Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Forty-six Degrees.....

I walk nearly every day, at least two miles, frequently as much as six.  Cold, snow, rain:  It's all just weather, right? Last winter's bitter cold didn't stop Simon and I from walking, but his arthritis did.  Poor little old fat dog!  He turned 12 this month (bringing back memories of our NayNay nearly fainting from witnessing the miracle of puppy arrival while all of her sisters oohed and ahhed about it LOL).  His idea of a long walk on a great day was about a mile and a half anyway.

Maybelle has been a better walker, and now I am the one who is fat and old LOL. But she is, apparently, a Southern Belle.  She's the first Big Dog I have ever owned, and the first dog I have ever had that I needed to buy a doggie coat for.  Back in January when our exceptionally mild winter snapped from 35 degrees to 10 overnight, she suddenly refused to set paw out of the door to do more than tinkle. So then this happened:

It's a little embarrassing, to be honest.  After all, this is a nearly 80 pound hound dog. Of course, I'm walking in pajama pants in public so I guess I really shouldn't cast any stones.


Yesterday it was forty-six degrees outside, a veritable heat wave for the Northeast in late March.  But it was raining.  REALLY raining.  I don't mind cold.  I don't mind rain.  But I actually DO mind cold rain.  I've never had a smart phone before, but my new phone will tell me the temperature outside, and I do check it, so now I know:  Fifty degrees and raining is NOT cold.  Forty-six degrees and raining IS.  I have a raincoat, purchased several years ago, so it is size Extra Large Fat Lady and it acts as a tent whenever I am standing still and it comes down to almost mid-thigh; but after the first mile when my jammie pants have hit the 'sopping wet' point and are slapping my legs with every step, and those modern well-ventilated walking shoes have let in about three and a half gallons of cold water and I'm wishing I owned vinyl socks, forty-six degrees is too damned cold.

I just thought you would all like to know.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Make 'Em Cry......

Our church has a Tenebrae service on Good Friday every year.  It's quietly dramatic.  There are about fifteen readings telling the story of Jesus' last day:  The prayers in the garden, the betrayal, the beatings, and the final hours.  As each passage is read, a candle is extinguished and the lights dim.

At the final reading, when Jesus is laid in a borrowed tomb, the final lights go out, and in the darkness, a door slams.

And from high in the church balcony, an a capella voice begins:

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?...."

Were You There

When it is over, a few lights go on and people leave in silence.  They frequently leave in tears.

It is one of my favorite services.  It touches deep to the heart of the meaning of Good Friday.

Last year Babygirl and I spent Good Friday in the hospital.  It doesn't seem like much of a holiday to some people, but, you see, I'm the person who makes everybody cry, singing from the balcony.  And last year, I sang only for Babygirl, from the side of her bed, in the dark.  And it made ME cry.

This year was definitely better.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Single White Chair.....

Citygirl's wedding was held in the courtyard of a local museum.  I never really noticed that it is clearly visible to anyone who cares to peer over the five-foot-tall wall while walking down the street, twenty feet above its floor.

The chairs that were set up for the wedding were white plastic folding chairs, good enough for people of average to, perhaps, slightly above average size.  But Hubby is a big man.  Not only this, but the condition of his back pre-surgery made it hard for him to get up and down from a low, unstable seat.  So before the ceremony we swapped out one chair for one of the museums cast iron white garden chairs.  Not perfect, but good enough for a thirty to forty minute sit.

Weeks later, probably toward the end of September, I was walking Maybelle, and we happened to pass by the museum.  Out of curiosity, I looked over the wall for the first time ever.

The chair was still there, still facing the wall.  One front row seat to a wedding now long over.

A ghost chair.

My Dad's chair.

I stood at the top of that wall, crying, missing him, and thinking how very, very much he would have wanted to be there to see his first granddaughter married.  And how very, very much I wanted him there.  And how I know in my heart that he WAS there, in the front row next to us all, watching.

The next day I went back to get a picture.

The chair was gone.

Message received, Dad.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Somnus Interruptus...

I woke up this morning at 3:30 AM.  PRE-Daylight Savings Time, as I hadn't changed my bedroom clock before I went to bed.  I've been at this long enough to tell when I am really, really awake, so I got up.  I puttered around with paperwork and didn't realize we'd had a time change until I was nearly late for church.

So after lunch, when I sat down to read for a bit, I fell asleep.

I woke up to a little face next to mine.  "Gamma!  I wanna play da Skylanders game."

Groggily, I gave him the response I often gave to what I considered to be unreasonable requests from the girls:  "And I want a million dollars."

Puzzled, "Why do you want a million dollars?"

More alert.  "If I had a million dollars we could buy a house at the beach, and we could stay there all summer!  Wouldn't that be amazing?"

Squeaker got excited.  "My Mom has a million dollars!  It's in da penny jar!"
Muffling a snort, I told him to go tell her we needed a million dollars and why.

Don't judge me.  It gave me time to wake up and face a tarted-up game of Pop-o-Matic fake-Trouble or whatever-the-heck noisy thing Squeaker wanted me to do for the next hour.

He was a little disappointed to learn that the penny jar doesn't hold a million dollars.  But we tied at Skylanders, so it was all good.

Some time later Curlygirl came over and asked, "What did you need $50 for? He said something about leaving for the beach?"  I told her I'd asked for a million.  She didn't even blink.  She remembers how ridiculous I am.  Ah, breaking in the next gen.


Settling Things Out.....

As executrix of my Mom's 'estate' I'v.e been sitting on a scant handful of papers since her death, waiting for all the bills to finalize and the life insurance policy to pay out.

Fortunately for me, my name is on her checking account (those of you with old people:  Get. This. Done.).  That didn't stop them from shutting off all ATM access to the account when she died:  All further transactions must be done in person until I close the account, meaning I must be able to show up on a Saturday morning before noon to get anything done.  I can still write checks.

Her NYSEG (power) bill has a credit of nearly $200.  Billing questions (such as, "When will we see a refund?") can only be discussed M-F during business hours.  Funny, that's when I'm working.

Her nursing home has a bank, in which I deposited $100 for her cable and for the traveling hairdresser.  I'm pretty sure she never had her hair done, and the cable for two months would have been $10.  I have to turn up at the 'bank' between 10 and noon, or 1 - 4 PM to get the money back. Um, again, I have this job thing that eats up most of my free time. I've left messages.

Her nursing home bill for the first 20 days she was there is $16,403.20.  I haven't received the bill for the last 10 days as that was a separate month, but all things being equal that would bring the total to $24,604.40.  She was living on a Social Security check that was just under twice the poverty line (seriously, that got her some benefits - heat assistance, some food stamps and it got her Medicare supplemental insurance paid for. I got very nervous every time there was a COLA for fear it would throw her a dollar over and she'd lose about $300/month).  Because of her income and lack of assets she immediately qualified for Medicaid, so we are, thankfully, not responsible for the monster bill.  The estate's total payout to the nursing home will be $1532.  I wrote that check this morning.

She had a life insurance policy, thankfully, and it covered the funeral she desired completely, with a little change left over. I paid the last couple of premiums after she went into the nursing home to keep it going.

If I'm adding correctly and no other weirdness ensues, my brothers and I will inherit just over $1000, "share and share alike" as the will instructs.  I'll give it another month to finalize.

But when it comes down to it, none of this is what we've inherited from our Mom.

We are, each of us, her children.  Each of us has her grey eyes (not the Paul Newman blue that Dad could have passed on!).  Each of us has her wicked sense of the absurd, the ability to see the funny in the most solemn of occasions (Seriously.  Ask the funeral director if she has EVER had as much fun planning a funeral as she did with us); her sense of right and wrong (and her ability to ignore it); and her deeply ingrained knowledge that life is a competition:  You are in it to win it, so give it all you have whether it's college, a game of chess, or participating in the conversation at dinner even when you can't quite recall what it's actually about.

I miss her.  Every single day.