Posted in Inside Lane

Geezer Love


When my parents split up, my mother fell to pieces. I spent literal years mopping up tears and offering sympathy, empathy, and listening to things no daughter should ever have to hear. She swore she would never love again. My father was the one and only, and if she couldn’t have him, she would have no one. No one! Augh! Dramatic flounce!

She would never love again, never trust again, never even look at another man–she swore it. And, for the better part of 27 years, she kept her word. Then, one day in 2018, I went to pick her up from Independent Living to take her to lunch and she announced that she was engaged.

I knew my mom had been sitting with a man at lunch and dinner meals, and had forgone the company of her regular little crew of blue-hairs for his. I figured she had some feelings for him, but it was really beyond my capacity of belief to even imagine she was falling in love. Especially since all of this happened over the course of 3 weeks.
So, my mom told me she wanted to marry this dude, and I said great. Because… Well, at that point she seemed lucid enough to make that kind of decision. She couldn’t manage her finances, but the heart wants what it wants, and it’s not like I could keep them apart anyway. They lived down the hall from each other, and more often than not, my mom was at his place, soaking up the sunshine of his smile.
I’m going to long story short you here and tell you that things fell apart spectacularly in another month, leaving my mother devastated, broken-hearted, and as sure she would never love again as she had been in 1991.
I was not prepared to deal with my mother’s love life. I tried to be encouraging and happy for her, but also keep my feet on the ground for her because there’s that old saying, “fast flames flame out fast.”
It was weirdly like parenting a young teen. Neither of these people could drive. Neither had jobs, or control of their finances. It was like two kids at boarding school, who met in the dining room and hooked up in their dorm rooms after classes. And, neither had full executive function. The problem solving, long-term planning parts of their brains were both kaput.
But, they were in looooooooooooove, and as handsy and grossly horny as high schoolers. I was so not prepared to see a man gnawing on my elderly mother’s face and groping her boob. It was like two sock puppets trying to ingest one another.
As ill-prepared as I was for the romance, the breakup was a blitzkrieg assault on all my skills. It had been almost 30 years since my mom had kissed a man, and she’d fallen hard and fast for this one, who couldn’t keep his hands off of her. Then suddenly, he hated her laugh, hated her voice, hated that she wasn’t from Texas, hated that she didn’t like to be outside, thought she might be planning to steal his money, and…five minutes later, he just wanted to be friends and talk to her about the other women he fancied, and called her ten times a day just to talk and tell her he loved her.
I was not prepared to be my mother’s girlfriend and sounding board, or to pick up her broken pieces…again. She fell into depression and didn’t want to go downstairs to eat because he was there. She didn’t want to face her friends because she was afraid they had gossiped about her. And, she floundered around in the fear that she was unloveable and inherently flawed. You know, the same things we all fear when we have a breakup, only the “hopeful” part of her brain was also calcified.
Ultimately, even after he moved to a different community this dude kept calling her and stringing her along. Maybe they could work it out. Maybe things would get better. Maybe they could still get married. Until, after we toured the community where he lived and we ran into him, and he called me to say that my mother had the wrong idea and he didn’t want her to live anywhere near him.
He called me again when she didn’t answer her phone for 48 hours (because she was in the hospital recovering from a stroke and I had ignored 20 dials from him) to ask me to BREAK UP WITH HER FOR HIM.
I did this by blocking his phone number.
When I moved her into the new community I eyeballed the ratio of men to women and kind of hoped we’d be safe from romance. I am stupidly naive. She’s been there for 2.5 weeks and she has a boyfriend.
She had pointed him out to me on Saturday and said, I kid you not, “that’s a cowboy I’d like to ride.” I changed the subject because do not want. Do. Not. Want.
I discovered that the feeling might be mutual when the man’s daughter and WIFE introduced themselves to me last night, and told me that he and my mother had become “partners”. He doesn’t remember he’s married, you see. His wife seemed very pleased for him. His daughter did not.
I think I smiled at them? Then, I got my mother out of the common room and hid in her room with her until I saw them leave.
I’m still not ready for this, but I know more than I did last time. Also, when my son starts dating, I’ve got this under my belt and might be a better help to him.
That said, here’s what I learned when your Old wants to get married:
  • Finances can be a deal-breaker. This is what ultimately shut it down for Mom and her swain. He was receiving his deceased wife’s pension, and if he remarried, that part of his income would go away.
  • Benefits can improve. If my mom had married this guy, her SSI benefit would have increased. But, benefits can also decrease because with things like Medicaid, as the household income rises, the amount of the benefit falls.
  • It’s less expensive to share housing, obviously. While it would have cost one of the then-happy couple $2700 a month to live in my mom’s apartment, adding another body to the household would only have increased the rent by $800, so they would both have benefitted from a reduction in cost of living.
  • But if you think blending families is hard when you have small kids, imagine trying to do it when your kids are the ones pushing your wheelchair. Then, you’ve got all the moving pieces of estate planning, wills, and medical directives, and who will run the joint finances. You might end up with a smart, organized kid who hires an attorney to protect her parent’s finances and hers and her siblings’ inheritance, or you might end up with a kid like me who says, “Can’t we just sign a deal that says you guys keep all your stuff, and my mom keeps all her stuff, and when one of them dies, they just revert to where they were today?” (Hope you have the one who lawyers up. She’s probably a lot smarter and less naive.)
  • You’re going to have to manage your own emotions, and you might have to manage it like your parent is your child. Give them the freedom to love and be loved, but be there to protect their interests. Your Old is still a person, and people want to be loved. If they can find someone who makes them happy, be happy for them. Wise like a serpent, harmless as a dove.
  • And, be prepared to talk to your Old about STDs. I did have this conversation with my mother and it was awful for both of us, but I’d rather be embarrassed for 15 minutes than have to have her swabbed for chlamydia.
Posted in A Day in the Life, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Religion

Top Hits of a Desk Jockey


myfortune

I must have saved this fortune months ago because I think Panda Express is disgusting, and only go through there when I have no other options.  I was moving a notepad, and this fell out of the back of it, reminding me of why I kept it.  I have another fortune taped to my phone, “Keep up the good work.  You will soon be rewarded.”  Never hurts to remind yourself of the endgame.  I like rewards.

I also like reminders, which reminds me (oops) that I never got around to putting up my usual mental triggers at this new office.  My old standbys and reasoning behind them follow:

James 3:17
New King James Version (NKJV)
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

That’s pretty clearly stated.  I keep that one up in front of my eyes to remind me that I always need to check myself.  I’m putting that one back up on the computer monitor frame again today because it is timely.  There is strength in wisdom, and there is strength in goodness, mercy, and in not being a hypocrite.  Lane.
Colossians 3:22-23
New King James Version (NKJV)
22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men

I used to put that one up, tongue in cheek, when I worked for a ministry that paid a pittance, but there is good wisdom there, too.  Whatever job I have, I need to work like I am doing it for the highest of purposes.  That’s the only way I have a feeling of fulfillment in routine, and it’s the only way to go to bed at night feeling good about myself.  I feel better about myself when I work hard.
Proverbs 6:6-9
New King James Version (NKJV)
The Folly of Indolence
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep

Again, a reminder that I shouldn’t just be working when someone is watching me.  I shouldn’t need to be babysat in order to produce.  I should take control of my own destiny, and my own work, and be an ant on the job.  I can be a butterfly everywhere else, but at work, I am an ant.  Or a bee.  But not a grasshopper.
Romans 8:38-39
New King James Version (NKJV)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And this is the one I never truly understood until I had Thor.  It brings me peace and comfort.  I’ve banged on and on about how I really don’t know where I stand as far as religion goes, only that I’m sure I like Jesus, and I want to do my best to do things his way.  I’ve gone from nothing to zealot, to zen, and this verse has meant something to me in all stages.  The first time I read it was in a French science text.  Yeah.  I know.  But after I had translated it, it stuck with me–maybe it was the work involved in the translation?  It was mysterious and beautiful, and I repeated it to myself all the time.  It became a tattoo on my heart.  As a zealot, it made me feel secure and it was hope I tried to throw out to other people.  In my current, more meditative state of faith, I stand on it as a promise that if I’ve strayed off horribly, not even my own best efforts can destroy what’s been put into play.  I trust that if I’ve gone wrong, I’ll come back around because that’s how I love my son.  Nothing, not even his being unsure of me, can separate him from the love I have for him.  He’s just stuck.

He could do things to make me not like him much.  He could do things to disappoint me.  He can certainly go off course, forcing me to correct him, but discipline doesn’t mean I don’t love him.  He is just stuck with my love because I grew him, and I wanted him, and he is mine, and nothing can change that.  I would fight every angel in heaven and every demon in hell, and nothing could separate him from my love.  I put it in there.  He doesn’t have to acknowledge it for it to be so.

And that’s got nothing to do with work, but it does remind me that one of the reasons I work is so that Thor will have a comfortable life.  I don’t work to serve him on a silver platter, but so that he will have the benefit of the peace that comes with financial security, and so he can take steps up from that place to do better than his father and I have done.

So there’s me reminding me of what I am doing behind a desk.  But if anyone asks, you can just tell them they hired me because I’m pretty.

Posted in Family, Friends of Mine, Health, relationships

Pinpricks of Joy


A few of my friends have suffered miscarriages and still births recently, and several of my friends have lost babies in the past.  Losing a child is a heartbreaking, world changing thing no matter at what stage or age the child.  When you are looking forward to life with this little person, moving ahead once that dream is shattered is a challenge for both mothers and fathers.

I thought we were losing Thor right after we found out we were expecting him.  That’s part of how he got his nickname.  Not only had he prevailed against birth control, he had prevailed against a flood of cough syrup and a Zpack–you know, because I thought I had the flu, not a case of the babies.  He was a mighty Viking in the making, and I pictured him in there, wearing his horned helment and hanging on to my insides with his pic axe.  The Mighty Thor was born, both figuratively and literally, healthy and wonderful.  However, for those days I thought he might be losing his grip on the axe, I was frantic.

Like many women, I think I became a mother the moment the stripe turned pink on the pregnancy test.  Immediately, I was someone’s mother.  It was my job to protect and nurture this life.  I changed my diet.  I changed my patterns.  I gave up coffee!  I gave up coffee (which is probably why I was always so irritated with Ryan slurping his in the next cubicle–I had jealousy!)

  When I thought I was losing my baby, I went to the doctor to find out what I could do to save it.  Would I need to stand on my head?  Did I need a cork?  Could I drink something?  Take a pill?  Lie in bed for 8 more months?  Yoga?  Meditation?  Animal sacrifice?  Oh yeah, I’d have gone there.

The doctor was removed and pragmatic.  He was pulling off his rubber gloves and he said, “At this poing, there’s nothing we can do.  If you’re going to lose it, you’re going to lose it.”  Then, he sent my shellshocked self to the nurse for bloodwork, and that poor girl was new.  She told me all about how many pregnancies end in miscarriage, I guess hoping to make me feel not so alone in my probable fate?  She figured out that was not helping when I burst into tears.

I found a new doctor.  Thor hung in there.  We have a lovely boy.

Back last September, I got a new pink stripe on a pregnancy test.

People ask me if we plan to have other children pretty frequently.  I don’t think they are being rude.  It’s just conversation.  I have one child, so I must not be opposed to the idea of children, and if I am not, then might I not want more?  I would love to have more children.  It just hasn’t worked out that way.

So, back in September, we got excited.  We had our moment of shock, and I did my dance of trying to pretend it wasn’t that big a deal because when things are really important to me, I am a weirdo.  We had about 24 hours of being very excited, talking about names, and a new nickname–just enough time to fall in love with the idea and the potential for reality.  It was a Saturday.  I planned to call the doctor on Monday and make an appointment.  But, on Sunday all the plans changed.  It simply was not to be.

I was too sad to talk about it at the time.  I told a couple of select people, but I didn’t even tell my therapist about it.  I sat on her couch just a few days later and thought, “I should be talking about this, but it seems silly. It wasn’t dramatic.  It wasn’t even a big enough deal to go to the hospital.  It’s over and done, and nothing can change it.  Why talk about it?  Why trivialize what other women go through, when this was such a simple-to-lose loss?”

You all know that I’m not an “all things happen for a reason” person.  I’m a “sometimes shit happens” person.  I have faith in biology, and oddly enough, in natural selection.  It simply was not to be.  And, it was simply sad.  And, quite simply, I was broken-hearted.

So why talk about it now?  Because you all also know that I am a “talks about everything eventually” person.  It all comes out sooner or later, and because my friends who have so recently suffered have said, it helps to know someone gets it.  Because it’s the damnedest thing how attached you can get to something that isn’t the size of the head of a pin, and what a huge hole that pinprick leaves when it goes.

There is joy in remembering the excitement, though.  And joy in the knowledge that the capacity to love is endless.  And joy in other friends who are expecting.

Posted in Family, Reviews, sports, swimming

Love, Laughs, and Laps


I did see this quote on the internet, which means it could very well have come from Abraham Lincoln and not Maurice Sendak, but given that warning, it still meant something to me to read this quote attributed to Maurice Sendak: “Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, ‘Dear Jim: I loved your card.’ Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it.’ That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book on love, writes of loving someone so much you want to eat them up.  “Love you?  I am you!” Is one of the expressions he uses to convey that feeling.  I know that feeling well.

That is the feeling that makes me kiss the soles of my son’s feet, and that spot on my husband’s forehead, right between his eyebrows.  It is the feeling that compells me to growl like a beast and pretend to gnaw up Thor’s neck, while he giggles and howls, and to blow fantastic raspberries on my B’s belly.  It is the feeling that inspires bone cracking bear hugs, awesome tickle fights, and the best laughter on earth.

The boys went off on a Man-Trip with Granddad this past weekend, leaving me all alone.  I was delighted when they came home.  I missed them!  I think Thor might have missed me a little because he grabbed me, sniffed my hair and said, “I don’t know how you smell so good!” before running off again. 

And my wish for all you readers today, is that you love someone or something so much that you want to eat them/it*. 

While they were gone, I thought to catch up with my movie watching.  You know, the shows they wouldn’t want to watch anyway (or that Thor isn’t old enough to screen.)  You know what I ended up watching?  The Godfather.

I’d never seen it before, and since I’ve fallen so hard for Boardwalk Empire, I thought maybe I should view the –er– godfather of all mobster movies.  It was funny how much of the dialog I knew, just from the social vernacular.  I half quoted Marlon Brando’s opening monologue along with him (something else I can’t do when the boys are at home–act out the movies as they go.) 

I’ll be honest, I thought the first fifteen minutes were awful and boring.  It didn’t get good until they shot Vito Corelone, and then I was interested.  No, then I was hooked and I really enjoyed the rest.

I also watched Bad Teacher on Saturday.  As black comedies go, that one was pretty funny.  I do wish people would stop trying to make Justin Timberlake The Actor happen, though.  He is hilarious on SNL, but otherwise, he is strictly Disney style.  Really.  Watch that video.  God bless him.  He tries.  But he succeeds at making great music.  Anyway.  Bad Teacher=Okay Movie.

In other news completely, this is my  new lap swim toy:

90010 Combination Sport Count Ring

It’s a lap counter for swimmers–looks huge, doesn’t it?  Nope.  It fits on your finger like a secret decoder ring!  It is so cool, y’all.  I was swimming this morning, watching the timer while I stroked, and pretending I was a spy who had planted a device and was swimming away as the countdown ran.  That lasted me two laps before Sweet Child of Mine came on my mp3 player and I had to concentrate on not playing air guitar underwater.  I am that nerd.

 
What do you think about when you work out?  I have to entertain myself.

*Don’t really eat anyone, okay?  That’s not mentally healthy.

Posted in relationships

B-eing in Love


I write about Thor frequently, and I think I’m fairly clear that he is the light of my world, and the best thing that has ever happened to me. I had a great life before he came along, but from the moment I heard his first cry–well, it was like going from an oil lamp to a room full of 200 watt lightbulbs. That’s easy to shout from the rooftops, and I am unashamedly his biggest fan.

I write about my mom and my best friends, and I have no problem telling you that I love them all as extensions of myself. They are always on my mind, and I feel very deeply for them.

When it comes to love, I don’t write so much about my husband. Why? I was thinking about that while having a conversation with a friend today. I really don’t like admitting how much in love with him I am. Isn’t that silly? I am happy to tell you that I love my husband. I am happy to tell you how content I am within our relationship. I do not like letting on just how much he means to me. I do not like letting on that I would be lost without him.

I am not a gooey romantic. I’m not a pet name calling, shmoopy, swooning bride. I would just as soon punch B in the arm in public as kiss him. Maybe I would rather punch him in the arm. Kissing is too vulnerable. Letting on how much I love him is too vulnerable.

At my most naked, you will find Bryan because with Bryan is where I want to be–where I choose to be. My choice in him as a partner, my choice in him as a co-parent, my choice in him as my future tells you more about Lane than anything else in the world could. I am, and I say this with full understanding of what the words mean, embarrassed, even a little humiliated at how deeply I desire his validation, and at how much I want his approval. I really don’t care what anyone else in the world thinks–I want to be liked, but I can take or leave anyone except him. I care what he thinks of me.

Both of us being human, we aren’t perfect by any means, but I trust B absolutely. And there’s where I feel the most vulnerable, and maybe even naive given my family history, but I can’t help myself. I trust B like I love him, and that is without limits.

I like for you to think that I am practical and realistic, like a well sifted, exact cup of baking flour. The reality is that when it comes to my feelings for my husband, I am a heaping, lumpy, lovesick mess. I’ve decided that’s all right. Sloppy suits me.