Getting Back in the Saddle…

This year has kicked my butt!  I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly kicked it:  the birthday, the son, the falling.  Who knows?

getting ready to ride

The important thing is that I am finally, after half the year has come and gone, oiling the saddle and readying it for another ride.  Life may have kicked me off once again, but now it’s time to put on my stirrups and do a little kicking in life’s sides to get it back into at least  a trot.

hmmmmmm

So I am thinking about my little blog and what to write about until I start cooking.  (Stop laughing!)  I have a few topics in mind.  And would really like to get some feedback on them.

1)  My experience as well as the experiences of others with angels and other supernatural God moments

2)  My son’s struggles with and final diagnosis of schizophrenia

3) Digging out old pics and posting them with stories

4)  courtroom stories  (names changed to protect the innocent… or not so innocent)

5)  my personal favorite… Kate and Ava

6)  Just whatever strikes my fancy – including good recipes

Which by the way I have.  A good recipe.  It came from my friend Lisa’s Pampered Chef newsletter.  It is called Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle.   And is soooo good!  I made it for 4th of July.

Try it!

The Devastating Destroyer

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.

“I Was Born to Take Care of You”

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.”

Beauty and the Beast

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.

James and Brenda

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.

studying

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.

A LOVE STORY

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.

What a beautiful smile!

He loved that hat!

Can you see why anyone could not resist that smile?

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.

♪♪♪ Movin’ On Up… To The Bright Side ♪♪♪

There used to be a sitcom on television called The Jeffersons. 

The Jeffersons

 Their theme song went “movin’ on up, to the East side” because they were coming up in the world to a better financial position.  I love to take little diddies and put a word or two of my own in there to make it mine.  This is one of them.

My movin’ up has nothing to do with being well off monetarily and everything to do with being well off mentally.  It’s been a struggle to move up now for about half my life:  a long, long time.  First was a bad marriage and divorce to overcome while coping with a child not yet diagnosed with schizophrenia, being bewildered at every turn with every psychiatrist from the one who specialized in children to the one that worked for the local health department, and all the others in between; the death of another child’s best friend and the subsequent battle with drug addiction; depression and anxiety problems; the death of my second husband and years of mourning what could have been, what could have been done differently.  Pain… and more pain. 

The only reason I mention those things at all is to tell you about my good, dear friends without whom I could not and cannot live.  They are the reason I am movin’ on up.  They are the rocks that anchor my distraught psyche, the rocks upon which God has set me, the pavilion wherein He has hidden me.  I so totally love them all. 

praying friend

They have prayed my son alive because I am as certain as I sit here that he would have died without their shawl of prayer wrapped around him. 

hugging

 They have wrapped us in their arms as well with hugs that left us giddy with delight and comfort. (You  know who you are, Howard.)  They have come to me in the night, flashlight in hand, when I feared I had run over my little cat, Bo, to look for him, all three kids:  Joseph, Tyler, Emily, and Mom Cheryl.

Dolores (a/k/a Grandma to Kate) gets out in the cold to fetch me a gallon of milk so I don’t have to get the grandgirls out; brings me blog-warming gifts (picture coming soon); and teaches me to be kind and loving and accepting of all people.  Terah, who loves me with agape love that fills my soul with lightness, who makes a way to bring me back from the precipice of darkness, who finds my Eagle’s Nest that I might hide under the shadow of His wing (Psalm 17:8).  Jeri Lyn, who takes my burdens into herself to ease my morbid obsessions, that I might not worry about the evil that could befall my little ones.  Joy, who stood vigil at my husband’s side as he lay dying.  Alberta, who always has my back, always worries about me, always seeing about me.  These are only a few; God gave me many.

The study group who saw me through that first year of extreme sadness; the group God brought together just for me.  Ah, how He loves me.  This group who are now my sisters, these women whom I will forever have a bond.  How I love them. 

my sisters

Yes, I am movin’ on up, to the bright side.  And I say Thank You, Lord.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.  Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.  For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.  And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord …  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”  Psalm 27