside so I am going to let this one ride.

Record Attempt #3.

Number Of Days Gone By Without Brushing Teeth……FIVE

I know this to be true because we just returned from a holiday where I put his toothbrush in his bathroom. On the last day I asked him to go get his toothbrush so I could pack it.

“Toothbrush? You brought my toothbrush with us on vacation? Why would you bother…its our vacation.”

At home I have signs up as reminders to brush his teeth. I have placed multiple toothbrushes in multiple locations. Even at the kitchen sink. And I think that is the problem. There are so many around that, just like dust bunnies, pretty soon they just begin to blend into the scenery. Sadly, little sister who brushes her teeth numerous times a day has cavities galore. Andre…not one. Ever. He is the Anti-Christ of the American Dental Association.

 

Record Attempt #4.

Number Of Times Per Day “I DON’T Wanna” is said. 1,440 x2=1880. That is about every 30 seconds.

“Time to go.”

“I don’t wanna.”

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“I don’t wanna.”

“I think you better start on your homework.”

“I don’t wanna.”

Clean your room. I don’t wanna. Take out the trash. I don’t wanna. Take a shower. I don’t wanna. Come eat breakfast. I don’t wanna. Find your shoes. I don’t wanna.

And so it goes.

I admit, that these things, while annoying, are definitely not life-threatening. YET. But that is exactly the point. Because one day we will no longer be on this earth to monitor (even half-assed) Andre’s idiosyncracies and our fear is that one day his mummified body with rotten teeth laying nearby, will be found in year-old underwear, crushed under piles of pizza boxes and food wrappers that he refused to clean up. And like global warming; we don’t know how to stop this slide toward disaster.

The one positive thing about all this record-breaking talk is that it has spurred me on to try to break one myself.

Record Attempt #1.

Number Of Days I Remain Consistently Sane

I’m going for….

ONE

 

 

 

 

 

One Of THOSE Posts

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This weekend our cousin died in an automobile accident. She was 29 years-old, newly married, and had a three year-old daughter. For her family it is a tragedy that defies understanding or words. For her husband and daughter it is incomprehensible loss in which parts of their lives will never be able to be restored. For the rest of us it has shaken us to the marrow of our being because we have lost such a wonderful woman which just reinforces how fleeting life can be. How random things are. How we really never know when our number is up and how scary that can be.

Sometimes I wonder that if you knew you had 24 hours to live whether it would be a good thing or a bad one?  Would it be wonderful to have the time to say your goodbyes, express your love, and to impart your wisdom? Would death be a tad scary if it all boiled down to 1440 minutes? Would being surrounded by loved ones make that fear disappear?

Obviously, V didn’t know she would die on Saturday. She woke up happy and carefree after having a date night with her husband. Life was looking good as she was going to pick up her daughter from her mother’s house.  And then, just like that, she rounded a curve and she was gone.

Did she leave the house planting a kiss on her husbands check? Does her husband wish he had if he didn’t? And how often have I left my house irritated instead of in a loving mood? What would my family’s last impression of me be the majority of the times that I have stepped outside of my front door? Would they have the good to remember or the bad? Would they feel guilty for the rest of their lives because our last words were not the words we would have said if we had known that they were the last words we would ever say to one another? It gives me pause to think about the ending of life in this way.

And so, yes, this is one of THOSE posts. A gentle reminder that we never really know when our time is up. A “go hug your kids” kind of post. Have sex with your spouse kind of post. A wake-up call to phone your mother. A take out the trash because you love your dad post. It is a post that calls attention to the fact that what we do today really does matter because it may be the last thing we are remembered by the people that mean the most to us.

Amen (so be it)

 

Love Knows No Bounds

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Last night my sweet aunt Nan died. She was almost 90. Nan was the one I could call and discuss family politics with. She always had an answer to ponder and at times I think she knew her brother, my Dad, almost better than he knew himself. She was the one who nurtured my interest in genealogy and the records I am going through now are a result of her holding onto those pieces of family history that she believed could improve our future if we had access to the past. Yes, Aunt Nan was the family historian and was well suited for the job.

Aunt Nan was also a go-getter. She was practical, forthright, always willing to take your call, and smart as a whip.  She was someone I admired immensely. And while the majority of her life was happy and enjoyable, the end was not, as she suffered from severe dementia for the past seven years or so.

Dementia is cruel. It is disheartening and robs its victims of their personalities. It steals away their memories and drops a steal-clad veil over what makes a person uniquely themselves. For years, Aunt Nan no longer knew her husband, her children, her life-long friends, and was unable to celebrate the births of her great-grandchildren in any sort of meaningful way. While she held a baby she had no idea who the baby belonged to. Even worse, she lost a child and never knew it. Aunt Nan became a shell of her former self. Her brain  locked away while her body lingered on.

Unfortunately, a few years after Nan’s mind started shutting down, her husband, Uncle J, also began developing dementia. It was heartbreaking to see this former surgeon slowly begin to fade away into himself.My cousins now had two parents who needed round-the-clock care. I grieved for them understanding the difficulties of having two parents who were both incapacitated. To make matters worse, a doctor recently told the family that Aunt Nan could live another 10 years because she was as healthy as a horse.

Then three weeks ago my Uncle J died. It was expected for he was fading and rebounding for the past several weeks. He and Aunt Nan had been married 64 years. Thankfully, Nan didn’t know that J was gone…or did she?

It seems strange that a woman who just a few weeks ago was as healthy as a horse just up and dies. Rapidly. With only a few days notice. And it makes me wonder if love truly does transcend all. Is there some sort or life current that flows silently between long time lovers? Do we somehow “know” what we don’t? Can deep-seated love never be pulled out of you? It seems plausible. After all, I have many instances in my life where I knew something bad had happened to someone though I could not pick up on the particulars of what it was.

I think we all have invisible connections to those we love. Some of these “currents” are stronger than others but often, if we try, I think we can tap into them. Sometimes we get glimpses of  our loved ones state of mind. We can “know” without “knowing.” I think that is what happened to Aunt Nan. Although her mind was locked up somehow love held the key which let her know that J was gone and she had to go too. She really had no other reason to “live” for her one true love was gone.

So to Aunt Nan and Uncle J… I send you my love. I thank you for your kind words and advice. I appreciate the things you taught me and I thank you, Uncle J, for saving my sister’s life. My greatest hope for the two of you is that there is a swimming pool you can frolic in throughout eternity and that your undying love for one another and your family remain strong.

 

Food …The Children Should Not Suffer

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I live in one of the poorest most economically depressed counties in the entire United States. It’s a place where English is most often the “second” language and where individuals follow the fruit and vegetables, often picking in 100+ degree heat. It is a place where poverty is rampant but food in the fields is abundant, illegal drug use is prevalent and the gulf between “haves” and “have nots” is wider than the Grand Canyon. Frankly, there is no bridge big enough to traverse this giant chasm.

Make no mistake about it, I am a “have.” I have a roof over my head, money in the bank, and clothes on my back. My life is plentiful. But all around me are reminders that this just isn’t the case for so many. I do what I can…carry McDonalds cards in my car and hand them out to folks who need a meal. But that is just a miniscule drop in the bucket with what is truly needed in the area.

Today on the short drive from downtown I saw three different adults searching trash bins for bottles and cans that can be turned in for change. And while it is shameful that any human being is forced, for whatever reasons to live this way, I am not as worried (though I am concerned) about them because they are resourceful. It is the children that I worry about especially during the summer, for it is the children who suffer.

During the school year kids from low income homes have the opportunity to have free breakfast and lunch at school yet President Trumps budget calls for an elimination of this program. Continue reading

Hatred Is Not The Answer-Terrorists

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I’ve been to Paris three times during my life. The first was almost thirty years ago during our honeymoon, the second time was about five years later and recently we went two summers ago. Like most major cities, I have tended to avoid Paris because there are just too many people in too small of a place. I feel the same way about London, Beijing and New York. So when I frequent these places, I am already on edge. But usually then I meet people who have stories to tell, tears to fall and a love of life that is extraordinary and somehow these big cities become almost magical because I am reminded just how similar we all are in our shared dreams and in our desires.

The last time we were in Paris we were traveling with our children. Around the corner from our hotel was a bank of small restaurants and sandwich-to-go types of places. We entered one of the latter. It was a small place and behind the counter were three men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent and spoke Arabic to one another. When they heard us talking with our distinctive American accents immediately their faces hardened. Then when I went to order for our family all of a sudden the place was CLOSED. They were no longer serving they told us. Yet, after we walked outside all of a sudden they were serving again to the lady who ordered a tomato baguette. So I went back in to order only to be told again that they were not open even though there were more new customers being helped. I was mad and sad about the situation but what was worse is that my children were witnessing this and wondered why they would not let us buy their food. And so I told them this:

“For some reason these men do not like us. I do not know why and neither do you. If I had to guess I would say that they were probably hurt or their relatives were probably hurt in some way by American policies or forces. They are probably still upset or angry by this. Of course, we will never know the real reason and I am guessing only to try to understand why someone would hate us even though we have never ourselves done anything to them. So this is why we cannot hate because hatred begets hatred. Anger creates more anger and people do things to one another that they should not. So I want you remember today not because of what happened but because of how we will handle it. For if we let it, the small thing they did to us will someday make us think that we can do something to someone we think has wronged us. But what is most important here is that we must remember that our lives as human beings are linked together in so many mysterious and interesting ways to people we know and people we don’t. If we allow this link of distrust and anger into the chain of humanity that we carry with us it will only create sorrow both for us and others that we will unintentionally effect by this hostility. So we must smile at those men and show them that we see their humanity even though they do not see ours.”

And so we did.

I wish I could say something changed and one of the men smiled back but that did not happen.

Tonight as I sat and watched the news pouring out of the City Of Lights I was dismayed as I listened to the political pundits demanding retribution, retaliation and encouraging a decrease in our hard fought freedoms (as if that will make things safer!) so the world will be a “better place” and I wished that they had been with us that day in Paris. For while the experience of being hated just because of where you come from was a bitter disappointment; I also know that my children learned a valuable lesson on that street in Paris that day. They realized that hatred is not the answer. I hope that calm heads will prevail in Paris and that human beings throughout the world will remember this truth too as they struggle to find a way through the carnage that they have seen and endured.