Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I'm Still Here

It's been years.  I've abandoned writing altogether for such a long while.  I suppose I got complacent.  Over the weekend, I attended The Evolving Faith Conference in North Carolina, and if there is anything that can light a fire of inspiration of fire under me, it's listening to a dozen radically, humble, gifted people (women mostly) preach openly about peace-making, social justice, loss and gain of new faith, and politics.  So, here I am again. 

To quote one of the speakers, Austin Channing Brown, "I'm still here."

I'm still here and so very changed.

Here is my honest clan update.  My oldest son Peace served in the U.S. Airforce while married to his high school sweetheart.  He finished his service a year ago and now lives a few miles down the road.  We often do very nerdy sweet things together like share meals, watch a series together (holding our breath till A Handmaid's Tale begins again in the spring), and take our dogs to the dog park together.

My second son has struggled with life and relationships, sent every bridge ablaze and burned us all to the ground, and is now in sober living in California, thousands of miles from our Tennessee home.  Hopefully he's doing the hard work of self-examination which may one day lead to reconciliation with the people he's utterly squashed and devastated here.  He has a long hard road ahead.  Despite that, I'd say he and I have a very loving relationship via Facetime, and I'm happy for that connection.  He's such a charasmatic beautiful young man. 

My third son is living his college dream at MTSU.  He lives in a house of great friends which they have dubbed "The Fish Tank" which I am sure is quite a mother's cleanliness nightmare.  We meet in other tidy places like the restaurant where he finally got his dream job of bar tending.  He's paying his own way, so he doesn't come home much.  When he does, his brother, sister in law, sister, and I all converge on the poor child and smother him with love, attention, homemade meal, shopping and special trips. 

My girl, Pooh Bear,  is a junior at a small public lottery school here in town which she loves.  It's a perfect fit for her ambitious self.  She mostly runs, studies, works as a bus girl, and hangs out with me and her boyfriend and our pets. Together we love all squishes (babies) and animals who happen to cross our path.  I love our life together, and I am madly preparing to sob at every single "last event" next year, her senior year.  When she sets off to college, it will feel to me like having my heart surgically removed.

Thankfully, my second husband, Lesk will make sure that does not happen.  We've been married five years, and oh how he loves me and I him.  I met him at my previous job and "a drink or a bite to eat" turned into forever.  He is cautious, grounding, concerned, thoughtful, passionate, and maybe even more stubborn than myself.  He takes incredible care of Pooh Bear, myself, our cars, and our home.  Lesk is THE gift and saving grace of a life smashed and scattered by heartbreak and divorce.  I can honestly say I'm grateful to have a do-over with the very best man I've ever known. Also, if I had it all to do all over again, this is exactly how I'd do it.  The path makes me careful to appreciate and acknowledge what has brought me to the point, and I could not ask for more.  Thankfully, he, myself and my first husband, Buck have a good relationship, especially where our children are concerned.  Buck and Lesk remain generous and caring to all.  Buck is also remarried to a precious soul now.

I am still here.

As for being so very changed, it's this life surrounded on all sides by love and care that keeps me grounded and facing toward the sun.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Question of Healthcare

Hater of "Obamacare"?  Want it kicked to the curb?  Last week the Republicans voted to be rid of it for the fiftieth time.  I, on the other hand, am a fan of the Affordable Healthcare Act.  While those fighting against it must surely not be in need of healthcare or are sitting pretty with a nice cushy policy, my situation isn't so delightful.  

I've spent the last four years after my divorce (which meant giving up the best snappy little federal Blue Cross Blue Shield health care policy) working for insurance.  I found a job which matched my personality, family schedule, and included an option for insurance.  I did not understand just how poorly that insurance, also through Blue Cross Blue Shield, covered my needs and the expense of it all.  The option for insurance at the company was not a the benefit like it had been when I was a school teacher.  In the end, I was paying $180 a WEEK of my meager office job paycheck for a policy with a $5,000 deductible, an office visit, co-pay, and paid half of my very expensive meds needed occasionally for my Crohn's.  How expensive were my meds?  One thousand dollars for one month answers that question.  Though the work insurance plan covered a preventative colonoscopy, it did not cover for anyone with a problem (not the same as a pre-existing condition, mind you) without meeting the full 5K deductible first.  My gastroenterologist had a fit when I told him I couldn't afford to have him do what he needed to do to keep an eye on significant things like the early colon cancer detection.  I jacked up to the highest level of medical savings plan out of my small check just to be able to maybe cover one month of meds if needed.

When the Healthcare Marketplace opened, I waited for some of the kinks to get worked out and applied October 2013 thinking, "There is a good chance there is something more affordable than my costly work plan."  It took a couple of hours, which was spent looking for social security numbers, tax returns, and pay stubs.  Much to my surprise, the Marketplace said my new husband and I qualified for Bluecare/Tenncare which is Tennessee's uninsured program. People warned against state care, saying, "You can't pick your doctors, and the only ones on it are of poor quality."  However, I decided with the expense of my work policy made it important to pursue the option. 

I took off valuable work hours and went to my scheduled appointment with a social worker at the Department of Human Services.  Desperate people were all around me talking to one another about which pantry to ask for the next meal, state housing, and health problems between extended smoke breaks. Some smelled like alcohol sweats. Some people were literally talking to themselves.  One young father held his oversized jeans up by the crotch as if there were no other options. Human Services offered a slice of life I've not experienced since I lived in the city.  There were three security guides asking, "Are you applying for help today?" and kicking out those who were not. I waited more than an hour to have my social worker to take me through the locked doors to her office space.  Her desk looked as overwhelmed as she was- like an avalanche of paper and mayhem.  She typed my name in the computer but could not delete the records of other clients under the same last name on my profile.  Nothing she could do.  She looked at my numbers and said, "No matter what Marketplace says, you will not qualify for any state benefits.  Wait for a letter in the mail."  

I also want to explain what it meant to take off work with insurance being an option not a benefit at that job. In my case, if I'd ever taken off two days or more of work for any reason, I would have OWED money for my insurance out of the next week's check and not been paid for the three days I did work.  That is how expensive that insurance option ended up being!  

I got the letter stating disqualification from state benefits of any kind in the mail after a few weeks.  I went back to Marketplace and was told to appeal, so I could see other options.  I started the appeal process.  I got my first call from Marketplace to discuss my case during church on Sunday morning with no number to return the call.  They called again during work and scheduled a 7pm appointment call when I was home with all my financial and personal information.  Marketplace did not keep that appointment. They did not call to cancel either.  I got another call at work and scheduled a second night time appointment which they did not keep either.  Not long after and quite out of the blue, I got Bluecare insurance cards in the mail! Marketplace called back and told me to cancel my appeal if I was happy with Bluecare.  

I told the truth about the hassle of getting here, so now let me tell you the rest of the story.

I started discussing the implications of such a thing with the insurance lady at work just when managers at work demanded (not asked) me to return to a position I no longer wanted, because the department had "gotten behind in my absence". That job had become impossible and dreaded by me over the course of years.  Contrasted to the fabulous new position I was asked to leave, I realized it was vital for me to make a big change. I took a big girl pill and quit the dreaded job in hopes of finding something I'd enjoy doing forty hours of my week. 

I haven't found anything yet, but I have begun to use my Bluecare.  I developed a bump on the bottom of my foot and had to get it checked out.  I began also experiencing some Crohn's issue for the first time in a 18 months.  I called my family physicians of twenty years who graciously accepted my new insurance.  Really! The PA there sent me via referral to a foot doctor and a new gastroenterologist.  My former gastro doc who treated me for 20 years did not budge on taking Tenncare, and I respect his choice.  I held my breath on both referrals and after my visits.  I worried it might be lots like my Human Services visit.  However, I could not be more happy with the care with dignity they have provided to me so far.  I am set for a colonoscopy, unfortunate foot surgery, and got my big money meds.  The meds I paid $500 a month for with my work insurance cost $3 with Bluecare. Got that folks? My jaw dropped at the pharmacy when I was asked for the money.  I don't think I'm expected to pay for the other procedures.  I am full of gratitude and speechless at this turn of events.  Tell me how I couldn't be a fan of the Affordable Healthcare Act?

What is the lesson in all this?  I dare you to put me in the entitlement category after missing ONE sick day of work in the last four years, and paying dearly for not so hot insurance.  I will find another job, and I'll probably end up paying a heap for health insurance there too.   In this interim, I am not sweating bullets on what to corner to cut to afford, so I can live in wellness.  

If you hate "Obamacare" on some principle, consider also those in need and what prejudice you might hold. You might be surprised at who is experiencing something "for the people and by the people.


Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Happened Before

Let me go fight the world alone.
I will put on my work pants and a smile like nothing happened.
Like you didn’t just pull my hair to steal my icecream.
What does it matter anyway?  It’s only icecream.
I can get more, right?
And it’s cold outside.
Icey really.
It was never a game for me.
I don’t like playing. 
Tit for tat.
Exchanging my anger for yours.
I’m going to stand again.
 Stamp the snow off my shows.
Brush off my coat. 
It’s rough out there. 
But I’ve done it before without you standing behind me.
Rooting for me.
Back to getting what I deserve.
And facing the polar vortex without.
I don’t want to get used to it.

But just what if I do?

Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Message Not Sent

I did not send it. I would have to take out all of me and shoot much higher toward something Jesus offers.  I won't send it, but writing it down helps me understand myself.

"Why do you keep coming?   It certainly can’t be the warm reception of people glad to meet you.  How ironic that you would disrespectfully come in late, look directly at me, and instantly once recognition came, you added some kind of unkindness to your expression.   I noticed afterward your head down and how you refused to make eye contact. With anyone. Were you ashamed?  You sat off by yourself, to yourself.  Why bother?  Why come?  Are you making some kind of statement?  What circumstances would you want me to come to your son or daughter’s wedding?  I know that answer and sincerely wonder why you would welcome yourself to my oldest son’s most important day?   While you couldn’t have possibly ruined the moment for me, the glimpse of your happy yellow dress reminded me of your harsh judgment of who I am.   How could you come looking like a daisy on the outside with a heart of darkness towards me on the inside?  Deep down do you believe my children wanted you there?  Do you think it is difficult for them at all?  You have not made an effort to share yourself with them on any occasion, yet you appear on this day?  Whomever he chooses will need to overcome the destruction of his past and assure my children that more is not to come.  If not, they could never really love and trust.  Are you up for that?  Do you even care about that essential work of reconciliation?

A few years ago, when I first heard of you, I actually took up for you.  Rooted for you even. I prayed God would give him a good woman, who would help him through his pain and mess. When I learned of you, I thought this could be such an opportunity for his healing and wholeness.  I hoped you would bring peace to him and therefore my children. I told him from the beginning of the divorce process I wanted good things for him and his life, and I meant it.  I still mean it now.   I had no reason what so ever to believe that you would hold prejudice against me.  However, I understand you have said bitter things without even knowing me- how selfish I am.  If you ever tried to get to l know me, heard my heart and could still say the same things I’d understand, but we have never exchanged a spoken or written word.  Where do you judgments come from?  Who I am is easily known if you would have eyes to see beyond ONE wounded man’s opinion.  I understand we have mutual friends that might be glad to talk with you about me.  Ask them your hardest questions.  I have not one skeleton in my closet.  

Perhaps you think you are 'being there' for him- as if his dad isn't right at his side.  Is that enough to justify bringing ANY hint of animosity and distance to a joyful event?     

I would welcome love and kindness to any occasion.  If you would like to try, I am open.  If not, please consider that family events concern others beyond him and you."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

I removed the deep red long stem Valentine's Day roses from the tall glass vase this afternoon.  I know the old gardeners trick to remove all greenery from the stems from the water line and under, so the water was not stale and dank with slimy leaves. I am aware these fine deep red flowers will dry nicely as I bind them with ribbon and hang upside down in an open spot on the wall in my living room beside my son's photograph who is just about to graduate from basic military training next week.  I have two other similar happy bundles in my dining room; one from last Valentine's Day and another from my children the previous year.  My mind lingered back to my life two years before when I endeavored to treat the hearts and roses holiday as just another day. That Valentine's Day was nails on a chalkboard awful.  At that point, my divorce had been utterly finalized nearly a year before.  I'd spent the year before trying to make a beautiful new life for myself, and I'd just recently begun to realize a an ever present longing, a nagging of my soul, to be truly loved.  I tried to push the feeling away, curb it with friendships and nourishing things like exercise and silence.  God had been so good, gentle, kind, and remarkably visible and audible to me in a way He'd never been in those lonely single days.  I remember sharing my longing with Him and asking for Him to either take it away or make a way.   The longer the waiting went, the more disgruntled and dissatisfied I became with God.  In one passionate plea quite literally on my knees, He mercifully whispered "April" to me. I relaxed a bit and waited for my birthday, April 1.  I'm sure I had some delightful birthday fulfilled with my dear friend and her husband and family.  I was the proverbial third wheel same as ever.  As the month proceeded I got downright mouthy and petulant with God reminding Him that this was the month He was to come through.  I struck the days off to the bitter end of  the calendar month, half in protest and half in hope. I decided to be open minded to any prospect. On April 28th I got a call asking for a drink or dinner from someone  who works at the same company I do.  Plans for that took a few weeks to come together.  I was terrified that co-workers would find out (wasn't sure of policy) and we negotiated a fairly safe plan of contact which thankfully remained until we were ready to share our relationship publicly much later. His respect of me and my stature of single motherhood was evident from the start.  He offered me a true love I'd never known, and only now do I understand, a love not experienced by many.  Something rare and treasured...and faithful.  So, I've taken what he has offered me a give back to him in the same way.  We married New Year's Eve at the stroke of midnight.

I've shared a roller coaster year with my love in watching my oldest, Peace fall in love and also join the United States Air force.  This week my Pooh Bear was thrown from a frightened horse.  She suffered memory loss from a concussion and hurt positively everywhere.  Her memory of everything except the event has returned by God's good grace, but I have felt helpless and frightened while watching her confusion and pain.  My husband held my tear stained face in his hands at breakfast last week and assured me, "She is not alright just now, but I promise she will be."  His certainty astounds and comforts me, and she most certainly is much better this week.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Peace got sworn into the Air Force last week and is waiting to hear about when he will be assigned.  I hope to keep it together and not fall to pieces thinking about all that means.  I am satisfied with our relationship being so good at his impending departure.  In some ways, our recent closeness makes it more all the more painful for me as he prepares to fly. His precious girlfriend moved into her dorm  at Carson Newman, an hour away Friday, and I miss her presence around my house.  She's so everything I've wanted for my son, and if I have any perception left in me, I believe they are going to last. Peace and her entire family and her best friend settled her in...she had an entourage.  She called tonight saying she'd see me next weekend when she comes home to visit. Love that.

I'm in the middle of developing my relationship into something more with my person.  Relationships are fragile and complicated for me.  I want it all.  Everything.  It's what I'm willing to give.  I may come across as too much, but I'm not settling or overlooking anything this time. A friend of mine from work suggested he heard "me" in the song "Glass" by Thompson Square, and I think he's right on the money.  I am shaped by the light I let through me, and I am glass.  My participation in this new relationship has staggered and halted on my part so many times, because I don't want to be broken so wholly again.  Trusting in love is a new sport altogether for me.

Pooh Bear tried out for the local production of The Nutcracker yesterday.  Thanks to Svetlana, whose daughters participate every year, Pooh's dream of performing will be fulfilled.  Svet knows the ins and outs, the schedule, and can help Pooh Bear make it to practice when I cannot.  It also bears mentioning my girl did so well in trot at Nationals with the American Vaultling Association. Her courage astounds me.  This year she got a great teacher at school but is unhappy with not having a good friend in her class. 

Wise One switched from high school football to cross country after realizing he'd get to participate in the latter and practically never in the former.  He got good classes and great teachers. I see him putting effort and thought into this year already...something which did not happen last semester. So, so glad he is home, and I see joy in him. 

Tater changed schools and joined football there.  I pray he sticks to it! We talk sometimes, but I don't see him often enough as he lives with his dad.  I let it be his call which is the only way things work between us.

I try hard not to look back at what could have been still.  The changes over the last three years reflect in the eyes and habits of my children.  I'd describe this mostly as reluctant independence. God knows, if I could rewrite the past, I would.  I am writing feverishly a new life, a beautiful life after.  Now If I could just breathe...exhale as I watch my children grow into the people they will become.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peace meets with an army man tonight. a dad from Scouts.  They are discussing the military as Peace wants to join the Air Force. Peace's taken the entrance exam and will be meeting with recruiters for the third time next week.  I'm not sure how much I've done wrong or right to have a son headed this direction.  He's more whole world minded than most people I know, and I'm not sure how that matches up with U.S. military folk. 

 The pacifist side of me knows I tried to raise a non-violent citizen of the world.  Turns out, he is such a person.  He loves diverse cultural experiences.  He values and respects differences. He hopes to get a position taking photos not shots in the airforce.  Is this possible?

  Part of me that knows I could only have a chance at being a pacifist, because there are men and women who lay down their own lives for my freedom every. single. day.  So, I'm proud my son would be that kind of individual.

  A few years ago when Peace mentioned his interest in the military, I made him watch any war movie I could get my hands on...Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Hot Locker.  He stopped talking about it for a while.  College visits and discussions took over.  As a senior this last year, he did a paper on drone airplanes in robotics class and revisited the service option.  He's moving forward slowly, so as not to choose a position without full understanding.  He wants a job that he will love, and the army man is helping him select at this moment.