Bright Spot

Just as I was seeking suitable objects to gouge the eyes out of 2016, immolate it and send it off to blazes, I saw a post this morning reminding us of the good things in 2016.

Sigh.

My temper tantrum can wait, I suppose.

The poster was right, you know.

Yes, there was indeedy do a lot wrong – a whole lot wrong with 2016. But, I’ve never been a fan of throwing the baby out with the bathwater – and the end of this year is no time to start.

So – what went right? Moreover, how do I find the bright in so much sorrow?

Well, the “big event” in JudiLand, as my friends and followers know all too well, was the loss of my husband. He passed away three months (precisely to the day, in fact) after he was handed his “death sentence” by the doctors.

Three months can either seem like an eternity or a second, depending on your viewpoint. I tried so hard to stretch them into an eternity. I was afforded the “luxury” (if you want to call it that) of the realization that his time remaining on earth was going to be short. I got to say I love you countless more times than before. Unlike those who have lost loved ones suddenly in an accident, a murder, a tragedy – I, we, were given “advance warning”. I took the opportunity I was given to love him harder, stronger than I ever had. I was blessed, yes blessed by a community of caring souls who allowed me to devote each second of his final days to his care without concern for keeping a roof over our heads.

But, in retrospect, three months passed faster than a comet. Did I do enough? Love enough? Make up for any real or imagined slight that may have occurred in the previous two decades? I’d promised him when we met that I’d love him for as long as I had him and I’d always try to make him smile. All I am left with now is the hope that he knew, even in his unimaginable pain the last few years of his life, that he was the sun that my world revolved around. I’ll flatter myself by thinking that he did, but I will always wonder if I could have done more.

Also, in those three months and the months afterward, I learned a valuable lesson – death truly does bring out either the very best or the very worst in people. Support poured in from the most unlikely of places, and duplicity, avarice and downright hatefulness also surfaced in people and places previously unimaginable. The entire year, in fact, was an unmasking if you will – of people who talk the talk but aren’t willing to walk the walk as well as a revelation of who the people are that you truly know who you can count on in even the darkest of times.

Things that seemed earth shaking half a year before suddenly lost their importance. And fear has now become a commodity that lost a lot of its power. In a conversation with my sister a month after hubby’s death, I confided that I thought what was “holding me back” from completing the book was fear. She stopped me in my tracks and pointed out that I had just had my husband die in my arms as I was trying to save him, and, “After that – what the hell do you have to be afraid of?”

Truth.

Hard truth.

And the swift kick in the posterior I needed to move forward.

I had faced the end of the world – the end of his world, and the world we knew together anyway – and yet, I was still here.

There is an Irish blessing that says, in part:

“I wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses, not that you might never need regret, nor that you should never feel pain.

No that is not my wish for you.

My wish for you is: That you might be brave in times of trial, when others lay crosses upon your shoulders.

When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed; when hope scarce can shine through.

That every gift God gave you might grow along with you.

And let you give the gift of joy to all who care for you.

That you may always have a friend who is worth that name, whom you can trust, and who helps you in times of sadness. Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side.

One more wish I have for you: That in every hour of joy and pain, you may feel God close to you.

This is my wish for you and all who care for you.

This is my hope for you now and forever. “

I’ll add to that – I wish for you the necessary kicks in the posterior, administered as needed, whenever you stop for too long overthinking or fearing your next move forward.

I wish for you the clarity of discernment without too much attendant pain, so you can navigate through people and situations that do not have your best interests at heart.

I wish for you wide eyed wonder and gratitude at the small miracles that are presenting themselves to you each day, and not only the wisdom for you to see them, but the will to seek them out – especially on cloudy gloomy days.

At the end of a most challenging year, I’ve found friends who are truly worth that name, who have stood with me in defiance of the storms and who have helped me be brave in times of trial.

In 2017, I hope to give the gift of joy to all of you in return.

But 2016 still sucked scissors.

Accompaniment

Wow.

A somewhat recent addition to my FB friends “unfriended” me last night after I repeated my plea for no political comments on my wall. Unlike Twitter, which was my political butt-kicking stomping ground for many moons, FaceBook has always by design been my apolitical refuge.

Someone had posted a politically tinged comment to an innocuous status of mine. The “unfriender” responded with a long mean screed questioning not only the first commenter’s political preferences, but calling him a few choice names in the process.

My request:

“Quick public service message. I dearly love and adore each and every member of my FB family. In these many moons, my friendships have managed to span the gamut of all political parties as well as several countries. So, my Facebook has become sort of a mini UN (without the yucky connotations, thank you.)
Especially after the events in my life the last several months, I’m not interested in rehashing contentious political happenings nor do I want to have to referee squabbles of anything more weighty than Star Wars vs. Star Trek.
Each one of you mean more to me as human beings and beloved friends. Your political viewpoints aren’t even on my radar and I’d like to keep it that way.
Please let me just love you guys for you.
Thanks.”

Boom.

“Unfriend”.

WTH?

Looking at this person’s time line, in a brief (very brief, I might add) contemplation to send another friend request (I didn’t) – I discovered that it’s one hate filled, anger filled post after another. I had no clue that someone could feed such negativity and hostility day in and day out.

As I was pondering that decision (and yes, I do ponder), hours later I got a DM from a long time FB buddy thanking me for all the smiles and love throughout the last year.
It had been a rocky, emotional twelve months for her with more critically serious health problems than I’d like to recount.
That one message put “the year that was” into sharper perspective for me.

I’m reminded of the round (a canon perpetuus or infinite canon if you will) that I learned ages ago: “Make New Friends, but Keep the Old. One Is Silver and the Other’s Gold” where everyone began singing the same lyrics only at different intervals.

Those words have been playing in my head this morning.

You’ve all entered my life at different intervals, and yet we’ve created a harmony of sorts that is meaningful and beautiful.

Yes, I still FaceBook. It’s what we old farts do, for Pete’s sake.

Conservatively, I’d estimate that perhaps as many as a hundred of my FB friends are all literally facing life or death health crises. Cancer, kidney failure, heart disease, amputations, multiple sclerosis. Hundreds more have suffered an unspeakable loss in their lives recently. Some of my friends handle it with grace and aplomb, some bitch to high heaven. And I love, yes, love each and every one of them.

There are far too many who did not make it through 2016 to greet the New Year with me. And I’m sadly certain that many more won’t be around to ring in 2018. Some other new friends, and some old ones as well unfortunately, have seemingly chosen to base their friendships on superficiality. Those are the ones who won’t be accompanying me into next year either through their own volition or mine.

But the rest of them – they’re my precious jewels. For the past 10 years, I honestly have made it my mission to find something, to say something, to share something that I think might bring a smile to someone’s face – and to share at least one thing like that every day. I realize I’m not curing cancer or bringing world peace – I’m just trying to make our shared journey through the cosmos a little less unpleasant. And in the end, that’s really all I can do.

Other than a smattering of quasi-political tweets, I’m shifting my focus on Twitter as well. Admittedly, I was knee deep in the mud slinging during the campaign and, it was draining. That level of outrage, that seething anger (okay, some damned funny snark, too) is unsustainable for me.

Sorry peeps. I cannot “do” the hate anymore. If the worst thing in your life is politics, God love you – you’re blessed to have only that weighing on your psyche.

Also no longer welcome in 2017 are negativity, doubt and gossip (unless it’s really juicy and salacious). (JK).

In my introspection of the Year-That-Was-a-Dumpster-Fire, I’ve come to the conclusion that we hate 2016 because in the end, it challenged our beliefs; it stripped bare our hypocrisies; and it ultimately forced us to confront our own mortality.

But I’ve also found something to love from the Year That Sucked Scissors – amazing bits of joy and comfort from my myriad acquaintances on social media. The shared humanness, the compassion, the concern – that’s what I want to hold on to ever so tightly as we face a new year, a new beginning.

I choose to have the positive, the hopeful, the compassionate and yes, the silly/funny accompany me into 2017. I’d be honored to have you join me.

Honey, I’m home.

My self imposed hiatus was a surprise to me, too.

A few things had been set in motion that all came together, however and the gut punch that I really thought I’d successfully dodged for weeks now finally hit. It brought me to my knees and then smacked me a few more times while I was down for good measure.

Although I’d already made and communicated my plans to go solo on Thanksgiving and accepted an invitation from my sister for Christmas, I found out that two much loved family members had been abandoned on Christmas (and one on Thanksgiving AND Christmas) by the very people that I had wrongly assumed would make sure they weren’t alone on those days. That brought me some pangs of guilt, despite my assertions to myself that “this is no longer my circus nor my monkeys”.

After making it through the holiday relatively unscathed, I got the brilliant idea the day after Christmas to make a prime rib, using my beloved math method, and photographing every step from start to finish for a future blog, or perhaps for the cookbook I’m still threatening to write.

Hubby and I were married on the 26th. It had been our tradition to say “Happy Anniversary” to each other on the 26th of each month. That should have been yet another warning sign, or at least a nudge to perhaps do my cook-a-rama on another day.

I unstopped a lovely Cabernet for the base of the au jus. Probably shouldn’t have had a glass of it, but – well, you know. And, before the rib was scheduled to emerge triumphantly from the oven, I pulled out the carving set.

I’d bought that carving set for hubby just before our second Thanksgiving. We even joked when I gave it to him that “Today, you are a man”. But, dang – he took his carving duties to the next level. Seriously. He watched videos, read articles and perfected the art of carving a turkey into perfect slices so beautiful that they could grace the cover of a magazine as opposed to looking like pulled pork. Likewise with hams and, of course, prime rib.

Only this year, he wouldn’t be here to ooh and ahh nor to carve beautiful slices of the delectable roast. That, like so much else, is now my domain.

I’d already figured that I would at least need a day to “decompress” after the Christmas weekend.

So there I sat.

In my self-imposed solitude, I cried harder than I think I’ve ever cried – accompanied with deep, chest shaking wails of anguish for what seemed like an eternity. In a valiant attempt to spare my friends and followers any potential messages from someone crying in their eggnog while they’re celebrating family and friends, I quickly posted a “taking time off” blurb on FaceBook and Twitter and went back to weeping.

Every time I thought I was out of tears, more would show up. Makeup gone. Dogs trying to lick away my sorrow. Prime Rib timer slowly counting down.

I read somewhere long ago that tears are cleansing, that they’re meant to wash away the pain. As a card carrying woman, I’d long ago learned the value of a good cry – but this was soul rattling. The tears somehow helped to drive out some of the demons I’d been suppressing in my futile attempts at bravado.

Somehow, I managed to get the rib out of the oven in time and take pictures of the final product. I even had a slice – and toasted hubby with my glass of Cabernet, although my slices weren’t nearly as picture perfect as his would have been. But, you know, that’s okay.

My life isn’t as picture perfect as I’d hoped it would be, either – but after a healthy cry (one of many more to come, I don’t doubt), it’s not all gloom and doom.

And, I’ve realized that in my little online world, I have many, far too many, friends and acquaintances who are hurting too. As evidenced by the recent stream of celebrity deaths, and by the posts and tweets of people I hold so dear, I am not the only one trying to “fake it till I make it” through this first holiday that we find ourselves abandoned. None of us had throngs of people to mourn with – most of us had no news reports of our loved ones’ passing – and yet, our hurt is just as real, just as earth shattering, just as painful.

My online family has been my lifeline. It must have been the Cabernet talking when I said I’d be taking 6 days off. You’ve been here for me – I’m going to be here for you. So, gentle readers – I’m back. Dusting off the Boomities and prepping the Friday Bum Dance – but I’m back.

I’m looking forward to hopefully sharing wonderful things in 2017 in somewhat of a penance for all the crap we shared in 2016.

The book – oh my gosh – the book (“How The *Bleep* Did You Find Me?”) (Ahem – available on Amazon.com) – is selling and garnering great reviews.

Yes, there will probably be at least one or two, and maybe three, more books.

I’m making travel plans for the new year, and with them, I truly hope to meet so many of you and give you in person the hugs that have had to be internet based to this point. The part of my message that said “See you in 2017” is going to become as much of a reality as I can make it.

The rib was delicious.

The Christmas decorations are being packed away for next year.

I’m going to have to buy more makeup.

Thank you for “the cup of kindness yet” – let’s make this a Happy New Year.

I love you all.

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot…

Everyone else is doing their year-end “2016 Was The Year That Was…” and/or their  “Resolutions for the New Year” shtick this week, so I shall be no exception, I suppose. (I think it’s in the blogger’s bylaws or something).

2016. You started out with such promise, darn you.

You took me down some paths and on a journey I never anticipated taking quite this soon.

And yet, for all the heartache, for all the loss, I shall most likely someday look back on you as a most important year.

I think I’ve lost count of the people who’ve told me in one way or another that I’ve been inspirational to them this year. Most assuredly, I did not set out to be an inspiration. Please know that I chose to share hubby’s battle, our struggle, and, ultimately, my grief in a most public fashion. I’m honored, humbled and constantly amazed at the overwhelming outpouring of support, prayers and love from around the world that I, that we, received.

You know, I started the year fancying myself as a new member of the snarky political blogging set. But events conspired to suck the snark right out of me. In the waning days of the year, I find I can no longer sustain the anger, give voice to the outrage, continue the acrimony, maintain the knots in my knickers over all things politic.

When you’ve gone through hell and back with a loved one only to lose him forever, things that once got your adrenaline pumping suddenly lose their import. Hugs and love to those of you who are fortunate enough that the current state of affairs is your most pressing concern. Once you’ve truly seen “the end of the world”, hysterical pretenders to the throne are just that.

What I can give voice to, what I can focus on are the truly common threads between each and every one of us.

The first post on my FaceBook feed this morning was an anguished prayer from a friend crying out to God and beseeching Him for a few more days with his critically ill son. As I continued to scroll, the second post I stopped on was from a beloved friend relating how she had shared coffee with some neighborhood construction workers on a cold wintery day.

I tweeted this morning “I think at our core we all want peace. We love our families, our friends & we want them to be well and safe. We just disagree on the ‘how’.” To me that is more true now than ever. So, gentle readers, at the end of this most tumultuous year, my resolutions are:

To take more breaths.

To distance myself from toxic people and situations.

To appreciate those who have contributed to my life, who have freely given me so much love, so much comfort and yes, even joy even more.

To search as diligently as I can for those common bonds between all of us – and to celebrate each one.

To cherish even more deeply each and every one of you.

I wish you peace.

I wish you love.

Here’s hoping (yet again) for a Happy New Year.

Christmas level: most excellent.

Between my desire to seize “The Holidays” and to deliberately create some new traditions for myself, to say that this holiday season has been challenging for me would be an understatement.
While working as much “new” into my seasonal routine as I can while still reviving cherished traditions, there are still the mundane everyday tasks that must be attended to.
So this morning early, I wheeled out the large rolling trash bin that is a source of bark inducing frenzy for my oldest dachshund.
A few moments ago, his nemesis, the trash man drove into the cul-de-sac and collected the trash.
He seemed to be taking longer than normal to complete his rounds. “It’s colder than a well diggers axe today” I thought to myself, and assumed that he was just being cautious to keep from falling on the several inches of snow that Mother Nature had graced us with last night.
Once he drove off, to the chorus of barks from my two Santa’s Little Yelpers, I walked out to retrieve the bin and wheel it back in place.
As I did, I noticed a small envelope sticking out of the top of the lid.
“Oh. A card somehow fell out and got caught”, I thought. But as I looked, it became apparent that it had been intentionally, carefully placed there.
It was a Christmas card. From my trash man.
I looked up in time to see him at the last house in my circle and he waved and grinned.
During the summer months he’d always wave at my little barky crew. On rainy days he’d put the empty bin closer to my gate. And, on the rare occasion when I’d forget to put the trash out, he’d stop to check if we were okay.
Sadly, until the receipt of that card, I didn’t even know his name. Mario.
Another thought just struck me. He probably hand wrote a little greeting in each card. There are 150 houses in my immediate neighborhood. I’m sure we’re not the only ‘hood on his route.
As if his job wasn’t physically demanding enough, Mario probably sat down this weekend and hand wrote heaven only knows how many Christmas cards for the folks on his trash route.
Mario, you may not know this, or even ever read this, but your gesture just put a great big dose of much needed cheer into my holiday.
Merry Christmas Mario.

Thwarting

Un autre jour, une autre bataille avec les vautours. (Pardon my French).

Selfish.
Gaa. I really dislike that word. I dislike the connotation even more.
Growing up I was always admonished to share.
“Don’t be selfish!”
Perhaps I took that a little more to heart than I should have. In retrospect, it seems that not being selfish translated into never putting myself or my needs first.
Ever.
That’s why a recent, seemingly sudden, influx of “requests” (an unfortunate series of not so thinly veiled “demands”, actually) momentarily caught me off guard.
Momentarily.
I’m flexing my newfound “me” muscles right now.
Part of that flexing includes rediscovering the word “No”.
Part of that includes realizing and accepting that I no longer have official “standing” in some areas and, because of that, I am now choosing to let go and move forward in a new direction.
There is a woman in the circle of my extended family who is the quintessential golddigger. I’ve watched her for years as she has ingratiated herself with a certain family member, knowing full well what she was attempting. (I *am* a PI, after all).
While my late husband was alive, he and I did our best to thwart her. (I love that word, by the way. “Thwart”. There is not nearly enough thwarting going on these days. But I digress).
Perhaps it’s the grieving widow in me (I truly suspect not, though), but last spring, when it became abundantly clear that our efforts would be in vain, that’s the point where hubby essentially gave up. His tenuous health started to decline rapidly once he figured out that he could not be the protector that he’d always been and there was going to be no way to prevent her takeover.
We’d watched helplessly as she successfully inserted wedge after wedge between this beloved family member and anyone in his life who could possibly pose a threat to her.
Despite my warnings and his, our protestations were waved off. “We’re not being taken advantage of” sounds a little silly when it’s painfully obvious to everyone but you that… you are.
Golddigger woman even had the chutzpah to show up at the hospital and stroll into the dialysis unit to see firsthand how close hubby was to death (until I kicked her out, of course. Redheaded pit bulls don’t take kindly to interlopers, after all).
Although I made it very well known that she was not welcome at his funeral and prevented her appearance there, she could not resist one final slap in the face.
At a recent family luncheon where there was an empty chair next to me in hubby’s honor – she plopped herself right down in it.
Purposely.
I’ve never clutched cutlery so tightly in my life.
Her unspoken message of “I’ve won” was crystal clear.
I left early.
In the future, I will seek ways to gracefully avoid any gathering that she might attend.
That will most likely be all of them.
Although my redheaded pitbull genes are still intact, and there are a ton of ways to legally and satisfyingly annihilate her, it’s simply not worth it.
Anger and rage have never been a good fit in my life anyway.
I’m learning to pick my battles, and the “battle” I’ve picked to join is the one that brings me more opportunities like those that I’d allowed to pass me by in the past, when I was mistakenly trying not to be “selfish”.
You cannot reach for the future if you’re still clinging to the past, and I’ve concluded that for me, the best “revenge” will be a life well lived.
Selfish?
Perhaps.
And I’m okay with that.
I think I shall call it “Thwarting” instead.
Yeah. Thwarting. I love that word.

Puppy Love

Anyone who knows me or follows me knows that I am the doting “mama” to two of the world’s cutest miniature dachshunds, Wyatt Earp, a mischievous red dapple with one blue eye and Josi, a raven little long haired wire haired tiny beauty.

Several months ago, a new neighbor moved in next door and, like I and many people in our neighborhood, he too has dogs. But his canine companions, Zoe and Oscar – are two very large, undeniably imposing animals. Both are of questionable heritage, and each are large enough to have struck terror into one sweet little lady who lives around the corner and was summarily convinced that they are “pitbulls”. She clutched not only her pearls, but her little terrier as well and ran in the other direction when she first saw them.

On the dogs’ first foray out with their master to survey their new territory, my two little scamps raced out into the yard….and promptly came nose to nose with two behemoths that literally dwarfed them. Then, the most amazing thing happened.

Tails wagged.

Sniffs were exchanged.

Inconceivable friendships were born.

Over the last months, their buddyship has only deepened.

All I have to do is say “Where’s Zoe and Oscar?” and ears perk up, eyes light up and the puppy happy dances begin all the way to the door.

Little Miss Josi, my mill rescue baby who is 10 pounds dripping wet and was heretofore terrified of her own shadow has a puppy crush of epic proportions on Oscar.

Wyatt Earp, the 13 year old, 12 pound stud muffin legend in his own mind seems to be similarly enamoured of Zoe.

You see, Wyatt and Josi have never seen the network news or read the newspapers replete with reports (much like those a generation ago about German Shepherds and Dobermans) of the reputation as a thoroughly dangerous breed that their new objects of affection have been wrongly saddled with by a fearful little lady. As such, they didn’t succumb to irrational fears, or immediately look for the worst. They just saw, well, two other dogs.

As the mailman, trash man, UPS guy and FedEx delivery men (who have still not managed to break into my house and attack me in all these years) can tell you – my dogs are abundantly aware of any perceived danger and they are rightly protective of their abode. But, they’re also pretty darned good judges of who and who not to like. That they like Zoe and Oscar is good enough for me.

To be fair, in my life I have met a Chihuahua or two who were the very embodiment of the phrase “death from the ankles down” – so I can testify that it’s not the breed, it’s the environment and the treatment that matters.

And, gentle reader, such is life. We can choose to only accept stereotypes and look for the worst in others and be rewarded with finding it each and every time, or we can realize that, in the end, we’re all just puppies.

Decision 2016

I’ve made my decision.

Actually decisions.

1. On Thanksgiving, I’m going to make that tiny turkey that I bought for just the two of us when I was exuberant about hubby doing so well. With all the trimmings, just as we’d planned. And one, possibly two, bottles of the finest wine I can rustle up.

2. I’m going to decorate the snot out of the Casa del Judi for Christmas. Just like he and I did ever so many years ago, but hadn’t been able to for the last several years because he was so ill.

3. And, because I’ve decided that the best way to honor his life is to live mine to the fullest:
I’m meeting with friends who are going to help me with editing and publishing this week, and my first book is going to be a reality. Soon.

Stay tuned.

Angel Noogies

This rather long missive is meant to bring you all up to speed on the life and times of Judianna, as my blog has been sadly unattended for some time.

My husband lost his long battle almost two weeks ago. It was expected, but unexpected at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Bear with me, because, although the first “historical” portion seems to be maudlin, this is not a “boo-hoo” blog.

First, and most importantly – please know that I am overwhelmed with the kindness and the love from all of you (well, almost all of you), and I cherish all of your supportive comments.

Because hubby passed away at home and wasn’t in hospice, it was deemed an “Unattended Death” and our home was technically a crime scene Friday night (October 21, 2016) until the coroner arrived and released him to the funeral home many hours later.

As many of you know, he had “graduated” from using a wheelchair to a walker and he was actually getting so much stronger that I purchased a small turkey for Thanksgiving.

Even though I had concerns, he was truly excited and looking forward to go in for one additional procedure on October 13th to place a more permanent dialysis catheter (a graft, actually) in his thigh so he could get rid of the temporary “permacath” in his chest.

Apparently, the outpatient surgery was just too much for his already weakened and incredibly damaged heart to handle. While he made it through the procedure itself with “flying colors” and even joked with the OR staff, he just never bounced back. He was weak, nauseous, dizzy.

We talked about whether this was too much for him, if he wanted to just call hospice. He said no. With the same determination I’d seen countless times in our 22 years, he said “I want to fight.” And… he fought. He fought with the heart of a champion until the very end.

On the afternoon of October 21st, I brought him home from the Friday session of his three times a week dialysis. Got him in his comfy chair, and gave him a homemade popsicle. He ate it, and settled back for a nap. The dachshunds and I were camped out in our recliner next to him where we had been since we brought him home from surgery.

At 7:20 p.m., he asked for another popsicle. I handed it to him, and told him I was going to go to the bedroom to get him a change of clothes out of his dialysis shirt and pants so he could get changed into something comfy.

I wasn’t more than 10 feet down the hall, when I heard him say “AAHH!”. I ran back in and found him slumped over in his chair, the half eaten popsicle on his lap. Thank God I told him “I Love You” and he said “I Love You” back when I handed him the popsicle – those would be our last words to each other.

Despite my panicked call to 911 and me frantically doing CPR until help arrived, he was gone.

The coroner, fire department, paramedics, police department and everyone who was on scene were so compassionate, so caring. The coroner told me that he died instantly, and that there was nothing anyone could do that would have saved him.

I suppose if there can be such a thing as a “good death”, that was it.

His “gift” to me was to wait until I had walked out of the room to leave me and leave us forever.

But his are (as they always were) the gifts that continue.

I read a book long ago called “God Winks”. They, according to the author, are those unexplainable coincidences, pieces of synchronicity that let you know all is well. Although I am in love with the term “God Winks”, I probably would be in terrible trouble if I were to use it, so I shall call them “Angel Noogies”.

The manager and assistant manager of our community, invited me up for lunch on the 24th. They not only fed my tummy, they nourished my soul. Unbeknownst to them, the delicious baked ziti they made for lunch just happened to be the same first meal I cooked for hubby 22+ years ago. And they generously offered to let us use the clubhouse for hubby’s memorial service that was to be a celebration of his life that upcoming Friday. “Angel Noogie” number one had arrived.

We laid hubby to rest on the 27th of October.

The cemetery is close to a major intersection, and during a rather emotional part of the committal, we were all getting even more teary eyed. Just then, a car drove by with its windows down and they were blaring “Tequila” by the Champs. I said “That’s Hubby’s doing”.
So, if I ever needed a sign, or an “Angel Noogie” – that was the second one.
And, because “Angel Noogies” come in threes….

About two hours prior to the Friday night event, the Celebration of his Life, I was pulling trays of these decadent little bacon wrapped cocktail sausages out of the fridge to broil so I could take them to the celebration. Mr. Wyatt Earp – the world’s orneriest dachshund – decided to snag one of them from the bottom tray before I could get it. He bolted it down – *Wooden Toothpick And All*!
I freaked out (not that I’ve had anything to freak out about lately), and made a panic call to the vets. But I got their answering machine because it was lunch hour there. I left a frantic message and, a couple of minutes later, decided to scoop the sausage snagging pup up in my arms and race him in there in person.
The second I got to the truck – I realized that… I had left my keys in the house.
I was fricking locked out of my house.
“I’ll call someone”, I thought.
I had left my iPhone next to my keys in my fricking house.
So, in full dress blouse, skirt, nylons, and pumps… I broke into my house.
(BTW, I’m dismayed by how easy it was to break into my abode and I’m working on more security this week.)
Once I got inside, there was a message on my iPhone from the vets telling me not to freak out – just to keep an eye on the little guy and let them know if he started getting sick or having “shitzus”.
I did end up taking my sausage stealing weenie dog to the vets on Saturday – the sausage & bacon (per the vets) did him more harm than the toothpick prolly – they gave him a shot, and gave me some meds for him. Although he’s had a couple of cookie-tossing episodes since then, he seems to be doing better.
My back (which I’d horribly wrenched in my unsuccessful CPR attempt the previous Friday) still hates me with every disk and muscle fiber of its being.
All I could think of was hubby laughing his butt off at me for breaking and entering while being so nattily dressed, and reminding me (as he often did) that there is no reason to panic and everything will work out. I’d call that an “Angel Noogie” for sure.

So, dear friends and followers, just saying “Thank You” seems so inadequate compared to the herculean amount of love, compassion, kindness and support I’ve received.

But thank you…

In no particular order, to – my family and my extended family – who have been there for me at the drop of a hat, who’ve helped set up, clean up, who sat with hubby while I raced out to grab yet another prescription or supply for him so he wouldn’t be alone, who’ve held my hands when there were no other familiar hands to hold them, who’ve shared in my tears and then cried their own even as they dried mine.

My/our longtime friends who became clients, clients who became friends, and neighbors who relied on hubby’s assistance and then, when he could help no longer, reached their hands out to us in help.

My FaceBook friends who drove all the way down from Denver to “represent”. Three beautiful souls that my husband and I had never met in real life until they physically were there at the celebration of his life in honor of his memory and as supportive, hugging, caring representatives of the love and support you have all shown through the years. Another guest said “FaceBook friends don’t do that!” I said “Ours do.” …and they did.

Strangers who are no longer strangers on FaceBook and Twitter, who’ve sent me messages of love, of comfort; who’ve prayed with us and for us countless times while hubby battled on for all of these many years. Who reveled in his successes, who joined me in concern for his travails, who shared in my grief at his passing. Beloved wonderful friends who have given their time, their energy and their donations to help make his last all too few months with me, with us, even more meaningful.

I fancy myself a wordsmith – but words fail me now. “Thank you” is inadequate. “Friend” is inadequate. “Appreciated” is inadequate.

My love for you all is immeasurable, unending. From my heart to yours…

I wish you love. I wish you joy. And I wish you all “Angel Noogies”.

A pound of Corned Beef and a Lecture, please.

So, I’m at the deli section in my local supermarket the other day.

There are two clerks busily working on orders, and two people standing next to me who, I assumed, were the order-ees.

When clerk number three walked up to the front of the deli case, I started in with my order….and heard a meek little “um, excuse me? I believe I was next” from the woman standing next to me.

I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “Oh my goodness. You most certainly were. I apologize.”

Her: “since you’re already ordering, it’s okay, I can wait”.

Me: “to heck with that – you were first, please go ahead. I insist.”

As the clerk was assembling her order, she actually apologized to me! She said “I don’t know what came over me there, I usually don’t say anything at all”.

To which I replied that, yeah, she probably normally wouldn’t ever say anything but then she’d do a slow burn all the way home about the rude bimbo that pushed in line ahead of her like she wasn’t even there.

She nodded in agreement.

And I finished my short off the cuff lecture about how freeing it is when you realize that you’re capable of actually standing up for yourself with a “good on you for not being invisible anymore”.

I think I saw her stand a little straighter while we were chatting. At least I hope so.

Here’s the thing, she was right to stand up for herself – but she wasn’t a jerkwad about it.

I’ve thought about that timid little lady a few times lately as I’ve watched our national discourse become, well, coarse.

Maybe too many people – too many groups of people – have felt that they were “invisible” for too long and have decided that enough is enough and they’re going to push back. Actually standing up for yourself is a good thing. Somewhere along the way, many of my fellow Americans have confused boorish with strong, obstreperous with gallant, volume with substance.

There’s a better way, IMHO, but we’ve somehow forgotten what that is.

Don’t get me wrong, here. As a card carrying, stereotypical redheaded pitbull with lipstick, I’ve learned the hard way that just meekly letting “others” run roughshod over you can be just as stressful, if not more, than piping up and saying “hey! That’s not right!” when the situation warrants it. “If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” has been proven out time after time, interaction after interaction in my life and the only way to put a halt to it without causing WWIII is to very calmly, very firmly, just say no.

Of course, I’ll feel really bad if I find out that the lady in the store kicked a toddler out of her way in the produce section after our conversation.