Yes, Pam, There Are Good People

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I would like to apologize, dear blog readers.  I have been down, and I have been venting on the blog.  That makes me upset with myself, because I created this new blog in order to concentrate on the good and get rid of the bad.  I guess old habits die hard (in may ways!) and I was back to feeding the gloom and doom within myself.  For that, I apologize, but I would also like to thank those of you who reached out in support.  Even if you didn’t reach out, I would still like to thank you for your patience and tolerance as I work through a  rough point in my life.

My morning was horrible.  I went straight to the hospital after emailing morning instructions to the office.  I needed to be at the office, but I felt that I had to go to the hospital first.  I wanted to speak to someone who could explain all that was going on with my mom.  At this point, most of my information was coming from her, and it was confusing at best.  Things were not good when I arrived at the hospital.  I couldn’t find the nurse assigned to my mother, so I waited and waited.  Mom was much worse today.  It is a sad and humiliating thing to watch what she is now going through.  When I came into her room, she was sitting on the edge of the bed attempting to get up.  I rushed over to see what why she was trying to walk.  She CAN’T walk unassisted, and there is an alarm on her bed that was chiming.  She said she had called for a nurse, but no one had come to help her.  I told her to wait just a moment until someone came in, but she couldn’t.  She needed to use the toilet.  What good was the alarm when no one reacted when it rang?  In fact, what good are the nurses if they won’t come when they are called?

Things with my mother got very bad, and I hate to even write about it all.  I helped her to the bathroom as shit trailed across the floor of her room.  Four times, back and forth.  Finally, I was able to get an orderly to at least come in to clean the mess on the floor.  Her clothes were soiled.  Her bed was a mess.  Her socks were soaked.  I ran out and found a nurse, but she informed me that she was not my mother’s nurse.  (Bitch!)

My only help for about an hour was the cleaning lady.  After the fourth trip to the bathroom, Mom started to vomit.  She was sitting on the bed, and it went all down the front of her gown.  The cleaning lady brought a basin.  I will add that I am NOT someone who does well with bodily fluids of ANY kind.  Not at all!  I have never had the least desire to be in the medical profession.  Like my Dad, blood and shit and vomit make me feel like fainting.  I was light-headed, and all I wanted to do was run as far and as fast as my legs would take me.  It was demoralizing for both my mother and for me.  Neither of us wanted to be in this particular situation together.

One time as she vomited, her upper dentures flew out of her mouth, onto the bed…..and dropped to the floor.  I picked them up.  Teeth, fake teeth, streaming with vomit.  My God, she was in the fricken hospital.  Is this the kind of care she should be receiving?  I was livid by this point, but afraid to leave her side.  I got on the phone, and called the nurses station.  My bitch hat was on, and finally one of the nurses was able to take a moment of her busy day to care for a patient.

It was a miserable, disgusting, horrifying, emotional morning.  I left when they were preparing my mom for her biopsy.  I was shaking as I walked out to my car.  It was hot as hell outside, and my hands were cold as ice.  I was alone, foolishly alone.  T had offered to go with me.  He had texted me while I was there.  Once he realized how badly things were going, he offered once again to come support me.  Each time, I said, “No, that’s OK.  I don’t want to mess up your workday.”  I am an idiot.  It’s true.  I prove just how stupid I am on quite a regular basis.

When I got back to the office, things weren’t much better.  I was three hours behind on what would have already been a busy day.  One thing I have to say again is that I LOVE the people I work with.  They are the most kind-hearted, friendliest group of people I have ever had the honor to know.  They showed genuine concern.  They offered to help in any way.  They actually CARED, and that meant so dang much to me.

I had a late lunch with T, and we didn’t really talk much.  I love that about him.  He allows me to be quiet, and I am rarely quiet.  Seems that I am sometimes quiet with him, only with him.  He is a quiet man himself, very self-contained.  He doesn’t care if I talk, he just wants me in visual range.  Now that I think about it, we communicate a great deal without words.  Most of the time, I am too wound up and dumb to connect all of those subtleties.  Thankfully, today I was able to “get” it.  I was able to see his kindness.  Maybe because I was thinking about “Slap An Asshole Day.”  T is not an asshole.  He may be many things, but one thing is true, he has never knowingly hurt me.  Sure, we have argued and bickered.  My feelings have been hurt.  So have his!  But never, ever would T be an asshole to anyone.  He is not selfish, arrogant, self-centered, or spoiled.  He is has kindness in his heart.  Always.  I felt much calmer and more in control of my feelings after our lunch.

On top of all that was going on in my day, I had to host a concert on the plaza tonight.  It was the first of 10 summer concerts that we produce.  This year, I won’t have to attend all of them.  I am passing that torch, but tonight I had promised to emcee and show them the ropes.  Getting up and speaking in front of a crowd was about the last thing I wanted to do on this particular day.  I wanted to go home, pour a drink, cry, take a bath, and harvest my Frontierville crops on Facebook!

I had a couple of hours between time at the office and the concert time, so I drove home.  Ah, the drive home.  What would I do if I didn’t have these wide-open fields to calm me.  I am so tied to this earth when I see the fields.  I understand the tie my family has had to this place and to this land and soil.  I understand the connection, the love, the care and husbandry.  When I see this fields, I see history and generations of families.  I felt my stress ebb as I once again let the land soothe and speak to me.

As I pulled into my long driveway, I saw the gentle shadows dappling the pavement.  Lola saw me, and her face lit up.  She ran to the car to tell me about her day.  I walked in the door, “Hey, babe!” from T.  Emily was standing there to give me a hug.  She knew how bad my day had been.  I had called to talk to her about Grandma earlier.  She told me that she was going to come to the concert with me to help out.  Aww….love that girl!  T warmed me a plate of last night’s leftovers while I sat down for a moment.  I had an hour at home, but it refreshed me.  I didn’t want to leave, but I felt more like myself again.  Yes, this is a bad, even terrible time, but there is still so much to be thankful for.  There is still so much beauty in this world.

For a few moments, I allowed myself to feel good, to feel the blessings and beauty of life.  Just for a few moments, because I can’t forget the pain and suffering that my mom is going through.  No wonder we fight so hard to keep living even when it is well-past the point of a healthy existence.  She is so sick, yet she wants to go on and on.  The beauty and joy of the world around us what we struggle to hold onto.  I hope that the beauty on the other side can compare, because this world we live in is almost more beauty than I can take in.

As I drove back to the city for the concert, my phone rang.  It was a young mentally handicapped woman who has volunteered for me in the past.  She was asking if she could help out tonight.  She sounded so happy and excited when I assured her that I would love her company.  This young woman has been damaged from birth.  Each and every day is a challenge for her, and yet she has such joy in helping others.  She is a blessing in my life.  I need to remember all these blessings big and small.

The concert was fine.  The weather was fabulous.  The night was hot, but there was a cool breeze off of the river.  The plaza was beautiful.  T designed all of the planters this year, and they’re glorious!  I felt a sense of pride.  I love my job, and almost four years into this, I am seeing real, tangible improvements.  I (not just ME, but my program) am making a difference.  I’m a perfectionist, and I am hard on myself, but tonight I felt so proud.

As we sat there watching the band and the crowd, my phone buzzed.  A friend sent me a text asking about my mom and what my plans were for the weekend.  I felt happy that she was thinking of me at that moment.  A while later, my phone buzzed again.  When I opened the text, I laughed out loud.  It was from a friend that I see only at conferences.  It was a silly picture he had taken with his phone.  He had a big, fat cigar hanging out of his mouth.  This wonderful man brightened my night just by sending a picture and saying “Hey!”  I miss him.  He has been a true gentleman and a friend.  I’m not sure why he entered my life, but I know that I am glad that he is a part of it now.  I sent him a text thanking him for the smile.

Tonight I held on tightly to all of these small, unrelated, but dear,  acts of kindness.  A text, a phone call, an offer of help, a plate full of leftovers warmed in the microwave, these simple little gestures lifted my heart and my spirits.  Yes, there are some fine people in this world.  I don’t HATE being me as I said last night.  Oh, I did in that moment, but that moment is past.  I am afraid.  I know that what lies ahead is not going to be easy.  The Pollyanna in me is going to be challenged.  I will falter and fall down, but hopefully, I will remember these good people in my life.  Hopefully, the next time someone offers to help shoulder my burden, I won’t be too proud and bull-headed to allow them to help.

I am breathing deeply tonight, and my heart feels full of peace and love once again.  My day is finally over, and my feet are propped up on the coffee table.  T is asleep in a chair (as usual!) and Andrew is across the room.  Lola is dreaming the dreams of an 8-year-old on summer vacation.  The other two kids are romancing the night away.  These are my moments of quiet and restoration for whatever life has in store for me tomorrow.

 

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Step A Little Closer…

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This day has sucked, but I will write about that later.  I have all the love my heart can muster for the good people who help me out in this sometimes senseless and painful life.  I am blessed with precious friends.  I hope when the good times return again, I never lose sight of their value in my life.

For those who don’t care to help me shoulder my burden, that’s OK.  I won’t help you with your load either.

For those who have only added to my burdens and pain, this one’s for you.  Today is National Slap An Asshole Day, http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210769078960610, and I am attending!  If you’re and asshole, and you deserve to be slapped, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!

Ahhhh……  I feel a lot better now!!!  🙂

 

Not Good News…And Alone

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I am exhausted.  I don’t remember the last time I went to bed at a normal time.  I don’t remember what it was like to sleep through the night or to feel rested.  Tonight, I’m just feeling cruddy and worn out.

I’m not sure when things will ever settle down and feel right in my world again.  I try so hard to keep a good attitude.  I have been trying hard to place value on the things that are good and true in my life, but every time I turn around,  LIFE is waiting right there to slap me in the face.

Work is exhausting me.  The more staff I have, the more I delegate, the more responsibilities and duties are piled up around me.  Shit.  I am just so tired of having to maintain professionalism.  I want to slump back in my chair or crawl under my desk and take a nap.  Hey, or read a good book.  I remember when I used to enjoy reading.  I used to read over 300 books each year.  I kept a spreadsheet of author, title, date read, and my opinion of the book.  I used to write pre-publication reviews for a major publishing house in exchange for free books.  Oh, how I looked forward to each new shipment of books!  Did I really used to be that woman?  I would say I miss her, but I don’t.  She made a huge mess of my life and left me to dig my way out of it all.

I spent the day juggling.  I have issues.  I have a job to do.  My mom is still in the hospital and not doing well.  Yesterday, her doctors did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy.  There were problems.  A blockage was found.  Today Mom had an ultrasound and a CAT scan followed by a biopsy.  It was not good news.  She has ovarian cancer.

I received this news once I was already home from work, after visiting the hospital.  I pulled into a driveway full of cars.  My kids’ cars, T’s car, and my kids’ friends’ cars.  Oh, lucky me!  Everyone was going to be here for dinner.  After a day like today, I had to feed 9 people.  I actually took my plate of food out to the patio to eat.  The kitchen was crowded, and I just wanted to be alone.  Once the dinner mess was cleaned up, I went upstairs to call my mom to see how she was feeling.  That’s when I got the news.  I stood there alone.  T was on a bike ride.  The kids were all settled in.  Some were in the living room watching a movie.  Others were in the TV room playing video games.  I had made sure that their evening was going to be nice.  T was out enjoying the warm summer night.  There I stood, alone with my bad news.  Really?  Who gives a shit?

Those moments felt so damn lonely.  I’m an only child.  While I have never been terribly close to my mother, she is my mother.  Dad is gone.  I have no siblings still living.  My children, while they would be sad to lose Grandma, are not close to her.  It will not be a huge blow to them.  Their lives will go on as always.  T won’t care.  In fact, it will be a burden lifted from his life.  No more dealing with all of the issues that have been plaguing us since my father’s death.  So, I am alone in this, at least in these moments.  This does not touch anyone in this entire world in the way it touches me.  I am the daughter.  Soon, I will have no more parents.  Soon, I will have no family to fall back on, just the family that falls back on me.

Tomorrow will come….tomorrow.  I have to work.  I will be emceeing a concert tomorrow night.  I HAVE TO BE THERE.  No matter what goes on in my life or in my heart, there are so many things that I HAVE TO DO.  How will I juggle all that I HAVE to do?

Even now, I want to sleep.  I just want to pull the covers up and sink into blackness.  I can’t.   There are guests in my house.  T is watching TV on our bed, so I don’t have a place to sleep.  Andrew is still out, and I can’t settle in for the night until I know he is home safely.  There is laundry to be done.  I need to vacuum.

Yeah, I am in a shitty, complaining mood.  I just want the trauma, drama, and pain in my life to end.  I want to run away from my life.  I want to run away from being ME.  BEING ME  SUCKS.

Out On The Weekend ~ Neil Young

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I love this song, even though I’m not really a huge Neil Young fan.  This song has been running through my head ALL day, so I had to look up the video and hear the whole thing.

Believe it or not, but I can play the harmonica part to this tune.  Back in the day…poor, but happy days, we didn’t have a dishwasher.  I washed all the dishes by hand every night wearing the kind of harmonica holder that guitar players wear when they play harp.  Yep…just stood there like a dork playing the harmonica along to CD’s while I did the dishes.  I was the Bob Dylan of the kitchen!

 

 

Hey, You! Over Here!

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Something strange happened to me  one day last week, and it got me to thinking.  Strange things are always happening to me.  I am a magnet for the world’s oddities.  I happen to believe that it’s because I am open to new experiences.  I am always waiting for meaning in my life.  I keep the lines of communication open to the world beyond.  I have a lot of friends there.  They might want to get in touch with me!

I started, what has now become a tradition, a few years ago.  Souper Sundays.  I love to make big batches of soup in the winter.  I love to have people over for Sunday dinner.  And thus, Souper Sundays were born.  If you like soup, and it’s Sunday, then c’mon over!  The kids always knew that friends could be invited for Sunday dinner.  My parents often came, too.  Through the years, we have had regulars Sunday guests.  Some still come for dinner on Sundays.  Others, not as frequently, but always they know that they’re welcome.  Out of Souper Sundays, another tradition has grown, too.  In the summertime, Cheeseburger Sundays have replaced Souper Sundays.  We don’t just serve cheeseburgers.  Last Sunday, we had hot dogs and brats, too, but you get the drift.

When I told my (former) therapist about Souper Sundays, she claimed that I “collect strays.”  I had never thought of it in such terms, but she was right.  I hate for people to be alone or lonely.  I want those around me to feel welcome and cared for.  I want to trust that people are basically good.  Oh, and have I mentioned that trusting and welcoming people into my life has bit me in the butt a time or two? 😦   For the most part, collecting strays, as my therapist called it, has been one of the most rewarding things in my life.  I have an eclectic group of friends.  I cherish the hell out of them.  I’ve met some of the best people in the world, because I have been willing to take that chance and reach out to them.

Tonight as I drove home from work, my phone rang.  It was one of my best friends, a 70-year-old man.  He frequently comes over for Souper Sundays.  Yes, he was a person that I brought home and made a part of our lives.  He also became one of the most influential people in my life.  He became my mentor and my shoulder to cry on.  He became a friend to T, who loves to fish with him, and he became like a grandpa to the kids.  I was so thankful to hear his voice tonight, to talk and laugh with him, and to hear the smile in his voice as we caught up on each other’s lives.  I felt so thankful as I drove along talking to him that I had to burst out and tell him how much I loved him.  He laughed so genuinely and said, “I love you, too.”  Good friendships are priceless!

Back to the incident last week.  After meeting T for a quick lunch, I stopped by Target to pick up a few household items.  I was browsing around in the women’s clothing department, when a woman stopped me.  She said, “Can I ask you a question?”  I said she could, but instead of asking me anything,  she stood there scrolling through pictures on her phone.  I waited, but was a little freaked out.  What kind of picture was she going to show me?  Did I look like someone she knew?  Once she found the picture she had been looking for, she flipped her phone around for me to see.  “Do you think this dress is appropriate to wear to a funeral?”

Oh, my.  No.  It most certainly was NOT something that I would wear to a funeral.  It was the kind of dress that I would see someone else wearing in such a situation and wonder what in the hell they were thinking!  It had spaghetti straps and was a maxi dress.  I LOVE the new maxi dresses that are out this year.  Too bad I will never get a chance to wear one!  I’m so short that it would look like I was playing dress up in my mother’s clothes.  Even if I hemmed a maxi dress, it would still never look right on me.  Maxi dresses are for beautiful, tall, stately women.  To pull of a maxi dress, you must be lanky and elegant.  That is NOT me!   Hey, accept what you have.  I love the dresses, just not for ME.

This poor woman asking for my advice obviously owned the maxi dress that she had pictured.  Uh oh…  I didn’t know what to do.  First of all, it was definitely NOT appropriate to wear to a funeral.  I felt bad, though, when I looked up at her.  She looked so hopeful!  She said,  “What if I wear a white shawl with it?”  (Oh, boy…..yuck!)  Also, she didn’t look like she had a great deal of money to spend.  I don’t mean to be judgmental here.  Been there, done that, recognize the look.  So, I went against my fantastic fashion sense, and gave her some practical advice.  I suggested that a white shawl may look a little too perky for a funeral.  Yeah, I think I used the word perky.  I suggested that maybe she could use a lightweight, short-sleeved flyaway cardigan.  I told her that it was such a versatile piece of clothing to own.  You could pair it with so many things, and it just so happened that I had seen one a few moments ago that would be just perfect.  (Perfect if you HAD to wear a maxi dress to a funeral.)  This woman and I took off across the department to check out the cardigans.  When she saw it, her eyes lit up.  YES!

We were both so happy about this fashion find, that I forgot that she was outfitting herself for a funeral.  Heck, I think we almost hugged.  I quickly apologized for her loss.  She reassured me that it was no big deal.  Very old person, more like a family reunion.  Well, OK…

You would think the story would end there, just a tale to tell, but no.  Yesterday, I was in kind of a cruddy, sad mood.  I was driving down a busy street on my way to lunch.  I was feeling kind of (no, VERY) lonely.  As I drove along, I glanced up.  There she was.  Wow.  I was shocked.  There was the maxi dress woman walking along on the sidewalk.  It looked like she was just out taking a walk on a beautiful summer day.  She looked up just as I looked over at her.  In the moment that I recognized her, she also recognized me.  Her face lit up, and she waved like we were old friends.  There.  That is why I keep on trusting and believing in the goodness of people.   Most people…just not all of them.

A New Day….And I Needed One!

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I’m not going to write another emotional, complaining blog tonight.  Sometimes, it is so easy to get caught up in everything that is wrong.  It’s easy to lose sight of the good, especially when some periods of your life are leaning so far onto the other side of the line.  Today I listened to myself and actively (or mentally) kicked a few things to the curb.  There is only so much of this world that I have any control over.  My own responses and my own actions, though, that is where I DO have some control.  I can feel the weight of all that is wrong and let it press me down, or I can rear up roaring like a lion and fight back.  Well, maybe not a lion, but today I stopped being the martyr in my own life for a little while.

While I was at work, I picked up the phone and made a few calls to the other members of the household and asked for a few things to be done by the time I got home from work.  Didn’t want to?  Well, that’s OK.  You can stay home tonight and do it.  So…it was lovely to come home from work to a mowed lawn, Emily grilling chicken with pecan rub, and all of the laundry put away, actually put away, in dressers!

While dinner was cooking, I enjoyed a Special Pepsi on the patio.  The warm breeze was lovely.  The dinner was great, too.  The kids were loving and pleasant.  Ah….I needed a day like this.  After dinner, I had a wonderful messy, sweaty time pulling weeds in the garden.

Selfish, selfish night.  I didn’t think about one damn thing besides what I, yes ME, wanted to do!  It  has been a long time since I took just a few hours for myself and said, “To HELL with all the rest of the world.  These few hours belong to ME.”

Here is a little part of MY world:

This is my little fenced in garden.  Over the years, it has taken on a life of its own.  I once grew flowers for drying in this garden, but the Brown-Eyed Susan have taken over.  That’s fine by me!  I fill vase after vase until the first hard frost.

 

And here we are inside the fenced garden.  The Monarda is just beginning to bloom.  In the foreground, you can see the Globe Thistle.  I still dry that each year (oh, except for the past two years…)  It is the most beautiful periwinkle blue when it is in full bloom.

Here are a few of my little gnome guys!  I LOVE gnomes.  The poor big guy looks like he bumped his nose!  The gnome pots are on the front patio.

I call this guy “Granddaddy Hosta.”  This is the first hosta I ever bought.  It was probably about 20 years ago now, and I’ve moved it about five times.  He’s pretty happy in this spot.  I wish this picture could do him justice.  He is HUGE.

Right Through You ~ Alanis Morissette

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I LOVE this song!  My favorite line is, “You took a long hard look at my ass, and then played golf for a while.”  Makes me smile every time I hear it!  I think we all know people like that.  Here’s to all the selfish, self-serving people in this world, and to those good people who See Right Through Them.  I’ve been feeling a little Alanis Morissette myself today.  I believe that I might be creating my own No Spin Zone.  Hmm….  I’ll have to come up with my own name for it….  Looks like I’ve got my mad girl going on tonight!

Here are the lyrics:

Wait a minute man
You mispronounced my name
You didn’t wait for all the information
Before you turned me away
Wait a minute sir
You kind of hurt my feelings
You see me as a sweet back-loaded puppet
And you’ve got meal ticket taste

I see right through you
I know right through you
I feel right through you
I walk right through you

You took me for a joke
You took me for a child
You took a long hard look at my ass 
And then played golf for a while 
Your shake is like a fish
You pat me on the head
You took me out to wine dine 69 me
But didn’t hear a damn word I said

Hello Mr. Man
You didn’t think I’d come back
You didn’t think I’d show up with my army
And this ammunition on my back
Now that I’m Miss Thing
Now that I’m a zillionaire
You scan the credits for your name
And wonder why it’s not there