12 Years Ago, Tonight

12  years ago, tonight at 10:20 pm my father passed away in a hospital in Connecticut. I was never a big fan of New Year’s Eve to begin with but since this happened, I roll into a little ball

English: Sculpture of a woman in fetal positio...

in my bed and cry on and off.

My dad used to buy me a candle every single year on my birthday, without fail, I’m sure my mom reminded him but it was a tradition. My mom, sister and I still have one or two of his well-worn, soft handkerchiefs that are like prized possessions. Our dad had a shelf where he had 13 types of small different after shave cologne which he would point out to us, often!

What’s worse, for my mom, is that January 1st is/was my parents’ wedding anniversary. We try to give each other support but in essence it’s really our own pain we need to get past. I’m the “crier” in the family or as my husband and son call me “the shrieker.” Good or bad and especially when surprised by something: a bug, a person, a loud noise, I have a natural instinct to be scared easily. My daughter is the same way. Sometimes we shriek at

the surprise of seeing each other.

She’s away on a trip and as much as I am happy she is having a fabulous time, part of me wishes she was home. But, as much as I am a mushy mess, my daughter keeps all her emotions inside, deep, down inside. My expectations of wanting her here are really quite different from what her being here would be like. She does not enjoy my massive display of emotions.

My son is definitely more like me, we understand each other. We can read each others feelings on the phone or the breath before we say “hello” on the telephone. I was like that with my dad. My sister and my mother are completely alike, full of false bravado and unaware of their feelings. Being without my dad for so many years has been a struggle.

The balance has been lost, the person who understood me most, is gone. I’m with two family members that don’t really get me at all, they just say I’m “too sensitive,” never realizing that sensitivity is a good thing and that they might be insensitive. What I’ve learned all these years is that people don’t change.

I will get through tonight, thankfully, NOT going out, eating my American cheese sandwich and drinking chocolate milk, my comfort food. Maybe I’ll have some baked Lays for the crunch factor. For dessert, I pre-ordered two of our favorite home-made jelly doughnuts

from a nearby bakery. My husband and I will toast each other with those doughnuts, in memory of my father. Growing up it was a tradition that we all had jelly doughnuts on New Year’s Eve together. I just found out my husband bought four jelly doughnuts and two black and white cookies, he’s definitely like my dad too.

As sad as I am to have lost him, I am trying (not very successfully) to focus on that deep relationship we had and how much he really did love me. I was his baby girl, he loved me plenty of that I am sure. It just doesn’t help to take away the pain. Nothing does.

 

 

*My dad took me to see Two By Two with Danny Kaye, for years after, with spoons and different glasses of water of varying heights, he would conduct and we would both clink all our glasses after the words “Two By Two.” The last time I tried to do that with him, he was very sick and didn’t want to do that. He had lost his joy and I knew that his end was near.

 

 

 

 

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Could it be Magic? (Carry on Tuesday)

Happiness

Happiness (Photo credit: baejaar)

An Easier Life

Nobody ever said life was going to be easy. In our young innocence we just assume it is because we know no different; our families have protected us from life’s troubles. That, my dear, can only last a short time, you do know that right?

It’s been a rough couple of months, actually it’s been rough for a long time now. As we grow older we look back on our lives, I do not envy the youth of today. No, I really don’t. Growing older does not have many perks. We all handle it differently. There are cheery and optimistic people with me in the nursing home and some say clichés like “You’re as young as you feel.” Frankly I think that’s a crock…”

There are people like me who are over sensitive to other people’s suffering and pain. I feel other people’s pain, it becomes a part of me, I’ve been that way since I’ve been a child, I can’t undo who I am or try not to care. It doesn’t work. I sincerely wish it would. It would cause me so much less pain. I don’t blame anyone but myself but I always thought caring about others was a good thing, no? Well, not for me, you see.

I’ve accepted, after many years, that people are very different, though growing up I thought everyone felt the way I did so when caring wasn’t reciprocated, I was often hurt. As a child how would you know that all people act differently?  Who else could I learn from if not from myself? Life changed that, many years later in my life, not quickly enough but eventually I learned and adjusted, but it never felt natural to me.You deal with whatever happens to you and sometimes you still deflate like a withering balloon starting from a room’s happy ceiling and twirling slower and slower until all the life that has been kept it in the balloon deflates and now it’s just a tiny lump of pink  lying embarrassingly at your feet, defeated and dead.

Many things have happened in the world lately, things that I thought I would never see in my older years. Things I didn’t want to see: the horror of September 11th, the killing of children and adults in Newtowne, Connecticut and this week, the joyful runners of the Boston Marathon and onlookers killed senselessly. I spent almost half of my life in Boston, the good years, the young, innocent years when Hank and I got married. There was a joy known only to newlyweds, many more days clothed in bright yellow happiness than the darkness of fear. There was nothing to worry about back then; could it have been just magic? Maybe, it was the utter happiness, cloud of love and youth, having no responsibilities and living in a simpler, easier time.

There were no bomb threats or terrorist attacks back then, now our children and grandchildren live in constant fear and uncertainty. I’m glad Hank isn’t alive to see all of this.  The Boston Marathon this past week put people back, straight back to 9/11, this terror spares no one, no place, no time. How hard, how scary it to live actively in today’s world. I fear for my children and my grandchildren. I have lived a long, life, and for that alone, I am happy to be old. If I died tonight there would be no regrets.  Sitting in my room, rocking in my chair, smiling at the pretty white flowers, visits from my children and grandchildren, sleeping and a good meal is all I ask for and all that I want. I don’t envy the youth of today, in fact, I feel quite sad for them.

Carry on Tuesday, All you need is love

Sad boy

Sad boy (Photo credit: jodiwilldare)

Dear Mama,

It was hard leaving you and Papa when Roger started his new job in Connecticut. You were so kind to have us live with you but it wasn’t fair to you. Believe me, we miss you too and living back in Georgia.

My first impression was not a real good one. People are very different here. They are so loud and everyone is in a rush and in the beginning driving here scared me, those fast cars, horns always honking. Mama, don’t tell Daddy but I used to hide in the bathroom, every night, turn on the shower and cry my aching heart out. No one even welcomed us here, there is no Welcome Wagon like home, no cakes or pies or dinners brought over. People seem cold and unfriendly but I ‘ll get used to it, it’s just their way, I suppose.

We do love our own sweet neighborhood which is wonderful. The summer was great. Kids on their bikes, playing in the streets, moms looking out for each others kids. Once school started everything changed. I guess this town is split in two and I never knew that one side has a lot of money and the other side, like us, well, we don’t. Seems like a lot of kids in Jason and Jeremy’s classes lived in mansions. The houses some of these kids lived in we used to watch on that television show “Dallas.”  Mansions so big like you see on t.v .some with electric fences, some driveways so long you can’t see the houses, some with great big pools or baseball fields in the back. I swear.

Mama, have you ever heard of a live-in nanny? I sure hadn’t. I guess the rich people who live in the mansions have them. The parents get up early in the morning and take a train to work in the City and they stay late into the night. The nannies feed, bathe and put the kids to bed.  Some moms work, others don’t but they still have full-time nannies.  I’ve heard the moms and some dads too go to the gym, or play tennis and go to lunch with each other.  In our neighborhood, we just stay off to ourselves doing regular things: grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. We get our kids on to the orange school bus and we are there to help them off, they get a snack, do homework and then they can play. I had never heard it any other way before.

This pains me to tell you but one day Jason’s new friend came over for the first time. Jason had a new play date with a child from his class the other day, the child came home with him on the bus. Jason was looking forward to this all week-long. I heard them laughing and whispering and going up the stairs to Jason’s room. Then it got quiet. Apparently, the first thing that wretched child said to my son was: “this is worse than I ever imagined it could be.”  My precious boy ran over to me, his face crushed and repeated what the boy said. I told him calmly that it didn’t matter one bit what the boy said, it wasn’t important and was just plain silly, wasn’t it? I got them started on a fun project with rocket ships and special brownies for a snack and they forgot about the room. Lord, as I am standing here, I wanted to cry but of course I couldn’t.

That night when Roger came home Jason told the rest of the family what happened with his”mean” friend.” Mama, It was hear-breaking to see. The boy had behaved poorly and he was rude. This boy’s family had lots of money and did live in a mansion, with a fancy pool but the mom and dad worked really hard all day and night. They had a nanny and a babysitter so the kids didn’t even see their parents very much. The older brother had already  been in trouble with the police. That family didn’t have a mom who stayed home and went to their Open Houses at school or their baseball games; their dad didn’t come home at six pm so that the family could have dinner together.We were all eating my vanilla cake with chocolate frosting AND vanilla ice cream. They couldn’t talk about their days or play games every night at dinner like we did.  We were the ones who were lucky. Money, cars, houses, pools are nice to have if you want them but they are not important.  “It’s not the size of the house that matters; but the amount of love inside that truly counts.” We are truly blessed.

Love, Hope

Life 101

PEACE!

PEACE! (Photo credit: Snapies ~ hiatus!)

Norman Rockwell Mosaic  "The Golden Rule&...

In my fantasy career, I’ve always wanted to teach a class, much like Jerry Seinfeld’s old show, a class about nothing yet everything. It would start with young children, kindergarten or nursery school age so they learn, at an early age, what is right and what is wrong. Maybe there would be a corresponding class for parents as well. It would be a class about life, a place where kids could ask any questions they had; it would be a safe place, teaching children about valuing differences, good vs bad behavior, being kind to one another, volunteering and diversity. That’s the agenda. If you start talking about love and different families early on maybe there wouldn’t be such horrible numbers of teen suicide and bullying. You also need to talk about all kind of different people, that each person is equal and should be treated with kindness and respect.

I expect naysayers and scoffing but the truth of the matter is, that life as we know it, is not going very well at all right now and hasn’t been for a long time.  We can’t say it won’t work if we don’t try it. Teach them that children and parents are all different so respect them equally and that families come in different varieties, they are families just like your own. Love is love. Our goal is that no one will know the word “bullying” anymore.

Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s we were pretty much sheltered from the “real world.” I remember having drills where we would hide under our desks because of the Cuban Missile Crisis but no one ever explained it to us. The world has changed, technology has changed, violent killing games are readily available for kids to play, violence on television, it’s everywhere.The world we live in now is a scary place: devastating losses, natural disasters, friends and loved ones dying of cancer and heart disease and many other things, people with psychiatric disorders that go untreated. We saw that on Friday with the mass murder of children and adults in Newtown, Connectict’s Elementary School.  I used to try to shove the thoughts away and put them on the back burner. We, as a nation, can no longer put these issues on the back burner. Things need to change NOW.

I wrote this article months ago but never published it. After Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Ct. of little children, babies really, and staff, I’m even more convinced that a program of this kind needs to be started as early in a child’s life as possible. There will always be children who have special needs or need psychiatric help, there is nothing wrong with that. However, these children need to be diagnosed and treated and cared for responsibly. I don’t respect the press when they declare the shooter had Asperger’s to explain the motivation.That is NOT okay and isn’t true at all. I think they are terribly WRONG and irresponsible. Do we need stricter gun laws? Yes. We also need, more and better mental health facilities that people can go to get the help they need. There is no shame, there shouldn’t be.

Parents, teachers and therapists need to be involved in the care of your child. Everyone should work together to give your child the best help available. I know it takes time and I know it takes money but this is not something we can “think about.” This should start right now. For the students: if you have problems, please involve your parents or the school counselors and get the help you need as soon as you can. If the therapist is a wrong match for you, find one that you like. It’s important. Talk about your problems; we will listen.We will be your support system. We will be there. We DON’T want to let you down but you need to communicate with us so we can help you. Please try and know that we will too.

Haiku Heights-Wish

IN MEMORY OF THE CHILDREN, FAMILIES AND STAFF OF NEWTOWN, CT.

candles

candles (Photo credit: rogerglenn)

Trembling hands, shooting

Children cowering, crying

I pray for time, peace.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************

Life, untangling

taut, rope fraying, neon bright

Seen by only one.

*****

I bounce in freedom

Gold coins fall into my hands

Independent me.

*****

Young lovers twisted

shiny, sparkling, delighted

Old age settles in.

Growing Old Together

Growing Old Together (Photo credit: ∞ SaraiRachel ∞)

*****

Sparkling green eyes flirt

my head tossed back with laughter

Looking back in time.

Having Danced Under Moon-Lit Skies

English: Full moon as seen from Mannheim.

Image via Wikipedia

Kate pictured her husband in his hospital room, he had emailed her a photo of his face with all the tubes attached, the IV in his arm, his pale face grim and anxiety ridden. He honestly thought she would like to see a picture of him the night before his procedure all wired up before he went to sleep. Little did he know how much she hated that picture that was now forever burned in her brain.

He had died after the surgery, the hospital called her at four a.m. to tell her the news.  People should know that there is no such thing as good news at four a.m. Ever. Her parents were over so they stayed with the children while she raced to the hospital in her faded pink bathrobe and running shoes, sobbing hysterically. “She needed to identify the body,” the hospital said.

It had only been three months since he died. She buried her head into her freezing hands and wept, she was alone in their old house tonight. Her sobs wracked her body until she curled up on the old, soft, green couch and lay in the fetal position. She never thought she would be alone so early in her life; she was now a widow at the age of 46. Her children, Alec, 10 and Zoe, 8 were fatherless. ‘How could she handle this’ she thought? ‘How would they get by?’ She honestly had no idea; she knew she had to ‘make an effort for the children,’ that’s what everyone said but she didn’t know how to do that.’

Their cat, Sam, jumped up to the couch and lay beside her. David had been the one in the family who had wanted a cat, maybe the cat was mourning too; he almost never came to Kate. With another night of sleep eluding her Kate tried imaging the years that she and David had dated, how they danced under moonlit stars in their fancy outfits from company parties. She remembered her auburn hair done up in a chignon, and wearing fabulous silver high heels, David, in a tuxedo looking dapper. They traveled all over the world together before they had kids, Istanbul, Rome, Ireland, Amsterdam. They would walk together in a foreign city at all hours of the morning, dancing in deserted streets, streaks of brilliant color from ever-changing skies, holding hands. They would laugh loudly after drinking flutes of champagne. Their lives revolved around each other, having fun, eating at elegant restaurants and living in a romantic dream world.

They married in a small, elegant wedding a year after they returned home and two years later, they celebrated birth of their son Alec. Two years after that they welcomed with love, their daughter Zoe into their family. They moved from an apartment in Manhattan to a small house in Connecticut on a tree-lined street with gardens and small patios. They went from the “ideal couple” to the “perfect family” that’s what people said.

‘What about now?’ Kate cried into the dark night. She didn’t know what to do. She grabbed a bottle of whiskey hidden under the sink and poured herself a generous glass. She tried to drink it all down at once but it made her cough and sputter so she stopped and tried again a few moments later. Everyone expected her to be perfect, to be strong and able and to magically utter those famous words “life goes on.” She couldn’t do it. She tried to tell people but they insisted ‘she could.’  She did not want to be in this world alone without David anymore. That she knew without a single doubt. Yes, she loved her children dearly but she could not function without her husband, the other half of herself.

Kate knew it was just a bad night, a really bad night. She decided to take a hot bath and a few sleeping pills and relax. While drawing her bath she sipped at her second drink and calmed down. She would make it through; she had no choice. No, it was not easy but leaving her children without a parent was unconscionable. In a sudden burst of energy she threw away all the alcohol she had in the house and all the pills. Betraying her children would be like betraying her husband David and she couldn’t do it. She was ashamed of herself that she even had thought about it.  After her bath she was very tired and slept for a long time. She dreamed about their past, dancing in the streets, walking up on the beaches to spectacular sunrises, making love in secret.

She awoke to terrible banging at the front door, her head throbbing with pain. With her hand covering her head, she lurched to the door to open it and was greeted by her two children, hugging and kissing her. ‘This is why she was alive’ she thought. ‘This was her purpose’. She would try hard not to look back but try to stay in the present for these two miraculous children, the result of their love and all they had been, together.

Worrying, Lamb Souvlaki And Pollyanna

Pollyanna (1960 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve had way too many changes in my life in a short period of time and I feel unsettled. Anxiety attacks have crept up on me like the sting of bees approaching quickly, out of nowhere.  I feel anxious, on and off, and I am not too proud to admit it. A lot of people have feelings of anxiety, that’s why there’s medication and breathing, writing and music, and today, cleaning and keeping busy. Usually there are friends to talk to but my dear friend is in England having a great vacation and others don’t really make the effort or are just too busy with their own lives. My worry and I are together, we’re holding hands.

My mom has been sick and I am worried about her; her anxiety is fueling mine. My mother who was always seemed so strong and energetic seems  more vulnerable now, she’s had a horrible year and she’s scared, we both are. I’m “meeting worry half -way” as my old friend, ex-nun, lesbian and former boss used to say. That’s not doing anyone any good. I am scared for my mom and for me,  I think she is too.  My sister is usually the Pollyanna type in the family so I just wrote her and asked how she felt, maybe she can comfort me. I know she is not a worrier, and even though she is extremely positive about these sorts of medical situations I’m not sure it will rub off on me though I hope it does.

I have a wonderful husband, two great kids, a lovable, sweet dog; I have a home to live in and food on the table. So, why am I so unhappy? Better yet, why am I feeling so anxious lately?  I know I am worried about my mom but things have also been changing quickly.  My son graduated High School and is at his second home in Connecticut being a Counselor at his old sleep away camp. I’m told he’s very happy, we haven’t heard from him. I wonder if it will be the same way when he starts college in September but I am not ready to go there mentally yet.

When did fun flee from my life, like people racing out of the water at the mere hint of a shark sighting? What is happening? Last night was different and I was thrilled.  My husband and I went to an old, small, family -owned Greek restaurant, I ate Avgolemono soup (Greek chicken, rice and lemon soup) and pita bread, he ate lamb souvlaki, big, fat, french fries and a salad. Afterwards, we saw the new Woody Allen movie and ran into friends. Throughout the movie I did not worry, I was entertained and charmed by Midnight In Paris. Welcome back, Woody Allen.

Xanax is a prescription medicine that just takes the edge off of being worried, it doesn’t fix things, it smooths the sharp edges like green and blue sea glass. My feet ache, I think I have a broken bone in my left foot, it is hard to walk up stairs, it is hard to walk, it is hard to breathe. There is no way I can hobble around in the city, as planned, I will postpone it until after the X-ray next week and the results of my mother’s tests. More importantly,  I will  “talk” to my deceased father, sending messages and prayers into the dark sky like shiny, silver helium balloons. I hope you are right Pollyanna, I really, truly do.

Sadly, The Biggest Fibromyalgia Fog Ever (And Food)

Stairs.

Image by ЯAFIK ♋ BERLIN via Flickr

A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning, my husband woke us up from a deep sleep at 7:45 am, which on the weekends is basically the middle of the night. We went to meet his parents for brunch “in the middle” of our two houses in two different States. What I thought would be a one hour drive ended up being two hours for us. Two long hours, coiled like a bright pink hair scrunchy  in the front seat of a very small car. I didn’t move around in my seat, didn’t ask to stop the car so I could stretch, I just sat there like a block of white marble. Why? What was I thinking? Apparently, I was NOT thinking.

During the trip there I totally forgot that I had Fibromyalgia. How could I forget that I had a chronic illness? I really don’t know but that is exactly what happened. It didn’t occur to me until I felt locked in place and could not get out of the car. I couldn’t turn, I couldn’t extend my legs out, I couldn’t move and finally, the long, first step from the car to the pavement was pure agony.  It was the greatest Fibromyalgia Fog of all:  Blissfully forgeting I had Fibromyalgia…until we got there.  Had I remembered the illness I would have stopped every half hour to get out of the car, stand up and stretch. I should have been prepared, physically and mentally but I wasn’t. I just wanted to arrive at our destination. When we got there every inch of my body hurt like thousands of razor blades performing a pain symphony.

We walked up a long winding, flight of stairs, my new arch-enemy, to get to the restaurant we were going to for the brunch buffet. I looked up the winding staircase and had no idea how I would be able to get up. Being stubborn and independent I clutched the banister with the strength I had left, my stiff legs and knees protesting at every step; I walked like a small child, one step with both feet at a time. I realized anew that Fibromyalgia is a horrible, debilitating disease and forgetting about it entirely was a terrible burden for my body and my feelings; I felt stupid and embarrassed. “Loser” I muttered to myself.

Finally upstairs we were treated to a lovely meal. The brunch was a buffet, a man played the piano, my teenagers were well-behaved, there were mimosas available and it looked festive. We feasted on made-to-order omeletes, mine with mushrooms and cheese. On display were cinnamon buns with drizzled, sweet vanilla icing. They served eggs benedict. an array of cheeses and fresh vegetables and Belgium waffles with a vat of whipped cream and another close by filled with bright red, plump strawberries. They had croissants and rolls and blueberry muffin tops coated with brown sugar. They had serving stations of steak with horseradish mayonnaise and grilled sirloin, all too carnivorous for me so early in the day. There were smoked salmon platters and my personal favorite, a lovely poached pear, the color of burgandy, with brie and walnuts.

Once we were finished I dreaded walking down my nemisis, the evil staircase. I had to take a deep breath with every painful inch that I could move. Each step sent electric shocks down my legs, my hands were red and swollen, as if arthritis had landed in my body unannounced. I stayed behind the family this time and managed with one hand to clutch the banister down and with the assistance of my husband holding on to my other arm. I felt like a 95 year old grandma and while I appreciated my husband’s help, I loathe that I need it. I don’t like feeling dependent, at all. The food cheered me up, it was lovely and presented gorgeously. I tried to remember that and not getting there or going home. Next time, please, someone remind me so I can avoid a Fibro Fog as stupid as this one.