Monthly Archives: April 2015

Parallel

Written on 4/3/15.

Mother had told me over the last several years she wanted to donate her body to science when she died. Then she would say something funny about things they could study and learn and might find. We’d both laugh at some of the craziness. That’s how we dealt with things – with seriousness and then we’d find the humor in the darkness. We had to laugh through the hard stuff or it got to heavy and we might not make it through.

She said she wanted to be able to do something good – something to help others. I understood.

So yesterday I spent some time making many phone calls to try and honor her wish. I was told over and over again that they couldn’t take her body because of an infectious disease.

Oh the irony – even in death she has had obstacles with doing the good she deeply desired.

One person told me the “Body Farm” might take the body. I was mortified by the name and immediately had this very dark imagine pop in my head. I googled. It was exactly as I’d thought. It was disturbing but interesting. I would still be donating her body to science like she wanted. I called them and asked a few questions. They said they could “possibly” take her depending on some things.

I wrestled with mother’s desire to help others but the only option being something I couldn’t live with. It was to heavy and dark. I saw a parallel with how she lived her life and the “Body Farm.” I could hear some of the things she would be saying about the “Body Farm.” Thinking of her humor lightened the load. Ultimately I decided the body farm wasn’t something I could get okay with – so she will be cremated which was also her wish.

So today we head to her dark little apartment (which should be condemned) to gather the very few personal items and papers she had left in this old world. We will go by the funeral home to finalize the cremation. We’ll argue with the funeral home about my need for closure and need to view the body. They’ll tell me once again they wouldn’t recommend it. All the while, I’ll be thinking – I’m sure there’s a lot of things about where I come from or where she came from – things I’ve seen, heard and lived through that you wouldn’t recommend.

The truth is mother did a lot of good. She just didn’t realize it. Most of it was inadvertent. She taught me the “whys” while others taught me the “hows” of most things. She taught me why I wanted to be the best mom and wife I could be; why I wanted to be there for my kids; why I wanted to work hard; why I needed to be strong; why I needed to avoid certain substances; why I needed to have a good sense of humor; why I needed to be resourceful; why I needed to be kind, loving, empathetic, truthful and respectful; why I needed to hide my crazy; why I always needed to look past the obvious; why I always needed to treat people the same regardless of where they come from or how much money they did or didn’t have; and why I always need to find the good in everything.

She taught me some of the most valuable life lessons and for that I am thankful.

Finding the sweet side of crazy.

Kandy

 

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She Got Me

she got me

I have six  medium plastic tubs full or partially full of mother’s keepsakes.  That’s it.  That’s all she had.  She was 61 years of age and all she had could be put into six plastic tubs and carted away.

Yesterday,  April 5, 2015 – four days after Mother’s death and my 24th wedding anniversary, I pulled three of those tubs outside and sat under our shade trees in my pajamas with the cool breeze on a beautiful sun filled day and began to look through her things. I was looking for something but I wasn’t sure what exactly. I knew in my heart I’d recognize it when I found it.  It was surreal.

There were two of her Bibles (thank you Uncle Jimmy), books, old letters, and lots of pictures, many papers and such. I skimmed through each and created a trash pile for the junk papers. I picked up a black 3 ring binder filled with papers. The front and back pockets were stuffed with papers. The rings were full of loose leaf lined papers she had written on. There were about 9 pages of her handwritten life story. It was very condensed and to the point. As I kept reading, I realized it was from a recovery program and the year was 2010. I had forgotten she had attended a program about that time. She laid out a condensed timeline of marriages, substance abuse, physical abuse and such. I’m not normally much of a crier except here lately. But as I read, I wept. I could see from her eyes. Which was always important to me. I kept reading and some of it was hard to read but I needed it. I was thankful she left this behind. She even acknowledged lying to me about some usage. This was important for me because there is so much guilt when dealing with an addict. My first thought was always – she’s using or drinking. It was a logical conclusion because of history and her behavior but I always felt terrible falsely accusing or questioning. You feel guilt when you have to use tough love too. You have to do really hard things because you know its best. You feel guilt when you can’t do anymore but save your sanity. She could be really mean.

I read she was dealing with being angry with me for having her placed as an “EOD.” How could I blame her? I’d be mad too. But sometimes you are put in a position where you have to do really hard stuff for the other persons own good. It’s called tough love and it’s tough for all.

I sifted through more papers reading where she would write 5 positive things about herself. This was hard for her. She suffered from a lot of regret and guilt herself. It was nice to read the positive things she could identify about herself. She was a wounded soul.

I sifted more, I found my name! I could hear her. When she was serious or wanted my attention she’d say “Now, Kandy Lyn” really fast. It always made me smile the way she said it. Then I remembered how she’d get mad at Scott and she’d call him “Scotty” in a really mean voice. That always made Scott and I both laugh. He would try to protect me from the craziness and she’d get so mad at him.

I continued to read. There it was! Exactly what I was looking for! She got me. She knew my heart. She knew down deep I tried the best I could.

“Kandy – My daughter, Kandy + I have always been able to tell our feelings to each other except when I’ve been using or drinking. She forgives easily. She knows its the drug + behavior she didn’t like, not the person.  Kandy is intelligent, beautiful inside and out, honest to a “T”, Trustful and compassionate.”

This meant more to me than anything she could have left me that had monetary value. My heart was full! I packed up the rest of her stuff, showered, got dressed and went to be with family for an early Easter dinner.

Life goes on.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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God’s Perfect Timing

Written on 4/4/15, three days after Mother’s death.

I found out about my mother’s death from my husband instead of finding out from random police officers. One of our lifelong friends was able to give Scott the news. Scott was then able to tell me. Now think about that – our friend “just happened” to be on duty the very day and time the notification came in from the other city’s police department. He “just happened” to receive the information. We “just happened” to recently move from one city we had lived in for the last 20 something years into the city limits where our friend was a policeman which allowed us to receive the information from him. Those things didn’t “just happen.”

Yesterday – I received this text from another beautiful lifelong friend…“Wherever you are and whatever you are doing right this second please know that right now I am praying for you.” We had just pulled up to mother’s apartment. She didn’t “just happen” to send that text at that perfect timing.

Both of these people are some of my (our) best friends. We have been friends with them for more than 30 years. They both know intimate details of my relationship with mother. Both have met her and both have helped me deal with her in very heartbreaking circumstances over the years. God’s perfect timing.

The last time I saw mother was just 5 days before her death. Which is a God Wink in itself. Although I would speak to her multiple times a week, I would go months without seeing her. It was too hard for me emotionally to watch the destruction.

Over the last two years the calls from the ER, ICU, Case Managers, police, neighbors, life line, etc. had all increased dramatically. It was an emotional roller coaster. I knew I was just as powerless as she was. And she truly was completely utterly powerless. Believe me I had tried everything I could possibly think of to save her.

About a year and a half ago on a Friday night Mason and I drove down and picked her up in a very drastic attempt to help. There had been another heartbreaking crazy situation. We brought her to our house in an effort to keep her safe and help improve her living conditions. That lasted exactly 4 days. I had never bought her alcohol in my life. But this time, I knew if I didn’t buy her alcohol and we didn’t ration it out in small doses – she’d most definitely go into life-threatening withdrawals. So I did. I totally went against my own rule and drove to the liquor store to buy her the very thing that I knew would eventually kill her. All in an effort to save her life. That is some heavy stuff….And it didn’t work.

That Monday evening after a baseball game, she had already walked around our neighborhood – going door to door until she found someone to take her to the liquor store. By the time I got home she was completely out of her mind. This was complete craziness! That was when I was hit in the back of the head with a frying pan – I realized there wasn’t anything I could do to save her except pray for her. If I continued, I’d only end up losing myself. I had 2 boys and a husband who needed me and I needed to be there for them. So from that day forward my goal was to do my best to let her know she was loved and try to somehow add sweetness to her very sad life while also protecting myself from the crazy.

Doing love and setting healthy boundaries can be so difficult. I wanted my boys to be able to get a different glimpse of my mother. I didn’t want them to see her as bad person or think less of her. I wanted them to see the sweetness that got lost in the ugliness. I wanted them to know we have a predisposition to becoming this very thing. I wanted them to know she loved them the very best she could. I wanted them to know she was more than her mistakes. Just as we all are.

Anyway – 5 days before her death, we “just happened” to be going to a funeral in the town she lived in. So, I called mother several days before to let her know we were coming. I always gave her several days warning so she had enough time to get herself together before we came. That notification requirement was the result of a very hard lesson which involved my boys. So since that lesson – I always gave the notification. While we were at Walmart picking up the items she needed, we “just happened” to get her an Easter basket and fill it with some goodies and some tulips. I had never bought her an Easter basket before and thought it might be something she would enjoy. As we left that day, mother asked me to call her rental company to let them know her shower wasn’t working. After the funeral, I called her back and asked for the number of the rental company so I could call for her. That was the last time I spoke to my mother.

After she died I found out her case manager went to see her soon after we had left that Friday. Mother was proudly showing him the Easter basket and telling him that we had just been there. I am so thankful we went that day.

I am so thankful for God’s perfect timing. I am so thankful for everything I have been protected and saved from. I am thankful for all the thoughts, prayers, family and friends I have been blessed with. I am thankful for all those who took care of mother when I couldn’t. I am thankful for all of those who took care of me when she couldn’t. I am thankful for God’s grace, love and forgiveness.

For all of you who are personally dealing with this terrible disease – I pray for you and your family. Do the best you can do with the best you have. Always look for the good. It’s there I promise. What you look for is what you’ll find.

Find the sweet side of crazy.

Kandy

 

 

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You Should Start A Blog!

That’s what I heard. So I did it! It only took me a bazillion years. Alright, not exactly! Only about 14 hours. But hey, who’s counting?

Did you know you could learn most anything on YouTube? It’s true!

I listened to a YouTube video about how to start a blog on my long drive yesterday. I love YouTube Videos. It was great and the guy made it seem somewhat simple. Did I mention I am technologically challenged? I had to buy a domain, purchase a host and a platform. Something like that anyway. I had to google just to get a little understanding.

My guys (husband and 2 sons) were gone hunting and fishing last night. That gave me time all to myself to dedicate to creating the blog. I could do this! I hoped.

I started last night around 8:00 p.m. and worked on it until about 9:30 last night. The YouTube video said at a certain point I’d have to stop for 2 – 4 hours so something I didn’t understand could happen. So when I got to that point, I stopped, jumped in the shower and went to bed. I’d finish it in the morning.

At 3:00 a.m. I woke up. I tossed and I turned. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided to check on my blog progress. It had been more than 4 hours and I was excited to see my accomplishment.

Dang! Something was wrong. I messed with it and messed with it. No luck. I called the host company. It was 3:15 in the morning! The tech support wasn’t very helpful. I’m sure my starting out with…”Hello, I watched this YouTube video about starting your own blog and I’m having problems” didn’t help and it was 3:15 in the morning. I could hear what was coming out of my mouth as I was talking to this technology guru. I knew I sounded a little crazy. The guy said “What is your domain name?” I paused. Holy cow! Why did I choose THAT domain name? Now I really feel crazy! I stated, “Sweet Side of Crazy.” I was a little embarrassed and giggled on the inside. He didn’t laugh. He looked at my information and told me all this technical stuff. I told him I didn’t really understand and as far as I was concerned it sounded like he was speaking Spanish. That didn’t go over so well. He repeated it again. Still Spanish. I said “let me teach back to make sure I understand” because that’s what we do as nurses. I honestly thought he might see what a poor job he was doing of helping me. It certainly wasn’t me and my YouTube education. I tried to repeat what he said. Yeah, I didn’t get it and he didn’t get that he wasn’t doing a good job. I was kind of mad at the YouTube guy. He recommended this company.

The guy on the phone told me I should call the company I purchased the domain from. I asked him if he could at least send me an email with instructions or something. He said he would. We hung up.

I checked my email and opened what he sent me. No attachments. Just a link that I couldn’t click on. I had to copy and paste into the browser. Error message. Well, that wasn’t helpful. I emailed him back and told him so. It made me feel better. Oh nice, another email. His company sent me a survey. Two questions and I answered both. They didn’t score so well.

I called the company I purchased the domain from. The guy was much nicer. By this time it was almost 4:00 a.m. Thank goodness. Maybe I wouldn’t sound so crazy. I did. I repeated the same information as I did to the first company. This guy was nice and helpful. He didn’t speak a foreign language to me. He actually walked me through it and corrected my issue. I’m thankful for nice helpful people. And by the way – the domain company also hosts so needless to say – I switched companies.

Hooray for nice helpful people! I liked that nice guy!

That was only the beginning. Hours and hours and hours later – Happy Blogging! I think.

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Mother’s death

 

Mother

Wednesday evening, April 1st 2015 (yes – April Fool’s day), I received the dreaded news I’d been mentally trying to prepare myself for over the last several years. The one where I hear “they found your mother dead.” I know those words sound harsh and hard. Saying “passed away” sounds much softer. But that’s not what I heard because her life wasn’t soft and gentle. She didn’t just pass away.  Her death  was hard and tragic just like she lived. Addiction steals and brings ugly hard dark stuff.

Down deep, she was a scared, disappointed, lonely, hurt young girl. She covered it by drinking and drugging and showing her mean, hard, ugly ,scary junk. Some could see through to the kinder gentler person but not all got the chance.

No matter how much you try to prepare – you are never really prepared for the finality – no matter the circumstances.

This is one of my favorite pictures of her. She looks happy and still has a spark in her eye. It was before she became completely powerless to the substances that controlled her. It was before her life was so dark. It was before a little girl was robbed of her mother and before little boys were robbed of a grandmother they would really never know. She was also robbed. Probably more than any of us. She never got to experience the real joys of being a wife, mother or grandmother. I think back to all the things she missed in life. I don’t believe she ever made it to one of my boys games- little league through high school. She missed kindergarten graduations, Mason’s HS graduation, school programs, birthdays, my college graduation, the big stuff and the small stuff. I don’t remember her really being at much.

I believe she would have if she could have. She just couldn’t. She was submerged in darkness. My heart has always hurt for her and what could have been. She lost so much in this old world.

She had the best sense of humor and was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. She always made me laugh. She was the most resourceful person I know. She thought she was one of the toughest people in the world and maybe she was.  

I am thankful for God’s strategic placement of people who took care of me when she couldn’t. I’m thankful for people who took care of her when I couldn’t. I’m thankful for my wonderful family and friends who teach me so much. I’m thankful for all the lessons she never meant to teach me but did anyway. I’m thankful for God’s grace, love and forgiveness.

I’m thankful my mother finally has peace and is whole again. I know she was God’s child and battled the ugliness for so long.

Sometimes we look at people like mother with disgust and judgment.  These people who suffer addiction face battles and darkness most of us you will thankfully never know personally.  It’s a terrible vicious cycle of darkness, dispare, hope, unforgiveness (of self and others) hard work and battle after battle after battle. 

My prayers are with all of you (and your family and friends) whose lives have been forever changed because of this terrible tragic disease.

You can beat this. Reach for the light and surround yourself with people who lift you up.  And most of all forgive. Forgive yourself for everything you’re still hanging on too and forgive those who hurt you. God never intended for any of us to suffer through this.

Much love and hugs!

Kandy

 

 

 

 

 

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