There in the dark, pieces scattered around the garage, what was to be a project for my husband. He never managed to find the time or the desire to start the project once it was taken apart. Aged, no longer used, the parts rusted with time. Tires in different corners of the garage, fenders hanging on the wall, the motor removed from the frame….. I went through the boxes and found as much as I could to bring some sort of vision together for my weekend adventure. It was early morning when I started and by the end of the day there before me sat a ’56 or ’57 Francis Barnett motorcycle, (I’ll have to check the serial number for the exact year). I’m sure I could hear the bike breathing, sighing, relieved that someone remembered she was there. I looked out in the garage before I went to bed, and you know I almost felt like she was smiling at me, thanking me for bringing her parts back together that had been lost. I know just how she feels, because in a way she did the same thing for me yesterday.
Chef told me back a few months ago when I started my little blogging adventure that I was bound to offend someone,
and guess what?! Now I have. I actually blogged bout this on my site, but it occurs to me that the author of the email might have followed me from here, so I’m going to post it here too, just in case. Besides, the message holds.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been honored and humbled by an outpouring of personal emails that people have sent me asking for advice or saying how much a piece I wrote helped them. They always leave me in tears, plus it makes me feel useful in God’s kingdom when I can comfort someone and help them in a difficult time.
And now I’ve been scolded. For what, you may ask? I’m still trying to figure that out. This person doesn’t seem to be one of my followers, and it seems to be a dummy account because you can’t respond to it. Tsk, tsk. But, I’m not even going to use the name you used or publish the email. It really isn’t important to me to embarrass you, and in my opinion, you not even letting me respond via email back to you should embarrass you enough anyways.
Now, I’ve made it pretty clear that you shouldn’t fire off verbal grenades and not have the fortitude to identify yourself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a different opinion than someone else. But when you hide, you are invalidating said opinion, and I don’t know about other people, but I can’t respect that. So, since I know you read my site, I’ll share something with you and hopefully this will put the matter to rest.
The outlaw motorcycle club seems to be a concern in this person’s thoughts. Let me tell you exactly what I think about my husband being in an outlaw motorcycle club.
Many, many years ago, before Chef was involved with this club, he was actually part of what is called a Mom and Pop club. This is mainly a riding club where motorcycle enthusiasts join up each week and ride together to different locations. It is a lot of fun, and is a good way to get to know each other. And for the most part, this group of people were just wonderful. This is the club we belonged to when I was involved in the motorcycle accident, and they were there for my whole family when we needed help. I have nothing negative to say about them.
After the accident though, mainly because of the accident, at least in my mind, I wanted some distance from the reminders, and that kind of killed the joy for me in the club. And with that death came Chef’s, because if the wife ain’t happy, neither is the husband. There was some disagreement, and the club split in half, and our half took to creating a new club.
Now, without getting in specifics, I will say that the one thing that was lacking in this “new” club was honor. Men were hitting on me behind my husband’s back, and it caused a real stir in my marriage. One thing that you have to understand about motorcycle clubs, or any clubs for that matter, is that trust has to be a central point.
It didn’t take long for that “new” club to completely implode, and poor Chef, who desires the camaraderie he once experienced in the military, was left without that important part of his life. And along came The Motorcycle Club. I’m a big one on first impressions, but I’ve learned over the course of many years that I need to gather more information before deciding yay or nay on something, and so I sat back, running my little bar, and watching these men and their women who came calling on Chef. And after some very kind and open conversations with one — Yes, that’s you Brooks– I decided that I kind of liked the structure of their honor system. I’d been told we women should never ask them questions, and in one fell swoop, Brooks invalidated that theory and let me ask the questions that I’m sure others would be offended by, and then he gently answered every single one of them honestly and openly. I’ve had less experience with honesty with pastors than I did with him. Thank you, Brooks!! Turns out, they have more honor than most Christian churches I’ve been in.
Now, let me be clear. Unless you’ve held in your arms a girl who has had her innocence stolen by an adult just so that he can get some sexual gratification, you don’t get to have an opinion about how we perceive the world. The minute that happens to a little girl…and I imagine it is even worse for a little boy…the world suddenly becomes dark, dangerous, perverted, evil. And with that perception comes an innate distrust for people…You tend to assume that everyone is selfish and that you will be annihilated if you are vulnerable. Compounded with that hurt, is having a pastor that your respect, even if you never really liked, tell you that your rape was your own fault. There is nothing you are going to tell me about only looking to Christians for the answers. I’ve learned a ton from non-Christians.
I’d read books on biker culture, scoped the internet, watched television…I definitely had a preconceived notion about who these people were and what they were about.
Then, I got to see up close and personal just how protective these people were with their young, and anyone else’s children as well. I laugh because for all the jokes about them being dumb, I find this lot of people pretty damn smart. And I watched a convicted child molester try to join. Guess what? He didn’t get very far. They have this uncanny ability to sniff out the people who hurt the innocent, and he was sent packing. I’ve watched serial adulterers join, thinking the women would be easier to lay, and those guys are gone too. I’ve watched liars join, and be escorted away from the family. In fact, I have to say that I know a ton of bikers that are professed Christians on varying levels of their walks with God. So much for judging books by their covers.
I also have watched over the years this code they live by. No lying. If you get caught lying, you’re on your way out. No stealing from a brother…You steal, you’re out. Need some help..they are givers, even if it is just their talents they have to give. My home is nice, neat, and well-maintained because of this family we are in. In turn, I take a lot of wedding pictures and Chef cooks a lot food to help out this family. No cheating with other brother’s wives…You get caught, it isn’t allowed and you won’t be staying in the family. And child molesters….just move out of town now. They don’t condone it and will handle their business. In other words, this motorcycle club taught me the meaning of honor and holding themselves to a higher standard than some Christians I know. So, please. Spare me. Unless you are in it, don’t preach to me about who I should be hanging around with. I am not gifted at leading Christians to the Lord, they are already there…. What do they need me for? I will say that I feel safer surrounded by these men in colors than I do sitting in a pew at church. And for those of you who are childhood sexual abuse survivors, you know just how hard it is to make us feel perfectly safe surrounded by people. Am I right?
I am not going to apologize to you or anyone else for being completely honest about the things that I struggle with, or the people who I have a loyalty to. This club had never done a single thing to me that they should apologize for. Are they perfect? No! But they are humans, and they deal with the same failings that Christians in the church pews deal with. Difference is, from what I can tell, they’re more honest about it to themselves and others. I find that sharing what sins I struggle with makes me human, and it doesn’t give this image that once you are saved everything is Noodle Salad and Church Picnics. Life is hard, and it remains hard. The difference is that I feel like I have a purpose. I have a healing direction, and I have an empathy to help others head down the same healing path. I usually feel like I’m in big trouble when I die, because I do make a lot of stupid mistakes even though I know better. But, for whatever reason, God always deals really mercifully with me, and in turn, I intend to do that right back to my fellow human beings, Christian, motorcycle bikers, strippers, prostitutes, drug fiends, whatever. I love them all. I’m a firm believer and preacher of grace…Without it, you wouldn’t be getting in either!! I will continue to try to become more like Jesus, but let’s be real….I’m never going to resemble Him much…He was too perfect and very much God Reincarnated…
Hope this sets things straight. You don’t have to agree with me, and maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think so, but what do I really know anyways? And seriously, stop sending dummy stuff…that is just too weak! I have mad respect for the atheists and agnostics that disagree with me on my site (respectfully) than I do someone who shoots off fiery arrows and then hides in the trees….Seriously???? For all of you, my email is email@example.com. I’m standing behind my opinions and beliefs.
Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox for now. :)
So, today I find myself on the horns of a dilemma of my own making once again. The back story on this one is necessary, so bear with me, if you will.
After the divorce of my parents when I was around 6, my father’s family, through no
choice of their own, basically were removed from my life, and stayed that way until my early adulthood, when I happened to see one of my aunts giving an interview on the Sally Jesse Raphael show, which included a news clip of a reporter interviewing my father on a rather bizarre, yet somewhat humorous incident that she had been involved in. (Oh, yes. One day there will be a post on this one…lol. But not today.. :-) ). Audra had been visiting, so she can attest to my brain exploding in my livingroom…But, I digress.
The relationships between family members on my mother’s side of the family can be complicated and tricky, and I, for one, have never been all that relaxed with any of them. History in that family had taught me to be ever so careful with any thing that I said or did, because they could — and were — often misunderstood or misinterpreted by fellow family members, and never erred on the positive side for me.
And even though I’d discovered my father’s family again, my life was hectic with my three toddlers and my quest for self-identity, and they faded out again, through really no fault of their own. My father would pop back into my life at varying points, but life would take over again, and before you knew it, a lot of time would pass and I’d have lost touch with him again…
Recently, because I hadn’t heard from my dad in quite a while, I tracked him down using Ancestry.com. He likes to stay off the grid, so that was no easy feat, but being his own mini-me, I was able to track him down…And enter my Aunt C.
I guess because I didn’t have to deal with this side of the family, it was easy for me to put them all on a pedestal. Fairy tales are easy to believe until you’ve lived a month with Snow White, and you realize that she can be moody and cranky, as well as lovely and kind. And I’m sure the feeling went the other way too, as I have some quirks that annoy people around me, too.
Here’s the one that started my present pickle. I don’t usually check my voicemail on my cell phone. I, at this very moment, have 32 unheard voice messages, and I have absolutely no intention of listening to them, ever. This has annoyed everyone in my life, at some point or another, but I don’t want to change. I just figure if it is really important, you’ll call back. Or, if I’m expecting a phone call that I have missed, I’ll call you back. Don’t care about messages.
Well, of course, Aunt C didn’t know this about me. About two months ago, while riding on the motorcycle, I missed a couple of phone calls from her. I was in the middle of no where, so I decided to call her back later, when I got home. A LOT of hours later, when I did finally make it home and settled, I broke my cardinal rule, and actually listened to her messages. At first, they were kind. Then, they got kind of stern; lastly, they were offended and somewhat rude, like she figured I was ignoring her specifically because I didn’t love her anymore. That freaked me out.
Because of the tense, complicated relationships on Mom‘s side of the family, I sincerely didn’t want to be in even minor family feuds on my Dad‘s side. And I had inadvertently launched one. My reaction — hide. I’m not usually a coward, so I am having a hard time understanding why I can’t pick up the phone! I see that it is her calling me, and I just can’t think of some good excuse for ignoring her calls all this time. Nor do I want to tell her the truth, either. I’m kind of stuck.
I did tell my Dad when this was first starting, and he said not to take her personally, that she does this with everyone in the family. He simply didn’t care one way or another whether I ever call her again, but I do. This is not a characteristic in myself that I’m liking much.
For some reason, I still can’t shake that dread that I may have to face the fact that if I’m going to truly embrace, and be embraced, by my father’s side of the family, I’m going to have to deal with this kind of crap. Families just have these moments. Ugh.
I’m not there yet at the moment, and now that I’ve been hitting “ignore” on my phone for months now, I’m making my mess into a hurricane-sized problem. I guess today, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and call her and take the butt-chewing I know I deserve for being a little weenie these last few months…Bummer. Wish me luck!
Due to a lack of time today, I thought I would repost one of the stories I’ve already written at my other site. I hope you like it. — Bird
Re-posted from Everyone Has A Story:
I’ve always been able to pinpoint exactly who I was angry at. When my parents got divorced when I was six, I was angry at my mom. When she remarried a guy totally the opposite of my dad, I was mad at her and the new guy. When the perpetrator destroyed my innocence, I was mad at him. When I kept making decisions as a young adult that I knew were really, really self-destructive, I was mad at myself. I don’t have a problem knowing who I’m angry at. I own it.
But through all of life’s hurts, I never once got angry at God. It would be fair to say that I understood the concept of free will from a really early age, and didn’t blame God for what people did that hurt me. Until the Motorcycle Accident.
On June 11, 2005, I was involved in a really bad motorcycle accident. A group of us were
travelling down one of Oklahoma’s country highways when a van turned left in front of us. I was on the first bike that hit. It was a fluke that I was on this bike, as I usually never rode with anyone but my husband. But on this day, because I wanted to get pictures of him driving his bike, I was riding in the front with a friend….Two bikes hit the van, and three bikes were “laid down”, which means they basically slid on their sides to avoid impact. My husband, who had been bringing up the rear, was the only one who didn’t crash. Instead, he had the poor misfortune of watching his wife and friends all get hurt.
When the bike I was on hit the van, it catapulted me towards the top of the van, and the frame broke all of my ribs….all of them. Some were broken in more than one place. The broken ribs, in turn, punctured both of my lungs in several places. Needless to say, I was dying, and rather quickly. But, as luck would have it, two off duty paramedics happened to be at the convenience store right there, and had seen the whole thing happen. This is in the middle of nowhere at a tiny, franchised Joe’s Convenience Store kind of gas station. Talk about God hedging my bets! (You Rule, God!) They rushed out, and kept both me and another woman hurt really badly (Rose), alive until the helicopters and ambulances arrived.
My body was really torn up. On top of the lungs and ribs, I broke my collar bone, fractured my neck, bruised my heart, lacerated my liver, and fractured my spine and pelvis. And I was in a coma….thank God! I woke up twice briefly that day just long enough to pull the ventilator that was helping me breathe out each time, thus damaging my larynx. And soon after all of this, I developed ARDS and pneumonia in both lungs. I was dying. The whole experience of being in a coma was terrifying…I wish there was a better word for it, but words can’t express the confusion and terror….
Everything I just wrote had to be told to me by other people, because what I remember is something a lot darker. I was caught in hallucinations. It has long been debated that there are several levels of consciousness between life and death, and I agree. I just want to skip all of those next time and go straight from being alive to being dead. Just saying, God…
I still don’t like to talk too much about what my brain thought was going on. I will say that for the first few weeks, it was nothing good. I was caught in rooms with no doors and no windows, with strange red-lipped women. I was going to be killed by a terrorist cell. Some nurse was trying to rape me…It goes on and on. Had it gone on much longer, I would have probably just gone on and died. It would have been preferable.
While I was caught in Dante‘s head, my husband was not pleased with the doctors taking care of me. And when Don isn’t pleased, he can be a very big pain in the butt. Three times they had taken him into the family room and told him to get my affairs in order. And three times, I just kept hanging on. Don had basically parceled out our three teenagers, and all but blew off his job. Medication couldn’t keep my blood pressure from soaring to dangerous heights, but his voice could. So, he rarely left the hospital — for months.
Three weeks into this whole ordeal, Don had had enough. He and a friend went on a quest and found out that the top pulminologist in Oklahoma lived right here in Tulsa. Her name was Dr. Grace Kennedy. That is another long story, but for times’ sake, lets just say that Don sweet talked her into taking my case, bullied the hospital into giving her rights to practice there, and threatened my team of doctors if they didn’t “invite” her to lead my case.
Dr. Kennedy, after visiting me once, decided to take a risk. She told my husband that all that movement I was making might not be pain; instead, it might be a reaction to morphine. She changed up everything — my bed, my antibiotics, and THANK GOD — my pain medication. She put me on Demerol instead. Immediately, I began to heal. Turns out, I was allergic to morphine and all those horrible hallucinations were being caused by that medicine. Every time I would twitch or moan, the nurses would give me more, launching me straight back into hell.
I have a few vague memories of coming to, but it is really hard for me to separate what really happened during that hospital stay and what happened in my head. Until one morning, a really loud voice said, “CATHERINE, WAKE UP!!” And I was awake. I mean, really, really awake. One, because the voice was really loud. And two, because only my dad calls me “Catherine”. It has always only been used when I was in trouble.
I was alone in the room for a minute, and I realized I was in a hospital room. Just then, a female doctor walked in. (Another miracle. How often do you actually catch a doctor in your room??) She seemed startled that I was awake. I motioned to her that I needed something to write on, and she handed me a pad of paper and a pen. I wrote one word, “thirsty”. She explained I couldn’t drink being on a breathing machine. I wrote a second word, “out”. This is another long story, but in the end, they took me off the breathing machine that very hour, and after several months, my numbers stayed where they were supposed to be. They didn’t drop even one point. Remind me to tell you about the moment my husband came in after that…It is just the most romantic story ever…
But I digress. One really significant thing changed about me the day I woke up. I realized I was angry. No, the word “angry” just isn’t graphic enough. I was pissed off. And I was having trouble understanding why.
The anger was just building and building. I was released from the hospital about a week later. I was supposed to stay on oxygen and cart around this tube of air…yeah, I don’t think so. I was a 37 year old woman…too young to be doing that. I tried going back to work, but lo and behold! I transverse numbers now..This is unacceptable for a bookkeeper. My life had been permanently interrupted.
I didn’t talk to God much those days. This is odd behavior for me. I chat with Him all day long. Well, I mean, He doesn’t chat back, but as you’ve probably guessed by now, I am a talker. That was my first clue back then that there was a problem.
Finally, I had to mentally set myself down and examine my feelings. You can’t begin to fix what you won’t acknowledge. And I admitted to myself that I was mad at God. Why? You aren’t going to believe this one….
It wasn’t because I was hurt so badly, or because my hallucinations scared me to death, or that my poor children had all been farmed out for months to people that were relative strangers to me. Oh no. Nothing that noble, or even understandable. I was pissed that God didn’t allow me to see Him or His angels during a near-death experience. My spirit didn’t get to hover over my body, and I felt like it was the least He could have done for me. Seriously.
Have you ever had to have a conversation with your God that you know is just about one of the stupidest conversations you will ever have??? Well, I did. I told Him I needed help getting over my anger. I thanked Him for what He had done for me and my family, and then I tried to explain to Him why I had wanted that so much, as dumb as it may sound.
You know what? He understood. He showed me that it was okay to be honest with Him and with myself. He can handle me being mad at Him. He showed me that there will be a time that I will be in His presence, but that had He given me a glimpse, I might have stopped living here on earth doing my job, and pined instead for what I had seen. He assured me that some people need the “push” that comes from seeing the other side, but for someone like me, who didn’t need that, it could have worked against His purposes for me. And lastly, He let me know that even this accident would be used to reveal His glory. I felt like He was thanking me for going through it.
It is the one time I have ever been angry at God. I doubt anything could make me angry at Him again. But should I ever feel that way again, I can take my concerns and disappointments straight to Him. He isn’t offended by my anger. He can take it!
Thank you again, Jesus!!