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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....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day Date to Lily Dale, part 2

The rest of the ride went quickly, we were there just in time to go to The Healing Temple before the session was over. I was glad I got that advice or we would have missed the opportunity. Rushing to The Temple, I really had no idea what we were about to experience. A beautiful tree greeted us and as we got closer, I realized it was draped with short, different colored ribbons tied together. Some of the ribbons had writing on them, mostly names from what I saw. Walking inside The Temple, a women approached us with a gentle voice, explaining there were three people ahead of us. We explained it was our first time there and she explained further the process, that we could sit and watch, deciding if we wanted healing. Mark and I are no strangers to "out of the box" healing methods. After we discovered Teale's issues in utero, we had many different "healings" done. I saw a massage therapist many times who did "laying of the hands on me'" and our most unique experience was to attend a Native American Indian healing in a round house. Many people "laid hands" on my stomach and then told us about our very special baby inside me. Their "visions and messages" about Teale (and from Teale) were very accurate and we still refer back to that time, amazed at the experience. So to walk into this Temple, I knew we would both be open to a healing. We watched, read the pamphlets on the best ways to receive the healing and when the woman came to ask us if we wanted to go, Mark took the first spot open. I didn't have long to wait, until another spot was open. As the women quietly spoke to me, she asked no questions, but prayed with me, my hands in hers. I could feel that she understood me and the worry my heart has been holding. Then she let go and with my eyes closed she began moving around me, hovering her hands over different parts of me. I was aware of where she was, as sometimes she softly touched me or sometimes she just "hovered." Suddenly I was overcome with emotion, tears welled up in my closed eyes as I tried to concentrate on "receiving the healing and being calm in spirit and mind." I struggled though, as I could hear quiet sobbing and felt the pain of that person. Interestingly, after the healings were complete and I asked Mark about this, he had not heard the sobbing and I never saw who it was. My experience was fairly short and very emotional, I felt a release of pain I have been trying hard to surpress. The last few months have hurt my spirit in many ways. A loss of hope and confidence for Teale's medical well being has created much fear in me that I have found difficult to express and admit to anyone. The truth is, I have been scared, far more than I had ever been before, that I was losing my Teale, slowly. The tears fill my eyes as I type this, the pain has been kept deep inside me, terrified if I admit my fear, it will somehow come true. So as the tears ran down my face, the release of fear seemed to leave my very soul. Mark would share that he felt a surge of energy as his woman laid hands on him, but for me, it was all I could do to not sob, like the woman I thought I heard.

to be continued.... 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Day Date to Lily Dale

Mark and I took a Day Date to Lily Dale this week. It had been on my bucket list for years but the couple times I mentioned it to Mark, the drive seemed too daunting to him. Two hours away on a precious Day Date means four hours of the time spent in a car. Somehow I knew he didn't really want to go, yet the urge in my heart was strong and well, if I really want to do something, good luck holding me back! Mark and I run our marriage this way, we always have, the most passionate about something, wins. So I asked Mark to take off a day that we would have until 6pm, because Teale would be in school and then at her after school program, we picked her first day of school, September 2, 2015. Getting her on the bus was easy. Teale loves her school and was happy to go see her friends, add in the fact  she got a favorite ex-bus driver back to take her and she was thrilled! After she was safely off, we packed up a few things and hit the road, just me and my best friend, off for the day on an adventure. I was super excited, knowing in my heart Mark would enjoy the day also. We hadn't prepared real well, I had looked at the website and so had Mark, but I didn't really understand how "it all worked." A few friends gave us advice and I had called a medium, inquiring about possibly doing a couples reading. The woman was very helpful and actually ended up discouraging me from setting up a reading. Her advice was to get a "healing" done at The Healing Temple and go to a few of the group readings. She said there was a lot to do and for the first visit, we may want to just explore. She really could not have been more correct in the end. The two hour drive went quickly, there's not much I like more than being "stuck" in a car, with Mark to myself. We talk easily and the time to "catch up" is precious to me. I never feel like there is a lack of things to talk about, our family is complicated and we both have much going on outside of each other. I've never truly gotten over the fact that we no longer work together. Our days doing daycare together were so much fun and I still miss the continuity of that life together. Often I am scamming, (at least in thought) trying to come up with a new way to work together, but alas, I lack the all important college degree. Anyway, the car time, to me anyhow, just seemed to fly. We made one quick pit stop at a unique rest area on the NY State thruway that brought back memories of car trips from years past. The rest area is actually in the medium of the thruway and you walk in an inclosed bridge to the center from either direction. As soon as we pulled up, it sparked memories of trips we have taken in our twenty seven years together. We have a lot of memories together and as we age, it's funny and ironic how difficult it gets to pull those memories back up. Much pre - Teale is lost for me, she takes so much of my thought and my energy, it's almost like I let go of memories before her to make room for the many medical and educational things I need to know. As we walked the bridge to the middle of the thruway, some of those old memories started flooding my mind. Moments like those are so bonding for me. The years we have spent together are what strikes many, (we are fairly young to have been married 26 years) but for me, it's all the fun we have managed to have in those years, amongst the challenges and the pain. Mark is truly my best friend, it may be cliche, but he is my rock. Mark is the person I most admire, respect and love. We know we are Blessed, we know we are unique, so the trip to Lily Dale was bound to be special.

to be continued...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Irony of Humor

Laughter has gotten Mark & I through much. We are both a tad twisted and laughing at our circumstances helps us to keep the tough stuff, light. If we let the pain and frustration take over, we drown in misery. Finding humor in life is our way of coping, but not everyone would agree with this. Many months ago, a man who I had known 12 plus years, a man I had welcomed into the most intimate parts of our family, failed me. He had been a rock for us, a person both Mark and I trusted and deeply respected. We have had many loses in this life with Teale, services for her are constant and ever changing. We've walked this road with specialist after specialist, many for only short periods of time and then they disappear from our world, leaving me to wonder if we made any impact on their lives? People come and go in all our lives, but possibly more so in the life of a child like Teale. From the very first moments we found out her "issues," Teale and our family has been surrounded by people who "knew more than we did." Specialist were brought into our world constantly. These people  often brought us hope but sometimes, they brought us to our knees, explaining sad realities about Teale and her future. The information we were thrown by these professionals (doctors, therapists, teachers, education administrators, behavior specialist, etc.) was often a mix of "what it is & what it may become." There are and have been so very many people welcomed into the very complicated folds of our family. We have shared our vulnerabilities with complete strangers, hoping for help in areas we struggle. Teale makes me think, not just a little, or once in awhile, but constantly. My mind barely ever lets go of how to improve on my care and in turn, improve Teale's quality of life. I am a Mother of two other children, who also flood my mind, but I can honestly say, they do not monopolize my thoughts the same way my middle child does.
So back to the professional who brought such pain. He was part of our lives much longer and much more intimately than any other professional besides our pediatrician. He was a trusted part of our team of support. I'm not sure I'll ever truly know what went wrong that day or why, but a regular appointment became a game changer that would have ever lasting effects on my family. Humor seemed to be what set the disagreement in motion. Humor, the very essence of how Mark and I cope was being questioned like we had performed some heinous act. Mental illness is a very difficult field of study. It is often very subjective, making the doctors in the field very powerful. Their opinions are but, in my opinion, just that, their opinions. If a family is thriving, judging how they thrive, is uncalled for. Mark and I are doing just that, we are thriving. Amongst the bad we have managed to keep a loving home, a strong marriage, friendships and even our own personal interests. Our two other children are also thriving, sure there are many sacrifices we all make, but to criticize how we cope, after years of knowing us, it was horrid how harsh he was. I'm not going into details and if you ask the name, I probably won't share. Many of the people who are close to us know the whole story. I can't hate him, he really was there for us for many years, but something "snapped" that day and our team was divided. A person I trusted was suddenly attacking my husband and myself. So as I calmly stood up and told him I was leaving, "because he wasn't himself," I won't deny, my heart broke a bit. I was walking out of his office, but I also knew I was walking out of his life. Humor was at the core of it, humor was being questioned, like Mark and were very mentally ill for being able to find the the good and the humor in our very complicated family. I'm still confused by that day. But since then, there have been many changes for the good. My walking away, may be the reason God put me through that pain, maybe it was part of a bigger plan? Maybe change was needed to complete it? Another loss in the professional world, but I refuse to view it as a loss. It was a relationship that served it's purpose and then suddenly, it no longer did.
I learned much from the experience, but probably the biggest things I learned are; how powerful I am, how strong we are and how little all those professionals really know.  Mark and I are the only ones who truly matter. We are the glue that holds the family together...