Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time once, not so long ago, when I was chubby, fat, or just pleasantly plump. In Italy I would have been a goddess. Men would have followed me down the cobble stoned streets, whistling and begging to touch my beautiful breasts and my bountiful behind. Unfortunately, I wasn’t living in Italy, I was here in the United States, where all I really wanted was to be slender. I thought if I was thin, all my problems would dissipate like the mysterious fog in San Francisco. I imagined the fog lifting while I watched, wearing a heavy knit red sweater and sitting peacefully on a huge rock.

A couple of months ago I was very sick, (on top of my chronic illnesses” Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, IBS) I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t leave my house or the bathroom for an entire four weeks. I was pale, gaunt and looked ill. People on the street would ask me guardedly “If I was okay?” Part of me, if I had a sense of humor back then wanted to say “Of course, I’m in the middle-aged super model competition” but I had no sense of humor at the time. The other part of me was scared to speak so I just said “I’m fine” which people accept with relief and don’t follow-up with questions.

All my life there was always something about me that I wanted to change and after I changed it, I thought I would be happy: my weight, my hair, my glasses, wearing make-up, dressing better, nice shoes, tinting my hair to cover the tiny amount of gray that swirled in front of my face. The gray hair that I had been so proud to have, to acknowledge my real place in the world, as someone who had already experienced a great deal of life and had earned them with pride.

Having been married for 24 years with two young adults doing well in college was proof enough and even though I did go through a time feeling sorry for myself that the kids ” didn’t need me anymore” I realized my husband and I had done a very good job of parenting. I admit, I needed to remind myself that loving and needing were two very different things, they would love me as their mom but their lives and our lives would be constantly changing. Yes, sometimes it changes so quickly it was hard to keep up, that’s when I found myself alone, crying into an old, soft, handkerchief and feeling sorry for myself. I learned to accept that too. You have no choice.

Six weeks ago I went from eating and being lively to not eating and not feeling well, I lost over 30 pounds and before you coo and ooh and ahhh and wish it was you I can tell you, you better take that back. I did not enjoy clothes falling from my body, or food flowing through me, and not being able to go outside of my house for four weeks. The doctor scheduled me for every “cancer” test known to humanity and that was not fun. The doctor, not known for his bedside matter, actually told me WHAT he was testing for when we first met him in his office. Thanks, Doc, nice touch.

I will be getting the results later this week, I’m hoping that everything will be fine, I’m ( fairly) certain that they will be. The symptoms stopped a few days after my office visit and while I haven’t gained a lot of weight back, I do get hungry and I feel better. My newest ( little ) problem is this: I went to shop for new jeans and found that there are no jeans for women of my age. They have skinny jeans, under the waist jeans and jeans for teenagers with lithe bodies. Basically, the clothes that I have are four sizes too big for me and the style out there now are for teenagers only. I have nothing to wear, I miss my “Mom jeans.” It is impossible to find them, anywhere. Suggestions?

All that I have accomplished in this quest are the lack of clothes to wear and the acquisition of numerous wrinkles. I sat outside in the sun for a few moments, noticing all the wrinkles on my knees and thighs that were not there before. As I sat, warming my face, was I thinking about the good things in my life in a delighted way? No. I was thinking about the barium test (drinking chalk) that I have to drink tomorrow morning at eight am and where to aim my projectile vomiting. That, at least, is amusing me.

Be happy with what you have and who you are. As my dad used to say “Health is the most important thing.”  It’s the only thing, be grateful.

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Family Matters

daughter & dad

daughter & dad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When my neighbor, Lisa, a young woman with two children, told her father, on the phone, that she didn’t WANT him to pick her up for her CAT scan, I felt an unexpected lump in my throat. My father would have done the same thing. Oh G-d, how I miss that. After a few minutes Lisa  decided to let him pick her up and I was glad, “let him do this for you, it will make him happy” I said.  I quickly entered my house with tears stinging my eyes.

I expect the holiday season as a frame for us to mourn family members and friends who have died.  I was not prepared for this. This was unexpected and it hit me harder because I didn’t see it coming. Isn’t that always the case? I prepare myself for the holidays from November through January but it’s always what you don’t expect to happen that throws you off-balance and hurts the most.

When my father was alive and healthy, years ago, nothing would have stopped him from helping his two daughters, at any time, day or night.  Lisa’s situation brought those old memories back, piercing my heart, draining it. I remembered the time I was terrified of the sounds of the mice running in my walls and a couple that ran over my toes in my studio apartment and he picked me up to “take me home.” Or the one time in college when I had no idea about money and bounced a check (I did what?) and he resolved it and explained it to me. My dad made everything better; he was always on my side. I pray I said “Thank you” I pray I said, “I love you Dad.” I hope I did.

My father died on New Year’s Eve, ten year’s ago, my whole family is aware of that date.  I was not at all prepared for the random comment with my neighbor and it struck me so deeply. How lucky she was to be so young, to have young kids and young parents. I was looking back in time; this was me twenty years ago, this was me before we moved to New York, with two healthy parents and two young children.

You have no idea how fast time flies by. I didn’t know either. It flashes by so unexpectedly, the toddler whose hand you were holding to cross the street is in his second year of college; the baby girl you longed for after him is in her first year of college, far away. Two children, two completely different personalities; the mystery of motherhood finally solved for me.

“What did you do to make my sister and me so different?” I would ask my mother over and over again. It didn’t make sense. The same parents, the same setting, the same upbringing, what happened? We were so different, I needed to know. My mother would laugh and say “Nothing” and I didn’t believe her; I felt like she was holding out on a secret. That was, until I had two children, 21 months apart, completely different from one another and I knew, my mom had been right all along. We did nothing differently, they came out of the womb their own person. What they did have in common were that both were separate, perfect, miracles and yes, (hear that kids?) we love them exactly the same.