Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT, Writing

TToT: Thirty-five For Me and Five For Her Headache, #Blogiversary #10Thankful

Here, I hope to leave something behind when I go. Here, I won’t look back with any shame or regret at what I’ve said, what I’ve written. I am proud to be Her Headache.

I am
thankful
for this blog and all those who’ve found me here and read what I’ve written on these virtual pages, ever since that 2014 February of my thirtieth birthday.

As for how to celebrate my five-year anniversary with this space, I couldn’t quite settle on how to best show my gratitude and my pride on all that this blog has brought to my life.

In the beginning, it all started with me showcasing my
BUCKET LIST
of items I’d wanted to experience.

Since my kidney transplant, twenty-two years ago, I am all about not taking each day for granted and my list was a way of stating my purpose and no longer settling for less out of fear. Things like chronic pain and disability threatened to take away a life worth living, but I fought against that and found this blog as a part of that.

In this last five years, I’ve been lucky to check off several things on the list, though I am enjoying the ups and downs of the journey, as I’ve learned that to be the best part of the whole thing really.

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Still, I can’t stop wondering where life will take me and so here we go with the review of the things I have done and seen in five years that I may not have dreamt I’d do, during the most difficult days in my past:

I am thankful for the teacher I’ve had, for the last three years, since I decided to take a chance to learn to play an instrument in my thirties. Violin was beautiful to me and I wanted to learn to play with a bow, to produce those kinds of heartbreakingly gorgeous sounds I’d heard from the violin for years. I was drawn to it since I gave up on clarinet back in high school. (Too much air needed, blowing into that thing, which was hard on my head, prone to headaches already.)

She is leaving on a new adventure soon and I must face that thing I often dread, “Change”.

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I am thankful for my violin and the progress I’ve made so far, even when I get down on myself for not learning more, faster.

I am thankful for my autumn of 2018 visit to the Maritimes, Canada’s eastern provinces, even my short visit and the limited bit of Nova Scotia I saw. I am thankful I got to place a small item, a token of my appreciation for her gift of iconic literary characters like Anne Shirley in Canada’s cultural landscape, on her gravestone. I got to write a note of my gratitude, from one writer to another, in the guest book in the house Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in. I was brave to finally state, in writing, that I think of myself as a writer, even up next to someone as talented as Montgomery.

I am thankful I got to walk along those Prince Edward Island beaches, the coastline and the smell of the sea. Red Point. The End of the World P.E.I. and the force of the wind at that spot, lighthouse next to a drop down to fearsome ocean roaring down below me.

In these last five years, (not only out east) but I’ve traveled to Mexico, Yukon, British Columbia, and back to Florida for the fourth time.

I am thankful I got to make it to my twenty-year anniversary with my kidney, from my father, and that I got to celebrate that with him and my family and friends, zip lining at my favourite Niagara Falls on the Canada side. I hope to zip line in more places around the world in future.

I am thankful I technically did get my writing available in bookstores, when I wrote a short piece which was included in a print magazine called Misadventures. It was only available in Barnes & Noble, in the US, so a friend went into one and took pictures for me of that magazine on the shelf. I hold that book in my hands and am proud to know I have writing inside of it.

I thought it fitting to make my five-year blogiversary into a TToT post, one of the best things to come out of this blog since 2015 when I discovered other bloggers doing it and I joined their exclusive TToT blogging community.

Thank you, TToT comrads and all of you, for visiting me here. You’re the best.

All jokes aside on the wisdom of getting older, as I turn thirty-five and look back and look ahead, I know the fun is in the journey, not necessarily its destination. Still, I will always write about it all here, or for as long as I am meant to,

Where will I be in five years? And, how will I have gotten there?

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Three Years and Counting: Blogging and Birthdays, #TBT

So, here’s the thing: Blogging –
Everybody’s Doing It,
at least according to Brevity Magazine.

But, you know what, so what! I like it. It’s helped me grow as a writer, take first steps and chances for exposure, possible ridicule from which to learn and grow from, and has produced wondrous connections with readers and other bloggers/writers,
starting with this one.

I started out with this blog, afraid to be a writer, like the post I’ve just included speaks about.

And here I am, three years into it, and I love having this space that is mine to say what I want to say.

I’ve been writing down several quotes of a particular kind lately. I’ve been using them for motivation to keep trying new things and striving for more for myself.

This is a big year for me, but I am trying really hard to hold onto the proper amount of perspective in my life.

I started the year 2017 on a high note, in several ways, but now I am marking three years here and I like to think on where I was, one year ago and then one year before that, when this blog felt like the huge step to be taking, as
I left my twenties and entered my thirties.

Last year I rounded up all the posts from the previous twelve months of
1000 Voices Speak For Compassionlove/
that I’d written. I thought it would be a nice way to commemorate two years of having this blog.

For my one year anniversary before that,
I gave thanks.

So, now what? Where am I with Her Headache? Where am I headed?

I blog less here during the week these days. Monday through Friday I often use Facebook as a blog of sorts instead, one where I write shorter things, reflections and observations. I am writing a lot of other things now and it’s still sometimes tough to decide when to write a particular piece here or if I should save it for possible submission or publication elsewhere. It’s nice having this space to come and write and share my thoughts, but I’m learning that sometimes it’s best to hold onto an idea and to find a different home for it, one that may help me grow as a writer, somewhere else.

My weekends are still for blogging:

I finish sentences on Fridays,

write stream of consciousness stuff on Saturday,
and
participate in the sharing of song lyrics on Sundays.

Of course, I still feel strongly about writing down the things I am thankful for. I use that as my weekly checkin point.

I can see how much I’ve achieved here, when I look back to a year ago, and I like having that perspective. I don’t know what 2017 will bring, though my plans are in the works. I do hope I will be able to look back at those, whatever they may turn out to be, from this position, in 2018 and beyond.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions

We Are One!

Happy One-year Anniversary 1000 Speak.

#1000Speak for Compassion

Although 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion had its first link-up on the 20th of February 2015, the birth of our initiative was one year ago today!

January 12th was the day it all began, was the day around 200 or so people responded to the invitation to join us in writing about compassion on an unspecified day. In A Year of Compassion, for our link-up in December, I wrote about some highlights of 2015, so check out that post to see some of what we’ve done.

And remember our link-up this month is about FORGIVENESS. If you aren’t sure what to write about, check out our prompts post.

So we are one  year old, but we are also one in another way. We are over 1600 members, but all with one vision – to create a world filled with compassion, to feel compassion for others and for ourselves…

View original post 245 more words

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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

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It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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15, 20, 25, #SoCS

“Is there anything to feel. Is it pain that makes you real. Cut me off before it kills me. Long way down. I don’t think I’ll make it on my own.”
–Goo Goo Dolls

SoCS

Another Saturday has come round and that means it’s time for another Stream of Consciousness:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/10/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-1015/

I need as a part of my week.

Celebrating!

I guess that’s kind of like “Winning!” and Charlie, wherever you are, if ever there were stream of consciousness, you were it.

I am celebrating a few things this week. First of them is the Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, where my family come together, eat my mother’s delicious dinner, and have a whole lot of fun and good times. I am certainly winning with this to look forward to.

Perhaps I will write about the events of the day’s celebrating in next week’s SoCS post.

As for other reasons I am celebrating, this week just so happened to be the anniversaries for three important things in my life.

It has been 15 years, this week, since the very first episode of Gilmore Girls aired for the very first time.

I can’t believe how fast time passes me by. Really.

I know many people think this show is irritating, but I was immediately, or nearly so, just so drawn into its characters and premise, from almost the very beginning.

I was glad to see that television could still be original. The writing was snappy and witty. So many references to literature, culture, music, and so many things I did not know, would go right over my head, but these girls seemed to come up with this stuff, like stream of consciousness was could and did come just so unbelievably naturally to them in their everyday lives.

There was just the right amount of drama and fun. The town and its residents were wacky and out-there. I most definitely did not have that relationship with my own mother, could not have had a more different family situation than the Gilmores’. That was the attraction, I suppose.

Watching that show was a way I could bond with a friend, even when I felt like I was losing touch with her and the rest of my world, in all other ways at the time. She and I could still get together and have an all night Gilmore Girls marathon, cup after cup of coffee consumed in her basement, until we both ended up falling asleep in the early hours of the morning anyway.

Back when I taped every single episode on VHS and then began collecting DVD.

Next, going back 20 years and this week in time. The huge Goo Goo Dolls album, “A Boy Named Goo” was released and this rock group was my best wishes/going away/good luck with your kidney transplant gift, presented to me by my seventh grade class, at the party they had for me before I left.

Sure…it was stolen…when my house was robbed…as I found out my transplant had to be postponed…due to a sudden and mysterious seizure I’d just had…but the robbers couldn’t have known, what that CD meant to me, or I’m sure they would have stayed home and lived to rob another day.

Insurance bought back all our stuff in the end, but I loved my present and loved the music.

Speaking of this particular Goo Goo Dolls album…I really first heard their songs on the season six finale of the show that turns 25 this week.

This week in history…Beverly Hills 90210 first aired and this time I was not there, would not be for a few years.

I wanted to write a whole post to explain, to commemorate the value of this show for my life during the 90s, but then I fear sounding frivolous and silly. How could some glam and superficial show about privileged teenagers, living in Beverly Hills, how could this mean something so great?

Maybe you don’t ask, but I write about it here, think stream of consciousness is the perfect time to write about it.

My sister caught on first, but we were both still quite young in the early to mid 90s. We weren’t prevented from watching the more adult type shows.

Summer episodes, at the Beverly Hills Beach Club were the summer later, after the show aired on Fox. It was then that it took off and the phenomenon started.

My decade would soon be shaped by 90210 and its 10 season run. I started to watch the recorded episodes my sister had, braille labelling the VHS tapes and watching the shows, over and over again.

When I would eventually get sick, in 96/97 I would watch to escape, to imagine I was a beautiful, blond bombshell with a credit card and a boyfriend. Yes, I use the word bombshell. I had the posters and the dolls. Barbie became Beverly Hillized. I was stuck in a world between little girl playing with Barbie and the grown world of nighttime dramas. Every Wednesday at 8:00 I would watch, I would record. I would learn the lines by heart.

Kelly’s mother: “What do you want to do?”

Kelly Taylor: “Smell the roses. Maybe ponder the question of why God bothers to give us life in the first place when all he seems to do is fill it with pain and suffering.”

–Kelly Taylor/Jennie Garth

This line made me cry. Over and over, when pain and fear in my own life were at their worst, during the 90s and beyond.

I wanted to acknowledge these three events, for the role they all three played in the significant moments in my young life.

Celebrating a show or an album and its anniversary and poignancy in my life is really celebrating a feeling.

But I guess, now, I’m really just rambling.

Long Way Down

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Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions

You Are My Sunshine

You know those cinnamon hearts so common for Valentine’s Day?

He carried a clear plastic heart, but instead of filling it with candy, he placed inside the heart a picture of her – his dear wife of fifty-five years.

He had the words of the song written out on a piece of paper inside with her picture.

You Are My Sunshine

She was taken from him, suddenly, as is often the case.

He lost his sunshine and I lost my grandmother.

How can I make it possible, even through my precious words, for someone to understand just how special she was?

I had dealt with death, more than once, but I felt entirely unprepared for it when it came around again.

She has been gone for ten years and I wish I could tell her about my life since that day she had to go.

The Ties That Bind

I didn’t get to say goodbye. I just figured I would visit her the next day, either in hospital or out. It never really occurred to me that she would never come home again.

I heard my mom on the phone and I heard the news. I would not be visiting her in the hospital the next day.

My cousin stopped in on his lunch hour, as he worked nearby, and was speaking to her. My uncle and grandpa stood beside the bed. My cousin looked away for one second and when he looked back at her, she was silent and would not speak another word. He said her name, but she was gone.

I knew it wasn’t good news. I laid down on my bed and let the tears fall onto my pillow, unconcerned with the business of wiping them away. What was I going to do without her?

Her last diary entry

***

Thur. 21 32 degrees low 19
Telephone repair man here at 5 o’clock. Phone out since Sat morning, July 16th.
Caned 1 jar pickles..

Wed. 20 31 degrees low 20
I got pictures developed. Janet took of our 55th Ann. (tried out new canon camera)

Tues. 19 33 degrees low 21
I washed 2 loads. My right big tow sore. We rested in afternoon. I using Myoflex on arms & legs. It relieves pain.

Mon. 18 32 degrees low 22
Dad picked first pickles. All big. I cut some up 5 jars caned.
I phoned Connie at Dr.’s . She has to make an app for 2-D-Echo Cardiogram for me.
Craig came at nit to say Good-bye. He leaving to go to camp tomorrow till school starts, at Lions Head.

***

She kept a diary, as she called it, on her own terms. She did it her own way. I admired that about her.

I sat in their bedroom, with a cousin and we discussed our memories, and I wondered if my uncles or cousins might have any objections with me keeping her diaries. I certainly could not read the entries, but I wanted this one part of her, her memories and her words, even as I was being forced to let go of the rest.

I wanted to write the tribute to her. I wanted to be the one to read it at her funeral. I worked hard at what I wanted to say about her, writing it out and printing it out in braille, so I could take the words up there with me. I wasn’t going to draw a blank.

The three of us went up to the microphone. It was me, my sister, and my cousin. If I got choked up, my sister could take over. Our cousin was a back-up, just in case she too could not speak. I broke down a few times throughout, but after taking a few seconds to recover myself, I got through it. My usual issue with being unable to speak when I cried did not seem to be happening now.

As we stood at her grave, her sisters gave me flowers. I wanted to put my copy of the tribute, in braille, with her in the casket. I hoped my words were enough to show what she had brought to my life.

She was truly the only one who understood. She fussed over me when I was in pain because she knew my pain better than most. She had lived with her own pain since her children were young.

Many people didn’t understand it and she felt alone. I felt alone too. Together, we weren’t alone anymore. I feel alone sometimes because she is now gone.

I’ve lost something, an innocence not from childhood, but from her presence in my life. I miss it and I miss her.

I miss her singing.

She had a sweet naive quality about her, instilled from her upbringing in the tiny corner of the world she’d always lived in, but her many travels (Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, Australia) were just as important to the two of them. I love travel because of all the times I hoped she would sneak me along in one of their suitcases.

She loved Niagara Falls and she taught me to love it too.

Finally, we would go to Cuba together. She loved Varadero. She loved to watch the people in the hotel’s open-air lobby. She loved to stroll the town, not remaining in the resort the whole time. She loved to meet the people and to speak with them. Her open, friendly nature made other people feel at ease. She wasn’t afraid to try new things, no matter how old she got.

All the times we would stay awake long into the early morning. We would talk and before we knew it, it would be late. My grandpa could be heard snoring from the couch in the family room or in the spare bedroom across the hall. He could sleep for hours. She didn’t sleep well, for years, from pain and other things. I think she enjoyed having someone to talk to.

She said it so sincerely. She said she knew, somewhere out there, one day there would be the right man for me, someone who would take care of and love me for me. I believed her then.

Sometimes – I don’t know if I believe her anymore. I feel like I let her down, as her words and the reassurance in her voice once felt like the greatest comfort, but of which I can no longer hear.

I have only a far off impression of her telling me that, back at the back of my brain and it feels like the confidence in her statement, which she sounded so certain of that night, well I hold onto her and her words of love and comfort and I cling to that purity of hope she had, the sort of positive and optimistic nature she passed on to my mother.

I have my mother still and for that I am blessed because she continues to offer hope.

All I learned about love from my grandma is still in there somewhere.

It feels like more of a rarity now, with all the modern conveniences and technologies, whether that’s actually the truth I don’t know. I hope it isn’t.

But love, like the sort she and my grandpa had in each other, that must be proceeded by hope.

Love. Marriage. I stopped pretending those weren’t things I wanted, like having a bucket of cold water dumped, suddenly, over my head.

It’s something to hope for…something, worth risking failure for.

No matter how painful those failures may be.

I don’t know if what they had, the kind of love and connection, if that really even exists anymore. It’s rare, I know that much. It existed in a time long gone now, as fast-paced as things move these days. It’s a vanishing world of which they lived.

I often feel stuck between the beliefs she had, the religious woman of faith she was, and all she used to tell me and the modern world I live in. I sometimes don’t know what to believe, what I believe, but having her inside me somewhere, I know I follow my heart.

His heart was all wrapped up in her. When she went first, he would carry her photo in that Valentine’s Day heart, and for five more years he lived. She was his heart and he was hers, and now I think I will go visit their graves because writing this isn’t getting me to where I’d hoped.

Ruby Red

Without her here to read what I write, I can’t quite get over these last ten years she’s been gone.

After the funeral and all the family gatherings stopped, a stillness and a silence fell over my mother and me in the kitchen, as we wondered where to go from there. What to do now, without her?

Ten years, flying by like nothing now. I wish I could feel like she’s not really gone, as long as I remember her and write about her.

I need to hear her in myself when I clear my throat. I need to recognize my own naivete, of which I got from her. I need to run my hands over her diary and feel the indentation of her hand writing on the pages within.

Since I began my blog and knew this anniversary was coming, I started wanting the day to get here for me to write, assuming I would write a ten year tribute, building on the one I wrote the day we said goodbye, but I guess it’s something different. It’s everything I’ve thought about her and the things I’ve learned since losing her.

It always comes back to the two of them, for me, and the life they shared for more than fifty years. I wanted to find someone I could love like they loved each other. That was all fifteen-year-old me really wanted.

She was a warm woman and a bright light to all who loved her.
Ruby Witzel, 1929-2005

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

The first week of June showed me just how thankful I am for everything in my life. Here’s why:

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday: for precious gifts and beautiful flashbacks.

I was babysitting my nephew. I can’t believe how much he’s grown, over these last few years. He celebrates his third birthday this summer, but it feels like just yesterday that he was born and I was there the moment he came into the world.

Ordinary Miracles

As the first year of his life flew by, many times I used to hold him while he slept. I did this, the first few weeks, at night so my sister could get a few hours of restful sleep and then many times afterward. He used to sleep against my chest, so small, peaceful, and still.

As I was babysitting him this week, he fell asleep in the afternoon, for the nap he still takes and I decided to have a little rest with him.

I am thankful for the chance to feel him sleeping on my chest, maybe for the last time. I held him tight and felt his steady breathing as he slept and it brought back those early memories, reminding me of those early days as his aunt.

Also, I am thankful for old friends and my desire to stay in touch.

I have been afraid to contact this one certain old friend of mine recently. I got over my ridiculous fear, borne of unnecessary worry that I might be bothering her, and I am glad I did.

I was worried over nothing, like usual, and I got to here her voice and feel better about things I was letting make me crazy these past several weeks. I also got to hear her remarkable newborn baby daughter through the phone.

Wednesday: for countless opportunities for reinvention.

I get the sudden urge, every year around this time (for reasons of which I will explain a few thankful’s down) to make a change, to reinvent myself and do something bold and daring.

This doesn’t always work out like I hope it will, but I did decide to cut off my long hair and go short, at least through the hot summer months.

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It’s only hair, after all. It will grow back, if and when I want it to.

Along with this, I am thankful for the fact that I’ve got my very own hair stylist in the family.

Okay okay – so she hasn’t yet agreed to sign on as my personal, daily stylist, but I’m wearing her down, slowly.

It sure would be nice to have someone to do my hair every morning, as I have so much trouble knowing what looks good and thus, I rarely do anything with it at all.

For now I am just happy to have a cousin with a lovely salon here in town.

KEEP CALM AND GET YOUR HAIR DONE

It’s a place I can go, where I know the stylist and trust her to do a good job.

Also, I am thankful for the fresh and plentiful food I get to eat.

As I ate dinner out with my father, we sat in the warm June air of the evening, out on the patio.

He read from the newspaper, an article about the play of Anne Frank that we are going to see in a few weeks, and it made me think of Anne. I know this article was just about the actress who plays the role, but I couldn’t help thinking about the real family and the young girl who were stuck in that attic all those years and the war they were all in.

I have been watching a lot about World War II lately actually. June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day also. I know the food shortages that went on and the starvation. I know it is still a problem around the world.

I am thankful for a fresh salad. I ate my salad, out on that patio, and let my taste buds fully take in the fresh, crispness of the lettuce. I had a huge menu of items to choose from, right there in front of me and at my disposal. Not all today nor in days past are/were quite so lucky.

Thursday: for the release of new songs and albums.

This week I discovered music from a music group and an artist I listen to.

On June 2nd the newest Florence + The Machine album came out (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) and also the newest single by LOLAWOLF.

The first has a voice infused with raw power. This song by Florence,

“What Kind of Man”,

had me finding a place and a way of releasing a little bit of my anger. We all need this from time to time, which helps us learn what we are most thankful for once more.

Also, I am thankful that I can share interesting music with my brother, when on a rare occasion it is me sharing with him what I’ve found, not the other way round.

I showed him this song from LOLAWOLF,

“Every F—in Day”,

which is the band of Lenny Kravitz’s daughter – Zoe Kravitz. It’s a strange song, likely not to everybody’s taste, but it’s the weird songs I send my brother’s way, just to see what he thinks.

I’m thankful for the tiny perfection of baby clothes. I got to pick some out for a little girl I already love and I haven’t even met her yet, but she is the daughter of someone I couldn’t love more if she were my own sister.

I love clothes, and these small garments are perfection, just like the little beings who wear them.

Baby clothes are so cute and I have only really gotten the chance to buy them, on any regular basis, in the last five years. I hope to buy even more now.

This includes the softest of soft little baby blankets.

Friday: for anniversaries, good health, and lack of dialysis.

I couldn’t let a week of things I’m thankful for go by, specifically this particular week, without mentioning the importance June 5th has to my past, my now, and my future health and well-being.

I wrote about it just the other day on my blog, my thoughts on this particular June 5th.

It’s now eighteen years and counting since I received a kidney transplant. My father donated his kidney to his youngest daughter and I owe him more than most children owe their parents.

June is Father’s Day for many fathers, but for myself and my dad it can’t quite compare with our anniversary.

Most fathers and daughters don’t have anniversaries. That is what we call it, but in many ways (like I said in “New Month, New Me”, I also think of June 5th, 1997 as my birthday of sorts. It was the day when my life began again, after feeling so sick for the previous couple of years. It was one of those life-changing days that you look back on as being when your life was forever altered, one of those days when your life would never be as it was.

So I am thankful to my father. He went above and beyond what a father usually does and he gave me a new lease on life.

I hope I’ve made him proud of me since then and that I continue to do so. Our connection as father and daughter grows ever deeper.

Saturday: for vanilla lattes.

McDonald’s really does make the best ones. Who’s with me?

So thanks to:

Lizzi and the rest of the Ten Things of Thankful group.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone and don’t forget to be thankful for your health when it is good.

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