Posted in #Confessions, Aging

The Bee’s Knees: Continued

The first Monday meeting with Mitchell, my young, handsome physical therapist, started off with a bang.  “Have you been to the restroom yet?  You know, pooped?”  he asked.

“Not yet,” I said quietly.

“It’s really important, so let’s keep taking what you’re taking and drink lots of water.  The more you walk the better it will be.” 

Ya’ll, I have a friend who swears her mother used to ask her, “Have you do-do’d today?” Every time she feigned she was too sick to go to school, her mother would point her finger right at her face and ask the dreaded question, “When is the last time you do-do’d?”

Mitchell and I walked a loop through my house, with me on my walker and Mitchell right behind me, holding a white, thick belt tied to my waist so he could keep me from falling.  He evaluated my uneven gait and chanted, “Heel-toe, heel-toe.”  We then went through a ‘lofty’ set of exercises, to be done three times a day.  Next, he checked my incision and reminded me, “When the pain ball runs out, probably Friday, you’ll feel a slight surge in pain levels.  Just want you to keep that in mind.”

I was starting to get really scared.  Scared about the pain ball (how much will it hurt to take it out?) and what will happen to me if I don’t, you know?  Pain and poo, two very big topics that dominated my thoughts day and night.   But, because I am a doctor on Google, I read everything I could about both topics and I must say I found out it could go either way…good or bad. Good, like an easy-peasy potty time and absolutely no pain in removing the wire inside my leg.  Or bad, like missing the toilet and landing on my butt and twisting my new knee, causing me to have corrective surgery.

Friday morning Mitchell arrived with a smile. “Let’s check your pain ball.”

“No need,” I said.  “It’s empty.”

“Ok then.  Let’s take it out.”

“Should I take a shot of whiskey? Or bite a bullet?” I joked.

He laughed and said, “I know, right?”

I laid on the edge of my bed, closed my eyes, and he peeled the surgical tape off my thigh to reveal the wire, which had been threaded down the front nerve of my leg.  I was trying to mentally prepare for the pain, when he said, “It’s over.”  And just like that I was freed from the pain ball and looking forward to a new surge of discomfort.

“Remember,” Mitchell said, “Stay ahead of the pain and go to the restroom.  See you Monday.”

After Mitchell left, I drank one more glass of Metamucil on top of all the other laxatives, just for good measure.  Sadly, I realized too late, that it had not been necessary.  At five o’clock, my stomach started to rumble, tumble, roll, and grumble.  For some reason, I felt the need to tell Boo, “Something’s happening.”

“Let the games begin!!” he laughed.

Five o’clock also marked the onset of the dreaded ‘surge of pain.’  I will spare you the gory details, but when I felt I’d better head toward the restroom, I immediately knew my speed on the walker, was not as it should be.  Never in my life could I have planned that the pain and the poo would happen on the same day and same time and stay all weekend long.  Boo, hollered from the den, “Do you need some help?”

Banging my walker into the door frame, I screamed back, “Leave Me Alone!”

Truthfully, I have only screamed once during this whole ordeal, and this was it. 

“No problem,” he answered.

The infamous ‘surge in pain’ was like my knee was waking up a week later from the surgery.  Shooting pain, dull aching pain, and stabbing pain settled in on my incision and the very back behind my knee.  I took every pain pill allowed me and still prayed to fall asleep.  The pain came in waves, like a rolling storm off the coast, battering and ramming my body until I thought I would break.  The only rest from the pain was from the sudden urge to run to the restroom because I needed a level head to maneuver my way through the bathroom door with the awkward walker.  I was a very hot mess!

 Things could only get better after this extremely low point because, after all, this was just the first week of my recovery.

Monday morning, Mitchell said I looked a little pale, but applauded my efforts and we set up a new pain med plan.

“Let’s get rid of the walker and go to a cane,” he said.

“How about tomorrow?  I need a few more hours,” I said.

“Deal.”

That night I went to my closet and found the cane my grandpa actually carved for himself.  It was the same cane my grandma used as well, and now I was the proud recipient. Who would have guessed it?  The cane was a perfect simple shape and sanded smooth as silk.  Grandpa had painted it a dark brown and shellacked it to a beautiful sheen.  The grip was worn in places and as I stood to try it out, tears rolled down my face, imagining my grandparents’ touching this very same cane.  I felt their spirit with me. This cane fit me just right and I felt safe and secure knowing my grandparents had in some way, been sent to take care of me.

I practiced that night and the next day it was trial by fire as I learned to walk with the cane.  Does anyone remember Festus from Gunsmoke? 

At the end of week two, I saw the physician’s assistant and she took off my bandage.  I was predicting a Frankenstein scar, but it wasn’t quite that bad.  Turns out my surgeon was a brilliant seamstress.  One surprising thing about my knee now is that it feels hot at times from the swelling and has a slight pinkish color.  They promised it will go away.  But, part of my knee is numb, and that will not go away.  As I was leaving, the P. A. said I could begin practicing driving.  It was music to my ears, and I felt the breeze of freedom floating in my near future. Although it was another two weeks away, I had hope that I could recover and finally go somewhere by myself.  No offense, Boo.

Soon Mitchell and I began to go for walks outside.  On my 2nd walk, we ran straight into my neighborhood friend, which you may remember as my Walker Stalker.  John wanted to know what had happened to me, where had I been, and “Who’s this?”

“This is Mitchell,” I said. “My physical therapist.”

 But John never really registered what I said, until finally, he asked, “Now, who is this? Is this your grandson?” 

We just smiled and said, “Well, I’ve gotta keep walking, John.  See you soon.”

As time went on, I begged Boo to ride with me a half-mile down the road to our community mailboxes.  “I don’t need to practice anymore,” I said, as I slightly hobbled to the car.  But once to the car, I had to pick up my leg to actually get in.  Bending my knee was torturous, in the beginning.  I really didn’t realize how strenuous getting in and out of a car and driving one mile could be.

“I don’t think you’re quite ready,”  Boo said as I came to a stop.

I knew he was right, but I also knew I was very close to my independence.  “I’m on my way back, baby!  Just wait and see!”

I finally graduated from Mitchell to outpatient physical therapy.  My weeks of exercising, icing, resting, and walking have now turned into two months.  My out-patient physical therapist is a seemingly sweet-looking, young woman named, Thea.   Don’t let her smiling, girl-next-door exterior fool you, she’s no-nonsense and hell-on-wheels.  But, thanks to her and Mitchell, I’m making great progress.  At my 8-week check-up, my doctor was very pleased.  “You’re one-third of the way healed.  Keep up the good work.”  He also told me it will take one full year to feel normal and strong, and I’m starting to believe him.

Everyday, there is a little less pain and stiffness, and everyday there is hope for better sleep. I’m walking, driving, sitting, standing.  I’m off my addiction to Cheetos.  I’ve gone on a trip, grocery shopped, and been to Costco twice.  I’m still telling Boo, I may not be able to cook for another month or so, but he’s fine with that because it means fewer vegetables.

I’m grateful to have insurance and Medicare.  I’m grateful to all my friends who loaned me the walker, icing machines, and tall potty chair.  The friends who brought me food and visited when I was still in my wrinkled pajama pants and greasy hair, and I’m grateful to Boo who never left my side, even when he wanted to!  Who has put up with my groaning and moaning and talking about myself until we are both sick of it. 

Sometimes Boo is a saint.

Originally, I planned to have my other knee done in March, but as time goes on, I think it best to wait until July. We have a trip planned for the end of March and one in June. Feeling stronger and having a little fun will put me in the right frame of mind to do this all again. (I hope).  And Boo will have a chance to rest up before his next nursing duty.

People continue to ask me, “Aren’t you so glad you had the surgery?” 

“Not yet,” I answer, “But, I know I will be.”  And that really is the truth.  I know I will be, especially after the next surgery.  As my grandma used to say, “If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.”  I will be so, so glad I’ve had the opportunity to get my new pair of knees!”

My girls, my grandma, and my cane.
Ready for an outing with Grandma and her walker!

Posted in #Confessions, Aging

The Bees Knees

The Bees Knees: Part I

I come from sturdy stock. I’ve survived a lot from my childhood and growing up years.  My threshold for pain is high, like natural childbirth high, but the last thirty-eight days have brought me to my knees.

Grandma

My arthritic knees, a gift from my grandma, have been a source of pain and embarrassment since my thirties.  I have repeatedly rubbed Aspercream, Voltaren cream, and Icy Hot on these bony knees  I’ve had cortisone shots, rooster cone shots, and rotated ice with heat.  I would slowly rise from chairs and avoid all stairs in favor of an elevator.  Worrying about my knees has consumed a lot of my life for thirty-plus years.

On a vacation to Washington D.C. a few years ago, I clung to Boo’s arm as we made our way up the eighty-seven steps from the Reflection Pool to the Lincoln Memorial.  Rubbing my knees and reverently limping around while snapping photos, I told Boo, “There’s got to be an elevator somewhere.  I don’t think I can make it back down.” 

I looked all around and found a small sign that said Elevator.  It was in the back, back corner of the monument.  One lone person in a wheelchair was parked right in front of the elevator doors. “I’ve been waiting for the elevator to come back up for quite a while,” she said.

            “I’m going to get my husband and grandson; will you hold the door?”  I asked.  And she gave me the thumbs up.

            Rushing to find Boo and Sam, I called, “Come on guys, I located the elevator!”

            Turning the corner, I saw the back of the lady in the wheelchair rolling into the elevator.  With her was an assortment of people on crutches, walkers, and canes.  I grabbed Boo and my grandson Sam, urging them to get in.  All of a sudden Boo says, “Uhh, we’ll meet you at the bottom,” and they walked away. “Chicken!!!”  I called after them.

 I squeezed myself into the tiny steel trap, making the other riders move closer together.  It took a good 5 minutes for the trembling, creaky doors to finally close and I pushed the dirty-looking number ‘one’ on the wall of the elevator.  Casually, I glanced to see if there was a number to call if we were to get stuck, but it was too faded to read.

  Another long minute later, the elevator jolted and then shuddered as it began to move.   S l o w l y, the airless box moved downward, while the wafting July body heat and odor settled heavy on my skin. The smell of old, tarnished metal and flattened carpet that may never have been vacuumed, made me feel claustrophobic.  My fellow riders exuded smells from Bengay cream, onions from lunch, and cigarette smoke.  I felt a little throw-up in my mouth but managed to hold my breath for the remainder of the ride.

 It felt like an eternity as we bumped and gyrated to a stop, waiting another eternity for the doors to open.  Luckily I was the first one-off, cursing under my breath at Boo for leaving me and my knees for causing me this stress.

“What took you so long, Nannie?” my grandson asked when I jumped out.

“I’ll tell you later,” I said and took a gasp of fresh air.

            So, when my doctor told me this October, “You can take shots and rub creams until you are one hundred years old, but nothing will ever heal your knees.  You need knee replacement surgery if you want your life back.” 

I cheerfully said, “Let’s do it!”  I felt certain this would be my answer as I halfway listened to his explanation about the surgery.  I must have blocked out the warnings about throbbing discomfort afterward and tortuous rehab exercises.  I zeroed in on the statements, “You’ll be so glad you had the surgery.  You’ll be better than brand new.”

On November 8th I arrived at the hospital at 4:45 a.m. and went directly into Pre-Op, where things started to move way too fast. When the anesthesiologist came in to do a nerve block, I started asking, “When do I get the happy juice?”  

Wire threaded down the front of my leg.

The nerve block is started at thigh level and a wire is threaded down a major nerve on the front of the leg. Then pain medicine is released through a ball of meds that completely blocks pain in the leg for one week. The nurses and doctors were so kind and thorough and when they told me to sit up in the operating room to get my spinal block, I remember asking, “I hope my doctor had a good breakfast.”  That was the last I remember.

Two- and one-half hours later, I was in the recovery room asking when I could eat. I felt drowsy but happy. I told my surgeon, “This was a breeze. Thank you. I’m going to be your best patient ever! You’ll see.”

He smiled and patted my foot, “Keep the good attitude!  You’ll need it.”

When I got to my room, I noticed something was attached to me.  “What’s this?”  I asked the nurse.

‘It’s your nerve block pain medicine.  It’s stopping all of the pain right now.  You’ll have it for one week and then it comes out.  You’ll be so glad you have it.  By the way, you have to take a stool softener and a laxative starting today.  Pain medicine stops you up.”  Still on my ‘happy juice’ high, I didn’t really soak in the reality of what she had just said.

Approximately ninety minutes later, the physical therapist came in and suggested we go for a walk.  “Sure,”  I said.

As I sat up the nurse helped me with my IV and the nerve block pain ball that I had to wear around my neck because it was attached to my leg. The pain ball was in its own little black bag, like a purse.  I tried to move myself to the edge of the bed and discovered I had to use my hands to lift up my own leg to place it in position.  The therapist put that stylish white cotton belt around my waist so I wouldn’t fall, and off we went down the hall for a 10-foot walk.

The whole twenty-four hours I spent in the hospital was full of walks and threats.  “Be sure to drink your Miralax and take your stool softener.”  “If you don’t pee, you’ll get a catheter.”  “You have to eat.”  There were pages of information given to me and more “Be sure to..” reminders and then poof, I was discharged and going home.  Still a little loopy from pain medicine, I asked Boo, “Please stop and buy a bag of Cheetos.  I need them.”

Boo gave me a sideways glance, knowing I forbid Cheetos in the house due to my addiction to those orange, crunchy sticks of deliciousness. 

“Right now?” he asked.

“YES.”

The next day, the at-home physical therapist came by to begin my three times a week sessions.  I wanted to make a good impression, but sadly my greasy hair, old sweatshirt, and baggy pajama bottoms were all I could muster.  Oh, and did I say I was wearing a thigh-high pair of white compression hose?  When I answered the door using the walker a friend had loaned me, I saw a handsome, thirty-something, young man with a beautiful smile. 

“ Hi, I’m your physical therapist, Mitchell.  Ready to get started?

To be continued….

Posted in #Confessions

I’VE NEVER BEEN A GOOD SLEEPER

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

            I’ve never been a good sleeper.  As a baby I’m quite sure I awoke every few hours wanting to be walked and patted, fed and talked to.  As a toddler and up until I went to school, I would lay on my bed at naptime and draw on the wall or wipe my boogers in a design hoping no one would notice.  By the way, they did notice and soon I no longer had to lay there ‘trying’ to go to sleep.

            I’m still not a good napper.  I’ve tried, but it rarely happens for me and when it does, the neighbor’s lawn service pulls up and 3 guys with a mower, weed eater and leaf blower jump out to attack his yard and assault the air waves, leaving me resentful and just a tad grouchy.

            I can’t remember ever sleeping past 6:30 a.m., although I probably did in college. Once on daylight savings time, lightening turned off our electricity, stopping my alarm clock, and I woke up at 8:00, disoriented and late for work.

            I tell myself I’m going to sleep in, and at 5:50 a.m. my eyes pop open and I can’t wait to brew some coffee.  I think I will turn off my alarm and fall back to sleep, but I lay there thinking of all the things I could accomplish if I would just go ahead and get up. I love being up early before anyone else is awake.

            I do have guidelines for myself.  For example, if I wake up at 3:00 a.m., I make myself try to go back to sleep.  If I’m still awake at 4:00, I wait till 4:30 and then get up. 

If I wake up at 4:00 a.m., I make myself lay there until five.  5:00 a.m. is my earliest time to get out of bed, but I have started the coffee pot at 4:30, so basically my guidelines are nil and void.

            The last few years I worked, my school was on the north side of town, meaning I needed to leave my house at 6:45-7 a.m. in order to miss the morning traffic.  I was in bed by 9:00 p.m. and read until 9:30, then lights out.  I jumped out of bed at 4:30 every morning and repeated the cycle.  I have tried to blame my early rising on those last few years, but friends, I’ve been retired since 2010.  Clearly, that is not my problem.

            If we are on vacation, I can never sleep the first night in a strange hotel room. Before I get ready for bed my mind goes toward bed bugs, lumpy pillows and unclean sheets.  Neurotic sounding, isn’t it?  I check the bed, check the air conditioner, check the pillow, make sure I’m on the best side of the bed, and then I can crawl in. 

Hospitals, cars, planes, and trains?  No zzzz’s.

            Hammocks, lounge chairs by the pool, and cruise ships?  Wide awake and rubbernecking, so as not to miss anything.

            I like my own bed.  I have a mental checklist that asks, is it dark enough?  Cool enough?

Do I have something to read?  Ear plugs?  Bite guard?  My mind asks these questions and explores situations, always jabbering away when I should be snoozing.    Shhh, I tell myself, but I’m just not a good sleeper.

            No discussion about sleep would be complete without talk of the dreaded CPAP machine.  Once upon a time, Boo used a CPAP.  If you have ever been near one, you know what I’m about to say is true.  When Boo had it on properly, it was quiet, steady, and reliable.  However, some CPAPS have ‘user error’ when it slips sideways, or there is trouble putting it on in the dark.  When this happens, it is extremely loud.  Loud like a howling wind, tornado, and roaring ocean, all at once.  This occurred more than once and when it did, Boo would use a few choice words, rip it off his face and fall back into a dead sleep.  Meanwhile, I would be shockingly awakened with the roaring sound, curse words and velcro ripping apart. I would sometimes be wide awake until dawn, praying not to smother him in his blissful slumber.

            In my golden years, will I be one of the little old ladies at the home who bothers the night shift or complains that I have been waiting for the cafeteria to open since 4:00 a.m. wanting my coffee?  Maybe they won’t be able to find me a roommate who will adapt to my schedule saying, “She’s a little particular about bedtimes.”  And I surely do not want someone who likes to talk in the mornings, because that is my sittin’ ugly time, and one cannot sit ugly and talk at the same time. 

            All this talk about my future as a nursing home resident may keep me up tonight.  One thing I do know for sure is that no matter what time I go to sleep, I will always wake up between 3 and 6 a.m.  I’m a creature of habit, and I happen to love mornings. But the plain and simple truth is, I’ve never been a good sleeper.

Posted in #Confessions

My Adventures with Heidi’s Bier Haus OR How I Won Big with Britney Spears!

Some say I drive too slow and always follow the rules.  I cannot tell a lie and prefer to not jay walk.  I take my vitamins every day, save money every month and recycle.  I got my COVID vaccine and brush my teeth twice a day, but I love to gamble! 

I love the lights, bells, whistles, and smells.  I get invigorated when I hear cards shuffle or someone yells, “Seven-eleven, baby needs shoes!”  And although I do not smoke, I love the casino’s smokey smell and faint mix of cheap liquor and cheaper cologne.

Years ago, when my children were young, I despised gambling and the toll it took on my marriage, at the time.  I prayed for all those people gambling away their grocery money or milk for their babies.  I detested seeing little old ladies being pushed up to a slot machine, cup of nickels in hand, and an oxygen tank attached to their wheelchair.  The whole environment made me feel unsettled and out of control.

But, twenty years ago, when I took a gamble on Boo, everything changed.  I never feared he might bet the deed on our house or sell my wedding ring to pay off a debt.  Boo was disciplined in how much he allowed himself to gamble and when our money was gone, it was time to go home.  Not to the ATM.

We’ve gambled on cruise ships in the Caribbean, in Louisiana, Colorado, Vegas and once in an obscure casino in Montana.  Two years ago, when we went to Niagara Falls, we stayed at the Seneca Casino and Resort which was just blocks from the beautiful falls.

Once, and only once, we stayed at the Isle of Capri in Bossier City, Louisiana, way before their remodel.   Boo was more excited about the buffet than gambling, but “I got us a great room,” he said.  We checked in and when we opened the door to our musty smelling room with bright green carpet, there was a huge hot tub right next to the bed.

“What in the world?” I gasped!

“I thought you’d like it!”

Three years ago, we stayed at the Paris Hotel, in Vegas. Our ‘gambling’ trips to Vegas are really more about people watching, seeing shows and walking the Strip, but one night I stumbled upon a Britney Spears penny slot that was life changing.  For the next two days, I was all Britney, all day!  Every time I hit big, she sang “Baby One More Time” and as I tumbled into extra spins she belted out, “Oops! I Did It Again.”  Even as we ate lunch or walked down the strip, I could hear Britney in my ears,  singing away, coaxing me to come back.  It was “Toxic!”  In two days, Boo and I won $900 and bought a Britney CD.

Just two weeks ago we went to Coushatta, in Kinder, Louisiana, surprisingly, the home of Britney Spears.  We were only staying one night and by 9:30 p.m. I turned to Boo and whined, “I hate this place.  I’ve lost all of my money!  I wanted to play the Heidi’s Bier Haus penny slot, but it’s too crowded and no one will leave.  I’m going to bed.”

Boo leaned over and handed me a twenty spot.  “Here, go see if Heidi’s got an empty seat.”

As luck would have it, I found an empty chair at Heidi’s.  I put my $20 in and I knew, betting sixty cents a pop, I could at least play for fifteen minutes.  The second time I hit PLAY, music started blaring and Heidi popped up, pouring beer, and spinning reels.  Even the guy next to me said, “Oh, you’re going to win big.”

I said, “Thanks, but it’s only $7.50.”

He looked at me, pointed to the screen, and said, “Lady, that’s $750.00!”

I looked around for Boo, needing his validation that this was real, when I suddenly hit on forty extra spins.  End of story, I won $1000.00 with Heidi, betting sixty cents with Boo’s twenty- dollar bill.  There was a small crowd around me and an old man singing the German beer songs right along with Heidi.  Boo videoed the whole thing.

I gave Boo back $30 as interest on his $20.

“I thought we would split the whole winnings, Love Bug.”  He said.

“No way!  I’m saving it for Vegas and your birthday trip to the Venetian.”

I safely hid my thousand dollars in my sock drawer as soon as we got home.

Being such a high roller has not changed me.  I’ll still continue on my Safety Sue lifestyle of driving slowly and flossing my teeth.  I’ll always try to tell the truth and tithe to the church.  But, as long as we’re able, I hope Boo will take me gambling, at least to the Winstar, every year until I’m one hundred years old.  Heck, if I make it to a hundred, maybe I should double down and go twice a year to improve my odds.  Why not?

Seven-eleven…baby needs shoes!

Posted in #Confessions

True Confession #1

1971

A Fork in The Road

            My junior year in high school I was invited to the senior prom by my crush, Clay Thornton.  It was exciting to be included with his senior friends and to dance the night away, pretending to be way more worldly than I was.  Before we left my house, Daddy announced, “Be home by 11:30, Nan.  Nothing good happens after midnight!”  Even though I was about to be seventeen, my curfew never changed, no matter what.

            Clay was tall, handsome, polite, smart, and played on the football team.  I had also been wearing his letter jacket for quite some time, proving to the world our mutual admiration.  We dated on and off my whole junior year and until he went away to college.

            I started my senior year fresh, unattached, and looking forward to graduation.  In the ‘70’s, at Tascosa High School, in Amarillo, Texas, you were assigned to a home room alphabetically.   I had been with the same “C” students for three years.  Once we got alphabetized in the tenth grade, that was it, until we graduated.  Mr. Thompson was our homeroom teacher and also taught government and economics.  He had been in the Naval Reserve with my dad, which was awkward, and he chewed on cigars that he carried in his front shirt pocket.  He was gruff, crusty, and personally I don’t think he gave a hoot about what we did as long as we were quiet.

            There was one student in our homeroom who was not in our usual classes, Tim C.  He was super tall, exceptionally thin and had an odd way about him.  We knew he went to special classes, but no one was out right rude, just dismissive.  Tim was quiet around our rowdy “C” students, so sometimes I went out of my way to say hello to him or smile when passing in the hall, to which he would raise his hand in a half wave and speed off.  I tried to be kind, while also tolerating a few snickers at Tim’s expense.  Wanting to do what’s right and wanting to be popular is a hellish place to be.

            I had plenty of dates my senior year, almost every weekend.  When I wasn’t working at Montgomery Wards in the stereo and record department, I enjoyed going to parties, attending games and definitely looked forward to my senior prom, graduation and going off to Baylor University in the fall.  My grades were more average than Daddy would have liked, but I thought of myself as ‘well-rounded’ and didn’t worry too much about it.

            I was home one evening in February, when my dad came to my room. “There’s a boy named Tim on the phone who wants to talk to you.”

            I couldn’t think of anyone I knew named Tim until I picked up the receiver.

            “Hello?”

            “H-hii N-n-ncy, this is  Ti-im Coley from h-h-home room.”

            “Hi Tim,” I said calmly, feeling awkward.

            “H-how are y-y-you?”  he asked.

            “I’m fine.”  I could feel my eyes widening and my heart started to pound. I kept thinking ‘ohmygosh,ohmygosh,ohmygosh.’

            “W-w-well, I have s-s-something to ask you.  It’s very i-i-i-important.”

            “Yes?” My mind racing, I thought oh no, he’s going to ask me on a date.

            And plain as day he said, “Will you please go to Prom with me?  M-m-y mother w-w-will take us and bring us h-h-home.”

            Sitting on the floor of my living room, right beside the bookcase clutching the phone so tightly I thought I might faint, my mind went blank.  I was unprepared and nervous and suddenly I burst through the silence with, “Uh, Tim, it’s awfully early to be asking, isn’t it?”

            “I-I kkknnnow, I’ve been wanting t-t-to ask since last y-y-year.  But my mother said I had to wait.”

            “Thank you, Tim.  I need some time to ask my dad.  Can I let you know soon?”

            “OK. S-s-s-ee you tomorrow.”

And with that, we hung up.

            It was all my foolish mind could think to say as I stalled, not wanting to hurt his feelings.  Instead of just saying no, I prolonged my torture by being dishonest.  I thought if I could just wait a few more weeks, someone else would ask me and I would be off the hook.  All I knew was I could not go to the prom with Tim C.  What would my friends say?

            Almost three weeks went by and my agony was palatable.  Every day at school was a game where I tried to hide so I wouldn’t run into Tim.  I finally, in my angst, wrote Tim C. a note.

Dear Tim,

Thank you for inviting me to prom, but I forgot someone had already.

 asked me a long time ago, so I have to go with them.

                              Thank you, Nancy

            The next day after the bell rang, I dropped the folded note onto his desk as I hurriedly left homeroom.  In my blinded teenage fog, I thought I had done a good thing and was happy the ordeal was finally over.  One side of me was happy and felt free but the other side of me kept saying, “I think you hurt his feelings.”

            You cannot possibly say anything to me I haven’t said to myself in the last fifty years since then.  Tim C. never spoke to me again.  He would look down when I walked by and he avoided eye contact even more than before my sorry excuse.  I disappointed him and myself.

            February turned into March into April, and there was not one prom invitation extended to me by anyone else.  As much as I dated and had friends, the closer it got to prom, the quieter my social life got.  Couples paired off making special plans.

            In 1971 girls did not go to dances in groups, it just wasn’t done.  It was a date’s only situation, and that was a situation I was not in.  The night of my senior prom, I was at home. 

            I was in my room when my dad knocked on the door and came in. “Honey,” he said, “you’re just too pretty.  The boys were afraid to ask you and they probably thought you already had a date.”  He hugged me, and in that moment, I broke into sobs of hot salty tears.  I wanted to tell my daddy what I had done and how I lied to Tim and hurt his feelings.  I wanted to confess this awful secret and get it out of me.  I was so disappointed in myself and my cruel actions, but I knew my father’s disappointment would be worse to bare.  I didn’t deserve his kind words and sympathy.  I deserved to be dateless the rest of my life.  And worse, I let my shame keep me silent about my actions for many more years to come.

            The night of my senior prom I learned a huge lesson about honesty and decency.  The laughs and embarrassment I thought I would have gotten for being Tim C.’s date might have instead, been a lesson in love and kindness for all of us.  There is always a fork in the road, where we make a choice that brings us up higher or takes us down lower, and the choice I made was not the best.    

Perhaps Tim C. doesn’t even remember me now, but if I could, I would tell him how sorry I am for my behavior.  And if I could do it all over again, I would choose differently.

I learned something inside all my disappointment, and shame.  I learned how I wanted to treat people and that being a kind human being was more important than potential popularity or perceived coolness.  I learned honesty really is the best policy, and that morals are private, but decency is public.

Posted in #Confessions

Progress Not Perfection

            I admit I have visions of grandeur.  I see my home and the belongings therein, as neat, tidy, and organized.  I know how Martha Stewart folds her towels so she can have the perfect linen closet and I have watched Marie Kondo on Netflix enough to know if I am over-burdened with unnecessary things.  I envision my possessions in their uncrowded, beautiful spaces, but my follow through is lacking.

            Besides my usual ‘junk’ drawer in the kitchen, there is ‘the pile.’  I confess that I am a stacker.  Beside my refrigerator is a stack that started with two pieces of mail I intended to do something with.  I should have opened the mail and immediately taken what action was necessary:  pay the bill, return information requested or discard the paper.  I postponed the action, which lead to this.

            Two pieces of mail turned into three cookbooks I haven’t used, a bulk pick-up reminder, one cat toy, a sequined seashell from my granddaughter, a white board and a flyer with coupons for pizza, which is now expired.

            Remember when Covid first started, people were posting on social media about using their time wisely to do home repairs or clean out closets?  Boo and I spent hours playing dominos and spades.  We walked and napped equally, and never cleaned one thing.

             Organizing my closet in an ongoing project that never gets completed.  I have sorted by what I wear and what should be given away.  I have refolded, rehung, and repurposed.  I tried to keep only what I love and brings me joy, but I kept hearing my dad’s voice, “You might need that to paint in someday.”  Another problem was when I asked myself if I loved an article of clothing, I would often answer, “I used to love that. I might wear it again.”

The ten prom dresses I wore when I was a high school administrator and had to chaperone Prom, a long black crocheted vest I might use for a 70’s costume someday, a navy- blue suit I wore two sizes ago that was my all-time favorite, a couple of wedding dresses (that’s probably too much information), and an old chambray ‘work shirt’ with candy cane’s embroidered on the pocket and collar are all examples of ‘my problem.’

            A few years ago, my dear friend Linda came over to help me organize my closet.  We took everything out and laid it on my bed, dresser, and floor.  She was overly polite as she pulled out twenty-two belts and ten formal, cocktail purses.  “Wow,” she said, “maybe you can decide on just a few you like the best.”  (I told you she was polite.)  The next few hours flew by as she challenged me to give away things I hadn’t worn or didn’t even like.  But, somewhere along the way, she pointed to a stack of hangers on the bed and asked, “Don’t you think you have enough?” 

“I have a problem with hangers,” I confessed.  “I like good hangers, remember Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest?”  Linda gently guided me to throw some away and donate the others, but secretly, I wanted to order more from QVC so I could hang everything on the same color hanger. When a salesclerk asks me if I want to keep the hanger, I always say yes.  I even have a few wire hangers that have crocheted coverings that Auntie Sue gave me years ago.  I know I have a problem, but I just can’t get rid of those.

            At one point, I thought I would just call and schedule a visit with Marie Kondo, here in my home.  If I had her here, in person, I thought I could change.  But sadly, her website says I will never get her, only one of her consultants at $100 an hour and paid travel expenses.  So, I took the $100 and bought cute baskets and containers to store more stuff in.

            Once, my daughter and her friend took everything out of my pantry and organized just like it was a grocery store.  “Mom, that expiration date was three years ago!” she began, and it went downhill from there.

 “Mom, why do you have three devilled egg plates?”

 “Doesn’t everyone?” I countered.  “Besides one day all of this will be yours and your sisters.”

 “Mom, do you ever use any of these cookbooks?”

 “I used to,” I lamely answered.  “Before you were born.  Besides, I love cookbooks.  They’re so pretty and colorful and I always find things I want to cook.”

Eye roll from daughter.

Lastly, “Mom, what’s the fascination with so many cans of black beans?”

“Once, I thought about going vegan.”

Disgusted eye roll.

My meek and sometimes weak answers did not deter them as they made me throw away out of date items, and tiny bits of saved crackers or chips that wouldn’t even feed a bird.  Don’t even get me started on the stack of grocery bags and bottles of wine.  “I don’t want to run out,” I whispered under my breath.

            Almost everything I own is either potentially useful or sentimental and that is why I have such a hard time letting things go.   I seem to lack inspiration and dedication, but, at the same time I can’t give up the dream of one day being color coordinated, pared down and organically organized.  I just hope you won’t think less of me as I straighten my piles and keep the three pairs of shoes, I haven’t worn in two years.  I might need them to paint in someday.