Thursday, November 28, 2013


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" 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 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. 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 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?