How to help when tragedy strikes

Yesterday in Connecticut the world experienced a horrific tragedy: the loss of children.  These are little people who may have gone on to change the world, and their tiny lives have been snuffed out by a man full of evil.  When things like this happen, we all hurt, but what can you do?  You can pray, you can donate funds to help the families with expenses (there will be many), you can send cards/letters of support, or help support a memorial for the victims.   …all of those things will help.

What do you do when it strikes closer to home?

We all know someone, or will know someone who experiences something horrific in their lives: the loss of a parent, spouse or child, and nothing is more devastating.   What do you do?  How can you help?  You don’t know what to say, so you throw out a vague “I am so sorry!  …call if you need anything.” Then you stand awkwardly aside while your friend bumbles through their grief, because the reality is there is nothing you can do to take that pain away.

Now for the good news:  You Can Help!!

With any sudden loss, your life gets thrown into chaos.  Many times someone in the throes of grief and shock doesn’t know what kind of help they need, and if they do, they are hesitant to burden others by asking for help.  Here is a list of ways you might be able to help, some cost a little bit of money, and some cost nothing but your time.

  • Babysit.  Can you watch a couple of kids for a few hours to give both the parents and the kids a break?  Parents have things to deal with, phone calls to make, and tears to shed.  Kids need a chance to be kids: pop in a movie, make some popcorn and provide some much-needed attention.
  • Walk the dog.  Or offer to keep fluffy for a few days if that is a feasible option for your living situation.
  • Offer to be a point-of-contact for updates: there may be a million friends/relatives calling for updates, and that can be hard for the grieving individual to deal with.
  • Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, take out the trash, sweep the porch or whatever outside chores need to be done: there will be a lot of visitors in the days to come and those outside things will probably slide for a bit.
  • Pick up/drop off kids for school/sports/church if you have time or are headed that way.
  • Paper products: seriously.  There will be a zillion visitors.  Things like extra tissues (get the good kind!), paper towels, paper plates, coffee cups, plastic forks/spoons, toilet tissue and guest towels are all helpful items.
  • Food.  Not just meals for the family, but consider trays of finger foods for the visitors.  Cookies, veggie trays, crackers, cheeses, grapes, etc…   For the family, consider meals that will not leave leftovers, delivered in disposable containers.  Healthy meals with plenty of fresh produce will be greatly appreciated.  (Make sure you ask about food allergies and label your meals with every single ingredient!!!)
  • Gift cards: gas, groceries, coffee, spa (who couldn’t use a massage during this time?) pet boarding, movie theaters, etc… There will be a lot of extra expenses for the family, so if you are financially able, any gifts will be appreciated.

While this is a challenging time for everyone, please be there for your friends and family.  Even if you don’t know what to say, it is ok to say “I really want to be here for you, but I don’t know what to say.”  In a time of need, being there means more than saying pretty words.  Offer to pray with/for them, offer your physical assistance and offer your quiet companionship.

Don’t take it personally if you are rebuffed: emotions are running high and there is a lot going on.  Don’t give up, just step back, let them know you are ready and willing to help, then check back in in a day or two.  Continue to love them and remember this will take time for them to recover and develop a sense of normalcy.

….Happy Birthday Daddy!

This is one of those times where it feels like even though there’s so much on my plate as a Marine wife, mother, Girl Scout junkie, podiatrist, confidant, doctor, consoler, grief counselor, nurse, chocolate and wine expert, carpool, soon to be homeschool mom, multi-tasker, chef, artist, couch potato writer and veterinarian that I have to stop for a minute and realize the date for a second.
So my sister had a dream about daddy.  It was pretty cool so I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for writing about it but she said she’d dreamt but what felt real that she’d gone over to visit momma and was just sitting at the kitchen table chit chatting when dad just gingerly walked out of the bedroom clear as day.  After she picked up her jaw she asked him, “What are YOU doing here?! You’re supposed to be dead.”  He basically told her that she was right and that he was okay.
It was pretty neat to hear & I wish I could have one like that.  Just to know that he looked real good and he is okay ‘from the horse’s mouth’ would comfort my heart and it did as she told me her story.  As I write this I sit in his old one pocket t-shirt that’s worn from the days he used to put in cigarette packs or tissue and stretch out the pockets.  When I first got this shirt from mom I only wanted it and some of his socks mainly because it was his we worn the same size (I used to use them all the time anyways) but it also smelled like him which was a HUGE plus but that almost killed and comforted me at the same time.  It’s his birthday today and it is a good day to reflect again on him and how he helped shape me.
I would’ve never known how to fish or seen someone go into the water to catch a catfish if not for mom & daddy.
I was spoiled rotten because I was the baby (no matter what my sister says)
I would’ve never realized how important family is without mom & dad because after Sammy, Cassie and Granny Little died everyone kind of clung closer to one another and I didn’t realize why but now that dad’s gone I do.  Life is precious and limited.
I never realized how alike I am to him and mom because without my sister-in-law, Kathie, my sisters and momma’s memories of my childhood I often overlook that we’re all different ages but are bonded together in more ways than one by the two of them raising us.
The list can go on and on…..
Time heals wounds.  Whoever said that is full of shit…lol. No not really but about half right.  I agree that it heals your heart by easing your grief but your mind is a whole other ocean of emotions.  When I sit back and think about the time that has come and gone since my dad has passed I think about the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, life changes and everything that has occurred without him.  Sitting here now I still want to call mom and ask for dad to tell him happy birthday!  We’d all go over and hand him lottery tickets or money or food but can’t anymore.  That gets me every time.
Hell he would have never guessed the price of a gallon of gas or anything else these days or that McCain would lose and we have the president we do.  Jokingly and sarcastically maybe but never in a million years would he have thought it would have came true. Ha!
He would have loved to see my sister kick cancers ass considering he passed away from it.  Everything simultaneously was smashed together 3 years ago today; her diagnosis, daddy’s illness and then passing which was incredibly hard on all of us but no one more than my sister.  That’s enough stress to make anyone crumble but like always she showed grace, strength, and still is amazingly inspiring through it all.
He would have been worried and excited to know I moved across the country.  He always had high hopes for me but we never thought I’d leave Texas ever!  He’d be surprised at how 3 years could completely change a persons’ life for the better.  I wish he could see my house, how my Chevy truck is still kickin’, how these ‘hippies and gold rush folks’ out here do more than surf and smoke pot all day like most Texans think and that they do have decent bar-b-que here.  I wish he could see my Wyatt Earp and Cody they love momma and I know daddy would have reluctantly loved them too.
He would have never guessed my momma would have gotten on an airplane and lived to tell the tale and several times at that!!  She got on her first one to come and visit me in California and has been on the move ever since.  She’s accomplished so much and come a long way to even retire from her job.  She misses her best friend and companion of 40+ years and to know a love of that magnitude then to let it go has to be the hardest thing a woman ever has to do.  Their fights, bickering, pinched butts, loving glances, sarcastic daggering glances, nicknames like “big butt” and the joking back and forth of their relationship balanced out the serious and not so serious times.
We have such a huge family and it has gone through some definite changes since daddy passed some for the good and not so good.  I think we all miss his presence and the taken for granted conversations the most.  The daily numerous phone calls to just check on us and funny voicemails we all knew what he’d say, “hey crystal, this is your daddy…” lol. I knew his voice like the back of my hand but every voice mail was the same it made me laugh then but cry now.  I wish I could hear that voice again.  I think we all miss sitting and talkin’ for a long time about nothing.  Anything would do from the latest neighbor gossip, snoody distant relatives, the weather from present to past, his family, our family including the crazy ones; nothing was off limits to a good conversation.  He’d tell you what he really thought then what he thought others would think would be politically correct so if someone asked you could just quote the watered down version. LOL!
I think we all really miss that the most and like I said time heals the grief but I doubt it will ever suppress the memories in our mind.
Happy Birthday spike!

can’t believe it’s been 3 years!

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Time heals wounds.  Whoever said that is full of shit…lol. No not really but about half right.  I agree that it heals your heart by easing your grief but your mind is a whole other ocean of emotions.  When I sit back and think about the time that has come and gone since my dad has passed I think about the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, life changes and everything that has occurred without him.  That gets me every time.   
 
Hell he would have never guessed that McCain would lose and we have the president we do.  Jokingly and sarcastically maybe but never in a million years would he have thought it would have came true. Ha! 
 
He would have loved to see my sister kick cancers ass considering he passed away from it.  Everything simultaneously was smashed together 3 years ago today; her diagnosis, daddy’s illness and then passing which was incredibly hard on all of us but no one more than my sister.  That’s enough stress to make anyone crumble but like always she showed grace, strength, and still is amazingly inspiring through it all. 
 
He would have been worried and excited to know I moved across the country.  He always had high hopes for me but we never thought I’d leave Texas ever!  He’d be surprised at how 3 years could completely change a persons’ life for the better.  I wish he could see my house, how my Chevy truck is still kickin’, how these ‘hippies and gold rush folks’ out here do more than surf and smoke pot all day like most Texans think and that they do have decent bar-b-que here.  I wish he could see my Wyatt Earp and Cody they love momma and I know daddy would have reluctantly loved them too. 
 
He would have never guessed my momma would have gotten on an airplane and lived to tell the tale!  She got on her first one to come and visit me in California and has been on the move ever since.  She’s accomplished so much and come a long way.  She misses her best friend and companion of 40+ years and to know a love of that magnitude then to let it go has to be the hardest thing a woman ever has to do.  Their fights, bickering, pinched butts, loving glances, sarcastic daggering glances, nicknames like “big butt” and the joking back and forth of their relationship balanced out the serious and not so serious times. 
 
We have such a huge family and it has gone through some definite changes since daddy passed some for the good and not so good.  If he were here he would have seen Brittany graduate high school, go to college, is a lifeguard and just a very beautiful young lady.  Brooke became an awesome violist, started high school, and is super smart with absolutely everything animals, she also is beautiful and looks a lot like Margaret as a teenager.  The animal changes Margaret’s had in her household daddy wouldn’t have been able to keep up with quite like myself but the big monster MoeMoe and licker Odie; none of us can forget.  Christopher’s out of college, doing extremely well in Dallas which is really great for a very smart and handsome young man he turned out to be.  Kyndel add a few more to her nest and settle down with a nice man who seems to really care about his kids and Kyndel.  Josh has followed in the footsteps of the Berner men by becoming an Engineer for the Merchant Marines which is amazing and has done and seen so many new things it’s unreal.  He will make many friends and many stories along this journey.  Christina and Jonathan both are doing so well in their jobs and families even though there’s always constant change going on.  Nevaeh and Amber have been through so much in their short years on this earth but they’ve come through it all with flying colors and are amazing little munchkins so smart and dingy at the same time; a little Texan and a little Californian.  He’d be shocked at how big they’ve gotten and how many big words Anthony & I don’t even know damn Californian teachers.  Melissa shocked the hell out of us all with her enlistment finally into the Navy.  Regardless of the obstacles she had to go through to get there, stay there and fight hard to continue on with her course of training she really showed her grit and commitment to her military service.  He’d definitely be amused that the Navy apparently just gives money away and that even though Melissa’s only been in 7 months she is almost at the pay grade Anthony is at with almost 5 years in! 
 
I think we all miss his presence and the conversations the most.  The daily numerous phone calls to just check on us and funny voicemails we all knew what he’d say, “hey crystal, this is your daddy…” lol. I knew his voice like the back of my hand but every voice mail was the same it made me laugh then but cry now.  I wish I could hear that voice again.  I think we all miss sitting and talkin’ for a long time about nothing.  Anything would do from the neighbors, the weather from present to past, his family, our family including the crazy ones; nothing was off limits to a good conversation.  He’d tell you what he really thought then what he thought others would think would be politically correct so if someone asked you could just quote the watered down version. LOL!  
 
I think we all really miss that the most and like I said time heals the grief but I doubt it will ever quell the memories in our mind. 

Happy Father’s Day!

The very first and most influential man in my life has been and will always be my father so I will go into a little bio of how his life has affected mine. Leo “Olen” Kadura was born February 10, 1933 to parents who had what seemed like a dozen children. One thing they my grandparents were though was resourceful and business savvy. My dad told me about one occasion where my grandparents didn’t have any money to replace livestock so my grandfather placed his cow on the railroad tracks so the government would be forced to pay for another cow since they disabled theirs. Now whether that story is true or not we may never know but it was fascinating to me upon hearing it for the first time since times just are not that way anymore. Who would think to put a cow on railroad tracks to get a cow exchange?

Like all parents mine just wanted their children to have a better life than themselves and did their very best to raise us 6 kids. My parents had given their heart and soul for decades to the original 5 Kadura children. Yet without hesitation and absolutely unexpectedly at the age of 50 and 40 my parents selflessly adopted me. I was told I was a very beautiful baby and my mother loved me from the start. Since I was adopted from birth I never looked or look at my parents as adopted they are my family and will be forever. The Kadura’s and Little families have molded me to be who I am no one else and it’s good knowing I was chosen and wanted. My aunt to this day calls me angel maybe in some way I saved my parents just when I needed saving. So here they go once again attempting to set up another child for success to be the best person I can be.

When I was growing up my mom worked so I was either at the sitters as an infant and toddler or at school then with my dad afterwards. My dad and I were inseparable for a long time during my childhood. I remember my momma trying desperately to wean me off of the bottle and one time in particular daddy was cooking something in the kitchen and I wouldn’t stop bothering him so he turned on the tv to Fraggle Rock very loudly as if to drown out my whining. I guess he could still hear me when he went back into the kitchen into his hiding spot and found a bottle for me so I’d be quite, leave him alone and watch tv. He thought it was so funny and I don’t think he ever got caught. I always knew from then on we’d be close. I went to his job sites with him to oversee his workers, got him Lone Star beer from his Igloo cooler, learned how to cut grass his way, bbq brisket, go fishing and make homemade bbq sauce. When we were all in my brother’s wedding the videotape captured it but people will also tell you I used to walk like my dad. He’d even take me to my sisters in the country and if she wasn’t home I’d wait while him and my brother would squirrel hunt.

In my adult years I began to think how as he aged and I wanted to learn and know more about his and moms life but also noticed how his health deteriorated. I resented it to a degree because his aging came at a time when I seemed to need him more than ever in my life. Slowly he stopped working, stopped driving and then stopped getting out of the house all together. I wanted my girls to know the stern yet kind and brutally honest man I’d cherished as a child. When he passed away in September 2008 I got to see how much his life impacted others in another significant way. He had more visitors and condolences in our small town than anyone else I’d ever been to a funeral for. The seats were packed and the procession to the gravesite was heartwarming to just witness how so many people loved and respected my father. Yet I was still upset and confused at the entire situation. Grieving in pain and selfishly I wanted him to still be around for my mom and family. I expected him to be invincible since he’d always been my hero and even though he’d beat it once the cancer proved otherwise the second time around. We miss him more than we ever could have imagined and will remember him always. We still laugh about his random and not always true stories like how he learned to cook in prison and how he got his nickname killer kawauski. Thankfully the peace of mind I have now is that my mom is doing well, my girls got to know him for a while and he met, approved of and became really good friends with my husband before he passed.

We’ll never replace someone who took up so much of our hearts. We will continue to remember how our lives once were when he was here with us.

Today we celebrate Fathers Day and no matter if he’s your step father, adopted, natural or biological father honor him. If he is across the street, across the world or in the sandbox remember him. If he is in heaven honor, remember and think of him always as you should every day. After all you wouldn’t be where you are or the amazing person you are today without his influence, love and guidance. To my amazingly strong husband who deals with 3 females on a regular basis thank you for being the love of my life and my girls’ most influential role model and best male role model in their lives. To my dad, there are and never will be words to say sorry for my teenage and young adult years but also thank you for everything you’ve ever done to make me feel safe, secure and confident about being who I am. I can’t imagine the hilarious things you’d say about the Marine Corps and what my life has evolved into but I hope I make you and mom proud.

Happy Fathers Day!