Ever played dodgeball? Well, we played it a lot at lunchtime break in elementary school. That was grades one through six for you youngsters. Now mind you, I was a shy child and always got picked last for any team but I did play and I was good at most sports. Still, my school years were not my best years.
It was me that was usually chosen first in dodgeball. Believe me; it was worse than being picked last on team sports. Chosen first in this game meant being the first one everybody threw the ball at. Oh come on, this meant low man on the totem pole and the boys threw hard enough, but the girls matched and sometimes beat the velocity of the ball.
Here I am in my hand me down dress that I hadn’t grown into yet, and bubble gum still stuck in my hair from the night before. I closed my eyes and just knew that this was going to hurt. The first throw made me lurch forward and I fell in the dirt. The second throw hit me before I got up and somehow landed under my dress. Of course, that made my dress fly up and show my panties which made everyone laugh. Therefore, with a heart full of indignity I took my rightful place in the circle.
I got to throw the ball first and I missed. Even though I was able to regain my dignity, I caught the ball again. When I did anything, I really put all my energy into it and play my best. I guess that can be expected growing up in a family of tomboys, and being raised in a neighborhood of all boys. I had to play tough. The trouble was that while I was a tomboy and could climb trees with the best of them, I still threw like a girl. My turn to throw again landed smack dab in the middle of a girl’s stomach. Noticing that she didn’t even move when I threw the ball, I knew that I was being set up.
Back in the circle again, I lurched to one side and then the other trying not to get hit. The next thing I knew, I was eating dirt again. Of course, that is when the bell rang and playtime was over. I stood up, brushed the dirt off me and once again tried to regain my composure. Once inside I breathed a sigh of relief. Another day of indignity put behind me. I shuddered to think of what tomorrow might bring.
Of course, I wasn’t raised in a good environment growing up. The five of us would have been removed by social services if raised in today’s society. I was picked on a lot by the boys in the neighborhood and always felt as if my heart lurched backward every time I would get a cruel comment. I’d head home each time but stopped crying as I neared house. Unfortunately, I would end up crying before bedtime got there, and even more when I went to bed.
Occasionally I remember those school days. I don’t look at them as being too terrible. I survived into adulthood. When I got into my 30’s, I got five years of therapy. Believe me, once I understood that when a person becomes an adult, they do so by letting go of the past and taking responsibility for the adult you want to be. If we don’t do that, then our childhood continues to rule our lives and we never mature.
There’s a program here that gives a prompt. That is to help writers get their thoughts running again. Now, you may use these single words for that purpose, just for practice, or you may do them for fun.
I wrote a daily prompt a while ago that was on the word apology. I began by saying that an apology that consists of a short statement such as “Oh, sorry ’bout that” is an unacceptable apology. When an offense is committed against a person it becomes a personal offense. A personal offense deserves a personal apology. Sometimes an offender doesn’t realize that they have offended or hurt someone.
After 20 years, my personal offense against my family has become a painful realization of just how deeply that one act hurt them. I never dreamed that my actions would hurt anyone but myself. Seeing that it does, apologies are long over due. After I wrote and posted my apologies online, thoughts of my own attempt ran through my mind again. Slow motion flashbacks kept me awake night after night. This was a very sensitive subject to me and to my family. Once believing that my children, my stepson(s), our granddaughter, and my parents would not suffer any pangs from that act, but now I knew that it did. I removed the post. Unfortunately, I hastily destroyed it and wish I hadn’t.
A comment on one of my posts was a cry for help so, I had to write this post. I have to do this for my family because it has taken me more than 20 years to realize the unimaginable agony I caused the ones closest to me. Unexpectedly, I found myself needing to apologize to a number of people. That one comment made me imagine what happens to each family member when someone commits suicide. Jess, there was a day you revealed to me you remember the day of musical chairs. Then you asked where that was. I had to tell you that it was at the hospital for people who needed help.
This act would have hurt you in a way different from all the others. If you had known that when it happened, you would have realized by the time you were in grade school that your grandma would have been there in your life to watch you grow up. Had I succeeded, you would have realized this was my fault that I wasn’t there.
Your years of growing up were some of the happiest years of grandma and grandpa’s lives. The visits, the overnights, the talks, and the vacations we took together, we always tried to do things that your parents didn’t do with you. I would have missed all those things.
When someone commits suicide they don’t really want to die, they want to stop the pain. I remember wanting to die way back when I was a child, but I didn’t know why or how to do it.
He never saw any of the promises the recruiters made. He was in Afghanistan but a couple of months and they sent him home. He was in Bethesda Hospital for a while and as soon as he got out, he waited for a train on the deck and threw himself onto the tracks in front of the train.
To everyone that felt the sting of my actions, I truly believed at that time, I was only hurting myself. I truly believed that it would affect no one but me. Anyone who thinks that way needs help right now. I knew I was in trouble and headed for more, but I didn’t know how to stop it. Owing everyone in the family an apology, I am going to try to do that now.
My husband and I had a long talk along with my apology to him. This was the most difficult person I have ever had to apology to. When I realized how deeply my husband loved me, how much he depended on me to care for the family and all that had to be carried out. If he had me no longer, and had to take care of all the affairs, and how much this would have devastated Bill. I could see it then. He would not have been able to bear this happening to him. He had already lost so much in his life; this would have deadened his emotions to the point of physical and emotional paralysis.
JR, although you are grown now, you were young at that time. If I am correct, I believe you were 13. Words will never be enough and there are not enough words to apologize to you. I know that this did hurt you in ways I don’t know how, still to this day. You saw what was happening to me and I sincerely apologize for the unhappiness and uncertainty I caused in your life at that time. It was more difficult for you than any of the kids. You were at the age that you needed a mother figure in your life, and I let you down. In the younger years of yours and Jason’s lives we did have many good memories, but I am aware of the bad ones too. There were too many and I feel badly about those days too. Sometimes I still cry about those days, and I cry even more over the selfish act of suicide. We’ve never talked about it, so I don’t know exactly how you felt, how much you knew, or what damage I did to you.
Jason is not here for me to apologize to. It’s too bad that he was hurting so badly that he needed to make the pain go away the only way he knew how. (His girls were loved so much by him and they loved him too. He might have been able to put the brakes on and she would not be so wild.) I know that this hurt him at that time in ways I don’t know either. My attempt affected him somehow but I won’t know until the resurrection. He was a difficult child to get to know what he was thinking. It may not seem like it, but at times I felt as if he were my own too. He tried to reach out for help, but I was not able to cope with him at that time. Many times you saw me help him when he needed it no matter what. I know that your father didn’t know what to do to help either of you. He’s a good man and loves both of you. I do look forward to seeing him again. We both did the best we could at that time.
Now I turn to my own 2 daughters. Tammie, I know you were and still are very upset with me and there isn’t anything I can do about that. You only stayed with us a couple of months. When your father changed the lock on the door without your knowledge and you didn’t want to come back to us, I just figured that you didn’t love me, so I let you go. I didn’t order the police to put you on a plane back to us.
I don’t know how my actions affected you, if it did at all. You are further away from me than words. All I can do is apologize. I truly am sorry for my act of selfishness.
Lauralee, You were around when this happened and I’m so sorry that it hurt you; some day I would like to sit down and talk about that. I hate now what I did years ago. Our relationship has always been rocky at best. I know we laughed about that before, but it isn’t really funny. I am sorry that I don’t recognize how this affected you since we are not very close. I would like to talk to you about it someday soon. My deep apologies for not being there. Thank you for the amount of time that you let Jess visit us and spend so much time with us while she was growing up. I feel bad that we didn’t have time to have lunch when I was in Denver. I’m sure Jess told you I got pretty sick in Laramie. I won’t be back to CO again. The altitude I can no longer tolerate. The doctor said that once you leave, you can’t go back if you have lung issues.
This is for my parents who were thankfully busy with their own lives. My dad was sick and my mother was trying to take care of him and work at the same time. Now they are both gone, so I cannot apologize to either.
Why would you want to do that?
I underestimated myself all the time until I took a good look at the word and then a good look at myself. Using the thesaurus, I found the first word listed was “under value”
I didn’t know myself at all. Here I was plugging along and just going through the motions of life. I never stopped to think that I had any value at all. Until I got off “my little pity pot” and took an honest look at myself.
- Yes, I had faults, so does every one
- I just had no energy and I didn’t care if I made a difference in anybody else’s life
- I’ve never felt I was worth anything at all. OK I told myself..
It’s time to get off the pity pot and get some positive juices going. The reasons above are now things of the past. First of all, I am a person who is a giving person, I love people and it makes me happy to give to others. I know that I make them happy because they always tell me how glad they are when I stopped in and visit them, or bring them something to eat when they’re sick.
Then there are all those years that I contributed to society by working, paying taxes Then there is the fact that I have talent in some things. I love photography, and I have a knack for writing. It doesn’t matter, stories, diaries, resumes, etc. I found that when I looked at life through the eyes of an objective person, I have a lot of worth.
So, let’s all get off of our “little pity pots” and take a good look at ourselves. I will never underestimate myself again and I bet you won’t either.
My dear Stepson,
From the first day you came to live with us when you were eight years old, and the cutest little boy I had ever seen. You looked like your father, walked like him, talked like him. You followed after him all the time. Your brother had come to live with us at the same time. I’ll have to admit, we had some issues settling in and thinking of us as a family. I’m not sure that either you or your brother ever did.
I know you remember the house we lived in when your dad and I were married. Remembering one instance still brings tears to my eyes, and that is when your brother got up on the roof to help your father repair some shingles. I was standing there when you asked if you could help too. Your father said “No you can’t, just your brother can.” I saw the tears welling up in your eyes as you looked at me with disappointment on your face. Do you remember what I said? I do.
I said, “That’s okay, I need you to help me shop, you are so good at finding coupons for me. I just can’t shop without you. You’re my little shopping buddy.” So off we went. You were, content while we were shopping. You helped me a lot. You and I cooked together, you helped me with dishes, and sometimes you helped with cleaning. You helped me almost all the time.
That was just one instance and it may not even mean much to you. You do not have to be someone’s mother to see your stepson is hurting and try to sooth that big scrape. You do not have to be someone’s mother to feel your step child’s pain, see hurt in their eyes, and be there when he needs you.
I was the one who was there when you were in trouble, and it was me that talked to your teacher when he cursed. You don’t have to be a mother to watch your plays, and go on field trips with your class. Do you remember who cooked for the family, changed the sheets, cleaned the house, tucked you in and kissed you good night? Son, did you hate me back then?
I’ve stuck with your dad through each stage of dementia. With each skill he lost I’ve been here to cry for him. When a thought was lost because he couldn’t get the words out. I cried for him. Every time he would get mad at himself who was there to calm him? I’ve been here all along. You haven’t seen him slip at all. You just come here and think he is fine because he is having a good day. You have not been here for anything he has been through.
Do you realize that if I had not called, you would not even know you father has dementia? I say that because you never call him. I’ve called you. Why? Because I think you should know about your dad even if you don’t think of him often. Yes, you visited us three or four times, but you wouldn’t spend time alone with your father. It was you who was telling me to get him involved to keep his mind active. I didn’t see you trying to do a thing for him.
When I told you he was coming in and out of Alzheimer’s now. You immediately wanted to move us to Phoenix. You must have thought that he was able to be moved without falling further into Alzheimer’s. Your father is 72 he needs to be in a nursing home, but I am still caring for him. I take care of his every need. I dress him, I bathe him, I comb his hair, I shave him, I brush his teeth; and I help him eat when he can’t. He doesn’t like it when he can’t see me, in fact, he panics. This goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year.
Then just the other day I had to call you again because you don’t call your father. You would not even know that your dad was slipping in and out of Alzheimer’s. When I explained that your father and I talked about moving to Phoenix and neither one of us thought this was a good idea. He was worried about starting over again too.
When I told you about us not wanting to move down there, I knew you thought that I talked him out of it. You don’t really know your dad at all. I could hear it in your voice. I’ve heard that tone before. However, that Sunday your father could hardly talk. His head was on the arm of the chair, and random words ran together with no formed thought. Suddenly he snapped out of it when he was saying bye to his granddaughter. He joked with her, changed in an instant. I rejoice when he snaps out of it. That means I’ll have him with me one more day.
Saying good-bye to your father only and not just once, but several times. You made your feelings very clear when you did that. You’re not very subtle, you are very plain to read. You believe that I have not taken care of your dad very well. Let’s look at that. From the time he was in the nursing home to the day I texted you that he was slipping in and out of Alzheimer’s, how often did you even call to see how he was? I can recall the exact number of times. It is 0. Now when he is slipping away from me so fast that I will soon lose him, you think you can just move us down there and take care of him yourself. No, neither one of us wants to start over. Your dad and I have been married 29 years come the 23rd of July, and I want to have your father with me as long as I can.
I am your step mother and once you love a child you don’t just stop because he is a step child. I have no idea when you started to hate me, perhaps it was the day you screamed at me about the nursing home. Oh, it doesn’t matter. My feelings are; I was thrust into that position and I became a mother to you. Never will I ever claim to be your mother and I never did. I did mother you for 8 years. Think about these things, because lately you have burdened me with your hatred on top of the burden of caring for your father. It is what it is. I just have no more to say. I’m worn out.
Your loving stepmother
End of retirement phase
Along with dementia comes a loss of many things in our lives. When one party is sick, and the other has dementia, the medial bills stack up fast on the credit cards. With medical and bills piled up, something has to give.
Therefore, another phase of our lives ends after retirement. We had to sell our beautiful four-bedroom home on five acres. One reason was the medical bills that stacked up leading us to bankruptcy which put an end to our good credit we had at the time. Alzheimer’s had resided with my mother for 15 years by now. Dementia had been diagnosed in my husband Bill’s life. No more trips, no more dropping everything and going somewhere. Yes, the carefree phase of our lives had slammed the door quickly.
We had entered a new phase. It was one of high medical debt, and maxed out credit cards. There was no end in sight to this new phase either, especially after I fell and broke my shoulder. Necessity left me with five surgeries in the first year alone. My mother had to be moved to a nursing center and I still needed to be with my mom often. My mom needed me in these last of her days, even if she didn’t recognize me. I had to be sure that she still was taken care of properly. I had to take her laundry home and wash it because her clothes disappeared when they went to the laundry there. Dementia in the first stage was waiting at home for me.
It does sound like I’m whining, but I’m not. My mom died a few years ago. My husband’s dementia is in the second stages, but I don’t mind. Our bills are under control and we now live in a one-bedroom apartment. I wouldn’t say that life is good, but for me it is. I still have my husband home with me. I rejoice each day that we are able to communicate and be understood by each other. That is a joy in my life.
In the early years of our marriage, he had to care for me. He did it so lovingly and never complained. He was there for each medical emergency, and each surgery. Now it is my privilege to care for him. I hope that I can do that with the same love and gentleness that he has done for me all these years. So now begins the final phase of our lives and I will still thank our heavenly father for the Kingdom we pray for, the Kingdom that will rule over the entire earth, (Rev 21:4) and tells of no more death or tears.