When ‘Mother’s little helper’ had crust

I just called my mama to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Knowing that she wouldn’t ‘get’ the Rolling Stone’s song reference on the gift I sent her, I figured I needed to explain the hooty little pill-box (as shown). I was right and when I mentioned Valium she said, “OH! Heehee…”pill box

During our conversation I mentioned that the anniversary of my marriage to #1 was last week, and Mama asked if I knew what August the 9th was. I couldn’t think of anything.

“That’s the day I married your father…August 9th, 1957.”

Naturally, I immediately started doing the math…let’s see…I was born May 14th of 1958…almost exactly 9 months.

“You weren’t pregnant when you got married, were you?” I asked. (I’ve always sort of assumed that she was, but I’d never asked her outright.)

“NO,” she said, using two syllables. “You were an early baby.”

“I was?” That actually surprised me since I’ve never even been on time to anything I can remember, much less early.

“Yep, the doctors told me that if I didn’t lose a lot of weight, they were going to put me in the hospital until you were delivered. So I just went ahead and had you before my next appointment!”

I had to sit on that news for a minute. My 4’11” mama weighed 98 pounds when she got pregnant with me and (according to her) she pretty much doubled her weight while carrying me (she claims that whole pies trembled and then disappeared in her presence). Naturally, when given the choice to (A) Stop eating treats or (B) Go into early labor and shoot me out into the world early…well, duh. I didn’t have to do the math on that one!

I love you, Mama. You’ve taught me so many lessons just by being who you are, and I know how hard you always worked to keep Lynnie and me happy. And now I know exactly where I got my addiction love for food!

Happy Mothers Day ya’ll!

 

Lord Byron has left the building

I’ve been processing some very sad news that I recently received. My second husband (affectionately known here as #2) passed away two weeks ago today. He was only 50, and I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I strongly suspect that the disappointment he had in his own life just finally caught up with him.

My ex was a huge man with an immense hunger for love, poetry and romance in the true sense of the word. His heroes were Hemingway, Baudelaire and (most of all) Lord Byron, whom he adored and emulated whenever possible. In fact, #2 wanted to be that ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ poet whose profile he had used when we met on an AOL chat site so many years ago. If he couldn’t have that, he would have settled for living in Hemingway’s Paris of the 1920’s, or for walking about an Ivy League campus with the leather-patched elbows of an English professor. This smart, funny man surrounded himself with books, candles, wine bottles, old paintings and dreams of being someone else…anyone except a warehouse worker from New Jersey.

I was recovering from my long, drawn out breakup with my first husband when I met #2. He powered into my world, bringing laughter, love and a sense of home back into my life. Even more importantly, he helped me to open my heart enough to rediscover the importance of family…something my cross-country move with husband #1 had forced me to bury out of sheer pain. For that gift, I will be forever grateful.

I didn’t write this to talk about myself, but it’s confusing and there’s just no way to know how you’re supposed to feel at a time like this. Obviously, there is sadness, but it’s a strange, muffled ache…like a heart-break once removed. We hadn’t spoken in years, and I no longer had any connection with his life back in New Jersey, but this man was once a huge part of my life. It has taken some soul-searching, but I definitely know that I’m not responsible for my ex’s fate…for someone else’s decisions or for the way their life turned out. I guess that what I’m grieving for is actually the life unlived…the fabulous, fulfilling life that this sweet soul could have had with a little more self-love.

We spent six years together, and were divorced ten years and two weeks ago.

Rest in peace Richie. Thank you for the lessons you shared with me, including this one.

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My demons are drinking age

I tried today to write about something that’s been gnawing at me for a long while. I thought I was ready to explore (and maybe even share) the true story of my exodus from South Carolina to Oregon, some 22 years ago. I felt that I was ready to recount the tale of how #1 decided that the life we had built together was too badly damaged to salvage. I wanted to explain how we ran, leaving behind our store, home, friends and families…how we escaped without a destination, deserting all that we’d acquired, known and done.

It’s an exciting story of adventuring across this country but, as I started pulling together the words, I could feel the emotions starting to swirl in my gut. My face felt hot and I sensed tears beginning to well up, just as they did so long ago on the day we first drove away from everything I’d ever known and loved. I was transported to the day when all of my life’s history became just a shrinking rear view mirror’s width, and I thought I’d lost everything in the world that was precious to me.

What I know and understand now is that we decided back then that we didn’t have a choice. We decided not to allow ourselves to deserve the life we’d created. Our desperate escape from (what we decided was) the certain hot breath of failure and doom on our necks was a turning point in my life. I wanted to be ready to share my realizations…to free myself from the demons who hang on to painful hidden parts of your heart like a dog with a new toy.

Writing about the ending of such a huge chapter of my life should be cathartic…right? Hell, it’s been over twenty years, and I’m happily settled in a life that I love, in a place that I adore. I thought I was ready to face down those demons of that past life and tell ’em who was boss…who wears the pants in this relationship!

As it turns out, the damn demons have all the britches. They are, in fact, the boss of me. For now.

So I filed the draft away as something that needs more work…more time…more healing. But be warned, demons–the band-aid has been pulled off.

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I’m not a ‘Rocky Mountain High’ kinda gal…

During the last year before we moved to Oregon, husband #1 and I flew from S.C. to Las Vegas for a business convention that was supposed to last a week. It was my first trip that far west, much less to Vegas, and I was super excited. I spent the whole first day sitting at low dollar black jack tables, losing and winning back the same $50 over and over. I drank so many screwdrivers that my jewelry started making my fingers turn black, and before the end of the day I knew everyone at my table, the dealer and the pit boss by first name. I had a blast, but #1 was mysteriously MIA all day.

Later that day we met up in our hotel room to get ready for a big night out, with plans for dinner and a Tom Jones show. When I walked into the room, I heard a ‘glug…sploosh’ from the bathroom and turned the corner in time to see #1 sink down below the surface of the water that filled the bathtub. I waited for a bit, but he didn’t surface…kind of odd, I thought.

I walked over to the desk to put down my purse, and I noticed a handful of papers hanging out of the pocket of a sports jacket slung over the back of the chair. It turns out that those ‘slips of paper’ were ATM receipts. I won’t put you through all of the sordid details, but during the span of our first day, #1 spent so much money that we decided that we needed to get out of Vegas fast. We rented a car and drove to the Grand Canyon…a much cheaper option than staying in Vegas until our return flight, scheduled for a few days later. (That is obviously the ‘Reader’s Digest’ version of that story…ahem.)

We rented a car and started the six-hour drive. Things were a bit chilly between us due to the casino stunt, and before long it was cold outside as well. It was late March, but I started noticing snow on the ground…I’d never been in any real mountains, and I had no clue that we were climbing or that the canyon rim was so far above sea level. I started getting confused at…well, at pretty much everything. Where were we going? Why was there snow on the ground…and why was I so mad at #1?

By the time we reached our hotel on the North rim, I was beyond confused and actually got lost in the parking lot…I started wandering off and #1 had to grab me to keep me away from the rim of the canyon! That’s about the time I started mumbling (loudly) that this shoddy hotel should know better than to have their parking lot so far from the building! After a bit of arguing about why we were even there, #1 maneuvered me into the lobby and I suddenly (and loudly) needed to know WHY that damn fireplace set in the middle of the huge lobby was so BIG!? And why was this place so damn run DOWN?

I started grilling the poor girl at the reception desk before #1 actually had to steer me away before I caused a scene! (Now, if it’s not painfully obvious already…I’m NOT a scene kind of person.) We finally found our way to our room and I couldn’t get over how tacky everything was! What the hell where we thinking checking into such a place…and why was I so dizzy? I finally cried myself to sleep…still mumbling about how disappointed I was!

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Not too shabby after all…

I’m sure you’ve already figured it out, but neither #1 nor I realized that I had been the victim of altitude sickness until after I woke up a half hour later…totally refreshed and happy to find myself in a beautiful hotel room that was very tastefully appointed. #1 was nowhere to be found, so I set off to look for him. I was totally relieved (yet mortified) to find that the rest of the hotel was beautiful too…the huge fireplace in the lobby was amazing! Even the cursed parking lot was perfectly situated. I hung my head and sheepishly apologized to the front desk staff, but they just laughed and waved me off, saying that it happens all the time. (Hello…the elevation is 8000 feet there!)

I found #1 in the cocktail lounge that looked out directly over the canyon. His back was to me…he’d been watching the amazing sunset, which was just winding down. I tapped him on the shoulder and he jumped…I’m pretty sure he thought I was going to punch him, or at least tell him that he was shoddy and too far from the car!

We had a nice dinner and watched a hooty woman of indiscriminate age (with extremely tall hair) do a full lounge singer routine. #1 told me that he had seriously considered pushing me into the canyon (or at least driving away and leaving me there) during my oxygen deprivation-induced rage. I just nodded and told him that he was lucky there wasn’t a toaster in the bathroom of the Vegas hotel. 

And with that I need to wish #1 a happy birthday…today is his day. We thankfully managed to never kill each other, and we both survived to be better people than we knew we could be. Who knew?!