Tag Archives: friendship

So Long, Maxine

Maxine1                                     Saying good bye to Maxine is one of the hardest things I am having to do. For those of you who followed me in the beginning, Maxine lived across the street from me. Of course that is not her real name, but she acts so much and looks so much like the Maxine cartoon that I started calling her that.

She and her husband moved to a retirement community in early January. It is only about eleven miles down the road, but it may as well have been 100. I was feeling my worst and not doing much other than keeping doctors’ appointments and shopping for groceries. Driving that far if not medically necessary was too much of an effort.

Maxine is in her early 80s. Her husband is 93. He has been having health difficulties with his blood for many years. It affects his energy and his cognitive abilities. For a while he was doing quite well, but for the past couple of months he is once again going down hill. Maxine dotes on him like a mother hen. Such dedication among married couples is not exactly common.

They invited me to lunch about a week ago. It will probably be the last time I see them. They are now living in a lovely retirement community. Their’s is a two bedroom apartment on the first floor. I’m not sure what the age range is, but the diners all looked approximately the same age. I had looked into such communities within the last year, but I think I’ll wait about at least ten more years before I make that move.

Alice has intentionally lost about twenty pounds and is looking quite healthy. She seems more filled with energy now that she is not taking care of her big house. Of course with the energy she has, she has met and knows the name of almost everyone in the building. She introduced me to about twenty diners as her neighbor while I was there.

After lunch we went back to their apartment. Her husband was very tired so he excused himself to take a nap. She and I talked about ten minutes more before I headed down the road again. I never have felt at ease to talk in person. It is much easier for me to write.

I love Maxine and will miss her greatly. I never learned that to tell Maxine was to tell the entire neighborhood. She would just mention my affairs to a couple of her friends but she just knew they wouldn’t tell a soul!

I don’t remember being especially that much taller than she, but when I hugged her good bye, her head came to my breast. I have no idea when she started shrinking. She certainly hasn’t stopped talking.

I will always think God put me in this neighborhood for a reason. My son was six when my ex left. Next door we had Grandma Annie and Grandpa John. John died when my son was in the first grade. Grandma Annie passed away when he was in middle school. The couple across the street from them and their daughter all died in the following years. Maxine was always there whenever I needed some help. She’d cook too much and bring over supper pretty frequently. Now Maxine and her husband have moved. I once stayed in this house because I didn’t want to leave the village that was helping to raise my son. Now my son has no desire to return and the village people who meant everything to me has gone.

I wish a Maxine on everyone at some point in their lives. She says she wants to get an IPad but that hasn’t happened yet. She refuses to touch her husband’s computer. I will probably not handwrite letters and she will probably not handwrite answers even if I do. I’m hoping the IPad, if she gets it, will keep us in contact. She always asked me questions that were very personal, she gave me advice I didn’t want, she was able to get more information out of my son than I ever was. She was special. She is the sister I wish I had rather than the one I got. She gave me a gift that few have given to me. She cared. Namaste. Attic Annie

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The Day After Christmas

Christmas Love

My bed was warm and cozy this morning. I managed to sleep until almost 8 a.m. I have made an executive decision that most of the day will be spent in my flannel pajamas and thick fluffy robe, tube socks, and slippers that are faux fleece lined. They look ridiculous because several years ago I covered them with green felt when I went to a Red Hat sleep over. I wore a huge sleep shirt with a picture of a gigantic frog perched on a lily pad. The slippers were converted to frog feet. There were toes at one time but I had made them too long. I kept stepping on them and almost falling so they now have a toe-ectomy. Since no one will see them, I continue to wear them because they are the most comfortable and warmest in my closet.

I’m staying in this attire because it is the warmest and coziest outfit I can think of. I have given up trying to stay warm in my house when the thermostat is set on 68. As the years go by, I have made staying warm more of a priority. It is now set on 70 and the furnace is running almost constantly since it is in single digits outside. My home is as insulated as I can make it, but there is still a slight chill. I give thanks for warmth on cold winter days.

Every once in a while I am given the gift of realizing that I feel really well…not just physically but also spiritually. Today is one of those days. Even though Christmases are a little hard for me, I found comfort in this one.

A birthday buddy I found about seven years ago has included me as part of her family. She has reunited with her estranged father and so she hosts a dinner for him and his wife. After so many years there seems to be a bond forming between them again. I kind of envy that since there was never enough time for me to experience that with my own father.

After the dinner the two of us went to the candlelight service at church. It is the same every year, but this year I felt a solace that I don’t usually sense. Ill feelings about Christmas go all the way back to childhood. It was a little sad when she confided to me on the way home that she is thinking of changing churches. There has been much conflict the last couple of years in our congregation and we split almost in half. She stayed as I did but she is thinking of moving on.

Yesterday I was invited to the gathering at another friend’s home across the street. She cooks a huge pot of tortilla soup, tamales, beans, and makes wonderful chip dip. They buy a honey baked ham which gives me my pork fix for the year. Her family and friends arrive whenever. I walked across the street around one and had a nice visit while all was calm. It was very nice visiting with her and watching huge snow flakes fall outside. As the day went on, her two daughters and their families appeared, and a short while later two more relatives and their families arrived. The house was getting crowded so I decided to come home, full of her delicious food.

Her home is a little more drafty than mine so I had wisely chosen to put on another layer of underwear. By the time all those people had gathered, I was getting a little toasty. My introversion kicked in and I realized it was time to move on. I weary after four hours with any group.

Before I went to bed, another friend called to share her success about hosting her family for Christmas. She has so many best friends I can’t count them all, but she has chosen to add me to her “club”. It is one of those rare honors one is given in life to find a friend like her.

Back in 1968 I was dating a young Marine. He surprised me at Christmas and came home on leave. It was during that time we got engaged. Since he was in officer’s school and knew he would be heading to Viet Nam, I had no idea what to give him as a present. I decided to borrow a negligee gown and wrap from my aunt, (which had remained unworn in her drawer for several years), wrap a ribbon sash around me and sit under the tree with a gift of a big smile. It was a wonderful Christmas. I believed I had been given the gift of love. Things didn’t work out with him, but if I concentrate, I can connect with the good feelings of those few days.

I woke up this morning realizing I had been dreaming about him. I realized that the dream was probably because of “King of the Hill”. John reminds me very much of Hank Hill.  If I wake during the early morning around 4, that show is usually on. I guess I was hearing it in my sleep and started thinking of my love. After all these years I accepted the fact after fighting it for almost fifty years that for a number of reasons there will always be a part of me that loves him, but I realized today that I am setting myself free. Maybe the memories will now fade and I will recognize that that relationship also had its toxic moments that I have too long suppressed and all worked out for the greater good.

Whatever the cause of my feelings of joy today, I am grateful and will relish every minute. It is a new feeling to associate with Christmas and I will hold onto it as long as possible. I hope your days were as blessed as mine. Namaste. Attic Annie

holly

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Shakespeare Didn’t Corner the Market on Tragedy

photo from Star Telegram

Shakespeare did not corner the market on tragedy.

The play that has been unfolding in the past month here in Fort Worth is worthy of a Shakespearian nod along with the best of his works.

Last month there was a two vehicle accident in the middle of the afternoon. The driver of a pickup veered into the path of an Escalade EXT. The teen age driver and one of his passengers was killed. Another passenger was seriously injured. The driver was drunk. He had left school at lunch time to purchase a 32 oz. bottle of malt liquor. He was seventeen. The dead girl and the injured one were both fifteen. I’m sure they were probably excited to be with “an older man” who was showing off his skills of being able to drink and drive at the same time. That was a fatal flaw in their thinking.

As if that were not enough of a tragedy, the event took another life yesterday. The teenager had a friend who tried to stop him from driving. The newspaper article does not go into more details of how the friend tried to stop the driver. In any event, the friend failed in his efforts and instead decided to follow the truck to make sure his friend and passengers arrived home safely. He witnessed the fatal accident and tried to help, but it was too late. The girl died at the scene. The driver died the next day.

The friend was left behind with a terrible sense of guilt  . He blamed himself for the death of his friend. He had failed to prevent the accident. His self-reproach was unimaginable.

The teen age years with their normal angst are hard enough to navigate. Adding to that the death of a friend, for which rightly or wrongly one takes on full responsibilty, is a load that few people can handle.

The friend succumbed to the pressure.

He died a few days ago from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to his head, leaving his mother and a younger brother to find him.

He also left behind another who claims he was the young man’s “best friend”.

The clerk who sold the boy the malt liquor was arrested in a sting. The mother is left with her grief. There was no gun in the house. She will always wonder how he was able to obtain it.

The boy had returned some borrowed clothing from his “best friend” and talked about what good friends they were…like brothers. The friend is now probably wondering why he didn’t pick up the signals that the boy was saying good bye.

The teen age years are difficult enough to get through without the addition of guns and alcohol. The DARE program presented by the police just isn’t enough. They try to teach the kids tools to help them through the gauntlet until adulthood is reached. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not.

Do I have the answers? Certainly not. I have felt blessed every day that my son made it through those years of drinking and driving in spite of me more than because of me.

Tragedies happen. If someone knows the answers to how to keep drivers from drinking, teen agers from obtaining guns, and friends from committing suicide because of the guilt, I hope s/he comes forward. We have been involved with these problems too long.

I’m certain Shakespeare with his command of language could even come up with a quote that would wake us up to the fact that what we are doing is not good enough. Enough is enough!

My knowledge of Shakespeare in extremely limited. The quote that kept running through my mind as I read the paper was this:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to…

It is sad that the friend who tried to help decided “not to be” and all too sadly, “there’s the rub”.

Namaste  Attic Annie

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We Have Only Today

I was watching TV last week and came across an episode of 8 Simple Rules. I never watched it when it was on the first time. I soon realized what was happening. The wife played by Katey Sagal was deciding she couldn’t sleep in her bed because it was the first night after the funeral of her husband, played by John Ritter. Since that was the only episode I have seen, I realized the series was using the death of Ritter as part of the script. I remember how quickly he had died. On the series, they took the attitude that life goes on.

Last week a member of the choir sang two solos during church. He has been through some very rough spots in his life but as he sang, it was obvious that he was in a very good place. Things were coming together for him. One of the songs he sang was Carolyn Arends song “New Year’s Day.”

I buy a lot of diaries 
Fill them full of good intentions 
Each and every New Year’s Eve 
I make myself a list 
All the things I’m gonna change 
Until January 2nd 
So this time I’m making one promise 

CHORUS: 
This will be my resolution 
Every day is New Year’s Day 
This will be my resolution 
Every day is New Year’s Day 

I believe it’s possible 
I believe in new beginnings 
‘Cause I believe in Christmas Day 
And Easter morning too 
And I’m convinced it’s doable 
‘Cause I believe in second chances 
Just the way that I believe in you 

This will be my resolution 
Every day is New Year’s Day 
This could start a revolution 
Every day is… 

One more chance to start all over 
One more chance to change and grow 
One more chance to grab a hold of grace 
And never let it go 

He’s the type of guy who can really make others feel good. We believed him when he sang of changing and growing and grabbing grace. He made  us all feel good. He made us believe that every day we should resolve that this is our best day. That was Sunday.

Yesterday morning he posted on FB for his friends to pray for his daughter. She had stopped breathing and was rushed to intensive care in Tennessee where he had spent days at Christmas. She was on a ventilator. He updated last night that neurological signs were not good. An hour ago he posted that his daughter was with her mom among the angels in heaven.

The 8 Simple Rules script had the teenage children talking about the last things they said to their father. They were deep in grief for suddenly losing him.

I’m sure my friend is in deep mourning for the loss of his daughter. As far as I know she never regained consciousness. I wonder if he remembers his last conversation with her.

Our lives can be as normal as ever and then suddenly without warning everything can come to a screeching halt. Both the show and my friend’s loss brought that home to me. We are not able to always have that last moment to say good bye.

My father and I were not on the best of terms. He was in the hospital and I should have gone to see him even if it would have been out of a sense of filial duty. However, I really didn’t feel like it. I remember exactly where I was when I decided I would wait until the next day. After all, the doctor had said he was doing OK.

About six hours later we got the call from the hospital that he was dead. I did not take the time to say good bye. I can’t remember my last conversation with him. Those times during my senior year in college were few and far between.

I had that one day. Only one day. To tell my father I really did love him…to ask him if he really did love me. I let that opportunity slide by.

I talk with my son a couple times a month and email him a few more. If you have adult male sons you know this is very normal. He is living his own life. But one thing I have realized that we do more often is end up writing or speaking “I love you.” He often initiates it. He is able to do something I had great difficulty in doing. He is teaching me the importance of letting him know and his letting me know that we love each other. It is then that I realize we have only today. If I die suddenly he will remember that the last time we communicated he ended the conversation with love. Namaste. Attic Annie

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The Reunion of Shirley and Jennie

Whenever I see videos like this one I am so moved by the idea that all creatures are capable of love. How could any scientist or animal behaviorist prove else wise? I’ve seen it in dogs staying with owners who are injured or other dogs, ducks who  remain with mates, cats who adopt baby bunnies…You Tube is filled with such videos. How can we be so blind as human beings not to notice relationships around us because “only humans have spirits”?

Shirley and Jennie were truly fortunate to find each other. It is the story of a friendship that never died. Their undying love for one another is obvious. It is a very moving story.

Shirley’s handler must have had a feeling of pride beyond anything I will probably ever feel when he said, “I don’t know who the first one was to put chains on Shirley but I am the last one to take them off.” What a blessing to know you helped free another sentient  being.

I am jealous that I feel that I have never had a friendship as close as this one. Such friendships are truly rare and a blessing. Perhaps there is still time to be able to feel such joy. I can only hope. Namaste Attic Annie

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It IS a Wonderful Life…if you let yourself know it

One of my all time favorite Christmas movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life”  by Capra. I’ve seen it many times over the years. I was pleased to see that it is being shown in four theaters in the Fort Worth area today. Followers of this movie are increasing. Unfortunately I cannot attend any of them because my Christmas Eve celebration starts at 5:30 with a dinner with a friend and her family and then 7:00 candlelight service.

It is sad to me that NBC has sole rights to the showing of this film and only shows it once at 8:00 p.m. I will be able to make it home in time to see part of it but I’ll miss about the first half hour or so.

I often wonder why I enjoy this movie so much. It was pretty much panned when it was first out so many years ago. I’ve come up with several reasons.

It was released in 1946 the same year I was born. It gives me an insight into how people lived over sixty years ago. Life was so much simpler then but the problems of living day to day have really not changed all that much. Kids still get sick, young people start out married life with little money, parents still get mad at teachers, corrupt people still try to control their towns….etc etc etc ad nauseum. I guess that is because we are human. We can’t seem to get beyond the day to day problems of just living.

I love the idea that guardian angels can intervene in our lives. Based on situations I have found myself in, I have no explanation other than the protection from my guardian angel that I emerged without harm so many times.

Many times throughout the years I have wished I have never been born because I have seen myself as a very insignificant being on this earth. Then I would think about the baby I rescued in the pool, and the very angry young boy in summer school who learned he could understand math if we went back to the point where he did know what to do and proceed from there. He was going into sixth grade ( a year behind) and was in a third grade remedial math class. He had an attitude in the beginning that was downright scary. The last day of the program he came back into the room where I was alone. For a second I was fearful but then he put his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug and thanked me. Then he turned around and left again. I will never forget that hug.

I think about the patients when I volunteered at the hospital who were grateful that the only thing I did was listen to their heart wrenching stories. I think about the parents and former students I come in contact with occasionally who still thank me for the way and what I taught. They tell me now of their successes.

Most of all I think about my son. A son who has no logical reason for being able to be here. I was married to a traveling salesman who was gone from Monday through Thursday nights and often spent Friday and Saturday nights at the bar. I was told for many years that because of my anatomy It would be improbable that I would ever be  able to conceive or carry to full term. Yet there he was. I had no indication he was even with me the first trimester. When he arrived, I was only in hard labor for about four hours. He arrived at 7:00 A.M.on the day he was predicted to be born after four hours of labor. His estimated date of arrival was a sheer guess on the part of the doctors.

That’s kind of off the track but my point is I heard Jim Carry say of his mother that her life was significant, even though she was plagued much of her life with illness, because she had given birth to someone who was significant. That thought has resonated with me. My son is a significant person and the child that is expected in June will be a significant person as well.

I am learning the value of true friendship. I have never had many friends in my life who I “hung out with” to do things socially. I was never a part of a group in any years in my school life like so many girls. I was an outsider. But over the past few years I have developed friendships that I feel I can count on if I ever really needed help. I think they would come through in a time of emergency just like in the movie.

On this Christmas Eve, I am thankful for my life as it is and has been. Life’s lessons have been hard to learn, but I am grateful that in many ways I am learning them. It IS a wonderful life. I wish a wonderful life to you too. Merry Christmas. Namaste Attic Annie

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It’s Christmas! Time for more White Elephants!

I’ve written several Christmas posts. It’s amazing since I don’t have that much to say about it. Things don’t change that much year after  year.

I’m going to my first of three Christmas parties tonight. It’s with the same group of women who hold a potluck dinner at church every month. It’s strange how I can meet with them month after month and still not be what I consider real friends with them. That month after month has been changing lately to maybe three or four times a year.

These are all nice ladies but with the exception of one, there is no communication between any of them and me. We don’t call each other or do any other socializing together. There is an overlap with another lunch bunch of some of the members so I see three or four of them twice a month if I go to both groups.

Tonight we will be having our gift exchange. Everyone brings a gift  she wishes to recycle and puts it under the tree. We then draw numbers which match numbers placed on the present. There are several names for this “game” we play. We may choose a present from under the tree or take a present from someone who has already opened one. The one who goes first gets last turn to take anyone else’s present. I think we call it White Elephant or Chinese gift exchange. Now that my daughter in law is Chinese, I don’t think I will be calling it that anymore.

Anyway, I have finally figured out a system. Even though the gifts are recycled, they are still fairly nice for the most part. It’s just that I don’t seem to see much of a need for them. Thus, I will probably take the gift I get tonight to the next party and then take that gift to the third party. The gift I bring home will probably go into the closet to wait for next year unless it is something I can really use. This type of gift exchange occurs at all three of the parties. For some reason my acquaintances all get (or pretend to get) a big kick out of “stealing” desired gifts from others. I guess if I were more materialistic, I might get more enjoyment out of such frivolity.

Almost all of my holidays are times to be alone. That in itself is a mixed blessing. I tire of small talk quickly and really have to work on not portraying disinterest. It takes me ten minutes or less  to write five hundred words. It takes me a half hour to say them. One of my acquaintances  with whom I am getting somewhat closer admitted the same thing. She is in a worse position than I since she has to market her own “company” of one, her services. She admitted how much she dislikes small talk as well. She won’t be there tonight. I could talk to her. I also have a free pass from having to deal with impossible relatives that everyone seems to have. Family gatherings are often reported with a sense of dread. I had a few of those dreadful experiences myself.

That will be mainly it. Chit chat until everyone arrives and the table is filled with an assortment of foods, praying in, eating, gift exchange, and praying out again. We are nothing if not predictable.

My gift is a very heavy coffee table book of pictures of Japan. A friend of mine gifted it to me during that time when my son’s romance was with a young woman from Tokyo. It really does have some lovely pictures in it, but seeing as how my son is now married to a Chinese woman, I am trying to divest myself of all things Japanese. Yoko’s parents were quite generous in the gifts Nathan brought home with me so I certainly have a large supply of possible gift exchanges. I am counting on on my friend to not be there tonight either, but if she is, I hope she’ll understand the reason for recycling the book.

While I was wrapping the gift, I kind of had a brief second of actually liking what I was doing. I have very few people to give presents to that need to be wrapped. It even made me feel nostalgic and sentimental enough to think about getting out my small Christmas tree which I place in my dining room window. Notice I said “think about”. It may take a few more days to make up my mind. Christmas for one is not really a great big deal. Namaste Attic Annie

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