In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would show you what my son, 20, whipped up at the last minute. He called it Corn Bread Pudding. The photo below is the closest I could come to it but his did not have jalapenos in it, instead he had diced red peppers. It was the first time my kids and my nephew contributed to the meal and it was very, very special. Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was sweet.
I saw old Mr.Tom in the produce section of the gigantic, glitzy grocery store; all bright lights and big orange”sale” signs. I hadn’t realized I had gasped inwardly so sharply that I felt a stabbing pain in my chest. This is not the man I remembered at all: the jovial, beer-bellied friend of my mother’s, the man with a hearty laugh and a baseball cap was now just a whisper of his former self. His pants hung low on him, his eyes vacant yet deeply troubled, his complexion was pasty. He was running on auto-pilot and even though I tried to say “hello” and ask about his wife, who I knew was sick, his whole tone of voice had changed completely. “She’s terrible” he spoke sharply and I feared he would yell at me as he had once but he didn’t seem to have the energy or the inclination. He just pushed his grocery cart away and told me that he was “behind schedule and that he could not stay and talk”and then he slipped away through the aisles, like a ghost.
I knew there was nothing I could do, I knew that there would be worse, much worse things that would happen before, IF they got better at all. I had been more friendly with Mr. Tom’s wife, a good friend of my mother’s. Mrs. Rae had been ill for years, very slowly weakening, but now she could no longer walk, or eat, or move by herself. She refused help of any kind except for her husband’s help and he was killing himself to accommodate her.
My mother always said they had “the perfect marriage.” I always answered that “no marriage is perfect.” As Mrs. Rae is left dying, taking care of her is killing him too. Is that a perfect marriage? The term “hospice” is never uttered in their house. He is killing himself to care for her and I pray he doesn’t kill himself first. It is a definite possibility. She has every right to die at home if she wishes, but she refuses for anyone to help him too. That is not the perfect marriage, I would not want my husband to die for me while taking care of me.
I don’t know how much Mrs. Rae is suffering from dementia and how much is control. I’m sure it is some of both. He has taken care of her for a very long time, years. Their children stay away. “Why?” my mother fumes and judges? I ask her not to pass judgment but she doesn’t listen to me. I tell her again and again that there are always “two sides to a story” but when her mind is made up, she will not consider any other thoughts. She never has.
I see Mr. Tom as I peek through the aisles. He doesn’t look at anybody just carefully and slowly lifts one item off the shelf with two hands and places it gingerly in the cart. He doesn’t see me, he doesn’t see anybody. What he is going home to is his loving, dying wife, whom he watches, day and night. She sleeps with her eyes half closed and her mouth open. He has to go over to her sometimes, bending his head over her chest to see if she is breathing. She wants to die and he wants her to die to get them both out of this long, horrifying painful process. It’s a real life horror movie. If only he could get someone to help him it would be better but she will not allow it.
Nobody will listen to them, especially the doctors. So, he sits next to her, night and day, cooking and cleaning and smiling for her, pretending that everything is alright. He will do that until she takes her last breath, this beautiful, dying sparrow, and he will be there to watch it leave her frail, weak, body.
Come fly with me and let me clutch your hand so that even if I feel the tiniest bit afraid in the beginning, I know you are here for support. We will travel over mountain tops and swoop over canyons as if we were birds soaring easily for food and flight. We have no responsibilities, except to have fun and for adventure to find us and for us to drink it in like wine, the shade of crimson roses. This is the adventure we have waited for, for so many years and we deserve this window of light looking straight out on to the world. Wherever we go, we have each other, our own constant, for as long as it lasts. The images out of this small window are delightful. Now, we are flying above puffy, springy white clouds, I almost want to leap out through the window to jump on them, with you, my love, still holding on, to my hand.
I just glanced away
No one but you and I knew
Silence, pause, is key
Purple, angry scar
Spoke volumes but said nothing
In the dark, leaves dance
Ghosts laugh in the hidden world
Branches twist, crack, twirl
Real People Inc (RPI)
My clothing line would be called Real People Inc. (or RPI). It would cater to all of us so that all men and women from teeny- tiny to large and extra-extra large would be accommodated in the same store. Why should people have to go to different stores to buy clothes? I think it is unnecessary and I also think it categorizes people into groups. There’s no need for that. We need to encourage tolerance for everyone. This is for men and women, young and old, boys and girls.
My style is comfy, with a touch of bright color, usually in an accessory (my 17-year-old daughter taught me that.) Take all the Big and Fat, Husky and Hot, Size 00, 0,1 and 2 stores and blend them together. It’s one way of not dividing people but including and appreciating everyone. We all need to embrace TOLERANCE. This would be a start. If I had the money, I would design that line and build that store. If either Oprah or The Donald needs a new investment, please have your people call my people. ( I don’t really have people but I can pretend!)
Not Into Shoes, Clothes, Jewelery, Make-Up……
Oh, everyone knows what I am going to say…..GREAT FOOD. It’s only for a celebration, no one (that I know) can enjoy this every day but a couple of times a year? Absolutely!!! I don’t care about shoes, clothes (much to my 16-year-old daughter’s dismay) jewelry or “things.” My only luxury is buying a book but recently I have just been taking things out of the library. My top dollar is probably very different from rich people but it doesn’t matter. Whatever you can afford, a great meal is worth it, but for me, only if you share it with someone you love.
p.s. Dessert options MUST be heavenly.
I’m watching tiny flecks of snow come down constantly, through the trees and on the trees like vanilla frosted brownies. It is peaceful with my husband and children home. They have a snow day and they are as excited now as they were when they were eight and ten. I don’t think you ever get over the excitement of a snow day, no matter how old you are or what you do.
My daughter and I ate egg and cheese sandwiches that my husband made. Our son sat in the family room in his blue fleece beer mug pajama pants, his phone in one hand, the other playing X-box. I wanted to say “come here, watch the snow fall from the sky” but I know better. At their ages, 16 and 18, they have their own personal snow scenes that don’t include me. It took some getting used to when they were in their early teens but now we have settled into a routine. I know that this routine will only last a little while and then it will change and be replaced by another. I’m not great with change but I know I need 24-48 hours to get used to new things and then I am fine or as fine as I can possibly be.
I am wearing my dad’s old West Point sweatshirt and blue snow flake pajama pants, lying in our bed, alternately reading, writing and glancing up to the sky to see the delicate flakes fall. The sky is so full of snow that it looks pink. I always say I hate the winter and I do but for the first time I wonder if I did live in a warm climate all year round, would I miss it? Would I appreciate Spring as much as I do if I didn’t have to go through Winter?
My daughter just brought me a cup of tea and served it to me in my room. How lovely that she asked me if I wanted a cup. Children are joyful beings and as an old teacher once said “they will constantly surprise you” and they do. My children will be grown-ups soon, they will age, as we all do. My children have grown up here in our little house with their bikes and skateboards, “Razors” and their lemonade stands.
The best thing I have ever done in my life is to get married to my loving husband and have two of the most amazing children you could hope for. I never had much ambition in life other than being a mom and writing, but being a mom is who I am; it’s what I was meant to do; it’s my Nobel Peace prize, my heart and my soul, my life’s work.
When our work in life is completely over bury me near a tree that blooms pink flowers with my husband and soul-mate, my love and best friend beside me. If all it said on my headstone was “Loving Wife” and “Beloved Mother” I would be gently smiling, and at peace.