My Mother’s Eulogy, You Myopic Jackass

I’ve been working on my mother’s eulogy.

She’s not dead. She wants to be, but the universe isn’t so merciful.

But I need to write the eulogy now. Mom deserves for someone to stand and speak for her. So I will. But if I am going to do it well, I have to write it now.

I am going to breach all etiquette and turn the eulogy toward those that attend the funeral. And to those that don’t.

And people are going to be angry. But if I do it right, they will take from my mother’s funeral the one thing she wished for all of them in life.

The intrinsic desire to be good. To be kind. To help people.

Mom was a giver. She still wants to be, even bound as she is in the ill-fitting wheelchair in the nursing home that stinks of illness, and bleach, and shit.

Over the course of my life, she took in over 30 kids – runaways, travelers from other countries, kids on the outs with their own parents. Some stayed only a few days, long enough to work out parental differences; others stayed months, even years.

When I was in high school and the local children’s home caught on fire, the staff brought ALL the kids to our house to stay safe and accounted for while the fire was addressed. She fed them all, let them call their families in all parts of the world.

She delivered countless Christmas gifts, all marked “From Santa” to homes that Santa himself was forced to pass by. She fed people, she gave them money, she gave them clothes, rides, a safe place to go when they were in trouble, a trustworthy person to talk to when they were scared or unsure.

She helped people escape abuse, addiction and homelessness.

She gave until she literally couldn’t.

Until, in the space of 4 years, she lost her mother, then her job, then her ability to walk. Then she lost her home, her possessions, and, for a while, her sanity. Then she lost her husband, then her brother, then her father, then her ability to feed herself, to write letters, to communicate fluidly.

Then she lost her hope.

Because, despite the number of people she reached down to lift up, she has sat day after day in that foul nursing home for 4 long years, alone.

Those 30 some odd people she took in when they needed help? Exactly one of them has gone to visit her. One.

And that one is from the other end of the country and made it a point to see Mom on a short 4 day trip.

The rest? Most of them are right here, 30 miles away or less.

Her friends, with one great exception, haven’t been to visit since my father died.

Her best friend of 35 years hasn’t bothered, no calls, no visits – she has a special, golden seat at the top of my shit list. She was a second mother to me, and she abandoned Mom, completely.

Family is hit or miss, they are better, some of them, at least. But those that live too far away to visit call me, if they call at all. SHE is the one that needs to know you care. SHE is the one that would love to hear a friendly, familiar voice. Call her.

People are too busy to be bothered with a visit. Fine, send a card. Call. Send a photo of your kids.

Or they don’t like nursing homes. What sort of dumb-assed, ignorant statement is that? NO ONE likes nursing homes. I think you can shelve your delicate sensibilities for an hour and go visit – she hates nursing homes too. And she has to LIVE there. You self-centered asshole.

You don’t know what to say? Say anything. Tell her about your kids, your job, your vacation, the movie you watched or the asshole that cut you off on the freeway. You say the same damn things you’d’ve said to her if she wasn’t in that chair.

Because she is still a person. She still likes to hear about the lives of the people she loves. And anything, anything at all that you can say to her would distract her, just for a moment, from the pain, from the heartache, from the loneliness that is her whole world now.

She is in over a million beds in 1000s of nursing homes, waiting.

So why don’t you shake off your myopic stupor and look beyond yourself? Take a moment to be a good person, to put someone else before your own selfish discomfort with a visit. Take 5 minutes from the hectic schedule that YOU built and send a card. Odds are, your cell phone is nearly melded to your ear anyway, why not call her?

Remember – right now you are living YOUR eulogy.

A Little Too Late

The world has a terrible tendency to gift me with EVERYTHING I need, once I no longer need it. Seriously, this is no exaggeration.

A couple of quick examples from the past month alone:

I win $250 bucks on a scratch ticket the day AFTER $100 worth of checks bounce.

I receive an offer in the mail for a free month supply of Frontline, 2 days AFTER I plunked down $50 for the mega-sized-dog vial.

I received an email reminder about my automatic life insurance withdrawal 3 hours AFTER the withdrawal (triggering the bouncy bouncy previously mentioned)

After deciding I would never again receive the Staples in store purchase coupons, I caved and bought ink. Picked up the mail on the way back, and BINGO, there it was – $20 off an in store purchase of $50. I’d just spent 47.98.

And, inevitably, AFTER I sneeze, someone offers me a tissue.

To emphasize this idea, and because I am a geek, I made a Venn Diagram to illustrate this concept:

VennWere it not for the one element hanging out in the overlap area, I would surely be insane.

A while back, I was taking my wheelchair-bound Mother on a two state journey every couple of months to see a special neurologist for her rare, you’re-more-likely-to-win-the-lottery disease. Most times, I was lucky and had the aid of a very gracious Aunt, who came complete with a wheelchair accessible van.

So. Much. Gratitude.

Buuuut a couple of times I had to go it alone. Or with a helper that was, well, not so helpful.

One of the worst parts of those excursions was bathroom time. People go to the bathroom several times in any given 8 hour period. More so, when they have bladder problems. Plus, Specialists love lab reports, and urinalyses provide great ones.

So I got in lots of bathroom time. And for those of you that have never helped a fully disabled adult use the restroom, let me assure you, it is an exercise in strength, acrobatics, balance and ewwwww. And sometimes, sitting in a stranger’s pee.

But you can’t let the ew part out. Because the person you are helping feels bad enough already. That is the moment they feel least dignified.

So you are as efficient and thorough as possible, and you try to make light as you go.

But these…


WHYYYYYY weren’t these given to me back when I was facing all that poop that didn’t belong to me?

As a Cottonelle Brand Ambassador I was introduced to these (I bought them myself, but until I was invited to BE a Brand Ambassador I had never heard of them) and I can say they are fantastic. I suspect my kid’s underpants may never bear skid marks again.

But when I think back to some of the more notable bathroom adventures in Boston – the slip ‘n fall, the poo shoe and other delightful memories, and consider how utterly awesome it would be to have had these little beauties back then, I can’t help but wonder –

Why does the Universe always deliver to me a little too late??

Girl Brain V. Boy Brain: The Safe Word


That’s our safe word. We came up with it last night after a…disturbing…event.

Girl-brain got hurt. It was unintentional, but knowing that didn’t stop the burn.

Boy-brain is genuinely a nice guy. He makes me laugh and he treats me well.

But he does this thing, only now and then, but it makes me uncomfortable. And sometimes angry.


While not strictly illustrative of my point, this made me laugh, so here you go.

I have a little streak of type A that surfaces now and then, and my husband, well, doesn’t.

There are things that drive me batty in our house that he thinks are ridiculous, but he takes care of them because he loves me.

Minor example: Shoes left on the floor. That drives me nuts for three reasons.

  1. We have a defined place for them – let them be home, with their brethren
  2. I trip over them – almost always while carrying a hot liquid or something heavy
  3. The dog chews them – shoes do not grow on trees

And because my family knows this, shoes are normally placed in the boot box. Because it’s easy, it takes two seconds, and it is better than me ranting and raving about them.

But sometimes, my husband forgets that this matters to me. I’ll find his shoes at the edge of the couch. Or in the middle of the bathroom. At first, I pick them up and put them away.

Everyone forgets sometimes, right?

Then it happens a bit more frequently. So on the way to the boot box, I pop into the living room and hold up the shoes. “Bootbox.”

Then the next thing I know, I have cooked dinner for 2 weeks straight, done every dish in the house and all the laundry and put the same legos away 200 times. I’ve taken out the trash and cleaned the cat box and what the hell happened?

This is not our normal division of labor. To be fair, we don’t have a specified division, because I am not type A enough for that. But we kind of have one. We are both expected to do things. And someone needs to keep an eye on the kid.

Once I hit the WhatTheHell? phase, I start asking here and there. Can you cook tonight? Can you take out the trash?

And usually that is enough.

But sometimes. Now and then. About 3 or 4 times a year, it isn’t..

To be fair, he will ALWAYS cook if I ask.

But I’ll get a yes to the trash, then his baseball induced ADD takes over and he forgets about it. Not just the  trash, but the fact that I even asked.

After a few rounds of asking, I end up just picking it up myself, for a couple of reasons.

  1. I am not his mother
  2. It needs to be done
  3. When I am irritated, I am queen of the Pissy Pick up.

But I stew. And eventually it bubbles over into a full-blown crazy rant.

I had one of those little melt downs the other night. And it went just like the others. I tell him that it has been x # of days since Z, and I am officially on strike until he catches up with some effort. I express my frustration about the work division, and the  fact that we periodically have these conversations.

He asks me if I’ve taken my meds.


I must have forgotten, because clearly, it is the lack of Zoloft that is screwing with me, not the fact that I have cooked diner for 2 weeks straight and done every dish in that same time frame.

He concedes that he hasn’t been doing enough, and promises to jump back on the rotation.

I  mention that it is not the first time he has said that.

He points out that I have won, but since I am still going, clearly I just need to vent.


He laughs at me because I haven’t picked up on the cycle.

What cycle?

And for the first time, he explained the cycle.

Most of the stuff doesn’t register with him. He doesn’t care that there is a stack of clean dishes on the sideboard when someone pops in (I HATE the pop-ins). Or even if there are some dirty dishes in the sink. It doesn’t matter if the books are on the shelves vertically or horizontally, or if the sheets are folded.

These things are inconsequential. When faced with the choice between playing with Q or putting away dishes, he doesn’t see a choice. Quinn matters, dishes in cupboards do not.

Point, boy brain.

But because it doesn’t really matter, he doesn’t notice how long it has been between his efforts. Until I bring it up.

Which I don’t do until it has bubbled and foamed away in my brain for several days.

I argue that it is absurd that it gets to the point where the frothing crazy begins to show before he kicks back into normal gear. That we have the same conversation in cycles.

His solution was simple. “So, bring it up earlier.”

I point out that I do, but it doesn’t stick.

Possibly because I am just as likely to ask him to do something for no particular reason, as I am to ask him to do something because I am going to cut out his eyes soon, if he doesn’t.

So we decided on a safe word.

A word outside of the context of our lives to call attention to the fact that I have had enough.

That this request to do the dishes isn’t laziness or preoccupation on my part, but because I’m at the point of considering the logistics of living off sandwiches for the rest of our lives.

Thus, orangutan.


You can pick your own.


I Am the Center of A Cosmic Conspiricy of the Absurd

I overslept. All the way through my first client, until the little woke me up just before 10 AM, hungry.


I have never, in 4+ years, missed a call due to something like this.

I was on my feet, grabbing peanut butter and bread to slap a sandwich together for the little as the computer booted up and I logged into my various cyber doohickeys.

Sit down with a nuked cup of yesterday’s coffee, 2 minutes late for my second call.

Not bad. When I was done, a quick call to reschedule and offer  profuse apologies to the client I stood up, and I could get back in my groove.

Make coffee. Check email. Check in with the nursing home to see if they had arranged for transportation for Mom to visit her father in the hospital. It might be the last time she can see him.

Deep breath over the first cup of real coffee, but as I took the first sip I realized that I missed trash day.

That’ll be awesome after a few more days in this God awful heat.


Rocking the day so far. Better take this half hour window to get myself together – prepare for the meeting with the big boss man later today.

The first time ever, I have had to sit at the grown ups table, and I somehow dropped the ball. We were green-lighted right up until he was given the contract to sign.

Then some cosmic jackass pulled the needle across the record.

One more meeting. We need to justify the expense and my decision-making for the material I provided to my department manager.

That meeting is why I overslept. It’s freaking me out, making me chew Xanax like candy, and staying up ’til 1 AM double checking everything.

T minus 6 hours.


Then the phone rang.

My grandfather died.


BUT. Lest you think I can get through a day without an absurdity, please, read on.

But first, a couple of things you need to know.

  • My husband has allergies to certain insects, so 4 times a year we have our yard treated by a pest services company.
  •  My mother worries to an absurd degree, if someone doesn’t arrive promptly on time she assumes they have been involved in an accident. If they get to the point of being 20 minutes late she assumes they are dead.
  •  We are remodeling the bathroom (still) and have taken down the curtains and blinds to paint.
  •  Behind our house there is a stack of uninstalled picket fencing I bought to keep our toddler from running too close to the road. We don’t actually HAVE a toddler, but we did when I bought the fencing. 3 years ago.

When the call came in, I had to move fast, as the nursing home had told Mom they were arranging for her to go see my grandfather. Delays in that process would freak my mother out.

I spent a precious few minutes clearing my work docket for the day, and another few touching base with my brother and my aunts.

Since I had overslept, I was still in my pjs, so I grabbed clothes and bolted  to the bathroom, shedding my jammies as I entered. I sat down to pee, and grabbed my bra off the counter to multi-task by dressing as I peed.

As I was jacking my arms around back to fasten, I finally turned my head toward the window to see the guy from the pest services company.

Eyes wide, mouth agape, about 10 inches from the uncurtained window, looking in.

And there was nowhere for me to go. The bathroom is tiny, and um, I was peeing.

While I looked, he covered his face with his hand and took a step backwards, disappearing in space.

He’d stepped off the stack of fencing he’d been standing on and collapsed in a heap on our lawn.

Mortified, I finished dressing and left the bathroom.

But because this is me, the story couldn’t end there, with that minor humiliation.

Oh no. When I went out to get in my car, I was blocked in.

I had to face him, to ask him to move his truck so I could get out.

His face was still red, and he was limping.

I kind of wish I could read the Worker’s Comp Accident description.

**** WordPress would like me to tag with post with “Heisman Trophy” “Manning Passing Academy” and “Louisiana” I do not understand technology.

The Day I Killed My Father

My father was strong. He was a hard worker, with lively eyes that sparked with kindness and a silly sense of humor. He loved his family, and was quick to help friends.

My whole life I was aware of his hands, so much bigger than mine, how much stronger. When my son was born, those strong hands held my son’s tiny, fragile ones so gently it made me teary.


But he had a stubborn streak. In internal iron that made him unwilling to speak up when uncomfortable. He worked when he was tired, he worked when he was sick. He worked when he’d rather be lying on the couch with a crossword puzzle.

This stubborn streak made him put my mother first when she fell, breaking her shoulder. And when her rehab failed. And when she had a psychotic break and was placed in a psych ward for electro-shock therapy.

Through that, I knew he was unwell. I could hear the labored breathing, see the tired behind his eyes. But he wouldn’t see a doctor.

I finally played the guilt card, throwing his love for my son at him like a weapon, demanding he see a doctor. He went, begrudgingly, and got a heart condition under control, but he balked at the pulmonary specialist.

And he got weaker. I stopped him from visiting my mother daily, concerned that he would fall asleep while driving. I began visiting him daily instead. Cooking, cleaning, urging him to come live with us.

But he didn’t want to leave his home, convinced that my mother would be returning to it.

On Christmas Eve, the pulmonary doctor called and gave me the diagnosis. Cancer, advanced. I kept the news to myself, for the holiday, then called my brother. We agreed, it was time for Dad to move. It was unsafe for him to stay, alone, all day in his house.

So we strong-armed him.

On the sub-zero Saturday after Christmas, my brother, my sister-in-law and I descended on his home. We busied ourselves dismantling the hospital bed, moving the assist recliner, packing his clothes and emptying the fridge.

My father wandered through the house, looking at 63 years of his life and deciding what to bring.

In the end, when we were tired, cranky, sore and impatient, I turned to ask Dad if he was ready. What I saw broke my heart.

He sat in my mother’s favorite chair, still wearing his coat. I hadn’t even noticed that he hadn’t taken it off. He was perched on the edge, like an uncomfortable guest. His elbows were on his knees, his frail hands twined around the handles of a small plastic grocery sack.

He’d chosen such strange things. An old, broken watch. A small wooden chest full of wheat pennies. A transistor radio and a toy car. A crossword puzzle book and a pen.

63 years of a strong life, slumped on a chair under the weight of knowing he would never bring his wife back to the home they’d shared. Of knowing his independence was gone. Of trying to fit the most important memories from a full house into a plastic sack.

Until that moment, he had still had hope, had still tried to have some of the life he wanted to live.

But when I forced him to come with me, he was too weak to fight. So I took those things from him.  And that knowledge was so clearly written on his face it became an indelible memory.

And that was when my father died. He gave up.

It was necessary. Intellectually, I know that. That necessity driven home by the fall he had just a couple of short weeks later. Had he been alone he would have stayed on the cold floor next to his bed for nearly a day before I would have come to check on him.

He might have died physically on the floor, in the dark, by himself.

By being with us he was made comfortable. My husband and I got him back into bed, called paramedics to take him to the hospital where he died a few days later, surrounded by so many people and so much love that the hospital provided us with a private room, for free.

I know it was the right thing to do. But every time I think of him, I think of those fragile hands, and that death before death. And I feel cruel.

Screw Equality, That’s Some Freaky Sh*t

redI’m sure you’ve seen this today – on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Just in case you have been living under a rock and don’t get it, here’s a two sentence education:

The symbol stands for the support of equality. It’s everywhere today because the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about two equality cases – one regarding California’s Prop 8, the other regarding the Defense of Marriage Act.

And this post? If a full-blown rant.

For those of you who support equality, good for you. You recognize that people are people, love is love, and family is family.

For the rest of you…the ones talking about what the queers are doing to the institution of marriage, the definition of marriage, the slippery slope that will result in being able to marry a frigging dog, and the God argument…please check in to reality with the rest of us.

First  – the destruction of marriage. Are you kidding me? How many hetero couples have filed for divorce this year? How many adulterers are there out there? How many dead beat dads and break down mothers? You think the gay population getting TOGETHER is going to damage an institution that is falling apart? If anything, they will have a better understanding of how precious it is, as it was denied for so long – much the same way a man dying of thirst has a greater appreciation for water than you do right now.

And the defining of marriage argument kills me.

In a court brief, council Charles Cooper had this to say in the Prop 8 argument, “Marriage owes its existence to the undeniable biological reality that opposite-sex unions — and only such unions — can produce children.”

That’s your argument? Really? So why, then, do we not have to mandate that all married couples bear children? Why do we not force the annulment of marriages when one or both members of the union are unable to procreate? And why do we not take the children out of single family homes?

Also, Mr. Cooper – Science is quite near to making that a factually inaccurate statement…what then? It already has, if you count artificial insemination.

And the slippery slopers? You people have to be trying to sound this ridiculous. Honestly. When women were given the ability to vote, did we suddenly see people lobbying for us to count the votes of dogs? Rights are rights, and it was agreed upon at the birth of this country that they are inalienable, not something to be granted or withheld at the whim of the paranoid and reactionary. Stop being an idiot.

And that brings me to the God argument…the people who want to save their souls.

Don’t. Please, just don’t. Every person’s relationship with God, Divine Energy, Allah or whatever you want to call it, is personal. Their transgressions, if there are any, will be accounted for by the individual.

You cannot save my soul. And for you to believe that you can is the ultimate insult to God. You believe you can speak for Him? You believe you know his mind?

What hubris. What an appalling, horrifying sense of sinful, self-righteous pride.

Most of the religions that have zealots slinging hurtful words and deadly bullets come from peaceful prophets. And this violence against your fellow man is the antithesis of those holy principles.

You should be ashamed. You should ask your God for forgiveness for presuming to know his mind and striking out to hurt one of the children he so loves.

And doesn’t God love all of us? Isn’t that your point?