The Fall of Man

death

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

Puppy Love

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

Who Rescued Who?

rescue dog

Growing up, I always wanted to be the girl who lived on a farm, or the one whose parents fostered animals, or the girl who was born into a family who already had dogs. It’s no secret that I love animals a lot more than I love people, but I love rescue animals most of all.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time working for a local dog rescue. This rescue brings dogs from high kill shelters in the south home to the north. Working with this rescue, I’ve heard a lot of stories in regards to the backgrounds of our dogs. Unfortunately, most of them make me roll my eyes towards the human race, others make me tear up.

Before joining this rescue, I didn’t realize how terribly dogs were treated in the south. I’m not saying that all dogs in northern United States are treated fairly, but this rescue works with multiple shelters in different states in southern United States where the euthanisation rate is through the roof and a lot of individuals down there don’t even know what spaying or neutering means.

For example, one dog that was recently brought to us was very large and fluffy. The owners of this dog lived in an apartment and decided to pack up and leave one day without warning and left their dog to fend for itself in the empty space. Did I mention that this was in the middle of summer? Without air conditioning, the apartment was 90 degrees.

In another instance, members of our rescue team went down to a new shelter in the south to save a few dogs. When they got there, they found out that multiple dogs were euthanized three hours before our team’s arrival because they were “cleaning up for the weekend.”

To me, animals are not just animals; they’re family. My dog has been with us for 13 years. We got him when we went to a pumpkin patch shortly after the September 11th attacks. My dog is hands down the best dog for our family. He’s relaxed but loves to go for walks and gets along with other dogs…most of the time. Over the last 13 years, we’ve had some great moments, but our dog has taken more of a liking to my mother. However, over the last year with me being around our house more with my unemployment, I’ve developed the deepest bond with him that I’ve ever had. Nowadays, he’ll take naps on my bed, follow me around the house, get very excited when I put my tennis shoes on (signaling a walk), or put him in the car with me (signaling a ride to the dog park or Pet Smart). He’s been my constant companion and best friend, and I’m so happy that we’ve gotten to spend so much time together recently. We’ve grown very close, and as I write this, he is sound asleep on the edge of my bed.

Goodnight my angel; and sleep tight to all of the dogs without a home. Don’t worry, we’ll come pick you up soon!

Granny Smith – over and out

One Body, Multiple Personalities

Mitt

I just got a Netflix account…I know, I know, there goes my life! I’m already obsessed with “Orange is the New Black,” and I can’t wait to start “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad.” I’ve even seen their movie selection…and HOLY CATS. One movie in particular that recently caught my attention was the documentary, “Mitt.” “Mitt” follows Mitt Romney and his family while on the campaign trail in 2008 and in 2012. I’m not afraid to say that I voted for Romney in 2012, but after watching this documentary, it became clear that the man I voted for during the campaign was very different from the man in his documentary. In 2012, I voted for Romney because I wanted a change and because I thought he was the lesser of two evils. But, once I saw “Mitt,” I actually wound up really liking the guy. Mitt is hilarious, and his family is so down to earth and honest. Mitt was criticized a lot for only thinking of the “rich, white man,” but it turns out that he is best friends with a lot of small business owners and is truly worried about their future. I think what was most surprising to me about the documentary was Ann Romney. I remember thinking that Ann was somewhat of a plastic, air-headed, Barbie doll during the campaign. Ann Romney, in a way, was like the Anne Hathaway of politics. She was so nice and sweet all of the time, only said positive things, and didn’t really have any strong opinions (other than to back her husband). However, during the documentary, I was shocked to find that she was a real, human being, a great mother and grandmother, and only wanted the best for her husband. She, in fact, had opinions of her own and a strong personality. At the end of the documentary, I left wishing that American would’ve gotten to see that side of Mitt and his family before the 2012 election. Yes, I realize that documentaries like this one can be used to boost “approval ratings,” and may completely cut out the negative side of a person. After all, it’s HIS story and no one wants to be seen in a negative light. But, that’s not what I’m getting at with this post. What I want to say is that the documentary left me wondering about my own “true colors” and how others perceive me differently.

My family and CLOSEST friends: They know me, for the most part, and usually get where I’m coming from. They know that I’m loud, obnoxious, love a raunchy joke, and pass gas from both ends on the regular.  They know that I would do anything for them. Also, they love the fact that I can be over the top, and they know that I’m obsessed with pop culture, and they believe I should be famous. (Doesn’t everyone?)

My Co-Workers and Acquaintances: If you asked my past and present co-workers, or individuals that I don’t know well, they’d say that I’m extremely reserved, quiet, and very shy. They’d probably even mention something along the lines of “it’s hard to hold a conversation with her.” They know me as the “nice,” quiet girl that sits in the corner, will listen to your problems, and be of assistance in any way that she can.

My Significant Other: He’s seen both sides of me, but knows that my “true” personality is the one I show my family and closest friends. He knows that I’m a little rough around the edges, but I can also be VERY emotional. At times, I have multiple emotions over the course of one day! He knows that I can also be inappropriate in public places and randomly break out some new dance moves while walking down the street. He also knows that I may be crazy, but he can also take me home to his mother, and introduce me to other important people in his life without them thinking, “Why the hell is he with her?” He understands my insecurities and is trying to help me overcome them. He realizes that I can be lazy and complain, but I also love to be active and I have goals. I like to party, but I also like to stay home. I’m a hot mess, and yet, he wants to be with me. How cool is that?

My Dog: And then, there’s my other best friend. He thinks I’m a nurturer. He knows that I’m the lady who coddles him too much, gives him one too many treats, provides him with food and water, and walks him daily. Other than that, he doesn’t give a shit about what his mommy does with her free time.

Do you have different “personalities” depending upon who you’re with/what situation you’re in? Let me know in the comments!

Granny Smith – over and out

If You Were Going to Die at Midnight…

Image

In light of the last post I wrote, “Wanna Play 20 Questions?…Sort of…” I’ve decided that I’m going to pick a few of those questions and answer them in future blog posts..like this one!

Today’s question, “If you were going to die at midnight, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m.?”

When thinking about this question, a million other ones came to mind…such as, “how far in advance do I know that I’m going to die at midnight on such and such a day?..24 hours? A week?” Because, if I knew far enough in advance, I’d be able to call people up, tell them how much they meant to me, and then plan the sickest farewell party EVER!!..But, what if I found out at 11 p.m. day of? You can’t exactly rally the troops together, go through your bucket list, or make a lot of phone calls.

But, if I had to decide what I would be doing at 11:45 p.m., regardless of how far in advance I knew I was going to be gone at midnight, I’d have to say that I’d keep it simple. I would want to be in my bedroom in my parent’s house. And, I’d want to be lying on my bed, because I LOVE my bed! Seated around me would be my parents, brother, and dog. In bed with me, holding on to me, would be my boyfriend. We would all be talking, reminiscing, and they would hopefully reassure me that the life I lived was a good one, and that everything was going to be ok.

Now, to be honest, I had to debate about this a bit. On one hand, I would want them there with me. But, on the other, would I really want them to see me die? Would I really want my boyfriend to be holding on to me as I took my last breath? That kind of stuff changes your LIFE. I’ve known many individuals that have seen a loved one on their last leg, and it’s not pretty. But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be alone, and I wouldn’t want them to leave the room shortly beforehand knowing what I was going through on the other side of the door.

But, I guess what I’m really getting at is, there’s nothing sweeter in this world than family; and I have the absolute best. At the end of your life, it’s not going to be your possessions that you cling to, it’s going to be the people you love most. That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of work, life, balance. Yes, you have to fill your time here with something. But, if that something constantly causes you to miss out on time with the one’s you love most…is it really worth it? Because, at the end of your life, you’ll look back and think of everything you’ve ever wanted to do, and you’ll probably make a checklist, as in, “did I get to do this? Yes or No” and then move on. You’ll also probably wish that you were more vocal with your opinions, spent more time with family and friends, and that you didn’t work so hard.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve read different studies on what individuals greatest regrets were while they were on their deathbed. And the above are all of those are things the wished they could’ve clung on to while they were living. So, why wait? Apply what you want to do today, because as far as I’m concerned, there are no do-overs.

So, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m. if you knew you were going to die at midnight?

Granny Smith – over and out

Love and Loss

Lea Michele

So, if you’re a pop culture junkie like I am, you’ve obviously heard about the tragic death of Glee star, Cory Monteith…and you’ve probably watched the speech that his girlfriend, Lea Michele, gave at the Teen Choice Awards on August 11th.

Now, I may come off as a person who has a heart made of stone, but in all honesty, I’m very emotional, and nothing gets me more emotional than the passing of a loved one. So, when I first heard that Cory had passed, I immediately thought of Lea, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was going through. And, when I watched the speech that she gave at the Teen Choice Awards, I admittedly started tearing up.

As someone who is currently in a relationship, Lea’s loss made me think, what would I do if I lost him? How would I go on? Unfortunately, my thought process regarding this topic isn’t new. My uncle lost his wife about three years ago in a tragic car accident, and it took such a toll on him that my family members began to wonder if he was contemplating suicide.

So, what do you do to help yourself move on after the love of your life, your best friend, has passed away?

Below are 10 suggestions:

1)      Before you move on, fulfill any request that your significant other said before passing away.  If there was no time as with a sudden death for a final request, explore ideas to gift or honor your late partner. This will give you a peace of mind, and will ensure that you will not have any mental obstacles in your new life.

2)      Know that it will take time before you can begin to feel a sense of normal again. It will not just disappear, and it will not heal itself. Be patient with yourself as you work through the process of grief. Grief is a journey that lasts as long as it takes to reconcile all issues pertaining to death, your loved one, yourself, your relationship (good/bad) to bring peace and understanding.

3)      Understand that there are stages you will go through and they are not linear. You will experience denial, anger, resentment, yearning, suffering, sadness, and eventually an acceptance. However, you may not do them in this order and you may, much like a roller coaster ride, go over these stages repeatedly over the course of your grief journey with regard to the same loss.

4)      Do not pay attention to those who try to tell you that you are not grieving properly. Instead, thank s/he for their concern allow them to know everyone grieves differently. Grief is as individual as you are, as your partner was, and as your relationship was. Specifically, you will likely deal with some who thinks you are healing “too fast” and those who think you have become “stuck in your grief”. If you have concerns about either, talk to a grief counselor or therapist, s/he has training and experience to help you navigate through your grief as well as help you build self esteem.

5)      Realize that you have choices. There is a time when you need to cry and go through the suffering to get to the other side. There will come a time when you are ready to actively participate in grief work to bring healing to have a new life.

6)      Do not worry that you will forget your significant other.

7)      Ask yourself what it was that you have always wanted to do but something you never had time to do because of family obligationsNow is the time to do it! Be anything you want to be. Become an artist, a pilot, or a scuba diver. Take a ride in a hot air balloon. Most of all, strive to be happy and fulfilled. Your dreams can become a reality and help fill the void in your life. You will meet new people and realize that life can be satisfying and exciting even if you are alone.

8)      Be patient because this change may not come quickly or easily

9)      Adopt a pet. If you don’t have the energy to give a great amount of attention to a pet, consider a cat. They make great companions. They are clean and do not have to be walked. They give you love and affection. They give you someone to care for and care about. They will greet you when you come home, and lie on your lap while you watch TV. If you are not a cat person get a dog, or whatever pet makes you happiest. Understand that the pet will not replace your love, nor is it meant to, but animals can make you smile.

10)   Volunteer. When you are ready or have energy, volunteer your time to a cause or something that you feel strongly about. Helping others can have a wonderful effect on ourselves. Join the library and read. Most libraries have library buses that bring books to your neighborhood. Or you can rent a DVD, or watch movies on the TV. Write letters, or become a phone companion, a group that is backed by the Police Community Service. They make daily calls to shut-ins, to make sure that they are safe. Talk to them to keep them company and they will be keeping you company as well.

If you have recently lost a significant other, I hope that these tips have been helpful, and may you find peace.

Granny Smith- over and out