I am trying to get back out and enjoy life like I did before COVID. After a year off from most social interaction I was excited to go and do things again, even simple errands were more attractive now. There’s a change that has happened and you can feel it in the air.
I’m talking about hostility. I have encountered so many people who are so upset about the smallest of things, whether it be road rage, or some slight they think another has given them, to hateful attitudes towards service workers. Now I realize these people have been with us all along, but this is different. This isn’t just a once a year encounter, this is a daily event. Did we stay inside so long that we have completely forgotten how to treat our fellow man? Have we suffered such enormous set backs from COVID that we are just angry all of the time?
I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s definitely different and you can feel it in the air around you.
Now I’ve blogged about this once before ( see blog “I’m an old lady too” February 2021). Teaching an old dog new tricks is code for they won’t change their way of doing anything. Now it’s not new tricks that I would like others to learn as stated in my previous blog post, but rather old tricks that I would like to lose. I have so many that it almost seems like a challenge with little possibility of a good outcome. My list includes:
*Stop worrying about how I spend my time. It’s my time and I need to forgive myself for not doing something every minute of everyday.
*It doesn’t have to be perfect. This one is a little hard for me to do as I have always been the fixer and doer of my family.
*Stop thinking about the next five things you need to do. I use to make list of everything that needed to be done and every errand that needed running. I rarely finished the list in one day but I worked myself to death trying to reach the end of the list.
*Stop comparing your life and yourself to others- this one came as I aged – I just cared less about it.
This is the list I care about now……..
Listen more, talk less
Live everyday like it’s my last ( very hard to do grocery shopping, cleaning house, and doing laundry )
Try something new every week ( easy enough, as long as you don’t set the bar too high in what you learn). The learning is the most important part.
I don’t really think any of this has to do with old dogs (age) or new tricks (anything that is different from what you do now). I think I am more self aware of is what is needed to make my life mine.
I know it may seem odd since my business is cemetery decorations but I like the idea of green burial. It’s more than just the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in a word-simple. I think it’s important to have one final decision in life and that is how your death or life will be celebrated. Now this is not a simple choice if you have a child that has proceeded you in death, a husband, a sibling, a partner. I had to make choices for my family members without knowing exactly what they wanted. I tried to make decisions that were appropriate, respectful, and loving but those were choices I made for them, and it was a long time before I forgave myself for something I had no control over. My parents, and siblings have been gone for over 25 years and the pain doesn’t flood me as it once did. The deaths just came suddenly but not surprisingly. I lost my mother, younger brother, and father all within 9 months. I had already buried my stepfather and my oldest brother, and my middle brother would follow in just a few years. I was afraid, afraid to talk to them about death even though most of them were inevitable, but it was so much simpler to just put it away in the back of my mind. What I wasn’t prepared for is I would be the only decision maker, the only one left to make those choices.
The weather has been warmer and my walks have been longer. I live in a neighborhood that has parks, sidewalks, and friendly neighbors. I ran into a neighbor that I heard had lost his wife in 2020 , but I had not had the chance to tell him personally how sorry I was. His booming voice called me over and I told him how sorry I was to hear of his wife’s passing. He and his wife would walk in good weather even after hip and knee replacements. His voice started to break as he talked about her. My heart broke as I listened. He explained that the “virus took her”. I finished my walk and began to think about everything he had said. This couple was not young but they took good care of each other. They got their flu shots, pneumonia shots, and went to the doctor annually. I thought even beyond his loss and about the total loss of life to COVID. To date 500,000.00 people have died of COVID in the United States. If you consider for one moment that each life lost affects 10 other people spiritually, emotionally, and financially then that total comes to 5 Million. Five million + souls walking around in 2020 trying to understand what happened. Be kind people, it was a very hard year.
If you have lost of loved one whether it be years ago or as recent as this past year then you know how difficult the holidays are. You might even have some well meaning person to remind you of how hard holidays are without a loved one , as if you didn’t understand.
I lost many loved ones on special or holidays, New Years Eve-brother, Christmastime- brother, stepfather- my wedding anniversary, 4th of July- mother, my birthday- brother. Although this is an unusual amount of loved ones to lose by the age of 40 , it is also an odd number of celebrations to loose loved ones on. I decided i needed to embrace these holidays which is how my business FloralMemorials came about. My husband was a contractor and often had wooden stakes and the idea came to me to paint and decorate them so I could have something to decorate the graves for any holiday or celebration. This need to celebrate has been an amazing experience for me and one that I am most grateful for.
Those deaths have been 20-30 years ago and I have found that those days in between holidays have brought me the most comfort, understanding, clarity, and peace. Every single day a thought drifts through my mind or I drive by a part of town that sparks my memory but always with a smile and no longer with a tear or lump in my throat. Those days in between are just as important if not more than the few holidays we share. Own those days they can’t be given back to you and they are amazing.
Cemetery names are often the same as the small town the cemetery is near. Often cemeteries will have religious or saint names. Some make reference to water or flowers such Riverside or Rose Hill. Greenwood and Evergreen are very popular names for cemeteries. You would be hard pressed NOT to find an Evergreen or Greenwood Cemetery in every state of the United States.
These pictures are of one such Greenwood Cemetery. The difference is this Cemetery is on Madeline Island, Wisconsin. The Island is on Lake Superior and is beautiful. The Island has a population of 300 – 1500 depending on the time of year. I spotted this cemetery ( the only one on the island ) and wanted to take a look. I might have missed it if it had not been for the iron fence entrance. I did not enter any further than the gate which was open and welcoming, it just didn’t seem right to disturb such a small peaceful place and moment.
When I moved into my apartment a few years ago I picked my childhood neighborhood. Maybe I was being nostalgic or maybe I just felt a comfort come over me when I first saw the duplex apartment. The House was old , like all the others, it had the original woodwork, leaded windows, and hardwood floors. As weeks went by I worked up the nerve to knock on a neighbors door. Now this neighbor was a lifelong friend of my moms but my mom died over 15 years ago and I wasn’t sure if she still lived in the home or if she was still alive. I knock nervously on her door it flew open and a smiling woman hugged me and said, “Missy!”. Not only did she recognize me but was happy to see me.
That started a friendship that would grow over the next 3 years. She ask me to come back after that first reunion and it became a daily ritual. At first we would just catch up on each other’s lives. Then it became stories about my family that I had never heard. She was an amazing story teller. She was also a great listener and I needed one. She always had a smile on her face and never complained. She never judged anything I said or did. I would walk her dog with mine and sometimes we would share a quick meal together at her house. I would ask her if she needed anything and sometimes she did. Somewhere in the very back of my head I knew that this would not last forever but I didn’t care. Just having her friendship and love was all that mattered. I knew how old she was but she didn’t seem old to me. She was always wanting to learn something new and her mind was so open that age was not present in our friendship.
my friend died a few weeks ago and the pain in my heart is the lost friendship. Her children held a celebration of her life and it was just as special and unique as she was. I could have not taken the time to reunite and create this friendship but the pain I’m feeling now is worth the love I received from her. She touched my life and I have grown.
I constantly see on FB – Instagram -Twitter post about be kind to everyone because you don’t know their story. In other words you don’t know how they have suffered, or are suffering now in their lives. What pain they have had to endure. What horrors they have seen. When I see these post I think to myself that in a perfect world we would all be kind and we would always think about others first. Unfortunately, pain and suffering are a human conditions which at some point touches all of us in some way.
The reason I even mention human suffering is because I was watching the Investigate channel on TV and they have a new show called Shattered and it’s a little different than a lot of the shows on that channel. Now watching this channel in large doses (in my opinion) can be damaging to your psychological and spiritual well being. This show drew me in.
Shattered , like all of the other shows on that channel, deal with one horrific crime. What makes this one different is it tells a story of what happened through the eyes of three different people. Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. We don’t know everyone’s story and even when we do know their story , or we are a part of their story, we can suffer from tunnel vision. We see what we want to see, another human condition. We can’t possibly know or even care about everyone’s story. What we can do is listen when ask, smile when needed, and take deep deep breaths when your just not sure what their story is.
I believe that the majority of humans are good not bad.
The majority of the good are going to have bad days, I do.
Once I realized that what I wanted was not the "norm" for people my age, and that I really no longer cared what anybody thought, I found my perfect little place to rent. Yes, I said rent. I had owned homes as I noted in the first part of this story and that was what I needed then but not really what I needed now. My children have grown and they all have homes which I enjoy going to. It was time to let go.
I let go of the control of family gatherings. I enjoy having them at my children's home. It nice to watch them grow as families and start their own traditions. I let go of stuff. How many of one item does any human being need? The holiday decorations were the first to go. I saved only the items that had meaning to me and gave the rest to the kids to sort before donation. All the the childhood memories I kept in boxes I gave to each of my kids to sort through on their own. My job as the memory keeper was finished. I was never one to hold on to a lot of clothing but it needed some trimming too. The next items to evaluate were " family heirlooms". I have a few things that are special to me but the ones that weren't I gave an option to my kids and if they didn't want them they were donated. I use my mother's China EVERYDAY instead of waiting for 3 times a year. The kitchen was last and easiest for me. One of everything with the exception of baking pans and casserole dishes. I also use the silverware given to me by my mother EVERYDAY. I set up my workroom in the loft of my apt and I only have one bedroom.
What? Is she crazy? Doesn't she want to pass down things generation to generation? Why is my answer. Unless you are leaving land ( which their not making any more of ) I don't see any reason. It's just STUFF. I lost all my family- mother, father, brothers by the time I was 45. People are important, stuff is just stuff. People who have a enormous amounts of it seem to be doing one or more of the following:
A) always looking for it B) worried about others taking it C) cleaning it D) wanting more
You get the idea. Oh and one more thing- I hate to break it to you but your kids don't want your stuff. It may be painful to accept but if your heirlooms have meaning to you then enjoy them everyday. Talk to your kids about your stuff. If they like something then why not give it to them now instead of waiting until your death? When people are grieving is not the best time for them to divide items among them. Feelings are raw and emotions are high and you expect your children to sit down and rationally sort through everyone of your items? I think we can all remember a family we know that this did not work for following the death of a parent, uncle, grandparent, etc.
I found it freeing. Freeing of my time, worry, emotion. I found it to be a very peaceful to purge. Just a thought………