Senses Fail.....it all started with a band tshirt. Go figure.
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
I started writing this honestly because I told myself "Colleen, you're gonna write a book!" and then I started writing and was quickly reminded that I suck at the English language and I'm no where near patient enough to sit and write a whole ass book, also, who wants to read about my life? It's a nightmare but, I suppose there's a market for that! Lastly, this whole blog post started with a band t-shirt and somehow spiraled into family legacy's and me being morbid....per the norm. and Lets get this show on the road already eh?
“You’re a Gellert, you’re tough!” the words sang from his lips like the fall breeze in Maryland, blowing through the trees. Simple words that when put together signify something powerful every time he would boldly proclaim it, words that fixed whatever issues that were in front of me at the time. I didn’t realize then just how much of an impact those words would make in my life until I had to repeat them in my head myself after my Father left this physical world but, I’m damn sure glad that he preached those words to me my entire childhood. They have fixed scraped knees and bumps and bruises, heartbreak, disappointment, bullies in high school, situations where I did not know HOW I was going to make it out, those words saved me, centered me even, brought me back to whole even if it was for a short time. It rings in my head still in his voice, I hope that never changes, they say that after a while people forget the voices of the loved ones who have passed before them and that’s so incredibly sad to me. I live for those random voices from someone I love that is no longer here with me side by side when I’m struggling. I still hear my very best friends Dad’s voice, clear as day her name in his wild and raspy tone with the emphasis on the last three letters, “sTAR!”. She told me once not too long ago that she doesn’t remember his voice, she’s one of the ones I thought could never exist and my heart breaks over and over every time I think about her saying that. I can still hear my Poppy’s euphemisms on repeat like I’m being transported right back to that six-year-old girl who he would catch jumping off the back porch steps of the only home I have ever known. I can still smell his natural scent likes it’s embedded in my nose for life, same with the smell of leather and cigarettes because of my Father, they may not be comforting smells to anyone else but they are, individually, pieces of everything that have made me who I am today. Memory stands in my way as I get older and struggle with mental health issues and Fibromyalgia, I often wonder if I’ll someday forget the feeling of holding my Dad’s dry and cracked Well Driller hands, they reminded me of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, masculine and strong. Those hands had seen some things, done some things even, but it’s amazing that things that have done damage to others have become comforting when all you have are memories that allow you to make due in life. Since I do suffer from memory issues, I’m SO grateful that I was able to save the voicemail from my Grandmother before she passed, I will always have her voice with me at any time, I have the “I love you, Babe” handwritten from my Dad reprinted on everything. Something about seeing someone’s handwritten message especially for you that makes it extra special for me, my Father had the most beautiful penmanship, almost always wrote in cursive and I loved watching him sit there and do simple things like balance his checkbook or writing letters to my brother and think to myself “I will never have handwriting that pretty!” and now we have the same “G” in cursive and every time I see that, I think of him and smile. We really tend to take for granted such small and mundane tasks or details throughout the days, weeks, months and years that fly by us….the magic that our senses pick up on that we don’t pay attention to, the way our parents were right when they said “it feels like only yesterday you were sitting there in pigtails” even when the days drag on and you feel like you’ll never get to where you feel like you’re already supposed to be. One day you’ll look back and every goal you’ve worked toward will be met, every one you love will be in a different place in life, you’ll run into an old friend you haven’t seen in a little while only to realize it’s been over five years and you’ve both accomplished, lost or changed so much. I’ve always been the one to literally stop and smell the roses, see the beauty in everything, it feels like every single day I’m telling whoever I’m with at the time “GOSH it’s such a beautiful day!” or “That sunset is STUNNING!” to the point where the people closest to me laugh or even find it annoying but, sometimes it’s the memory of those sunsets that save us. Our senses are powerful and when one of them is not the best, it’s amazing how the human body just overcompensates for that lost or failing sense. What if our senses weren’t created for such minimal things that annoy us like loud cars or the taste or feel of something we don’t enjoy, what if our senses were created to spark the memories of the past? What if in that moment where you hear or see or touch or taste something it's the person that reminds you of that thinking of you? What if our souls know that we will eventually need that moment again on one of the heavy days? I feel like human beings can be so backwards about missing the people who have passed on that we love, they haven’t left us at all. They are with us probably more now in spirit than they could have ever been here physically, they are alive and well in everything we do and those memories, I genuinely believe, are to empower us. To take us back to a place where we felt safe and comfortable in moments where we need that feeling the most. I’m making it a personal mission of mine moving forward to take in more. Take in more, REALLY listen to people…..like REALLY listen to understand not to give advice or opinions. See more sights that set my whole ass soul on fire, but not just the “grand” sights but, the beauty in the everyday because it’s very much there! Appreciate the little hands I get to hold and the feeling of each of them as they get older and no longer want to hold my hand anymore, embrace my time with them more and not just rush through the day as I’ve done for God knows how long now. Continue to stop and smell the roses, and everything in between. Try new things and experiment with flavors and bring the kids in to that as well, Lord knows they only eat the same three things after all. Our past is what molds us but one day WE will BE the past for our future generations and the details of our lives that seem so insignificant will save the ones we love in their difficult waves of life too.
Family pictures just because.....
My Poppy - John "Jack" Joshua Donahue
He was the laughter of my childhood. Marine in WWII and the most intelligent man I have ever met in my entire life. He knew every answer to Jeopardy and constantly did crossword puzzles. He would catch me off the back steps every time and watch Mr. Rogers Neighborhood with me when I was little when I know now that he would have MUCH rather been doing something else. I know this, because I live this now! lol
My BEAUTIFUL Grandma - Margaret Josephine Bell Donahue
My mothers parents raised me with my Dad and to this day, at 35 years old, where ever she was, was the only home I've ever felt. When they same home isn't a place it's a person, they weren't lying. I was a Daddy's girl above all else but, I will never deny that my Grandma was my home. She dealt with SO much in her lifetime, born towards the end of the Great Depression, lost her first born son in the Vietnam war, wasn't treated the best by my Poppy all the time, homemaker, worked, never drove until very late in life (we were all super proud of her!) and raised not only her own six kids but, went on to be the mother figure to my sister and I and my cousins when they needed a place to go. Selfless to the core.
My Pop Pop - Raymond Gellert Sr.
He died when I was very young, I only remember his accent in the hallway of my Aunt Pat's old house (the one in the picture actually!) but, he was an immigrant from Germany and was probably the sole reason why my Dad worked as hard as he did, my Dad had to drop out of elementary school in 4th grade to go to work to help support the family. I hate that they struggled but, I'm so grateful for the hard work ethic instilled in me by my Dad and had he not had that life, maybe I wouldn't be as successful with my own career.
The man, the myth, the legend....My Dad - Raymond Gellert Jr.
I cannot express in words the connection my Father and I have/had but, he was my absolute best friend and biggest fan. He had my back so fiercely that no one has ever compared and never will. I'm thankful to be my Fathers daughter though, there's a little Ray of light in me and all my babies. His life lessons will live on through me and the future generations that will come.
If you have people you truly miss with every fiber of your being, I want to hear all about them too! Send me all the love and family traditions and stories...….I'm here for it!