Cul-de-sac Chronicles

The Chicken & Rice Solution

The kids will be here in time for lunch. I’m making chicken & rice soup this morning. I know it’s a fall/winter thing, but it’s my son’s favorite childhood food, and for some reason I haven’t made it for him for a long time. The last time he was here, he said, “I haven’t had chicken & rice soup for a long time.” I said, “I know. Only a few days ago I was thinking that it’s been ages since I made it for you, and how as soon as the weather cools down I should make it.” He said, “Really?” I said, “Sure.  Then, he said the strangest thing, “Good. I thought maybe it was a passive aggressive thing… that you didn’t want to make it for me.”

OMG!

Is that the funniest? I had no clue. Do we ever know what’s going on in someone else’s head? You can think you do, but you do not. I felt bad, and then I wondered why I hadn’t made if for so long. Mothers are so ridiculous, but there you have it.

H and I managed to get into a considerable kerfuffle over nothing yesterday.  We seldom argue, but one of us was tired (me) and the other was edgy for some reason. We both took a nap, and marital bliss reigned in the cul-de-sac once again. We’re like toddlers. Naps do a huge service for our dispositions.

I seldom mention it here, but the news is horrifying. It’s too much to absorb, too much to make sense of. I cannot watch, and I cannot not watch. It’s like eating something bitter. I try a little, and then I back off. Then, I hold my nose and dive in again. I can’t decide if our world will be a fit place for my grands or if perspective is impossible to come by with access to so much information. If you were locked in a hospital for the mentally ill for a year, your perspective would be askew. That’s how I feel about watching too much news. It’s so grim, we should all play with puppies a couple of times a day to cleanse our mental palates. A little chicken & rice soup would be good for our world and a mama who would cook it for us and then make us take a nap. Oh, if it were only that simple.

 

 

 

Waiting…

grilling-cartoonThe kids are coming for the weekend. I decided to have an honest-to-goodness Labor Day Weekend cookout – burgers and dogs, apple pie for dessert and cupcakes. Cupcakes with pink frosting, mind you. H just went down to make the coffee, and we’re going to drink it on the deck. Then the cooking begins. I like to make as many things as possible before they arrive. There’s less to do after they get here and more time to spend with them.

I guess it really is the end of summer. Can you believe it? We had the most beautiful weather this year, and I can say that we did not let most of those summer days go by without enjoying them. I spent more time outside, in my yard and taking day trips than I can remember.

 

Oops. The coffee is ready and so am I.

What are you doing this weekend? I hope you have a lovely Labor Day 2014!

 

 

Good Grief

IMG_7540The Dream

I think I was flying through the air when I woke around 4:30, or maybe I was on the floor, or maybe it was when my head hit that table up there. I was dreaming. I was with an old friend, Howard, the husband of a close friend. Howard and Flora lived across the street from us and two houses down when we lived in Maryland.

There was a little boy. I don’t know if it was my son, my grandson or another child. Something was wrong with the boy. He was fretting and didn’t want to go to bed. Howard and I finally got him to bed, but I didn’t feel right about it. I soon heard the boy screaming in terror. There was an eerie glow emanating from his room, and the sound of what I somehow knew were mischievous, little creatures. The uneasy sound of their pernicious giggling and furtive scurrying about did not feel right. I knew they were of the male gender, but not men or boys. Something else. I knew intuitively that they had come for the little boy’s soul. I began running toward the door to the child’s room. When I got to the door, I launched myself into the room, screaming for them to get away from the little boy, and that’s when I woke, flying through the air, slamming my head into my bedside table. I felt something wet and thought I had spilled my water, but it was my elbow. It was bleeding.

H jumped out of bed. I was still screaming and disoriented. He got me up and off the floor. I still didn’t know which way was up. I had knocked the table about two or three feet from its original position. It’s a big, old drum table – solid wood and heavy. My head had moved it, my head along with the full weight of my body behind it.

What a night, and no, I’ve never read either of those books on the table. I don’t know where the bottom one came from, and the top one is one that my sister recommended, but she and I had completely different tastes in books. I kept telling myself that I’d read it one day for her, but I never did. So, there it sits. I can’t believe I didn’t knock the lamp over.

Stye Guy

You say sty; I say stye.

H has a stye. When I look at him, all I can see is a giant stye. H is nothing more than an appendage of the STYE! Do you remember when I got pinkeye from the Grand Trio? More accurately, H contracted pinkeye from the grands, and passed it along to me.  I hold him responsible for the entire fiasco. Huge, puss-colored tears ran from his eyes. His doctor said it was the worst case of pinkeye he’d ever seen. Horrible! Now he has a stye.

I looked it up last night. Though rare, it can be contagious. Exactly how long did you think it would take to make this about me?

If they are rarely contracted from another person, how do you get a stye? A stye is caused by staphlococcal bacteria that is found in the nose. Basically, H wiped snot into his eye. Yup. I don’t know this for a fact, but hey, Mr. Google does not lie. So, he must have touched his eye after blowing his nose.

I found that a hot compress on the eye for fifteen minutes applied three or four times a day can help encourage the sty to rupture and drain faster. H started that last night before he went to bed and did it again this morning. He also put “Stye” ointment in the offending eye, and it’s much better this morning.

Here are a few things to know about eye styes. You knew it was coming.

1. The first signs are pain, redness, swelling and tenderness.

2. Styes typically don’t cause vision problems.

3. A stye is caused by staphlococcal bacteria.
This bacterium is found in the nose and is transferred easily to the eye when you rub your nose, then your eye. (The way I read this … H has poor hygiene. He needs to wash his hands more often. Just sayin’. I’m only putting it out there. A teeny, tiny, little suggestion.)

4. Styes are contagious, but…
Pretty much everyone has this stye-causing bacteria in their body. We all, at any age, have the potential to develop a stye without outside contamination.

5. Most styes heal on their own within a few days.
You can encourage this process by applying hot compresses for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day, over the course of several days.

6. Never “pop” a stye.
You shouldn’t pop a style like you would a pimple. Allow the stye to rupture on its own.

Source: All About Vision

Are your eyes itching yet?

Added later ~

A conversation after H read this post.

Bella ~ How’d you like it.

H ~ Like it?

Bella ~ Yeah.

H ~ You’re a sweet heroine battling Satan to save a little boy’s soul, and I’m an oozing pore with lousy hygiene.

Bella ~ Pretty much.

Williamsburg

IMG_7485Last week, we drove down to Williamsburg for lunch and a little walk about. We ate lunch on the patio at the Trellis. I got the black bean cake, but I can’t remember what H ordered. I’d like to find a good recipe for bean cakes. They’re so good for you, but quite musical… if you know what I mean. I’m surprised H didn’t kick me out of the bed that night. I should have preformed a Dutch oven on him. Do you know what that is? It’s when you poot and pull the sheet over your partner’s head. Never say I didn’t teach you anything. Urban Dictionary is a fountain of information, and who am I to keep it all to myself. We ate at the table to the left of the lady in the pink shirt (or is that a man?), the one that the fellow in the blue shirt is bussing. IMG_7497
This was our view.IMG_7492
Have you ever noticed how often I manage to get a garbage can in my day-trip photos? You’d think it was on purpose, but not so. I think I just have a talent for it, but you don’t keep streets with heavy pedestrian traffic as clean as that one up there without strategic garbage can placement.

We didn’t take the tour. It’s probably been fifteen years since we did that. The last time was when my sister and her husband were visiting. We still lived in MD and drove down to Williamsburg and stayed overnight. I remember that H got a speeding ticket on that trip. We did the tour – the whole shebang. I hadn’t done that since my seventh grade field trip in 1963. I still have my tiny horseshoe with my name on it that the blacksmith made for me. I wonder if they still do that? It was also the first time I ever saw color television. There was a television in a lobby or somewhere that we stopped for a break. I can’t really remember, but the picture was lousy. Everything had a green cast.

I can’t believe that this maple tree is already changing. Our poplar in the back yard is just beginning to turn. It’s always the first.IMG_7504

I noticed only one disheartening thing. It’s been a while since I’ve been into Williamsburg proper. I’ve always loved the timelessness of it, the unchanging nature of it.  Its integrity has been fearlessly protected. I noticed that Chico’s has managed to sneak in the back door. I hope it isn’t the beginning of chain creep.

So that’s our most recent day trip. I’m not sure where we’re going next. We may go up to Annapolis, but we’ll probably stay overnight. I guess that doesn’t qualify as a day trip, but it should be fun. I haven’t been there since we moved. There was a time when you could find me there just about anytime. When we were in MD, we lived only a few minutes away. I’d like to get some photos and eat some sushi at Joss Cafe & Sushi Bar and maybe visit my old neighborhood.

The Mean Reds


IMG_7532I felt out of sorts all morning, and that’s enough of that. I reverted to my former stressed self, someone I haven’t been for months. I didn’t feel well and became a nasty, grumpy version of me.  After shaking his head, H fled to the kitchen to make his magic lower-your-cholesterol oat bran (stud) muffins. Then he found something else to do, and now he’s doing something else. I don’t ask what, and I won’t ask. The man deserves to be left in peace.

Our powder room got a fresh coat of paint this week. Why not? I do the trim and cut in (love brush work), and H does the roller (hates brush work). We are a team. If you’ve read here for a while, you know I have to paint something at least bimonthly: a bookcase, a room, an old iron bed, a milk can, a light fixture, the porch. It’s my version of practicing Zen. I don’t know what works for you or if you have a special thing that calms your spirit, but I hope you do. Writing and painting do it for me.

Our powder room really did need a little sprucing up. It’s been over ten years… so I’m not just running around willy-nilly if that’s what you think, but I admit that when I get a case of the mean reds, I do have a tendency to notice something that needs painting “this very minute.”

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

Paul Varjak: Sure.

Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

And eating some childhood food helps the mean reds, too. This is what I had for lunch.ravioli

There you have it. My non-medical remedy for the mean reds. Um, not all of those. Only one bowl.

Book Club

I finished my last book club selection, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. Do you remember when I told you that one of the book club’s “suggestions” was to stick to nonviolent books? They specifically mentioned the holocaust as an example. I wasn’t at the meeting when they chose Unbroken so I don’t know how they came to choose it.

I’m not a book reviewer but just a few words. Unbroken is about an incredible man, Louis Zamperini. He was a POW in several Japanese POW camps during WWII. He endured the most inhumane treatment imaginable and survived. This is a book worth reading, and it has enjoyed favorable reviews, but be prepared. It is a laundry list of degrading, inhumane and barbaric treatment of POWs. Though there were isolated incidents of kindness from some, most of Louis Zamperini’s captors were gifted in their ability to strip every shred of dignity from a human spirit. Assuming you’re not a sociopath, you will have the mean reds for days after reading this book. Though Louis Zamperini’s survival and the way he chose to live his life after the war are inspiring, it took me a while to get there. It’s difficult to shake the knowledge of what some humans do to other humans and the satisfaction they derive from doing it. Louis Zamperiani deserved to have his story told, but Unbroken is not an easy book to read. So much for nonviolent selections for my book club.

Mammoth Moths, Bucket Lists and Corn

IMG_0005We were decking it the other night when this walloping monster of a moth glided across the backyard to land on the crepe myrtle. Have you seen one of these before? I believe it’s a luna moth. This one looks a little chewed upon around the edges. H took the photo with the iPad. He’s really a beautiful thing.

A better photo of an un-chewed luna moth that I found on Google Images.

lunamoth 

H cooked dinner a few nights ago. He’s really learning. We had fish, green beans and corn on the cob. Oh, my. Let me just sing the praises of that corn. He shucked the corn, removed the silks, saturated paper towels, wrapped the towels around the corn and cooked three ears for 8 or 9 minutes in the microwave. I think our microwave is a little slow so you might check  your ears at 7 minutes. The moisture from the towel steams the corn. It was so wonderful. Have you ever noticed how everything tastes better when someone else cooks it?

We spend an inordinate amount of time discussing, planning, shopping for and preparing meals. It’s this retirement thing. I know H officially retired from his “real” job over twelve years ago, but he immediately got a part-time job, and I soon started caring for Dad. We never had a spare minute. We are no longer only technically retired. We are truly retired now. We have time to make doctor appointments, go to said doctor appointments, shop, watch a movie, go to dinner with friends, cook dinner for friends, play golf, join book clubs, take vacations. Who knew retirement could be so much fun?

The luxury of time is a wonderful thing, but isn’t it ironic that by the time we are finally gifted with the luxury of determining how we spend our time, there isn’t a lot of it left. You can do as you wish each day, but the days are disappearing at a stunning rate. Before I know it, it’s next week, next month. Poof! A year is gone.

I can’t say that I want to do anything in particular with my time. This seems sacrilege because our time is finite. It feels like I should be doing something less trivial. My days are filled with little things: planning dinner with H, reading, doing some project around the house. People ask, “So, what are you doing in retirement.” I have no good answer, but I do know that I love it, and I’m busy everyday. What’s not to love about spending your days the way you decide to spend them.

Patsy came over for dinner a few nights ago. While we sat on the deck, enjoying the perfect evening, she asked me if I had a bucket list. I did a double take and realized that I did not. I never have, unless visiting the Great Pyramids makes a so-called bucket list, but don’t you need more than one item to make it an official list? I’m not traveling long distances to stand in long lines these days. Every organ in my body would object, but most especially my bladder.

I find pleasure in simple things. The simpler the better. My birds do it for me, planning great meals, eating fresh, locally grown tomatoes, my grands, friends and H, of course.

You gotta have friends.

Our friends have dwindled in numbers over the past few years. Some have died, some have moved, and we lost contact with a few. It happens. But we still have some very good ones, and I find myself noticing their slow rotting. I know. What is wrong inside my head? I can’t help myself. Like a mother hen, I can’t afford to lose a single one. I watch through veiled eyes as this one’s skin takes on a sallow appearance, or that one moves a little slower, or this one groans a little louder when getting out of a chair.. LOL I wonder what they’d think if they only knew I was chronicling their slow slide. They’re probably chronicling mine, too. Oh, my gosh. I didn’t think of that. All of my friends are not ancient, and some are in pretty good shape. Better than I am, but as I age, so do they. They’re having cataract surgeries, knee surgeries, hip surgeries, and there have been a couple of cancer scares a heart attack and a partridge in a pear tree. I want them to stop this business. It’s enough already.

I talked to a friend a few days ago who heralds the value of cinnamon, fish oil, some concoction that makes your hair grow and some $179.00 bottle of magic that will make your diminishing eyelashes and eyebrows (the ends of her eyebrows have disappeared) return, another bottle of something that will make your skin as supple as a baby’s behind. She used the $179.00 bottle of goop on her eyebrows and eyelashes and it worked. She had eye lashes as thick as when she was twenty and the ends of her eyebrows reappeared. She was thrilled… BUT… no one noticed. She decided that $179.00 was too much for fabulousness that no one noticed.

After Patsy had gone home, I thought about her bucket list question. Should I have a bucket list? I don’t. There are books I want to read and meals I want to eat and day trips I want to take and new flowers I want to try on my extra shady deck, but I don’t think those things are in the spirit of the bucket list challenge. The Great Pyramids, now they’re bucket list-worthy, but they will have to wait for another lifetime. Who knows? Maybe I saw them in the last one. ;-)

Porch Sittin’

imageThis is the most gorgeous evening. There’s enough breeze to ring the chimes and the thermometer is hovering at a blissful 78º. Though it isn’t here yet, I can smell fall, idling just around the corner. Here, boy. Here, boy. Come to Mama.

The Meeting

Can we all get along? — Rodney King 1991

In 1984, when we moved into a new community in Maryland, we got “involved.” We were in our thirties and had a kid. That seems to be about the time when people get all in a dither about making their little corner of the world a better place. So we served on committees and went to meetings and made suggestions, etc. It was all good, pretty much. There were a few grumbles along the way. One neighbor was angry when her daughter wasn’t approached to fill one of the vacated lifeguard positions at the pool. Another got her nose out of joint when her yard wasn’t chosen for Yard of The Month because it was so much more beautiful than her neighbor’s yard, who did win. You can’t avoid those things. Cannot.

So, my friend Patsy serves on the HOA board for her condos. I’ve never understood how Patsy ended up on this board. I think she wonders, too. She is not the type, but I think her friend Marian convinced her. Marian is the president of the HOA. One of the other board members, Clair, decided she no longer wanted Marian to be president. She didn’t only want her to relinquish the presidency, she wanted her off the board altogether. She felt that Patsy and Marian voted together too often, and that their court received more attention than the other courts.

Patsy and Marian probably do see things the sam way, and probably do vote the same on a number of issues, but their court did not receive favoritism. The records proved that their court actually received fewer funds than the others, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? Ask President Obama or any president we’ve had since 1960. Perception matters. But it turned out that Clair and two residents, Mr. and Mrs. Satellite, had their own documentation – a photo.

Many of the condos have trees in the front yards. When the condos were built, Bradford Pears were all the rage, and that’s what the landscapers chose. Bradford Pears are pretty when they bloom in spring, and that’s about it. They’ve since improved upon some of their shortcomings, but twenty-five years ago, Bradford Pears were short-lived, the limbs were weak and tended to break as the tree matured, the roots buckled the sidewalks, and they were just too darned big for condo application. Over the years, most of them were replaced with the much more appropriate and less destructive crepe Myrtle. Marian decided that she did not want a crepe Myrtle and requested an ornamental cherry, also an appropriate tree, but it was not a crepe Myrtle, and would prove to be the lightening rod for the attempted coup d’état.

It turns out that Mr. Satellite, several years ago, when it was first planted, took photos of Marian’s ornamental cherry. Um hmm. Aren’t you impressed? This is a man who plans ahead. He kept that photo all this time. Truthfully, I wasn’t clear on why the photo mattered so much. I mean, the tree is still there, right in front of Marian’s condo. The board could have simply taken a field trip to look at it in person. Didn’t the jury do that in the first O.J. Simpson trial? But they would use the photo in another meeting.

Clair and the Satellites requested and received a private meeting with the condo managers. They lodged their complaint, showed their photo and requested that Marian be relieved of her duties immediately. This did not happen. This private meeting was held before the regular board meeting. So they would try again then.

The board only meets every three months. All of this cloak and dagger stuff among Clair and the Satellites occurred between meetings. They were fired up and loaded for bear by the time the meeting rolled around. Marian, tipped off by another resident, had her own buckshot. She had written a three-page, single-spaced rebuttal to all the hoopla. Besides that, she had the “record” that proved that her court had not received more funds.

Patsy can’t get a head of steam up over these kinds of things. She’s a laid-back sort. She viewed the whole kerfuffle with amusement, but I know she did have a dog in the fight. She likes Marian and felt the Satellites and Clair should have talked to Marian directly instead of launching a private meeting.. The board meeting finally arrived. Patsy called to tell me she was leaving her condo, and if she didn’t call in two hours, I should send out the militia.

Marian gave her speech. Clair was straight-faced and stern. Marian explained that her ornamental cherry costs less than the crepe Myrtles. “But that wasn’t really the point, was it?” Clair countered. Marian got something different. She got to choose her tree. Marian explained that everyone could choose, and it wasn’t her fault if Clair got a crepe Myrtle, furthermore, knowing someone took photos of her tree made her feel stalked, and she found it more than a little creepy that a grown man would carry a picture of her tree around in his pocket, waiting to use it against her at a “secret” meeting with the managers. Clair declared that Marian and Patsy got more “stuff” for their court and their snow was always removed first. Marion denied this and called it nonsense. She maintained that she had served honorably, answered phone calls in the middle of the night, was always polite and helpful when residents approached her while she was walking her dog, she always tried to do the best for her community… and so forth and so on.

The upshot is that Marian was not removed and did not resign. She has at least another year before re-election, and she told them that she had not decided if she would run again, but if they wanted someone else, they should find someone to run. No one was shot or kilt. Nothing made headlines in the paper the next day. The world still revolves, Marian still has her ornamental cherry, and they all meet again in late October. Hopefully, tempers will have cooled. If not, I’ll have more blog fodder. I’ll always vote yea for that.

Do You Hear That

earH has tinnitus – ringing – in his ears. He’s had it for a couple (few?) years. He mentions it from time to time, and tried a couple of remedies but nothing worked. Now I think I have it. How do I know for sure? I’m sitting here in a very quiet office, hearing only the slight thudding taps of my fingertips as they connect with the keys. In between the taps, I hear what I can only describe as background noise, white noise, an ocean of cricket-like sounds that all blend together, or maybe what others would call the ringing of tinnitus.

I don’t know if I would call it ringing. But there you go. That’s me… always wanting a more precise description. Anyway, it doesn’t seem to bother me like it does some people. I mean, you have to hear something. It may as well be an ocean of far-away crickets. I don’t even remember what it was like before, and I’m wondering if I’m just making the whole thing up so I can be as special as H.

We were supposed to go to Williamsburg yesterday, but I couldn’t sleep all night Thursday night. I don’t do that very often anymore, but there I was, wide-eyed and no where to go, so I visited some of you. I feel like I’m in a real neighborhood. When I can’t sleep, I take a walk through the neighborhood, turn left on this street or right on that street, cross the ally and knock on your kitchen door to see if anyone is awake and willing to tell me a story. I always find someone. After a few stories, I return to bed and sleep like Rip Van Winkle.

I’m thinking about my last post, and how so much was going on in those last months before Dad died. I couldn’t write about all of it. Of course, we all have to decide how much we want to share on the internet when “things” are complicated. You know it’s all there forever. Forever! And your penchant for shoplifting men’s underwear and zesty salsa chips will show up just as your kid is about to secure the Republican/Democratic nomination. Next thing you know, a microphone is shoved in you face, and Geraldo Rivera is asking in that dripping-with-faux-sincerity way of his, “Why zesty salsa chips and not sour cream potato chips?”

And sometimes it’s just that I get tired of hearing myself complain. It’s a throwback to childhood when only my slightly crazy (only in a good way) Aunt Ruby was allowed to complain, and if you ever complained, you were called Aunt Ruby (only in a bad way). Never wanting to be called Aunt Ruby, you grew up knowing that there is a line where sharing your experience becomes plain, old bellyaching. If you cross that line, you will be relegated to the same category as poor, crazy Aunt Ruby who always ate a Milky Way when her “energy got down” or her heart started beating so wildly in her chest she thought she might faint or when her blood sugar was down. A Milky Way was a good remedy for a lot of things in Aunt Ruby’s book, and it’s a good thing because she had a lot of “things” that needed remedying.

A Year Later

IMG_6836A year ago tomorrow, I wrote a post entitled Mush for Brains. I was in the midst of traveling back and forth to Dad’s to fill in the gaps with his caregivers. I seldom slept, had grisly nightmares when I did, ate horribly and had unrelenting low-level anxiety that flared into high-level anxiety the minute another major thing happened. Major things were happening several times a week. Every time I turned around, there was another fire to douse. I remember writing another post during that time that followed my week. I dated each day of that week in June. Only one problem, it was September. I was functioning but not fully.

I wrote the Mush for Brains post on August 8, 2013. I read it again recently. The following jumped out at me.

It’s hard to tell when you’re in the middle of something. A year from now, I could look back at this particular place in time and see a little bump in the road or a deep sinkhole. It’s always easier to see the landscape at a distance and once it’s behind you, not still ahead.

The other thing that strikes me about that post is how much of it was written in a lighter tone than I felt. I was in a very bad place. One of Dad’s caregivers was ready to fly the coop and the others had schedules and responsibilities that limited the hours they could spend with Dad. I had no idea how long Dad would live, that he would be gone in one month, and I had no idea how long I could hold out.

His care was extensive by then. He could do nothing for himself. My health was lousy, and I had barely recovered from a serious health scare. Still, I couldn’t stand the thought of placing him in long-term care. H helped me through it all, but he always made it clear that he believed it was too much for me, and I should consider the long-term care option. Of course, he was the one who comforted me when I woke screaming in the middle of the night. Even my brother was exhausted emotionally, not to mention financially. He  always took the brunt of the bills. Talk about out of control, I had no control over any part of my life. Then I think about Dad. He had none either. He depended on me and my brother.

I was at a low point when I wrote, “A year from now, I could look back at this particular place in time and see a little bump in the road or a deep sinkhole.” Well,  it turns out that it was not a little bump in the road. It was a rough ride, but like all things, it did come to an end. Even though it was more than a bump, it didn’t rise to the desperate level of a sinkhole. More like a deep rut, one of those monsters that can have you at your mechanic’s the next day for a realignment. I remind myself, though, that it could have been worse. I could have been forced to make decisions that I was loath to make.

I always wished that I could see into the future, see what was going to happen with Dad, when he would go. I thought I could manage everything better, make better decisions if I only knew. If he was going to live another year, I could hang on and keep him at home. If he was going to live five more years, I could not. But life happens the way it happens. Maybe there’s a reason for that but maybe not. Maybe it’s all random. We just have to take it the way it comes. Even though I wished I could see the future, I was right. We only see the landscape in its totality when we look back from a distance, not forward.

What did I learn? A lot of things, but this is the one that struck me the hardest. I learned that coping is an important part of living successfully, happily and healthfully.  It’s a huge part of enduring the tough parts of life. I’m not saying I was good at it. I was not, and that’s probably why this was the lesson I came away with. If we can’t control the bad stuff, we better learn to cope. If someone is going to throw us in the ocean, we better learn to swim.

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