The Day Before the Election

Monday, November, 7, 2016

This evening, I’ll be in the Sternberger Elementary School cafeteria helping to set up for the election. While I am there,  members of my church will gather for a prayer service:

Breathe, Pray, Love

A time of quiet, music and prayers for peace and healing

I doubt we are the only church or the only people praying the day before this election.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll turn off my alarm clock at 4:30am. It is DARK at that hour. I’ll shower and dress and gather my supplies (green tea, Diet Coke, change of shoes) to spend the day as an assistant poll worker. Yes, I’m one of those nice, grey-haired ladies who checks you in, gives you an “I voted” sticker, and leads you over to the voting machine.

In NC, voting sites are open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. Anyone in line at 7:30 pm gets to vote, no matter how long it takes. It’s a long, long day. And we can’t leave, other than to go down the hall to the bathroom.

All the poll workers bring food. The chief judge makes crockpot soup that is available whenever we get a chance to eat. I made banana muffins. One (male) voter ususally brings us freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I hope he didn’t vote early. There will likely be plenty of food.

Our precinct is majority white Republican and upper middle class so I don’t expect conflict or commotion. And I hope there’s no conflict or commotion at any polling place anywhere. I’m not confident that will be the case. I’ve never worried about that before.

I’ve been a politics geek most of my life. My Gramma Bryant taught my mother how to be a Democrat and Mom and Dad taught us. We always watched the news growing up and discussed current events at the dinner table. The retired man I live with and I did that with our children and I see it continuing with theirs.

My older daughter took her 4-year-old daughter, who said she wanted “the girl” to win, to vote early. She sent me a picture of Maggie with an “I voted” sticker. I posted it on Facebook with the caption “Voted for the 1st woman president.”

And my younger daughter will take her kids to vote on Election Day. I hope she lets 6 1/2-year-old Adaline push the button for Hillary so she, too, can say she voted for the first woman president.

If you haven’t voted yet, I hope you do. You have no right to complain, ever, if you don’t! Thank you to all the North Carolina voters who voted early–you’ve made Election Day much easier!

Remember to breathe as you wait for this long, difficult campaign to end. And please do pray for peace and healing. We all have to live together after tomorrow, whatever the result.

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Published in: on November 7, 2016 at 4:13 pm  Comments (4)  
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Poof! Gone.

I’ve never written about the day my sister died. Not in a journal, not in a workshop, not for this blog.

She jumped out of a small plane on June 10, 1972. Her parachute didn’t open. Neither did the reserve. She was almost 19. I was 20.

Her death played out in my mind over and over last week. I don’t know what triggered it. The retired man I live with said I moaned in my sleep a couple of nights. It was time to write and let go of something. What?

I decided to write it as the 1st chapter of a memoir. I opened a new blank Word document and started typing.

I never really learned to type and now my hands are damaged by my arthritis so I am a two-index-finger writer. The other fingers just sort of hang there. It works for me. Usually.

I typed 4 1/2 pages. I came back from going to the bathroom, sat down at the computer and looked at a blank page.

All my writing was gone. I felt sick, but didn’t panic. I figured one of my wandering fingers had hit something. Surely I could recapture it.

And I could have, had I saved any of it.

I DIDN’T SAVE. Any of it.

I write this blog on the WordPress website and it automatically saves every so often. I don’t have to remember to save. So I never thought to save while I dug deep into the narrative of my sister’s death.

I called my daughter who knows more computer than I do. I’d already done the things she suggested. I tried everything I could find in the Word Help menu.

It was gone. Poof. Out into the universe.

I sat and stared at the blank document.

And I laughed.

Last Saturday at my women’s AA meeting we discussed acceptance. AA’s Big Book includes this paragraph:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

What if writing the story of when my sister died was enough?

What if the process mattered more than the product?

What if letting go and acceptance mattered the most?

 

 

Published in: on August 23, 2016 at 10:28 am  Comments (13)  
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“Where’re you from?”

That question always make me sigh. You see, I lived in 5 towns and 4 states by the time I was 15. My dad kept getting better jobs in new places so off we’d go. As I read recently in a book by Tracy K. Smith, we’d “throw ourselves into new schools with blind hope.”

I usually answer that question with “We moved a lot, all over the Midwest.” Sometimes that just confuses people. If I’m feeling a bit ornery, I’ll give them the line about “4 elementary schools, 1 junior high, and 2 high schools.” That usually gets a pitying “Wow.”  I find a weird satisfaction in that.

When I had kids of my own, I wanted them to have a Home to come home to. I wanted for them what the retired man I live with had growing up in Munhall, right outside Pittburgh. We couldn’t recreate the huge extended family nearby (my parents were in Ohio and my mother-in-law was in Munhall), but we could give them Home right here in NC.

For part of their childhood, their dad traveled all of NC and SC as a salesman of surgical instruments. He was gone at least a couple of nights a week for most of their elementary years. He spent so much time in Columbia, SC, that I joked about his other family in SC. (The girls still don’t think that’s funny.) It would have made sense for us to move to Columbia or Greenville, SC, but I said no. I didn’t want to uproot our kids and make them leave Home. We all paid the price for staying Home.

He made up for being gone with “quests” and many outings like the Science Center zoo on the weekends. He gave them unconditional love and doting attention. I appreciated him taking them away on Saturdays! Maybe he tried harder to be a good dad because he was gone so much.

Now the girls are gone, married with kids of their own. The retired man I live with and I have started having the The Conversation about downsizing. We moved across town into this big house when our kids were 11 and 13, 25 years ago. It has served us well, but it’s more house than we need now.

Just in the last few days, I’ve realized our house is Home to only two of us. Our kids each have a Home of their own. Our house is Mom and Dad’s house or Amma and Grandpa’s house for our daughters.

It’s okay for us to give up this house, our Home, and find a smaller, all-on-level, less-expensive-to-maintain Home. Do I look forward to the sorting and purging process? Of course not. But I do like the idea of having less stuff. It’s time.

The main challenge of aging, it seems, is to feel and accept all the change and losses along the way. Leaving Home will be a challenge and a loss for all of us.

Maybe it can be an adventure, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 23, 2016 at 11:13 am  Comments (3)  
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Continual Partial Attention :)

I multi-tasked for the last few hours. And now I believe the research that says Continual Partial Attention is inefficient and makes tasks take longer to complete.

I have a bag full of Christmas CD’s that I decided this morning should be downloaded to my iTunes library. My Macbook Air laptop is thin and very light. We bought it because I dropped the heavier, older laptop I had before one too many times. This one’s sleekness requires a CD thing to be attached with a USB cord for playing or downloading a CD.

So first I had to find the CD thingy. It was in the basement with the laptop belonging to the retired man I live with (we don’t share well). I put a load of laundry in the washer while I was down there. Which I just realized I never put in the dryer. That’s how well I multi-task these days.

After downloading a couple of CD’s, it dawned on me I could do something else on the same computer at the same time.

Weeks ago, I told my 93-year-old aunt that I’d print some of my blog posts for her because a while back her computer died and she hasn’t replaced it. (Hint to my cousin, Mike–she’s hoping for some sort of tablet for Christmas from you all.) She says my blog is the only thing she’s missed. I love her!

I couldn’t remember when her computer died so I printed all the posts from this year. I read and relived all of them as I pulled them up, of course.

It’s been a challenging year, with bouts of depression followed by spells of slowly recovering and coming back out of the darkness. That’s obvious from my posts. And I remembered and relived all the ups and downs.

Then I’d realize a CD was done. I’d eject that one and put in another one and go back to the blog posts. After I made a cup of tea.

This quote taped to the turtle tea cup holder on my desk reminds me my life has purpose and meaning:

When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers…Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift…Our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Now, if I sync my computer iTunes and my iPhone iTunes, I can try out my Christmas music on the new Bluetooth speaker in the living room that the retired man I live with bought for himself the other day. Seems easier to just play the CD’s, doesn’t it?

And I still need to dry that load of clothes.

And find a big envelope and then figure out postage to mail the blog posts to my aunt. I  really don’t want to go to the post office in the middle of December. Maybe I can just send them from the UPS store.

And the tasks continue…

I’m ready for a nap.

 

Published in: on December 14, 2015 at 3:23 pm  Comments (4)  
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Sigh.

If you ask the retired man I live with how I am, he’s likely to answer, “Mean as a snake.” And you, most likely, will laugh, thinking he’s just being cute.  But he tells the truth, at least a partial truth.

I have a wicked streak in my personality that not everyone gets to see or hear.  Sometimes it comes out as sarcastic comments under my breath during a meeting or workshop.  Sometimes it’s a look exchanged with a friend who knows which person gets under my skin anytime she or he speaks.  Sometimes I just sigh.  I sigh a lot in October.

A week or so ago, my WHOLE daily newspaper was pink. Even the comics and the horoscopes.  I sighed, several times.

A few days later, I walked through the den while the retired man I live with was watching a pro football game.  Pink tights and pink Nike cleats with tight white football pants is not a good look for a beefy offensive lineman.  Or anyone else, probably.  I sighed.

My mother-in-law died of breast cancer, as did 2 of her sisters.  My sister-in-law lives with that genetic legacy.  So do my 2 daughters.  One of their friends had a preventative double mastectomy in her 30’s because of her family history.  I have friends who are breast cancer survivors.

I’m jealous of the Pink for Breast Cancer marketing juggernaut.  Who turned my newspaper pink?  And who talked football players into wearing hot pink tights?

Most families have faced some kind of cancer.

My brother had melanoma twice and died of metastatic cancer of unknown origin.  He had it everywhere and chose not to have treatment and go ahead and die swiftly a year ago.

My mother had throat cancer.  After radiation that killed her salivary glands, she ended up with no ability to taste food and lost all her teeth.

I am a cancer survivor.  I know what that means and how it feels. Nine years ago I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Surgery removed one malignant lymph node and another disappeared (??).  My cancer has been in remission since.  I try to forget that it could come back.

My newspaper printed an article recently by Pat Trotta, a local breast cancer survivor.  Here is an excerpt:

Recovery [after her mastectomy on October 1, 2012] was swift and painless, with my biggest problem being cabin fever. As soon as my surgeon gave me the OK to get out of the house, I just put the bulb of my drain tube in the pocket of my jeans and did what most women would do: I went shopping. I was thrilled at the prospect of a little retail therapy so I could quit thinking about the darn cancer.

My first stop was my favorite home improvement store, where the first thing I saw was a display of Pink Ribbon door knobs. My second stop was my favorite office supply store, where I was bowled over by a huge display that ranged from “Pink Ribbon Uni-Ball Gel Pens” to a pink-handled No. 8 scissors that claimed to “raise awareness about breast cancer.”

I was shopping to forget my breast cancer, but instead there were reminders everywhere I looked. I felt like I was in a frantic recurring nightmare, running from store to store, with more pink items ready to attack me behind the door of every retail establishment.

I had to get away from all this pink! I decided to watch a football game, surely a no-pink haven. Wrong! I thought I was having hallucinations when I saw NFL cheerleaders with pink pom-poms and football players with pink cleats. Apparently it has become politically incorrect to ignore pink in October. Employers are forcing their employees to wear pink shirts for a month.

This has gone too far…

I did some research and found that there are 48 colors and color combinations of “awareness ribbons” representing 221 types of cancer. So what about the other 220 diseases? What do their ribbons look like?

My solution is to start referring to October as “Cancer Awareness Month” and include all types of cancers. I actually feel selfish that all the focus and attention is on my type of cancer.

As retailers consider Pinktober for next year, my wish is that these displays would include products in all colors, reflecting all types of cancer.

One of my daughters started making tie-dye shirts last week.  I’m going to ask her to make all of us October shirts using these cancer awareness colors (the ones that have affected our family): Pink (breast), Dark blue (colon), White (lung), Lime (lymphoma), Black (melanoma), Burgundy (head/neck), and Plum (for caregivers).

What colors will you use?

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm  Comments (4)  
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Tapestry

On her mother’s  last day (though no one knew it was her last day), Terry got some help and pushed her mother’s bed out a door and into a garden.  Her mother lived through a decade of dementia and had been actively dying for 2 1/2 weeks with Terry by her side.  It was a beautiful early spring day and a comfortable breeze ruffled through the new blooms.  A robin sang  for them.  A bee buzzed around her mother’s head for a long time.  Terry thinks it was her dead brother, Jimmy.  Betty died outside in the spring garden air that afternoon.

I don’t believe in a God that manipulates us like marionettes.  I do believe God offers us situations and opportunities that can move us in one direction or another and that our choices have consequences, both immediate and long-term.

I like the idea of life as a tapestry.  These words are from “Tapestry,” a Carole King song you can easily find on youtube:

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous, woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold

On the back side of a tapestry, strings of many colors go every-which-way, knots sit in unexpected places, blank places look bare, strings overlap, and some just hang loose.  On the front side, a beautiful picture emerges.

I was assigned a project, maybe in 6th or 7th grade, to learn about two professions.  I picked teaching and foreign service.  I researched foreign service requirements and options like working in an embassy or for the State Dept in DC.  The work fascinated me, but I remember no encouragement at school or at home for such an ambition.

I expected to be a teacher most of my life.  I enjoyed school and good grades had value in my family.  My parents both taught after college.  I never really knew I had other choices.  What did other girls  who became attorneys or ministers or scientists hear that I did not?

I started taking French in 7th grade and took it all through high school and even took a French literature class (in French) in college.  It came easily for me. I loved the sound of it and all I learned about French culture and way of life.

My college choices came down to UNC and Duke.  UNC=Special Education.  Duke=French.  I was the oldest of 3 kids close together in age.  Our college costs would overlap for years.  I chose UNC, a state school with much lower tuition. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and found a husband.

In the mid-1970’s, in my 20’s, I taught at the Tammy Lynn Center, a private residential and educational facility for the mentally handicapped in Raleigh, NC.  Terry’s brother, Jimmy, who she thinks came to their mother as a bee as she was dying, lived at the Center while I was there and attended the school during the day.  Terry’s parents were among the founders of Tammy Lynn Center and I remember talking with them.  We discovered this surprising connection during a get-to-know-each-other lunch a few years ago.

After our children left home, my husband and I took my dream trip–a week in Paris.  Though I hadn’t spoken French for over 20 years, much came back to me. I bought a necklace from a woman who spoke no English using my memory and my French-English dictionary.  I was fearless!  I fell in love with everything French.  I think I was French in another life.  I went back with my daughters a year later.

I am grateful for each day I have.  Since a cancer diagnosis 9 years ago followed quickly by remission, I danced at both my daughter’s weddings, am blessed with 3 grandchildren nearby and am still happily married to the husband I found at Carolina, though I call him “the-retired-man-I-live-with” now.  I even went back to Paris–alone!

I love and treasure the life I live these days.  My daughters like to spend time with us and willingly share their children with us.  I volunteer at church and with a non-profit that serves those touched by HIV/AIDS.  I’ve been sober for almost 27 years.  I have friends from all parts of this community where we have deep roots. My tapestry is knotty and messy on the back.  The front is beautiful.

But sometimes I wonder…what if I’d taken another path?  Why did no one encourage me to take a different piece of string for my tapestry?  What would it have looked like?

 

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 8:47 am  Comments (15)  
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Enough Is Enough

When I started this blog, I set an intention: to leave pieces of myself for Adaline (and then Maggie and Atticus) to find when they got older and I wasn’t around anymore and they started to wonder who “Robin” was besides a sort-of cool grandmother. In the first post, on June 9, 2010, I explained the blog title, “Amma Ponders:”

The ammas, as they were called, help us to find ways to gently pay attention to God’s presence with us in all places and through all things. And they teach us to grow in the awareness that we are each unique, remarkable parts of a vast, vital, interconnected cosmos. The word means mother. It came to refer to those women who were spiritual mothers to many. Their insistence on practicing silence, solitude and stillness provides a kind of medicine for our over-heated, frenetic culture.”

“Amma Ponders” reflects my spirituality.  Depressed, my ability “to gently pay attention to God’s presence with us in all places and through all things” disappeared.  I had no energy for that.  I practiced isolation rather than solitude. And I wrote little.

My new antidepressant helps me today.  My joints and my soul love the few sunny, 50-60 degree days we had lately.  I am waking up and looking out beyond myself.

I’ll be 62 years old in a few weeks.  And, once again, I want to know what I will be when I grow up.  Several wise ammas and abbas (men) listened to my string of “I don’t know…” sentences the other day and led me to a knowledge that it is okay not to know.  One woman quoted Julian of Norwich, “Await.”  An ex-Marine-Episcopal-priest said, “I may not know where I am, but I know I’m not lost.”  Another woman spoke of “glimmers of grace.”  And a woman older than I “still has an ambition to give.”

I pondered their words for several days.  I sat down to write this morning.  I found myself re-reading that first blog post about why I picked “Amma” for my grandmother name.

For a lot of years, I answered “stay-at-home-mom” to the question, “What do you do?”  That was my calling.  And once I got sober, I got pretty good at it. But I was never sure “mother” was enough.

Amma “means mother. Their insistence on practicing silence, solitude and stillness provides a kind of medicine for our over-heated, frenetic culture.”

I am a grownup. I am a child of God.  I am Amma.  And that is enough.

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 11:46 am  Comments (10)  
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Table for One

Last Thursday I was co-pilot and navigator for the retired man I live with while we delivered Mobile Meals to home-bound seniors. A few are couples, most are single men who take a while to get to the door. We had to ask at each stop if they needed a meal for Thanksgiving. Over half did, just for one person.

A haunting picture lives in my brain these days: an older man in a white undershirt watching the Macy’s parade eating a reheated Thanksgiving dinner on a metal tv tray (remember those?) with a carton of milk like we had in elementary school.  The meal was delivered about 9:30 Thanksgiving morning by a nice man with a Mobile Meals sign on top of his car.  That picture is slowly breaking my heart.

Every third Thursday of the month, the retired man I live with and I stick a Mobile Meals sign on top of the white Camry and deliver a hot meal sealed in a little black plastic tray (like a Lean Cuisine), mostly to older men living alone but sometimes to a couple still living together or an older woman.  (I’m 61–they are older, not old.) The meals are prepared by Golden Corral and packed in expensive special coolers so they stay hot.  Last Thursday we delivered Salisbury steak, rice, mixed vegetables, hot apple slices, milk, juice, and a peanut butter cookie.  The meals ride in the coolers, one hot, one cold, in the back seat.  They all seem to smell the same, no matter what’s in the tray.

The retired man I live with takes the meals to the front door.  Often the recipient is waiting and opens the door as he approaches.  I wait in the car and put the next address into the GPS.  He gives me a report.  One man must be ex-military–he is always sharply groomed and the part of the apartment visible from the front stoop is clean and tidy.  Last week he didn’t get a meal.  Our sheet says he is in the hospital. Another man’s place smells awful and I can see his baggy, used-to-be-white undershirt as he reaches for the food.  A man who takes care of his wife writes a poem and gives us a copy each month.  His faith spills out on the page.

One person didn’t answer the door last Thursday and we didn’t know if she was in the hospital or visiting family.  We gave that meal to a man standing with a cardboard sign on the corner near Panera, at the Target-PetSmart-Payless Shoes shopping center.  We had no forks or knives, but he gratefully took the food.  “It’s hot!” he said about the food and he smiled and blessed us and said “It’s a good day because God let me get up this morning.” We were quiet for a bit as we drove off.  I don’t think he cared how it smelled.

Once we tried to give a leftover meal to a woman holding a cardboard sign standing on the corner beside Chik Fil-A, not far from the Whole Foods parking lot.  I rolled down my window, asked if she wanted the meal and she asked me what it was. I told her (it was meatloaf, I think) and she said “No.” Not even “No, thanks.” I was speechless. We found a skinny man (a boy?) on another corner and he was hungry and even had his own plastic fork and knife.  He smiled and said, “Thank you!”

Thanksgiving is this week.  We will drive to our daughter’s house in Raleigh and get there around noon.  Our son-in-law will be creating a feast, my daughter will be setting the table with a white tablecloth, china, flowers and candles.  I’ll contribute a casserole dish of corn pudding and homemade Blueberry Cranberry Sauce.  We’ll visit with some of our son-in-law’s relatives that we only see once or twice a year and get in line to play with our almost-2-year-old granddaughter.  My daughter wants us to go around the table and share memories of my brother who died this summer.  He was always part of our holidays.

Before we go to Raleigh, the retired man I live with and I will gather with many other volunteers in the parking lot at the Greensboro Coliseum to pick up meals to deliver to clients of Triad Health Project. I’m on the Board of Directors for this non-profit that serves people who are HIV positive.  The Mobile Meals volunteers will be there, too, in another line.

Two restaurant owners started over 20 years ago fixing Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who wanted one .  The project has grown into a massive community volunteer effort.  So many people have offered to help that they have a waiting list for volunteers! Meals will also be served on real plates at tables with real tablecloths and centerpieces a 2 churches (one is our church) and Urban Ministry’s Potter House.  Church vans with volunteer drivers will make a couple of stops downtown and carry folks to the places with food and then take them back downtown nurtured and fed.

Our own Thanksgiving feast is easier to swallow when we know so many others are eating well, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 10:45 am  Comments (8)  
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Young…Middle-Aged…(??)….Old!

Stephanie:  “Mom, great outfit! (turquoise t-shirt, jeans, bright coral cardigan)  “You look so young!  You need to dye your hair.”

My hair is gray.  Different shades of gray.  Whitish in the front, darker in the back.  But all gray.  I like it.

Me:  “No, actually I don’t need to.  This is me.”

Comfortable, mildly stylish clothes. At 61, not so young, but also not old.  Cool, definitely cool.

She stared at me for a few seconds and said, “I still think you should dye your hair.”

She is 35.  And already talking about Botox for wrinkles.  I tell her to just buy really good moisturizer and use it faithfully.  Especially on the neck and chest.

“I believe we older people risk wasting the second half of our lives in unconscious compliance with a youth-obsessed culture.”  (Lynne Morgan Spreen)  We need an alternative to the belief that maintaining the appearance of youth is an antidote to aging.

We don’t even have name for this time of life, 55-70!  At 61, there is no question I’m beyond middle age, though I stretched it out through my fifties. I don’t know when “old” starts.  I think it depends on which birthday you last celebrated.

Every morning, I walk down the driveway (actually, the retired man I live with walks down more than I do), get the newspaper and come in to have a cup of tea while I read words printed on newsprint that I hold in my hands.  No matter how many times they redesign the website, I will not cancel my subscription to the printed version.  We older folks like to turn paper pages.  Most days I just read the front page, the obituaries, the editorials, the letters to the editor, the comics, and horoscopes for me and my family.

I started reading the obituaries years ago when I worked as a volunteer coordinator at Hospice.  I learned you don’t have to be old to die, but back then they were usually older than I was.  Most still are, but not all.  A lot are in their 60’s.  A good day is when everyone who died is older than me.  Is that weird?

So, fellow boomers,  what stage of life is 55-70?  We need a name.  Got any ideas?

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 3:59 am  Comments (22)  
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Turtle Pokes Her Head Out

I am an introvert, a Turtle (see “Turtle or Gazelle“), and I’ve been really sad.  This line from the Turtle post sums up where I’ve been:

    Turtle naturally withdraws and goes within

when in turmoil.

It does not need to learn

the importance of this focusing inward,

it naturally knows.

In cancer survivor circles, they talk about Finding Your New Normal.  New Normal comes after a scary diagnosis, falling in love, a death, a birth, a letting go, a child leaving home, a graduation–any life-altering event or moment.

My New Normal includes:

1.  I am the only surviving member of my family of origin.  I used to have a mom and a dad and 2 siblings. (my sister died in 1972).  That’s a lot of memory gone missing.  I still have some questions.

2.  I am really up in my brother’s business and it feels wrong because he was VERY private.  (I’m the executor for his estate.)

3.  I tell people “You better have a will or your family will hate you.”  Yes, my brother had a will and it’s still a pain in the a** to sort out what to do when.  Someone should teach us this stuff at some point.  Thank God for the internet.  And a nice paralegal in Ned Barnes’s office in Carolina Beach..

4.  I am truly grateful for the retired man I live with and am married to, my daughters and sons-in-law, and above all (sorry guys!) my 3 grandchildren.  They stop the sad, at least for a while, and they help me smile and reconnect with what’s real.

5.  I’m not young anymore.  I’m not old yet, but more of my life is behind me than ahead of me.  I want to be aware of every minute I have left–happy, sad, blah, exciting, boring, rainy, sunny, hot, cold or perfect.  Each moment matters.  I guess it always has, but maybe more now.

6.  I read and watch Dr. Oz, the American Ninja competition and Entertainment Tonight instead of drinking, binge-eating, and shopping to temporarily stop my feelings.  Well, sometimes online shopping still acts like it helps, but I’m getting better.  Progress, not perfection, huh?

7.  I think about my brother, Jim, every day.  Partly because there’s stuff I need to do for the estate, partly because his ashes are on the fireplace mantle in the (finished) basement of our house, and partly because I keep remembering I can’t call him because he died.  We probably talked once or twice a month, at best, while he was alive.  I wish it had been more.  So now I feel closer to him than I have for years.  That is sort of confusing.  And why I keep remembering he’s not down at the beach like he’s supposed to be.

8.  Thanksgiving will be hard.  We saw Jim 3-4 times a year.  But he always came for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  He’d drink his Coke Zeros one after the other (he and I both stopped drinking alcohol years ago–bad gene pool.).  He had an amazing caffeine tolerance.  He’d kind of stand back out of the chaos–we were a noisy bunch even before grandchildren–and watch and smile.  We knew he loved us.  And that he liked his not-chaotic, solitary, hardworking life at the beach.  And that was okay.

9.  Jim’s best friend since high school football, Barry, is now my friend, too.  He says Jim was always his quarterback.  Barry was a lineman and his job was to protect Jim.  He is sad, too. We talked on the phone yesterday for an hour and a half.  He told me things I didn’t know about Jim’s past and I told Barry some things, too.  I know my brother better now, thanks to his friends, than I did before he died.  I still love him and I like him even more.

10.  I want to get back to writing amusing or provocative or silly blog posts.  I just had to do this one first.  Thanks for waiting.

(And thank you to the people who have been checking my blog for something new since August 15.  I don’t know who you are, but you are special!)

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 9:44 am  Comments (8)  
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