03 January 2011

Birthright Received

Where to start? I have been reflecting on this last year now that I really have firm footing, feel peaceful, rested. Yes. I spent the last week of the last year in San Antonio where my daughter was performing as part of the halftime show at the Alamo Bowl. The Alamo, where 200 soldiers and volunteers stared down a Mexican army of over 2000. Awaiting their fate. Hoping for rescue. Such a haunting place. A fit place for reflection.

The arc of last year was so beautiful and necessary. Last New Year's Eve we were homebound surrounded by several feet of rare Oklahoma snow. Mother so desperately ill. My daughter freshly 16, about to drive in this weather? I was a couple of weeks away from teaching a course I had not taught in a long time. I was facing the task of clearing out my mother's house. I was sure I would be burying her. I was sure I would never see my sister again after mother's death. I was unsure how I would do it all and be present for my daughter. I knew my husband would be on his own.

We all are born with a story. We are not born as blank slates, are we? Our families write on us who we're supposed to be and how we are to feel. When you hold a baby, you're profoundly aware all their potential. All the divinity in that soul. You know you started out that way. Hopefully you got loved and fed. Hopefully your upbringing let your own divine light continue to shine. Despite your parents best efforts when it doesn't, you, hopefully, find your way back to yourself, your true self. And hopefully that happens early enough in your life to enjoy it.

I knew since I was a very small child that I was the One. Out of my three siblings, I knew I would be the one to bring the trophy home for the team. I knew I would bury them all, and clean up all the bits. It is the birthright of everyone one of us to bury our parents. Not one of us escapes that. Unless the unthinkable happens and you die before them. Caring for mother this year and knowing her death was eminent was,after all a natural thing. Very natural as she was elderly and sick. I saw that coming.

I also knew I would be left to clear her house. While she was not a hoarder, she lived there nearly 50 years. I was brought home from the hospital to that house. There was lots of stuff in there. I cleared it all out and sold her house within four months. I also was working. I also was caring for my mother. I also was taking care of a daughter. I also had a husband to ignore. I also lost my sister.

I looked forward to never having to see my sister again after mother died. The best thing I ever did in that relationship was give up hope. I gave up hope that she would start acting right. I gave up hope that she would stop swallowing all that medication, inappropriate drugs at far too high doses. I had held on to the belief she would come to and shoulder the load with me. I gave up hope of that. How freeing that was. She could just then be who she was, always was. I could stop having expectations of more. I could (mostly) stop being mad at her.

I did not know that she would hang up on my mother last February and never contact her again. I did not know I would stop seeing her before mother died.

I watched my siblings cause deep pain to my parents as I grew up. My birthright was to do better. My birthright was to follow the rules. All my parents wanted for my brother and sister was to see them grow up, and be responsible. Well, I was going to do that! My birthright was to be funny, and smart and not move out until I got my first college degree. I did all that. My birthright was to be the last child standing. And I resisted that load of pressure every day of my life. Those expectations showed up as anger and anxiety. 

That resentment came to its fullness while emptying mother's house. Most every item I picked up induced pain. Each move was full of scorching, acidic anger. It doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't have to be healthy. It was just so. I knew I would be left to do it. And then it was true. And then I was doing it. And I ranted, and raged through it. With no one there to help me. No one there to help me. Alone. Alone again. Alone always.

But I got it done. I got it done.

I knew growing up I would have to become my brother's keeper. I always knew it. And then I was doing and I was doing it alone. Alone. Me and my 53 year old severely afflicted brother.

But I did it. I got it done.

I knew I would never see my sister again at some point. I assumed it would be after mother died. But it wasn't. I had to grieve her loss as I knew I would. But I didn't do it alone. I had mother there with me. My poor sick, old mother, watching another child go. I wished I could have lost my sister alone.

I just knew my mother would not see her 84th birthday last year. Then February came and she was alive. I just knew she was going to die when at the end of May she was so weak and emaciated she had to be lifted for every move. She could not even shift her hips or her head as she lay in bed. I just knew she would going to die soon after she became a Hospice patient.

Her low weight was 84 pounds. Her hair gone, Her fingernails and toenails lost due to malnutrition. Increasing pain. Weakness. Loss, loss, loss.

But then, she began to swallow all the protein they were shoving at her. One day she lifted herself from a chair. Then the toilet. She could dress herself. She started to sprout hair and nails. I thought it was that rally before death. People even told me that. After all she was on Hospice.

They kicked her off Hospice at Thanksgiving. Rather than dying with a chronic disease, she is now living with a chronic disease.

Last year I chose the word "receive" as my new frontier. I had worked for years on 'forgiveness' so I was giving myself years to 'receive' what is given since I usually resist and resent, see above and all previous posts.

Receive. That sort of sums up the year for me. All these birthrights I had because of my siblings where bestowed fully on my shoulders as I knelt at the altar of Mother. I didn't exactly receive them. I mean I had no choice, they were there. But I did face them, confront these things hanging over my head since I was a little blond haired kid. I have been just dancing as fast as I can. Trying to capture joy in my life. Feeling like dying. Wading through a constant pervasive sense of dread most days. And here was the climax. A reckoning. This last year, I did receive my birthright.

I have played the hand my siblings dealt me. I did not quit. I did get ugly, crazy. I did. But now something weird has happened. I feel pretty good. I like it. I haven't felt really depressed or even my normal daily reluctance to put one foot in front of the other for a few weeks. Just feeling pretty good. Not like dying. Like living. Thankful that I have a whole future ahead of me.

Something divine is showing. So it comes to me. I claim my life, my future. Time to shine. But in my aged, tarnished kind of way. You got that, right?

Also time to plan an 85th birthday party. Who knew?


  1. What a great story to start the NEW year! So happy Robin is well with her SOUL................

  2. Tito, hand me some tissues...

    Well, I've said it before and it is worth repeating, your brother is blessed to have you as well as your mother. Your parents did a great job with you, it is painful a lot of the time, I know. I look at Kerry and Betty and think, "where would they be without you?" I know that you think about that as well. Love is determination.

    I love that pic with you and baby G, so much. Actually every pic--the RK fist bump, young Robin, and all 4 of you guys, what a proud couple those parents were!

    You are amazing!
    You are amazing!
    You are amazing!

  3. I am too glad that you are in a better place this year and ready to face things for what they are. That is really hard to do. You are an inspiring and beautiful woman. Happy New Year:)

  4. Thank you for honestly sharing so much of yourself Robin!! I have watched you survive the past year with such grace.
    Here is to a new year full of hope and joy!!
    Love you!!

  5. Oh Robin ~ you deserve happiness, joy, love, peace and all the good things life has to offer and praying that you continue to find all of that and more in the new year!

  6. I really feel the circle you have painted here and I have seen 2/3 or it acted out before my eyes and you are right on all fronts. You were the one God sent to save the others. I love the old pics and especially this year's Kerry pic. I have never seen the pic of all 4 of you. That is the cutest lil Robin of all!

  7. You have such incredible talent. Such a great writer, I love reading your posts & innermost thoughts. For someone who has had some major trials this last year, you have to be the most upbeat & funny person I know. Never change who you are Robin. You are a strong person, and your family needs that strength. Happy New Year!

  8. OH Robin...this post touched my heart...I so understand this birthright thing and finally acceptance. I am glad you have found a state of peace and some happiness, because it is what you deserve! XO

  9. Robin, you have once again touched my soul in a way that I have never felt, the same way that you did in the post about your walk that I mentioned to you in Omaha. You have reached so many of us who struggle to do what's right and what's good when it comes to our families. Thank you for this uplifting post to begin 2011. XOO

  10. Once there was a little Birdie, living the only life she had known. Her life cramped her bit, and as she struggled to find comfort, there was a tear in her universe. A teeny bit of light and air came in. She liked the light, and craved more. She moved toward the light, but it was a struggle. Such a struggle. The more she moved toward the light, the more light there was. Until finally, her whole world was filled with light, and there was no more struggle. She thought she must have died. Then she realized she had been born. And she flew.

  11. Robin,
    I feel like I have been socked in the gut reading this.
    And I also feel, that if you can make it, so can I.
    Thanks for showing me what courage really is.
    Love you, little blonde girl!

  12. The picture of you and your brother brought the biggest smile and yet tears to my face. You are a gift to all of us, Robin. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for loving. Thank you for being my friend.

  13. Tears! You write so beautifully. I can't imagine all that you have been through and I love that you are planning another birthday with your mom. Thank you for sharing.

  14. You are a truly amazing and beautiful bird, Robin.
    I look forward to a year of watching you shine bright and beautiful.
    (and personally, I prefer tarnish... much more character and uniqueness found in it.)
    Hugs to you!

  15. I just found you....can't believe I haven't stopped here before....you are an inspiration to us all....



  16. Your words are so beautiful. Such an inspiration you are. Enjoy 85 mama!
    Shannon C

  17. I love you Robin. I am so inspired by you and your amazing strength. Your life is a triumph. Claim it and live it!
    This was so beautiful to read. Thank you.
    love to you...

  18. I wish I could write like this. I think that is one of my biggest wishes. I love reading your posts. The gift to write was not one given to me.
    I am so happy your brother has you to care for him. I am so happy to hear your mother grow and become stronger again. My mother wasn't expected to still be here either. She is so strong and fighting like I could only pray I could fight. I have learned so much from her. I totally understand about being your right to care for your family. I feel the same way. My mother cared for me and loved me like no other my whole life. It is my honour to care for her now. :)
    Big Hugs to you Robin

  19. Sister Wife, your growth over the last year amazes and thrills me! My heart swells with love for you and the story you tell. How blessed is your mom and brother for your steadfastness! I love you, SW!

  20. Beautiful.

    I'm sitting in the anger and anxiety as we speak. Some days it feels like I am trying to breath water and I resist the uncomfortable truths of my family. I am trying to get that it is what it is and that if I stop fighting the feelings, they'll come in and have their way with me but then they'll go away and I'll be able to breath again.


You have no idea how much this comment means. I really thank you for taking time to connect with me. This is why we are here, isn't it?

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