While in Arizona for my grandmother’s funeral my family members and I got to relish the opportunity to sort through hundreds, maybe even thousands, of my grandmother’s photos. She had a vast collection spanning many decades all thrown together in a couple of suitcases. Pictures from back when she was likely in her early thirties (before I ever met her) and all the way through the last two or three years of her life. My aunts, uncle and I all picked through the pictures recalling old memories and sharing them with some of our children. It was truly wonderful in many ways. I saw pictures I never knew existed. I saw my mother in various forms of her life including teen years and as a young mother. I loved sharing this time with my family. We were all hungry for good memories and to find the next treasure in the chest. It was very cathartic for all of us and really bonded us in our grief.

And this was all my grandmother left behind for the most part. Anything of any value actually. She had a few trinkets and knick-knacks, but all essentially worthless. And no meaning in any of them. When I first walked into my aunt’s home she had some of grandma’s jewelry laid out on the kitchen table. The first question to me was, “would you like to have anything?” The last thing I want right now is to pick apart my grandmother’s life piece by piece and parcel everything out. It seems strange to me in so many ways. We work so hard to have the things we have to enjoy life. We labor over these things and worry about them. We pack and unpack only to pack again and move them about with us as we travel from home to home in our moves through life. Yet at the end of the day when the death bell rings and we have ascended to glory, all we have are some old pieces of costume jewelry and knick-knacks that nobody really wants. We are reduced down to the few meaningless possessions which are split amongst those who care about us the most. And then I wonder, does it even matter? Those things are just things and do not represent her or why she mattered to me. She was a person whose life mattered. How she loved me mattered. How her infectious attitude and laugh mattered. Her zest for life and her love of Jesus mattered. She mattered, not the things she possessed. I guess this is why I didn’t want anything of hers. All she could give me she gave while she was alive. She gave me the greatest memories and taught the best values. She left a legacy that cannot be associated with any sum of money or equated to treasures to take to the pawn shop, she left a living legacy of love, hard work, happiness, joy, and family.

At the end of my life I hope someone can say the same for me and what I’ve done with my life. I hope that whatever material possessions I have remaining aren’t riffled through with reckless abandon but are treasured and respected while also not being valued over my life. I hope that the people who surround me while love each other, reminisce on their time with me, cherish each other deeply, support each other in their grief, and leave the event better because it happened.

With love,

The Repressed Peach

Self-quarantine: Days 3 & 4

3/24/2020: Day 3 was chock full of looking at transcripts, course selections, flipping through binders, and managing emails as they hit my box. I found myself easily distracted by things in my home office so I took some time to organize and rearrange my craft closet. I felt a bit better after that and pushing the vacuum. Sometimes that “heavy” work when I’m feeling anxious or stressed really helps me breathe better. I enjoyed working in the office and the liberty to move around more freely in the comfort of my home is very nice. I truly love my home and it’s a safe haven for me so it’s nice to enjoy that and work. And I love my work too, so that’s definitely a bonus. I know not everyone can say that. For the most part, day 3 felt like a typical day that I would have in summer break.

3/25/2020: Day 4 is starting out good. I feel more tired today but I think that’s because I’ve been dreaming of the virus and all the associated stressors for the last couple nights. I feel the tension in my shoulders and my jaw is a bit tighter than usual in the morning. I think I might need to take the dog for a good long walk today and get some fresh air. Last night we got an email that said our school closure has been extended through April 24th and surrounding towns have gone to “stay home, work safe” protocol. I think it’s lingering in my mind that if our town goes to that I will feel even more restricted than I already am. In reality I won’t be but that’s what’s running in my head. I feel the burden of restriction weighing on me. It’s nothing compared to what others in history have endured but it sure gives me a glimpse into the heir experience. I’ve seen so many memes about Anne Frank and her family being tucked away in the attic for years and I can only feel uncomfortable for her. What a terrifying and terrible feeling to live like that so long. This is why though we, as a nation, enjoy our freedoms and don’t take them for granted. I have the perspective that I appreciate the opportunity I have to get up and go anywhere I want to, eat what I want, spend what I want, wear what I want, and do as I please each and every day. I’m a law abiding citizen, but I enjoy all the freedoms of my life. I can’t imagine being in a prison.

Well the day continued with relative ease. I felt myself well up with tears a few times just from latent emotions lingering around. It really got me when my son participated in his first zoom meeting with his JROTC classmates. It was so sweet to hear all the kids talking and laughing with each other and asking if everyone was alright. It was a sign of such compassion as well as humanity. I loved it. And I love that he has that with other young adults in his life. I recently asked him to reflect on his strengths and weaknesses/struggles from his freshman year in high school and he said he didn’t feel as though he had any weaknesses or significant struggles but he definitely feels like his strength is in his social skills. He then added, “I feel like the friends I’ve made this year are friends who would go to my funeral and I would go to theirs.” I lost it. I was caught so off guard by that remark but so happy to know he feels so strongly about the connections and the friendships he’s made this year. What an amazing blessing to him!

Back to quarantine life… so groceries have been tricky since we are in self-quarantine and I cannot go out to get anything myself. Although we are not symptomatic we are taking as many precautions as we can. Social distancing, the new buzz word in society, has been easy since we are home bodies for the most part, but it’s very hard to do in a grocery store. So we have been ordering groceries through delivery services like Shipt. We were getting low on puppy food for our sweet Duke but not dangerously low. I just didn’t want to run out and then have to switch foods because we all know how hard that is on a pup’s tummy. Last thing I need is to have a stinky house. Anyway, finally got the dog food we needed yesterday as well as some other staples that we needed. However, the store was out of my ice cream! I know, I know… first world problems, but it’s my guilty pleasure and I can’t go hunting for it right now. I guess I will enjoy it more once I can get it again.

Anyway, work was uneventful. No meetings to attend via zoom or crises to handle. So it was a day of paperwork and binders again. But my work laptop is small, and the screen is not conducive to long periods of time and all the data entry I have to do. So I reached out to my neighborhood through our Facebook page and asked if anyone had a spare monitor laying around that I could borrow for the time period. Within three days I had several people offer but didn’t have the correct connection (I needed an HDMI port on the monitor). Then I got a hit that worked out! My neighbor lives just up the street from me brought me a 20” monitor hand delivered to my doorstep and a nice bottle of wine to boot! 😊 I was so surprised and so grateful for the kindness and generosity! The monitor is working out great and making my life a smidge easier in these wild times.

To add to that I’ve had time to appreciate all the little miracles of beauty around me in nature. The lizards running around my back patio eating the crane flies. The beautiful hibiscus flowers blooming in the pot outside. The beautiful wild flowers lining the side of the back roads. It’s been a nice time to slow down and take things in… like not just “see” them, but see, appreciate and wonder at them. It’s nice.

Wild flowers alongside the back road
First hibiscus bloom

We will get through this. It’s just gonna take some time. Hopefully we will be better on the flip side of this tragedy.

Expressly yours,

The Repressed Peach

Self-quarantine edition: Day 2

I’m a day behind… so this should’ve been written and posted yesterday:

Today was day one of tele-work for our school district. I got up with ease and hopped into my work clothes and put on my work face. I feel like some sense of normalcy is important for my mentality and to get into the zone for productivity. Once done I zipped up to Starbucks to get my venti iced caramel macchiato through the drive thru after ordering from the mobile app. No person to person contact at all, never got close enough to anyone to breathe on them or them on me either. I hustled back home and jumped right into work mode. I felt like I was in my office on campus although the digs were a little more homey and comfy. Even had my work buddy on my side. He was chewing on a pig ear while I worked.

I did a teleconference via FaceTime with my counselor colleagues which lasted about an hour or so. It was intense with so many people talking and so many faces to watch. While intense I felt like it was actually more productive than our meetings in office. Everyone was more relaxed and attentive to the tasks at hand. It was interesting to see the different dynamic. I even felt different, I felt myself listening attentively and refraining from jumping to conclusions or feeling antsy and judgmental. I definitely felt more relaxed compared to our usual meetings. Anyway, then I got to talk with a parent, send some emails about transcript updates, and then got ready for a professional development zoom meeting.

I’ve zoomed before, but this was different! We had over 300 participants! I couldn’t believe it! All those people from all over our region “calling in” to one place to talk at the same time. Technology is amazing!! The moderator muted everyone so we couldn’t hear all the craziness in people’s homes and such, but video was still on. Lol… oh people… it was comical at times. And it kinda felt intrusive, I didn’t know but maybe 8 people on the call, but I can see more than that and they’re in their home offices, kitchens, living rooms, etc. I felt like a voyeur on accident. Technology has given us access to so much, and sometimes to things I don’t want. Anyway, the professional development session lasted two hours. It was long but very useful information. At the end of it I only had one hour left to be on the clock. And boy was I grateful! I was tapped out on being so connected to tech. I had a laptop in front of me and a phone in my hand the whole day. Not to mention the binders and paperwork I was rifling through. I was worn out! Once the school day ended I silenced my phone and put it on Do Not Disturb for more than an hour. I couldn’t look at my phone or anything… I was done.

Then I made dinner. I can certainly feel myself thinking more about meals and planning them more intentionally. It’s a strange sensation actually. In a way I feel guilty for being such a consumer before and living on autopilot in some regards. It’s sad to think about really. I like to think of myself as a rather intentional person and a good planner, but this is one area it’s very apparent I have work to do. Even feeling myself rationing certain items because I’m being conscientious about going through it too fast. It’s an odd sensation in my mind. It’s a new way of thinking and one that I could stand to maintain after this crisis passes.

Once dinner was done and the kitchen cleaned, my son and I went outside to play some baseball. We stayed in our front yard and didn’t contact other people although there were many children and families outside walking dogs, riding bikes, playing basketball and more. It’s amazing how alive our neighborhood felt despite this crisis. Everyone seemed happy and there was joy where I haven’t heard that before in my hood. So we played baseball with a weighted ball, it’s nearly one pound heavy, and stayed outdoors for over an hour. It was a warm evening but nice and got even better once the sun started to set and a cool breeze washed over us. It was rather lovely really.

Here are some insights that I’ve had since this whole thing started:

  • technology is great, but I’m now in a position where I am overstimulated by it. I wonder how many of our kids will experience this when we start virtual learning.
  • Autopilot is for planes only, not my brain
  • Rituals are critical to creating balance and wellness in these trying times
  • Moving your body is an important thing to do when you’re cooped up inside for long periods of time
  • Working from home doesn’t give me any more time than I had before and it in fact makes other people forget to maintain boundaries
  • I could get used to this! I wonder how our district will change its policies based on this new learning of infectious disease and contagion
  • I generally suck at grocery shopping! But I have room to improve!
  • As a parent it’s important to talk to your kids about their stress, but you shouldn’t talk to them about your stress. They shouldn’t be alarmed by the things you’re hearing or reading.
  • Work hours and tasks have more flexibility in them than I am currently allowing. I need to create a ritual and create space for me to exist in the midst of it all.

As you can see my brain is taking in all this new data and trying to sort through as much as possible. It is overwhelming at times and stressful, but I do believe everyone on this planet may become better through their opportunities.

Wholly yours,

The Repressed Peach

The Self-quarantine edition

So we went to Arizona for my grandmother’s memorial service which made us leave the sanctity of our home and travel via airline to our destination. We all know airports and aircraft are breeding grounds for major bacteria and viruses alike. What with this pandemic, we took major strides to limit the potential for infection but you can only do so much when accompanied by 30+ passengers who have all been in contact with at least 30+ others themselves. So we are self-quarantining for the next 14 days at least. In effort to save my sanity and explore the new dimensions of what I might learn of myself I thought I would blog my adventures each day. And here is my day 1:

I got up this morning around 8:30 and took care of the dog. Let him outside for his potty break and fed him. Then piddled around the kitchen tidying up a bit. Around 9:00 I sat down in the media room and started putting together the new patio furniture set I purchased from Wayfair. It was definitely an interesting task although not as cumbersome as an IKEA purchase. A few minutes into this adventure and my dog tried eating the directions and simultaneously lost a puppy tooth. It was a tiny little molar! I was so surprised because I haven’t seen a puppy tooth before. It was precious! So I set that aside to show my son when he woke up later. I put the dog in his kennel so I could work with fewer distractions and to ensure the directions were salvaged to get me through the building of the furniture. Finally got the project done around noon but in the middle of it I stopped for breakfast, and to collect the groceries I had delivered to my front door. Thank the lord for grocery delivery service during this pandemic because I don’t know what we would’ve done. Thankfully this grocery delivery I was able to acquire meats. In previous orders the meat department was entirely sold out of products so I couldn’t get anything delivered. This time I got a two pound package of ground chuck, a four pack of chicken breasts, bacon and sausage. I generally don’t split packages of meat up because I’m lazy or don’t think of it, but this time I spent the time needed to split the packages into smaller serving packs to ensure I only defrost what I need and will use in a meal. I thought that this was definitely something I need to do better about all the time so I don’t waste meat. I felt myself appreciating the meat and thankful for the grocer and farmer who worked to provide for me in this instance. Even more so, appreciative of my shipt shopper who went out into this uncertain world to provide a needed service to me. After I finished that task I completed my furniture project and let the dog back outside. While he was doing his business in the backyard, I placed the new furniture outside on the front patio. It is a drizzly, wet day outside so it was sprinkling lightly. It was a little cool outside, but still pleasant. I sat down into one of the new chairs and rocked. I found myself enjoying the rocking and actually rocked myself to sleep a little bit. I dozed off sitting in the rocking chair outside in the sprinkling warmth of a strange spring day. Before I fell asleep I marveled at the growth of my flowers in the front garden. I admired the many buds about to bloom and found some plants that need to be tended to. Just little trimmings here and there then they’ll be good as new. Grandma would’ve gotten up right then and pulled those things off or out of the ground, she wouldn’t have waited. She also wouldn’t have complained or remarked about how she felt doing it, not a gripe about her body or her hands hurting, not a slow rise from bending over, nothing. She was mighty and strong in so many ways that I’m not. Anyway, I thought this thought and found tears well in my eyes and a knot form in my throat. I swallowed it away and dried the tears. I didn’t want to cry right then.

The remainder of the day was relaxed. I ate a little bit of lunch, showered, and then took a good nap on the sofa for a couple hours. Although it wasn’t a perfect nap it was nice. Too much light in the room and a little noisy from my son playing video games in the media room, but whatever. I napped and enjoyed it. Shortly thereafter I made dinner. We enjoyed New York strip steak, baked potato and bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers as an appetizer. Gosh did we love those poppers. I wish I would’ve made more but then again, I’m trying to ration some of our food stuffs. Bacon is a prime commodity right now and I don’t want to go through too much in one night. Strange the adjustments we make in fear of inaccessibility… The steaks were from a couple weeks ago that I ended up freezing because we didn’t eat them when I thought we would. Each steak was just a smidge over 0.5 pounds so we ate well tonight. The potatoes were good with light butter and shredded cheddar cheese.

After kitchen cleanup was done I headed to the home office to set up for tele-work tomorrow. Our school district has gone to virtual learning with the school closures and counselors have to provide support during certain hours. Therefore I wanted to organize my office and prep for the first official day of work from home. It wasn’t challenging at all, but I realize I need an external monitor to connect to my laptop. The screen is small and my keyboard is sticky so I have to use a wireless keyboard which is easier to use when I’m using an extended screen. Trivial things at best, but def an impact to my comfort. I made a community post about someone lending one to me and got a couple offers that I will follow up with tomorrow. This set ablaze an idea about creating a community app where people can post their excess items where others can shop and can digitally pay for said items. However I don’t know the first thing about creating an app so there’s that. Good idea but not feasible right now.

Once we settled down a bit, we enjoyed a bite of ice cream. We each had a pint we had opened a couple nights before so we finished those off for dessert. Tonight was a good night. Today was a good day. I feel relaxed and calm right now. I feel motivated to take on this challenge and grow in ways that I’ve needed to but haven’t had the impetus to change. To start with, I’ve wanted to be a bit more flexible physically. So tonight I did 25 squats, 35 jumping jacks and some other light calisthenics. Not too much, but enough to move a little in the right direction. Maybe this can become a daily practice for the rest of my life. It has to be good for me.

So that’s it for Day 1. We are doing fine. Neither of are experiencing any symptoms or anything which I’m very grateful for. See ya tomorrow for day 2 and all that my day will entail in self- quarantine.

Hopefully yours,

The Repressed Peach

Tribute to My Grandmother

On March 10, 2020 my grandmother, affectionately called Little Bit, died after a massive stroke. She hadn’t been sick or anything and was just days before jumping on a bouncy castle with her great grandkids at a birthday party. The whole family was shocked when she died, to say the least. I find myself rocked to the core with this death… beyond the others I’ve written about, the death of my grandma has me deeply sad but also very grateful for her.

She was feisty, small in stature, big in love, the heart of our family, the thrill seeker, the wrestler, the fearless matriarch. Everyone who knew her loved her. She was a Christian woman who relied heavily on her faith. She was a phenomenal cook. She ran a tight ship in her restaurant business and didn’t take kindly to laziness or ineptitude. She loved all animals and often had various animals on her farm. From chickens to geese, sheep to pigs and cows that would nurse on your hand, she had them all at one point. She was a huge fan of emus before her farm life came to a close. She and my grandfather cornered the market on emu oil and all things emu. They raised them, farmed them, and sold the byproducts. They were all in!

As for her family… she was something else. Grandkids always have a different perspective about their grandparents than our parents had about their parent. My mom lived a different life with her mother than I did with my grandmother. My grandma taught me about Jesus Christ and led me to know him as my personal savior. I learned hymns like “Amazing Grace” and “I Fly Away” by singing them with her during bible study in the evenings in the living room of a small shack we lived in at the time. I learned to pray and what it felt like when God was in the room. Grandma always gave us a place to live when things weren’t going well with whatever man my mom was with at the time. We always had food because grandma would send my mom home with leftovers from the restaurant. If it was her delectable biscuits and gravy or the despicable liver and onions, we had food. My grandmother taught me to brush my teeth. She made sure my sister, brother and I all had Christmas gifts every year regardless of what was happening with my family. Grandma gave me my first job at her restaurant where I earned my first paychecks and saved enough money over time to buy my first pair of brand new, name brand shoes. Grandma taught me the value of hard work, discipline and servitude.

She was a giver in the truest form. Every year on thanksgiving she would have the whole family come together to cook and prepare a thanksgiving feast for the community offered through her restaurant. She had a donation jar for people who wanted to pay for their meals but she had no expectation for payment from anyone regardless of their ability to pay. The entire meal was free for everyone. Every year. Once everyone was served and off to their homes to rest in a food induced coma, all of the family, and any employees who wanted to, stayed for our own thanksgiving meal. We would make a 20 foot long table and load it with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, biscuits, dinner rolls, gravy, and fruit salad. Then dessert was always homemade pies: apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin, and other varieties from time to time. The cleanup was always the worst because we all just wanted to go home and knock out for a nap, but alas we had to clean and prepare the restaurant for a full shift the following day.

Grandma was an exceptional cook. She was famous for her homemade jams and jellies. She made blackberry, strawberry, prickly pear, apple butter, peach, marmalade, and so many more. She had the greenest thumb I’ve ever known. She could grow anything out of nothing. She liked to grow cucumbers for homemade pickles that she would use in her restaurant. She liked to grow flowers and plants. She especially loved purple irises and marigolds. I remember both flowers being on her property and behind her restaurant all the time. She also hand an affinity for hollyhocks. A flower I’ve only ever seen in Arizona. She loved green houseplants like the philodendron. Even as she aged she maintained flower beds and small gardens that she diligently tended to daily. She was one of the few motor homes in the mobile home park that had a garden and flowers. It seemed as though she would plant something everywhere she went. A small bit of Little Bit was left in her wake. Gardening and planting joy was her passion. She did it with a smile and great pride. When I would visit she often start off by showing me her plants and what’s been growing in her garden. She would brag about the fact she had the best garden in the mobile home park and would smile in delight.

To grandma, no one was a stranger. She was friends with everyone. She didn’t meet a person she couldn’t connect with or find a way to serve. She was generous in so many ways and found ways to bless others. I’ve learned in the last few years that we had several regular patrons to the restaurant who never paid for a meal because she just fed them. They were hungry and so they ate. She would use that time to talk to them about Jesus or Pop would come out and make friends, smoke cigarette or drink a cup of coffee while they ate. But those guests always had a plate of food and no judgement passed, not that I ever witnessed. Grandma lived a modest life. She didn’t have a lot but she did all at the same time. She was wealthy in family, friendship, and character.

Every being has flaws. We all make mistakes. We all do things we wish we wouldn’t have done or said things we wish we wouldn’t have said. We all have rough edges and need polishing in some regard or another. We are not born perfect, and we don’t die perfect. But, I know that my grandma taught me so much and gave me so much that I will forever be grateful to her. I think she likely saved our lives in more ways than one in the course of my lifetime. Thankfully I had opportunity to meet with her alone a couple times over the last five or so years and expressed my gratitude and the magnitude of the impact she had on my life. I hope she remembered all I shared and how much I loved her. I pray she knew my voice as I spoke to her in her final hours via video-chat. I pray the tears I saw gathered in the corner of her eyes was from the intensity of the love she felt. I pray that in her final hours she knew no pain and ran happily into the arms of God the Father as her spirit left this earth. I pray that she wasn’t afraid or worried about anything. I pray she was at peace with the legacy she left behind.

And for me, I pray that in time my heart will heal and this won’t hurt so badly. This post alone has taken me nearly four days to write because I couldn’t keep it together long enough to finish in one sitting; I was too overcome with emotion and the intensity of it all. I pray that I live the rest of my days honoring her and living up to the person she believed me to be. And more so, I pray that I live a life where I create a legacy of my own while also honoring her legacy.

Until we meet again Grandma, I love you, I miss you, and I hope you know how much you mattered. Rest easy in heaven and I hope you and Pop are enjoying your heavenly reunion! I know he missed you so much! Love you forever and always.

In memoriam,

The Repressed Peach