Sunday, September 21, 2008

And it makes me wonder...

There is a beautiful young woman who works at the little store up the street from my house. She is radiantly beautiful, with a reddish pixie haircut, beautiful, porcelain skin and big expressive eyes behind modern chunky glasses. She is always friendly, very bright and forever engaging. I look at her and I see youth,  promise, future and destiny.

There was a day when I looked in the mirror and saw those same things; youth, promise, future and destiny. These days I see broken promises, wasted  years, age and destiny denied. This is not written as a negative but as an observation of the cycle of life.

When my daughter lived with me, I saw these qualities in her everyday. I see nothing but a bright future full of promise and excitement when I look into her face. I could feel those emotions and realities everyday and lived vicariously through that. It enabled me to not see myself in the stage of life where I actually exist.

The point of all of this is that even though I don't see a young, fresh-faced girl ready to take on the world in the mirror anymore, all I have to do is look around me. I am surrounded by youth and beauty and  promise and future.

And this is how it should be. We get that fresh-faced life for awhile and then we develop wrinkles, gray hair and disappointment. And in return we develop wisdom, something that is not fleeting, and serves us well in the long run.

So look around you and enjoy the beauty and youth that you see, be that in a person, an object  or just the glory of nature that we are so lucky to be a part of...

Monday, September 15, 2008

This is some birthday gift...

I am receiving a unique gift for my 48th birthday this year. A hysterectomy. That's right, I'll be having surgery on my birthday.

This really is a gift though it may not appear to be. For years I have suffered with this mess. I've tried every option and they have all failed. Turns out, this is the only thing that will give me any relief.

And now that it is a reality, I'm scared. Not so much about the surgery or the pain or even the anesthesia. This is not my first surgery. But it is my first surgery since I've been alone.

I guess what I am scared about is waking up in the hospital and being alone. All my friends work and so I will be coming out of surgery and there will be no one there. I am feeling really scared about that.

I've had surgery twice before and there were people that I knew loved me standing at my bedside when I began to wake up. I know I was groggy and incoherent and not awake for very long but just seeing their faces let me know I was OK and that everything was going to be OK.

I know this sounds so silly. It's really not that big a deal. Why is this bothering me so much?

I think that it is bringing home the point that I am alone. When it really comes down to it, I am alone. My mom is gone, my dad is two states away and my daughter is one state away. There is no one that I can really count on to be here with me.

Now I sound like I'm just whining... What's so interesting to me is that I've always had a fear of being alone. I've had to face this fear in the last five years and have been doing quite well with it. I've been alone and surprise, it's not so bad. For some reason this is different.

Perhaps it's feeling so vulnerable and having to depend on other people. I'm not used to that. I'm used to doing things for myself and not having to depend much on other folks. A friend is taking me into her home for that first week out of the hospital. I suppose there is a lesson here that I am supposed to learn, and that is that it's OK to need people.

Just two more ironies: my ride to the hospital? My ex-husband. The face I will probably see when I wake up, my ex-mother-in-law. She's been the face I've seen through the groggy haze of anesthesia twice before and to her, I'm still family...

So as always, the silver lining to the cloud. I may feel alone but really, I'm far from it. While my closest family and loved ones may not be here, I have the next best thing. And even though I sometimes forget, I am loved.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The little old ladies are trying to jump me into their gang...

Little old ladies have always liked me.

There is a group of little old ladies that ride the bus on Saturdays. They probably ride the bus on other days too but I have noticed a particular group of them on Saturdays.

I have always admired these little old ladies. They are spunky, full of life and don't take any crap from anyone. These women have probably seen it all in their lives. War, peace, The Depression, the boom in the 1950's, the advancing of technology and the demise of the traditional family.

I look at their wrinkled faces and white hair and see in their sparkling eyes wisdom. These gals (my daughter calls them broads, a real compliment coming from her) live active, full lives. They have friends and meet at the Mall for lunch. They keep track of each other and take care of each other when one is in need. I look at them and hope I can live like that someday. They live with joy and freedom, surrounded by friends.

Today for some reason, they reached out to me. By this I mean they included me in their conversation. I was the first one to the stop and one of the ladies walked up and said hello. She then said "Wouldn't it be nice if they could put a bench here?" It was the first time any of these women have spoken to me other than to say hello.

We proceeded to have a long conversation about the neighborhood. She'd lived in this neighborhood her whole life. She told me about the changes she'd seen in that time.

When the bus came, we got on and she met her friend. She said to me "would you like to sit here with us?" I gladly took the offered seat and we chatted until we got to the Mall. When they got off the bus they told me to take care and to have a good day.

These women inspire me to remember that while my youth is passing, some would say it has passed, there is more to look forward to. Yes, that includes wrinkles, gray hair (been there done that), achy bones and more visits to the doctor. But it also includes friends. wisdom and the freedom to wear purple...

WARNING by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens . . .
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A new friend

I have been living alone now for almost 3 months. It has been an adjustment but for the most part, it’s working out just fine.

There is really only one thing that continues to be difficult. The loneliness. I now spend a lot of time alone. I do lots of one person things these days. I watch TV, knit, clean, read and talk to myself. I spend lots of time on my new computer cruising the ‘net, learning what this thing can and cannot do and trying to get used to the new version of Word.

But despite doing all those things to keep myself busy, I still fight the loneliness every day. I don’t like walking into an empty house knowing I’ll be alone for the rest of the night or even worse, for the weekend. It is depressing. Sometimes I will go and do things with my friends, but most of them have families so those things are few and far between. I speak with my daughter very often and that’s comforting. But it doesn’t fill the rest of the time and it doesn’t fill that loneliness that continues to follow me around.

Right after my daughter left (and took the kitties with her) a friend from work offered to share her kitty with me. She has an adult female cat (one of 8) that she feels needs more attention than she is getting. She said that she’d be willing to let me take her with the condition that if it didn’t work out she would take this kitty back into her home.

At the time, I didn’t take her up on it. I had been planning to move and didn’t want to try to take a kitty with me. Well, those plans have been put on hold indefinitely and here I sit lonely and missing my furry friends.

So, last Friday I called her to see if she was still looking for someone to take in her kitty. I explained my situation and why I didn’t take her up on it earlier. She assured me that she would take the kitty back into her home if in fact I had to move and she thought the two of us were meant to keep each other company. My worry had been having to find a home for this kitty if I did indeed move and that worry was now gone.

Next weekend, I will have a new kitty. I am so looking forward to having some companionship. Yes, cats are solitary creatures and don’t need people much. But maybe the two of us older single ladies will find things in common and make each other’s lives more pleasant, comfortable and cozy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things I've begun to notice

Since coming into this new empty-nest phase of my life, I've begun to notice some things about my self that have surprised me.

I don't like to live alone. I am finding myself rattling around the house alone and talking to myself. I miss sharing my space with another living being. Maybe I need a fish.

I talk to myself a lot more now. That's not so bad except I forget and do it at work and in public. I have found myself apologizing: no, I didn't say anything, I was just thinking out loud. Thinking out loud sounds so much better than talking to myself.

It's hard to shop and cook for just one person. The upside is that my food bill is much smaller. The downside, lack of motivation to fix well rounded meals. Upside, rediscovering the joys of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Suddenly I have curly hair. OK so this doesn't really have anything to do with being an empty nester but what is the deal? I've always had straight hair. I've been letting it grow, got sick of it and had some shape cut into it. Now it's curly! I'm not complaining but where did this come from?

I have to stop myself from picking up strays. I really am not ready to be the crazy cat lady quite yet. But they look so cute and it's kitten season. Walk away, just walk away.

So, it's continuing to be an interesting, strange journey, but one I'm trying my best to embrace. Yes, it's hard sometimes but overall, I think this new life is going to work out just fine.


Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The empty nest is getting more comfortable...

So, it’s been a couple of weeks and guess what? I’ve survived! That first weekend was a killer but I’m getting used to the solitude and beginning to even enjoy it. Between the cell phone and the internet it’s almost like she’s still here, almost. There have been a couple of frantic “Mom what do I do now” phone calls but we are both surviving. She is making her way around the big city and having a grand time doing so.

I am learning to not cook such big meals, to shop smaller and to find ways to amuse myself on the bus. Knitting is coming in very handy as is my little iPod Shuffle. I’ve been on a dishcloth making kick and these are perfect projects to throw in my bag and take along. Yes, everyone will be getting fancy dishcloths for some holiday this year.

I am finding myself staring into the future. The whole “what’s next” thing is bombarding me from all sides. I don’t know what to make of it and I am having some trouble wrapping my brain around it. I haven’t lived looking into the future in a long time. I’ve been living in the “right in front of my face, keep my head down and get through it” for longer than I care to admit. I thought I had the answers but now I’m not so sure. Is this a mid-life crisis? If so, where is the sports car and the hot 20 year old boy?

All kidding aside, I am struggling with this new life but I am living it. I guess that’s all one can do is to take a new step each day and just keep going forward. Sometimes that new step is a doozy

Monday, June 02, 2008

So this is what an empty nest feels like...

Well, it’s been a week. A week since we drove out of that rainy city, leaving our daughter there all alone but happy as a clam. She’s got the cat to keep her company and her new life opening up before her.

For me, it’s been both better and worse than I thought it would be. The better things have been small and somewhat unexpected, more about choices I have that I didn’t before: What’s for dinner, what to watch on TV, and what to do on Saturday afternoons.

Worse? The house that once seemed too small now is huge, empty and hollow. Having no one to share The Daily Show, no one to share bus adventures, no one to commiserate with about how the day went.

The almost crippling loneliness that sometimes sneaks up on me is worse than I expected. Sound overdramatic? I would have said so too until I found myself on Sunday afternoon in a fetal position in tears with no clear reason why.

This must be the empty nest coupled with the reality of divorce. I’ve never lived alone, ever. I went from my parent’s house, to living with roommates to marriage. Now there are times when I feel utterly alone and without purpose.

I’ve been a hands-on Mom for so long I don’t know how to do anything else and this long distance Mom thing is… I don’t know what it is. I find myself on this new frontier with no map or guidebook. What am I supposed to do now?

I think I’m fooling everybody around here. Smile, make witty comments and keep being helpful to others. Do the daily paperwork, print the daily reports, keep the copying up to date, replace the toner in the printer…it’s all getting done and they think I’m remarkable.

But you know, there is always a silver lining to every cloud. Right now that lining is I’m here, my daughter is blossoming and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Funny things they say to you at work...

I was standing at the copier waiting for some copies to finish when a co-worker says to me "You must be so tired, I don't know how you talk so much during the day, do you drink?"

I spend the majority of my day explaining things to people. I use a lot of words in a day, granted, I repeat a lot of them too. "Click on the star icon, no, the star, no, the gold star icon", "you have to enter the data in the correct format using numbers and slashes, no that's a dash you need to use a slash, no this key right here" "No! Don't use the back button... oh, well, you just lost all your information. Yes, you have to do it all over again; yes I know, you hate computers."

Perhaps now the "do you drink" question makes more sense...

The answer no, but sometimes I wish I could.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Be still my heart…

I had one of those moments that you want to capture forever and keep it somewhere so you can take it out and re-experience it from time to time.

I have been teaching my 18 year old daughter how to knit. This summer I showed her how to cast on and the knit stitch. She diligently set about making and frogging numerous squares and scarves to practice with and then seemed to get bored.

Right before Christmas she found a pattern for Civil War era Muffatees and wanted to know if I could make them. She picked out some yarn and I made them for her in an evening.

She sent me an email at work telling me she had forgotten how to cast on so I told her I’d show her when on I got home but that she could check my bookmarks and got to the Knitting Help site and look at the videos.

I got home that night and she once again asked me to show her how to cast on. She sat busily on the couch casting on and then knitting. It was so wonderful to be sitting on the couch, she at one end and me at the other, parallel knitting. She began taking her knitting to work and when she rode the bus. Be still my heart…

But here comes the real moment to be captured and saved forever. We had spent the afternoon running around, going to Michael’s and JoAnn’s and were on the bus heading home. It was getting dark by this time. She usually puts her iPod on to block out the noise on the bus and she did that. Then she whips out her knitting and proceeds to knit in public, on the bus in near darkness. I wanted to hug her. It was amazing to see something that was passed down to me through my Grandmother, my Mother, me and now to her.

That night she finished her first garter stitch scarf. It was made from Red Heart’s soft yarn using size 6 needles so it was tightly knit and substantial. It had some little holes, and the edges were a bit in and out but it was the most beautiful scarf I had ever seen.

Last night she asked me to teach her how to purl. So I had her cast on and knit one row and then showed her how to purl. This time I had her use size 8 needles with her Simply Soft yarn left from a bag I had made. It took a few repetitions but she got it! I told her that if she alternated her knit and purl rows, she would get the stockinet stitch.

Again she worked away, this time wearing her newly finished scarf, while I was on the computer and then I hear this question: is it supposed to curl up like this? I took a look at her work and it was beautiful. Nice straight even stitches that curled a bit on the bottom. I almost started to tear up and told her how great it looked for a first try. I also told her about using garter stitch borders to keep the curling from happening. We talked about how to tell the difference between knit and purl stitches.

She is getting ready to leave the nest in a few months. This experience with her is one I will now cherish forever. I have gotten to pass along to her the building blocks of knitting. She can add this to her tool box of other crafting skills and her ever growing box of life skills. And it is one more connection to knit us together even as the apron strings are loosened and cut, moving closer while at the same time separating.

kni 001

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A time of change

I am beginning to look into the abyss of change. All around me it is beginning, moving inexorably forward completely out of my control. It is starting as a trickle like a small mountain stream but already I hear the rumbles of white water ahead.

She has one foot out the door and is not looking back. I hear her speaking of her new life away from me, one in which I will play only a small, far away role. Realizing that sooner than later I will not wake up to see her every day, we will not say goodnight to each other every night, I will not hear the question are you going to take a shower first of should I.

Soon she will be a distant voice on the phone, a blinking message in my email box, the occasional card in the mail.

But this is how it’s supposed to be isn’t it? They are with you for a time and then you set them free to fly the nest, to create a nest of their own, to have adventures near and far, to make their mark in the world.

I have known this intuitively since I carried her in my womb, I have pontificated about this since I first held her in my arms. I know this. So why is it feeling like a complete surprise to me now?

We are approaching the finish line, making the final preparations, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, getting her ducks in a row and every other cliché one can think of, each step getting closer to the final take off and I find myself hanging on for dear life.

How does one gracefully step out of the way? How does one untie that very last knot on the apron? How does one stand at the front door smiling, waving and saying good bye and watching them sail off into uncharted territory?

I guess you take a deep breath, untie that knot and know that you’ve done your job. There is a saying in knitting that says “Trust the pattern”. I guess in this case I have to trust the job I’ve done and the choices I’ve made and trust that she is ready for the world.