Being Here

It was some shocking news I read yesterday.

I am coming up on my 40th high school reunion in the fall, and of course, there are pages dedicated to it where you can find out the latest news.

A few days ago, I hit on a page and saw a girl that I shared foreign language classes with had passed away.

**sigh**

Yesterday, I read that another classmate passed away, and from reading the information, gathered she must have been battling cancer for a while. What makes it even more sad for me is her husband and I worked together for roughly twenty years. He adored her.

Here I am, semi-retired, three cancers later, writing a blog post on a computer.

Survivor’s guilt? You bet.Oh, I know that I am here for a reason, but there always comes a reality check. That’s why I thank God when I get up in the morning and manage to have two feet on the ground.

Rest in peace, Cheryl and Gloria.

Dziadziu on East Street

Dziadziu, in Polish, means Grandfather.

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My Mom’s family lived in Manayunk, a section of Philadelphia, and “Dziadziu” on East Street was always referred to as that to distinguish him from my Dad’s dad, or my other Dziadziu.

Dziadziu on East Street was a kind man, and very patient.Some of my finest memories of my childhood are sitting with him on the bench in the back yard and him letting me babble on.He would let me sit with him and count the freckles on his balding head and chuckle about it.

Today, 46 years ago, he left me quite suddenly.Pneumonia took him from us in three quick days.We were all in shock.I have no doubt that he is with my Babci, Grandmother, in heaven.That is their wedding picture in this post. They were married in 1920 and he passed away in December 1970, a little of 50 years later.

It’s a good way to wrap up this year, remembering him and his life.He was a good guy.

I miss you everyday, Dziadziu, and will love you forever.

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Eighteen years ago, I lost my Dad.

Usually, on this post, I would write something about his passing but in reflection, I want to write about something that I shared with Dad.

We went together to work for a number of years via public transportation.

I never was squeamish about walking to the bus or sitting on the bus and talking to my Dad while going to work. I am sorry to say that it was something at the time that I guess, I took for granted.In hindsight, it was a glorious time.We would talk about a lot of things, and Dad would give me a lot of his advice.I remember when I had someone steal my wallet out of my desk, and I was able to walk a few blocks over to where my Dad worked. It was a comfort to be able to commiserate with Dad over the theft, get a token to get home with, and know tomorrow would be another day.

As I usually would say about missing Dad, some things will never change.I am thankful of the memories that we shared through the later part of his working career.What a blessing it was, in hindsight, to have the time with him. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.

I miss you terribly Dad but will love you forever.

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Mom…it feels like a lifetime

Today marks four years since Mom passed and I have to offer what I had written in last years post. The meaning is even deeper, as is the heartache.

I miss her every day.It’s a hole in my heart that I know might be healed over by the time I pass away.I find her in little things, and especially, while in the process of moving, I unpacked her sweater and sat with it on today.I made waffle batter this morning in one of her mixing bowls. Tomorrow I am going to look for a book to put her handwritten recipes in. I know she is at peace,and that is the only thing that makes the pain of loss a little bearable.

I keep a picture of her on the table by my bed, and see her every morning.It’s a shot of her before she fell into dementia.On the computer I see pictures of her in her hospital bed when she was in hospice.Today we got the new issue of AARP magazine and they had, on the cover,pictures of everyone who had Alzheimer’s/Dementia and they were people who had passed within the year.

I cherish the memory while God still blesses me with one, and cherish every day I am on two feet. I figure the best way I can honor her legacy is to keep going as best as I can.

Doesn’t stop her from missing me, though.

Tech

We visited our friend, Max and his Mom, Norina, last night.

They lost their Dad/husband Mario, and we used to see him when he was in rehab, and took some video of him. As they really didn’t take anything like that when they were taking care of him, we let them know we had it. They came over this morning to see it and, now, we are saving video to the flash drive.

It is awesome how far technology has come. I am happy to do this for Max and his Mom , but it is bittersweet. Jim and I miss Poppa Mario: he was a character. I think we also wish we were able to have our Dads via technology. 

We miss them both. Below is a picture of my Mom and Dad.

  

Seventeen

I was one of those fortunate girls.

I loved my Dad and he loved me. Don’t get me wrong- he loved all of us, but Dad and I were buddies. My brothers weren’t really into actively following sports, so he was happy when he found a willing disciple in me. We spent a lot of good times together. At the bottom of this blog post, I have a picture of Dad in the car when we were at Penn State for a game.

It’s seventeen years ago today that I lost my Dad. I remember,in many of our talks, how he would tell me about life after he would be gone. I believed him and always kept it in my head. You only have one Dad and no amount of time can replace the hole left behind in your heart when he leaves.He didn’t tell me that, but it’s what I learned.

Miss you terribly,Dad, and will love you forever. Kiss Mom for me. 

 

And here comes August…

Bad enough that my “weekend” is over, but here comes August.

If you have read this blog for any period of time, you could recall that August is quite the bittersweet month for me. I lost my Dad in 1998,and I got married in 2002.When I was a kid, my Dad always took us to the shore during the last week of August.

The best part of August, though, is the promise of fall. You can muck through the hazy, hot and humids of August and know that sometime soon the fronts will be coming and cool things off.I know my Mom always would warn me against wishing my life away, but this is one summer that I can hardly wait until the first 70 degree day comes.

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Life’s Short

The joke is where we have moved to, well, let’s just say I’m one of the youngest people here, full-time wise.

A good percentage of the residents come down for the summer, or part of it. A neighbor of our that we would have lived immediately next to, if we bought the first house, lives in Collegeville. He has been coming down here for ten years or so. He is married and has two adopted and one biological tumor.His age is somewhere between mine(55) and Jim’s(60).

He came down here over the weekend with one of our neighbors and his family.

He wants to die here at his house here.

He has a mid-brain tumor.

For those of you who know me personally, or have been reading the blog for a while, you’ll recall I lost my niece, Alexandra, to a mid-brain tumor.She died at 18.

What flashbacks this has brought back to me, my neighbor’s illness.A brain tumor is definitely NOT how you want to go out. It is a fight, a hard fight.

My neighbor and I were walking past his house and one of the neighbors came out and said he isn’t expected to last the night: hospice is there with them.

We mourn the man, but rejoice that his suffering will be done. I am happy he actually hung in through the car ride to get down here, but I know this was his final wish.

Kiss or hug someone you know after you read this. Do it for me.

Life is too damn short.

Here we go again

I have a buddy here at Undisclosed.

Oh yeah…shocker. I have a buddy.

Well, I do have a few, but this one is a fellow cancer survivor, for now. She is once again dealing with the ugly beast beating at her door.

Her cancer is back, but this time with a vengeance.

Her breast cancer has spread to her spine.There aren’t too many folks around here who understand what folks who have cancer feel, which is what drew the both of us together.Now that it is back, while I am here full-time, she has to start daily radiation and chemo. I told her that since I am not working, if she’s around, and wants company, to text me and I’d go over and keep her company.

I have learned not to promise someone with cancer that there is tomorrow, because there may not be. I can help them with their journey as folks have helped me. Fortunately I have, for now, made it through.But even for us who have “made it through”, no one gets a guarantee.

All I can do is to pray for her and be a friend. It’s a scary time, and no one should go it alone.

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Heartbeat

It’s St. Valentine’s Day.

I know a lot of single friends and there are all sorts of witty sayings going around on Facebook to either jab at those without a mate, or to commiserate with them.I feel for single folks, as I was one for 42 years and do remember what it is like.

For the past 15 years, I have been blessed to have Jim in my life.It was the classic 42 year-old spinster and the 48 year-old bachelor and yet here we are, almost 13 years later in our marriage, and it is safe to say that Jim still makes my heart skip a beat.

It’s funny,because I went to see 50 Shades of Grey with my neighbor last night, as Jim deemed it a chick thing.Yet for all the images conjured up by the movie,my best friend, lover and husband is indeed the one who makes my heart still skip a beat.We haven’t gone through children, only fur kids which can be up there with human children,deaths of parents,selling houses, moving, buying houses,jobs,retirement,illnesses, and, well, you catch my drift.We are on the road to hopefully growing old together,hoping that we are that blessed to accomplish that.

If you are reading this and single,I would tell you to hang in there if you are still looking, or good for you if you are comfortable in your current situation.If you are married like me, I hope you had a marvelous St.Valentine’s day.Savor love all 365 days a year, not just today.If you have lost your love one,cherish their memory!

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Mom

I read a post of Facebook today that made me close my eyes and take me back three years.

A friend of mine who is posted in the Vatican put on the Facebook message page that his father passed away. I wrote condolences from myself and Jim, and let him know that this is the week of the year that God looks for angels. Today is three years that my Mom passed away.

Three years.

I miss her every day.It’s a whole in my heart that I know might be healed over by the time I pass away.I find her in little things, and especially, while in the process of moving, I unpacked her sweater and sat with it on today.I made waffle batter this morning in one of her mixing bowls. Tomorrow I am going to look for a book to put her handwritten recipes in. I know she is at peace,and that is the only thing that makes the pain of loss a little bearable.

I keep a picture of her on the table by my bed, and see her every morning.It’s a shot of her before she fell into dementia.On the computer I see pictures of her in her hospital bed when she was in hospice.Today we got the new issue of AARP magazine and they had, on the cover,pictures of everyone who had Alzheimer’s/Dementia and they were people who had passed within the year.

I cherish the memory while God still blesses me with one, and cherish every day I am on two feet. I figure the best way I can honor her legacy is to keep going as best as I can.

Doesn’t stop her from missing me, though.

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CNN-post #JeSuisCharlie

I have been watching the coverage of the incidents in France and I can only shake my head in sorrow.

I go back and think to watching, or being glued to the television post 9/11 and although this doesn’t hit me directly, I still get that sinking feeling in my gut.How sad life can be. How sad life has become.They just had the maintenance man on who was there when his buddy got shot,and it was the buddy’s first day on the job and he was killed. He got the co-worker and then proceeded to lock both of them in a toilet, and at least the gunmen didn’t come back for them.

No one is safe anywhere in this world, and all I can do is love all my loved ones with every breath in my body.No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

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Good night Sweet Prince.

A native son from my hometown of Roxborough went missing on the morning of Thanksgiving.

His name was Shane Montgomery and he was a 21-year-old college student.

He had seemed to disappear into mid-air and there had been a search in the area until January 3, 2015, when they found his body in the river in the area.No foul play: the death had been ruled an accident.

An accident.

I have three nephews who are now over 21 and I can not begin to fathom the pain and grief that Shane’s parents and family are going through.What is touching me even deeper is that I grew up two blocks from the mom’s family and know them from the neighborhood.When Jim and I got married and joined our parish, we became friendly with Shane’s Aunt Maryann and Uncle Fred.

An accident.

They found Shane the morning after I retired.I am now 100 miles away from my hometown and was unable to get there for the viewing and funeral.I was there is spirit, though.Tonight on Facebook, there was an even to light a candle for Shane. Yes, I did participate.To honor Shane’s memory, not to light his way to heaven because I truly believe he is there, and to send the candle flame to the Montgomery and Verbrugghe families.

Your son has become my nephew, and my heart is broken, as is yours.My candle is lit and my prayers are continuing for your family.

And Shane?

“Good night, Sweet Prince.”

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Trying to put a spin on the negative

We just came from the street we used to live on to pay a sick call to one friend’s Dad and a sympathy call on another friend who lost her 47-year-old daughter to cancer Thanksgiving eve.

Jim says to me .”Everyone’s dying.”
Me:” We’re still here.’

Kasia and Zush in the back of the car coming back and Kasia starts:” Barkbarkbarkbark.”
Me: “I grabbed her leash and told her we all have a right to walk the sidewalk.”
She stopped.

Jim and I had talked about how we loved living on that street and how it became a street where everyone was moving, sick, or dying.We said where we are moving is a different spot, where people are like us going through or having gone through what we have.We tend to socialize there more than we do here.

I am praying for an upturn.

9/11

Tomorrow is the thirteenth anniversary of the 9/11 disaster.

I am back where I was then.

9/11 happened eleven months before we were married. I was here as a single living with Mom. I was at work that Tuesday morning and remembered seeing the image on computer news feeds, thinking, is it a new simulated game or what? I wasn’t used to seeing pictures and news feeds back then.We all went home, and I called Mom to make sure she was all right and to let her know I was on my way.

When I got home, my neighbor from across the street, KJ and I met and had prayers on the front lawn, and we later had prayer with my Mom.Such a terrible day, and such tragedy for so many people.

All I can do is pray that we all manage to stay safe, and the souls of 9/11 are in eternal rest.

God bless America.

Circles

Joan Rivers passed away today.

So did my 96-year-old former neighbor who I used to bring Communion to on sick calls.

I reconnected with my 84-year-old former neighbor who has bounced back from lyme disease and Bells’ palsy.

My neighbors at Undisclosed are new grandparents of a little boy.

Isn’t life funny?
All the classic circle songs, from Joni Mitchell and Frank Sinatra, just to name a few, are true.

I enjoyed Joan River’s comedy and came to love my sweet 96-year-old neighbor and always loved my 84-year-old buddy.I have come to have love for my new neighbors and are happy at their new arrival.Arrivals and Departures…it reminds my of my favorite Albert Brooks movie,”Defending your life.”It takes you to the alleged fictional way station you go to when you die, and it is determined where you’ll spend your afterlife.

That’s not for me right now: I’m in no hurry to go anywhere, thanks!

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Happening in 3’s…

Yesterday, the news had the fact that Robin Williams had committed suicide at home in Northern California.Tonight, news broke that Lauren Bacall had passed away.

I was brought up with the old school.Things happen in threes. It was funny because when I read to Jim that Lauren Bacall had passed away, I thought it, but Jim said that number three is around the corner.

It’s amazing to stop for a moment and reflect about things like that. It was a different day when we were brought up.Do the kids today actually think or even know about stuff like that?I seriously doubt that, unless they have to research something like that for a paper for school, there is no way that they would come up with the old wisdom or sayings.

I guess we are just part of the old school that is dying off.

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August is the Cruelest Month

…for some folks.

Children who aren’t necessarily fond of school sound a lament all through August, while, at the same time, trying to savor the last days of summer.I would imagine teachers are partially in the same boat.

It’s a mixed month for me.

I lost my Dad on the 24th of August in 1998. It was a humid stretch of weather. We had Daddy at home,to allow him dignity of being where he was most comfortable and most loved. We were fortunate in that we had good people from the medical field monitoring him, and he had us, his family taking care of him.

When Dad passed, I managed to get through it thinking one thing. As a child, Daddy always took the last week of August as his vacation week.I found it very fitting that he went on his last and “greatest” vacation at that time.

Then, I turned around 5 years later, and picked August 31st as my wedding date.I chose that date, because I was thinking Dad and that wonderful vacation time, and thought what a wonderful way to remember that time, by choosing my wedding date to come full circle for the month of August.

So for me, despite some lows during August, it’s been not that cruel for me. It starts my favorite time of year.

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So surreal

I had been looking for something on YouTube and came across JohnF.Kennedy Jr.

It’s almost 15 years since he took that fateful plane ride that cost him his life, along with the lives of his wife,Carolyn Bissette and her sister,Lauren.

Fifteen years…wow!

One can only stop and think of what could have been if the outcome had been different.Would he have embraced his heritage and run for public office? Would there have been children? Would he have been the first Kennedy to escape the “Kennedy curse”? Might we have had someone different in Oval Office?You can only wonder.

How difficult it must have been for his sister Caroline. As a practicing Catholic,you take some comfort in knowing he is reunited with his parents, but I know that the surviving family member can be very lonely.You are grateful for memories, but there comes a point that they are bittersweet.

He is in a better place,and his place here with us is left with a giant void.

MJ

It seems to be making headlines that it is the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.

Five years dead and Michael Jackson just don’t go together.I mean from all the Jackson Five records and the Jackson records, and of course, the entire Michael Jackson collection, I can’t associate death with any of the songs.It is so funny that of all things, he died from the drugs the doctor allegedly gave him with to help him sleep. I say allegedly because I don’t want to get sued. Anyhow, all the energy of the songs, the action of him dancing, just the motion that oozed off of him, and the idea of death just doesn’t match up.

I think of him as he was close to my age, reading about him in 16 or Tiger Beat back in the day. I remember him sitting with Brooke Shields at award shows.I remember the Martin Bashir interview and his day in court for the child molestation cases.I remember Neverland ranch.

Dead? Michael Jackson? Five years later, it is still hard to believe.

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Foggy Days, Foggy Heart

We are working in the doldrums of late spring,early summer.To accompany that, we have had a stretch of rainy, foggy, weather.

As Father’s day approaches, making me miss my Dad even more than I humanly thought possible, there are more deaths in our expanded family. One of the few cousins left on my Mom’s side has passed away, and tomorrow is the funeral. When you stop and think about the passing of the old guard, you realize that we are now on the cusp of becoming the old guard ourselves.

The key is to keep your faith, your body and your mind in balance.I really believe it to be the way to lift the fog off the heart.

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Two Years

My Mom left me two years ago today.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and/or think of her. Perhaps it’s because my Brother Bob and I took care of her for close to five years after she slipped into dementia.

There is so much I know she experiences from a higher vantage point: her children, her Philadelphia grandsons,her sister, her family,her church.I am sad because she never got down here with Jim and me,but am taking some comfort she’s up there,watching with my Dad.

My parents always said that we’d miss them when they left us.The only thing? They didn’t tell me how badly I’d miss them.

R.I.P. Mom.

Miss you guys every day.

Again?

I had a good friend in the office. We shared many things in common, including our Keurig coffee makers.
I would stop every day at her cubicle to check in, or if I was at the front desk, she’d stop by going and/or coming in from lunch.I considered her a bud.

I talked to her on Tuesday. She told me about her emphysema..she was a cigarette smoker who quit a while ago.

She was out sick on Wednesday.

I got a text on Friday that she passed away while talking to her daughter on the phone.

December used to be a joyful month for me. Losing two good friends in one month? I see why people feel the way they do about Christmas.

Rest in peace Lois….I will miss you!

Eternal Rest

I was here working on a scarf last night; not for long as my eyes were tired and almost ready for bed.

I received a text on my phone.

Sue had passed.

It’s over. My friend had gotten her wish to be with her Mom.

After the text from the caregiver, around ten minutes later, Sue’s husband phoned me to let me know. I told him I was so sorry, and he started to tell me how he was waiting on hospice to come. He knew the day was coming but he was in shock.He cared for her for the last four years and was married to her for the last thirty-two. I guess I’d be in shock too.

Rest in peace, my friend. You’ll be missed but you’re in a better place with your mom.

Sleep warm.

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Thursday malaise

It’s the only word that I can think that is appropriate for how I am feeling-malaise.

For those of you who left Webster’s dictionary a while ago, it is defined as:

1. A vague feeling of bodily discomfort, as at the beginning of an illness.

2. A general sense of depression or unease.

I am falling into number two-with unease being the culprit.

I went to see Sue yesterday and gave her Holy Communion. While we were there, her secondary caregiver stood along the side of the bed, and because Sue can’t really speak too well anymore, she told me Sue asked to see a priest, for the Catholic Last Rites, or Anointing of the Sick.

My friend Kate left a comment that it is hard to see someone leave us. I have to admit that I was bright and tried to be myself yesterday, but how can you not be …

Thus, the malaise…

**sigh**

Those racers…

…in Boston: it truly is sad. I mean stop and think about it.

The Boston Marathon is a time of excitement, celebrating Patriot’s Day and the American Revolutionary war.

Children get the day off for a holiday.

You go down and see your friends compete, or family members race….

…and then in a split second you are maimed or hit or God forbid, killed.

Over what?

Some people just don’t care and have no respect for others and their lives.

All I can do now is just shake my head in wonder and bow it in prayer for
the deceased and injured and all who went through the traumatic experience.

No Drama Zone? **cleaning off glasses**

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There has been enough drama rolling around here.

One of my BFF’s, Denise, had to fly out to Hawaii in an emergency with her husband. Her Dad has died since she got there.

Another BFF, Cynthia, had a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and allegedly the surgeon got it all: they aren’t giving her any chemo or radiation.

We are trying to craft our way through the property to get it ready to sell.

I have a headache that won’t quit…and it takes almost nothing to rest my eyes but for a minute and catch my head wobble over to my desk.

Here’s hoping your day goes a little smoother.

Here’s hoping my head gets a wee bit better!