Week of April 1st

My Goal this Week in Learning 2 Love & Be Connected:

My goal this week surprised me…as I sat in “quiet time” and thought about my week ahead in visiting my Oma (Grandmother) in Washington and what my goal should be (read post from Week of Mar. 18th & 25th for background) the words that came to me were “Be Open”.

My Experience this Week:

We left Tuesday night for our long drive to Washington with the motor home packed with every possible thing I could think we might need for our 18 month old daughter and ourselves of course. The shopping, planning and packing took some time but by the end of dinner we were ready to load up and begin our first trip away from home with Kaylee.

We intentionally left at night so that hopefully she would sleep for most of the drive and for the most part she slept fairly well in between the rolling around, bumps and noises…I however did not sleep and surely my husband, Tim, didn’t sleep as he was driving. The night was long and we finally stopped at 7:30am so Tim could rest and I could make breakfast and get us back on the road.

We arrived at my Mom’s around 1:00pm, exhausted and hungry. After lunch Tim took a well-deserved nap and I was having fun watching Kaylee play with my Mom. This is the first time she has seen her since she was born. And it was so fun to watch them play the way my Mom used to play with me when I was young…oh the memories!!!

But as I unpacked some items and started settling in, I had thoughts racing in the back of my mind about what the next day would bring. Seeing my Oma again after at least 3 years and wondering if she would remember me at all. If she did, would I tell her how I felt for all these years? What would she say? Would I get an answer that gave me any sense of peace or closure?

Finally, the morning came and we were off for the short 1.5 hour drive from Shelton to Port Orchard – let me tell you – Washington is such an amazingly beautiful state! We arrived at my Oma’s house and were greeted by my Uncle John and Aunt Didi. My Oma was sitting in her wheelchair and looked so different from the last visit. She looked almost “gone” – like the Oma I knew was somewhere else and left dying in this body was a woman that I didn’t recognize. Her frail body looked tired and her face looked pale and a little sad. And she didn’t remember me. I wondered if somewhere deep inside she knew how sad it all felt that she didn’t know who we were? I asked how she was doing and just chatted about stuff. I held back the tears when my Aunt would tell her who we were and you could tell it just didn’t register.

We only stayed a few hours as I didn’t want to impose and Oma was looking tired. But just as we were leaving I knew I wanted to come back again so I asked if we could make another visit the next day. The drive back to my Mom’s that first day was hard. I just kept thinking about the Oma I remembered and felt sad that I hadn’t tried harder to have a relationship with her when she was younger and healthy. But I also knew that when I would try, I was left feeling unimportant and like a burden so eventually I gave up. Now I am left with so many unanswered questions about her story, background, life and why she made some of the choices she made. The little I do know I will carry with me always.

We went back the next day and this time when we arrived Kaylee was napping in the car so Tim stayed with her while I went inside to say hello. I was hopeful that maybe on the 2nd day something would click and she would remember me. The amazing thing was that she did remember me visiting the day before but still wasn’t sure who I was. When I said “Hello Oma, I’m your granddaughter”, she looked at me, smiled and said “Wow, you are so beautiful”. I said thank you and again tried my best to hold back the tears. Then she asked me where my beautiful daughter was…she just loved watching Kaylee run around and play. She kept saying “look at her” in her strong German accent.

Suddenly as I sat there looking at her and holding her hand, I was overwhelmed with a sense of calmness and peace. Peace in knowing that somehow, even though, she was quiet and didn’t know who I was she could feel my love through my touch. In her eyes – somewhere way in the back through the darkness and sludge of Alzheimer’s – I saw a glimmer of hope that maybe she knew me on some deeper subconscious level.

My Aunt and Uncle were very gracious and welcoming. They even allowed me to go through some old photos and take a few with me which really meant a lot. At one point, without any hesitation, these words just flowed out of me as if they were coming from someone else “You know, we always felt like we were at the bottom the totem pole” and she replied “sweetie, that was never the case”. A little part of me wanted to believe that so much. But in that moment, I knew in my heart there was nothing else left to say. No further words needed to be spoken. No rehashing of let downs and hurt feelings was necessary. I felt relief.

We all make choices in life and now that I have a daughter of my own I truly get how your life can get wrapped up so easily in those around you every day. I rarely lived close to my Oma – we were always traveling, always moving. So there is a part of me that can now understand that the distance between us in miles was simply geography and not an intentional choice to not be with us. But the distance between our hearts – that is a separate story. We each have our own journey in this life and make choices as best we know how. Maybe she felt that they needed her more than we did? Maybe she needed them more? Who knows now – Alzheimer’s has taken away any chance of answers for all of us.

But what I do know is that the goal for the week to “Be Open” was wholeheartedly accomplished. As I sat with my Oma, held her hand and just looked in her eyes – I knew there was love surrounding us. The need to share my hurt feelings or find some closure for the past just faded away and no longer seemed as important as the time just being there. Because in that moment, I was OPEN to feeling LOVE, even if it came from above.

~ Hoping you find a way to be connected ~

Love & Light,

🙂 Victoria

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Week of March 25th

My Goal this Week in Learning 2 Love & Be Connected:

Oddly enough, this week’s goal turned out to be one of my favorite things: plan, plan, plan. We decided that next week is the best time for a visit to Washington to see my Oma (Grandmother) because it might be our only chance before June (read post from Week of Mar. 18th for background).

My Experience this Week:

Anyone that knows me can tell you that I am a huge planner! Event planning, wedding planning, project planning, you name it. (You would think that with all the planning I am good at, I would be just as good at being on time…but no…LOL). But planning just comes naturally to me and I think I get it from my Dad who designed bridges in the Army for years among many other talents.

Knowing my Oma’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, as are other ailments, and that she has never met our daughter, my husband and I decided that we should make a trip to Washington State for a visit sooner than later. And as we checked our calendar over the next couple of months it was clear that if we didn’t visit the week of April 1st then it wouldn’t be until after June and we weren’t certain if we had that much time before sometime might happen.

So, we made the decision to visit the week of April 1st; which meant we needed to spend this week planning our trip. Airfare was insane on such short notice so we chose to drive a motor home so we would be more comfortable and our daughter could sleep, eat snacks and enjoy the view. The packing list for an 18 month old is totally insane. The amount of stuff to pack “just in case” was overwhelming. But I made my lists of “we cannot forget to take” and started planning, shopping, organizing, etc.

Although my goal this week was not as concrete as it relates to Learning 2 Love but it was all about preparing for a trip that I knew in my heart would be a challenge for me on several levels. Not only emotionally as it will bring up feelings from the past with hurts that still have scars on my heart but also physically as the drive is between 17-19 hours with a toddler. Thankfully my husband will do the driving, whew!

The thought of facing my Oma knowing that she probably will not remember me was really hard because it forces you to let go of wanting “to get it all out there”. What is the point of telling someone with Alzheimer’s that you feel they let you down? Also knowing that this could very well be our last good bye made the visit all the more pivotal. This will be my chance for whatever closure I feel I need. This will be my chance to maybe tell my family how I feel. Will I even want to? So many questions, so many emotions and so much packing…we shall see where it all ends.

~ Hoping you find a way to be connected ~

Love & Light,

🙂 Victoria

 

 

 

Week of Mar. 18th

My Goal this Week in Learning 2 Love & Be ConnectedHonestly, I did not set a goal for myself this week. But nonetheless, there are lessons to be learned, if you are open for them and I believe I am…

My Experience this Week: This is the first week since my New Year’s Resolution to begin this journey of Learning 2 Love and Be Connected that I haven’t set a goal for myself. The past few weeks have been so emotional for me, with losing an Aunt and my husband losing his Grandmother. But I was also dealing with the 5th Anniversary of my Dad’s passing (read post from Week of Mar. 11th for background) plus trying to celebrate my birthday. So, when Sunday came around to set my goal for the week, my heart just wasn’t in it.

The interesting thing about being on this journey is that the concept of “loving and connecting” is always on my mind and in my heart as I go through the routine of daily life. I have felt a shift in how I perceive and relate to people and the world around me but also realizing how much I am connected to…everything! So as I stated above, although I didn’t have a goal set, there are lessons all round us if we are open to them. Being on this journey has opened my soul in ways I had not expected.

So, midway through this week I received some not so pleasant news that my Oma (Grandmother) was in hospice care again. She has been ill for some time with Congestive Heart Failure and Alzheimer’s but still able to have a meaningful life. At first, this news, although unsettling and sad, did not spark an overwhelming sense of loss in me. It sounds heartless when I write those words but honestly, I am not really close with that side of my family – at least not as close as I am with my Dad’s side. And the details surrounding the reasons why are not important but the feelings of semi-abandonment or neglect (for want of better words) were suddenly in the forefront of my heart.

I started asking myself why I felt this way. When I called my Aunt to see how things were going and I was able to talk to my Oma, I started crying. Not just from feeling sad that her time on this earth might now be limited but also from a desperate feeling of longing – longing to feel loved and important. She immediately remembered me and during those brief moments, I told her I loved her. Then like a flash she was gone and didn’t know who I was but I felt blessed that I at least was able to get those words out.

Growing up I always felt that somehow my Mom, sister and me weren’t as important. It seemed like all my Oma’s energy, attention, love and money were spent on other family members. Almost like we were wicked step children. Those feelings have made it so difficult for me to desire a connection with them and I have not allowed myself to work through those feelings and be honest with myself or with them.

So once again, my goal became to reflect and pray. As I started thinking about the past, how things developed, how I felt and what I needed to do or say in order to feel a sense of closure so I would have no regrets – I remembered something that Marianne Williamson had said during an interview with Oprah on the series Super Soul Sunday: “Only what you are not giving can be lacking in any situation”.

That is a powerful statement. I mean think about…as an adult, anytime you have felt wronged, hurt, alone, angry, betrayed, etc…what were you not giving that contributed to the outcome? I can honestly say that I have never told my Oma how I felt. And I certainly didn’t make any extra efforts to connect with her because I was too busy asking myself why she wasn’t trying to contact me and be a part of my life. Hmmm…at what point do you give up trying? Well…my Dads motto during his whole ALS struggle “Never, never give up!!” And if I am honest with myself…I did. Not only did I give up, I was too stubborn and settled in my hurt that I neglected to be the bigger person.

So now the challenge becomes what to do next. Perhaps try to make a trip to see her and hopefully she remembers me? Should we spend some time just being together or talk about my feelings? Not sure…I guess time will tell. Prayer and meditation do wonders at providing answers if you are patient (not one of my strong suits).

For now, on this journey to Love more deeply and be more connected…I have to be strong and own my piece of how I feel and why. Embrace it and realize my feelings aren’t wrong, they just “ARE” and I can choose how I feel at any moment. So I can choose to let go and just LOVE!

~ Hoping you find a way to be connected ~

🙂 Victoria

 (Please also check out My Poetry page for an update)

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Me and My Oma

 

Week of Mar. 4th

My Goal This Week: Well…as they say “the best laid plans”…I had a goal set for this week and by Wednesday life had other plans and things changed. So my goal for “learning to love” this week became: get through the week as best I can.

My Experience This Week: On Wednesday this week we found out one of my Aunt’s passed away. Although it was not a huge shock as she was in her nineties but still not expected as she was full of life and vigor. I actually had not seen her since my wedding shower a few years ago. But nonetheless, the news was sad and was harder the more I thought of her.

Technically speaking, she was not an Aunt by genetics but she was my grandmothers’ best friend (for decades) and we all grew up calling her our Aunt and it certainly felt that way. And like my grandmother, she was the sweetest woman you would ever want to meet. She had a way of making you feel special when she was in your presence – like you were the most important person in the world to her at that moment. That is a rare gift. She loved life, loved to dance, laugh, play the slots and have fun. She always called you sweetheart, honey or some other endearing nick name and was always concerned with what was happening in your life. She will be greatly missed but perhaps now we all have another angel looking out for us and maybe helping us win a few dollars at our next gambling venture.

But then, just as we were wrapping our arms around that news, we learned that my husbands’ grandmother had passed away. His family had been caring for her and visiting her for weeks as they knew she was nearing the end of her earthly life. But although she was in her nineties as well, it was still very difficult news. Being there for my husband and his family as much as I could became the second goal for the end of the week.

Upon hearing the news, we immediately drove to his Aunt’s house to be with his family for those precious final moments. Saying good-bye is so painful – even if it’s only good-bye for now. When you care so much and see your loved ones going through this pain – you wish there was a way to take it away. Especially if you have been there before and know what they are going through. But all you can do is comfort, hold and share your love with them while they work through the process of grieving their loss.

But what I was not expecting this week was the memories all this brought back of the loved ones I have witnessed in their last moments and how much I still miss them no matter how much time as passed. My dad used to say when I experienced pain or loss growing up “sweetheart, time has a funny way of healing all wounds”…so funny that now I can understand what he meant. All wounds heal over time, but the deeper the wound, the large the scar left behind. When it comes to the most special people in our lives, the deeper we love them, the deeper the scar their loss leaves but healing is still in progress under the surface.

My father was already ill with ALS when my grandmother passed away. So, we knew we were on borrowed time where he was concerned. Watching him grieve for his Mom, I can remember thinking “how am I going to get through this when it’s my dad?”. The only answer I have is by the grace of God. We all experience different forms of loss in our lives and somehow, from somewhere, the strength we need arrives and we can do things we never thought were possible.

I guess the ultimate end result or lesson for me in learning to love this week is that by the grace of God we are all connected to each other, to God and to everything around us. Because of that connection we can never be separate from God, each other or everything around us. There are times I feel more connected to my grandmother and my dad now because their souls are limitless and connected to mine in a powerful way. There are times, when I still miss them tremendously and some days it’s harder than others but I do feel blessed in the comfort of knowing they are able to offer guidance and a helping hand in my life more now than ever and the more I connect with that love of them, the more little miracles I witness in my life that could only have come with a little help.

~ Hoping you are staying connected ~

🙂 Victoria