Oct 29, 2014

This One's For The Girls.........

I just love babies.  They were my first love and will no doubt be my last.  They have brought me so much joy and fulfillment that I don't think there is any substitute.  Traditionally, and I say "traditionally" because I'm getting to be a certain age, women depended on other women for instruction on how to raise children.  When they needed them, that is, because "traditionally" girls grew up helping take care of the house and the younger children naturally.  It was second nature.  It was considered "women's work", and it was sacred to women.  Oh, there were those who looked askance at such things and considered it beneath them, but for the most part this never bothered any mother that I know.  In fact, any mother worth her oats would just look askance at anyone who dared to utter such a thing and shrug, because obviously that person was misguided at best and a complete idiot at worst.  A misguided or idiot person could not rock any strong woman's boat.

Then we got liberated and the world went to hell in a hand basket.  Now, that's just my opinion and I have blogged about this before, in a post entitled The Old Bait and Switch, Feminism Revisited, which you can read here.  After our mothers burned their bra's they were encouraged to have careers, get divorces, sleep with anybody they wanted to, and eventually not worry about raising their own children.  

Not a lot fell for it at first, but like anything new, it caught on.  Careers became necessary once the divorces went through, and those first "pioneers" muddled through with their mothers babysitting their children while they "brought home the bacon".  As time went on, generations were raised by baby-sitters, those who stayed true to their sacred work as they saw it and were considered a bit slow witted by career women.  Eventually even baby-sitter's were considered optional after a child was about 10, which ushered in the generation of "latch-key kids".  After that, women proceeded to tear out each other's throats over the choices they made in a war that wages on to this very day.  The family morphed into an mostly unrecognizable conglomeration of fast food and SUVs where everybody had a house but no one was ever home.  On the rare occation when they were, everyone was in their own room.  It's sad.  But I digress.

Which brings us to today, when poor new mothers may not even have a mother or grandmother to go to for advice.  Oh, there are plenty of books to read.  In fact, there are new ones all the time, containing completely different information than the last bunch because of "studies", don'tcha know.  The worst part is that we are raising generations of people who don't even stop to inquire who did the study, how many poor children were in it, everything that was actually tested or, most importantly, who PAID for the study.  I'm starting to get a headache just writing this, but I consider it my sacred duty.

In the 60's and 70's it was decided that it was not necessary to nurse your child any longer.  Why? Well, because someone had invented formula and needed to make some bucks.  They gave the hospitals a cut and handed it out to everyone for "free" and there we went.   Besides, with women working now nobody had time.  It was the age of rebellion, free love and aquarius.  Those women's mother's arguments fell on deaf ears.  Everybody was doing it!  It must be right!  It was a new age.  Nobody argued that!

Once the corporations realized that women were no longer looking to their mothers for advice, and would believe just about anything that they could cite a "study" for, they really got going.  Books were written and careers were made.  

In the course of my adult life I have seen many phases come and go.  For instance, when I was about 15: Feed your baby food at 3 weeks, put them to sleep on their stomach, pick them up whenever they cry.  10 years later: Feed your baby food at 3 months, put them to sleep on their side, don't pick them up every time they cry.  10 years after THAT: Feed your baby food when they can sit up on their own, put them to sleep on their back, pick them up when they cry a LOT and have not soothed themselves back to sleep yet.  Family beds were big for a short time.  And car seats.  CAR SEATS!!!  *throws back head and laughs*  First there were no car seats.  Then there were car seats for babies.  Then there were car seats for kids who did not meet certain height and weight requirements.  NOW we are up to car seats with, and I cannot say this with a straight face to this day, are you ready?  Ahem, car seats with *expiration dates*.  Yes.  We have gone from a world where if it didn't work no one bought it, the crap was recalled and replaced with something that did work, to car seats with *expiration dates*.  That's right.  It seems that companies were not making nearly enough money on car seats.  Anyway, this is where we are at, folks. Read it and weep.

The sad part is: women, and even men, since we are all so equal now,  are listening to this crap.  It makes my head want to explode.  It is my sad duty to report that we are living in a world where grown women are so easily led they call the health department to ask when to start their child on food, for the love of God.  The health department!  If they do ask their mother or grandmother, those women may not even know, and even if they do, they will be afraid to say anything.  Partly because they aren't sure what is right and partly because what is right changes so often that they have lost track.  Mostly because they have been raised not to question authority, even if authority is very questionable.

It's gotten to the point that young mother's are getting stressed over taking their babies to the Dr. because they are harangued by said Dr.s over how many ounces the baby eats how many times a day. It seems they must have done a *study* and established a quota that everyone is supposed to meet.  Or else!  As a mother and a grandmother, I am happy to tell all you young mothers that this makes me LAUGH.  My sweet young honey pies, please do not believe that for centuries mothers sat around and kept charts of how many ounces their babies drank and how often.  NOBODY did that!  That would have been crazy, especially when mother's had babies about 2 years apart like clock-work and several little ones like stair-steps running around the house.  Plenty of those children ate plenty of dirt, played and slept with dogs and cats, fell out of trees, stepped on nails, hit each other in the heads with hammers, or bricks and turned out to be fine upstanding citizens.  My own dearest Rock Star once pulled a smashed piece of brownie off the bottom of my sock and ate it before I could stop him.  I gave myself grief over that for years, and yet he lived with no ill effects!  Nothing happened!  Take it from me, you are to eye any Dr. that asks you such poppy-cock questions with serious suspicion, grab your diaper bag and leave the building like Elvis, babe.  That Dr. is probably reporting such drivel for a study!  Screw that!  If they want that kind of information, let them sit at home and write down every ounce their own kid eats and how often.  Make them do their own work!!  You do not need such negativity in your life and that Dr. can stick it where the sun don't shine.  I wouldn't even pay them.  I would make THEM pay ME.

The point of this post is not to lament women, or doctors, losing their way.  The point of this post is to help women regain empowerment.  And because I am the QUEEN of this domain, I grant you the authority to raise your own child(ren) the way you see fit and think is best, (unless you were horribly abused or neglected as a child and were raised by the state-which it pains me to say is more common every day, may God have mercy on those souls).   I am not afraid to say anything, and I fear that I may be a dying breed, so listen up while I'm still alive and talking.  I'm talking to you!  When you have questions, I urge you to call your mother, aunt, grandmother or some other woman who you trust and perhaps helped raise you.  Go to women you trust.  They will tell you the truth and at least you know they are not making money from whatever they tell you to do.

Pick your baby up any damn time you want to.  It's your baby!  You got this!!   If you want to see if it will stop crying on it's own, don't pick it up.  See what happens.  Bring your baby to bed and let it sleep with you if you want.  You can!  Or not!  It has a bed, let it sleep there if you want!  Do what you want when you want as long as your baby is happy.  Lay it on it's stomach, side, or back, whatever works best for your baby.  I know people whose heads almost explode if I say this, (because they did a study!!!  No, not them, someone.......someone they don't know.......blah blah blah)  and yet, I laid THEM on their stomachs when they were babies and they did not die!!  No one can raise that child like you. God gave it to you and if He trusts you, no one else's opinion is needed or matters. Don't let it matter to you.  This is your baby.  This is your sacred duty.  This is your life.  And if you encounter those who want to harangue you for your choices?  Try to be polite, but stand your ground.  They get to see what happens just like you do.  Never be afraid to grab your diaper bag and make like Elvis!

 If your baby seems hungry all the time, give it a little rice cereal.  If your baby is not hungry all the time, don't worry.  it will eat when it's hungry.  And you will know when it's hungry!  You will know just by the way it cries, after a few weeks, exactly what it needs and your baby will know what you will do when it cries.  If the rice cereal isn't cutting it, try some baby food.  Green beans, peaches, it doesn't really matter what.  Even mashed potatoes and gravy are a big hit when you never tasted food before.  The Rock Star had his first taste of a hot fudge shake from Tastee Treat at 3 weeks, courtesy of his father while his mother protested strongly and he did not die or suffer any ill effects!!  Will it's cries and needs change?  YES!  All the time!  For more years than I care to mention right now because I know you are really tired!  But guess what?  You will figure it out together and you will be great at it!  There will also be times when you are not so great at it, and you will learn and do better next time.  There are no instructions, which is the bad news.  The good news is that there is no test at the end and no final grade to haunt you except for the one you give yourself.

Will you make mistakes?  Yes!  Will some bad things happen?  Probably! Will it ruin your lives if you do something wrong?  NO!  That's life!  There is no cheat sheet and psychics are hard to come by, but regardless, you will do fine and your baby will grow up and you will get older and one day it will all be over and you will have survived.  It will be over.  That baby will be walking around in the world acting like the person you spent the last 18 years raising, and you will be proud and amazed.  You wouldn't have missed it for the world, and you will realize that you did all right.  Not perfect, but what fun would that have been?  Each baby is unique, and if you don't believe me, ask another mother with more than one child.  In some ways you always have to start all over, except for one thing: self-confidence.  Your self-confidence will get better and better with each day and each child.  They are all different and need different things at different times, but a mother's love can handle it all, a thousand times.  Not in the same day, but they only happen one at a time.  Don't stress out over anything that isn't happening today.

Believe in yourself.  Be easy on yourself.  Give yourself some of that overwhelming, all consuming love that you have for that baby, and don't worry so much.  It will be all right and you will laugh about all this one day.  Take it from one who knows.  Please!  And those books can be found adnauseum in any 2nd hand store.  Nobody else wants them either. 

Thanks for listening.  I just had to get that off my chest before the world gets all the way to hell.  This hand basket is even starting to fall apart.  I need to go talk to an older woman than me who remembers how to love those babies anyway you see fit.  They're yours.  Own them.

Oct 24, 2014

Well, I DID say I was "ready"...........

It's been a while since I blogged.  It's been a while since I felt like myself.  It's been a tumultuous and busy time.
 It's been quite a year.

God always hears you, and occasionally I even hear Him.  I could tell big changes were coming when I blogged about my 49th year.  I said I didn't know what was next but that I was "ready".  As always, He made me put my money where my mouth was.  

So, I found fulfillment helping loved ones on hospice care, something that once I thought about it, I had basically been doing in one way or another for many years.  I like it.  People find a peace once they get the worst news they possibly could.  You are there to help.  You cannot fix anything, and that takes the pressure off.  All you are there for is to, well, be there.  There is a joy and peace that comes to me in just helping them enjoy each day they have left.  Remembering, hearing their stories, sorting through pictures and getting their houses in order, so to speak.  What this entails is as individual as they are, and has always made me feel blessed.  Never more than this year.

Then I lost my job because of this, and almost had a nervous breakdown, but no cigar.  Thanks to constant reruns of Sex and The City and a 10 lb. bag of M&Ms, I held onto my sanity by my fingernails.  It took me 10 days to get over the shock.  But then I remembered that I had said I was ready.

So there I was with a house in the middle of a remodel I would now not be able to complete, and a new, improved relationship with my father that I was still working on, a new grandbaby, and two boys and two dogs who still depended on me to put food in front of them and keep them in clothes and rabies shots.  I can honestly say that I seriously considered just staying bed and seeing what happened.  For about a week I only got out of it to pretend like everything was fine until the boys went to school and then again when they came home.  But that was not really an option.  Even I knew that.  The angel forced me out of bed a couple of days, made me get dressed and then put me to work pounding nail out of boards that he wanted to re-use on a rental house.  He said mindless work was good for the soul.  He was right.  I also prayed a lot.  If I remember correctly, the prayer I prayed most often, through days and nights of not being able to sleep went like this:  
Dear God,
I don't even know what to do here. 
I mean, I don't even know how this happened.
God, I have no idea what to do, which way to go, how to proceed.
In fact, God, I don't even CARE what I should do, which way I should go, or whether I proceed or not!!!
I mean, this is really bad!!!!!
If you will just show me what you want me to do, I will do it!!!!
It doesn't even matter what it is!!
Just show me.
I will do it.
Fade to comatose, or perhaps even zombie-like state of consciousness.
NOT SLEEP.  Healing, restorative, the boon we all crave, sleep.

I began to feel some peace.  And then, I saw this post from Kelsey, which was about how when we are weak, then God can make us strong.  There is no doubt in my mind that it was meant for me to see, THEN, and I cannot thank her enough for doing it THEN, even though she had no idea what I was going through.  I would not be surprised if it has affected many others.  It made accepting the food, money and household items which my friends and loved ones kept piling on me MUCH easier to take without feeling an inch tall. I hate needing help!!!!  I give help, I do not need help.  Well.........okay, I needed help.  How could I need help??  Insert mad crying here, some kicking, screaming into pillows (so as not to disturb the kids or the neighbors).   Pride can be our worst enemy sometimes, and you should consider the blessing that those who are able to give receive as well as your own blessing in receiving such things.

Once I decided to go with the flow of these rapids in the river of my life, things got a lot easier.  Isn't that what I always say to do?  Sometimes we just have to take our own advice.  I have found out that I am a better giver than I am a receiver.  Who knew?  Shut up.  hahaha

So I grabbed the bull by the horns, called my dad and cried.  

He urged me, as he had been doing for the last year or more, to sell everything and move into his empty house down by my beloved "rock bottom river".  "Honey, just sell everything and come down here.  We'll take care of you."  He had to say it a few times as I considered turning my whole life upside down ("What life do you speak of, exactly?" said the voice in my head), weighed how the boys would take the news ("Do they have a choice?" that maddening voice continued) and wondered who in God's name would buy my house in the condition it was in (What about that stellar house flipper right here in town?" the voice shot down my every argument).  

I considered it seriously.  I had lots of family down there.  I had old friends who were still in the area.  I knew the lay of the land, I knew which way the wind blew.  I knew that no Democrat had held public office for many, many years.  (For the sake of honesty I must state here that I don't actually hate democrats. In fact, there are some that I love, but I would never give them my checkbook.   I do actually hate the tax rate increases they constantly burden the rest of us, and even themselves with.  I'm not even going to mention what they did to insurance, because I don't think I have to.  Bless their little suicidal hearts.  And as long as we're on the subject, for God's sake, don't forget to vote!!!)  I literally could no longer afford to live where I was anyway, and now I would never be able to even keep up, which is all I had been doing for years.  I had to face the truth.

I started seeing it all happen, if only I had the guts to take the first step.  If.  All I had to do was pick up the phone and offer a good business man a good deal.  Even though I did not feel in a position of strength.  Just pick up the phone and see what happened.  That's all.  Just ask.

So I took the biggest step and called the stellar guy. He bought my house within a week.  He came and looked at that mess and didn't blink an eye.  Score one for having the guts to take a chance.  When you are too scared to start, just tell yourself that it doesn't hurt to ask.  It really doesn't hurt.  AT ALL.

I broached the subject with the boys, who took it better than I had hoped.  After all, it wasn't like we were moving to somewhere they had never been before or didn't know anyone.

Then things just started coming together.  Like, within a month I had packed up or sold most of everything I had ever owned, and lost 15 pounds.  My brother rented a U-Haul, drove 5 hours up to help us load it, turned right around, got right back in the truck, and took us home.  There he helped us unload and then drove the U-Haul back and went to his own home in the early hours of the morning.  He would not accept a dime and his only comment was "No big deal.  You keep your money, you'll need it."  This was AFTER he had bought me enough canned goods, dry goods and goodies to last me almost a year.  Yeah.  Somebody's getting a Superman shirt for Christmas this year.   I guess if I hadn't agreed to it he and my dad would have somehow forced me in a scheme to make me think it was all my idea.  They know me that well.  But I was sensible and rode the rapids.  It's just how we roll.  Eventually. Once we run out of M&Ms at least.

See that fog ahead?  This is a perfect metaphor for my life during the month of August in 2014.

At no other time in my life would I have accepted help from Dad.  I would even go so far as to say that at no other time in my life was he in a position to offer it.  The last few years I knew God was working in my life, but I was unclear on what he wanted me to do.  He slammed the door shut on the one thing I thought was stable in my life and left me no other choice but to do what I would never have done on my own.  Even though I almost had a nervous breakdown and could possibly have let it go and just kept eating M&Ms and watched crap tv until the men in white coats came to take me away, in retrospect it was one of the BEST thing that has ever happened to me.  I'm not even going to go into the relief I feel on a daily basis when I think about still going into that building and sitting all day, every day, getting more out of shape and more hateful by the hour.  Because that would be beneath me.  It really would.  I thank God that is no longer my life.

Instead, now I drive into town on roads that look like this.

Admire scenery like this.

 A trip to the park.
 In the foreground of this shot is a memorial to George Washington Carver, who started his education here.
 There are fish and ducks to feed.

Southern Missouri is recognizable by the running water everywhere, over rocks that makes the water look clear
 All of these were taken at the city park in Neosho, Missouri.
I have always loved the houses made from the stones that occur naturally in the area.

Once you live near running water, you will never feel at home away from it.  The noise it makes, the way the sun dances off of it, the sense of purpose.  It never leaves you.  It marks your soul and makes you realize how fast time is always moving.

When I get bored, I try to figure out that the house at up these stairs looks like.  One day I will find the street it is on from the other side, on the top of the hill.  I figure it will be easier than climbing all those stairs and scaring them to death unexpectedly, or getting thrown back down them.  

See those stairs on the left side of the picture?
They lead to this house.  It's all you can see with the leaves on the trees, but it looks like it would be worth the climb, were you rude enough to invade their privacy, which I am not.
But it looks REALLY COOL!!!!  Perhaps someday I will "know" this house.

On my way back home I get to go by this, which is one of my favorite parts.  It's a civil war fence, which confederate soldiers hid behind during the war right outside of Newtonia, and where cannon balls and spoons and such are still uncovered when the field behind is plowed each spring.

Ok, it's beginning to fall apart in places, but have some respect, it's OLD.

To top it all off, this stands at the courthouse where I registered to vote.

What's not to love?  I was meant to be here!!
If all that were not enough, which it is, this is my view, from the front porch in my little village.
A calm place to be, where I can hear the voices of my youth and see the people who knew me when.  Before I was an adult or anybody's mother.  When I was just me.  The people who knew you when you were young always will.  That's a fact.

From the driveway.  That field just got bailed and contains cows.  I like cows.

So life goes on.  Growing up with a father from SW Missouri and a mother from NE Missouri, (part hill-billy, part WASP) my heart was always split.  No matter how glad I was to be going to one place, I was always sad to be leaving the other.  You can't be two places at once, but two places can share equal space in your heart.  To choose one over the other would be impossible.  It would be like loving one child more than another.  Impossible.  You love each one for different things, in different ways, but not more than any other.  There is room for both.  Now there is time for both.  I remain ready, and God continues His work on me.  Here I have time and space to consider just what I have been readied for, and I thank Him for it.  I wouldn't change a single thing that has brought me here.  They boys have settled in and are learning to love two places at the same time also.  This has only added to their lives, not taken anything away. The dogs seem happy too, although they seem terrified to leave the yard, which only works in my favor.  Even that loose end has been tied up.  Only God, as Patty would say.  Only God could have done all this.

Jul 23, 2014

The End of the Road.............

I am writing this, whether I ever publish it or not, because it's 2 in the morning and I can't sleep.
This has been a very strange year for me.  The highs and lows have been higher and lower than usual and both came at the same time this year in my life.

I knew this year would bring my first grandchild, my own little Charli-girl, and I awaited this birth with what seems to be more excitement than the births of my own children.  I know this can't be true, but when you have your own you are dreading the last step, eager as you may be to get it over with.  With grandchildren there is no dread at all, just eager anticipation for it to happen.  This child has never been far from my mind, since I found out she was coming.  I have, in fact, been waiting for this child for several years before she was a fact in all our lives.

Tonight her mother labors, and her father stands watch, and tomorrow I do believe she will arrive.
The reason I can't sleep has nothing to do with this happy news, though.  The reason I cannot sleep is because in my heart I am sitting vigil for one of my best friends, Lori.  Lori has been fighting cancer for 2 years, and her battle is just about over.  I suppose you could say she lost that battle, but no one who knew Lori will say that.  Lori lost very few battles on this earth and even in this, she decided when she would go.  A more valiant effort I cannot imagine.  No amount of morphine could erase her urge to get up and visit every time I was there.  I would beg her to stay down and just let me rub her feet, but no.  She would insist on getting up, even when she could no longer manage that on her own, and once in the kitchen she would offer me something to drink.  She would ask if I had eaten.  She would then ask about the kids.  No amount of drugs could make her forget her manners.   Lori was a lady, right down to her toes, right to the end.
Many times she has saved me, though she never knew it.  She was the kind of person who did everything "right", whether anyone would ever know or not.  For her pure soul, all that mattered was that God knew.  Like her mother and her grandmother before her, she lived her faith every minute of every day of her life.

It often showed itself in the smallest ways.  I have seen her get fighting mad over a suggestion that she salvage lettuce  that was a little over the hill.  This was absolutely out of the question and the person who suggested that Lori do such a thing was actually glad to drive to town for fresh lettuce rather than face her wrath.  I still laugh and think it served them right.

Whenever I found myself unsure of what to do, say, or wear, I would just pretend I was Lori, and do it the way she would.  She was the kind of girl who did not consider animals less than humans, and treated all souls the exact same way.

 I remember one time going to see her, when she excused herself to feed the dog.  I thought it would only take as long as scooping out a cup of food into a bowl, like I do, but it took longer than that.  When I went to check on her, she was mixing up the food with some scraps, stirring in a raw egg (for the dog's coat) and adding cheese (for extra flavor).  Then she served that dog a meal just the same way she would have served me or anyone else, hoping and watching for signs that it was good.  It was, and I hope you will not doubt my word that even the dog knew Lori was a fine lady, because nobody, even the kindest person on earth (which Lori may actually have been) had ever served that dog a meal like that before.  Sure we feed our dogs, but do we feed them with a flourish?  Every time?  I think not.

Her attention to detail was part of her, and her work ethic was golden.  I don't care if your house, your car, or your self fell apart, Lori would be there.  She would know exactly what to do, how to do it, and how long it would take.  She was beautiful, but never seemed to know it.  She had a spirit that was much bigger than her body, and would crawl under a house to fix a broken pipe or under a car to fix (whatever you fix under there--don't ask me, I am no Lori) without a second's hesitation, and would be happy just to help you.  If she hosted a dinner, the table would be set with special little touches that only Lori would think of.  If someone treated you badly, all you had to do was tell her the story and she would immediately feel outrage and injustice, do and say all the things I wished that I had thought of to say at the time.  She guided me and she comforted me.  We laughed, cried, ran wild, grew up, worried and railed against injustice together for 31 years and I am just devastated that I will be without her physical presence here from now on.  The only time I remember ever guiding her was when her dear sweet mother had Alzheimers.

So even though I sit here crying at 2 in the morning in my son's house, waiting for a baby, I am also sitting by her, in her mother's house, and I am loving her and wishing her a peaceful passing without fear.  I know that her mother waits for her baby to return to her just like I wait for Charli.  I know that Lori will be joyful to see her mom again, and I know that she will always be with me in my heart.  I will miss her terribly but I will see her again. There is very little we haven't weathered together and it is a bitter pill that she will not see my grandchildren the same way she saw my babies.  It was Lori that sat with my mother during The Rock Star's birth, and was there to help after we got home.  Though I feel lost and lonely without those two ladies, I know exactly what to do and they will be ever present in me while I tend to my precious duties.  I will never say goodbye.  There is no need when they are in my heart all the time.

When we met were just teenagers.  We made big plans, as teenagers will.  Some of those plans came true, and some of those plans fell through, and now at the end of this road we have traveled together all I am is grateful.  I sat in the living room watching her in a hospital bed positioned where her mother always kept her quilt rack, and reflected on how I never imagined this, of all the things I did imagine in that room.  You never know what life holds in store, and even though I am happy about that, still I was grateful to be able to be there and lend what comfort I could.

Yes, grateful.  Tonight when I went to sleep, even though I was crying, I thanked God for her life, for letting me be part of it, and for her wonderful family that has been a blessing to me, whether they have known it or not.  The love and devotion, the square jawed, fearless facing of the music, the rock solid faith, the good sense and the bravery of that family, I am so grateful to have known and been a part of.

In the last few months, Lori, the baby of the family, could not have been more cherished.  One day she complained about a tree in her view of the lake behind the house.  One of her brothers promptly cut it down, stacked it for firewood and cleaned up any stray splinters left to mar the grass.  Anything they could cook or buy for her, it was done without a thought.  I am grateful also for those "kids" getting to spend time in the house they grew up in, looking after their baby sister, as a family again.  I cannot even put into words how it makes you feel to see your best friend's brother dissolve his sister's pills in water and tenderly give them to her with a baby dropper, because it hurts her too much to swallow.   Such unconditional love, and done as if it's the most natural thing in the world.  It is, actually, the most natural thing in the world, and I don't know how we forget that.  I hope I never do again.

It is so easy to lose touch when you have your own families and obligations.  Only when death threatens us do we ever get to go back and be just who we are within our own family.  It's a comfort that there is no substitute for, and I know her parents are so very proud.  I know because if you ever mention it,  to any one of 6 children, they will all say the credit goes to their parent and the way they were raised.  And this will just multiply and go on and on, and so shall those of us left here.  For nothing can ever keep someone you love from you, certainly not death.  In fact, Lori has been in my head and my heart for 3 decades, and that will never change, not in this world and not in the next, where I know we will meet again, along with our mothers.
I have felt our mother's both close lately, and it cannot be denied that the portal is open.  I have known for months that this was going to happen.  I tried to spend as much time with Lori as I could, but now that it is imminent and she may need me most, I cannot be there with her physically.  I tell myself it doesn't matter, and I know in reality it does not.  She is well taken care of, and surrounded by her loved ones, and I am there in spirit.  I feel split in two, but I know both our mother's are surrounding us, and our mother's have been together in heaven for a while now, so it feels like we are all together spiritually, even if our physical locations on earth may be far apart at the moment.  Physical locations on earth mean very little in the spiritual world, and God's law reigns supreme.  I know this in my head and in my heart, and I am comforted no matter what happens next because I know God is in control.

When my mother was in Lori's situation, she told me that she asked God to live, but God said no.  She smiled a sad smile and said, "He does that, you know, and all we can do is say Okay, God, I will do what you ask."  I knew it was true, and I accepted it, hard as it was.  I didn't like it, but it was an important step in my life.  I watched her set an example of serenity that I thought I could never follow, but what do you know, here I am, stressed, yes, sad, yes, but also joyful and grateful.  Grateful for getting these two fine ladies for as long as I did.  Losing them could never hurt so bad that I would not be grateful to have had them for as long as I got to.

My advice is this:  Never make the mistake of praying for things you want.  God knows what you want and he is not Santa Claus.  When you pray you should be praying for Him to use you as He sees fit.  Sometimes you have to swallow a bitter pill and just have faith that God knows what he is doing,  If you can't do that then I guess it's easy to see where you should begin.

Tomorrow, those of us left shall take up our crosses and follow Him, and life will go on and we will be better for what we have been through.  We will set our own examples for our children and those around us, in this way we teach what we have learned, and it will multiply.  It will come back to them when it is time, and they will do as their parents taught them, when it is most needed.

There are times in life when you will have something terrible and scary coming right for you.  Plant your feet, set your jaw, and face it head on.  You are not alone, and if it wasn't God's plan, you would not be going through it.  Believe it.  You are not alone, in fact, you are so far from alone as to make that downright laughable.  When you open the door and all you see is black, do not be afraid to take that step anyway, knowing God is there.  He's known black since before there was even light, and He has already taken care of that a long time ago anyway.  There is nothing you can think of that He cannot handle.  Let that be a comfort to you, it has always worked for me.

In a few days I will make that drive again, with nothing but joy in my heart.  Nothing lasts forever, but one thing I know for certain is that you can't make old friends, and they will always be a part of you.

Lori graduated this earth on July 20, at 8 am on Sunday morning.  My uncle John followed her the very next day, and I know our families in heaven are together there just as those left of us here will be together paying them tribute.