Archive for the ‘Partial Nudity’ Category

This is probably more of a tweet or a facebook status than a “post,” but this is where I am when I’m thinking it, so I’ll say it here.

I dream of Biscuit a lot. And I miss him terribly. On PMSing days, I ruminate that he was the only one in the family (or on earth, or whatever), who REALLY loved me. When I dream of him (which I love to do), I can feel his fur, and his warmth. Very real. The only good thing that has come of this is, I sleep better. Biscuit was always in bed before me, and I would slide in between him and Jif (Jif under the covers, Biscuit on top), like sliding into an envelope. I would position my body however I needed to, to avoid disturbing Biscuit. Often, this left me considerably contorted. I did not realize how much so until I started waking up without stiff neck, hips, etc., from the awkward positions I slept in. And until I realized that I wasn’t waking up a few times a night trying to adjust my position within the envelope. (Dogs make people do crazy things.)

I don’t like being a person in a house without a dog. I will always be a person, I imagine, and always live in some sort of a dwelling (God willing), so the only thing that can make the situation better is to get a dog.

I go on PetFinder.com several times a week, for long periods of time. (Would a pit bull really be a bad idea? There are so many of them on there.) This has been my modus operandi when getting a “new” dog after the passing of an “old” dog: when the day comes that I feel wholly, the feeling that “I want a dog,” as opposed to “I want Biscuit,” then it will be the right time.

Not there yet. I’m still very much in the “I want Biscuit” place.

Well, hell, this would not have fit into a tweet or a status at all.


Read Full Post »

There’s a little “pub” near here where we go quite often for dinner. Nothing fancy, usually a salad and soup on those nights when I work a little late and we’d rather sit and talk than hurry up and cook something. You enter this pub through the bar, then make a quick turn through another door into the restaurant part.

One night last week, as we were leaving the restaurant, stepping into the bar, I felt a chilly sensation across my front middle. To be more specific, I felt a brisk breeze across the approximately 1.5″ swath of belly skin (fat) that was inadvertently exposed. See, the good news was that I have lost the tiniest bit of weight, so that the jeans were slipping down. And the bad news was that my shirt was too damned short and my gut was busting out.

Something about the breeze on my belly, and the shock of my exposure, and the wondering how many fools at the bar had noticed, tickled my funny bone and I started to laugh. Without pulling down my shirt. Which sounds odd under the circumstances, but there was a method to my madness. Jif and LG were slightly ahead of me walking out. I wanted them to see that this hysterical thing was happening, but I didn’t want to shout ahead, “Hey! Look at my belly!” (Because that would be gauche, and as you’ll see, I am anything but gauche.) So I thought, if I’m laughing (as I was) and lagging behind (as I was), when they turn around to see where I am and what’s so funny, and they see my belly hanging out, they’ll find it just as funny as I do.

So, soon they turned and saw and heard me laughing. And they grinned a little, but that really was not what the occasion called for, so I had to raise the stakes. I bent backwards and stuck my belly out, and pulled my shirt up more, and went after them! Then they started laughing like they were supposed to.

I chased them down the sidewalk and out into the parking lot, as they laughed and yelled things about how terrifying the situation was…

::tangent::Here, there was a drama within the drama. Since LG was little, our rule, in fact her very first rule, was WE HOLD HANDS IN A PARKING LOT. Now, this started when she was barely toddling, and as she got older, of course we relaxed the rule. But for some reason, it’s been revived. Just to torment her, we remind her of THE RULE. And we chase her down in parking lots and grab her hands while she screams and laughs hysterically and tries to escape from us, and we go on about “YOU KNOW THE RULE!” and people stare at us like we’re idiots or like we’re abducting her. So, yea, not only are Jif and I chasing LG down to enforce THE RULE, but my big fat belly is shining to light the way.::end of tangent::

… and I laughed so hard it’s a wonder I wasn’t peeing (because I’m not QUITE bizarre enough yet, this fat almost-50-year-old woman wielding her belly like a weapon in the parking lot of a strip mall), until I finally corner them at the car.

And they lock me out. So, I do the only thing I can do in that situation. I pull my shirt up even more and stand on tippy-toes to press my belly up against the passenger side window.

We are all laughing like hyenas when Jif finally lets me in. Sitting there in the parking lot before we pull out, in the sighing afterglow of the hilarity, I can’t help but think, “Oh. my. GOD, I hope none of my clients were here tonight.”

Read Full Post »

NY08-bay steps

“Relationship is primary…It is possible to cause seemingly biochemical changes through human emotional involvement. You literally have changed his chemistry by being his friend.” — a psychiatrist quoted in “The Soloist,” by Steve Lopez

Psalm 51:10
Ecclesiastes 4:10-12

I have been thinking a lot about relationships, these past few months. Well, maybe all my life, but especially in the past few months. The things I miss about my relationship with my mother. The things we never got right. My relationship with my husband, and the things we have yet to get right. My relationship with my 13-year-old daughter, and how almost desperate I feel at times, to get that right. With adults, there are more chances for do-overs. Kids are forgiving and resilient, but with kids, those moments in time can really stick. They remember a look, a tone, a few words spoken in frustration.

The more I learn about brain development, the more seriously I take this business of relationship. Of human interaction, and of being conscious of creating an atmosphere that nurtures growth and development. There was a time when my home and even my presence (I’ve been told) supported such an atmosphere. That’s not true, now. I say this NOT to have you kind, generous folks jump up and say, “Oh, yes, you do!” I don’t need that. And I live in my house and in my head, so I know better. Illness and relationships and life circumstances have taken a toll. I am in the process of trying to climb back to that place, to that piece of my identity. And I will. Because I choose to, and because God will help.

I am thankful for the words and the actions of those who continue to help change my chemistry in the right direction.

Read Full Post »

Working on this tonight, to be shared at my Mom’s funeral this weekend

Some of my earliest memories of Mom are her washing dishes at the sink at our house in Delaware. She would wash dishes and sing. I heard my mother sing songs that I didn’t hear anywhere else. If a radio was on in our house, my father had it tuned to Orioles baseball. The music came from Mom. Years later I heard someone named Loretta Lynn and some dead guy named Hank Williams, singing Mom’s songs. They had more talent, I suppose, but they had no more heart, soul or passion than my Mom. I learned to love music from my Mom’s singing at the kitchen sink.

I learned to love books and reading from my Mom. She read to me. And she taught me how important books are. She said that if she had not married and had babies so young, if she had made different choices, she would have wanted to be a librarian. She would have wanted to be surrounded by stacks and stacks of books, instead of stacks of dishes and laundry.

I learned to laugh at myself from my Mom. As a psychotherapist now, I have to say, the value of that ability cannot be overstated. The difference between survival and defeat is often the ability to laugh at oneself.

You couldn’t be around my mother for very long without two things happening. She would feed you something, whether you wanted it or not, and she would mention the Lord. If you were having some sort of trouble, she would advise you to pray.

My mother was not as well-educated as she would like to have been, but she said a lot of very wise things that her children will always remember. She taught us, “You treat the janitor and the governor just the same, with respect.” Tony reminded me that she said, “Don’t ever take from a person anything that you can’t give back.” She was talking about someone’s reputation. She told us we were no better than anyone else, and we were no worse. She told us not to bring out candy unless we had enough to go around. She taught us the things that all good mothers teach their children: you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar; if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything. She taught me that mothers will cheerfully sacrifice in order for their children to have the best. In the 60s, when schools were integrating, she taught me to get along with people who looked different from me; we used the term “colored people” then; I remember her telling me, about a little black girl that I mentioned to her, “Don’t treat her the same as everyone else; you treat her better; maybe you can help make up for the ones who are mean to her today.” As a human being, she taught me tolerance. As her daughter, she taught me to love pretty clothes and too many shoes. She taught me not to buy shoes without buying a bag to match; you’ll regret it. And no matter how bad life looks, or how bad you feel, get your bath and fix your face and smile. I teased her that her motto was “It doesn’t matter how you feel as long as you look good.” And she surely did look good. When I was a little girl, I thought my mother was as pretty as any movie star. My father thought so, too. On my wedding day he told me, with no unkindness intended, that I was pretty, but not as pretty as Nell.

I learned how to love from my mother, and I hope to some day be as good at it as she was. Not likely, though. I believe she’s been awarded her gold medals by now. If my mother loved you, like she loved her husband, children, grandchildren, and others, then you were loved beyond all reason and good sense. I can’t help but think that’s very much how Jesus loved; like Mom.

My mother was the Queen of the Second Chance. No matter what her husband, children, nieces, nephews, in-laws, out-laws did, she never wrote them off. You always got another chance. No matter what kind of fuss you had with her, you could come back the next day and get something to eat, a place to sleep. Her door and her heart stayed open all the time. We could learn a lot from her example of forgiveness.

My mother wasn’t perfect, of course. She and I got on each other’s nerves the way only mothers and daughters can. I will also say that she loved her daughters-in-law the way she loved me, which includes getting on their last nerve sometimes. That’s OK. One thing that I think has always spoken well of Mom is that even her sons’ former wives love her and continued to ask about and keep in touch with her.

Sometimes Mom didn’t know when to quit. That’s a trait most of us have inherited from her – talking, working – you name it, we’ve probably done a little or a lot too much of something. I heard about a time Mom traveled North with two of her nieces, whom she loved very much, and she talked so much they stopped and bought her a book so she’d be quiet for a while. She didn’t get the hint. She stopped chatting and started reading out loud to them!

And Mom never quite caught on to the concept of political correctness. For example, if she saw someone whose nationality or ethnic background she wondered about, she would not think twice about asking them about it. She would say, sweet as could be, “Now, honey, just what ARE you?” I would cringe, but the person would give her their answer, also sweet as could be. I guess people could tell that as politically incorrect as she was, her spirit was never malicious.

Thank you for being here to honor my mother. I hope she is pleased with the things we’ve all had to say about her as we’ve remembered her here today. If we remember to talk to Jesus regularly, and be sweet to each other, and aren’t afraid to laugh, then we will keep her memory alive. And ladies, if we always have a bag to match our shoes.

Read Full Post »


I’ve been asked to think about my mother’s eulogy. It occurs to me that she might be a “forgivaholic.” Which, if you’re going to be any flavor of “-aholic,” is probably not among the worst you could be. I don’t think God will say to anyone, “You forgave too many times! You gave too many second chances.” That would be a pot and kettle kind of situation. I think.

Read Full Post »

I recently sent out an email to some IRL friends with the subject line, “because I didn’t have quite enough on my plate.”

My pastor wrote back that she hoped I’d be able to feel not so much that my plate was full, but that my cup runneth over.

My Mom remains in the hospital. She is not going to get better. At least not on this planet. She is no longer eating, and her kidneys are failing. It may be hours, it may be days. I don’t think weeks are likely, but who knows?

I am attempting to help plan a funeral from 500 miles away. My crazy drug addict brother telephones regularly to curse at me and blame me for anything he can think of — the fact that my mother won’t eat, is in pain — whatever doesn’t sit well with him is somehow my fault. He routinely makes threats against me and my family. Yes, I have been in touch with law enforcement.

On Friday I took Biscuit to the vet. He’d lost a little weight, and his appetite wasn’t good, but mostly, I just had a feeling something wasn’t quite right with him. On Saturday, I learned that he was suffering from advanced diabetes, with dangerously high blood sugar levels. He was admitted to the emergency animal hospital where they would regulate his blood sugar, then send him home, after teaching us to give him twice daily insulin injections. They said he’d be there 24-48 hours.

Three days and over three thousand dollars later, Biscuit’s blood sugar is still as dangerously high. The decisions we must make regarding him are not unlike the decisions we had to make regarding my mother. What, and for how long, do we treat? With my mother, we did not consider money. Very sadly, with Biscuit, we must. The expense so far has hit us very hard. We’d put that behind us quickly, if it had helped him. But it didn’t. We are waiting to hear from his regular vet now, just what might be possible, or reasonable.

I do continue to struggle with WTF Disease/lyme. I am much improved; and still somewhat disabled by it. I remain in treatment, with monthly tests and doctor visits.

A couple of people have said that things can’t get worse. Oh, yes they can. I never think that, because I know very well there are worse things that could happen. Still, this is plenty bad. In many ways, my cup runneth over, it’s true. But it’s also true that right now, my plate is full.

Read Full Post »

I’m emailing. And phone calling. A lot. Here’s this afternoon’s emails. I put them in normal prose order, i.e., you don’t have to read them bottom to top, as you would if I’d lifted them directly from email. The woman corresponding with me is a 70-something cousin, I don’t know very well. I’d like to, though. This isn’t the first time she’s reached out to me very graciously.

Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 18:43:15 +0000
From: susie@email.addy
To: sharon; judy; linda; deane; stacey; trish
Subject: follow-up to previous email

Mom continues to refuse the feeding tube. She has talked with Mike and the doctor and appears to be competent, in the doctor’s judgment, to make that choice. She is fully aware that it will lead to her death. She says she does not want to go through any more medical procedures, does not believe she would get well. She talked with Mike about her life and her children, and she appears to be lucid.

The doctor says since she has made this decision, she will be placed under “palliative care,” and they will keep her as comfortable as possible. He said if she wants to try to eat, she can, since pneumonia won’t make a difference one way or the other. I suppose there’s a slim chance that she will somehow start swallowing again when they let her try to eat, but that’s not very likely.

It goes without saying, this is very difficult to hear.



From: Deane
To: Susie
Sent: Wed, 20 May 2009 23:29:50 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: RE: follow-up to previous email

Dear Susie,
I’m so sorry to hear of this latest set-back. This has to be heart breaking & frustrating and hard to accept for you children. I do understand your feelings and hope I can help you to understand your Mom’s. I’m not as old as your Mom but I am a sr. citizen. Mother & grand-mother. I love & value life & want to be here for my family but only if I can take care of myself & be independent. I don’t want to be a burden on my family or society. There are some things worse than death & sometimes what we have to go through is one of them. Your Mom has endured numerous illnesses, surgeries, etc. so we know she is a fighter. But when you get knocked down too many times, you get tired of fighting, & it’s harder to get back up again. I’m sure she feels like she has lived a long & full life but old age is hard, & she won’t be able to take care of herself. I have discussed this with my sister, Margaret, & cousins: Rena, Willa, Kaye, & Joan. We are all in our 70’s & 80’s. We all agree that we understand & respect what & why your Mom is making the decisions she is. I’m grateful that she is lucid & can make this difficult decision for herself. She is NOT MAKING A DECISION TO DIE. She’s just deciding not to put herself through more medical & painful procedures, to prolong her suffering that may extend her life but not an acceptable quality of life. I admire her bravery & feel that I would make the same decision if I were in her situation. I think she’s leaving it in God’s hands & not the Dr’s. Once again, I’m giving unasked for advice & hope its received as a comfort because that is my intention. Our whole family will be praying for all of you as you face the difficult days ahead.

Love, Deane
Please share this with your Brothers, if you think it might help.


From : susie
Subject : RE: follow-up to previous email
To : Deane
Wed, May 20, 2009 08:12 PM

Deane, thank you again. I do appreciate what you say here. I spent about 45 minutes on the phone this evening with my pastor, and she says the same thing. When I saw that you wrote “she is NOT MAKING A DECISION TO DIE,” I had to go back and look at my email to you, to see if I had used that expression. I didn’t, but you were absolutely right, that is the thing that has been troubling me. I needed to sit with it, and pray with it, and cry with it, for a few hours. I won’t say it’s easy to accept, but I do accept it, and I am very thankful that she is still clear enough to make the decision, and not leave it on one of her children to make it. I will pass on what you’ve said to my brothers.

Now, having said all that, you won’t believe what happened after all the papers were signed, refusing the feeding tube, and the palliative care people came in: SHE ATE HER DINNER. She is full of surprises, my Mom. Don’t let it be said that anyone has her figured out. I was laughing on the phone as Mike told me about it. He fed her the pureed applesauce, sloppy joes, and something else. She choked once, and they suctioned her, but he said she ate enough for an actual small meal. I do not know what God has in mind here. It’s a rollercoaster. I don’t dare get my hopes up that this will be a turning point; but I am thankful that she had the pleasure of tasting another meal, and her son had the honor of feeding it to her. I am grateful for your friendship, and for getting to know one another better, through this crisis.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »