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General rambling

Now, An Only Child?

Not that I am an only child, as I was blessed with growing up in a large family.  I’m thankful for that.

I feel sometimes like an only child.  The last of my siblings left two years ago to start a new life elsewhere, leaving me, alone, with my husband, as the sole care-takers of my mom. 

 Now, mom does not need a caretaker, yet.  She has made that abundantly clear.  She does occasionally needs things done around the house.  She does need rides to get her hair done or to go to the mall.  But her current needs are minimal.  I’ve been taking her to do the grocery shopping every week for years already, but that never felt like an obligation.  In fact, it was fun.  I look forward to it.  I’m sure there will come a time when Mom will need more from us, but for now, the most imposing she has been is to ask us to be her paid escorts because she felt like dining out.  No problem.

But my mother is not what this is about.  It’s about family.  It’s about nurturing.  It’s about love.  It’s about goodbyes and it’s about hellos.

Families have changed so much in the past five or thirty years.  I’m not talking about blended families that ensued after a soaring divorce rate, or same sex parents after the acceptance of same sex marriages.  I’m referring to transient families, whose children, when they completed higher education or when they married, settled to build their lives far away from where they grew up; specifically, far away from home.

When I was growing up, both sets of grandparents, all aunts and uncles and all cousins lived within a 30 mile radius.  This was two and a half generations ago, if a generation can be cut in half.  In the fifties and sixties in suburbia, nuclear families remained together.  If there is blame to be laid (and there isn’t), it was my generation that started the trend of spreading out all over the country.  Commercial air travel, faster communication methods and changes in social and economic opportunity have made all of this possible, no probable.

I miss my big brothers.  When the last one asked me to hang out while the movers packed up his house, I thought it would be an opportunity to spend some quality time with him.  I’m still trying to get over having to say goodbye to his wife and daughter two weeks ago in New York.  (We were all there to see my niece in a show.)   I figured we’d have a little time to talk, have some lunch, get a little work done and maybe reminisce a bit about some of the stuff that was being packed.

What actually happened was chaos.  His head was full of nine thousand thoughts.  He was attempting to get the house ready to sell while at the same time getting it packed up to move.  He missed his wife who had been out in California for a few weeks already.  Wasn’t sure all of the furniture was going to get picked up (that which was not going with him).  He felt bad about leaving the dogs outside in the heat.  I’m pretty sure he was pausing to glance at my mother, wondering when the next time was that he would see her.  I watched all this in silence.

That’s a lie.  I’m never silent.  In fact, my reaction was, as usual, the exact opposite.  I was hyper, and silly, and trying as hard as I could to be funny and engaging, to make everyone laugh.  You could cut the tension with a machete from an earlier exchange between my brother and the movers, and I was doing what I could to make everyone laugh.  That all worked out fine.

I spent a lot of time outside with the dogs, playing, smoking cigarettes, dunking my feet in the pool and weeping.  See… it wasn’t just my brother I was going to miss.  It was hard growing up in a houseful of men.  When my brother first met his wife, they were teenagers.  She immediately took me under her wing, and except for maybe wrapping her hair around a soup can every night to straighten it out, I looked up to her for just about everything.  They became my best friends and she became my sister.   You know, the one I never had.  For the past 44 years, she has been my sister, a confidante, a punching bag, a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, and my personal baker (I think that may be the part I miss the most).  Even my closest friends don’t know me as well.

And so it goes.  My siblings all settled elsewhere and somehow because of my mother and the closeness between my brothers and me, all of our children are unusually close, even though they didn’t grow up in the same city.

Now, when I look at this next generation of cousins, they live even further away from each other, yet as siblings they are close.  My one brother’s kids are in California.  Mine are in Florida and Wisconsin.  Another brother’s kids are in Georgia and South Carolina, and the other brother’s kids are both in Pennsylvania. Thanks to cell phones and social media, everyone seems to stay in touch.  They all seem to know what’s going on with each other.  I’m thankful for that.

Having just returned from California, where we celebrated the marriage of my niece to a terrific young man, although I don’t know if he’s aware of into what he’s gotten himself. We also welcomed another family member… my nephew and his wife brought a beautiful boy into this world.  Most of the cousins were there to engage in merriment and togetherness. That’s what families do.  Or at least, that’s what our family does.  I’m thankful for that too.

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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in General

 

Here’s Why I Write!

In the last few years, so much has happened in the news and in my life that I’ve gone through my own personal metamorphosis… It was at that point in my life, a year and half ago, that I realized that I had much less time ahead of me than I had behind me, and I wasn’t about to waste another moment being quiet, because I finally, in middle-age, have found  my voice.

So I wrote a novel for women; to let them know that everything that happened in their lives is what made them who they are, whether they were bad things or good things; that it is okay to talk about these things and tell someone who can help; that you are not alone.

Rita Coolidge said (and unfortunately I have to paraphrase because I don’t remember her exact words), that you can either let these things stop you in your tracks or you can grow from them.  In middle age, I decided to grow from them.  This was the impetus for “A Life, Well… Lived!”

My second book, “Okay, So I Lied!” is the story of a young woman who knew what she wanted and was willing to do anything to get it, even if it meant lying to those she loved.  Her lies took her many places, many of which were unpleasant, as is the case with many or most lies.  When she comes clean… well, you have to read it to find out.

I am currently working on my third novel.  Stay tuned!  You can access links to learn more about me and my books (and the purchase of same ~~hint hint) here:

JTFisher-A Novel Approach to Life

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in General

 

Change Only Hurts If You Resist It

A few years ago, I saw a terrific show called, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” which, if I recall correctly, traced relationships between a man and woman from dating, through marriage, through child-rearing into and through old age. It was cute. It was funny. It was us. And it was, once again, disparaging the role of women in a man’s life.

We are not all sculptors who feel we were handed a blob of hairy modelling clay that just happens to be full of testosterone. I actually loved my husband just the way he was…. Sort of.
I gave up trying to change anything about him within a year of our marriage. As we prepare to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, and with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve learned that I had wasted a lot of time and energy, attempting to make him into something he’s not. Even if it did mean that giving up trying to get him to remember to put down the toilet seat would later result in many instances of me falling in; Even if it did result in a multitude of rush clean-up sessions (errant shoes, phantom socks, empty envelopes from the opened mail and whatever else got left right where he finished with it), because of an impromptu visitor.
I have taught him a few things along the way. (And he, me). For instance, I taught him not to end a sentence or a question with a preposition, especially professionally. It always sounded extremely unpolished to me when he would ask a potential client, “Where do you work at?” I also have broadened his gastronomic horizons. He no longer puts ketchup on everything. I think that’s where I have drawn the line.
What I refuse to give up on, however, is trying to get him to change himself… to be adventurous, open-minded and willing to try new things. The time in our lives when we had to be serious, responsible and passive, so that we could see to the needs of our children and our parents is over. We are still young enough to take a shot at something new and different, but that would mean making a change.
My husband is a very bright guy. After all, how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?  One, but the light bulb has to really want to change.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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Right at Home

There is certainly no shortage of animal lovers out there.  If you have a question, just take a few minutes to look at Facebook or Instagram, or any other of the social media.  And the cute kitties and stupid dog tricks will overwhelm you.

I’m not really different from most of them.  I, too, share plenty of photos of my “pets.”  Notice how I cleverly put the word pets in quotation marks?  That’s because I’ve never really owned a pet.  In my adult life, or during my marriage of 32 years, my husband and I have raised two human children and have adopted four four-legged ones.  Since I’ve written copiously about my two legged children, I thought maybe I’d spend a few minutes reflecting on my other children.  Some of the latter have behaved better than the former in a lot of ways, but they all had a way of making themselves right at home.

Fake BlackyHad the internet and Facebook been available to me early on, I could have shown you how Blacky, our white Boxer, protected our children, stole entire loaves of bread (and then hid the wrappers in the corner under a chair), and pulled the covers off of my husband when she wanted to go out for a walk.  Blacky hated when the kids went swimming, and hated taking a bath herself.  She was strong, husky and aggressive toward anyone who seemed a threat, yet would belly crawl across the floor to a baby who was playing on a blanket in the living room.  She allowed my daughter to put dresses and tiaras on her, but would tear through a rawhide bone in three minutes.  Blacky was truly a member of the family.  (This is a substitute photo.  It is actually a Blacky look alike named Hector.)

Our second adoption came three years after Blacky left us.  My husband was in no hurry to have the responsibility,Sophie and Daniel nor the expense of another “child.”  Sophie, however, was in dire need of a home.  Her original family had a new baby who was violently allergic to her.  They were also not aware of the fact that cats eat when they’re hungry, but dogs eat when there’s food.  Consequently, Sophie was a prime candidate for Woof-Woof Sophie Weightwatchers.  We put her on a diet, and after losing 30 pounds, she   was sleek and slim.  She was still lazy.  Sophie required emergency  surgery four months into her stay with us.  Six huge bladder stones and $2,000 later, Sophie made herself right at home.  She found her spot on the couch, and while Blacky didn’t care for the aluminum foil placed there to keep dogs off furniture, Sophie just kicked it off and got comfortable.  Unlike her predecessor, though, she liked water.  In fact, she liked it so much, she would climb in the shower with me.

When it was time for Sophie to go, I had convinced my husband, that the best way to replace the emptiness of losing a four-legged family member is to get another one.  Enter Goyo.  This old man was seven when he came to live with us, Goyo hugand he did so because I was afraid nobody else would adopt an old dog with existing medical issues.  He wouldn’t let me leave the Humane Society without him.  He barked until we took him, and then never said another word.  And he showed up just in time.  Soon after he came home, I lost my job.  We really needed each other during that time, because not only did I have no place to go during the day, but both my kids were away at school, so I had that empty nest thing going as well.

Goyo must have come from a different generation.  I say that because he had better manners than most people I know.  First, he would sit with his legs crossed, paw over paw, like a true gentleman.  Second, when he was finished playing with his toys, he would put them away, and I didn’t have to tell him to do so.  Years and Goyoyears of asking, begging and cajoling and my children never learned to put their things away until they moved out and had to live with other people.  Maybe that was my fault, as I eventually ended picking up after them.  Goyo, like Sophie, was satisfied eating ice cubes and carrots for snacks.  None of our canine kids got table food as a general rule.  Goyo did, however, become my spaghetti tester.  He never told me if the pasta was ready.  He just kept asking for another and another and another strand of whatever pasta was being served.  Goyo was not only my food critic, my exercise partner and my therapist, he was my best friend. Goyo and I made a pact.  He was in pain from arthritis and was losing his hearing and eye sight.  He promised to let me know when it was time to go, and I promised not to make him stay one minute longer.

Only two weeks after we had to put Goyo down, I was already at the Humane Society where I met Alexander for the first time.  Again, my husband wanted a break, but I was devastated over losing my Goyo.  I wrote about him, I sang about him, I drew pictures of him and I talked about him constantly.   When I met Alex, I was told that he had been at the Humane Society for almost Alex hiding heada year and a half.  That broke my heart, and for the next two months, unbeknownst to my husband, I was visiting this boy.  I was bonding with him, and trying to figure out a way to bring him home.  We had agreed to wait until Labor Day, when we could spend a long weekend getting him used to our home.

I couldn’t wait.  I made arrangements with our vet, and with our dog-sitter, because we already had plans for a long weekend away.  When that was accomplished, I brought Alexander home.  This boy really needed (needs) a lot of love and patience.  He had a tragic beginning.  He was so skittish that even after several months, he still hides his head when he sleeps.

Alexander is no dummy, however, and has figured out who does what and when in our house. Alex protecting bowl He knows where the treats are, who gives the best scratch behind the ear and when to hang out in the kitchen (I’ve gotten softer in my old age, so Alex gets bits of chicken when I make soup).   Alex was extremely particular about what he ate in the beginning, and got very attached to his bowl.  In fact, he takes it wherever he goes.  He just picks it up with his teeth (and it doesn’t matter if it’s full or empty) and carries it to a place in which he feels more comfortable.

Alex with stolen blanketWhile doing some cleaning and downsizing, we left a pile of linens, pillows and blankets in the hall that we were going to donate, however Alex, in no uncertain terms, has told us that HE would like one of the blankets.  He dragged it out of the pile and just plain took it.  He pulled out one of the pillows, and used it like a toy (needless to say that one ended in the garbage).  Ultimately, he decided that the energy expended wasn’t worth it and made the whole pile into a bed for himself.

Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the presence of my grand-doggy, Harvey at the tableHarvey Richard Fisher.  He was given the middle name by my daughter, although it is my son and daughter-Harvey on blanketin-law who adopted Harvey.  Harvey, wherever he goes, walks around like he owns the joint, and although I love him very much, he doesn’t give me any attention.  He is, in no uncertain terms, his father’s son.  I hope that if and when my children have children, they do a better job with table manners than they have with Harvey.  That’s all I’m saying.

I imagine these stories, if told about my human children, wouldn’t be as amusing as some of the others I’ve written.   I love my children first, but it is my four-legged children who will forever leave reminders that they have been there.  We are still finding Blacky hair, and she’s been in doggy heaven almost 15 years.   (What does that say about my housekeeping?)  It says that they all made themselves right at home.

 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in General

 

Lobster in the Sky

http://wp.me/p1SKGh-58

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in General

 

My Empty Nest…

(a rewrite of One Door Closes…)

The bedroom doors on the south side of the house used to be open.  All the time. That’s the only way I could hear if they were crying, or awake and playing.  When they were in grade school, I could jump on their beds to wake them up, or plop on the floor to help with a project.

When they hit their teens, the doors closed. They wanted privacy. They didn’t want me or their Dad to interrupt them with their friends. They wanted to blast their music without being asked to turn it down. They were probably doing other things that I didn’t want to know about.

The doors remain closed now, except on the rare occasion when the dog pushes them open to find a comfortable, quiet place to sleep. And it’s quiet. There is no longer any music blasting. The sound of teenaged girls giggling is gone. The thumping and thudding of an occasional wrestling or weightlifting episode has died down.  The silence is clamorous.

When they first left, I kept the doors open. Often, I would walk in and inhale deeply, trying desperately to get a sense of their presence in a lingering aftershave or scented candle. I would walk by my son’s room almost expecting to see him sitting at the computer with his guitar on his lap, laboring over tabs for the latest song he was learning. But he wasn’t there.

Two steps further and I would be in front of my daughter’s bedroom door, forever adorned with pictures, quotes and flowers. That door now reminds me of just one more household project that my new best friend, my husband, and I can complete together. We have to remove the old, sticky tape, sand and paint it.  It’s barren.

Keeping the doors closed now is my way of separating myself from that chapter in my life when the machinery of parenting required so many more adjustments and tune-ups. Today, a little oil on the hinges and they swing open and closed for a quick visit, once in a while, and I go back to opening new doors on the north side of the house.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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A Fond Farewell

I’m not very good with death.  In fact, I’m not good at all with it.  I can’t cope with the thought of my own mortality, and therefore am extremely tuned in to every little change in my body.  Some people call that hypochondria.  Others call it neurosis.  A friend of mine recently referred to it as Judyism… not to be confused with the religion, although I am Jewish.

I received the news this morning that a very dear friend of mine, and of my mother’s passed away.  Howie was 87, and some would say he lived a long and fruitful life.  So what?  It still hurts those whom he left behind.  I’m still devastated by the loss of a man who came to be thought of as my second father.  (By not only me, but by Howie himself, and by his daughter, who refers to me as her sister from another mister).

So, I hurt.  I grieve.  And that’s okay.  That’s how I feel, and I always tell people that feelings are the one thing that are entirely your own, and nobody has the right to tell you how to feel.

A long time ago, I came across the poem below on a greeting card, although I cannot recall the author, or even if there was one to whom it was attributed.  I share it often; not only when people have lost a friend through death, but when they are hurting because they have been wronged by someone who they thought was their friend.

Ships that Pass in the Night

There are those who pass like ships in the night,
Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight.
With never a backwards glance of regret;
Folks we know briefly then quickly forget.

Then there are those friends who sail together,
Through quiet waters and stormy weather.
Helping each other through joy and through strife;
And they are the kind that give meaning to life.

Howie came into my life at an extremely critical time, and therefore, gave that “real meaning” to my life, of which the poem speaks.  It was shortly after my own father passed, I had only been working at a nursing home for a little over a year, and I was struggling with a very personal issue.  When he came to volunteer there, he pretty much fixed EVERYTHING, simply by being my friend.  I was lost, and he found me.

His compassion, his sense of humor and his lust for life somehow overshadowed it all.  His overwhelming and undying support of my endeavors, both personal and professional, helped me unfold into the person I was supposed to be.  He made me laugh when I needed to, and he listened, sometimes for hours, when I needed an ear.

He was, in essence, filling the role my father had played, without even knowing it. When I was little, my father would hold me up with me sitting on his shoulders at a parade, so I could see. Into my late fifties, it was Howie who held me up so I could see.

So today, I bid you a fond farewell, Howie.  May you bring to heaven as much joy as you created here on earth.  Rest in Peace.

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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