101 Days til Bliss

Life is just bizarre at times. This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions as a family member passed away. At 97 no one can say they didn’t see it coming but the drama of it all still takes it’s toll.

In a lot of ways, the whole process was healing to me. Being able to be there as he let go was something a few years ago would have terrified me. Now I just realized that the process had started & accepted it for what it was. The death rattle didn’t scare me, just made me wish there was something I could do to prevent the pain & confusion. Thankfully although all I could do is talk with him & hold his hand, hospice was there to assist with the pain & anxiety. Not sure how people pass without them & their gifts but again I am grateful for all they do & amazed that people do this daily yet stay so positive and caring.

The good-bye itself carried a lot of emotion. I believe that you never turn your back on family & that blood binds, but at times that is tested for sure. He & I didn’t agree on a lot of things, but he cared for my father when he was young & tried to be there for us all. Listening to so many rave about him at his funeral almost made me forget the bad times. I am thankful that there are so many who do remember him fondly & that I could hear the good things he did in his life. His time on earth truly has impacted many people in a lot of ways which is an achievement for sure. He fought hard to make it to 100, but in the end it was time for him to go on.

Now it is time for us to move on. Getting hugs at the end of the days from my nephew and seeing his smile reminded me that there is hope for a better tomorrow. Just have to make it so.

Which got me thinking- why abandon this blog? Because it reminds me of the tough times? Nah. Those are the times that made me strong enough to be who I am today. Scars and all.

So time to revamp & renew. Change this into something that once again makes me feel at peace with life. Happy to be me. Thus the new look.

Hopefully the changes will be good ones. Time will tell.  All we can do is the best we can & find something to always look forward to. See the glimmer of hope.

For me today that spark is knowing that in 101 days I will be in Disney World with the cutest kid I know as one of the happiest aunts alive.

That and that there is always a snuggle waiting patiently by my side.

Pugs lives are just hard sometimes.

Pugs lives are just hard sometimes.

 

 

 

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A Modern Man’s Tale

Once upon a time…

there was a man and his dog. Everyday they walked miles. When not walking they enjoyed watching deer occasionally from the safety of inside their castle. Daily he fed the various birds that lived all around and delighted in identifying the variety of species that visited. Chipmunks, squirrels, owls, hawks, lizards, frogs, snakes and even coyotes once in a while made appearances. They loved the life sharing their wooded lot with animals of all kinds. The woodland characters entertained him and everyone lived peacefully together.

UNTIL…

One day after a long walk the man discovered two ticks on the dog. Most likely the ticks mistook the dog for one of the deer that they tend to feed on.  The man quickly escorted the wayward ticks into their next life but later that night he woke to find one of their relatives had attacked in revenge. He had experience in guarding his home and showed the tick exactly who was in charge but he did note that it didn’t seem to look like the ticks that he normally crossed paths with. Not thinking much about it, he removed it although it had been firmly in place dining presumably most of the night. The battle ended. The man slaying 3 ticks in one day for the win!

Or so we thought.

The next day he started to feel a little off. Tired, headache, sore… which didn’t seem too out there. He easily could have picked up something & thought he was getting a cold. It got worse & a fever joined the other symptoms. After a few days he also noticed the site on his leg where the tick had bitten was red and inflamed. Not good.

Basically he was a stubborn man & rather than getting it check out to be safe, he just dealt with it. Still he just thought he was going through a cold. After the bite started growing larger, turning a dark black & swelled up to the size of a baseball he FINALLY decided to mention it. The following day he had an appointment with his dermatologist so he waited again. At first glance the doctor forgot the man was there for a simple check to ensure that the skin cancer had not relapsed & asked what the red spots, now covering his entire body, were. The red streaks going out from the initial bite up & down his leg that were extremely tender also alerted the doctor that this wasn’t an average bug bite. No kidding.

Unfortunately this isn’t exactly the end of the story. While the doctor has assured us that after some rest and a lengthy round of meds to treat the infection, the man should be back to normal – probably. With one lasting change.

He may never be able to eat meat again.

Yes this guy who has battled type 2 diabetes and won by cutting down on everything he eats and limiting carbs, may have to limit his food choices even further.

When the tick was attached to his leg it secreted a chemical that is also found in red meats. Under normal conditions this substance stays in the digestive tract & is broken down and used by the body without any problems. However the body isn’t used to having it anywhere other than the digestive track. The tick introduced it into the blood stream where being so foreign the body started to attack the chemical. Now the body has labeled it as bad news & is on alert. So there is a huge chance that the body will no longer tolerate it ANYWHERE in the body.

At this point we wait to see. Some lucky people exposed do not develop the allergy & some do. The more times someone is bitten by this particular tick, the more likely they are to become allergic. After he gets in better shape, which thankfully is quickly happening due to the medications, we can test to see if there will be any reactions. It could take a few hours to a few months for his body to either be allergic or decide the chemical is still ok as long as it stays on the food side of operations.

If he does develop the allergy it will mean he has to completely avoid all red meat & anything that has come in contact with it. Luckily it seems that fish and poultry seem to not have the reactive chemicals, so at least he will have that still. Basically it will be as serious as a peanut allergy. Anything around or that has touched something that has touched meat, could send him into anaphylactic shock and could result in a hospital visit or worse. An epipen will be his new side kick.

Joy.

Fairy tale? Hardly. Unless it is the Stephen King version where the humans are killed off and the insects take over. Let’s hope for a happier ending.

Now if you are anything like me after hearing this tale you now itch & are paranoid that every little gush of wind that blows by your skin makes you feel like you are getting crawled on. Especially around bed time when the lights go out.

As far fetched as this all sounds, sadly it is a true story & the consequences of that tiny bite are very real. So we wait & hope. Because quite frankly my Dad just isn’t the vegan type. He could surprise us as he has done with changing his diet in response to the diabetic diagnoses which he has reversed. Just never know.

The moral of the story: even the smallest little things have the potential to change your life in very big ways.

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What should have been

It is one sad weekend around this house.

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Football season in my eyes ended this afternoon when referees saw to it that the 49ers got handed the lead over my beloved Panthers.  Still stand 100% behind the crew & I refuse to cheer on anyone else at this point.  To me NFL season is over today.

For once I was grateful not to be at the stadium.  Too say I didn’t keep my cool would be a nice way to put it.  Like I have said before, you mess with those I love & treat them unfairly & woe be you.  Time and chilling at home has calmed me down some but I still feel like we have been robbed of a great opportunity and I don’t understand why.  What I do know is there is nothing I can do about it other than start counting down the days until the draft party that starts the next Panthers preseason.

Acceptance of disappointments that I can not change is a theme this weekend.

Yesterday would have been Mom’s birthday & looking back I should have planned on it effecting me.  I thought I would have been better by now, but grief isn’t like that.  It truly is like waves that come and go.  I miss her & a lot lately I just want to call her up to vent or ask a question or relay a message in that way she had to other family members.  The gaps are still there and the pain still stings.

If I was still living solo I probably would have spent the day in bed not talking to a soul other than when my sister called to check in.  Dad was off camping with his cannon buddies, so I feel like he was taken care of.  My sister had friends coming in to visit, so she was good.  I didn’t think that maybe I would need the support too.  Luckily I had it by my side.  Thankfully he is a heavy sleeper & I did most of my “ugly cry” sobbing while he was still asleep.  Baxter however made sure to snuggle especially close.  Dogs just know.

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Reading also is helping me.  At one point before dawn I got up & made some tea & started a new book, Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman.  Sometimes the right thing gets to you at just the right time.  This is one of those times for sure.  Just at the start but already relating very closely and I recommend this for woman who is struggling with the loss of their mother.  A lot of the information is about those who have lost their mothers at a young age, but in a lot of ways it doesn’t matter the age.  Support systems play a big role in healing and I found myself realizing that not having one certainly has made the impact of her passing feel bigger.

Thankfully I am working on that and having Mr Man here to hold me & comfort me was luxury.  Still not feeling entirely like we aren’t just having a long sleep over as best friends, but I guess that is how good relationships should feel.  I just have to get used to it & remember it is ok to enjoy it without worrying about when it will end.  Scary as it is I am grateful that while mourning the loss of one loved one I am able to feel loved and valued.

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Even if she wasn’t here to celebrate I made sure to have cake.  He last birthday cake was angel food, so I picked one up.  Got it just to feel the comfort and connection to that day a year ago when we celebrated by her bedside watching her determinedly feeding herself spoonfuls of cake, strawberries & whipped cream.  Thinking about it afterwards I have to laugh at the obvious pun of having ANGEL food cake.  Then again it very easily could be a simple new tradition of remembrance.

& yes of course I made a wish.

Pretty sure she would have & would have wanted me too.  Moms are just like that sometimes.

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

The unthinkable happened.

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Got through Christmas with the family, without a fight and even after spending the vacation with the new man in tow, we still adore each other.  Thought that only happened in movies. hm.

Alas all did not go as planned.

Today is the Belk Bowl in Charlotte and for me that meant the December 5k.  Something the new guy, who needs a blog name stat, decided he wanted to join me in doing.  So we signed up.

Yesterday we enjoyed dreaming in IKEA, picked up our race bibs & I indulged in some time at my mecca…. Bank of America Stadium.

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The perfect spot to spend a little cash that landed in my lap for the holidays! Yes there are perks to people who do not enjoy shopping for others.

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Then we spent more time with the family and went to bed early because we knew that race time was coming bright and early.  Even laid out what I would wear knowing the temperatures were to be around 27 degrees.

Sadly that is where the going as planned stopped.

Around 7 am I heard my sister’s voice asking if we meant to sleep so late.  Nope.  Although I thought my alarm had been set in time for us to get up, eat, get ready & make it to downtown in plenty of time, it didn’t even go off.  AT ALL.  So we over slept.  Big time.

Bundled up, grabbed a couple of cinnamon buns we got the day before at IKEA & booked it downtown.  Due to the festivities and road construction navigating the maze of one way streets was a mess even if we hadn’t been pressed for time.   Finding parking turned into a complete ordeal when the machine refused to take our cash past $3, but wouldn’t open up for anything less than $6.  We wasted another 15 minutes at that damn machine.

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We gave up & passed up the overpriced lots finding a street spot several blocks away from the start line.  We hustled but sadly by the time we got there, we couldn’t even see the mass of runners.  They were gone.  The mascots and others there to cheer on everyone were getting their stuff together to wait until the first runner dashed their way back across the line.  Most were heading inside to grab warm cups of coffee, which was exactly all I wanted to do at the moment since I couldn’t even feel my ankles.

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We admitted defeat and laughed at the mess.  Thankfully we still got to see some beautiful scenes and had each other to enjoy our first DNF listings.

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Ended up walking a little around then heading back to spend a little more time with my Dad, eat lunch then pack up to drive back to the coast.

While at Dad’s it hit me.  Even with being together all week, with family & holiday expectations, even with the stress of the day and admission of defeat… we laughed.  We never once snapped at each other or shot one of “those looks”.  It is either a really great relationship or we just got lucky.  No matter what it warmed my heart & made me so thankful.

So perhaps Santa has brought me something I always wanted – a holiday season with as little stress and as much laughter and love as possible.

It is true it doesn’t come wrapped with a bow, but it truly is a wonderful thing to enjoy as long as it last.  At this point I am hoping for a repeat next year, except with the alarm getting us up in time to make it to the race and finally make it across the finish line, together.

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I feels wonderful being home again and happy.

Thank You Santa

With the holidays swirling about all around, I knew this would be one of the toughest years to handle.  Emotions just wash over you.  This morning was one of those instances.  Yet another time I wish I could pick up the phone and call Mom just to thank her for all she did.  Course I’m not sure I actually could make it through the conversation without tears, even if she was here.

Conversation last night helped me appreciate the luxuries of growing up with two parents who actually cared.  Trying to get more in the holiday spirit I spoke with a friend about Santa.  Santa arrived in the night on Christmas Eve without fail for every year of my childhood & even a few of my adult ones.  Santa had a rule, “When you stop believing you stop receiving.”   In the conversation it hit me that some kids got skipped.  To those kids who grew up in foster care, many times Santa skipped over their house ever year.  To them it became a holiday of strangers giving hugs and random gifts.  For some reason this brings tears to my eyes even this morning.  Wish I could go back and give every kid the gift of that feeling Christmas Eve of wondering in excitement if you might get a glimpse of him, hear the jingling of bells and hope that the cookies hit the spot.  I truly can’t really even grasp what it would be not having those memories.

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The magic of Santa lives on in me.  Perhaps the view of what he is has changed from the literal interpretation to one of a manifestation of hope, joy and the beauty of wishes coming true.

Some how I envisioned it was this way for all children.  In a perfect world, it is.  Each year since my senior year of high school I have participated in the annual tradition of collecting toys to be donated to others.  I know loads of people who do the same.  For some reason, my hope was that all the children get toys and the joy of Santa is spread to all.

Well of course some I knew had chose not to believe for religious reasons, but to me Santa isn’t part of a religion but a culture of caring.  I understood as a kid that some kids had nativities and waited to open gifts on Christmas day while others lit candles and opened gifts for 8 nights.  I didn’t get that the differences went beyond the when the gifts were exchanged or the decorations.   For me Christmas was & in many ways a holiday that all celebrated together of joy, kindness, getting together, expressions of love and caring & magic.  The magic of taking a month to just be happy and make wishes come true.  The fact that the observance of the birth of christ and all that happened at the same time at church to me was just a coincidence.  So as I questioned my faith growing up, losing the holiday with the family didn’t change.

Of all the memories growing up, Santa is by far one of my most treasured.  Interesting that the first year without Mom finds me reflecting and realizing how extremely blessed I have been…. because of all they did to always keep the magic and traditional alive.  Feels a bit like I have opened a gift a little early.  One I wish I could share with the world.

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Beaker, Barris & bonkers.

I think I must have slipped down a rabbit hole.

Swear it was just the start of November… now it is nearly the end!

Wish I knew where it all went, but the upside is at least we made it this far.

Traveled to my Dad’s place today after watching the Panther’s defeat the Dolphins (GO PANTHERS!).  Soon after I got here and got the crew settled in, yes the pug & all the parrots, Dad was snoozing away in his recliner.

Has been a tough one.  Driving in I thought I was really going to lose it.  All week I have been dreading being here.

 The holidays last year were so different and started Mom’s decline.  Keep remembering how it all was.  How frail she looked as she waited up to see my reaction at my sister’s news that she was pregnant when I arrived here for Thanksgiving last year.  Remember laying in bed beside her watching cheesy holiday movies.  How she used to always spend this week stressing over what to buy when & which fridge to store this or that, planning out what would cook in her oven & what would cook across the street.  So much I want to talk to her about.  Get her opinion on or just to hear her be excited about ideas.  Plotting out who would buy what for who was always our thing.  We were a great team brainstorming, getting & hiding, then wrapping and popping it under the tree.

Honestly I feel a little like I am going through the motions this year.  Just trying to stay in the game but knowing I don’t have a chance.  Still hard to grasp in moments like these that she is just gone.  A friend, who also lost his mom to cancer several years ago tried to make me feel better by saying how “they are always with us in the traditions”, but I just feel the empty spaces of where she used to be.  In time they will fill with new memories and family will grow, but tonight in this cold dark house, I just want to imagine that she is still just in the other room napping before I go and wake her to make sure she gets the next dose of whatever is needed.  Almost can still hear her oxygen machine.  It almost feels like she is here, but just out of sight no matter how hard I look one step ahead.  I just can’t connect with her.  Breaks my heart.

I have no idea how Dad is able to sleep here.

BUT… I am trying very hard to focus on the upside of things.  Like that he is still living, and living here.  He got so excited about us all being together again that he spent most of last week setting half the front lawn ablaze in colorful lights you can see half way down the street.  So at least that tradition is still in tact.

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I am very thankful I have memories to remember and that my sister and I know the recipes and have done them for years.  We may not be able to run back and check on how to do something, but we were able to learn.  Unbelievably thankful that we still will need the same number of chairs at the table.  We just have to replace her big one for my nephew’s high chair…. which he is starting to use a little!

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Also thankful for family, friends and activities to keep me living.  Keep me from going completely psychotic from all the thoughts in my head and all the time to think them.  Grateful for the phone calls, even the late night midbreak down panic ones, the texts that always end up actually making me lol.  The walks and talks – be they beach or by the lake.  I should have worn the good shoes & this blister is brutal.  Hoping it doesn’t keep me from doing ok in the 5k Saturday.  If so thankfully I will have my Dad there to take care of me & help me not be alone in my walk of defeat. (Which will not happen. I am finishing… even if I bleed in my new socks!)  I’m even thankful for the friend who is dealing with so much stress and bad news in his life that he has blown me off a couple of times and just been too busy to make time to get together.  I know he needs to be with someone and talk, because I have been there, but guys do their own ways.  Hate he is dealing with it all, but upside… I see how far I have come in coping.  It shows me that reaching out, tough as it is, is so beneficial and by being the one who is trying to be there for him…. I can appreciate how tough it can be when you are unsure of what to say or topics to avoid.  Hoping he finds his own way to deal.  Not much can be done.  He knows I am here if he needs someone.  We all have our ways of dealing.  I certainly know the push everyone away method well.  Hard to come back from.

But there is hope.  There are friends all around & family… & tomorrow I get to snuggle the nephew and see what new talents he has developed.  Perhaps I will see a replay of his opinion on carrots.  Eat a bit then save the spoonfuls til you have enough to spray them all over your mom’s face, glasses, work scrubs….  sounded hilarious!  Even got a big wad on her cheek.  Talents!  He will make me smile.  He will be the light in this dark time.  For him I will be happy.  He deserves to know happy holidays.

Also I have news on adding a little one to my family.

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Somehow I didn’t get the same reaction as my sister did, but then again it isn’t the same.  Feathered babies just don’t count with her.  Mom would have been excited & would have been checking it out before I could get the cage through the door!  Grandbirds made her happy, as do the grand dogs.

The rescue group that I work with got a dream to come true & it is WONDERFUL!  We are now an actual non-profit 501c3 filed with the state & we can take donations that let people get tax credit for making them.  Huge step.  Now we can better get in money that we can feel good about knowing they can get something too.

Best news & the one I squealed in getting to visit is the aviary is set up! The first one anyway!  For Budgies who need a home for whatever the reason.  No bird left behind.

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The first residents seems to be in heaven when I visited.  They have a box to sleep in, but they don’t, plenty of perches, heated room and another more open screened area to enjoy the day’s weather and the flow of the breezes.  Plants are being planned to provide more tasty treats, fun to sit around on and a bit of variety.  These birds just moved into the Magic Kingdom for birds!

To get to the box there are a couple of rules for safety.  On being you must be able to fly this high in order to play in the box.  Flash back to when you were too short to ride the coasters.  Thankfully the ones who aren’t ready don’t know what they are missing & seem to be having fun in a big indoor cage together.  Most are there due to wings being clipped to the point where they can’t fly & wouldn’t be able to get to the water dish & food.  So they wait.  Wings grow back & soon they will soar with the others.

Except maybe this one.  The birds come from all places – owners who just don’t know what they were doing and their kid no longer cares, too many babies to keep after their two laid eggs and they were fun watching the babies but don’t want a house full.  Sometimes it is a petstore that knows a bird will not sell.  Enter my playdoh heart.

Perfect? Is any human perfect? no why should the birds be. So when I saw the infant with the displaced wing,  my heart just dripped.  I certainly can relate to having a visible body part that isn’t quite right & doesn’t work the way it was supposed to.  Still it was headed to paradise, I didn’t want to stop that.  When concern came up about if they others would pick on it or if it would ever be able to get food with all the others around….. then it was decided.  IF anything like that happened, I would be called to take it in happily.  Couple hours later I left with the new baby budgie.  Just felt right.  It seemed a very curious lil one coming to check me out at the cage when others backed up.  It deserved a shot at a home life.  All else fails I can get it flying as much as it can to see if it can be in the box later.

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So… I got Barris a buddie.  So far he is estatic!  Still the strangest bird I have ever been around in keeping to him self & quiet but he has taken this one under his wing & already they are inseparable!

Since the new baby is so young, we won’t be able to confirm the gender for a few more months. Has to go through the first molt and the cere will change.  Then we know he or she.

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For now…. Beaker.  Not sure why that name seemed to fit.  I had a name picked when I planned on getting my parrotlet & could have use that one, but it didn’t seem the same.

Beaker is one of my favorite muppets & lovable as can be, there is something a lil off.  Seemed to fit.  Beaker it is.  A bit different but totally loyal and lovable.

A bit different.  Totally loyal.  and lovable.  – Things I forget I am sometimes, but grateful for family & friends who remind me when I do.

Once a Month, no not THAT

Maybe I am nuts but there is something about having a goal that just makes life better.  I need something to look forward to and work towards.  Something that matters to me that I can make happen or get ready for.  A focus.

Sure the holidays are heading our way faster than a cheetah into a herd of zebras.  (or whatever it is they rush into)

This weekend I found myself going through the swag given to us at the Race for the Cure 5k and one item in particular peaked my interest.

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Yes the morning after, when I should be regretting it the most, I was longing to do it all again!

Which got me thinking.  Why not do one every month?

At least for a year.

So here goes!  Can’t wait til the next one and judging by what I had seen online, if you have the time and the cash for the entry fees you could do a 5k every week.