Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life Hangs in the Balance

I had another nightmare. This time it was 430 this morning. Bill woke me out of it then told me my mother posted on her FB wall that my uncle was bleeding out from his liver. I am not on FB.

Uncle Jack has had a tough year. He has been in and out of the hospital. I fear this time, he maybe dying. I had a long talk with my mother this morning. She is flying out to Southern California tomorrow morning. I hate that my mother is in so much pain. This is her second eldest brother. Her eldest brother, my uncle Bill died in 1996. I tried to make her laugh by talking about the hurricane and how it had the audacity to stall over the place I was to spend vacation. Not only did the hurricane stall but shifted backwards then moved 6 miles per hour. I told her if a plane lands, I will still be in New Orleans even if the hotel is gone. I made her laugh a little bit.

My mother is the oldest daughter but fourth child of my grandparents and she has been the backbone of our family since I was very small. When my grandparents needed help, it was my mother who took care of them. When my grandparents were sick, it was my mother who took care of them. When my grandparents died, it was my mother who made all the arrangements. When my uncle Bill came down with cancer, it was my mother who took care of him. When my grandmother and uncle died, it was my mother who was there beside them.

I think about the night my grandmother died after a two year fight with lymphoma and how I sat on one side of the bed as my mother sat on the other side of the bed. My grandmother died while holding the hands of her granddaughter and daughter. I am the second oldest grandchild, therefore I had my grandparents for my entire childhood and part of my adulthood. Grandpop died when I was 20 yrs old. Grandmom died when I was 30 yrs old.

I also had a relationship with my uncles because I lived with my grandparents as a baby then toddler and always spent a great deal of time at my grandparents' house even when my mother remarried. My uncles were single and spoiled me. I was called "cupcake, sweety pie" and told constantly how much I was loved. As an adult, I kept in contact with uncle Jack even when he moved to California then to Texas and back to California again.

When I wrote an article years ago for Laurel Hill's news letter, it was focused on my uncle Jack and his memories of growing up with the Prouds who once were caretakers of Laurel Hill.

If he passes, I will fly from New Orleans to California. My mother will be strong for everyone else but I know my mother and that mask of strength hides the hurt and pain. Someone needs to be there for her. I am very lucky to have the family I have. There are many of us and we know how to pull together in times of need.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Day in The Life

New Orleans still stands tonight. Hopefully, the electricity will be back on by next Tuesday.

I read Ann Romney's speech and I have to say, I am very impressed. I will be very happy if our present president is not our next president.

I taught Family Education tonight and the new counselor I am currently training said, "I do not think I can pull it off". I reassured him he could. John (counselor) walked in and said, "Hey, I felt the same way when she (me) trained me. I never thought I could do it the way she does it." (He was a former high school English teacher) I laughed at both of them. I also said, "you would never believe I once had social anxiety and could not even eat in public". I am very animated when I teach a class. I love to teach as much as I love to counsel.

Human Resources called me and asked me if I could teach the Addicted Brain for orientation next week. I had to refuse as I will be on vacation. However, I was delighted to be asked. Everyone is unique in their own way. I believe my background in both science and behavioral health has opened doors for me.

My younger grandson started school today. Wow! He is in second grade. My older grandson will start middle school tomorrow. Wow! He is in sixth grade. Where does the time go? The younger grandson is creative. The older grandson is athletic. They are good kids and I am blessed.

Tomorrow is a day off and a visit with a son.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Spiritual Journey

Let's just say my grandparents especially my very Irish Catholic grandmother whom I loved and adored are probably turned over in their graves by now. I committed the first sin of divorce (after 23 years) then I committed the second sin of remarriage (5yrs and counting) , none which are accepted in the faith I was raised.

I spent 12 years in Catholic schools, even attended an all girls high school. Daily requirements meant kneeing on the ground to make sure the hem of your uniform touched the ground. It also meant having a battle with a nun over wanting to take chemistry vs. a sewing class. As the good catholic girl that I was, I married in church and raised my three sons in the faith, which meant high tuition. There was one thing, I always struggled with and that was confessing "sins" to a priest. As a child growing up, I considered priests and nuns as sub-human.

Then I grew up and discovered for myself that priests and nuns were not only human, but cruel and unjust in many cases. Our last cardinal here in the city I really had some bad vibes about and low and behold, he covered up many sexual abuses that occurred. I just could never understand the vow of poverty when one is riding around in a car driven by another and living in a mansion, while people starved.

I knew in high school, I would never attend a catholic college. I stayed true to my conviction and I am grateful for I learned to view the world outside of the rose colored glasses of the catholic religion.

However, I struggle on a spiritual level. I researched the religions of my other ancestors, the Lutherans and still could not find common ground. Do you have any idea how much guilt I carry because I got a divorce and remarried? In the eyes of the faith in which I was raised considers those acts justification for not being allowed communion or a funeral from the church. It does not matter why one may have divorced, it only matters that one is divorced. This is the very down side of being raised the way I was raised. Guilt was always the forefront of every decision.

Anyway, I know I am not the stuff of the catholic faith. I have looked into other religions from Lutheran to Mormon to Non-denominational and I feel a connection to the Church of England. I believe I may fit into the Angelical Church known as Episcopalians. It is close enough to Catholicism, but not run by a human (Pope). It also does not look at divorce as some sort of horrible sin. Believe me, there are worse sins.

My next step is to actually contact a priest and discuss the matter. I am so done with guilt and shame over a decision, I made. Is it so horrible to want a happier life?    

Monday, August 27, 2012

Family of Cats

Closely watching Issac travel through the gulf. Hoping it does not hit New Orleans. For completely selfish reasons as Bill and I are headed there for vacation on the 4th. If a plane can land, I will be there no matter what...........

The facility where I work and my view from the office is the Wissahicken Park. Since I started at FBHS five years ago, there have been several employees who leave out food and water for the many stray cats that roam the area. Sometimes, I see a raccoon (better than the walls in my 3rd floor office) or a squirrel at the bowls. Lately, I have been seeing a family of grey cats/kittens. As a matter of fact, I saw one kitten at the bowls when I left work this afternoon.

What fascinates me the most about this family is how protective the mother cat is. She is always close by either laying on a picnic table or in the wooded area just beyond where her growing family feeds. She keeps a close eye on her babies and at the slightest sound alerts them back to the woods.

The kittens are pure grey as the mother is grey and white. I counted three babies. They seem to be about ten weeks old and I am sure it will not be long before they leave their mother and head out in the woods alone. I used to question whether or not it was the right thing to do by feeding the stray cats, as they keep having babies and the cycle of birth and death continues. Honestly, I love watching them and it brings so much peace in the middle of a crazy day. It also makes me want to catch one and bring it home. Strays are clever. I remember playing in Laurel Hill Cemetery as a kid and trying to catch a stray kitten that lived underneath one of the mausoleums. I clearly remember it was an orange tabby and he/she was fast on those four little feet. I never did catch him though I tried for hours. I never gave it a thought as to whether or not my mom would allow me to keep it as we always had pets growing up. Maybe one day, I will tell you about my ducks.

For now, how wonderful the world would be if human mothers cared as much for their own kids as many do not and will throw the kid away for a bag of dope.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Family of Birds

It was about a month ago that I watched the last of five baby birds gain the courage to leave the nest. Nature is a magnificent thing and I was blessed to have witnessed it.

It began in May when I  noticed a nest tightly weaved over one of the cameras outside the side door where I work.
I watched through the large glass window as two birds took turns sitting in the nest. As one bird sat in the nest, the other bird hung close by. This process went on for alittle over two weeks. Then one morning, I noticed five tiny heads popping up from the nest.

The parents took turns feeding the babies. Again, one parent stood closely by as the other parent fed the babies. I thought to myself, how wonderful those creatures were and how well they parented and tended to their family.

It was another few weeks before they began leaving the nest. I watched as one would stand on the outside of the nest as it tested its wings then climbed back into the crowded nest. It was almost as if he was thinking, "What the hell, I am not ready for this". As the days went on, I noticed one by one the nest was becoming empty. At first, I thought I hope no one fell out and checked the area beneath the nest only to look up and see three little birds standing two feet away perched on a piece of wood overhanging on the other side of the nest. Apparently, the three of them made it out of the nest and flew a short distance away and stayed perched as the parents continued to fly back and feed them.

Two were still in the nest and I noticed one of the two tested his wings constantly. By the following morning, there was one left in the nest. The other four perched a few feet away on the wooden overpass. This last bird tested his wings, stood out over the outside of the nest, then crawled back in. This bird did this for several days as his siblings sat perched and on occasion flew around the nest. I noticed the parents continued to feed the four but stopped feeding the one still in the nest. It was a bit sad to me, as I watched the one in the nest constantly cry out for its parents to feed him.

Then the next morning, I noticed no one was in the nest and all five perched on the wooden overpass being fed by their parents. For the next week, the babies flew around the nest chirping and singing then one day they were gone.

How wonderful it was for me to see and experience nature up front and close. I witnessed birth to independence.
  I got to experience one of the wonders of nature from start to finish.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Laurel Hill Cemetery

Up and out early today to visit my son. I always enjoy my visits with him. We have a lunch date next Thursday when I am off because I will work the holiday weekend. One topic of conversation was that crazy shooting in NYC where the police opened fired in a crowd because someone claimed the man fired at the police. However, evidence says otherwise. The man shot his former boss but never fired at the police.

He also showed me the sneakers he purchased and had sent to his daughter. They are totally cute and I am sure she will love them. I also showed him a preview of my next book. He suggested one minor change and I have to agree with him. The cat Shark Shark is spoiled beyond belief. He walks in the kitchen and cries and my son immediately gives him a treat. That cat has a charmed life!

After my visit, Bill and I did some genealogy work at Laurel Hill. Here are some pictures I took.

Overlooking the graves of General Meade and the family of Artists, he married into, the Sergents.

An interesting find not too far away.
Every Head Stone Tells a Story.

And the steps that lead to and from them.

Bill standing on someone's mausoleum. Important to photograph that perfect shot.

 Both children died in 1850 but from what disease? Addendum 8/26, I researched the children's cause of death. It appears they died of Scarlet Fever. Little Sarah Ann died before her 5th birthday on April 20, 1850. I could not find/read the exact date of death of her brother. I did discover another Hobson age 28 who is interred in Laurel Hill who died of Consumption (TB).

Views from different points.

They extended a back road near my grandparents/great grandparents (paternal side) graves and we came across a site awaiting its newest member.
Top of over box awaits on the lawn.

And this is where it will go once the casket is lowered into the over box already in the ground which will not happen until the funeral guests leave.

Modern Day Americans never like to talk about death or funerals though we all die and some of us will be interred in this fashion. Death is a normal part of life and ritual is a focal point of it. As for myself, I will not be subjected to this type of ritual.

Cemeteries are a major part of genealogy research and I find them both interesting and fascinating as they all tell a story. I also find them peaceful. Before I photographed the bench at Meade's grave, I sat upon the bench with eyes closed then looked up upon the sky through the trees. I do not know if there is a heaven or a God. I do not know if spirits can come back or if ghosts really roam the earth. I just know that whoever we are this is one destination none of us can avoid,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I am really excited about the project/book, I am working on. Tonight, I promised myself to stop after three hours of working on it. I got very little sleep the last two nights because I spent more than six hours both nights working on it and still had to get up by 5am for work. Of course, one day I will learn how to work an eight hour day. I doubt that will be anytime soon. I have eleven patients on my caseload in which (God help me) nine are female. Too much estrogen in one room.

I was also asked (by the director) to work on a project for patient orientation that includes all the basics including the addicted brain. I think it is funny when he told me to please keep it in "layman terms" because I tend to speak on scientific terms. Does that mean, I have to "dumb it down"? (insert laugh)

I told him it would be done tomorrow. I guess I better start it. I am sure a few notes on an index card will not cut it. Oh well, I will fit it inbetween group, one on one sessions, assigning patients to counselors, while training a new counselor and covering for another counselor who is on vacation.

That last paragraph made me tired.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Project #1

I have spent countless hours working on a book. I fear I will be too tired for my day job, so off the computer and into bed, I go. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012