alee_grrl: a still of chihuro sitting on a balcony overlooking water and watching the train ride across the water (train watching)
It is incredibly hard to believe that a year ago today I said my final goodbyes to my father. I will never cease to be amazed at how the passing of a year can simultaneously feel both glacial and as if it happened in mere moments.

I am by and large okay. I'm allowing myself a day of quiet introspection and remembrance. While expectedly melancholy am I not laid low by the emotion. I am proud of the choices I have made since that day, and feel as if I am on the right path for me. I think my father would be proud as well.
alee_grrl: Open book with purple iris in crease, text reads poetry (poetry)
I was happily hit by the desire to write poetry today. This poem is based on a collection of my earliest memories which were all formed at a time when my family was living in Mesa, Arizona in the southwestern United States. The song referenced is "The Moonshiner" a traditional folk song.

Mind the Cactus

Some lessons seem etched
onto my bones
no memory of being told
no memory of learning the hard way
the sharp bite of the spine sinking into skin
but I knew to mind the cactus

Mind the cactus and celebrate the rain
stomp, jump, twirl
bare feet in warm puddles
swing and sway with a cheshire smile
wondering if I can soak up the water
become a cactus, prickly but sweet

Celebrate the rain and respect the storm
dry earth can't soak up water fast enough
doesn't take long, a wild river surges
and you best be well out of reach
watch the swirling currents and know
all things can turn fierce

Respect the storm and love its light show
light arcing from cloud to cloud
dancing through the sky to strike the ground
viewed from the safety of my father's arms
rocking gently on the carport
fierce things are also beautiful

Love the light show and be soothed by music
head tucked against my father's chest
feeling the rumbling bass as he sings
hearing it in my bones
I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler,
I'm a long way from home

these are the lessons etched in my soul
alee_grrl: Black and white kitty peeking up out of a pink box.  Text above reads "Lurk" (lurk)
My brother and I have mostly been just hanging out the last couple of days, but today we realized we actually needed to get things done. CW: discussions of funeral planning/prep and death )

On the plus side, I got to spend time with two lovely doggies that work with the local pet therapy group. One older golden retriever and a young lab. My brother and I both really enjoyed the dog visit and that probably helped give us the bit of a boost we needed to go out and do the other things.
alee_grrl: a still of chihuro sitting on a balcony overlooking water and watching the train ride across the water (train watching)
CW: hospice care, death, did my best to avoid too much medical detail )
alee_grrl: Groot, a very tall humanoid tree, leaning down and peering curiously at the camera. (groot)
My niece (brother's daughter) is a lot like me, which I suppose isn't too surprising because my brother and I are far more alike than we ever realized. She's not really all that miniature considering she is 12 and nearly as tall as me. She loves reading, most academics, singing, and theater. She adores bizarre, funky jewelry. She also eats her food in the same manner I always did (sorting and organizing, eating certain things but not others, eating things in a particular order). It's very bemusing.

It's been really good to get to know my brother again, despite how hard the rest of the past month has been (Dad gets worse every week). Despite large efforts on my part I had internalized so much of the narratives my mother provided and haven't rooted them all out yet. So it's been wonderful to kick old narratives out of my head and realize that my brother and I are so very similar, and our skill sets and comfort zones balance each other out perfectly (I can handle admin stuff and phone calls, he can do the cleaning and medical stuff, which I can do but am far less comfortable doing). Without my mom to cause friction we are back to the close friendship and team that we once had many years ago.

It's also been really nice to meet my sister-in-law and niece and get to know them. Last time I saw my niece she was still a baby. So it has been nice to spend time with them and get to know them. It's laid a certain set of brain weasels to rest. I'm sure the little bastards will come up with new ways to be a pest, but at least this set is calm for now.

I'm doing my best to take care of myself as well as being here for my dad and brother. I've gotten out of the house a couple of times to visit old friends, and have also been pampering myself since I can't stress eat like I used to. So I have gotten a haircut, a manicure/pedicure, and a lesson in skin care and makeup application along with some new makeup. I really didn't like my current stuff (bare minerals) as the powder is messy and gets everywhere. It was really nice to finally find a skin care product for ultra sensitive skin that does not smell awful or feel awful and actually helps sooth irritation and calm the skin. The line is Dermitilogica for those who need something similar (they have body care stuff too, I went back and got some). It is pricey but well worth it. And if you are in the Spokane, WA area I cannot recommend Beautiful Grounds, which is located in the mezzanine level of Auntie's bookstore, enough. It's a beauty bar and coffee shop run by a brother and sister and their best friend. They were absolutely wonderful, super sweet, and very helpful.
alee_grrl: a still of chihuro sitting on a balcony overlooking water and watching the train ride across the water (train watching)
My father has always loved trains, and we frequently lived very near to tracks. So the sounds of trains are usually a familiar sound. This poem could have been written using a number of travel metaphors, but I knew it had to be trains. I have really been struggling with how to capture the complex emotional mess that is hospice waiting.

So I am turning to my common outlet and seeing if writing will help me clarify what I'm feeling or just make me cry (apparently I need a good cry). This is a seriously rough draft.

Waiting on a Train
poem contains imagery and metaphor dealing with death and loss )
alee_grrl: Bruce Willis holding coffee cup.  Text reads: Coffee fail....caffiene levels dangeriously low (coffee fail)
This post is mostly going to be a bit of whinging and venting re: my own health. I just needed to get the frustrations/feelings out. Please feel free to skip if low on spoons.CW: Lyme disease treatment, diet frustrations, internalized ableism )

In other news, my father is doing as well as one can. discussion of parental illness )
alee_grrl: Image of 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) leaning out of the TARDIS (dr who yes)
For all that these past few weeks have been really hard (and are likely to continue to be really hard) I have really, really been enjoying spending time with my dad and brother. I made sure to take a couple of photos now as this is how he would rather be remembered.

It's still strange to see him without a beard (he had one for pretty much most of my life save for the last 10 years).

 photo 100_0743_zpsed0c64b7.jpg
alee_grrl: Open book with purple iris in crease, text reads poetry (poetry)
As most of you know I do a lot of my reflecting and meditation through poetry. Many of the poems in the coming months will likely deal with memories of my father. This is the first one that has managed to get through the storm of emotion I'm feeling right now.

My Father's Hands

I may not remember
being so small I fit
cheek to cheek
across a single palm

But I remember
my tiny hands
wrapped around
a single finger
walking along
so happy in your shadow

I remember
big fingers surprisingly
dexterous
machines fixed
banjos picked
necklaces and curly hair
gently, patiently untangled

I look at my hands
still tiny despite being grown
and I cannot help
but think of yours
alee_grrl: 4th Doctor and companion looking shocked (dr who shock)
I just got some very bad news. I'm coping as well as one can. I have my heart sisters with me, but wanted to let my friends here now what was going on in case I'm not online much in the near future.

TW: Parental illness, medical, mentions of hospice care )

Recommendations for fluff are welcome.

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