This has been a tough week. I have been short with my husband, I have not used a nice tone on the work radio, there have been many frustrating moments on the bus. I thought it was Shawn related, until I looked at my calendar and pieced together why my emotions had been so bonkers. Turns out, I have been missing my sister Kathy. Today would’ve been her 59th b.day. I am so grateful that I had gone to meet Kath, in person. We had never been together, as she was given up for adoption, when she was very young. When I was in my early 20’s Kathy called me explaining who she was. Throughout the years we had many conversations. After Shawn died, Kath checked in on me, every couple of days. When she received a bad report regarding her ovarian cancer, I checked in on her every other day.
It was so neat, we would finish each other’s sentences. We were in sync. The day I walked into her bedroom, in Pennsylvania, we both felt like the other was a kindred spirit. Kathy was first to notice that she was the non-emotional, private type of person. I would also add, she got the brains.
After our first talk, back in the early ’80’s, Kathy sent me a package of Pennsylvania things. The only thing, of the many, that I remember, Kathy’s favorite :
It was the best maple syrup I had ever tasted.
I am going to make audio a post I wrote from my visit with Kathy. A Broken Vessel June 27, 2015
On May 20, 2017, President Trump was at a reception ceremony, in Saudi Arabia. All the guests were seated. A calm was over the setting as several men entered the room. They were dressed in white, each had a gun at their side and they were carrying fancy coffee pots. There were many guests, it took many to serve. The men moved around the room so effortlessly. The camera was at a good angle to capture the impressive capabilities of one of the men pouring coffee. As the man was pouring the coffee, he moved the tiny cup up and down. Not a drop spilled !!! I was so amazed. I have replayed that section, several times. I thought it was such a beautiful scene to watch. For the life of me I cannot figure out why no one commented on it, at least not that I have heard. I wonder why it happened that I had glanced up and seen this part ? The soldier was graceful, steady and accurate. I was so impressed !!!
It made me hope that my school bus driving skills, or anything else I do, could appear so effortless.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
My counselor is doing research on a distant relative named Helga. She was an artist, from Iceland in 1858. My counselor is interpreting her many poems, into English so he can put them into a book. Throughout our meetings, he has read several of those poems. For some reason, Helga feels like a kindred spirit, if that is possible~with so many years between us. Helga had suffered many losses and hardships. Her words are spot on. My counselor told me the reason I feel a connection is because Helga and I have a lot in common, even our personalities.
At our new church, the elders like folks to figure out what kind of service, each can do, to help the church body. I struggle with this stuff. I never think I am good enough to have any service action that would help others. Near the end of June, during, a church meeting about our church moving to a new church location, I was at the back of the sanctuary, standing and holding tight to the chair in front of me~the kidney stone pain was pretty bad that day, all of a sudden this loud thought came into my head. I wanted to find out if I could be the dish washer. The woman in charge of the kitchen tasks had just stepped into the doorway behind me. I asked her if she needed someone to help with washing dishes ? She kind of chuckled when I told her I love washing dishes by hand and said she could use the help. Turns out there is another person who loves washing dishes, she is from Ghana. How cool is that !?!
In a post on August 12, 2017, I commented on getting to wash dishes for my family, while we were at Seaside. I had told my counselor that I must be strange to like washing dishes. Wait, I do not like washing dishes, I love washing dishes. When I was washing dishes and doing the towel laundry, for my family, at Seaside, it was such a joy, even the smallest detail.
So why am I talking about washing dishes ? Well, during my August visit with my counselor, I was discussing my sadness about not getting to decorate the beach for Shawn and my frustration about being so weird, like washing dishes. He told me 3 things: (1) I am an artist; the Christmas card ornaments I make. (2) I am a planner/doer; my beach decorating. Although, this year, I decorated Hillyard Skate Park for Melissa and Shawn: (3) I am an encourager; my prayer/care notes I send out. I told my counselor he had given me a lot to sift through, accept and believe. I explained my frustration about how God could ever use someone like me ??? I was told that God gave me those desires/giftings and to keep doing them. God will be glorified through my actions. I was asked if I had heard about Brother Lawrence and his little book “The Practice of the Presence of God” ? I couldn’t recall it. Well, turns out, he was a dish washer. Below is a little tell of Brother Lawrence:
The last thing my counselor thought was important for me to know, before our meeting was finished, was that I needed to realize that I do not have a spontaneous nature. I love pattern. How he knew that I do not know. It was explained to me that when something happens, it takes me several hours to adjust or regroup. Yep, that is correct. Plus, I usually need time alone for the processing to work itself out. I was told that it is okay to be frustrated with delay/change, it just takes me a while to accept and readjust. I explained how embarrassing it is, cuz I feel like folks don’t understand. I was told, again, I just need to keep doing the things I love. Details will work out eventually.
So, in my worry about what my service is, it happens to be the things I love to do !!! Who knew !?!
School bus driving starts in 3 days. This past week I gave myself just 3 tasks, as a finish of summer break. I really liked my new Prayer/Care book I had put together, but adding photos was too hard. Plus, I still have more photos I need to add. So, my 1st task for last week, was to make a new Prayer/Care book, one that would hold card~stock, envelops and double sided tape. Last week I had made 13 cards to send out. I was amazed at how quickly my supply shrank !!!
My new Prayer/Care book is full !!!
My 2nd task was to reorganize an upper cubby area in the garage. I had various boxes of paperwork to sort through and toss. It had been 6 years since I last organized that area.
I was so bummed !!!
Mice had somehow filled my roller skates with dog food~~~tiny Chihuahua nuggets. The mice had eaten several of my favorite patterns. Worst of all, the mice had tinkled on and in many of the boxes. My task grew. All cardboard boxes had to go !!! I checked on~line and read that ants and mice do not like peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils~ I hope !!!
As I was sorting, I came upon a box, untouched by the mice. Why ??? As it turned out, it was the box that contained papers from my custody situation. I did not want to go down that memory trail. Those legal documents only reopened wounds from the 1990’s, they needed to be tossed !!! First, I decided to check for anything of importance.
My heart was struck when I came upon a note. I did not re~look at it, so I do not know when it had been written. The note was from each of my children. Their words were: “Mom, please still love us.” For several years, Melissa and Shawn were gone from my life. I never stopped loving them !!! ‘nough said. God saw fit to allow it. It is just another time added to the long list of things, from my life, that I cannot see how God can use.
One of the messages from my Prayer/Care cards is:
We never know what kind of situation may slam us down. Sometimes, it may take a while to find one’s footing. For me, it has taken quite some-time to not be afraid of being hurt, again. I have difficulties trusting God. I have told God, during each trial, some happening when I was very young, that He was giving me too much to handle. And yet, the next trial has been more difficult and each trial has been ever so lonely.
Find moments to cherish or at-least try to make moments to cherish. Devastation may happen for most, at-least once. There maybe others who go through many devastating trials, in their lives. Find ways to reach out, show you care~hard as that may be, at times. At least, try.
Here is another sample of a Prayer/Care note:
& sometimes that is all one can muster.
??? ~~~ ???
For quite some time, I have been trying to organize Shawn’s photos and videos. I came upon a video that I had taken just after Shawn died. He was being rolled away from me. I had asked if I could record the leaving. I promised I would not get the medical person’s face. He was very understanding. Shawn’s bed had a navy blue vinyl cover over it. The path was quite familiar. Each time Shawn had been taken to surgery, oh so many surgeries, this was the same path. I had recorded some of those times, as well. I remembered all those moments when Shawn’s bed had gone through those same double doors towards the elevator. I would always stand there for a few moments, just in-case…he would be, suddenly, brought back all better. While recording Shawn’s exit, I did not recall anything out of the ordinary. The other day when I happened upon this video, as Shawn was being rolled through those same double doors, there was this bright light. It enveloped that whole end of the hall, as Shawn’s bed went into it. I had never seen that bright light, before. My mom’s heart, paused.
As I have struggled, openly, with Shawn’s death, I have asked God how He can use~even me ? At the same time, I have been afraid of my next trial. As I move forward, will I be able to handle the next phase of my life ?
A couple of weeks ago, I was vividly remembering the many times Shawn needed blood~many units. He, also, needed plasma and platelets. I remembered how bummed I was when I learned that he was O negative, I am O positive. I remembered how thankful Melissa and I had been for all those kind folks who had donated blood, plasma and platelets.
My 3rd task, last week, was to see if Red Cross had donation openings. I chose the 29th, because Shawn died when he was 29.
My pulse and BP were just fine. My temperature was spot on. I am too short to do the double red cell donation. I learned that there are different diets for each blood type. My Hemoglobin needed to be better than 12.5. I was at 13.7. I asked about donating plasma and platelets. They require more time. So, I will put that on my to do list.
At-least I was able to finally take this step !!!
I sure hope I can keep giving. It is the only way I can think of to pay-back towards those wonderful donors who gave selflessly and kept Shawn alive a little longer.
My family had rented a house in Seaside, for a week. So on July 9th, I had decided to head to Seaside, after church, by way of Rockaway beach. My plans were changed when I saw a lot of traffic, in both directions. Any spot that could be parked in, was filled. I drove through Rockaway figuring on coming back in a day or so. As I was driving, I was making new plans. You see, I was going to take photos of decorations for my “Prayer/Care Cards” and take photos for my “Remembering Shawn” time.
For many years I have been frustrated that I could not find the right card to send out to various folks going through difficulties. I call these cards my “Prayer/Care Cards”. I want to remind folks that someone cares and is praying for them, as they muddle through a difficult time. In years past, I bought many discounted cards, none of which I really liked. I like the personal touch. I have come up with my own phrases. I hope to make the photos into cards.
Here is an example: P.S. I have several colors, not just blue !!!
As I continued my drive towards Seaside, my disappointment lightened. I asked God to help me figure out how I could use all my prayer/care decorations? I had decided I was going to get up extra early in the mornings, walk to the beach and get photos finished before the sun would cast too many shadows to work around. Then my mind started to wander as I recalled the many sand sayings I had made for Shawn, since he died. In time I started making sayings for others, who wanted their precious person remembered. I love making sand sayings. I hope to get to make more sand sayings, for others not just myself. Mind you, it takes quite a bit of time. I hope to make my new sand sayings into cards to send out to those facing difficult times. Oh yes, I had brought Blotto on this beach trip, in hopes of getting more photos of her at various locations, if time allowed.
Bob came to Seaside, the following Monday afternoon. He knew how bummed I was to not get my various photos taken. During my kidney episode I was watching a movie. I do not know the title or what it was about. Only one small phrase: “that appalling desperation of wanting to keep the dying person with you.” I think that is why going to Rockaway is still so important. It is my special remembering place for Shawn. A lot of folks go to a cemetery. Bob gave me the idea of leaving very early Saturday morning and getting to Rockaway before car and people traffic picked up. What a great idea ! I was sure I could pull out some of my prayer/care suches to make more photos.
Just a few samples:
Here is something neat. I figured out what I can can do to contribute when with others. You see, I love washing dishes and doing laundry. So, while at Seaside with my family, I suggested they let me be the official dish washer and take care of the towels and wash cloths. I just wanted to find a way to lighten their load. And, guess what ? They let me !!! For me, it was easy to do those tasks with joy !!!
I must admit, there are times (many) when it seems God & I are not on the same page.
Friday evening before Bob left, it was noticed that my car had a flat front tire. Les Schwab was closed. The donut spare was put on. There was such a difference in size that I was not going to attempt driving to Rockaway. I would need to get my tire fixed Saturday morning, changing my plans, again, for a remembering Shawn photo. My brother-in-law said there must be a reason, trust God. As reality set in, the emotion pressures were weakening the doors that do a fair job of restraining my tear flows. Without warning the tears burst out. I was, so, ashamed. I’m sure it is hard for most to understand my need for remembering Shawn.
***Les Schwab, You Rock !!!***
I am kind-of struggling. I cannot see how God can use my strange life. I do not want folks wondering why Kathy shares everything. I believe I have mentioned before that I am using this platform so my family and friends can have a place to check in to see how I am doing~that way they don’t have to deal with my grief stuff ??? Also, maybe my sharing will help someone know they are not alone. Maybe (?) all my different ideas or things I learn along the way can be an encouragement to someone ?
The other day, I typed in on YouTube: sermons on moving through grief. Here is a message I found helpful: https://youtu.be/bx7lS9UkE0s Joel Osteen, :Don’t Waste Your Pain: It is well worth listening to.
At 16:59 Joel mentioned “puzzle”, which reminded me of a project I wanted to try. I took a children’s puzzle and painted over it. I chose a scripture that I need reminding of, often, and penned it the best I could. It did not turn out perfect, in-fact, it looked so much nicer before I cut the pieces apart. BUT, the words are pure comfort !!!
I love to hear the melodious singing of the Western Meadowlark. This one was from Dub Paetz. I do not know what it is about the Meadowlark’s song that lifts my spirit. In my childhood years in Idaho, I loved it when the snow was gone enough and the Meadowlark returned with it’s glorious melody. Strange thing, I was sure I heard the same wonderful notes, this past Wednesday, while I was loopin’. I had been pretty bummed and those glorious notes warmed my soul. My heart was saddened, later that day with the news that someone in Oregon thinks the state bird needs no longer be the Western Meadowlark. REALLY ??? WHAT IN THE WORLD !!! OREGON !!! Keep the Western Meadowlark our state bird !!!
Some time ago, I mentioned that we have off white carpet throughout our house. I love carpeted floors. It is important to me that my carpet is clean and looks new. I must admit that it has been difficult to keep the carpet clean with a couple of phases of Chihuahua puppies. Also, several years ago, there was an awful clay stain, at the sliding doors, created when the mountain behind our house was made:
At that time, a chipper semi was parked at our back fence. I was the only one that weeded behind the fence~I guess it was a nice park spot. I now, have several trees back there. The tallest arborvitae, was transplanted by Shawn. The mountain, in the back, originally was smaller. I remember watching the rigs pile MANY loads of dirt. They rolled, many times across the soil to pack it down. I thought the slant was too much and the rigs would tip over. It took me many years to not worry if the man made mountain would come falling down, because of the mega rains storms we have here. Anyways, the dust from the mountain making project was awful. My Extractioner- carpet cleaning machine, a purchase from the 1980’s was very helpful. Due to over-use, another carpet cleaning machine was purchased. A lot of use from me and I loaned it out a few times. It needed to be replaced.
It was quite a surprise when Bob bought me the Mighty Pro-Blue. I use it a couple times a year. It is very powerful and does a great job helping me clean the carpet. I am amazed at how well our carpet has held up, after all the cleanings it has been through.
I have been longing to find a machine that would take care of little problems. An example would be: this past summer, a bucket containing melted coconut oil dribbled onto the carpet. It left a dribble trail of about 5 feet. The RugDoctor was helpful. BUT, every few weeks the coconut oil dribble trail reveals itself. I do not want to take out my big machine for small areas. Oh and yes, the Chihuahuas have accidents that need more than just a rag cleaning.
During Christmas break, while watching a recorded movie, for some reason, I did not fast forward through a batch of commercials. There it was an electric gadget being used to clean linoleum. It was then used to clean a carpet stain. Wow I was excited !!! You see my steam mop broke, so I have been back to mopping on my hands and knees. I showed Bob the commercial. Guess what ??? A wonderful surprise came to our door. A Bissell Crosswave All-in One Multi Surface Cleaner !!! This machine is perfect for a picky cleaner like myself. It works great on the linoleum! It was easy and a blast cleaning our garage floor and the outdoor carpet on the garage floor ! Yes, I mop the garage regularly, doesn’t everyone ? The folks who made the Crosswave thought of everything. It is easy to use !!! Also, all the parts are easy to remove and clean for the next job !!! AND, they have a tray to station the Crosswave, during stop moments-which when some drippage usually occurs with water gadgets. I love this gadget even though it is not blue.
One more find !:
Being a cleaning fanatic, I have tried many products in hopes of finding the one I can use for a variety of situations. Because of my lung sensitivities, it is important to find products that do not cause breathing issues. I have had NO bad reactions to GOOP (http://goophandcleaner.com/the-scoop-on-goop/) ! For whatever reason, this past summer, after trying many products, on a stain, I slathered some GOOP, onto the stain.
I cleaned the Goop off, the spot was gone. Bob found a 4 and 1/2 pound size of the white cream cleaning miracle working GOOP. I have been experimenting: it has worked well on spots on fabric, stains on the carpet, it is great for cleaning the inside of my bus: the seats, flooring and ceiling. I hope the company doesn’t mind, but this is how I use GOOP. I scoop a bunch of GOOP into a big pouring type container, that has a screw on lid. and then I add a small amount of H2O. I shake it up until it looks like milk. I squirt it onto my cleaning rags, and wipe the messes away. GOOP has been a thrilling find for me !!! There you have it, some things that have made my life easier.
See, I am not always, depressing ! Just tryin’ to grow on this grief journey.
It doesn’t seem to matter how cold it is outside, I can find myself, sweating. It can be frustrating. I try to wear jackets that I can peel off quickly, before they get sopping wet, during those hot moments. I do not understand how one’s body can drip sweat and be freezing at the same time. I have come up with a perfect phrase that fits me: I’m freezing hot !!! I must admit, I am still trying to figure out all my issues. The 3 seem to intermix: grief, menopause and exhaustion from bad asthma lungs. Just kind-of frustrated.
One of my torments with being freezing hot reminds me of many times while Shawn was in Harborview. There were times his room was very chilly. There were other times when his room was nice and toasty, so much so that the staff would be sweaty.
Just plain missin’ Shawn !!!
I heard a lot of talk this past week about all the different things that would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift. Like: a big bear, flowers, sweets, cuddly pj’s. For me, the most precious thing is that Mom has sent Valentine cards to us kids, always. I wish I had been better about sending out cards to my kids. Anyways, all the commercials about what to buy, made me think. Ummm, let’s see, I am trying to set this up to make sense. You see, my husband knows I do not need flowers, to go out for dinner, cards, sweets-which I would gobble too quickly. I love the unexpected throughout the year. I have found this approach less stressful for him.
An example would be picking out a card. Bob can spend many moments trying to find the right card with the right words. It is painstaking to watch. He usually gets a white envelop.
~~~ Just a side note~~~
Many years ago I was in a Target store. I had found a card, in short order. As is usual for me, my search for the perfect colored envelop is where my time is eaten up. On this particular day, a reset was being done on the card section. A woman asked if I needed help. I told her I was trying to find an envelop that matched the card. Her face twisted in disgust. She told me that that card had a white envelop and that I was not to mix them up. She proceeded to give me a here to what for. I was rather embarrassed as other customers stopped to listen to the goings on. AND, a couple of years ago, I had gone into a little gift shop, not far from our house. Again, I had found an appropriate card, but I needed the perfect envelop. The store owner asked if she could help me. I told her I was trying to find a better envelop. She told me to take the one that was meant for the card. She informed me that folks like me mess up her inventory.
SO~~~Hallmark or whomever are the card and envelop makers, give me better envelop choices, PLEASE !!! I do not like being scolded for trying to find a better envelop choice.
Maybe I should take the time to make my own envelops !?!
Last weekend I attended a memorial service of a co-worker. The service was simple and sweet. I heard the most beautiful performance of “How Great Thou Art”, that I have ever heard. I left the service thinking about the memories shared. A thought kept popping into my head: how will others remember you ? What will you (me) remember others by ? I do not like to have my photo taken. Then I remembered all the precious photos of my co-worker. Smiles are much better than a grimace or a turned head. Have I treated others in a loving manner? Have I been willing to make friends or has my grief enveloped me, too much ???
Shawn’s favorite saying: love ya to the moon and back…
A just because~~~ today, I am sharing one of my favorite images. Thanks to Pinterest, where I found it. It is nice, simple and clean. Maybe someone who is hurting or frustrated will be encouraged to look for something that is a blessing to them self. I would love it if folks had the courage to share their favorites here. It could be a poster, quote, photo, drawing, decoration, oh just anything. Who knows, maybe someone else will be blessed, as well.
Folks, I really do care and I hope you know it !!!