Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm sure there are people who think I should get over it. That after 19 months, I should be putting the grief away and getting on with my life. But that's so easy for them to say.

What they don't realize is that I didn't just lose my mother. I lost a huge portion of my life, of my support system. My mother wasn't perfect, neither was I, and yet we had forged a family unit. We cared for each other. Until she became too frail to do it, she fixed me dinner almost every night when I was working. She bought me Diet Coke when it was on sale. She would ask me to go with her to Mervyns or Ross or Walmart, and she would buy me stuff I hadn't even asked for, just cuz she wanted to. I miss that. Not the stuff. The generosity and love behind it. I remember once admiring a pumpkin-colored purse at Mervyns, but not buying it cuz it was too expensive. She waited til it went on sale, and she had a coupon, and bought it for me. And the fur blanket!!! I coveted this faux mink blanket, also at Mervyns, and she laughed at me, and made a point of how useless it was. And yet, there it was, all wrapped up one Christmas.

In return, I loved her. I did yard work she no longer could handle. I ran interference with the repair men we had to hire for the fence and deck and patio cover and garage door. I drove her to doctors appointments and hair dressers, and i sat in the emergency room so many times, holding her hand and keeping her company. I took her to Reno and Tahoe, and brought my grandkids to visit. They loved their GG, and still to this day, the older ones remember.

My Mom loved me. She worried about me. She fought with me. She thought I spent money foolishly, and she hated being lied to. But she loved me. She wanted ME there with her as her health failed. She trusted me to take care of her, she let me handle the most basic of her needs. And when she died, she was holding my hands. Til the day i die I will remember watching the light and life fade from her eyes. Is it any wonder I miss her so?

If a Gramma screams....

I just have to wonder. Why do people ask how you're doing, if they don't want to know? I have so much hurt and sadness bottled up inside me, and yet, I'm not allowed to express it. If I dare to indicate I'm unhappy, everyone tries to talk me out of it. Oh, they don't admit that's what they're doing, but when they tell me what I should be thankful for, or tell me how much they "love" me or need me, or how great I am, I just know it's all a lie.

What they don't realize is that there's almost nothing left inside me. I have no enthusiasm, no joy, no real reason to continue on. I do love my grandbabies with all my heart, but I can't live my life for them. They have moms and dads, and lives of their own. When I'm with them, I'm usually happy, because they give so freely of their love and hugs. But as soon as I leave, the darkness sets in, and I'm lonely and sad again. I just feel useless, worthless, and left behind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Football and Champagne

Football is back. The 49ers are playing their first preseason game this morning. I made french toast for breakfast, and as I was dishing it up, I felt a tiny pang, wishing I was fixing it for me and Mom in the house in Morgan Hill. Time just keeps moving along, each day taking me farther and farther away from our lives there in the big house. I'm not sure I can remember the sound of her voice. I still get flashes of memory that occur when I least expect them, and bring me to tears. I have so many regrets...all the times I was impatient with her. I would give just about anything to be able to go back to before she got so ill, and be able to tell her how much I appreciate her. I wish I had spent more time recording her stories on tape. I wish she had been more open with me about the ill feelings among my sibs, so I wouldn't have been blindsided by the anomosity. I wish, I wish. Yeah, and I can wish until the cows come home, and it won't change a thing.

I want so much to make something of my life in the time I have left, however long or short it might be. I want to be a successful writer, and get my books published, and be able to help my family. I want to make my dreams come true. If Susan Boyle can do it, so can I. I might not have a singing voice like she does, but I have a voice, and I can use that voice to my advantage in my books. I just need to be disciplined enough to commit myself to a daily writing session. No more getting distracted by other projects.

I owe it to Mom and Dad to make a success of myself somehow. Mom wanted me to be happy, and Dad always believed in my writing. What finer memorial could there be???

Oh, and the champagne? Mom and I had a little tradition if you will, of celebrating the start of football season with a pizza and a glass of Andre champagne. We had pretty simple tastes!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th, and I invite the grandkids over to spend the night. What was I thinking? I babysat them all day, and frankly, by now, I'm over it. They are five ,four, and almost three, and they completely ignore anything I say to them. Don't jump on the sofa bed? No more french fries til you eat the rest of your hamburger? Don't play on the stairs. Stop turning the lights on and off. Stop hitting your brother/sister. Stop screaming. Sigh. Get the picture? They're not bad kids, just undisciplined and wild. It's gonna be a looooonnnng evening.

The Perfect Family???

What do alcoholism, adultery, gambling, overspending, excessive frugality, smoking, and pomposity have in common? They are all things of which my siblings and I have been guilty. Yes, the very same siblings who think they are too perfect, too blameless to hang out with their flawed sister. And just for the record, I plead guilty to gambling and overspending. Guess that leaves all the others for all the others.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An Open Letter to my Siblings

Dear Susan, Douglas, and Joe

First of all, I would like to apologize and ask forgiveness. I know that in the weeks and months after Mom's death, I said and did things that caused you added pain and grief. My only defense is temporary insanity. The grief I was experiencing after losing not only my mother, but my best friend, was so intense, I literally thought my heart wasn't going to make it. Added to that was the shock of finding out that all the things I believed about my family were lies. None of you ever loved me, and things you said and did cast doubt on whether or not Mom had loved me as well. I know that doesn't erase words and deeds, but I am sincerely sorry for letting my grief override my judgement, and allowing me to say and do things I normally would not think of expressing.

But for me, at least, it's all in the past. I also forgive you for all the things you said and did that added to my pain and grief. Mom worried constantly that our family would fall apart after she died, and I never understood why. Now I do. I've tried to reach out to some of you, only to be ignored. I'm trying one last time to heal the rift. I know we'll never be best friends, but I wish with all my heart we could at least be civil to one another. For Mom's sake. Maybe that doesn't mean anything to you. Maybe you hate me so much you can't accept my apology. I hope not. I'm holding out my hand in peace and in hopes that we can put the last 18 months behind us and keep the family bond intact.
I do love all of you, and miss hearing from you.
your sister

Thursday, August 5, 2010

No Manilow For You!!

I was reminded today of that Sienfeld episode, "The Soup Nazi". Remember that one, when Jerry and George go to get soup, and they have to follow the soup nazi's rules for ordering. George gets his soup, but not his free bread. When he complains, the soup nazi gets angry, and refunds his money, while taking away his soup. Elaine, who wasn't with the two at the time, goes to get soup, ignores advice about how to order, and annoys the soup nazi to the point where he not only refuses her soup, he bans her from his store for a year.

Sound familiar? It should. Perhaps the new name for tptb or HWSNBN should be "The Show Nazi".

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Barry Manilow, Bob Dylan, and me

I was listening to the radio the other day on my way home from work. This in itself is unusual, since I prefer either silence or songs from the dozen old cassettes I keep in the car. But I digress. As I said, I was listening to the radio, and I hear a commercial for Bob Dylan's upcoming concerts. And it made me remember a quote I used to loved, from a writer by the name of D.G. Fulford. Over 20 years ago, she wrote a column for the LA Daily News. I don't remember where I read it, possibly it was printed in the local San Jose Mercury News. Whatever. She was writing about Boy Dylan, and she's describing how his singing affected her: "I used to think that Dylan's voice was my personal silent dog whistle. It affected me viscerally."

Viscerally. The dictionary defines that as "deep, instinctive", or "dealing with elemental emotions". In layman's terms, it hit her right in the gut.

I remember that quote because it described how I used to feel about Barry Manilow. I used to feel a connection to him that couldn't be explained. I remember buying my very first Manilow album. I was just browsing through the local five-and-dime, wasting time til it was time to pick up my youngest from kindergarten. I picked up a record album, and looking into the eyes of the singer on the cover, I literally felt something snap into place. I didn't realize what was happening then, I just knew I had to buy that album. And eventually, every album I could get my hands on.

There's a book by Richard Bach, called "The Bridge Across Forever". One of the main characters talks of being lonely, even in a crowd. She askes "Did you ever feel you were missing someone you've never met?" I had felt like that my entire life, even after I met and fell in love with my (now ex) husband.

Barry's voice spoke to me, and filled up the spaces that had been empty and lonely.
I imagined a connection between us, a soul connection I was convinced came from past lives together. In 1987, when the call went out for questions for a Q&A at the fan club convention in Washington DC, I sent in my postcard. My question was "Do you believe in reincarnation, or at least acknowledge the possibility of the soul having more than one chance at human existance?" I attended the convention, and the Q&A. Imagine my shock when I realized Barry had picked my question as one of those he would answer. And his answer was yes, he did believe.

Over the years, I had several opportunities to meet Barry. Each time, I hung back, and let the others with me have their pictures taken, or, on the one instance I actually was in the photo, I stood off to one side.

D.G.Fulford understood. Defending herself to disparaging friends, she said "You're not from the same planet that Dylan's from. If you were from the planet, and spoke the language, you would be worthy to talk about this. But you don't get it. I do. Me and Dylan, man, we're tight." "Well, please. Me and Dylan, man, we're not tight. I had a chance to meet him once but was too afraid. I would have died, you see, if this idol had met me and not recognized me from the aforementioned planet."

"I would have died, you see..." My greatest fear was not that I would never meet Barry Manilow but that we would meet and he would not recognize me as his soulmate.

During the period of my most intense Manilow addiction, I was also a student of New Age philosophies. I remember reading a book that discussed harmonic resonances. The idea was that everything in the universe vibrates with a certain frequency, and if you hear something..a symphony, a bird song, whatever, that vibrates at the same frequency, the resonance brings a sense of well-being, and can awaken memories or inspire action. Some even suggested that certain vibrations could bring about world peace. I've often wondered if that explains Barry's success. Does his voice vibrate with a frequency designed by the cosmos to touch a chord in humanity? Is there some hidden message in his songs that mankind needs to hear?? We'll probably never know.
But I do know that his voice has always been MY personal silent dog whistle.