Monthly Archives: July 2014

Keeping it Together

We are all in this Together

When summer begins, Orlando comes to mind as one way to celebrate the warm season. The parks there are close enough for a two-day escape without making me delirious with the stress that vacations create. There’s no plane ride or an airport involved and I’ll be home again before you can count to three (days).

But there is backlash when you mention SeaWorld. So much so that when I think of SeaWorld, I think of the backlash. Many opponents are upset about how they contain their sea animals and the cruelty of it, but I admit it remains one of my favorite parks to take my kids to during the wide-open summers. I have years of breezy strolling-through-the-park memories from our visits.

There are few lines in SeaWorld; just crowds moving across the park together and finding seats together and oo-ing and ahhh-ing together and getting soaked together before herding off towards another show together.

It’s never been a place of rushing. The crowd moves in unison in the same direction, simplifying the task of walking alongside strollers and determined two year old's wanting to walk outside of mom’s sweaty arms. It makes what could be a long hot day less rushed and chaotic.

When I am tired from the togetherness and walking, we follow the map to the children’s play area. I’m exhausted but my daughter is bubbling with the excess energy she drank up while sitting still during the shows. Our visit last year went the same as it always does; herds, togetherness, feasting, ice-cold watering holes in the summer-heat temperatures, and then the peaceful relaxing playground. But while in my peaceful whatalovelydaythishasbeen haze last year, out of my focus came a woman wearing a SeaWorld shirt screeching at me as she appeared from the shadows of the slides and bridges’ darkness. First just a distant sound but as she came closer, I heard her desperation asking me to tell my daughter not to run on the playground. Did I fall asleep into a funky heatstroke induced dream? I listened intently as she explained, with her dust of distress coming off of her in sprays, why she didn't want my daughter running. There were young ones on the playground that she was worried about and was asking the bigger children not to run.

I wasn't sure how to answer her so instead I watched the angst of her past few days (or years?) come out of her orifices. Puffs of her dust kept coming from her clothes and pores and out of her ears and I watched it settle around her, never touching my sweaty skin.

My daughter now next to me, taking this image in with me, two against one. We were both quiet and intact while Mrs. SeaWorld opened her vents and spewed on us. I let her. I saw it in her eyes and in her hands and her shoulders and in her dust trail. She was spent. How many hours had she been out in the hot sun with 1.2 million children, and for how many days? Also there beside her, still and invisible, were whatever problems she had going on at home. I waited for the frustration and the anger and the nerves and the worry to settle at her feet in front of me.

Quiet, her sad eyes now looked to me for a response, as did my daughters'. My daughter now thinking she was in quantum trouble because she had caused the playground lady to lose herself.

I simply said, “okay.” Mrs. SeaWorld was expecting my sympathy and rebuttal but I was still in my peaceful slumber looking through her cloud of spent dust and wanting her to feel better. She blinked the fog from her eyes and found herself standing alone in her gloom. She squirmed her explanation of her concern for the little ones one more time before lunging off to monitor a playground full of children at full throttle.

I looked to my confused daughter, who was open-mouthed curious of the next words out of my mouth. “You’re fine, hon. Don’t let her ruin your fun.”

She decompressed after I spoke, then felt safe to judge and convict the playground woman and her silly request. I realized that she didn't see the same woman as I had so I explained that she was probably ready for a break (or a vacation) and that staying on the other end of the playground was a good idea. Its vastness would make that easy and would allow me to go back to my peaceful state.

Mrs. SeaWorld has never left my thoughts completely. She always revisits when thoughts of Sea World and backlash do. Maybe I could have said something to comfort her.  I could have asked her to sit down and talk, or offered to get her some water, but I think she got what she needed. An “okay.”

As she walked away with her own thoughts and feelings about what had happened, she has probably never forgotten that day either. I hope that it’s a moment in time that she can forgive herself of. Life can trip us up sometimes, but if we wait for the dust to settle, we'll see clearly again.

Follow Katherine on her Twitter account @BeingAWoman for her #DailyChallenge that can make life less of a challenge. 🙂  Read an excerpt from her book by following this link and clicking on the book image. ~

Dear Sir…

January 23, 2001

Dear Sir;

My mother has just informed me that she has taken you back. You two seem to have an ongoing thing that I'd like to see come to an end. I recall the troubles of your last visit but I'm unable to convince her to leave you.

She is bringing you and her tender heart with her when she visits with me indefinitely. I can only sit by and watch her age as you intrude upon her life. The dark clouds will gather in her eyes whether we speak of you or not. You're her burden. While here, you will replenish your thirst with my water and your hunger with my food while I'd rather see you leave. She withers away when you're around. She's still the mom that I had as a child and is always able to impose her soft strength onto any challenge, but you make her weak. What hold do you have on her? How does she allow your feeble existence of life back into hers?

Regardless, I'll open my door to you both when you arrive hand-in-hand. I'll watch how you interact. She won't look me in the eyes when she's with you. It tells me that she doesn't want to discuss it. Her attitude towards you is so positive. She is a strong, kind and generous woman, but you have your toxic behavior and disastrous lifestyle. I wish you had more compassion. She doesn't speak of the dark secrets while living with you because she is too proud, but you provide the darkest moments of her 63 years. Your frequent and feverish traveling is important to your life, but it disrupts and limits hers.

If my mother is to rid you from her life, she has to be strong.  When it's time for her to go home, I hope you will have already left without a trace as you have done in the past. It destroys her, but it's for the best.

Please, Mr. Cancer, no more heartache and loss. If you leave, you and your family will no longer be welcomed here.

Sincerely,            Katherine

This is a piece I wrote 13-1/2 years ago when I was caring for my mom during her cancer treatments and surgeries. Unfortunately, my sweet mama had to leave before he did, but she fought hard for the three and a half years he was with her. It's so hard when someone leaves us, but know that it's because they are needed elsewhere. It's their time to shine some place new and beautiful. God gathers us in so many different and difficult ways, but in that brief moment of death and departure, they reach their peace and destiny. Let that idea bring you peace and help you to reach your new and beautiful place here. 

Visit Katherine A. Rayne at www.BackToBeingAWoman.com.

PosterCloud

“It’s Time”

“It’s Time”

My Daughter’s Smile Told Me It Was Time

by Katherine A. Rayne

It keeps happening. This dog of mine. I cleaned up diarrhea three times yesterday and twice today. He knows to run and hide. I love this dog. But.

He came about in a destructive way. My way of lashing out I THINK, but I’m not sure.  Because I’m not a lasher-outer.  Ten years ago, I was finished with dogs as far as I knew. My little sweet Yorkshire/Chihuahua mix, Beau, lived for 17 years, thank you, God. He was my lovey little guy. He was my baby before I had babies. He was my dependence during my independence of living on my own. My mom decided (thankfully) that it would be wonderful for me to have a puppy in my new home. I was the last of four daughters to move out and I think she wanted to make sure I wasn't lonely. I didn't even say the word and she was out looking. She found Beau for me at the Humane Society. She sold me on him before I even saw him. And OMG she was so right. Not necessarily the cutest little puppy ever (by no means ugly), but his personality shined so bright. How on earth was he the last taken of a litter of four? They must have all had the light. He was happy whether I picked him or not. He was playing with some un-toy in his cage, looking me over and smiling, then back to his un-toy. He had me at play. My little guy.

Over the years, I watched as friends’ dogs passed away and were put to sleep. Putting to sleep, I always said, I could never do that. When he goes, he goes on his own. I can’t make the choice for him. Until that day 17 years later. Until he could no longer eat because of the tumor on the roof of his mouth. The sadness in his eyes that showed more than the cataracts. The hunger over the food that he wanted but gave him pain instead of satiation. It was after 10:00 pm and we came home, my family of four, after a late night of visiting, and we saw it in his eyes. Time. It was time. He couldn't move. We took him to the emergency animal clinic, not because we decided to, but because no one could speak and we knew we had to do something.  The four of us drove silently towards the veterinarian. I was holding his quiet weak body but don’t remember the ride.

Months before, we’d learned that he had cancer and his doctor had told us that we should have mercy by not putting his 17-year old blind, deaf, arthritic body through chemo and surgery. Now there at the clinic, through my tight lips and wet eyes I could only say, “It’s time,” to the stranger who kindly looked us over to decide if he should argue it or not, not knowing my dogs’ history. My son, quiet, my daughter, too young to know, their dad holding her while I snuggled Beau taking a needle. He left a small hollow in my heart with his last breath. It wasn't easy, but it felt right.

At 17 years old, he had his weaknesses. Cleaning up after him was not unusual, but until the end he always avoided carpets, the sweet little guy. So thinking about another dog was not on my mind. He was irreplaceable, and I wasn't up for more cleaning up of a potty-training new puppy, either.

Fast forward almost two years later. Say “I” if you have ever bought a dog at the pet store at the mall because heeeee’s sooooo cuuuuute! I wasn't planning to. I always took my son to a hair salon at the mall to get his hair cut. While he was having that done, I’d take my 3-year old to look at the puppies. There he was each time we went. Cute. Sweet. Pretty. Addictive. Every time we were at the mall, we’d visit the pet store and there he would be. Less expensive than the last time. Still prancing around with his head high no matter how long he’d been there.

It began when I Googled “Papillion.” I think I was Googling for reasons not to consider him becoming a family member, but I couldn't find any. My son was by now ALSO in love with him. He wanted him more than anyone else, but the answer was still no. Then one visit I felt my daughter’s smitten smile spread to me as she gently played with him. I realized that if I didn't get a dog, my little girl would not know having one.

PosterMuffin

I brought him home while their dad was out of the country. No notice whatsoever. Not even to myself. I did it before I chickened out. Of course he wanted me to return the little guy. Can you return dogs? I have never tried before OR then. He was adamant, but I had a lot of ammunition in my corner to use, to remind him of alllllll the big decisions he’d made without me. I also reminded him that he was the one that put a doggy shower in when building his dream house when we no longer had a dog. He’d planted the seed. It grew.

This Papillion, Muffin. He’s no Beau. But he’s awfully sweet and cute and lovable and pretty. Even I call him a she. He is a yappy dog. He’s my doorbell echo. Everyone outside is there to kill us, in his little overprotective mind. I don’t tolerate it well even after eight years, but hopefully my neighbors do. He took forever and a day to become potty-trained, which I found to be my weakest area of tolerance. He swallowed my daughter’s first lost tooth. I did some excavating later that day outside to retrieve it. (It was her first tooth!) He pooped ON my kitchen table after jumping up there and being stuck the whole day while I was out. Disgusting and hard to divulge. He’s peed on throw pillows on purpose. He’s even pooped on my BED.

This little guy sleeps with me in my bed most nights. As much as he’d love to be king there, I won’t allow it. I have to remind him that he’s just a dog. He states his disapproval with a loud sigh from his tiny six-pound body.  One recent morning, I discovered poop in my shower. I guess he’s picking up Beau’s habit of avoiding carpets. I always talk about finding silver linings, but it’s hard to when you find poop in your shower.

I get so mad. But then I look into those eyes. Innocence intensified. Soul-saturation. Apologetically sad. And when I pick him up, he tucks his head under my chin and reminds me that he’s just a dog. Lovable, poetically cute, and pretty. And my daughter knows that love. There are the nights when he sleeps at her feet. Using his growls to keep her safe and separated from the night sounds.  It makes it easier to forgive finding poop there.

 

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