Tag Archives: love

On Being A Daughter

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It’s Father’s Day, so I wanted to say a few words about Stan the Man, Stanley the Manly, Pops, Ray, Daddy-O, or simply, Dad.

 

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If I narrow down all the things my dad has taught me to most important thing, it’s that parenting is a life-long commitment. Is it fulfilling? I’m sure it is at times, but I laugh because I’m well into my thirties and my dad and I both know I’ll be leaning on him for direction, guidance, and emergency money until the sweet, sweet release of death. Luckily, for me, my dad is committed.

When I first went to college at Texas Tech, I struggled so hard. I wasn’t aware of what a panic attack was when I was 18, but I was having them constantly. When I called home, it was my dad who talked to me and calmed me down. This man flew me from Lubbock to Dallas and back nearly every weekend of my freshman year of college.

After college, it was dad who helped me get my first “real” job in sales. I’m sure he had visions of me following in his footsteps and being an affable, outgoing, selling machine! I sold exactly one unit. On the day I quit. Nine months after I started.

Everyone who knows me well knows that I am a late bloomer. I needed lots of help to get my life on track. My dad put a roof over my head while I figured things out…for eight years. Granted, some pretty significant life events were happening concurrently, but if my dad hadn’t welcomed me back, I would not be in the same position I am in now. I needed his safety net in that time, and I’m so grateful he provided it so I didn’t have to settle. I still felt like I was settling in the early years- working at a daycare, waiting tables full-time, switching to retail…I felt like I was capable of more, but I didn’t have the confidence to go after it until seven years into living with my dad.

In all that time, because I wasn’t scrambling for rent or a car payment, I had time to think. I had time to sort out what was keeping me from functioning at the level I am capable of functioning. I had time to learn what I love to do, cultivate that passion, find my purpose, and follow my own path. I don’t know too many other people who have the same kind of support. I’m lucky to have my dad, I would not be the person I am today without my dad, because I wouldn’t have had the kind of time it requires to find out.

I think lots of young children see their patents as these perfect, all knowing entities, rather than fallible humans. The thing about my dad is, once I found out he wasn’t perfect, I didn’t feel like I had to be either. He continues to be really open with me about mistakes he’s made in his life and how they helped shape who he is now. My dad definitely has a growth mindset and I think he inspires others to want to be their best self as well. I must have inherited that trait from him.

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It all goes back to that important lesson, parenting is a life-long commitment. Thankfully, when I turned 18, my parents weren’t saying, “Well, Kasey, we’re all done here, good luck out there! See you at Christmas!”

So, this Father’s Day I wanted to honor to the best father I know, my own. Thank you for your patience, faith in me, and commitment to supporting me so that I can live my life my own way.  I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day!

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Titles are overrated

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Hi there! Well, what a few months it has been since I last spoke. I’m not sure how long this entry will take to write for me to be able to articulate what I’d like to, but I am going to try to at least start.

Can I tell you how much my little chickpea has grown? She’s 16 months old and she’s the cutest thing anyone in this house has ever seen. She enjoys making funny faces, loves animals, and she likes to say “wasssat?!” (what’s that) Spending so much time around a baby, I’ve learned that they change really quickly! It’s really fun to watch her learn how to communicate. She’s a little foodie, so of course her first sign was “more.” In order to get me to make a funny face, she’ll make a funny face. In order to go for a walk, she’ll go get my shoes and look longingly at the door. When I sign and say “I love you” as I put her to bed, she points to me when I say I and herself when I get to you. Then, she blows me kisses. Only she doesn’t know how to take her hand away from her mouth yet so she just keeps it there and smiles. It’s so precious. I really cherish her.

I think the baby is the whole heart of a house that is filled with many that are breaking. Her mom is actively dying of cancer. This house is full of sadness because her mother is involuntarily leaving her husband and children, a husband is losing his wife, a very young daughter and son are losing their mother and a mother is losing her daughter. it’s heart-wrenching, painful, sorrowful and, quite frankly, not fair.

I can’t help but ask myself how it can it be that just over sixteen months have passed and chickpea’s mom is now dying of cancer? I met her and her brother’s mom in her 6th month of pregnancy, one month after she was diagnosed. Up until July, I had only heard stories of the suffering people endure during late stage cancer. Now, I have seen it for myself on a daily basis.

The bravery and strength their mom has shown has been one of the most courageous things I’ve ever witnessed. One thing I hope I can impart on the kids, that I hope they understand really early, is that their mom fought, and fought and fought. She’s lost and lost, and lost again, but every single day she comes back fighting for them.

I know she’s tired, and anyone would be. I am not exaggerating when I speak of her suffering. Even though I recognize that humans are stronger than they think they are and can deal with more than they think they can, she has dealt with at least 100x her fair share with barely a complaint.

I don’t know what to say to her, I can’t even begin to understand how profound this loss is. She got 3 1/2 good years with her son and 9 okay months with the baby before she was hospitalized for increasingly extended periods and ultimately bedridden. Four and a half years and 16 1/2 months is not anywhere near enough time to get with kids she spent a total of 18 months growing inside of her. Why should she already have to say goodbye?

Especially when her kids are so eclectic with advanced personality traits. Me and the little boy quote movie references. I’ve never met a four year old that could use this obscure line from Elf to get a bedtime story:

BB: Can we read a story?
Me: No, the moon is already out on your clock. It’s time for bed.
BB: Not even ONE book??
Me: No
BB (lightly touching hands together, in old woman voice): But the children love the books!

I laughed so hard… what four year old references movies to make an argument?! He has an old soul, I really wish his mom could be there to witness how his personality continues to develop.

My job is unique and emotionally challenging. I have found that practicing mindfulness and coming from a place of complete compassion in my everyday dealings both inside and outside the house has seemed to help me so far.

I have also learned a lot about my own unresolved grief, my own heart and the way I’m living my life. Not only that, but why. This situation has led me to learn to recognize recurring themes and behaviors in my own life and put me on a path to learn to manage them accordingly.

I am inclined to believe that painful situations lead to personal growth and strength, that has certainly been my experience. I’m still not exactly sure why this has all worked out the way that it has, but I’m inclined to believe that I am supposed to learn something from it. Whatever that something is, I know it’s going to be one of the most important lessons of my life.

I didn’t do a recap, but you shouldn’t have to scroll back too far to see the story of what led me to this job.

My other job with the little girl and the newbie is going really well. She doesn’t even want to eat lunch because she doesn’t want to “waste her special ms. kasey time” and cries when I leave. The newbie is now three months old. She’s a cuddle bug and, as her big sister pointed out, is very calm when she’s with me.

I don’t really know what readers will take away from this, other than there are no guarantees in this life. Bad things happen to good people everyday, and I guess the best we can do while we’re living is love with our whole heart, and allow ourselves to be loved.

I recognize that this post is sad, and that’s one of the reasons I had to write it. This situation weighs very heavily on everyone involved. As always, thanks for reading.

Remembering Mom Pt. 3

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Hi there. I am all settled in Baltimore. My brother received his transplant and is now making healthy, donor generated blood cells. He has a lot more energy these days and things are looking up. It’s kind of crazy that all this would go down almost exactly three years after we did it the first time. April, man.

My mom’s birthday was April 15, she would have been 63. The anniversary of her passing was April 19. I sometimes wonder what place she would have in all of this if she were alive. I speculate on whether or not she would trust me to take care of Bryant, if she would be here taking care of him too…how she would have handled it. IF she would have been able to handle it at all?

I don’t know, in some ways it’s probably better that she’s not here for this. I, of course, selfishly wish that she was so she could comfort me. So I guess craving your mother’s comfort is something that never goes away with time.

Some things do change though. While last year and the year before I was concerned with what impact my mom’s death had on me, I now find myself looking for answers about the impact her life had on me.

Maybe coming to terms with who exactly she was and what influence that had on me is what I need in order to be able to celebrate her now that she’s gone. Up until a few weeks ago I had been focused on her death and consequently, my grieving.

Now I want to focus on life and healing. The process of grieving led me on this ongoing journey of personal growth. This journey has brought up very important questions about who I am and maybe even more importantly, why I am who I am.

The influences my parents had on me will stay with me forever and I’ve only been looking at the big picture. I am only just now realizing that events that, at the time I thought had no effect on me… are actually at the core of who I am as a person.

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Wedding day!

It’s not always fun or easy to answer questions about who I’ve grown to be. But as my very wise big brother tells me, “once you’re done growing, you’re done living.” I never want to stop growing, improving myself, learning. The bottom line, and I’ve said it before, is that I have a responsibility to the people that love me. You see, if I stop growing, I’m not only cheating myself, I’m cheating the people that love me and the people that I love.

I’m not sure if that makes sense but I hope it does. I can’t explain it any other way except that I never want anyone that ever loves me to feel like I gave up. My mom labeled me a fighter the day I came into this world (prematurely, dangerously underweight with a hernia) and I will remain a fighter until I absolutely cannot win anymore.

So, that’s that. I was able to keep myself distracted on April 19 with some of my amazing friends here in Baltimore. They were kind enough to take time out of their Easter weekends to join me on a local pirate cruise. It was ridiculously fun, I laughed the entire day.

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Getting knifed and photobombed simultaneously

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World class scallywags

Last year, my best friend and I went to the Perot museum in Dallas and also laughed the entire day. I decided that after this year I’d like to try to make it a tradition to make April 19 the most fun day of the year.

Mother’s Day was tough, I can try to laugh as much as I want, but deep down, I never stop missing my mom. The pain is always there. My brother was there for me though, he hung out with me all day, hugged me while I cried and tried to keep me laughing as much as possible anyway. Lots of people tell me he’s lucky to have such a great sister, but it’s me who is lucky.

Next time I’ll write about my trip to Dallas. It was super fun, and nice to have a break and be home. Thanks for reading as always!

remembering mom: year 2

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It’s very strange to  think that I haven’t talked to my mom in two years. I haven’t heard her tell me that I’m her favorite daughter (I’m her only daughter) or that she loves me or simply that everything is going to be all right.

Over the last two years I have realized it’s hearing little things like that, that I miss the most about not having my mom here anymore. Especially since I’m like a child in the sense that I never tired of hearing stories from her about myself as a baby. I always asked to hear, and she would always tell me without complaint, how she was absolutely certain that she was growing a tiny alien when she was pregnant with me. This is because I used to sit in there and run my fingers down the inside of her stomach. I can imagine myself doing it, too. It certainly sounds like something I would do.  She said it was the weirdest feeling ever. It’s because of this story that I tell the kids I watch that I’ve had a tickle monster inside of me since before I was born.

Another good one that I liked to hear her tell is- well, let me back up, the first thing you need to know is that when I was a toddler, I had this weird accent. I really have no idea where it came from, especially considering that as an adult, I have almost no discernible accent. So when I was three, my favorite color was purple (shocking!) and one day, my mom picked out this pink dress for me to wear and I straight up told her I didn’t want to wear pink, I wanted to wear “puhhhpul.” It’s the way she said “puhhpul” that made the story so funny to me. Her impression of me saying purple as well as her telling me that I wanted us to be together because we were “guuhls” (girls) never failed to make me laugh.

I wanted to talk about what has changed in the second year without her compared to the first year.  Everyone grieves differently, and this has been my experience compared to last year: I miss her just as much but it’s a little easier not to cry about it. I don’t get the urge to call her anymore, although I still wish that I could. I still think about her everyday, but not the entire day. I no longer feel the weight of my grief holding me down, although some days are still better than others. And the biggest difference between this year and last is that my memories of her are much more pleasant and I no longer feel any guilt whatsoever.

As far as what hasn’t changed…how much I love her, for one. I still want a hug from her, I probably always will.  I’m also still not ready to celebrate her life because even with so much progress- and there has been a lot of progress– I’m still not there yet. I feel like I can’t truly celebrate her life like she deserves from me, which is genuinely, until I’m more happy that she’s free than sad that she’s gone. I haven’t reached that point yet, even though I realize how selfish it sounds. However, even though I know without a doubt she wouldn’t want me to be sad, she definitely wouldn’t want me to pretend to be happy when I’m not. She knew how important she was and is to me and would be able to see right through it anyway.  She didn’t even have to see me to know if something was wrong, she could always detect it in my voice, even if I was deliberately trying to hide it.  She knows how bad I am at pretending, hell, it’s because of her that I’m so incorrigibly genuine.

I think as a daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend, babysitter and whoever else I am to anyone- the most important concept I’ve come to accept from a major loss is that now, more than ever, I want to take responsibility for the people that love me. By that, I mean do whatever it takes with what little control I have over how long I live to keep myself happy, healthy and safe so I can be around as long as possible.  I hope that the people that I love take responsibility too, because I don’t want to miss anyone else.  I can see how easy it is to get wrapped up in my own worries, or even fun, for that matter- without regard to what life would be like without me for everyone else.  And I’ve learned that if someone loves me, I should hold that in extremely high regard because I would never wish losing someone you love on anyone.  Especially if I love them, and especially if it’s forever.

Rest in peace, Mom.  It’s been two years since you left, but your influences continue to live on in my life daily.  If I become even half the woman that you were, I’ll be doing pretty well. I miss you and I love you.  You’re the bestest in the westest.

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Peggie Anne Gardner

April 15, 1951-April 19, 2011

dance, dance: part 2

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Hey ya’ll.  Long time no post, I know.  I have no excuses to offer,  I should probably make writing blogs a part of my weekly routine so I keep up with it.  I am a creature of habit, and while I won’t say I have a hard time adjusting to deviations from my routine, maybe I should!  As I’ve shared before, I like to know what to expect out of my day.  I’m not big on change, and while I will adapt to it eventually, I won’t even lie, the thought of having to adapt  definitely brings on a little anxiety.

So I’ve previously shared with you the main staple of my workout routine, Danceaton.  If you haven’t read the post, you probably should, just so you know how much I love it.  When I was just picking up random side jobs at the beginning of this year and had a lot of time on my hands, sometimes I would go up to eight times a week.  I love it.  There is no other workout like it.

You can probably imagine my disappointment when I received the news that Danceaton and 24 hour fitness decided to part ways, ending the class at all 24 hour fitness locations.  Over the last ten months, it’s become part of my routine.  I loved dancing to start off my day, even if I cried before and after class, Danceaton was my respite.  It was my therapy outside of therapy.  It was my sunshine on a cloudy day, and I know I am not the only Danceatonian who felt this way.  It’s changed so many lives, transformed so many bodies, instilled so much confidence that was lost, and fostered so many friendships.  And that’s just what I’ve seen at my main gym.

So of course, we were all up in arms about losing such an important part of our workout routine and, to be honest, lives.  I know I met the replacement classes with skepticism, knowing  nothing could ever replace my beloved Danceaton! It’s been two weeks and this morning was the first time I could even think about setting foot into Cardio Dance Party, the class that used to be Danceaton.  And guess what?

I had a blast!  It’s such a different format, and the teacher had so many awesome hip hop moves that it was very challenging! I have a feeling it’ll take a while, but  I can’t wait to learn more and get good at it!  I love a good challenge and more importantly, a good lesson.  One that I’ve seen over and over again this year.  I need to branch out and try new things and not get stuck in my same old routine.  I know there will be things that I like and things that I don’t like but I should really challenge myself not to be so closed minded when presented with change.  Anything like this ever happened to you?  I’d love to hear about it.  ‘Til next time!