Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April honeymoon

Months ago, before talk of marriage, before Daddy's fall, Bug and I had made reservations to come to this bike rally.  It is only 140 miles or so from the house.  You camp on site, so no DUIs, the entire 84 acres is set up for bike rallies.  The "town" looks like something out of the old west.  Board walks, double swinging doors on the two bars and people dressed in leather and boots.  It is a very cool place.  They have a stage set up in the center of the town and during the rally there is lots of music.  They have all the typical biker things, and the camp has filled up nicely, but the weather has not been conducive of riding.  Yesterday it rained from about 11 through the night.  We were lucky with all the campers, fifth wheels, motor homes and tents that we did not have to deal with tornadoes or hail like so many others along the path of this storm line.  Also staying in a fifth wheel is not like "camping"  it is "RVing".  You are snug and warm and dry which is wonderful since the tempterature has dropped from the 80s to the 40s.  Even with all the sun they are promising us today, it is only supposed to get into the mid to upper 60s. I can't wait for it to warm up to that.  I have looked out the window today, but have not ventured out into the cold sunlight.  I am not sure if I have ever mentioned it, but I do not like the cold.  I am a hot weather person.

Waynee Music Festival is going on at the Spirit of the Suwanee, but we already had our reservations here, and I am glad that we came, because it is very cool.  Hahaha, not just temperature, but also to come to a rally where people drive beautifual campers and motorhomes and drive gorgeous, expensive Harleys.  Each rally has its own personality, and this one is very interesting.  I do not stay up late, so not really the kind of person that enjoys rallies and concerts that involve late nights.  And they all involve late nights, but I enjoy the time we have spent here.  Mostly because it is escape from the real world.

I am doing better than I had anticipated, and I think better than most of the people knew me had expected.  I was close to my Dad.  I miss him.  I miss him mostly when I get home from anywhere.  I would call him and let him know I was home and safe  I miss him when I realize he will never see or hear or be a part of anything else in my life.  And yet I know that is not true at all.  He and my Mother are part of me and therefore will always be a part of everything I do.  But it is not the same.  I am not complaining.  I don't mind the little tug on my heart each time I realize I won't share something with Dad.  I am so lucky to have had that great of a relationship with someone in this world.  

I am still pretty much off and quiet away from my world.  My friends keep asking to share my world and let them be there for me.  That is hard for me.  My normal is  to try and be there for others, and then to hide and not impose when it is me.  That is so wrong and unfair to my friends, but it is strong in me.  I am spending more time in the garden.  That is helping me  Bending over and stretching out my long legs and arms.  Pulling weeds, dividing, moving plants to better locations, digging, and dreaming how beautiful the garden will be.  That soothes me like nothing else.  I love my husband and my animals.  I have family and friends that I adore with all my heart.  But the quiet peace of plants is healing me.  Not healing my cancer, healing me.  I still do not see my cancer as bad.  I appreciate all it has given me.  But because of the cancer and the drugs I am in need of the quiet healing of garden.

The loss of my Daddy, the horrible news of bombings and plants blowing up there is so much unhappiness in the universe that I escape to my plants.  I love how they grow, how they welcome the attention, how they quietly give back.  Somehow I can accept their gifts, where with my beloved ones I feel as if I am imposing. 

I know this is not fair, I realize that it is a gift to ask for a strong shoulder from someone, a gift for both, but I am not able yet.  My shoulders are thin and not as strong as they once were.  So I need more, and I will come back some day.  I hope so.  I miss my beloved ones.  Those familiar names here in my blog, that having been missing for so long.  But my chickens, with their flower names, Buttercup, Dewdrop, Brugmansia, Daisy, Iris, Hyacinth, Gladious, Magnolia, Camelia and Rose soothe me with their clucking.  Their roosters, John C Bennett and Mo, scurry around their hens, calling and scouting, always on guard to protect their precious flower girls.

My dear Kim described the wedding with my dear Vicki, Susan, Linda, Sioux and Lynnie always around me as a flower with beautiful petals each fluttering and dancing in their own beauty around the center of the flower who fluttered and spun in her own beauty.  Flowers, plants, earth, water, sunshine, shade, compost, my breathe, my nourishment, my soothing place to heal.  To cry and smile, to be quiet, or hum, sing or shout, the garden allows me that freedom.  It is helping.  But there is so much to do. 

The garden and I need this nurturing from each other. 
I am happy and humming more

Bug and I are away with each other, our April honeymoon.  We may not get away every month to have a honeymoon, but we will enjoy and appreciate anytime we can spend a little time to remember that we loved each other enough to make a commitment in front of precious one loved.  This month is a bike rally, in the rain, and its cold.  We are having the most wonderful quiet time away alone in our firth wheel.  We have everything we could need, and pretty much anything we could want.  We are away
We will leave tomorrow and spend a couple of days at home
then back to Daddy's
and the family
and life

Monday, April 15, 2013

After the Funeral

I am tired.  No, I am exhausted. Bug is exhausted.  We do not sleep well in the hard bed in my room at my parents home.  The air conditioner is not working correctly so a hard bed and sweating are not conducive to a good night's rest.

The viewing was lovely.  I sang my lullaby into my father's ear just before the closed his coffin. 

Lay your head down, go to sleep, close your eyes and still  your feet.  Lay your head down, dreams will come.  Lay your head down now.  Touch your hair and kiss your face, smooth the covers into place, turn the light down, whisper low, now to sleep, pleasant dreams, my love.  Lay your head down, go to sleep, close your eyes and still your feet. Lay your head down, dreams will come. Lay your head down now.

The funeral Director and his wife and daughter are friends with two of my sister in laws.  Palmetto is or was a small town where everyone knew each other.  The people born here who stayed here, still do.  And they do for each other.  Bekka decorated, made pins for us to wear, printed out obits and customized that evening for the family.  They went above and beyond, but that is how people here are like.  It is still special and wonderful.  It still fills my heart to see people who came right after work, just to hug me and give me a kind word.  People I have known my whole life came to make sure I was OK.  And I am.  I miss my Dad.  I miss him a lot.  But I also understand how lonely he was.  Not because we were not here for him.  We were.  But his mind no longer understood.  He was in pain.  Severe debilitating pain. He was loosing himself, and that was the hardest part.  To watch someone who has been your rock, your best friend for most of your life fall apart and get lost, that is so much more painful then to see them laying in a casket with peace all around him.  All of his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren were there.  All 23 of us.  Four short of a gaggle. Family joke.

Here is a photo of all of us.  Dad is in the photo also, we took the picture of all of us standing in front of the casket.

Miller Family
The Funeral was held at the First United Methodist Church in Palmetto, Mother and Daddy's church.  The preacher of the Church had never met Daddy, so we also asked Tom Winter's to come and be a part of the service.  He had also been there for Mother's.  Tom grew up with us and knows our family and our quirky sense of humor.  He told family stories about plumbing and vacations.  Ester, the other preacher talked about his good deeds. Both had more then enough fodder to work with.
As we left the church after the service the DeSoto Crew held swords up for the fireman to carry the casket under.  The family followed.  Those who loved Dad most were there.  He has outlived so many people.  And those that are still here are near his age and mostly frail themselves. It must be hard to outlive your friends and the world you were so important in.  Maybe that is why the though of Stage 4 lung cancer and not living to an old age has never scared me. 
At the grave site a bag pipe player led the casket to the site and played Amazing Grace.  The American Legion did a color guard and 21 gun salute.  The Fire Department did the last call then my nephews, Nathaniel and Christopher played taps on the harmonicas.  Nathaniel had also told the story about how hard a time Dad had walking, but as soon as he heard jitterbug music he could dance like nobody's business.  Then he picked up his trumpet and played "In the Mood".  Later he played a French horn solo of "Holy, Holy, Holy" at  the church.  It makes me so happy knowing that these two wonderful and amazing young men had the opportunity to get to know their grandfather.  Daddy and Christopher were growing close at the end.  Dad had taken a special interest in Nathaniel when he started to play the trumpet.
Before the viewing Bekka at the Funeral Home had made us dinner.  It was delicious and that is so sweet and kind to do all of that for us.  After the funeral their had been a dinner at the church.  Again, Southern women cooking and nurturing when a family looses a member.  I love these people in this town.  Monticello is very much like this place.  Only it is small like Palmetto was when I was young.
There are many touching moments. My husband shaved his beard and put on his uniform for my Dad.  That was his way of showing his respect for my father, and I appreciate that greatly.  The two boys playing taps. All the hugs and love from those around me.  It has been hard.  I have held up well in public.  It is at home where it is hard. And the longer we go without good rest the harder it is getting to be.  I have separated and packed up most of his clothes.  That man had a lot of clothes.  I have packed the linens in the linen closet to be taken to the thrift store.  There is Irish Linen and shelves of hand embroidery.  There are sets of fine linen napkins that my great grand mother got for her wedding.  There are linens from my Grandmother and Mother from their wedding days.  One small table cloth still had the card attached from Mother and Daddy's wedding.   I have walked back and forth in this house looking and touching things. 
I was raised that one day I would inherit furniture and linens, clocks and china to protect and enjoy until it is passed  to the next generation.  But life is different these days.  Things that were essential to a proper Southern lady are no longer needed in my life.  I do not have the house to hold most of the furniture.  At this point in my life, with the medical issues I have, I do not want to be responsible for taking care and preserving these relics.  I do not have a daughter to raise with these the objects to hear the stories of where they came from. I can not remember the stories anymore, whether chemo or memory loss from age.  These objects held us as a family when we watched The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. We clustered up close together on them Christmas Eve while Mother read the Christmas story.  We slept in them, we set our pictures and life's everyday pocket stashes on them. We ate holiday dinners on them and they hung on the walls of my world.  They ticked and tocked for my brothers and I as they had for generations before us.  They are a part of who we are.  As hard as it is to loose things in a natural disaster, it seems much harder to me to pick and choose who stays with us to be loved and passed on, and who is put on the side, no longer pertinent in our lives.  It is hard letting go of the people and things that have been in our lives.  With the death of the old man who had taken away my Daddy, that death has also ended so much more.  I am a gardener, roots are important to me and my foots have been tugged on and loosened.  I am feeling lost at the same time I feel a great responsibility to my parents and brothers, and yes, in a way to all the ancestors who have lived with me my entire life in the things they treasured and past down.  I am overwhelmed, and then add in the lack of sleep and heat in the house and I do not feel well.  My husband does not feel well.  We are tired, exhausted really.
We have been able to get out on the boat a couple of times.  That has been my escape.  But a few problems arose with the boat that made it so we could not take out family and spend some relaxed time together.  Pat and Christopher did get to go out for a short ride.  Then we took Christopher to see the Nina and Pinta docked at the marina.  It was very cool, and seemed right for the three of us to be wandering around in floating museums.  The three of us spent so much time this past year doing this sort of thing.  That  helped. But the only thing that will help now is patience and time.  Time to let the sadness find its place in me.  That sadness will not go away, but it will find a spot in my heart where it will tear and rip at my heart a bit.  But as my precious ones have reminded me, a broken or ripped heart has more room in it for love.  I still miss my mother.  But that sadness now is more happy memories, and so it goes.  I know that time will give me more of my Daddy to me, as those happy memories, and there are many, replaces the sadness.  It is just getting to that point.
It feels like I am in a huge bubble of emotion, I guess that is normal.  It is painful.  My heart aches as it rips and tears.  Sometimes the emotion and hurt flows over me and I feel like it will sweep me away.   I can hardly breathe from the pain, but I sit quietly and think about the pain and think about the memories that will eventually replace most of that pain, and after a while I come back out and I can go on  I can open dresser drawers, fold and place his socks, handkerchiefs, t-shirts, shorts, sweaters, shoes and ties.  I put bags over his shirts hanging in the closest to make it easier to carry they up.  I have thrown buckets and buckets of catalogs out.  There is still so much to do.
Last night for the first time in more years than I can remember, my three brothers and I sat on my parents back porch, where birthday parties have overflowed from, and we talked.  Only one problem has arisen, and it is not up to me to decide, so I will keep my mouth shut.  It will work out.  But for those few hours we talked and reminisced in a way we never have together. 
Bug and I went over last night to share dinner again with my youngest brother and his family.  We talked and ate.  We looked around the table and loved each other.  We are still a family.  A different family.  One where my oldest brother is now the patriarch. I am still the girl.  I have always been "the girl" in the family.  Even after Mother died, I took her part, just like "the girl" in the family would do.  I will pack most of the linens, the clothes, the things that the matriarch of a family should do.  I will do it. I will do as much as I can to help pack away these treasures and memories and close this chapter of our family and put the book into my heart.  I will do all that I can, because I am the girl.
My parents are gone, but our family continues to grow, and we are still here, together.  Maybe only in  our hearts, but as old as we get, we are still brothers and the girl.  We our Southerns, so our quirks and insanity add the spice to our family.  And the memories, books and books and volumes and libraries full of memories. That is the legacy of our family.  A quirky family that loves each other, in our own quirky way, and a universe of memories.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The loss of my Daddy, a distinguished citizen

Tuesday morning, Dad fell in the bed room.  He was able to push his emergency button and call the EMTs.  His wonderful neighbors, Ron and Nancy saw the ambulance and did not see any of our cars, so they called my brother Tom, who just lives a couple of blocks away from Dad and he came down to assist.

We were to learn later that some time between the fall and that evening he had a heart attack.  He had been having more and more pain and physical problems.  He had been bright and happy for a few days after the wedding but then had started to retreat into himself.  He had grown quiet and depressed and his mind was slipping badly. 

Thursday evening at 9:05 pm, Dad passed on.  He went quietly, with no struggle and any sense of discomfort.  His children had been around him all day. I had been fortunate enough to have gotten to spend the bulk of the day with Dad by myself.  We had talked and I had clipped his finger nails.  I washed his face and hands and joked with him.  Read him articles about places to travel to from Southern Living.  He had been completely unresponsive, but that had not deterred me in the slightest.  The other kids and grandkids had come through as work and school had allowed.  We gathered together around him and told him we loved him.  We told him that we understood and that it was fine for him to go.  Everyone had left that evening, and once we were gone, he released his last breath and gave up his body.

It is so like him to wait until we were gone to spare us the pain of watching him leave.  He knew all of his kids were happy and succesful and that we loved and admired him.  He knew he could leave and that we would hold on to each other.  That we would love each other and stay a family. 

Today has been a flurry of activity as we made phone calls, met with the funeral director and made plans.  We notified his loved ones, we hired a bag pipe player.  We called the fire department, that Dad had been a part of for 50 years and arranged for pall bearers.  We contacted the DeSota Celebration and let them know he was gone.  We requested conquistadors to wear their uniforms and be part of the funeral procession.  We made arrangements for a flag and color guard.  Dad had volunteered for WWII and had been in the Army Air Corp.  We cried in each other's arms.  We laughed and remembered good times.  We ate the delicious food brought by loving neighbors and friends.  We celebrated our Father.

In 2003 my parents were named Distinguished Citizens of Manatee County.  The first time ever for a couple to be chosen. They were a team.  Were they leaders of the community?  Many people would answer a resounding YES.  But to my parents, they were just being good members of their community.  The "hometown" they chose to raise their family.  Daddy lived here, in the same house that he and Motheer bought in 1952.  They love this town, and were active in everything.  Dad was one of the founding four who started the first rescue squad that covered from south of Tampa to Mineral Springs.  They chaperoned every dance, football game, bus trip and all the activities their kids were involved in.  They were involved in scholarships, helping people to become nurses, preserving the agriculture community that they called home.  Dad worked for the state with the employment service, he was elected to play the part of Hernando DeSota in 1987 and he and Mother travelled the world sharing the love and sensibilities of small town America.  They were both teachers and had taught in the county school system.  Dad had sold insurance, worked at the post office and for the Community Redevelopment Association.  They were part of a community where everyone looked after each other's childrens.  They raised all "their children" to be a part of their community and to give to others.  To share the many gifts and blessings we have as children of this country with all the opportunties.  They raised us to laugh, to be joyful and to love each other.  They made a difference.

And they continue to make a difference by the values they instilled in so many young people.  They loved their grandkids and were so proud of all "their kids and grandkids"
They travelled the world together, and instilled a sense of wonder and adventure in us.  They raised us to eat healthy and get plenty of fresh air and exercise.  They took us tent camping in the woods over every long holiday weekend.  They taught us to respect people of all colors, creeds and religions.  They taught us to love and respect, the plants and animals on this beautiful blue green globe, and to protect them.  They taught us about God and country.  We lived in a perfect world of apple pie and riding bicycles bare footed, running through sandspurs and splashing into the beautiful green gulf waters and the dark brown water of Lake Dore.  They loved us and we knew it.  They were proud of us, and it gave us the opportunity to do more.

They changed the world, just a little, but they passed it on, so we could also, quitely and in our own ways change our worlds.  They worked with libraries here, and helped to get a children's library in Barcarotta, Spain.  Where their beloved Spanish families live.  The library is named in honor of them.  They knew to change the world you have to share it.  To give children and adults books and stories, to open their hearts and minds to all the magic and wonder of this world.

They are both gone now.  Mother died in 2001,  two weeks before 9/11.  Daddy is gone now, but not really.  He lives on in the eyes of my brothers, my nose, my nephew's sense of humor.  They are everywhere we look. 

I miss my Daddy.  He has been my rock and close friend my whole life.  I have been his little girl.  I wish him a safe and blessed journey.

Blessed be, Daddy
Blessed be
and bless us all

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

writing or gardening

Bug has got me back on the computer.  It is still not quite right, but a millioi times better then yesterday.  The only problem is that the sun is shining, and it is a perfect day to garden, and I have strawberries and windflowers and raunculas to plant.  We might get some rain in the next couple of days, so even more perfect to clean a spot in the garden and get my strawberries in.  My exhaustion is starting to pass.  The infusion chemo definitely sits me down.  I will have Bobbie send my latest Pet scan to the amazing and wonderful  Dr. McCutie Pie for a second opinion.  But honestly, a little break is nice because I have really worn myself down.  Hmmm,  wedding, family, bike week, music festivals, my idea of normal life.  It is a lot, and I have to admit that I need to rest when I am tired.  So I will post a few photos from our honeymoon, and hit the garden.

"Plant seeds and sing songs" that is one of my favorite stickers we put on the cloud car.

Wedding cake Hobbi made for us.  It was decorated in chocolate shells and orchids off of cocktails at the Mai Tai bar by friends at Bike Week.  Three wedding cakes, and friends who just give and give

riding on the loop

Motorcycles everywhere, and lots of black clothing and black leather, even on the beach, that is Daytona Bike Week 

Hobbi and Col. Bill decorated the room for us 

the sign says it all

Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park

lots of tie dye and color

at the ampthitheater on our honeymoon.  Don't we look happy!!!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Honey moons and happiness

We are back at home getting a few things done here before we head out on the next wee of our honeymoon. We spent our first week at Daytona Bike Week. We road the black cherry bike over and stayed with Hobbi and Col. Bill. The weather was a bit cold, but it did not seem to affect the girls in the little tiny clothing, they still got great tips, maybe better. The rest of us were crowded in so tight in the bars, it was plenty warm. Bug and I got to take some beautiful rides, and we also took it easy, bike week considering, and stayed home a couple of evenings just enjoying Hobbi and Col. Bill's company. They are so amazing. Hobbi had baked us a wedding cake and decorated it with chocolate shells and fresh orchids directly out of drinks at the Mai Tai. It was very special. They also had dedcorated our room, and was perfect!!!

The following week we headed over in the 5th wheel to the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park for the 17th Annual Spring Fest. The weather was rainy and cold and we even had hail. I felt so bad for all the tent campers as we sat warm and safe in our condo on wheels. It did clear up on Sunday and now everyone donned their best tie dyes and although their had been dancing and playing and laughing and singing and love and peace, now it was enjoyed in te clearing skies and beautiful warm sunshine. There are so many fun people there. And just as eccentric as Bike Week, but where bike week is mostly black leather, Suwanee is rainbow colored. We got into the spirit and painted the golf cart blue and green with white clouds, and a touch of red. We bought hippie stickers and it looks wonderful. We drove it all over the music park.

At Bike week, it is not unusual to see people dressed in black leather with huge giant snakes wrapped around their body. At Suwanee we saw a 6 foot tall man dressed like Winnie the pooh with a light up hula hoop.

We had a wonderful time and I hope to post photos and more later, but I am struggling with my computer, and this is all I can get written. Aaargh computers.

Life is wonderful. Off the infusion chemo again, it did not work as well as we hoped. Still on the Tarceva