Who Am I Really?

When I grow up, I want to be a mommy—

The best mommy in the whole wide world.

I’ll rock my babies in a chair,

And sing them to sleep every night.

 

I’ll hold them, and cuddle them,

And keep them safe always.

I’ll tell them I love them and teach them to pray.

My babies will learn right from wrong.

 

I’ll nourish their hunger for food and for learning.

They’ll drink in the sunshine and thrive.

My children will speak kindly and in quiet voices,

No anger or fighting will be in my home.

***

I’ve had my babies and I am a mommy,

I’m NOT the best mom in the world.

It’s not what I pictured in my youthful imagination,

But it’s a good life all the same.

 

My babies are rocked and lullabies are sung.

Children are cuddled and loved all the time.

We are teaching them all that we know and love,

They are learning and growing and thriving.

 

I’m learning to cope with my foibles and faults,

My children don’t need them, you see.

They’re teaching me patience as they quarrel and argue,

I’m learning to tune out the fights.

 

When I’m not refereeing the battlefield at home,

My titles are youth leader, chauffeur, and classroom assistant.

Camp Fire candy fills our garage; closets stuffed full with crafts,

And our weekends are centered on kid friendly things.

 

The kids need new coats and their shoes have worn thin,

So my sweater will last me another winter.

The car is in the shop, television on the blink,

And checkbook is in the red.

***

My children are grown now, and I’m a granny.

Life is much more to my liking each day.

As the kids raise their own children,

The cycle is becoming complete.

 

Their families are young yet, but they’re beginning to learn,

That neither life nor children come with manuals.

Though they still don’t remember the rocking and lullabies,

Nor the fun times we had in the park.

 

They’re stuck on the everyday quarrels and battles;

Still thinking therapy is in order for all.

As the grandchildren get older, there’s hope for the future;

They are showing my children the truth.

 

I don’t think I was a bad mommy, but not the best either,

I just did the best that I could.

My children will learn, as their children mature,

Life isn’t as easy as it looks.

 

So who am I really?

The rocker and cuddler?

The referee and chauffeur?

The granny with all the charm?

 

Someone above will answer that question.

I hope I’m not here when He does.

Cemetery Experiences

Many Memorial Days in my early childhood were spent at the Portola, California cemetery decorating my paternal grandparents’ graves.  For my Dad, I think it was a spiritual experience.  I can’t say that I’ve personally ever had a spiritual experience in a cemetery. My mother’s parents were buried in Carson City, Nevada, and I don’t remember ever going back to visit the graves after the funeral.  As an adult, I’ve made one or two trips there when we were in the area.  At some point in my childhood, the Memorial Day visits in Portola ceased.

My personal feeling is that my loved ones are not in the cemetery, but in heaven.  I can remember them and honor them in many ways, at any time, in any place.  However, I respect that we all deal with grief differently.  I respect that others do get some sort of comfort by visiting the grave sites.

My stepson was killed in a tragic Caltrans accident in 2007.  My husband, Danny, visits his grave often, and I go with him.  We go get flowers, and I help him decorate the grave.  Then I walk back to the car and let him have a few minutes alone.  Since many of our friends have preceded us in death, we occasionally visit those graves, as well.  I’m quite happy to help my husband do this, but the whole ritual still remains a mystery to me.

I took a quick survey of my friends on Facebook to see how people felt about visiting cemeteries.  I’m actually surprised at the number of responses, both publicly and privately. The answers were interesting and varied.  Some people do feel comfort at visiting grave sites, and some do not.  Some would rather remember loved ones in other ways, and some feel a closeness in the cemetery.  One person said he had some good experiences in cemeteries.  The word “respect” popped up in one response.  That was an interesting thing for me to think about, that we go to cemeteries out of respect.  That made sense to me.

It was mentioned that the need to go to the cemetery is sometimes not as strong as time moves forward and the grieving process becomes more complete.  That also makes sense to me.  One person mentioned that it makes her sad to see old graves that are neglected.  I have shared that feeling, which is totally contradictory to my lack of need to visit the cemetery.

Today’s experience taught me a few things.  Today is the third anniversary of the death of a good friend, Dave Purcell.  I wrote about my buddy, Dave, on my old blog (under my real name) here.  I think about Dave often.  Dave is buried in the old Pioneer Cemetery in Jackson, California.  We live in Sacramento, which is about 50 miles from Jackson.  We went to Dave’s funeral, but were not able to go to the cemetery that day, so we didn’t know where he was buried.  In the last three years, we have been to the cemetery four different times to find his grave.  My husband is nothing, if not persistent, and he was determined to find Dave’s grave.

The first time we searched, we weren’t even sure which cemetery he was buried in, so we spent the better part of the day searching several cemeteries and came up empty handed.

Before the second trip, Danny called one of Dave’s sons to get some direction.  We found out it was the Pioneer cemetery, there was a grave stone, and he is buried very near a big pole. There is a little gazebo area with a large flag pole.  We searched that area until we were both blue in the face and again came up with nothing.

The third trip to Jackson, we stopped at City Hall and spoke with the woman in the records department.  She came up with no record of Dave being buried in the old cemetery, but put us in contact with the man who takes care of the cemetery (part-time).  He was nice enough to drop what he was doing, take an early lunch from his regular job, and meet us in the cemetery because he thought he knew the location of the grave.  Unfortunately, after yet another long hunt, we couldn’t find the grave.

Yesterday, Danny mentioned that we should take another trip to Jackson.  I’m usually very patient with this ritual, but I almost said no this time.  Danny is about to have his 71st birthday in a couple of weeks.  The old cemetery is not the safest place to be walking around, and I don’t want him falling.  I’m also concerned about my own physical well being, as the metal plate and seven screws in my right ankle are not very conducive to walking up and down the rocky hillsides of the old cemetery.  This is gold country, people, there’s not a blade of grass in sight.  We’re talking rocky hillsides.  This is also August, and it’s hot.  I decided to humor him, however, and we made the trip to Jackson.

It was past lunchtime when we arrived in Jackson, and Danny is a diabetic.  He needed to eat before walking around in the heat, but there was no use arguing with him.  We headed straight for the cemetery.  We did not find the grave, so we headed for City Hall (yes, again). By this time, I needed to eat too, and my legs were pretty wobbly.  I don’t know how Danny was still standing.  Sherry Lane, a super nice clerk, found an old card file (no microfilm here, folks) which had the name of a female with the last name Purcell.  Judging from the date, she and Danny decided this must be Dave’s mother.  Since Dave was cremated, Sherry assumed that Dave’s ashes were buried with his mother.  She copied a map for us.  We promised her that if we found it, we would return and tell her so she could record it.  Apparently, the mortuary sometimes forgets to do this.

We had a quick bite at Mel’s Diner, and then headed back to the cemetery.  Looking at the map, we found a family name I recognized.  I told Danny that I had seen that grave — and it appeared from the map to be right across from Dave’s mother’s plot.  We walked that direction, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I had been ALL OVER that section of the cemetery several times!  I recognized all the graves around Dave’s, but I had never seen his stone.  Sure enough, there is a gravestone marking his spot with his mother.

I’m so glad we went today!  I believe we were meant to find Dave’s grave so that we could have it recorded by the City of Jackson (which we did as soon as we left the cemetery).  Now that we know where it is, we will be able to return as often as Danny wants, because it is right off the main road in a very flat spot, and there is no rocky walking involved.

So, after today, I think I’ll see going to the cemetery in a little different light.  While I still don’t quite understand why people want to go through the ritual, I’ve now had an experience of my own.  I know that we were supposed to look for that grave, find it, and have it recorded. A hundred years from now or more when the stone is broken and unrecognizable, the City of Jackson will have a record that he is there for Dave’s descendants.  When his descendants are doing their genealogy, they will find him.  Family is important.  Danny truly received inspiration from powers beyond this earth to make it easier for Dave’s descendants to find him.  I’m grateful to have been a small part of that, even if a somewhat reluctant participant.

Between and Betwixt

My energy level goes in spurts.  I run around like a crazy person for several days getting everything done and making check marks on my lists.  Then I crash.  This week was the perfect example.

I cooked a 21-pound turkey that I’ve had in my freezer for a few months because it was cheap meat.  After the initial dinner, I stripped the bones and spent two days making meals to put in my freezer.  In addition, I cleaned house, did laundry, and bathed a dog.

Today I crashed.  So totally did I crash, that I have no recollection of doing anything but sleeping until this evening.  My husband took me to dinner, and it wasn’t 30 minutes upon our return that I fell asleep again.  It is now 8:45 p.m., and I’m wondering if I’ll be up all night, or if I’ll be able to sleep tonight.  Time will tell.

Is this what they call middle age?  I used to work like a crazy person all the time, and it didn’t bother me a bit.  I’m not to the age where I have no energy at all or am physically unable to do things.  I feel “between and betwixt.”

There must be a way to pace myself, but I can’t seem to get into a routine.  It seems to be either feast or famine.  When the energy is there, I can’t seem to stop; when it’s not there, nothing save a fire is going to remove me from my recliner.

Youth, where have you gone?

Fences and Gates

Just thinking aloud tonight.

“Robert Frost once said, ‘Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.’ Limitations must be overcome, but sometimes boundaries are there for a very good reason, but then again, they just might be there to challenge you to break them. It is wisdom to decide if the boundary deserves to remain.” Harry L. “Justin” Kirk

Boundaries were set; there is a reason. The fence received an ax this summer (or at least a gate was built), but someone wasn’t ready to cross over. Someone needed help; it was a phone call away. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 16:18