A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Heading Soon To Florida

My parents at Westhampton Beach

One of the nicest photos of my brother that I've ever taken.

So my brother Rob and I decided to go to the Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg New York which we've been going to for  over a decade even though our father had died five days earlier.  Earlier in the week I wasn't sure if I wanted to go because I was feeling a little unstable mentally, but I knew it meant a lot to my brother to go and I wanted to spend a couple of days with him.  It turned out all right.  I was stable and the weather was good despite all the rain we've been getting in this area lately.  Also I got to take this great picture of Rob where he looks very happy and relaxed.  The festival was good, but not as good as it has been in the past.  We did get to see and hear Steve Earle which was a plus, though that was the first night we were there and I had had a long day and was very tired.  Unfortunately a singer/songwriter/musician named Samite (who was originally from Uganda) got sick and we didn't get to experience his great music.  I play his music in my car a lot because even his sad songs are happy and his music relaxes me.  He was one of the reasons I wanted to go to the festival.

So I've been home for almost a week and I'm feeling pretty good despite my father dying.  I don't know why, but I am okay with him being gone and my mother too.  I've been preparing for it for the last eight years or so since my parents entered into their 80s.  I am so grateful that my father died very quickly.  It was quick and quiet with little of the trauma that so many people go through.  This week I've taken care of some of the practicalities such as informing the Social Security Administration of his death, the lawyer and the company he worked for in NYC (so they could stop sending his pension money).  I also paid off most of my father's minor debts and worked with the funeral home giving them the permissions they needed to cremate my father's body as was his wish.  And then I arranged for roundtrip tickets for Rob and me to Fort Myers Florida and back.  We will be leaving for a four night stay on Sanibel Island where my parents spent 10 years of their life in a nice home near the beach before entering a Fort Myers retirement community.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the condo I chose to stay in is very near to my parents old house, within walking distance, and we will be staying practically on the beach. 

My brother had wanted to stay in a cheap hotel, but I quickly told him that I wanted to spend the extra money and stay on Sanibel which fortunately is in the off season right now, so the prices were not ridiculous.  We have not spent a whole day on the beach or overnight in years and we both love it.  I wanted to honor our parents and also touch base with some of the joy we felt spending time on Sanibel with my parents when they were in 60s.  As I've written before, the beach was our family's favorite place.  My parents had bought a small beach house the year my brother was born, 1958, for the small amount of $9,000, which was all they could afford.  I spent my summers there from the time I was born till I left for Western New York at age 27.  Now I am a woman who has lived in the country for nearly half my life.  I love the country, but I am not a country woman.  I am a mostly stay inside the house kind of woman, especially since I got ill in 1998.  And so I watch the wildlife through my dining room window, mainly the deer, the birds, a resident woodchuck and the occasional bear.  But my heart is really much closer to the ocean.  At the ocean I can't help but want to be outside near the water.

When I left New York City in 1989, I had to give up my attachment to the beach because I would be living at least 6 hours away from it deep into the country.  And so I have for most of 26 years.  And then for the last 15 years I've been obese and have no desire to get into a bathing suit no matter how tempting the water seemed to be.  But even without swimming, just getting my bare feet into the sand and into the water and seeing the long stretch of the beach and watching and identifying the shore birds and soaking up the sun and the expanse of the sky gets to me like no other landscape.  And I want that now as I rejoice in the good lives both my parents' lived.  I have no major unresolved emotional baggage to carry.  I know that I loved them and I know that they loved me and we told this to each other often.  They are still my people and the smart, kind people that I follow.  And, of course, I am a believer in some kind of life after death.  And so I pray and will continue to pray that they are in some good place and that their spirits are alive and well as they journey on.   

Here are some photos I took of Westhampton Beach and Sanibel:

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