play it again: Hazel the First

This weekend the descendants of Hazel Frances Shock Yowell will gather to remember, honor and celebrate the life of Momma Yowell on what was to be he her 96th birthday. Of course that means taking over a hotel as we do when we gather.

originally published May 9, 2014

Bill and I very soon will be celebrating 31 years of marriage, which is a pretty long time to be stuck together with one person. We have shared that day for years now with the birthday of our 4th lovely circus clown, Jodie Grace Wynonna. So it’s never really just our day. But even before Jodie, it never really was our day. We were married on the day of Bill’s grandparents’ (Momma and Poppa – Hazel and Osie) fiftieth wedding anniversary. Yeah, it was their day.

I can’t imagine being as gracious as Momma and Poppa were to share their day, their celebration with two crazy, in-love kids dressed in the OMG-what-the-fresh-hell-is-that 80′s wedding fashion. But they were. I’m so glad that they were so generous.

It was but a couple years later that I knew I truly belonged to this family I married into when Momma would address me as Teri-Toni-Dottie-Patty-Laura.

Yes!

Years and years later, I am carrying on for her, much to the annoyance of my kids, when I address them by all of their names until I eventually hit their name. Deep down I know that Hollie-Zoë-Abby-Jodie-Hazel-Fallon appreciate the family tradition. Of course they do.

Momma and her daughter, my dear mother-in-law, Mom, taught me how to properly fry chicken which is something I know Bill has given thanks for over the years. It’s not perfect or nearly as excellent as their fried chicken is, but it is properly fried chicken. Through the years, memories were made, laughter and tears were shared and babies were born…a lot of babies…

I loved Momma’s playfulness with my babies. All five of them have enjoyed her cuddles and being bounced on her knee trottin’ the pony. The awkward conversation we had where I explained to her that it was her grandson Bo’s fault that we had birthed no grandsons not so much. Still I loved the laughter we shared after that conversation.

Momma and Poppa had three children who became parents to nine grandchildren for Momma, who went on to have A LOT of great-grandbabies (I’m counting 17 but then again my math skills are seriously suspect) and 5 great-great grandchildren. All adored Momma.

Then again, what is there about her NOT to adore?

One memory I have of Momma is the fact that she always seemed to be smiling. No, not a big toothy smile. It was more a quiet smile with the corners of her mouth always upturned. To have lived as long as Momma has I know it wasn’t always perfect and rosey but clearly she lived her life with a positivity that was reflected in her quiet smile. One of many things that made her beautiful. But truth be told, my best, happiest memory was the first Thanksgiving she shared with her namesake, Hazel the Second.

Now how many 90-something year old ladies do you know who will get down on all floors to play with her carpet-crawling great-great grandbabies?

Yeah, I thought so.

I can only hope to be as kick-asstastic as her.

Hazel the First graced this world for over 95 years until today when she passed away.

Mother’s Day will be tempered with the fact that she is now part of our family’s sweet memories. For me, in the short time that I have been blessed to call her Momma, there has been many sweet memories. I will always have her to thank for knowing how to properly fry chicken and to at least try to just sit back, relax and enjoy the blessings around me (and there are a lot) with a quiet smile on my lips.

Hazel Frances Shock-Yowell, November 16, 1918 – May 9, 2014

the lost little spark of madness

You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
~ Robin Williams July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014

Unbelievable!

My daughter Abby described the feeling of hearing the news of Robin Williams’ death this afternoon perfectly. It was as if suddenly all laughter and joy was sucked out of the atmosphere.

Unreal!

To hear his death was by suicide and that he had been struggling mightily of late with severe depression made it all the more palpable for me…for so many. Sometimes the most gifted, the most brilliant, the most talented, the people who touch your hearts with the most laughter, joy and love are the ones living in the darkest depths of despair.

If you only knew.

I know.

I know too well. I was raised in that despair. I am living in that now. God what hard work it is to live every day like this!

My heart breaks for this huge void left in the world, for the heartbreaking loss his loved ones must now live with. Still I give thanks…for the laughter, so much laughter…for opening my eyes to a different, delightful world view seeing the humor, the laughter and the joy in the simplest of things every day. I give thanks for his truly amazing body of work and the fact that each one of my children could recall their favorite characters he portrayed…except for Mork…none of them knew about Mork from Ork.

GAH!

Kids!

The first thing I intend to do is go through his vast filmography and binge for the next few days. There’s nothing else on TV worth watching right now so why not? Yes, introduce this circus act of mine to Mork from Ork is on that agenda for sure.

The next thing I intend to do is go to my doctor for help because the depression and anxiety I live with is becoming again too much. The usual self care is just not cutting it lately. When your young son points out that he doesn’t like your overwhelming sadness well, yeah, it’s time to ask for help. I have no shame in that. There should be no shame, no hiding, no fear of being mocked or looked down upon as weak, no brushing depression aside as a “lesser” disease. No one should feel shamed to ask for help. I’m asking for more help.

I’m also sharing thoughts and information from a February 2010 post about suicide, anxiety and depression because people need to know…people need to care.

It’s Never Painless
originally posted February 27, 2010

My heart just breaks for Andrew Koenig‘s family and the family of Michael Blosil,  Marie Osmond’s son. I can’t imagine any parent that would not feel for the pain they must be in right now.

Living with depression is hard. Living with a loved one with depression is hard. I don’t doubt how hard it was for Koenig’s and Osmond’s family. I don’t doubt the pain both young men suffered through and the pain their families are in is more than evident. Still I have a hard time with those who choose ending their life as a way to end the pain. Walter Koenig spoke of how despondent his son was and how low he sunk in his despair but I would suggest that this wasn’t the case. I don’t doubt the depression he shares that his son had suffered from but it takes energy to do something about the depression one suffers from. The same would be for Michael Blosil as well. It takes energy to seek help or accept help and it takes energy to decide to end it all.

I speak from my own experiences. Working on recovering from depression I know how hard it is. This last year has been so hard, so very hard. It is hard-freakin’ work. I also know watching my own mother living with bipolar disorder over the years that it takes energy to take your life or attempt to take your life. In the lowest, most despondent times of her life mom never had the energy to do much of anything. She physically could not. As a child I did not understand why she could not get off of the couch and why she would remain in the same clothes for days just curled up in a limp ball there. I just knew that in worst days this was how it was. This was her life…and it was our life. It was when mom would get up off the couch that I would worry because that is when she would do something and her doing something would be to attempt to take her life. She attempted this a number of times when I was a child. She never was successful. Years later in a more candid, close moment she shared with me the depths of her pain and how she just wanted it to end. She admitted that she really didn’t think of anything else. She just wanted the crushing, crippling pain to end. I told her then and I still believe now that had she been successful in any of her attempt the pain would not be over. No. The pain would remain. It would remain with her children, with her parents, her husband, her siblings. We would carry her pain. We would carry it with us always.

Suicide is not painless. The pain remains.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:

  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) — or the deaf hotline at 1-800-4889.

Warning signs of suicide with depression include:

  • a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • always talking or thinking about death
  • clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • losing interest in things one used to care about
  • making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • talking about suicide (killing one’s self)
  • visiting or calling people one cares about

Remember, if you or someone you know is demonstrating any of the above warning signs of suicide with depression, either call your local suicide hot line, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to help, to hug, to talk, to be there.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas change the world. ~ Robin Williams

 

it’s still raw

A year later….a year after a friend and colleague, and her husband were so suddenly, cruelly, violently taken in such a shocking manner, it is still raw. I didn’t think that it would be. Like everyone else who knew her, I’ve hitched up my big girl panties. Yes, cried sometimes. Laughed sometimes too imagining what she might have said or done. Cried a little when it seemed that she said hello at work that one time. I still catch my breath and gulp back a tear or more when I see her garden outside of Room 3 when I get to work…when I get to work.

A year later we remembered because I can’t imagine that we will ever forget someone so remarkable. We all remembered and honored her and her husband in our own ways. We all were not together but we all remembered still. Some of us gathered with her daughter tonight and remembered.

God that was hard!

Her little girl’s physical, emotional, spiritual, psychic pain was so real, so raw. I just can not imagine. I don’t think any one of us could ever understand, ever know unless we too lost someone we have known and loved our entire lives taken so violently away from us. The mommy in me wishes I could take that pain away from their daughter. The mommy in me prays none of my children ever know that pain I witnessed today.

Those of us who gathered with their daughter stood together in Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank before the tree planted in their memory with a plaque placed before it. Dwarfed right now by 14 trees in what is known as Bicentennial Grove, it will soon enough someday catch up to their towering grandeur as it guards the entrance to that beautiful grove here in the Central Valley.

It’s a place to pause, to sit and reflect. A place for us to remember. A place for anyone else to just take in the cool of the shade these trees provide, the green-ness all around, the sounds of nature and families at play and the occasional startling rumbling overhead from the trains passing on the bridge nearby. It’s a place where I am reminded that we “hitch up our big girl panties“, as Janet would often say in some of the most stressful times in the NICU and we do that which we must do…we don’t forget, we don’t let go and we don’t stop.“…as her husband’s business partner reminded us tonight.

It’s still raw. It’s still so real. We don’t forget. We won’t let go. But we also don’t stop living as, I would imagine, our friend and colleague would expect of us all.

boom, boom, boom, even brighter than the moon, ‘murica and all that sh!t

I really don’t care what you all might think but I hate the 4th of July.

Sorry.

No, not sorry.

I miss my brother. Today is his birthday. He should be here. But he’s not. Yeah, it’s been ten years, I know.

Whatever.

Grief is weird like that. It changes shape, but it never ends. Birthdays are hard. Birthdays are real hard. You bury your brother much too young then maybe you’ll understand. On second thought, I hope that you never do understand.

Thank goodness for my circus. They might not totally get the tears, the melancholy I feel when everyone else is waving the flags at the parades or boating and drinking or barbeque-ing or the blowing up fireworks because it’s ‘murica. But they do love me. They do care. That’s for real. We all should be so lucky to be surrounded like I was today…even when I was alone, sitting in my car at the car wash crying. I had this to come home to.

‘murica!

When I look to the sky something tells me you’re here with me
And you make everything alright
And when I feel like I’m lost something tells me you’re here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here

 

Hazel the First

Bill and I very soon will be celebrating 31 years of marriage, which is a pretty long time to be stuck together with one person. We have shared that day for years now with the birthday of our 4th lovely circus clown, Jodie Grace Wynonna. So it’s never really just our day. But even before Jodie, it never really was our day. We were married on the day of Bill’s grandparents’ (Momma and Poppa – Hazel and Osie) fiftieth wedding anniversary. Yeah, it was their day.

I can’t imagine being as gracious as Momma and Poppa were to share their day, their celebration with two crazy, in-love kids dressed in the OMG-what-the-fresh-hell-is-that 80’s wedding fashion. But they were. I’m so glad that they were so generous.

It was but a couple years later that I knew I truly belonged to this family I married into when Momma would address me as Teri-Toni-Dottie-Patty-Laura.

Yes!

Years and years later, I am carrying on for her, much to the annoyance of my kids, when I address them by all of their names until I eventually hit their name. Deep down I know that Hollie-Zoë-Abby-Jodie-Hazel-Fallon appreciate the family tradition. Of course they do.

Momma and her daughter, my dear mother-in-law, Mom, taught me how to properly fry chicken which is something I know Bill has given thanks for over the years. It’s not perfect or nearly as excellent as their fried chicken is, but it is properly fried chicken. Through the years, memories were made, laughter and tears were shared and babies were born…a lot of babies…

I loved Momma’s playfulness with my babies. All five of them have enjoyed her cuddles and being bounced on her knee trottin’ the pony. The awkward conversation we had where I explained to her that it was her grandson Bo’s fault that we had birthed no grandsons not so much. Still I loved the laughter we shared after that conversation.

Momma and Poppa had three children who became parents to nine grandchildren for Momma, who went on to have A LOT of great-grandbabies (I’m counting 17 but then again my math skills are seriously suspect) and 5 great-great grandchildren. All adored Momma.

Then again, what is there about her NOT to adore?

One memory I have of Momma is the fact that she always seemed to be smiling. No, not a big toothy smile. It was more a quiet smile with the corners of her mouth always upturned. To have lived as long as Momma has I know it wasn’t always perfect and rosey but clearly she lived her life with a positivity that was reflected in her quiet smile. One of many things that made her beautiful. But truth be told, my best, happiest memory was the first Thanksgiving she shared with her namesake, Hazel the Second.

Now how many 90-something year old ladies do you know who will get down on all floors to play with her carpet-crawling great-great grandbabies?

Yeah, I thought so.

I can only hope to be as kick-asstastic as her.

Hazel the First graced this world for over 95 years until today when she passed away.

Mother’s Day will be tempered with the fact that she is now part of our family’s sweet memories. For me, in the short time that I have been blessed to call her Momma, there has been many sweet memories. I will always have her to thank for knowing how to properly fry chicken and to at least try to just sit back, relax and enjoy the blessings around me (and there are a lot) with a quiet smile on my lips.

Hazel Frances Shock-Yowell, November 16, 1918 – May 9, 2014