A Mother by any other name…

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I’m thinking about my mothers…I’ve had grands, and greats, and almost adopted, steps, and in-laws, and like a mom mothers, but I never had a Mommy, not even a Mama or a Ma.

Oh well, can’t waste my time longing for what never was, nor will ever be. Luckily I did have a Grammie and a Mimi to step up and in when my 17 year old “mom” dipped.

Me sitting with Mimi. My cousin Heather in front.

Mimi, who was 5’ nothing with big boobs and a tiny waist, was born in 1900 to German immigrants. She was one of a kind and she was Grammie’s mother. Grammie, who had her proper Englishman father’s height and clear blue eyes, but Mimi’s wild head of curls and stubborn streak, was my mother’s mother.

My Grandmother through the years

These are the two most influential women in my world. It’s because of them I know that even though sometimes mothers leave (and come back, and leave again, and so on), that sometimes people who say they love you, stay. It’s because of them I know that unconditional love is a real thing. They softened and smoothed the rough edges left by the carelessness of others.

It was the beginning of the summer of 1990, Mimi and I were having lunch in the backyard when I saw her hand begin to shake. I asked her what was wrong and she tried to say nothing. The shaking grew more violent and spread up her arm, her fingers uncontrollably twisted around the rosary beads she prayed on regularly, and almost always held.

She was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and remained in the hospital until summer’s end, passing away just weeks after I gave birth to my first child. So grateful for the just shy of twenty years I had her in my life.

Grammie remained my constant. She was there to celebrate every joy, and ease what burdens she could. She loved me at times, both in childhood and adulthood, when I was not very lovable. I thought she’d always be there. It seemed impossible there would come a time she wasn’t.

Visiting Grammie in the hospital
1996

And then came the beginning of the end. The “end” spanned ten years. From diagnosis, down to the final days, I observed this woman of strength and dignity surrender the things she could no longer enjoy and accept the next phase with a graceful ease.

I was the lucky one. It was that last Friday evening I was alone with her that she experienced what hospice commonly refers to as the rally. For the last several weeks she had either been withdrawn, not speaking at all, or agitated and picking at the bed sheets nervously. Tonight was different as she sat up straight in her bed, pillows propped comfortably around her. Her pale blue eyes, that always so easily betrayed her emotion, whether it was with a flash of anger, or a deep sadness that could break your heart if you looked too long, now sparkled with life I hadn’t seen in months.

I had brought along a writing assignment to work on as I sat at her bedside, since typically her interaction was so minimal. This night she had surprised me when she turned to me and asked what I was doing. I explained the premise of the piece and then read it to her. It was personal and spoke of regrets and accountability and the gratitude to move forward and do better. She listened intently, and with a gentleness about her not frequently witnessed by many, she assured me of her love and pride in who I had become. Then much to my surprise she asked me to pray with her. As I held her hand in mine, I leaned over and laid my head on her chest. Together we said The Lord’s Prayer. With her free hand she smoothed the hair back off my forehead in a comforting gesture that took me back to childhood.

Afterwards we spoke of that childhood and many of the happy memories it held. From the exotic travels she took me on, to the simplicity of laying on our backs Christmas Eve watching the patterns dance across the ceiling from the twinkling tree lights. We laughed belly laughs about things that only we thought were funny, the inside jokes that stemmed from a life experienced together.

As it grew later and she was becoming tired, she occasionally glanced towards the corner, once asking me who the people over there were. I assured her it was only the light playing tricks with the shadows. I could see the energy draining from her and I was exhausted as well. I laid her bed back to the reclined position and readjusted her pillows. I tucked the blankets around her with care and pressed my lips to her forehead. I lingered there a second and appreciated the moment of connection, the sense of being grounded. As I pulled back I looked at her and realized she had always been what grounded me. I touched her face gently and I thanked her.

That was the last time she ever spoke. She slipped into a catatonic state and by Sunday I received the call telling me she had begun the active phase of dying. That’s how specifically hospice can break it down for you. They suggested the process could be anywhere from a few hours to a day or two.

I was in the garden with my youngest child when I took the call. “Do you have to go now?” She asked me as I hung up the phone. I gathered my thoughts as I looked around at the flats of pansies waiting to be planted, “no” I said “In a little bit, but not now”. Other family members were at my grandmother’s bedside now and I needed to be where I was, present in this moment out in the sun with Tia, our hands in the dirt. It was through participating in this springtime ritual of living I would gather the strength needed to be present for the dying.

The hospice nurse gave us instructions on how to proceed in caring for Grammie in these final hours. Once she had left, only myself, my Aunt Holly, cousin Haley, and my mother remained. Usual differences placed aside and each woman’s desire to be there for their own personal reasons respected by the others.

The hours stretched out and rolled into the next day. It seemed fitting that the sky was gray and subject to occasional downpours. I had put music on in her room from the big band era she loved, and my tears began to quietly fall as I sang along softly with ‘Till We Meet Again.

We had been taking turns sitting bedside, however as longer stretches elapsed between the breathes she struggled to take, we had all gathered around to say our final goodbyes. I sat to her right and held onto her hand. Eventually no more breathes came and within moments her skin grew cool to the touch. She was gone. Death had come quietly. She left this world with the same calm, dignified strength, by which she had lived. I glanced toward the corner and thought to myself that perhaps just as we had surrounded her to bid farewell, Mimi and the others were now welcoming her.

It is with so much love and gratitude that I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my Grammie & Mimi, who I’m sure are together again, and never really too far from me.

Please allow me to introduce myself…

Nice to meet you.

Ok, so I referred to my second post as my “introductory”, however the only thing I ever really introduced was the blog ideas I won’t be doing.

Next in an attempt to actually introduce myself, I somehow got the bright idea to start in the beginning ….as in the beginningest beginning possible …cue pregnant teen mom, her tale of woe, leading into my own twisted toddler years…Some really fun tales indeed, but upon giving it some actual consideration, this is not where I want to narrate some linear unfolding of my life story. So, three additional posts in, with a quick “delete, delete, delete”, here we are again.

I am banking on the fact that this is a brand new blog, which I haven’t even taken the time to complete my website for, and the chances of it getting more than a visit or two, are super slim. Those who are passing through, thanks so much for that and you are the witnesses to my early on, ever changing whims. The hope is that I will eventually hit a groove, and perhaps crank out something consistent, in the form of at least mildly entertaining. I find myself mildly entertaining on a regular basis, so here’s to translating that via an online blog. Haha, probably easier said than done. But we shall see…

Ok, so introducing myself for real…You can call me Dee Dee, or Dee, it’s short for Deanna. I spent years trying to shake the nickname Dee Dee, and now here I am, in middle age, embracing it. Ahhh, middle age…yup, that’s where I’m at. I’ve always said I believed I’d live to be at least 100, and I still believe it. Now that I’m fast approaching my 50th birthday (and I do mean fast, “time flies” is a factual statement), I truly consider it the midlife mark. All good though…so what if I’m in the senior years of my first half of life, I’m about to be in the infancy of my second half! And the awesome thing is, I DO KNOW NOW, what I’d wished I’d known then! Something tells me this is gonna be fun.

I get it, I know there’s all this society pressure on women that shames us into hating ourselves for getting older, that youth is the prize, but in regard to that I say…oh please, eff that!!

I’m plenty young. I’m young in all the ways that matter most. I’ve got tons more to learn, to see, to experience. I wasn’t always this young though. You know when I was old? When I was 25. I was so old then. I would look in the mirror and see the beginnings of fine lines around my eyes, and bags underneath them. The lines forming around my mouth, exaggerated with every drag of the cigarettes I chain smoked.

At 25 I had three children under the age of 5, the oldest with special needs, a crappy marriage < sorry to my ex for writing it like that, if you ever happen to read this. I mean really, I accept a lot of the responsibility for the “crappy” part.

When I wasn’t busy trying to embrace the role of wife and mother (key word “trying”), I waitressed and bartended. I was a slave to addictive behaviors that popped up in a multitude of ways and I was basically bluffing my way through life. Damn, that exhausted me to the point of numb. Yeah, I was old.

Now just about double that age, add in a shit ton of life experience, self discovery through both bad choices and good, and today you have me…A happy, fairly well adjusted, life loving, youthful woman. Today I show up and actually am the things I present myself to be. I am a mother. I am a marina manager. I am a friend who has incredible friends. I am a partner in a relationship. I am a lover of things that feed my soul, and excite my senses, from the music I listen to, to the places I travel, to the coffee I drink. I am so mutha f*ckin’ alive today, and I feel the good and the bad, with an intensity far superior to the anesthetic numbness I embraced during those early years when I was old.

And that my (hopefully there’s a couple of you) readers, is a brief synopsis of my story thus far. There’s so much more to tell though…because you know, the devil is in the details…😈

Virtual hugs & salty kisses xo

Inspired by a mermaid…

So this will technically appear as my second post, but in reality it is my third. It should really have been my first. My introductory if you will. I’ve never been one for doing things in order.

I have contemplated a blog for quite a while now. I did one a few years back. It was fun and successful, but that is because it was on a specific event and to a targeted audience. I was a lay person on a medical mission team. We traveled to Ecuador and stayed in a remote Amazonian village, Guadalupe. While there we used the local clinic, along with a box truck converted to a mobile operating room, to perform many relatively simple procedures. Gallbladders, Goiters, etc. I was allowed to scrub in, I held the hands of nervous patients, I was taught to pass without contaminating, I helped in any way I could. I was given the opportunity to be the proverbial fly on the wall listening to some of the most brilliant medical minds of our time, discuss future planned advancements in their mission work. Truly an incredible experience. Definitely one worth writing about.

Enough about that though. That was then, this is now. I’ve done some local mission work since, but none that has taken me out of the country. I had always planned on eventually traveling to Africa to continue that particular journey, but for now life has stalled that plan. Perhaps someday, never say never. When and if I do, I will no doubt write about it, however past trips and possible future trips, does not provide me something current to write about today. So, back to blog ideas for the present time.

One, positively brilliant-if I do say so myself, idea I had for a blog, was what I would have called… “Jade’s jaded adventures in Wonderland”…it would have been a chronicle of my tinder date experiences. Fun, fun!

Several years ago I went through what was a pretty horrific divorce. There I was in my early forties thrown back into the single girl world. Suffice it to say things had changed a lot since I had dated last and I was not only terribly out of practice, but a little knocked around emotionally from the level of betrayal I had experienced. Well, might as well jump into the dating pool with both feet. I quickly learned that nobody seemed to meet organically anymore. I downloaded the trending app, chose some pictures I thought were not only flattering, but represented my well rounded lifestyle and wrote a brief bio introducing myself to the online dating world.

I would soon come to find that the tinder men fell in two camps…1-looking for a “hook-up” or 2-looking for “the one”. Falling somewhere in between that myself, I erased my bio and changed to the tag line “I have no plan beyond coffee”. And that was the truth!

Oh the stories I have. Every blog post would be the details of a date in all its sitcom worthy awkwardness. Sometimes I could hear the laugh track in my mind. A select few made it to a second date, but a third was elusive. I occasionally accepted one, but would later bail. Good times!

Well, look at that, I’m back in the past again talking about what I could’ve done! Obviously I never did get around to putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, on that idea. And eventually a planned third date was kept. That gave way to a fourth and fifth and then the weeks rolled into months. Before I knew it, I had found myself in a relationship. There goes that blog idea.

So, my first post divorce relationship…almost three years of on and off again drama. Teenage angst in midlife never looked so good. He’s a story that might be worth telling, but I haven’t found my words yet. It was a complex connection, one that would take more space than I have here to explain. For now he shall stay privately tucked away and placed in a safe spot, maybe to be looked at later on another platform. We’ll see.

Back to the Mermaid inspiration for this blog…I live in a small seaside community. I have always felt drawn to the water for as far back as I can remember, and not only am I a stones throw from it at all times here in my hometown, but my current career consists of my being surrounded by boats, beach, and the sea. What a place to call your office. Resisting the urge to say “hashtag blessed” right now. < corny, I know! I am though…blessed that is. While individual details of my life, standing on their own as a singular experience, may look particularly challenging, I have been gifted with the Grace to see the good side of most things. The beauty in moments. I live a life I like, and I’m as happy alone as I am with a partner. As a matter of fact, I was beginning to think maybe even more so being alone.

Ahhh, but then it happened. This local boy sailed into my life, and everything changed. He was a fine sailor, who had been right under my nose. I didn’t find him on an app. I didn’t resist a second or third date with him. This sailor is far from perfect, but perfect enough for me. He is the sailor who I wrote of in my second, now deleted, post on this blog.

Why did I delete it? It was too out of order, even for me. And it was a sweet, personal memory. Not one to be shared from a place of hostile retaliation directed toward a past lover of his. It is real, and true, and mine to be held near to my heart always. When and if I share the tale, as it is my story to tell, it will be from a place purely of fond recall.

Now, about this past lover of his, enter “the mermaid”…yes, she fancies herself a mermaid, hence my previous mermaid hating post. Now I’m not usually the sort to display, or even have, such animosity toward an ex lover of my current lover. This one however, warrants an exception. Aside from mentioning that I landed here in WordPress due to her creative tagging of my boyfriend in some outlandish blog posts, I shall not use this time and space to shout out her list of atrocities, I’m just going to ask you to take my word for it.

As previously mentioned, being a lover of the sea, I am also a lover of the creatures that dwell in it. Seahorses hold a particular fascination. While their appearance seems almost magical enough to be as mythical as a mermaid, they are in fact real. Aside from being fascinating in all the very factual ways they are, the mythology behind them is equally delightful. As highlighted in that previous post the folklore between Seahorses and mermaids stands in sharp contrast to each other. It doesn’t take any deep pondering to see the points I am making there.

There you have it. I was upset with a meddling mermaid and took to a safe outlet to express my frustrations. I wrote a silly story, as opposed to acting out in any other way. In doing so, I was reminded how right it feels to express myself through the written word. I don’t lay claim to being any great writer, the next Hemingway I am not, but I can string together some words in a cohesive thought pattern to tell a story. Oh, and I’ve got stories…

If anybody stops by to read this, and hasn’t been bored to tears already, please stop by to read my next post. I have new ideas brewing for the direction of this blog. Not a one having to do with mermaids. I do owe her a debt of gratitude though for the inspiration. I guess it’s true, inspiration can be found in the damnedest of places…

Virtual hugs & salty kisses to y’all

The truth about Mermaids

When we think of mermaids we tend to think of Disney’s sweet Ariel. She is as kind and good as she is beautiful. She saves a drowning sailor and falls in love with him as she does so. She loves him so deeply that she is willing to sacrifice anything for them to be together…ahhh true love…but, yeah…no. That is not an accurate depiction of long standing folklore. In fact, it is the total opposite.

Mermaids are bad luck to sailors. To glimpse one is an omen of danger. To actually interact with one can mean doom. They summon the storms that cause ship wrecks, they drown sailors and trap them in an underworld where they are treated as slaves. The mermaid may initially appear as beautiful. They hide behind long flowing hair and a siren song, but upon closer observation they reveal their true form. They are hideous monsters. Their ugliness matching their horrific intentions.

Luckily there are Seahorses. The Seahorse is a magical, unique creature. They are powerful. Sacred to Poseidon. Greek mythology tells us that it is the Seahorse that keeps the sailors safe, and who stays by the side of a drowned sailor to accompany him from one world to the next, assuring he meets no further harm along the way. Now that sounds like true love.

Many ancient cultures connected the Seahorse with various Divine beings.
In Rome and Greece, for example, the Seahorse was sacred to Poseidon and Neptune, potent sea gods. As a result, one of the keynote meanings for Seahorse is one of power and authority, particularly in matters of emotion and intuition because of the Water Element involved.

With all that in mind, it’s no wonder that as much as mermaids are bad luck to sailors, the Seahorse is the ultimate symbol of good luck for a sailor.