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Grief before someone dies is natural and nothing to be guilty about

What most people never talk about is the grieving you do before someone who is ill dies. I suspect most people feel guilty for grieving before but it’s real and it hurts just as much to watch someone die as after, sometimes more. More, because you feel alone because you don’t want to burden the person who is sick or the other family and friends.

Grief before can feel like a never ending tunnel that is only going to get worse. And it isn’t just the grief, it’s the tasks you are performing too. If you can get yourself into a head space of service it’s wonderful but sometimes you just can’t get there. Watching someone deteriorate before your eyes is hard and the physical things you have to do can make you resentful and grossed out and then you feel guilty for that and the losses mount up.

You think if you have to change one more diaper or change the bed one more time that you are going to run screaming down the hall and you get mad at them and at yourself. If you have to listen to one more delusion from someone in dementia or one more whine, you are just going to yell shut up!

You worry every time they bruise and they bruise at the slightest touch that you have done terrible harm even if the nurse or doctor tells you it just comes with it, you see the spread of purple and red and worry. They will stop eating and you want to try and make them even when told that it is a sign of their loosening of the ties to their physical body. And you go some place like your car and cry or just stare at the sky trying to gather yourself for another round.

I’ve been there now way too many times, now. This is your tax for loving. This is your tax for living and unless you are terribly narcississtic and selfish you do it and you keep on doing it. There is no reward for it except love. You have become a priestess of Hecate and no one asked you if you wanted to be a priestess of Hecate.

Hecate stands at the crossroads and waits for your loved one and you are one of the midwives that will hand your loved one to her. Brighid stand with you too and you are wrapped in her cloak ready to help you heal your heart.

It is natural and human to grieve before. Reach out and grab hands and hearts with people who are there to catch you. You may think you are alone but many people have been there before you and can be a light in the tunnel you see before you. Death is healing as much as any medicine. It is the end of pain for the person you love. It is not the end of your pain unfortunately but it can be shared. Let people help, Let people love you. And know that it is alright to grieve before and to keep going and you don’t have to be strong, you already are because you are there. You are not alone.

 

 

It’s going to be a rough week.

July 30th is always a hard day for me, thank heavens it’s not a weekday this year because I tend to turn into a sieve while also turning into my own version of a pensieve, so many memories. July 30th is the 11th anniversary of my little brother’s death.

Today the pensieve is serving up music which is always hard since music was a bond our whole family has. I remember lying on the floor with him, playing 78s from mom and dad’s collection of records. Everything from the Mikado and Victor Herbert to Bozo and the Birds and Danny Kaye telling fairy tales and Hans Christian Anderson’s stories and a lot of Scottish folk songs and Harry Lauder.

He was a year and half younger than me, so I had a shadow whether I wanted one or not. We were in choir together, and in bell choir and in school choir but he took a left turn and took up the trumpet after torturing us for a semester on the violin, it was not his instrument. He joined band and orchestra and I stayed firmly in choir but played my guitar and recorders at home, you can hide in choir.
Mom and dad took us to concerts and musicals from the time we were little. Some of my earliest memories are sleeping in dad’s lap at the Hollywood Bowl under a starry sky and watching deer creep down the hillsides. I think our first musical was Brigadoon but it may have been Peter and the wolf too.

When we got to college we took voice class together and I was always more terrified for him than me even when we had to do recitals. He went on to do musicals and I was stage security and prompter. I did take piano but had to drop out because every time I had to play in front of the class I spent the hour before vomiting from stage fright. When Cam took piano the professor recognized him by his hands. He told Cam I had the best piano hands he’d ever seen. Wish he’d told me that but I just couldn’t do it.

I have a rather eclectic music collection and I put my Kindle on shuffle today, I shouldn’t have. It started to play Broadway musicals and the switch got flipped. I remember him singing in Fiddler as one of the sons, I remember him in the chorus of Hello Dolly but most of all I remember him in Babes in Toyland.

He played Barnaby and had a grand time twisting his moustache and trying to scare small children. That was the show I did security because some idiot had designed the stage door to open onto the main hall and not into the dressing rooms. Cam had to navigate the hall to get to his dressing room and the first time he got kicked all the way down the hall by small children with hard shoes since you used to get dressed up to go to the show and tennies are not dress shoes. His shins were black and blue. Cam was the bad guy in the black cape lined in bright red and with his top had and moustache he was easy to see especially since he was 6’4”. After that night I was his protection and since I was really good at the death stare, no kid dared kick him. Pretty funny 5’8” me staring down 5 year olds and sending them running. Cam was a big teddy bear, I am not! And I’d already been camp counseling for 5 years so I was good at the death stare. He hated scaring the kids in real life,on stage it was funny, I thought it was funny, period. I wish I had a picture of him in full makeup. I’m sure there probably is one back at school but I would have no idea how to get something from the mid 1970’s from them.

He ended up getting his BM in Music, in Opera, the one kind of music besides rap I’m not that fond of and one in computer science after his brain cancer went into remission the first time.

So this is going to be a hard week and Saturday was Mary’s birthday so the fun just keeps coming. Sigh…

Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday

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Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday. My mother always referred to me as her mother’s birthday present since I was born just after midnight on June 2. I always thought that was a complement. Now I wonder if that was just another way to distance me as her changeling. Another thing she called me when I was little or her fairy child.

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I’m a lot like my grandmother and my mom greatly disliked her mother. Grandma was adventurous, curious and always learning new things, all the things my mother wasn’t. Grandma and my Uncle Winn were the only ones in the family that wasn’t always judging me for something. My eye disability, or because they considered me homely, my lack of athletic ability, something, and I was well aware of it early on by their tone of voice. I still react to people’s tone of voice when they speak to me, not what I see.
But Grandma saw me and not just as a mini me of her. Her gift to me after my eye surgery was not a stuffed animal or a toy but a beautifully illustrated version of Grimm’s fairy tales and not the Disney versions either, the original gruesome ones. I adored it and I still have it and one of the few times I outright tried to kill my little brother was when he coloured in it. A homicidal 7 year old is not a pretty thing.

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I spent most summers with her in their house in Leimert Park where I was the only white kid on the block and to be truthful I never noticed I was, until someone pointed it out. My grandparents never said anything to me. They were just my friends. But most days I spent lying on the wide front porch watching ants or we took drives and we went places like Marineland to talk to the whales or one of the many piers in LA or we went to see all the buildings my grandfather had designed for Hunt and Chambers. We went to the San Diego Zoo where she talked the bird keeper into letting me hold and feed the toucan. She taught me to talk to trees and to listen to nature and we took walks around the neighborhood every summer evening. She taught me divination with her gypsy deck and told me family history stories. She taught me to embroider and cross stitch on gingham and hoe to make clothes for my collection of troll dolls. She taught me chants to do when I was learning to weave paper. She taught me Scottish fairy stories, all our clans and Scottish folk songs.

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She taught me to be curious and to always keep learning. She had gone to the Alaska Gold Rush in 1906 when she was 16 by steamer with her best friend. She gave me a bracelet of wolf teeth on gold wire that she had brought back. It’s way to small for me to wear and it was way before conservation so she wouldn’t have thought about killing the wolf but it sits in my drawer and is one of my treasures. She was a member of one of the first women’s groups in the US called the Friday morning club.

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She taught me to listen and try to make good decisions based on information and logic and to always want to know WHY? unlike most of the other adults I had contact with. She taught me what other people thought of me didn’t matter, what mattered was how I felt about me. She was really my best friend and when she died when I was 17, I was totally bereft. Even though I had lost a lot of my great aunts and uncles and my great grandmother, it was the first time I knew what grief really was. I still miss her.

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She was born in Ontario Canada near Hamilton in 1890 and came to Los Angeles at the age of 11 on January 1, 1901. Her parents were born in Scotland and Northern Ireland and they went by train across Canada and down the West Coast, evidently they wanted to go cross country but couldn’t because trains were being attacked at the time going through the Southwest. She married my grandpa who was 5 years younger which I guess was a huge scandal at the time and graduated from what is now UCLA with a teaching degree in 1910.

She was an expert silver smith and leather worker and I have a trash can she made of wood and then covered in worked copper covered in woodland scenes and a table with a leather table top.She was taking Japanese cooking lessons when she died.  I just hope I measure up to her someday.

Jesse Alexandra Cumming Sjoberg, my great grandmother didn’t want a kid and was busy making jam when my grandmother decided it was time and when my great-grandfather wanted to know what to name her, she said name her after yourself, so he did.

 

I remember this day for my people. Blood of my blood

On Culloden field

http://www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Home/

May the dead lie peacefully here
May they know their lines carried on all over the world
May they know we remember them
May they know we still bear their names
May they know that through us they still live
May they know we remember their bravery
in the face of a well fed and well armed army
when you were hungry and armed with little more than swords
against cannons.
May they know we remember the sometimes foolish seeming cause
May they remember
May we remember
May we remember
May we remember

I remember the Stewarts of Appin
I remember the MacGregors
I remember the Livingstons
I remember the Robertsons
I remember my dead.
Kat Robb

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
in days of auld lang syne?

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou’d the gowans fine
We’ve wandered mony a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne

We twa a sport’d i’ the burn
From morning sun ’til dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand me trusty friend
And gies a hand o’ thine
We’ll tak a good right willie-waught
For auld lang syne.

Robert Burns

And do me a favour, and don’t piss off me gran and please sing ‘syne’ not ‘zyne.

Yule Cookie – English Matrimonials

English Matrimonials

1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of butter
3/4 cup of raspberry jam (Mom used Mary Ellen but use the good stuff)

Measure flour, sugar, oats, salt and butter into bowl.
Mix with hands to a crumb-like consistency
Place half of mixture in an ungreased 6×10 Pyrex pan and press firmly
Cover with jam and top with remaining half of mixture
Press firmly
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

Should be slightly candied around the edges and not too moist in center
Cut when cool
Makes 3-5 dozen

The recipe can be used as a dessert by substituting 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce or cherry or apple pie filling for the jam. Serve warm with ice cream.

Grandma Sjoberg’s Coffee Bread

Mom always made this Christmas morning.

2 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
2 yeast cakes
1/4 cup lukewarm water
8 cups flour
2 eggs

Scald milk in small saucepan; stir in melted butter, salt, sugar, and cardamon. Cool mixture to luke warm. Pour water on yeast. Stir until dissolved.  Pour into milk mixture. Add beaten eggs and 4 cups of flour. Beat well and work in remaining 4 cups of flour.

Place on board and knead until smooth. Place dough into greased bowl, cover with damp towel and let rise 1 hour. Punch dough and let rise again about 1 hour. Return to board and shape into 4 braids. Top with nuts and granulated sugar.

Bake at 350 degree oven until medium brown.

This was another recipe my Grandma had to stand by my great-grandmother with measuring equipment to translate “a little of this” and “quite a bit of that”.