SoCS – May 14 – The Hats I Wear

Linda is our host for SoCS. I, like a multitude of others, enjoy writing “off the cuff.” Take a look at what others have posted after you join in the fun.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “hat.” Use it literally or metaphorically. Have fun!

It’s past midnight and I am not tired. That’s because I took a late nap this afternoon.

My daughter and the three Zs came for a visit today. Being the ever cautious one, we began our visit outside. My daughter has two more weeks off school post her medical procedure. We had a conversation about how when you are away from work, people often forget about you. It’s like your hat disappears when you are no longer in sight.

I was thinking about all the hats I used to wear. I wore the hat of a teacher for many, many years. I loved that hat. I miss that hat. But in some ways, I will always be a teacher. I think the hat is permanently glued to my head.

Post retirement, I still wear many hats. My hats are ones that bring me joy. I am a seamstress, an artistic scrapbooker, a gardener, a reader, a fur baby mamma, a pro at decluttering, an amateur cook, and an invested caregiver to myself.

My favorite hats though, are those of Mom, Grandma, and friend. These are the hats that give me the most joy. I hadn’t seen all my Zs together in a long time. The long hugs we shared were the best things I’ve had in a very long time. My eldest grandson is now 6’5”. He hasn’t been to my house in quite a while. (Since the beginning of Covid) He walked around and told me my house shrank while he was away. He giggled stating that he was sure my furniture was taller before. It was fun to see him so grown up and yet such a kid.

Z2 is taking driving lessons now. I am glad I don’t have to wear the hat of driving instructor. She is very excited to say the least. She didn’t know if she should tell the instructor that she had driven (illegally) with her dad before. At the end of her lesson, he told her she was a level 2 and not a level 1. We all assume that is a good thing.

 Z3 was thrilled to be playing board games at my house. He is very skilled. I am pleased that I wore the hat of game instructor for all my grands. Z3 won the first game. His older brother was not too happy about it. I won the second game of Sequence, but it was a close game. When we retired into the house, Z3 wanted to know if he could get the Hot Wheels cars out of the garage. I told him where they were and he promptly began playing with them, just like a little kid.  My daughter commented how nice it was to see him playing like a kid and not on a device.

The long visit made me very aware that my Nana hat needs to be worn more in person. It’s hard with the long distance between our houses and the medical difficulty of the drive. The kids are growing up so fast. Phones are fine, but in person is so much better. I sent them off with a care package. I also hugged them all and told them how much I love them. I already miss them all. 

 
   

Trying to Get Back To My Happy Place

These last few weeks have been a struggle. I have been dealing with what would be identified as extreme circumstances in anyone’s book.

I lost my last paternal aunt in my family. It was a deep emotional loss. Because of my aunt, my brothers and I, as children,  stayed connected to my biological father’s family.
Because of my aunt, my paternal grandparents were a huge influence in my life.
Because of my aunt, I grew up learning about and participating in my Jewish culture.
Because of my aunt, my children were exposed to wonderful art programs as children.
Because of my aunt, I experienced art museums and a developed a love of art.
Because of my aunt, I am the person I am today.

Her funeral was outside with only 5 of us and the Cantor. We all spoke about our love for her and our appreciation for having her in our lives. We tore the black kriah ribbon representing our loss. We shoveled the dirt onto the beautiful pine casket engraved with a Star Of David. We sang the prayers along with the Cantor. I was given the yahrzeit candle. These all felt so right to me. But, leaving the funeral without hugs was very difficult. No gathering after also felt so very wrong. My heart was breaking for so many reasons.

Then on Monday, I was informed that my biological father had passed away. To say that we were estranged, would be the understatement of the century. I have seen him 3 times in the past thirty years. Two of those occasions were my niece and nephews Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. We did not speak. He came up to my daughters individually and told them he was their grandfather. Being the articulate young twenty somethings, they both said that he was not as he had never met them or known them. I mourned the “what could have been” many years ago in therapy. I was sad for my brother, because he lost a parent who cared about him. I lost nothing. I have zero fond memories of that man. He never knew me, never knew my daughters, and didn’t even know of the existence of my grandchildren, his only great-grandchildren. To write it all off as I wasn’t a son, obviously, would be giving him too much credit. He did so many “wrong things” that to me were unforgivable. He had no positive influence on who I am. Monday, I processed his passing. Mainly, I was missing my mom and wondering why G-d took her five years ago and allowed him to still be here. I can honestly say, that Tuesday, I woke up and had no feelings of loss at all for him.

I am still mourning my aunt. I am still mourning the loss of my uncle 4 years ago. I am still mourning my mom’s passing 5 years ago.  Death and loss of the physical being is very different for every one. 

A dear sweet friend said something that touched my heart today. She said isn’t it wonderful that we have so many good memories with our grandchildren? She was encouraging about the fact that we still will have time to make more sweet memories that they can hold in their heart.

I had  my second vaccine today. I am fine and so far, no reactions. That is for another post though. I wanted to dip my toe back in the blogging pond.

5 Things – Fall Favorites

Dr. Tanya is the host of 5 Things. She asks what are five favorite things for fall.

 

 

 

  1. Cooler Weather – The dreaded heat of late summer gives way to more hours spent outside in coolness.

 

 

2. Halloween – Carving pumpkins is always a hit with the grandkids.

 

 

3. Thanksgiving – Hosting loved ones was always important to me. In 2013 Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and my aunt’s birthday (far left) all fell on the same day.

4. Hanukkah – Celebrating with family is always wonderful.

 

 

 

5- Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international day of protest against  consumerism. 

 

 

My Pandemic Birthday

covid2

Birthdays have always been a challenge to me for a variety of reasons. As a child we were often in dire financial situations. My mom was raising us alone (most of the time) and often worked two or three jobs. Winter holiday gifts were winter clothes and my birthday gifts were summer clothes. I understood the circumstances and most of the time I was grateful for whatever I got. Of course, most of my friends were in better situations than my family so, I sometimes envied them. I remember the joy at receiving a book in the mail from my aunt in New York. Books were a luxury we couldn’t afford. The highlight of my birthday was getting to choose the dinner of my choice. Being the oddball that I was I often wanted liver or artichokes for my special meal.

I had graduated early from high school and started junior college. Within months I got married. I married as a means of escaping my homelife. (I realized that later, not at the time.)  My, then spouse and I were living in poverty for quite a while. I tried to make the best of the situation. I made my children’s toys and clothes. I attempted to spoil them with the one thing I had, my love. My birthday was still not important to most anyone. I just assumed that was how it was always going to be. It didn’t make me stop wanting to celebrate others as best I could. I enjoyed making cards and gifts for my family.

As my daughter’s grew, they would lovingly make and get me the sweetest gifts. Those birthdays meant the world to me. The care and thought they gave to finding something that would make me happy was wonderful. As teens, they surprised me with a booking to get our pictures taken together at JC Penny’s or Sears. (I don’t remember which.) They hadn’t been willing to do pictures for quite a while, so I was overjoyed. It wasn’t “cool” to have your picture taken with your mom. One of those shots was on a prior blog.

As my girls grew up and moved away birthdays were still so important to me. Just as life experiences change so did the time, they had to spend with me. I did my best to see them for their birthdays when they lived close enough. They were busy, and we would often have to visit on a weekend. I was very grateful for any time we were able to see each other. It did mean that my actual birthday was often spent alone. Being alone made for some melancholy days. I began to expect to feel my birthday was just another day. I looked back at their childhood years with wistful memories of cards they made with love and affection. Boy, the years went by so fast.

As an adult most of my birthdays have felt like just another day of the year. I didn’t exactly feel sad. It was often more of a “What is missing here?” When I can spend my birthday with my grandkids my heart is happy. Being a grandparent is such a precious joy. The two oldest are teens now and I wonder how long they will still have time for their Nana.  

I woke up today half expecting to be sad because of the isolation factor. Instead, I had thoughts of my mom. We had a good relationship in her later years. This morning I kept thinking of how difficult her life was and how she did the best she could raising us, with what she knew. I am grateful she gave me life and taught me so much. I believe my strength and determination are traits she instilled in me. I made a conscious decision to enjoy the day, no matter how different it may look. I thought about how proud she was of all I had accomplished. I found her brownie pan and I made dark chocolate brownies with melted junior mints and chocolate chips as the frosting. It was a special treat for both of us.

This was an extra special day for me. I felt like a life altering change happened. I was joyful and I did not feel alone. I was grateful for what I have instead of what I don’t have. I accept and realize that I am loved, and I love so many wonderful people. To my sheer delight I received birthday messages all day. I feel like I sent out the message to the universe that I was OK with or without people today. Instead of feeling isolated I was gifted with more texts, calls, and Facebook messages than I have ever had on my birthday. I heard from people who have never contacted me for my birthday.

Why this year? Is everyone feeling the need to reach out to others right now?

The first lesson for me today is to reach out when I am thinking of people for whatever reason. A message just might be what they need at the time. The second thing I learned is that even if people don’t reach out to me, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t holding me in their heart. Today was a safe, peaceful, special birthday. Hopefully next year I will be giving hugs away on my birthday.

No time for feeling low

Working toward feeling better is taking up more of my time. I am grateful for that. These last few days have been strange.

My current goal is to only require one should of myself a day. For too long I was feeling overwhelmed by my lack of ambition and initiative. I had no desire to do anything and then mentally punished myself for not accomplishing anything. The one should a day is a mental trick to accept myself where I am right now.

My daughter and granddaughter came over to give me a birthday gift. It was odd to have to stay outside and speak with six feet between us. I wanted my hugs, but knew it was not safe. We had a nice chat about what is going on in their lives. My granddaughter is promoting from 8th grade. She is missing her friends and the end of the year activities. My daughter is also a teacher and was expressing her concerns about what the new school year will look like in the fall. I told her about my hours searching on ancestry. She had purchased the DNA kit for me a few years ago and was happy that I am working on the research.

Yesterday, I was working in my garden.  My should was to water my plants and do some weeding. Typically, after I water butterflies, bees, and occasionally hummingbirds come to get water from my plants. As I was watering, I saw a hummingbird flying about six inches from head. I have never seen a hummingbird so close. I softly spoke to the hummingbird and thanked her for coming so close. She stayed there for a few minutes and I kept telling her she was safe and welcome in my garden. My spouse came outside wondering who I was talking to. I explained about my visitor that by then had retreated to the top of the trees. He immediately said it must have been my mom. I knew it wasn’t my mom. Butterflies are who represent my mom. I know many think this is all hooey but it was something I have never experienced before. When I was watering the lower yard awhile later, the hummingbird came back and was a few feet above my head. Again, I thanked her for the visit.

Today my should was to repaint where my dog had scratched up the fence between my yard and the next door neighbor. They have a new dog and it likes to bark at mine, so they have a feud going on. I had replanted a large lavender plant in front of the area where she was scratching the fence. The plant did not make it. I decided to separate one of my huge star lily plants so that I could cover the spot in front of the fence. I painted the fence and then took hours trying to dig out the plant. Little did I know the plant had grown around some tree roots. It took my unskilled use of a three-foot axe to release the plant. I was so exhausted I decided I needed a nap after I successfully removed the plant.

I went back outside after dinner to try to separate the plant and dig the holes. My spouse came out and used the axe to remove more of the old tree roots. I worked on separating the plant for about an hour. I finally had about 15 newly separated plants in their holes. It was dark by then and I was working with little backyard light. I did what I set out to do. I deeply watered all the new spots. I cleaned up my mess, well as much as I could see, and came inside.

I was planning on making brownies for my treat for tomorrow, but I was too exhausted. I think tomorrow’s should will be to make brownies.  Now that is something I can get behind. With doing my shoulds and researching ancestry I am filling my days with more than anxiety and worry. I am grateful for the changes.

98318429_10156919847286290_4646784731688468480_o 100089064_10156919847296290_1728298911539396608_o100473435_10156919847276290_5310351732901937152_o (1)100550726_10156919847391290_850822722006024192_o100745426_10156919847506290_1611935650351677440_o