Archive for the ‘death’ Category

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.

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.

can you change the ending?

A friend of mine is not in great health; his time is short.

I have lost so many people in my life and my family. You begin something of a routine. It becomes necessary to continue in your daily life while you monitor the person who is leaving theirs. Routines help us cope. Knowing the ending is difficult but you still must keep moving forward, toward that difficulty.

It’s almost like a movie you love, but cry when you watch. You enjoy the good parts yet you know the worst is to come and regardless of many repeats, you will still cry. You love that movie.

Family and friends gather in a hospital. It is a kindness for them to come to a grim place like this. They want to pay their respects to the family and the friend. It is true respect. That respect carries through a funeral service. You do not attend a funeral for the person who is gone. You attend for the family to see how valued their beloved member was in life. It is respect.

When my mom passed away, I was determined to have a gathering of the fun and joy she created. Several people were kind enough to relate their stories of time spent with her, laughing or being amazed. Everyone in the chapel laughed, even though many of us had to give into our tears. My mom was always laughing. We said good-by in style and I know she enjoyed watching.

Because of my mom’s service, I do my best to attend those for my friends. I go because the family deserves to feel their loved one touched many lives. Respect.

I was talking to a friend today about respect. Specifically we were sharing the importance of being certain our next generation of women learns respect. So many lives change due to a lack of respect. Naturally, you cannot respect others until you respect yourself. Young women are especially in need. Our society still operates on ages-old routines. Many continue to make young girls obsolete in favor of young boys. Women will always be necessary because we give birth. However, young girls have consistently been pushed to the back. If these young girls do not learn their importance while they are children, they will have a more difficult time standing firmly for themselves as adults.

Our school systems believed that young women could not really grasp math and science. Astonishing. My father did not think a girl needed college. He pushed my 3 brothers to attend, even though none of them did well in high school. For me, it was not an option. He decided I would just find a husband. This idea is still alive and well in many families even though women are now more than half of the workforce.

Once a young woman values herself, she begins to expect equality in her life. Men do it so easily but women have to be taught by parents, teachers, and relatives. We need to change this. Once done, I believe many teen pregnancies will be avoided. When a young girl realizes she has more in life than to ‘catch a boy’, her options open fully. Once open, they rarely close. This has nothing to do with being pushy. It has everything to do with pushing yourself. Respect.

Being strong and respecting yourself means there is no sign of weakness to tears. Crying when your soul aches is a sign of love felt. You can only be as happy as you have allowed yourself to be sad. The valleys and peaks must balance. That is respect you owe yourself in life.

I wish for women. I hope for humanity. I pray for leaders who will make rules. I do not know how this will end. Movies and books cannot tell me. I have to play it out to the end. Nothing can foretell this.

How much do I wish I really knew? I wish I knew. Sometimes knowing the end isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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.

Can you do this?

I find myself surrounded lately by people who ‘enable’. What is happening here?

My hairdresser is enabling her son and his family. My younger cousins and nieces, nephews are enabling their children. My great attorney friend enables his kids, who have their own families. And if you ever watch something like ‘super nanny’,  or ‘wife swap’ you see constantly that families are afraid of their own kids, when it comes to discipline.

When that generation matures, who is going to give them this leeway?

I have a tendency to view these things in terms of pets. If you die, who will take care of your pet(s)? Just think for a moment. If you have pets, who will they go to if you are hit by a bus tomorrow? You had better make those plans. We never know what is coming around the next corner.

I have a friend who cooks her own pet food. I used to feed mine a raw diet. I have other friends who hand-feed their pets each meal. Still others sleep with their pets, sometimes to the detriment of their spouse.

Here is my concern: if you die, will anyone do all that? I doubt it. If someone is good enough to take in your pet, they will have done more than enough, giving your beloved pet a warm place to sleep and food when needed. They won’t hand feed, they won’t cook and bake, they won’t chop up raw veggies. Once I began to think of this, I stopped that.

Now, my pets get pet food. Plain and simple. Just like everyone else would give them. If they get a better deal: super. But, if they just get a place to ‘sleep’ and food and water, I don’t want them to have any more agony than they already will, wondering where in the world I am. I think it’s better for my pets. And heaven knows, it  has begun to save me time.  And, not requiring so much from friends who might be kind enough to agree to take my furry babies.

I feel the very same way about kids. If something were to happen to us, who is going to treat your 20 year old as if they were still 6? Who is going to treat your 6 year old as if they were still 2? The world does not revolve around any one of us. It certainly does not revolve around our kids or our pets. I feel as if I am keeping my pets in a low-maintenance  area in their lives, so that if needed, anyone can pick up in my absence. I feel that this is the kind thing, the smart thing, and the right thing to do.

No toleration of yelling, screaming, kicking, complaining, when the world is basically just fine. No refusal to become adults.

My wonderful hairdresser gave her son and his ‘due soon’ baby a place to stay. He brought the wife and the dog. That was 7 years ago. They now have 2 dogs, 2 kids and no money. my hairdresser, in her  60’s is supporting everyone in her retirement home. She has one bedroom, they fill 3. Incredible. She wants them to move. They have said they cannot wait to leave so that they can live life the way THEY choose. But, 7 years and a larger family later, they linger. She is enabling them. why would they leave? They give her 200 bucks a month. The own ¾ of her home. They use everything and she cleans after them. if they get ready to leave, she feels guilty. It’s backwards. She should feel guilty that they have never had to learn to support their own lifestyle. It is heartbreaking.

I used to chop fresh veggies, go to the store daily to get ‘fresh’ meat to add to the food. Nuts. I finally realized one day that if something happened to me, the cats would immediately be on death row or be given a bag of cat food. Unless, of course, I left money in my will for them (I haven’t). I prefer having them get a bag of cat food. Any food will do at that point. Pet  food.

I have a friend whose dog has only slept on the bed it’s entire life. the dog was adorable. Now the dog is huge. I stayed over there once and woke to the dog, on top of me. I was not part of it’s territory. I’m lucky it didn’t tinkle on me to mark territory. I didn’t mind too much. It was only 1 night and I love pets. But, if I inherited that doggie, it would have to learn to sleep on a dog bed or the floor or something. And, if it yelled and screamed for 2 or 3 weeks while it was ‘getting that lesson’, I might not be inclined to bend over backwards for someone’s dog that was not properly raised, doesn’t understand that the humans are alpha and the dogs are not.

Hand feeding? Quit it. Dogs and cats and everything else really CAN take pretty good care of themselves. We get in the way.  and….we are supposed to be teaching our children to interact, to get along, to become self-reliant. Anytime you see a kid blowing up, stop to think just how long a different person would put up with that. nobody does it like enabling parents.

Sleeping with your kid? Nope. I won’t. will your cousin or your brother or sister if they suddenly find themselves with your children because you died? I doubt it. They aren’t used to bending into pretzels because you couldn’t bring yourself to do the right thing.

Why have we found ourselves in a world of people afraid to let kids grow up, become responsible, have pets that understand who is in charge? What in the world happened to the generation that followed one of the greatest?

Ooops. Cat needs cuddles. I hear the screaming. Better go get her.

get a grip! no gripes.

horrible week. cannot imagine one worse yet I know another is bound to appear.

4 of my dearest friends have experienced huge loss of life. what is worse than that? before that, I was feeling very bereft, left, alone, frightened and sad. now, i recognize again that everyone has ‘something’. as my best friend said today, “you don’t have to look very far to see someone in a horrible position.”. she is so right.

3 of my best friends lost their pets in less than a week. one, is losing her husband. good heavens. I’m upset over my husband’s “stuff” and my pride and my money and divorce.  I need to get a grip.

I always say, ‘everyone has something’. when you are in the midst of it, you don’t remember that. just look around your own corner. someone is dying emotionally, spiritually or physically. someone is. I promise.

I have been helping a woman through her chemo. talk about a rude awakening. this is serious stuff. naturally, I keep my stupid stuff to myself.

so many of my friends and family are coping. we just didn’t dream things could become this grim. amazingly, spring will make all of us feel a little better. we will probably be missing someone but we will see more sunlight, watch new flowers bloom and realize that our world will trudge onward.

the most amazing part of this to me is the few people who still don’t ‘get it’. the ones who are completely caught up in their own drama, their own pain, not even seeing everything around them. that is heartache. name calling, bullying, pointing out faults, yelling, screaming, to no avail. we only diminish ourselves. I have been as guilty as the next. I keep trying though. I really do try. knowing that, I cannot discount that others are probably trying as well. we just see things at different times.

let’s pull together. please. let’s just row this boat in the very same direction. our time here is short. shorter than anyone knows. some of us feel we’ve been here, done this. possibly so. doesn’t matter. everyone is struggling with the very same issues and problems. we all deserve a break. we all deserve love. we all deserve a chance to improve.

I’m trying to improve. hard to imagine I could be better, but I’m gonna try!

call me anything

I had a great visit with a wonderful woman over the weekend. she is my stepdaughter.

We have been through so much together. When I met her, she was in 2nd grade, now a sophomore in college. the years have been amazing, the changes incredible.

We laughed about her different ‘phases’, the extreme shyness, the necessity of goth, the girly-girl times, the dates and the heartaches. She is slated to be more a friend now than a daughter and I’m fine with any circumstance. I love her dearly.

When we met she was going through the demise of her family unit. Her parents had divorced but in her mind hope was always intact. When her dad and I married, she was not pleased. It was very difficult for both of us. I had worked with children all of my life, as a volunteer in various areas. A single professional woman, I had never married so had no children of my own but really loved kids. I was always the favorite aunt, the neat ‘mom’s best friend’, the fun next-door neighbor to kids but never a mom. I proceeded slowly, getting into her life. Her dad wanted to rush us but I knew better. Still, she was rushed and it hurt her. I was unwelcome. For the first time in my adult life, a child did not want a thing to do with me. I was so surprised,  hurt, and confused. I tried everything,  I thought.

What I finally had to relent to was the unvarnished truth. After a particularly bad visit I was finished. I had no thoughts of trying further. By this time she was a freshman in high school. She had done some unforgivable thing and I was shattered by the memory.

When she came back, I invited her to have a talk. I laid my cards on the table. I loved her. I had worked very hard to love her. It was not something that just happened because I married her dad. It was a conscious decision and I had to be certain it took. I loved her. I would do anything in the world for her. I was so sorry about her parents’ divorce and her upheaval but I had nothing to do with any of it. I was also a child of divorce and knew the pain. I simply married a man I had fallen in love with. A divorced man. And she came along with the package.

I asked her to please tell me 3 or 4 things I had done to cause her pain, to hurt her, to make her angry. I wanted to know so that I could try to improve but I was fatigued with being treated badly and being unwelcome in my own home and life. I did not intend to allow any more ill treatment. She cried. She explained that it was nothing I had done. She said I had always been wonderful to her. She knew I loved her. Then she said it was not me, it was what I represented: that her parents were really over.

What a huge statement for a young girl. What a truth.

We both cried, held each other for the loss each of us had suffered and for the mending we were needing .

After that day, we went into sync. Our relationship began to flourish. We had both learned huge lessons. I believed I had known just what to do with my new kids, to help them like me and then maybe love me. Yet, I could not have really understood their feelings. I wasn’t them, they weren’t me. We all had to navigate this together and mostly, we had to be willing. One person in a relationship cannot maintain without the other being engaged.

She is a young woman and I am an older lady. We have 15 years’ history. We have a relationship that will continue in some version even though we will never again live near each other and even though she is now watching her father move out of my life. She is something of a niece to me now. A friend. A daughter of a friend. My daughter. She is important to my life. She needs no label. Neither do I.

We have love, respect and enough history to understand each other. We have continuity. How lucky is that?

A Picture is Forever

The Division of Licensing has been beating me. This has caused me great angst because although they are not as official as many agencies, they DO control my ability to operate a vehicle. Additionally, many businesses require your driver’s license to identify yourself. As we move toward the obvious, a public identity card, some states have already declared that a driver’s license is not an identity card. Interesting. Nor is your social security card.

I just want to drive.

I went to the license office almost 2 months ago, all geared up to take the written test and get a new license. Did not work that way at all. They said I just needed to hand in my old license, prove my identity, get my photo taken and I would be finished. They did not even care if I could see. They did not care if I knew the driving regulations in their state. Seemed excessively easy.

I had looked at their website, learning what I might need to take along for ID. The website examples are to bring a utility bill in applicant name, to the correct home address. A passport not expired longer than a year. A military ID. A federal employee ID. A current driver’s license from another state. They offer many identity choices. Two very long lists of them. I have never had a problem proving who I am so I did not expect a problem here.

This is something with which few men will identify. My name is Dorothy Alexa Marguerite Conway. Society puts women in a spot after they marry. People in quite a few places can actually change a woman’s name, to make their filing system work more easily. When I married, I was 50 years old. I owned several houses in my name, owned my car, was buying another home, in my name, was an officer of the court, in my name, had 4 passports (you know, my name). So, since I already had 4 names, did I want to add a 5th? No, I really did not. My name was so long that no government office or form would accept it as it was. Therefore, someone (a typist) would make a decision to shorten my name. Think about that. Long name. 3 of the names can easily be misspelled. As a result, the typist usually drops a name. so, I have ID that shows me as Dorothy M Conway, as Alexa M Conway, as DA Conway, as (my favorite) DAM Conway, as Dorothy Alexa Conway. There are more, believe me. So many combinations available. I have too many names. I have never had a problem proving who I am, getting licenses in several states and territories.

This was easy. I went in with my current driver’s license. It identifies me as Alexa M Conway Smith. Yep. Smith. Why? Well, because a well-intentioned young woman in Oregon added Smith to my last name, without proof of my identity, without a marriage certificate, without any substantiation that I had increased the size of my name. She recognized my husband, and then she just did it. When she handed me my Oregon license, it said smith, behind everything else. I gulped. I was looking for the first time at a name that was foreign to me. My brand new husband was standing next to me, beaming. She was beaming. I was silent, not wanting to hurt him or her. I thanked her and we went on our way. Today I would like to have her take that name off my license. Not just because he is having a very public affair. Not because we are heading toward divorce. Not even because smith is such a common name and it increases the difficulty of my identity. Nope. Just because it was never my choice and because I liked my name just fine and it irks me that a woman is so easily re-identified in this society. She did not change HIS name to conway-smith. Only mine. Uh huh. I am one of those.

So, the license office here did not like it that my name was smith on my license but not on my social security card. Well, duh. I never legally changed my name! But, you know who did? My health insurance company. Someone there decided that I would be easier to find if my last name was the same as my husband’s. Just like that, my records all went to smith. So now, I have to help them find me. Sometimes it is conway-smith, sometimes its smith. We never know. It is an Easter egg hunt. Then, amazingly, my insurance company that handles my auto insurance, my homeowners insurance and my credit card, began to call me conway-smith. Wow. Another ‘somebody’ just decided it was easier. The first time we got our insurance cards, after I added my husband to my accounts, the cards came in my name, with his name listed afterwards. He had a fit. This did not work for him. It was my account. Everything had been mine. I added him to my accounts. Now, he was mad because things came in my name.  I had to call them, asking that they put his name on things equally. The woman I spoke with completely understood. I explained to my husband that women deal with this all the time and he really should put his ego in check. It was not a big deal. He would have none of it. Therefore, when she put his name onto my accounts, she also changed my name. Again, I was stunned. I was also conway-smith.

I am at fault here for not fighting for my identity. However, I married for life. I knew I could handle the little upsets that might come along with the name situation. Now, things are different. I do not like seeing his name on my things. It hurts. I do not like the feeling I get, knowing my husband is living with someone who decided my marriage was not as important as her wants. I want to be rid of the ‘Smith’ stuff. However, that is a personal issue. Right now, I just want my new driver’s license. This is a fight.

I arrived in the licensing office with the following: my current license, an expired passport (the latest one was in an envelope, headed to salt lake city for renewal), a federally issued photo ID, two bills (utility and trash) mailed to me, at my home address, my auto insurance card and policy, in my name, at my address. Armed for anything, I took a number and waited. They would not accept my ID.

I went back 3 days later, better armed. This time I was carrying 3 passports, including the one that had been in the envelope to be renewed. This office caused an urgency I had not experienced in a very long time. I also took my airline ID, federally issued, with my photo. I took my court photo ID, 4 bills, a letter from the IRS written to ME, at my home address, with my social security number, and my full name and they would not accept it.

I went 7 times. By now, the people recognize me by name. Nevertheless, they will not accept my ID. Finally, I won. They took my photo and sent me on my way, promising my new license would arrive by mail w/in a week. I was happy/sad. Happy to accomplish this, sad because I had given up trying to look good in my photo. The first time I had arrived straight from the hairdresser. Looking as good as was possible for my age. As the visits continued, I began doing less and less about my appearance, knowing that today was not going to be my day.

I decided whatever picture I had was fine. It was not. Nevertheless, I still felt good about the achievement. That feeling lasted 3 weeks. By then my license was long overdue. I had travelled to Florida to help my aunt Dot, with a flimsy little temporary license that caused much dismay to the airline screeners. Their dismay caused lots of searching on my personal being.

I had no license waiting when I returned. I began to fret. I started calling the licensing division. That’s fun. It is also fruitless. I scoured their website for information and actually found a link that says contact us here if you have not received your license! What foresight! I ‘clicked’ and wrote. I sent my full name, address, date of application, old license number, and state, last 4 digits of my social. 3 days later I got a note back informing me that I needed to send my name, address, last 4 digits, date of application, old license number AND new temp license number. Otherwise, no help for me. Incredible but people NEED jobs and without this time consuming effort on her part, she might not appear to be as employable. I found the last puzzle piece and sent the note back.

She wrote. She did not like my ID. I would not receive my license. Noooooooooooooooooooooo. I wrote again, begging, offering meals, trying to be her friend, trying to learn anything that might help me work through this latest glass ceiling. No good. She finally told me to go to the social security office, change my name, get a new card, then start the process again. Amazing. This is where we live. Amazing. They all know I am really ME. Nobody will make a decision.

Today I went back. I was fully armed. Now I carry things in a large overstuffed envelope. I learned online that the office has an ‘identification specialist’ who has the authority to make a decision.

I went to one of ‘my people’, asking for the identification specialist. She was very nice. Sorry to learn I had not gotten my license. She was also perplexed that I had actually corresponded with someone who could supposedly help. She questioned me about that frequently. I kept explaining exactly where to find it on THEIR website. I was getting nowhere. Then, I began to cry. Really cry. One year ago, my dad passed away. It has been on my mind. Maybe that spurred the tears but my frustration level over them refusing something so basic, simply because the person making the decision can ‘choose’ to ignore the obvious, has beaten me down. I need them. They do not need me. I do not want to break the law but I WILL drive. I MUST drive. I am alone. I need things. Driving is the answer.

Two men began to eves-drop and move in closer. The customer next to me dug out a Kleenex. By now, I was well into the ‘ugly cry’, no stopping me. Two more men, one who had helped me several times, became part of the ‘employee circle’. Everyone is questioning and trying to help. Finally, one man (maybe he was actually the Identification Specialist!) made the decision. I would get a license! I was beyond thrilled. I asked him out for drinks immediately! He had the good sense to ignore me.

Therefore, I am waiting for my new license to appear in the mail. I know what you are thinking: why would this time be any different? What makes me think it is actually going to be sent, when that ‘person’ is lying in wait to refuse me? I will tell you exactly why: because they took my picture again, because I looked like shit, because I had not washed my hair or put on make-up, because I had sobbed, let my nose run, and had a horribly red face. Yes, this license will come. This picture will follow me for years. Forget the name, forget the hassle, and forget the 8 trips to DOL. It is all about the picture. I have never looked worse in my life. One guy offered to take me to a beauty parlor across the street to let them ‘try to fix you up’. One of the male employees actually said “Alexa, (like we’re good friends), do you have any makeup in your car?” when ‘the picture guy’ got ready to take the picture, he looked at me and asked if I needed ‘a minute’. I was crying! I said ‘a minute’ would not do me a bit of good.

This license will arrive. I won!

are relationships built on suffering or friendship? does one lead to the other?

This season mostly cars and coyotes have hit the deer hard. as more and more housing is pushed onto former farmland, too many cars are on the road where once a slow country road existed.

I have always enjoyed watching the wildlife in my yard. It’s such a treat to be able to observe so many things and learn from nature.

a few weeks ago a neighbor called me. as we chatted she said, “I’ve seen too many dead bambi’s this year, hit by cars down our hill.” I concurred and we wondered aloud how the mother deer cope when this happens. oddly, you don’t really put our emotions into wildlife. they are animals. they are wild. they don’t talk to us about feelings so I guess we often decide they don’t have feelings, other than physical pain.

this season we had 2 moms with new babies. a young doe who had one bambi and another doe, a year older, who had twins. I’ve written about watching the babies all play and challenge each other in my yard, mom’s letting them get the lessons they will need, but close enough to protect if necessary.

one day, all of us noticed another young bambi, lying beside the road, hit by a car. you can’t help but feel sad. the deer were always here. the builders have put up fences, forcing the deer onto a curved road, on a hill. a recipe for disaster and disaster is met repeatedly.

we wondered to whom the bambi belonged. I learned very quickly that our doe that only had the one baby this year was now alone. that was difficult. what I watched unfold made it worse. the doe who had the twins would not allow this young mother to be around now. whereas they used to all be in the yard together, now the mom with the twins would run the other doe away. I felt so bad for that mom who had just lost her bambi.

putting my emotions into a wild animal. I know better. I admit freely that I have no clue if the mom even remembers her baby was killed. I have no clue.

watching this kept haunting me. finally, I realized I was remembering a mean neighbor from my childhood. she was just plain unpleasant. I told my mom about her and my mom just told me to ignore the woman but to stay out of her yard so she wouldn’t have any reason to complain. all of the kids in the neighborhood knew she was a meanie. we talked about her as we passed her house, some of the boys were taunting, showing they were brave.

we heard that she was pregnant. Well, that seemed weird. she hated kids; why would she want to  be a mother? this turn of events completely stymied our innocence. a few months later I overheard my mom talking to another neighbor. they were planning to take some food over to this ladies’ house. that night my mom explained that the woman had miscarried. I really didn’t comprehend that, I was in 5th grade. my mom explained that the neighbor wasn’t pregnant anymore and that actually her baby had died. then she told me more: this was the 4th time this same lady had lost a baby. my mom told me that several of our neighbors kept their distance from this woman over the years and that bothered my mother. she explained that sometimes when someone in your life has severe heartache, people pull away. almost as if you can ‘catch’ that heartache if you get too close.

everyone felt sorry for her but I was still angry over the way she had treated me and my friends for over a year. why would she want kids if she was mean to all of them?

my mom became a friend to this neighbor. she told me later to always try to look inside people more, to understand why they act the way that they do. she told me that I would probably find a really good reason and it was probably something to do with personal pain.

the neighborhood rallied to this neighbors side. they took turns bringing food because she was still in bed. it turned out that she would not have the opportunity ever again to have a baby. everyone felt sad about her pain. everyone did things to try to comfort her and her husband. when she finally began to venture out, the neighborhood went out of their way to encourage her. through such severe pain she gained friendships and support she had missed before. my mom said people were feeling guilty, trying to make up for their attitudes toward this lady for so many years. sometimes pain brings people closer, even though that pain is what pushed them away in the first place.

I thought about her over the years, wondering how her life turned out. again, I was a kid, still learning that not everyone has a baby just because they plan.

yesterday I saw the doe. as I watched, I saw one bambi. I went onto my deck, looking for the other. they can hide so easily. then I saw another deer. I still saw no bambi. just the one, missing the twin. that was when I realized that we had lost another bambi. I’d been hearing lots of coyotes the last couple of nights. this disturbed me so much that I stayed on my deck for about 15 mins but the twin never showed.

today I saw the doe again, with the lone bambi. I saw the other doe too. I watched because she had not been allowed in the yard since she lost her baby. now I had 3 deer, one a baby and 2 adults. as I watched, both of the mothers began to walk toward the bambi. I knew someone was in for it. then, together, the two older deer began to wash and groom the little ‘left-over’ bambi. both of them. I was astonished. somehow there was no longer animosity between these two mothers. I continued to watch, mesmerized. then, the bambi began to lick the mom, then the ‘other mom’. it was beautiful. the three survivors. I no longer knew which mom was which.

maybe the mom who had the twins had been threatened by the mom whose baby was lost. I don’t have any way of  knowing. you can’t put human emotions onto wildlife. I just know that today, the two moms who had lost a child each were able to co-exist again.  I guess it was their way of bringing food over to the house, offering comfort and support.

sometimes it takes true pain to give birth to friendship. sometimes you feel it’s ok to allow someone in if they have suffered in a way you can understand. of course, you can’t give human feelings to wildlife.