Category Archives: Life

You Never Know

You never know when you leave home what things are going to transpire without you. You imagine life will go on as it always has. You imagine you will be missed, but that time will pass and then things will return to the before.

I knew that leaving home for two months would shake things up a bit. But things are different now; there is less to shake up. It’s only my husband and me at home. And he’d gone away and left me behind countless times. Times at sea, business trips, times at sea and now back to business trips.

I said to him, now I’m not going to be left behind. Now I go with you. “Yes,” he said. There are no small children at home anymore. I have only two cats that my neighbors are happy to feed. There is no job to request time off from. I’m a freelancer now. I work when I want. My work is portable to boot. Have WiFi, will travel.

He’s had to make one day trip so far, a meet and greet with the other Directors. “If you were with me, I’d make a weekend out of it and stay in nearby St. Augustine,” he said. I regretted that couldn’t be so. I do so want to see that city. But knowing there will be future trips to headquarters was consolation.

I thought that would be the worst thing that could happen during my time away from home. That he might have to take trips I couldn’t partake in. Sadly that proved to not be so.

While I was away, he decided to move his mother from California and place her in an assisted living facility close to our home. She’d been suffering from dementia and worsening rapidly. He found her a highly rated, top-notch place. The best that money could buy. “It’s so nice, I want to live there,” he said.

During my short trip home, I had a long talk with his sister. Explaining to her what was happening to her mother and promising that I would look after her. When I get back, I will fix up her room, I said. I’ll hang some family pictures and brighten up her room with flowers and mementos. Things to keep her grounded to today.

My husband planned to take her out for the day once she’d settled into her new routine. Shopping, dining, walks in the park. He was upbeat. She liked it there, she’d made quick friends. The reports on her were positive. She was always an ebullient personality. She’d made her living in sales. A people person.

Five days into her stay, she was transferred by ambulance to the hospital. Pneumonia it turned out to be. She’d smoked for nearly sixty years. Her lungs were weak, but she soon recovered and was scheduled to be discharged within the week. Before that could happen, she had a massive stroke. There was a high likelihood of another stroke, the neurologist said. And there would be no recovery from that.

She left us on Sunday, June 15th. Father’s Day. We all think she just wanted to see her son once more. That somehow she knew what was happening to her mind and didn’t want to live that way.

I can not wish that her life had been extended artificially. I would not want that for myself. I’ve seen too much of that kind of suffering during my Nursing days. My husband did not want that for his mother either.

I know that the room, at the appropriately named The Palace, is empty of her spirit now, but I still feel the need to go fix it up for her. I will do so in my dreams during the moments I can sleep. And in my prayers during the time that I’m awake.

I have had to hit the Prednisone bottle more often than not these past few days. My body and my spirit are torn and aching wanting, and needing, to be in two different places at once. There is no Tylenol for the soul.

And while I try to adjust to this momentous change in all our lives, I am informed that our cat, Tigress, is no longer. A sudden illness took her. It will be strange to go home and not see her welcoming shiny, green eyes staring up at me as they did for nineteen years.

Tigress 1995 - 2014

Tigress, born in my home June 19, 1995.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Godspeed, Mary

Once upon a time I met a sailor. A sailor in the making. It was a dreamy night, hot and humid as south Texas can be. I was not impressed, with the weather or the sailor.

In spite of that, a friendship developed. Almost against my will. I was not ready. Not ready. Not ready.

One day I let him convince me to visit his mother. We drove to her one-bedroom apartment in Houston. I was unsure what to expect. I was a divorcée with a five-year-old son. This sailor was her one and only son. The sun and the moon rose with him.

She accepted me with open arms. Boisterous, talkative. There were no corners in her home where dull moments could hide.

She spent that night in the living room with her son, giving up her bed for me to sleep with mine.

In the morning, unbeknownst to me, she caught her son staring at me through the partially open door. I was asleep, he said, with my long hair spread out all over the pillow. “I couldn’t take my eyes off you,” he said.

She made fun of him later that morning. Perhaps because she knew. Knew that her son was hooked.

And that she would be part of my life for 34 years.

RIP, Mary. Godspeed.

 

Mary, on her wedding day.

Mary, on her wedding day.

The Change

Over the years my fingers have gone through what I call “The Change.”

It would start with a stabbing pain, like a needle being repeatedly inserted into a specific joint. I’d be working and go to do something and the pain would make me suck in my breath and wince internally. I would not let on how much it hurt. I didn’t like letting others know of my pain (something I plan to write about later, my misplaced stoicism).

In those moments, I would squeeze the offending knuckle with my other hand to make the pain stop. The pain didn’t prevent me from doing what I had to do, accomplishing all the fine motor functions required of me. But it did make me angry that I had to deal with it.

And the worst thing was that I had to deal with it over and over again. One sad knuckle at a time.

I knew what it was before a doctor confirmed it. It was Father Time knocking. It was the life-clock ticking. It was Osteoarthritis setting in.

Once the change is complete, the knuckle looks swollen, has less mobility and it doesn’t hurt. But while the change is happening, the pain is oh, so exquisite. I don’t know why OA  picked my hands to strike first, but it did, it has. And still is.

This time it’s attacking my poor little pinkie. For the second time. Can’t remember when it got the first knuckle, but it now is engaged once more. photo (78)

The pinkie ring I used to wear can no longer traverse the length of the finger to settle where it once belonged.

The knuckle is tender all the time and filing my fingernail was a study in stoicism. But I will do my nails, dammit! RA or OA, or RA and OA, will not restrict what I want to do.

Ouch!

Coffee, Tea or . . .

My mother plied us with hot tea whenever we ailed from whatever. If tea didn’t work, it was doctor time. And even if we’d been carted off to the doctor after all, the tea still formed part of the care plan.

Stepping out the door of one little house we were assailed with the fragrance of mint, growing right beside the front steps in my mother’s herb garden. Later, in the back yard of a slightly larger house grew the tall orange tree from which my mother plucked young tender leaves. And of course there was always the mainstay, which my mother bought in bunches, Manzanilla (chamomile).

None of these brews were accompanied with the requisite teaspoon of sugar to help it go down. It was only the force of my mother’s love that made us swallow the bitterness. And though I completely understand that, nevertheless I was left with an aversion to hot tea of all kinds.

Coffee, I barely remember growing up. I know my dad had his cafecitos (with milk and sugar) and maybe my mother, too. But as an adult, though I found the aroma intoxicating, I couldn’t get with the program of drinking coffee on a regular basis.

I would only crave it when I felt bad, had a tummy ache or something else was awry. Then I would find a hot cup of coffee as soothing as a liquid emollient. A throwback to the hot teas perhaps? For though I could not tolerate the actual hot tea, I was still left wanting the emotional hug it had given me.

A few years ago, I began receiving coffee in bed. I felt like royalty, being catered to and allowed to lounge in bed half the morning. I knew I was being offered more than that cup of coffee and I accepted it, warily. A lot had happened prior to those mornings. Coffee, in a way,  was now being used as a cleansing solution. Perhaps even a bonding agent.

Whatever its use, whatever its purpose, it opened some doors and I became addicted to starting my mornings that way, filled with that ardent, flowing embrace. Now, on the mornings when it cannot be brought to me, I get up and fix it myself and then take it back to bed with me. It feels almost sinful, akin to a sensuous luxury, though not quite as sweet.

Today I came across this article posted in honor of Valentine’s Day, I suppose.  It lists several points on how to keep a relationship humming along. Number 5 made me almost choke on my java: “Know how she takes her coffee.”

Hmmm . . .

I’ve since learned that coffee is a healthy beverage, in moderation, and has some good attributes. But I never realized it could also be used as a wooing agent.

From hot tea to hot coffee. Who knew that love could be spelled in so many ways?

 

The I’s Have It

I chose a very ambitious path for myself this year and I have been mulling over my decisions while keeping my finger on the pause button. I haven’t exactly been idle, mind you. My brain has been working at a furious pace, while my body’s given the impression of languid ease. 

There are so many things to consider as you set forth on a new journey. Even if it’s a journey you imagined taking for years and years. You must visualize the twists and turns of the road up ahead. The inevitable forks in the road, forks not yet taken. Be ready to confront all, or almost all, the obstacles that will plop down in front of you like newly fallen trees. Find a way to sail over them. Wings, you must sprout wings.

Wings of knowledge. Wings of courage. Wings of faith.

I’ve been thinking about all this the past three weeks as I allowed myself to be consumed by a work of science fiction. While I let the story overwhelm my consciousness, my subconscious was left free to think, and to plan.

I was doing all my reading on my devices, laptop, tablet and even my phone. Wherever I was, wherever I went, I had my story with for me. But this method of reading provides one benefit that reading hard copy doesn’t: it allows you to increase the font to your liking, to increase reading ease.

And it reminded me that I needed to deal with one foggy issue. My eyes, or rather my eyesight. At my last check-up I was given a clean bill of health. Mechanically speaking. Everything was working fine, or should have been if not for one chemical variable, Gabapentin.

It was prescribed for me to treat nerve pain when I was diagnosed with shingles back in April. (Can it be almost a year? Where does the time go?) I was to take it three times a day and I did. Initially.

I was copyediting a manuscript at the time and racing to completion when all this occurred. It was through sheer grit that I managed to complete the project on time, although the author was quite supportive and understanding.

As time went on, I noticed things were starting to get really blurry. Until one day (duh), I decided to check the prescription flyer for the side effects. And there it was, in the tiniest print possible: may cause blurry vision.

Aha!

I cut my dosage down to once a day, and since it also said it caused drowsiness I took the dose at bedtime. Things seemed to clear up after a while, but not as clear as I would prefer. I blamed eyestrain, too much reading, too much computer time.

But here I was facing even more computer time, even more writing, rewriting, revising, editing and proofreading on hard copy. So while I read the sci/fi saga, my brain said: Stop.

And I did. I stopped my nightly dose and have solely continued the B vitamins also prescribed for the nerve pain. Nerve pain that by now occurs only rarely, knock on wood. Shingles leaves you in fear of its recurrence. But I say fear begone, because now on a clear day, I can practically see forever!

***

What have I been reading?

 

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Ooops report: I was scrolling through and mistakenly hit the “like” button. I didn’t know you could “like” your own posts. Now I don’t know how to cancel it. Anybody know?

A Brand New Page

I’ve been known to move the furniture around too often, and without warning. The kids and the husband would come home late and bang their shins into something. Or else they’d drop their stuff on a table that was no longer there. Bump went the night.

Well, I’ve been wanting to move the furniture around in here for a bit but couldn’t decide  in which direction to go. And kind of dreaded what the aftermath would look like. There’s cobwebs behind, you know. Cobwebs and dust bunnies and all sorts of things. But there’s treasure, too. Long lost treasure.

I’d been trying to add pages to the previous format, but they just kept disappearing into the ether. Apparently that theme could not support several pages and when I activated this new format, Hello! there they’d been all the time.

So now I have to clean house a bit. Add a few decorations. Make things pretty and welcoming, I hope. Wish I could set up a mellow seating area, in blues and greens, where we could laze about with a cup of tea. Chat, about anything and everything.

Perhaps we can.

It’s my pleasure to welcome you, dear reader. Please stop by again. I promise I’ll get things straightened up posthaste.

 

Tabula Not So Rasa

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When I hear the word tablet, I imagine something I used to carry to school, made up of paper. Buying a new one, or two, was like Christmas in September. I loved the feel of those silky white pages, begging to be filled with profound words and ponderous thoughts. But then I was the weird kid who felt depressed on the last day of school. While the other kids sang no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks, I walked home dejected, scuffing my already scuffed shoes in the loose soil on the way home.

I would count down the last days of the term with a sense of increasing dread. The summer loomed hot and vast. The chore list would expand exponentially cutting down severely on my reading and writing time. For during school I could claim I was doing “homework”.

Conversely, I would count up the calendar days leading to the first day of school. My mood would swing up, up, up toward the no longer blazing sun and shopping for school supplies was way more thrilling than shopping for clothes or shoes. Who cared what covered my body? It was what uncovered my mind that mattered. And writing was one way to delve into the deepest part of my psyche. Writing was what helped me deal with the realities of life that were thrust on me much too soon.

It was always an adventure when I put pen to paper. I never knew what would materialize onto the silk that was the page. What words would spring into existence simply by the power of my mind. My parents did not understand, or accept, my need to read and write. To my mother, it was an unhealthy vice. Not only would it make me go blind, but it kept me from my never-ending chores.

My siblings did not get it. They only touched a book when forced.  Heck, my friends didn’t get it either. My girl friends were more interested in boys and my boy friends were more interested in being my boyfriend.

I was more interested in the dynamics of behavior. The observation. What made people do what they did? Yes, I was a weirdo to all. And I reveled in my weirdness. A badge of courage. A badge of distinction, for I was distinct all right. A square peg refusing to fit into a round hole. A misfit

But it appears I am no longer a misfit in my world. My family not only accepts my need to work with the written word, they support it, and most of all encourage it. Amazingly. And one concrete way of showing that was to gift me, you guessed it, a tablet.

This tablet has no pages; instead it has a smooth backlit screen. It has the ability to do just about all that my laptop can do and is far more portable. It can even hold my entire Kindle library, no mean feat, and no more running out of triple-A batteries for my reading light in the middle of the night.

Because of their faith in me and my writing, I have been trying to get comfortable with its keyboard. Their vision being that I can carry this tablet with me and write wherever I am. But this is not an easy thing to do since my fingers are used to a regular keyboard. One that is not so touch-sensitive, and one that has all the keys I need in one flat layout. One flat, longer layout.

But I am nothing if not persistent and though typing with only a couple of fingers has been hard, I have managed to tap out this entire post on said tablet. And though it’s taken triple the time, it appears to have let me probe deeper into my sentience. Perhaps because my brain was more concerned with the technicality of writing and therefore successfully quashed my internal editor for a bit.

Or perhaps it is simply the fact that I feel freer composing on a “tablet” once again. And there is much to compose for it is true that I am no blank slate. I have been written on for quite some time.

In Her Own Words

Today’s Daily Prompt: Happy Happy Joy Joy

The subject matter hits me straight in the heart. My youngest, world-weary traveler, was home for the holidays. I hated letting her go back to the frigid north, but alas, what’s a mother to do but pray. And come close to a nervous breakdown!

I wanted to write it all out and relieve myself of the increased cortisol production my stress induced, but my little writer says it best in her own words:

After 33 hours of travel, which includes three delayed flights, two airplanes, two layovers (if you count 15 hours in Boston), the longest lines I’ve ever queued in, a number of subway trains, AND one bus ride later, I’m finally settled in my Brooklyn apartment.

And she still has to go pick up her suitcase, which made the trip without her. She is in the young, invulnerable stage of life. I must do the worry duty for her. I do try to remind myself that at her age I thought nothing of blizzards and zero degree weather and try to ease back on the worry throttle a bit.

But, those hours were no fun for either of us. They lasted forever, and I was eternally grateful for the umbilical cord I still have, her cell phone.

I’m extremely happy that she is back safely after that arduous trip, but I stressed that more bad weather is coming and she must take care.

I pray that everyone in those freezing temperatures stays safe. And warm.

Peals

Many moments in my life ring in my ears
Things that I’ve done
Things I’ve not done
Words that I’ve said
Not said

I hear the voices, the conversations
Sometimes they keep me up at night thinking what if
If only
If I could do it over
If I’d had the chance to do it
Once

Sometimes the conversation is only with myself
My now self and my past self
Other times, it’s with that other person
I hear the words as I relive the moment in my head,
the voices clear as day deep in darkest
night

Some are joyous to remember
and I bask in memory’s glow
sinking deep into my pillow
as it lulls me gently into such sweet
sleep

Some have the force to make me cry
as if they were happening anew
As though time reversed itself
and sent me back to suffer pain, again
Why?

One can never know
I can never know
But I’ve learned to live
with the sounds of bells’
peals

Until this last continuous sound,
a noise which cannot be
contained,
maintained,
sustained

No, this incessant din
I will not abide
For it is naught
but an artificial ring
caused only by my
pill

 

***Tinnitus, ringing in the ears, compliments of Plaquenil.
     I’m jumping ship, until disproven.