Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We Are Family

It started out like any other family, for lack of better word, feud. There were no Hatfield and McCoy shootings, just a common agreement that certain members of the family did not get along and therefore stopped speaking. The problem was the dispute, as with most quarrels, had innocent victims.

This is my story.

My Grandmother was a strong willed person who liked controlling situations. No one knows the whole story, but she and my Aunt had a falling out that would never be rectified in this lifetime. Members of the family were forced to choose sides and in the end my mother lost her sister.

Over the years when I came home I would ask where my cousins were. I was told they had moved out of state and no one in the family knew where. I take responsibility for not pursuing their whereabouts, but I was raising kids and on our trips to Ohio attempting to juggle the parent and In-law visits with equal time.

But I missed my cousin. He was one of my best friends growing up. He was an usher at my wedding. He was a big burly football player from the neighboring city, but one of the sweetest men I ever met.

For years, I felt the hole left in my heart from his absence.

Then last year I was cruising some social networks and found his wife’s page. I contacted them and we caught up, as much as one can, on Facebook. Then we realized we were going to be in Ohio at the same time. Plans were made.

I was like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I was to meet them at five at a favorite pizza place. Life happened and they were held up. I had to pick my Mom up at seven so our time was limited. I began to worry that I’d miss seeing them. Then the call came. We’d meet at a Starbucks between the two cities.

I sat waiting in anticipation. Wondering, hoping that the reunion would be all I expected. He walked through the doors and I started crying. I grabbed him and hugged, not the least bit embarrassed as other patrons looked on. I met his kids. I embraced his wife. We sat and talked. Neither of us understood the dispute, what had caused it, what had kept it going all these years.

All I knew is that because of a quarrel that was completely out of our control, we had missed being a part of each other’s lives.

I don’t see him or talk to him every day. But there is something there, some small part in my heart that has been opened. And it feels wonderful.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Live Like You Were Dying

I get the majority of my ideas for articles from friends. Most are going through the same aches and pains, trials and tribulations that I find myself dealing with as a fifty-something. But every once in a while I have a conversation with someone outside my group that touches me so much that I have to write.

Two days ago, I ran into a woman I met when I worked at St. Mary’s Hospital at a pediatric home facility where families stayed when their children were hospitalized. More often than not, the child was having treatment for cancer. The woman I ran into had a son who came routinely for two years and was dealing with an extremely treatable form of childhood cancer. "Good news," she told me. The young man just turned 22 and is by every sense of the word cured.

We spoke briefly, but I could see something in her eyes. She kept looking down as she spoke. Finally I grabbed her arm and led her to the food court.

“Let me buy you a coffee.” I insisted.

If I’ve learned one thing in life it’s that you have to stop and reach out to others in their moment of need. Too often I let the moment pass and regretted my lack of consideration later.

We made our way to the food court and over coffee she opened up about her own cancer nightmare.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer some years earlier and going through treatment, she had made it to 4 years and eight months before coming out of remission.

“They say if you make it to the five year mark it’s a good thing,” she told me with a sad smile. She was going back into a treatment plan. But what she said next changed me more than anything. “If I knew then what I know now, I’d have spent more time living and less worrying about death.”

Her son had been sick for so long that even after he was better death seemed to hang around. His immune system was battered and she constantly worried about accidents and illness, about strokes and heart attacks. She’d seen so much illness so early that she spent her life looking over her shoulder at every shadow.

“Do you know the song, Live Like You Were Dying?” she asked.

I smiled, “One of my favorites.”

“It’s true, you should live each day as if it were your last, not give into that fear of dying. Every day, I get up and say to myself, 'It’s going to be a great day, cherish it.' I tell everyone I love how I feel. I take numerous moments throughout the day to close my eyes and just breathe. I look around and I am so grateful for all that I have.”

I wondered what the people in the nearby booths thought of these two middle aged women crying together in the food court at the mall.

We talked some more. We caught up on her other kids that were always in tow when the youngest was in for treatment. I hadn’t seen her for eight years and knew because of the distance between our homes, the possibility that I would see her again was minimal.

“If you need anything...” I said as we hugged farewell.

She smiled, “I’m good, and it was great seeing you.”

We parted ways and I knew that I should take her advice to live each day like the special gift that it is to each and every one of us. Cherish the relationships; appreciate my life, my surroundings, all of those gifts with which I have been so blessed.

It happens, you hear this type of story and for a couple days you try. You attempt to live in the moment, appreciating loved ones. But all too soon we fall back into that everyday routine where just getting through seems to be a challenge.

Maybe, I would fall back into my habitual way of just getting through each day. As I got in my car, I closed my eyes and took in a long cleansing breath and cherished the moment. Maybe not.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who’s there?

I’m not psychic. I have those moments where I get that feeling that something is wrong out there in the universe and I start calling everyone on the family tree to make sure everything is okay.

However, I have been afflicted over the years with hearing or feeling someone close by me when there are no other worldly people in the general vicinity. And occasionally I hear a whisper of a voice say my name. The kids find it hilarious. When they are in another room and I walk in and say, “Did one of you call me?”

But the voice has been useful. There were times when the voice stepped in and possibly changed the direction of my life.

Once when I was small I was running after a ball that had gone into the street when the voice yelled my name. I stopped to look around, trying to find the person who had called out to me. At that instant a car ran the stop sign in front of our house where moments earlier I had been stepping out.

The second time, I was walking on High Street by the Ohio State Campus, at night, and possibly a little inebriated. I decided to take a shortcut through an alley behind one of the more popular establishments. (Papa John’s for those old enough to remember.) As I turned the corner I heard my name called, same warning voice. I stopped and looked down the alley. There was a gang of guys hanging out and the situation did not look like one a lone female should walk through. I back tracked,kept to the main road and walked safely back to my friend’s apartment.

The third time I was driving through South Carolina on my way back to Florida from Ohio. The kids were asleep in the back and Kirk was dozing in the passenger’s seat. I had a tootsie roll pop that I was sucking on, trying to stay awake. We decided to stop once we got into South Carolina but realized there weren’t many hotels on 77 between Rock Hill, where the rooms were sold out due to a softball tournament, and Columbia. I was exhausted. I had the music turned up loud enough to keep me awake but low enough so the kids could sleep. I must have fallen asleep at the wheel because the voice all but shouted my name. I woke up before my tires hit the gravel strip beside the road.

I’m not sure who the voice is. As many of you know I am not a very religious person. As a child I named the voice Thomas.

And I’ve learned to listen when the voice speaks.

Yesterday, I was writing. The words were flowing in a way they haven’t for awhile. Words were coming to me from a myriad of directions. Cacophony, effervescent, abhor, aesthetically, egregious; words I love but somehow am never able to remember with my addled post menopausal brain. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow pass by the French doors of the den and heard my name. I turned, but knowing I was alone in the house knew it was just my friend stopping by to check in.

“Hey Thomas,” I said. “I’m all good, go help someone else.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh What A Night

Last night was amazing. Not your once in a lifetime amazing, one of those, damn I should do this more often kind of things.

It started out like this. During the day I helped my daughter Brooke paint the doors for the cabinets at her new house. Bending over caused me to get a kink in my neck. (It’s the age thing. I never know exactly which part of my body will hurt at any particular moment.) When I got home I made dinner and after cleaning up the kitchen I decided it would be a great night for a good long soak.

I poured a glass of Bordeaux as it goes with everything. I filled the tub; hot water, maximum amounts of suds. I turned the lights down low, lit a vanilla candle and slipped in. The water, wine and candles did their trick. I was relaxed and the muscles were slowly beginning to loosen up.

I sipped my wine.

Half hour later I exited the bath and moved to the shower. It’s a crazy habit. I always rinse off and wash my hair in the shower after a bath. I took time to wash and did the full three minutes conditioning suggested on the bottle. I wrapped the towel around and stood in front of the fogged mirror. After using the blow drier to clear the fog, I put on a facial mask and then brushed, water picked and flossed my teeth. When the mask was good and hard I pulled it off and moisturized.

Next I blew and straightened my hair. I know I was going to bed in less than an hour, but I wanted to look good for me.

Lastly, I put on my red plaid flannel pajamas and walked out of the bathroom. It was a good hour of pampering myself and it was glorious.

I heard the TV on downstairs and heard Kirk and the girl’s talking. But tonight was “ALL ABOUT ME!”

I closed the bedroom door and shut out the noise from below, curled up on the chase in the corner of my room and read.

I sipped some wine. (It’s okay I can brush my teeth again later).

It was the perfect end to my evening.

Monday, November 21, 2011


You have all experienced it. That one brief moment when nature grabs you and holds you and nothing else seems to matter.

It could be as simple as a rainbow on a rainy day. You know. It’s pouring down rain but the sun is shining and you start looking. Then you find it, the myriad of colors painting the incredible arch across the sky.

It could be driving down the road and coming over the ridge and seeing an autumnal landscape. Bits of golds, reds, greens and browns splashed across the country side that in that one sweet moment takes your breath away.

It could be sitting at the beach and watching the storm clouds sweep across the Atlantic. White, billowing, balls of cotton with the steel grey skies as its backdrop. The long threads of water reaching from the sky to the sea in a curtain of black rain, back lit with flashes of lightening, turning into foam as it hits the sea.

Today for me it was sitting on the back porch as a soft rain fell. I looked up in the corner and noticed a spider’s web. The rain was running down the back of the house and a small drip ran down the corner and was saturating the cob web. I watched as tiny crystals formed on the delicate threads. It was quiet and I sat mesmerized as the droplets followed the intricate labyrinth left behind by the spider. As the sun came out the droplets came alive, prisms of light caught in the web.

The whole scene lasted only moments, but I have come to cherish these gifts, these wondrous moments only nature can provide.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Day Sucked

The day started at 6:30 in the morning like this.

Husband -“Honey there’s a leak in the garage under the AC unit.”

Me - Yawn. “What? Where?”

“It started in the attic under the AC unit. Didn’t they just fix that?”

“Yeah.” Stretch.

“Can you call them?”

“They don’t open until 8. I’ll take care of it.”

Move the 35 boxes of cra*, I mean stuff we’re storing for the kids and wipe up the water in attic. Go down to garage under the leak and sigh at the amount of popcorn ceiling that has fallen. Decide to wait to shopvac later after it dries.Husband leaves. I grab a coffee and wait the fifteen minutes to call my friend the AC guy. (My friend as he’s been here 6 times in the last two months.) “Sure,” he says, “I’ll have a guy out at nine.”

Call the groomer. Back nine o’clock appointment to 10 and then call the car dealer to move the oil change and tire rotation until 11.

AC guy comes and fixes the AC. No charge. Check.

Dog to groomers. Check.

Pull into car dealership and all goes according to plan.

“Will you wait?”

“Sure how long?”

“Forty-five minutes.”

Get my book out and sit in the corner. Several of the people are waiting at the same time and I watch as all of them are helped and leave. I’m reading. I look at my watch and notice I have been there for three hours. It’s 2:05. I wander out and the guy that checked me in notices me.

“Why are you still here?”

“Nobody came to get me.”

“I sent ______ to get you two hours ago.” He looks at his watch for verification. “Your papers are in the office. Just pay through there.”

I walk in to pay. The girl says, “$34.20.”

Since I missed the step were a worker goes over the bill with you I say, “Okay,” and hand her my credit card without looking at the invoice.

She hands me back a receipt.

“Wait, I bought the tires here so you are supposed to rotate them for free.”

She takes the paper back.

“So you want me to credit the 13.99?”

“Um Yeah.”

Fifteen minutes later she has tried three times to credit my account. The line is out the door.

“I can’t get the computer to credit your account. I’ll be right back.”

People in line that have been there for the 45 minutes, start sighing. A woman with a small child in a stroller sighs and under her breath says, “This is ridiculous.”

The girl comes back. “The manager wants to give you a free oil change instead of the refund.”

“Great. Wonderful. Thanks so much.”

Phone rings. Dog’s done.

I head towards the groomers and the pharmacy calls with a prescription my Doctor was to call in yesterday. No biggie. It’s on the way to the groomers.

“Wendy Pottinger. My doctor called in a prescription and you called to say it was in.”

“Here you go. No charge.”

I look in the bag. “Wait. I’m allergic to an ingredient in this.”

The cashier hands the bag back to the pharmacist. “Yes, I see it here in your notes. But your Doctor called it in. Doesn’t she know about your allergies?”

“She was the one that discovered it. And we discussed it yesterday. This isn’t what she told me I was going to take.”

“You’ll need to have her call in a new prescription. And since its Friday afternoon we probably won’t have it until Monday.”


Construction on the main road to the groomers is taking three lanes down to one. I wait in traffic and wonder why I feel like I am on the verge of crying.

On to pick up Bailey dog. My one bright point of the day. I walk through the door and his whining greets me. He’s happy to see me.

“I just wanted to let you know that when we did his ears they looked a little pink. You may need to take him next door to Doc’s to get some ointment.”

I get the ointment from the vet. Put Bailey back in the car and we head to McDonalds. For him, not me. He gets his treat and we head home.

But I make one last stop. The corner gas station. I pick up a Powerball Lottery ticket, because after today, I think I deserve the 105 million dollars.

Monday, November 7, 2011


It started out the way most misunderstandings begin. A simple statement taken out of context that escalates into a full-fledged argument.

My husband came home for lunch today, as he does every day, for his turkey over salad, crackers, fruit and protein bar. I was in the kitchen preparing his lunch, as I do most days and he says, “You look nice, are you going out somewhere?” Boom!!!!!

“No I’m not going out somewhere, why?”

“You just look really nice.”

I had curled my hair and put on a little makeup, mascara and lip gloss. And I did have on a pair of Khaki shorts and a pressed white button down shirt. But the comment said to me that I didn’t always look nice when he came home for lunch.

“I didn’t mean you don’t usually look nice,” he started in that, I know I’m not going to win this one fashion.

“After I got done scrubbing the toilets and baths this morning I decided to spend the afternoon writing. And sometimes, if I’m dressed nicer, I feel more professional.”

“So you admit, you are dressed nicer.”

“Nicer than what? Nicer than the man’s boxers and your old football jersey’s I wear in the morning when I’m cleaning? Or nicer than the baggy button ups and yoga pants I wear in the afternoon when I am cooking a three course dinner?”

“I get it. I’m sorry. You look great.”

“Would it have been soooo hard to say that to begin with?”

“No honey you’re right.”

At least that’s how it should have gone.

Instead it was- “I don’t know why you’re so defensive, I said you look nice.”

“Thank you.”

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Shopping. It seems I need some better looking clothes to wear when I’m cleaning the house. And since I’m dressed nice I can leave now.”

In the end there was no argument, no loud disagreement, but I do love my new shorts and tees.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Dear Patrick Swayze and Kevin Bacon,

I would like to take this time to apologize for the bad judgment Hollywood made in REMAKING your films. It seems the powers that be have run out of new ideas for films, so they feel the need to take classics and regurgitate them into a new, more modern spin (meaning less talent and unknown names).

But what about the timeliness of the original movies? How can the new films compete with the costuming and brilliant hairstyles? In Footloose, the 80’s-tastic high waist jeans and white tee shirts, or the burgundy prom jacket with those pants cut a couple inches short to allow the camera man to zoom in on the impressive foot work. Kevin Bacon’s lightly tipped spiky hair style still makes me smile. In Dirty Dancing, the 60’s came alive with the women’s Capri’s, starched blouses and shirt waist dresses. The men in their plaid sport coats were in sharp contrast to Patrick Swayze's tight black jeans, black shirt and black leather jacket. And Swayze’s almost mullet made the bad boy in black role complete.

Then there was the music. Footloose had a myriad of top 10 songs-Kenny Loggins Footloose, Shalamar Dancing In The Sheets, Deniece Williams Let's Hear It For The Boy, Bonnie Tyler Holding Out for A Hero, and the Footloose love theme, Almost Paradise. And with Dirty Dancing the hits just kept coming; (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, Hungry Eyes, Be My Baby, You Don’t Own Me, In The Still Of The Night and the ever popular She’s Like The Wind sung by none other than the main character himself, Patrick Swayze. You can’t hear these songs without thinking about those wonderful movies.

Both shows held an innocence of the times. Both showed a hero and heroine who stand together against an established way of life.

Recently there was talk of remaking Philadelphia Story and White Christmas. The comedic brilliance of Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story would be impossible to replicate. And White Christmas without Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye or Vera-Ellen, well let’s just say, NO!!!!! Leave them alone. Come up with some new stories for the next generation and allow them to watch these originals and learn about the time.

I was reading a story in the paper the other day that quoted a Hollywood producer that said if people didn’t go to them we would stop remaking the movies.

Some movies I feel never needed to be remade….

Brian’s Song, The Blob, Cape Fear, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Death At A Funeral, Heaven Can Wait, Fame, Father of The Bride, Fright Night, Freaky Friday, The In Laws, any and all It’s a Wonderful Life Rip Offs…. I just read that they are planning on remaking Harvey, the extraordinary story of a man, Jimmy Stewart and his six foot invisible rabbit. It was as a child of ten that I first heard the word Pooka (a mischievous creature from Celtic Mythology). For weeks after seeing the movie I pretended to have a friend just like Harvey. His name was Thomas.

I have to stop. It’s too depressing. Just goggle movie remakes and look at the list. And remember next time you go to the movies, somewhere in the Netflix lineup you can find the original and it is s-o-o-o-o-o worth watching. I watched quite a few lately and, honestly, I had the time of my life.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Difference

“Honey,” I say to my husband. “If anything ever happened to me, would you change anything around the house?”

“Not gonna answer.”

“No seriously, it’s for my article this week.”

“Wendy this is one of those, I can’t win moments.”

“I promise not to get mad.”

“And I promise that I don’t believe you.”

“Please, pretty please. When you watch golf all day Sunday I won’t complain.”

Sigh, sigh, and sigh. “I guarantee you, this will not end well.”

“Go. What would you change?”

“First, you seem to have a thing for pillows. On the bed, on the couch, in the chairs. I would do away with all the decorative pillows.”

“Good start. Next.”

“Drapes. You have drapes and sheers on all the windows when we already have blinds. They really aren’t necessary are they?”

“Okay,” I’m now a little unsure about this inquiry.

“And your lasagna. I like it with ricotta not cottage.”

“But I only do that if I’m out of ricotta.”

“You asked.”

“Go on.”

“I like my khaki shorts folded along the front seam, not in half.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“It’s okay, not a big deal.”

“Anything else?”

“You do seem to like all those Yankee Candles. Once they burn down I probably wouldn’t replace them. (Like he could live without the hazelnut coffee smell permeating the kitchen.) And the flowered furniture in the sitting room, that would have to go.” (The fact that he called it a sitting room tells me the flowered furniture might stay.)

“Is that it?”

“That’s all I can think of.”

Kirk gets up out of the chair and I remark that I am not finished with the article.

“Do you want to know what I would change?” I ask.

“I don’t care. I’ll be dead.”

And therein lies the difference between men and women.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What’s This

I was going through my closet today. A task I must admit I put off as long as possible. But something happened recently that made me decide it was the right time. Once you read this posting you might agree.

It started like this. A friend of mine’s mother recently passed away. My friend happens to be the only child living in the area so it was up to her to take care of the belongings left behind by her mother.

I offered to help.

We entered the condo and even though her mother was a clean freak, we were both a little overwhelmed by the sight that greeted us. It seems her mother was a collector. Hundreds of teacup and saucer sets sat lovingly displayed throughout the living and dining spaces.

“Don’t worry,” my friend smiled. “The girl’s from church are packing up the china.”

We headed to the bedroom, boxes in tow.

“Everything goes to Goodwill. Mom was so tiny none of us would fit into them anyway.”

She started in the closet and I took the drawers. It was a strange feeling going through someone else’s clothes. Packing the sweaters and shirts, the slacks and shorts and probably twenty nightgowns that still had the tags on them. I was half way through when it hit me. Someday, someone would have to go through my things. And although I hope it’s no time in the near future, it will happen.

That thought stayed with me when later that evening, I entered my closet and looked up and down the long procession of hanging clothes. (I have to put in a note here. I have lived in this house for over twenty years. That’s my excuse!!!) I decided to organize and clean out so that when my children have to pack my things away, they’ll think, “Boy was she organized.”

SO - I started at the back. First were baggy pants, size eight, I laughed out loud. Then came my High School letter jacket and several sweaters I had when we use to ski in Ohio, thirty-five years ago. I noted that as I made my way down the line the numbers grew; 8,10,12,14, I’ll just stop there. I also realized I obviously had a love affair with flannel. I have to be honest though, several of the flannel and corduroy shirts were from my father and both my grandfather’s closets. Those will be with me until the end. But in Florida, a girl only needs so many heavy shirts and sweaters. I use to keep them because I went to Ohio every winter, but the ones I bought on a yearly basis have eventually gone out of style. Who knew shoulder pads wouldn’t last?

I trudged on. Four bags later the closet was better organized and I felt proud of my accomplishment. Then I looked at Kirk’s side. Dress shirts, dress pants hung with coordinating colors. Long sleeve tees, black, blue, grey, white followed by short sleeve tees in the same order. On the opposite wall hung his golf pants. You guessed it black, grey, blue, Khaki, next to golf shirts, golf sweaters and wind and rain jackets. All flowed, dark to light and all the same medium shirt, 32 x 32 size pant he’s had since high school.

I looked at my end and then his. I came to this conclusion. If anything ever happens to us both at the same time, my kids will be flipping the coin to see who gets the “Good” side.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

My wonderful child bought me a gift that she thought I would love. A small handled jar opener. Not the kind that actually cuts the top off a can, the kind that you slip around the top of a screw top lid and tighten, allowing you to unscrew the lid. I guess it had come to her attention that I complained that I no longer have enough strength in my hands to open jars. I wasn’t worried; if I couldn’t open a jar I would just call my husband and hand it over.

But the gift got me to thinking about a few other gifts one might receive that showed the passage of time.

* Large print books and Playing cards

* Magnifier in the kitchen to read recipes and backs of boxes for instructions

* Large clasp that hooks on zippers so you can zip and unzip to your heart’s content

* Slippers with non slip rubberized bottoms

* Hand and feet warmers

* Foot massage or as they are advertised- Hydrotherapy Foot Bath

* Any fruit or food of the month club

I have to admit, some of the items I would love to have. However, with seven pairs of reading glasses scattered about the house, the magnifier is completely unnecessary.

My Mother always taught me that it is the thought that counts. And I have to admit I can open jars without calling anyone for help. I just worry Kirk will feel unneeded. Maybe once and awhile for old times’ sake I’ll ask him anyway. Probably when I have mistakenly put the jar opener in the refrigerator and can’t find it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Writing this article I am sure to make two different groups of friends mad.

When I first moved to Florida, I hated it. Take into consideration that I was seven months pregnant and moving from a small town where I was surrounded by people who loved me. My hometown was a wonderful safe haven where I was fourth generation. My family had been around from the beginning and both Grandfathers were instrumental in the foundation when it was a small farm village.

I was 1200 miles from everyone I loved, in an apartment so small that I could cook up a hamburger on the stove in the kitchen while sitting on the sofa in the living room. My husband was a first year public accountant and worked 800 hours overtime in the first three and a half months of the year.

I was alone. I was 22 years old and had a new baby. I loved being a mom but I was so homesick and I took my unhappiness out on my location. Florida. I hated the heat, I hated the transient climate, (I made two friends and they both moved away within three months) and I hated the stupid palm trees. I told anyone I knew that I thought they looked like sticks with long stringy hair on top.

I missed my seasons. Seasons allow you to see time pass. Winter snow, sledding, skating; Spring rains, flowers blooming, trees blossoming; Summer sun, pool days, cookouts; Fall cool, football games, raking leaves, jeans and sweatshirts, hiking Old Man’s Cave.

But Florida was green all year round. The first year we actually went to the beach on Christmas Day. It was monotonous, the people flighty, the summers unbearable. (If I had a dollar for every person that said they moved to Florida to start over or get away from a bad situation, I’d be a rich woman.) I suppose it had to do with the fact that we lived in a small apartment complex and rarely meet any of the natives outside the concrete walls.

Then in late August, when we were about to have our first child, Hurricanes David and Fredrick struck within a week of each other. My doctor said, “Get to the hospital.” Something about barometric pressure. Let’s just say that the anxiety of two major storms coming a week before my due date put another nail in the coffin of Florida.

Two years into our Florida stay we were transferred back to Ohio. I was thrilled beyond belief. Home, where weather changes and family and friends were in abundance. And I mean abundance. The snow the year we moved home met an all time record. I shoveled snow and dressed, then undressed the kids for outdoor activities at a rate that would send the most brilliant time manager over the edge.

Then it happened. Three years in the cold, gray Ohio winters and a promotion sends us back to Florida. But this time we got a house. The kids started school and our group of friends grew. We started feeling the effects of the seasons. The first few years here we swam year round. Now we were putting on coats in the cold 60 degree winter.

But the turning point actually occurred when I went home seventeen years ago when my Father passed away. It was February and as I flew into Port Columbus I looked out over the grey landscape and missed my green. I’d come to count on the flowers blooming year round and the ability to grab the kids and head to the beach at a moment’s notice. I loved listening to the waves break on the shore and watching the pelicans and seagulls float on the air. I cherished my drives down to Marshall Wildlife Area where I could walk around the beginning of the everglades surrounded by the exotic wildlife.

I still don’t understand Palm Trees and I still consider Ohio home, but I don’t think I’d ever move back. I have come to love the warmth and the green, besides as my incredibly brilliant husband says, “you can always fly to the snow!”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Say What?

Last week I made a visit to my friend Mavis. I sat and talked for an hour, well actually 55 minutes. That’s all the time allotted for her clients. I’m not crazy, but once in awhile it’s nice to sit and talk to someone outside the family, outside that group of friends with whom you spend your time socializing.

I first visited her when my last child went off to college. Since I was more or less a stay home mom, I wondered where this new phase of my life would take me. I would pass the kids rooms and the made up beds, the clutter free spaces only reiterated the feelings of being alone.

My husband was great. He would sit and talk to me. We would go out to dinner, we tried everything. I put on the mother’s smile and pretended. But I cried at everything. I mean to say I cried more than usual, I’ve always been a crier. Now I would cry sitting at a stop light, walking through the aisles at the grocery store. I knew I needed to talk to someone, and I needed not to be judged.

I went to Mavis. She was a friend of a friend. We talked, about everything. Secrets even my family have no idea’s about. Nothing sinister or earth shattering, but we all have things in our past that we just don’t want out there in the light. Her office was my one place where I could find that bit of insight and serenity I desperately needed to get through that time.

The things she told me weren’t so different from anything anyone else had said. But she talked to me in a way that made me come up with the solutions. Maybe I should volunteer with a children’s charity. Find a part time job. Write. Take time to find out who Wendy is now that she’s not ______’s Mom.

This time the visit was about my own expectations. My Mom’s thinking of selling her home of 55 years and moving to a condo. She seems to be counting on me to help her with the decision. My kids all seem to be in flux in their lives, looking towards new jobs and new directions. More times than not the calls come to me. And as Mavis told me one of my biggest problems, as well as asset, is that I’m a fixer. When someone says they have a problem I will jump in with both feet to help them resolve the issue.

SO - now I am working on letting people solve their own problems. My first question will be, ”What do you think?” And when I hang up the phone I’ll put the problem away and go write or garden.

Yeah right!!!!

Anyway, I promised to try.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Should I Say

I was talking to a friend the other day that had recently lost her mother. She kept saying, “It just feels weird, I can’t explain the feeling.”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. Sixteen years ago I lost my Dad. He was the hero you read about, the guy that stands up for injustice and believed in helping those less fortunate. He had a good time wherever he went and I felt pride when people would say, you look just like your mom but act just like your dad. He wasn’t perfect, he was human.

But when he died I remember walking around and the strangest feeling would come over me. Then one day I realized how it felt. It was as if something had been amputated. A limb had been snatched from somewhere deep in my being. I’d feel it there at brief moments, possibly like an amputee might still feel their missing appendage. But then it would be gone.

I tried to explain this feeling to my friend and a look of understanding crept across her face. “People,” she said, “kept telling me it was a blessing as Mother had Alzheimer’s. But losing her feels like anything but a blessing.”

Maybe it was because of all my years working at a Ronald McDonald type house. I sat with a Mother during organ donation procedure before taking her child off life support. I helped plan a funeral for an infant and sat with parents while we waited for oncology reports. People don’t want to hear, it was a blessing or that it was God’s plan. They want to hear that you’re sorry and understand, but mostly they want to tell you about their loved one, share experiences and memories.

So I sat with my friend as she reminisced. I told her you will always miss that part of your life. I talk to Dad every day, usually when I’m out in the yard or doing some home improvement activity. When I see something he would love, an incredible sunset or just beautiful wildflowers by the side of the road. It helps keep him in the special little place in my heart, tucked in safe and sound, protected from the pain. He’s my biggest fan and most brilliant critic. And he is always with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Want It Now!!

Yesterday, the Bailey dog and I were walking through the neighborhood, stopping every few seconds to sniff and pee. The dog, not me. We have lived in the immediate area for twenty some years but because of the transient Florida phenomenon; most neighbors have come and gone. In fact I think there are only eight original owners.

So I was walking in the cul-de-sac a few houses down and ran into a neighbor who has also been here since the area was developed. She and her husband were older than most of the residents as they had retired to the area. There were balloons tied to the mailbox and she told me she had just celebrated her eightieth birthday.

In front of their yard, under a huge oak tree they had placed a bench so they could sit and watch the neighborhood kids playing. Bailey and I decided we could use a short respite from the walk. It was over ninety in the afternoon sun and the bench in the cool shade where the wind was just tickling the tree branches beckoned us over.

We sat and talked about the changes in the area, about not being able to watch the shuttle take off over the trees anymore, and about time passing.

“I think the thing that makes me saddest,” she said, “Is that everyone wants everything right now. There’s no joy in waiting for something.”

A story, I was interested.

“When I was a girl we would wait each week to listen to our shows on the radio. Then when we got a television, the family would get together weekly and watch our special programs. That was the payoff. Now we dvr, we use on demand. That’s what life is about now, on demand.”

I got what she was saying. My son who works retail said the same thing to me. Parents come in demanding to get an early copy of a video game, why should their kid have to wait. It’s because we are all use to instant gratification. We want it now and most of the time we can get it right now. But when we can’t, we don’t understand.

The apps on the phone give us instant info on the store you need to find, what movie’s playing where and even where you are at all times. (______ just checked in at Yard House). You want that top from Gap? Order it online and have it shipped, don’t want to wait the 3-5 business days? Overnight it!

And wait, you can’t afford it? You can get it instantly, just fill out this credit application and we will approve you in three minutes.

I spent a wonderful half hour talking to this lady. I understood her concerns. I too like the anticipation of waiting for good things to come. But I also enjoy the conveniences modern technology affords. Maybe there should be a happy medium. Soon, technology will be available where you just have to think about something and it will appear. We’ll never have to leave the house.

Thank God for Bailey dog. He makes me stop and appreciate the world one sniff at a time.