Like a Lady

Act like a lady.  Watch yourself young lady.  A lady always wears gloves.  Be a lady at your aunt’s house.  Lady, lady, lady.  I heard this as a child until I felt like some very unladylike behavior.  To begin with I am not and was not ever a lady.  Lady is a term belonging to aristocracy.  It’s a class thing indicating having been high born and part of the upper class.  In England I would not have been addressed as Lady Nita.  I probably would not even have been called maam.  Probably more likely just Nita or “hey, you”.

So all this early training to be a lady was a waste of time to begin with since I was born to awesome, brilliant, kind and generous working people.  Not a lady in the bunch, but some fantastic women, and men, from whom I learned how to be a real person, not some fake lady creature who always wore gloves and spoke softly.

I learned to be a woman.  A lady needs to be waited on, coddled. A woman can do it herself but doesn’t have to do it to prove a point.  She just does what is needed.  A real, strong, confident woman makes a great friend, wife, mother, co-worker and citizen. She can be a CEO, president, truck driver, teacher, janitor, homemaker, and be okay with her choice.  She can make her own living, mother her children, participate in her community and care for her friends all by herself, or she can share all that with a real, confident partner.

I don’t even want to be a lady.  Probably couldn’t really try.  I do a lot of things that would not be considered ladylike by those well intended souls trying to mold me as a child.  I swear, a lot.  I pull on a cap and my coat over my pajamas to run to the grocery.  I drink hard liquor and sometimes put my elbows on the table.  I have been known to ask a man to dance and I don’t hesitate to point out asinine behavior if need be.  But don’t be mislead, I am not a slug, just independent.  I neither belch or fart in company.  I wait my turn and open doors for old people.

Soon I will have a great granddaughter.  You won’t hear me telling her to be a lady.  In the first place it is for her mother and father to be first in line to instruct her.  My hope is that she will see me as a force, a presence worth knowing, maybe even an example.  I will do my best to present to her a person who is strong and gentle, smart and caring, fun and loving.  And, a woman.  A real, whole woman.

Like a Lady

Still Toddling Along

I think I may sleep well tonight.  That is not ordinarily the case for me these last few months, but I am feeling sleepy.  Probably a long walk in the sunshine today and dinner with friends that included an adult beverage followed by just a bit more alcohol when I got back home all have something to do with this drowsiness.

I have been told that I am a goal oriented person more than once.  That is probably true.  I know that I function better with something to reach for; with a particular result in mind.  For a few weeks I have been working toward socializing with old friends and going to functions where I might meet new, interesting people.  Tonight was a step toward that goal and I enjoyed myself.  Saturday was a little harder when I attended an event where no one knew me and I had to make casual conversation with strangers.  But, I managed to meet women that I may want to get to know better.  One more step down the road.

A few weeks after my daughter died I got involved in a grief support group.  There were a lot of caring people there, all trying to help each other and all much more able to understand how I felt than well meaning friends who have not been there themselves.  Even though I felt welcomed and other experiences were much like my own I had to step away after a few sessions.  There two problems for me.  One is almost every person who lost a child kept saying it never gets better; that the pain is just as bad years later as the first day.  That is not my experience, at least not most of the time.  The other is that every other person there firmly believes that the person they lost is waiting for them in heaven.  No doubt, no exceptions.  I cannot wrap my head around believing that those who are gone are just waiting in a paradise somewhere and debilitating emotional pain and grief both residing in the same mind.  IF you believe your loved one is happily waiting for you in another world why are you always sad and in pain?  That makes no sense.

So. apparently I have to do this grief thing the same as I do most things, my way.  My way is to stay busy.  Not just killing time busy but getting involved, finding something to do that helps somebody, that makes a difference in some small way.  After all, I still have people to not just care for but to take care of.

Last Sunday I helped with a baby shower for my granddaughter who expects her first baby in May.  Helping Brittany get ready for her baby both gives me great joy and brings me to tears at the same time.  Curtis is a man now and values his independence, but He still calls on Granny now and then.  Like when our favorite big black dog needs to get to the vet when Curtis has to work.  And Jerry.  My husband needs support from me as much as I need it from him.  While neither of us resents it at all, looking after his mother is a job, so I help as much as I can.  Wow, no wonder I stay so busy.

Distance means I don’t get to do much hands on with my son’s family but have to settle for phone calls and social media visits.  Even so we plan awesome vacations together and that makes life better for all of us.

Still Toddling Along

Rare Day

The day before yesterday was a pleasant February surprise.  The temperature was an all time high and he wind was whistling.  Wanting to enjoy as much of this as possible I opened all the windows and shades to let in the sun and fresh air.  It felt great!

Then, I sat down to browse lazily through a magazine and noticed that the wind had blown the dust bunnies out from under the furniture and they were scampering across the floor.  Looking a little closer around the room it was not possible to ignore the sun highlighting the dust on the coffee table and the windows themselves had little luster. As long as I remained closed in behind drawn curtains and closed windows and doors the light from a few lamps revealed little that needed the attention of a dust cloth or vacuum cleaner, but with the sun lighting up every corner the mess accumulated there can’t be ignored.

So, it seems a little housekeeping just had to be done.  I am not, however, a really big dummy so I first closed the windows and drew the curtains.  The place was looking better already.  A quick flick over all furniture tops with a Swiffer and a session with the vacuum cleaner made a big difference.  Just for good measure I damp moped the floors and scrubbed the bathrooms.  I think this will last until spring really gets here when those damn windows will have to be dealt with.

This is not how I was raised to clean house.  Both my mom and mother-in-law would not have approved at what they would call half measures.  Dusting for instance involved removing every item on each piece of furniture followed by liberal amounts of lemon oil on a cloth rubbed over the entire surface, legs and sides included, then each item carefully wiped with a clean cloth and replaced EXACTLY where they were to begin with. The floors would be vacuumed, then mopped and finally wiped dry.  Windows would never get really dirty since they would be cleaned early in the spring, several times through out the summer and again late in the autumn.  I recall being told that only common trash pulled the curtains over a dirty window.  Personally, I am happy to sit my butt down among a little dust to play with the dog or just relax.



Rare Day

Baby Steps

Today I got my camera out of the closet and charged up the battery.  Then I installed the accompanying software onto the computer and spent time studying the manual for the camera and online instructions for uploading pictures and printing them.  So what?  Well this camera was a gift from my family that Teri choose.  She and I intended for me to learn about photography with her.  Her death last November canceled those plans.  I tried to take a few pictures during the holidays but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t focus through tears. So I put the camera away for a while.

There have been only small changes in the grief her father and I are living through.  The wound is still raw, but bleeding less.  We are very gradually able to be in the company of friends and enjoy that.  We are taking care of legal matters that we were unable to even think about at first.  Just last week we traveled south for a visit with my brother and his family that gave us both a few much needed relaxed days.  For the most part we deal with one day at a time now.  At first five minutes without breaking apart was a challenge.

Personally I have found setting short term goals one at a time and only moving on to the next when each is met.  One of the first Thanksgiving dinner.  Check.  Next was to host a reveal party for my pregnant granddaughter.  Check.  Then Christmas. Check.

When we left the hospital after Teri’s death I brought with me among her things a tote bag of knitting projects she always had with her.  It sat in the corner of the spare bedroom until the end of January because I could not even look at it any sooner.  The last day of January I dumped it all out, rolled up the balls of yarn and took the unfinished items to a knitting shop to get someone to complete them.  Those are ready to be picked up and I will give them to the grandkids.  Check.

Today it was start taking pictures.  Check.  Next I want to get back to going to meetings of the Paducah Free Thinkers.  I miss those guys.

On Tuesday I get to go to Brittany’s doctor appointment with her and on Sunday I will provide refreshments for her baby shower.

In this journey I feel like a baby crawling along and just beginning to pull up with something to hold on to, but not really ready to take that first step and then walk.  But I am crawling faster and standing longer so walking can’t be that far away.  Baby steps advance down the road slowly at best, but they will get me there — eventually.

Baby Steps

Tough Old Broads

Here’s the thing about tough old broads.  They are down right mushy on the inside.  These hard shelled old gals are as soft and sweet as a marsh mellow under that crusty exterior.  Tough old broads didn’t get tough or old by taking crap.  Lots of people tried giving them crap and for a while when they were very young they put up with some, but not much.  And the longer they live and the more they learn the less they tolerate crap.  They stand up for themselves, and they stand up for those they care for.

A tough old broad may not be able to kick your ass, but if you mistreat someone they care for they can make you wish they would just go ahead and punch you out.  And there is always the possibility you’ll have to prove that you can take that old gal, and how big and bad are you really going to feel if you beat up an old lady?  Better to just shut up and go away.  Trust me, much better.

Once upon a time a tough old broad I know was waiting in a check out line behind a younger woman with a small child in tow.  The child was unhappy and crying and the woman jerked the baby around and growled at her to “shut the fuck up”.  The old broad began tapping her fingers on the shopping cart and took a deep breath.  The child was crying and sat down on the floor.  The woman jerked the baby by the arm and smacked her butt, telling her again to “shut the fuck up”.  The old broad stepped up close to the woman and in a soft voice told her not to jerk the child around again.  Yep, you guessed it.  The woman told the old broad to mind her own damn business and jerked the baby up by the arm.  So, the old broad asked the cashier to please call security and moved between the woman and the child and told her that she was not going to let her mistreat the child anymore.  As the old broad was dialing 911 on her cell phone and reporting child abuse and requesting an officer the woman was yelling about you old bitch needs to shut up and going to be an ass kicking and how dare you, blah, blah, blah. The old broad stood calmly looking the woman in the eye for the few minutes it took security to arrive and try to calm the woman down.  Soon the police came and guess what?  The woman became more humble and apologetic and didn’t want any trouble and she would never hurt her baby, she just was trying to teach her how to act, blah, blah, blah. The police assured the old broad that they were contacting social services.  The old broad stayed around long enough to be sure they got the name and address of the woman, then paid for her purchases.  This, youngsters, is how it’s done.  This is how tough old broads managed to get old and tough.

Tough old broads understand bullies.  They have been bullied and figured out that bullies are generally cowards.  If you pay attention you will notice that bullies prefer to pick on someone who won’t or can’t fight back.  A bully might still kick your butt if you stand up to them but they will most certainly kick your butt if you don’t.  So, tough old broads make a point of not taking crap and when folks figure out that they don’t take any crap, well they don’t get any.

Doesn’t sound all that soft does it?  The soft part comes when a tough old broad sees someone else getting crap that they don’t deserve.  Their big hearts break at abuse and injustice.  These old gals love with their whole souls and defend loved ones with the courage won from a lifetime.  Tough old broads are who you want watching your back.

Tough Old Broads

Attitude Adjustment

It seems to me that we have little if any control over what happens.  Accepting that can make all the difference in how life is perceived.  The sun rises, it rains or it doesn’t, people go about their business and the sun sets and what I wanted or what I did or did not do changed absolutely nothing.  Now, that makes perfect sense.  But you see, I hate that.  I want control.  I lust for control.  Being out of control freaks me out.  I see those I care for about to make a really bad choice and I expect them to do something else when I tell them to.  They don’t.  World leaders are dong stupid shit on a regular basis and no matter how many letters I write or surveys I fill out they keep doing stupid shit.  I can’t do anything about anything except my own choices.  So, what now?  Let go, that’s what. I find myself repeating “not my circus not my monkeys”.  Ahh, relief.  The world is on its own.

Today has been easier for me than some I have  had lately.  Why?  I took charge of what I can do and turned my back on everything else.  I went with the husband to finish settling his mom into her apartment at assisted living.  She is not good at decisions these days so I hung her many pictures where I thought they looked best and she seemed to be okay with that.  She didn’t want to “mess with” wearing hearing aids but she can’t hear anything without them so I changed the batteries and put them into her ears anyway. In short, I controlled what I could and let go of what I could not.

Back home I caught up on coffee drinking and novel reading and decided not to fix dinner because after two beers and some really good cheese I am not hungry. IF all goes well I have plans to make a short trip south in the next couple of weeks and a longer trip to the north east come summer.  If all doesn’t go well, well that will be handled as it comes along. Not my circus not my monkeys.

Attitude Adjustment

Long Day Sunday

Most of the time I live on the positive side.  There is always something to be grateful for, always.  The usual items on my daily gratitude list are still here, but there seems to be a black fog between me and whatever is good today.  I woke up pissed that I woke up before the sun so I flopped around trying to go back to sleep, even knowing that would not happen because I had to pee and once I make that trip to the toilet going back to dreamland is out of the question.  Coffee and the newspaper did not improve my disposition.  Even the husband’s hugs and his having enough sense to let me be did not give me the usual lift.

My go to for these occasional bouts of the blahs is usually getting together with family and I thought about calling everybody and making supper, but today I just don’t have a decent dinner in me.  What I have in me is grief.  I understand this intellectually and generally have tools to manage it.  I understand that I need to reach out for comfort.  I got in touch with a good listener who listened.  Still feeling down.  I understand that I need to be kind to myself.  I took a bubble bath and sat down with wine and a good book.  Read the same damn paragraph over and over until I realized my brain could not hold onto the words.

The usual fixes aren’t working.  The only place left for me to go is just accept that this day sucks.  It sucks, it hurts and it is lasting too long.  I miss my daughter.  Always will.  I will handle that better on other days.  This day I just give up.

Long Day Sunday