Saturday, July 25, 2015

Good Thing

I spent almost a full two hours with my doctor yesterday.  It was my "annual" physical exam plus a follow up to a recent kidney infection that nearly put me over the edge.  My doctor is a wellness person, a brilliant, beautiful woman who has chosen to not allow insurance companies or anything corporate, whatsoever, to dictate how she will practice her profession. And, as a result, she has time to spend with her patients and the whole process of "going to the doctor" reinvents itself into a visit with kindred spirits. Her nurse and receptionist share her philosophy, making the long drive to her office on a Summer morning easy.  Yesterday, two third-year medical students from Boston University were "following" her and it became pay-back time for me, the mother of a B.U. undergrad.
Sure, bring it on, let's have a good time. And that we did. Dr. Patty dished out lots of good advice to her students, gave them the opportunity to participate and to learn and did an extra bit of demonstration when she told us all about a great exercise for balance.  Only in Dr. Patty's office, kids. Your attendings would not be impressed!

Now, in addition to the great medical care, I always get a bonus from my talks with Patty.  She's a good Jew, a convert, but her trust in the metaphysical world and her nod to spirituality, is everywhere. This is a woman who relies heavily on her innate wisdom when she completes the wellness circle and addresses things other than the kidney. And, she listens, so I talk and she never fails to come up with the exact right words.

I have so many random thoughts lately.  Having moved to a new home in the middle of Summer has not allowed me to concentrate on much more than positioning furniture and getting the "basics" done. The need to sit and just "be" has not been met.  I have temporarily lost my own life, the things that served me well as outlets for my creativity.  I'm here, with a blank canvas, waiting for my muse to show up. She does not like heat and humidity and has sent me tiny messages that say that she will be coming, to wait for her arrival and that she will be busy early in the Fall.  Until then, she's advised me to be mindful, to remember who I am and what's important and to allow my body to heal from the assault that it took, most likely as a result of not being mindful enough.

The new home is a few miles away from our last one.  We no longer live a minute away from my father but he does not understand that.  If he was aware of it, by now, he has forgotten it.  I still see him often, perhaps too often and I could do less were I to record my side of the same conversation that we have each and every time I do stop by.  I could have a poster of myself made, or perhaps a blow up version, one that would do just as well filling in for me as a visitor to his home.  When I think of him lately, the words "slot machine" keep coming to mind.  It's that simple. Slot machine. I pull down the lever, the fruits never match up so I never win.  The results?  Always the same. The same trite, meaningless answers.  No emotion.  No sign of caring.  Just a slot machine that doesn't ever pay out.  Good analogy, I think to myself.  Whenever I have been in a casino, I found it very hard to resist playing the slots.  My logic told me that it was highly unlikely that I would win, that the machine would just take my money, add it to the money already in there, and maybe once in a while, spit it out to someone else, but not to me.  But the urge to pull that handle, to maybe get a good response, that was a hard one to resist.

My father is not the father I once knew.  Oh, don't get me wrong, he never, ever was an easy man and always had a way of making me feel small and stupid but I married a man who didn't.  Period.
I finally conclude that the father I was given is dead.  He died a while ago, when my mother started to lose her hold on life.  He slipped away, as if he were hanging onto the edge of a high cliff and slowly, as he let go, he slid to the ground, rolled up into a catatonic ball of a once-person, and rotted away. So the man I so dutifully visit and call every day and take care of, is not even related to me.  I don't know him and frankly folks, I do not like him.

Dr. Patty softly spoke some words of truth to me, as she always does.  She leaned her head towards mine and here is what she said...."It's a good thing when we bury our parents". 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brain Child

My mother in law and I were discussing an old recipe, one that a friend had given her and she had passed it on to me before I was married.  It was funny that both of us had the recipe on our minds at the same time making me wonder what vibes we each had picked up from the universe.  She had lost her copy so I sent her a fresh one and she called to thank me for doing that.  Neither of us had made the silly thing and my excuse was that I did not have a gelatin mold.

"Yes, you do.  I gave you one." Okay.  That might have been ten years ago. She's one hundred years old. So, she gave it to me when she was a mere ninety. I've moved three times since then and while I may very well still have the item, I'm sure it wasn't on the "priority" list of things to un-earth and find the right place for.  We're still looking for the marble top for a table that we moved four years ago.

The other morning, as I stepped out of the shower, I heard a beeping sound coming from my kitchen. As I went in to investigate, thinking that one of our new-to-us appliances had some kind of an alarm that we had inadvertently set the night before, I discovered that it was my cell phone.  The screen displayed a warning......"Tornado Warning. Take shelter immediately".  Seriously?  So, instead of taking shelter and possibly avoiding death at the prime of my own life, I called my almost ninety-four year old father and advised him, so as to possibly save his life, before setting down to watch the news and get a better idea of how long we all had.  Dutifully, I called him back, not long after the first call, insisting that he also sit down and follow the news.  "Why, is there bad weather coming?".  Who was that other man I had told of the warning only ten minutes earlier I wondered.

I just finished reading Lisa Genova's novel, Still Alice.  It's a wonderful but terrifying story about a woman who falls victim to early -onset Alzheimer's Disease.  Everyone should read it.  It made me so much more aware of how the brain ages, what goes on inside our heads as brain cells go through the intricate maneuvers that they do, on their way to a totally new place.  Why do I not recall the gelatin mold my mother in law did not miss a beat on?  Why did my father not remember having been told that a tornado watch was on?  What made that information shoot through with the ease of water through a colander?  What makes cats think every experience they have is brand new and yet they know if the slightest thing has changed in their environment before their owners do? Why can I know, without a doubt, that one of my kids is not happy? How did my own mother know that, never failing in her instincts, always ready with the exact right answers or advice.

Will my father remember that three years ago, today, he lost the love of his life and the best brain our family has ever known? He could not remember the phone call about the weather but I have a feeling that today he will remember every hour of the seventy years that they spent together.

God's peace, Angelina Ballerina.  We miss you and always will.

At my father's 90th birthday party

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I was not an easy child.  No, I wasn't "naughty" nor was I a discipline problem, but I was not exactly a dream-come-true of a little girl and so much of that carried me through my developmental years, and into my early adulthood.  I've done so much of the self-analysis stuff and have filtered out the pieces that are no longer important to recall or to further analyze.  What I do carry with me however, is the understanding that change was never an easy task for me and I was not ever allowed to build up resistance to it or to master the skills necessary to come out of the end of a tunnel unscathed.  As soon as the words "I'm not happy" slid off my lips, my mother bailed me out without encouraging me to "give it a try" or "wait it out".  So, to this day, I am not well-equipped for changes and I do continue to wonder what it's all about.  Can't knock a gal for trying.

So much of it has to do with fear.  Fear of the loss of control.  Fear of the inability to manipulate my environment, on the smallest and largest scales. When I taught childbirth classes, many years ago, I carefully explained that it was fear that was at the heart and soul of the perception of child-birthing as a painful process.  While I knew that I could never, ever replace the pain of contractions, I knew that it was possible to mitigate this by breaking up that fear-tension-pain syndrome.  Amazingly, in a lot of cases, it worked. Loss of control.  Huge.  Change.  Huge.

It's been almost a month since we moved into our new home.  We worked together as a team, for weeks before and then, during the time of the actual move, and we're still at it.  We amazed ourselves at how hard we worked and how strong we proved we were, and are.  With only the assistance of a set of strong men who, on the move in day, transported our largest pieces of furniture, we did it all by ourselves and neither of us suffered so much as an ache or pain.  What validation!  We're in now, getting more and more "settled" in what I refer to as our "interim" move.  We have no idea of our future, we're not unique for who does?  But it feels better for me when I look at this new life as maybe not forever.

Each day gets better, feels more like "me" living here.  We're getting to know our new home and we're making friends with it.  The noises coming from our neighbor's and their weekends with friends on the patio adjacent to our bedroom window, are fading from my list of things that are going to rob me of my happiness.  Little did we ever expect that we would be forced into making our bedroom into a "cocoon" with special drapes that block out light and attenuate sound.  It's turning out to be an absolutely lovely place, getting more and more Zen each day and by the time the season is over and the neighbors have returned to Florida for the rest of the year, we will have created a space that would never have been had we not been forced to take control or our environment.

Change.  It's huge. I wish I had known that it was a process, that it required thought and dedication and that it was and always will be, simply a vector, a swift arrow that points to a better place and that control is never lost, it can only be given away.