2

The Sun is Out

and it is a gorgeous day outside. My garden is in bloom, flowers bursting with color. It’s amazing …It’s lovely…it’s kind.

 

It’s life.

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4

Saying Goodbye– What I learned about life, from death…

“Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable, powerful, it has to mean something… Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.“  ( Interstellar, 2016)

You left us 365 days ago. 52 weeks. I learned a lot about myself in that small window of time. I learned a lot about my Mom, as well…

You saved all those awful 80’s clothes. The big shoulder pads, pastel colors. I am NOT sorry they did not come into fashion before you passed away.

You know I don’t want to say it, but I feel that I really must be honest here, Mom. You really couldn’t cook. I mean, you made a wonderful lasagna, and your sausage balls rocked many a world, but day-to-day–I am surprised we all all still alive to tell the tale. You came by it honestly though..Your mom could not cook worth a shit, either.

I am curiously strong.

I have a long list of things I wanted to tell you, that I never had the chance to tell you. “I love you” is not one of those. Now that sounds bad, but it isn’t. I said “I love you” in every conversation I had with my mom. The evening before the morning she died, I told her I loved her. She look at me and said “I know”. Who knew my Mom was a “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” fan.

( on that note, Greedo shot first)

You saved almost all of my god-awful drawings. I have no idea why. They were terrible. I mean, even for a 6th grader they were bad. I did not find my true artistic groove until High School. And you saved my teeth. What…the…HELL…

I used to have this thing where I  did not want to talk about you for fear that I would make people feel uncomfortable. I still think I have this thing, but it’s getting better. Instead of a twinge of pain, it’s now sort of a dull ache that never goes away. It’s okay though. I can laugh about things now. It is something you endure and you move on, but you never get over it. It becomes a part of you. It is a necessary thing that proves that you are still alive.

Why, oh, why did you like Liberace so much? Seriously? Liberace? It’s like saying , “Wow…I REALLY love Nickelback”. You never admit crap like that out loud. In public. With, like..PEOPLE...

Regardless of the number of years, life is short. Make sure that the life you are living is one well lived. Do not go to your twilight with a long list of shit you wish you could have completed, places you could have visited and people you should have called. Don’t be ridiculous with your life. You only have one. USE it.

There are 24 hours in a day. Take 5 minutes to tell people that you love them. That regret never, ever goes away.

Don’t take life for grated. Play hard. Laugh Hard. If you need to fart, let ‘er RIP!

Death of loved one has made me really strong, and I am resilient. Losing people to death makes you stronger for the times that you need to be available for the living. I think that is a fancy-schmancy way of saying that we all have purpose in this life. My purpose it to make my Dad laugh, and think of 1,000 and 1 ways to fix Brussels Sprouts.

 

…in progress…because I am cutting onions, and it’s getting teary

9

One Year On..

365 days on….

365 days from the date of my mom’s cancer diagnosis. 365 short days. The doctor said that time would be measured in weeks, not months.

Too damn right.

I have not felt like updating this blog since last year. I did not really have it in me to update it. Now I can catch a breath and think and have a cup of coffee and think on things. Peter Gabriel did a lovely song called “I Grieve” where he sings about life carrying on after a death and he is right. Life persists and goes on. It’s sad, and you cry and you live on though your heart will never be the same. Small things make me cry. I was at the grocery store yesterday and I walked past the Mother’s Day cards and I just sighed in pain. My heart constricted, and my breath just left my body. But it was only a second. Just a catch in my throat that did not last long, and it passed. and it was good. And I smiled.

Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes it is easy. I force myself to laugh sometimes. I think about the really good and funny things. Mom’s incredible,  cherry ( hockey puck) pie. The fact that she was a gold-medal standard world class klutz. The fact that she got so mad at Dad one time she threw a casserole at him and it slid down the wall in slow motion, like something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Her laugh. Her absolute love of dogs of all shapes and sizes.

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Her love of wine. The way she would dance in the kitchen. Her wonderful smile that would light up the room. The fact that she never forgot a birthday and she would always send someone a card. She was kind, and generous, and loving. Wicked temper. Wonderfully sarcastic. I always loved the way she said she never watched soap operas but she always knew who was on, who was screwing who, who was related and who was pregnant, and how. But she never watched them, not on your life.

Even at the end of her life she always kept her wonderful sense of humor. When Spider and his wife came over, Spider asked her how she was doing and she say “meh”. She didn’t really have the ability to make long sentences or talk a lot, but she made us laugh with a single word.

Pretty soon, in about 35 days, will be the one year anniversary of her death. She was memorialized on what would have been my parents 55th Wedding Anniversary. It was a wonderfully sad day, and the full chapel was a testimony to her, and Dad’s friends who came from far and wide to extend their condolences. I can honestly say that I do not have a whole shit ton of memory of that day. I think I blocked it out. It is one of those days you need to remember…but you do not really want to remember. All I remember is that during the service I really needed to pee and there are only so many ways you can cross your legs.

 

TBC

 

1

A Death in the Family

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My mommy died.

After about 18 long, grueling months of downward spiraling health, she passed away on 13 June 2016 at around 4.45AM. She had been diagnosed the previous month with terminal lung cancer, and we were told that it would be days, rather than weeks.

Dad called me the day after I got back from a trip to see them at the Beach, and told me that he had called EMT because he could not get her O2 level above 81%. As it had to be in the 90’s at all times, and he could not get it regulated, he decided it was best if she was taken to Hospital. She was hooked to O2 to try and get the level up. For the past couple of years, the whirr of the oxygen machine was a constant noise in the house. It was on 24/7/365 to give her the breath that she could no longer take. We learned how to relegate it to background noise, to the point where we no longer could hear it. It was simply another noise in the background. Like a washing machine, or a clock ticking, or a dog barking outside. It moved wherever she was. Boone. Raleigh. Cary. The triangle of places to stay. It was her version of an American Express card.

After a short stay in Hospital, Dad and I brought her home, with the help of Hospice, so that she would be in a comfortable place, surrounded by the people who loved her and who would be there to help her transition from this life, to the next. I moved in with them, and told my Dad I would be there until…whenever, whatever.. Dad and I learned to feed, care for, bathe, comfort, love, and medicate her. To make her comfortable. To ease her pain. To make her days to come easier. Hospice came every day, except weekends, to help, and they were a true blessing.

Mom never once complained about anything, in fact, kept most of her humor the entire time. Her ability to speak, fractured from a stroke a year previous, suddenly became absolutely clear. It was the strangest thing.

I learned how to change a diaper, for the first time in my life, and I realized how utterly awful I was at it. Completely pathetic, but I did my very best. Dad would lift up mom’s torso, and I would complete my origami underwear in record time. It was a funny, yet sad, group effort.

Eating was a struggle for her. Nothing tasted good, but her love for sweets, especially Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups  existed until the very end.

She died 37 days later, around 4.45AM in the morning, after a long, difficult night where she could not catch a breath, and could not catch a break. It was a long night for Dad, who came upstairs at 3.15AM to tell me she was having trouble breathing. I pulled on my robe and I went downstairs and gave her some Morphine and some Lorazepam, to try and ease her breathing. Dad sat up for a while, with her, just to listen to her breathe. I went to bed and he came up around 4.45AM to tell me that she may have passed, shortly after he fell asleep. He woke, when he could no longer hear the sound of her breathing. I came downstairs and checked her, and had to tell my Dad that she had died. There is no easy way to tell someone that their mate of 54 years, 360 days has passed away. I went upstairs and threw up, and dressed. and then I called Hospice.

I never thought about life without my mom, because I could not comprehend a life where she would not be in it.She was such a forceful whirlwind of humor and nature that the world is a lesser place without her. We argued a lot, as Mother’s and daughters are wont to do, and sometimes I feel like I was simply not good enough to be her child. She was a lithe dancer in her young. I am a short, squat, fire-hydrant shaped artist. She was simply beautiful in her youth. I am what one would call “interesting looking”. It’s okay. I have my own talents. I learned, in her illness, that I had a infinite capacity for caring and love for her.

 

TBC

 

2

The Perils of turning 50, and other fun recreational things..

50 Things that I managed to learn in my life…thus far..

I woke up the other day with the mind-numbing realization that I turned 50 years old. I sat up in bed and wondered how in the hell I managed to amass so many years under my belt, and in such a short period of time. It’s scary. It feels like I went to bed one day and I woke up and I was suddenly eligible for a FREE Senior Water at Wendy’s.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life and I genuinely LIKE the fact that I am now 50. I don’t have to watch my mouth as much and EVERYONE calls me “ma’am”, I am almost eligible for AARP, and I get all kinds of free shit now that I am 50.

HURRAH!

Oh God…I said it. I AM 50. I take a couple of deep breaths in and I let them out slowly, as if taking stock of the situation and trying to decide if it something I can live with…without panicking. Much. It’s strange to say that I am this old. Most of my life has been lived already. I have lived it really, REALLY well. I fell in love with someone who is deeply kind and wonderful, considerate and enormously strange and we got married. Babies didn’t happen but aw lawdy, the kitties and dog we love so much!

I have learned a LOT in my First Fifty Years on Planet Earth.

1. It’s better to sing off key than not to sing at all

2. Promptness shows respect. Lateness shows lack of respect. Be on time. Always. In fact—BE EARLY

3. If you offend—apologize

4. Master the art of Pictionary

5. Tip at 20%

6. Be Fair, Be Honest and Be Kind

7. Prejudice and bigotry are have to overcome. If you feel you may be, you probably are. Try and straighten that out

8. Hang around people who share the love of the same music, art, poetry, etc. You will never lack for conversation

9. Dream

10. Always say Please” and “Thank You”

11. Learn to fake it

12. Always buy the best tires you can afford

13. Never yell at a cop

14. Political Correctness is bullshit. Pure and utter BULLSHIT

15. Learn to accept criticism

16. Fall in love. Hard.

17. Steaks are best medium rare

18. Write “Thank You” notes

19. If you don’t know; ask….

20. Time heals most wounds

21. Don’t be afraid to fail. Several times

22. Judge not

23. Always ask the tough questions

24. It’s “AMUSE BOUCHE->HORS D’OEVRE->APPETIZER->SOUP-> SALAD-> ENTREE-> DESSERT”- in that order. If it seems like too much…Order Dessert first

25. Smile

26. Say “Hello”

27. Learn how to speak in public without peeing yourself

28. Learn to say “Where in the bathroom” in 5 languages

29. Drink Orange Juice

30. See the Dentist. Be his friend. He has good drugs

31. Gdzie jest łazienka?

32. Get up 10 minutes early and JUST BE

33. Always keep your car half-filled with gasoline

34. Keep a list of referenced plumbers/electricians/ etc. They come in handy, and good ones are worth their weight in gold!

35. Drive your dream car. Once in your life

36. Dance with wild abandon to the music in your head

37. Wo ist die Toilette?

38. Pay it Forward. EVERY DAY

39. If you have not used it/worn it in 6 months—donate it to charity

40. Sit and pet a cat. Your heart rate will go down

41. 洗手间在哪里?

42. Buy GENERIC.

43. Learn to make THE PERFECT MARTINI

44. Don’t lie. Eventually you will be discovered

45. Où se trouvent les toilettes?

46. Keep a diary

47. Be PASSIONATE about what you love

48. Dónde está el baño?

49. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Never waste time, and never think “Well, I will tell them tomorrow”. If you have not called someone in a while. CALL THEM. Tell them that you love them. Tomorrow may be too late….

50. Readers love reading long-ass lists. I see you made it to the bottom of this one. Congrats.

Mazel Tov.