Thursday, November 26, 2009

In memory

Margaret Bailey

Margaret Vandenburg Linville Bailey, 82, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family in Boise on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 after suffering a recent stroke. Services will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 28, 2009 at the First United Methodist Church (Cathedral of the Rockies), at 717 N. 11th Street in Boise, followed by interment at Dry Creek Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel, Boise. Margaret was born on January 12, 1927 and lived in Boise for most of her life. As the daughter of Stewart C. Vandenburg and Edna Tussing Vandenburg, Margaret grew up on Harrison Boulevard and graduated from Boise High School. She earned her B.A and M.A in education from Stanford University, where she met her first husband, Robert G. Linville Jr. She taught Physical Education to high school girls in South San Francisco and in Glenns Ferry, Idaho before returning to Boise in 1956. Margaret and Robert were divorced in 1978. Four years later she married Morton Bailey. Margaret and Morton spent many happy and wonderful years together traveling and golfing until his death in 1998. Service to community and love for her family were the hallmarks that guided Margaret's life. She was a very spiritual person and a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church, serving in many volunteer positions. She also served on the Boise Family YMCA Board of Directors, was a 50 year member of Chapter "A" P.E.O., the Junior League of Boise, and a scout leader in both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. In the community or as a church volunteer, Margaret was cherished for her compassion, reliability and dependability. Whenever she agreed to help with an event or project, everyone involved knew that her duties would be completed correctly, on time, and under budget. She was an optimistic, complimentary and loving person who shared freely of her talents and her positive attitude with all those around her. She had many devoted and lifelong friends with whom she spent many happy days. As an Idaho girl and a physical education major, Margaret engaged in and promoted many forms of exercise and outdoor recreation. She loved the rugged and natural beauty of Idaho's outdoors. She was particularly fond of spending time at the family cabin in Grandjean, Idaho during her summers, where she presided over and directed family activities and reunions for almost 50 years. She also loved the mountain solitude of the cabin where she could relax while reading her favorite book. She loved competition, and regularly challenged her grandchildren in games of pounce, scrabble and golf. She was an avid Bronco football fan and a longtime season ticketholder who never missed a BSU home game. Mrs. Bailey is survived by her sons Thomas Linville and his wife Jacque of Boise; Robert Linville and his wife Patty of Seward Alaska; Richard Linville and his wife Amy of Emmett; her daughter Rebecca Obletz and her husband Douglas of Portland, Oregon; her stepdaughter Martha Sorenson and her husband Christopher of Boise; and her brother Dick Vandenburg and his wife Jean of Boise. She is also survived by her large extended family with a current total of fifteen grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, three nieces and two nephews. Her family was always blessed by her love. We will miss her eternal optimism, faithfulness and determination. Her character set an example that has shaped all of our lives. Her blue eyes and enduring smile will live in our hearts forever. Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church (Cathedral of the Rockies) 717 N. 11th Street, Boise, Idaho 83702, or the Boise Family YMCA, 1050 West State Street, Boise, Idaho 83702.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Update

I've had a lot to say this month, but I haven't had time.

We have been holding vigil at my grandmother's side. Hospice tells us that she should die anytime. It definitely has put a different perspective on Thanksgiving than I expected for this year.

I am learning much though, least of which is that flexibility is required always. You just never know what might happen. The more rigid you are in your expectations, the more disappointed it allows you to be if those things change.

I am hoping to get a Thanksgiving post in and will post pictures of our first Thanksgiving in our house!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beyond the beyond

I was reading my aunt's blog a few minutes ago, and someone wrote, "We are all taught that Life Isn't Fair, but this is beyond the beyond."

Do you know people who always seem to have drama and chaos in their lives? I've known those people, and I have been known to be skeptical of their stories. How can anyone possibly have THAT much stress and drama in their lives (that they weren't bringing on themselves)?

Well... I am THAT person.

In 2000, my uncle was diagnosed with a chronic illness. In 2001, my dad was diagnosed with stage IV Non-hodgkin's lymphoma and given a bad prognosis. He went into remission only to relapse six months later. He got better and then was sick again a few months after that. He moved to D.C. to live with me where he was in a clinical trial and has been in remission since 2004.

My sister had brainstem surgery in 2002. My step-dad had a herniated disk repaired. And then (after everyone was sick and tired of the hospital!) my appendix ruptured.

My grandfather was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and he died in 2004.

The next couple of years were fairly uneventful (if you consider graduating college, getting married and trying to have a baby uneventful!).

In 2007, my grandmother ate too much at Thanksgiving and had some GI issues that were life threatening. But, the fighter she is, she pulled through it.

In 2008, my house burned down. I got Bell's Palsy.

In the last few weeks, my aunt has had brain surgeries with H1N1 complications (following the first brain surgery in August), my uncle has had H1N1 with pneumonia complications, and my grandmother has had a stroke. All the while, I am dealing with my own chronic illness.

Life isn't fair. But this is beyond the beyond.

I was talking to my uncle this afternoon about my friends and family, who have been so giving through these difficult times. But, I told him, I worry. There is so much drama and stress, and I use up all of my energy just in dealing with my life that I don't have any to give back. I have very little energy right now as it is, and yet I've been spending 14 hour days at the hospital and making food for family members when I can't be. I want to give. It's in my nature to give. It makes me feel valued and a member of a community. It's not fair when the giving is one-sided though, and I really think that it is right now. I am hoping these dark clouds pass, that my emotional needs subside, and that I can one day give back to those who have given me so much.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas

I just got home from my grandmother's house. She went home from the hospital today, and there is still a long road ahead, but fortunately she will be able to be at home for the time being.

As I was driving home, I was listening to Deliliah, and I knew immediately that Christmas music was on. I don't know when they made the switch, but I was so so so excited. I have been so good about not listening to Christmas music yet, but honestly, I might start pulling stuff out after tonight. As I was listening to Christmas music, I was thinking about decorating our home, about the Christmas tree in front of the stairs, about the big balls we bought at Costco to hang outside, about Dan putting up the lights for the first time in our house. Granted, we DID celebrate last year in our home, but it was a bare floored, no cabinet, no carpet kind of house, and I didn't get to celebrate the entire month. As I was thinking about all of the joy this Christmas will bring, I started crying (which isn't the best thing when you are on the freeway while it's raining with your son in the backseat sleeping).

Obviously I love Christmas. And I am so excited to be able to decorate our house and celebrate, really celebrate here. This year, I'll be home for Christmas.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New "normal"

My grandmother had a stroke on Wednesday. She is a fiercely independent woman. Strong is an understatement. She is competitive, even at 82. One of the first questions I asked the doctor was whether she could play Scrabble again, and his answer provoked a smile from my grandmother.

While we don't know yet how permanent the effects of the stroke will be, I am sure that life for her will now be measured in pre- and post-.

In so many of life's events, I see the trauma of the fire mirrored. It isn't the fire or the stroke or cancer or... It's the trauma. Life before. Life after. What WAS normal. What IS normal.

It's a reminder that we are constantly changing, life is always in flux. It is a reminder to be flexible, to stay on your toes, to adjust, to be WILLING to adjust.

As I watch my grandmother fight, I know this isn't how she would want to be. And I am reminded that in those days after the fire (in that YEAR after the fire), it wasn't where I wanted to be either. I wanted to will myself back to before just as I am sure she wants to will herself back as well.

I'm also reminded though that our choice isn't in the circumstances that befall us. Our choices are in the responses to those changes. Will we fight? Will we adjust? Will we accept our new normal? And in accepting that new normal, will we recognize the beauty, the opportunity, the peace that lies therein?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Peace

Peace isn't a permanent state. It exists in moments. Fleeting. Gone before we even knew it was there. Everyday we experience these moments of peace. The trick is to know when they're happening so we can embrace them, live in them.
- Grey's Anatomy, "Give Peace a Chance"

I have thought a lot about how to find peace over the last year, wanting it to be a state of being. I am sure for some Buddhist monks, peace is their normal state of being. But I am not a Buddhist monk nor am I able to maintain peace through chaos.

I am also not so naive as to believe that, at 27, I have "done my time," that this is my trauma and that I get a bye to live without chaos and sadness for the remainder of my life. Knowing what I know about unexpected moments of inexplicable grief, I believe though that I must be able to find peace, even in those moments. Peace IS fleeting. But so too is grief.

Where I found grief in sorting through the ashes of my belongings, so too did I find peace in the arms of strangers. I found laughter in the irony of that which was recognizable and tried to limit my tears for that which was not. I found peace in watching the nailing of boards, the piecing back together of my house, my life. Even if that peace was interrupted by the cries of a newborn child or the questions of another contractor, there was peace in *that* moment. There was peace the night that Dan and I sat in our house for the first time, furniture-less eating take-out because our home was not yet ours, but it was. There have been moments of peace in being able to write about our journey, peace in recognizing that it is a journey, one with no set endpoint. And there is peace dancing among the grief in the realization that on August 25, our lives changed forever and that we will never be able to go back to "before."

I find peace now, watching the leaves fall from trees I didn't have before, and with each fall of the leaf, the closing of one season and the welcoming of another. It is a new season for us too. Not one in which there is lack, but one in which there is peace. There always was peace. It was just recognizing it amidst the grief.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1

I wish it was ok to start decorating for Christmas. I mean, I guess I can do whatever I want. I almost had Christmas in August so why not November. But I won't. Today I will pack up my pumpkin lights and my painted pumpkin with Boo googly eyes. I will put away my painted candy box. And I will wait.

I will look at the homemade wreath on my table (that needs a flameless candle!) and wish that there were more fall decorations. I will resist the temptation to put in a Christmas CD. I will wish away the snow (because it is fall, dangit!). And I will try my best to enjoy the remainder of fall, the transition to long-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts to boots.

I will because it will make the Christmas season that more magical. The wait will be worth it. But the day after Thanksgiving, there will be decorations, a tree. I have waited over a year to celebrate Christmas in my house with my son. A real celebration. But I can wait (I guess).