Dear Daddy,

I’ve meant to write you for a couple of days but now I NEED to write you. You were always there for me when times were tough, especially when times were tough. You were the only person who really knew me because our personalities were so similar.

I know I’m just having a very bad day and they happen from time to time but this one is unusual. I feel like I’m getting beaten up by everybody

and I don’t know why. I don’t have you here to defend me or to want to get back at the people who are making me sad. I do know that if you could, you would although I’m not so sure you would defend mom.

No matter what she did, you defended her but her tone today, I know, you would have been the one to say “take it easy” and she would have listened. Her ordering me around like she is the commander and I’m the soldier was horrible. Something is not right. Does she think that the holiday season is only hard on her?

Losing Lola and Don and Ellen were tragic losses, believe me, I know. I went to the funerals of two of them with her. Anna went to one of them so she was always supported. There’s not much else anyone can really do. Both Emma and I call her every day, she boasts about that to her friends but sometimes  it seems I can do nothing right. At least that’s how it feels to me.

I’m not in their club of two, my sister and mom, they are so similar and our club, you and me, doesn’t exist anymore, talk about grief. Yes, I know it’s a rough time of year, with you dying on New Year’s Eve

and you and mom’s anniversary on New Year’s Day! Not such good timing, Dad. I  remember our last Christmas but the grief comes back in waves of sadness and anger. You should be here, playing Santa and ringing the stupid bell you always rang. If only you could come back for just one minute to ring that bell and to give me a hug that I so desperately need from you now.

Well, the day is almost over, I’m hiding in my bedroom, yeah I know, not the right solution but that’s okay, I just need a little time to myself. Your granddaughter is out having fun and your grandson will be home tomorrow. At the moment he is the one worrying because, like me, he is so intuitive and he heard my voice on the phone. I know I worry too much, oh stop laughing, but I try not to do that. I can’t help it if I read headlines and get scared. As most parents, I worry about my children.

You know I love you, of course you do, thank you for the signs you send me (I could use one soon, please.) Do I wish you a Merry Christmas in Heaven? It’s been so many years  you would think my grief would have mellowed but today it is raw. I don’t understand that at all.

I’m going to play some music now and settle down, I know I’ll be fine in a few minutes. You know I’ll be fine, I always remember what you and Mom said: “That beneath the mushiness, deep down, I am steel” and I know that’s true. I’ve had to be many times in my life. I love and miss you so much but I am glad you are not in pain anymore, that’s for sure. Say hi to Lore for me, quite a prank she pulled on us at her funeral. It seems like Diane and I both thought we were the sole “Augusta.” Only Lore could get away with that. Please tell her I miss her too, I really do.

All my love,

Your little mouse

PS The dog just pushed the door open, jumped up on the bed and kissed my whole face which she generally doesn’t do. She knew I was sad, I feel better already.

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Kellie Elmore: Free Write Friday 6-29-13

who am i?

who am i? (Photo credit: Beni Ishaque Luthor)

(things can’t let you down, unless you let them)

“It’s easier said than done, I know that. You know that, right, Son? All this psychobabble about “life’s has its ups and downs, just go with the flow?” Sure, I know that in my head, but when something creepy, or scary or even startling happens, man, that goes straight, directly to my heart and it’s a sure fire hit. There are no stops, no waiting, or hesitating, it’s a missile like an emotional heart attack. It always has a trigger, like now, people are screaming behind me are making me tense, uptight, upset. You have to understand I’m not like you and your generation, it’s hard for me to “just get over it.” I get so depressed and I just want to put my head in my hands and my body starts shaking. My stomach clenches and it’s trying to ruin my day and I feel myself getting hooked on sadness like a slippery snake, going in and out of my brain to my insides. I  try to stop it but I can’t.

I’m lost, that’s how I can describe it, I’m lost. I’m really nobody now. Sure, I’m someone’s husband, brother, father, but who am I? I’m really not sure anymore.  I used to know but now everything is cloudy. What I thought I knew for sure is shaky, what I thought I knew about you is different.I was YOU, a long time ago. Listen to me. It’s easy to push things into those dark recesses of your mind, I’ve been doing that for a long, long time. There’s safety in comfort, I know that. But, how much comfort is worth it? When does comfort become settling or even just plain old vanilla laziness? I’m the wrong one to ask. I stay safe, too safe, and I stay still. I’m not happy, not ever. Probably never have been happy.

Some people like my old friend Jon are adaptable, whatever happens he adjusts. He doesn’t worry, he doesn’t panic, he goes with whatever comes his way with his cool, jolly attitude and his big goofy smile and things always seem to fall into place. I wish I had been like him. I have NEVER been like him and probably never will be. There’s only so much you can do to change yourself, sometimes you born and labeled damaged goods. I can thank my own parents for that.

At least I tried I to face my fears and do things anyway which in itself is a big step. It’s okay to be fearful, everyone is probably afraid of something but making the attempt to overcome it, that’s like a pile of birthday presents you give to yourself, all wrapped up in silver and gold. It’s a birthday cake with your favorite filling, I choose vanilla cake, with chocolate frosting and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, I’m not messing around here. I’ll even throw in some oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate mint ice cream.

Life is a crap shoot. I admit, I am sometimes scared of the future, especially now that I am older. I was young once, just like you. I was young with hopeful thoughts and ideas and daydreams but I have lived a long time and Life has changed me. I hope it doesn’t change you too. Keep being positive and loving, honest and trusting. Even if you get hurt, it is worth the journey to experience that love, that excitement again. Take chances, as many as possible and don’t hesitate to try new things. If it doesn’t work out, move right on to something else. Don’t be like me, please, I beg of you, don’t be like me.

I’ll keep trying, in my own little corner of my world, but I don’t expect too much and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of reality thrown in to the mix anyway. I am who I am, some good, some bad, just like we all are. No, I’m not giving up anytime soon, I’m still teaching you, my boy, my darling boy.”

Deep sadness - old man [3]

Deep sadness – old man [3] (Photo credit: Zuhair Ahmad)

Carry on Tuesday: Where there is love there is life

Angel of Light

Angel of Light (Photo credit: the twinkling of an eye)

My upcoming birthday is in two days, yes, that’s right in two days. I do keep track of time, today is  11/11, my youngest daughter’s favorite time (at night) and favorite date and month. I remember she was thrilled when it was 11.11.11. I think that one of her old friends got married  on 11/11, have no idea of the date but it was a very long time ago, I remember driving my daughter to her house and getting the phone call. You know the one, the one where she says one thing that is code for “please pick me up NOW.”

I know she did that for her own kids, my grandchildren. Her first boy was like her, a little tentative, I had patience but their grandmother (he said  chuckling) “no way.” I remember she growled at him “Get back to bed” and he was scared after that, poor thing. The little one, the girl, “Principessa”, I called her in Italian, she decided to sleep over at 2 and a half, no pajamas, no doll, no toys and sure enough, she did. Slept through the night, oh, this one was going to be a world traveler, just like her grandmother. There was some bond between those two from the second she was born. I felt a closer bond with the boy, he was more like his mom, and like me, a little scared, “we were no heroes.” My daughter used to hide in the dark and scare me when she still lived at home, I didn’t know till many years later that she was more afraid of the dark than I ever was. She begged her own children not to scare her, ever. The things we learn over time; the things we all hide.

This is important: Our physical bodies die, yes, but not our spirits. Never our spirits and NEVER our love for you who are still on earth. My daughter believes that, she likes a message from me now and then and I send them to her when she needs them most. My wife, her mom, she is scared of messages, doesn’t really believe so I’m very gentle with her. She had a really hard life, I knew her best and defended her but no one else really did. In our family, my youngest was just like me and my eldest daughter was just like her mother, that’s why it’s been harder for “the little one.” I get it. That, I can’t change, that she needs to deal with on her own, like the grown-up she is. Her mother and I always used to say, “she’s sweet on the outside but don’t ever forget, inside she is steel.” “She can handle anything.” She always did, I wish she could remember that more often, but that too, she needs to learn and relearn.

There is an expression that I have heard even when I was living on earth, “where there is love, there is life” I’m here to explain that. Once there is love, there is ALWAYS love. Love. Does. Not. Die. How could it? Why would we stop loving you any less in  the after life than you would stop loving us? It doesn’t make sense, right? We want you to go on in your lives, to be happy, to know that our physical bodies are healed but also know, we will never forget you just like you won’t forget us. Remember, as your love for us continues, our love for you does too. Keep your hearts open to everything good. Remember always, we love you back, and watch over you, always. p.s. To my little one, I appreciate your birthday wishes but please don’t be sad. Love, Dad

The Person Whose Advice I Seek First When I Am In Doubt- Plinky Prompt

Cleaver family

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I feel like growing up in the fifties and sixties with “Father Knows Best and “Leave It To Beaver” I do turn to my husband first. He knows me best, he will never side with me when I am wrong and he looks at all angles. I will also ask my sister and my friends, my mom, for certain things, but I turn to him first. Defining “doubt” though would be helpful because it really does depend on the situation.
Generally, the person who knows me best is me. I look inwards before I look anywhere else. I feel it in my gut if I am making the right decision or the wrong one. Now and then, I take a poll and I ask everyone, all my friends. It helps me to think things through out-loud but I usually end up with my first emotional gut reaction.

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Whose Opinion Do I Turn To First? Plinky Prompt

Wonder (emotion)

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  • The Person Whose Advice I Seek First
  • I feel like I grew up in the thirties instead of the sixties but in all honesty, I turn to my husband first. He knows me best, he will never side with me when I am wrong and he looks at all angles. I will also ask my sister and my friends, my mom for certain things but I turn to him first. Defining “doubt” though would be helpful because it really does depend on the situation.
    Generally, the person that knows me best is me. I look inwards before I look anywhere else. I feel it in my gut if I am making the right decision or the wrong one. Now and then, I take a poll and I ask everyone, all my friends. It helps me to think things through out loud but I usually end up with my initial gut reaction.

My Freckles Are Spreading, No Really

Ashton Kutcher at Time 100 Gala

Image via Wikipedia

I was in a small shopping mall last week and I passed a mirror and I thought, for a quick second, that I saw my reflection. No, that couldn’t be me. I must have seen someone else. Whoever it was, looked bloated, tired, pale and cranky. She was wearing a green shirt, and mom jeans with protruding stomach rolls, and she was frowning furiously that showed deep wrinkle lines.  That’s NOT me! Um, but I am wearing the same outfit and my eyes are green…..

Maybe the mirror I looked in was one of those funny mirrors that they use in amusement parks, or pranks!  I looked around for Ashton Kutcher because I thought I was being  “Punked”or at the very least, pranked. Ashton, however  was no where in sight and the only camera looking at me was a security camera following my every, suspicious move.

That old, sad, mad, fat person warily looking back at me made me want to weep and hide in some stranger’s musty attic or move to Canada or better yet, Italy. I can give good advice to others about positive body image but it wasn’t working for me today.  Today, I flunked the course.  I  ordered a chopped salad for lunch (appetizer size) and I had that lovely tiny slice of Italian cheesecake with the essence of orange, but don’t those things cancel each other out?

If big, cranky, frowning lady wasn’t enough I also saw that there is now something quite wrong with my skin. I’ve always had that pale, cream-cheese complexion but things are changing.  My freckles are joining together; I’m sure that’s what it must be.  It couldn’t be the dreaded old age spots, could it? This day just keeps getting better and better.

Just one more thing: I remembered the cashier at A & P  who asked me my age. I was so confused…..until she told me that Seniors, 55 and older get 5% off their bill on Tuesdays. It was Tuesday and while I am not 55, I’m really damn close. So, thanks for the discount but your people skills stink.

I know all the reasons why women gain weight in their, (cough, cough) mid to later years and I lend these pearls of wisdom to friends as easily as I would a  button-down blue sweater. My own body crashed with Menopause, followed closely by an Underactive Thyroid condition and an Auto-immune Disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. After that, I was diagnosed with  Fibromyalgia. But, today I’m just not buying it. I don’t care, I just know how awful I feel. Today, I am allowing myself to sulk.

Maybe tomorrow I will be able to put things in perspective. I will remember that good health is more important than weight, that I have a wonderful family and I am grateful for so many things. As for the cheesecake? It was worth every bite. The mirror? That, was pure evil.

It’s Time To Skip, Again

My 2 children spontaneously hold hands and joy...

Fear: I know your name and how you make me feel. My fingers are deep in the inner pocket of my blue fleece jacket rubbing my thumb and forefinger over the soft texture again and again. It is part of my life and everyone’s life at some point. It takes a long time to get over it but eventually you have to and you do. It is like a lazy turtle hiding in its thick green shell and only slowly, with caution, it sticks it’s leery head out and barely looks left and right. It retreats, yes, we all do but we do come out again. Maybe it’s a little easier the next time.

Life is like that, everyone can be terrified at some point and it took me years to accept that it wasn’t just me. I am still cautious, I still get those annoying, tight anxiety strings that pull and tug until they think they can wear me down. I try to push back but sometimes I fail and that is alright. There are solutions because we cannot handle everything ourselves. We need other people or we need medicine or we need to write down our fears or do a collage to rid ourselves of the scary lion, in our minds, attacking its innocent prey. Sometimes, we need to force ourselves to jump or to take a baby step or to skip like when we were innocent children. Remember the feeling of skipping down the street with your best friend? Pure joy and innocence and no fear whatsoever. Maybe we can still be that person once in a while.

It is alright to make mistakes and to make them all over again. Some lessons are hard to learn but not impossible. I know that I feel that too. Some people hide it better than others, some quake, some sweat, some can’t speak for a moment but eventually you find your OWN path. Don’t think it’s just you because it isn’t. I promise. Think of someone who you think has absolutely no fear and then think again. Everyone feels frightened some time in their life. There are some of us that wear our hearts on our sleeves, like me. You can notice my feelings on my face ten feet away, at least some people can; others, don’t notice a thing.

Sometimes I have to play a game. You can play it too. Plaster a great big fake smile on your face and pretend you are absolutely confident. Once my college teacher called it “the confidence game” and I needed it as much as anyone else. It takes time to master it but give it a chance. You might be happily surprised.

“What if I fail?” asks the nervous me. “What if I made a really big mistake?”  I wept to one of my son’s teachers when he was in first grade, “Stand in line, she said “do you think you’re the first one to make a mistake?”  To me it seemed colossal and I did fret with worry but it made me think. My son is now eighteen and I still think of her words, I can picture the teacher’s red hair and the tears on my face streaming down like a small but steady waterfall. When I finally stopped weeping and gave her a hug, I left feeling a tiny bit better. As years went by I always remembered that and now I give other people the same advice I was given. It is okay to make mistakes, everyone does.

If I had any failures in my life most of them were because I was “scared to try.”  I look back at my life and think it might have been really healthy to have been fired once or twice, or scolded and reprimanded instead of TRYING to be the perfect me. My one badge of pride is that I did not pass on my own fears to my children. For this, and this alone, I have succeeded in a spectacular way. I have also forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made, because the decisions I made at the time seemed right. Now, knowing more and being older if I try really hard, I can make different choices. Not always, but sometimes and that’s perfectly good enough.

People Called Me Lazy

free 'sweet' hugs

My Fibromyalgia was diagnosed four years ago along with an autoimmune (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) disease and a connective tissue disorder. They both were gifts I got after menopause. Thanks. I’d rather burst into tears a hundred times and change night shirts six times a night than have this. I’m sure I’ve had Fibromyalgia for a long time, I just didn’t know what it was.

I never had the same amount of energy that other people had and I always needed ten hours of sleep. I can’t function on less than eight but ten is ideal. Let’s not forget the nap too. I used to nap every day for three hours, every single day and I would head to bed at 9:3o pm each night. Every bone in my body hurt, I  thought I had the flu,  without the temperature  but it never went away. New pain pops up like the springs of an old mattress and I just sit there in utter disbelief.’ No,’ I would say to myself,’ it can’t be. Isn’t there enough pain and discomfort?’ Sigh. Apparently not.

This pain I have makes me feel like a hundred years old; my 83-year-old mother is in so much better shape than I am. She does yoga once a week, she swims every day,  she is out of her apartment all day, going to the city, socializing with friends. She literally runs around without stopping to rest or sit down or G-d forbid, nap.  In the beginning, before she understood, (does she really understand now?) she used to tell me that I needed more exercise which is a common thing for people with Fibromyalgia to be told, over and over again. Read My Lips, NO CAN DO. I can barely make it around the block twice with my friends. They continue for a third loop and I beg off, mostly I’m fine with it, a few times I have had a twinge of embarrassment even though there is no reason for me to feel that way.

You get unsolicited advice from many people, people who don’t have a chronic pain illness. Go holistic, just get massages, change your diet. They might as well say dye your hair, or drink raw eggs or spin like a top and throw up as a cleanse. We KNOW the choices that are out there, really, we do. But generally we look to other pain sufferers for the answers not you. We know you mean well but frankly, it doesn’t help us.   Often, we don’t know WHAT to do and we are the ones that are suffering.  I’m there now. I’m not only caught up in the cotton-headed Fibromyalgia Fog (where am I, what did I come up here for?) that is my life but I feel unsure and anxious about my options.  I don’t know what to do or who to turn to or who to trust.  My energy is better from the medication I am currently on but now I have new pain in my legs. Great, I can stay up all day having more energy but with more pain. Do I have more pain from the side effects of the medication or from Fibromyalgia or wait, it could be from my auto-immune disease or connective tissue disorder. Listen up, world, I can’t speak for other people, but I am often unsure and clueless, trying to live in this world, day by day. I’m the first one to admit that I have no clue if what I am doing is right. How can we know that? We go to top doctors and hope for the best, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Do we settle? Do we stretch? Do we give up on medications? Is six weeks enough time to know that a medicine is working? Who knows? We don’t have the answers either, believe me it’s our fervent wish to understand and solve these medical mysteries.

I have stopped scheduling things in advance because I don’t know how I will feel that day at that time. My good friends understand, they will say “let’s talk the morning of” and I really appreciate it. My friend Sarah will just say “let’s see how you feel” and her concern (and no advice) is for my health and I know she just wants me to feel good and be happy; I also know she worries about me. I appreciate everyone’s concern, truly, I just sometimes don’t know what to say. I wish I was healthier too and in less pain,  I wish I didn’t have new symptoms from time to time but I do. Please understand that I like it a whole lot less than you. I know you feel bad for me but be careful of your words, saying “just when I thought you had every symptom in the book, you get another one,” is really not helpful. I know what I am going through you don’t need to tell me. Just be there for me, listen, offer me gentle hugs and a shoulder to cry on, be supportive. Take it from me, that’s plenty and more than enough.