About lucyslegacy

Writer, Cynic, Speaker, Teacher, Diversity Embracer

Surprises and Adjustments in Life

Some things in life one simply cannot adequately prepare for.  We all know at some level that when we’re born, we will someday die.  It is an inevitable outcome of being born.  But when we lose someone very close to us, as I did in the loss of my older sister this past June, it came as a complete shock.  I knew for 1 1/2 years that she suffered with ovarian cancer.  I allowed myself to read the statistics, but somehow, I simply didn’t internalize the information.  I also spoke to women who had beat this disease, so I too knew that was possible.  However, when the end came, it shook me to the core.  I’m still having days of nonfunctioning grief induced pain. It continues to stagger me. I do find I’m improving, and beginning to think of happy memories with her.  Things we shared together that I’m quite sure were just between the two of us.  I am working on it, and I’ve found a great therapist who is helping me navigate between the boulders of grief.  Sometimes it’s simply a tsunami that crashes over me and leaves me gasping for breath.   Those have become fewer and further between, but I’ve no doubt that the triggers will  happen again and again.  I can only hope that they won’t be as staggering as they have been in the past.  I’m taking the word of those wonderful people who have shared with me that it does get better.  I know I’ll never forget and likely never fully recover, but I want to embrace the wonders of my life – my children and my grandchildren, friends, and family, and not focus on pain.  But I realize that it will always be there at least underneath.  I can have much greater emphathy with others who have experienced similar loss.

At the same time that my sister was enduring her illness, we were in the process of building a house.  This should be a wonderful experience, but it got so tied up in her time of sickness that it became hard for me to separate the two.  It’s a lovely house, but after two months, has yet to feel like home.  I think I’ll get there.  I know it takes time.  But if you look at stress level charts, you will see that moving is way up there.  Again, I do believe I’ll get there with time.  My sister never got to see this house.  At one point, I thought that might be good for me, but now  I’m not so sure.  I’m willing to suspend time to see how that works out.

The final icing on this huge cake was the announcement by my son that he’s moving to California to take a new job.  Living in South Carolina as we do, this came as a huge shock.  But I’ve reminded myself (after many tears) how important it is for each of us to try to live our dreams.  That is something I’ve always wanted for each of my  children.  My middle son went to live in Italy to finish undergraduate college and to work for a few years.  I missed him terribly, but had he not done that, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to visit Rome, Pompeii, Salerno, and the Isle of Capri.  I’ve since had the opportunity to make it back two other times, and I’m extremely grateful for those opportunities.  He has returned to Greenville with his extraordinary Italian wife and three beautiful children. I know a lot of great things can come out of this, and I do believe the shock is wearing off.

In the meantime, I’m tasked with finding my new role in this third phase of life. Most of my time on earth has been care taking other people.  Now, I must discover what is next, and what will work for me to make me happy in this era.  I love using my mind, but I find that using my hands may be greatly gratifying as well.  I enjoy talking politics, but have no desire to run for an office.  So I will continue to explore and see what feels good.  I also know I enjoy learning new things and ideas, so more classes are likely in the future for me.

I offer this to those of you dealing with similar issues.  If you’ve come up with ideas that help you, please share.  If you simply feel somewhat encouraged by knowing that others are struggling as well, do let me know.  We’ll make these changes.  I just can’t find the book that tells me how.  Perhaps together, we could write that.  What happens when the life you’ve lived for 62 years no longer fits?  Let’s find out.  Thank you for reading.

Also, I wrote a small book about the lessons I learned from my sister. If you’re interested in reading the book, you can locate it at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Lessons+from+a+dying+sister.

 

Absolution

(One of the great things about moving is finding old writings I couldn’t locate.  This was one of my favorites. I wrote this while I was at Clemson.)

Absolution

I sat beside the bed, as I had done for the past three days, waiting for some movement, some sign that Miss Mildred knew I was there. Since my daddy and grandma died in hospitals, they had become places of paranoia for me, and I could feel the chills creep up my spine as I inhaled that medicinal hospital smell that penetrated each and every pore each time I was forced to go inside of one.  This time was no different and four nights in a row meant that smell was now clinging to every part of me, soaking into every hair follicle.  But I was determined to overcome the feeling of combined disgust and fear and be here to speak to Miss Mildred when she woke up.

“You here again?” At this point, it seemed that most of the evening nurses knew me. At first, they looked at me a little curiously, a relatively young white woman waiting for an elderly black woman to wake up.  I only nodded toward tonight’s nurse.  “She’s been awake a bit today, but not much.  Only a few minutes each time.  You hang out long enough, I’m sure she’ll wake up for you.” I just nodded again, determined to overcome my disappointment and knowing I was not the only depressed person in this situation.  I was driving my husband crazy by insisting on being here to talk to Miss Mildred before she died.  I didn’t say that to anyone else, but I knew the reason I couldn’t give up.  I needed absolution.

Joe got home from work each night since Miss Mildred was hospitalized during the past week just in time for me to knock him over at the door, yelling that both kids had eaten sandwiches and there was one for him on the kitchen counter.  “Great,” he muttered each night.  A sandwich wasn’t exactly a home-cooked meal, which I knew, but I worked all day, too, so I wasn’t going to waste my time too much time on feeling guilty about that.  And I wasn’t havin the “you could cook occasionally, too” argument that had gotten old.

So, here I sat. And here Miss Mildred lay.  I had known Miss Mildred and her family all of my life.  As I looked at her aging face, I could see remnants of the woman she once was while I was growing up.  She was a pleasantly fat black woman who came to help my grandmother at her farm house three days a week.  Her ponderous body was part of her personality.  I would never call her obese – that suggested an uncomfortable and even ugly amount of weight.  With Miss Mildred, it was about her elegance within her excessive pounds.  She always looked fashionable, even when she came to do our housework.  Had she ever tried to lose some of the weight, I’m sure all twelve of her kids, along with my brother, sister, and I, would have cried to her not to do it.  You forgot how enormous she actually was because it was the way she was supposed to be.

I had never seen her in a bad mood. “Miss Lottie, you gotcher choices in life. Why you can choose to be an ol’ sourpuss or you can decide to be happy.  Old Abe said it da bes’ way – most folks are about as happy as they make their mind up to be.  You can set your clock by it, girl.”  I usually got this lecture from her when she could see that I was in a foul mood, or probably when my grandmother told her I was, and I would watch her and wonder just how she managed not to be a sourpuss.  She was a poor black woman living in the country of North Carolina in the late 60’s when there was supposed to be equal rights for the black people but somebody sure forgot to come tell my neighbors about it.  She had a husband, who tried hard to keep a job, but they were few and far between.  So, instead, he kept a bottle.  She had twelve – count ‘em – twelve children that she was working hard to support and educate and teach the right way.  The remarkable fact is that every one of them finished college.  We never knew quite how they did it.  My uncle suspected it was some kind of special colored scholarship available only to them.  Regardless, there were twelve who received four-year degrees, and by God, or by Mildred, they did it.  I tended to believe that Miss Mildred might be a bit stronger in this situation than even God.  She was an admirable woman by anyone’s standards.

Hearing the door open, I glanced toward it to see two of Miss Mildred’s daughters enter the room. The older of the two, Mary, smiled at me.  She had always been the one most like her mother and treated me kindly when I was a child.  The younger, Ruth, gave me kind of scowl that I guessed was meant to be a smile.  Or maybe not.  I scowled right back.  It wasn’t up to me to figure out what kind of ill feelings she harbored towards my family or me.  That was years ago, and I was here because of me now, not my family.

“She been awake since you been here?” Mary asked softly.

“No, she hasn’t,” I responded. Mary’s expression was gentle.

“You know, you could tell me what it is you need to tell her, and I promise I would get it to her. Case she wakes up while you aren’t here at night.” I shook my head and looked at my hands.  “Okay, Lottie, you do it your way.  I just don’t want you to upset her.  We’re gonna go.  Been here all day, so we were just checking on her one more time before we leave.”  She glanced at Ruth.  Ruth looked fiercely towards me.

“You aren’t gonna tell her something that will upset her are you, Lottie?” Ruth tried to whisper, but it came out more like a croak.  I could tell they had been discussing my reasons for being here.

“Ruth!” Mary looked at her and shook her head.

“Ruth, I don’t really care what you think about me, but I love your mama very much.  I’m not here to upset her.  Please rest your mind about that.” I knew I didn’t say it exactly right, but I meant every word of it.

“You better not, Lottie. She’s trying to heal up, and she doesn’t need any more of your family’s problems to deal with while she does.” Ruth had spit coming out when she spoke; she was so angry.  Briefly, I recalled that Miss Mildred had named her children after Biblical people.  Ruth didn’t seem terribly Biblical to me at that moment.  Mary grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the door.  “This isn’t the black Jones family being subjugated by all you white Baxter’s anymore!”

“Ruth, let’s go!” Mary hissed in her direction and pulled her out the door.  I watched them mutely as they struggled together into the hallway.  I could hear angry words on the other side, but I made no attempt to understand them. This was their fight, and I wouldn’t attempt to defend myself against anyone else.  I needed my energy for my confession to Miss Mildred.

I heard a soft chuckle from the bed, and I jumped up. Miss Mildred had one eye cracked open, and she was watching me with it.

“Ain’t she somethin’? That Ruth thinks she needs to fight every black person’s fight who ever lived.  How you doin’, Miss Lottie?” The words were a raspy whisper.

“Is it okay for you to talk, Miss Mildred?” Suddenly, I was aware of the effort it required for her even to be awake right now, much less talk.  What was I thinking?

“Yes, Miss Lottie, it’s okay. Long as I can keep my eyes open. They got me under some powerful drugs that hardly let me wake up.  They must be expectin’ me to feel some fierce pain.” She managed to crack the other eye a bit.  “You seen the stump?”  Miss Mildred had developed diabetes some years ago, and after many complications, the doctors had been forced to remove part of her right leg, which was why she was here.

“I can’t see it, Miss Mildred. You are wrapped up like a mummy on your whole bottom half.”  I glanced warily toward the stump, afraid it would jump out and force me to see it.  I heard her raspy chuckle again.

 

“Don’t be afraid, Miss Lottie. I ain’t got nothin’ to be scared of.  God will help me get through this. I’m sure of that.  He’s done helped me get through everything else, some a bit worse than this.  I ain’t afraid so don’t you be.” I looked at her weary face and her slit eyes, and I could see that she truly wasn’t afraid.  She had a kind of quiet resignation about her that said she accepted whatever her God would hand to her.  And she really did trust that He would see her through.  The kind of faith that had always escaped me.

“Now, tell me, Miss Lottie. What you doin’ here?  Why you been visitin’ my room every night?  I know you love me, but I know you well on the inside, too.  And your body’s fairly shoutin’ that you got somethin’ to say.  So, tell me, girl.  What you got on your mind?”

I took a deep breath and tried to clear my head. I had come to do this thing; I was determined, so I ignored all the screaming voices in my head that told me to run – run far away.  For once in my life, I was gonna make the brave and courageous choice.  For once.  And I dug deep for the courage that seemed all washed out of me.

“Miss Mildred…”, before I could even get started, tears began pouring down my face.

“Now, you hush, Miss Lottie. I don’t need you to be upset about nothin’. You hear me?  Don’t you be cryin’ on account of old Mildred.” Her voice was a bit stronger, and she almost sounded like her old self.  I could tell it was difficult for her even to speak.

“No, Miss Mildred, no. You gotta listen to me now.” I wiped my nose on my sleeve and took a deep breath.  “I have to tell you this; it isn’t about you.  At least, it isn’t about being scared for you.  I know you’re the strongest woman I’ve ever known. This is about me.  About a terrible thing I did.  But I have to tell you, Miss Mildred.  I have to.”  I took a deep gulp and felt the sobbing deep in my chest.  There was a tissue box on her nightstand, and I reached to grab one to wipe the black mascara that was running down my cheeks.

“Okay, honey, okay.  You take our time.  Miss Mildred ain’t going anywhere right now.”  She continued to watch me, and I could see a tenderness on her face that I had rarely seen on my own parents’ or my grandparents’.  I was terrified that after tonight, she wouldn’t love me anymore.

I smeared my makeup around on my cheeks some more with the tissue and took another breath.  I couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen into my lungs, which shocked me at how much oxygen a body needed to be truthful.

“Miss Mildred, you remember when I was twelve, and money disappeared from my granddaddy’s safe? You remember I know that they asked everybody if they had seen anything.  And then, Miss Mildred,” a deep sob escaped from low in my chest as I struggled to keep going with my horrible task.  She continued to watch me with the same tender expression.  “And then…and then…they blamed it on you.” At that, I screamed out, threw my head down on her bed cover and sobbed uncontrollably.  As I struggled to control my emotions, I felt her hand on my head, patting me softly and lovingly.  “They blamed it on you, and they took you to jail.  They took you to jail for three days before anybody had any money to get you out.” I was crying so hard I could hardly talk.

“Yeah, Miss Lottie, they thought I done it cause I was the only one alone in the house that day.”

“They thought you did it because you are black, Miss Mildred!” I screamed the horrible words into her bed.  They sounded muffled even to me.

“”Thas’ true, Miss Lottie. People sometimes can’t help how they was raised.  I know that, and you know that, too.  It don’t make ‘em bad folks.  Just wrong.” I raised my head to look at her.

“But, it wasn’t you, Miss Mildred. I was in the house, too.  I knew where my granddaddy hid the safe key.  It was me.  And I never said a word.  I never owned up to it.  I never told anyone that I was the thief.  I didn’t tell my daddy.  I didn’t’ tell anybody! That you were innocent. That you were the most honest person I ever knew – ever will know.  I let you take the blame!” I put my head down and cried even harder.  I felt that I was coming apart entirely.

“Miss Lottie, look at me.” I raised my head up, but it took a moment before my eyes followed. “Miss Lottie, you precious thing.  I ain’t always been honest.  Once upon a time, I was a young girl who thought that takin’ a nickel or a dime from her drunken daddy was part of my due.  Yes, I did,” she admitted with a smile.  “I stole too, Miss Lottie.  Maybe that was God’s way of teachin’ me.”

“It’s not the same thing, Miss Mildred.” I shook my head as tears continued coursing down my face.

“It ain’t? Why, surely it is, Miss Lottie. Stealin’s stealin.  I don’t think the Good Lord says that it’s okay as long as it’s a little thing.  I imagine somebody else got blamed for mine more than once.”  She looked away from me like she saw the memory.  “I was my daddy’s favorite little girl.  There was five of us girls.  I remember my brother got a beatin’ one time.  A whole quarter was missin’.  And he had been mean to me. Stealin’ anything is still stealin’, Miss Lottie.  I was guilty too.” She smiled at me, and closed her eyes.  “I always knew this ‘bout you, Miss Lottie.  I knew it then.”

I cried even harder. “Why didn’t you say something, Miss Mildred? Why didn’t you tell on me?  Why didn’t you tell my granddaddy?  Or my daddy?” I could tell by her slower breathing that the drugs were taking their effect and she was slowly drifting away into sleep again.  She struggled for a few more words.

“Because now, Miss Lottie, you have become one of the most honest people I know. And if I had told on you, why then, I would have cheated you out of the chance to be honest. To tell the truth no matter how hard it is.  I done the right thing, Miss Lottie.  Look at you now.” With that, she slipped away into her healing sleep.  I cried awhile longer on her bed, and then slowly sat up.  I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened, but I could feel the tiniest bit of sunlight open up inside of me.

I wiped my face and stood to go. Leaning down, I kissed Miss Mildred on her cheek.  I saw the faintest smile come over her face, and then she eased back into her sleep.  And, for a brief moment, I gazed on the face of the most exceptional teacher I had ever known.  Perhaps there was hope for me after all.

Women’s March in DC

Women’s March in DC

I’ve had a few moments to give some thought to what I would write about the experience of the Women’s March in DC on Saturday, January 21, 2017. First, I decided the night of the election that I would be in DC for this March. I may be incorrect about this exact date – but as soon as it was announced that Trump had won, I knew I was going. Alone, if necessary. Three wonderful nasty women decided to go along with me: Sharon Mueller Miracle (who signed on as co-pilot immediately), Pat Dillow, and Amy Thorsheim. They were the perfect three for what I needed.

We left Friday morning around 9:30, and bonded and talked and shared all the way there. Once, after we made a few stops, we arrived at their hotel about nine hours later, I went on to my adorable niece and nephew’s home, to spend time with them, and with cuteness, their precious 7 month old daughter.

The next day, Saturday, January 21, 2017, is almost indescribable. The numbers of people at our metro station in New Carrollton kept arriving to get on the metro. They just kept coming. Pink hats in all styles and shades of pink, signs with the most creative things written on them (Putin is a Man-Date; the Fempire fights back), women of all ages – babies, small girls, teenagers, 20’s – on up through 70’s and 80’s, people in wheel chairs, using walkers, and canes. Men of all ages, all colors, from all states. And the most polite people I’ve ever seen. No one pushing or shoving, no anger, simply coming together to state loudly that women’s rights are human rights, immigrants have a home here, LGBTQ people have rights in America, misogyny is wrong, racism is wrong, and we MUST not allow the newly chosen cabinet members, yet to be appointees, to take us back to the 50’s. We must fight these appointees. We must come home and take up the torch. Either run yourself, or find someone to support. But do NOT stop at the march. Keep going. Keep sharing. Keep the kindness but keep fighting.

We heard Alesha Keys, Michael Moore, Ashley Judd, among others. We were implored to keep the action going when we got home. Many promised to run for office.  We chanted “March, March, march” when the speakers wouldn’t stop speaking.  We learned later that there were so many people, the organizers considered cancelling the actual march – there was nowhere to walk.  People were pushed together like sardines in a can.  Yet, it was almost as if everyone was trying to “out-polite” the others.  There were screens set up to enable all to see the speakers, but difficult to locate because of the throngs.  This didn’t matter at all to me.  I came to see the crowds.  To feel the energy.  To be part of a passionate group of people trying to make a change in an administration that scares us.  It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to the 60’s marches.

On the way out, women climbed poles and shouted, “Tell me what democracy looks like!” The crowd roared back, “This is what democracy looks like!” It was magical. When we heard the numbers at the many other marches, we cheered.  We cheered going home on the metro.  I’ve told my students it’s the next thing to seeing the Grand Canyon – almost inexpressible.

I’m hopeful that the change is coming. I’ve made calls to our Senators.  I plan to attend the Democratic Party meeting on Saturday.  Perhaps we can do it.  Equality for all.  Sounds like a pipe dream.  After all, I’m a history instructor.  Still, I have to try.

 

Grief and Friendship

Losing a close family member has changed me.  I no longer take the existence of the people I love for granted. My heart is heavy, but the weight is now bearable.  I don’t believe I will ever completely heal, but a friend suggested that the scab will get thicker.  I find that, for now, I don’t want to read anything about grief and all its aspects.  I don’t want to talk about the pain for it seems to make it much harder. The third month anniversary of my sister’s death was this week.  My father’s birthday (who died in 1973) was also this week.  I was in a small fender bender.  I don’t think the three are mutually exclusive.  My brain feels like its been bouncing around inside my skull as if I’ve taken a hard blow to my head.  I expect this will happen on occasion.  I expect that holidays and anniversaries, along with birthday reminders, will be difficult to bear.  But, as I’ve done thus far, I will get through it.  I can’t truly imagine (and honestly don’t want to) the horror of losing a loved one to murder, a car wreck, or any tragedy that I can consider.  I don’t know how the loved ones deal with it and continue their lives.

I also don’t believe I’ll ever feel this intensity of grief again.  I could be wrong, but I certainly don’t want to be.  I feel as if a hardened shell is forming over my heart and won’t allow me to feel this horror again.   I’ve begun to understand how those in the medical field, the military, and coroners manage to deal with daily death, along with having to tell the family.  One must create the shell that keeps your heart from shattering each and every time that you must deal with the reality of telling others about the death of a loved one.  I have grave doubts that I could come close to doing that.  Just not in my DNA.

I recently read an article about how to determine who your real friends are.  Going through my grief, I’ve discovered that people I didn’t consider close friends have shown up to be there for me.  This includes a close friend who drove 4 hours one way to come to the funeral of my sister (she also drove 4 hours one way on the wrong Saturday  – this is a true friend).  There was another who came because she felt she should be there.  That is often the real essence of friendship.  The actions you take show others that you care.  The words you say can be meaningless if not accompanied by action.  I have to remember this.  It’s an important part of friendship.  Another friend I’ve never actually met sent homemade jams and pickled okra.

How do I show my love?  I do try to be there.  I doubt I’ve tried hard enough. I will do better now because of have the horrible ability to see how it feels.

My sister died of ovarian cancer.  She had 18 months after the diagnosis.  Please don’t take your health for granted.  Ovarian cancer is not detectable until it’s in the 3rd or 4th stage.  I believe she did all she could to fight this horrible disease.  I now know a lot more about this disease and the medications given to the dying – more than I ever wanted to know. If you or someone you care about has any of the below symptoms, please get to your doctor quickly.

  • A swollen or bloated abdomen, increased girth. Some women notice that their pants or skirts are getting tight around the waist. The bloating is a sign that fluid, called ascites, is building up in the abdominal cavity in later stage disease
  • Persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary concerns, such as urgency or frequency
  • Change in bowel habits with new onset constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding

Early detection is vital.  And please be a friend to those who are diagnosed.  Women do live with early detection.  My sister wasn’t one of those.  I’m not happy to write about this.  I’m not anywhere close to pleased that I know as much about this as I do.

I read my sister’s eulogy.  I don’t remember doing it.  The mind truly will protect you from the pain.  I didn’t know that until this happened.

Please take care of your health.  And please be a “show-er upper” for your friends.  They will then know that you truly care.

Jimmy Carter Continues Inspiration

On August 13, I traveled with eight women to Americus, Georgia, to spend the night, and to see Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School the next morning at Marantha Baptist Church, in Plains, GA. Susan Crow-Granger initiated the trip, and eight of us responded yes.  Traveling in three cars on Saturday, some of us barely knew each other.  It was a magical experience.

Once there, we ate a gourmet meal at the Hotel in Americus. Who knew that such a meal was even possible in this remote town in the middle of nowhere?

The next morning, six women left the hotel at 5:05 AM to get in line at Marantha. To attend his class, you must get there early, where you are given a number which you later use to get in line to enter the church.  The building barely holds 300 people.  On one recent Sunday, 100 were turned away because they arrived too late.

The two women with me were given #40. We tailgated with fruit, bagels, cheese, cream cheese, and more.  What we were missing was caffeine, which many lamented.  At 7:15, we got in line – kind of.  It was more like a big crowd.  We waited for what seemed a very long time.  Were you aware that the gnat is the state bird of Georgia?  Trust me on this.  Finally, a short slightly stout woman came outside and began yelling at us.  This was “Miss Jan,” as she called herself.  We shortly expected that her former career was drill sergeant.  She yelled at us to get in a straight line.  When we didn’t move fast enough, she yelled more.  We were secretly calling her the Parking Lot Nazi.  Finally, when the line was straight enough, she began barking orders.  No pocketbooks.  No baseball hats in her church.  No water to be taken in.  When we eventually began going in, we were checked well by Secret Service.

Once inside, she gave us instructions. We were to respond politely and loudly to President Carter.  We were to yell which state we were from as he moved from section to section.  Once one state had been called out, you weren’t to repeat it if you were from the same state.  There were people there from all over the country – almost every state was represented along with people from France, Venezuela, the UK, and Barbados.  Children and students were in attendance.  Miss Jan instructed us on how we were to have our picture taken with the Carters.  No touching.  No talking.  No handshakes.  Once you got to them, give your phone to the picture taker, move to the side of one of them, smile, get your phone or camera back and get out.  It sounds harsh, but it truly wasn’t.  Miss Jan emerged to also be a comedian as she told us stories and let us know what she would and wouldn’t allow.

When President Carter came in the door at the front, you couldn’t hear a pin drop. He asked were many were from, then he told us about where he had been (fishing with Ted Turner in Montana).  He told us about his international friendships (he also fishes with Putin in Russia).  He gave us information on what is happening in Syria and the important work that The Carter Center is doing.  Then he launched into the Sunday School lesson, which was about how to deal with tragedy and loss in your life.  My sister recently passed away.  I knew immediately why I was there. Everyone cooperated in the picture taking (Miss Jan was watching), and the large group was done in under twenty minutes.

Afterwards, we all agreed that this man is indeed a miracle. Not only is he almost 92 years old, he battled liver and brain cancer last year and lost a grandson, he continues traveling all over the world with The Carter Center, combatting strange illnesses in other countries and assisting with troubled elections.  He will head to China in October to accept a major award for his contributions in making other’s lives better, an award that offers more money than the Nobel Peace Prize.  He plans to donate it all to The Carter Center.

If you want to be inspired in your life, this is a trip well worth considering. My hat is off to Susan Crow-Grainger for initiating such a trip.  I’m inspired.

The Grief and Anger in Losing a Sister

The things that one learns while in the stages of grief are well defined by many grief counselors.  There are a ubiquitous number of books that describe these terrible stages.  Anger, denial, negotiation, acceptance, depression, ad nauseum.  These come in no particular order and simply because you’ve spent time in one stage doesn’t mean that you’re finished with it.  Nor is there any time limit to how long you experience a particular stage.  The human mind refuses to work like that.  You can go through all five in a manner of minutes, or you may find yourself stuck in one for hours and days at a time.  There is no rhyme or reason as to how these stages will pick you up, throw you down, wring you like a wet towel, and drop you on the ground with deep dread that it’s about to start all over again.

The anger and depression stages seem to be my major choices.  Acceptance is one that eludes me, as it did for twenty years after my father died.  I can get stuck and linger for years.  It’s not the healthiest way to do it.  But, I’ve gotten so good at it, I do hate to give it up.

Years ago, I read a lot of Kubler-Ross – “On Death and Dying.”  Perhaps I was preparing myself. Facing a death, Noel’s in my situation, brings out a side of me most people don’t like.  It’s my fighting side.  I don’t really care what others think when it comes to protecting my family, good southerner that I am.  I know that I would have made a pact with the devil to have her emerge healthy and to allow her to live into a vibrant old age.  I’d do it in a skinny minute. Gasp all you want.

But, I do know that isn’t an option.  There are so many who haven’t earned the breath she so well deserved, the healthy body that by rights should have been hers.  Those useless, self-absorbed people who do little or nothing for their neighbors.  It defies logic that a woman so giving is the one to get this horrendous disease we call ovarian cancer. It simply isn’t up to me as to who deserves a long life and who doesn’t, and thank god for that.

One thing that I’ve learned in this ordeal is that people say the most inane things. I know its very hard to know what to say.  Sometimes, all you can say is, “This totally sucks.”  If you aren’t that kind of speaker, try, “this is simply terrible and I’m so sorry.”  We really don’t want to hear that she’s in a better place and we’re definitely all happy that she’s no longer in pain but we want her HERE with US.

Also, please don’t ask me what I need (or anyone else struggling through this morass of hellish emotions.  Suggest something you can do.  I can barely remember to get up, breathe, and bathe.  Forget coming up with what I need.  Try offering a meal for a certain night, or offer to come over and water the flowers; drop off note cards that the grieving people can use later and include a book of stamps (dying can be expensive).  If there are children in the house, bring mac n cheese.  Offer to feed and wash the dog, or take him/her out for a walk.  Blow off the driveway, mow the lawn.  We would really appreciate it, but we can’t remember how to put the lid back on the toothpaste.  If you really feel that you need to do something for the person in grief, do it.  Gently, but with determination.  You’ve no idea how much it will be appreciated.  Those who are taking care of their sick loved one are doing all that they can there.  You can help, but be creative.  All my thoughts are tied up with her.  Whatever you do, trust me – it will be deeply appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TripAdvisor and Uber

Do you use TripAdvisor when you’re seeking reviews on vacations, restaurants, activities, or more?  Each time I travel, I review as many places as I can which I visited.  I review them honestly because I’d like to think that, if I read reviews, I can get some honest feedback.  I have reviewed restaurants and hotels in Spain, near the Grand Canyon (restaurants there aren’t great), New York, Cary NC, Greenville SC, New York, and Atlanta.

I’d love to know if you use this service, and if so, have you found it satisfactory?  If you don’t, is there another reviewing website that you use?  The only “thing” I’ve received for doing this is luggage tags, which are rather cool.  I suppose I like knowing that others are reading my reviews and using them to decide where they eat or stay.  I have gotten a few requests from travelers who wanted to know specifics (do they serve breakfast or brunch? – that kind of thing.)

Uber is another review idea.  I’ve taken Uber a few times, although not since the murder by a driver (that has had nothing to do with why I didn’t take Uber – I’ve simply had no need).  I have found the service very nice, and it’s great not to have to have money to share.  If you haven’t taken Uber, you sign up first, and all transactions are done via the credit or debit card you use when you sign up.  Also, the drivers are quite interactive and greatly willing to share why they are doing this. Some drivers in California are making a great income.  Smaller areas, not so much, but the driver we used in Greenville lost his job and is using the service to provide another income.

What are your thoughts about both of these services?  Do you promote or not?