Who Am I

I’ve been reflecting a bit on who I am at this point in my life.  

I have always wanted to live in another country for an extended period of time, in a cottage on the Irish Sea, an apartment in Paris, a bedsit in London or a sun-drenched villa in Greece. Alas I do not have the pocket book for such fantasies or the time. I do not travel for work and so must limit my dreams. I have been to Berlin, spent time traveling down the Romantische Strasse, been to Munich and Koln and Strasbourg. I’ve been to Paris and enjoyed the museums and food and climbed the Eiffel Tower. I have been to Scotland, Ireland and England and seen the Edinburgh Tattoo and had tea at Harrods’ with my mom. I’ve been to Italy and climbed to the roof of the Milan Duormo and saw the Sistine Chapel and had an audience with the last Pope. I’ve seen Pompeii and Rome and Milan. On this side of the pond I’ve see Niagara Falls in all four seasons (liked winter the best) been to San Antonio, LA and Chicago. Went to college in Cleveland but don’t remember much! Up and down the east coast and spent two weeks at a language school in Mexico. My travel style is not adventurous-I see no need to jump out of a perfectly good plane. While I  have snorkeled in Cozumel I am a poor swimmer and a bit claustrophobic so SCUBA holds no appeal. I’m the daughter of a navy guy but my boat knowledge is limited to what I have read, a couple of cruises and canoeing at Girl Scout camp.  

But I love water to walk along, to collect shells and dig my toes in the sand. I also like lakes and rivers and the quiet of a mountain lake at dawn. When I travel I do not worry about what to see but enjoy what I see. I like to hit the cathedrals and museums and eat local. I love bookstores and little shops to poke in and explore. I abhor theme parks and time driven manic travel. I’d rather take the road less taken and enjoy the journey.

I describe myself as a social introvert. I am often the life of the party and can hold court with confidence, wit and charm. But I renew my batteries spending time alone, reading, journaling, appreciating poetry, nature and the quiet of a summer morning or moonlit evening. My beloved dog, Tiger, passed away in July and I miss our walks and especially our talks. 

I am generally an upbeat, positive person but I battle the black dog of depression daily.  I wrestle with the demons left from an unhappy adolescence and a long term marriage that withered my self-confidence and ability to trust.  I feel I am in recovery…….still.  Six years later.

Summer’s End

Yesterday I returned to work after a less than wonderful summer.  I feel frayed and anxious and the transition to work is harder and harder as I pass the thirty year mark and continue to slog on. The losses of the preschool special education class, my darling dog Tiger, and the continuing dramas that are my life, are overwhelming. I’ve come so far but I’m weary. No rest for the wicked!

In an attempt to cheer me up my boyfriend, HAS pulled out the stops and completely gobsmacked me by sending flowers to my base school yesterday.  He scored a home run.  The note was mushy (and read by all my co-workers) and his PDA-public demonstration of affection-was purposeful and totally unexpected.  He has also tracked down the addresses of my other schools and sent cards to me that are waiting as I pop into the four locations.  I feel cradled by his love and it is helping. Now I’m off to swim at a friend’s pool and float around thinking about nothing. Oh and there will be wine……..lots of whine!

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Life Without Tiger

It has been ten days since I said goodbye to my furry companion, Tiger.  I am still reeling from the swiftness that he declined and the finality of farewell.  I am comforted by the knowledge that he was not fully here and was likely in pain and so I know it was the right thing to do.  But the emptiness I feel and the loss of routine has been crippling.  I can’t seem to get out of bed or stay focused on anything.  I don’t feel like eating or doing much of anything.  My friends and family have been great keeping me busy and filling my time but when I come home; and I eventually must come home, the apartment seems lifeless and stale.  I have removed many of his things like the crate and beds and toys but the hole in my heart is so real.

I get overwhelmed by loss; coping with the loss of my program at work, loss of my son; an unending lament, the loss of friends, the loss of ritual and routine.  Summer is sometimes the cruelest time for me.  I work all year with the thought that all will be wonderful when summer arrives-if I can just make it until summer.  But this summer reminds me that loss is year round and the days are long but the years go by so quickly.

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Losing Tiger

It is with great sadness and a heart full of gratitude that I share the passing of Tiger Henderson.

Tiger Henderson  (Age 15) May 1, 2001-July 15, 2016

Tiger left this planet via the Rainbow Bridge quietly and comfortably after a short illness. Tiger was a Cairn Terrier and demonstrated all the characteristics of a terrier; fierce yet docile, protective yet friendly, small yet mighty. He had a bark that was bigger than him and enjoyed belly rubs and treats.

His favorite toy as a puppy was a red Elmo but recently he favored a chewy bone stuffed with biscuits. Although Tiger was very friendly to humans and particularly young ones that wanted to pet him; he was a bit hesitant to make friends with his own kind. Having survived two serious incidents of dog on dog violence perhaps he was merely cautious. When he was younger Tiger would spar with suitcases, balloons, brooms, and of course his nemesis-squirrels!

In his later years Tiger enjoyed sleeping by the fire, walks in the early morning coolness and late night moonlit walkies. A wonderful companion; Tiger listened without judgment and his advice to go outside, enjoy nature and get some exercise was often the perfect solution for his human’s woes.

Tiger is survived by Cooper and Bella, his beloved human, Patti, Katy, Gregory and Eddy. He will be missed by many other friends including Spartacus, Winston, Henry, Eric, Marjie and Karen and Eric. Just last month Tiger enjoyed a day poolside at Camp Cohen and acted like he was lord of the manor. He will be forever in our hearts.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Croen and Courtney and all of the doctors and staff at The Veterinary Clinic for their kind and compassionate care during this very difficult time.

Patti Engel's photo.
Patti Engel's photo.
Patti Engel's photo.

Earning my nursing badge

This summer started out inauspiciously with a cracked crown and mushy brakes. Within hours of clearing my school I had an emergency dental appointment; diagnosis broken crown and later that evening dropped my car off for much needed new brakes and oil change.  Can you say Bam! a thousand dollars gone!  And much to many folks surprise; no, teachers do not get paid in the summer.  Most of us squirrel away money for the pleasure of a summer filled with classes, repairing burned-out brains and much neglected family time.  BUT no paychecks!

Then to add to the fun my wonderful boyfriend’s parents begin a hare-brained attempt to drive 1400 miles north, three days after his mom was discharged from a nursing home/rehab.  To say it did not go well is a huge understatement.  Cue the ambulance call from a no-tell cheap motel (more about his father’s legendary cheapness later) and the rush to a nearby hospital in Georgia.  Which hospital? Funny you ask because his father had turned off his phone so the only contact was with a brother 1400 miles away. Who called my boyfriend on Saturday-two days later!!!!  Yes, that was me googling hospitals and plotting how far they may have gotten to locate them.  His mom was in isolation with an infection and there was no way this sweet lady was going to make it in a car to northern Vermont.  Hell, no!

Next comes flights, rental cars, arguing with his father, picking up yet another brother at the airport, tag teaming their father until he finally realized that perhaps flying was a better idea.  Of course this was contingent on getting her out of the hospital.  So a great plan is hatched to return to the winter home (4 hours away) and wait for a flight on Saturday.  Then the boys drive the rental car and the parents car back to airport (4 hours away) and drive north, dropping off the brother at his place in Delaware.  Exhausted boyfriend continues to drive to my mother’s house in New York where I am awaiting orders.  He sleeps and the next morning we head in separate cars to far northern Vermont (how far north you ask-the signs are bilingual English/French!).

So we arrive.  His mom is mobility impaired and incontinent and his father is just plain bull-headed!  What level of relationship includes seeing you boyfriend’s mother’s fanny? ’cause I’m there!  This is my vacation?  Luckily his mom is adorable and sweet and given the circumstances we had a good time.  With five of us in the house we could take turns helping his mom, his brother turns out to be a good cook and more plans for home health care support are made.

We snuck away for a quick visit to Ben and Jerry’s for the factory tour, a winery/cidery and on the day before we left we went to Montreal.  Mostly to get my pristine passport stamped and to step out of the country.  We ate in a little cafe, I had a Croque Monsieur and he had the veggie bagette.  I was just happy to be surrounded by people speaking French and feeling like I had gotten away.

And I am happy to report after a 12 hour ride home in pouring rain, sleeping in an upstairs, non air conditioned bedroom and seeing him with his trousers around his ankles demonstrating how to put on a Depends adult diaper without removing shoes and pants; that we are totally and completely crazy in love.  Stronger than ever.  Wow!

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Soon we will all be motherless

I just got off the phone with a long time friend-long time as in from about fourth grade on. His mother died this evening down in Florida of dementia and old age except she was early 80’s.  Hardly old.  She had been slipping away for many years but the end is still a shock. He is an orphan now, newly retired, separated from his wife and I am worried for his mental health.  Too many shocks, too many big life changing events in a short period of time.  He sounds adrift and doesn’t even know where to begin to get his footing back.  I want to help but am too far away and too far removed from the drama that has been encircling him for years.

So all I could do was cry with him and miss my father and cry for my father and and his mother and our memories and try to pull him closer to me.  I want to make a blanket fort and hide in it.  I am so tired of adulting this week.tumblr_lm2ex6XJak1qc7zf2o1_500

Happy Birthday HAS

Yesterday was my sweetheart HAS’ birthday.  He had spent the early part of the day driving home from North Carolina where he had spent the night at his brother’s on the way north from Florida.  My darling had had a long week being with his parents and working to find out what exactly had landed his mother in rehab after a fall.  The harsh reality that his parents were aging and needed more help than he or his brothers had imagined was putting him in a rough place.  I had done all I could over the phone but we needed some time together to process and deal with the new reality.

My many years of working in an allied health field plus my knowledge of nursing homes, care plans, care giving and general compassion for aging parents helped him immensely.  Plus, my mother has over three decades of working in a nursing home and was a great resource for both of us.  We did what we could.  

My love for him grows daily, the being apart only strengthened my devotion and his willingness to share and open his heart about his fears broke the tiny walls inside my heart.  With love all things can be borne. His burdens shall be mine.

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