Category Archives: Introspection

Two Weeks And One Day

It just this minute occurred to me that the two week mark was when it hit me that my dad was really gone. It was the day I started missing him. Really missing him, like I couldn’t bear it any longer, I had to see him.

Now here it is, two weeks and a day since my mom passed away. ( I hate those two words but I can’t deal with the D word just yet.) And today was one of the roughest days I’ve had.  I had 3 crying jags at work before first break so I knew it was going to be a hard day.  I should have just gone home.  By lunch time, though, I had it pulled together and was doing ok.  For about twenty minutes and then it all went downhill from there.

It must have been obvious to co-workers that I was kind of miserable.  Every other person took it upon themselves to try and cheer me up.  Let me tell you something, if you ever find yourself on the other end of this conversation, with me anyway, save yourself the trouble.  I’m broken inside, can’t you see I don’t feel like laughing right now? I appreciate that their intentions were good, just wasn’t feeling it.

One thing has become very clear to me.  A simple “How you doin’?”  “I’m here if you need me,”  Or a smile and a pat on the shoulder is so much more comforting. Some of my most peaceful moments have come after reading a note that simply said “Thinking of you today.”

Anyway, back to my day.  I came home to a quiet house, which can be a blessing or a curse and I can’t even tell you which, depends on so many things.  My phone started jangling and I just couldn’t listen to it anymore.  My phone has been in my pocket or in my hand constantly for about the last month.  I just, at that moment, didn’t want to deal with it.  I set it on the ta tossed it on ok, I HURLED it across the table and it slid and landed with a rather large clunk on the floor. The on-off switch must have jammed because now it’s really hard to turn on and off.  So I learned a lesson about anger.  Anyway, the phone stayed off.

Then, a little after dinner the real phone rang.  In case it was important, I walked over to read the caller ID and it was an unknown number.  As I turned my back to it and was walking away, it dawned on me that my mom will never be on the other end of that damnable phone again and I started to cry.  I marched up the stairs, turned on the hot water in the bathtub and had a nice long cry/bath.

I feel a little better now.

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Life and Aging

So I’ve become preoccupied with the whole concept of aging.  But mostly how unfair it is.  It occurs to me that in this instance, Life and Aging can be used interchangeably.

I keep thinking of my parents when they were young.  How they fell in love, how their lives unfolded and how innocent they started out.  There was no way they could have known that they would have six children or the allowances and sacrifices they would be required to make.  Both of them came from very poor families and decided that their kids would not do without as they did.  That, in itself is a rather daunting undertaking.

I think when we look at our parents, we forget that they were much like we are at one time. Most likely they had a lot of the same feelings and desires and fears.  When I look at myself and wonder how I got this old, I realize now that they must have done the same thing.  It seems so unfair to me that Life has robbed them, not only of their youth and innocence but their vitality and abilities to take care of themselves, and then, finally, their lives themselves. It seems so senseless.  I try to concentrate on the good memories, the happy times and the fact that the world is a better place for them having been here.  But when I think of how short a time we’re given on this Earth to accomplish something, it seems kind of cruel to me.

I think I’m about to embark on the angry stage of Grief.

Holy Cow

I’m thrilled to see readers here! You have no idea.

I’ve been busy with post-funeral stuff like writing thank-you notes and things but I have much more to say on this subject.  Including some problems I’m having adjusting. No surprise there. But I will post more on the weekend, I promise.

And thanks so much for coming over and saying such nice things 🙂

A Blog Can Serve a Purpose (and other observations)

I’ve all but abandoned this blog. Once upon a time it served a purpose.  I used it to empty out my head every now and then.  Then, quite a while ago, I found other places to distribute the stuff that was clogging up my brain… maybe not entirely emptying it out but more or less dribbling things out in starts and stops and spurts.

But now I have this ridiculously saturated medulla or cerebellum or whatever you call it and there’s no way I could possibly drain it sufficiently without coming back here. So, over the next few hours or days or however long it takes, I’mma gonna be here emptying out my brain and my heart and whatever else I can squeeze out so I can have my old self back… the one that can sleep and rationalize and communicate intelligibly, (even carry on a conversation) and emote and add and subtract.

As it stands right now, it’s 2:19am. I’m supposed to be waking up in 3 hours to go back to work after having been off for a week. Unless you count the weekends, in which case it would be 9 days. That’s how long it took to watch my mom die and see to it that she got a proper burial and deal with the aftermath. Partially, anyway.

And all that stuff up there left me with a head the size of a [insert something of impressive volume here] full of bombarding thoughts and not a clue as to how to sort them out and make sense of any of it.  I know, because I’ve spent the last four or five (I can’t even count anymore) nights trying.  And that was on top of the daunting task of trying to cry.

There’s something about watching your mother die and not being able to cry that just doesn’t sit well with me. I dunno, it just doesn’t feel normal.

Stay tuned for part two, four, five, three , seven, twelve, eight and however many more it takes to get me the hell through this.

NEW YEAR THOUGHTS

For me, the start of a new year always involves some level of self-examination.  My intention is to examine my conscience and determine where there is room for improvement.  I intend to take a look at my experiences through the past year,  my victories and my struggles.  Ideally, I would build on what worked and put some strategies in place to help avoid the inevitable rough spots in the future.  In years past, this exercise usually amounts to nothing more than a quick debate in my head about whether or not to bother making resolutions.  The typical ones come up… Eat healthier, exercise more, stop procrastinating and quit smoking.  I’ve made those year after year and something in me just refuses to take the list seriously. The procrastinator in me believes that I will take those things more seriously next year.  I won’t kid you into believing that this year will be any different. I should add stop being stubborn to the list.  But that would add more pressure and just one more thing to put off for another day…

There’s also the outward examination.  I look in the mirror.  This exercise is becoming more painful as time passes.  I see the beginnings of wrink (ok, who am I kidding?)  I see the wrinkles deepening around my eyes and mouth . The gray hair taking over and the results of Mr. Gravity wreaking havoc on the rest of me.  The freckles on the backs of my hands aren’t freckles anymore (how does that happen?)  It takes me a little longer to bound out of bed in the morning and I don’t run up and down the steps as I always have. “Things” aren’t so firm and toned.  My skin requires constant hydrating to prevent it from taking on alligator characteristics… I have to constantly remind myself to stand up straight. It’s wearing me out!

Yeah, it’s bleak.  And if you’re behind me in age, I apologize if I’m scaring you to death.  But it’s a fact of life and it is frightening and I’m smack-dab in the middle of a panic.  I see so many women my age who seem to be just fine with where they are in life.  Of course, they’ve dyed the gray away in their hair.  Maybe they go to the gym faithfully.  Maybe they’ve had or are contemplating tummy-tucks and some facial reconstruction.  Maybe they’ve already experienced my panic and chose to take steps to fix things. Maybe they just don’t care.

The experiences my mom has endured this past year has forced me to look at my own stuff in a way I never have.  When I look at her, I see me in the future and I get panicky. I don’t wanna be frail.  I don’t wanna depend on other people to do things for me.  I don’t want to become bitter.  I don’t want to become bitter.  More than anything I don’t want to become bitter.

This might be the year that I change things.  Time is going to pass no matter what.  Aging is inevitable.  We’re born, we live, we die. But I don’t want to become bitter.

Let me say that I hate this post. It’s not what I wanted to say but I’m trying to work through this.  It’s giving me a hard time and I can’t hold it in.

BIG SPOILER ALERT

(Warning, this is not happy, light reading.  My apologies beforehand… And it’s not a movie review…)

I’ve recently had my future show up at my door. Unexpectedly and knocking loudly. I kind of knew that it was lurking about out there and that sooner or later I would have to open the door and invite it in.  But somehow I had convinced myself that it would patiently wait until I was good and ready to entertain it.

For most of my life I could look out the peep hole and just enjoy the view. There were lots of beautiful sights to see.  Pretty and happy sights.  Then a few years ago, one day I looked out and the picture I was accustomed to seeing seemed a bit dimmer.  Less sharp and clear and somewhat tinged.  Let’s say the colors began to look a little washed out and a sepia effect was starting to bleed in.  If you’re not familiar with a sepia tone, think old photographs.  Not exactly black and white but sort of brownish yellow.  Now picture a sepia rainbow.  There are no brilliant vivid colors, just some lighter tans fading to darker tan.  Hard to distinquish and not nearly so interesting or festive.

I don’t mean to sound all Doom’s Day-ish.  I’m speaking reality. My reality.  And using my normal look the other way tactic just won’t hold water anymore.  There’s no avoiding the inevitable.

It’s called the Circle of Life.  We’re born, we live, and if we’re lucky we have the opportunity to age and then finally die.  We move through the Seasons of our lives from Spring to Winter.  It’s gradual and barely imperceptible.  Mostly.

There comes a point, though when we’re forced to face our immortality.  This point comes in many forms.  For me, a mirror is the vehicle.  I’m not only speaking of the moment each day when I wake up and actually see my face in the bathroom mirror; when I take stock of new sags and wrinkles and skin variations that were or were not there the previous day.  Yeah, that’s not exactly a picnic. But what I’m referring to is the mirror that is my Mom.  She’s where I will be in twenty years or less.

I’ve had to open my door and look reality full in the face.  I was only slightly prepared and accepting it or not is no longer and option but a necessity.

I’ve had to realize that at some point, bounding out of bed in the morning will not be an option.  That one day I may be dependent on someone else to make sure my daily needs are attended to.  That everything about my independence that I took for granted will poof like a soap bubble in the wind.  That my dignity may be compromised.  That seeing, hearing, walking, talking, dancing, typing, and even thinking will no longer be effortless.

It will help, I know, to have a good attitude.  To have loving family and friends around to help me get by.  Good eating habits and exercise may prolong the process and maybe make it less painful or more manageable.  But only that.  There’s no escaping the end result.

I’m not sure how you deal with this, or if you’ve even had to.  But we’re all in this together and even though it’s a very personal thing, it’s something we all have to face at some point.  I have my own thoughts and feelings about what comes after and those will be my comfort and my salvation, if you will.  But you have to move from Point A to Point B and it’s not exactly a downhill slide in the sense that it’s going to be easy.  Reality isn’t exactly a smooth paved path.

Forgive me if  I’m seeming all dire and morbid.  It’s simply where I am right now.  I didn’t want to open that door.  I was content enough to just take things day by day, putting one foot in front of the other and reminding myself to exhale every so often.

I will come to terms with it all at some point.  I won’t like it and I’ll fight it with every cell in my body and every neuron in my little brain.  But right now, it’s too fresh.  Too frightening and too claustrophobic.  I just had to get this out, carrying it around was wearing me out.  I have too much else to do.  And a time frame that’s shrinking a little every day.

COLD FLOOR

Somebody pulled the rug out from under my feet.

I didn’t realize how much I needed that damn rug.

LIFE’S LITTLE SETBACKS

Oh… where to begin… First a little recap in case you hadn’t read my previous post.

On June 2nd,  my Mama fell and injured her hip.  This required surgery, a short hospital stay and then admittance to a nursing home where she would receive therapy for two weeks or so.  Luckily the facility is minutes from my home and I’ve been able to visit with her nearly every day.

If you’ve never had a similar experience, you understand the anxiety I experienced anticipating what it would be like to see a parent in such a situation.

Nursing homes, or the idea of them, stir up many emotions and images.  I can tell you that you’re probly pretty accurate if you imagine negative things like bad smells, lonely people,  and sights and sounds that are hard to see and hear.

The first couple of visits were real eye-openers for me.  I forced myself to “rock up” and keep my mom’s welfare at the forefront of my perspective.  Otherwise I could probly never have been able to return.  Seeing people suffer is something that tears me up.  So many sights that I’ve seen there keep haunting me and I have to consciously replace the images with more positive things, like the day we take Mom home to finish her recuperation.

I do know a couple of things for sure.  Number one, I pray that my mom never needs to return there.  Not because the care she’s received hasn’t been acceptable but because it has not been good for her emotionally.  There is no such thing as privacy or peace and quiet.  And there’s nothing like your own bed or real home-cooking when your body is healing.  Number two, I would never last a day in one of those places.  I’m not that strong.  PD and I have been discussing, at length, alternatives in case either of us are ever faced with the need.  I can’t even tell you some of the extreme measures that have been brought up, some in a humorous vein,  others, not so much.  Which brings me to a third realization I’ve had and that is this~ A sense of humor is not only desirable but absofuckinglutely crucial in the situation.

Lack of time is the only thing that’s keeping me from sharing this in a more poignant, informational and detailed manner.  I have a literal ton of things to say regarding the last 3 1/2 weeks, mostly emotional issues I’m experiencing but that will have to wait.  PD’s father had surgery yesterday and there are some things he’s going to need also.  Another story for another day…

Thanks for listening.

THE ROAR OF THE TREES

“Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword. On one side all is correct, definite, orderly; the paths are straight, the trees regular, the sun shaded; escorted by gentlemen, protected by policemen, wedded and buried by clergymen, she has only to walk demurely from cradle to grave and no one will touch a hair of her head. But on the other side all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course. The paths wind between bogs and precipices; the trees roar and rock and fall in ruin.”
~ Virginia Woolf, ‘Harriette Wilson’, Collected Essays

I read this earlier this week and when I did, it didn’t really sink in.  I was too distracted and busy with other thoughts and concerns. Something told me to go back to it and I just did.  And it more than sunk in this time.  I could have written it, with all that I’ve been feeling lately.  My first thought was, is this exclusive to women?  And the answer, I think is absolutely yes.

As women, we have the luxury of feeling protected for much of our lives.  I try never to take that for granted.  We owe so much to our men… our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, even our sons.  Not to mention all the other men who touch our lives…  And yet, there are times and situations where there is no such thing as a safety net or someone to “have our backs.”  There are times when decisions have to be made and situations need to be dealt with and it’s entirely up to us to muster our courage and our strength to do what we feel is right and necessary.  How we deal in those times are testaments to our character and either make us or break us.

I have witnessed some amazing accomplishments by women lately, in particular, in the case of my own dear Mother.  She recently fell and injured her upper thigh/hip. This required surgery and spending time in an assisted-care facility for rehab.  All during this ordeal, the “elephant in the room” which to this point has not been spoken of, but was the obvious fact that everything would have been made better somehow if my dad were still alive and here for her to lean on and offer strength and assurance.  Not only would it have made a difference to her, but to my brothers and my sister and I.  It’s a scary feeling to share the responsibility of the welfare of a parent.  If you’ve never been in this position, lucky you.  It’s daunting.  I’m hugely grateful to have a big family and to have the luxury of sharing the responsibility with siblings.  I can’t imagine having to deal with the decision-making alone, not to mention tending to her daily needs, both physical and emotional.

There’s way more I could say on this subject and what I’m feeling right now, but time prevents the saying.  The feeling, though?  That growing up is tough but that growing old is worse.  But I’m concentrating on the gratitude… that my mom is finding the strength to be awesomely amazing on her path, despite the bogs and precipices.

YEARNING FOR THE SIMPLE

This weekend’s project is cleaning out and organizing the attic.  I’ve put it off for way too long.  In the interest of feeling more in control of  my life as well as looking forward at the prospect of my children resenting me after I’m gone, I decided it was TIME.

As I was rooting through “the Kids’ Corner,” I found myself rapt in memories of times long ago, good memories.  Memories of a simpler time.  Looking at special baby clothes that I’d saved made me hungry to hold a baby.  Not just any baby, but one of mine.  Michael and Jennifer were two of the World’s Greatest Babies.  Both were beautiful beyond imagination and joys to take care of.  Sure there were fussy times and scary times as there are with all babies.  But looking back, I’m beyond positive that I would do it all again.   Of course, times were different then.  There were not so many conveniences.  There were no vibrating baby chairs that would lull the baby to sleep while Mama took care of other things.  There were no microwaves to heat bottles.  There were disposable diapers but I was as stubborn then as I am now.  (And environmentally conscious too)  but real diapers didn’t work well for me and my babies each had the wicked diaper rashes as proof.  I caved in the interest of my children’s bums and used the cursed all-absorbent land-filling disposables.

But back to my thoughts of simpler times.  How did everything get so complicated in a span of just 20-30 years?  Everything has become so specialized.  Used to be if you were going to cook something, you just did it.  You grabbed a pan and turned on the stove.  Now there are tons of different kinds of cookware depending on if you’re grilling, nuking, using a convection oven, toaster oven, whatever.  It’s become a big old circus.  And yet so many of us opt for grabbing something out of the freezer, throwing a paper towel over it and blasting the living shit out of it in a microwave.  That includes vitamins, enzymes and all the other things that are supposed to be in food.  All in the interest of saving time.  And ultimately starving our bodies of much-needed stuff like nutrients.

Do you remember when soap was soap?  It was something you washed with.  Now when something needs cleaned, your choices are endless.  You have bath and shower gels, body bars, pump sprays, scrubs, liquids, lotions, beads, oils, scented, unscented, emollients, exfoliators, with and without sunscreen, vitamin-enriched, organic, yadda badda bing. I could go on but I won’t.

Used to be if you had a headache, you simply took a freakin’ aspirin.  Now, omigawd, by the time you decide what to take, either your headache is a) gone or b) has escalated to migraine level which necessitates a whole ‘nother kind of pain reliever with about a gazillion other options.

Yeah well, I was just taking a break from the attic thing and needed to let some thoughts out.  Back to the sifting and sorting.  Anyone interested in six large boxes of slightly used stuffed animals?