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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Soul Searching

I think I'm a very secure person in my relationship with my husband. He treats me well and I've never had cause for thinking he is not loyal to me. 
So my deep feelings around his removal of his Wedding bands for gigs has kinda shocked me. (Mark wears one on each hand. His right hand is his original, plain gold band from our Wedding. On his left hand is a ring I designed for him with a diamond from a friend. I gave it to him on our five year Wedding Anniversary. On our 25th Wedding Anniversary that ring was finally Blessed at our renewal of vows ceremony.)
Last night was not the first time he has removed his bands for a gig, saying it messes up his bongo/percussion playing. It also wasn't the first time I've wondered why it bothered me so. After all, I KNOW our marriage is strong and not based on wearing of rings or not. 
So when Mark questioned me and I had no logical response, I thought, I'm going to pray on this. Before I fell asleep last night I asked for understanding, for the "why" his taking off his Wedding bands bothered me deep within my core. When I woke this morning I had an answer. The answer rocked me, but made sense. I've had strong reactions like this before, in totally different situations, but again, the reason was the same. 
I was a young girl who adored her Father, some of the good memories are very clear; ice fishing, walks in parks, picnics, Honeoye Lake at my Grandparents place, Menlo Place and my Grandparents... Lots of memories flood my mind when I think of my Dad, but sadly one thing has challenged me the most, his affair on my Mom. 
I don't know the truth of that time, heck, I was just a kid and hardly know what their relationship was, the good or the bad.
I do know I was exposed to much a child probably should never have heard or seen. One of my most vivid memories has always caused me pause.
I was on a date with my Dad, just him and I going to a park for a picnic, or so I thought. We would "run into" a friend of his, a woman much younger than my Dad. She would be very sweet and as a young girl, I would enjoy the kindness and attention she showered on me. It wouldn't be until I told my Mom about the nice lady Dad and I saw at the playground that I would kinda catch on. 
I'm not sure if this will make sense to anyone, but in watching the demise of my parents relationship, I had a lot of guilt. As a little girl I thought somehow I had caused it, by telling my Mom about Dad's friend. One day far after the picnic my Dad married that "nice lady" from the park. 
I forever would juggle enjoying her company and not hurting my Mom's feelings, by pretending to not like her. It was very complicated... 
So back to my story, I believe my Dad's taking off of his Wedding ring to my Mom was a very traumatic event in my life. I think it was a deep, unresolved time when I realized my parents were breaking up. My Father's naked hand was the start of it all, at least to a little girl who didn't understand the complications of a marriage. 
Mark will tell you, I get very needy every time someone around us breaks up. I will ask him more than my usual for reassurance that we are ok and then eventually, with time and his patience, I go back to "my normal."
I have done much soul searching and I have gotten much counseling over these feelings. My Father died without Mark even meeting him. We had been married a few years when my Dad passed, but he had been struggling many years with mental illness and alcoholism, so for my own sake, I had stepped away. His death was hard on me though. I had much guilt that I should have helped him. I had to face those demons that had caused me to walk away from my Dad. I had to feel the pain that I wasn't going to ever get that "second chance" that I had counted on and I had to move forward. I worked hard at this, but obviously, I am not completely "cured" from this huge loss in my life or from the betrayal I witnessed.
Mark taking off his Wedding rings is not a big deal, but apparently it brings up a deep and sad memory for me, making it a big deal to me.

So for that, Mark, bear with me, I'm still trying to get used to the fact that you love me unconditionally, rings or not! XOXOXO

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Lost Christmas Letters, 2012 - 2015




It's been since 2011 that we have done a year in review letter. So I decided to try and highlight some of the goings on since then.

Mark's Mom moved in with us the Fall of 2010 and in December of 2012, she continued to live with us. We were in a good routine by that year, coexisting at Bromley Road as a family of five, plus Nana. December 2012 was rough though, with a few different emergency room visits and situations that took much of my time, causing me to let go of our annual Christmas letter. Sadly Mom's needs were ever increasing and a sharp decline was ahead of us. By late Spring of 2013 it became apparent, I could no longer keep up with her care and the needs of our own family. So by Summer of 2013, Mom would move in with Sue and Jim. (Mark's sister and brother in law) There were many pluses having Mom with us and I will never regret those years. We gained a lot of respect for each other and a deeper love. My children learned much from that time with Nana, about compassion for the elderly and sticking by those we love. She, in turn learned a lot about Mark and I, our special family and how our love has been deepened by life with Teale. Before she lived with us, her understanding of our everyday living seemed a mystery. I believe she discovered that we have much more love and joy in our life than she had thought. I know she often saw Teale as a burden before moving in with us. I believe it was part of God's plan to have Mom really get to know our kids, but especially to have her understand the deep love and connection between all of us because of Teale.
On December 13, 2013, Eleanor Frances Valle Bradley passed from pneumonia complications. The increasing dementia from Parkinson's Mom had was heartbreaking in the end. It had become almost impossible for her to talk, much less carry on a conversation. Luckily music moved her soul and that never changed. The last days with Mom were spent with family, jamming in the hospital room. All of us crammed around her bed, the sax, a guitar, a trumpet & voices. It was a very Bradley tribute and I've said to Mark, I only hope I go the same, with his sweet voice singing to me. There are many fond memories from the years with Mom in our care, but because of dementia taking much of her, Mark & I were at peace when she passed. The image of her back together with the love of her life, Bill Bradley, brings us all much comfort. We held her memorial service on December 21, 2013 and again, our annual Christmas letter took a back seat, but the service was perfect and filled with love, music and memories.

Beau graduated from Pittsford Mendon High School in June of 2013 and was accepted into St John Fisher College Nursing Program. His moving out that Fall was tough on all our hearts, but especially on Teale, who missed him very much. Luckily SJFC is only about ten minutes from our home, so we saw him fairly often. By August of 2014, Beau decided moving back onto the campus was not for him and he has lived home ever since. He is doing remarkably well in college, nursing seems to be a true calling for him. I believe his life experiences have truly made him more knowledgeable and more compassionate. After all, he not only has lived through the many challenges and medical issues of Teale, but also the time with Mark's Mom in our home. Beau continues to play sax. In the last couple of years he has played in a club at college, pit bands and sat in with some of Mark's bands. Beau still enjoys sports and staying active, so he has played recreational sports since graduation from HS. He continued to work at Tom Wahls and doing varies lawn work through the Summer of 2015. He has been dating Hope, who he met at Tom Wahls, since about January of last year. Beau is still a very caring big brother and we have appreciated his help with Teale especially over the past few years.

Teale, well there is always too much to say about her. If you follow my blog and/or my Facebook page, you are most likely fairly up to date. The years with Mom here were very meaningful for Teale. She and Nana spent a lot of time together; looking at family pictures, watching movies, walking around the neighborhood with Mark, singing, swimming or just being outside. Our meals together were very lively & after dinner we often played games together. Mom and Teale spent a great deal of time looking at American Girl Doll catalogues. They were truly like best friends at times and I appreciated the company for Teale and visa versa, for Mom. We've had many highs with Teale over the last few years, she's matured much and most of the time her mood disorder is in pretty good control. I still hate the mental illnesses that plague her, but for the most part, she is about as mentally stable as we ever hoped her to be. We did hit a real medical crisis this last year when we discovered Teale's kidneys were failing because of Lithium. Taking her off the only BiPolar medicine she has ever been on (Started it at 6 years old.) was terrifying, but she has done really well. The medicine we replaced Lithium with has been good, with the exception of increased appetite. It is tough to control Teale's diet, as she is quite insistent and independent at home. I'm sure before Teale, I thought I could manage this better and maybe I will figure it out someday, but most days we just work hard to just keep her mentally stable. She was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease and high blood pressure because of the kidney issues. We are hopeful we caught things early enough and she will stay stable now. The high blood pressure medicines seem to be helping her in more ways than "just" lowering her high blood pressure. Holy Childhood continues to be a Godsend and Teale LOVES going to school. She is working at The Sisters of Saint Joseph Motherhouse along with a job coach and other peers from Holy Childhood. Teale has many activities she is involved in after school and her social opportunities have greatly increased with her going to Holy Childhood. There are many "clubs" she loves being part of @ HC; basketball, cheer leading, Teen Social, Kidz Klub and Out and About. She attends "Respite Friends" after school & "Teen Night" once a month on Friday's @ Pieters Family Life Center, a Heritage Christian recreation center.  In addition to those activities she continues to go to Sunshine Camp & Pieters Day Camp every Summer, along with Summer School. Teale's life is filled with social opportunities since starting at Holy Childhood. She is very well liked and thought of as a young lady who follows rules, can be trusted and is respected by many. Our gratitude for Holy Childhood is immeasurable!!!

Side note: The Christmas letter of 2014 was lost to a very intense December with Teale's mania taking over much of our lives. Her bipolar often has predictable peaks and valleys. Fall and Spring are very typical manic times for Teale & the holidays just exasperate her Bipolar. So last year we let the Christmas letter go again, but this year I was determined to write it!

Gwenn has moved from our last child in elementary school to Barker Road Middle School since we last wrote. She has been taller than me since 4th or 5th grade and is now taller than her big sister. Gwenn is not interested in sports, so our schedule is nothing like it was when Beau was her age. She is a homebody for the most part and her interests are very similar to mine. Gwenn loves trying new recipes, although, Mark and I would both say her "failure rate" of recipes is well over 50%. I'm not saying she fails at following recipes, I'm just saying, more often than not, she does not like the things she tries to make. Gwenn also enjoys my flower gardens, although she rarely helps to maintain them, she loves to see the beautiful flowers and photograph them. Gwenn loves the family cats and is always vying for another one! We have three and for Mark & I, this is plenty! Gwenn plays sax also, but her drive is not there. She certainly has the musical talent, but at this point, she does not want to share her talents. With a voice that is developed well past her age, it breaks both Mark and my heart she will not share her gift. My hope is that someday she will... One of Gwenn's other gifts is photography, she has a great eye and has taken some very insightful pictures. Gwenn is also really good with little kids and enjoys them as much as Mark and I do. Her second cousin, Amariah (Jessica's daughter) and Gwenn have a very special bond. The last two Summers Gwenn has volunteered at Peacemakers, a program that brings city children and suburban children together at our church, but is not religious based. Amariah went to the program, which helped both she and Gwenn do something out of their comfort zones. Gwenn hasn't found her drive/calling in school, but she has many talents that are not academic. I see her as being very much like me in many ways, with the exceptions of not being as comfortable socially and being far more musically talented than I! Middle school years are tough, but I think she is finding her way.

My life has taken many twists and turns over the last few years. As caretaker for our family, I remain incredibly busy, especially with medical needs and appointments. Taking on my MIL made life even more challenging, but it was a very fulfilling job in many ways. Knowing Mom was safe and cared for helped me let go of a lot of the stress I felt when she was living at Red Fox Run. Mark, was of course, incredibly grateful to me for taking care of his Mom. So his support, encouragement and love often kept me going. Mom and I bonded and I know much pain of past hurts disappeared. I had never felt like she had truly embraced me up until the years she lived with us. Mark and I have a great partnership, especially in stressful times we seem to pull strength from one another. We became even closer in the years with Mom. After her moving out, I started working outside the home part time. Since June of 2013 I've done a variety of different things, from senior care, being an aid to 2 UPK boys diagnosed with special needs, subbing in Brighton Schools, subbing in a UPK/childcare and even doing gardening work outside my own home. I continue to volunteer for Dream Factory, Holy Childhood and I added the city school my grandniece is in this Fall. I still struggle with taking care of me and need to figure out how to do this better, so I can continue to care for my family well. The truth is, it's a long haul with Teale, we know she needs us for many years to come, so Mark & I need to work out the right balance as we live life as parents, partners and caregivers. For the most part, I believe we do this well, but as we age, I see health issues creep into our & the lives of those around us. This makes me realize the power of stress on health. Learning to find ways to release that stress through exercise, prayer, meditation, etc, is a goal of mine. Blogging is also a release for me, so finding the time to blog more is another a goal.

Mark, what can I say??? He is the BEST! He continues to love and care for each of us with strength, courage and humor. We are all so very Blessed to have him as our husband, Father and friend. Last February we took a leap of Faith and he left The Childcare Council for a job with NYS. His managerial position at CCC was better pay, but there was not as much hope for the future as there is in the state job. So, two steps back to take three steps forward, eventually. I believe it was the right move and Mark has been seen as a very valuable part of the team in his new position. There are a few more opportunities for personal growth at the state level, so in the end, I am sure he will be even more successful. His playing the sax out has increased a great deal in the last few years. Connections to the Rochester music scene are tight and Mark continues to gain respect by many. The biggest news besides the job change, is that Mark now owns his DREAM, a Selmer Mark VI sax. Thanks to his big brother Scott, who had the vision to start a fundraiser for Mark & the hundreds of friends and family who chipped in their hard earned dollars. Scott was able to raise over $6000 for Mark to buy his dream sax. If only I could put into words what this gift has meant to us. Mark has compared it to the movie It's a Wonderful Life, I have compared it to being at your own funeral. Morbid, but much truth, we as a couple really learned how loved and respected Mark is. As his brother, Scott said, at Mark's 50th un-Birthday party this last Summer, Mark is the richest man in town! Not only was it an unbelievable amount of money to be raised, but most of it was raised in less than 48 hours! I have said to Mark, it is really not about the money, it is about the number of people that believe in him. Thank you to Scott for having the idea and for all the many contributions! Last weekend Mark drove to the Albany area and bought his dream sax! We are all basking in the love and God's presence that made that purchase possible!

In August of 2014, Mark and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We had a renewal of vows ceremony at Mt Rise UCC, the church we have attended since shortly after our marriage in 1989. We then held a party at our home for family and friends. The event and the day was all I had hoped for. Mark and I are a very Blessed couple and the renewal of vows just affirmed our deep love and commitment to each other, our marriage and to God.

May I never have to do a catch up letter again! Merry Christmas and may your 2016 be as Blessed as we have been by you!
With love,
Ellie, Mark, Beau, Teale & Gwenn 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Two Years Ago & the Dream is Coming True


Mark wrote this two years ago for his Mom's memorial service. I have thought much about the words I hi-lighted below, as the money has come pouring in. Mark spelled out his dream in this letter to his Mom and it is going to happen... It just seemed appropriate to share this letter on the morning of the two year Anniversary of MIL's passing. 
After all, the stars all seem to be aligning. Scott's vision has been a huge success & we have found a few Selmer Mark VI tenors right here in town for Mark to try out. Actually, he has one on loan right now & played it at a gig last night! There is so much to be thankful for in our life together, we have been Blessed by good friends and much love. But watching my sweet husband get something that he never saw as a possibility, well, that has been a true joy!  
Congrats my love, because, in the end, the money donated was given by many people who believe in you and that is the greatest gift of all. 



Dear Mom,

I will never have to look very far to see or realize the lasting effects of your life on mine.  From the car I now drive, to the saxophone I play, to the Christmas music I enjoy, and even to my wife’s name.  And though the Toyota will someday be traded in and I might move on, the good lord willing, to a Selmer Mark VI tenor, I will always have the music you put in my heart.
 
So many Saturday afternoons of my youth were spent listening to Will Moyle’s Essence of Jazz show on WXXI, during which you would inevitably hear a tune that inspired you to walk over to the piano, pick out the right key, sit right down and launch into the song, singing and playing, filling the entire home with a joyful noise.
 
Sunday mornings meant off to this very church, good old Mt. Rise, to worship God, and to sing with the choir.  Again, your beautiful voice would fill the sanctuary, and though shy, little Markie was often embarrassed by the fact that his mom was up there, seemingly singing above all the rest, I secretly was so very proud that you had such a beautiful, sweet, yet powerful and commanding set of pipes.

One might think that a young boy who had lost his father at such a young age, as I did, might have unpleasant memories of his youth.  And yet, I have none of that.  Our days on Red Fox Run were, in my memory, filled with happiness. And while I was well aware that the makeup of our family was different from almost everybody else’s in the neighborhood, I did not long for anything more than what we had; what you worked so hard to establish.

And perhaps the most meaningful lessons you taught me were in your last years.  When you first came to live with us, I thought to myself,  “this will be cool; Mom can hang out downstairs, do what she wants, we can visit with her and we’ll have a built in babysitter!” 
I soon came to realize that that wasn’t the case. Taking care of you was often difficult and time consuming.  But the experience was also rewarding and consequential to myself, Ellie jr., Beau, Teale and Gwenn.  We learned that families ought to stick together, we learned to give back and we saw the grace of God moving in countless others who would out of the kindness of their hearts pick you up and take you to choir, out for lunch or to a concert. 

Mom, I owe you so much.  And yet if you were here I know you would say, “don’t be silly.”  I will be eternally thankful for so many life lessons you passed on.  Until my dying days I will remember the good times: Our yearly camping trips, waking up Christmas morning with the sliding door shut, calling out to Scott downstairs through the heating vents to coordinate our joint convergence on the presents under the tree, seeing you in the hallways at Jeff Road, tap dancing to “Put on a Happy Face”.  God is good.  Thank you, Mom. I love you. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thank You!

Two days ago my brother in law had a genius idea to raise funds for my sweet hubby to get the sax of his dreams. Neither Mark or I knew of this plan & if we had, I'm not sure we would have approved. After all, the world is full of people who truly need things. Mark's dream of owning a Selmer Mark VI tenor sax has always seemed frivolous in our life of many challenges. But as life has gotten somewhat more stable, Mark has had more time to play in more bands. His Yamaha tenor is a fine instrument & has earned Mark much respect, but Scott is right, Mark deserves better. He doesn't want for much in this world. He's one of the nicest men and this I can say with true conviction, because I'm the lucky woman who gets to share life with him. I know there are many needs that families have, heck, we basically live paycheck to paycheck, so there are times I'm not sure how we'll pay our living expenses. Mark's gigs aren't frivolous to our family, they are much needed income. There have been many expenses in our life with our special needs daughter, Teale. Some of which are tough to explain. Money that disappears before our eyes & sometimes I'm seriously just not sure where it has gone. The biggest loss has been a steady earning income. There have been many challenges & changes we've made to keep Teale home in our care. My being able to take her to all her appointments & be home for after school & school vacation care has not only been nice, but a necessary need. Mark has the abilities to make "extra" income by using his gift of music. The new horn will give Mark the power to compete for more gigs, which will equal more financial stability for our family. So in closing, it may appear crazy to own a $5000 sax, but it has more earning power. So my sincere thanks to Scott and the many contributions from all our friends, known & unknown! We are truly the most Blessed couple I know!

https://www.crowdrise.com/aninstrumentforahero

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Posts from Facebook, to quickly update our Blog followers



Update on Teale's kidney issues;

Kidney function is not returning to normal. Also there is thinning of one kidney wall. At this point we are unsure if it's all from Lithium damage?
Official diagnosis is Chronic Kidney Disease.
High blood pressure med starts ASAP...
Eco cardio gram to check heart b/c high blood pressure could have caused damage.

Teale is at respite for the weekend. The quiet of the house gave me time to reflect on the latest medical news.

Second morning with Teale at Respitewood, somehow life without her here is both peaceful & painful.
There's never a day that goes by that I don't have at least one fleeting thought, wondering what she would have been, without the brain damage occurring at birth. Many may think that such yearning is wrong. Many may think I should let it go. I'm open & honest about our life with Teale, so I'm sharing this very deep feeling about me. I may somewhat have let go of what Teale should have been, but I have also accepted that it doesn't make me a bad person to sometimes grieve what she should have been.
I wonder if she would have been musical, what her talent would have been? Would she have had a beautiful voice or played a mean sax? I wonder if she would have had many friends at PMHS, played sports, wanted to go to a college far away or nearby? I wonder what she would have become as an adult & if she would have been a wife or a mother?
I may never totally except my daughters fate in this world, but that doesn't make me not except her.
I've told the following story to some, but the latest medical issues have me thinking about this much again.
When I was pregnant with Teale we knew she'd be born with gastroschisis. A friend of ours did some healing massage & Reiki on me several times. Our friend was Native American Indian & invited me to a healing circle with other Native American Indians.
Mark & I went on a Sunday afternoon to a round house in Fishers. What happened there has never left us. There were ceremonies we watched & then I was asked if I was open to having a laying of hands. With the exception of the one friend, I had several "strangers" lay their hands on my pregnant belly. Some touching, some just hovering. After several minutes people shared what they felt the spirit of our baby was telling them.
Some of the statements have never left us; She had a strong, incredible spirit & much energy. She chose Mark & I as her parents. She chose her path. Her gastric issues would be a low priority of the many other issues that would surface.

Teale is the heart of our family. She both bonds us & divides us. She centers us & helps us to believe in our abilities to help her. She teaches us the most & tests our patience & our tenacity.
Remembering ~ "Teale chose her path" brings me the most peace. So even though I often wonder "the what if's." I also know we are living a life with a spirit who wanted to teach us & hopefully we are learning the lessons well.

Prayers are all we need. We don't know the path this will take us on, but to be surrounded by love & light will keep us strong. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day Date to Lilly Dale ~ part four

It was shortly after listening to the woman in the yellow shirt be given a message, that a new medium was brought up. She said to Mark ~ "You, in the brown shirt." I'm sure our surprise was apparent, it had so been my dream he would get a message today. Mark is kind and caring to me, he brought me here today, even though the drive was a bit daunting and I'm sure he would have been happy to kayak or do something else, closer to home. I can't explain the pull, but I needed to fulfill this longtime desire to go to Lilly Dale, so although I wanted to say to him, as we were discussing our Day Date ~ "That's ok, we can go another time." I bit my tongue and hoped for the best. This was the best I was hoping for. You know that old adage about loving someone so much, you wish happiness on them, more than on yourself? I can't come up with the wording, but that is how I felt, it was fine if I didn't receive a message at Lilly Dale that day, but boy did I want Mark to receive one! When he was called out, my heart skipped a beat, would it be a message from his Mom or his Dad or both? I was hoping for both. Mark turned fifty this past Summer and he had reflected much on his life, on our life. He had lost his Dad suddenly to a heart attack, brought on by damage to his heart from a childhood illness of rheumatic fever. Mark was only two years old on that fateful day when his Dad dropped at a NYSMA conference, he was a music teacher and was out of town with his students. Mark has always wondered what his life would have been, had his Dad lived, he has always wondered what his Dad thought of him. His Mom on the other hand, adored Mark. After all, what isn't there to love? Mark had been a caring, devoted son, he and I had taken Mom into our home for most of her last years of life. In those years, her dementia got worse, but our love got stronger as we cared for her together. So a message from her would be nice too, we miss her and wonder about how she felt about her passing. We let her go, as a family, a decision I have no regrets about, but a small part of you always wonders how your loved one felt about your decision. We had done it once before, my Mom had had a severe stroke in 2006 and my family chose to let her go. With both our Mom's the decision seemed fairly easy. They had both been very independent, strong woman, neither would want to go on in a helpless state, needing constant care. Mark and I had been privileged to both be at our Mother's passings. It is something so surreal, so indescribable, that I truly can't explain how honored and blessed I felt to be with each of them and my dear Mark, by my side. There is much to both those stories, but back to Lilly Dale. The medium began her message to Mark ~ "As you walked in there was a Mother figure with you." I think my tears began immediately, we have felt both our Mom's with us much since their passings. Mark and I are very similar in our beliefs about after life, God and spirits. We both believe in a heaven, in a God and in our loved ones who have passed "looking after us." The message wasn't long and some of the images the medium brought up seemed "off," but some, some were so perfect and only things his Mom would know. The tears ran down my face as the medium spoke, I could barely look at Mark's face, for fear I would completely start blubbering. It is tough to put into words, but I'll try. First of all, "Mom was very surprised that Mark came to Lilly Dale." That seemed very Mom~ish, she was probably my polar opposite in many ways. Never in life would I remember her believing in things like mediums and if she did, she certainly would not have admitted it! That made me laugh out loud, I had pushed Mark, that is why he was there that day. The medium went on to talk about animals and the source of laughter it brought on the other side. Another thing Mom and I did not share, I love animals and have never lived without some, she ignored them, even when living with us and our sweet cats, she never enjoyed their company. Apparently on the other side three animals (the medium said small dogs, Mark and I think it is cats, as we lost 3 cats in our marriage) follow her. I can totally see my Mom's laughter in this irony, my love of animals is from her and I know my MIL not liking animals always seemed strange to my family. The medium went on to talk about Mark's driving and his need to be careful. She would say, it's not like something bad is coming, but you need to slow down, there was a message about a stop sign and paying attention. Like I said, the messages come at you quickly and the wording is tough to recall. But I found this as humorous as the animals following her, because if anything, Mark is a slow driver and it drives me a bit batty! He became an old man driver long before he became an old man, is one of our inside jokes. Then she talked about his not filling the gas tank, leaving it to do another time and his "pushing this often." This is SO TRUE! I will often get in a car and find it on empty, frustrated because I didn't know I needed gas and I am always running. We have never been a couple that sticks to driving "our own car," we switch around much. So it is common for us to switch cars for the weekend, depending upon who is driving the most or the least, as we have a large conversion van and a small four door. Anyway, Mark has left me and himself, on empty many times and then realized it when there is not much time to get gas, let's just say, he pushes it often! A funny thing to latch onto and not something I would have thought his Mom knew about him. She also talked about Mark being a good son, about him giving to others much and not taking enough time for himself. The message went on to say something about Mom going quickly at the end and wanting it that way. She had been hurting and wanted the pain to end. At the end of the message Mom left us with a whopper, a sign it was really her delivering the message through this random stranger we were listening to... 

Some background may help you to see the significance of the final message. When I married Mark, I soon realized that The Bradley clan would be pretty easy to work with when it came to sharing holidays. They had very few traditions around the "three holidays, that I would consider the big three family times;" i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. They only had a strong tradition around Thanksgiving as a family. It was spent with out of town relatives coming in from Florida and from MA. Mark's Mom's side of the family would come into Rochester to be together. She is one of five siblings and back in the day, all of them would gather at my Mother in law's home. I had missed the bigger Thanksgivings because Mom's Dad had passed just a few years prior to our marriage and Mom's sister, Ramona and her husband, Gene, hardly ever came anymore from Florida. Her brother Bob and his wife, Joyce had stopped "religiously" making the trek too, but did come a few times. Still, early in our marriage, we generally started the weekend of the Bradley family on the Wednesday night of Thanksgiving weekend. The arrival of Aunt Dee and Uncle Richie (Mom's younger brother) with "kids in tow," Debi & Randy, (Mark's older cousins, neither of which were married or had kids of their own) would drive in from MA and the festivities would begin. Mark and I would at least go greet them at Mom's on Wednesday night, after closing up our daycare. We may share dinner or a couple "fingers" of wine. (Another Mom~ism, she would ask for more wine, but almost always say, "just a couple fingers," holding her fingers sideways and showing just a few.) Mark, Randy and Mark's brothers would sometimes go out, it's a big night for music in bars. Thanksgiving weekend, back in those days, started on Wednesday and ended on Sunday. After all the festivities of Thanksgiving Day, Friday would be another big gathering of leftovers and family. Saturday might include shopping or a craft fair outing.  Of course there was also music, lots and lots of music would be played on the weekend. All of Mark's family is musically talented and would gather together to share their passion for music. Football was played if the weather cooperated, walks and intimate talks amongst each other would take place. In general it was a catch up weekend, to learn more about each other and our lives as the fast pace of daily living was stopped to gather together. There was a final goodbye, with a cup of coffee and bagels on Sunday morning at Mom's house. Bradley goodbyes are long and the standing joke is to start your goodbyes at the beginning to get out in a timely manner. We would gather to sing a goodbye song and stand outside waving as Uncle Richie drove away, tooting his horn playfully.
So, as you can see, Thanksgiving was and still is, the big Bradley gathering. The demands on other holidays have never been there. We have spent all 25 years of our marriage with Mark's family on Thanksgiving. I believe I have only missed one time, because Gwenn was quite sick. I stayed home with her, so Mark could still be with his family.  Thanksgivings have changed over the many years. Aunt Dee passed and Uncle Richie remarried, Jackie, a wonderful person, who has embraced the holiday also. All of Mark's siblings married and had children, our kids have grown and a few now live in other towns, attending colleges or in careers and are not always able to come home on Thanksgiving. Cousin Randy married and hasn't made the trek every year because of other commitments with his wife, Tammy. Uncle Bob and Aunt Joyce find travel in the Winter difficult as they age. We have held Thanksgiving at a variety of places over the years, as our crew got bigger and Mom's house got smaller. My family (siblings, nieces, nephew, etc) has joined us upon occasion, as have other in laws, but the core of the holiday is still the same, the Bradleys and the Valles (Mark's Mom's maiden name) gather together for at least a part of the Thanksgiving weekend. Much food is eaten, music is played and bonding happens.

Mom passed on December 13th, of 2013, just after celebrating her last Thanksgiving with us.
The message from her was simple, she told Mark ~ "life is short, eat pie for breakfast and on Thanksgiving have a piece of pie for me."

~to be continued....

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day Date to Lily Dale ~ part 3

As we walked, we talked about our experiences. I was surprised by how different they were, somehow expecting there to be a method followed. My healer prayed over & with me. Mark's seemed to ask him more questions on what he "needed." It seemed appropriate we got who we got, no accidents in life has been one theme I've seen again and again! Anyway we chatted & walked, Mark suggesting we check out the forest temple & then a path to the beach. Mark & I are both water lovers. Walking toward the beach, thoughts of times on bodies of water & beaches come to mind. I know if we had the money, a place on a lake would be both our dream. Mark likes lake swimming more than ocean swimming, maybe because we grew up in the Finger Lakes area? Much of his Summers were spent at his Aunt & Uncle's cottage on Canandaigua Lake. I know Mark likes the cold calm of a lake, I love the sand & waves of an ocean, but lake living would suit me just fine! Anyway, as we approached the water, my cell rang. I recognized the name and number and even though we were on a date, I answered. Curiosity had the best of me, it was a call worth taking and I'm sure in the future I'll end up sharing more. Mark was patient as I took the courious phone call. He waited & researched our day in the pamphlets we were given at the gate. That has always been Mark's "thing" in our relationship, he researches & plans our days, I tend to "wing it more." We compliment each other well, because I get him to be more spontaneous & he gets me to plan. There are other parts of our life where I am the researcher & he is more the "wing it" person, but when it comes to vacations, Day Dates, or just an activity with the family, he tends to research. So, by the time I was off the phone, he had much figured out. We walked back toward the main area in search of lunch, as we were both pretty hungry. Our first stop was a coffee shop, which, much to my surprise had many gluten free items (I'm Celiac) but we quickly realized one of our mistakes, we had forgotten to get cash. I had known cash was needed, but it slipped my mind on our way out of town & neither of us had much. The cafe people directed us to an ATM. After getting cash, we decided on a lunch spot, the coffee place seemed better for dessert, so we went to Monika's Delights. We had a nice meal outside and talked more about what was next. There was a group meeting at Inspiration Stump at 1pm, so we kinda needed to rush to get there. There would be several mediums brought up to the stage and they would do short demonstrations of medium readings of audience members. I so wanted this for Mark. He had really "given into my desire" to come to Lily Dale and my deepest hope would be for him to get a message from his parents. There were several "messages delivered," but during one of them, I was especially moved. A woman in the audience who had lost her son, Peter. Peter had a message for her that he was well in the afterlife. The illness that plagued him in this life here, was gone and he was free of the constrictions of his body. Details were kinda vague, but it was apparent he had been disabled, I believe from birth? The thoughts of losing Teale have been stronger over the last few months than in any other time in recent history. Her sudden diagnosis of kidney failure had taken both Mark and I aback. Teale struggles with much both physically and mentally, but I would not consider her medically frail. The scariest medical issue is her seizure disorder and that has been stable for years. She has always been at risk, because of medications, mainly the Lithium, for extreme illness and even possible death, if she caught anything severe, like a flu. When we made the decision to put her on Lithium all those many years ago, we were intensely warned about illness. Teale's ability to fight a bad infection while on Lithium would be very difficult because of the way it can very quickly dehydrate a person. The flu, every year, has been a huge fear in our house. Her pediatrician and I have a very close relationship and he has been vigilant about Teale's care since the day I met him. So, at the slightest time of concern, it is him I contact. Dr Dave is our rock, he has returned texts on Sunday mornings, he has called me way late into the evening or much before office hours. The instructions have always been very clear since leaving the psychiatric hospitalization with Teale as a six year old, if she shows signs of any dehydrating illness, we are to go to the emergency room at Strong hospital ASAP. She can not afford to get dehydrated on Lithium because it would be a very quick decline into critical, if she did. The fear of the flu, every Winter, has haunted me and yet, somehow, we have kept her healthy! I could try to claim it's because I am such a good housewife and my house is free of germs, but anyone who knows me, would know I am BSing you. I am, though, pretty vigilant about hand washing. Leaving public places, in my car, etc, I use hand sanitizer often. Coming into our home, especially in the Winter/flu season, I push everyone to wash their hands  before touching anything. My line has always been, "we can not afford for Teale to get the flu." It is one of the few ways I felt I could control the likelihood of an illness coming into my family. I doubt I will let up on that now that she is off Lithium, after all, it has possibly worked for ten years! Back to the women getting the message from her son. I was moved to tears listening to the message, everyone's biggest fear is to lose a child and it was obvious this loss was horrific and life changing for this woman. I remember memorizing her look, knowing I hoped to approach her and share a hug, one special needs Mom to another. The bond between parents like us is unspoken, but very unique, strong and real. Only "we" truly get the pain we feel on a daily basis. I so wanted to acknowledge this woman's loss and if she wanted to, hear more of her story. Unfortunately, that encounter would never happen, but that women in the yellow shirt, with short gray hair, has been on my mind much since.

~ to be continued....