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Thursday, July 29, 2010


I spent an hour this morning doing something that is so anathema to my sense of right and wrong that I makes my stomach hurt. I'm a hospice nurse and my job is to keep my patients comfortable and peaceful.

This morning I made a follow-up visit to see a little man who is dying of heart failure. He is hardly breathing with breath sounds almost absent. His heart rate is irratic and faint. His little arm is too tiny to record a blood pressure, and he reponds only to pain. Sooooo, I proceeded to hurt him. When I first went into his room, I had to chase roaches out of his bed.

I was given the task of changing the dressings on his legs. The circulation in them is nearly absent and the skin is thin and weeps blood. He's on blood thinners. If you can figure that out, please let me know. My job was to change the dressings on his legs. I gave him morphine twice because it was so painful for him. And when I was done, I realized that I had made a horrible nursing judgment. The dressings looked clean, and I should have left them alone - in spite of the instructions to change them.

When I removed the old dressings- complicated layers of dressings meant to heal burn patients - sheets of skin came off with them. And my patient grimaced with pain and recoiled - in spite of the morphine that I gave him before we got started. I was horrified and guilt-ridden at what I had done.

I got the family together, and explained that I was going to put a skin barrier cream on his poor legs and wrap them gently in gauze. I instructed them NOT to touch the dressing unless the the drainage became visible through them. I explained that the purpose of the cream was to make sure that it was what came off with the dressing and not my poor patient's skin.

Gruesome? Yes. Part of life and learning? Yes. Cruel? Yes.

What was I thinking?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chaos at Work


Getting started at work is something of a challenge. When I did my preceptorship with Hospice of Central Georgia back in March and April, the census was at maximum, and we were crazy busy. It was like boot camp, and I loved it. I think I remember calling it baptism by fire. It was great training, though. I know just how hard things can get.

Now, I am employed by Hospice, and we are in transition from one location to another, adding an inpatient component to our services. It is chaos! I'm at home for lunch now, but I spent the morning assigned to one of the nurses who hasn't quite gotten the gist of the new laptop system, and one of the other nurses is helping him. You can imagine just about how much I am learning. I felt guilty, sitting there and getting paid to do nothing and learn nothing.

After lunch, we are going out into the field to do some home care. At least I know how to do that and will feel as though I am earning my keep!

The physical move will be completed by Friday afternoon, then all the chaos will be at the new location. I told my manager today that I would fully understand if she wanted me to take some days off until things settle down. (Although I could use the money). I am really bored.

Later - 7 PM

The afternoon dragged on and on and on. We did actually see a couple of patients, but the fellow I was working with needs improvement in the category of “Uses Time Wisely.” He waited until nearly 5 to call in a medication for the first patient we saw.

Can you believe I am bitching about this job that I have stewed about since April? It’s not the job; it’s the situation. It will improve, and with it, my attitude, I am certain. Sitting around is so much more tiring that working hard.

I’m going to put an end to this boring post and put my dear readers out of their misery.............

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's a Calling


Yesterday was my first day of orientation to the mega-bureaucracy called the Medical Center of Central Georgia. It was long and boring and exhausting, but I was getting paid to be there! We have only half a day today, then I report for work in the Hospice unit which is off site and not very far from my house.

I had begun to think this day would never come, and now that it’s upon me, I am just as excited as a little girl on the first day of first grade. I have missed being a nurse - not counting, of course, the years I spent nursing Clint before his death.

Hospice, I have come to believe, is a calling for me. I can’t imagine working in any other area of nursing. Patients and their families have a right to a dignified and peaceful and pain-free dying process. And it is a process, much like any other change. I love dealing with the patients. That goes without saying. Many times, though, the families feel left out of the loop, and frightened, and sometimes they are even afraid to be in the room with their dying loved ones.

I think of the entire family as my “patient.” Families need to know what to expect, and most especially, they deserve permission to begin their grieving as their loved ones lies dying. Many don’t want to look sad or cry in the presence of the one they are losing. Someone has to give them permission, to say to them, “It’s okay for Grandma to know you are sad. She knows she is leaving us, and it’s okay for you to let her know how much you will miss her.”

Every case is different, though, and each person must handle death in his own way. I want to be there for them, not matter how they manage their pending loss. There is no secret formula for this kind of work, but there is a secret formula to dealing with each situation - listen. Yes, listening is as important as the drugs we supply as comfort measures, the tender care we give to any and every little issue with the patient. By listening to the families - and to the patients - we can build a bridge to understanding. Not a bridge to acceptance; that comes much later.

This job will reactivate my grief, no doubt, but I want to use that energy to help others deal with their own private corner of hell.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Affair with Proust


My love affair with Marcel Proust is only half over. Now that I have listened to all seven volumes of Á La Recherche du Temps Perdu, I have begun to read the words from the pages of those volumes. Highlighter in hand, I read slowly, often out loud, and mark the passages that I find the most beautiful.

No, Proust is not hard to read! Even his sentences which seem to go on forever are not tedious if you push the thought of their length and complexity from you mind. I just read the words as they come and relish them, devour them like little sweet candies.

And where is all this Proust taking me? I am certain that my own writing has been enriched by it. My poems, especially, are developing more depth and dimension. They are still hard to write, but I pursue them now in a different light. I believe my prose is richer as well. (Granted, I have been spending too much time bog hopping and not writing for myself, but that has come to a halt. I start to work on Monday).

Those of you who have read Proust know that he can be sappy and nebulous with ad nauseum, but the words with weight far overcome any tendency to put down the book because it is vague and abstract. Au contraire. The fuzzy stuff just serves as a background to showcase the brilliance of his ability to paint vivid pictures in one’s mind.

Here’s a quote from Swann’s Way:
“My body, still too heavy with sleep to move, would endeavor to construe from the pattern of its tiredness and the position of its limbs, in order to deduce therefrom the direction of the wall, the location of the furniture, to piece together and give a name to the house in which it lay.”

That wasn’t so bad, now was it?

Here’s another:
“I went into the first of her two rooms and through the open door of the other saw my aunt lying on her side asleep; I could hear her snoring gently. I was about to slip away when the noise of my entry must have broken into her sleep and made it ‘change gear’ as they say of motor-cars, for the music of her snore stopped for a second and began again on a lower note; then she woke and half turned her face, which I could see for the first time; a kind of horror was imprinted on it; plainly she had just escaped from some terrifying dream.”

I won’t torture you any more. It is fair to say that Proust isn’t for everybody. Many fine writers have remarkable skills and great success without ever taking it up.

Why me? I haven’t a clue. I started this project 16 years after my dear, sweet friend, Elaine, instructed me to read Proust. Why did it take me so long to pick up the baton and run with it? There are dozens of answers, excuses and rationalizations, not one of which matters now. It is the now of my life that matters most.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finally Dressing in Scrubs


On Monday, I finally completed the pre-employment requirements for my new job. I have been so immunized that I am certain it is safe for me to travel anywhere in the developed world and some of the third world countries as well. I took the dreaded medications test, the one that had me in such a state of anxiety over the weekend that I finally decided that I would either pass it or not, and I made myself a drink, closed my books and put them away.

I suppose my lack of confidence about taking the test is the product of several things. I’m older. I’m still regaining my self confidence that died with Clint. I’m not 100% sure just who I am. This torturous journey in search of myself without Clint, though healthy and beginning to pay off, is draining, both emotionally and psychologically. Passing the test went a long way toward rebooting my self-confidence. (Yes, I aced it)! It was mostly math and common sense.

So, I am officially employed and start two days of orientation on Monday, July 26. Then I will be handed off to the Hospice division. Yea!!! My name tag will read:

Claudia Schlottman, RN
Hospice of Central Georgia

Since I did my preceptorship this spring, I have known I am right for the job. We’re a good fit, the Hospice team and I, and I am eager to get started.

62. That’s how old I am, 62 and embarking on a new career. I should be nervous as a whore in church, but I’m exhilarated and ready to jump in - the deep end.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I forgot Maya Angelou!!!!

The Thing About Beauty


The Thing About Beauty

The other day I was visiting “Hipstercrite," a blog I try to follow fairly frequently. Lauren, who is in her twenties, posted a piece called “Silver Foxettes.” I was intrigued from the moment I read the title.

The post is about beautiful older women, and Lauren published a list of her favorites, along with photos. Here’s a link to the post: Hipstercrite

Over the last couple of days, I thought in depth about physical beauty, no matter what one's age. I think I am more beautiful at 62 than I was at 40. Imperfect though I may be, is extremely important for me to look in the mirror and see a beautiful face and body, and I have learned to love the way I look. It gives me great strength and a sense of empowerment.

No, I don’t look like a movie star, and my body, well, is rather Rubinesque, but not in a bad way. I love myself, and I wish every woman alive could feel that way. I include teenagers in this statement, but I am realistic enough to understand that they are in a category all their own.

Since I was in my teens, girls have been held to a perfect standard of physical beauty, and have striven to meet impossible criteria of how their bodies should look - skin and bones. We “older” women, at least many of us, grew past that when we reached mid-life, though every day I see woman my age and older whose clothes look as though they came from their daughter’s closet. These woman are rail thin, nipped and tucked ad nauseum.

And in case you think of me as one of those anti-cosmetic surgery zealots, au contraire. I had my eyelids tightened up and a little fat sucked from under my chin. Plastic surgery only becomes the enemy when overdone, when its victims begin to look as though they might melt if they stand too close to the fire.

Please visit “Hipstercrite” and see these fantastic photos of women of great physical beauty. Being 62 myself, I was particularly interested. Like me, when you see these photos, you will begin to think of many others. What about Meryl Streep? Holly Hunter is 50 this year. What about Candace Bergen, Helen Mirren, and Lauren Hutton and Susan Sarandan? What about Dianne Feinstein? What about you and me? We are everywhere, ladies. We are all over the place.

I know this a subject that has been analysed, dissected and written about for years. But after all these years, nothing has changed. As a society, we still value physical beauty more than spiritual and emotional beauty.

It’s a real shame.

© cj Schlottman

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Searching for Myself

Just the other day, I read a thought-provoking post over at inJayne’sworld about stereotypes and prejudices. I have linked you up to the post. Her remarks about blondes made me start to wonder why, for most of my life, I have masqueraded as a straight-haired blonde, when in reality, I am a curly-haired brunette.

I began to wonder from whom I have been hiding. Why was it so necessary, at a gut level, to look a part, fit in with my friends and all the blonde celebrities? Was I afraid of the real me? Did I worry that, if I were a curly-haired brunette, the real world wouldn’t see me as hip and well put together?

Then I remembered Rosanne Roseannadana from “Saturday Night Live.” and began to wonder if she were the stereotype I was trying to avoid. If so, then why? She was a fictional character played by a brilliant comedienne, successful and in one piece.

But then I began to wonder if any of us in in one piece. Of course not. We are many pieces, many people as we are called upon by life’s circumstances to be different people at different times.

But back to me. Letting my wild hair go natural has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. After Clint’ death, I knew that it would be necessary for me to carve out my own identity, to be my own person and no longer his wife. I don’t know how to be a professional widow. I have to find myself in a world without Clint.

Figuring out who I am has not been easy. I am, as they say in the old cliché, a work in progress. I was surprised recently when I felt a sexual attraction to a man, an old friend. I guess that is growth, one hint that I am working my way back into the world of men and women and sexual desire. When Clint died, I was completely certain that I would never want another man in the sexual sense. I have not yet made the leap. I believe that I am more lonely than needy. To embark on an affair now would be harmful to me and unfair to my friend. I still want Clint.

So, here I sit at my keyboard, wondering what my future holds. I start work on July 26, and in many ways, my job will be key in defining just who I am. It’s scary, and I am anxious, but at the same time, I am eager now to walk down the road to find cj without Clint.

Lately, I have spent too much time on memes and reading and commenting on other’s memes. I do not consider it time wasted, but I do believe I have neglected this story, and I intend to spend more time here than elsewhere in the land of blogs. I have a poem rolling around in my head like a pinball. I need to let it spill out and see where it takes me.

I’m off to start the laborious task of putting a poem together. Look for it in the next few days.

© cj Schlottman 07/18/10

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Worthy Quotations

This is a copy of a post I published on Cheap Therapy. I'm adding a button at the bottom of this page so you may visit Jennee and join in the conversation.

Like Jennee, I believe quotations can be a big part of our lives. Here are three of my favorites:

1. “If only we'd stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.” - Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton hit the nail on the head with this one. Although I have traveled widely, I have lived in Georgia all my life. Here in the South, we make too much work out of trying to be happy, searching for happiness, pretending to be happy when we are not. Happiness is not something that we can find and faking it just doesn't work.

We make our own happiness. I recognize that to be an over used and worn out cliché, but it works here. We are the only source of our own personal happiness, and we, in many cases, choose whether or not to be happy.

Exception: After profound loss, such as I have known, it is very difficult to conjure up much happiness. We must grieve, and grieve well, before the happiness is us is accessible.

So, in most instances, happiness is a choice, and yes, we can be happy when our lives are in chaos and change. We are the only ones responsible for the way we react to our life circumstances. Nobody else can make us happy!

So, I am learning to stop trying to be happy, but instead, opening my heart and mind to it, so that there is room for it in my soul.

2. “Never submit to the will on anyone for whom you are merely an option.” - Unknown

Have you ever found yourself saying “yes” to an invitation, even though you are relatively certain that you were second, or even third choice? Ever say “yes” just so that someone’s dining table will be balanced out by our presence? Clutch the pearls! Heaven forbid that there be a odd number at the table.

Ever dated a man who you know is dating someone else and who only calls you if she says “no?” I haven’t, thank God, but I have friends who do.

To allow ourselves to be merely an option is to denigrate ourselves and diminish our sense of self worth. It is a form of self torture, I think.

So, I don’t do it! My life is complicated enough without me making matters worse for myself.

3. “Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got.” - Janis Joplin

This almost speaks for itself, and it ties in with the quotation above. By settling for second best, we cheat ourselves out of the potential for real growth and honest self-assessment. I am worth more than that, and so are you. We should love ourselves enough to muster the strength to avoid compromising our beliefs, our talents, our strengths.

Ever turn your head the other way when someone utters a bigoted remark? I must confess, that in the past, I did that, convincing myself that to speak up might cause an argument or even a scene. Not any more! These days, I speak up, and not one person has gotten nasty with me. Often they apologize.

We are powerful enough to be our true selves, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that fact, but a fact it is.

Cheap Therapy

© cj Schlottman 07/14/10

Yes, There are Honest People Out There

Yesterday afternoon, I received a call from Miami International Airport's Lost and Found. They have my bracelet! Whoooooo-Hoooooo!!!!!

Just when I think the worst of people, along comes an honest soul. All I had to do was go online and set up a FedEx account, so they could ship my bracelet to me. I was on my way to the clinic when they called, so I waited until this morning. I just finished setting up the account, have talked to MIA again, and the package is on its way. By the way, the ring was on my finger, so it was only my precious bracelet that was lost and then found.

This incident gives me great pause to consider my general outlook on the world around me. Before Clint died, I was the perennial "glass is half full" optimist. But since his death, I have become more guarded, less trusting and, yes, a little cynical. This experience has lifted my heart and given me permission to, once more, become that optimist.

I don't think it will happen overnight, but for the first time in 13 months, I feel a softening of my heart that is very warm and healing. When Clint died, my devastation was so complete and dark, I was unable to see anything in a good light - not really. I managed to put on a pretty good show, but the heavy darkness never left me.

To my sweet and caring readers, I thank each of you for your concern and prayers and comfort. When I began blogging, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had no idea that I would become a part of a community of other writers who are, in a real way, like family to one another.

I am happy, really happy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Piece Gone


Well, I’ve done it again, lost another piece of Clint. Will the devastation never end? While going through security at the Miami airport, I was asked to remove my gold, half-inch monogramed bangle, a gift, along with a matching dome ring, from Clint on our fifth anniversary. While being pushed and shoved, and in all the chaos, I forgot to retrieve it from the basket where I placed it.

Now, here I sit, at 31,000 feet, with another piece of my heart broken off, another piece of Clint gone forever. The losses keep piling up, and just when I begin to feel my strength and to trust my judgment, I do something like this. What in God’s name is wrong with me?

It is all I can do to prevent myself from weeping on this plane, breaking down in sobs. Shit, we all know I’m crazy. I have the papers to prove it, but must I forever be distracted and nervous and so anxious that I am careless with the things that mean the most to me?

Yes, it’s just a thing, an inanimate object. It can’t talk to me or kiss me good night or cheer me when I am sad or make love to me or wash my back, but it sure as hell made me feel better every time I put it on, a reminder of Clint’s love and exquisite taste.

What a crappy way to end what was otherwise a successful trip to Miami. I will ask the flight attendant if there is any hope of getting my treasure back, but I don’t believe there is. I am deflated, flattened once again with grief and loss.

I suppose if anything good is to come of this, it will be a poem, something I hopefully cannot lose.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Things Are Looking Up


This is Parrish on July 11.

The quiet is disconcerting. It’s 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, and Parrish and I have said our good-byes. He was actually eager to go back “home.” We took a cab to Starbucks, lounged around for a while drinking coffee and eating pastries, then we called another cab to take him home and deliver me here to the hotel.

The very fact that he wanted to go home, missed his routine and his roommate, gives me great hope. He is coping well with his illnesses, both physical and mental, and I am now certain that he sees Family Rest as his home, however crude it may be. It is his safety zone, in spite of his complaints. As happy as he was to see me and for us to spend time together, two days was just about long enough, especially in light of his lengthy absence when he was in hospital.

He has a routine that he follows each weekday, and it is on Sunday afternoon that he washes clothes and gets ready for the week. I mistakenly thought that his “program,” as he calls it, starts at 8 AM, but it starts even earilier, at 7. He is busy with computer lab, group therapy, and 12 step programs until 1 PM. He eats both breakfast and lunch there, which means he only has to eat dinner at Family Rest.

I am relieved and pleased that he sees the value of that time, and that he is motivated to return. He admitted to me that he doesn’t really want to sue Danny; he just wants him to do what is right. As rustic as his surroundings are, I believe sincerely that a move would be traumatic and that he would have to adjust all over again. His program is within walking distance from where he is now. Who knows how far he would have to if we moved him? Questions, questions. The only decision I have made is to not make a decision right nowl.

Without knowing it, P has found something of a niche for himself. The only educated resident, he is helping Freddy study for his GED. His roommate frequently has seizures, and Parrish has learned how to care for him when one comes. I’m not sure he is fully aware of his ability to care for others. Remember me saying Freddy, 22, looks up to him as a role model?

Now that Danny, the owner of Family Rest, knows that I will come down here, unlike 99% of the families of his other residents, I believe that things will run more smoothly for Parrish. It’s almost nauseating to know that leverage is what it takes to get people to do the right thing, but it is a fact of life.

On the trip home I will compose a snail mail to Danny, outlining just what I am pleased about and also areas where I see the need for improvement. For example, the “administrator” rarely answers the phone. P and I are in a routine of him calling me, because days can pass when I can’t get anyone on the phone. Calling the residents phone is always iffy, too. Frequently it is broken, and when it’s working, the residents rarely answer.

I want Parrish to have access to his money if he needs it. I see no reason that I shouldn’t be able to call Doris, the administrator, and give her permission to give him money for extras or something special - if only she would answer her phone. As it stands now, while Doris is in the office all day, if I want to give permission for P to have extra money, and sometimes even his allowance, depends on when Danny decides to stroll in. One several occasions I have called him to remind him that Monday is allowance day.

I would be out of here on an afternoon flight if there were a seat, but I can’t complain. I’m using the time to collect my thoughts and remember to be grateful.

Things will get better. I have faith.

Saturday In Miami

Biscayne Bay from our table at Monty's

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Key Lime Pie!

Parrish and Freddie at News Cafe


Parrish went to sleep yesterday afternoon as soon as we arrived at our hotel. He woke briefly in the early evening and ate his leftover salad from lunch, then he went back to sleep and didn’t wake until 7 this morning. He woke looking like a different man, the dark smudged and sunken look of his eyes disappeared overnight. His appearance, though still painted with fatigue, is more like his normal look.

We rested late, and at noon, James came to fetch us for lunch. Parrish asked if we could go by the ALF and pick up a young man, a native of Hialeah, who suffers from bipolar disorder and who has been abandoned by his family since his diagnosis. His name is Freddy, and he looks up to Parrish for friendship and, in a way, a father figure.

I was delighted that Parrish wanted to bring a friend. He has a giving heart and wanted Freddy to have a treat. I was happy to have him along. The weather was fine, and we ate lunch outside at Monyt’s on one of the marinas on Biscayne Bay. The view was spectacular, the yachts elegant and glowing white in the bright sunlight, the water sparkling like dark emeralds. The stone crab was, well, delicious. The men had sandwiches, but not I! Freddy is shy and very sweet.

When we finished lunch, James drove us to South Beach to The News Cafe, a landmark hangout where patrons are encouraged to linger as long as they please, sipping drinks, reading the paper, enjoying sumptuous desserts. The men had key lime pie while I dug into a bowl of New Stand Nachos, a layered ice cream concoction of vanilla ice cream layered with chopped strawberries and kiwi fruit to look like a layered Mexican dip and served with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips for dipping! Divine.

We dropped Freddy at ALF and came back to the hotel, where Parrish and I both took a three hour nap. Yawn and stretch.....pizza delivery for dinner......... ......My Cousin Vinny on TV. Parrish is fast asleep, and I’m joining him now.

My soul is soothed, and the anxiety that has plagued me since Parrish was so ill has abated. There are no words to express how grateful I am that he is recovering and how happy I am to be here with him. He is himself, stable on meds, and I can now see the old Parrish in him, his kindness, his easy and friendly way with people, his intelligence, his sense of humor.

Yes, I am very grateful.

And I am grateful for dear James, our driver. He is a man of elegance and generosity of heart. A kind person, he is.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Perils of Parrish


This is how Parrish looked when I first saw him on July 9.

I’m reporting from somewhere over Florida, as I travel to see my son in Miami. Some of you know that Parrish, who was 41 yesterday, suffers from the devastating mental illness called schizoaffective disorder. It’s an unfortunate combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He lives in an assisted living facility (ALF) in Hialeah, Florida.

Why so far from me, you might ask? Six hundred miles is a long way. The short answer isn't really short, but I’ll give it a go.

In 1995, Parrish was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and though a college graduate and all around good guy, he, well, ran off of his tracks. He resisted therapy and assisted living, lived on the streets and in the parks and under the bridges of Atlanta for for 14 years. There were two year stretches when I didn’t know where he was. He was mugged and robbed so many times that he lost all of his teeth. He was bounced in and out of the legal system and the state mental health system. As you probably know, state agencies cannot keep patients against their will for more than seven days without their permission. Every time he was admitted to a state psych hospital, having been deemed by the legal system that he was a danger to himself or others, he was back on the streets in a week.

Finally, in January of 2009, when he was released from a state facility, newly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, they gave him a bus ticket and two boxed lunches and sent him to a rehab facility in Miami. (Like most untreated bipolar patients, he had long since become alcohol and drug addicted).

After a week, he had deserted, but finally having hit that famous “bottom,” he presented himself once more for help. The director of the center described him this way, “We scraped him off the bottom this time.”

They got him sober and on the anti-psychotic drugs he needs, got him integrated into Social Security disability and had him enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare. Having done their job, they placed him in the ALF where he has resided for a little over a year.

His disease is under good control, though his meds need to be tweaked from time to time. He is clean and sober. In fact, he is more lucid and reasonable and has better judgment than when he was in college.

After all that, the reason he lives so far away from me is twofold. He is where he was when he got clean and sober, 700 miles from his old stomping grounds and his drinking and drugging buddies. It is best for him to stay where he is for that reason alone. Then there is the codependency thing that happens if we are too close. It never works and each of us ends up sicker if I play a big role in his daily life.

Information overload? I hear you.

So, later, after I have had some time with my son, I’ll be ready to edit and post this. I know many of you are already praying for us. Thanks. For others, if prayer is what you do, we could use more. If you communicate with the universe in another way, please include us in your meditations and other spiritual routes. We need all the good energy you can send our way.

Later, in Miami. In my post of 07/05, I wrote:

“I spent a hour in my paper journal. Parrish is in hospital with a spider bite that could have cost him his hand or his arm or even his life. A Brown Recluse bit him on his hand last Monday, while he was taking a nap in his bed in the assisted living facility, and because of their negligence and that of two separate emergency rooms, he is now in hospital at a third facility. He has been there since Thursday, wracked with pain and getting continuous IV antibiotics.”

Now it’s July 9, and I am in Miami with Parrish. He was dismissed from hospital yesterday afternoon, and though his hand and arm still look bad, he is being treated with antibiotics by mouth, and it seems that he will have a full recovery, albiet with a scarred hand.

I had a face-to-face meeting with the owner of the ALF as soon as I arrived, and we came to terms over my disappointment with the way Parrish was treated. He reassured me that, in the future, Parrish will not be denied care when he’s sick or injured. I am not completely comfortable with all of his excuses, and I made that fact clear to him - in a diplomatic way, of course. Parrish and I are planning to shop around for another ALF when the time is right.

This is a hard time for me to be away from home, because I start my new job in two weeks, so we will work on this over the next few months.

Parrish and I had a nice lunch, and we are now resting in our hotel. He is anxious to get back into his mental health program, so he will stay with me until Sunday night when he will return to his ALF in order to be ready for his 8 AM computer class on Monday. I will be flying back to Atlanta later that morning.

I am encouraged by his attitude and the worried Mama in me is somewhat assuaged. To say that I am exhausted from worry and sleep deprivation is, well, an understatement. I’m going to take a nap.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Food for Thought

This morning I am linking to Katie Gates: Stories and Opinions. Katie is a talented writer with an easy style and her opinions are worth sharing. Click on the title of this post and pop over and check her out. Just click on the title of this post. Happy Reading!

I'll be back later with a post of my own.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Only Loneliness and Spider Bites


I took photos of my little gardens, desperate to find a place to put this despondent energy, this anxious melancholy, but I failed. Oh, the photos are nice, but they left me unsatisfied, still mournful, still suffering the absence of My Dead Husband. There are still those days when his absence is all that I know. It fills the house, chills it, even in this oppressive heat. How is it possible to be hot and cold at once?

I woke early and began cleaning my little house, dusting and polishing and shining all the mirrors and tables, filling the hours with labor, sweating from the effort. Then, still not satisfied, I began to bake cheese straws, dozens of them, not for me but for others. I could not allow myself to sit, knit, watch TV, read. It was as though I were fleeing the emptiness, trying to fill it with activity and sweat. But it remains, more oppressive than ever.


Tears rolled down my temples as I lay on my blanket last night, while the fireworks at our club filled the night sky with magic and color. I wanted Clint to be there, felt isolated in the crowd gathered to celebrate our nation’s birthday. I wanted to wear Clint’s Old Navy shirt with the American flag on it, but I couldn’t find it. That made me cry, so I went to Old Navy and bought another one in size XL so I could pretend it was his.

Today is better. I’m devoting it to writing this post and reading blog posts from my favorite sites. And yes, I see Proust in my day. My affair with him is almost at an end, having made it all the way to the seventh volume, Time Regained.

I spent a hour in my paper journal. Parrish is in hospital with a spider bite that could have cost him his hand or his arm or even his life. A Brown Recluse bit him on his hand last Monday, while he was taking a nap in his bed in the assisted living facility, and because of their negligence and that of two separate emergency rooms, he is now in hospital at a third facility. He has been there since Thursday, wracked with pain and getting continuous IV antibiotics. I will write the entire story in my Rants and Raves blog after I have had a chance to go to Miami and see him.

That has to wait until Wednesday, the 14th, because I have finally, reached the last step in my effort to become employed, and I have orientation and testing until Tuesday.

What next? I suppose there are those out there who would say to me, “Be grateful that Parrish is not dead. Be grateful for what you have, your sweet memories of Clint.” I try. I really do.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Little Rust Gardens

Summer has been brutal in Macon, so my little "Rust Gardens" aren't as lush as usual, but I want to
share them with you along with a sweet memory of Clint.

He never understood the rust thing, always wanted to spiff them up with a coat of paint! But he was a kind a gentle man of great humor and he suffered my silliness with love and laughter.

The day I brought home the little pine bench, he said, "Did you PAY for that?" When I replied in the affirmative, he declared, "Well, we might just as well start a bonfire, because one of us has money to burn!

It was fun to put this together, and I'm glad you came to visit.