Like the holidays are not crazy enough with the normal stuff, earlier this week I was bitten by a spider- at the base of my skull. I'll spare the details after the ouch and swelling so much it hurt to turn my head along with a headache that couldn't be zapped. By Friday I was just starting to feel normal and here came the snow. Yep, it is Michigan.
I was on the ball this year, Christmas village up on Thanksgiving weekend, my cards went out the day after, I had the tree up and decorated earlier than any of the last four years and I was charging at a deadline for submission of a story. My mantra became "I will make this deadline, I will." I realized it wasn't the deadline. That could come and go, I actually think they're closed until Jan. anyway. It was the date, I needed to get to that date with nothing distracting me, it couldn't...or I wouldn't make the deadline. The magic date was the 15th. I don't know why I picked that date. Or maybe I do. That date has nothing good to go with it.
Dec. 15th, the height of Viet Nam, and we had a black sedan in the driveway, two officers in dress uniforms, "I'm sorry to inform you that your son has died." Anything said after that I didn't hear, I'm not sure dad did either. We made arrangements only to be told on Christmas eve that they had lost his body. It was the quietest Christmas ever in our house. They finally found him and we were able to lay him to rest in Feb. When I was a teenager, I was sitting at a traffic light and was hit from behind- it put me into the intersection where I was hit at least four more times. They said they just pulled and my car fell apart around me. I had been thinking about Doug, fighting back tears, wondering why I couldn't have said "I love you" just once when he was home the last time...and then BAM! It was all over and I walked away without a scratch. It took hours to get the glass out of my hair, but nothing more than a bruise on my knee.
Years later, my Pop lost his battle with cancer on Dec 15th, and the race was on to get from where we were stationed to home. It had spread to his brain, which we found to be highly unfair- he was a strong believer in education and pushed that idea many times. The disease left him in other places and times often. My mother didn't handle it well, one day she was yelling at him because he said he didn't know her, some harsh words flew and then Pop looked at my daughter, Nicole, and said "Who is that old bat?" and she said "Grandpa, that's your wife." He looked over at mom and then whispered, "No, I married a nice woman. That one is waiting for a house to drop on her." I was on the phone with her and nearly fell over laughing at him. That was also the year of the Salt Lake City Olympic Torch Relay, I had a leg down on Beach Blvd and carried that torch, fighting tears. I so wanted him there. The night he passed Nicole's brother-in-law played the tape & Pop looked up and pointed and said "Hey, that's my kid!" An hour later he closed his eyes and was gone. Once again, I didn't get to say good-bye. I kicked my self repeatedly for that.
Last year it was my brother, I made sure when I went to Minnesota I told him everything I needed to say, and some things I said repeatedly. I may be slow, but not backwards. This year had several milestones I would have given anything for them and my Dad to see- I released three books, graduated with a Master's degree- the first in the family.
I couldn't slow down, or I would think about them, if I thought about them, I would cry because I miss them all so much, so I had to keep going because I just can't stop....and then I hit send. There was nothing to do. I had nothing to hide behind. No papers for class or other assignments, no pages to edit and send back, no story to be frantically typing. It was me, and 2a.m. Grieving is hard, not doing it is worse. I cried and cussed and whined until almost 5 a.m., alone, everyone else was in bed...and then I remembered something about Rick that made me laugh, and Pop loved a joke. He was of Polish descent and had every Polish joke he could find. His favorite had been a bag of Cheerios labeled "donut seeds" that he had been given by some old lady at bingo.
Dad was my hero- he was far from perfect, but I learned much from him and came to admire the love story he shared with my step mom Cathy. At the end of my pity party I had a raging headache, my eyes felt like sandpaper had been used on them, but for the first time in a while, I could see something other than a dark cloud. I started writing down a couple of stories about dad to give to Nicole, something she could have and hold on to- and by the time I was done, there was ten pages and I was snorting I was laughing so hard. He used to tell me, "It'll happen, on indian time." His side of the family is Scot/Irish/Blackfoot, mostly the Blackfoot part, and he used to lament that not a one of his family could stick to a schedule- "they all run on indian time." That line came back to me today.
I have my writing year laid out, Get the last one accepted and into print/ebook, Finish my take on the 3 Musketeers, write the kids book, a whole laundry list followed, one was slated for a May/June slot. Until today, When no matter what I did, that story hounded me. It wanted to be written now- it has its own schedule, runs on indian time...so I caved in. 6k and I made it go to bed for awhile. As I sit here, I can here all of my men laughing and saying "it'll happen, on its own time" and they may be right. It's time to slow down and let things happen as they should.
This took a duck walk, I was going to write about traditions....hmm, I guess it wasn't its time. There'll be another blog for that. Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays, may you be safe and happy this coming year.