Category Archives: Family

Let’s Get Physical

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For Pete’s sake I was much more optimistic earlier this year, wasn’t I?

I swear to God what a clusterfuck life is.  It’s a good clusterfuck, don’t get me wrong, but still.  I’m JUST NOW getting well from a sickness that tried to kill me, as you know.   Or at least kill my sweet husband.  He’s tried everything to care for me and it even came to buying me “Ensure” this past weekend so that I could keep something down.  My friends, that’s love.  Nothing says love like a nutritional chocalate shake aimed at the geriatric.  But he was at the end of his rope.  Things are better.  I have had two days taking a  a shower and even one of them I wore a bra.   BABY STEPS.

Today I even threw out the Indian food I ordered before Christmas.  I’m a regular Florence Henderson. Crap, Ann B. Davis.

We got a damn cat by accident, did I tell you?  Oh yes, I did, I remember now.  (See him up there trying to fist bump me while I’m trying to nap, WTF? In his defense Elliot and Stabler had just kicked some Special Victims ass but still, manners dude.)  On CHRISTMAS EVE there was a storm blowing through our town and we took the girls to look outside for Santa’s sleigh and this damn fat cat just RAN into our house.  I am NOT a cat person.  NOT AT ALL.  Allergic, intolerant and kind of judgmental.  Don’t care for them.  Well, a month later and here it’s a got a collar, vaccinations and sleeps in my bed.  How did this happen?  I call him “Potato” or “Cat Stevens” or “Cat Boone” or “Sauerkraut”.  Everyone has their own name for him.  That’s the beauty of cats, they don’t give a shit what you call them.  I wish I was more like that.

Anyway, he’s kind of an asshole but I like him alright.  He’s learned to use Coop’s dog door right off the bat.  Kind of impressive.  I didn’t know cats did that.  He eats kibble.  He doesn’t scratch.  He sleeps a lot. Super low maintenance.  Jesus, I kind of wish we were dating.

I have a physical ( MY FIRST) on Tuesday and I’m terrified.  I have ridden on the back of a drunken jerk’s motorcycle at 90 miles an hour down the PCH and this 45 minute appointment terrifies me more.  It’s not the Physical itself, it’s the RESULTS.   Cirrhosis.  Liver damage.  Pancreatic Cancer.  AIDS (OMG, that ONE night in Orange County), Lung Cancer, Blindness, Spleen failure ( I don’t even know what my fucking spleen DOES but I want to keep it like an old purse that might someday go with a new outfit).  Ugh. I’m so, so scared.  High cholesterol?  I’ll take it.   But if I come in for my results and they take me into some small dark room with nothing but two chairs and a box of Kleenex I’m OUT like a scalded dog.

Fingers crossed, my friends.   I will go tits up in the parking lot if they just tell me to take more Fish Oil.

The First Thanksgiving

I always knew John Madden was an ass.

Thankful

I have had some funky Thanksgivings, y’all.

One year my live-in boyfriend of 2 years broke up with me after the meal itself and while I was putting up our Christmas tree.  That was fun.  Was it the brussel sprouts, honey?

Another year my Mom and I went to a casual friends house to find that her kitchen was under renovation and she was doing most of the kitchen stuff in the bathroom.  She was doing our dishes, etc. in the tub.  It was disconcerting.

We spent Thanksgiving at the hospital a few years ago with Johnny’s sick Daddy.

One of the BEST in memory was my Mom and I getting up early and going shopping at a craft store.  There was a torrential downpour and we had breakfast at Waffle House and lunch at McDonald’s.  We went to see “Love Actually” and topped the day off with cocktails and “Alice’s Restaurant”.  That was lovely.

Another memorable one was back in my days in Hollywood where me and my gay BFF Jerry decided to say fuck it and go to a bar, avoiding all things turkey.  As we sat in the dark solace of The Frolic Room, I noticed John Cusack sitting at the end of the bar.  He’d been out riding his motorcycle.  We chatted and I was even on the receiving end of a delightful Jagermeister shot.  He wouldn’t let me return the favor.  “I’m not drinking that piss and getting on a bike”.  Smart dude.

One year a friend of mine made me an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner.  Incidentally, he has one arm.  The only thing I did all day was open some evaporated milk with a can opener.

Suh-weet!

This year I’m doing the cooking with an all star assist from my Mother in Law.  We’re mixing it up a little this year since the passing of Johnny’s Father.  I’m doing turkey and all the fixin’s and that automatically puts me in charge of vodka, yo.

Reminiscing about all these Thanksgivings made me realize just how much things have changed.  How this path that I’ve chosen or that chose me has led me to here.  This year more than ever I’m thankful for family and old and new friends.  I’m thankful for an old smelly dog that follows me everywhere.  I’m grateful for finding a terrific job.  I’m thankful that every night I lay down next to my best friend who makes me laugh every single day.

Oh, and tomorrow also happens to be our wedding anniversary.  DOUBLE UP ON THE THANKFUL.   So tomorrow enjoy your day.  Wherever you land, whoever with.  Remember what’s important and remember that there’s plenty of folks out there grateful for YOU.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Esther the Amazing

My Mom and I visited my Grandma last weekend for Mother’s Day. She is 101 years old. She lives alone, drives and uses a computer. She’s really a miracle of sorts. It was a nice weekend filled with many naps, card games, and closed captioning TV*. What I admire most about Grandma is her ability to adapt. She continually surprises me with her willingness to accommodate the changes around her. It truly is remarkable to remember that this woman witnessed the invention of cars, and here she is playing a game of Bridge, online. She’s never been one to throw her hands up in despair and let someone else figure things out. Her motto has always been “he can who thinks he can” and she doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.

Speaking of walking, she was ahead of her time on the exercise bandwagon as well. She’s gone on a walk almost every day of her life. She maintained for years that walking was not just good exercise, but a good way to clear your mind as well. At 101, she still tries to get out most days.

In her tiny village, she was one of the first women who dared to wear “slacks”. She taught herself to drive when my Grandpa was temporarily away from the house. She worked in a Bomber plant during the war, running into the wings of planes and testing electrical functions. She sailed to Denmark with two small children in the 1930’s. She’s traveled the world extensively since then with countless trips including China and Russia. A few years ago she fell and broke her shoulder and her hip. She was in her late 90’s and naturally we thought this would be the end of the road for Grandma. However, no one told her that. My Mother and I would walk into her hospital room to find her doing her physical therapy exercises. Despite the negative prognosis, she recovered. “Good as a new penny!”, she’d exclaim.

Spending four days with Grandma can be somewhat challenging as she is a woman set in her ways, and at 101 – heck, she deserves to be. Her culinary skills are somewhat questionable as she’s been known to dine on a boiled carrot sandwich and sip “silver tea” (hot water). My Mom and I would chuckle as we’d sit down at the breakfast table to find a thimble of orange juice and half a banana. Speaking of Grandma’s kitchen;

That’s right, Avocado green appliances. How very 1970’s. Talk about old school. She has a refrigerator to match. This oven still works like a charm. In fact, it burned my spinach lasagna it worked so well. Damn 1970’s oven.

Grandma’s house is very stylish, although she does have a penchant for ruffles and knick-knacks. I think most Grandma’s do. Like porn, it just goes with the territory. Anyway, Grandma’s house is clean and orderly and also around 103 degrees. Seriously, my Mom and I almost stripped down to our bras to have a conversation without having to wipe the dripping beads of sweat from our temples.

Mom and I did a fair amount of housework for Grandma. Our first task was to wash all the windows, inside and out. Grandma is not one to bark orders and then retire inside with a book. Oh no, she likes to supervise. Despite claiming that her eyesight is failing, she pointed out every smudge and streak that we may have missed.

I am so fortunate to have her as my Grandmother. I am the only granddaughter, so I think we’ve always had an extra special bond. I am one of the few people that can make her laugh. She’s a stern woman, my Granny. I cannot help but admire her strength and courage. She’s been on her own since 1984 when my Grandfather passed away. She’s aged with grace and aplomb and is undaunted by the challenges she faces daily. I know she sometimes feels afraid. She’s wobbly on her feet at times and I know she gets lonely. She’s outlived most of her friends and all but one sibling. I wrote a poem about her years ago comparing her to a sunflower. After all, she’s beautiful and strong. Her roots run deep and weave the tapestry of my life. Her longevity is a mystery to her but she rises each morning and tries to make the most of every day.

As I was preparing to make my spinach lasagna, I went in search of a mixing bowl in Grandma’s cupboards. I stumbled upon this;


Grandma, your secret is out.

* If you ever need a good laugh, watch “King of the Hill” with closed captioning TV. You’ll wet your pants when they have to type any Boomhauer dialogue.

I wish Death would take a holiday.

I’m getting a little tired of receiving voice mails on Friday mornings and learning that someone I love has passed away.

My Aunt Patti died last night. Four weeks since her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Aunt Patti was a character in every sense of the word. She married my Uncle Bill over twenty years ago, yet they have never lived in the same state. “Nontraditional“, she’d say, “but it works for me”. They would visit every other month or so and spent holidays together. At Christmas last year Uncle Bill had been visiting for over a week. We were in the kitchen making a drink and Patti said “Kiddo, you know I love the man, but I’m ready for my space back”. I hear ya, Patti. Smart lady.

Aunt Patti was the first person I ever knew to drink iced coffee. I thought it was the most exotic thing in the world. Growing up, our next door neighbors had a pool that we were allowed to use, with adult supervision. When my parents refused, Aunt Patti would grab a stack of fashion magazines and hit the pool with me, oohing and ahhing in all the appropriate places at my diving antics.

She had exquisite taste and her home was spotless. She had funky tastes, too. Pink pillows, wooden birds and artwork everywhere. She was excellent at embroidery and her handiwork was flawless.

Aunt Patti thought nothing of having a scotch on the rocks at noon. She drank “Vat 69” and it would tickle me to no end. Aunt Patti kept around 20 cigarettes in a glass on her coffee table, she’d pull them out like candy, one after another. She had a fantastic sense of humor and I do not possess one single memory of her that does not involve laughter. She was one of the least judgmental people I’ve ever met and truly had a “live and let live” attitude. She ordered her liquor in bulk and kept a freezer full of Lean Cuisines. For Christmas last year, she gave me a big heavy bag, decorated with all sorts of streamers and festive paper. I peered inside and discovered four different bottles of top shelf vodka. Did I mention that she’s my favorite aunt?

She has had a throw pillow for years that I’ve always loved. It’s embroidered – a picture of a cow, upside down in a ditch, with its four legs and hooves pointed towards the sky. Underneath it reads: “No, really…..I’m fine”. I think this sums up my Aunt Patti. She was intensely private. She took her diagnosis almost flippantly. If she broke down, we never saw it. She was very matter of fact about the whole situation. I could never muster that kind of bravery. She was joking with the Doctors the day before yesterday.

She was eccentric. She marched to her own beat, and I always admired her for that.

Her life made sense to her, as quirky as it was to the rest of us, and I envied that. No, she never wanted kids and her husband lives 500 miles away – what of it? She enjoyed her solitude. She would eat dinner at my house and immediately upon finishing, grab her purse and be ready to head home. I jokingly called her “dine and dash Patti”. She chose her level of involvement with every matter and I respected her for that. Patti never had a problem saying “no” and her unconventional personality made her even more lovable to me.

She didn’t let a lot of people “in”, and I’m so very grateful to have been one of those she did.

Patti, I miss your gentle spirit and acerbic wit already. I bet Daddy will be happy to see you.

She can still see the future.

My Grandma will turn 100 years old in January.

Me: “Hey Grandma! How are you”?

Grandma: “Good, just got in from the eye doctor”.

Me: “Yeah? Everything okay”?

Grandma: “Well, sort of, he says I’m beginning to show signs of macular degeneration”.

Me: “Uh oh”.

Grandma: “Oh, that’s okay honey, I didn’t want to die PERFECT”.

Go Granny, go.