The Daughter That I Knew

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The Daughter That I Knew

By Bernadette A. Moyer

The daughter that I knew was beautiful and kind

The daughter that I knew was intelligent and independent

The daughter that I knew was bright and happy

The daughter that I knew was set for success

The daughter that I knew didn’t blame anyone for her choices

The daughter that I knew accepted responsibility for the things that she did and said

The daughter that I knew wasn’t manipulative nor ever seeking malice

The daughter that I knew could never turn her back on her family

The daughter that I knew would never have someone else raise her children

The daughter that I knew said, “How does it feel to raise a daughter that you never knew?”

The daughter that I knew, she was not you …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

I Have a Sister!

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I Have a Sister!

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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God gives us everything that we need and when we open our eyes to it, it all becomes so clear. I am an “O’Connell girl” by birth, the second born daughter of five daughters born to Bernie and Inez O’Connell. Although you would never know that I have “sisters” because they have not been in my life for about 25 years now.

Even as little kids I was the scapegoat and the “black sheep” my father favored me and my sisters clung to our mother. When dad left home so did my ally and I soon found myself on my own. And in that space of time I developed into an independent woman.

Our estrangement was over a child molester who married into the family, they sided with him and once again I was the “scapegoat” and the “black sheep” but it never bothered me, not ever. They have nothing that I want. My integrity in doing the right thing although unpopular has easily and always sustained me.

I never felt that I was missing out or missing something because I had replaced those relationships with healthy relationships. Today I opened up a friend’s weekly e-newsletter and the opening line referred to her “Soul-sister” “Bee” and that would be me! I had to chuckle and to smile while reading it. Not everyone would know that it is me, but I do.

I have a sister! I have a sister who has sisters of her own and yet still includes me. Her heart is open and loving. We are really comfortable around each other. We share a birth month and a birth year and we share our Italian and Catholic heritage. We are both writers and have a deep affection for the written word. We like our beach travels and good reads and that occasional glass of wine or mixed drink.

We are both madly in love with our husbands our homes and our children. When we are together the energy is always abundant and completely uplifting. She is the “sister” that God gave to me. And far better than any sister I could have imagined for myself.

Our relationship is easy and built on respect and love. At different times we have both been one another’s “911” call when family life was taking its toll or becoming a challenge. She was there for me and I was there for her.

Recently I read her book and I thought “that could be my family” it was about the history and the heritage of Little Italy in Baltimore.

The longer I live the more that I am sure that God brings us the people that are meant to be in our lives and He removes the ones that are no longer meant to be there.

It should have been crystal clear but today I had that epiphany “I have a sister!” And oh so much more … I have peace and love and all of it without the drama.

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Been There Done That

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Been There Done That

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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As we age we begin to acknowledge all the many experiences that we had whether they were personal or professional. The older we are the longer the list. One of the challenges in aging is to stay relevant and young in spirit. We can choose to keep our inner child alive and well or we can deny it.

That inner child that says, “I can do that!” And has a curiosity for all that is new and yet to be experienced. But there is also value in the aging person that can reflect upon “I have been there and I have done that!”

This week two friends had new book come out, for one she has written several books although this new book has a new genre and a new publisher and the other had his very first book hit the market. I am proud of them and pleased with what I have read. A younger Bernadette may have been envious and even jealous but the truth is that I am neither. I have been there and I have done that. Now I am able to be genuinely supportive and appreciative of their works.

Life brings change in its own time and its only way, the only thing that we can truly count on is that life will change. Nothing lasts forever and nothing stays the same. We may be aging but we should be all about where we are still growing.

Few things in life hold the same appeal as they did in the beginning, we either transition with the changes or we opt out. Anyone in a long term marriage understand that there is an ebb and a flow. What makes a marriage last is that agreement that the two parties share.  In essence that agreement if it endures the test of time says; I am here for you, I am here for you today and for tomorrow and when you are attractive and when you are unattractive. When you are glowing I will be there to bask in that glory and when you are down and out I will offer you a safe haven. In essence couples that are in it for the long run understand that.

Not every day is going to go your way. We mature as we age and we come to understand that as we grow and change and so do all those that surround us.

In my lifetime I have had an easy time with “hello” and struggled with my “goodbyes” and I have been working on that. I have learned to trust what you know and to let all the rest go. This has saved me much grief and heartache. When it comes to hanging on; I have been there and done that. And in retrospect it is not healthy.

What is important is what is ahead, what is yesterday has already been done, we have been there and we have done yesterday. The quest is for all that is yet to come and all that is ahead of us.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13

 

Randy Earns a 21-Gun Salute and a Gravesite

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Randy Earns a 21-Gun Salute and a Gravesite

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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There is no colder place than the top of a Pennsylvania hilltop on a February day when a man is put to rest in his final destination. Randy earns a 21-gun salute on the same day that he earned a gravesite. No one saw it coming; there was nothing that led me to believe that the only man I knew as my husband and as our daughter’s father would die at just 37 years old. I was so young and so ill prepared at just 23 years of age with a two year old baby girl.

I sat there in my black dress with my knees uncontrollably shaking and trying to make sense of where I was and what was happening. I now owned a new title as “widow” and in the past few days that lead up to this gravesite moment I would be pelted with questions that I literally didn’t comprehend.

Questions like; “Do you want a casket spray they asked?” and ‘Who do you want in the first car with you?’ and “Do you have someone to take you to say your final goodbyes?” Then it was “Could you bring his suit and he will need full under garments?” and “Can you sign this?” “You will have him buried in Pennsylvania won’t you?” “How many viewings would you like?” “Has the military been notified?” “Who is handling the church service?” “Do you have anyone for the eulogy?”

“His flight is on Eastern Airlines, we will meet the body but you need to come and identify it?” Of course I would come and identify his body. Maybe it wasn’t him. Maybe this was a mistake. We had just spoken the night before on the phone. He was alive then and now he is dead.

It was the first time I ever touched a dead cold body and yes it was him. I pulled at the sheets and nothing prepared me for what I witnessed. Because he was so young and died alone and in Texas, they had automatically preformed an autopsy. I was stunned by all the marks and the stitches and that coldness. He was gone. The man that I knew and had married was now deceased.

My head was swimming I couldn’t eat or drink I wanted to throw up. Randy is dead. Randy died. I kept telling myself over and over again. How on earth did this happen.

I sat there at the gravesite on that cold February day as I watched every last person say their goodbyes. When I heard the shots, three rounds of seven I was aware that his “brothers” from the military were there. Each round of shots pierced my heart deeper and deeper. I could barely breathe. Then the funeral director approached me and asked, “Do you want to stay for the lowering of the casket?”  I didn’t even think when I responded with “yes!” I wasn’t leaving until it was over. I knew that Randy would never have left me until the very end and I was staying there. I was staying there for him.

But when I saw that coffin lowered into the ground any composure I had was completely gone. “This is how it ends!”  I thought. This is how it ends in the dirt and in the ground. My sobs escaped like a bomb that had been detonated. Those gut wrenching sobs when you can’t catch your breath and your body has succumbed to the rawness of pure unfiltered grief.

Moments later I felt two men one on each side as they picked me up from under my arms and lifted me away. It was my father and his best friend Claude who came to save me. They literally carried me to the first car.

It has been more than 30 years now and yet I remember it all so clearly. I go to that site at least once a year. I leave things there. I leave flowers, prayer cards, rosaries and pictures of our daughter. I know that he isn’t there, not really but for me, that gravesite is his memorial place, and the only place I know where to go to pay my respects. And so I go there, I go there to that grave. Because I know that he would have gone there for me and no matter what has transpired in my life since his departure, I was his widow, when he died. RIP Randy Moyer (2/22/83)

(This blog won an award for “Best Gravesite Story” some were funny and others were sober but I was told this one brought the judges all to tears …)

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Did You Ever Think of Your Mother

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Did You Ever Think of Your Mother

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Earlier today I received an e-mail from a reader asking me if I ever thought about my mother during our estrangement. What a great question! I told her the short answer was “yes” and that I would blog my answer in greater detail.

So here goes …

In the beginning of my estrangement from my mother I thought of her every single day. And like a child I couldn’t believe that she didn’t come for me and try and make it better. I held out hope for many, many years. And like much of the grief process I went through the many stages of grief until I came to acceptance.

I was so hurt and angry in the very beginning. Partly because I had nowhere to go. I didn’t do anything wrong, nothing. My mother’s husband was accused of child sexual abuse and I believed the child that made the accusations. I still believe it happened.  Once it became known to me I wasn’t going to allow any of my children in his company. There was no big fight only one time that I told her and her husband. He sat there at my kitchen table and neither admitted it or denied it. That would be the last time that my mother ever came to see me in my home. I didn’t know it at that time, but I would be erased from her life.

When days, weeks and months passed and it silently became clear to me that I was now being excluded from all holidays and communications I was blisteringly angry. In my walking away he got away with it. He was held in high esteem by my family. My sisters all sided with my mother and with him. I was now a complete outcast.

Because I was a mother myself I was certain that one day she would come around and seek me out. One day she would find her heart for me. But that never happened. Through the years I tried a few times. Not a word from her. Nothing. Not ever.

After anger comes acceptance and I had gotten on with my life, I met a man, his wife died and I adopted his pre-mature infant twins and together with my then pre-teen daughter we created our own family. It was healing. We married and he loved me and loves me and I love him.

Did I think of her? I thought of her often. I thought of her when I met my husband because I knew that she would have liked him. He was Italian Catholic and so was she. I thought of her when my daughter was Confirmed and graduated from the eighth grade. I thought of her when it was grandparents day at my child’s school and when my child went to prom, and graduated from high school. I thought of her when I changed careers and was successful in life. I thought of her on my birthday, on her birthday and on mother’s day. I thought of her at Christmas and at Thanksgiving and at Easter.

I thought of her when I made homemade spaghetti and meatballs. I thought of her often. I cried many times. I prayed and I prayed. When her husband died I thought okay maybe now that he is gone she will finally find her heart for me. So once again I wrote to her and once again no response. Not a word.

Her death was sudden and I know exactly where I was and what I was wearing when I received the news of her passing. I can’t say I grieved the loss because I had already grieved losing her. What I grieved was the hope that we would ever come together again in this lifetime.

I only saw her once during our twenty-three year estrangement and it was around the ninth year of our estrangement. Her sister was getting married at the same church I attended as a child and where I was confirmed. My mother was holding the church doors open when I arrived with my husband. I looked her straight into her face and she looked down at the floor as I walked past her. She knew.

I don’t cry for her at all anymore. I have much peace in her passing. I believe in God and I believe in Angels and I believe that my mother knows the truth about her husband now. I also believe that she knows that I never once tried to hurt her.

So to the writer who asked “the question” “did I ever think of my mother?” Absolutely yes, yes and yes. Today I have moved far past the disappointment and the hurt and the anger. Of course I could wonder how it might have been different but the truth is I don’t go there. I know that for whatever reason(s) it wasn’t meant to be for us. This is my life and this is my story.

A story that has never changed … a story that I have lived and shared and helped many others who are also walking through estrangement. It is not easy and it is not ideal but for me it was a part of my life and I survived it. Today I am happier than I have ever been and much more at peace too.

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

The Only Way Out of it is Through It

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The Only Way Out of it Is Through It

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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This one is dedicated to all those that are grieving, whether it is from the loss of a child, a parent, a friend or a significant other. The only way out of it, is through it. Grief is something that we all experience with loss. They say the greatest lesson learned comes from the final lesson, death.

We all have people that we loved, people that are now gone from our life. They passed on or they moved on, either way there is a void that they have left behind.

For my friends who are suffering a lost child, that hole in your heart will always be there, the space that was once occupied by that child never fills up. Same can be said for those of us that have lost a parent or other loved ones. We can love other children though and love other parental figures, and other friends that help us to heal. They help to fill the void and show us that we can and will love again.

Grief is a tricky thing, while in it, we so often, can’t see past it. In my early 20’s I read all of Helen Kubler Ross on Death & Dying. I surrounded myself with books like, How to Survive the Loss of a Love written by a few PH.D’s. I loved Women and the Blues, Passions that Hurt, Passions that Heal. Being widowed at 23 was a huge lesson. Losing a child years later could have destroyed me and having a mother deny me could have been the final nail in my coffin, but only, if I allowed it.

The gifts from loss were numerous, the biggest take away, celebrate the here and the now, be thankful for all the people now in your life and give thanks for all of it. Our days here are numbered. My greatest regret; comes from the times when I allowed myself to get lost in my grief. There was a period when it was at the expense of not being there for those that remained in my life. Specifically for not always being there and present for my husband Brian, who I absolutely love and adore.

I cried for more than a decade over someone. Truth is no one is worth that amount of tears or that amount of grief. Simply put, life is too short. All those lost days can never be recovered, they are lost for good. The people that stood by me, in my grief, had me, yet I was less than who I could have been and who I am. The only way out of our grief is to come through it. Some people seem to rebound faster. Every one grieves in his or her own way, space and time and at their own pace.

I am part of a support group where there is so much fresh pain. The loss is so new for them. I wish I could take all their hurts away, I wish I could say, “Get over it.” But no one could have told me to just “get over it.” Our losses don’t go away but in time, they do become easier to manage and easier to live with. I can’t take back my decade of tears but what I can do is share what I might do differently. If anything, I’d get over it sooner. When I was stuck in my grief, I wasn’t able to love fully. What a loss.

Getting stuck happens yet I know that God wants us all to be happy and to love and to be loved. Death can be the greatest lesson of all. It is supposed to teach us that we shouldn’t take anything or anyone for granted. Death and loss are supposed to teach us that life is for the living, live it!

I am wishing peace and much love to all who are suffering a loss, those who are grieving over a child or a parent or a friend. Once you get past the grief, it can be just like spring with a fresh new beginning complete with signs of new life.

My losses didn’t teach me to love less, they taught me to love more and to love deeper and with greater respect and even more passion.

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Fasnacht (doughnut) Day

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Fasnacht (doughnut) Day

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Sometimes it is spelled “faschnacht” it is the English name for a fried donut and observed on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the Lenten season begins. Having grown up in the Northeast of Pennsylvania I was aware of and often celebrated Fasnacht day with a donut. Well, actually, probably, maybe more than just one!

In parts of Maryland the treats are called Kinklings and sold in bakeries on Shrove Tuesday. The word Fasnacht is German meaning Fast (verb to fasten, fast) and Nacht meaning night, eve, and the eve of Lent.

Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday, this is said to have come about in preparation of fasting during Lent and giving up rich and fat foods such as eggs, milk, meat and rich buttery dishes. Families were encouraged to eat up the rich foods in their pantries. In England they call Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the most Holy Christian holidays following Strove Tuesday and a time when many choose fasting and repentance for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.

As a kid, I just knew it to be “donut day” as an adult I love the little bit of history that came about during this period just before Lent and just how it was celebrated. You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy pancakes or donuts; sometimes it is fun just to say the word “Fasnacht” and to understand what it means.

In case anyone is looking for me, I’ll be picking mine up at Brown’s Market in Loganville, PA, they are the best! This should hold me over and through the Lenten season this year, when I plan to indulge far less. I can already anticipate the experience in getting my bag, they offer plain, glazed and powdered and they are larger than most donuts, they are fried and you can taste it but they aren’t greasy and they are just so soft and fresh.

The smell at Brown’s is intoxicating and that first bit is well worth the trip. There is a separate stand at the market just for donuts on Fasnacht day and many have called ahead with their order. It is just fun to be a part of it and to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Who doesn’t love a really good donut?

So on Tuesday February 28, 2017 support your local bakery and enjoy a fresh donut.

Happy Facnacht Day!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer