Thursday, April 22, 2010

Still blushing

Mr. Simply, my husband of 30+ years, and I stopped off at the drugstore on the way home this evening. He needs to pick up an Rx. I, preferring to wait in the truck, ask him to get some Pears soap for me.

Cute Young Thing at the register asks him if I like the Pears, or if it really works, or something like that, and he replies, "Well, I might not be the one to ask because my wife always looks beautiful to me!" She thinks Mr. Simply is just the bee's knees, and jogs out to the parking lot to tell me all about it.

Aww, isn't he sweet? Her, too.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old age isn't all bad

For one thing, you might get to be a great aunt.

Yes, my niece is pregnant. Unmarried, (relatively) uneducated, completely unemployed, and uninsured. Whatev. It'll work out somehow.

When she told me, first I hollered and whooped. And then I cried. It doesn't seem that long ago that her mother was teaching her to write her name with soap on the bathtub tiles. "P is for Penny. . ." Only the way she said it, being still too young to have much grasp on syntax or facility with her Rs, it came out "P fo' Penny!"

Time goes by so fast.

The other thing you get when you get old enough, and lucky enough? You get to give your baby sister a ration of shit about being a grandmother.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Friday, April 16, 2010

Back to the Future

Sponsored by The Five Stairsteps
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get brighter. . .
Some day, yeah
We'll get it together and we'll get it undone
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter. . .
Right now, right now
(you just wait and see how things are gonna be)

Heard this song on a '70s station the other day, and flashed back to a sunny Spring day mid-decade wherein Mr. Simply and I were playing ball on the front lawn with our little dog Chester. It was our senior year, and within months we would be embarking on the great adventure of our lives--or so it seemed.

 Mr. Simply with Chester
in the Spring of 1975

I was momentarily overwhelmed with sadness: In the intervening 35 years, the future we so looked forward to has come and gone. In that long-ago Spring we dreamed the dreams of the young and innocent--of the careers we would have, and of family, and home. We joked about what we would do with our first million dollars. We envisioned vacations and cars, and college friendships ripening over the years. We thought we would always be healthy and strong, and that we would always be in love like we were then. We thought we would be happy. We thought, in short, that we would go on forever.

But things never got easier, or brighter, not really. Our heads never got lighter, nor did we get it all together and get it undone. Life is not like that. An older and much wiser friend of my mom's tried to tell us back then that "These are the good old days" but we didn't get it. The young never do.

Sure, we've had plenty more good times since that long-ago sunny Spring afternoon. We've had good laughs, good loving, and long periods of contentment. We kept to our ideals, with both of us having public service careers and adopting a child. But we've also had what we never envisioned then: all the losses of people and pets, deteriorating health, mounting debt, and friendships that fell by the wayside.

Mom's friend was right: We already walked in the rays of a beautiful sun. You can see it right there in the photograph. Sure, we lived in a rented shack on a dirt road back then, with a tin roof and an oil-burning furnace in the front room which provided our only heat. We were still in school, and only one of us was working. But God, we were so young, and healthy, and in love, and we were already a family with our little dog Chester.

I was flooded with tears for a moment, right there in the dentists' office (where else do you hear all '70s all of the time?) and I followed that with a few melancholy hours wherein I would have given anything to be back in that sunny yard with my skinny college boy and Chester, still barely out of puppy-hood, all our naïveté and optimism intact.

But eventually it dawned on me that I was making the same mistake now that I made then, and not just by wishing to have back a past that's over and gone. We still tell each other that things will be better this year, or next quarter, or after Mr. Simply's treatment is through, or whenever we [fill in the blank]. We joke about what we will do with our lottery winnings, now that it's pretty obvious we will never earn a million of our own. I realized that we are still longing for a future that's over and gone--hell, it's coming and going even as I write this. We're missing the great adventure of our lives that's happening right now.

Which thought jerks me right back to the present, wherein it's Spring again, except 2010 instead of 1975. We may spend more time in bed or crashed on the couch than we ever thought we would, but I still have work, with people I care about. We may have bills coming out of our ears, but we also have managed to put something aside for a rainy day. We get by. The sun is shining bright and birds are singing. We have our "snug little home", as Mr. Simply calls it, instead of the shack, and it's Diana and the parrots now instead of Chester. And perhaps most importantly of all, we still love each other deeply.

Thirty-five years from now, if I'm lucky enough to still be alive, what will I be mooning around missing that I have today? The world doesn't get much brighter than this, and I would do well to be mindful of it. Right now, right now. That's what counts, and right now is good.

Right now, we walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


ALTON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 06:  Wheelch...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Finally, I seem to have gotten a foot in the door at a nearby specialty clinic. I don't have an appointment yet, but at least I've finally finagled a referral and got my records over there, so an actual appointment for the initial consult should be in the pipeline.

The first thing I want from them is a light-weight, fold-up wheelchair that I can heave in and out of the trunk by myself, so I can start going back to bird fairs and bird walks and outdoor markets and PetSmart. So many places and activities require lots and lots of standing and walking but don't provide wheelchairs for patrons with disabilities, and I don't want to have to always rely on taking someone with me to help--or not be able to go at all, which is how it's been lately.

I have no need to pull a Boeing 757 anywhere with it, and have no idea why anyone would. But there you go. At least now I know I could if I wanted to.

Last night I dreamed I had just received my new, first wheelchair and was out for a trial run with some friends.

When one is disabled, one dreams about it in various ways--sometimes I dream I'm no longer disabled, or at least I dream I'm doing things that I can't do in my waking life, like dance or jog. Other times I dream it's gotten worse, sometimes I just dream about it as it is, and sometimes it doesn't figure in my dreams one way or the other.

This was my first "wheelchair dream" ever, which I think is significant. That I was focused on my renewed mobility and was getting a kick out of my new toy I think is a good omen. Increasing reliance on my cane was hard at first. I suspect this transition is going to be different, attitude-wise.

This chair was the luxury sport model, upholstered in butter-soft leather and a little faster than I was comfortable with at first. In my dream, I ricocheted off a wall making a turn, and it tipped me back a bit which was also taking some getting used to. And being a sport model, there was no trunk space: I had no place to put anything other than in my lap: When I get mine, I want saddle-bags or something.

When I was a kid you would still see in long-term inpatient units those old wooden wheelchairs which really were like chairs on wheels--sort of the forerunners of the powerchair, I guess (which is what I want next, for work, but that is another post for another day). Those old chairs had adjustable recliner backs: Funny what you "remember" in your dreams after 50 years!

Anyway, in this dream, my friends kept wanting to do things for me that I needed to learn how to do myself, like getting through doors, and there were obstacles like the decorative vanity, placed too close to the handicap-stall door in a public waiting room, that my friends wanted to shove over for me. But all in all, it was cool. My friends meant well, backed off when I asked them to, and didn't laugh when I hit the wall.

Just push the joystick, and whoosh--away I go!

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