One-Liner Wednesday: Paco memorial

Paco and an Irish rainbow

Remembering my father on the first anniversary of his death.
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/09/14/one-liner-wednesday-he-was-a-fun-guy/

August 1st

When we were visiting in London last Christmas, daughter E gave us a calendar featuring photos of granddaughters ABC and JG. Most often, the photos were taken in that month the prior year, so turning the page for August brought a four generation photo with Paco from their visit last year.

The timing of that visit was a blessing, existing in the tiny window of their being able to get travel permission from the US and UK and before Paco’s final steep decline that led to his death in September.

I’ve been struggling this summer with the memories from last year, many of which have been difficult.

It’s good to have this photo with smiles that I can feel in my heart, even if my eyes fill with tears.

JC’s Confessions #24

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, then a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.

JC

Over the many years of caregiving and volunteering I have done, people have often advised (admonished) me to “take care of myself.”

I don’t think it is something that I do very well.

I do try. I eat well (usually) and sleep (generally not so well, but not for lack of trying). I do my physical therapy exercises most days and speak with my counselor on a regular basis. (I love getting massages but the pandemic and other complications have interfered with what used to be a regular part of my self-care plan.)

I admit that the amount of stress, grief, and loss has been high for a lot of years. I would sometimes joke in recent years that it was too late for whatever stressor to give me gray hairs, although I notice that my eyebrows are beginning to turn silver and that my facial lines seem to be more indicative of sadness, unless I am actively smiling. (Or maybe this is straight-up aging, rather than stress-induced?)

(Hmmm…wonder if my extensive use of parentheses in this post is a form of denial, distancing, or hedging?)

But here’s the thing. When people want you to “take care of yourself,” the subtext is often to put yourself first, which is not my nature as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I will always care about what people close to me are experiencing and try to do whatever is in my power (and sometimes attempt what is not really in my power) to help. I also feel compelled to serve my neighbors, whether near or far, which, given the state of the US and the world, is a huge task, but I try to shoulder my tiny sliver of it as best I can.

It’s a lot.

I can hear some people’s brains clicking with (totally valid) thoughts about boundaries and such…

And maybe I’ll manage that wisdom if I am gifted with enough years.

Or maybe I will always be “guilty” of prioritizing the needs of others before my own.

Or maybe that is just who I authentically am.

SoCS: list

I’ve made a list of blog posts I need to write.

Well, in my head, not on paper or screen.

And I won’t bother all of you with writing it here.

But, #SoCS can get checked off soon…

I admit that I’m in a bit of a lull when it comes to writing these days, especially creative writing. We’ve been travelling quite a bit. I’m also waiting out a grief wave.

The bigger issue with blog posts, though, is that there are a lot of heavy topics about which I want to write, most of them follow-ups to previous posts. JoAnna of the Forest suggested that it is better for my health and well-being to mix in some lighter posts, so I’m hoping this counts!

Hope to be back soon with another post, at least…

[LOL – I wrote this post relying on my memory of the prompt from yesterday, which I misremembered as “make a list” but I think this works. Just change the first sentence to “made a note.”]
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “make a note.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/07/08/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-9-2022/

this Fourth of July

It’s the fourth of July, commemorated here in the United States as Independence Day. It’s supposed to be a “happy” day, but it’s hard to feel happy with our country mired in divisiveness and the undermining of our fundamental rights and democratic institutions.

I know I have been relatively silent here at Top of JC’s Mind lately. Part of it is a renewed wave of grief over Paco as we have entered the one year anniversary of his fall and final decline and the fact that I had deferred a large portion of my grief over Nana while dealing with his needs.

The larger share of my delays in posting, though, is that the posts I need to write about the Supreme Court decisions and the January 6 Select Committee hearings are difficult to write.

The Preamble to our Constitution proclaims that “We the People” are striving toward “a more perfect Union.” This Fourth of July is one of grief, watching my country lurch further away from that ideal rather than making halting, if messy, progress toward it.

SoCS: two

I have two sisters.

Two daughters.

Two granddaughters.

I had two parents, but they are both gone now. A few days ago, we observed the first wedding anniversary for them since Paco died last September. They celebrated 65 anniversaries together and this year would have been 68.

I can’t start recording all my losses. Too many.

I will instead, today, cherish the pairs that I still have with me.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “too/to/two.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/04/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-23-2022/

fits and starts

Ugh! There is so much stuff I want/need to do and not nearly enough brainpower to do it.

Admittedly, part of the problem is that I necessarily deferred a lot of things when I was involved with multi-generational caregiving for years and now there is a huge backlog that needs attention. Some are practical things, like dealing with the rest of the belongings of Grandma, Nana, and Paco that are still stored at our house and finishing the remaining work with Paco’s estate, including the final tax filings and, oh, our tax returns, too. Some are creative things, like writing blog posts and poetry, and the administrative tasks that go along with them, like getting submissions in, which I find both tedious and nerve-wracking. Some are educational, trying to stay informed about what is happening in the world and using that knowledge to advocate for social and environmental justice. And, of course, there are the errands, appointments, and household tasks that need doing, although I appreciate that B and T continue to cover a good chunk of the housework that I abandoned in recent years.

The biggest problem for me remains, though, that it’s difficult for me to muster the energy and concentration I need to tackle tasks that need critical and/or creative thought and decision-making. I suppose this is complicated by my INFJ-ness, which means that nearly everything for me involves deep thought.

It’s exhausting.

There is also the reality that I am dealing with several years’ worth of grief and loss. The difficult period leading to Grandma’s death in 2016 followed by Nana’s struggles with heart failure leading to her death in 2019 followed by Paco’s decline and his death in September last year left me with a lot of deferred grief, which I have only recently realized and begun to process. There is also the personal loss of proximity to daughter E and granddaughters ABC and JG, who live across the Atlantic from us. Overlaying these personal losses is the pandemic and the upheaval, suffering, and death it has caused. The death toll in the US alone is 955,000, which, as staggering as that figure is, is probably an underestimate. The world is also in the midst of a major ideological rift between democracy and authoritarianism which is terrifying and destabilizing. I have lost the sense that the US is on a positive trajectory toward “a more perfect Union” as our Constitution terms it, which adds to my sense of grief.

It’s a lot.

I know it’s a lot and there are valid reasons that I find my concentration and energy so scant. I know I should be patient with myself, as I would be with a friend or loved one. I know I should be practicing self-care and not admonishing myself for not having the wherewithal to power through all of this and “accomplish my goals” and “be my best self” and whatever.

I try.

Sometimes, I manage it. Other times, not so much.

Look. Today, I managed to write this post.

SoCS: dinner?

“Whatever” is usually my first thought when the question is “What’s for dinner?”

Not that that is what I say…

For almost forty years, I’ve been the frontline person in the house for shopping and deciding what is for dinner.

It’s not one of my favorite tasks. I’ve tried at various points to enlist help and can sometimes get an answer if I give people a few choices of what is on hand. There have also been stretches of time when I did hand off meal planning to other household adults, especially during the illnesses of Nana and Paco when I was too overwhelmed to deal with such things – or even to care much about food.

While I have been trying to be better about menu planning and execution recently, I’m still struggling. I think part of it is that I’m still alternating between not feeling like eating or even thinking about food and just wanting to eat anything in sight but not caring much about what that is. It’s likely related to grieving and part of the more general problem of still having limited energy and decision-making capabilities. It’s still difficult to make myself do things.

Or maybe that’s just an excuse or rationalization.

Whatever…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “whatever.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/02/18/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-19-2022/

a long haul

I’ve been thinking a lot about my late father, known here as Paco, recently.

I wish I could say that I am browsing old photos or remembering family holidays but, instead, I am mired in dealing with trying to settle insurance claims and begin the work needed to file his final tax returns and other estate sort of things.

Unfortunately, some of the issues are medical and it is bringing me back to a place of feeling helpless to alleviate Paco’s symptoms and not being able to get timely and accurate information about his condition.

It’s difficult and energy-draining and makes me feel like crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head.

I’m not doing that.

I am trying to shepherd my energy and steel myself to chip away at all the work. It’s going to take a long time to get through it all.

It remains to be seen whether I can get the sadness to abate somewhat before I finish or not.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/01/24/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-24th-2022/

1500 (depending how you count)

I am not at all diligent about my blog stats, but WordPress continues to throw some info into my notifications, so I know that I’ve just reached 1500 WordPress followers!

My blog page itself says I have 1,682 followers, which includes followers by email, twitter, and through my Top of JC’s Mind Facebook page.

Either way, yay!

I know that only a few dozen people read my blog on any kind of regular basis and fewer than that comment online, although it still takes me by surprise when I get comments in person from friends, as though I think only cyberfolks read my blog.

Whoever you are, whether you read regularly, occasionally, or just this one post, I’m grateful for your visit and invite you to return whenever you can. This is my 1,561st post, so, whether your interest is poetry, politics, the environment, spirituality, family life, health, or generalized musings, you can probably find something of interest in my archives.

This year, I’m hoping to pay more attention to my “JC’s Confessions” and “How does JC’s Mind Work?” series.

Admittedly, that involves my mind actually working. These last few years have been such a struggle as our family has dealt with the loss of the last three members of the elder generation, B’s mom, known here as Grandma, and my parents, known here – and in real life – as Nana and Paco. Grief still has me feeling scattered, but I’m trying to regain some focus. Maybe, eventually, I’ll even return to having some kind of a predictable rhythm to my days, including writing time. It’s been ages since I’ve had that.

We’ll see.

Whatever happens, I’m sure I will eventually put it into words here at Top of JC’s Mind.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Learn more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/01/02/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-2nd-2022/

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