1/5/20 Mom arrives after six-hour delay out of Traverse City.
1/6/20 Learn we have an accepted offer on a new home in Plantation Oaks.
1/10/20 Phone interview for new transcription job.
1/11/20 Notified that my condo tenant committed suicide and now prepping condo for sale.
1/13/20 Job offer with Allegis Transcription.
1/15/20 Start date with Allegis coach x three days (keeping in mind said coach and entire Allegis support team is on Pacific Standard Time).
1/20/20 Released from coaching and offered remote transcription position as independent contractor, minimum 100 pages per week.
1/20/20 House closing.
1/22/20 Let’s move NOW – First night in new home.
1/23/20 Making earnest attempt to get required pages in while moving and unpacking.
1/26/20 Small birthday celebration at new home for friend.
1/31/20 Brian and Laurie stop by on their way north.
2/8/20 Pretty settled in now. Up at 6:30 and working till 10:00, finally able to breathe.
And so now it’s time to relax a bit, enjoy our new home knowing it’s our last move. I relish having my 93-year-old mother here for the winter and take great pleasure in watching her with her great-granddaughters. She sleeps late, plays computer bridge, does crossword puzzles and reads Danielle Steele to her heart’s content. We’re on the second go-round with the entire Downton Abbey series (thank you, David). I know this time is precious, and I want to be present for all of it.
Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a year end as this one. Maybe I say that every year; I don’t know. But 2018 HAS to be better than ’17.
It started off well enough … mini-vay-kay in January at Reed Ranch with all the family; I so enjoyed that. Met a very nice, very fun but rather self-absorbed man who I pretty much knew immediately wasn’t going to be forever, but what a sweet-talker – and he loved to dance! Made for a very fun birthday. Hibernian party in Michigan in March. Not a bad spring. Work was going okay; I got a new boss that I rarely saw, and I got a raise.
Then … karma? Bad ju-ju? I don’t really know. June came, and everything fell apart. The man thing fizzled as fast as I could say the “M” word in response to a question that had absolutely nothing to do with him. Heart-hurt and confused, I tried looking forward but with too much hope and too little confidence. Ann, my cohort, left Kindred, work became more stressful. Met a few nice guys but no spark anywhere. I did buy my own condo, and I got to see my kids in August. And then hurricanes, condo repairs, floor floods, identity theft, unexpected slights by former friends, an overly-stress-filled job, my Anita moving away; meets and break-ups faster than a speeding Bonanza causing me to again question myself, my appeal, my worth.
I just want it over. I know there’s no guarantee that 2018 will be any better than ’17. I realize that. I understand it’s what we make it and even more what’s in my head. I know all that intellectually. I do.
But 2018 holds at least some promise: A new floor! Ireland in March! A healthier, more active me. And Meg is closer, though only through February.
I actually have no idea why I think 2018 will be better. It certainly starts off with a bang, at least through March, but then … but then?
It’s funny (not?), but part of me so wants a relationship with someone who will love me for me and want to share in my life. Another part of me wants my independence, my quiet, my space. Where is the balance? What is it? People do it all the time, but can I? I used to see myself either in a long-term relationship or even married again; I thought that’s what I wanted. But that was in the long run. When does the long run begin? I was presented with the possibility just recently in a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ scenario. I was offered the world and more, but I’d have to leave mine. Part of me wanted to pick up and go. Just go. But another part of me…the deep-down part of me said, ‘Wait a minute.’ While it all sounded good in theory, I just didn’t know about giving up everything I’d worked so hard for these past years.
I wonder, to get what I think I want, do I have to leave this … my life … and go to ‘his,’ whoever he turns out to be? I’m not sure I want to do that just yet, if at all.
When I say my Family, I mean my growing-up family, my parents and my 10 siblings. Maybe there needs to be a name for that since, when I speak of ‘my family,’ people typically think I’m speaking of my own kids. But it could also mean the whole Clan which would include upwards of 85 people.
At the beginning of January 2017, my siblings, spouses and I gathered at Reed Ranch in northern Michigan with our mother to celebrate her 90th birthday and spend time together over a long weekend. We rented two lodges within walking distance of each other, and we were lucky enough to spend some wonderful quality time together. For me it was memorable because, living in Florida, I don’t get to see them as much as I used to. I was able to spend quiet time with my older brother Chuck as we drove together to our destination. I realized how much I miss him; he’s a great guy. I had a blast with my sisters Kathleen and Molly playing cards and laughing. I enjoyed watching Pat ice fishing on Lake David. I got a kick out of Kevin’s cold-weather gear with his long coat and Russian-style hat. I was entertained by Brian’s witty responses to discussions held around the fire. It’s always special seeing Terry because he always reminds me of Dad. Sean and his quiet demeanor always surprises with his humor, and Mike’s sweetness and off-beat funny side adds so much to the mix. Danny didn’t make it, unfortunately, and missed out on making memories with mom and the rest of us. And mom was in rare form, thoroughly enjoying having her kids around her, rising mid- to late-morning to that first cup of coffee (“The nectar of the gods!), coming out with her cane to dance to ‘All About That Bass,” playing the piano while we sang along, being thrilled with the amazing birthday memories made into books and posters. Meals were made and shared, stories were told, and laughter abounded.
It was wonderful going back to the Katy Lee lodge and sitting around the beautiful fireplace that brought back so many childhood memories, sipping that late-night toddy along with Chucky, Kevin, Brian and Laurie, Sean and Cathy. There’s an indescribable sense of belonging in a clan like ours that I’m not sure everyone has in smaller families. Oftentimes new members tend to shy away or get nervous about attempting to penetrate this crowd, but repeatedly we’re told how accepted they felt by everyone. Maybe that’s because there was always room for one more with mom and dad, and so there was never a question of not accepting.
I have to remember to cherish those times and tuck then away for the future. Right now, we’re all pretty happy and healthy. Now at 92, Mom is no doubt silently wishing she could join her Charlie, but we’re all still glad she’s here and in good form. I added up her grandchildren and great-grandchildren: 63, with one on the way. 63 extended offspring! She and Dad could never have known what they were creating all those years ago. Yes, there were certainly challenges coming from such a large clan, and that’s only from my perspective as the third born. I can’t even imagine the challenges my parents faced! But I consider myself one of the Lucky 11, three girls and eight boys, with spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
My family. My Clan. Those words conjure up quite the memories.
October 23rd. I’ve been in my condo a little over a year now. How well I remember a year ago leaving my cute little house and a very dysfunctional relationship to start a new chapter in my life; it’s been an interesting year, for sure.
Fall ushers in the best time of the year in Old Florida. The temperatures are cooler, I can have all the sliding doors open, turn off the a/c, maybe catch the sunrise at a more decent hour. Though I’ll miss the vibrant green vines of summer that cover like a deep snowfall, I love when the beautiful rows of muhly grass turn a vibrant shade of pink and wave in unison in the breeze. The beaches empty, the RVs caravan south, and the area preps for an increase in its population.
A lot happened this past year. I was able to spend three precious months with my mother, months I would not trade for anything. I saw two fabulous concerts; Bruce Springsteen with Drew, and Rascal Flatts with Meg; unforgettable, both. I shared the tragic loss of a nephew to suicide and, in the circle of life, met my beautiful new granddaughter Audrey. I discovered the joy of ballroom dancing and as an added benefit met some wonderful people. I lost my Sadie this past Labor Day that brought an additional heartbreak with it. My job has had its share of unmentionable challenges with the ups and downs and office drama that only a large corporation can offer. I tried online dating and met some lovely men and a few not-so-lovely ones, made a great friend, and am more hopeful than I’ve been in awhile. I survived Hurricane Matthew, and in doing so learned there are many angels walking around here on earth.
I can only imagine what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to a quick but much-needed cruise with Meg next month. I’ve started working virtually for a transcription company in the hopes of having an exit strategy when the time comes to leave Hospice. I’m eager to spend time with my mom and siblings at Reed Ranch in January, see my Oklahoma kids and grandkids again. Next spring will bring another opportunity to go to Michigan, hopefully with Meg, and see Audrey and her parents.
It has been a surprisingly good year; I have no complaints. I’m grateful for my many blessings; I’m excited about the future. I know we can’t stop time, but perhaps we can slow down a little now.
A million years ago at a New Year’s Eve party I was asked to dance by a young man who knew his dance moves. It didn’t matter that I didn’t. I was able to follow him like I knew what I was doing. We were swing dancing, spinning, matching step for step. At one point he said to me, “Are you ready?” I said, “For what?” He yelled, “Hook your elbows through mine, back to back, and when I say, ‘Jump!’ you jump!” And I did! He flipped me backwards over his head and I landed on my feet like we’d been rehearsing it for weeks! I was hooked.
Since that night I’ve wanted to learn how to dance. Granted, I’m not interested in doing backward flips anymore. But that wonderful feeling of dancing with a partner is something I’ve been looking for for quite awhile.
Enter Arthur Murray Dance Studio, new to Palm Coast, with the wonderful young Russian couple Sasha and Magda. These two exude the joy of dancing, and they want to share their excitement with anyone who is interested. I had my first ‘trial’ lesson over a week ago and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. Sasha claimed I was a ‘natural.’ I take that for what it is, but I will admit I felt comfortable learning the different dances and was able to move through several types in less than an hour. The next night was the Dance Party where anyone who is a member can come for group lessons, and so I spent the second hour of the night dancing with everyone. It’s so interesting dancing with different partners, seeing how it is going from one to another.
My first paid lesson was tonight, and I left feeling invigorated, my mood elevated! There’s another Dance Party tomorrow night, and I’m really looking forward to it! Sure, it would be great to have a partner to go with me and learn alongside me. But I don’t, and it won’t stop me, because I’m having a wonderful time simply dancing!
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.”
I took one of those silly tests that occasionally pop up on Facebook. This one was, “What is your pet peeve?” I clicked the button and it apparently analyzed my Facebook page or something. The answer that popped up surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. “Lack of humor” was the response.
The reason it surprised me is because it is so true, and I’ll put this squarely on my dad. The way he was, the way he made us kids laugh around the table with his silly “Outhouse” joke or his crazy stories and witty one-liners…that sense of humor was passed down to all 11 of his children. He was the life of every party. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be the word “Smile” in his handwriting along my wrist. He made everyone smile and taught his kids the value of laughter.
Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
I agree. Humor can get you through so many hard times in life; a disagreement with your spouse, a difficult workplace, challenging kids, financial hardships. I try and find the humor wherever I can, because if I take life and myself too seriously, I find it’s easy to succumb to negativity. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious about issues, but if I can find the humor – however deep it is buried – I can get through anything. I believe humor is God’s way of keeping us humble. “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
George Bernard Shaw knew what he was talking about.
My baby just had a baby. Well, he and his wife did, my daughter-in-law, the mother of my baby’s baby. I have three grandchildren by my oldest child that I enjoy tremendously, even though due to distance I only get to see them a couple times a year. Their dad and mom are a hoot, and so are the kids, and they get more fun every time I see them.
But now my youngest son has a baby girl. Audrey Jean was born June 17th. She has one of those palindrome birthdays: 61716. Reads the same both ways. And her parents are so in love with her already I don’t think they know what hit them. As a parent you can tell them about that kind of love, but they’ll typically either shrug it off or think you’re just being ‘mom.’ I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think that anymore.
Being away from my kids doesn’t get any easier, especially during birthdays and holidays. This year my birthday was just another day for me, and that was okay. I’d heard from all the kids throughout the day, and I’d received a beautiful ‘Edible Creation’ from Meg.
A couple weeks later, Drew texted me and said I should think about coming to OKC from April 1st to the 4th. When I questioned him, he just said it had been too long. Tickled that he wanted to see me, I shopped flights and found a cheap one from March 31st to April 3rd (Thursday to Sunday). He said no, it was important that I was there on Monday; he would say no more, stating he’d “already said too much.”
I spent the next several weeks trying to guess WHY I would have to be there on a Monday. The different scenarios I could think of never sounded plausible, so I decided to simply enjoy the anticipation of being surprised. I made the trip out there and had a great time with the grandkids who all seemed happy to see me (even Scarlett!) I got to see Dez’s school, watch in anticipation for Evie’s daily wardrobe creation, and enjoy Scarlett’s imagination indoors and out. Monday’s surprise was never mentioned.
Sunday afternoon Drew said he was taking me to dinner downtown OKC, but that the babysitter fell through and Kris couldn’t go. I was disappointed for her, but she said she was okay with it, so I went upstairs to change. When I came back down, Drew said, “I thought after dinner we could also do this,” and handed me two sheets of paper. I opened them to findtwo tickets to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert at the Chesapeake Arena!!!!!
All the kids and their wonderful spouses had chipped in for this knowing how much I love this guy, this band. I was excited beyond words and of course embarrassed myself with my typical reaction (which Kris so subtly recorded and sent to the other two for their enjoyment).
Dinner on the river was really lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed some rare one-on-one time with my oldest child, trying to remember when that had happened last. The concert…well, I’ll never forget it. It was so amazing knowing that this band, in various forms, has been creating their quickly identifiable sound since the early 70’s! And while members have come and gone, those most familiar to me were there: Bruce, his wife, Patti, Stevie, Nils, and Max. And though I missed Clarence, it was heartening to see his nephew Jake step into his uncle’s role with his own ‘Clemons’ style. They look and sound better than ever. This 66-year-old rocker and (in his words) his ‘viagra-taking’ band played, without stopping, for 3+ hours; no opener, no break. He involved the crowd, leaving the stage singing “Hungry Heart” while he signed kids’ shirts, took selfies with attendees, and then CROWD SURFED BACK TO THE STAGE! In between songs, the arena would fill with the familiar, “BRUUUUUUUUCE!!” As soon as he’d finish one song, he’d toss his guitar to someone backstage, catch another one, go back to the mic and yell, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR…!” and swing right into his next, hurling us back, again and again, to our glory days.