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.