Eddie

Eddie was born at a farm north of where we live. I picked him because he was male and mostly white. Our cat already at home was dark in color. The two boys got along well, except Eddie was more like a person, and he got very lazy just like his brother Henry after an important visit to the vet.

So why am I writing about a cat? There are already so many pet stories everywhere. Eddie didn’t do anything remarkable or save a life. I don’t know of any cat that has saved a life. Eddie was just normal, fur everywhere, afraid to go outside, but he did love yogurt. He also talked a lot. You know what I mean. He meowed but it sounded more human.

Last October, Eddie had a seizure. I knew what people seizures were and had even witnessed one, but poor Eddie just flip-flopped on the floor, so out of control, we just watched in horror until he stopped moving. Then we would clean him up and hold him until he stopped shaking. I hoped this was a one-time occurrence.

It wasn’t. And it got worse.

When we got him to the vet, he had a seizure in the examining room. Afterwards, the doctor held him, ran some tests, and gave him some medicine. We hoped it would work, but the doctor told us to take Eddie to the emergency pet hospital overnight so he could be watched.

“We will do our best,” said the doctor, “but if he has a seizure even with the medicine…well….”

“I know,” I said. “We will have to make a decision.”

At three am, I got a call from the emergency vet. Eddie was still having seizures, no matter what medicine they gave him.

By the time we got to the hospital, Eddie was blind.

The doctor brought him to us, carefully laying him on the table. He was wrapped in a blanket and one of his front paws was wrapped in gauze with an IV. We all looked at each other, and my daughter couldn’t speak. My husband didn’t say anything because Eddie was my cat. I had to do it.

“We have to say goodbye to Eddie,” I said.

The doctor nodded and gave us some time before he returned. We all stroked the little white cat and I spoke into his ear so he would know we were there.  It only took moments for the final medicine to stop his heart.

I have his ashes in a wooden box with his name on it. The vet nurse also made a plaster imprint of his paw. When I collected these from the hospital a few days later, my daughter wanted me to put them away. She could not yet look at them.

I was and still am unable to tell Eddie’s story without crying, so if this were a piece of paper, you wouldn’t be able to read it. I have been lucky in life and had never said goodbye to a pet before, and it startled me to feel the grief.

Last Monday, my daughter bought a tiny wooden easel and said she was going to put Eddie’s paw print on it,  Yesterday she asked me to write about him. And so I have.

You may not believe me, but Eddie is still in the house. I see him out of the corner of my eye. It could be one of the other cats or Henry. (We adopted two cats that lost their home in hurricane Irma.) But I think it’s Eddie.

 

 

Jeans and Emojis? I’m Lost

I am very irregular. If I were a pair of jeans, I would be too wide in the waist, too long in the inseam, and all the pockets would be sewn shut. I would wear them anyway and spend the day pulling up my jeans and trying to find a belt that didn’t dig into my stomach when I sat down.

In fact, aren’t jeans somewhat a measure of ourselves? Go into a big store and look for jeans and you will find shelf after shelf of blue jeans: acid washed (that’s) scary; stone washed; straight leg; boot cut; elastic waist; comfort fit (whatever that means), but no more bell bottoms.

I’m not seeing pretty today. I’m having a pity party for myself (and my jeans). No emojis.I think we are beginning to use emojis to replace words in our language. We have already invented a sub-language with text abbreviations. OMG! LOL! Are these passe? If so then they were slang and not a dialect of English. I think emojis might became a kind of universal language. Seriously. From the hated and abused smiley face to the hundreds of choices that appear on my phone. Sometimes they add emphasis and sometimes they show laziness. OMG! I forgot to answer that text. Oh well, here’s a quick emoji for you 😊. I put a period afterwards because I thought it was the proper thing to do, but maybe we don’t need punctuation anymore, either.

Is there an emoji for a sigh?🤨

What Are You Afraid of?

I am not afraid of much any more.

Height doesn’t bother me as long as it is not combined with speed, I’m good. Oh, I should clarify: speed as in roller coasters. That’s just nuts. I can’t even watch them on television.

All right, I can tolerate roller coasters if I have to because I figured out if I close my eyes the whole time, I don’t see the scary parts, and I’m okay. Now some people might say that’s wasting a great ride and the whole point of roller coaster riding. I’m just telling you how I coped with it when I had to ride.

I learned at a young age how to cope with my fears. I had a kind of claustrophobia that started when I was nine, and it was pretty serious. I felt as though I was going to faint or throw up. My stomach hurt and everything looked woozy to me. Woozy. Yes, that’s the best word I can think of because it is not easy to explain a panic attack. I told my family, and the doctor checked me out but couldn’t find anything. So! In the 1960s there was no support for this kind of mental problem. (At least I didn’t get locked up!) There were no medicines other than Valium, and that wasn’t what you give a nine-year-old.

The reaction I got from people around me was like the so-called “natural childbirth” method: Breathe Through It! Just breathe through it. Just breathe. As an aside, I did natural childbirth three times. I am, as we all were, a very strong woman.

So when I got dizzy, which was what I called my panic attacks, I had to figure out what to do. Fight or Flee? No. Usually, I was in a place where I could do neither.

What I could do, though, was sit on the end seat, so one side had a bit more breathing room, and I could always claim that at family dinners because I’m a lefty. Easy.

(Don’t get me started on being a lefty. That will be a later topic. There will be discussion afterwards.)

Elevators were hard unless I could manage to stay near the front. Most children are squished to the back. However, the ride is usually short.

Movie theaters and auditoriums were my bane, and I couldn’t always sit near an aisle. So, you can imagine how terrified I was of being ON stage. I was usually in a singing group, but the hot lights really bothered me. I kept breathing and breathing and never directed my eyes to the audience. I don’t think anyone in my family knew then or knows to this day how anxious I was.

We find our way through the forest that frightens us. As an adult, I became a teacher and stood in front of many students, some who wanted to learn and some who wanted to curse me out. We keep going, usually.

Today I shopped at IKEA, one of my favorite stores, and it was packed with more people than I have ever seen. Back to College? Already? I managed okay upstairs, but when I go to the lower level where all the lights are, I have to stop myself from running to the checkouts and into the parking lot.

So I guess you could say I have IKEA lights phobia. Or IKEA electricity phobia. But I think there may be something about all that lighting in one place. I remember watching a television show where the occupants of the house were sure there were ghosts, because they felt sick and dizzy every time they went to the basement. The specialists used an electronic device in the basement and it went off the scale near certain spots. They recommended the owners have an electrician check the wiring because some people are bothered by certain electromagnetic fields When the owners had an electrician check the wiring, he rerouted and replaced some of it. End of problem. (I was a bit disappointed no ghosts were found, but I was glad the owners knew what was wrong.)

So, to recap…ha! I began with fear of heights and ended with electricity.

My mind at work.

 

 

 

Indiana Part Two

As I was thinking about Indiana, I realized I hadn’t addressed the old adage, “You can’t go home again.” Well, that’s pretty much crap because we are a mobile society, and of course, you can go home again. It’s what you may find changed you have to be ready for. At seventeen, I wasn’t.

I grew up near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in a small town until I was sixteen. My Dad got a transfer to Marion, Indiana, and I had a rough time of it since I was just about to begin my junior year. Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem for a lot of teens, but I had a complication I didn’t know about. I was beginning a path toward major depression disorder, so everything that was literally colorful and beautiful to everyone else was awash in grays in my eyes.

The first time our family went back to Pennsylvania to visit, I spent a school day in “class” with all of my friends. I followed their schedule and pretended to listen to the teachers. They all knew me, anyway. But in one class, there was a substitute I had never seen before. My friends tried to explain to her why I was in class, but near the end, she called on me for an answer. (It had to be math. I just know it!) When I looked up at the teacher blankly, she said,

“Oh you don’t belong here, do you? So you wouldn’t know what we’re talking about.”

That was my little snowflake moment. She was right. I didn’t belong there, and I’ve never forgotten that.

I survived Indiana, even graduated from Ball State, so I consider myself half-Hoosier. (If you don’t know what a Hoosier is, don’t worry; no one does. It’s the nickname for anyone who lives in Indiana and a lot easier to say than Indianian.)

Last week, when we visited Marion, one of the saddest things I saw was a beautiful, historic cemetery that had lost its wrought iron fence. Someone had sold it. A wrought iron fence that cradled all the graves in this cemetery–gone! I could tell people were trying to tend the graves as best they could, but it felt as though it was a sadder place than it should have been. It was missing something.

Yes, you can go home again, but remember this: where you had been kept on living just as the place to which you went lived on, too.

However, you can keep your hometown safe in your memory, and that will never change.

 

Second Home in Indiana

I just returned from a few days in the Midwest, that part of the country that startles you as you’re driving toward it and all of a sudden everything you can possibly see in any direction is FLAT. The first time I saw it I was sixteen-years-old, riding with my family on our way to move there. I don’t remember what I thought, but it has been a shock every time I’ve done it since. Makes the old Appalachians of Pennsylvania look big.

We had family to visit, and on the first day, we drove around the town for memories’ sake.

There was sadness, mostly. In the 1970’s, Marion was a growing town with varied industry. Since then, the industries have slowly. slowly left town or closed completely, so empty parking lots are pocked with weeds growing up through the lines where cars used to park. Windows are broken on the building windows and if there has been enough time, green ivy and other plants snake their way through to the roof.

The factories are one thing, but it was disheartening to see homes that must have been completely abandoned for years. Most of them were wooden, and the once clean paint was chipping away in big chunks. Porches–some with the furniture–were sagging and slowly falling closer to the earth. Cement steps were chipping away. And the ever-present green weeds were replacing the houses as though no person would ever return, and the weeds could grow without worry.

I learned Marion’s population had dropped to half of what it had been when I graduated from high school. No wonder, the houses were dying. They were dying of emptiness.

And yet, my family was there, and there were pretty houses and shops where people still cared and were trying hard to make Marion a nice place to live. You could stop in front of these places like my brother and sister-in-law’s, and be astounded by the mounds of colorful zinnias and daisies and see the soft green lawn that had been tended carefully for many years.

Many things had changed, and yet, others stayed the same.

My brother-in-law, Michael, had lived near Marion, but he was taken too early from the world ten years ago. We visited Pat, his widow, and as I walked into the house, I could almost hear Mike’s teasing laugh, but I felt his presence, and a few times, could have sworn I saw him coming into the kitchen from the hallway. Sarcasm. Mike and I had a great game with that, and his energy seemed to fill the home so much that I got distracted from the conversation at times. As I stepped out on the front porch to leave, I gazed up at the beautiful tree he had planted thirty or more years ago, and I stumbled on the second step.

Okay, Michael, I know I called your tree a stick and told you it would never grow, as it has.

You get the last laugh, Mike, because I have a stick tree in my yard, and I look at it every day and hear your laugh all the way from Marion, Indiana with love.

I’m Not Seeing Anyone Today

Two words. The Dentist. And one more word–Pain. Except there will be more. I’m starting to feel my lips!

Don’t blame the dentist. It’s my fault, putting things off for as long as possible, and then, well I promise to get this done and stop    eating      M&M s…….. maybe.

I do want to recount something, and anyone out there who went to the dentist in the 1960s, please back me up! My dentist is no longer living on this earth. (No, I didn’t kill him. I thought he was going to kill me!) I went every six months, rain or shine, and I swear, I sat like a stiff doll in the chair until he came into the room and washed his hands with Lifebuoy soap. No gloves. He would barely acknowledge my presence in the chair until he turned the on the light. I believe that light could have lit up a ballpark all by itself.

“Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmm.” He picked and scratched with those dental tools. I don’t remember getting an x-ray. He’d lean in closer.

“Sonya, open wider!” he barked. Honestly I tried, but I was an elementary school kid.

“You have a small mouth. But I can’t see the back! Wider!”

By now my jaw was tightened in fear. When he called for Nurse Roth, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

I had a cavity. Yes, me! A Crest kid! A cavity. I pictured the grand canyon of teeth and in my mouth was a blackness on the rocky wall that had to be drilled out as slowly as possible.

Oh! You didn’t know they didn’t have fast, speedy drills like they do today. Also, there was no soft cotton roll with a numbing medicine on it. The doctor went straight in with the needle which always brought tears. I tried not to cry but they kept squeezing out involuntarily.

Even so, that shot didn’t numb all the pain. I swear to it. When he reached for the drill, (a smaller, jackhammer version of the one they use on concrete), I flinched. One time, I was so miserable, I did start crying.

“Stop being a baby, Sonya!”

I gulped and he resumed the torture, in between orders to spit in the little white sink. I know most of you young-uns don’t remember those sinks, but I was supposed to rinse and spit out any gunk from my mouth. Problem was I dribbled because I couldn’t feel one side of my mouth!

When he shut off the jackhammer, I was always relieved, but then he went to grinding some substance to fill my tooth with. It was metal-looking, but by that time, I. Did. Not. Care! It was over, and I could stumble out to Nurse Roth who rescheduled me  for next time and brought out the prized sparkly ring box. I chose carefully, hoping next time wouldn’t come.

Dentistry. 1960s. Moments to Remember.

 

 

 

 

Spirits,anyone? Part 2

Before I tell this story, you need to know that I don’t walk around the world looking for ghosts; however, I am sensitive to energy around me, and since I’ve gotten older (sad face), I seem to be able to identify or sense more energy. For example, I live in a 118-year-old home in an older part of the city, so guess what? There’s energy here. I believe that we leave “remnant” pieces of ourselves in places when we have spent time, but that doesn’t mean that it is negative. Other people often think it’s fun to tell stories about evil ghosts, and I’m not denying their existence.

This story also takes place at the girls’ boarding school. This time we’re away from the classrooms, on the third floor of what was called the senior annex. The whole top floor was purposed for different things over time. When I was there part of the floor was a large classroom used for testing and study halls.

It was early September, and I was placement testing my international students for English ability. I did it every year, usually in this large room. I had proctored final exams and study halls many times in this room without noticing any energy, but in that particular year, the energy or ghosts removed all of my schedules and papers for school orientation.

I didn’t notice until the last student had left, and I was packing up everything.  I had the test booklets and answer keys, but what had happened to my notebook and all the orientation schedules? I tore apart the desk and room, but I could see the 25 desks had nothing in them. Where had I been? I thought. The little old-fashioned bathroom? Okay, but not likely. No, nothing there.

I walked all around the third floor, my steps seeming to creak more loudly as a went. I wondered. Would the girls have taken my stuff as a prank? Not likely. These students were new and nervous as me going to the dentist. Besides, most of them were not used to speaking English.

By the end of the afternoon, I had given up. I had spoken to faculty members but no one had seen any missing papers and a notebook. I checked my mailbox and my classroom. Sighing, I went back to the office, grabbed another schedule and carried on with the evening activities.

After a few days, I forgot about the missing papers. I just figured I had put them somewhere and forgot where that “logical” place was.

Weeks pass.

Randomly, one evening, I mention the “lost papers” to my husband, and he immediately suggests I go up to the study room when no one is there and talk to the ghosts.

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No, just nicely ask the ghosts if you can have your papers back,” he said.

So, the next afternoon, when no one was around. I asked the ghosts if I could have my papers back. I felt silly, and I walked away thinking nothing more about it.

This was several months into the school year, and I really didn’t need those papers back, but to my alarm and surprise, the next day they showed up in my mailbox. Everything. I was shaking because I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I ran to the admin secretary and quizzed her. Had she put these papers in my mailbox? No. I asked other faculty and staff, especially the dorm staff and housekeepers.

No. No. No. No one had put those papers in my mailbox.