Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

Leave a comment

52 Ancestors – #7 How My Parents Met

If you spend 10 minutes with my father, you hear the story of how he met my mom. It’s his favorite story in the world and I’ve heard it a million times. But it’s still a good story. In his words, verbatim and for the record:


“I went to Duke University and I was poor. I didn’t have a nickel. One day when I was a junior, a fraternity brother on my hall asked me if I had a date that night. I said, ‘Sure do,” and he asked me if I’d like to make it a double date. He had a car. Oh boy, that was something! So I said, “Sure.”

“The women’s campus at Duke was 3 miles away from the men’s campus. We drove over and picked up my date first, then we went to pick up his date. When she came down the stairs, I took one look at her and said to myself, “Oh, my GOD, that’s the one I want!”

“The next morning I called her at 8:00, the earliest time you could call the women’s dorm, and I asked her out for a date that night. She said yes. And that was it. Neither one of us ever dated anyone else for the rest of our lives. She was 17 years old. My Peggy.”

Now wasn’t that a good story?



1 Comment

The Parents are Already Home

Mom and Dad at Mystic SeaportI had a wonderful visit with my parents this last week.  They arrived late due to a flight cancellation, so we ended up missing 1.5 days.  We didn’t have big sight-seeing things lined up, since we did so much on their last visit.  More of our time was spent catching up and talking about everything, having computer lessons, watching movies, and going over family genealogy (I’m the record keeper in the family).  Our biggest outing was to Mystic Seaport, which was celebrating an 1876 anniversary commemoration of the

We lived in New Jersey when I was growing up, and my mom grew up there as well.  We moved away in 1970, which is a really long time.  But Mom and Dad have stayed in touch with friends from their days there, and on this trip we visited with two of them – Phyllis from NJ (last seen 39 years ago) and JoAnn who was in K-12 with my mom (last seen 61 years ago).  It was fun to see them pick up almost as though they’d seen each other yesterday.

As for me, I always worry about managing my food when I have company.  I sometimes eat weirdo off-cycle meals, with bigger lunches than dinner, and I didn’t know how that would work with the parents here.  But it actually was fine.  I found my way to a Friday WW meeting, since the Saturday ones were cancelled because of the July 4th holiday, and that helped me reinforce eating carefully.  Which didn’t stop me from having a Friendly’s happy ending sundae when we went to Mystic on Saturday.  It was yummy but not as good as I remembered and I don’t really want another. That’s progress.

I was aware as we talked this weekend that I was probably more honest with my parents than I’d ever been about my weight and life as a fat person.  It wasn’t defensive or argument, just not hiding who I am anymore.  I told my mom when we went out to lunch and looked at eating on the patio, that I was afraid I would get stuck in the flimsy chair.  On another day, my worry that I wasn’t sure I could actually walk from the distant parking down to the dock where we’d hoped to get on a harbor cruise.  My honesty about how hard it was to find clothes that fit that I actually liked, and that I wouldn’t be wearing shorts out in public because my legs are so lumpy.

We also spent time talking about weight loss surgery.  My packet of information arrived from the surgeon’s office in response to my doctor’s referral.  I am to be assessed by a clinical nutritionist and a psychologist, and answer a long questionnaire from the surgeon.  I also picked up a copy of Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies (thanks, C, for the recommendation!) which will already be a good resource.  My parents are 100% behind me in making this choice and understand the need to lose weight before I can have the knee surgery I also need (Dad had a double-knee replacement 8 years ago so he really gets it).

When I got home from the airport after seeing the parents off, I ran around doing laundry, tidying up, changing the bed, paying bills, cuddling with Tessie.  Some of that was done through tears.  I never know when I see my parents if I will see them again.  I’m almost 55 years old and incredibly blessed to have both of them alive, active, healthy and aware.  But time marches on and I know there will come a time when I won’t have them to hold and love and support.  Now matters.  So do they.

1 Comment

Quick Vacation Check-in

My parents arrived at 6:30pm, a day and a half after their original schedule.  We had a nice visit in the car (they loved my new little Prius and I was shocked to find out that Dad thought I had a blue one) and a late dinner of Crockpot Salsa Chicken.  Yesterday was a lazy day with lots of visiting and a driving tour that included a stop at the Union Station, where  Dad got a dry run for today’s train trip to D.C.  Word is that he was reassured and found today easy.  Good thing, coz we could just drop him off and keep going.

Mom and I drove down to meet an old high school friend of hers that she hadn’t seen in 61 years.  They met each other in kindergarten, which kind of boggles my mind.  They reminisced and told stories and had a great time.  It was fun to watch them.

The kitty is still pretty spooked by the company, spending a lot of time under the bed or crouched in meatloaf position on the floor of the bedroom listening to voices and checking out the situation.  I hope she gets comfortable soon coz they’re dying to cuddle her and I need a pic of us together!

1 Comment

The Parents Have Airline Problems

The Maids Working InsideAlmost everything on my to-do list is done, except polishing a few silver pieces that came from Mom’s family.  Yesterday was very busy.  The Maids arrived as a team of 2 instead of 4 (people were sick) but they cleaned up a storm and everything looked and smelled fresh and beautiful.  I’d tidied everything in sight before they arrived, partly for them and mostly because my parents are coming and I want things to look uncluttered.   I might even be inspired enough to keep this up on my own for more than a week 🙂

After The Maids left, I did a run down Dixwell, ticking things off my list:  1. Get gas.  2. Carwash (which undoubtedly caused the torrential rain later).  3. Buy wine.  4. Stock up on groceries.   And after all of that, I did three loads of wash, leaving me clean towels, sheets and clothes.  Phew.

But then around 8pm, my mom called to say that the airline had cancelled their 6:30am flight and rebooked them on Sunday, putting them into Hartford at 5:45pm, almost 18 hours after their planned time.  I know they are upset and confused, but at least they weren’t stranded in an airport for days (visions of my Christmas trip delays at Newark Airport flashed through my head).  They can relax today and leave tomorrow at a humane time instead of having to wake up at4:30am.

AirplaneThe airline reassigned them to new flights but they don’t have seat assignments and were in a tizzy beccause online the seats showed as full.  At least I knew to tell them that seats are held back to be assigned at the airport, but I made some calls to American and confirmed some info, which I passed along, as well as the 800 number for customer support. I have it programmed into my phone and I’ll make sure Mom has it in her cell phone when she’s here (she hasn’t figured out programming in numbers yet).

So instead of having a packed morning ending with a run up to BDL to pick my parents and a full day with them tomorrow, I have today and most of tomorrow to myself.  Not what was planned but I can enjoy the very clean and tidy apartment and my kitty, who is mostly recovered from the trauma of having a team of loud people invade her little space.  Maybe I’ll throw in a trip to BJ’s which isn’t exactly a visitor’s destination, but fun for me.


Family Politics

My parents (and brother and sister-in-law, for that matter) are right-wing Texas Republicans and I am a liberal New England Democrat. We usually avoid discussing politics because I usually feel outnumbered and attacked, and out-gunned in the argument department. Well, my brother is a lawyer and they can be hard to argue with because they just like to argue.

It’s been interesting over the last year, though, to hear snippets of political opinions sandwiched in with our regular calls. Bush has cratered in their eyes as the war dragged on and the economy slid into recession, squeezing their retirement funds. They simply cannot stand Hillary and don’t trust Obama for all kinds of reasons, including that mud-slinging email making the rounds. While they don’t like McCain, they can’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat.

Tonight, though, I heard something different in their voices — a recognition that the world has changed in ways they don’t like or understand. Frustration that U.S. kids know less, study less, achieve less than students in countries that have been beneath our competition in the past, places like India and China. Sadness that McCain’s sacrifices in Vietnam are being discounted. Determination to sell off Exxon stock before the new administration penalizes the company and drives down the price. Uncertainty about the future and what it will be like for me and for their grandkids.

We will not agree on politics. They will vote for McCain and I will not. I might kill Hillary myself if she doesn’t bow out and let the Democrats start figuring out how to deal with the general election instead of the current madness. I’m already sick of all of it. There are big issues facing this country and the fears and concerns that bother my parents also bother me. Well, maybe not the Exxon stock one. I want to not fight a war or have an election that goes on for 2 years and just get on with addressing those issues. They’re not going away on their own.


One Simple Phone Call Changes Things

My Mom and DadAll it took was a phone call to change my mood and my focus.

I had an idea of what I was going to write about tonight – a conversation with a thin person on the bus about overeating at the holidays and being fat – but that all went out the window when my brother called.

My 77 year old mother had severe abdominal pains this afternoon and naturally (since she’s related to me) sat down at the computer to research it. She decided she had appendicitis so she and my dad went to the “doc in the box” clinic near their house where they were told that yes, she did indeed have acute appendicitis.

Mom went to the hospital in an ambulance while Dad went home to pick up some things for her and to call my brother before heading in to town to sit with her. Surgery will probably be tonight and if not, first thing in the morning. I’m not entirely sure what determines that, just that if the surgery is tonight, she may go home tomorrow. They certainly kick you out fast these days.

So instead of musing about food and points and the usual stuff about dealing with all of this during the holidays – I have something infinitely more important on my mind.

My mom has been living with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) for serveral years and her lungs are damaged, making it hard to breathe. She’s a tiny little person, very careful with her food and making an effort to exercise more, though it’s difficult with limited breath and stamina. But she seems frail to me and I worry about her and about Dad who adores her. They celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary last weekend.

I told my brother that I’d always expected that one day I would pick up the phone and it would be him on the other end, telling me something had happened to one of the parents. After all, he lives in Texas, too, and sees them far more often than I do. I just never thought he’d be telling me an appendectomy was in the cards.

I know that the odds are that she will be fine, that Dad will be a rock and take care of her and maybe cook more than hot dogs. She’s only had one major surgery in her adult life and that was a hip replacement 17 years ago, and before that one she gave him lessons on cooking and cleaning. He’s relapsed, though, and this time there was no advance warning or time to prepare.

They were scheduled to drive down to Houston on Sunday to spend Christmas with my brother and all the grandkids; they have all of my presents to bring down with them. Now, though, who knows. There are things a lot more important than presents.

Please say a prayer for my mom and dad.

1 Comment

Nursing My Sore Knee

Knee Cryo/cuff combines compression with coldThe Evil Princess of Exercise skipped out on water aerobics tonight. I’ve been doing a lot of walking, standing, and stairs in the last 2 weeks and my bad knee is very cranky, to the point that bending it hurts like hell and straightening it means that bending it later hurts more.

I decided that, although water exercise is the only realistic thing I can do, an hour of hopping around in a cold pool wasn’t going to cut it today. So I came home, popped an extra anti-inflammatory, and piled on the frozen peas. And ordered myself a heating pad that plugs into the car lighter so I can warm up the knee while parked outside the gym before going in for a workout.

When I finish this post, I’m going to dig into my files and find my post-op exercises and start working them again. I’ve lost range of motion since the surgery – I can’t do much of anything on the recumbent bike or bend it as much – and I want to be sure I don’t lose more.

My dad commented when he was here and walking behind me at one point that I walk the way he did before he had his knee replacements. This isn’t a good thing and although I knew I was kind of lurching around some of the time, I hadn’t realized that everyone else was seeing it, too. Which is pretty silly when you think about it.

I had a great visit with my parents, who went back to Texas yesterday. I’m not sure what we’ll do the next time, because we did everything! Art and natural history museums, walks around Yale and downtown, trips to Mystic Seaport and Litchfield and East Rock Park, and Sunday’s steam train/riverboat trip on the Connecticut River. We had great weather and easy travel, and my new blow up aerobed worked out beautifully.

It gave me great pleasure to do all the cooking and give my mom a little vacation, although it was weird to not have leftovers. Cooking for three is different than cooking for one person who doesn’t care if the separate parts are ready at the same time. We ate fairly simple food (meat, vegetable, potato) with light-dessert most days. My mom rarely snacks while my dad demolished my box of Healthy Choice fudge bars. I was somewhere in the middle and felt pretty snack-deprived, although I wasn’t really all that hungry. It was the habit of them, I think, that I missed.

Now the house is quiet except for the sound of rain outside. I’m home alone with my sore knee and the frozen peas and the time to think about who and what really matters.