I have been waiting to write about this until I had several weeks under my belt. If you have been following my journey, you know that I started this blog just over two years ago.
My two-year anniversary was July 14, 2019 – the same day my
sister died of a heart attack.
When I started my blog it was with the intention of sharing my authentic self and being honest, especially with myself. It started with a focus on my health and morphed into telling my story along the way.
But my health has been a steady focus from the beginning.
Driving away from the old farmhouse I grew up in, I was pensive and melancholy. I knew the place was rundown, but to walk into the now-abandoned shack that held so many memories was such a letdown. I wanted to find a way to shake my sense of unease.
Another place that holds wonderful memories growing up was Lake Michigan, and Silver Lake to be specific. On my way, I drove through my hometown of Hart that was just a mile or so from our farm.
Making my way past Hart Lake, I turned left towards the cemetery where my mother was buried. I stopped to see her little headstone with the wrong birth year on it. I have always wondered what the story is behind the incorrect headstone that marks her grave.
It never seemed to bother any of us, because that grave wasn’t her home it was just a marker with her name on it.
Tomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again” and after my trip to Michigan last month the literal meaning of that title hit me hard. If you have been following my story, you know I grew up in a small town in Michigan. In August I flew home to go to my sister Janet’s memorial service.
It was a somber trip dotted with memory lane moments and visits with old friends and family. I stayed at my sister Linda and her husband George’s 40-acre country home and we spent a lot of time sitting on her porch chatting.
On the day of the memorial, we headed towards Lake Michigan to join our family for Janet’s service. As I sat in the passenger seat looking out at the countryside rolling by, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.
Those four words kept gnawing at me, but I refused to
listen. “I don’t have time right now!” was always my rebuttal.
You better slow down.
I heard it over and over but I just kept going. I had to, I told myself. Things needed to be done. Arrangements needed to be made. People needed to be taken care of. Boxes weren’t going to pack themselves.
There was no time to slow down.
So I kept going and going and going until I found myself laying on a gurney with needles in my arms, sick to my stomach from drinking the chemical chalky shake they said I needed. “Take a deep breath in and hold it,” the computer voice told me as the gurney moved my body into the machine that would take photos of my insides to help determine what was going on with my (lack of) health.
We moved out of our apartment in Santa Barbara last weekend.
Well, mostly out. There are still a few things at the old place and it needs to
be cleaned up, so a part of me is still there.
When we moved from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, I had a
hard time finding a place that would fit our needs. There are only two of us
but I wanted to be sure there would be room for family when they came to visit.
I’ve always wanted the home that my kids and grandkids could
come back to and a one-bedroom apartment wasn’t exactly my dream home. But we
made it work.
I shared before that my son and his family live close to the epicenter of two of the largest earthquakes to hit Southern California in 20 years.
On July 5th they had to evacuate their home after the 7.1 quake.
When they arrived at our house at 3:30 on Saturday morning, they were exhausted and shaken. I tucked the girls in their little bed in our room and we made sure nothing was on the walls or shelves around them.
As we were saying goodnight, their cat leaped from my nightstand down onto their bed and both of the girls jumped. They immediately started comforting each other saying it was okay it wasn’t another earthquake.
I’ve received the call before. You know the one. The “I’m
afraid I’ve got some bad news” call.
When I finally arrived at Adam’s house after a long day of
travel, I was still messaging with my sister, Linda about my day. We sent
several messages back and forth and I told her I arrived safely.
Then she called.
I answered happily, thinking how wonderful it would be to chat with her instead of texting. Only she didn’t sound happy. She had just got off the phone with close friends of our sister Janet and delivered the bad news to me.
I started writing this post about five times now and couldn’t seem to get past the first few lines. Forgive me if I ramble or it seems disjointed.
The last six weeks have been filled with so many highs and lows, I can hardly keep it all straight. In June, I was riding roller coasters with my granddaughters in Legoland and Sea World laughing and have a great time.
I didn’t realize at the time that my own personal roller coaster ride was just starting.
After last month’s scare over the health of my niece and sister, I started July with a renewed sense of purpose to return to my optimum health. I did a little research and learned a bit about insulin resistance and found that I hit all the markers for it.
So on July 1st I tweaked my diet to help my body
regulate insulin better.
Everything was going great until July 4th, and no I didn’t eat hot dogs and potato salad and blow my diet. Instead, we experienced the biggest earthquake southern California has had in 20 years. That was until July 5th when a bigger one hit.
My family had a big scare last week. My niece was rushed into the emergency room on Saturday unable to breathe. She was immediately put on a ventilator and by the following Friday, she was still unable to breathe on her own.
My sister (her mother) lives in Texas, 1500 miles away from her daughter in Michigan, and we were scrambling to get her a flight to be at her daughter’s side. In the midst of searching the Internet for a flight that didn’t cost as much as a mortgage payment, she had a heart attack.
A funny thing happened while riding my bicycle Sunday morning. It was such a subtle shift in thinking I almost didn’t appreciate the gravity of it.
John and I have a tradition of riding our bikes to breakfast on Sundays. The little restaurant we go to is the Summerland Beach Café, which is about eight miles from our house. There are some pretty good hills along the route, especially the last one, so it is a good way to earn breakfast.
I usually look forward to our ride, but this Sunday I woke up feeling terrible. I had a headache and felt tired. We had been on the road the last week and I was beating myself up for not eating as well as I should and for drinking more wine than I normally do.
Birthday parties are a lot of fun and a lot of work. I have known for a long time that I wanted a big birthday party to celebrate my 60th year, and it turned out to be more than I could have hoped for.
Everyone pitched in to create exactly what I dreamed of, and friends and family who couldn’t attend made sure I felt loved and honored as well.
Have you ever seen the movie, “Runaway Bride” with Julia Roberts? While I can’t relate to her running at the altar, I can relate to the fact that she didn’t know who she was and kept modeling her behavior after whichever man she was with at the time.
There is a scene in the movie when her tormenter (the next guy) says she doesn’t even know how she likes her eggs because she just orders whatever her guy orders. I may have known exactly how I liked my eggs, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of who I was or more importantly what I wanted.
At 40, I was divorced and in a relationship with a saddle maker. So of course, I was a saddle maker too. He happened to be half Native American, and I jumped in headlong learning everything I could about my native heritage.
I’ve heard it said that a grain of sand can tip the scale,
but in my opinion it is the pile of sand before it that rarely gets the
attention. By the time I reached 40 I felt like I was in a constant struggle to
climb the dune I had created.
Turning 30 was fun and I was sure I had everything figured
out, at least on the outside. I was married with two kids and very content with
my day-to-day life. Things got even better when we bought a little 20-acre farm
on the outskirts of town.
I’ve written many times before that I grew up on a farm, and when my boys were entering grade school I had the strongest desire for them to experience country life. The run-down, cat-infested place we purchased turned out to be the best place to let a couple of boys roam and discover things on their own.
I find it interesting that reaching a certain age holds more significance than other ages. For me, turning 20 was important. I was no longer a teenager and somehow felt more grown-up.
Things quickly fell into place when I moved to Bend, Oregon. I found a great job working for someone who would end up being a life-long friend, I had a nice apartment and best of all I had a fun convertible sports car.