The leather handbag & the insulated mug

My friends, I apologize for my sporadic posting and will honestly try to do better. Thing is, if I don’t have anything to say, I don’t post. I really don’t like to scramble for subject matter and that would probably explain why it’s taken me so long to actually write a book. Even with that, I was sidetracked. I kinda go with my gut, as it were, so if I feel an opinion coming on or something gets in my head and I can’t shake it,  then I’ll write. Be it my blog or private written journal or private e-journal, I add these collections of thoughts to clear my brain for more…stuff. I saw an interview with Nora Roberts this morning on CBS News Sunday Morning and was glad to learn that she too has the same issue: too many things in one’s head at any given time. She also said that writing is hard. If you’ve taken on the task of a writing project then yes, it is. If you’re allowed the freedom of writing what you want, when you want, then to me, it isn’t. (meaning a blog)

The past couple weeks have been rather eventful, and my emotions have been like a graph of the national debt: up and down. Just a lot of family stuff…doesn’t matter what. It was one tiny instance this past week but it strengthened my resolve to find my own way. It’s at emotional times such as this that I wish I could ring my parents, just to hear their voices. They don’t need to offer advice (though they most likely would. It’s what parents do), they just have to be there. Since both are deceased, that’s an impossibility. So for me, the next best thing would be something tangible. I suppose some would think I’m a tad silly for needing to be so tactile, especially at my age. But we all have our coping mechanisms and that is one of mine. When I get to a period in my life where even having faith isn’t enough, I turn to my parents, even if it means whispering to them in bed at night, telling them about my day, relating my fears, etc.

When my mother passed in 2001, I was devastated but handled it better than many of my family members, because I never left anything unsaid. I always told her I loved her, I apologized for being such a jerk in my younger years ( I highly recommend this to all adult children) but mostly, I always let her know that she was in my thoughts and I loved her for the person she was, not just because she was my mom. We knew she would never reach really old age because she had SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) and it is a debilitating autoimmune disorder but I had long since mentally prepared myself for her loss. Complications from that disorder (congestive heart failure) took her life at age 64. At least believe it did.

She loved teddy bears and every Christmas, my eldest brother would buy her a special teddy bear for Christmas. When she passed, I decided to bring them home and store them because they meant so much to her and quite honestly, when I had a moment or two of sadness, I would hug one of those bears when I went to sleep at night. It was usually the one from 1993, the year my son was born. Sometimes, you just need a hug from your mama and if she can’t be there…well…you find the closest thing you have. For me, it was that bear. When I was dealing with some severe anxiety, I even strapped a bear into the passenger seat of my SUV as comfort. It worked for a while but then I had to see a physician because the anxiety was just too great for that simple stuffed bear to accommodate. As the years have gone by, I stopped needing the bears but occasionally, would get a leather handbag out of my closet and remove it from its plastic bag and switch out the handbag I had been using. That leather handbag was actually shaped like a horse saddle and was one of my mother’s favorites. She bought it as Sheplers, a well known Western wear store here in the US (they ship internationally, by the way). I remember that she used to have a fairly good sized saddle shaped purse but when it caused her some shoulder issues, her doctor told her to pare down the size of her handbag and so she did. This is that hangbag…

I carry a rather large handbag myself since I never like to be without my “stuff”. This week, however, I think I need to whittle down my “stuff” so I can fit it into my mom’s little saddle shaped handbag. It’s not only the fact that it was hers but also that I know she touched it. She used it all the time. Something she physically touched makes me feel closer to her. I suppose some psychologists would have opinions regarding this odd little association but no one knows me better than me. And I need her to be close to me at this particular time. I need to literally carry her with me every day until I get past this speed bump I’ve run into lately. But she’s not the only one I lean on.

My father passed away in 2007 and I was completely overwrought. He had ischemic cardiomyopathy but it was ultimately congestive heart failure that also took his life. I hadn’t seen him in several years prior to his passing and so the guilt was terrible. Overwhelming is a much better description. I would have loved to have made a trip to Missouri to visit  with Daddy but at that time, it wasn’t possible. (Other reasons why but that’s for the autobiography. Sorry, you gotta wait). But we made the 8 hour trip up for the funeral service and somehow, I got through it. I do remember it was wickedly hot that day so it was nice to peel off the dress clothes and change into a tank top and some cotton shorts. We all gathered at the local Eagles club, where he had been Secretary and had a wonderful meal, with his surviving siblings and plenty of my cousins, his cousins, my mother’s family. It was great to see family again, even if it was under somber circumstances.

When it came time to pack up and head back home to Texas, it was bittersweet. I was happy to be going home but sad to leave my brothers and my other relatives. I had requested a couple items from him long before he passed, thinking it would be a while before I would be receiving them. Now, the time had come for me to load those two items in the mini van we rented and go back to my life, such as it was. I was looking around his house, trying to find something to bring back that would help me muddle through the intense pain I felt. For some reason, I focused on the teal colored insulated mug he used to drink from. At one time, he would have Dr. Pepper and cheese balls in his recliner while he watched TV. After his health got bad, he would fill up the mug with ice water and sip from it throughout the day. (to the best of my memory) And so the mug also came back to Texas with me.

Once we got back home, I let it be known that NOBODY was to use that mug; it was off limits. For a while, it was smooth sailing where my precious mug was concerned but one day, I opened the cabinet to reach for it and it was gone! What?? Gone? Who the hell took my mug??!! I don’t even remember who used it but I went kinda nutso and got loud and said  “Keep your greasy sh*t hooks off my mug!” (a phrase my daddy used often) See, it wasn’t…isn’t just a mug to me. That represents my daddy, something he used constantly. Something he held in his hands. That was as close as I had gotten to him in years and damned if someone was going to take that away from me, even if they didn’t mean to. Harsh words, I know. But you have to understand where I was coming from. All this was still fresh for me and what I needed was a hug from Daddy, just a hug. That insulated mug was my hug. It was the only thing I had. I couldn’t even delete his phone number from my cell phone. Still haven’t. I just can’t do it. My aunt Rose mailed me one of the last pictures taken of my father with his brother Tom (Rose’s husband) and he was laughing. I barely glanced at it because it was just too painful. I finally pulled that picture out about a year later and though I was sad, I could look at it and crack a smile. Daddy loved to laugh.

As I said, the past couple weeks have been eventful so having them around in the form of inanimate objects is not only fine with me, it’s the perfect therapy. I still use daddy’s mug to this day, filling it to the brim with ice and Coca Cola. I’ve been trying to be healthier and drink less Coke so the mug had been sitting on the armoire, unused. I had one single can of Coke so yesterday, I decided to fill the mug with ice and sip my Coke (I call it the Elixir of Life, for the caffeine boost, doncha know) while I watched TV, knowing that my daddy was close by, along with my eyeglasses, vitamin supplements, remote control and vanilla lip balm.

Several years have passed since I lost my parents and though I don’t have as many moments of sadness, I will tear up from time to time (but don’t always cry) when my life is jacked and I need my parents to tell me everything will be alright. Forgive me if this post seems a bit morose because it certainly wasn’t my intent. Quite the opposite. Everyone has their own method of coping with whatever spaghetti that sticks to their wall of life. This just happens to be how deal, however odd and random it may appear. Little by little, I’m learning that my being random in life has been good. Those off-the-wall moments in our day to day can benefit us but we don’t always glean those benefits until later. That’s hindsight. So if you have to wear that over-sized t-shirt that belonged to Grandma because you miss her, then wear it. If those worn out cowboy boots that your uncle wore make you feel like Super Cowboy then put ’em on. See what I’m sayin’? Personally, I don’t need Dr. Phil to tell me whether or not I’m on the right emotional path and sure as heck don’t feel like I should pay a stranger $100 an hour to sort me out. I like to think my folks raised me with a fair amount of common sense and though they may not be here in body, they’re most certainly always present in spirit, in thought and in the form of a leather handbag and an insulated mug.

Until next time…


  & hair grease, y’all!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Randi
    Sep 23, 2012 @ 17:46:01

    Great posting Ne! xo


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