May 112020
 

Mother's Day when you don't have a great motherI’m writing this the day after Mother’s Day so as not to take away one iota from the celebration of really terrific mothers. Tribute after tribute on Facebook brought tears to my eyes as I read about these wonderful women who trained up a new generation of daughters to be mothers just like them. It’s a beautiful thing. But my mother wasn’t one of those. And since I know I’m not alone, I’m writing this Mother’s Day thought for the rest of us.

A Little Bit of History

My mother didn’t like me much. It was pretty cut and dried. I didn’t look like the correct side of the family and I wasn’t what she had in mind when she thought she was getting a cute little daughter. I never lost my baby chubs which was anathema in a family that worshiped thinness. I was well-spoken, well-read, got straight As in school and really tried my best. I made her beautifully hand-crafted Mother’s Day gifts, but I was fat, ugly and good for not much, according to her. She wasn’t mean to me or physically abusive. She just didn’t like me.

I saw the moms of friends when I went to their houses to play or do schoolwork. Their moms were kind and sweet and looked at their children with love in their eyes. I was envious. Hell, I was downright jealous. There were times when I went home, crawled under the covers and cried. My mom wasn’t bad. She just didn’t like me. I knew it. She knew I knew it. It made for a very awkward childhood.

A Rather Rude Awakening

And then came the day I found out the hard way that I wasn’t the only one with a mother who wasn’t straight out of the pages of Ladies Home Journal. My then best friend invited me to be her maid of honor. I was over the moon. Her mother wasn’t. She didn’t like the way I looked either and said I would ruin the wedding photos. Where had I heard that before? She was afraid to tell me, but she finally had to because her mother threatened to not pay for the wedding if I were included in it. So I bowed out gracefully. And. . . you guessed it. . . I went home and cried.

As much as that hurt, it opened my eyes. Now I knew that I wasn’t alone in the not-so-perfect mother department. Some moms were downright nasty and vicious. Some were physically abusive. Some stood by while their daughters were abused. Some drank and turned into monsters. My mom wasn’t any of those things. She just didn’t like me.

Life Goes On

Time passed. We lived a little ways apart. She still slung her verbal missiles at me every chance she got. One would think she enjoyed them. Maybe she did. I don’t know. And then two things happened that changed everything. My father died. She started getting wonky. Then my grandmom (her mother) died. She lost her mind. By this time, she lived with me. Yeah, I know. She took all her grief out on me. And there I stood, a 50-something year old woman transported immediately back to when I was ten years old and getting browbeat about how I wasn’t good enough, didn’t look right, wasn’t good for anything, nobody would ever want me, yada yada yada. That lasted for ten long years.

Life Changes

And then came the day she broke her hip and went into rehab. I was fully prepared to take her home and let the cycle begin again. She was my mother. I had to take care of her. I had no other choice, right? That’s how we were raised. So imagine my surprise when she told me she wanted to stay in the nursing home! The place wasn’t all that great either. But she wanted to be there, so I signed her in.

The Beginning of the End

She had two happy years there before I am convinced their lack of care let her die. One day they told me my mother was sick. The next day I was running to the intensive care unit of a local hospital to be told she was dying from total organ failure. The last time I talked to her, she called me in and asked me to sign her into hospice. She said my father (he passed 14 years earlier) had come to take her home. I had her power of attorney so I made the arrangements. She said, “Thank you.” Her last words to me. That night they took her to a beautiful hospice unit of another hospital. Two days later she was gone. It was the day before what would have been my parents’ 63rd wedding anniversary.

Moving Forward

That was six years ago. Do I miss her? I think I miss the idea of having a mother. But do I miss MY mother? Maybe. No. I honestly don’t know. I know I can think about her now without getting upset. When I drive by her grave these days I yell out the window, “Hey, Ma, how ya doin’?” And maybe after a lot of years, I’m okay. Or sort of okay.

So I’m writing this for me and for all of you who didn’t have perfect mothers either. It’s a Mother’s Day thought for the rest of us. I try to keep in mind that nothing in life is perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. But it’s up to us to take what we have and do the best that we can with it. We made it in spite of that mother thing.

Mother's Day can be quite different when your mother didn't like you

May 082020
 

How’s quarantine treating you? Bored yet? Not bored? Learning something new? Mastering Netflix and chill? Hey, these are all ways to deal with things as they are now. Actually, anything you can do to stay sane during this trying time is a good thing. Me? I play silly little phone games. Well, let me back up a bit to explain that one.

When my gamer son was in high school and his friends would come over, they tried to make small talk with me. One day, one of said friends asked me if played computer games. I proudly held my head up and told him about the three or four games I play on my phone. Had he been able to pat me on the head, he would have. He grinned and said, “Oh, you play silly little phone games.” He was basically correct, but let me tell you three life lessons I’ve learned from those silly little phone games.

Some Levels Are More Challenging Than Others

You know how you have some bad days and some good days? That’s life, as in some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you. Same for silly little phone games. Just keep playing. If you streak through 15 levels, pat yourself on the back, but if you’re on the same level after a month. . .pat yourself on the back. Keep at it. You’ll move up.

Use Your Helpers

We’re not designed to go through this life alone. I know right now it seems that many of us are forced into that, but it’s not the natural way of things. Same thing with games. They give you those boosters or helpers for a reason. You can win them, buy them, however you want, AS LONG AS YOU USE THEM! When I first started playing I would never use anything. It had to be ALL ME. What an idiot I was! One day I needed to clear one row to win this level I’d been on for weeks. I looked down and there were the tools to do it! So I hit one and BOOM. Done. After that? I rarely have anything in my tray. They get used up as soon as they appear. It makes the game much more fun. Life will be fun again, too, with all our helpers and friends.

Don’t Give Up

Keep playing long enough and you’re going to win your level. Don’t give up. Just keep going, especially if you love it. John Lennon famously or infamously said. . .

He was right. Silly little phone games can take a while. So can life. But guess what? It’s worth it. And even though it may not seem that way right now, hang in there. Friday’s coming.

May 052020
 

Before Plague

Guess who’s back? And I’m even older and more busted than ever. LOL How’s quarantine treating you? Scary stuff, huh? Speaking of scary, have you met the real you yet? I mean, of course, uncut hair, undone nails, no facials and whatever other treats you do for yourself on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with this, nothing AT ALL, but. . . a lot of us have had to face the mirror and see a stranger. Actually, a lot of us is ME. I’m “a lot of us.” Looking at your quarantine self is one thing. Loving your quarantine self is another thing entirely.

First Look

The first time I looked at the flat gray hair, the wrinkles (oh, the wrinkles!!!), the droopy eyes and the rest of it, well, I ran for the makeup drawer and threw on a metric ton. That was okay for a while. But one day it was, like, “Why bother? You’re not going anywhere. Your husband, daughter and grandson (fellow quarantiners in this house) have seen you in worse shape. Just be you. You’re old. Get used to it.” Easy to say. Not so easy to do.

The Yucky Mirror

The first few days. . . I’m lying. . . weeks were tough. Who was that old lady looking back at me in that mirror? I mean, yeah, my hair has started to gray but this old broad was doggone near totally gray with wrinkles all over the place, discolored skin and. . . hey, did you get the number of that crow that stomped all over my eyes? Being perfectly serious for a moment, I was really shocked. Was I that good at using makeup to hide all this stuff? Did Mother Nature hate me all THAT much? Apparently, the answer to both those questions was yes.

Plague Me

The Selfies From Hell

After I got used to looking in the mirror and when I could stop crying, I started taking a few selfies here and there. Think you look bad in that dastardly mirror? Wait until you see what your damn phone does to you!!! At first, I erased them all. I wasn’t having it. There was no way on this earth that I could look THAT bad. Or could I?

Acceptance Comes Slowly

As the days dragged on by and the selfies piled up, albeit slowly, I started getting used to what I saw in the mirror AND in the camera. I didn’t like it. Was I going to go back to the old me and just keep using the makeup for no good reason except to delude myself? I wasn’t sure. I put some on here and there. And then it went to just a lot of moisturizer. And then it went to. . . me. The real me. The me that is now. The 67-year-old me with wrinkles and crepey eyes, turkey neck and a myriad of other unflattering accouterments. And then it didn’t hurt so bad. And then it didn’t hurt at all. And then? Well, hell, it’s me. I earned every single one of those wrinkles. I earned every one of those damn gray hairs. I earned every sagging part of me. And you know what? It’s just. . . me.

And Now?

Well, I’m back to learning to love myself, which is where I was when this plague took over the world. Would I like it better if I looked like I thought I did with the war paint on my face? Yeah, I would, but guess what? That’s not really me. Me is the old lady looking back at me with all the imperfections, yeah, the ones I’ve earned over a long and pretty decent life.

The Future

And when all of this is a memory, will I start with the makeup again? Will I try to alter the me I’ve become and learned to love? I want to say, “Hey, this is me and this is what you’re getting from this point forward.” I want to say that. If I do, will I mean it? I’m honestly not sure. I mean, yeah, I always want to look my best, but if this IS my best, well, I guess I’ll have to accept that. But if part of loving your quarantine self also includes a little powder and lipstick, count me in!

The Crow

The Beautiful Crow That Stepped On My Eyes

Nov 272017
 

Today is my birthday. My 65th birthday, more accurately. I know it is because the government sent me a Medicare card. That means I’m officially old, right?  It set me back a bit when it arrived, but it got me thinking about a lot of things.

Turning 65 gets you a Medicare card

How Did I Get Here?

I honestly never thought I would reach this age. I was told three times in my life to buy the plot, set my affairs in order and get ready to go. Well, I guess I just don’t work and play well with others, though, because I refused. The last time, I was released from the surgeon’s care the day before my 50th birthday, an age I was told I would never reach. And here I am 15 years later.

So Here I Sit

What does it mean? Well, in the most simplistic terms, it means I have experienced six-and-a-half decades of living. They say that in the last half of the 20th century, more things were discovered than in all of history before that. I don’t know if that’s true, quite honestly, but there were many, many things my now-aging eyes were witness to.

What Happened Along The Way

Sputnik. Duck and cover drills. The Space Race. The assassination of John F. Kennedy. The moon landing in 1969, offset by the shocking murders perpetrated by the Charles Manson family a month later. Woodstock. I got married before that first Atari ping pong ball jumped across that line on the screen. I grew up with movies at the big theater with curtains on the stage on Saturday afternoons. Watch movies at home? Yeah, right. Phones were black boxes with curled cords. Had you told me way back when that I would be able to run my entire life from a little rectangle held in my hand, I would have laughed hysterically. I could go on and on. There was just so much!

And the technology! Some days I am sorta kinda well-versed in it. Other days I blatantly suck. There are times when I simply don’t want to learn one more damn thing. (Being officially old does that to ya! LOL) And then there are days when I eagerly suck up knowledge like it’s the best milk shake in town.

Slowly I Turn

And as much as it pains me to admit it, I am slowing down. I move slower, I think slower. I used to be a little dynamo. People could barely spot my vapor trail back in the day. Ancient history now. My skin is drying out at an incredible pace. There are lines on my face. We won’t discuss hair color as I’m still into hiding it. Maybe not for too much longer, though.

Things That Might Have Been

Regrets? Sure. We all have them. Not spending enough time with those I loved in the quest for the almighty buck. Not becoming a lawyer (something I would have been REALLY good at with my big mouth) because it took too long. Not embracing things I truly loved but embracing what I was told I was supposed to love. Swallowing too much BS from folks I honestly thought had my back. There are more.

The Joy Of It All

But you know what? There were (and are) many, many joys. Family, good friends, fun times, babies born, hugs, kisses, laughter. And I’m still waking up on this side of the sod. Does it get any better than that? Maybe, but waking up means you have another chance, one more shot at loving better, caring more, doing something for someone other than yourself.

So today I am officially old. And that’s okay. I always remember something I saw years ago on an email tagline. It was on my mind as I woke up this morning. “Never regret growing old. So many are denied the privilege.”

Please watch the video. It’s a great one.

 

 

Aug 312017
 

OBH on Easter 2017Aging. It’s a taboo subject in the good ‘ole US of A. Youth is worshiped; old age is dreaded. It hit me a little later than some. I was carded until I was almost 40. Now they chase me with a senior discount. LOL

My 50s were my best decade. When I turned, 60, though, that bitch of an old age fairy let me have it but good! Everything started to sag, bag and droop. . . or so it seemed. If you haven’t experienced this yet, it’s coming to a theater near you. Here’s a bit of a humorous look on how to know you’re getting old.

Turkey wattles and other loosey goosey stuff. . .

This is probably the first thing I noticed. Everything got looser, for lack of a better word. Me and the Thanksgiving turkey have a lot in common these days, especially around the neck area. And it seems that no matter how many times I go to the gym, there are way too many dangly bits hanging about. For more on this phenomenon, check out If You’re Old and You Know It Flap Your Arms.

The pup ain’t the only one who needs pee pads. . .

And speaking of things getting loosey goosey. . . my friends used to call me a camel because I could hold it all day long.  Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.” 🙂 At the mildest urging I start looking for facilities. I know where all the public bathrooms are in town and the exact distance between them. Tena pads are great. But wait. . . there’s more in the loosey goosey department!

Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro. . .

I think it was Maya Angelou who said that her breasts were having a race to see which one would get to her waist first. Well, I think mine have achieved that goal and are now eying my knees as their next challenge! I am not particularly large (C cup) but. . . it’s getting very uncomfortable without a bra on these days. And that side boob action. . . I could kill small children with a single blow if I swing around too fast!

By the hair on my chinny chin chin. . .

There is an old joke that says an older woman’s hair thins as she ages so she can pay more attention to the hair on her face, or words to that effect. True Dat! The hair on my body all fell out about 10 years ago and what there was of it was blonde and red. It’s nice that I no longer have to shave the legs and pits, but the hair on my face is getting worse. AND to add insult to injury, that hair is black. I have tweezers and razors all over the house.

Slowly I turn. . .

Well, slowly I do everything these days, or so it seems. I was a real dynamo way back when. I spoke fast. I moved fast. I thought fast. Today it’s like. . . . well, it’s not fast. Oh, I try to move fast, but. . . fast and me no longer have a relationship. Both my body and brain go into giggle fits when I give it a go. I forget what I’m going to the kitchen for before I get there. It takes me twice as long to do things. And I trip over my own tongue trying to get thoughts out in the right order and with the correct verbiage. The little girl who still resides inside of me puts her hands on her hips with a bratty, “I DON’T WANNA SLOW DOWN!!!” Sadly, I have no choice. . . or else.

These are just some of the joys of the golden years. There are a lot more, but you know what? Living to a ripe old age means you’ve done just that, LIVED. Years ago, I saw a tag line on someone’s email that I’ve seen many times since. It has always stuck with me. It said, “Never regret getting old. Many are denied the privilege.”

And as that wise saying implies, it sure as hell beats the alternative. I’ve learned to just have a good giggle over all of the above, take a deep breath, roll up my boobs and stuff ‘em in my bra.