Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Paddle away the blues

Sometimes being here at the house my parents built without them gets a little sad. Though it’s beautiful here it’s also filled with lots of memories.

Savoring the stillness.

Everywhere.

So the other evening, feeling a bit melancholy, I took a little paddle upstream. The evening was warm and still.

Mountains of clouds.

I spent a little time just sitting near the green trees, floating in the water, the clouds reflected all around me. It was just what I needed to fix my blues.

Green reflected in green.

Being a weekday it was quiet, all the weekend lake lovers had to go back to their jobs and city lives. But as I was paddling back to the house a big pontoon boat slid by me creating large waves that gently rocked my kayak. I waved at them. They waved back at me.

Rocking in warm waters.

Southern living. It’s a good thing.

The day’s clouds produced no rain for us. This time.

I headed home to wait for the evening’s sunset.

Perfect.

Pretty in pink.


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Saying goodbye to WordPress Photo Challenges

I’ve enjoyed doing the WordPress Photo Challenges over the years, but this week, with no explanation, they have decided to stop. The last photo challenge is to post your all time favorite photo.

Well that’s not going to happen. Even if I found the time to sort through thousands of images I’m fairly certain I don’t have an all time favorite.

Broken heart and tears.

So I’ll post an image I took yesterday. It represents my broken heart and feeling of loss.


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Best of Carson

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Khalil Gibran

Hi there!

For many years one of the joys of spending time here at the lake was a neighboring dog named Carson. We’ve watched him grow up from a soft fluffy bundle of joyous energy …

OK, I’ll hold still for your photo lady. But be quick about it!

…to a soft fluffy sophisticated man about town of eleven.

You’ve been taking my picture for years! I just keep looking better!

Carson liked to visit everyone in the neighborhood, and he seemed to know when we were in town, showing up by the door to check in with us, sometimes meeting us at the car when we unloaded luggage. Each time he asked for an ear rub or a tummy tickle.

That’s a good spot lady!

He wouldn’t decline a treat if you happened to have one on you…

nom nom nom

…but mostly, for Carson, it was about a little loving, a little play. And the lake.

My favorite place to be – my lake!

His favorite thing to do was to walk along the shoreline, knee or chest deep in the water, hunting for those pesky minnows. When he found some he’d pounce on them and then grin.

There’s one over THERE!

All summer you could find him in the water. And year-round you could find him on a neighbor’s porch, getting some loving.

Hey Katie-girl…want to PLAY?

Katie wasn’t too sure about him visiting us. It wasn’t that she was afraid of him. But he was so big…and when he barked it was with one deep baritone WOOF! She always jumped.

She just didn’t know what to make of him, but the rest of us? We loved Carson. It didn’t matter that he didn’t belong to us, we all just loved him.

Is he still back there mama?

Carson was most famous for being the softest dog any of us had ever touched. And he smelled good. Yes he was a dog, and yes he loved to wade in the lake, the muddier the better, but he always started each day smelling good.

You still taking pictures lady?

I imaged he took a shower with his person each morning because he always used to smell like Irish Spring soap. This last week he smelled like some other shampoo, but he still smelled too pretty to be a boy.

Everybody loved Carson, the dog that smelled so good.

Sunset is my time to head for home. See you tomorrow lady!

Sadly Carson crossed the rainbow bridge this week, suddenly and without warning. I’m so glad he stopped by a couple times since I’ve been here this trip so that I got some Carson loving.

My last Carson loving.

But man. We are all so going to miss him. I look for him every time I leave the house, he was so often sitting on my porch. I look for him along the lake shore. I listen for his bark.

We’ll always remember you sweetie!

I am more than sad. But I’m trying to remember that I was lucky to know him.

Somehow it’s not enough.

Who wouldn’t love this face?


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Red bird

Aunt Vi’s funeral was Tuesday. She looked beautiful, and though I know she was no longer there, I have to think she’d have been pleased by how pretty she was.

Pink was her favorite color.

She was so ready to move on to her next chapter that I could only feel relief for her. Still, it was hard walking past her for the last time at the end of the service. “I’ll see you soon,” I thought, words I’d often used as I left after visiting.

It was hard, too, to leave her at the cemetery, amid the piles of snow scraped from the ground to make room for her pink casket.

It was so cold that day.

She hated to be cold, and at the last nursing home she took advantage of having her own thermostat to keep her room toasty warm. Tropical, I used to tell her. “Are you too warm dear?” she’d ask me. “No, I’m just fine,” I’d tell her as sweat ran down my back.

It felt wrong to leave her in the cold now.

I knew she wasn’t really there, that she was already celebrating with family and friends, someplace filled with light and music and love and completeness. I knew this, but still.

A beautiful resting place for a beautiful lady.

And then, during the luncheon, all of us sitting in the rec room of the apartment building she had lived in for over twenty-five years, someone across the table from me exclaimed “Look! A cardinal!”

Sitting in a tree just outside the large windows sat a lone cardinal, staring intently at the goings on inside.

“You know Vi really loved cardinals,” I remarked. “She called them red birds.” The red bird outside moved to a different tree, still watching the people inside.

Maybe…just maybe.

The next day Katie-girl and I headed to Alabama in an effort to get away from the snow and cold. Midway on the trip we stopped in a tiny little town in Kentucky at a riverside park to stretch our legs. I took a short video of us walking along the river and posted it on Facebook. A nephew noted that he heard a cardinal in all the bird chatter I captured. Hmmmm…

I stopped by the cemetery on my way out of town the day after the funeral. The flowers hadn’t frozen.

And today on our final day of driving, at the last rest stop of the trip, Katie and I were walking along the top of a ravine. The sun was shining and we were enjoying it’s warmth when a cardinal swooped down low to a branch very near us and began to sing.

“OK!” I said, under my breath. “OK! I believe you!” And then the bird flew off into the trees. Mission accomplished.

She said she’d try to send me a sign that she was alright. I’d say she got her message across.

Loud and clear.

Buddy and all her birds are with her now.

.


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Lonely

I’ve been wondering, lately, what it’s like to be bedridden, with failing eyesight, sitting for more than a year in a small room, dependent on other people to do everything for you.

I’ve been wondering what it’s like to never know what your next meal will be, but being certain you won’t want to eat any of it. Except the ice cream.

With Buddy

What is it like to know you’ll never have a piece of fresh fruit, or your favorite holiday meal again. To spend your days waiting. For visitors, for your medications, for someone to change your sheets, bring you another blanket, a fresh pillow.

What’s it like to know the only escape from this room will be death?

She and I had a nice visit on Monday afternoon. She was in a good mood; the sun was shining and she let me open the blinds so she could see the light. She told stories from the old days, stories about her husband and her son, long gone before her, stories about growing up in northern Minnesota and the winters there.

She was surprised and a little proud of the fact that she was a hundred and two and a half years old. She never imagined she’d outlive so much of her family, so many friends.

The last birthday party.

Tuesday she was less jovial. Her clothes weren’t hung up correctly, the light hurt her eyes, lunch had been terrible, the staff wasn’t helpful.

Mostly she was lonely.

And that’s my one regret. That there wasn’t some way to keep her entertained, to get more people to visit, even for a few minutes, to convince her to get out of bed and into her wheelchair to explore the facility.

A few years ago during happier times.

I wish I had taken her fresh grapes and half a banana last week. Or that personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut she talked about my last day with her. Oh I know I baked her favorite cookies on occasion, and I brought her flowers from our garden, and a pretty white tree with pink bows and birds on it that my sister made for her. I know most people would think I did enough.

But she was lonely.

And that’s why I’m not sad that she escaped her room Saturday morning. Today her eyes work just fine and she’s enjoying the company of her husband and her son and all her sisters and many of her brothers. Today she’s hugging her mom again, and spending time with her dad. Today she’s dancing again. And best of all, today she is no longer lonely.

Aunt V’s 100th birthday

A few months ago she and I talked about what might be waiting on the other side. She didn’t want to talk about that much, she insisted she didn’t want to leave us, that she’d miss us once she had to go. I asked her if she’d try, once she was there, to find a way to give me a sign that she was alright. She grinned and said she’d be sure to do that.

So today begins my wait. I’ll be waiting to see what she comes up with, how she’ll let me know she’s safe and warm and happy. I know in my heart that she is.

But for now I’m just a little lonely.

Last Monday, it was a good day.


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Ambushed

Ambush: Make a surprise attack from a concealed position.

I’m trying to declutter the house in preparation for the painter. We’ve lived here a long time, and, I guess I haven’t put things away as promptly as I might have.

I thought I’d start with the guest bedroom – how hard could it be to sort through the stuff piled on the dressers in there? I was sure most of it could be tossed.

But under the piles of old sheet music, bad clarinet reeds, the patterns for sweaters I might have wanted to knit once upon a time, the maps of campgrounds and parks I’ve visited, under all that detritus, was a stack of Christmas cards.

I know I keep Christmas cards way too long. They sit in a basket on the kitchen counter until the next holiday season comes along. And then I have to just toss them all at once, I can’t look through them or I won’t be able to heave them into the trash. So why would a stack of Christmas cards be sitting on a dresser in a guest room?

I shouldn’t have looked.

They are from 1997; cards and holiday letters from many people who are long gone. Cards from people who are gone from my life because relationships faded, divorces happened, or they moved and we just lost touch. And an awful lot of them have died, including one of my best friends, my adopted up north grandma, my father-in-law (that’s him in the center), my sister-in-law, and my own parents.

Merry Christmas, circa 1997

So I’ve sorted through the stack, and have saved the very special hellos and happy holidays, the handwritten notes and newsy letters of those that have gone ahead, and tossed the rest into the trash. But, man, being ambushed by so many memories sure took the wind out of my cleaning sails.

And if you’re wondering how the paint decision is going, I went back to Lowe’s and got four more samples this morning.

It’s complicated.

More of the same.


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Giving Tuesday

In between the gratitude of Thanksgiving and the joyous giving of Christmas there is something called Giving Tuesday. It’s not as old a tradition as either of the two bigger holidays, but it’s intent is just as important to thousands of nonprofit groups around the world.

This year it’s tomorrow.

And, as some of you know, I’ve been volunteering with an organization called the Truck Safety Organization for almost 13 years, ever since dad was killed by a tired trucker in December of 2004.

Dad and me. We were both so young!

This year I’m fundraising for them. 2018 looks pretty challenging for us financially as well as legislatively. We’re spread very thin as we try to make the roads safer for everyone, including those driving trucks.

The Truck Safety Coalition is made up of two groups; Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH). If one group resonates more for you than the other, you can donate just to that one. Or you can donate to the Truck Safety Coalition and the money will be split between them.

So if you have a little bit to spare after your Black Friday and Cyber Monday stop by our website. There’s a Paypal button you can use. Or of course you can write a check. The address is 3100 Clarendon Blvd Suite #200, Arlington, VA 22201

And if you don’t get it done tomorrow on the official day…well…I’m OK with donations the rest of the week, and the rest of the year too.

A Christmas past. When we were all together.

This year we had 65 people attend our Sorrow to Strength conference, many of them new families. I can personally testify that grieving people need to spend time and talk and receive advice from other people who have been in their position. We’re the only group that provides that service and we want to be able to help more families next year. Because sadly there will be more families next year. It’s inevitable and we need to be there for them.

Every little bit helps, don’t think that your donation won’t make a difference. And either in the note section of Paypal or the memo line when writing a check, please note “Bill Badger” so they know your donation is in honor of my dad. That way I’ll know to say thank you for your help.

We all drive on our roads along side big trucks. Most of us have just been lucky not to be touched by tragedy. Help us help those families who haven’t been so lucky.

And thank you for listening to me when I get on my soapbox about trucks and legislation and technology and above all hope.

I miss you dad. Every single day.

Reading the Sunday comics after church.


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Tidal wave

Tonight on my drive home from visiting Aunt Vi I heard Keith Urban’s song Female. The lyrics caught my attention and I turned up the volume.

When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl
How does that hit you?
Is that such a bad thing?
When you hear a song that they play saying you run the world
Do you believe it?
Will you live to see it?

When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it
Just cause she was wearing a skirt
Now is that how it works?
When somebody talks about how it was Adam first
Does that make you second best?
Or did he save the best for last?

Click the link above for the complete lyrics, and short interviews by the song writers Shane McAnally, Ross Cooperman, and Nicolle Gaylon. Urban has a statement there too. The piece was written in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault claims.

The claims against people continue daily. It seems at times like a tidal wave of voices clamoring to be heard and it can be overwhelming, almost desensitizing.

Some want it to stop.

I understand that. We seem to be trapped in a bad loop, the stories of abuse overlapping each other. And worse, sometimes it’s people we’ve held in high regard being accused of outrageous behavior.

It’s hard to watch.

But here’s the thing. Each of these voices deserves to be heard. And the volume, as huge as it seems to be, is only on a small percentage of the total outrageousness that has happened for years.

For years and years.

Some of us see these stories and think that the things that happened to us aren’t that bad, not life changing nor life threatening. It was just the way things were ‘back then.’ And we don’t join in the tidal wave because we feel that what happened to us wasn’t that significant.

But by staying silent we help keep the whole truth from being told. These incidents will continue to be under reported. The problem won’t seem as big as it really is. Maybe some people will think that it has resolved itself.

Clearly it has not.

I think back to my early days at work when four of us, newly out of college, were hired on the same day for the same position. We were all management trainees, assigned periods of time in different departments. When review time came around I found out that another trainee was given a bigger raises than me. I asked why. Turns out it was because he was a young man with a family. I was a single woman. I protested but got nowhere.

Later in my early career I was working in an appraisal department, I was supposed to be trained in the work of an appraiser. Everyone in that department was male. I spent the first several weeks sitting in the office answering the phone while the men went out and did appraisal work. I complained. A vice president came down to talk to the head appraiser. I could hear voices raised in the office behind me. “What am I supposed to do with her?” When the weather got bad they sent me out with a tape measure and a clipboard to measure houses while they counted the rooms and took pictures inside.

In another department the manager in charge told me he liked my blouse while staring at my chest. I mostly tried to avoid him, and when he abruptly left the company years later I was glad and not surprised. There was no talk about why he no longer worked for us but I could guess.

Decades later I was patted on the butt by a passing manager and when I complained to management was told I probably imagined it because he was a ‘nice guy.’ Yes he was a nice guy. But I didn’t imagine it.

None of these incidents were as bad as the events claimed by Harvy Weinstein’s accusers. Or Charlie Rose’s or Bill Cosby’s. But they were events that happened to me, and probably to other women that I knew.

The culture was such that you didn’t talk about these things. Because you weren’t believed, because you needed your job. Because the men were always in places of power. And because you weren’t.

So I hope the news doesn’t move on to the next big story. I hope more women feel powerful enough to talk about what happened to them. I hope more people realize that it’s been everywhere. And more importantly, that it still is everywhere.

More people, people with power, men or women, need to make it clear that behavior that many of us have experienced will not be tolerated. I hope that people who have in the past or are still suffering from various forms of abuse will feel supported and encouraged to say something.

I hope that eyes are being opened.

Meanwhile, many thanks to songwriters McAnally, Cooperman, Gaylon and artist Urbin for writing what many of us have been feeling.

I hope this truly is the beginning of change, that the world will be significantly different when the tidal wave recedes. But darn, change is hard.


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Washington in review

It was unexpected and unplanned, but our trip to Washington DC was important. I meant to write on Tuesday evening, after we watched the morning confirmation hearing on the nominated Administrator to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). But after the hearing we spent the afternoon in meetings with ours and other Senators offices and by the time we limped back to the hotel I was too tired to write.

And I meant to write about our experiences on Wednesday evening, and on Thursday night after our appointments on the Hill but each evening turned into a night of note writing from the day’s work and preparation for the day ahead. No time to write about the experience for you.

And now here it is Sunday night and the passion I felt during the week is ebbing and though I’m not as tired as I was, I somehow feel reluctant to try to capture it all, to put it down, because I don’t think I can make you understand just what it all means.

But I’ll try.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). It issues and enforces regulations that rule the way trucks move across the country. They set the hours that can be driven, monitor safety issues like sleep and the mechanics of the vehicles, and handle many other things. They are very important to our work at the Truck Safety Coalition.

After almost a year of this Administration an Administrator for the FMCSA has finally been nominated. We at the TSC wanted to hear what he had to say, so we attended the confirmation hearing. Mr. Martinez said a lot of the right things. He comes from New Jersey, heading their Department of Motor Vehicles. He doesn’t know anything about trucks, but he seems to be committed to safety. So I’m willing to give him a chance to show us with actions.

After the hearing my husband and I, along with a staff member of TSC, met with the transportation staff at each of my Senators’ offices. We talked about things that have been left hanging at the DOT since the beginning of the year, other things in the works that have been repealed by the current Administration.

The rest of the week was spent in a similar fashion, going from meeting to meeting in either Senate or House offices, looking for support of our safety causes. We talked about the successful side underride crash tests. We are looking for support of legislation to make underride guards mandated. And we found people that are interested in the developments. It’s progress.

At each meeting I pull out the picture of my dad, Bill, and the picture of what his car looked like after his crash. I look into dad’s eyes and silently promise him that we won’t give up. We won’t give up even though I’ve been making these trips to Washington D.C. for thirteen years. Sometimes multiple times a year. In one of our last meetings of this week I told the staffer that my dad comes with me on every trip to D.C. The staffer looked confused but dad and I smiled at each other.

My husband and I ate dinner one evening in the lower level of Union Station, near the Capital. Tired, and standing just outside the diner sliding out of my dress shoes and into my running shoes, feet aching, I noticed some signs just above the counter where people were enjoying their dinner.

“Excellent food.” ” Bill eats here.”

Yes, why yes he did. Because he’s always with me when I’m in D.C. And everywhere else too. We made some progress during this past week. We talked to lots of people, even some that are usually on the other side of our arguments. There’s interest in saving lives on both sides of the aisle.

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you apprised of developments. There may come a time when I’ll need you to call your Representative and/or Senator and ask for their support on proposed legislation. Meanwhile we’ll keep fighting the fight, talking about safety and trucks and our roads to everyone that will listen.

Dad was always all about safety. He still is. I guess I am too.