Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Christiana, Tennessee.

Miracles do happen. The woman who works off her garage so she doesn’t have to drive has successfully driven 13 hours in two days to get to my sister’s house. Frankie and my niece Sara came with me. We were on the last few hours of the drive when we stopped to get gas and go through a drive-through at Burger King.

We were still in Indiana, but right on the border. I had gotten cut off driving several times that day so there was a lot of swearing coming out of my mouth, as well as comments about how dumb and thoughtless people are. I say politically incorrect things quite often at this stage in my life because my patience apparently got used up around age 46. A discussion about the South had come up. My traveling companions were both saying they were not impressed with the South in so many words. I was saying I love it down South. People seem much friendlier and polite. They were commenting on their accents and other stereotypes.

The drive-through line was very long so I had my niece jump out of the car to throw our bags of garbage in the trash. Next thing I know, this truck drives around me and cuts in line. I was like, “Oh no, you did-n’t” and Frankie quips with, “Yeah mom, people are so polite in the South.” The guy’s windows are open so Sara comes out with, “You know, there IS a line.” I drive up next to him and for some reason my mood snapped from irritation to playful. I put my fists up at the window and say, “Hey, you wanna fight for it?” He is flustered and says he thought my car had stalled or something. He said he had all day and I was more than welcome to drive up in front of him. I should have said, “So if you thought I was stalled you were going to drive by me rather than offer to help?” but instead I told him I was totally joking and that we had been in the car for days and it was fine that he went first. We kind of laughed and the moment was over. Or so we thought.

This is the point of the story when I was telling my other niece and she told me I was crazy. And lucky that guy didn’t have a gun in his truck.

We put our order in and then drove up to the window to pay, and the guy said in his cute Southern accent, “Y’all are all set. The guy ahead of you just paid for your lunch.” I couldn’t believe it. I beeped my horn and the guy in the truck waved. I waved back. He totally made my day. My week. I quipped back at Frankie, “HA! Southern people ARE polite!” I loved it.

This is also the point in the story where my other niece said, “You are supposed to pay it forward and pay for the person behind you.” And before age 46, I would have done that. But at 49, I didn’t even think about it. It was all about me. I reveled in it and was happy there are nice people out there and I was the recipient.

Tomorrow I am going to see my daughter Emily’s friends from Georgia. She is bringing her two daughters to come and see me. I thought of it when I said it was all about me. These three lovely women will boost my self-esteem enough to last for a month. They love me like crazy and it is so mutual. They say “yes ma’am” and they hug me constantly and tell me they love me over and over again. I am going to eat them up tomorrow. I just can’t wait. No patience required when I’m around them. I’ve always been a person with a very long line of critics in my life so these chicks that just unabashedly and unconditionally adore me are a breath of fresh air.

Even at 49 with a grumpy, menopausal mind, there is so much to be grateful for!


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Miscellaneous Tidbits

I wrote a blog about losing stuff, and I forgot to mention the one positive. I have NOT lost my sense of humor. Thank God.

Last week I was driving Dad and I home from Lockport. That’s about a 45 minute drive home and I’ve made the drive a million times. We stopped at Millersport Market so I could pick up a fabulous dinner for Colin’s 33rd birthday. It wasn’t exactly cooking, but it sort of was. I had just enough time to get home, get it in the oven and eat before we had Frankie’s first hockey game after being laid up on crutches.

After a few minutes, I looked at Dad and told him I was feeling confused. I couldn’t get my bearings. Where was I? I knew I was on the expressway but suddenly nothing looked familiar. I studied the signs and realized that somehow I went east on 90 instead of west. How the heck did I do that? Well let me just tell you, it is 17 miles before the next exit. I had to drive all the way to Pembroke before I could turn around. That’s 34 miles out of the way. At first, I was teary-eyed, telling myself what a sucky parent I was. How hard is it to make a dinner for your kid’s birthday? Impossible for me. But then Colin called and said he wasn’t home anyway so we decided to have the dinner the next day. Dad and I joked all the way home about the scenic drive and the chance to spend some quality time together.

Yesterday, Dad got a phone call. He put it on speaker. The woman said she was from the company he used to work for and was following up on the hearing aids he got. His insurance had this amazing deal where he got hearing aids for free. They usually are 3-4 thousand dollars so it was quite a thing. Dad just looked at me in utter confusion. I explained what the call was. They wanted to do a survey with him. I then said into the phone, “He can’t understand what you are saying because he ISN’T WEARING HIS HEARING AIDS!” We laughed our butts off. He doesn’t wear them most of the time which is quite convenient when he wants to block us out :).

Then we had to go to the eye doctor for Dad. Most of the patients in there are older. It’s only a five-minute appointment with the actual doctor. But you see two other people first for various tests. This one older guy gets picked up and I hear the nurse say, “Oh, ha ha. I was waiting for the joke. I knew you would have one.” Never fear, I got to hear the jokes before the morning was over.

What did the cookie say to the doctor? I feel crummy.

Why does a hummingbird hum? Because it doesn’t know the words.

Cute. Very cute. Until the third and fourth time I heard the jokes. He told them to everyone. I wanted to tell him he needed some new material.

Then Dad and I went back to Lockport to see my sister in the hospital. (No, smart alec, I didn’t drive all the way to Pembroke this time. But you can be sure I was not on automatic pilot. I paid attention to every turn I made!) She has a blockage in her pancreas. She is being transported to Buffalo General today. They will do a procedure where they explore the blockage. If it is gallstones as hoped, they will be removed. If it is a mass, they will do a biopsy. After the procedure, they will determine the next step. She hasn’t eaten anything, or even had ice chips since Sunday and it’s now Friday. At least she is not in excruciating pain anymore.

In her room, her surgeon drew her a lovely picture of her inside organs to explain things.
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We got talking about what NPO means. I knew it meant nothing by mouth, but we looked up what the actual meaning is. Turns out it’s Latin for “nils per os.” So that became the game, asking nurses who walked in if they knew what it meant. Not one person knew. I know a nursing student who is taking his last finals before graduating. He didn’t know either. I’m so proud. If the question is ever on Jeopardy, I’ve got it covered.

But the most mature joke of all, was that picture. Now honestly, doesn’t that look like a penis at the bottom? I mean, not a good picture of one, but at first glance? The nurses agreed. My sister’s roommate is about a million years old. I don’t think she thought the joke was funny. Dad didn’t mind. But then, he didn’t have his hearing aids in so he probably didn’t even know what we were saying.

By the way, that is supposed to be her pancreas.


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Losing

The older you get, the more you lose stuff. Am I right? A couple of weeks ago, my friend Catya lost a 20 dollar bill she needed to pay for her ticket. She found it a few days later. Then last week she lost her debit card. Bad streak. What was worse was the time and frustration it cost to get it replaced.

We were walking in the woods this week and ran into Glo. She had lost her dog. Her dog is also a border collie mix life Taffy. Taffy and she have gone on many romps chasing deer or other critters. They always come back. This time though, she had been gone almost an hour. We divided up and eventually she came prancing down the lane looking like she didn’t have a care in the world. Taffy has that one mastered too.

I started rehearsals this week for this Christmas show I am super, duper excited to be part of. I printed out my music and I faithfully practice every day. That is nothing compared to what it’s like to be with this ginormous group of talented women singing in person. I held my own, but had to mark up my music here and there with proper notes, rests, pronunciation of words, etc.. I was feeling pretty proud of myself and competent until I got home and realized I lost my music. Good one. Sure, I can print out another set but it won’t have all my valuable notes (no pun intended) and reminders.

Things can lose things. Take my car battery for instance. This week it lost its charge. Lost its power. Got “drained” they say. Now the dealership has the car because we don’t know WHY it lost the charge. Not having your car start is always a pleasant, unexpected addition to your day.

Then there are losses that can surprise a nation. One word: Hilary.

I lose my patience a lot lately. I don’t know why, but crisis, or just plain people needing me for something doesn’t usually happen at convenient times when I have nothing else to do but be altruistic. So I lose my patience and say things in my head like, “Really? Can’t I just do such and such without having to do such and such?”

I have lost my mind too many times to count.

I have lost my sanity equally as often. Some would say I haven’t gotten it back yet. Hell, some might say I never had it to begin with.

What I really want to know is, WHY THE HECK CAN’T I LOSE A FEW POUNDS???

More proof that life isn’t fair :).


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Just One Text…

A few weekends ago, we passed the six-year marker of Tim’s death. Seven of my peeps and I went away for the weekend and the accommodations and weather were perfect. There are now three of us who are struggling with grief, so there is always a special bond between us. You know, that club no one really wants to belong to.

Friday started off with attitude in high gear. I was in swearing male-bashing mode. Probably half the women were right there with me. The other half were smart enough to play along with me. I’d had it with dating nightmares and other such problems. Nothing like some alcohol with girls weekend away to vent it all out.

Pathetic as it may sound, it takes just one text to change it all.

Early Saturday morning I was woken up by a text from my Tinder app. I hadn’t been on the app in a while but apparently it keeps all your swipe answers. (Swipe to the right means you are interested, swipe to the left and you are not. If you and the guy both swipe right, it’s a “match” and you can start texting.) He was a very nice looking guy but was from Toronto. Damn. But wait… He is staying at his mom’s house in Buffalo and works here as well. Says location isn’t a problem. This could be fun.

It was unusual circumstances because all of us girls were together so as the texts continued throughout the day, I kept everyone updated as the soap opera unfolded. He was an engineer and designer. (Hmmm… so was Tim.) Turned out his mom had died in January. He sent a sweet picture of him and his mom. Really cool. He has experienced loss. And that whole thing about you can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mother? I totally buy into that.

By Saturday evening, we were sitting around a fire when I got the text that made me stand up and say, “No way. You guys are NOT going to believe this.” I had gotten brave enough to tell him about Tim and the purpose of the weekend away. He said he understood that kind of loss because his wife had died three years ago from ovarian cancer. NO WAY. I couldn’t believe it. Not many people our age belong to that club, and you have an instant bond when you meet someone who does- whether they are male or female.

The next ten days consisted of texting and lengthy emails. His name was David. Figures. That’s my son’s and dad’s name. I learned he had guardianship of his niece after his sister’s untimely death. I learned that his positive attitude in spite of all his loss came from his faith and spiritual mindset. I learned he was quite financially stable and was even planning on retiring in the next few months.

I was very challenged by David and told him so. As we continued to correspond, I started realizing how I had lost my hopes and dreams. Thinking about what I actually wanted and wished for in a relationship, I had to admit I had pretty much given up on ever finding it. Yet he seemed to make it look easy to be so unselfish, kind, family-oriented, etc. etc. etc. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop.

One day it almost did. We decided to take the next step of talking on the phone. It had never occurred to me that English may not be his first language. He wrote/texted so clearly, that I never gave it a thought. But French was his first language. It was a bit of an obstacle at first, and I had to admit that I was a bit disappointed. Then I got really disgusted with myself. What has happened to me? I was the international ministries major. I used to crave other cultures and diversity. Now I saw it as an obstacle. When I did get so ethno and ego centric? This didn’t change his looks. It didn’t change his intelligence. And it didn’t change his heart and how he viewed family and relationships.

Then the shit started to hit the fan in my personal life. If you didn’t read last week’s blog, now would be the time to do so. My dad, son, and sister all had bouts in the hospital. I was exhausted and spent from running around trying to take care of everyone. I was also sick with worry. I was sitting in the waiting room while my dad was in his first procedure when David texted me and said he would try to come to the hospital so we could meet and so I wouldn’t be alone. He said I take care of everyone, and wondered who takes care of me?

I got tears in my eyes. The timing didn’t work out for him to come to the hospital, but it got me thinking. After six years, dare I allow myself the hope and vision that my life might be different moving forward? I finally have accepted being alone, as much as I don’t like it. Is it really possible that my future might hold someone sitting next to me? Caring about the people I care about? And… can I really say it? Will someone be there to take care of ME? Whoa. I felt things I hadn’t felt in ages.

And then that one text that can change everything again.

A couple of days after that, the text came. The one where David asked me to assist him with money. And I knew. I had my peeps do some investigating, which included a lengthy conversation with a detective. I gave them everything. The emails with his travel itineraries, the linked in accounts, Facebook, all of it. And the results were in. He was 99.9 percent sure I was part of a very elaborate, sophisticated scam. I shouldn’t feel bad because they are extremely clever.

Fuck. You’ve got to be kidding me. All of it was planned. Contacting me on the weekend of my husband’s death anniversary. Calling himself David. Knowing the depth of my loss and the lost-ness I feel and knowing how to touch me in those places. Emotional rape is the only thing I could think of to describe how violated I felt. Truth be told, I’ve been a little shocked by some of the people I know and how they have responded, like it’s just another dating disappointment. In a way, they are right, but in another way, this takes the cake. No one seems to understand the depth of betrayal I feel.

The bottom line is this. For whatever reason, relationships have not worked for me so far. I have zero patience for any clichés or platitudes. “If a guy this, or a guy that, then you know. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” Bullshit. The truth is, no one ever knows. I’m not stupid and I’m not naive. I couldn’t have seen it coming. I’ve dated handsome guys, not so handsome guys. I’ve texted them a lot, I’ve texted them hardly at all. I’ve met them right away, I’ve not met them for a long time. It doesn’t matter. There are no formulas. There may be some red flags, but for the most part dating is just difficult. When you think you have the answers, it is just hind sight, which frankly amounts to a pile of crap because the next time the opposite could happen with the same results.

Dad gets out of rehab today and is staying with me for a couple of days. He is my focus now. That should be safe, right?