Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


Dating in 2015

You know, I’m an interesting specimen. I struggle with depression. I mean really, really struggle with it. And yet, most of the time I still have a sense of humor. I can make people laugh about things that you wouldn’t think could be laughed about. Thank God, that’s all I can say.

I thought I’d share a bunch of “dating” experiences, but I’m not sure how they will translate in this format. When I tell the stories, we all giggle. So I hope it translates on paper or you may just stop reading!

Whether you are on Match, meet someone out, or get set up by someone, dating these days requires a very healthy sense of humor.

Well, that or a straight jacket.

I have plenty of male friends who share whopper stories so let me just this isn’t really a male-bashing type thing. It’s just a “how the hell did we all get so lost when it comes to relationships?” type of thing.

Match email from a 27-year-old to me (I’m almost 48). “Hey, are you a swinger?”
My response, “You’re a cutie, but uh, NO.”

Match email from a 28-year-old: “But age is just a number!”
My response, “Uh, most of my kids are older than you are. You really don’t see a problem with that?”

Match email from a thirty-something year old. Ok, we are getting warmer.
“What’s shaking, sexy?”
My response, “Uh, well that’s quite an introduction. Not much, and you?”
His response, “Just living the dream!”
Ok, now first of all, just think about that statement. How the heck do you even respond to something like that? There is no question, no let-me-get-to-know-you, just a declarative statement.
My response, “Then what the hell are you doing on Match?”
No, that’s mean. Delete.
My response, “Well, I don’t think we would be a good match ‘cuz there ain’t nobody living the dream here in my house!”
On second thought, I just hit the “block this person” button instead. I’ve just discovered that button on the computer and I really, really like it.

Match email from SOMEONE MY AGE! Well, now that already has potential. “We seem to have a lot in common but I should let you know that I’ve recently moved to London, England. Have you ever been there?”
Ok, really? England. Pretty damn hard to meet for that first cup of coffee.

Text message from someone who found me on LinkedIn. That’s a new one.
My question, “Where are you from?”
His response, “Pakistan.”
No comment needed.
I know how to “block this person” on my phone, too.

Match email from SOMEONE MY AGE AND SOMEONE IN MY COUNTRY. Much better. But they are still in Rochester, like an hour and a half away.
My email, “But my experience is, that this kind of distance is hard when you are first getting to know someone. I’m not trying to be close-minded, but I do like to learn from the experiences I’ve had.” (When it takes three to four weeks to even set up a date because it requires a three-hour round-trip drive, that just doesn’t work when you are a single mom with five jobs.)
His response, “Well honey, blah blah blah” with a bunch of crap about how if I would let a little thing like location get in the way of a relationship, I’m obviously not mature enough to realize that grown-up relationships take work.
My response, “Who you calling honey?” Blocked!

Match email from SOMEONE MY AGE AND SOMEONE IN MY COUNTRY AND SOMEONE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! Oh my gosh, he’s even pretty handsome! Can this really be happening? We email. We text. We talk on the phone for a week. Then we make the plan to actually meet in person. Now, I’m actually a little nervous because I haven’t been on an actual “date” with any potential in months.
He stands me up two nights in a row.
My text to him, “There won’t be a third time.”
He wisely doesn’t call or text again.

That’s six for six.

I’m sure glad we got kittens for Christmas. They make me giggle, too (but not with the underlying profound sadness of how difficult of a task it is to not be alone if you don’t want to be). I bought them new toys today that look like slinkys, so that will be a better way for me to get my jollies tonight. 🙂

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Ode to a Dancer

Today I want to write about someone who I lost recently. In total, I only interacted with her three times over the last year. I engaged in many conversations about her, but only had direct contact with her a handful of times. Yet, I felt like she made an impact on my life. She inspired me. Some people are just like that.

First, let me say that she was Irish. That says a lot, right? I’m sure she could drink me under the table with her eyes closed. Her personality was larger than life. Her life’s motto was, “I’m not here for a long time, but I’m here for a good time.” She is one of the few people who could boast that she lived true to her philosophy, true to her ideals.

The last time I sat at her kitchen table, we were ironically talking about my mother and the experience of her death. My mom and I were close as close could be. Everyone was worried about me losing her because I depended on her so much. But I was one of the people who was able to accept her passing the most easily. Why? Because she was ready to go. We had sincere, deep conversations and she was completely at peace with moving on. She felt she had a fulfilling life and was prepared- and actually looking forward to- meeting the God of her faith.

Mrs. O’Dea chimed in about how she identified with some of that. The conversation turned to some of the frustrating ways that the medical system dealt with my mom and how she unnecessarily suffered. This led to her sharing a story about her own medical condition. She had been living a miraculous life the last six years. She had an issue that the doctors wanted her to be treated for and she made the decision to defy treatment and the odds. And she was sitting at her table six years later, enjoying life more fully than most people do.

She was a dance teacher in her younger years. I’ve seen pictures of her. She was truly stunning. I ran into her about a month ago out at a store and told her she looked like a movie star. I wasn’t trying to flatter her, it was the truth. It wasn’t because of her looks in and of themselves, but the way she carried herself. Confident. Bold. Colorful.

We usually ended up talking about karaoke. I regret never following through on going out with her, but you know how time passes and before you know it, it’s too late.

What I won’t forget about our last get together, is her enthusiasm about her latest favorite CD. It was all Disney music, but they were performances by folks like Ella Fitzgerald. The conversation would be going on full force, and she would suddenly hush us all up. “Listen to this part,” she would say. And she would close her eyes dramatically and then say something like, “Mmmm… that was gorgeous.” As a musician myself, I loved watching her. She truly let the music move her. She was genuine and she was contagious. Then she would announce, “If you aren’t going to sing and you aren’t going to dance, well, you might as well be dead.” She rocked.

Then there would be moments when she would talk about her son and how much she loved his curly, blond hair when he was a baby. The fondness in her voice and the softness in her eyes, is something only another mother can truly identify with. It was like he was still four years old, rather than the 45-year-old man he is today.

Anyhow, how ironic that less than two weeks after our visit and conversation, she died suddenly. Loss of any kind can trigger your own history, but this one definitely hit me. She was 72, just like my mom was when she died. She had been married to the love of her life for 51 years. My parents had been married 52. Even though I may not have known for a long time, knowing her was a GREAT time.

I have often closed my eyes in the last week and just remembered her face while listening to that music. I want to live my life like that. I want to allow myself to savor moments like that. Especially because I know all too well, it can all be over way, way, way too soon.

Thanks, Mrs. O’Dea. You will be sorely missed, but remembered with great admiration.


No Soup For You!

Even though I was not an avid Seinfeld fan, I definitely know about the Soup Nazi.
I know when you do something nice, you aren’t supposed to tell anyone. But I want to share this story with you anyway.

Yesterday, my dad and I went to his doctor’s appointment. We decided to go for something to eat at one of my favorite restaurants on the way home. If you have a favorite restaurant, you probably have a favorite waitress. I generally like all of them there, but one of them is my most favoritest of all.

She is tall, slender, pretty. Reminds me of a dancer or someone like that. Every time I’m in there, she makes me smile. We sat down and looked at the menu. I decided on a salad with chicken and asked what the soup specials were. I told her I would also have a cup of soup. After taking our orders, she kind of disappeared. I thought that was a little unusual.

Anyhow, she brings our food out and my salad is huge. I figured out that she probably forgot my soup, but I went to tell her that if she was still planning on bringing it, I didn’t want it anymore. I couldn’t possibly have room for it. She was apologetic because she didn’t hear me say I wanted some. I assured it that was all meant to be because I couldn’t possibly eat it with how big the salad was.

I sat back down and again she disappeared. Someone else checked on us, but then she reappeared. She brought our check, but also set a brown bag on the table and winked at me. “That’s a little surprise for you for later.” I knew she brought me some soup to take home.

We got chatting and I found out she was in the back because she has been assigned the duty of scheduling everyone. It was stressing her out a bit trying to figure it out. She also just moved in with her mom because she has Alzheimer’s. At night she works another job with People, Inc. with a severely disabled boy. She said she was an organized person but just couldn’t figure out how to keep everything straight.

Well, she told the right person of course. I am a goddess when it comes to organization. And I had just modified my schedule a couple of days earlier to include color coding. Having a fifth job had pushed me over the edge and my client showed me how to add color on my phone. My waitress friend was duly impressed and quite grateful. Dad made some funny comment about how he barely knows how to turn a computer on. She told him he didn’t need to because he was obviously in good hands. 🙂

After she left, I started thinking about her life. She has such a sweet spirit about her. She waits on people for a living. She cares for someone with great special needs. Then she gets to go home between those jobs and at the end of the night and do the most demanding job of caring for a parent with an extremely difficult disease to manage. What a woman.

Dad bought lunch but said I could leave the tip. I was leafing through my wallet to see what I had. Every once in a while, I get a thought that is crystal clear to me about what I need to do. I took out a ten-dollar bill. Now it wasn’t a hundred dollars or anything, but it was half what the bill was. I got a piece of paper out of my notebook and wrote, “You deserve so much more” with a little heart. Dad thought I was nuts when he first saw the amount, but I think he understood.

We left but I couldn’t resist the urge to stay in the foyer and peek through the window. I watched her see the money and the note, get a tremendous smile on her face, then go show her co-workers with pride. She probably doesn’t get thanked for what she does very often. I walked to my car and choked back tears, already formulating the blog I would write. She was the one that made my day by inspiring me with her selfless life and gentle spirit.

Yes, soup for me and it was a wonderful treat later that cold afternoon!


Unexpected Answers

I was talking with my friend Gary and discussing the way that God/life/universe works things out in ways we don’t expect. He joined Match and has not met the love of his life. BUT… he met someone who inspired a novel that he wrote. Then he met me and was inspired to take the book to publication. Then he met someone else who ended up being a connection to his editor or publisher (or someone like that). So he joined Match for one purpose, but found other needs met that he hadn’t expected. (If you haven’t checked out his book, you should. It’s called “The Flockless Shepherd” and you can find it on Amazon.)

I have been talking with Brigette for over a year now about Baby Coop Publishing. We have been “successful,” but not profitable. Four books have been published, two of which I have authored. I have been on radio, TV, had several newspaper articles written, been published online, and had over 60 lectures across the area. But we still haven’t produced income.

And income is a tricky topic. I actually can only make x amount of dollars before I start losing Social Security. But in less than four years, I will be losing half of that anyway. In less than six years, it will all be gone. I have often thought about how I may have to go back to work at an agency to make ends meet. Not what I prefer, but I will have to do what I have to do.

So we swore 2015 is the year. We are going to make money. We are going to turn our “success” into financial reward as well.

I suddenly found myself taking a turn this week that I wasn’t really expecting to. I have added yet a FIFTH job to my plate. I am officially a college professor! I have been pleasantly surprised at how excited I am to be able to say those words. Teaching was not something I had aspired to do someday. But neither was writing a book. And neither was being a public speaker.

It’s perfect, really. I will be an internship supervisor at Medaille. It is only every other week in person, and the rest can be done via telephone and email. The structure is such that there is some guidelines, but it is mostly interactive with the students. That is right up my alley. Even when I lecture, I much prefer venues where there are questions from the audience.

It started to hit me that my prayers are being answered, just not in the ways I thought they would. This really is about the book. I made my connection at the college by doing lectures about the book there. One professor was especially impressed and passed my name along to the department head. If this goes well, when I need to make up the lost income, it may be in a venue like this rather than in the agency type I thought I would have to go to. It’s all very exciting and unexpected.

So the moral of the story is to keep your eyes peeled and your mind open. If you put yourself out there, it might pay off. It might be in a totally different direction than you expected, so be flexible enough to go where the winds of change might take you!

I wanted new life to be breathed into my home. It certainly is happening. We have two new, energetic kitties, a beautiful granddaughter that will be here once a week, and I have another new job (this one actually pays money. What a concept!)

I know lots of you are struggling. Hang tight. Your day is coming.


Dimes From Heaven

Happy New Year!

The day after Christmas, Matthew’s wife went into labor. At eleven minutes after midnight, my beautiful granddaughter was born.20141227_003136

I was honored to be there for it. I was reminded again that women’s bodies are AMAZING. A birth truly is nothing short of a miracle.

Matthew and his wife, Sherry have a special bond. He had just starting dating her when he lost his dad. She had already lost her mom a few years earlier. He often talks about how Sherry has helped him navigate through his loss, being the veteran that she is.

I don’t know Sherry or her family very well. But I did catch wind of the fact that the family believes when they find a dime, they know their mom is showing her presence with them. I have no idea how that got started, but I know they believe it with all their hearts.

If you were to look through Matthew and Sherry’s wedding album, you will see a photo of a dime. When Sherry and the girls were at the wedding site getting dressed, a single dime was found on the floor. The photographer was made aware of the significance and took a picture. I thought it was a lovely story, but probably somewhere inside I was skeptical. A dime is kind of common, right? Although it is not so common to find one in a fancy dressing room.

Anyhow, after the delivery of my beautiful granddaughter, Sherry’s sister and I decided it was time to go home. It was about 1:30 AM and we were tuckered out. Granted, Sherry did all the work but somehow we were also tired. We left together so we wouldn’t have to walk in the parking lot alone.

After getting to the lobby floor, we started to walk toward the door. There on the floor, was one solitary dime. Shinier than any I have ever seen.20141227_011512

Now I no longer even have a tiny ounce of skepticism. I had goose bumps from head to toe. We took a picture and texted Matthew. Her sister wanted to take the dime upstairs so we went back up. While she shared the special moment, I stood in the hall and told the nurses the story. I think they had goose bumps as well.

One shiny dime. A gift greater than a million dollars.