Grandma Hazel

Tears are running down my face as I type this. 53 days. It’s been 53 days since my grandmother left us. It was the worst possible way to end one year and begin another. At 1:14 am on New Year’s Day, when mother’s phone rang, I already knew. Grandma was gone. It’s still hard to believe. Covid robbed us of more than enough. I’d give up another year of my life to have her back. I’ve never been so heartbroken. Crying never hurt so much, so deeply. My chest and back are killing me from the hysteria I’ve suppressed.

I’ll never forget the last time I spoke to her. It was New Year’s Eve. Someone in the hospital was kind enough to call me from her room and allow me to speak to her. She was drugged for comfort and couldn’t speak. I told her it was me and I was sorry I couldn’t visit, but they wouldn’t let me. I told her I loved her very much. In her moaning and grunting, I know she said “I love you more.” That’s what she always said to me. I said nothing more. I didn’t want to say goodbye–though I knew it was. I was slightly hopeful she’d get better, but I knew she wouldn’t. I didn’t want to say goodbye because I was afraid she knew, too, and I didn’t want her to be as sad as I was/am. And if she didn’t know, I didn’t want her to be scared. So I just left it with “I love you.”

I’ll always wonder if she knew that would be our last conversation, if she understood anything that was happening, and if she missed me, too. I’ll always wonder if she felt any pain, if she was also heartbroken, and if she was at peace in that last breath. I’ll make myself crazy over answers I’ll never have. Those are the ones that do it, ya know. It’s never the things we know that hurt us or break us down. It’s never the things we think we cannot recover from. It’s the unknown. It’s always the unknown.

Some people have said grandmother would not want me to be sad, so I shouldn’t be. They’ve said I should think of the good times and all the memories and they shall carry me through. While there may be truth to those statements, it’s difficult to find comfort in them. I shall try, I suppose, and days will pass, and eventually time will lessen the pain. I don’t think you ever heal from it. Even then, however, I bet it won’t be until I’ve lived longer without her than with her. That would put me to 80, and I hope to be back with all my loved ones by then.

It’s a lonely existence since the pandemic. All this time away from family and friends has left my mind to wander anywhere and everywhere. It’s left the huge hole in my heart wide open and the thoughts swirling in my head like water that never goes down the drain. It’s sad and extremely difficult but quiet and beautiful at the same time. It’s also dangerous. But she is with me. My grandmother: One of the toughest ladies I’ve ever known.

She raised four children on her own after husbands ran out on her. She traded skiing for adulthood and eventually, her piano for rent money. I know a part of her died as she watched a truck haul it away. She did what she had to do. She gave up the one thing in life that was hers and for herself for survival. That is a strength I’ll never (hopefully) know but one I admire with all of my being. She’s not the first and, sadly, probably won’t be the last. The tears are flowing like Niagara Falls now. I wish she were here. I wish I could buy her another piano and listen to her play it. I wish she could teach me. I let her borrow my keyboard when she was still living on her own, but she never played it. That part of her died when the truck drove away.

My grandmother had a sense of humor that couldn’t be matched. She wasn’t your average grandma. She wasn’t all sweet and baked cookies and shit. She wasn’t the grandma who came to your sporting events or wedding receptions. lol. She was a tired old lady who retired from being a bank teller and just wanted to sit in her chair and watch the Cleveland Indians. If you understood where she came from, understood her journey, you couldn’t feel mad about it. It certainly had nothing to do with her love for any of us. I wasn’t bitter. I loved her and made time for her, anyway.

Grandmother loved whiskey sours, country music, and giving back the insults. She was very quick with them, too. I’m sure her mother would’ve been proud. I certainly was. I also realized I may have inherited some of that directly from her. She loved to drink iced tea from her tall, gray Tupperware cup. She would put 2-3 ice cubes in it. No more. And no sugar ever swam in that cup. It was as bitter as I’m trying not to be that we’ve lost her. Grandmother also liked to drink Squirt and eat peanut butter toast. It had to be the crunchy kind. And fish. She loved fish sandwiches. And in the center of her dining room table was always a bowl of apples, bananas, and oranges. Some were plastic, some were wooden, and all were sometimes dusty. lol. I never saw that woman eat any fruit in her life–unless you count those peaches in a cup. Mom brought her plenty of those when she moved into the nursing home. I don’t count those. She was a different person then.

She raised four children alone. She worked hard her entire life. She retired as she deserved. And what Dementia didn’t take from us, Pneumonia and Covid did. But she loved us. And we loved her. And that’s all that matters. Because if you look at life long enough, you’ll see the rest is just noise.

As I wait for the memories to comfort me and time to lessen the pain, I will think of the funny insults, the way she looked at my shoes whenever I came to visit, and her love for ice cream and all things made of sugar. I will try to forget the unknown, the time I took for granted, and the regrets I have for not seeing her more when I could. The tears will continue to flow, and I will try my best not to suppress this deep sadness I have never known.

For those of you who’ve lost a loved one at any point from anything, take comfort in two promises:

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

Goodnight. Much love. God Bless.

Satan, Solomon, and Sinners

The times in which we are living are quite sad. I swore I’d never bring attention to it but I can’t help it. Look around. The devil is having his day, week, month, and year. People are using their free wills for evil. Humans are being trafficked and treated like possessions; children are being raped, abused, and killed; those sworn to protect are being disrespected and killed; cowardly thugs pick up guns instead of fists; and innocent people everywhere are victims. Too many don’t value life but care more about their own egos and reputations and other mindless bullshit that doesn’t matter in the end, anyway. Marriages aren’t being fought for and are quickly ending in divorces; spouses no longer respect each other and make a mockery of their vows by stepping out while still married. Their young children don’t know better and become excited about having two houses and possible future step-parents like the rest of their unfortunate friends. People value superficiality over depth; see half truths as honesty instead of lies; don’t hold themselves accountable nor do they want anyone to hold them accountable. People in power abuse it–some by taking advantage of others and some by not treating everyone equally. People are impatient, demanding, and entitled. They want what they want and now. They choose poison to quench their thirsts because they are too lazy to wait for the water to run. They make themselves try to fit where they don’t belong and put themselves in situations that are potentially troublesome or dangerous–all because they’re afraid to be their own company for a while. People consciously (or even subconsciously) believe in meritocracy rather than recognizing God’s blessings and looking around to see the rose color is from their glasses. People are making judgments and excuses rather than putting on the shoes of their neighbors and understanding their journeys, denying them grace and mercy. Society looks for a Savior in our President/future Presidents; believes all things/people are sent by God, and forgets the devil still exists and is free to do his work as we are all free to do ours. People push their agendas in the name of faith and religion, treat others any way other than the example Christ has given, and constantly use human error and God’s forgiveness as an excuse to continue down the path of hypocrisy. Churches have become greedy; preach prosperity gospels, and convince the masses who are too lazy to read for themselves that God will give them their desires if they tithe to their pastors.

Basically–the world is doomed. It’s a good thing for many that God made the covenant to never flood the earth again. He would’ve probably done so a few more times. And all the while–the world has become more sinful. People have become cold; division seems to be at an all-time high; no one values anything; everything pure and good and right and true has been mocked and beaten like Jesus before His Crucifixion; and all that is Holy is seen as a joke. The devil must be proud. Lots of people are doing his bidding. This is probably his “day” of rest.

It’s hard not to wonder where God is during all of this. It’s difficult to understand why He doesn’t stop some or all of this mess and save and protect innocent lives. We will never fully understand free will or the ways of God. But I can tell you this: this was not the plan of The Almighty. This was not what God wanted at all. And this was not was Jesus died for. What if the time of Jesus was now? Do you think he’d die for all these horrible people?

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.

What the hell are we doing? Why aren’t we loving our neighbors? Why aren’t we looking out for each other? Why aren’t we holding each other accountable and encouraging/expecting change? To have life more abundantly–that was the point! Why aren’t we doing this?!!? God help us!

Solomon figured it out for us in Ecclesiastes. One of the richest, wisest men looked to everything and anything for the meaning of life, and he said:

“Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and obey His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

To fear God and obey His commandments…

May God bless the righteous–those who value what is good and right and true; those who revere what is Sacred and Holy; those who love their neighbors; take care of their parents; and show grace and mercy towards strangers and acquaintances; those who let the consciences be their guide; those who stand tall in their beliefs and live with integrity, faith, and the love of God in their hearts. May God bless the chosen ones who love above all else, show who Christ truly is, and continue to live in awe and fear of the One who created us.

May God have mercy on us all.

I am sweating like…

In my early 20’s, I’d give you a plethora of what a couple people called “Ericaisms” to fill in that blank. In doing so, often times at work (Target in Fairlawn), I was once called the crudest person ever by a poodle-haired lesbian who was too old to have existed yet. And it wasn’t even after a great comment!! This was after I said I’m sweatin like a cop waiting for Krispy Kreme to open. Come on!! I can do (and have done) better than that! I’ll save those similes and metaphors for those in my world–because if I’ve learned one thing–it’s that I am too much of a lot of things for many people! And while the rest don’t count, anyway–I’m getting picky about who I entertain. Mostly because people are pussies. And they believe in being politically correct. And they’re softer on the inside than I am on the outside–which I am working on–both making myself harder on the outside and random strangers and acquaintances who find me repulsive and obnoxious harder on the inside. It’s a win, win, and a public service, really. You can thank me later. Back to soft on the outside.

I am doing a Beachbody workout called 10 Rounds, and that shit has me regretting what I ate in 1986!! I’ve got sweating running down my second chin like a convict on parole as we speak. It’s (the workout) one of those things I think I do because I hate myself but love myself at the same time. It’s the most difficult 40 minutes of my day!! When I am done, I am usually crying and looking for pizza coupons. Not really. I’m panting like a dog and thanking God I survived–because the last damn way I wanna go is by exercise!! Unless, of course, the aerobics are in my bed…then maybe. But honestly, I’d like to just go peacefully in my sleep, after I’ve eaten a large pizza and a sheet cake. Perhaps if I do it, I will. No one would ever suspect that. It’s not quite like jumping off a bridge or hanging oneself from her loft railings, you know. (These thoughts would be lost on my therapist, so I will leave them here. You should, too. Thanks.) Pizza and cake. And martinis. “These are a few of my favorite things.” Like Julie Andrews–who’s as old as Jesus now. Not really–but she did just turn 85. Happy Belated Birthday, Diva!! Back to workout (maybe??)–

People who run say a runner’s high is the best there is! Clearly those people have never had surgery! I was once on Tramadol, an Epidural, Dilaudid, Morphine, and Percocet at the same time–and I can promise you, friends–that’s the best high there is!! (I’d love to do that again, but maybe not have another lung surgery. Maybe just a fancy dope party with some doctors and surgeons.) And second best is the performance high!! I miss the stage like kids at fat camp miss pizza and cake. OOOOHhhh…pizza and cake. I need some asap! Is fat camp a real thing? Like conversion camp? smh. That reminds me of a movie called But I’m A Cheerleader. It’s hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. Watch it if you haven’t. Just make sure no children are present. If these camps are real, the mentality if the ignorant is lost on me. Onward and Upward!!

In this workout, the hot trainer likes to do a lot of core exercises. I can think of a few core exercises I could show him, but we don’t need an audience, a camera, or other trainers. Well…maybe just one more. Kidding!! About all of this. Maybe I should stop this nonsense and pray. I welcome (and appreciate) the prayers of others, too, thanks. The workouts always end in core exercises, and more time for me to think about and regret my entire life. Do I think it’ll cure me of my love for pizza or cake? Absolutely not! Will I eat pizza later and regret that?? Absolutely! Insanity makes sense, you know. Plus if that whole YOLO nonsense is still a thing, I intend to die happy. And happiness, my friends, is not like sweating like any damn thing. Goodnight. Much love, pizza, and cake.

A discussion on a park bench

Many times along my reading/writing journey, I have come across the question “If you could talk to anyone from history, past or present, who would it be?” This week brought that question back to me.

Mother Teresa was always my answer; that has never changed. I even knew what I would want to talk about and how I thought the conversation might go. After reading plenty of her writings, I no longer know.

As someone who has had a lot of life experience and suffered much, I’ve always admired the life Mother Teresa chose for herself, the work she did, and her devotion to both. That requires a heart, discipline, and strength I cannot fathom. That is the most selfless and simplistic way to live. Perhaps that’s why it was so fulfilling for her.

I have always believed to help yourself crawl out of the darkness (if you can), it is best to help someone else. It’s easy to forget your troubles if you’re concerned with someone else’s–even if for only a short time.

I always pictured myself

Continue reading “A discussion on a park bench”

Mental vomit

It’s been a while. I can’t recall…maybe a year? Maybe longer? For quite some time I thought over and over about what I might write about, what I should focus on, what is running through my mind and weighing on my soul. There is so so so much. Then I think it’s a waste of time to articulate my thoughts on current affairs or the state of the world. I’d rather not be more depressed nor do I want to pass that along. That narrows it down a little.

For a while I’ve felt this pressure–to be intelligent, eloquent, raw in my honesty,  and open like a book. Then there’s the other side that wants to be a smartass, misses the stage, and wishes my therapist would stop telling me to go back to comedy.  (I think she should be giving me a copay at this point.) I love the comedy stage, miss it, and fear it at the same time. This PC world ain’t for me. I’ve always said people who are PC are little bitches who are afraid to say what they really think. Lucky for you and me, I’m not that bitch. (Is that really lucky, though? lol) I’m a bitch of a different color–kinda like that horse–only no ass. All titties over here–which I’m hoping will shrink some as I lose this weight. But yeah—you always know where I stand, that I really prefer to sit, and I love a good argument. lol.  Back to weight…

Continue reading “Mental vomit”

trials, blessings, and books

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written. I wasn’t sure I’d ever again–not because I am without thoughts but because I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel that great urge to articulate them again. And yet here I am, still deeply searching.

I always thought in order to write a post–good or bad–I must feel or think deeply about one thing. Just one. Because you can only think deeply about one thing at a time, right? And that thought or feeling has only one trigger? Yes?

Those ideas were destroyed today. As months have passed, many deep thoughts and feelings have come. And while they seemed to have gone, I’m now certain they were just hibernating or waiting to erupt like a volcano. And now they surface. I’d like to think I waited patiently.

A lot has happened since I last posted. Life’s been good. It’s also been extremely difficult in times of times of learning. Some of those lessons were even heart breaking, but the truth of God prevailed like never before, and I cannot recall a time I’ve been happier. I learned that happiness is not the absence of sadness. It’s the ability to focus on the good while riding out the bad. It’s truly believing that God works for the good of those who love him. It’s blindly putting one foot in front of the other, believing that whom you cannot see is doing all of the behind-the-scenes work to take care of you in ways you’d never thought necessary. It’s choosing to press forward with whatever little hope you’ve left in your grasp.

All the while, life keeps happening. People show you their true colors. You lose sight of the truth for a short time though it feels like forever. You put the weight of the world on your shoulders because you think it belongs there. You lose sight of yourself–where you’ve been, where you’re trying to go, and all you’ve been victorious with thus far. You grow weary and hopeless. You find yourself at the end of your extension cord which hangs perfectly from your loft railing to your tall dining room chairs. And though anger and darkness propel you to do something you once feared but fear no longer, God intervenes. And maybe you’re angry. Furious. In a rage you’ve never felt. But you’ve suddenly  grown just tired enough to sleep on it another night, and God speaks to you in your dreams. You grow fearful again–not only of sin but also yourself and your own mortality. You press on with the tiniest seed of hope—that mustard seed…and eventually it all makes sense. The growing pains subside, your vision returns to 20/20, and some things you’ve learned a few times have finally stuck. And your trust in God is where it should be. And you know Jesus did it. ALL of it. Because YOU are worth it. Please believe that because it’s true.

I wanted to tell of the lessons I’ve learned, the wisdom I’ve gained, and the many, many blessings that have been bestowed on me in the last seven months, but I will leave it with this:

“There are many more things Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

Keep pressing forward, friends. Don’t lose sight of yourself. God thinks you’re important. Believe him. He’s still writing books.

Goodnight. Much love. God bless.

 

Hollywood Nights

Two years ago today was the best day of my life. I finally made it to Hollywood for a screenwriting awards ceremony and live read held by the Oscars (The Academy Awards). I was one step closer to making my dreams come true. And for the first time in my life, as I stepped out of the parking deck and onto Hollywood Boulevard, I felt a sense of belonging. Of course I was wearing my power outfit (black skirt and pink, dressy tank top) and my favorite Nine West (five-inch) heels. (I plan to take over the world in those shoes. They’re that fabulous!!) I will never forget how I felt as I took that step and looked at the Stars below me. The sunshine and air hugged me, my soul was overcome with peace, and a smile I didn’t recognize appeared on my face. I was finally home.

Back to belonging… Continue reading “Hollywood Nights”

shoes like hers

Last night I took my mother to a Mexican restaurant half way between her apartment and mine. I was starving and knew I’d better eat before I went grocery shopping and spent all my money on junk. As we walked to the door to go inside, there was an older lady sitting on the bench. She had dark skin, dark eyes, and gray hair that was a stringy mess. She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and those shoes you wear in lakes and oceans. She appeared to have no teeth, either. She smiled and said hello. I smiled and said hello back.

I wasn’t sure what her deal was–if she was just poor or homeless or what. There was another woman sitting on the bench with her but they didn’t appear to be together. That woman was put together better, cleaner, and appeared to be waiting for someone. She was sitting on the opposite end with her right leg crossed over her left, facing to the left, as if she was trying to avoid eye contact or even so much as look in the other woman’s direction.

Mother and I went inside, ordered, and ate, all the while looking for and hoping that the lady on the bench was just waiting outside for someone she was meeting for dinner. She never came in, but the other woman did. I asked mom if I should buy the lady some food and get it to go and give it to her when I left. She wasn’t sure what to do. I also wasn’t sure if she’d eat it, what she’d like, or if she’d still be out there when we finished. I resolved to speak to her upon leaving and ask her if she would like something from Dairy Queen next door–if she was still sitting there. I felt bad for the woman and wanted to do something though I didn’t know her circumstances, but didn’t have any cash. I figured this way I could ask her if she’s hungry and what she’d like from Dairy Queen.

When mother and I left, the woman was still sitting there, smoking a cigarette she must’ve bummed from someone on his or her way inside the restaurant. I looked at her and she said “You have very pretty hair. You’re pretty. I bet you have a boyfriend, don’t you?”

Me: No.

Lady: You don’t date?

Me: No.

Lady: You just haven’t met the right one yet.

Me: I’m really not into that.

She looks to mom. “You’re pretty, too. Are you two sisters?”

Mom: No.

Me: She’s my mom.

She lady was overcome with a look of shock. “Mother? You don’t look old enough to be her mother. How old are you, sweetheart?”

Me: 37

Lady: Well you don’t look old enough to have a daughter that’s 37.

Mom: Thank you.

The lady went on to ask mom if she had any more children. She then told us she has two sons, the youngest being 40. I couldn’t help but wonder where they lived, if they have any type of relationship with her, and why she was seemingly alone or homeless though she has family.

Mom and I walked to the car, and I still didn’t know what to do. I drove over to the woman and asked her if she was ok. Before I could ask her if she’d like some food, mom asked her if she had somewhere to go. She claimed she was good and was just sitting there waiting on her family to get there. She told us to have a good night and insisted we leave her. Although I did not want to, I obliged. From the looks of things, she was used to people leaving her. My heart sank into my gut as I slowly drove away, looking behind me to see if someone came.

I can’t stop thinking about that woman. Is she poor? Homeless? Was she really waiting on someone? Does she see or talk to her sons? Why was she on that bench? Where had she been before? Where was she really going? And why was she so nice, friendly, and complimentary with everyone that passed? I hope she is ok. I hope she has eaten and has a safe place to lie down at night.

I don’t know her situation or circumstances, but past experiences and observations have shown me that people are not what they seem. Those who constantly try to build others up are broken inside. And those who say they are ok and don’t want anything are actually not ok and need something. I wish I had known what to do. The lady told us to leave, so I felt the respectful thing was to grant her wishes. She may not have wanted anything but she can’t stop me from praying. If you could, say a prayer for her, too, and the many others who wear shoes like hers.

I hope I see her again–only with people who care about her. If I see her and she’s alone, I hope I can do something for her. I hope she’s more receptive to it–even if it’s just a cheeseburger and a milkshake.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

May God put angels in our paths and give us eyes to see them, hearts to love them, and clear directions on how to help them.