The Sunshine and Dad

I have spent the last week and a half with my beloved dad. It’s the time of year when mom and dad become snow birds and migrate to sunny Florida. This year it is just dad though since we lost mom last November. Today would have been her birthday. She would have been a very young 87. 

Traveling with just dad has been a wonderful experience and a treasured one at that. sitting amiably in the car chatting or sitting quietly, he is a man of few words, we just get along well. We took our time and enjoyed our trip driving south through several states enjoying the changing scenery that makes up our beautiful land. We even stopped and shared a pecan waffle at the Wafflehouse in honor of mom, because no trip would be complete without a pecan waffle and a cup of tea in her humble opinion. 

Since arriving in the beautiful southwest part of the sunshine state, I’ve shopped and dad has taken care of things he needed to. I’ve helped him with all his technical issues and we have gotten him settled. We have eaten so well that when I get home, I probably shouldn’t eat for a month!  Life here is on a different pace. It’s as if everyone is on a permanent vacation where he lives. I suppose they are. It’s a slower, more relaxed pace where people have time for one another.

I’ve gone to the beach, of course, but I prefer the pool. Going to the pool each afternoon I find the same group of characters. I call it social hour. Everyone catches up with the latest goings-on in the community. It’s truly an amazing place to be and they have made me feel so welcome. Just today, I had a glass of wine by the pool with these fabulous people. Such fun. And boy was it good!

The shopping is always good here but I was hoping to find a few more things at my usual stores which I didn’t. Had I gone to my other usual stores I may have but I don’t want to spend all my money. I look for bargains only. That I found. There are loads of high end stores but I don’t want to spend everything when I don’t have to. 

There is nothing better than the sound of the waves hitting the shore, in my opinion. Stress melts away instantly while just sitting there listening to the lapping waves and the sounds of the sea birds. I went only one day this time to the beach, but my stress from the long drive instantly disappeared as I sat there enjoying the sights and sounds for an hour. It was a cloudy day so I had the beach pretty much to myself. What a joy and spectacle to behold. 

Soon it will be back to the Midwest for me. Not that it’s a bad thing to go home but I miss this place when I leave it. This is my favorite place on earth. The sun shines so brightly here and the temperature is always warm and delightful. Knowing that I’m going home is like a double edged sword. I miss my husband and kids, I miss my own bed, but I don’t miss the weather. I especially don’t look forward to the winter. But life is what it is and maybe someday I’ll get a chance to love a life down here. It is my dream. Someday. 

Time Goes By

Each year comes and goes unbidden yet we feel relatively the same inside. Each birthday rolls around and the years add on, but we are basically the same person we were when we were 19 or 20, just more mature and hopefully we’ve learned a few things we didn’t know in our younger years. Yet the fact remains, we are still the same kid just trapped in an older body. Well, I am.

 My body may not cooperate with me like it once did, it may not look as good as it did, but inside I am the same person I’ve always been. My heart is the same loving, caring, easily hurt heart it has always been. My mind, however, is older and hopefully a lot wiser than that one of my youth. 

My mom used to say we really only aged every 7 years. Look in the mirror every 7 years then you see a difference. You don’t see the daily changes because they are subtly happening. Why be ashamed of those changes? You earned the right by living your life and being alive.

As an adult, don’t look for the fine lines and wrinkles. They’ll be there soon enough. Think of them as battle scars. We earn them if we are lucky. Don’t think of them as anything less than something to be proud of. In this culture which prides itself on youth and beauty, only men can grow older and own those fine lines and wrinkles without being judged. It’s about time we women stood up to all the hype and  social pressures and said enough is enough. There is no magic cream that will prevent it all. No makeup can hide it forever either. 

Growing older is a privilege not all are afforded. So as you struggle with getting another year older, think of it as a privilege and realize that you have 2 choices. One is to grow older and enjoy every moment and the other is to grow older with resentment at the things you should have done. Enjoy life. Smell the roses. Don’t sweat the little things because no one remembers them in the long term anyway. Remember, each day is a privilege.

And to my dear, dear friend, who is an inspiration to me, happy birthday! You are spectacular at every age!

Missing Mom

When you are feeling just a little under the weather or downright sick, we all want our moms at those times. I’m just like everyone else in that respect and in the last few days it has been extra difficult. You see, a year ago my mom has her stroke and was in the hospital. I am reminded each day where I was and how she was doing this time last year. To top that off, I’ve been feeling under the weather enough to warrant mom care. But if you follow my blog, you know that won’t be happening anymore.

I am still grieving over the loss of my mom as we near the one year anniversary of her death. I still have another month to go but this is the really hard month, as I sort of relive all those memories of last year. I spent all my days in the hospital with her. I spent my time talking to her, praying with her and for her and finally realizing that her life here was at it’s end. 

Simply stated, last year sucked and I don’t want to relive it, but I am reliving it in a way, but nearly as an outsider looking in. I have a different perspective this time as I know the outcome. I still cry unbidden. I still speak to her as though she can hear me. I still wait to hear her voice sometimes, but it never comes. 

I still see her in my dreams sometimes. I thank God for those dreams. I recently had the best dream of my life. I was in my mom’s kitchen and she was making dinner. I could smell the potatoes cooking. Such a realistic dream. Mom where she always was, doing what she did so well. I could smell her even though I could not touch her. I was home. It’s a home I will never quite have again even though I gratefully have my dad and he lives in the house. I no longer have mom. Mom made it home.

I know many people understand the loss of one’s mom. This is my journey and I share it with you because that is who I am. We get only one mom in life. I did anyway. One fabulous and incredibly wonderful mom. I miss her each and every day. I will go on missing her as I don’t think we ever truly get over the death of our mother. They make us who we are and shape us into the people we become as adults.

That Elusive Sleep and Other Short Tales

Oh how I wish I could sleep like normal people. These days it just isn’t happening. Some nights are good, but this isn’t one of them. To top it off, I need the sleep. I’m headed out early in the morning with my brother and my dad to head out of town. 

We are off to a memorial service of a very special woman, my cousin’s wife who lost her battle with cancer recently. She was an exceptionally wonderful and funny person, always so full of life. She fought valiantly to say the least and will be missed by so many. 

As it is, if I were to fall asleep precisely in 3 minutes, I could get up to 4.5 hours of sleep. It’s a good thing I’m not driving, although I am a navigator since we recently were there at the same church for my sweet uncle’s funeral. My brother is driving and was out of town last time. Thank the good Lord above for GPS and Google maps!

I continue to heal these days, but my mind and heart have been rather heavy which is why I haven’t written much. It isn’t anything about my health I’m particular, just that I want so much to be completely back to my old self and I grow so impatient sometimes. There have been a few other issues that burden my heart, but they are mine alone. All I can do is pray for that matter to eventually resolve itself.

We celebrated dear Hubs’ birthday yesterday which was great. The cake that my middle 2 kids made was extraordinary! Bear was the baker and Bug was the sculptor! They even made their own marshmallow fondant! It was delicious too! I have to say, eating a cake so cute and named ‘Beau, the Otter’ is rather hard to do! 

Thursday will mark Hubs and my 10th anniversary. I’m very excited. I can’t say we have anything planned. I’m actually just glad to  not be in a hospital and to be feeling better at this point. Sure, I wish we could do something special, but all I keep thinking is the medical bills will be coming soon. Very soon. I didn’t think we would be where we are at this point in our marriage, in fact, I pictured things quite differently. What I can tell You is this, we have had our own very unique and bumpy journey to get here, but it’s proven that our love is a forever love based on the right values and morals with a foundation of faith. I wouldn’t trade this man in for anything. No one else would or could put up with the highly emotional, sometimes irrational, often overthinking, loud-mouthed, opinionated, but thoroughly lovable me. Thank you Jim from the bottom of my heart, for always supporting me No matter what! I never truly understood love until I married you.

The Drive of Life

My Hubs is a huge car fan.  He particularly loves old, British cars and very expensive, exotic cars.  He isn’t a muscle car kind of guy, but he certainly can appreciate them.  Over the many years I have known this man, I have learned many things about cars and have come to appreciate them myself, not to the extent that he does, of course, but I do appreciate them.  He is known around here as the “Tire Guru”, meaning, if you need any advice on which set of tires you should get for your car, he’s your man.  He can tell which kind of tires are on a car by the marks left in the snow, for heaven’s sake.  He has also been known to leave notes on cars for those poor souls who have low tire pressure, or those who have had the misfortune of having their tires put on backwards.  Yes, for those of you who were not aware, certain types of tires can be put on backwards making their purpose in life, well, impossible.  They can’t whisk away the water for instance if they are on incorrectly.  I have learned this from Hubs.  I am “in the know”!

I promise, though, I won’t write about my very minimal car knowledge, but let’s just say, I have enough to get by.  Actually, the normal routine of cars around here goes something like this.  I ask a question which seems like a simple car question.  What I get instead of a simple answer is a complete dissertation of the mechanical workings of whatever part of the damn car I asked about.  Hubs, in return for his extraordinary effort, gets my “deer in caught in the headlights” look.  He has completely lost me by the second or third sentence most times.  I just wanted the simple answer, but God bless him for trying.  Our son could identify all Ford Mustangs, regardless of year, by the time he was two or three.  He could identify most brands shortly after that, making Daddy one proud papa. Again, I digress.

This post is about what drives us in our lives. For some people it seems to be about success.  For others, it’s about religion, still others, family.  What makes people tick?  What drives us in our lives?  I have met so many people and yet, each person I meet is uniquely different.  I guess because of that, I can only tell you my thoughts and tell you what drives me.  Some days I have to admit, I don’t seem to have any drive at all, but in the end, here I am, so something drives me.

I am and I’ve always been a people pleaser.  I love to make others happy.  My mother always taught me that giving was much better than receiving because you get so much more back.  She also saw in me that I was a giver.  I have to admit that I like to receive, too.  Who doesn’t?  But in my work, I find that giving my time to others is what brings me the most happiness in life.  Selfishness is something that makes me crazy.  I abhor it, yet I find myself being selfish at times.  They always say that the traits you dislike in others are usually the ones you need to work on.  I guess they’re right on that one.  I’m selfish when it comes to time and attention from my Hubs.  He really is the best.  While I have been so ill these last few months, he has been my rock.  I’ve realized that as long as he is there, I’m happy and satisfied.  I won’t say we always get along.  We are human, but we understand each other so well, that just by communicating, all is well in the world.

My faith is also very important to me.  Let me tell you, it’s been tested quite a lot over the years, but no matter what, I always come back, and never once have I questioned God’s existence.  I know that God is a loving and forgiving God.  I know that I am a sinner and I pray every single day for forgiveness for my sins.  I sure hope he hears those prayers.  I have not been a perfect Catholic, but I am a repentant soul just trying to do the best I can and trying to do a little better each day.  I’ll never be perfect.  I don’t get to church everyday or anywhere near it.  In the last month and a half, due to my illness, I haven’t been at all.  I long to get back to the choir.  I miss it.  The point is, regardless of how many times I go to church, I still try my best to live my faith and to teach it to my children.  I often times feel like I have failed doing a good job in that department.  I haven’t lived up to the standards I set for myself.  That being said, my faith still drives me to do better and to try harder.

My family drives me to be successful and to be a good role model.  I don’t always succeed but I keep my head up and keep on going.  Hubs and I have done our best to provide for our family, to create a safe home, to create a happy home.  It’s been a very difficult and rocky struggle throughout the years, but we finally have achieved a home environment that is something that we are proud of.  We have always loved our family very much, but for much of our married life, there were struggles.  This life is a hard one and like I always say, I am a work in progress.  We all are.  Hubs and I used to fight over stupid things that didn’t really matter.  I finally realized that it was me that was instigating the madness.  There was no reason for it.  It was me trying to live in a house where everything was perfect.  The reality was, we needed a home that was lived in and not so perfect.  I had to realize that I was the problem.  That’s really hard to do, but once I did it, our lives began to transform.  Now, our house is a home of love and imperfection and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Now, I’m working on my impatience.  I have the drive to fix it because of the love I have for my family, but the struggle is undeniably difficult at times, especially when I’m tired and not feeling well and dealing with a 9 year old who is also tired and won’t give up the battle. Ugh!

If only I could get in a car, a really nice car, and drive off to be serviced for my own imperfections… Well, nice thought that is, but I will continue to strive to fix me.  Right now, I’m still recovering from that blasted surgery and it’s complications.  I know once I am able to get out and about again, I will get a new outlook too.  I’ve had far too much time in my house this summer, but I’m feeling much better and ready to have some good times.  I’m ready to build up my strength and get back to work again.  So, that’s my story.  What drives you?

There’s a Storm Brewing

Have you ever felt like your mind is a storm brewing? I have. Not for any particular reason either. Sometimes, my mind just feels like a stupendous storm cloud building up energy, ready to release a downpour of torrential emotions instead of rain, for no reason other than not feeling myself, I suppose. Perhaps I’m just having one it “those” days. Usually I’m not feeling well or getting sick and simply don’t know it yet. Regardless, those storms of emotions play havoc in my life.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has emotional storms that brew. If they do come to surface, I inevitably will erupt thunderously with a fury. It isn’t pretty, but what storm that knocks trees down is really considered attractive? I will immediately end up with a downpour of years for several reasons. First, it’s a release of pent up emotion that has been brewing inside, unable to find the proper outlet. Second, I’m ultimately so sorry for anyone that has been caught in my storm’s path. Unfortunately, it’s usually my ever faithful and always trusted husband. I always apologize to him because it is not fair. Luckily for me, however, he is the most forgiving and humble man. He always says it’s his fault even though he hasn’t done anything to deserve my storm. He just happened to be in it’s path. 

I have gotten better over the last year. I’ve learned to understand and recognize that sometimes this will happen and I have to accept my great flaw. I have to see that this is part of my depression and luckily doesn’t happen very often. I’m the work in progress and nothing worth having comes easy. Well, this journey is not easy, but I thank God that I have my husband by my side to get me through and to understand and put up with my storms. Lucky for me that he sees the sunny days that are so worth those storms.

The Normal Life

If I close my eyes, I think of what a wonderful life I’ve been blessed with. You see, the last few months have been unusually difficult. I keep waiting for the storm clouds to disintegrate and the warm, blue, sunny skies of a normal life to take over. I’m beginning to think that day may never get here, or may never arrive at all.

Six months ago, I lost my beautiful, vibrant and brilliant best friend, my mom. She and I had differences from time to time, but what child doesn’t? We always worked them out.

Just after mom died, dad was misdiagnosed with cancer. Luckily for all of us, he had an abscess that looked like cancer. He healed well with antibiotics. When that was through, dad had a very important eye surgery. He is now able to see where he could not before surgery.

And then there is me. I have been sick since March, Easter week to be precise. I’m still sick, but hoping and praying that the end is near. I’m tired. I’m so tired of the pain. I’m tired of just feeling sort of alright. I am tired of my house and relying on others. I’m tired of new problems cropping up. I’m just so tired.

So when I close my eyes, I imagine myself free from pain, free from my house, usually swimming or running or playing like I did as a kid. I see myself able to focus on life for more than 5 minutes. I want to run outside and play with my kids. I want to take my dogs on a walk. I just want to relish my normal life. The same life I took for granted. I will never take it for granted again. That is a promise after this ordeal.

My home is a sanctuary to me, but now it’s become my prison. It’s become the place I wish I wasn’t. I’m trapped. I can’t enjoy my summer because of how I feel. I couldn’t go swimming, my favorite thing to do, because I have a drain in my belly.

The summer will be over and still won’t be back at the job I love because of this, or so I fear. Will I ever heal? I will, eventually. Right now, though, it’s so difficult. I’ll keep my eyes closed and keep dreaming, perhaps. I’ll dream of ordinary and how in love and miss ordinary.
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T Minus 2 days

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And thus we find ourselves here. The hospital called twice, once to pre-register and once to go over allergies and medications. That is fine with me, however, I know I’ll have to go over it all again on Friday morning. Yippee! Oh what fun!

I am no stranger to surgeries, especially abdominal surgeries. This time is different though. This time is a really big surgery. I admit I’m scared, but I just want it to be over. I was struck by something during the pre-registration call this morning. They asked me to pay my $350 co-pay today. Since when did this start occurring? Isn’t it bad enough that I have a family to support and I’ll have no income to support them with? Now the hospital, which used to take payments, wants that much up front? Seriously? I’m struggling here to understand the efficacy of all this. What happens to those who don’t have it? My cyst is pre-cancerous. This is necessary. I need to get this out of my body. Is this what health care has come to?

I struggle to understand how hospitals expect me to rate them highly when they want my copay right now. Isn’t this supposed to be about patient care? How did this happen? I’ll tell you how. It happened when the government decided to get involved. I’ve been a registered nurse for 20 years and it’s a recent occurrence that hospitals have been run so far into the red that they have to make things this tough for patients. What if I tell them I won’t be able to pay my other bills if I pay them for a surgery I need? Do you think they really give a hoot? The answer is a resounding no. Hospitals, like every other business, have been forced to think about the almighty bottom line more and more and less about the happiness of their patients.

You will get loads of surveys in the mail after doctor’s visits and hospital stays. That’s administration for you. They go by numbers. How did our employees do on the surveys? And that’s all we employees are, a number. Luckily, for those we work with, we are much more than that number. We are human. We matter more than that number, but to those above us all, just a number on a survey.

The same is true all over healthcare which is changing the way healthcare is delivered. Its everywhere, not just in the hospital I’ll be at for my surgery. Everywhere. Too bad the people taking care of you and me aren’t allowed just to do a great job, that which they were called to do, without having government and administration breathing out orders as to how we do what we do. It even includes how long doctors are supposed to take for patients. Yep, you read that correctly. Don’t you like having a time restraint on how important you are! And now, we have to pay for our stay like a damn hotel stay! I guarantee, it’s no Ritz Carlton for my stay! Why should I have to pay first?

Thoughtfully perturbed in Illinois!

Being Connected

Image result for when your mobile phone not workingWhile I love technology for the most part, there is part of me that also loathes it when it decides to take a flying leap into the dark abyss and ceases to function.  This happened this weekend.  My cell phone decided to act strangely while I was using it on Saturday.  I was looking at the screen and trying to do something when, Voila! the darn screen sort of flashed black and went dim.  I could hear the sounds and all, but the screen remained black.  Not good for someone who was getting phone calls and text messages.  Ugh!  What now!

I tried to turn it off, but my phone has a touch screen which requires me to be able to see it to turn it off.  No luck.  I took out the battery.  I let it rest for a bit and tried again.  It came on for a moment before going black again.  I tried again several times, but no success.  I called my provider after starting an insurance form to get a replacement phone.  I’m so glad I did.  I was able to take the phone in to the store!  Unfortunately, I have lost a bunch of pictures stored on that phone, but otherwise, my world is still somewhat intact and my connection to the outside world via mobile phone remains secured. It only took about an hour.  Thank God for the technician who was able to fix my other phone which needed to be wiped clean, as it had issues too. My black screen phone is most definitely a deceased phone.

How did we become such a society that relies on our electronic devices so much?  My greatest concern was being connected.  It was being able to text and talk on the phone, as this phone is my primary phone.  It was also about reaching my calendar.  All my appointments are on there.  My work schedule is on there.  My manager at work texts me on there.  Never before have I been that attached to a phone, but here I am, completely tethered to my phone.  You’d swear I was 17 years old!

I’m not one who can’t put my phone down, but I’ll admit, I have it in my hands most of the time.  I have that very bad habit.  I play my word games on it.  I love Words With Friends, WordOx, Word Search, AlphaBetty, as well as several puzzle games, but I also like to feel connected to everyone.  I love feeling connected to WordPress.  I want to check my stats and write posts as they enter into my head instead of later, or at least jot my ideas down if I’m not in a situation where I can write about them.

Have mobile phones and technology helped or hindered our memories?  That’s what I’m thinking about as I write this.  Is it great to be able to connect so easily, but I was raised in a generation that didn’t have anything like this.  Now, I see my children drawn to their phones as if their very lives depended on them.  What the heck is wrong with these kids?  They can’t even talk to  you and keep their eyes on you instead of their phone.

Life was so much simpler without technology. We talked to each other more.  I’m making the effort to get back to that in my life and it has been so wonderful.  I love my family so much more than ever.  Without having a screen to look into, I see the lives of my loved ones.  I see faces with expressions looking back at me.  Real conversations do happen.  Don’t lose yourself in technology.  It just will do what my phone did.  It will break down and give you the dreaded black screen of death one day without any remorse.  It has no feelings.  It is just an electronic.  The faces of your family though, will love you and appreciate the time spent with them.  They will chat with you, cry with you and most of all, they will laugh with you.  They have life in them and won’t give up on you when you most need them.

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Chaos vs. Order, the House I Love

Who doesn’t like life in an orderly manner?  I would love my house to be orderly, but that never lasts very long.  I guess it is just meant to be a bit disorderly in this stage of my life.  I have my husband, my children and my zoo.  I sure wouldn’t change any of those things now that I have them.  My life wouldn’t be the same and I enjoy having all those people and pets in my life.  Just the same, when my family asks me what I would like for my birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, and my Anniversary, the answer is always the same.  It’s to have the house clean.  I love order.

At my old office, I had a desk.  In my desk, I had order.  Yes, lovely order.  Then, we moved offices and suddenly, we found ourselves having to share a desk with someone else.  This was a huge change because everything I once had in one desk now had to fit in 1 and 1/2 drawers and 1/2 of the top.  I never did get that half the way I liked it, but we also never spent that much time there.  You also need to understand that we were not there very often.  We had that space, but spent most of our time in the car traveling from one patient to the next.  We worked out of our cars and out of bags kept in the boot of the car.  My order there would start off great, but over time would digress into disorder.  Every few months, the task of reorganization would ensue and once complete, I always had this sense of peace and tranquility opening up my equipment bags.  I loved cleaning those out as well as my paperwork bag.  So cathartic!

My house is another story.  I think it stems from the fact that I am not the only one living there and therefore I am not the only keeper of the cheese, so to speak.  As such, when I clean my bedroom, which I just did Friday, I find so much stuff that belongs to the rest of the household.  I hate that everyone else seems to think it’s okay to leave everything from shoes and clothes to makeup and book bags in mom and dad’s room.  It just drives me bananas!  Seriously, the kids do this all over the house no matter what we try to implement.  It’s like tiny bombs of kid stuff exploded everywhere.  I can’t tell you that my husband and I are the tidiest people in the world, but at least we don’t leave things everywhere.  We do pick up after ourselves.  My kitchen is the other place that is a catch-all for everyone’s junk. Purses, artwork, coats, papers, mail, dishes.

My husband is a lover of flat surfaces.  We have to have flat surface interventions occasionally.  It entails me going through all the receipts, coins, papers and other stuff he’s taken out of his pockets and placed on some flat surface for going through later.  He makes piles on flat surfaces when he doesn’t know what to do with something.  He always has the intention of going through them later, but his procrastination kicks in and takes over.  His later could be sometime in the next 20 years.  Not a good plan for the man to have a flat surface.

I love to have clear flat surfaces.  I love to have order.  If I had my way, I would have the house as neat and tidy as my mother kept her home.  She always went through things everyday.  She never put things off until later.  The house was clean and orderly, the way I like it.  She had a routine and knew how long it had been since the hardwood floor had been polished.  I, unfortunately couldn’t tell you the last time my hardwood floors were polished, but I know they are due.  I procrastinate more than I should.

I can tell you that my house may not be the way I’d like it, but someday it will be.  When my kids are grown and I no longer have a zoo, I will have a clean home.  It will be orderly and I will miss the chaos.  I will suffer from the empty nest syndrome.  I will be down to 2 kids at home and let me tell you, they are not going to make it cleaner this fall.  They are not neat and tidy humans!  They leave things around, so order will have to take a place on the back burner for the time being.  That is okay with me.  It will come someday.  Someday I will also have grandchildren and life in my house but I will have to give those kiddos back to my own children.  That will be okay too.  I couldn’t do the whole baby thing over again at this stage, I don’t think.  I rather enjoy sleep and independence.

Yes, I love order in my life, but I’ve learned to make things work with the chaos that is my life.  I love my life and wouldn’t change a thing.  I do enjoy those quiet moments stolen for short periods of time, but I’m always have the chaos back.  A houseful of chaos is a houseful of love.  I have a houseful of love plus some.