Happy Nurturing Day

It’s Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate mothers. They raised us, provided solace and support and were always there when we needed them. Even mothers who have left this earthly realm still have influence in our lives. I love my mom and I miss her every day (note present tense; just because my mom’s not here doesn’t mean I stop loving her). Today, I celebrate her and all other nurturers.

mom1959

(wee me with my exhausted mom)

There are more mothers out there than are celebrated today. The commom definition of “mother” is “a female parent.” Another more important one is “providing parental stock, without reference to sex.” Today, I celebrate people who are in nurturing roles.

(my youngest's furry child)

(my youngest’s furry child)

Mothering is caring for another. We all nurture someone, something. It may be a child, it may be a pet or a plant, it may be a friend. It may even be a car (yeah, I’ve known guys who loved their cars more than anyone else, lol). In that sense, everyone is entitled to celebrate today.

To all of you who care for a loved one, whether it’s your human child or furry one, whether it’s your plant or car, Happy Nurturing Day!

(Part two will be on Father’s Day 🙂 )

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Ashes to Ashes, But Not on Me

While my daughter was down to see me, she wanted to scatter her late husband’s ashes at a place he enjoyed. He grew up in the Deep South, home to swamps and marshes, alligators and snakes. One of the places he liked was Bayou Manchac.

My family is unconventional. We’re also spur-of-the-moment. After we ate supper, my daughter decided this was the time to do it. At ten o’clock at night. In Manchac. On the swamp.

Ten PM driving down a deserted two-lane road to the boat launch at Ruddock. Now, the only reasons anyone would be at the boat launch is they either had to pee, wanted to make out, or get rid of a body. My daughter added another reason this night.

ruddock3

(Imagine this on a pitch-dark night with swamp noises all around)

To add to the excitement and terror, when we exited the interstate, some guy followed us. We pulled into Middendorf’s because a police car was there. Our stalker pulled in beside us and, because of the looks of fear on our faces, he started making “it’s okay” hand motions. Yeah, I’m sure most serial killers do the same thing.

We took off back toward home but turned around because my daughter really wanted to do this tribute to her late husband. Now, Manchac and Ruddock in the daytime are spooky. They’re isolated areas surrounded by greenish-black swamp water and still, dank air. At night, the eerieness increases tenfold.

When we pulled up to the boat launch, I told her I would wait in the car because the thought of scattering ashes creeps me out and the swamp sounds and isolation were scaring the beejeesus out of me. Later she told me I was a contradiciton, since I myself want to be cremated. I told her when my time comes, I’ll be past the point of caring but right now I don’t want my living body covered by the dead.

But, back to story. At the boat launch. I stayed in the car and watched as my daughter scattered my son-in-law’s ashes across the water. In the windless night, they were gently settling into the calm swamp – except, from my point of view, my daughter was about to be awash in her deceased husbands ashes.

I couldn’t get the window down to warn her, so I jumped of the car and yelled, “You’re about to be ashed!” Right when I did, the ashes turned and came at me like a charging bull. I’m not sure what sounds I was making, but I think it went like, “Akk! Whaaaaa! They’re coming! Oh, (explicit)!” and I jumped back in the car and watched as the ashes crossed in front of the headlights.

ashes1

I was in 100% freakout mode. All I could think of was my son-in-law was laughing so hard, he was shaking heaven.

From the safety of the car, I watched my daughter stand with her head bowed. I knew she was reverently respecting the moment and possibly talking to her late husband. As I watched, I caught sight of lights. For a split-second, I thought, heavenly? But, no, it turned out to be halogen.

Once more, I jumped out of the car (thankfully, the ashes had disbursed). “Get in, hurry up, someone’s coming!” I yelled. Honestly, I don’t know if scattering ashes is littering, but I didn’t want us to take the chance of a ticket. I also didn’t want us to be sitting ducks for a serial killer. After all, we were in an area known as a body dump.

For a good portion of the way home, we were laughing so hard we almost peed ourselves. This was the ultimate Donald “gotcha” moment. We heard his laughter, we knew he was telling everyone up there about our Keystone Cops moments (well, mostly mine) and we knew this was the perfect tribute for him from his quirky family.

Donald, we love you and miss you, but your spirit will always be with us, jokes, pranks, tricks and all 🙂

Posted in honoring the dead, Mourning, ruddock | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What My Son-in-Law Taught Me

Donald is my son-in-law. He has been in my life since the early 90’s when he dated and married my oldest daughter. He became a brother to his younger sister-in-laws and a son to me. Opinionated (and usually correct in his opinions), gruff on the outside (but gentle and kind on the inside) and always willing to help others in need (lives were changed for the better because of him) – that is the sum of Donald.

  1. “Ma, I take it a minute at a time”

Not an hour or a day or a week at a time; a minute at a time. Each minute counts and each minute we live is different from the minute before and the minute after. A lot can happen within a minute. Lives can change, the world can change.

Donald lived knowing that any minute could be his last. He lived. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted and he lived this way for as long as his declining health allowed him. He did as much as he could with his wife, children and grandchild, and even when the pain would have made a lesser person crawl into a ball and cry, he kept going.

The Lesson: Live life in each minute.

  1. “I’ll do whatever I have to, Ma, and if it means dialysis for twenty years, that’s twenty years. This is my job – staying alive”

Diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in 2005, he took each minute as another minute he had been blessed with life. It was hard for him to remain still for so many hours on dialysis. As an active man, he had to readjust his life so he could live for his wife and children and grandchild.

The past few years he was hospitalized more often than before as more and more of his body took the hard hits from dialysis and failed kidneys. But, even when we thought he would not come out of the hospital, he always surprised us and was back on his feet and ready to live for us.

The Lesson: Live not for yourself, but for others.

  1. “It’s hard, Ma. Sometimes I want to give up, but then I think about my girls”

There is a critical point in everyone’s life when you want to throw in the towel. After being rejected for a kidney transplant in 2014, Donald hit that critical point.

But, he kept going. His main job was to stay alive for his family. Even as his heart started to show the effects of kidney disease and dialysis, he kept on going. Even when the pain made him want to end it all, he pushed past it and continued to live.

The Lesson: Life is filled with devastating potholes – when you slip into one, focus on the people who will help you climb up.

  1. “It’s all good, Ma. It’s all good”

Each night we go to sleep and expect to wake with the morning light. February 4th, 2015, was no different.

My daughter was in the hospital recovering from surgery and I was staying at her house for the week to help her and my son-in-law out. The night had been restless for me and I was ready to get up when the sun started to rise.

The kitchen light was off. There was no coffee brewing. The stillness was too still and like a punch, I felt a terrible wrongness.

The moment I found Donald in his final rest plays over and over in my mind every day. So perfectly still, so perfectly peaceful, so perfectly at rest. No more pain, no more discomfort, no more fear.

At the age of forty, his heart had stopped. He had taken one breath in and let one last breath out.

He was finally free.

The Lesson: Death is the beginning.

13a

It’s been one month since Donald passed away. It feels like it’s only been a few days. Our reality has shifted and filled with thoughts of It’s not fair and This can’t be real. We cry every day for the loss of his presence in this world.

I believe in life after death. So did Donald. He was ready to fearlessly step through the doorway to Heaven. “When God calls me, that’s when I’ll go,” he would tell me during several of our phone calls over the last few years.

Others have different beliefs. Some believe in a collective consciousness after death, some believe in dark nothingness. The one thing we can all agree on is we bring back those who have passed by remembering them. Death cannot take our memories away. Our loved ones live again in our thoughts. They live when we talk about them to others. They live forever in our hearts.

Every so often, I hear Donald’s voice in my mind telling me that now, right now, at this very moment in time, for me, for him, for our families, “It’s all good, Ma. It’s all good.”

Posted in death, grief, life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Noble Art of Letting Go or The Sad Moment When I Realized I Have Limitations

In my ongoing quest for the Holy Grail Job, I landed an interview, job offer and took it. Desperation breeds dysfunctional mind behavior because I was so relieved to finally meet a recruiter face-to-face that I accepted a job without thinking it through.

The Nitty Gritty:

1. The job was out in the middle of nowhere. Now, middle of nowhere in Louisiana can range from quaint to quickly-drive-through-and-stop-for-nothing. Unfortunately, this job was located in the latter, a throwback town where the one horse had left long ago. It had a gas station, a store, a car repair shed and one church. The nearest anything else was twenty miles away.

2. I was excited to finally land a job after submitting so many applications. Work consisted of constant movement (good for me), constant interaction with customers (another unexpected good for me), and constant stocking, restocking, and recovery (one more good for me – I thrive on organization).

3. I didn’t ask enough of the right questions at the interview. This was my mistake. Crazy hours I could handle. Pushing a three-hundred pound roller of water from outside to inside was my undoing (and my back’s undoing). I am fifty-five years old. I weigh 12o (add 10 pounds to that because I’m a woman and we lie within 10-2o pounds of our actual weight). I have age-related back problems. The next day after that mammoth push, it took me thirty minutes to gently crawl out of bed.

4. I did not call to quit. I think that’s as bad as texting a romantic breakup. I have some standards. I went in, talked to the manager, explained why I would not be back (my back), and he tried to talk me into staying. I had made an impression on him with my quick learning and excellent customer service skills. He said I’d only have to move the 300-lb roller once a week. So, in my mind I’m thinking, okay, once a week I’ll break my back and it will take three days of bed rest to recoup. In that time, I can’t work. He was unable to make concessions, which I totally understood, and being the “fairness” person I am (darn it), I agreed it wouldn’t be fair to the others if I had special consideration. I’m not disabled, just older. Unless we can now count older as a disability. I’m starting to wonder . . .

5. So, in conclusion, I ended up staying at work to work on the day I quit because he had no one else to call in. That’s another thing going against or for me – I’m too nice and I’m too understanding. It was kind of sad because I’d already started to bond with my coworkers. This store had a team that was like a family and they welcomed me with opened arms.

What I Gained

1. I like people. I used to think I didn’t like people in general but I came to realize I like all manner of people. I also realized I was caught in judging people by their appearance. Some of the most polite, nice , helpful, funny and friendly people were some I would have crossed the street to avoid in the past. I evolved and for that, I’m thankful.

2. I like making people happy. A good customer service representative is one who customers will remember as friendly and helpful. I passed the test. On my second day, some of the regulars were asking for me by name.

3. Helping people opened my eyes to my own possibilities. I want to make a real difference in the lives of people. If I didn’t need the money to survive, I’d be more active in volunteering.

4. An understanding of limitations. Superpower left me at some unknown point in my life. I’m not as physically strong as I thought I was and this made me take an honest and hard look at myself. I can still pick up heavy boxes and a heavier by the day grandson, but I have limitations. Twenty years ago, I didn’t. Body age slapped me in the head last week – hard. I may be young at heart and in my mind, but my physical strength is on par with my age. Sucks, but there it is.

🙂

So, it’s back to the grind. I’m discovering more and more senior workers are looking for work. The 55 and over crowd need jobs. Although some organizations and government programs are trying to help, their reach is too localized in specific areas of the country.

One of the best programs is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (http://www.doleta.gov/seniors). Areas are limited to larger metropolitan, so it won’t help me in my little two-horse town.

I’m still on the path to finding a job. What I’ve learned is not to accept the first offer too quickly. Research and ask questions. Although I liked working there for the short time I was employed, I foresaw permanently destroying my back in the process. We older adults have enough to look forward to without adding disability.

My favorite artist sings my life. Welcome Rebekka Karijord singing “The Noble Art of Letting Go.”

Posted in customer service, employment, senior work, stereotyping, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes I Feel Like Morgan Freeman

train3I’m moving backwards on this post. Let’s talk about my second interview of the day before I talk about the first one. Number Two was terrific. I was there for over an hour and we just talked in a relaxed way because the manager interviewing me was very close to my age. I like the company (I’ve been a loyal customer for a long time), I understand what is expected of me, I will stay very busy and it might be a good fit.

I should hear something today or tomorrow. We will see how I stand out to the higher-ups. If I’m offered a position, I’ll make a decision then.

Now back to the first, reality-bending interview of the day:

As I sat around a table with other hopefuls in a group interview, I started thinking like Morgan Freeman’s character in The Shawshank Redemption during his last parole hearing:

(In response to interview situational questions)

Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea how you want me to answer that … I know how you think it should be answered, sonny. To me, it’s just a bunch of psycho mumbo-jumbo words from a social behaviorist that a company paid big bucks for. A way that young people like yourself can feel superior to older people like me because you have a job and I don’t but I have to smile and nod at you when I really want to send you to the corner for a time-out.

What do you really want to know with all these ridiculous interview questions? Really? What would you do, huh? You really want to know what I would do with a rude customer? Be polite, firm, but not groveling. Or how I would handle a lazy coworker? I’d ignore him or her – it all works out in the end. Or what I can bring to the company? A reliable worker who is available and willing to work any day, any hour.

I look back on the way I was then, a young girl who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. I want to talk to her. I want to try to talk some sense to her, tell her the way things are, but I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old woman is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Interview? It’s just a bulls–t word. You made up your mind the moment I walked in the door. So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a s–t.

That’s how I (and I assume, the other eight people in the group) felt toward the end of this first interview of the day. It started off okay with introductions first and the interviewer telling us a bit about the company.

Then, Twilight Zone music began playing in my head as the group questions started. We, the knights of the round interview table, looked at each other like, WTH?

The guy sitting next to me got this: “Have you ever had a bad experience with an animal and how did you resolve it?” His answer: “A wild boar charged me in the woods. I shot it.”

My question was a little less gruesome, but still weird. “If you could pick a color to be, which color and, in one word, what does that color represent to you?” My answer: “Green. Growth.” (“Growth” was my second thought. My first was “Green. Money,” but I knew that was not what they wanted to hear)

The poor lady across from me was asked: “If you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?” I felt for her as she stumbled over her answer. I could tell she was almost in tears.

The next lady was funny. Her question: “There are two pieces of pie left and three people, including you. What will you do?” Her answer: “Eat two pieces of pie.” I don’t think she’ll be considered for a job, but her answer relaxed the room a bit.

But, still, what do these questions tell you about a person? Some will give an answer the interviewer wants to hear because they are intuitive. Some ‎will give an honest answer (“I shot it”). And some will stumble over words and never get to the point because the question has nothing to do with their worth, their abilities or their work ethic.

So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time.



Posted in employment, interviews, work | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

I’m Following Myself Now

I finally have a moment to write a blog post. Most of my time over the last month has been spent applying for seasonal work anywhere and everywhere (and dealing with the ongoing nightmare of a Wells Fargo Loan Modification process).  My job hunting has kicked into high gear despite a canned rejection from Target:

Hello

Thank you for taking the time to apply with us. We are unable to offer you a position at this time, but we do appreciate your interest in Target.

Target

Right. At least in relationships you have an inkling as to why you broke up. I have no idea why Target fired me before hiring me. And, right at holiday time when Target is hiring so many seasonal workers. SMH

Getting ready to send a message to corporate. I’ve never been afraid of going straight to the top and right now, I got nothin’ to lose.

Posted in employment, work | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments