Thursday’s Thoughts

Rain

Rain (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn (back soon, sorry for not commenting))

The rain is dripping from the sky but the sound it makes, splashing across the window, is comforting. Talking (no texting) with my son makes me smile. My husband is doing day labor work for a friend, today he is a Plumber’s Assistant and he is proud. I am proud as well.

Yesterday I talked to my mother; when my mother feels scared she gets very nasty, especially to me. Why I am her whipping post I’m not sure, but I have to deal with it better than I do. It takes me 12 hours for me to get it right and she never remembers what she says. I should know that by now but while it happens I seem to forget it and regress.

My son is about to meet with the President of his University to go over the recommendation letter that the President is eager to write for him for Graduate School. My son is a rare combination of brains and sweetness.

My daughter is beautiful and brilliant, I had not viewed her as an adult until we visited her last week. She will always be my baby in my heart but seeing her in her suite with her friends made me look at her like an accomplished savvy adult. “My baby” is all grown up. I was always known as “the little one.”I would give up anything if only I could hear my father say it one more time, with just one more hug. I miss him.

Father & Daughter

Father & Daughter (Photo credit: Enigma Photos)

When I picked up my dog, Lexi, she ignored me. She would not look at me and hesitantly jumped in the car, not with the same excitement as usual. She did not give me kisses. Once inside the house, she sauntered over to her water bowl and drank it all up, not giving me so much as a glance. After a while, I went upstairs to lie on my bed where she always keeps me company; she hid under the bed. I just gave her space. I understand getting used to changes, I’m the same way.

In a couple of hours she warmed up and forgave me for leaving her at her favorite sitter’s house while we were away. She jumped on the bed, circled around until she found just the right spot, her body touching mine and fell soundly asleep. It was a very deep sleep, she sighed with relief, I felt her body relax, she was home, we were safe, then she gave me kisses.

 

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What I Learned From My Daughter’s Graduation (Plus Love Does Not Die)

Dad and Angel

Dad and Angel (Photo credit: nualabugeye)

“Live life simply. Be kind. Do what you love, passionately. Make mistakes, fail and start again.” At my daughter’s high school graduation yesterday, we heard quotes from Steve Jobs and Dr. Suess, no one mentioned getting an MBA or Harvard Law; it felt like the world was undergoing a much-needed change and this was the generation that was going to do it. I felt like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were humming “Teach Your Children” in the background and I felt proud.

Class of 2012, you gave renewed hope to all of us aging baby boomers who sat and listened with smiles on our wrinkled faces and aching feet. Yes, I have bunions and hammer toes and I did take my sandals off to walk in the grass for a few minutes but then I realized my daughter would never forgive me if she saw me or G-d forbid, heard about it through a friend, so I ran back to put those stylish pink flower flip-flops back on.

Graduation was a lovely distraction and a glaring omission. It was held on Father’s Day and my dad passed away almost ten years ago. My mom was there and my in-laws but not MY dad. I believe in angels and signs and that the dead communicate with those of us left here on earth. Love does not die when someone leaves the earth, I know that for sure.

Right in front of me stood a man, ducking to get through, that looked so much like my dad had looked, wearing the exact shirt my dad used to wear, that I gasped and caught my breath. “I thought that was Dad” I squeaked to my no-nonsense mother who refused to even listen to my “angel moment.” I knew, I knew in my heart that was my dad’s sign, he has always been present for ALL important celebrations. In my heart I knew that while it may have not been him in the flesh, it was his angel, a sign for me from him. Thank you, Daddy.

I wore the dress my daughter picked out for me, the shoes, the necklace, (or as she used to pronounce it when she was little Neck-a-less”) I can still hear her young voice in my head if I try hard. When I saw her walk in before the program started, I took a photograph of her in my mind that I hope will stay there forever. Her beautiful blonde hair, straightened for the joyous occasion, hanging from under her blue cap, her blue gown flowing from the breeze on a sunny day and her bright smile and wave when she saw her grandmother and me. It was a rare glimpse into her world and it made me so happy.

After the reception I knew it was all about her and her friends. In our excitement we forgot to take pictures as a family, how can that be? We’re human and we got caught up in time and it simply slipped our minds. That’s what memories are for, photographs that stay in our heart.

You are starting a new journey, my beautiful, grown-up girl. You are fearless  and strong, independent and wise. There is no doubt in my mind that if you want it badly enough, you can change the world. Keep the faith; I know you will do great things for this world. I know it in my heart.

Father’s Day

Self made rainbow, made in home garden.

Image via Wikipedia

I was in Target’s the other day buying things I really don’t need but that’s what is so great about Target. You pretty much can justify almost every purchase because it is so inexpensive. After my leisurely walk through the aisles I make a right turn to the card section to select a card for my dad. After a moment I felt a sharp intake of breath ; shock and horror set in immediately like an illness that comes on suddenly and wipes you out. I stop, stand still and I reach for the cart to steady myself.  My father has been dead for ten years.

I don’t see his image in the streets anymore like I used to do for years after his death. Father’s Day, however, is something that is so ingrained in me that every single year I do the same exact thing. I go automatically to the Father’s Day section. I don’t have a father anymore and the realization from that is always new and it always hurts like a fresh wound. Moments of past misery hit me like a strong wave that pulls me under.

Every year on or around Father’s Day I go to the cemetery and put round white stones on his grave site. I clean off all the debris, pieces of dead brown leaves that crackle and fall apart, twigs, black soot from a harrowing winter and I clean things up a little. I bring a bouquet of flowers when I go. It’s the least I can do for a father who bought me a single red rose every year on my birthday. I talk to my dad at the cemetery and I weep. I weep in anticipation of getting there so my tears start rolling down my cheeks way before I have arrived. I park my car in the same spot, sometimes I will walk a few steps and then come back, go in the opposite direction and return quickly.

This year, as if a gift from heaven, my son’s High School graduation is on Father’s Day and that makes me extraordinarily happy. I feel, actually, I know, that my father will be with us at the celebration. He will be there in spirit with his family, seeing his grandson graduate. Maybe he will be in the soft breeze that blows, hidden in the colors of a rainbow, in the light of the raindrops that may shower us, or in the rays of the beaming sun nodding his approval, showcasing his pride. He will be there.

I know I won’t have lunch with my dad again, or be able to listen to one of his “educational talks” or laugh hysterically when he used to take the vacuum cleaner out when he thought company was staying too long. It’s not as if I can have one last hug from him or a kiss on the top of my head. I can imagine his soft hands but I can’t feel them anymore, but I carry him around with me in my heart forever.

Paging “Mr. L” (Repost with Addendum)

kew gardens queens

Image by silatix via Flickr

I had a friend on my blog who once lived in the same town that I grew up in at different times. We both lived in Kew Gardens, Queens.  He would read my blog fairly consistently and would always comment with his classic signature “Mr. L.” even though I knew his first name was Abe. When I wrote about our old neighborhood, he loved it. I wrote a few posts on the now dissolved oldkewgardens.com about what it was like growing up in that sweet town and that is where we first met. He contacted me after that and we stayed in touch.

He hasn’t been on in a long time and I’m beginning to get worried about him. He was last living in California, I believe, and was contemplating whether he wanted to continue living there or not. Mr. L. to me, was like my substitute dad or uncle, since my dad passed away ten years ago. We used to kid around a lot and talk about our favorite gourmet delicatessen, The Homestead. I still dream about their Polish rye bread, sour and chewy and their faux Sachertorte cake made with many layers of raspberry jam between layers of creamy, sweet, chocolate cake. When I lived at home, every birthday cake was this particular cake inscribed with “Happy Birthday.” A real Sachertorte from Austria is drier and has layers of apricot jam but this was sweeter, this was MY cake.

When Mr. L talked about his deceased wife it was with such emotion, always, he still missed her so very much. From what he told me he absolutely adored her. In every “conversation” he would bring up his wife and talk a little about her; those little things that really make up a great marriage, sharing breakfast, the same bed, holding hands.

I know this blog post isn’t going to win any awards, nor will it attract a lot of people but that’s fine. I know Mr. L had adult children but I don’t remember where they live. So, if anyone knows him (and yes, I do know his full name) please let me know. I know I am overly emotional and sensitive, that’s a big part of who I am but I care about him and hope he is alright. I don’t want to lose Mr. L if I don’t have to. Mr. L. please come back and say hello.

ADDENDUM 10/19 2011. I HEARD FROM MR. L TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

“Because I Am”

Black balloons

Image by stvno via Flickr

Tonight I am having a pity party for one; I am the guest of honor. You are welcome to join me but motivational speeches and happy clichés are not allowed. I’ve learned that the sun will probably not come out tomorrow, it will be cold, dark and windy just like the last few weeks. Some of my friends with chronic illnesses seem to be feeling the same way: Is it the weather?  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Pain and unhappiness? Other friends that don’t have chronic illnesses are also fed up and feeling down. I’m wallowing in self-pity and I am allowing myself to do so. Wallowing and venting are the main attractions in my self-imposed symposium.

1) Both my husband and I have been very discouraged because of the job market; he has been unemployed for a long time. He is always the best candidate, the one they love, the one they want. We get excited, euphoric even, and then the final news hits us like a tsunami: “We would love to have him but there is no funding approved for this job now” or “There’s a hiring freeze that just  started.” We plummet, like rapidly deflating black balloons.

2) I need to protect myself from future painful disappointments. While, in the past, I have tried to feel positive and hopeful,  I am now keeping my defenses up because it is too damn painful to feel excited and then let down over and over again.I am tired of feeling bad and blue and not having anything to look forward to. Yes, I have tried to be positive, I count my blessings and I list the things that I am grateful for: nothing works. A good friend of mine told me she was depressed last week and I asked her “why?”  “Because I am” she said. I now understand that completely.

4) Physically, I have no energy. I’ve been over-eating and sleeping way too much these past two weeks. I’m trying to sleep straight through to May but the chances of that are pretty slim. I stopped taking the autoimmune drug that was helping my energy level because it made my legs ache continuously and I wanted to rid myself of extra pain. This is what happens when I try to rid myself of drugs and toxins in my body. I end up asleep. I made the wrong decision.

5) The holiday season is not joyful for me. After my father died, the holiday spirit died with him. We go through the motions for the children. I’ve accepted this but each year after his birthday in November things start to go downhill fast, straight through to New Year’s Eve, the night he passed away. Why can’t I prepare myself? Why is it only familiar when it is happening again? Think of it as a long, a really long extended period of situational depression.

6) I’m having a default Thanksgiving in my house this year. My mom broke her wrist and I just couldn’t let her have it in her house. She is also depressed because of her broken bone and pain and having to be dependent on others, this affects me too. I feel bad for her. I can’t begin to talk about my self-involved sister, there is too much to say and at the same time, nothing to say. Thanksgiving is in one week, I have nothing prepared and I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I will rally for the holidays because I have to; it’s a necessity not a choice.

Let me tell you directly what I want:  Accept how I feel and allow me to have the emotions I do have. Don’t analyze, debate or criticize me. Try active listening. Help out during Thanksgiving and be kind to one another. I would truly be grateful if you could do just that.