To people that have served in the military today is not just a three day holiday and it is certainly not a joyful one for them or a day to say “Happy Memorial Day”; it is instead to think of comrades lost and friends that gave the ultimate sacrifice in preserving the freedoms too many of us take for granted. I have been blessed to know many members of the armed forces as daughter, as friend, and now lover. I am forever grateful.
Tomorrow would have been my 33rd wedding anniversary. It is of course, not. And that is a very good thing. I am miles and years away from the young woman that walked down the aisle and into a marriage based on love and not much else. Love is amazing but alas it is not the only ingredient necessary for a successful long term marriage.
Although I do sometimes take umbrage that 27 years of marriage was a failure simply because it ended in divorce. If a company had been operating for 27 years many would consider it successful. The myth of ’til death do we part’ as a measure of a marriage’s success is faulty reasoning. Longevity does not mean success or happiness or anything it just proves longevity. Not all long term marriages are successful or should even be continued but inertia is hard to over come. Many people just stay together because separating is so much work. And costly and emotionally draining. Sadly many people opt for the monotony of day to day existence rather than contemplate the possibility of genuine authentic living and happiness and the need to take action. I know far too many couples that would rather complain and moan about their relationship than take ownership for it and take action. Complacency is convenient. Divorce is ugly. And being single at 50 wasn’t easy.
But I’m not really single anymore. I have my boyfriend that makes my world seem just a little brighter and allays my fears of being a lonely old woman knocking over cans in a store for attention a little less likely. And I have hope again for the future….on my terms. My life, I have just this one and I will live it to the fullest!
The Sunday before my mom’s surgery we went to church together and the flowers on the altar were in memory of my father. Although he has been gone nearly 22 years he is very much still a part of our lives. In a good way. In an easy and familiar way. We talk about him in the present tense and the signs that he is just beyond the thinnest of curtains are always evident. The signs began the moment I started driving home last week. The traffic was moving slowly and I was keeping pace with a white truck. I pulled alongside just as the traffic came to a standstill and looked at the side of the truck. And there was the sign that I was supposed to be going north to spend the week with my mom.
Noel’s Fire Protection. How random yet how not. My father’s name was Noel. Not a common name by any means. Unusual enough to always catch me off guard when I see it or find it on the side of a truck. A sign. Four days later came another. My mom was in the hospital, several hours post-op and finally settled into a room. The day nurse was lovely and when she came in to introduce the night nurse both my mother and I paused. Mom asked her to come closer so she could read her badge. And there was the sign. Her name was Noeline. Noeline???? I have never, ever heard that name before and I just looked at my mom and said “I guess daddy will be with you through the night”.
I love my mom. And for that reason I swept the kitchen floor-twice. The first time I removed all the visible dirt and emptied the dustpan. Not five minutes later she comes into the kitchen and asks me to sweep the floor. I said I just did and she snorted saying it was ‘filthy’. Nothing in my mother’s house is ever allowed to be slightly dirty let alone filthy so over-exaggeration is a family trait. I argued briefly and then I simply swept the damn floor again; this time removing the invisible dirt. She was trying to hold off taking a pain pill and so was given a free pass but it is typical for our interactions. We love each other to death!
After a week with her, pre-surgery, surgery day and post surgery I was ready to go home. I needed the quiet that I have become accustomed to and the ability to do my life my way. By yesterday she was feeling much better, could move with less pain and I felt comfortable leaving. My sister will be in and out as well as several of her friends so the worst is over. No use of the arm for six weeks and no driving will probably make her nuts but rehab can’t start until six weeks post-op and she is a compliant if whiny patient. Retired nurses make lousy patients!
I’m home with my mother as she recovers from a total shoulder replacement. She is nearly bionic with two artificial knees, plates and pins in one ankle and now the shoulder. All fixable. The shoulder was fabricated and she had to sign consent to allow a technician from the company to be present in the operating room. I suppose he was there to give the orthopedic surgeon advice and tips. The care at the hospital was wonderful but she was up and out the next morning. I’m here until Sunday when a cadre of helpers from her church and friends will pitch in. I’m hoping she will be in less discomfort and more mobile. Her balance is off a bit with the arm immobilized and in a huge sling.
Coming home for this week has made me grateful for the strong support system my mother has between my sister living nearby, family, friends and her church. All of which will allow me to go home and not worry too much. I’ll probably be back during spring break and by then she should be doing fine. But no driving for six weeks and no movement of the arm.
I had a bit of anxiety about cooking for her as I have gotten so out of practice in recent years. Living alone and dating a vegan has also changed my culinary ways. And to be perfectly honest cooking is not something that thrills or soothes me. I like to eat-that is self evident-but cooking has not been a big part of my life since I stopped making meals for my family. I know I rely too much on eating out and fast grab and go things but just the thought of meal planning and preparation makes me want to scream. I can cook but don’t really want to. And that is okay. I am okay.
Valentine’s Day 2017. Which means my daughter has turned 29 years old. Today. My sweetheart and my absolute best Valentine’s gift ever. She is smart and beautiful, compassionate, generous and kind. She has started a new job and takes care of her family and makes me so proud. We have had our ups and downs but our bond is strong.
And it my second Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend. We are continuing to work on our relationship that we are both firmly committed to having succeed. The rocky period before the cruise was tough but we went and had a fabulous, amazing time. We healed and got ourselves back on track. Under starlit skies and while taking cha-cha lessons, playing trivia games and lazing on the Lido deck. He woke me up to see the moonlight over the ocean and stayed with me as the sun rose. We walked hand in hand on the Dutch inspired islands and laughed and talked and met new people and shared our love story. It was a marvelous respite that we both needed from our hectic over wrought lives.
Once we got home it was back into the fire with work pressures, his new house closing and making hundred of trips between houses. We didn’t get to be together tonight so instead he sent flowers with chocolates and a teddy bear-to work. With an absolutely knee-weakening note. Yes he does love me and I love him.