Peeing like Dexter

After much consideration, I have decided to start peeing here and there, much like my dog, Dexter.  Actually, Dexter gave me the idea.  Now, like Dexter, this wouldn’t be a continuous thing…just every now and then.  You know…just leave him a little surprise…when he is least expecting it.  I’ll start peeing on HIS stuff, you know, like, the stuffed bench he likes to sleep on.  Perhaps his blankie.  Then there are his rawhide and rope chewies.  I’ll just hit the things he cherishes.  Now, if I could, it would be absolutely dreamy if I could pee at a special corner, just to cover up his peeing…but that would take a level of contortion I do not have.  Oh…lessee’…I could pee in his food, in his water.  Hey, I could even pee on him.  I’ve seen that done between dogs before.  I once brought home a black Lab puppy and cautiously introduced him to my miniature poodle, Lucho.  Next thing I knew, Lucho hiked his leg and peed right in the puppy’s face.  I guess that was Lucho’s way of saying to the puppy…”Say, lookie here, son…I’m the boss around here.”  Evidently Lucho had no idea that puppy would soon outweigh him by about 60 pounds.  Come to think of it, I outweigh Dexter by nearly triple that.    

It seems only fair that I should begin this peeing practice as soon as possible.  However, I’m hoping that after he sees the vet this coming month, he’ll be convinced to stop that practice.  (Just between us, I have a surprise for Dex…comprised of “snip-snip, clip-clip—oh, what a good dog he is” (insert the TV advertisement theme music here—you know, that old “Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz. ad). 

There are some people in my neighborhood who allow their female doggies to run free and come into my yard to do their business.  This, I believe, sets off Dexter.  He’ll run like the wind outside, just trying to follow the scent.  After that, something gets activated, and he has to go outside and pee about every 5-10 minutes.  He’s good about letting me know…most times, anyway…about needing to go outside.    But then, sometimes that frantic, turned-on part of him just must say “the hell with it” and he lets ‘er rip. 

Today has been one of those days when Dex has not been at his best.  Perhaps he has a prostate problem?  Or perhaps he’s horny.  Well, I’ve had some medical issues, myself.  And I’ve been horny before, too.  But I never forgot my manners.

Well, just wait, little buddy…hopefully we’ll take care of that in a few weeks.  Maybe those female doggies will be less inclined to come into the yard after our visit to the vet (evidently the word had gotten around that there was a really cute boy living over there on XXXX Street).    

Perhaps he’s obeying his inner wolf. 

You know, maybe following in my doggie’s footsteps is not such a good idea.  I lost track of my inner wolf a long time ago.   

I’ve known fellow Bearcat Linda Gregory for over four years now.   After we first met, I discovered that she and my brother had worked with one another some years before.  When I asked my brother about her, he described her as someone who was “her own person.”  While she got along well with others, she remained an independent sort.   She didn’t enter into office politics or play any backstabbing games.  She was, according to him, a real straight shooter, and she was smart. 

Piecing together her obvious civic knowledge gained from having attended all but two council meetings over a nine-year period and her other community involvements , comments from others, and the recommendation from my brother (whose judgment I trust implicitly), I decided to cast my vote for her. 

That was in 2007.  She was elected to the Muncie City Council, and I’ve not been disappointed.  It’s obvious that she is capable of thought…independent thought…and she is beholden only to the citizens of Muncie whom she represents.  Muncie has benefitted from her presence on the Council, and she’ll again be getting my vote on November 8th

The following is a reprint from a blog article written May 1, 2011, just right before the City of Muncie primaries.

 

YOUR BEST CHOICE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT

 It was 2007.  She was preparing to participate in a candidate forum and we were out in the entry area, just waiting for the signal for the candidates to take their seats, and audience members to take theirs.  Strangers up until then, we struck up a conversation about who-knows-what (I think it was the Star Press on-line posts, in general).  I confided in her my screen name, whereupon she grabbed my hand and sped me across the entry way to meet her sister.  I told her my surname and, after introductions, she said she had once worked with a fellow with the same surname in another city.  Come to find out, she had worked with my brother.  The signal to take seats was given, and we all settled in for another awesome forum where it was obvious, once again, that the lady I had just met knew her stuff.  She could cite codes and ordinances, putting other candidates to shame. 

I asked my brother (her former co-worker) about her and he advised me that she was her own person.  While she got along with others, she remained an independent sort.  She didn’t enter into office politics or play any backstabbing games, etc.  She was a straight-shooter.  And she was smart.

The lady and I ran into one another again shortly after that evening, and at that time she shared with me that she had been operated on for breast cancer in the not-too-distant past.  My belief then and even more so now is that cancer is a great leveler.  I know few people who have faced cancer and come out of it anything but true.  Cancer teaches you to know what’s important, and after that diagnosis you don’t mess around with people or with what remains of your life.  Piecing together her obvious knowledge, her experience attending all but two council meetings over a nine-year period, comments I overheard from others, the recommendation from my brother, and that last fact about the breast cancer, I decided to cast my vote for her.

She was successfully elected as Councilperson At-Large to the City Council on the Democrat ticket.  That was in spite of being told by the powers that be at 214 North Walnut prior to the primary election that they didn’t want her to run, as they already had three good candidates for their at-large seats chosen.  They refused to post her sign in the window at 214, and her yard signs were stolen.   What they didn’t know was that the lady was an independent sort.  She decided she didn’t need the imprimatur of 214, surrounded herself with people who did believe in her and her skills, and ran for office.

Next came her appearance on the City Council.  Even though she has often been treated like a red-headed stepchild by some of her fellow Dems on the Council, she has persisted, and she has prevailed.  Since 2008, she has been one of only a handful of Council members who have actually been engaged in the work of the Council.  She comes to meetings prepared.  She is capable of thought.  She is capable of looking at issues from different viewpoints.  And she has had the courage to make decisions that benefit the citizens she represents, not the party bosses who wish to hold the reins and control the outcomes.  And while doing that, she has always conducted herself in a most respectful, civil manner with her fellow councilpersons, government representatives, as well as with the public.  All I can say is she must have the patience of Job.

Now, here we are…some four years later.  The lady is running for Councilperson At-Large again.  Casting a vote for her is a no-brainer.  After all, she has experience and integrity.  She knows the issues and is ready to make the hard choices.  She will continue to work for Muncie’s future.

Here are a few other tidbits of information you may not have known about this candidate.

Did you know…

  • She graduated from Muncie Central High School and was awarded a Storer scholarship?
  • From 2005-2007 she was appointed by Mayor Dan Canan to the Muncie-Delaware County Efficiencies Committee.
  • Before running and winning a Muncie City Council At Large position in 2007, she attended all but two City Council meetings over a nine-year period.
  • Since taking office, she has held once-monthly “Breakfast with Gregory” meetings at Mac’s Restaurant on South Madison.
  • She is the ONLY City Council member who meets with her constituents on a monthly basis.
  • She is the ONLY Democrat City Council member to voice an opinion on reorganization.
  • In addition to serving citizens of the city of Muncie as a City Councilperson, she also serves as a Precinct Committeeperson.
  • She also serves on the Muncie Central High School Alumni Association Board.
  • She served as Economic Development Commission secretary (2008).
  • She served as secretary of the Muncie-Delaware County Convention and Tourism Bureau Board (2007-2010).
  • She co-chaired the Eliminating Poverty Impact Coalition (the guiding coalition for TEAMwork for Quality Living’s Circles of Support).
  • She serves as president of the Roy C. Buley Community Center Board.
  • In 2010 she was chosen by the Committee for Integrity Enhancement to receive the Delaware County Personal Integrity Award.
  • In 2010, on Women’s Equality Day, she was honored by the Coalition of Women’s Organizations for her service to the Muncie community.
  • She is a management team member of the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) Committee.
  • She is a member of Whitely Community Council.
  • She is a volunteer at the Roy Buley Center.
  • She is a life-long member and lay leader (past president, board member, and treasurer) for her church.
  •  She donates beautifully hand-made items, such as beaded shawls, for charity auctions and performs immeasurable kind deeds for others.
  • She was nominated and selected as finalist for the Star Press’ 2010 Person of the Year Award.
  • She is an active member of the Muncie Altrusa Club and Rotary.
  • She grew up on the south side of Muncie and owns property there.
  • She is a member of NAACP.
  • She earned a Ph.D. in education.

Here are some of the candidate’s comments made at her 2011 campaign kickoff get-together:

“I want to return to City Council with other councilors who seek to work together–and with the Mayor and department heads–to change the way we do things here. The Muncie Action Plan (MAP) was opportunity for everyone in Muncie to engage in civil discussion to suggest solutions to local issues. Work has begun on MAP initiatives and I want City Council to be a significant player in that community-wide effort.

 I want City Council’s actions to no longer be the source of negative newspaper headlines–negative images of Muncie that are spread across the state, nation, and even the world and become so detrimental to our City’s economic development efforts. Each of us has a role in bringing jobs to Muncie and that effort begins with adding a healthy dose of civility in our dealings with each other.

Muncie will continue to face challenges to fund services adequately, and I want to help find solutions that work best for all of Muncie.”

Do you now have a better picture of just who Linda Gregory is?

Why not make your BEST choice for good government your ONLY choice at the polls?

While assigned to the Tacna, Peru, area back in the late ‘60s, I lived with a family who, by Peruvian standards, were fairly well off, even though most of the rooms in their several room ranch had dirt floors.  One could always gauge the wealth of a Peruvian family by acreage, the number of servants, and by how far off the floor their cooking stoves were.  This family was, by those measurements, wealthy.  Their cooking stove was made of adobe and stood waist-high, and I recall watching their female servants use a long pipe to blow on the hot coals to fan the flames to keep the stove/oven burning.  There were male workers who tended to the fields, whom I rarely saw.  In the home there were a couple of (either Quechua or Aymara–I can no longer recall) Indian women servants charged with the daily cooking, cleaning, and laundry chores.

One day the family invited me outdoors to watch a “newbie” being “processed in” by the older servants.  Just outside the living quarters, chairs for each family member and their guest (me) were lined up theater-style in front of the chicken coop.  After being ushered to our seats, the two female servants led a filthy, dressed-in-rags, terrified child—wild-eyed, clawing, scratching, clutching, and screaming–a little girl of not more than 11 or 12—into the coop.  I was informed that this child—also of either Quechua or Aymara origin–had just been brought to the chacra late the night before.  She most likely had been sold by her family to the Tacna family, and perhaps at some point would become a sexual slave to the chacra’s owner as well as a household servant.  The child was dragged into the chicken coop and seated after a struggle on a weather-beaten gray wood chair.  As the little girl’s terror heightened, the two adult Indian female servants broke into raucous laughter, and the family followed suit.

The little girl was infested with lice, and the Indian servants began pouring kerosene on her head and rubbing it into her scalp.  While screaming bloody murder, I presume first because the kerosene was burning her skin, and second because she was absolutely terrified, the little one flung herself off the chair onto the chicken coop floor.  And then she began wallowing—back and forth, back and forth—in the chicken poop.  She flailed at the older women’s attempt at controlling her and returning her to her seat.  The laughter continued…the family obviously finding the entire scene uproariously funny, as did the servants.  Gleefully, the family watched the show in the chicken coop, much as an audience would watch live theater—as entertainment–not something happening in real time to a precious child.

I wanted so badly to stand up and demand the family cease the terrifying torture of this little girl.  Yet, I did not feel I could safely do that.  So I stayed quiet.  My assignment called for a month at the ranch.  Oddly, in that remaining time, I never once saw the little girl again.  Nor did I hear any mention of her.  I think of that little girl often and wonder whatever became of her.  Did she survive?  Is she still alive?

This is the same ranch where Che Guevara had hidden out for a while (obviously long before I arrived).  I’ve often wondered what Che’s response to this little girl’s terror would have been.

Some Random Thoughts About Me

 

I’m old.  And I’m tired.

I’m retired.  In over 50 years of work, I’ve done a little bit o’ this and a little bit o’ that.

At the age of 8 I had my own paper route.  I also was a paid animal caretaker and mowed yards (and as an old boyfriend used to tease, I was burnt out by the time I was 10).

I’ve worked as a housekeeper, a painter’s model, a microwave oven demonstrator in a furniture store.  Worked in retail, as a waitress/cocktail waitress, car hop, fry cook, janitor.  I was among one of the first urban 4-H leaders.  I served long stints as a medical and legal transcriptionist, a debt collector, a clerk, a secretary, a weekend tour and activity director and flight attendant for a land development company that flew prospective buyers from Texas to New Mexico.  I worked as an administrative assistant to a large corporation’s chief scientist, an administrator, held various supervisory positions, served as a government liaison officer, delivered workplace training, and as a writer and proofreader.  I’ve sold Stanley Home Products and greeting cards.  I’ve done substitute teaching and tutored Spanish.  Had my own catering business, my own bookkeeping/office assistance business.   Had my own marketing business and performed public relations for a children’s author.  I’ve written training manuals and flow-charted and written computer program instructions.

Before I got so tired and when I had my own home, I used to enjoy putzing around.  One of my favorite places to visit is a hardware store.  I love power tools, and I’m kinda’ handy, for a girl anyway.  I have done some plumbing, some simple electrical work (installation of fans/lights/new outlets and switches).  I like to build ‘stuff’, too.

A long time ago I had an Opel.  I used to do my own oil changes and tune-ups, including setting the timing.  My boyfriend at the time was pretty much an all-thumbs type, so I did oil changes and tune-ups on his car as well.  I also taught him how to repair holes in dry wall.  On top of working for cheap, I looked pretty damned cute in bib overalls back then.   I have a dear friend of some 30 years who still loves to tell people how I was the person who taught him to operate power tools and how to build a gazebo.

Favorites:  I love to decorate.  My BFF in the Southwest and I once spent eight hours decorating a corner of her living room…just a corner.  We once stayed up all night trying to find just the right color…for something (I don’t remember what).  While her husband slept, she removed hanger after hanger of clothing from their closets…as we explored finding ‘just the right color’.  I also love photography, especially the drama of black and white.

My very first love was flying.  My Dad was a pilot and I started flying with him at about age 3-plus.  I really liked aerobatics (and still do, tho’ it’s been a while since I’ve done that).  Went to an air show in Santa Fe one year (some time ago) and hitched a ride with a pilot I knew.  We flew out over close to Los Alamos and he put that beautiful, shiny red Decathalon thru’ its paces—hammerhead stalls, barrel rolls, loop-d-loops, etc. The very next day another pilot climbed into the cockpit of that beautiful red plane and took it up for some maneuvers.  Minutes later he plowed it into the ground.  The Decathalon’s wreckage took up a space of maybe 15 feet in diameter and perhaps 4 feet in height.  Sobering.

My second love was (and still is) dancing.  I love men who know how to dance…uh, I mean REALLY know how to dance.  I once danced the tango all night with a guy from Columbia.  I was in Tarapoto, Peru, at the time, and he was there, working as an engineer on the ConSelva Project (construction of a highway through the jungle).  I still remember the freshly washed and starched blue Oxford shirt he wore that night…he smelled sooo good.

I used to entertain a lot and really enjoyed it.  It gave me the opportunity to cook and watch people come together.  I also enjoy jewelry-making, scrapbooking, sewing.  Sometimes I enjoy writing…even poetry.  Sometimes.

I was the oldest of four…by a lot of years.  In fact, I’m old enough to have been the mother of two of my brothers.  Our Mother worked (sometimes multiple jobs), so I ended up spending my junior and high school years tending to babies, cooking, and cleaning.  I could cook a full meal by the time I was 11 or 12.   I was babysitting a toddler at the age of 11 or so.  I still refer to my baby brothers as “boys,” though they are in their fifties now.

I never married.  I thought about it several times, but then thought better about it.  One time the date was set:  April 20.  The fellow was about 10 years my senior and I was quite taken with him because he was older plus a classically trained pianist.  Just think…I’d be married to an ‘arteest’.  But I was quite a virginous young girl.  Back in my day you were either a Friday night girl or a Saturday night girl.  Well, I was the Sunday morning girl.  The one they always took to church followed by dinner at the parents’ home.  The pianist was determined to have his way with me before the marriage, and I was determined to save it for the wedding night.  He got fed up and left me alone on a chilly, misting night in the middle of the A&P parking lot on South Madison Street.

Another time I came close to marrying but got cold feet and kept re-setting the wedding date.  Finally, I asked the dude what it was he wanted out of marriage.  He said he wanted somebody to take care of his things.  His things.  NOT his thing.  But his things.  I told him he needed to hire a maid instead and walked out.

On one auspicious night two fellows showed up at my house and proposed.  I found it quite amusing that they arrived in the same vehicle.  I loved both of them, but not in a romantic sense.  One of them I know is now deceased; I lost track of the other.

I once broke up with a guy by throwing all his belongings out in the yard—there was underwear everywhere—hanging on shrubs, from trees, etc.

I don’t regret not having married.  And I don’t regret not having children.  Sometimes I do regret the lack of grandchildren, though.

And for many years I’ve regretted throwing his underwear in the yard.

In spite of a pretty awful temper, I like to think I have a good sense of humor.  Perhaps it is something inherited from my Mom, altho’ she was the champ of dry witticism.  I enjoy humor that is close to slapstick.  My favorite movie is “The Great Race.”  I saw it at the movies at least a half-dozen times.  I’ve watched it at home at least that many times or more.  I used to have the lines memorized.  I still laugh like a hyena every time I watch it.

Food:  I’m mad for green and red chiles—New Mexican variety—Hatch.  Chiles are a lot like sex.  If they make you cry, then you know they’re good, really good.  I love to cook…or at least I used to enjoy it.  Nowadays it doesn’t make a whole lotta’ sense to slave over a meal, when…again like sex…it’s over in a matter of minutes.

Religion:  I loved going to church as a child.  I used to say prayers faithfully.  I have a collection of crucifixes and other religious artifacts.  One plastic crucifix was given to me by my grandmother when I was probably 10 or 11.  Collecting religious art is really very strange, you see, because I am not a believer.

My maternal Romanian grandmother was a great influence on my life.  She wanted nothing more for me than to be baptized.   She must have been really worried for my soul because once she came to the house and baptized me with a fountain Coke.  Pulled the straw out of the cup and with the sign of the cross said, “In dee name of dee fahdder, dee son, and dee holy goze, I babb-dize dee.”  I figure if it was gonna’ take…that baptism from her…it surely would have, every bit as much as if it had been performed by a priest at St. Lawrence.

She and my grandfather came from Europe in the early 19-teens, and they were believers.  That faith of theirs probably saw them thru’ lives that were anything but easy…death of children, hardship, poverty, etc.   Thru that and then into old age my grandmother was refreshingly childlike in her attitude.  She had a wonderful laugh, nay giggle.   She was sweet and kind and just.   The last two weeks of her life she took to her bed.  She would drink only sips of wine…we thought she probably thought it was Holy Communion.  She held onto an old crucifix, never letting go.  Every once in a while she would hold it up in the air, as if to admire it, then bring it to her lips and kiss it.   She’s been gone 40 years now.  I still miss her.  I still wish I could call her.

I lost a brother.  He was just 39 years old when he died after a mysterious/unidentifiable illness that lasted 3-1/2 days.  Gone.  I always suspected he was gay, and an acquaintance of his confirmed it after his death.  He also was diagnosed as schizophrenic just a few years before his death.  His life, in my opinion, was so terribly sad.  A friend of his—a physician–confided in me that Scottie was one of the brightest individuals he had ever met.  Scottie lived for ham radio and electronics.  We used to tease that for Christmas one only need to buy him a vacuum tube (as in an old radio) necklace and a set of Odor Eaters, and he’d be in seventh heaven…wherever that is.  I’m ashamed to admit that toward the end of his life I ducked his telephone calls a lot, as the conversations sometimes were so disturbing.  Scott was indeed challenged, and I failed him–I wasn’t there for him.

Yet, he was there for me.  When I broke up with the Underwear Man, I was absolutely brokenhearted.  Scott was on the next plane out to New Mexico to stay with me for a coupla’ weeks…I know just to comfort me.  Several in the family felt he contacted us after his death…very strange.   I felt the same…there was such a presence of Scott that remained years after his departure.

Politics:  I’m addicted to politics.  I never knew it, but of late friends have reminded me that I’ve always been highly political.  I’ve always been a highly opinionated person, and a dear friend of mine used to tell me I should have gone to law school because I suffered such righteous indignation.  I have no idea how he formed THAT opinion.  Too bad I lacked the self-esteem or self-image to have done just that.

More About Me:  I like to blow bubbles and color (though not necessarily at the same time) even as I edge ever nearer to my seventh decade of life.   There is something really soothing about removing a fuchsia-colored crayon from its box, and concentrating to stay within the lines—something I’ve always resisted, literally and metaphorically.

I am a dog person.  It sucks when you lose ‘em, but they have so much to teach us by their lives and by their passing.  They are practice for us (unfortunately) for the loss of friends and family.   I never knew how it felt to be loved unconditionally until I had my first dog.  Oh, I was probably loved unconditionally before then…but that dog taught me how to recognize it.

I love to meet all different kinds of people.  I could care less about color, religious beliefs (unless somebody tries to jam it down my throat), nationalities, etc.  There is a type of person that I don’t like:  I can’t stand liars or cheats or thieves.

In the ‘60s I worked in the black community as one of the first urban 4-H leaders teaching the kids how to cook real meals from commodity foods, how to plant a garden, and how to sew.  Alongside a lovely black woman named Carol Lee, we headed up a few other programs for kids–a kids’ choir, a newsletter, and tutoring services.   One of my best memories was that of a little 12-year-old girl who took a blue ribbon at the Delaware County Fair for a dress she had sewn.  She had absolutely no faith in her ability to do that at the outset of learning to sew.  It was wonderful to see this little girl blossom into this beautiful young person after taking that prize.  I’ve often wondered what became of her.  I hope she continued to bloom.

I try not to fashion heroes.  I believe it diminishes a person to have heroes; I encourage others to become their own heroes.   

More on Death:  I lost a classmate in the sixth grade.  He was riding a horse when his brother leaped up on the back of the horse.  The horse spooked, threw off the classmate but his foot got caught in the stirrups.  The horse charged through the barnyard, and the boy hit his head on the corner of the barn.  He’s buried near my paternal grandmother and grandfather, my brother, and my Dad.  Another friend was killed in a car wreck that also killed three others.  She called me that night and had asked me to go out on a double-date with her and her boyfriend.  I knew she had started drinking and I didn’t want to be a part of that scene (we were both underage).  So, I declined.  That night, the fellow driving her car was drunk and drove under a semi.  My friend and the other girl were beheaded.  A few other friends were also killed in car wrecks.  That happened a lot back in the early ‘60s.  In 2005 I lost a dear friend to leukemia.  She was my ‘Albuquerque Mother’.  She was from back east and had this charming impatience and abrupt manner.  Her sister-in-law told me that at the end of her days she had been transferred to a hospice facility.  After being there for a couple of days, she called over a nurse and asked, “I wanna’ know why the hell I’m not dead yet!”  That was my friend Eleanor…to the very end.

Sports:  I love to watch professional baseball.  It’s a slow-moving game…one can down a meal, beverages, and visit with friends in between the whooping and hollering and hardly miss a beat.  But I miss players like Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, and Johnny Bench.  That was back in the day when the Boys of Summer played for the love of the game.  Talking about baseball also reminds me of my little brother Scottie.  When he was around age 3 or so, if you asked him his favorite ball players, he’d say, “Roy Campbanana,” or “PeeWee Weese” or “Yogi Bear.” What a laugh that would get.  Come to think of it, at the age of 2-1/2 or so, whenever you asked Scottie what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d say, “A police car.”  Or, sometimes: “A fire engine.”  Precious.

Friendships:  I have a wonderful circle of friends.  Most of them have been my friends for years and years—some 40, some 50 years or longer.  We can be apart for years and then when together, it’s as if no time has gone by.  By and large they are all fun and terribly funny.  They make me laugh.  I have newer friends, too.  They were all there for me when I was diagnosed with cancer.  And even knowing I’m not a believer, they formed prayer chains for me.  They were there for me while I was the chief caregiver for my Mother for nearly two years (and at the same time going thru cancer treatments).  They were there for me when I lost my job and then my home to foreclosure.  They were there for me when I had nowhere to go…and gave me a place to live.  They were there when we buried our Mother.  They were there when I lost my little dog 10 weeks later.  I am so very blessed to have such good friends.

I’m disgusted with most current events.  I’m disgusted with my government and not feeling all that positive about national/state/or local politics.  I wonder what happened to the country I thought I knew 40-50-60 years ago.  I see a culture that has been dumbed down.  I see crude and rude behaviors (albeit, admittedly I practice some of them).  Hey…when in Rome…right?

My Take on Life:

Whenever one of us grandkids would pass gas, my Romanian grandmother would say, “Der, der.  Eeze okay.  Daze more rrrroom on dee outzide den der eeze on dee inzide.”   In my twenties I realized that not only was that true about intestinal gas but also about emotions.  There IS a lot more rrrroom on dee outside den on dee inzide.  It’s healthy to share.  Just be certain you’re willing to listen to others as much as you share with them.  Otherwise, your friends might start feeling that they’re sitting in a room all by themselves.

A few years after my Romanian grandmother died, my Romanian grandfather told me, “I tink gott fohgot about me.”   If you have unshakable faith in The Almighty, I doubt he’ll (or she’ll) forget about you.  In the meantime, and if you lack that faith in an all-powerful being, just hang in there—everything changes with time.  Nothing ever stays the same.   We need to learn to welcome the hard times.  After all, how would you ever know light, if you’d never experienced darkness?   Life is a string of impermanences. 

At the age of 17 or so, I was returning to work after a lunch hour.  Somehow, this elderly gent started walking alongside me.  In a block or two, he imparted such a profound message to me.  He said, “Just remember, young lady, it’s not the things that you do in your life that you will regret.  It’s the things you didn’t do.”  Now, after almost 70 years, I attest to that.

 

Bucket List:

I’d love…

To return to Peru.

To see Europe.

To complete a doctorate degree.

To fall in love one last time…and I hope he’s a pilot.

To dance the salsa or tango with that pilot.

To hitch a ride in a biplane.

To move back to New Mexico.

To learn to fly (a plane, that is).

To leave everyone I meet…this earth…in a better place for my having been here.

To laugh my way to the very end.

 

The following was written in 1999 for my then 12-year-old nephew Mattie. 

Auntie Carol’s Words of Wisdom

 Above all, do no harm.

Be honest and love all creatures.

Use words to help, not hurt.

Recognize the truth:

Know how things work, know yourself, and know others.

Strive to remain aware:

Of your body, your emotions, your thoughts, and of events around you as they unfold.

Demonstrate generosity, patience, wisdom, and discipline.

Remember:

Sometimes it’s easier to ride the horse in the direction it’s going.

Sometimes you cannot get ALL you want.

You can’t make people love you.

Recognize:

A fine line separates justice from vengeance.

Be your own hero.

Love your work.

Love the world through your work.

Respect the past; don’t fear the future; and live in the present.

Live fully and strive for a life that is balanced.

Live simply.

Love and respect yourself.

Know that you are loveable.

Know that you are loved.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day 2011

She Did Her Best With What She Had To Work With

 This is the second Mother’s Day since Mom died.  It is not necessarily a sad day…more a day of thoughtful, quiet reflection.    Thoughts of her have increased over the days…nay weeks…leading up to today. 

I still have not been able to go to the gravesite since the day her remains were lowered into it.  When I consider it, my emotional side is tested.  And my guilt.  Then I tell myself that she’s not there, anyway.  Oh, that vehicle she used to travel around on earth is there alright.  But her soul?  Her essence? 

I have no idea where she is…and it would be certainly convenient and perhaps helpful if I believed in the notions of angels and heaven…as she did.  If I did, then certainly she would be in heaven and early on would have earned her angel wings.  But I don’t believe in such notions. 

It’s weird.  When my little brother Scottie died, I felt there was still a ‘connection’ to him for years afterward….  So many odd events happened after his death…for years…to lend to that belief.  (And I was not the only family member to feel that way.)  For example, every time I’d hear “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds, it wasn’t as if it merely linked me to a memory of Scott, but as if he might be—somehow cosmically– reaching out.

I have not felt anything like that since Mom’s death.  It’s as if she totally left my psychic grasp.  The same thing with my Aunt Sue, Mom’s sister.   I believed Aunt Sue was done with this world when she passed.  Nearly every time I phoned her over the last few years of her life and asked, “What are ya’ doin’?” she’d reply, “Oh, just waitin’ to die.”   I chalked up that lack of connection after death to the notion of Aunt Sue’s readiness to leave.  Mom, on the other hand, stayed around and fought a good fight through a 10-year-plus illness.  When the end came, though, it was abrupt.  There were a couple of times when it appeared she was losing ground, and the hospice nurses would advise me to steel up, that perhaps she was near the end.  And then suddenly and amazingly she would recover.  When the end came, the hospice nurses were stunned…even though Mom was one of their longest surviving hospice patients.  They had gotten used to her steely determination.

So, now, though I lack a cosmic-type connection to my Little Momma, I have memories.  There is a part of me that is frightened of losing those memories due to advanced years.  So I’m going to put some of them down today. 

I used to call her Mamacita, sometimes Leetle Mamacita, Momma, Ma, Mama, Mother, Mom, Little Momma (in Elvis style) and Annie.  That last would always give her a start.  She had the elegant good looks of a 1940s movie star and despite her beauty was the most unassuming woman I believe I’ve ever met.  She was soft-spoken, and I may have heard her use a swear word maybe twice in my entire life.  I heard her yell probably as many times as well.  Though armed with only a high school education, she was one smart cookie.  She taught herself to read music and to play piano and organ.  She kept up to date on what was going on in the world…even in the world of politics (until Obama came along).  A coupla’ days before she died she was daily testing her Brain Age on the Nintendo DS, and she’d get so frustrated that she tested at age 70 (she was 86).  Heck!  I couldn’t test that well, and I wasn’t even 70!  She was great at word games…skunked me every time at Scrabble.  She always conducted herself as a lady…a real lady.  She had great insight into people and their actions.  She was honest.  And above all she was kind.

She didn’t have an easy life.  She was one of eight (six of whom survived birth) children born to immigrant parents.  At the age of eight, her family moved to the Whitely area of Muncie.  She married right out of high school.  My Dad was in the Pacific when I was born, and so Mom faced the end months of that pregnancy and my delivery alone.  When Dad came home at the end of the war, Mom quit her inspector position at Durham Manufacturing in Albany, where she worked on a defense contract producing bomb fuses. 

We moved every few months, it seemed.  A lot of the time—on and off–we lived with my paternal grandfather in a little country town not far from Muncie.  By the 1950s there were six of us living in a two-bedroom home with that awful, surly man, my Grandfather.  He mistreated my Mother.  He’d yell and scream at her (and anyone and anything) and cuss like a frickin’ idiot.  One of his tantrums centered around the fact that she had placed his clean and folded socks in the wrong drawer.

No noise was tolerated in the house.  None.  Hard to control when you have three kids…one an adolescent, one a little more than a toddler, and the third an infant.  There was no running water.  No inside toilets.  In the summer, Mom did laundry for six people (including diapers) on a scrub board out in the garden.  She had to walk to the outside pump a good block away from the house, pump, then carry the water back and heat it on a cast iron stove then carry it out to the garden.  And she did this while working full-time.   And never once…I repeat…never ONCE did I EVER hear her complain.  (Alas, I certainly did not inherit THAT gene!) 

Mom was a fantastic cook.  And even when there was no money, she could make a meal out of nothing.  One time, during a particular financial dry spell, Mom happened upon a small planting of rhubarb.  We ate rhubarb for probably close to a month.  Rhubarb stew over biscuits made with leftover bacon grease tastes pretty darned good!  She must have found 50 ways to fix that rhubarb!  She and I reminisced about that rhubarb spring not long before she died.  Another time, when we had company, we ate field corn stolen from a neighbor’s field.  Sometimes dinner was heated over Sterno…(when the utilities had been shut off for nonpayment).  There was one time when we ate nothing but kale (Mom had purchased a case of damaged cans) for several days.  But no matter what…her kids never went hungry.  

Finally, in the late ‘50s, thanks to Mom’s motivation and hard work we moved back to Muncie and into our own home.  I was a teenager then, and frankly I thought we had hit the lottery!  Another baby came along in ’59.  Things were still tough, economically speaking.  But, again, Mom never complained.  She continued to work and, I think, hold out hope that life would get better. 

I left home not long after that, and was not a direct witness to her life for years afterward.  In the early ‘70s, my Dad died and Mom was left alone to care for her two boys who remained at home (ages 11 and 15).  I left for the Southwest after that and again cannot lend witness to her life.  But I know that she became involved in Parents Without Partners.  And I learned, in preparation for the eulogy, that she had found dance.  Wow!  How GOOD that newfound knowledge made me feel—that she HAD some good moments in life.  I always hoped she would find a good man and remarry, but that never happened. 

I remember once when she visited me out in the Southwest, I discovered she had taken from the cabinet an empty mayonnaise jar and was drinking water from that.  I had an entire set of water goblets in the cabinet, and yet she chose to drink from that mayonnaise jar!  I nearly cried upon discovering that.  And I scolded her for it.  WHY?  Why would you not drink from a water goblet and instead choose a jar?  Did she believe she didn’t warrant a “real” glass?  I know…Drama Queen that I am…that I probably made too much of it, but it broke my heart.

She continued to work until retirement.  Several years after retirement, she returned to work (in her late 70s) still as a checker in a grocery store. 

Some 10 years before her death, she fell ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized.  By that time, her lungs—after over 50 years of smoking–were degraded enough that she had to go on oxygen.  In spite of that, she still insisted on cooking (her passion).  Then, eventually, the chronic lung disease took from her that pleasure.

The last several years of her life she lived out of a lift chair.  She was able to toilet herself, but that is all.  She was tethered to a space of maybe 3 feet square.  She smiled.  She would get tickled now and then.  She still made jokes.  She had this quirky sense of humor…very dry…very acute.  Sometimes when I’d make an attempt at humor, she’d get this funny look on her face.  And sometimes I thought that maybe she thought I was just nuts.  But, whatever, she never complained. 

She’d make a list of the food she wanted to eat for a particular meal, and I’d tease her about being her waitress and with whom to leave the check.  A friend of mine who came to visit her one day remarked to her about the “lovely” meals I cooked and plated for Mom.  Mom told her that her cooking (Mom’s cooking) was far better.  (It was.)

In the morning, I’d stay quiet until she woke.  Then I’d enter her bedroom and while opening the blinds would sing to her “Good Morning, Good Morning” or whatever the title of that song is from “Singin’ In The Rain.”   Again, she never complained. 

My mind keeps going back to when Daddy died.  A friend of mine from another state drove all night long to come be with our family in that awful time.  When she drove up to my Mom’s house, she saw my brothers outside, standing on the short stone ledge in front of the house, and practicing casting (as with rod and reel) out into a graveled road.  My friend teased my Mother unmercifully about that.  For years, my friend repeatedly reminded Mom of that scene and then would tell her, “Really, Ann, it’s not your fault.  You did the best with what you had to work with.” 

Indeed.  My Mom did her best with what she had to work with….

And, indeed, my brothers and I definitely hit the ovarian lottery.

Annie-In the 1940s

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