Maddy and Rosemary and I have safely made it to the Spring Break Haven… a sketchy motel that looks like someone died in the bathtub. No, really. There’s a STAIN in the bathtub.
So now Maddy and I are looking for header photos (since we haven’t gotten to the beach YET!) and have found one to put on here until I can get my own shots (no, not tequila) tomorrow.
And… we are looking at Matt’s facebook photos (the boyfriend). He is at Hooter’s having a
helluva good time. We think. And so are we… in the sketchy motel room with the ghost of the person that was murdered in the bathroom. No, really. There is a GHOST in here. We’re pretty sure.
Anyway, Maddy and I have been commenting on Matt’s facebook photos. Um, uh, I do not believe I shall comment on Matt’s facebook photos on this blog.
Maddy comes running out of the bathroom, screaming, “There’s a freaking ghost in the shower with me.”
The saga continues tomorrow…
Spring is here. Sunday to be exact. No more ice! (Surely not!)
It’s time! Time to start the giveaway! This week I will be calling upon Rosemary and Maddy to help me find just the right “stuff” to put in the giveaway box.
The how-to-enter directions will be coming shortly.
Get excited!!!!! Cool stuff!! Free stuff!!
Do you have an appetite for fun?
(This is my last post on the events of 2001. It has been a cathartic experience, perhaps necessary. One I hope has enlightened you as well as enveloped you with memories of James.)
Jarred had the most loving heart of any child I’ve ever known. Many times when I went to pick him up from grade school, he would be standing in front of a child bigger than he was, protecting that child from an apparent bully. I’ve seen him run across the street to help little women with groceries or pick up something they dropped. Even small children, toddlers, who weren’t friendly with people loved Jarred, would climb all over him; even as he began exhibiting signs in his teenage years of odd behavior. Could they still detect his sweet heart in there?
But, also, as a child, Jarred was always “different.” He would have staring episodes as if in a trance. Petit mal seizures? He would grab his ears and complain of the loud water. At first I thought there was some slight autism although I really didn’t know much about that particular devastating illness at the time; however, he was doing okay in school, maybe he would just grow out of whatever childhood oddity he had.
I didn’t realize, when I would find the little guy sitting at night in the dark all alone in our living room, that he was living with monsters. I’ve since learned that’s what people with schizophrenia do. They stay up to protect their families; some sit at the kitchen table all night, vigilant.
I’ve since learned that what a child with a mental illness can hold together in grade school falls apart when that child begins changing classes. No longer is there the same desk to hold on to, the same room with the same students to bring some sort of stability to the chaotic mind. And it did fall apart. The childhood oddities gave way to serious problems with drugs and activities that were just inexplicable. There’s just too much to tell.
“You can’t tell me you don’t see those! They’re right by the window.” Jarred would hide practically in the floorboard, afraid to look but afraid not to lest a hell bird made it’s way into the car. I don’t know what they looked like; he tried to describe them, not believing us when we said they weren’t there.
“There’s a zombie standing right behind me. I can see it in the
mirror.” This was when he was at one of the half-way houses.
He ran into my room and jumped in my bed, scared to death, and as he lay in a fetal position, he said, “I’ve been so scared I couldn’t breathe.”
All he wanted, at 18, when he first really realized something was wrong, was to get well. “What’s wrong with me?”
And then, as time passed, he would cry and say, “I just want to die. Why doesn’t God just let me die?”
The big question I have asked God as well. “Why?”
Part of His answer is in Job 38 – 42.
The earthquake in Japan has burdened my heart and filled me with sorrow. Watching the tsunami waters carry off entire towns is sickening… but I can’t quit watching. I feel I owe them the courtesy and honor of watching their plight, as one goes to the funeral home to honor the loved one of a friend. The constant worry and threat of possible explosions in the nuclear plant worries me for them. I will decide in the near future how I will help them. Monetarily, I’m sure, however small my portion may be.
But what does all this have to do with my writing about James this week? It has to do with empathy. I understand the feeling of being powerless to stop a raging, devastating destroyer. How brave those people were who took videos as the water surged at their feet, tearing their homes and businesses apart, their very life being destroyed as they stood watching.
That’s the way it was to watch schizophrenia take my son. Powerless. Even as I took him from doctor to doctor, from hospital to hospital, he slipped under the murky, dark water of this devastating illness.
James and Jarred. Those two names will forever be etched deep in my heart where sorrow lives. Two good-hearted men whose lives were stolen by the devastating destroyer schizophrenia.
An acquaintance said when their daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia that they told the doctor they thought she was on drugs. The doctor sadly said, “I only wish she were.” Although using drugs is something one with a mental illness does to try to self-medicate, it is not the cause of schizophrenia.
And my James understood this better than I ever could. When I was at my wit’s end trying to understand the behaviors of my son, James would explain it to me. “He can’t tell what’s real and what’s not real.” Schizophrenia doesn’t take away one’s intelligence; it alters his/her perception of the world.
Jarred’s world was altered from a safe, loving environment to one filled with monsters and hell birds and zombies; a life filled with fear. A life stolen and destroyed.
James worked three jobs: driving a truck, driving a bus for the school, and being the youth leader at church. He also began college again, having quit in his younger days, standing up in class and speaking out for his beliefs. He wasn’t afraid to tackle a difficult situation, conversation, or project… or relationship. James was a busy man. But his No. 1 job was to take care of me. And anyone that knows me knows that is a full-time job. He would get my Bible and my treats for my Sunday School children all ready (he was always on time and had it together) and stand in the bathroom doorway, leaning his shoulder against the doorjamb, watching me finish with make-up. I would say, “I’m hurrying,” and he would reply, “Just take your time; I like watching you.” He was the husband the Bible talks about when it tries to teach us how to interact as husband and wife. If he told me once, he told me a thousand times, “I was born to take care of you.”
He did take care of me. He was a neat, orderly person; everything had a place and it should be kept there. I am a slob and drove him nuts, so he taught me and encouraged me and showed me how to be orderly and how good it feels to be orderly. He took care of the yard, the pool, the vehicles, cooked, washed clothes, cleaned. Anything I could do, quite literally, he could do just as well or better.
He didn’t need me. He loved me.
And he loved my children. Even though they were older, he still felt a responsibility toward them and had concern about their lives. My youngest son was no exception, my youngest son who had finally been diagnosed with schizophrenia, my youngest son whose behavior became more and more absurd, my youngest son who would eventually take the life of the man who understood him the most.
James had done research about schizophrenia for his college classes and would call and talk to the doctors concerning my son’s illness, the medications, the subsequent hospitalizations, doing what he could to get the help needed, the help that never came, the help that could have saved his life.
Yes, I am still angry.
(This week the header picture will be one James took; he loved shooting animals and landscapes.)
Jimmie Joe, JJ, (James to me because that’s what he liked to be called) had the most infectious smile that lit up his whole face and the space around him. He was such a stinker until the day God grabbed his heart and changed him forever.
I have always loved God, loved my relationship with Jesus the Christ, and loved the fact that the Spirit can move me with the His quiet presence. Some of my favorite radio stations are the ones that play contemporary Christian music: 104.5 around these parts is one. I had been telling James he should listen to it because it played great music, had great stuff on there.
One day, he came home and said he had been listening to that station all day, and I don’t think he ever turned the radio dial away from it after that, calling in and winning contests; books, CD’s. Nor did he turn back from the path he had embarked on with God as his guide. He began to lead the youth in our church, play his trombone in worship, and love the things of God.
His love for the youth of our church, as well as the whole county, was obvious to anybody that was around him. He had a deep conviction to show these youth there was a better, greater, more exciting way than drugs or alcohol. He was filled with the joy of the Lord and wanted them to experience that too. He worked diligently to teach them, to make things interesting, to give them opportunities that showed them who Jesus really is.
He took them to the Agape music festival at Greenville College, had lock-ins, had cook-outs at our home, and just generally was there, present, in case they needed him. Those kids still, ten years later, have him in their hearts.
He loved music and encouraged those of us who could play a musical instrument in church to get together and practice to play during worship. And we did: keyboard, drums, trombone, clarinet, guitars, whatever we could play. He also worked at getting the sound system just right, good for recording the music and the church services. My sister and I have always sang together and wanted to make our mother a recording of songs for her birthday. James went with us to the church to record the music. At one point in the evening I noticed him leaning back in the chair with his eyes closed. Thinking he was getting bored and tired of listening and relistening to us, I told him we would hurry. He sat up, tears on his face, and said, “No, I’m enjoying this.”
Joe, his grandfather, would come to the house, and we would all three watch the Gaithers on television. I mean, I love the Gaithers, but contemporary Christian was more our style, and yet James would sit there and loved watching this. His grandpa loved it, too.
He would call me outside of an evening to look at a particularly beautiful sunset and say, “I stand amazed in the Presence.” And although that beautiful senset was, of course, amazing, it was not nearly as amazing as the transformation that took place in James’ life.
An amazing man of God.
March 12 , 2001, was the day schizophrenia finally won the battle within the mind of my son, and the day my husband died as a result of that lost battle.
I purposefully waited until after that date to write this tribute to my late husband because that is also the day his sister tries to celebrate her birthday. A hard thing to do, I’m sure, as she has lost her entire family unit (grandpa, grandma, great-aunt, great-uncle, mother, father, and brother) with whom she spent her childhood years until she moved away to college and then marriage. Thankfully, God has given her a great second family although this year she has also lost a member of that as well: a wonderful, loving, caring father-in-law.
It has been ten years since my husband died. It seems like yesterday. I will write about him this week because he deserves to have things written about him, and I know others miss him as much as I do and are taking note, as I do, of the passing years without him.
James Joseph “Jimmie Joe” was younger than I was; someone I wouldn’t in a million and one years have ever dreamed I would one day marry. I suppose God had a different plan, or maybe He just took the circumstances James and I started and created something good, as only God can do.
James lived down the street from me. He was between girlfriends, I suppose, and I was going through a divorce. He would call and talk for a brief moment or stop and talk if he saw me out, and one day even knocked on my door. And tell you the truth, I’m still not sure how I finally said I would go out with him. But those first encounters eventually led to an actual date a few months later… and a marriage a couple of years later. It was a scandalous affair! We were the talk of our little town, and didn’t give a rip. The only thing I cared about and he cared about were our families and how they would handle it, what they would think. And I have to say, they were great sports even though I’m sure it was difficult to understand. After all, James and I were polar opposites.
Being polar opposites wasn’t enough to stand in the way of fate. At least that’s what James always said, “You may as well accept it; it’s fate.” There were lots of things he said, good things from a good man.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about that good man some more.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAULA!!!
A Big Shout Out to my sister-in-law today on her birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAM!!!
A Big Shout Out to my greatnephew today on his birthday.
Two wonderful people with birthdays that will always mean something special to my life. I love you guys!
My two nephews are having birthdays March 11 and March 12. This pic was taken last summer at Kate’s birthday party. They are gifts to me, given to me by God, right when I needed them: Jack first, and Sam next. And they continue to bring me joy and fill my heart with overflowing love. My thoughts on their births and subsequent celebrations gave rise to thoughts on birthday wisdom I have acquired over the years.
Don’t worry about getting older. It’s just a number. Huff and puff until you blow all your candles out. Don’t forget to make a wish. Call in reserves if necessary.
It’s your day to celebrate! So do it however you want to.
Don’t be afraid to do the things that are exciting. Hang in there until you muster up the courage to finally pull the string and pop the confetti.
Get on your par-tay clothes and paint the town pink with friends!
Get out the paint and the spray and the polish and doody up! Put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away.
Let that special somebody make a fuss over you. There’s nothing like celebrating with someone you love. Or celebrating with someones you love. Just celebrate!
Tell everyone what you want to do, where you want to go, and what you want for a gift. Let them know in no uncertain terms.
And after it’s all over, enjoy a nice, long nap.