Losing Your Way …Changing Paths

I am in the middle of an “I’ve lost my way” period in my life.
 
There, I have said it.
 
It came to me this morning as I read my “Jesus Calling.” Hit me in the face. Reunited. Made me feel better and a little bit worse.
 
There are situations in our life that a we can’t control, but we are affected by. Big situations. Little situations. Some that seem so big that you get lost in the maze of trying to figure them out … projecting to the uncertain future, that you make into certainties, not intentionally, but because you are human.
 
Not all people … me. I. Moi.
 
So, what do I do?
I tend to work as fast and hard as I can, and then collapse in an exhausted stupor and you know how good exhaustion is to making things look navigable.
 
Not so much.
 
I take to tasks at hand, things that I make become important to me, but mean nothing to anyone else. Making homemade, well, everything.
 
If I had a quarter for overtime I did this in my life, we would be loaded.
 
To not tell you this, and present those dastardly plans I did, yesterday, is not who I am or why I write. Yes, it is real, but the reasoning on what that was about, is not glorious, and I only had that put in front of me this morning, by words, other than my own.
 
Instead of feeling joy and happiness about much of what I have been doing, I have had more of a feeling of, tick that off my box, thank gonads that it is over and I survived … but barely. And all the while, I am dwelling on projecting the future in a world that future is folly.
 
I felt crappy that people said they were exhausted reading what I was planning to do. I was exhausted writing it. And because I was focusing on the wrong part of the that time filled with people, I lost the meaning, the joy of community and love and just felt overwhelmed.
 
Some people can’t do anything when they are stressed. Me? I go into over-achievement mode. I will beat whatever this is, by creating.
 
I love creating things when I am into the zen of creating. But when I do it to hide, to mask, to cover, things that I really have no right answers for, but am called upon to take part in things, it adds to the exhaustion.
 
In other words, I still don’t know how to live a life with grace and ease and faith and trust.
 
At least at times.
 
This morning, I want to say, God, I am an idiot. Friends and readers, I am an idiot.
 
Well, temporarily.
 
I shall blame the pollen.
 
But the fact is, the flipped menu doesn’t matter. Whether my house is spotless doesn’t matter. What does matter is if I exhaust myself to get the house and food ready to false expectations that I had put in my head.
 
I am not Martha Stewart. I don’t want to be, and apparently, I can’t even joke about that because, I, in my magic mind, think that being Martha Stewart in excellence, is what my life is about.
 
It is not.
 
I do pretty well with momentary, and hurt term faith. But long term, that is where I fail. I don’t like to. It is exhausting and does no one a service.
 
You know, I hadn’t felt one shred of excitement about the upcoming weekend … just the work of it all.
 
This morning, that changed. I got the message. And it wasn’t just about this weekend. It goes further than that. I can’t make life a burden, and that is what I was feeling.
 
Oh my jelly beans, this sounds like a true life confessional, something that I would say to a therapy group.
 
That makes me laugh.
 
But put it this way … my guests will be fed. They will not pick up a disease from an unclean house. And they will be well taken care of.
 
Other than that, all bets are off. I will look forward to community, laughs, love and the unexpected.
 
I am NOT a life planner … or Martha Stewart. I am just Susan, a Norwood Girl.
 
Susan
 
PS. I posted this painting because I bought these spiffy kind of frames that don’t need matting. They were 2 for 1 at Micahels. I like the way they look and thought they might give you an idea.
Or not!

Stories Are My Life

Stories. My stories. Your stories. The stories we have lived, and the stories we have denied.
 
I am not sure how you see your life, whether it is one big ball of silly putty, or a string of events that don’t seem to have much rhyme or reason.
 
I can’t handle my life as one big ball of silly putty. I am more like a book. I have moments that are words, some are sentences. Some sentences stand alone and others morph into paragraphs. I have also lived in vignettes, almost stages settings that I have envisioned prior to them happening.
 
There are parts of my life that have revealed themselves in chapters. Short chapters, long chapters … that will, eventually, become the book of my life.
 
Writing and thinking in such a manner help give me some structure and order to my life so it doesn’t totally go out of orbit.
 
Yes, there are times when my thoughts and emotions get sling-shot to outer crazy land. But in putting what has happened into context, into a story, pulls me back into a place where I can live.
 
If you think about it, how do you see you life? Is it a story-board? Is it random things that seem as hough you have no control? Do you drag the past with you or carry it in you purse like a tube of lipstick? Or, do you see it in some other way?
 
I was so enthralled with the podcast I listened to, yesterday, that this morning, after cleaning up the remainder of the stuff in the kitchen, from our baked ziti dinners that we cooked for hurricane relief, I needed something to pull me back to center.
 
I scrolled down the list of podcasts on Invisibilia, and found won that sounded interesting. It was about a woman whose husband had died, leaving her bereft, who could not function well. She decided to jump out of an airplane. You will have to listen to the podcast to get the story, which is part of the reason that I am writing about life as story, today.
 
The other part of the episode was about a couple from Montana who raised bees. Someone stole all of their bees at the worst possible time, (not that there is a good time to steal bees).
 
Again, a story of loss.
 
We all lose things, don’t we? keys, purses, glasses, receipts, friendship, friends, spouses, children, parents?
 
We mourn and go over and over the past and the emotions and the stories of the past. Sometimes, we change the stories to make us feel more comfortable.
 
There are times in our lives, dare I say, that we don’t even know how we will move on, or if we want to try.
 
Think about the people who lost everything, including loved ones, in the recent hurricane. Many will have to start their lives over.
 
How?
 
As this podcast told so well, those who are able to move on, do so, in part, because they learn to create new stories for their life. They mourn the past, but instead of sticking in “I, I, I,” mode, they begin using pronouns such as “him, her, we, them.”
 
I know that is how i push myself forward. When it is too much, “I,I,I,” I know that there has to be a shift. My thinking needs to change. My attitude needs a vacuuming and there is a need for letting go.
 
Maybe, that is why I do some things that others think, “Why does she do that?”
 
I can tell you why, as it has become clear to me.
 
Because I want a new story to live, to experience, to share. There is something in me that drives me, and entices me to try this or that, so that it becomes a paragraph or chapter in my life, and that helps me engage with others.
 
There are times when I wonder if I could or would I want to go on if Nick dies before I do. When the woman in the podcast, the one who was grieving for her husband and her lost life, said that she didn’t get joy out of doing the things they used to do, together, I put myself there. I can bring myself to tears thinking about that, especially if I am driving in the car, alone, and hear a song that moves me.
 
Who knows if that will happen?
 
But in my mind, I pray that if that does happen, I will do as this woman does … jump out of a plane, metaphorically, and begin a new, different chapter. And if I look at it like that, I think I might be able to handle it.
 
Susan
 
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia

Friendship

Confession … I watch four of the “Real Housewives of … “ shows. I have for years. It has been a guilty pleasure. I think it is funny how ostentatious the shows are, the jewelry, houses, vacations and sick and sour friendships these women have.

The shows have been good for many of the women’s bank accounts. The shows have become platforms for skinny brands, skin care, prepackaged dinners, toaster ovens, and a plethora of clothing lines.

Yes, I know it is edited, set up and who knows about scripting? Although I don’t think that a writer writes the dialogue, I think situations prod the women into combat.

Cutting to the chase … if any of my friends talked to me like these women talk to each other, there is no way in hot dog heaven, that I would be friends with them.

If my recollection serves me, they have called each other whores, bitches, liars,tramps, fakes, phonies, sluts, etc. Feel free to add to the list.

The biggest part of air-time is spent seeing if someone will apologize for a transgression that can be, 1) you didn’t make a casserole for me when I had a face-lift, 2) you didn’t tell me that you went out with a guy you both met at a bar while dancing without you underwear, 3) you were flirting with my son, 4) you left my sleepover and stayed at a hotel, 5) your dog plooped on my rug, 10 times.

And there are degrees of apologies. There is the unapologetic apology. “I am sorry if you felt like I played fiddle-fart with … (the man half of them have fart-fiddle around with. Or I don’t owe HER an apology, she owes ME one. Or the apology that is not SINCERE or not on camera.

And then the hug and promise to never stoppe to said behavior, again, only to repeat the transgressions repeatedly.

My lord of lingerie, who in their right minds would act like these women? And to think, many of them have daughters,who see this stuff.

Made for TV friendships, that is what they are. Cameras roll, checks written, catfights begin. It appears that in U.S. television lands, nice is boring.

Don’t these women know that friendships are precious, difficult to make and hatred to maintain over theme? They, just like a garden, need tending.

How many friends, real friends do you have? How long have you had these friends? Are you open to new friendships or content with the friendships you have? Have you ever let a friendship go? Why?

I have a few long term friends. I love my friends. We have laughed and cried through our tricky lives, marriages, divorces, deaths, children problems, and our own insanity. And when I say laugh, I mean that we crack ourselves up. We have similar sensibilities to laughter.

Though I moved away from them, I still count on talking to them and seeing them when I can.

I have some friends that have come in and out of my life, I might have met them at a workshop or event, and we “clicked”, but they aren’t a constant in my life.

There are friendships that I have where I doubt we will see each other, again. We write to each other. The words are meaningful and insightful. We care very much about how the other is doing.

I have some new friends, like new plants in my garden. They add color into my life and I enjoy spending time with them. Our roots aren’t as deep because we don’t have much time in our histories, but it is delightful to learn about them and share our new lives.

Many of my friends are my age, or near my age, but not all of them. I have some friends who could be my kids.

I would never talk to them like these “Housewives” talk to their supposed friends. Seriously.

I hear the word, “apologize” more that I ever wanted to while dealing with Samsung. I don’t want to deal with that word with my friends. We are all old enough to know what is proper and kind and what would hurt one another. Oh, yes, inadvertently, we step on feelings, but vary, vary rarely. The good and nice and kindness of our relationships absorb an occasional blip.

I have left some people behind … let them go. What I discovered is that appearances might have been friends, but it is easier to say you are friends, than be one. Friendships should make you feel better, not worse. I have been dumped by people that I thought i was friends with. Distance, timing, different roads traveled, and belief systems, sometimes just happen.

Women’s friendships seem to be different than men’s. I am not sure if they talk about the same thing as women friends talk about. I am not sure if they have penis talk or talk about whether they are getting forgetful or that they made a tasty casserole.

Oh, I have an orbit of friends that float around online. Are they friends? Not really. Not in the sense that they would show up at my door to help. But they are a community of people that make life more interesting and fun.

I think one of the hardest things in life is getting so old that most or all of your friends are gone. I have seen it happen.

But I also knew a woman who died nearing her 101st birthday and she had lots of friends. She was smart. She gathered friends 40-years her junior, and made herself loved by all ages. That was a talent and a gift.

The Real Housewives of Timbuktu might have money, fame and travel to exotic places, but are they real friends?

I don’t think so.

And that is where I come out ahead.

Susan

Bonus Time

Yesterday, a week ago, Nick thought he was dying.

I did, too.

But thank God and good doctors and support of his kids and caring neighbors, Nick lives to be quiet and then drop a zinger that makes people laugh.

He lived for another trip to Blowing Rock.

It has been a hot and cranky summer. Little rain, big water bills, and a rain dance or too, that involved a pool. I will not say if it were Nick or I, who did the pole dance. But I bet you could guess.

It was mountain type of day. Nick had rested all week and he was ready to see something different. Mountains. They have always been an elixir in our life. Some people love the beach. We love the mountains.

There was a buoyancy in the car that hadn’t been there for a long time. We played music. Nick didn’t even mind my opera. Pavarotti. Three Tenors. Me, screeching.

We didn’t stay long at Blowing Rock. I think we wanted to see if it was still there.

Oh gosh, there is my woodpecker. I love birds with long peckers.

I think I scared him with that remark. He flew back into the woods.

We walked just a bit in Blowing Rock and had to decide if we wanted to eat lunch in a restaurant or pick up a pizza from Mellow Mushroom and take it to the mountain lake that is covered in places, with water lilies, has a wide walking path, and makes you feel free and healthy.

We got the pizza and drove to the park. We ate by the car and thenNikc got his walking stick out that I bought him a few weeks ago at McDowellNature Preserve. I got out my walking sticks that I haven’t used since last summer.

And we hit the trail.

Nick has not been able to do this for a long time. His walking is mostly in shuffling steps. But since his episode last week, and treatment with strong antibiotics, he walks better. He still isn’t strong and he has to watch his balance, but he can move.

Hallelujah!

We walked toward what had been a fish hatcheries, but now, only has water and some crawdads.

Nick sat on benches or rock walls, to rest. I bopped along with my camera and found things to shoot.

We talked about a neat-o tree and the lilies and I pointed out things that others, without a camera, not see. That is the thing about taking photos … you look for what others might miss.

I played with settings and chatted-up a couple of passers-by.

We didn’t go far in distance, but we went an eternity away from where we were last weekend.

The drive home was delightful. Nick shut his eyes and rested and I drove along in silence. No opera. No lalalalala screeching from my throat.

It was great fun being a wife yesterday. Nick had a delightful time. Bonus time.

And now, I shall go make some scones, tend my diminishing garden, fold clothes and do whatever I have to do to live in gratitude.

Because we just never know.

Susan

La Ploop

It is a mountain morning here in Clover. Cool, clear and chipper.

The backyard and outside are inviting. If I try, I can imagine that I am in Cades Cove, one of my special places. It would be nice to be there, but I am content with being here. Today, I don’t want to run away from myself.

The birds are skirmishing and I want to tell them to settle down, things will be all right. They might not be what you expect or desire, but they will be fine.

Yes, both feet are under me. The darkness of recent events with Nick have passed. Other situations are still in flux, but they will have to figure themselves out without me sorting them out. I have tried, trust me, but it is time to step back and return to my own life and things that I can control.

Good Grumpy Old Men, I can sound like I am picking lint out of navels.

Life involves a certain degree of naval lint plucking, doesn’t it? You feel washed by other people’s problems and forget things like boundaries and the fact that each person makes his or her own decisions.

Living other people’s lives is exhausting. Sometimes, I have to figure out the difference between support and enabling.

Winston was looking for his buddy, Tucker, when I took him out. Tucker’s mom stepped in and took care of The Boy, when Nick decided on joy-riding in an ambulance and partaking of hospital cuisine.

I have wonderful neighbors. Thought I felt alone last Friday, yes, a week ago, today, I found out that that we weren’t. Offers to help day or night, have been givenIt made me feel so much better. Several delicious dinners have been provided. And words of comfort have flowed.

The leaves on the trees have stilled and the birds are quiet. That makes my thoughts go in a different direction.

The Boy has come out to the porch with his tennis ball. Now he is staring at me.

We are just being.

I read Brad Pitt was having a heck of a time with Angelina Jolie and I read that Ben Affleck stopped at Jack in the Box on his way to rehab. Dennis Shield, Bethenny Frankel’s on again off again boyfriend died of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.

Messy lives. Money. No money. Fame. No fame. Money. No money. Hearts are broken at all levels. Bad decisions are made. People treat people they love or loved, like shit.

There really is no figuring life out, is there? As soon as we think aha, something happens and we, say, “What the hollandaise?”

OH, there is Mr. Woodpecker. He excites me. And there he goes. Skittish. Must have had an emergency on his branch.

It is a random thought, but I hope I don’t outlive my mind.

I am trying to decide whether to give people who brought us dinner and sent treats, my homemade sals or chili sauce. I know they will get a card with one of my paintings.

Back to my neighbors. As you can imagine, Nick and I miss a lot of parties and things because he doesn’t feel real chipper. I think people understand that. But even though we aren’t able to make a lot of things, they make us feel that our presence is missed, and I think that is lovely.

There are 3 goldfinches at the feeder. Nick just came out to sit. And he left.

You know what got me though the last few days?

The little things. My hot tea. Checking my propagation bins. Figuring out where to move which plant to get better light. Dead-heading some flowers. Talking to my neighbors and seeing their eyes full of concern. Knowing that the kids are back in their own lives. Having lunch with my daughter-in-law and laughing about stupid stuff.

Yesterday, I made myself laugh. I decided, after listening to a French song, that French people don’t poop. The ploop. I must go la ploop. And eat a baguette.

My toes have straightened themselves out. For the time being. Oh, ploop, the ugly birds arrived in a group.

But I clapped and they are gone.

A week ago, I thought that life as I knew it had ended.

I love it whenI am wrong.

Susan

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

I really wanted Shirley Winters to drown in that movie, “The Poseidon Adventure.”

I am a pretty peaceful person, but there are some characters in movies and TV shows, that I just want to die.

There, I said it.

If I have to explain that I don’t really want that person dead, but the character dead, it is time to get off of the train.

I just like the title of that song. It is in effect at the moment. There’s got to be a morning after.

And there is.

Even as of yesterday, I thought, okay, garden time is over. I just looked at it with rather dead eyes and said, eh, where is the joy? Is it done for the season?

And then, when the bottom appeared to fall out of my life, I felt numb about the garden. Things were dying from heat and exhaustion.

And that is how I felt. I was in recovery mode for my back, and then, voila, the 48 hours portion of the program.

It rained last night. Only a quarter inch, but that brought things back to August life. I think plants like August about as much as I do.

Now, here is the deal.

I can either look at the 48 hours episode as another reason to dislike August. Look at it as poor us, look what we, (Nick) had to go through, or, I can say, aren’t we the lucky ones?

Nick still doesn’t feel “well”, but he is so much better. He jus drove The Boy, to school. He wanted to.

Oh, before I forget, thank you all for your wonderful prayers and stories in your comments. I read them all. I still don’t feel as thought I can answer each one, as it takes me back to a weird place that I am still trying to stabilize.

And oh,listen to this , two neighbors brought over dinner last night. I didn’t know that both were making dinner until it was probably too late to say no. But what fun it was to have two meals, and the thoughts that our friends wanted to help. Yummy.

But back to where I was trying to move forward.

The way I see it is, yes, we have lots of zigzags to deal with through this. Life doesn’t stop with other situations, but the key is, Nick is alive. He was carted home from the hospital, way better shape than he was bounced in. (He said the EMT ride was really bouncy)

As I sat in that hospital room, it didn’t escape me that people don’t always leave a hospital sitting up in a Subaru. Instead of coming to our house for barbecue, and thanksgiving, many families are sitting at tables or on sofas or in cars, making funeral arrangements.

So although August has its issues, this episode is not going to make it a land mark month.

Here is the question. What is the new next to normal? Doesn’t something most likely shift after something like this? Or do things go back to the way they were, and if that is the case, doesn’t that mean we didn’t learn form them.

I believe we must take something from every situation. It could be something positive, or it could be something that you have learned to deal with another situation in the future. The fact that we get through them, with our nerves a bundle and faith tested, must be seen as growth. It can be a growth of the spirit, faith, confidence, and learning how to do some mourning while we are alive.

We do mourn when we are alive, don’t we? Don’t many of us put ourselves in thoughts of how am I going to feel if a loved one dies? Haven’t you played that out?

I have. I think it is because I have this notion, that if I have it happen in my mind, it is practice, so I won’t be so stunned if and when it happens.

Really, doing so, for me, just causes moments of agony and grief. Is it that I am mourning the thought of loss?

You know, practicing?

It really is folly if you think about it. Nothing is going to prepare me, really prepare me for the death of a loved one.

We/I, have talked about being strong, rising to the occasion and acting brave. But I think loss of someone you love, will bring me to my knees, and there is nothing wrong with that.

As long as I learn how to get up.

I am back on my porch this morning. I didn’t come out here right away. I sort of made myself do it. I don’t want the summer season, my summer of gardening, to end on a kaboom. I wanted to face it.

I wanted to walk in the garden and look at the flowers and plants, bot living a dead and all stages in between, and know that we are all part of that plan.

Yesterday afternoon, I marveled at my two lemon plants that I am growing from seed. Each is about an inch and a half high. Fragile. They are learning how to live. I cut some other stems from plants and brought them into the house to see if I could make them grow. Seeing life start again, and again, and again, is important to me right now.

I suppose our time will come when our time comes. It most likely will come in a way that we might not have expected.

As I listen to a bird squawking loudly, I suspect he is saying, just go out and live you old buzzard. Flap you flabby wings and fly, Don’t get too close to the sun, but try to fly like you are on an eagle’s wings.

Susan

When Your Mind Runs Amok in a Crisis

Life is one weird taco salad.
 
I feel like life has been one of those “48 Hours” episodes. Except without commercials that bring in revenue or at least give you a bathroom break.
 
First of all, good news. On his second ride of the day … to the dump, Nick said that although he still feels sick, he thinks he has more strength than he did before. We guess that it is because this infection had been brewing longer than we thought. But those words were wonderful.
 
Last night as we were scrolling through Netflix for a movie, I blubbered up a bit. Out of the blue. So Nick asks, “What’s wrong?”
 
“I thought I was going to loose you,” to which he replied, “It didn’t do me any good, either.”
 
Yessirreebob.
 
Here is one of the things I learned.
 
Episodes like this are emotionally charged. I looked at nick on the gurney in the ER, his blood pressure really high, unable to move much, scared, filled with anxiety, and weak. He was afraid. I saw it on his face, in his eyes.
 
At that time, I was not in control of anything, except being there and trying to assure Nick that he would be all right. That involved a cool washcloth and constantly rubbing his head and arms. Those were familiar touches to him.
 
Other than that, what happened, what was found or happened, was in the hands of professionals, but also, people I didn’t know. Yes, it was in God’s hands, too. But in that moment, you are looking eyeball to eyeball with people who have to make decisions that can make a person live, or, well, go on a very long vacation to some part of eternity.
 
Backing up. One of the toughest things I had to decide was do I call the kids? When should I call the kids? Should they come? Or do I say that I am taking care of things?
 
Is this life or death or is this me playing or sounding the wolf howl? Am I over reacting?
 
What are the doctors saying with their eyes or body language? Is this that time that I have always dread, where it will be the end of our lives together? Really. That was what was in my head. And heart.
 
I didn’t cry in front of Nick. But when I went out of the cube and tried talking to my son or a nurse, my face and voice simply went there. And then I sucked it up and went back in and got that rag cool, again.
 
After it was determined what was wrong, and a course of treatment began, a certain part of the anxiety is lifted … somewhat. Even if the treatment worked, what were the physical and metal repercussions of this? What if Nick couldn’t walk, go to the restroom on his own, talk, etc?
 
I have talked about time. Aging. Tim. Aging. Life.
 
In moments lie these, time, instant time, the time of the moment and future time, hit you all at once. People aren’t kept in a hospital until they fully recover, or not. They are sent home before your mind has caught up with what has happened.
 
My kids saw me at my weakest. I am not weak. But I can be weak. And I hated them seeing me be old and weird and sort of foppish. I really hated that. Would I go down in their estimation? Would they think, “Oh my God, look at what we are going to have to deal with?”
 
Would they think that all I would do is look at them and cry?
 
It isn’t that I had nick dead and buried, but as i drove in the dark to the ER, I thought, what if this is it? And what if I am going to be left alone in the dark of the night?
 
My dear daughter said that she would stay with Nick the first night. She knew I was exhausted. But I said, no. When she said, again, that she would do it, I said, “I don’t want to go home to the house without Nick.”
 
In the layers of my concern, I thought about how the kids had busy lives and they dropped them to come down and I felt so torn about that. Life moves on for everyone, sick, dying, dead or alive. The all had commitments. Why couldn’t I just handle this on my own?
 
I had thought that if things had gone the other way, and Nick didn’t make it, and I had said don’t come, it will be all right, would they be upset with me? Then I thought, how many times can I call wolf?
 
I swear, so many times I end up saying, well, dad has Parkinson’s or he has cancer, or I have cancer or I can’t see well or yada, yada? Will they wish we would just drop so they wouldn’t have to deal with aging parents?
 
I know that some of my thinking is ridiculous, but that is how I am. It is who I am.
 
Fortunately, we dodged a bullet. Someday, it won’t be so.
 
I am not out of my emotional woods yet. I was exhausted yesterday. On fumes. But I cleaned and went around like it was just another day.
 
And it was. And so will today be.
 
I am at my desk right now. No more screened porch for the time being. That reminds me of the past. I want to use this episode to change course a bit.
 
What good came out of this is that my kids still seem to be speaking to me. They are back in their own lives, flying here, there, teaching kids, living their lives. I have wonderful neighbors who care, really care, and have told me that 24-7, they are there if we need them. I think they really mean it!
 
Nick is up. I just heard him. I better go and see how he is doing.
 
I will let you know.
 
Susan

When Life Changes in An Instant

You think about it, but try to get such thoughts out of your mind. Middle of the night calls or emergencies.

On Friday morning at 3:30 a.m., Nick had to use the restroom. but he couldn’t. He couldn’t lift his body up off of the bed. He had no strength, was dazed, yet needed to go. He asked me to help him. I tried to lift him and finally, got him to sort of sit up. But it took all of my might. He couldn’t stand for a moment, but then leaned on me to get up, took a few really wonky steps … he didn’t make it to the restroom, and I could barely get him back on the bed.

“I’m going to call 911, I said.”

“No,wait a bit,” which meant, no, don’t do that.

I looked at him and listened to him for about 30 seconds and said, “I’m calling.”

Winston was on the bed sleeping.

I unlocked the front door, threw some clothes on ad stayed with Nick. He just couldn’t move and was getting worse.

After the ambulance arrived, I grabbed his medicine. I forgot about his medical cards.

Winston was excited to see the EMTs.

The EMTs and I talked about which ER to take him. In Cincinnati, I would have known. Down here, no.

They mentioned one that was close. Not an in-patient hospital, but the said he would be transferred to a hospital from there, if necessary.

I had to make decisions of whether to call the kids or someone. I called my son who lives in town. I had to have someone to stop me from feeling that I had been sling spotted into an orbit of no return.

I watched Nick be wheeled out on the gurney, unable to control his muscles and with no strength. Was it the Parkinson’s, a stroke, what?

I didn’t even remember getting to the ER, but on the way, I did think, geese, what are all of these people doing on the road.

At the ER, I got in to see Nick right away. He was scared. HIs blood pressure very high He really couldn’t talk. At that point, my son came. I called one of my daughters in Ohio and my son in Ohio. I didn’t call our youngest daughter because because I wanted to know what we were detailing with and it was the middle of the night, and I feared she would go to pieces. Even in an emergency, you have to think, think, think of how this will play out with your family.

A woman came into the ER. I said, “Do you know if the doctor has seen him?”

“I am the doctor,” she said.

I felt like an ass assuming it would be a man. Middle of the night thinking.

She said that she noticed what she thought was cellulitis on his lover leg. She bowed me how large of an area it was, how red and how hot. I had not seen it and Nick had not mentioned anything.

The last couple of days he said that he didn’t feel well, and he laid down to rest more. He also didn’t eat much. I told him he probably had the bug I had earlier in the week.

Me and my “bugs’. That is what I call an everything I get that is just a malaise, nausea, sleepiness, whatever.

They drew lots of blood and hooked him up to an IV with fluids. The doctor said he might have beginning sepsis.

Now, I am pretty knowledgeable on medical things. I have always had an interest and read lots of medical material. But I really didn’t know much about cellulitis, except it was a inflammation of the skin. Sepsis, was never on my horizon.

They arranged to send NIck to a hospital. The one that was closest was full. The next was Downton.

Let me backtrack. When I told my son that dad was sick and I had called ER, I asked if he could call his neighbor and friend who is a doctor. I hated being unconnected down here. I wanted and needed a point person for Nick so that he wouldn’t get lost in the system.

While they were assessing Nick,my son was on the phone with his friend who was working at a downtown hospital. He told Benhe would arrange a bed and that if we wanted, he would oversee Nick’s care and bring in the specialists, if necessary. My relief was great.

Nick was transported to the hospital, which was towards Uptown and a 40 minute drive.

As I drove, I felt scared and as if my life was collapsing. Nick and my family are my life, as they are many of us.

My daughter called and said she would be on a 1 o’clock flight.

Soon after we got to the hospital, my son’s doctor friend was in Nick’s room, examining him.

Although weaker from Parkinson’s, Nick has always sustained a certain degree of strength, fortitude and determination. Even through cancer and radiation and heavy duty chemo, he was strong.

But now?

The doctor suspected it was the cellulitis that might be beginning stage of sepsis, but the blood test results took 48 hours. But he was going to treat him as if he had it, anyway, because the signs were there.

Nick was put on two very strong antibiotics. He moaned and couldn’t get comfortable and was restless and filled with anxiety.

He was hot. The only thing that soothed him was if I rubbed his head and arms with a cool rag. So that is what I did.

A neurologist came and examined Nick and said he didn’t see signs of a stroke. He thought, as did the other doctor, that the infection had been brewing for a while and had taken over Nick’s system and caused the Parkinson’s to really go to town. They also believed that after the infection was taken care of, there was a good chance that Nick would return pretty close to his Parkinso’s level as before. Hopefully.

That is when I called my youngest daughter. Although upset and scared, she handled the news because we had information.

Our daughter who arrived and came to the hospital, saw Nick and passed what she saw onto her brother in Ohio. He decided that he should come down.

It is hard not to pretend not to be a basket case. I was very worried about NIck. I was in turmoil because I wasn’t sure how much I was going to have to handle. Worst case scenarios went through my mind that hadn’t had good sleep. I saw the cup as half empty and cracking.

Sleep that night was pretty much nonexistent as the cot they had was brought in from the Tower of London Department of Torture.

But I didn’t want to leave Nick. And it is good I didn’t. He needed my reassurance and cool rag rubs. My word, every hour the were drawing bloodd and taking vitals and things beeped and were just a mess.

I was officially loopy from lack of sleep.

When I have sleep, I can deal, am not a wimp and can’t make decisions. But I was glad my kids were here to help figure things out and to reassure me. I felt weak and I hate that. It is so hard to see Nick in such shape. But my kids? They stepped up. There was nothing but love in that hospital room.

It really bothered me that they saw me so wimpy and scared. And, I was a mess. I was going to wash my hair the morning Nick got sick. I looked like hell.

The amazing thing is, the antibiotics worked fast. Nick’s numbers returned to normal, quickly, including his blood pressure. He still felt awful, but he began to understand what he had and that treatment was being done.

The next night, even Nick told me to go get sleep. Our son said he would stay all night. He also said he could sleep anywhere, so I thought that cot wouldn’t bother him.

My daughter and I went home. She was exhausted and stressed and wonderful. Her life is busy, yet, she dropped everything to be here to help. She got pizza and I took a much needed shower and went to bed.

Nick’s numbers had improved so much that he was going to be released on Sunday. I was still not sure how this would play out. What if Nick couldn’t walk or make it to the bathroom? Over a couple of nights, things had changed. Was I strong enough? Where would I get help? What if I had to lift him, which I can’t do?

Fortunately, on Saturday afternoon, the physical therapist came. Nick could get up. He walked with a walker, down the hall. He went to the restroom. WEak and he needed some assistance. But he did it.

My stomach and heart felt relief.The what ifs left my head when I was told that the doctor had ordered home health assistance. People would come and check on Nick and his progress and provide physical therapy.

It turned everything around. The kids from Ohio rearranged their flights to go home Sunday evening, after we got Nick released, home and settled.

Nick had started bossing me around, so I knew things might return to close next to normal, or at least, doable.

As soon as we got home, the three kids and and my daughter-in-law and tewo of our grandkids came to the house. One had bought barbecue. Nick ate a bit but was weak, tired and sick. He went to bed but said visitors were welcome.

You know, there was a time during this when I thought, God, what have we done? I knew it was stupid, but as I said, I was exhausted.

The word had gotten out that Nick was sick. I heard from some friends and wonderful neighbors. Actually, I forgot to mention that Winston was well taken care of by my neighbor and friend, next door, who has a dog that Winston likes. Nick and I were so worried about The Boy, too.

By 3:30, yesterday, my two Ohio children left for the airport. They were on the same airplane. They had to go back to their lives. I couldn’t get the words out to say goodby. My eyes did that mother thing, you know, throwing tears. As hard as this time had been, and with our future still uncertain, good came out of this. To see how good my family is, how strong they are, and how much they have our backs, was the good that come out of this. That, in itself, made me stronger.

We missed our youngest daughter, but she was on the phone with us and with her dad in spirit. She told me that Friday was the first night that she didn’t have her dad tell her he loved her.

I am emotionally a physically wiped,but boy, am I counting my blessings. This morning, I took NIck with me to drop Winston off to get groomed, and then I took him with me to the dump. I certainly know how to show Nick a good time.

I allow steamed and scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen this morning. Though pooped, I have nervous energy.

But I am once again on the screened porch, looking at things differently. It is weird. Right now the garden doesn’t matter. The two cracked tiles in the bathroom I found this morning suck, but are not to be dealt with right now.

All that matters is Nick’s health, love and knowing that Nick and I planted the seeds for some really fine people. Not bad, huh?

And how was your weekend?

Susan

I don’t drive at night, but I did then. My mind was

The Ides of August

A bit of death is in the air.

August does it to me. Most every year, the month of August brings a sullen, confused time into my life … into my state of mind.

This year, I lasted about a week into August before it really hit me. I am done with summer. Worn out from digging, bending, schlepping, lifting and tending the garden. Even the heat is different.

Yesterday, afternoon, I walked outside to try to get enthusiastic about something. I was hoping to feel the magic of the garden.

I looked around my yard. I walked to the wildflower garden, all spent from heat and exhaustion. Their bright colors had transpired to gray. Their heads, once bonnets of beauty, looked like me when I need to have my hair colored. Their posture was like mine, too. Bent.

The hydrangeas, which had been transplanted this year, and had been warding off the fungus, showed signs of weakness.

After. Few minutes, I walked into the house, noting that their was no air to breathe outside.

The garden had taken a toll on my body. I know, I know, I did it to myself. No one told me to haul bags of pea gravel, lift it and put it around. I didn’t have a gun at my head switch someone saying, dig deep into this clay to land this spires.

No, I was my own garden warden. The vision was strong. The body did most of what was asked. And now, it was revolting, telling me that it was time to rest.

There are times when I dance as fast as I can. I get a project, a vision in my mind and I go for it. I do what it takes for as long as I can.

Even if it involves trips to an orthopedic doctor and MRIs and. Probably, physical therapy.

Last week was also the week before my 6-month mammogram and visit with the surgeon. My first check-up since I was declared cancer free. And I had been cancer-free. Once the surgeon had said those words, after surgery and before radiation, I lived my life free of cancer. I simply went on.

The funny thing about many kinds of cancer is that you feel fine and dandy, even though a group of cells are gathering to form a convention of attackers, often you don’t know it. It is like walking in your yard, as you always do, but this time, you look at the grass and see a copperhead. Yikes. But you get rid of the copperhead and move on, perhaps with a slower speed because you realize that you need to slow down and feel life, or you speed up things because you hear tick-tock, tick-tock.

For me, it wasn’t so much the episode with cancer … it is age. No matter how much I want to believe that age is just a number … for me, it isn’t. It is trying to balance attitude, looks and body. I rarely have them all in sync.

And August is my month when I feel everything shift. It is my of uncertainty, a bit of a foggy head and a sense of loss … ad transition.

I see photos of my grandchildren heading back to school. A couple of days ago, I got a phi tire of my two oldest granddaughters standing by each other. One is a senior and one is a freshman. The senior was going to drive the freshman to high school. I couldn’t help but get misty.

It is so difficult for me to put my arms around the fact that one of my sons will have a daughter in college next year.

I guess that August is a melancholy month for me. The air even shifts. What was simply hot and humid, become stifling. The sounds of outside are different. The nights are loud with a cacophony of insects and their hallelujah chorus. And even now, as I sit on the screens porch, the sounds of insects drone, not allowing silence of any kind.

I tend to craw my way through August, waiting for it to end. If I acknowledge and embrace this weird sense that I feel, I can almost laugh at it. But mostly, I don’t think it is very funny.

The good news is that when September arrives, I have figured out my next chapter. I have let my mind and body regroup. At this moment, I am uncertain about what my next act on life’s stage will be. Will I continue to write and allow people to see some of the workings of my mind and heart, or will I hang that up? What will I do to move my life and thoughts forward? Or do I have to look at life that way?

There is something good that comes out of putting one’s shovel down for a while. Breathing deeply and taking stock. Maybe that is what August is about? Perhaps the discomfort and uncertainty of and uncomfortable feeling of this month is part of the growing process. It is a realization of the seasons. Seasons change. So must I.

But for now, I think I will rest.

Susan

PS. Winston feels this way, too.


Green Is Not My Best Color

It’s not an attractive color for me … green.

Especially, when it is caused by that green dye of a bit of envy.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel all that great. A summer bug, plus, my bones, joints, back, hips and leg, were revolting from what I have made them do this summer. My eyes were blurry, too, and I was out of sorts and just felt puny It was the second day of such nonsense.

But, I went to Lowes in the morning and nought big cement stones, came home, lugged them out of the wagon, and placed them where I had raked up pea gravel. I need them to make little spots for my two little chairs I had bought to sit by the garden. Unfortunately, my good buy chairs, had pointy feet,and if you sat in them, you went down through the pea gravel and into the dirt. Way down. Hence, the stones.

It worked. I covered the stones with pea gravel and placed the chairs on them and tested each one. Tick that box.

I bought two bags of black mulch that I wanted to spread around my 4 spires discount bushes that I had planted,but I didn’t have the energy and the sun was beating down and the humidity was oppressive.

Normally, I would push myself. But I couldn’t. I went into the house, took a shower and washed my hair and then did something that I don’t do … put some pajamas on, signed up for the PBS Passport and watched “The Great British Baking Show” for a couple of hours. I had no ppm and not only that, my body hurt.

I laughed when I thought, “Gardening is good for you.”

Uh-huh. Tell that to my back and bod.

In the afternoon, after watching John, a young British law student, win the contest, I went and sat on the screened porch, and looked at magazines.

I used to love magazine, but then my eyes went bad, so I had some years when I didn’t subscribe. I still don’t read that well off of paper, but I love to look at pictures, and will hone in on some articles or recipes.

“Southern Living” is one of my favorite magazines, as is “Southern Lady.”

I picked up the “Southern Living” and perused it. There is something fun about flipping the pages of a lovely magazine. I do anticipate finding something that I enjoy, on the next page.

That is when I came across som lovely pictures of gardens. I looked at the article. It was written by Francis Mayes, the author of “Under The Tuscan Sun.” Nick and I had seen her speak at an North Carolina event January, before last.

At first, I thought the article was about her. But Mayes turned out to be the author. The piece was about her home and the 30 acres she and her husband purchased in North Carolina.

That is when I noticed my skin turning green. It turned a deeper green as I continued to read.

Mayes’ house has beautiful gardens. Many were there when she bought the place. They were well taken care of, mature … just plain beautiful. I read how she had art shows at her place and had a nifty skeletal greenhouse structure where her artist friends hung their work. She mentioned the large number of people who would come and have drinks and look and buy art.

Forest green.

Her house had a wonderful look. It had been there a long, long time and had history, along with numerous outbuildings. One had been converted to a writing place and artist’s studio.

Double forest green.

Her husband gave her a chain saw for their anniversary.

Triple green.

And she had a bunch of workers to come in with big equipment to clean out and area that was towards the river at the back of their property.

I looked up. I tried to move my aching bones. Little twitchy impulses came to my legs, again. I think they are coming from a goofy nerve in my back. When I did get up, my hip caught. I walked like a question mark.

I saw a photo of Mayes, walking on a path by her glorious garden. Shedin’t look like Shrek, as I do. She didn’t have a bead of perspiration, much less. Sweat water-falling down her face.

I bet she didn’t stink … didn’t need a shower … and her body wasn’t revolting.

Gracious, I wasn’t. It would have been better if I hadn’t felt like I’d beaten hit by a rampaging flower cart.

But there I was, feeling puny, soaking in green envy.

Her writing had afforded her with a beautiful garden and a place I would love. By George, even a movie was made from her writing. People went on pilgrimages to Tuscany and women dreamed of a romantic life abroad. I know that when I was in Tuscany, in the town of Cortona, I thought of that book and movie and Mayes as I walked the cobbled streets.

For a moment, I felt a failure-ish feeling. I can do that to myself … especially if I am not feeling well.

The green color washed away as my thoughts changed. I made them change because I knew that kind of thinking was not in my best interest. Human? Yes. But by now, I should know better.

I immediately thought of Nick and my kids and grandkids and what Nick and I have created … given the world … four wonderful humans, who are giving, generous, kind and really do care about others.

They are my garden. They are the fruits of my labor, (literally).

Today, I go to the orthopedic doctor. I am sure he will look at me like I am an idiot as I tell him that I lifetime stones and dig and lift clay and big plants and bend over and weed and then sit slumped in a recliner.

Yep, some of this is self-inflicted.

So, around 1:30, I will wear anything but green, and go and complain to someone who is paid to listen and help me put things back into whack.

And then, when I get home, I will begin to write a book called, “Under The Compost Pile.”

It should be a best seller.

Susan

My lemon seed has sprouted!   My African violets are lovely and I am going to try to sprout an avocado seed and plant more lemon seeds.