A loss of innocence.

I grew up in the 50s. Some have called it a time of innocence. The war was over.photo-7 Our returning veterans were able to attend college or university on the GI Bill. Eisenhower was President. He played a lot of golf as I recall, and my dad criticized him for it. (Some things don’t change.) Families were buying homes with white picket fences. Well, maybe they didn’t all have fences. The point is those were the halcyon days.

Nineteen sixty ushered in a new decade fairly quietly but the calm was short-lived. I write this today in order to recall the day I realized for the first time that my safe, secure homeland wasn’t quite what I thought. On November 22, 1963, our young president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. My feelings about my country and the basic good in people were permanently altered. What kind of monster could be capable of shooting our energetic young leader? And why? Some questions have no answers.

Last week a man went to the apartment of three young Muslim students in Chapel Hill, NC, and fatally shot all three of them. Why? Some said it was a hate crime. Aren’t all murders hate crimes? Some said it was over a parking space. Really? The murderer was a self-avowed atheist. Did he hate all religions? Or only the Muslim faith? I’m guessing we will never know the answers to these questions either.

I’m relieved to report that he gave himself up the same day and has remained in custody since.

The night after the slaughter of these students, my granddaughter sent me a text. ” I can’t stop crying and wondering why and how a thing like this is allowed to happen. I don’t understand how this was allowed to happen in my home. It’s the worst thing I have ever experienced.” I tried to console her but I had no answers for her.

I can’t help remembering that I had the same questions all those years ago when our President was shot and killed. The frustration and sadness that H is experiencing in exactly what I dealt with at almost the same age she is. I was a sophomore student, one year older than H, and was attending university in my home town.

My granddaughter H was born and reared in Chapel Hill. She’s a freshman at the university there. It’s the oldest state university in the country. It’s small-town southern America with a great deal more diversity than most towns in the state. It’s the diversity that makes it a very special place.photo(20)

 

H’s parents have taught her to have a strong sense of justice and to do what is right. Not just for herself, but for those in her community–all of them. She has marched in the state capital for voter rights and other issues. Whenever she sees someone in need, she chooses to help if she can. Eventually this crime in her home town will strengthen her convictions. But first she has to mourn.

 

 

 

Going home.

pavilionI’m going home tomorrow. I’ve been away since October 19. I wish I could tell you I’ve been on an extended vacation. But I have not. I’m happy, however, to report that I can chuckle  as I take a moment to remember the dreamlike haze of many of the nights I spent here under the influence of drugs, given to me to help dull the pain enough for me to sleep.

I hope to write more about the use of drugs to manage pain. That will have to be a future post. This post must be short because I’m tired, sleepy (but can’t sleep). I’m both excited and scared about being home again. You see, my home, my safe haven betrayed me and took me down back in October. Or maybe my body was the betrayer. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

Just after midnight on October 19, I had insomnia and so I decided to get up and go downstairs. Sometimes moving to the couch allows me to doze off and sleep for the rest of the night. I managed to descend about four steps when suddenly I found myself skiing down the stairs at an olympic pace. I still don’t know quite how it happened.

I sustained several injuries — the worst being multiple fractures in the sacrum. I was fortunate enough to get my hand on my cell phone and was able to dial 911. (In the US that’s the call to report an emergency.) The service is quite good. I heard the siren start almost immediately.

So, I have spent the last 40-something days in the hospital, and then the rehabilitation center.

I’ve missed reading your blogs and hope to get back in touch soon as I work my way back to I’m not sure what. I thinking a full recovery with lots of determination and patience. Oh, and therapy. Communicating with all of you in the meantime will become a part of my emotional therapy, I’m sure.

And life is still good.

Small (and large) comforts see me through.

I had my second corneal transplant yesterday. My left eye seems to be progressing at about the same rate as the right one did back in February.photo(2) I’m not one to quote the Bible but I can’t help thinking about the verses in 1st Corinthians 13 about first seeing dimly and then seeing clearly. I could hardly see through the haze at all yesterday. Today I’m seeing better, though still through a veil. In a few days, if I progress as I hope to, I will see clearly.

This is nothing short of miraculous. I find myself feeling tremendously grateful to the donors who cared enough about others to make their organs available in the event of their demise. It’s a generous and forward-thinking and liberal act.

And it’s impossible to appreciate the donors without thinking and wondering about the families and friends they have left behind. I don’t need to meet them but I wish I were able to send a thank-you note for this remarkable gift that is my much-improved sight. I thank you most kindly.

Also, to my family and friends who so graciously give your time and love and transportation in order to make my way easier, I give you my thanks and my love.

And I mustn’t forget Lulu aka Baby who snuggles with me and comforts me when there’s no one else here to do it.photo(18)

Another letter to my ex-husband.

Sometimes an idea for a post pops into my head. If the notion pays the rent and takes up residence, I feel compelled to write it out.photo-43

I have noticed for months that there is one post I wrote early in my blogging days which continues to get attention. It’s called “A letter to my ex-husband.” and it consistently receives 50-60 clicks a week. I think this is telling me that there are new “victims” every day who seek comfort and company on the internet. Hopefully, they are seeking to lose that feeling of being the victim. What I know is that most are in a great deal of emotional distress.

Then I start to wonder, “Should I revisit that post? Should I write an update?” I seldom return to old posts. It’s rather like a sixteen-year-old backtracking to read what she wrote in her diary as a twelve-year-old — naïve and poorly written.

Dear D,

I have just read and re-read the open letter I wrote to you back in November, 2010. I stand by what I wrote. If I were composing the same letter today I might not use the Pearl Harbor metaphor but I’m not sorry I used it then. That’s how I felt at the time. I hope my writing is somewhat improved since those days.

I’m happy to say that I no longer dwell on the difficulties of that period in our history. My life moves along with more happy times than not as I try to focus on those most important in my life — my family. I must admit, though, that I still miss your family. At the time, I felt as if I had suffered multiple amputations but those wounds have mostly healed.

I have come to realize the we have a history — you, your family and I. And I know now that it’s mine to keep. No one, no divorce, no would-be interloper can ever take that away from me. I’m free to remember the happy times, and sad, as I choose. I even have a couple of pictures of you on display in my house. There’s one of you and two cute little granddaughters, all of you wearing identical Harley Davidson t-shirts. There’s the one of you and me and H when she was baptized  in your grandmother’s christening gown. When someone who doesn’t know you sees the latter and asks me if that’s my ex, I always say, “Yes, it is. Wasn’t he a handsome fellow.”

As I was reading the old letter and starting to write this post, I remembered the disconcerting dizziness of feeling as if I were on a merry-go-round back when I first heard the infamous divorce announcement. My mind would get in a loop and I had a hard time escaping the negative and unhelpful self-conversations. I even dreamed about carousels and their eerie, hypnotic music. I would feel it slowing and think it was slow enough to step off. But, alas, I would stumble and fall in a teary puddle every time.

My son-in-law recently told me about going to a colleague’s office to discuss a work-related matter. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, she looked at him and stated, “My husband is having an affair.” He asked me why she had said that to him. They weren’t buddies or anything so why would she do that? My immediate response was, “That’s all she could think about.” In other words, she was on the merry-go-round. It takes a while to get off. I had to ask the same “What did I do wrong?” question over and over before I finally let it go as unanswerable.

You’d think one carnival ride would be metaphor enough for one in the throes of despair. Not for me. I went straight from the carousel to a giant roller coaster. And sometimes the two merged into a monstrous nightmare.photo-73 This new ride came along when I stopped asking hypothetical questions and started to figure out what I must do to take care of me. I allowed my anger at you and at my situation to spring into action.

Anger can be a wonderful resource and motivator. It enabled me to start taking care of important divorce-related issues. Things like feeding myself properly, getting enough sleep and starting to raise my consciousness about financial matters and finding the right attorney to help me with my decision-making.

During this period the roller coaster started going up fairly often and I would feel pretty good. Fear would strike and I would crash back down. In between there were loop-de-loops when I was upside down and inside out and didn’t know what I was doing. One wise person named John told me, “Some things just take time.” He was right. As I found my sense of humor again and enabled my positive attitude, I came through and am better for it. I truly hope you are too.

Life is good as I remember our happy times together.

Fondly, Pat

 

 

I (heart) San Francisco.

I have nine grandchildren. Anyone who reads my blog or has ever met me knows this fact about me.photo-61 Being a grandmother is my best job yet. As each grandchild graduates from high school, I try to take him/her on a trip. Last year I took grandchild #3 to San Francisco. (I wrote about it here.) This year grandchild #4 requested the same trip. I think, initially, the attraction of the City by the Bay is its frequent presence in television programs and movies. I’m happy to report, though, that there is a great deal more depth than that in today’s youth and once they find themselves in the city, they are as captivated as I am by the history, the art, the people, et al.

photo-50
Flowers, flowers
everywhere, we should have worn some in our hair.

 

Chinatown is a must. We went there twice. The colors, the smells, the lanterns, the people. photo-44 photo-45Wonderful.

 

 

 

 

Some people told us not to miss Pier 39, others told us it was nothing but an amusement park. I disagree with the latter. It’s much more than that.photo-52 One of my granddaughter’s favorite things there was observing the sea lions from above.photo-62 There was one grumpy old fellow (or gal) who defended his territory with a vengeance. Fascinating to watch.

The only thing Iphoto-43 saw that gave the pier an amusement park feel was the carousel. We didn’t ride it but it has some imaginative and interesting animals for those who are so inclined.

photo-46I don’t know why I’m fascinated by the piano-playing stairway, but I am.photo-60 On the left is a photo of granddaughter #3 playing us a lively tune. On the right is this year’s traveler doing the same.

There’s a wonderful produce kiosk on the pier. Fresh fruits and vegetables galore.photo-59  photo-58Ranier cherries and freshly picked strawberries. Does life get any better? Yum!

Almost everyone who goes to San Francisco wants to visit the crookedest road in the country, or so they say. It’s very difficult to get a good shot of the curviness of the road with a phone camera. photo-42I was intrigued by this fairytale-like entry to one of the houses on Lombard Street so I’m showing you that instead.

We had lunch in Sausalito–best crab cake I’ve ever eaten.photo-63



Last year we didn’t make it to Haight Ashbury. I’m happy to say we went there this trip. I, being an old hippie, enjoyed that part of the trip more than my daughter and granddaughter did. photo-47It was (and still is) much romanticized. Truthfully, the only thing I find romantic about it is some of the architecture. photo-49I like the painted ladies. Many of them are being well cared for now and are simply lovely to look at. I think my travel buddies enjoyed the “ladies” too. And H (age 18) loved the huge music/poster store on Haight Street.

I went “heart” seeking again this year. I wrote about the hearts last year so I won’t repeat myself. I will leave you with a photo one of my favorite this-year hearts along with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world.photo-54

 


A bulletproof blanket?!?

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for two or three weeks. I’m trying to think it through and see all sides of the guns-in-America problem.photo-35 But the only thing I can see is the need for change, for our children to be safe, for no more parents to suffer the loss of their babies. This issue came to a head for me via Facebook.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I have truly enjoyed getting in touch with people I haven’t seen in years–family and friends. It’s been fun to learn which cousins/relatives think very much as I do, and which are my polar opposites philosophically and politically. I love all of them. They’re family.

I squealed with delight when I started to understand how much alike my cousin S and I are. I was perhaps more subdued when I noticed that one of my cousins is a gun-rights person. But I thought about it and nodded as if to say to myself, “Yep. That’s my boy.” He’s my way of coming to realize that not all gun people are crazy, though some seem to be. But I know my cousin’s heart and I know he’s not a knee-jerk crazy. He’s family and I love him.

Befriended “friends” (sorry for the redundancy) are not always like family. We don’t get to choose family. We can, whether we realize it or not, choose friends, whatever the venue.

. I seldom “friend” anyone on Facebook. Why is that? On the one hand, there’s a niggling feeling inside me that fears they won’t respond. Would I feel rejected if someone didn’t take me on? I’d like to think I’m mature enough not to care that much. Heck, I might not even remember that I asked. On the other hand, there’s a more than niggling feeling that some may be right-wing nut cases. (I didn’t intend to name call, but there you have it. That’s the real me.) I’m also well aware that they may have similar concerns about me.

The real me often feels conflicted when an acquaintance (old or new) sends me a friend request. I’m happy to hear from all of them and to learn how they are and what they’re doing. At the same time I wonder how I’m supposed to deal with those I find disagreeable. Generally I can ignore the posts I consider crazy or mean-spirited or hateful or unkind. I think that’s probably the best approach. Occasionally, though, I have a gut-wrenching need to respond in some way.

About three weeks ago a “friend” from my childhood posted about the now infamous bulletproof blankets designed for school children.screen shot 2014-06-10 at 7.30.47 am
When I first saw the photo shown here I wanted to sit down and cry. Then I wanted to go find the person who promoted this product on his/her FB page and scream, “Have you lost your freaking mind?!?” And that’s why I didn’t write anything right away.

Even now, as I write, I feel a roiling in my stomach and an increase in blood pressure. I feel sad. I have an anguished mental vision of parents and teachers trying to explain to children why they need these $1000 “blankets.” I don’t feel anger so much toward my “friend” anymore but I still have livid, blood-boiling anger for the companies who are trying to make money off parents’ and children’s fears. They’re putting a very expensive band-aid on a bleeding, gaping wound instead of putting aside politics in order to find a permanent solution to this horrible scourge.

This is not, should not, be a political issue. This is a uniquely American problem that MUST be fixed. When will we ever learn?

There you have it. I’m spent. Exhausted. Please tell me what you think whether you agree with me or not.

 

 

A bump in the road.

Finding myself in the middle of a 20-degrees-cooler-than-average day in Charlotte in June is like coming upon an oasis in the desert and realizing it’s not a mirage.photo-32 I’m enjoying a slow, steady rain and plenty of time to read or play or eat frozen yogurt or almost anything I  choose on a pleasant day like this.

This is the kind of day when I would enjoy a walk in the rain. Notice I said  that I can do almost anything I want. Unfortunately, my outdoor activity is somewhat restricted by my fairly new ortho boot. I wouldn’t want to get it wet. (Imagine a wry smile here.)

Early last week–in the middle of the night–I fell and re-injured my already compromised and seriously bum ankle. Have you ever walked to the foot of the stairs, thought you had reached the bottom, and then realized, “Uh-oh, I wasn’t at the bottom yet.” I don’t recommend it. I’m sorry to admit that I’ve done it more than once. This time was the worst. though.

As it turns out, I sprained my ankle and apparently gave a bit of a twist to the knee. I also fractured a navicular bone in my upper foot.photo-33 It’s a small bone and not too serious. My knee came through it with no damage. The boot is for the ankle and it holds aforementioned bone in the proper place while it heals.

I’ve learned that I can do most indoor chores and activities if I wear the boot. I’m allowed to sleep without it.

So here I sit–healing–in mind, body, and spirit. And that’s why I’m so happy about the weather, even more glad than usual. I can sit on my front porch and read while I listen to the rain. I can elevate my foot on the railing and think positive, feel-good thoughts for myself and for “all God’s creatures.” Hope the snakes stay away.

As my doctor said, “This is just a bump in the road.”