Member of the Club

January 18th is my mother’s birthday.  She would have been 80 years old.  A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her and how much she shaped who I would become.   We all miss you, Mommy.

mom dad

While spending time with my mother in the hospital, I was able to continue the routine that had begun with my siblings who had visited before me.  Since physical and occupational therapies were usually done in the morning, I would plan on seeing her about 11:30 a.m.,which was right before they hospital lunches were brought up.  But first I stopped at the local McDonald’s to get her a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal, complete with french fries, drink and a toy.

She never ate any of the hospital food, except for the desserts, and would only take a few sips of hot tea.  She would pick at the chicken and eat a few french fries, then announce “I can’t eat another bite.”  She was wasting away before our eyes.   Pizza, hamburgers (no cheese) and Chicken McNuggets were her entire diet.

Her neighbor the next room over was occupied by a quiet Asian man, who was slowly dying of lung cancer.  He was visited daily by his children and wife as well, as their pattern of coming and going seemed to mirror ours.  His daughter was younger than me, but it was hard to tell by how much.   We were all members of the same club, one we didn’t choose, but were part of nevertheless.  Swollen, bloodshot, tired eyes were the calling cards of those who came everyday, day after day, until the final destination of their loved one was determined.

We would speak briefly  she and I, telling me the condition of her father and I sharing the latest set back of my mother.  She, like everyone else, knew my mother favored the Chicken McNuggets, and now and then would stop to pick up a bag of them for her herself.  During one of my mother’s few moments of lucidity, she remarked on how the “pretty china girl brought her food.”  We smiled knowingly at each other, for I never learned her name, and she never learned mine.

But like soldiers in a war, we shared a bond.  We silently said a prayer for each other whenever one of them were combative, minds lost from drugs or loss of oxygen.  We knew where to look for extra linen, always bringing sheets or towels for each other and making sure there was enough water in our parents glasses.    We knew when it was nap time and when each of us would close our eyes as we sat in the chairs next to their beds, as close as we could get without climbing in with them.

One day I came in to say hello, but they had discharged him the evening before thus allowing him to go home and sleep in his own bed, probably for the final time.   I thought about the Pretty China Girl and how she must be feeling, and wished I had been able to say goodbye.

She was a friend I would remember long after both of our parents were gone.  One of the members of the club who, sadly, was finally free.

 

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The Definite May-Bes

images (9)I am in the rejection business.

I always have been.

But I was prepared.  Since I was never allowed by my father to utter the words “I can’t” , any disappointment was met with skepticism and disdain and the “reminder to get out there and try again.” It would become part of my character and molded my outlook on life.

NEVER take “no” for an answer.

When I was young and wanted to be an actress, I would attend casting calls, hoping to get the coveted ‘call back’ to read again. Never a leading lady, I was typically asked to read the part as the quirky friend, the girl next door, or some other nondescript character.

But most of the time, I was rejected.

It helped me to develop a tough outer layer, as well as a protective secondary skin. There wasn’t anything you could say to me that would make me burst into tears, and I began to think that maybe my tear ducts had dried up all together.

So traveling into other career venues was not that worrisome at all.  I’ve written tongue in cheek as to the variety of positions  held in the past, some eliminated due to down sizing, some because I moved on. There were a few non-consequential in between jobs that had us parting ways, the total rejection of my very existence upon their property.

I’ve been semi successful at comedy, telling jokes unique to me and expressing my sense of humor. More of an experiment than a career move, I don’t know what is worse – total rejection or a ho-hum response. But when I go applause breaks, it was heavenly.   It’s one more thing to cross off my bucket list.

No matter. As the years flew by, I kept plugging along, trying on this job and that, like a pair of shoes in a gallery. Never really finding the right fit or style, I walked a few miles before they were removed, as they felt too tight, pinched my toes or made me too tall for my own internal balance.

Luckily for me, I tripped into writing. Admittedly, I am still sharpening my heels as well as the pencils.

In the beginning I wrote all the time, in journals, in diaries, on napkins and scraps of paper found in the bottom11949865511933397169thumbs_up_nathan_eady_01.svg.thumb of my purse. My life was an open book to anyone who cared to read the words I so readily shared. I told story after story, I jotted poems and threw them against the wall to see what would stick. My books sell, but not yet to the extent of ending up on a bestseller list. I try not to think of them as rejections because I’m not finished, not yet having kicked off the heels.

My life has been a succession of the definite maybe, a cornucopia of we’ll see and try again later. I often wonder if this is how my demise will play out. The Angel of Death will hover beside me and I will be ready with a snarky response to the ultimate rejection of this life into the next.

For my next challenge I am thinking about taking singing lessons so I can work as a back up singer in a country band.  That, and jump out of an airplane, have also been things I’ve always wanted to do.

But for now, I will continue to search for the perfect shoe, to try on the ones that won’t chafe and remind me never to waste the time I have left.
I wouldn’t recognize success any other way.

 

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The Kindness of Strangers

In light of the kindness towards our old/new friend, Dominick G – it never gets old

helping_hand2016 – In light of the kindness shown towards our old/new friend, Dominick G – it never gets old.

 

(2008)  One of my favorite lines in a movie is when Blanche says to her sister, “…Well, I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers…”

Is it my imagination or are people getting kinder?

I have always been impressed with the people of this city ; the ability to give and give without strings attached or validation needed.

Moving here from Long Island in the early 1980’s, I had been continually astounded over the years of the friendliness extended towards me. A drip of water in the desert of big city life, it has become second nature to me now. Back then, however, it was such a shock for someone on the street say hello to me, never mind they made eye contact. It was almost scary at first. All these strangers talking to me, asking me how are you? and waiting to hear the answer.

It formed in me a mindset I did not realize existed, and will be forever grateful to have found. It gave me the courage to reach out to others and not focus so much on myself and my issues, my problems of the day.

Kindness begets kindness. As a bad mood can quickly spread from one to another in the office place, so can a great mood. When you feel good, you do good things, make good decisions.helpinghands2

You are able to lift up and affirm someone who might be struggling, or searching for where their place in life is. You very well might point them in the direction they need to go.

I was struggling one morning, a bad day getting progressively worse. Walking down Main Street, a man smiled at me and said Come now, it can’t be as bad as all that, can it? I didn’t realize my misery showed on my face.

He took my hand and said, whatever it is sweetheart, let it go. Just let it go.

Then he continued walking towards his destination.

Another stunning epiphany, a tap on the shoulder from God by an angel.

Out the blue and from no where, I took the advice of a total stranger. That was in 1986. I have never been the same.

Do a kindness for someone today without expecting something in return.  Pay for the coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.

Give the extra change to the woman fumbling through her handbag at the checkout.

Don’t let anyone else know that you’ve done it or you will lose the Grace.

But do it.

Help each other.

It is through the kindness of strangers we are able to survive.

Sleep Tight, Ole Bessie

yee-flying-car-2_1IuGa_48Well, here is it 2013 and I still don’t own a flying car.

Actually, I don’t own any kind of car right now.  My trusty old 2001 Chevy Prizm (herein referred to as Ole Bessie) has run her marathon from the quiet shores of the Lake House into the shopping metropolis I refer to as Town&City.

186,200 miles and I began 2013 thinking my little green hottie was still going strong.  In fact, the ole gal has held up quite well over the years.  When I bough her new (to me) in 2003, she only had 18,000 miles logged on her and was as bright as my hopes for the future.  Newly single again, I was looking forward to taking long drives out into the countryside from my (then) city home and exploring all parts west of wherever I was at the time.   With music blaring, windows wide open and my hair flying every which way in the wind, I envisioned us both as we flew down the highway to points unknown.

She has taken me to comedy gigs, book signings, job interviews, job placements, grocery shopping at Wegmans,  investigating churches and every place in between.  She has graciously tolerated sick kids, vomiting drunks and cigarette smoking passengers, as well as a vessel to college graduations, grandparents day for kindergartners, even weddings  and funerals; I was never left stranded on the side of the road and she never ran out of gas.  She was a stalwart companion who never let me down.

Driving all over Rochester, NYC for college interviews, to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, to Chicago and even down to Florida, she has withstood the elements, even standing alone in the lonely driveway of the Lake House for a year, while I traveled to parts West of the Rockies.  She waited patiently for me (even she knew I would be back) offering no complaints or hesitation when I slowly turned the key into the ignition upon my return.   It was like I had never left.

154319_1679852072518_1124035823_31855042_817452_nIt was during year 2 (or 2004) that she became a medical transporter, as my sweet youngest was lovingly and dutifully carried without event to the hospital, every week for a year, to receive chemo and radiation treatments for the interloper that had invaded  her body.   Ole Bessie never stalled and either did we.

During years 3 and 5 respectively, she was the happy caravan leader to hospitals in order to welcome a newborn grandson and then, a laughing grand daughter and his sister in crime.

In year 4 she was the unlikely host of a kamikaze seagull who decided to crash into the hood while we drove down the highway one summer morning.  Covered with blood, feathers, and a decapitated head in the grill, she cleaned up quite nicely after bribing some car wash attendants with pizza to gently restore her back to beauty despite the assault on her beautiful, now somewhat dented body.

Driving behind a son who commandeered a  U-haul van as he & his fiance relocated to New Jersey in year 6, I said more than one silent (and not so silent) prayer as we passed each intersection and ran over bumps, flew by stop signs and breezed through yellow lights.  Olesigns Bessie kept up with him and so I.

She has only ever had the annual maintenance treatments, oil changes and tune ups, no extra fillers or botox needed for this gal.  She was tough and only most recently had to have a brake lining restored. She had begun to leak oil, and sputtered at stop lights, her left window sometimes become stuck in the open position.  I spent many a frigid night driving with the heat full blast in order not to freeze to death.

So it was with more than great sadness that Ole Bessie met her undignified demise in the most offensive of endings.  The hood latch came undone while we drove on the highway, shooting upwards and smashing the windshield glass – a literal smack in the face.   I was able to get to the side of the road without incident (although both of our prides were hurt, I mean REALLY?)  and a nice young man was able to push the now bent and misshapen hood back down into place.

“Things ain’t looking too good, girlfriend” I murmured to her gently as I waited for the verdict from the body shop man, who could put her tired body back together. Flock_of_Seagulls_(eschipul)

So, after much thought and loving consideration, I decided Ole Bessie should go out the same way she came in.  With her owner in a state of peace and looking towards an optimistic future, I will gently remove her license plates and cancel her lifeline of insurance coverage.

Ole Bessie will rest quietly on the side of the Lake House, overlooking the great Ontario and listen to the waves as she sleeps.

Because old cars never really die.  They just stop and ponder their journey for a while.

Maybe someday soon I will be able to get that flying car.

But for now, I will sit and think quietly about Ole Bessie and our journey together.

She was the only one who took me where I needed to go.prism