Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Water of life

No, I'm not talking about whiskey, Scottish or Irish or whatever.
I'm writing about how I really, really don't like being wet.

This spring, we have been living with deluges of rain. At least every other day, here in Central New Jersey, the weather has been soggy, sometimes foggy, but annoyingly wet. 

Okay, it isn't as if I have a chance of melting if I go out in the rain. Far from it. (If it could happen, brother, I'd be standing outside right now, dissolving in the damp.)

But, I don't like being wet. 
Showering every day is a chore for me. Just stepping into the shower, that first step, pains me mentally. I have to get up the gumption to step into the shower, and I do every day voluntarily, because being clean is important.
However, diving into a pool, our pool, is sheer insanity.
The five times I have been in our swimming pool, I have eased in slowly...avoiding all splashing, not going in so my hair gets wet. The water, even if the day is scorching and the pool water is cool, gives me the creeps.

When I was young, we'd take any chance we had to go to Lake Hopatcong or the pool at Coddington Park in Bound Brook or any chance to go swimming with friends or relatives. My father found an old swimming hole somewhere in probably Hillsborough...it is probably well developed by now...but it was dirty water, full of other kids...even had a rope hanging off an ancient tree. We went there several times, crowded as it was, because it was a place to cool off.
Closer than Lake Hopatcong.
Closer than the Atlantic Ocean.

Do not get me wrong. I love the ocean. I can sit and watch the waves for hours on end. I just have no desire to stand in it and get bashed about by waves.

I used to love watching surfers try to ride their boards in the skimpy Lavalette waves. Cute guys, obviously.

But being dragged under, eating sand, getting feet tickled by weird fish and crabs...not me.



So, if I tell you how important the ocean is to me, you might snicker and think I am a fraud.
I like trees, but I don't like camping in deserted forests.
I like the smell of hay, but I don't want to live on a farm or work on one.

Just knowing the ocean is there, around my coastline, is fine. Knowing that I can get clean in a shower is also fine.
Remembering a kid with a bloodsucker attached to his skinny chest while swimming in a place somewhere in the nearby hills, is disturbing. 
Maybe that's why I don't dive in. Maybe that's part of my chickenshit psyche. Who knows.

Maybe, and this is just a perhaps, I have cat DNA.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

All in a name

While talking with daughter #2 last night, I remembered something from way back in my life that I thought she'd get a kick out of hearing. She was rather down in the dumps, but I didn't think this little tale would send her into paroxysms of laughter. 
It did.

Okay. Going back to first grade, start of 1955. Mrs. Dutcher's class.We were learning how to sound out letters, phonetically. She would tap her pointer at the letter of the alphabet that ran across the front of the classroom and sound it out for us. A, well that was uh, but different, she'd get to that later. B, that was buh. C was cuh, D was duh...so on and so forth.
It was enough sounding for us to be able to recognize the sound of CAT. Simple words. But an adventure for me. I had always wondered what the letters I could write sounded like. Eager to learn to read.

Once we had enough sounds associated with letters, the simple words began. We'd get out our Puzzle Pages and round tip scissors and that inevitable blob of paste on yellow math paper and proceed to cut out the answers to the pictures and paste them onto the page with gobs of paste. The pages, when done, would curl and never really dry out. It was up to Mrs. Dutcher to check them off into her grade book. I don't remember if there was a grade, just a check or check minus. I don't remember whether kids ever got these things wrong because I never did.

Anyway, the day came when we were divided into three reading groups. Red, Blue and Yellow. We got strips of construction paper as bookmarks in our appropriate colors. Red was the highest group.
So on down the line. 

Then, joy of joys, we got to open our readers and find the adventures of Dick, Jane, Sally, Tim and Spot.

Heaven. I could read their rather stilted little adventures and what was most important of all, I was reading. Sounding out the words was easy since we knew the Buh, Cuh, Duh, Eff, Gee...all those.

But, now here is where I made Karyn laugh.

That first day, filled with enthusiasm and pride, I realized that if I could read it, I could write words. So. This is the gnarly part.

There was this older kid down the street who I thought was incredibly handsome. Older than I was by 6 years, I had an instant crush on him. So, now that I knew how to read, I decided to write his name on a torn out piece of white construction paper, so I did.
Slipped it into the corner of my bureau mirror and there it remained for a long time.

The guy's name was DICK. I printed it carefully and left it in the mirror so that every day I could look at it and pine in my 6 year old way. He was a nice kid. The whole family was nice. Nobody ever noticed that slip of paper.

So, when I told this to the daughter, she went nuts, laughing her head off. See, she never got to read about Dick and Jane and Sally.
I don't know what she read, but it wasn't about that crew.

I had to laugh, myself, at her laughter, not the memory of that Dick.

After she stopped laughing with a hiccup, I mused...funny, I've been writing about Dick for years now.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

In all seriousness

May 30, 2009, I had my last chemo treatment for lymphoma. It was stage 4, which meant that one of the lymph glands above the waist showed signs while the others, below, did also. But I was encouraged by my doctor. She said, "We can cure that."

The first chemo treatment took place on New Year's Eve, 2008. It lasted 13 hours because the drip was deliberately slow to see how I would handle it. I did fine until my dear husband insisted I come home later that day because he was afraid of me being in the hospital where there were so many diseases running around. Not his words, mine. I think he just wanted me around because I'd been in hospital for 9 days already.
I sincerely doubt you can catch cancer in a hospital, but I went home.

Next morning saw me puking into the toilet.
Next day, I got some sort of meds that prevented that from happening again. As I recall, they were extremely expensive, as were all the meds I had to take. God granted us good insurance through my husband's job.

What followed were many, many trips to doctors. Even dentists. The pharmacists were so lovely and always had my meds ready for whoever picked them up. The doctors never made me wait. The nurses who installed the chemo drugs into the port on my chest were so kind and considerate, always. My doctors were wonderful.

But I wanted to write this about what and who really saw me through this ordeal. Six months of intensive poisons pumped through my body. 

I smelled bad. I tasted nothing. (Chocolate was dirt to my tastebuds.) Prednisone made me catch on fire. My hair, my long hair, came out in clumps and I cried more over that than how sick I felt. Husband eventually shaved my head and I cried some more. How could he sleep in the same bed with this wretched woman?

He did. He was still working, yet he came home to feed me and sort of keep things tidy. My younger daughter cooked and waited on me. They brought me cold watermelon chunks and tried different things I might be able to eat.
I lost 70 pounds.
I was on my way to wraithdom.

Older daughter was still in college. I think she was so afraid of me that she didn't come home much, but that was okay. I understood her personality isn't the same as her sister's.

My mother and brother came to see me, but frankly, I didn't want their germs. Brother brought his dog to see me since I wanted to see another living thing. Brother #1 called frequently, as I remember. They were supposed to. They were family!

But you know what I think helped me most?
My friends.
I had visitors, plenty of them.
They brought food. They offered to help. They tolerated my condition and they prayed for me.
That may have been what helped most.

I could never thank them enough. I never will be able to. 

After my last chemo, when the cancer was not showing, they threw me a party.

You reading this cannot possibly know how very much all their good wishes meant to me. Who was I? I wasn't anyone special. I was their friend and, thank God, they were mine.

As the anniversary rolled around this year, 10 years have passed from all that horror. Let me tell you, readers, it was horror! When I dwell on what happened, when I think of the body parts that changed because of the life-saving poisons, I get melancholy. I try to put it out of my mind, but can't. Not really.

Look. If you know someone who is sick, do something. Send notes if they won't see you. Call. Ask if there is anything you can do to help out. Make food for the family. (Pauline, you are the best!) Walk their dog, take them to treatments, listen to the doctors for them if you can because someone on chemo or any heavy meds often gets blurry in the mind.

Don't expect anything from the sick person, but don't stop praying.

Your kindness may just save a life.


 Top: Halloween 2009. Hair coming in.
Right: Good buddy Sally who wrote a song for me and Nurse Practitioner Jennifer who found the cancer, both times.
Left: At the remission party. The lady in red has since died of some horrid cancer. The woman in pink brought me liquid protein to boost my depleted stores. Woman in black came all the way from PA to celebrate. Man in back is currently in nursing home. 

Me, Halloween, year after it was all over. Note return of the hair.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Take Good Care of My Baby

Listened to the words today.

He's a putz.

He cheated of his girlfriend, she leaves him for some other guy, he begs the guy to take good care of her, give her this and that, and if the other guy finds out that he really doesn't love her, Bobby Vee suggests this guy send her back home to him.

Putz.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Dysmorphia

Skinny people think they are too fat.
Fat people think and know they are fat.
Some people think their heads are too big. Some people dislike the way their limbs look.

Some people hate their faces, wanting to be beautiful.

Some beautiful people think they could be more beautiful than they are.


It starts on the inside, folks!


Beauty is as beauty does.

Thank you, Jimmy Dodd.

Recently I got braces on my teeth again. I had them from fifth grade to freshman year in college. My teeth came out okay, just not perfect, but they lasted for a long time, until about two years ago.
After the chemo, all sorts of things changed in my body.

My hair did grow back, which is a plus, though hair in other parts of my body did not, which meant I didn't need to shave my legs any more.
My hands get numb, mostly in the little and ring fingers, both of 'em.
My feet, well, they're numb most of the time.

I have no idea what my guts are doing. I hope they're all right, but I think some of them aren't functioning the way they should.

As I age, I find I'm getting bumps in my skin...not warts or moles, just little bumps. Grandma Lefko used to refer to them as "sand". Thanks, Gram. It works for me, too.

Now, I am 70 years old. In my mind, I am still mid 20s, but that doesn't count. I can expect certain changes, and though I don't welcome them, they cannot be denied.
My brain functions only when pressed...editing is good, not so good remembering what we ate while on vacation I don't even remember going on.

Faces of people I know sometimes slip through.
I call most people sweetie or honey or kiddo or babe to cover.

Dear GOD, don't let me be falling into senility or ALZ!

If I die soon, I'd like it to be with most of my faculties intact. What's left of them, that is.


One of the best photos of me and my parents. I was 28 and that was my wedding dress.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

From the back of my mind

This came to me today.

When I was a wee wee tot,
Mommy bought me a weewee pot.
Now I weewee quite a lot
In my little weewee pot.

What causes these memories?

Last week, I called my older brother to sing a line from a song from back in the 50s...Honeycomb. I don't remember the singer, but Jack liked the song for some reason.

In these early days of 45 records, they weren't always pressed well and as a result, had parts that skipped.

This record of his had a terrible skip...

So I got me a girl and I kissed her again, and then, Oh, Lordy, well I'd do it all again do it all again do it all again do it all again

This went on until you touched the needle arm and moved it past the skip.

So I called Jack and sang it to him and he laughed at the memory.

I guess CDs don't have skips. Nobody really uses vinyl, not when it doesn't fit into your car or that thing you upload songs into and then play them while you jog or wash dishes or study.

Time to remember air raid shelters, bomb shelters, Sputnik, Korea, death of the last Confederate soldier...and I don't particularly want to do it all again....

https://youtu.be/iulmZAz8XfY