Reflections

Sometimes you cheat on your own website. My View, a column in the Buffalo News offers a place for writers to express their own personal thoughts on a topic of your choosing. There are some guidelines (of course) which can easily be found online. Today, I was published.  Some of you have been asking how I’ve been since my great loss(es) of 2017 and here I try (within the word count allowed) to express where I am today.

My View: Beginning life again after a year full of loss

By My View Published

By Holly Olmstead

As we live our lives, we can expect to lose our elderly loved ones. We are saddened, of course, and we respectfully mourn those we loved. We realize it is the natural order of things when the aged pass away. The stone that is cast by that death has rippling effects that last for years.

Adult children who may have come into town to visit that parent stop doing so, family gatherings are less frequent and sometimes difficult without an identifiable matriarch or patriarch, and the next generation of babies born to those adult children are born and create new, exciting attentions.

Now, when there are losses of loved ones that are unexpected and do not align with the natural circle of life, that brings on a grief of a whole other kind. You wonder how your life will go on. After a long and successful marriage, I lost my husband of 35 years. He was my best friend, cheerleader and protective caretaker my entire adult life.

Through the last few months of his life, we had to re-home our Labrador of five years, a sacrifice for hubby’s safety in the household. Even though it was a successful transition, one’s pet is like one’s child, a terrific loss.

In the meantime, my sister with Down syndrome passed away, a death more bittersweet than upsetting as at the age of 62 and born in the 1950s we felt she lived a full life. However, it was indeed a significant, heartfelt loss to me. Having lost my sister, pooch and hubby all in one year, I felt like I had lost my entire identity.



Holly Olmstead

This was overwhelming, to say the least, for me. Where to begin? Where to pick up the pieces? Where to turn?

At first I was numb. In shock, anger, and likely, in denial. So, I did nothing. Mourning: Who knows what that looks like? They say gather with others, join groups. Keep old traditions, consider new. Give permission to yourself for time, space and for your family.

So, I took on some new things. I now volunteer at Habitat for Humanity at the construction site and run with a group from Fleet Feet. I’ve just signed on to teach knitting at Cornerstone for the winter semester and completed a grief group session at Hospice.

I’ve learned how to time manage the job of two people regarding house maintenance, including grocery shopping and cooking. Children are out of the area and trips scheduled to see them are and will always be in the works.

It has been over one year. I am dating. While all this was well and good, the busy, full schedule was not filling the void and the loneliness I was continuing to feel. It wasn’t until I had a euphoric moment that things began to take a turn for me. My past and present do not need to look the same in relationships. While I understood and had accepted my activities looking different, why not my relationships, as well?

This simple shift in thinking, of taking off the parameters of expectation of the familiar interpersonal relationships I had known, is allowing me to be more open to friendships of all kinds.

Much like starting adulthood over, I can enjoy people I meet, find joy in others’ ways and traditions, and accept new ideas in conversation and lifestyle. The world actually feels like a bright promising place for happiness and love, once again.

Holly Olmstead, of Kenmore, is a retired teacher from the Sweet Home Central School District.

PS.  The photo, above is of my home where I’ve hung outside lights for the first time, have a new storm door, new mailbox, and hung a vintage poinsettia wreath, a wreath that hung on the front door during my childhood recently given to me by my mom.  Not forgotten, the beautiful wreath hubby gave me a few years back is hanging on the mantle, where sweet memories of Christmas past remain present.

[HERE] is how the article appeared in the Buffalo Evening News.

Detroit, Anyone? I did not take my knitting . . .

Yes, we chose Detroit for a little R & R.  Why, you might ask?  Here are a few reasons.

“One of the most beautiful homes on Airbnb. This is a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom historic home in one of the most beautiful, one of a kind neighborhood of Detroit. Woodbridge is in Midtown, and a mile from most of Detroit’s finest sights, art, and stadiums. My wife and I are in Greece for at least six months helping refugees and your stay is our only revenue keeping us there. Thank you!”

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A Valentine for Late Hubby

Roses are red
Violets blue
Your loved ones
Are remembering
The day I married you!

Roses are Red
Violets blue
now collected in my heart
are memories of you

Roses are red
Violets indeed are blue
I will stop by
and blow a kiss to you

Life does go on
whether we like it or not, tis true
I can no longer say
Happy Anniversary to you

It is a constant that roses are red
and violets blue
As with things tangible
we can count on remain true

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Life is now offering
A new point of view.

 

The Cardinal

Fly, fly said the mother
listing, fluttering
giving everything she had
One day, the wind at her back
off she flew.

Soaring slowly
at first
finding her way
nature as her compass
happily living her life.

Sensed danger
things not right
fearful,
fragile and unknowing
the worst was yet to come.

It happened.
off guard
unguarded
guardedly
not knowing where to turn.

Oh, a gathering
of love.
Unable to receive,
hawk talons mighty
like prison bars.

The sky turned
ever so slowly
the mist overhead
the cardinal was able
to catch a breath.

Fly, fly said the mother
listing, fluttering
giving everything she had
she is flying again
taking on new terrain.

A bit tentative
a bit wiser,
wanting to return
however realizing
it is to a new world.

Coping with Great Loss, Intentional Moves

I don’t know what the psychologists would say but I certainly know what my heart and mind are saying and I am listening.  Here is what has been going on with me.  Each of these moves are or has been intentional to help cope with the great losses I have experienced this horrific year.  Do not read into the order as truly many if not most of these things are happening simultaneously.

  1.  Adopted Lady.  By adopted, I really mean accepted her as my own.  I continue to grieve and have a good dose of guilt about Lizzie (please do not try to tell me otherwise) and continue to pray her new family loves her the way I did.   Articles on Health and Wellness always include how owning a pet aids to a person’s overall sense of well being.  
  2. Going out on a Monday night.  Now twice.  Much fun.  Enough said.

    Rochester Knitting Guild, gathering ideas

  3. Furniture give-away, furniture purchase.  Pieces I associated with bad memories have been thoughtfully given away which then changes their memory to the positive and those pieces have been replaced with new purchases.  Or, adding to existing collection(s).

    Added new pieces in hubby’s memory

  4. Removed doors, three of them last week in an effort to gain light and space within my living space.  Light and space gives me a sense of freedom and tranquility.

    glass door knob-8 paneled doors, on a pallet in the basement

  5. Repaired old favorite keepsakes.  Over time, things would need repair and get forgotten, at least in our household.  Ex.  When cleaning out the basement, I have found two such lamps and now, after repair, are fabulous keepsakes and reminders of our 35 years together and how/why/when these particular items came to us.
  6. Out of a massive collection of photos we have (we all have), I have framed and put out only a few around the house, but in prominent places. It really becomes the location of the photo, rather than the quantity (which I think can be annoying) that makes the statement. 
  7. Finding NEW activities with no associations to the past and for the purpose of meeting people.  Ex.  agility training with Lady (now into the 5th class) and joining a team constructing a new build for Habitat for Humanity (I am now the proud owner of steel-toe boots).
  8. Asking for and accepting help from neighbors.  Ex.  How to add water to the boiler, fire alarm issue, rules for garbage vs. trash in our Village
  9. Out of my control but very noticeable and appreciated is the continual support of family.  Ex.  daughter making short jaunts back home,  step-son sending texts,  sisters-in-law emails, flowers being sent from dear hubby’s family members (just received yesterday).  This continuation of including me into the family fold is imperative and what I am most Thankful for this season.
  10. Grief counseling/groups of all kinds.  Hospice follows up with the family 13 months after the death of the loved one.  I am taking advantage of this opportunity.  There are groups for specific loss as well as generic loss/relation.
  11. Crying.
  12. Accepting.
  13. Finding that sense of humor, again.

    teasing gullible daughter about some knitting needles

  14. Doctor’s appointments for wellness checks, prevention down the road.  They’re all lined up.
  15. Visiting loved one(s).  Well, I  visit my sister and Lizzie via photographs and I  visit my dear hubby.  It is currently helpful to face my reality and hoping in time will be a source of solace, maybe even contentment of sorts.  Once a best friend, always a best friend, perhaps?

And, writing!  Writing this list and thinking about my intentional moves these days is reflective in nature and is allowing me to ask myself, “Is what I am doing helpful to my overall happiness?”  And, I answer, what I am doing is, at least in the ball park of coping and healing and allowing me to find my way to a new normal and all that life, in the future, has to offer.

Change

Who is he?

What does he know?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

While habits unfamiliar, we find our way

Each day different, “one day at a time”, we say.

like the crystals in a kaleidoscope,

one turn and the reaction

unfolds.

Silence from others, busily living as the world turns

we carry on

In case you were wondering, he is sweet and tender

as always, during this complicated

time.

Blooms of Copper

Copper garment, “Orange is the new black.”

“Absolutely retro, yet undeniably modern.”

“Is it a tunic or sweater?”

Symbol of life change.

Simple style while coping with the complicated.

Vintage yarn at hand, modern technique repairing life lines.

Busy constructing, resting to heal

Strong statement, rebuilding strength.

The tiger lilies recently transplanted in a courtyard otherwise unruffled

from one garden to another.

Today, to my surprise

blooms of copper, in a sea of green

just two of them . . . for now

to welcome my best friend

home.

Thank you to my dear knitting friend, Gina for the rooted cuttings and whose constant and continual support helps me to go on and for Sarah, a blog writer whose words were of inspiration to me.  I cannot forget Denise and Terry who are constants in the VK Challenge.

 

 

Copper garment details, HERE.

My Sister

Today was my sister’s Memorial.  It brought family and friends together, Even friends from our childhood and colleagues from the past attended..  Sweet music, a quiet ambiance, and an Irish poem filled the air with remembrance of Emmy.  I wrote and recited this poem.

My Sister

As a toddler, I was told she was special.
Special? What does that mean?
I thought she was just like me.

So, of course as a child does,
I gave her dirty looks,
stuck my tongue out at her,
pulled her hair,
hit her over the head,
and ate candy out of her toys.

She was my older sister,
my only sibling, then.
Isn’t that what you did?

During our childhood years, Emmy
went away.
In those days,
it seemed the course of action.
Went to live somewhere else.

I didn’t ask too many questions comforted that our parents were visiting her.

Why did she leave us? I wondered . . .
but not enough to ask.

I didn’t think so much about my sister.

Emmy was coming home!
Change was in the air.
School for her like school for me
What was so special about that?

I found myself pondering,

What was different about her?
What was she trying to say?
Did she like me?
What was her favorite toy, color, food?

Inquisitive of her nature
my questions grew
Is that what they meant by saying Emmy was special?
In ways we sometimes
do not understand?

Emmy as inspiration,
I set out for some answers.
Spending time with her
in activities,
choosing teaching as a career.

In adulthood,
my sister once again
relocated permanently to a place she called “camp”.
“I like camp”, she would say.
A home, her home
One we felt might meet her needs.
friends aplenty
activities abound
She became part of a new family,
We so hoped she would be happy.

Now in reflection,
I ask myself,
What have I learned?

We are all special in one way
or another
Emmy, perhaps more . . .

Emmy was:

Someone who offered us life lessons that an entire Nation could learn.

Someone who challenged us, at times, to our wits end.

Someone who knew a language all her own,
and asked us to figure it out.

Someone who knew what she wanted and when she wanted it
even if it didn’t make sense the way we thought it should.

Yes, I finally knew what they meant.
Emmy WAS special.

Traveling through the years I’ve learned something else found right here
within my own heart.

To me, what matters most.

I know that I loved my sister.
And, truly what matters more than that?

 

We loved her smile.

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On Fitness

I haven’t written about health and wellness in awhile.  It is not because I have been negligent rather, I wanted to collect some data to share and show that exercise continues to be alive and well in my retirement  life.

When I retired, I said there were three things I wanted to focus on.  They were and continue to be:  knitting [of course], running, and writing/reading.   In my knitting life, I knew I would be attacking the stash working up projects I had only wished/dreamed of finishing.  UPDATE:  I moved OUT a piece of furniture that was housing yarn as those bundled fibers are now finished objects!

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Just a Note, Not

Not birthday,
Not holiday.
Not because you had to.

Just a Note.

From the heart
These words came
and are received.

One of my favorite
things in life
are words

Simple words, crafted with care
meaningful to the receiver
So thoughtful from the giver

Just a note

not to me
best gift
from one to another.

This note came with an added treat . . .

The title of the photo says it all; in-law family members included

WordPress Junkie

So, I received this yesterday from WordPress.

Said it was my fourth year anniversary.  How nice, I thought not remembering it was an anniversary of Hollyknits.   I paused for a moment to reflect.  You see,  I was in the middle of publishing my first post . . . on another WordPress site at the very moment this anniversary announcement popped up!  Yes, a first post on a new website!

When I hit the “publish” button for that post, this little beauty popped up!

Wow, I thought.  What a coincidence to be rewarded for a first post on the second website on the anniversary of the first!   Again, it caused me to pause.

Oh!  You want to know about the new website?  It is for The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo, a well-established community organization for yarn and knitting enthusiasts for the Greater Buffalo area,

We, members of the Guild, would love for you to check out our active goings-on right here!  We’ve deleted our outdated, difficult to navigate, not too attractive old site saving the meaningful ‘stuff”, moved it, and re-worked it right here on WordPress!  Let’s see how she goes keeping up TWO websites!  Yikes!

Me thinks I may be a WordPress junkie!