Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Comforting Memories   3 comments


A Beautiful Patchwork of Color

Originally uploaded by Lady Birchwood

When our 18-year-old cat, Mandy, passed away in 1994, we had an 11×14 inch enlargement made of our favorite photo of her. We took it to a framing shop and had it professionally matted and framed. A small engraved plaque at the bottom of the portrait announces her name and dates of birth and death. That framed photograph occupies a prominent place in our house, stating to those friends and family who visit us that Mandy was an important, cherished member of our family.

Katie, our almost-17-year-old calico who joined the family in 1994, died last Saturday morning and we wished to do the same thing for her. The photo of her you see here isn’t necessarily our favorite, but in going through all the photos we have of her, this is probably the best, displaying her beautiful colors and her precious face. (Gotta love that little black nose!) I ordered the 11×14 enlargement last weekend, which arrived on Thursday.

After work yesterday, we came home and fed the Bubba-cat, Katie’s littermate and our remaining four-legged family member. We then went to a little shop in Woodbury that, prior to yesterday afternoon when I did an internet search for nearby picture framing places, I didn’t know existed. It is in a business park area in Woodbury, located in a building occupied by about 12 businesses, and you would certainly never know it was there unless you were actively looking for it.

When we first arrived, the matronly lady who runs the store along with her husband was helping another customer. We wandered the store, admiring all the framed artwork. Wildlife art is their specialty. I noticed in a storeroom off the main display area that there was a litterbox and a pan of kibble. Shop cat in residence, I immediately knew!

As Kathy, the owner, finished with her prior customer and came to help us, a beautiful black and white “tuxedo” kitty jumped up on the table. We then spent quite a bit of time getting the kitty’s story from Kathy, how she was discovered by her son as a tiny kitten. The son recently lost his apartment and couldn’t keep his new feline housemate, and he asked his mom to take her. Kathy didn’t really want her, having several small dogs at home, but is such an animal lover that she couldn’t say no. This young kitty, I’d guess roughly a year old, now resides in the shop.

It wasn’t until we had gotten this whole story that I showed her the photo we wanted framed and Kathy exclaimed at our deceased calico’s beauty and expressed her sympathy at our loss. She asked what our kitty’s name was. “Katie,” I replied.

Her eyes got wide. “That’s this kitty’s name!” she exclaimed. “What a coincidence!”

We took care of choosing the double matting and the frame and then we discussed putting a few words at the bottom with Katie’s name, birth and death dates, and finally decided to put the one word “Beloved” below that. It was in filing out the form with this information that Kathy asked me if we ever called our cat Katie-cat. I said yes, that is what she was often called.

Well, guess what? That’s what she calls her Katie, too! When we got up to leave, I walked to the back of the store and started calling in a very familiar cadence, a sing-songy summons that I used everyday around our house, “Katie-cat! Katie-cat!”

Now, we were told that this little tuxedo cat was aloof and not very friendly, very shy around people. When I started calling out with my oh-so-familiar refrain of “Katie-cat! Katie-cat!,” her little head popped up from behind a box on a table. She suddenly was very alert and bright-eyed and listening intently to me. As I called, she seemed very eager and jumped down off the table to come over to me. As I continued to softly sing her name, she flopped onto her side on the floor and rolled around in a similar greeting as to what my own Katie-cat used to give me. She rolled and purred and meowed as I talked to her. Then she got up and gave me a headbutt and sniffed my outstretched hand.

Kathy was amazed. “She never does that!” she remarked. “I’ve never seen her do that!”

What could I say? I have years of practice in talking to a Katie-cat, and my voice is filled with love. This beautiful long-haired black cat with the white markings on her pretty face knew this right away. She and I became instant friends. If I hadn’t had Bubba waiting for me at home who would no doubt be upset with me bringing home a feisty, attitudinal year-old “sister,” I would have made Kathy an offer on that precious Katie-cat.

I think I’ll be back to visit pretty little Katie-cat, though. I think she could use a friend! I know that I certainly could!

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Left to Carry On   Leave a comment

Posted February 21, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in Aging, cats, Relationships

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Stunned and Heartbroken   4 comments

 


Easter Birthday

Originally uploaded by Lady Birchwood

Dale and I had taken to putting a large bowl of kibble on our urban porch in the South Minneapolis neighborhood of Powderhorn Park during the winter of 1993-94, keeping an eye on one attractive and friendly cat who had been abandoned when his owners moved. I couldn’t take him in because of my elderly cat, Mandy, then 18, who went ballistic at the sight of another cat. Pete disappeared (we hope to a home with someone), to be replaced by a couple of other stray cats in the area. One was a pregnant queen, a short-haired white cat with black ears and a black tail. Around the first of April, we noticed she was thin again and was obviously nursing. She was also very feral, wanting nothing to do with human contact. She would run and hide at the sight of a person.

It was Mother’s Day weekend in May when I came home from my 3:30-midnight shift at what was then Smith-Kline-Beecham Clinical Labs. I parked my car in front of the house and started up the sidewalk, stopping in my tracks when I noticed Mama Cat at the food bowl with two small kittens with her, a little white one who had her black head markings and a black tail and a little pretty calico. They all scattered at my approach. I entered the house that night so excited. I woke my husband, exclaiming, “Kittens!  We have kittens!”

I immediately fell in love with that darling little calico. Both kittens were very fearful of us, though, and would scramble away if we came around. The little white one even managed to squeeze himself through a chainlink fence in the neighbor’s yard when we had him cornered one day up against it. (I called that kitten “him” right away, even though I had no idea of the sex. I had a 50-50 chance of getting it right!) We wanted to capture them and see that they received homes eventually, but how to do it? I quickly realized that we were losing the game by chasing them around the yard  We were just creating more fear.

In June, the little calico got very ill with what appeared to be some sort of respiratory infection. A thick discharge matted her eyes closed. I thought we were going to lose her, and I made one attempt to “rescue” her. She was under the neighbor’s chokecherry tree that grew beside our property, snuggled next to her mama. A low wooden fence separated us. I reached over the fence and gripped the scruff of her neck. She twisted and jerked like a handful of rattlesnakes and her mama stood and hissed, about to nail me. I lost my grasp on her, partly out of shock at her strength and partly to save my hand from being bitten by her mother. I made a resigned decision that I would leave the little calico with her mama, where she could nurse and be kept warm, and Nature would take its course. We went away that weekend to celebrate our anniversary, and I expected that she would be gone when we got back. Much to my surprise, she was still there on Sunday, on her feet, her eyes looking better, and went on to a complete recovery! I then named her Katina for “tiny cat,” although she was always called Katie.

I changed tactics and backed off from any further attempts to capture them. I continued to feed them, switching to canned food for my little family instead of kibble. I figured that this may entice them more strongly to the food pan. I would put the food out and back away, going into the house at first so that they would eat and not run away. After a time, I would put the food out and then go back in and stand at the door. When they were eating without panic, knowing that I was there, I started putting the food pan down and stepping back but remaining on the porch with them. Gradually, it got to the point where I could sit down on the steps about four feet away and they would eat while I was there. I couldn’t get any closer, though! If I got too close, they would bolt in a flash!

Towards the end of August, I made my move to get them into the house.  After feeding them all summer, they had grown comfortable with my presence.  One evening, I put the food pan inside the front door and set it in the foyer.  I held the door open.  Both of them marched right in and ate their supper.  I closed the door. They were nearly five months old when they saw the inside of a house for the first time.  They played in the living room that evening, chased each other around the recliner, and used Mandy’s litterbox before they went back outside for the night.  (Mandy had been confined to the bedroom during this visit.)  We repeated this several more evenings before they slept inside for the first time, separated from 18-year-old Mandy by the door between the dining room and the back half of the house.

We declared them officially our kittens.  I called them my “kittens from God” because Mandy died in September and I was so overcome with grief and depression that I don’t think I could have actively gone out and adopted another pet for quite some time.  However, as things worked out, I had two kittens put on my porch that May with an invisible note which instructed, “These are yours now.  Take good care of them.”  I didn’t get to pick out the sex or the breeds.  I didn’t get to choose the colors.  I got what I got — as most parents do.  We adopted Katie and her littermate, who did indeed turn out to be a boy when we took them in for their first checkups in September with Dr. Mike McMenomy at Kitty Klinic, our vet since 1980.

I love these two cats, both different as night and day.  Katie-cat has always been small, compact, athletic, and aloof.  Life is on her terms.  It took a long time to gain her trust, but once I did (my husband, Dale, never did!),  we became soulmates, although even I couldn’t pick her up and hold her. She hated that!  Bubba-san is a larger cat, 16 1/2 pounds in his prime, a gorgeous longhair with the sweetest personality a cat can have.  He has displayed “ragdoll” tendencies from the first time I picked him up and he went completely limp in my arms.  For years, I’ve picked him up and draped him over my shoulder where he’s completely relaxed and purring against my neck.  He loves affection!

Several years ago, Katie was diagnosed with renal insufficiency, a problem that was discovered as part of a routine chemistry profile prior to having her teeth cleaned.  She felt well, though, and the only recommendation that was made was to put her on a prescription food for cats with kidney disease.  She liked the food, thrived on it, and had no health issues except for a bladder infection almost two years ago.  She had lost some weight then, and I took her to the vet to figure out why.  Her kidney function tests were more elevated than they had been, but still, she wasn’t dehydrated and her electrolytes were fine.  The vet gave her a long-acting injection of an antibiotic, her bladder infection cleared up, and she regained the weight she had lost.  All has been well.

When my friend, Lottie, cat-sat in November after not seeing the cats for perhaps a few months, she remarked on how well Katie was looking.  She was looking great and might have even put on a little weight.  Life has been good, and Katie-cat and I have been happy together, both us down on the rug outside the bathroom every morning where she greets me and wants to smooze.  She’s been following me all over the upstairs every morning as I get ready for work, meowing at me, head-butting me, and clearly not wanting me to leave her for the day.  (The best times have been when I’ve been able to crawl back into bed on a weekend morning and she has climbed in with me to snuggle.)  She’s been down in the TV room a lot of evenings, clamoring for her treats.

Then last month, I began to get a nagging feeling that something was a little off.  I wasn’t filling up her dry food bowl as much as I had been.  However, she was still eating her evening serving of canned food into which she gets a glucosamine supplement to support her bladder health.  She was still insisting on evening treats.  She was drinking and urinating normally.  Constipation has been an issue over the past year, but she was going fairly regularly.

But still…. I wasn’t filling up that dry food bowl much.

Last week I noticed that she wasn’t coming to bed with me at night, which was very odd for her.  That’s always been our time to smooze, with lots of purring and noisy meows and head-butts.  (Bedtime has never been quiet at our house.  The bedroom is filled with the demands of a Katie-cat on our bed, wanting her mama’s attention and words of love and praise before we can settle in for the night!)  Early this week, I just knew that something wasn’t right and I made an appointment to get her in to the vet, sooner rather than later.  I took off work Thursday morning to take her in before her usual vet left on vacation.

Thursday morning, she was very “off.”  Clearly, she wasn’t feeling well.  She was moving really slow and seemed kind of unsteady.  She made a half-hearted attempt to smooze with me on the rug but wouldn’t purr.  Even at that point, I was assuming — hoping! — that this was perhaps a bladder infection again and some fluids and an antibiotic would get her back on her feet.  She’d be feeling better in no time and things would be back to normal.

The vet pronounced her very dehydrated, and the scale said that she had lost almost 2 pounds.  This had to have been since November when she was looking so well, and I even asked Dale a few weeks ago if he thought that Katie was losing weight and he said, “She looks okay to me!”  But the numbers don’t lie.  The vet kept her at the clinic that day to rehydrate her.  Before the IV was started, blood was drawn for chemistries and a CBC.  Dr. Arend called me at work about 11:30 and gave me the bad news: Katie’s BUN and creatinine were very high, her postassium was dangerously low, and other electrolytes were way out of balance.   She was in kidney failure.  I was devastated.

Katie spent all day on Thursday at our regular clinic and was then transferred to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Oakdale where they could continue with IV fluids and electrolytes all night and monitor her condition.   Dr. Arend felt that with sustained fluids and electrolytes, Kate stood a chance of pulling out of this crisis.  She was a tough, determined little kitty, and we agreed to give her this chance.

Friday morning, the vet called me from the Emergency Clinic and reported that Katie had had a very, very good night.  She slept well and her BUN and creatinine were lower, her potassium had come up.  The values weren’t good but they were quite a bit better, and Katie was alert and active, ate a little Fancy Feast and drank quite a bit of water.  The vet reported that her attitude completely belied the severity of her condition.  She looked for all intents and purposes like she was ready to pack her bags and go home!  Everyone was optimistic at this point that we were going to pull her through this crisis and go on to manage it for a time.

I packed her up Friday morning and took her back to our regular vet for the day.  More fluids and electrolytes.   Some progress but not nearly enough.  Dr. Arend recommended another night of fluids and monitoring at the Animal Emergency Clinic, so we took her back there at the end of clinic hours at Scenic Hills.  Katie seemed despondent.  She was also hyperventilating and visibly trembling.  They wondered about fluid overload due to her Grade 3 to Grade 4 heart murmur but a chest x-ray at the Emergency Clinic showed her lungs were clear.

The phone report from the vet this morning was not good.  Her BUN (blood urea nitrogen, a waste product normally filtered out by the kidneys) had risen again.  Her creatinine (another waste product) was about the same, and in spite of aggressively giving her potassium supplementation, her level had not come up any further than it had been the day before.  The vet was very discouraged at this lack of progress and said that Kate would not do well at home with fluids being administered under the skin by her mom, the RN.  She said that we might want to consider another 48 hours of around-the-clock ICU care with them and re-evaluate at the end of that time. I had planned on bringing Katie home that morning and had been given all the injectable medications, needles and syringes the evening before to care for her here. This morning’s emergency vet was very firm, though, that Kate wouldn’t do well at home with her values being what they were.  And when I asked her if she thought another 48 hours worth of care (at $1000 a day) would make a difference in Katie’s condition, she didn’t say no but she repeated what she had said; she was discouraged by the lack of progress so far. I took that to mean that the prognosis was not good.  This vet really gave me no reason to think otherwise.

Dale and I discussed euthanasia.  I decided before we left for the clinic that I would wait and see how she seemed to me before making that final decision.  If she seemed interested in my company and eager to come home, I was going to bring her home, even if it ended up just being for a few days.  I wanted to give her that option to be home again in her own comfortable environment, her home for the past 16+ years.  I wanted her to be able to sleep with me for a night or two if she wanted.  I wondered if being calmer here at home with us and getting some fluids at home might improve her, even just a bit.

When I saw her, my heart sank.  She was very weak, could hardly stand.  She was shaking.  I held her and talked to her, but she wasn’t even paying much attention to me.  Her eyes anxiously scanned the room.  She did not purr at all or give me a head-butt, no affectionate acknowledgment at all. She wanted to be put down after a time of uncharacteristic holding, so I put her down on the room’s blanket-covered coffee table.  She jumped down and wanted to find a place to hide.  She tried repeatedly to crawl under the low couch.  She wanted to find a place to hide and die.

I made the decision to proceed with the euthanasia.  I picked her up, leaned back on the couch, and laid her against my blanket-covered chest.  I held her warmly and whispered all the loving things I’ve ever said to her over the years.  I assured her that she would always have a forever home in my heart.  The love will live forever.  She was safe.  She was loved.  As the injection was given, her head dropped against my shoulder and she was gone.

And I am stunned.  I had what appeared to be a happy, healthy cat just a few weeks ago, albeit an almost-17 year old one.  Literally within days, she went from an interactive, normal-appearing cat to one who was obviously seriously ill.  Just from yesterday morning until this morning, she had surrendered her spirit, her desire to “pack her bags and go home.”  Suddenly, she was dying.

I am shattered, heartbroken, consolable only by the great comfort of knowing that almost all of her days were happy ones.  She was very, very loved and cared for.  She was told every single day that I was here to say it, at least a dozen times a day if not a hundred, that she was loved, that she was very special, that she was my princess, one of the greatest gifts in my life.

She always will be, and her Forever Home will now be in my heart.

Posted February 19, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in Aging, cats, Relationships

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The Beginning of Something Beautiful   2 comments

A surprising thing happened on this date 40 years ago. Late in the afternoon of Saturday, February 6, 1971, I got a phone call from a young man. His name was Dale Scheisskopf, and I had met him in person for the first time several weeks earlier.

The circumstances of our first meeting involved the person in our lives that we had in common. I had been dating a college student who lived in a house rented to seven University of Akron male students. He and I had been dating openly for a couple of months, although there was a colorful history of us talking to and seeing each other clandestinely for several months prior to that. (I was 15 and he was 23. It’s no stretch of the imagination to figure out why my parents had gone ballistic and forbid the relationship, hence the sneaking around.)

My college friend lived in the student house with Dale and each had a bedroom on the second floor of the house. When Dale had moved in during the summer term of 1970 from his home in Hibbing, Minnesota, he quickly became frustrated with the arrangement of the house having only one telephone for seven residents. (This was before cell phones were invented!) Furthermore, the communal phone was on the first floor, which made it very inconvenient for conducting private conversations. Not only that, it was understandably in use a lot. Dale arranged to have a second phone line installed on the second floor that was in his name. He was generous enough to place the phone in the hallway where the other guys could use it, and they would reimburse him for any long-distance charges rung up. However, he also reserved the right to haul the phone into his room and use it for his own private conversatioins and calls back home to Minnesota. This phone becomes instrumental in the story.

A car plays an important role in this story as well. My friend didn’t have one. Dale did. My friend didn’t even like cars because of their negative impact on the environment. However, there is no denying the fact that a car comes in handy during cold, snowy winters in Ohio when you want to take your girlfriend to see a movie without having her mother drive you. Then there becomes an advantage to double-dating where you and your girlfriend and your friend and his girlfriend go on an outing together and take his car.

On Saturday afternoon, January 16, 1971, Dale and Stacie and my friend and I went to Chapel Hill Mall to see Love Story at the mall’s theater. That was my first in-person meeting with Dale, even though I knew he was the owner of the telephone and had spoken to him briefly when I had called for my friend.

A week after the Love Story double-date, my friend wanted to take a Saturday afternoon trip to an outlying town to see what was billed as a “wooden bicycle.” I think that there was also something involving a left-behind scarf or gloves that he was picking up at the same time. He enlisted Dale as the chauffeur, and the three of us set off for our adventures in Atwater. Stacie was on a skiing trip that weekend, leaving Dale to his own activities that Saturday. Dale was in good spirits that day and cracked jokes, made amusing comments, and generally kept me entertained on the excursion and the lunch that followed.

I have to relate this incident just for the record. Both my friend and Dale escorted me to my front door at the end of that time together. Andrew kissed me goodbye while Dale hovered at the edge of the front porch. Dale piped up, “Where’s my kiss goodbye? I did all the driving!”  (He was just messing around, I knew, poking a little fun at his housemate.)

I played along with this and invited him to claim his goodbye kiss, expecting to give him a peck and send him on his way. He had other ideas! He laid a big one right on my lips and drew it out for a few seconds, and damn! That guy could kiss! Very sensuous mouth and I found myself, much to my surprise, enjoying those moments.

Andrew started to flap in the background. “Hey! Hey! HEY!! That’s MY girlfriend!”

Dale and I, chuckling a little, ended our goodbye.

January ended, my upper respiratory affliction of several weeks duration took a turn for the worse, and I was diagnosed with pneumonia. On Tuesday evening of that week, February 2, Dale’s steady girlfriend of more than two years made a date to meet with him at the University’s student union. (Stacie was Dale’s reason for being in Ohio from Minnesota. Her father had gotten a job promotion when they were less than a year into their relationship in Hibbing and moved his family to Ohio. They conducted their relationship long-distance for almost a year through snail-mail, phone calls, and several 800 mile trips during that year until Dale moved to Akron in June 1970 to continue his education at the University of Akron.) On that evening, she gave his class ring back and said that she wanted to be free to date other guys.

Dale was completely blindsided by this turn of events. He claims he never saw it coming. He was devastated. Andrew told me about this the day after it happened.

The weekend arrived after this devastating event. On Saturday morning and early afternoon, Andrew paid the sick girlfriend a visit before his shift as a busboy at an upscale restaurant on the edge of downtown Akron. He had left my phone number by the upstairs phone at Thee House, expecting that he might receive a call from work to change his schedule for the day. The restaurant didn’t call, and he left as planned to go home, change his clothes, and head off for work.

Dale said just this past week that there was no particular premeditation involved with his decision to call me. It was an impulsive thing. However, that slip of paper with my phone number on it found its way into his pocket. He was upset, depressed, and what friends he had acquired during his seven months in Ohio were mutual friends with his now-ex girlfriend. He called me and asked if he could come over for the evening. He knew that I was aware of what had happened that week. He was painfully honest and said that he just didn’t feel like being alone that evening. I said yes. We spent the evening together at my home, listening to music, talking, eating some popcorn, sipping soft drinks. It was not much of a “first date” with one of us recovering from pneumonia and the other one heart-broken. I don’t think that either one of us considered it a date at the time.

But it was our beginning as a couple 40 years ago today. The next date a week later was a “real date,” and they’ve just gotten better over the years!

Posted February 6, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in marriage, Relationships

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Regrets, I’ve Had A Few   Leave a comment

On October 19, a dear friend’s 84-year-old mother passed away.  My friend lives in San Diego.  Her mother lived in East Northport on the northern edge of Long Island, New York.  Two people couldn’t get any further apart geographically and remain in the same continental country.  However, my friend boarded a plane when she knew her mother was entering her last hours and made it to Long Island to hold her mother in her arms while she died.  My heart ached, but I was so glad that my friend had made it to New York in time to be there for her mother as she drew her final breaths.

It reminded me of my own regrets.  Today would be my father’s 94th birthday if he were still alive.  He died on July 7, 1979 at the young age of 62.  He died at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. after suffering a major heart attack four weeks earlier at  his rural home in West Virginia.

His heart had stopped following his MI, and he had been resuscitated at the nearest hospital in Parkersburg.  Cardiogenic shock had ensued, meaning that circulation had stopped to his major vital organs.  At that time, a patient was optimistically given a 20% probability of surviving those events. He was transferred to the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia.   Heart arrhythmias began about 10 days after his MI, which is a predictable time frame for cardiac tissue necrosis (death) following a myocardial infarction and the ensuing nerve conductivity problems.  The Clarksburg staff couldn’t stabilize him and transferred him by helicopter to the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C.   They were talking about a pacemaker to control the  fibrillations caused by such massive damage to his heart muscle and the area of nerve conduction that regulates the heartbeat.  They talked — and he died.

My half-brother, Ashley, my father’s second oldest son who lived a two hour drive away from Washington, D.C., was there at the hospital with my father when he died. Ashley’s wife was there.  His son, Ashley Jr., then 21-years-old, and his wife may have been there.  I don’t remember that detail.  What I do remember is that I was not there.

When my father had had his heart attack in June, I went to West Virginia from my home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  We drove the 20 hours to get to West Virginia. The cost of plane fare in those days was prohibitive.  (I remember buying a plane ticket to immediately fly out to York, Pennsylvania to attend my grandmother’s funeral in 1985.  I spent months paying off that credit card bill at a rate we could afford.)  I stayed for a week in West Virginia and then returned home to begin my first session of college courses and get back to work at my part-time job.  He seemed stable when I left.   The heart arrhythmias began after I left.  I chose to stay in Minneapolis and continued going to class and to my job.

My regrets?  That I considered it more important to go to school and to work than to stay with my gravely ill father.  However, my husband would have had to return home to the Twin Cities to return to work.  There was no question about that.  I would have been alone in my father’s hillside house in Pullman, West Virginia (population 100), driving to and from Clarksburg 45 miles away.  Later, I would have had to stay somewhere near the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C.   The length of time that this would go on was uncertain; no one knew what was going to happen.  I certainly would have had to withdraw from school for that summer session and maybe the next.  My job may have still been there when I returned, but then again, maybe not.

But it should have been a clear case of Whatever.  If I had had to withdraw from school that summer and begin anew in the fall, it would have had no lasting impact on my life.  If I had lost that part-time job clerking at Fairview-Southdale Hospital, there would have been another part-time job to take its place.

In retrospect, my place was at my father’s side, not in school, not worrying about my unimportant part-time job.  I wish I had been there to spend those final weeks with him.

All I can say on my own behalf is that I was 23-years-old at the time.  I was overwhelmed with grief at the thought of losing my father, and I knew that this was a strong likelihood.    I took a measure of comfort at being in my own home with my husband and my routine, having both school and work to keep me grounded at a very difficult time.  During the week I had been in West Virginia, I spent countless hours crying, and I don’t know if I could have continued to do that for several more weeks, alone in his little house in Pullman or in a hotel room in Washington, D.C.  You know, I think my dad understood that and cut me some slack for not being there in the thick of things during his remaining days.

Still, if I had it to do over, my priorities would be different.  They’ve certainly changed over the years.  My coping skills have changed.  My financial situation has improved so that now I would have some options for travel and lodging as well.  I guess that’s what growing up does for you.

And on this, my father’s 94th birthday, I would like to say that he has physically been gone from this Earth since 1979, but he has never been gone from my heart.  Not for a day.  Some things never die.  He’s still by my side in spirit.

Posted November 8, 2010 by StPaulieGrrl in Family of Origin, Relationships

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Cleverly Disguised

There is a t-shirt out there that states, “Cleverly Disguised as a Responsible Adult.” I think I need that t-shirt, and not just because Halloween is fast approaching and I don’t have a costume. Even though I’m 55-years-old now and have lived long enough to know better, there are times when my 4-year-old inside jumps out and runs the show. “I bit her because he/she bit me first,” is not a good reason for biting someone or whatever the retaliatory action may be.

Hmmm, come to think of it, though, when I was 3 or 4-years-old, I was a biter.  I’m ashamed to admit this, but I was a little preschool biter.  I have no idea why kids do this.  I don’t to this day understand why I did it — just a frustrated, aggressive little brat, I guess.  I bit a neighbor girl once who was about my age.  She ran home, crying.  Of course, she did.  I had put some pretty sturdy teeth  marks in her forearm!  Her angry mother came back with her tearful 4-year-old in tow and confronted my mother with my awful behavior.  The mothers agreed that my friend should bite me back.  She did, with great fervor!  It hurt like hell, and then there were two 4-year-olds bawling.  Did I quit biting my playmates?  Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.  That was the last time I ever bit any of my friends.   Getting in return what I had dished out did seem to work in this instance.

However, I’m not four-years-old anymore and there are more constructive ways to deal with life’s problems and conflicts than biting someone back because he/she bit me.  Time to put on my big girl panties and deal with life as an adult and not a retaliatory 4-year-old.

Go to your room, Little 4-year-old Girl, and let the grown-up drive the bus now.

An Ongoing Journey

Taken from Melody Beattie’s pioneer work on codependency:

I am responsible…..

I am responsible for myself.

I am responsible for leading or not living my life.

I am responsible for tending to my spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial well-being.

I am responsible for identifying and meeting my needs.

I am responsible for solving my problems or learning to live with those I cannot solve.

I am responsible for my choices.

I am responsible for what I give and receive.

I am responsible for setting and achieving my goals.

I am responsible for how much I enjoy life.

I am responsible for how much pleasure I find in daily activities.

I am responsible for whom I love and how I choose to express this love.

I am responsible for what I do to others and for what I allow others to do to me.

I am responsible for my wants and desires.

All of me, every aspect of my being, is important. I count for something. I matter. My feelings can be trusted. My thinking is appropriate. I value my wants and needs. I do not deserve and will not tolerate abuse or constant mistreatment. I have rights, and it is my responsibility to assert these rights. The decisions I make and the way I conduct myself will reflect my high self-esteem. My decisions will take into account my responsibilities to myself.