Friday, October 31, 2008
An open letter to my friend, the alcoholic:
I love you, I really do, but your disease casts a wide reaching net that has pulled me under and practically drowned me in recent months. I keep thinking you’ll hit rock bottom and make a change, but that hasn’t happened despite everything you’ve lost this year. After months of butting my head against the wall and picking up the pieces each time you fall, I have finally learned that I can’t “fix” you. Only you can fix you. However, I can fix myself, and I need fixing. After your most recent brush with disaster, I have hit my “rock bottom”. You see, I realize this disease makes the non-addicted sick, too. And I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have not chosen recovery, but I have. My recovery starts today.
I will stop driving by your house every day, wondering what condition you’re in. Little clues like whether your lights are on just fuel my overactive imagination. Sitting at home at night, wondering if this is the day it gets the best of you is making me physically ill, and I have to find a way to stop that. I have to stop making myself a hostage to my worries. I can’t let this disease consume me, too. I will not clean up any more of your messes. You must face the consequences of whatever problems you create with your drinking, or you will never have a chance to get well. Conversely, you can truly own your victories, too.
I have found a support group full of wonderful people who will help me to put some control back into my life. I’m hoping they can help me find some peace and help me to let go of this anger I’m feeling toward you right now. I didn’t ask for this disease. I never wanted it, and yet I’m suffering from it. Is this how someone feels when they find out they’ve caught AIDS from a lover they trusted? Betrayed in a life changing way? You know, I realized yesterday that sometime in the last few weeks I unknowingly accepted your alcoholism as a terminal illness, a disease that’s in its last stages. I was driving down the road, heard a song on the radio and thought that it would be appropriate for your funeral. That thought horrified me, and I almost had to pull over to the side of the road. I wept for the second time that day.
In recent weeks I’ve struggled with my running. Inexplicably I lost my endurance and my breath and then it occurred to me that I was dragging my heart around and yours too on those solitary runs, replaying the hurt over and over in my mind, mile after mile. It was wearing me out. Today I ran and forced myself to think about other things. I felt stronger than I had in a long time.
You and I have been friends for years. I don’t want that to end, but I can’t witness the destruction from the front row anymore. I have to step back. I will still love you, and I will only be an arm’s length away, but I will be focused on my recovery. That probably sounds mean and selfish to people who have never been in my shoes, but those who have been will understand completely.
We’ve taken vacations together and talked a lot over the years about the other places we’d like to travel to together some day. We’re at a crossroads in our friendship right now, and we may be headed in different directions. I know which path I’m taking, and I wish you would travel down the same road. Let this be our next journey together, without the margaritas this time. If not, I will grieve for you, but I will stick to my path. I love you deeply my friend, and that love will not end. My support for you will not end, but MY journey begins today.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The year he was born Hitler seized control of the German army, invaded Austria and set up a death camp. Franklin Roosevelt was still president, and the minimum wage was 40 cents an hour. Polio was still a threat, and the March of Dimes formed to fight it. Several important things were developed and patented that year, including chlorophyll, Teflon and something DuPont called “nylon”. The first Xerox machine was demonstrated, too. Jim Crow laws were alive and well in the south, but Philadelphia approved the first black woman legislator. And the U.S. finally forbade child labor in factories. While plenty of folks in this region were making and running moonshine, the first breathalyzer was introduced in Indiana. 1938 was the year Seabiscuit beat War Admiral at Pimlico, Orson Welles scared the daylights out of everyone with his broadcast of War of the Worlds, and the Baseball Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown, New York. I doubt daddy’s seven brothers and sisters noticed since they were too busy trying to scratch out a life on the farm. Times were still tough for a lot of folks then. Funny how some things don’t change, even though it seems they do. We’re still fighting wars, the economy has folks in a squeeze and America still loves a scary story and baseball. We’re still battling diseases and drunken driving. But folks are making more money, we can communicate with people halfway around the world with the click of a few keyboard keys and no matter how you vote for president next week, the tickets will include a woman or a black man.
I wonder if daddy ever thinks about this, and I wonder what changes are in store for the rest of my years. Will they be as exciting or much scarier? Is the best yet to come or will our rush for progress overwhelm us? This economy has folks worried, including me, but I do take comfort in the fact that in the last seventy years we have weathered some terrible times in history and come out okay. Seventy years. Wow. It seems so big and yet so small when I consider than I’m more than halfway there.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Teen Angel is trick or treating for UNICEF Friday and going to a Halloween party afterward, so we went to find a costume. Before we ever entered the store, I gave her the speech to not even go near the trashy stuff. That I had no intention of buying anything that left her participles dangling. The problem was that didn’t leave much to choose from. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING for females over the age of twelve looked like something you’d wear to a party at the Playboy mansion. Even the most innocent of characters had been turned into something sexual. Characters whose authors would probably roll over in their graves if they could see these interpretations. There was Little Bo Peep.
I doubt Lewis Carroll had this in mind when he envisioned the Queen of Hearts. And did the folks at Rainbow Bright actually approve this version of their Saturday morning kids’ character? Surely not.
And I've never seen this in the bible.
Look, I’m no prude. I did the Rocky Horror thing in my time, but honestly my skirt came to my knees, and I wore a blouse. There are plenty of consenting adults who will wear these costumes to parties this year for some naughty fun, and that’s fine. But what bothered me most was there were practically no costumes that weren’t some form of lingerie, and that store was full of girls who appeared to be 17, 18 and 19 years old, buying these costumes for frat parties and other get-togethers that involved drinking. As I waited for a dressing room with a frustrated Teen Angel I listened to these girls and their chatter. They obviously gave no thought to the message they would be sending to everyone who saw them in those costumes or the situation they might be putting themselves in by throwing drunkenness into the mix. My mama always said if you want a man to treat you like a lady, you should act like one. Call me old fashioned, but I think she was right. Who would have thought that the scariest costumes this year had nothing to do with blood or gore?
Monday, October 27, 2008
"Hi," she softly replied. She glanced up. Our eyes met again, and I refused to let go of her gaze.
"Rough day?," I asked.
"Yeah. Rough coupla' weeks."
"I'm sorry." I didn't want to pry, so I wasn't going to ask any more questions, but my few words were enough to open a door she was eager to walk through. She needed to talk so badly, she was willing to share with a stranger.
"It's my husband," she offered. "His depression's been really bad the last coupla' weeks, and he..he...you know....".
"I'm so sorry. I know that's tough."
The tears started to leak in a slow drip from the inside of her right eye. She tried to hold them back, but couldn't.
"He's been here since Thursday, and he should get to go home tomorrow, but they told me today I need to remove the guns from the home. I..I..I just can't believe we're to this point. I can't believe we're here," her voice trailed. She didn't look away. She wanted answers. Answers that I didn't have.
"I understand. Really, I do. I know how hard it is, and I hope it gets better for him and you. You're not alone, you know. Lots of other folks are going through the same thing, so don't think you're alone."
"Thank you," she whispered. And then she wiped her eyes and reached for the opening door. It was time for visiting hours. I watched her walk through the door and stood glued to the same spot on the floor, staring at the door until my husband tapped me on the shoulder. "Let's go," he said.
I had wanted to tell her it would be better in a few days. That everything would eventually be okay. That this was just a bump in the road that they would weather together. And it may be. But it may not. You see, I really DO know what she's going through. I have someone I care very much about who has struggled with depression, and I know how debilitating it can be. How overwhelming it can be. How it can overtake a person and destroy them. I know what it's like to worry that today's the day this person will give up, that hope is out of their reach and unattainable. And I know that there are many people out there without hope.
We often try to hide our troubles, sometimes out of embarrassment, often out of pain. So many folks are walking around with problems we don't even know about. Things we don't find out about until it's too late to help. I don't have the answers, but I know they're not alone. And if you love one of those folks, you are not alone. Take comfort my friend, you are not alone.
The stranger at the hospital....I hope she's okay. She had me at hello, and now I can't let her go.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
As a kid, Halloween was a blast, but I can't think of a single Halloween that was better than the rest. In elementary school we had a costume contest every year, and I remember dressing as everything from a clown to Dolly Parton. Back then no one bought a costume. Everyone made their own out of stuff they had around the house or crafted out of paper mache. I usually started thinking about my costume around the first of October, digging around in dress up boxes and mom and dad's old clothes. Long before October 31st I had my outfit crafted and ready to go. We lived in the country and had no close neighbors, so we had to drive fifteen minutes into town to trick-or-treat. I have vivid memories of racing through crunchy leaves in the cool night air trying to beat my brothers or my friends to the porch to ring the doorbell. Back then, you could roam all over neighborhoods, going to homes you weren't familiar with and never really worrying about someone trying to hurt you. It was a great time, but I honestly have to say that I never enjoyed Halloween more than when Teen Angel was little. Hubby and I have had a ball over the years helping her to dress up and trick or treat. She's big on costumes, too. She was a "debbel" the first year.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Etymology: Middle English
Date: 13th century
1 a: slow or deficient in feeling : insensitive b: obtuse in understanding or discernment : dull 2: having an edge or point that is not sharp 3a: abrupt in speech or manner b: being straight to the point
Example: Hubby saying to me after we exit the grocery store, "That girl that checked us out, she sure is sweet. I just wish she could get some dental work and replace those three teeth that are missing."
Ah, the joys of living with someone who almost always says out loud what he's thinking.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It all started the other night when Hubby and I were packing some clothing for a family member who was in the hospital. He picked up a purse belonging to said family member, wrinkled his nose and asked, “Would you carry THIS?” I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Not even if I was old.” And since “old” isn’t as far off as it used to be I added, “Hey, when we get old, if I ever leave the house in something ridiculous, I want you to tell me.” His reply? A noncommittal “Mmm.”
“Mmm? What’s that mean? You will tell me, won’t you?”
“Um, probably not.”
“Because I won’t want to hurt your feelings.”
“You mean you won’t want to cross me when I’m old and cranky.”
“Well, that too.”
I went back to shuffling through underwear, when it hit me. What if I leave the house NOW in bad outfits? Surely not. Or could I already be in the Bjork zone and not know it? I didn’t want to ask, but I had to ask, and after a few seconds I worked up the nerve.
“Hey, I don’t wear anything stupid now, do I?”
“Hmm. I don’t think so.”
“You don’t THINK so? What does that mean? Either I do or I don’t. I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard to appear young, but I don’t want to dress like my grandma either.”
“No, I think you’re fine. I can’t think of anything goofy you’ve worn, except that parrothead stuff you wear to parties.”
Whew. “Okay, that doesn’t count, but I really want to know if I wear something out of bounds.”
So, you see, I didn’t get a firm commitment, so I’m looking to my friends for a little help. If at any time I put something like this on my feet, I want you to steal my shoes and throw them away.
Same goes for the holiday sweatshirt
With dangly Christmas earrings.
And don’t let me wear the polyester pants with an elastic waistband if I am fully capable of buttoning my pants and have full control of my bladder.
For the love of Moses, don’t let me carry this.
And if you ever see me out in public with a bingo bag, call 911 and have me locked up because I deserve to go to jail.
You will tell me, won’t you? And do you think I should go ahead and bring that high waisted pants thing to Hubby’s attention? Or just continue to go mmmm when he asks if those brown pants fit okay?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
1. The number of times I have personally vacuumed or mopped my floors in the last three years would fit on one hand. Hand to God, I do not know where the on/off button is on our vacuum cleaner. Our house isn’t dirty, mind you. It’s just that I have very little to do with the actually cleaning of it, and that’s because (a) I suck at it. Even when I try really hard, I don’t do a good job and (b) there is a lovely lady who comes to my home on Fridays and takes care of this for me. We are not wealthy, but good housecleaning is one of those things I’m willing to pay for, even if I have to eat macaroni and cheese every night to afford this privilege. It gives me more time with my family. Keep in mind, I do plenty of household chores, just not the sweeping, dusting and cleaning the stove and toilet kind. If you need someone to bake you an orange soufflé with cream sauce, I’m your girl. Just don’t ask me to do the dishes.
Okay, there you have it. I’m supposed to tag 7 other people, but I’m not good at tagging, so consider yourself it if you’d like to play along. If not, that’s okay, too.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
There are many chores associated with taking care of my in-laws that are surprising but none as humbling as…gulp…the toenails. When folks get old, they often lose the flexibility needed to bend over and clip their toenails. I’d swear those nails grow faster, the older you get, too. You can ignore them all you want, but they don’t go away. It has to be done. It’s basic hygiene. Besides, Papa T.’s feet look like cloven hooves if you let them go longer than a few weeks. They definitely fall somewhere in between “ewww” and “Get the shotgun ma, it’s a bear!”
The first time Mama J. asked us to trim her toenails; we thought it was just a fluke. Dutifully, Hubby did it and forgot about it. Or maybe, he suppressed the memory of it because he couldn’t really handle it. You know, like a one night stand. Oh my God-what have I done-that was ugly-what was I thinking-I’ll never do that again. Well, a few nights later she asked if he would trim Papa T.’s toenails. Reluctantly, Hubby trudged next door, sacrificed his dignity and clipped his daddy’s hooves. “I’m never doing that again,” he declared when he returned. “That’s just too much.” Still, we thought it was a one time deal. Several weeks passed, and we were lulled into a false sense of security until the call came again. Hubby hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “It’s your turn. You do it this time.”
“Oh, no big boy. They’re your parents. I promised to love, honor and cherish, but I did not promise to clip my in-law’s stinky feet,” I said. I loaded up the guilt gun and fired off the reminder that rarely do I turn down his requests, and by the way, I had cooked a roast AND a chocolate cake that day. He gave in and walked next door with his head hung low….like a prisoner walking the Green Mile.
Eventually, it became a game of cat and mouse, Mama J. hinting that it was about that time again, and us refusing to pick up the phone when it rang, lest it was the dreaded foot call. Then, as often happens, the good Lord dropped a blessing on us out of the blue and answered our desperate prayers. Our know-it-all neighbor, Marie, announced that Medicare pays for regular toenail trimmings and foot checks for senior citizens. It was like manna from heaven. We made Mama J. and Papa T. concurrent appointments at the foot doctor and let HIM cut those suckers. To say there was no embarrassment about the visit would be a lie because the whole waiting room could hear the big sander the doctor had to fire up to tackle the senior Hula feet, but ten minutes and few giggles later, Mama J. and Papa T. emerged, pleased as punch with the service and the fact that the drive home would take them right by Cracker Barrel. I swear we could hear violins and angels singing when they emerged. Everybody was happy with the new arrangements.
Now, if only we can find an equally pleasing solution for that constipation problem they brought up this past week. Seriously, is it just us?
Monday, October 20, 2008
Yikes! I look a whole lot like my mother there.
How about 1964, the year I was actually born? This one makes me look like my Aunt Margaret. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I think. I kind of like 1968. I was four years old then, visiting the beauty shop once a week with my mom and eating Hostess fruit pies and drinking Dr. Pepper while I waited for her to get her hair backcombed and teased. Ah, good times. Good times.
1974 isn’t too bad. I think I actually had this hairdo in 1974, even though I was only ten years old. Come to think of it, I have this hairdo now. Hmm.
Ah, the eighties, a great time for hair. Big hair. Really big hair.
1984. Who DIDN’T have a perm back then? Anyone? That’s what I thought. Everyone had a perm and a pick and they knew how to use them.
Skip forward to 1990..still big hair. By the way, is anyone besides me missing stirrup pants? No? Never mind. Let's just move on to 1994 then. My hair actually looked pretty similar to this at one time, as well.
Now, it wouldn't be fair to show you all of these without posting my real senior yearbook picture. (Don't even ask for the freshman picture. I'm not going there.) Here you go. Get ready to smile. Oh, feathered bangs and peter pan collars, how I loved you so!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
How can this picture make me feel so warm and fuzzy..and so nervous all at the same time?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I can’t do it. I look at him and strains of Louie Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World go rolling through my head. I start thinking about the years that lie head for him and the milestones he’ll pass in just the first few years. And I wonder what he’ll be when he grows up. Oh, the places he will go, and he doesn’t even know it yet. His trip into the world was an adventure in itself.
Because the doctor suspected he was going to be a big baby, Mrs. Scrubs was scheduled for inducement. She arrived at the hospital Monday night for the preliminaries and was knee deep in the process by yesterday morning. The only problem was that someone forgot to tell Special D. he needed to move. The little stinker didn’t want to budge. Have I mentioned stubbornness runs in our family? Apparently, he takes after our side. He wedged himself in tight and hunkered down for a full day of pressure and coaxing. After hours of pitosin and two epidurals, Mrs. Scrubs was worn down, Special D. still wasn’t positioned right, and the doctor finally decided to do a c-section. Around 8:35pm he sprang into the world, kicking and screaming. Boy was he peeved! He was NOT happy to be out of that little hot tub he’d been floating around in the last nine months. No doubt about it, his lungs were fine. Of course, he was probably scared to see that big welcoming party that was waiting for him at the nursery window. Tell me we didn’t look as anxious as I think we did. Heh, I thought so. We didn’t even try to act cool about it. There were more camera flashes than a Paris Hilton movie premiere, and we resorted to taking desperate fuzzy pictures through a side door window until they put him in full view. But when he was finally scrubbed and measured and suctioned we got a good look at all eight pounds, eight ounces of him. He looks huge, like he should already have teeth.
Look at that hair. Don’t you just want to rub his head?And those pudgy like cheeks. Oh, those cheeks! And those feet. Lordy, he’s got some big feet. I love how Super Cop couldn’t take his eyes off of him. As I watched everything unfold, I kept thinking about those first few hours of being a parent and how overwhelming it is. How full your heart feels, and how you instantly fall in love with that little person who instinctively clings to you. How scared you are that you are responsible for turning this new life into a decent, productive citizen and how ill equipped you feel at doing that. There’s nothing like a newborn baby to make you feel stupid. Most of all I kept thinking about how Super Cop’s and Mrs. Scrubs’ lives have changed forever in ways they are only beginning to understand. They say a baby changes everything, and that is certainly true.
The Hula-gen’s are thrilled with this special delivery and can’t wait to get our hands on him this evening. We left the hospital last night around 10:30, before Mrs. Scrubs was ready for visitors because I had to get up at 5:30am for work, Teen Angel had to get up for school, and frankly, I thought the new parents had enough family in the way. You see, the grandmas had pretended to take a walk and then slipped right into the recovery room, oh yes they did. Tonight I’ll get my turn to rub his little head, smell that roly poly neck, wrap my finger around his finger and rub those big wrinkly feet. All of this just one week after I said goodbye to a friend who lost his battle with cancer. One life quietly ends, another loudly begins. What a wonderful world.