Silence is Not Always Golden

SilenceMaybe it was his upbringing. His alcoholic dad. His parent’s divorce. Maybe it was WWII. Maybe it was the so-called friend who sold his cabinet shop while he was fighting the war. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Whatever it was, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure it all out. Like: why did he just sit and stare? What was he thinking about? What did he see?

He was a good man. Didn’t drink. Didn’t cuss. Didn’t scream and yell and never, ever lost his cool. He was gentle and quiet and patient and sometimes extremely funny. Yet, I was afraid of him. Afraid of doing something wrong. Afraid of his scornful frown. Afraid of making too much noise, of asking too many questions, of sitting on his lap and hugging his neck. Afraid of his cold, stark, overpowering, confusing, excessive silence.

I concluded that my dad didn’t love me; that I was stupid and ugly. So, to protect my sensitive, fragile emotions, I decided that I didn’t need him and gradually built a wall between us. By the time I became a teen, I terribly resented and rebelled against my dad. That, along with my dad’s laziness about working a regular job, my mother working three jobs and flying off the handle every other day, our house became a war zone.

Sadly, between the wall I built, and my misguided conclusions, I blamed our shattered, dysfunctional lives all on my dad.

If I had the chance to do it over again, I would sit on his lap, hug his neck and tell him how much I love him. I would understand that the war shattered his soul and that silence was his haven. I would encourage him to talk to me, to share his thoughts with me, and tell me what he’s feeling. I’d see my dad as a pillar of strength instead of the weakling I made him out to be. I would hold his hand and tell him how proud I am of him and that I love him just the way he is.

Through years of counseling and healing I now realize that not everyone is capable of loving us the way we want to be loved. Not everyone can meet all our needs. We are all human, and we are all a product of the environment in which we were raised. We all have a responsibility to work through our troubling pasts.

I thank God for opening my eyes, for healing my shattered heart, and helping me to forgive and move on with my life. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

 

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

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In today’s hectic world of computers, cell phones, and video games, we have a tendency to ignore the ones sitting in the same room with us. The ones who want a real, eyeball to eyeball conversation. The ones who need to know that we value their thoughts and concerns. The ones who want to scream, “Will you PLEASE shut that thing off and pay attention to me?!”

People need encouragement today more than ever before. Just a smile, a hug, a phone call, a genuine, “How is your day going today?” is food for the starving soul.

I’d been going through a tough time; a time of uncertainty, anger and grief. Finally, I shared it with a dear friend who gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. That was all I needed to get me back on track; to refocus and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It doesn’t cost a cent for you to stop, look, and listen to another human being sitting in the same room with you. All you have to do is put down your smarthone long enough to see them and listen to what they have to say. It could mean all the world to them.

Nursing Homes Make Me Sad

What started yesterday as a quiet, peaceful visit at the nursing home with my sister-in-law, Pat, ended in a heated confrontation with the social worker. I understand that people are in nursing homes for various reasons and that the facility is understaffed and for the most part, doing the best they can.

But, c’om on. Two people sharing one tiny room divided by a flimsy curtain and four people sharing one bathroom really makes my blood boil. It’s a wonder the residents don’t end up killing each other.

And Pat has had here share of less than enjoyable roommates with their loud TV’s and moaning and groaning all hours of the day and night. But they were darling little pussy cats compared to this roommate.

To get to Pat’s side of the room, visitors have to walk through her roommates space. I wouldn’t like that, either. But it is what it is. So as my husband, Buck and I tip towed past the roommate sitting in her wheelchair, she shot us a glaring, drop dead look. But she’s old. That’s what miserable old people do. So we brushed it off with a smile.

About thirty minutes into our visit, the roommate sped out of the room and down the hall telling the nurses we were threatening to kill somebody! A nurse came rushing in, rolled her eyes and left. Moments later, the roommate parked outside the door shaking her bony finger at my husband and yelling, “You have no business in here! Get out and take that woman (me) with you!”

Obviously, she has problems, and I’m sorry for her. But, my concern is for Pat’s safety and emotional well-being.

So like a banty rooster, I wheeled Pat to the social worker’s office and plead my case. Her solution was moving Pat to another room. My argument was: Pat was there first. She likes it there. And she’s not the one causing the problem, so she shouldn’t be the one having to move.

But that’s our regulations, she said.

Well, your regulations are stupid, I said.

Feeling anxious and defeated, I wheeled Pat back to her room and sat on the edge of her bed, comforting her and trying to get my racing heart to slow down.

Things worked out in the end. The social worker came in and talked to us, helping us to understand and suggesting other visiting options. Pat got to keep her room and her roommate was placed in another room. Maybe the sun will shine brighter for her there. I hope so for her and her roommates sake.

 

 

 

Fallen Angels in Disguise

The scariest part about the pain shooting from my butt all the way down my leg was the long, bumpy ride to the hospital. Hubby wanted to drive me, but my pea brain thought I’d get quicker and better service if I was taken by ambulance.

Twenty long, agonizing minutes later, we arrived at the ER.

And there they were. My loving, compassionate angels of mercy waiting to cover me with warm, fuzzy blankets and whisk me away to a happy, sunshiny room and pump me full of painkillers. No waiting for my number to be called. No crying and begging and pleading for help.

And there’s my room. My sad, cold and lonely little room where I was wheeled on a bed of nails and left writhing in pain to freeze to death.

Where are my people? My angels of mercy? My warm blankets? My painkillers?

The only comfort in my cold and lonely prison cell was my husband’s reassuring voice, his warm hands and big soulful eyes.

Finally, like Mary Poppins, a nurse sweeps into my room asking questions, filling out forms, talking and laughing and convincing me he can magically make the pain disappear.

Then poof! He was gone! No I’ll be back in a minute to fluff your pillow, to hold your hand, or to bring a magic potion for your pain. Not even a kiss good-bye.

It’s my fault. Maybe I should have cried and moaned and groaned instead of laughing and cracking jokes. I even told him about the time I got sprayed by a baby skunk. I’m crazy that way. I try too hard comforting others and pretending I’m okay when I’m not okay. Don’t cry. Don’t moan and groan. Don’t let anyone know how much it hurts. They don’t care anyway.

So there I lay, writhing silently in pain wishing someone would just cut off my head and be done with it!

My husband tired to be patient and understanding with the ER doctors and nurses, but he couldn’t take it anymore, especially when they were all sitting at the nurses station having a grand time doing nothing. He’s a big man. A Navy man. He knows how to fight. He knows how to intimidate. He knows how to get the job done!

I don’t know what he did or said and I don’t care, but within seconds it seemed that every nurse in the ER was in my room, their faces bearing the look of death. Moments later an absent-minded X-ray technician rushed in, hurriedly got me out of bed then flew out the door and down the hall leaving me limping a mile behind. Suddenly, as if remembering to pick up his kids from school, he stops, spins around and says, “Oh! Do you need a wheelchair?”

And my brain screamed: Are you kidding me? I needed a wheelchair when you broke my back jerking me off the bed! But that’s okay. I’m fine. I just came to the ER because I was bored and had nothing else to do. Keep going. I’ll catch up . . . eventually.

As if torturing me with the first set of pictures wasn’t enough for him, he rushed back into my room for more!

Only this time it worse. Much worse! Wheeling his X-ray machine beside my bed, the  technician told me to lift my rear then he shoved a board under me. That’s when I died and went to Hell! That’s when ferocious demons ripped my flesh apart and began eating me alive. That’s when I cried. No. That’s when I bawled like a baby! When I squealed like a slaughtered pig! When I screamed like a burning witch!

I almost felt sorry for the technician as he hurried frantically to get the pictures he needed. He was a nice guy doing the best he could and trying to inflict as little pain as possible. And I was an angry, hurting old woman doing the best I could to keep from knocking his teeth out!

Then, like a hit and run driver, everyone left my tortured, mangled body writhing on my prickly bed of thorns to slowly bleed to death.

Another hour crawled by before a nurse came back into my room. That Mary Poppins nurse. The one smiling as big as Texas the moment I arrived and crossed his heart and hoped to die that he’d make the pain disappear. So you can imagine my disappointment when he gave me a little lonely pill in a little plastic cup saying, “Chew it up. It’ll work faster.”

I chewed it up and swallowed the bitter potion and waited for the miracle to happen. It never did.

From another room I heard a man’s pitiful moans for help. All he got in return was an exasperated, “Take a deep breath!”

The X-ray technician returned and as if telling me I’d just won the lottery he blurted excitedly, “No broken bones!”

A few minutes later, Mary Poppins came back in and jammed a needle the size of a drinking straw in my hip. It’ll ease the pain, he said. He lied!

Finally, feeling like I’d spent six months in Hell, I was released with more pain than when I arrived.

Down the hall I limped arm in am with my husband. No wheelchair. No help for the pain. No hope for the future. No promise that the sun will ever shine for me again.

But wait! Hell’s fury wasn’t finished with me yet. Moments after my husband helped me in a nearby chair before leaving to get the car, an amazon woman wearing a frighteningly unfriendly scowl told me to get up because someone else needed to sit there!

Back home at last, even the strongest pain relievers the doctor could prescribe didn’t touch the pain. My stubborn, ruptured disc refused to be comforted. So for two long months I had to ride it out wondering if I would ever stop hurting. But I did.

What I learned that day in the ER:
If you’re not having a heart attack or bleeding to death, take the car
If you’re in pain, suck it up
If you’re in a hurry, stay home
If you want special treatment, go to the spa
If you want amusement, go to Disneyland. It’s cheaper!

 

Retired and Glad of it!

I should be painting the bathroom. I should be cleaning the kitchen, and sweeping and mopping our new vinyl floors. I should be folding the laundry piled in the laundry basket. Instead, I’m sitting here at the computer goofing off.

And that’s okay cause I don’t have to punch a time clock. I don’t have to please a boss. I don’t even have to get dressed if I don’t want to. I’m retired. I’m my own boss. Even hubby’s boss. Okay, that’s stretching it a bit.

Twenty years ago, I never gave retirement a second thought and hardly dreamed it would sneak up on me so fast. But here I am. Retired eleven years, now. How time flies when you’re having fun.

Of course, I don’t just lay around all day doing nothing. I like staying busy. I like being spontaneous. I like driving my husband nuts re-arranging furniture and organizing closets and kitchen cabinets and putting things away and forgetting where I put them. But we have all the time in the world to look for them. It’s just a little inconvenient. And annoying.

Anyway, I can honestly say I like retirement. I’m so happy to finally be free to do as I please when I please and not feel guilty. I’ve earned this gold star and I like it!

 

It’s Too Peopley Out There

It probably began when the doctor yanked me from my mother’s womb and slapped my scrawny bare butt. Or maybe when my dad dropped me on my head. Come to think of it, first grade was no skip in the woods, either.

It doesn’t really matter when or why it all began. What does matter is how terribly it has affected my entire life.

I mean, why did I have to sit in that stupid circle of kids every day? Wasn’t it bad enough sitting at my desk feeling lonely and afraid? And why did I have to read out loud? Why did I feel like I had two heads and a big fat wart on my nose? Why? Why? Why?

Public work wasn’t much better, either. Paranoia, like a playground bully made me feel suspicious, angry and hostile. I’d tell myself to calm down that it only feels like I’m under attack. But my addled brain wouldn’t buy it. No matter how hard I reasoned with myself, the pain was real. The anxiety was real. The panic was real. The I’m gonna quit and never come back was real.

Years, and years, and years I tried and failed at being normal. So I started pretending. I pretended that I wasn’t angry when I wanted to punch someone in the face. I pretended that I didn’t hurt when I was hemorrhaging inside. I pretended to be happy when I wanted to bawl my eyes out. Why? Because no one would like me if they really knew me. And because being vulnerable was like having a death wish.

Pretending worked until it didn’t anymore. Until that last straw that broke the camel’s back. Until all those inner demons had no place else to go but out.

Thankfully, God was there and saved me from the near fatal wreckage. Don’t ask me how He did it. He just did. We all experience God in different ways. I just know that I called on Him and He was there and changed my life forever.

It’s been a long, painful journey of learning and trusting and relying on God to fix me. Sometimes it’s a mountain top experience, sometimes it’s like crawling naked through a brier patch. But, when I let go of the reigns and hand them over to Him, He gives me strength. He gives me hope. He gives me peace. He helps me stay on track. I can’t do life without Him.

This is what God has and continues teaching me:
I’m not perfect
I can’t fix everything
I can’t always be in control
I can’t please everyone
I don’t have to like everyone
I have a God-given right to defend myself
I stopped allowing people to manipulate and use me
It’s okay to be me
God loves me just the way I am but encourages me to be more like Him

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you ~ 1 Peter 6,7

 

 

 

 

Teacher From Hell

We’ve all had at least one, that teacher that made a career of belittling their students in front of the class. We were kids. We were taught to obey authority. So we didn’t fight back.

Then there was Eugene.

Every day, for no reason at all, Mr Savage, a dark-haired short little man with a great big fat ego, punched Eugene on the shoulder. Maybe he didn’t like the way he sat in his chair or that he wore glasses or had curly hair and a Robert Mitchum dimple in his chin. Maybe he didn’t like that Eugene was bigger and smarter and better looking than he was. Or maybe it’s just that Mr Savage had to live up to his name by terrorizing his seventh-grade students.

One day, Mr Savage was extra mean. I don’t know what Eugene did, but Mr Savage marched over to his desk and plowed his fist into Eugene’s shoulder nearly knocking him out of his chair.

Suddenly, as if waking a sleeping lion, Eugene jumped up, shook his fist in Mr Savage’s face and snarled, “Now, hit me again!”

And sitting dumbfounded across from him, my insides were yelling, “Yeah! And that goes for me too!”

He must have heard me because Mr Savage laid off Eugene and started bullying me.

Every day Mr Savage singled me out, asking me questions hoping I’d give the wrong answer so that he and everyone else could roll with laughter. And every day I just sat there clenching my jaw and shooting green-eyed daggers through his heart.

My you-can’t-make-me stubbornness didn’t sit well with him. So one day while the students and teachers were lined up to go to their classrooms, Mr Savage marched over to me and snarled sarcastically, “What’s the matter with your mother? Is she an invalid or something?”

Dumbstruck and wondering what the heck invalid meant, I blurted, “Yes sir, she’s in a wheelchair.”

Suddenly, as if I’d punched him in the nose he spun around, tucked his tail between his legs and practically ran into the classroom and slammed the door behind him before I could explain.

I didn’t know Mr Savage had written my parents requesting a conference with them because I was failing Social Studies. It wasn’t until much later I discovered that daddy wrote back telling him about mom’s back injury and that if he wanted to talk to them he’d have to come to the house.

God was my hero that day. He grabbed the savage beast by the horns and gave him a swift kick in the butt. And from that day forth, Mr Savage never ever bothered me again.

Yes, I failed Social Studies. But Mr Savage just plain failed. He failed at teaching. He failed at having compassion and wisdom and understanding. Rather than building us up and helping us learn he beat us down to the ground. So I give him and every teacher like him a big fat F!

“Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.” Psalm 7:15,16 NIV

 

Never on a Sunday!

I was always told growing up that you don’t work on Sunday’s. You get up, you go to church, you go back home, you eat dinner with the family and sit and twiddle your thumbs all day till time to go back to church that evening. Heaven forbid you mow your grass or wash your car or hang your clothes on the line for the whole world to see. What kind of Christian does that?

But I’m a big girl now. I have the freedom to choose for myself what’s right and wrong. Besides, times have changed; not that God is too old-fashioned, but that I view things differently now that I’m older. Still, those deeply ingrained values of yesterday keep tugging at my heartstrings today.

But we’ve got this renovation thing going on and our house is a wreck and our lives are turned upside down and we’ve been slaving for months and we’re old and worn out and want to get finished before we roll over and die! So yes, we worked on Sunday.

And guess what? The roof didn’t cave in on us and the walls are still standing, and we didn’t fall through the floor. We did need a marriage counselor, though. Hubby yelled at me for burning his hands with the hair dryer while heating the linoleum, and I yelled even louder at him for yelling at me and jerking the hair dryer out of my hand. I stormed off into the bedroom, slammed the door and didn’t come back out till I became human again. But we’re okay now. Hubby’s nose stopped bleeding and I don’t see double anymore.

All jokes aside, pulling up three layers of glued-to-stay down-forever linoleum in our tiny laundry room has been a pain. Number one, hubby’s a big man with PTSD and claustrophobia and thinks he’s gonna die of a heat stroke if he gets too hot.  And the only way to make the job easier and faster was to heat the linoleum with a hair dryer. Number two, I’m just plain crazy and twisted when I get too stressed out.

In all fairness to us both though, we’re not just taking up linoleum and laying new flooring. We had to replace a rotten board due to water damage. We also painted the walls and cabinets and moved the dryer into the dining room. And today we’ll move the kitchen cabinet out so we can finish painting and pulling up linoleum.

Conclusion: I think our Sunday working days are over.

Click on any picture to enlarge or to begin slideshow.

Click on the following links to join us in our house-renovation-journey:
https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/05/24/golden-years-where-are-you/
https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/07/10/two-old-people-and-a-hand-truck/
https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/06/11/blood-sweat-and-tears/
https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/10/21/were-getting-there/
https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/08/15/look-whats-happening-behind-my-back/

 

We’re Getting There!

It seemed so simple. All we had to do is pull up the carpet, install the vinyl plank boards and within a few short weeks we’ll have all new floors and all the furniture, all the odds and ends, all the chaotic, disorganized mess cleaned up and back where it goes. No problem. We got this. A short walk around the block.

Then a ruthless somebody woke me up!

Six long backbreaking, nerve-wracking, feet-stomping, hair-raising months later and we’re still trudging that short walk around the block.

But, we’re closer than we were. We can finally see daylight at the end of the tunnel. Okay, we can see something flickering a hundred miles through the tunnel. Maybe it’s daylight. Maybe it’s just a mirage. Whatever it is, we can see it.
https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/07/10/two-old-people-and-a-hand-truck/

Our survival methods:

1. We soon discovered that our bodies aren’t what they used to be so we took breaks. Lots and lots of breaks. Some times hour long breaks. Sometimes day long breaks, other times week-long breaks.

2. I cried a lot, got angry and frustrated a lot. I felt overwhelmed, over tired, over stressed a lot. I felt like giving up and renting a motel room till the stupid floors were finished. I decided to talk to God instead. And, duh, that’s when everything started falling into place. A heavy burden lifted off my shoulders and I can now walk past the mess in every room without screaming bloody murder. It still bothers me, but not like it did.

3. We quit at suppertime. We enjoy eating and watching Netflix together in the den. So that’s when we quit for the day. That is our happy hour together.

4. We take time out to spend with family and friends. That is our playtime together.

5. We’ve learned to take each day as it comes, do what we can, know when it’s time to quit and when to get back at it again.

Today, we are going to do the washroom. It’s tiny, but there’s a lot to do in there. We have to move the washer and dryer and the cabinet (my dad made it for my mother back in 1950 something. I am going to repaint it, change out the hardware and refinish the butcher block top as soon as I can), and pull up the three layers of tile. Oh, and I have to paint the walls, too. FUN! I will paint the cabinets later.

 

 

 

 

Jesus Calling

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer, an elderly friend going through the same fear and uncertainties suggested that I read a devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. That was seven years ago. I read it through every year and discover something new each and every time.

Jesus calls us to trust and believe in Him, to stop trying to figure everything out and fixing everything that is broken. He calls us to lay down our heavy burdens, to lift our drooping shoulders, to pick up our plodding feet and stroll arm in arm down the rugged path with Him. He calls us to sit and chat with Him and cling to His every word like a bright-eyed eager child.

I wish I could say I always jump right up when He calls me, that I never throw in the towel, never sit in a corner crying my eyes out and wishing things were different. I wish I could say I never run away when He calls, that I never pout when life doesn’t go my way, that I never pace the floor wringing my hands in despair.

Yet, in spite of all of my human efforts to be good, He never gives up on me when I’m not. He never shakes His finger in my face, never turns His back, never says I told you so when I run back crying in His arms.

Jesus calling. What a soothing, comforting voice to hear when I’m lost, angry and confused. When voices in my head are yelling and screaming. When my heart is burning with rage. When I feel as worthless as a rag doll tossed in the trash. What joy in knowing that through the darkest, fiercest storm that crashes through my world, He is always there, always grasping my hand, always calling me to press closer to Him where I am forever safe and sound.

Jesus Calling. May I never turn a deaf ear to His tender, pleading voice.

My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).