Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Proud of ‘Ya January 26, 2015

I never met the man, but from what I hear he was pretty special. He was smart. He was stubborn (in good ways as much as bad). And he was a good dad to my dear forever mom. He left for heaven a few years ago, which was far too soon in the opinion of those who knew and loved him. Be What You Believe

But like most of those beloved friends and family members looking down on us from heaven, he makes his appearances from time to time. Today it happened when my mom reminisced with dad over dinner about something her father used to say. Dad told mom he was proud of her for her recent blogging efforts.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but she’s a writer too. And recently she’s just started writing posts for an exciting new web site called LadiesLife.com. After less than a week, the posts she’s written are doing incredibly well, which has been a source of celebration around my forever home.

“Proud of ya,” her father used to say, in a teasing and slightly-deeper-than-usual voice. It was kind of an inside joke for her and her family growing up, one she shared with dad tonight. I’m not sure how, but it was like he read my mind when as he responded to her, saying exactly what I wished I could say.

“You know he’d be so proud of you, right?” he said. “And not just for your writing, but for being such a great mom.”

I knew tears would likely come next, but I also knew they weren’t the bad kind.

I never met the man, but from what I hear he was pretty special. He was smart. He was stubborn (in good ways as much as bad). And he was a good dad to my dear forever mom. I know she misses him sometimes more than others. I also know tonight was one of those times. But I also know what my forever dad said was true. Her father would be so proud of her. And, when it comes to missing someone, knowing that means an awful lot.

Check out the LadiesLife.com posts here:

http://ladieslife.com/7-things-no-one-told-you-about-being-pregnant/

http://ladieslife.com/think-youre-ready-bring-baby-home/

 

Never Far Away December 13, 2014

It’s a trip I’ve only made once. And it’s a long one. Don’t get me wrong, I love a long car ride through beautiful landscaping just as much as the next dog. But five hours one-way? I would say that quantifies a long journey. I figured with a journey that long, the destination would have to be something special. And it did not disappoint.Mom and Uncle Frank

Phillips, Wisconsin. From the ground up, it is indeed a pretty special place. I visited there a few years ago when my forever mom and dad brought me along on their anniversary trip to a cabin in the woods. Beyond the colorful surroundings of mature trees shedding their leaves, there is a distinctly homey woody scent in the air my nose captured about a mile outside of town. But all of that was nothing next to the history this place has for my forever mom especially.

It’s where her dear grandpa grew up. Where her mom spent summers as a child. And where she and her family visited throughout her childhood and young adulthood. Though mom’s grandpa went to heaven years ago, family remains steadfast in that neck of the woods all those hours away.

I know family means different things to different people. I also know some people don’t consider what some might think of as distantly related relatives family. That is and never has been the case with the folks mom fondly refers to as her “Phillips family.” They love and embrace each other any time regardless of how long its been since they last spoke or saw each other. That is real family in my eyes. Never Far Away

All of this came to mind for me tonight as we put dear baby Carter to bed. Mom and dad said Carter’s bed time prayer as usual, but afterward mom kept going. “And please bless Dolores Marlenga and the entire Marlenga family up in Phillips tonight, Lord. Please hold them in your arms and remind them that dear uncle Frank is in a better place. Please give them hope in knowing they will see him someday when we are all together again in heaven.” It’s always dark in the room when we pray as a family at night, but I know a shaky voice when I hear one. She was crying as she said those words.

Mom’s great uncle Frank left for heaven a couple of days ago, and though we all know it was his time, that never makes these times any easier. I’ve gathered by the timing involved that we will not be making the journey to the funeral, but I suppose that’s okay. Because that’s the thing that so special about this family. They can be so far away and yet are always close together. Always in each other’s hearts.

That’s the souvenir I took home with me on that long car ride home from that place called Phillips, Wisconsin. That’s the souvenir I carry with me in my heart on a daily basis. The peace. The hope. The joy in knowing family like that is never far away.

 

The Truth About The Worst Case September 2, 2014

It’s a little tough for me to wrap my optimistic doggie mind around. To be entirely honest, it’s hard for me to understand how my otherwise positive-thinking mom can even feel this way. Yet she does and I know she has her reasons.

Lately mom has been going through this negative thinking phase in her life. Everything (and I mean everything) is the worst case scenario. Truth be told, it’s tough to watch. Me

If something happens with Carter (he hits his head, cries differently, or basically does anything out of the ordinary), the computer, phone and tablet are instantly all in use searching to make sure he’s okay. She is way more tough than she should be on her post-knee reconstruction surgery and post-baby body. She had a bad dream (or I guess you could say nightmare) the other night about something terrible happening to me. She frequently talks about what emotional turmoil she would/will be in one day if/when my dear forever dad leaves for heaven because he is seven years older than her and because men die seven years sooner than most women that means she will be alone for at least 14 years.

It’s exhausting. Even for me, a doggie that has been through my fair share of things in life. But even thinking about that, I am forced to remember why she might be this way.

Five years ago, she lost a job she loved and her dad died suddenly within two weeks. Given the world of hardship and loss we live in, it might not sound like much. She knows and respects and understands people lose a lot more in one fell swoop all the time. Or they were never fortunate enough to have anything so special to lose in the first place. And, while I know her heart is with these people, I know (and see) the emotional aftermath on an almost daily basis.

It might be tough for me to wrap my optimistic doggie mind around, I understand she has her reasons almost as much as I see the progress she’s made. I know things were bothering her today. I know she had all kinds of negative thoughts running through her head. But she paused and found joy in life moments. She sat on the floor and had a (baby) talk with Carter when she got home from that place called work. Dinner was (for a change) not quite perfect, but she and dad got a good laugh about it regardless. And when the time came for our daily love fest tonight, she was 100% present for that too.

I know life can be tough. I know the worst can happen. But I guess what I learn from my dear forever mom is that even the worst case scenario isn’t really the worst. There are better things in the future. You just have to believe.

 

Turn The Page July 20, 2014

For some people it’s a new job. For others its a major lifestyle change like swapping out alcohol or cigarettes for exercise. Or maybe it’s the end of a bad relationship or the start of a good one. Crossroads. From the ground up, we all come across them at different times and in different circumstances. Sometimes it’s expected. Sometimes not. Feeling reflective

For my mom and most of her family, it happened five years ago when her father died suddenly. Everyone in the family dealt with the loss differently, in good and bad ways. If the aftermath of the experience has taught me anything, its that there is no timeline on grief. Whether you lose someone suddenly or have enough warning to say goodbye properly, it doesn’t matter. It’s hard. And everyone copes differently.

I was reminded of this today when I overheard mom on the phone telling dad about her time at this place called the spa. It’s something her and her mom and sister do every year, and this year was not an exception. While the trip was abbreviated slightly this time around (due mostly to mom not wanting to be away from dear baby Carter for long), I could hear the rested enthusiasm in mom’s voice as she recalled the events of the day to my forever dad. (Meanwhile, it should be noted I am helping him care for Carter while mom is away).

I couldn’t hear the whole story, but I gathered the point of it from dad’s reaction. Someone (or possibly all of them) had some sort of revelation today at the spa. There they were, at the place they sought emotional refuge just days after the loss of 2009, and something happened. A weight was lifted off shoulders. A deep breath was taken. And a decision was made. It’s time to turn the page.

An original thought it certainly is not, as it pays homage to Bob Segar’s ballad (which I understand was a favorite of the man who would have been my grand forever father). But it was as if he were somehow there with them today, prompting them to turn the page, which itself looks different to each of these very important ladies in my life.

As I suppose it does to everyone, but ultimately the root of things is the same. Crossroads. From the ground up, we come to them from time to time for reasons good and bad. Like anything, it’s what we do next that matters. And I say we turn the page.

 

What You Do June 3, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It happens a lot. Mom gets these ideas of how things “should” be in her head and then finds herself absolutely devastated when things don’t go exactly as planned. The thing is, she doesn’t always even share her plans with the rest of us. So it ends up being kind of a free for all trying to figure out what to do. No one who truly loves her ever intends to let her down.

Wiley and CarterYet I think that’s what happened today. It came out of nowhere. One minute, she was laughing with dad over dinner. Carter was playing happily in his activity center. I was minding my own business on the living room rug. Everything was fine and dandy. But it didn’t take much for things to head south. Quickly.

Carter started crying in the tired way he does. So mom did what she thought best in that moment and (instead of the norm of putting him down for his evening nap) attempted to snuggle him. I knew before it even happened it wouldn’t work. Dear little Carter hasn’t enjoyed snuggling quite as much as he used to when he was so very tiny those first couple of months. But I watched it all happen. Carter screamed. Dad questioned. Mom got abnormally upset. And I remembered.

Today is the five-year “anniversary” (if you can call it that) of my beloved forever mom’s loss of her father. I don’t know why, but for some reason five years seems somewhat of a milestone somehow. And I can’t say it’s one that was unnoticed by our family today.

Both my grandma and my aunt Morgan were here at one point or another to say hi to Carter, and (while they both seemed mostly okay) I know them well. Today is one of those days that you try to forget but can do nothing but remember. I could see this in the both of them just as I saw it in mom.

So I did as I said I would do. When I first learned of what today signifies I promised to always do what I could to make it a little less miserable for my dear forever mom. Today was no different. So when the opportunity presented itself, I embraced it. Or I guess you could say it embraced me.

Dear baby Carter hugged me today. Somehow that single isolated moment seemed to bring to life any of the extraordinary expectations she had for today. Because these things happen. She gets these ideas in her head sometimes and when things don’t go quite right all hell breaks lose. It (almost) happened today. But I (like everyone else who love her) had no intention of letting her down.

So I embraced the moment with baby Carter even though he was grabbing so much of my fur that it hurt enough to make my eyes water. It’s just what you do sometimes.

Related posts: http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/06/03/the-grief-tunnel/

 

 

Follow The Light May 18, 2014

I’m a believer in the whole idea of a window opening when life closes a door. This probably comes as no surprise since I also support finding a silver lining in most situations and choosing to see the good in people, places and things. But there is something I do struggle a bit to understand. Something that seems to stand right in the way of me finding that open window. Because when death happens the door closes. Hard. Reflecting

I’ve been blessed so far in life to lose very few close friends. But I will be honest. I’ve never dealt well with loss and grief and the heartbreak these things bring to the survivors. Sure, I believe in the idea that the person is in a better place, but what about the people left behind? Our place is a little bit worse because that person left a big ole whole in our heart no one else can fill. I got to thinking about this today when I heard something someone said on the moving picture window (otherwise known as a TV). There was a woman, a mother, who had lost her son to a tragic car accident a couple of years ago.

She too struggled with finding silver lining in such a terrible situation. I had a little doggie heart attack thinking of what would happen to mom if anything like that ever happens to dear baby Carter. I wondered how on Earth does someone bounce back from such an awful thing? That’s when she said it.

“I follow his light,” said the woman. “He’s always there reminding me to keep on going.”

Death. From the ground up, there is something about it that seems so final. Like that door is closed for good. And in most ways it is. But only to the point you let it be. Only if you don’t keep the faith and find that window. And if it’s not open, you find a way to open it. You find a way to let the light in. Because therein lies the silver lining – in the light that keeps you going.

 

A Living Emotion April 4, 2014

Today I was confronted with a conundrum. Happiness is a living emotion, as a favorite author of mine Sarah Ban Breathnach would say. The optimist in me believes this as truth. Yet today I encountered another living emotion. Or six.

Sadness. Grief. Devastation. Complete and utter dismay. My arsenal of positivity was not strong enough to battle these things today. I failed and I’m not afraid to admit it. It has happened before, but I don’t think it’s ever been quite this bad. Maybe it’s because I can’t say I blame them.

Mom got bad news today. Really bad news. Epically bad news. That little slip on the ice about a month ago that the doctor hoped was just a sprain? Some test called an MRI showed otherwise. It’s a torn ACL. I don’t know much about these things other than that is what mom talked so much about with her other knee before surgery the last time.

And I was here. I saw how bad it was. Mom has (not-so-jokingly) said it was worse than recovery from labor. I don’t know what happened when they went to that hospital place three months ago, but I can’t imagine it was pretty. She was there for days, after all. The knee surgery was only an outpatient procedure. She was back home the same day. And she cried. All the time. I remember her crying out in pain in the middle of the night. It was bad. wpid-20140309_115645.jpg

So the thought of it happening again has taken our whole home by complete shock. She will be completely immobile for at least a week or two. Fortunately the damage is nothing near as bad as it was in the other knee, but the doctor still estimates the recovery time as about the same as last time. How on Earth will she do the thing that matters most to her in the whole world right now? How will she take care of our little person?

These are among what I would call the big picture questions my people were asking themselves tonight. That, and a question that broke my little doggie heart. How will we ever get ahead, dad asked to no one in particular. Mom cried at the thought. It’s like I’m on a hamster wheel, she said. Every time I think I’ll break free, something holds me back and I keep spinning in useless circles. I might not care much for hamsters (as it’s in my nature as a terrier not to), but the concept of their wheel is one that has always made me a little sad.

Today sadness was the emotion living in our house. Try as I might, I realized there are some things even my best tricks can’t fix. This is a pretty awful situation. These things happen. But life goes on. If I had a message for my beloved forever people on this day of days, that would be it. Life goes on. This too shall pass. It sucks. I won’t say it doesn’t. But life will keep plodding on, and I will be here to remind them of that each and every day.

 

Being First Responders March 21, 2014

It happens every year. In fall, Wisconsinites dust of hats, mittens, scarves and winter coats when the temperature first falls below 50 degrees. Then, half a year later comes spring and you’d better believe all of those things have been discarded as soon as the temperature reaches a balmy 40 degrees.

I witnessed the insanity first paw today as I watched many of the usual suspects walking through the neighborhood. Dog jackets have long since been discarded, but now almost no people were in coats. In 40 degree weather. I was especially surprised to see this was the case among the fire fighters and emergency response teams who visited down the street today.

They were running into a house a few homes down when I thought of it. Penny. My beloved cat friend (contrary to popular belief it is possible for dogs and cats to get along) from down the road. Though I’m happy she’s likely been keeping toasty warm inside the home she shares with her person Rose, I’ve missed her bushy little face around my front door step all winter. I was just wondering when I might see her again when the first responders came.

That’s when it hit me. Hard. They were going to Penny’s house. Where her person Rose lives. I remember one of the last times I saw Penny before winter went into full swing she mentioned her dear person was having some health problems. My view was limited since it is several houses down the road, but tonight my heart is heavy for Rose and Penny.

So rather than drive myself crazy thinking of possible negative scenarios, I’ve decided instead to flip the coin. To focus on the positive.

It’s an important job those first responders do (even if they aren’t sensible with their outerwear at this time of year). They are there when someone needs them most. They take care of those in need. They save lives. And as I watched them do their magic today I realized how important it is that we all be first responders from time to time. On the Clock

Certainly the majority of us lack the formal training in CPR and medicine that an emergency medical technician has worked hard to obtain. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be there for someone when they need it most. That doesn’t mean we can’t take care of those in need. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lives out there for saving.

I don’t know what happened down the road today. But I do know this. Today I took an oath to become a first responder in the lives of those around me. Because there is something worth saving in every negative situation.

 

All I Want for Christmas December 11, 2013

It’s pretty ridiculous. I might even get in trouble with mom for sharing the details. But it brings me joy and, as I am in the business of sharing joy, I can no longer keep this particular holiday ritual a secret.

Every time Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” comes on the radio is go time. It’s like a trigger for silliness. There is dancing (the kind that doesn’t particularly follow the beat) and galloping around the house. And joy. Lots of joy. It doesn’t matter where they are or who they are with, because it’s a family tradition. It’s as simple as that.All I Want

Apparently it started in my mom’s family a few years back when her dad was still alive. He had about as much rhythm as a broom but that didn’t stop him from joining in the fun. It’s my understanding he even took the lead every now and then.

It’s a memory that seems to bring about bittersweet emotions for my mom at least once during the holiday season. I know she misses him. He passed away suddenly in June 2009 and she never got to say goodbye. And now she grieves the loss in knowing our future little person will never know his grandpa.

The circle of life is funny that way – it finds ways to help us remember things we would sometimes rather push aside. And in this case grief is brought to life in joy, which is especially perplexing. But I suppose that makes sense because loss itself is a confusing thing. It isn’t easy regardless of how it happens. And everyone deals with it differently. But regardless of the circumstances, it evolves.

“Grief is in two parts,” suggested American writer Anne Roiphe. “The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.”

The second is the remaking of life. I think that’s what happens every time that song comes on the radio. A little part of what was broken is mended. And we all are reminded to cherish the most important gift we have – each other. I’m with Mariah on this one. All I want for Christmas is my people. So I say bring on the silliness. Bring on the dancing and stomping and galloping around the house. Bring on the joy. Because sometimes there is no better way to grieve than to live.

 

Rescue Me November 17, 2013

I didn’t believe her at first. She was new and exciting and her past didn’t matter to me. What mattered was she was my new mom, my forever person, and I loved her from the start.

RescuedI loved her that first day she and dad came to visit me at the Oshkosh Humane Society. We shared a special moment when she knelt down to pet me and I did my best to grab on with my paw (as only us canines can do) to show her she was the one for me.  I was devastated when they left without me that day. The days that followed were some of my lowest of the low. A whole two weeks went by before I saw her again, and that’s when I knew it to be true. My forever person had found me. I was being rescued.

Recovery. Liberation. Deliverance. Rescue means different things to different people, all tied together by the common denominator of strong emotional responses. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what rescue means to me. So it never occurred to me that perhaps more than one heart was rescued that day. At least not until later, as I learned my adoption followed a string of unfortunate events in the lives of my forever people.

In May 2009, mom’s job at the local newspaper was eliminated along with the jobs of about half of the staff. Two weeks later, her dad died. It was sudden and terrible, and I won’t share all the details, other than that it came as a complete shock to her small immediate family. And alas, she had a new full-time job-helping her mom meet the attorneys, doing calculations with the CPA, and acting like the grown up who had it all together. In reality, she was the 24-year-old kid who found herself turning to the wrong ways of coping.

I’m no psychologist, but I would say she was still a little depressed when I met her a little more than a year later. And I immediately set about changing that in the only way I knew how. Loving. And, in doing so, I know I made her feel more alive. So ultimately I’m not sure who really rescued who. What I do know is I never would have thought more than one heart could be rescued in the same day. Yet I know it to be (at least partially) true. Mom didn’t just rescue me that day. I rescued her.

This post was inspired by Janine Allen’s “I Rescued a Human Today.”

Read it here: http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/