Gone Too Long, but have Too Much Heaven to blame!!!

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Here is my third book in my series about DeLaine Reynolds.  This volume continues to follow her as she completes her year of school for the 1979-1980 year!  See what changes and twists are in store for our girl, DeLaine!  Will she continue to avoid Kevin or will she finally give in and follow her heart?  Will Geoffrey ever allow her to be in love with his best friend, though?  Read “Too Much Heaven” to find out!

Volume 4 will hopefully be released by the end of 2016!  Stay tuned!

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Christmas

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The last 12 Christmases I’ve dreaded and sometimes even downright hated the holiday.  It was 12 years ago that we found out my mother had cancer.  It was a fast and aggressive cancer.  We found out on December 9th she had a mass.  December 16th I heard from the doctor’s mouth that she had 4 months at best to live.  Until that day I’d been in a panicked state of denial.  Researching cancer treatments and hospitals I was working tirelessly to put myself into that denial.  December 16th, the doctor pushed that denial away and it was never to return.

By Christmas my mother was a shell of herself.  She was weak, frail and seemed to have aged LITERALLY overnight…I watched as she disappeared in only a matter of a couple of weeks.  By New Year’s eve my mother was in the hospital and was about to have a liter of bloody fluid removed from around her heart.  It was to help her breathe and possibly a chance to have chemo and a chance at a few more months.  She wanted to go for it.  If I’d known that would be the last time I’d hear her or talk to her or with her I wonder if I’d been willing to encourage her to do so.

New Year’s Day 2003 my mother was literally turning blue because she was suffering from lack of oxygen to her brain and was beginning to become delusional.  She thought we were trying to kill her and she refused to leave the oxygen mask on.  She refused surgery at the first round down to the surgical floor and when my other dad arrived she finally consented but not until he got there.  Perhaps she knew somewhere in the animal instinctual place that it would be the last time she ever saw him on this side.  I don’t know.  The last words my mother spoke to me were, “You’re in on it.  You want to kill me too.”  Talk about making a girl cry when she remembers those last words.  I try not to remember those particular words but the ones that she said like, “No matter what, I’ll always be right there in your heart” as she patted my chest.

After her surgery she was put on a ventilator (her greatest fear) and was never awake again.  It was to be a temporary measure while she healed from her surgery.  The temporary measure became a month-long measure until we disconnected it and she still continued to fight for 2 more days.  She endured 2 rounds of chemo while on the ventilator and many more indignities that I’d hoped she would never have to endure and ultimately it felt like it was all for naught.  My mama died on February 2, 2003 with my other dad and me by her side.  It was one of the most surreal days of my life.

Christmas was my mom’s holiday.  Coming from a home with divorced parents, I grew up dividing my holidays from around the age of 10.  My daddy got Thanksgiving and my mama always got Christmas.  I know she was perfectly fine with that because she absolutely loved the holiday.  She loved the sparkle and lights.  She loved all the gaudy decorations and color.  It fit because my mama was a poor man’s Dolly Parton!  She loved to dress flashy, trashy and everything in between.  She was a colorful character and I loved that facet of her.

The following year after my mom died, the Christmas of 2003 was probably the worst one.  My son and I both cried as we decorated my parents house for the holidays.  We had begun living with my other dad and so we were using everything that was my mom’s to decorate with.

We’d left our home on December 19, 2002 for a weekend stay and it turned into forever.  When we left, our home was decorated with Christmas decorations and they stayed up for literally over a year.  Our little house became a ghost house with us only going to retrieve personal items as we needed them.  I looked at our Christmas tree (yes it was artificial) with contempt every time I walked into the door.  It was a wicked reminder of what I’d lost and when.  I could never make myself take it down though.  It was as if some childish wish was wrapped up in that tree that this whole devastating loss was somehow a really hellish nightmare.

The following year, 2004, we had a Christmas miracle in that it snowed here in South Texas for the first time in a jillion years!  It was fun to be outside in the snow even though I’d gotten sick that year and was still in the early stages of making the rounds to specialists all over the lower part of Texas to figure out what was wrong.  My son and I took a bunch of pictures and stayed up all night December 24th into the morning of Christmas.  We romped around with our dogs and got some really amazing photos.  That was the closest I came to being happy on a Christmas for 12 years.

Two more Christmases and my other dad made a decision that was very final and caused much hurt to the entire family.  He chose to end his own poor health suffering and took his life 3 days before Christmas.  It was already a shitty holiday by then for me…his act sealed poor Christmas’s fate as far as I was concerned.  It was a doomed holiday forever.  I would go through the motions for my son, but I was pretty much done with it.

A couple more Christmases went by and my son was involved with a girl his senior year who had a child.  I felt hope that maybe this would make the holiday a bit brighter if I had a toddler to buy for.  While it helped me overcome some of my dread for the month of December, the following year just sealed it again as a sucky time of the year when the same girl began to control more and more of my son’s time and I was basically left alone on Christmas.  Thankfully that relationship ended shortly after the holidays the following New Year.

I floated along with the holiday I despised and went through all my motions once more.  Then 4 years ago I was suddenly faced with becoming a grandmother for the first time (different girl) and I was hopeful Christmas might be better.

I still found myself not wanting to really be a holiday spirit kind of person and often regarded myself as the Grinch or Scrooge.  I hated when I heard Christmas carols in the stores and I refused to even listen to them at home.  Because of emotional drama with my son, his son, and the mother of my grandson, it seemed the holidays were still doomed even with a precious grandbaby.  After that first rocky Christmas with my grandson the following year I was excited about the holidays only because my son would be graduating from basic training in Ft. Jackson and would be home for Christmas before going off for another 7 months to Oklahoma and AIT.

The following year my son, grandson and now daughter-in-law came down for a wedding and we celebrated Christmas 10 days early.  It was okay because I’m learning to share holidays all over again because my son has in-laws now.  I still didn’t really care about the holiday at all because it was just a sad reminder of everything I’d lost during the month of December.

Now it is 12 years since my mama got sick and I’ve already written a Christmas letter and mailed it on December 1st to all my NON-Facebook using friends.  I have made 3 batches of fudge and several batches of cookies.  I first began to do all of this for my son’s benefit because he won’t be here this year because he is deployed in the middle east.  When he first left, I thought about how long a year was going to be while he was gone.  So much can change in a life in a year.  After all, this last year brought my first published book in April and the second one in October.  Of course I also thought that naturally I would be even more bitter about Christmas because he was on the other side of the planet while we were left here with a big hole in our lives with him gone.

Of course there was also the fact that my grand-daughter was due to be born in December also.  All I could think of was how my son would miss out on it and that this was one more reason to detest the month of December.

So when I found myself happily humming Christmas songs as I began making my first awful batch of fudge and cookies I was a little taken aback.  I was trying to be happy about my grand-daughter being born in December but I kept wanting to be sad about it too.

Her first date to be delivered by a c-section was December 22nd.  The one day of the entire month I did NOT want her born.  It was the same day my other dad completed his life on Earth.  It was a horror filled anniversary that I hated with a purple passion for almost 8 years now.  When I basically pleaded with my daughter-in-law into getting the doctor to change the date it was changed to the 23rd.  I still wasn’t thrilled about it being on that day but I wasn’t the doctor or the pregnant woman.  When it was moved to the 19th, I felt a bit better.  Perhaps that is what put me into the Christmas mood…perhaps it is the realization that there is about to be another member to my family.  I only had one child biologically so our family is not very large…immediate or extended.  The thought of having another little person to love fills my heart with joy and the fact that it is finally a little girl after 24 years of nothing but boys, boys and more boys makes it even better.  I’m a frilly girl who loves all the frilly little girl things.  I’m prissy I suppose if that is how you would describe someone like that.  My mama used to dress me in ruffles and lace as a little girl and I suppose it stuck with me.

Yesterday, my daughter-in-law called to tell me that her OB was very ill and in the hospital so she had been transferred as a patient to another OB and that doctor was NOT going to delivery my grand-daughter on the 19th.  I was a little disappointed but when I heard the dreaded date that was chosen by the doctor I felt dread immediately!  It was once again the 22nd.

My daughter-in-law knew how much I did not want that date and bless her she tried desperately to tell me that since it was that date twice, it was meant to be that my grand-daughter’s birth would make that date a happy one now instead of a sad one.  I didn’t want to believe that.  I steadfastly, in my denial frame, kept telling her that my new ladybug love would be born earlier and the doctor didn’t know everything.  Perhaps that is what will happen and perhaps it won’t.  Today I realize that it really doesn’t matter.

In all her young wisdom, perhaps my sweet daughter-in-law is correct.  If my long awaited little girl is born on this sad anniversary perhaps her birth will herald in a new meaning to this date.  I’m hopeful it is her impending birth that has broken through the icy layer of discord I feel for the entire month of December and has caused me to begin humming Christmas carols and wanting to bake.  I also decorated even though I’d said before December that there was no reason since it was just going to be me and my partner in crime home alone for the holidays.

That’s another thing that has me humming I believe.  The fact that there is someone around to share my life with at the moment.  Someone who is having more fun than me at putting up lights and Christmas wreaths.  With that in mind, I’ve stated that next Christmas the entire house will be lit up with lights and decorations and we will pull every single Christmas box out of storage and go through everything to celebrate my son’s first Christmas back and basically my grand-daughter’s first real Christmas since she will be just a couple of days old this year.

Maybe just maybe the curse of Christmas is beginning to lift in my heart.  I’m hopeful in a way because I feel bad honestly when I detest the most magical time of the year.  Especially when there are kids involved.  I’ve wanted to celebrate my mom’s spirit and her love of the holiday but it has been next to impossible to do so.  Grief is a horrible and brutal thing.  It never completely goes away I’ve learned.  It is around forever when you lose someone who was extremely important to who you are as a person as well as being a loved one.

As I look forward to the birth of my grand-daughter I’m working very hard to push away my cloud of denial and find my acceptance that her birth may happen on a bad memory day.  At the same time, I’m hoping that my dear daughter-in-law is correct in the fact that if it is indeed the day my grand-daughter is born then it will usher in a new era for me on the Christmas front.  No longer will the holiday be marred with the sad memories of the losses this time of year has normally brought to me.  Perhaps this is God’s way of showing me that losses may happen but there is always hope of a brighter tomorrow in the same place that loss has occurred.  Let December 22nd become a day of hope and promise now…and let’s celebrate a little girl who will thaw out this icy heart of this Nonna….bring on Christmas.

Fiesty & Girl in the snow of Christmas 2004

Fiesty & Girl in the snow of Christmas 2004

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Christmas 2012 in Davis, OK with my daddy & mama Nik! Before going to AIT at Ft Sill, we stopped for some cheer at my daddy's home in Davis.  This is a photo of 3 generations of Rogers men. My daddy, Roy, my son, Steven & my grandson, Ryan

Christmas 2012 with my daddy & mama Nik!
Before going to AIT at Ft Sill, we stopped for some cheer at my daddy’s home in Oklahoma. This is a photo of 3 generations of Rogers men.
My daddy, Roy, my son, Steven & my grandson, Ryan

My son and his family Christmas morning 2012!

My son and his family Christmas morning 2012!

Stockings hung in our family room (no fireplace in there) Representing the 'kids' in our family...my daughter-in-law, my grandson, my new grand-daughter and my son!  There once was only one stocking to hang for my child and now I'm blessed with 4!!!  Perhaps this is the Christmas where the spirit and love of the season take me back over....

Stockings hung in our family room (no fireplace in there)Representing the ‘kids’ in our family…my daughter-in-law, my grandson, my new grand-daughter and my son! There once was only one stocking to hang for my child and now I’m blessed with 4!!! Perhaps this is the Christmas where the spirit and love of the season take me back over..

Roses for Mama-My Mother’s 68th birthday

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Today is my mother’s birthday.  I sometimes write about her on this day because it is a day I feel her especially close to me.  You see, our birthdays are a day apart.  Hers on the 13th, mine on the 14th.  We always celebrated together when we were physically together and when we weren’t (which was more time in my life than I like) we always talked on the phone both on her day and then again on mine.  That’s significant because way back before cell phones, in the dinosaur era, we had to call long distance and let me tell you, that was a bit of a luxury she and I could rarely afford for a big part of my life.

The last birthday we celebrated together was 12 years ago.  She turned 56 and I turned 36.  Now, I’m staring into the future of only 8 more years until I’m the same age my mother was when she died.  When I was 20 years old, 56 seemed VERY OLD and now that it is a mere 8 years away, it seems quite young indeed.  When I was 36, it seemed young as well.

By the time I was 36, I realized that youth was fleeting.  I was staring at 40 back then.  Now I’m starting at 50.  I am an age that I remember my own mother being which in and of itself is a weird thing.  How am I like her when she was my age?  How am I different?

I hear her come out of my mouth more.  Not just in the things I say, but also in the way I say them and the sound my laugh makes now.  Sometimes it is a bit disconcerting to hear my mom’s laugh when I have a good chuckle.  I sometimes even turn my head trying to figure out why I can hear her.

Only 8 more years and I will be the age my mother was when she died.  I just lost a friend who was only 54.  My mom and I shared so much more than a birthday…we shared similar happenings in our lives which was always a little weird too.  We both had hysterectomies when we were in our mid-twenties.  We each were told we would most likely never have children and then we were blessed with only one child which was a major surprise to each of us.  We each married while still teenagers.  Our love lives were both complicated.  The only difference there is she eventually found her 2nd soul-mate at the ripe old age of 44.  I’m technically 4 years past that date now!

I worry that our death age though will be close and I hate that.  I’ve had that fear since the day she died.  I guess that is why my “no regrets” mantra began to take hold a couple years ago.  I don’t want to die with regret.  I know she died with a few.

Mom’s health prevented her from doing a lot of things she was passionate about.  I know she died feeling blessed because she was loved and had a great husband, beautiful grandsons and of course me…but I worry that she had regrets that she never got to really get into making jewelry like she had wanted or travel with my other dad like they had envisioned for their retirement days.  She seemed content to while away the days here in the same house I live in now but she had quit living in a way.

My mom was 16 ½ years sober when she died.  That sobriety was hard fought and for probably 12 years she was very involved in AA.  She was a sponsor and a much beloved presence in the program while she lived in Corpus Christi and then Midland, but once she moved to Katy and then Goliad, she began to quit going as often.  I think that was another thing that she regretted.  She was like a bright light when she was involved in AA.  She shone hot and bright and always spoke her truth without apology.

Once her health started leaving her due to basically a broken back that had too many surgeries done to it that crippled her in many ways, she lost her joy in being around others.  She and my (other) ‘dad’ retired to Goliad and she was content to stick close to home and tend her many plants and be around her dogs and her man.  She loved to go shopping at Bill’s Dollar Store downtown Goliad when it was still open and she loved volunteering at the nursing home doing manicures.  When she quit doing manicures I noticed her decline.  She was probably about 54 when that happened.

I too have health issues.  While they are different than my mom’s, I feel she probably suffered from some of the same ones that were never treated.  I literally walked with my mom’s cane for years because of the health issues I have dealt with over these last 10 ½ years.  For a while, I was afraid that I might actually die before her death age.  I’m now stronger than I was 10 years ago.  I will never be what I once was, but I’m better than I was, and I take heart in that.

So, while my mom began to give up on life the last couple of years she was alive (and I by no means want it misconstrued that she was depressed and despondent, because she wasn’t…she just didn’t have her normal ‘zest’ for life) I don’t want that to become me.  I want to live every single moment I can with as much life as I can put into it.  I want to realize my dreams and work towards all of them.  I don’t know that I’ll ever make it to Ireland like I want, but if it never happens, I’ll work on the more attainable goals.  At one time I thought writing a novel was unattainable.  I proved myself wrong on that when I wrote 7 of them in 13 months.  I thought being a published author was never going to happen and I made that happen as well.  Am I as famous as J. K. Rowling?  Not yet….but I’m learning in life, “never say never”!!!

Do I only have 8 more years to live?  I don’t know…I may only have 8 minutes, days, months or years…no one knows that for certain except the good Lord above.  So, for now, I want to be as passionate as I can about life.  I want to love with great passion even if it isn’t with a partner….I have my child, my grandchildren, my daddy & my other mom, my friends who are now my family, my friends who could someday be like my family, my extended family who are also my friends, my animals and all those in between.  I want to love them all with a great passion and I want them to always know how I feel.  So, I might say “I love you” a little more often when I hang up the phone or end a text.  I might hug a little tighter and kiss a little more.  Whatever ways the passion I feel comes out, it is because life is so incredibly short when we look at it in the broadest scope possible.

So, as Tim McGraw sings, “Live like you were dying….” Because really, we all are in a way….and the best testament to our lives and the legacy to leave to our children and grandchildren is a love and zest for life.  Live the life you want for your kids.  Live the passion you want your children to have in their own lives.  Be your best authentic self and never lose sight of how incredibly blessed you are….even when you feel like everything is wrong, get up and try to make it right.  Even if you don’t have kids of your own, live the best life you can and be an inspiration to others.  You never know who may be watching you and looking up to you.  The best things I’ve ever heard are when someone tells me that something I did or said made a difference in their lives.  Even if no one ever tells you, I guarantee you are making an impression on someone.

I guess in closing, I’ll tell you this about my sweet mama….she was a force of nature.  She was someone you never wanted to piss off but she was also someone who you wanted on your side in a storm.  She loved fiercely.  She was loyal to anyone she called friend or family.  She had some pretty bad years when she was an active drunk…but she’s the first one to own all the bad choices and decisions she made during those years.  She loved with her whole heart and thus could be hurt quite easily, but you would probably never know it because she’d be damned before she let you see her hurt.  She was actually extremely vulnerable when she was with someone she felt exceptionally close to.  She only ever had a handful of friends she felt that way with and of course me and my other dad.  Even then, she sometimes hid that hurt really well from me.

My mama was loud and bawdy and could out-cuss a sailor or at the very least make one cry.  She had extremely dark brown eyes and let me tell you, she could shoot fire out of those things when she wanted.  She loved to be all dressed up with her makeup just right and perfume on with as much jewelry as she could possibly get away with wearing at any given time when she went out in public.  She could also dress down and not give a crap what anyone thought when they saw her in a ratty old t-shirt and cut-off shorts while grocery shopping.  She absolutely adored her husband and yet still loved my daddy in her own way, which always made me happy.  She was full of contradictions, but she was my mama and I loved her so much.

So, happy birthday Mama.  I know you aren’t here to celebrate with me, but just because you aren’t here doesn’t mean I’ll ever quit marking your birthday as well as my own.  With every passing year I’ll be grateful for what I have.  I hope to someday celebrate your 100th birthday because that means I’ll have made it to the ripe old age of 80 and my sweet Steven will be at that 56 marker!  If I don’t make it that far, I think it will still be okay because then we’ll be together marking that time with one another…until then…I’ll eat a piece of cake for you!

Much love from your Angel Girl~09_19_1009_19_009_19_409_19_609_19_9Mama around 1993 or 1994 014

Life Happens

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As happens with me…life gets in the way sometimes of my writing commitments and I get sidetracked from doing what I need to in order to stretch my creative wings!

I have thought of many different posts over the last few weeks that I’ve been absent. The first was about “Deployment”!

My son deployed almost a month ago to a place with lots of sand and heat. With the Middle East in so much turmoil, I of course, worry about him. I know that he is safe inside the place he is stationed and he is not an infantry position but I still worry. So much unrest, so many terroristic, militant groups. Anything it seems can happen anywhere over there. So, I worry. That is my job I’ve learned as a mama. I worry.

Now that is not to say that I sit around anxious, wringing my hands all day in tears. No, it just means that I keep my ear to the news a little more than I should and a piece of my heart has left the US to go over to a giant, hot sandbox. It is an odd feeling knowing that my son is not just a few hours away from me, but he is now a couple of days away! I won’t touch him or see him physically for at least a year. I’m extremely grateful that I can talk to him often (when he calls) because communication services is so different than it used to be. I can’t imagine what it was like for mothers in WW I & II, Korea, Viet Nam or even Desert Storm.

Deployment so far has just left me feeling a little adrift in life. I have so much going on in my ‘other’ life that is not about being a mom, but being a fledgling author, that I’m hopeful it will keep me busy for the majority of the next year or so!

Who knew that the worst part of publishing a book was going to be the marketing of said novel. I always wanted to write this story and share it with the world, but the hardest part is getting it out there for the world to find!

If I were a little better off financially I might not be so concerned because I could afford to do whatever I needed to do to get the book out there to my adoring fans that I just know will love DeLaine’s story once they get hooked! But, alas, I am not. So, I work hard at spinning my wheels sometimes. I have a lot of a dreams and I don’t intend to stop reaching for them.

For a while in my life, I thought that dreaming and reaching for dreams was just a distant memory. I thought that my life would revolve around doctors, pain and just existing until I died. Today, it is like a part of me was long asleep and was awoken a few years ago.

With every day, it seems like my dreams get bigger and wider than they were before. I wanted to write my book…so I wrote it plus 6 more! I wanted my book to get published and hold it in my hands…so I self-published! I only thought I’d get one published…my 2nd volume, in the continuing series, is at the publisher’s right now! I wanted to sell my story and make everyone feel something with my writing. I wanted to touch others with the story about a girl who is growing up and thinks that there is no way anyone else could possibly understand her life…I must be doing that from the reviews I’ve gotten from complete strangers as well as the many calls I’ve gotten from people who don’t even know me to tell me that they completely related with my story.

Now my dream is to be able to get all of the series published without putting myself in bankruptcy court. I want more folks to find DeLaine’s story. I want to share her with everyone! So, my dreams are still big and wide. I’ve realized that my days of dreaming are NOT over. They are just beginning. Being almost 50 doesn’t mean I’m dead! It means that I’ve lived and I’m still living large and I will continue to live large! That is what my destiny is…whether being a hugely successful author is part of my destiny or not, I don’t know. I only know that as long as I can keep dreaming and shooting for bigger and better things the longer I will truly feel alive. If I ever begin to lose that spark, my dreams, and my life becomes one of only existing, then I know that time is getting short…so until then, I’m dreaming big! I’m reaching for all the stars I can and I’m ever grateful for every dream that is coming way!

Life does get in the way sometimes…but isn’t that what it is supposed to do???
Peace my lovely fans~

Being Grown Up

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029I began a post yesterday about growing up and of course with computer issues comes the loss of blogs to the ether… I’ve always been grown up. I didn’t have the opportunity to have a “normal” childhood but it is okay because I never knew any different. Coming from a family of dysfunction it is okay for me to admit that today, but as a kid, you always think of yourself as “different” and so you don’t admit that to others. What we don’t know as we are growing up is that others are living a life of dysfunction just as much as we are. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as really “normal”…I think there are just varying degrees of dysfunction and we each learn how to hide what we don’t want others to know about us. I’m reminded of this after a high school reunion that took place this past weekend. It was for the class ahead of me and was open to multi-year classes, so while it was a 30th reunion for that class, it would only be 29 years since I graduated. Seeing these folks in the pics (because my son is deploying I didn’t get to go because I wanted to stay here with him this weekend…family always comes first to me) I’ve enjoyed seeing the photos. I must say that the men seemed to have changed the most. The ladies, they look a little older, have different hairstyles and some are a little heavier, but they all looked fabulous! The guys though I realized I couldn’t recognize. This of course made me think about a lot of things that are long gone and happened in another lifetime…I don’t think we get just one lifetime…I think our lives are made up of several lifetimes…or chapters…since I’m a writer, I think in chapters it seems. When I was in high school I was the responsible one. I was a loner with a lot of acquaintances and only a handful of close friends. For the most part, all of those close friends are still the same close friends I have today. Just because I was the responsible one doesn’t mean I didn’t do my fair share of acting stupid, but I did it in controlled and measured ways which isn’t the norm for most teenagers. By the time I was 17 though that was pretty much over. I was an adult in my mind and have been ever since. Now as I look back at that time, I realize that being a grown up was the only thing I knew how to be. It is still the only thing I know how to be. I also know that being a grown up sucks most of the time. Being a grown up means having to make the right and responsible decisions. It means you pay the bills and forget the luxuries if you struggle financially as I seem to always be doing. I’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck and that hasn’t changed. Being grown up means having the common sense God gave you and not acting like an idiot when you get angry or sad or upset in any way. It means you don’t throw things at people or punch them when you get angry at them. It means you make hard decisions about relationships, your kids and basically just about life. I’ve always wanted to be able to let go with complete abandon, but the adult in me always says, “No, you have to think of a contingency plan!” How I’ve always envied others who were and still can let loose with their feelings and lives. I didn’t go out when I was 19, 20, 21, 22 and party and go to bars. By then I was divorced and remarried with a step-daughter and pregnant with my son at 23. Even after my son and I were on our own when I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s I tried to go to bars a couple of times with girls I worked with or was friends with and I just hated it. I didn’t understand why everyone wanted to go. I was happy sitting at home with my son, watching Disney movies or Power Rangers and reading or painting. I loved going to Little League games and Cub Scout meetings and doing things for PTA. Now, I’m at an age where I should be able to let myself “GO & DO” whatever I want and I still find myself unable to cut loose. I wonder if I’m doomed forever to always be the grown up? I hope that maybe as I get older, I’ll be able to let go a little more and have some fun. For now, I’ll be the grown up I’m supposed to be. I’ll pay the bills on time, (YUCK) and I’ll make the hard decisions and I’ll be the “Mom” to everyone I’ve always ‘mama’d’ and hopefully, I’ll have my ‘second childhood’ when I hit 50! That would be nice! So be on the lookout if I start doing irrational things in the future, like buying an extravagant car (I can’t see me EVER doing that) or taking a crazy trip around the world (or that either) or running away and not telling at least one person where I am in case of emergency! I can guarantee at least one thing…if I ever get married again, please check my pulse and see if my heart is still beating…because right now, I’d only do that over my dead body! Peace friends~

Cha-cha-changes

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I’m not someone who likes change…AT ALL! Yet, here I am with so much change happening in my life that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I talked with my therapist yesterday about it…yes, I see a therapist…I think most people who are creative probably at some point in their lives have seen one simply because we tend to internalize a lot because we feel the need to people please. After all, when we write, paint, play music, act or any other type of artist we are doing it to an audience most times. We want our work to be appreciated and liked. I digress…I’ll talk about therapy in another post…this one is about change.

I was talking about how irritated I’ve been lately with everybody, especially my son. The more we talked the more upset I became. Finally my therapist asked me if my irritability and anger might be a cover for something else. I hate when she is right because it was that moment that the floodgates opened and stayed that way off and on all day long (and remain that way right now too).

See, my son is about to embark on a huge adventure and a possibly dangerous one. He is a PFC in the Army and is about to be deployed for the first time to the middle east. I can’t say much about what he does or where he goes but suffice it to say the country he will go to is NOT in turmoil but everything around it is…which makes me wonder if he will eventually be dragged into all the highly charged bullsh*t that goes on over there. He will be gone for a year (or more) and will miss the birth of his next child.

All of these things are weighing heavily on my mind.

I raised my son by myself from the time he was 4 months old. I made him my entire world and dedicated myself to being his mom. It was my job…my passion in life. I tried to be the best mom I could be and knew how to be. I’m not bitter about having to raise him alone. I’m not sure I could have shared him successfully with his dad since I chose to be his mom and raise him in the most loving and stable way I could. I did this because I never had that growing up.

My childhood was tumultuous and sometimes not nice. I never got to be a really little kid because it wasn’t how I was raised. I was raised to be a little adult. I obeyed, didn’t get in the way and stayed as quiet as I possibly could. My parents’ friends all said they never minded me coming with my parents to their homes because I never touched “pretties” and I sat quietly and played with whatever toys I brought with me. I didn’t run around like a crazy little heathen and I didn’t talk out of turn. I could carry on a complete conversation with an adult by the time I was 3 years old. Many people thought this was miraculous. It wasn’t a miracle. It was simply the way I was raised.

When I became a mom, I chose to give my son the childhood I felt I never had. I did however raise him to mind, have manners and respect his elders. He was a great kid and I loved that everyone thought that he was so well behaved. I allowed him to play, dream and laugh out loud. I showered him with as much as I could in the way of material things but never to the point he thought he was owed something every time we went to a store. I also showered him with my attention…my FULL ATTENTION when he was a baby and toddler and elementary kid. I worked only to put a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I liked being an office manager but I never had huge dreams to be something bigger…the few times I tried, I was usually squashed by whatever boss I had at the time…I personally think it was because I did more than my share (again that damned people pleaser) and I made sure every boss I had looked amazing to HIS bosses!

I kept myself in jobs that would allow me a bit of flexibility to be able to be the classroom mom in several elementary grades and be active on the PTA & in Cub Scouts and later Boy Scouts. I even took my Friday lunch break reading to his class in 3rd and 4th grades. Everything in my life was about my kid.

When he got to junior high of course he began pulling away which is what he was supposed to do and I ended up having to let him go quickly when my mom died suddenly and we moved in with my other dad. These were his grandparents that he loved almost as much as me and suddenly everything about them changed. Gone was his funny and outrageous Nana and his Papa was now only a shell of who he used to be. I know he was hurt very much by all the turmoil that surrounded those years that led into his high school days.

During this time I also became sick and went on my medical odyssey to find out what exactly was wrong and how to ‘fix’ me. I too began to become a shell of myself. We had our normal bumps in the road as any mother and high school son will have. We somehow stayed close though when things were humming along fairly well.

He moved out early to stay with a girlfriend but he never came home to take everything out of his room. Because I thought the relationship was not the healthiest I wasn’t supportive but I tried to detach with love in the end…it eventually folded and he came home for a while. Then he moved out again…this time for good…at least until he got married, had a child and joined the Army. Then I had 3 people living with me. I never minded because I adored my grandson as much as I adored his dad. I also loved my daughter-in-law so even though it felt crowded I had hope that it would all turn out okay. For the most part it did. We had some rough patches but never anything where we hated one another.

He went away for basic training and then for his AIT and was gone almost 9 months but we could talk with him once he got to AIT, which helped a lot. NOW…he is about to leave the country and go to a region that is very unstable. As a mom, I know I’m worried. Sometimes when I get worried I take it out as anger and impatience. I know this is one of my shortcomings and I try to work on it as much as possible….thus the reason for a therapist to continually work on the things that aren’t the best parts of me…there are so many…again I digress.

So I have been really impatient and irritable with the person I love the most in the entire world and I feel really awful about it. It is hard for us as parents to let our kids know that we are afraid. We are the slayers of monsters under the bed and the boogeyman in the closet as well as spiders and other creepy bugs (even if they freak us out just as much) for our kids we are willing to face down those fears to appear to be invincible and strong above and beyond what we really feel.

I need to be strong for my son who is I’m sure worried himself. He knows what he signed up for. He won’t say he is afraid…he’s too much of an Army man to actually speak the words but I also know he is so much like me that his responses are beginning to come out angrily and impatient with everyone around him too. I get it.

As a mom though…I can’t imagine my life without him at least a phone call away. We don’t talk much right now, but I know that I can call him and if he doesn’t answer, I call my daughter-in-law because she’ll have him call me. I know it is only a matter of pushing a few spaces on my smart-phone screen. Now, though for a year, I won’t be able to do that. I’ll have to be on call 24/7 for a year. I’ll carry my phone everywhere with me and the ringer will always be on once he leaves. I’ll try hard not to cry when he calls and I hear his voice but I know I’ll fail miserably at that too. He isn’t even gone yet and I miss him more than anyone I’ve ever missed in my life, including my best friend when I moved away from Wichita Falls when I was 14.

So, I have a lot of changes coming up and I don’t do well with change. I will have a new grandbaby right after the first of the year. My grandson will be 3 years old in a matter of days now (where the hell did the time fly??) and my second book, God willing and the creek don’t rise, will come out in the fall and hopefully the third one will come close to the time the new baby gets here….lots of changes are happening. I also think I will lose my oldest dog, Girl before he gets home too.

There is so much that can happen in a year’s time. We can all change so much both here and there. I’m letting my fear overtake me right now because I fear change…then while I was typing this, I heard my other dad, Curtis, whisper in my ear from far away…”FEAR is this, SaDonna. False Events Appearing Real. Nothing more and nothing less…”

I know this in my heart of hearts that he will be okay. I project all kinds of horrible events because that is what I’m constantly barraged with from the media. I don’t think everything is okay over there by any means…but I do think that I project the worst possible scenario in my mind instead of hoping he learns and grows as a human being during this time. I also hope once he comes home that the 2nd place he wants to come after meeting his new child for the first time, will be to come home to Goliad and his old ma.

Change is sometimes good for us. It helps us to grow and change as people. It helps us to shed the bad and embrace the better in our lives. It allows us to find the better that we could never see. I have changed so much in the last 3 years and especially the last year that I’m almost unrecognizable even to myself…I’ll never be who I was physically over 10 years ago, but I’m where I’m supposed to be which is better than I was. I know that all of that can change on a dime too and I fear that….I need to work on wiping out that word from my vocabulary.

Change seems to be only for the strong. The weak usually fall completely apart over change or run from it as hard as they possibly can. While I don’t stretch my arms out wide and embrace it as soon as it happens, I try to learn a little more acceptance at changes…you never know when they are going to be good unless you try them.

In the case of my son being gone for a year in a dangerous place the change that is happening for me is super scary. I am going to have to rely on faith a lot more than I have been. Sometimes my faith is shaky and right now it is at that point. I know for a fact that God never ever leaves me. He never has in the past and He won’t now, even if I get mad and turn away…He will still be there with his arms stretched out wide.

Everything will work out the way it is supposed to…of this I feel certain. I will get myself under control and once again be the dragon/monster/bug slayer and when I’m alone, I will break down because the monster was so scary…in the end though, God gave me the strength to slay it for my baby boy…so he wouldn’t have to be frightened….isn’t that what moms are for?

CHANGE….it really does suck in the beginning….

Life is fragile

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Last night, I got a private message on my Facebook page to call a friend of mine that I have not talked with in almost a year.  I haven’t seen her in about 3 now.  This woman was once a part of my every day life about 22 years ago.  She was the woman who I trusted with my greatest treasure here on Earth…my heart & soul…my son.

I found this lady after traditional daycare and then a ‘babysitting’ situation did not work out.  My son was about 18 months old and my entire reason for existing at that time.  I had narrowed my search down between this woman and another but my gut instinct was to go with the lady I went with.  I have veered off from my gut instincts before but I didn’t want to make a mistake with the life of the only biological child I would ever have.  He was the miracle baby that I didn’t think I’d ever have.

The week he began going to his new home daycare, I was scheduled to have a hysterectomy at the age of 25.  I was filled with a lot of trepidation because this was a very big and scary surgery to have so young and most doctors don’t even want to discuss it with someone my age who only has one child.  I’d been plagued with issues since I’d been a teenager though so I always thought the doctor thought it was obviously in my best interest even so young.

I was a young, single mom and had been on my own with my son since he was 4 months old.  He was my entire world.  I only worked in order to provide for us.  I cared about being a good employee and was always terrified of losing my job because I had no savings or education besides my high school diploma.  So, my ‘career’ as such was not working at a trucking company as the district secretary but my career was about being the best mom I could be.

At that time, my mom and (step)dad still lived in the suburb of Corpus Christi where I’d gone to high school and once again lived with my toddler.  I was supposed to go stay with them during my recuperation period after my surgery so my mom could help me with my son.  She was the only other person I truly felt okay leaving my son with for a long period of time.  She treated him just as I did (okay…she was a grandma…she probably let him eat cookies and cake for breakfast…for sure Hershey’s Kisses…but for the most part she did everything the same).

The fact that I was going to trust a relative stranger with my child for the first time during a week that I was probably at my most vulnerable seems a bit insane I’m sure, but it is how the Gods saw fit for life to be rolling out for me at the time.

The lady who I finally chose, let’s call her Belinda, had 3 kids of her own.  She had a preteen daughter, a son who was probably around 8 and then she had a 2 year old little girl too.  She had gotten certified as a home daycare and her house was so clean you could eat off of her floors.  My floors not so much, but I digress…

My mom lived one street over from Belinda and that was another reason I felt a little better knowing that she was only a phone call away.  This was way before cell phones were the norm.  If you worked for an oil company you probably had a mobile phone INSTALLED inside your vehicle, but just to have an arbitrary phone that wasn’t connected to a house wasn’t normal.

The day I was to go preregister at the hospital came and like any other day, I took my son to his new daycare and I went to work.  I went to lunch with my boss and then, having taken the afternoon off, I drove to the hospital downtown to get paperwork taken care of for my surgery.

Anyone who has ever done this knows what a mind numbing experience this is…especially when they make you walk all over hell’s half-acre to do a jillion different things…blood-work, paperwork, x-rays, paperwork, more blood-work, paperwork, pee in a cup, paperwork.

As I was walking through the hallway I heard my name paged over the intercom of the hospital.  I was surprised to hear my name because as you can tell it isn’t an everyday sounding name.  When I found the courtesy phone in the hallway I was walking in I found my boss’s voice on the other end.  He asked if I’d talked to my mom yet.  I immediately felt my heart go up into my chest.  He told me that my son, my miracle baby, the whole reason for me to draw air every single day had been rushed to a small hospital on the opposite side of town.  When he told me that my child had a seizure I just knew he was dead.  I’m not even sure I hung up the phone as I ran out of the hospital.  I jumped into my 1985 Ford Crown Victoria and sped along the highway at 90 mph.  LITERALLY … I was terrified to drive any faster.  The speed limit was only 55 back then.  I’d already decided the cops would have to chase me and I’d get out kicking and biting if they got in my way.

As I screeched into the back parking lot of the tiny hospital where my child had been taken I saw my (step)dad rushing in.  He’d come from downtown too and was in a white dress shirt as he worked in an office building for a large oil company.  As soon as I saw him I almost passed out.  If he was there it could only mean that my child was indeed dead, I surmised.  I was bawling as I pulled into a parking slot and found myself running in my skirt and dress shoes.

I ran inside and saw my parents beyond the double doors to the back of the ER.  I was looking around like a wild woman to see if I could find the babysitter.  What had this woman done?  The nurse working the desk knew immediately who I must be because she didn’t even ask who I was there for or what I needed.  She mercifully led me to the back.  I came around the white curtains to see my 18 month old son lying on a huge gurney, pale, but alive.  I rushed up to him and he began to cry and reach towards me.  Unceremoniously I brushed past my mom and gathered him up into my arms.

The doctor came up just at that moment to announce that my son had what was called a febrile seizure.  I’d never heard of that in my entire life but I was to learn that these fever induced seizures were the leading cause of fevers in babies and toddlers.  It was probably an anomaly (it wasn’t) that would never happen again (it did).  The babysitter had rushed him here with another toddler and a baby in tow.  She’d called my mom who rushed up there and she had already left to take care of her other small charges.

My son would most likely be okay and as any parent of a toddler can attest, illness is hardly ever gradual.  It instead comes over this little person, who means more than air itself to you, like a sledgehammer falling off a roof…hard and fast.  He was given some Ibuprofen in prescription form (yes, it only came in prescription back then).  The doctor felt like this would not repeat itself and he would be okay.  He even said if daycare didn’t have any reservations, he could go back the next day.  I didn’t know what to think.

The next day was my surgery.  How could I in good conscious go through with this surgery after this happened, I asked myself.  I went to my parents home but only after I drove by the babysitter’s house.  She was still brought to tears when she saw my son.  She recounted everything and how terrified she’d been.  She thought he was dying.  I could only recount how terrified I’d been not having any clue what had happened.  She agreed to watch him the next day while I was in surgery as long as he promised not to scare her like that again.  She laughed but I still think she was half serious when she told my toddler-speaking child in grown-up English he was grounded if he ever scared her like that again.

When I got to my parents they both insisted I go ahead with the surgery.  Only my mom would go to the hospital so my (step)dad was available for Steven.  I went only grudgingly.  I was already terrified, but now knowing that my child was sick made it even harder.  Of course, I needn’t have worried.  Belinda was the greatest baby-sitter I could have ever asked for to care for my child.

My son never had another seizure when he was with her, although he had more over the years…but she as well as her family became a part of our family.  When I chose to move away a couple of years later, it was Belinda and her family I missed more than anyone else.

He had another really great babysitter after her, but it took a lot of time, trial and error and some downright bad care before we got another decent person to care for him.  I eventually had a job that was flexible enough to allow me to take him to school and to pick him up.  He sometimes even came to work with me until I got off.

Last night, I was reminded how extremely fragile this thing called life is once again.  Just like the day Belinda rushed him to the hospital, I felt the fragility of life for perhaps the first time then, I was reminded when I received a call from the heroine herself.  She called to tell me that she has terminal cancer.  She is only 53 years old.

Belinda has cared for kids her entire life since her daughter was born in 1980.  She finally got to the point where she didn’t have to run her daycare any longer, but it only happened after she found out she had fibromyalgia (as I do too).  We have commiserated over the years about the unfairness of how much fibromyalgia sucks, especially now that our kids are almost grown (and now actually are) when we should be able to relax and enjoy life instead of feeling like crap all the time.

Now when she and her husband should be able to sit back and maybe take a trip or two and drink beers on their patio after cutting grass on a warm summer evening, she is facing leaving her children and never holding grandchildren in her arms as I’ve been blessed to do.  How do I reconcile that this sweet-hearted woman who barely said sh*t would now be faced with losing everything dear….and even more importantly everyone she holds dear is faced with losing her.

Where is the justice I wonder sometimes.  There are murderers, rapists, and generally awful people who are permitted to live LOOONGGGG lives and then there are people like Belinda and even my own mama who died at 56 who are taken much too young.  My mama touched so many lives with her journey through sobriety the last 16 1/2 years of her life, and I sometimes wonder how many other lives she could have touched eventually.  Now here is Belinda who has cared for everyone…  She should be reaping her just rewards for being a good woman.  She’s been a good mama to not just her kids, but to other people’s kids too.  She has loved her husband through thick and thin and she still has 87 year-old parents who rely on her.

She made a statement about the fact she was at MD Anderson in Houston for 7 weeks and does not remember anything from those 7 weeks.  She said it seemed so weird to her to have that much time from her life be simply gone.  She said it was hard to believe that only 7 weeks ago she was dealing with chemo, thinking she still had plenty of time and then poof!  Life as she always knew it was no more.  Now she has lesions on her brain….what does that mean I wonder?

In my heart of hearts I know what that means.  In my heart of hearts I know it means I will grieve my friend.  I know that it means my son will be in Kuwait most likely when I do.  It means that I’m faced once again with my own mortality.  It means that I’m once again angry that someone I love is going to die because of cancer.

I’ve lost loved ones to cancer, suicide and car wrecks.  I went to school with people who have died in car wrecks, heart attacks, drug overdoses, and cancer.  It seems my loved ones though die from cancer.  The majority have at least…

I can’t make sense of this disease.  It is insidious, cruel and not discriminatory in the least.  It kills old and young alike.  It sucks out everything you have inside of you and still leaves loved ones asking why.  It has no rhyme or reason.  Why does a woman who has awesome genetics who should live to be 95 years old end up being the youngest in her family to die.  Why does it take doctors over a year to find?  Why?  Why?  Why?????

I’ve often said it before and I’m going to have to remind myself of this….why is not for me to ask.  Why is not for me to know.  All I have to know is that I love this person.  As long as I live, I’ll carry a piece of this woman in my heart.

I know she will be in good company when she leaves this world and moves to the next.  My son and I weren’t the only ones who accepted her into our hearts as family…my mama did too….even when Belinda called her Nana Banana with the other toddlers!  I know Mama will be there to welcome her to the other side.  They’ll most likely go drink some coffee and smoke and joke while they wait on the rest of us to catch up.

In the words of Randy Travis, “It’s not what you take but what you leave behind you when you go.” (Three Wooden Crosses)~