25 February 2014

Rest in Peace, Brother

My younger brother (I have two) was killed in an auto accident over the weekend. I had to call my father (97 yrs.) to tell him his youngest child died. He cried. Seems so wrong to have it be this way. It feels strange. Sad.

From young, I was his protector, his big sister. His ears stuck out when he was little and kids called him Dumbo. Made me mad, so I stepped in and beat them up. Of course. No bullying my brother on my watch. Things got more complex later in life and I could no longer protect him from his destructive life choices. But in an act of grace, he finally took care of himself, got into recovery and worked hard to turn his life around and give back in an effort to re-balance things again.

I cheered him on, admired his constant vigilance and his willingness to live each day as best as he could. None of us know the struggles another faces even if he's a brother. That alone calls us to kindness and compassion. Last time I talked to him he said his life was good and he felt grateful. What I'm grateful for is that he died in recovery and not in the ugly tangle of addiction and the devastation that follows in its wake. There was hurt enough and I believe his regret for that.

Through it all I held the memory of him as a small boy- beautiful, sweet, pure and so much fun. His essence. It got lost for a while. In the process he lost most of what deeply mattered to him. He leaves three amazing daughters, a granddaughter and an ex-wife who is my dear friend. He fought the demons only he saw and re-built his life in an attempt to be of service to those in need. Bless him. I'll miss him. I celebrate him. I hope he is finally at peace.

21 February 2014

Pour the Water, Stroke My Scalp

He pours warm water
slowly over my hair.
I close my eyes. He slathers
shampoo, massages my head,
uses long strokes from scalp
to neck, neck to scalp,
always changing pressure light to firm,
firm to feathery, then pours water again,
water at skin temperature,
poured again and again.

Victoria over at DVerse Poets Pub had us writing about memories and sensory descriptions. I don't know if this qualifies but this memory of my Honey washing my hair says love to me! As well, it's lusty (of an age 68 variety) words of love for Herotomost at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads. Finally, I also offer these 55 (counting the title) for the G-Man.

14 February 2014

The Night My Friend Died

She relapsed hell bent, while dark overdrive
took her where she'd not gone for years, far side
of slick slope. She'd clung to recovery, night
meetings sparks of light to lead her way. But she lied
in secret ways or got left with sin's wage,
such fine lines woven between lost and saved,
or God turned his back on this great one, made
faulty wiring when precise was needed. Face
him now, demand redress for her, this nurse 
who loved fierce, taught with passion, like a church
shelters those in need, the worst of the worse
loved wildly, counted in, coins in life's purse,
valued by those with hearts big enough. Back,
bring her back. Back. Gone too soon, just lke that.

My friend died of an overdose recently and broke the hearts of we who loved her. Her presence filled a room. She gave of herself to her patients, advocated tirelessly for them, taught them as if their lives depended on it because it did and laughed with them with her whole body at the foibles that unite us all. I wish she didn't have to go. Damn this disease of addiction and its sabotage of good people's brains.

Written for dVerse Poets Pub for Tony Maude's Bout Rimés. He gave us a list of words to rhyme. They are: drive, side, night, lied, wage, saved, made, face, nurse, church, worse, purse, back, that. They seemed to tell my friend's sad story.

13 February 2014

Long Way Home

After a two month visit with my daughter, her husband and the grands, I start my 10 day journey home tomorrow. I stop for some time in Jacksonville to run in the marathon and visit with my sister-in-law and niece. Then back to Italy with spring already in its early stages and into the arms of my Honey. A month apart feels too long this year but my visit here in Trinidad has been my best yet- relaxed and satisfying.

I needed to drop my expectations and enjoy the kids where they're at rather than think they should be any different. I fell into that trap when they started homeschooling using an approach of interest led learning and I wished their interests were different than they were and include more of what's important to me. Like I said I needed to get over myself and that took some work on my part. They're doing fine. Bottom line is that our relationships are what's most important to me. So, the pressure is off and we can all just do what we like to do and enjoy one another. Lots of board/ card/ computer games, walks, basketball games, cooking, crafts, reading, talking, etc. 

My grandson hugged me last night and said he wished I'd never go home and my granddaughter refused to smile in the above photo. Every moment can now be cherished rather than worried over. My choice. Of course. Good life lesson. 

11 February 2014

Run With Nike Plus

An easy way to keep track of all running data- the Nike Plus app downloaded onto my iPod Nano. I set it for time or distance, choose the music I want (mostly I like a compilation of upbeat music I put together), and take off. It records how far I go, what time it took, my pace and the number of calories burned as well as where I am in my time or distance while I'm running. It's the best way to know exactly when to turn at the half way point. When I conect the iPod to my computer after I return home it uploads all data to my site on the Nike Plus website. It graphs the data for the run, the week, the month or the year so I see my progress visually. It allows for individual goal setting besides the recording. 

Also, various sports figures (my favorite, Joan Benoit Samuelson, from Maine and the first American woman marathoner to win in the Olympics) give me feedback through my earphones when the run is my fastes or longest or when I reached another 250 or 500 miles. Very fun. It's a free app and keeps track of walks too- check it out. It's a great motivator.

10 February 2014

Born to Run

I started running at 60, persevered through the "what am I doing and why am I doing it?" stage and arrived  at the "oh, I like this!" stage. It helped that I prepared for the national breast cancer marathon and wanted to run in it since my sister-in-law and dear friend, Peg, died from breast cancer. Of course, why I chose to start my running career with a full marathon of 26.2 miles that took ten months of preparation is another matter. Chalk it up to I didn't know any better. I finished, felt the rush and cheered myself for running it. Then I switched to half marathons. 

Now, for the method I use that allows me to run three times a week and enjoy it at 68. Developed by Jeff Galloway, my age and a former olympic marathoner, it combines running with walk breaks. With a chance to recover during walk breaks of one minute, he says it allows running to age 100 injury free. Supported by the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer in Jacksonville, FL and other marathons, it provided me a way to train and finish the marathon and fall in love with running in the process. Great outcome. One of my goals for our move to Florida is to join a Galloway running group that has other elders. Sounds like fun to run with others after five years of running alone. 

Yeasterday, I ran 14 1/2 miles, my last long run in preparation (laid out by Galloway) for the next half marathon in Florida on Feb. 23. I did that so I know I can finish 13.1 miles. I'm ready. I'm excited. Join me.

04 February 2014

On a Lighter Note: Birthdays, Waterfalls and a 68 Shaped Cake

The tradition continues for my daughter to accompany me to a new waterfall each year on my birthday. This year's is the Ortinola Waterfalls, a cascading waterfall in the Maracas Valley. The day stayed sunny for our walk as it crisscrossed the river that led to this lovely spot. The many levels of this kind of waterfall invite exploration and wonder.

My granddaughter made brownies (my favorite), cut them in pieces to form a 68, added candles and then both grands carried out their surprise singing Happy Birthday. Made my day even more special. 

It capped off my annual retreat, regroup, rethink time that nourishes and energizies me for the coming year. I like having a birthday in January for just this purpose. 2014 promises to be an eventful year galloping along on horse energy after the inward energy year of the snake.

02 February 2014

That Was the Year

That was the year my brother 
got arrested. To say my brother's name 
and prison in the same sentence, other than
to say he was volunteering, was an impossible 
juxtaposition that destroyed my picture 
of our family, and took my breath away. 

That was the year my daughter left for college
and all I could do was cry. Not sweet motherly tears
but heaving sobs, running nose and swollen eyes
that embarrassed everyone around, including me. 
I went to a couple's workshop with my husband but 
all I could do was cry at the loss of Kelly.

That was the year my mother died
and there should never be a year when
a mother dies six weeks after being diagnosed with something
that had treatment protocols 
and a favorable prognosis but instead she died. 
I wasn't ready to not have her in my life,
in my daughter's life or to figure out what to do
with the hole in my heart for which they
had no treatment protocols. It felt
like this hole was the whole of me and it
was mother who always cared for our hearts
but she died and I had to figure out how to do it
by myself that year. In the many vivid dreams 
I had of mother after she died I was so relieved 
to see her I forgot to ask how she did this essential thing.

That was the year I got fired from my job but it wasn't a job
to me. It was my profession, all I wanted to do since I was three. 
They used euphemisms like downsizing 
or rightsizing but it wasn't right for me, although 
they did size me down alright, so down I was immobilized,
really, unable to move. 

I had to go to a healer that year to get healed
because I just couldn't move and I had a hole in my heart.
It wasn't the kind of healing to give me something
to chat about at a coffee klatch. It was the kind that got my
limbs moving, filled my heart, drove away evil,
brought back goodness and saved my life.

That year, that was the year.

This was posted first in May of 2012 in a different form in response to a stream-of-consciousness writing prompt and redone here for the Repeat Performances prompt by Karin (Manicddaily) encouraging repitition in our poetry over at dVerse Poets Pub
Now, many years later, I realize that that year became one of my great teachers and that the healer was one of my life's great gifts.