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

Thoughts on National Sibling Day(needs editing)

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All over my Facebook I am seeing posts for National Sibling Day. Ah National Sibling Day, what can  say about it? Well I can say a lot and the one thing I say is damn it I am unbelievably jealous of all of you.I look at your posts and wonder what it would be like on one hand..and know what it is like on the other hand. I was raised with my cousin John like we were siblings ..and he well he was a big brother in so many ways, right down to being a massive pain in the backside. However he was not my brother and we have not had much contact in the years since both of our mothers passed. I have my cousin Karen who is John’s big sister and with whom I was raised as well but she was a bit older than both of us and let’s be real here..John and I were not the easiest pair of shoes to break in and Karen had better things to do than deal with the likes of us. Still she was good to us and took us to movies and to play mini golf and bossed around like only Karen can. Thankfully we are reconnected..family is everything and I realize I loved her dearly when I was little..and I love her dearly now.

As for this sibling day business…This is the day  that usually I like to be snarky and post something from National Only Child Day about how we only children are bright and so perfect our parents decided why tempt fate when you’ve got a good thing going. Well …while it may be true that those of us raised as only children are actually amazing..for me there is a lot of reading between the lines..and my mother really did not need to have any more children.

Truth is….I am not exactly an only child even though I was raised as such. I am my mother’s only child, that is true . My father kind of sorta was married to someone other than my mother when I came to be so I also have a half sibling (a side note here..I don’t believe in half or whole..family is family is family in my eyes) a sister to be exact, she is 8 years older than I am and she is my father’s daughter. My sister’s name is Kate and she too was raised as an only child. I used to wonder if Kate knew that I exist and one day I took a chance and began looking for her and my father..the answer is if she did not know before..she knew at last. Neither Kate nor my father ever reached out to me and I spent the next 20+ years doing all the things I did like raising my family and in the process becoming a rabid Irish Dance Mom (another story for another year) But then things happened..my kids grew up and did not need me quite so much and worse I got sick (this is not a pity post) and suddenly everything in my life that was go go go became slow slow slow. So I wanted to find out what Ancestry could do for me…

Well through Ancestry I discovered ..I am 68% Irish and British with Iberian and Scandinavian as well…basically I am a Black Irish Viking ..kind of badass if you ask me but badass is not the first word one thinks of when they think of me (If I am being honest here) I also found my father’s college yearbook and loads of information about his family like my grandparents names and my great grandparents names and where it is they come from..really amazing stuff for someone stuck at home on bedrest and in the middle of a pity party to discover. So I decided to take this a step further..I found a cousin via ancestry and then I found said cousin on Facebook and I reached out ..he responded but not as well as I hoped. This cousin was rather shocked to discover I am a relative and said he would talk to my sister and get back to me..yeah that did not happen.

I discovered in the meantime that my newfound cousin’s sister (also my cousin) is friends with my neighbor down the street and that they used to work together when my cousin was one of the managers at the supermarket I shop at in my town (she no longer is at my local store) I also discovered she is at least Facebook friends with one of the Walpole dance moms whose daughter attends the same middle/high school as my daughter..small world isn’t it..gets a little smaller too. My sister has a child who attended an agricultural high school that is regional ..the same school the neighbor’s child attends now. My sister and I walk the perimeters of the same circles even if by association.

Thanks to Ancestry DNA I was able to prove my paternity..a task made completely possible when Karen’s son also tested along with another first cousin. I was able to see I am matched rather strongly with my grandfather and great grandmother’s family the Bombards of upstate NY as well as discovered I have Duffy family members and King and Conneely from the Connemara Region of Galway ..I have a strong DNA match with people who are related to my father’s paternal side of his family..I have a whole new world opened up..but I still do not have my father or my sister. My father passed away in 2010 and I am going to guess from Alzheimer’s or something like it based on the obituary I found..my sister it seems (according to my cousin via facebook) is “Not interested in having anything to do” with me. Door shut..message received stay in your lane girl.

447 Days Looming

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I have a birthday looming on the horizon.  Between you and me…I am really praying it is a  better day than last year when I was plagued with a nasty attack of vertigo which necessitated an ambulance ride to the ER, a CT scan of my brain and a cocktail of drugs that left me for lack of a better word wasted. I mean let’s be serious that episode not only took being “wasted” on your birthday to a whole different level but it also meant no birthday cake..let’s not get me started on the depths of that tragedy (shudders just thinking about it..) However..vertigo and lack of birthday cake are not what this post is about..

I am turning 48 in 21 days. 48 ..the same age my mother was in 1986 when her cancer diagnosis turned the world upside down. In 1986 I was 16 and 48 looked like a million miles away  ..today 48 is merely a breath away and I am quite frankly terrified.

My mother was never really one to take care of herself, she smoked like a chimney, ate very little in the way of healthy/nutritious food, barely went to the doctor or the dentist (if you saw her teeth you would know what I mean) and pretty much existed on unsweetened tea or coffee , the occasional sugar raised doughnut and the infrequent meal out courtesy of one of her sisters (IHOP was a favorite). I have inherited her disdain for seeing the doctor and the dentist, however I drag my backside for cleanings every 6 months and for dental work when need be..the doctor I do not have much of choice to avoid..but let me tell you just like my mother I will ignore whatever is going on with me until I can’t let it go any longer. I am a prime example.. some apples do not fall far from their trees. Thankfully I have never smoked..not that I did not try to be like some of my neighborhood friends or the girls on the bus to school ..I just never liked anything to do with it and that has turned out to be in my favor. I often remind myself..I am not my mother..but then I am reminded while that may be true..she lives inside me, we are forever connected.

31 years is a long time to be without one’s mother. I realized how profound the impact of my mother’s loss was to me  when I had my first child and was alone thinking how am I ever going to do this? How can I be a mother when I don’t have one to show me the way? Worse still…my mother got sick and died during that awful time of my adolescent angst. Still in that I know it all, you are too old and too out of touch to know anything phase..too stupid to realize she could leave at any moment ..too self absorbed and ego centric to acknowledge  I was scared about what was happening and  honestly no one cared. I did not think in those days that I needed her or any of her baggage, I saw someone through the lens of a child who failed on many levels ..She died before I got to know her. My adult self has this fantasy inhabiting my imagination that given the chance I would rewind the clock and spend a day with my mother and get to know her, find out what brought her joy..discover why she felt so much pain. I know that would never happen because I am her daughter and opening up is not easy for me and was not easy for her. More likely than not..a well planned out conversation in my head would come out all wrong when it took place and she would tell me like she often did that the answers to my questions were none of my business. Such was the nature of our relationship.

I want to say  I am sad that my mother is gone ..however  I am back in the point of the grief cycle where I am angry at her for leaving me.  I admit my anger is  purely selfish ..she left me before I got to know her. My mother left before I got to know me ..and whether I  like it or not she is part of the reason I am this person I have grown into and I needed her for longer than the time I had. I am looking for answers… I search into her eyes in the 2 pictures I have of her looking for a bit of myself to reflect back and I can not see it. I am searching for a connection,  I am searching for closure, I am searching for her to tell me it is all going to be ok.

My mother died on July 15 1986. From the time she was diagnosed with end stage lung cancer in April 1986 until the day she died  about 90 odd days passed. During those days we lost our home and had to move in with family, she started aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy..she celebrated a birthday on May 17, her hair fell out, tensions were high with the family..despite having lung cancer and being treated with poisonous drugs she still could not put down the cigarettes..This is what I remember. I cannot remember what she looked like or what her voice sounded like, I don’t remember the good conversations..I have lost it all and I want it back.  My mother was 49 years, 1 month and 28 days old when she passed away..I have this bargain with myself that I must live to see 49 years,1 month and 29 days. I have 447 days from today to reach my morbid goal.

There is a book called Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman that I read many years ago when I was in my late 20s/early 30s and it talked about how anniversaries and becoming the age at which your mother left be it by death or by choice (in some cases leaving is not a choice) is profound and will affect you in ways you can not imagine. I will be honest ..my thoughts then were ..yeah right. Flash forward 20 years…I am 21 days..3 weeks to be exact before my 48th birthday and this is what dawned on me…I have never imagined myself growing old. I have never seen myself beyond where my mother left. I am stuck in this terrifying limbo of will I make it to June 11, 2018. The book sits on my book shelf calling my name to read it again ..and I know I need to but just not now ..maybe after my birthday or maybe after June 11 of next year or who knows when..but I know I need to read this book again. This is affecting me in ways I did not imagine.

I see the next 447 days as a journey towards a symbolic ending…an ending of what I have known and held on to. I am moving towards  what I am fearing most which is dying before I get the chance to live. Dying before my children are ready to lose me or worse dying before I finally get some peace with my mother. I have spent the past 30 years trying to cram every experience possible into my life..to do it sooner before it is gone..I got married very young… I had my babies young, I went places and made sure I could say I owned a home, I went to college, I saw my children graduate from high school (an experience my mother missed out on), I drive a car ..all those things my mother never did. Along the way somehow I lost the joy in all that I have and that I have achieved in this life because I was trying to check off the list and get it done and prove to myself I am not my mother. I have 447 days and I pray that I make it. Like my mother I got a diagnosis in March ..mine was March of 2014 ..I was 44 years old at the time..mine was initially pericarditis, I have learned since it is still pericarditis but the cause is not a virus but rather SLE or as we all call it Lupus. My diagnosis came in march of my daughter’s junior year…my mother was diagnosed in my junior year ..totally a coincidence but I have to admit it scared and still scares me..

So my birthday is 21 days from now. I declare  there will be no vertigo (I hope) and there damn well better be a cake ..either a chocolate cake with white frosting or a lovely white cake with strawberries and cream in the center and whipped cream frosting ..447 days from now there will be champagne and a celebration of life and the world will turn right side up.

I need to add that yes I had to edit a few things here..I suffer from terrible bouts of insomnia ..thinking straight at 1:30 AM is not always possible..but let’s get real ..thinking straight is not one of my stronger traits …I have hopefully cleaned up this post and gotten my math straight ..and I checked the birthday is still 21 days away (as of this writing)

When Hello also means saying Goodbye

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A few minutes ago my head was filled with the words intended for this post. As I am sitting here, I have discovered actually translating from thought to action has proven to be a monumental failure to say the least. I tasked myself with trying to formulate the perfect words to honor my daughter who many years ago on this day we brought into the world only to say hello and goodbye way too soon.  To my utter despair, I can’t seem to capture with words all the feelings and emotions swelling inside. Please someone tell me just how one honors a moment in time that cannot be defined by words alone.

I fear some years that I forget the important details..the times we heard a heartbeat, the times the doctor said everything looked  great..but there was always a feeling of  fear lurking in me. I knew something was wrong, it was a feeling in my bones, the feeling haunted me and yet I blew it off. I heard a heartbeat, I saw her growing, ..the doctor told me everything was great what could go wrong? In my head I kept thinking I am young, I have done this before, it is just the hormones messing with my emotions. The words I never expected to hear haunt me to this day..There is no life. Those words ..those 4 words changed everything ..those four words changed me. I had baby clothes in the drawer..I felt the baby move …I was filled with life ..only to hear ..there is no life. Suddenly I was no longer filled with life and hope and left with heaviness of crippling grief. Mothers should not have to bury their babies. I cannot describe the despair I felt knowing my delivery would mean my baby would no longer be a part of me..that once she was outside of me, that was really the end. Labor was induced, it was relatively short and it was lonely. My child’s birth was traumatic and happened in the elevator on a gurney as I was transported from my room on the high risk maternity floor to labor and delivery. My daughter came into the world in the same hospital that saw me arrive 20 odd years before her another reminder that we are connected even though she is no longer here.

We  (my husband and I ) decided to honor our daughter and give her the name we intended for her..Molly Clare. Our daughter named after my husband’s grandmother Mary Claire  who was a beautiful woman in every way you can imagine. I like to imagine Molly has her great grandmother’s spirit and had she lived she would have lived up to her namesake. I like to imagine she looks like her beautiful sisters. I like to imagine she is kind, smart and sassy just like her sisters ..I like to imagine so much about her on the day she came into the world. I know  I see her forever as a baby, my imagery is frozen in a moment so very long ago. I know that a tiny set of footprints and a headstone are all I have that prove she was here for even just a moment.

The days leading up to today have been filled with angst and grief..tears do not come easy but this morning they are spilling out. I find some years this day passes not exactly with ease but with quiet reflection and other years (unfortunately this is one of those years) I miss my child and ache with the feeling of loss deep down in my heart and soul. Tomorrow will be better..it always is ..but for today I will remember my daughter and hope one day, one year I will find the right words ..but for now my sweet Molly Clare wherever you are..I hope you know just how very much I miss you and pray your grandmothers keep you safe until we are together again.