From the Depths of My Sadness…..
I haven’t stopped in for a while and there are very good reasons for this.
First off, when Mom-Mom died, it hit me very hard. Upon the phone call, I promptly got a migraine that didn’t let up until I saw her body. I wasn’t sleeping very well at all and even my sleep aids weren’t working. I was depressed, tired and very, very testy. To top it off, the funeral coincided with a dental appointment that Hubs had been waiting for since New Years. He had all but two teeth pulled and this was the day that he was going to be molded for his new plates. Now, I understand that he hasn’t eaten well and he must be starved constantly. I understand that even after this molding, there was more to be done. But this wasn’t about him. I was hurt and felt betrayed. I stood by him through the loss of both his parents and his grandparents, as well as cousins and friends. I have been blessed to have lost very few of my own dear ones. I needed him now. Finally, all the emotional and physical pain came to a climax and I let him have it. I also cried like I haven’t in a long, long time. He got the point quickly and stepped up. He was like a body guard, not letting issues or people touch me unless I invited them in. I still walked in a daze. I missed my daughter terribly. I cried while folding laundry. I couldn’t even call my best friend to tell her what I was dealing with. I began to scare myself. I don’t think I’ve ever been so shattered.
At the funeral, as I saw Mom-Mom in her casket, I realized that it wasn’t her. She was tiny, frail. The woman of my memories was robust, a force of nature. Even in her old age, she was the same. It was just in the last few months that she began to waste away. I said goodbye and tucked a letter under her blanket. I turned away and never looked back. The pain in my head disappeared and I suddenly felt so tired. My entire body relaxed and I knew it was the stress and grief that had piled on me. I believe she took it away and told me not to look back.
And from the depths of my soul, the grief was lifted. It was to be replaced with joys uncounted.
My son had brought Logan with him to the funeral at my father’s request. The child came into the church and every tear was replaced with such joy! He smiled at everyone. He was held by one great aunt after another. My own cousins gathered around laughing that I had joined the ranks of ‘grandparent’ (only one other out of 27 is a grandparent) Dad had had the best idea by asking for the baby to attend. It was brilliance. The child fussed a tiny bit after an hour and was ready to be fed. My son did that and he was out for a nap. This was an opportunity to watch my son fully in the Dad-mode. Shenanigans had to work and he was on his own. I was so proud.
I got home from a long, exhausting day and went to bed at 7:30. I woke up at noon the next day.
In this past week, I have been flooded with only good, long lost memories of my grandmother. It makes me smile. I watched Logan Friday and Saturday. They came for dinner on Sunday. I watched Logan again yesterday. Lemme tell ya, a good baby is the best medicine for an aching psyche. I have laughed, and danced my days away. I got together with my best friend and we went shoe shopping. I put on a fun pair of plaid flats….not something that I would normally wear. I ran up and down the aisle of the store laughing. I decided not to spend the money, but she insisted on buying them for me, stating “Chrissy, if they can make you that happy, it would be a sin to deny it”.
She was ri– , ri—……..correct.
So…..after the upheaval and neglect, I expect to spend the day with my doggy boys, bathing and brushing them. I plan on catching up with laundry and finally COOKING!
Life goes on……..
Quite a Lifetime
She kept boxes of books in her upstairs guest room, the room I used when I stayed with her for weeks each summer. It was where I read the Dark Shadows series. I made friends with Agatha Christie, Alexandre Dumas and Mark Twain. I travelled to Narnia, colonial England, and the Valley of the Dolls. I found the Hounds of the Baskervilles and solved the Mystery of the Old Clock.
She never drove. Instead she told me which streets ran north and south and which buses ran on even numbered streets. She taught me so well that I can be placed in the middle of Philadelphia and I would still find my way back to her house. She taught me about trolleys, subways and buses, a lesson I needed frequently during my high school years and beyond.
She could make a hell of a roast, with potatoes that were nearly crispy outside and soft on the inside. And her Jewish apple cake was to die for.
She was active in her church, taking time from her evenings to clean the altar, prepare the prayerbooks and vestments. It was her faith that she passed on her daughters and grandkids. They now serve communion and attend rosary nights.
She had friends who never went out without makeup and drank tea, and others who smoked, drank beer and swore like their dockworker husbands. She loved bingo, pinochle, and crocheting. She was always busy with crafts of some kind until she was betrayed by her eyes, fingers and finally her mind.
She told me about my grandfather’s family. They are stories that much later, I shared with my cousins only to learn that I was the only one ever told! But then, she had shared with them stories that I had never known.
This week, my Mom-Mom passed away. All last week, I was angry and wanted so badly to lash at someone, anyone. I wanted to hit-no, HURT- someone so that they would hurt as badly as I did. I couldn’t put my finger on what was behind such aggression. When I got the phone call from my mom that Mom-Mom had died, it was like a magic wand had been waved. The anger disappeared to be replaced by relief and sadness. I finally realized that the anger had come just when I heard that Mom-Mom wasn’t doing well and had been placed on morphine for her comfort. I knew that morphine meant that the end was near. I was angry that she was being taken from me.
This week with Logan, I held him and sang to him a song my Mom-Mom used to sing to me. I held him on my lap and read to him. I imagine my own grandmother did the same with me. Now I am a grandmother. I wonder if I will live long enough to see Logan’s grandson.
Less than five years short of a century is quite a lifetime.
Mom-Mom, I’m sorry for all the things left unsaid, all the time wasted. I loved you always, and I’ll miss you terribly.
Saying Goodbye is Hard
This past weekend I spent time with a great friend and her husband.
Susan has been my friend since high school. She is Son2’s godmother. We’ve been to functions with each other’s families and friends. She was the one I thought would never get married. She always said that she didn’t want kids of her own, even though she doted on her nieces, nephews and godchildren. She surprised nearly everyone who knows her when, after six months, she married a guy she met in a bar.
We had a chance to meet Tom at Son2’s graduation party in 2004. He was a tall bruiser of a guy who looked even taller beside Susan’s five foot body. He was an ex-Marine who still worked out and wore the “high and tight”. This guy was damn good looking! He was a cop, a very large, imposing cop. Eventually, life got in the way of visits. It was difficult, between work schedules, kids and family obligations to carve out time for simply ‘hanging out’. Phone calls filled the void….calls that lasted hours, even though each of us hated talking on the phone.
Our New Year’s call brought tragic news.
Tom has brain cancer and was given three to six months to live.
We tried all summer to make time. When we had time, they didn’t. When we had time, Tom wasn’t up to it. It was so hard. Finally the stars aligned this weekend. I was a bit nervous when I considered the fact that “three to six” was nearly up. Hubs said that no matter what came up, we were going to the mountains to see them.
Friday night we drove up to the Poconos to their home and it seemed like no time had passed. This was the longest time that Hubs had spent with Tom. They were like two peas in a pod. They had a great time together. I don’t remember ever seeing Hubs so freaking chatty! They talked about politics and sports and work. Susan and I caught up as women always do. We caught up on each other’s families, looking at pictures and non-stop laughter and reminiscing. The difference was Tom. He seemed several inches shorter. He legs stuck out of his shorts as spindly little twigs. His face was bloated by steroids. But his laugh was still robust. His mind sharp as a tack. He was embarrassed by the body that has betrayed him.
Susan has always been the most laid back, no worries type of person. The Susan I spent time with, was anxious, jumpy. She made sure Tom took his meds. She got nervous when Tom nearly tripped over the dog, thinking it was his balance. We had stayed up quite late on Friday night, and Tom napped late Saturday afternoon. Susan checked on him several times. She had been told that when the end was near, Tom would sleep more and more.
This is what my friend’s life has become. It was NORMAL to nap when we had stayed up. It was NORMAL to trip over a huge German shepherd. Instead each event has become a ‘symptom.’
We celebrated Saturday. It was Tom’s “death day”. It was the official day that the doctor’s claimed he would never see. We celebrated by bar hopping and watching the Phillies game. Susan gave him a gift….a banjo. He has said frequently that he wanted to learn how to play. She found a guy at their local VFW who will teach Tom to play. The joy on his face was beautiful to behold.
Saying goodbye was so hard. Will we be able to see him again before things get bad? I truly hope to. All I know is that when the end comes, we will drop everything to hold Susan up when she needs us.
Thinking of you Dawg. Your friends haven’t forgotten……
Chasing the Dragon
“MOM! Oh, Jesus! MOM! “
My son’s voice sent chills down my spine. The last time I heard him sound like that, his best friend’s brother had died. His footstep running down the stairs accompanied his voice. “What’s wrong?”, I asked.
“Mom, D is using heroin. Oh my God, Mom! What the fuck is wrong with him? Why that?”
Heroin is what killed his friend’s brother. I made him sit and tell me what was going on. My heart broke with every word my son told me. More than the words, the disappointment and grief on Son2’s face was like a knife in my gut.
Roughly five years ago, we all would have worried about M. His mother and two older brothers were users. M would disappear with his girlfriend, a well-known user. None of his friends liked the girl and Son2 was the happiest when he found out that M was finished with her. M gave up smoking pot and now all he does is occasionally drink. He is dating a model and is working and happy and far away from the nasty scene. Unfortunately, ‘the girl’ moved on to D. Knowing how his friends felt about her, he kept their relationship a secret.
On the surface, things were going great with D. He bought a house with his brother and commenced fixing it up. He has a great job and a hot car and according to him, ‘the girl’ had cleaned up her act and only weeks ago, revealed that she was expecting. Lately however, it has come to light that he hasn’t been to work. ‘The girl’ inherited $80,000 and they were binging. One of their friends stayed with them for a few days and learned that the mortgage hadn’t been paid on the house. He found out that D was using, and spent the mortgage money.
This morning, he called their circle of friends.
These young men have stiffened their spines. They rallied around D, and told him to get clean. D, relieved that his secret is out, agreed. They called three rehab hospitals and were told that they weren’t taking in new patients today because of the Super Bowl. What kind of bullshit is that?? Seriously? My son has a friend who works in such a place and managed to have some strings pulled. He called out of work to be there.
It is Super Bowl Sunday. These guys should be drinking beer and eating pizza and wings. They shouldn’t be committing their friend to a hospital. They shouldn’t be breaking news like this to a mother, that her son is going away for a while. They shouldn’t be telling a friend that his brother has put their home and his credit in jeopardy. They shouldn’t be throwing a friend’s girlfriend out of the house.
They should be laughing and high-fiving.
Not hugging and crying.
** D is admitted to a rehab for 3-10 days of ‘assisted detox’. After that, he will be part of inpatient treatment for 30 days. It was shocking to hear that ‘the girl’ lost the baby on Saturday, and more shocking that she lost it again on Monday. The guys are exhausted but have committed themselves to taking turns being there for his family and helping his brother to take care of the house before things get worse. Though it has been only 48 hours since the first sentence, locks have been changed, D’s job is secure and insurance is taken care of. I can’t tell you all how proud I am of these guys for pulling together like this. They’ve been together since diapers and this is what family is about. Send some prayers their way. ~MM
Sunday February 06th 2011, 1:55 PM
Filed under: family
Part 1-My cousin has passed.
Last year, on Christmas night, my mother thought it might be a good time to pass along a “tidbit of news” that she had been sitting on for a couple of weeks–my cousin Jennifer was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I was full of anger at my mother for holding back and most especially her attitude of “Oh, by the way…” Well she did it yet again. Last Tuesday night, my dad called me to give me details of the funeral and viewing. He was surprised that I hadn’t known. Jen had been on hospice care for two weeks, and had finally passed on Saturday night….three days earlier. Now it was my father’s turn to be annoyed at her. Why she does it, I don’t know.
Anyway, Jen put up a valiant fight. She was the mother of two kids, 6 and 3. The memorial pictures show her smile radiating from her diminishing frame in photo after photo as she cataloged the holidays: dying Easter Eggs, barbecuing, sitting on the beach, carving pumpkins and decorating trees. As the photos passed, you could see the toll it took. You could see the weight loss, the dark circles, and the sadness-not only in her eyes, but also on the body of her husband. Chris and Jen refused help from family until very close to the end, choosing instead to cherish every wail, diaper, tantrum and tear as long as possible.
Jen was the youngest of our cousins. As her brother sobbed into my shoulder, it shouldn’t have happened that way. She was the baby. Our grief is nearly tangible.
Jen would have been 40 on March 14. We’ll miss her terribly.
Part 2-Losses in My Circle
There are other losses. Last week, my friend Annette lost her mother. She had moved in with her during the final weeks and therefore she was the one to find her mother. I can’t imagine such grief. She is one of my grade school friends, and so, when the news went out, our little circle arranged that we would go to the funeral and pay our respects. Weather was a huge obstacle to some, work was an obstacle for others, but three of us made it. As we greeted Annette, her sister and brother and kids seemed surprised that anyone showed up for her. Apparently, she lost many of her friends in her divorce. She cried and clung to us. When I spoke to her a few days later, she cried again. It had meant the world to her. What my friends and I had deemed an act of respect turned out to be a deeply appreciated act of love. I’m so glad that I went.
Annette isn’t the only one having a rough time. My girl Dawn is a hospice nurse and at this time, she is caring for her next door neighbor’s son….a 21 year old young man who is dying from brain cancer. This is a huge sadness for Dawn, and as such, she asked us for prayers (which we say for her every day) Last week, she ran across the yard to the neighbor’s home and didn’t fully latch her gate. Her beloved dog, Lady got out of the yard. Dawn had to go searching for her and discovered that she had been killed by a truck. As a single woman, Lady was like a child to Dawn. She sent out emails to us to inform us of her loss and once again, we circled the wagons.
I can’t wait for things to change. Even though many of these things aren’t happening directly to me, I feel them in my heart keenly. This is why I haven’t been here. I hardly have a chance to catch my breath before my phone rings with the next onslaught.
This morning something else has come along and I am not ready to share yet. Just please…..send some strength to a group of young men who need prayers right now.
It’s been barely twenty-four hours since we left Babygirl at college.
We had a nice drive out there, unloaded the car and loaded up the dorm room. Everything fit, but she was a bit exasperated by mommy’s desire to help her unpack. She wanted to get her schedule and roam around for a little while. We got the schedule and a few notices about the social things that were going on last night but she immediately noticed one thing….she only had four classes listed. She added up the credits and they added up to what amounted to…..ready for this?…..part time student status.
Well there was nothing to be done yesterday. That had to wait for today when she met up with her student advisor. We left her with her boy and roommate. There were dewy eyes, but no tears. I was proud of myself.
So, first thing this morning, she set off in search of one person who could fix this. Apparently there is no one who can do that. She was shuttled from office to office – at one point she sat for two hours waiting to talk to a man who could only tell her that he couldn’t help her! Full of frustration, anger and anxiety, she called the last person in the world who was equipped for this type of emergency…..
Yep, she called me. I woke up with raging allergies which set off a killer migraine. I had already thrown up twice and was almost ready to rip out my own eyeball when the phone rang. She tried to explain what was happening and I needed her to repeat everything over and over until I could comprehend what she was telling me. Did we need to call the school? Did we only pay enough tuition for a part time student? What was happening?? Through her tears and her trembling voice I could finally make it all out. I wanted to hug her. After all these years of being uncomfortable with hugging, that was all I could think of doing. There was no way I could fix this for her. There was nothing that could be done until tomorrow. I couldn’t comfort her. I cried, making my nose stuffy and making my head pound even more.
I suggested that she print out the financial records that show that she has paid her tuition and that she is in a dorm. That way she will be armed when she goes to the various offices. Her printer isn’t hooked up yet and she’ll have to use her RA’s or another student’s.
She had a half hour until she met a friend for lunch so I told her to sit down and relax. Her roommate had made coffee so I suggested that she have a cup. And then she sobbed out “I can’t even do that! I don’t have any milk for it! I’m going to the store later!”
It was going downhill for both of us.
Finally, we came to the decision to breathe and wait for tomorrow or at least for calmer minds. I hung up the phone, ran to the bathroom to be sick and then threw myself on the bed. I buried my head into my pillow and screamed….and screamed….and screamed. Then I called Lostmahead to vent and cry out my feelings of helplessness. She came running. After a cup of tea and a hug, she went back to work and I laid down to try to sleep.
Two hours later, (I still hadn’t slept) Babygirl got in touch again. Her status is changed to full time student. Her credits have gone from nine to twelve. And as we chatted, she was offered a job in the bookstore. (It would be hella nice if she got a discount on her books!!) As long as it won’t interfere with her scheduling, she will take it.
While not everything is in place, at least most of it is. As Lostmahead pointed out, Babygirl has handled past problems with teachers and bosses with admirable finesse. I should place my trust in that ability and simply remind her that some things take time. (she is like her mom in that we both have problems with patience)
And so, in the first twenty-four hours of being the mother of a college student, I have gone through
*The horror of not being able to comfort my child as she sobbed through the phone line.
*The frustration of not being able to make this mess go away.
*The pain of trying to comprehend important information with a sledgehammer pounding in my head.
*The relief that things are working out.
*The elation that there may be a job.
*And the pride of knowing that my girl may have had a breakdown, but she pulled herself up by the bootstraps and managed to get the ball rolling on the right track.
I haven’t had moodswings like this since I was pregnant with her!!
Bad Is Not So Bad
My son went away for the weekend and turned off the air conditioner in his room. It is a small room and his queen size bed sits below the window. Well, while the AC was off this weekend, it leaked…into his room. Not only did water run down the wall wetting the carpet, but it soaked a quarter of the mattress through to part of the box spring. Now what? Is there any way to dry it out? Do we write it off and try to come up with the money for a new bed? It’s the last thing we can afford right now. I felt so bad for Son2. He had worked all day in the heat, humidity and sun. He had come home long enough to shower, throw food into his face and run to his second job, where Monday is one of the busiest nights of the week. All he wanted to do was crash into his bed. Instead, at one in the morning, I was helping him soak up some of the water and later crying about his shitty luck.
My daughter wants to go to Colorado with her Man and his family in January. They enjoy snowboarding and that is exactly what they will be doing. His parents will be paying for everything but the air fare. When you look at the price of tickets to lots of places, or even the cost of a ski pass to our local Pocono Mountain resorts, the air fare will be cheaper. We can’t really afford that either. I added tears for her to the tears for my son.
I looked into the mirror this weekend and saw my hair. I stop dying my hair every summer because of vacations. If I dye it, the dye fades quickly in the sun or washes out in the chlorine of the pools. It also gives my crappy hair a break from the chemicals. This year, the white hair is more prominent than usual. Hubs likes it. Now I face the prospect of letting the gray grow in. I am cutting back on things and hair dye is not a ‘necessary’ expense. I feel old when I look at myself. Hubs thinks it’s pretty. Oh the indecision….
Our business is slow. But at least we have something. Babygirl may be headed to college, but she can get a job to help out with school expenses or to get herself a plane ticket. She has earned the money to buy her own back-to-school clothes and many of her supplies. Son2 has plenty of his own expenses, and that is the reason for two jobs. But at least he has money to go to the Union soccer games once, sometimes twice, a week (we paid for half of his season tickets for last Christmas-when we had a streak of good income) He can buy a new bed for himself, if he has to. Dying my hair? Well, shit. I won’t be the end of the world if I look my age. Yanno?
My friend’s husband is losing his job-along with 700 other families- when their plant closes.
My friend has little kids, kids who can’t get jobs to help pay for their school supplies. Her kids are too young to fully understand the way their parents will have to cut corners. Her husband will be dealing with the stress and depression that comes with looking for a job and providing for his family. She will deal with standing by her man, saving every penny she can and the heartbreaking task of telling her children “no” far too often than “yes”
I feel so guilty moaning about a plane ticket, a bed, and worst of all HAIR DYE! These things pale in the face of the troubles in front of others.
I light a candle and pray everyday for my friends. I pray for our own financial stability and health. I pray that some of you get back good test results. I hope that you don’t lose your insurance, your car, your home. I pray that you get that job you interviewed for. I pray that this love is the one that lasts.
And I’ve added another friend to my litany of prayers. My dear friend, I hope that something good comes your way soon.
Something Old, Something New…..
A few things are happening….just a few ….but they are the type of things that keep me from you, my friends.
Something old…..That would be me. Hubs whisked me away for two nights at the beach. We relaxed, met up with my kids for a day on the beach and dinner, and we shared some drinks and smooches. One morning, we rented bicycles and rode them…..and rode them….and-well you get the drift. We rode for forty-five minutes in one direction, turned around and rode back. Lemme tell you, halfway back, I damn near died. My muscles burned, my body spewed off sweat and I could see my thighs twitch with overuse. Yeppers, kids, I am sadly out of shape. Even though I have been exercising, I have been more about the cardio and abs. Apparently, I must learn to do it all.
Something new…..My laptop needs a new fanbelt. It had been overheating a bit and after ruling out overuse and a recalled battery, I discovered that that was what I needed. And so, my beloved is off for two weeks getting repaired. Which brings me to….
Something borrowed…..In the meantime, I am typing this post on Babygirl’s laptop. This won’t happen very often, I’m sure. I am afraid of doing anything that would compromise this back-to-school purchase. So….if anything needs to be spilled on here, I will most likely be borrowing the business computer. Ugh! You know how I feel about that!
And lastly, we have something blue…..That would be me. My cousin is not doing very well with her battle against stomach cancer. We only learned of it shortly before Christmas, and she has already nosedived very quickly. I can only hope that she is spared from too much pain. Life is not very fair.
There is also the ‘countdown’ to August 26. That is the day that Babygirl leaves us for her dorm. Yes, I’m blue but also tickled pink–for her. She is excited and so I am, but damn, I will miss her…..
And there you have it. That’s what’s happening. It’s what keeps me from you all. I hope to catch up with my blog reading because I want to see what YOU’RE doing this summer!!
He is never forgotten. You are not far from my thoughts today, my friend.