Month: October 2015

Grief

I’ve come to hate the grieving process.  And I’ve come to hate my particular languishing slog through it.  Why does it take me so long to get to the actual sad stage sometimes?  And why do I find myself moving so slowly through it?

We lost our Birdie (black cat) to a rapid case of feline leukemia this weekend.  She was a good cat, probably the best one we’ve ever had.  Always sweet and gentle with the girls, always outside ready to greet me or any guests.  In fact it was her quietness that made me first realize she was ill.  I hadn’t seen her around the house, not climbing in the windows to meow at me in the mornings or afternoons, not there to greet us when we opened the garage door in the morning.  I went looking for her and eventually found her in the barn, quiet and still, looking at me but not respomding to my call.  She let me pick her up, but only let out a low purr, not her usual violent one that lets me know how happy she is to to be loved.

Together we examined her and couldn’t find any noticeable cuts or evidence of a fight.  She drank water but was uninterested in food.  We hoped she had eaten something foul and would just need a day or two for it to pass.

But it didn’t.  Nate called me this weekend (I was out of town) to let me know she had not improved and in fact only gotten worse.  It was time to put her out of her suffering but I asked him to wait until I got back home so that I could say goodbye and be there with the girls when he told them.

As cats usually do when they are dying, she disappeared sometime on the Sunday of my return.

I dreaded coming home to see her suffering and to give her a final goodbye, but now I think it is worse that I didn’t have closure and can only pray that her death was quick and painless.

As I’ve had a chance to start processing this, and with the death of my grandparents at the end of this summer, I’m coming to realize (late of course), that I am far from the peaceful acceptance stage.  Nope, I’m still stuck in sadness, and sometimes, regretfully, bounce back all the way to denial, which feels cruel this many months removed.

Today I’ve found myself envying the girls’ grieving.  MG lets hers out in one cathartic hour of sobs, but then is able to peacefully move on.  Bea, being blissfully unaware, asks to visit Birdie and calls for her when we are outside.  I reminded her that Birdie is sick and that we won’t be able to see anymore.  “Okay” she says with a hint of a sad face, but that is all.  She moves on.

Tonight I used my grandmother’s hot glue gun to finish a project.  It was one that she gave to me many years ago and it is outdated and the trigger is extremely squeaky, but it makes me happy to have sometime tangible of hers in use.

Where I am in the grieving process with their passing is thinking about their house.  The house that they had lived in for as long as I’ve known them became a constant in my childhood, as we moved several times, but we always made our way back to there for summer vacations and winter holidays.

This house was a white farmhouse, 1920’s style, with a big yard, old trees and a long, black driveway.  It had a screened in front porch with two swings and several rockers that we spent some of my favorite hours in.  I’ve written countless letters and thank you notes to its address and probably won’t soon forget the order of numbers and letters as I’ve had 31 years to memorize it.

It sat next to a field on one side and another old house on the other (home of my grandfather’s late parents), and in the 60+ years they lived there, they watched the developments go up around them.

Behind the house was a dog pen alive with hunting dogs, a weathered hay barn, and soulful cows.  During the better part of my childhood, there was a grape vine, a huge garden, and the best tasting apples I’d ever had that sprouted from several golden apple trees.  All of this was cut down in later years and only the cows were left when Grampy started on his last illness.

The inside of the house starts at the back of the house.  No one ever entered through the front door.  Up until about 5 years ago, Grampy always anticipated our arrival and met us at the back door with a “how yall doing, get in here!”.  Many a roast beef sandwich for lunch and a peanut butter cracker for a late night snack were eaten at the round table in the kitchen (late night snacks were always encouraged at this house, much to my delight).

Nanow was a wonderful cook, much like you imagine most grandmas to be, and cooked for us every time we came until she physically could no longer.  They always made sure to have our favorite cereals and snacks when we came, and there was always ice cream in the freezer.

The dining room was the next room you entered and the gathering of many, many family meals.  Anytime we had more than 4 people, the dining room table was set up, the appropriate amount of leaves were placed in, and we sat around the table breaking bread.

There was a guest room and a living room that held their tv-facing recliners.  They had many recliners over the years I visited them, but they always sat side-by-side, facing the same direction.  Whenever I picture my grandparents, I always picture them sitting there.

Their bedroom was off the hallway, along with Nanow’s sewing room and the “apartment” in back that was an addition built by Grampy when Nanow’s father became ill and came to live with them.  They cared for him, even up until he became unresponsive for his final 18 months. They kept him nourished and flipped him side-to-side to prevent bedsores.  Grampy rigged a doorbell for him to ring whenever he needed them.

Now this apartment serves as a guest area and where we spent our extended stays when visiting them.

I’m so thankful N was around for some of their better years and got to know this house as intimately as I did.  It does ease the loss a bit to know that it is carried by both of us, and really many of us.

Anthropomorphism is a literary word that describes when an inanimate object takes on a human like personality.  In the story of my childhood, this 1920’s farmhouse became anthropomorphic to me; personifying love, goodness, and family.  May we all be so lucky to have a little white house in our lives like this someday.

R.I.P., Biride,

-smk

Girls

One thing that is nice about four year olds is that they are bold in love and quick to forgive and overlook flaws.  MG often tells me out of no where, “you are the best mommy I could ever have.  And I have the best daddy, and the best sister, ….”.  How could you not love something that gives you that kind of affirmation?

It’s not hard for me to picture MG as a teenager, much less an adult. One of her first words was “Baby” and when she, herself, was still a baby, she was cradling dolls in her arms and gazing at them lovingly at ten months old.  That tenderness has never waned.

Stella is still her favorite doll and a good source of comfort, accompanying her to church, school, and ushering her into dreamland every night.  I’m glad she’s still around and I hope she stays for a long time.

Bea is still changing and growing bigger every day.  At 29 months, she has not yet hit her terrible twos, or if we have, they have been far more peaceable than I imagined.  Lately she has picked up an annoying grunty whine when she wants something, but that’s about it.  We’ve soft-started with potty training, due to her own insistence (second children are so much easier) and her willingness to do anything for “Ghandi!” (candy).

With this growing into the next stage, she’s reverted back to some baby-tendencies lately, clinging fiercely to her paci and even crawling on all fours and asking to be rocked and sung ‘Sunshine” to.  MG delights in this and calls her “Baby Girl”, ordering her around, pretending to feed her bottles and putting her to bed.  This works out pretty well in my favor, so I’m not stopping it…yet.

She’s just now putting 2-3 words together in sentences but her vocabulary is rapidly expanding.  It’s hard to believe that when MG was her age, I was about one month away from having Bea.  I can’t imagine introducing a third baby into our house right now!

Bea still maintains a delightful ‘little” personality.  She is exuberant and sweet and joyful.  I’m so glad we chose “Beatrice” as part of her name because it means “she who makes happy”.  Even at her worse, she keeps a mischievous little smile on her face that is hard to stay mad at.

The girls are overall a delight and although they run me ragged some days, I am enjoying my time with them more and more as little humans.   It is especially helpful and an answer to prayer that their relationship is growing and they enjoy each other’s company so much.

Bea has held on to her good sleeper status, still taking up to three hour naps a day (MG had given them up for 5 months at Bea’s age).  This is one of the reasons I’ve held off on all the big milestones this year: paci weaning, potty training, and big girl bed sleeping.  I’m not eager to disrupt this ideal schedule we have fallen into.

MG is taking ballet again this fall and loves this more than any of the activities she’s ever been enrolled in.  We’ve been knee-deep in the princess phase for well over a year now.  No sign of that slowing down, as of yet.  We do have a 5th birthday coming up in a few weeks so hopes are high for some princess related gifts.

The other half of this duo is wishing that spritely, princess-loving 5 year olds will still adore their mommy just as much as spritely, princess-loving 4 year olds.

-smk

 

October

The days are noticeably shorter and the air temperature is steadily dropping.  I fear summer is officially gone for another 7 months.  I always get a little apprehensive in the fall knowing that winter is around the corner.  This year especially scares me as I’ve been spotting thick woolly worms here and there.  I haven’t seen since them since the fall of 2013 right before that dreadful winter that has me still scarred.  Bad omen?

But, there are two things which are helping me keep a positive attitude: 1) This is the first winter where we will have a fireplace AND good windows.  That should make a huge difference in inside temps.  and 2) the girls are both old enough to play in the snow for reasonable amounts of time, so at least we won’t be cooped in the house all day everyday.

Today we made an appearance at one of the local story times which we haven’t been to in a few months, due to summer and other things eating up our Friday mornings.  Today was a corner-turning day though, Bea sat through the entire story time.  Granted, we’ve missed large swaths of weeks there at a time, but I do remember when I first began taking her there, I would rock her to sleep on my lap so that she wouldn’t sacrifice her morning nap.

When she could stand, she became disinterested in my lap and would show some interest in the story, but would soon cave to curiosity over the contents of my purse.

When she could walk, she just wanted to walk.  There was no sitting her still, not for long at least, and not without the bribery of a cereal-filled snack cup.  But that only lasted a few minutes and then she was off exploring the shelves of the library and I was left to track along behind her, making sure she didn’t pull off too many books or stuffed animals.

But today she sat.  She sat next to her older sister, protector, her eyes wide with interest.  She turned her head to find me a few times, a pleased smile on her open mouth.  I think she felt proud that she was among the “big kids” now.  She watched the pages of the book being turned one by one, and offered no participation in the chants or songs, she simply observed.  Big Sis was unusually still today too.  Maybe it was due to our lack of recent attendance or maybe it was a silent mimicry of her sister.  I tend to think the latter.

MG’s eyes did carefully follow the teacher as she chose participants, one by one, to hold up a nursery rhyme card for the group.  I could feel her straining to be chosen, but not wanting to draw attention to herself.   As the stack of cards lessened, she successfully made eye contact with Mrs. C and was finally chosen to take a turn.  The pink card was still in the shuffle, and she unhesitatingly chose it, even though she has chosen this one every single time before.

Bea stood up with her, thinking she too would be offered a choice of cards.  Mrs. C kindly told her she would have next pick and while sister held her pink card proudly before the group, Bea climbed into Mrs. C’s chair to wait, looking just as confident and relaxed as ever.

MG found her seat after, but not before giving me her own proud smile.  Holding true to her word, Mrs. C let Bea choose the next card all the while she did not budge from her spot at the front of the room in the teacher’s chair.  She chose quickly but the card fell to the floor and Mrs. C helped her hold it and then arranged it for the group to see as it was first held upside down.

She, too, offered me a smug smile when done, and then hopped down from the chair.  There was a slight confusion as legs blocked her path back to her seat and she found herself trapped in the front of the room.  Big Sis noticed her predicament and reached out her hand to her “Bea, this way.  This way, Bea.”, and guided her back both by voice and hand to the saved seat next to her.

There was one chant left that involved hand motions and it was now that Bea decided to join along.  She carefully copied the teacher’s movements, and MG, noticing this, did too.

At last the teacher stood up, holding her hands out to the class in the universal “sit down” air pat and said, “Stay in your seats boys and girls, I’m going to count you.”.  Bea stood up, carefully imitating her hands, not understanding the directive and thinking the imitation was still being continued.  With a little convincing from me and sis, she sat back down obediently to be counted.

And this is why I am in the sweetest stage of life with these two girls I have experienced yet.  I’m going to be heartbroken when I have to send one of them off to school next year,

-smk