Thursday, July 21, 2016

Are We Survivors THAT Needy?

Last night I dreamt my late husband was sitting next to me wearing a dark suit, blue shirt and tie. Talk about “all dressed up and nowhere to go…” 
Jimmy hadn’t aged a bit. I was just about to ask him what moisturizer he uses, when I opened my eyes, shook away my sleep and sat up knowing he’s been gone for ten years. He’ll always be 56.
dreamstime m 47447673I just turned 66 and believe me, very few 56-year-old men would date me unless his name is Quasimodo. Hence, I’m too old to date my dead husband. That realization shouted out how long a decade is.
In my dream I kept playing with his beard. The thing is Jimmy never had a beard. Mickey, my boyfriend, does. I pet it often. I woke up wondering what that meant. I didn’t tell Mickey, afraid he may think that I’m thinking about Jimmy as I touch his beard. I’m not. It was just a stupid dream.
Or was it a sign? I stopped looking for signs ever since, well, ever since years went by and I never got one. Early on my nephew Chuck saw his Uncle Jimmy twice a week.
Once I walked in the house and he said, “You just missed him.” Occasionally, he’d have a message from Jimmy. “He doesn’t like this green color you painted the kitchen...He liked your hair better before you cut bangs...He wants to know why your screen saver isn’t him.”
I’d say, “Chuck, your Uncle wasn’t all that observant in life. As a matter of fact, if I rearranged the furniture and dyed my hair purple he may not have noticed. I have a feeling these feelings are yours!”
Every so often I’d get a compliment. “He’s very impressed that you learned how to pay your bills on line,” Chuck would relay. That one was actually a two in one accolade because bill paying was Jimmy’s department and my computer skill stopped at turning it on.
As any widow or widower knows, honing new abilities is necessary. We adapt because we must. We drag out the garbage cursing the full stretch of the driveway and back. We fume because we didn’t sign up for this. We look up to heaven, “I’m getting older, but you wouldn’t know about that! You and I used to bounce from the car at a rest stop. Now I’m stiff and creaky after a 20-minute ride. I hobble to the Ladies Room and barely make it.”
As Bette Davis said and I said in my last post, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”
Life gives and takes. Poor Jimmy missed out on the joy of being with our grandkids yet he doesn’t have to deal with play dough in his hair. Does he see the humor in this? Does he see us at all?
When the ceiling fan fell, our one year old had just crawled away. Did he protect her? Maybe, but where was he when I left my phone in the cab?
Some report they find shiny pennies on their nightstand and out of nowhere white feathers float about. Aren’t those “universal” signs? How did that come to be? Are we survivors that needy? I wave away that “nonsense” and yet, there’s something familiar about that Robin Red Breast who edges closer than the rest.
Could Jimmy possibly be an inanimate object? Did he turn himself into a tube of lipstick so we could sort of, kind of kiss?
Sometimes my dog Tony, a little guy who only barks when the doorbell rings, stares at the wall and wags his tail. He barks and barks. There’s no sudden swish of cold air they say arrives with spirits, but I give Tony a treat so he’ll bark and alert me next time. And, maybe next time I’ll see Jimmy and it won’t be in a dream.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Being a Writer is Not for Sissies

At her 4th book signing in two years I gushed to the author “I can’t believe how prolific you are!” There was zero comprehension in her face. She said simply “That’s what I do.” I begin to tell her that I too, am a writer, an author, but so many days go by that I just don’t get the urge. Then, her face said, “Move along” so I did.

Off the line I read her inscription “Carol, hope you enjoy this book” and I knew that night I would read the first fifteen pages, put it down and click on demand TV. Or I might play video poker on my phone, fall asleep and dream about getting four of a kind.

Interviewers ask, “What books are currently on your nightstand? Now I can name her title along with the others I haven’t read. Which is my favorite? That’s easy – the one I use as a coaster for my wine glass.

After I left the signing my schedule was wide open so I did what I do most days to avoid writing. I shopped. I convinced myself that it was going to rain so I bought an umbrella since I was three blocks from my apartment and God forbid my hair gets wet – although I straighten it and have it professionally blow dried twice a week.

My husband left me well heeled. Damn him! Didn’t he know I would nap the day away, then sleepily eat take out while watching terrible news clips of people much less fortunate than me but with way more spunk?

“Yup, we lost our home” the couple clinging to each other croak. “But we have each other, Charlie, our pet pig and the man up above.” Their heads, as though choreographed tilt up together and just as they began a small salute to I’m guessing God, a branch from a charred tree cracks, sways and lands inches from Charlie.

“We’ll be just fine,” they say. The horrified reporter, forgetting her microphone is on backs away from them, blurts out ‘jinx’ and the screen switches to the anchor.  

I watch and wonder if it’s worth it to get up from the couch to heat up this last slice of pizza.

Note: Title adapted from Bette Davis quote: “Old Age is No Place for Sissies” which, of course, is also true.

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