One of my favorite movies is the quirky flick Love Actually.  Above is one of my favorite scenes.

And it’s also, in my head, renamed Cautionary Tale. 

I’m talking about that Laura Linney character, you know the one who revolves her life around her mentally ill brother?  Yeah, that one.

The character who foregoes love because her brother’s illness is constantly interrupting her life?  Yeah, that one.

Being in charge of a mentally ill sibling isn’t for the faint of heart.  And it’s also not something you can anticipate how to balance, how to juggle, how to maintain.

I can’t say I’m very good at it, at all.  I forget at times just how ill my brother is.  I’m reminded of that this week.  Sometimes it feels like my life revolves around trying to keep him out of the hospital.  Yet other times, our connection is absolutely breathtaking.  Stability is a word not often associated with mental illness.  Unless in the context of something to hope for, to strive for.

He finally just answered his phone after many attempts to contact him all morning.  He has a Psychiatrist appointment today that he really needs to go to. They are not easy to get in the system he’s plugged in to. The voices have escalated in the last week, the day program he’s in has called me twice in the last few days, concerned about him.

He’s refusing to go to the appointment today yelling at me “I’m too ill Kathy, I can’t leave the house!”.

My father leaves to be out of the country tomorrow for a three week trip.  I don’t want to worry him about John before he leaves.  Maybe that’s why John is escalating, who knows?

Luckily we’ve worked it out where John lives about 3 minutes from my house.  I won’t share how many times I’ve run over there to just check on him, sometimes in my pajamas.  It’s good that he’s so close and not good in some ways.

I decided this morning to go against my hypervigilance and not run over there.  Yet here I am, writing about him, worried.

I keep going back to that Laura Linney character.

My life generally revolves around supporting others and being their backup person.  My job is defined by that.  Being single I get ground down to nothing sometimes in this role.  I know I’m not alone in this position on the planet.

Speaking of my job, I have a client who is also a cautionary tale for me in some ways.  She came in yesterday.  Her autistic son has been seriously decompensating over the last couple of years.  He’s a teenager and they can barely find a school that will take him.  There have been threats, assaults on teachers, restraining orders, arrests, scary stuff.  She’s now trying to figure out if some kind of residential program will be the thing to keep him out of jail.  We all hear stories of kids who go in and shoot up a school.  I feel like I’m seeing the genesis of this kind of horror unfold before my eyes through her own words.  It’s actually pretty terrifying what’s been going on. I find myself, in my head, thinking “well I would never do that” but then I wonder.  I remember my role is to support her and her well being, so that’s always my default position.  Luckily she almost never asks my advice.

Her life revolves around care taking him and she sees no alternative for the rest of her life.  He has assaulted her many times.  She tries to craft ways to remodel her home where she can create a safe house inside it to sequester  herself in to if needed.  From her own son.

These are realities people deal with with mental illness in the family.

It can swallow an entire family, whole.

John just hung up on me again after yelling “nobody cares about me Kathy” as he’s completely paranoid.  While at the same time promising me he’s going to take the half of his medication he didn’t take last night.

I guess I’m signing off now to stop off over there on my way to work.  It’s just the way it is.

Revolving your life trying to keep someone out of the hospital is not a life I want any of us to be living.

Sometimes things need to escalate to find a new solution.

So today, especially today, I’ll be paying attention.  And hopefully being guided to the right combination of words to convince him to let me take him to that Dr. appointment.   And hopefully not landing in the Emergency Room again by day’s end.

Update:  deep breath.  John just answered the phone, I found the right words to say to him that he has to let me take him to the Dr. today and he agreed.  I’m very fortunate in that he is usually completely compliant with me.  His illness isn’t all the time but my dear brother deep down in there, trusts me.  Unlike my client, I’ve never felt unsafe with John.  The good fortune I have with that basic yet tremendous thing is not lost on me.





I’ll warn you on the front end, this post is gonna ramble.  Because that’s where my head is at right now, thoughts popping like fireflies and I’m following their dance and see where it takes me.  I’m relieved to feel this movement as, honestly, the last two weeks have been rough.  I mean emotionally rough.  Who knows why?  It happens, cycles happen.

It’s the nature of most minds, definitely my mind, to try and figure everything out.  Why am I in this funk?  What is causing it?  Is it physical? Emotional? Am I missing a nutrient?  Oh I missed several days of my hormones, that’s it!  Oh wait, it’s still here.  Then maybe it was all that dark writing, was that good for me?  Blah blah freaking blah the mind goes on and on with that clock face spinning and spinning searching desperately for the problem then the answer will be not far behind!  I’m just sure of it!

What if the problem was actually the searching?

When they do all those intake forms for menopause issues, one of the terms that comes up frequently is a symptom of internal tension.  Well let me tell you, most of every day over the last week or so, I knew exactly what they are talking about.  This unrelenting pressure inside of your very being that is a loud resonant knock knock knock on your brain.  It commands your attention.  It bubbles over at anything and everything it finds deserving of it’s unique brand of sharing.  Then it retreats, only to build again.  Let’s just say there were quite a few apologies flowing out of my mouth to my brother on our trip to Sedona.  “I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling like myself and I don’t mean to take it out on you”.  He always just replies “it’s ok Kathy”  or “it’s ok, I know you’re stressed” or one time he just replied by taking out the garbage without having to be asked.   He listens. He’s actually a soothing balm for me with his unique brand of tolerance.

Last night I got to think about this going on.  How to shake it, wondering when it was going to pass, when those hormone creams were gonna finally kick in, I mean it’s been four full days since I got back on them.  Four full freaking days already!

So I allowed my mind to wander in a different direction when I got home from a movie with some friends.  A very intense thought provoking film that is honestly my favorite activity when I’m in this state.  Let me sit in a dark cool movie theatre and watch someone else play out my angst on a screen.  It’s heaven.

I was also struck by a conversation after the movie that got me thinking about labels.  How we are so quick to want to label our discomfort so we can as quickly as possible, find the remedy.  And how we go down all these dead ends and wrong turns chasing those labels and cures.  How I’ve done that I mean.

All of this pressure, all of this just being over my own damn self, led me to remember one of my favorite all time poems that I visit and revisit when there is any need for it’s particular medicine.  I’ll just go ahead and share it right now.  I also found an interesting blog with some interesting analysis on it.  I’ve seen this poet, David Whyte, recite this poem twice in person and his own sharing of what it means or meant to him.  I’ll just say I’m glad this poem is on the planet as it’s been good medicine for me on many occasions.  Many.

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Turn to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte
The House of Belonging
Many Rivers Press, 1998

This poem always makes me think about seeds.  About how they absolutely need those  essential elements of time and darkness and aloneness in order to sprout.  They do it all on their own, in their own time and with the right conditions they evolve in to a masterpiece.

They need that darkness and sweet confinement of their aloneness.

To a seed, it’s absolutely sweet.  To me, sometimes, it’s my own version of Hell.

I need to revisit this experience, this revelation, over and over in my life.  Each and every time I forget.  This poem has become a compass to me, yet it doesn’t mean I don’t stop forgetting.  This is maybe the one and only most important lesson in my life.  To accept these periods of darkness and seeding.

I had a Myofascial release treatment this past week and didn’t my body just curl right up in to that seed posture.  All on it’s own.

I felt all week and much of the last two weeks that I just wanted to be home.  I wanted to be home in my little comfy chair with my comfy blanket or in my bed.

And at the same time, I found myself resenting all the fun people out there in the world having fun while I was sitting here stuck in a near state of paralysis.  That judging judging mind loves to take all kinds of trips.  The Road to Self Pity is a favorite jaunt.  The I’m Going to Stay Stuck Like this Forever is a picnic it loves to pack.  The I Am Really All Alone In This World is one it will purchase a ticket for.

Yet life rafts come in all forms I’ve noticed.

Sometimes they come in the form of someone else’s pain.  I ran in to a girl online who was sharing her misery over a relationship that’s going south.  I thought what can I say to her?  Well, that’s when I realized it was really David Whyte who held the answer so went looking for his poem.  Which was of course for me.

So back to seeds.  I wake up this morning, laid in my bed for a moment to assess the emotional terrain.  Is it still there I asked my mind?  Well, there was a feeling of freedom that it had somehow started moving.  Of course even the asking of the question brought back a shimmer of that dark cloud but I was able to move much more quickly from my bed.  It’s kind of like your entire leg having fallen asleep but you can begin to move your foot.  Like that.

I came downstairs wondering if I had anything to write today, any thoughts in my head worth sharing. Any organized enough to even be translatable.

So I signed on to Facebook first.  And I ran in to this photo.


I became instantly captivated with this photo.  Looking at the jars, the seeds inside, the book in the background, the granite countertop, seeing she has a Blendtec blender vs. the Vitamix I’d gotten for my birthday, wondering what the greens are in her smoothie until all that wandering through that photo, through that looking glass, led me to think “Why am I not making my smoothies anymore?”.

Something happens when that paralysis takes over me that I forget even the simplest steps to take care of myself.  It’s these moments I realize the impact of growing up without a mother had on me.  I know very well how to kick in to auto pilot to take care of others but when it’s me, my mind goes blank each and every time.

Sometimes I’m lucky and a friend just steps in.  But most of the time I’m suffering in silence and stuck, forgetting even the basics.

So this photo and it’s pulling me in like those sidewalk chalk drawings did on Mary Poppins, was God’s way of sending me a life raft.

Now let me tell you a little something about the girl who took this photo, the smoothie maker.  Her name is Elisha and I met her through the Travis Alexander trial.  She was a very very good friend of Travis’.

I remember the first time I met her.  First of all, she’s strikingly beautiful.  I mean seriously head turning.  Tall, lean, gorgeous red hair, one of those interesting faces you just want to keep looking at.

I got instant tears in my eyes looking at this photo of us again and noticing for the first time it appears I am hanging on to Elisha for dear life.  See how my hands are clasped around her so tightly?  When you read what comes next, you may understand what I was grasping.  Her clarity.  This photo was taken the day the guilty verdict was handed down in Travis trial.


What has left the greatest impression on me about Elisha is her absolute level of realness.  She is a photographer so clearly has that artist’s soul and keen eye.  I remember sitting there on that outdoor sofa with her the day I met her and just feeling so much, it was almost hard to even speak.  Her pain at losing her very very good friend was so raw and so real.   She shared some highly personal stories with me about her relationship with Travis that I still remember every single detail of.  They had a very special soulmate type relationship although it was entirely platonic.  I’m actually feeling the exact feeling I had that day right now while she was speaking as I’m writing this.  Being in the presence of that kind of authenticity sometimes is just daunting.

I remember Elisha giving me a message that day about forgiveness.  About how she received a message from Travis saying we all needed to forgive his killer Jodi Arias.  Her commitment to this feeling, this knowing, was so strong.

The day of the verdict, Elisha went on national TV talking about that forgiveness.  This girl has balls I tell you.  In a moment like that when the collective community is immersed in vengeance, she’s talking, on camera, about forgiveness.  She is a living legacy to Travis Alexander.

So this morning I’m captivated by Elisha’s simple photograph really talking about these jars she got at the dollar store.

Then I realized.  Those are all seeds in those jars.  This photo is an homage to the importance of seeds.  But seeds in a particular moment in their life cycle. Seeds soaking in water in order to break down their outer shell, to release their life force.

I realized then and there that this is the moment I’m experience right now.  That moment in the second stage right here:


Can you see how delicate that second stage of development is?  It’s just barely begun to peek out of all of that hard protection.  It must surely have to build up a ton of internal tension in order to bust out like that!  After realizing it’s safe to come out and express itself.  But it took it’s own sweet time to get there.  In the third photo it’s starting to develop a bit more of a support system but that second one is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where all the vulnerability lies.  And yet it still can’t help but be moved to move.  To become more than it knew possible inside itself.

We all love to stop and smell the roses.  To rejoice at those beautiful blooms everywhere.  The poor seed often gets neglected.

Peonies are my favorite flower so I went in search of peony seeds this morning, never having seen one.  Check this out.

Peony seed pods-cr

Now those peony seeds themselves look so protected, such a hard shell.  But they’ve added a whole other level of protection to sequester themselves in.  I wonder how many layers I have.  How many will I bust through to land in to something like this?

pink peony bloom

All unfurled and ruffled and displaying a pattern but no pattern at the same time.  Just a full explosion of bloom.  I can relate to this.

A seed knows it’s place in the world and does everything it can possibly do to protect that residence.

Why do I keep thinking I need to pull myself out of that germination prematurely over and over again?

Today I thank that tiny sprout that’s begun to take that journey in to the unknown.  That little white sprout that trusts and eagerly reaches out without fear.  That sprout that remains fully connected to it’s container as that seed sacrifices it’s life so it can develop in to what it was born to be.

So today I will be going to the dollar store to get those jars.  Then the health food store to get the seeds Elisha recommended.  And tomorrow to make my smoothies again, thanking each and every one of those seeds as they sacrifice their potential for my own.

Thank you David Whyte and Elisha for helping me remember.  For helping me see.  And Elisha, I’m going to set about forgiving myself today for forgetting.  In you and Travis’ honor.





Painting by our cousin Keith Eveland


This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of my father, Jack.  I took it myself.  There he is in his favorite perch in the world I think…or at least right up there.  At the head of the table in our dining room at the Monkeyspoon cottage at Wells Beach Maine.  My father has been going there, literally, since he was in the womb.  I’ve been going there nearly as long, maybe shave off 7 years or so.

In this picture my father is wearing his then favorite hat.  A “Hobie Cat” hat he found in tatters on the beach during a beach walk.  It already had a hole in it when he found it, which obviously could be the reason it was discarded in the first place.  But my Dad patched that hole up with something–some kind of fabric he found somewhere else- and wore it for years.  I mean, for years.   Until it just disintegrated.  That little story sums up many things about my father.  I only wish I had a clue of what they are.

You can see the twinkle in his eye and his sky blue eyes.  My Dad has the most unusual color of eyes I think I’ve seen.  They are this light blue that somehow is a color right in between the ocean and the sky.  Which in itself in descriptive of my Dad as well.

My father’s life has been touched by more tragedy than I think anyone I will ever meet.  By the age of 35 he’d lost both his father and wife, the mother of his three children, to Cancer.  His first born was murdered and his youngest succumbed to Schizophrenia.  Yet my father has always maintained his childlike spirit.


I think that photo kind of sums it up, especially the two pairs of boxers.  I’m sure the one peeking out underneath was equally as festive.  My Dad has one of the most playful spirits and the biggest laugh of anyone I know.  Cindy and he really played off each other in that way.  I remember how heartily she would make him laugh.  I miss that.

My Dad grew up in NYC, an only child and, like us kids, lived in a household with his grandparents (Buddha’s parents).  My Grandfather who I only met when I was a baby, was very successful and my Dad went to Ivy League Schools and prep schools.  Here is a photo of him on a cruise at what looks like age 3 maybe?  He still has those same legs!


Although he was raised in a life of pretty distinct privilege, he taught his own children much deeper values.  Thank God for that as who knew we would need that sustenance through this life.  I would say the biggest lesson my father has taught me has something to do with resiliency and not losing your spark.  And that he’s taught me by example.


I can’t think of a situation or event or conversation where I’ve felt my father ever judged me.  Ever.  Sure he was disappointed in me at times, who isn’t?  But I feel safe to say I’ve not for one minute ever felt judged by my father.  I’ve always felt like he saw the best in me.  That in itself is a very rare gift a parent offers a child, I know.  He clearly taught this to my brother as he’s exactly the same way with me.  How fortunate I feel right now just writing this out.


I’ve always found it kind of unusual that my father raised me but we pronounce the word orange differently.  He says “ah range” and I say “oar ange”.  How did this come about I wonder?

I remember going to Sunday School in early grade school and asking the teacher what made Jesus different from my own father?  It was an honest question.  I remember the room I was in when I asked it, probably the 2nd grade class room.  I just distinctly remember her describing Jesus and thinking “so what, my Dad is exactly like that”.  No offense Jesus, just keepin it real.

When I was the only kid in my 3rd grade class to raise my hand to volunteer to take the bus to “the black neighborhood” at the advent of integration, I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my father I was going on this adventure as I knew he’d be so proud of me.  And he was.

I felt the same way when I announced just six months after graduating from college and getting a good job, buying a new car, that I was moving to Mexico on a whim for love.  I just didn’t feel afraid he would try and talk me out of it.  I got so many heart felt letters from my father, quoting Gibran and sharing his innermost thoughts while I lived in Mexico.  Maybe there was something about me taking that crazy risk that he wished he’d done himself once so was living vicariously through me.


This picture was taken on my 40th birthday.  My father and I also went on this wild and amazing culinary/wine tour through Quebec for my 50th birthday.  I couldn’t imagine anyone I’d rather have been with than my father for that milestone.  I remember the day we landed in Quebec City and he was concerned about his ability to walk all around those cobblestone streets and was just telling me to go off and he’d wait for me in this gorgeous hotel there.  But as we rose up on this contraption like a sideways elevator, this is what we walked right in to.


After that informative and fun horse drawn carriage ride all over the city, we stopped for hot chocolate here:


My Dad isn’t a big wine/foodie like I am in the same ways I am but he embraced the whole trip.  I have to say though by the end of those seven days of 4 course meals, all we wanted was a big hamburger and some fries.

When I reflect on my father I think of a person who almost never complains.  He gets frustrated at things like technology not working, losing keys, bad drivers but the real things that matter, he just doesn’t complain.  I wish I had more of that in me.  I sometimes wish I still called him Daddy.  I’m glad I tell him I love him in every phone conversation.

I’ve made Tollhouse cookies for my father on nearly every birthday and Father’s Day my entire life.  I had a weird week so my butter is softening on the counter as I write this.  But they will at least be baked today, sent out tomorrow.


He calls them “Heavens”.  Not sure where we got that one going.   It’s worth it to always see this expression on his face when you hand him a plate of Heavens right from the oven.  Note the glass of cold milk in my other hand.  I feel sure Cindy took this photo as she’d have been totally involved with this surprise, it was probably her idea.

It’s hard to know what to get my Dad now for presents.  He lives very simply, still mostly on the road and out of his RV.  So stuff is kind of a nuisance.

I was thinking yesterday that I think I’m giving him the best Father’s Day gift he could ever get.  The promise that I will take care of John for the rest of our lives.  It wasn’t always like that.  I can only imagine how it felt for my Dad wondering what would become of John over time.  Now I hope I’ve taken that worry from him as I will not ever abandon John and I will hold vigil over his well being as best I can.

That and Tollhouse Heavens that are on their way.  That and this love letter I’m composing right here.

Thank you Dad for teaching me more about heart and less about things.  Thank for crafting me in to the sentimental fool that I am who will always see you like Jesus in that way I did in the second grade for the duration of this life.

I will do my best for the rest of my days to make you proud.

I love you.





Last night I went to sleep under a blanket of stars.  I’m not kidding.

John and I met The Boys (Rob and Sean) for a really interesting film and because it was so thought provoking, I was up for about three more hours when we got back home.

After crashing in John’s incredibly comfortable recliner, I finally crawled up to bed at 2 am.

As we still have no window coverings and there are two panoramic windows in that bedroom, I felt like I was in an open tree house overlooking the clear night sky.

I pulled back the comforter and what happened next startled me right awake again.

Just the motion of folding back that comforter caused what I can only describe as sparklers going off all over the bed.  I gasped at first thinking maybe the bed was full of bugs that were somehow scattering and glowing in the dark.

I quickly turned on the light and saw just a normal bed.

Turning the light back off, I spread the comforter back again only to see these tiny fireworks sparkling under my hand again.  I kept doing it and doing it, running my hand over and over the bed and could see, and feel now, it was the static electricity creating this midnight light show.

I even pulled out my iPhone and tried to record it yet nothing came through except the rustling sound of my hand across the linens and tiny crackling sounds if you listened hard enough.

I finally just decided to lay back and pull those twinkling sheets over me and fall asleep while I kept smoothing my hand over and over that blanket of stars feeling its luminescent magic carry me in to the dreamtime.

Sedona is surely becoming a magical place for us.  Sleeping under, and within, the stars.

Artwork:  Blanket of Stars by Aimee Sicuro




As you’ve probably noticed, I’m just winding my way around this blog.  There’s no real plan or chronology.  I’ve just decided this is a place where I can wander aimlessly and so I’m writing about what I’m thinking about in the moment.

I woke up this morning thinking “why have I been in such a funk the last week or so?” and realized, duh, I’ve been out of my bio identical hormones all week and they are ready to be picked up at the pharmacy.  It’s rare that I’m in a downslide that I can’t shake pretty quickly anymore.  Menopause is not something to be taken lightly.  Thankfully, with the miracle of modern (or not so modern) chemistry, I’ll be perked up in just an hour or so when I go pick up my relief from my middle aged self.  Whew!

I’m sure it also may have something to do with these paths I’ve been backtracking in to this week.  I also had a deep Myofascial Release treatment this week with it’s own excavation.  Duh.

I can’t seem to shake these memories of my relationship with Marjorie, my stepmother.  I really didn’t want this blog to become all about that.  And I promise it won’t.  My hormonally unbalanced mind has just been consumed with these reflections this week.  So I guess this time is as good as any to finish the story, at least for now.

I will say that I received a note from someone that caused me to erupt in to spontaneous tears this week (at work which was interesting).   One of Marj’s niece’s wrote me and told me she’d been reading the blog and said she was sorry all we endured with her and that she’d still like to be friends.  I was so relieved she didn’t hate me for saying these things publicly.  I’ve held them in for decades now and I really am not trying to hurt anyone by putting them out there.  I’ve talked to my Dad and John in person now about this stuff but her family…well, you know.  But it is our story and this is the place where I’m telling real events while hopefully offering some perspective and a light at the end of the tunnel.  So, that note in itself was a miracle for me this week and I so appreciate it.

As related in this story, that Maine trip was the last time I saw Marj in person.  The last time I saw her she was in midstream composing a letter to me as I sat in the same room all the way across the country.  And she mailed that letter the day I left.  That’s just how impossible it was for her to communicate with me directly.  I think of myself generally as pretty approachable but I’m sure all my defenses were up with her much of the time so none of it was easy.  But those long venting, analyzing letters…as I told her, they were the kind you write in your journal or to the person that you never send.  But she managed to get them in an envelope and stamped and mailed.  I can only imagine what she might have felt when she dropped them in the post box after all that effort.

I came home from Maine that year and told my then therapist about the events that had gone on.   Her name was Wendy.  I told her about the blow up over the memorial service, various other conflicts over the week like when Marj blurted at me “you’re almost 40 years old, isn’t it time you started acting like it?”.  No one in our family is mature Marj, including and especially my father, the man you married.  That’s part of our Monkman charm. She was just so serious.  I have to say, I suffer from the same ailment sometimes.

Wendy said this to me in that session “now you know you are going to receive that letter.  I don’t care if she puts $1000 in there or you just get curious.  I don’t care if it’s 2 in the morning and you get impulsive and want to open it.  You call me and I will talk you off the ledge.  You are going to send that letter back ‘return to sender’ as you promised her you would, otherwise your word means nothing here”.  I’d told her that Marj had figured out I’d stopped reading the documents in prior years, like when she’d tell me they were going to a wedding or something and I responded “oh so and so is getting married?  I didn’t know that” and she sadly replied “well I wrote you about it”. We both knew.

So she’d start writing things on the outside of the envelope to get me to read it.  Things like “check enclosed”.  And there always was one, she wasn’t lying.  She was just buying my readership.

True to form, a week after I’d left Maine, the document arrived.  That fat envelope overstuffed with feelings.  The venting was palpable.  Chubby, soft, bloated in that envelope barely enclosed by the licked seam straining to hold the momentum of all that need.

I did what I’d promised, almost immediately. The same day for sure.  I wrote “RETURN TO SENDER” on the outside and a small note.  Something like “I’ve told you these letters are destructive to our relationship. If you have something to talk about, you need to pick up the phone and call me”.

And that, was that.

Until, of course two weeks later when I came home from work to her recorded message on my voice mail.

She’d waited until she knew I’d be at work because, again, she wasn’t looking for a conversation, she was just seeking a receptacle.

She started her message out with “Dear Kathy…”.  I’m not kidding you.  She was reading that letter in to my voice mail.  But she’d clearly redacted it and in that stunted, unflowing rhythm of a script, she read that severance package to be recorded.

I don’t even remember much of it.  But what I do remember was this “since you refuse to communicate with me, I am cutting off our relationship.  I love you.  I will always be there for you in an emergency if you need me.  But I can no longer tolerate your abuse.  So I am severing ties with you.  Love, Mom”. 

It went on for 5 solid minutes, at least.  Every bit of it read from a script.  Not one word of spontaneity.

I felt just sick and relieved at the same time.  She’d thrown down a serious gauntlet.  You see our family was already dealing with several fractures, Cindy’s murder a decade before, John’s struggling and disenfranchisement from the family, my Grandma’s death and now this.  But this one was on purpose.  Could I actually be a participant in yet another trauma to my family?

I saw Wendy that week and took the message to her.  I dialed my number and the code for remote listening and sat across from her on the couch as she sat quietly in front of me at her desk, listening intently for the entire five minutes.

I’ll never forget what came next.

Wendy very slowly and calmly placed the receiver in the cradle and looked at me and paused.

Deliberately and carefully she chose her words.

“Kathy, there are three things I want you to know right now.  The first is, I am physically nauseous after listening to that message.  I am sitting here literally feeling sick to my stomach right now after listening to that.  The second thing is, that is not love.  Don’t get confused.  I am a mother and that is not how a loving mother speaks to their child.  That is manipulation and control. That is not a person who deeply loves you.  And the third is, let her go.  It’s time.  Don’t go chasing after her.  Just let her go“.

Well you can imagine the  mixed emotions I felt but I knew she was right.  We talked a lot about manipulation, abuse, psychological warfare.  But the end result was just that, she’d set me free and I needed to keep moving.  So that’s what I set about doing.  I never talked to my Dad about it, I just kept moving forward.  I never replied to that voice mail in any form.

My 40th birthday came just a couple of months after that.  I invited my Dad to come out and help me celebrate this milestone.  I knew that was going to be hard.  He hemmed and hawed about coming by himself but clearly I didn’t invite her, just him.  Right up to the last minute, he called and said something about “we” coming and I had to deal with it.  I had to say that this invitation was extended to him alone and I hoped he would come.  He ultimately did but I know what kind of torture that was for him on some level.  I’m sure she didn’t make it easy for him.  I just know she didn’t.

I can’t say it was easy for me either and was kind of bittersweet having him out but by the same token, I wanted to be with my Dad for this milestone.  It was just such a visible sign of that chasm in the family.

Later that year I suffered a set back in the anxiety disorder I’d been battling for over a decade by that point.  I’d gone to get on a plane headed for a family reunion in Florida.  Finally a family trip where Marj would not be as she was sick and just out of the hospital.  My cousins and aunts and uncles (we don’t have many) would all be there.  It was a big birthday party for our Aunt Natalie–maybe 90.  I was so excited to see everyone!

I got on the plane and was stricken with a massive anxiety attack, got to Las Vegas and just couldn’t get on the connecting flight.  I had to abort the entire trip in the middle of the night and beg them to fly me back to Phoenix on their last trip of the day.  It was devastating and humiliating to me.  I’d been dealing with this anxiety recovery for a long time but the plane phobia wouldn’t release it’s death grip on me.  It was the first to come and the last to go.

I really fell in to a very dark hole after that episode.  I got an emergency appointment with Wendy that next day as she could hear the desperation in my voice.  I remember her putting me to bed in her guest room and making me sleep there for awhile (she had a home office) as she was afraid to send me home after the appointment.  It was the one and only time she ever did anything like that. She was afraid for me to even drive. I had been up all night, literally, trying to get back home.  It did end up being a turning point though.  Sometimes, as a good Scorpio, I’ve had to crash and burn then rise from the ashes.  And rise, I did.  More on that in another entry.  Suffice to say I fly everywhere I want to go now, totally anxiety free.

Now, Wendy’s unusual rescue that day is what I would call mothering and something I eat up with a spoon when ever it’s offered to me like that.   Still to this day I crave that kind of nurturing and soak it up like a dry sponge when it’s offered.

Marj though managed from her sick bed, to get someone to go out and purchase a “Get Well” card to send me after she’d heard I’d fallen like that.  Now mind you, she didn’t send me a card or gift for my 40th birthday but managed to get that card to me for my personal crisis-one I was barely discussing with anyone outside of my therapy.  Naturally though my father would have mentioned it as my absence at the reunion was obvious.  I’d tried to blame my breakdown on a bad reaction to a Tylenol PM that I took before I got on the plane to help me sleep on the red eye.   I asked him to tell the family that as I was just so disappointed and embarrassed by my weakness.  I’m sure he told Marj the truth though, that the phobia had won, once again.  Which was the truth.

She wrote something inside like “I heard about your difficulties, I hope you get well soon and get the help you need”.  Now on the outside, the purchaser of that card, I imagine the person she asked to write my address on the envelope, would naturally think “how considerate” for her to do that.  But I knew what it was all about.  More of her need to point out my  failings.  It was as if she delighted in celebrating them.  So she bought a card!  I never acknowledged it.  It was nothing more than salt in the wound for me.  Again, she just couldn’t help herself.

Within six months of her severance of our relationship, Marj developed, what I was told, three…three concurrent autoimmune disorders going on simultaneously in her body.  It didn’t hit me right away, but as a body/mind therapist, the light bulb did go on eventually.  An autoimmune disorder, by definition, is the body attacking itself.  That’s exactly what killed her two years later.  Her intestines were literally disintegrating from the internal war going on.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s where that venom went when it no longer had an external outlet.  For some reason, she didn’t seem as satisfied taking it out on males.  My brother didn’t get the brunt of it.   The worst always were Cindy and Buddha.  I was pretty shielded when Cindy was around (note she beat me that last time when Cindy was far away in college in Florida).  Once Cindy and Buddha were gone, it all became directed my way and once that source of relief was cut off then…..

It makes me wonder.

I did receive some correspondence from one of her sisters during those two years wondering where I was, why was I abandoning my Dad and Marj during these medical crises.  She was in and out of the hospital that entire two years in various levels of acuity.  I had asked my Dad directly if he felt he needed me there and he said no every time, that he was handling it ok.  It was beyond awkward.  I can’t say I handled it well.  I just kind of checked out.

I never directly talked  with the family about her severing ties with me I don’t think.  If I told anyone, it was my cousins Leslie and Katy.  But I’ll tell you this.  I saved that message on my recorder for five years.  Those entire two years and then three years after she died.  I was afraid to erase it. It was some kind of insurance policy against something.  I was afraid she’d try to blame the entire thing on me abandoning her and I needed that evidence.  That it was her decision.  And I just didn’t protest.  One day, I went to re-save it and it was just gone.  Poof!  Done.

I didn’t go to Marj’s funeral and honestly that was legit.  I had grounded myself from trying to fly again after that Las Vegas debacle for two years.  I didn’t travel.  I just set about healing myself (and I did).  This was during that time and her funeral was in rural Mississippi and would have required two planes each way (at least) and driving after that.  It wasn’t an easy trip.  I also didn’t want to show no presence so I wrote a tribute and sent it for my Aunt Carolyn to read , she’s an amazing speaker.  I dug deep and told the truth about good memories and positive things about Marjorie and I was 100% sincere.  She wasn’t all bad and I wasn’t not sad about her death.  As you can imagine my feelings were very conflicted.   But relief was right up there toward the top.   I hope it’s the only time in my life I feel relief at someone’s death.  Well, I guess there is one more and you can just guess who that is and it involves an execution but that’s not even in the same stratosphere.  I’d never compare Marj to him.  Not in a million years.

I found out the following year that she’d cut John and I out of her Will.  Honestly I probably would have felt ambivalent about inheriting from her seeing we’d been in that place of severance there at the end.  But not my mentally ill brother.  What was up with that?  As he said to me recently, as in this week, “she always thought we were so fucked up and that her family was so perfect”.   So maybe when all was said and done, she was celebrating that reality, her reality, in that way.  All I can say is once I saw that, I was really glad I’d not made the effort to attend her funeral, deal with the flying torture only to land in a church somewhere having to listen to people talking about what a wonderful mother she’d been.  Just the thought of that…

In hindsight though I could have considered the tens of thousands her nieces and nephews got, had I received even a fraction of that, as payback of some sort for all the money I shelled out in therapy all those years undoing the damage inflicted on me by her.  But I can at least hold my dignity in that I owned my recovery in every way, shape and form.

Needless to say I doubt any of her family ever knew the Will issue until I started writing about it.  Which is ok with me, both parts of that sentence.  I don’t even think she told her sisters that we’d been severed.  That is so foreign to me as I told my sister everything. 

Maybe through writing all of this out, getting it off my chest, I will come to some true forgiveness and ultimate letting go with Marjorie.  She was in my life for thirty years.  She was a huge part of my father’s life.  He sincerely loved her and that should mean something to me.  I will spread his ashes over her grave one day, at least part of them, per his request.  And maybe then,  maybe by then, I’ll be able to remember sincerely the positive aspects she brought in to my life, even if they were lessons.  And maybe I’ll be able to tell her directly or as directly as I can now.

One thing she did teach me is to never, for any reason, under any circumstances, disrespect someone in death as you memorialize them.  So, that’s the legacy I will live and the karma I will choose.  Now that I’m writing this, I’ve decided I will even bring her flowers and I will be sincere placing those on her grave with my heart open as wide as it can be.

Now that feels right.  That feels like me.

Better late than never.





I think Laura Peralta was the most beautiful woman I will ever meet in my entire life.  Inside and out.

I remember when my friend Wendy introduced me to her.  I’d told Wendy about this incredible movie “The Hours” that I’d seen and wanted to go see it again.  She asked if her friend Laura who I’d heard so much about could come along.  “Sure!” I answered.

I saw that deep film about these different women’s stories of depression, despair, redemption twice in the same week.

I remember my first impression of Laura, that she was almost too gorgeous to look at.  Kind of like looking directly in to the sun.  How does a person like this really exist not up on a screen?


Honestly I was pretty intimidated when I’d first met her..and had formed certain impressions about a woman that beautiful.  Until she opened her mouth when we went out for a drink after the movie to talk about it.  She had this gorgeous Argentinian accent and this woman was deep.  Everything about her had me captivated.  She was kind of this other worldly creature I’d not encountered before.  She looked like a movie star but was as down to earth as Wendy who is very earthy.

I got to know Laura over the years, not nearly as well as Wendy knew her of course but every time I saw her, she acted so excited to see me and wasted no time going straight to the heart of any matter.  Maybe Laura knew her time was limited so she made the most of it.  I treated her a few times for a hip thing and even then, she went deep the moment she got on my table.  She just was something else.  The kind of person I might be intimidated by but her energy was so connecting that I always felt inspired instead.  She was sincerely a role model to me but one that was a star you’d set your sights on hoping to just get infected with some of the shine.

You see Laura was not only a Psychologist, but also a professional tango dancer, a Pilates master with her own line of DVD’s, a published poet, a fashion designer and she even cut her own dang hair!

I remember Laura much like this as over the years we did quite a bit of dancing together at her studio.



Us, after hours of sweaty dancing and connecting.  Wendy with her arm on my shoulder. Laura on the far left.

Last Fall Laura had planned to leave her husband.  She was on the verge of breaking out of what apparently was some kind of dysfunctional or controlling relationship.  She never talked to me even once about her marriage, really in any form.  I just knew he’d traveled a lot.  I found this out after the fact from Wendy.

Our dear Laura was murdered by her husband last November who then immediately shot himself.  One of their sons was in the home who found both of them.  We found out later, blessedly, she was killed in her sleep.

I still have a lump in my throat and a sick feeling in my stomach thinking of it.  I still can’t believe it.  Laura was so larger than life, I’m still in denial.  It’s not been a year yet since this happened.

Shortly after Laura was killed, I wrote this poem dedicated to her.  I don’t really know how it fits exactly but I do know she inspired me to write it.  So I’ll share it now.


Try not


the bigger person.


When life’s crushing blows

come, be small.


Get smaller. Wait.


A perfect diamond won’t apologize

for taking all that time.

It patiently pauses for

it’s moment to shine on


The World.

The watch glancing, toe tapping



So much pressure,

tick tock tick tock.

Waiting becomes

it’s salvation.




just one proclamation:


While you were busy being


in my disappearance,

I was becoming.




-Kathy Monkman 11/12

herkimer diamond

We all miss you Laura.  If we’re lucky, we can still feel you shining in to our lives.  You will always be the most beautiful woman I ever met.



Remember this post?   Well I went to my mailbox yesterday and lo and behold a package was there from my father containing this sentimental gem.  I had told my father I’d wanted to snag it from the cottage in Maine and put it in our new house in Sedona and he mailed it to me with some other little gifts for John and I.


My Dad is so sentimental.  He really taught us to value things in this life that have some kind of meaning attached to them.

So I’m not surprised that once I mentioned wanting this plaque, he wrapped it up and sent it to me.

That’s my Dad.

This package came also wrapped in a bit of a mystery though.  I was so surprised to turn it over and see this:


’85?  As in 1985?  How weird as this was the kind of summer craft we were playing with when we were in Junior High and High School.  In 1985 Cindy would have been 27.  I’m thinking my Dad’s wood burning tool had long been discarded and where did she get the plaque or the decopage stuff?  I’m entirely perplexed.  I would have guessed 1975 at the latest for this to have been crafted.  It almost looks like the “8” once started out as a “7” too.  Hmmmm…

I love a mystery.  Somehow I think this might be a clue.  Of something.  I’m gonna keep my eyes open for the year 1985 showing up in my life somehow.




My Grandma and her baby boy Jack

I want to preface this entry saying that I have to come to a lot of peace and forgiveness with my stepmother, Marjorie.  I’m sure there’s more to come but I feel a whole lot less resentment than I used to and being able to write that last entry without sweating and my hands shaking demonstrated that to me.  I actually had some really decent times with her over the years as well.  Planning my wedding with her was a very bonding time and she was extremely supportive to me during all of that.  She handled Cindy’s estate like no one else could have.  She saved my mother’s china and crystal for me all those years when she could have sold it and I’d never have known (she did get rid of her wedding dress though).  Obviously any relationship isn’t all anything.  I thought about including these comments in the abuse entry but then realized that’s the kind of rationalization I did all my life.  Sometimes it’s important to just tell the truth and let it stand on it’s own.

This story though, involves Marj and definitely a manifestation of whatever drove her darkness but it also tells a tale of one of many miracles that have always been operating throughout our lives.  Sometimes they were just more shimmering or maybe I was just more desperate to see them.  This one, however, shone so bright it was unmistakable.

When our beloved Buddha passed in 2000, my Dad and Marj were in Puerto Rico with no real phone service.  So I was the person who got the call and had to make the decision whether to resusitate her or not.  It was clear what her wishes were and the state she was in so I made that call and she passed a few hours later.  I finally tracked my father down in PR and told him the terribly sad news, that his mother was gone.  I remember thinking that night how poignant and somehow beautiful that my father broke the news to me of my mother’s passing and I did the same for him 35 years later.

We held two services for Grandma, one in Illinois where she’d been living at the time of her death and the second one a few months later in Maine.  She mostly had lived in a retirement community there as as she’d aged she wanted and needed to be near my father.  He was very very good to her in those last years, picking her up on a regular basis and taking her on drives to the Amish Country where they ate home cookin and saw “all those buggies”.  She had made few friends in Illinois so the first service, at the same funeral home where we’d held Cindy’s, was more for my Dad’s friends.   The second one “in the East” as she called it, would be filled with her friends and family.  Like my father, my Grandma was also an only child so she maintained lifetime relationships with her cousins and their children like siblings.  They all still lived back East.

I flew back to Illinois for the first service of course.  I remember the night before, my father discussing the structure for how the service would go down.  It was going to be one of those services where people could stand up and share stories and he’d had a video made of her life set to music which would be played.  Less religious and more personal.  He told me that John, who wasn’t doing very well at that time, had written a eulogy that would be read by Marjorie.  I thought that was strange as she wasn’t reading her own sharing but I just let it go.  Of course I’d written my own tribute to her filled with beautiful memories speaking for both Cindy and me.

The next morning my father approached me and told me that he’d changed his mind and thought it was more appropriate for me to read John’s tribute.  Of course I readily agreed, this seemed more appropriate anyway with me being another sibling and so close to our Grandma.


The three page essay was handed to me at the funeral home and I sat down in a back stairway, pulled it out of the envelope and was shocked to see what landed in my hands.

The first thing I noticed was that it was entirely in Marj’s handwriting.  That she had literally written “John’s tribute” herself.  And you guessed it, on one of her yellow legal pads.  It was three pages and the first page was innocent enough.  Not by any means in John’s style of writing or vernacular but appropriate.  It was about memories of him and our beloved Buddha, nothing too personal but honest recollections.  When I flipped to the second page is when I fell in to the rabbit hole.

On that page it started something like this

“As long as I’m finding myself at a funeral talking about an influential woman in my life, I thought I would take this opportunity to mention other women who have passed who also had a great influence on me as well.”

Marjorie then proceeded to write glowing memories and tributes to women who had no real connection to my Grandma at all but the most heinous, hideous was she had the audacity to write Vivienne’s name on that list!

I won’t go in to all of the details but my Grandma got along with everyone with the exception of two women her entire life:  Marjorie Monkman and Vivienne.  Her husband, my grandfather, left my dear Buddha for Vivienne when my father was still a kid.  He’d had a long term affair with her and finally just left and shacked up with her until his death.  Now I’m not judging as I really liked Vivienne.  My father introduced us to her as he maintained a lifelong relationship with her after his father died, within a year of the time he lost our mother.  Yeah my Dad got hammered.  This is no attack on Vivienne at all who was a perfectly nice woman but the fact is, she did steal my Grandma’s husband and she had no business whatsoever being mentioned at her funeral!!!  I think I had maybe two conversations about Vivienne with my Grandma her entire life it was such a sore spot!

“What in the hell is going on here?” I thought!

Also mentioned in this list of “influential women” was Marj’s own mother and some family friends.  Interestingly missing from it entirely was our mother and Cindy!

How wildly inappropriate.  I was in utter shock and just moments away from the service.

The first thing I did was pull my father in to that back hallway.  John wasn’t there yet. I asked him if he’d read this audacious thing and he replied that he had.  I said “what is going on here..why is John supposedly paying tribute to all these other people including Vivienne?  Are you kidding me?  I’m not reading this!”.  He just replied “I don’t know, John wrote it.  Why don’t you talk to him about it?”.  He never took sides in these kinds of things.  UGH!

John finally showed up late and he was hearing voices bad.  I pulled him in to that back hallway and talked to him.  I stuffed down that lava inside me and asked him why this was in Marj’s handwriting (I knew exactly what was going on mind you) and what was up with that entire second page.  He replied that she’d helped him with it and looked very sad and sheepish.  I told him in the most motherly way I could that he hadn’t done anything wrong.  That he just didn’t realize it’s not appropriate to pay tribute to other people at someone’s funeral unless they had a very close relationship with the deceased.  I told him that I loved the rest of “his” essay and that I would read it omitting the second page.  He so innocently said “I’m sorry Kathy, I didn’t know” and thanked me for reading it for him.

I was sincerely about to blow my top.  But I in no way was going to allow this venom to seep in to my beloved Grandma’s service so I held it in, even when I saw Marj peeking around in to that hallway off and on as I was discussing this with my Dad and brother.  I informed my Dad I’d be reading just the first and last page and that was that.  He said ok.

I got up there to read it and watched Marj in that first row looking down at her foot as she tapped and tapped it in to the air over her crossed leg.  Her teeth clenched, unable to even look up at me.   I wouldn’t even give her the satisfaction of a confrontation. Buddha and I had won that round.


Fast forward to several months later and I arrive in Maine for the yearly trip.  We are also hosting a big family reunion/memorial service that week.  I was the first to arrive so found myself in front of the setting sun on the porch with my Dad and Marj talking about the particulars of the service which was to go down the next day.  John was not coming.  He was not stable enough to travel.  As it turned out he was very unstable.

So there we sit, the three of us, when my father casually drops a bomb in to my entire being.

“And then John’s tribute will be read in it’s entirety this time by your Mother”

I felt like I would instantly throw up.  I flashed a look at him and he said “we know how you feel about it Kathy but we’ve discussed it and John wants it read fully this time”.  John, who is not even there.  If this was meant to be some kind of “catharsis” for him paying tribute to other “influential women in his life” (vomit), he would not even be there to hear it!  He was also not there for a reason.  He was completely psychotic!  How was he giving this consent much less request?

I felt like my head was going to explode.  Two against one.  Marj, as usual, sat there not looking at me all innocent like she had nothing to do with this whole insanity.   I blurted something at her and she shrugged “Ah have nothing to do with this, your fahthah asked me to read it”.  PURE BULLSHIT.  She wrote it!

My Dad just moved along like case closed and I stood up mid sentence yelled something like “I’m outta here!” and just bolted.  I started sprint walking on the beach tears stinging my salty cheeks.  I was walking so hard and fast, desperate my mind racing, my  heart breaking.  How could this happen?  Buddha’s beloved cousin our Aunt Ruthie was going to be there and hear Vivienne’s name mentioned?  She lived that nightmare with my Grandma! It’s so beyond disrespectful, it’s flat out abuse!  Of my dead Grandma!

I was pounding that hard sand with thoughts racing through my mind, desperately trying to find a solution, find a way out.  I thought about leaving. But that means she wins.  I AM NOT leaving my Grandma’s memorial service!

Finally, on my way back toward the cottage, a soft phrase whooshed in to my mind like a cool ocean breeze.

This is a dirty trick.

It was such an innocent, old fashioned sounding little phrase, something exactly my Grandma would say.  My mind was filled with expletives and that small little voice rose up and suddenly I knew exactly what to do.

I calmly walked back up to the cottage and my father was now sitting alone on the porch.  I sat down next to him, apologized for yelling at him and storming away then I said something like this.

“I know you can’t see this right now Dad but what’s going on here is a dirty trick.  I’ve talked to John about that tribute and asked him (which was true) and he told me it was all Marj’s idea.  She had a lifelong feud with Grandma and she’s using John to kick her in the grave.  I know you don’t feel you can stop it so this is what I’m going to do tomorrow.

When she stands up to read that, I will stand up and I will walk out of the room in protest. I will do so very dramatically so people will know something is up.  I won’t say a word but I will walk out.  Once she’s finished reading it, I will return for the rest of the service.  And if anyone asks me why I did that, I will tell them the truth. That she wrote this to kick Grandma in the grave, using John as her foil.  I intend to be very vocal about it. That’s what I’m going to do to stand up for Buddha.”

My voice then started to crack and I stood up and said the harshest words I’ve ever said to my father.

“And, Dad, I can’t believe you are allowing your mother to be disrespected in this way and you and I know there is no way Cindy would have tolerated this bullshit for one second.”

I then walked in to the house with Marj reclining on the sofa, sat down on the chair next to her and calmly delivered my same speech.

I watched her sit up stiffly.  I saw her for the first time since that stairway episode, want to hit me.  I could feel that familiar rage rising in an instant.  Yet oddly, the more she escalated, the more calm I got.  She started yelling at me “you know I had nothing to do with writing that!  How dare you accuse me of that?” . I replied , looking out at the ocean, getting more sunk down in my chair as she got more erect and rageful on the sofa and said “it’s in your handwriting, you wrote it, John told me it was all your idea and this is what I”m going to do.  You can go ahead and make a fool out of yourself, which you will, but not without a consequence”.

Then right in the middle of that, the phone rang.


Back then we only had  a landline in the dining room.  As Marj and I were locked in this conflict, neither of us rose to answer the phone so my Dad came in from outside, crossed our living room battleground and picked it up.

I could tell very quickly he was talking to John.  I could tell it wasn’t good.  He was talking to him in that quiet voice he gets when something is serious.  We both got quiet, listening in.  “Ok, I’m going to have you talk to your Mother now and let’s see what we can do”.  He then asked Marj to get on the phone.

I followed my Dad in to the kitchen past Marj, now raging on the phone to my completely unstable brother with words like “how DARE you tell Kathy I wrote those words?  You know you wrote that!”, yes verbally abusing a mentally fragile Schizophrenic in a crisis.  That’s exactly what she did.

But the miracle landed smack dab in the middle of the kitchen.  My Dad stood at the stove across the room from me as I stood in front of the refrigerator and he delivered this message:

“John is calling to say that Grandma came to him in a dream and told him that second page of his tribute should not be read.  That she only wants the first and last page to be read but not the second page.  That it’s not appropriate to be read at her memorial service.”

As you can imagine, at that moment my entire body collapsed in to tears.  Finally I knew for sure I wasn’t alone and that we had all been rescued.  My heart just dismantled all that armor and melted as I said to my Dad “Dad I’m so sorry I said those harsh words to you on the porch, you know that’s not how I am normally, I was just so desperate over this.  It was so wrong, I just couldn’t stand it”.

And what happened next is a moment I will remember and actually feel in my heart my entire life.  I feel it now as I’m writing it.

My father crossed that kitchen, with Marj still raging on my brother in the next room and wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear

“It’s ok Kathy, I didn’t think those words were appropriate to be read either”.

He just never knew how to stand up to her.  I don’t know what that was all about.  He just couldn’t do it.  It all was made clear to me then, the reason he changed his mind and asked me to read the tribute the first time. He knew there was no way in Hell I would ever read those words.  Now how that got manipulated and set up for the second time I’ll never know.  It’s not important that I know.  It was just more of her games.

But my Grandma stepped in to save us all that day.  To save herself too!

I’ll never forget the jaw clenched, rigid postured way Marjorie read those first and third pages the next day at the memorial.  I have to say I sat there with a smug satisfaction that she’d not gotten her way.  How could I not?  I’m sure she wanted to get out of it then and ask me to read them but she was smarter than that.  She’d have really been exposed then.  So she stiffened herself up and read that glowing tribute to my Grandma.  Poetic justice I say.

We tossed Grandma’s ashes on to the beach that afternoon after a beautiful heartfelt service then had a big happy hour party.  Just the way she would have liked it.  Just the way she planned it.

I took the phone from Marj and coached John after that kitchen moment to call 911 and he was admitted to the hospital that evening. He was completely psychotic.  But it sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Just what goes on with his “voices”.

That trip was the last time I saw Marjorie.  It was the time she sat in my presence writing me a letter that I never read.  I imagine that letter was still protesting her non involvement in that tribute that was in her handwriting but it was too late to argue that case anymore.

The writing was on the wall and beyond now.

The war was over.


Dedicated to my beloved Grandma “Buddha” who I still feel here with me now.