Dear Mom

Dear Mom, Happy Birthday today. If you were still physically here, you would be 101 years old! I am glad you are with me at least in spirit.

I see you often. I hear your words. I talk with you daily … usually  apologizing to you for things I didn’t understand when I was younger.

You were born the youngest into a big  family of ten children (5 boys, 5 girls alternating). Growing up in Washington D.C. just a few blocks from the Capitol building,  you always had a uniquely personal perspective on history. In the summer you got to go swimming in the public pool at the base of the Washington Monument (and in the adult only swim times you and your youngest siblings would see how fast you could race to the top of the monument to look out the windows up so high!). In the winter when it snowed you would go sledding down the steep steps of the capitol building! As a high school student you used the Library of Congress as your own research facility. You knew and loved the city intimately.

The Spanish-American War and the World War 1 brought change to the city with many “lost” soldiers hanging around using drugs and drink, legal or not, to lessen their pains both physical and mental. They were all over and you were often warned to “stay away”. The outbreak of the Influenza of 1918 was tough. Many houses had yellow or black “death” signs on their doors. You lost a friend your age who died from it. She lived across the street. All of these things influenced greatly who you grew up to be.

Thankfully your brothers helped you get to go to college. You went to American University as an adult student in your late 20’s and majored in the relatively new field of Sociology.

All of these early experiences helped shape you as a wife, mother and woman. I am glad to have been your youngest child. I am glad you shared so much with me. Not always would I have said these words though. As a youngster I thought you just didn’t understand me at all. Now I think you probably understood me all too well. As a teenager I knew you just didn’t understand anything about me or my life. As a young mother I wished you would love me and know that I was going crazy and needed your help. You heard me. You came over to Germany with Dad three times that first year. That was very brave of you as you had never flown anywhere before then. You came. Thank you.

When you first came to Germany you quickly bonded with my landlady. You and dad cleaned up our apartment as I took care of my new son and my husband worked many 12+ hour days in the USAF. This was all great as the next time you came it was with me calling and asking you to come quickly because I had just had emergency surgery and needed your help to take care of me and the baby. He was just 10 weeks old. I couldn’t even pick him up. The third time was just after I had surgery again. At least this time was planned in advance and you got to see your grandsons first birthday. I learned from you and dad that parenting doesn’t magically stop when your children reach 18. You were still helping all of us for years.

I learned compassion as I sat and visited with you as you lived the past over in your mind. Alzheimer’s is a tough disease. It robbed years of your life from us. The last 4 years you knew no one and nothing except for momentary lapses of clarity. In one you asked me if Dad and your recent friend, Roy, would both be there in Heaven to greet you?

Do you now have the answers to your questions about Heaven and God? I am betting that you do. I am sure that you are now with your grandparents, parents, siblings and their families, as well as with Dad and Roy.

Thank you for teaching me to be the woman I am today. When I look into my mirror I see a reflection that reminds me of you. As I speak to my sons and daughters I hear your words echoing  from my mouth. How this all makes me laugh!

This post is my response to a Challenge from from the Daily Post at WordPress.

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Depression

Down and depressed. I recognize the feeling having been there many different times in my life. Depression has been my companion, my friend, my enemy, my comfort, and the framework through which I have seen myself most of my life.

I have decided that I want to change. Oh trust me I have decided this many times before and not succeeded. Why haven’t I? Hey, that statement is NOT correct. I have changed but the voices of doubt still come back. I haven’t conquered Depression. What is different for me this time is that I don’t want to conquer it. I want to give it less importance and just move on. I don’t care if I still have these depressive thoughts in my head. That is what they are…thoughts. What will make a difference in my life is actions. I need to take action in my life to be able to take actions to reach out to others. Whoa. Ok. I am getting way ahead of myself. This is how I usually make myself choose not to take action. I go overboard and scare myself with the shear size of what needs to be done and I just curl back up inside myself and confirm that I can’t change my relationship with the all-powerful Depression.

I have decided that I will change. I will work at making changes in my life that will help me become stronger. I will always live with physical pain and have limits on what I can physically do but so what? I can work at pushing my limitations rather than letting them push me down. Depression tells me that “it doesn’t matter what I do, I will still hurt. I will still be defective me. I will still not be able to change my body.” Typically I then maybe make an attempt to exercise and overdo it. I become more sore. I do more. The pain is real. I hurt. I quit. I don’t want to do something that makes me hurt more!! I want to hurt less! I curl back up inside myself and confirm that I can’t change my relationship with my body. I sink back into that relationship with the all-powerful Depression.

Wait!! Hold on a second. Who says Depression has to be so all-powerful? Is it me? Am I making it so powerful? What steps can I make that will make it less so? Can I make it go from being a Thing with a capital letter “D” to just another feeling with a small letter “d”? That is all it is after all, just a feeling. Many other feelings join in and help make it a powerful Thing: sadness, emptiness, loneliness, hatred, isolation and more. A feeling. Something inside of me. What steps can I make to control it? Opps. Control. That is a RED FLAG if ever there was one. Control??? I fear Control. It means restricting what I do or what I think. It is a direct way into failure for me as I always sabotage anything that has to do with Control. I freak inside. Inside I seek comfort from the one part of me that is a constant – my friend Depression. Depression doesn’t care if I don’t fight for control. Depression likes me best when I give free reign to all of my fears about control.

This is what happens when I stay in my head. Better off when I just take a tiny step and do something. And then I do something more…a little something more. Go outside. Sit in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes. Focus on something or someone outside of me.

Hello world!

Hello World here is my confession: yesterday I overdid.

I exercised in the morning for 10 minutes. Yea me! I will work back up to daily 20 minutes. For now though it is 10 minutes every other day. Then later I went shopping with my husband. We went to the local military base, an hour away, to get my medications and go to the Exchange and the commissary. My husband made several stops on the way which dragged the day out even longer. By the last place of the day, the commissary, my legs were very tired and I was starting to limp. Not good. Two-thirds of the way through my left leg was cramping and my pain level was escalating up to about a 7 or 8. Then it happened. My left foot went into a powerful cramp. Everything suddenly came to a halt. Pain level 9. I stood on one leg trying to nonchalantly rub the cramp out. I wanted to scream. Wow that was painful. So was the rest of our shopping but I did it anyway.

Later, as I lay in bed, I thought about the events of the day. As I reflected I realized that I had set myself up for high pain both for yesterday but for the next several days. How did I do that? First I had not been feeling well for several days so I was unusually tired. Next, I did not drink enough water the day before or while out shopping so I was dehydrated. Last I simply overdid. I know that I can’t stay on my feet for very long and with exercising and then the shopping that went on for hours, it was just simply too much.

Do you ever find that you are trying to do too much? For me my physical self limits what I can do but also seriously limits how much I can do. I get very frustrated with high pain levels despite taking all sorts of medications. I want to be able to feel enhanced by doing my exercises rather than feeling exhausted. Isn’t it supposed to give me energy? Some day maybe. For now I am grateful to be able to still walk without aid. There was a time just several years ago, that I could not do nearly as much as I did yesterday at all, even assisted.

I can walk. I can write. I can see. I can overdo. I did.