Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Never Forget the Losses

One of two terrapins traveling on its annual pilgrimage through my parents' yard.
I'm fond of Facebook...and I think most of my friends are aware of my "addiction." I manage Facebook pages for a few clients, so it's second nature for me to toss up a photo or a pithy saying on a daily basis on my own wall or pages while at that site. While this habit has become...a habit, I've realized lately that my additions to Facebook have become somewhat of a diary.

In my searches for what has happened in my life over the past two years, I've suffered pangs of hurt, sadness, and even utter and bitter loss over and over again. That pain has worsened with the new Facebook "look what happened on this day last year...or two years ago...or even a decade ago..." feature. Although I'm sure this daily reminder of the past is meant well, it can shake my socks off sometimes.

This morning, for instance, I was whacked in the face with the image of the terrapin shown here. Yes, it's just a turtle. But, it's one of two turtles that make an annual pilgrimage through my parents' yard. These two turtles...or their relatives...have been traipsing through my folks' yard since they moved here in 2000. The turtles just don't pass through. They stick around for a few days, playing hide-and-seek with each other and with us in the gardens before they move on.

While at some other point in my life I might have thought warmly about this photo and its family tradition, I happened to glance at the photos that braced that turtle image in my Facebook "mobile uploads" album. Those photos portrayed our first visit to the teaching hospital where mom was first diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. We had just returned from that city to discover the turtles in the yard, exactly two years ago today.

I'm glad I have this chronicle of events that happened over the past two years, because those clues are vital for writing the memoir. But, I'm not very keen on how I keep getting pinched by the past in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes, I feel as though I'm picking at a scab. What saddens me further is that we haven't seen the terrapins yet this year.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe I'll get lucky and see them before I have to return home this upcoming weekend. And, maybe one day I'll truly be grateful for the memories.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Friends Who Keep My Feet on the Ground

Everything in my life has changed since my caregiving stint with Mom and with her death. I still can't think clearly about ordinary things and sometimes I feel like I'm floating through life. But, every once in a while a friend steps in to pull me back to earth. While on terra firma, I tend to make some rather large strides...like Gumby.

Take, for instance, my friend Kim Jacobs, owner of Turquoise Morning Press. One day, out of the blue, I receive an email from Stephen Zimmer. He said that Kim had recommended me to serve on a writers' panel at the second annual Imaginarium Convention. After reading about all the guest speakers at this event, I felt a little intimidated...published authors many times over, owners of publishing houses, etc...how in the world would I fit in?

Then, I began to write my bio for the guest author pages, and I realized how much I had accomplished in my short writing career. That was a good feeling. The results also were a bit ironic...it appears I've focused on financial issues during most of my writing career...and I don't have two pennies to rub together. Ironic and hilarious, actually. 

What's that adage about writing about what you know? I guess I sidestepped that advice. At any rate, I'm on board, and I'll be participating in this event in mid-September.

Then, I learned that my friend Phyllis, an 11-year-cancer free breast cancer "warrior," was participating in the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon today. She was gathering donations for the wonderful Gilda's Place in Louisville. For $20, a person could purchase a ribbon that Phyllis would wear during the event. I jumped all over that one, but when I went to donate, I learned that my credit card information was stolen about five days earlier. The only way to donate was through credit card.

But, Phyllis worked it out, and the result is shown in the photo above. Phyllis attached the ribbons to a ribbon and she wore that contraption as a tutu. In the rain. What a cold and messy day! But, Phyllis finished the marathon, and she thinks her time was 3:49:00. Mom's ribbon is Kelly Green, the color that represents bile duct cancer.

What a gift. What a memory. What a wonderful thing for my Mother, who loved horses and Derby week. That love came, of course, from the time she spent out West with us and, mostly, with my brother and his partner, Linda, at Menoken Farms.

Thank you, Kim. Thank you, Phyllis. Thank you both and everyone else for your parts in keeping my feet on the ground and moving.

Friday, April 17, 2015


From Cure Magazine's article
This morning, Mara Eve Robbins posted a poem I wrote a year ago on my personal Facebook wall. It needs editing, but it hit home. The poem was about a comparison between my mother and myself, about death, and about the forty pair of shoes my mother left behind. It's been a little over ten months since mom died, and the last pair of her shoes left her closet on April 4. My daughter and I packed them into the car for the trek back home. Then, my daughter and husband piled themselves into the car and left me with dad.

Yep, I'm back in the caregiving saddle again.

Mara's post also hit home, because it was just a year ago that I took off with her to stay at her house in Floyd, Virginia for Easter weekend. Did I realize it was Easter weekend at the time? No. Something has happened to my thinking over the past three years that disabled my ability to connect with the rest of the world. Except for Christmas, holidays don't seem to exist.

And, it's Poetry Month, and I'm not writing poetry. I haven't written anything in the memoir, either. I haven't written my blogs or anything else other than work for a  new client. While I can use that client work for an excuse, I think, frankly, that I just needed a break.

Darrell Laurent, long-time columnist for the Lynchburg newspaper and author of several books, wrote something this morning in his public Facebook Group, The Writers' Bridge. He wrote:
"Losing our motivation is part of the larger creative process. We wouldn't have the bursts of inspiration and productivity without the difficult creative dips. 
"When we lose our creative steam, not only does our writing come to a crawl, but we also start feeling low about ourselves. 
"For example, when you aren't writing, the feeling that you should be working nags at the back of your mind. This tension creates further stagnation and deepens the creative funk."
Some tips he provided included 1) Honoring the rest period; 2) recommit; and 3) talk about your work...among others. Those three points stuck with me.

Since I don't believe in coincidence, I honor the fact that Mara posted that poem and that Darrell posted that article. They both motivated me to blow through this fog and get something down in writing.

And, now that I've started, it seems the flood gates are opening in my head. There's just so much...so much.

Two major events happened recently regarding the book. Denise Brown at Caregiving and I had another little blog chat, this time about marriage (and the marriage, btw, is doing much better). That 1/2 hour discussion is available at Blog Talk Radio.

The other issue is the article in Cure Magazine about caregiving. I'm not sure why they have me in that article, because it opens with me, but doesn't go anywhere with me. The initial article was much more involved. But, they had a photographer come out to my town to take a photo, so I guess they felt compelled to use it. As a result, I have a speaking engagement in Louisville in August. This is a good thing.

Last, but not least, I'm been somewhat gainfully employed by Merchant Negotiators since January. I have conducted a lot of writing and research for that company over the past few months leading up to that site's "going live" this past week. Once again, I'm writing about financial issues. If I ever win the lottery, I know a lot about how to manage those winnings!

As for dad -- he's doing fine. He's actually doing great. I just needed to validate that information for myself. More about him later at my blog on Caregiving.com.