The sticky note will be larger next time

I thought I was doing okay with my mother’s passing. I know she’s in the excellent place. I know she’s in that great cloud of witnesses urging me on. I know that in the scope of eternity, I’ll get to be with her soon. I know these things.

In my mind, it seems like it’s just been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen her and then I think I need to get over for a visit, and then I think, No, that’s not right. Then I move on, return to here and now with a faint thought that I’ll see her tomorrow.

I’ve been doing this for 2 1/2 years. I’ve been in a combination of acceptance and denial, and then I ran out of that comfortable place into the truth. Mom is gone. She’s been gone for 2 1/2 years and she’s not coming back. There aren’t going to be any more hugs or laughs ever again, and that’s the way it is. Period. End of story.

I miss her so much. She was 5’ 5” and larger than life. She was everything. When she died, she took the light and the laughter with her and my heart is shattered.

If I could stay in bed under the covers, I would. It’s difficult to concentrate or remember things. I can’t even crochet and I have crocheted for years.

Well, at least we’re stupid busy at work so I don’t have time to be weepy, or hide under the covers.

Yes, I know I’ll be 60 years old this year. I’m an adult. But, my mom hung the moon. We were very, very close. We were best friends. I don’t care how old you are or how all together you are, it’s very hard to be without your best friend you’ve known your whole life.

I like to think I was trying to take care of myself, but actually I lacked the energy or give a flip to do anything Saturday. The day began with thunderstorms and excellent sleeping weather. Benny knows when I’m down, so he velcroed himself to my side and we slept in. He was quiet so Nicky was quiet. Eventually Loving Husband took them outside for a walk. I unsuccessfully tried to read, and wound up watching a Michelle Pfeiffer movie, binge watch a comedy series on HBO, and napping. I didn’t even bother to get dressed.

Hours of sitting in bed kinks up my back. Same thing for the living room furniture. I was stiff and sore Sunday morning with a new pain shooting down the front of my left leg. With Loving Husband and the dogs sleeping, I took the opportunity to listen to a meditation CD in the front bedroom. I put a neon green sticky note on the door telling Loving Husband to not open the door, I was doing a meditation, and I would be out when I was finished.

Everything was perfect. The laptop played the CD. The volume was perfect. The desk chair was perfect. The comforting aroma of coffee mingled with Sharon’s voice. The temperature was even perfect.

Years ago Sharon led meditation walks with the Holy Spirit. They were phenomenal. Eventually she recorded her walks. I received more inner healing from these walks than I ever did from any therapist. I knew that I could return to that anointed place and my heart would heal. It happened before and it would happen again.

“Breathe,” Sharon said. “ In. Out. Count the breaths. One, two, very gently.”

I closed my eyes, and breathed. In. Out. One, two.

Of course there’s a car alarm going off. Ignore it.. Three. Four. Follow the breath. Up around my knees… They’ll turn the alarm off… six, seven, in, out…. This isn’t how I remembered this. Why am I not relaxing? Twelve. Thirteen. The breath is swirling around my head, behind my eyes… in ….out… my arms are light…. Stop thinking…. I miss Sharon… don’t miss the car alarm….

Sharon’s gentle, calming, even voice leading the way, leading the way I had been many times before, floating up, away to God’s arms, a real place, a place of peace.

Really shouldn’t have spent yesterday sitting…. Dang that hurts!…. in… out… breath…

“Shell? Shell? Shelly?” from the far end of the house, getting closer, looking for me in that small house void of hiding places. First bedroom door opened and closed, and then my door opened.

“Whatcha doing?”

“I was meditating. I left a neon green note on the door.”

“Oh. Sorry. I didn’t see it.”

He closed the door. I closed the computer.

No meditation. No mended heart.

What a waste. What a silly notion I had, meditating in the front room with someone else in the house. I teared up. My mom was gone and my heart was broken and my back and leg pain would eventually go into spasms. That’s just the way things go.

No weekend is complete without a trip to the grocery store, which is usually Walmart, which is always a challenge. A benefit of depression was a complete lack of interest in everyone else’s rudeness. A plus!

Abruptly, the back and leg pain vanished. I hadn’t taken any NSAIDs or anti-inflammatories but the pain was all gone. The kinks were gone.

When we go to God asking for help, He helps. He hears our prayers and is with us, no matter where we are. We don’t have to be perfect to go to Him, or all prayed up, or well dressed. We just have to ask. I wanted my heart mended right then, but He took care of my back and leg first. And he quieted my spirit so I could navigate the full contact sport of Walmart shopping without being rude in return.

Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

Coffee talk

I’m going to get Lasik. When I watched my husband’s procedure a few years ago, I decided that was just too nasty for me and I would wear glasses forever. Glasses that get more and more expensive every year because I have progressive lenses, and anti-glare coating, and transition. I can go without the transition, but I need the other stuff. Glasses, even with cheap frames from Walmart, are now around $500. Sheesh.

I’ve been in glasses since I was twelve. I hated them, especially when my sister made fun of me. She dogged me for being a 4-eyes, and how much prettier I was without them. Now that she’s in her 50’s she has to wear glasses if she wants to see. The things we hate we become. (My one deep thought for the day.)

Earlier that year, when I turned twelve, Mom showed me how to wear makeup. I have light brown eyelashes. She and my sister have red eyelashes. We NEED mascara or we have no eyes. We NEVER leave the house without makeup. I had two C-sections wearing waterproof mascara. My ex-husband NEVER saw me without my eyes on.

My new husband loves me no matter what. (New. We’ve been married almost twenty years.) He loves me with greasy hair and furry legs. He loves me with crooked teeth and wrinkles. He loves me when I’m glammed up or even completely natural, a size 8 or a size 14. It is WONDERFUL to be accepted!

Getting Lasik means I’ll have 20/20 vision for distance, but I’ll need readers for, well, reading. Perfect vision! I’ll be able to see everything clearly! I once had contacts that had my eyes at 20/15, which was absolutely amazing. Everything, leaves, stars, flowers, were diamond sharp. It was magical.

Over time, though, allergies and presbyopia ruined my ability to wear contacts. It’s sort of nice that glasses are in fashion and worn ironically. No one calls me 4 Eyes to my face.

Maybe I will

I’ve reached the point where I’m seriously considering getting Lasik on my eyes. I’ve been near-sighted since I was twelve. I hated wearing glasses. My sister made fun of me, but that’s what siblings do. In middle and high school, I was forced to take gym, and I was the kid who always caught the volleyball or basketball with my face. Smash those glasses into my nose! I chose vanity over vision as often as possible.

The first ex-husband wouldn’t let me buy contacts. He said everyone he knew who wore them hated them. They were uncomfortable and he wasn’t going to waste the money. I do believe I still have that huge pair of 80’s glasses in the bottom of my sock drawer.

The first thing I did when he and I divorced was take back my maiden name. The second thing I did was get contacts. I would have worn them no matter what just to prove him wrong. I was thrilled to find out they actually were comfortable and I actually had perfect vision with them. One set of contacts had me corrected to better than 20/20. I had 20/15 in each eye. I had super vision! I remember one summer night looking up at the clear, Texas sky and seeing thousands of sharp diamonds on black velvet. Yes, the stars at night ARE big and bright deep in the heart of Texas!

It was fantastic to see clearly, to see everything near and far and in between. I saw my face in the mirror instead of seeing glasses. I could stand across the room and see to put my makeup on. I could wear fashion sunglasses. Those tiny, thin pieces of plastic are purely magic. I enjoyed a decade of perfect eyes.

Alas, Texas allergens beat me down, gave me dry, itchy allergy eyes that couldn’t handle contacts. Then I got old and my eyeballs warped so I couldn’t see close up. I had to wear “progressive” lenses they say give you near, far and in between vision, but, they lie. There’s no in between. I can see through the tops or the bottoms, but not the middle.

There are troughs indenting the sides of my head and divots on each side of my nose. This where my glasses sit.

Lightweight Progressive lenses, with scratch-resistant coating, get more and more expensive every year, closing in on $500. I think Lasik is becoming a good option. It would be so nice to be able to see again!

I’ll use the doctor my husband went to a few years ago. Dr. Smith was a flight surgeon, and now he is a Lasik specialist. He spends a weekend every month down at the Air Force base in San Antonio helping the airmen with their eyes free. He had steady hands and a great bedside manner.

I can get payments for the procedure, so that’s not a problem.

The drawback is I can’t wear mascara for two weeks. Two weeks. Trust me when I say I have no face without mascara. I have blonde eyelashes. I even wore waterproof mascara when I had the C-sections because I didn’t want to scare my babies.

I’ve asked around for suggestions as to what I can do short of wearing a bag over my head. How does one function without a face when they have to go to work and see people? Worse, be seen by people?

One young woman told me her corneas were too thin for Lasik, but she did get permanent eyeliner and I might want to do that.

I have never, ever, EVER wanted to get my eyelids tattooed, which is what permanent eyeliner is. EYE TATTOOS. How freaking painful is that????? Holy smokes!!! Just writing this gives me the heeby jeebies.

The only thing that happened, she said, was her eyelids were crusty for a couple of weeks, but it was okay because it just looked like makeup.

What? WHAT??

Has anyone ever in the history of ever thought crusty eyelids were pretty?

A more sane suggestion was wearing my hair extra pretty to draw attention from my face. How about full bangs down to my chin?

I’ve worn makeup since I was 12. Mama NEVER left the house without a full face on. Only since January 2015 have I been able to go outside without a full face. I will even walk the dogs around the block with no makeup, no mascara, nothing on my face except my glasses. Granted, it’s before dawn, when the vampires are hurrying home from the night shift, and they don’t care.

Yes, I do hide behind those Maybelline eyes. My war paint. I would be incredibly naked and vulnerable with a bare face in public.

What’s the worst that would happen? What if I dared to go bare? Hmmm

Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here.

I kicked the habit but still don’t dress well

In junior high and high school, my sister and I were latchkey kids. That was back in the day when kids stayed at home, without adult supervision and no one thought anything of it. After-school care and year round day care were nonexistent. We lived in the Sherry Park Apartments in Arlington, Texas in 1970, when they were nice and not a slum.

Mom was a single parent who worked in Dallas. The suburbs were safe and affordable on her meager 1970 income. She left us strict instructions to stay out of the field behind the apartments, do not ride our bikes in the cement drainage ditch between the apartments and the field, and DO NOT go into the apartment complex next door, L ’Atriums.

The best bike riding was in that ditch, and the best exploring was in the glamorous apartment complex with their atrium apartments.

In the heat of the day, however, I stayed inside on the couch, with the air conditioner, and the little TV. Every day I watched reruns of “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Dream of Jeanie,” “the Addams Family,” “the Musters,” and Slam Bang Theater with Icky Twerp.

My favorites, though, were two soap operas: “All My Children” and the creepy “Dark Shadow.”

Every summer, every vacation day, I had to watch “All My Children.” Erica Cane was just a few years older than I was, but one hundred times more troublesome for her long-suffering mother. I rode my Schwinn in the ditch and went to the forbidden apartment complex, but I never stole anyone’s husband.

The worst thing that happened in 1972 was the Watergate hearings. Not that there was a national crisis, but they commandeered the TV and I missed my story! The nerve!

I was addicted.

To my delight, when I got to college, I was able to arrange my classes around All My Children. I found other girls with the same addiction and we ate lunch and watched AMC together, always a few minutes late for the class at 12:00 because our story didn’t end until 12:00. Heaven forbid I miss the cliffhanger!

The villain in the show was the very rich and powerful Palmer Cortlandt, whose mansion was named Cortlandt Manor. He was so manipulative! Such a mean man. When you have lots of money, you’re just flat out mean.

In 1989, I was pregnant the same time as my favorite character, Dixie. She went into labor on Thursday. I was scheduled for a C-section the following day, and as luck would have it, I had my baby and was in my room watching Dixie’s horribly dramatic emergency C-section. I stayed in the hospital over the weekend, and Monday, she was still having the dramatic emergency C-section. I went home Tuesday, but I was too busy to keep with Dixie and JR.

I was an obsessive first time mom and my whole life revolved around my baby. When he was about 18 months old and taking his first tentative steps, I returned to Pine Valley to resume feeding my addiction.

JR, the baby who was born about the same time my baby was, was suddenly five years old. Pine Valley must have magical water!

It wasn’t that the writers played fast and loose with time, or marriages, or relationships in general that bothered me. I didn’t want my son watching this show because I didn’t want him getting the idea that all women wear beautiful lingerie and perfect makeup all of the time. That fantasy was where I drew the line. I mean really! Perfectly matching gowns, negligees, and never-smudge mascara. My twenty-year addiction died.

Today I processed an order for a customer in the town of Courtlandt Manor, New York, which sent me on a little mental vacation. Could Palmer Courtlandt actually transcend the space-time continuum and grow his house into an entire town where children grow up super-fast and Susan Lucci never ages? I want to go there, drink the water, and see if anything happens. At least I can go to the Home Depot and buy Brazilian tile from Texas from a woman who never figured out beautiful lingerie.

Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here.

That old watch from the mystery drawer

Several years ago, I finally got around to taking my Casio watch to a watch repair guy at the mall. All I needed was a battery but the fellow didn’t have any. It was an old watch lost in a mystery drawer long enough to become obsolete. The jeweler was working on a watch and asked me if I’d buy it for ten bucks. It said Rolex. Of course it was some odd knock-off, but it a good deal at ten dollars.

I got a kick wearing something that, from a distance, looked like something it wasn’t. I work with people who think nothing of buying an eight thousand dollar (or more) Rolex that they actually wear in public. I can’t imagine! It’s a crazy world in which kids are killed for sneakers. I can only imagine what bandits would do for an expensive watch on the arm of a little old woman like me.

It wasn’t long before my knock-off stopped working and was buried in the mystery drawer with the Casio and a Zune.

This weekend my search for a camera cord wound up in the mystery drawer. Buried under papers, pens, a Zune, some Beanie Babies, and a kazoo was my forgotten Rolex. Well! How about that? It just needed a battery, the stem replaced, and it could again amuse me.

I went to jeweler in town who had great Yelp reviews for being so helpful and honest.

He told me it would be ten bucks for the battery and twenty-five to fix the stem, but it wasn’t a real Rolex and why didn’t I just go buy a new watch? He happened to have shiny lady’s Rolex right there in the case for only two thousand dollars.

I left. I reburied my knock-off in the mystery drawer.

Sunday, my ginger son Christopher treated me to Mother’s Day lunch. He told me about his new success as a car salesman and his plans for the future. I told him about eating pulled pork tacos the previous morning at the farmer’s market and singing along with the live music duet. I related my dead Rolex story, and he looked me dead in the eye and told me he would buy me a Rolex if that was what I wanted, and then I could tell everyone my son gave it to me.

My son the Super Automotive Relationship Counselor! I love him to death.

What started out as a sad week of painfully missing my mom turned into one of the best Mother’s Day weekends I’ve had in years. Lunch with Chris on Sunday, and Mike took me to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” Saturday night.

My boys have grown into successful adults, which makes me very, very happy. I’ve done my job, which is way better than a Rolex.

Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here.

That time Bo Diddley saved my morning

I have been very confident that deep grief does not last forever. I tell people grieving a recent loss that the sharp, constant pain they’re suffering now will lessen its grip on them over time. I often have happy thoughts of my mom now, as opposed to the tear-soaked memories soon after she passed.

Yesterday was the third birthday since she died. I approached it confidently it would be another day at work, followed by another evening at home. Nothing different. Nothing dramatic. Nothing painful.

Grief isn’t tidy, and it’s not a respecter of time. It’s torturous. It’s a ratbastard.

After visiting Mom’s grave, I returned to work and stared at my computer screen. We put on our big girl boots and do our job, because, that’s what we do, no matter how persistent the grief is.

I left as soon as the quittin’ time whistle blew. Went straight home, walked the dogs, cleaned up after them, and went to bed. Grief can’t find you if you’re under the magic covers. Yes, I’m an old woman and I still believe in the magic covers.

Loving Husband brought tacos home for dinner. Good ol’ tacos. They weren’t Jack-in-the-Box tacos, but that was okay.

I could have stayed in bed this morning, cocooned and safely held in place by my dogs, but I donned the big girl boots anyway and left for work. You know, because that’s what we do.

Why I thought I could function without coffee is a mystery. I actually left the house without a travel tumbler of Major Dickason and three heaping teaspoons of Splenda, and I wound up at a Sonic drive-in where they have Green Mountain coffee.

The morning was warm, and humid. I left my window down listening to new pop music playing on the outdoor speakers. Up-beat music for the morning, but I don’t know the new stuff. I’m strictly classic rock.

Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley done had a farm (hey Bo Diddley)

Bo Diddley playing at Sonic!

I am confident that when grief comes and tries to wrestle you to the ground, God will intervene and send something good to you, a sweet message meant just for you to bring a smile to your heart. He sent me Bo Diddley.

Mama loved to dance, especially to her 50’s music. I vividly remember her dancing with me when I was a little girl, to this very song on the radio. Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley done had a farm (hey Bo Diddley!) In addition, I know, just as well as I know my name is Michelle, she is dancing in heaven, dancing to Bo Diddley. Heaven, the place full of music and the party never ends. (And the coffee is way better than Sonic’s.)

Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here.

Mom’s 80th birthday

Poppy brought his dog, my sister and one of my sons to my office today so we could go visit Mom on her birthday. She would have been 80.

My sister and I don’t go to the cemetary by ourselves. Poppy says we don’t have to wait for him to go, that we can go on our own, but, we don’t want to.

Today was a busy funeral day at DFW National Cemetery. No matter how efficiently they queue everyone up in A, B, C or D line to neatly process to their designated covered shelter, no matter how orderly the rows of makers are, it’s still sad. It’s all so final.

The Patriot Guard was there, which I love. I love to see tough-looking bikers on their big ol’ hogs exhibiting tenderness.

There was a group of 150 cars. I think that was for a high-ranking Air Force officer. The first volley of the 21 gun salute made me jump. Taps made my sister cry.

Mama would complain that when her birthday fell on Mother’s Day she got ripped off because she only got one present instead of two. Now I’m the one who is ripped off because I don’t have a mother any more. I take her little urn with me in my purse, which really isn’t the same as having her here, and it might be a little creepy. But, we do what we have to do, don’t we?

Dang it. I sure miss her.