Gran's Apple Butter Blog

December 13, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Home Stretch (7XI)

Chapter 7 – Home Stretch

So, where were we? Oh yes, coming into the home stretch. At this point we tend to punch the gas a wee bit, eager to pull in and put ‘er in park.

But there’s one home stretch we tend to dawdle on. Our final trip to that Big Rocking Chair in the Sky sparks mixed emotions, ‘cause this going home means saying “see ya later” to all the homes we’ve had here – the ones we shared with friends and family, the ones that held our hopes and dreams. No matter how much we want to go, it can be hard to say goodbye.

This can be hard on everyone involved – not just the one who’s leaving, who at least has a new adventure to look forward to. For the ones left behind, it can feel hard ‘cause they’re still in the old adventure, and one of their favorite players just left the team. Sometimes that makes it hard to keep going, to finish the race.

It can be hard ‘cause this represents change. Gran said she’d never gotten very good at enjoying that. The thing with change – we don’t know what that means. And we’ve been socialized – oh boy, have we: Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. But is that true? I gotta say, in my life, sometimes what I found around that corner was a whole lot better.

We fight this change so hard we hold on much longer than is good for us. Sometimes because we don’t want to go for ourselves, sometimes because we don’t want to go for the ones we’ll leave behind. We know they’ll be sad and probably have to deal with some darkness until they figure out how to move on with their lives. We want them to move on ‘cause we love them – we may even tell them that. But we also know that most likely they’re going to forget this for a while. Sometimes a long while. And Gran said that was ok. It’s only human.

So we’ll hang around, dragging things out when we know it’s better to rip that bandage off all at once. Sure, it hurts like crazy. But Gran said at least then somehow the pain can seem a bit more bearable. She didn’t say how though. She didn’t always answer my questions, just like she didn’t always answer anybody’s questions. And for the same reason – she knew I’d have to figure out this one on my own.

This can feel especially hard when the person saying goodbye is young. When this happened, Gran would remind me of the saying about good people dying young. She suspected that might not be too far off, ‘cause when we’ve done our work the best we can, we’ll want to go home and take a rest – all this learning wears us out. So when someone makes this trip earlier than we’d like, Gran figured that meant this was just a fast learner – ready to move on, lessons complete. That didn’t make the goodbye much easier, but somehow the idea felt soothing, like a sip of peppermint tea on a hot summer day.

Sometimes we fear this journey so much we get stuck along the way. Halfway home, we can go no further, ‘cause that extension cord we’re hanging on to isn’t long enough. Or maybe someone roped the trailer hitch as we flew past, and there we are, dangling between here and there, lost in the darkness. There’s only one thing to do then, Gran said, and that is to lovingly and gently let go of anything we’re holding on to here, and to do what we can to help those left behind unhitch their end of that rope as well. They may not even be aware they’re holding on, but we’ll know it.

This applies to deaths of other things too – like the end of a relationship or a job, anything that means a lot to us. We go through this process consciously when we give up one thing to make space for another. Sometimes we know we’re doing this. Other times, Gran said, all we know is that something is going away, something has been lost, and we’re just hanging on for dear life.  

That’s when we have to be patient with ourselves and keep plugging away, following our path, even when it leads away from roads that have been a big part of our lives for a long time. Gran said it was very important to ask for guidance in these moments, to pray that highest good be served, and then to listen and watch for the stars that will lead you home. That’s when you learn to see in the dark, when you close your eyes and hold out your hand, trusting that Someone is there to take it, and then, follow your heart.

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
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November 10, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Asking for Directions (7/VIII)

Chapter 7 – Asking for Directions

Getting lost can happen to the best of us. When this happens, we don’t need to be afraid to ask for directions, but we’ll want to be discerning about whose we follow, especially if it arrives unsolicited. When that nice man in a strange city eagerly directs us into an empty parking space directly below a No Parking sign, we may want to keep going.

Some strangers know about going home. They’re worth listening to, although they usually don’t talk much. Sometimes those who speak the least are really those who know the most, Gran said. You can recognize them by the twinkle in their eye. If you’re afraid you’ve gotten off your path, sit down next to one of these twinkly-eyed journeyers. Sit and be for a bit. Soak up those sparkles, like the smell of laundry fresh from home, where Mom has that special fabric softener you can’t find at your store.

Other strangers think they know, and down deep they really do, but their sunglasses may be a little smudged on the surface. Maybe they aren’t really sure, ‘cause they don’t remember enough about their own road. If they can’t find their way, how can they remember yours?

When well-meaning strangers share their directions, you’ll want to consider if what they’ve told you feels right. Again, just like that shortcut, check it against your heart. Does that ping come back with a wide open feeling of love? Or does it feel more like someone just stomped on your foot? If that’s the case, Gran said, it’s probably a good idea to let that advice just fly on by.

What if that person is lost and doesn’t know it? Strangers get lost too, you know. In fact, if this person is lost, maybe you can help him get back on his own path with a few words spoken in love. It never hurts to try, so long as we keep our egos in check. At the same time, you’ll want to pass on Gran’s caution to check whatever directions you share against his own heart. The road you walk may not be his, and it’s best we never forget that.

Sometimes when you’re lost, you may feel drawn to a specific person. This may be someone you can connect with, when others can’t hear you or seem to have any idea what you’re talking about. If you’re feeling this way and a stranger catches your attention, seek her out. She may be a friend sent to help you see the lights of home burning as clearly as you once saw them.

Are her eyes twinkling? Take a good look. That may not be a street light – it may be those home fires shining right on through to you. You’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em, Gran said.

Just remember to keep checking your heart as the road twists and turns, always make your own decisions, and you’ll be just fine.

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
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July 6, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Lost and Found (6/IV)

Filed under: Authentic self,Book Series,Books,Codependence,Front Porch Rambles,Going Home,Gran,Lost,Relationships — Mary Batson - FrontPorchRambles @ 10:59 am

Chapter 6 ~ Lost and Found

     Remember Tina, Gran’s apple-butter-makin’ pal? Part of Tina’s journey included finding herself, before she could start communicating with herself. Gran said she and Tina were both experts at this process, ‘cause they’d lost and found themselves more times than either could count, and that was just on Monday afternoon before dinner.

     According to Gran, you didn’t have to worry so much about getting lost, as you did about getting lost and not even realizing it. Once you knew you were lost, you were already on the way home. But what was this really about? Gran said it was about losing yourself in the people around you.

     For instance, at one point in her life Gran calculated that, on average, at any given moment, she had anywhere between ten and two-hundred-and-thirty-three people in her life who each knew exactly what she should be doing, when, where, with whom, and why – all with very good reasons to back ‘em up. But she figured something had to be off when she realized that very few of these people agreed, and they couldn’t all be right.

     No matter what she did, she’d disappoint one and thrill another, someone would be mad, and someone else would have hurt feelings, and so on down the line. For years Gran had tried to find a balance between all these conflicting roles, trying to keep everyone happy, trying to please Person #35 and Person #72, who were, for all intents and purposes, diametrically opposed. (Try this sometime. It isn’t easy.)

     Gran got so good at this she could anticipate needs before others even knew they had ‘em.  As you can imagine, she gained quite a following this way, always taking care of and “doing” for others. But a few decades of this began to take their toll. Gran started getting tired, and she started feeling resentful, a little angry that she was always the one on the giving end. It hadn’t occurred to her that she could receive just as much as she gave. That she had the right to ask for her needs to be honored in return. That maybe she hadn’t really had to do all that stuff in the first place…

     That’s when Gran came to the stunning realization that she no longer knew who she was. When someone asked how she felt, she couldn’t answer. What did she like? What did she want out of life? Still no answer.

     Once again, in Gran’s well-intended but misguided attempt to give of herself, she had crossed the balance beam to giving up herself. Even all her houseplants reflected this, with drooping stems and fallen leaves that told her it was time to go home and stay home – to take care of herself for a while, to get her own house in order before she took on any more care-taking jobs for others.

     And so she did. It wasn’t easy at first. When Gran started saying, “I love you, but no” to people who had begun to count on her as their personal servant-therapist-chief-cook-and-candlestick-maker, she lost a few friends. But that helped her learn the difference between a real friend and a business account.

     The beautiful part, Gran said, was how true friends revealed themselves. Yes, the change in Gran’s behavior led to a few intense conversations. But they were good clear-the-air conversations, with both people healthier afterward. Sometimes clearing the air took more than one conversation, and sometimes it just took time. But, in the end, many of the “caretaking accounts” Gran thought she had lost turned around to reveal themselves as real, true friends – and that was a beautiful thing.

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
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