Archive for the ‘sharing’ Category

It’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s be nice.

I love hearts and I love flowers
I love women with equal powers
I want people to live in kindness, to exist in harmony, not in blindness.

To celebrate a loving day is empty if you can’t display the goodness we are meant to show,
The acceptance of what we really know.
To offer words with candy and hearts doesn’t matter if you don’t offer smarts.

So all this thinking has gotten me down. I suddenly realize my smile is a frown. I feel so hopeless that our world is not well. I wish the politics would all go to hell. I swear to Heaven things ought to be better. It’s all up to us, not just this dumb letter.

Ode to Aging

(Sung to the tune “where have all the flowers gone?”)

Where have my eyelashes gone?
They’re so skimpy….
Where have my eyelashes gone?
I just don’t know….
Where have my eyelashes gone?
They used to flutter at everyone.
Oh, why did they ever leave? Oh, why did they have to leave?

Why do I have facial hair?
It’s sooo tacky….
Why do I have facial hair?
I just don’t know.
Why do I have facial hair?
It’s here, it’s there…it’s everywhere
Oh why has this had to be, oh why has this had to be?

Why do I snore when I sleep?
I don’t like that
Why do I snore when I sleep?
I… never did.
Why do I snore when I sleep?
I want to breathe…not make a peep
Oh, why do I have to snore? Oh, why do I have to snore?

Why don’t men have menopause?
It’s annoying.
Why should they escape that clause?
It’s just not fair.
Why don’t men have menopause?
I crawl the walls with this new cause
My hair, my snoring, my moods, my hair… my snoring…my moods…

Threw Momma from the train

My parents loved to travel. They handled their finances so well that they retired early, to enjoy their lives together and explore the country.

When I was flying, they had the ability to use my airline passes and they did. Nevertheless, they loved taking the train.

Often they would take Amtrak from Florida, through Chicago, to Colorado to see me, then onto California. They had no particular schedule. When they arrived in Denver, they always had stories from their trip, people they had met. Dad was super shy, mom was extremely outgoing. They had a blast.

I was following their trip once because this time they were coming to see me on the way home as opposed to on the front end of their trip. They had wanted to take a different route, see more countryside, and visit the Grand Canyon.

The phone rang in the middle of the night. When I answered, the connection was poor and it took me a second to realize it was my mom. She was upset. I was instantly alert. Their train had gone off the tracks in Arizona. As it jumped the track, it fell over sideways and down a ravine. After she and my dad had helped everyone they could, they began the climb up the steep slope. A young man was kind enough to let my mom use his cell phone. The connection was poor but I was at least able to learn they were not part of the group going to stay overnight in the hospital. She was so shaken. She kept saying, “We’re too old for this, Alexa, the train ran right off the tracks and down a big hill.” I realized she was in shock. Well, I was in shock. I asked what she knew about how I could find her after she got away from the wreckage. She told me that firefighters and medical people were the only ones around and she just had no idea but needed to return the phone and would call me again. She was gone. An hour later, I made coffee because sleep was out of the question. I began looking around, online and finally saw some information about the accident. My parents were there! This was so frightening.

I heard nothing for 12 hours. I was trying not to be totally frantic. I probably cancelled my business day to wait by the phone. I do not remember much about that day. She finally called again to say they had been put on a bus, taken somewhere I cannot remember, then put on a train and would be in Denver in 6 more hours. Ok. I organized myself and headed to the Mile High City to hug my parents. They had come for my birthday.

Our visit was filled with ‘what if’ and ‘thank goodness’ types of conversations. I really have little memory of that visit. We were all tired, they were so sore all over their bodies and bearing in mind that they were 70 years old, it was too much to absorb.

Being of sturdy stock, they continued their trip back to Florida on Amtrak.

My mom passed away when she was 77. Alzheimer’s had really made a mess of who she had been. My dad lasted longer than anyone expected, such a love shared and such a huge loss.

I am living in Washington State now and during a workout, I injured my leg somehow. After being misdiagnosed with a muscle injury, the MRI showed my extruded disc and broken tailbone. Well, no WONDER it hurt to walk and try to work out. I started physical therapy.

I became a regular at the clinic, everyone trying to recover from various issues smiling and saying hello. One day I arrived 20 minutes early so settled with a book in the waiting room. I was chatting with a woman and her husband, until her appointment and he left. A biker walked in. This guy was big. He was wearing his HOG jacket and lots of chain type things. His face was weathered; he appeared to be around 70. We struck up a conversation. He was wearing a doo wrap, bandana of the US flag.

I asked what he had done to end up in a place like this. He reached down, pulled his jean leg up to reveal a prosthetic leg. When he walked in, I just assumed he bent a little because of a back injury or something. I waddled for 3 years after my 3 discs broke.

I asked him how he lost his leg. He said he was an engineer. An Amtrak engineer. He derailed years ago into a creek bed in Arizona. He lost his leg under some wreckage. Tears were immediate. I asked what year. What time. The answers were already familiar. I told him my parents had been on that train. We had to hug. He apologized for my parents’ bad luck and asked about them. I told him other than shock, they had been fine, just sore. I told him my mom had passed 2 years earlier.

He told me that he does not live in Spokane but was having pain from his bike and called his doctor for referral to a specialist in the area. Incredible.

We just stared at each other, holding hands. It was odd but it was right. Then he was the one who said it. “How likely is it that I am in a city 100 miles away from my home, in a rehab clinic because of my accident, you are here, you actually ASK about me, and your parents were with me during the accident?” I had to say, “I don’t believe for a second that this is an accident.”

What a full circle moment. I asked about the derailment. Someone had sabotaged the track and a section was missing. I had not known these details, so grateful just to have my family intact physically. It was a dangerous place to jump track. He was so grateful to know my parents were not badly hurt. The derailment happened at 130 in the morning. Total darkness. It was miraculous that so many survived.

I went into my rehab appointment. When I came out, he was gone. I got into my car, started crying, and called my brother. What a story I had to share.

that yours?

Something is happening. As I progress to the inevitable, I recognize how many before me have dealt with the very same issues. I hope to show grace during my tenure.

My elders are leaving the planet faster than before. Some are great friends; some are dear family. It is difficult to endure but everyone knows the transition must come.

I keep seeing the same scenario: who gets or wants what. Even as I begin my relocation, people ‘shop’ my belongings, knowing I have to downsize. They love me. They love my things. They want my things. Sometimes I am thrilled to give things to certain friends, as a memory of our relationship. Sometimes I would appreciate people recognizing that I love these things, that I have treasured them, and that I am out of money and asking for my belongings as gifts could get a little old.

I am not being selfish with my things. I have given more business clothes away, designer clothes, evening clothes, and accessories than I ever realized I owned. I will never use these things again and I want them to make someone feel good, or happy or well dressed. Fine. I am getting rid of furniture constantly. Then, there are the collections that I need to sell to pay for my move. Friends want them, at a huge discount. I have written before that I recognize how little something actually costs when you have owned it for years. It is miniscule. There are still times that I find it a little hard on my heart to have people ask if they can have an obviously expensive item for no cost. I realize they will sell my treasure. I no longer have time to sell the small stuff. Maybe I have just had too many people ask in too short a time. I know they mean no harm. It just causes an odd feeling. I have become a thrift shop. I ask my step kids and my nieces and nephews about things they might want. I have asked my sisters. That is my choice. If I can get things to people before I pack, we both win. I think sometimes people forget that I have family to consider. I think sometimes people forget losing your favorite things does not feel as good as they feel, sniffing out a bargain.

As my relatives reach their ending, the family is already asking for things. I admit I used to have the same thoughts. I reached a conclusion years ago: I would prefer having the memories of spending time with my family. If they decide they want or need more money and I cannot help them enough, I hope they sell everything and live on the proceeds. I would be thrilled to see them well enough to take a trip around the world; selling off every single item, they own to finance it. No inheritance is necessary. It was never mine to begin with.

None of these things belongs to me. They belong to the person who actually owns them. The person who remembers why and where they purchased that item and the memory that belongs to the storyline. It is not mine. It is not yours. It is not OK to begin pestering people for ‘when they die’. I heard someone not long ago ask if she could go ahead and take a table, since she was going to get it anyway. I almost gave her my jewelry because after that comment, I was about to die right then.

No. it is not OK to ‘go ahead and take belongings that you want from someone who still wants them’.

A very dear relative of mine says that my brother, a nephew, and I are the only people not expecting things from her demise. It made her sad. It broke my heart. When I see her, I always ask about family, about where she purchased things, what the reason was. I love to see the history of items and think about when she and her husband were young and furnishing their homes. Those are cherished memories, not things that ‘would look good in my place’.

So, as I craft my new will, making lists of things that will go to my relatives who will live much longer than I care to, I try not to be offended by the things I’ve already had people ask me to ‘gift’ them. Selfish as it seems, I am still using some of my things. All of us are. They will one day be a gift. When that day comes, enjoy, appreciate, and have a kind word to say about the true owner.

Only then will it be yours. Sometimes the price is higher than expected.

Intentions and holiday schedules…..damn

Why is this so HARD???

Christmas is almost here! I realized I had not done anything productive, despite all of my great intentions. Planning no longer helps.

I needed to pack a large box, filled with wrapped presents and a Santa I was sending to a niece, from my collection (I will catch the rest of you next year—my bad). Huge undertaking. Had not started. Finally, realized time was of the essence. I spent an evening wrapping each item, and then I filled a huge box with peanuts, shredded paper, and contained everything in a large carton. Needed to print a label, make some serious ‘this side UP’ signs on the box with a fat magic market, and then get the boxes out of here.

Where in hell is my fat magic marker?

I will look later. Right now, I need to pack another box. This is for my sister. I bought her gifts 6 weeks ago and meant to wrap them. Dammit. Ok, ok, deep breath. I can manage this.

So, I have wrapped. I have packed. I have put the boxes into my car, to get to the mail center tomorrow. It is already too late to have them shipped by the post office. Time IS of the essence! It is also 3 in the morning.

Woke up too late! Had a bad night. Forgot to set the alarm. Cannot remember what I did and why I slept far too late. Not a day to drive. Too ditzy. Trying to remember what I was supposed to accomplish today. Dammit.

It is 8:30 at night. I just remembered. The boxes are in the car. Dammit.

I got up early the next day. I had a little bit of coffee, just so I can actually drive, and went to the mail center. I got there at eight. I am golden.

I came home to have more coffee. I am relieved. I am also really sick. The relief is better than the sick. Maybe I can finally get some rest.

Oh. Here is the fat magic marker. Dammit. Forgot to do the box ‘this side up’.

My packages waited at the mail center for 12 hours. Oh. Dammit.

Do you see what I see?

Happy Holidays and to all, a better night than I had.

getting older, having fun

My birthday is coming.

I have always loved to celebrate a birthday. When I lived in Colorado and had my business, I would write a poem about the upcoming event, fax it to a bunch of my friends, and wait. The poem told them that we had one month to get together, their treat, for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktails. It was such fun. For an entire month, I would see people, re-new good friendships and catch up on life around me.

In our family, we sing to each other on our birthday. Each year, usually early, the phone will ring. It will be my brother or my stepmom and dad or my best friend. Years ago, it would also be my mom and step dad, my husband and his kids. This year my aunt will call, singing. My best pal across the street and my best friend who lives in Boulder will follow. My brother will call, singing. It is a family custom, and anyone pulled into our fray knows to participate. As a result, I will have a day filled with birthday song and good wishes. I love my birthday.

The more I relocate, the smaller my birthday pond becomes. In Colorado, I had about 30 interactions, getting together with friends because of my poem. I lived in Salem, Oregon just under 2 years and never had the opportunity to be so bold. When we moved to Spokane, I was no longer running a business and my friends all became my husband’s employee group or a very few neighbors. The boss’s wife cannot tell his employees to do anything so my poem had to stop. I miss that poem and the camaraderie it created.

Tomorrow my Facebook wall will fill with birthday wishes. I will never meet most of these people. We are online friends. We grieve together when something untoward happens to anyone in our ‘group’. We celebrate victories, however small, and send well wishes and homegrown knowledge to anyone who might require a bit of help. We recognize the newly formed units of family and friends. These are important relationships to us. They broaden our lives.

My best friend across the street will take me to lunch soon. This is our tradition. Another woman who lives nearby will do the same. I have begun getting fun cards in the mail. My step kids will probably call, which I cherish and I know my ‘almost-ex husband’ will think of me with a bit of regret.

Tomorrow I will not do anything that does not appeal to me.

Instead of sending my birthday poem, people will send me best wishes online because of computerized reminders.

Naturally, I will think of my mother, losing her, missing her, thanking her for life. I will think of friends and relatives who have a significant memory tied to my special day. It is my birthday. I would not consider ignoring this date. I earned this. “And Many More”

high hopes?

I want to eat what I like
I want a drink when my long day is through
I don’t want to gain any weight
I want to look just the same as I do

I want to play in my garden
I want to watch “too much” tv
I want to fool with my computer
I never want to run out of money

I don’t want my parents to die

But I want to be brave if I must

I try not to obsess about so many things

But try as I might, it’s a bust.

So these are my hopes and my dreams

And I don’t think my list is that awful

My dreams run me crazy but I don’t really mind

’cause at least what I love is still LAWFUL!

Alexa

Let’s Pretend

Someone very important in my life is pretending. It disturbs me. That makes me question why:  not why she is pretending, but why do I let it disturb me?

She lost her husband, the love of her life. Now, she has taken up a sort of ‘cause’ to collaborate with another man, because he reminds her of her husband. The new guy is driving the family nuts. They cannot stand him. She cannot explain the attraction. I suspected. I asked. She said that sometimes she even calls him by her husband’s name, and then realizes what she has done. Fortunately, the man is so hard of hearing, he does not even know. She is paying many of his bills.

Another family member is keeping her doggy long past time. It is painful to see. The dog is not allowed outside. Ever. Will never again be allowed outside. The dog does all of its ‘business’ in the house, which is causing issues you can imagine. The dog can never be around any other dog due to an autoimmune disorder. The dog has such a small life. My family thinks it is better than putting the dog to sleep. They are continuing to search for ways to lessen the pain, to ease the suffering. My heart is breaking for the dog. My heart hurts for my family member. Prolonging the agony. I see no winner here.

Someone who used to be in my life is a chronic liar. It seems impossible to stop. Oddly, this person has high moral standards where others are concerned. He has shed people who lied. He has refused relationships with people doing exactly as he does. He pretends to be the man he wants to be. He pretends he is honorable. He pretends to be truthful. At the mere mention of a lie, he reacts negatively. He pretends.

Another person, very close to me is pretending his mom is doing well. She is not. She cannot hear, but neither he nor she will acknowledge that. She cannot remember but makes up reasons and blames others. She has begun hoarding things and creating reasons to do that. She is not well. He pretends she is.

I pretend all is well. I am out of money. I am frantic to pay my bills and find a place I can afford to live. I pretend to others that I know I will be fine. I will leave a life of luxury to live in a mobile home. My best friend reminds me that it will be the cutest mobile home anyone has ever seen. I pretend that is true. I pretend the place I park my new little trailer will be great. I pretend.

A neighbor of mine is battling for her child who is on drugs. My neighbor is a recovering alcoholic. Her husband pretends the daughter is fine. My neighbor sees the truth and cannot pretend. The daughter pretends she is clean every time she comes home to get some rest and money. Then, she leaves, buys more drugs, and pretends until she needs help again.

My parents pretend they are going to downsize. They live in an over-crowded home that they cannot maintain, in spite of the elevator they installed. They live in 3 rooms of a large home. They cannot manage much of anything but pretend they do. They pretend they will move to a smaller home and give in to age. They have pretended this for almost 15 years, when they began to look for homes in their area, slightly smaller. Now, in their 80’s, they pretend they will actually move to a 2 or 3 bedroom place, get rid of at least one car, since neither should drive anymore, and they will be fine. Neither of them is fine. They are elderly and have a list of ailments that would frighten anyone in their 40’s. Nevertheless, they pretend.

I used to pretend that love would solve anything. I pretended that one day someone would ‘complete me’. I used to pretend that my life would be different. I pretended that true love would make everything else work. I pretended that having someone to share my life with was important. That being alone was somehow sad.

When my friend lies, I pretend to believe. When my parents contemplate their move, I pretend to listen to new plans. When my neighbor says his daughter has finally learned, I pretend to congratulate. When my relative pretends her husband is still beside her, I pretend to understand. When someone tells me of love, I pretend to bask in his or her glow.

I remember how I would pretend as a child. I would pretend I was a doctor, or a nurse, or a pilot or a mother. I would pretend my future, always rosy, never difficult. I would pretend I would be popular, famous, smart, or beautiful.

When things go awry, don’t most of us pretend they will improve? I think improvement is really acceptance. At first, we cannot envision accepting the difficulty we face. Then, we grow accustomed to what life will be. Then, we recognize it did not kill us. It did not end so many things. We just learned to get along.

I guess I never stopped. I just pretend.

friends

I’ve been thinking about my friends. Learning who your friends are is important. Your friends are people you can reach for when you need to lean. I recognize how fortunate I am to count so many.

I have many friends from my airline days. These men and women have been physically absent from my life for decades. If I need any one of them, they will  immediately respond. That is friendship. I just got a phone message from one. She lives in Atlanta. We haven’t seen each other in 25 years but stay in constant contact. Her husband had an affair. Then her next husband did the same. She is living on social security, close to the bone, after marrying with houses and investments. She is now bereft emotionally and financially. She is a wonderful friend to me. We have the same pain. However, we had such fun and wonderful memories. We laugh. Everyone needs to laugh. It reminds us to live and enjoy life. We are fortunate. Sometimes we just need to remember.

I have friends from so many neighborhoods where I had homes. Manhattan, Orlando, Miami, Boulder, Colorado Springs, St. Croix, Gainesville, Salem, Spokane, Nuremburg, Munich, Frankfort, Oberammergau, Ft Knox, Redstone Arsenal, and others that I can only remember vaguely. Incredibly, I still am in touch with friends from almost all of those locations.

Now I have many friends I have never met. They are all on Facebook. According to my profile, I have 176 of them. Amazing. These men and women know of my impending divorce, know I have a cat and recently lost one, know I live in Washington and know I love to write. They know I flew, they know I care. They are my friends.

If these friends were around me on a daily basis, I wonder how much they would still want to be my friend. Am I whiny, controlling, difficult, dumb, or boring? Who knows? The beauty of this group of friends is the instant connection we all know. If I need help, look to Facebook. My friends there will immediately rally. I have seen them come together as a force whenever needed.

I have a wonderful friend nearby. We never see each other. We plan, we swear, we promise, we mean well. It simply does not happen. Like me, she is recovering from an ‘indiscretion’ from her husband, the love of her life. As he has moved on with his mistress, she has had to pick up the pieces of their lives, sell their home, and find a new place to re-start, saying goodbye to so many memories and so much pain. We ‘get’ each other completely. She is about 1 year farther down my road. It helps me to see that. I remember when I learned of her pain. Now I recognize I was not supportive enough. We all just go through the motions of help and support. We do not necessarily tie that to our hearts when we should, as friends. My lesson came later. Gratefully, she has continued to be my friend in spite of my lapse.

This is friendship. We ebb and flow. We understand and forgive. On a daily basis, it might not work so well.

As we each move through our lives, some friends come and some simply stay forever. I am blessed with both. You need some of them for a bit of time. That time finally passes and the friend needs to pass with it. They did their job. You did yours. Time to move. Time to change.

A friend just called. Incredible. We have not spoken in so long. She just asked me to come for the weekend. I am going. What could be better than a weekend with one of your dearest friends?

We have so many and they are so willing to help.

here’s to good health!

Don’t you hate it when your child is sick? They whine and complain, they ‘hurt’ but cannot explain exactly where or how, they cry, wanting more ‘mom’ time but refuse to do as you plead with them to do. They cannot understand the meds they dislike. They don’t want to be ordered about. They are not quite honest about what is at stake and how they really are dealing with the day-to-day.

You want to scream. You want to run away. You want them to grow up or let you parent. Either side would work better than what you have in the here and now.

I just visited such a household. It was difficult. Who raised this jerk? I’m sorry. I know he cannot help it. I know his mom is almost ashamed, as is the sister who had to take on the task of raising this child. However, if he will not admit something is wrong when the TV show comes on, he should not be allowed to suddenly be at death’s door when it’s time to help with the dishes or the laundry. You cannot have it both ways. Neither can a sick kid, but that’s just my opinion.

What I know is I spent a horribly frustrating time with family, some overindulgent and some just plain angry and frustrated with the attention needed by one member being under the weather. What is the solution?

The obvious one is that you wait until the illness is past. That always helps. Everyone can relax. But, what if your child is brain-injured? That child will never really ‘recover’ from this illness. Those parents don’t get the opportunity to ‘wait it out’. They live this 24×7, and have no outlet unless they are fortunate enough to have a huge support group. A huge support group. Huge.

I am seeing commercials about health care. Morgan Freeman is a spokesperson for ‘something’. I get the message. We need to help each other more often than we do. I understand that volunteers are needed. I know we should be doing more for our own. What I do not have the answer to is: how?

How does the normal family get the much-needed help when someone in their household is not going to improve but takes a majority of your time and energy? We are all so busy now. We have so many needs to fulfill.

I came home a crying fool. Afraid I had not done enough for my family unit. Sleep-deprived, angry, upset, scared. What I left behind is the mom who still has to deal with this while I fly away. I did laundry, cooked meals, cleaned the house, made beds, pushed meds on a kid who refused to take them, ran errands, and did medical appointments so that she could finally get a break. It completely wore me out. I am spent. Finally, home, I have no energy left. I have a full week ahead of me and don’t know how I’ll manage it. Tomorrow she starts with more doctor appointments, meal prep, housework, and laundry. Taking the medicine we need is not easy. He needs medicine. She needs rest, medicine, and they both refuse it because they are not capable. He needs to be fed and clothed, not simple. He wants things his way; she wants him to wear his underwear UNDER his clothes, not on top. She wants him to eat and is exhausted with the work that entails. He will not drink his juice, wants specific foods and because he is not well, she wants to provide but is close to illness herself as a result.

When I left, we all cried. I promised to come back soon. I always make that fruitless promise. I cannot afford to keep flying there but these people are so important to me. My family is so scattered. Travel is expensive and of course. I have to pay someone to care for my pet, my home, my routine, in my absence. Money. Medical. Misery. What in the world is happening in our lives? Who should be taking care of this, of us, of lives in illness when something has prevented us from having family members to do it? Moreover, with those family members, where do you draw the line? They cannot do everything. We cannot expect anyone to do anything. What is the solution?

Forgive my soapbox here, but why is our country continually working on a new health care program instead of making the program that our elected officials have, the national norm? Shouldn’t everyone have the same option at the same price? It certainly makes sense to me.

So, my stepmother will continue. I know she is exhausted. And the recalcitrant sick boy is my father. How does something like this happen? Until we find solutions for our family members whose mind has eroded, we are all sick.