Monthly Archives: May 2012

NIGHT THOUGHTS

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It’s 4;30am and I can’t sleep.  I am at a client’s home, on a cot in the living room listening to the sounds of a waking city.  The birds have started their morning calls….the original “Twitter”.   I hear cars out on Hwy 53 and I wonder if they are headed home or on their way to a job.   Just think, each person in each car has a life story and a history.  They have most likely experienced some pain in their life and some great joy (hopefully).  They have loved and been loved (hopefully).   They are full of hopes and dreams.  They want what most of us want.  To be loved and to be needed.

My  job is not at all glamorous nor well paying.  I do the most mundane of tasks.  No one will ever envy me or ask for my autograph.  I am pretty low on the totem pole of desirable careers.  But, I have the best job in the world for me.  Every time I come to my client’s home, I make a difference in their life.   Me, Robyn from the Park, I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  Nope, I’m not saving the world, or discovering cures for diseases but I am easing the burden of someone who needs help.  For a little while, I carry that burden for them.  Their life is easier for a while and sometimes I make a small lasting dent in a life.  Tell me dear reader, how can you put a price on that?   And the beautiful thing about this is, it’s just not me out there.  There are probably millions of loving caregivers and homemakers out there today, making a difference in someone’s life.   I only hope that all of them feel the joy and the humility of being chosen to do this work as I do.

No, there will never be a movie or a book written about us but who cares.  We have the knowledge that we are changing lives, one person at a time. There is no accolade greater than this:  I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Do you?

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HOT FLASH HELL OR I WAS A WALKING NUCLEAR REACTOR

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If you aren’t experiencing the joys of hot flashes then this blog isn’t going to interest you.  It’s like someone trying to explain being pregnant.  If you ain’t then there isn’t anyway you can relate.   And if you are in perimenopause (or as those of us who have misplaced our minds like to call it-mentalpause) you may not wish to read what you are in for.  Live in denial as long as you can.  Enjoy your sweat-free living cause honey, once you hit Hot Flash Hell you ain’t gonna have a stain-free shirt to your name.  And sweaters?  Wear em if ya got em cause just looking at them in a catalog is enough to start a tsunami of sweat just a’rollin down your back.

When I was young and foolish, I remember hearing older women talk about the horrors of hot flashes and sudden mustache growth and I would always think that they would never happen to me.   I would read up on it and take it in stride and it would be no big deal.  Oh, the innocence of youth.  I was in my early fifties and thought that I had escaped Hot Flash Hell when one day I felt this sudden “heat” overtake my head and I could literally feel water squirt out of the pores on my scalp!  Within three seconds water was running down the sides of my face….it was like my scalp just peed.  The heat was unbelievable.  It was unlike anything I had ever experienced.   Thankfully it only lasted 20 seconds or so but I knew I had just had an encounter with the demon flash.  From then on, I never knew when I would become possessed and would evolve into a human fire hydrant.   Clothing with sleeves became my enemy.  I was therefore stuck between a rock and a hard spot as my upper arms had taken the shape of wings and I needed sleeves to tuck the excess skin into.  It became a battle between vanity and sanity.  I now have a whole wardrobe of sleeveless shirts and have perfected life with arms glued to my sides.    To make matters even worse, my job takes me into high rise apartments of the elderly where the average temperature year round is 86.   And they like to keep their windows shut to keep out the drafts.  (At what age do we lose our body heat  and have to have the furnace running in the middle of summer?)

I am one of the lucky ones as I don’t have them too many times during the day and the ones at night usually are around my neck and chest.  Tho there have been times that I have leapt out of bed sure that this time the dream of having to find a bathroom  was all too real only to realize that I had had night sweats.  Whew…dodged that Depends bullet for now.    I think the only difference between night sweats and hot flashes is the inner heat.   With night sweats you might wake up wet but cold.  Either way a full night’s sleep without heat and water and arm/hand numbness and snoring so loud you wake yourself up, is just a dream in itself.  No wonder the elderly tell you they only sleep a few hours a night….their bodies are too dang active breaking down!!

WARPED….GOOD FOR SPEED NOT FOR FAMILIES

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I come from a warped family.  Some folks have alcohol issues in their families.  Some have abuse issues.  I have warped relative issues.  My first memories of this familial malady was when I was small and I would stay overnight at my grandparents.  These were my mom’s folks.   My grandfather was quite normal, a bit on the gruff side, but not really quirky unless he was playing poker with the men folk in the basement.  Family lore has it that you could always tell when grandpa had a good hand cause he would let his cigarette dangle out of his mouth and somehow still suck on it madly.  And should anyone speak or pause to take a drink, he would yell out, “Are you here to play cards or to drink\eat\talk?”  My grandmother on the other hand, was delightfully kooky.  She was your typical housewife of the fifties.  Housedress, hose, apron, dust rag in hand, never learned to drive, not many interests outside of her home and family,  you get the picture.  Typical until it came to her fear of someone breaking in at night.  They lived in a downtown neighborhood, across the street from a big park and the houses were right next to another.  On more than one occasion, grandma awoke to someone walking across her roof in front of her bedroom windows so I suppose the idea that someone might try to get in wasn’t too far-fetched.  So every night, she would place butter knives in the space between the door and the frame and place tin foil in the little windows of the doors and would check to make sure the basement door was locked in case someone broke into the basement thru the small windows.  Funny thing was at that time not only was my grandfather still alive and kicking but I had two grown uncles, a great-aunt and an older teen aunt all living there too!  Talk about safety in numbers…. (I gotta tell ya tho, I still to this day have nightmares about being there and someone breaking in). My grandma’s sister lived there also as she was never married.  She and my teenage aunt had to share not only a bedroom but also a bed.  Can you imagine your teenage daughter sharing her bed with a woman in her 60’s?  Not that my aunt was a saint.  Ha!  I can remember her having some hissy fits over something my great -aunt had said or done.  And guess where I slept?  Right between the two of them…in a double bed.  And I ground my teeth at night and I had to have the hall light on.  I’m sure both aunts must have hated when I stayed overnight.  Grandma would also get these urges to remodel and instead of waiting for Grandpa or one of my two uncles that still lived at home  to do it, she would take a sledgehammer and whack holes in the walls.  I’m pretty sure she had no idea if the wall she was attempting to alter was a load bearing wall  and shouldn’t be whacked at.  All Grandma knew was she wanted it down  and down it was going to go.   She must have had nerves of steel cause Grandpa wasn’t all too pleased when he got home from work and there was a big hole in the wall or in some cases, no wall at all.  Grandma was the one who did all the lawn mowing.  I can still see her in her housedress mowing her lawns early in the morning using a push mower.  She didn’t get a power  mower until she was in her late seventies and then promptly cut off a couple of fingers trying to get a clump of grass out from the mower.  By that time it was just her and her older sister living there and she had the presence of mind to have her sister call 911 while she dug around for her fingers!

There was never a dull moment at Grandma’s.  It was always full of people.  My aunt always had a group of friends hanging around and everyone of them called my Grandma, “Ma”.  She fed them and treated them as her own.  Since I was there a lot, my poor aunt had to take me with her sometimes.  I was 7 or 8 at the time and afraid of everything so I must have been a real drag  to have tagging along.  She even had to take me on dates!  I remember sitting between her and her boyfriend at drive-in movies and I even got to go to see the Beach Boys and Neil Diamond with her and her fellow.  I was the best form of birth control!

Now my uncles were very different.  One was crazy funny and the other very shy.  Once the crazy uncle put a mannequin in his brother’s bed and told him it was my aunt’s best friend and he needed to wake her up.  Scared the crap out of him when he shook her and her head fell off!  Another time Grandma had made a Santa and put him down the basement and when the meter reader came for his monthly readings, Grandma told him to make sure he noticed her Santa downstairs.  He was down there a bit longer than usual and when he came up, he had an odd expression on his face.  “How did you like my Santa.  Isn’t he something?”,  Grandma asked.  The man turned bright red and mumbled something and left very quickly.   “How strange”, she thought.  Later when she went down the basement to do her laundry, she found out why the meter reader acted the way he had.  Crazy uncle had taken a wiener and placed it in Santa’s pants sticking out for all the world to see.  Grandma was mortified and Crazy uncle got yelled at but good.

As I got a bit older and my uncles moved out, I was given their room to sleep in.  It had the attic door in it which scared the bejeepers out of me.  Many a night I tried to sleep with the covers over my head cause I just knew if I looked over at that door, it would slowly open and terrifying things would come out of it.  So one day, Shy uncle was there helping Grandma do some cleaning in the attic and I was downstairs playing with the McCalls paperdolls that I cut out of Grandma’s monthly magazine.  “Robyn”, Grandma called in a sing-song voice.  “Come on up here”.  I was very hesitant because that was not Grandma’s usual voice but being the obedient child I was, I went upstairs to the bedroom.  There Grandma stood with the attic door open.  “Come on over here, I want to show you something”, she said in a fake sweet voice.  Now, I may not be the brightest bulb in the lamp, but I knew that something just wasn’t kosher. I was afraid she was going to push me in the attic stairwell and shut the door ( I don’t know why I thought that, she had never done a mean thing to me in all my life but she was acting very odd.)  I gingerly went over to where she was standing and there in the attic stairwell was a horrible creature!  It had huge dark eyes, and wrinkles and a huge mouth with giant teeth and lots of furry black hair.  Well I screamed loud enough to wake the dead and took off as fast as my legs would carry me.  Screaming hysterically, I ran down the steps only to be followed by Grandma and the creature.  I was screaming so loudly I didn’t hear her yelling that it was only my Shy uncle in a mask (who for what ever reason still had the dang thing on).  I ran as far as I could and hid under the kitchen table.  Grandma came running in and so did the creature who by now was pawing at his head trying to get the mask off.  No wonder 50 years later, I still have nightmares about being chased!

Not only did I have warped blood relatives but there was also a woman who was a shirttail relation thru marriage that everyone was spooked by. I think she may have had some mental illness issues but back in those days unless you were really ill, you just lived with it.  I’m going to call her, Sara Sue and she would show up unannounced at my Grandma’s and we would all hide hoping she hadn’t seen us.  But of course she had, since Grandma had two huge picture windows that anyone could look in and unless someone happened to look out and see her walking up to the house, we wouldn’t know she was there until you saw her at the windows!  She would call out my Grandmother’s name in this voice that was a cross between an out-of-tune violin and a cow mooing.  “I know you are in there”, she would say.  She would walk from window to window, calling my Grandmother’s name.  Finally, someone would let her in and we children would get a delicious chill up and down our spines never knowing what Sara Sue was going to do or say.  Anytime she would say she was related to us, Grandma would get angry and say no she wasn’t that she was barely related by marriage.  The men would tease her and tell her how nice she looked and she would laugh this braying laugh.  She very much looked like the Ruth Buzzi character from the show, “Laugh In”.  Always had a black hairnet on, orthopedic black shoes, black ankle socks, longer dark skirts.  The adults called her a “Holy Roller”.  I never knew what that was but I always pictured her rolling down Fourth Street on rollerskates with her Bible in her hand.   She would corner us kids, and make animal noises at us.  Creeped us out.   Of course, now as an adult, I wish I knew her story.  I’m sure it was a sad one.  But her memory lives on in my family and I’m sure in my cousin’s.  Any time someone starts to make weird noises, we always call them “Sara Sue”!

I could go on and on but let’s take a peek at the other side of the family. They were totally the opposite.  Not much laughter or company.  Grandpa liked his brandy and would take me and my sister with him to his favorite bar where my cute little sister would get up and imitate Mae West and put a hand on one chubby little hip and say, “Come up and see me sometime big boy!”   And all the men at the bar would give her quarters for candy.  When we would go with Grandpa to the liquor store, he would always buy three little bottles of liquor in addition to his quart of brandy and would drink those little bottles as we were driving over the Oliver bridge, throwing the empties over the side.  Grandpa was always in a good mood! My uncle was also always happy so it seemed to us.  He and my dad were polar opposites.  He was carefree and laid back.   Family lore has it that when asked by my dad why he hadn’t mowed his yard, his reply was, “Why bother.  It will just grow back”, which drove my dad nuts.    Years later this uncle had to have his leg amputated below the knee and he and my dad and aunt were playing cards and my sister’s youngest son was there.  He must have been three and my uncle asked him to take off his shoe for him.  Earlier, he had unstrapped his leg and so when my nephew pulled on his shoe, his whole leg came off.  Can you imagine the horror of my poor nephew.  My uncle thought it was funny (as I would) but my dad was so angry that he left the game not to return for many weeks.

So that is my warped extended family, but the fun really starts next time when I tell you all about my parents and growing up with Lucy and Ricky!

OOPS, I DID IT AGAIN

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Two weeks ago, I went and got my hair cut by a stylist who did a great job. It looked very nice and pretty normal.  I lasted a whole week.  The other night I was watching a fashion competition and there was this woman with fabulous hair.  It was blonde and buzz cut but had this huge pompadour in the middle.  It was awesome.  I figured I could do something like that to my hair.  Now somehow in my deluded mind, I let the fact that she was 20 years younger, a good 90 lbs. thinner and probably 6 inches taller slip by me.  She was blonde, I was sorta blonde, she was a woman, I was even more of a woman.  So what’s the problem?  I should probably mention I had one hour before I had to leave to go to work and had to shower, etc. but how long could it take?  So I got my trusty hair clippers (someone should really do an intervention and remove them from my home) and looked in the mirror.  Instead of seeing reality (fat, bloated face,  liver spots, broken capillaries, yellowing teeth, once large brown eyes now covered in eyelid droop), I saw the fashion designer.  Huge blue eyes, flawless skin, cheek bones, gorgeous white teeth and an actual chin line…..I must have a magic mirror.   I decided where I wanted the buzz line to go and pinned up the hair I wanted to keep and slapped on a clipper guard and I was off to the races.  I should have put my cheaters on and read what guard I had slapped on since  after that first buzz, I thought….hmmm…..shorter than I wanted to start out with.  You always want to start longer and go shorter, but what the heck, eventually I would have gotten down to the 1/4 inch guard.  Just saving time.   I swear I get some sort of high buzzing off my hair….you would think that most normal women would be somewhat nervous seeing piles of hair falling into the sink and on the floor.  Not me.  It’s like I’m freeing myself from the burdens of my life.   Ok, so I get the back done and I let the hair down that was pinned up. Ooooo, a cool and unexpected thing happens.  I have these blonde longer pieces that just happen to flow to the middle of my head. I have now got a whole new idea.  But I am running out of time…..hurry…..hurry.  I part my hair way over to one side and put on the 1/2 guard and buzz down one side of my hair just in front of my ear.  One buzz, two buzzes, three buzzes.  Stop.  Take scissors and cut hair that is left at an angle up to my ear.  Dang, this is looking pretty good.   Now, the big dilemma.  Do I do the other side or do I leave it.  Take a glance at the clock….holy crap.  I gotta leave in 15 minutes.  Dilemma is over.  Time has run out.  I have won!!!!  BUZZER 10  ROBYN 1

STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK BONES BUT WORDS RIP OUT THE HEART

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Words once spoken can never be taken back.  WORDS ONCE SPOKEN CAN NEVER BE TAKEN BACK.  Speak it out loud and it is out there forever (much like emails and texts!).   I can think of many instances that I spoke harsh or hateful words and instantly (or very soon afterward or even years later) I regretted saying them.  I’m sure everyone reading this can relate.  Too bad there isn’t a delete button we could push to totally erase the moment.    I wish the emotion that we are feeling could come out in colors instead of words.  Hate would be black.  Anger would be red. Jealousy would be purple.  Envy would be green.  Disgust would be brown.  Fear would be bright orange.    Frustration would be royal blue. Each emotion would have it’s own color and it would be universal.    But in retrospect, I guess colors could hurt you as much as words.  So what is the answer?     Not venting your feelings isn’t healthy.  Drugs help somewhat but I am not proposing everyone get on Prozac.  Trying to keep from putting the blame on the other person is supposed to help but when I am in a snit, I don’t remember the rules.  I can be sarcastic when I am frustrated.  I try never to be cruel.  I sometimes swear like a long shoreman when I am really angry.  I have thrown things.   And when I have really been nuts, I have hauled off and hit.  Only twice.  And he was much bigger than me.   But I always have in the back of my head, that whatever I say, I can never take back.   I need time to be alone and deal with whatever is going on.  Then I can calm down and act like a normal person.  We often react in the same ways our parent did, even if we hated how they did it.  How often as a parent have you found your self saying phrases that drove you nuts as a kid to your children?  How many of us swore never to say, “Because I told you so”?    But after being asked ten times ,”why can’t I”? sometimes “Because I told you so”, is the right answer.  Never say that to another adult.   Never say, “Whatever” during an argument.  It demeans the other person’s opinion.  Everyone deserves to be heard.  And everyone needs to respect opposite opinions.  Even if you think they are nuts.   I don’t understand people that have to argue to death a difference of opinion.  Do they really think that all that yelling and emoting is going to change the mind of their opponent?  Not gonna happen.  Why can’t we agree to disagree?  Unless it’s a matter of life and death, who gives a rat’s rump if you think one way and I think another.  I don’t need to be right  and you to be wrong.  I believe what I believe and you aren’t going to change my mind no matter how much you try to push your agenda.  I have found that actions speak louder than words and so I hope my life and how I live it would be all the voice I need.   What do you think?

BULLY FOR YOU

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With all the press about Mitt having perhaps bullied someone in high school, I started thinking about my own high school years.  I was a “group bully”.  Of course, we never thought of ourselves as bullies….bullies were guys who would beat up on weaker guys not a group of girls terrorizing other girls. We never hit anyone but I’m pretty sure we “bumped” into some girls pretty hard.  And what was their crime?  One girl liked someone that one of our group liked, a couple of girls had the audacity to be smart, some girls were shy, some were more boyish than us or heavier, or whatever.  If you were different, you would be a target.

The really rotten thing was that I liked most of the girls I was mean to.  One on one, I was nice.  But get me into that “hen pecking” group and I just as bad as the rest of them.  I think fear of becoming a victim instead of a instigator drove many of us to follow our fearless leader.  She had a way about her that you knew if you crossed her, you would be next in the pecking order.  We didn’t stop at girls, either.  We were the bane of many a teacher and quite a few of our male classmates.   I would guess there are quite a few people that would tell you we made their high school years very unhappy.

I would like to publicly apologize to each and every person who I was ever mean to.  I wish I could sit down, face to face, with them and tell them how truly sorry I am for making their lives so awful.   I wish I had had the courage to stop us.  But I was a coward.  And I will always be disappointed in myself that I was.   If anyone who is reading this was hurt by me, please contact me so I can tell you personally how sorry I am.  And if you were a victim of a bully, I would hope that the person who was mean to you has grown up and become a more decent person and may be wishing that they could find you to tell you how sorry they are.  I think it would be good for both parties if the victims were to write to the bully and tell them how it felt.  If nothing else, at least the victims would get a chance to unload that burden on the person who caused it.  Even if it has to be done anonymously.  The bullies need to know the damage that they did even if it was 40 years ago.  

My heart goes out to all the kids who are being bullied in today’s society.  I can not imagine how awful that must be.  I wish I had the answer to the problem.  I wish I had never been the problem. 

A PERFECT DAY

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Today I learned a lesson from my toddler grandson about pure joy.

He was on his first pontoon ride and at first he was very hesitant about moving about.  Guess he hadn’t gotten his sea legs yet.  Didn’t want to stand up or look over the railings.  But as the day went on, he became much braver  and liked to look over the back seat and watch the waves made by the motor.  We were on the water for a couple of hours and when we were headed back to shore, I looked at him and saw the face of someone basking in pure joy.  He was sitting on his grandpa’s legs, eating potato chips, a bottle of “good juice” in one grimy little hand, the wind blowing on his face and he was with the people he loves most in this world.  He probably won’t even remember this day but I will never forget it.  He knew what was important.  His face said it all.