Posts

Showing posts from June, 2017

FB and the Wild Wild West

The wife and husband friends who owned the farm I lived on for a couple of years more than forty years ago.  Another friend from that same era who now lives in Hawaii. A former coworker who was also briefly a roommate. Several former coworkers from various decades of my career. Two or three old girlfriends and one ex wife. Three or four friends who live thirty miles away but who I rarely see in person. Current friends I've known less than four years. Current coworkers and colleagues. Cousins who I hadn't seen in years.

That's just a partial list of around 400 of my Facebook friends. Some of them are real friends and some are just acquaintances. I have met all but a handful of them and generally don't accept friend requests if I don't really know them or at least know who they are.

Facebook is at times wild, odd, annoying, helpful, revealing and beneficial. Because of Facebook, I found people from my past who I really did want to reconnect with. I also found people…

Dad Again

I'm surprised by how much my Dad is on my mind this month. Yeah, yeah, Father's Day, Hallmark cards, Facebook posts, tv commercials ... it's all part of June every year. It's usually the subject of only one post for me, not three.

My Dad and I had an up and down relationship between my teens and thirties, as I mentioned before, but today I'm immersed in positive thoughts about him and his influence on me; and I promised I'd return to positive posts. So this is one.

He was the ultimate problem-solver. He believe he could solve virtually any problem and fix nearly any broken thing if he could spend enough time studying it. He engaged in his hobbies with professional level skill. He was the family's TV repairman and nearly every cousin has a story about some TV "Uncle Benny" fixed. Most TVs in our house were repaired hand-me-downs until he was finally talked into buying a new one.

He was handy with carpentry. He built our house, for example. Literall…

Dads Day

A psychologist told me after my Dad died more than 15 years ago that grief never really goes away, if just changes over time. She said we should ignore suggestions to 'get over it'. Each of us processes grief and loss in different ways. Intense internal emotional pain can transform into mild sadness in a few months or a few years or never. Nobody else has the right to force their timeline on any of us.

My grief process, in the case of my Dad's death, is like a roller coaster. I held it together the week he died, from the time in the nursing home when I watched him take his last breath till two minutes after they slid his casket into the designated slot in the mausoleum days later. Then as I rolled my Mother in her wheelchair down a long hall back to the limo, I lost it, sobbing all the way down the hall, my sister on one side and a cousin on the other. That same cousin's fraternal twin brother died this week and my grief over his death combined with this being Father&…

The Dad Book

(This is a repost.I realized today that the original was missing the last couple of paragraphs).

"You did a great job raising your kids."

"Thank you."

Months later, as I replayed that last meaningful conversation I had with my Dad in my head, I wondered if he knew he was talking with one of his kids. The facial expression I remember could have been saying he thought he was talking with someone else about his kids. Why the hell didn't I phrase my comment in first person. "You did a great job raising us."

That's the tricky thing about Parkinson's-related dementia: it's hard to tell if the person you're chatting with is in or out of a dementia episode. It's equally challenging to determine if he or she knows they're in or out of an episode.

Dad was aware at some point that he experienced dementia. He told me once that he knew what he saw outside of the kitchen window was the roof of the house next door, but sometimes he was certai…

Write Write Write

I am on a serious role writing this week/month/year. Blog ideas hit me almost every day and many turn into publishable posts. This is the third one I've written today, although I like to spread out the posting a bit.

I fantasized being a writer at some point in my youth. I determined early in college that writing for a living is not a good path for someone who wants stability. I also did not have much confidence in my writing skills, even though my SAT scores led to advanced placement in English courses.

My confidence level is higher now, but I still don't see this as a stable income generator; but maybe writing could be part of a retirement income mix. Hmmmm.

Five published authors are loosely in my social circle. Four of them have written personal, somewhat autobiographical books and the fifth recently published her second novel. None of them make a living writing books but the novelist does make some or all of her income as a freelance reporter.

For years I've felt I h…

MS Stress Mess and Be Yourself

Stress is a significant symptom trigger for those of us who live with Multiple Sclerosis. We are advised to reduce stress. We are also encouraged to not let MS get in the way of living our best lives.

I regularly advise others to reduce stress in their lives and I try to practice what I preach. Funny thing about me (or not so funny): many things are stressful to me. Airplane travel is one of them. I don't really have fear of flying; I do have fear of inconvenience and delays.

My travel companion(s) are probably annoyed by my timeline. I get to airports early. Very early. Two or three hours early. I build in time buffers to allow for traffic jams, parking hassles, long security checkpoint lines, etc. This strategy is based on numerous past situations that resulted in running through airports, something I refuse to do any more, even if I could. I've also encountered massive traffic jams that resulted in missed flights. Not any more, if I can help it. I'd rather be early and…

Breathe

It's unusual for me to spend 4 days in New Orleans without saying a word on Facebook or posting a picture, but recently I did. The visit could have been sad because it involved my cousin in hospice care, presumably near death, and another cousin also living with or in the process of dying from lung cancer.

I directly and indirectly reached out to each of them, with no response at the time I booked my flight.

The first two days in my hometown were spent with first and second cousins I've had little contact with for decades. Conversation, catching up, seafood, mimosas, quiet porch swing chatting next to a calming, lazy river. Unexpected, peaceful, awesome, rewarding family bonding.

Well-timed phone calls on the third day resulted in a well-spent hour with the cousin in hospice care. He spends most days in a dark brown lounge chair in his dark paneled living room, knowing any of those days could be his last. His hair and body are much thinner than the last time I saw him three y…

Turquoise

Image
Two turquoise chairs topped with a blue-green-yellow-white pillow each snuggle with two round plexiglass tables, sharing a 6 by 8 space with two plants, a small metal shelf unit, a stone owl and me. The tables are topped with round yellow place mats; one is covered by my lunch and the other with a book.

The steady hum of the neighborhood is punctuated by the occasional passing car, chirping bird, buzzing lawn mower and almost-synchronized footsteps of the property manager and three prospective tenants getting a tour.

It's early afternoon in early June and I'm on vacation. I travelled early in the week but now I'm home, soaking in an unscheduled Thursday on my patio, wondering if this is what retirement is like.

It's peaceful yet busy today. A FedEx truck pauses as a Waste Management truck turns the corner on the way to the next dumpster. The early-morning sidewalk repair crew packs up for the day; same thing for the landscapers. Two neighbors, a stay-at-home mom and h…

They Were Always There

In the mind-numbing, uncertain, challenging, fun, just "slightly on the edge" pursuit of career dreams, you knew they were always there. You left home to chase the dream, knowing friends and family would always be there. Visits home grew less frequent but you always knew that each time you returned, Mom, Dad, sister, grandparents, cousins and friends would be there.

Months became years became decades. You knew they'd be there, or so you thought. Then, one by one, they weren't there. A grandparent dies, then an aunt, an uncle, a college friend who you lost contact with ten years earlier.

Gone.

Still, you knew the rest of them would still be there.

When I say you I really mean I.

Now the remaining ones are my generation and some of them are dying. They are NOT there. Now I'm dealing with a toxic mix of grief and regret. Regret that I didn't go home and spend time with them as I chased my dreams. Every city I've lived in is less that three hours from where …

Living and Learning

When someone close to you is dying, do you feel sadness and fear because that is a natural response?  Or is part of what you feel because of what is says about your own mortality?

I say it's both.

As I write this, a cousin in New Orleans is in hospice care. He almost died three nights ago. Doctors say there is nothing else they can do for him other than to make him comfortable.

I had already booked a flight there to see him but I don't even know if he'll still be alive. I don't know if he'll want to see anyone.

My head is swimming with sadness over his situation and regrets that I didn't spend more time with him over the past few decades. Those thoughts and emotions are stirred by an underlying dread about my own mortality. I'm not all that afraid to die - I've led an awesome life - but I've got a lot more living to do.

He and I spent a lot of time together in our youth. He was sometimes a prankster and still has a great sense of humor. I did spend …