nurturing thursdays: did you talk to your child today?

My daughter and I spoke at some length this evening, after she got home from teaching dance classes and rehearsing students for an upcoming competition. We’re indeed blest to share such closeness all these years, talking on the phone for hours…like best girlfriends.

It wasn’t always that way.

Until she was 16 when I accompanied her to Georgia to train with Atlanta Ballet, I was mom. I set the rules and she followed them. It wasn’t like I had to punish her, it’s just that she knew the boundaries within which to operate to keep everything on an even keel. Because my husband’s job kept him on the road and at the office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I functioned like a single parent. Even more so when my daughter and I lived in Atlanta while he remained  in Washington, working to pay the bills.

The boundaries were stretched when she dated her first boyfriend. Their relationship lasted 3 years or so, during which time there were the usual highs and lows accompanying first love. Hers. He’d already been in and out of several relationships. On my own to figure things out, I did my best. There were conflicts for sure, but my daughter knew I always had her back. Early on I tried to send the guy packing because I thought he was pretty selfish. I relented when she ran after him. Eventually he drew me in with his charm. I was still under his spell when my daughter finally broke up with him. Thank goodness she did. He really was a selfish opportunist.

My daughter fared no better with the next few romances. She kept dating losers. Eventually these failed relationships coupled with a profession that requires so much emotional and physical stamina, caused her to spiral downwards into depression. She eventually reached out to us. Thankfully! Bursting into tears on the phone, she immediately agreed to come home so we could help her. 

I flew east to help her pack and see to last minute arrangements. The ballet company kindly offered to hold her job until she returned. For 2 months, our daughter was under psychiatric care. It was determined that a concussion she’d had as a child probably altered her brain chemistry. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the accident skewed her perception of reality. Dance probably helped divert her attention from negative thoughts. There’s just so much choreography to memorize.

Only when she encountered the usual mind games that come with a job and a boyfriend, did our daughter start to overthink everything. On the cusp of adulthood, she tried to tackle her problems on her own. Dance friends her age were little help, since they were burdened with their own problems. Years passed; things worsened. A psychologist she engaged only made our daughter’s task more daunting. She could not figure out how to put her life back together again after those raw, gut-wrenching, one-on-one sessions. Her safety net, my husband and I, lived 2,000 miles away.

With the help of a few close friends to whom she finally opened up, our daughter started to find her way out of the black hole that engulfed her. Thank God for them. Thank God she reached out for help. Thank God my husband didn’t think twice about bringing her home so we could help her heal. Six years later, she’s excited to be marrying a young man who cherishes her for who she is. Her happiness is priceless.

Today my daughter told me of a 12-year-old dancer in one of her classes who lost her brother this week…to suicide. He text his friends, thanking them for trying to help. He told them they did all they could, and asked that they help his parents. Rumor has it that he had been distraught over a failed relationship. Although it’s not certain.

My daughter cried on and off the day she heard of the young man’s death. And the following day, she thought “He was only 16. A baby. And he didn’t live to see today.” She still registered disbelief when telling me about it.

Talking to our children is a lifetime blessing. We wield so much influence over them, whether we know it or not. We can never take for granted that…

…our loving words…can save their lives.

…i know.

………hugmamma.img_5209.jpg

(View more inspirational thoughts at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/nurt-thurs-would-you-glow/

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advice…

Tricky business…giving advice. It’s like walking a tightrope. One misstep and you fall into the abyss, never to be heard from again. 

I never give advice, even when asked. I can inform as to what I would do, or have done. However I’ve never felt qualified to tell someone else how to live their life. Being the youngest of 9, I’ve never come from a place of authority.

Whether or not my inability to give advice is the reason I don’t take advice well, especially unsolicited advice, I can’t say for sure.

What I can say is that my life has been a testament to the fact that like a hornet’s nest, when someone tries poking around in my business attempting to straighten me out…I can sting with the best of ’em.

Just as I don’t tell others what to do or how to live, I don’t go on the offensive right away. I try to deflect the “holier than thou” attitude…by not saying anything, or by charming the pants off the one giving advice…tongue-in-cheek, of course. Only when I’m backed into a corner will I lash out…like an animal fighting to escape, 

I’m never proud of what I say or do in the heat of the moment. And yet I’m also totally clueless as to why someone would go so far as to badger me. Unless it’s to hear me say “You’re right; I’m wrong.” And not that I’m never wrong, it’s just I prefer to think we’re all entitled to our own opinions. 

Someone once said she felt an aggressive person knowingly terrorizes a weaker person. There’s some truth in that.

The strong act; the less strong react. Perhaps that’s the way of all species.

Of course most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We can be strong when the need arises. We’re not always wearing our armor  prepared to do battle. In fact it takes me awhile to assemble mine. There’s always the to-ing and fro-ing. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? Shouldn’t I?

The upside for me in penning Journeying towards her best life with Pat is that I get to chat with her about other things, including issues with which I might be dealing. And believe it or not, she reaches me in the way others might not. 

How is that you might ask?

Well first of all, Pat doesn’t hit me over the head with a hammer. (Figuratively speaking, of course.) While explaining the opposing viewpoint, she’s doing so while stroking my bruised ego…“… your personality has always come through loud and clear and I’d never want you to change.”  Very smart maneuver. She also agrees that the person nailing me to the wall isn’t very smart in going that route. I totally agree, especially with me.

So while I’m still not inclined to totally let down my guard, I am definitely seeing the other side in a different light. 

Thanks, Pat!

The old adage is true……you get more with honey…than you do with vinegar. 

…with me you get everything…within reason, that is.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: a true friend likes who you are…and lets you know it

I’m certain my female readers can relate when I say…at the moment my “plate” is full to overflowing.

It may not seem that way to look at me, but keeping my mind from becoming unhinged is a daily exercise. At times it’s almost as strenuous as the weight resistance class I’ve begun doing 3 times a week. If I lost a few pounds I know it would lessen the load I have to push off the floor, just as I’m positive once my life is decluttered my mind will return to point balance once more.

Easier said than done…both…losing those last 10 pounds and ridding my brain of its overload. At least for the time being.

Enter…friends!

Just when you need to take the “edge off” the craziness in your life, a few good friends lend a hand…or an ear…or both.

I have three “go-to” girlfriends…Cindy, Mary, and Suzy.

We tend to weave in and out of one another’s lives with very little, if any, fanfare. We never apologize for lapsed time. We just pick up where we left off, even if many months have come and gone since we last got together.

Our friendships are casual. We’ll either email or text synopses of what’s going on at the moment, knowing we’ll expand further over coffee and a bagel, or salad and some pizza.

What I love best about these gals is their love of family, their upbeat attitude, their can-do resolve, and their easy laughter. And with each of them, I feel loved and valued for exactly who I am. 

There’s an unspoken acknowledgement with each of these ladies, that we’re good moms, hardworking wives, contributing citizens, and above all, compassionate people. 

What’s more we’re not inclined to pass judgment on one another. We don’t offer unsolicited advice. Instead, we compliment one another wholeheartedly and without hesitation. 

Good friends not only love one another…they truly like each other.

I like Cindy because she’s extremely humble, speaks thoughtfully, and exudes so little effort when she laughs with abandon.

Mary is a rock. I like that about her. Although the youngest of 7, you’d think she was the eldest the way she manages whatever dilemma befalls her extended family. I’m always amazed at her fortitude and no-nonsense demeanor. She gets things done…and moves on.

My friend Suzy use to be my neighbor before she moved out of the neighborhood. I’d see her mowing her lawn once-in-awhile, but she was up the hill so we never really spoke. And she worked full time, so I’m sure she had better things to do than while away her weekends in idle chatter. When she married a widowed neighbor whom I greatly admired, Suzy and I became fast friends. As retired “snowbirds,” the two go south to California for half the year, but when they’re here she and I fall back in sync so easily. She’s a friend who makes me feel very glad I’m alive.

I make friends easily because I genuinely like people. And I like letting them know how I feel. Most folks respond with grateful hearts. Only a few, like Cindy, Mary, and Suzy, know to cherish what I am offering…

…my heart on my sleeve.

………hugmamma.

 

write on edge: it takes two to make an accident

Contrary to what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “It takes two to make an accident,” my daughter and her car were fully equipped to make the unfortunate happen without anyone else lifting a hand, or in this case, driving a car.

After a long, arduous day of dance rehearsals, my daughter got together with some friends to unwind from their very physical jobs. Eight hours as a dancer running through choreography time and time again can be wearing on the brain as well as the body. So a glass or two of wine can go a long way in numbing the mind and the muscles.

Unfortunately, alcohol and sleep do not mix well unless you can fall right into your bed.

On the way home from getting together with her friends, my daughter must have nodded off for a few seconds when she was nearing her apartment. Her car slammed into a car parked alongside the right-hand curb. The impact frightened the heck out of her, and brought occupants of the nearby house running to see what caused all the racket.

At 11 p.m. on a quiet, charming, tree-lined street everyone was probably getting ready for bed. Accidents were a rare occurrence. While not overly-wide the roads were a decent size, allowing for parking on either side with ample room for passing cars. It’s more than likely then that my daughter’s running into a parked car was THE event of the month. The neighborhood was probably abuzz with what transpired for some time to come.

From what my daughter told my husband and me hours later, the aftermath of the accident seemed to unfold in slow motion.

The owner of the car hit by my daughter’s car was not even in town. His girlfriend was minding it while he was away. Imagine her hysteria over her boyfriend’s smashed-in automobile? Evidently, her mom had to calm her fears as well as my daughter’s. A huge task for any mother. And one for which I’m still very grateful. I wished I could have been there to offer some comfort as well.

My daughter called 911 to report the accident. More than an hour-and-a-half later, the police arrived. In the interim she had called her boyfriend to keep her company. With feet bare and wearing only a ti shirt, he showed up minutes later and stood with her on the sidewalk in the cold, night air. Had they known how long the police would take to arrive, perhaps the kindly mom would have corralled everyone inside her warm house. Who knows? I can only speculate what I MIGHT have done under similar circumstances.

Because she had just gotten her driver’s license months before, my daughter was obviously devastated. Besides feeling badly for those directly involved, she felt tremendous guilt about having abused our trust in her living on her own 3,000 miles away. Only nineteen at the time, my daughter was striving to live like a grownup. In her estimation, she had failed.

After taking care of the details with the police, our daughter returned to her apartment with her boyfriend. With him by her side, she called us at 2 a.m. Of course, we awoke to the phone ringing with heightened trepidation. All parents fear the worst when their teenagers are not at home, whether they’re in the same city or thousands of miles away. More quiet than normal and with great sadness in her voice, my daughter revealed what had happened.

My daughter has a tendency to judge herself and deliver the verdict before we even know she’s on trial. She’s struggled with this dilemma since she was a child. Perhaps it’s something she has in common with many children who feel their parents are perfect, never committing any crimes themselves. We’ve since set her straight. Nobody’s perfect.

After listening to her, I quietly explained to my daughter that our concern was primarily with her safety and that of others. Our stress level diminished considerably upon learning that she was fine, and that no one else was involved. The insurance would pay for damages to both cars. Shedding a few tears of relief, my daughter handed the phone off to her boyfriend who thanked my husband and me for understanding the situation. He explained that were he the one calling his parents about causing the accident, they might have bawled him out. It made me feel good knowing that I got something right as a parent.

The next day and for several days afterwards, my daughter had to handle all the issues concerning the accident. She had to communicate with the insurance company to have her car towed, to contract for a rental car, to have repairs to the other car paid, and so on. All the while she was trying to heal her psyche of her self-inflicted wounds. It took some time for our reassuring words to settle in permanently. Quite some time.

Experiencing her first accident propelled my daughter forward into becoming an adult. There was no turning back after that. For obvious reasons her boyfriend was able to pick up where they left off before the accident. He demanded her undivided attention once he felt she’d had sufficient time to brood about what had happened. Unable to give herself entirely over to his needs, my daughter began to realize that she could no longer give herself over to partying like a teen any longer. The accident was her rite of passage.

Now 27, my daughter has weathered other life-altering experiences, some good, some not-so-good. With each she’s grown in her personal and professional life. All the while I’ve looked on with more than a little interest as her doting mom. And as such, I’ve learned a thing or two about myself, and about parenting a child.

It doesn’t always “take two to make an accident,” but it does take two to forge a great relationship. Parenting my daughter has taught me the fine art of stepping back so that she can… 

…own her own life…

………hugmamma.IMG_4744

(I had written this as an entry for write on edge, but unfortunately missed the deadline by one day. I thought you might still enjoy reading it.)

mars and venus…aligned

As in the film Back To The Future where caveman-like shennanigans brought out the knight-in-shining armor, this video share by pyschotherapist and marriage counselor, Linda Hoff-Hagensick, at  http:www.marriagetherapy101@blogspot.com takes us back to the basics of a great relationship.

Venus, fragile and other-worldly, borne upon the strength and cunning of Mars, crosses over the hellish landscape below, untainted and intact.

With regard for one another, each content with the stations to which they were birthed, they grow in harmony and love forever-after.

flawless…doesn’t exist (except maybe…in diamonds)

My last post, daily prompt: perspective (and happiness) https://hugmamma.com/2013/11/20/daily-prompt-perspective-and-happiness/  garnered a number of touching comments. In particular, two on Facebook that were from nieces recently married. Erica…a couple of years, if memory serves me correctly, and Carol…earlier this year. Absolutely lovely women, both.

carol on the left...just months prior to wedded bliss

carol on the left…just months prior to wedded bliss

Because my husband and I have lived on the mainland, away from family in Hawaii, since 1976, the younger relatives know little about aunty and uncle except for what their parents have told them. And from the warm, loving reception we receive whenever we return home to visit, it’s safe to say my sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law still think highly of their oldest brother and his pupule  (Hawaiian for “crazy”) wife.

I’m a fun-loving, compassionate person most of the time. Partly because I’m a happy-go-lucky native island girl like my mom was, except when her demons got the best of her. And partly because of my Catholic upbringing. The part to do with…turning the other cheek, and being humble. The latter an Asian asset, or burden, depending upon what I’m up against.

For the benefit of my nieces, and other young kin, who might think their aunty is flawless (although I’m sure that’s not the case), I wanted to share some of my so-called “skeletons.”

I want to assure them that there are no perfect marriages.

None. Nada. No how. No way. Never will be…unless two robots get married.

Furthermore, with faults of my own, I try hard not to judge others.

Sometimes I fail. I admit…I’m human.

So here goes…

in our first year of marriage, in a fit of jealous rage…I hurled a fan at my husband…it broke; he didn’t (thank God! I’d have served time)

during that same period I served him “spam a la baked ham”…for months (he said he loved it)

 again as a newlywed, when I smashed in the back fender of our  beetle as I was rounding the underground parking lot pillar…I blamed my husband for my rushing  to pick him up from work…you see, he was late getting off and kept me waiting (I got all dolled up…false eyelashes, pixie wig and all…which made me “drive like a bat out of hell” in the first place)

while we dated, my husband enjoyed volleyball dates with friends but eventually gave them up…perhaps because I sucked at it (when I served the ball it didn’t even clear the net)

for one week during the first year of dating I kept breaking up with my husband…I wasn’t sure we would last (I wasn’t even thinking marriage at the time…just “going steady”)

I don’t know if young married couples these days experience the same kinds of broohaha that us baby boomers did. We didn’t have Facebook and Twitter and iPhones to compound an already precarious time in the life of two, unrelated individuals trying to…tie the knot and become one.

Marriage is like a pretzel.

Pretzels/pretzel rolls

It’s funky-looking and tasty.

But you don’t want to just sit there looking at it. You want to savor every mouthful…

…so go ahead…there’s more where that came from…

………hugmamma.

(And by the way…our marriage is still…a diamond in the rough.)

 

what friends are for…

…especially best friends to whom you’re fortunate enough to be married.IMG_5146

A friend from the past, someone with whom I spent fun times when I lived in New York many, many moons ago, recently mailed me copies of photos she’d found while perusing her albums.

At the time hubby and I were probably in our late 20s, early 30s.

The memories of our early married years came flooding back as I gazed at those pictures.

I remembered the ups and downs which most young couples endure. That we made it to 43 years, and counting, is a testimonial to the love we’ve shared since we first laid eyes upon one another. Well, maybe it was lust which turned to loving and just as importantly…liking.

Appearances have a lot to do with individuals being attracted to one another. However, personalities that mesh, and having things in common, also figure prominently into the mix. As time passes, the latter two may even acquire equal status with good looks, if not surpass it altogether.

In his younger years I thought myself lucky to have my own Elvis Presley look-alike. Suffice it to say some girlfriends agreed with me, as did total strangers. Some even making a play for my husband. While on a business trip to Chicago, my husband said one woman told him if he ever returned he should look her up. Duh?!? Excuse me!?! 

June 2011 00010Even older women gasped at my husband’s good looks, one realtor asking me how it was that I came to marry him. Obviously she considered me a plain Jane by comparison. I didn’t hold it against her though, because we bought our house with her help. And I really did like her.

An executive with a company my husband had been employed by in NYC, hired him into a management position when she joined another organization. That was the beginning of the awesome career my husband has enjoyed these last 35+  years. And the woman, now in her 70s or 80s has remained a friend, in touch from time to time.

While my husband remains as attractive to me as when we first met, his caring ways are what I find most appealing now. I was reminded of them once again as he helped me through these last few days, as I strove to recover after fibromyalgia knocked me off of my feet.

We help each other, hubby and me…

…isn’t that what best friends do for one another?…

………hugmamma.Imported Photos 00151

 

computer “catfish”

English: Photo of Notre Dame linebacker Manti ...

English: Photo of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o taken in 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Media coverage of the Manti Te’o brouhaha continues to dominate the news. It’s up there with President Obama’s cabinet appointments, the resurgence of the Egyptian uprising against the government, and Apple’s tumble from atop Wall Street’s pyramid.

I cringe whenever the pundits recycle the Notre Dame star football player’s romance with a fictitious, Internet girlfriend.

Being from another time, another generation, it’s difficult to comprehend a serious, romantic relationship where the parties have never met in person, let alone embrace one another.

Call me old-fashioned.

The Dating Game

The Dating Game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as I’d prefer to try something on for size before buying it, I’d like to spend some time with a guy before taking him home to meet the folks.

My husband and I dated for 3 years before we got engaged. Early on in our relationship, I broke off with him. For a week I vacillated between committing or quitting. I’m sure I drove him crazy, calling every day to explain my dilemma. Even as my best friend, he couldn’t counsel me as to what I should do.

Obviously, I stayed. Four decades later we’re still in love…and still best friends.

Computer dating can work. My daughter’s friend is a prime example. She struck gold on the first try. Her eharmony match is now her husband.

On the flip side, there’s catfishing. 

A malicious by product of the Internet, catfishing draws an unwary user into an intricately created web of deception. A mountain of lies ensures the victim’s entrapment. But like a house built of cards, the inevitable happens…it all comes tumbling down.

English: Native Hawaiian schoolchildren around...

English: Native Hawaiian schoolchildren around 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a native Hawaiian, I can’t help but wonder if native folks are more susceptible to being bushwhacked? Are we so gullible as to let others usurp our land…our hearts?

…manti te’o…in love with a computerized woman…daft? or dumb?

………hugmamma.

We all have special people in our lives. I thought this photo and these loving words…said it best.

………hugmamma.

Creativity Aroused

My Diamonds
My Diamonds, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
bumps in the road
reveal one’s true friends
exquisite diamonds
>>:::<<

I love this photo because of the people in it.  This is my hubby and my mother, the two most important people in my life.  They are my rocks.  Together, they make an even stronger and more solid rock…my rock…a rock tailored for me.  Throughout my struggles over the years, they have remained on this journey with me with constant help, support and encouragement.  When you encounter “bumps in the road,” you learn who is with you for the long haul…and who is not.

Also, they are both mine!  Yes, I am possessive about that.  Hubby is MY hubby.  I’m an only child, and the only one who calls my mother, “Mom.”  From those perspectives, they are both mine.

They are exquisite diamonds!

(This…

View original post 83 more words

what i love most…

…about my husband.

 There are many things for which I’m grateful. Since they are too numerous to mention, I’ll choose one.

He lets me talk…for as long as I like. Ad nauseum…if I’m so inclined. 

With nary a peep…or a hiccough…or a boo! He merely…smiles…nods…or agrees.

Oftentimes, I’ve felt this was a shortcoming. 

In conversations by myself…monologues, if you will…I’ve wished…and pleaded…for more input.

Two-way communication.

Less silence…while dining out…in the car, on long drives…in a heated discussion.

I should’ve known when I heard his college, Valedictorian speech…3 wordsSilence is Golden. 

With that he walked off the stage…and into my lifefor better or worse.

Forty-five years later…3 dating, 42 married…my husband is still theStrong, Silent Type.

You’d think I’d have gotten the message…long, long ago.

Blame youthful immaturity…for having my head…in the clouds.

And so decades later…having failed to mold Adam…according to Eve…

I’m content to sit under the apple tree…

…eating of the fruit…

…which promises…

…eternal love.

Even if it has to be…in silence.

………hugmamma.   😆  

Love ± Zero

Love ± Zero (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

front and center…a golden nugget

English: Some gold nuggets from Alaska.

English: Some gold nuggets from Alaska. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the great lessons of older age is pausing  to reflect upon life while it continues to unfold. In our hurry to do it all and have it all before our mortality is eclipsed, we often let slip through our fingers small nuggets of gold. Worse yet when we set aside the biggest nugget of all, in the hopes of finding one even more humongous.

Living with someone is a compilation of habits, both good and not so good, accumulated through the days, weeks, months, and years we’re together. Romance and sexual palpitations give way to affection and sweet gestures, if we’re lucky. However butterflies in our stomach, whether thousands or simply a handful, are more often displaced by nibbling moths as we go about our daily grind.

It’s so easy to speak unkind words, raise an eyebrow in disdain, or lower the iron curtain of silence. In youth we pride ourselves upon our self importance, our independence, our ability to move on…alone, if necessary. Not so quick are we to dwell upon these things in older age.

Our significant other becomes like one with ourselves. No longer are the lines of demarcation so absolute. They’re fuzzier now. The distinctions almost a blur.

The same blood doesn’t course through our veins, having been born of different parents. But in a relationship that has weathered the tsunamis of life with steadfast resolve…water is thicker than blood.

While still requiring practice and firm resolution, acknowledging the value of those who have stood by our sides is imperative as life’s embers start to dim. As our insatiable appetite for things and glory wanes, what’s left are small golden nuggets. Always present, but often overlooked.

Bite your tongue when your loved one leaves a dish in the sink, rather than placing it in the diswasher. Give your loved one  that leftover, pulled-chicken sandwich you were hoping to devour for lunch. Allow your loved one to complete tasks when inclined, especially when relaxation is a luxury.

A less than sparkling home, an opportunity to lose weight, and keeping one’s blood pressure in check are a good tradeoff for keeping our loved ones happy and still over-the-moon with their choice for life-long mates.

…one golden nugget…is all i need…

………hugmamma.   🙂

365 photo challenge: companionship

No man is an island,
No man stands alone,
Each man’s joy is joy to me,
Each man’s grief is my own.

We need one another,
So I will defend,
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.

I saw the people gather,
I heard the music start,
The song that they were singing,
Is ringing in my heart.

No man is an island,
Way out in the blue,
We all look to the one above,
For our strength to renew.

When I help my brother,
Then I know that I,
Plant the seed of friendship,
That will never die.

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companionship…affirms our existence…

………hugmamma.

weeding 101…life lesson?

Whew!!! Spent a couple of hours hunched over, pulling out weeds…one, two, three at a time. Only certain weeds seem to proliferate in the shady slope to the left of our front yard, blackberries being the biggest nuisance of all. If I’d have known I’d be pulling them out every year for the last 14 years, I’d have been content with learning to make jelly by the case loads. Don’t fret their demise in that area, however. An overgrowth of blackberries comingled with other vegetation, forms a massive hedge separating our neighbor’s property to the right. I prune it back from time to time, just so it doesn’t feel like we’re being overrun by the Green monster with octopi tentacles.

As I tackled the overgrown patch of weeds, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ajuga and sweet woodruff I’d planted last summer, and the summer before that, still thrived. Not only did they manage to grow amidst the weeds that were fighting to occupy the same space, but those hardy grouncovers thrived despite drought conditions. With a canopy of evergreen branches overhead, very little rain makes it through to the thirsty plants beneath. It’s survival of the fittest, and as you can see from the picture, there’s no shortage of survivors.

Pulling at the weeds, hundreds of them, I reflected on what it was I was doing. Seeing the ajuga and sweet woodruff, green and strong, as if happy to be free of the entangled brush, made me think of relationships that go unattended. We all get caught up in ourselves, our needs, our passions, our entertainment, our problems, our happiness. It doesn’t help that we no longer engage in personal communication, face to face, talking on the phone, and hand-written letters. Gadgets have replaced all of that. The bells and whistles attached to the “next best thing” are the “robots” which were only fantasy a few decades ago. They allow us to control our interaction with others. With the click of a button, or a point of the cursor, we can pause all communication, or shut it down completely. No excuses necessary; no thought for the other person.

But it’s never too late to clear through the technological barbed wire, and return to the basics of human interaction. It needn’t be etched in flourishes, like my friend Sylvia’s letters written in calligraphy. Putting a stamp on a hand-written card and mailing it the old-fashioned way, picking up the phone to reconnect once-in-awhile so we remember what human voices sound like, or having coffee to catch up on what’s been happening are starters to peeling back the layers of stuff that’s come between. 

Relationships, like groundcover, can, and do, survive neglect, if we strip away all the “weeds.” Sometimes a particularly nasty blackberry vine can leave scratches, but in a few days time the marks are gone. A scar or two may remain, but the pain is long over. In some relationships, the passing of time may not erase the scars or the pain. In those instances, a simple “I’m sorry for what I said, or what I did” may be necessary before  communication can progress. Just as water is necessary for plants to survive, so too relationships need to be watered with compassion, in the hopes they will grow anew.

Weeds are a bother, but there may be an upside to them after all. I’ll have a little more respect for them when…

i’m yanking them out by the roots…hugmamma. 😉

 

like flies buzzing around…inside my brain

A proud mother watches from afar as Prince Wil...

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One more thought before I finally end all discussion about Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story. It centers upon her devotion to her sons, William and Harry. Not that there ever were any doubts. But first-hand testimony of a heretofore, unheard from source, only strengthens the universally held belief that the Princess of Wales excelled at mothering. 

According to Meredith Etherington-Smith, then marketing director of Christie’s Worldwide, who from September 1996 to July 1997 helped Diana prepare for the sale of her gowns to aid her favorite charities:

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

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The British Royal Family in 1880.

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One thing she did take seriously was her role first as mother to the boys and second, as Meredith put it, as the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century. ‘Her relationship with the boys was patently a wonderful one…She was a very good mother. I expected them to be more protective of her than they were, and they weren’t, they weren’t mewling and puking and clustering round her. They didn’t have a neurotic relationship. It seemed to me to be perfectly healthy and normal and nice and a great tribute of all to Diana and secondly to Charles.’ ‘Constitutional plans–well, she felt her long-distance role was to be the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century, that the influence the Queen Mother had had on her grandchildren in a way, she felt that was the kind of role which in a curious way she had been chosen for and one did feel that there was a bit of divine right entering into this, a little bit of fate. And she felt that William should be a democratic King, that the boys needed to have friends, that they needed to know their generation, they needed to know politicians, not just Tory ones, that they needed to know the Blair children. They needed to be part of contemporary English life, not an English life that was really out of date by the end of the war–and I’m paraphrasing some quite long conversations about this. And her job was to make sure they were released from the glass cage, and that when he did come to the throne, a lot of people would know him, and he wouldn’t be a mystery, wouldn’t be a royal freak, that he would be a person. I think that she very much thought she would be a power behind the throne…Diana emphasized her desire that William should be a ‘very English King‘: she felt that her Spencer blood had a lot to contribute. ‘She felt that because of the spider’s web of marital alliances and blood they (the Royal Family) weren’t English. “I come from an English family,” she had said proudly, and “we (the Spencers) are a lot older than they are.” She was very proud of the Duke of Marlborough, for instance.

The Prince Willam Cup. The trophy that is cont...

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Who is hotter? Prince Harry or Prince William?

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Diana was very anxious that her boys should not become isolated as the previous royal generation had been, as indeed their father had been. That was why she had wanted the boys, and William in particular, to go to Eton because they would have proper friends there and not sycophants, ‘Diana said, “There’s no messing around at Eton about someone being the heir to the throne. If you’re not popular, charming, intelligent, or good at games, you’re not going to rate, are you?” And so William knows a lot of people. And the interesting thing about that she said, “I think they’ll be protection, those friends too. They’ve grown up together and they’ll be protective.” And they are. You don’t see grab shots of William that often, and why? Because his friends don’t utter. She’d thought all this through. That’s what I mean by being smart.’ ‘They had money which they carried and spent and they went shopping. In other words she was trying to provide as normal a life as possible–they could come out from behind the glass window, and that was her great legacy.’

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in t...

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Princess Diana

 Why would Princess Diana be so forthcoming with Etherington-Smith, you ask? Probably because she was older, very much like her other confidantes, Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Margueritte Littman. “Meredith surmised that Diana was very comfortable in the company of older women. ‘I think possibly, without being too psychotherapeutic about it, because of the lack of a mother…most of her confidantes apart from Rosa Monckton, were actually older women…and I think she felt very comfortable, they weren’t competition, they were fun and she could become slightly girly with them without the baggage of “I’m the most beautiful person in the world”…’ “

Another random, final, or maybe not so final, thought occurred as I lay awake last night, reading I Love You, Ronnie. President Reagan had a very human, extremely sentimental side. Apart from his family and a few close friends of the couple, I’m sure no one suspected what a great romantic he was, and how he could wax so poetic. At the same time, however, his vulnerability as a human being comes through. To know that the man who could dial up a third world war lay bare his soul in love letters to his wife, is hugely touching. I find myself remembering Ronald Reagan as President, but trying to imagine this newly revealed man behind the strong facade. What I picture is someone like my husband, my father-in-law, friends in high corporate positions. Not only them, but husbands and fathers the world over who, to the best of their abilities, care for their families.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an Ameri...

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The following letter was from a man to his wife, his best friend. It’s a letter any man could’ve written, in fact. This one just happened to be from a President to his First Lady, although at the time he was a working stiff, and she was a housewife.

Ronald Reagan
Pacific Palisades
Thurs. (May 24, 1963)

My darling
     Last night we had our double telephone call and all day (I didn’t work) I’ve been re-writing the story of my life as done by Richard Hubler. Tomorrow I’ll do my last day of location and then I’ll call you and I’ll tell you I love you and I’ll mean it but somehow because of the inhibitions we all have I won’t feel that I’ve expressed all that you really mean to me.
     Whether Mike helps buy his first car or spends the money on sports coats isn’t really important. We both want to get him started on a road that will lead to his being able to provide for himself. In x number of years we’ll face the same problem with The Skipper and somehow we’ll probably find right answers. (Patti is another kind of problem and we’ll do all we can to make that one right, too.) But what is really important is that having fulfilled our responsibilities to our offspring we haven’t been careless with the treasure that is ours–namely what we are to each other.
     Do you know that when you sleep you curl your fists up under your chin and many mornings when it is barely dawn I lie facing you and looking at you until finally I have to touch you ever so lightly so you won’t wake up–but touch you I must or I’ll burst?

Cropped screenshot of Ann Blyth from the trail...

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     Just think: I’ve discovered I can be fond of Ann Blyth because she and her Dr. seem to have something of what we have. Of course it can’t really be as wonderful for them because she isn’t you but still it helps to know there are others who might just possibly know a little about what it’s like to love someone so much that it seems as if I have my hand stretched clear across the mountains and desert until it’s holding your hand there in our room in front of the fireplace.
     Probably this letter will reach you only a few hours before I arrive myself, but not really because right now as I try to say what is in my heart I think my thoughts must be reaching you without waiting for paper and ink and stamps and such. If I ache, it’s because we are apart and yet that can’t be because you are inside and a part of me, so we aren’t really apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn’t be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can’t be because I love you.

Your Husband

Queen Mother Rose

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…would that all men could, and would, …..bare their souls
…..without flinching ….. at the thought ….. hugmamma.