Never Give Up – Fraidy Frida Transforms into Fearless Frida
*note – these letters are published on my blog in rough draft format. Please be kind when reading them. I’d rather start somewhere, correcting mistakes later, than not starting, fearing my blog posts won’t be perfect.
Dear Henry –
Ever since I can recall I have been determined and a survivor. I was born in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, weighing only four pounds. I spent the first month of my life in an incubator. I didn’t have the warm, nurturing touch from my mother. I felt the touch of machinery to keep me alive. I was all alone, fighting for my life, inside of a glass container. My mother had lost a son, one year and two days prior to my birth due to a premature death. His name was Andrew and only lived for two days. My mother, who barely spoke English, was still grieving for her lost son.
I’ve always been the type of person that if I wanted something, I found a way to get it. Near the age of two, I wanted to get the fuck out of my crib. I was inventive even when I couldn’t really understand the concept. I would twist the bars on my crib until they fell out – one by one. I was an escape artist at a very early age. This continued to frustrate my parents, until one day my legs became trapped in those wooden bars, breaking both of the bones in my legs completely through. I spent one month in the hospital – in traction. This was my first experience with bondage and restraint and I fucking hated it. I didn’t want to remain in one place for such a long period in time. I also didn’t like hospitals and still don’t. I can recall how frustrated I felt by my situation, very easily, as if this tragedy occurred yesterday.
When I was finally discharged from my long stay at the hospital, the doctors put my legs in a cast, in crawling position. There was a spreader bar between my legs made from the cast materials. This was awkward – but workable. It was better than being in traction. If I wanted to get somewhere in my small home in Crystal, Minnesota, I would drag my body, from room to room, leaving a trail of chalk marks created from the cast on the carpet. I was unstoppable.
When I was the age of four, I almost drown in my parent’s good friend’s pool in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Like I have told you in a previous letter, I have Forrest Gumped my way through life – which can be a good and a bad thing. I recall that the pool was filled with parents and neighborhood kids. Everyone was having fun, splashing, swimming, and tossing a large, beach ball to each other. I naively followed my father towards the deep end of the pool, without any fear. I didn’t know how to swim, but that didn’t stop me. Suddenly, I was submerged beneath water. I can still vision all of the activity below the surface as I struggled to get to the top for air. Before I completely sunk to the bottom of the pool, I felt my older brother, who was the age of seven, attempt to help me. That’s when my fight for survival began. I didn’t care if he was my older brother – I wanted to live. I recall the horrific struggle beneath the surface of chlorinated water, as I pushed my brother’s body downward, fighting to the top for air. Before we both passed out from the lack of oxygen, my father rescued us. My parents never put too much attention on that horrifying afternoon. Because of this, I learned to swim in the pool that almost took my life.
Most often, I am grateful that I can live my life in a Forrest Gump kind of way. I have always had a large appetite and passion to experience life. I participated in numerous, extracurricular activities in junior high school at Hosterman Junior High in New Hope, Minnesota. I was on the gymnastics team, participated in the drama and Spanish club, synchronized swimming, choir, and the basketball team. I played the center on the B team. I wanted to be around my friends. I wasn’t super fond of basketball, but it was stimulation. Half way through the season, Mr. Wall, our coach said to my good friend, Amy and I, “Girls, you aren’t very good…in fact, you are terrible. I suggest that you leave the team.”
At first I felt offended by his brutally, honest words, before my rebellious side took over. “He didn’t say that we had to quit,” I said to my friend, “Mr. Wall just said that he suggested that we leave the team.”
Amy and I finished out the season. We never gave up, holding our heads up high.
Fraidy Frida transforms into Fearless Frida –
I want to tell you about an itty – bitty, adorable Chihuahua who greatly inspires me every day. I named her after Frida Kahlo – Frida Kahlo Malone. Her brother from the same litter, Diego Rivera Malone (Diggy) is super huge. They are both approximately nine months old. They are freaks and I love them so much! I deal with physical pain on a continuous basis. My neck and spine are a mess and have been ever since I was young. My mother suffered through the nightmare of starvation when she was a young girl, escaping from North Korea to the South. She witnessed a man killing another man for the last bit of tree bark on a tree, because it was edible and they were starving. My older brother, my younger sister and I, all have issues with our spines. My mother does as well. I’m assuming it’s caused by the malnutrition my mother experienced growing up. My siblings have endured surgery. It didn’t help. I refuse to go through any more surgeries, so I deal with the intense pain. My little Chihuahua inspires to live each day to the fullest, much like Frida Kahlo.
Because little Frida is so tiny – much smaller than the average, tea cup Chihuahua, her world appears large. She has been frightened to explore beyond two, small spaces. For the first eight and a half months of her life she lived in a restricted, fear based world. She only felt comfortable remaining in my husband’s lazy boy chair, and the small area which she eats at and pees on a puppy pad. Over the past two weeks, I have been pushing little, Fraidy Frida to move beyond her fears. I began taking her outside with the larger dogs, pushing her to move beyond what frightened her, every day. I almost gave up on her, assuming that she would need to be carried in a cute bag or puppy pouch for the rest of her life.
I’m glad that I’ve been persistent because Fraidy Frida proved me wrong. For the first few days outdoors, Frida quivered in fear like a vulnerable leaf in the wind, standing upon my paint stained, tennis shoes. Near the end of one week, she was walking in tiny circles around my feet. I continued to praise her each time she moved beyond what frightens her, encouraging with soft, soothing words. “You can do it. I know you can. You are so brave.”
Near the end of two weeks of continuous encouragement, Fraidy Frida has become Fearless Frida. Today, she presently hops fast and joyously, like a bunny through our tall, overgrown grass, with what appears to be a large grin on her face and her tongue hanging side ways out of her mouth. We are generally the last ones to mow our lawn in our suburban neighborhood, due to Mr. C’s busy work schedule. I’m sure that this pisses our neighbors off – the ones who use their yard to impress others. The more it angers the neighbors the more my husband and I leave our yard be as a way to say, “Fuck you, I’m glad my yard pisses you off. I hope it hurts your eyes and makes them bleed.”
On Mother’s Day, Frida and Diego had the opportunity to explore outside of our home and large yard. We took them and their Mama Chi Chi to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. It’s one of my favorite, Minnesota destinations. What a marvelous day! My stepdaughter gifted me a great card, a picnic lunch from Lund’s in Uptown – Fried Chicken, mash potatoes, gravy, sliced mango, sliced watermelon, delicious, cole slaw and soft, sweet, Hawaiian buns. I hadn’t had a hot meal like this is several months. I practically cried as I gobbled it down, sharing tiny pieces of chicken to the Chihuahuas.
My stepdaughter also purchased me a very cute, pink, puppy pouch to carry Frida in. I had asked for it when I thought Frida would never move beyond her fears. I wanted to show Frida the world. I thought it was a shame that she had already lived eight and a half months constricted by fear. The day before Mother’s Day, Frida fell off my shoulder, where she loves to be, to observe life, as I was taking the big dogs out. She had the wind knocked out of her, remaining listless on the floor for quite some time with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. I bawled like a baby, willing Frida to survive her fall. I was so relieved that she was okay. The fall didn’t stop her from wanting to climb back on my shoulder – brave girl!
I love keeping Frida safe in the new, puppy pouch. I’m sure that she feels much more secure. She and her mother Chi Chi love being carried around in the puppy pouch, which they tested out at Lake Calhoun. I wish Diego would fit in a small bag because he is really heavy to carry. He’s the size of a Jack Russell dog. He was very frightened by all of the stimulation on the walking path. I had to carry my big boy, so that he could enjoy the view of the lake without fear. He preferred to remain in the grass near my husband and stepdaughter by the shore to watch all of the flocks of ducks swim.
Frida explored the beach, experiencing sand beneath her paws for the very first time. She appeared to enjoy the experience – more so than Diego, who definitely didn’t like the feel of warm sand beneath his paws. I have never heard Frida bark before. I’ve only heard her whine loudly when she wants Haagan Daz Ice Cream, which my husband shares with her after a long day at work. When a large dog approached our picnic area, it was Frida who barked and growled protecting her family. Diego was scared.
When we returned home, Mr. C went next door to visit his friends who recently lost their mother, to console them on their loss, as they worked hard on Mother’s Day to clean up their mother’s home. He let Frida roam the yard as he conversed with them. Frida hopped like a quick bunny through the tall blades of grass. At times, she was more than a football field away from him. I think that Frida feels more secure to roam when Mr. C is outside – she is his spoiled baby. He was in awe at how far Frida has come in such a short amount of time. It’s frightening to permit any of our dogs to roam freely in our backyard, due to the family of foxes, deer, and other wildlife, we share a small woods with. We fear they may run after them if they see them. We’ve always had them on leashes, grateful we haven’t encountered any wildlife as of yet. I don’t let my dogs free of leashes at dawn and the early evening, when the chances of that might occur.
I still mourn the loss of my dog, Rudy Patootie. Observing Fraidy Frida transform into Fearless Frida in such a short amount of time is amazing. Mama Mia beams with pride. She’s inspiration to me. I’m glad that it distracts me from mourning the death of Rudy Patootie.
I must end this letter and get some painting done. Before I say goodbye – I want to show you photos of the really great Mother’s Day Card I received from my stepdaughter on Mother’s Day….it’s an unconventional card for an unconventional mother with Tourettes. The first photo is the outside of the envelope. The second image is the outside of the card. The third image is the inside of the card. I love my Stepdaughter! She knows what I like!
Bisous, Mon amour, Mia