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The Decision Was Yours

If photographs tell a story, the body language is a chapter, why is the conclusion a surprise ending.

I sat across from you and our conversation was practically non existent.  We barely made eye contact, you who I prepare to share one of the most intimate experiences in daily life(eating), yet we have nothing to talk about??? What does this mean? How did it get to this? To me it sounds like the beginning of the end, but what about that surprise ending?

Logic in these situations is non-existent..  Now you want to make nice, now you want to sing “Kumbaya”, now it is different. We should be supportive and respectful, we should let bygones be bygones, get over it. All I can say/ do/ think is when the role was reverse..what did YOU do. Stop telling me I need to be the bigger person, stop telling me about moving forward,  stop telling me about God. YOU clearly have NO knowledge and NO right to even let a word that involves fairness or being right, come out of your mouth. YOU need to hear YOU are wrong and foul, YOU need to KNOW that whatever YOU get it is deserved. YOU made the bed now lie in it. .

I want YOU to understand that when you do someone wrong, when you disrespect someone, IT IS NOT YOUR JOB OR CHOICE OR PLACE OR RIGHT to tell them to forgive, forget, or be benevolent towards you because..well YOU are sorry. More like you are sorry YOU got caught. YOU have done the deed and YOU should get what you deserve..if it is mercy it will come from the higher power, for man is flawed as YOU well know. This did not happen by accident. Are you ready for the consequences?

Lost

It has almost been 4 months since my beloved mother passed. I have not really been able to do anything except go through the motions of life. Seasons are changing yet I am not affected. At any given moment I find tears rolling down my cheeks and a lump in my throat. There is a explosive political climate that I am disgusted with and I have moved it to a back burner, because I am lost.

Upon my awakening this morning, the thought of voting came to me. I felt a sense of understanding regarding people who chose not to, or ones who say,”Why should I,it doesn’t count.” That disturbed me immensely. I began reading critiques of a speech read by “45” and I thought, ” Really? Are people so easily swayed that one well read or improved reading of a speech prompted a feeling of, Well now that’s more like it in opposed to Hum what’s he up to now? This IS the same person and aside from a life changing event or experience, people (“45″ included)are all exactly  who and what we demonstrate we are.

We are being attacked on all sides, our only hope for survival is to continue to fight until this corrupt man and his administration is demolished. Their strategy is to exhaust us and when we are down, when we are taking a breather, then they will really do some damage.While I know I have reason to be lost and taking it easy, I have reason to push forward, light a fire under myself and say, ” The fight/resistance must continue and even as a wounded soldier YOU are still valuable.”

Therefore I am here; here to remind you broken, damaged, and weak I am  STILL here to fight along side of you until….

Eating Brussel Sprouts

Okay I am not a fan, I have eaten them before and feel pretty confident if I never have them again I would be fine with this. What I am attempting to do is present a metaphor that helps explain views and vantage points.

So here is my little story.  I wake up knowing I will be having brussel sprouts. I don’t know when or how but I know I will have to somehow eat something I don’t like, something that has sickened me, and may eventually bring about my demise because I have had an allergic reaction to it. You may ask ,”why do I eat the brussel sprouts?” When I tell you I live with the someone who knows all this about me and brussel sprouts but refuses to believe me, take my feelings and concerns to heart, and out and out disregards me. This someone justifies this treatment because they have convinced themselves that I will build up a resistance to my reaction to brussel sprouts, or it may eventually cause a more long terms negative affect. In either case, comfortable or not, I serve their purpose. I imagine that your response is well you need to get away from that someone?

Leave; It is not that simple. Moving alone is both complex and difficult. Change hard to digest.  I can tell you this the place where I dwell, is as much mine as it is theirs. At first I was both dependent and beholding to this someone. In spite of the fact I was treated badly from the beginning of our relationship, I did what I had to do to survive. Times have changed, expectations are different, but attitudes are holding steadfast. The only thing I really need from this someone is a FAIR chance or at least the appearance of FAIR. That is a battle I am well aware of and able to fight, but no longer am I accepting of the blatant. My someone now seems HELL BENT  on  being blatant. “Put me in my place”, if you will. This tells me there is no care or concern. You now leave me no options but to look out for myself, protect myself, fight a “no hold barred” match.  Are you ready?

You who have had home field advantage, you who have change the rules in the middle of the game, you who have had time to prepare unaffected and uninterrupted by the realities of survival in a hostel environment. You are a gambler, but you have always gambled with the deck stacked. I have NOTHING to lose, are you sure you want to play roulette with me now? Check that pantry out, there really is something else in there besides those brussel sprouts.

Albert and Lorene’s Children

Just like it was yesterday, I remember the snow glistening early Christmas morning. It was before 7 A.M. and since we had already opened up our presents at home it was time to cross the street and see what Grandma Cates, Uncle Bill, and Aunt Elinor had for us too. I lied to mom and said I saw lights and movement. Who did I think I was fooling? I was willing to take a chance; for as long as I could remember you really didn’t get in trouble during Christmas break, unless you did something really bad.   In a few hours we’d all be at 1240 Nebraska Avenue with our big fabulous family. Relatives would travel from all over to spend a few days with the Cates Matriarch. I did not realize how amazing it was to be in the same house with so many people who were so closely connected. I did know it was fun.

In the years that followed we would give up the snow and cold for short sleeves and sunshine of California. We spent years with my mother’s mom now. Her family was equally large, but the connection was different they were not as close. My dad still loved Christmas; from the horrible sugary sweets he loved to purchase at Sears in downtown Inglewood to  the outdoor lights he could never decide on which color he preferred. Mom always looked at the clean-up. As their offspring we gravitated toward dad’s preference. The older we got the less compelled mom was to decorate. Somehow we always managed to convince her we’d help clean up “this time”.

We lost dad almost 29 years ago, mom left us this past October. Like the song says,” Christmas Won’t Be The Same This Year”. We are left with our memories and our hearts are filled with sadness because we miss our Mom and Dad. As an adult you don’t think of being orphaned, but it happens just the same. In our adult bodies, our child minds look for the two people who could advise and guide us through this trauma, but they are nowhere to be found. People tell you reassuring comforting things, but you are NOT reassured nor are you comforted.  We are children sitting on the sofa in age order waiting for Mom and Dad to walk through that door and make everything alright again.

The Only Thing Slowing Down is YOU

On the road to get healthy and back into my size 10 I sped past a couple who I see daily. She wears a visor and he holds her hand tightly. Most of us are out here at this time of day to accomplish the same type of goal. No one has the time to take a leisurely stroll, and why is that. Less than 100 shopping days before Christmas, 2016 is rapidly moving towards its end. One minute there aren’t enough hours in the day, the next we are wishing for the weekend to hurry and arrive.  We cannot have it both ways you know, in spite of what we may think we want.

I realize I am NOT the best “blogger” (by virtue of the sheer definition of “blogger”) around. I actually have turned this into a part time personal journal of sorts but I feel like I am a decent writer and I have some worthy thoughts to convey to my contemporaries and anyone who may want to take a listen. Therefore, I say I write around writing. This piece was originally started in September and I am just getting back to it. My mother passed away which was and is devastating, there has been a presidential election, and the holidays ARE UPON US! When I say The only thing slowing down is you, it is from a personal place. Of the three events I mentioned of the two that have taken place, I was NOT prepared for either. Of the one remaining I still reside in that place of being ill-prepared.

Life keeps happening and I keep being surprised by it. Why, is it because it happens so quickly? No, life is happening at it’s original pace. I, on the other hand, am beginning to see and realize the true problem in this equation is ME. Maybe you can see it in yourself as well.. do I have a solution? No, I am like the commercial for “LifeLock Credit Protection ; I monitor things make you aware but when it comes to fixing things, I am not the one. I think and hope through drawing attention to and possibly the creation of conversations about, one day WE collectively will find solutions. For now I just open a window and let the light shine through.

Now next time something sneaks up on you, next time you forget something was happening, chock it up to speed and time..your speed is to slow and time is waiting for no one. Get on board or get left behind.

 

Mom and Dad’s Room

We moved into our home in Inglewood 1974 (exact date escapes me). I can remember how happy I was to have a room, I did not have to share with my grandmother. While we were appreciative of having a place to stay, even family grows tired of sharing their space.

My parents allowed us the simple pleasure of selecting the color we would paint our respective rooms. I cannot say I agreed with the color choices my parents(likely dad) made for rooms in the house, but I certainly thought my typical seventies era chromatic preference was fabulous (lime green).

Mom and Dad never made their room off limits to us, but we knew if the the door was in any way, manner, or form NOT completely open(door knob touching the wall/door stop) we needed to knock or excuse ourselves before taking a step inside that domain. A room where many private talks occurred, loads of laughter, plenty of tears and maybe  a couple things we will not discuss because I would NOT be writing if they had known.

First Dad and now Mom have passed on, the irreverent task of finishing up her” business” is left to my siblings and I on multiple levels of responsibility. My first trip back and things are so unfamiliar. Mom made sure every detail that could be handled prior to her death  was taken care of, all we had to do was be able to read and follow instructions. Yet small details still needed to be dealt with; what color flowers we were going to have at her service, what to do with her personal items NOT accounted for in her living trust, and oh yes, how the HELL we were supposed to adjust to our lives as “adult orphans”.

Now returning to the home of my early “tweens” held memories but no  visible signs of a life I was pretty convinced I was familiar with. Mom’s disease had taken her from us at least a couple years before she did succumb to her physical death, but signs of her old self lingered about. We knew she was here but we had no signs; no sights, sounds, or fragrance remained. Mom left us memories, but no spirits or ghosts.

The very room I now sleep in, the room that belonged to them, now feels like a mediocre room at a bed and breakfast. You must remember the personality and essence is now gone. The memories that I have to search for and uncover bring pain, as they come to the final chapter. A room I found comfort and answers in, now houses emptiness and a sad reminder of loss. Mom and Dad’s room is no more; the antiseptic pale blueish walls cover the years of vibrancy and life. Mom and Dad’s room is no more.

Stiffled

Here I am unable to put down a single thought. I am not without words though. They simply hurt to put down on paper or into text. You can be sitting still or in the midst of a task, when the burning sensation creeps into your heart an engulfs you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are better or you are beyond the child-like wails, believe me they are still within you. Mom passed away at 5:00 A.M. on Sunday October 30th 2016 in Harbor City, California..she was 82 years old.

It all happened so fast, I decided to go with the pace. I figured we would all be better if we could physically put this painful time behind us. Well we didn’t put it behind us, we put the pain out of sight. We did not think, we did not realize or reason through the fact that there would be reminders all around us. Even things we were certain would be okay are a source of anguish.

One day it will all be better, one day there will be smiles, but for now each sunrise or sunset serves as a reminder of one we lost who was so dear to us. She nurtured us, she taught us, she gave us love and care like no other. We took for granted she would always be with us. NOT that we believed or thought she’d live forever.The thought of such a loss was to overwhelming for us to deal with, so we pushed those emotions aside.  Even as we watched a strong independent pillar slowly become frail and confused, we comforted ourselves with denial.

Since the loss is so devastating, instinct tells us to run, hide, look for that protection and comfort; then the ironic reality sets in. She is where we would look for that comfort, that protection, that reassurance that everything will be alright, but she is gone..what is a child to do?

 

How Bout Colin

So I was born in 1959, by the time I started school in 1964, the Supreme Court had made a landmark decision to no longer allow prayer in school. What was there, was the pledge of Allegiance.The Civil rights Movement was well underway and a President had been assassinated.I can tell you the hair still stand up on the back of my neck when I hear Whitney Houston sing” The Star Spangled Banner”. However, that is me.

Colin Kaepernick sat during the National Anthem and he set “Twitter” and the news services on fire. Really? Why? I have heard it was so disrespectful, I watched videos where former fans burn Colin’s jersey, his actions have offended some and been applauded by others. He is being accused of trying to start a movement, a former talk show host told him to grow up because he lives in this great nation he is able to make millions of dollars playing football…. What does that have to do with anything?

Colin was exercising his right to express himself..you may have heard of freedom of speech.  The NFL issued a statement, which in short said the league encourages but does NOT demand players stand when the anthem is played. So what Colin did was wrong because people want HIM to behave the way THEY think he should? Colin is a young man, about four years younger Ryan Lochte, OUR Olympic swimmer who out and out LIED about outrageous behavior in order to avoid being held accountable for his actions and asked to be forgiven because what he did was childish( but there is a major difference between the two young men). However, his being young does not suggest that what he did was NOT well thought through.

The greatest country in the world, but it is NOT without flaws. Most of the flaws begin and end with the people of this nation.  People who wan to tell you the Confederacy holds a place of honor, the civil war had nothing to do with slavery, and racism does not exist.However the 1st African American President has had  a judge suggest his lineage is that of a primate, he has been accused of not being a citizen of these United States, he has been called a liar by congressmen, had a governor point her finger in his face as though he was a child being reprimanded. Now do you want to talk about RESPECT?!

As you sit pointing fingers at a young man who simply exercised his rights, ponder this; do you get to tell the judge how much he should charge you for a speeding ticket, do you get to tell your opponent how many points he can score against you when he is winning, I could go on. The point is no matter how many times it is stated, the problem here is not anything more than a certain faction in American society wanting to continue to have all of the rights and perks of this great nation. The United States of America, a nation that many beyond this ONE particular group helped build. Yet THEY are so determined to have things THEIR way that if they see any small indication or what they deem to be large indications things are changing, then they simply change the rules.

Once upon a time, that worked, once upon a time there was a poll tax, once upon a time you had to have your knowledge tested by telling individuals how many bubbles are in a bar of soap, that day is no more.

Endlessly Alone

If you have ever been put in a corner as a child, confined to a small place like an elevator, or even stuck in traffic  you may understand a little bit of how a person with dementia feels. In a place you don’t want to be in, wanting nothing more than to get out, realizing there are others around you, but no one can give you the assistance you really need.

What of the caregiver; the one left to manage things on a daily basis and the one who sees things at their worse. Much like a person drowning; they will pull down the very one who is attempting to save them. How does that person feel? Outsiders have many answers, but truly no solutions. Now you have two isolated souls and all others can do is sit by and watch.

Then there are the others..the outsiders, for everyone NOT living within the realm of the four walls your experience is limited. I dare say in many delicate situations and conversations you will be made aware of this. Sometimes it will be painful. However, it APPEARS you have to most freedom of all concerned in this, but things aren’t always as they appear.

If it would do any good I’d say to the dementia patient try to understand people close to you are only trying to help you. They hear and they see. Your disease denies and distorts what is needed now, comprehension.

If it would do any good I’d say to the caregiver I’d say be patient. If you cannot be patient get out, if you cannot get out it goes back to be patient. YOU have to understand more than anyone else, this situation is NOT going to get better.

If it would do any good I’d say to  the outsiders every single thing you do is appreciated and don’t go away because you are needed..DESPERATELY even when it doesn’t seem so.

To all involved; this is NO ONES fault, it is life and life is what it is.

Set Up For Failure

Okay here you are all prepared to help your loved one, your buddy, your confidant. You were told what was needed exactly and were prepared to do your part. You show up with your lawn mower and edger, you are dressed in gear fit to be outdoors. When your pal answers the door in a  robe, hair wrapped up in a towel, and hands you a pair of tweezers you are perplexed to say the least. Your friend does not even acknowledge your condition or equipment; moving about as though you are clearly mixed up, but the job that needed to be done still needs doing. At what point do you say,” I thought we were working outside?” My immediate response is,” The moment the door was open and my friend wasn’t dressed”, but think about this scenario for a moment and realize there had to be some miscommunication on some level for this to happen. This of course is a metaphoric reference to something real. People and their problems.

As we move through life we find ourselves becoming more and more aware that we are just sounding boards. People close to us are in crisis at times, they want help, they think they know what they want to do, but they realize they cannot do it alone. Enter YOU. You want to be there, you have been called upon to help. As time goes on and the situation appears to be heading in a specific direction, you let it be known you are there to help. Okay so a suggestion or two is ignored one or two times and the same problem still exists. However, one day this situation becomes critical a move must be made; you show up and find that this very same critical situation, while requiring attention is not in need of the attention you THOUGHT you were prepared to give, and you become painfully aware of this. What do you do?

Throwing your hands in the air and walking away is an excellent idea, but you know you cannot just walk away. Believe me when I tell you it may be the best you can do for YOU. Remember you got to this place, because you were allowed to get there by this person close to you. Even if you did not know you were NOT coming up with the right solutions, they did. That is why the ideas and suggestions were ignored. I come to you with this experience behind me. I say preserve yourself. We look at alcoholics and drug addicts and we can understand concepts of enabling. However, we must realize enabling is NOT limited to substance or any other kind of abuse.

Pay attention to the signs, read the fine print, and proceed with caution. Your heart, finances, and peace of mind could be on the line.

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