Monthly Archives: July 2010

Facing A Probable Loss

I thought after recovering from my surgery I would regain interest in blogging again. Such does not seem to be the case. I guess such a low energy level has a lot to do with it.. There’s not enough energy to power my brain to get it going. My PCP has referred me to a hemotologist for my anemia.

I received some devastating news yesterday afternoon. I have had a friend since fourth grade who two years ago was diagnosed with colon cancer. She’s been undergoing chemo since then following very extensive abdominal surgery and seemed to be winning the battle…far longer than many other colon cancer survivors.

Since we live almost a half continent away going north south, we’ve only touched base with each other a few times a year, but I always know she is there. I tried calling her about six weeks ago and she didn’t return my call. I got caught up in my own medical problems and didn’t pursue trying to contact her again. I’ve been thinking about her for the past couple of weeks and couldn’t shake the desire to talk with her so I called her again yesterday. Again she didn’t answer her cell phone or land line. I left messages on both.

She returned my call yesterday afternoon. We talked in general for a while and then she told me about the inoperable abdominal tumor that was located behind her bladder. Her body isn’t strong enough to withstand another major surgery. The news hit me like a run away train. It was a struggle to keep the tears out of my voice. As usual, she was the one who did most of the talking. I seem to have a gift of having people in my life who carry on mostly monologues when we talk together. That was fortunate yesterday, however, because I didn’t want her to hear the tears in my voice.

She said she was going to give up and let nature take its course, but her family convinced her to try a trial medication that she was offered. She said she gave in and will participate in the trial but if the side effects are too horrendous, she will stop.

She runs the show. She has always run the show. I think that is one of the reasons I have tried to be her friend for more than half a century. She speaks her mind and doesn’t put up with any s^&t from anybody. She champions those who can not or will not speak up for themselves or are in need of help. I have never been able to do that myself. She has been there for me far more times than anyone else in my life. She has always been there as a friend for innumerable people.When I asked her if anyone was helping her, she listed about seven friends besides her family who are checking in on her and keeping track of  her on an almost daily basis.

When I had my heart valve replaced six years ago, we talked a week or so before the surgery. She didn’t skip a beat. She said she would come down and stay with me for a week after I got out. I don’t have the friend and relative support that she so richly has. She used her vacation time without a second thought. She didn’t even wait to be asked. She just assumed I needed her.

When my first fiance broke our engagement less than three months before the wedding, she was living in DC at that time. Since I finished college nine weeks early and didn’t start my first teaching job for five months, she immediately invited me to come out to DC to live with her. Her apartment was within driving distance of Quantico. That enabled me to spend a couple more months on the weekends with my Marine love before he shipped out to Viet Nam in June. He originally told me in my “Dear Jane” letter he sent me that he didn’t want to take the chance of leaving me a war widow at such a young age. Those extra weekends were a gift my friend gave to me that I could never repay.

Our friendship has been off and on all this time as we went our separate ways. I married and moved to Texas. She married less than two years later and lived in Chicago. She was going to be a bridesmaid for my first wedding but by the time both of us married we had drifted apart. Neither of us asked each other to be in the wedding party. I invited her to my wedding. She came but felt miserable. She came through the reception line and told me she had to go back home. She had a horrible cold. There was no time to talk with her. I went to her wedding but my son was only a month old at the time. I had to leave between the wedding and the dinner to feed him. My ex and I went to the dinner but didn’t stay long.

Then we moved to Texas. I lost track of her for years. Out of the blue she sent me a Christmas card one year and from the way she signed it, I knew she was divorced. I called her and we started communicating again.

That’s the way it’s been all our lives. She’s up north, I’m down here. We ended our conversation this time talking about the African safari we promised we’d go on together next year. “Gotta go see the elephants” were the last words of our hour-long talk. She has loved elephants our whole lives. Please pray that the medicine trial gives us enough time to make that trip. It’s just another year. I am hoping that the grieving I’m experiencing now is premature. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Filed under Casual conversation, childhood, friendship, general topics, health, life, relationships

Out and About

It’s has been a very long day. I decided it was time to get back to volunteering. Fortunately one of the other volunteers picked up as many new mothers as she could yesterday. When I had crossed everyone off the list, I was left with only six mothers to talk with about the immunization program. When I got back to the volunteer office I unpacked two crates of the information packets we hand out and called it quits. I was only at the hospital for 1 1/2 hours total. I now have a lackluster 130 hours credit since February. This past month of not working went by quickly.

My son is having difficulty finding gluten-free bread near our home. The closet store we have found is about ten miles away. Since the hospital is only a few blocks from the expressway, and the Central Market is only a few blocks from the expressway 10 miles away, I decided to surprise him with enough rice bread to last until he leaves in a week. If there is any left over, I know I won’t let it go to waste.

He let me make an appointment for him with my dentist. I’m always worried about his getting oral cancer since he insists on chewing. I just can’t let go of meddling in his life. The dentist told him he would need a crown over a tooth he had fixed while he was in Switzerland and would also need to have a couple of fillings replaced, but nothing that needs to be done immediately. His check up included a teeth cleaning job. He hasn’t been able to do that in a while.

While he was at the dentist, I watched Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. I should not try to watch movies in my recliner, especially when I wake up at 3 AM. I will admit I was unimpressed enough to miss part of the movie. Since I knew that group of Army officers were unable to carry out their plan to assassinate Hitler, I didn’t feel too bad about missing about 15 minutes of the plot. It certainly wasn’t very exciting.

When my son came home we headed to the movie theater to see Despicable Me. When someone treats me to a show, I hate to admit I didn’t particularly care for it, but we were pretty much in agreement that we would probably not take the time to watch it again. There’s something about messing with my vision with 3D glasses that gives me a headache. I spent half the movie rubbing my arms because of the cold air. Maybe that’s why I didn’t appreciate it more. What I thought was going to be a charming funny movie was at best mildly amusing.

As we were driving to the store, we decided that the accent that Steve Carell used was totally unnecessary. Why he had to speak in some type of vaguely eastern European accent was a puzzle. He’s supposed to be some kind of supervillian. Do the directors and producers think that Americans are not in that category? It was ironic that on the drive to the hospital this morning the radio commentator was interviewing someone who discussed how hated Americans have become world-wide over the past ten+ years. We have enough supervillians in our own back yards. We don’t have to prejudice little kids into thinking that supervillians are all foreigners.

The little girl next to me in the movie was eating nachos that smelled really good. I suggested stopping at Taco Bell for nachos for supper. My son had a better idea. We stopped at Krogers for the fixings to make our own super nachos. It is totally off my diet list as far as cholesterol goes but I think it’s worth it. He is cooking the meat and melting the cheese as I write this. Sometimes, you’ve just got to relax and home the cholesterol lowering medicine will work extra  hard once in a while.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Filed under Casual conversation, general topics, life, movies, Uncategorized

For those to whom American holidays are not happy

Not ours but could have been

I started writing this blog July 4th. I had to edit the first sentence. My cousin said she was hoping I was finished “floating nowhere”, my last blog. Hopefully, I can get back on track again soon.

Nine days ago our little community held its annual 4th of July parade. I don’t have any idea how long the tradition has been going on, but it’s been happening as long as I have lived here, almost thirty-three years.

It’s a time when my neighbors bring lawn chairs to sit along the parade route. Since I live on the corner, the parade comes north past my house and turns the corner so it passes right in front of my house. This year three other neighbors joined me along with a friend whose father participates every year with the other citizens who are on patrol. She waves to him as he passes. Their relationship has been rocky for years but she still tries to connect once in a while.

Other neighbors stood on my lawn facing  the other street. I didn’t recognize them. Perhaps I should have been more friendly and walked over to introduce myself but my yard is big and they seemed too far away. At that point I was only two weeks out of surgery and every step seemed to take the energy of twenty. My dog Ri-Leigh very calmly and patiently sat by the side of my chair as I remained seated.

The fire engines went by, the Marines with the flag, the boy scouts, the mayor in a convertible,  and a variety of decorated cars. There were a multitude of children and even two dogs. Traditionally, wrapped candy is thrown to the spectators. A large portion of the neighborhood Baptist church joined the parade this year passing out tracts and coins engraved with the ten commandments. I missed the sheriff’s mounted patrol this year.

I looked across the street and there was Maxine and her husband. He is now walking more and more often with a cane which is quite understandable since he is getting nearer to 90 every year.

I crossed the street to talk with them after the parade passed by, but by the time I arrived, he was already heading indoors again. A man who used to live next to Maxine came home after 40 years to watch the parade. He was there before I was. He and Maxine reminisced  about the early days in the 50s when he played with her sons.

After the old neighbor  left, Maxine turned to me. “Hugh (her husband) left kind of fast,” I said. She replied, ” It gets harder for him every year. He’s probably inside with a glass of wine.” I asked her what she meant.

It turns out that the Fourth, Memorial Day, and Veterans’ Day are all days that send Hugh back in time to memories of friends lost during WW II. He was a navigator in the Army Air Corps during that time. He starts to think about the men who would go out on missions and not come back.

Maxine said that during that time of war nothing was ever said to any of the men in camp about the missing men. They were there one day and never mentioned again the next. “The men just sucked it up and kept on going.” As a result, all these years since the end of the war, Hugh has been sucking it up and never really openly grieved about the loss of any of his friends.

He led a successful life, retired from a successful job, and raised two very successful sons who married and are raising their own children who have no inkling what it is like to lose someone and never again mention their names.

Every patriotic holiday for Hugh now brings back these memories. He can’t help it. They come unbidden. As hard as he tries, he cannot enjoy the days set aside to commemorate his war buddies. He still stands and salutes when the flag passes by but he is not alone. His friends are with him every year and the friendship bonds they share call to him more every year.

Hugh spends time with his wine and the friends gradually go away. These are friends who flew away with the bombers at the beginning of a raid and never returned. There were no bodies to bury. But that didn’t mean they disappeared. You cannot dismiss someone with whom you were very close that easily. Not talking about them does not mean you can or even should try to force them from your memories as soldiers were often asked to do.

I have no idea if the practice of just moving on is still prevalent in today’s wars. I hope not. In Hugh’s case, probably just hearing the name of his friends and being allowed a moment of silent meditation might have gone a long way in healing the wounds that occurred during his time of war. It would have at the least, acknowledged that these men once walked the earth and meant something to somebody. That might have helped.

Maxine says that Hugh enjoys the parade. He hasn’t missed any for many years. But, year after year, his friends come to watch it with him and for awhile he slips away quietly after the parade to spend some time with his buddies.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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