It’s not like you’re a widow…

Those words hit me like a freight train. I’m not his widow.

I’m not allowed to feel that kind of sadness that swallows one whole and depletes one of the ability to exist and perform. But I feel it.

I was standing there, beside him when he took his last breath. His eyes focused, lingered, and closed one last time. I stepped back, because his wife was in the next room. She would want to be close to him. I stepped back out of the way. His heart kept beating, she leaned over and hugged him close. I’d only held his hand.

The kind of love one friend feels for another isn’t always romantic.

He was sitting behind a desk when I walked into the Spring Green office in Denver Tech Center. CMP was a mortgage company that held the loan on my house. He was the broker. There were two men there that day, Bill Clarke and Rob Robinson, and my husband of seven years (yes, I said *two men* and my husband wasn’t one of them, by his own choices). We laughed, worked through the paper work and Rob invited us to join him for lunch at a diner across the drive. We had sourdough, pastrami and mustard pannini and iced tea. I remember the texture of the table.

My husband held my hand, rubbed my shoulder and talked about farming.

Rob, Bill and I joined forces that day and opened a brokerage firm that would ultimately be the basis of our friendship, and my financial salvation when my marriage crashed two years later. My daughter said it best the morning after my husband left, “He’s been walking out for eleven years, he finally took his clothes…”

Those next few years were a struggle. But we survived. We thrived under the watchful eye of my business partners, who reached out to my four children and offered encouragement. Bill and his wife became constant friends, always supporting, encouraging, sharing. Rob became my confidant. He share those moments when the rest of the world was fast asleep. He listened. He laughed. He cried. He reminded me frequently that I gave the best hugs in the whole wide world, and told me every single time I saw him what a gorgeous woman I was.

One night, during the late summer, it was so hot I couldn’t sleep and I went outside with my phone to sit on the deck. Rob called, “I can’t sleep. Are you awake?” We talked for hours. He shared his dreams, I shared mine. We shared our thoughts about the future, about what my kids were doing, how life was treating each of us, and then we shared how we felt about our friendship.

He was my best friend. I loved him as much as I had ever loved, and I trusted him. He gave my children more than any other man had ever given them, including their father… Not things, but support, instruction, love, his blessing. Things that mattered to children. He cared.

As the night cooled, the hours passed and it was near the wee hours of the morning, Rob yawned on the phone and I said, “I should let you get some rest.” He held on a moment longer, whispering sweet words, reminding me how much he loved and cared about me and that he would always be there for me.

Sitting in the middle of the picnic table on my deck, I looked up and watched as a mountain lion strolled down the street, taking each step purposefully without hesitation, I whispered, “There’s a mountain lion walking down the street.” And Rob said, “Jan, you need to get inside.”

I waited and watched. The mountain lion kept walking. He stopped at the corner, looked both ways and then moved toward the west and out of sight.

I stepped off the table and went inside, as I closed the door, I heard the mountain lion scream. The chilling sound of life ending and the realization that the circle continues.

A few weeks later, Rob called to tell me he was getting married to a wonderful woman he had known from church. I’d met her once, when I attended church with him, while visiting my daughter in college. She was extraordinary. A delightful woman who suited him well, who loved him with her whole heart, a woman he loved completely.

Our friendship grew to include her. She brightened his world and inspired him, a benefit to me. I gained so much from her insight and wisdom. I grew to love her as a friend.

Rob never stopped being there for my children. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he shared the news with us, came to visit and see my new grandbabies. He came to visit when my mom had cancer, while I cared for her. He was there for us whenever we needed him, and he called if he needed us. We were there for him too.

As he slipped away from this world, I was there. But I wasn’t his widow.

No, that privilege was saved for the woman he gave his name. I was ‘just a friend’.

That’s what happened.

The day he left this world, as I drove home from his place, I called a girlfriend to share the sadness that threatened to overwhelm my heart. She’s a good friend, and I know she didn’t mean to hurt me. But… her words…

Through my tears, I relayed the message and she said, “Yeah, you’ll miss him. But he was just a friend… It’s not like you’re his widow, or something…”

No. I’m not his widow. That honor is saved for a dear woman I consider my friend.

First Kiss

I absolutely LOVE the Family Reunions in Nashville. Friends of Country Music get together, play music and sing… the best of the best.

It’s one of my favorite music videos to watch, one after another. Usually a Sunday afternoon, when I settle in for a nice nap, either before or after, I catch myself pulling youtube.com up on my phone and searching for my favorites. Always — Gene Watson — comes up. I fell in love as a teenager, listening to his music in Nashville around the swimming pool. He sang new songs, old songs. Any song…

Continue reading First Kiss

With God, I have no fear…

fear no evil The photo is borrowed from a source that provides photos for facebook, and if you click on the photo it will take you to the link (I think – I tried to put that link in the folder).

Today, feeling like I’ve stepped on millions of toes recently, I stepped back to look over some of the incidents that seem to have taken my attitude the wrong way recently. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by life, and that’s not a normal feeling for me. I prefer to feel a bit more in control of my life. So, it was definitely time to step out of the purgatory of victimhood and look around at what’s happening to make me feel like a victim in my own life.

Continue reading With God, I have no fear…

When Friendship Goes Wrong

Doing the life dance, I’ve learned there’s a cost. Over the years, I’ve heard many people talk about boundaries and how well boundaries manage friendships and relationships… Maybe true, maybe not.

I’m not a fan of the way most people attempt to set boundaries. Not only is the method self serving and ineffective, but more often than not,  blatantly RUDE.

Example: Discussions of religion or politics.

These topics are not readily acceptable in public, but if you have a problem with them being discussed, YOU are the one with the problem, not everyone in the room. Most adults are capable of having a conversation without attacking others, and those who understand that others have a difference of opinion may disagree, but they don’t attack.

Those who don’t understand this may need a little help, a boundary if you like, to adjust their message a bit.

A good boundary would be, “I disagree with what you’re saying and we’re not going to be able to agree, but I appreciate you sharing. Now, might be a good time to change the topic. My grandmother has taken up ballet dancing in France, would you like to see her photos?”

A bad boundary is, “What you say offends me and I expect an apology from you before I can continue to talk to you.”

The first example, the speaker takes responsibility for his/her own feelings, states the fact that the two won’t agree and acknowledge the other person’s right to have an opinion, then moves on to a different topic.

The second example, the speaker gives ALL responsibility for the offense to the other person, demands an apology, and figuratively “takes his toys and goes home.”

Either example can be used by the person who feels offended, but the second one takes no responsibility for his personal choices. This social boundary is one that prevails more often than not, leaving the person who feels offended with no personal control over his/her feelings. OOOPS. Do they want NO CONTROL over their feelings?

When friendship goes wrong because boundaries are wrongly used, the person who gave up all responsibility for their personal feelings becomes a “self-made” VICTIM waiting indefinitely for their “proclaimed abuser” to validate their existence and victim status by apologizing for having an opinion. The second person if they fall for the demand, then becomes an enabler, actuating the victim status with the proposed apology, and feeling frustrated themselves for having apologized for something they feel no REAL guilt over.

Psycho-babble? Yes, of the worst kind.

Often, so called psychiatrists, dig deep into a person’s psychic and offer perceived explanations for self-created victim status, applauding the “victim” for seeking help. Psychiatrists and Counselors make BIG Money applauding victims in their pursuit of “help” as they spend hours listening to the “victim” explain how others have wronged them, wrongly.

In all the counseling sessions I’ve attended (and there have been a few), there were VERY few trained counselors who indicated that I should take responsibility for my own actions/reactions and either move on from a relationship or simply let go of the relationship to allow the other person to take responsibility for their own actions. More often, the counselor/psychiatrist indicated I should seek to repair the broken relationship by explaining to the other person their fault in the break.

No. No… No! That’s not the solution!

With any situation, if you can OWN it, you can FIX it.

Take responsibility for the broken relationship. Understand your own part in the situation and acknowledge that you might have been at fault, then fix it if you can. If you can’t fix it, take responsibility for your own choices and walk away – NOT A VICTIM. Don’t jump into the fire accepting all responsibility if it isn’t yours, that enables a victim mentality in the other person. But do own  your part in the situation and FIX that part. If there’s more and you can’t fix it, see if you can discuss it with the other person, but if there’s no option for fixing the problem other than enabling the person to continue being a victim, stop there.

Say this, “I love you and I am at fault for my part of this issue. I’ll fix that, but I can’t take responsibility for your part of the problem. It’s been a lovely friendship and I’ll miss you, but I won’t carry your part of our friendship as well as my own. God bless you my friend, I’ll be praying for you.”

And let them go their way, with your blessings.

Tell me how you handle broken friendships and how you might fix one, if possible. I’d like other thoughts on this issue.

Once Upon a Sisterhood

Sisters. The joy, the delight, the trials, and the trouble of growing up with a sister.  Sibling rivalry is a tough road to travel, but most sisters go there,  no matter how much they love each other. The fighting isn’t part of the plan, but it’s almost always part of the experience.

My sister is a talented woman. Our talents are the least of our problems, and I don’t think either of us lacks any confidence in that area of our lives. She’s got a particular style that carries through in anything she attempts, and I’ve got a very different style that carries through in my artistic ventures. Seldom do our skills overlap in any given area, although we both use some of the same mediums.

Tea with cream, please.The problems arise when others dare to meddle in our tea. Mind you, we both like our tea, quite differently prepared. I like my tea hot or cold, with lemon and honey or a little cream, and she prefers hers as coffee, black. We bicker and fight over inane subjects, topics that matter none at all, or worse… over misunderstandings, but no matter what, no matter when, no matter how, when push comes to shove… she’s still my sister.

Which reminds me of an old saying (probably from some 1950’s movie I’ve watched)…

Don’t you dare… pick on my sister, mister!

Wounded Hearts

When your grandchild asks if she can sit on your knee… do you say yes? After being sick for several days, I was attempting to make up some time while my daughter was off work taking care of the kids this morning. When she left for her late day job, shortly after noon, the kids had both crashed, sleeping off fevers and winter colds. Elizabeth woke up first and came to stand by my chair.

She waited a little, before she asked, “Gramma, can I sit on your knee.”

“Sure, sis, let me finish this message and I’ll lift you up.” I finished quickly, hit the send button and pulled her up on my knee while I waited for a return email from the client on the other end. She had a low grade fever and leaned her head into my shoulder. I massaged her back and touched cool hands to her face.

“Gramma, my old daddy hit my mommy,” my heart stopped. “But he’s gone now.”

I rocked her slowly, still massaging her back.

“Mommy is going to find us a new daddy that won’t hit her any more,” her voice trailed off and I thought maybe she was dozing for a bit. Breathing deeply she said, “My old daddy hit mommy on the purple couch. But we don’t have it anymore and we don’t have him anymore because he hit my mommy and that hurts her.”

I know that fever often brings to life memories that had faded into lost crevices of the mind, illuminating them and highlighting them, as if they’re right there in front of you. I prayed for my granddaughter and for her mother those years ago when they lived with an abusive, drug inhibited man. The sadness of those hours had weighed heavily upon that little girls heart all these years and she remembered to share the account vividly enough that I could recognize the place and time.

The couch, a brown velvet love seat, so dilapidated that you literally fell through the cushions had been a favorite of the old daddy who hit her mommy. The fabric so worn and aged that purple was a highlight color that a little girl would remember. Chills swept through me as I held her close and remembered the many times I’d suspected that man had beaten my little girl, but I had no way of proving. She loved him so much she was willing to take the beatings and defend him, trying to make a home for her child.

Yet now, the child shared the memories of pain. Another wounded heart, so terrorized by the memory that in her fever she could describe the scene without prompting, without coercion and without any assistance from anyone, lived in a child too young to testify against the man in court, should lawyers choose to give him custody, or even unsupervised visitation. My heart bled for the child I held safe in my arms, praying that she never face the brutal beatings of a heartless man who cared nothing for himself, his family or his child.

Wounded hearts exist. There are so many who have witnessed abuse, experience abuse, or been victims of abuse in their own homes. The abuse is more than just a beating, or someone who hits a spouse, it often comes from those who find little or no significance in family values, in life with a family and refuse to take responsibility for their loved ones. WE must keep our children secure and protect them from the abuse.

 

Living the Good Life

As provocative as it may sound, that suddenly took on new meaning over the past many hours. While I attempt to proceed in my life with some sort of understanding over the events of the past three weeks, the shock of realization brings to mind a commercial, where the strike phrase is… “I’ve looked over a lot of bodies and none of them have had an expiration date.”

Expiration, death, dark angels, end of life, all catch phrases for the same stupid awful change that comes after we’ve experienced the glory of God’s wonderful creation for a time, sometimes a short time… But for a time. With the beginning comes the end… I get that.

As my grandfather slipped away, those final years, I remember hearing him say, “I’m ready to meet Jesus.” The knowing that his days were numbered, and only God knew that number gave him a grace that is not totally uncommon. He never said he was comfortable with the process, just that he was ready for the end result. And, I know he wasn’t ready to leave Grandma. That was the catch 22 that left him holding on, those last few hours… The woman he’d loved for a lifetime, stood beside him, along with a daughter who had spent her life caring.

Those moments, on Christmas morning flew by in a flash. There were no long good byes. He’d had no warning. Life was there, then it was gone.

The next many years, Grandma missed him, but carried on without him. Her life filled up with times and places, people and things, but she never stopped longing for him. In those last weeks, I remember hearing her say, “I’m ready to meet Jesus. I miss Daddy (her nickname for Granddad), and it’s time to go home.” I knew she wasn’t talking about the rickety little house at 504 N. 11th. She had a better home, on a golden shore far away, where Granddad and Jesus were waiting for her. She was ready to go.

I heard the angels singing in that last sweet breath she took, as she drifted into the heavens and the arms of her true love. There was no greater joy or contentment on any woman’s face as she escaped the confines of earth and her tired body, and entered those Pearly Gates of Glory. Sweet blessed peace enveloped the room as the harps played out songs of welcome laced with the love of one of God’s children making her way into heaven.

Now, as an adult – I look back on those memories of childhood and young adulthood knowing that life has come full circle again. There may be no expiration date, but there’s a time to live…

The beating heart of another waits for that precious moment when she will see the face of God, hear heaven’s trumpet calling and witness the voice of angels singing and harps strumming out the delicate tremors of love’s embrace. Implications by Doctors are that they know when the time has come, but as one who has witnessed the passing of many – the realization that none here knows the time, nor the hour has become abundantly clear. The moment in time when each of us faces our maker isn’t set by a Doctor’s diagnosis, the rudimentary procedures of medicine, nor the educated guesses of those left behind.

As the treasures of earth part from the holdings, we begin to understand that life has no boundaries, there is no expiration date. Time does not draw nye unto the end of our road, but rather the passing of time becomes that of precious hours presumably living for the moment at which we will understand with great joy our passing into eternity.

Salvation and our walk with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit become the center of our existence and we understand that it’s not the hour, but rather the power that transforms us into His chosen. If we haven’t found His glory, in those final hours our search is bolder, more intense and stronger, but yet… also more sensitive to His voice and His calling. We hear Him, in those final hours – however long they may be.

We learn to love and forgive, understanding that we might not have another single moment in which to care, worry or share our feelings with others. We learn to live the good life, without further concern over the trials and struggles of life that have no longer any hold over us.

It means nothing, to know how much or how little is left of time or money. Only what’s held in our heart matters. The treasures we’ve laid up in heaven will be the only treasures that carry meaning in those last hours – hearts, lives and loved ones. The rest is left untended.

The search is on…

To know what is meant by living the good life. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here, but it may be a lot of thoughts about the passing of time and the motion required to move from this life into the next. The joy of living the good life… .shared.

Coming Home After Vacation

The return home after vacation often includes counting pennies and making ends meet whether you want to or not. The deal breaker comes when you traveled on borrowed money. There’s the big kahoona that doesn’t quite fit. If you traveled on plastic, arriving home means you’ve got bills to pay and there’s no rest at all from your trip. You’ve got to get right back to work, moving toward payment of those cards, and saving up for another trip isn’t even a remote option.

So, what’s a girl to do…

Mom 4 Business - Mom's working from home Rock!

Toss the cards before the trip.

Yup, that’s the solution. Don’t use plastic. The agreement when we left was, we’re not using plastic unless it’s the last option – as in the VERY LAST OPTION – and it’s gotta be an absolute emergency before we pull out the plastic.

Well, we didn’t find any of those emergencies in our pocket. We had a great trip with no problems and financially – well, we arrived home with a little cash left over and no NEW debt. That’s thanks to great planning and the ability to pinch a nickel until the Indian screamed and the buffalo – er… well… you’ve probably heard it before. We did manage to get home with a few of those super pinched nickels.

Scentsy Candles by Sharon Arns

And on the way, we did a few other things… Like sell some ads on our home page here, to make a few extra bucks. If you’d be so kind as to click on these ads and buy something from the sites in order to help us pay for the trip NEXT year, we’d appreciate your assistance. If not, I just want you to know that we’ll still manage to go, because we know how to pinch those nickels.

The best part is, we found ways to earn on the trip. Which I’ll be talking about in the near future, because it’s really awesome information that you might be able to use too. I’ll probably even give you a tip or two before I quit today.

First off, I want to tell you… It was right back to work, before I even arrived home after vacation. There’s truly no rest for the wicked, and I’ve been told I was plenty ‘wicked’ as a child. I must have been, because there’s been no rest. Even on the trip, there wasn’t many hours of rest. I couldn’t get over how much work it is, just to drive across country. Although – it was a total blast of fun (and I’ll be sharing photos very soon).

Coffee Clatter

Our favorite stops included coffee shops along the way. From the iced coffees in Missouri to the hot espresso in Tennessee. Did you know that Tennessee coffee shops don’t have latte? Well, some may, but the back woods cafe where we had breakfast simply said, “We have hot coffee or cold coffee, you add the cream and sugar.” AHEM.

Definitely, check your coffee drinking etiquette before traveling.

Then there’s the sweet tea thang in the southern states. ER HERUMPH I prefer unsweetened tea, thank you. After all, when I add the sugar, I know how many calories I’m adding, but when you add it, my butt cheeks are at the mercy of your measuring cup. Have you ever noticed there are no calorie counts on those sweet tea cups?

But, then there’s the A&W Root Beer taps… Oh, my gosh, that stuff is good. Yeah, sweetie, I know it’s got more sugar than a cup of sweet tea, but heaven help me, I felt like a five year old dragging my tongue around the frozen edge of that root beer mug. Can I get a refill with a new frozen mug? Oh, wow! That was practically orgasmic pleasure. I’m tellin’ ya. It was better than the Orgasmic Mocha Brownies I used to crave. Gotta love Root Beer from a tap in a frozen mug. YUM.

So, if you’re wondering what happens on a vacation to Virginia Beach and back… um… just keep checking back, because I’ll be telling more and more details as the days go by… I really gotta get all the batteries charged and upload the pictures, soon.