Archive for the ‘loss’ Category

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.

Walking in shadow

Another  November 11.

It is a day we honor our veterans.

I revere this day. My flag is out early. Beautiful. As I am having coffee, I begin my calls. It does not take long. Many of my veteran relatives have passed. We are losing such an important generation.

My granddaddy served in WWI. He was always so proud of his service. He was a very soft-spoken man. I have his casket flag in a case, on my wall; with a commemorative, ‘plate’ that was evidently popular at the time.

My step-dad, James Wells, passed last year. He served in the Philippines. I had always called him to thank him for his service. He was always embarrassed that I would even mention it. His brother, my uncle also served. Horace Wells was a diver, tasked with finding explosives around our boats, ships, and subs. He passed away 2 months ago.

My father, Frank Conway served in Germany, in the occupation and in Korea when the war was hot. He was an aerial gunner for a time. They had a very short life expectancy. The Army sent him to OCS (officer’s candidate school) and his entire platoon shipped to Korea without him. Enemy forces killed the entire platoon the day they landed. He has never come to terms with that.

He is proud of his military service. His very large family also had veterans. They were all Navy. Dad went Army. His father missed the civil war by less than 10 years.

When I look at this history, I feel awe and pride.

My brother, Larry Conway served 2 terms in Viet Nam. He came home wounded. He is proud of his service, but he will never be the young man we said good-by to in Jacksonville when he was 19. Larry holds himself responsible for a young man who did not come home from an air mission. The 2 crew -members were shot down, KIA and Larry felt responsible. My opinion was that a wonderful angel pushed my brother out of the way. I am grateful. He is ashamed.

Our wounded are coming home in record numbers. Now they include more women than our system is accustomed to accommodating. With that in mind, I now take ‘women magazines’ to the VA centers. I take them books that I have enjoyed, gardening and fashion magazines, anything I think they might have been missing during the last year or two. It is no longer a man’s world. It is our world. Everyone’s’ world.

We owe honor to so many.

head games

Wishes were granted yesterday. I had my head examined. I was overdue.

Testing was intense. 5 hours of sitting in a small office, doing all types of things to show how my brain works, if at all. This is necessary because of several brain injuries and Alzheimer’s is being rampant in my family. As I prepare to move, I need to plan based on my hope to live independently.

My good fortune is finding humor everywhere in life.

The man (psychologist) was just as you would expect. He ‘tried’ to be fun, but is, after all, something of a scientist, anal, orderly, and controlled. My polar opposite.

While I took tests, he observed and surreptitiously scribbled secret notes. I asked if I might please have some water. He grabbed a coffee cup and obviously saw the horror on my face as he started to fill the dark brown-stained cup for me. He stopped. I had not meant to show my concern. I must have been fatigued. He said, “This bothers women,” pointing to the stains inside the cup. I agreed (wholeheartedly). He said, “It doesn’t bother men, why does it bother women?” I told him that most of us would fear the cup was not clean. I went on to say my brother had a heavily stained coffee cup. He carries it with him everywhere. Once, without realizing my transgression, I cleaned it. Thoroughly. I did the old ‘Polident’ tablet in the cup, twice. Then, I took a scouring pad to the offensive stains. The next morning, after putting it through the dishwasher, I proudly handed him his pristine cup. He asked what I had done. I told him I had just cleaned it, as if it were no big deal.

My brother left. When he returned, he had a new cup. He did not openly complain. After a year or so, his new cup looked just as bad as the one I had spent hours cleaning. He was happy again. I had clearly ruined his cup. I learned the lesson.

This man across from me asked if I needed a different cup. I said no (I lied). After another section of testing, he asked me how to remove the stains. Amazingly, men know that women fight stains. We get no extra salary for this. We get no recognition but men know we fight stains. We are wonder women without the snazzy costume and lasso. I told him to put a Polident tablet in it.

The look on his face was so odd. He almost looked embarrassed. Then he explained that he does not wear dentures. I smiled slightly and leaned over the table. I said, “You know, it’s interesting. You are allowed to buy them anyway. ‘They’ don’t even check.” He just stared at me. I could see I was not getting through to him. So, l leaned in a bit further and said, “In Texas, men are even allowed to buy sanitary napkins.” That did it. He broke. He laughed. He saw the humor.

We went back to the testing.

Two hours passed, immersed in the paperwork and the various tasks I was given. He finally saw that I needed a break. He told me I could take 10 minutes. I almost felt as if a lock was taken from the chain that held me in place at that small table. I bolted.

When I returned, I carried a large cup of coffee, extra shots. He was noticeably concerned. I apologized for bringing something into the exam room, assuming that was some sort of ‘rule’. It confused me, though, because we had been sitting there, drinking water from cups. He explained that the testing materials were very expensive and spilling coffee on them would be a problem. I was mortified that I could not be trusted with my cup of coffee, even though I am not known for being sloppy with beverages. Each time I took a sip, he watched carefully. It was an agonizing drink. During the time I consumed it, he explained twice more the expense of the materials. I knew I was on thin ice.

He turned a page in my booklet in front of me. There was crayon all over the page ahead of it. I asked how crayon got on this expensive booklet and how he could possibly expect me to use it, thus ruined. He was serious: “children are not easily controlled.” He went on to explain he had tried to get the crayon out of the page, to no avail. He asked if I might know of a way to remove the crayon. He asked if I needed a new booklet. He simply cannot help himself. He is a serious type.

During one part of switching materials, I asked him how long he had been married although I felt certain he was divorced. He did not want to share that information, which was fine. He DID mention that the crushing blow to the union was the desire of his wife to have a pet. He explained that a pet means there would eventually be a pet hair somewhere that it “doesn’t belong.” I had enough of a mental picture and needed no other explanation.

As we were reaching the end of the testing, he was rushing me. We were behind schedule. I realized what a huge transgression that was so I was doing my best to accelerate. He announced that we would not be able to finish but he thought he had enough to complete his analysis.

As he rushed me to the door, he explained that I would need to return for his results. We made another appointment.

I am edgy about the results. I am hopeful but recognize it is just going to be my life and I cannot control the outcome too much. I want to take a piece of cat hair. I just can’t help myself.

Independence Day

I had a dream about my mom last night. She passed away several years ago. Any dream of her is a treat, even when the news delivered is not fun, I still had the opportunity to be with my mom again.

I dreamed that she was helping me pack. It was not a great time. I was moving to a small efficiency apartment, for the rest of my conscious life. She explained to me that eventually, as I already recognize, I would be ‘discovered’ and moved to full care. Alzheimer’s disease is rampant in our family. I have suffered 4 severe concussions. I know my limits.

The dream was daunting. I finally saw my future and it was not great. A small efficiency. That meant a one bedroom, one bath, small fridge and small stove, small living room. I have been here before.

When my mom left my dad, she left with one suitcase. Many in my extended family have never understood this. We were a military family, living abroad. The military person controls everything in the family unit. My mom and dad had been married 26 years. She left with a suitcase. Her allowance was 40 pounds. Think about that. Everything they had acquired together was under his control. As I look at my bleak-seeming future, I sense her immense fear. My mom never faltered. In my eyes, in my brother’s eyes, she never faltered. Privately, I later learned, she cried into her pillow.

Once she left, she went to the city in which she had spent most of her life. She got 2 jobs. She lived at the YWCA. She took the bus. She walked to work. She saved every penny.

We would have appeared to others to be wealthy. We lived in a 4 bedroom, 3-bath house, based on my dad’s high rank. We had a housekeeper, a cook. At one location, we had had a housekeeper, a cook, a gardener, a repairperson, and a nanny, on staff. It depended on where you were stationed. Therefore, we had a good life.

I joined her after a few months. Life with my dad had become difficult. She was thrilled. She bought me a ticket to fly from Europe to New York, to Florida. She met me in New York. I can only imagine the huge amount of money she spent for this. My dad did not help with the costs. He was angry that I was leaving. I had to leave.

When I arrived in New York, I had to clear customs alone, 13 years old. It was way over my head. My mom was standing in the upper levels of that most incredible terminal, JFK, watching, and dying for my inexperience. In those days, nobody helped kids alone on flights. Unheard of today but this was 1966. When we could finally embrace, it was lasting.

We got on a flight. Amazingly, it was an Eastern Airlines flight. I later flew for Eastern and had never put the two together. After a few years, my mom reminded me that we had come to Florida on Eastern. I just remember the flight attendant being so kind. We were in first class. Holy moly. The only tickets left on the flight. Mom not only had to pay to get me from Europe to the US, she also had to pay for 2 first class tickets to get us to Florida. A huge expense for a woman working 2 jobs, no car, no place to live.

We spent our first night in a relative’s home. The next day we moved into our own place. My nose could not have been higher in the air.

We lived in an efficiency apartment. It was dreadful. In my spoiled life, I had never shared a bedroom. Now, my mom and I were sleeping together, in one bed. We had a small bathroom, a very small living room, and a ‘kitchenette’. I was blown away. I am sure I was not grateful. She had worked so hard to start a new life for herself, then to add me, at my request. She was killing herself to make something for us both, and I was haughty with disrespect. Spoiled.

I began high school where she and my relatives had gone to school. I walked. I had been driving in Germany. You got an international license when you were 14, so driving at 13 was typical. We were poor. I did not remember ever having been poor. It was very hard to accept this new life. I was a teen, attending my junior year of high school.

Women do it all the time. Women are financially bereft by divorce. It is a government statistic that women never fully recover from the devastation of finances after divorce, unless they re-marry, gaining financial stability. Incredible situation. It still exists.

My mother was killing herself working, walking, and paying for an apartment because I could not live with her at the YWCA. The sacrifices she made were lost on me. I was a junior in high school and suddenly poor. This did not bode well for me becoming popular. Spoiled.

When my mom retired, at age 52, she was almost a millionaire. She and my step dad had amassed a great retirement. She was a whiz at investments and she saved every penny. I appear to have inherited that trait and I am so grateful. They had no debt. They owned 15 acres and a custom home. They raised cattle and had an active solar home. It was 1978. She had done it without help from my dad. He kept all of their furnishings, all of their money. They split a piece of land. She did it alone. Grit and determination should be named Marguerite. She did it. When she married my step-dad, he had never owned a checking account. He lived on a cash basis, renting a room in a woman’s home. He and mom loved each other dearly. She was in charge of the finances and served them both very well.

On this day of our country’s independence, I think of my mother. I think of my future and the way she would have had no nonsense about my next step. Living in an efficiency apartment, a trailer, on your own terms has no shame. You have earned your independence. Embrace it.

what did that cost?

I am selling everything. Ok. Almost everything.

I consider myself to be ‘divesting’. It is all very odd and different since I spent much of my life ‘collecting and holding’.

I wrote once about letting things go that you hold due to love and memories. I still adhere to that lesson. I recognize that ‘things’ are not people and ‘memories’ are not ‘things’. Therefore, I get the fact that by letting things go, I have not let go of people and memories that are important to me.

I am in new territory. Things I have owned and used for years and still see huge asset in owning. Point here is someone else should own them. I have had my time.

I have a shelf unit. My husband hated it from the get-go. During a time of particular stress in our family, I moved in with a relative to help him save his house. This shelf unit was almost our “un-doing.” The fight about this dumb thing was huge and scarring. My dad came to me one night, explaining that he could ‘cut the bottom of the unit’ to make it go to the basement and fit. That was heartbreaking to me. Nevertheless, I was the intruder. Saving the house did not mean I was welcome. We cut the poor shelf unit. Nobody would ever know it had been changed. I lamented. It was my custom-built shelf unit.

When my husband realized I was bringing it along to our marriage, he balked. I was surprised to recognize his dismay over my shelf unit. It has a drop down desk in the center, beautiful oak, cubbyholes, and all of the shelves fit onto dowels so you can mix, match, and create any design you desire, with your changing needs. What’s not to love? I just did not understand his upset. It ended up in our daughter’s bedroom. She could use the desk. She had lots of books and stuffed animals. It worked. We moved again and it was too tall for the ‘basement’, which we refer to as the ‘lower level’. I allowed it to be cut, again. Again, I am the only person aware of the cut. This thing has been impervious to pain.

In one place I lived, no wall was long enough for this unit. Therefore, I disassembled it. I put the desk into my bedroom and used the two rectangular shelf units in the living room, on each side of my picture window. Worked just fine. Perfect. I do not see the problem with this unit. Every time I move, and I have moved 6 times since I got the unit, I just work the puzzle of the thing to manage my new space. However, in the meantime, since it goes together immediately, sitting on dowels, I can get about 16 boxes off the floor, to create space. When you move, that is a huge deal. I love this unit.

Now, I am divesting. The shelf unit no longer suits my life. I know I will miss having the ability to get so many boxes off the floor in my next apartment or house. That was always a lifesaver, making a pathway through so many boxes. But. I have grown. I do not use 70’s shelf units anymore. The fact that this is relegated to the ‘basement’ of several houses says everything. I am letting the shelf unit go.

Someone looked at it and suggested $80. I almost threw up. A contractor came over, looked at it, and said there was probably $200.00 of good wood. Well, now we were talking! The problem, he explained, was how the wood was tied up with this shelf unit. Oh.

It took me another 6 weeks to digest this. I am now asking $80 for the shelf unit. Someone will get a great unit, or a bunch of good usable wood.

Am I crushed? No. I finally saw the light: I have had use of this shelf unit for 34 years. If I get ANY money for the wood or the unit, I am way ahead of the game. It is like selling a house. When you are leaving, you need to disengage yourself from what the next people might think or do. It is not longer important because you are ‘selling’, “divesting,” moving on.

I am moving. It is time. I am ready. Moreover, whatever anyone wants to buy, I will be willing to part with so that I can move forward. Looking into my past has not served me. Looking forward, to what I might create next is the only logical step I can take.

I love a bargain.

I need security

What am I missing?

I worked from the age of 16. I paid taxes, paid into social security. I gained skills, increased my income, continued to follow the rules, paying into a program that we have been warned will soon collapse.

I have seen people ‘game’ the system. I see people paid to do nothing. I see people using social security as their ‘fun money’ because they really do not need it. I see very wealthy people, still taking social security as it becomes due because they are due. I see elected officials make laws about our social security that cannot touch them. They pass laws; they do not abide by the same laws as those of us who put them into the position to represent our rights.

Today I learned that I cannot claim disability. I have a brain injury. I have 3 broken places in my back. I have a broken knee, wrist, thumb, and finger. I jammed a leg evacuating an airplane in the 70’s. That leg has caused me problems with my foot, ankle, knee, and hip. I have a broken pelvic bone.

In spite of this, I continued onward. It wasn’t hard. I was young. As I reached my 60’s it became harder. However, I was lucky. I married the man of my dreams. We agreed that I would sell my holdings, pay his debts and we would live on his earnings, which I knew would increase. I had faith and confidence in him.

Now we are divorcing.

Because I stopped working full time, stopped paying individually into the ‘system’, I no longer exist on the social security rolls. I was still working. I was cooking, cleaning, dealing with the kids, shopping, entertaining for his business connections, and keeping everything and everyone organized. In short: I was a stay at home wife. In 2010, that still means I did not work. In 2000, that still meant I did not work. Why? Every time a television program shows a man taking over the job of his wife, for just a few days, he changes forever. He is apologetic, he is apoplectic, and he is ashamed. It is WORK.

I used to say I would love to have a wife. I would love to have someone who would take care of all of the mundane chores, the errands, the cooking, the cleaning, and the crap. Everything I did not want to do would be ‘done’. Yes, a wife would be wonderful.

When I became ‘that’, I balked. It was a very difficult transition. I felt like someone had stamped ‘stupid’ on my forehead. I got little respect and began accepting that as the stupidity of the masses. I was the very same woman who had run a successful business, who kept her own home, who hired, fired, kept payroll and ran accounts. Suddenly, I was just ‘his wife’.

It took me almost a full year to come to terms with being ‘only that’. When I finally did, I began to recognize this was what so many women before me had done and I was lucky someone was willing to let me take care of everything else while he earned the most money. Heaven knows, I could not have earned as much.

Because of that, my social security stopped. Dead. Stopped. And because of that, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of dollars I paid into my account, I cannot use that money now. And now I really need it. I desperately need it. I cannot do what I did before. I cannot process my computer programs any more. I cannot count on getting up in the morning because of the headache that will not let me sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning, night after night. I cannot say I am capable of driving daily without causing harm to someone because my brain just does not understand anymore what I am supposed to do. I choose to stay put, keeping the city safe by my staying off the streets, away from that huge machine that I can still steer, but not necessarily remember the rules that govern.

I cannot be dependable. If I could, I would still run my business. If I were dependable, I would manage to vacuum my house constantly as I used to. If I could, I would not run out of so many things before I realized I needed more. If I could, if I could, if I could. I cannot.

And no help. Nothing. I am too young to draw my social security and I do not have the required credits to draw my disability because our income was lumped together and FICA paid out of the whole. Huge lesson. No wonder people complain about marriage taxes. I had no clue. I merged everything. I have nothing. I paid lots to the system to take care of myself in old age. Well, old age has arrived and it looks grim. Another old lady without income.

missing you

It is that time again and I am already deep in denial and dread. I go through this every year. I have always been great about occasions even though we hear complaints that occasions are really drummed up by ‘card companies’, like American Greetings or Hallmark. Now the advertising wheel is enormous and you become drenched with every possible occasion.

When I look at my calendar, I am surprised at all of the pre-marked dates. Secretary’s day, bosses day, grandparent’s day, teacher appreciation day. The greeting card areas are enormous now. Its nuts really but we bought right into it and now it is just a way of life.

I have tried very hard to tune all of this out. I always try. It never helps.

As a result, I really am in a fog about the date. I don’t pay much attention. Today I had an appointment that I truthfully knew nothing about. I’m under the weather but missing an appointment instead of cancelling is unheard of in my world. I will start paying attention next week. I will get back into a cycle and life will be so much better. I just need to get past the weekend.

I always miss her the most on Mother’s Day.

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.