Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“…the silent candle burning.”

Join me in welcoming Debby Myers back this week. The subject isn't an easy one, and I found myself grieving with her when I read it. That's a good reminder, too, that the weight of grief lightens when it is shared.
by Debby Myers
So, I’m sitting at my computer wondering what interesting topic I could write about to intrigue Liz enough to let me share it with all of you. Whenever I think about writing, I can come up with different stories that make up each chapter of my life.

With my multiple sclerosis comes the loss of short-term memory from lesions in my brain...as if I needed to forget anything else! What’s fascinating is that my long-term memory is almost all intact. I’ve already written for you about my disease, about being a flying trapeze artist, about losing my father-in-law and about directing community theater. So, what this time...

Let’s talk about 15 years ago. That’s when I really began to understand that there are very different kinds of love and tragedy. My oldest daughter was pregnant with her first child. After carrying him for five months, she went in alone for her monthly prenatal checkup, not expecting that the outcome of that appointment would change everything. When her OBGYN started the ultrasound, she asked if anyone had come with her and asked where the baby’s father was. My daughter said he was at work. The doctor stopped the ultrasound and told her she should call him. Something was wrong. There was no heartbeat. Her baby boy had died in vitro.

The next couple of weeks seemed like a blur. They had to induce labor for her to give birth to him. It was too late to abort the pregnancy. The baby’s father, my ex-husband, and I were all there. After several hours of labor, my ex was enraged. He went to the doctor and pleaded with him to do something to speed up the process. My daughter cried the entire time. My heart was breaking. 

Finally, she gave birth to a 10-ounce baby boy. We all held him in our hands – fully formed, but very tiny. By law, he had to be named before he was cremated: Peyton Samuel.

My daughter slipped into depression. She quit beauty school. She wouldn’t eat or clean up. She cried and cried for two months. We all worried about her. If she ever came out of it, what would it take? They had given her a picture of him that she carried with her. Then about four months after she lost Peyton, she went back to her OBGYN for a checkup and learned she was expecting again. That’s when she began to see light at the end of the dark tunnel she’d been living in.

My daughter was very careful throughout this pregnancy. She blamed herself for losing Peyton. She was convinced it had been something she had done, although we all tried to convince her that it wasn’t. She was scared it might happen again. She got past that five-month mark and began to feel more at ease. It was then that she began to smile again, to look forward to her new baby.

Nearly 13 years ago, I became a grandmother for the second time. Yes, I say the second time because I held my tiny grandson in my arms first.

When my granddaughter was born, she literally saved her mother’s life. My daughter spent every waking minute with her. She’d get up in the night many times those first few months to see if she was still breathing. Now she is about to be a teenager and is the apple of our eye.

None of us will ever forget Peyton Samuel. My daughter keeps a small scrapbook just for him. I often wonder what he would have looked like and what he would have been like now. Yet I know he is forever an angel and is with many of our family members who have gone since.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It ain't easy...

          We’ve been married a long time and I hope we’re married a lot longer, but contrary to the belief of everyone who hasn’t been married a long time, it never gets easy. On either participant. Although it’s harder on the one who’s right. In our case, that would be me—but there, as in virtually everything else, we don’t agree.
          Take, for instance, spending winters in Florida. He—Duane, the roommate, the boyfriend, my husband, the person I do in all actuality love more than life itself, but for now we’ll call him “he”—loves Florida. Loves heat and says he never has to shovel it or blow it out of the driveway. Loves the beach. Loves palm trees and all the other tropical things that grow there—except roaches; I don’t think he loves them.
          I like most of those things, too—other than unrelenting heat, but I like them, it must be said, for a week. Maybe two.
          However, we spent a few winters down there and enjoyed them, although I was always eager to get home. However, he doesn’t want to go again, because he worries about the house we have here. About power going off and pipes freezing, about vandalism and burglary. (I worry about those things, too, which is why we have alarms and people checking on the house all the time, but what do I know?)
          Speaking of the house, we’ve lived in it for over 40 years. It has an upstairs and three acres of lawn and it’s in the country. It would be a good idea, I have mused, to sell it and move closer to town or maybe even to town, where things are more convenient, lawns are smaller, and we could find a one-story house. He was okay with that, except that he doesn’t want to buy another house. Owning a house is okay, he agrees, but he doesn’t want to own another one. I, on the other hand, think renting a house is okay, but I don’t want to rent one.  
          So we’ll stay here, which is fine with me. If anything changes I’ll let you know.
          Then there’s music. I like music—he loves music. However, he hates crowds, so we never go to big
Janie Fricke at Shipshewana
venues to see anyone. I’m good with that because—voila! I don’t like crowds, either. We agree. What we don’t agree on is how much to spend on concert tickets. No matter what the price is, he turns pale, wipes his forehead, and says it’s too much. The artists are great, but it’s just…too much.
          It took me a while—years, in fact—but I finally learned to buy the tickets and when he asks how much they cost to just ask if he’d like a cup of coffee, because I’m not telling. It’s kind of like how many guitars he has or how much fabric I have—not worth discussing.
          Neither of us much likes how the other one drives, although that’s something we’ve pretty much worked out. If we’re both in the car, he’s driving. Even if I start out under the wheel, I give it up about six or seven comments down the road. I have mastered the wilting look, given just before I say, “Would you like to drive?” and pull over so that he can. Which was what he wanted all along. No, I’m still not crazy about his driving, but if I talk enough, I can ignore it.
          I like to talk. Frankly, he likes to talk more. I think I’m a better listener. He thinks he is. I like to talk about personal, sensitive, intense things. He likes to talk about anything that’s not personal, sensitive, or intense.
          As the years have gone on, we’ve discovered newer, sillier things to disagree on. Skipping over religion and politics, we are never hungry at the same time. I yearn for anything salty and he’s never met a pastry he didn’t like. I love red meat, he prefers chicken. I want to eat at regular times almost every day. He wants to eat whenever. He almost always orders the same thing at a restaurant and I practically never do. He always drives the same route to virtually any destination and I look for a new one every time. He is so relieved that I have GPS because I no longer get lost every time I go anywhere.
          We don’t worry a lot about those differences, because for the most part, they don’t matter all that much. What matters is ending the day laughing at each other’s jokes and having each other’s back. Just don’t expect it to be easy, because it never will. Especially if you’re the one that’s usually right—just ask me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Advice for young Americans

This week's guest post was written by Chris Flaherty. I'd like to say he learned these things from his dad and me, but I think he came about them on his own. Some of them undoubtedly the hard way. Thanks, Chris.

My advice for young Americans. 

1. Stay out of debt. Credit cards and student loans for a communications degree are probably a bad idea for most.

2. Don't go to college unless you have a clear, concise plan for what your degree will do for you professionally. 

3. Pick a career that either makes you an extraordinary amount of money or do something you enjoy. Not many of you are going to get both. For those of you who are average (most of you), the difference between the job you hate and the job you love is only about 10k a year. See #4 and be happy.

4. Don't buy things. See things and do things, instead. 

5. If you aspire to live in NYC, DC, or LA, do it when you're young. It's pretty easy to work your way to the middle of the country as you get older. It's damn near impossible to go the other direction.

6. Drive your car until it doesn't work anymore. Fix it a few times and keep driving it. Car payments are a terrible waste of money. 

7. Pick good battles. You'll find that most aren't worth the effort and stress.

8. If you can't pay your bills, you can't afford to have a pet and sure as hell can't afford to have kids. 

9. He's not going to change, much. She isn't either.

10. There's a fair chance you're the asshole. Be self-aware.