There are a few people who had a life-long impact on me. My mother’s mother, Mabel (“Hoot”) is the first to come to mind because she was the most constant. She lived in the same city and would take me most weekends as I grew up. It was her love that made the weekdays almost tolerable until I was back with her again. My grandmother seemed to instinctively know that her daughter didn’t want me or understand me.
The other two would be my mother’s sister, Hoot’s middle child, Jean, and her husband Ed. Ed and I were kindred spirits. We were both adopted, and there was a bond that never needed words. He seemed to just get me.
In June of 1968 my family moved from 53rd to 118th Street. It was shortly after that that Jean and Ed came to Omaha for one of their almost annual visits. They never stayed with us, they had a favorite motel that had seen better days, but held great significance to them. They would usually come to my parents’ home in the late afternoon or early evening.
On this particular evening in the summer of ’68 I overheard an interesting conversation between mom and Jean and Ed. My bedroom was right above the kitchen, and shortly after moving in I discovered if I lay on the floor under the windows, the vent that heated and cooled my room also had direct access to the vent in the kitchen. I had a very clear pipeline to kitchen discussions. This day there seemed to be a seriousness to the conversation that had me sent on upstairs.
My aunt and uncle approached my mother with the idea that I go to California with them and live with their family. Mom’s first reaction was no. After some discussion, Jean said it could be a trial. I could start eighth grade there and reevaluate at Christmas. Jean observed that a break between my mother and I could be just the thing to improve relations. I don’t remember breathing during this entire conversation.
My own reactions were very mixed. I had a baby brother who had just had his first birthday, and I was like a mother to him. The thought of leaving him was horrible. Yet the thought of continuing living under my mom’s abuse was horrible, too. I think if I’d have been given a choice, I would have gone with them. I would have been the only girl with four cousins for brothers – it sounded wonderful.
It was never to be. In the end my mother decided she just couldn’t face her friends/piers with explanations. The same old “what would the neighbors think” mentality reared its ugly head again. It kept me from getting counseling in grade school, etc.
Twenty years later, my uncle Ed would pass away. In August of ’88 I had been living in St. Louis for four years with my young kids. My mother didn’t tell me of Ed’s passing until after she returned from California to Omaha where she attended his funeral. It was about 10 days after the funeral when she happened to mention it during a phone conversation. I was crushed. I was angry. I was disappointed.
A few years later I was in California on a business trip. I flew up on Friday instead of Sunday so I could spend the weekend with Aunt Jean. It was a wonderful, peaceful and quiet time. I told her how heartbroken I was when I learned of Ed’s passing and that I felt awful that I wasn’t able to send something to the funeral. I also told her how much Ed meant to me and shared some of my favorite memories of him with her. There was so much love there.
The last time I saw Jean face-to-face was at my mother’s funeral in 2008. She was 88 and was a bit frail, but doing well and sharp as can be. A little over two years ago she lost her youngest son to cancer.
Yesterday I got word that she had just passed away, two months before her 94th birthday. I have a hole in my heart right now. One thing I don’t have is regrets. I had many chances to tell her how much she meant to me, and I took advantage of every one of them.
Sleep well sweet Jean. I smile as I imagine your energy joining with Ed and Mark’s to brighten the sky and surrounding all of us who love you.
A year ago today I made a decision that had a huge impact on life as I knew it. I butted my last cigarette (actually didn’t butt it since I used a self-extinguishing ashtray, but I digress). First, my stats: 1) just under 14,000 cigarettes not smoked; 2) $2,100 saved and donated to charity; 3) my lungs have improved by 5% – this will be the longest part of the journey. One of the apps that I used to log my progress/success showed me that since I stopped smoking there have been 3,497,345 smoking related fatalities, and I AM NOT one of them.
I know of at least 6 people that have found encouragement from my journey and have left this horrible addiction behind. That in turn encouraged me along the way. Five of these people I have never met in “real life,” just via Facebook. Outside of Facebook, my ex-husband quit and both my kids moved from cigarettes to e-cigs (the vape rage) and I am so thankful.
What I wasn’t prepared for a year ago was how the journey would go. I had quit before, many, many times. The last time I was serious about it was over 30 years ago, and other than nicotine withdrawal, I had very little discomfort. What a difference 30 years makes. Thirty years of tobacco manufacturers adding more and more addictive ingredients.
Thanksgiving last year was horrible. I was nine days into detox. I vomited most days/nights during that first few weeks. Everything smelled like it had come out of the back end of one of my dogs. The house, refrigerator, food (both at home and out), you get the point.
That early detox actually led to the very success that I found this time around that eluded me any other time I had tried to quit. Finding myself so physically ill pissed me off. Really pissed me off. The more pissed off I got, the more I was determined that I would never go back. I cried a lot. When I would voice my anger the tears would flow and the determination would be even more cemented.
When I hit the two month mark I walked into a gym. I was just looking for information, but left with a membership and a trial evaluation with a trainer. The first week in February I began the physical part of my healing. Combining the smoking cessation with the training – that push – I really started to feel the changes. They didn’t happen for many, many months – it was a slow process. From a distance no one would see the change. The weight is the same. But as you get closer or have a conversation with me you notice so very much. I can complete a sentence of more than 4 words without coughing for air. I can laugh without coughing. I had become a recluse. Rarely would leave the house. I’m out a minimum of 4 days a week – even if just 30 minutes.
What a journey. What a ride.
It’s me again, 8908. Wanted to update myself. After I lost my ass and my top on August 7th, everything else turned to shit. When you’re as old as I am, and a mirror is finally put in front of you, you get a major shock!!
The heavy equipment operators never got the whole band-aid analogy. VERY, VERY slow tear off. They took my chimney, my dormers, my legs in one day, but they left my broken parts in a hole far too long. They (the workers) never got the concept of the early bird catches the worm. My broken and damaged parts would lay bare until noon to one each day. Then they (workers) would run away like little sissy girls by four.
Two weeks ago, my parts had finally been hauled away. My limbs, what were left, were still not removed. I’m done talking about it. I’m gone now. My history is done. My address will live one for many years. I will be 8908 long after my family is dead.
I didn’t mean to let them down. Tried to protect each and every one of them. Sometimes evil and circumstances just get in the way. I did nothing to deserve the death sentence. Didn’t even get my last meal.
Oh, hi. It’s Liz again. Trying, still, to figure out why I’m almost morbid about this whole thing. Why do I need to keep looking out the front door, then the back, then taking a break, then rinse and repeat. Maybe it’s the fact that I was relinquished and feel I’m always looking for things that don’t exist. Maybe it’s that my kids were deeply hurt by both 8904 and 8908. Maybe it’s that I was a fool to trust that the spouse of the next generation would try to make the marriage work, but instead set out to destroy my youngest and 8908. He succeeded in handing 8908 over to the executioners, but accidentally freed my baby.
Thank you, 8908.
Now, I’m going to start working on NOT going to the front door, then the back to peer over the yard of my next door neighbors to stare at 8908. I will get this. One minute, hour, day at a time, just like when I became a recovering smoker. The earth dug out where 8908 used to stand is way deeper than it ever stood before. I know to many it sounds funny, weird, or like I’m delusional, but I hope the land heals. I want 8908, Jr. to be a blessing to the young family who will eventually occupy it.
I want to let it go. I so want to let so very much go.
My son ended his first “long term” relationship a little over two months ago. He moved back in with me when he did.
Four days ago he reentered his plentyoffish account with updated info. Within an hour he had left messages for 6 different women. Shortly after sending these messages he got a reply. They visited for hours.
I won’t say this young lady’s first name, not fair, too new. Lets call her Rita. Yeah, Rita. Is that subtle or what?
Before they even had a first face to face date, she did a dump. An emotional dump. It was a total “here is everything that might send you running, or make you do a polite bye bye.” He was impressed – so is mom. He did one also.
So in just 5 or so days, they are very much in “like.”
Here is where I say WTF. The W is not for what, but for who. Who the fuck am I? I struggled for 59 years. I’m almost to the point where I am bordering on okay. This young woman tells my son that she is a misfit. She is a goth. She has a totally art worked body, and she doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks. Either accept her or walk the fuck away.
This young lady blows my mind. She gets it.
My progress is getting ramped up. Who the fuck am I? Dang, just me! And I’m pretty damned cool. What I would have given to have that understanding at 26.