Ten Years Gone

Today is the day my mother passed away. Ten years seems to have gone by in a flash. Where did the time go? That morning, the phone rang and my husband answered. It was the hospital announcing that mom was in surgery and that the family needed to be there. I arrived around 7:30 in the morning. It was not good news when the surgeon came out to talk to us. Her situation was dire. They would be taking things “moment by moment”

That is never what you want to hear. Someone was not going home from that hospital, most likely it was our mom.

My brother and I were on watch all day. We got updates that were not encouraging. Finally, we decided to get some dinner. When we returned to the hospital, we found out she had been moved to the surgical ICU and we could see her briefly. The room had glass walls so the doctors and nurses could see at all times what was going on in those rooms. Our mom was unrecognizable. She looked like a skeleton. She had been hooked up to a ventilator and had a bunch of nurses around her. The stench in that room was incredible. We had no idea it was the smell of imminent death.

My brother and I held her hands. Then her eyes opened. One of the doctors was in there telling us she was doing remarkably well. They were planning more surgery and had to set all new goals for her. She was going to bounce back. He told us to go home and get some sleep. We had another long day ahead of us tomorrow.

As we left the hospital, she coded.

We ran back up in time to see her being hit with defibrillator paddles. We heard the doctor half screaming half crying “I was just here! What happened to her?” My brother and I cried like the two kids we were. One of us would stop, the other one would start back up. I called my husband to tell him mom was dead. Mom had been sick for years we found out. She suffered in silence. She didn’t want to burden anyone with her problems. She was the strongest person I ever met without a doubt.

Looking back, I now know why she opened her eyes. She was trying to say goodbye to me and my brother.

Goodbye mom. Ten years gone and I miss you still. Rest in peace.

Thinking Is Fun – Try It

I may forgive certain people, but I never forget what they did. I will give you an example. I have an acquaintance who does not know that much about me. When I first started seeing my boyfriend, she had a negative opinion of me. That is fine, we are all entitled to our own thought process. Not everyone is going to like me.

The difficulty was, her thoughts were shaded by someone who already hated me. This person was easily manipulated by someone stronger. Months later, they were able to see they had been played. Letting someone else control your thoughts is dangerous ground. It takes away your own individuality and gives another way too much power.

When computers first came out there was an expression – GIGO “garbage in, garbage out” the human mind works pretty much the same way. I can talk to ten people about one person and come away with a few differing viewpoints. If my basic frame of mind is negative, I may validate those people who have awful things to say about someone without getting to know them. This robs me of forming my own thoughts, whether positive or negative, and it also allows someone else to do the thinking for me.

I can overlook the fact that this person never fully apologized for her early judgement of me. I know she felt she had to toe the line. I understand what it feels like to join in or be permanently on the outside. To be clear, that does not for one second excuse the behavior. This is someone I am able to be nice to, but will never be close friends with. I am capable of making my own choices, because I like thinking for myself.

In my younger days, I followed the crowd just to be accepted. Those days are long over.

Here are The Beatles to remind us “Think For Yourself”

The Same Thing Happens Every Day

In my teen years, life followed the same drill each morning. I never managed to get up with my alarm. This prompted my mother to come in and remove all the blankets from my bed. She would announce at the top of her lungs that I needed to get up NOW! I got up and wandered into the kitchen and began boiling water for instant coffee. Yes, we drank instant coffee in our house, that was what we had, and we were all used to it. While this was going on, mom would chain smoke and drink her coffee. I was silent waiting for the water to boil.

One did not speak to my mother in the morning until she had a minimum of four cigarettes and two cups of coffee. To say she was not a morning person is an understatement.

Around this time, dad would get up, just as I was sitting down. I would sit down for a few minutes each morning before retreating to my room to get ready for the bus. Dad did the same thing every day. First, he would fill the glass tea kettle too full of water which annoyed mom. Then, he would go wandering off and leave it boiling. That also irritated her, but the part that tripped her trigger the most was when he would pour the boiling water into his small cup. He never left enough room for milk, so it would be filled to the top. Then he bent his head down and slurped.

That was it. Now mom was yelling at him to be quiet. I was making a fast exit, wondering when they would get it. Dad never understood how to leave enough room in a cup for milk. Either that, or he did not care and he did it to annoy mom. Either way, the same thing happened every single day. It got to the point where it annoyed me as well. To this day, I cannot stand hearing someone slurping coffee. I guess I have some of my mother’s personality.

What do you find irritating that you inherited from one of your parents?

My Not So Secret Life

A few years ago, I got out of a highly abusive relationship on St. Patrick’s Day. I kept trying to leave, but the reality was I had nowhere to go. Being abused on an a daily basis brought me down in many ways. He used drugs and alcohol to numb whatever feelings he was running from. I had been cut off from friends and family members. I had to sneak off to make phone calls on his smartphone or send cryptic messages via Facebook.

One of those messages reached the only female friend I made in the area. She called me right away. I told her I was in deep trouble and could not get out on my own. I began to cry on the phone. Not only did I feel lost, I was terrified of being caught on the phone. How many more black eyes would I be able to take? He already broke my left thumb, and cracked a few ribs. I knew the gravity of the situation.

My friend asked me if he was doing drugs and I started to cry all over again. It was the dirty secret that was starting to not be so secret.

We formed a plan that we would attend the St. Patrick’s party at a bar we knew. I was able to bribe him with the idea of staying over at our friend’s house and visions of corned beef and cabbage. That plan worked. What happened next I never planned on. He got drunk at the party, and began to turn violent. He wanted me to leave with him so we could get drugs. I refused to get in the car with him. He was intoxicated and becoming more and more unstable. There was not a chance in hell I was getting in that car. FUCK THAT.

When he realized I was not coming, he took a swing at me. He connected. He took another swing and the bar jumped into action. The ladies all formed a wall around me. There was a woman in a motorized wheelchair who was trying to run him over. The bouncer grabbed him by his scrawny neck and tossed him out the side door. I was shaking. I told him for the last time I was done. I had enough and to go straight to hell.

That was not the end of the story by a long shot. Getting him out of my life took getting a restraining order. It also took living in a homeless shelter. At that point, I did not care what I had to do. All I knew was that I was never going back to that bullshit ever again. I would not be with another drunk.

The friend I made helped me go to court to get that restraining order. She saw him act like a fool in open court. I never once have looked back on the path I chose with regret. My only regret is that I did not get out sooner.

If you have a friend in an abusive relationship, please realize this; not leaving is not always a sign of weakness. There may be other factors that you have no idea of. In my case, I had no money. Where was I to go? I was also well isolated in the mountains of upstate New York. I was getting nowhere without help.

Learn the signs of abuse. Please don’t judge.

Nothing Personal

Don’t take this the wrong way. Don’t take this personal. No disrespect, but…

How many times have you heard these phrases? How many times have you taken things to heart that were never meant to be that way? In the past few years, I have been learning through trial and error, to not take things so personally. The best benchmark for myself in my experience is asking myself if this situation will still be important to me next week, or even next month.

In most instances, the answer is no. One of the things I have been working on is seeing things from another point of view. I have every right to dislike change, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The question becomes, can I handle changes gracefully or will I stamp my feet like a child?

But, what about when it is important? Do I have a right to be insulted?

That is certainly an option if I allow it to be. I can also change my thinking and start finding viable solutions to the problem instead of adding to it. Changing my thinking is not easy. I have a tendency to take things personally so working on looking at situations differently has taught me some lessons.

First of all, other people’s choices in life almost always have nothing at all to do with me. It truly is not personal. Getting that through my head has taken time with plenty of missteps along the way. Life got significantly easier once I began to see this. It really isn’t about me even if it feels like it is.

The remaining piece of the puzzle is examining my own behavior. Haven’t I suddenly changed plans without considering anyone else? Was this personal? Done to harm another? The answer is no. The change oftentimes met a need of mine that took no one else into consideration. This type of behavior is not usual, but it does happen in some instances.

Facing that nugget of unpleasantness means that I need to be understanding when circumstances change. I can pitch a fit if I want to, but I have to remember two things; number one, nothing will change what is and secondly, I look like a child when I pitch a fit.

Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? The choice is mine.

It really is nothing personal.

This Makes Me Real

I go out every Friday night to the bar where my boyfriend has a DJ gig. This past week, a woman walked up to me expecting a hug. All I said to her was hello. Why? Am I a snob?

Not at all. What I am is not fake. There are certain people who go to this establishment week after week who I am happy to see. Those are the people I hug. They are the ones I dance with and chat about whatever happens to be going on. There are others who come and go that I either don’t know or have made a judgement call are not for me. This action protects myself and my loved ones.

In my life, I am highly guarded. I don’t suffer idiots all that well, and I do even worse with those who have an agenda.

Let me explain; I was never popular growing up. The few friends I had I protected. There is a part of me that is on high alert at all times, wondering what someone might be up to. The challenge for me lies in determining who means no ill will from the backstabbing gossip hounds who would stop at nothing to see a person suffer. This kind of behavior should have been abandoned back in middle school, however, some fools never got past that stage for whatever reason. One of my best qualities is that I do not pretend to like those that I have no feeling for. It is a waste of time and an insult. I cannot air kiss the people who mean to do me or those I care about harm.

Choosing to not spend energy on this does not make me a snob, it makes me who I am.

Wanting to be accepted by a group of peers is no longer such a priority in my life. Success doesn’t have to mean having five hundred friends on Facebook. What I want are people who appreciate me for me, good and bad. I want to surround myself with those who bolster each other up, not tear one another down.

If that makes me a snob, so be it. I think it makes me real.

What do you think?

I Never Stopped Missing You

Tomorrow would be my father’s birthday. He passed away in 2007 at the age of seventy two. He almost died in 2006 one cold Sunday in January.

Dad seemed odd the entire day. I could not put my finger on it, he seemed not himself since the morning. His balance was way off, to the point where I had to help him to his chair more than once. His balance issue bothered me enough to call my older brother down for a visit. One thing about my dad, he went to the hospital so much he was known by face in the Emergency Room of our local hospital. Dad blew me off a few times insisting he was alright, he just needed to go take a nap.

Then he fell out of bed. Now I was insisting on dad getting checked out. My gut was screaming that something was wrong, but I had no idea what.

Finally, I convinced my brother to come back and got dad to the hospital. By this point, dad thought it was 1976 and was talking to a long deceased neighbor. Apparently, they were fishing. The ER Dr. turned dad over to the Dr. in charge of the cardiac ICU. That Dr. asked which one of us made the call to bring dad in. I said I was the one who made the call. He looked me straight in the eye and said “Congratulations. You saved your fathers life. He is in full renal, liver, and heart failure. If not for you he would be dead.”

This was going on while dad was fighting with the nurse. All I could do was thank the Doctor and walk with them as we went to the cardiac wing of the hospital. As always, I had that feeling of will this be the last time I see him alive? All I ever wanted was for my dad to be happy, and you know something? He was. For a person who had so many health problems, he took things in stride. I knew once he got out of the hospital he would have some good days where all would be well again with him.

Happy Birthday dad. I have never stopped missing you.