Once a Mother, Always a Mother

I miss my children. It’s not the miles (we live across the country from each other), but it’s the passage of years. I am proud of them both. They’ve made good lives for themselves, with jobs and partners and children of their own. They have grown up to be what I had wished for them: responsible, independent, compassionate people.

But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about those years when they were young. (And I was younger, but that’s not the point.) Looking back over all those years, it’s like a slideshow in my mind. Flickering images, passing in succession, of babies and toddlers and tweens and teens. I have come to realize that I loved every moment with them. I’d like to be able to relive some of that, to have a second chance to enjoy all those “firsts” for those new beings.

I had only the first 3 days of my eldest child’s life as I gave her up for adoption. While that was a hard decision, I have never doubted it, have always known that it was the best thing for her–even if it wasn’t what I would have wanted for me. But my circumstances were such that I was not able to have a child in my life at that time. I am still in contact and I am happy to report that her mother did a great job–I’m also very proud of her and her accomplishments.

W, my son, was born in the year of the Texas sesquicentennial (150 years) of statehood and the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. I was 8 months pregnant with him when I watched Challenger blow up. Ronald Reagan was in the White House. We were listening to “That’s What Friends Are For”, “Addicted to Love”, “Rock Me Amadeus” and Prince was giving us a “Kiss”.

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos had fled the Philippines, leaving her thousands of shoes behind. 1986 was the year of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Chicago won the Superbowl and the Mets were the World Champions. Science was giving us the first Hep B vaccine and superconductivity; Voyager passed Jupiter and sent back photos that answered some of our questions about it. Fox channel was born on our TV and Oprah had her show.

I was busy with more important things. W was born at the end of March. I watched him lift his head and turn it over while in his layette at the hospital. His father and I took him home and began our life as a family (not just a couple). Because I breastfed him, we had a lot of “face” time. I talked to him and sang to him–not unlike the mariachi bands that wander through the Mexican restaurants while you’re trying to eat. There were so many firsts, those remarkable moments of new actions, new abilities. His first smile was wonderful, all gums and happiness.

Now, looking back, it seems like the time went by like lightning…a flickering moment and then on to something else that was new. He learned to drink from a straw. He tasted strawberry jam for the first time. He laughed, that deep and wonderful belly laugh that only babies have. He went to Mother’s Day out, leaving the house as it had always been and then coming home to an empty house; then he crawled all over, looking for our things. He (and I) lived with his great-grandparents for several months until we left for Germany. His first Christmas filled the floor with presents from the grandparents / great-grandparents. He preferred his father’s optic orange golf ball.

He got a stuffed animal for his 2nd birthday, a duck we named George. W still has George and he still sleeps on W’s bed. Apparently his wife cuddled with George when he was on sea duty. He would take all of the toys out of the footlocker (toy box) and then climb in his…boat? Spaceship? Maybe it was his car… He had a toy phone and he would hold it up to his ear and hold a conversation–complete with pauses while the “other person” was speaking. He was a loving baby, happy to get hugs and kisses, which he learned to return with great enthusiasm. There was a certain feeling of awe to realize that I was the center of his Universe–at least for the first couple of years.

His sister (L) was born in 1988, when W was 2.5 years old. That was the year George Michael sang about his “Faith” and it was the first time we were Rick Rolled. (We didn’t even know that was what happened, those first few times of hearing Rick Astley singing.) And we all knew the words to Bobby McFerrin’s song…”Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Reagan was still President. Pan-Am flight 103 exploded from a bomb, to crash in Lockerbie, Scotland. Benazir Bhutto was elected as the first Islamic woman to be Prime Minister in Pakistan; she said of her two terms in that position: “The government I led gave ordinary people peace, security, dignity, and opportunity to progress.”

Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen were the candidates for the Democrats; George Bush and Daniel Quayle were the GOP’s choice. Washington won the Superbowl; LA Dodgers were the World Series winners. CDs were outselling vinyl and Ted Turner created his own TV station. “The Last Emperor” won the Oscar for Best Picture. Oh, and the US Navy shot down an Iranian airliner after mistaking it for a jet fighter.

L was born in the middle of November, just in time to get Christmas presents that year. She was also born in Augsburg, Germany. The first stuffed animal she was given was from her father and brother–a little orange tabby kitten. Last I heard, L still has it.

Each of my pregnancies were different except for the morning sickness that lasted all day. This time, with L, I had a toddler to chase after and couldn’t just sit quietly, hoping for the queasiness to pass. By the time I was about 6 months along, poor little guy had to climb the four floors up to our apartment by himself. I wasn’t able to balance him and my tummy without feeling like we’d all go rolling down. The only question he asked me about the sibling that was coming along was “how does the baby get out?”. Whew. Missed the big one, “how did the baby GET IN?”

I announced this pregnancy to my grandparents (the “greats” for my kids) when I told my grandmother that I could not come to the US for their 50th wedding anniversary because the airline wouldn’t let me fly with a newborn. Instead, they came to Germany for Christmas and New Year’s. It was the first time they had ever been out of the US.

I got to see my children interact with my grandparents–the youngest and the oldest of the family. My grandfather took out his dentures to show W–who promptly ran to me and held on. I guess he thought he’d get bitten. For various reasons, I was bottle-feeding L and it has been a cherished memory, the sight of Grandmom, holding her and feeding her.

W took his position as the older brother seriously and was always helpful–bringing me diapers or a burp rag. He was always gentle with her and I enjoyed watching the two of them, learning about each other. BUT! L’s personality was already manifesting itself: she could be extremely vocal about the things she wanted (even if it only was in baby-babble) and I told her father that one day, our child would come running into the room, crying and saying, “SHE hit me!”. (I was not wrong.)

As a stay-at-home Mom (SAHM, so I’ve heard is the acronym), my world revolved around my children. Taking care of them (and their environment) was a major priority. I wasn’t chained to them, there were no bad feelings about being at home. As a matter of fact, I thoroughly took pleasure and joy in being with them, in the daily routine. And a daily routine with a baby and a toddler is a study in changes and discovery. (I don’t mean diaper changes, although we had those, too.)

I tried to mark in my own mind each of the many milestones, for both of them. The first food, the first drinking from a cup, the first step…so many “firsts” it could be overwhelming. I’d be marveling at one and then BOOM! We’d have another. Even the “firsts” I had had with W were different than those same things with L. And I loved every minute of it.

The whole world takes on a new, lustrous and exciting feel when you are seeing it through the eyes of a child. Even explaining and talking about the mundane things they were doing, I knew that “mundane” was my word and “wowee” was theirs. I took the time to explore their world as they explored this big world they were living in. The trees are a little taller, the grass a little greener, the dog or cat a little fluffier and softer.

As time passed (as it is wont to do), the “first” events slowed down a bit. I had a chance to really savor it and even catch my breath before the next one came along. L was my dramatic child. Supporting evidence: she was in the high chair, W and his friend were seated on the bench and W says to me, “Mommy, (L)’s face is blue.” Mommy went into freak out mode because when I looked at her, by the gods, she was blue. A blue that no human face should ever be. I pulled her out of the high chair and that action knocked the food loose so that by the time she was in my arms, she was breathing again.

She wasn’t done with us and high excitement. Not too long after the high chair episode, she was coughing and hacking around the house. Friday afternoon, of course. Did I mention we were living in Germany and had military healthcare? No appointments over the weekend. So her father and I both agreed we would be taking her first thing Monday morning. That apparently did not meet with her agenda… I was downstairs at the neighbor’s house when the husband knocked on the door, holding L. “You need to go back upstairs to be with W. I’m taking her to the ER. I was changing her diaper and she stopped breathing. I had to resuscitate her.”

These are not words you ever want to hear. The wait was horrendous. Husband came home, without L, about 10 pm. The hospital had done an xray of her esophagus. If this (      ) is the normal esophagus, hers was like this (XX|XX) where the “|” is the actual opening for air. No wonder she was not breathing well. Turned out, she had the croup. Poor baby got shots in her thighs every 6 or 8 hours…and the medical team had asked her father to help hold her down for the first couple. When I went to see her, she very pointedly refused to look at her father. I think I lost some popularity when I didn’t grab her up and take her home. Scary, scary times for a mom (and a dad).

It’s not like W didn’t have excitement. No, his was of a different style. When they were tweens, we accompanied their father to an office party at the boss’ house. There was an above ground pool. It is pertinent to the story to understand that in this circular pool, in the center, there was a slight dip so that all the dirt would collect in that one place. My son dove in and found himself standing within that dip. It made the water just *that* much too deep for him. I saw him, thought he was play-bobbing up and down and then I realized that he was in danger. It’s true: people who are drowning are NOT yelling for help. Their arms go out, up to shoulder height and they spend all their energy trying to catch a breath. I had a glass glass in my hand and didn’t want to drop it (making another hazard) and by the time I found a place to set it down, I heard a splash. Husband had gone into the pool (clothes, watch, wallet and all) and got W out of the water. Let’s just say that W didn’t dive in again and it took a while before he got back into the water.

I know it sounds melodramatic, but…except for the quick response of their father, there would be a very good chance that both of my children would be dead. And that thought still makes me shudder. I don’t want those scary times. But you don’t always get what you want…

At 14, L broke her arm, rollerblading. When he was about 3, W fell and cut the skin on his forehead/hairline. Head wounds bleed a lot, but a simple butterfly bandage fixed him up, no problem. I don’t remember any other medical emergencies, so I guess we were blessed with reasonably good health and a bare minimum of dramatic sickness or injury.

W went to Kindergarten and I had two school years of having just one child at home all day.  Then it was her turn and L went off to get some edumacation, too. For the first time in 7 years, I had days of being “single” again. Odd feeling and I got a lot of reading done. And handicrafts. And I could grocery shop without threatening my offspring for getting away from me. Or having to explain 469,756 times why I was not buying (X). I missed them.

Christmas time was always fun. I decorated our house and as the lights went up on the other houses, we’d ride around at night time and “ohh” and “ahh” over them. When they were little, we had some serious discussions about what they would like Santa to bring. The ToyRUs catalog would arrive and they both did the “I want this…and this…and this…and this”–you get the idea. So I would ask them the Big Question: “If Santa could only bring you ONE present, what would you really, really want to have?” They generally got whatever that one thing was–and Santa did bring some other things, too. But Christmas morning, Santa’s presents were always wrapped in Santa paper. The other gifts were from Mom and Dad. (And then we’d go over to the husband’s parents house for Christmas with the whole family. And when I say whole, I mean siblings and their spouses and children as they came along…and considering the number of siblings was 7…lots of family!)

We’d let them stay up long enough to see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. There were a number of years where they didn’t manage it and had to be carried to bed. The Easter Rabbit hid eggs and treats all over the house. (I didn’t want to encourage animals coming along and eating them.) One year, he left plastic eggs with hints left in them–and when they got to the end of the treasure hunt, there was one special gift for each of them. (Actually two hunts, if I’m remembering right–one for L and one for W.) Halloween was also celebrated and one year I made their costumes–Robin Hood for W and Maid Marian for L. They were adorable. But the amount of work was too much to try and repeat it–and they were happy with the Power Rangers costumes from the Halloween section of Party City.

We had one Halloween tradition that saved them from sugar comas. Keep in mind that we lived on a street that had other children, and they were allowed to go around the block and across the streeet, around the block. So that’s about 40-ish houses. Once they had gotten their loot, they brought it home and we dumped it out to make sure there were no razor blades. Then I would have them pick out the ones that they only had singletons of, as well as the candies that were their particular favorites. These candies (probably 25% of their take) went back into their bags and no one else ate them. The remaining pounds of candy (not kidding!) would go into my 26 cup Tupperware bowl…and fill it to brimming. Anyone could eat out of that. While their bag had candies, our tradition was that they could eat all the candy they wanted for 20 minutes. Then they had to go brush their teeth…not quite 20 minutes, but certainly enough to get the sugar coating off! Sometimes that might mean just 1 candy–something larger, or a lollipop that was to be sucked on.

And I had candies to nibble on for the next month. (They nibbled, too…but you know what I mean!)

They played tee ball; W went on to play on a team but L decided that baseball was not her thing. They learned to ride bikes, rollerblade, swim (not just walk into the water and get wet–or dive in). They went fishing at the family cottage near Dundee in the Finger Lakes. When we visited my family in Baltimore, they went to the National Aquarium and the Science Center in the Inner Harbor. (L tried to jump into the beluga whale tank. She is and was always a Water Baby, like her mother and her great-grandmother.)
(Ed. note: Here is the story, “Water Baby” , which is where I got that term)

We only had one computer, back in the “old days”. Which saved me from having to buy TWO computers and never seeing the kids because they’d be up in their rooms, surfing the Net. Nope, we had one, and it sat in the corner of the kitchen. I could keep an eye on them and they could go pretty much wherever they wanted–and there were sites that wanted a parent’s “signature” to ensure that the child was allowed there. The three of us learned about Internet research–and Google, when it came along. I answered all of their questions, but when I didn’t know the answer, the 3 of us would go on the computer and find it. They weren’t the only one who was learning new things!

We started getting the Nintendo gaming consoles, starting with the SuperNES and Mario. All 3 of us played–my time was mostly at night, once the kids were in bed. And if it was a rainy day, I’d let them play most of the day…but on nice (not raining, maybe even some sunshine) days, I’d let them play for a couple of hours. Then I’d say, “It’s time to quit and save!” — and I always got the cry of “Mooooom, it’s SAVE and quit!!” And back in those days, I could rent the games for a week–and sometimes, if the game was involved enough…I’d spend most of my free time playing.

When they were tweens, their father and I split up. (It took 3 YEARS to get the final decree, but that’s another story.) I moved out and took them with me, getting an apartment about 20 miles away from our old home. I was working nights, so I’d get home after they had left for school. I’d sleep until they came home. Then we’d spend a couple of hours together, have dinner–and I’d go back to bed for a 2 hour nap. I discovered that I couldn’t sleep for 8 hours, be up with them and then try to work an 8 hour shift. I needed the psychological effect of getting up and going to work. (Even if it was just a nap.)

They were good kids, taking care of each other and not having *too* many fights. Then I was invited to share my friend’s house and get a (better) job in VA. That was well out of the range that I could take the kids. It was a tough, tough, tough decision. But I finally figured that if I could get myself in a better place, I would be a better mom for them. So I left them, living back in the house with their father. It was only 8 months before he allowed them to move back with me. Rather, I should say, that he asked the children if they’d like to live with me and he barely got the question out of his mouth before they were both saying “YES!”.

So South they came. We lived with my friend, her 2 kids, her boyfriend and his 2 kids and then me and my 2 kids. We counted 11 people for Christmas (boyfriend’s ex-wife and mother of his kids and a friend from work with no family in the area). We couldn’t afford to buy presents for everyone…or so we thought. My friend came up with a brilliant idea and I pass it on to those of you who find it helpful. We loaded up everyone and went to the local Dollar Store. We bought 11 big gift bags and everyone split up to go into different aisles. The idea was that each person would buy one thing for each of the others–and so in the end, we each had 11 presents to open.

Eventually the three of us moved out of the commune (haha) and got our own apartment. I got a new job (I had been working at a place called Dominion, making flash memory) at the local assisted living center. I started courses on Network Security and Administration. One of my fellow students suggested trying for a job at the place he was working. I did, and thus began my tenure as a Customer Service Rep, making reservations for teleconferences. I left for about 18 months to work at the help desk of a company that was contracted to provide computer support for Congress. There was no place to move up, and so I returned to being a CSR at the same company. I had not burned any bridges when I left.

The kids continued growing up and it seemed like it had only been a few days before that they were being born and being toddlers… They both participated in the Junior ROTC program at school; they were both actors in several of the school’s plays. W actually got the high school version of an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Modred, King Arthur’s nephew (and son) in the musical, “Camelot”. L got her starring chance in her senior year with “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

In the twinkling of the eye, in the space of time for one breath…they went from helpless, wide-eyed newborns to being teenagers and on the verge of going out into the big wide world on their own. I loved every stage. I was and still am grateful for the discoveries we made together. I was the best Mom I knew how to be and I must have succeeded because my two wee ones are all grown up now, with wee ones of their own. And I look into the face of my daughter’s older daughter … and see my daughter there. I can do the same with my son’s son. Both of those grandchildren have a younger sister. I am blessed with a foursome of proof that I did a good enough job that my kids were willing to try that role for themselves.

And yet I still miss my own little ones. Even the throw-up and backtalk and bickering between them. I’d like to go back in time and visit them again–and I’ve found a way to do that. I simply close my eyes and let the images scroll through my mind. My son. My daughter. And the 20 years that flew past like an express train. They were both very good children. They are both very good parents. I can only wish them the same joy with their children as I had with them.

Advertisements

The Only Constancy is Change

Let’s see if I can do this more or less chronologically.

Went to see the headshrinker AND my PCP in Fredericksburg on September 11.  (Note: while I was not old enough to actually BE a hippie, I am a product of the drug era.  When I hear PCP, I immediately think about the stuff they used to lace pot with…not Primary Care Physician.)  The psychiatrist was a nice but nervous man.  We discussed my issues and he prescribed the full dose of Efexor I’d be on and refilled the clonazepam.  Still think I should (eventually) get that changed because I STILL don’t think it does that much.

My PCP walked in and it was like…a completely different doctor.  I suspect a bit of an ass reaming about the massive med changes he had made.  He was pleasant, he smiled, he LISTENED to us (this time) and expressed his anger at having his direct order to have me admitted to Richmond for psych eval “over-ridden” by “someone”.  He got to see the psych notes (apparently I was not allowed?  Or maybe they just weren’t entered before I was kicked out) and didn’t understand why I had been discharged literally within hours of getting there.  (Rather than the normal 24-48 hour evaluation period.)  That was an interesting piece of news and he also indicated that the drugs I was given in Richmond were actually prescribed by the staff psychiatrist.  So I really have NO idea who the guy in the blue scrubs that grilled me about being in their ER was.  No name, no way of filing a formal complaint.  Oh well.

So anyways, we talked with the doctor and guess what?  He ended up doing what we had asked for, 2 1/2 months prior: gave me my Vicodin, acknowledged Beloved’s wisdom in cutting my neurontin dose ummm in half of what he had prescribed.  (Beloved had told the nurse what drugs I had stopped taking, what dosages I was taking — and was told that the doctor was unhappy that he had not “consulted” with them before making those changes.  He is very smug to have been right…as he should be.)  We talked about the move, he said I can call in my next appointment in October and all was happy happy joy joy.

Well, except for this: I had gotten my fasting blood sugar test (finally) done.  The nurse called us about 2 days later to say that I had an A1C of 6.4.  Now when Beloved told me that, my first thought was “A1C?  Airman First Class?  WTF?”  But that’s the technical term for that particular blood test.  Over a 7 scored and you’re diabetic.  Anything below 6 is normal.  Between 6 and 7, you’re “pre-diabetic”.  So I am officially pre-diabetic.  No finger sticks, no insulin yet.  Just watch the diet, try to exercise.  Stuff we’re going to do anyways.  And probably a fasting blood sugar test done at least once a year, maybe twice to keep tabs on it.  Not really surprising, as geriatric onset diabetes (Type 2) runs in the family, from both sides.  And I could linger at that 6.4 for as long as the rest of my life, if I really do manage it with diet.  My grandfather, while actually diabetic, did manage his with diet.  His son, my father, has to do the multiple finger sticks and takes insulin, but is also on VA healthcare because of his exposure to Agent Orange.  So his may be worse because of that; no way to ever know.

We’re not getting a lot done in the way of actually packing or getting rid of stuff for our move.  We’ve got the suitcases and carry on luggage now–Pelican cases for anyone who knows what they are.  Look it up, for those who don’t.  Beloved’s parents are taking a lot of our furniture (they are also moving, this upcoming weekend) because they will be in a smaller place and our furniture was bought specifically to fit within a smaller apartment.  Once that is out of the house, it will be easier to go through our stuff.  Or at least that’s what we keep telling each other.  I am feeling very overwhelmed but I always do, and I HATE to move…and I do some of my best work at the last minute.

My in-laws bought me some clothes.  My mother-in-law knows that the way you dress affects the way you feel and I have not been dressing like I feel very good.  It’s a sign of illness when an animal stops grooming itself, and frankly, humans are no different.  So I found clothing that I chose specifically with an eye towards the weather in Eureka (able to be layered, sweat pants, that sort of thing) from a place called “The Woman Within”.  They have a website and they also do catalog sales.  Except for the two sweat pants / matching tops sets, everything is 100% cotton.  (Sweats are 60-40 cotton-polyester.)  I had to watch the sizes carefully as I have lost 2 inches of height somewhere along the way (degenerative arthritis in the spine will do that, you know) and now I have to shop in the “Petite” section.  Sigh.  I got 2 turtlenecks, 2 sleeveless t-shirts (shells), a v-neck, short sleeved t-shirt, 2 skirts and the aforementioned 2 sweats sets–and I don’t know how much the shipping and handling added, but the merchandise added up to just at $125.  Not bad.  If you’re looking for clothing that real women wear (not designer, let me tell you), then I’d recommend them.  Usual prices aren’t bad, and a lot of what I got was on sale for less than some of the thrift store clothing I’ve bought.

We’ve spent big portions of September either recuperating from the various hospital trips, or going to see someone’s doctor and having to recuperate from that.  We spent a great deal of today making phone calls and getting things done.  And in the course of that, we’ve had more good news in a single go than I think we’ve had in quite a while.  While I’m happy about that, remember: distress or eustress, it’s all still stress.  So it was overwhelming for both of us.

I spoke to the company that manages my LTD (Long Term Disability) benefits with some questions I have had…turns out that fibromyalgia is NOT limited by the policy that my former employer had with this company at the time of my disability.  Which means that there is no limit of just 2 years for pay out.  In fact, they can end up paying me for another 15 years, or until I turn 67 and would “retire” anyways.  WOW.  Income, steady income for the next 15 years.  As long as my primary diagnosis remains fibro (and it will, it’s not going away) and my doctor keeps me on medical treatment for it.  And that will also remain permanent, since the pain won’t go away without narcotics.  And the insurance company’s “Any Occupation” review board (as opposed the medical board that reviews the doctor’s notes) will determine whether I can work in any occupation (hence the name) besides the one I was in when I became disabled.  And since I am on narcotics (and barely drive any more), who is going to hire me?  No one, that’s who.  I will just have to be careful to have the doctor document fibro stuff every time I go see him and the fact that I am *still* not able to hold down any meaningful job due to the limitations of fibro and the meds I am on for it.

I spoke to the airline and found out how to get handicapped assistance from curb to gate (both ways) when we fly out.  Easier than I thought, and the agent I spoke to was pleasant and helpful.  Checked the airline’s website and determined that medical equipment (read: canes and CPAP machines) do NOT count as carry on luggage and will be allowed on board in addition to our bags and carry ons.  YAY!

I got an answer from the minister at the Humboldt UU fellowship, replying to the email I sent yesterday.  I explained what was going on, who we were, and so on…  Always good to have people waiting to greet you in a new place if you can and we are really looking forward to attending services there.

Beloved made his own phone calls as well.  Found out that the utility deposits in CA are not going to be completely onerous (well, except for AT&T landline/DSL which requires their money upfront) and will be on the first bill.  Found out that CA is VERY generous in Social Services (which I think we will qualify for, and with the letter from VA, may not require the year’s wait for those services to kick in).  They have SSI AND something called “SSP” which, if we are eligible, could add quite a lot to our income.  If we get both of those, we may not then qualify for CA Fresh (their version of SNAP), but hey, we’d have enough extra money to afford our food.  Also, they figure eligibility differently than VA, removing rent and utilities from the income amount–which may also then put Beloved back into being eligible for Medicaid.  THAT would be a great blessing, since we’re both a bit concerned about his lack of insurance at this time, with no coverage until Medicare kicks in NEXT August.

He also made a call to our cell phone carrier and FINALLY got the 3-4 year old SNAFU figured out and straightened out.  Got us $80 credit for a line that we had tried to turn off like a year ago–but had somehow become the “primary” line and couldn’t be shut off…so we’ve been paying like $40 a month more for that line all this time.  Not as much as one could hope for, but way better than NO refund.  And part of clearing it up and getting things correct included changing his phone number–so the lucky duck already has his Eureka telephone number!  I’m mildly jealous, but not enough to merit changing MY phone number with the bazillions of people who have it and with whom I MUST stay in touch, for emotional or financial reasons.  Bad enough I’m going to have to do it eventually, and sooner rather than later.

And I actually cooked dinner for us.  It’s kind of sad that I have to admit said accomplishment is a major one for me.  I have not yet made it into the kitchen and whipped it back into shape…it’s winning the war of wills at this point.  I do have a deadline of sorts: my in-laws are also taking some of our kitchen appliances, and that means I have to wash and ready them for departure when the furniture goes.  Which means, I hope, that I will be forced to organize the modern art display of carefully stacked dishes into a real STACK of dishes, not an artistic arrangement that could be sent crashing down with just one nudge on the wrong piece.  Which, if all goes well, will then lend itself to at least being rinsed in the dishwasher (that for some reason, even though it is brand new, still does NOT actually wash the dishes clean).

We’re going to a friend’s house for their “we got married in CA and you couldn’t be there” party on Saturday.  And Sunday, if he got permission (from the Navy), my son and his family–or just the family if he didn’t–will come over for a little bit so that I can see them before we go West.  They will also be taking some things back home with them.  Jay, tell them what prizes they have won.  Well, Bob, they’ll be taking home this box of Legos!  (Most of them were mine, some of them were my son’s and he’d be glad to have them back.)  I am also going to let my daughter-in-law pick and choose through the kitchen stuff I won’t be taking…things like the really huge Tupperware bowl, crystal bowls from Germany, etc.

My daughter will be coming down one Tuesday (her normal day off) to see us before we leave.  No granddaughters, but really, we’re not set up for it and this way, we’ll all be able to talk without chasing the toddler or dealing with a crying baby.  She promises me lots of pictures and I keep poking her about getting Skype.  So that’s one area of stress that has been relieved and I’m very glad that it has.

I’m also getting polite and chatty emails from my mother–and as long as they stay that way, without politics or religion…we’ll keep talking.  Another source of stress, dismissed.

Now if the house would just empty itself and my suitcase pack things up without my actually having to do anything.  I am clenching my teeth a lot, mostly from the stress–which ends up giving me headaches.  Not helpful.  By my latest assessment, I need to: empty out my jewelry armoire, sorting out what I want to keep from what I will give away; sort my clothes into going and going to the thrift store.  AND I need to go through every box that holds my shite and sort it out: trash, give away, sell, take.  Oh gods, if I keep listing things I shall go mad.  One thing at a time, one step at a time.  It’s really all I can do.

Oh, and we bought the tickets.  So come hell or high water, clean apartment or not, with or without all that shite being done…we are leaving on November 1.  Flying first class (wowee!!) to Sacramento.  ANOTHER source of stress…gone.  And that was a major one, so I am very glad to actually have them in hand, so to speak.  And we’ve got the handicap assistance set up, so I won’t have to call the nice lady back.  That works for me.

Looks like the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT an oncoming train, but really the other end of the tunnel.  Dear gods, I hope so.  The ride has been a lot more than I bargained for, and way more than I ever wanted.  Or as the meme I saw today said, “I don’t just ride the crazy train, I motherfucking drive it!”.

Our life has been on hold, for health reasons, for money reasons, for time reasons.  And frankly, it’s still on hold until November 1, when I step off the plane in CA.  Or maybe Nov 2, when we actually get into Eureka and can put our toes into the Pacific Ocean.  I am looking forward to that life very much and I will do whatever it takes to get there.  Now if I could just figure out some way to take all our friends and family with us, it would be perfect…but that’s just my “how life is supposed to be” talking, and that is apparently what I’m supposed to be letting go of now.  (Having learned about letting go of things, and of words…)

I am cautiously optimistic, preferring to keep some little piece of hesitancy just in case (because “just in case” has happened way too many times in the past few years to be ignored).  But I will acknowledge that things in general seem to be…going in a direction that leads directly West.  Which is where we want to be.

Namaste!

Houses Die Too (A Poem Inspired by a Discussion on Facebook)

Houses die too,
They have a lifetime of their own.
They are born of sweat and dirt,
Stone and metal and wood.
They are built with arms of sinew and muscle
Or arms of cables and steel.
The first caves were just as much home as any modern building
A welcome and gladdening sight at the end of the day’s work.
A simple one room cottage, a Cape Cod farmhouse,
Colonial or Frank Lloyd Wright, even a McMansion.
Single family, duplex, or apartment building
Someone calls them home.
“In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree”
Is the unspoken hope for each house we live in.
Even their facades mimic ours,
Their windows are the eyes to their soul.
Silent observers of the cycles of human life,
They become alive through the energy
Of those that dwell within them.
There is no part of our life story that a house has not seen:
Births, deaths, marriage and divorce, college, new job, outsourced;
Love and hate and sorrow and joy.
Child becoming parent, having a child of its own
Parent growing old and becoming a grandparent
Teaching the new children about life…and death.
And then, somewhere, another new being starts its journey.
A house that is not lived in seems scary or sad or should just be avoided
Because it’s not the way a house is supposed to be.
A house should have someone who cares about it, cares for it
So it becomes a monument to the passage of our lives,
A reminder of our own history.
Even the history of our nation is marked by our houses–
The White House, Mount Vernon, Monticello
“The house where Mark Twain was born” or “The Wright Brothers Home”.

But houses die too…
They have a lifetime of their own,
A finite amount of “being here”.
They fall in upon themselves, they crumble brick by brick
Or they die at the hands of developers who seek to replace them
With some other kind of house.
Their story ends, their eye windows are shuttered and closed.
They pass out of sight and out of mind,
To be remembered only as a place where we lived once upon a time
Because houses die, too.

It’s Just Not Fair…

And I don’t mean the whole money situation, or the fibromyalgia.  I mean all the “other” problems I’ve had since I started going to the doctor.  Hey!  Wait a minute…I was never sick BEFORE I went to the doctor regularly…hmmmmm.

No seriously, I need to see the physician, but I’ve been having other ailments that aren’t part of fibro: shingles, an infection in my jaw, a twisted ankle and now I’m fighting the sinus infection from hell.  Not too be too gross about it, but the post nasal drip goes into my stomach and makes me nauseous.  And I’m back to taking 4-6 hour naps each day.  I realize that fibro makes me more susceptible to other things (and yes, even the twisted ankle because I wobble when I walk, which is why I use a cane.  My that was alliterative.) but it just doesn’t seem right, somehow, that I should have all these other things piled on top of the fibro.  It’s not “them” instead of the fibro,  oh no, it’s all added up together.  Sigh.  I’m so sicked and tired of being sick and tired.

Money continues to be … notably absent.  No word yet from the absence management company about my long term disability claim, whether it was accepted and if there will (please, whatever gods are listening) be a benefits check in the mailbox today.  The fact that if approved, the first check will include back pay does NOT reassure my creditors who want their money…er….NOW.  And yes, I thank all the gods that we have friends who keep us in food.  We will not starve.  At least not right away.  We’re pretty well stocked and not down to the truly creative meal planning that canned goods and rice require yet.  We still have fresh produce, we still have fresh milk–and there’s still meat in the freezer.  Good for food.

We are talking bankruptcy because there are back medical and other bills that if we use some of the money that will be coming to try to pay them off, we will never get out of this financial hole.  Beloved’s loan and credit card are on abeyance, as that insurance benefit has been approved.  (We pay for insurance on our cards/his loan in the event of … oh yeah, what has happened, happens and it will remove about $400 of “negative cash flow” from our budget, at least for a year.  Ditto my school loan, which has also been deferred.)

No word from the Social Security Administration, but I didn’t think we would hear this fast.  (I can hope, can’t I?)  If my long term disability is not approved, or isn’t approved soon…well, I don’t want to think about it.  I also need to talk with my landlord to find out if the apartment complex will accept  VA housing vouchers for rent.  I am eligible (a veteran, a FEMALE veteran, about to become homeless) so hopefully the VA will indeed give them to me–but no point in asking if I cannot use them for my housing.  If the landlord says yes, it means a trip up into DC as the VA in VA don’t have any more vouchers to give out, per “my source” who suggested going to DC.  Yay, another day where we drive somewhere (and then catch the metro because neither of us is going to actually DRIVE in DC) and spend the day in waiting rooms and talking to people about how pathetic we are.

We spent a couple of hours in the pool yesterday, last day of the season for it to be open.  Hopefully all the money shit will work out well because we feel that the cost of a membership to the local indoor pool is worth it for both of us.  (And hopefully that membership won’t be too expensive, or maybe we can get some sort of a break because we’re poor and on disability and I’m a vet and whatever else it takes to get the discount…)  I don’t know how much it’s helping me, but Beloved is actually regaining some muscle tone,  since he has to keep moving or drown.  If nothing else, it removes gravity from our bodies and bones for a while–although climbing the stairs to get back out is a bit of a struggle sometimes.

The kitchen remains my bete noir.  There’s too much that requires hand washing (due to the inefficiencies of the old dishwasher) and I just feel overwhelmed.  On the other hand, with our friend here this past weekend, we did a lot more cooking.  That’s a start in the right direction.  And we have been introduced to canary (or canari) melon–cut it up the same as you would a cantaloupe or honeydew–but then, drip lime juice on it.  I can’t explain what a difference that makes, but it does and it’s amazing!

Beloved has gone to run the errands we normally do together on Tuesdays because I am just not up to a day in the car today and then ANOTHER day in the car tomorrow, to go on our 2 hour (each way) expedition to his doctor.  I’m hoping he finds a nice check in the mail.  Rent is due (again.  Another month gone already?) and so he’ll do the money-shuffling, getting some from Dad, put it all in the right account so I can make out the check to give the landlord.

Nothing much else going on and I’m tiring of typing…so that’s it for now.

Namaste!

Religious Objections — Not Just for the Christians Anymore

(Polished and updated (and okay, added to) comments posted on “A is For” and “Your Nightly Need to Know”)

Concerning the Oklahoma rape victim and the denial of emergency contraception due to staff’s “religious objections” — this isn’t just about contraception, folks.

Fifteen years ago, I worked as a nurse’s aide for the geriatric population. On duty one night, a resident kept calling me to complain about various symptoms. I knew that she had not been getting all of her pills because one of the day nurses had told us that she didn’t believe in giving narcotics “for religious reasons”.  I went to the night nurse I was working with and using the desk reference book, pointed out that all of the resident’s symptoms were those of morphine withdrawal, consistent with not getting that pill.

The nurse checked the chart and asked me why it had been allowed to run out and not given as prescribed. I explained the reason and once she got over her shock and anger, she called to get an emergency fill of the prescription.  The minute it arrived, she gave it to the resident–who had been on that medication for over 10 years. You don’t just let someone on narcotics quit cold turkey–and a nurse has no business overriding a doctor’s orders, not even for “religious objections”. If your religion won’t let you do your job, find a new one. (Job, not religion)

The point I’m making here is if contraception can be withheld for religious reasons, what happens if you need a narcotic and your nurse doesn’t think you should have it because it’s against her religion? Or you need a blood transfusion and the doctor doesn’t believe in it?  Where does the line end?  As my husband is fond of saying, take this to its illogical logical end.  We can go back to having babies “the old fashioned way”–no medications, no interventions, only you and the midwife and if you (and the baby) end up dying, oh well, it was God’s plan.  No organ transplants, no internal prostheses (knees, hips, shoulders, etc), no plastic surgery of any kind because that’s just vanity.  The list goes on.

Men, this absolutely involves you as well.  If religion is going to dictate our contraceptive choices, removal of testes for cancer won’t be allowed because that’s (by definition) a form of contraception. Vasectomies? A thing of the past in our glorious New World Order.  Never mind the instances mentioned above which can apply to the males of the nation as well.

Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, the saying goes. I absolutely protect your right to practice any religion you choose–but NOT if it infringes on my right to practice my religion, make medical choices, affects my job and so on. There is an inherent arrogance in the idea that “religious objections” give you the right to choose for me, that your faith somehow imbues you with the knowledge of what is right for me–whether I want it or not.

Let’s expand the concept of “religious objections”.  What if my religion forbids eating beef?  (Hindu)  And suppose I buy a McDonald’s franchise–but only serve chicken products?  And McDonald’s Corporate tries to revoke my franchise license–so I sue.  And to be just, I would win, because it is my religion and my religious objections that let me decide for others.  Let’s say my religion doesn’t allow me to eat pork.  (Jews) I own a food distributorship (like “Schwans”) but refuse to deliver any pig products.  Again, the corporate head office will eventually get involved but also once again, I would sue and win.  What if my religion requires women to cover their heads when outside of the home?  (Muslim)  I own a store in downtown Hometown but refuse admittance to any female who has not modestly covered her hair.  When the local government tries to make me allow anyone in my store, I point to my religious objections and continue to turn away those foul harlots.

I make these examples which might seem unlikely to point out this concern: If the Christian Right wants to hide behind their “religious objections” and use their faith as a reason to override the laws of this land, they need to be aware–and beware–that this will open the door to ALL religions and their own individual “religious objections”.  Our Founding Fathers were very vocal about the separation of church and state and for very good reason.  If there is not that distinct and clear division, whose religion gets to be the religion of the nation?  I hate to be the bearer of an unpleasant fact, but America is NOT a Christian nation.  There are many, many other religions represented in our land, brought from other countries as the people immigrated to a new life here.

The original settlers left “the old country” because of their wish to practice their own religion without interference from the government or the accepted national religion of that country.  We seem to have forgotten that, especially those who are the fundamental Christian Right.  The complaint that there is now some sort of “war” on this extremist group of rabid believers is a childish whining that they aren’t getting their own way.  Anyone who refuses to go along with them must of course be trying to eradicate them–which is pure horse feathers.  Oddly enough, we are still trying to protect their religious rights while preventing them from turning our democracy into a theocracy of their own choosing.

As far as I am concerned, this is not just about “religious objections” but the far more insidious concept that someone with “religious objections” is in a  superior position over anyone else and that this (apparently) gives them the right to deny basic human rights to those who do not agree with them. It’s a condescending attitude, the sheer arrogance of knowing that they are “right”, which then allows them to make decisions for others who are not as “religious” as they are.  There is this idea that having “religious objections” somehow exempts you from the laws of this land, places you above secular authority whenever you want to wave that religious banner.  Even Jesus instructed his followers to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and he himself bowed to the secular government, allowing and accepting both trial and execution by civil law.

This ongoing string of “religious objections” to contraception and female reproductive choices, this war on women is an opening ploy into a Christian theocracy, where other religions could be forbidden and church attendance made mandatory–but only to the church of their choice.  George Orwell’s Big Brother would have nothing on a theocracy’s involvement in each citizen’s life–and making decisions for each of those citizens based on “religious objections”.  This is about the loss of equality, the complete disregard of our basic human rights and the total destruction of freedom for ALL to live their lives based on personal moral choices without exception.

I have “religious objections” to that kind of America.  It’s not the country Thomas Jefferson wrote about in our Constitution, it’s not the country Ben Franklin envisioned when the split from England was being debated in the Continental Congress.  This is not what the suffragettes fought for, what the civil rights movement was all about, what the Fair Pay Act is trying to achieve.  That kind of America is not the land that I love–and served in the military to protect.  And I will still uphold that enlistment oath–“to protect the Constitution…against all enemies, abroad and at home”.  I consider the GOP, especially their extreme Tea Bag Party, to be enemies of the state with their “religious objections” and their war on everything that this country is about.

It’s time to acknowledge that there is a war, to arm yourself with information, be aware of what is going on in our nation and most importantly, register to vote (if you haven’t) and in November, go to the polls and VOTE to protect America from those who would destroy her.

Namaste!

From “A is For” and their “Your Nightly Need to Know”

The top story line was this:
An Oklahoma rape victim was refused emergency contraception by hospital staff due to “religious objections”. (News 9)

This is the comment I posted:

Concerning the OK rape victim and “religious objections” — this isn’t just about contraception, folks. 15 years ago, I worked as a nurse’s aide for the geriatric population. On duty one night, a resident kept calling me to complain about various symptoms. I knew that she had not been getting one of her medications because one of the day nurses had religious objections to giving narcotics. I went to the night nurse I was working with, and using the desk reference book, pointed out that all of the resident’s symptoms were those of morphine withdrawal, consistent with the removal of her meds. The nurse checked the chart and asked me why that pill had not been ordered when it ran out or given as prescribed. Once I explained the reason, she called and got an emergency prescription of the med and gave it to the resident–who had been on that medication for over 10 years. You don’t just cold turkey someone on that kind of medication–and a nurse has no business overriding a doctor’s orders, not even for “religious objections”. If your religion won’t let you do your job, find a new one. (Job, not religion)

The point I’m making here is if contraception can be withheld for religious reasons, what happens if you need a narcotic and your nurse doesn’t think you should have it because it’s against her religion? Or you need a blood transfusion and the doctor doesn’t believe in it? Men, this involves you as well. If religion is going to dictate our medical choices, removal of testes for cancer won’t be allowed because that’s (by definition) a form of contraception. Vasectomies? A thing of the past in our glorious New World Order.
Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, the saying goes. I absolutely protect your right to practice any religion you choose–but NOT if it infringes on my right to practice my religion, make medical choices, affects my job and so on. There is an inherent arrogance in the idea that “religious objections” give you the right to choose for me, that your faith somehow imbues you with the knowledge of what is right for me–whether I want it or not. As far as I am concerned, this is not just about “religious objections” but the far more insidious concept that anyone with a religious objection is somehow more superior than anyone else which gives them the right to deny those who do not agree with them to the basic human rights. It’s about equality, the completely equal rights and the total freedom for ALL to live their lives based on personal moral choices without exception.
I have “religious objections” to anything else.

Upsetting the World View

I wanted my Facebook profile to show my employment as this: “Works at Upsetting the World View”…but FB wouldn’t let me do it because that was not a “real” company or business.

So…I started creating the FB page for this “business” just to have it as a list-able place.  The questions that were asked required answers, so I did.  And in the process, ended up starting my own business.  Sort of.  I now have an official site for what I’ve been doing all along: ministering to those who need an ear to listen and someone to ask the questions that will help them find their answers.  Or need healing from a non-Western medical viewpoint.  My REAL job on this planet is to minister, to heal, to teach.  And suddenly, without prior thought or planning, I have essentially put out my shingle.  I don’t have a tax number, I haven’t gotten a “doing business as” paperwork from the commonwealth, I in fact have not consulted a single “legal” place or municipality about doing this.  Might be a problem somewhere down the road, but in the meantime…I will just do what I’ve been doing anyways, and maybe, just maybe find a little income from it.

Income.  That’s an interesting concept about this whole thing.  I don’t feel right taking money for using my gifts, things I do without conscious thought or effort.  Doesn’t require special equipment (usually) and I’m not paying off school loans for some degree…since I don’t have diplomas for this either.  I realize that from a certain point of view, this could be viewed as trying to sell snake oil off a traveling wagon…but I’m not offering miracle cures.  Actually I’m not even offering any cures, just whatever help I can give–which is more about the state of mind and beliefs of the person seeking the help than anything I am or do.  But if someone wants to repay me, well…I take $ but I’ll also take barter and “in trade”.

My take on how this happened?  I think all I’ve done is made myself available to a wider spectrum of people who might benefit from contact with me.  No promises there, just a willingness to help where I can.  Some of what I do can actually be done “long distance”, over the internet and through messaging or emails.  I am more than able to be a silent and listening person who will act as a sounding board for others to hear themselves out loud, so to speak, and perhaps offer a different point of view that helps them find their answers.

I was a little surprised at how fast this all went together, how easy it was to get the page created and the continued ease with which I have updated the site and the things I’m finding that are appropriate to share.  I have found that when things go this easily in my life, it’s where I was supposed to be and doing what I was supposed to do.  I do not decline to accept this challenge and hope that the page will grow as it needs to, that it will be as useful a ministry as I could hope for.  This may be the thing that I was destined for when I first stepped back from other ministerial duties for my sabbatical.  Which lasted way longer than I planned, but I am waking up and starting to be in a physical shape that will allow this while also finding myself in a spiritual place that almost longs for this.  I have missed my ministering.

It has continued, to a certain extent, even while I’ve been dealing with my physical health.  I still have the wandering souls show up at my doorstep…so perhaps this is just an escalation of effort, not something entirely new.  Which brings me back to the new Facebook page…I have, in full glorious meaning of the phrase, “hung my shingle out” to a global community.  Exciting times ahead.  And it’s something that I am actively looking forward to.

Let me upset your world view, because as Doug Adams wrote, “….was amazed at how different things looked from a perspective just three feet to the left”.

Namaste!

Namaste!

Welcome to Knotty Kitteh Saves the World!

I have started this blog as a venue to share my thoughts, past and present (and hopefully future ones as well)…I will add pages that contain my prior writings, which are a variety of essays on a spectrum of topics.  No need to repeat them here, because you will be able to just go look at them.  I may refer to them as I create new blog entries so it just makes sense to have them easily accessible.

I hope you find my writing readable and thought-provoking.  Please share with your friends and family if you find that they start ideas of your own.  Be polite when you comment, be respectful of other’s input as well.

Let us walk together on this journey we call life, to discover what it holds for us and to grow into the person we are to be.

Namaste!