Behemoth Lives!

November 4th, 2017. 10:48 am

I received a bit of good news recently. Last August I wrote about the dining room table and chairs my parents owned, which I hated all my life. Here’s a link in case you missed it.  The Behemoth.

 

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I resigned myself to the fact that Behemoth, as well as all the other stuff that didn’t sell at the estate sale was destined for the dump because of the mix up on date the estate sale company scheduled the pick up. It was supposed to go to a resale shop for charity, which made me feel good that it would continue to be useful to someone. Even though I didn’t want any of it, it still bummed me out that all if was just going to turn into garbage.

As part of the deal with the estate sale company (I won’t name them since I don’t want to tank anyones’s business, but let’s just say, my dealings with them weren’t great). Anyway…as part of the deal they were supposed to provide me with a listing of everything that sold for over $50.00, an itemized receipt for what went to charity to be used for tax purposes, and, of course, the check. All within 30 days.

The 30 days didn’t happen. No where near 30 days. When I did eventually get the check after multiple phone calls, I received a nice sunrise. The envelope included an itemized receipt from the charity listing the dining room set AKA Behemoth as being donated!

The estate company didn’t take everything to the dump as they told me they were going to do. Behemoth did end up going to a resale shop along with lots of other stuff, including the extra wall hangings my dad made for his business and never sold. (I have some of them, but thre’s only so much I could take into my house).

It’s silly, because I know it’s just stuff, but I am very relieved to know Behemoth and the rest of the housewares have a chance to be rehomed. Maybe someone with mad upholstering skills can rip out Behomth’s farty chair cushions and make them pretty and non-offensive.  Maybe.

The house has been sold for almost 3 weeks now. I drive by it about once a week when I go into Hartland to grocery shop (it’s on the way) and I think the new owners are doing a ton of remodeling. I can see they added a patio door where windows used to be and there’s been lots of wood delivered and a dumpster out front. This makes me happy. Life does goes on and the house is being reborn.

Yesterday, I saw a lot of tree limbs scattered in the yard. I wondered if Tony’s tree in the back yard got cut down. I hope not. Thankfully, I can’t see the back yard from the road, so I’ll never know. That’s probably a good thing. You can read more about Tony’s tree here. Saying Goodbye

I’m glad that the house is getting reborn, in a new familie’s vision as well as Behemoth having a chance to be reborn, too. And if Behemoth still ends up going to dump someday, I’m glad to not be knowing that, too.

 

November 23, 2017. 11:07am

Summer Solstice Revisited

11/2/17  8:53 am

I’m dreading Saturday night/Sunday morning. That’s the night we turn our clocks back which, in my mind, officially marks the start of my most hated time of the year. Darkness. AKA Winter. I will bide my time through the next six weeks or so until December 21st, the Winter Solstice. I love the Winter Solstice because I know that the worst is over and every single day after December 21st, we’ll get back a few minutes of light. Having it get dark at 4:23 pm instead of 4:21 isn’t much difference, I know, but it’s improvement nonetheless. It’s hope.

As you may remember from my June posting, I’m all about the solstice’s. I love them. This last year, I actually set some goals for myself to accomplish by the winter solstice. Here’s a link to my Summer Solstice Post.  Summer Solstice – The New Year’s Resolution for Commitment-phobes.

I went back and read that post again this morning for the first time since I wrote it. The person who wrote those words is an entirely different person than the person that is writing these words now.  That person didn’t know that her mother would be hospitalized four days later, never to return home. The voice of my writing, the whole tone of the piece, is far different than what I write now.

I find it both scary and exhilarating that life can change in an instant and we never know when it will happen. When I wrote the Summer Solstice piece I knew that my mom had health problems, and I knew that someday she would die, but I had no idea how close at hand that time was.

There have been other times that the life-changing moment has been good. I remember being introduced to Dennis on my first day of work at a new company. I don’t remember meeting a lot of people, I but remember vividly meeting him. It took us years to start dating, but I knew from the start that he was going to be important to my life in some way.

The winter solstice is exactly 7 weeks from today. Back in June, I set three goals for myself to accomplish by December 21st:  1. Write in this blog every day. FAIL 2: Finish the rough draft of a book I’ve been writing for 15+ years. FAIL – ish.  3: Donate a quilt I made to charity. PASS. Twice.

1. Write in this blog every day.  It just didn’t happen. When my mom got sick, I continued to write some, which in fact helped me a lot with the whole ordeal. But not every day. And after she died,  I just couldn’t keep writing about grief.  I honestly didn’t want to and I didn’t think anyone wanted to read it. But I did keep writing here and there and I will continue to try to post more frequently as the grief subsides. That’a my new goal for the winter solstice. There are still good days and bad days and even good weeks and bad weeks so I won’t set an unrealistic expectation to post daily. But I definitely will post more often.

2. Finish the rough draft of the novel I’ve been writing. Even with seven weeks left, I doubt that I will finish it by December 21st. I have been working on it these past few weeks, though. There are many versions, with many different voices that I’ve written and rewritten over the years. My first hurdle is deciding what version — what voice this book will be. I still love the premise and I’m still determined I will finish it.

While I was looking for all the old versions of the book (it’s working title is Killing Time) I found another book that I worked on many lifetimes ago. I started it back in college, on a typewriter. It’s morphed many times since and has been re-typed in many different technology versions throughout the years. Word Perfect on a 5” floppy disk. Microsoft word on a  3 1/2 hard disk. Burned to a rewriteable CD. And finally, copied over from hard drive to hard drive as computers upgraded. Now it’s in the Amazon Cloud drive in both Pages (Apple) and Word (Microsoft format). I read through a bit of it, and like my Summer Solstice post, it’s very different in content and tone from what I write now. it would have to be. The last time I worked on it was probably seventeen years ago or so, and I’ve had a lot of training and done a lot of living between now and then. Reading it is a bit like opening a time capsule and catching a glimpse of what younger me felt and thought. I still like it and I think the story might still have something to say.  This book has a song attached to it. Sometimes when I’m writing a story, a song pops into my head that underscores the theme of the story. I like to play it over and over while I write it. This book’s song is I Came for You by Manfred Mann, so it’s working title is …I Came for You.

Killing Time doesn’t have a song. At least not yet.

So the new goal for the Winter Solstice with regard to writing is to keep plugging away and see how far I get. On one or the other books. Probably Killing Time, but maybe I Came for You if the mood strikes. How’s that for being non-commital?

3. Donate a quilt I made to a worthy cause. I did this one. Twice. When Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas, I donated a lap quilt that I’d finished a month or so earlier to an organization called Quilts of Compassion. Quilts of Compassion go into areas ravaged by natural disasters and they  allow the people to select a handmade quilt to keep and help start their new life. They’re obviously not the first team in after a disaster because a pretty quilt falls way below the needs to sustain life — food, water, shelter. But once the dust settles a bit, they do go in and spread comfort and happiness with their quilts. One of my quilts is part of that effort.

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The second quilt that I donated I made special for the recipient. When my mom was at hospice she was visited twice by a service dog named Gracie. Gracie is an extraordinary dog. She’s well-mannered like all service dogs.  But unlike other service dogs I’ve met who were well-mannered and docile but didn’t show much of their true dog personalities, Gracie exuded joy in the form of tail wags, nuzzles and the occasional lick even though she wasn’t supposed to do that. She also wasn’t supposed to get on the couch in Mom’s room and lay on an extra quilt I kept there, but she did. Every chance she got. And being dog-people ourselves, we didn’t mind at all and we let her.

Gracie is a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier, and she looks almost exactly like Charlie, my mom’s dog, only larger. This is Gracie. Gracie’s mom insisted on laying a towel over the quilt.

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This is Charlie, my mom’s dog. Notice a resemblance?

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We all loved Gracie. She was the only bit of joy we encountered at the hospice. A month or so ago I made Gracie her very own quilt an sent it to her mom. It’s a simple 9-patch pattern that I did with Scottie Terrier fabric I found. Not exactly the same as a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier, but close enough. It used super fluffy batting so it should be extra soft and comfortable. I hope Gracie is enjoying it.

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So, seven weeks out from the winter solstice and only one goal completed out of three? Not so good. But better than zero out of three. We’ll see what the next seven weeks bring. No more bad surprises, I hope!

11/2/17 10:05 am (I went a little over because I had to find and upload the pictures.)

Saying Goodbye

Published October 13th, 2017

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Published October 13th, 2017

October 10, 2017  10:44 pm

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. This is not due to procrastination, lack of ideas or general laziness. It was an intentional choice. Let me explain.

When I write these random musings, it feels more like writing in a diary or a personal journal than it does writing for an audience. There is no filter. It’s easy to forget that other people will read these words once they get released into Internet-land. I think that’s the case with many bloggers, especially those of us that are attempting to capture the day-to-day events in our lives. Especially when those day-to-day events turn out to be life-altering experiences that will forever change the semblance of what defines normal in our lives.

It’s not that I feel that I have over-shared in these blog posts about what I experienced this summer with my mom passing away. I don’t think I have. But I recognize the danger. The temptation even. There’s a freedom in purging one’s self of all the thoughts and feelings that don’t come easily when words are spoken instead of written. So I put myself on a self-imposed moratorium on blog posts this fall.

The reason for my going silent is simple. I did not and do not want to write about selling my mom and dad’s house until the deal is done. And although there are plenty of other things I could have written about, things I’ve done in the past five weeks, tending to and selling that house has always remained foremost in my mind and it felt weird not to write about it in some manner. Call it an abundance of caution or paranoia or maybe even superstition, but I do not want to put anything out there in Internet-land that could jinx the deal. I’m not even sure what I could write that would do that, but the fear is there all the same.

So even though I am writing this Tuesday night, I will most likely not push the “publish” button until Friday afternoon, when the deal is done.

As you may remember, the disposing of my mom’s household items and the sale of her and my dad’s house has been a priority — actually, more of driving need than just a priority, since the end of July. Part of this is because there is a reverse mortgage on the house, and the bank wants their money. I knew if I took several months to list the house, I’d be listing it in October or November and would likely be taking care of it through the winter until it sold come springtime. But more importantly, selling the house is my symbol of moving on past this difficult, shitty summer, past the grief and the shitty memories I’m still trying to stamp out, past this chapter in life that I’ve always dreaded. None of it can be over until the house is gone.

Well, the house will be gone come Friday afternoon. Tomorrow morning (Wednesday morning) I will go to the title company and sign my half of the paperwork as my mother’s official Personal Representative. Friday afternoon the buyers will sign their half of the paperwork and the house will be theirs.

The selling of this house has been extremely stressful for me. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. Obviously, there’s the whole trauma of having my mom die and going through all the household items but it was more than that. I was extremely worried that I would do it wrong. I’d make wrong choices. Which is pretty silly considering I’ve bought and sold four houses and the majority of the times I needed to sell one house in order to close on another. That’s a way more stressful scenario than selling my parents house, which has no financial hold over me at all. The bank would like their money sooner rather than later, but if they don’t get it, they don’t. I’m still not financially responsible for the debt.

So why be so stressed about selling the house? I think I finally figured it out. It’s the last thing I will do for my parents to make them proud. I felt the need to get it right. I admit that this is not a rational thought because I don’t honestly believe that they are looking down from the afterlife judging how I’m handling the sale of their house. But if it’s one thing I’ve learned this summer it’s that emotions are not rational or logical beings. They are there and they must run their course. Whether or not they make sense is immaterial. I’ve found it’s easier to go with whatever I’m feeling at the moment than it is to resist. And I needed, really needed, to make the right choices that would make my parents proud of me when selling their house.

I fully recognize that it’s just a house, a thing, and I don’t put much stock in things. It’s just stuff and I’ve never lost sleep over stuff before. Even when I’ve made bad decisions that cost me money — and I’ve made a few of those along the way, that’s for sure. But in this case, it’s my parents stuff, not mine. It’s the place they built, cared for and lived in for thirty-three years. When we moved in my mom said she was never moving again in her life. They were going to have to carry her out of the house feet first. She got her wish.

The sale of this house has been incredibly, mercifully easy. The buyers saw the pictures of the house on MLS and asked to write an offer before it was even listed. My realtor declined, saying they had to at least walk through it.

The buyers walked through the house at 7:30 am on the first day it was listed. It was earlier than my realtor thought they’d be there, and we didn’t even get a chance to turn on all the lights before they saw it. They wrote an offer that day. Through out the process the buyers have been steadfast that this is the house for them. They could have nit-picked problems found during the home inspection (the house is in very good condition but it is 33 years old) but they did not. They have been the dream buyers and I am so very grateful for them. My gratitude for them goes beyond just getting the house sold. I feel like I’m turning the house over to people who truly want it and will love it, unconditionally, as much as my parents did.

Personally, I had mixed feelings about the house, especially at first. I should clarify that statement. I liked the layout of the new house just fine, and I loved my new bedroom, but I wasn’t an enthusiastic proponent of leaving my old neighborhood. Like most kids, I didn’t want to move.

I graduated high school and we moved into the house a week or two later. And even though it’s only about 25 minutes from where I spent my teenage years, it seemed like a long way away. I was worried I’d lose touch with friends, worried that my new boyfriend of a few weeks wouldn’t want to drive that far to see me. There were new roads to learn, new routes to take me to familiar places I’d never had to navigate to before. And this was well before Google maps or even GPS systems. This was hand-drawn maps by my dad territory.

My parents said that since I was graduating high school that everyone would be going their own way anyway and it wouldn’t matter if I moved or not. For the most part they were right. I made new friends at college and I kept in touch with the old friends, too. My new boyfriend drove to see me for the next 3 1/2 years (until he dumped me one rainy Friday night in November). I was back in the old neighborhood every weekend for several years. But, yet, I wasn’t a part of it anymore either. I was visiting but I didn’t live there like everyone else. I lived in the new house twenty five minutes away.

I only lived in that house for five years. I spent most of my college years in that house when I commuted to UW-Whitewater, with the exception of one semester that I lived in a dorm.  I spent many a night creeping into that house well past bar time after hanging out at Denny’s with girlfriends, only to have the crap scared out of me by my mother snapping on the light in the family room where she was still up, sitting in her chair, waiting for me to get home. To say she was livid about the hours I was keeping is an understatement.

There were plenty of fights in that house between my mother and myself. I lived there as a young adult who had all the answers. At least in my opinion I did. Of course, I did not. But I had some of them, or at least the start of them. I lived there during the years that I struggled to carve out my independence from my mom while my mother struggled just as fiercely to hang on to me and try to mold me into who she wanted me to become. A no-win situation for both of us.

I lived in that house until I left home and got married at age 23. But I didn’t move far. My new husband and I bought a house a few miles away and I visited my parents and the house often. Four houses and a different husband later, I still live just a few miles from the house. However, I’ve never spent another night under that roof after I left.

There were happy times in that house. My son spent a lot of time there with my parents. And when I was overwhelmed with how to take care of a baby, that house and my mother, were my haven and my security. She’d help me. She’d know what to do. She take care of him so my husband and I could go out to dinner by ourselves once a week.

Later, when I started working full-time again when my son was almost 2, that house became his second home. My parents took care of him during the days while I worked. As he grew up he had is own room there. With his own stuff. When his dad and I were divorcing, that house, along with my parents, were an important thing that didn’t change in his life. A safe haven in a world upended. A security.

The past six years since my dad died, and my mom lived there alone with Charlie, that house has held so much sadness. Despondency oozes from the walls, and it’s oppressive. It still feels to me as if the grief seeps from the very pores of the wood beams in the ceiling, settling down like a heavy gray fog over the spot where my mom always sat in her chair. The same chair where she used to wait up for me thirty years earlier.

It’s hard for me to be inside the house now with it empty of all my parents belongings. It’s strange, but I still get the clenched feeling deep in my stomach when I pull into the driveway and for a brief millisecond I forget Mom’s gone. I wonder how she’ll be today. Will today be the day that I have to call an ambulance? Or worse?

We’ve been through quite a journey together, that house and I. It was an important part of my and my son’s security at different points in our lives.  It was my duty to take care of it these past few months and find it new owners to take over its care from my parents.

And now it’s someone else’s house and in my world it will be relegated to someplace my parents owned where I used to live for a few years. I’m okay with that.

I went into the house today for the last time. I picked up the last of the cleaning supplies so the new owners could do their final walk-thru before closing on Friday. I looked at the wall where my parents charted my son’s height one last time. I visited my old bedroom one last time and looked at the walk-in closet which has the last remaining remnant of the nauseating purplish-pink color that 17-year-old me thought would be a fantastic color to paint a bedroom. It wasn’t.

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I looked at the stenciled borders on the walls that my mom did when my son wasn’t even one year old yet, and I looked at the small twig of a tree that my dad planted by the patio where my mom and my son would enjoy its shade when he played in his kiddie pool. It’s well over 30 feet tall now and it’s a living monument to the passage of time. So. Much. Time.

The tree inside the fence is the twig my father planted 25 years ago.

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I thought about taking Charlie with me today, for that last visit. I decided against it. I thought he might be confused or sad to see the house empty with no furniture. He might run to where my mom’s chair used to be and look for her. I don’t think I could have handled that, so he stayed home while I went and said goodbye to the house on my own.

Goodbye’s are hard, but necessary stepping stones to get to what’s next. And heaven knows, I’m ready for what’s next, that next chapter in life, whatever it may be. I think the house is ready for it’s next chapter, too.

October 10, 2017  11:58 pm  (I left myself run a bit long since I was catching up on five week’s worth of thoughts.)

 

 

My Birthday Wish

8/28/17 11:43 pm

Today is my birthday. The first one I’ve had without my mother.  I’ve spent many a birthday apart from my mother. I’m not big on celebrations so we always picked a weekend near the actual day to celebrate. But still. I always at least talked to her on the phone where she’d tell me the story of my birth. It was always the same story every year right down to her voice inflections. I can still hear it.

But not this year.

Dennis and Tony really went out of their way this year to make my birthday a good one. I think they knew it would be a hard one for me.  I appreciate that more than they know.

They both got me beautiful cards that made me cry. But cry a good way, for good reasons. I put them both on the bulliten board of my sewing room where I can read them whenever I want throughout the year.

I got really, really cool gifts, too, this year. Tony got me artist markers called Chameleon Pens that lay down gradations of color. Blue goes from pale, barely-there blue to a vibrant royal blue and every color step in between. Seriously awesome pens.

Dennis got me the Beats headphones that I asked for and a “surprise” present. I’m hard to buy for, but he nailed it this year. He bought me a virtual reality system for my computer. Some women like diamonds, I like toys!

Yeah, okay. I like diamonds, too. But not more than I like toys.

Dennis set up the VR system tonight and we played around a bit with it. It’s amazing. I thought the VR systems that are available for cell phones are pretty cool, but this system puts those to shame.

In one of the opening scenes I was on top of a roof with a small pond behind me. There were fish in the pond. It was night and there were a gazillion stars above. The pond gurgled. The crickets chirped. There were fireflies. I was impressed.

Then we downloaded Google Earth. Truly unbelievable. I visited Rio, a place I’ve always wanted to see. I stood face to face with the Christ the Redemeer statue that overlooks the city. I “flew” over the US, and explored Maine a bit. There are lots of trees in Maine. The Maine view was actual photos of Maine. The Rio visit was a computer generated view that looked very close to photographic quality. Then for the finale’ I entered our address and literally saw our house. Our old car was even out front.

I can’t wait to download a beach program so I can hang out by the ocean in my family room.

In addition to the cool gifts, I also had a birthday cake this year. Dennis even bought me candles (not 51 of them, thankfully!) and made me make a wish and blow them out.

I wished that all the same people and animals that are in my life now will be happy and healthy and still in my life next year.

Well, it’s 12:05. I made it through my first birthday without my mom with the help of the two most important people in my life. I hope next year’s birthday will be easier.

8/29/17 12:06

Kissing Donald Trump

8/23/17 10:53 am

Dreams are funny things. The sub-conscious mind pulls in events and memories of the day and crams them into a convoluted, often nonsensical, mish-mash of images and conversation.

Most often, I believe dreams don’t mean anything. At least I hope the one I had last night didn’t. I dreamed I was in a flooded New Jersey shopping mall with Donald Trump and he tried to kiss me! The prospect of that was horrifying enough that my conscious mind stepped in and said “hell no!” and woke me up. If that’s not a mish-mash of nonsense, I don’t know what is.

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I do believe there are some dreams that help to shed real meaning on our day to day lives.

The night before my father died, I dreamed that he and my mother were going to Florida to stay with my deceased Aunt who is buried there, so she wouldn’t be all alone. I clearly remember a voice in my dream saying, “No, only Dad is going.”  I woke up that morning with a sense of foreboding but I sloughed it off as just being an after-effect of a creepy dream.

At 11:00 am that morning he had a stroke from which he died five days later.

Was the dream prophetic or is it just coincidence? Maybe it was. Maybe not. To believe it was prophetic opens up all kinds of questions as to who or what is giving the prophecy and why. Although, I have had other prophecy-type experiences, but not while asleep. My mother called it “gypsy intuition” since a large part of my family were from Hungry, where many gypsies lived. Prophetic or not, it’s a dream that’s stayed with me for six years, and I expect it’s one I’ll never forget.

Since my mom died, I’ve been dreaming about a lot of dead people. Not just her, which I think is expected, but random people who I’ve know that died. I dreamed of a childhood friend I last saw when I was eleven, who died twenty years ago. His face was blurry throughout the dream. I guess my brain couldn’t figure out what he’d look like as an adult.

I think I’m finally starting to ease out of the dreaming about dead people phase. Which is a good thing, even considering the content of last night’s dream.

Several nights ago, I had another dream that stayed with me. I dreamed I was back at the school where I took graduate classes a few years ago. I had been working toward my Masters Degree in writing when I stopped half-way through for a variety of reasons. Dennis was starting his Masters, and since his degree is much more likely to have a financial ROI than mine, it made sense to channel funds toward his. Also, I was itching to return to work and the prospect of homework after a long work day wasn’t appealing. Even if the homework was writing.

However, in my dream I was so happy to be back, and to get to finish what I started. It was one of those crystal clear dreams that seemed real. And it’s stayed with me for days now.

I think that’s the kind of dream that has some merit. It deserves some consideration.  Is my subconscious trying to tell me something?

There has been some amount of thought and discussion in our house as to what’s next. All my life, staying near my parents has always been one of the considerations in which I made decisions. As an only child, there would be no one else to help them but me when they got old. That part, that’s been with me my whole adult life, is now done.

I am now free to pursue whatever goals I want in life. Dennis’ and my future can be whatever we want it to be and wherever we want it to be. We could move to another state. We could move to another city within Wisconsin. We could build a new house.

They’re all options, but that’s all they are right now. Options. The dream brought forth another option that’s been in the back of my mind all along. Returning to school. Returning to writing. Finishing what I started. Today, I made the decision to reach out and see what it would take to go back. It feels good.

Way better than kissing Donald Trump.

8/23/17 12:00 (went over a bit today)

 

Feeding Frenzy

8/20/17 11:08 pm

It was about two months ago when my mother went into the hospital, that Dennis and I welcomed her dog, Charlie, into our home. We had no idea what we were in for.

Charlie is a 12 year-old, 18 pound, Shih-Tzu Lhasa Apso mix. I’ve known Charlie all his life. I actually picked him out. As a puppy he was the typical jovial, playful fellow like all puppies are. As he matured, he mellowed some. After my father died, he developed some health problems, had a surgery, and while he recovered, he never really got back to his normal, happy, Charlie-self.

Charlie in his bed.charlie

Last October, before my mom was sick, Dennis and I brought Sammy into our family. You may remember, Sammy is a Pomeranian Shih tzu mix. He’s about 10 pounds of happiness. There is no other way to describe him. He’s just a happy dog. He always looks like he’s smiling which makes it hard to be mad at him even when he’s naughty.

This is Sammy as a puppy. He’s about 5 months old here.DSC_0013 (2)

I brought Sammy to visit my mom and Charlie ever since he was a teeny tiny puppy — only about 3 months old. Charlie hated him.  As in HATED him. He never played with him. He mostly ignored him. On occasion he snapped at Sammy, although, he never actually bit him.  Charlie, in general does not like other dogs. Walking him is actually embarrassing because he will go out of his way to provoke every dog, including Pit Bulls, German Shepard’s, and other dogs roughly 4 to 5 times his size.

Sammy liked Charlie from the start. Sammy also does not like other dogs. According to one very snippy, uppity trainer we worked with at HAWS, we stunted his social development by not introducing him to 100 people in his first five months of life.  Right. 100 people. Like we even know 100 people. Anyway, due to our inept raising of a puppy, Sammy had to undergo training sessions to play nice with other dogs. Prior to getting Charlie, we took him to a dog park on a regular basis. He was sort okay with looking at other dogs, but he never really let another dog sniff or physically play with him.

My mom’s worst fear after she got sick was that Charlie would never be happy in our home because he hated Sammy so much. By the time she went into the hospital, Sammy had a pretty good level of wariness around Charlie, too, since he’d been snapped at a few times.

When Mom went into the hospital at the end of June we had no other choice but to introduce Charlie into our home. I’m an only child, and my mom was an only child. There are no other relatives to take Charlie. I’m his ride or die. Literally.

Did I mention we also have 3 cats and Charlie hates cats? He makes it a point to bark and yank his leash to it’s fullest capacity when he sees them on walks.  It didn’t look promising.

So after a long stressful day of getting my mom to the hospital in an ambulance, the emergency room, the check-in, etc, Dennis and I returned back to my mom’s house to pick up Charlie and bring him to our house. I’ll admit, I was nervous. I was already stressed with my mom, and I envisioned all sorts of bloodshed happening once we brought him in.

But the strangest thing happened when I brought Charlie into our house. Sammy greeted him as if he’d lived there his whole life. Charlie sniffed him, wagged his tail and proceeded to look around the living room. The cats watched him with their normal level of disinterest. They’re veterans by now of me bringing in various new four-legged friends they have to deal with. Charlie didn’t phase them a bit. Charlie was leery of the cats, and kept his distance.

Within a day or two, Charlie and Sammy were playing. Actually playing with each other like dogs do — jumping on each other and slobbering on each other. At first Sammy tried to play like a cat. He’d stalk Charlie.  Charlie showed him the ropes pretty quickly.

This is Charlie and Sammy playing in our yard the day after we brought Charlie home.IMG_1463

Perhaps there are such things as miracles. My mother actually didn’t believe that Charlie was happy and fitting in well. She thought I was telling her that so she wouldn’t worry. Which is understandable given the history. I actually took videos each day of Charlie sitting with Sammy and playing with Sammy to show her they really did like each other .

Good things came of this union. We’d been thinking of getting another dog for company for Sammy. (Thank goodness we didn’t!) Pre-Charlie, Sammy spent a fair amount of time chasing cats, and while my cats are young and game for playing with him, it was often too much. He’d take it too far and we many times we had to put a leash on Sammy at night, in the house, just to give the cats a break.

Once Charlie came on the scene all that changed. I was right, Sammy did need a dog-buddy to hang with. The dogs hang together all the time and the cats are rarely chased now, although, when they are there are usually two dogs chasing them. (Charlie has decided cats are cool and he like’s to “play” with them, too, once in a awhile.)

Sammy now has company when we leave the house. Pre-Charlie we used to keep him in a gated area, but now he has the run of the first floor with Charlie. They play together while we’re gone (we have camera’s up in our kitchen so we can keep an eye on what they’re doing when we’re not there.)

Charlie’s personality has returned to what is was before my dad died. He’s happy, his tail is always wagging and he’s got tons more energy. He acts like he’s half his age.

Doesn’t he look happy?

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All good stuff. Okay, not all good. There’s some challenges. The barking. Oh. My. God. The barking. Charlie barks a lot. My mom thought it was “funny” to encourage him to bark. To her it meant he was happy.  Charlie has had 12 years of prompting to bark. When Charlie barks, Sammy barks. Which makes Charlie bark more. Which makes Sammy howl. Which makes Charlie howl. It’s not pretty.

And then there’s the care. Charlie is high-maintenance. He suffers from “dry-eye” syndrome which inexplicably makes his eyes water. He needs his face washed every morning and very expensive salve put in his eyes twice a day. He needs to be professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks. Because of his allergies he needs a special diet that I have to cook.

For the past 6 or 7 years, my mother cooked Charlie a mix of ground lamb (expensive and needs to be specially ordered in the quantities that he eats!), mashed canned vegetables and a cooked sweet potato. My mother actually wrote the recipe down on a recipe card for me. He needs to have his freeze-dried lamb liver treats on top to get him to eat it. And even with the treats, he may or may not eat. He’s very picky.

In addition to his lamb mush, Charlie gets thinly sliced center cut pork loin roast (also home cooked) as a treat whenever my mom ate a meal.  So three times a day.

One of the downsides to having so many animals is when one gets something good, they all want it. And hence, the point of today’s post.  Tonight, after dinner, Charlie was still begging, so I asked Dennis to give him some of his pork loin slices. We were watching TV in the family room, so Dennis brought the bag to the couch to feed him.

Have you ever sprinkled fish food on the top of a fish tank with hungry fish in it? It was like that only with furry little mammals. Dennis was immediately swarmed with two cats and two dogs. I do mean swarmed. One cat actually ran down from upstairs to get his share. I have to buy pork roasts in bulk to feed this crew.

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Can you count four animals in this picture? The fifth animal was sitting on my lap and couldn’t be bothered to join in the fun.

It actually is fun having all of them, and having Charlie has been mostly good for our household. I just hope we never run out of pork. I shudder to think what they’d do to us.

8/20/17 11:49 pm

Anchor’s Away

8/18/17 10:47 pm

This has been a really stressful week for me. Perhaps one of the most stressful since my mom was sick and we didn’t know what would happen. That’s the thing about stressful situations, at least for me, the worst ones are when I don’t know what will happen and I have no control over the outcome.

I’m a planner. I’m a fixer. I can find a way to fix almost any situation I’m in.  And I have, many times. An unhappy marriage. Couldn’t fix it, but figured out how to leave. Awful stressful job. Easy, peasy. Find another job. Buy a condo and find out after I move in that the elderly neighbors below me blast the tv all night. Literally ALL night. When reasoning with them didn’t work, I took a big risk and bought the house I’m currently in now that I love and sold the condo after living in it for 6 months. Lost some money in the process and it was a lot of work to move twice in 6 months, but I figured it out, fixed the problem and I came out happier in the end.

The problem with this week is there was a lot going on completely out of my control that I had no way to fix. There was nothing to be done other than let life take me where it will.

I’ve already talked about the stress of getting the house ready and parting with the last of Mom’s stuff, including Behemoth. However, there was more house stress this week. The house went on the market on Wednesday. I was nervous about showing it empty, which isn’t normally what real estate agents want. And I was nervous the agent priced it too high and I’d be stuck maintaining the house over winter because no one wanted it.

Thankfully, the house was very well received and we already have an accepted offer. That doesn’t mean we’re done, though. Far from it. There’s inspections of all kinds, probably a repair here and there, financing that the buyer’s have to get, closing dates to be set. All completely out of my control. But least I’m back into familiar territory which helps. I’ve never had to disband an entire household before, but I have sold three properties (two houses and the blasted condo) so I know what to expect even if I can’t control any it. That helps.

Stressful factor number 2: After two years of procrastinating, we finally had new vinyl flooring put in our kitchen. The old stuff had an ugly blood red splotch by the patio doors that literally changed color and size. It creeped me out. And the seams were coming up so bad in some places, Dennis and I were literally tripping over them. The reason we waited so long to fix it is because it’s not easy to have half the first floor out of commission in a normal house. Our house isn’t normal.

We have three cats and two dogs that eat everything. I mean everything. Even the cats and cats are normally picky eaters. Are’s aren’t. I left a cherry tomato on the counter the other night by accident and the cat ate it. We just found pieces of tomato skin scattered on the carpet. Before bed we have to check and make sure no plastic is left out, even a corner of a grocery bag will be eaten. No fruit on the counter. I’ve woken up to bananas with chewed skins. No envelopes with plastic windows and no unsealed envelopes of any kind — one cat is obsessed with licking the glue. Obviously, with this mischievous group, we cannot allow any of the animals access to an unfinished project for fear they’ll eat a stray piece of vinyl or lick up the glue, or who knows what else they’ll get into. Something, I’m sure.

The installer said it would take 2 days to install the vinyl. Which means that we not only had to lock up our menagerie during the day, we’d also have to lock them up overnight. Separately, because I don’t trust Charlie, the newest addition to the household, not to chase the cats.

Our routine was completely destroyed. Dennis had to work in the rec room with way too many animals confined in a too small space. And maybe worst of all — we didn’t have a toilet downstairs since we put new vinyl in the downstairs bathroom too. That meant a lot of stairs for me. I spent most of the afternoon in the bedroom with one of dogs.

Thankfully, the installers were fast. They were done by 3, the sealant had dried by 7 and I had a new toilet downstairs by 8. Life went back to normal much quicker than I feared, but it was still a stressful day.

Stressful Event 3: My baby is in Italy for the week. And there was a terrorist attack in Spain. Which I know is no where near Italy but still. My baby is in another country, across an ocean and there are terror attacks and I am helpless to do anything to protect him.

By the way, my “baby” will be 27 in February. He’s in Italy on vacation with his girlfriend and her family. He’s lived on his own for many years now and, in fact, he lives an hour and half away from me.

But he’s still my baby and he’s very far away, and scary, bad things are happening in his vicinity (if you consider the same continent the “vicinity”).

Not logical, but stressful all the same.

I gained some perspective this morning when I was going through my mother’s papers. I needed to find the title for the house and I found a treasure trove of memorabilia from my family that I never knew she had. I will have many blog post material to share from some of the cool things I found.

Included in that memorabilia were the discharge papers for my father’s Naval service during World War II.  He volunteered in January, 1945, one month before his 18th birthday. He didn’t want to get drafted into a branch of the service that he didn’t want to serve in, so he volunteered to enter the Navy while he was still in high school, got his GED, and went to war in the Pacific theater.

When he was 17 years old.

My grandmother had to send her baby to fight a war when he was still a teenager. I wonder how she survived it.

It made me feel pretty weak and pathetic for stressing out over my baby, a decade older than his grandfather was when he went to war, having a time of his life in a beautiful country.

When did I become such a wuss? I never used to be. I’m not sure why, but I hope it passes. I don’t want to be the person that worries about every little thing and sucks the joy out of living for others. I’ve experienced that kind of love. It’s suffocating to say the least.

I sure was happy to find those naval papers today. I feel like I got a dose of strength from my grandma who’s been dead for 18 years. If she could send my dad to war, I can certainly relax and know my son is well and will return home from his vacation safe and sound.

That doesn’t mean I still won’t sleep a bit easier when he’s back home in the US this weekend.

8/18/17  11:44pm

 

 

The Behemoth

 

 

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8/17/17 10:58 am

Today I am writing a blog about a table. Not just any table. I’m writing about the ugly, behemoth, bane-of-my-existence table that my parents owned for most of my life and through the end of theirs. They bought it when I was about 5. I know this because I remember going furniture shopping with them when they bought it for the new house they were building. We moved into the house the summer before I started kindergarten, so it that would be the summer of 1971. I turned 5 the end of that August.

1971. Richard Nixon was president. VietNam was in full force. Sonny and Cher were not only still together, they even had their own TV show that I was allowed to watch. That was a long time ago. For me and the table.

The first thing I hated about the table is it’s very dark-colored stain. I remember looking at in the furniture store and almost being afraid of it because it was so big and so dark. It made me feel small and it looked like it should have been in some old, deserted, scary house, not our brand new one we were moving into. My parents didn’t agree and the table came home with us.

The second thing I hated was how heavy the chairs were. As a 5-year-old, I couldn’t lift up and move the chairs, they were so heavy. I’d have to scrunch under and around the table to crawl up into the chair, or someone would have to pull a chair out for me and then maneuver it back in toward the table once I was on it. I’m independent. I always have been. I like to do things myself. So I always opted for the scrunch-in technique whenever I could get away with it.

Eventually, as I grew older and bigger, I could move the chairs on my own but it was never easy. Since my mother always had the damn table and chairs on carpeting, (shag, of course) these chairs with the weight equivalent to a small calf, needed to be lifted to be moved. Sliding was never an option. Even the adults who sat in the chair had to sort of bunny-hop their way back toward the table once the sat in them. Gracefully scooting the chair to or from the table was never an option with this behemoth of a set.

Not only were the chairs heavy beyond belief, they had dark, padded, plastic seats that were supposed to look like leather. However, they never did look like leather. They weren’t soft. They were a hard, unyielding substance that felt more like a cheap diner booth material than a dining room chair material. To make it worse, my mother made me use Pledge Lemon spray wax to shine them up every week when we cleaned.

The addition of the spray wax caused problems of it’s own. Number 1: a slippery seat is harder crawl up on to. Number 2: a slippery seat makes noises when you move. Fart noises. When crawling up onto a chair a fair amount of positioning is needed to situate yourself once you’re up there. This makes the fart noises unavoidable, even during holiday meals with extended family (which is the only time the table was used for the first 13 years of it’s life.)

Occasionally, during dinner an adult would be so foolish as to re-positioned their weight on the chairs, and they, too, were the recipient of the fart-noise. I wonder if we were known for the fart-noise chairs within the extended family. Maybe that’s why we didn’t host very many holiday meals. Maybe my mother made me wax the chair seats for that very reason. She never did care much for entertaining.

I’ll have to give that some thought.

The week after I graduated high school in June of 1984, my parents and I moved into another new house and this is where the bane-of-my-existence came into its own. It was promoted from the once-in-awhile for special occasions dining room table to the everyday kitchen table.

The new house was an open concept house, very popular in the 1980’s, and there was plenty of dining room space to house the behemoth. And since there wasn’t a wall to distinguish the dining room from the family room, the chairs could spread out throughout the house free from the confines of their traditional designated room. Which they did.

Since there were only three of us, we clearly did not need a massive table and chairs that could seat 8. My mom put four chairs around the table and scattered the rest of the stray chairs throughout the house. Just in case someone needed an uncomfortable, squeaky chair to sit in.

Notice the chair to left of the table in this picture. It’s a stray. There’s another stray that you can’t see to the left of the recliner.

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Here’s yet another stray used as a desk chair.

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As you may have noticed in the top picture, eventually my mother gave up on waxing the fake leather. She moved on to attaching seat cushions on top of the fake leather instead. My mom bought the ones with ties that went around the back spokes of the chairs.

The seat cushions looked prettier than the ugly fake leather, however, seat cushions that are put on top of slippery plastic have their own set of problems. Especially seat cushions that are only attached by two ties at the back of the cushion. They will slip and pull every time you sit down. You need to aim squarely in the middle of the cushion or the cushion and a butt cheek will half slide off the chair. No one of my family has ever been what you would call thin, and, frankly, there wasn’t a chair tie to be found that could withstand the pressure of an ample-sized derriere against the sliding cushion on a plastic seat that’s been waxed for 13 years.

My mother diligently tried sewing the seat ties back on for a year or two. But let’s face it. If a factory sewn seat tie couldn’t stand up to Tieffenbach butts, a hand-sewn job by my mother never had a prayer. Eventually she gave up, and the seat ties hung limp and useless on the back of the chairs while the seat cushions sat willy-nilly on the fake leather seat. Major slippage occurred anytime anyone sat down. After while, we gave up and the seat cushions became a decorative accessory that we moved and replaced the before and after each meal. Kind of like having throw pillows on the bed. Pretty, but not useful.

I suggested to my parent’s that they get a new table. With chairs that didn’t require wrenching your back to move.  Not a chance. The set was perfectly fine, they said, even if some of the chairs legs were coming loose and did wobble side to side.  The wobbly chairs got swapped with the prior stray chairs and life continued as before.

Eventually, the seat cushions with the rubbery dots on the bottom that grip the chairs without the need for seat ties were invented. My mom eagerly bought them and they worked much better than the seat tie cushion — as long as you were able to move the massive chair toward the table on thick carpeting while simultaneously holding on to your chair pad so it didn’t fall off the chair before you sat down. If you happened to sit down too far from the table, the pad added a little extra layer of complexity to bunny-hopping the chair to table. As did the now constantly wobbling table chairs.

I had some fun bringing home new boyfriends and watching them try to navigate the chair/rug/chair pad conundrum for the first time. At least the fart-noise problem was eliminated. The chair legs were getting so unreliable by this point, that my mother planned out where to seat the heaviest guest on the sturdiest chair. My father, having glued the legs as much as he could, was relegated to wrapping string around the bottom chair legs for added strength. Red string. On dark, ugly brown chair legs. At least the string matched the chair cushions.

As those of you who read my blog know, my mother passed away unexpectedly last month and my father has been gone for over six years. As an only child, this means the responsibility of disposing of the household goods and the house falls to me.

I’m not a keeper of memorabilia. I never have been. I marvel at those women who have gorgeous scrap books with ticket stubs and receipts from family trips. I’d like to have one of those, but I’m not that person. I hate clutter so I’m constantly cleaning my purse, wallet, and drawers tossing out stuff. Sometimes I toss out stuff I need. Like property tax checks from the bank. But that’s rare. Bottom line is I didn’t anticipate having any problems getting rid of stuff from my parents house.

I took the few items I wanted, like the hand-made wood carvings my dad did, and few cross stitch pieces my mom made. The most important thing I took out that house is sleeping next to my feet right now. I called in an estate sale place and told them to sell everything. Sell the dishes, the bedroom sets, the family room furniture, and for the love of God, get rid of the hideous, behemoth dining room set that I’ve hated for almost 46 years.

The estate sale guy was probably about 70, and he seemed impressed with the table and chairs. He used words like, “workmanship”, “sturdy” and the cliche’ “they don’t make them like this anymore”. Apparently he didn’t see the red string holding his chair together.

He priced the table and chairs at $225.00! I was amazed. Apparently, I don’t know what things are worth, I thought. I didn’t think anyone would take it for free and this guy thinks he can get $225.00 for it.

Day one of the estate sale. The table and chairs do not sell. That’s okay, Estate sale guy says. Day two everything is marked down to half price. Surely the table and chairs will sell for $114.50.

They didn’t.

When I went into the house the weekend after the estate sale was over, the house was mostly empty. Just a few boxes here and there and the massive, ugly, too-dark table and chairs in the exact same spot where it’s been for the past 33 years.

I wasn’t surprised. Not one bit. The damn table is like a cock roach. It will never go away.

“The charity will take it,” Estate sale guy says.

Except the charity isn’t available on the day Estate sale guy promised. And I have showings to prep the house for. The house needs to be emptied. NOW. Everything has to go.

Monday, after many phone calls and a couple of threats, Estate sales guy’s team shows up with a truck and starts loading everything up. I’m assuming they will take the items to the charity instead of the charity picking them up, which is fine. I don’t mind that the table and chairs and the rest of the items didn’t sell, and I’m glad they’re going to some place where they can be of use to another family. I sleep well that night.

It’s Tuesday. The house is finally empty, cleaning can commence for the showings on Wednesday and all is well.

Estate sale guy’s team shows up to take a few last boxes out of the garage Tuesday morning while I’m there. They tell me it’s the last load that they’re taking to the dump. Not a charity as promised. The dump. There’s no reuse or recycling going on here. Everything they pulled out of the house that didn’t sell went to the dump.

Including the ugly, monstrously heavy, too-dark behemoth of a dining table, stray chairs in various stages of disrepair with fake leather seats and red chair pads with bumps on the bottom. At the dump.

The grief didn’t hit me until Wednesday. And I do mean grief. All out crying as if I’d lost a living, breathing soul, not some stupid, ugly table and chairs I’ve never liked. I did hate them, but their fate didn’t deserve to end up in the dump.

Grieving is a nebulous beast. You never really know what will beckon it forth. It can be something obvious, like a picture, or memory that’s triggered. Or it can be something stupid, like an old crappy table and chairs you’ve lived with for 46 years.

I try not to think of the table, discarded like trash. It still upsets me. And it upsets me that I’m upset over an inanimate object. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m not sorry I that I didn’t take the table and chairs for myself even if I am sorry for it’s fate. Nor will I wax poetic about family meals and memories we shared around The Behemoth. Sure they happened, but in the end,  it’s still just a piece of wood. And uncomfortable piece of wood that I never liked. My memories are tied to me, not to it.

I just wish it didn’t have to end up in the dump.

8/17/17 1:55 pm (I had an hour break in there to do a conference call but I still went over in time by close to an hour!)

 

 

 

 

 

The Stuff Life is Made of

7:16 8/7/17

I haven’t posted in close to two weeks. Less than a month into my promise to post daily and I already blew it. I’ve been writing a lot in my head, though, if that makes sense. You writers out there understand, right? Sometimes the words need to marinate up there before they can be put down for the world to see.

There’s been a lot going on in the past two weeks so there’s been a lot to marinate on. Since this is a blog about letting go of perfectionism, I’ll consider my lapse in writing a nod toward embracing my imperfect self. At least it sounds like a good excuse.

The hard, cold fact is that after someone you love dies, life goes on. It has to, whether you want it to or not. Things have to get done. Stuff needs to be dealt with. Decisions need to be made. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks while I was marinating my words. I’ve been dealing with stuff.

I decided to list my mom’s house on the market which was not an easy decision. Here’s the handy dandy MLS listing if anyone is interested in buying a house in Sussex, Wisconsin. This is where I lived from the time I graduated high school until the time I got married in 1989 (minus a brief stint in the dorms at UW-Whitewater).

http://www.flexmls.com/share/10pLl/N71W27054MeadowWoodLNLisbonWI53089-2336

I decided to have an estate sale company come in and sell the entire contents of the house. That sale in happening this Thursday and Friday.

Not only are things moving along, they’re moving along fast. Which is good. I’m not anxious to dilly dally through this particular time in my life. I’d prefer to get it over with as fast as possible. However, that also means I need to move fast, during a time when I’d rather not move at all.

I scheduled the estate sale two weeks ago, which meant that I had two weeks to take whatever I wanted to save out of my mom’s house. I picked away here and there and procrastinated really digging into it for the first week. (In my defense, I’ve also been sick with this horrible virus that just won’t go away). But still, I admit there was a fair amount of avoidance going on.

Lollygagging, procrastination and denial only get you so far, though, and time keeps on marching along, so finally my only option was to jump in and get through it. Which I did toward the end of last week and this weekend.

It was hard deciding what I should save, not only for me, but for my son, Tony, who might want some memorabilia someday, but making sure I wasn’t taking too much. I already have a house full of stuff and being overrun with every closet stuffed to capacity with my parent’s stuff isn’t going to make me happy nor is it going to bring them back.

So I culled. My dad was an artist. He painted duck decoys, carved wooden figurines and made country art wall hangings.  This is a picture of a few of his wood carvings. I remember them from when I was a kid. Some of them have names. Ferdinand the Bull is third from left of the top. I like him, but he didn’t make the cut.

Bambi is third from the left on the bottom. When I was ten I broke off Bambi’s ear and I was devastated but my dad wasn’t mad. He just glued it back on said he’d carved it too thin. At some point from 1976 to 2017 Bambi’s ear fell off again, and this time the piece was lost. One-eared Bambi came home with me.

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And so it went. Some stayed, some came home with me. For the ones I’m selling, I thought my dad would be happy to know someone wanted them enough to buy them and enjoy them. Although, truth be told, if the wood carvings don’t sell at the auction, they’ll all come home with me. There’s too much of my dad in them for me to let them go to Goodwill.

Same with the duck decoys. The country art wall hangings, not so much. They’re his designs but they don’t have time and detail as the others. Plus I painted a lot of those myself as a side job in college and I’ve seen enough of them to last me a lifetime.

My mom’s stuff was a bit easier since she’s been funneling the few keepsakes she had to me for years. I did pull down a cross stitch hanging she did, I kept a serving spoon she always used when she cooked us dinner,  and took all the boxes of pictures. I probably don’t know who many of the people are in them, though, without her here to tell me. But I’ll know some of them for sure. That’ll be a hard box to go through. I sense a bout of procrastination coming on for that task.

I struggled with my grandma’s afghan that she crocheted for my mom and the many, many crocheted hangers my grandma made toward the end of her life twenty years ago. I ended up taking them all, although I now have enough hangers to replace every hanger in my entire house and still I’ll still have extras. Unfortunately, I had to re-hang all my mom’s clothes on old hangers to get the crocheted ones out. Some of the clothes still smelled like her — it’s face powder, I think. That job sucked. That job sucked a lot. Don’t want to do that one again ever.

Yesterday afternoon, Dennis and I went back to do a once more check to make sure I didn’t want anything else. I grabbed an old art book I remember by dad using when he tried to teach me to draw as a kid and I noticed a newish looking file cabinet I hadn’t checked yet.

It was locked, so Dennis pried it open. More stuff. Lots of paperwork, messy and unsorted. Not my mom’s style of organization at all. MY style of organization. It was all MY stuff. I moved to a condo briefly in 2004 and I stored stuff in my parent’s rec room. I thought I moved it all back when I bought my house, but apparently I forgot about this cabinet.

So we hauled all this paperwork back to our house and I spent yesterday afternoon going through it all. It was, hands down, the worst part of this culling job yet. It was all stuff I had saved from 1990, when I was married to my first husband, up to about December 2003, when I was getting ready to move into the condo. A hell of a lot happened in those years, and it was laid out on my kitchen table for me to peruse.

I unearthed my college diploma — a good thing, old school pictures of Tony, a picture of his dad and me when Tony was about 5 (I was so thin!), divorce papers, a receipt for an alarm system that I had installed when I dated a seriously unstable guy after I was divorced, old writing and poems I wrote when I was getting divorced (a couple weren’t bad), an old vet bill from a cherished cat that died in 2012 that I still can’t look at pictures of her without tearing up, results of standardized tests for Tony where I saw his propensity for math started at a very early age, valentines from Tony when he could barely write his name, a booklet Tony completed in second grade where he listed Dennis as a “safe” person he could trust (that one made me cry — Dennis and I were friends at that point but not anywhere close to getting married), old job offers, cards from co-workers wishing me well when I left for a new job, email address from old friends I never used, old reviews from bosses I loved, bosses hated, and one boss that is now dead. Whew.

It was a lifetime of accomplishments, failures and memories all crammed into two boxes. It was the tangible, hold-it-in-your-hand evidence of the passage of time.  They were the hardest two boxes I’ve had to look through so far.

I was going to tackle the boxes of pictures I brought home from my parents this week, but I think I’ll procrastinate a little longer on those.  I’m still recovering from my last trip down memory lane.

8:08 am 8/7/17

Adult Activities

10:37 am 7/28/2017

This morning I was a grown up. Of course, at the age of 50, I’ve been a grown up for quite some time. But this morning I did very grown up things. Adult things. And not in the good “adult” way, either.

I made many phone calls. I called financial institutions. I called a real estate agent. I even called the government’s Social Security office.  It’s now official with all the entities that matter: My mom is dead.

I’ve been putting off doing these calls, and with good reason. There’s just something about saying “My mother passed away” a half a dozen times, to a half a dozen strangers, that really brings it all home. I only cried a little bit on the last one, with the real estate agent. She was too nice. I do better with the impersonal voices.

A few minutes after the calls were done, the funeral director who screwed up my mother’s birthdate in all the obituaries called me. His timing was perfect. I was too bummed out to yell at him. And besides, he’s making it right. New obits will run in the Freeman today and the Journal on Sunday with the correct dates. Grown ups forgive mistakes because they know we all make them.

I once shipped an entire semi trailer of plastic goods to a tiny one-man office in central Pennsylvania, a good 3 hours from the larger location it was supposed to ship to. (There was only one address in my Rolodex. I was new to the job and I didn’t realize there were two locations). I bet the one guy at the office and the truck driver weren’t thrilled with me. I know my boss sure wasn’t. But mistakes happen. We all make them, even when we have the best intentions.

My mom made mistakes in raising me, but I still loved and miss her. I made mistakes as her daughter, too, but I know she loved me. I guess that’s what family is. We make mistakes but still love each other in spite of them.

For the most part, being an adult is better than being a kid. I like being in control of my own life, even if it does come with responsibilities. I’ve never been one to yearn for the carefree days of my childhood. Besides, childhood’s aren’t really carefree when you’re in them. I had worries as a kid, they just weren’t adult worries. They were kid worries. A worry is a worry, though, and they seemed just and important then as the adult ones do now.

Today is one day, though, that I don’t like being an adult. I didn’t like making those calls or saying those words. This afternoon, I have to pick up my mother’s remains and the death certificates from the funeral home. I won’t like that either.

I think tonight calls for some adult beverages. I like those. And then I’ll move forward, into tomorrow, where maybe I’ll like being an adult a little bit better than I did today.

11:08 am 7/18/2017