Gratitude Feed

Mother's Day - 2015

     It's not very hard to think about being a mother on Mother's Day, but it is a little uncomfortable. Maybe because I still can't believe I'm old enough to be a mother--five times! (Imagine how I feel on Grandparents Day.) Maybe I don't feel I've been kind enough, strong enough, smart enough, patient enough...well, you see where I'm going; maybe there are too many reasons I don't see how I could possibly deserve my own day. You should have to be a very wise person to have your own day--and the things I am wise about certainly don't deserve a day; maybe those things deserve a delete button.
     There are and have been many women in the world whom I'd choose to be my mother for Mother's Day; they could take turns, like getting on that special horse on the Merry-Go-Round.  And having had a child isn't a requirement. Mother Theresa, for example. Now how amazing would that be? I would never go hungry spiritually or physically.  Or Erma Bombeck? I'd laugh at least once every day.  I wanted to be Laura Petrie in a white sweater and black capri pants; she was a great mom, so vulnerable and apologetic, "O-h-h, R-o-b!"   Patti LaBelle? Oh my gosh, I've read that she loves to cook for people and even cooked for Elton John when they were both young and broke and beginning to fly.  I imagine that the music in the air of my dreams would be more than enough to live on with Miss Patti in the picture.
     I would be blessed to have been the daughter of any of my daughters. (The thought creeps them out---it is kind of weird and you can't think about it too much.)  In spite of me and all of my mistakes, misjudgements, precautions, my five daughters have great hearts and great souls. They would have loved me, I know. Just like I know Jesus loves me.
     So, in order to have had my mom-daughters, I am grateful for my own mother, Preta.  She was, in my and my therapist's opinion, overly harsh--Preta definitely didn't play. I can say, however, that she didn't let anyone mess with me or not let me have my chance. I think she was a little disappointed that I never "took my shoe off" and fought back.  She was at some times adored, other times hated, and most often feared; many of her ways I did not pass on. But in her last hours of life, she gave me something silent and powerful: she hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and put the blanket over her head to go to sleep. I never saw her alive again.


      I am grateful for Peter's mother, too.  Margaret. Without her, there wouldn't be such a kind and good, loyal and loving man who helped my mom-daughters even be in the world.   She seemed a bit like my favorite TV mom, Leave it to  Beaver's mom. I've missed her. She always listened to my insanely goofy calls (and she'd call every week) with such respect. Even when I'd complain about her son, she'd take my side!  She always welcomed me into her world. She liked happiness.


         They both told me, at various times, that I was a good mother.  Perhaps it's the children who should make that call.  I did try, though; and it was often the best thing I ever did.  So, maybe we don't need a "Mother's Day" or a "Father's Day" -  there's too big a chance of missing someone very important to be grateful for who may not be technically a mother or father at all, much less our own. But they cared like one, a good one. Maybe we just need a "Those Who Cared About Me Day."  For me, there are a lot of you out there.  Happy Day!


Happy Thoughts

"Think happy thoughts...and you will fly."  Hook

My happy thoughts:

Asha licking her sisters' faces--an expression of intense love, of course!
Asha's biggest smile--rare and wonderful, like my dad's.  Also, her addiction to frozen yogurt or gelato.

Merete when she says "Ya dig?" or "Stat!"  I guess her EMT days are never forgotten.
Merete shopping:  buy one of everything at any price, take it home, try it on, take back what doesn't fit.  Or ask Asha.

Tiera and mom at a poetry slam.
Tiera's "Thanksgiving To Go"
Tiera's surprise visits from the north country.

Halla's observations:
"I like the way the driveway looks after it rains."
"That dress, Mom, is never okay."
"Aw Mom, that man is digging in the trash..." (only happy because it shows her compassion that is sometimes hidden.)
"I had a good day, today!  I feel good."

Annie's profanity in sign language.
Annie's excellent imitation of Donald Trump saying, "You're fired!" including his hairstyle, too.

Peter when he actually wants me to go shopping with him!!!
Peter making my garden.
Peter letting me be in charge even when it makes him really, really, really nervous.

My Ellie when she doesn't attack the squirrels or knock over our neighbors.
Annie's little Princess tipping around me in the night and curling up into a ball and getting right next to my back to sleep.
Princess looking at me like, "I do love this family, but please put me on my pillow--Now!"

The way the front of my house looks from across the street when the evening sun lights up its facade of white rock, red door, tile house numbers that I found in Santa Fe, and the gigantic oak that was a sapling when we had the house built over twenty years ago.

How I made my wedding dress.

To be continued...

Miracle Mail

     My friend, S. K. Carew, is the poet I long to be.  She has ways of turning phrases that evoke beautiful images and reflective thoughts.  When I had to tell her the news about losing my daughter, I asked her for a poem.
     On one of my low days a week ago, when it's hard not to remember, not to think, not to burden my friends with need, not to bother my loved ones in the middle of their own business of living and hurting and healing...I received a box; it was so light, like it held only air.
      S.K. sent three things:  a well-chosen card with Maya Angelou's words about great souls that serve everyone all the time, that never die but bring us together again and again.  Inside the card, a sheet of paper with a poem she'd written for Annie--the last lines are:
The glassblower leaves
one breath in each work of art
to finish it.
I believe we are sea shells
with inner noises
rich and mysterious,
and that God,
old miracle worker,
holds us up and listens.
Your sweet soul turns
sad strangers into family,
and, just like that, makes
old friends into new.
You, Annie,
are the miracle.

     The entire poem is a perfect lovely miracle.  And then, I found another small box hidden within the foam pieces.  I unwrapped it slowly to find...a hand-blown glass dragonfly, with irridescent, gold-trimmed blue and green wings and a crystaline body--with the artist's breath inside...she had remembered that I collected dragonflies since Annie's loss.  As I stood there, "Let it Be" started playing on my computer...a song that was performed by special friends at Annie's memorial service.  And for a moment, a breathless, heart-filled moment I felt as if I was in the presence of Annie, of God, of pure Truth.  No sadness. No pain. Joy.
     Thank you, S.K., for giving me more than I can ever thank you for.

Sit, rest, remember...

     Lee Mannix was a unique trainer and personality, the spirit of the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior.  He made saving dogs from their owners one of his missions.  I first met him when I took my daughter, Annie, to a week-long class about working with dogs.  The class was for individuals facing any and all kinds of challenges.  Realizing Annie was discouraged about her deafness, in his loud (who couldn't hear that voice?), of-course-you-can-do-it way, Lee imagined the possibilities for a dog trainer who happens not to hear.  "Heck, you think dog trainers on movie sets use their voices--it's all signals--it's watching the dogs and signals; @#$%, you could do that!"  Burly--a pretty good way to describe him, burly--with cuss words.
     This burly man called my home after Annie died to offer his condolences.  A few days later, I was told he wanted to dedicate a bench to Annie on his training center grounds.  A few days after that, Lee Mannix died in a car accident.  "The Irish Dogfather," I was told at his memorial service, had been very upset about Annie's death and insisted on having the bench made for her. 
     Several members of his staff, after completing a bench for Lee, followed through on his wish:

      Oakshadows (2)AITbench Annie_inscription (2)
The message for the bench, what I told one of Lee's assistants, is what I imagined Annie would say--she was always telling me to "chill" and I so didn't like hearing it.  I'd listen now: 
     just slow down, have a seat, and hug your dog. 

Thank you:
*Martha, Inka, Jyl, Shari
*so many others whose names I may never know
*Philip Hogatt, owner/carver, and wife, Michele
    Carved Stone, Inc.

Thank you Lee.  Forever.