A Different Kind of Mother

 

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I’m pretty quiet about my birth mother in life and on FB, unless the subject comes up.

When I see someone post something mushy and in the way of tribute for motherhood, I will usually leave a message saying, “I’m so glad you had a wonderful mother.”  I’m tired of just passing them by, and it’s the honest truth.  I want every kid to have a nurturing parent who guides them in ways that give them the freedom to live out their passions.

The thing is, my mother was someone who was never diagnosed as mentally ill because she never had a problem with her Borderline Personality Disorder.  With her 8 marriages (married 2 guys twice), messy life decisions, and inability to manage most of her financial dealings, my siblings and I all ended up suffering from PTSD from dealing with her and her machinations.  It’s clear that she was narcissistic and didn’t perceive our hurts or fears as anything significant.  It was always about her and her dramas.  This meant we basically went without nurture during our neediest times in life.  It’s really hard to celebrate what you wished for but never got with any kind of consistency.

She was a charming woman with winsome traits when she wanted something from you, or even if she just wanted to be liked.  She took pretty good care of her appearance, and honestly tried to be some kind of good cheerleader in her later years, when BPD tends to be less intense for post-menopausal women.  I was a bit surprised by how lessened her behavior traits were until I read an article that said that the lowering of hormones did that.

It didn’t banish or cure her mental illness though, it just made it trickier to know when you were dealing with her or her illness.  Before, you always knew to just deal with the illness because the person behaving outside the traits didn’t last very long. With the new situation, where there was an equal time exhibition, you just tended to get hurt more often by not knowing when the shift happened.

So when my mother died in 2013, it was with a nearly audible sigh of relief that her children mourned her passing.  She died in a peaceful way in spite of her more cruel diseases.  But for the very first time, we didn’t have to brace for her erratic behaviors, her weird letters, beseeching phone calls, or her manipulative conversations to do what she wanted done in the way she wanted it done.  There would no longer be her odd comments that made you doubt something you were sure of before she spoke.

There would also be no more insightful comments on different family members who caught her attention, or jokes about things that needed to be seen in humorous ways, for she was intelligent and had a lively sense of humor.  There would also be no more thoughtful comments during her times of sanity that would bring me to a delayed epiphany.  There would be no more times for me to find another waterfall picture for her computer wallpaper, or comfortable hours where she relived her childhood for me, and introduced me to the people she saw as significant in her life.  Family folks would become more than names in a family tree carefully charted, but more like people with flesh and blood and dreams and fears  – and yes, even heartbreaks.

I lost many good things the day my mother died, and that still has some painful thorns on occasion.  But more than that, I lost a slippery slope of conflict and despair, and that’s where the relief comes in.

We honored her with a Memorial Service in her church – the very first they’d ever had. Most folks choose to use a Funeral Home.  Ma had her final arrangements made at the funeral home ahead of time, with a life insurance policy that paid for almost everything.  There was another life insurance policy to cover what the first didn’t.  So, she was thoughtful about not leaving us one more mess of hers to clean up – the good person who lived with a mental illness having reined the most at the end.  We were able to carry her urn into the church, so we didn’t have those huge fees of moving a body.  That’s how we were able to give her the kind of service I am sure she’d have been thrilled to see and be a part of.

The ladies of the church served us a lovely buffet, and we made sure they got something back for their trouble. The memory was such a time of healing for all of us who had endured our collateral damage from her mental illness. We needed that more than I can say.  We could all gather, her children, her siblings, dear close friends and others, to celebrate the things we admired about her in complete safety for once.  If we did that in her hearing while she lived, it usually would end up being used as a springboard for her next bad behaviors – so we were all very careful about what we said in her hearing.

So that’s why, when Mother’s Day comes along, I will pray for all of the mother’s I know of in my life, first.  But then I shift to pray for all of the kids – young and old – who have mother’s with mental illness who aren’t getting help for it or managing it in healthy ways.  I get it, and it’s not deserved.  Mental illness is neither the fault nor responsibility of the children.  Even if they do something plainly wrong, the reactions will frequently be from the illness and rarely from a careful response of correction.

But – we can come out of it with amazingly impressive life skills, if we get help to fix what we missed through recovery programs like Codependents Anonymous (something I resorted to as a way of managing her erratic behavior), or other therapeutic options for good self-health and healing.  Once I got a good handle on what was healthy and how to live it in my life better, it helped me to know how to celebrate the best of my mother, without being unguarded against her lesser version of life.  I knew how to deal with the worst of her behaviors, though it still wasn’t a desirable thing to endure. It was messy, and my timing could be off, but it was more manageable.

She’s healed where she is now, and that’s a very good thing for me to focus on.  I don’t want to reflect her bad stuff to my children or anyone else.  So, it helps to remember that we laid that bad stuff to rest on that lovely May day of her Memorial.

Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.  We’re all doing well, and we miss the good moments with you.  We miss the hugs (but not the rummage sale gifts – jus sayin).  So glad you’re getting the hugs you missed from your long lost beloveds, now.

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Understanding and Work Concerns

IMG_20160107_082204250    When the first few hours of 2016 began, I saw someone post on Facebook about their word for the year. It was the word that they would focus on getting a better grip on, and some offered courage was their word, another faith, and yet another was for patience. I read the explanation, and realized it wasn’t just what you felt you were lacking in, but what you really wanted to experience in the coming year.
With that idea in mind, I realized that I honestly thought that Understanding would be my word.
I wanted to understand my beloveds more completely than I did. We’d all fallen out of touch again, and I wanted to remedy that. I need to know more about what they are identifying with, what they are longing for, what they laugh about, and what they are afraid of. I couldn’t answer those questions for anyone I valued, it seemed. Part of that was because my phone had limited minutes, and part of that was that we were all so very busy with life’s requirements: work, family responsibilities, chores, etc.
I also wanted them to understand me better. There were too many times where I was getting hurt by something that might have seemed harmless to my beloveds, but really landed hard on my tender places. I felt I wasn’t finding good ways to communicate what needed to be communicated about what hurts me, and what I longed after.
I have to attempt this and be ever mindful that I don’t want to fall into self centeredness, and that I am a recovering codependent where there’s a danger of trying to control others. Also the danger of rescuing others when they aren’t looking for a rescue = disrespect, and implies that they don’t have enough power of their own to work things out their way.
So, my options are to work on understanding them, and then wait and see if that contact helps them understand me better, too. I want to spend more time listening to them, so that they know they are heard and even validated if they were in doubt about their worth. I don’t want to compete with their narratives, as we are so often prompted to do. I know that many times people are just trying to show that they understand our predicaments, but it does just the opposite, really. It shows that you care more about your narrative than theirs. Worse, you may even have interrupted them before they were done relating their narrative. I see this all of the time, and work on keeping myself from doing it. I may fail here and there, but I’m alert to it, and working on it at least.
On second thought, Understanding may be the right word for more than a year, being honest. We’ll have to see how it works out.

* * *

    At work, it was sad to take down all of the Christmas decorations, and things looked a bit – blank. So, I went to Goodwill, looking for some inspiration, beginning with flowers in my vase. I love how the bouquet turned out very much, and it should be perfect right on through Valentine’s Day. I have some snowmen cups that I have put throat lozenges into for anyone who needs one, as well as sugar-free hard toffees. I have a cute snow couple cut out, too.

So, here are a few pictures from work, though I am “on furlough” for a few days until they get the funding worked out for my staffing agency to pay me to return. This is a challenging time for me, but – working with staffing companies is the best a woman at my age and stage can find. They pay me better than any job I’ve seen yet, and the work is exactly what I love to do: document editing, spreadsheet actions, and even some meetings and minutes to manage. It’s a blessing to find a job that has me doing exactly what I love to do, and pays me enough to enjoy a mediocre life, I admit it. It took me so many long years of adversity to get to mediocrity that I honestly soak up the unfamiliar comfort of it.

Which is why I’m a bit frazzled that I may be trying to live on Unemployment benefits if they don’t get the funding worked out (yes, I applied as soon as I was compelled to stay home).
So I pray a lot about getting back some equanimity and remind myself that God is the one who has it all in His control. He’s my Spouse and my provider. I have to stop fussing at Him and just trust Him like I know He’s died for me to prove his love. Well, that’s what prayer time is for, hm?IMG_20160106_172654570

Christmas Warmth is not Always Romance

I just feel like I have to rant a bit.  I am honestly tired of the Hallmark Channel making Christmas all about romance.  I really am annoyed with that.  It doesn’t even address rekindled romances with married couples who aren’t separated or divorced (as the movie The Bishop’s Wife does).  Most of us really enjoy watching stories about folks in situations like our own, and they aren’t delivering.

That’s the appeal of The Christmas Story, and that’s why it can play for a whole 24 hour period, knowing there will be a large enough audience for each hour of airtime. In that movie, Dad and Mom are quirky, but they seem to have a real affection for each other, and their kids, with an enthusiasm for life.  Add some holiday twists to their situation, and there you go!  It turns into something iconic for the season.  Even if we’re single, we don’t end up feeling lonely and left out, like a romance story can do.  We were once kids ourselves, and the story is told from the oldest child’s point of view.  So we become a bit nostalgic – and most of Christmas is about nostalgia. We can see how our parents may have been like his parents in some ways, and we snicker.  Or we just feel the warmth of remembering our parent’s enthusiasm for filling in their family roles.  If we’re parents now, we may see ourselves in his parent’s actions and cringe with a blush – but it’s all in good fun and utterly warmhearted.  These parents aren’t brutish or crass, but they are imperfect – the thing is that they are present and accounted for come what may.  Even if a pack of dogs eat the turkey – someone remembers the Chinese restaurant is open and gets the family there for dinner. That’s all any kid ever needs to feel solidly loved and good about who they are. To have parents who are present and don’t bail.

With every Hallmark movie turning into a romance story, they are turning many of us away in droves.  Young kids don’t want romance.  To them, the opposite sex is viewed with some suspicion.  They are either an utter bother, or they can be acceptable playmates – until they aren’t. So, all of those romance movies are not usually good for family viewing.

Some of us are happily single, or just not drawn into the fiction of romantic dialogs that no one can match in real life without a script (that’s another blog for another day).  I’m not too old for affectionate relationships with family and even good friends who I adore.  I just don’t enjoy watching a young couple I don’t know working out their romantic complications. I won’t enjoy their romance story in a vicarious way at all.  I have many friends who are my age who would push me away and say that they love a good romance; but Hallmark is cranking them out so cheaply that they aren’t even putting out GOOD romances.  So even these friends are sighing in discomfort and wishing there was better stuff to watch.

My point is that most of the world doesn’t revolve around romance, though there is a market for it if it is done well and in the right places.  You need a real story to go with the romance that caters to the rest of us,  – like Miracle on 34th Street did or as they did with The Lemon Drop Kid.  Or even as It’s a Wonderful Life worked.  There’s a romance in It’s a Wonderful Life, but the story is about how lives are valued. Since Christmas is an easy crisis point for anyone’s life – it’s become iconic and is watched and enjoyed by folks of all ages and stages.

You get something like White Christmas produced as a movie, with all of the over the top pageantry and a distinctively appealing song that wasn’t about romance, and that becomes the formula for success that keeps the family watching it over the years (though kids can be bored with the story, which makes it a good bedtime movie).

Some think they can’t make ‘em like that anymore “because the age of the musical is over”.  Tell that to the folks counting the revenues from Dirty Dancing and High School Musical (both 1 and 2).  There’s an audience, if the story is worthy, the production solid, talent pool dug deeply enough, along with the tunes being catchy and applicable to our lives.  Again, those were centered on romances, but there were enough other things going on to confound or enhance the romance angle that they could draw in those of us who aren’t drawn into romances.

There’s no real explanation for the attraction for A Charlie Brown Christmas beyond the need for something that draws us out of the clamor of the season. It reminds us that we don’t have to be perfect, or drawn into overspending thanks to smooth marketing, or even gathered in a group, to enjoy the holiday’s appeal.  If there’s anything else like that one out there, I don’t know what it could be.

What makes this all a bigger sore point for me, and the reason I am taking Hallmark to task more than the other producers of “Holiday Specials for Family Viewing”, is that I used to enjoy Hallmark’s television specials and looked forward to them every holiday season.  That was long before they had a channel all their own, though.  Now, I don’t even bother turning any of them on without checking to see what the story line is, first.  And every time I check these past few years – it’s some shallow storyline that is poorly produced and always just about a complicated romance – with no strong talent pool performing the script.  Even the commercials for these movies aren’t alluring.

Hallmark – are you listening?

Advent is Important to Me

There are some holidays that just thrill us to think of them.  Sometimes it’s because of a particular memory, and sometimes it’s just because of the thrill of the things that are traditional to the holiday.

One of my favorite holidays is Advent.  I separate it from Christmas, because Advent is my worship portion of that time of year.  This is where I take time out for my Creator who kept His word to all humanity, in spite of the centuries of time that it took to make it happen.  It’s enthralling to consider why God waited until all of humanity was able to know about the promised Messiah.  This was thanks to the Roman roads and authority that kept travel safe, and also promoted the transfer of knowledge between civilizations.  There needed to be a way for most of humanity to learn of God’s promise, and then of how it unfolded with a newborn birth of a babe in a manger.

There’s a song titled, “It’s About the Cross” that was popularly recorded by Philips, Craig and Dean, and I like it – but it’s wrong.  Advent is a great deal about the Promise coming true, more than the cross.  The cross is critical to the fulfillment of the Promise, that’s true.  But Advent is about preparing for the Messiah’s coming, and acknowledging that we needed Him.  The cross comes after that, and has a place all its own.  There’s no need to blend them, or there is a danger of overlooking the singular value of each occasion on its own.  The cross gets our focus at Lent and Easter, and it deserves separate consideration.

So, Advent is where I intentionally make a quiet place in time for me to ponder the significance of God’s promise to send a Messiah from Davidian lineage to overcome the enemy that caused Humanity’s fall.  This is where I consider that God chose to send His Son because no other person in time could do what needed to be done.  This is where I consider how he arrived at the decision to send Jesus – Yeshua in Hebrew – as a babe with a birth that would be witnessed and noted significantly by people of that time.  You have to hold a newborn infant closely, not just stand back in awe.  They must be embraced and given focused attention, or they will not thrive.  I’m reminded that my love for God has to be like that, close and with focus – or I will not thrive.

Traditionally, Europeans would use Advent wreaths for devotional expression during the four weeks preceding the celebration of the infant birth.  The wreath would lay on a table, or be suspended horizontally from a ceiling, with four candles on the wreath and one in the middle.  Coming from a European background, I embrace that tradition with its quiet influence.

As I raised my young children, we honestly enjoyed the Advent wreath ceremonies very much.  Some nights we might start out feeling pushed into something inconvenient.  But every time we were at the end of the worship activities, it felt a bit sad to blow out the candles and turn on the lights for all of us.  Sometimes we just didn’t do it right away.  We’d enjoy some treats and just visit a bit and talk about whatever we wanted to talk about.

There were some weeks that we missed lighting the newest candle.  That was ok, since there were other nights when we could light up more than one.  It was rare for us to miss the final week when all four candles would be lit.

Christmas, for me, was the secular and happy occasion that followed Advent.  I could allow Godly memes and themes to influence my decoration choices, and certainly my song lists; but I admitted that it was secular, and still joyous and happy.  It was where I could shop and give gifts, and dress up for happy occasions, as well as gather with family and friends for good food and perhaps some games and teasing.

Once all of the children were grown and flown, and I was on my own, I would choose to set up an Advent wreath and forgo the decking of a tree.  My time was limited with work or perhaps my health wasn’t up to the work of a tree.  A wreath was simpler and more possible.  It was also more beneficial to me, than the hustle and bustle of the secular holiday.

Some folks are working hard on making Christmas their act of worship, and I don’t think that they are wrong at all.  I just couldn’t make it work for me.  Just as there are so many different ways to decorate a Christmas tree, there are so many ways for people to celebrate God in their lives.  All of them are valid if what is being done stays focused on God more than the ceremonies or the decorations.

I couldn’t say that was true of my ability to celebrate Christmas most of the time.  I certainly enjoyed more than one church program, service or musical performance, and basked in the warmth of the Pastor’s blessing as the congregation was reminded of our Creator’s intentions during this season.  I’ve also positively pointed out to my children how the evergreen trees point toward their Creator, and how they are evergreen because they never die – like God’s love for us.  I have definitely had a nativity scene for them to set up and discuss as well.  But, it all tended to get overwhelmed in the holiday blur of baking all of the right foods, hurrying to each of the events, and ensuring we were dressed appropriately for the pictures that would be taken, as well as having all of the gifts bought and wrapped for the folks we didn’t want to forget.  Advent never seemed to have that problem – for me.

Even a huge snowfall that might ruin the plans for the special visit with family or the musical event at church, or – whatever we thought we had to hurry to – even those plans didn’t matter if we chose to just stay home and light up the candles on the wreath when I had a family.  As a single, senior aged, woman, it still doesn’t matter so much to me that it’s just me lighting the candles, reading scripture, and praying to God.  This is where I keep my heart in the right condition to enfold the Messiah (or even letting the Messiah make my heart right to enfold Him) who came so long ago.

If I get no gifts, I know that the biggest gift was given to me before I knew I needed it.  If I can give no other gifts, I try to offer the one I received much later than it was given.  The gospel message and the offer of a Savior instead of a Judge.  If I have no decorations, I will revel in the ones that others have worked on displaying, and let them know, when I can, how much it touched me to see and enjoy their efforts.

So, Advent is my favorite holiday at this time of year.  How about you?  What do you like most about this time of year, and what makes it consistently special even through a hard time of austerity?

 

Why is it Bland if it Doesn’t Burn?

I enjoy cooking when I’m not under some deadline, have insufficient ingredients for the meal I want to make (and so must use brain cells to be creative), or when it’s just for myself.  I think it’s one of my love languages, to cook something tasty for someone I love.  It’s a huge blessing when they like it, and compliment it.

So, as I have been reading the hashtag about how white cooks serve only bland food, I admit I giggled first (thinking of all the bland cooks I know), and then I got a bit riled.

It was funny at first, because I have met some wives who married men who won’t eat anything but the blandest of foods.  So that’s what they’ve been forced to prepare and serve.  I also remember when there weren’t so many options for frozen meals that were tasty or affordable.  You usually went to a restaurant or cafe to eat when you didn’t eat at home.  Or you could order take out (pizza, asian food, etc).  So there were a lot of lazy cooks or inexperienced cooks who didn’t use more than vinegar, sugar, butter, salt and pepper for their flavorings.  When things got tight, the butter and sugar might not be so freely used.  So, sometimes it was economy that made the difference.

What riled me is when so many of the comments under that hashtag talked about how only Caucasian cooks would have such flavorless food, and I saw a lot of references to “adding some heat” to improve the food that was served.  How does making your mouth burn turn into adding flavor?

I am very plainly a “foodie” and my size shows it.  I have a spice cabinet that made my sister’s eyes pop when she saw it, and my friend laugh as they unpacked it for me during a move a few years ago.  I believe in seasoning food to add flavor and am not shy about using paprika, lavender, garlic or even cumin to different foods to see what it does to make the natural flavors pop.  At no time does anyone need to gasp and grab a glass of water to make me smile and think I’ve delivered a good dish to serve.  I want them to really taste their food, and the seasonings or spices that I add.  If I used too much, I like to hear that, too.  I’ll go easier next time, and nudge the recipe back a bit.

But my ire changed to giggles as I remembered what my foster father taught us so many years ago.  He was a life long history student, and had a passion for the arcane facts of each social group he could find information about.  When we kids happened to ask, “why do hot climates serve hot spicy food?”  He was forced to wait (by Mom) until after dinner to tell us.

While she removed the debris of dinner, he explained with a grin, “It’s because in the hot climates, meat spoils faster.  So they use spice to both hide the flavor of spoiled meat, and to make it more possible to eat without getting severely ill.  The English began using a lot of curry when they were in India for just that reason.  There’s a letter between English officers in a book upstairs where they were telling each other to have the cooks learn from the natives how to use it for the meat that would spoil when it was shipped from England if it wasn’t salted or in a brine.”

So- I had to laugh at the thought that those who complain about people who allow the flavor of meat to be lightly seasoned so only the meat flavors are savored, are generally touting the cooking habits of those who had to serve spoiled meats.

Well – I’m glad that they can enjoy it.  I’m also going to take a pass on that food – with a private grin.

Happy Hopes – I Have Them

As each new month begins I review a list of goals from the previous month that I call my Happy Hopes list.  I mark out the ones I was able to achieve with a date, and maybe a brief note or name of someone who helped me attain that goal.  Then I save it, save it again under the new month’s name and year, and then make any changes I want.  I might drop off an item, or add new ones.  I’ll include songs or books I want to buy, or even crochet patterns that I wish to make.

While some folks make lists of resolutions for the coming year, I work on goals that I want to focus on, in case I come into some extra ca$h or even see an opportunity that I might have missed if I hadn’t stayed aware of that goal.   Some of the goals are nothing money can buy, but are more prayer focuses – like what kind of job I want to find, better health for a chronically ill family member, or a goal for a friend who wants to sell her home noted so I can celebrate it with her.  At the end of the two column list, I have a place where “Unlisted Joys Happened Here.”  That’s where I put the things I either didn’t dare ask for (like a gently used living room set, that we got from a friend who was bored with them), or that I didn’t even know to watch for (like a trip to visit family in CO with other family members).

My husband and I began this list back in the 80’s when our children were small, because we often forgot what we were working so hard for.  We were also frustrated when we’d get our tax return money, and forget what we really wanted to use it for.  We’d decided to follow another family’s example, and stop using it for paying bills (“That’s what a budget is for,” the father stated).  Instead, they’d buy something they really wanted but often couldn’t manage to save up for, like a new bed, a down payment on a car, or even a special trip.  After two years of not remembering our best ideas, I offered to keep a list.

At first, the list wasn’t really refreshed much, except twice a year.  Sometimes, the things listed were too high, and we weren’t noticing the small conquests, so that’s when the second part appeared.  Since we were really busy once the kids got into double digit ages, we only refreshed the list twice a year.  Once in January, and once in July.  I’d ask the kids for ideas of things to go on the list, and they offered a few things: a computer, fishing trips, bikes, etc.  It was a great place to look for gift ideas sometimes.

Finally, once the family left and it was just me, I began making them closer together until now I am creating one for each month on the computer.  I actually began the electronic ones in the late 90’s when we got our first computer.  So, these are all easy to look at and remember how things have changed, and how things came together at different times.

This is my best way of counting my blessings without comparing my life to anyone else’s.  It seems to me that comparison really is a trap for discontentment.  But to just see how God has worked or where I’ve been able to focus – that really has been a blessing to me.

Here’s a sample of one from long ago, so you can see how simple it is.

Happy Hopes Screenshot

If I want to lose weight, I say how much, though I’ve learned not to put the whole amount down.  Instead, I will put the amount I might lose in three months, or two.  Then I might note how close I am to that goal before making the next month’s list from the old one.

So, this is my way of making time count the best way that I can, but still allow myself some room for surprises and not to kick myself too hard if something doesn’t come to reality.  I have the rest of the list that might be turning into reality, and that’s a real joy when I want to review some time spent in my life :).  It’s not the same as a bucket list, because I think it’s more practical and more focused on immediate possibilities.

What do you think of my Happy Hopes list?  What is one thing you would put on the list if it were yours?

Copyright © 2014 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.

Hoping for Better – Like Many Others

Happy New Year!  May you enjoy the fun that winter can bring, and may it be with good friends and making warm memories with family members ♥.  A healthy life should be all about moving toward something positive and very little about moving away from something negative.  With that goal in mind, you usually have to discern what your starting point is, so this day is the day I take some time to reflect on where I am in life, and how to move forward with a healthy positive stride.  This will include seeing where my faith is centered, too.

As a child, New Year’s Day didn’t really mean so much.  I liked the idea of parents going to a party, and my siblings and I having a private one of our own.  We used to make party hats and put them on our stuffed animals, having a kind of contest to see who made the best hat.  They were each so different, that we simply couldn’t choose one as the best.  We were happy that we’d made them and that our parents seemed to like them the next day.

As I became a young adult, it mattered more how I celebrated the day.  I didn’t want to be snubbed from any party, and I didn’t want to just stay home and do nothing.  It was supposed to be merry and give me and my husband a reason to dress up and act our age with people we enjoyed.  Once the children came along, we either had parties for them or with them at church.  One particular memory was when we had my sister’s kids as well as our own for the night at home.  One game that was my husband’s idea: tossing balls of clean socks into a clean potty chair.  The lid acted as a backstop and of course the older kids had the better chances of winning.  John (my husband) even tossed socks at the kids to heighten the hilarity.  All of the kids had fun, and I’m talking kids from ages 5 to 2 years.

As the children grew up, they went to their own parties, and finally my marriage was over as well.  As a single person, the fun was harder to find at church or anywhere else unless you were dating someone.  I honestly didn’t have that intention for a long time, and once the intention was there I had no candidates.  For most of the last decade, I’ve simply stayed home and talked with people and friends in chat rooms, or just enjoyed the Christmas tree with some wine before praying the year in.  It was quiet and gave me some sense of closure for the year that was ending, along with the growing question of: “where has the time gone?”

See, I’m a Senior now and that surprises me in some ways.  I’m not surprised by my age at all, and I wouldn’t turn back the clock for one minute!  What surprises me is how different being a Senior is, from what I’d ever imagined it would be.  How oddly old memories court for attention, and how few options there are for making significant new ones.  I somehow thought that I would have more choices than I do, and that saddens me.  But on New Year’s Eve, I find myself looking back over the year that went by so quickly – and I count so many more painful losses than I have before.  I am realizing that this aging stuff takes a lot more courage than I thought it did.   I also thought that my faith would be in a different place, along with more satisfaction with my church relationships.

The hardest realization is that the welcomes are more and more diminished.  As I talk with a few of my friends of the same age, I see that they are groping through that realization as well.  Where we’d like to go, we’re not usually wanted or welcomed.  Some of the places our spirits want to go to, our bodies will fail us – so we can only hope that someone we know will go and we might live it out vicariously if they will only happily share the memory with us.  Our church experiences are suffering as well.  Fewer and fewer options are available because of our growing list of accommodations that seem to frustrate others in ways we’re trying not to get frustrated about (how’s that for a frustrating circle of woe?)!

I’m not whining here, nor am I damning anyone.  I’m just putting my surprise into words.  Somehow, I didn’t realize that I may have been just as guilty of letting my elders languish when they might have blossomed with inclusion.  I remember trying to include the ones I could relate to (not all people – young or old are compatible to our lives, remember).  I remember smiles and kind declines, and decided that it might be that I led a far too boisterous lifestyle for them to enjoy being around (That may still be true, lol).  I now see that there were times I might have been more willing to shift things into a mode that would help those elders enjoy the ride a bit more – had I cared a bit more to do it.

I had thought that not having grandchildren might be part of what is missing for me, but my friends with grandchildren say that “fun” part only lasts for a time – then they (the grandkids) are too busy with building their lives  to include someone of Senior years.  Some friends have had their children or grandchildren move away, and other friends have willingly moved away from their children and grandchildren to avoid contact (I find that the most sad of all).  The point is that some of these seniors with no grandkids to participate with are still able to find a good stride in life if they have an adequate income, good friends to enjoy, and most of their health is good.

There is much I need to find out about how to have a more enriching life as a older lady, and one of them is certainly avoiding becoming isolated.  Laughably, I have just done that to myself because I had to leave my old home and move in with my son – in a new state and town I’ve never lived in before.  I guess I’ll have to figure out some creative ways to get connected with a group in the new place asap!

More ruminations to come: Happy Hopes Lists!

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