The Number 69

Sixty-nine arrived on the fifteenth of this month.
It will remain for another three hundred and sixty-four days.
It gave me an unwanted bolt of reality…one not to ignore.

As an adult, a birthday and another year passing was a usual happening.  I even enjoyed birthday presents!  Then, after the one major event which struck out at me seemed to change my world.  I began to feel I was on some precipice scratching for a twig that would steady a slippery slide.  The twig’s hold worked for many months.  Then to my exasperation,  a collection of deleterious ills happened to me.  I thought I had let go of the twig and landed in a huge cup and saucer.  The cup and saucer sat  on a spinning circle that slowed only for a second.  As it slowed, another little lifetime ill had occurred .

I often think–

At fifteen you pine for freedom so that you can do as you wish.
At 20 life cannot hurt you when you meet it head on fearlessly.
At 40 your career blossoms and you smile and count your money!
When 50 rolls around they say you are over-the-hill!  Stupid–
And the next decade begins a slow spiral own to the number 69.
The future is something akin to a crap shoot….Some Win and Some Lose.

Maybe now it is the time for bit more thought:

  • Norman Cousins–
    The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.
  • Robert Frost–
    The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
  • Me–
    Sometimes to soak myself in my tears and fears, I find that even misery can bring strength back to the mind.
  • John Scalzi—
    The problem with aging is not that it’s one damn thing after another—it’s every damn thing, all at once, all the time.
  • Linda Robinson—
    I have to start loving what comes next and stop hating I won’t be a part of it.
  • My Mother—
    To look backwards  does no good, look forward to Tomorrow and what it may bring.

A Trilogy of Misfortune

The Members of  the Trilogy
Rhoda (The Mother of Ruth, the Grandmother of Sara)
Ruth (The Daughter of Rhoda, The Mother of Sara)
Sara (The Daughter of Ruth, the Granddaughter of Rhoda

In July of 2008, I wrote a good-bye letter to my sister-in-law Rhoda. She was in hospice and died of pancreatic cancer within a day or two. A link to my letter to her is: Dear Rhoda. You will read in the preamble that she had one daughter and a granddaughter left behind that she felt responsible for their welfare.

I don’t remember the first time I met her daughter Ruth, but it was in Montreal where she lived with her parents. In a short time her parents were divorced and Rhoda moved with her to Florida. By the time M and I moved to Florida a whole lot of “not so pleasant history” had been created. Ruth and I saw each other a lot in Florida and I realized she was very smart, wickedly funny and self centered. Many of her problems started when she was a small girl in Montreal where I believe she made up her mind that her Mother owed her for her misfortunes.

Unfortunately, in the early 80’s Ruth became pregnant and was married. The marriage didn’t last long and after the divorce, Ruth, with Rhoda’s help, tried to maintain some type of home life for the daughter. The years were difficult for Ruth since she had many physical problems. In particular Crohn’s disease which worsened with each year that passed

Her health was always precarious simply because she refused to follow a suggested diet plan to control the Crohn’s. She always preferred eating hot dogs, donut, spicy food and deep fried food that aggravated the Chrohns. Eventually she had a total exoneration and afterward gave little thought that it was time to make some changes.

About two years ago, Ruth developed pancreatic cancer. At that time, she could have had surgery so that she could live. She refused surgery and never wanted to acknowledge that she had a cancer that would kill her. Two days before she died she told M she was going home and that once she was there she would be fine.

Ruth died and it is sad to say that we are not sure if there was any type of burial. It is even sadder that she wasted her life so successfully.

Ruth’s daughter, Sara, was a manic depressive. She, like her mother was bright. Sara tried to make something of her life, but it was too difficult. The last years she lived with Pete who was at least 2-3 times her age. I never met him, but photos show him old and grizzly. Pete smoked endlessly and found he had fully developed lung cancer. He never told Sara he had cancer, but promised her that he would make sure she always had their condo to live in.

Pete died. Sara was alone, depressed and sad to have lost Pete. She wrote sad love poems to him and posted them on Facebook. Pete was the only person she ever had that she could depend upon. Her mourning never lessened and one day, her father let himself into her condo and found her slumped over her computer. We are sure she took something to stop the paint.

I could write more. I won’t. It is so unusual that within a few short years three related people died, two Mothers, one a grandmother and a daughter that was also a grandchild. We often speak about this trilogy of death. We understand the why’s of each person yet it leaves us with an odd feeling when you know nothing could ever have changed the destiny of this family.

To Remember and Decide

Thanksgiving is upon us.  Last year I couldn’t think of Thanksgiving because my Mother just passed away.  A year later the holiday brings so many memories of her, particularly the Thanksgiving Dinner that she loved to prepare.  Like a few times in the past, this year I will make another Thanksgiving Dinner and as usual when I make a Thanksgiving dinner it will be far less irresistible than Momma’s ever were.  I am a trained Chef and a darned good cook, but to make a turkey and all the trimmings is something Momma was stellar at and I barely competent to compare.

As a small child on the farm I always enjoyed watching Momma stuff the turkey, but more importantly I knew her dressing mixture was going to be heavenly just as soon as that turkey was done.  Momma’s turkey, as well as the dressing brought incredible wafts of butter, sage and browning turkey as the hours passed waiting for it to be done.  Momma never rushed her turkeys.  In fact she got up early just to get it in and be able to watch over it and patiently baste it when necessary, making it moist and tender.  Oh as I write I can smell and I remember the taste.  I remember the leftovers and the unparalleled turkey sandwiches I could concoct from the slices of light and dark meat.

Momma was at her best on the holidays.  She loved cooking but more importantly she enjoyed making dinner for her family.  As in all families we had our traditional trimmings, each of course better than the next, each a little more fattening than the last, but it was worth every calorie.  As I grew up I learned to space myself just a little so that I didn’t get that full achy, sleepy feeling from the triptafan.   Yet, regardless of trying, the time arrived that made me realize that  if I didn’t stop eating I would surely bust.  Unfortunately, when I woke during the night I always sneaked out to the kitchen for another bite of that heavenly turkey.

The last Thanksgiving my Mother orchestrated was just two years before she died.  Momma had an idea and asked if I minded that she planned the table and the menu.  The next days following her request were days filled with surprises, shopping, memories and work for her.  At the time she was still able to go shopping, although bound to her wheel chair.  She had her list ready for shopping.  First to Joann’s Crafts and Hobby Lobby to see what was new in fabrics and decor.  Momma made her selection for the tablecloth and skirt, then on to deciding just which faceplate would make the table look the way she wanted.  While at the two shops she also chose leaves, a wonderful metal turkey and other items for the centerpiece.  During that little escapade Momma asked how she could make a big cookie for everyone, something once again that was goood, but also pretty.  At first I was a little confused and asked if she wanted this for the dessert.  No, that wasn’t the idea she had.  Rather than just give them a cookie Momma wanted it to be wrapped and placed at the table space in a clear bag.

After more shopping for food Momma arrived home ready to work.  That was Momma, but I cautioned her that we had plenty of time and tomorrow, after she rested we could begin.  The next day after, barely past the time I got Momma up and in her wheelchair, I was reminded she needed to start working on her special cookies.  Momma, with her right side paralyzed, in her wheelchair was determined to make the cookie dough.  I placed the mixer on a low stand by her, brought all the ingredients and in a fair amount of time she was ready for me to roll and cut the dough for her.


Nearly a year ago I began this post.  As I reached the end of the paragraph above the line I stopped.  I couldn’t continue writing.  The memories became to intense remember that wonderful day.  I have kept the tablecloth and all the decorations, yet to this day I am unable to look at them with out missing her.

Last years Thanksgiving was fine.  I made a turkey and all the trimmings and as I sat at the head of the table I asked myself why did I do all of this because my guests could never know or understand the Thanksgivings from my past.  They were special to me and I knew that I did not like the idea of forging a new Thanksgiving of my own, particularly when most of the people I could have for guests only see it as another year.

I vowed that night that I would never try a Thanksgiving Dinner again.  This year I will be at my sister’s in Illinois.  If anyone can come close to the family dinner I enjoy so much is my sister.  I know that Thanksgiving Day will be and taste like it always did.

And then I shall return from Florida and prepare a Christmas/Hannukah Dinner, especially for my dear sister-in-law, who has become a new person  in my life who believes in me as much as my Mother.  Shirley, even though Jewish, understands that for me Christmas is a gay wonderful time.  It was significant in my family, yet held a different position of importance.  Thanksgiving Momma always prepared and planned.  Christmas was a time when we all brought a bit of us to the day and dinner to show our love for each other.  So, when Shirley once said to me I would love, just once to see a big white Christmas tree with sparkling packages under it and a house all decorated for Christmas, there wasn’t much hesitation to say to her, “This year Shirley will be your own White Christmas.”




Through the Gray There Will Be!!

This post is warmly dedicated to

Shadowlands and Tauna

to each I send much love………

In my own way I am very determined to make my new path so that when I step within my Crepusculum,  I will be able to breathe a sigh and say, “You made It–You made it Your Way!!!”  And when I say that. I want to be able to jump, to wave, to sing, to laugh joyously, to know that at that moment I am happy and that I will continue to make my days happy.  Nor will I feel sad that I have entered that era of my life.  It should and will be a time to rejoice that I am that mature, that I have worked to be happy and that I am ready for what tomorrow brings me.

In this world of gray that I live, the one that will continue to jettison me to my renaissance, is a world that I have to remember there will  only be a few people close to me that say “Its good, you will make it, you follow your heart and do it your way!”  That’s the key of the gray because so many good-willed people forget that each of us, no matter how much we are nudged, can only do it ourselves.  The gray in life isn’t just the overcast sky caused by a dense cloud cover, it is much closer, it is the part of me that is overwhelmed, filled with thoughts and emotions and so thick that it is impossible to sort, sift or dispense with easily.  Then that gray begins to grow even more thickly simply because there is a lack of seratonin in me.  So many things causes the gray.  Each human’s gray is filled with different reasons, although some can be similar.  My gray, for instance,  is filled with ongoing grief, guilt, ambivalence in relationships, some friendships and not being industrious to set a groundwork for a personal legacy.

Months have passed and the majority around me urge me to just get on with it.  Its time you pulled yourself out from where you are, the time has been too long, they say.  Then there are others who wish never to acknowledge that there ever was something that allowed me to slide, slide pitifully into the densest of grays.  Its quite an experience if you have never been there.  You don’t think to well, you don’t care to write, thank god because the words just aren’t in the head.  Most days and hours you are not attentive.  You don’t care about anything even yourself.  Then  sleeplessness walks in, non-stop eating makes itself at home in your head and further withdrawal from sharing continues until it is nearly extinguished.  Yet for me, there remained two remarkable people who never expected more from me than what I was for any particular day.  Never did they coax me to change, yet their contact with me was always supportive in a wonderfully quiet way.  These two rare people know me the best of anyone because I tell them everything and they listen and   let me know they are always there.

Well, now there is a little break in that gray that wraps around me.  Yes I decided that I needed to begin living, but that does not mean that I give up and accept all the reasons for the gray.  I think perhaps what is unique that this little beginning of Renaissance in  life allows me to continue to sift and sort, heal and pamper all the emotions in the gray.  In fact, it gives me new tools to see and to evaluate and to come to terms with myself.  My two special people have unknowingly given me more help than anyone.  It is destiny I believe that brought each of us together.  One is like a sister to me who knows me so well and can tell when something is wrong, who has gone through more grief and pain than anyone should have  to bear and yet has always given  me continual support and prayer.  The other person, simply put has become my Sage, with enough wisdom to set confusing matters straight in a quiet way, yet also is plagued by many physical problems.  I think that is why they both are so special and their words are taken so easily to heart.  Each has their own pain in living but each have always been willing to give support by sharing their own adversity.

And, during this whole time of nothing, of pushing gray to one side only to find it coming back again, I continually thought what my Mother believed in so strongly and that was of Tomorrow.  Now I do think of tomorrow and also have noticed that when I see someone not smiling or not being pleasant I often tell them that smiling makes a big difference in life, smiling is like a ray of golden sun and if you share that ray of sun with others you will find you receive much warmth and understanding in return.

As I write I smile because during all this gray I have begun to grow from within.  There is much more compassion, much more logic than before and possibly if I look hard enough I will see that wisdom has rested with the walls of my heart.  Yes, there still is so much more that I need to do, to work on.  But only in the last few days has this begun to happen.  I know there will be more that I will be able to understand and a fresh willingness to want to explore life.  It will all come in good time and only when I am ready.  But for now I am pleased that I have my little beginning to a Renaissance at it will lead me to the next stage where I can grow just a little more.

To those who are uncomfortable with me and my gray I promise to be more cautious with whom I share my life.   Some people just can’t handle my past and current emotional state.  That’s fine with me–because I do believe that through the gray there will be life.

To Know the Spring in my Garden

It is now Spring.  Not by the official date and not by the weather, but by amazing sights that I first saw as a child and did not appreciate.  Then, so much later in life these stunning sights became more poignant to me as I relayed all the things I was doing outside to my Mother.  As she lay in her bed, attentive and interested, she was ready to suggest or explain how I should understand what a garden needs to flourish.  Momma loved all flowers, although her favorite flower was the rose, in particular she was partial to The Abraham Lincoln, deep red rose, a white, Empress rose just tinged in the palest of pink and the very charismatic Yellow tea rose.  Each summer she looked forward to the many bouquets I brought from the gardens, but none of that would not have happened if she didn’t give me her love for making it all happen and appreciate how much a garden of colorful flowers can give you back.

Spring came this year not many days ago.  Yes, prior to now there was a premature, weatherman Spring and there was the official start of Spring that was followed by freezing temperatures, snow, sleet, rain, more rain, snow and rain.   Finally, April Showers began, much the same as when I lived on the farm many years ago.  There are days of rain and chill, a sky where clouds then break and warm rays of sun fall across the land, then possibly very windy days or nights filled with more rain or fine showers or a small group of warm, warm days with bright cumulus clouds up above.  Yes, it was that way this year and even though I should have been out earlier I had other projects to tend to.

As I begun my task of cleaning up my garden and yard I began humming an Italian song that my Mother and I always listened to in the afternoon.  It wasn’t until after my Mother passed away that I realized what the song, Al Di La, was all about.  Al Di La is a place, far, far above the clouds to a place where a loved one is that guides you and one day will greet you on your final journey.  I knew why I hummed this because Momma was there guiding me, up there, far, far above the white, voluminous cumulus clouds.   At that moment I felt peaceful to know she was there and as I babbled to my garden, I could also share everything with her as I always did.

First came the pruning of dead, perennial stalks and uncovering the little roses from their insulation of Canadian Peat Moss.  Next, as I worked from one side of the first bed to the other, the Spring came to me.  There as I moved leaves and debris carefully from the plants center the tiny shoots of new life greeted me for our first chat.  They are Spring, the little hidden, little leaves signaling new life as I am bent low and move leaves carefully to find the tiny, living treasures.  The next day after a night rain brings even more Spring to the little leaves and stalks because in one night they have tripled their size.  They are amazing,  they have returned to me one more year to please and bring color and texture to my garden.

Momma knew all this and simply by giving me some hints, or told a story, she imparted her knowledge of gardening to me.  Now Momma still guides my hand as she watches far, far above the white, voluminous cumulus clouds in a place that is called Al Di La.

Remembering Momma’s Birthdays

Momma’s birthday was always a special day, even when I was small.  It was as exciting to me as my own, except that Momma’s was exciting because I planned for weeks what  we should do for her, buy for her or make for her.  For me, even then, it wasn’t a drudgery to do things for Momma that was special.  She loved life and especially loved the days like her birthday to see what we had up our sleeves.  Regardless of what we planned Momma always was estatic and pleased with our choices.  Momma always was fun, loving and appreciative.

When I entered adulthood I didn’t always have the time to give Momma a party or even bake her a cake, but the day was never forgotten; a gift was bought and sent or kept until I would see her, then first thing on the morning of her birthday I called to speak with her.  Usually she and my father had something planned for her birthday, yet Momma always needed to know what I was up to, regardless of birthday’s, Momma always was interested in how I was doing.

After my father died and Momma and I moved to Arizona I began giving her real birthday parties.  Each one was different and each one Momma looked forward to experiencing it.  So many times on the day of her birthday she was anxious to just get it going!!  Her best parties were her 75, 80, 85th and her last her 87th birthday.  I was afraid to not have a party on her 87th for fear it was her last.  It was and now this year I have all of these memories popping forth from my heart.  I don”t know how many times I have turned for Momma, not questioning that she couldn’t be here.  Maybe at all of those times Momma has been here and that is why I turn.

I miss Momma more than anyone can know. 

Momma was and is my anchor, a guiding force for me.  So often now I know Momma’s little hand is guiding me through a task.  She is here with me in all I do and tomorrow I shall be with her to share our memories of a truly remarkable person on her birth date.

I love you Momma and I shall be with you always–
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Remembering Momma

The Letter in my Head–

Dear Momma,
Its been a little over three months since you left. Each and every day I think of you and talk to you. Each night as I go to bed we still have our time together, except now I am just beginning to realize I will never be able to see you again. Its then, in the darkness of the room that the reality strikes. I know you are in my heart, my mind and every fiber of my body, but for years you have always been no further away than at the end of the phone and more recently in the same room as I.

They, almost anyone, tells me time makes all the difference. Others wonder why I still mourn. Thankfully others, especially here–those I have on my blogroll,  give support and patience. If they only knew you, I think your reaction to death and the way you handled the times in your life when you lost someone close, would present a much different scenario than I am living. But, there are significant differences in the way that we see ourselves and life. You never had a mother or other person like you. You provided me with stability and strength, but more importantly consistency in love. You only had yourself to depend upon early in life and that helped you Momma, whereas I have had you as my anchor and now I float, still trying to find just the right place to light.

When Sherry and I were at your grave arranging the flowers I waited as long as I could to talk to you. Finally, as you saw, I just laid on the new sod and started talking, just as I always did. Momma, the sod was like grass letting me see you clearly, yet also as I looked up and to the horizon I felt you there and knew you were watching from far away. Its strange, but Sherry can’t face you are not here and refuses to enter into grief. The day you talked with her to watch out for me comes to me all the days since you left. She never visits, nor calls. Just like when you were here Momma, nothing changes much.

Momma, I shall miss you always. I shall never stop talking to you. I shall be with you again  one day and then this chapter of my life will be laid to rest.   It is my belief, only mine since you know we have a couple atheist around, that I will see you in Paradise. If I didn’t have that belief I don’t think I could make it through the days.

I bid Ciao for now, send you my love and now I shall end this letter like every letter you ever wrote to me.


for ever



and ever……………….