Remembering What’s Real

The last couple of months have been particularly trying in my life. My wife and I are at that age where our parents health is failing and the new normal is a series of medical challenges big and small that will only end one way. Professionally, the hits just seemed to keep coming, further straining my mental and emotional capacity to bounce back, requiring tough decisions for the sake of my personal integrity. Factors beyond our control tossed a monkey wrench into future plans Sandy and I have worked toward for so long, and the day that reality hit, we unexpectedly lost our beloved dog, Bailey. I swear I was on the proverbial cliff.DSCN0094

But then something happened. I was on my way to work, ready to do battle again, as had become the norm. Stress rose palpably inside as the minutes ticked off toward my time to go, and my wife gave me the support to make whatever decision I needed for myself. My youngest sister called with an update on my mom’s condition, and realized so much more was wrong on my end. We talked about what I’d been going through and she said something so simple and powerful: Walk away if you need to. I protested. I wasn’t a quitter, no matter what injustice I might be going through. She said: Sandy knows who you are. We know who you are. You know, too. Listen to your heart.

I know, I know, at my age I should have been able to put things into perspective on my own, but I guess sometimes we all get lost in the storm. Those simple words of unconditional support were like a lifeline. No, they didn’t magically erase the problems. They did, however, change my focus. That day, rather than allow the slings and arrows to elicit a negative emotional response, I heard my sister’s voice: You know who you are. No, it didn’t change the outcome. What it did was center me and I came away certain that I had held the ground of my integrity and feeling better than I had in months.

It so happened we were set to leave for our trip north for the occasion of our niece’s graduation and nephew’s wedding. The drive itself was a blessing. Sandy and I use such long trips to reconnect and simply enjoy each others company. Watching our niece graduate, armed with all the potential and talent needed to succeed in life, was a truly uplifting experience. From there, we took a short trip across town to the fairytale grounds of a country club for our nephew’s wedding. Some of you might recall I’ve spoken about my oldest sister, whom we lost far too young. Her son’s wedding day was quite remarkable. The weather was spectacular, with not a cloud in the sky, the bride incredibly beautiful, and the groom—well, we think he’s fabulous. With his brother as the best man, they were incredible. They have their mom’s smile, which makes me alternately laugh and cry, depending on the moment.

The injection of love and family on that day did more good than I can describe. As I sat holding Sandy’s hand, watching Tim stand at the alter awaiting his bride, I felt so many emotions. Sorrow that my sister wasn’t there to witness her son’s marriage, pride in the man he’s become, grateful for our relationship, which now includes his wife. Then, I was overcome by a sense of contentment. This is all that matters. Again, I heard my little sister’s voice: We know who you are. Nothing else matters. The workplace struggles, the business end of writing, setbacks and obstacles of all kinds are just white noise that will disappear when we bring our hearts into focus on what’s real.

tumblr_lnwzr3fO9S1qlaa6wo1_500The bride entered, and as he took her hand, a small cluster of clouds in the shape of a heart drifted above the open venue. Yeah, I know, sounds sappy, but it’s true.

30 thoughts on “Remembering What’s Real

    1. Hi Wolvster! Thanks for stopping by. Glad my sister’s words could help someone besides me. Keep your chin up and always move forward. We’ll do it together.:) Take care.

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  1. How beautiful : You know who you are… Listen to your heart. Add : You are not alone. I wish you well in your struggles. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Lynette: You are totally talking about what i recently went through. My wife, KI Thompson, and I have different weekends so we really need to plan our time. When the stress of work and other commitments started getting beyond what what I could handle(and I can handle a lot of stress), I started a campaign-“shed the shit” earlier this year. It has worked well. We are happier, I am healthier, and I say no more than I ever used to, without feeling guilty.

    Good luck!
    Family is primo however you define it-that’s what I always remember

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    1. Thanks, Kathi. I can generally handle tons of stress myself, but I had to acknowledge my limits. Thanks for your kind words. Very glad you and KI made the needed adjustments for yourselves. Take care.

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  3. Thank you for writing this blog, Lynette. I’ve reread your sister’s sage words of advice, folded them into a neat imaginary package, and tucked them into my memory where they’ll remain, ready for me to take out and recall whenever I’m going through a rough time. Blessings to you, Sandy, and your entire family.

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    1. Thanks, Renee! I have been blessed with wonderfully intelligent, beautiful and caring sisters. Along with my wife, they are the rocks forming the foundation of my life.

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  4. Great blog. Puts things into perspective. We all have to do that now and then, so thank you for bringing attention to that.

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    1. Kejaeck, I was going to write another blog, but then I realized that what I’ve been going through is certainly not unique. We all need that reminder, so I decided it was the story to share. Thanks for your continued support.

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  5. Yeah, we know who you are, That’s why we love you. Just keep on being you.Hope the ride smooths out. And sorry about Bailey – our golden had to go down too so we must have both lost a dog around the same time. Ouch. Sending huge hugs to you and Sandy. And I’ve always got an ear if you need one. xxooo

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    1. Aww, Bax, I’m sorry you lost your baby as well. That’s terrible. We’ve been alternately laughing and crying at memories, and know how lucky we were to have her in our lives. I’ll give you a shout soon. Big hugs back atcha. xoxo

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    1. Hey, Dev, I’m glad the message resonates with you. I worried about digging into the emotions, but it helped me, and I figured it might help others. All the best to you.

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  6. Thanks for the insightful and beautifully written post. Many of my own over the years have been about similar epiphanies and adaptations during difficult times; the nature of life and the changes and challenges it brings us… So I understand what you’re feeling. You have the best attitude though. I applaud your strength and courage. Best of all things to you and Sandy.❤

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    1. KellI, I think as writers we are at our best when we truly share from our hearts. The things going on in our lives have made me struggle in my creativity as well, but I know that they will ultimately strengthen my resolve and work their way into my writing in a good way. Thanks for your support. Take care.

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      1. Agreed. I’ve had some issues with the writing lately too because of all the changes and health issues. Hopefully if I keep trudging forward I’ll find my stride again. And so will you. Xxoo

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  7. Wonderful blog with an amazing photo!
    It brought to mind the great lyrics of John Lennon:

    There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
    Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
    Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
    It’s easy

    Nothing you can make that can’t be made
    No one you can save that can’t be saved
    Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
    It’s easy

    All you need is love
    All you need is love
    All you need is love, love
    Love is all you need

    Nothing you can know that isn’t known
    Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
    Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
    It’s easy

    All you need is love
    All you need is love
    All you need is love, love
    Love is all you need

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  8. I am quite late catching up with this post, but, belatedly, “Strength to your arm!”
    Once when I was working through a HORRENDOUS time at work my brother gave me probably the best advise I ever received from him: Don’t wrestle with pigs, you just get dirty and they enjoy it! That put my ego maniac ‘boss’ in perspective and – the thought that she (unfortunately, yes, a she, but at least, an unenlightened hetero!) was enjoying it – really helped change the way I interacted with her.
    The parents aging and health concerns are not so easily managed. I have been through both of my parents having serious conditions and their deaths and can only offer the sympathetic thoughts of a stranger and this minor advise: say “no” to as many other things/events/commitments as you can so that you can spend as much time with them as you can.
    I was able to flex-shift at work and do 4 10-hour days and travel the 200 miles to stay with them for three days a week – plus more, other days at the crisis points – and have never regretted the ‘other’ things I did not do during that time.
    That said, there is no doubt it is a tremendous challenge, a deeply emotional time, and a time to focus on them as people – and drop any child-parent drama – but, for me with the distance and driving back and forth, it was also a physical tiredness challenge. I had times when I travelled down and back (In Michigan “down” is downstate and “back” is up north!) with 8 hours on the road in a day. I had to learn to cope with less sleep than I had ever missed before! I can to you, in retrospect, I am glad I have nothing to regret. Like you I had (still have!) a very supportive partner who was able to live with the house not being vacuumed and dusted as often, etc.
    As I say, no magic advise. Just the promise that you will not regret the time you take to focus on them when they really need you.

    All the best as you meet the challenges!
    Lynn

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  9. Thank you L for your words. I just got back from visiting my mom out east. I too know know her time here on earth is short and I am eternally grateful for every minute I got to spend with her.

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