Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Woman's Fight, A Woman's Grace

I once was lost, but now I’m found.”  Those are the words from one of my very favorite songs, Amazing Grace.  I don’t identify so much with the song on a personal level; rather I just love the words and the music of it.  However, the song, worded somewhat differently, holds a greater meaning for me as it applies to one of my children. 

My youngest daughter, Adrian, came out of the womb stubborn and with a mind of her own. 

Adrian knows what she wants, goes for it, and if mistakes happen, she chalks it up to life experience and learns from it.  She’s a lot like her mom in that way.  In my case, I really had no mother to turn to in times of indecision and crisis; I turned to my friends who were the greatest support system and saw me through. 

For Adrian, for better or for worse, she has had a mom in her life that paid very close attention to the path she walked and made a lot of noise when it was clear she was headed in the wrong direction.  That has caused some strife in our relationship from time to time, but in the long run it has made her and I extremely close.  The reason is because no matter what decisions she made, and some have cost her great heartache and radically changed the life she might have led, she knew I was there for her.  That’s what a mom does and Adrian knows that better than ever now because she, too, is a mom. 

Adrian is in the fight of her life.  She made some choices that have resulted in a battle over the custody of her youngest son, 15 month old Noble.  What was one of the choice she made?  To leave a relationship that was toxic, abusive, frightening, and unhealthy. 

When Adrian was in this relationship I feared for her and for my beloved Aiden.  I feared with all of my heart that she was lost to me; she was confused about what the definition of “love” is – love is not painful, nor scary, nor hurtful.  She accepted this for a while until something inside of her demanded she survive, and she did.  That’s why I am so drawn to the song, “…once was lost but now am found.”  When she was pregnant she found the courage to leave and for that I have never been prouder of her. 

Her life is far from easy right now, but she is going to see this through and come out the winner.  No matter the cost financially, no matter the years it may take, Adrian, along with the help of a wide-reaching support of family and friends, will survive.  After all she did it once, and she has the most important reason to do so – her sons. 

I have hesitated about sharing this story up to now for several reasons.  One, it’s not my story to tell.  However, I have my daughter’s blessing to do so.  Second, I know that the man who is out to destroy her life because she dared to leave him reads this blog looking for anything he might use against her.  But now I feel it appropriate, and necessary, to get some of this stress off of my chest and I have always found relief in writing. 

I have also, like before, found an amazing support system; this time among my blog friends and followers and frankly, right now, I can use all they can spare. 

If my story and that of my brave, hard-working daughter can help anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation, then my sharing will be repaid tenfold.  If anyone in the blog-reading world has advice or resources they feel can help Adrian, I welcome their suggestions and thank them with all of my heart. 

Here is to the fierceness and tenderness of women everywhere.

For more information on domestic abuse and the help that is there for women in an abusive relationship, please go to Domestic Violence.Org

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who's Lucky?

I have been fortunate to have had many loves in my life, of the four-legged kind.  Dogs have played a central role in every year I’ve lived, from small to large, I can’t recall a time when I haven’t been in the company of a dog.

My father owned dogs, German Shepards, and my aunt, his sister, claims he owned the first white German Shepard in the area where we lived.  The first dog I can recall from childhood was Princess, a Border Collie, and since her I’ve owned that breed time and again.  I can recall every single dog I’ve had the privilege of knowing. 

"Peanut," my first all-mine dog. We played hide 'n seek with the mailbox.

I got "Babe" right after arriving in California.
He was lost on the wedding night to my first husband - an omen, maybe?

"Bo" was the first dog John (my second husband) and I loved and lost together.

"Tiffany" and "Dusty"

"Cochise" the dog that broke our hearts when it was his time


To date, there are four that make their home with me and my husband:

Maya, a Mini-Pincher/Shitzu mix at 6 weeks

Grubb, a funny-looking Jack Russell

Candy, Pit Bull
Lucky, breed unknown. 

It’s Lucky that I’m going to write about as today is our Lucky Anniversary. 

One year ago today he came into my life.  I wrote about his rescue in a two-part blog: Animal Heaven I & II.  I wanted to provide an update on the year of Lucky.

Generally, young dogs are hyper and destructive, requiring a great deal of training and vigilance to keep them out of trouble.  While Lucky is a healthy and active dog, there is a calmness to him that is usually found in older dogs.  As I write this he sits to the side of my chair, his preferred spot whenever I’m working at the computer.  Once he figured out that he was indeed big enough to jump, he found his way onto our bed and enjoys snoozing curled up by my side. 

I have enjoyed watching his growth and development (within three months he went from 7 lbs. to 35 lbs!) and marveled at his unique personality.  I love this dog. 

When we first got him I had every intention of placing him in a new home. At the time we already had four dogs (Zeke has since been put down)

and another was just not in my plans.  I tried to find a home for him: friends, Facebook appeals, the local animal societies, but in the end I knew he was destined to be with us.  I could still hear my grandson, Aiden, saying, “Nana, we should name him Lucky because he was lucky we found him,” so how could I let him go? 

Aiden and his pal, Lucky, September, 2010
The thing is, every time I look at him, my heart breaks just a little more.  Why?  Because I worry about all the dogs, especially his litter mates, that I can’t save.  When I look into Lucky’s eyes I see that desperate plea that was there when I plucked him, all flea, tick and worm infested, starving and dehydrated, and know there are so many more out there just like him. 

I know I can't save them all, but it's a hard reality to accept. 

His name is Lucky, but the truth is, I'm the Lucky One. 

Bedtime (yep, there are two humans under those covers!)
(Borrowed from the website)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Journey's End - for this summer, at least

Well, this year’s journey with Aiden has come to an end, or nearly so, as tomorrow we will be back in Las Vegas.  I sit in a hotel room in Fallon, Nevada, several hours from our final destination; Aiden is fast asleep with two dogs (secreted into the room) curled up around him.  Why is it that a week can pass by in the blink of an eye?  It’s true -  time flies when fun is happening.

Visiting with friends in Atascadero and Berkeley, California was mainly for my benefit, but I know Aiden had a wonderful time, as well.  My friends were impressed by him – “He’s so handsome,” they gushed.  John enjoyed having a little boy around and Joe and Sue loved showing him the “Bay Trail.”  But for Aiden, the true adventure and place to be was with Uncle Nigel in Oregon. 

Together they joked, squirted one another with water guns, fished from a boat (Aiden caught six and put two in the family pond), had coffee and hot chocolate together at Coffee Heaven, dug dirt with a backhoe, and built a fort.  Everything a little (and big) boy should do in the summer and crammed into four days!  It was magic to watch and I love the memories he made.

Back to reality and soon both Aiden and I are back in school.  I am grateful for the safe journey we had and for the friends whose hospitality was so generously given.  I am looking forward to taking Rain and Noble on their own road trips someday soon.    

Enjoy the photos from our road trip:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Forever Friends

It used to really hurt me that I lost the friendship of people I considered lifelong friends.  There is the one who accused me of “attacking” her when I expressed my deep concern at her anorexic condition and completely cut me out of her life; then the one who dropped me because I had to say I can no longer care for her cats and they would need to be placed elsewhere.  An aunt of mine, one of the people I was closest to on the planet, stopped talking to me two years ago because I commented that I was sad as a child I was prevented from knowing my father’s family (see my post What Price Those Words).   

The loss of these individuals in my life has been a great lesson for me, but one that evolved from “Maybe I shouldn’t have said or done something” to “It’s their loss, not mine.”  Not that I believe my friendship is so special that the loss of it is so great; rather I feel sorry that the bitterness they carry around with them prevents them from experiencing what I have with so many true friends: an unconditional (See Breakable Unbreakable Bonds), lifelong connection that means the world to me.

I thought of this as I sat at the kitchen table Wednesday catching up with Cyndi, my college-day friend.  This visit came after a nine-year gap.  You know how it is, we move on with our lives, which often take us to different places.  I left California for Las Vegas; Cyndi to central California.  We lose touch for a while but when we reconnect we fall right back into a great place of friendship.    When we are together, it is as if we are those young, idealistic nineteen-year-olds again; like to no time had passed at all between us.  It is the most special, wonderful thing to be able to sit across from a friend whom I’ve known since before our lives were truly started.  We are both in the menopause years, yet, we recalled our lives before it all unfolded. 

August 1979, Santa Monica, CA

My friend Cyndi married the most interesting and loving man, twenty-plus years her senior.  His name is John and he and I happen to share the same birthday.  (On a side note, John also happens to be the subject of a book, the bestselling docu-novel written by Gay Talese called, Thy Neighbor’s Wife). 

John, Cyndi, and Sienna at home
Being with Cyndi reminds me of two things: that a true friend never abandons another and that love and friendship, if it is real, is unconditional and everlasting. 

Yes, it hurt to lose those that felt my friendship wasn’t worth repairing after a perceived slight, but I am so loved by others that it makes up for it. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Grandma and Grandson Take to the Road

Aiden, exactly one month ago you turned 9 years old!” 

That’s what I told my grandson as he swam in the hotel pool last night.  We are on another Nana-Grandson road trip and today’s destination is Atascadero, California.  There I will be visiting Cyndi, my college friend and her husband, John.  It’s been a few years since we’ve seen one another so I am really looking forward to the visit. 

This is the third road trip I’ve taken with Aiden.  Two years ago we attempted to drive to my hometown in New York.  We made it just across the Kansas-Missouri border and then turned around.  Read about the reasons for that aborted journey at New York a Bust. 

Last year we went to Oregon, where we are headed this time around.  The drive home last year nearly did me in (I did the whole drive at one shot), so this year Aiden and I are taking the drive in small, do-able chunks. 

Making these memories with Aiden is one of the things I really look forward to.  The two of us surprisingly have a great deal in common and a lot to talk about together, even though there’s over forty years age difference between us.  So far, he’s not found quality time with Nana to be an obligation but an adventure. 

I’m sure when the teenage years hit, that will all change.  But for now, I’m soaking it all in and making our time together full of adventure. 

Stay tuned for more updates from the road.