The First Summer

The First Summer

The first time I mowed this year I cried.  I didn’t cry because it was the beginning of summer meaning I would be mowing nearly every week.  No, I was crying because reality struck hard, again.

Saturday morning, bright and early before I would have ever thought to wake up, my momma was outside on the mower with the biggest insulated mug she could find filled with iced tea.  She would spend hours mowing on that old green mower before it got too hot to deal with life outside of anything that didn’t have air conditioning.

A few summers we had a garden with family friends Rick and Nancy.  Evenings were spent weeding, watering, and general gardening care and love.  This was only after weekends spent tilling the land, planting, etc.

Mom and I would plant flowers.  Mostly they were the cheap seed packets you could buy at WalMart but sometimes we’d buy pretty blooming ones and repot them to show off on the front deck.  We took extra care with her rose bushes and made sure they were fed the best rose food we could find.

Some evenings we ate dinner on the front deck with Dusty and Missy laying at our feet waiting for something to drop.  The favorite go to during the summer was BLT sandwiches with fresh tomatoes from the garden.  Or, typically, just BT sandwiches because why have lettuce when we could have extra tomato?

The first time I mowed this summer it was like a walk down memory lane.

Underneath the oak tree in the front I remember how dad put the garden hose up in a branch so the water poured down one particularly hot summer.  The dog and I played for hours in the shade with that hose in the tree.  It was better than any sprinkler he could have bought us.

The old garden patch, the pain that is now growing so thick and tall whether or not it rains, made me cry the hardest.  Not only is my mom and dad gone but so is uncle Rick.  There were countless memories made there and laughter that still echoes to this day.

The spot by the barn where my brother has parked his fifth wheel reminded me of when we had a fifth wheel and all the trips we took across Kansas in it with Dusty.  One summer we spent my entire summer break in that fifth wheel and only came home for a day or two at the beginning of the month to pay bills.

The north spot north of the barn reminded me of the summer we had tilled and expanded the garden up there.  Neighborhood kids had come around and we spent a day playing in the mud.  Mom was furious when she got home because we were all covered head to toe in mud.

The reality hit me, again, that day as I mowed; mom and dad are gone.

My momma isn’t here to prod my ass up out of bed on a Saturday to get outside and work.

Dad isn’t here to continually and faithfully bring me water or iced tea as I make circles on the mower.

Momma isn’t here to tell me “I told you so.” when I get sunburned after forgetting to put sunscreen on after she had already reminded me twice.

Dad isn’t here to make burgers for lunch and to sit on the front deck and eat them with a cold Pepsi.

It’s just me and the memories.

And a dog who isn’t smart enough to lay in the shade instead of the sun.

 

Going Fishing

 

Dad used to take me fishing when I was a kid.  “Fishing” should be used relatively loose because what it was not was baiting a hook to catch a fish.  Instead my form of fishing involved putting each of dad’s lures on individually and casting out into the lake with the heaviest weight we could find and reeling it right back in almost immediately.  Dad later retold many of these fishing expeditions as “we washed all of the fishing lures”.

To me back then this was the coolest thing to do with my dad.  We would take off and spend a day down at Wellington or Winfield lake and go fishing.  Sometimes we took the dog with us!

My favorite fishing memory was one year at the Bortz family reunion out at Mead State Lake.  I don’t know what year it was or around how old I was but I most definitely still loved going fishing with my dad.

I’m sure it was a Saturday morning when we left the campsite after breakfast to go to the dock on the other side of the lake to go fishing.  My dad had this obsession and love with ball caps.  He collected them but typically only ever wore one or two of them consistently.  If you knew him, you know what I’m talking about; Ronnie didn’t leave the house without a hat.  The hats would get so dirty we’d run them through the dishwasher once or twice a year.

Things were going about normal, we sat at the end of the dock with dad’s big tackle box sitting between us and I had my fishing pole ready to go.  I began fishing by selecting my favorite lure from the tackle box and adding it to my line.  We probably hadn’t been out there more than twenty or thirty minutes when a gust of wind picked dad’s hat from his head and blew it out into the lake.

Before I knew it he was hollering at me to reel my line in so we could catch his hat.  Heaven forbid a nasty old hat get lost to the depths of Meade State Lake.  I reeled in and before he could have snatched my pole from me I sent a cast out again trying to get his hat.  He took the pole from me as soon as I reeled in and he sent cast after cast out until he finally hooked his beloved hat and was able to reel it back in to the safety of the dock.

I think the only thing that could have made it even more funny to a kid Jessie was if he had put the hat back on his head sopping wet from it’s dip in the lake.

Snake Acquaintances

Let me just start by saying I get freaked out just by thinking about snakes and I’m squirming in my chair as I begin to write this.

Snakes are gross and I do my very best to ignore the fact that I know I have some peacefully roaming in my yard.

It all started a few weeks ago when I went to town, aka: WalMart, and bought some RoundUp at the recommendation of a handful of people when I mentioned I had a lot of work out for the summer with thick overgrown weeds.  I went out on a nice sunny afternoon and began spraying.  Life was going well until I got to the fence line.  I saw the first one, screamed and almost went running for the house.  I was determined to finish spraying though so I continued on.  Then I saw the second one maybe two minutes later and screamed.  I called it quits after the second one that day because I think if I had seen a third one I would have quit working in the yard for the rest of the summer.

I’m 98% sure that the two snakes I saw on the fence were not the same snake.

Just a few days ago I finally got back outside and began mowing the jungle I let my yard turn into.  Again, I came across another snake.  I still screamed and did the heebie jeebie dance but I continued on – there was work to do and I wasn’t about to let anything stop me that day.

I managed to take a photo of a snake I ran over with the mower, it was still alive and squirming.  I think I only squished it with the wheels as my mowing deck was not low enough to actually kill it – what a shame.  I took this photo from the safety of being seated atop the mower and took it to my trusted sources in town who told me the snakes I’ve seen are good for getting mice and rats.

I suppose they can live as long as I don’t find any near the house.  All bets are off then.

Why am I sharing about my snakes when I don’t even like them? Well, because I’ve learned there’s a lesson here.

I’m single and I live alone.  I call my trusted sources and ask questions when my gut says “hey girl, don’t try fixing this by yourself call someone or at least hit youtube”.  I will ask if I really need help with something but at the end of the day I strive to be self sufficient.  I mean, Draco lives here but he’s a damn freeloader and won’t help me fix the door to the basement.

Spiders, mice, and snakes.  The three things that always prompt a “why can’t someone else be here?” thought in my head.  Sure, I scream every time I see a spider but now I don’t run away.  I kill it before I lose sight of it and freak out later.  In the winter months I was catching mice right and left and I eventually just had to deal with it. And now, I’m learning how to deal with my acquaintances.

The lesson with the snakes is reminding me that I don’t have someone else to rely on and I have to buck up and handle the less than desirable things myself.  Even if it means I turn the mower around and squish the snake again for good measure.

Worth Loving

 

I roamed my pinterest boards for a quote I felt like I could share confidently and I found this gem tucked away in one of my boards near the end.

“I don’t know a perfect person. I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” – John Green

I don’t even know where I want to begin with this one, to be honest.

Before my momma got really sick I was in a spot in my life where I was pretty quick to judge someone on their character upon how they were acting directly in that moment.  Snappy responses to the checkout clerk, exasperated replies to the waiter who was interrupting too frequent.  It was easy to make a quick judgement right there on the spot on someone’s character not knowing the first thing about them or their life.

But then some big shitty life things happened and I understood.

There are numerous things that cause stress, worry and anxiety in everyone’s lives.  Am I saying it’s okay to snap at people? Nope, not one bit.   I don’t have a great day everyday and sometimes I’m less than pleasant to deal with. I hope others will treat me with grace and understanding on those days as I remember my very best to return the favor to others.  I check myself, daily and some days I check myself every time I’m interacting with people and I begin to make those judgements.

We’re all doing life together and life gets shitty, there is no way to get around that.  The days or moments that bring out a little devil in you may be the days you just need some understanding from a stranger.

Each of us are worth loving because one brief interaction does not define who we are as a person.

 

 

San Antonio

Last July I took off down 1-35 south for a college visit at the University of North Texas in Denton.  I was going to be gone two days, staying the first night in Gainesville and then the second night in Arlington with cousins.  Two nights, no further south than Arlington.  Well, two, two and a half weeks later I ended up back in Kansas.  My trip extended to stay in the Arlington/Fort Worth area to explore with my cousins and then on south to the Houston area to see my big brother before I met up with friends in Galveston.  Then, instead of going home from there I followed my friends to San Antonio because I had never been and it was on the list.  I didn’t have anything tying me down to a strict schedule so I was determined to visit the Alamo.

I often refer to this trip as the “Grand Texas Adventure” because there was so much I did and I did it a lot of it solo too.  The long hours driving with a crappy stereo and navigating big city rush hours was all me, by myself.

San Antio was at the end of my Grand Texas Adventure.  I was sick and tired of driving and in four days I would be back on the road for several hours on the way back to Kansas.  I didn’t want to worry about parking: finding a place to park my car, remembering where I parked, paying for parking.  So I used Uber for the first time.  Uber was seriously the best thing than enhanced my San Antio time.  I had great conversations with my drivers, they gave me the run down on the absolute must visit places like their favorite water walk bars, restaurants, and their favorite missions to visit.

After I checked into my hotel I got downtown and met my friends at the Alamo.  We were hanging around there when I started looking online about the hotel across the street, the Emily Morgan.  I love travel related things. I love history.  So when I found things claiming the Emily Morgan was haunted I wanted to dig in.  I found a walking ghost tour of the historic downtown and asked my friends if they wanted to go with me.  All three of them said “hell no.”

That didn’t stop me.  I booked it.

We ate lunch at the County Line on the Riverwalk and then went on to SeaWorld.  Which, in case you’re wondering, San Antonio SeaWorld is not entirely conducive for people like me who burn easily because there was very very little shade and I really got to know the Texas sun.  SeaWorld was where I rode a roller coaster for the first time since I was a kid at Disney Land and my brother bribed me to go on it with ice cream and then failed to pay up until years later.

When I went back to the Riverwalk the next day I did a boat tour which was awesome purely because the others on the tour were fun and enjoyed joking around and our guide was spectacular.  I ate lunch at Rita’s on the Riverwalk and it seemed to freak every single employee out that I was dining alone and was not expecting anyone else.  I watched as a mariachi band played live at tables around me and enjoyed life.

Later when I came back downtown for souvenir shopping and to find where I was supposed to meet the ghost tour group at I stopped in at a bar to have a drink.  To this day this is the first and only bar I have been to solo that has not been in my hometown.

The ghost tour gave me what I wanted: local history.  I learned about the buildings and what they were originally (mostly medical buildings), and about the weird reported things that happened in those buildings.  Do I believe it all? No.  But did I have fun? Yes.  If anything, I got to experience part of the city at night that I wouldn’t have ever done otherwise because I would have stayed on the Riverwalk.

The next chance I get to go back to San Antonio I will take it purely based on the fact that I didn’t get in much other than the Alamo and the Riverwalk and there is so much more I want to experience.

 

The Doggo

The Doggo.

El Doofus.

The Old Man.

Mr. Bed Hog.

His actual name is Draco but it seems he’ll answer to Doofus or Shithead more often than not.  He came to our home years ago after our dog mini pin Dusty died from cancer.  Our other dog, Missy the fat wiener dog was grieving so hard without her companion Dusty whom she had grown up with since she joined the family as a little pup.  Dad was grieving really hard too over Dusty, the dog he used to take with him everywhere including Dillons. No shit, he’d tuck a baby Dusty into his jacket and take him to get groceries.   Really, up until recently, I didn’t really know how Draco ended up here at our house.  Our ever-loving friends in Cheney were concerned for the dog and dad and decided we needed another four-legged friend to join the fam.

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When Draco was dropped off our house I begged and begged to pick his name.  This was back in my peak Harry Potter crazed fan days and every single name I threw out to my mom was Harry Potter related.  She hated pretty much all of them except Remus.  But I insisted on Draco.  She caved, I know purely on the grounds she was tired of hearing me whine.

Since I’ve moved back home I had to make the difficult decision to put our old Missy girl down after she got really sick.  That left just Draco and me to weather the journey of life together living alone, like tornado threats, killing spiders and trapping mice.

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He hogs my twin bed.

He spills his food.

He still barks at the mower and the vacuum even though he knows what’s going to happen.

He won’t let me poop alone.

He’s my doggo.

 

Behind the Blog

When I started this blog it was for me.  I wanted a place to share musings of grieving a parent I was extremely close with.  But I realized quickly it was more than just that, it was going to be a place that I could figure out how and document the navigation of my life without my mom being a part of it.

I didn’t really have time to write or at least force myself to push through the emotional baggage I was trying so hard to ignore in the months following the creation of this space.  It was after my dad died and I went to a group talk therapy meeting that words, written or spoken, can help the processing of loss and grief.  It was also then that I realized I’m not alone even though I felt (and honestly, I still sometimes do) alone.

No one ever thinks that the terrible things like losing a loved one is going to happen, but it does.  Sometimes you can see it coming, other times it’s just seemingly random act that happens.  Regardless of whether or not I was expecting either of my parents to die in a year or any other circumstance I’ve found myself in in the last year, I take some solace in knowing that there are other people out there who have been down a path similar to me.

I guess, in a way, my urge to write and share through the pain is in hopes that one day if there is some twenty-something kid who lost a parent is feeling lost like I am right now, comes across something in this space I have created and knows that they aren’t alone and they too can and will survive.

This is for me and for you, whoever you are.