Saturday, July 28, 2012

Living through Death

There are all sorts of life-changing events. There is high school graduation, and the moment when you walk across the stage and realize you can conquer the world.

There is the moment you realize the man you are dating is "the one" and you say a resounding YES! to his popped question. 

Of course the day you actually walk down the aisle and say I do, is only shadowed by the day you both realize you are expecting your first child. Words can not express the changes you undergo physically, mentally and spiritually as a result of the birth of your baby. How the miracle of a new life alters yours forever. 

There are changes that come from realizing "the one" wasn't and now you are among the ranks of the divorced single parents. Talk about realizing you don't know shit from shinola. That is life altering.

There are the changes that come with achieving your degrees, having more children, finally finding the one, marrying him and creating a life. Not one you ever thought you would have. 

There are events in a lifetime that alter so absolutely and completely that we are never, ever the same. Death is one of these events. 

Instinctively we know that death changes everything through the absence of someone, and the permanence of it's finality. These changes are obvious in how the living go on about their lives. But it's the little changes that strike me so much more than the obvious ones. 

I know you are probably thinking "where is this coming from and where is she going with this?" I promise I have a point. Just bear with my train of thought.

Three weeks ago my uncle, his wife (my aunt), my cousin and my grandmother arrived here in Deutschland. This was the first time I had seen my grandmother since my grandfather passed last July. It's coming up on a year since his death and the changes I have noticed in her, while subtle, speak volumes of the absence of my grandfather. 

Mind you she is 84 and spent the better part of 64 years with him, but his absence and the reality of death has really changed her, and that saddens me. 

She seems less independent now. Less able to make simple decisions about what to eat, and what to drink. 

She seems unable or unwilling to be alone. Being left in a room alone makes her call out for someone to come sit in the room with her. 

She speaks about times past when she travelled and how much she was able to do. 

She speaks with longing about times with my grandfather and things they did together. 

She still has a memory like an elephant and maybe that makes things harder. I don't know for sure. However she can recall with accuracy all sorts of past events and comments and weird instances in which she visited me at different duty stations. She can even remember details about the homes I have lived in. Things that I can't even remember! But then again, she always had a great memory... so much has changed there. 

She has more aches and pains, and visits the doctor more frequently. I think she worries more about her health. 

She seems more needy now. Perhaps it isn't my grandfather's death and just more the fact that she is getting older. 

She seems displaced and she complained that when her apartment was sold many things were "lost". She complained that people get rid of things or took things. She seemed very agitated and upset that her things were now "missing." I can't imagine being self-sufficient for years and now having to live with your son. 

Perhaps I am the one who is looking for changes since his death. Perhaps I'm just scared that the older she gets, the closer to losing her I get. That is a hard reality to face. 

I know someday I will have to deal with her passing. But for now I am trying to deal with her getting older and frailer. That is scary enough. I just wish there was a way to ease her loneliness and pain at losing her life's companion.

I wish I could ease her pain at living through his death.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Welcome back, Kotter

So this past year in Germany I have been unable to find a teaching job. Not for lack of trying, because my application has been in for the last two years. My only contact with the teaching world has been through my position as a substitute teacher at the local intermediate school, and of course my friends who are still teaching. This was a challenge because I am a high school teacher. I like teaching that age group, hence why I am certified in that area. Intermediate is 3rd-5th. Yes third grade through fifth grade. This age group is only fun is they are your little crumb snatchers, not someone else's.

But either way, I did it. I subbed and survived this year. 

Then I get an email while we are stateside. "Can you interview this Friday?" NOOOOO!!!!   I wasn't going to be back from the US yet. Just my luck. 

After missed flights, jet lag, and scheduling conflicts I got my interview. And I ROCKED IT! That and a great letter of recommendation from my previous principal, which didn't hurt any at all. Hell I wasn't sure if he had the right person when I was reading it! Thankfully he actually mentioned me by name so I am pretty sure he was talking about me. 

So I got the job. WHOOP! WHOOP! My inner goddess is doing the Ally McBeal baby dance.

The job is only part-time, but it's a perfect fit for my Euro lifestyle. (AKA Travel Whore)

I will teach 3 classes a day every other day. Yup...part-time teaching ROCKS!

This schedule couldn't be better if I had created it myself. Because of the nature of the school's A/B day rotation, one week I work 2 days and the other I work 3 days. It still leaves me plenty of time to continue my work-outs, keep up with my travel whoring, do the BS mom thing, and I might even keep my little bar tending gig. Who knows? The possibilities are endless! Ok well maybe not endless...but you get my drift.

I am excited! I am thrilled to be back in a classroom. I am excited to get back to teaching, and doing what I love. I am just excited to feel relevant again. That my friends is the biggest part of all of this. I will matter again.

I know I matter to my family and friends, but there is validation in doing what you love and loving what you do. This matters to me, and it completes the circle of who I am.

So the song plays in my head...
Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.
Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.
Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)
Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

P.S. Hopefully I haven't dated myself with the references to old TV series.  :)

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