you know you’re OLD when…

you reach up to the valance to wrap the Christmas Elf’s arm around the loop and you pull  your back to the point where you are draped over a side table yelling ” babe, babe” and your husband comes running out to the family room and thinks ” oh my God, she’s having a heart attack” and grabs for the phone to dial 911, because, you know, thats what you do when your wife is having a heart attack.  And, you yell “no, no, I pulled my back” and he puts the phone down and says, “what?  Stupid elf”. and leaves you draped over the table while he walks to the kitchen to finish washing dishes.  Old.

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what’d I tell ya?

Yup.  broken.  nails.  all of em.  so it begins again.

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It’s the Little things

So, I dont grow nails easily.  Bit them clear up until I was, like, 50.  Ok, I still bite them sometimes.  but anyway, since this summer I have been obsessed.  Had them looking awesome for sons wedding ( you know in case i had to claw anyones eyes out…), but then when I went to the salon and got them “done” I succumbed to pressure and let them do gel nails over mine.  Which would have been ok had I gone back and let them take them off.  but, no.  When , a couple weeks later, they started to peel back ( kind of like your skin peels after you get a sun burn…) I went all crazy and pulled them off.  Peeled them off.  AAhhh….

That was 3 months ago.  it has taken 3 months for these tiny little nails to outgrow the damage i did when i pulled them off.  peeling, chipping, soft layers of nail.  You name it  .  But they are back.  been growing nicely for about 2 weeks.  Until Today.  Prepping for Thanksgiving I must have washed my hands 30 times.  and now my nails are almost translucent.  they’re all gonna break tomorrow, I bet. Its a little thing, I know, but man, I do love a pretty set of nails…

Of course, I love Thanksgiving too…ah well

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Confess…I must

So, my birthday was Monday.  i have never been an “it’s my birthday, celebrate me for days” kind of person, but like most people, I appreciate a hug, a card, a gift.  I look forward to a day of “wow you’re awesome” — sue me.  I’m a little self involved.

But, i digress…

Last Saturday we received a phone call that our daughter needed some back up.  Son in law had an emergency work trip.  So I packed up a bag and headed over.  A three week old, two year old and four year old makes for a hectic house, I was happy to help.

But, as the weekend progressed and my birthday loomed…I realized that my other two hadnt called, hadnt arranged to see me over the weekend …. no cards had come in the mail, no flowers delivered.  Moms feelings were hurt.

I took a break from grammy care and went home Sunday.  Lay on the couch and had myself a good cry.  Feeling exceptionally sorry for myself, ignored, taken for granted, you name it, I felt it.  then my husband came home with the only ugly coat that London Fog had ever made, in a bag, for me.  No way, take it back.

coerced my husband into bringing up the first Christmas tree.  I always have the angel tree up on my birthday.  spent an hour setting it up, plugged it in, 2 sections of lights OUT. Of course….

So, here it was, the day before my birthday.  There was no party, no cake, no Angel Tree….poor pitiful me.

Dragged my sad self back to daughter’s house where her kids presented me with a couple of great cards :  signed by them!  and a picture that the two year old had drawn of a rainbow.  That helped.  At least someone realizes…..grammy needs a cuddle.

And then the palooza began.  Youngest daughter, husband ( during an eagles game!) , her two kids, my husband and my inlaws descended upon us.  There was CAKE!  and Cards and drawings from the babies…..AAHHH…..

What was it i was whining about??

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What mess is this?

I refuse to believe this is a Pre-Christmas funk, because I just dont do that.  I prefer to think of it as post -traumatic stress syndrome.  Dramatic?  maybe, but over the past 7 or so years my life has been full of bumps, hell, downright BUMPS interspersed with immeasurable  moments of golden joy — and I think it is really beginning to take its toll.

I have said for years that I am the worst judge of character EVER.  I believe what people say to me, I am sure that I am mistaken, or to blame, if someone comes off as iffy or shady.  I let people, or in this case, institutions, in and then I am amazed, floored, downright pissed off when they let me down.

Someone said to me yesterday “Your one weakness is you dont like being told NO”.  Huh.  Like that’s ever happened.  I’ve heard and FELT no more times than I can remember.  Havent we all?  My weakness is I expect to be told “yes” when it is regarding someone or something that I believe in.

And I have reached a time in my life where I have the voice to say so.  But, I still am disappointed when I have to regroup, rethink, reexamine someone or something I have put my energy into.

And, I also, deal with the reality that every hit brings back some of the bangs of the past.

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This day…

will go down as one of my most miserable in years.  Not the worst day, not a terrifying or mournful day, but damn miserable.  miserable.   Started with a miserable work meeting, followed with a miserable work phone call, drug on with me whining to my boss about how miserable my day was going.  And then, in the middle of the miserableness of  it all, the server went down.  No computer, no hard drive, no email.  Are you kidding me?  How, in today’s business world are you supposed to get anything done like this?  So miserable me sat on my miserable floor and sorted through the miserable mess of a filing system that my predecessor left me. Miserable.

And then I get home and no gin.  or wine.  Miserable.

I think I’ll move to Australia.

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the king of bad decisions…

I just read an article about how someones dad, when laid off from work in the 70’s, turned himself into a landscaper.  Got me to thinking about my  dad, the king of bad decisions.

My dad started out, the child of a bootlegger and a drinker — the little brother of a beautiful blond haired beauty, my aunt Nita.  Stories of their youth sound a bit horrifying to me — taking care of each other while pop made night runs and mom sat at a speakeasy drinking.  Not the stuff Holiday cards are made of. But they survived.  She ran off and married a handsome soldier in the mid 40’s — dad and pop drove out west and dragged her home, twice I think, before pop finally relented.  Pop  never was crazy about Uncle Eddie, and his “polish” family ways, but that is another story.  They spent everyday of their life together, raising three children, until Aunt Nita passed.  Then Uncle Eddie stayed in their little brick house until he joined his beloved Juanita in Heaven.

Dad dropped out of school shortly after 8th grade ( can you say, bad decision) and joined the navy as soon as he could convince them he was old enough.  Served during wwII, lots of pictures remain of him drinking in Puerto Rico, manning his gun on his ship, hanging with friends and sailors…We also have several pictures of his boat, the tops of onion skin paper letters that he wrote my grandmother…only a few words written in his beautiful tight script left on the 2 inch letterhead that he eventually cut off the letters.  I have no idea why the letters werent savable, the words I can read speak of beautiful islands, longing for home and assurances that he would be okay.

When he returned he ran ragged for a while ( bad decision) drinking, wrecking cars and raising hell.  One particularly bad night resulted in the death of a friend in a car accident that may or may not have been dad’s fault.  He spoke of that infrequently, but always with sorrow and regret.  There were women — many of them and fights and beer.  Somewhere in there he reacquainted himself with the woman that would become his true love, my mom, Betty Ann.  They had known each other when she was 10 and he was 16, and if you believe my dads story, one day he and pop were riding through Dover, shortly after he returned from the Navy and she was walking down the street, no more than 14 years old.  He said “pop, Im gonna marry that girl some day”.  And so he did.  A month after she turned 16 — took her to her grandmother who had raised her and said ” Im gonna marry Betty Ann this weekend, ok?”  And that was that.  ( one of the good decisions!)  They didnt have, as my mom would say, a “pot to piss in” for many many years.   They moved a lot, ran shoe stores ( bad decision leaving that field, apparently dad was a great salesman and mom and he worked well together) , were caretakers at a lodge ( Big brother pushed bigger brother off the dock one day, ran like hell back to the house to hide), sold freezers….and then dad landed the job of his life:  on the line at General Motors.

Their life changed then and dad began a lifetime of bad decisions that led them to a point,when for all intent and purposes they should have been sitting pretty,  where he said “Im worth more to your mother dead than alive” as he bemoaned the fact that when he turned 65 the value of his life insurance was cut by 3/4 .  Dad knew how to spend money, but not how to save it.  His pride and the fact that my mother had become pretty much a “hood ornament” a beautiful woman that he liked to show off and have host parties, kept her from working much and his job at GM , where he eventually made it into supervision
(imagine that, without even a high school diploma) paid well, but not well enough to warrant the lifestyle he loved.  I never, never heard that man tell me I couldnt have something.  My first car was a 190 sl mercedes.  My brothers had matching corvairs in the late 60’s, their own band that dad drove to gigs in Atlantic City.  When I couldnt learn to drive the stick shift that the mercedes had, dad bought me a cougar:  the mascot of my school, and in school colors.  He gambled and drank, spent every penny he earned in that cycle of poverty that people who grew up with no money often do, and when at age 54 he had triple bypass surgery and was retired immediately ( 1979 ) he had no savings.  Did that daunt dad?  Hell no, he had his retirement, which in the late 70’s was good, he had GM (“Dont worry honey, people will always need cars, GM will always be on top ….bad decision)  and he had the belief that since his dad had died at 62, and he had his heart attack at 54, he wasnt going to live long.  Hence the term life insurance that in his head would keep mom, along with 1/2 of his retirement pay, in her current lifestyle  ( I have lost count of the number of bad decisions there) . Over the next 13 years they lived the life.  Bought a travel camper, drove up and down the east coast ( mom was afraid of flying), hit Disney world, Cape Hatteras, kept a place in Cape May for years.  Bought cars — on their credit card, no lie, selflessly gave my children gifts and trips and experiences that shaped their lives, but still no saving, no thinking about the future.  When my grandmothers died, there wasnt enough money to buy tombstones.  In 1992, dad sold their house, he couldnt keep up with it anymore and they needed cash.  They had close to 100000 in equity line on a house they had paid 13000 for in 1962 — and bought a modular home.  From this modular home they  lived like they were at the beach,  they loved that place.  Until the first tornado watch was issued.  They were scared.  I talked them into coming here for the weekend, tried to get them to come here permanently.  Dad went through the depression that follows a second heart surgery, the loss of his insurance, General Motors cutting benefits.  He suffered from the lack of a formal education, and the man who would do anything for anyone, the man who could fix anything and whose hands could hold the weight of the world, became confused and scared.  He bought ridiculous things from telemarketers.  He bought hundreds, HUNDREDS of those state coins and stashed them, later to use them for common purchases. He gave my son his little s10 truck because he liked it, and bought yet another car.

The bad choices of his youth and mid years caught up with him.  Dad lasted 82 years.  It was a hell of a ride.  He had alot of fun, in the end his financial decisions about his retirement check  have allowed mom to live a good life.  He taught us all lessons about love and giving and enjoying the day.  He was, and continues to be my favorite person in the world.   I miss him more than I can say, and when the strokes and dementia stole him from me I hung on to him, pulling out moments of lucid conversation and joy.  My husband would roll him down the halls of the nursing home, telling tales, listening to dads stories, searching for the “little people that had rolled” him across the lawn the night before.  I convinced my mom to let me bring him here about a month before he passed.  It only lasted a week, she couldnt handle the fear being alone with him brought her when I was at work, but one moment in that week will always be etched in my mind as the essence of dad and my’s relationship.  He was asleep in the living room, where we had set up a temporary hospital: complete with special bed, medicines, equipment and 24 hour nursing.  I was spread out on the couch, in case he woke up.  In the quiet, he lifted his head and looked at me.  I said “Knitting”, he nodded and said “Napping”.  And that was it.  lay his head down and went back to sleep.  That was all it ever took.  A word or two.  Dad and I knew that we were there for each other, always.  Bad decisions, mistakes and regrets aside, he was the best, and while he never made it big, he always made me, and the others around him, feel they had it all.

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