Dance

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Tonight I chaperoned a high school dance. The girls were glitzed and glammed, each out doing one another in the hair, makeup, and dress department.  The boys….well they were typical  teenage boys…nerdy, sweet, and 100 years behind the girls in just about every way imaginable. Most of them sat together and played video games while the girls stood around whispering to each other, laughing, and talking the talk. Meanwhile the boys who weren’t gaming, looked somewhat green around the gills, as if they were in intense pain trying to outdo one another to impress the girls with puffy-chest macho displays. Frankly, it’s a wonder that the two sexes ever come together at all.

After spending the first half of the evening checking the kids in (what do you mean you forgot your parental permission slip) I decided to head over to the dance floor in hopes picking up some new steps. Unfortunately, watching teenage boys move to the grove is like watching an elephant attempt to play the kazoo while dancing the lead in Swan Lake…there is NOTHING that can make it look pretty. Hips go one way while butts go another and I swear I saw a couple of heads do a 360 while sitting squarely on their shoulders. But the worst thing was the fact that not one of them could keep tempo to the music. It was like watching a little old man crossing the street using a walker…one speed only… with head bent and body stooped their bellies almost dragging on the ground. The ones still moving upright were sweating like Trump’s Communication Director when the President is in front of a microphone… never sure what ungodly thing might happen to destroy all their carefully laid plans.

Yet, with all the hormones on high alert things stayed sweaty but calm and everyone was having a good time, chaperones included. Something about the unchanging ways of nervous teens brings you back to your own school dance and you realize just how far you have come!

Of course, there is always some sort of drama. At our school dance this is the End Of The Night Song. It is the one and only slow dance that the deejay plays the entire night. Stomachs tense and butterflies alight and the girls begin to giggle as the time draws near. If the truth be told no one wants to dance the last dance and everyone is crushed if they don’t. As the first notes of Fade Into You began, I was surprised to feel a tap on my shoulder. When I turned around Paul was standing there.

“Would you like to dance, Mom?” he asked strong and sure in his choice.

“Me?” I asked.

“Sure. You’re the prettiest girl here.”

And as I stepped into his arms I knew without a doubt that all those years of hard work raising two children with autism had paid off.  I was obviously doing something right in this life and was finally reeping the rewards.

 

 

What I Need From You

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I talk to B everyday I am gone. Perhaps it is a mistake. Perhaps he needs to “feel” my absence instead of my presence for a while. Perhaps he needs to miss me…if he ever would.

I say, ” Love You.” He repeats it back when what I really want to hear is:

“Well, Dad and I had a good day today. Blah-blah-blah.”

“Honey, I just want you to know that we are really missing you here. Especially me. What I wouldn’t give to have you in my arms right now. I  love you and need you here with me, now and forever.”

What I wouldn’t give for those kinds of loving and reassuring words. Words that say that I am appreciated, treasured and loved. Words that tell me I am still his girl and he is damn glad that I am. Words that make me feel his love for me here in Michigan or Paris or anywhere I happen to be. Words that he would say during my eulogy to pronounce to all in attendance that I was who he loved and letting go will be hard.

Why is it so hard for B to say them? Is it because he doesn’t know how or that he can’t because he doesn’t feel that way and saying them would be a lie?

This 30+ year love affair shouldn’t be so difficult. It SHOULD be easier than ever to whisper sweet nothings. To let a person who feels they are teetering on the edge of your life to know how much they mean to you, how much you desire them, and that their absence makes their heart ache.  For we are getting to the age where death begins to watch you from the shadows and you never know when you might be taken. And of this I am sure: When you leave this earth you should know without a doubt who loved you to the end of the rainbow.

Perhaps this kind of talk is unrealistic. Perhaps it only happens in fairy tales. But if those things are true then I want to re-write my story because this is what I need. This is what my heart longs to hear and my soul craves. Words that are meaningful, loving and make a future with B obvious. A future that is mutually desirable, sought-after and protected.

Do you love me B? Then let me hear the words. Let me hear them said from that place in your heart that is occupied only by me and that is reserved for my love only. That place in you where I anchor you to our love both past, present and future. That place that says I am still the only woman for you. That place that says you want me to be the one holding your hand when you pass into another realm.

Let me know. Before I forget and slide into a place where I can no longer feel your heart connected to mine or feel our souls slide gently together throughout the day. Let me know so when I lay my head down on my pillow tonight I can rest so peacefully that angels would come and I would not fight them. Let me know so when the sun rises tomorrow that I know your love for me has risen with it just like it will the next day as well as the next.

I need your love but right now I need your words more than I ever have. For they are a gift that is not meant to be withheld but given freely and in love.

So be it!

Living With Joy

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The last couple of weeks have been busier than usual. These days I find that I practically live in my car which is why I would love to have an old VW bus to decorate to my heart’s content as a travel around the world each year. Between school car pools, sports carpools, and the like, I put over 50,000 miles on my vehicle last year and I am going to be putting on more this coming year. Why? My new “job.”

My son, West, says I cannot call it a “job” since it is a volunteer position.

“Not the same as a real job Mom!” he exclaims.

I beg to disagree.

I have started working for an end-of-life provider. My job is to go visit people, spend time with them, read to them, do dishes…whatever makes their lives a little more comfortable. This is right up my alley.

Many years ago when I worked in a long-term ventilator care unit I spent time with the dying. I thought there was nothing more tragic than dying alone so when I knew someone was on their way out I used to spend time with them so when they crossed over they were not all by themselves. We don’t come into the world alone and I don’t think we should go out of it alone either. Just my humble opinion.

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Admittedly, I will probably not be with any of my new friends when they die. But I hope that I can make them laugh a little, help them cry a little, or tell their life stories if that is what they need to do. I am fine with it all and I am exciting for this chance to give of myself in whatever way is needed.

This week has also brought our family to its knees. My sweet niece (I’ll call her Sally) is an amazing woman married to a wonderful man (I’ll call him Joe). They have four young children. This holiday weekend Joe was seriously injured in an accident and has been designated an Asia B in regards to paralysis. This morning he is once again in surgery his second in three days. It brings home the fact that life as we know it is often fleeting and can change in an instant. It reminds me that those I love are so much more important than the everyday irritations that life brings our way. Irritations that distract us and take up time best spend on other things like the people that bring meaning to our lives.

Think of this… if you live to be 80 years old that would be a life span of 960 months or about 29,000 days long. For me, that means if I am lucky, I have a little less than 8,500 days left on this earth.  When I can see the “actual”  number of days I have left suddenly it seems like a shockingly brief period of time. And when I think back to the number of days that have been spent worrying about things that never came to pass I cringe. Life was never meant to be a struggle yet so many of us live like that is all it us.  Struggle is what Joe is facing. Everyday ordinary life is not a struggle for most people in the United States.

So today, lets all try to live our lives joyously, whole heartedly and with gladness in our souls. Let’s tell our loved ones why we are proud of them and what we love about them. And lets all try to make a difference rather it be big or small. For life is meant to be lived fully and when we practice living fully we find happiness within ourselves… Amen to that!

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Closeness

*The other day I posted about the distance I was feeling in my marriage. A very smart reader inspired me to write about what I want. Here it is.*

I would like to feel the kind of closeness with you that you feel when a newborn baby is first placed in your arms. The feelings of awe and beauty in what you have created make you feel elated.A sense of total dedication and belief in all the possibilities that lay before you open to you and bloom like a rose. The total acceptance of this person and the belief you can handle whatever lays before you with them. The way they fit so perfectly in your arms and automatically snuggle in, burying themselves deeper into your heart and soul.

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I want the sort of closeness with you that feels peaceful and reassuring. A closeness in which what what I see before me is truth in all its glorious nakedness and not something dressed to cover it up.

I want a quiet and dignified closeness in which you know the person so well that they will tell you when you are wrong in a way that allows you you to hear it and know it is true because they love you enough to tell you. In a way that in reaching for your hand they are actually grabbing onto your heart and holding it gently in their hands.

I want a closeness with you in which your love knows and acknowledges my flaws while gently trying to lead me to a better way, not through superiority but through genuine good will wished for me. A person who tries to concentrate on the good and not only acknowledge the bad in me. The kind of closeness that encompasses true forgiveness and understanding.

I want a closeness with you in which if I had to have a mastectomy in wouldn’t bother me that I had missing parts because I know you could let those go knowing that I have other parts that were just as precious and wonderful.

I want to feel a closeness with you in which talking to each other throughout a work day feels like a bonus, like a 5 minute picnic in a meadow full of warmth and happiness instead of feeling like a chore.

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I want a closeness with you that at times needs no words. It is just strong and steady and something we can hold onto while feeling safe and confident when the gales of life threaten to pull us from one another.

I want to feel a closeness to you that feels like the biggest and best quality feather bed ever made. It feels light  and airy and its a place where deep rest and relaxation can be found.

I want to feel a long-term closeness with you not something fleeting and temporary based on whims and moods. But something strong and sure  like a Boy Scout knot that won’t come untied unless you release the ends with purposeful intent.

I want to feel a closeness with you that is steadfast and steady like a dogs love and admiration to his people. No questions asked, it is just there unwavering.

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I want to feel as closeness that is devoid of fear, mistrust and hidden agendas. I want this closeness to be pure and bright like a guardian angel or like the closeness God shows us when we are open to seeing it. Closeness that you guard with your life because you both feel that it is precious and worthy.

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I want to feel a closeness to you like I never have. I want to have a deep never-ending connection with you.

Holidays

I love a good holiday. A four day one is especially appreciated. I love the time spent relaxing, the time used to connect with those I love and those special moments that the holidays give me to appreciate all the little things that make life precious. As I have reached middle age, I recognize more than ever, that these moments are fleeting… they come and then they are gone…in a flash. The time spent with the four youngest is quickly counting down like the number of  jumps I am successful at completing as I jump rope at my age .

This sense of time moving ahead quickly is apparent as I contemplate my older children. These days Nicole lives on the East Coast and West will be moving to New York City in the coming month. How did this happen? How did my babies grow up and away from us? Grandchildren living in different cities too! I talk to my daughter almost daily but it is not the same as being a short drive away. It makes me wonder where will the youngest be in 10 years? But more importantly, what will they remember about me and our time together as they find their place in the world?

That is one of the reasons I love holidays. It gives us a chance to make lasting memories. The kind of memories that are important. Kayaking, puzzle building, and walks along the beach together. These are the things that matter and with the chaos that is everyday normal life; these types of memory makers seem to get pushed to the back burner to be done “some other day.” But they rarely do. Life intrudes and sweeps away the moments that might make an imprint on our minds. That is why I treasure our time away from our “normal” so that we might spend time as a family away from life’s distractions.

And I hope that these pictures I share with you, will, for a few minutes distract you from your “normal” allowing you to remember all that is good in your life too. May they bring to mind the things you value most and may they spur you on to find time to create the memories that will bring your kids home later on in life.

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Bats getting some “fast food”

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My Garden

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On Giving Love When You Have None Left To Give

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Sometimes my house is pure 100% chaos. Sometimes it is as quiet as a lamb. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. But then there THOSE TIMES; the times when Andre digs in and NOTHING I can do will change the trajectory that we are about to embark on.

Change for Andre is difficult. It often is for those on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes that change is as small as using grape jelly as opposed to strawberry on Andre’s PB&J. But more often it is something along the lines of telling him to do his chore.

“Andre you need to empty the dishwasher!” (for the third time)

“I dun’t want to”

“There are lots of things I don’t want to do either but they must be done so empty the dishwasher. NOW”

“I dun’t want to”

This I dun’t want to would go on 100 times if I permitted it. Usually at this point the conversation will escalate to one more warning. Then I head upstairs (with him trying to stop me…pulling on me or poking at me) and take all of his electronics and tell him that he can have them back when his chore is done.  This is followed by ten minutes of attempted manipulation, threats (I’ll put your phone in the sink if you don’t give me back  my stuff) and flat out increased defiance. Finally, Andre will realize that he has gone too far and then resorts to such things as:

“Tell me you love me mom”

“I need love. Give me a hug NOW.”

I want a kiss NOW”

Along with all the demands he begins hanging all over me DEMANDING a hug or a kiss by clawing at me.

Of course, by this time I am worn out and tired of the CRAP. I try to remember where this is coming from inside his head (fear of abandonment/fear of being unlovable/anxiety) and react accordingly. But there are times when giving him what he needs (a hug) feels so ugly and disingenuous after all the chaos and manipulation that I find it hard to wrap my arms around him. I find it hard to find a place in my heart to grant him the grace that he needs. Most of the time I manage to dig it up from G** knows where but there are times it is almost impossible to find and it is at those moments when I feel like I have been swallowed whole, the best parts of me ripped out and flung far and wide. It is at these times when I start crucifying myself for not being able to give my son what he needs because it is such a little thing that feels so big.

Luckily, most of the time I do not get to this place of self torture because as I start to fall down the rabbit hole; I get ensnarled in the tree roots and find a foot hold to make my way up again. But there are times that I would like to keep falling down that rabbit hole just to feel the impact upon landing. To feel the brokenness that results. And when that happens it makes me realize that is probably what Andre is feeling (the impact) and then I find I can go over and give him that hug. A hug that will ultimately mend us both. A hug that that tells him that I love him and he loves me and that we are in this thing called autism together. Forever.

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What I Want In The Second Half Of My Life

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What I Want In A Relationship In The Second Half Of My Life

Getting older is not for the faint at heart. Our bodies will start to deteriorate and possibility our minds. We might get seriously ill and it might get harder to do the everyday things that we now take for granted. As they age, our children’s problems may become more complicated which will impact us and some may never leave home. One just never knows. Yet, our upcoming years are also a time for reflection, a time to finally relax and enjoy what we have accomplished. I hope it is a time to rejoice, have fun, and learn. I am excited and scared about it at the same time.

As I have contemplated what this second half of my life might look like I have come to understand that there are certain things that I want and need in a relationship, and certain things I don’t, if I am going to find my own personal joy in living. These are:

A. I need total transparency in my life. I no longer what to be guessing about what might be going on with my partner. I don’t want secrecy and secrets nor the lack of peace that accompanies secrets and dishonesty. I want to know that what I am looking at is the real deal and not some form of the truth.

  1. I want to be best friends with my partner and have us act in the manner one does with their best friend.
  2. I am trying to be someone who keeps herself open; someone who is open to change in whatever form that will take. I also want that in my partner.
  3. I want honesty not half-truths.
  4. I want someone who loves me with passion, concern and without reservations. I want them to feel desire and that I am their only and that they love me so much that temptation isn’t even in their vocabulary. I am willing to do the same but if I can’t have this satisfying/necessary type of love that I need then I don’t want to be in a relationship with them.
  5. I don’t want to worry about cheating whether it be emotional or physical. Everyone knows what it is and what the path looks like that leads there. I want to be 100% certain that the person I am with will turn away from that path. I will NEVER again accept this in my life. I
  6. I want someone in my life to laugh with loudly and often but knows the proper time to do so. I know I tend towards seriousness so I appreciate anyone who can lighten the mood when appropriate.
  7. I wan to try to live a blameless life in a blameless relationship. I don’t want to blame someone else for my issues and I don’t want someone blaming me for theirs. I have wasted too much time blaming and have spent too much time being blamed. I don’t want it in my life anymore.
  8. I want to live a life taking full responsibility for myself and not putting it on someone else. Seems like the grown up thing to do when you are over 50 years of age.
  9. I want “boring normal” everyday passionate sex. I don’t want sex with other people. I don’t want people watching me have sex. I don’t want to watch my partner have sex with someone else. I have learned what is important in life and this is not it.
  10. I want a relationship in which both parties share and consult with the other especially in the big matters.
  11. I need to be in a relationship in which my partner thinks the best instead of the worst of me. I want them to have faith that I am not slacking and that I am doing as much as I can and the best that I can on any given day. I don’t tell my partner they aren’t doing enough at work and I don’t expect to be experiencing that back.
  12. I want to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to get involved in important things as long as they aren’t disrupting the peace. Someone who will be proud of my activism knowing that ultimately I am trying to improve things for ourselves and others.
  13. For me a sense of adventure is important. I want to share that with someone who will also help push us into a realm of discovery.
  14. I want to spend time with my kids and my grandkids when I am older. I would like to have BIG family vacations together. I think it is important that the person I am with values family too.
  15. Being with someone who finds me sexually desirable no matter if I have scars, jiggly thighs and a soft round belly. I want to feel that my physical flaws are just as valuable as the parts that are not flawed just because it is part of who I am. Getting old does not do nice things to the body. I may not be perfect but I am still beautiful.
  16. I want to get naked more… wrinkles be damned
  17. I want a more in-depth spiritual life to share with my partner but I am not sure exactly what that looks like right now.
  18. I want to know that the person I am with has my back. I want to know that if I am lying in a hospital bed they will not be afraid to call the grumpy nurse over and say, “You know she hasn’t been given her meds. She needs to be turned.” Whatever it is. I want to know they will not be afraid to get me what is needed and will get out of their comfort zone to protect me when it is difficult for me to protect myself.
  19. I want to share in deep conversations so I know who my partner is… their wants, needs, dreams and desires.
  20. I want a person who loves to travel and explore. These are things I want to do when I am older. I don’t just want to be sitting on a sofa waiting for the Meals For Wheels truck to arrive.
  21. I want to volunteer more and share that experience with the person I love.
  22. A want to become a person who says yes more than they say no and I would like that in my partner.
  23. It is important for me to know that the person I am with appreciates what I bring to our relationship and doesn’t try to force me into a role they want to see me in rather than the role I put myself in of my own choosing.
  24. Compromise is important to a healthy relationship. I want to become better at it and learn from the person I am with.
  25. I want to try to do the things that will help us to stay healthy through exercise, eating, sleeping, etc. and I need a person who will encourage me to do these things especially when I am hurting and getting up and moving is hard.
  26. I think it is important to share our lives together but to also acknowledge that we don’t have to share everything to have something worthwhile and worth keeping.
  27. I want more peace in my life. I am finding out how really important that is to me. That doesn’t mean no strife and confrontation because if you don’t have a little of that you cannot be peaceful because what you have isn’t real. But in general a life that cultivates and values peace in the relationship and within us.
  28. Acceptance…I am who I am and though I can change I shouldn’t have to unless I am seriously hurting those around me (like yelling) That doesn’t mean someone has to accept everything about me like the fact that I hang the toilet paper role “wrong” but in a general sense of “you are pretty okay and everything about you doesn’t have to be re-done”.
  29. Learning keeps the mind young and excites it. I want to be in a relationship with someone who never wants to stop learning.
  30. I want to be with a person who isn’t searching for perfection but is searching for meaning.
  31. Like everyone, I have many flaws. It is important that I am with someone who is aware of my flaws and will try to ignore the ones they can and will kindly try to help me improve on the ones that they cannot.
  32. I tend to be too critical so I don’t think another extremely critical person would be a good thing to promote happiness.
  33. My love language is hearing sincere words of praise, acceptance and love. If I do not hear the words it is difficult for me to fully believe I am loved so this is important to me. I understand that words can be cheap but words said with love “sound” sweeter than words that are missing and should be said.
  34. I have pain on a daily basis from my back, neck and sometimes fibromyalgia. I want the person I am with to understand this and not think I use it as an excuse. It is hard for me to be “less than perfect” it makes me feel old and crabby because I am in pain. I want that pain to be acknowledged and some understanding to help me through it and provide encouragement rather than having to “prove” myself constantly.
  35. This past year in particular I have lived in fear. I no longer am willing to do that and I am not willing to be with anyone who would use it against me.
  36. I want to have a deep spiritual connection with my partner in which those things we find important we willingly share without fear and impatience. I want to feel that natural connection and know they are thinking of me because they call during the day or leave texts. I want connectedness rituals built into our lives from the way we spend the morning TOGETHER to how we say goodnight.
  37. I want to be able to reach my partner on the phone when I call. While I understand there are meetings and such there is NO reason I should not be able to reach my partner other times during the day.
  38. I want to limit my time traveling and try to live in the present. This is hard for me and because of my past I have a tendency to try and plan for the worst or for the future because it makes me feel safe and without anxiety even though doing so makes no sense.
  39. I want to try and live with as little anger as possible.
  40. I am trying to learn to make decisions on feelings with ebb and flow and constantly change and I am hoping my partner will do the same.
  41. I want to help make my partners dreams realized and I want the same back.
  42. As I age I want to focus more on the good and less on the bad.
  43. I want to find ways to show love that is meaningful to the person I am trying to show love to
  44. I would like to believe that as much as you can plan these things that my partner will be there holding my hand when I take my last breath and will help lead me to my final adventure.images-7

Letting Go Again

It’s been going on for over a week now.

“I’m nervous!”

“I won’t know anyone there!!!”

“What if I get lost???!!!!!!”

“What if there is nothing there for me to eat?”

“What if I land wrong on the board and hurt myself?”

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This is what I have been hearing from Gracie lately and it intensified as the day drew closer for her to attend diving camp at a large university four hours from home. These are the words of a child whose age is between the first double digit and her teens. Excited but scared to death especially because she knew no one who would be attending camp with her.

She’s good at what she does so I wasn’t worried about that aspect. She has accomplished in three years of doing her sport what it has taken of most of her competitors 6-8 years to do. Learning and practicing wasn’t the issue but being away from home was.

Gracie has always had difficulty separating herself from us. I often wonder if she would have been this way if she had been born to us or if her adoption has played a role in it. Not knowing if people will come back to you or if they will stay with you does tend to put doubts in your head. And as we spent last night together in the city she looked as if she might cry. But I knew that she needed this camp to teach her about courage and accomplishment not so much in her sport but in life in general. That’s what we are suppose to do as parents. We should give our children experiences which allow them to separate with confidence so they will be able to be independent adults when they go off on their own.

Waking up this morning was hard. Her nerves were bouncing all over the place and I was watching as a “bad hair day” started to unnerve her even more. I said all the right things and did all the right things. I asked if she was okay and told her since she could do double rotations she had nothing to be afraid of.  Finally, it was time to go and check into the college dorms. Now, I was getting a little hesitant.

We drove over in near silence with Gracie taking in everything around her. After unpacking and making her bed I saw that Gracie was beginning to get her groove back. Her confidence began to soar (or at least she wasn’t going to let anyone know anything different just like she does when she dives). Just before she was to go to the pool with her group she remembered she had left her water bottle in the car so we dashed off to get it. As we walked back I took her into my arms and said, “You’ve got this baby. You will be okay.”

And with that she lifted her big brown eyes, looked up into mine, let go of my hand and said, “Geez mom, you worry too much!!!”

It was at that moment I knew she would be just fine and that in releasing my hand she was letting go of so much more.

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Forgotten Things

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These past five days:

I have had the chance to rejoice

In the unconditional love of my grandkids

And basked in the joy of watching

Them learn and explore

Watched as cousins took turns

Comforting the crying baby

Willingly and with a gentle appreciation

Of the difficulties of travel on young ones

I have gotten to have a greater

Understanding of my daughter

Her daily life

And her aspirations and dreams

For herself and her family

I have met cousins from here to there

Two of whom I never knew existed

Until I found them last week

One on-line and one

In a tiny local historical center

The volunteer of which

Called him to say

“Come down here. A relative of yours is here!”

And he came lickety-split

To meet an unknown

Provided with a chance to talk and compare notes

Next to the sloth bones that another cousin

Dug up over 100 years ago

And others I have not seen

Since I was a moody teenager

Sulking in my own misery

And misunderstandings of life.

I have traveled to the towns

Of my ancients

And had a glimpse of how and where they lived

Drove by their houses and fields

Seen the rows of corn

That are planted in the same spot

That my Great-Great Grandparents hoed

I visited the graves of those grandparents

Who made the perilous journey

Across a vast ocean

With hope of achieving something

BIGGER and BETTER

For their children

Their dreams realized in the faces

Of their  never-known great grandchildren

And beyond

I have celebrated the birth of those

Who have shaped me

Shown me love and concern

Throughout these many years

And helped me to become who I am

I have been given precious keepsakes

Hundreds of years old

By my Aunt who loves to make

Others happy in the most

Delightful and meaningful of ways

I have felt the pain of my daughter

Whose child does not sleep

While admiring her calm and patience

On so little dream time

I’ve watched you, B

Love our children from afar

Reminding me, once again

Of all the precious people

I have waiting at home for me

With open arms and love in their hearts

But most of all I have had the opportunity

To feel all those blessings in my life

That I often miss during

The hustle and bustle

Of daily life

And those bountiful moments in time

With family members that love me

In ways once unimaginable

I am thankful for all

That I have

All I can give back

And for you

Giving me the chance

To discover things long forgotten

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.