Losing loved ones or watching some close family and friends become ill and fragile is tough work. It’s emotionally tiring, and it also creates all kind of questions and guilt.
As a teenager, I often felt alone and just got used to deliberately being alone. It always seemed to be that it was easier. In school, I always earned great grades and always wanted to learn. I always said I need to learn something each day. Now I can’t always get thru a sentence. I can’t recall where the conversation came from or where it was headed. I have trouble standing a long time and sitting upright isn’t any better. It is really hard not to be able process thoughts and multitasking has gone bye-byes. I feel so worthless most days.
So, I figured I would share why I feel I am who I am today. Ever since, losing a loved one I think about life influences. I lay awake at night hoping, wishing and praying that I have influenced someone the way I think I was influenced and loved.
I can recall when I was younger that I never felt quite a part of those around me. My parents were hard-working and loving and eager to be parents and not best friends. They looked out for my brother & I with everything they had. They were strict, but fair. I didn’t realize that all those years ago. I tell them now every day how much I love and cherish them.
My mother became my hero although growing up I didn’t want to be anything like her. I wanted nothing to do with the soft heart, soft feelings, smoking, etc. I got my license ASAP to be more independent of others. As I’ve grown, I see a woman that manages the home, the kids, the finances all without my Dad being home. As an OTR driver he was often gone for weeks at a time to provide for us. It couldn’t have been easy raising us, but she always did it. She found a way to provide for little extras and help out with things when it was needed. Being Daddy’s Girl, I always would enjoy talking on the phone to him daily. I can remember hearing the whoot whoot of the air horn and running to meet him. It was something the three of us looked forward to. Our vacations were spent traveling with my Dad in that rig. I know I don’t remember it all but what I remember is that it was always us 4. I always hoped to meet a romantic love of my life. He set a big standard for any new guys in my life. We didn’t always get along. Life wasn’t always easy, but I had a good childhood to be honest. As I became more than just a nerdy kid, I often got frustrated by how so many would take my folks for granted. They weren’t always included in my Dad’s side of the family; we were often doing life with my Mom’s side. In many cases, it seemed like people thought they were a bank. I was and still am often just too brutally honest. People don’t know how to put up with that. I was too independent. Today, my mom and I have grown into a set of best friends. I’ve helped her become a little more outspoken and colorful over my 43 years with her and she’s passed along her emotions and her huge heart. What a heart. I’m proud to be a Mom and their daughter because of the love and support from these two people. They are my parents and I can’t express just how much love for them I have. I continue to be taught by them all the rime .
As a bigger sister, I think I struggled with having my bother always involved or around. We were night & day in so many things. After I graduated, he and I did become better friends. The years between Army enlistment and making me an Aunt three times over have been wrought with jealousy, anger, resentment, unwavering sibling love, disappointments, etc. I would now classify him as my first BFF. I was excited to have a baby brother one September in 1979. We don’t always agree on how to get to point A and point B; however we always make it back to our folks.
My Dad always seems like the black sheep of a family of 9 siblings. He worked hard. He loved us with his whole 💓. However, he struggled with social drinking and I knew I didn’t want to see him get hurt or sick. I was happy when he stopped. I didn’t want to lose him to the drink. He didn’t drink all the time, but when he did it was often rough on him. He always was a big teddy bear that looked like he could bite. He didn’t. He was made to retire because they found out about this genetic disease. He had Huntington’s Disease and was diagnosed with the gene positive after his brother passed away.
My Aunt Betty was in my opinion the person I was meant to be like. I thought of her as my special person. We all knew I was the favored niece lol. We joked about that & even signed cards like that. She was unique, honest, giving, loving, colorful and pretty loud and obnoxious when she wanted. She had some strong beliefs and although she’s no longer here in a body, I can often feel her being a part of my hard headedness and love of brightness, jewelry, speaking my mind (and that is just a few things) and she’s always in my heart….. gosh I really loved being her niece. I definitely got my love of reading nonfiction and romance from her. We both could read and read some more. Her purse and bags were always full with wigs, books, jewelry lol. I loved when she would visit. I remember red red hair, pink cheeks and dimples. She took me to Italy to visit, because she knew I would appreciate and enjoy it more than her husband even 😉 People still tell me now that I’m acting like Aunt Betty, I thank them for the compliment. She was who she was and she didn’t mind being called on it 😉 she was such a good aunt. She was not perfect oh heck no and neither am I. She lived hours away as I was growing up and never missed my dances and other special events. Lol if I had a VCR I’d probably sit there and view the tapes and smile and cry. She loved me unconditionally.
My Dad’s oldest sibling passed recently and it hit me in the face how much he meant to me. Growing up I can remember going to visit at his home that he had with his wife and watching the two of them take care of each other, take care of the church activities and so much more. It seemed like they had everything in my mind. They didn’t. They never had biological children however they raised my Dads youngest siblings as their own. When I was younger, it felt like I was their grandchild. They included my brother and I in a lot of fun things. I’m pretty sure my love of beautiful cards came from Aunt Judy; she never ever missed a birthday or other holidays. They were always signed with beautiful notes. My Uncle Harv took good care of her since she fell ill. They weren’t as active in their lives after, but he never ever forgot the church or loving his family. I never ever left without giving them hugs and kisses. The hugs were when we saw him in the store, or at a family function, or anywhere that we saw him. He would come pray, talk and listen if you were in the hospital. He was just a great soul. They do not make them like that anymore. When the siblings were adopted it gave them a set of grandkids to enjoy. Both his daughter and brother moved back from out of state. I was old enough to understand and young enough to realize how lucky those four cousins were and still are. Those four kids gave him several great grandkids too. We were blessed to have him in our lives for as long as we did. He was such a positive person with huge confidence and faith. I hope I never forget graces at family functions and the tone of his deep voice. At his funeral I learned what a great singer he was and I never knew that or I forgot if I did. I wish I saw him more than I did in the last few years. It really didn’t matter how long it went between visits, but I left it go too long. I don’t know how HD brains forgot some things and remember others. I know his wife and his siblings and the extended family will not be the same without him.
How weird is it that two of the people that I know influenced me the most are my Dad’s siblings and not my Mom’s. I always wondered why I never felt so connected to others in the same way. I’m not saying I couldn’t give you some great memories and or influencing. My family on both sides have been and continue to be influencers.
My Aunt Pat passed a few years ago. She had bravely fought hardships and losses and the cancer took her too soon. My Mom and I were just talking about how I never learned to sew like her. My Mom never realized that I bought my sewing machine so I could learn from her. She was one of the craftiest people. She also loved sunflowers and snowmen. She really loved my son and treated him like she would her own grandkids. Give her any idea and she would work thru to find a solution. I only wish she had been around to see him grow up and continue to spread the creativity :). My Mom shared with me how she learned to be a crocheter and it just went to show her persistence to create and by creating showing beauty. Maybe I would have even learned to bake or cook more if she was around, because my Mom and her used to make the best food, cookies and candy. Yum yum yum! I remember her love for my brother and I. She was important.
I had an uncle that passed away before I was old enough to remember him. My Uncle Laird was an alcoholic and died in a car accident. My Mom used to tell me how he would pat my back as a baby to put me to sleep. So in my mind hearing about that accident really kept me from an extreme amount of alcohol consumption. I owe that partially to her memories. My Dad had a brother that was a Vietnam War Vet and was deeply changed by alcohol, agent orange and what we now know could be attributed to HD. I remember seeing this man stumbling around and middle of the night conspiracy calls when he was drinking. He was a kind guy until the alcohol would whistle his tune. I would get so angry with him for leaving the car in some crazy crazy places. Alcoholic tendencies were seen on both side of the family. I didn’t want to piss away all my hard work because my personality is very addictive. I saw this early on and just stopped drinking. With my later health issues, even a sip usually does me in. Occasionally, I still find enjoyment in the fruity goodness of someone’s drink. My body just doesn’t like it. I did my share of drinking, but for the most part it was after I was 21. I really wanted a new car, new clothes & a house aka a life & family. I knew all of that couldn’t be achieve by me being an alcoholic or social drinker. My inability to drink kind of alienates me from others, because so many of today’s society drink. I often wish that I could just enjoy one with supper or after a hot day too. I guess that makes me fortunate.
I can remember staying an afternoon with my Aunt Jean and we were going thru her highschool memories and looking at her hat & tassle, pictures etc. I decided that day I wanted to be Valedictorian. I had always been book smart. I set myself a life goal. I don’t remember if I shared this with her or not. She wasn’t involved in the best personal relationships and I guess that day I realized that I didn’t want to be stuck in an abusive relationship. She wasn’t strong enough or confident to do anything else at the time. Even though her significant other aka partner wasn’t the best person or Dad he was in her life a long long time. Through watching him and hearing about his life; I knew I would never ever take recreational drugs. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I watched cousins become users and addicts. I watched some get clean and go through so many ups and downs — too many.
To be continued ……
Disclaimer if family or friends are reading this – don’t take it personally if I haven’t mentioned you. I’m sure whoever you are; you have influenced my life in some way or another.