Keeping the Past in the Present

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Little more than a year ago I had a little post here about my grandmother’s table..a table belonging to a grandmother I know only through the stories passed on to me by my cousins who knew her and also through the bits and pieces shared a long time ago by my mother and aunts I must add. Honestly I  was an emotional wreck in the first couple of weeks after the table’s arrival, and the more I processed why I was falling apart, the more I was falling apart.  That piece of furniture is this tangible validation that I actually do have roots and a branch on the family tree ..it is mine, it is me. I wrote about it because the table represents the past, the present and the future and it does not matter that it is not the most glorious looking piece of furniture ever created nor that it has actually seen better days..what matters is I am its caretaker for the moment.

That table still resides in my eating area off the kitchen.  Oddly enough, that table no matter how hard I look to replace it with something that would suit the space it sits in ..for the moment still feels like I have a piece of me in my home. The table is not exactly the focus of this rant..but it somewhat ties in to where I am going..so bear with me and eventually I will get there.

So just a little background noise as we move forward …..My family spent the spring and early summer of 2017 knee deep in renovations to our home.  First thing on the agenda …we gutted the kitchen and the dining area..which lead to all brand new windows, new hardwood floors, beautiful cabinets, quartz countertops,  all new professional looking appliances, all new lighting, floors sanded, walls painted ..and when it was all done the rest of the house looked ..well it looked like crap..so we painted more walls and got a new couch, purchased a few rugs at Target (let me just say this ..you can get some snazzy rugs at Home Goods And Target that have incomparable style that works with your budget..and if you have naughty dogs like I do ..if something happens on said rug..no need for a heart attack..worst case for $60 you can get another one) and ended up switching all the electrical outlets to new and clean looking white ones, putting in new light fixtures upstairs and finally cleaning up the mudroom. It is overwhelming just typing this out ..but once the ball gets rolling it is tough to stop. So many changes that once and for all erased the previous owners and at long last allowed me to finally say this is MY home. When all was said and done (for the moment)  I finally splurged and purchased matching glasses, plates, silverware (my previous set was an eclectic mishmash of 28 years of marriage and kids.. I believe  there are forks still lurking under 1 child’s bed ) and be still my beating heart…I got all new cookware..well almost all new. I still can’t decide exactly what color Le Cruset cast Iron pots I want to replace my current ones with (again the current collection while BELOVED ..is mostly a collection of whatever color was on sale at the outlet and suited my needs..the old kitchen was an eclectic mess) and one more…what this rant was intended to be about in the first place.

Before we even began the project I had to pack up the previous space ..and let me tell you 25 years worth of living got crammed into those old cabinets. Mismatched plates, mugs from pretty much every place we ever travelled..countless magnets, a Blue’s Clues Plate here and there..cups from the disbanded USFL ..pieces of my husband’s youth all in there. I sent boxes of kitchen things to Savers, gave my college aged child even more and boxed up the things I was not exactly sure what to do with. I opened up a few of the boxes last week ,5 months or so after the project finished (yes I am that lazy if I do say so myself) and inside the last box I opened was my mother in law’s well seasoned pan that she made her son chile in.

A long time ago in the early days of our marriage we lived in the beautiful dutch colonial home that belonged to my in-laws. My mother in-law J lived long enough to see her youngest son’s oldest daughter come into this world and then she left us. She left behind a house full of treasures, but we were moving away to the safety and the security of the suburbs to raise that little girl in a house half the size of J’s..so  many of her treasures were either thrown out , donated or given away sadly. My husband insisted we keep his mother’s chile pan. This ugly, heavy metal pan that is well seasoned, has no handle, is awkward to handle and was bought at a salvage type store was not part of a matching set but he wanted it.Well I think I am pretty obvious regarding how I felt about the pan. As we were packing up and deciding what to keep or get rid of  a rare moment of kindness swept me over, I did give in and we kept the pan. I recall thinking I would never use it but to make him happy and shut him up I would go along with this. So you know where this is going..what I thought was going to happen and what actually happened are 2 different versions of the same story.

At my husband’s insistence I learned to make chile ..a food I do not love ..in that pan based on the recipe J passed down to her son/my husband. For a while that pan was simply  the chile pan, residing in the back of cabinet and brought out on rare occasions.  Then I  realized I wanted to learn how to make risotto and so the heavy bottomed, round pan was not only the perfect size but also the perfect diameter. The pan became known as “your grandmother’s pan”  to the kids, even though I believe it was and is in my possession longer than hers ..somehow it still feels like I am its caretaker.

I easily could have gotten rid of this pan when we packed up the heart of our home..however this time it was actually me feeling fiercely protective and possessive of the ugly pan..J’s pan. I want to add something here …my children just like me only know their grandmother J through stories passed on to them by their cousins, their dad and their aunts and uncle so I am glad they have something tangible that was hers. Even though it was completely unnecessary I packed the pan with the utmost care when it went into storage and did not seek to replace it with a shiny new All Clad version (not that there is anything like this pan for sale at Williams Sonoma) as I cooked in my new kitchen and began creating favorite dishes (still don’t like chile even though my family loves my version of J’s recipe..I had to tweak it over the years to satisfy the palates of my children) I found myself looking for the pan, missing its presence in the  kitchen.

The other day I got through the end of our Thanksgiving leftovers. I was about to send one of our humans back to college and there is no way this mama would send them back without at least 2 days worth of cooked food for the whole house they share with 4 others ..and I made their favorite “leftovers risotto”. That is pretty much what it sounds like it is …whatever this kid will eat is added to risotto (did I mention this kid has celiac disease and is gluten free???) for this particular kid, gravy is a food group so instead of cream and cheese I use gravy. I get the kid’s point because this is actually one of the better uses of leftovers I have come up with ..the other is poutine made with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce topped with gravy and cheese ..can you hear the angels singing and my gallbladder screaming simultaneously??? Getting back on track here…I made leftovers risotto in J’s pan while this kiddo got a little extra sleep and the husband did whatever it is he does on Sunday mornings. J and I were together again, making comfort food for her son and grandchildren ..sharing the love, keeping it real, showing that a little tangible piece of the past can bring happiness, comfort and family to the present.

Recycled Grief

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The first time I became familiar with the writings and works of Elisabeth Kubler Ross I was still in high school and my mother had recently died. I attended an all girls Catholic school and my religion elective that year was called Death and Dying, The class was popular, I think its popularity had more to do with the charismatic male teacher that everyone wanted to take class with than the subject matter itself, (which is on one hand morbid and somber but on the other hand a cause for joy in the Catholic faith for it is in death that we are once again with our Father in Heaven). I was among those who hoped to have a class with Mr. Lewis, but looking back I am not sure if the subject matter was necessarily anything I was ready to conquer at the time. 30 years later,  I do not remember much from that class..nor do I recall much about Mr. Lewis except that I remember the class being interesting and I remember towards the end he was rather irritated with me because I kept falling asleep in his class no matter what time of the day it was held (it turned out I had a rather nasty case of mononucleosis)  What I do recall is I opened up one day in a class discussion and mentioned that  in my mind I knew my mother had died, but I was still having a tough time believing it really happened ..almost like I was expecting to wake up from a dream and everything would be different. I also acknowledged  I found myself really angry that I woke up every day and everything was the same . I talked about how I was making little deals with God at the time..just get me through today and I promise I will be kind and give someone my seat on the bus, or I will do extra chores at home, or think only good thoughts about everyone at home and how I felt let down by God in those days. That was when we talked about the grief cycle and I was introduced to Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

I confess I was not much interested in that book. or any book for that matter. I did not think anyone understood what I was going through and who needed a book to tell me in that moment and the moments ahead and recently left behind that life sucked. My mother was dead, my family was not easy to live with and I held on to a small glimmer of hope that things could and would get better. That book ON DEATH AND DYING is in a box somewhere in my basement. The book has tattered corners and yellowed pages, it has underlines and highlights of passages I needed to know for a high school class and later on from my own necessary interest in the content after another profound loss rocked my world. I find myself going to that book when I need to remind myself that it is ok to grieve even many years later ..to soothe the guilt that I am simply not over what happened , to understand that grief is not limited to death and dying that other losses in our lives are grieved..or if I need to help someone I know and love who is on their own journey of grief ..I am needing to seek its wisdom once again but lack the energy to search through all the crap stacked in the mess that occupies our basement. Thank goodness for the internet and sites like Facebook and Google  where links to the information are easily accessible.

Today I am thinking about that book and all it that it taught me about loss and grief ..I made the mistake of looking at something I know I shouldn’t have and yup I was sucked down the rabbit hole ..out of acceptance and back into bargaining, sadness and worse…anger. I feel the anger bubbling inside and rising up like a pot of boiling water ..only right now I don;t know how to turn down the heat and I’ll be damned if I can find the lid to the pot..it is probably buried in the basement with my copy of ON DEATH AND DYING. Anger is that part of the grief cycle that I HATE..anger makes me frustrated and tearful, anger forces me to look through a different lens on things versus the one that makes me comfortable and worst of all anger leaves me feeling guilty.

Yes I feel guilty these days because I am getting angry ..I am angry at my mother because she is dead and she has been dead since I was a child..physically she died in 1986 at age 49..and it was her fault she died..lung cancer took her away from me, but she chose to smoke even when the poison from chemotherapy raced through her veins and radiation burned through her body hoping to buy her a few more months..she walked out of her appointments and lit right up ..nothing mattered to her but her own wants and desires and I get that now..even though I can see just how broken and complex her life was ..still I realize in the end and even before it was all about her. I am angry that whatever happened in the fall and early winter of 1973/74 when I was 4 years old totally derailed the path we were headed on and I do not think she was ever the same again. I am really PISSED that even faced with death my mother chose to keep her secrets regarding my father..that my mother knew she could contact him and arrange a meeting just so I could have some answers and she chose to deny me what I needed to know. I know I am supposed to see past that..I should forgive her and accept that she was a troubled soul with minimal education and probably a host of learning issues and maybe even mental illness.I know for sure 1 thing is she suffered from depression ..I know what I should do..but I can’t right now. Right now I am thinking about me.

I feel this painful sadness that I am learning bits and pieces about my father and who I am via the internet. It’s not the same as knowing someone ..it’s real and theoretical all at the same time.  It’s sad and satisfying in its own way as well. Most people if they do not grow up with their families at least have relatives or friends who relay stories and tell them things like you have your father’s eyes, you remind me of your mother by the way you walk..your grandmother had the same look on her face when she was angry..I have none of that. My mother died and everyone stopped talking about her after the funeral as if she never existed..my father, the man who called int he middle of the night and stopped by long after I went to bed (except for once that i remember) the man to whom my mother often said in anger “she is a piece crap just like you” or “I can’t stand to look at her because she reminds me of you” ceased to exist after we moved out of our apartment ..he would remain Tony the lawyer with a wife named Carol and a daughter named Katie .the man who I ached to know, the man who should have rescued me just vanished like a puff of smoke in the air. He died in 2010 when I was 40 years old ..I found his obituary at the time..they did not even have a wake for him, they had a memorial at a later time .I wondered then like I do now..was it a ploy to keep me away. My sister Kate knows I exist..I wrote to her in my 20s..she lives in the same house now as she did then ..I till have the same address as I did then  ..she never wrote back..she never called ..she just left me hanging. I found another relative named John Michael ..he acts as if I have no right to any information about my family that he holds…he and his sister called my father “Uncle Tony” ..I hate to break it to you John Michael but my father as you know was an only child, your mother Trish (I found her name thanks to ancestry research) was his first cousin on his mother’s side …my FATHER is your second cousin and I am more deserving of knowing who he was and how he died than you are. It took John Michael 4 years..that is right 4 YEARS to respond me after I reached out to him..and instead of having an ounce of compassion he came across as an asshole.

I am mostly angry with my parents ..they made a decision to carry on an affair..I am the result of that affair ..Tony got to walk away and go back to his wife, child, career and life ..my mother got to have his child ..I got to be abandoned, I got to be treated as a second class citizen and pitied because I did not have a father (I had/have one he just decided not to be a part of my life) I got to live in the projects in a 1 bedroom apartment infested with rodents and cockroaches, I got to live below a very mentally ill woman who could be dangerous, who stayed up all hours of the day and night screaming and slamming on the floor ..playing the same song on repeat on her stereo (I still cringe when I hear the song ME AND MRS JONES) I got to often go hungry, I got to be told how ugly I was and how much I ruined her my mother’s life. I got to wait to see if my father would show up even to just talk at my mother’s wake and funeral..and as far as I know he did not. I got to be rejected by my father after I wrote to him in my twenties ..I am still being rejected by my sister. My sister does not want to be bothered to have a relationship with me. I spent years feeling guilty that I wrote to her and told her who I am ( I was probably 23/24 at the time and that would have made her 31/32 it is not like we were babies) feeling like maybe I never should have said anything and just stayed in my troll corner..now I am pissed at her as well.

Kate..you do not have to have a relationship with me…I get it you see me as a less than person whose mother did something heinous to your mother. (Projecting here I know) and you are right ..I can’t excuse what my mother did or what our father did to your mother ..but let’s get something  straight here.none of that is my fault. I did not choose my parents any more than you chose yours. I do not know the circumstances of your birth but I can tell you this…between the 2 of us..I was not wanted. Just the fact that I was a girl and not a boy was a huge issue ..but even after I was here neither one of them wanted anything to do with me. Here is the difference between us.. I doubt you ever went hungry, I doubt you were ever woken up at 2 in the morning because there was a raging dumpster fire or abandoned car burning in the alley outside your bedroom window and the flames shattered the glass from the window all over you as you slept. I doubt your mother told you how heinous you were simply for existing and that your father wanted you to be an abortion..I doubt you ever lived a day wondering who one of your parents is and looking in the mirror trying to figure out who you look like, wondering why you can read a book in a day (when your mother can barely read) or why your eyes are green when your mothers were dark brown, I doubt you ever wondered what nationality you were or if you had grandparents.  I doubt you ever had to be the one who paid the bills at age 8, I doubt you had to learn to cook at 7 or ever had to eat mustard sandwiches for dinner, learn how to make a dozen of eggs, a stick of butter, a jar of peanut butter (a food I HATE) and a loaf of bread last for a week, or that you had to learn how to sneak off to relatives houses just to get something to eat because your mother and her sisters were not talking and once again you were hungry. I doubt you ever had to go begging the neighbors for milk, for some bread or worse what mattered more to your mother..cigarettes. I doubt you ever had to shake your clothes out or your school bad to make sure there were no cockroaches, I doubt you had to ask people to drop you off on a different street and pretend to go into a different house because you knew people would think differently of you if they knew you lived in the projects. I doubt you were on food stamps and I doubt you know what it is like to be utterly all alone in this world and have to figure out where you were going to go and how you were going to make it.

That is my life Kate..and still you look down upon me. In many ways I am grateful for that life because of it I am fiercely independent and very resourceful and I understand how a little compassion goes a long way. In other ways I despise that is what Madeline and Tony did to me and I feel guilty, sad and angry all at the same time that I just cannot accept that is the way it was. I don;t want much from you my sister. Naively I used to want a relationship where I had a sister ..I do not want that any longer..What I want is for you to acknowledge me just once..I want you to stop holding my medical history and anything about my father hostage. He is also my father like it or not..you are my half sister. we are family. I admit I  am angry with you because you have the power to be kind and you are choosing not to be and I can’t understand why. If our roles were reversed ..I would welcome you into my life with open arms. I think life has taught me to be kind because I have not always experienced kindness and I know a little kindness can create change in anyone’s life. You don’t deserve my kindness ..but I know who I am and I will always have an open door for you. I make bargains with God every day ..If I just do this could you please send me a sign…I don’t have much left to bargain with. For as much as I am angry with you Kate..I am also so terribly sad ..no heartbroken for what probably will never be. I am sure all those who love you would say you are an amazing person and I am sure they are right..I am sure the ones who know about me think I am this awful human being who needs to stay in her place and out of your existence …the people who love me would tell you I am not so bad.I really do not have horns on my head and I looked there is no 666 tattooed at the base of my skull..my friends and loved ones can’t understand why you are rejecting me and think maybe you should reconsider your position.  As for me..I will get through this cycle of grief, it will kick my ass for a while but in the end it will all be ok ..it has to be otherwise the grief and the crap wins and I am way to competitive to allow that to happen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insomnia and Hypochondria

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The wind is howling outside, my husband is at a conference for his job and I have full blown insomnia …fun times. Maybe having a little Pepsi to settle my stomach before dinner was not exactly the smartest move considering I am sitting here wide awake. Or was it the opening of an email from a new found cousin in Nova Scotia giving me a lead on my maternal grandmother that got me fired up? Who knows maybe it is all of the above  or which it is..the fact of the matter is I can’t sleep and I kind of sort of need to get up in about 5/6 hours because my new sofa is being delivered …and yeah I am somewhat feeling like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive. You know you are old when a new sofa riles up an excitement in your dead soul, the likes of which you have not felt in years. I have to admit this sofa is worth the hype..I customized the fabric, the legs, the cushions ..you name it, it looks kind of like the one I was lusting after in the Serena and Lily catalogue  this past summer…just not as wide or long and minus the nearly $5000 price tag. Enough about sofas ..I am here to whine about the fact that I can’t sleep.

So to be completely honest here I know what I should do is shut down the computer, turn off the television and lay in the dark listening to one dog snore and smell the other one farting ..but then who would I whine to? Actually instead of resting my brain, I  would be laying in my bed composing a post that would sound and be far better than this one and I still would not sleep. Frankly, I would rather catch up on the 15 episodes of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that I recorded on my DVR and keep forgetting to watch (because at the moment Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers are KILLING their monologues/A Closer Look/The Check In/Amber Says What and Fallon although I love him ..well Fallon is funny and light hearted and quite frankly my safe space for late night TV but not capturing my attention right now) while whining in a post here than to be in the dark listening to my own thoughts./dealing with the dogs.because you know at least Fallon is funny and adorable..traits I do not possess.

Did I mention the wind is howling? If I did… what I probably failed to mention is it is freaking humid as hell tonight and for those of us with lungs that are irritated just by their very own existence humidity sucks ass. Speaking of lungs ..yeah this is where the hypochondria comes is..you see I actually have a really obnoxious diagnosis of Lupus ..and the rheumatologist says I have fibromyalgia but I am not overly impressed with that diagnosis..I think I just ache like hell because I really don;t move much these days thanks to my annoying lupus complications of pericarditis, a pericardial effusion, pleural effusions and pleurisy ..and yeah I know I am whining but I have to remind myself sometimes that yeah this shit is not just in my head and there is an actual reason why I want to move and exercise but that’s not exactly the best idea.

Getting back to the hypochondria..I guess I should mention I think I am in the middle of losing my damn mind this year. It is no secret I dragged myself to therapy years ago thinking I needed only  the allotted 8 visits the insurance company we had at the time allowed and I would be on my merry way…then the bitch (I kid because she is actually an  awesome person) figured out that I was and probably still am bound together by tattered seams, caffeine, and by a stubborn streak so fierce it makes Kim Jung Un look like a reasonable person and made me stick around a little longer than I first thought I would. The first few years I was really ashamed that I needed some help to process life that happened, life that was currently happening and life that was about to happen ..now I am like please I am just as nuts and just as sane as the next person at least I accept that I need a fairly objective person to look me in the eye and say Bitch get over yourself and cut the crap..but it is also nice to have someone say every now and then you know what that is not cool or yeah I get it that sucks so now what are you going to do about it. This year however the shrink is on speed dial ..While I know I ave a chronic illness  and I deal with it by whatever means necessary (like write this self serving blog)..and one more side rant ..this woman has been the one person who every 6 weeks or so I can sit down with and really let go how I feel about what my life is currently.. because everything changed after this diagnosis..she was the one who forced me to bring in all of my reports from the doctors .things I understood and knew how to interpret and said this is not in your head (I spent the first 18 months thinking every time I went to the doctor they were going to tell me girl you are nuts, there is nothing wrong with you now go away..only the opposite happened every time I went to the doctor they looked and said this is not good)…please understand this is serious and you are not making this up..tests don;t lie, MRIs are not fake ..wishing this away or willing yourself better is not going to work ..ok rant over. We were talking about my chronic hypochondria ..or at least I alluded to it before I went off on the rant about my shrink…

It has hit me hard..I am 48 ..my mother was 48 when she was diagnosed with terminal lung and brain cancer ..I have 198 days until I turn 49 ..and 258 days to go beyond the time my mother lived. She turned 49 on 5/17/86 and died 7/15/86 …I need to make it to 6/10/18 ..IN THE MEANTIME I really need to get my act together. So far every time I get a migraine I swear to God in Heaven above I have a brain tumor ..because you know that is totally rational or if I forget to eat and get a little dizzy I am thinking I am going to have another attack of vertigo..my lungs have felt incredibly heavy ..I have looked up the symptoms of lung cancer about 45 times ..I swear I have memorized them ..but I need to see it in front of me to reassure I don;t have those symptoms..can we talk about the fact that I have never smoked??? Yes I was exposed to second hand smoke as the mother was incubating me and she smoked in the house. the aunts smoked in their houses, people smoked in restaurants when I was a child , people smoked in the car with the windows rolled up but I never smoked so my chances are slimmer but yet I am terrified all of a sudden of lung cancer ..I am terrified that a sniffle is going to bring on a full pericardial flare ..I am terrified that I am on borrowed time..the shrink says this is normal for someone who lost their mother when they were young ..she says many people have a weird year when it is the same year/age their parent died ..I am losing my damn mind.

Part of my insomnia is fueled by the fact that when I am in the dark and it is quiet and it hurts to lay down, but hurts to sit up and the dog has let one rip and I am nauseous  from the stench, but warm and comfortable enough that the prospect of moving a muscle sends me into a state of sheer panic..I start thinking about all this dark crap that normally rolls right off my back..so I lay awake and afraid to turn on the TV again because it wakes my husband up but hoping for a distraction ..wondering if I am going to see June 10 ..(I will and I know I will) trying to remember if I put the new car payment on auto pay( I did)  ..wondering if the headache I have is a brain tumor (it’s not) and wondering why I can’t sleep (I am a hypochondriac as of 7/15/17)

I wrote this post a few days ago..fell asleep actually while writing it so I guess writing is cathartic..FYI the sofa arrived and I love it…I love it so much I won’t let anyone sit on it just yet..I mean come on it needs to look awesome for even a little while or until I can find a plastic  slipcover (no I would not do that but it would be both funny and really practical) the husband came home and I realized part of my insomnia stems from the fact that he snores in unison with the dog..among other things ..and yeah I admit I am a full blown hypochondriac who actually has a chronic illness ..I have been assured I may get a little but crazier between now and my birthday and full blown bat shit crazy from my birthday until June 10…strap in kids it is going to be a bumpy ride

A lesson in Compassion

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OK…so deep breath (which hurts like hell thanks to all the complications lupus has wracked my body with..just saying) today was round number  I lost count in the saga of dealing with our elderly neighbor. I cannot believe I feel the need to write this post but here goes..and please bear with me

During the past 18 months I have often taken to writing about the rather unsettling encounters with my neighbor Elsie. The first episode took me by surprise ..I actually had someone in my home renovating my bathroom who witnessed everything..I literally had just said to him don;t worry about her she is harmless ..I am eating those words. That was the start of a slippery slope where often times her tirades and inexplicable actions/reactions have lined up with pivotal moments occurring in my life. ..you know like right before I was going for a breast biopsy and ultrasound because I had a pesky suspicious lump..or right before I was on my way for a cardiac MRI .. or the day I was heading off to see Faith and nervous as hell ..and too many times in between to count. It still continues to blow my mind that during the past 18 months, Elsie has called the police numerous times reporting that I have broken into her home, killed her plants, stolen her iron and her bedsheets, dumped leaves in her yard during the middle of the night…in her mind I am the problem..and yet it has not resonated with her husband or possibly her kids (they are hardly ever here so who knows what they think) that the possibility lies that whatever is happening is all in Elsie’s mind? I have spoken to the police  about what happened in the past and continues to happen and every single time the police have suggested to me that I get an order of protection at the local courthouse. My response has been and still remains that my neighbor needs help not law enforcement..that is not in any way negating the reality that this situation is difficult to live with ..it is difficult being the target of her delusions and it does not negate the stress and anxiety this situation places on me. What should be stressed is there is something going on that in all fairness is none of my business ..but by doing nothing or refusing to acknowledge the situations that continue to escalate this has in turn become my problem.

I have owned this home for about 26 years now ..many of those years living rather quietly amongst my neighbors including Elsie and her husband John. Elsie has always been a very nice albeit high maintenance and rather nosy neighbor. Elsie is the neighbor you know enough to welcome in to your home and to keep at arms length distance at the same time ..because while her intentions were never intentionally malicious (at least I never perceived them to be) she has a tendency to twist things to make the gossip sound more interesting or to find a way to get the story. My husband, my former neighbor and I  dubbed her the “Gladys Kravitz” of the neighborhood and yes I did include a BEWITCHED  reference there (and I am aware there may be some who have no clue what that reference is)..hell I rarely locked my door when I went out because I knew Elsie was always home and always on neighborhood watch. This recent turn of events saddens me, it frightens me,it angers me and it stresses the hell out of me all at the same time.

Yesterday as I mopped the mudroom floor I look out and  I see a different neighbor from around the block who is also elderly and a friend of Elsie’s marching across my lawn looking rather upset..WHAT NOW! My husband answered the door to “Is your wife here” and I was confronted  angrily with “why don;t you like my friend Elsie?” We have to explain that we have been dealing with whatever issues Elsie has been dealing with for about 18 months now..those include episodes of Elsie screaming at me from her driveway  (sometimes in her bathrobe and barely dressed)and hurling obscenities, calling me a bitch, accusing me of stealing from her, vandalizing her yard (which is meticulous by the way) and anything else she can shoot at me..we have dealt with multiple calls to the police (that Elsie told her friend the police refuse to do anything about the situation) we have dealt with her reckless driving, we have watched this tragedy unfold and include us while her husband and family seemingly do absolutely nothing. Our response has been not to respond. we do not call the police but we have called elder services and our town’s council on elder affairs in an attempt to get some help for her..we have responded by waiting until she leaves to put out our trash or collect our trash bins from the designated spot on trash day..we wait until she is not outside to water our plants and flowers during the spring and summer, we back our car in when we bring groceries home so she cannot see us while unloading , we clean the car out at the car wash, we make sure none of our actions are of any cause to set her off. We have been mindful that something is not right and have been unable to have a conversation with any other neighbor outside because she comes out and screams..I attempted to record her on my phone but forgot to hit record a month or so ago..she told her friend this and said now she can’t yell at me This is a sad situation and this poor woman is suffering..but so am I and that is equally unfair to me. Elsie’s friend Ellen explained to us that Elsie was at her house that morning crying because she claimed we were out to get her..crying hard and ugly tears in Ellen’s kitchen to the point where Ellen felt the need to drive Elsie home the 7 or 8 houses around the block so Elsie could be safe..Elsie declined. I have witnessed Elsie walking home in the neighborhood in recent weeks and her behavior is bizarre to say the least..an indication that something is not right..she walks oddly and then instead of going into her own driveway she will duck between the fence post and mailbox of the neighbor directly across from me and stay there a minute before heading into her own house..paranoia over a threat that does not exist. Ellen was upset to hear how her friend is acting and it dawned on her that Elsie’s conversations of late are centered more in the past than in the present. I hope Ellen realizes that we wish Elsie no harm but we also do not wish to be the target of her tirades and delusions..a sign this is really bad..Elsie wants to erect a rather large fence on her property with motion detectors and alarms to keep me out of her house. Her suffering must be immeasurable if this is where she is at.

I cannot force Elsie’s husband John or any of her 3 children to step up and get this woman some help. I am enraged by her husband’s managing this situation by not doing anything at all. when things escalate he will come over and apologize to my husband and not to me the person who takes the brunt of this abuse. John has repeatedly told us Elsie is very old and he does not know what to say or do. John responded to the latest call to the police by telling a neighbor who asked what happened ..oh just another dead plant (the police officer  admitted she recognized Elsie was not responding rationally and Elsie’s account of what was wrong did not make sense and planned to call elder services herself ) John continues to work pretty much full time and leaves Elsie home and to her own devices on a daily basis. John according to Ellen wants nothing to do with the situation..I am sorry John but it is your responsibility to step up and make the difficult decisions to make your wife’s life easier and to prevent her from being abusive to me and the other neighbors, to insure that she does not hurt  herself or someone else with her car because in her state of mind she should not be driving . I rarely see the kids visiting unless it is a holiday or after elder services have been called ..I understand they are all adults with jobs and kids of their own but this is their mother and no mater what the relationship is between them..their mother needs help ..she needed help at least 18 months ago and now we have a woman so trapped by her delusions that she feels the need to erect a fence with motion sensors and alarms? John and Elsie’s kids need to step up and step in because their father is unable to cope with this situation. what are they going to do if she hurts herself or someone else with her car? What will they do if her memory issues become so impaired that she forgets to turn off the stove or causes a fire in the home? What are they going to do if she gets confused and does something she regrets? What is it going to take for these people to recognize that they have a responsibility to say and do what is right and necessary to make their mother’s remaining years comfortable and less stressful? They should start by showing up here more often..by taking her keys away and taking the time insure she is being properly treated..in the end she is their mother and they should be doing the right thing.

i recognize that what is happening to elsie can happen to any one of us. This is a sad fact of life..my hope is if it is me that my husband and kids will make the tough choices and have the strength and compassion to what is right not what is easy.

 

A Leap with Faith

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Some days I write a post and realize that I am whining so much about the trials and tribulations of my life that even I am sick of reading the word vomit in front of me. That said..yeah I am going share yet again a day in the life of this crazy lady in her late 40s still trying to figure it all out.

I have been sitting on this post for more than a month..stuck trying to say what I want to say..stuck in this wait did that really happen? DID I actually do what I did and what the bleep was I thinking? I am in a moment of it is now or never ..let it out ..own it girl ..so here goes nothing.

As I have posted before, I have spent the vast majority of my life trying to find my father. My father Tony,  the  elusive figure in my life who according to my mother’s narrative was the root of all our evils..however even while that may have a sliver of truth to it..it is to me to decide or at least have the chance to decide what that narrative is.

Who was my father? The answer to that question is rather complicated by a lack of information from my mother while she was alive other than telling me his first name, wife’s name and my sister’s name as well as his profession all things that were difficult to trace until rather recently. However back to my self imposed question…my father was : to my young self the scary figure in the shadows to whom my mother planned to send me when I was bad . My father’s house was a place where I would be locked in a room and given nothing more than bread and water to survive on ( my 5 year old self often imagined the attic tower such as the one Cinderella lived in the Disney movie and my father’s wife resembled the evil step mother..that was scary shit to a little kid)…to my adolescent self he was the nameless, faceless asshole who called at 3 in the morning and to whom my mother  said that I was nothIng more than a piece of garbage just like him..to my 17 year old self with a dying mother he was the one who did not come and rescue me from the depths of my despair when I held out all hope beyond hope. He was not there  as my mother said the words that continue to haunt me (no matter how much money and time i spend in therapy) “When I die no one wants you” ..that sentence has been part of very soul since she said it..mostly because she was so very right for all the wrong reasons. To my young adult self my father was the elusive man who rejected my letter to him offering to meet in a park just to get to know anything about myself..to my middle aged self he is the one who got away..the other dead parent gone before I even got the chance to introduce myself and prove to him that I was ok in spite of his absence and because of his genetic gifts. I am meeting my father finally at 48 years old , seven years after he died, thanks to Ancestry.com DNA confirming my paternity (via being related to basically everyone he was related to on his father and mother’s side) and discovering things like his obituary. My father’s obituary was a place where people left detailed messages of condolence to his wife and my half sister and nephew giving me a glimpse into who he was. The stories those who knew him shared gave me that aha moment where I finally could say that explains a lot.

One such message was written by a woman named Faith..Faith and her husband chose my father to be the godfather of their child she wrote..and she described some of their times together including the fact that my father and his wife attended the college graduation of Faith’s child. It was a beautiful story but I found myself seething with jealousy and rage ..how was it that my father could show so much love and so much compassion for a friendly stranger’s child and yet leave his own daughter behind? Where was he when I graduated? where was he when I got married or lost my child or when the many wonderful and beautiful things in my life occurred? Jealousy is not an easy beast to tame but the logical side of me understands that those were different times and it was not acceptable in the days when I was young for a married man to say here honey this is my child ..the shame and blame were heaped upon the mother and unfortunately by default the child as well..but in between the lines I was haunted by this and so I reached out to family and I was rejected. I am not one to let things go, I stew and I think and I hold on to it all …to be honest I still in my darkest place want to go to my sister’s house (yeah I know where she lives ..it is public record) and ring her bell and say WHY WON:T YOU JUST TALK TO ME I AM YOUR SISTER..but I never would because first of all it is not right to invade her space and secondly I really don’t have the guts. After all the rejection I had no clue how to move forward and then I had a it’s now or never moment and so I resorted to a not so brilliant idea and took a leap of faith.

I googled Faith based on the location she left on the seven year old obituary and found her thanks to social media still in the same location she was back then.I found her on linked in and facebook and a place of employment..reaching out via facebook did not work quite so well when I attempted it with my paternal relatives so I made the absolutely insane and rash decision to put the dog in the car and drive the distance to a neighboring state and speak to Faith in person..not knowing if she would be there or not at her place of employment.

The dog is an excellent travel companion by the way..he loves the same music I do, he can handle the silence like I can and he is an avid listener (I’m just saying) I met Faith and mustering all the courage I had before I fell apart..I simply said “are you Faith?” and she looked at me probably horrified and said  I am” ..I said “I am Tony Hazen’s daughter”. I have rarely uttered those words to anyone let alone myself in all of my years. She wanted to know who my mother was and I had to explain my mother had passed away many years before  and all I was looking for was to get to know a little bit about him to maybe put a patch over this hole in I have..something ..anything would be better than absolutely nothing.

Faith was kind and as generous as she could be and gave me a little insight into just who my father was..smart, funny..flawed. He died of alzheimer’s ..at least I know what may be in my future and while not comforting ..definitely necessary to know. He was not faithful to his marriage and it seems everyone he knew was well aware ..he was a heavy drinker and a great athlete and a brilliant attorney. I have a sister and a “step mother” who has not always had an easy time in her life..a story faith shared simply broke my heart. I told Faith that my father is a grandfather and she said yes Katie has a son and I had to explain that I too have children whom he never met ..who are smart, kind and funny ..I have a daughter who looks so much like him from the  pictures I have found online.

The whole time I was there what was running through my head was ..you crazy ass stalker what the hell are you doing here? How the hell did you think this was OK? Faith kept talking..I kept listening..I found myself as I always do apologizing for my very existence and then she said to me “It is not your fault you are here..you did nothing wrong”. I DID NOTHING WRONG..holy crap that was the first time I really heard that from someone other than my therapist and it hit me like a ton of bricks..it has taken me this long to allow those words to truly sink in..”It’s not your fault”..my entire childhood my mother said I was the reason my father left..my father did not want me but she did..he wanted her to have an illegal abortion and she said no and then I came along..and I was not a boy like I was supposed to be ..I ruined everything. here was a stranger before me who said it I did nothing wrong..it has been like a huge burden lifted finally.

An hour after we met..Faith and I said goodbye. I gave her my email address and like I expected she never contacted me. My parting words were “You gave me a gift and I cannot thank you enough” ..I wonder if i should write her a thank you note..if I should send her flowers to her place of work ..I don’t know what to do ..any opinions would be greatly appreciated .

One final thing that crosses my mind..it is amazing how much a little information..how someone showing a little kindness and a little respect can mend the restlessness. I am blown away by just knowing what I know now has settled in ..I still long to know more but the need feels less urgent  and far less desperate. I don;t recommend guerrilla tactics of just showing up in a sleepy little town where everyone knows everyone but I took a leap and I found Faith and I will not forget

 

The Good ..The Bad and The Ugly of the Last 6 Days

It is midnight here on the East Coast and I am awake when I would rather be asleep. Truth be told this is the latest my eyes have been open ..with the exception of this past Saturday (a night out with the Squad is ALWAYS worth staying awake past my 7:00 PJ time) but I am riddled with anxiety thanks to quite frankly a lot of shit going on in my life at the moment.

Another confession…I am stringing together this post because to be quite frank there is another looming in my head that needs to be let out but I am still processing the subject matter…and stewing like I always do.

Where to begin?? Thursday, I will start at Thursday of this past week and see where we go. Thursday was one of those ordinary days..it was nice out, the dogs were behaving, and I reconciled the courage to go on an adventure seeking some truth ..there will be more on this in another post. In the meantime,  Let’s get back to Thursday..well for all my best laid plans where I avoid the elderly dementia patient across the street like a ninja ..she caught me as I was cleaning out the car (as I prepared to head off on my adventure). To the end of her driveway she walked and started shouting ..(oh it only works if add in her British Accent. In case I never mentioned it…she is originally from England)  as I discarded an old Starbucks cup and a bag containing the remnants of my breakfast ..I was “serenaded” by the screeching sounds of…

“You BITCH..in my yard again..causing trouble …I will get you ..” I kind of blocked her out at this point but she was slinging Bitch at me like a gunfighter in the wild wild west. Rattled and quite frankly pissed my stealthy ways had been compromised… I whipped out my phone and held it up like I was recording  this interaction. Well … I was intending to record this so you know I have evidence to show someone so  MAYBE she FINALLY gets some help..and I forgot to hit the flipping record button..so nothing ..nada was recorded on tape. I said nothing because as evil as I am even I know she is not well and I really did not want to escalate things …but in my head I was like ..Yup that was me in your yard…Oh and I took a dip in the pool, the water is awesome and by the way ..I peed in the filter while I was at it. …Now the problem is a) she does not have a pool and never has had one ..B) by saying this she will probably think she had a pool and I stole it …and a little side rant here if you can go in someone’s yard and steal a pool..you deserve it because that is not an easy task..end rant…..c) she would call the police and report me for stealing her pool and peeing in the filter..not worth it…but it would be fun to mess with her head.

That sadly was not the end ..she proceeded to be in a complete huff and then get into her car ..she backed out of the driveway without looking and almost hit a woman coming down our street and then went down on the fairly busy road at the end of the street. The fact that she is still driving scares the absolute shit out of me.especially after these episodes where she is not lucid at all. My opinion is her husband and kids need to not only take her keys but they also need to sell her car so she does not have access to drive..but then again that will be my fault as well in her mind. In all seriousness if they don;t stop her now before things continue to get worse for her mentally and physically there is a possibility she will hurt not only herself but also someone else ..quite possibly the kids who wait for the bus at the bottom of our street or a mother out for a walk with her baby..or another car passing by..the possible scenarios all are incredibly frightening.

Shall we proceed to Friday afternoon? Friday afternoon was spent reeling and processing from the previous day’s interactions and adventures and then almost as if the universe was reminding me that all the events of our lives are connected I got some not so great news. Friday afternoon one of my dearest friends was part of a horrific car accident that was the result of an elderly driver who crossed the center line on a heavily travelled road..this person hit a cement truck in front of my friend and the impact sent his car barreling into hers resulting in her car (from the looks of the photos  posted by the newspaper)being damaged beyond repair and theirs is as well. This woman is one of my dearest friends..someone I love beyond words and while I am grateful she is ok and suffered only minor physical injuries..this driver could have taken her life and the lives of those she loves and those who love her would never be the same again. While I breathe a sigh of relief that she is still with us..I am angry that drivers like the one who hit my friend (whose license was in the process of being reviewed or revoked by the RMV) or the elderly lady across the street from me are still behind the wheel and no one is stepping up to help them for their own good. People it is not just about the driver..it is about everyone their actions could affect..

Saturday..there are parts of Saturday that are a blur…  Saturday was also a long planned night out with the women who keep me sane..there was some time at a local establishment for some pregaming action ..there were margaritas and there was food ..there was also an amazing DJ where we were..need I say anything else?.. A certain someone texted me after seeing a social media post or 2 that DD no longer stood for Designated Driver..but rather stood for Drunk and Disorderly (and you have my husband to thank for that last line..I am giving credit where it is due) then there was a concert ..and can I admit that while intoxicated and sobering up..I do realize that there are certain musical acts that I was/am and will be  just too old for ..even though it was fun..what mattered was being out with the girls.

Sunday ..Sunday was hot and semi productive..ok I admit it I went out and spent some money on fun things like plants, bird feeders, decorative rocks for my garden and a gorgeous blue fairy ball ..oh and few groceries too..but that fairy ball is ..be still my beating heart!

Well then we move on to Monday that day of reckoning when the weekend comes to an end and reality and adulting rear their ugly heads again. Monday was a trip down disjointed memory lane with the lovely neighbor across the street..I guess via my magical powers I dumped leaves in her yard and caused a mess… I mean come on Mother Nature is my homie..girl has got my back ..is it my fault that Mama  did her best BITCH PLEASE and kicked up the wind and threw her own personal shade a/k/a rain on Saturday? There is only so much control one girl can exercise over her friends and remember kids It’s not nice to Fool Mother Nature (yeah I reached back ..and I mean way back for that one) ….. After yet another encounter on Monday with the neighbor I  made a call to the elder Services department in my state and made a report. I let them know there is no way I believe this woman is being abused, her house is not run down, I am sure it is immaculate on the inside..BUT she can not continue to have these outbursts and make it impossible for me to unload groceries from my car, put my trash out, water my plants or have a conversation with the people who are my neighbors. I have already altered how I get things done outside..the trash is not picked up until after noon time and so I wait until she has left in her car..the same car I DO NOT want her driving and put the trash out (although lately the husband is the one who has taken over this chore) I back my car in the driveway when unloading groceries so I am close to my stairs and less likely for her to see me..I water as fast as I can especially when she is not home in order not to set her off..I do not think I am a monster..I understand that some day I may be as old as she is and I very well may have memory issues my hope is someone extends the same kindness to me and that my kids care enough to step up and intervene. All that said..she can not continue to attack me and threaten me and it is not fair I have to resort to ninja like tactics to avoid this woman…and now for..

Tuesday ..what can i say about Tuesday??? Well Tuesday was the day I discovered that we were not alone in being scammed by an unscrupulous contractor (whom we successfully sued in small claims court and that is a novel let alone another blog post) and that the guy has an MO that he uses on the unsuspecting people who hire him. The short version..he likes to pretend he is licensed and insured ..he is not…he has a slew of dead friends and relatives that he resurrects to garner sympathy and money and then he kills them off to deflect from his not showing up when he says he will or not doing the work that he gets paid to do…or when he is supposed to go to court for a payment hearing ..or shall I say lack of payment hearing.  Oh and he is always sick and he almost always gets diagnosed with cancer ..he told us at one point he was really sorry he never finished the job he was supposed to do for us but he only had six months to live..after we filed a small claims lawsuit what do you know IT”S A MIRACLE ..Praise Jesus the man is cured!!!! It is enough to make me want to go church right now…well I made a new friend who is in the club of people scammed and robbed by this person.

So if that was not enough to make my blood boil and my heart break all at the same time..because you know I was kind of naively hoping we were the only ones who he preyed upon like this …I come to find out NAH he is just as bad to others if not worse. By the way this person is a member of a closed Facebook group that I belong to as well and if you were to read the things he posts you would say he was captain of the moral police . he is all about doing the right thing and being fair and just and owning your shit..I have a piece of advice buddy ..how about you own YOUR shit and pay back the money you owe to us and probably countless others..how about you stop soliciting work, taking money, lying about your credentials, inventing illnesses, deaths and accidents..show up for court hearings and better yet stop lying to the court ..stop sending multiple text messages and emails so you can attempt to bully people in order to make them go away and not want to deal with you so you can keep their money..which for us was thousands of dollars (and no pal we are NOT going anywhere) stop going ape shit when you are appropriately reported to not only the BBB but also the state agency that oversees contractors because dude you earned this ..anyone who has been scammed by you never wants this to happen to another person ever again…Yesterday he sent a rather abusive and threatening email to my husband and yeah the police are now involved ..we are not the only ones who have had to go this route .. but that email once I was aware of it left me with that horrible anxious feeling ..that feeling that I am not safe in my own home. Unreasonable? maybe..but this person was welcomed into my home and had access to our inner most sanctuary..he saw me at a point when I was newly diagnosed with lupus and very sick form the medication they put me on..he took advantage of me emotionally and financially when things were low and if he could do that when we were on good terms what is to stop him now that he is backed into a corner and trapped like a rat from coming out attacking?

I should point out that I am finishing this post at a decent hour of the day..I managed to sleep just about 5 hours between about 1 AM and 9 this morning but not all in a row. I was wide awake at 5 and ironed a linen shirt for my husband to wear to work today..I had a little breakfast..I tried to finish this post..I saw one of the kids off to work and then I crashed for at least an hour until the dogs started barking..I looked to see why ..one of them (Tessie) was on the kitchen table barking out the window (busted you little brat.but you are very cute so I let you get away with it) and I see my elderly neighbor somewhat running down the street.she went into the driveway of the people directly next to her and crossed into her yard through an opening next to a tree and telephone pole situated next to their fence trying to be stealthy or something (i looked no animals were around other than my mouthy dogs in my house and no one was chasing after her) it would have been quicker and easier to walk around their mailbox and up her short driveway..memory loss is evil and if it is indeed alzheimer’s at the root of this it is an evil disease that poaches the best parts of people at all ages.

I will leave you all with this rant..I need to stop stewing and write the post that needs writing

Let’s Talk about Beauty

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Every single time I walk by a mirror I look and see my flaws. I am not as thin as I wish I could be, my hair is turning gray, the skin under my neck is flabby, I have red patches on my face ..my arms have baby bat wings..all of this stares back at me when I see my reflection. I know I am not alone in harboring insecure feelings about the way I look or the way I imagine the world sees me because I see the same reactions and witness the same self doubt when I am with other women. It makes me wonder how do we as women get to this place?

I just spent 4 of the best days of this year with very dear friends ..both old and new..in Miami where body image and fashion are on display at all hours of the day and night. Young women who are strong and confident in their own skin walking about in nothing more than a bathing suit (which left very little to the imagination) or a bathing suit and cover up were all around us not only on the beach but also walking about on the main streets Collins Ave and Ocean ..simply gorgeous. If I can be perfectly honest what I found most attractive was not how thin or how shapely these women were ..it was the beauty in their self confidence. Now there were also women we encountered on the beaches in both Miami and on our adventure to the Gulf Coast chasing the sun who were not what one would consider the ideal candidate for wearing a bikini confidently wearing a 2 piece suit and not giving a flying f*** about what anyone else thought. GOD I wish I could bottle that and distribute it to women world wide because let me tell you something..confidence is beautiful..confidence is sexy.

My friends are some of the most gorgeous women I know. My friends are stunning inside and out…I do not think I have ever noticed their weight or a gray hair or wrinkle ever in the years I have known them (it has been a very long time by the way..I am blessed to have friends who have been there since I bloomed very a young girl into a young woman and now as woman in the prime of my life). Here is what I do notice..I notice that when we get together a smile lights up our faces, I notice the sound of laughter when we spend time together and I notice just how empowered I feel in their presence. That is what true beauty is.

I will say to you what I said to them when we discussed how uncomfortable we all felt posting pictures on social media or nitpicked our perceived flaws..we are beautiful. We own bodies that have nurtured and given life to amazing children..our bodies have protected and fed and been pushed to places we never thought that we could go. Our minds and hearts have nourished and loved knowledge, accepted friends, contributed to our perspective careers ..made a difference in ways large and small in this world..that is a beautiful thing. Individually we are strong and beautiful..together we are a force to be reckoned with.

We often say we look back on pictures of us from our high school years or young adult years and say look how gorgeous we were ..we thought we were fat and ugly then..if only we could go back and tell that girl how amazing and beautiful she was. I say tell that girl who is a woman now that she is still gorgeous..that every line is earned and holds 100 happy memories, that every stretch mark is a souvenir of a life we brought into this world, a little extra weight reflects good times..let’s stop criticizing ourselves ..let’s start loving ourselves. This is not to say let yourself go..no what I am saying is for every insecurity you have the world is not judging you nearly as harshly as you judge yourself. SO wear the bathing suit, go to the beach..laugh with your friends, shed the make up, share some dessert..smile in your pictures ..don;t worry if you missed your hair appointment and the gray shows..you are so beautiful my friends

Mother’s Day for this motherless daughter

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Mother’s Day is one of those days I want to brush off as simply a “Hallmark Card Holiday” but deep down I know it is more than that. I have such a (for lack of a better word) interesting relationship with this so called holiday that most years I simply I do not know how to process it all.  I find myself incredibly envious of those who have that mother/daughter relationship I never had the opportunity to develop and at the same time I am equally ambivalent and at a loss on this day dedicated to all that mom means to us.

My own mother died in the Summer of 1986 and this particular Mother’s day marks 30 years since I have had a mother..in some odd way I feel like a fraud because I had no business becoming a mother when I had very limited experience with being mothered let alone being a mom. I see so many posts today by people who love and genuinely miss their mothers..I honestly miss the thought of my mother more than I miss my actual mother. There I admitted it finally ..and I can’t say it feels good to get that off my chest but it does feel genuine.

Madeline got sick when I was 16 years old, our relationship was never one I would define as close. I think our distance is  because she built a wall between us very early on probably based on her own experiences with her mother (whom I never met) and some of the choices my mother made that resulted in my arrival. I often wonder if she lived, if things progressed beyond the angst of my teenaged years if things would be different, if I would feel different ..if I would feel a great loss for the person who was my mother? Unfortunately for me,  I will never have an answer to those questions only what ifs.  I am aware that loss and the what ifs that tag along are the ghosts that haunt my own motherhood. How I wish I had a picture that I could post and a true sentiment of missing my mother to share with the world..all I have is regret and a longing for what should have been. I know deep down inside every time my mother looked at me she saw her own bitterness and heartbreak reflecting back at her. My mother’s pain manifested in me through no fault of mine other than I existed.

I am blessed in my adult life with amazing human beings who call me mom. I fret and I worry every single day if they are happy, if they are living lives that bring them joy and satisfaction if they know just how genuinely loved they really are by me. I pray I did the right things by them..I know I messed up often but I relied upon life experiences with other women to be my northern star guiding me upon the motherhood journey. All I ever wanted was to be here for these beautiful souls who were sent my way to walk this path in life together.

Still there are days I long to be mothered. There are days I ache inside to know I was wanted and loved by the woman who gave me life..my mother. There are days I long to hear my mother say I am doing ok, that my babies..her grandchildren are going to be ok. I long to create a post with a picture and put it on Facebook to let the world know that I am part of a tribe of strong and loving women ..a branch on my mother’s strongly rooted tree…but I realize I have to be my own tree.

 

I can’t make this up

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I have been fretting about writing this post for a few days. The details are haunting me ..but actually putting the words out there almost feels like a betrayal of something that I can not put words to (oddly enough). The most appropriate way of explaining this is this post comes from the files of stuff I can’t make up..even if I tried the family edition. So if you are playing the home game..my family is “special” ..and knowing that explains a lot about me.

In this age of social media ..the etiquette rules of Emily Post are out the window..news is shared in the blink of an eye and put out for the world to see even if the people affected most are not ready for that news to be shared. It is rather difficult finding out a loved one is hurt or has passed away via a Facebook post or a tweet..I found out there was a death in the family on my mother’s side. Well let me clarify..my first cousin’s husband passed away rather suddenly and other than reading on facebook I would have been none the wiser.

I was raised a good Catholic girl in an inner city neighborhood in Boston ..we go to wakes, we go to funerals..we show respect not only to those in our family and close friend circle who have passed away but we also go to support our family no matter how we may feel about them. Family is family is how I was raised and how I hope I raised my children as well. Against my better judgement I looked up the obituary online ..bought a new pair of black pants and bribed my daughter with dinner out at Tasty Burger if she went with me ..reluctantly she agreed (great way to spend night #1 of her Easter Break…not)

When we finally got to our destination after sitting in traffic for more than an hour..we both decided we would try to get in and get out as quickly as possible..it was already 7PM and the wake was 4-8 so long term visiting was not an option. Saw a relative I really like right outside..said hello and reintroduced my daughter (have I mentioned that other than Facebook I do not interact much with these people? It is a LONG story) walked inside..got in line to pay respects..saw a few more relatives and said hello and again reintroduced my daughter..and there SHE was.

That SHE is my Aunt M (all of my aunt’s names except for 1 and my mother’s name begin/began with M), she is 87, the oldest sister and the only surviving sibling of the 6 in her family. My aunt was sitting there holding court and my daughter and I deviating from the line to say hello to her. I know better than to get into too deep of a conversation with anyone related to my mother..my motto with them is keep it superficial, keep the kid close to me and usually I can deflect the comments …well I was wrong this time..oh how I miscalculated this one.

Yes I started with small talk like telling M how good she looks ..and yes for 87 the bitch looks amazing, barely a wrinkle on her face. I have decided that her skin is so good because she feasts on the souls of the young children in our family that she sucks out and keeps in a jar in her bathroom..I ‘m not joking about this. She goes one to tell me she knows I did the Ancestry DNA test and I say yes and sadly thinking this is a safe topic say how shocked I am by what I managed to discover about the maternal side of my family (her side too) she goes on about how the DNA is wrong and that her mother/my grandmother was pretty close to full blooded Native American and born in Arizona and then brought to Eastern Canada..ah no. I said that is interesting because I had the MtDNA test done that traces your maternal ancestors back to EVE..we are Acadians with a Strong Irish background and a trace amount of Native Blood that is M’qMaq native to eastern Canada..apparently DNA lies or so M says. I also tell her how I confirmed my paternity and she was having none of that ..told me I have 3 siblings..I have 1, a half sister via my father. So seeing this conversation is going to turn ugly rather fast I switch the subject and that’s when M struck with lightning speed…

For those of you who are not familiar..I have been sick for the past 3+ years with the effects of Lupus ..mine has been pericarditis, pericardial effusions, pleurisy and pleural effusions. Have been on and off prednisone the past 6 months..but I am on the mend (again not a pity me post) M looks at me and says what happened to you? I said excuse me? She said I saw you 2 years ago at M’s funeral (my other aunt M) and you had lost so much weight and looked good..looks like you gained most of it back and got fat again. WHAT THE ACTUAL? I look at her and said 2 years ago I was very very sick..she says maybe you should get sick again it was great for your waist line. My daughter is sitting next to M trying to pick her jaw up off the floor..but wait it gets better…maybe better is not the right choice of words here…the story takes another sick turn..

Aunt M looks at my daughter and says ..my word M (yes I had a child whose name begins with M as well) you look just like my sister Madeline (my mother) I hated my sister Madeline. Aunt M goes on to say ..Madeline was one ugly child ..did not get much better looking as she got older..looks at my daughter and says well at least you are a little better looking than your grandmother. She says your mother posts pictures of you on Facebook from your Irish step dancing ..the make up and the dresses look good on you I have your pictures all over my wall..you should wear make up more often…if you could see the look on my child’s face at that moment your heart would break.

If that is not tipping the scales of insanity ..my aunt M then goes on to say as I walked away briefly to give my condolences to my cousin who was the widow..you know your mother never liked her mother ..your mother was ashamed of Madeline because Madeline was poor. Your mother was always about money, that is why she always wanted to be with her aunt H (my grandmother got off the M track to have a child whose name began with H..but got back to her regularly scheduled Ms when my mother was born) Your Aunt H had money and spoiled your mother. Your mother thought she was better than all of us ..that is why she went to that high school in Brighton..that is why she does not associate with us ..we don;t have any money. She continued insulting the way I look..where I live..all of my choices that she knows of in my life to my poor child (she is not a child but still my baby)My daughter is sitting there trying to get away and she finally texted me “SAVE ME” which prompted me to walk over and say are you ready. I managed to be respectful enough to say my goodbyes, to give my condolences and get out the door with no fake promises of we will get together soon ..just a take care.

We get to the parking lot ..and as we drive away my poor daughter says I NEVER want to see those people again. I said what happened ..she conveys what aunt M has said to her and looks at me and says basically mom she told me I am a less ugly version of my grandmother especially when I wear make up and and am dancing at a competition ..and you are a fat, ugly gold digger ..that lady is a (and she went there and used the dirty C word that I refuse to say and could not reprimand her for using because if the title fits…..) It was a good thing we were already on our way to the bridge to get to Tasty burger..it was a good thing by the time I turned around it would have been too late to say anything…it is a good thing I was raised by my aunt H to be a respectful Catholic girl from Dot..most 87year olds are cute…many have totally mellowed out …my aunt M is the witch from Hansel and Gretel what looks good in the outside harbors a nasty secret on the inside. Note to self..the next time there is a family wake I need to be out of town …I wish I could say i punked you all with this but sadly I did not.. unfortunately it is all true and I sucked my poor kiddo down the rabbit hole with me…the only thing is she totally gets why I keep my distance from those people