Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

It’s only been days… April 27, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Grief,Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:50 pm
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It’s only been a matter of days in which my world tilted on its’ axis… a mere 134 days.  I still have my step-mom (thank God)… I still have my other half/my sister and my wonderful collection of brothers… but my parents are gone.  It feels both like forever and yesterday.  I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever knew, but I’m more vulnerable than I expected.  The dichotomy of grieving while continuing to live is not lost on me… but it can be exhausting.  

The numbers of days is daunting when listed out:

  •  48 days between Mimi’s death and Daddy’s death (12/15/16 & 2/1/17)
  • 23 days between Mimi’s death and her funeral (12/15/16 & 1/7/17)
  • 25 days between Mimi’s funeral and Daddy’s death (1/7/17 & 2/1/17)
  • 15 days between Mimi’s funeral and the last time we saw Daddy (1/7/17 & 1/22/17)
  • 10 days between when we saw Daddy and when he died (1/22/17 & 2/1/17)
  • 10 days between Daddy’s death and his funeral (2/1/17 & 2/11/17)
  • 134 days since Mimi died (to 4/28/17)

I just got back from a cousins weekend at the beach.  It was perfect and raw and wonderful and heart-wrenching.  There were bittersweet moments when I could envision how much my mom would have been so happy.  There were moments that I know would have driven her crazy because getting onto the beach would have truly been a physical ordeal.  I also know that I felt the presence of the three Mimi’s (sisters Jody, Jean, and Gwenn) in so many ways throughout the weekend that it was worth everything to be present.  

I’m reading a lot lately about grief and how others travel this journey.  The kind messages, comments, and shared information mean so much… to know that others are willing to take a moment to simply say “I’m sorry” can be humbling and touching.  Thank you for caring… and for reaching out to me in whatever way works.

I’ve learned to surround myself with good people and am more grateful for every positive experience than ever before.  Seeing the impact that each of my parents had on their individual worlds has given me insight into the kind of impact that I want to make in my own world.  I intend to be more deliberate about those things on which I spend my time.  I want to do things that either bring me joy or allow me to give joy to others.  

If the life and death of each of my parents teaches me anything, it’s that I need to choose how and where I spend my life.  My God, my husband, my children, and my family… these are my beatitudes… these are my blessings… these are where I will spend my days.

 May you find ways to fill your own days with joy….

 

Grief is like an ocean wave… January 31, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:19 am

There’s a story floating around that I have found very comforting… the metaphor of grief to an ocean wave.  Rather than try to explain it, and miss some of the beautiful nuances, I’ll simply post the poem here:


My prayer at the moment  is to learn to survive the waves and the shipwrecks with as much kindness to others as I can possibly muster.  Bless you ALL for sharing your strength with me… and for caring enough to read what I write.  It all helps.

 

My Daddy January 26, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 5:23 pm

It’s been a long time. So much water under the bridge. So much history that needs to be forgiven instead of dragged back through the mud. So few days left to allow for peace.

My parents divorced when I was little. My 10 year-old self didn’t understand or comprehend what was going on. I acted out and blamed all the adults for this huge change in my life. But there are so many things that happened between my parents that bled into our lives as their children. Our individual memories are flawed… we see what we want to see… we remember what we want to remember… we forget what we choose to forget. We were children and our parents were human beings who were hurt. They both did awful things to one another. They both caused unnecessary pain to each other. They both felt they were in the right. It doesn’t matter any more… and it hasn’t truly mattered for quite some time. It does not help anyone to review the past unless we are using that past to improve our future.  
I spent too many years blaming my father for my mother’s lot in life. I blamed him for so many little things that I didn’t take the time to see him as an adult. It took me far too long, but once I started seeing the man through the eyes of an adult, I could finally appreciate how he’s conducted his life since he re-married. I can honestly accept that he and my mom were so dissimilar and probably shouldn’t have gotten married (although I’m glad they did, because they created us… me, my brother, and my sister). I can absolutely understand that my dad and step-mom are truly soulmates and area much better as a couple than they were before they got together.  
More than anything, I can also see just how much they love each other. It’s a tangible thing… it’s seeing my dad calm down at her touch… it’s seeing him smile or his eyes light up when she leans in to whisper to him… it’s both heartbreaking and breathtaking beautiful to see how fully they love one another. The past be damned… I can appreciate that kind of love, because it’s the kind of love that I have with M. My father has had his faults, but he’s shown me the one-of-a-kind love affair that is worth a fight. He’s shown me that anything is worth sacrificing, if it means one more day with that person who makes you whole.
I want him to keep fighting so that, one day, I can tell him that I *get* it. I want to be able to tell him that I love him, and have him understand that I truly mean it. He’s my daddy and he always will be…. I’m just not ready to lose him…

 

Grief… after the first month… January 15, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:27 pm
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It’s been a month… a month since my mom died… a month since I lost my anchor, my forever-cheerleader, my personal historian, the person who knew me in ways that I never had to question.  It’s been a month and yet I still struggle each day with random tears and waves of sadness that come out of nowhere.  It’s been a month that sometimes feels like ages and sometimes feels like minutes… it’s been one helluva month.

mumjune2015

When your parent dies, no one tells you how you’re supposed to move on with your life.  No one tells you that a can of black-eyed peas can rock you back on your heels and make you cry like a baby.  No one tells you that you’re going to reach for the phone more times than you ever expected, only to remember that there’s no one on the other end of that line.  No one tells you that doing the “busy-ness” of death might  actually help hold back those waves of grief until you’ve had a little time to acclimate to this new stage of your life…  your life without your mother.

People tell you so many things when your mom dies.  “I know just how you feel”…. “It will get better with time”… “This pain you’re feeling will eventually turn into a dull ache”… “You’ll get through it”… “I’m so sorry, sweetie”… so many loving, kind, well-meaning phrases that don’t necessarily take the pain away, but make the pain a little easier to bear because it’s being shared.

I know that I’m not alone in my grief because so many others have been where I am at this moment.  It doesn’t make things “better”, but it does make things a little more bearable.  It also helps that I have a crew of people who have my back.  My husband, sister, cousins, friends, neighbors, co-workers… I can feel their support, love, prayers, and know that, because of them, I can push through to do whatever is needed.  I can make the phone calls, organize the paperwork, weed through all the items, and make the decisions that come with the death of someone you love.  I can continue to take those steps.

Two steps forward, one step back… or is it one step forward, two steps back… either way, grief seems to be a daily tango of sorts… and it truly is a daily tango.  I can feel strong and ready to face any obstacle that may come my way, but let one kind, loving person do the “sympathetic head tilt” and I’m a quivering mess of tears.

Adulting is rough and I never seem to be prepared for that wave of grief that crashes over me when I least expect it.  My cousin told me that, when our grandfather died, his youngest daughter (her mom/my Aunt Jody) had complained that she had just wanted life to stop for awhile… to allow her to concentrate on her grief and not deal with the day-to-day.  The more I reflect on that thought, the more I understand and can commiserate.  I have a “Happy Yellow Lab” personality and while people, for the most part, have been understanding, it can still feel daunting at times to put on that happy smile and focus on the positive.

So while I learn to adjust to this new world in which my mom is no longer here, prayers for strength really are the best thing anyone can offer.  I’m doing ok, but that changes day-to-day and sometimes minute-to-minute.   It’s been a month…

Here’s to making it through the first month… and giving thanks to everyone for their prayers for the ones to come.

I miss you, Mum.

 

My Mom… December 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:14 pm

mumpics

Gwenn Bream Drum: 10.18.34-12.15.16

I am stunned… I am numb… I am grateful… and I am devastated.  I got the call from your best friend shortly after she found you still in bed, still in your pajamas (you know… the black and white leopard print with hot pink piping).  She said you had died.  What?  How was that possible?  You were supposed to be coming down to our house to spend Christmas with us… I had *just* said the words “this could be her last Christmas with us”, but never believed that we didn’t have more time, more holidays, more years.

I had spoken with you on Tuesday morning. We talked for an hour about how much you enjoyed your HS holiday party on Thursday, how much you loved singing with the Adelines, how much it meant to you to sing for others and bring them joy, and how much you were looking forward to coming to MD for Christmas.  You gently reminded me to plan some time to shop together and told me how excited you were to have lunch with Kati at Iron Rooster.  You told me about everything that was going on in your life, but you didn’t tell me anything that would make me worry, nothing that would draw attention to any problems that might be popping up.  I heard all the happy, good, lovely, shiny details, but I completely missed the dark, scary side of things.  I didn’t really ask the questions for which I didn’t want to know the answers… I still expected you to be my mum… I still thought we had time…

You didn’t tell me that you were having serious trouble seeing, that your macular degeneration was getting significantly worse… because that might force my hand into taking your car (and your independence) away.  I didn’t know that you’d told your friend not to let me know how serious that problem had become… and that you probably shouldn’t have driven down to our house to fly to Florida at Thanksgiving.  There’s so much that I wish I’d known, yet I know that you were simply doing what you always did… you protected me from seeing things that might be upsetting or change my vision of you.  You did your best to let me be your child for just a little longer.  You didn’t want me to see the problems you were having because that might have changed our relationship forever.

I listened to this special woman tell me the story of what happened, the night before you died.  She told me of those few moments of pause that caused her to take you to the ER… she told me about the tests they ran and the concerns that were addressed… and she told me that you turned to her as you walked into the house and, with a smile, said “I feel so much better” before going inside.  Those were the last words she heard you speak… she left three messages on your answering machine the next morning to check on you, not knowing that you were already gone.  When she came to check on you, the door was closed, which concerned her.  You weren’t in your chair when she used her key and opened the front door, which made alarms go off in her head.  She walked into your bedroom and found you laying on your side, looking to all the world that you were peacefully sleeping, when you were actually gone from this world.  I thank God that she was the one who found you.  She called 911… she waited with you for the ambulance… she called me… she waited for the coroner… you would be so proud of the love she showed as your dear friend, in making sure that you weren’t left alone.  I’m so grateful that she was your “person”… she embodied that role in the best possible way, and I will always remember to honor her.

I hope that you know how much I appreciate all you did to raise me to be the wife, mother, and woman I am today.  For better or for worse, your life was the one that was most familiar to me when I was trying to find my way in the world.  You taught me to cook (thank GOD) and to follow my heart.  You taught me to cherish those I love and to respect those from whom I would learn.  Whether I was to follow or to divert, you were my role model and I am so grateful that you were my mother.

You gave me my roots, in family, friends, and Camp Robin Hood… and you gave me my wings, by allowing me to become my own person and make my own mistakes.  There are times when I glance at my hands and see yours… times when something pops out of my mouth and I just *know* that it originated with you… times when those around me say that I’m just like you.  Occasionally, I shrink from that comparison because there are things that you’ve done in your life that I don’t want to repeat, but most times I am proud to be the embodiment of you… your daughter.  

I’m proud to have a mom who cared deeply for her family, her friends, her commitments, and her faith.  I’m proud that people remember how caring and loving you were to those in your life.  I’m even a little proud that you were able to leave this world on your own terms and in your own way.  Maybe it wasn’t exactly when you wanted to leave us, but I do take comfort in the idea that you’re now whole, and happy, and having a “healthy scotch” with your sisters again.  62ce3486-39a5-48f6-a9ff-d26befe0eed9

Rest easy, Mum… we’ll take things from here as we sing to your memory:

There is a Magic Something, camp so dear  

That fills our hearts with laughter all the year

Every girl who’s been here

Has that something in her

It is the spirit of Camp Robin Hood.

 

Moving is hard October 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 12:03 pm
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This might be one of the more un-original titles I’ve ever used, but I thought it should be said… moving is hard.  It’s hard on the people leaving and it’s hard on those left behind.  We’ve done this a few times in our married life, but this time seemed especially poignant in that we had lived in RVA for 13 years – almost four times longer than we’d lived anywhere else.  It’s getting easier (although it will seem far more permanent once the house sells in VA) but there are definitely challenges at each turn of the calendar.

We first moved into temporary housing.  This was an interesting transition because of it’s very nature… it was temporary.  We knew we weren’t going to purchase a home near that residence, so learning the area was helpful but a bit of an effort in futility. Why spend the time getting to know people when our lives most likely wouldn’t intersect in any reasonable or foreseeable fashion after we found the home we wanted to purchase?  The apartment we were assigned was in a nice area, but not as easy to navigate (see my previous post entitled My Little Red Wagon) but we made the best of the entire situation. My 50th birthday came and went… Easter wasn’t celebrated the same… my summer didn’t focus on getting kids to and from activities.  Life was changing and I needed to change with it… and so I did.

free-moving-announcement-front-chocOnce we found the home we wanted to purchase, my focus became a little simpler. My goal now was to find businesses in the new area where I might find things like doctors, hair stylists, shopping, and other amenities that would make our transition successful.  I found a nail salon where I felt comfortable… M helped me find someone to cut my hair (which was getting unruly after 17 weeks)… I had my first eye doctor appointment… and I found a part-time job at a local winery.  All these things helped make our move flow a bit smoother, but the most challenging part is finding friends.

After living in one place for much of my boys’ childhood, I had collected an amazing assortment of people in my life.  There were some who could meet me for lunch, some who could be counted on to help with car pool or share frustrations with kids’ activities, some who knew me from my job at the local winery, some who knew me from church, and still others who simply knew me as someone they saw around town.  No matter where I had found these people, each one held a special place in my heart and in my life.  Thinking about it now, I realize that one of the most important things about these people is that I never, ever, felt alone.  I knew, with confidence, that I had people who lived nearby who would be present for me if I needed something.  That something could be as easy as a smile from the check-out clerk at the local grocery store or as involved as a shoulder to help work through a difficult situation…either way, I had created my very own village within the world around me.  I believe that has been the hardest part of moving… I had to leave my village behind.

Don’t get me wrong… I am very happy with our move.  We have found a place in a small town that is becoming more and more wonderfully familiar as I go about my daily life.  I adore my job at the winery and thoroughly enjoy getting to know our neighbors.  I am starting to create my new village, but it’s going to take some time.  I don’t have any history with people here, so it will be a process of letting people in and learning who to trust.  Making friends will be more of a challenge without the immediate connection of children and their activities, but I have faith that we will come to love this new life of ours.

In the meantime, you can find us at our new address in Forest Hill, Maryland.  You can reach me on most any Social Media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest – most under AliSportShots) or you can follow my wine recipe blog on Facebook (From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle).  I may have moved, but I’ve not gone away.

Moving may be hard, but it would be harder if I wasn’t able to keep in touch with friends.  Thank you to all of you who have made an effort to keep in touch with me throughout this move.  We kept our VA home and (my) cell numbers for that very reason… so people could find us.

Thanks so much for reminding me that friendship doesn’t revolve solely around who lives closest to us… it revolves around who lives in our hearts.  Moving is hard, but true friends make everything better…

 

Random Acts of Kindness – a Challenge for all February 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:53 am

It’s Valentine’s Day…. Why not make an effort to spread some random kindness throughout your corner of the world… You might be surprised by the reactions you get. Happy Valentines Day to one and all…

Beatitudes of my life

One of my favorite things in the world is seeing the look on someone’s face when something kind is done for them… with no expectation of anything in return.  It’s the way a harried mom looks when you return her grocery cart for her… it’s the smile that lights up someone’s eyes when you compliment them… it’s the happiness that registers, after the shock wears off, that someone has just done something purely for kindness’ sake.  It’s just so soul-uplifting.

I know there are many who actually make money suggesting ways for people to participate in Random Acts of Kindness.  There’s an official website (www.randomactsofkindness.org) and a group (ROAK.group) as well as countless links to help everyone be more kind to our fellow man.  I’d like to suggest a way for everyone to get in on the act this year.

It doesn’t take a lot of money… it doesn’t take…

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