Tag Archive | letting go

Getting out of “Dodge”

travelI hope some of you noticed I took a hiatus from blogging. Being missed by someone is a compliment, so I guess I’m also being presumptuous you’re glad I’ve returned.

Grounded No More,” my seventh historical novel has been keeping me away, but this morning I put the finishing touches on it to go to my editor. I so enjoy historical fiction. I love researching other time periods to catch a glimpse of the people who lived those years. I’ve zeroed in on the World War II era because I find the sacrifices and hardships people endured amazing. I enjoy how people faced their fears and carried on in the face of adversity–particularly the women who were expected to become someone else in a blink of an eye. Through propaganda campaigns, they entered the workforce in all kinds of jobs, including some very dangerous ones.

The other fact that has kept me away from blogging is personal. I’ve been soul searching for some answers. Being a caretaker impacts a person in ways you never expect. As you might imagine, Ken’s Multiple Sclerosis can be trying at times. I must continually remind myself what he does is the disease and not him, but sometimes I drown myself in something artistic to put down my emotions of losing him bit by bit.

The winter has kept us both in the house longer than usual, so I haven’t been outside to start my spring clean-up and plant my flowers. We’ve been together 24/7 for over three years, and I need a respite, but going on such a journey has turned into an overwhelming task.

Because Ken would rather stay home than go to a care center, the quest is more difficult. I need to find him a qualified person to provide 24-hour care. When I expressed my frustration with the woman who acts as our coordinator, she said she’d work with the nurse and help me get this done. I guess it helps to whine once in a while.

Another part of my challenge is myself. My heart needs to stay home, but my head realizes without a break sometime in the near future, I might snap. My patience will wane, and I’ll do or say something I will regret. I equate the emotion to putting my little girl on the bus for kindergarten, only this time I’m the little girl.

My ordeal now boils down to letting go. When I must release my hold on something or someone I love, I need to take small steps, so when a girlfriend invited me to go “up north” with her for a weekend, I could consider her offer. I realize baby steps will be best for both Ken and me, so we’ll muddle through this first short separation, and if things go well, perhaps then I can plan a trip to Florida to visit my dear friend Kay–which was my original intention when I began this respite quest. I’m simply not ready for such a long separation.

Ken and I are lucky.  Through our relationship of nineteen years, we enjoyed many wonderful trips together. Timeshares in different parts of the country. A couple of cruises. Weekend getaways in quaint Bed & Breakfast places or swanky hotels. I am thankful for all of the good times, but I’m sad we will probably never travel together like this again.

 

Dad’s Final Journey

Marriage 001 (2)My father laid in a hospital bed for the past month. My brother, sister, and I traveled up and down a bumpy road as he journeyed through his last days. We laughed together. We remembers together. Sometimes I’d simply sit by his bedside and hold his hand while he dreamed things I’ll never know. As I sit, I listen to the hospital daily routine interrupt my memories. “Doctor So & So, dial 795.”

I think about times when I was small before my Dad got sick with heart disease. I was about seven when he taught me to throw a baseball and catch like a boy. He taught me how to hit, too, and together we broke several windows in the back of the house. I remember the day I got my first mitt, and Dad taught me how to oil it and mold a pocket. Then a floor washer goes down the hallway as loud as a street sweeper. Nurses and visitors scurry out of its way. I pardon the interruption of my thoughts and watch my Dad sleep.

He’s curled up on his left side, and I realize I sleep the same way. He appears so small right now. He’s no longer the man who was my hero most of my life. Now he’s become a child waiting like all children seem to do. The instant I think this thought he reminds me he’s a man by producing a hefty snore.  I giggle because it seems like he’s reading my mind.

The white noise of the television set on the wall fills the silence, along with the whispers of nurses outside his door. A squeaky wheel on a food cart goes by just in time because I feel a tear trying to escape my eye. I promised myself I would not cry when he can see me.

I pray his journey will have a happy ending and unite him to all of the wonderful people who filled his life. Hank, Paulie, Eddie, and his other volunteer firemen friends will reminisce about the fires they put out and the babies they brought into the world. His brothers Marco and Jimmy, along with his sisters Rosie, Mary and Jo can plan a family reunion. My mother will head up the party, her arms opened wide, probably asking Dad why he took so long to join them. All of these dear departed souls have filled my life, too. I smile as I picture them presenting Dad with his angel wings, and him taking his first test drive. They all will laugh and be young again.

This earthly journey Dad has walked for 89 years is nearly over. He’s fought gallantly for the past 50 years to live out everyone of the days he was given as best as he was able, but the time to rest has come. I kiss his cheek one last time and walk away. He’s earned his peace and from now on, I will carry him in my heart.

Let Your Life Be

letting go

Real life doesn’t know shortcuts. –Willem Meiners

I read this quote this morning and it resonated with me. It’s true. We cannot not (yes, I intended the double negative)  live the life we were given. Or can we?

If you’re old enough, you have experienced having situations come up that you can’t control. Something big has happened to you, and you find yourself not able to do anything about it. You have to go through all the steps. No day provides a shortcut. You have to feel the pain. You have to suffer through the day-to-day stuff. You can’t avoid it. If you’re smart, you soon realize the situation will play out the way it’s supposed to, and you will be forced to stand on the sidelines to watch the world go by. If you’ve raised a teenager, you know what I’m talking about.

Letting go is so hard for some people. It’s a common theme in so many media–it’s a real biggie on the soap operas. There’s always a character with money and power who can’t help himself/herself to control what happens to other people. And guess what? It never works.

I was lucky. I learned this lesson very young. When I broke my leg in a tobogganing accident at age 14 and lost the lead of the school Spring Musical. I was heartbroken because my dream was to sing on Broadway, and this was my first chance to feel the dream. But I learned I was only miserable when I fought against what was happening to me.

Since then, I’ve tried to live my everyday life by being open to what is around me. I can choose to like it, or hate it ,or let it go. And I found out, letting things be what they want to be is a fascinating journey. It has brought me new experiences and opportunities I never dreamed I could do or could experience.

For instance, about 20 years ago, quite by chance I met a woman from the Boston area on a cruise ship. I was on the cruise ship because I took an opportunity that was handed to me. I was doing marketing for a small cruise-only travel agency and a FAM trip was offered to the business by Costa Cruise Lines. Airfare was included, too, which was highly unusual, but the owners of the business could not go–so it was offered to me.

Traveling was something I always wanted to do, but never had a chance to explore. And here was my chance, so I took it. Not only did I have a wonderful time on the trip, I saw myself in different surroundings. I was amazed that people gravitated to me when I wasn’t with my grumpy husband. I even met a woman would be a good friend for the rest of my life. Robin would introduce me to Jane from Maine, and over the next two years, the three of us became traveling partners. I was going through a miserable divorce at the time, had no job except freelance writing, and here was my chance to soothe my soul with travel and new friends. And travel we did — about every two months I was off exploring a new island. Jamaica, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Antigua, Aruba, Martinique, and more. I danced till dawn. I sang Karaoke. I met people from around the country and the world. I was having the time of my life. And I kept a journal.

As our friendship developed, I got a chance to visit both of my friends at their homes in the Boston area and the beautiful state of Maine. I met their families and children. And we got to know each other on a deeper level. And when Jane turned 50–we had a reunion with our new spouse, you guessed it–on a cruise ship.

My point is, if I would have been practical and  not have taken this chance, I would have missed out on so many wonderful  things that have enriched my life. I wouldn’t have met Robin and Jane. I wouldn’t have seen beautiful tropical islands. I wouldn’t have gotten to know other people from around the country and the world. By taking these trips at a time when I really didn’t have the money to travel, I opened my world. I didn’t put limits on myself. I started to write my own story.

And now, I’m realizing another dream by simply letting things go again. The last three years of Ken’s illness and my unemployment has put me in financial hardship, but I have a chance to finally write seven novels and numerous short stories. My daily blogging is a personal challenge to try to come up with something fresh someone else might like to read. This medium has linked me to other wonderful writers around the globe.

Am I an overnight success? No. Have you seen me on CBS Sunday Morning? Not yet.  But people are reading my stories and tell me they have enjoyed the experience. I’ve even had a gushing fan blush and tell me she loves all of my stories. That was a little uncomfortable at first, but I could get used to it. Someday, the big publishing contract will come because the more I write, the more my world grows and the more my writing improves. See how this works?

My point? The next time you’re tempted to control your life and all that is around you, let go. You might be pleasantly surprised what happens.

A Christmas Present for Amy

Mother and daughterI know my daughter in Seattle was probably disappointed by the mere little gift I could give her this year, but I knew she was tired of receiving my handmade jewelry and novels I’ve been passing her way for the past three years.

So, this morning, I’m giving her a gift no one else can give her–a story that is all hers. Merry Christmas, my precious daughter. I love you very much.

Letting Go and Standing By

2012 Copyright  Barbara Celeste McCloskey

When you have a daughter, you nurture and protect her as she grows into a woman. As a baby she’s precious, as a toddler she’s cute, as a child she’s exciting and as a teenager she’s trying. And when she’s an adult, you pray you’ve given her enough, so she can stand on her own. When she finally moves out of your house, you’re excited for her, because you know she’s claimed her own life and feels strong enough to live it. That day came for me about three years ago. My Amy became an independent woman, took an apartment and a short time later, she got married. She’s made me proud. But today, she’s moving very far away.

Amy filed her “flight plan” a few months ago when she told me she was thinking of moving to the desert Southwest. She found herself in a dead end job and needed a change. I listened carefully to hear seriousness, and I found it. Her declaration wasn’t just an idle dream. I knew she had already completed her research and made her plan. She was just easing me into the idea she’d be across the country, instead of across town.

Amy’s adventure will give her an education. Not a college education, as I had hoped for her, but a real-life education where she will need her cunning, intelligence, and strength to make it through. This education will not be sheltered in the warm arms of academia, but in the cold heart of reality.

As I watch her stuff her worldly belongings into a U-Haul truck, I am remembering the baby I held in my arms 20 years ago. That dark-eyed, eight pound bundle taught me I had enough unconditional love to be a good mother. Then the ghost of a two year old, who was unwilling to climb onto the sofa until she knew she could get down alone, appeared. She shouted, “Amy do it!” after accomplishing her feat, and she’s been screaming for her independence since.

I know the time is near because she’s checking the map. I watch her with the same held breath, I did when she pedaled her two-wheeled bicycle without training wheels. I see the five year old climb on the school bus with legs almost too short to climb the high steps of the vehicle. I see her first ballet recital with her tu-tu fluttering, her first piano lesson when her feet didn’t tough the floor as she sat on the bench, her first art award. The memories flood my eyes. I can’t seem to make them s top.  I’m a tornado of emotions. Excitement. Sadness. Happiness. Anxiety. Fear. Loneliness. My heart is breaking, and my eyes are betraying my smile. I tell myself I’m being selfish. I don’t want to let go because she’s brought so much joy to my life.

But this is her turn to dry her wings and fly, not mine to keep her in the cocoon. I command these emotions to take a step back. I will deal with them latter, but right now, I must be strong, supportive and happy for my daughter. She has a right to find her own happiness and prove her adulthood. I admire her. She’s taking a chance I was never brave enough to take. I assure myself, she has the tools of life I’ve bequeathed to her. She will refine them and make them her own. Perhaps some day, she will give them to a daughter of her own. She has my blessing.  I pray her journey will be safe, and I’ll stand by when crushing homesickness, culture shock, and loneliness cross her path.

With a kiss goodbye and a wild wave, I shout “Have a good trip! Call when you get there!” And other “Mom” stuff as I watch her small caravan pull away from the curb. She’s left the station, leaving me in on the platform.

I watch until I can’t see the U-Haul any longer, and suddenly remember once she told me she wanted to make a difference in the world. Little does she know, she’d already accomplished that. Because of her, I became a grown-up. Because of her, I learned to love unconditionally. And because of her, I became a woman.