The unexpected aftermath

I am happy to report that life is pretty much back to normal.  I'm driving, walking quite normally and even found  myself running through a parking lot in the recent rain!  I get a bit tired towards evening but that is nothing I am going to complain about.  I am blessed with recovery, health, and wonderful family and friends.  

Going through my ordeal, I had a lot of time to think.  A LOT of time.  One place my mind continued to return to was my children.  It brought me back to the last month I spent with my Mom before she died. Something I don't think I could have ever grasped without experiencing this hiccup in my health was the fear she felt about us, her kids, upon her departure from this physical earth.  I know she didn't fear dying in the sense of where she was going, in fact I think a part of her looked forward to seeing her parents again.  But there was this look she had when she would look at us, her kids; a look created by an emotion of which I have now felt an inkling.  She was worried about US. What would happen to us after she was gone. What has she left untaught? On what experiences would she miss out?  Would she miss the opportunity to hear "Mom, you were right?" a couple more times?

Not knowing what was going on with my health, I spent some time thinking about these same things.  Not the bread and butter stuff about how they would get to school or piano lessons, or if they had their homework signed. I thought about the long term stuff, the stuff that isn't really fitting to discuss at their current ages, but they eventually need to know.  

For instance, I have not yet told my boys to NEVER sleep with a woman before his wedding night.  This isn't for the obvious reasons most would think.  They need to know that NO woman can ever, ever, ever know just how badly they each grind their teeth and thrash around in their sleep before she is legally bound to one of them.  I worry that they will end up as eternal bachelors because the exhaustion a woman will endure trying to catch some REM sleep will be grounds for terminating an otherwise great relationship.  They need to know that on any flight they fly on, they will be asked to stow everyone in their area's bag in the overhead compartment.  So they should just expect it.  They will need to know that the highest shelf in the bathroom is not the acceptable place to store the toilet paper, even if it makes perfect sense to them and is easy for them to reach.  They need to know that many will try to squash their sparkle, and they will tell them to be tough and stoic. They need to know a kind and empathetic heart will make them vulnerable, but it will be worth it.  And so it doesn't take until they are 35 to figure this out, like it did with their father, if a girl walks all the way to your apartment (which is the complete opposite direction of hers) and then offers to bake you cookies at her apartment, SHE LIKES YOU.  Oh, and listen to your sister's opinions about potential girlfriend because she will have insight that only a woman possesses.

For my daughter, there are so so many things I would want her to know. Things about life, love, pregnancy, marriage... the list goes on and on.  For her, I think it may require a book.  I've mulled over  the idea of a writing a book for a while, but never much more than just a fleeting thought.  That was until I went through my crippled chicken-walker phase.  And maybe that is what was to come of that whole event, my rediscovery of my love for writing.  

For about 2 months, my family weathered an unknown storm, and now in the aftermath, I continue to process the experience (which by the way was finally called an Atypical Migraine resulting in physical manifestations, or in my kids' words ' A really, really, really, really, really, really bad headache.') I know that life is too short to leave things undone or unsaid. So, soon I hope to  start to put words to paper (or in reality, fingers to the keyboard) and start expressing the ideas that have played in my head for a while.  A written record of advice for my daughter, and all young girls really, to use as they navigate through the murky and hormonally driven existence of their teens to twenties.  So stay tuned as I begin the adventure of writing a book!

Lessons of the Grape Vine

When we bought our property, we inherited Concord grape vines.  Since Mother Nature decided to have a couple "up" days (of her seemingly unstable displays of behavior lately) and let the sun shine recently, I decided to tackle the vines.

I don't really know what I'm supposed to do with them, but as I sat there looking at them, I decided to just jump in.  On the outside, they were a tangled web of branches, a mess really. They haven't yet budded or blossomed and are somewhat unsightly.  

I decided to start with the obviously withered and desiccated branches, knowing that by clipping those away, more energy can be given to the younger branches.  

I saw that the grapes were being interfered with by a dogwood bush. Though these branches are red, attractive and quite pretty, they interfere with the growth of the grape vines. When they leaf out they cover and block the life giving energy the vines require.  These had to be clipped away.

I clipped away slowly, looking at each vine, choosing where to nip it.  Some of the branches were extremely long.  The extremely over-extended branches were snipped with the thought that they were so far removed from their strong foundation that they were weak and lost growing upwards into a nearby pine tree.  

The bases of all these vines are old, weathered and thick.  They are strong main stalks that all the subsequent generations of vines have sprouted.   Their roots run deep, and though they are quite tattered, they stubbornly remain.

We have lived here long enough that I have seen these vines bear fruit several seasons. Some years they have born hideous amounts of grapes, other years the harvest is sparse.  The vines productivity is usually affected by things out of their control like wind or birds and deer pecking away at the fruit.

As I thinned and clipped, I realized these vines were a lot like life.  We are all a tangled mess at times.  Sometimes the best way to tackle an issue is to just jump in.   We may or may not have blossomed yet.   We have the life sucked from us by those relationships that are desiccated and dead.

We all possess productivity and purpose but can get lost in a tangle of our own life's vines.  We get distracted by the pretty, easy and attractive things that can pull us away and block us from that which gives us energy.  We become over-extended by distractions, obligations, tasks and the need to be connected at all times.  We grow thinner and weaker, until we look down from 20 feet up a pine tree to the foundation that lies far away from us.  

Eventually we may find ourselves looking at our bases... those relationships that have weathered us and the storms we have brought.  The family members and friends that have tolerated our pecking, as the vines have withstood the irksome birds noshing on ripe fruit.  They have stood stubborn and strong, supporting  and sustaining us.  

And it just remains to be seen how we will bud and blossom and what will the fruit resemble that we will bear?  

Happy Mac and Cheese Day

Ahhh.... Valentines Day. The day of love. The day of endless Facebook posts of flower bouquets and chocolates.  The day we we celebrate the love we share.  A single person may have different view on this day, but I will let them share that with snarky e-cards. That viewpoint is not mine to share.

I'll be honest, after 15 years with the same man, I don't get too anticipatory about Valentines Day.  This isn't a slam, or saying that he is poor at gift giving, or anything of that nature. It is more a growth in my view of our relationship that doesn't come down to the test that Valentines Day can become.

In our day and age, a lot of what we know and learn about relationships comes from what we see.  And I'm not talking about from our parents.  Lets face it, most of us learned a LOT of things from TV and movies, and from Glamour and Cosmopolitan.  We had Sex and the City, Friends, When Harry Met Sally as our relationship guides.  We see tiny problems wrapped up and fixed in 30 minutes, longer and bigger problems may take 90, and a "R" rating.  The issues work out, the relationships  succeed and fail in a perfected cadence that falls in line with the next episode or scene.  The men are characters we feel really exist, the women who we want to be.  Sadly, I think we forget it is all scripted. It is planned out and well written. Written as we would have our "best life" scenarios exist.  But life is the farthest thing from scripted.  It's a crap-shoot.

Media, in all forms, presents us many times with what I call, "Prime rib and Lobster" relationships.  The communication is aged to perfection, the foreplay is broiled Lobster tail perfect, and the sex is Dom Perignon mind blowing.  This, especially in our teens and 20's, is what we believe real relationships look and function like.  The reality is, ESPECIALLY after kids, the majority of your relationship is of the "Mac and Cheese" variety.  They are the weeks, maybe months, of creamy goodness punctuated occasionally with Prime Rib. This is not a complaint rather an observation.  Some days it may be generic Mac and Cheese, others the home made variety. There is nothing wrong with Mac and Cheese. It is fulfilling, comforting, and yummy.  The problems arise when you are continually coming to the table bringing your prime rib wishes to yet find another bowl of Mac and Cheese.  With the continual expectation of a Prime Rib and Lobster relationship, you miss the the miracle of how hard inedible pasta magically becomes a soft, comfort food when added to water.  You miss the mystery of how powdered cheese doesn't actually contain cheese.  You miss the rebellion of deciding to add 3 tablespoons of butter, and not two.  You miss the messiness of a boiling over pot, staining the burner pans that remain no matter how hard you scrub.  You miss the change in the wooden spoon, as its edges slowly soften from years of mixing noodles and ingredients.

Some of the greatest love stories I know of who make total box office bombs. A snooze to read, because they are love stories created out of years of Mac and Cheese days.  Comfort, security, and a choice to love, (even when you want to throw the pot at his head) are pretty boring if you were looking inward. They would make for horrible cinematic features.  We tend to thrive on the drama, miscommunication and misinterpret signal.  We want everything to get messed up so that it can work out, over prime rib and lobster.

After all, who ever heard of making up over Mac and Cheese?