Hold Onto Your Nips

August 7, 2015

Yes – I said “Nips” – as in nipples. I am sorry – but have you ever shopped at Costco? The fresh produce department is set at the unbearable temperature of sub-zero, winter/spring/summer and fall. Last weekend, I grabbed my husband’s arm and exclaimed “Oh my gosh! I can see my breath!!” and proceeded to exhale a rather impressive cloudy puff…..problem is, it wasn’t MY husband’s arm I grabbed. Thankfully it was too damned cold for me to blush.

After the mad dash, as if I was in some grocery contest, and hoping that I was actually purchasing the things that I needed – I tossed the items in our basket and then ran over to the rotisserie chicken section to warm up, and I wasn’t the only one…ok – yes I was – I just wrote that part to make myself feel better and sound saner.

I get it – they want to keep their produce perky and fresh….but other things are feeling perky and fresh in there too…and not all of them pretty!

I’ve just pulled out my sweater and tossed it into the backseat of the car and am now ready for this week’s shopping adventure (oh yes – with me there is the good chance that it will indeed be – an adventure).

Slow and Steady Fire

August 2, 2015

Almost 30 years later …hmm – where’s the romance? I think it’s probably stuffed somewhere in between the unfolded laundry and the moving boxes at my parents’ home.

Sadly, Romance just doesn’t have it’s own place here these days. Generally I am really ok with it – I get it – this is the Phase of Life we’re in right now.

Sometimes, though – I long for those seemingly endless evenings spent on our balcony on Gamble Street where we lived 30 years ago. We imagined so many incredible things on that balcony…but… not everything.

I never really believed that my parents would get older or sick and that I would have to take over, and I am sure that my husband never imagined that either.. We were two young lovers sipping cheap wine by moonlight and deciding where and when to eat – or even if we should ;) The whole world lay at our feet – at least we thought so, from the 10th floor up.
Here we are 29 years later – three children and aging parents…when did we become middle aged because I swear that we were just…25 ish years old…okay, truthfully a little more little ” ISH” than 25.
We have survived many more years than so many of our friends…and yet we still stand strong – sometimes divided in our thoughts on how to handle things, sometimes annoyed at the little habits we’ve acquired…but we still stand strong.
I still roll over in the night, comforted to feel him sleeping (and snoring!) beside me…and I still walk downstairs every morning, eager to greet the new day with him and share a cup of coffee.

I think that when you are young and starting out and knew what lay ahead – you wouldn’t take another step – not because it is so terrible but because it is so far away from the dreams you are dreaming on your own balcony…your own studio apartment…or whatever your beginning point is..

But let me say this – it is the slow and steady fire that keeps the heart warm…yes, you need to stoke it – but sometimes, when you need to – you can rely on the embers.

Glory Days

July 6, 2015

I’m listening to the Load Out Song by Jackson Brown and dear God – do I ever I wish that I had written that song…but then again, maybe I did – but only in my mind. It is so incredibly descriptive of my former life…I can smell the smoke and whisky in the air, and that rank perfume of those well-worn carpets.  I can taste the leftover sandwiches sold on the shelves of those motel diners – still don’t know if they were tuna or ham sandwiches all I know is that they were the appropriate shade if beige.

I see the smiles and hear the laughter of the roadies as they set our shows up and tear them down…almost no difference in a day…”Check Check” – rings in my ears during sound check – those scant few hours before any show – be they on the big stage or the local club stage and honestly, every performance is  literally the same – it is musicians and singers desiring to bare their souls for whatever reason – be them creative or healing.

All I know is that when I hear that song, I want to grab my suitcase and jump into a beat-up van…I want to have some crazy town anticipate my arrival , where I know that they are waiting for us…waiting for us to take them away – for a night or maybe forever.

Oh my…those were the days…I am smiling now remembering that those were indeed the days

Forever Love Affair

June 3, 2015

My dad is dying. There is no nice way to say this. The ALS is eating his body up…but his mind and more importantly, his heart – have never been sharper or stronger.

He was rushed to the hospital with internal bleeding last week and as my mom and I followed the ambulance we made silly,disjointed and distracted conversation…my mother, because her heart is breaking piece by piece – me, because I am trying to catch whatever pieces I can.

He has been in for a week – and for the first day and a half they could not see each other as the countless tests kept my father separated from my mother. The next evening we were finally able to see him and as we walked into the room he smiled, his eyes lit up like a bonfire and my mother bent over to kiss him – not a tiny peck that so many elderly people exchange,-but a long, full, deep kiss on the lips.and in that moment I swear that I heard birds singing and imagined blossoms floating down around them as I heard the silent words “You may kiss the bride” – for in that moment I saw, not just my parents but the husband and wife…the lovers that they’ve been for almost 65 years.

Role Reversal

April 29, 2015

It’s 6:30 am. I’ve already been up for a good hour. Partially because I generally wake up close to that time – but in reality, it’s because my mother woke me accidentally – she was having a bad dream…something I am sure is a regular occurrence now with my Dad’s illness. I can hear him breathing on his oxygen  machine from the kitchen – the very kitchen I grew up in. How strange this morning seems – and yet all so familiar too.

Yesterday, my Dad called me at work, something he NEVER does. Mom fell ill; she was dizzy and in bed and he was worried. Having ALS, he is now pretty much wheelchair-bound, so it is difficult for him to help her – although he so valiantly tries. Of course, I rushed directly over to their house….my old house – in fact my grandmother’s old house (talk about “coming home”).

I know I am not a doctor – but I am a mother (too) and she seems to have a virus of some sort (blocked ears). I settled her in and she napped for most of the afternoon – but not before asking me to organize my Dad’s dinner….her main concern. How funny and yet how sweet – 61 years later, she is concerned about getting his dinner on the table on time. No problem, I tell her. I leave to pick up my daughter from school and go home to organize my own family before returning…I insist that I will spend the night because the truth is that they need me to (for Heaven’s sake….who will make Dad’s breakfast if I am not here – and ALS or not – Dad still has his appetite and loves a good breakfast). Mom is all worried about putting me out – but I tell her her “Mom – you sat on edge of my bed for years when I was a kid, whenever I was sick and if I called you today to say I wasn’t well...” she finished my sentence with “I’d rush right over“. Love. Family. Enough said.

So here I am. Roles are reversed and it is strange – and yet, I feel both relieved and happy to be able to do this for them….they have given me so much. Does it take a bit of rescheduling? Of course. But my family (thank goodness that I married the man of my dreams and have such terrific supportive kids … really) and my wonderful boss and co-workers make it a cinch…ease my concerns with their honest love and support.

So here I sit, at the kitchen table – in my old “seat” waiting for Dad to wake up(although he did briefly – first words out of his mouth were – How is Mom? 61 years and still each other’s main concern, truly amazing…) so I can make his coffee and his breakfast. I feel okay – I feel weird – I feel a bit scared as that future inevitable has given me a trial run. I take solace and am reminded that; To whom much is given – much is expected.…and I know that in the end,  I will be able to finish this journey – with grace and a smile, if only to make my parents’ life easier…it’s all I can do.

Valentine Party #20

February 8, 2015

The guests have all gone but their laughter echoes off the walls in my house – their smiles shine in every mirror. How wonderful it was to spend this blustery winter afternoon in the company of so many women who have shaped my every day.

Almost every year I hold a Valentine Party – ladies only – and it all began because we were young mothers with babies and toddlers and the glow of Valentine’s Day had worn off in our marriages as these babies replaced candlelight dinner and the need (I suppose) and the energy for our husbands to court us. It was a completely normal and understandable change in our lives – but me, the hopeless romantic, wanted to still celebrate Valentine’s Day and so I thought, wouldn’t it be great to celebrate these wonderful women I know with a Valentine Brunch.

And so the Valentine Party was born -” the ladies only” part meant -No Kids!! We dressed up, put lipstick on and tried to wear something in some shade of red or pink. We were only 8 at that first brunch….and  then it grew….and it grew…and it grew, as did my incredible circle of friends.  This afternoon we were 28 people in my small, but party-friendly house. Champagne and orange juice always starts off the celebration and the main event is the connections we made – we continue to make and the freedom to be the young girls that still live inside each one of us.

I am just now putting my feet up, sipping the last glass of champagne, watching the various Valentine decorations swing back and forth and listening to all that wonderful girlish laughter that my walls are kindly holding onto for me.

The Sounds of the Sleepless

January 22, 2015

(Lying in bed this morning, I heard Simon and Garfunkle’s Sounds of Silence as I was writing this)

 

Hello 4:30 my old friend

I’ve come to sit with you again

In the dark before dawn I am creeping

while my family is upstairs sleeping

and the noise of the trucks on my street removing snow

is waking neighbors that I know

These are the sounds – of the sleepless.

 

In my bed I tossed and turned

while my clock’s face light burned

How many hours before I go to work?

Why does menopause have this sleepless quirk?

and as the hours slowing tick on past

I’m thinking fast

of all the things – I have to do

 

How many people stop and stare

at the numbers flashing there

on their night tables a-gleaming

and the crazy thoughts that send them  reeling

all the worries that loom so large at this tiny hour

by dawn, have no real power

These are the thoughts – of the sleepless.

 

Tonight I will begin again

to try to sleep the night and then

we’ll see where I am at dawn

still asleep or writing here with a yawn

Now the coffee maker begins to spit and sputter

I hear a mutter

Someone else is finally up – good morning

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