Sometimes There Are No Villains

And no victims.

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In fiction, there is a villain to oppose the hero. In the wake of a villian’s terror, victims call and plead for help. In real life, no so much. And that’s just the way it is. No matter how much you want there to be. It is a hard concept for many of us to let go of.

In the days and now weeks since Papi’s death, I have thought a lot about this idea: villains, victims and heroes in everyday life. When we are hurt, we want someone to be responsible. We never want that person to be ourselves. When our heart is broken, we want to blame the one who did it. The one who made us feel this way. But is that healthy? Is it healthy to always seek to blame someone for our woes?

The simple answer is no. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what didn’t work out in my previous relationships. The common factor in all of those relationship was me. Sure, some of the guys I dated broke up with me in harsh ways but that only makes them a jerk not a villain. I’m not the victim. They weren’t the bad guy. They just weren’t the right guy for me and when they realized I wasn’t the right one for them they left. I was hurt but not victimized.

There were a couple that were toxic and not nice people. Yes, Patrick, I am looking at you. (kidding, mostly).

That maybe is over simplifying it. There are toxic people out there. People who seek to victimize others. They want to be the villian and get off on it. What I am talking about is villianing everyone with whom you have a relationship that doesn’t work. Playing the woe is me card over and over again and hoping that something will be different.

When we seek to blame others and take no responsibility for our own unhappiness, it is really hard to take responsibility for our happiness. Why is one in our control and the other not? There will always be things outside of our control but not everything is outside of our spheres of influence.

We can work to control our reactions. Notice, I didn’t say control our reactions. No matter how hard we work, it is impossible to control all of our reactions. We can get better at it. It has taken medication, therapy and a lot of self-reflection to be able to control some of my reactions.

Twenty years ago, I was a hot mess. I may still be a hot mess emotionally at times. Adulthood is a series of events leading to the collection of your shit and the collapse of your shit. We are all at some point in the cycle. Some people are better at keeping it together than other. There is also a whole league of people that are incredible good at making everything seem like it is all okay dokey when it isn’t. I like to call them influencers.

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These days, I am pretty good at making it look everything is shipshape when it isn’t. Not because I don’t want people to know the realities of my life, because if I stop moving long enough to explain things to them something else is going to come crashing down on my head.

Papi and I had a complicated relationship. I never hated him even when things were twisted. He was never a villain to me. I don’t understand why he did the things he did, but I loved him. I loved him so so much. He wasn’t the villain. I wasn’t a victim. We were two people who loved each other, were horrible at communication.

When I reflect on my own childhood, I see a lot of things that were done to me. I didn’t have power and agency as a child. Adulthood comes and we aren’t always ready for it. There is no magically awakening that occurs when we turn eighteen. We don’t suddenly get all the skills necessary to live as adults. We don’t learn how to deal with each other.

I’ve been a teacher since 2006 and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that adults don’t act very adultlike much of the time. They are petty and sometimes cruel for no reason. Logic may as well just be a pretty wreath of flowers that smells horrible. It is as rare as common sense.

Growing up as an eighties kid, a lot of the movies I watched pitted the underdogs against the popular kids. The good guys against the villains. Real life isn’t black and white. It is shades of grey and colors more beautiful than one imagines. It is seeing someone you love grow, love and live a life that makes them happy.

Papi had that with his partner. There is never going to be a day that I don’t miss him. There may never be a time that I don’t wish things had been different between us. But knowing he was happy, he was loved and loved in return, makes me smile.

State of Things May

Oh, lord, it is May and I’m a teacher. That alone would be enough to describe how I am doing this month. May is the time that all of the good little children begin to earn for freer days and all the rotten little children (the few that actually rotten) begin to fight against all authority. Schools struggle to keep children contained within the school walls and ground. This week, I had to get a child out of a tree twice. Same kiddo, he needed to climb and he did.

So professionally, the state of things is more chaotic than on average. State testing ends soon and then the days of waste. Days where learning had been dictated to continue by administration but everyone is so exhausted that the lessons are light and fun by design.

My tutoring gig ended abruptly. I’ll miss the kiddo and my interactions with his family. Our weekly tutoring sessions were a bright spot in my week. I have another side gig starting soon which won’t be as fun. It will however get my closer to my goals.

Writing has mostly been happening here on the blog. My other projects are either in research mode or caught in the Bermuda triangle of editing.

Mentally and Physically, I am on survival mode. Grief has a funny way of doing that to you. The only way I know to get through what I am feeling now is to keep moving forward that way I can get out before the devil knows I am here. I don’t think that I am moving fast enough.

It isn’t a perfect plan but it the one I’ve got. When Papi died, one of the people I hold most dear in the world, I poured my feelings into a blog and it touched people. Papi and I had a complicated relationship with good and bad moments, caring and cruelty- but at the end we had reached a better place because of all of that. My naked feelings touched someone in a way I hadn’t intended and a bridge was broken. Written words like spoken ones can’t be taken back.

I can’t undo the unintentional damage I caused and that bothers me. There is a part of me that just wants to find the perfect words to make it all better to explain myself and rebuild that bridge. And that is the part that has been waking me up in the middle of the night and draining my wine supply. It is also responsible for me putting a pen in the sink to be washed.

Did I see him as a villain? No, but there were times in our relationship when I held on to the hurt to the point when it was unhealthy.

Did I paint him as villain? Probably. Was it my intention? No, but intentions and results are often two different things. I can’t take back those words. The only thing I can do is honor the man I love.

In that light, let me tell you a story. Once a upon a time, I had lunch with Momma at the mall near where I worked. Things had been difficult between us for a couple of months so the lunch was a step in repairing our relationship. We talked about my paternal grandmother and that’s when Momma told me that my grandmother wasn’t part indigenous but that her father had been black. Suddenly a whole bunch of things in my life made sense. My sister’s comments about my body among other things and why we were discouraged from looking into genealogy.

Sometime soon after I told a friend who told another friend and that’s when the trouble started. I was excited about finding out more about my family’s history. The friend she told, unknown to me had feelings for me and the idea that I wasn’t white was too much for him. He ended our friendship with a nasty gram. My heart was crushed; nothing about me had changed beyond knowing more about my family. Papi called that day and when he found out he came right away and held me.

He didn’t try and console me by telling me that my friend had never really been my friend. He just held me in my grief and let me feel what I needed to feel. I will never forget that day or him.

I love you, Papi. And I always will.

What to Expect When Grieving

Expect that you won’t know what to do from one moment to the next.

Expect that people are going to say stupid things like comparing losing your father to join a club.

Expect that you won’t be able to sleep or you will over sleep.

Expect people to treat you different. Or like nothing at all happened.

Expect them to tell you it will be ok, when it never will be ok again.

Expect others to share with you quite moments of their own grief or moments where your loved one made them smile.

Expect there to be moments when you smile and think of them.

Expect beauty to return in drips and drabs until rainbows shine like they are the first rainbow ever created.

Expect to think of them everyday, sometimes with a smile and sometimes on the edge of tears.

Expect for friends who love you to mess up when they are trying to talk to you.

Expect that the sun will continue to rise and set and you can be angry and sad all at the same time.

Expect that there is no guide to what you are going through that will ever be enough.

Expect to smile and laugh again, but not always when society deems acceptable.

Expect that your life has changed and your new reality will be something you never imagined….

Vague Death Post



What do you do when the person you’ve been in a toxic relationship for 16 years dies and you find out a day later? What do you do when for the last ten years that person has kept you as a secret?

You cry.  The tears seeping out rather than pouring.  You tell yourself to get up but you lay in bed for a few moments more and cry.  So you click on his Facebook page, scroll the first couple of posts and click to make your own.  You try to say your goodbyes but you can’t. It is too fresh, too raw and you are a secret. You fear that your words will be deemed disrespectful, an insult to the woman who was by his side when he died. The woman who called him the love of her life and rightfully so.  He made a life with her.  Her grief more legitimate than yours.

Then you hear the words of a beautiful friend whom you heard say if you are afraid to write about it then write about it.

So you lay in bed and cry some more.  Then you get up.  Find your way to the kitchen, make coffee and eat raw cookie dough from the fridge while your real breakfast warms. You say morning to your family and let your dog out.  You say nothing about what has happened.  The kitchen caught in the twilight of morning does not give you away.

And then you climb the stairs and begin.


Do I begin with the fact that even though I broke away from you more than once and you broke me a dozen times that I thought about you everyday? Dreamt about you?  No, then where?

Because now, you are lying cold in the morgue a thousand miles away and I will never get to say goodbye or hello as I dreamed about?  There will be no trips to the big city to see you. No waking up with you and exploring your city? Because no matter where you lived, you were a New Yorker through and through.   No trips to see that cabin, the one you inherited from your mom.   Now there is nothing but your shell, memories and a thousand things unsaid and done.

No, I will begin with this.

I love you. Not loved, because I acknowledge that no matter how far apart we were, you always lived in my heart and mind and will continue to do so.  My heart held that loving you close to it.  She remembered how your voice wrapped me in seduction and coils around all the happy memories.  The day that you first kissed me. You directed it like a play, setting the stage and moving me into place.  I said my lines without even knowing it.  My heart, and lower places, remember the passion and excitement that never dulled. My mind, she clings with claws of steel to the harsher things; your long absences when we were officially a couple, the phone calls accusing me of cheating, and the text messages accusing me of not understanding your pain. My mind holds on to those like I bitterly held on to all of our text messages as records of the truth.

The truth that you loved me. The truth that you hurt me. And the truth that I allowed it all to continue.

*Note – this post was written hours after I found out I had lost him. My heart was shattered and this post is a reflection of that raw emotion. It was never my intention to paint him as a villain. The truth of the matter was our relationship was toxic at times because we didn’t learn to communicate which resulted in the two of us hurting each other at various points. In the end, we were communicating better and he had the love of woman who brought out the best in him.

Leaving

When I was a child, I sat on the edge of a single bed and listened as my father told me how he was going on a business trip. He never came back. He was, in fact, moving out.

The nuclear family I had been born into died that day. The funeral was the day all of us kids were seated around a lawyer’s conference table when the divorce was final. They gave us odd lemon cream cookies. The sweet stale taste cemented that day in mind.

There is a lot more I don’t remember from those days. Trauma sometimes bestows the gift of memory lost. I don’t remember yelling at my mother blaming her for his absence. Or how things changed. One day they were just different.

I don’t remember even fragments of the first time I met Papa. Pictures remind me of the day that he married my mother and how he took me to college, all of my things packed in the back of his truck. He came to get me in the same truck after graduation and took me to Florida and a new life.

I was there the day he sold that truck. He was so happy that the man who brought it told him what his plans were. His beloved truck was going on to be a farm truck. The truck that had moved our family time and time again would be working gain.

Papa came into my life when I was 14 years old. He gave my mother back to me. He gave me another big brother in Eric. He gave me the family I lost in my parent’s divorce. I understood living with him after college that family life while scared isn’t easy and as he taught me what it was like to have a dad, I taught him what it was like having a daughter.

I was his daughter. My sister’s children his grandchildren and he adored them.

Papa died today in 2018. His life ending in Orlando, Florida surrounded by Momma, my brother Eric and myself. Three years and my heart doesn’t ache any less.

It aches even more for Momma who lost the love of her life. For my nieces and nephews who lost a grandfather loved them unconditionally.

Papa, I love you. Thank you for being my dad and healing parts of me that I didn’t know where broken until you were gone.

Remembering Papa

Today, one year ago in the early morning hours in Florida Hospital Orlando, Papa ended his fight.  He was 71 years old.

Here is the obituary that I wrote for him. It wasn’t published in his hometown paper. A shorter more mundane version was published.  Momma didn’t think his Pennsylvania family would get it.  She was probably right.

13015292_827551220683527_6139950154635756402_nDennis “Papa” Teets 

Dennis “Papa” Teets died in Orlando, Florida on January 8th surrounded by his family at the age of 71.

He is survived by his mother, Beatrice, sister Cindy, his brother Dale, his wife, Patricia, son, Eric, stepchildren, Katherine, Marie, Frederick and Lucinda, grandchildren, Fredrick, Thomas, Emma and Anika. He is preceded into death by his beloved cat, Rambo.

He was born on April 14th, 1946, in Uniontown, PA. It was said when he was born, you could see the devil in his eyes.

He proudly served in the U.S. Army and spent a career working for the GSA. He was a slayer of demons and rescuer of damsels in distress, unless ocean waves were involved.

He wasn’t a perfect man. He didn’t always have the right words, but he loved his family and hated when he hurt them.

His family was his world. He liked to cause minor mischief reserving major mischief for leap years or when no one was looking. No one was good enough for his daughters and he always wondered where the second half of their skirts went to.

On August 3, 2018, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery .

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Writer, the Move and Death

This last year has been rockiest of my life.  In early July 2017,  I wrote about my heartbreak when my relationship of over a decade ended.  By early August, I had decided to move.

It was a long time coming; little of the move had to do with my Ex. He only helped in determining the place.  My beloved fairy godfathers had offered several times to help me move back to Virginia and get settled.   Looking around, I realized that there was nothing holding me back anymore.  Well one thing, telling Papa that I was going.

September came with Hurricane Irma.  My little yellow house, my precious little house survived the night. The power lasted until 5:20 am.  It flickered on and off until going out with a crack. It stayed off for four days, I was out of work for a week while they worked to restore power.

On the second day after the hurricane, I got a roommate and lost my office. It’s a long story and only parts of it are mine.

One causality of the hurricane was my purple PT cruiser.  The hurricane froze the brakes then electrical system decided it wanted attention.  For two weeks, I had to pop the hood every time I stopped the car to remove a fuse.

My incredibly wise sister convinced to go looking for a car.  I came home that day with a new car.   The man who sold it to me turned out to be a distant cousin. (thanks again, Cousin Martin)    Papa was there helping me make one of the biggest purchases of my life. It was one of the last times we went out.  The next time would be my birthday.

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Momma, Papa and Me – October 2017

Since May 2017, Papa’s was growing worse.  His cirrhosis which we were lead to believe was treatable was not so willing to be treated.  He was and out of the hospital. The road ahead for my parents looked bleak and was bleak.

My second year as a middle school teacher wasn’t going any smoother than the first year.  Mentally, I was checking in and out at work knowing that I won’t be at the school for another year. Professionally, I had a lot of things to do to prepare for my move. Motivation to move was strong. The motivation to do the things necessary for the move was not.   The paperwork for my new teaching license was left to the last minute.

Eventually all the change meant putting my plans to start a page on Patreon on hold.  I was writing, but not finishing much of anything. I couldn’t see myself asking for me to support my heart if I wasn’t producing it.  Starting and not finishing projects.  My mind was too scattered.  My life was being to be summarized by a series of things that I couldn’t get myself to do.

Thanksgiving came and Papa was in the hospital.  We celebrated our last Christmas as a family and then Papa went into the hospital for the last time.

He passed on January 8th of this year. Momma, my brother Eric and I were with him.  The whole night remains surreal.

img_4296Two weeks after he passed, I reconnected with an old friend. Not only did I have a mini adventure on Sanibel Island, but I am now planning on going to France next summer.

 

June 15th, I moved back to Virginia. Papa wasn’t told I was going. It was an open secret before his death.  Before I left Momma handed a framed picture of Papa to me.  It sits on my writing desk.

I feel at peace here in my new writing nook looking out the mountains. There are walks everyday. The writing routine that was pushed aside is coming back.

I still miss Papa. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the man who choose to be my father.

This Thursday, Papa will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery.  Our family hero will be laid to rest with dignity and respect.  I can not thank my friends and family enough for their patience, love and understanding this last year.  The brightest spots in the year were because of all of you.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Man Died

A good man died today, or maybe it was yesterday.

News of his passing just reached me today

A good man died

And in his honor I’m drinking some whiskey

Some sweet Jack that he would have liked

My heart weeps and my world quakes

But its foundations still hold firm

I may weep and I may wail

But my world has not been shattered.

My grief does sting , but it cannot, will not eclipse

That of those

Who held his heart their hands

Who lost their sun and moon today

To them and for them

I hold my glass up high

And weep still more tears

For grief, I cannot comprehend.

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I will miss you, Chris.  Be at peace, you are loved. You are remembered. 

Scattered

There are clothes tossed about the floor. My clothes, my floor,my bedroom floor. This isn’t the way things should be. This isn’t how I live or how I have been living for the last three years. Things get picked up and put away. Everything in order. My sleeping chamber a place of peace and tranquility. My haven within a haven.

Now everything is scattered about. Trashed. It isn’t so much the clothes. Although they are annoying, more annoying are the shoes. How is it that shoes never make their way back into my closet. They have homes there. Each and everyone of them a place, a home of its own. Still they are constantly wondering about. Just like the clothes now adorning the floor.

But I just can’t think with the smell you create. It makes me want to flee every time I come home.Into the room, I dash as soon as I get home spaying air freshener and get out of my work clothes. Then I drag  myself back out to the shed and get the machete.

Everyday, I chopped another bit of you off.  It has been quite difficult to dismantle you this way. I’ve had to boil some of you and break the bigger parts down with a hammer. Most days I am so tired afterwards, I barely have time to scrap you out from under my nails before bed. But rest assured, you won’t be a bother for much longer another couple weeks and I will have my room back and you will be returned to the earth. One doggie bag at a time.

Lu Friday’s Bookshelf

Misc 081Well, dear readers, I once again have a Kindle thanks to the generosity of a friend (Thanks Mr. Scott).  I have finished one book and am half way through another one.  In the morning before work, I am sitting down with my coffee and reading as I finish my breakfast. It is a relaxing way to start the day. I admit that leaving my books has been pretty hard this week, but to work we must all go.

Entera Files by Leanna Renee Hieber ~ A week in and I wish there was more time in the day to read.  Unfortunately, there is this little thing called work that gets in the way.  From the days after the assassination of  Abraham Lincoln to the streets of London, this story continues to delight and intrigue me. I can’t wait to see where it goes. The language is beautiful and the imagery amazing.

Here is the description of the book from Amazon:

London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire’s chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.

The Demise of Foxy Jack (Adventures of X Pirates of Book 1)  This is the latest book by Edward Medina and I can’t wait to read it.  Medina writes with the zeal of  showman and the talent of Shakespeare. You can find an excerpt on his blog, Just Sayin’.  The Demise of Foxy Jack follows up where the Murder of Crows left off. The second installment of the new X-Pirate series is coming out soon and I can’t until the next one and I haven’t even read this one, yet.

Want to add my book to your pile, Blood Child? It is available on Amazon. What’s on your reading pile? Come one, don’t leave a girl hanging…