Just one gal trying to find life's silver lining

Thank You Monkees!!!!

I’ve been waiting on writing this blog for a while. It has been hard to find the right way to say “Thank You” to so many of the people that have stepped up to help my family out. So I think I will write Thank You posts to several groups here over the next few weeks. I am starting with the Monkees at www.momastery.com.

I have been a member of the Momastery group for a while. Delighting in G’s posts, reading the comments of other ladies and just generally enjoying the good we can do as a group! I didn’t think circumstances would change so drastically that I would go from donating to needing help in the span of a month, but things happen. After my Dad was diagnosed with cancer I saw a post about Holiday Hands. It is a Momastery program dedicated to helping 500 families with their holiday needs. It is pretty fucking amazing. Check out what the group did here in just a few weeks! Because I knew Christmas was going to be the furthest thing from my family’s mind, I posted a need on the site asking for Walmart Giftcards to help with Christmas. The outpouring of love was just amazing!!! Several Momastery members aka Monkees stepped up to help actually, the Monkees came swarming!!! I missed a couple of people due to google’s spam folder but all told several Monkees stepped up and gave us over $800 in Walmart cards! For my mom that meant tons of xmas gifts, purchases of things we needed for my dad or just groceries! I was floored!

The love and support didn’t stop there! I got notes and emails and tons of encouragement. A couple of Monkees also donated to our memorial fund after hearing about Luke’s passing. I couldn’t believe that women for all over the country would donate just because we needed the help.

G’s is constantly reminding us that we are not alone because “we belong to each other” and we only belong to each other because we are people and we care. Well, that is all good and well to say, but to put it into action, is another thing! The Monkees, we believe it and we do it!

But it doesn’t even stop there. I received a box during the November chaos that I thought was a Christmas gift, I put it in my guest room and planned to open it on Christmas. It was forgotten about until after Christmas dinner, I remembered it and pulled it out to open. I untaped the box and looked in to find chocolates, magazines, Christmas hand soap, Starbucks cards and a MONKEY. I was confused for a moment until I realized it was a gift from a Monkee, Monkee Kathy to be exact. To know that I am loved an protected across this country just amazes me. I am now probably attached to the dang monkey in an unhealthy way, but screw it, she makes me happy!
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I guess what I am trying to say is just simply Thank You to the Monkees who donated, who send words of support and who held space for me and my family over the last two months. We are so lucky. LOVE WINS!!!

I have never been one to believe in the God of any specific religion and with all of this loss, I don’t find comfort in religion or prayer. What I have found comfort in is the kindness of people, the generosity of strangers and the amazing thought that we belong to each other! The generous people who have stepped up to help my family remind me that people are good and we can do wonderful small things for each other that mean SO much!

I will continue to be grateful, continue to say thank you and hope to pass the generosity along!

– Mary

 

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Doing what works

I have always expressed myself better in writing .

As a child I addressed questions about hard topics (boobs and boys) and not hard questions (birthday parties and Halloween costumes) with my Mom and Dad via letters.  I would write and give them detailed instructions on how I wanted a response.  Mom would take the time to follow the directions and would give me long thoughtful responses. Dad never followed the directions … he would write back on the same note when I asked him to use a new piece of paper,  he would write in the margins or fail to skip lines.  It made me crazy! I kept notes from both of them anyway.

I have always been drawn to art but am not a particularly gifted artist. My mother is a talented artist, she used to paint and draw beautifully. A lot of her love for art fell by the the wayside as she was raising us kids, although she did do some amazing scrapbooking when that was popular!

I take after my dad in the art department. We both love color and can appreciate beauty but aren’t particularly talented at creating art. So tyedye rescues me from my burning desire to create something pretty and colorful without having to be painfully aware of my inability to paint or draw.

I made tyedyed ties a few days after dad was diagnosed with cancer. We were planning a living memorial in the hospital and I thought it would be fun for all the boys to wear tyedyed ties and the girls to wear scarves. G-Bob and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about Dad and my family while I introduced him to the chaotic art form that is tyedye. It was great!

After dad was discharged we didn’t have the memorial and the white scarves I had purchased went undyed. I keft them in VA as project for Christmas.

When Luke passed the tyedye ties became important. So mom and the girls and I dyed our scarves so we would match as a family at the funeral. The boys looked amazing!

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So three weeks later I find myself planing another funeral and this time more people need tyedye. We lost our dad but my grandma lost her son and his 8 siblings lost their brother like we just did 3 weeks ago.  So yesterday I made another run at making something chaotic and beautiful and like each of my dads siblings, the results are different and wonderful.

I spent 3 hours of soaking and banding

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and dyeing and drying and rinsing and drying.

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I thought about my dad, my brother, my family and what makes it all so important.

I dyed myself because I am messy.

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I dyed the ground because this is all so messy. My dog dyed himself because this is all so fucking messy!

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And then, I cleaned up and folded the ties and scarves and packed the ones we will need for the Virginia funeral.

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The rest are safely at home for my other aunts and uncles. They will have tyedye for the west coast memorial.

So I revert back to the things I know work for me. I write and I make colorful, beautiful chaos. Things will get better.

Be Present

It has been a rough 6 weeks! I know we can’t always drop everything and be present for ourselves, our loved ones, our families and our friends. But sometimes life gives us the opportunity to drop everything and BE PRESENT. My father’s diagnosis did just that.

As we have grown up, it has become harder and harder to get all of my siblings together. There are 11 personalities, work schedules, social lives, significant others and classes to coordinate. Before this year, the last time we were all together was in 2008. Yeah you read that right … 2008.

My dad’s diagnosis made it painfully obvious that is was time to get us all together. For over a week, the 11 of us spent the better part of each day together. We talked, ate, drank, fought, cried, laughed and played together in our mom’s big house in the middle of rural Virginia.  Each of us found an opportunity to spend time with our Dad in the hospital and at home. We had time with Mom and time together.

I look back on those 10 days an think, that wasn’t enough time. 10 days seems painfully short and there were too many precious moments wasted on hurt, worry and sadness. Then I realize that if it wasn’t for those 10 days I wouldn’t have stayed up until 2am with Luke drinking beer and talking about life. I wouldn’t have been able to see how excited he was about becoming an electrician and how much he loved his life. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get to know the MAN my little brother had become. It was a small chunk of time … I wish I hadn’t been so tired from the hospital and traveling… but it was my chunk of time with Luke. I am so thankful for it.

So when I travel to Virginia on Saturday for my father’s funeral I will try my best to find chunks of time with my mom and the 9 siblings that are still here. We don’t know how long we have, so I am going to try and be PRESENT for the 72 hours I am there.

Wish me luck! It isn’t always easy to be a voice among many!