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.
In October of last year, my mom’s 101-year-old aunt passed away.
I was saddened when I first heard the news because dear old Aunt Molly was very loved and quite the character to all who knew her. But she lived a good life – a full life – blessed with a loving daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren; and a handful of nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews, who just adored her.
Aunt Molly wasn’t a rich woman, financially speaking, but she had a heart of gold and would give you the shirt off her back, if you needed it.
As a child, I keenly remembered wanting a new outfit for my Ken doll and never had any money to buy it. We didn’t have allowances in those days. Mom barely had enough money to feed us, let alone buy a silly suit for my Ken doll. So Aunt Molly, discovering my little wish one day, decided to play a female version of Robin Hood and came over the house with a jar full of change that she had collected from the under sides of her couch cushions.
“Lucie,” she said, while I was sprawled out on the living room carpet playing with my Barbie and Ken.
“Do me a favor, honey, and count the money in my change jar. Let’s see if there’s enough money for this new suit for Ken,” she smiled while winking at my mother.
I knew the exact cost and counted each coin with anticipated excitement.
“Oh my God,” I exclaimed to my aunt as I finished the tally. “There’s enough money for my Ken outfit and money to spare!”
“Are you giving all this money to ME, Aunt Molly? Or do you want some of it back?” I selfishly continued, all the while praying that she didn’t want the inconvenience of lugging any of the left over change back to her house.
“No, Lucie,” she responded. “It’s all yours, Honey.”
That was my Aunt Molly.
And when it came to eating, she was always on some special “See food diet”; whatever food she SAW, she inevitably ate. But according to her doctors, she wasn’t supposed to be eating it.
You could never set out a plate for her to join you in your meal because “the doctor said” she could never eat whatever it was you were making.
So, you’d reluctantly set the table (minus a dish for Aunt Molly) and start serving the food.
“Ya know, “ she began. “The doctor said that I shouldn’t be eating too much pasta any more, but what do they know? Cazzo! A little pasta ain’t gonna kill me, for God’s sake. Gimme a little taste of that, ok?”
“OK,” one of us would respond. “But Aunt Molly why don’t you let me get you a plate and some silver ware and I’ll make you a small plate of food?” the individual would kindly suggest.
“No, no, sweetheart. I can’t have this any more. Just get me a spoon and I’ll just take a little taste, OK?” she responded.
So, a spoon would be gotten and Aunt Molly would commence to tasting.
A few tastes and an empty plate later, Aunt Molly would be gently poking me in my ribs and asking, “Lucie, maybe you want some meatballs with your pasta? The meatballs look kinda good. The doctor says I shouldn’t be eating any meatballs, but what do doctors know? Cazzo! A taste of meatballs ain’t gonna kill you, for God’s sakes! Maybe get us some meatballs, honey, ok?” she implored, all the while continuing her part of the dinner conversation.
“Ok, Aunt Molly,” I responded. “But seriously, why don’t you let me get you your own plate and I’ll give you a smidgen of pasta and half a meatball?”
“Cazzo!” she answered, “Didn’t your mother tell you? I can’t eat this stuff.”
“Yeah, we know, Aunt Molly,” I started to say, and then everyone at the table chimed in, “’Cuz the doctor said you shouldn’t be eating it. Right, Aunt Molly?” we teasingly asked her.
“Cazzo!” she again responded, using her favorite Italian swear word.
“Darn doctors don’t know anything these days,” she continued while scooping up another spoonful of pasta.
“What ‘cha gonna do?” she lovingly added while nodding her head and smiling.
“What ‘cha gonna do?”
My mom’s aunt was a kind, loving, beautiful little character, who I’ll always remember chatting and nibbling at our kitchen table. She had a memory that never failed to amaze me and a heart made outta gold. She was one of my first advocates and heroines and had a story and a smile to share with anyone and everyone that’d give her just a “taste of time”.
R.I.P., Aunt Molly. You’ll forever be 50 to me, dear heart.
You’ll forever be 50 to me…
Have a great day, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.
The Princess and I, like thousands of others this winter season, are experiencing the dregs of the cold and flu season. Both of us, unfortunately, had to be placed on antibiotics.
And lucky us – we were on the same medication – a medication that had a number of nasty side effects affecting our stomachs.
At 3 o’clock in the morning that Saturday, after starting my first dosage of the drug and experiencing terrible abdominal cramps on my left side, Doogie Houser here diagnosed appendicitis and figured I’d soon be on a surgery gurney having my worthless appendix out. (It hadn’t dawned on me, yet, that one of the side effects of the medication was abdominal discomfort and diarrhea.)
It also never occurred to me in the two hours while I was waiting to be seen at urgent care earlier that day, that my partner’s never-ending visits to the ladies room, after starting her antibiotic the night before, should be of any concern to me. I was so congested and feverish that I could barely see straight, let alonethink straight.
By 3:30 that morning, when I decided that I couldn’t get any rest from the constant coughing, sneezing, and stomach cramps, I figured maybe throwing together a pot of homemade soup would be just the thing for what ailed us.
Chicken soup seemed too arduous a job for me at that hour, so I brilliantly determined that Mom’s pasta fazool (a simple Italian soup of pasta and beans) would be just the thing for two, sick old women experiencing abdominal cramps and diligently set about to make it.
Yep, bean soup.
Genius here figured pasta and beans would be the perfect antidote for two old women experiencing a cacophony of delightful belly music.
God has a strange sense of humor, People. And he often uses me as his conduit for laughter.
Take care, Guys, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.
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.
“It’s too hard here, “ she said while we paused momentarily from our morning walk. “It’s too hard here and I‘m moving to North Dakota to be with family,” she informed me and quickly changed the subject and asked how we were adjusting to the area.
The Princess and I met Marsha over the summer when we first moved to our new home. We thought that a water aerobics’ class would be just the thing for two, out-of-shape seniors and would give us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to some new people. So, we reluctantly squeezed into our undersized swimsuits and headed out to our community pool to meet some new folks.
And meet new folks we did. But whoever said water aerobics was easy on the body and good for what ails you never injured their sartorius muscle on their hip and walked around with a limp for two months!
Yep, I knew the moment I injured it. Lucky me. I take a water class for gentle exercise and injure myself.
But I digress.
Marsha was one of the lovely individuals that I met in the pool this summer, and I knew from the day I met her that she and I could be good friends over time. So, when I hurt my hip and had to stop class, I felt badly that I wouldn’t be able to develop a friendship with her. I had always hoped that I would run into her in our little community and was altogether delighted when we happened upon each other during a recent morning walk.
“Gosh,” I thought when spotting her walking on the other side of the street. “This is totally cool. I’ll get a chance to tell her why I stopped coming to class and maybe she and I can set up a time to have tea and chat.”
And then she told me that she was leaving town for two months and that when she came back, she was going to put her house on the market and was moving to North Dakota to be with family.
“It’s been hard living here by myself for the past few years. I lost my husband and in-laws all within a short period of time, and it’s just been hard on me living alone.”
Totally bummed out about her impending move and unaware that her husband had passed, I said, “ Oh my gosh, Marsha. I didn’t know your husband had died. When we chatted in the pool this summer, I assumed the activities that you were talking about with your husband were recent, and that he was still alive. I am so sorry.”
What she shared with me next, struck me as so forsaken. She informed me that, “Nobody wants to hear your sob story. I don’t want to be a downer in people’s life, so I just didn’t say anything to you.”
I still can’t get what she said out of my heart. Here’s this lovely, caring individual walking by my home for the past 4 months thinking of dropping by to say, “Hi”, but not doing so because she didn’t want to appear too pushy or forward; or better yet a downer if she shared a sad part of her life.
All I could say was that, “I wished she had dropped in. That she might have been treated to some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. “
And then I asked her, “What’s the worst that could have happened if you knocked on my door? That I said that I had an appointment and couldn’t visit just then?”
“Big deal,” I continued. “We could have set up another time to chat and it would have been great.”
But she was afraid of rejection I’m sure and looking foolish maybe. I don’t know for sure.
I see so many missed opportunities for people to connect and share their lives, but too many individuals are afraid to take that step and put themselves out there because they’re afraid of rejection; afraid of being turned down.
“Your losses are a part of your life, Marsha; a part of you,” I continued. “It’s not a sob story to me, but a part of your life that would be important for me to know if it’s an important part of what makes you, you.”
“Gosh, I’m so sorry that you didn’t stop by; so sorry that you didn’t drop in, “ I told her and gave her my business card with my email and phone number.
“PLEASE, “ I asked of her. ”Do consider calling me. Please think about having tea with me before you leave.”
And she graciously smiled and we parted and went on our way.
I don’t know who I felt sorrier for that day – me for losing what I saw as a future good friend – or she for losing an opportunity of a solid friendship?
Guess it was a tie.
We both lost.
May the holiday season be filled with good food, much laughter and the company of loving family and friends! And I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.
We had to say good-bye to our sweet, dear Mollie today.
It was the right thing to do; the compassionate, kind thing to do.
But somehow all that doesn’t matter to our broken hearts right now. All I know is that this black and white fur ball – that at times drove me totally off the deep end – made me laugh and smile (most of the time) and brought endless joy to my life.
I know we were good Mommies. I know we loved her completely and totally and spoiled her like no other.
But somehow all that doesn’t matter right now.
All I know is that there’s a hole in my heart as big as the entire outdoors; and no sweet, little fur ball laying on top of my chest tonight poking her precious, pink noise in my face staring at me with those cute, sweet, raccoon eyes of hers.
The Princess and I love you sweet Mollie Girl. Love you with all our hearts.
Rest in peace, little sweetheart. You brought us much joy.
So who said you needed to drive an RV on all six wheels? Certainly not my Princess!
As one who was accustomed to freeway driving in the San Francisco Bay Area for most of her life, learning to drive a newly acquired, 25 ft. Fleetwood Pulse across three states during a season of raging fires was a piece of cake.
There were moments that I felt this cake was gonna be of the upside down, pineapple variety, but I’m happy to report that me and our little blue house-on-wheels are right side up and safely home.
I’m currently taking multiple antacids for my stomach and need a new prescription for anti-anxiety medication, after our little road trip. Other than that, life is good on the Olympic Peninsula of Northern WA.
During the spring of this year, my oldest brother and his wife decided that tooling around the United States in a 30 ft. RV was something that was worthwhile and adventurous for two young’uns new to retirement. And the Princess and I – getting too old for sleeping on leaky, plastic air mattresses and squatting in poison ivy bushes to pee – decided that maybe my brother and his wife were on to something. After all, there’s something to be said about sleeping on a mattress without a rock, the size of Gibraltar, poking at one’s plump, highly sensitive hinny. And having access to an indoor plumbing facility, minus the thrill of an ivy bush, we felt was just peachy for these two old gals.
So we set out on an earnest search in the local area for an RV that we could afford and was to our liking. Unfortunately, after scouring the area and not finding anything we liked (and could afford) we were ready to throw in the towel until next season, when my brother, Anthony, called and got involved in the search… and within hours had us a perfect little house on wheels.
The one minor detail: this rolling abode of adventure was located in the state of fry sauce and mini vans (a.k.a. Utah). Other than that, it was a perfect vehicle for the two fur-balls and us.
The only thing the Princess and I needed to do was to drive out there – thru 3 smoke-filled states on fire – purchase it, clean it out, learn to drive and operate it, and get it back home before we took off for NY to check on Momma B.
And we did just that.
In between time, we learned to drive on a 7 lane freeway with wall to wall traffic, navigate tornado-like winds without steering off a cliff, question the quality of mom and pop gas stations selling old diesel fuel; and utilize friendly truckers, when navigating Mt. passes on fire about to get a snow storm.
And the mother of all-important things that these RV rookies are truly grateful for learning is that you ALWAYS (Yes, People, ALWAYS!) empty your black water BEFORE your gray water!
Or you may unwittingly find yourself the butt of your fellow RVer’s jokes and campfire conversations.
With the addition of a gas additive the former owner left in the vehicle, the advice of a friendly trucker in Idaho, named Jolene, and all kinds of suggestions and prayers from family members and friends, we made it safely back home; where we were promptly greeted by two sick kitties, who were happy to have their mommies back for some special, bed-time snuggling.
Now we just need to figure out why our “Kwikee step” on the RV ain’t so quick to open, and get a local auto dealer here in no man’s land to replace Li’l Blue’s recalled passenger airbag.
Other than that, the Princess, Li’l Blue, and I are doing just swell here in the land of long underwear, rain slickers and roundabouts.
Hope the Fall Season is finding all of you healthy and happy. Take care and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.
I never quite understood, until recently, what many of our friends and family members meant when they told us, “We may not have seen you a lot, but we always knew you were there.”
Over the years, the Princess and I developed a loving group of dedicated friends who shared many an adventure with us. We played bocce ball, held Christmas parties, played board games together, organized camping and hiking expeditions, took long beach walks and went on many a snow shoeing outing over the winters.
And in between time, we became family to a number of individuals and created quite a few traditions that people came to look forward to and are currently missing.
We, too, are missing those special connections and traditions from of our past. Some of our CA friends have told me that they are cruising by our former home and reminiscing of times gone by, and it saddens me to know that somehow our moving has left a hole in their heart; and that somehow they’re feeling less connected and less whole.
The fast pace of an ever growing Silicon Valley and the affluence and entitlement that was coming with it forced us to look at our life in what we once thought was Paradise and head out to new digs and fresh adventures and start some alternative traditions with a different group of people.
We have a special bond with our CA friends that was nourished with shared lasagna, garlic bread, numerous glasses of wine and a lot of laughter over the years.
People need community and a sense of belonging.
And eating good food and drinking fine wine while you’re doing this, was a definite bonus.
I get that.
In light of all the heartache going on in the world today, I think we need it now more than ever before.
In our own silly, innocent way, every time the Princess and I got people together, we were letting these individuals know that they were important. They mattered. We loved them and we cared.
So, let me state this very clearly: “ Relationships (both near and far, new and old) are damn important to the Princess and me. We value the laughter, the love and the steadfast support as we go forward in this new chapter of our life. And encourage each of you to write, call, and make plans to visit us and share in some lasagna, French bread and fine wine.”
And being the “Queen of Pot Lucks” and skinflint that I am, you’d best be bringing your own wine and bread. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be making the lasagna!
In the meantime, enjoy the remaining days of summer and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.
Finally, after months of searching and agonizing and driving for miles, I am finally home.
The search for our perfect house was arduous. The negotiating was tedious. The packing and unpacking was endless and the unpacking is still going on. I’m thinking we’ll be completely unpacked in another 5 years. But “it’s all good”, as our steadfast, loving Washington realtor reminded us on a regular basis.
It’s all good.
The cats are currently trying to figure out what kind of long-legged felines the deer roaming our backyard resemble. The Princess is trying to understand the complexities and logic of roundabouts while cruising around town.
And I’m still looking for my long underwearthat’s somewhere buried in one of these mystery boxes.
It’s all good, though.
We’re currently experiencing balmy weather in this part of the country, but woo-hoo when it’s cold out here, it’s bone chilling cold.
Yes-siree, Bob, I’m sure glad the Princess and I like the cooler temps, because we’d sure as heck be SOL, if we didn’t.
The sun comes up early in the morning in the summer months and doesn’t set until well into the evening hours, and we just got internet services for the first time in two weeks. The world has gone on without Lucie and the Princess’s daily participation and knowledge of it.
And as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good. Mind you, the Princess doesn’t currently share that opinion, but the Princess has been through our local roundabout one too many times, lately.
Our journey here was challenging, but rewarding.
When we crossed the southern edge of the Washington border, rain, cold and clouds greeted us as we quietly drove-on into what seemed like an endless gray mass of cold and yuck. Each of us quiet with our thoughts and emotions, as the two cats slept-on snuggled safely in their special traveling carrier that we meticulously stuffed with soft, woolen blankets and items that smelled vaguely familiar and reminded them of home.
As the rain pounded our windshield, the car’s wipers appeared to quietly repeat my silent prayer with each passing stroke: “Please, Lord, keep us safe and let this be the right decision for my family and me.”
“Please Lord,” I solemnly mouthed while looking out at the cold, rainy scene of what was soon to be my home state.
When we finally pulled into the driveway of our house that Friday evening, tired and emotionally wrought, we gathered up our belongings and set about blowing up what would be our bed for the first two nights.
Todd, our Allied van driver, wouldn’t arrive until two days later. I remembered watching him carefully pilot his 18-wheeled behemoth, containing our furniture and comfy beds, crawling slowly down our roadway through a ghost-grey fog and hair-curling mist, and wondering, “Did the Princess and I really do this? Did we just move miles away from family and loved ones to a state where virtually no one knows us and leave behind most everything and everyone that’s dear to us?”
And then my older brother, Anthony and his wife, Lucy, showed up driving their RV from a visit with my niece in Seattle to come help us with our move in.
This gray-haired lug who I fought with as a child over everything from mowing the lawn to shoveling the driveway was suddenly Lancelot with his adoring Guinevere standing next to him, smiling and graciously offering us a chair that she had taken out of the RV.
“Here, Lucie,” she said while setting up one of their folding chairs in the middle of our empty living room floor. “Sit down for a minute. You look like you could use a little break.”
And then my brother came over to me before I collapsed into one of the chairs, embraced me in a bear hug and whispered into my ear, “You did good, Lucie. You both did good, and I’m proud of you.”
Yes we did. And we continue to do good with the support of loving, kind family members, friends and strangers who want nothing for us but good things.
We still don’t have television, haven’t read a newspaper in days, and are still waiting for the Maytag people to pick-up the broken microwave and repair the new washer and dryer, but life is good at our end, People, and I pray that life is good with you, too.
Be well and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.