Act As If

There is a Barenaked Ladies song that has the line:

“I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral”

And lately I have learned more about what that means.

I can remember my mother (Virginia) giving me a dirty look at my Granny Casey’s funeral because I am a loud laugher and when I think something is funny, even at a funeral, I am likely to still laugh out loud.

Lately, I have had too many opportunities to laugh at funerals.

But I still have an urge to laugh.

I read a verse recently that resonated with me (as many do, the Bible says that the Word of God is alive and never returns void), and it said this:

“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…”   2 Corinthians 6:10

So many of us have so many reasons to be sorrowful. People die, husbands and wives leave, finances can sink, church can be stressful, and work can be a drag.  Life seems to get harder and harder and can seem so pointless….

But I am here to tell you…It can get better.  My dad always said, “Act As If, and you will become.”  I do not always feel like smiling. I do not always feel like doing what I do. But I get up, I act as if, and you know what?  It seems to get better.

I do not take life for granted anymore. After losing part of my sight, my Dad, my Father in law, and my Birth Mom, I know life is hard. But God is still good.  People argue over the silliest things, but I just want to tell them….”The days are long but the years are short”, and hug every person you can and be overly affectionate to those you love, and act like it’s the last time you might see them, because it might be.

And in the midst of this, God has made Himself known to me in ways that I am in awe of.

Here is one way: I had always had a fear that my birth mom would pass and I wouldn’t know until later. I had the privilege, instead, of being a part of her last few months in a big way (we had been friends since 1990 but the last few years, because of kids and time, had drifted apart).  He allowed me to be with her when Hospice came, allowed me to be a part of her last lucid day, and my family got to be part of it too.

That last day…yall, that last lucid day was wild.

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Chris, my birth mom, had been bedridden for 4 days, had nothing to eat, and had been catheterized and I had been called there because the hospice nurse didn’t think she was going to make it.

Then…the caregiver called me Saturday morning and said, “Guess who’s up?”  Chris had woken up, to HERSELF, early that morning, and the caregiver said that Chris was talking to the Lord, telling Him how pretty the gates were but she had more to do and see before He took her home, and it was on.

By the time I got there that morning (she lived 3 hours away), she was sitting in a chair, smoking (which she hadn’t done in 4 days) and was like a firecracker.

She was talking and gesticulating and PRAISING GOD!!  There were probably 20 people in and out of her house that day, all visiting and her laughing and talking and being who she always was, smiling in the midst of sorrow and pain and acting “As If.”

By the next morning, she was back in bed, barely responsive and not waking up as I said good bye.  Which was my final good bye.

By mid week, her pain was uncontrollable, and I made the decision to have her put into a 5 day hospice respite.  She struggled and was in so much pain, but by Sunday night, she was peaceful. I was worried, making plans to leave her there after the 5 days were up, but God always is on time, and she made her earthly exit and Heavenly entrance the day her respite care ran out, a year to the day that my dad passed away, and 14 years to the day that my beautiful stepfather Casey went to Heaven.

In her whole sickness, which began about October 2017 and ended February 13 of 2018, she told me that she was ready. She wasn’t acting “As If” telling me that. She was ready. She lived a tough life, people leaving and betraying and her love for animals consuming her days.

My birth mom loved life even when it was hard, and she discovered a new love for God through a loving church family, who loved on us after her death. She was unique and funny, and the stories they told made me laugh at her funeral.

Life is hard, and as we get older, it doesn’t get easier. But God gives us a strength that “surpasses our understanding” and He tells us that He is our Comforter and the Rock that is higher than we are. He is the reason I can act “As If”, because He gives me the strength to smile when I am crying, and laugh when I am mourning.  Samuel Beckett said, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”  And that is what I am going to do. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.

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when

IMG_1324Most people grow up with the people who created them.  They grow up with those people’s DNA in their makeup and do not question anything about who they are where they came from.

I have always questioned where I came from.

I was adopted at the age of 2 months old, by a couple who were imperfect but loved me perfectly.

I do not remember a time that I didn’t know I was adopted; I thought it made me super cool and special, that I was chosen, not just “born into” my family.  This was thanks to my adoptive mother, Virginia, who instilled in me a gratitude beyond measure for my birth mom’s sacrifice.  Because giving me up for adoption was a HUGE sacrifice.

Think about today.  Young girls get pregnant all the time, and most choose to raise their children, whether they are ready to or not.  Or the grandparents are raising their children, after they are finished with raising their own. Nowadays, it’s cool to keep your baby, whether it’s a good decision or not.  I am not judging…I cannot imagine how hard it is to be a single mom and try to raise your baby with everything you want them to have and to meet their needs.

But I am telling my story. My birth Mom, Christina Hunter Sachs Bewley, made that sacrifice.  After she found out she was pregnant, she told her parents while they were in Japan (where abortion was legal in 1970), and her mother immediately suggested terminating her pregnancy (me).  Her father, George, disagreed, and when they came back to the States, he paid for Chris to spend her last few gravid months at the Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers, where I was born.

I spent a few weeks with her there, then was put into foster care. From there, I was adopted by the Boshells through the Department of Human Resources and became a Boshell, through and through.  I am my parents’ daughter, and I am grateful for that.

I am also grateful for that woman who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving me a life that she could never have.

Chris did the right thing.  She did the HUGE RIGHT THING!  And when I was 19, I met this woman, who I look like and who I sound like and who I act like, a little. I always wanted to know who I looked like, but that always meant my birth mom, not birth dad (and we don’t know who that is so we are going to ignore him.)

I have been friends with my birth mom since 1990.  She adores me.  She adores my children.  She loves my family because they are mine.

Her life has been hard. Mental illness, addiction, job issues, home issues. But she is a fighter, an optimist, a perserverer. She loves hard. She gives much, more than she can afford usually.  She is quirky.  She says “Bow wow” at weird times, which my kids think is hilarious.

She is the one part of me that is my DNA.

And that matters.

I am not sure why. But it does.

My dad passed away in February of 2017, and my Father in Law in July of 2017. My health has betrayed me for the first time in my 47 years.

And now I am losing the one part of me that is ME.

My poor birth mom has a horrible cancer that is going to take her life. In November, we knew it was coming.  Now the wolf is at the door.

My devotion a few days ago said, “Sorrow, under the power of divine grace, performs various ministries in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths of the soul, and unknown capacities for suffering and service.  Lighthearted, frivolous people are always shallow and are never aware of their own meagerness or lack of depth. Sorrow is God’s tool to plow the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvest….

Sorrow makes us move more slowly and considerately and examine our motives and attitudes. It opens within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it makes us willing to set our capacities afloat on a limitless sea of service for God and for others.”  (Streams In the Desert).

I am not a sorrowful person, per se.  I laugh every day, and laugh inappropriately a lot, and I talk a lot about unimportant things.

But I am constantly aware of my….holes? loss? sorrow? hurt?

And now I face another, while living life day to day, laundry and carpool and sports and work, and I am so sad.

But I have to keep my face toward the sun. As a dear friend said today, “Get up and make your bed and just go live.” I might not make my bed, but I am going to go live. Because not everyone will get that choice.

Tradition!

As we approach a new holiday season, about 40 days long, I am thinking about traditions. Where do we meet to celebrate? What days do we pick for each family’s gathering?

And what happens when your lynchpin of those gatherings is no longer there to bring everyone together?

I saw Fiddler On the Roof several years ago onstage, and have watched the movie a few times. The opening montage is great, with the narrator speaking and singing of “TRADITION!!”  and showing and telling of the things that are expected and how to keep your balance.  How do you stay on the roof?  Balance with tradition!  He says, “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years.”

The narrator goes on to describe some traditions, and says he doesn’t know why they do them but they do.   Then he says this line:

“Because of tradition, everyone of us knows who he is and what God expects us to do.”

So I started thinking about this song as we approach the first Holiday season without the Patriarchs of our family.  Here is what Fiddler has to say about the “Papas”:

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?

The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.

The Papa.  Hubs and I have both lost our Papa, the lynchpins,  this year, and now we begin to learn how to celebrate without them.  And we are not the only ones with a new learning curve.

So how do we do tradition now?

I have some experience at this. Dad has not been a part of our family celebration for about 3 years, but we kept up the “tradition” of getting together with my family on Christmas Eve and being with Hub’s family on Christmas Day, which has worked really well the last 15 years.

This year…oh, this year, we are adrift. Our traditions have been rendered ineffective and the Papas who had the final word are no longer able to speak.

I am beginning to understand why some people so dislike the holidays.

As we try to figure out what we are going to do for the holidays and where we will be, I just remember that I am blessed to have my people who are still here.

Traditions are important, but don’t always last.

So we are making new traditions this year. We have a new baby in the family, and she has been a bright spot for us. We are still alive, which is always a plus.

After my stroke in January, I am grateful that I am able to continue my traditions without physical help from someone else.

I took my birth mom home from surgery and she was greeted at her door by her cute cats…I was greeted, when I got home, by my beautiful sons and husband, and that is one tradition that I will never get tired of.

So here’s the deal….

If you still have your mom, dad, grandparents, kids, friends to create traditions with, DO IT.

If you can hug someone, and tell them that you love them, DO IT.

If you can spend time with someone you love, DO IT.

And if you can’t…create a new Tradition. There is always someone who needs a hug, love and time out there. “What you do unto the least of these, you do unto ME”, Jesus said. Do it!!

Some would say that traditions are made to be broken.  This year, we are breaking new ground, and I am going to do it to honor those who have gone on before us.  I am going to pray that God allows me opportunities to bless those who aren’t as blessed as I am, and I am going to try to spend my minutes being glad that I am still here to make new traditions. You should too.

Speechless

I’ve written a dozen sentences in my head this past month.

About loss, death, sickness, grief.

No sentence or word that I have thought of has really clicked.

This has been a year of loss, for my family.  There have been 222 days so far, in 2017. That leaves 143 days for something else to happen.

On the 8th day of this year, I lost a quarter sized piece of my right field of vision (which was my own fault for not taking care of myself).

36 days later, I lost my father. I lost my dad. I lost the man who was my biggest critic but also my biggest supporter, the one who believed that I could do whatever he expected out of me, and never any less. The man who gave me a life and a name, the man that has influenced me more than any other.IMG_1007

And then, 162 days later, I (we) lost my husband’s dad, my father in law, a man that loved me as his own, treated me with kindness and love and patience and humor, who did for my family things like family vacations and dinners out. He attended every baseball game, every special event that my boys had, every church play or school awards ceremony, or Grandparent’s day….He was there.

Caboose had his awards day the same day as his cousins, and Roger sent Diane to theirs and stayed here for my boys….even when he was struggling for breath near the end, he always wanted to know about the boys games and lives.

These are the things that have been running through my mind the last few weeks. I thought I had a little longer with him. The last time I saw him, he was in a hospital bed, behind a big mask, but still asking about us, and wanting to know about our lives. When we got the call in the middle of the night that he was being put on a ventilator, I never dreamed that I would never be able to talk to him again.

I so want to talk to my husband’s dad again. I want to tell him how grateful I am for him. I want to tell him that his love for my boys is one of the greatest treasures in my life. I want to tell him that his pride in me makes me a better person.

I want to thank him for the many vacations he helped finance in making so many memories.

I want to thank him for my husband, who looks so much like his dad.

I want to thank him for being such a great public servant.

I want to tell him that every time I told someone who I was married to, that I made sure to mention who my father in law was.

I want to tell him how proud I was to be his daughter in law.

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My boys spoke at his funeral, all three of them, and so did my niece.  Caboose was last, and was so sweet; he said “I love my papaw Roger because he was a ….9   1   1 guy”.  He said it very slowly because he had a tendency to say “991” when he spoke fast.  All 3 of my boys spoke of the love Roger had for his job, him being the “911 guy”.

19 days after he’s left this earth, I am just missing these 2 men. I cannot believe that my husband and I have both lost the most important men in our lives within 5 months of each other. My dad was 82, Roger was 60 (how fair is that??)

But fairness has nothing to do with it.

Job says that it rains on the just and unjust alike. Habukkuk mentions empty stables and barren vineyards, and stills writes, “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful.”

I cannot believe what we’ve had to endure this year, but I know that my faith is in God.

I cannot believe that I am living this life without 2 of the most important men in it.

But I do know this…I will see them again. This world is not my home, and I will rejoice daily for the opportunity to tell others about the home they can have too.

God is good, even when life isn’t. And that will be enough. It has to be.

Still not that mom

We have been playing one sport or another for the last 11 months.  I think we had November off, 3 weeks with no practices to go to.

Baseball started in February before basketball was even over.

And now, it’s only a month till school starts, and we are still playing baseball. And I will have 3 children, at 3 different schools, with 3 different schedules, once August kicks in.

And I have to ask for forgiveness every day, and the Hubs gets more and more annoyed with me every day.

My fruit of the Spirit has shriveled up, and it really bothers me, but I seem to be unable to care enough to change it.

I am selfish. If I had to name my biggest flaw, evened out over my entire lifetime, selfishness is it.  And if I think hard about it, all of my faults extend from this one huge flaw; the yelling, the impatience, the annoyance with things that I don’t care about, all of that is about selfishness.

My middle, Monkey, loves baseball.  I really wish I did. There are parents on his team that go to every practice and actually stay there; I drop Monkey off and tell him his dad will be there to pick him up, because it is July in Alabama and eggs will fry on your car, man, eggs will FRY ON YOUR CAR.

So I complain….A LOT.  I have tried to keep it to a minimum, but have decided the only way to really rein it in, is to not go to the games or practices, and just text his dad to find out how it’s going, and we all seem to be happier that way.

And I totally admire the parents who make the effort and love being there, and are in it for real, and then I really feel bad, and then I get mad because I feel bad and doggone it, I am selfish and do not want to be outside sweating and stressed at his games.

So I had a conversation with my mom, who says, “you are doing this to yourself.” Um, no, Monkey has done this to me.  She said, “No…you can choose not to go, or participate, Hubs will do what is necessary, and if he doesn’t, then he will figure it out.”

This blew my mind.

I have to do this baseball thing, right?

I will be judged by other moms and families if I don’t, right?

My mom said, “So what? You are you, and the stress this causes you is what you do to yourself.  Same with your house.  You always apologize about the mess when I come over; if you really cared about the mess, you would care enough to do something about it. Own it, admit it, I don’t care about it, and stop stressing.”

WOW.  She is totally right. I am not the person who is ever going to have a super neat and “everything is in its place” house.  Ever.  Never have, Never will. Because there is always something I would rather be doing.  Reading a book.  Reading Facebook.  Playing a game. Hanging out with the kids. Napping.

So what if I decide to not go to the big World Series? Weatherman does not want to go, and Monkey says he doesn’t care if I am there or not.  I played volleyball in high school, and my parents came to maybe one game per season, and they came when we won state my junior year; otherwise, I knew they had lives outside of mine, and really didn’t care if they were there or not.  My dad worked so I could play ball, and have a car, and have a life that was pretty comfortable.

Will middle son mind if I am not there?  His dad is ready for me to stay home, because even though I think I am pretty funny with my “not a baseball mom” comments, he’s not getting my humor.  Don’t get me wrong….I LOVE MY SON.  I would jump in front of a train for him, take a bullet for him, but do not want to sit in what I have been told is the hottest place in the south for him. And even more, do I want to face his dad all weekend if I complain all weekend?

Does this make me a bad mom, and should I care if others think that?

My parents’ lives never revolved around me.  I found rides home from volleyball practice or I wouldn’t have been playing. My dad decided what we did and where we went.  This is hard for me, to let my child’s schedule dictate my life, and I am not sure if that’s all due to my selfishness.

So if you don’t see me at the World Series, know that I decided to be selfish, and if I am there, well, I will give Hubs some earplugs so he doesn’t have to hear my complaining. And I will not apologize for either.

 

 

Step Up

We celebrated my Granddaddy’s 91st birthday today.  There were several people there, and several missing, but it was a great day.

But here’s the deal.

He’s not my real Granddaddy.  I do not like when people use the word “real” to describe relationships; “real dad”, “real mom”, “real grandparents”.

As an adoptee, I use the word “birth” parent, not real parent.  I use “adoptive” parent, not another description.

But back to my granddaddy.

There are a lot of “step” parents out there, so therefore there are a lot of “step” grandparents.

Do you “step” grandparents know what power you have?

You have the power of belonging. You have the power of love, of inclusion, of giving a child a family they didn’t have before.

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Step grandparents are “REAL” grandparents, trust me.  I know.

Mine became my grandparents when I was 9 years old, and they have never treated me any differently that before.

My “step” father was just about as good a dad to me as my dad was.  My “step” dad’s family treated me just like I belonged to them, and I have never felt unwanted or unloved.

So my Granddaddy, who is my “step”mother’s dad, has Alzheimer’s and it is a getting much worse. I remember when I first realized that it was happening, about 13 years ago, when I heard him use a curse word which would have never passed his lips before.

My “Step”granddaddy has Alzheimer’s but let me tell you one thing…He ALWAYS remembers my name.  He looked at me Sunday, on his birthday, and said, “Tina, are you leaving?”

“Yep, Granddaddy, I’ve got to go.”IMG_1099.PNG

He said, “Well, you know you can come back, I’ll be here.”

I hope so, Granddaddy.  I told my mom (“STEP” mom) yesterday that I believe I will miss my Granddaddy more than I miss my dad at this point…Grandddaddy still talks and laughs, and knows who I am.  What in the world will we do when he’s gone.

“I was the last of 16 children, Momma looked at Daddy after I was born and said, “Jim, I think I am done.”

See, all you “STEP” parents out there….you have the ability to STEP up or step down, but I challenge you to step up to make a difference in your child’s life.  My STEP’s did.

Just keep going

Have you ever wanted to just stay in bed, not do anything but watch Netflix or sleep or just lay there?

Yeah, me neither.

Seriously, though.  I was living life. Working. Churching. Momming. Wifing. Probably not doing a great job at any of them, but things got done and kept moving.

We get very caught up in the day to day, don’t we?

This year has been the year that I have wanted to just say, “Okay, I am done, I just want to sit on the sidelines and watch and not participate.” This year has been HARD.

In January I had a stroke, and in February my dad died.

I have started this post more times than I can count.  In 2013, I wrote about starting and not stopping.  I did okay for awhile.  I lost 97 pounds, exercised every day, took a diet pill for 8 months, and basically got myself under control.  I got cocky and braggy and thought, “Hey, I got this, I have lost weight and I will NEVER gain it back and I am going to lose even more and I will be in CHARGE of my life.”

Then a parent got sick.

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If you have followed my blog, you know that in 2013, my dad was diagnosed with a horrible form of dementia, and I went off the tracks.  For those who have never dealt with any sort of addiction, it’s hard to describe how insidious it begins.  “Oh, I will just have this and it will be okay.”

“Oh, I can have this, I will buy this, but I won’t eat it.”

And then I stopped the diet pill, and then it was like, BAMMM.

My dad was put into assisted living and my boys had lives and I had a life and we were busy, and the next stinking thing I know, I have gained back every stupid pound I had lost.

I can tell you this, reader, because I can’t flipping hide it, can I?  The Bible talks about secret sin, but us heavy people who are Christians, we can’t hide our stupid sin, like all the gossipers, the enviers and the mean people, oh, wait, mean people don’t hide their sin well either.

Romans 7:15 and beyond says:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

So why can’t I get a grip on my sin???

I am writing this because I know that there are those out there just like me.  I am struggling.  I have struggled all my life.  But once I accepted Christ, that struggle has been shared with Him.

Once again, my choices are about life and death. I had a stroke 4 months ago.  I can still brush my own teeth, walk, talk and perform personal hygiene.  Do you think that’s a wake up call?  So life and death.  I now have 5 different doctors. FIVE.  I now take 5 pills a day, I had to buy an old lady pill box because I got tired of opening pill bottles.

Choice.  Life or death.  Walking or limping. Speaking or slurring.  I got real serious about my health then, and started seeing all sorts of doctors and taking 5 pills a day, and started exercising again and talking a good fight…

Then my dad died. The man that helped make me who I am, and the man I loved and admired and got frustrated with…died.

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I lost myself for a few weeks.  I quit. I couldn’t function.  But one morning, God used 2 women to get me out of my funk, and I have been getting closer to the light ever since.

So  I am blogging again about my weight struggle.  Because it’s time.  And I try to be honest with people. And because I need to vent.  And because life is hard and I can’t eat every time I get stressed or I will lose so much of what I want.

Do you feel like you are out of control sometimes? Me too.  Do you want to give up? Me too.  Do you still get up every morning? Me too.  Is this life harder than we want it to be?  Yep.

I am going to take a step from AA.  Just for today, I can do this. Just for today, I will not eat  a French fry.  Just for today, I will walk a mile, even if it takes me an hour and if I were behind me in a car I would be cussing me out.  Just for today, I can do this.  I will fail, I am sure, but just for today, I will do what I can.

Life has come at me fast for a while.  I cannot excuse the position in which I find myself.  We are totally responsible for our choices. For today, I choose to live.  I have to. And I hope you will too.