Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Preaching to the Choir

My dad moved into assisted living this week. I burned the candle at both ends for a couple of weeks, but he applied, got accepted and moved in rather quickly. On move in day, we had finished all the paperwork but the moving truck hadn’t arrived so we decided to go shopping for some items he needed for his new apartment.

I do not generally enjoy shopping, but this was actually kind of fun. I felt like a mom with a kid going off to college that needed to furnish his dorm room. We went in with a list. The windows are all new and sometimes people don’t even use curtains anymore but Dad is old school. He had the curtains already, but he needed new curtain rods.

We went to the appropriate aisle and I was prepared with the measurements from the maintenance man. There are so many options for curtain rods now. Dad? Well, he wanted those plain white metal ones that bend in an “L” at the end. I did my best to try to change his mind. “Dad, there are so many cute ones. How about this one?  Or this kind? Or this? They aren’t that much more expensive.” Nope. The curtains cover these rods anyway so what does it matter? “Jeeze, Dad. You’re no fun. I can’t believe you are picking the boring ones.” There was an older lady, probably close to Dad’s age in the same aisle. I heard her snicker a bit at our conversation.

We moved on to the next item on the list. We happened to bump into that same woman. Or perhaps not. Perhaps she followed us. She walks up to me, puts her hand on my arm and says ever so firmly, “Now young lady, you know that your opinion doesn’t matter one bit. After all, it is HIS house and he should pick out what he wants.”

I was a bit taken aback, but I thought she was really going to be embarrassed when I pulled those old, ugly white curtain rods out of my cart and showed her that he indeed makes his own decisions. I said that he always calls the shot but I like to rib him a little. It’s what we do.

She was having none of it. She went on to say that, “Someday, YOU will be a senior citizen too and THEN you will understand things.” Her disgust of me was crystal clear. My mind was racing. Me? The one who tends to my dad’s every need? Surely she should know that my sister and I both worked in nursing homes. There was no McDonald’s jobs. We took care of the elderly. Surely she should know that when I lived in Chicago I set up an “Adopt a Grandparent” program for those elderly folks that had no family. I have a lifetime of being respectful to senior citizens.

Her final parting shot (as if the first two weren’t enough) was, “My goodness. Your father and I were certainly raised very differently than your generation was.”

Huh.

She couldn’t have been more wrong about me. It got me thinking though. Jay pointed out to me that people like us go to all the trouble in our heads (or out loud) to defend ourselves when really we don’t owe anyone an explanation. But we even if there is no one to hear, we have to justify ourselves to ourselves. Crazy.

I also wondered how many times I have heard a snippet of our conversation and thought that I had accurately surmised the dynamics with all of my expertise and experience. What the hell do I actually know anyway? I can be pretty accurate with my intuition, but it’s nowhere near 100%. I will try to keep that in mind the next time I have an urge to confront a total stranger (or a beloved person for that matter).

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As It Should Be

If you  have followed my blog over the last couple of years, it is no secret that I find dating to be a nightmare. Navigating and balancing all the dynamics is not for the faint of heart and I could give you names of thousands that would agree. When someone asks me what I am looking for, I used to say a full-time partner. Now I just say someone who I might want to go on a second date with!

We (those of us in the dating world) do a boatload of mental gymnastics in order to make sense of the nonsense that occurs regularly in the that world. Some of that is necessary because we all need to adjust our expectations sometimes. But every once in a while, something GREAT occurs and you have to shake your head at all the months/years of the stuff you put up with, thinking you were hoping for too much. Seeing as I tend to blog about the negatives, let me share some of the very refreshing things that I have experienced lately.

For example…

1. When you send a text to let him know you are thinking about him but you are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.

What you expect: You usually don’t get a response for several hours. Maybe not for a day or two. Or maybe they never text you again. Ever. Or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy.

Instead: He sees your text and he calls you because he wants to connect with you.

2. When you say something sappy like, “Happy Anniversary” and are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.

What you expect: “I don’t do anniversaries” or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy. Or they outright laugh at you.

Instead: He says thank you and tells you how much he has enjoyed getting to know you. He even talks about how much he is looking forward to continuing the journey with you.

3. When you tell him you wish you could see him more.

What you expect: He doesn’t feel the same way. He thinks you’re smothering him. He ignores you and continues to make you feel like you aren’t a priority.

Instead: He tells you has the desire to be with you, even if the schedules don’t allow it. But he “embraces the emotions” that you obviously both have that are causing the desire to see each other to begin with.

4. When you go to his house and hope maybe you can stay over (even though you can’t because you have a son at home).

What you expect: “I can’t share my bed with anyone. I can’t sleep if someone is here.” Or “I haven’t had anyone spend the night here in years. It is going to take me a long time to be comfortable with that.”

Instead:  He says, “You know, you can stay as long as you want. I just want you to be comfortable.”

I could write pages more of examples, but the point is, the “instead’s” are as it should be. I think I am finally at the point that I would rather have one week with someone like this, then weeks or months with someone who isn’t. That may sound like common sense to you, but there were times when the loneliness was so bad, I would have taken the bad over having nothing.

You don’t ever know how long something will last, but for this moment? It’s as wonderful as I have always dreamed it would be. Knowing I am respected and wanted does amazing things for my ability to get through the hard days. There are never guarantees for “forever” so you just relish each moment and day, and hope there are more. And more. And more.