(#2 SHE Saga) She’s Back

She’s back, but she has an entirely different attitude.
I’m sure God had something to do with that change.
She asked if she could hang out with me today, and while she admitted that she was sad, she said we could do something that made us happy.
So, I said she could stay. I know, I’m taking a big chance, but we’ve been together since I was born, and I do love her.
She has given me some of the happiest moments of my life, especially when she comes out to play with the grandchildren.
I’d been missing her anyway, not her emotions, just her company and her playful attitude. She’s the one who taught me to chase butterflies and to climb trees.
We sat down and tried to decide what we would do today, something that wouldn’t upset either of us.
I went upstairs to get a book and I saw a pile of my mother’s letters lying on a table, waiting months for me to scan and share them.
I was going to write today, but with the water department digging up the road in front of my driveway and an appointment to show my house at 1:00, I’m a little distracted. (Yes. House Fifteen for sale after barely a year.)
The minute I saw the letters, I knew what we would do today. I picked them up and read them as I walked downstairs. (I know…another crazy idea, stairs and not paying attention.)
As I read the notes, they brought tears to my eyes.
The pleasure of hearing my mother’s words speak to me once again, touching the paper she had written on, envisioning her sitting at her tiny kitchen table, with me on her mind, removed everything that was hurting me.
Touching the letters, physically pulled her back into my life for just a little bit.
I am so grateful because of all the things I’ve lost from moving too many times, I still have every note and card she sent me.
Her love and her admiration poured over me and I felt it as strongly as if she was standing beside me.
When I ignored her, she got restless and I had to ask her to go back to sit with my mum in Heaven. Yes. That’s exactly where God placed her when I released her to His care.
At least I am learning to share my personal space with her, without getting bull dozed emotionally.
l have been learning to set boundaries this past year and I think I left her for last because I knew she would be my greatest challenge.
Funniest thing about this day, thanks to Mum’s notes, I’m writing after all.

(# 1 SHE Saga) SHE

(#3 SHE Saga) What are we gonna do?

(#4 SHE Saga) Thirty Days

(#5 SHE Saga) She Forced Me Out Of Bed

 

 

A Note From Grace (My Mom)

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A NOTE FROM GRACE (My Mom)
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!”
Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be.
I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books, and old TV movies.
My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-Mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.

Some of the Advantages of Getting Older

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By Grace Christine Doucette (My mom)

I can wear a red hat with a green blouse and yellow pants. People just shake their heads and think, “Well, she’s old.”
Strong young men accost me just to put my groceries in my car. As I adjust my wig, they walk away with a smile, thinking, “Well, she’s old.”
I can smile and wink at every handsome man I see, young or old, and receive a smile or wink in return. It’s safe to flirt now, “I’m old.”
People let me cut in at the grocery store checkout line, and they smile when I have to ask, “What’s the date?” “Oh well, she’s old.”
I can add ten years to my age and smile when people say, “You look so good for your age!”
I can ask for directions, and people lead me right to the place. They don’t want me to get lost, cause “I’m old.”
When I go to the laundry mat, I can mix my colors and my whites in one load. I don’t even flinch when an organized woman sorts her laundry and shakes her head at me, thinking, “She’s old.”
The secret no one knows, is that I present this old face to the world, while inside a young woman laughs at my private joke.
“Who’s old? Not me!”
I love to send scribbles to WWTTM and see them emerge legible and in sharp clean print. I can expose my innermost thoughts to you all and you can laugh at me or with me. I’ve found new friends, though you’re far away and I can’t see your faces, you are all near and dear to me.
I’m not sad about getting older, I did it one day at a time. I’m a product of all my yesterdays, the good and the bad. Today I like who I am, and when I look in the mirror I can honestly say, “Well done kiddo, you did the best you could with what you had!”

Another Christmas for Grace

My dad was an alcoholic and Christmas was his favorite time of the year to tear up the house, a futile attempt to destroy my mother’s Christmas spirit.
He never succeeded with her, but he made me dread Christmas.
When I was a young mother, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas, not until the kids were toddlers and even then, I just went through the motions for them.
When I was twenty-seven, I got remarried to a man who made a big deal of Christmas.
Until our first Christmas together, I had never put up more than a 2′ ceramic tree, and only because my mom had special ordered it for me.
Our first year together, we put up a 6′ tree with all the trimmings and we surrounded it with presents.
The kids were so excited on Christmas morning and it was contagious.
From that point on, I grew to love Christmas and all that it meant to the kids.
My mom was so proud of me for overcoming my childhood Christmas phobias and soon, I had enough homemade decorations from my mother to cover an entire tree.
I used to love to send her pictures of the tree decorated with her ornaments.
I put up big trees until my youngest moved out, and then I still put up trees, just not as large.
As my kids had kids of their own, I split Mom’s decorations between them and I bought new decorations for me.
Every year, I would do a different theme, bouncing between girly and guy.
All miniature dolls and fairies one year and all Harley-Davidson decorations another year. Pink trees, white trees, purple trees, gold and green. Even a Palm tree one year.
Then, my mom, Grace, died in 2009.
I had a hard time again, but my sister, Cherie, talked me into putting up a tree just for my mom and she sent me butterflies and fairies to decorate it.
That was my first Christmas for Grace.
The next year, it. became a tradition, one tree for Mom, one for me.
Three years ago, my husband and I split up and although I put up a small tree for Mom, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas.
We got back together after seven months and we had two more nice Christmases together, but we separated again this fall, and now here I am, my second Christmas without him in thirty-eight years.
I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it.
I decided the first thing I needed to do was to buy a Christmas tree in a color I had never had before.
I resisted the urge to buy blue for a Blue Christmas, and before I could change my mind, I ordered a turquoise colored Christmas tree. That was in October.
It sat in the box for about a month, while I thought about it.
What would I put on it?
That’s when my sweet friend, Michelle Marie, came to the rescue. She called and offered me enough decorations to do my whole tree. When she brought them to me on Thanksgiving weekend, I was thrilled. They were so beautiful and unlike anything I had ever used before.
My kids came with their kids for Thanksgiving weekend and I asked the three youngest ones to decorate the tree.
Four-year old Mile Mae, got on her daddy’s shoulders to put the star on, and while the entire tree leans, including the star, it’s perfectly imperfect. It’s rather Grinch like, and that was my mom’s favorite movie.
After they were all gone, I brought out some of my little fairies, my mom’s butterflies and a few special ornaments. I added them to the tree. The tree lights are pink and at night, it changes the tree’s color and the walls around it glow.
So, although it is a sad Christmas for me in many ways, I have kept my Christmas spirit going, partly in honor of my mother who refused to let an insane alcoholic destroy her Christmas spirit and partly in honor of myself, because I deserve a happy and blessed Christmas, and yes, I am blessed.
I have fifteen grandkids and five great-grandchildren, a beautiful, warm home, food and everything I need.
I firmly believe Jesus is the reason for the season, but when your grandkids are small, it’s also about glitz and glitter and shiny presents and stockings filled to the brim, hugs and love, Oreo’s and milk, all waiting for them at Grammy’s house.
So this tree is for them, and for my mom, the woman who taught me that your Christmas will become whatever you choose to make it, and for my sister, who wouldn’t let me quit Christmas after my mom died.
Special thanks to Michelle Marie for the perfectly timed decorations and thank you Jesus, for another Christmas and another chance to make memories with my family and friends.

Christmas For Grace

 

 

The Table & Chairs

 

My old table and chairs have been freshly painted and they’re adorable, but that’s not all there is to it.

They have traveled a long, rough road to land pretty on my front porch.

I’ll start with when I first remember seeing them in my mom’s living room. They were brand-new, white.

I was thirty-something with three young kids and my sister, seven years younger, had four young kids.

My mom had a small basement apartment underneath my aunt’s house, but she had one closet full of blankets and pillows that we would use when we slept over. We would just spread them all over the tiny living room and it would be wall-to-wall kids.

Mom never cared how small her place was, she always had room for all of us.

We would cook huge Sunday dinners in her little kitchen, and then we would all stand there together doing the dishes.

In the evening, after the kids would settle down, my sister would put a table-cloth on the little table and a candle. She would say we were in a French bistro.

Then she would ask me to read some of my poems, which I always just happened to have with me.

For an hour so, we would all be transported to a little café in France and I was the entertainer.

My mom was my first reader and fan, but they were all my very first audience and their love for my writing carried me on waves of encouragement.

I didn’t find out until many years later that my sister also wrote poetry, and I was stunned when I read it because it was so much better than mine. She always gave me the spotlight.

My mom passed away in 2009, and I don’t know when my older sister acquired the table, but she graciously gave it to me when I asked her for it last spring. She also gave me the round cushions.

The little set traveled eighteen hundred miles with me to my new home.

My husband spent days painting it and repairing the metal binding around the table. Butterflies surrounded him as he worked, even landing on his hands.

I scrubbed it down before it was painted and butterflies were landing all over it then too.

My mom is a butterfly, so I believe the restoration made her happy.

Now that it’s finished, just looking at it makes me smile, overcome by the flood of memories it invokes.

I had my coffee at it this morning and as butterflies flitted by, I could feel my family, young and unscathed by the heartaches yet to come, unburned by the tragedies and the pain we would all go on to experience.

Those were innocent days. I just didn’t know. I am thrilled to have the table to remind me.

 

THINGS I WISH I’D NEVER SAID TO MY DAUGHTERS

You have to wear a bra!

You’re too young to shave your legs and I don’t care if all the other girls your age are doing it!

I read your diary. We need to talk.

Yes, there are microphones hidden in your barrettes!

If you didn’t take my green eye shadow, then why are your eyelids green?

I’m gonna kill you!

I’m your mother and your father!

Take down those rock posters or I’ll tear them down!

I don’t believe you.

Never let your husband see you without your make-up on or your hair a mess!

Don’t ever let him see you in the green face mask!

You have to try harder and look better, after you’re married.

Cook him a big breakfast and have his supper ready when he comes in from work.

Are you gonna let him get up and make his own coffee?

Tough luck, life isn’t fair!

THINGS I WISH I’D SAID EVERYDAY

I love you.

Let’s all go out and play.

I don’t care if you make a mess!

Go to college and get a degree, before you have kids.

 

Memory Clutter

I was finally in the mood to start some spring cleaning and I decided to begin with my office.
As  I cleaned, I realized why I held on to so many mementos and gifts from the people I love.
It wasn’t the actual notes or the drawings, it wasn’t the colorful gift bags with ribbons and bows that captivated me.
No, what I was struggling to fit into this small room, aside from computers, printers, writing, books, CDs, tapes and boxes of pictures were the moments when the gifts had been created and given.
I wanted back the happiness and the love in each child’s face when they had handed the gifts to me.
The pride in my mother’s eyes when she handed me her handmade crafts and the warmth of my sister’s hugs, the memories remained in the gifts.
After so many years, these items still triggered every emotion imaginable.
The metal sculpture my twenty-five year-old grandson welded for me when he was twelve, a green pipe with a bowl.
It had made my teenage son laugh so hard because he said it looked like a bong.
“Bong?” I’d asked. He’d laughed some more.
The toys from McDonald’s that my grandson loved to give me for presents. The man who spun like a top but could never stand up, the mermaid that he took for me when he could have had a GI Joe, into the Goodwill bag they went, but my hand hovered over a miniature Blue Fairy.
I remembered watching Artificial Intelligence over and over with my grandson and he was so proud when he found me the Blue Fairy.
The movie was about a little robot boy who wanted to be a real boy and he searched for the Blue Fairy to help him.
I couldn’t drop the Blue Fairy in the bag. Four out of five is pretty good, right?
The huge finger paintings with crackling paint. My once tiny granddaughter’s handprints with mine certainly had to stay.
The plastic sunflower my toddler grandson had presented to me…running up to me with his little fist closed tight around a treasure, he had opened his little fingers to present the treasure. “Flower,” he’d said, full of pride. When I saw it was plastic, I knew I’d keep it forever.
The poster created by pain and love that my baby sister presented to me the day after my suicide attempt twenty-eight years ago, that did go into the trash.
I pulled off the pictures, but the memory of that day and how much I’d hurt my family still burned.
Huge envelopes and boxes for each of my four kids and boxes for half of my fifteen grandkids.
What should stay, what should go?
Would they remember the objects and would the objects mean to them what they meant to me?
Would my son and daughter clean out all this junk after I was gone, moaning at my eccentric, hoarding habits? I didn’t know.
I set the bag of donations aside so I could repack it. Another box to be saved.
I just couldn’t part with any of it right now, but I could clean another room tonight.
Who knew spring cleaning could be so emotional?

Jodie Lynne and Me

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August 23, 2016

I sat on the front porch of a sober-living house this morning, doing morning group meditation with amens for everyone and everything.
I was surrounded by grateful, sober-living women. I am so proud of each one of these miracle walkers.
As I sat there today, I was reliving throwing my hands up to the sky in complete surrender and handing my daughter to God, so many times, but most of all of the day I started to plan her funeral as she lay unconscious in a bathtub in a dope house, 2,000 miles away, being held under the water in an attempt to either kill her or to revive her from an overdose.
That day, I wept with earth shattering grief as I felt the extreme reality of the pain that her loss would deliver.
And still…I was afraid that he would not save her anymore, because of all the miracles that he had already delivered to her and to me, but God does not give up, he does not falter, he does not say, “Oh no, my child! You blew it last time!”
My heart was so heavy and for the very first time, I was afraid to ask for yet another miracle, but I stuffed my pride and on my knees, I raised my hands to him.
“Not my daughter, not my daughter,” I sobbed.
I asked, I begged and I pleaded, sending my legions of angels to lift her from the tub.
Called my sisters so that they could send out their angels and prayers too.
God was waiting patiently for the exact moment to lift my daughter from the water, to fill her lungs with air, to stand her on her feet, to restore her life, to teach her how to walk again.
The same way I taught her to walk when she was a year old, one step at a time.
I could not save her but he could and he did.
I am extremely grateful for my daughter’s life, for the fact that she is one of these sober-living women, so very grateful for her sobriety, so very grateful that I dragged up the strength and the courage to hand it to him once more when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane and race to save her.
She would have been dead before I could have even packed a suitcase.
I am so very proud of you my daughter for grabbing on to his hands as he lifted you from the water and for holding on to his miracle with all your might.
So very grateful for the woman who obeyed God’s call to open sober-living homes and walked into the prison a few weeks later and shouted, “Where is Jodie Tiger?”
The very next day, she took my daughter’s hand (with the judge’s permission) and led Jodie to this sober-living house.
Thank you God, from the depths of this mother’s heart and God, I pray that you have a blessed day today too.
Love, Jeanne Marie

I See You

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When I look in my mirror, I remind me of you.

I see the pain you couldn’t hide.

I see the weariness in your soft brown eyes.

I see your careworn face beneath my disguise.

I see your strength as you faced each day.

I see the sadness that colored your ways.

I see the exact same streaks of greying hair.

I see your courage even though I’m aware

of times when your load was so heavy,

it was far to much for you to bear.

I see your wrinkles, I see your lines.

I see your shadow behind my eyes.

When I look in my mirror I remind me of you.

 

Another brush stroke added to The Big Picture…

 

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Many of you read my article about my daughter, Jodie Lynne, getting out of prison, The Big Picture, last week.

I said, “I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not return to prison.”

You responded with encouragement, support and promises of prayers…thank you so much.

I am thrilled to report that we got our miracle. One of many in Jodie’s Journey.

Her ex-husband, currently sober, has used his recovery connections to help her get into a recovery house for women. A very structured program designed to teach women to take responsibility for their own lives, while giving them a safe place to live. This is a big deal, definitely in the miracle category, because I have called recovery programs in the area and Jodie has already burned so many bridges that most of them wouldn’t even call me back.

When she is released, she will be taking a daylong bus ride back to Tulsa and as soon as she arrives, she will be going to the house for her interview. They have two openings and all she has to do is show up sober and say she is willing to follow the program’s rules. She will be accepted into the house that very night. She will not spend even one day or one night wandering the streets, looking for shelter.

She started crying when I told her. She had planned to leave prison with a list of shelters for the homeless and now she has a bed waiting for her.

If she wants to stay straight and stay out of jail, God has given her the opportunity. It won’t be easy, but it will be possible.

She has been calling me the last few weeks full of anxiety and nearly hysterical. I kept telling her that God had a place for her, we just didn’t know where it was yet and I believed that with all my heart, but nothing I could say calmed her down. I understood her fear, but this precious girl has helped me learn to trust God, so when I could tell her that I knew where her place was, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I told her that I believed for her when she couldn’t and I reminded her that she has done the same for me.

Again, thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers,

Jeanne Marie

https://womenwhothinktoomuch.com/2015/07/05/the-big-picture/

 

The Big Picture…

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Hi! I haven’t been around my blog very much lately because I am in the middle of packing up my house in Florida and moving to New Hampshire.
Crazy as it sounds, I would rather be cold than hot and I am from New England.
I do have other reasons for moving. Still, I’m either insane or very brave considering the snow they had there last year.
So, the day that I close on my house in Florida is the same day that my daughter, Jodie Lynne, walks out of prison in Oklahoma.
I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not go back to prison.
I can’t go to Oklahoma on that day and I think God wants me to let her sort this one out because the timing means that I have to be here in Florida and not there with her.
Her dad and I have set aside some money so she can get an apartment, but not many landlords decide to rent to a felon, a felon without a job.
In spite of that, I am praying that God already has a safe place picked out for her. He can do that…I can’t.
Jodie and I are writing a book about how hard it is to make it and stay clean when you walk out of prison.
It’s almost impossible to start over when you have been stripped of everything but your life. Your children, dignity, self-worth, confidence and possessions, gone, and now you owe thousands and thousands of dollars in fines.
It used to be that you’d go to prison and work off your fines but now they not only add them on to your bill, they charge you for the services you require to stay free.
She has to pay to see her parole officer and she has to pay for frequent urine tests.
She owes $50,000 in child support and as soon as she gets a job they garnish her wages.
I will never defend the choices that landed my daughter in jail, but I will say this, people do horrendous things and walk away every day. All you need to walk away is money for a good lawyer.
She has no crimes against people, no violent offenses, just a bunch of petty crimes that added up to doing time as a habitual criminal.
Plus, Oklahoma has more women in prison than any other state and it’s not because they have the highest crime rate.
I make no excuses for my daughter, but as we have traveled the prison system together over the last eight years, I have realized that the women and girls who come out of prison are setup to fail.
I don’t know how anyone could come out owing about $70,000 and make it, excepting for a big miracle or a few medium size miracles.
My daughter is a beautiful woman, inside and out and when she is straight, she is my best friend in the world. When she is not straight, she is my biggest heartache.
I would like you to pray with me that she finds the strength and the courage to walk out of prison and stay sober, that she will find a job allowing her to pay her child support and fines, at least enough to stay out of jail. She doesn’t have a driver’s license because she owes child support, so her job options are very limited, confined to the area where she finds an apartment.
I never did understand how losing your license because you didn’t pay child support would help get child support from you. How do you get to work without a license?
And as for me, please pray that I stay strong as I pack about a hundred boxes, while trying to get rid of everything that I don’t care about because it costs too much to move it all and even some things I do care about.
I have to remember that in the big picture, possessions really don’t mean anything, people do.
I am moving for many complicated reasons, reasons that are far more important than fine china or knickknacks.
I care deeply about my writing, my books and my computers and even most of the books I own could go.
I’ve already gotten rid of hundreds of books and I pray for the strength and the stamina to make this move.
I am praying for the courage to allow my daughter to walk out of prison and stand on her own two feet.
My daughter and I are also writing about how going to prison damages the families of the prisoners, the parents and the grandparents, siblings and family members, anyone who loves them, moms who like me, never give up hoping and believing because they love their child.
Please pray that God and the angels cover our backs as we each struggle to do what needs to be done to change our lives for the better and please pray that we continue to move forward in faith despite the enormous odds that we have against us.
Amen and XO, Jeanne Marie

I Am She…

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I AM SHE
There was a time when my mother was middle-aged and me?
I was young and naïve, not a care in the world
the arrogance of youth was on my side.
I was a footloose hippie girl and I thought love was free.
Her skin was firm and tanned, black waves of hair fell to her shoulders
softly surrounding her fair face, bosom quite generous,
legs as fine as any model, she was my mother,
but with flower child simplicity, I used to call her Grace.
She was spirited back then, although she seemed quite old to me,
and how did I become imprisoned while she has learned to fly–a butterfly set free?
Tonight, as I glance into the mirror, my middle-aged face stares back.
Have I become her, and she, the child I used to be?
At seventy-three she’s still a beauty, but time’s fire has burned its’ trail
and when she had a stroke last year,
I realized how deeply she had aged; yet, become so childlike, so frail.
My firm skin, my shapely legs, will soon bow down to time,
much as my bell-bottoms and tie-up tops gave way
to blue jeans and then on to stretch pants and a baggy tee.
I will lose this interval named youth and as I look into her face,
I see my future and
I am she.

by Jeanne Marie
My mom went to play with the angels in 2009.

Happy Birthday Day To My Mum, Grace Christine 1926-2009

I decided the best way for me to celebrate today is to share some of my mum’s writing. I used to write a newsletter and my mum contributed poems and articles on a regular basis. I love you, Mum, and I know that even though you are playing with the angels, you still watch over me. Love, Jeanne Marie

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A NOTE FROM GRACE
W
hen my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!” Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be. I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books and old TV movies. My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.

RANDOM THOUGHTS from Grace Christine
Life has taught me an important lesson. “Put your money where your mouth is.” I brag to everyone about my clever daughter and her newsletter. Her beautiful public letters to me fill me with pride. Sometimes they make me cry to see the love flowing between us, and it makes me feel so undeserving because I only did what any mother would do…I loved my daughter. I remember how I tried to convince my jealous husband (jealous even of his own children) that “Love shared is never divided, it is multiplied.” My love was multiplied by him, and my four beautiful children, not divided amongst them. The years have shown me the strength in my children, and while I may not like everything they do, I love them and respect their right to be themselves. They have taken some of what I taught them and rejected what they found didn’t fit into each of their life styles; but, the base of our relationships have always been that I love them…unconditionally. So, Jeanne Marie, enclosed is my donation for stamps, and although I love my gift subscription, I want to contribute to WWTTM. Love, Mom
Thanks Mom, and by the way, I’ve met far too many mothers who don’t love their children unconditionally, so take credit for the gifts you have given me. You do deserve it! Love, JM

MY MUM WAS A TOUGH OLD BIRD BY Grace Christine
My mother had a quick wit and she always had a snappy come back. One day at the doctor’s office she complained about an ingrown toenail. The doctor had started to perform the minor surgery when the nurse asked, “Aren’t you going to freeze her toe before you cut?” “No,” said the doctor, with a grin on his face, “she’s a TOB.” Turning to Mum, he asked, “Do you know what that means?” Mum snapped back, “A tough old bird.” Then, she added, “You’re a DOLL. Do you know what that means?” The doctor reluctantly admitted that he didn’t know, so Mum gave him the answer. “A Stuffed Dummy.” Behind the doctor’s back, the nurse gave Mum a thumbs-up for putting the doctor in his place.

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Stew From Grace Christine (My Mom)

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BALTIMORE STEW

From my mom, Grace Christine  1926-2009

I was born during the “Great Depression” in 1926. It was a sad and poor time for most of the people in our country. However; as a child, my world revolved around my parents and I was untouched by our country’s struggles.

My dad was a barber and my mother was a happy homemaker, in every sense of the word. My parents welcomed friends and relatives into our home, and fed the occasional strangers who knocked at our door, looking for a meal and a place to spend the night.

We had a small garden in the backyard which supplied the family with fresh vegetables all through the summer and enough preserves, jams and pickles to last the winter. The chairs around our table were never empty because my parents loved to invite people to share our meals, and I believe our company came for the generous measure of love and conversation that was dished out with the food.

Mum made cooking an easy chore and she always had a smile or a funny joke as she stirred her pots and pans. Her cakes and pies were rumored to have come straight from a heavenly source to our table. Saturday was the high spot of our week because it meant a trip to Boston for our weekly supply of meat and staples. My sister and I loved the little treasures Mum bought us, such as a pomegranate or an orange, and Dad’s favorite treat, chestnuts.

When I close my eyes, I can still see my mother at our kitchen window, and I can hear her saying, “Here comes Aunt Georgiana and the children. I’ll have to put more water in the stew and another potato in the pot. I should have made more pies!” (She might have had two apple pies cooling in the pantry, but she always wanted to have more than enough for everyone at the table.) Here’s Mum’s (Harriet/Great Nana) recipe for Baltimore Stew, our all time favorite!

Baltimore Stew

Put the following ingredients into a large, heavy pan.

Two pounds of stew meat, cut into small cubes.

Two pounds of fresh carrots, peeled and sliced one inch thick.

One small can of whole tomatoes. One large diced onion.

Two slices of fresh white bread, broken into pieces.

Three whole cloves. One teaspoon of salt. One-half teaspoon of pepper.

Cover with cold water and simmer for about three and a half hours.

Add one can of drained peas and simmer about thirty more minutes. Remove cloves.

Add two heaping tablespoons of regular tapioca.

Cook uncovered for fifteen more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

As Mum would say, “Eat hearty and enjoy! There’s plenty for all!”

Celebrating My Mom’s Writing

Grace Christine Doucette, October 12, 1926-July 27, 2009

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Dear Jeanne Marie,

I’m dysfunctional? What’s that you say?

Well, I’ll deny it to my dying day.

I look at the world with rose-colored glasses,

It’s the men I find that make the wrong passes!

I’m so innocent, I believe all their lies

I think that’s true love deep in their eyes.

I see only what I want to be there

And accept love unafraid, not a care.

I function perfectly straight every day

And don’t allow reality to get in my way!

When I kiss my prince, he instantly

becomes a toad,

And I’m covered with warts,

alone on the road.

But I keep going, living my dreams,

Life just can’t be as bad as it seems!

Dysfunctional? Nope, not me!

I’m still waiting for my prince at seventy-three!

Guess Who?  (Love, Mom)

THE FLAME

by Grace Christine

How many times must a heart break,

before it falls apart?

How many times can we sift the ashes

and force the flame to start?

In the pain of loving and dying each day,

the smallest flame can light our way,

And as crazy as it may seem to some;

it’s the hope of love that’s yet to come.

So we bind the fragments together with

glue, and place our faith and hope with You.

You alone, can see the other side of life,

You alone, know the purpose

of our heartache and strife.

ODE TO THE MAILMAN

by Grace Christine

You keep the mail flowing between

my daughter’s house and mine,

It’s worth the price, for this way we find

That loves keeps alive with each letter

So tell me, sir, what could be better?

Through snow, rain, sleet,

or hot humid day,

We know our thoughts are on their way.

You guard our hearts,

sealed in white paper

And we trust your devotion,

what could be safer?

I just wish I could squeeze me

tight inside,

I know I’d be safe

throughout the long ride.

And when she opened

my extra-large letter

I would pop out and hug her…

that would be better!

Love ya dear, Mom

Oh Mother…From Michelle Marie for Jeanne Marie

Oh Mother up in heaven as you
sit at the Father’s feet please
ask him to give me strength
I love you and I miss you
Happy Mother’s Day
Love…me
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Have a blessed weekend my friend.
My arms reach out to embrace
and hold you tight!
I love you!
Michelle Marie
Stunning photo JM
You inspire me…thank you!

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle…My college essay on motherhood, 1994

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Are you crazy? Not yet? Well, you can always try motherhood! It worked for me. Okay, so most women love babies. Women are attracted to babies due to a very basic, maternal instinct. Reason and logic are only slightly involved in this picture. The longing to have a baby is so strong in most women that those who can’t conceive are devastated. Babies are so precious, all soft and cuddly, and they’re even more adorable when they start to smile and coo.

Additionally, there’s no sweeter fragrance than the aroma a baby sends forth, fresh from his bath, swaddled in a Downy soft blanket. Combine that with the essence of Johnson’s baby powder and rare would be the woman whose hormones could resist the “maternal urge.” You visit your friend and her new baby one afternoon. When your husband comes through the door that evening you say, “Oh honey, I want to have a baby!”

Well, I’m here to set the story straight and reveal some well-kept secrets about motherhood. I’ll tell you secrets that will expose the reality behind the charming, family portraits from Wal-Mart, those costly, cheap pictures we love to hang on our living room walls. The things that women who are already caught never tell to the women who are still free. Misery loves company and we can’t bear to see the smug expression on your faces as you say, “My kids are going to be different.”

Let’s start with the pregnancy. One night, you and the man of your dreams make wild, passionate love and as a result you become pregnant. (Sometimes, this occurs even when you’re using three different types of birth control. What a miracle!)

Pregnancy. An awkward word, don’t you think? Rightly so, because in about eight months you will be as awkward as your worst nightmare. By the ninth month, you can’t sleep more than twenty minutes without waking up to go to the bathroom. You’ll forget what your feet looked like. Shaving your legs will be a fond memory. You’ll be praying for labor pains and once they start, you’ll be praying for the strength to get out of those stirrups and kill the man who did this to you. As you begin to scream swears in the labor room (swears your husband has never even heard before) little does he realize, you are saving the superlative curses. They will come out of your mouth, unbidden, in the delivery room.

You’ll think, thank God, as the nurse lays the baby on your stomach. The doctor lets your husband (if he hasn’t fainted or run away) cut the baby’s umbilical cord and you both count the ten, tiny fingers and toes. One nurse takes the baby off to be bathed and another nurse kneads and beats on your stomach. (I kid you not!) They wheel you back to your room and you fall asleep thinking, it’s over. (No, I’m afraid it’s just beginning.)

You’ll be so sick of maternity clothes (designed by men who have never carried forty extra pounds around their waist) that you’ll give them to the first pregnant woman you see. Even if it’s your husband’s old girlfriend. Your husband might gently ask, “Why don’t you keep them for the next time, sweetheart?” and that’s when he will learn about post-partum blues. I don’t think I’ll give all the secrets away; let’s save the “baby blues” for a surprise.

The baby is home. Your friends and your family have left. Your husband has gone back to work. At that moment, reality rears it’s ugly head. You are out of diapers (the baby has soiled twenty-four since yesterday), so you decide to get dressed and go to the store. “Whose jeans are these?” you ask. “Why can’t I get my jeans up over my hips?” You double check the closet to make sure these are your clothes. In tears, you pull on an old pair of stretch pants and one of your husband’s sweatshirts. Get used to them. It’s the uniform of motherhood, and will soon be as comfortable as an old friend.

The baby pooped his last diaper while you were rummaging in the closet, and as you pick him up, he regurgitates down the front of your sweatshirt. (That’s part of the uniform.) The fragrance that your friend’s baby radiated the day you held it, is lacking in your infant. She forgot to tell you that babies don’t stay clean. You sit down, crying, and you call your mother. She brings diapers and advice. “Save your tears for when he is a teenager,” she tells you. “This is easy, compared to that.” You don’t believe her. You think maybe she’s just being sarcastic. (However; years from now her words will haunt you, as your child goes to school, learns to drive and chooses his own friends.)

I think you’ve got the general picture concerning babies. Let’s move on to my personal favorite. The terrible two’s. This usually strikes when the child is between one and two years old and lasts until he moves out. At the onset of this natural childhood disaster, he learns to talk and how to say “NO!” He may forget how to poop on the potty, how to pick up his toys or how to eat with a spoon, but he will never forget how to say, “NO!”

He will get into your record collection, he will get into your books and he will get into your child-proof cabinets. He will climb into the refrigerator at 6:00 a.m., but he will never climb willingly into a warm bath! He will climb into your bed when he is sick and vomit on you as you sleep. “Momma, I’m sick,” will be his excuse. ( Just because the child is six years old and knows where the bathroom is, don’t expect him to use it.)

Young couples fall in love and get married, usually thinking that having children will be the ultimate expression of their love. Survival of the human race is ensured by our urge to reproduce and by our raging hormones. However; if given a choice, how many women would actually go back and do it all again? Ann Landers took a survey on that subject and was shocked at the response. The majority of people who answered the survey voted no, they would decide not to have children, if they had it to do over.

Somewhere, there is a perfect mother who has raised healthy, well-adjusted children. She has balanced the demands of motherhood and a part-time job. She has never had any major problems with her teenagers. She has no guilt or regrets, and she is happy that she gave up her life for her children. When you find her, let me know, because I’d like to meet her.

Each child you bring into this world will brand you. My body bears the scars of my children’s births. I had three cesarean sections and my scars cover the area my bathing suit used to bare. (I’m not even going to discuss stretch marks.) I’ve been doomed to a one-piece suit for all eternity.

My heart and soul bear their own scars. Years of toddler temper tantrums, hyperactive children, teenage mutiny, rebellion, hard rock and rap music, they have all taken their toll. Clothes borrowed and never returned. Disappearing makeup. Teenage pregnancies that made me a premature grandmother. School meetings with various principals and teachers, meetings where I was made to feel like an incompetent mother. (As the years passed, I began to have my husband go to these meetings. They never yelled at him.) Motherhood strips you of your dignity, your rights and eventually your vocabulary.

Some women manage to save their brain and can take it out of storage after the last teenager moves out. With a little dusting, it can be restored to an adult brain. Warning: attempting this restoration with even one teenager still living at home can cause further damage! For example, when I asked my teenage son to turn down his stereo so I could do my college assignments, he told me, “You don’t need to go to school; you’re too old.”

What was he really saying? “I want my mother’s attention. I want her to cook me a big meal. I want her to clean my room and entertain me. Unless one of my friends comes by and then I’m out of here!”

He was also thinking, “You’re not a student; you’re my mother!” I was thinking, “You’re not too old to slap!”

Motherhood drains you, uses you up and leaves a huge hole in your heart when your children leave home. If your child gets pregnant or decides to abuse drugs, it will be considered your fault. Even if it isn’t your fault, you will eventually accept society’s diagnosis, because mothers are supposed to be perfect, in complete control. This theory does not allow for the fact that children have their own personality, outside influences and other people in their life.

When will your child become mature enough to thank you for all you’ve given him, given up for him? Usually, that doesn’t happen until he has children of his own. However; with daughters, you can be almost sure it will happen right after the birth of her first child. Maybe even during the delivery.

Sometimes, your husband leaves, long before the kids are grown. He has a choice. You do not. Your time, your energy and all of your resources will go into raising your children. Did I mention the mounds of laundry, the piles of dirty dishes and the mountains of meals you will cook? Well, that’s another story in itself.

There is a positive side to motherhood, but when your children are teenagers it’s hard to remember that fact. I enjoyed having babies and I loved staying home with them when they were small. As I watched my first grandson come into this world, I was overwhelmed with an incredible rush of love and excitement! It was breathtaking to see the miracle of his birth. My grandchildren are precious and by far the best gift motherhood has given me.

As I read Parents magazine the other day, I noticed that most of the articles concerned problems that arise when raising children and how to solve them. The title of this article really caught my eye: “Survival Guide for New Moms.”
So, even Parent’s magazine concedes, it’s a question of survival!

When you’re thinking about that beautiful baby you’d like to have, remember this advice–babies are easy to have, labor included, compared to the strenuous task of raising them. Your career will be motherhood, trust me. Everything else in your life will come second. I’m sure many women would disagree with my views on motherhood. But don’t even let them approach me, unless they have already raised at least one child.

Do I love my children? Yes, enormously. Would I choose to become a mother if I had a chance to start over? I’m not sure. I can’t picture my life without them in it, but my children needed so much more and I had so much less than what they needed.

Motherhood has taught me numerous valuable lessons. We learn how to raise our children by rock, hard experience and by the time we’ve developed the necessary skills, our children are grown-up and they have children of their own.

On the plus side, the experience does prepare us for grand-parenting.

Update, 04-21-2015
I have fourteen grandkids and three great-grandbabies. Their ages span from twenty-five-years old to four-months.

Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne

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Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne

April 18

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Today is my younger daughter’s fortieth birthday. Since we couldn’t be together, we created a substitute plan. We would celebrate over the phone.

When she called me, we only talked about things that made us happy. We talked about her silky-haired Chihuahua that I am raising, Maggie Mae, we talked about other dogs that we have loved through the years and we spoke of our happy dreams, instead of our nightmares.

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We talked about peanut butter and marshmallow fluff being her favorite birthday cake (today) and how grateful she was to have snacks in her locker so that she didn’t have to go to the cafeteria to eat on her birthday.

For me, as on this date every year; I am thinking about the morning that she came into my life. She made a grand entrance, all 5-pounds 6-ounces of her. Her daddy had ordered me to have a boy and he meant it, so when they told me I had a beautiful little girl, I started to cry.

It had been a rough birth, a planned C-section, but the spinal that didn’t work before they made the incision was not part of the plan, so I was a bit overwhelmed and the moment she was out, I was over-drugged to compensate for their mistake. Then, they brought her to me and the moment I saw her little face shaped like a pink heart, I fell in love with her. She was so tiny and so cute that she looked like a dolly, not like a real baby.

Everyone’s life is complicated, hindsight is an incredible tool to beat yourself with and you can do some real damage. I often find ways to blame myself for every unwise choice this beautiful woman has made, but I’m not going to do that today.

Today, I am going to celebrate her life, her birthday and the fact that when she is sober, she is full of Grace and Light. I will celebrate the day twenty years ago when she taught me to open myself to the spirit of our Universe, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the Stars, the Wind and the Rain. The day she taught me to stand barefoot outside and to raise my arms up to the sky so I that I could ground myself in the beauty and the strength of God’s love through the elements He created. I still try to remember to do this every morning and what my daughter taught me that day changed my life.

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Today, I will celebrate the precious gift that her aliveness gives me, no matter where she has to rest her head on her birthday.

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As my daughter falls asleep tonight, in the gritty gloom of Eddie Warrior’s Correctional Center in Oklahoma, I will fall asleep in sun-drenched Florida. But we will be together in spirit. I will hold her tight in my heart, I will keep her ever constant in my prayers and if I am blessed, tonight she will stop in for a visit as I dream.

Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne

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Special thanks to Michelle Marie for the awesome family picture above.

You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings

For my Partner in Pink

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A beautiful Sand crane was standing on a wire looking down into my porch when she waved her wings at me.
I said, “Hey, come on down here and visit.”
She didn’t fly down to me, so I assumed that she didn’t have much to say.
She simply stood on one leg and waved her  impressive, white wings.
She stared at me for a long while, until I began to wonder if maybe she was my mother.
Yes, I believe that our deceased loved ones can visit us, in numerous forms.
I sat watching her and I was entranced by her grace as she balanced on one foot.
Then, she lifted her wings and let the wind gently flow beneath them, moving like a ballerina on a tight rope, a dance so beautiful to behold.
Now I know why someone wrote the song, “You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings” because that’s exactly what she needed to touch the sky.
When the wind had lifted her wings sufficiently, she bounced on her feet and lifted off, a precious free spirit with wings that could carry her up, up into the clouds.
When I went out in the yard, a single white feather blew by my feet. I bent over to pick it up and brought it in the house.
I gave it a home in a glass mug, home to dozens of feathers from other visitors.

Eyelashes

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Eyelashes
by Jeanne Marie

We choose a corner table in the cozy country restaurant, two grown women, yet…I feel that we are playing dress-up. Pangs of guilt and anxiety needle me. I had to sneak away from Mom to steal this time with my sister. She looks as guilty as I do.

My sister and I are two pieces of a puzzle, day and night, the sun and the moon. We complete each other. Years of clinging together through the dark nights, years of my father’s rage, my mother’s silence, dysfunctional machinery that welded ropes of love, hope and faith that even we have not been able to destroy.

It doesn’t matter how long we’re apart; we begin our conversation where we ended on my last visit, as if no time had passed. Once, after a serious argument, we didn’t speak for three years and still; when we made up, it was the same way.

We talk about how we are workaholics, always working for (or loving) men who try to control, use, abuse, manipulate, annihilate and dominate. She tells me that at least I always fight back and stand up for myself. It’s true.

However, we agree that I accept the abuse too. I just make a lot of noise and end up quitting or running away. I’ve never resolved the situations. My life is paved with unresolved relationships.

I talk about starting my hypnotherapy to quit smoking and how when I am under, I always end up in deep, murky moats, smoky castles with walls built from bricks of terror and abandonment. I tell her that they dumped a baby out of a shopping cart into the smoke and her eyes open wide. I didn’t know if it was Sue Sue or me in that carriage. It felt like we were the same baby. I start to cry and light another cigarette. Two years of therapy and I’m still smoking.

“I’m almost fifty and I don’t want to deal with my childhood anymore, I just want to be okay. I just want to quit smoking.” I tell her. Tears fill her eyes.

We order breakfast and settle in with our coffee, letting it soothe us as I light another cigarette.

We need to talk about Mom, the reason I’m home this time. Our oldest sister has already agreed to take responsibility for Mom when the time comes. I’d always planned to be the one, but find now that the time is near, I’m not able to take care of my own needs, let alone imagine caring for anyone else.

“Is she still able to take care of herself?” I ask Susanne. “Keep track of her medicines and her doctor’s appointments? She has cried wolf so many times that I don’t know if she is honestly too confused to function on her own, and even though I just spent a week with her, I still can’t tell. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Alice in Wonderland,” says my sister. “Alice in Wonderland. I have been Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party my entire life. Nothing is ever what it seems.”

She talks about the falseness of our “loving, nurturing mother.” A mother who nearly destroyed her by trying to be the man in her life, her father, her husband, her daughter’s father.

I cringe as she talks, remembering my sister trapped, pregnant, the husband to-be my mother drove away, how I helped my sister work and escape when she turned eighteen. How she ran away into a world crazier than the one she left behind and preferred it still.

“Do you remember when dad was ranting and raving and he used to tell us that someday we’d find out that Mom was the reason he was crazy? Well, he was so right. My life has been nothing but a Mad Hatter’s tea party.”

She has mentioned Alice a lot these past few days. It has been years since I heard about Alice, so I know there is something she needs to say.

“Don’t you know?” she demands. “Don’t you know that Mom is your father figure? The dominating male figure in your life? How could you go through years of therapy and never figure out that your inability to deal with men is her fault?”

I know by the frustration in her voice, that she has wanted to tell me this for a very long time. I start to cry. Her words cause my stomach to flop over, my heart pounds with panic.

My gut knows that she is right. I just can’t believe that I have never seen it for myself. If my sister is Alice, I must be Sleeping Beauty.

“With all the therapy you’ve been in, haven’t you ever focused on Mom?” she shouts.

“No. I didn’t. I knew what she had done to you, how she controlled you and kept you a prisoner with Danielle ‘till you were eighteen, but she never wanted me. I was always the one that could handle her. Now I can’t handle her anymore and I realize that when I thought I could, it was only an illusion, I never had control. It was all just part of the game. She controls me too.”

My voice is soft and teary. Her voice is shrill and full of angry emotion. Her pain is the lighter fluid that sparks our conversation.

She cries out, “I can’t handle being around Mom. When I’m around her, I start to pull all of my eyelashes out again.”

I am startled, shocked by the degree of my sister’s torment. Yet, as she speaks the words, she is touching her eyelids in a familiar way. I have seen her do it a million times. How could I have ever thought that she had mascara in her eyes so often?

She continues, her voice taut with pain. “Mom is not normal. She hates everything about babies and childbirth. She hates kids. She is so sick. You know how I eat so fast? Well, one day when we were eating she said, ‘Watch me eat. Watch how I chew each bite slowly. Eat like this. Watch me. This is how you eat your food. Look at me.’ It was awful.”

“When you were little?” I ask.

“No! I was forty-one years old!”

We sit surrounded by elderly couples who pretend not to listen as we talk about our mother, our childhood.

Do they wonder if their own children sit in crowded restaurants exposing family secrets?

I feel as if I should shush my sister because the details that are pouring from her mouth are dirty and tattered, personal, best left to a therapist’s couch.

Her passionate grief, the shrill horror in her voice, the way she touches her eyelashes as she speaks, all these things freeze my words.

I decide that she is the only person in this room that I need to be concerned about.

“Why can’t you see the way that she has damaged you too, why do you think you never feel good enough? You had the same mother as me! You suffered the same things that I did. Do you think you escaped her mind games, her torture? Nothing was ever good enough for her; we were never enough for her. That is why you can’t deal with the men in your life, the same as me.”

My blind eyes are wide open now.

“We are so strong to have even survived, don’t you know that? We are both miracles. We are both so special, so gifted and she has not been able to destroy that in us. We are survivors.”

As we stand, we hold onto to each other for a long moment before we walk away with our heads held high. You can almost hear the people in the room let out a collective sigh of relief.

“Do you think we should have charged admission?” I ask her.

She laughs as she says, “Ya, cause then we could have used a microphone and sat in front of the fireplace.”

Ironic. When Dad was screaming, we used to hide in the old, unused fireplace in our bedroom.

I am grieving the loss of my sister even as we drive away from the restaurant together because I’ve learned that each time I leave her and fly home to Oklahoma, she will wipe me from her heart, erase me from her mind and that I won’t exist until I walk back in her door. I have to accept that it is the only way she can deal with her pain and her anger when I leave her.

Sadly, I know that one day I will knock on her door and she will not open it. She will erase me along with her past, leaving me behind as she runs away to another Mad Hatter’s tea party, an insane event that makes much more sense than her reality.

My baby sister Alice and me, Sleeping Beauty.

The Christmas Cactus

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The Christmas Cactus…
The white blooms are from my sister Sue to her daughter, Danielle. Danny asked me to save its life when it was weak and dying. I mixed it with my half pink plant. It was half a plant because someone, not me, didn’t listen when I yelled, “STOP!”
By the way do you think men ask you to watch them back up and guide them just so you’ll get out of the way? Because they never do hear you yell “STOP!” or see you waving your arms in the air.
Anyway, my half a pink plant that my mother-in-law gave me when I moved here was very special to me and the half that Sue gave to Danny was very special to her.
At the time, that piece of white Christmas cactus would be all that I had left of my sister, Sue. I cried when Danielle trusted me with it. These two halves blended well and created a beautiful, full, gorgeous Christmas cactus. IMAG3216 IMAG0892

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I added a piece of peach cactus in thin areas and it bloomed in July. Really. If anybody has a Christmas cactus that has bloomed in July, even in Florida please let me know!
This Christmas cactus was dying, broken, and to the eye, worthless. I tenderly replanted these shattered, sickly leaves in one pot. I fertilized them with love, tears, Miracle Grow and prayers. It has grown and bloomed into a family treasure, just like my Great Nana’s gigantic Christmas cactus that we have passed through the family. (By the way whoever has custody of it now, I would love a piece to add to this new one.)
Merry Christmas to all the women in my family from me and the Christmas cactus. If I was going to dedicate a plant to all the men in the family, it would have to be a rose and they know why.
Love from all my Angels and me, Jeanne Marie

Thanksgiving, 1996. by Grace Christine Doucette, my Mom.

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Life and Death

 

 

 

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Recently, my nephew lost his battle with the family illness, alcoholism.
He was the oldest grandchild in our family and the very first baby I fell in love with, a passion that has stayed with me ever since. My three siblings and I have never lost a child, so this is a first for us and we are struggling to accept that he is really gone.
Although I was only 12 when he was born, my sister asked me to be his godmother. He was a gorgeous baby and by the time he was a year old, he had long blonde curls all over his head. I loved those curls. When he got his first haircut, I was devastated. I begged his mom not to cut his curls, but his dad thought he looked girly and he insisted on the haircut. I remember being so mad at both of them and I remember crying for days over the loss of his baby curls.
My sister lived at home when he was born, so he and I spent many nights snuggling and playing. I remember his colic and I remember all the nights I held him close to my body so my warmth could relax his hard little tummy, always walking him because he would cry as soon as I sat down.
He knew he had a problem with alcohol and he fought this disease with all his might, with every ounce of strength he had and he never gave up the struggle, fighting his demons until the last day.
My sister, his mom, used to dream that I was lost and that I was being dragged under in a swamp filled with snakes and monsters. After I became sober at age 23, she never had that dream again.  I always say that she and her church friends prayed me sober against my will but the truth is that God does have a plan for each of us and He alone knows the reasons. We were not able to pray my nephew sober.
Yet, our human nature wants answers. God must get so sick of people at the Pearly Gates asking, “WHY?”
I want to ask, “Why me and not him? Why me and not my daughter?”
I prayed my heart out for my nephew, talked to him for several hours about how sobriety was possible for anyone, if it was possible for me. It just wasn’t in the Plan for him.
God doesn’t give us everything we ask for and He did give us Free Will. He also says no and maybe. My nephew was a no, my daughter is a maybe.
Right after Robbie’s death, my sister said that if his death saved one person, it would be a comfort to her. That happened so quickly that my head is still spinning. Another nephew was at home, sick, while his mom was at my sister’s house.
He is a recovering drug addict but lately he has been drinking, a lot. Beer with shots of vodka, the same poison that killed his cousin. He got nervous after he found out about his cousin because his eyes were turning yellow and his urine was dark brown. He went to the emergency room the next morning and he is now in intensive care. His spleen is swollen and his liver is inflamed. His cousin’s example made him go to the hospital and hopefully, with God’s grace, he made it there in time. (He is home and doing much better now.)
Life. It is what it is and it’s not always a picnic in the sunshine.
But if we could only remember that we make our own sandwiches and that we choose the drinks that we pour down our throats, that we pick the poisons that we put into our bodies, if we could remember that God can only work with what we give him, that He won’t force Himself on us, if we could remember that we are given choices, maybe there would be more addicts receiving a yes and less addicts destroying themselves and hurting everyone that loves them.
My sobriety is the greatest gift God ever gave me and I don’t know why me and not my nephew, why me and not my daughter.
During the coming days, as I try to comfort his mother, my sister, and as I mourn the loss of this man that I have loved since his birth 48 years ago, I will pray for courage, I will pray for strength and I will continue to pray for my Maybe Girl.
You are welcome to join me.