Grandparents Day 2019

Today is my 13th Grandparents’ Day without my grandsons. You might think it would get easier with time, but it doesn’t. Holidays just don’t. Every birthday or anniversary or even the first day of school, is another day that forces you to think of what you have lost. So many memories never made! So many experiences unshared! No new photos to post on social media to compete with all of the ones your friends have shared. It hurts. Every time.

I’m sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable in reading this. My hope is that it will give you some insight and a reason to be understanding of those in your life who live with grief. It will always be a part of them, no matter how much time has passed. The kindest thing you can do is to acknowledge their pain, and let them know that you still remember their loved one. That is one of our biggest fears, you know – that they will be forgotten. Thanks for remembering with me. Monkey!

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Dream on Mother’s Day

I had a difficult dream last night. Neal and the boys had been kidnapped and I was searching for them frantically. Somehow Devon got away. I held him tight in my arms. I could feel him. I could smell him. I told him I would hold him close and never let anything hurt him again. Never. And we continued our search for Neal and Ian. But then I woke up. He was gone. I didn’t keep him safe at all. They were all gone, and I felt that horrible devastating grief like it was new again. Monkey.

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Garden Wars 3/17/19

I hope all my fellow guardians are being extra vigilant today. I don’t know if you remember from last year, but this is the day someone called St. Patrick sends all his mean little green squirrels called Leaper-Cons to attack all the gardens and show his power! Why, they even turned a whole big river to green. Unsure exactly what green is, but Brock says that means it smells like grass instead of water. That’s probably so that loyal dogs will be confused and try to walk on it.

Human slaves seem to be wearing green clothes today so they won’t get pinched. We think that means nipped. Squirrels have wicked teeth. One came within 3 feet of our slave today, but we soon chased it away. We have to protect our slave from injury, or she might be unable to give us treats! We can’t tell if the squirrel was green, because we can’t see colors, but we nipped that pinching in the bud. Or is it pinched that nipping?

Since last year we have found out that the magical queen of the cats, who is called St. Gertrude of Nivelles, claims this as a day of power, too. See why we have to be hyper vigilant in protecting our territories? Biting green squirrels and magically aided cats could be invading together. That Oreo across the street is probably plotting his magical strategy right now! You should see the way he sneers with his tail!

It is very hot in the garden today. This is unexpected. It has been cold for weeks and weeks! And water has fallen from the sky over and over. Now that there is sunshine, we have been invaded by packs of butterflies. Brock thinks they are crazy because of the random way they flutter around. But Hamilton and Merry are afraid they may be spies for the coming invasion. Crows are gathering in the big tree, and crows always show up at battles! That’s a sure sign of trouble ahead! Stay alert! Stay strong! Keep your garden safe! Monkey!

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Death Penalty Moratorium

I am right back in Hell.  I’m not sure I can cope with this argument yet again.

My daughter-in-law isn’t innocent.  She isn’t waiting on Death Row for the magic of science to suddenly unlock the prison door and let her go.  She confessed in graphic detail to hacking my son to death with a samurai sword and smothering their two little boys (3 and 7) with a pillow.  She took the police to the dumpster where she discarded her bloody clothes and gloves.  Calmly told my son’s last plea of “Help me!”  She did everything she was convicted of.  

The first jury couldn’t decide on penalty, so we were put through the agony of a second trial, all because the DA wanted the Death Penalty.  We would have been ok with a plea bargain for Life without parole, but it was thought her crimes were to heinous for that.  So, now what?  What happens to her?  What do we have to go through?  That whole thing was for nothing at all?  Sitting day after day in court hearing all the horrible details of the 92 blows my son received?  His severed fingers and hands?  Arguments about the stomach contents of a three-year-old?  Reporters following me to the parking lot and stealing from my blog?  Just, throw out that whole thing and chalk it up to experience?  Oh, well.  So sad.  

This is crazy.  I’ve had people from both sides of the question chasing me for interviews, asking me to write articles, ever since this moratorium was announced.  I can’t go through this up and down and uncertainty any more.  This is a horrible thing to do to the victims left behind.  This isn’t politics or philosophy for us.  It’s raw emotion.  It’s personal.  The whole argument pulls us right back into a dark, dark place.  How many times do you think we can crawl back out of that pit?

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Garden Wars 12/13/18

Wow!  What a quiet morning in the garden.  No sign of mouse or squirrel or even greedy sparrow!  No rustling in the hedges or branches!  No bird calls!  No feathery creatures complaining about a lack of the right kind of birdseed!

Such a peaceful morning must mean we have been exceptional guardians of the garden.  Word has probably gotten about. No one gives a severe barking better than we do.  We have driven away all of the riff raff!

Our human slave has put forward the theory that the silence in the garden was because of the hawk perched conspicuously on a branch of our tree.  Well, this is preposterous!  Why would one bird suddenly drive all of our enemies into hiding just by appearing, when we patrol this garden every day?  It’s nonsense!  I don’t know where humans get ideas like that.  We certainly don’t encourage our human to think for herself!  Monkey!

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Happy Ian Day, Sad Day for Women

Today is Ian’s birthday.  He would have been 15, and a student in high school.  Birthdays are always difficult.  They show you exactly how much time has elapsed.  All the things you have missed, that he has missed, are highlighted in stark relief.  I love him.  I miss him.

On the boys’ birthdays, it has been my habit to post a “Happy ________ Day” post, focusing on who they were.  Sometimes I suggest something that can be done in his honor – different for each one of them, since each one was different.  I post a photo or collage.  I change my ring tone to  something the birthday boy liked.  Sometimes I change things to a favorite color.  I desperately want to remember and celebrate who my boys were and share them with others.  I have posted such a post for Ian today on social media.  He was a bright, sunny, three-year-old, who didn’t get a chance to be four.

Today was also a difficult day because of the Senate hearing on the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  Like one in three American women, I have also been the victim of sexual assaults – three different times.  That could have been me facing all those hostile men.  I could have had to answer the questions of a professional prosecutor designed to poke little bitty holes in my story and make me seem to be a liar or a mercenary, or a dupe.  So, I want to talk to you about trauma and memory.  I want to tell you my experiences.

The first time I was assaulted, I was about 10.  My uncle took me into a big hug, and then proceeded to fondle my growing breasts.  It hurt.  I scrambled out of his grip and ran away.  Did I report the incident?  No.  I’m not even sure I had the language to describe it.  Vaguely I knew that it was wrong, and that it would cause a lot of upset.  I felt bad.  I feared I would be blamed.  And, I never said a word until I was in my 20s.

Why did I finally say something?  My brother was taking his kids to visit the same uncle, and my niece was the same age that I had been at the time of the assault.  What happened?  My mother told me that I must have misunderstood.  I may have not fully understood when I was ten, but I knew it was wrong. And I understood it when I was in my 20s and talking about it!  By the way, I have no idea of the dates of the incident or my relating of the story.  I probably didn’t even know the date at the time of the assault.  What 10-year-old knows the date?  The assault is crystal clear though, as if it was yesterday.  So is my telling of the incident and the hurt of having it blown off.

The second time I was assaulted, it was by a room service waiter in Rio de Janiero.  I was 16, and had accompanied my parents to an international convention that my dad was attending.  They were at a boring lunch meeting, and I stayed behind to read and write postcards.  I got hungry and ordered a steak sandwich.  After he set up the meal, the waiter reached out and took hold of my hair.  I thought he was just interested in the color.  My long blonde hair had caused interest as we traveled through Central and South America.  It was unusual to the people there.  Then he stuck his hand into my shirt and grabbed my breast.  He stuck his tongue in my mouth.  I didn’t know what to do.  This was beyond my experience. He only spoke Portuguese.  I tried to indicate that my father was on the way back and pushed him out of the room.

Did I call anyone?  No.  I was afraid.  What if they didn’t speak English either?  What would I say?  What if I wasn’t believed?  I hid in the locked bathroom to wait for my parents to come back, and all the while he kept returning and knocking on the door, and calling to me.  I could hardly breathe, I was so traumatized.  When my folks finally returned, they called the hotel manager and my dad held on to the man while waiting for someone to show up.  After questioning me in English and the waiter in Portuguese, the manager said that he would be fired.  That’s it.  Everyone continued as if nothing had happened.  It meant nothing to anyone except me – at least, that’s how it felt, as we attended dinners and went sightseeing.  My trauma was trivialized.  And, I do not know the date.

The third time I was assaulted, I was a 49-year-old, over weight grandmother.  I worked in the fundraising department of a college, and had gone in to the office on a Saturday to catch up on some work.  The phone rang.  It was an important, well loved alumnus, who wanted some duplicating done.  I went to pick it up.  He was wheelchair bound, and in a private home that cared for the elderly.  I was shown to his room and found it odd that he wheeled over and shut the door.  He told me I was beautiful and asked me to take him to my house.  I told him it wasn’t wheelchair accessible, and tried to get back to the duplicating.  He handed me to a huge stack of papers – at least a full ream.  I took it from him, and he suddenly reached around me with both hands, grabbed two handfuls of ass, and pulled me close.  He plunged his face into my breasts and rubbed his face back and forth, making smacking noises.  I managed to extract myself from his grip, but had difficulty opening the door, which opened inward.  He was too close with his wheelchair.  I had to squeeze around and try to wrestle the heavy chair away enough that I could slip out.

This time I called someone right away.  I reported the incident to my supervisor and to Campus Safety.  My first thought was fear that this man, who was always coming to campus events, would assault a student.  Did I go further and file a police report?  No.  A DA wasn’t going to file charges against an old man in a wheelchair.  He was revered and beloved by many rich, important, alumni.  I knew what the response would be, and as a single parent, I needed my job.  I needed my health insurance.  And, I didn’t want to be humiliated.

As far as humiliation goes, well, the incident flashed around the campus with the speed of light.  People actually said to me, “Hey, I heard about what happened to you.  That is absolutely hysterical!  So funny!”  I ask you, is it any wonder women don’t come forward and report these things?  “So funny” some of my colleagues thought.  A fat grandmother grabbed and groped by an old guy in a wheelchair strikes people as funny.  It wasn’t funny to me.  It was painful and humiliating.  It was traumatizing.  When I think about it, it is like reliving the whole experience again.  I don’t remember the date though.  It was a Saturday.  There are probably records somewhere.  But, no, I can’t tell you the date.  Does that make it a fabrication?

This has been a bad, bad day for me, what with one thing and another.  I hope my stories have at least been thought provoking.  And I hope you will still remember sweet, energetic, little Ian with me, with a smile for the beautiful child that was.  Monkey.

 

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Grief

Whatever the cause of death, what ever faith or religion we have, the pain is the same. It’s not a thing you even need words to understand. I can read what a father wrote about losing his daughter to the Black Death in medieval Europe, and know I am sitting right beside him. Our lives are nothing alike, but I know what he feels… Just as I know what a parent in any other time or place feels. I even understand why a monkey carries her dead baby in her arms for more than a week, unable to let go. And I empathize with the elephant who keeps gently touching and trying to wake her dead child. Grief is a primal thing, especially the grief for a child. We who have experienced this know that the differences don’t matter. The differences are superficial. Monkey.

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