Sometimes , just when you need it…

you get a reminder of just how good you have it.  Today, I plodded through the mall with my oldest daughter, her two children and my youngest grandchild.  All strollers, water bottles and star wars toys, we made a cute little group.  Content.  Then, we ran into an old old friend of mine, actually the woman who pushed me back into education so many years ago.  Wonderful conversation, phone numbers exchanged.  Nice.  five minutes later we saw a recent colleague who oohed and ahhed over my adorable grandchildren and congratulated me again for my early retirement.  AAAhhh….Turned the corner and ran almost head on into three of my most favorite students — all seniors this year.  Adorable in their innocence, strolling the mall with smoothies in their hands.  Hugs and “I miss you so much”….Sweet sweet memories of the things that make teachers stay as long as we do….Nostalgic.  Leaving the mall, I caught, from the corner of my eye, the exquisite profile of my junior high phys. ed. teacher.  Yup.  I am 56, the WOMAN LOOKS JUST THE SAME!    I called her name, she stopped, turned and said “yess??”  Now, mind you its been 43 years, give or take a few, since I graced her gym in my green one piece “gymsuit”.  And I can still hear her telling me to get my lazy butt up and “skin the cat on those ropes”….I alternated between hatred and respect for this woman, and today I just couldn’t hold back from hugging her, so many memories…


I mean, seriously?  In the course of 2 hours, a former teacher, 3 former students, 2 colleagues, one recent and  one very past….and all the while my grandchildren at my side?  And my daughter?  wonderful.

And a little later when my daughter and her children were leaving the restroom, a lady stopped to tell her how beautiful her daughter was.  She thanked her and moved along.  My 4 year old grandson said “who was that mommy?”  She told him she didn’t know.  His reply?  “I bet grammy knows her”.  Blessed, so blessed.

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Cancer sucks

It has been an emotional week.  One that I have no right to claim rights to or sympathy for…or anything.  Yet I am affected beyond belief by the events occurring around me.  A  girl I work with, and really, this is a GIRL.  34 years old, 2 young daughters…has cancer.  Brain cancer.  Yup.  Brain Cancer.  34.  She came into work one day in February and her right hand was frozen.  She showed me and lightening bolts went off in my head.  Not good.  She made an appt. with an orthopedic guy for that afternoon, and just in case, I gave her the name of the neurologist I had seen for some problems with carpal tunnel.  that hand didn’t look like an orthopedic issue to me, but who am I?  So she went to the doctor and he said “Nuh uh, not my area” and made her an appt. in a few days for the neurologist.  Who took one look at her and scheduled an MRI for the following Friday.  Because she couldn’t have it sooner because her daughter was having surgery….She didn’t make it to the MRI, she seized on Wednesday night and was rushed to the hospital.  With her daughters watching.  And her husband terrified.

Surgery the following week.  Prognosis: cancer, but good vibes.  So the last month has been full of appts. and decisions.  She begins treatment next week. It will  be a long 6 months.

Obviously this affects anyone who knows, and cares for her.  But, my situation is even weirder.  I was tagged to be her replacement while she is out.  Acting Manager of the biggest program our organization hosts.  Can you say “heavy load”?  First day in the office I didn’t know whether to sit in her chair or in my old office.  Then I was nervous about changing the calendar to April, it sat on February. The first time the phone rang, I got a little nauseous.  Last summer I filled in for a girl on maternity leave.  Her program was a mess, it was a ridiculous summer for of reacting, fixing, placating, and wondering how the hell she got, let alone kept, her job.  But this program runs like butter. She went home from work one day, fully expecting to be back in the office the next morning and her whole world turned upside down that night.  Yet, her program is set and running and organized.  Kudos, kid. 

She sent an office email the other day where she told me to not “tiptoe around the program.  Don’t save it for me.  Run it.  Own it”.  Oh my.  Oh my.  So I will do my best, run and improve a program that is in great shape already, but each and every day will be for her.  period.


But, that’s not the end of the story.  Having a friend and coworker diagnosed with cancer at 34 makes you think.  Im 57, raised 3 kids, been married 35 years.  But it is time for some changes. the presence of a reminder of mortality does that.  I want to live within 30 minutes of water.  My husband wants a big garage where he can work on cars. I want to be able to choose how to spend my days, not be dictated by the needs of my children and grandchildren.  I want to be an active, involved part of my grandchildren’s lives.  I want to dance.  I want to drink mojitos and listen to music.  I want to live.

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So last week I wrote a post about being molested as a child.  It has had NO readers.  Not one.  How ironic — molestation steals your personality and visability….and the post about it is invisible.  wow.

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revisiting the past

I was molested, very many years ago, by someone who was very close to me.  Several times.  I repressed it, held onto the memory, until one day it just  bust loose.  Since that day, when as a 13 year old, I remembered what had happened to me as a 5 – 10 year old, I have, at differing times, fixated, ignored, dealt with, talked over, confronted and cried over the mess it made of my emotional health.  At various times over the years  I was free of the anger, overcome with the anger, anxious, relaxed, in control and spiraling.  About 12 years ago I fully removed that person from my life, ,no small task, given the fact that I had already told everyone important to me what had happened, and none of them, NONE OF THEM, had removed him from my life for me.  Over the past 12 years I have only had to see/interact/deal with him on one occasion, when my father died.  For whatever reason we got through it.  No blow ups, no dancing around the subject, just a quiet realization on my part that I did not want to dirty my father’s passing with the filth of those memories.  And after the funeral 3 years have passed where I have not had to see/hear or deal with my molester.

So last week when I had this realization that every time any male gets angry or annoyed with me, or looks at me in a less than adoring way — it takes me agonizingly back to that little girl who lost trust, and innocence and the ability to be comfortable in her own skin — I was surprised.  Surprised that with all the counseling, and talking, spiritual awakening and physical distance, this still has power over me.  A little pissed off too.

So I did what seemed normal to me at the time.  I pulled over and bought a soft serve ice cream dipped in chocolate and called my therapist.  I started seeing him 3 years ago when I lost my mind and left my husband…..saw him for a couple months until we agreed that, although we enjoy talking to each other, I was pretty much level headed and in control at that point.  Saw him again for one visit when I was contemplating retirement ( woo hoo)  and haven’t seen him for about a year and a half. 

This realization, however, gave me pause, and I felt it was important enough to talk through.  Maybe I can finally rid myself of the remnants of the chaos this guy caused in my life.  So I saw the therapist last week.  Rehashed some stuff and came away with a homework assignment.  “Write down what you learned from what happened to you, and what you learned from the relationship you had with your father, who told you you were his reason for leading a good life”.  Oh boy.  This should be interesting.

I will not however, write those feelings on this blog.  Not yet, anyway.  My purpose today is to reiterate that maybe its never really over.  That you can be moving through your life in pretty good shape, working, loving, taking vacations….and then it can hit you, all over again.  And maybe the measure of health is how you deal with that smack in the face.  Maybe ice cream and a call to the therapist wasn’t the healthiest way of dealing with this , but it sure beat crying, denying or arguing with my husband or whatever unfortunate man happened to cross my path that day.  Progress.

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So, its been just over a year since I retired.  A year of deep breaths, overspending and relaxing.  I found a great part time gig before I retired and it has proven, until the first of this month, to be lucrative, allowing us to drift comfortably through the changes that retirement brings.  Then, it all kind of blew up.  One of the program directors left.  Another has decided she doesn’t like “sharing” me, so she’s just not going to use me, we got a new executive director and the program director who I have developed a great working and friendship relationship with was diagnosed with a brain tumor. a Brain Tumor.  Cancerous.  Surgery , extensive OT, chemo and radiation regime to be determined………..crisis mode.  So, pushing aside the drama of a young mother being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, which is really the only IMPORTANT consideration in this whole thing, pushing that aside, my work hours have gone from 15  week to 4.  That’s right, 4.  The projects Rachel and I were working on were put on hold with her illness.  The office is in terror mode, with everyone of the fulltime people  ( well, everyone except the one who doesn’t want to work with me anymore) chipping in and covering all the bases, and I am just sitting at home, checking email and hoping someone remembers to let me help  ….  frustrating, beyond words.

I need to work.  I need to generate a bit of income, but just as importantly, I need to contribute.  To have a schedule.  To work. 

So Ive been sending resumes and filling out applications and scanning websites….all the while hoping for an email from the Exec. Director. Ive been sending him a weekly email: basically a “don’t forget me, what can I do?” note…but man, this sucks.

Posted in retirement, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hallelujah Praise the Lord!!!

The funk has passed!!! Thank you to all of you who contacted me or just sent “straighten up girl” thoughts my way. 

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intentions gone bad

I never intended for this blog to be about me, about whining or complaining or longing.  I wanted it to be uplifting and challenging.  I planned on researching empathy and strength.  And then I dropped into this funk.  And I find that writing  about it seems to help for a minute, so I apologize and ask for your patience.  I know that this too shall pass, but right now it sucks.

I have always wanted, planned, dreamed of, living at the beach. 

We devoted the first 24 years of our marriage, exclusively, to getting our children raised.  I went gleefully, my husband had to be pulled out of his self-serving mode frequently, but we got it done.  We thought.  We have three children, all fairly successful, reasonably settled.  We have 5 grandchildren, and one, ssshhh, on the way.  All our kids have a life partner — maybe.  the youngest is in a rocky relationship that may or may not work itself out, and our middle has a “baby momma” that makes his life sticky for he and his fiancée.  The oldest, married to a “professional man” is in the calmest place right now.  We are indelibly tied into all of their lives.  INDELIBLY.  The stress of monitoring everyone else’s “issues”, of caring for all those babies at different times during the week, of financially helping whoever needs it at the time, is literally sucking the life out of me.  There, I said it, its killing me. 

And, it kills me to say that.

  My own mother refused to help much when I was raising our kids.  My dad was available, but mom was perfectly fine with sitting on the beach while I lay on a cot in my family room, confined to bed rest for the last three months of my last pregnancy.  Dad came up and down the coast to help, almost daily, but mom?  her line was “I didn’t tell you to have a third baby”.  So, I am very conscious of not being her.  I worry that selfishness is genetic and that years down the line my kids will resent each time I said”no” to whatever they have asked. And, that I will be guilt ridden about wanting my time.  But, truly, do I have to be home everyday by 4 in case someone needs to be picked up from child care?  do I have to arrange every weeks schedule around someone’s doctor appt. or “charity dinner” or business trip.  Why do I stay home every other weekend, when youngest child’s husband works nights, in case she needs us?  So, I never, rarely ever, say “no”.  And although I love every minute with those babies, I want to go to the beach.  I want to sit in the sand and knit.  I want to have morning coffee with the sound of the surf in my ears.

And I worry about being rash in decisions.  A couple of years ago we bought land in Chincoteague that we cant afford, and now cant unload.  I retired a year ago and cut our income by a quarter.  I work part-time, but it doesn’t make it up, not by a long shot.  I don’t want to regret another decision, but I want, more than anything, to sell this big house and move to the beach.  two hours away.  close enough that if there is an emergency I can get here, but far enough that im not asked to pick up some thing at the grocery store — when there are two adults in the house that could do it.

God, I hate this helpless feeling.  I feel like my life is out of control and that I am just spinning my wheels trying to be everything to everyone.  Is it selfish to, finally, want it to be “my turn”?

Posted in empty nest, grandparenting, marriage, retirement, Uncategorized | 2 Comments