Things Worth Writing About...

Forgotten people...Like Bobby the man who sits in a corner of his room at the nursing home, so slumped with defeat his body has grown into the shape of a fat comma. Behind him, on his bedside table, is an 8 x 10 portrait of himself back in the days when he still had hope.  In that picture he's leaning in toward the viewer, smiling all the way up to his eyes. When I look at the man he's become, all I get is a quirked eyebrow, a short, sarcastic nod toward the young boy in the photograph and a shrug.

Or Annie, pulling herself around the nursing home in a wheelchair, muttering to herself words I can't understand and moaning softly. But when I come up behind her, slip my arms around her neck and lean in to hug her, she laughs like a delighted five-year-old. "Let's blow this popstand," I whisper. "Uh-huh, let's do that!" She says, knowing neither one of us is going anywhere.

Or Faye, Belle's former roommate. She's got six kids, all frequent visitors, all promising she'll be going home soon, then telling the social worker they just can't tell her the truth...that no one's coming, that revisions to her home aren't so it will be wheelchair friendly but more livable for the members of the family hoping to move in.  Somewhere down inside her ample soul, Faye knows this. The weight of their betrayal pulls her sideways in her chair and pins the stroke-paralyzed side of her body against the uncomfortable metal armrest.  "Hey, Baby Girl," she says. "I been lookin' for you all day. How you doin'?"

I like the losers, the disenfranchised, the hurt and angry underdogs.  Maybe because I've always felt just a little out of place and uncomfortable in my own skin.

That's why I like the Pirate who lives down the alley from me. Mad as hell at the Historical Commission, angry with the cops and college students, gentle with his five year old daughter, mouthing the obscene words he hurls so she won't hear him spouting his irate truths.

I like the crack whore and her boyfriend, the way she tries to hard to befriend my dogs, trying to reassure them when she and her man suddenly spring out into the alleyway fresh from using or whatever it is they've been doing behind the dumpster.

And I dislike the moralistic, self-righteous do-gooders who claim they're only in it for peace, harmony and justice.  I dislike them intensely.  It's easy to hide behind the shield of piety.  It's easy to preach forgiveness.  It's rolling around in the trenches and having your ass handed to you a few times that teaches life's true lessons.  But as usual, I digress...

Writing Blocked

I'm blocked. Have been for too long to say. But I'm trying.  A few measly paragraphs.  Does it hook? Feedback anyone?

            I used to be normal, just like you.  Then one day I woke up and realized my kids had left home, my husband had traded me in on a newer model and I was now standing on the edge of a cliff called “The Rest of Your Life.”  
Shortly after that, due to a misprint on Craigslist and short bidding window, I became the proud new owner of a house on Tate Street.  A sweet, yellow, Dutch Colonial overlooking the college campus, right in the heart of the funky, downtown district.  I felt like I’d rediscovered the hippy girl I used to be-only a bit older and wiser.  Or so I thought.
            That was before I arrived home one day and found the Pirate’s dog leering at me through a gap in my own privacy fence.  I didn’t know it then but Fate was about to teach me a very valuable lesson-there are no U-turns on Life’s Highway.  


Goodbye, Belle

Today I said goodbye to Belle, my patient from the nursing home.  For the past 4 years I've spent a portion of almost every Tuesday with her but her funeral made me realize something- I knew a very small part of her.  In fact, it's that way with all of my patients.  I come in right before they go out.

I get to know and love people who most often no longer resemble the person their families and friends knew and loved...or in some cases, despised.  I walk in when almost everyone else has walked out.

Is this the carcass of life then? The last dregs? Or is it, as I've come to view it, the reduction of a person down to their very most basic essence? It is hard to be funny and wise when you're in pain, or suffering from dementia, but I find this in almost every single person I meet.

Belle was spoiled by her husband and when he died, I learned, became clingy and needy but also feisty and full of ribald jokes.  When I came along, she was going deaf.  She grieved for her home and husband. Couldn't understand why her friends and family had seemed to desert her. And eventually, she invented two new friends who stood by her until the end.

I miss the woman I never knew and treasure the friend I made during Belle's last few years. I will miss her.


I'm back....again! Bet you forgot what I even look like, it's been that long, huh?

 It's been a time of transition around here. For one thing, I've said goodbye to my sanctuary of the past five years, the Little Cabin in the Hollar. It was a hard decision but one born of necessity. It was time to make changes big and little in my life and in order to do so, I had to say goodbye to my little farm.

There have been many goodbyes and changes, some painful and a few hopeful. I live in-town now, surrounded by the vibrance of UNCG's college life, in an elderly Dutch Colonial that had been sorely abused by renters. With a little effort and elbow grease, it's coming back to life.

Still, even this new home may turn out to be temporary as it seems the winds of change aren't quite finished with me yet. That's all right because I have my eye on another battered gem a short distance away.

After all, houses are only brick and wood.  It takes family and friends to truly make a home. My hooligan boys are still as strong and present in my life as ever, although even our family's configuration is changing...for the better.  The Eldest Unnamed One will be getting married in April.  And the Youngest graduates from UNC and will be heading off to make his fortune in the Big City.

My dear, sweet lady in the nursing home, Belle, enjoyed one last wonderful Christmas, thanks to my cousin Omar and his wife's donation of a big, fancy wreath for her door.  Last week, after a battle with pneumonia, Belle died in hospice.  Her funeral is tomorrow, on Dad's birthday. Somehow this seems fitting.

There have been many sorrows these past six months, much grieving and loss. But it's almost Spring and I feel the beginnings of new possibilities.  The scent of Hope is in the air.

Some things remain the same and for those, as always, I am very thankful...

I'll try to be here more often...with tales from my new life in the "city."  Maybe I'll tell you about the Pirate Dog and his wild-eyed owner who live down the alley...He's not the Moonshiner but he's just as much of a character.