labelleizzy: (Scotty)
Today's my little brother's​ deathaversary.
Mom called me a couple of minutes ago. I hadn't truthfully been thinking about it, or him, today...
I have such a good life now. This makes the ... No... TENTH anniversary. Shit. Shit.

I loved him but it feels like I barely knew him.
I don't know what to do with this right now, now it's brought to the surface. I'mma go be productive.
labelleizzy: (bunny writer)
My dad died at the end of April, twenty years ago in about two weeks.

Recently I've been reflecting on life with him, and life without him.

After he died, Mom sold the house we'd grown up in. The yard sale paid for the moving van, and got rid of lots of extra stuff; furniture, record player, vinyl records, duplicate china. But Mom and I were still packrats.

She and I moved from that 5 bedroom house to a three bedroom house, where we dedicated one of the three bedrooms and most of the garage to storage. We were mostly storing crap, as I can freely admit at this distance.

We come by our packrattitude honestly in my family. Both Mom's parents were raised during the Great Depression and slogans included "we'll fix it later!" and "don't you dare throw that away, you're going to want it!" Every house had multiple junk drawers, and piles of stuff in closets and garage.

The "guest room" of this rental house was crammed full of boxes, bags and piles of my "craft crap". There was some stuff in there which might have been useful, if I could ever have located the treasure among the trash. Do you ever think, "man, I know I have this tool/supply/fabric/colored marker in my stash, but I just can't FIND it," so you buy another whatever it is?

Can't count the number of times I bought duplicates of things I already owned. Embarrassing to think of now.

Anyway, the house itself was decent, if dated (1970's ceramic tile floor in living room and kitchen, yo) and a little chilly in autumn and winter. It had an in-ground fish pond and some space to garden and hang out in the back yard. Sometimes we had visits from local wildlife. Once I was walking to the kitchen to start the coffee and saw a white crane as it took flight out of the fish pond, and once a skunk tried to come into the house seeking dog kibble.

But the most mysterious visitor was inside the house. It took us a few weeks to realize what was happening, in spite of finding gnawed electrical cords more than once and little dark pellets scattered at the corners and edges of rooms.

The epiphany hit us one evening when I went into the craft crap storage room and found tufts of ... dog hair? but dog hair of the wrong color. Our dog was Captain, a tiny black Pomeranian. Our first dog had been a tan and brown Pomeranian named Montana, and my little brother had saved up a bag of her hair before she died ...

Wait. There's the bag, how did it get...

chewed open

Dammit. *shudder*
We had a rodent in the house.

Immediately started sorting through my entire stash, grieving damaged goods I had always "meant to do something with" or "couldn't bear to give away", and tossed them in the trash. Sent bags of unwanted but undamaged fabric to the communal sewing stash for my Renfair friends, and took several boxes to Goodwill, including the hideous latch-hook rug project in white yellow orange and olive that I started when I was eleven and never finished.

Mom called an exterminator, and they brought something I didn't know existed, sticky traps. We had at least one sticky trap in each public room. A few days later I discovered a rat, deceased, under the living room table. It was stuck to the sticky pad, partially atop the electrical cord to the lamp, which was also stuck to the pad. Mom was a trouper, and sorted the mess out. This involved breaking the leg of the rodent to detach the sticky pad from the cord.

I didn't have the cojones to do this; she did.

She threw the rat and sticky mess into the trash bag and the trash bag into the trash bin, while I made disgusted noises and felt faintly guilty at making my widowed mother do it.

Mom always sorted our messes out.
Mom has always been awesome.

This has been my week 5 entry for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol and the prompt was "A Better Mousetrap".

Please go read and enjoy my colleagues' entries here. To vote for my entry, link will be *here*

Thank you for reading!
labelleizzy: (bunny writer)
Eighteen years ago yesterday, my dad breathed his last at around 3 am in a room in Kaiser's Morse Avenue branch in Sacramento. Mom and I got a phone call somewhere around 5. I figure now, that was when the shift change happened, and that's when a nurse discovered he'd passed. possible trigger warning for description of death circumstances )

I find myself using words and phrases he commonly used. It's a surprise almost every time. I'm mostly going grey like he did... very silver at the temples, though in the last couple of years I'm getting more salt-and-pepper scatters like my mom had.

Mom called me yesterday and told me again how much she loved me and appreciated the way we had each other's backs during his final illness, and how supportive I was as she transitioned from mother and wife to widow... "the start of her independence" she called it. And it was, no kidding, I mean after years of nursing him as he got weaker and crankier, she recovered a lot of her personal power. She really blossomed after we both did a bit of recovering from the shock. She got her master's degree, she researched real estate and bought a house on her own with the proceeds from the house we grew up in...

I did pretty well myself. Had a job for eight years as a junior high librarian. It was good work, worthy work, with a visible end-result and an obvious positive impact. Worked there from when I was 24 till I was 32. My brother was on track to graduate college in '94, I got a good job, mom had a good job, Jenny had a good job... and it's always felt like Dad sort of waited till all of us were kind of "settled" before he let go. I'm glad of that. Bit weird taking bereavement leave after only being two months in a job.

Still struggling with some of the secrets he kept and the ways he functionally lied to us about who he was and what he felt and what he had experienced as a child. Formative stuff, you know? Stuff that influenced the fact that he barely touched us growing up, for good or for ill. I didn't know I was a huggy person for 18 years basically... having a boyfriend made it okay to ask for touch, and I didn't know I'd been touch starved ... my whole life, I think.

I don't even think I can scratch the surface of explaining the depth and quality of the hole he left in my life... not only from his dying but his inability to connect to us at a heart level. He was always distant and funny and sarcastic, and you wanted his approval SO BADLY but never could figure out how to get it. THAT messed me up until only three or four years ago... He was so smart and so many people liked, even loved him. But he was adversarial with us kids, not cooperative. And Scotty, the Only Son, was the favored child. And now Scotty's dead too. (six years and two weeks ago.)

I have all these ideas of what a father "should be", you know, like ideally? And, at 42 I'm still shocked when I see dads being affectionate in public with their kids, carrying their kids or horsing around, and dads being actually tender with their child invariably makes me cry. Dammit. *wipes face* Because we really didn't get that. At least not that I can remember. I hope someday I can sit with my sister and try to get her take on how that all went down, I just remember being unbearably lonely all the time and basically hiding in my books, on the front porch or up a tree, because dad "liked to tease"...

At this point in my processing and life, at this distance, I can say that it's certain dad was hurting for most of his life. I'm pretty sure his dad hit him, it's sort of "what was done back then" but also, my grandma divorced my grandpa, in the early 50's when You Didn't Do That... She's gone too, gone since I was eleven, I can't ask her why. I'm not very close to my aunts but I would like to ask them if they knew what was going on and why Grandma left.

At this point that's all such old news it's moldering. And I do really have to do The Work based on the Here And Now. What I have is What I have. That's it. That's depressing, but that's it.

Usually What I Have is enough. I don't have quite enough resources to do anything further with Dad at this moment, so I'm just going to lay this here and leave it. My heart feels a bit flat and stony at the moment, I know that will pass though, particularly if I let myself have a good cry and go Do Other Things Instead of Brooding. Heh.

I think it might be a night for crochet and candlelight meditation. After the yoga and the groceries.
labelleizzy: (Default)
as seen on [livejournal.com profile] apocalypticbob's Livejournal.

15 years ago I was 25. That was the "existential birthday" because after 25, I hadn't imagined at all what my life would be like. I had detailed expectations for every year up till 25, then 26? No clue what I should be doing with myself. Interesting, I haven't thought of that in a long time.

At 25, 15 years ago, I was back living at home with my mom. My dad had just died, about 6 months earlier. We were living in a house we rented, very near to the school that she worked at (also my old junior high). Our house had a little cement and stones waterfall-pond in the backyard, and mom spent hours dredging out that pond, shortly after we moved in. We wanted to put some goldfish in it. We discovered, once it started raining, why it needed mud dredged out of it: the rest of the yard was on a slight upslope, and the dirt from the lawn and garden flowed down hill when the waterlogged dirt... yeah. =) I loved that yard: spending time watching the fish, practicing kata on the back porch. I had just started the librarian job in the Grant district, was doing taekwondo at the community college, and feeling physically strong for the first time in my life. Emotionally, not so strong, though.

Advice for the Me of Fifteen Years Ago: (Granted if I had taken it I wouldn't be where I am today:)

* Gods, DITCH Francis already. He's not emotionally available, he's sarcastic and unsupportive, his parents are clutterholics, and so is he. He wants to keep everything the same. This is not a relationship that will help you to grow.

* Keep up with the Taekwondo. But: find a mentor who you feel comfortable going to for help in breaking down complicated moves, find someone who you can ask stupid questions of, regularly (and get used to asking uncomfortable, stupid questions). Practice jumping kicks at home, and ask for specific drills involving falling and getting over the fear of falling. And if this Do-jang doesn't do that, find another class to take, because it was the fear of asking for help/looking foolish and the fear of falling and hurting yourself that caused the knee-sprain. Twice.

* When you realize after about a year that you are still PISSED at dad for dying and everything else, give a call to that 800 number for employee mental health, and find someone to talk to about this, keep calling till you find someone. It's not natural nor good for you to be angry for six years and to be unable to remember any of the good things about your father. Also, that headspace puts you as a good match for another emotionally unavailable, sarcastic first husband. =( Talking to people is a Good Thing, and asking for help, well, you won't get help unless you do, and you won't know if you'll get help UNTIL you do ask, so talk to people.

* In that same vein, say yes more often to social events with people you like and who like you. It's good for you and builds your self-esteem and the friendships with those people as well. (The number of social events I flaked on, to have a date with a boy who didn't really make me happy...!)

* Make more stuff. Actually USE your craft supplies, you'll be sorry you didn't. Make gifts for friends and family, even if you "don't think it's good enough". The pillow that Scotty saved the dog's hair to stuff? Make that first. =(

* Do more professional development in the librarian gig, and find more ways to interact with the kids. Follow up on the mobile mini-library idea for classroom projects. Pick the brains of the English and history teachers more. Go do social stuff with Sandy and Cathy and ask Regina and Sharon out to tea. Knowing smart, experienced, older ladies is Good. Also, look into academic counseling at Sac State, you won't finish the teaching credential your first time through, but they'll understand, what with dad dying. They might be able to help you stay on track or find support services, bereavement counseling, stuff like that.

* Call your brother more. Find out more about his life, his girlfriend Sarah, have him tell you more tacky fraternity stories and explain why his fraternity was so important to him. Ask him about the trip to Hawaii, and about coaching his baseball team. Find a way to get down there and go out to dinner with him and Sarah.

* Call your sister more. Even awkward conversation is better than no conversation. Get to know Matt, and you and Jen can learn ways to support each other, and to support mom (and Scott) as well, through the grieving period. (I don't have any memories of spending time with my sister during the first year after dad died. I may be misremembering but yeah.)

* Try casual dating, and dates-with-friends. Also, dates-with-self. Strengthen the muscles of independence and self-sufficiency.

* I'd say "purge the clutter" or "get rid of the crap" but I know the crap is a security blanket that isn't going anywhere till you feel better about yourself. In addition to working on your social skills and other crafty things, try going to Al-anon, and hell, learn more about being an Adult Child of Alcoholics. Fran gave you that book because she recognized where you were, even if you didn't. Believe her. Try a meeting.

* Learn to give yourself manicures and pedicures. Seriously, you ARE worth the effort to learn to do such small things that make you happy, make you feel pretty.

* Hug your mom more. Take her along when you go out to walk the dog. Talk to her more, ask for stories of your dad from college and when they were early dating.

* Take your mom out on social events as often as she will let you. She was very very lonely for a very long time, even married to your dad and with you kids and the social life she did have... and she was primary caretaker of your dad during his final illness, even if you helped. She deserves some good times with loving, friendly people, and she won't meet them on her own for over 10 years. Help her out, it'll help you out as well.

* Enjoy the pagan community you're on the verge of joining. Talk with those folks more often, they'll be good for you. Read the books they recommend, seriously, READ them. All the way through. And read some more original sources, too, and as much other mythology as you can lay your hands on. This will be more fun and more useful than getting lost in crappy romance novels. They're good people. If you have to be shy, be shy, but ask them about themselves, learn more about who they are, how they problem solve, and the obstacles they've had in their own lives. This will help you problems-solve, and overcome your own obstacles, and again, give you confidence in your friendship-building skills, coincidentally more friends as well. =)

* Just so you know, you are sexy, and there are often people who think you are cute and want to see more of you. Don't grip so hard onto a relationship because you are worried no more are going to come around. There is enough, you have enough, you are enough. Feed yourself before you feed EVERYBODY else around you. You know about being alone, it hurts but it's not the worst pain ever.

* BTW, the worst pain ever? It's yet to come. You will handle it, and you will learn what you're made of, and it will open your eyes to who and what you are, where you are, and what your path is. It's a kind of birth. Remember that, and treat it as such.

* Be honorable, and be honest. Live by those two rules as much as you can, and treat yourself with kindness and respect.


... If you like, write a letter to the Yourself of Fifteen Years Ago, (assuming you're old enough to have figured out some life-lessons to share with that Yourself), and share with me.

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