Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 runs the gamut...

dear 2013,
you ran the gamut this past 365 days.
you showed us grace and devastation.
you handed us the grandest challenge to date as a family,
yet you surrounded us by loved ones that shouldered the heaviness of the load.
it is tempting to focus on the deepness of the loss,
yet learning to wade through the sad has taught me to bask in the simplest of joys.
it has taught me to be more alive-
setting aside the comfort of watching life happen around me & actively participating in daily adventures
laughing-crying-loving-living with wild abandon.
2013, i truly don't want another year like you,
but i am thankful for the hard lessons you have taught.

dear pjm.
i did it...almost.
mid-january marks one year of this chapter.
you continue to press me to do hard things,
but you have taught me i am strong in conviction & honor.
you have given me a voice i never knew i had.
  miss you, handsome.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

an anniversary.

27 years ago yesterday pjm and i were married.  our wedding anniversary.  our oldest wrote a most touching post about avahah love and her reflection on our marriage.  made me tear up and miss "that" pjm, not this sick one.

i wondered how to practically face the day & i did something very out of character for me.  i did what i wanted and did not go visit him. fridays are typically a visiting day.  yes, i there is some guilt but also tending to my heart felt more important, and facing the sad and ugly of dementia was too much.  i chatted on the phone about the funnies of life with his daughter in florida, went for a manicure and had my nails painted light rosy pink like i wore on our wedding day, pulled some weeds in the garden {yes, after the manicure}, ran with the boys to target to purchase sweet brown eyes a "dress outfit" and we attached the net to the trampoline santa did not have time to install during his late night visit on Christmas eve.  the night was finished off with homemade turkey noodle soup in spite of the 80 degree weather and a dirty martini with 3 olives.  that's how he liked them.

and i made it through the day just fine.  a few tears, yes, but last year on our anniversary i was touring facilities. places to call home for pjm.  and the rest of that day is a blur.  i don't know what we did for dinner or if there was any "celebration" to speak of.  being a year from those hard decisions gives a sense of accomplishment. remembering, we can do hard things together as a family & survive.

and tonight we will celebrate as a family.  pjm loved the theater.  i know, who would think a rough, nail driving construction man would love musicals, but he did.  i think all of the costumes, music and dance made him feel alive and part of the performance.  so i am dressing up sweet brown eyes {he only wears athletic clothes & owns only track pants}, loading up the rest of the family and we are off to hollywood to see the lion king.  promise to post pics on instagram!

dear pjm.
happy day after #27.
wishing we could have celebrate over dinner & martinis.
but i am also thankful i know right where you are 
and not driving around town like a loon in search of your wandering ass.
miss your big-bold-strong presence in my daily life,
but those warm memories of our adventurous marriage are aplenty.
thanks for asking my to be your wife on our way to mammoth so long ago.
and you continue to teach me & our children how marriage and family
 are about giving-determination-dedication.
hakuna matata my love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

he's a mean one...mr. grinch!

merry Christmas eve!  sending a holiday high five to one & all.

so i can breathe.  some days not deep cleansing breaths, more like short gasps of just a few molecules of oxygen but air pressed in and out of my lungs reminding me i am alive and that life continues on.  a year ago, the reality of dementia dealt our family a mighty blow as pjm's wandering became his obsession.  morning-noon-night.  he desired to walked our local streets.  and me, his wife, but more importantly during this time my role was his caregiver and i became obsessed as well.  my preoccupation  was tracking his whereabouts.  this crazy disease had stolen his ability to recall his personal information and his fumbly fingers were confused about how to dial his cell phone.  last christmas eve morning is was sprinkling and pjm was no where to be found.  i was frantically searching for him while attempting to find a calm within my family.  but this disease had broken us-all of us.  pjm's mind and our peace as a family.  ams bravely spoke the words we all did not want to give life to...this cannot be done anymore. he is not safe. we are not at peace. it is time to past the care-giving reins on to professionals trained to deal with this disease.

and here we sit a year later.  with Christmas and all it's messiness of last year coupled with the unknowns and life here at home without pjm has the potential to ransack my heart of the joy of celebrating Christ's birth.  just like mr. grinch loading up every ounce of Christmas in who-ville in a well orchestrated attempt to divert Christmas cheer, i contemplate how this "mama who" finds joy in the middle of dementia?  i can place my sorry self atop of a grumpy mountain and look down at all who appear to have more blessings than me this holiday season or i can step down from my self-righteous lonely mount and join all the "whos".  and those "whos" know how to celebrate-not even martha stewart can compete with their wild abandon of Christmas food & festivities & ornamentation.

and in who-ville on Christmas morning when all that was supposed to sing Christmas was gone, they gathered around, holding hands and sang with Christmas joy in spite of all that had been stolen that Christmas eve night.  and this season, this "mama who" holds hands & hearts with my sweet "who" family as we gather around our Christmas embracing each other a little tighter to fill the gap "pjm who" has left behind.

dear mr. grinch.
you are a mean one, trying to steal all that Christmas joy.
i am blessed by your example.
i can chose to sit with my mangy dog.  alone. atop of my heap of pity.
or i can embrace the "who" season and sing arm-in-arm with my family.
glad your heart grew three times that day
and you carved the roast beast.
wishing you a merry Christmas-
chrissy "lou who"

dear "who" family near & far,
merry Christmas dear ones.
 people are watching and listening just like that little cindy lou who.
our lives always speak of our faith-and we have spoken well this year.
let's squeeze our hearts around Christmas
and encourage each other to live his and His legacy.
tight hugs & warm kisses-
mama-chris "who"

dear God.
your son.  his birth.
it is not about the gifts we give each other in honor of Jesus.
but about the gift You give us.
thanks for transforming hearts-mr. grinch's & mine.
me who needs you

Thursday, December 12, 2013

confessions of a 50 year old...

this morning i turned 50.  4:14 AM. before the sun met the horizon, i added another candle to my cake.

a few confessions about life & me.

1.  50 sounds old.  i don't feel old.  when i look in the mirror there is definitely evidence of maturity on my face-in my hair-hugging my thighs, so perhaps this is what 50 looks & feels like.

2.  i took my yoga pants to yoga for the first time yesterday {accompanied by our oldest son-he was a sport}. flexibility is a metaphor for my life.  learning to bend & stretch in ways i didn't think were possible.  holding the tension while remaining steady. breathing deep while time passes & relaxing muscles i was unaware existed.  remaining quiet & calm when the world around me is chanting.  me & my pants, we'll go back.

3.  my parents divorced when i was 18 months old.  my dad was absent from my life all my growing years.  he called me when i was 28.  he was arrogant.  i was not charmed.  he wanted to meet his "little darling".  i refused.  a few years later, he died.  i have never regretted not meeting him.  those reality shows are not everyone's reality.

4.  i lived with pjm before we were married.  yes, like in the "sin" kind of way.  for a long time i felt guilty about that.  with all of his sick, and life & marriage cut short, i am thankful for those extra 11 months we had living our daily lives together.

5.  my mom was a champ at raising us girls on her own, but the kitchen was her battlefield.  hot dogs, bean burritos, frozen fried chicken, fish sticks and mac & cheese were her culinary specialties.  i taught myself how to cook.  i love being in the kitchen and creating.  hosting and serving.  baking and sharing.  and my children share in the joy of the kitchen.

6.  sweet brown eyes was named jeremiah by his birth mom.  in the bible, jeremiah is a prophet, speaking out for God and guiding people to Him.  sweet brown eyes' presence in my life as my son speaks directly into my heart, guiding me to focus on God in the middle of circumstances i have tried to pray away.

7.  i swear.  there is nothing feminine or attractive about it, but i swear anyway.  i keep it "clean" in front of sweet brown eyes, but letting those words roll off my tongue just feels delightful sometimes.  and somedays in the very dark honesty of my heart, fucked feels like the best one work answer to describe all of that sick & loss.

8.  i struggle with God.  i have grown closer to him over these past few years, but i wrestle with wanting to ask why, and expecting prayers to be answered on my timeline and with specific outcomes. and yes, i am so very blessed but that does not make the burden of dementia feel less heavy.  and yes, i have an inner strength beyond what i thought was possible, but i long for my old life with pjm when the load was upon his shoulders, not mine.

and what's your confession?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

my trouble with social media...

sitting in the warmth of my car on the sidelines of a soccer field in the drizzle while sweet brown eyes muddies his new neon cleats, i check emails, instagram and good old facebook.  i have this love-hate relationship with facebook. i am like an addict with two days of clean under her belt, but then in quiet aloneness i misstep and checkout the happenings of my "friends".  and i roll across a friend's status about the challenges of Christmas-all the stress and no joy.  my very first reaction was to comment {publicly} that she has a bounty of joys...including a healthy husband. but that's being a cyber bitch-never attractive. my second thought was to do the old "defriend" thing, but then i remembered i was almost 50, not 15 and this isn't high school.  but i couldn't let the thoughts about all of this go, so i slept on it and here is what i have concluded.

1.  social media allows us to stay connected with one another.  but, it also is this weird arena where snippets of our lives are broadcasted without the backdrop of a few hours ago or the landscape of two days from now.  i have no idea what path she was on yesterday but i stood in judgement.  ugly judgement.  

2.  joy is a choice.  at Christmas and the rest of the year.  it takes effort, work and a lowering of expectations.  i have to intentionally find the blessings in this season of Christmas & rework those areas where the stress & sad want to swallow my joy.  and perfect is never going to happen...ever.  the less i expect from myself & others, the more joy i can unearth because i haven't chosen this unrealistic "hallmark card" to measure up to for the next 20 something days.

3.  letting go of traditions is permitted when they aren't working anymore.  i have been at war mentally over our annual Christmas cards this year.  i hand-make 106 photo Christmas cards every year...for the last 25 years.  i love doing it and selecting the perfect professionally pic of our family.  it isn't happening this year.  if i were going to create a Christmas card that depicted our family this year, it would probably be a blurred shot of all of five of us scrambling eight different directions duct taped to a recycled postcard for a discounted oil change.  no one on my Christmas card list wants our hot-mess family photo, so this year i am placing the crafty card thing on the shelf & will revisit it again next year.  and my heart is comfortable with that.

dear social media.
you are a mysterious beast.
i am driven to check-in too often.
your bits & pieces give me a few words out of someone's complicated book of life.
i draw faulty conclusions & unfavorable judgments.  
undisciplined member

dear friend in holiday struggle.
sorry you are feeling the stress and not the joy.
glad i didn't blast you with a nasty comment.
prayers you can stop-reflect on the "haves" more than the "haven'ts" of Christmas.
sorry of the ugly judge.
wishing you genuine peace & joy.
old friend

dear God.
you-Jesus made it simple.
not easy, but a life of simple.
why do we make it so complicated, especially during Christmas?  
the card & all of the other expectations
  of the season are from me, not You.
i must actively keeping my "eye on the prize" this Christmas-YOU!
my peace comes from knowing You have planned my life,
and will be with me {and pjm} always.
celebrator of your Son.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

thanks{giving} #8...family

age 2:  mom with two little blondies working hard to support herself-my sister-me.  with little college education, a single mom in the 60s was certainly not the norm and daily life was challenging, especially with no help, financial or otherwise, from my father.  but we were a family & this was my first lesson in learning families can do hard things-together.

age 23:  married pjm & his two daughters, ages 7 & 9.  i had no parenting experience except for those high school babysitting jobs, which i love, but was of no help when it came to assisting in the daily life of two young girls struggling to accept the divorce of their parents & learning to travel back and forth between two homes.  but we struggled & learned & loved our way into a family.

age 25 & 28:  our babies arrive.  the first while i am in graduate school.  imperfect timing to a perfect baby girl. she gave us all a commonality, a bond that defined us as a family, sharing the same dad, and me learning the ropes as a mom in the midst of it.  followed by pjm's junior just under three years later.  it felt complete with a boy to finish off our pact.  his two+our two=the remix of an all-american family

age 39:  a desire placed on our hearts' as parents to welcome one sweet brown eyed boy.  he joins our family at the ripe old age of 7 1/2 weeks, never knowing life before us.  at 39, i embraced the new mommy role all over again {sans baby weight to lose!}. he challenged my skill set with by his strong personality & boundless energy.  but he was ours, and the miracle of his journey into our family can still make me teary.  there is some God magic in seeing him navigate life with such ease, boasting about his curly hair and tawny brown skin, knowing we are envious of his handsome charm.  an athletic wonder, entrusted to this mom who lacked confidence & physical ability on the playground & any given sports field growing up.  our clan: a band of blonds with the most handsome of sweet brown.

age almost 50:  two little boys with love-hugs-giggles and beckon me with a "nana" and sweet brown eyes with an "uncle j".  not an ounce of biology shared by the four of us, but so much love connecting us as a multi-generational brood.  it's that love that binds us & defines family.  a step daughter in the midst of losing her amazing dad, continues to honor his love & legacy as a family man by embracing his wife woman and her children, bonding us together as a family who again learns to do hard things.

dear am & scoot.
thanks{giving} for embracing the fact we are separated {again} for thanksgiving.
your grace in our absence is nothing short of praiseworthy.
see you friday eve for our t-town thanksgiving.

dear sweet brown eyes.
not sure where you earned the awesome skills you hone with each visit,
but there are two boys that know uncle j rocks.
making puzzles-powering their race cars-chosing the bottom of the constant boy "dog pile".
reading books-playing popcorn on the trampoline-sharing chocolate milk.
thanks{giving} for love & energy that know no bounds.

dear florida family.
thanks{giving} for hosting us again!
yes, we are down a "player" this year but we tore up the course at the destin track.
the man-date to buddy's in alabama, complete with off road racing & chicken strips for lunch.
you continue to teach me family has nothing to do with biology,
but love-legacy-and honoring a man who was all about family.
nana chris

dear God.
You continue to instruct me on the many ways to make a family.
some conventional & others a deep desire to stay connected in loss.
thanks{giving} for biological children-step children-adopted children.
regardless of how this clan is banded together, we are family.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

thanks{giving} #7...prep work

once upon, a very long time ago there was this 20 something kindergarten teacher who loved those bright eyed children she was trusted with for 3 1/2 hours each weekday.  she wanted to provide an environment where they would learn and grow not just academically, but as little people who would one day do great things.  and because this 20 something was slight neurotic {in fact, she still is neurotic-not twenty something}, she would plan & prep for her teaching week ahead, attempting to predict where glitches would foster frustration & failure, instead of wonder & triumph.

there was oodles, of what teachers call, "prep work" to keep all those busy hands-minds-bodies occupied for those 3 1/2 hours.  i  know it all sounds simple and too thought out, but remember i have a tendency toward compulsive.  i couldn't leave the classroom on fridays until the following week's lessons had been planned & prepped {this was of course assisted by the busy hands of parent volunteers}.

prep work.  pjm wasn't a classroom teacher, but he was a teacher of business-construction-development. he would formulate a mental image of how a parcel of land should look once developed & communicate every detail to an architect who would draw his vision.  he would estimate & calculate the cost of all the materials necessary.  he would secure bids from subcontractors & financing from lenders.  prep work to ensure a project would be completed. "on time & under budget" was his business marta.

prep work.  he was adamant in the late 90's we see an attorney regarding estate planning.  wills written. power of attorneys notarized.  health care directives executed.  all the worst case scenarios and impossible "what ifs" were worked out on paper, so he could have peace of mind knowing it was all taken care of.  if felt like a waste of time & completely premature.  i was only 30 something & he was only in his mid 40's.  his parents were, and still, are alive-active-healthy.  but i also knew i had personality quirks and so just giggled and went along with all his prep work, figuring if it helped his mental well-being, it was worth the time & effort.

dear pjm.
thanks{giving} for all your crazy prep work.
it helps me not come unglued in this part of life.
you spelled out all of your wishes long ago.
it is my job {and honor as your wife}
to be your voice when you no longer have one.
it makes the discussions less scary, as i know exactly how you want to be cared for.
some disagree with me & have even said i am "plain mean".
thanks{giving} you trusted me to be your voice.
promise to respect & grant your wishes...even when others disagree.
love you.
your voice

dear God.
thanks{giving} for guiding pjm long ago to nail down the specifics.
if it were my responsibility, it would have never been done.
i sit on the fence wondering if he knew somehow this was all going to unfold.
he always was good at the "surprise".
or was it You just guiding our steps while we obediently followed?
this is one of the "why" questions i will never know the answer to,
but am deeply thanks{giving} for the prep work.
trusting Your ways,

Monday, November 18, 2013

thanks{giving} #6...saying no to church

sunday mornings are a struggle in this home.  sweet brown eyes wants to go to "that" church.  me wants to stay in the warmth of MY home and hide from all those churchy folks.  but when i guilt myself into going to church {which is ALWAYS where Christ wants my heart}, i go to the "other" church.  the place where we attended and served for years. the place where pjm & i were baptized and the olders attended sunday school and youth group.  in the dark of worship & the light of teaching, it feels like home for my soul. but all the rest of church is a mental free-for-all.

buying that donut on the way to class.  checking sweet brown eyes into sunday school.  walking {alone} in to the sanctuary.  sitting in the general vicinity of where "we" sat.  singing {off key} to God who is mighty-loving-merciful.  soaking in the lesson given by the familiar voice of my pastor. fetching sweet brown eyes. all of that is the struggle & that's why i do "church" alone...at home with my laptop and last week's message.  in my cozy bed wearing flannels.
just me.  bible.  pen.  and God.
somehow, church makes my feel {exceptionally} vulnerable.  closer to God and His ways.  when i feel vulnerable, i {ugly}cry.  i cry ugly because i am lost without him in the chair next to me.  i cry ugly because he is so sick but his body cannot let go.  i cry ugly because i am learning my ways are nothing like His ways.  i cry mercy for God to make it all better {my better, not His}.  i cry for peace & rest in the middle of all of the scary shit going on right here.  right now.

i don't do church well right now.  but i think God knows that.  and i know my faith and our relationship are not based upon my checking off boxes each week to prove i am a following and believing in Him.  no, it was that promise forever ago that i made, and keep making in the dark of this season that says i will trust and follow Him..to the end even if it doesn't lead me into a church every sunday morning.

dear church.
i cannot do you right now.
life is vulnerable for me & when i feel vulnerable, i {ugly}cry.
 and all the tasks it takes for me to be sitting in a chair inside you
is overwhelming because of all that is so familiar, yet i am walking it alone-without pjm.
i thanks{giving} your messages are online.
i am blessed & strengthened by them,
but still am not strong enough to tackle you without him.
MIA member

dear God.
thanks{giving} for your grace.
i need not feel guilty for not visiting "your house" on sunday.
when truly you are here with me in my home. each moment. every day.
watching me in the darkest of night & brightness of days.
love & faithfulness.
dweller in the house of the Lord 

Friday, November 15, 2013

thanksgiving #5...comin' out of the closet

January forced an issue I tried to hide for months...many months.  And my children did the same.  Wanting to hide the facts from me.  PJM put gas in his diesel truck, again. He had to be at a business meeting, so Ams navigated him over the phone via google maps.  His Jr. would take him for rides in the work truck allowing me moments of breathing space.   Our CPA would walk with him while I took sweet brown eyes to soccer on Tuesdays.  But all the covering became smothering for us {perhaps even him}.  The sick was stealing life from our entire family.

Ash Beckham says it so well. We all will experience living in a closet.  Yet, the coming out needs to be done.  Those horrifying and loathsome conversations must be given life.  
hello.  my name is chris.  my husband has dementia.

You see, last December was crazy {perhaps even bat shit crazy...} in our home.  I could no longer manage pjm's behavior, yet did not want to disappoint or admit to others, but most importantly myself, how sick he was.  What would his parents think?  moving their golden son out of the very home he built for me.  What would his children think?  but you promised "till death do us part" mom & now you're say taking care of him is just too hard.  What would our friends think?  he was always eccentric-you might be exaggerating a tad.  What would God think?  you girl of little faith, I can heal him.  And it felt safe sitting in the closet of dementia because if i "came out" it would force hard conversations.  I wasn't built for hard words, especially when I knew they would disappoint others.  And ultimately, how would I knit the words together to explain to pjm that I couldn't manage it all anymore. Our family can't lose me in the middle of losing you.

And, yes, this is a season of challenge for our family in learning to let go of pjm & our dreams.  Dementia is brutal.  A family literally watches their loved one's life dry up before their very eyes leaving a shell of what you once knew.  But our challenge isn't any greater than another's.  The wife who finds her husband sleeping with another woman, the parents who are informed their child is incarcerated, the employee who loses a job due to downsizing, the family who loses from their home due to bankruptcy, the child who receives the denial letter from his top college choice.  Challenge isn't measured on a gauge of varying degrees.  It's more like a switch-its "on" or its "off". It's challenging or it's not.  And if you aren't in the middle of a season of challenge, bask in that!

dear ash.
thanks{giving} to you for being so very brave.
no, my closet was not papered in rainbows,
it was graffitied in words-memories-emotions swirled around in my vita-mix.
it was dark & scary but i was too afraid to open the door.
like the flood gates to hell would bust opened and wash our entire family away if i were to admit.
sitting in the dark of dementia felt more manageable, less uncomfortable.  at least in my head.
but a closet is no place for me to live.
fellow closet dweller

dear ams
you forced me out of the closet.
i cannot imagine your internal conflict between protecting me-dad-sweet brown eyes.
thanks{giving}for your bravery.
#teamamazing...you the one who makes us amazing.
your mama bird

dear God.
thanks{giving} for placing lovies in my life that are the hands & feet of You
speaking the God honest truth into my heart.
thanks{giving} for hard, yet honest, conversations.
You were there, with me in the dark of the closet,
but living & growing can't occur in the dark of my closet.
out-of-the-closet me

dear pjm.
thanks for lining that closet with cedar!
it still rocks.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

one day...

i try to avoid these social media "events" because i place expectations on myself that are totally unreasonable and throw me into a whirl of comparisons which none of us truly needs.  but when Hollywood Housewife {who i love to follow...check her out} posted this last week, i was intrigued.

you see, i know 1,095 days from now the landscape of my average day will be very different than from today. amber & jason will have settled into their own homey little nest with perhaps a baby here or at least on the way, pjm jr. will be working his career path with his college graduation approaching next spring, and sweet brown eyes will be in eighth grade & most likely inches taller than me.  and then there is pjm...and it is just unthinkable he could continue to last another 1,095 days.  so, i will document an average day-just because it's average.  that's what wednesday will bring on my Instagram feed {cminegar}.  care to join me?  i will hashtag all photos for the day with #myonedaypjm as well as #OneDayHH.  what will your hashtag be?  let me know and i will follow along with you.  see y'all tomorrow.

Monday, November 11, 2013

thanks{giving} #4

freedom.  to be have the ability to chose without restraint or coercion.  today we celebrate freedom as a nation.  honoring those who bravely served to maintain the common good of our country.  the dedication & sacrifices veterans and their families have made and continue to make allow me to write my ideas & opinions in this little space, vote & petition for those issues i favor,  attend church & practice my faith, own my home & other personal property, and have a family and ensure my children are granted a free education.  

dear veterans.
you chose me & my family above your own.
a selfless act of bravery which i overlook so often.
thank you for preserving that which i take for granted.
i recognize & am deeply grateful for the sacrifices you make.
american citizen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

thanks{giving} #3

endless hours wandering & sitting.  that's how we spend our time, mostly.  he lacks the verbal skills to carry a conversation so lots of time is just sitting...so i listen to others.  other asks the receptionist when her son is coming to take her home.  other requests a car to escort him to the bank.  other questions why her daughter forget to come and pick her up.  other stares angrily out the door longing for his wife to pick him up in his Hyundai Sonata. other packs a box and brings his belongings to the lobby, announcing to everyone and no one that he has $400 and will give it to the first person to offer to take him home.

dear others,
i am sorry you feel lost and abandon.
your family has placed you here for your safety.
you will not be going home. to the bank. or in your Hyundai Sonata.
your angry is warranted but misguided.
your family has not stolen your freedom.
a disease is ransacking your brain, taking pieces without your awareness.
quiet listener

dear disease-
as you already know, there are a million facets of you i so loath
i am thanks{giving} you stole that part too.
 for erasing pjm's knowledge of home.
when i tell him good-bye and i will see him soon,
he walks off,  {no sadness. no distress}
never questioning why he isn't leaving or when i will be back for him.
his wife

dear God-
others tell me you will never give me more than i can handle.
i disagree.  i don't believe you gave me "this".
like you have a big spinner up there and somehow we landed on the "dementia" square.
i do believe you are full of grace.
i am thanks{giving} "that" piece is gone too.
i do not have the strength to hear those words mumbled from his lips,
"chrissy, take me home with you.  please."

Monday, November 4, 2013

thanks{giving} #2

i went "out" on saturday evening.  i was nervous and at a lost for that perfect outfit.  my hair styled well but my highlights need some love and that's not happening till tuesday.  which perfume should i chose-something soft, not to overwhelming, but like background music, you can sense it & are soothed by it but aren't even sure what "it" is.  sweater or jacket?  the evening crispness begs for a layer of comfort, yet i struggled between function and fashion.

we meet for a casual dinner & wine.  another friend joins.  the conversation is easy, until the music starts, then voices cannot travel thru the thickness of the band.  we move on to another to a bar where the room is full & noisy. not a chair inside so we wander outside with another glass of wine.  sloppy drinkers.  cigar smokers. vape inhalers {what are these devices anyway?}.  we find a spot and sit ourselves next to a young, kindle reading woman.  she acknowledges us wondering why we are out, especially in this bar in this town. we giggle and ask her the same.

that's about the sum of my GNO {girls night out}.  it's only the second time i have ventured out to socialize without at least one of my children since "that" day in january.  

dear friend.
thanks for the invite.
it was daring for me to say yes.
crazy to think that felt like a dare, but it did.
the only disappointment was the lack of cornhole.
i had been practicing my bean bag tossing skills since we marked our calendars.
girl date.
p.s.  i may have painted a prettier picture of "her" than we actually experienced

dear flannel pjs.
thanks for welcoming me home.
i love the big hug you greeted me with.
you are my kind of nightcap to an evening out and about.
love you-
wearer of flannel.

dear pjm.
my night out reminds me how thankful i am for our marriage.
the love-memories-adventure we made is something dementia cannot steal from me.
i have those 26 years locked tight in my heart.
and i have our children, all of them reflecting back pieces of you.
you know, it's monday.  our date day. i'll be the one with the "buckies".
love you & see you in a bit.

Friday, November 1, 2013

thanks{giving} #1

So out there in the blogging world, there are all kinds of "projects".  Kind of like the explorer report sweet brown eyes has due a week from today which is on our weekend "to do" list {and I resent that...hate weekend homework}.  A framework is provided and you {me, the blogger} can chose some prompts & write about them.  For the high achiever {something i have never been accused of}, you can chose to write about every single prompt.  I don't think I have that many words in my petite brain to say something even semi profound or thought provoking everyday.  Not even to myself.

It's November.  Thanksgiving month.  And the blogging community is overflowing with "thanks giving" projects.  It is easy for me to focus on pjm & his disease & our loss.  But that is so gloomy and heavy especially when the eyes of my heart constantly hugs all the yuck.  A few years ago one of my lovies gave me a book called 1000 Gifts {you can check it out here-Ann is an artist with her words}.  After reading the book, I was inspired to count my gifts...daily.  I have this spiral bound notebook & I record three beautiful nuggets I encounter each day.  Holding myself responsible for gift finding forces my heavy heart to seek beauty-love-grace instead of broken-demented-anger.  I just write the date and three quick things I am thankful for.  Yesterday read:  10/31/13.  1. Hot shower after a cold morning run.  2. The smell of bed pillows that soaked up the fresh fall air. 3.  Screaming at the top of my lungs in a haunted house {just to scare the haunters themselves}.

I am also a big notewriter.  Handwritten notes to those who sprinkled some grace & goodness in my day.  I love to pen notes of thanks, alert mailman Bob with that wee red flag while he whisks them off to the post office. Through some government magic my little pocket of thanks ends up in a lovie's mailbox.  This is truly a $.46 miracle to me.

Today I wanted to tell you all thanks.  But I don't know your addresses or even some of your names.  But to my sweet little group of readers, I am grateful.
 dear readers.
thanks for stopping by to read about life & how it breaks sometimes.
your broken probably doesn't look like mine but i have learned everyone has their own piece of pain.
my hope is my words can encourage-inspire you to take that fracture in your life,
and somehow allow it to grow you.  and growing hurts and is awkward and somedays brutally painful.
i am grateful you return even if there are typos and my words are cumbersome.
i am thank filled for each of you.
mama bird

p.s.  what are you thank filled for this november 1st?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

and on a lighter note. meet calvin.

after monday's post of heavy honesty,
thought I'd bring a bit of light to you today.

i am please to introduce you to my dog. Calvin.

yep.  a jack russel.  he's 13 now and a some of his brown has turned to white.  
not sure what the glowy eyes are about.  just a bad photo i suppose.

calvin and i are having a conflict.  an issue.  a battle i refuse to lose {probably because of all "that" other loss & lack of control, right?}.  over the summer he became an ass chewer-not mine, his.  we went to the vet in hopes of ending his obsession with biting himself till he bleeds.  shampoo.  pills.  cream. even a stinkin' blood test.  the gamut.  he STILL insists upon feasting on his ass.  so i had to resort to the dreaded "cone of shame".  you know.  that plastic satellite dish kind of thing stuck around his neck so he can't reach his bottom.  but then it has somehow turned into a battle of wills and he resorted to his next move which was to hide the cone in our backyard.  sweet brown eyes & i searched under every bush, behind every tree but its gone. we cannot find it anywhere.  it felt like this 12 pound pooch had won & of course he was still nibbling at his tailend.  so i upped my game refusing to be beat by a 13 year old dog-that's 91 in human years {how this whole one dog year is equal to seven human years is still one of those scientific concepts i will never fully grasp}.  so yesterday i marched myself back to petsmart & purchased another cone.  here is a clip of him in his new cone.

dear calvin.
i win.  you look foolish with the cone
but the pink does make your eyes "POP".
 that hue has to threaten your masculinity. 
i am going to take you to dog park for a field trip.
all the other male dogs are going to laugh at you & your chomped up ass.
you wiggle your way out of this one,
and i will bedazzle the next one.
just stop gnawing.
let it heal.
your owner.

dear cone{s}.
i have invested $12.38 twice now, not to mention the vet bill.
your sole purpose here on this earth is to stay on my calvin's neck.
if he tries to hide you under a bush or behind the air conditioner, you best yell for help.
do your damn job or i am going to return you.
your owner too!

dear pjm.
remember that first vet visit with calvin & arthur {our 14 year old lab}
 we were told arthur wasn't going to last much longer.
 you then asked the vet how long calvin would live since he was such a small pup.
the vet replied "perhaps 20 years".
to which you loudly replied "20 damn years with this dog-you have to be kidding me"
i would trade the ass chewing canine in a heartbeat to have you back.
love you.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Honesty.  The best policy, right?  Momma taught me that repeatedly.  Gotta be honest Chrissy. Always. Telling the truth is easier than trying to remember a string of lies you made up.  But then I would watch & listen.  There was so much contradiction between how her lips moved and how she navigated her days. Upon closer observation,  the message imprinted deep in my heart was do not displease...especially with your words because words can cut and hurt, leaving behind a scar to remind all of those painful syllables.  Be a sweet girl, a kind girl.  Like cotton candy, sugar and artificial, spun into a beehive placed atop a flimsy paper stick.  But after the carnival treat is gone, there's just a saccharin hangover in your mouth and hollowness in your tummy.  Momma taught me being {word} honest is bulky. Cumbersome.  Heavy. Like a bean+cheese+sour cream+guacamole burrito.  Honest words leave a heaviness and the aftermath typically spawns some nasty bad-ass gas.  Momma rarely swore but she claimed all bodily functions should occur in only the most private of places.  In solitude.  For no others to hear, much less smell.  That's what ladies & sweet girls do Chrissy.  Honest words were like that burrito.  Keep'em to yourself.  When words are hot and bloaty, take them some place very alone and don't dare share them as it just ain't lady like.  Momma said above all, be a lady Chrissy, especially with your words.

I am still learning to be honest.  Truthful.  Candid.  I am schooling myself to not choose my words like I do nectarines-checking to make sure they are soft-not too firm, examining them from every angle to ensure there are no bruises before I place them gentle in a baggie and own them.  My words don't need to please momma.  I realize the "that's sweet" cotton candy words have no depth.  They don't reflect my soul which is full of wit, insight, fear, confusion. Candy words betray my heart trusting God in the midst of having no idea what the hell He is attempting to accomplish in my life.  Syrupy words don't invite others into my soul.  They keep everything surface sweet.

Some visits with pjm are painful.  Hurtful.  Betraying.  He passes me in the hall with not an ounce of recollection after sleeping by my side for 27 years.  His mind becomes bored with me, so he wanders away forgetting I am near.  He walks the halls holding another's hand & kisses her cheek.  While his actions are a reflection of a disease and not of our marriage, they feel like a betrayal in the moments. They swallow me whole like a tidal wave.  I struggle finding my way to the surface.  My lungs burn in need of oxygen, yet I cannot escape the turmoil of the strong waves.  They leave me confused about which direction to swim in order to breathe.

My {honest} words are bulky.  Hot. And leave a bloat in my belly like that burrito because i don't want to feel betrayed by him.  But honestly, some visits rock me to the very core of my soul.  And hurt. And my eyes burn with tears as I seek the quickest way out.

dear honest words.
i know you are inside begging for me to give you life.
sugar sweet isn't good for either of us.
but when i allow you to crack the candy coating,
i am afraid all that spills out will cause a messy aftermath & life is already so damn messy.
be patient with me-like a young girl on roller skates for the first time,
smoothness will only come with practice.  right?
rookie of honesty

dear disease-
i hate what you have done to him-me-us.
you have left pjm so lost in the reality of life. 
he no longer knows his love ones.
somedays i feel you are not just strangling the life out of him, 
but also out of me.
honestly.  i.  hate.  you.
dementia hater

dear God.
i hate the path You continue to ask me to walk.
somedays i doubt Your presence.  it feels like You're MIA in the middle of  "this".
i am not lithe, yet You continue to stretch me in ways that feel impossible. 
 physically. emotionally.  spiritually.
 but i do find freedom in tell You my honest words.
even when they are like nasty bad-ass gas. 
You love me regardless & always. Your Word promises me that. 
truly.  honestly.  bravely-

Thursday, October 24, 2013

the eyes have it...

my boys.  just a few years back on Christmas morning.
{can you believe they would sport matching pjs for me!  they rock...truly.}
pjm...see his casual smile & the way he is looking right into the camera...
as if he can see my very soul behind the lens.
those eyes.  cerulean, like an ocean in the tropics.
 they captivated me so many years ago.
a brief encounter at the entrance of the restrooms at a bar
which abruptly turned to dating-engaging-marrying-parenting &
lovely memory making brimming with adventure
but those "blues" of his were my initial attention grabber.

as our years together grew, i found refuge in those eyes
knowing they would seek me-protect me-love me-honor me.

but then "that" began to happened.
and it's erasing all that lies beneath those eyes of his.
now he sees thru me-past me-or not me at all.

i have a sick yearning to document what "that" continues to steal from us. 
he is literally disappearing before my very eyes,
and i resent the sea of vacancy i see in his.
i can no longer capture his mischief-humor-drive-love for me & life
because somehow a disease has eroded away that deep blue,
leaving depthless blue-grays that have forgotten so much...of me & us.

dear baby blues-
when & where did you wander off to?
i long for you to know without a doubt who i am.
for you to identify me in a room abundant with people.
for you to reassure me when i lack confidence.
for you to stare sternly at sweet brown eyes when his pre-teen sass erupts.
for you to compute & calculate & make financial decisions
but your depth has been replaced with empty, shallow indifference.
your vacantness leaves me blue.
sad over you

dear jpl-
you are a rascal of a boy...just like your gramps.
you {his 5th grandchild} not only own his name but rock those darn baby blues.
thanks for reminding me of life & love in the depth of all the loss.
love you-
nana c 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

running & dementia.

so today, after a 16 month dry spell, amber & i ran a half marathon.
like so many things we agree to do together, one calls or texts the other and says how about this wild idea and the other always agrees.
{expect for that shopping fast she's on-i must keep amazon in business}

and the race we signed up for was seriously 14 minutes from home.
that means we didn't leave home till 6:45 & were tearing up the course at 7:31.

confession:  i have a furious competitive streak when it comes to running.
not against the other crazies running ahead of me but against myself.
i want every race to be a "personal record", 
and define myself as a runner based on my finishing time.
i know it sounds lame, but i am just being a teensy vulnerable.

today was purposely different.
i had made a decision when am & i signed up.
she has walked this "demented" path with me since moving pjm {actually before that}.
i promised myself to run this 13.1 miles with her & to hang the "PR" thang on the self-absorbed shelf.
pre race glam shot...notice those hot air balloons in the background?
wine & balloons.  that's what our town in known for.
sitting on the couch with sore legs & a bloated tummy from bad "post-race" breakfast choice,
i have learned running a half-marathon & dementia have parallels.

half-marathons & dementia are best with a lovie at your side.
half-marathons {especially in our small town} & dementia have lots of twists, turns and paths that few other people will traveled.
{we were on dirt roads at least 75% of the time}
half-marathons & dementia have peaks making you questions your strength to reach the top
& downhills so steep you fear you will lose your footing.
half-marathons & dementia feel exhausting,
but there are friends cheering you on confident you can finish.

dear ams.
thanks for another #teamamazing event today.
i loved running at your side & finishing with you at mine.
mostly though,
thanks for teaching me it is comforting to travel the hard paths of life with a lovie, 
reminding me we can do hard things...together.
and the art of the "selfie".  don't we look good running?
 what the hell are you trying to catch in that gullet of yours?
dad would often tell me to "stop & smell the roses" when i pushed workouts.
while it wasn't "roses" we stopped for,
spartacus was the course highlight.
doesn't he look like he's smiling-i think YES!
probably because he took a dumper doodle just before the photo.

yep, this adult just called horse shit "dumper doodle".
love & thanks ams for teaching me to live-love-finish hard things together,
especially when it means placing self absorbed on the shelf.
hope your ass is as half as sore as mine.
see you at the gym in the AM.
mama "sore legs" bird

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

dear sweet brown eyes...

it someone's birthday today! yep, sweet brown eyes has two handfuls plus an extra to make him 11.
in what feels like a blur. we have gone from this-a few days after we met for that very first time,
 to this...a boy, quickly changing into a man, who is just a mere few inches shorter than me
{i am wearing heels in this shot & that's my other sweet son on the left}

dear sweet brown eyes-
thanks for teaching me to seek joy in the middle of pain.
your eagerness for life each morning is stinkin' contagious.
that morning latte is an essential to staying up with you.
you remind me there is a God & that He has all of "this" figured out.
not only have you grown me as a parent but as a person.
people often told daddy & me, we were saving you-changing your life forever.
you, son, are what is saving me in the middle of dementia.
you bring out that care-free girl who i buried in the back of my closet under the jeans that are too tight.
 belly laughs, wild & out-of-rhythm public dancing, eating popcorn in bed while watching duck dynasty.
you have taught me to push aside that uptight grown-up self that says "no",
no to giggling in church, no to extra dessert, no to swimming in the dark of summer nights
you remind me to delight in life...often.
happy birthday & thanks for calling my mom.
love you to the moon & back.
mama bird

dear lenesha-
though we have never met,
thanks for trusting me with your precious sweet brown eyed babe.
you chose to carry him & then bravely let go.
i pray you know how loved he is & what a blessing you have given me
especially in the middle of "this".
he is strong-humble-honest
& he looks just like you-long limbed, slender, flawless chestnut skin.
happy birth day.
grateful to the moon & back for trusting us with him.
beholden mama bird

dear God.
i appreciate you for having all "this" worked out.
there are days when i fret & fester over how it's all going to unfold.
but then i hear his raspy voice askin' for an oreo shake.
i am reminded of matthew 18:3 where you say
"unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven"
dementia & all its complications could suffocate my soul.
sweet brown eyes has changed me.
he reminds me to delight in the simple childlike ways of life-to be a joy seeker in the middle of sick.
to live deeply in the present immediacy of life & not in the what ifs of tomorrow.
thanks for loving me to the moon & back.
childlike mama bird

Monday, September 30, 2013

happy birthday pjm...

today he turns 61.  my heart wants to be all sappy and emotional about celebrating his birthday but he just never operated like that.  in fact, this past week i was thinking of the hilarious, and at times pompous, words he would assert and it makes me giggle at who he was.  please note: he probably did not concoct any of these lines himself, but most likely stole them from a movie or comedian or bathroom stall and added his own cocky twist.

1.  Exercise won't make you live longer-it just makes your life feel a hell of a lot longer..often said in the middle of running or riding bikes together.
2.  Don't want to hear about the labor pains, just show me the baby...he was not a man who reveled in minutiae & this line was often directed at employees dishing excuses about why a task wasn't handled the way the boss {pjm} wanted.
3. Stop circling the airport and land the damn plane already...often said to me when i was retelling a story.  he just wants a recap, not all the beautiful details.
4.  I'll blow that bridge up before we get to it...when anyone expressed concern regarding "what ifs".
5.  Go for the hole {or is it whole?} shot...when he was driving and would beat someone off the starting line of the intersection when the light turned green.  Life was about finishing first-almost always
6.  If you don't look me in the eyes when we cheers, it doesn't count.
7.  Your job is to make sure the ice cubes never touch the bottom of my glass...to a waitress regarding his drink.  Note:  he wasn't much of a drinker but had a season of being an arrogant ass.
8.  Few things are accomplished without an awkward conversation...both at work and home.
9.  You gotta spend some money in order to make money...his business strategy.
10.  You cut-I choose...when we were sharing something to eat.
11.  I wish I had his __________ {fill in the blank with Porsche or golf swing or tractor-any item that men esteem} and he had a feather up his ass, then we'd both be tickled.
12.  When you get married the first baby can take 3 months or 3 years to arrive.  It's the second one that takes 9 month.
13.  99% of whatever you worry about, is never going to happen so stop worrying...gee, pjm.  never had dementia on my radar.  how about you?  talking about being bit in the ass by the 1%
14.  If you run into three assholes in one day, you will definitely see a fourth one when you look in the mirror...no explanation necessary and applicable to most scenarios in life.

and last...blow out those damn candles before you burn the house down!

dear pjm.
happy 61.
miss your arrogant ass.
all my love.
lc {for "little chris"-he called me that}
here we are in all our glory...he stole amber's matching glasses.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

growing wings...

i'm kissing summer good-bye & praying the crisp cool of autumn is soon upon us so i can reacquaint myself to my jeans & scarves and unaquaint myself with my good ole air conditioner.  but i realize the official farewell to summer means i must embrace a new season.  one rich with traditions & celebrations-birthdays {his-his daughters-mine}, holidays {from our annual halloween bash-florida turkey fry-his family's annual christmas gathering-the making of gingerbread shacks & homemade tamales which are all abruptly followed by our 27th wedding anniversary}.  i want to hide-retreat-cocoon from all that reminds me that life is moving on & yet i am not because i am stranded somewhere between life and death with pjm.  it feels like i am a victim of my own midlife crisis-about to turn 50 in a season of impending change.

waiting.  while God transforms.  just as a caterpillar is blanketed in a protective cocoon while it reconstructs itself into a butterfly,  i am enveloped in this season of transformation.  growing my soul cannot happen swiftly or without pain in the dark of night.  i resent God for not accomplishing His task in me & pjm double-quick. our culture demands it fast-trains traveling like supersonic bullets, glue adhering immediately, nail polish drying instantly, espresso providing a quick-fire afternoon pick-me-up, and fast meals served out of a window into our autos.  God works at His pace. many in the bible were stuck in seasons of waiting, and it is in the wait that God's deepest soul growing occurs.  my heart flows with contempt admitting this.  it forces me to realize there is more growing for me to accomplish.  like damn it God.  am i not a big enough girl already?  but if i have to ask, the answer begets itself...obviously, no. there is deeper soul growing He needs to complete in my impatient ass.

while that caterpillar is within that cocoon, it turns to liquid and then somehow gels itself in to a stunning butterfly. imagine popping open that chrysalis & liquidy caterbutterpillarfly dripping out.  a halt in nature-not allowing what was purposely started to reach its full potential.  i, too, am swathed in an envelope of protection while God does his transforming work in me.  every cell in my body wants to bust open that silky cocoon and announce this girl is DONE already, but instead i must find a pause-moment of still and refocus my trust back on God and his perfect timing.  science says the ugliest of cocoons, reveal the most beautiful of butterflies.  this cocoon of dementia & death are pretty damn ugly.

dear cocoon.
i appreciate your protection during this transformation.
i love that i can meander through life,
instead of being hung in a silk bag by my feet from the branch of a tree.
i am thrilled your invisible silk pouch is one of great strength,
containing this wild-hearted, impatient-assed girl.
i would hate to slash you with my restlessness
 and ooze out drippy wife of demented dying man all over my carpet.

butterfly in the making

p.s.  moths come from cocoons too.  
please don't let me spend the balance of my life swarming around a stranger's porch light.
do these wings make my impatient ass look big-or perhaps it's because of the white shorts after labor day?
actually-who the hell cares.  not i said the butterfly.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

what i learned from a roller coaster...

no school.  what's a mom & son to do on a friday in september.  go to disneyland? that sweet brown eyed boy thinks disneyland is for the faint of heart, and his heart seeks that which produces adrenaline.  knotts berry farm it was.  all day, yesterday.  one adrenaline rush followed by another and another.

this is his favorite...its called "xcelerator" because it accelerates from 0 to 82 mph in just a few seconds.  the ascend is 200 feet with a twist and 205 foot drop straight toward earth.

i was never much of a thrill rider.  as a child i would stare up at the twists of metal & cables competent disaster would strike the moment my chubby ten year old body was harnessed in. with each subsequent visit to an amusement park, i would feed that veracious fear monger.  then i became an adult, and that vendor of terror became bolder and audacious convincing me i would most likely die {or at least snap my neck}.  so i would spectate, never participating in the smallest dose of that adrenaline.  

lessons about living, and being brave, and doing really hard things have become the new normal for our family. yesterday sweet brown eyes & me...we rode that track of pink & green metal together.  his eyes dancing with excitement.  my small & still with incessant fear.  

dear xcelerator.
glad you were only a 30 second wonder.
but you taught me so much about overcoming in those few moments.
 the line is worse than the ride.
kind of like waiting is harder than the actual doing of life.
you allowed me to scream louder than i believed humanly possible.
it was the perfect storm of panic & exhalation of air from my windpipes.
having sweet brown eyes buckled in next to me
reminds me there are lovies traveling thru life with me always.
and that monster of angst i nurtured all these years,
i left him sitting on your platform.
thanks for teaching me i can live wholeheartedly-bravely-all while still deathly afraid.
rider at 11:34 am yesterday.

p.s.  could you please stop snapping those photos of all the riders.  totally unflattering.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

i think i just heard you say pantie liners

so remember a few months back when there was a "test" of the fire alarms?

try this story on for size...me & pjm had just finished lunch in the dining room {pjm eats and i observe and chat...never do i eat there.  it is utterly unappetizing.  kind of like witnessing a collision between a food truck & a frat house.  i digress.} we were casually strolling down the hallway when a usually bubbly resident {let's call her muriel} comes marching around the corner about as angry as a raging bull with his testicles tied up in a flank strap.

i so kindly ask:  gosh muriel, what's wrong?

muriel retorts:  an intruder has burglarized my room and something most valuable is missing!  i want it returned now or i will be moving out of this place.

i so kindly respond:  it is very frustrating when something precious is missing and i bet the staff at the front can help you locate it.  {so logical & helpful of me, right?}

muriel declares while point at pjm who is unaware of her and her rant and is instead busy loading and unloading himself in and out of his bedroom slippers:  he is the thief who has stolen my valuables!

i so kindly reply:  why muriel, that's impossible because pjm and i have been together all morning and i know he never went in any room but his own. i seriously have been with him for the last three hours. he took nothing of yours.  promise.

muriel shouts:  well someone has stolen all of my pantie liners and i am going to find out who or i am leaving-moving out of here.

i so big-eyed and broad-smiled giggle:  why yes muriel, that's is truly an issue.  i have not seen any pantie liners but lets find someone that can help you with this.

dear muriel.
you have left me with so many unanswered questions.
what brand were they?  lightdays-kotex-carefree or just plain old generic liners.
were they the kind with wings or without?
and most importantly why, when you are pressing almost 80, do you even need pantie liners?
auntie flo is not swinging by your parts of the woods regularly? is she-please say no.
wait.  can i retract that question?  i have just crossed over the line.
i am not honestly ready to know about 80 year-olds & their need for pantie liners.

investigative team member

p.s.  this is not muriel OR her pantie liners.  just some random pic from google images.
how do you think this curious boy wrapped that one around his penis?  or more importantly-took it off!
and for those of you that don't know...
these are lightdays brand {see the box behind him-by his right heel}
and they don't have wings.