Blog May 2, 2017

  Blog May 2, 2017  

May 1, 2017                                                  

 

Flowers on The Kitchen Table……
 

As kids the first of May was a great day, May day.  We would sit at the kitchen table with our crayons and markers and construction paper. We would twist the paper into a funnel shape and staple it together.  Another strip of paper made the handle. Then we would go out to the yard to get the few flowers that would be blooming by then.  Seems like it was always tulips, daffodils, and the ever tough pansies….my Mom always called those “monkey-faces”, as do I. They do look like a little monkey face.  We would kinda stuff them down into the tube with some green foliage to make it look nice.  We might write a poem or a note, but usually not.  We would then place the May basket on someone’s doorstep and then ring the doorbell and hide.  If we didn’t like the person we would fill the basket with dandelions.  Mean, but I still kinda want to do it.  It isn’t the worst thing ever.  Anyway, we would hide in the bushes and then watch as they found the basket.  I loved it.  I love May, period.  I love flowers so much.  This is something that has been passed down from my Gram to my Mom, to me.  From the time the flowers started blooming until late in the fall both my Gram and my Mom would have cut flowers on the kitchen table.  I do the same except I do it all year.  I have a lot of vases that were my Gram’s and Mom’s, but I like a jar the best.  Sometimes I put marbles in the bottom and it looks cool. I am like a 5 year old boy with marbles.  I just really like them.  I like it best when the zinnias are in bloom and I can display all of that vivid color in a quart sized mason jar.  This only happens in August though and that just isn’t good enough for me.  I usually buy flowers at the grocery store every couple of weeks because it just makes me feel better.  The cats are stupid and bug at them, but I have discovered that they don’t like the carnations and they tend to leave those alone.  Otherwise, Joe will pull a flower out every now and then and you will find it on the floor etc.  How irritating.  He really is my problem child.  If it is an arrangement with baby’s breath?  Forget it.  He will seriously just eat that and then go throw up somewhere.  Cats. 
 

So, here it is May Day.  Winter sure was a long season. When I got back from Grand Junction after my Mom passed away, Ben’s Dad ended up taking a turn for the worse.  We have always called him Pop.  Pop was 93 and we knew he wasn’t in good shape, but really?  Really, this was too much.  So, a few weeks later Pop ends up in the hospital.  He had had congestive heart failure for years, but the end stages are not good.  Pop and I had a complicated relationship.  I can honestly say he was the orneriest human being I have ever known.  He was a good old boy originally from Illinois, but then transplanted to Oklahoma.  He could fix anything and taught this determination to my Ben.  We did love each other, but we also really made each other mad.  While Pop was in the hospital it was really bad.  At one point they had to have security in his room because he just was so angry.  He thought everyone was trying to kill him and told Ben and I that the nurses put poison in his applesauce.  I tried to bring up memories with him while he was still coherent, but he was just so combative.  It made me feel so sad.  I knew that Pop wouldn’t be going back to his nursing home.  I also felt that in the depths of his soul he would rather pass on than go back there.  He hated it there and I didn’t blame him.  His health had deteriorated such that we had no choice but nursing care.  So, after a week or so in the hospital they sedated him and sent him on to hospice.  He would not have gone any other way.  I feel that after that point Pop was really just sitting alongside us somewhere, or up above us, I don’t know, but he wasn’t just in his body like normal.  I wasn’t prepared for how this would hit me.  Seriously, I had gotten so hopping mad over the years.  Now this wave of sadness washed over me.  To think of Pop not coming barreling in with his yardstick suspenders that he was never without was, well, beyond me.  I was just pounded with memories.  There on his deathbed the Holy Spirit visited me and gave me such a gift.  Pop did not open his eyes again.  He didn’t talk again.  I sat beside him and held his hand and spoke to him to see if he would wake up.  I knew he wouldn’t.  He didn’t open his eyes, but I just pray that he could still hear me.  I need for him to know I loved him so much.  The memories with Pop came back and I just started talking.  
 

Pop could work circles around men half his age.  This is no joke either.  When we bought this house 13 years ago there was no fence.  We live right on the canal and Nick would have been, oh, 8 or so then.  That is a recipe for disaster for 100% sure.  I still had my beloved Sable, my black lab/great dane mix.  He was the definition of gentle giant.  I sometimes still think I hear him flumping down the hallway with those big feet.  That dog and I went through the hardest of times together.  He knew all my secrets, comforted me in the darkest nights.  Anyway, Pop and Ben set out to build the fence themselves.  Pop was 80.  They would work all day, pouring post holes, building that fence.  The section along the canal was a bit tricky as the footing wasn’t quite so easy.  The two of them worked like mad men, side by side.  When Ben and his Dad did projects they had this strange non-verbal understanding.  Ben will still expect me to understand what he wants me to do when we are working on something…..just isn’t my deal.  I tell him to use his words.  He and Pop, though, they didn’t need to explain it.  They would look at each other, pause, signal, motion, whatever, and move on.  Pop would sometimes say, “now, wait a minute, let me see here…” and you could see him processing things in his head.  He would breathe hard and think.  Ben does that same breathing thing and Laura can copy him exactly.  It’s hilarious.  It’s like two loud, puffy exhales,  the kind that make your cheeks move.  
 

They finished the fence and then moved on to building a gigantic shed.  It sits behind a big evergreen and lots of bushes in my backyard and you can’t even see it.  I forget about it sometimes.  The shed is necessary for Ben and I to remain married.  Ben is a fan of items and I am a fan of getting rid of items.  I don’t like to have a lot of stuff.  I cherish memories, but not stuff.  I told Ben that I want the shed locked. I don’t want to know where the key is.  He can put what he wants in there and I won’t touch it.  I have to die first because I really have no idea where the key is or what is in there.  I don’t want to know.  Once Laura told me there is like seven bikes in there, exaggeration I hope.  Good Lord.  If he accumulates much more stuff in the house, he will need to run electrical etc. out there because he will have to live in the shed.  I will wave at him from the warm house.  
 

Pop then built me a beautiful flower bed.  It is my bird sanctuary.  It is a huge oval enclosed by big red bricks.  I have a million feeders on posts there and a few bird baths.  I would watch him from my kitchen window.  I could see him pause and scratch his head underneath his red ball cap.  He would be sweating like mad out in the sun with those yellow suspenders on.  I would see him breathe and then pace out how many steps it was from one end to the other.  He would get the pen out of his shirt pocket (He ALWAYS had a pen there) and jot down the number of feet.  He’d make trips to the hardware store and work all day.  He filled it in with dirt.  Pop loved catalogues of all kinds and kept them forever……No, really, kept ALL of them forever.  You know, the Harriett Carter catalogues, Vivian somebody etc….I can picture them all stacked up on his coffee table.  He ordered me these tree lilies from one of those and planted them back there.  They are amazing.  Seriously, they are at least 3-4 feet tall and get stunning lilies.  I haven’t ever seen anything like them.  I have added star gazer lilies and a few others to the bunch.  
 

As I sat there holding Pop’s hand and talking about these memories and more, tears just streamed down my face.  I told him that this spring I would be planting a peace rose for Mom, her favorite.  I told him that I loved him asked him to forgive me for times I was unkind or aloof.  I told him I forgave him.  I said it out loud.  I asked him what kind of rose he wanted me to plant for him and I looked at Ben.  When I looked away from Pop, I saw that Ben and Laura both had tears streaming down their faces too.  Ben said probably a red rose.  I will do that.  I will ask Mom to help me nurture them to the beauty her roses had.  Amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  
 

That afternoon Michele and Angie came to hospice to pray with us and bless Pop.  So much healing happened on this day.  God gave me this gift of all of these funny and loving memories.  So many memories.  There will never be anyone like Pop again.  He was definitely one in a million and I am better for having known him.  I was able to let go of the anger and just love.  I loved him so much.  He loved me too.  Ben and I have grown closer during all of this grief and have been there to hold each other up.  

The funeral was in Oklahoma and the trip took its toll on all of us.  Fatigue is my worst symptom with the MS and I was just maxed out.  My body was just exhausted.  Daily functioning was all I could manage and just fixing dinner made me proud of myself.   After so much loss, I kind of had to hole up for a while.  I am like that. I can be a hermit.   I am easily over stimulated and was just completely worn out.  I was on basic family survival mode.  I focused on my little family and made sure that Nick, Laura, Ben and I had time together to laugh and love.  I slept a lot and cried a lot.  I get pangs of pain for my Mom at strange times and cry with no warning.  I will think I am ok and then just fall apart.  I miss her so much.  I just really miss my Mom so much.  I miss my Dad too and wish I was closer so that I could be with him.  I know he is lonely and gets so sad.  I am so proud of him because, as usual, he has risen to the occasion with such integrity and grace that he leaves me in awe.  He is going to exercise and getting out with friends.  My dad is, and always will be, my number one hero.  He is about to turn 91.  I ask God to please let this world have him for a while.  Please.  
 

Yesterday was Pop’s birthday and he would have been 94.  We went to eat at his favorite restaurant, AppleRidge Café.  It is just strange.  Last year we felt spread so thin with worrying about everyone and now they are just gone.  That part of death is bothering me.  Like Pop ate breakfast at the same booth at that place for years.  The staff had a special cup for him in the back.  Ben has the cup.  Pop met the cook at the door at 5:30 am and helped him get the coffee going.  He was the first one there and never ordered off the menu.  The cook just fixed him whatever. He had his regular booth and when he died Ben had to go tell them the news.  We went there on his birthday and it was jam packed.  Everyone was so busy and the waitress did hug Ben and ask him how he was doing.  We ordered and ate and left….just like everyone else there.  No one else knew anything about Pop or that he ran things around there.  Life goes on.  Life just really does go on.  That hits me weird.  It makes me feel very melancholy.  Sometimes,  it makes me feel kind of like it is all futile, but in my heart I know it means that you just have to make it matter.  I wonder if I were to be hit by a bus today, would I have impacted the world?  You know, I know my friends and family would feel the loss, but would the world be a better place because I had been in it?  That I am not sure of and it makes me feel I have much left to do.  I was not put here to be rich or famous….you really can’t take it with you. That part hit me with Mom and Pop.  When you leave here, you leave alone and take nothing with you. The stuff you may have cherished is really just that, stuff.   I am not sure exactly what I am supposed to do, so I guess I will just keep doing my thing and see which way He leads me.  I knew losing my Mom would leave a gaping wound, but didn’t know how much losing Pop was going to hurt.  I get that you don’t get it back.  I wish I would have spent more time with him the last few years.  I wish I would have not been such a hot head over stupid things.  I learned something.  It would be good if I would not just be such a hot head sometimes.  I am going to work on that.  
 

Now that spring is finally here, I am really trying to pull myself out of my grief funk.  Seriously, most days over the last several months, I just made it through. Had it not been for Ben, Nick, and Laura I may have not even gotten out of bed.  My heart still hurts, but I am going back to work tomorrow literally and figuratively.  It will do me good to have to be somewhere.  I am not sure how these animals will cope.  Joe will beat everyone up while I am gone.  I have been in an unhealthy place and need to do this.  I went for a hike last weekend with the church group and it was just so good to be outside with other people.   I need to move this body around so that the MS doesn’t win.  
 

The other night I was flipping channels and came across an Ed Sheeran concert. I watched the entire thing.  Man, he is so good.  It led me to an iTunes shopping spree.  As I was hitting the “buy” key with carefree abandon, I came across a song of his called “Supermarket Flowers.”  I had not ever heard that song.  I did not listen to it but just clicked away as supermarket flowers are my thing.  Then, oh then, I listened.  It is worth pulling up on youtube, regardless of your age.  It is timeless and beautiful and was eerily perfect for my life circumstances. I could not believe that I didn’t actually write this song.  The lyrics paralleled what I went through with Mom.  I cried my head off and then forwarded it to my siblings. Either they didn’ I will part with the lyrics and hope that you will give it a listen….
 

Supermarket Flowers

I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill
I threw the day old tea from the cup
Packed up the photo album Matthew had made
Memories of a life that's been loved
Took the get well soon cards and stuffed animals
Poured the old ginger beer down the sink
Dad always told me, "don't you cry when you're down"
But mum, there's a tear every time that I blink

Oh I'm in pieces, it's tearing me up, but I know
A heart that's broke is a heart that's been loved

So I'll sing Hallelujah
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you'd be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back we'll say Hallelujah
You're home

I fluffed the pillows, made the beds, stacked the chairs up
Folded your nightgowns neatly in a case
John says he'd drive then put his hand on my cheek
And wiped a tear from the side of my face

I hope that I see the world as you did cause I know
A life with love is a life that's been lived

So I'll sing Hallelujah
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you'd be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back we'll say Hallelujah
You're home

Hallelujah
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
You got to see the person that I have become
Spread your wings
And I know that when God took you back he said Hallelujah
You're home

 

Peace, 

Erin 
 

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