Not a Part of the Plan.

Ask Miss Know it All:

Wrote this almost 4 years ago. Nothing much has changed except I’ve done more things I never thought I’d do..

Originally posted on Thinking Inside My Box:

My life’s not turning out the way I thought it would. Tonight I cleaned my two year old’s poop from the bottom of my favorite running shoes (I don’t run but I still love them). And while on a mountain bike trip last weekend, I let a guy carry my bike for me. Twenty years ago, I would have said those two things were never going to happen to me.

I unpacked my bike trip bag today. I’ve been back for 6 days. The bag has been sitting on my couch this whole time. It taunts me as if to say, “You’re back now, get over it. Go make some dinner. Go do some laundry. Make some lunches. Go clean up baby poop.” I’m not one of those people who puts things away. Never have been. Not one of my strong suits. I’m not sure what my strong suits are but putting things…

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How to Have a Good Death.

Originally posted on Thinking Inside My Box:

Death Valley Sand Dunes

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Rainy Reflecting, Ruminating, Reminiscing, Remembering & Recollecting.

great  rain skirt

great rain skirt (Photo credit: gregglesworth)

It’s funny how a little rain and a few clouds can bring out the mom stuff for me. Couple that with the “Mother’s Day” cards at the card shop and you’ve got a full-blown, “Oh yeah, my mom is dead. I don’t need to buy one of these.” There my darling is the silver lining.

It wasn’t one of those ho-hum days in fact it was a good day. But the rain and the cards and oh yeah, something about Laundromats always remind me of my mom. I can picture my mom looking for quarters to do her laundry. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t but I can picture it. So, this morning with the rain falling silently and steadily, I put my dead-mom necklace on. The one that has some of her ashes. I know I know. You’re thinking, “Wow. Ashes huh? That’s odd.”But it doesn’t feel odd. I don’t know what my mom would have thought about it. I guess it doesn’t matter because she’s not the boss of me anymore.

So take all that; the weather, the necklace, the mother’s day cards and you throw in a little Barbra Streisand on the Pandora and you have a full-blown yep this is how it feels to miss your mom. And for those of you that are new to the Cheri Show, it’s not really so much the death that I mourn it’s the crap way before that.

It’s the day of Columbine that left so many parents crying in their sleep for the rest of their waking days. It’s the day my mom, at 49, had a stroke that ultimately would put her in the position to have her diaper changed and her life decided for her. Yep. It was as sucky as it sounds. To have someone a lot like me (minus the mountain bike) not feel well and then end up in a wheelchair…well I’ll come out and say it, that just kind of sucks.

I know you think I can always find a silver lining but sometimes there is none. And in case you are wondering, my mom was not like the person in the made for TV movie that becomes a paraplegic but still ends up on the other side of the mountain with a medal around their neck. Not everyone lives that life. Sometimes shit happens and then more shit happens and the next thing you know, life hasn’t turned out quite like you thought.

Why now you wonder. Why bring this up now. I want to share because I think you think that I always think things are great (and yes, I meant to do that).

I hope you reach out to all the mothers you know and wish them the best and thank them for all the rest. Remember that sometimes there are no do-overs in life. So make this one count.

Song for tonight on this rainy and chilly night: ‘Moon River’ by Barbra Streisand.

How to Have a Good Death.

Death Valley Sand Dunes

It’s that time of year. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. My mom’s dead-iversary. I know you’ve never heard of that word before. I made it up. It should come as zero surprise to you that I am going to write about her and about it. I can’t help it. It gets it out of my head. And into yours.

I told my sister to stay away from my blogs for a few days. They make her cry. And she doesn’t need any help with that today. She should stick with happy things like rainbows, flowers, hearts and the comics.

Death is as they say the one thing we can count on. Really. I know it’s hard to look at it. To think of your kids sitting next to your dying body. Knowing they will never talk to you again. See you again. Hear your “I love you’s” again. I know. I get it. Believe me.

Everyone who has been through it has a different take on it. Some people say they are glad their parent died suddenly. Others feel the opposite. I kinda think you only know what you know. Unless both parents have died in two different ways; then you know both ways. But for me I only know the I’ve got cancer and I’m going to die in the near future way. In my mom’s case, it was the very near future. Four months.

I am glad I had that time. It went by fast and there are things I wish I’d done differently. But since it’s like I said above, there are no do-overs, I try to let it go.

The funny thing is that when you know you are dying, you can plan all you want. But the people you leave behind, those are the ones really getting it done. Making sure your needs are met. Their needs are met. And six years later, I’d say we did a good job. It was a good death. As far as death goes. When my mom died, she lived in one of those assisted living places. At sub sixty, she was the youngest person in the place. I think she was popular. That’s how it seemed. Everyone had a story about her. And as she lay dying, they call traipsed in to say goodbye to the youngest girl in the place.

And after all the inmates said goodbye and after the close family members said goodbye, I feel like we locked the door as if to say, it’s our turn now. It was me, my sister, my mom’s best friend, my grandma and of course my mom. Three generations of women. Saying goodbye to one of our own. The middle piece of our family puzzle and truly the piece that held us all together. And if I close my eyes and still my breath, I can feel what I felt and smell what I smelled. Dying was in the room. And death was ready to take over where we were leaving off.

I am convinced that some people like to die when things are quiet. When all the stories have been told. When all of the I love you’s have been said. It’s like they don’t want to interrupt something so they wait for a pause. And in the room with all of us women just sitting and listening and crying and laughing, it was a good time for her to have her good death. With all of our babies off somewhere else sleeping, it was time for her to say goodbye to her babies. And to her mom. And her best friend.

Without a doubt in my mind, it was a good death for her. All of us. Sitting and being with her. No more expectations. No more chores to do. No more raising anyone else but her own self into the next part of her plan. She was done. And we were as ready as we were gonna be.

It’s never easy saying goodbye. But if you’re real lucky, you’ll have the right people around you. And you’ll have the death you want. Here’s to you and to her and to everyone. May we all have a good death.

I See Dead People Everywhere I Go.

laura

laura (Photo credit: Marika Belfiori)

I’m here in sunny Southern California but it’s not very sunny right now. It’s rainy and chilly and the power was out this morning. But there are three CHP’s (California Highway Patrol) (think CHIPS) right outside the coffee shop so at least I’m safe. I aways think of CHIPS when I see officers on bikes here. But so far no one is even close to Ponch or John.

I must be thinking of dead people a lot. I know I am. In two more days, it’s my mom’s dead-iversary. I’m sure I’ll write about it. That sounds like me.

I love vacations for lots of reasons. Unlimited time. No schedules. My kids can sleep in. I get to be with my husband 24/7, except for when I am at the coffee shop. Which I must admit is about 1.5 hours a day. What? Everyone else is sleeping. Plus, I’ve got to ramp up. For Disneyland.

But I think my brain gets cleared. No mail to check. No dog to feed. No driving to school. No wondering what to make for lunch. Or breakfast. Or dinner. And so it’s like my brain can go elsewhere in the memory bank. Remember. Ponder. Wallow.

Last night I had a dream that my friend Laura, who by the way, is dead in real life, opened a small cafe. She needed money and was looking for backers. I happened up on her as she was sitting on the edge of a creek. She was on the phone to her grandmother, talking about her cafe and her daughter. In real life she had two boys but it’s my dream and it must be like it’s my party and I can cry if I want to because she had a daughter. Anyhoo, I didn’t wait on the bank. I went into the water and noticed an eel and an overturned canoe in the water. And I thought, “I wish I had that canoe.” And in real life, I do wish that I had that canoe.

In the dream, it was Gary who said, “We can give her 20,000 dollars.” And this is where it gets less about the dead girl and more about me and my bike because all of a sudden  I was in a bike race. And I finally made it to the podium. But of course, no one kept track of who came in when and I was sad about that. Because in real life, I want to be on that podium.

It’s not quite Laura’s dead-iversary, but it’s two days from my mom’s. But I don’t dream about her. I dream about everyone else. If Laura was here and if I knew what I know now, I would find her 20,000 dollars to make her dreams come true and to keep her safe. Yep, that’s what I would do. That would be just as good as getting on the podium.

Love, Short Skirts and 4-Way Stop Towns.

girl Scout skirt

girl Scout skirt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There once was a young boy who met a young girl and they fell in love. Or something like that. They thought they were in love but really what happened was a young boy met a girl. The girl was very flirty and very sure of herself. Or so he thought. The boy was tall and had great hair. The girl knew her only way out of her father’s house that was filled with poverty, abuse, and no love, was to fall into another man’s house. And so these two kids who thought they loved each other very much, probably really only loved the idea of being in love and being married and having their own house. In fact, now that we look back on it, we can see that it was not meant to be and that must have been so obvious even way back then. But hindsight is as they say, 20/20.

They met in a small town. Not really a town. It was more of a 4-way stop type of town. Small and easy to pass through. And keep on going. But they met. She was probably being asked to leave class because her skirt was too short and you really couldn’t keep that woman down. Couldn’t tell her what to do. No one was the boss of her so she would gladly be sent home with a too short skirt. That must have caught his eye. That boldness. That sass. That je ne sais quois. That short skirt. He must have been different too. In his own way. Super tall, lots of dark hair. So much hair, it looked like you could live in it. If you wanted to. His eyes weren’t quite. Right. One was this way and one was that way. I bet she wondered why they were that way. But was too polite to ask. I bet he asked her out and knowing her, she said no. The first time. Played hard to get. The first time.

Eventually she must have said yes. Because even though she was playing hard to get, she wasn’t. He probably felt lucky because she was a looker and even that far back, he felt unloveable for some reason. Because of some comment. Because of something someone did or didn’t do. Because he was born. They must have looked kinda funny. He being so tall and her being not so tall. And I wonder if it was hearts and flowers or if they fought even that far back. Like if there was a sign. Or an omen. I bet it was fun in the beginning. Like Jack and Diane, two kids in the heartland. Doing the best that they can.

A small blip or a planned wrinkle I’m not sure, she wanted more and they told her she couldn’t have more so she said, I’ll show you. She joined the Women’s Army Corp. She made the cut. Short skirt and all. She wasn’t there long. Just long enough to prove she could do what they said she couldn’t. And then maybe she thought she better get back to marry that tall young man with all that hair. Or maybe she just didn’t know where else to go. Maybe there wasn’t anyone else to love in that 4-way stop town.

And maybe there were others. Men that is. But maybe something drew her to the tall one. Or maybe he asked first. We’ll never know because she is gone now and too far away to ask and even if we asked, we would never hear her answer. And wouldn’t it be nice if people only got married because they loved each other. Cherished each other. Trusted each other. Wanted each other. Needed each other. But when she was asked years later why she got married, it wasn’t any of those things. It was, “Because everyone else was doing it.” How romantic.

And so there they were, two kids in some sort of heartland. She was 19 and he was 20 and she had a baby in her belly. But they didn’t know that until later. After their wedding. Not like a wedding in a church or a hotel ballroom or on some grand mesa overlooking whatever grand mesas overlook. But in a small house. The size of a postage stamp. And not a big airmail stamp like in the old days, but a small one. They got some nice plates and silverware to start their “happy” life. And I guess the next month or maybe the next month, she must have said, “Honey, I’m pregnant.” I’d like to think it was a happy time. Since I was the baby in her belly.

But I imagine my parents as two hearts. One is bigger than the other. One has longer eyelashes than  the other. One has eyes that don’t quite line up. But two hearts nonetheless. And then, there was a third heart that was much much smaller. That was me. And the way I see the two bigger hearts is full of love. But it’s almost like they needed a road map for love and life. And they didn’t have one. Because they didn’t quite know how to do it. How to love each other. How to be a family. And even after one more very small heart was added to our family, they still couldn’t do it.

I still see them as two big hearts. Full of love. Full of sadness. Full of insecurities. Full of pain. They just couldn’t let the love out. It’s like it got caught up in the top where the two sides of the heart meet. And so I see it as a wasted opportunity. Like they just couldn’t do it. Not totally wasted, because they produced two little hearts. But partially wasted. And I feel sort of sad for them. And for the two little hearts.

I’m Not a Lesbian. I Just Dress Like One.

Touche

Touche (Photo credit: Michael Connell)

A long time ago in a far, far, far away coffee shop I met a girl. And some years later, she told me, “I thought you were a lesbian when I met you.” I asked her why and she replied, “Because of the way you dress. It’s your style. You dress sporty.” I kind of teased her because she was a lesbian (and I was not) and we hee hawed a bit about assumptions we make about people. Because of the way they dress. Touche.

In case you’re wondering, it didn’t bother me. People (women)(lesbians) have made that mistake before. It’s flattering. It means I have universal appeal. Leave it to me to take it as a compliment. But seriously, who really cares if someone thinks I am a lesbian. But what I can’t stand for is, for people to mistake me for a 5’11” teenager. For all my friends who look so cute in fitted skinny jeans, you can take a walk because you will be able to relate to none of this.

I went shopping a month or so ago. For jeans. I was ready to spend some money. Not like some of you do. Not over $100.00. But with the debit card burning a hole in my pocket, I went to buy a pair of Lucky Jeans. To start out, a knock out girl with Victoria Secret type of hair and a size negative 8, came up to me and said, “How can I help you?” Oh boy. Like a country girl coming into town for her first time, I said, “‘I’d like to buy some jeans.” She steered me towards the rack, asked me my size. I fingered the “jeans” and said, “Do you have any real jeans? Like the kind that don’t have stretch or lycra in them? Like the kind that actually have front pockets?” I came just short of saying, “Like cowboys used to wear.” I might as well said, “You know. Not like the ones you’re wearing. Cause those are a ridiculous excuse for jeans.”

We chatted and she brought me some jeans, smaller than I asked for. I pointed that out. She said, “You’re smaller than you think.” She was right. I found some I liked (less $100.00) and went home happy. Until I realized I still bought them a size too big. Ah well.  Fast forward to yesterday. I thought I’d try my luck at the Levi store. A sweet, petite (because she hadn’t gone through puberty yet) girl came up to me and said, “How can I help you?” “I’d like some jeans. Not skinny. Not straight.” Now mind you. I’ve just walked out of the Sephora Store. With tinted moisturizer on my face and I’m feeling pretty hip. I can tell this girl thinks I’m a friend of a friend’s mother or great-aunt. She and I both know I’m not buying anything in that store.

After a few failed attempts to even get the jeans (I said, I didn’t want skinny) over my calves, I gave up. She suggests with no smile on her face, “Let’s try the 501’s.” Let me break it down for you. I tried them on. It was a combination of Mitt Romney, my mom’s jeans from the 80’s and Pat and Chris from the Saturday Night Live skit. Only worse. Oh dear Jesus.

So, it’s back to the size too big Lucky jeans. I can only hope that warmer weather is right around my corner. So that I can wear my sporty shorts.

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