I Won’t Grow Up!

I have a serious question. Please see right through this next sentence. I’m asking for a friend. When, exactly, do adult children come to the realization that their parents are human, and have human reactions, emotions, fears and failings?

Some would say that by writing this, I’m being too transparent, especially that I’m planning on posting it on my blog. If they read further, my children will say this is passive aggressive behavior. They diagnose me of this all the time. At this point, I’m not sure it will matter one way or the other, so here goes…

In the last eight months, I have had the awesome responsibility and honor of caring for my mother as she navigated her way through cancer treatment (finishing just before the shutdown for the Coronavirus Pandemic). For six weeks, I chaperoned her through chemotherapy once a week and radiation daily. In between, we visited Pulmonologists and Primary care doctors to treat other maladies. She was a champ, most of the time. I jumped through hoops, though, trying to attend to all of her meds, her physical and personal needs, and most intensely, her dietary needs. I didn’t mind any of it. In fact, I loved finding new ways to tempt her compromised taste buds. It only got difficult when her mood was compromised as well.

What I didn’t expect was the physical and emotional toll on myself. I have degenerative disc disease and two autoimmune disorders, and unfortunately stress does affect them all. My condition had been affected, although I didn’t realize how much until the evenings when mom went to bed and I collapsed into my easy chair.

As many who know me are aware, I have been extremely distraught about the current state of affairs in our country. I have lost so many friends and acquaintances to COVID. There had been additional passing of loved ones or friends, or loved ones of friends. I have attended several Zoom funerals. The sadness pervades me.

On top of everything else, my husband and I have been at odds. While I won’t go into detail about that, suffice it to say that we are on different sides of the fence politically, and I will only say that he thinks that’s the entirety of the problem, and that if we don’t talk politics, we’ll be fine. He, unfortunately for him and for our marriage, doesn’t learn from experiences. It always reminds me of the Mark Twain quote, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in, lest we be like the cat. She may never sit on a hot stove top again, but she may not sit on a cool one, either.”

We live in Florida, which is exploding with the Coronavirus Pandemic right now. On top of that, we are, quite possibly, in the path of a Cat 1 hurricane. I worry about the virus for me, but mostly for the fact my mother, the champ, didn’t survive cancer to succumb to COVID. I also worry that if we lose power, will we be able to get enough gas for the generator to keep her oxygen going? We’re always prepared for Hurricanes otherwise, but this year, I’m of no help to get shutters up because my back renders me incapacitated. I’m worried. Period.

All of these things have played a part in my inability to rest well or to eat well. I am not myself. So, when I reach out to my children, either one of them, in pain, and looking for some sense of normalcy in my life, wanting only to chat and hear their voices, I get attitude. Neither one of them can look past their own opinions and suppositions about what they expect from their mother, to realize that I am, indeed, a human being, with emotions, fears and feelings.

Last night, I tried to tell one of them just that, and when we began talking about another topic, I offered information that wasn’t exactly on topic, (and it was, I admit, a negative contribution).  The tone in my offspring got testy and contrary. I couldn’t handle that sound, that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I said goodbye and hung up.

I’m not perfect. I’m not Peter Pan (that’s my brother). I can’t be held to a higher standard anymore. Both my kids are in their thirties, and I thought I did a good job raising them. They both chose fields in which they help people. Apparently, the sensitivity they possess stops when it comes to me.

So, who needs to grow up? Me or them?

My Matchbook Metaphor

It was like a long wooden match. When we first struck it against the flint, it sparked and burst into a brilliant orange and yellow flame. There were tiny bits of sulfur spewing out from the initial explosion of excitement. The fire burned big and bright, drinking in the air and growing tall.

When the sparks began to subside, the flame settled into a steady and slow burn. Every now and then a fine hair from the wood that had peeled ever so slightly from the stick would sparkle a little bit brighter. But as time went by, and the fire worked its way down the matchstick, the original fire waned and the flame got smaller and smaller.

The matchstick itself that remained at the top was burned through, and had lost its strength. The oxygen had been sucked away from the flame. There was no longer anything to keep it alive. The potency of the stick itself was unrecognizable. The fiber had been charred by the anger and the heat of the fire.

Finally, on its last breath, when there was nothing left to keep the fire alive, it quietly withered, leaving nothing but the scarred remains of the matchstick’s foundation, and a wisp of smoke, sadly blowing away like a memory in a puff of the breeze. And isn’t that sad.

I CriedToday

Usually on the Fourth of July, my day includes a lot of rituals. I’ve always loved to celebrate the fact that I’m an American. The pride I’ve always had to live here in the strongest, greatest, safest country in the world, the gratitude I’ve always held for my freedom and the love for my country were things I’ve always held dear. On the Fourth, I would always wear red, white and blue, I would hang my grandmother’s military honors flag outside my house, we would barbeque and I would sit at my piano off and on all day, playing medleys of patriotic songs.

Not today. Today I cried. I mourned for the tens of thousands of Americans who needlessly lost their lives as the result of a poorly managed pandemic. I grieved for the Gold Star families who may well have been the victims of loss due to a traitorous Commander-In-Chief.  I weep for the loss of integrity of our diplomats and public service representatives who can no longer be trusted because our word is no longer dependable due to the misguided lack of leadership coming from the Oval Office.

Just when I thought things were getting better and there was hope that we were finally working toward the ideals of our founding fathers, someone came in and smashed it to pieces. Our citizens are more divided than they were before the civil war. The hate and derision are palpable, even in my own household.

When most of America had seen enough of the civil rights violations of African Americans, our President stirred the pot just enough to bring out enough white supremacists out in the open that they are pointing weapons of war at peaceful protestors. He has politicized the pandemic just enough that not wearing a mask to protect their friends and neighbors is a badge of honor and “pro-Trump.”  His ignorance of the science and desire to win an election will have killed likely another 50,000 Americans before we even vote.

The Grand Old Party, the “Party of Lincoln” no longer exist. Most of the Republican Senators and Representatives who are sitting right now are doing just that… sitting, and watching this president defile the office, defecate on the Constitution and destroy our reputation around the world.  He has gone as far as ignore a Russian bounty on the heads of our service men and women serving in Afghanistan, without standing up to Vladimir Putin.  The entire truth will come out. It always does, and they will ALL land on the wrong side.

So, in the year 2020, I will not celebrate our independence. We are held captive by a criminal, lying, traitorous fascist. If true Americans don’t do something to change that on November 3rd of this year, I hope they develop a taste for borscht.

I hate borscht, therefore, I cried today.