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Everything posted by Clematis

  1. We met at the synagogue. She is actually the current president of the board and was being very careful about not stepping out of bounds, while I was cautious in my own way. So we knew and were watching each other with some interest from opposite sides of the synagogue for about a year and a half. After the pandemic got going we started talking on the phone a LOT and things progressed rather quickly.
  2. The most amazing development has occurred in my life. I have fallen in love and am getting married next Tuesday, June 23 around sunset. Due to the pandemic restrictions, it will be a tiny Jewish wedding on a patio of the house we now share, with only the two of us, the Rabbi and her husband, and a close friend who is a fabulous baker and cook as well as a photographer. His wife is a person who can do anything, and will serve as our matron of honor. My beloved is named Helen and she is the cat's meow. We have been floating in a lagoon of bliss, and the better we get to know each other the more we discover that we have in common, and we are equally ecstatic as we anticipate a future together.
  3. Thank you. He was a wonderful person who touched the lives of a lot of people.
  4. I haven't been on the site for a while. It's been a brutal school year for work. Then, I went back to visit my sisters and attend a professional conference in February, and as soon as I was starting to get my feet back under me the world as we knew if dissolved and things seem in free fall. People are grieving things they never imagined a person could grieve, such as going to the grocery store and walking around anywhere you wanted in there. It seems to me that the world has turned into a pool of grief that surrounds everything and everyone. People are so immersed in grieving they don't even focus on it, like people don't talk about being wet in a swimming pool. Grief is everywhere and everything
  5. Thank you. I have missed him already as he has declined from dementia, but now he really is gone. I have heard it said that eventually we will all know someone who has died of COVID-19. I thought it for me it would be likely to be someone I knew, but barely. To lose Herb like this is really painful, especially since he died alone and none of us could go to be with him at the end or even to be together afterwards. Everyone who loved Herb is alone or in their little groups scattered all over. I know that this is what is going on all over the world, but I never anticipated that it would hit so close to me. This is my second family. The world is a darker place now.
  6. Thank you. It really is a loss. Grief is strange. I haven't actually seen Herb in several years, and he left us gradually over a period that lasted for years, but somehow it was different when he was still living and breathing. Death is so final...
  7. Herb died last night. I'm not sure what to even call him. He was my Jewish father, the man who taught me what it meant to be culturally Jewish. He was my adopted and surrogate father, the man who was always there for me and the rest of the family, even in the days when I had minimal contact with my family of origin. Herb was amazing and it seemed like he knew everything and how to do anything. He taught physics at Occidental College in L.A. for many years, and before that taught all of the math and science courses at Deep Springs College, in Big Pine, CA, a two year college where students attend college courses while also learning how to run a working ranch. Not only was he able to teach any college course in math or science, he could have taught world history or photography, or a host of other subjects. He had a great sense of humor, played the guitar and could sing or talk in Yiddish, Spanish, and several other languages. He could design or repair anything, and had creative and sometimes bizarre - but workable - solutions for anything and everything. You could call him or sit down with him and pose some question, and he would launch forth on a lecture of close to an hour with entirely information that he pulled out of his vast memory. He was a true mensch and loved his family and friends, of which he had many. He was a humanitarian and a feminist; there was nothing about him that was sexist, racist, agist, or prejudiced in any way. He was kind and generous, and the smartest person I have only known. He is a lost to the world, and most especially to those close to him. I have tons of pictures of him explaining something to his daughter, his niece, to me, or someone, gesturing with his hands and talking with intensity. That seems like ages ago and like yesterday. Herb had been declining for several years from dementia and the person that I knew 25 years ago has been mostly gone for a while. Ten years ago he would say he couldn't rememberer all of the details about some thing you had asked him about. Four years ago he stopped driving from Pasadena to Sedona because he was relying on his wife's memory for driving. Two years he could no longer read a clock, but could carry on a basic conversation and remembered the people who were close to him. A year ago he was moved to a memory care unit, but was still under the same roof as the independent living apartment his wife lived in. Six months ago he spent his life facing the door waiting for her visits twice a day. Two months ago his wife suffered a major and then a minor stroke. One month ago, their daughters coaxed his wife out of Pasadena to go live in Oakland with the younger daughter, because they were terrified that they were going to lose both parents. A week or two ago he tested positive for Coronavirus and was placed on Hospice care. And now Herb is gone. He had some FaceTime sessions with family during his last days as he was slipping in and out of consciousness. He has been slipping away from us for years, but there is a terrible finality to his actual death. The world is not the same place without Herb in it.
  8. Oh yeah - Lena was quite the vocalist, from the very getgo, which is how she got her name. They were calling her Mena, which I thought was a terrible name, but they said that she answered to it. I figured that to name her after Lena Horne would be perfect for such a beautiful black feline as my furry darling. And she sure grew into her name as she went on from a YouTube star to the big screen. I later realized I could have named her anything and she would have figured it out quickly. How is your puppy doing? Can I see a picture?
  9. Now we're all slogging through this pandemic. It's so weird to wake up to a new world every morning. I'm guessing my dad is glad he doesn't have to deal with this. But what I hear from him is rather calming...I hear him telling me to be careful with my money, be careful on the ladder, watch out not to fall, etc. My roof was leaking and it was raining almost every day. The roofer came to patch it up in between storms and eventually really fixed it. The problem dated back to the HOA taking all of the tiles off the back half of my building and replacing it with a very poorly put together roof 10 years ago. I was on the HOA board at the time and argued against it. It seemed like a bad idea to replace a perfectly good roof with one that could be shoddy. They told me I was crazy, because I would have a new roof. The prop mgr and rest of the board all voted against me, but they were wrong and this is my second related leak. I was up and down the ladder wearing a raincoat and using puppy pads and warming lights to dry things, and everything else I could think of for ten days, but thanks to focused perseverance and a lot of puppy pads, it stayed dry enough to not mold. Today my friend Greg came down and helped me cut drywall and insulation for the hatch so that I don't have a gaping hole into the attic. It was really drafty in here for awhile. I would start getting a sore throat and think I had COVID-19, and then realize I had been up there with all that fiberglass and forgotten my mask. I have been pretty busy with the leak and working on how to get some food going out back in my tiny back yard so I don't starve if there is a big lockdown. Meanwhile, my income has totally dried up, but I have been too tired to panic. I'm trying really hard to get 8 hours of sleep every night. But then, suddenly the district in Alaska wants me to work with the kids at home via the internet or by phone if they don't have the internet. This is good. They are also working on getting more schools to do distance therapy and psychoeducational evaluations. That is good too. Tomorrow I'm off to the greenhouse first thing to get some more little plants to get in the back yard. A neighbor asked me if this green thumb and reaction to a problem by growing some food was something I inherited from my dad. First I said no, then realized it was absolutely what he would have done in this situation. Get the roofer going, do everything possible to keep the inside from getting moldy, keep scanning the horizon for work, shifting gears or direction if necessary, going for walks in the sunshine, and engineering a garden to maximize the potential to grow some food. I sure wish he was here, but in a way he is here because he is part of me. And I have Lena. I am revamping her training so that she is more active in participating in her new role as a teletherapy cat, getting her to talk on the phone more consistently. People love talking to a cat who talks back over the phone. Or the internet...
  10. It is so sad to lose a beloved pet, and to lose one with whom you grew up with must be especially hard, because he was always there for you. I feel for you.
  11. It's hard to help children with grief, I think, because it's hard to know what they are thinking. I have added an LCSW license in Alaska to my repertoire and am counseling over the internet with students on the Bering Strait of Alaska. These kids have been through so much, sometimes it's hard to know what to think or say to help them. I sure hope I can help them, because they have been through so much and had so much loss. One of my students is nine and in the third grade. I saw him last Friday and he as full of plans for his beloved bunny rabbits - his two pets - and how he planned to build them a hutch in the summer so that they could enjoy the outdoors but be protected. Wednesday he told me, "My bunny rabbits died." I was asking him what happened and kind of imagining something really terrible, but what he said was in a way, worse. He said that he thought they had died from not enough water because he noticed that their water bottle had run dry. He feels responsible for his pets' death, and it is heartbreaking. He said he figured he would never again have a pet like that again. Maybe a hermit crab, he said. There is nothing like a fluffy fur baby. I think it's really unrealistic to give a nine-year-old sole responsibility for any pet because they are children. Good for them to do the tasks, but someone should be looking over their shoulder, I think. I was working on doing origami foxes with some of the students that day, but the book also had a rabbit design. He said he would really like to learn how to fold a bunny rabbit because it might help him feel a little better. We had a little trouble because it's harder than the fox, and the rabbits didn't come out right. I promised that by Friday I would have figured it out and we would fold bunny rabbits. I emailed his teacher the directions so that he and I could both study the directions and be successful with our bunny rabbits tomorrow. They are looking good, but helping a child with this kind of thing when I can reach my hand out to assist is a new challenge. Here you can see Lena reviewing them. I introduce her as "my assistant". She is now a virtual therapy cat and comes onscreen to say hello and have a bite of chicken or shrimp. I'm not sure if it helps to have a therapy cat online, but they have a counselor who's online, and they seem to really love seeing her. You can also see my online setup on the other picture. One of my students is on the Autism Spectrum and very concrete. He is convinced that I must be in China, due to the screen. I keep explaining about how I am in Arizona and kind of near the Grand Canyon, but he's not sure about that.
  12. That is really terrific, Kay!
  13. Kay, I am so happy to hear that you have a puppy and are enjoying him. No one will ever be able to replace our lost loved ones, but there are others with whom we can share our lives. I can't imagine ever losing Lena, but I know that I am likely to live longer than she. As much as I fear having to one day live without her, it is more unimaginable to contemplate living without a cat. I lived through fifteen pet-less years due to allergies and asthma that worsened through the years in a big polluted city. After moving to a place with clean air, I was ecstatic to find Lena and learn that I would be able to live with a cat again. I wanted to share her with the world, and in a way I have. I am happy and grateful every day that I have her. The last thing I do every night is to have a snuggle-purr fest with her, and say to her, "Thank you for being my kitty." I hope she lives a long time and no cat could ever replace her. On the other hand, it is worse to have no pet.
  14. That is so sad! It is so hard to lose a pet, and that was so sudden! I feel for you.
  15. Awww...that is very sad. It is really hard to lose pets. They can be such fabulous friends, and it's really heart-wrenching to lose them. It's hard to not blame yourself or wonder what else you might have done. They just don't have a good way to tell us when something is wrong. Cats are even worse in this than dogs - they are masters al looking their best no matter how sick they are. Twelve years is a long time to have a friend and lose him...
  16. It sounds really hard to lose all of that. It's hard to find new relationships, it takes work and luck, and the people that are gone cannot be replaced. The older we get, the more people we lose, and the really long-standing relationships cannot be recreated or replaced. You may be able to find companionship but it's not the same. Also, everyone else is having the same situation and you may form new relationships with people who suddenly move across the country to wive with or near their kids. You can't really blame them, but still it's another abandonment and another loss...
  17. Yeah, it really has been four years. Sometimes is seems like yesterday and sometimes it seems like forever since my dad was alive. I miss him every day. I have spent a good deal of my adult life living alone, but was mostly in a place where there was more going on and I was more connected than I am here in small town Sedona. I moved here in 2005, shortly after my mother died, and it wasn't much later that my dad began making plans to move here. All during that year we were in close contact, talking on the phone every day and planning for the future. I don't think either of us thought we'd have ten years together. Ten years is a good chunk of one's life, but sometimes it seems like a blip. Nevertheless, during those years it seemed like the luxury of an eternity because that was my life. It was really dandy to always have someone with whom to spend holidays, weekends, evenings, and so on, and to always have someone who was interested in hearing every little detail of my life that I wanted to talk about. Anything that happened - good or bad - I had a willing ear and a supportive listener. He was always in my corner and he always had my back. Now I have Lena. I don't know how I could have gotten through the past years without her, but it's been hard. You know what I mean. Yeah, I think sometimes it's better to stay home. I have had some really bad food on Thanksgivings and other holidays, but it's the company that really matters. Those dinners with my dad generally featured really awful food because I was too overwhelmed to prepare much and it seemed like too much to go somewhere nice. So we'd go to the Elks club or to the Sizzler, and the food wasn't worth talking about. But my dad and I were together and that made it all OK. I have been feeling really flattened. I thought it was related to the holidays or to being so tired after writing so many reports. But last night when it was so cold it really struck me that it's getting really close to his Yartzheit and the anniversary of his death. I suppose it's really a season of grief that one has...
  18. Christmas was kind of similar, but I had a short conversation with my sisters. Christmas eve I went to a friend's house for dinner and that was very nice. I spent most of the day on Christmas working on reports at my house, and whatever I ate was less memorable than the shrimp and licorice of Thanksgiving. I have been working like a maniac this fall, and am wrapping up what will be a total of 63 psychoeducaitonal evaluations for the fall. I am really tired. When I go back to school for the next semester I will be totally caught up on the reports - and actually be ahead. I will not be doing anywhere as many evaluations in the spring, and it looks like I will be doing counseling in the spring as well, and not just evaluations. I am getting licensed in Alaska. Alaska!!! I will be working with kids on the Bering Strait School District, over the internet from Arizona! Is that cool, or what! Tonight, I feel like I might as well be in Alaska because it is so cold. I remember how cold it was when my dad died...I walked back and forth from his empty house where I was living (but he was not) to my own empty house (because I was actually living at my dad's house), and the whole world seemed so cold and empty and lonesome. That's how it feels here tonight, and it seems like I have been thrown back into four years ago, when we were sliding into his last few weeks of life and then the cold just lingered forever.
  19. I had a strange Thanksgiving...I was going to spend it with my neighbor who is becoming more demented and has home health care since in early November she had 4 E.R. visits in 6 days and spent of those nights in the E.R. not admitted, but "on hold". She had Pi-itis, which is what you get when you eat too much pie - especially if you are a diabetic who is gluten sensitive. Anyway, in spite of the Pi-itis, she was set on having Thanksgiving dinner with me there. I was trotting back and forth from my condo to hers fetching things and getting organized. I came back once to find her throwing up into one of the cloth napkins I had put on the table the trip before, and wadding it up (so I wouldn't notice?) She had no idea how long it had been since she took the Schwan's foods out of the freezer and I was afraid I was going to get food poisoning, but she was set on having this stuff from Schwan's, and it was Thanksgiving, after all. I had to cook it, since she was impaired. I cooked it and ate a couple of bites, but mostly sat with her and hoped she wouldn't throw up any more. After awhile, I went home, to escape the whole mess, but there I was, hungry on Thanksgiving. I had shrimp cocktail for dinner, followed by black licorice. The best part is that I had zero contact with either of my sisters or anyone else in my family.
  20. Thursday was my dad’s birthday and my younger sister sent me this picture of daddy and me. I had forgotten about this day, when it was taken. It was almost 20 years ago and I was going back east at Christmas. It was months ahead of time I told my dad I wanted to do something with him – just the two of us – because I couldn’t remember any time we had ever done something special together. I thought it would be helpful in building a relationship and getting beyond things in the past. My mother thought it was kind of strange, and thought we should all go on this adventure. My sisters were obviously envious, but I told them they could do that anytime they wanted since they lived an hour away if they chose to do so. My dad took it seriously and decided we should go to the Ice Capades together. We drove to downtown Philly, and had a nice time. It was the beginning of a friendship between two adults and begin to lay the groundwork for him eventually moving out here after my mother died, and spending his last 10 years with me. I love this photo - we both look really happy and he looks proud of me.
  21. I think you showed remarkable sensitivity and restraint in taking her aside, rather than snapping out something on the spot. How are you doing? I haven't been online for awhile since I have been working like a dog. A hard-working dog, not one of those layabouts...
  22. Last Friday night I drove the Mercury to the synagogue and several times someone asked me how I was. I said I was fine except a little sad because I was about to sell my dad's car and it was my last night with Bob, the car. One after one they explained to me how I should feel - happy to getting rid of an old car like that. Immediately after selling the car, I walked into Whole Foods on my carless walk home (good to get a little exercise), and ran into another close acquaintance. Same conversation. How can people be so dense? I held my ground but didn't slap any of them. One of them told me about how someone in their family had gotten rid of a loved one's possessions in a flash, and described this like it was a badge of honor to be free of sentimentality. It is such a personal thing - people need to be able to work through this on their own with compassion and without pressure.
  23. I sold my dad's Mercury Grand Marquis today. I just don't have room for two cars at my condo, and I don't really need an extra car. I just loved having it and feeling as if my dad was driving me around. I was more interested in rehoming the car to someone who would love and appreciate this car that was loved by me and my family for 26 years. I was able to interview prospective buyers and find someone who was looking for a car like this and was very excited about getting it. Also, this guy's name was Charlie, like my dad. That was cool. But I feel crushed about having let go of his car, even though it was the obvious thing to do. Tonight I wrote the following for my Memoir Writing course. Summary: Grief is such a trip. So much commonality from one person to another and yet every experience of grief is unique. It can seem like you are lost out on the ocean with no life raft in a high gale. Everyone around is an expert ready to tell you how you should feel and what is really going on. Why were none of these people in my life willing to listen to my own experience? I know how I feel and don’t need anyone to explain to me how I should feel. Possibly the most annoying of all my early grief bystanders was my dad’s neighbor Mimi. It would seem like I should have been able to find some comfort in her presence, and to talk to her about her experience of having lived next door to my dad for ten years. When my dad was well, Mimi and I got along well. It wasn’t until he was near the end and after the end of his life that I felt the urge to slap her into oblivion. My dad lived very close to me for the last ten years of his life, after my mother died. Over those ten years we became closer and more dependent on each other in different ways. I tried desperately to save him in so many ways, and watched helplessly as he repeatedly got worse, and then better, but never quite as well as before. Toward his end, my life was a frenzy of racing in and out of his house, my house, and the hospital like a revolving door, fetching things for him and trying to keep my own life from falling apart. Scene: One day In his last December I parked right behind my dad's car in front of his condo, and was headed for his door, but there she was - my dad’s neighbor Mimi. “How’s your dad doing?” I really didn’t have time for this but, “Well, he fell in the kitchen and got a stress fracture in his lumbar vertebrae, and he’s in the rehab hospital for two or three weeks.” “Well this is near the end. He’s not ever coming back.” “How could you possibly know that? His doctor says after the therapy at this hospital, he’ll be stronger than he’s been for years!” “No, he’s headed downhill. I saw the same thing happen with my dad. This is exactly the same.” “No, Mimi, this is not the same. My dad and your dad are not the same person. If they were, we would be sisters and we are not!” I turned from her and rushed through his door, slamming the security door on my thumb. Dang! The bruise took weeks to emerge from under my cuticle and I watched it creep along my nail bed during the months after my dad’s death. Another day not much later, I was fleeing into his house and there was Mimi, “How are you doing?” I don’t know what I said – probably not much because I couldn’t stop crying. But as usual she had plenty to say. “You know, your dad is out of pain now. He’s in a better place now.” Better off dead than alive with me? Huh. I tried to control myself, but couldn’t really. “How could you possibly know anything about his pain? Or know where he is? Have you got his address at this new place?” A brief startle, then a smirk from her, “Oh yes, he’s living at 100 Heavenly Way.” I turned and headed for the door of his empty condo. Better to hide than to slap her. This time I avoided slamming my hand in the door.
  24. I am taking a class this semester on memoir writing and I wrote what is below. The assignment was to write about an interaction with another person from our past, and then the same interaction from another person's perspective. How could I know it would be the last day of my dad’s life? His doctor referred him to the rehab hospital for three weeks, after which he would be stronger than he had been in years. Yes! Watching him decline had been agonizing and I was SO relieved. But after a week in the hospital, the staff summoned me for a “family meeting”. I had no idea what this meant and negotiated over the timing of the meeting, wanting to go to the pool on the way. They were very accommodating and kind to me. I was ushered into a conference room; around the table sat all of his therapists, the head nurse, and several administrators. They gestured to an empty chair at the table next to my dad slumped in a wheelchair. My mind whirled as I grappled with what they were telling me – what was the real agenda for this meeting? Gradually it consolidated into a pattern. They were telling me that he wasn’t doing well and they planned to discharge him after only ten days. They were giving up on him. One therapist told of picking him up for his therapy as he clutched the curtains around his bed in an attempt to keep them from dragging him away from the bed. How could this be? I looked at my dad, who had gone from looking somewhat embarrassed to looking very asleep. How could he sleep through this? What was I supposed to do without him? They suggested I think about it for a day or two. Today I watched Laura clean out my old Mercury and delve through the deep abyss of its trunk. She seems finally ready to sell it. It has been hard watching her sift through all of my old possessions, and along with it sift through the past. I tried to keep her company and advise her, as I do every day since my body’s death. It has been more than three years since I was forced away from her, but even in death I do what I can to help and stand by. Time is relative – especially for me. It won’t be that long before we are both in this form. I am grateful that she can hear me talking to her, but it doesn’t really resolve anything. She still grieves. In addition to practical advise about tires and money and whatnot, I’ve told her so many times, “I am SO sorry to have left you. I just couldn’t do it anymore.” I remember that day at the conference table. She thought I would recover and we would have more years of fun together, but after decades struggling with Parkinson’s I woke up every day exhausted. I knew how badly she wanted me to get stronger, and I couldn’t bear to tell her that I didn’t have it in me anymore. So there we sat with all those donkeys at that enormous table as they avoided telling her directly what they and I already knew. I was about to move on.
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