Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For the Love of Animals

My godmother, Eleanor HaugheyMy mother chose her best friend to be my godmother, and I will be forever grateful for her influence, fun, and love she brought to our lives. Eleanor never had her own children so we were all her extended family. She and her husband, Jack spent a lot of time with us, and they socialized often with my parents. Beautiful, stylish and funny, she was a devoted animal lover and risked her life many times over to rescue strays, arrange veterinary care and placement in suitable homes, for them all. She donated vast sums of money to support all sorts of organizations for the welfare of animals. I know of one time that she raced across many lanes of traffic in elegant dress clothes to rescue a puppy stranded in the median strip.
I believe that Eleanor and my mother are solely responsible for the fact that all my siblings and myself are hopelessly devoted cat lovers. Our house was always filled with cats and when Eleanor would come to visit on Christmas Eve, she would lay her beautiful fur coat on the floor so the cats could sleep on it. (Of course today, I just bet that Eleanor would NOT wear a fur coat)
When Eleanor died in the 90's, it nearly broke my mother's heart. Many times after that, Mum would get me aside and tearfully tell me how deeply grieved she was to lose her best friend.

Eleanor's dying wish was that her town establish a no-kill animal shelter and her will bequeathed a very generous amount of money to Scituate with which a lovely shelter was built. An incredible group of volunteers saw the project to completion and after a few years, they outgrew the space and began a fund raising campaign to buy land and build a new facility. Through the years my family has been involved in supporting the work of the shelter in small ways, and it was a favorite place for Dad and I to visit until very recently.
Last Saturday, the new building was officially opened and dedicated, and LM and I were there to present the shelter with the beautiful pastel portraitof Eleanor, shown above. It was very emotional for me, as it brought home all the pain of losing Eleanor and both my parents. They would love to have been there on Saturday. Through the tears (EVERYTHING makes me cry these days!), I took these photos. They are not the best but do capture some of the celebration. I did not photographs any of the lucky animals inside but suffice it to say, it was all I could do not to bring several home, and LM felt the same way.

The Eleanor R. Haughey Scituate Animal Shelter:

Approachng the main entrance there is a walkway paved with bricks purchased in memory of favorite pets and people who have been faithul friends of the shelter.
Eleanor's name right next to the entrance:
Cutting the ribbon (you can see the fog bank rolling in just as the ceremony was culminating).My mother and Eleanor would also be so happy to know that the shelter is run almost entirely by a very devoted group of women, many of them second generation volunteers.
Ms G approves!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Random Beauty AKA Distractions

  • Lovely Koosa dogwoods blooming everywhere right now - Dad's favorite tree
  • A swan family on a lovely pond in Plymouth
  • Big clumps of daisies
  • Coreopsis - a lovely shade of yellow to brighten these very dark days
  • Lightning over the ocean
  • Ms G in bliss as I combed her for an hour
  • A beautiful white cat with one blue eye and one gold
  • LM's warm smile and comforting embrace
  • Validation

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Yes, that is heavy rain bouncing off the street and front walk at work yesterday. It was like that all day and very dark. Same thing continuing today. It has rained 20 of the last 23 days. Enough!!! There are many tourists here for their summer vacations but 60 degrees and steady rain were not part of their plan, so they spend the day driving, and hopefully, they are shopping at local merchants. There is rain in my soul, too. Here's hoping it is washing away the grief!

In the feline world......The cat that LM's daughter gave him a few weeks ago, now has a nice new home and is very happy! We have no idea why she was so unhappy with LM. Ms G thinks he has great kitty karma.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Auto Pilot

Ms G has a lot to do these days as she feels singly responsible for making me feel better. At every oportunity, she is insinuating herself onto my lap and as you can see here, she must be between me and the computer! My lap is just not big enough. She's a dear little comforter! No doubt, she is tuned in to my feelings.
The days are passing, grief is not lessening but I am functioning, accomplishing, appearing and not appearing. A very strange place, but one in which all is not lost. I am, at times, consumed by "shoulds and want to do's" but unable to act on them. I HAVE to give myself permission to not "do" everything right now. What does get done is from rote, although there is some creativity happening here....voila, I made LM some nice hand knit face cloths for Father's Day. He really appreciates them and they are used exclusively. Saturday night we had the nearby fish market cook us two lobsters and shared a nice dinner and watched an old movie, "Separate Tables," while we played with Ms G. She was happy to have LM here for awhile.

Saturday morning, I got myself to the farmers market and did manage to find a quart of local strawberries and we had shortcake after our lobsters that night. I even made the biscuits from scratch.
The rain continues here and there is so little light in the days. Fitting, I guess. Yesterday, Hallmark be darned, was tearful and it took everything I had to rally enough to get myself geared up to take LM out with his daughters to celebrate. He was happy to have his girls together.

Here it is Monday and there is comfort to be had in returning to the structure of the work week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

State of Being

Writing is not easy for me these days. I start, stop, stare into space, and try to let the words flow as they have in the past. I seem to meet a blank wall. Nothing is cohesive. I am finding some comfort in meditation, routine, knitting simple facecloths, listening to the incessant rain, talking to my siblings and LM, and holding Ms G close. She knows and complies.
Permission from my soul to just be right now has been granted. Apologies to all and when the sun shines on Chatham once more, perhaps there will be some lovely garden photographs revealing the rewards of all this rain.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ms G had a Date

Oh, oh, I came home from work tonight to find that Ms G had invited a man into the house without my permission. They were involved in a mad passionate love affair when I arrived home from work.....she is besotted......this man of hers has lured her with toys, and Whiskas Temptations....he could be charged with corrupting a minor. Ah, well, she was a very happy girl, and I heard tell she was curled up tightly in his lap purring until I spoiled things by coming home.

Now she pines as he has left to go fishing.......I miss him, too. Sweet man.
An interlude of peace and love as the waves undulate my spirit.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Cats Speak

Cohesive thoughts are elusive so my paltry photos taken yesterday on my off-Cape trip to plant flowers at Dad's grave and visit my brother and wife, will have to speak for me. The grief returned, choked my throat and heart, despite the sunny day.
A pretty alium - one of many in Trish's garden.
Lightpost clematis
Sam and Bob....Bob is just way too much love in one feline body!
On the way home I stopped to see baby Teddy and then spent drove on and stopped at LM's. We are both stressed, tired and a bit overwhelmed (the daughter of one of his very dear friends was killed Thurs night in a car accident on Martha's Vineyard....very sad) and we ended up falling asleep in a hug on the sofa and never moved for an hour. I then made my way home, only to be reprimanded harshly by a very unhappy Ms G. Due to heavy fog, Chatham did not have a sunny day and it was cold! I had opened the windows thinking the sun would shine. Here she is in all her glory because Iquickly turned on the electric blanket to appease my little friend.
Here she is this morning, staking her claim across my lap, having forced me to put the laptop aside.
The sun shone beautifully today and I worked for 4 hours at LM's house and finished the cleanout of the upstairs closet.....a very big, bad mess was transported to the transfer station....6 giant bags. A lot of work but cathartic and a job which was impossible for LM.
Meggie came yesterday morning and took away the poor cat that had been hiding in LM's house. I sure hope she goes to a good home. Very sad to see an animal so frightened. LM just could not cope with the responsibility right now. He wants Ms G......she's a hot commodity around these parts.

I continue to ride the waves of grief and some days a life preserver feels necessary on these seas. I know I must experience these times and am trying to be very brave. I took heart at seeing a lot of great beauty and love around me yesterday, especially at the cemetery...the views there are very lovely and I love the ancient trees which grace the site. Conversations with some dear friends and family this weekend helped a lot and inspired gratitude.
On to a new week.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just Wondering

Could I possibly be the only woman alive who cannot wear cute summer sandals with that awful instrument of torture between the toes? They just hurt my feet so much!

What is with manufacturers not getting the fact that they have a market here of people who will pay dearly for the right shoe? It is a never ending quest of mine yet for the last 5 years I have been relegated to wearing my trusty Merrell's everyday of the year. Here we are with summer possibly arriving on Cape Cod in July, and I have nothing but my mocs to wear. It goes a long way to increase my social phobia, dreading the fact that one of the clients will call and invite me to a lovely party on the terrace, and I will have nothing to wear on my feet! Last night I was in my local TJM and saw a woman purchasing the cutest sandals. They had a little glitter to them and had a perfect low heel. I dropped out of the check-out line to return to the shoe department and there they were, BUT, I had been blinded by the cuteness and missed the fact that they had that "thing" between the toes. Foiled again. Searching on line has not been successful, although I did see one possibility for $750. NOT for me. LOL

The same thing applies to finding blouses or sweater sets for summer...who they ever make these cheap, flimsy clothes for is beyond me. The search is ever on for comfy yet feminine cotton clothing which does not cost 100's of $$$. The garish thin jersey offerings of late are just awful.

Well, now that I got that rant out of my system.....I will complain about the weather here, another useless waste of energy but here goes. It is now going to rain and be dark and 50 degrees for the next 4 days....I would like a little summer, please. At least this week, I don't feel strange wearing a turtleneck, wool pants and socks, and heavy fleece vest to work.
Saturday promises to be nice so I will be happy for that, as I will be going to plant flowers for Dad where he rests.

Despite all the above complaining, my heart is lighter this week and I am so very grateful for all the help which has come from every direction.

Gift cat is still at LM's!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Rosier View

In search of a rosier view on life, lunchtime Friday found me at Lighthouse Beach. The beach roses (rosa rugosa) brought rebirth to my tired senses, so I thought I would share them here with you, and, incidentally, these roses appear white in the photos but they are the most beautiful shade of shell pink:

Saturday found me preparing a lovely breakfast for LM while he and Ms G played. Our afternoon project was to begin the clean-out of the second floor at his house. He began helping me, but I could see his grief at Bob's loss take over, and he busied himself with chores downstairs while I finished what I can only describe as deconstructing a life....Bob had neatly saved every receipt he ever received in bound folders by year. Now the upstairs is fairly neat - it is one large open room - and we will be able to set it up again as a guest space, and storage. There is still a large closet to be emptied, too. It took me about 4 hours and LM made a trip to the transfer station. Last night I realized that a portion of the grief which has been overwhelming me of late is not only from Dad's loss, but for Bob's death, and all the changes LM and I have been absorbing the past 2 years. It is heavy!! After we shared a nice dinner made with the Bolognese sauce which I made a few nights ago, I found I just needed to come home to my house and crash. Tough leaving LM, as I could see the pain and confusion in his face. We will get through this, life will be rosier again, and I will not have to go searching for rosier settings. Meanwhile, I am very grateful I have them to find when needed.

PS. The cat which LM's daughter brought him unexpectedly last week, remains in his house. She eats, etc but she is still hiding. I got a glimpse of her upstairs yesterday but she is not allowing herself to be touched. The second night she was there, she came downstairs and for 1 hour she rolled around and allowed LM to pat her but since then, no cat! She is a chocolate point Himalayan, and the poor thing has been shaved so she looks like a poodle. Evidently she was terribly matted. LM feels he cannot keep her and is waiting for his daughter to come back and try to retrieve the poor thing. Another sadness.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rewards of Friendship

I've always encouraged my daughters to develop a broad variety of friendships in their lives; advice passed along to me from my dear mother. I've not always been good at following this advice but I try. Yesterday, that effort came home to bolster me up and out of the grief vortex I've been swirling in lately. At least it is a start.
Not to confuse you but here is what happened. With the encouragement of my therapist, instead of sitting home alone, I reached out to a few friends and told them what was happening with me. I had to start with LM. Although, he has been witness to my state, and felt my withdrawal, he really had no idea of the depth of the grief I am feeling. Of course, he responded with his usual quiet but effective support, and his arms.
I moved on to telling two friends at work and they have been wonderful. One suggesting we make a plan to walk after work several nights a week. That will help as I have been unable to initiate exercise on my own.

For some reason yesterday, I reached out to two women friends whom I see occasionally for dinner or walks, both of whom happen to be therapists. I owed them both e-mail or a call, too. One, D1, responded with an invitation to go to dinner next week and also a flyer detailing a seminar on grief which is coming up nearby in several weeks. I signed up immediately! The other friend, D2, also responded quickly and told me her sister, also a therapist, who just happens to specialize in grief, is leading a seminar on the subject in a few weeks. Turns out to be the same seminar suggested by D1....I had no idea that connection was there between my two friends all this time. Obviously, it was waiting to be revealed at the exact moment I needed the help. I had not contacted either of those friends because they are therapists, just that I really like their company....we rarely talk about their profession. Interesting, and my heart is much lighter this morning.....my network is at work for me.

LM called me yesterday to say he had some just dug soft-shelled clams for me so you can bet I was at his house within 10 minutes of leaving work last night. I not only got that delicious gift of clams for my dinner, but a long and warm hug and the chance to share this great story of grief relief. LM being in my life is also the reward of friendship....we were casual and caring friends at work for 20+ years before realizing we had a great love! You just never know.

After I came home, I steamed and devoured those lovely clams and then set out to make this wonderful Bolognese sauce from a post which Pioneer Woman shared a while back. She often has her friend, Pastor Ryan, visit her blog to share his wonderful recipes. The narrative is fun reading. It is as wonderful as described, and will make a delicious meal to share with LM on the coming weekend.
I did tweak the method of cooking a bit, by making it in my cast iron dutch oven and then cooking it in my slow cooker for 6 hours over night....I also cracked the cover a bit so that it cooked down some. The smell in my house this morning is heavenly. The sauce is perfection!

BTW when I visited LM last night, there was no sign of the cat which his daughter "gifted" him with on Monday. He does know the poor thing has been downstairs to eat and use the litter box. Hopefully, she will reveal her face sometime soon. LM really does wish to return her to her owners or a shelter as he cannot care for her right now. Awkward situation. I went upstairs and placed some comfy sleeping spots around for her but could not find her....hiding under a bed, no doubt.
I cannot finish this post without thanking the many readers who have offered me such encouragement and love through e-mail and comments. Your words echo in my mind and heart throughout the day and have helped sustain me. I know this is an ongoing process but today there is hope. I am grateful and so enlightened by your kindness to someone you only know by reading words. The world is an amazing place.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Teddy's Day

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day and much of our family gathered to attend the baptism of my son's baby, Teddy. This was my view as I sat behind his mother, Alison, in the church. Teddy was so happy just looking around and doing a bit of his current giggling.
The service was lovely and welcoming. I struggled with my emotions, still in deep grief. It was a mix of wishing Dad could be there to share in this day, and also feeling Jason's loss of his father at a young age. He would be so proud of his only grandchild.
The proud parents.
Everyone walked back to J & A's house where we shared a lovely lunch and company on the deck.
Daughter, Sara and Samantha who had a great time once she warmed up....there were other children to meet.

LM and Kristi
My nephew Nate (14), who the day before, was first to cross the finish line in the Best Buddies bike ride from Boston to Hyannisport. He is a joy to be with always.
Sara's husband, Richie and Samantha
Brother, Sam (Nate's father) and LM deep in a discussion of LM's fishing legislation

Nana (moi), Sara and Samantha

The star of the day.....this is where I found him, as I passed through the family room to make my way home at the end of the afternoon! People all around, he was snoozing away! He is a very loved baby boy.In other news.....yesterday, LM's daughter, "surprised" him with the gift of a cat. He is not happy....after all, he has "Ms G" to love and see whenever he wants and he is not really having the time right now to care for an adult Himalayan cat with unknown heritage. EEEEEK....I am awaiting news this morning on what he will do. The cat was hiding somewhere in his house as of 9 last night and LM was feeling very sad for the poor thing. No doubt the cat could have been given away by its owner for behavioral or health reasons. Stay tuned for the latest drama on that story. We know Meg meant well, thinking her Dad was lonely without Ms G in his house, but he has his hands full these days and is not equipped to handle a cat with all the attention one needs.

Off, to face another day.......work helps to center me a little but it takes a lot of energy to stay balanced and smiling. Last night, with a counselor, I tried to put words to what exactly brings on the torrents of grief. We have a little progress with definition, but not with relief. I left there realizing that I must just let it happen.
Thank you to everyone for all the kind words and comfort.