And It’s ON!

A few months back my Shishter (not to be confused with my S-I-S-T-E-R) and I were discussing her budding relationship with this handsome feller who had wandered into her life.

My Shishter is 34, never married, quite beautiful, and has always sort of pooh poohed the idea of love. She could’ve probably been married as many times as Tammy Wynette by now, had she wanted to.  She’s always been very picky and would write somebody off if they didn’t possess a quality she wanted in a man or if there was something she didn’t quite like, never looking back or second guessing her decision to dump or compromising her standards.

I’ve always admired her un-clingyness to men and that she wouldn’t go out with one because she “needed” one. She’s very independent, self-sufficient and totally comfortable with herself to not need a guy in her world.

She had met The Fireman, who had been married previously and has three children, two of whom are young adults who still live at home and another one that’s about 5. 

She was telling me of a situation where plans had changed, with the Fireman,  at the last moment, as things have a tendency to do when one is a parent. She wasn’t much crazy about it at all and said something like she didn’t know if she wanted to do this because she liked her “nice, quiet, no drama” sort of life. 

Being the wise old grandmother I am, I said to her “Shishter…you have been pretty fortunate in your life to not have anything really rock your world. You do realize that tomorrow your world could be turned upside down by something totally out of your control, don’t you? You could go home and find your house totally burned to the ground with every possession you own gone or you could get a frightening, life-changing diagnosis.”  I went on and on with my sermon,  because after all, I’ve been through the illnesses and deaths of both of my parents, lived through my 16-year-old daughter telling me she was pregnant, a divorce, blah, blah….I was beginning to sound like the Charlie Brown schoolteacher to myself even.

There was NO way I would’ve guessed that within a couple of months, what I told her was going to, like, really happen.  I was talking hypothetical. Totally. My Shishter has had it pretty good.

Last Wednesday, my dear best friend found out that she has breast cancer and probably next week will undergo a double mastectomy to be followed by chemotherapy and probably radiation. She is 34 years old with no family history. She is totally, completely in love for the first time in her life.  This is not supposed to be.  It’s not a bad dream that I’m hoping to wake up from. It’s real. And it all came down so quick.

She found her lump a week ago Wednesday. She always did regular self checks. This came up out of nowhere.

I have no doubt that my Shishter has the cojones to kick this cancer square in the arse and make it sorry it ever messed with her. She is a tenacious and stubborn girl. I have vowed to fight it right along with her, doing whatever I need or have to do. I’ve told her I will shave my head right along with her. Not that that would fix the problem but if it  makes her feel not quite so alone to deal with the loss of her hair, by golly, I can lose mine too.

Cancer, I hate you. You took my parents, my stepfather, two of my aunts, two uncles, dear friends, but you will NOT take my Shishter from me.

Getting Used To Life Not Being Fair

I was walking through the Kroger yesterday after work and beings it’s Holiday Time, there was a voice on the speaker trying to get people to donate to Second Harvest.
Second Harvest seems to do really good work in feeding the people of Nashville when times are hard. I’ve participated in their various food drives through the years and am always glad to support them and would encourage anybody to help them out.

I could not help but giggle though when I heard the thing on the speaker about giving to Second Harvest. The voice said “Do you know 1 in 8 Tennesseans are at risk for hunger?”

Really? How does that jive with the news earlier this year that Tennessee jumped from 4th place to 2nd place in the nation as the Fatty State?

I am not a statistician nor am I good with numbers but somebody please explain who is right here??? Who is at risk for “hunger?” Define hunger”. Usually, the people I see whipping out the foodstamps at the grocery store do not look like they’ve missed any meals.

The whole thing just made me laugh.

When it comes to matters of a weighty sort, it irritates me to no end because now, I’m at a point where FINALLY, I do not obsess over how I am not as good as this person or that one because I’m not thin. I have birthed 3 children and although I’m not what I think to be big as a house, the weight charts say I am.

I now can boast having some high blood pressure to contend with. Everytime I’m at the doctor, they point out I need to lose weight. I especially love when the doctor’s nurse (who is about one and a half of me put together) calls and says, in regards to my blood pressure management to “Reduce your weight.” Right on, Honey. I’m so encouraged by you since you are so slim and trim yourself. It’s just effed up.

For years, I beat myself up and always felt as though I were inferior to others. The day I married in 1989, my dress was a size 8. AN 8! Yet, in my head, I thought I was as big as a house.

It might’ve been because several months before that, the first time I went out to eat with my future in laws, we were walking through Rivergate Mall. My then future and former sister in law, who is Japanese and weighed all of 100 lbs, and the rest of them, stopped to get a cookie at the cookie shop.

I did not desire a cookie at the moment. At that point, I was not big on sweets. My then future, now former mother in law asked me if I wanted a cookie. I said no. She said to me, with a sort of “Bless Your Heart” tone…”Yeah, I guess you have to really watch what you eat.”

WTF? That was June of 1989. I weighed 130 lbs and fluctuated between a size 6 and 8. I was also 20 years old and I wanted her to approve of me. I was convinced I was a lard ass.

She further convinced me of my heftiness a year after I married her son.

I ran into her one morning right before Christmas, again at the mall. She said “I want to get you some clothes. But not jeans. You don’t look good in jeans.”

Ahh…the Good Ol’ Days….nothing says “love” and “acceptance” quite like your mother in law reminding you you aren’t Twiggy.

I know I need to exercise regularly. I know this. I know I need to eat smarter. I know I have to think about my health, especially now that I’m over 40 and I don’t want to be 75 -80 years old and being one of those that say “If I’d have known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” 

It especially hits home because the last few days, my thoughts have been with a wonderful family I’ve known since I was a small child who are, at this writing, sitting by the bedside of their 44 year old son and brother in a hospice in Ft. Smith, Arkansas,  waiting for him to die as a result of a brain stem stroke he suffered last week.

John was a good school chum of my sister. We went to church with them when we were really young. I was in Sunday School with his brother and later in the Franklin band with him and his future wife. As an adult, their father was my upline boss. They are such great folks and I’m so heartbroken for them with what they are going through. He was not what I’d call huge but he did enjoy food, wine and life in general. Probably too much.

In your 20’s and 30’s, you eat, drink, smoke all you want and it doesn’t seem to have a lot of effect on your body, at the time. Somehow, though, you cross that 40 Line, and you suddenly have to, like, THINK about all that.

These are things in my brain today…

A Plea To Miranda and Hilary

I gripe often about the current state of Country Music. So much so, I know it’s quite redundant and it makes me sound like I might possibly be running low on my Geritol.  Brace yourselves…for I am about to embark on a positive pontification about a couple of current Country Music people. This doesn’t happen often, nor can I predict when it will happen again. Soak it up, y’all.

I actually LIKE Miranda Lambert. There, I said it. She writes her own songs and chooses songs that have substance, a good beat and are easy to dance to. She can play a guitar. She’s from Texas.  She can harmonize. (Not everybody can. This brings large points with me from any singer)

I looove that Little White Liar song she sings. There’s some other song I’ve heard of hers that I can recall its title at the moment but I like it. I LOVE “The House That Built Me.” First time I heard it, which was not long after my mother died, I proceeded to burst into controllable tears and sobbing.

Admittedly, I have an issue with Miranda and Sheryl Crow singing with my Loretty on “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, namely because she doesn’t say “In the summertime we didn’t have shoes to waaaaaar; but in the wintertime, we’d all get a brand new paaaaaaar” like it was intended by the Good Lord to be done. (I am saying this in the same tone Loretty tells Doo in the movie that “You don’t put no salt in chocolate pie…you jess put shigger”)

Songs like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” should not be sung by anyone who is not the offspring of a coal miner.

Now, Patty Loveless was a Coal Miner’s Daughter as obviously was Loretta’s sisters Crystal Gayle and Peggy (PAIG-gy) Sue.   The kids of all those Chilean miners could sing it and I would be tickled! 

I have come to terms with Miranda and Sheryl singing on Coal Miner’s Daughter just because Loretta wanted them to sing it. That’s that.

Anyhoo, back to the newly crowned CMA Vocalist of the Year-Miranda is a beautiful young woman. One of the things that makes her so gorgeous to me is she is not anorexic like her pal here and looks like she’s eaten this week.  You can’t count the bones in her shoulder area. She looks healthy.

Her pal here looks pale and perhaps a little dehydrated. Somebody give Taylor some beans and cornbread!!! Stat!

Look at the gorgeous Hilary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who I ALSO like.

Something about Hilary that stands out is she is a brunette! She has curves. She can sing. Why she thinks she needs those other two guys to have a career, I do not know. 

I implore both Miranda and Hilary…please, PLEASE do not destroy your faces with plastic surgery.  And regardless of what your likely overweight publicists/handlers may try to tell you, you do not need to lose weight.  Even ol’ Reba is starting to get that scary, Mary Tyler Moore-look. Just don’t do it. Reba needed a little help. You girls do NOT. 

I did not watch the awards at all last night. I purposely skipped them. I realized late last night why I really didn’t have a desire to watch and it wasn’t because I feared upchucking over the off-key singing I knew I would hear.

Reason I didn’t want to watch was I knew I wouldn’t get multiple phone calls from Mom saying how much she misses Ernest Tubb and asking why that Sugarland girl kept showing her armpits.


Alive and Well

Ben says I should blog again. I don’t even know that he’s read my blog, that was largely written before he ever came into my life.  He must have.

Thing is, I will sometimes want to pontificate about the Most Wonderful Man in the World but I’m sorta scared to. He is all about privacy. He doesn’t Facebook. I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it, huh?

What have I been  up to lately?

Well, I do have this most adorable little grandbaby who has turned me into a bumbling idiot, as grandbabies tend to do.

It hit me the other day why being a grandparent makes you so silly. 

Arlene Lurlene (not her real name. We call her something different all the time since her Grandpa Smiff first got her name wrong. Heh.) looks exactly like her mother did as an infant.  It’s sometimes frightening because I forget this is a totally different person.  That’s when I realized what makes grandparents so silly over their grandchildren is that you sort of get to relive your child’s infant-hood.  I think somewhere down deep is this idea that maybe…just maybe…you can get the things RIGHT you didn’t get right with their parents? I don’t know.

I DO know that this little 2 month old Darling is a joy. When she tries to “talk” to me, I melt. I love her so much.

Speaking of Mr. Wonderful… he is still wonderful. We have been together a year! It’s been a wild year indeed but I am so silly about him, I can’t put it into words. Not engaged yet nor are we Ring Shopping.  We aren’t in any hurry for that, although I’d like to think eventually we’ll go there. 

Mr. Wonderful makes me want to be a better person in every single part of my life whether it’s in the way I take the trash out or as a parent, he makes me want to be just plain better. 

This is how I know we are onto something great.

Incase You Were Wondering…

You CAN use Nair for Legs on your face. Just don’t leave it there long. It works much better than the Nair for Face. I can see why.

TMI blah blah…I don’t give a rip. This is good info.

Mom was a faithful Nair user since 1984 after her car accident. She developed a bloodclot and could not use her ancient, horrid razor due to the blood-thinning medication she had to take.  This razor was (what am I talking about “was” it is STILL in her Beauty Bag!) one of those heavy, metal ones you have to replace the blades in. I still bear a scar from when I shaved my legs when I was about 10 when I wasn’t supposed to be. I can’t believe those things are legal for purchase. If she would’ve tried to fly on an airplane with that thing, it would’ve been confiscated.
Anyhoo, she had a whole bottle of Nair so I took it to see if it would work for that pesky, unwanted mess that grows on most women-over-a-certain-ages face, whether you admit to it or not. (Then, there are those chicks who could care less about it and we ALL suffer because of it. Ew).

Ten Days Post Mortem

Today just sucked.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what sucked so bad. It wasn’t a particular memory, thought or nothing like that. Can’t think of anything other than the Hole in my heart was screaming at me today.

I had this dream last night.

In the dream, I was in high school at Brentwood High School. The guidance counselor/assistant principal type (not one of the ones that was actually real) had called me to his office to discuss why my grades were so bad. (That part WAS real). This guy was older and he was nice.

I can’t remember what the Dream Version of the Guidance Counselor’s name was or what he said but he was very warm and friendly. I made a snarky comment about something and he said “I like your style.” He said he needed to call my parents to discuss my poor academic showing with them and I said “You can’t call my parents cause they’re both dead.”

No clue what that dream meant. Interpreters? Anybody? Bueller?

I did not want to get up this morning. I just didn’t. If I’d have had a vacation or sick day, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed. I really wasn’t in the mood to work but I did.

It hit me, at one point during the day, that even though I didn’t feel like being there, it was important for me to be there. As crappy as it is, the doing the regular-stuff-you-don’t-want-to-do is part of the Healing or rather the “Adjusting To Life Without Them” thing.

Maybe tomorrow will be easier.

January 31

New Year’s Day, Mom wanted her Black Eyed Peas. Not THE Black Eyed Peas, as in the band. I don’t even think Mom knew who they were anyway. I barely do so I know she didn’t.

Mom wanted her sacred Black Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day, like she did every single New Year’s that I can remember. I neglected to pick some up from the grocery store before New Year’s Day and they were out of them. Luckily, Ben came to my rescue and had a couple cans and since he was sick in the bed, he didn’t do no cooking that day anyway.

I cooked Mom her BEP’s. Did the cabbage, and she also wanted Pork Chops. I threw in some mashed potatoes cause I just like them. She ate and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it and I was pretty tickled to get to do that for her.

Now, here it is, January 31 and Mom is gone.

I got to thinking today about Mom’s last few months and the way she handled the fact that she was well aware that cancer was in her lymph nodes and spreading but she didn’t choose to take any treatment. I did not blame her then and I do not blame her now.

I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head at how she did this Dying Thing her way. She wanted to be able to enjoy what days she had left. I also know, just knowing her nature, that as a mother, she was thinking of us throughout the whole thing.

Mom took care of two husbands as they withered and died of cancer. Neither situation was pretty. She watched both men go through chemo and radiation and saw how it weakened them. She tried, as much as she could, to spare us some of the ugliness. I can’t help but feel like part of her “denial” was for our benefit. She was a typical mother, “protecting” her cubs, even though the cubs are 43 and 41 (in about a week).

Ben was talking yesterday about his mother’s weight dropped to something like 80 lbs during her final months. Mom was griping in the doctor’s office on January 13 about how she needed to get some of the weight she’d gained while taking steroids off. Photos taken the day after Christmas, she looked like herself, although a more withered version of the lady in the photos we took at Warner Park a little over a year ago. She ate good and kept her weight nicely.

I am reminded that today is the 38th anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Mom’s mother died rather unexpectedly, less than two months after my grandfather died of a heart attack. Maw Maw did not have cancer. I’ve seen her autopsy report (somewhere, I’ve written about the famous conversation of Mom answering the phone telling me she was sitting there reading “Mama’s Autopsy”, like she was telling me that she was sitting there reading a People magazine or something. Heh) Maw Maw had some arteriosclerosis and some other typical conditions a woman in her early 70’s would’ve suffered from. Most in the family believed Maw Maw died of a broken heart. One of the sweetest love stories I know is that of my grandparents.

So, 38 years ago this week, Mom was still coming to terms with losing her beloved father so unexpectedly. They were on the other side of the country, in California and she was in Tennessee. Then, her mother died, going downhill very rapidly. She was there at Christmas and before January was over, she was gone.

How in the world Mom coped with being 2000 miles from her family, with these two little kids, still adjusting to life in Nashville (in 1972, Nashville was not quite as hopping as it is today, folks. She lived in Los Angeles from the time she was a young teenager. BIG adjustment) losing both of her parents so close together….I can’t even wrap my head around that.

I never asked Mom how she did it. She never talked about the effect those losses had on her. She talked a LOT about her parents…”My Mama and Daddy” she called them, with her voice getting a certain reverence and affection that she never used when speaking of any other person or thing. She adored her parents. I wish I would’ve asked her how she did it.

If you have lost parents, you know how it goes-everybody grieves differently. With me, I’m “normal” (shut up, I am too!) the majority of the time, but, I’ve had a couple days where the ache for my Mom is crippling. For me, it comes in almost being sore all over. I’m glad the bad days I’ve had have fallen on the weekend. I work with a bunch of hardened, smart ass construction types. I can’t have those moments around them.

Ben is good at being a smart ass when he wants to be. He was not like that to me yesterday evening when I had a meltdown. He was so warm and wonderful and I’m grateful that he was handy. He understands how I feel. He’s still going through it. I’m glad we have each other. I don’t know that it makes it easier but it’s nice to have somebody around you who knows what it’s like.