Back at the Farm

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A painting I gave to my sister of the old Farm House in Iowa.

It seems like yesterday when my sister and I lived on a farm in Iowa.  She was much more the farmer than I was.  I could do without the chores and the endless summer’s tending of the field’s grains and corn, baling of hay for the cattle’s tummies and gathering of strawberries, blackberries, vegetables, peaches and cherries.  Yet, as I look back it gave strength to our character and we carry a farming ethic, easily understood:  Get up and do!

If my parents went out-of-town for a day or a weekend, my sister and I were left to take care of everything.  My sister didn’t mind at all feeding the cattle, even though, one day they were so hungry and used to my father that they moved in to nudge her along.  I don’t think they meant    to harm, yet it is easy to get alarmed when six or so huge cattle come to you so you can’t move.   She knew to bounce a head  or two which would get their attention and when she proceeded they obeyed, although, I wonder would have been if they didn’t!  This was a job I stayed  far away.  So, I still had the pesky chickens to feed, water and collect their eggs.  Some hens would not move off their nest.  To gain access to their eggs I had to get my hand under them and let them know I was the boss.  I hated them because each one made me understand that they were the boss.

When winter came Iowa’s weather is a variety of condidiont:  cold and white, damp and grey, wet or dry.  Often when there was massive amounts of snow that fell, the quarter-mile journey to the main road from our house (sad the house sat dead center in a one hundred and sixty acre farm) made the trip to the road sometimes very ardurous.  If there was a blizzard with high banks of snow my father still expected my sister and I to attend school.  We had walk to the road, have our uncle pick us up and we would stay with him and my aunt.  In my young days I wasn’t too tall and with short legs.  My father was nearly six feet tall and had a wide gait.  My sister could follow his steps in the snow with great difficulty.   The snow was a foot or two high and as  I followed her I couldn’t move to well.  I got one foot up and into a deep boot print but  I couldn’t get the other leg up over the snow bank to go forward.  My father never thought about this and kept on going.  My sister, thank god looked back and saw my dilemma.  She yelled caustically for my father.  He returned to me and yanked me out of the snow drift.  He dragged me behind him and finally the road was insight.

In February and March that same path became soggy, deep ruts with mud and weeds.  The truck could barely make it to the road.  Sometimes it had difficulty.  Finally my father left   the truck at the road and walked back so that when it was necessary he could transport all of us with the tractor with a wagon behind.  One night we were all to be at the school.  We were to be well dressed and hope to stay that way in all the mud.

The wagon and tractor awaited my mother and I.  Momma had been having a lot of abdominal pains but she said she was going.  I felt so badly for her.  The wagon ride was rough and she asked me to place both of my fists in front of her and  then push her forward into the wagon to lessen the bounces.   We made it to the road and my took a few deep breaths and put on a smile as she walked into the school.

This scenario repeated itself every year.  On my seventeenth  year I left to go to a school in New Haven, Connecticut.    My sister had married and lived in Illinois.  Momma continue to endure until my father retired and sold the farm

Finally, we were all away from the farm.  My sister missed the farm.  My mother praised the day it was gone and I never looked back to a place that was never a happy place to me.

P.S.  Even though I never went back to Iowa to see the farm, the youthful time there  built a treasurer trove of fond memories..  My sister and I now reminiscence–two old farts sitting and jabbering about what tickled us back on the farm.

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It’s Like Comfort Food or Not

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Dark Cumulonous clouds rumble and growl.  White bolts of lightning strike downward.  From above a spigot opens.  It is like comfort food.

Living in Florida tests my premise and my enjoyment of storms.  In the last four days heavy rain has flowed from that spigot.  It is June and hurricane season must be planning a showy entrance with all this rain.  I tease M. that he should remember to water the plants.  He scowls and snickers at me.

Another issue to vex us is that with so much rain our roof is leaking again.  There is plastic sheets with flat trays topped with towels lying around the Great Room floor.  We thought that the roof had been fixed, but I guess if it rains hard enough it finds a way in!!

I have been here long enough to begin to see differences.  This rain is early this year.  Possibly, I should go out and buy canned food and a couple of gallons of water.  If the rain continues, even stronger and with wind, I will think about buying supplies.    If I do buy some supplies, M. will taunt and tease me.  I will tell him it doesn’t hurt to have the larder full!!   If we didn’t have food during a major hurricane I think I would not suffer, but he might need a little nourishment.  M. and I are like Jack Sprat could eat no fat,  his wife could eat no lean and so they licked the platter clean.

I prefer licking that platter when the downpour of rain and wind are like they used to be in the Midwest.  There, they were like comfort food, but here I am not sure!

 

To Say Good Bye to Hy

 

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In June of 2013 I wrote a blog about my brother-in-law Hy who had Alzheimer’s and was staying with us at that time, (If you wish to read the blog entry use the following link: tp://wp.me/p13BTS-xh.  His life was in an upheaval; not liking where he was living in assisted living, he called me to come and get him and that he no longer wanted to live in a place he didn’t like.   The days while he was with us passed quickly.  Each morning I arose very early to find Hy somewhere near his room.   Each time I motioned for him to join me in the kitchen.  After making coffee and preparing something for breakfast (pancakes were high on his list of likes!)  he and I sat together chatting.

Often he would tell me tales of his family based on youthful or adult memories.  Almost always, a twinkle formed in his eye as his yarn unfolded and even when I knew the story was slightly different it didn’t matter because the twinkle made me smile.  Not often did we discuss his disease, although at times he acknowledged and shared his worries about having Alzheimer’s.

At the early breakfast table chats I was heavy, as I am now.  With a little prodding and a joke from him I tried to explain my eating patterns.  He was adamant that I needed to change and in the meantime he nicknamed me “Big Boy”, a name that he always remembered.   Regardless of the conversation, soon we would break into singing old songs which seemed to bring the chat all together so that we each had an enjoyable time.  

After his stay with us,  he moved to a very nice apartment in another assisted living apartment building.  After a year and a couple of months  of enjoying his new home, his condition quickly changed and Hy passed away following a stroke.

The change began when he sustained a head injury a few weeks before.   The emergency room nurse told us nothing serious was found and that he was going home that same day.  During the next two to three weeks Hy continued to deteriorate until the day he had the stroke.  He was in the hospital a very short time and discharged to his home with hospice.  M and I saw him two times after he returned from the hospital.

He laid in a small hospital bed in the corner of his bedroom.  A hospice nurse sat in the opposite corner watching him and waiting to see any changes and to give him the regimented dose of morphine.  This first day, even though medicated and unable to speak he was able to let us know he knew us.  Once he tried to speak.  I could tell he was asking me about something.  Finally I realized he was asking what was wrong with him.  I simply told him he had a stroke which his left side paralyzed.   He understood and began to hit the bad leg.  It was clear his was upset and sad at the grave change in his health.  I think he knew that his living was over.

We told him good-bye and  that we would see him the following day.  We left disturbed because he received only tiny dose of Morphine, an amount that  couldn’t even be labeled as a palliative dose.   We feared that with a minimal dose he would linger too long in this state and suffer each hour.

The next day’s visit was different.  The morphine dose was at an acceptable level.  We could tell that he would not last more than another day.  We bid our separate good byes to him and silently left with thoughts of him and his life running through our heads.  The next morning he died around 11:30 a.m.  

Death is not joyful, but at times death is better for the person.   He never wished to linger for death to arrive on some unknown future date and be tormented by a ravaged mind that could not understand it all.   Now it is over and the living must deal with his passing.  

Since we moved to Florida five years ago I have enjoyed having him at our house for small dinners and larger parties.  Years ago when M and I had a dinner party I realized there were two tables of guests that needed attention.  I took one of them to sit at and then put Hy and his wife at the other to make sure those guests were happy.  They were amazing at table talk and the guests enjoyed the attention they gave to them.   In Florida Hy became even more jovial and fun.   As his mind deteriorated Hy continued to enjoy life and be concerned about the people he knew.  So many times he called to find out how I was during the time that I had surgery, broken ribs, chemo, and a host of continuing problems. Yes, I shall miss him and continue to believe that to have been with Hy was to enjoy Life at the fullest.  Understanding that makes saying good-bye easier.

Waiting for a Ray of Gold

Little puddles visit and grow on the planks of the deck while
at the railing tiny drops of rain hang precariously on the underside.
The early dawn’s grey horizon is tinged with pink and just above
the roof tops it changes to a delicate blue with wisps of cottony clouds.

This sunrise plane, a mixture of very soft hues framed by dark ones,
and the solitary quietness of landscape life brings me little warmth to my mind.
The leafless, darkened, rain soaked tree branches, as well, draw a fretwork of
mazes that control any attempt for me to take a flight of fantasy into the blue.

And, so I sit, without hope of escape, till later when rays of gold pierce the grey
and warm my mind and make me free to move into a new day’s flight.

During each of these days–

Continually I am asked by the ones that are closest to me, “Are you fine?”  “What is the matter?” “No I don’t think that is the reason, so what is it?”  If I try to answer the first two questions, most likely I receive the third question in response to my answer.

This brings me to a point in my life where I ask a question, “Why is it when I say what is the problem, I am told that my reason is justified and that I don’t understand the situation.  The situation is mine I think and after all this time of living I should hope that I know what my situation is.  But, there is a difference.  When I was young I would never think of telling someone what was bothering me.  Now I do and I think that is the basic problem.  I was an expert at covering up what I was feeling.  Well, how could I tell them when my self esteem was even lower than it is now.  Back then I felt I could never be truthful because I felt that the truth would hurt me more than them.

Now, it feels more important to me to tell the truth.  Yes I suppose I could sugar-coat it a little, but then usually these same people don’t sugar coat much for me.  One is M. who is so troubled with the way that I am, particularly in my reaction to acquaintances and friends, as well as himself.  Well, as two examples of his worry,  one friend has used up all the care and help that I have for her.  I have helped and helped and been there, and been there for her and what have I gotten in return is a plea for more help.  I just don’t have more to give since now I feel I must take care of me and so I stay away as quietly and politely as I can.  Another is a new acquaintance, who I thought might become a good friend.  When I realized that the “the sale–the job–the inevitable bit of money made” was more important than understanding what I wanted and dealing with it.  Yes I was the client, but it didn’t seem to matter much.  I was quickly told that I should understand that what I wanted to happen, (I had full rights to ask for what I wanted)  went against the grain of the acquaintance.  I understood in a moment that the commission in the sale was the most important.  Well, as I am known to do, the axe fell on this supposed relationship and now I am questioned why I made the decision I did.

I often think that this is the most appropriate time in my life to say what I am, what I want and how I see it.  If I don’t act now on my beliefs what am I going to do during that long journey with in my Crepusculum.  I can just imagine how my care can take quick turns that I don’t believe in.  That fact is catalyst enough for me to know I must grab a hold of my own life and start letting everyone know my wishes.  I just can’t sit in the quiet “corner” any longer.  This is all different to me as it is to the others who question me, but I believe this current life turmoil and questioning must be during my transition  from quiet toad sitting on the side of life, to a new, determination that makes people say, “Guess I can’t run over him any longer!”  Its not easy to change.  If you are  like me then agree  to  take a chance to stake out your independence.  Grab a hold of your wishes and sell them boldly to all you meet.  That little change will make you begin to see that it is possible to journey through Crepusculum with a modicum of respect and enjoyment.

The Letter in my Head–


Dear Momma,
Its been a little over three months since you left. Each and every day I think of you and talk to you. Each night as I go to bed we still have our time together, except now I am just beginning to realize I will never be able to see you again. Its then, in the darkness of the room that the reality strikes. I know you are in my heart, my mind and every fiber of my body, but for years you have always been no further away than at the end of the phone and more recently in the same room as I.

They, almost anyone, tells me time makes all the difference. Others wonder why I still mourn. Thankfully others, especially here–those I have on my blogroll,  give support and patience. If they only knew you, I think your reaction to death and the way you handled the times in your life when you lost someone close, would present a much different scenario than I am living. But, there are significant differences in the way that we see ourselves and life. You never had a mother or other person like you. You provided me with stability and strength, but more importantly consistency in love. You only had yourself to depend upon early in life and that helped you Momma, whereas I have had you as my anchor and now I float, still trying to find just the right place to light.

When Sherry and I were at your grave arranging the flowers I waited as long as I could to talk to you. Finally, as you saw, I just laid on the new sod and started talking, just as I always did. Momma, the sod was like grass letting me see you clearly, yet also as I looked up and to the horizon I felt you there and knew you were watching from far away. Its strange, but Sherry can’t face you are not here and refuses to enter into grief. The day you talked with her to watch out for me comes to me all the days since you left. She never visits, nor calls. Just like when you were here Momma, nothing changes much.

Momma, I shall miss you always. I shall never stop talking to you. I shall be with you again  one day and then this chapter of my life will be laid to rest.   It is my belief, only mine since you know we have a couple atheist around, that I will see you in Paradise. If I didn’t have that belief I don’t think I could make it through the days.

I bid Ciao for now, send you my love and now I shall end this letter like every letter you ever wrote to me.

Love,

Buzz
for ever


and

ever

and ever……………….

 


Today is a New Day

Today I have decided to begin a journal so that I can write my thoughts in the hope that they will bring peace to my mind, in that the good fortune in tomorrow returns, that the need to hope prevail and that once again my curiosity paramount.   These are the traits that will heal my heart.  Each day I feel detached and floating.  There hasn’t been many hours since Momma died that I find I am able to be kind to myself because I feel so upset about my Mother’s final hours with us.  I miss her terribly.  Martin misses her also.  The house rattles in the quietude, where once it was busy with activity and the noise produced by the ventilator and oxygen concentrator.  All that wonderful equipment noise, the actual equipment and my Momma have left, as well as, a lot of me.   I know if I want to continue I need to lay to rest this anguish.

Putting a feeling to rest isn’t so easy for me, unless I understand it more fully.  If I examine my feelings I am not sure if I will ever come to the end and feel solace.

The way that I feel, my reaction to her passing, the sorrow I hold in my heart were all programmed so long ago that I don’t know if I will ever discover the triggers.

We will see, possibly Momma will help.  I am still convinced Momma will come to speak to me one day soon.