The Grandma Who Loved Me, for Me.

There are relationships that left me feeling slighted,  throughout my life, especially relationships with some of the men in my life, but one relationship that I was blessed with, that lifted me, and helped to carry me through early dark days, was the relationship with my Grandma Patten.  She was a strong Baptist woman, who raised her family the best she could, whose oldest granddaughter could be a bit of a wild child, especially according to the standards of grandma’s generation.

Grandma saw the good in me, it never occurred to her to see anything else.  I would ride over to Parshall, ND (about 17 miles away) on my motorcycle to say hello.  She would show me her flowers, feed me some cookies, and visit.

Staying with her was a treat; I would sleep in until the smells from the kitchen would wake me.  Sometimes it was coffee, sometimes it was cinnamon rolls, and often it was whatever she was prepping for dinner, maybe meatballs.  I would wake and have a leisurely breakfast, make my bed, wander around the yard, and it would be time for lunch.  Sometimes we would sew..  Grandma was a fabulous seamstress; I would watch, fascinated, as she marked out the pattern using tracing paper and her tracing wheel, sometimes making adjustments with a piece of chalk.  She, my Baptist grandma, made me my first bikini.  When I was a teenager, who rode a motorcycle, she would help me make halter tops to go with my short, cut off jeans.. very short cut off jeans.  I remember distinctly one afternoon, when we made a white halter top, with white cording for the top and bottom ties, grandma looking through her loot for an applique that would discreetly cover my nipples, to keep them from showing through the top.  She stood there in one of her “daily” dresses, moving the applique this way and that, until it covered what it was supposed to, and then very carefully pinning it in place.  It was an anchor.  She never questioned my morality, never told me I should dress differently, never criticized…she just loved me.

In the afternoons, I was allowed to read, for hours.  When I had finished a book, she would sit me down at the kitchen table and quiz me on the characters, setting and plot, to make sure I wasn’t reading so fast that I missed the important parts.  There was always cookies and a glass of milk on the table.  We had conversation.

The spring of my first year of college; I decided to break off my engagement to my fiancé, about two weeks before the wedding.  It was an outrage; our small community was aghast.  I ran for the protection of my grandma.  I told her what I had done and we talked about love.  I told her that I wasn’t sure I knew what it was supposed to be.  Grandma walked to the bookshelf, opened her Bible and read Corinthians to me.

“4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.”

In other words, love was my grandma.

Some of my inspiration for my writing comes from grandma; after she died there were so many times I wished I had asked her more questions: why did she marry Grandpa, did she feel like she had made sacrifices, what were her greatest joys and greatest challenges, did she ever have a crush on the milkman? (she would not have answered that one, but it would have been fun to ask her, she would have said, “Luanna!” and given me the look. The same look that she gave me when I asked her, if she was sure there wasn’t some Hidatsa in our family, because we all have the same pot bellies, that Lewis and Clark remarked on, in their journals.  The same look was given to me when I asked her if her favorite author Gladys Taber was gay.  She told me no both times, I’m willing to concede the Hidatsa blood, but am darn sure Gladys was indeed a lesbian.  I have googled it.)  I write, so that hopefully somewhere in my writing, there will be answers for my grandchildren, an interpretation of something I have said that might bring them comfort on a day that’s going bad.   Maybe I can say something that will be their anchor.

Peace….

Facing Fears

It is obvious that society runs on fear.  We rightly or wrongly elected a president, because of fear and continue to let fear define us as a population.  Afraid of new ideas, of old ideas, of each other and sadly we are afraid of ourselves.  We are a country of fear…  I can’t fix the country, you can’t either, we can only control i.e..fix ourselves, and that alone is a challenge few of us dare to try..

Most of my life I have slept facing the door at night.  I don’t know why; no-one ever came into my room at night, while I slept.  There was no abuse in the dark, no surprises in the night, but for some reason I had this unreasonable fear that I had to sleep facing the door, so I would see whoever, whatever coming through the door.  It determined which side of the bed I slept in at a motel, my bedroom, and even which direction I slept on a couch.  I never told anyone; I became so used to it, that the pattern was almost subconscious, unless I was asked to sleep differently.  The anxiety would rise up in me, and I would have to consciously calm myself; self-talk my way to reason, there is no one, the door is locked…… I am doing better with it, I’m less afraid of what could happen, more rational, more mature, less afraid.

My other great fear is the loss of a child.  My youngest son ran errands for companies, (it’s called hot-shotting), he would often be out working at night, all night long, on roads with conditions, that were sometimes dangerous.  I would call him before I went to bed, and when I woke in the middle of the night, I would wonder where he was, if he was safe, should I call…..  I started to feel neurotic; my fear keeping me awake for hours; my mind imagining the worst.  He and his older brother would go snowmobiling during avalanche season in the Rockies; I would check weather sites and worry…  My fear wasn’t good for me and it wasn’t good for them.  They both stopped telling me when they were dong things, so I wouldn’t worry.  I didn’t want to be shut out, by their protection of me so I started to turn it over to God.  Now I know there are those of you who don’t believe in God, but God is real to me.  He/she is who I can turn my fears over too.. I can’t control my fears; I can’t control, but I have to believe that God can.  Where does that put people who lose family they love…I don’t know.  I can’t say God had a different purpose, or there are lessons….I just don’t know.  I do know, that for me turning it over to God, whether the belief is my prayers matter, or it’s an acknowledgment of my lack of control, works for me.

Acknowledging that we have control, only over ourselves, is an essential part of healing, of surviving.  We can only take responsibility for the decisions and actions that we make and take.  Don’t be afraid…allow yourself to be a survivor and not a victim; relinquish your fear and things you can not control, to God, to Buddha, to Mother Earth….

Peace….

My body is getting older, my mind is fighting it….

Turning 58 was a celebration, because of the bike ride I had accomplished, but more so because of the awareness of so many, who never get to be 58.  When I was working at Williston State College, in my 40’s, we had the habit of celebrating birthdays.  One of the instructors turned 50 and did not want a celebration; she wasn’t happy about getting older.  Another instructor stopped in my office to visit about our lack of a birthday lunch for the psychology instructor.  Jackie had Lupus and worked with her disease most days.  Her comment is one I have never forgotten,  “I am thrilled to gain every year, because I don’t know how many I will get.”

Do any of us know how many years we will get?  I always had a smug satisfaction, because both of my grandmothers were in the 90 range, give or take a year, that I had familial longevity on my side; the death of my mother at 75 changed that feeling.

Granted Mom was a life-long smoker, a type-A, who lived a life filled with stress, much not of her own doing. While I am not a life long smoker, maybe two cigarettes in my life and parts of a couple of joints, I have the weight issue that my mother never had.  I’m more diligent about my health care, get more exercise, and work fairly hard at being a type-b, but I have her genetics as well.  Her father died of lung issues, while no autopsy was held, pneumonia was the official cause, but many of us suspected cancer.  Mom also had a minor heart attack, that was undiagnosed for years, my paternal grandfather died of a heart attack, and my Dad has been saved from one by modern medicine a couple of times.  My husband says, when I voice my worries, “We all have to die of something.”  He is nothing if not pragmatic.  🙂

I am 58, if I’m allowed to survive for twenty more years, I will have three more than Mom.  Thirty three more years, will give me the same time as her mother, I of course am hoping that along with the other traits of my maternal grandmother, that longevity will survive in me as well!

Do I fear death; of course I do, but not for the reasons I would have imagined at twenty.  I want to see my grandchildren marry and have children of their own; I want to see my children to retirement, know they are all happy and successful in their life choices.. I want more time.  I feel my body aches, even when I’ve done little. I try to remember the words of Elizabeth Taylor.  She said she jumped out of bed every morning, ignoring the stiffness, and soreness and went on about her day.

Today I will enjoy today; hopefully next year, I will enjoy 59!  Looking forward to longevity, praying for it, and counting on it.  Live long and prosper.  🙂

Peace….

Would the dolphins be my friends?

“I looked down, at the blue green of the water, the dolphins sleek backs popping out of the water, so quickly disappearing in the wake of the boat.  The sun is shining, but I don’t feel it; I feel cold and lost.  If I slipped off the back of the boat, would the dolphins be my friends? and what would that mean?  Would they bounce me back to the top, or stay by my side as I drifted to the bottom.”

The second time, and hopefully last time, darkness was all encompassing…  oh Luanna, why would you write about this?  Because I’m similar to you..you survivors of loss, of abuse, of all encompassing disease.  Our survival is different, our situations may be different, but we are surviving non-the-less.  We are members of the same club.  🙂  If you haven’t dealt with depression, haven’t had it pop up on you and try to steal your soul, then you truly are blessed; embrace your blessing!

My mom had died, I was put in the position of taking care of my abuser, we had some issues on our property, my only nephew was killed and there were additional family issues…you know, nothing that couldn’t be handled one at a time, two at a time…but all of them together just became too much..  I felt like I needed to be the glue but just couldn’t hold it together anymore.  How did I find the courage… I told my children, I told my husband, I insinuated it to a few friends, and then I flipped the switch.. Flipping the switch is my tongue in cheek way of saying I made a decision…  I don’t take that for granted..  I know decision is different for everyone and I won’t judge people who can’t or don’t.

What is my purpose?  I wasn’t a perfect parent, but my children turned out wonderful, they are everything I wanted them to be, caring, hard working, good friends and independent thinkers.  While I love them beyond belief, they alone cannot be my sole purpose; it wouldn’t be fair to them, they need to have their own lives and find their own purpose.  I can guide but they cannot be my sole purpose.  The grandchildren would be next in line and I have to tell you that they are even more perfect than their parents!  They are part of my purpose, but I can’t and won’t try to take any of their parent’s authority away…. My husband, whom I adore 99.9% of the time, is part of my purpose, but can’t be all… Friends, society, etc..  Where am I going with all of this?  I have discovered that I have many purposes, when one fails, there are others to focus on; we add them, change them, and discard them when needed.  This is survival…

I’m sure the dolphins would have taken the woman in my story, into an embrace, and carried her to the top.  They would have known she was a survivor.

Peace