Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Without Health, We have Nothing

I recently had the opportunity and privilege to spend time with my mother-in-law.  No I am not brown nosing, she is a formidable yet fun gal who has been through some recent health scares.  Last year she was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  She went through grueling chemo and before that she had arrhythmia. They had to stop her heart several times over a period of months.  Up until then, she played golf everyday and rode her bike around the island where she lives. When I saw her last, she had lost all of her hair and she was pale as paste.  Yet she still had her sparkle in her eye.  She and Dad came for a visit over fall break and she looked amazing.  She looked healthy, had a nice color to her skin and  had energy.  Tears came to my eyes when I realized that we will have more time with her. When we are young, we feel invincible and think that we can do anything.  Perhaps that is just as well, because look at what we accomplish in our youth.  Without all the failures and successes when we are young, we would not be the people we are now.  However, what we fail to remember, is to care for our bodies during these times.  Without our health we truly have nothing.  I am thankful for every day that I have and every moment spent with those I love.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Roller Derby Queens

I have a good friend who works with an engineering firm during the day and spends a lot of time rescuing Boxers and helping the Hobo Boxer Rescue Center.  She is a poised girl with a singing voice that rocks like Joan Jett.  She has been in a band for years and actually cut a record.  What surprises me most about my friend is she is also a roller derby queen.   I went last night to her first bout of the year to watch her in action.  Her derby name is Paisley Pain and she did an amazing job.  It is always fun to watch friends do something that you have never seen before.  So now, I am no longer a virgin to the roller derby scene.  I also know now that I do not ever wish to piss her off because I have seen her kick butt and know it can be done.  I raise my glass to you Mardi.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What's in a Name?

I remember my grandmother (Oma), my mom’s mom.  She was smaller than my mother but very forceful.  By the time I came along she had debilitating arthritis.  It was hard for her to walk or even for her to hold on to things.  We lived in Breda, The Netherlands.  Our weather was always damp and cold which aggravated the pain even more.  We could not even begin to guess her physical pain unless we go through it ourselves.  A lesson hard learned by my mother, who now suffers from the same condition.  I remember my mom telling Oma, “you just have to get up and move!”  My mother would get so frustrated with her. “How can I move when every motion is pain. Pain as if you actually have glass in your joints and every time you move it grinds inside your knees elbows, shoulders, hands and ankles.” Oma would reply.  Every motion was a living hell.  This is the Oma I grew up with.  As a child I was oblivious to most of it.  I did feel her love and I always would get away with things no one else in the house could.  My mother’s sister was only 6 years older than I so we played together and she would get jealous of me and I presume I of her. I loved her very much.  I actually was named after her.  No, I mean exactly after her.  We lived in the same house and she was Karin Christine Seuren and because my mother was an unwed mother I was named Karin Christine Seuren.  Apparently this is a habit that runs on this side of the family.  This brings me back to Oma again.
When she was a young mother, she lived in The Netherlands with my Grandfather (Opa).  They lived on a farm outside of Geldrop in the Noord- Brabant province.  She was a proud mother of two boys during the German Occupation of Holland.  Her first born, Rolf was 5 and Freddie was 2.  I believe the year was 1944.  The German’s were occupying Geldrop.  Somehow Oma knew that something had gone terribly wrong.   The details are a little sketchy at this point.  The boys were outside and some young German soldiers had grabbed them and were punishing them for being outside.  The boys were put into separate burn barrels and set on fire.  Fred’s did not catch fire but Rolf’s did.  By the time they were found, Rolf was barely alive.  He died shortly after they found him.  Oma was never the same after that.  She went to soothsayers, fortune tellers and psychics looking to connect with Rolf in the after life.  It gives me shivers every time I hear this story.  I see a picture of Rolf with his white blond hair and silly smile and I wonder what kind of man would he have grown up to be?  Why did they want to kill him?  He looked like a perfect specimen for the Arian race.  His shadow fell over our family for decades and we tell the story so it will not be forgotten on how such atrocities occurred on a daily basis.  Not just in the death camps but every square inch that Hitler controlled.  As for Oma, she learned to live with the heart break and swears that God gave her another son so she could name him Rolf.  So Now we have Rolf who was killed, Freddie, my mom Ingrid, Rolf again and Karin and of course me Karin.   I never asked my Uncle Rolf whether he minded being called Rolf after his dead brother and I am not sure it would be an appropriate question. I always thought I was named after Karin because my mother was too sad to come up with anything else. This is another story for another time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Am I and Who Are You?

We are all daughters, that goes without saying because we are born to mothers.  Each of our stories begins there, at birth.  But who are we really?  Who am I really?  I am a daughter, wife, mother, step sister, aunt, friend, neighbor,cook, gardener, artist, writer-  the list goes on and on.  But who am I really?  If you ask all the people in my life, you most likely would get a different answer from each one of them.  Does any one person know another?  They know certain characteristics but do any of us really know the people in our lives.  Does anyone really know me?  Does anyone really know you?  I know some people consider me flakey and I used to take great offense to that before I realized that they were right.  I was flakey with them because  I really felt no connection to them.  That does not mean anything was wrong with them or me for that matter.  The relationship just was not there, therefore, I was flakey.

 My deep inner most thoughts are just that deep and inner and not shared but it is also part of who I am.  Is it  good to keep them to myself  because others will misunderstand what I truly mean or can I bare that part of who I am and not be persecuted?. There are times that I feel lonely and no matter who is home or who I am with I am very lonely and sad.  I think these feelings are necessary to go through to be better and to reboot our own systems.  Do I share these sad moments or do I hide them like always and get through it by myself?

So my story began at birth.  My first role in this life was as a daughter.  I have roughly 60-80 years to become something other than that.  Once again who am I?  Your story also began at birth and your first role was that of a daughter-  who are you now?  Tell me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Beginning Circle of Friends

I am creating this blog to share women's stories as I hear them and as I experience them. I feel a circle of women in each of our lives is as important to the individual woman as church, marriage, career and family. Women, especially in their middle years, are less likely to judge and more likely to empathize with each other. Support from a circle of female friends can be a lifelong asset. I personlly have a circle of friends from my knitting group that I would do anything for and I believe, that in return, they would do anything for me. Our personalities are all varied. We are democrats, Republicans, Dutch, Swedish, American and Canadian.  Some of us talk too much, some of us don't say much at all, but we all belong, idiosyncracies and all. If you have a circle of female friends that lend you strength and companionship I would love to hear about them and how they enrich your life. If you do not have a circle of friends please let this blog be part of that for you.  I find the best way to find a circle of friends is to join groups that do the things that you like or are passionate about.  This could be a book club, a church study group, a knit group etc. The point is that people who have one strong commonality find a foundation to build friendships.  My mother started a ladies night movie night group and from that group she has friends that have been there for each other for over thirty years.  This social network is strong even though the personalities are all different.  They drive each other to doctors appointments, they have buried husbands and fought with their children but each and every woman is there for the other.  It is this particular social skill that keep women healthy and able to live longer.  This is not a new idea, women have been gathering together for thousands of years.  It is natural and necessary in order to impart knowledge, lend comfort, give advice, and to lead our own families.