aging · friendship · honesty · life lessons · love · Uncategorized

Some Trips Are Longer Than Others

Hi there,

I know – it’s been a while. I’m not sure if you’re still passing this way – and it’s certainly understandable if you’ve changed routes. After all, there hasn’t been anything here to see for more than a year.

But if you’ve stopped by – it’s good to see you. Clearly I’ve been gone – and I’m tentatively back. In the interest of abbreviating a very long year – I got sick. If you listen to my hematologist, rheumatologist and every other ologist I’ve seen – I didn’t know how sick I was. The year has been a blur of blood transfusions, biopsies, a bilateral hip replacement and a brain that went wonky because my blood was so compromised. I had to get multiple assurances that I was clear-headed enough to even try writing again. The thought of appearing more nutty than I usually do was a bit too much for me to handle.

I’m better now. I’m a version of me again – one I sort of recognize and occasionally don’t. I lost a year of mobility and engagement with the world. These days, my body is a cranky participant in my efforts to get a bit stronger – thinking it prefers being sedentary to the aches and strain of movement (honestly, I can’t even call it exercise – it’s more like wishful thinking with a beat). But, I can tell you that the return to normalcy is greeted each day with an emotional ‘thank you’, even if my body and I occasionally disagree. There are no more hospital beds, occupational therapy tools and elevated seats. I can put on my own socks thank you very much. I can engage in the most mundane activities – driving, food shopping, laundry – and I think each is pretty damn fantastic. Musing over the monotonous with a significant amount of delight.

And yes, there’s also some fear – fear of a recurrence (the autoimmune world is at best dystopian, at worst just plain freaky), an awareness of how much I am unaware of – I could explain the list, though I don’t think I need to.

So, I’m going to re-enter the community and see how we do. The musings won’t be this intense – they weren’t before and life doesn’t ask that of me now. I’m just going to keep my eyes open and my heart full – and we’ll see what happens next. Thank you for stopping by – see you soon.

faith · friendship · life lessons · love · Uncategorized

Where are my words

My dear friend,

We exchanged emails last night – and now I’m without adequate words.  This post will not do anything justice, and yet…I feel like there’s so much I want to say.

I’m sitting in my little office, surrounded by pictures of my family – parents who I miss daily, Andy, my boys who are now men, daughters-in-law, granddaughters.  This is where I feel most comforted, most bewildered, most loved.  I have one of your photographs framed here too.  An abundance, truly.  It can make my heart hurt.  I whisper “thank you, thank you” throughout the day.  I can think of no better mantra.

We’ve never met, yet I feel like we’ve known each other for years.  How do I console you when I am literally across the ocean?  How do I begin to articulate to you – a man of faith and family, deep love and incredible grace – that I have an ache deep within that exists with yours.  How I pray for a miracle, even though I know that you and your wife have made peace with something I am railing against.  Yours is one of those once in a lifetime loves – and though I believe it transcends time, I want you both to celebrate it together forever.  Petulant, I know.  Selfish, I agree – for this is not about me at all.

I pause to look once more at your magical new grandson, as he is held with some distractedness by his toddler sister.  Her eyes are luminous, filled with some whimsy and a little mischief.   You are literally in the midst of the alpha and the omega.  One struggles with this most profound of extremes.  Yet, you sent me peace last night.  How can that be?  In your deepest sorrow, you offered me gratitude for feeling the telepathic connection that has caused us to write each other out of the blue for a few years now.  How can that be?

Cherished friend, I wish you peace.  I am thankful that your faith is deep and your family surrounds you.  I wish your beloved wife time…time to delight in your love and the love of her children.  I wish she could stay.  What can I say, I’ve never been one for small wishes when it comes to those I hold so close in my heart.  Needless to say, I’ll check in again soon, perhaps with better words – though that’s unlikely.  What can one say when there are no words?  Only these random murmurings.   Much love..xx

aging · friendship · grandparenthood · inspiration · marriage · parenting · Uncategorized

Of Paradoxes and Pop

Hi,

So here’s what’s been rolling around in this very addled head of mine…My neighbor Gary is an avid gardener.  So much so, that we have never spoken about anything else.  He came to the door a few weeks back to tell me that our grass was being over-watered and that I should adjust the scheduling of the sprinkler system.  Ok, done.  The other day he flagged down my car to advise me that my grass wasn’t getting enough water (I’m abbreviating the conversation to keep this thing going).

Everything needs water – but not too much.  Every meal should be savored – but not so much that you get heartburn.  My cyber pal David (davidkanigan.com), is pondering the extremes of emotional bungee jumping, as I extol the state of balance.  But highs are awesome – it’s the lows that suck.  It’s all a paradox (sidebar – Annie LaMott’s Ted talk on her 12 rules of life and writing – enjoy it).  I got it – and to a ridiculous degree, it’s all a cliché.  Until of course, you get to some lessons I’ve learned from my father-in-law.

Sid calls me his favorite daughter-in-law, and he in turn is my favorite father-in-law.  Of course, we are also each others’ only person in that category, so for me, it’s an easy win.  He’s 92, one of the greatest generation, the head of Andy’s clan and he wears that mantle handsomely.  He recognizes the magnificence of my sons’ as fathers – and tells them.  He literally beams at the mention of his grandkids.  He’s vibrant and engaged and has become the official greeter to his community.  Going up to strangers, introducing himself, inviting people with an outstretched hand and an easy smile.  He’d win “Most Popular” if they had such awards for adults.

Pop has an easy walk, this kind of strolling gait that is unhurried yet purposeful.  He broke his foot a few weeks back, which only slightly inconvenienced his ability to dance at his granddaughter’s wedding.  His two granddaughters wheeled him onto the dance floor, he was handed the mike to sing along with Louis Prima and no one eclipsed him from that point forward.

And yes, now that his boot is off, he’s got golf to return to, bridge of course…you get my drift.  Pop’s unassuming and humble, he’s warm and truly finds no fault with anyone in his ever-widening circle.  He reaches out – with no hesitation.  If you surmise that I love him, you’re right.   I think he finds self-absorption boring – too much is happening for the over-examination of one’s self, or the pursuit of that kind of attention from others.

My parents were too young when they passed away.  I’ve written about them extensively and will not do so now.  What I will say is that neither was able to show me how to grapple with getting older.  I’m grateful for Pop’s lessons, because other than learning how to  play bridge, I try to play this life as he does.

Pop was married to my mother-in-law for well over 60 years.  And he still called her the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’.  We all were deeply worried about him – would he be able to get past the grief, heal enough to make a life for himself, etc.  And here’s the paradox that Pop taught me, the only one that doesn’t make me crazy.

You don’t get past grief (I knew that part);  you don’t get over love and you still live.  One can argue that it is a religious requirement to do so (it is in Judaism) – which is a pretty high imperative;  so is doing it for the spirit within that begs to sing.  Love and grief co-exist.  One doesn’t cancel out the other.  Losing someone you adore doesn’t give you permission to exempt yourself from life’s dance.  They are not different sides of the same coin – they are the same side of the coin.  There is no better moment to thank my father-in-law than today, there is no better reason than his patient coaching and his love.  What can you say to someone who asks the world to be his guest?  Thank you for the invitation, Pop – I gratefully accept and I love you.

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friendship · humor · life lessons · love · marriage · sisters · Uncategorized

Who’s Stewart?

Hi,

There are many stories in here, so forgive the multiple parentheticals – recognizing of course, that really talented writers don’t use them often.  Ah well, I’ve never claimed to be a really talented writer.

Anyway, I was speaking with my builder last week.  A few years ago, her birthday gift from her husband was a girls’ weekend at an exclusive hotel.  These women have been friends for years; there are no secrets.  Well, with an abundance of alcohol there are no secrets.  And they imbibed – a lot.  One of her friends has been happily married for many years.  Great guy – sweet, attentive, doting – the kind of guy everyone else in the group holds up as the example when they’re arguing with their spouses.

After many drinks, her friend acknowledged that as much as she loved him, he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.  Stewart was the one who got away.  Her college sweetheart – part dog, part romantic fool.  She was besotted, he was hormonal.  But she held out a fantasy, wondering for years, ‘what if’.

To abbreviate the tale, over the years her feelings for her husband have replaced that wonder.  She adores him – even though he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.

I’ve never had a Stewart.  Perhaps it’s because I married often enough that by the time I hit 30, the prospect of a fantasy romance would have just enervated me.  I was a single mom with two boys under the age of five.  And honestly, being a mom was pretty much the only fantasy I ever really had that I insisted on making a reality (but that’s another story).

So let’s move on.

Have I told you that my sister is flippin’ brilliant?  On so many levels, this woman amazes me constantly (Debbie, I know you are shaking your head, telling me that this is same-sex, birth order bullshit – and even if you’re right, so what?  It is what it is.  Truth for sure – and some residual younger-sister-will-never-be-as-good neurosis for good measure).  She is beautiful, scary smart, talented beyond measure – and she is a writer – the legitimate kind.  In one of her recent stories she wrote “you fall in love with the way someone falls in love with you”.  Brilliant.

And true.

I fell in love with the way Andy fell in love with me.  He made himself fit into my life with such an abundance of heart, romance, delight – he introduced me to his magic and I was ultimately mesmerized.  He is my Stewart, but he isn’t the one who got away.  He’s the one who stayed.

We may fall in love with the vision of love that we see, but we stay in love with the person who orchestrated the imagery.  The person who may not be who we first saw (and are we the person they first saw?), but who’s in it with you.  The person who can be your best friend and some weird extra-terrestrial at the same time and still be cute.  The one who drives you crazy in every conceivable way.  I’m a kite;  Andy is an anchor.  He’s judgmental;  I’m not (but for my expectations of sub-contractors working on our house, but they’re not reading this).  We are opposite sides of the same coin – and that is the kind of love that can’t be fabricated by fantasy.

We fall in love with the way someone falls in love with us.  True enough.  We love the person who knew how to make that happen.  Perhaps I never had a Stewart because I have an Andy.  And even though this has absolutely nothing to do with what I intended to pen today, it is what’s been on my mind all morning.  So, I guess therein is another story.

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anxiety · friendship · leaving home · life lessons · moving · Uncategorized

Keep Moving

“My, my.  A body does get around.” – William Faulkner

Oh William, you have no idea.

We’ve moved.  We’re in our new house.  It is lovely, really.  True, the microwave doesn’t open, the dishwasher is confused about its purpose, there’s a wine fridge but it too is inoperable, and though I have a double oven, it has to be replaced or repaired.  Did I  mention that our refrigerator legs aren’t locked, so that it creeps along surreptitiously,  advancing with little notice until it kisses the wall?

Of course, as with every new house, there’s a punch list that is lengthy – and I now understand why it is in fact called a ‘punch’ list.

At night, our boxes multiply as if their souls were rabbits.  And each morning, I look around in disbelief that there are so damn many them.  The yard is not seeded, sodded or fenced, so the Sirs and I walk with our heads down – our neighbors must look at the mosh pit that is the front yard and shake their heads with displeasure.  Some of the doors don’t lock properly yet, but what the heck, I can always make someone a cup of coffee.

And yet.

I love that I have landed.  I may not be able to find my way through this morass even with a compass and clear head (I lack both) – but I am home.  A place to create new memories, walls that will hold laughter and baby giggles, words from family and friends, new secrets and old stories that are told and re-told for their lessons and familial value – all will be protected by this structure.  When you cross our threshold, you will know you are welcome.  I think that is what I have missed most about our old home (other than the fact that my kids were still under the roof).  It was ‘home’ to all who entered – shoes were off, people curled up on couches, succumbing to those drooly kind of naps, big Thanksgiving dinners, intimate moments with friends around the kitchen table.

I wish my whole family was local, but I am so, so grateful for those who are here.  I think as you get older, you treasure ‘home’ differently.  It isn’t about acquisitiveness any longer – on the contrary, that which isn’t essential to your heart is purged – it’s about holding on to that which is most important to you.  And reveling in it.  Perhaps therein lies my impatience.  I want to find the pictures of my parents, the cards my sons gave me when they were small.  I want to ‘feel’ my life in what I touch.

Andy keeps telling me to go slow, that this isn’t a marathon – he’s right of course.  I’m driven by a compelling force to snuggle into what I know, before I begin to create something new.  If our fence was up, I’d have one foot in the new and the other in the old.  Barring that,  I’m just going to keep going until I uncover all those priceless treasures that I have missed for almost a year.  And whisper with delight and gratitude, ‘There you are!  Thank you for waiting for me!’.

Ok, time to get started –

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