Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Struggle is Real

You came up in conversation today like so many days before, only today, I cried.  One minute the conversation was about me needing new eye glasses and the next minute we were talking about how hopeful you were that you just needed new glasses.  You see, it was September and you had started driving again after not being behind the wheel for six months.  You loved that you were driving again.  Even though the doctor said you should have a licensed driver with you in the passenger seat, it gave you a sense of independence and more importantly, it made you feel whole.  It gave me hope.  It gave all of us hope.  Then in a proverbial blink of an eye, you asked someone else to drive.  You went to the optometrist for a check up and a new Rx but the new glasses didn't seem to make much of a difference.  You were disappointed and I was uneasy.

I went away for a weekend in October and when I came back, you told me you had fallen and  made me promise not to tell. I convinced you to call the doctor and you moved your six month follow up appointment up by a week.  We all assured you the check up was for your piece of mind and that the news would be good.  We talked about you returning to work, living alone and having me close by if you needed me.  We made plans for the holidays, talked on the phone and ran errands on the weekends.  On the day of your appointment, we found out you had another tumor. This one was small and in an entirely different area, a walk in the park in comparison to the first one.  Your surgery was a breeze.  You spoke to me hours after surgery and you were back at home in two days, not two months.

By Thanksgiving you complained of no vision in your left eye.  Gaylynn got you a fancy eye patch and we all had dinner together.  The beginning of December, you started radiation.  You fell on Saturday afternoon and again Saturday night.  We went back to the hospital only to learn you had another tumor.  This one was more like the first than the second.  We weighed our odds, listened while the doctors talked, prayed, listened some more then asked you what you wanted to do.  You chose another surgery.  Just one more, you said and so you did.  In pre-op the nurses recognized you.  You asked for an upgrade and frequent flyer points.

We celebrated Christmas with you in rehab.  We had presents in our pajamas and drank mimosas, just like we did every year.  You were happy when you looked at the tree and we took pictures.  The next day you saw the tree again and it was like you were seeing it for the first time.  You started talking less instead of more and my heart broke more instead of less. You went from rehab to in-patient hospice and from hospice, home.   We settled you in your living room and I called your name until you opened your eyes. We desperately wanted you to know you were home.

You died on a Monday in February.  There was a beautiful full moon that evening and I must have taken a dozen pictures of it.  The night was crisp and cool and perfect and I kept thinking of you and your Wolf pack and the full moon. For your encore, the day of your service was unseasonably warm and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  I came home that afternoon to find the first daffodil of the season staring at me from my garden.  I knew it was you.

Most days my heart doesn't break.  God has been good and patient and kind. I've found a balance that serves me well.  But today my heart is broken and the struggle is real. Tomorrow is 19 months since I last held your hand.  I miss your laughter, your face, your sarcasm, your unrelenting support of whatever I'm doing, your companionship, your poor choice in bars, your taste in music and a hundred other things.  In the end, I miss my friend, my partner in crime, my sister.  I just wanted you to know.

I love you,

P.S. Tin Cup is on T.V and I'm watching it as I type. I know that's you but thanks for making it obvious.

Monday, August 29, 2016


       Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up okay but an hour later you’re in tears? Welcome to being me. For some reason I’m off kilter today. As tears course down my face I’m left playing detective. What happened between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m.? Other than not being able to put my hands on a prescription I picked up from the pharmacy over the weekend, not a damn thing. Is my inability to find this item a travesty? Not hardly but it did take me into a rabbit hole of darkness.

     You see, my house is currently a mess. Although I managed to wash my sheets yesterday, I didn’t get much else done in the house. Instead, I spent my day elsewhere. I went to church, did my grocery shopping on my way home, put away said groceries, had lunch with my daughter who travels and I rarely get to spend any quality time with lately, drove her home, came back, stopped by my moms, took a quick 30-minute nap, got up and made dinner for my family, fed the dog, broke up a fight between the dog and the cats, washed the dinner dishes, deadheaded my rosebushes, watered the backyard, moved the laundry, took my grandson out for ice cream, put gas in my car, put the sheets on my bed and collapsed. As I look at this paragraph, I’m tired all over again.

     Why is it that I allow the one thing that is left undone to become my undoing? Is it because my standards are so high? Doubtful. Is it because I was a single mom for so many years that it’s become a habit to beat myself up? Possibly. Is it because as women who work both inside and outside of the home, we are frequently one misplaced item away from losing our shit? My guess is yes.

     What about you? When was the last time you were in tears over a non-issue? Did you let the beast bury you or did you get up, beat the crap out of it with shoe and move on? I let the tears fall and asked God to get me through the day. I shared with both of my girls that I was having a rough morning and they told me they loved me. THEY LOVED ME! It’s a miracle! Me, with my messy house, lost prescription and tear stained face, am loved.

     Suddenly, my day just got better.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Where Does the Time Go?

A few weeks ago over a drink, okay over many drinks, some friends, my daughter and I started talking about my blog. I knew it had been a long time since I posted anything but I could not have imagined it was six, count them, six years since I visited this site. I was amazed to find it right where I had left it. The posts and pictures were there, the comments or lack there of and the memories of my life in my 40's.

As I sit here tonight at the age of 53 and look back; my life is different on many levels yet very much the same. The women I wrote about in Four Dolla Hookahs are still in my life, with the exception of one who now resides in my heart. The husbands and boyfriends of my daughters have moved on but the tenacity, grace and laughter of my girls remain. My sweet "baby grand" is now a tall, strapping 10 year old who still steals my heart but no longer sits on my lap. It's almost unimaginable. Me? I'm older, heavier, with more gray hair and with time marching across my face and my ass. I'm still a God fearing, Jesus loving, wine drinking girl who hasn't gone on a date in longer than I wish to admit. I still pray, curse, work and grocery shop but somewhere along the way, I stopped writing. I don't know why. I just did.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever walked away from something that used to make you happy just because? When you think back, can you put your finger on the reason? Were you too busy, too sad, too medicated or was it just too much work? I honestly can't say why I walked away but the proof that I abandoned this blog stares back at me, frozen in time. It makes me sad to think that over the course of six years I didn't feel compelled to share any. thing. at. all. That changes today.

Join me in this adventure by revisiting something that used to make you happy (and I'm NOT talking about an old boyfriend). Call your cousin, stay up too late watching crappy movies, eat pie, tickle your sister until she pees, something. Just please, don't leave me here alone for another six years. We have too much to offer and life is short. Now I'm off to freshen up my drink and my page.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

4 Dolla Hooka's

This past weekend, I had the privilege of having my very favorite women in world around me for four solid days. There was food, drink, stories and much laughter. On Monday when I had the opportunity to reflect on the weekend, I asked my sister and my mom what they thought the common thread was between all of us women, aged 75 to 20. The answer - strength.

Take for example my mom. She is three weeks shy of her 75 birthday and the oldest "queen" in this bunch. She raised four kids, none of which have committed a serious crime, stayed married to my dad for 50 years, was by his side when he passed and as hard as it has been, she's learned to flourish after his passing.

Then there's 36Oldsgal. A single mom at 17 who lied about her age to get a job at the phone company so she could provide for her family. She retired after a million years with Bell South, married a guy we all love, has a beautiful house that has no mortgage and works at a liquor store so she has "pocket money".

Enter EC, my oldest and dearest friend. We were geographically close for one year and friends for a lifetime. She joined the Army, served in Desert Storm, came home and married the man of her early dreams only to be betrayed by him. She has buried her mom, works for Nassau County in NY and last year bought her first house by herself.

Diva, she's a 35 year old mother of two. She raised her 10 year old son by herself for the first five years of his life. She met a great guy, had a little girl then had the presence of mind to toss her 39 year old hubby in the car last year when he experienced a heart attack in the middle of the night.

Vampgal, well if you read my blog, you know she's my sister. She escaped a marriage to a drug addict at 25, graduated from college at 39, her husband died unexpectedly last year and she allows my mom to live with her when she's in town.

Bebe, well she's from Alabama. Enough said.

Daughter #1, a senior this year at UGA who is working her way through college and earning extra dollars with a photography business.

Daughter #2 became a mom at 16 and for the past three and one half years, has devoted her life to the world's sweetest little boy.

Do you see the pattern? These are the strongest women I know and I make it a point to spend as much quality time as I can with them - together or separately. They make me laugh, comfort me when I cry, curse with me through the aging process and encourage me when I cannot go another day. We may be as cheap as a 4 dolla hooka, but we are as strong as love that binds us together.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going Gray

Did you make a resolution at the New Year? I did. This is very unusual for me as typically they are just a reminder to me on how much I don't follow through. I already knew I wasn't going to stop cursing, lose any significant weight, join an online dating service or any of the other things I think about at the first of every year. Instead, I decided to stop coloring my hair.

Around about the age of 25, I noticed a few gray hairs right in the front of my hairline to the right (my right) of my face. No biggie, I said. Just a little character creeping in to go along with the birth of my girls. Little did I realize that just as all things that start out small, without intervention, they can and will, take over your life.

By 30, I was divorcing Music Man and my gray hairs were morphing into a gray spot about the size of a dime. I chalked this up to the stress and strain of my divorce and the difficulty of taking over a household with two small children. If I brushed my hair just so, you could hardly see it. So, I brushed my hair just so. By 35, I was knee deep in living, carpooling, working, dieting, line dancing, dating, etc., and really didn't give a crap. As long as my hair was clean, I was good to go. By 40, I had uprooted my girls, sold my house and moved to Atlanta. I needed to find a new hairdresser and a new job, so I met Juanita - who is more of a magician than beautician - and she began to highlight my hair. By 45, my dime sized spot was the size of a half dollar, so Juanita began coloring my hair. The funny thing was I had so much gray, that even with all over color, it looked that I had highlighted my hair.

This past December I turned 47. I can't tell you what happened or why, but I decided to stop the madness and let the gray grow out. My confession to stop coloring had Juanita spinning in her chair. We talked about stripping, blonding, cutting and being able to fix whatever happened next. I left the salon feeling like a cross between John Davidson (do you remember "That's Incredible") and Bonnie Raitt. I startled myself every time I looked in the mirror and was the recipient of many "colorful" comments from my family.

Now, a good three months into gray, I feel okay. It's amazing how much money, time and effort I was spending on fighting the fight that I'm growing old. The world didn't fall off of its axis, I wasn't fired for being too old, I haven't attracted the attention of much older men (I can't even garner attention from any men) and my Jack-jack hasn't asked me why my hair is funny. It's just gray. I've lived to experience the true color of my hair, and nothing bad happened. Just don't think for one minute that I am giving up my skin regimen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are We There Yet?

This past weekend, Atlanta was blessed with the prettiest weather of the summer season. The oppressive humidity and chance of rain we had experienced all week was replaced by clear skies, low 80's and no humidity. It was the perfect time to get out doors.

I called the kids and my good friend, Diva. We decided to picnic at Stone Mountain and then attempt to stay for the laser light show. Stone Mountain is a historical landmark on the east side of town that tourists know for it's granite carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. For the locals, it's a place to spend a summer Saturday evening, complete with kids, for only 10 bucks per carload. We decided to meet at Diva's and depart from there.

Now, I've lived in the Atlanta area for seven years and have been to Stone Mountain a handful of times, but I had never driven myself there. Diva's husband, along with my son in law, decided to be the true essence of masculinity and offered to drive. We piled up two wheelie coolers, a soft sided cooler, a handle bag from Panera that was as big as the side of a barn, three kids (two of them under the age of four) and two blankets and headed out. All that was missing was the partridge in the pear tree. Sil needed to stop for beer on the way out, which left Diva's dude as the captain of the ride. While I will be the first to tell you DD is an exceptional artist/musician, I have come to the conclusion that he has no idea how to maneuver around Atlanta. I drive expressways at break neck speed and am familiar with back roads that seemingly take you no where. He drives 60 mph, while listening to obscure music on his iPod. One hour and 10 minutes after we departed the driveway, we arrived at Stone Mountain. This commute is a standard 40 minutes for any one else.

Since we had to park on the lower 40, we strapped on the soft sided cooler, wheelie cooler, Panera bag and Diva's kids to our hips and began our hike. I say hike because once again, we are on a mountain. One third of the way there, I'm panting, my heart is racing and my arm is coming out of the socket from dragging the wheelie cooler behind me. DD is the essence of good humor and begins asking "where are the Sherpa's"? We burst into laughter.

Close to the entrance of the park, we meet up with my family, the other wheelie cooler and brace ourselves for the last hike into the park. Once inside, we grab our piece of real estate, produce enough food and beverage to feed a small army, and settle in for the show. My grandson, hater of all things loud and "boomy" (see post about July 4th) is amazing calm as he plants his bottom in the lap of #2. We watch other people and laser light show. We sing to the music and whisper to each other. We have a wonderful time.

The best part? Before departing the park, we empty the coolers of what has to be 80 pounds of ice and replace it with tired, but happy children. Success!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do You Remember?

Recently, I had a conversation with a co-worker about trying new and different things. This desire to participate in activities other than the norm was inspired by the fact that I am in a rut of sorts. She and I agreed to do at least one thing per month that was outside our comfort zone, or in my case, my zip code.

So, thanks to Facebook, I was invited to a dinner that included people from my old hometown of Miami. It seems this lovely social network has made it possible to detect, track, stalk and then invite folks who are only being polite, to share a meal. I received my invitation from an old neighbor, that I actually liked, so I agreed to go. I also figured it was mid month and my time to do something new was running out (especially since said co worker went to a museum over the weekend).

My high school years were somewhat successful. I managed to make decent grades in honors classes, I sang in the school chorus and had an occasional boyfriend. I didn't wear braces, wreck my car or get caught skipping school. I considered this acceptable and hoped the other folks that were on the guest list would agree. I scanned the list of invitees and when no arch enemies appeared, I agreed to go. For moral support, I enlisted my sister, Vampgal, and my brother to go with me. In typical fashion, he bailed at the last minute and Vampgal and I were left to fend for ourselves.

We arrived at the home of classmate and were greeted by three lovely women. Instantly, a glass of homemade sangria appeared in my hand and pictures of children, theirs as well as mine, appeared on the table. We exchanged pleasant conversation, an occasional laugh, one or two stories of unemployment and a lot of "do you know what happened to" and "do you remember". The house began to fill with other folks from SRHS, all showing signs of aging with hair that is greying, children that are leaving the nest, waistlines that are expanding and stories of parents that are dying. This group would've never sat at the same lunch table in high school, but here we were, sharing the same table some 30 years later.

The night was uneventful, non threatening and enjoyable. I managed to accomplish my goal for the month and even exchanged phone numbers with a gal that I fully intend to have lunch with. Vampgal survived knowing absolutely no one and my brother didn't miss a thing because the girl he was so interested in catching up with was a no show. Even City-girl, my co-worker, said it counted even though it wasn't as cool as the museum.

Now, what to do next month?