unexpected Yellow Roses from my new friend.
Thank you so much
for brightening my life.
Today, October 2nd 2013, Danny and I will have been married for twenty-five years. Wow. I can hardly believe it myself. He truly is the best friend I have in the world and the love of my life. There is no one I’d rather be with than him. The thought of not being with him in the future makes me weep. I know it won’t be anyone’s fault but you know me, I worry in advance.
There’s something about being able to trust someone completely without embarrassment that is so intimate. It’s like branches of a tree, the trunk is the center, solid and strong, branches, different personality traits that co-mingle over time. We look at each other sometimes and say “Who ARE you?” and we laugh because we, somewhere along the way have become each other. He makes me feel safe, I feel better with him, together.
Of course, there are our beautiful “children” who by now are adults which is more shocking than most things. We feel so blessed with two amazing adult children, Tim and Jillian. These magnificent kids are our life’s work, to me they are what I have wanted my entire life. If have contributed nothing else in this world, I am proud, overjoyed to bring two wonderful, smart and kind people to this world. The purpose of my life was to be their mother and I’m so proud of both of them.
Dan and I usually agree on most things, especially on child-rearing. We were always pretty strict, European raised, that’s how we brought up our children, with manners. We did a great job with our kids, and we did it together. We stuck together on issues and we tried not to let the kids play games with us. It worked (mostly.)
Dan is the one true love of my life, he is warm and genuine and a deeply caring person. I like him very much (personal joke.) I can definitely say I am happier now than I was when I was younger.
Sweetheart, thank you for the best 25 years of my life. I love you with my heart and soul. Truthfully, I love you more than that and then some. Happy Anniversary to my most favorite person in the world. All my love, Me.
Photo credit noted above, Amber Karnes.
Mellow Yellow Roses, (would be a great idea for my birthday, please.)
My favorite color and my favorite flower now joining hands, with glee.
Yellow roses, sprung from Nature to fill me with delight and joy.
Happiness, to me, comes in Yellow.
Would you like to be my Mellow Yellow Friend?
-I am going to Spain, with my husband for ten glorious days. It appears things really do happen for a reason. We offered to take our teenagers to Spain, a place they have always wanted to go to and they declined. What? Yup, you heard me. When they politely (?) declined we were hurt and definitely confused about them not wanting to come. In the end, it worked out perfectly.
-Our son, the Senior in HS, didn’t want to be apart from this friends on their spring break and while our daughter wanted to go to Spain, she didn’t want to go without her brother. So, we stayed home while they had spring break (we are not stupid parents) and we left for Spain, just the two of us, three weeks later. Sometimes life is not only good, it’s great. I should have trusted that it would turn out this way.
-Our children have always left us to go to sleep away camp for 8 weeks each summer but we have never left them.We have talked to them, of course, and it sounds like things are going smoothly. I have no idea what the house will look like upon our return (silly me, of course we know how messy and dirty it will look like) but this vacation is worth pretty much anything.
-Today we left 3 days in Barcelona to drive to Roses, Spain. Honestly, I am not quite sure how we ended up here but I am glad we did. We are spending a few days at this little beach town.
-On the road to Roses from Barcelona we took a local highway. I noticed a woman sun tanning in a beach chair at the first exit. Soon, I saw another woman at another exit. Soon, my husband saw it too, how odd, I thought to sunbathe on the highway. A couple of exists further and the beach attire the women were wearing became skimpier and skimpier. Their poses were, shall we say, suggestive….. One woman wore a bright yellow warning sign on her lap. I read some place that they are supposed to have that garment too. Apparently the highway is notorious for having women sell their bodies at exit ramps. Is it legal or illegal? My husband googled it but we never came up with a clear-cut answer. Whether it is or not is immaterial, it happens. Hey, what do I know, I’m just a tourist!
-There is no happier place on earth for me than on any beach, especially one that has shiny blue-green Mediterranean water. There are flowers in the middle of every street, each street for the town has red roses in the divider. Sigh.
-We went out to eat at a local place where we let the waitress tell the cook what to make for us. We didn’t speak their dialect of Spanish and they spoke no English, but we smiled a lot and pointed and laughed and had a delicious meal. We ended up eating a beef stew, very tender meat in a brown sauce, a salad of lettuce and fresh, ripe red tomatoes and a white cheese platter served on a white plate, creamy and delicious. Of course, my husband sampled the local sangria (that’s a given.)
-We stayed at a hotel that we hated. It seemed like it was a geriatric nursing home and we were in the wrong place. Mind you, we are NO youngsters but we felt like teenagers at this place. The hallways were dark and it felt like we were underground. I clutched my husband’s arm each time we had to go there. It smelled musty and dank, the food was mushy and had no taste, the coffee was undrinkable. After two long nights, we left. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. It had bad vibes written all over it, bad smell, bad everything.
-Our reward: I looked up another hotel that was about twenty minutes and closer to Barcelona for the way back. IT WAS STUNNING, it was also brand new. Things got mixed up but with our reservation but the hotel/resort was welcoming and beautiful. For our “inconvenience” they upgraded us to a suite overlooking the ocean. Ten minutes later, a bottle of complimentary champagne appeared at our door. We were in love.
to be continued……
Having been in Spain for over a week now, the color of Spain, to me, is burnt orange, terra-cotta. I have pieces of smooth, slippery rocks that I collected from the beach. They capture the feeling in my heart, and remind me of this beautiful country and the interesting dialects and eclectic and interesting food from tapas to wiener schnitzel, pizza and kabobs, paella, different creamy white cheese served on a white plate.
We decided to first stay in the magnificent city of Barcelona for the first few days surrounded by a cacophony of French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, and other languages we could not decipher. It’s fascinating to see and hear different people all the time, just walking down the busy streets you feel like you are in a United Nations convention. We went walking on the touristy streets in the big city, seeing people “statues” move and delight the crowds. Wait, is that a statue or….hey, it’s a man barely moving for minutes on end. A cup was available in front of them, for tips.
We ate tapas (tastings of many small things that you pick) ranging from something that tasted like cream cheese and jelly (perfect for me) to meatballs, fish, grilled herb cheese with tomatoes, sausages and crabmeat. We (ok, my husband) drank Sangria and wherever you go the drink is slightly different. Sometimes it had sugar in it, other times sparkling water was added to it, in a different place the sugar was not in the drink but on the rim with fruit bouncing happily in the red wine. Sangria was a staple and for me “Coke Lite.”
Just to be in another country was wonderful, breathing the air, seeing the different plants, colors, people, birds. When you are in another country you experience joy from just waking up in a new place excited to go on new adventures. After hours of walking you whisper good-night to each other across a king size bed. Traveling, to me, is a fantasy. We spent three free nights in a wonderful hotel that included breakfast, croissants and coffee. The croissants have a very tiny sheen of sugar baked on the top, perfect in the morning. Coffee all the time, espresso, regular coffee, double espresso, cafe latte. There were different types of yogurt, cheese, olives, sausage and bread.
Children are running around with their parents pursuing them, excited screams for gelato were heard. Smiling in any language seems universal.
IT was my 25th birthday, my parents, sister and I went to a fancy restaurant in New York to celebrate. The food was smorgasbord style but I remember looking at layers of thick orange lox, plump, green, salty capers and huge layers of white onions. I had no idea what I was going to eat. I had always been a picky eater so I’m sure I had bread, butter and an assortment of cheese, which is still one of my favorite meals. The only thing I do remember vividly is the end of dinner when our plates were cleared off the table.
It was dessert time, my favorite time, and my favorite chocolate layer cake had been brought in by my parents from The Homestead Gourmet Shop in Queens. Every year I looked forward to MY annual, traditional chocolate layer cake with raspberry jam filling and creamy milk chocolate frosting with perfect, pink script writing that said HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Roses, pink and green, made out of frosting, adorned the perimeter of my cake.
There were three black and white-clad waiters singing “Happy Birthday” to (an embarrassed) me. All of the waiters were smiling, each had a bright white starched napkin draped over one arm. I remember looking up after I blew out the candles and saw the waiters singing and smiling, reminding me of the penguin clad waiters from Mary Poppins. After a minute, my eyes saw something so unreal that time stood still. One of the waiters was NOT a real waiter at all. It was my beloved “Uncle Teddy” who lived far away in Israel. My father knew he would be in town and my family had arranged for him to surprise me for my birthday, waiter outfit and all. I remember the moment it registered in my brain and I jumped up from my seat and cried with happiness “Teddy!” He came towards me to give me a big hug and from behind his back he produced a bouquet of roses. I will never forget the feeling I had, the sound of my voice as I screamed his name and the sobbing as I stood motionless in time with my very own special “waiter.” He hugged and kissed me, tears streamed down both our cheeks. It was the best birthday I have ever had and one that I will never forget.
I am slowly, very slowly and intensely taking off pink nail polish from my finger nails as if it was the most important task in the world. I feel like a surgeon scrubbing in to make him/herself totally antiseptic. It feels like that to me but I don’t know why exactly. I don’t know the codes or rules for going to a wake but I know, for myself, I have to wipe away every sign of sunshine from my hands because that feels right. My hands look plain, wrinkled, weather-beaten and bare. I’ve stripped off every clue to color because my friend Dawn is dead and the world feels color-less and grim.
I didn’t know what to expect at the wake; I had only been to one wake before in my life and that was thirty-five years ago. We arrived before the official hours and already the room was packed. I saw her husband, John first, and I hugged him, then their oldest daughter who hugged me as if to comfort me. Her middle son sat tall and straight next to his friends and did not move, his eyes riveted to his mom’s casket. The youngest child was the most heartbreaking of all, he belonged to no one in that room. He was in his own world, going to the casket, returning to his seat, going to the casket and returning to his seat, his eyes on no one, alone in his private world. He sat neither with family or friends, he was in his own fragile bubble, looking younger than his years.
I thought in death, Dawn would look more like herself than she did in the last stages of her life. I somehow expected to feel comforted that I would see my friend as I had remembered her. I went slowly up to the coffin although I was terrified; I knew it was something I had to do. But, inside my head, like an unrestrained child, inside my head I was screaming with disbelief and anger “this is not OUR Dawn” I thought, “THIS IS NOT OUR DAWN.” In the coffin lay a woman I didn’t know, an old woman, with too much makeup. They had prayer cards with a picture of Dawn at her finest: natural, loving, with one of her great big smiles and that is what many people said they wanted to remember her by. Even though I felt the same way, the images for the next three nights when I tried to sleep were of Dawn in the open casket, someone I didn’t know, a stranger.
There were flower arrangements everywhere. A huge arrangement made from roses, dark, crimson roses that formed into a heart; it must have stood six feet tall. There were many other flowers, yellow, white, pink, every color you can imagine and as tall as one can dream.
Her husband John, then came over and put his arm around me to show me something. “I hope you don’t mind” he said but we used your letter to Dawn as our prayer.” In front of me, I saw a piece of paper with the words I had written FOR Dawn, many months before she died. It was called “Praying For Dawn” and somehow after writing it, I thought I would take a chance to drop it off at their house. It was meant for Dawn and her family, and yet here at the wake hundreds of people clutched the piece of paper that I had written.
Her family members wanted to meet me, they said they had all read it many times, I had no idea. I do remember that after I dropped it off I got a voice message in the back of my answering machine from Dawn, thanking me and telling me she loved it. I could barely make out her words but I never erased that message. I gave my condolences to Dawn’s mom and she said “Oh, do you like that prayer, one of her friends wrote that!!!” Somehow through my trembling lips and tears I managed to say that ‘I was that friend.’ I swear her eyes lit up and she thanked me and told me how often the family loved reading it. She asked ME if she could introduce me to Dawn’s father who had wanted to meet the friend that had written that poem. After the introduction, he hugged me, and then took my face in his hands and said “God Bless You” “Thank you for writing that about Dawn, you captured her the way she really was. ” He told me he had wanted to meet the person who wrote it and knew I was a neighbor but didn’t want to walk into the wrong house and be embarrassed.” I told him where I lived and told him that he and his wife were welcome to visit me at any time.
The emotional intensity for me was overwhelming. I was honored that they used my piece of writing at the same time I was in total emotional shock. People were complimenting me on something that I forgot about since I have written many pieces about Dawn in my blog. I looked at many of my earlier blog posts and I practically have a whole book about Dawn.
My husband practically had to drag me out of the door since we needed to get our daughter to her afternoon class. I saw an old dear friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time and we wrapped our arms around each other crying. “I feel so lost” she said, “I just feel lost.” We all felt that way, I think. Lost without a piece of sunshine in our lives, deprived forever more of this gift of a person who brought enjoyment to everyone she met. Dawn was our fighter, never giving up yet she still lost the fight to this horrendous disease. Dawn was our light, she was our strength, there was no one she didn’t like…..well, with the exception of a little dog in the neighborhood….We all laughed remembering that and it felt good.
Two days later I arrived at the church forty-five minutes before the service and again, there were many people inside. The church was beautiful, I had never been there before. The stained glass windows shone from the morning sun, the polished wood seemed inviting and homey. There were many new flowers, everywhere. So many people from our little community were there, every religion was represented, people from all parts of Dawn’s life were there to show their respect: sports teams, education, friends, family, neighbors, some of the neighborhood kids, friends and their parents for all three children and the middle school Principal. Our community sometimes gets a really bad reputation but when something happens to one of our own, we come together as one. Our little town becomes so protective and so loving of one of its own; it’s happened before. Many years ago when a young boy had cancer, the town rallied together as well.
Both Dawn’s daughter and husband spoke at the funeral. Her daughter is a young woman with the most grace and poise I have ever seen. This young woman will be famous one day, I guarantee it. Everyone was either wiping their eyes or just letting the tears stream down their faces like leaks out of a rusty, old faucet. After the service the pallbearers brought the coffin out to the hearse. I saw a random pink flower on the ground that escaped and as much as I wanted to pick it up and touch it I couldn’t. It didn’t seem like the thing to do, it belonged to Dawn.
One thing I did not know was the tradition of the hearse and all the cars attending the cemetery making a final good-bye to the house where Dawn lived with her family. We drove around the loop as well and all I could think of was Dawn’s enormous Christmas wreath that she was always so proud of, hanging still around the front door. It seemed to me so heart-wrenching to do that, to watch her family ride in the car passing their house where their mother would never again live. Maybe it’s for closure too, I can only guess.
After that, we all went to our individual homes, sighing, looking at the ground, crying, solemn and gloomy and still, feeling that we were in a different world, a new reality. I don’t know how long it takes before the death of someone really hits you and takes its toll but I do know that it does take a while. After the company, the distractions, the food and the flowers, the only thing that matters is that there will be an empty chair at their kitchen table that no one can ever replace. And, at all her children’s’ games, their mom will not be there to encourage them and support them. Whatever condition Dawn was in, good or bad, in a wheelchair or not, Dawn was always there for her children, rooting for them, happy for them until the very last breath she took to say a peaceful “good-bye.”
Today is my 54th birthday and while I have never been ashamed of my age it’s still new to my lips and tongue. It also means I have to change the Hibernationnow home page because there it says I’m 53. I had no expectations for today, even though I dearly love birthdays. This year, however, with so much on my mind, with so many questions left unanswered, so much uncertainty: unemployment, health issues, etc. I woke up not with excitement but with a small, soft smile. I slept until 9:20 am, went downstairs for a giant birthday bear hug from my husband and an extra-strong cup of coffee.
I got morning birthday calls from my mother and my sister which is a family tradition but I still thought of the annual red rose that my father used to give me every year on my birthday when he was alive. For once, I did not need a “sign” or a “message” from him because even though he died 8 years ago, I knew that I was still in his heart and he in mine. Maybe being a year older brought me some much needed wisdom.
I went out to lunch with my friend Sarah at our favorite diner and we laughed and shared stories and commiserated about colleges for our seniors. Before we left she handed me my gift, a gift that I would have picked out for myself (and almost did). A beautiful silver star fish on a chain that made me gasp with happiness and surprise. It was a piece of the beach and the ocean that I dearly love, now wrapped around my neck.
I took my dog, Callie, for a birthday walk, just my sweet canine girl and me. We walked under the gorgeous sunshine, the red and yellow leaves blazing on the trees. The air was warm and smelled like pumpkins and I relished the 75 degree weather birthday treat. When my kids and husband came home there were hugs and kisses, gifts and happy voices, mine being the happiest of all. I opened presents from my son, my daughter and my husband and cards and well wishes from so many friends. I felt truly blessed; I am truly blessed.
The day ended with a surprise delivery of flowers from an old, lost friend, and dinner consisting of filet mignon, a chopped salad and pumpkin spice cake with ginger mousse for dessert. Even though I am 54 I was happy and excited that the waitress brought it over singing “Happy Birthday” with a candle to blow out and a wish to keep in my heart.