Tragedy strikes when you least expect it…

I went out with Husband the night before, enjoyed some food and drinks, and laughed while listening to a country rock band we couldn’t understand. I was up late but I slept well, better than I had in weeks. I got a message from my cousin to call her, as I missed her call while checking on our garden with Husband. Before I returned that call, I had been drinking wonderful coffee, enjoying a sunny, spring morning in the low 70’s. I was smiling and feeling really good, that is, until I heard my cousin say that her mom died hour an a half ago. She kissed her husband after getting ready to drive one of her grandsons to work, then mentioned she didn’t feel well. Seconds later, her mom collapsed on the floor.

I spoke with my aunt on Easter evening, almost a week before her death. She was in good spirits after spending the day with her adult children and grandchildren, before visiting her second oldest in the hospital. I’m glad I had that brief conversation with my aunt, our last conversation. My aunt is dead… so hard to believe, but true. She is someone who lived to care for others, so full of go-go-go, passionate, a fighter who God must have needed for a very special reason… I hope. She had a few health problems but you still thought she would live forever through her endless pursuit of helping large family. My heart is broken.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

There a few reasons I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but I’ve made peace with it. I spent the night before the funeral writing about my aunt, all the things I would have said if I had gone to the funeral and been give a chance to speak. It was cathartic and healing to write about her, and it helped me remember so many happy moments with her and my extended family. Not wanting to burden my cousins, I sent my comments to my father with a request to read them on my behalf if there was an opportunity. I knew that in asking him I was putting my father in a position to say things that may come off disingenuous, excepted that they were my words rather than his. I found out later that he did not deliver my comments, there wasn’t a chance, he didn’t feel well, etc. I wasn’t there, so I can only take him at his word but experience tells me that it’s something he didn’t have in him to carry out. The comments were forwarded to one of my cousins to be posted on the family Facebook page, which one of my cousins confirmed recently.

They say that life is short, and that things can change in an instance, so you need to hold those you love near and dear while you can. I wonder why tragedy continues to strike the best of us, while those seemingly deserving of punishment and suffering for all of their wrongs, and I’ve been told to leave it in God’s hands. From what I know, it seems that my aunt died from a massive heart attack, a few weeks after she received a COVID vaxx and was subsequently taken off of several medications, including blood thinners. I shutter to think that many families may suffer a similar fate at the hands of far-reaching medical negligence, fraud, and manipulation by powerful people around the world. This happened after one cousin died from cancer treatments that she became too weak to endure, and another cousin suffered misdiagnosis and painful medical negligence, with all three events occurring in less than three years.

cross silhouette on mountain during golden hour

I hope that God brings swift justice to the evildoers in the world, and that He brings peace, hope, and comfort to those who have suffered.

Chicago on my mind…

I was scrolling through my photos and reminiscing on my trip to Chicago last August before traveling to NYC.

Overall, I had a great trip. There were a few rocky family interactions, but lessons learned. I saw extended family, a few friends, one of my favorite bands, my White Sox, and got to eat my favorite foods. Best of all, I got to soak in the city, walking, taking the “L” (elevated trains, it’s what we Chicagoans call it), and enjoying beautiful, mild summer weather.

Even though I moved away and I have a life in Texas now, I doubt I will ever feel as free and as comfortable as I do hanging out in Chicago, whether downtown or in other parts of the city.

I love you, Chicago!

The Four Tendencies… and other reading interests

So, I’m about 100 pages into The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. I read The Happiness Project a few years ago and I enjoyed it, but hadn’t thought much about it until saw The Four Tendencies at a FedEx Office store. I picked it up, intrigued, since I have been feeling stuck again lately- wanting to do something different but not wanting a pay cut, missing home but knowing that’s not the best place to be (except on a vacation so I can gorge on Pizza, burritos, beef sandwiches, and my other Chicago food favorites).

I took The Four Tendencies quiz online, which said that I am an Obliger. From what I understand, there is variation within each tendency and a little overlap – you will have a main tendency but may have some of a neighboring tendency, too. The thing that is interesting to me is that I pegged two family members almost immediately but I am still trying to pinpoint a few others.

Psychology stuff is interesting to me, so this book is right up my alley. I am hoping it will help me figure myself out and will help better deal with family and co-workers. I like the book so far and I am trying to pace myself to fully absorb the information, rather that devouring the book as I often do with fiction books that I enjoy. Other books on my radar include: Stuck by Anneli Rufus, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, and Positively Unstoppable by Diamond Dallas Page. I have been doing DDP Yoga for four and a half months with my husband, and we both really like it and benefit from it. Husband read the book and recommended it. What books do you recommend?

Going home… Part 1

I hadn’t been back to Chicago in close to three years until last weekend. The last time I went back was when my mother-in-law died. I was there with Husband helping to tie up loose ends, discard old, out of date, no longer needed items to prepare for selling the house, and to attend the funeral. I was there two weeks, and I didn’t want to be there. The little free time I had was spent watching my parents argue and, when my schedule finally allowed for visiting friends, we couldn’t make it happen. It sucked!

Both Husband and I have complicated families, and we  have felt the effects even miles away. I almost cancelled this trip  a day or two after I decided to book the flights because of the drama attached to going home. Ultimately, I chose to go because my Dad needed an angiogram to further assess blockages in his heart. Knowing that Brother and Sister-in-law had just visited,and the possible severity of the situation, I went  –  on my terms.

One of the greatest and most surprising parts of the trip was on the first day when I spent eight hours with my parents and they both made an effort to get along. First, we ate lunch at Wojo’s, a neighborhood hamburger joint. Later on,  my Dad gave me a lesson in how to hold, load, and fire a semi-automatic weapon with a laser target and dummy ammo. This was lots of fun and gave him great joy on the day before he ended up with a stent to clear  two heart blockages. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my Mom throughout  the weekend,  and  we were able to eat Beggar’s pizza while watching the White Sox. I wish my parents could be those well-meaning people toward each other more often, and live a happy life together… However, I am grateful to have had that time with them.

I found time to walk around Downtown Chicago for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I browsed at stores,  visited a few new places (Maggie Daley Park and Dylan’s Candy Bar to name a few), and stopped in at the Chicago Cultural Center. My Grandfather took my Brother and I to many events there, and sometimes we would just stop to rest in the café sitting area after lots of walking. This was a tough but good stop for me to make, and  it was great to see some art while remembering Grandpa.

All photos taken by Chrellie

Being the adult child of parents who don’t get along….

I am forty years old, and I cannot remember a time when my parents got along for more than a short time. I imagine my parents must have been happy together at some point, but not in years. I can handle that I have my own life and that my parents have their lives, and that we all make our own choices. They are both good people in their own ways and they often mean well and yet they bring out the worst in each other. It is hard to hard to watch and to hear on almost every phone call.

They did the best they could as parents, each with their own style. I could count on my father to drive me to far away tennis tournaments and to help me with complex homework assignments, while I could count on my mother for encouragement, a laugh, dinner, or to take me to local tennis tournaments or other activities. My father was the strict one; my mother was more lenient but ruled with a look or a quick comment rather than loud, harsh language. I learned a lot from both of them over the years, good and bad, just as I will always have memories of them good and bad. I’m sure that it is the same for them with me and my brother, like all families. Brother and I are both happy, and we wish they would choose to be happy together or apart.

In the three years before I moved to Texas, I started visiting my parents separately because a visit with both of them was either extremely uncomfortable or ended with an argument. My father is loud and verbally aggressive and my mother is passive aggressive, which doesn’t end quietly. I would visit my father while my mother was at church or shopping and I would plan lunch with my mother on a weekday. Did I mention that I have been suggesting divorce to them since I was 12? I don’t know that either of them could live without the daily chaos after all of these years, or that they could afford to separate the house, assets, SSI, etc. There are a lot of things my mother would not be able to manage, and my father has a few health issues, which further complicates this situation. It’s sad to know that both of my parents will live unhappily until their last days.

Even my brother’s wedding weekend, which should have been a joyous and fun occasion, was not without drama. First, my brother and I had to practically beg our parents to hang out with them for a little while before he and I went to the Yankees game and, once we did meet up with the parents at their hotel, my father flopped around on his twin bed when he got upset with my mother or got annoyed with the conversation no less than three times. Other drama included miscommunication with my brother and mother on wedding day, which resulted in me getting cussed and yelled at. I mostly enjoyed the weekend because I spent limited time with my parents, I did what I wanted to do, and I spent most of the rehearsal dinner and reception with my brother’s friends or my extended family. Oh, and I indulged in a few drinks. I had not seen my parents in two years prior to this… go, family!

I wonder if I am the only one who limits contact with their parents because they don’t want to deal with them trash-talking each other worse than NBA players or because they don’t want to play referee. Am I the only one who cringes a the idea of a big family holiday , anticipating a shouting match at the extended family’s home every single time.  My aunt has almost had to drive my mother home because my father got mad and began to drive away because they couldn’t agree on a time to leave. The last Christmas I was home for ended with me and Boyfriend (now Husband) leaving because we couldn’t take the arguing. We even asked them to behave so we could enjoy the dinner we had prepared for them… too much to ask. 

I have accepted that they are who they are, but I try to avoid absorbing any more of their negativity, so we probably talk 2-3x a month. For every great, enjoyable conversation with either of them, there are probably five when my father criticized the conversation in the background or texted complaints while I was on the phone with my mother. With my father, we connect well sometimes and sometimes we don’t due to the limited topics he will talk about and our different hobbies. I love to hear the good in their lives and wish I could share more with them, but it’s hard and often out of my control.

Feel free to share, if you can relate or have a method that works with families such as mine.