Monday, June 02, 2008


Home...and so very glad to be here. I’ve missed of my quiet little life and my quiet little home and my sweet husband.

The trip was both good and very difficult. I was so far outside of my comfort zone this trip.

Home...where we have structure and our routine instead of chaos. I’ve missed the normalcy of our life where the day’s activities and mealtimes are mostly planned.

The days there are completely unstructured. Everyone goes to bed and gets up when they want to, even the smaller grandchildren...who may stay up until 2 a.m. playing computer games even when the adults go to bed around 10 p.m. Whatever happens is fine. No planning of any part of the day, whatsoever. Breakfast is anytime from 10 a.m. to noon. Dinner is sometime between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. - whenever everyone gets hungry enough and my stepmother is ready to fix it. No midday meal, just potato chips and candy available for whenever anyone wants a snack. The biggest events of the day are letting the dogs out to run the property and watering the gardens...whenever they decide to do it.

Home...where even when our home is messy, it is just a simple mess and clutter. I’ve missed feeling clean.

I admit to being a lazy housekeeper at times and a messy person, but I’ve never seen anything like this before. The only word to describe it is squaller. Outside, there are at least a dozen junk cars on the property. Some are just rusting hulks with parts already gleaned from them, some are waiting for dissection. There are 2 buildings that are each equal size to the house - each used for storage of unknown stuff, completely full. Inside the house are pathways to chairs, kitchen, bedrooms, between the bed and the door, etc. No open space at all...mostly I think due to a hoarder mentality. With the exception of the dishes, nothing inside the house has been cleaned since I was there 4 years ago. There are items on shelves that have not been moved in those 4 years, with the accumulated dust and filth of those years showing. The entire house smells of urine since one of the toilets overflows daily. They bathe once a week, brush their teeth twice a week and change clothes about every 4 days. In New Mexico the temperature is about 85 this time of year...and everything there pretty much stinks.

Home...where we have actual quiet and calm. I’ve missed the simplicity of quiet.

I like a good TV show or movie and will usually play my music pretty loudly. There are 5 TV’s at my birth father’s home. All of them are on, 24/7...and loud! There are 7 living grandchildren, any or all of whom are on site at any given time. Everyone is clamoring to be heard over the noise of the TV’s or the other people.

Home...where we have actual conversations with one another instead of thinking out what stories we will tell while the other person is talking. I’ve missed the give and take of a real conversation.

My sweet husband and I sometimes argue that the other person is not listening...but it’s not completely true. We hear one another and respond to the conversation or “spirited discussion” appropriately. There, everyone is so busy thinking up the next story to tell or what they want to say that nobody ever asks a thing about anyone else. It was a time of being talked “at” instead of talked “with”. One would think that a birth family would want to get to know a person...what they think, like, want, do, etc. Apparently it was more important to ignore what I was saying about my life (when I could say anything at all) and tell me more about the things they have done.

Home...where we have openness coupled with caring instead of undercurrents of fear, concern and hostility. I’m so grateful that my sweet husband and I discuss the things in life that make us concerned for one another - whether health, work or just daily things.

My birth father is 82 and starting to fail, but nobody will talk about it. I could see the concern, but it was very obvious that it was not open for discussion even if I had not been there. My sister is just beginning to allow herself to grieve the loss of her 17 year old son who died in November. No one will talk about it with her. Instead, they watch her with deep concern, but will not even ask her how she is doing. I did...and discovered that she is in a self-destructive mode. I am so glad I asked, because we were able to talk through some of her grief and how to get her some help so that she gets out of the self-destructive mode. She will never truly get over the loss of her son, I understand that part, but she needs to be able to cope and move out of self-destruct mode.

Home...where making up after an argument is sweet without requiring a trip to the ER and another argument is waiting on your return.

My sister’s oldest son spent much time with his dad after the divorce. Sadly, he was told many things about his mother that were not true. There is bitterness, resentment, and a large lack of respect. The night before I arrived, they got into a fight and he threw a kitchen chair at her...causing a bruised heel-bone and the need for crutches for the next several weeks or months. Another night while I was there, they got into a yelling fight just after I went to bed. The only way I could cope with their fight was to turn on the fan, put my pillow over my ears and whisper to myself, “shut up, shut up, shut up!” I worry about them both.

Home...where I am loved. I didn’t miss out on being loved.

In spite of all the stuff I’ve written, they love me and are not afraid to show it. There was a little planning to show me the areas they tell me about - where they hunt elk for meat, where they camp, where they log trees for firewood - going 4-wheeling in those areas, and also a massive family BBQ where we laughed and teased one another. Even me, as if I’d lived there always. I wish this post didn’t sound so judgmental. I love them and am glad I went. The contrast between our lives is just so harsh.


...may there be mercy as I process all the emotions of this trip.


Karen :) said...


Eleanor said...

(((Cheri))) -- Aside from the mess (my in-laws all keep very, very clean houses), this is what trips to their homes are like. I totally get it. I am glad you are back in your space!!