Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Full House

I guess I’m on a game card streak. At least as far as titles go.

My quiet house was turned upside down this weekend. My daughter Emily, her husband, and my two grandkids came into town Friday night and stayed until Wednesday morning. Emily hadn’t met her niece yet so Matthew and his wife made an effort to bring the baby over as often as possible. It hit me about 10 PM Friday night. Hey! I have all four of my kids under the same roof. And all three of my grandkids too. I couldn’t have been happier.

The pool was a hit. The water was only 62 degrees, but the kids didn’t care. I don’t go in until it’s at least 74, but I prefer 76 or higher. An even bigger hit was the hot tub. Colin said to me at the end of the weekend that if he never hears the words pool or hot tub again, that would be fine with him. They were relentless. But look how darn cute they are! Frankie was a proud uncle all weekend.
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Now don’t get me wrong. I am still OCD. I actually did pretty well. My house and yard looked like a tornado had hit. I find I can do about a day and a half completely ignoring it. Then I flip out and have to do a massive re-ordering so I don’t go crazy.

We had a big fire Saturday night and my neighbors came over. The next morning was Parker’s 8th birthday party. At 9:45 AM I woke everyone up who was still sleeping and cracked the whip. My neighbor popped over later and said he couldn’t believe it. It only took about an hour and a half with all of us, by the yard was completely transformed as was the house. There were two lawn mowers going, the kids were banned from everywhere possible, and soon everything was party ready, including the feast that Emily had prepared. I told Colin it would be amazing if we had that much help every week.

By the time they left, I was utterly exhausted. My house was trashed. My yard was trashed. There were moments when I thought I would go bonkers. But overall? Overall, I was thrilled to have my house full of life and people and relationships. If only I could figure out how to make it happen more often.

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Solitaire

I’ve been flattered at how many people have told me I’ve been screwing up their Thursday/Friday routines by not blogging…lol! I will do my best to blog somewhat regularly so I don’t mess you up 🙂

There are zillions of games out there now, ranging from simple to extremely sophisticated. Me? I still like Solitaire. I usually do Free Cell, and sometimes Spider Solitaire. But lately I’ve gone back to the original Solitaire. Plain and simple.

When Frankie plays (whatever game it is), he tells me it’s cheating to hit “undo.” I say no way. If it was cheating they wouldn’t give you a button right on the home page.

Of course, I know he is partly right. But I think about it all the time when I’m playing. You have two red queens. Which one do you use? You can’t possibly know the right answer because you don’t know which card is going to be revealed underneath it. I LOVE the undo button. Every time I press it, I think how much better life would be if it also had an undo button.

Sometimes it takes a while to play out. Sometimes you can pick either red queen and you will win the game. Sometimes you have to hit undo and pick the other red queen. And of course after you pick the red queen, there are often a dozen more choices you make, each with its own path.

Sometimes you just plain make a mistake. There is a black four that you just don’t notice. It is an answer that you are missing and its staring you in the face. Again, the beauty of undo is that you just press it until you go back to the moment in time when the answer is available to you. You correct your mistake and move on. I love it.

And sometimes, no matter what choice you make, no matter how many hundreds of times you hit undo, you just can’t win the game. It’s just a game that is a loser. You can literally play it perfectly, error-free, and you can’t win. I hate to admit defeat. That is the time you just have to hit new deal and start again. But the beauty in that? Who cares??!! It’s just a game and there is no relevance or consequence whatsoever.

You get the analogies. I don’t need to spell it out. Holy crap. If life were only a tiny bit like that, the world would be a much, much better place to live in. And much, much easier to live in. But we rarely get to undo our choices. And losing the game can have terrible life altering consequences.

Frankie may be “right,”. Maybe it is cheating. But I prefer to think of it as using every option possible to win the game. If my real life doesn’t give me those options, I most certainly am going to use them in my escape, entertainment world. And every time I do, I dream about how great it would be if life was that forgiving. If I have to play solitaire, I will take every option possible to make it enjoyable and feel like a winner at the end.


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Bald for Bucks

I haven’t been blogging on a schedule lately, so if you haven’t “followed” me, you might want to. That way you will receive an email when I blog. It’s easy-peasie.

Friday was Frankie’s Bald for Bucks event. Grandpa made the trek to attend because Frankie said Grandpa hated his long hair more than anyone else so he should be there. Here is what he looked like before the shavers got a hold of him:

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The energy level was great. The kids filled the auditorium and there was a young band there playing all the pop radio songs. The kids sang at the top of their lungs. It wasn’t that obnoxious kind of singing, just a bunch of pre-teens loving their music. There was a professional DJ there as well.

Frankie was in the first group to go for sixth grade. I was very surprised at how emotional I felt. I had to choke back tears several times. Was Frankie thinking about his dad? Were his friends thinking about the fact that Frankie’s participation carried so much significance? Were his teachers? Does it matter?

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What surprised me even more was that Frankie couldn’t keep the smile off his face the whole time they were shaving his head. I love that picture because it shows him half shaved and half long hair. I took video but I don’t know how to post video on here so sorry about that.

And then the finished product. My guy with his grandpa. Again, I choked back tears. He raised $500 for Roswell. Maybe someday they really will find a cure for cancer!

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A Charlie Brown Mother’s Day

During the Charlie Brown Christmas special, Charlie Brown says how he knows no one likes him, but wonders why there has to be a holiday to emphasize that fact. He laments his empty mailbox and sarcastically thanks his “friends” for the Christmas cards they don’t send him.

I can’t say that Mother’s Day is like that entirely for me. I had several friends who went out of their way over the weekend to let me know I am loved. I got a hanging plant, a dozen pink roses, chocolate strawberries, and perfume from various friends that stopped by. My daughter Emily called from Georgia Saturday night to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day and said a gift would be arriving on Tuesday. She always remembers and does very thoughtful things for me.

I start with those positive things because I truly am grateful for them. Sometimes though, people say things about how lucky I am to have good friends and that I should always focus on that. But what people fail to realize, is that even when a person is deeply grateful for gifts in their lives, that doesn’t take away from the fact that other people hurt them. Having great friends doesn’t make it hurt less when another friends hurts you deeply. Having a daughter that loves you, doesn’t take away the sting of your other three boys that pretty much ignore your existence.

About a week ago, Colin (age 31, by the way) approached me and asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I basically told I didn’t need a material present. What I wanted was their (Colin and Frankie, age 12) time. I said I wanted to go out to eat with them. Colin then said he was letting me know in advance, because my friends tend to take over holidays. Huh. We will never, ever, ever agree on that one. Colin and Frankie insist that my support system is around too much and makes them uncomfortable. I insist that my support system is around because the kids ignore and hurt me repeatedly. I will believe that’s the truth til my grave.

I approached the boys a couple of days ago and asked them what their plans were for me. I told them I would stay home all day if they actually wanted to do something with me. We could ride bikes, play games. Do anything at all. But if they were going to act like they hated spending time with me, or if they were going to ignore me, then I would be happy to make plans with other people who like to hang out with me. Frankie said if we went to HIS favorite restaurant to eat rather than the one I had chosen, then he would be able to have a good attitude while we were out.

Mother’s Day went exactly as I thought it would. I don’t know how you can be disappointed when you know in advance how people are going to treat you, but I manage it all the time. It still cuts me to the core.

Anyone who knows me (and this most definitely includes my children) knows that I hate being alone. I have to do it most of the time and I’ve learned to live with it. Is it too much to ask that ONE day of the year I’m not reminded that I’m a widow?

Frankie overslept so he wasn’t awake to go to church with me. So off I went to church by myself on Mother’s Day. Why should today be any different?

I came home and sat for awhile listening to Frankie and Colin in the living room. They were hanging out together as always, talking, laughing having a blast together. I finally went to bed to at least be a room apart from the loneliness that I felt.

I got up and asked Frankie to walk in the woods with me and the dog. His response? No, I’m good. So off I go alone, just like every day. Why should today be any different?

At 5 PM we went to Frankie’s favorite restaurant. As expected, not one word was said to me the entire meal. Not much was said at all, but when Frankie talked it was, “Colin, look at this. Colin, listen to that. Colin, what does your fortune cookie say?” And I just sat there, completely and utterly invisible. Totally fucking ridiculous.

We got in the car and I thanked them for buying dinner. Frankie then said Happy Mother’s Day for the first time all day. In fact, it was the first thing he had even said to me all day.

I came home and went to bed at 5:45. Why would I stay up? At 6:15 Colin came in the room and said he forgot to give me the card. It was signed by the two of them and there was a gift card. I thanked him. I’m glad they at least did something, but I had made it clear before today that what I needed was to feel some sort of love. Some sort of relationship with them. I didn’t hear from them the rest of the night. They hung out together in the other room, enjoying each other’s company.

Now what about Matthew? He is 28 years old and lives locally. I watch his daughter for nine hours every week. I’ve spent a lifetime of him only talking to me or acknowledging me when he needs me for something. I love my granddaughter, which is what I keep telling myself. That’s why I watch her. The kids have no idea whatsoever what it means for a single mother with literally five jobs to sacrifice nine hours a week on a business day for them. I know because they have never picked her up once and said thank you. Never once. I do, however, hear about how disappointed Matthew is in the poor care I give his daughter when they find out she had scratched her own face when she was at my house. Of course, in all fairness to me, I didn’t realize that trimming the baby’s nails now falls as a grandparent duty rather than a parental one.

So Mother’s Day came and went without a card. Without a gift. Without a phone call. Without a text. Nothing from Matthew and his wife. I’m not even sad. I’m pissed. So beyond angry it isn’t even funny.

Yes, thank you to Emily and to all my friends who love me. Nevertheless, it was a Charlie Brown Mother’s Day. A day that is supposed to be a day to honor the woman in your life who dedicates her time, energy, and countless moments of agony and worry over the intense love she pours out on her kids. For me? It was a day to be reminded that no matter how good of a mom I tried to be, I missed the boat. Most of my kids are selfish and thoughtless. They embarrass me. It’s getting harder and harder to keep taking the high road and being a rocking parent and grandparent with no reciprocity in return.

I know my kids don’t appreciate me. Do we really need a holiday to emphasize it?