Trying to Grieve

Whew, this is a toughie. Daddy died March 7,2016, and I know how you all have followed our journey. He was such an amazing man, and a great father(despite minor glitches, like most dads). But for me, he was my world in these last years. The reason I got up in the morning, the reason I stayed up all night. He was my dearest friend, after we lost Mom, and he was my child in so many ways.

It all comes full circle, first I am a child, they wipe my dirty nose, dirty butt. They watch me grow and change into some sort of adult, full of foibles, full of flaws. But also full of amazing acts of genius, and supreme acts of love. Sure, there is anger, and dysfunction, but the parents learn to accept, to forgive, and to love unconditionally.

Then, almost imperceptibly the roles change. The forgetful Mom, the Dad with a hitch in his step. The Child picks up the slack, a little extra help here, a mental nudge there. Then just as if it is a life running backwards, the needs grow, and the caregiving roles become more and more diverse. Take the folks to doctors, look closely to see if the take their meds. help them navigate with a cane, walker, wheelchair-just like they taught us to crawl, hold onto tables and then finally stand and walk.

I led my Daddy back to his childhood, back through his memories. I tried desperately to keep his dignity safe from pokers and prodders, from nurses shouting in his face and grabbing at injured hands. From nakedness in freezing hospital rooms, holding his water, feeding him jello. Making them listen when “MY DAD NEEDS SOMETHING FOR PAIN!!!”Just like he did for me, a 2 year old in an emergency room 50 years before.

But I want to shut those memories away now, the one’s of his suffering, the one’s of his dying in my arms, just the 2 of us here. And the memories of the big silence that seemed to fall over the house the second his last breath escaped. My Daddy, my dear friend, dear father, it is so hard to say goodbye.

I know like a fire burning deep inside that this is not the end of our togetherness. No.

You are sleeping a dreamless sleep, the kind you always wanted, when your mind would not let you rest. You are experiencing no pain, no turmoil or fear, no loneliness. You are in the safest place in the Universe, the Memory of our God, Jehovah. You are sleeping there and so is Mommy.

So are all our loved ones who have died. Jehovah, the God of Eternity is keeping all your hopes and dreams, loves and desires safe, as well as every aspect of what makes you you. And I thank Him for this knowledge, that He so freely gives in the pages of the Bible.

Mostly though, especially during this day, when 2016 years ago He let his perfect, only begotten Son, Jesus Christ lay in a tomb, tasting death for every man. Jesus had been tortured and murdered as a common criminal, nailed to a stake and left to die, he had been spat upon, laughed at, beaten and suffered at the hands of his enemies. And his heavenly Father, Jehovah, let this happen.

Why?

So that all of us, all of mankind, whether good or bad, can be forgiven of all their sins. So that all of us, all mankind, can have a chance at everlasting life. That all of us, all mankind, can join together as a family under Jesus Christ rule as King of God’s Kingdom.

Tomorrow will be the day 2016 years ago, when Jesus was resurrected, and that act, my friends, that wonderful act God performed all those years ago, is proof positive that Jehovah can and will resurrected our loved ones who have died.

To me, this is what will help me grieve, moving past the sadness of my father’s death. Because by Jesus death, all will be made alive!!

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Grief and Bipolar Disorder

Let me start this blog off by saying that I am not a health care professional, nor am I licensed in any form of mental health capacity. All I am is a person in pain, having lost a dear loved one, and who also happens to suffer from Bipolar Disorder.

So, in a sense, that makes me an expert of sorts. I say that in a lighthearted way, coming from a heart that is anything but light. Ever since Daddy died I have been running in circles, like a dog chasing it’s tail. Somehow, I am dealing with each necessary task: the funeral, the cremation, the memorial, filing for assistance for myself since Dad supported me in my disability, cleaning up all the evidence of his sickness and dying that were left here in the house. It feels like being in the center of a hurricane.

Knowing that I will soon be back in the raging storm, only this time I will be alone.

In my manic state right now, I cannot sleep, cannot rest. I either forget to eat, or I eat the wrong things in the wrong quantities. I baked a cake and cupcakes last night at 11:45, then ate 3 cupcakes before lying down. No wonder I did not sleep, right?

I keep getting up, in a half asleep stupor, thinking I have to check on him. Then I wake up sitting at my computer at 4 in the morning, all crooked and stuck like a pretzel. Once the other day I fell asleep on my face with my glasses on, and they had embedded themselves into my head. Not a nice way to awaken.

But the endless cleaning, and going from room to room carrying the strangest things, and the inability to breathe normally are also very disconcerting. I have the feeling of impending doom, the one I had for years in active addiction, the feeling that came back when Mom died in 2010, the feeling that follows me like a shadow. It keeps telling me that I am all alone now, that there is no one to love me, or hold me anymore.

It is a terrible, sad feeling, and my head knows it is not real. God loves me, and will NEVER forsake me. I am in a cloud of witnesses, all loving Jehovah, and He has tight hold of my hand. So-leave me alone, terrible darkness! Stay at bay, awful sadness!

Please God, help me have soundness of mind, help me to have a quiet heart, a hopeful spirit, and faith sure and strong!! I know that you hear me, in the name of Jesus.

I am loved, and I am safe. I will never walk alone!

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Loving Too Much?

I have been my Dad’s Primary Caregiver for over six years now, and I was Mom’s before that as she battled and succumbed to colo/rectal cancer. It has been a long road, hard yes, but also full of love and tender moments that I treasure.

Dad has been relatively pain free all his life, always proud of his fine health and “dancer’s body”. He says this in a swaggering tone, referring to days long, long ago when he Tap Danced in department store windows and on street corners. Probably around 1936-39. he also has battled worsening Alzheimer’s and Dementia, which is severe now. But , like I said, no real pain except minor aches from time to time.

Fast forward to today. He has declined so rapidly in the past few months, not eating, not getting out of bed, sleeping all the time or staring out in space. Worst of all , though, is this pain. Dad is suffering, and now I fear he will be taken away from me. If that is what has to happen for him to get relief, then I have to do that for him.

It is his hands that hurt him so bad now, and after a doctor visit, xrays and a trip to the emergency room yesterday, he is said to probably have cancer that has metastisized to his bones. The problem is his insurance now.

He has been waiting since the 4th to get the referral he needs from his Primary care Doctor. An 88 year old Veteran who can’t get a simple referral to an oncologist? I am about to get fiesty with the Doctor. I used to be a violent person before God changed me to a peace lover. But when my Daddy is threatened I am like a mother Grizzly.

I hope none of you have to live through these issues in your own life. If you do, try to squeeze every good, kind, loving remembrance out of each moment with your loved one. Even when the are hurting and cranky, even when they don’t recognize you or seem to like you at all- keep squeezing. It is God’s foremost attribute, and when we aspire to love and care for those who are our own He showers His Love down on us. It covers a lifetime of Guilt and broken dreams.

I love you Daddy, even when you don’t know it.

 

Working Again!

A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives.
A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives.
A green sea turtle swims past a school of Raccoon Butterflyfish near Hawaii.
A green sea turtle swims past a school of Raccoon Butterflyfish near Hawaii.
A cascading waterfall, flanked by flowers.
A cascading waterfall, flanked by flowers.I did not take these photos, they are in the public domain.

Ahh! I am an active creative force, taking the images in my mind and painting them on canvas, writing them on paper, sharing these thoughts and images with the human family. It is so cathartic, so freeing. All the pain rushing out of me-all the light rushing in.

I love my life today-I feel alive today- even the pain of my physical body does not shut off the colors flowing out of my fingertips!

I am working on a couple paintings for my next show, it is a group show about Water. We have rivers here, beautiful lagoons and estuaries full of wildlife that is crying out for help. Our local politicians are finally interested because the sick rivers are giving the tourism industry a black eye, and a light is finally shining on this area’s darkest secrets: Pollution and sewage being dumped into the water by Big Sugar, by Cattle Ranches, by people cheating on their permits and laws regarding dumping.

So this show is about the artist’s interpretation of a body of water, the ocean, a river, a pond, and the surrounding area. The works have to have water in them.

This is a subject close to my heart, my love of God’s magnificent creation makes it very painful to see the ruination of our planet. To me it as as if the St. Lucie River cries out in it’s pain. I live a stone’s throw from the river, I can walk to the marina  and I hear the motor boats and jet skis when they go by. The beautiful variety of water birds and wildlife who call the river home come through my yard every day. Hawks, Eagles, Caracara, Sandhill Cranes, Herons, Egret, Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Bobcat, Gopher Tortise, River Otters, Racoon, Opossum, Alligator, Wild Boar, the list goes on and on… And Oh! the fish! Fish that we now cant eat, green algae poisons the river and suffocates the aquatic life, stealing the oxygen out of their water.

I am very motivated and inspired by this subject matter, and I will share my work with you soon.

Remember to care for our garden Planet, this Beautiful Home Jehovah gave us.

Thanks!

How Do I Do? a poem of sorts

I am totally mixed up- headed for a crash

all I have created- right into the trash.

where will I be when the smoke clears?

who will I be when the time nears?

I hear voices all the time now’

can no longer recall which one is mine,

I mean to call or drop a line now,

but I’m tied up all the time.

tied up, mixed up, mixed nuts, fixed up

tied down, home bound, not found

under ground.

is this what happens when the party ends?

the high, high rises,

the good, good friends?

see all the bottles, empty and broken

just like myself, the one i put hope in…

shall i sneak away, slink around?

put all the colors away for a year-

maybe two…

or should I Shout-Carry Out!

Do All I know I can do!!

yes ma’am-that’s me!

the New-How-Do-You-Do-Sue!!

Keeping the Inspiration Alive!

I hope this lasts. This feeling that I really CAN be the artist I have always wanted to be, alive with ideas and creativity! That’s the trouble with being Bipolar-I must not think about this wonderful feeling leaving me again. It is like being in a dark room for 10 years, solitary confinement, and then suddenly the door is flung open and the light streams into your blinded, blinking eyes.

You walk out of that cell, stumble out, and the stench of decay and motionlessness sloughs off like an overcoat-the sunlight bathing you,cleansing your darkest recesses.

“Breath!! Breath!!”

“Feel!”

“Drink in the Air, the Sights, the Sounds!!”

Someone hands you a cold drink of water, fresh, right out of a mountain stream, and as you swallow your eyes clear to take in the cornflower sky, over a carpet of emeralds!

This is what it feels like to have my vision back, my imagination, my art. Like a huge boulder, like the Rock of Gibraltar, has rolled off of my hands! Give me the paints, the brushes…modeling clay…charcoal pencils…canvas…paper!!!

There is not enough time in a day, and my fitful sleep is filled with images and ideas.

Please, God, let this last, I beg you! Please don’t throw me back in that dungeon!

My mind must slow down or I will crash and burn, a doubt will intrude, and back I will scurry. Down the rabbit hole.

————————————————————————————————————-

NO!!!!

Not this time.

I am out.

without a doubt.

sing and shout!

I will lie down now, and dream about painting the Sistine Chapel, after all-I was born on the same day of the year as Michaelangelo. KIKO - WIN_20150510_150549

the dustbowl.

It is very dry here in South Florida. I mean popcorn-fart dry. I do not enjoy these droughts we have, I am sure no one else does. I find it particularly painful to watch all the foliage crisping up while I sprinkle my whole Social Security check’s worth of water onto it. In futility, like a dog chasing it’s tail.

I save what I can, moving the plants who still have a chance into shady areas, and setting up areas close to the water hose where I can set the most fragile ones, to be watered daily. We have a very large lot for this area, I like to see the astonishment on my friend’s faces when I show them my backyard garden with the most enormous oak they have ever seen. And my most beautiful gardens. Actually it is God’s garden, I just tend it.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with a Master Gardener in a Paradise called Sailfish Point on the very southernmost tip of Hutchinson Island. His name was Lynn, and he knew the nuts and bolts of every plant that grows here. How to grow it, feed it, water and prune it, until it gives the most glorious display. And I tried, every day, to absorb some small kernel of his knowledge. Any tree or flower growing on that golf course was fair game for me to take a seedling, a cutting, a pod- even an entire plant-if Lynn gave me the green light. This property has some interesting specimen plants who had their roots (ha ha!!) on Sailfish Point. This is a favorite of mine, he called it a “Pine Palm”, and I have only ever seen these near the ocean.110 Banyan, abandoned and vandalized 001

It actually looks much better than it did when this was taken- I have since learned to keep the centers of each group of fronds as dry as possible, or they start to rot. I eventually had to prune the whole near left section off for this very reason. I had not noticed in time that my sprinkler was dropping exactly over the center of that bunch of fronds. The tree frogs told me about it. I believe that, on the wind-swept dunes near the beach where this species grows naturally, the stiff ocean breeze would keep these trees quite dry. One thing I did learn when landscaping: Pay attention to the plants natural surroundings, and plant in as similar a position as you can.

This means that if your new shrub came from the sunny side of a slope, but under a tree that shades it in the late afternoon, then you should give it a well-drained west facing partially shaded spot. Shady in the late afternoon, that is. And pay attention to the soil where your specimen came from. Sand? Deep moist black earth? (Boy, I wish we had that here!!! That is what Pennsylvania earth is like, in the western Appalachian foothills.)

Anyway, I digress. Just be an observant gardener, and your results will please you and make all your girlfriends jealous when they come over for coffee. Another great trick to fool them into thinking you are a master gardener is to find some cheap, aged pots and planters from a Thrift store and fill them with good potting mix and fresh. blooming annuals from a nursery. Then just make sure to tend to these three or four, moving them from place to place near your front walkway or doorstoop (stoop?) (stop?) area. Even if the rest of your yard looks like poo, keep tending these few- Miracle Grow anyone?-and you will blow them all away with your mad skills. Observe:my new hair, and stuff to sell 022

See how the yard is pretty plain behind my little front patch of flowers? I am SO sneaky! I rearrange the pots as some flowers fade or I just have a whim, taking the shabby looking pots around back to be reworked at a later date.

And I just love taking objects that totally look like they do not belong outside and placing them around my garden for focal points. Broken plates (pretty ones) make nice edging, old chairs you were going to throw away make a great plant stand with a coat of bright spray paint!

That old carved owl was a throw away from a friend- I kept it in the garden till it just fell all apart. and we had bunches of leftover ceramic tile from when I did the house, so Dad started using it to edge the beds, and it looks pretty spiffyIMG_20140507_114010I Has been fun sharing this with you all, I feel ready for my own T.V. show now:

” The Sneaky Crafty Artsy Lady Gardener Show”!

I am keeping my prayers focused on Jehovah’s promises for a new world where righteousness will dwell, and where there will be no more pain, suffering, war or death. I pray that we can all be there one day soon.! I’m ready to live in a peaceful world!

Goodnight!