Cream – no Sugar

April 23, 2018

Ahhh – middle age – the era of cream, cream and more cream. Putting myself together these days is like putting together an IKEA dresser – vague instructions left up to interpretation and sometimes some obscure spare parts.

There is gel for my eyelids and brow bone, smoothing cream for my oh-so-delicate under eye area to be followed with dark circle concealer and color correcting cream (to combat all those menopausal insomniac nights). Face forward; start with primer, you know – so all your other creams (and make-up, should you dare) stick. Then it’s onto the actual age-defying face cream with SPF 1000, jaw line lift cream, forehead smoothing cream, neck emollient and décolleté firming cream, plumping lip conditioner (following an exfoliation buffing gel – gotta get that flaky pucker ready to smile without cracking!). Not to be forgotten – scaly arm and leg cream, tummy tightening lotion, cellulite toning oil and elbow enriching balm. Oh yes – lest I forget – age spot fade cream.

Some days I literally slide into bed at night and in the morning, carefully try to slip into my cloths without falling – always trying to remain silky smooth and never sticky….REALLY??? I remember when being sticky was kinda fun – LOL!

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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.

Friends who do Lunch

November 9, 2014

I had lunch the other day with someone who I have known for a remarkable 26 years. Although we don’t see each other all of the time – she is someone who has known me from the time I was a newlywed, through motherhood, career changes and now struggles with aging parents. We met when I came to work at the same magazine (she was even my boss at one point) and although there are several years between us, she has never made me feel it – we have simply been Friends, each one of us bringing something wonderful to our relationship. We have stayed in touch all these years but sometimes years would pass before we would see each other, our lives were simply busy travelling in different directions.

Then one day, a few years ago, we decided to finally “do lunch” and I am happy to say that this is now a regular occurrence. When we get together we do sometimes touch on the past – barely. Mostly, we talk about today and our conversations are endless.

I always feel so full when we part company and I think it’s because she knows me for Me. Not someone’s wife or mother … just me. She has a good idea of what my hopes and dreams are for myself and she knows of some of my struggles, as I do hers.

We have a history, but are not so intertwined that it is ever old….and when we get together, happily – neither are we.

Coffee Club

September 12, 2014

Yesterday I met an old friend for a long overdue coffee. It was wonderful. It was like old times and always, all at the same time. We used to meet once a week – every week with a third friend, at this same coffee shop – back when our youngest children were babies. We lovingly coined this day as Coffee Club. It was the day that we hashed and re-hashed and solved both our own motherhood troubles as well as solved all the world’s crisis’ – or at least decided on what we were going to make for dinner that night.

Here we were again, re-kindling our Coffee Club – just the two of us this time.  My friend had left her job a few months ago to help her mother care for her aging father. She was going to move to another town – a 10 hour drive from here. Six weeks in – she realized that this new move was not going to work out for her and her son…at least, not right now. So once again – Coffee Club was in effect to try to shed some light and make an effort to set a path for a new future for her. I asked her what her thoughts were on pursuing a new line of work…she said she wasn’t sure. She wondered if she should go back to something that she already she knew or try something completely different – maybe even go back to school. Then our conversation turned how she just hadn’t been feeling great for the last few months…aches, pains and ailments had crept up and she was having them investigated. I chuckled and reminded her that she was “eyeballing 50” (a term I have used, in relation to myself many times over the decade – half in humor…sadly, half in truth) then laughed out loud and told her not to feel bad; Heck – I’m eyeballing retirement I told her (ok, not really… not quite yet!). We shared a giggle.

As she spoke of her increasing maladies – I showed her the index finger on my right hand, now slightly bent with its often somewhat swollen knuckle (hello arthritis – been waitin’ on you!) and thought about how my ankles applaud me as I make my way down the stairs every morning with their snap, crackle and pops accompanied by the operatic sounds that I often make when rising from a chair.  Then there’s the hip that aches when I dare to stand for an evening in heels at a cocktail party or get really crazy and dance at a wedding.

Like every other woman who is 50 – I don’t sleep…I really, really want to, and I try so hard – but my brain just spins and spirals from 2 to 4 most mornings. In fact, as I lay awake this morning at 2am, I thought myself that it was a good thing we had Coffee Club in the morning – otherwise I am sure I would still be awake by 6…in time to greet the alarm.

Yawning, tearing eyes  – it’s 9:45 and I am ready for bed.

I crawl into bed and pull the duvet up under my chin – fluff my pillow and ahhhhhh – cozy! Any minute now, I’ll feel that deliciously heavy, sinking feeling of drifting off to sleep.

10:15 – I hear my son come in the door. Hey – why am I still awake?

10:45 – I know you’re not supposed to look at the clock but – what time is it?

-What is the  last name of my daughter’s new friend again?

– My eyelid itches a bit. Why do I even have dry skin on my eyelids? My husband said he noticed it in the folds. When did I get fold on my eyelids?

– I have to make Valentine cookies next week. Should I frost them? How hard is it to “flood” a frosting on a cookie?

– Why am I still awake?

11:15 – My pharmacist suggested to me that I take a Gravol now and again to help when I can’t sleep; so downstairs I go to take one.

11:20 – (back in bed) Ok – pretty soon, I’ll be drifting off to sleep.

Midnight – I am not asleep…but I am too tired to read and too tired to get up.

12:15 – That’s it! I’m getting up and trying the warm milk thing that my husband suggested as he fell asleep (head not even hitting the pillow yet).

12:20 – Sitting in family room with my son, watching a bit of TV and sipping on my warm milk (which by the way – really doesn’t taste that good). My son informs me that studies have now shown that the warm milk “treatment” is just a placebo. I smile and tell him “I’m desperate.”

12:45 – Back in bed. Ok, NOW I’ll be able to sleep – Gravol, warm milk – good to go!

– Why do my eyes tear so much – am I seriously aging?

– What am I going to make for dinner tomorrow night – I mean tonight? Can’t bear chicken again.

– The dog is overdue for his annual visit to the vet.

– Why is that my hair won’t hold a curl – unless of course my hairdresser does it for me? Should I get highlights?

– Did I pay that bill?

– No! I didn’t – have to do that tomorrow (I mean, today). Hope I remember.

– Need to refill my Mom’s cell phone minutes for her tomorrow (sorry – I mean, today)

– I KNOW you’re not supposed to look at the clock – but what time is it?

– OMG. I have to get up in 4 1/2 hours!

4am – I’m groggy, I have just woken up from a  deep sleep (finally!) to hear the dog barking. Something he never does at this hour. I wake up my husband and tell him to go downstairs and see what’s going on. He comes back to bed and tells me he saw absolutely nothing.

Hmm – not like my dog to do that. Maybe it’s a new newspaper carrier. No – not at 4am. Maybe it’s someone walking, carrying something – like a shovel. Would he be wearing a hoodie too? Who is out there walking at 4am? Maybe it’s kids skulking around looking to break into a car…..no It’s -20C….no one’s out there.
When did I get to be so neurotic? Do not ask my children that .

4:30 – Oh great…I am going to have to get up in an hour. How will I do the day on just 3 hours of sleep?

4:45 – Well, too bad – there’s no point in trying to sleep now.

5am – I’m up. I may as well go downstairs and make coffee.

I love fresh ground coffee but I don’t want to grind it at 5am…..

You know what? This is a blog.

Good Morning 4:30 am, and how are you this dark-not-quite-yet-dawn? Let’s see – my older kids went to bed about two hours ago, so I guess that means that we are running electricity about 22 hours a day at our house. 4:30 am is an old friend of mine – there were times when we met just after a night of partying with friends – my heels in hand as I gleefully said goodnight. Other times we kept each other company while I nursed a baby or three. Ah…and those peri-menopausal meetings… when I needed a little company to talk out the crazy hours of hot flashes (which, by the way, I still experience – but somehow don’t need the company anymore). Now it seems that 4:30 and I are only meeting occasionally – because she also keeps company with my husband from time to time (but never at the same time…why is that?). Well, 4:30 am – we have lots to do…..there’s a grocery list to compile, perhaps a little on-line banking, some email to catch up on and maybe we can squeeze in a little “net surfing”. I don’t know about you – but I am seriously wondering about how to get that weird oil stain out of my new t-shirt…not to mention the brown spots out of my hands.

On an unseasonably warm and sunny Halloween afternoon  60 years ago, my parents were married. Back then, Halloween was not as big of a holiday it is today – so it was seemingly just the perfect Saturday for a wedding.

I love his memory of how he and my mother met. They were at a wedding, unknowingly mutual friends of the bride. He saw my mother standing on the steps of the church and Cupid shot his arrow straight into my father’s heart – where it remains still firmly implanted…all these years later – he has never stopped seeing my mother as his girlfriend and my mother still sees him as her boyfriend….60 years later.

On that fateful day, my father offered to drive my mother home after the wedding – it was 1950 and a young lady didn’t take a car ride from just anybody! So, after get the go-ahead from the bride that he was indeed “safe”, he drove her home and promptly called her the following day for a date. Now, my mother tells me that gentlemen would call a lady for a date for the following Saturday night – and he wasn’t wasting a moment. She agreed and the date went well – and then he called her immediately to “book” her for the following week…and the following week…and the following week.

Rush forward 3 years – they booked the church for October 24…but close friends were desperate to get married on that date so my parents gave up their “reservation” and took the next available date, October 31st – Halloween.  My parents tell me it was about 75 F that day – unseasonably warm. A perfect sunny day.

In their 60 years they have never really been apart. They “date” regularly – always have, and their social life has often put mine to shame. My mother taught me to keep the romance alive (“a nice silky nightgown dear, flannel pajamas just aren’t quite appropriate”…I smile at that and have kept to her advice!). She told me to remember to keep my husband as close to First as possible (when you have kids) reminding me that he is who I will be with once the children are grown and moved out….and you don’t want to lose the whole reason you stood up at that alter for.

I write this through tears. Not of sentimentality – but sadness. My Dad was diagnosed with ALS this past summer and the last 3 months have turned our lives upside down…

…and our hearts, inside out.

The disease is progressing somewhat rapidly and it’s so cruel – not just because he is my Dad – but because this is a man who has worked out at the gym 3 times a week for 50 + years and taken long  walks daily,  and not meandering walks – brisk, heart pumping walks. Six months ago he stood, just a tad unsteady (we had no idea at the time) for family photos at Easter….one month later he was using a walker.

He remains as positive as possible, truly living for the day (and reminding me to do so as well). There was this incredible moment last month when he was at the hospital for a breathing issue….he was sitting in a wheelchair, waiting to be released and my mom and I were sitting with him in the waiting room. She was sitting beside him and I was behind them both. It was quiet – just us. Suddenly my mother broke the silence and said to him “We sure had a lot of fun, didn’t we?  Remember when we were young?” and added wistfully…. “It seems like it was just yesterday.” He looked over at her, nodded and smiled – “We sure did” he answered and then pointing to his heart told her, “that’s  because it’s all in here.”

I felt myself tearing up – it was as though I wasn’t there and that I was peeking in on this young couple.

I saw the newlyweds they were – that they still are….. “in there”