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Archive for March, 2013

Guest blog by Jennifer Dwyer

Today our guest blogger is DD Gore’s niece.  I had the privilege of meeting her at the annual GG Weekend last year.  I loved her immediately, but all of the nieces are equally adorable, I am sure they get their charm from their Aunt DD!  If you have been in class with DD, she has shared how Jennifer has been taking care of her husband who has been struck down by ALS.  She shares with us a day in her life…I was very touched by her story and asked if she would share it with you.  Let’s all pray for strength for Jennifer and her son and daughter and for her husband.  Thank you Jennifer for sharing your life with us…

 

Reflections on a day…

 
I’m living in a split reality.  Outside, it’s a beautiful spring day.  I see mostly blue skies out my windows, trees are budding, birds are chirping and the sun is warming my feet as it comes through the window.
Inside, while the sun offers a brightness to the interior, it feels like a muddled light.  Because as I sit typing I see my handsome husband, tethered to his bipap machine, which is breathing for him.  He is sleeping, sometimes fitful and sometimes way too quietly.  He is tipped back in his wheelchair, reclined, covered in a blanket. His eyes, his beautiful blue gray eyes can not stay open. As he sleeps, they flutter open but they close…they don’t just close though, they roll up in his head first, so all you see are the whites of his eyes, then the lids close down.
Life living and growing outside.  Dying by ALS on the inside.
How can these two realities even exist together?  My husband is dying from ALS.  I want it to be dark, cold gray, and rainy.  I want others to be as miserable as I am.  I want the lilacs to stop budding and please, can someone cue the birds to stop their damn chirping?  That gentle spring breeze, it should be a howling gale in response to what it happening inside my house.  The white fluffy clouds I see, they should be great thunderous storm clouds, clapping together letting people know that a good man is struggling and that this is wrong.
But because these two realities exist, so must I.  I must live in this moment.  I have to let the light in to help balance the darkness. I have to live in both realities because living in one or the other is not an option.  I live in the light, I walk away from the dark.  I live in the dark, I fear may never be able to walk out.  So, I feel the sun on my feet, and cover my husband’s arms when he signals he’s cold.   I watch the gentle breeze flitter through the tulips.  I rub my husband’s forehead when his eyes flutter, looking at the blue of the sky instead of the blue of his eyes.  I acknowledge that both the beauty of life and ugly of death, can be one in the same..two becomes one.
However, it does not mean I like it and frankly it makes me mad as hell right now.  Kicking the wall comes to mind many times a day. But the delicate balance of light and dark, the delicate balance of loving and hating, is what I have right now.  I accept the reality, but not for one minute do I revel in it, enjoy it, even pretend that I want to be here.
In a world where ugly has upset the balance….the only choice is love.  Trust me…there is nothing else that will get you through the ugly.
But seriously, can someone turn off the chirping birds?
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Looking backward…

me, sandy, terryTwo years ago today my father passed away.  I knew when my mom called me that morning that he had already passed.  I can tell you exactly where I was at the moment of the phone call.  Grief has a way of doing that, it carves its memory into your brain.  My sister, brother and I were already planning on flying out the next day in hopes of seeing him one last time, but he left this earth before we could say our good-byes.

The dad I remember was the dad of my childhood.  After my parents divorced I was only about 4 and for the first few years he would pick us up on the weekend.  I looked forward to those visits.  My heart ached when he stopped showing up.  As a little child I was too young to understand what the word abandonment meant.  I just knew that my heart hurt and that even know on Sunday nights (the night my dad would bring us all home from those weekend visits) I feel a sense of sadness and it has been over 40 years since those visits.)

I was able to live with my dad during a 15 month period of my high school life.  I wanted to get to know this man I called Dad.  At the time he lived with a woman who considered me a bother and only cared about her two young daughters.  I would even go as far to say she was abusive to me emotionally during that time I lived there.  I still have the scars of that time I lived there.  My dad was tender hearted, but he was no match for her.

I then became an adult and I did manage to see my dad a few times during my adult years.  The last time I was with him I was on a book tour in Seattle with my book Fig on a Stick.  I met up with my dad and his (new) wife Lee for dinner.  I gave my dad my book and he was so proud.  He told everyone around this is my daughter and she wrote a book.  I felt warm inside my heart.

I didn’t realize that would be the last time I would see my dad.  Life gets busy and I did know that he had finally married someone who really loved him.  I wish he would have married Lee when I was younger, my time living with my dad would have been much different.

In the Jewish religion we say the Mourner’s Kaddish.  I said it last night in temple and will repeat it this morning.

Hebrew
Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba (Cong: Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (`Cong: Amen.)
Hebrew
b’al’ma di v’ra khir’utei
in the world that He created as He willed.
Hebrew
v’yam’likh mal’khutei b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
Hebrew
uv’chayei d’khol beit yis’ra’eil
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
Hebrew
ba’agala uviz’man kariv v’im’ru:
swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein. Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’al’mei al’maya
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Hebrew
Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
Hebrew
v’yit’hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
B’rikh hu.
Blessed is He.
Hebrew
l’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata
beyond any blessing and song,
Hebrew
toosh’b’chatah v’nechematah, da’ameeran b’al’mah, v’eemru:
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
Hebrew
Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
Hebrew
v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
Hebrew
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
Hebrew
aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
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Each time…

Each time we put our pen to paper we are allowing our true selves to flow onto the page.  We release the tears, laughter, pain, joy…

We become vulnerable.  Vulnerability is a tough, tough thing.

It is one of my hardest lessons I have to learn.  I see it is one that I have to practice most often.

I feel safe putting my words in my pages of my journals or on my computer, but when I share the me, the real me…I become that little girl I used to be.

The little me is still very much inside of me.  She still hurts, she still cries and even still throws temper tantrums.

The beauty in the writing is bringing the little Tammy into the 48 year old Tammy and joining the two.

I suppose I will always struggle with vulnerability, but I hope that the more I write and learn to accept me, the easier it becomes…tammy-red tie

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The self laid bare…

The self laid bare

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”

Virginia Woolf

 

The more you write, the more you discover.  I find that I have learned so much of who I am by how I react to my surroundings.  I find that some of the pain from my childhood still lurks in my mind, waiting to spring out when I least expect it.  Writing through my experiences helps me see what I am and what I want to be.  I find that usually what I am and who I want to be are yards apart.  Someday I hope they will become closer and closer and eventually become one.  But until that time I will continue to examine each and every circumstance that comes my way.  I write to discover…

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Perspective…

My poor little dog Courtney has gone through so much this past year and a half.  From going completely blind a year ago in October to various ailments in her almost 12 years of life.  These last few days have been no exception…two days and two visits to see her doctor.  While we were sitting in the lobby waiting for our turn I was feeling such a feeling of sadness…when in walked two elderly ladies.  As they came in they were walking their dog they called Crackers.  Crackers was way past elderly, much like his owners.  He looked to be so frail and very thin.  As I heard the hushed tones of the women I knew that this was going to be Crackers last visit here.  My eyes filled with tears as I watched them sit right across from Courtney and me.  I listened as they spoke about the poem Rainbow Bridge.  Within a few minutes a tech came out to get them and I was overcome with tears.  I swallowed hard but the tears fell from my cheeks.  Courtney let out a soft whine at that moment, almost as though she was communicating with Crackers.  My heart broke for these women having to say good-bye to their pet.  I hugged Courtney close to my heart as I knew that I was grateful that she would be coming home with me tonight and sleeping with me.  I don’t know how much time we will have together but I do know that when the day comes when I have to say good-bye I don’t know how I will do it…
photo (59)

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.


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