The Fall of Man

They found him. Gunshot wound to the chest on his birthday. Although, it makes sense, his heart was what hurt the most. His wife passed away four years ago in a car accident. He was the one driving the car… He had sold his house two weeks before he took his life. He wanted to move out of the city and on with his life. But, with no job prospects and no real friends anywhere else, he must have lost all hope. Deep down, we all knew this day would come; we just thought it would have happened shortly after she died, not now.

My uncle Steve is was an introverted, angry man. He didn’t like the outside world. When he met and married my aunt, his second wife, new life was pumped into his veins. He turned himself around, started going to parties, meeting people, and he even thought about having children! He said and did things he, and we, never thought he would do. But, when he accidently hit the other car that caused her death; he also died. The spark she implanted in him was gone; he went back to his old ways, hating the world and everyone in it. Each year that he remained alive, we considered ourselves lucky.

The last time I saw him was the day before his birthday. We were at a family gathering at my grandmothers. It was to celebrate her birthday, as well as his. He retreated to the living room for most of his time there, and when he was in the kitchen, he wouldn’t talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. When my grandmother talked to him, he answered her with a strong tongue and boiling anger in his eyes. No one could say or do anything to please him at this point.

I didn’t even bother trying to talk to him for fear that he would lash out at me. In fact, in all the years that we’ve been family, I’ve never said more than a few sentences to him. He wasn’t the type of uncle to show up at your high school play, take you out for ice cream, or make small talk. He was a man who just wanted to be left alone.

Sure, I could cry my heart out, take off of work for a few weeks, and preach to everyone about how you need to, “hold you loved ones close.” But, I can’t. I’ve never loved this man. To me, this isn’t a heartbreaking loss.

In fact, this isn’t a loss at all. My uncle did not die; he’s very much alive. Today he turns another year older…and colder, that is true. And, as I sat near him the other day, not speaking a word, I was reminded of how awful of a person I truly am. I realized in that moment that the man sitting near me is a man I’ve known my whole life; but he’s been nothing but a stranger. I realized that if he died tomorrow, even from suicide, it would not have a major impact on me. Sure, I would feel awful. No one deserves to die, no matter what the cause! And, no one deserves to feel alone. But, to me, it wouldn’t feel like a major loss. I can honestly say that it would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away.

Four years ago, this was where my family found themselves; on suicide watch for my uncle. It’s awful to admit that someone who is supposed to be such a huge part of your life doesn’t matter to you. Writing those words, “It would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away” makes me feel like a terrible person, but I know deep down that I’m being true to myself. Although, sometimes, we have to admit that even those people in our lives who are supposed to be family and the closest humans to us, mean zilch. That is why we all must create our own “families.” “Families” that are made up of blood relations, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, etc. “Plant your own seeds and grown your own garden because you have the power to choose who you become and who is allowed to influence you along the way.”

Granny Smith – over and out

I’m Poor

“I’m poor” is a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot lately from friends, especially when I’m trying to plan a nice evening for us outside of our apartments. Every time I hear that phrase, I cringe and hold my tongue. For many individuals my age, it can seem like we have no money. Student loans, renting our first apartment, car insurance, renters insurance, pets, cell phone bills; it all escalates quickly. But, are we really “poor?”

Different images can pop into our minds when we think of the word “poor” or “rich.” When I think of “poor,” I think about a homeless person sitting on the side of the street, or a single parent who only works a few hours a week and is about to lose his or her house…and possibly their child(ren). When I think of poor, I don’t think of people in their early-mid twenties. Sure, we don’t have a lot, and we haven’t even started thinking about saving for retirement, but most of us have an amazing support system, like friends or family, or other financial resources (financial counselors) that can help push us in the right direction.

When I think of poor, I think of individuals whose family members left them to fend for themselves, put them into foster care, went to jail, died without saving a single penny to give to their children (who are already homeless with nothing), the list goes on. When I think of rich, sure I think about individuals that have mansions in California, nice cars, wear Gucci, etc. However, I also think of people who have enough money to pay for their own car, provide food for themselves (and possibly another family member), have a pet or multiple, go out to eat with friends, but most importantly, I think about myself. When I thought I had nothing, whenever I’ve felt like the world is falling apart around me, I have my family, friends, significant other, and my dog. I have a plan B; I have a backup system. This helps me know that even if I don’t have much in the end, everything will work out.

I used to be the type of person who took on everything, who thought she could figure it out on her own, who was afraid to ask for help, and who was used to having other adults “taking care of” it for her when it was physically apparent that she was struggling. Now, I’ve learned to say “no.” I’ve learned to ask for help directly and from multiple resources. I ask for help because I am rich. I am rich because I have a strong support system. I have a strong support system because I’m attracted to people who know what it means to care. I am not poor. I am the opposite of poor.

Granny Smith – over and out

Puppy Love

If you read my previous post, you know that I love dogs and work with a local rescue. Well, last week, a group of dogs from the south came up to the north with my rescue to find a better life. My family and I are fostering one of them. He’s a puppy…

The last time my family had a puppy was 13 years ago. And, needless to say, I don’t remember it being as hard/crazy as it is right now. In the time it took me to write this post, I had to reprimand him 7 times!

When our new friend came into our lives, I was excited. And, when they handed him to me and we locked eyes, my heart melted. However, there have been many trials and tribulations over the last week that have tested my patience and given me even more sympathy for new parents and puppy parents.

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think about raising our foster puppy is the fact that I’m ALWAYS thinking about him and wondering how he’s doing if I’m not around. When I’m at work, I’m almost happy that I get a break, but I worry that he’s getting into trouble, or that he’s sick, choking, something horrific! My mind never stops wandering with possibilities. At the same time, if I leave him with my parents, I feel a slight sense of guilt. I feel bad that I’m off at work or anywhere else but home…where I feel like I should be 24/7.

Another thing that I’ve noticed while having a puppy around is that I can be completely disappointed in him when he shits in his cage, whines from a lack of attention, or barks like crazy, yet, I’m still so in love with him. My mind knows that he’s making bad choices, and I know that I need to discipline him for that, but I also want to give him a big kiss and scoop him up in my arms.

The third item that’s come to my attention is that I feel the need to reprioritize my days…if not my life. Having him around makes me focus on what REALLY needs to get done and what can wait until later. At first, I was spending way too much time with him and blowing off emails, job searching, and more. Now, I’ve finally figured out a schedule so that I can effectively train him, yet get my work done! I’ve noticed that over the last week I’ve spent very little time on Facebook, and generally surfing the web, and more time focusing on what really matters. If anything, our new friend makes me realize how much time I’ve been wasting in a given week!

Another major item that’s come up while the puppy has been with us is paying attention to our other dog. My dog is 13 years old, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting him this past week. Yes, I’m still feeding him, taking him outside, and giving him attention at the end of the day. But, so much of my day is spent in the same room as the puppy, for training and development purposes, that I feel like I’ve just let my dog fend for himself. I can see that he’s upset and even a bit hurt when my family and I are playing with the puppy in another room and my dog just gets to sit and watch. Unfortunately, we had to separate them because my older dog almost bit the puppy the other day…yeah, not fun.

I believe the last thing that’s really struck a chord with me is that I’m going to be so happy when the puppy finally finds his forever home, but I’m going to be crushed when he leaves. He’s bonded so well with every member of my extended family, and he’s working so hard to please everyone. Once he’s gone, I know things will be able to go back to normal, and normal will seem like a vacation, but when someone or something is a huge part of your life for any amount of time, there’s a bit of sadness that comes with letting it go.

What are your stories with raising your dogs, cats, kids? Are they anything like mine?

Granny Smith – over and out