Friday, May 24, 2019

Grief's Doppelgangers

 I was watching my regular (and only) daily serial (soap opera) "The Young and the Restless" yesterday, and suddenly - inexplicably - burst into tears.  It wasn't because of a sad scene; it was something about the actress who plays "Lola" that reminded me of my sister Laurie.

It isn't as if she even looks that much like her - the resemblance is vague, more in her inflections when she speaks.   I should mention that my sister Laurie died in 1969 at the age of 16.  Grief never really goes away, I guess. It lies in wait, and emerges once in a great while with these triggers.

Laurie was independent and intelligent, and had the same "air" about her that Lola has.  The hair is one thing, the brown eyes another.  It wasn't based on any one superficial quality, though.  Purely a feeling, I guess.

This has happened on more than one occasion. A month after my sister died, my mom was driving us through Oakland, and I saw a young woman walking down the street that I could have sworn was Laurie, which provoked such emotion that it stayed with me for the rest of the day. 

This has not only happened with Laurie, but with other close loved ones who have died, as well.  A man who had the same mannerisms and voice as my brother Arlo who had passed from cancer back in 2002 surprised me one day with that familiar aura, and several others who resembled my ex-husband Perry at various ages caused the tears to flow.  What's interesting is that one of the last texts Perry sent me was about someone he saw who resembled me.

Here's something weird:  about a decade ago, my husband Mike and I were grocery shopping, and a young woman came up to me and said: "I didn't expect to see you here!" After I was taken aback - who was this person?  She stepped away, and apologized.  "Oh! You look JUST like my mom! Baseball cap and all!"  I told her it was o.k. (though thought that I could never mistake anyone else for my mom...unless there was some sort of memory loss, or they had that syndrome where
one can't recognize faces).

I wondered if others who had lost loved ones had had this experience - they must, right? So I looked it up and found this blog from 2017:

So, I'm sharing this here with you, because (as the blogger in that link states):".....if you've had this experience, at least you know you're not alone." 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Happily Never After

Sometimes I just need to speak my peace about stuff. Let me ramble on, I've lived long enough to make some observations. Recently, a few folks we know have had break-ups from long marriages, which has had me pondering on stuff (watch out when I ponder)! 

The pain of parting wouldn't be half so bad if we weren't brought up to EXPECT that our marriages should all last a lifetime, just as we all somehow EXPECT to live until we are 90 or 100. Some do, and it's an inspiration and an acknowledgement of how very fortunate that couple is, to have lucked out the first time, AND that their union is mutually beneficial, so that there is the desire to make it last until death do them part (and beyond, maybe).
I expected that myself for the first time, and I tried as much as possible that last decade of my first 30 years of marriage...but it was like beating a dead horse, as they say. 

What happens is that it becomes a waste of precious time for both parties, especially after the children are grown & gone. The home is empty, the walls echo, and you look at your partner and ask: "O.k., who are you? Are we still in love? Are we still a team?" We feel like FAILURES if we can't fulfill that contract in our minds, that expectation we were brought up with, the fantasy of "forever after".   Well, for some - like my grandparents, like a few other couples that we know - it is/was real. But we can't all be them. I tried, though. 

Back in the days when the average lifespan was 40, and just enough time to raise the kids, being married for life was more do-able. Parting is painful, but it is not a sin or a crime you can't go the distance. And yes - those who are left get the worst of it, sometimes total devastation and mourning. I put my first husband through that, and I still have regrets and guilt about how I handled everything. He was a dear, dear man, and didn't deserve that.

Working at our relationship is the key, as long as it is good for you BOTH. My personal belief is that once you start to sleep in separate bedrooms, once the intimacy is lost, that is the death knell for the marriage. I realize some will disagree with me. But I am not so complacent to think that I can just coast along without putting in the effort at times - Mike and I can both be trying individuals - and that my second marriage will last forever (though at this point, the odds are more likely that one of us will drop dead first). AWARENESS. Don't take it all for granted. Nothing is guaranteed, or a given. And for those left behind, there is hope. It happened for me, and it can happen for you. Or get a pet....they will love you for the rest of their lives, if treated well.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Best She Could

Marie Loree Bowen, school years, San Francisco.

I think we hold our mothers to a higher standard than anyone else; I don't think we want them to have human failings. Now that I am much older - towards the end of my own life - I am at peace with her. My mother didn't - perhaps couldn't - protect me from my abusive father. But I realize that she just wasn't equipped to handle or even understand what was going on - she had no point of reference for it. 
Marie and Lou Hagler. I have very few photos of the two of them together, after they married. Mom "unfriended" Lou the old-fashioned way, after their divorce.
  As it was, she had 9 children, losing two of those children in the years to come, which killed her inside, each time. The first time, it drove her to drink, which affected my younger siblings the most. But Mom was the reason we had Christmas and meals, more often than not. She really tried, often "winging it", and bought us gifts with her own hard-earned cash. She never hesitated to hug us and tell us that she loved us. She worked hard outside the home, and did the best she could.
Marie and Lou,. with children. It was tough for Mom after she gave birth to my sister Laurie -her second child - because she had to be quarantined with tuberculosis for 6 months after Laurie was born. They never got to bond. But Mom loved us all. That love is the reason we could pass it along to our children & grandchildren. It's the gift that keeps on giving.  

Just Marie. Who knows what could have been, if she hadn't had those children, or married that man? She knew how to enjoy life - when she could.

 Marie especially adored her grandchildren, and they her; they were the ones who cried the most at her memorial.  
Marie and a few of her grandchildren. They could do no wrong!
 Mom was in recovery for many years, and was even leader of her AA chapter. The last time I saw her, I told her how proud I was of her. I love you, Mom.