Month of Thanks: DAY 24

I am thankful that all of our Christmas stuff is up (LOL).  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but every other year my son has been gone for Thanksgiving.  He hasn’t been with me the Friday after the holiday for the most part either.  This is all due to custody issues.  So I usually end up putting the Christmas decorations up by myself.  Granted, my son has been home some of the time because I usually tried to wait on him, but I couldn’t always do that.  Last night was the first time in 16 years we put up the Christmas decorations as a family on the evening of Thanksgiving.  This included my parents and my husband.  You’re probably confused as to why this matters.  Let me explain a little further.

Every year since my son was two, I have had to share him; run him from here to there.  Our holidays were always complete chaos.  We were always on the road Christmas Eve because his father got him that day.  He was always with me on Christmas.  Then we were right back on the road the day after Christmas where he would spent over two weeks away from home.  Remember, he’s a baby leaving his mother.

The aforementioned scenario was the routine until we moved back to Western Ohio in 2007.  Then it was even worse.  Because we were closer to the source, I gave him up more and more to keep peace and because I knew it would be good for my son to have a solid relationship with his father.  That backfired when we moved away in 2010.  I found myself back in court out of spite.  This time the judge gave his dad every other Christmas.  So, more running the roads, and this time I was without my son on one of the biggest holidays of the year.  That has gone on since 2010.

In July the tide shifted.  My son and my ex got into a major altercation.  Since then my son has been in my care, which has been wonderful.  This has been my son’s decision, not mine.  He’s old enough to make his own choices and follow through with those choices.  He has had some problems adjusting to the reality of the situation and what it means, but he is doing quite well despite it.  His grades have never been better.  He is happier.  In fact, he and my husband are having a “guy day” helping some friends of our fix cars.  This has been the best thing that could have happened to my son.  With all of that being said, he is finally with me for Thanksgiving and for Christmas; no running the roads or worrying.  By next Thanksgiving he will be working, so this holiday season means a great deal to me.

That’s the condensed version.  So today I am thankful for blessings in disguise.  I’m thankful for the hardship I’ve had to endure because the victory is so much sweeter.  The time I have with my son is more appreciated than you could possibly imagine!

 

Month of Thanks: Day 5

There is no way to convince me that my dog does not have a soul.  He has walked a long road in his 11 years.  He has been diagnosed with cancer, and we still see the results of that with each passing year.  Nevertheless, he is a miracle.  He was supposed to have been dead by January 2015.  I do know his contractual obligations are coming to a close, but he fights.  Sometimes I still see the puppy I took home from the shelter in November 2006.

When I cry, he’s there.  When I’m scared, he’s there.  His loyalty knows no bounds.  He has been a companion to my son, and a confidant to my husband.  My prayer is that when they call him across the rainbow bridge that he will go effortlessly in natural sleep.  He deserves that.

He was my second chance, which is why I named him Chance.  I had lost one dog through divorce.  Finding him in the shelter was divine, and I know it was meant to be.  He was meant to be with us.

Giving Thanks: Day 4

Today I want to say that I’m thankful for my mom.  She taught me how to be strong through hard lessons.  She taught me what an education meant, and how important it would be to obtain one.  She taught me that the odds are typically not in our favor, but it’s up to each individual to go beyond those odds; to pull myself up by the bootstraps and go on.

She is the only link I have left to my aunts, my uncle, and my grandparents.  I knew that one day we would travel this road without them, but it’s certainly been harder than either of us ever imagined.  This is our first holiday without my Aunt Evelyn.  Although I grief differently than most, I still feel the pain of her loss.  When my mother talks to me about the loss she feels, I can see that she is trying to make sense of the world without my aunt.  It’s not an easy task by any means.  However, we must move forward, and as she has told me time and time again, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps!”

The Month Of Thanksgiving

I am a few days late, but better late than never.  So, here goes:

I am thankful for my son. He means EVERYTHING to me. He has been through so much this summer.  He has dealt with judgment from sources who have no right to judge.  He will never get that from me.  That’s the beauty of unconditional love.

Carl Rogers encouraged us to embrace our children, faults and all (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014).  It is heartbreaking that not all parents understand this let alone employ it.  At a young age my child has been required to process one of the greatest rejections he may ever face.  However, he is becoming stronger for it.  He is excelling in school, and he is growing spiritually and personally.

Secondly is my husband.  I feel like I haven’t seen him much since I started the Ph.d. program in April, and even more so since I started back to work in August. He too has been through a lot recently.  He is one of the strongest people I know.  I only wish I could be that strong.  He is an awesome dad, too.   I love him more than he will ever understand or know.

Death is a part of life, and grief is a natural process that all humans must go through with the loss of a loved one (Stassen, 2016).  What is excruciating is watching someone navigate through that loss, feeling helpless and impotent.  That’s what I’ve been doing since July.  The loss of my father-in-law has changed everything for our lives.  As a result, my husband is much less carefree and has transformed to his very core.  Coming up on the first major holiday without his father will be especially difficult.  Still, I have no doubt his strength will win out.

I am thankful for my dad.  He taught me how to laugh. He taught me how to play the drums.  He taught me how to sing.  He introduced me to The Blues Brothers and Saturday Night Live in the 70’s.  We share a love of the same music.  He’s taught me more skills than I can possibly list.  He is an awesome grandfather, too!  My dad and I have an extremely similar thought process.  My mom often tells me that we react the same way to various situations and say the same things when presented with challenges.  We both share the commonality of road rage (LOL), but we also share a lot of endearing qualities.  He is truly one wild and crazy guy!

More to come 🙂

References

Hergenhahn, B. R., & Henley, T. B.  (2014).  An introduction to the history of psychology (7th

ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stassen Berger, Kathleen,  (2016).  Invitation to the Life Span (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  Worth.

Thankful Challenge: Day 24

The Don

10451848_10205205799138396_8661037064631316441_nToday I want to send thanksgiving to my Uncle Don. We lost too much time, but when we reconnected we formed a strong, close bond. From helping move until 5 a.m. to traveling with me to and from Southwestern Ohio, we’ve certainly had our fair share of adventure. I love you so much Uncle Don! Thanks for always bein’ there!

My uncle is pictured on the left. He is a good ol’ country boy. I wasn’t raised around him. My father’s family split in the 80’s and I didn’t find him until after I was married (1998). When the internet was in its infancy, we began chatting through Yahoo Messenger.

He and my aunt came to my house in Southwestern Ohio for my son’s 1st birthday. That was the first time I had seen him since I was a child. We talked almost every evening or when my son took naps. He as still working full-time and I was going to school.

When I divorced, he drove one of the Uhaul trucks. When I had to travel to pick up my son from visitation, he went with me. When I was sobbing at my house all by myself, he was online with me trying to comfort me. I won’t forget those acts of kindness.

Thanksgiving Challenge: Day 21

Evelyn

1779103_10202802296292327_2122406475_nToday I offer up thanks for my Aunt Evelyn. My childhood wouldn’t have been the same without her. She will be celebrating her 91st birthday in December.

She nor my aunt Kat ever married. They never had children. I was their child. My mother was their child. They devoted their lives to their jobs and to the church.

Evelyn has really struggled without Kat. They were inseparable and they lived together until Kat went into the nursing home. I’m sure it is much like losing a spouse. There is a void that cannot be filled by anything or anyone.

I am thankful that Evelyn is still with us and I see her at least once a week. I think it’s important that we take time to visit our elders. They are filled with knowledge and history. They are bound by a higher purpose to share that knowledge and that legacy with the next generation. So, by spending time with her, I help her fulfill that higher purpose.

Thankful Challenge: Day 20

Kathleen

1779753_10202802297452356_1281414486_nI am thankful for my Aunt Kat. She passed on, but I certainly haven’t forgotten her. I look forward to her visits while I’m dreaming and think about her all of the time. There are times when I catch her perfume on some of my clothing and it’s like she never left. I think about her every single day. Thanksgivings haven’t been the same without her.

Death is a part of life, but sometimes it is difficult for us to navigate through that sea of grief. Years can pass and at certain times, especially around the holidays, depression can creep up on us before we even realize it. None of the holidays have been the same without her.

I used to feel like that about my grandma, but I was a child when she left us. After that, my aunts and my grandpa kept our holidays together. Now, things are so different. And that makes me sad.

It’s hard to be thankful for bereavement, but it helps us realize we’re human. It also gives us something to look forward to. If you’re in the camp of the spiritualists, it tells you there is more beyond this world; a place where we can reunite with our loved ones. If you happen to be me, you don’t even have to wait. Those of us that are clairvoyant are visited constantly by not only our relatives, but many others who want to send messages or just feel that “human connection.”

If you’re not in the camp with us eclectic folks, I’m not sure how to explain death to you. When I was an atheist, I saw death as a permanent end. Not only was that a pretty dim point of view, but it had a tremendous impact on my mental health.

Either way you look at it, the loss of a loved one is painful and that is reiterated for us each day we go on without them. However, if we can look back on the good times with them, especially during the holidays, we may find comfort in their legacy. This woman left a legacy like no one else. She was a public servant and gave herself more than she had to. I miss her…