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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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Women Know Women

Women know women.  Most women would probably agree with that statement, for a lot of reasons.  On this particular day, however, I feel compelled to write about it.

My friend Beth, whom I met nearly twenty years ago, was one of those people who could see right through you, and read you instantly.  We met on my first day of work at a facility where she had already been employed for over ten years.  I was there to fill out paperwork only, but she invited me to a luncheon for which she had an extra ticket.  During those three hours together, we learned that we had much in common.  We were avid sports fans, liberal democrats, University of Florida College of Journalism Graduates and “foodies.”   She and I even lived only five houses away in the same neighborhood, albeit at different times in our lives.

We also learned our differences.  I love theater and music; she wasn’t a big fan.  She adored discussing politics, and because of the great divide in my household, I did not.  She collected Beanie Babies to distraction (or at least I thought so, until she gave me one named “Hope” when my Dad was dying); I collected camels and recipes.

After working with Beth for a very short time, she knew me better than I knew myself.  In fact, she asked me a question, after working with me only five weeks, which floored me.  She said, “Was your father very hard on you?”  Yes, indeed, he was.  I still don’t know fully how she knew that, even after years of pondering.   I can only surmise that it was because of the one great difference between Beth and me.

Beth Amy was a strong, confident, out-going and outspoken woman.  She lived her life on her terms.  In fact, when she first took ill, she told me that no matter what the outcome, she had no regrets.

I, on the other hand, until most recently, was far from confident and out-spoken.  I had a severe problem with self-confidence and self-esteem.  Beth probably figured out my personality flaws were a result of a flawed father-daughter relationship.  I know that now, and understand my father’s path and accept that people do the best can with what they’ve got.  Both Beth and my father would be happy to see the woman into whom I’ve unfolded.

Besides teaching me almost everything I know about Special Events, Beth taught me how to be flexible, to “punt,” as she put it, to stand up for myself, and to not be so hard on myself.  She taught me how to laugh at myself.  She also taught how to live with myself.

Beth passed away this morning, after a valiant clash with cancer.  Beth knew me.  I believe she loved me.  I loved her.

Because women know women.

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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Mindsight vs. Hindsight – Dear Beth, Thank you.

It took me a long time to learn that whatever decisions we make in life, are ones that we, alone, must live with.  There may be lessons learned from those decisions.  Whether large or small, physical, financial or emotional, there are often ramifications or consequences.

I had to make one of those decisions yesterday.  In short, I had to decide whether or not to visit an old friend in the hospital or not.  I should clarify it to say that she was not just in the hospital, but in a nursing home, in Hospice care.  She’s dying.  In fact, she was, at the time I saw her yesterday, fairly close to the end.

My decision to visit her wasn’t an easy one.  Seventeen years ago, I watched my father die a slow, agonizing death over the span of three and a half months.  I visited him nearly every day on my lunch hour, through the compassion of my employer at the time, and by so doing, I watched him die just a little bit every day.  The result of this experience left extremely stunning visual images in my head… images that took me years to replace with the sweet memories I have of him today.

I fought with myself as to whether I wanted to do the right thing, say my final goodbyes and offer love and support to her beautiful family.  If I chose to do that, the last memory I would create in my mind would be that one of her as she is today.  If I chose not to go, and do the wrong thing, it would have been selfish, leaving me with vibrant, full-of-life memories of my dear friend. It would have also left me with a raging case of guilt and remorse.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty.  I don’t want to ever have to look back again, and feel as though I didn’t give all of myself to the people who mean the most to me.  I want my “mindsight” to be remorse-free and guilt-free.  With all that being said, I did visit my friend.  I don’t even know if she knew I was there.

I know I was there.

I love you, Beth.  I always will.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in General, Uncategorized

 

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Count Your Blessings!

I watched “White Christmas” last night. I love “White Christmas.” That’s a strange statement for me to make, because firstly, I don’t even celebrate the holiday. Secondly, I live in South Florida so that fact, coupled with the threat of global warming, makes the likelihood of me seeing snow tomorrow highly doubtful.

I watch that movie every year simply because I love the music… one song in particular: Count Your Blessings. In my “older” age, I’ve learned to be grateful for what I already have, and look at them as blessings rather than burdens. A car that won’t start because of a dead battery is still a car. A long line at the grocery store checkout is not a problem when you have a full basket and the money to pay for it. Sitting in a traffic jam rather than being involved in the accident that is holding everyone up… that is a blessing. It’s also an opportunity to be grateful.

So, with all due respect to the sheep, I do, indeed fall asleep (if I’m lucky enough to do so before my husband starts snoring) counting my many blessings. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season to all.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in General, Phase 2

 

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Life Goes By in the Blink of an Eye

In one week’s time, I was able to relive a lot of the life I’ve led that brought me to this point.  No, I’m not a time traveler, but I certainly felt like one.

From 1965 through 1976, I had the great fortune to spend my summers at sleepaway camp in the Berkshire Mountains.  The camp, opened in 1950, was celebrating its 65th anniversary, and the current owner was celebrating 25 years of owning and running the camp, and as a result, invited all counselors and campers back for a weekend reunion.

I was a child again.  I was able to forget about the everyday stresses of my life as an adult in an unforgiving world.  I rolled down hills, I toasted marshmallows around a campfire, I sang camp songs and I renewed friendships with people I hadn’t seen in 40 or   45  years.  (Stop counting on your fingers if you’re trying to figure out how old I am).  WP_20150606_13_53_11_Pro[1]I even stretched my limits, forgot my fears and challenged my body physically by going zip-lining.  I competed in color war, pulled pranks on my bunkmates and relived the end of the summer banquet traditions.  And then it was over.  The reunion seemed to have passed as fast as my life is passing, in the blink of an eye.

Then it was on to Boston, where I met up with my husband, the American history nut.  His intention was to see everything he possibly could that related to the birth of our country.  WP_20150608_13_49_31_Pro[1]We traveled the route of the Freedom Trail, two and half miles, stopping at every attraction, and did so in one day.  Living in Florida, I’m not used to hills… including Bunker Hill.  It took us nine hours, with 30 minutes for lunch and a half a dozen water bottles each.  Paul Revere had nothing on me!

A cool, indoor activity, like visiting the New England Aquarium, was a welcomed relief.  In fact, it was a huge surprise.  No, we didn’t fall in the shark tank.  We did, however, receive a private tour of the “behind the scenes” of the Aquarium.  We learned some most fascinating facts, most importantly was one, not to raise dragonfish unless you are financially independent, and two, always be nice.  Karma works.  As my cousin’s late daughter, Carly Ferro would say, “Be kinder than necessary.”  That, I believe is why we were picked for the tour.

In Boston, I got my lahbstah, my chowdah and a big fat piece of Boston cream pie.  I was still the happy camper I was when I started this week.

We hopped a plane to D.C., where we grabbed a car and drove to Baltimore to “relive” our parenting days, by visiting our daughter.  Somehow, with time, the roles have reversed.  Our daughter was the consummate hostess, treating us to meals, filling the refrigerator in our hotel room, and sharing her life with us.  We visited Annapolis for the history and the Naval Academy for the cute guys in uniform.  Our daughter provided lunch, again.  The next day, we visited Botanical gardens and a Conservatory,WP_20150612_11_25_59_Pro[1] got lost coming back, and shared a delightful Shabbat dinner.

True to our calling, (like John Muir), we headed for the mountains of Shenandoah National Park on Saturday.  We explored caverns and went horseback riding.  We even had to call my husband’s old boy scout skills to find our way back, because GPS doesn’t work in the mountains.  Back in Baltimore, I got my long-anticipated crab cakes.

On our last day, we went into the city to visit the Maryland Jewish Museum.  The oldest standing Jewish Temple in the country, some great exhibits and then one last visit with our daughter at her home.WP_20150614_16_56_26_Pro[1]

And as fast as that, my vacation was over.  Well, not yet.  After driving back down to D.C., and dropping of the car with 4 minutes to spare, we, through no fault of our own, got to extend our trip for two more hours due to a flight delay.

It was a whirlwind week, which started with a visit to my happiest place.  Then, a lot of history, a lot of hugs and a tearful goodbye.  Both to my daughter and to that relaxed feeling.  I had to return to the everyday stresses of my life as an adult in an unforgiving world.  I’m trying to enjoy every minute these days, because before I know it… in the blink of an eye…

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2015 in General, Phase 2

 

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I Want a Do-Over!

Always had an excuse as to why I didn’t perform better on a test.  There was always a reason I forgot my lines in a play, or finished third in the race.  It must have been old baking powder that caused the cake to come out flat.  I struck out three times in softball because I had something in my eye.  Messed up my letter to the President on the school stationery because there was something wrong with the pen.

Didn’t take that job because I didn’t think it was a good idea to relocate for a three month contract.   Didn’t send my dinner back with the waiter when it was served cold because I didn’t want anyone else to have to wait.   Stayed in that other job too long because I couldn’t find anything else. Let my mother-in-law give the kids brownies right before dinner because she hardly ever got to see them.  Stopped after two kids because that’s what my husband wanted, and I didn’t want to rock the boat.

My mother always told me “little children, little problems, big children….”  You figure out the rest.  Well, right now, I consider myself one big kid, with one big problem.  I have a lot less time ahead of me than I have behind me, and besides my 32 year marriage and two (actually, now three) wonderful kids, I really screwed up, and am just now figuring out that its all my own doing.  All those excuses.  All that wasted time.

I can’t help but call to mind Erma Bombeck’s poem, “If I Had My Life to Live Over Again.”  I want a do-over.  I want the chance to follow my dreams, to stand up for myself, to make my own choices based on how I feel.  I want to put myself first once in a while, stop playing the martyr and the victim.  “I want to run barefoot in the grass earlier in the spring.”

My mother also told me I don’t have to be the “richest one in the cemetery.”   I don’t think I can retire yet, but I certainly can simplify what I’m doing to allow myself to “do-over” some of these things.  (That probably doesn’t include having another baby).

Put me in Coach… I want a do-over.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Phase 2

 

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