Monday, July 26, 2010

I’m Issuing Orders

When you come to Straight From Hel and leave a comment, I go visit your blog and leave a comment. Each day I also try to visit a few blogs that are new or that I haven’t seen in a while. For those of you who came by here in the last week… before I issue orders… I’m issuing an apology. If I didn’t come to your blog, I wasn’t ignoring you and I apologize. I got flattened by a train.

My older sister, by three years, unexpectedly and suddenly died. For every second of my life she has been with me. And then she wasn’t.

The night she died I was in Washington, D.C. It took me until midnight the next night to get back home. At the same time, my younger sister and her family got in their car in Minnesota and began the drive to Austin. And the next day, my daughter caught a flight home. We had to figure out where to put everyone and then… the memorial. Throughout it all, little things happened, sometimes nutty or frustrating, and I’d think, I have got to call or email Cathy and tell her. Then in a split second, I’d realize I couldn’t do that, ever.

My younger sister and her family and my daughter have gone home now. My husband and son are still here. I’m waiting until I’m alone to let loose and cry ‘cause I know once I start, it’ll be hours before I can stop.

It occurred to me, though, that with my mother and two older sisters now gone, I am the matriarch of the family. So, as the matriarch, I’m issuing two orders.

One: No one in my family is allowed to die before me. That includes my immediate family, all in-laws, nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. Period. No one.

Two: Although I am not the matriarch of your family, I order you to not leave condolences. Instead, tell me one good or happy thing going on in your family right now.

Those are my orders. So shall ye obey.


  1. Its funny because that is what I do exactly. I try to visit a new blog and a blog I haven't been to in a while at least once every second blog post.

    Sorry to hear your news. Hugs to you and family.

    Oh, So I am off to obey orders :)

  2. Obeying orders: My beloved, creative-and-therefore-odd-one-out brother-in-law decided several years ago that he wanted to be a vet. At that point, he had already finished high school and a theatre degree but he committed. He went back to HIGH SCHOOL to get the pre-requisites for Uni which, here, means doing the last TWO years over. After that, he didn't get in to Vet Science, so did Science for a year in hopes of transferring, then it happened again and did another year still in hope of getting into Vet and with only a few credits to the Vet course.
    This year he will graduate as a vet.
    I think that's pretty damned amazing and a great inspiration for those of us who think sitting at a computer doing what we love for years without publication is hard!
    So that's my good thing from my family, to yours.

  3. It's hard for me not to say I'm sorry for your lost, for I really am, but I will do my best to follow orders, Dear Helen.

    My good news: Today my daughter left for her first day at university. She got accepted into the architecture programme fully sponsored by the government.

  4. Our son will be off to sea cadet camp in Nova Scotia for three weeks. We are therefore mobilized into full 'pack for camp mode'with a 13 year old bouncing happily off the walls.

    You're a fine matriarch, Helen.

  5. Helen, you do make a fine matriarch; one who is a great example to us all with your professionalism, dedication and generous sharing of your knowledge.

    My happy news is that my big sister is coming home in three weeks time (she lives half in the UK and half here in South Africa)

    And Husband traded in his 20 year old car and bought a new Freelander HSE.

    As for me, I started a new diet...oh, wait, you want *happy* family news. Scratch that, diets aren't happy. Let's start again, as for me...the sun is shining, the ageless rhythm of the seasons is slowing turning winter into spring. And spring always brings new hope and new life.

    "Death is not extinguishing the light; it is the putting out of the lamp because a new dawn has come." Rabindranath Tagore



  6. I think I will have to break the rules and say, I'm truly sorry.

    One happy thing?

    My younger sister received her drivers license

  7. I put my son on a bus at midnight to go to the 100th year of Scouting celebration in DC. He'll be up there for a week and a half and was so thrilled.

    Obeying orders is hard for me, but I don't argue with matriarchs...

  8. My son is six years old, and one of the smallest boys in his rugby league team, but he is the best player on the team. He scores at least two tries every game. He's also the nicest. He talks up his team mates and helps them to their feet. He makes me smile every day. He's missing his two front teeth at the moment so when he smiles we all smile longer. I love him. I love you too.

  9. In obedience: My husband is my best friend who supports me in my crazy writing venture. He even tells me I'm not crazy. What a legend.


  10. Oh, Helen.

    My 17 month old loves to brush his own teeth and is learning to sign. He has signs for weather, bird, cat, dog, lizard, light, and hello. I've been blown away by how quickly and easily he's learnt this.


  11. I wouldn't dare disobey orders from a matriarch...

    Yesterday my son-in-law brought my grandkids over to the house to go swimming. :)


  12. I normally don't take kindly to orders, but since you are trying to fit into the shoes of a matriarch, I shall obey you.
    My younger one turned four and a half on Saturday, and is going around telling everyone he is almost five. And his brother is going on his first overnight camp this Friday. And I have put my foot down with a few people I used to humour (to my detriment) and am pleased about it. So this bit of your family is doing well, matriarch.

  13. Obeying - this weekend we attended a church homecoming at a little church that my DH's family has been connected with for 7 generations. The church is only open that one day a year for the homecoming and has no electricity so generators are used to run ceiling fans. My father-in-law was the oldest member there, he's 94. We helped continued a tradition I hope continues for many years.

    BTW, I'm not disobeying, but you're in my thoughts and prayers.

    Thoughts in Progress

  14. Very difficult to follow the first part of the second order...

    My older son is taking summer band for the first time and is learning to play the trumpet. Tomorrow, my younger son has his first saxophone lesson. And I love every screeching, tortured-goose sound they make with their horns.

  15. A happy thing in my family is that my son just graduated from college and he's working on starting a business.

    I'm going to disobey and say that I am so sorry to hear of your loss - I'm sure it's devastating.

  16. Am I allowed to leave a big hug? I'm leaving one anyway.

    My daughter (the youngest) just turned eight on Saturday, and I can't believe how much time has flown. But in the last few days, I've also reflected how proud I am of the family I have created.

  17. Thank you everyone. Each comment has made me smile and I sorely needed to smile.

  18. I am so sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through right now.

    Please don't feel the need to come to my blog and post a comment.


  19. With my deepest sadness, I shall obey.

    This summer has been unusually hot and humid in New England. But my twelve Jet Star tomato plants just love it and are ripening fast and furious. They hang like red ornaments on the vines, and taste as sweet as candy.

  20. I'll obey, Ms. Matriarch, but my heart is overflowing.

    My newest niece is crawling and has three teeth with the fourth on the way. And . . . her hair is growing.

    She has the cutest infectious grin, and she babbles all day long.

  21. I can obey orders. I can also send love and hugs from the moon

    here's one for you: my 17 year old daughter is a thespian. She is in a musical as a supporting lead. She has an amazing voice but she parked her character (a pivotal role). yes she is good enough for off Broadway but she wants to do children's theater. I will sing praises of her from the Moon.

    tho I write for children and those with spec needs, I take a break and blog from the moon


  22. I don't think you own an apology to anyone.

    Some friends of ours lost their 21 year old son last week. Every minute counts.

    Good things... er... my 16 year old just made his first three figure paycheck and he's tickled.

    My 17 year old has become an adult, mentally, and I'm very proud.

    My husband's recovering from his surgery finally.

    Life is good.

    Every minute counts.

  23. Happy News:

    My puppy finally got the concept of catching a toy mid-air rather than letting it hit then ground then pouncing on it.

    And he's lost 3 teeth this week!

  24. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers (no rule against that).

    My soon to be granddaughter-in-law is back from Boot Camp.

    My great-grandson says "Gramma" clearly and it thrills me no end.(age 2)

    I'm actually have a writing schedule I can stick to!

  25. Do you know how hard it is for me to follow orders, Oh matriarch?

    My son left this morning with an older family friend to go to San Angelo to help a couple people rebuild after their houses were damaged. Jake will be part of the roofing crew, although he will also be doing some carpentry work as well. An I don't envy him heat. I laughingly told him he's entering cowboy country, with the music, AND great steaks.

    Actually, the best steaks I ever ate were in Texas in a couple of hole in the wall joints. The something Stallion in Austin had the best T-bones, sigh...

    Dear kid will be gone all this week. I bet he comes back brown as a berry. Not that he's pale now.

    May your week be a good one. Be sure to take some time for yourself too, Sweetie!

    big hugs!

  26. Just finished dancing with kids to Dolly Parton blue grass.

  27. I hear and obey ... this weekend I listed Breakthrough as an eBook with Amazon and Smashwords.

    Stephen Tremp

  28. Okay - something good in my family...

    So much. Both of my kids graduated with honours :)

    Hugs and best wishes coming your way across cyber space. Take care.

  29. I'm enjoying a visit from friends I haven't seen in a while.
    And I am sorry, Helen.

  30. Dearest Helen,
    Obey,I shall, with lots of love and virtual hugs going your way. My good news is that I am closer with my son than I ever thought possible, given our history. It is such a blessings.

  31. I just got home(yesterday) and I feel your pain - love your decree too and so I will tell you my hubby and I just spent a week in New Hampshire with old college friends. There are 8 of us - a couple from FLA, KY, and Pa and us - from IL. Each year we get together - act like fools mostly. We went moose watching - a midnight excursion. One group took a car - my group sat by the campfire til we grew brave enough and went walking down the road (in the forest of course) We started out innocent enough - then "lions, tigers and bears - oh my!" burst from the four of us. We were suddenly ten years old and laughing like idiots. No mooses :)
    were found - but a good memory just the same!
    Consider yourself hugged by a sister!
    DL Larson

  32. Oh Helen...

    My daughter is enjoying her first summer job, meeting new friends, gaining confidence, and giggling about this time next year, when we will be college dorm room shopping. This summjer I'm watching her grow up and swim in pride at the good job she's doing.

  33. I have six sisters and one brother, all of whom I take for granted. Plus my mom and dad who are both turning 90 in August have always been here. We're throwing a big bash for their birthdays and making hand-churned ice cream. I wish you well.

  34. Dear Matriarch, your orders are hard to follow, but I’ll try my best. I’ve been away from the internet, too, but for the enjoyable reason that we had a houseguest. We ‘celebrated’ being able to get together by spending a few fun-filled days in Key West.

    More hugs

  35. Per your orders, Helen. Our 3 and 1/2 year old grandson visited for the weekend. I found a Thomas the Tank Engine app for the iPad and he taught me how to play it. Now there's peanut butter all over the iPad screen.

  36. (condolances in brackets means they're not really here, but I'm saying them in my head - I'm terribly sorry - I can't imagine how you must feel - thinking of you ...)

    Positive: In a week, my vacation becomes a real one, and I get to have two weeks away without any work to do :o)

  37. You can ask Miss McCleese, my third grade teacher at St. Michael's School, how good I am at following directions - Not! I am so sorry.

    But I will share with you that my oldest daughter got straight A's last semester. She's a first year Senior (yes, doing it in 5 years instead of 4) pursuing a double major in History and PolySci. Woot woot, just one more year to go.


  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. My husband took time off work to paint our house and make much needed repairs. That makes this family matriarch happy, although sad for what you're going through, Helen. When I lost my daughter and two grandsons, everyone told me they're in a better place, and I'm passing that message on to you.

  40. Yes, ma'am! One second ago, I offered my children a choice of something (Scooby Doo or Curious George-shaped fruit bites)--and they agreed! It was an absolute miracle. Miracles are good news, right?

    Thoughts and prayers

  41. I'm not going to send you condolence but I am going to send you lots of love from London.

    So! One good thing: I'm going home to Canada in September for the first time in two years to see all my family. I can't wait!

  42. Joanne, that reminds me that I need to check our garden.

    Ahh, Carol, new nieces!

    moondustwriter, a thespian, huh. I had the lead in a high school play. But I was not a thespian. I'm glad your daughter is enjoying herself.

    Fawn Neun, you are so right. Every minute does count.

    Okay, Meg, is there a correlation between your puppy learning to catch things mid-air and losing three teeth? ;-)

  43. Mary, I'm always interested in what grandmas have their grandkids call them (I don't have any yet, but am trying to decide what I would want a grandchild to call me).

    Sia, Jake sounds like a wonderful young man. If he likes beef, Texas is definitely the place to be.

    Pat, I love that! Dancing with kids is always fun.

  44. Way to go, Stephen.

    Jemi, who was more excited? You or the kids?

    Alex, hope your friends get to stay a long time.

    Karen, that is excellent news.

    Thank you Deb. And if laughing scared off the mooses, it's okay.

    Liza, it is so wonderful to take a child to college and see them move away from you. Sad, but wonderful at the same time!

  45. Yvonne, 7 siblings and home-made ice cream. Now there's a party!

    Jane, I love Key West. We've been there several times, although we always drive back to the mainland to spend the night. Next time, I'd like to stay there.

    Mark, peanut butter can be cleaned off. But do you really want to?

    Alliterative Allomorph - turn off your cell phone. I can never get my husband to do that and the office always calls repeatedly.

    Straight A's Jon? That's fabulous.

  46. Jean, thank you for that. It probably sounds strange, but it's comforting to know someone survived the loss of a child. I don't think I would.

    Michele, miracles do exist!

    Yay, Talli! Take pictures.

  47. I'm touched by your order and will obey.
    Happy thing in my family is receiving chatty phonecall from my daughter who lives out of state and who I miss so much.

  48. No condolences, but how about a hug and a funny story?


    My nephew Christian (six) and his younger sister Chloe (three) are playing in their bedroom. Unbeknownst to their father, the bedroom window is open. Christian drops something out the window and the following conversation ensues.

    Christian: Chloe, you climb into this blanket and I'll lower you down to get the toy, okay?

    Chloe: Okay

    Christian attempts to lower Chloe out the window, but isn't strong enough. She grabs onto the window frame. Instead of getting an adult, he tries to pull her back up. Again, he's not strong enough and she falls onto the blanket and the large bush just under their window.

    Chloe climbs out unhurt, except for a few scratches.

    Christian: Chloe, go knock on the door and ask Dad to let you in.

    Chloe: Okay.

    Christian goes and hides under a blanket, where he stays until my sister comes to fish him out and find out WHY his sister fell out the window.

    Christian is sent to timeout and the adults laugh for a week.

  49. Helen, my profound condolences.

    One good thing going on in my life is the Youth Drama Camp. We had our first day today and the kids had a blast. I didn't do the camp last year and had forgotten how much fun it is to encourage the creativity of young people. Not that they need a lot of encouragement.

  50. Something good: I had a three-hour lunch with an old friend and our high school English teacher (also an old friend), and we made plans to meet again next month. And Jason's Deli let us sit and reminisce as long as we wanted.

    Love to you and your family, Helen.

  51. Peggy, that's wonderful! Have you tried Skype? You can not only talk to her (for free), the two of you can see each other.

    Miriam, stories like that are so funny (thanks for the laugh) and, at the same time, so scary. Thank goodness she wasn't hurt.

    Maryann, are they doing plays?

    Kathy, how did y'all reconnect? Incidentally, my husband loves the salad bar at Jason's Deli.

  52. A couple months ago my 93-year-old father took a fall. He was in the hospital and a nursing home, but we have brought him home because he said that's where he wanted to die. Yes, I know this does not sound like a happy story -- but yesterday my dad made his way out to his beloved raspberry patch -- it took him a long time with his new walker -- and when he got there, he said, "Isn't it great to be alive! I think I'll stay that way for a while longer."

  53. Aye-aye, Captain. Good news only: I completed my finished book, this Friday I leave for vacation with the family, and my 17-year old just drove to Las Vegas with his friends and I still have hair left on my head.

    Watch this, it'll make you laugh -


  54. Kim, what a wonderful story! I love it.

    Gayle, folks think the hair thins because of age. You and I know it's because of kids!

  55. You're right, Gayle, that totally made me laugh.

  56. I'm spending some family time in PEI. We took the kids to the beach today. You haven't laughed until you've seen a four year old try to dance sand out of her swimsuit.

    Hugs to you.

  57. Helen,
    What a shock! My heart goes out to you. Take care.

  58. I've often wondered how my younger sister (by 9 years) will feel when I'm I know. Wish I didn't. Should have been able to guess.

    My 80 year-old dad is doing very well one year after his triple bypass surgery. My 50 year-old brother has heart issues; self-induced, but still scary.

    You never can tell what's going to happen.

    Hang in there, Hel.

  59. Helen,

    Your orders didn't forbid prayers and virtual hugs so they're coming your way.

    Happy news: My youngest sister has finally decided to finish the novel she, my sister, my niece, and my mother started before my mother's death seven years ago. We spent the weekend together and went through all the notes and drafts of what they'd written and decided it was a story worth finishing. She's also self-publishing a booklet of advice for Alzheimer's caregivers—from both personal experience (we were both caregivers for our father) and professional experience (she's a social worker for elderly patients, many with dementia).

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  60. When my father died, I went through a sea change. Life is too short and he should have been here to share it with me. Now I grab every minute. I strive for what is important in life and let go of the things that make me unhappy. I try not to sweat the small stuff. The happy part? My Dad's love of life and influence live on in every crazy scheme I get involved in. I'm sure Cathy will have a similar legacy. I feel for you at this time. ((hugs))

  61. Helen, your sister is probably smiling at you right now.

    I know I would.

    Take care.

  62. My daughter has just celebrated her first wedding anniversary. Seven weeks time it will be our son's. My niece has just graduated from uni, she has a creative writer's degree.

    Signomi apo Kyprios.

  63. What does "Signomi apo Kyprios" mean, Glynis?

  64. I broke your rules, so cheated a little. You are an important part of my writing life and I cannot ignore your pain. The words are Greek and mean...

    Sorry from Cyprus x

  65. I admire your point of view here, Helen.

    Death is a reminder to the living that life goes on and we should enjoy it as long as we can.

    Here's some good news from my side; little boy learnt snorkling during the vacation, and he was very proud when he made his first back flip from a quay somewhere in Montenegro. Small progress, but much joy >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  66. Glynis, I thought the words looked Greek, not that I can speak or write a word of Greek. Thank you.

    Cold As Heaven, that good news made me smile. Snorkeling is not all that easy to do!

  67. If you are the Matriarch, I need to keep coming to you with news, don't I?
    My younger one (4 1/2) informed me that he is going to become a writer. Perilous journey he is embarking on, but with his determination, he may just make it! And more than anything else, that made me smile.

  68. Yes, Rayna, you do indeed need to keep coming with news.

    When he finishes his first story, you might consider putting it on your blog so he becomes a "published" author!

  69. I had a little nap today- and a vivid dream. And in this dream, my uncle came and took my hand and led me through a house. One of those dreams that cling to you after you wake. Every detail seemed so vivid and real. I truly haven't thought of him in years-but those who are gone never really leave us.

    In our house now, we are celebrating the coming of age of our 2 wonderful teenagers.

    Family is everything-

    and you will be in my prayers

  70. Obeying orders: Good news only. Right now, my 93-year-old grandmother, who is in fantastic health, has traveled out of state to visit her 97-year-old sister. From the photos I've seen so far, it looks like they're having a grand old time.

    Peace be with you, Helen.

  71. What an interesting dream, Sally.

    Love that story, Anj. I hope I'm that spry at 93 or 97!

  72. My first visit to your blog--my apologies for that. I've just retired from the real world of working outside the home to my new career as WRITER! I imagine I will be visiting here often!

    Good news: My older daughter is coming to visit tomorrow, so with the younger one already in town, it's girls' time! Such a blessing when your adult daughters are also among your best friends.

  73. Welcome Susan! It is a blessing when your adult children are your friends. That doesn't always happen. If it doesn't then you have to work to create that relationship. It's worth the effort. Go have fun this weekend!


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