Happiness

20190601_093841.jpgThere are days I find happiness personally elusive.

There are endless chores and medical appointments and sad news on the telly and from my hometown.

Today my tomato plants were placed into their new garden house and my deck painted red.

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My neighbor stopped by and brought us popcorn from her trip to Colorado.

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“I can’t thank you enough,” she said, “for taking care of my plants while we were away. I know you both like popcorn. I hope you like these.”

Today I am happy.

My tomato plants have a new house and my neighbor stopped by.

My partner is snoring and enjoying her nap.

I picked up a new Mary Oliver book and am excited to begin.

I opened the front cover and suddenly remembered the librarian’s sweet gesture.

She checked out my book, but before handing it back, wistfully touched Ms. Oliver’s photo on the inner sleeve of the cover and then smiled at me.

I took my selection and answered her in kind, “Her books touch my heart and I’m sad that we lost such a lovely human being,” I began.

“I’m grateful, though, for her writing and thank God for her talents.”

“Yes,” she grinned and bid me a good day.

Today was a fine day and one my mom would have loved. She taught me to be grateful and taught me to love life.

Today I am happy and grateful to be alive.

Today is a good day and I hope yours is, too.

Be well, People, and I’ll catch you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

One More Christmas Memory

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It’s that time of year, again.

Christmas music is playing non-stop, the stores are jam-packed with holiday shoppers, and kids are busy making their lists to send to Santa praying they’re on the nice list – not the naughty one.

The Princess and I have been busy attending Christmas concerts and enjoying the company of good friends and good food.

The outside lights are up, the tree decorated and my Dicken’s Christmas Village painstakingly set up with careful attention given to the placement of each piece before having snow dumped all over it for that added, cozy Christmas touch.

The holiday season is here in full force. I’m laughing, listening to Christmas carols and starting plans for my Christmas dinner party.

God has been good. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food to eat and the love of family and friends.

So, why do I feel so empty? Why does my heart ache?

The (Dicken’s) Christmas Village that I started years ago was bought with money that my Mom sent me in my early days in CA. Bought with the thought of times past and the innocent memory of childhood trips to our downtown to see lights strung on Xmas trees and store fronts.

As a child, we didn’t have a car, and my Mom hoofed it to work every day and stood on her feet for hours-on-end at a Jewish Bakery in upstate NY; schlepping rye bread and jam-filled jelly doughnuts to an endless stream of customers who waited patiently to purchase fresh baked goods and to chat with the animated Italian who had a smile as bright as a summer day.

She could wait on 2 to 3 customers at a time, give a hug and a cookie to a munchkin and make everyone feel loved and important; all without breaking a sweat.

And home she trudged through snow and ice after a hard day of standing on her feet, only to be greeted by youngsters anxious to go downtown to look at the Christmas lights twinkling in store front windows and draped on snow covered trees.

“Please, Mom,“ I’d beg. “We’ve all eaten dinner and I’ve washed and put away the dishes. Can you please take us downtown? Please, please, please?”

“I’ll help pull the little ones on the sleigh and we won’t ask for anything, Mom.”

“Honest,” I’d plead.

“We won’t ask for anything,” I continued, looking at her with my best puppy dog eyes.

And Mom being Mom, she quickly grabbed something to eat, bundled us all up and off we’d go downtown looking at lights and talking about our school day.

Over the years, I’ve added on to my Dicken’s Village and always smiled with love and fond memories of a time when we were poor with material comforts, but rich with Mom’s love and steadfast support.

This Christmas season my heart aches for a time past when the snow filled our sidewalks and the tree lights sparkled on the snow as our sled quietly slid-on through the new blanket of white stuff.

As an adult, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, and I’ve always called my Mom to share with her the joys of the season.

I never realized until recently how my Mom mirrored that joy and how much happier I was after sharing my experiences with her.

With Mom’s passing this October, I find my mirror has a crack and my joys are not as colorful, not as merry.

She wouldn’t want me to feel sad and I’m trying hard to stay merry, but there are times a certain song, a certain smell, a certain Christmas scene takes me back to a time when my Mom was my Mom, and I was her little girl.

And my heart aches for one more moment, one more conversation, one more Christmas memory to share with my mom.

“Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you to the moon and back. Always have. Always will.”

I wish for all of you the merriest of Christmas’s and a Happy New Year, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Thank you for your continued love and support.

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Praying to go Home

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I find myself at a loss for words these days. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are cloudy.

I have never been keen on saying “good-bye” to people, and if the truth be told, I’m the relative that always tears up at the airport and has to blow my nose a few hundred times before sending people on their way.

What can I say? Underneath my wry humor and at times quick wit, I’m an emotional lightweight; especially when it comes to my mom and people that I love.

Mom had to leave her apartment 3 weeks ago and was placed in assisted living. My siblings and I felt she needed more assistance and mom agreed to the move. She was struggling with trying to do simple, daily chores and could barely make an egg for herself to eat for breakfast. She knew that she couldn’t live independently any more and WE knew that she couldn’t, either. All the aides and help from family and friends could not maintain her and keep her safe; no matter how hard everyone tried.

My oldest brother contacted me this week. Mom is in the hospital. Didn’t really surprise me because I talk to her every day and have been keenly aware of the fact that she was not feeling well for some time now.

He called me for a second time this week. I knew when I saw his number on my cell phone that it wasn’t going to be a social call. Everyone that knows my brother knows that he’s not one for idle chatter.

So when I got the second call from him in as many days this week, I knew the call wasn’t going to be fun.

“Hey,” he started. “How ya doing this morning?”

“Swell,” I answered. “What’s up?”

“I just got off the phone with Carmie (our cousin).”

“Mom’s not doing so great. Doctor is referring her to rehab and then recommended that she go to the nursing home, after rehab,” he informed me.

“Hm,” I mumbled. “Doesn’t sound too encouraging.”

“Well,” he answered. “I called Uncle Toney. He’ll go up and see her and said he’d give me a ring later.”

“Yeah,” I responded. “That sounds like a plan. Call me, if you hear anything.”

My mom is over 3,000 miles away, struggling to survive, while at the same time praying to go home.

And I, her oldest daughter, idly sit with heavy heart and cloudy thoughts.

My mom wants us to play and to live life fully and doesn’t want us to feel sad. When she passes, she wants us to go to lunch and laugh with each other and remind each other of past fun times.

And I so want to honor my mother’s last wishes. I so want to be the dutiful daughter.

But it’s hard to laugh and go on living, when my mom is over 3,000 miles away and struggling to survive.

And at the same time praying to go home.

But I know my mom and I know how much she loves to laugh. So I need to hitch up my britches, and I need to go on, because that’s what Momma B. wants.

And what Momma wants, Momma gets.

It’s time to get up.

And it’s time to live.

Have a good day, People. And I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

Mom Goes to Camp

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Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself to get through the emotional roller coaster of having her placed in assisted living – she’s going to an old folks camp to be with her friends.

 

So, why do I feel so sad?

 

I always thought that she’d die in her current abode with a heart attack – never imagined that she’d end up with stage 4 breast cancer and congestive heart failure – never in a million years.

 

She keeps going, my mom. She keeps putting on her lipstick and keeps ironing her clothes and combing her hair.

 

And every day she tells me, “I just don’t understand why I’m so darned lazy. I’m tired just getting out of bed in the morning. Doesn’t make any sense to me. I gotta keep eating to keep up my strength, but I’m too lazy to cook any more; just too darned lazy to cook any more,” she continues before telling me that she can’t talk any more.

 

My 89-year-old mom is going to an assisted living home and I feel guilty and sad and every emotion in between.

 

“She’ll be safe there and have activities and have friends to talk to when she’s lonely.”

 

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself to ease my guilt.

 

“Change is good,” friends and family tell me.

 

“But Mom and I aren’t too keen on change,” I respond.

“She’ll be fine,” they insist. “She needs the extra help and she’s ready to go.”

 

And they’re right: she does need the help and she is ready to go.

 

So, I’ll put on my big girl pants and be grateful that she has loving, caring family members and friends to look after her and let her go off to the old folks camp and pray that God and the angels continue to watch over her.

 

In the meantime, I’m grateful for the continued thoughts and prayers as we stumble along living life in our shoes.

Hullo! Is Anybody home?

For those of you that have regularly followed me over time, you know that I have a mother with a few endearing (or not-so-endearing) little peculiarities. To say that Momma Benedetti’s special character traits haven’t ingratiated herself with many would be a boldface lie. So when my sister and I recently tried to telephone her, repeatedly, and were unable to reach her, we were a tad concerned.

 

My mom has a pretty steadfast routine and RARELY deviates from it. Her morning coffee, a trip to the loo, watching her favorite show, “The Price is Right”, taking out the garbage 3 times a day; walking the circle around her senior complex…you get the picture. We know if it’s Monday afternoon, she’s at the Senior Center playing “pitch”, her favorite card game, and if it’s Thursday afternoon, she’s across the street playing cards with her Thursday group.

 

She eats regularly, poo’s regularly, does her laundry, dusts and makes sure the garbage doesn’t sit in her baskets more than a couple of hours. So when we couldn’t reach her over an 18 hour period of time between her regular routines, my sister and I became concerned.

 

I was hesitant to text our cousin at her job because she does so much for Mom/us and thought long and hard about contacting the complex’s administrative person to check on her, but decided when BOTH my cousin and I couldn’t reach her, that I’d best contact someone at the apartment’s office.

 

Linda, the office administrator, graciously answered, sent up an individual to check on her and lo and behold, 10 minutes later, I received a phone call from Momma.

 

“What’s your problem?” she barked. “I got your phone calls. I was busy eating and didn’t wanna be bothered.”

 

“The maintenance guy scared the heck outta me pounding on the door,” she added.

 

“Cazzo! she continued. “Can’t a body eat in peace without being harassed?”

 

At that point, I took a deep breath, told her that I had to visit the restroom and hung up.

 

Damn that old woman drives me nuts!

 

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Have a great day, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Obama Messes with Ma’s Routine

There are certain things that are as regular as rain in my Mother’s life; and you don’t mess with her routine or she gets a little grumpy. Morning coffee, visiting “the facilities” after morning coffee, playing her weekly card games with the gang; driving to the Dollar Store, and watching her favorite morning show, “The Price is Right”, are set in stone for her.

This morning, President Obama messed with one of Mom’s routines; and as luck would have it, I was the fortunate offspring to make the phone call to her just after Mr. Obama’s untimely faux pas.

“I missed the last 5 minutes of ‘The Price is Right’ this morning and I’m pissed off,” she said when I asked her how she was doing. “I didn’t see who got the car or boat,” she continued. “Obama interrupted the show and I missed the last few minutes of it. Damn it! The man is always 5 to 10 minutes late when he gives a speech, and this morning he had to be early. Boy, he pissed me off!”

“Hm…,” I responded. “How inconsiderate of the guy. What was he talking about?”

“How the hell do I know?” she shot back. “I like the man and all, but I don’t always listen to him – especially when he interrupts my shows. All I DON’T know is who won the car or boat today!”

“Well,” I answered. “Glad to know that ya got your priorities straight.”

“So,” I continued, deciding to strike while the iron was hot. “Ya know who you’re voting for in November?”

“Cazzo,” she answered. “I’m 87 years old, Lucie. Who the hell knows if I’ll even be around this November? I just picked up my car from the garage this morning for the 3rd time this month, and I think my car and ME are both are on our way out. Best I felt was today and yesterday,” she continued. “Must be I’m ready to kick the bucket. They say you feel your best when you’re on your last legs.”

“Well, that’s a sobering thought,” I remarked before she quickly continued.

“And who the hell knows who I’m voting for?” she answered. “They’re both stoonods, idiots, as far as I’m concerned, and Trump seems like a bigger stoonod than the other one, but I’m not so sure I’m ready for a woman to run the country. I’m not gonna worry ‘bout it. I could be dead by then. Who knows? I gotta let you go, Lucie. I’ve still got put-on some lipstick and iron my shorts before I go play cards. I ironed my dungarees this morning, but totally forgot to iron my shorts. Sometimes I’m a stoonod myself. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, honey. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Ma,” I said and the next thing I heard was the phone click off.

Sometimes life throws us these little challenges to keep us on our toes, People. We can either put on a little lipstick and show up, or crawl back into bed and start over again tomorrow – totally your call.

In the meantime, be kind to one another and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Ya Gotta Eat a Little Dirt Once in Awhile

In some parts of the country, the weather Gods haven’t figured out that it’s spring, yet.

As of this writing, my Mom (who lives in upstate NY) is still in her long underwear on a daily basis and I’m 3,000 miles away trying to figure out how my Buddha belly is gonna look in last year’s bikini.

(Yeah, right. And for those of you that think I ever owned a bikini, what medication are you currently taking? I’d like some myself!)

My Mom starts climbing the walls when the weather gets bad and she can’t get out, so I thought I’d best give her a call to see how she was doing.

She usually plays cards with the ladies today and I decided to give her a call to see if she was gonna bundle up and venture out or hang out in her hamster cage for the day.

She answered right away and I asked her what she was doing.

Rarely at a loss for something to say, she started talking immediately.

“I’m eating strawberries, Lucie. Your brother, Anthony, told me that they’re healthy for me. Got something called oxidants or some such thing in them that are supposed to be good for you. Guess they clean your blood and keep your blood pressure down to prevent heart attacks. Sounds like some kind of laundry detergent to me, but what ta hell do I know?” she sarcastically asked.

“Well, Ma, I think you mean antioxidants. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and yes, they’re good for your heart and have been known to reduce blood pressure and inflammation,” I told her.

“And,” I continued.

“They’re rich in potassium, Mom. I’m glad you’re eating them, but I thought you didn’t like berries?” I asked.

“Cazzo,” she responded.

“I hate berries! Your Aunt Carmie eats them with her cereal every day and has been trying to get me to eat them now for years. I can’t stand them,” she empathically let me know.

“I sliced them up and put on a bunch of sugar and then remembered that I had some Cool Whip left over from Easter and slapped on some Cool Whip. They’re not too bad with the sugar and Cool Whip. I don’t know how your Aunt eats them plain, though. Makes me gag,” she informed me.

Yep.

W e l l,” I slowly said in a high pitched voice.

“Sounds to me like you’ve negated the health benefits of the berries with all that additional sugar that you added, but what ta hell do I know? I’m sick all the time and eat my berries nude.”

“Cazzo, Lucie. You gotta eat a little dirt once in a while. You kids eat too healthy and aren’t getting enough natural germs in your system and then get sick all the time. When I was a kid, I was really sickly as a baby and our neighbor told Nonnie to give me a raw egg to help me get stronger. Nonnie did and I got better. You damn kids don’t know how to eat right today. The old timers knew how to eat,” she rattled on without taking a breath.

“Hey,” she continued without letting me get a word in edgewise.

“Aren’t you supposed to be packing for your trip this weekend?” she queried.

“Yeah,” I answered.

“But I thought I’d call you before I started packing and see how you were doing with this crazy weather, lately,” I continued.

“And any way, I don’t know what the hell to pack. The weather’s crazy out here, too. Don’t know if I need my long underwear and boots or bikini and flip flops!” I chuckled, cracking myself up.

“Figurati (fee-GUH-rah-tee, loosely translated: don’t worry about it), Lucie!” she responded, totally ignoring my humor.

“Pack a duffle bag with a pair of undies, socks and a toothbrush, and you’re good to go,” she continued.

“Madonna!”

“You always pack too much shit,” she bluntly informed me.

Yep.

Mom knows best.

I thought I’d pack the flip flops and buy my underwear and a tooth brush on the road. My Doctor said I’ve been carrying around too much weight, lately, anyway.

Remember to be kind to each other today, People, and take the time every day to laugh.

Catch ya next go round, looking at life from my shoes!