Walk hard

That is a thing. Sometimes walking is hard. I have not done my usual walking, due to life getting in the way. Porkchop was sick and then died. I just couldn’t, I didn’t feel it. Even though my body knew it should and it could, it wanted to stay inside and not move.  Then my dad was in the hospital, he had chest pain. We went to the ER, he was admitted, they ran tests, drew blood and he got to watch cable when they woke him up. He came home when the tests confirmed he had blockages, and only one functioning artery. Surgery was a high-risk low value option and he didn’t want it. While he was in hospital I mostly hung out there with my sisters and we got to enjoy the free Wi-Fi while he dozed. I didn’t walk then either. The temperature was in the 90’s and that didn’t help.

So I managed 2 days in a week and half, and this was an effort. Not just physically but mentally, I was aware of everything around me. It was hot, the sun beating on me with little breeze, and the distance seemed longer. I wondered if I should be there, besides the weather I was aware there were things I could or should be doing. I even felt the geese were judging me. More than usual.

I still miss Porkchop waiting for me at the door when I come home, see that weird empty space where his cat box was, and just miss him. I can hardly eat in my room because I keep waiting for a little gray paw to reach for my food. My dad is all right, relatively speaking. He’s dozing in his recliner with a bag of pork rinds next to him. Following a low salt diet only happens in the hospital and frankly it won’t help much anyway, it just annoys him.

Today I did my walk, I didn’t do the full distance I should have but came close, less than a mile short. I started early, it wasn’t hot yet and there was breeze. I brought a bottle of water and later wished I brought a second. It was good, better than I expected. I thought about last June, when I took off to see how far I could go and nearly gave myself skin failure and heatstroke. I didn’t walk 11 miles like that day but I didn’t have the rapid heartbeat or fatigue either. I’ve also learned to put one earbud in my left ear and the other one down the front of my shirt. I know clipping my phone holder on my left front helps too. These are little things that make a big difference.

The other change is I didn’t berate myself, tell myself that I suck, should be further along or failed. It’s an old pattern and an effort to not listen. I don’t like clichés but the journey, the walk, is the goal not just a number. Not how fast or how far I went.  I am starting to believe in it.

Cows! Police cows, I took this on the way back.

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Kitty

Porkchop was an excellent cat. He was really my son’s cat but after Bear moved to Asia consented to live with me. He was an old cat, I told my cousin he was 15 but when I thought about it, realized he was 20. If he were human he could vote.  EDIT: Porkchop was 16, not 20. I’m just losing it here.

He was sick, he started sitting in the tub during the day then his appetite declined. He stopped eating and I took him to the vet on Friday. He lost weight, had trouble standing and walking and then stopped using the cat box.  

The vet said he was anemic and they would run tests but didn’t sound encouraging. The tests showed he had kidney failure and his body was shutting down. His temperature was so low it didn’t register on the thermometer. I called Bear in Saigon and told him. He took it well but asked if I could bring his kitty home to die. I said I would try. I would go to the vet clinic in the morning and ask. 

Yesterday morning the receptionist ushered me and my cousin, who came for moral support, into an exam room. A vet tech came in and told us he had passed early that morning. I made arrangements to have him cremated, per his boy’s wishes. Later I cleared away his things and cleaned the cat box for the last time. It occurred to me later that Tuesday was the 3rd anniversary of Jerry’s passing and Porkchop passed four days after. I like to think of Jerry hearing his meow and looking down to see Porkchop and asking “When did you get here?”

What do people say about you

Something we wonder about, but may not want to hear. People talk, they see and judge, either in our favor or not. Their viewpoint may be skewed, taking offense when none was offered. They may judge us for things we never did, good and bad things alike. 

I try to keep a low profile,  not draw attention to myself and I think I succeed overall. I’m rather proud of my obscurity.

Last night my dad was talking to one of his nephews. He mentioned us, his daughters, and my ears went up like a Chihuahua’s when he said “the oldest one.”

So what did he say, my dad, a person who knows me fairly well and who lives in the same house?

He mentioned Jerry, saying he died 3-4 years ago (it will be 3  years in July). He said I’m alone and I go to a different church. My family are Southern Baptist and I’m Catholic, so that’s a bit of an understatement. 

My identity is based on my status as a widow. I’m alone. My sisters are married and he went on at length about their husbands. I got nothing. I am not angry or offended that my dad defines us by our marital status. Much. It’s the way he is, he is the product of a conservative rural background and another time. 

His nephew didn’t want a long detailed description of us, my dad just hit the high points, so to speak. I got off lightly. He could have been nicer but he could have been meaner too. I’m used to the Catholic thing. Though it bugs me that I’m labeled as less than because I don’t have a husband. 

Long walk

For me, anyway. For some people, short little hike, no big deal. I did my morning walk, I walk about 3 days a week and this is my longest walk of the week because I have more time. More time to do and to recover. 

I took a bottle of water, room temperature,  with me and I’m glad I did. It was awkward carrying it and I need to wear pants with pockets. Although it’s only 79 degrees F I am sweating like a politician on the witness stand. I even sweated off my eyebrows. 

Besides sweating a lot, I feel accomplished. It takes effort, just making myself get up and drive to the river was hard today. I knew I was going to do 6 miles and that I haven’t walked that far in almost a year. I managed 5 miles but one more was intimidating and a little frightening. I told myself I could do this, I could go slow, I could rest if I needed, it’s okay. 

I did stop once, to go pee between a couple of fir trees. Got pee on my leg, poked by a tree branch and hoped nobody saw me, especially the truck passing on the bridge on my left.  

As I turned around and started back I said “you’re more than halfway there.” I repeated it and checked off the streets and bridges as I passed them on my way back. Once I made it to my car and changed my shoes I began thinking about the other stuff I need to do today. After I conquered this, and I feel conquer is the right word, I feel like I can do anything now, today. 

 Yeah, I need to pluck those brows.

The Awful Truth

The awful, embarrassing truth that is. I looked at my recent posts and went back to read posts I wrote 2 years ago. I was griping about the same things, the same situations, frustrations and the same conclusions. Unfortunately none of it has improved, I’m not smarter or better off than before. I’m in a rut and apparently I’ve gotten so comfortable here, decorated the place with cushions so it looks different but it’s still the same rut. The cushions make the hard floors and sharp corners less painful but I know they are still there. 

I  haven’t grown any. I am not able to look back, see changes and be grateful for my new self. I am a little embarrassed but not as embarrassed as I should be. Two years, woman, you had two years and what did you do? Gripe, whine, complain and say the same old things but do nothing. No change, still fretting about what you can’t change and not moving forward. Am I afraid?  If I’m the badass I like to think I am the answer should be no. But I know I am a fraud.

What serious problem has plagued me isn’t global warming, the economy or anything relevant. It’s that I’m a lonely middle-aged widow who doesn’t want to date or get married but wants, uh, the benefits of being married, to put it politely. Not just the physical benefits but the emotional ones, I miss them. And I don’t want to lose my autonomy, identity or settle for someone. To be honest I haven’t had to worry about it, I am not turning away suitors, which is a relief in one way but a blow to the old ego. I’ve been going over this for two years, declaring I enjoy being alone,  which I do overall, then admitting it can be lonely. 

I should be used to this. I should have dealt with it, faced the reality of being a widow and accepted it with grace and wisdom, resigned myself to my situation. Then just got on with life, making the most of that independence. 

I have, a little. I ‘ve traveled, and I started walking in the evenings but that’s about it. I feel like I should be further along the road, ignoring those fits of loneliness when they come and flick them away. I’m hoping I can get there and finally make peace with myself and my life. 

This July will be three years Jerry has been gone. The first year was mostly numb, then it was weird, getting used to this new reality. I think of older widows I knew and how serene and content they seemed. I’m hoping I can get to that place. 

Old 

It comes as a surprise to me that I’m old. I don’t feel old, and have a hard time seeing myself as being old when I think about the future.

One reason is denial. I am not old because there are people older than me; they are old, not me. As long as there are Baby Boomers cluttering up the place I am not old. And I just learned Lenny Kravitz is older than me.

Being old now is different from being old in the past. Not that many people got to be old, but the previous century changed a lot of that. Just referencing “the previous century ” makes me feel a little old then I remind myself this century is less than 20 years old, so chill. Not old, not me, not yet.

This was made clear a few weeks ago, from of all things,  watching All in the Family, a 70’s sitcom. 

As a little kid watching this show Archie and Edith were Old, with a capital O. He was balding and gray, and always bringing up World War II. She was frumpy and absent minded, confused by new and modern things. So I had this image of them as practically elderly and even watching the show with my dad now they are still old. 

The high school reunion episode blew my mind. Edith was invited to her 30th year high school reunion and Archie, who didn’t graduate, didn’t want to go with her. I did some math and realized they were 48 years old. I’m older than both of them were at that time. That was what 48 looked like in the 70’s. Mind blown. 

To me being old is being sick, weak and afraid. I don’t want to be any of those things and I fight against it. I am aware my mother died when she was 7 years older than I am now. Jerry was 52 when he died, but had the physical condition of an 80 year old. So I walk, occasionally do yoga and try to take the stairs when possible. I did the Memorial race thinking about people I know who couldn’t do this, people my age, some older and some younger and I felt grateful to be there. I hope to be active and healthy as long as possible and to kick diabetes’s ass for years to come. 

The only time I feel old is when I look in the mirror. I wonder who is that old hag  and what happened. There are bags under my eyes no matter how much sleep I got the night before. 

I still have reservations about plastic surgery, but procedures like injections are not too extreme. I’m vain enough for it. I may be old but darned if I’m going to look it.

I don’t intend to be dowdy and timid like Edith. Once a woman is 40 she is supposed to cut her hair, to wear neutral colors and flats. I did not, except for the flats but my low heeled shoes of choice are sneakers. Always have been, I  still wear jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. I’m beyond wanting to impress anybody.  I still have long hair, dyed not my natural color. I am quiet but will assert myself and make my presence known, if needed. It’s a strange thing, I couldn’t do it when I was younger but now I can. 

I am much the same person I’ve always been. Conventional wisdom says people get more conservative as they get older but my politics haven’t really changed, the main difference is I don’t freak out as much. After all this time it takes a lot to shock me.  Gossip, supposedly a hobby of old ladies, does not interest me. A lot of stuff that old ladies are supposed to like, such as sewing, crafting and quilting, is not for me, mostly because I lack the skills but I don’t really care to acquire them either.

Yet there’s so much I still want to see and do. I want to travel more, to go to places I’ve never been,  I want to see the new Wonder Woman movie, read the new Neil Gaiman book, read a lot of books really. I want to do another half marathon, maybe more than one. I want to learn to make spring rolls. I want to see if this colonizing Mars thing really happens, and see if a woman becomes president. I want to see the Wings win at least another Stanley Cup, that alone may take years.

Old people retreat from new ideas and technology, change is the enemy. Stuff was better back in the day, no matter what. Perhaps I am getting there because music was better way back in my youth. I like Art Deco and movies from the silent era to the 50’s.  But I don’t fear or hate change the way old people do. I admit I am ticked off at Microsoft over Windows 10, trying to make people pay for Word and Excel–that’s a rant in itself. Maybe I am old after all. Crap. 

At least I haven’t yelled at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn.

I think Maurice puts it well. From one of those old movies I like.

Contradiction

A lot of life, my life anyway, is a contradiction. I want to be strong and fit but I don’t want to do anything that requires effort. One new contradiction has appeared, like a zit you notice when you are brushing your teeth in the morning. An irritating surprise you hope no one notices, that you hope goes away soon.

After my husband passed away nearly 3 years ago I knew I’d be alone the rest of my life. I could not, cannot imagine ever dating or getting married again. The idea repulsed me at first, and just considering the idea made me feel guilty and odd. I still feel it is not for me, and I’m okay with being alone and celibate. I am not ecstatic about it but comfortable and peaceful with it.

I acknowledge that I am a solitary person, with my peculiarities and I’m old enough to know what makes me content, to surround myself with books, music and those things that I enjoy. I don’t worry that my likes or opinions are not typical for a middle-aged woman in this part of the world. I’m finally comfortable with my weirdness and frankly don’t give a flying rat’s butt anymore.

Part of being deviant is being alone, having no desire to “get out there.” Some widows do date, want to date, have romantic relationships and even get married again. I think most people want this for widows, to restore balance and in some cases, for economic reasons. I have nothing against widows living their lives and if dating is part of it, fine, but it’s not for me.

So I am an old weird broad, and accept that I’m alone. I did consider what my options would be and they were not good. As an old woman my dating pool would be old farts. Likely boring old dudes who want someone to take care of them. Schedule their doctor’s appointments, do their laundry, clean and cook, be a nurturer and someone who essentially puts her needs aside for his. That is not me, I don’t want to take care of some cranky sick old man but hey, fortunately there are women who do. Some will even do it for free, if marriage or living together (shacking up, as my aunt used to say) is offered. I’m honest and admit I’m not little and cute so that’s another reason I’m not a good candidate. I am selfish, I enjoy my freedom and independence. I haven’t had the luxury of being allowed to be selfish for long and admit it can be wonderful to do what I want without having to consider someone else. No way I’m giving this up, not for servitude in exchange for economic security (if I was lucky) or being part of a couple so I had something to talk and gripe about.

The main reason though is I had a good husband. He was kind to me, loved me, was a good father and a good man. He put up with my weird little self, even enjoyed some of it and tolerated the rest without much complaint. I would not find someone else as kind and decent who would cherish my weird introverted personality and put up with me, that I could put up with in turn. My husband was a jealous man, though he never had anything to worry about and if I did date I’d worry he would be upset.

So I’ve established my position and reasons why I’m alone and plan to stay this way. Now for the contradiction.

I want a companion, someone to lie in bed next to me at night, to talk with, to go places with, that I can depend on, who is interesting, has my back, laughs at my jokes, does nice things for me because it makes us both happy, that I can do nice things for as well, that I can trust and lean on whenever I need it. Not much really. Oh, and thinks I’m pretty neat. And this extraordinary person needs to be male because I’m straight. It would be a bonus if he looked and sounded like Dave Gahan.


Yet I don’t want a romantic type relationship, don’t want to date or {shudder} meet people.

The next inevitable step is to get a cat. Already have one and neither of us wants another cat.

Thanks fanpop.com for the great picture and youtube user Eddu Sounds for the video