I don’t know about you, but this year has been a wild ride for me. There have been many changes and challenges in my life, both personally and professionally. So as excited as I am about the holidays, I am really looking forward to 2013. Unless those Mayans have the last laugh.
In late February of this year, I came back to Alaska for the birth of my second grandchild. Although I had advance notice of this joyous event, it created a storm of rather epic proportions in my family of origin. Blissfully unaware of what was to follow, and having prearranged for my elderly mother’s care 6 months ahead of time (or so I thought), I made my plans and bought my ticket.
Two weeks before I was to leave, my mother suddenly became mysteriously ill. Crap. It looked like she was at death’s door. It looked like my trip was going to be delayed. After all, I couldn’t leave her with someone else (even though they were medical professionals and I am just a lowly photographer and could care for her much better than I could). So we spent those two weeks in and out of the ER, and the doctor’s offices (all of them). I was cruisin’ on fumes and it was non-stop drama 24/7. I had all but cancelled my trip (but not the ticket) until further notice, when after a particularly rough all-nighter at the ER, I awoke (must have drifted off somehow) to utter chaos. I went to check on her and she had just called all her doctors and told them off, including the hospital that we just left, and the pharmacy! Seriously? After all that we were ALL going through (those doctors and nurses are my heroes), she just undid everything and refused to follow doctor’s orders. Then she flashed me a big ear-to-ear grin, and in that moment I realized what was happening. Again. Well played, Mommy Dearest.
I’m not accusing anyone of “faking”, but these crisis ALWAYS happened whenever I was planning on doing something on my own. Call it dumb luck or what have you, but it was getting old, and I had to be there this time. The baby would wait for me only so long. Of course, I could never take a chance that it was not for real, so I always took all the precautions “just in case”. As soon as the event passed, everything was immediately fine. Every time! Now I’m no rocket scientist, but this smells a little fishy to me! I am glad she was magically well but I was way too tired to play this game, and was in no mood for feisty. Did I mention she told me when I was growing up “you have to be a good actress in life”…..those words came to mind and something inside of me just snapped! I was going to Alaska after all! (My plane would be leaving the next day, at this point.) I have never packed in such a hurry in my life! I had no idea how long I would be gone, but I couldn’t wait to leave!
He wasn’t born for two more weeks, but the moment I got the word they were in labor I headed to the hospital. The text messages from my son went from “we’re in labor, you probably have 20+ hours till you need to be here”, to 45 minutes later, “looks like it’ll be about 20 minutes”……which is when I jumped into the car to head to the hospital…..and 10 minutes later, “where are you? the baby is coming NOW, come NOW!” And as I walked down the hall to the labor room, I heard his first little cry! Omg….he waited for me after all. What a perfect little gentleman, just like his father! He was born at precisely the moment I got to the room!
Of course by now, back at the ranch, word had spread throughout the land what an evil ogre I was, leaving her in “her time of need”. Everything that went wrong from that point was somehow my fault, whether I knew anything about it or not. Apparently, I decided to stay, facing the monumental challenge of doing another “first year in Alaska” with no preparation, and all my stuff was still down there. I have somehow survived it all, with much love and support from my Alaska Family, and my BFFs, who somehow managed to believe in me in spite of it all.
Even more mysteriously, nearly 11 months later, my mother and I are now closer than we have ever been! In her defense, she truly is a wonderful woman, who has taught me much in life, especially in the last few years. I was sent to the finest schools, and raised to be a “lady”and a good Christian. How I ever ended up being a “nonconformist” photographer and designer (who rarely goes to church) living in Alaska and divorced 3 times plus 1 long term “shacking up” arrangement, from rather “shady” men, is beyond anyone’s comprehension. Including mine. I didn’t marry the doctor I was supposed to marry, or move into a big mansion (I wanted a castle)…..I now live alone in a one-bedroom apartment, with some rather noisy squirrels in the tree nearby…..I did somehow manage to create 3 beautiful, intelligent, and successful children! And that is the only thing that has gone according to “the plan”. You know, the one your parents have for you when you are born. But in the words of Kurt Cobain, “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are”. Now I am learning to focus on being “who I are”, or rather who I am.
I am now experiencing the the joys and hard work of developing a photography studio, and struggling to finish my education online, with a little coffee business I need to do something with, and working it all
around my physical needs. I am still looking for a studio, or rather the money to open a studio, so for now my studio is wherever my camera and I are. Oddly enough, my mom is my biggest cheerleader, and she believes in me! Hopefully I will be able to make it work, as that is what I love to do. And Alaska has the best backdrops anywhere. There is something about Alaska that gets into your blood, if you stay here long enough. I love this land, and I love these people. Seattle and the West Coast will always be part of me, but Alaska is my home. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz said it best, “There’s no place like home!”
~by Catherine Bliss