The Days Move On

Two years ago today my family sat together and spent my grandma’s last moments with her. We laughed and we cried as we lived together in each breath.

I mark time. I always have. Memories, anniversaries sit there waiting for their moment. Waiting for the chanced to be breathed in and out once again.

Two years ago it came time to mark the final moments with my grandma.

On December 12 my mom had called to say it was time to come home to see grandma. I had a cold so took a nap to prepare for the drive up. And then my grandma rallied so I told my mom we weren’t going to come–I didn’t want to make anyone sick. The next call was to come…it seesawed back and forth a bit until my hubby came home and declared, “no, we’re going.” Hubby and girls dropped me off at my grandparents for the next day and half to be with my family.

My grandparents have always been a huge part of my life. I spent a lot of time with them. Playing with baby dolls and a fisher price telephone. My grandma sewed dresses, halloween costumes, doll accessories. One year my grandma decided my cousin and I should experience a fancy lunch so she took us to a resort in the area that had a beautiful restaraunt. She made me chocolate dipped pretzels each year for Christmas.

I could list things all day. I really could.

My grandparents were snowbirds for many years–they headed for warmer climates when our harsh winters were settling in. Oh how I missed them when they were gone. They were a safe place to me.

And here we were. In the final hours with my grandma.

As I walked in to her room, having no idea how to act or what to say I said, “I love you grandma” and she spoke what would be her last words “I love you.”

And just two hours later we marked the moment of my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Fifty years. They were a team. Each having their strengths and their challenges. Having each other to lean on.

Two years later and time keeps going. Chaotically and in ways none of us ever imagined but it keeps going–waiting to be noticed, waiting to be tucked away.

I don’t know if my soul can bear all these days since then. I am buckling under the weight, the grief, the uncertainty.

I need my grandparents desperately right now. I need that safe place. I need to have them, not their time.

My grandparents many years back.

Just so you know

This is from 5 years ago so Patrice was just 6. Her personality hasn’t changed. And no, I don’t starve her.

Leah is the sweetest 6-year-old ever. She got a pouch of goldfish crackers in her trick-or-treating loot. I told her tonight she could have that with lunch, so before going to bed she comes up to me and says, “just so you know, I might ask you over and over tomorrow if it is lunchtime yet!”

Grief Revisited

*this is a repost from my facebook. It was originally written on October 5, 2020

As some of you have noticed, I’m not on here much as of late. I couldn’t handle all the controversy. I actually came on to likely add some but there is something so much more important. Last Tuesday, September 28, I received the second worst phone call of my life. My cousin, Lisa Pahl, called to tell me our beloved grandfather/papa had died unexpectedly. I went up Friday to his home (we lost our grandma in December) to help my family start to sort through 50+ years of life in one house. It is impossible and it is even more impossible to imagine he is gone. I don’t even know how many times I have cried, “dear God no!!” It just can’t be. My papa was stability and strength, steady and loving. He gave hugs that you felt for days. I spent years standing on his feet, sitting on his knee. And in the last 9 months, we both made an effort to talk on the phone (never my forte). Our last conversation included the importance of wearing a mask, what did homeschooling look like–down to where did the girls sit and where did I get the books–to saying how proud he was of me for teaching the girls and of Bob for restoring his boat and how glad he was that Bob was going to teach the girls about the water and how to respect it. (My grandfather loved all things hunting but was a conservationist to his core) I have things of his that I will treasure, even their little dog Daisy, but I don’t want any of it…I want him. I want one more hug. I want to tell him that one of the fishing poles I brought home from his house was the very same one that my hubby had as his first pole. I actually reached to call him for that but he’ll never be there again. I want to give him the mask that I ordered him after that last call–that came Saturday while I was sorting through things at his home. Let me leave you with his last advice–“people need to wear their damn masks, stay apart and get the vaccine when it comes!!” I miss you beyond words papa. So, so, so much. I love you.

He’s still right–people need to wear their masks and get the vaccine. The youngest in our family was finally able to get her first dose yesterday, November 4, 2021.

I am looking through pictures to put them here but it is bittersweet. All of this is. I want my grandparents here. With me. I want to show them the pictures. I want to talk about the pictures. A year later, I still can’t handle the grief.

Listen to Your Heart

I heard this song, Listen to your Heart, by Roxette today and it keeps reverberating in my head.

And I realized it rings a bit true today.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I used to talk about my mental health a lot but over the last few years it has gotten better for the most part, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the pandemic hasn’t ripped at it. And a toxic political situation of liars trying to destroy our democracy by claiming the election was fraudalant.

Yeah, my mental health, along with all of ours, has taken a beating. I am using my tools–medications, running, surrounding myself with people who support me.

But lately, it doesn’t seem to be working so well.

And today has involved a number of panic attacks. My heart is racing, my ears are ringing, it’s a mess.

Put that with a mixed episode–depression and hypomania together–that seems to be ongoing…it is so hard. And I am tired but sleep is not my friend.

I watched my friend make mahmoul today. You take the dough and fill it with nuts or coconut and then put it in a pretty wooden mold with a long handle. Once it is pressed in there you wack the edge of the mold on the table so the cookie pops out.

We joked how it was a great way to get out frustrations. It sure did look soothing, the whole process. Maybe I should have tried my hand at it. I did get to taste test her new recipe. Her family is all fasting for Ramadan (no food or liquid from sunup to sundown) so they made me the taste tester of the new dough recipe. I normally flat refuse to eat or drink in front of them while they are fasting but they twisted my arm. I couldn’t refuse to help them test the flavor, now could I?

In case you were wondering, she attested to the fact that it is a good way to get out your frustrations and I can tell you the new dough is AMAZING!! I love Mahmoul always, but this was another level of amazing.

And for those couple of hours, the panic was pushed away. But now it is trying to destroy me. The Anxiety and the depression. They use any good times and tear them apart later. Did I say or do that wrong? Did I talk too much? Did I laugh too much? Did they really want me to visit? Were they just being nice?

It is exhausting.

Get help if you are worried about your mental health.

Get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Not Giving Up My Shot

My husband and I are fully vaccinated. He was vaccinated + 2 weeks on the 23rd. I will be on May 3.

We are looking forward to having more protection going forward. I am bummed to still have to wear my mask most of the time, but it is a step in the right direction.

But that step will still leave us stuck if others are unwilling to be vaccinated.

I am not speaking to you if you are unable to be vaccinated due to medical issues. You are not the problem. You are a big part of why we need to be getting vaccinated if we are able. I am not speaking to you if you are under 16. Though, once they approve for younger ages, get yourself vaccinated.

The rest of you–yeah, I am speaking to you.

We’ve spent a year+ hating the restrictions covid19 has put on our lives.

  • Not giving family hugs
  • Not having funerals for family members
  • Not celebraing milestones together
  • Not knowing if kids can go to school in-person (yes we homeschool but we know many impacted with this)
  • Not having the girls’ theater group meeting
  • Not being able to go to church
  • Having my kids isolated from friends and angry with friends who refuse to mask
  • Having to overthink every decision and still not know if it is right
  • Feeling left out when others start meeting in-person and stop having things virtually
  • Having to justify following the rules on masks and social distancing

I hate it.

I hate it all.

But we can’t wish it away.

We must step up and do our part. We must find our chance to be vaccinated and take it. My fear now is that people will quit. That politics will persist in people deciding not to get vaccinated. That as laypeople, we will decide we know more than doctors and scientists. This worries me,

I can’t change a lot of minds, or maybe any, but I can make sure people have information. If you follow me on Facebook you see me sharing vaccine information for Michigan. If you are in Michigan, look up @kenhaddad on Twitter for daily updates on where to find vaccination opportunities.

Today, Governor Whitmer announced the plan to get this state reopened. It comes down to vaccination levels. Do your part.

Look here for details about vaccinations and opening up again:

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan/2021/04/29/here-are-the-michigan-covid-restrictions-that-will-be-lifted-when-we-reach-4-vaccine-goals/?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=cod

We have spent a year plus feeling helpless as people died and people got sick by the thousands. Now, we can finally do something. And it is not hard. It is free and it is available. Yes, there is typically a mild reaction as your immune system gets to work protecting you but it lasts hours to just a couple of days at most. Conversely, it has been at least 413 days since Covid laid siege to our state and our country.

Choose which one you want to live with or keep living with.

This was actually my hubby’s sticker but I can’t find my picture anywhere. He says he gave me the sticker, but it was more like, “here, do something with these papers” and his sticker was in there…

You are Canceled!

I remember back in 9th-grade Economics class learning my dollar was my vote. I spent it as I desired. If I did not like a product or agree with the choices the manufacturer made then I could choose not to give them my money thus taking away my vote.

This is the basis of a boycott.

If I remember correctly, it was also about this same time in my life that the Christian groups, which came to be known as the Chrstian right or the moral majority, started promoting boycotts against many companies. One I remember is Proctor and Gamble for having a logo that they deemed was Satanic.

I joined that one for a while. I know–as my daughter would say–cringy. And then explain to me how awful that word is but sometimes it is the only one that works.

Years have passed since my first lesson by Mr. Anderson about what a boycott is. I have since given them up but they sure haven’t disappeared. Now, it seems, every group across the spectrum uses them. Both sides of our government is constantly accusing the other side of canceling someone. To be honest, it is happening on both sides. And that Christian right? Oh man they complain about being canceled now. All the time!!!

It has reached epic, ridiculous proportions. But if you ask me, the canceling that matters is when someone is no longer listens to you. It’s scary and it is frustrating.

There is a way around it.

Listen first, care first.

I do not agree with anyone I know on everything. There is something that is different between me and any other person in my life. This also means I can be blocked out about at least one thing with everyone I know.

A big one is how to get to heaven. I am a Christian. I believe there is only one way to heaven. You must believe in God. Believe that Jesus is both man and God and that he died on a cross but rose again to save us from hell and make a way for us to go to heaven and we must ask him to forgive our sins in order to go to heaven.

So here’s the thing. Most people do not agree with me. And the passion I have about this belief can be a real turn off.

But…

I believe that. I know it to be true.

But…

I love the people in my life. And I do my best to make sure they know that.

They might agree with me. They might not.

That is not what decides if we can have a relationship.

We can have a relationship not because we agree but because we invest in each other. You get canceled when you treat people like objects or projects. No one wants to be told what to think or believe and they definitely don’t want to hear it if we aren’t hearing them.

Cancel culture is about so much more than children’s books or laundry soap. It is about people. It is about how we treat each other. It is about respecting each other. It is about the love we have and show each other.

Next time you don’t feel heard ask yourself if you have loved and cared about the people in your life. Have you earned the right to be heard?

What Is Bravery

Have you ever learned a second or third language or more? Have you ever thought about it? What were your reasons? What was your motivation?

I love language. I always have–whether it is English grammar (my daughters are not nearly as thrilled with that passion right now), learning American Sign Language in my teens, or my current endeavor of learning Arabic.

Learning ASL and working on Arabic now are valuable to me and bring me joy, but I don’t have to…I speak the language of the country I am in, the country of my birth. I could blithely go along never learning a word of any other language. I have that option. It’s not a good option, but it is a valid one–for me.

That is not always the case.

Life often moves people around, forcing them to add a second or third language to their vocabulary. And that task is rarely easy.

Imagine you have to move to another country. With just a suitcase of belongings and facing the fact you will likely never return to the place you are leaving. Imagine also this country you are going to does not speak your mother tongue. Take that further and imagine the new country will not give you any time to learn the new country, you must get a full-time job immediately, regardless of the language barrier.

This, my friends, is the experience of refugees, some immigrants, and asylum seekers in America. Other countries provide financial support for these immigrant people groups and families, for years if necessary, so they can spend some time learning the local language but America, in true pull yourself up by your boot straps fashion, offers no support or time for language learning beyond giving a list of local English classes that are hopefully near their home or apartment.

I can tell you language is hard to learn. And that isn’t helped by age. I watch kids pick up English within months when young, like 5; ASL was quite easy to learn at 15 but now, oh my word, now Arabic is just not penetrating my brain.

Now imagine doing that while supporting a family, adjusting to a new culture, and mourning the loss of what you have left behind.

As well as learning a language faster, young kids may find themselves shedding more and more of their accent while for older kids and adults, the accent may lighten but many sounds will continue to be different than a native speaker. It is normal, natural, and to be expected. But sometimes people forget that and just cop an attitude because it takes more effort to understand some of the words.

People do not typically struggle with language or an accent because they are lazy or stupid–they struggle because it is hard, the process of learning and using a new language is demoralizing. I am a college educated woman, Arabic is my third langauge and yet, at best I sound like a 2 year old after three years of studying with native speakers.

Please take just a moment to consider this next time you are talking to someone who counts English as their second (or more!!) language. A little patience will go a long way to making communication easier and enjoyable. Trust me, the effort is worth it.

“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.” – Amy Chua ♥️♥️♥️

The Year of the Ox

I just went running into my daughters’ room to tell them the one phrase I know in Chinese–Happy New Year. You see, years ago I was engaged to a guy who’s maternal grandparents were originally from China. The relationship with him was a total bust (whew) but I adored his grandmother and I learned how to say Happy New Year.

Man, his family was good to me–but I digress.

Fast forward many years to 2012. Caitlyn and Sue were enrolled at the local elementary school. The school had asked families to unplug for the week. I failed miserably, but the school also sent home some activity ideas. It was this time of year and it was Chinese New Year so I made my first attempt at making Chinese food. I don’t remember the food at all but a tradition was born.

Every year we do our best to make Chinese food for the Lunar New Year.

Caitlyn chose her recipes, I bought the ingredients. She cooked for hours to make us spring rolls, dumplings, and wonton soup. I made beef broccoli (pretty sure that is not authentic but we like it…). Patrice was her assistant in this process. She used carrots and purple cabbage to make the dumplings orange and purple. Making fortune cookies failed us, per usual, but it was fun. Caitlyn wrote little fortunes. Mine was, “You will give Caitlyn money soon”, daddy got, “don’t tell anyone, but I poisoned your food” and Patrice got, “Did you thank Caitlyn for this wonderful food?” Sue also gets to give Caitlyn money…since the cookies failed, I taped everyone’s fortune to a piece of candy.

It was really good and as Caitlyn said, “well, it kept me off my phone all afternoon.” Maybe the school did accomplish something all those years ago… 😉

Inside My Head

If you have been around here for awhile…you know it can get messy in my brain…I am constantly trying to understand, explain, put my finger on what is going on in there.

If I could express my bipolar in one word I would say rage. The depression shows up as rage. The hypomania shows up as rage.

A few weeks ago I found myself in that place again. I was upset about something (a home repair) and just started SCREAMING at my husband. Thankfully, he is a saint about this and just kept saying, “Charity, where is this coming from? What is this about?” I kept saying it was about the house issue but it wasn’t and I couldn’t stop.

I finally climbed out of the rage with a sore throat and shame as my reward and we fixed the house issue.

But why was I there again? Why was the rage there again? Why?

This week I think I finally figured out why. I don’t know how to fix it, but I might know why.

In that place, I feel something wrong with me. As I rage I know there is something wrong with me. It would make sense to stop, but in that place, I know something is wrong, something is broken and I think if I just keep raging, that thing will get fixed or go away. If I can just rage long enough.

But I never can. I never ever can.

*the rage is often a sign I need a medication adjustment so I called the doc and we made that adjustment. It has helped. It really has.

**sometimes my hubby just stays quiet and that is quite wise, but sometimes he needs to speak up–this was one of those times.

What is allowed is not always wise

I totaled this post way back. I honestly don’t even know when but I am going to guess at some point during 2020 and while the world has been in crisis mode thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. And, unfortunately, the title still fits. As my daughter pointed out last night, she was 13 when this started and now she is just 7 months from being 15.

And my heart is broken at this fact. But I am excrutiatingly proud of my girls. As mentioned, Caitlyn has turned 14 during this, Sue has turned 13, and Patrice 10.

Caitlyn has thrown herself into crafts, Sue in all sorts of art, and Patrice has had playdates via zoom and continues to be her happy self.

I have fought against the politics that are burning America down around us and hubby continues to be his faithful self, working day in and day out, restoring his boat, and the like.

And it is okay but it is frustrating. We are very conservative in what we do and who we see. The girls and I see one other family and Bob sees one man he is helping learn English. We don’t attend church, Bible study or prayer meetings in person. It is virtual or we are out.

And we feel alone in this. Our kids are the only ones in their Bible studies not attending in person. Sue is so passionate about trying to explain covid and the risks to her friends, I am afraid she is going to lose friends over it. I again spent time last night reminding her not to ruin relationships.

But I understand her anger.

I understand it to my very core.

I understand having to explain myself over and over for doing what our doctors and others have said is very necessary. I understand feeling like I am screaming into the wind.

And I HATE IT!!!!

Because you know what? I want to go to church. I want to study with other people. I want to pray with others.

But what is allowed is not always wise.