Archive for April, 2010
“Make sure you always put on clean underwear in case you get into an accident”
I was never sure why having clean underwear was needed in case of an accident- I thought perhaps it would help , the nurses, doctors, etc. might take better care of me. I didn’t argue with my mum – I have just made sure that I have clean knickers on all the time- you never know!
Although the “Eat your Brussel sprouts there are starving children in India” usually brought forth ,
We could send them my Brussel sprouts!!!!
Monday night was a bad night in this house. I was having a hard time dealing with the events of recent days .
Now every Christmas , birthday etc I receive pajamas ( big ones- ones you can get lost in – cuddle in -expand in) . I have lots of pajamas. I would live in them if I could -just like Hugh Hefner .
However, something strange happens in this house when a matching set of pajamas disappear down the laundry chute in the upstairs bathroom somehow when they reach the basement- something happens- they never come back upstairs as a set.
I have given up over the years -so what if the bottoms and jackets don’t match- I am sure my husband of many, many years no longer is looking for me to “match”- He would probably be more impressed if my hair stayed the same color from week to week or I purchased “snore no more”.
So “Black Mood Monday“ found me wandering the house unable to sleep , trying to deal with the flood of emotions that were beating me up. I finally headed for bed at 1:30 am. hoping that the sheer emotional exhaustion would act as a sleeping pill. I lay staring at the ceiling, the walls , trying to rid my brain of all the thoughts and hurt and listening to my heart beat pounding in my ears.
” I will never get to sleep with this pounding in my chest… Wait a minute!!! SHOULD I be hearing my heart beat in my ears? SHOULD my chest be pounding … Oh horrors….my pajamas were clean but mismatched… what should I do? Should I get dressed put on clean underwear? Supposing the ambulance came and horrors of horrors they would find an overweight woman that they would have to get downstairs in mismatched pajamas. Aren’t you supposed to cough to get the heart in rhythm when having a heart attack? Damn the aspirin are downstairs- I can’t be carried out in circus tent like pajamas for all the world to see”
Someone tell me – are these the thoughts that flash across your mind when you think you are dying? – I thought it was supposed to be your life flashing before your eyes in your final minutes- not the state of your pajamas ( or underwear) . Come to think of it that may happen when you are drowning- Note to self the next time I fall in the pond I will try to pay attention!
Well I got up , coughing with every step to counteract the dreaded heart failure before I found matching pajamas My heart racing even more now with the added worry of where I could find a good pair of matching pajamas at 2 in the morning in the laundry area that has been likened to “Ohio’s latest disaster area”..
Would I be found in the light of day face down in a pile of pajamas – ?
Success!!!! I found a pair that matched, showered again and changed ( which totally woke me up) and I realized that the effort and focus of finding pajamas had helped the anxiety and blackness I had been feeling to dissipate . My heart was no longer pounding in my ears and now wide awake I went to the computer and wrote another post.
How many people can say their life was probably saved by mismatched pajamas and their mother’s advice of “clean knickers”?
But I now have my emergency kit packed and ready to go. Also I have written “my own Obit”! I certainly don’t want published what others may think of me ;)
NOTE: “He who thinks he should be obeyed ” and Misty slept through the whole episode! Of course in my husband’s defence he probably thought I was snoring!!!!
I am in pieces , fragmented , flotsam in a sea of grief, my direction dependent upon the current of others.
Part of me is dying, part of me is fighting, loving , nurturing . protecting , grieving. I am a confusion of thoughts and emotions. I am no longer me-
Some mornings, as I wake to a sky still dark, I am unsure of what is real and what is a nightmare. My nightmare of reality soon becomes clear and then there are those waking moments where the confusion as to what is my reality bides a while longer.
Is my body ( brain) in order to protect the other parts of “self” loathe to “wake” me to my reality?
Can the nightmares of my sleep be less stressful that the nightmare of my reality? Can the blurring of waking to what is real in my world and the stuff of nightmares give a respite to my body?
This is so new to me – Grieving for my child, my son – a gut wrenching heart ache that rips through your very insides , hourly , daily wearing away at courage , a lack of healing compounded by”other people” – who seem to want to punish us – those that loved him – perhaps too well?
Can you love someone too much who was part of your mind and body completely from that first miraculous spark that became a life, a child inside you?
A being that shared your heartbeat, your emotions , your fears , your laughter , your tears , your thoughts, your very bodily functions and was a part of you totally for the first months of their life. That child that was in essence YOU , the mother that carried him.
A woman gives a child everything from her body as she nurtures the being that will in a few months be torn from her womb in pain and emotion . That child of her body remains in her heart and in her very being for the rest of her life.
Can one who has only been a wife and not a mother understand the all consuming self sacrificing love that grows as the child grows and does not lessen with time but is magnified by the sharing of days?
When death comes to the child before the mother ( no matter the time frame) there is once again a tearing in her body and soul and a pain that cannot be relieved as the pain of his birth was relieved by the happiness of your child’s cry as he entered the world .
The intensity of love that first filled you as you first held your child in your arms , compounded by the months when you shared a body, whose souls touched and intermingled as life grew and a life essence that is still within you no matter the passing of the years.
I am getting old and weary, I tried to fight the obscenity ( Cancer) that took my son from those that loved him – I tried to do everything and anything to give him his life , I questioned, researched, pleaded and prayed and when the time came to take him off a vent I had to let him go.
Now in my gut-wrenching sorrow my grieving has been sullied – taken from me by “love”- another kind of love perhaps one that is foreign to me a “self” ish love – I don’t know anymore I am drowning in my sea of sorrow battered on the shore of cruelty and selfishness……………….
I know not the way to grieve, to lessen the pain of those I love and whose mother I am still. I am as a wave crashing on a rocky shoreline, fragmented , to be sucked out to sea of grief only to be pummeled once more of the rocks of “other people and my own part of hell”.
They sit there percolating, nagging and gathering “virtual dust”, since I started this blog over two years ago they have multiplied. Some drafts are no longer topical , some “what was I thinking” category – some painful – some full of anger- some full of happiness (written in the very beginning of this blog BC ( Before Cancer) . They are the “stems” of stem cells- healthcare- rail travel – air travel- countries- hope- no hope- history- future- religion- politics, people, truths that are too truthful to publish – life ( don’t worry I think I done death to death but… come to think of it there is the “after life” :) – they are legion…..
They wait for me to click “publish” so they can take their message ( for all it is worth) to the www for their moment in time.
Many were written in the time before the sun comes up – a post that nags until I have to get up and write down the thoughts that bounce around my brain like the balls in a pin ball machine – Now you know why some of these posts make no sense I am half asleep with bells and beeps going off in my head. This was such a post.
Can we that blog , for whatever reason, make a difference in our little areas of “non expertise ( for most of us). It is difficult to blog consistently on a daily , bi weekly or weekly basis. I think maybe the Morning Journal has found that out.
I noticed the Editor”s Blog (Morning Journal) has not been refreshed daily. As I write the last three posts were April 3rd, 17th and 20th – But today they launched a new feature a clickfix
Wouldn’t it be nice to fix all the worlds problems with a click – but then again isn’t that what bloggers ( for the most part) are trying to do -
click alt delete :)
However just fact checking this morning I noticed that Tom had refreshed his blog two days in a row but with “The End of the World As we Know It……..”
You have to becareful of the delete button you know Tom :)
No it wasn’t the Key to the City of London, but the honor bestowed was just as humbling and gratefully accepted as if it had of been. London my home of my youth has given way to Lorain home of my “coming of age”.
Mayor Krasienko apparently made a touching speech on February 13th at DeLucas. In my early days of emotional incontinence I couldn’t make the event, but before the people gathered that evening I was awarded the Key to the City of Lorain.
I met with Mayor Krasienko ( he was forewarned he could end up with a blubbering woman on his hands- but he said he could handle it ) for lunch a week ago Monday at the Rose Cafe where he quietly presented me with a lovely engraved plaque for a “positive impact”. He did end up with a blubbering woman!
Although I am deeply humbled and honoured I wanted to accept this plaque on behalf of “Everyone” who has made
Photo Mark Teleha
Veterans Park and
Charleston Pioneer Cemetery,
I AM NOT ALONE IN THESE THINGS- WITHOUT THE PEOPLE WHO CARE AND THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ALL I COULD DO IS SHOOT OFF MY MOUTH!
So I geared myself to reign in the tears and go to City Council on Monday night to thank those who do care for this city we call home.
Well it wasn’t to be my emotions were dragged farther down a bottom less pit and another gut wrenching kick to my soul took place.
However, I did send a written thank you to the City of Lorain on Charleston Village letterhead and here it is:
Mayor A. Krasienko and the City of Lorain
Lorain City Hall
200 West Erie Avenue,
Lorain, Ohio 44052 April, 13th 2010
Dear Mayor Krasienko, Administration and City Council,
Re Key to the City of Lorain
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for the great honor in receiving the Key to the City of Lorain. Although it is my name on the plaque, I know that everyone is aware that without the wonderful people who support the ideas and do the “real work”, I could not accomplish anything; this also includes those who are elected officials and those who also work for the City of Lorain as well as the many volunteers of Charleston Village and her sister organizations .
I will accept the Key to the City on their behalf and look forward to working with all of you in the future and continuing to have a positive impact in our community . Once again thank you for this award I am humbled and grateful.
Co Chair Charleston Village Society Inc
THANK YOU ALL FOR BRINGING A LITTLE LIGHTNESS INTO MY WORLD AND FOR BEING THERE FOR LORAIN AND THIS LORAINE
A OPEN POST TO Dr. ANGELA (LOMBARDI) Ritchey MURPHY DO – just incase she decides to read this blog ;)
Well that came as a bit of a surprise today to say the least, but that is what his wife of just over a year informed me today.
You see contrary to the opinion of his wife. My son and I had a very, very, very open and honest relationship.( and I have his last letter to prove what I say ) BUT today after a lot of legal dealings ( more on that in the next post) my husband received some of Chris’ hunting equipment.
Angela Lombardi ( ritchey)
Stuck on the top of the box was another note from Angela Lombardi ( ritchey) who apparently ignores this blog for the most part :) ( methinks she doth protest too much )
However, she felt she had to tell me :
there is one thing I would like to clear up though Chris was never mad at me when he was in Texas.
I never said he was – I can tell you now though he was disappointed and hurt Angela that you chose to leave him in Texas with me ( sorry I saw the note you left him in drawer when I was looking for some paper)
Yes! you see I knew my presence in Texas only confirmed that he was dying of Cancer, I was a constant reminder that he needed a care giver ( although you felt he could manage on his own to deal with side effects of a trial drug and Cancer) he would’ve preferred that it would have been his wife, not his mother to be with him.
As a wife I couldn’t have left my husband knowing that he was living under a death sentence and had been since August 29th -but that was your choice.
I , for one was glad to spend the last weeks of Chris life with him . I would walk through fire for him , he always knew that – Yes! I loved him intensely he was my son I would have enabled his happiness even when it meant sacrificing my own.
You say in your “note” (you are so good at “notes’) that he wasn’t going to correct the impression that he was mad at you because he was tired of arguing. He never gave me the impression he was mad at you.-
I know he was angry at me and Nikki in Texas which was directly attributable to you because he felt we left you out of the loop when it came to travel arrangements on October 8th .
He wanted to drive the truck back . I told you in an email ( which I have ) that it wasn’t a good idea him driving, he was having difficulty due to the side effects of SGN35 and I thought you should know since obviously you had been in Ohio since Sept 10th and hadn’t see the problems he was having even driving to Target let alone 1,700 miles.
I asked how many air line tickets you needed and what date as I wanted to book them ( I also have those emails) because the price kept going up daily – the earlier you book the less money – and since we weren’t made of money it was a concern since his family were picking up the costs.
I didn’t mention this to Chris as you are right he needed to put all his energy into healing. YOU ignored me , but told Chris we hadn’t included you in any of the arrangements.
He was very angry at me and his sister. WE had the fight in Texas he was furious we had made arrangements without your knowledge. NOW I wonder why he would think that? I confronted him as to why he was so angry at me and Nikki…. and he said :
“You didn’t include Angela”
“What are you talking about – I included Angela
CHRIS No you didn’t !
Would you like to see the emails?
Yes! I would”
So you are calling me a liar ?
” Don’t give me that F…. shit if I want to see the email then I must be calling you a liar. There aren’t any emails Angela doesn’t lie!
I then pulled up the emails all of them sent to you –
Look at the dates and times Chris … now tell me I’M the one that lied…… she says here she wants to talk to you about it did she?
Well she has been busy
she talks to you 4 or 5 times a day she couldn’t mention it but she could let you believe that Nikki and I didn’t include her?
He broke down Angela … cried…..you did that to him by trying to lie by omission … not me ….I held him and he said:
“did you ever think that I want to see something of the country if I am going to be dead in two years.”
My heart broke for him – I cried and we held on tight to each other and I said
Chris none of us know when we will die, the way you are driving lately we could end up dead on the way to hospital tomorrow ….
he laughed a little and I said
Chris, I know the SGN35 is working, the lump on your neck isn’t visible and you haven’t coughed since Sept 21st.
That was the night he went and checked the lumps on his neck for the first time in weeks. Remember that phone call Angela – you called Nikki and said
“I wonder why he did that all of a sudden” he hadn’t been checking on the lumps til tonight ? Now you know !
I told him that I would find a way for him to drive that damned truck back . Then we phoned Jim and Nikki Jim said he would take a week off work and drive down to Texas with Chris and fly back and he did.
The rest of the story you know , because YOU Angela ( Dr. of Medicine) wouldn’t listen to the Drs. at MD Anderson and my begging you to please fly back and decided that
Chris will be just fine driving back to Ohio.” We will take it easy”
Well you got as far as Jackson Mississippi when he collapsed and the rest is history. I had said to him the last thing the morning of the test results:
Chris no matter the news good or bad please rethink driving back, you can leave the truck with JD ( Houston) or let me keep the apartment in Houston for the next couple of weeks – you have to drive back to Ohio all that way and then turn around and fly back in two days after that
Chris said he would think about it , he called and said that you and he decided he could drive.
He called me from the hospital bed at SouthPointe and said
“Mum, I am appreciative of everything you did in Texas
I know that Chris you don’t have to thank me
He continued :
But I was so mean to you
I responded :
Chris I am your mother , you are allowed to be mean to me , I understand what you are going through , the lack of control over your own life , the anger – it is OK I love you !
He said :
You were right I should have stayed in Houston, I shouldn’t have come back to the apartment there are so many bad memories – I should’ve stayed and I love you mum I should’ve listened
Chris it is no good in hindsight we will get through this I will see you Friday . I love you
As always he said
I love you too”
I did see Chris and cooked his last meal for him and he told me as tears squeezed from the corner of his eyes – he felt he was pathetic and that he never wanted to be pathetic and the worst feeling in the world was not being able to breathe.
I cuddled him , got him his drink , helped him go to the toilet whilst you were at work that last night he was home. I had to be there to let the guy in with the oxygen. I watched my son trying to be brave and hopeful.
Remember that night Angela you and your parents were making arrangements to put him on a damned train to Texas. You felt ( even with your medical background) this young man who couldn’t make it to the bathroom would be able to leave at three in the morning on a train to Chicago, change trains, to Austin and it was only a three-hour drive to Houston from there…..
Personally I am not sure what you people use for brains at times. I promised Chris if he was well enough to travel I would get him to Texas
you can’t drive to Texas
- I said
I will get you there if I have to hire an ambulance and drive it myself.
He then slept for a little and I sat up with him all that night.
You state that “he would defend you when you did not deserve it and would be the first person to put you in your place when he had enough“
That is interesting :) as Chris knew full well I could take care of myself but IF he did defend me I wonder WHO it was that felt I didn’t deserve to be defended YOU PERHAPS??? :)
Maybe I didn’t know everything about my son- you have set me in search of him and I will let his own words and works speak for him but unfortunately I know you and my worst suspicions of you have been confirmed.
You must have known how hard it would be to receive his personal belongings today , the smell of him still on those jackets and to write your little note of self-justification that was meant to hurt.
You can never justify what you and your family did to this family . Your innocent facade crumbling with every little word that you write that tries to take Chris and who he was from those that loved him. You won’t do it Angela . You obviously didn’t love Chris at least not as much as it seems you love the idea of YOU!
I don’t understand Angela what is it that you want – why this need to take Chris and who he was from us – to make us 2nd guess- We have lost our son and brother isn’t that enough pain Angela why this need to inflict more?
I know more of your relationship than even you are aware of as I said my son and I talked openly, honestly -I knew his faults and he knew mine – why you feel the need to try an take what we have left of Chris from us is puzzling – what gratification do you get from it? What purpose does it serve?
To be continued …..
“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One - In search of my son- In search of me
Part Two – Tourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three - Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four - In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks
Part Five - Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six - The Unfinished Portrait
Part Seven- The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2)part two – Who are we really
Part Eight- When Premonition Becomes Hindsight
Part Nine – When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten- There is an “I” in Death
Both my children grew to adulthood in this old house in Lorain, Ohio. Both of them stayed here until their respective weddings. We were very fortunate to have those years.
Portraits painted by Terrence Gabbey ( cousin)
My great-grandfather and his sons ( on my father’s side) were also artists- however whether or not they were very good depends upon whom in the family you talk to :)
Well he did manage to convince Harrods that he was good enough and they commissioned him to paint murals ( in all probability) on their walls. Harrods well there’s a coincidence -a little Harrods’ Bear served me well
His son ( my great-uncle) John Stringer also dabbled and his I have five of his paintings on my walls . If you look closely the signature says Jack Stokes.
His name was ‘Stringer” but because he wanted to join the fight in South Africa and the Boer War , and being that he was not of an age to sign up and against his father’s wishes he lied about his age and family so as to get into the fracas. He took the maiden name of his mother “Stokes” ( she of the Stokes of Stanshawes)
“Jack” lost his arm in the Boer War ( not sure if it was the first or 2nd one) all I know is that when he couldn’t sell enough of his paintings to pay the rent he would pawn his false arm.
There are any number of paintings / beaten copper and tapestry and Nana’s needle point that can be found on my walls . Every room has a family “art work”
We even have a small oil from the 1700’s I have no idea of the artist .
I did take it to the Oberlin Art Museum many years ago who told me it was very dirty – (well what did they expect it is over 300 years old ) – We call her The Old Bitch - dour faced in her old frame- probably Dutch -but who knows a throw away Rembrandt ? She too came from my Grandmother’s house where she was before that only she could tell.
I cannot take down the plethora of paintings etc. Each one means something to me , I am running out of room. I look at uncluttered spaces with envy BUT as I discover more and more of my son’s work in boxes and portfolios the walls are filling up even more. In searching for the fact as to whether this family “knew ” Chris – (as 2nd guessing was thrust upon us by “the committee of 19″ ) I have made discoveries as my son’s work speaks and hopefully some that will help his little nephew as he grows. I can tell you Nikki’s walls are filling up too. :) -Thank you Cleveland Institute of Art!
to be continued ….