From Chemo to Canapés

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I remember being handed a phone, at 5:00 am on a Saturday morning.  I heard my youngest daughter’s voice saying,  “Okay, Mom… don’t freak out.”  

The Moms out there already know that the very next thing I did was to initiate a “Total Freak Out” count down sequence, because according to “The Mother’s Guide to Appropriate Reactions,” that was and still is the correct protocol for this particular situation.

Half asleep, but already in moderate panic mode, the next words I heard her say were “cancer” and “hospital.”

That was all I needed to hear.

Time stopped.

My body went totally numb and tingly.

A nightmare had begun.

Hearing that your 30 year old daughter has ovarian cancer is a shock under any circumstances, but I was on holiday in the US and she was alone in England.  I may as well have been on the moon, because we were light years apart and I felt totally hollow and useless.

The next few days are now a blur, but thank goodness they are well documented. As I sat on the plane from Miami to London, less than 24 hours after receiving that call, I wrote my very first Blog post and “rantingsofamadwomenblog” was born.

The nightmare began in July and it wasn’t until February that I began to stir.  My daughter had undergone 3 cycles of chemotherapy (more than 20 sessions) and a major surgery. And although she wore the bald badge of cancer, she was feeling strong, confident and talking about going back to work!  Need I add, “Much to my dismay?”

She wanted her life to go “back to normal.”  She wanted to put all this stupid cancer stuff behind her and just move on.  To her, it was like it never happened. It was just an insignificant blip on the radar.

I too would have loved to have forgotten about this nightmare!  However, isn’t it true that nightmares have a way of lingering?  All of the horrifying, disturbing, little details; lying just below your consciousness.  They swirl around in your head undetected and then pop out and scare you to death, when you least expect them.

So, for me… the nightmare continued even as I lingered between sleep and reality.  I found myself, on High Alert, Defcon 1, Guard Duty.  How I ever let this happen in the first place was a question that would haunt me forever, but I damn sure would NEVER let anything like this happen again.

Days turned into weeks; weeks turned into months; and months have now, unbelievably turned into one and a half years and all is well.

I remain optimistically cautious.  I say my prayers, keep my fingers crossed and barter regularly with God.  So far he has kept up His end of the deal,and He hasn’t collected yet, so I’m still here.

Last Friday evening at about 5:30 pm the phone rang.  I don’t like when the home phone rings, because it rings so infrequently my fist thought is,  “OMG, what’s happened?!”  I hesitantly answered, “Hello.”  The first thing I heard, coming down the other end of the line was an unearthly, yet joyous, shrieking sound.  I then heard my daughter’s voice saying, “Mom, I’m engaged!!!” 

That was all I heard.

Time stood still.

My body went totally numb and tingly.

A Mother’s dream had begun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Face of Pancreatic Cancer

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It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming…  I mean she had “Pancreatic Cancer,”  for goodness sake!

It was going to happen eventually and by all accounts it should have happened long before now!  Four and a half years is long time, especially for this type of cancer where 74% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis!  So… on the whole I’d say, she did amazingly well!

Don’t get me wrong she went through HELL every step of the way, but to an outsider’s eye it seemed that she managed the disease, her treatment and all of the setbacks with little concern and a whole lot of grace and dignity.

I remember receiving the IM from her…  We were both still working at American Express, she was in Florida and I was here in Brighton.  There was an urgency in this one line instant message.  It simply said:  “Can we talk?”  

We were talking within the hour.  She was as warm and friendly as always, but distracted, as we exchanged proverbial greetings.  When the niceties were done, I heard her voice change and become quite serious as she said, “Meliss, I wanted to talk to you because I’ve been diagnosed with…  pancreatic cancer.”  

The words hit me like a ton of bricks. Time stopped.  I could not speak for what seemed like ages. I just sat there, staring at the phone in shock and in absolute, total disbelief of what I had just heard.

My brain raced as I thought things like:  Wait!!!  You don’t smoke or drink. You didn’t do drugs or have a risky lifestyle. You’re younger than me!  No, wait… you’re a Mom and my friend and a Christian!  How could this possibly be?  

She broke the silence by saying, “I know that’s what your brother had, so I wanted to talk to you about what’s it’s “really” going to be like.”

How do you even begin to explain to a good friend; a woman you’ve known and loved for 13 years,  what (you believe) it’s going to be like living with (and most likely dying with) pancreatic cancer?

Charlie had died 3 years before and walking on that path with him nearly pushed me over the edge. She knew all of this.  She and I had sat in the lunch room or during our Saturday Morning  breakfasts and talked about all of it.  She had listened to my stories and watched as I flew back and forth from Ft Lauderdale to Boston tying to help him and manage his treatments.  She had seen first hand, the toll it took on me and had heard all the horrible stories about how “it” was ravaging his body.  She also knew that he had lasted only 9 months.

How could I possibly sweeten this bitter pill?

I have no idea what I actually said to her during that conversation. If I know me, I would have been honest with her, but probably added sprinkles of optimism, like; “Maybe they caught it early!”  “Maybe you’ll be eligible for the Whipple surgery! ”

I saw her only several times in the past few years, but we exchanged emails, phone calls,  Skyped occasionally and kept up with each other on Facebook.

In all this time since her diagnosis, I never once heard her ask “Why me?”  There was never an utterance of anything close to what I would call a complaint.  She openly accepted that this was her fate and she was going to live her life on her terms and to fullest for however long she had left.  …and by God she did.

She was always well informed and realistic about her prospects, but exuded a faith and hope that left even me believing that if anyone could beat this, it would be her!

And you know what, she did!  She beat all the odds.  She made the Medical Journals. She kept Oncologists around the country, scratching their heads!

She had a full and beautiful life for a lot longer than anyone ever expected.  And in the time she had she touched the lives and hearts of so many people. She was a beacon of light and hope and she generously passed that onto others who were struggling with the same disease.  She was authentic and brave, loving and strong.

She was truly one of a kind and I miss her.

Godspeed Ava.

Thank you for being such a good friend to me and for showing me what grace, hope and faith looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#glennfrey

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I know it’s stupid! Totally irrational. I don’t usually react to news like this… like this! I didn’t know the man; never even met him, but the news of his death has left me feeling numb, yet absolutely grief stricken.

Not in an obsessed, starry eyed, “I love you Glenn” sort of way, but to me, his death (more than the others) reinforces a disturbing trend… the heroes of my youth are dying and with them goes a little piece of me.

The Eagles came together in 1971. At that time, I was an idealistic, impressionable, angry 17 year old “hippie.” The “Summer of Love” had long since ended and the world was fast becoming a truly fucked up place. JFK, Bobby, and Martin and been murdered and with them went all of our hope and optimism. Integration may have been the law, but inequality and hatred of Blacks was still the general feeling across the country. The Attica Prison riot resulted in the deaths of 10 hostages and 29 inmates. Jim Morrison was found dead in a bath tub in Paris and Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia. (We had lost Janis the year before, tragic!) The Vietnam war was still raging on and in Washington DC, 15,000 soldiers and police arrested more than 7,000 people protesting the war. … Richard Nixon was President. “Nuff said.”

When The Eagles dropped their first album (Eagles) in 1972, I was 18 and living on my own in a small one bedroom apartment, on the wrong side of town. Disagreements about who I could and could not date and unreasonable curfews made it clear that I needed “to split.” This album gave us songs like “Take it Easy,” “Witchy Woman” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” What was not to like? The sound was fresh, the lyrics were timeless and the harmonies… perfection.

This was the best time of life! I had come into my own and was now “allowed” to hang with my two older brothers! This was momentous! (Before now, I was thought to be the “bratty little sister” and was prohibited from coming within a certain number of feet from either of them.) Things were now much more “laid back” between us… we hung out, shared music, had a drink together (the drinking age had been temporarily dropped to 18 in 1971!) and every once in a while we’d “burn one.”

The Eagles music had a huge impact on my generation from the early 1970’s until 1980, when the band imploded. By the time they got back together in 1993, my brothers had moved on both literally and musically; but when the Hell Freezes Over album was released, I fell right back in love with them and their music.

I am grateful that I have had the privilege of seeing The Eagles in concert at least 5 if not 6 times. The most recent was in 2014 when Nick and I travelled up to Birmingham to see them and they did not disappoint.

I get it now… I see that this numbness and grief is simply a byproduct of me subconsciously struggling with my own mortality.  …but the fact remains, Glenn Frey is dead and with him goes a small part of me and my youth.

Take it easy Glenn… take it easy.

Jimmy

WAR AND CONFLICT BOOK ERA: KOREAN WAR/AID & COMFORT

A couple of years ago I reconnected with a childhood friend on Facebook. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in about 40 years, so it was really great when we connected.

We had never been really close, as there were 6 years and a whole gender gap between us, but we were both from “Bell Hill,” and we lived in the same “3 decker” for about 15 years, so there was (and still is) a strong bond and friendship. I love that he and I share some of the same childhood memories!

I had always had a soft spot in my heart for him and his 3 brothers.  They were all a bit younger than me so (of course) I mothered them and tried to boss them around a lot, as we ran “free range” through the neighbourhoods of Bell Hill, Green Hill Park and Bell Pond.

My friend’s father, I recall, was an all around “nice guy.”  He and I had a unique bond as I believe I was the daughter he never had and he was like this really nice Uncle, who lived on the 3rd floor and was always happy, smiling and upbeat (unlike my own Dad!)  He was also eager to help anybody with pretty much anything.

(I just remembered that he always called me “Liss.”  Never Melissa, always Liss.  I can still hear him say “Hi Liss,” with a big smile on his face, whenever we’d meet in the hall or side yard.)     

If he was ever angry or downhearted, I didn’t see it.  If he ever got mad or yelled at the boys, either I wasn’t around, or I have blocked it out as it would have been so out of character for him.  I simply remember him as a warm, loving, kind, “happy go lucky,” nice guy.

So it shocked me when I learned that the man being consoled, in the photo above, is none other than my friend’s Dad, a friend of my family; our neighbour for the first 21 years of my life:  Jimmy Nozzolillo!

I guess it’s because I was just a stupid kid, that I never realised or thought about the fact that Jimmy, had had a whole life before marrying Esther, becoming our neighbour and having the four boys!  Little did I know, he had been a soldier, in a war on the other side of the wold. .. and he had felt loss, pain, loneliness and despair.

The photograph speaks for itself.  It’s strong and moving and I’m mesmerised by it for many different reasons.

To me it conveys the hardship and horror that must exist in all wars.  I see the anguish and pain of a man who is perhaps at his lowest, absolute breaking point. He is in hell and he’s hit rock bottom. He is overcome by loss and sorrow.

More than that however, I see unlimited compassion; true friendship; a whole lot of empathy and the most beautiful and basic human emotion of all, absolute, unquestionable love.

How beautiful.

The reason for my rant today is that I believe I’m being called on to publicly acknowledge and honour this lovely man from my past.  I think I’m suppose to share this photograph with the people in my circles.  You see, oddly, this photo keeps presenting itself to me again and again in the most wonderful ways and unusual sources.

It has unexpectedly popped up at least 5-6 times over the past few years.  I see it on various websites, Facebook Pages, Blogs and in newspaper articles that I am reading or researching.  Whenever I least expect it, I’m blessed with this beautiful and moving image, of a man who I had the distinct pleasure of knowing;  and who’s son I have been lucky to reconnect with, after many years.

Every time I’m gifted with this photograph, I send the source to my friend just to let him know that someone else, somewhere in this world, has been moved by this timeless and very  poignant photo of his Dad.

So today my rant is a tribute… a tribute to a truly lovely man (who is unfortunately no longer with us) but has left behind this very touching image, reminding us all that we are but human; yes we all have our own fears, frailties and faults… but we also a capacity to endure, conquer and carry on.

God bless you Jimmy…  tell my Dad I love him.

 

 

Boldly Blue

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Back on November 22, 2015, I wrote a piece about feeling a bit “melancholy.”

In the post, I talked about being a “pathetic, brooding, lugubrious, sad sack” and how all my friends would be better off not calling on me, until the “crocuses were in bloom!”  

It was a fun, harmless piece, who’s aim was simply to express my feelings and empathise with anyone else out there, feeling the first pangs of the “Winter Blues.”  

After all, misery, does love company, right?

Looking back at my words, I’m unsure if I inadvertently planted the seeds of a “self fulfilling prophecy,” or if my knowledge and understanding of myself has really become acutely keen and accurate.  Is it possible that with age, maturity and experience I actually “know” myself better than even I had realised?

Either way, the words I wrote back then… were right on the money!

It did begin as a “subtle shutdown,” but now, in the dead of January (the most horrible of months!) I find that I have transitioned into full blown Blue!  I am screaming at the universe; wondering daily if my life has any meaning or value; and slowly (but surly) becoming a winter recluse!

I have shed the thin shawl of melancholy and find myself wrapped up tightly in the thick, warm, wooly cloak of Blue! 

This rant is not an attempt to gain empathy or concern.  I don’t need company, comforting or pity…  to the contrary, I am boldly and unabashedly embracing the “Blue!”  The plan is to slowly and methodically explore all of it’s nooks and crannies and hopefully discover it’s source.  It’s rather exciting, if not a little scary, this inner journey into the Blue to learn more about ME and what makes me tick!

The one thing I do know about me is when things are going good; when I feel that all is right with the world, I have a tendency to start taking life (and my place in it) for granted. I become stagnant and stop questioning my core beliefs and motives.  I lose my convictions and become complacent. When things are bright and sunny, I’m lured into a false sense of security and the mirror reflects only the me I want to see.

However, when “Blue” takes over, I question everything!  I examine and scrutinise my life; my choices; my words; my actions; my motives… nothing is left unexamined. “No stone is left unturned.” The mirror reflects a stranger… who I’m trying to get to know.

Blue is a time of reflection, self discovery and enlightenment. Blue will lead me to the truth and highlight what’s really important.  I’m not afraid of the Blue(it’s the grey/black scares the shit out of me, but we’re nowhere near that!)

If you haven’t heard from me, don’t worry; I’m fine, really.  I’m skating, aimlessly on a sea of Blue; learning more about me.

It would be good to know however… that when things start to thaw, you’ll be there. Please be there.

Boldy Blue,

Rantingsofamadwomen

 

 

Boots and a Bathrobe

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Okay… let me just say, I look NOTHING like the woman above!

First of all my boots are lace up, ankle high, shit brown, suede combat boots; with faux fur peeking out from around the top.  They’re new.  I picked them up in an after Christmas sale, on a French shoe website.  They were bargain.  Sorry, I digress… I’m wearing my new boots around the house today to break them in, make sure they fit.

Since I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with my day, I haven’t  actually gotten dressed yet… in real clothes anyway;  hence the bathrobe.

My bathrobe is very similar to the one above, except it’s red, faded, worn and a bit drab.  {So not at all similar to the one above actually!}  One of the belt loops has torn off, so when the belt isn’t tied around my waist, which is often, it looks like I have a long red leash dragging behind me on the  floor, picking up all the dust kitties.

I was quite content wandering around the house this morning in my worn robe and new combat boots, until I felt a slight pang in my chest.

You know the one; an incredibly sharp, very intense pain; felt primarily on the left side of your chest.  It is so strong it instantly grabs 100% of your attention and sends you into “fight or flight mode!

If you’ve experienced this pain you’re sure it’s “the big one.”  You see your life flash before your eyes and think of a million things you haven’t done yet.

If you have experienced this particular pain, you too may have noticed it is often felt just before a very loud, audible, uncontrollable belch! 

It’s also superseded by the sounds of your inner demons laughing aloud and yelling “Psych” as you look around, very red faced and embarrassed.  {For you young ones, “psych” (or sike/syke) is a 1980’s slang word that was used after you had played a joke on someone or said something that totally “psyched them out.”} 

These days my body is constantly playing tricks on me and making me feel like an old fool, so this type of thing normally doesn’t bother me, but today…   Well, I must say, the thought of being found, dead on the floor, wearing nothing but an old, worn-out bathrobe,  ladened with dust kitties and a pair of (albeit cute) shit brown combat boots, has me totally freaked out!!!

This is not the way I intend to go out! 

I pictured young, strong, handsome paramedics breaking into the flat to find me lying on the floor, dead, dressed like a character from Ken Kesey’s novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” (You young ones, look it up and read a book once in awhile!) and that was simply not acceptable!

So, on this day, January, 5th, 2016, I have officially made a New Year’s resolution…

I will get up each morning and before doing anything else, I will get myself dressed like I’m going somewhere special.  I will be fucking ready for whatever the day brings…  even death.   

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Empty Chairs

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When I was a child there would be so many people around our house for Christmas dinner,  we’d have to have two tables to seat everyone. The table where the adults would sit and a second table, just for kids!

There would never be enough chairs for everyone who came to dinner.  Some unlucky soul would have eat their entire Christmas meal while perched on top of the pantry step stool, normally used only to get things down from the very top shelf.  And at least two kids, the smallest ones, had to share a chair!

This time of year, I usually spend at least a few minutes, imagining what my perfect Christmas dinner, would look like today.

A large well lit room; decorated to perfection with Christmas bobbles from all over the world.  Each one carefully chosen and strategically placed.  A fire, crackling in the large stone fireplace at the far end of the room.  There’s a faint smell of flowers and evergreen mixing with the delicate aromas of freshly baked bread, roasted potatoes… and “Mmmm, is that cinnamon, I smell?”

All of my family and friends are here.  Everyone is happy and smiling, with not a care in the world. They warmly greet each other (and me) as they enter the warm, cozy dinning room.  “Cheers,” I hear over the sound of glasses clinking together, behind me.  “Merry Christmas!”  “Nice to see you!” Hugs, smiles and kisses abound.  Why shouldn’t they, it’s been a whole year since this imaginary gathering has taken place and everyone is eager to sit down, catch up and dig in!

It’s at this point in my fantasy that the problem begins…  it’s here I begin to choke on reality.  I feel my smile fade, as I realise I have more chairs than people.

It started many years ago, very slowly.  For a long period of time it was just the one empty chair.  It stuck out like a sore thumb and it made everyone sad.  We all tried to pretend it wasn’t there and we smiled through the pain… but it was there and it was empty.

Then several years later, there was another.  Two empty chairs… it almost seemed more appropriate somehow.

Through the years, I’ve become numb to the increasing number of empty chairs around my imaginary table, or at least I thought I had. However, I have to say, this year, noticing that I have more chairs than people, rocked me to the core.

It was the realisation that my family (and circle of friends) is not growing at the same rate of speed with which it seems to be declining… that I found a bit frightening!  It truly was a sobering thought.

All in all, I guess there’s not much I can do about this phenomenon… I’m not imagining it…  It really is happening.

I can only continue to set the table;  welcome my guests; enjoy their company while they continue to visit and I am able to host them.

” Come in, welcome…  please take a chair!”   

 

 

 

Chemistry 101

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It was a school day, December 1964 and I was rummaging through the house looking for my Christmas presents.

Since my brothers were both in High School, they no longer came home for lunch… so everyday I had about 45 minutes and the whole place to myself!

Time was of the essence because everything had to look totally untouched by the time I went back to school and it would take me a several minutes to make and eat a bologna sandwich and a bit longer to open and heat a can of  Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup.

I would look in the obvious place; the back of Mom and Dad’s closet.  With a flashlight in hand, crawling on the floor over shoes, boots and umbrellas, I saw the edges of shopping bags, way  back, in the corner!  Eureka!

I was overcome with a feeling of despair, because as I went though each bag there was NOTHING for me!  A sweater with flowers on it; that must be for Aunt Honey.  An Old Spice aftershave set, this one with a shaving brush; that was definitely for Uncle Charlie.  Two pair of “No Iron” slacks… what the heck was Dacron?  A couple button down collared shirts, a pair of slippers, a nightgown, some pipe tobacco!

This was bullshit!

I put everything back, exactly as it had been found and crawled backwards out of the closet, straightening the shoes, boots and umbrellas.

After quickly checking the time, I was back in Mom and Dads room.  “Ahhhh, I’m so stupid!” There it was… right in front of me; the huge double bed, with all that room underneath!

As I lifted up the corner of the cream coloured, chenille bedspread and pointed the flashlight into the dark space.  I could see the caramel brown colour of a very large cardboard box.  Wait!  “Holy crap Batman,” there were several cardboard boxes! What a goldmine!  My mind was racing, I was running out of time, but had to get at least a glimpse at what was inside these mysterious, unmarked boxes.

I carefully lifted the flaps on the largest, long rectangle  box.  I removed the white tissue paper, and found a wooden rack, securely holding numerous bottles, beakers and test tubes!

I pulled out a second box and inside found a blue metal case with two clip locks on the side.  I unlocked the clips, opened the case and found row after row of little brown, labelled bottles with black screw tops.  Holy Moly! These were “chemicals,” real chemicals!

This was a real chemistry set!  Not a little kid, “toy” chemistry set, like the ones you see on TV, but a real, possibly dangerous, chemistry set!

What a find!  This stuff had to be mine!  My brothers were 16 and 17, way too old for this!  …and besides they were getting Dacron, “No Iron” slacks!

Wow! Me a scientist.  I had never thought about it, but sure, why not?  Why couldn’t I be a famous scientist and like Marie Curie or some other woman scientist who’s names escape me at that moment, but why not me!  I could save the world; cure cancer; the possibilities were endless.

I carefully packed everything back into the boxes; pushed  each one of them back into the very centre of the under-bed space; made sure the bedspread was free of creases or wrinkles and set off for school.

The weeks prior to Christmas were always long and maddening, but this year each day seemed to last like a week! It felt like Christmas would NEVER arrive.  I went to bed on Christmas Eve at about 7:30 because I couldn’t wait for my new life as a famous Scientist to begin.  I fantasised about working in the kitchen, with the benson burner flame heating up a thick blue liquid.  I’d have my safety goggles on, mixing dangerous chemicals and warning my brothers to “Stay back,” so that the thick, billowing blue smoke didn’t get into their unprotected eyes!

Christmas morning I woke up about 5:00am and tried to wake my brothers, as I had done for the previous 8 or 9 years.  This year they were totally disinterested in getting up…   Perhaps they had found the “No Iron” Dacron slacks and lost interest. .

No matter, I went into the living room, plugged the Christmas tree lights in and the whole room started to glow with the beautiful, warm, muted light only a coloured, glass bulb can give off.

I started going through the beautifully wrapped packages;  “To Aunty Honey,”  “To Dad,” “To Bunky,” “To Greg.”  Finally, “To Lissa,” about damn time!   …but hey, wait… this was a small, cardboard box like the ones you get at Denholms and find clothes in!!!

I can’t remember what was even in that box, or any of my other packages either.  I only remember being surprised and disappointed when I didn’t find a single test tube, microscope side, bottle, or beaker.

It was so frustrating because I couldn’t even ask Mom and Dad what had happened to the chemistry set that I had found that day.  I couldn’t ask;  “Where did the boxes go?” “Who got all that cool stuff?” “How am I supposed to become a famous scientist, now?”  I just kept my mouth shut.

As the years went by I eventually forgot about the chemistry set.  I stopped sneaking around the house looking for my presents. I even stopped waking up at the crack of dawn and running into the living room.

It wasn’t until my mother was in the hospital, dying from cancer, that I finally got the courage to ask, “Mom…. what happened to that chemistry set that I should have gotten for Christmas when I was about 10?”

It took her a few minutes to remember, but then she smiled and asked how I knew about it in the first place!  I had to come clean and admit to my pre-Christmas snooping!  We both laughed, and she explained that her and Dad had decided I was too young for it and that they were afraid I’d blow up the house.

So much for me becoming a famous scientist!

I became me instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Invisible

invisable

The target audience of this rant is women.  Not all women, just those women “of a certain age.”

You know who you are.  If the words “of a certain age” made the hair on the back of your neck stand up,  this rant is for you!

Is is just me, or do you too feel invisible?

I never considered myself a narcissist or a woman who required an undo amount of attention (although, I admit, I’ve never shy’d away from the spotlight by any means!), but the past several years, I’ve begun questioning my very existence!

It’s not just the way people on the street don’t bother giving way to me and more times than not,  they just walk right into me; it’s not caused by those people in Waitrose who reach right across me to fill their plastic bag  with apples, without a word;  it’s not even based on the fact that when I hold a door  open for someone, they walk right past me without even a glance in my general direction.

No… although these things certainly don’t help with my feelings of invisibleness, it goes much deeper.

I believe I’m invisible because I am no longer valuable as a woman.

Let’s face it… my baby making days are well over!  My  eggs (even if there are one or two that got left behind) are way past their sell by date!  And goodness knows we have enough non compos mentis people out there in this crazy world, without my tired, old eggs getting fertilised and maturing!

My innate, maternal instincts seem to have noticeably diminished.  Although I love children and babies, I cringe at the sound of a crying toddler; I no longer think children with green slim, running down their tiny little faces, are cute;  and I find the thought of changing a “dirty” diaper, most unappealing!

“Strike One.”  I am no longer seen as a Mother Earth, Madonna, Goddess of Fertility and Life Force figure.

Being a child of the 60’s , I did my part to help drive the “sexual revolution” forward. (You’re welcome, it was my pleasure!)  And I was once seen as a somewhat sensual, if not sexual creature. (Okay, stop laughing!)  It wasn’t that long ago (Or was it?)  that I was still able to turn a head or two,  (sorry, no pun intended),  … but alas, I’m aware that my… ummm, shall we say “zippity do da,” has got up and left!

Nowadays, I’m not particularly well known for my sexual prowess-ness. My hair is dull and some weird tone of white and silver combined.  My face shows signs of wear and tear and my body parts seem to have a mind of their own!  It’s like bits and pieces of me are constantly moving around, searching for their final resting place!  Nothing is where it used to be and I have come to truly believe that gravity is the strongest, most powerful force ever!

“Strike Two” –  I am no longer viewed as a temptress, a femme fatale, or a  seductress.

There was a time when I was valued, desired and perhaps even revered for my skills, knowledge and experience in the world of business and finance. I stood with the best of them; those courageous, but weary, middle managers who were pushed, pulled and ultimately flattened by the equal forces felt from those above and those below.

These were the good times…  well, maybe they were just okay times, but at least I was seen. I was not invisible.  I was viewed as someone to be reckoned with. I was someone’s competition.

“Strike Three” –  I am no longer contributing to the bottom line.  I’m not  an individual contributor; a leader; a player; a cog in the system; a brick in the wall.    

All of these things and more have slowly, but surely, made me invisible.

I may not yet look like your stereotypical picture of an old lady, but in the eyes of society, I definitely fall into this dreaded category!  I’m just some old lady who is no longer needed, wanted and perhaps no longer even relevant.

Well, I have something to say about that… FUCK YOU society, because this old lady ain’t going down without a fight!

If you bump into me in the street, be prepared to be bumped right back!  Or at least scolded about your bad behaviour and poor manners!  If you reach  across me in Waitose, like I’m not even standing there, you will find yourself on the wrong end of my best “stink eye!”

And to all of you young, sexy, confident women out there who sometimes look at me with distain, like I’m a useless relic from the past…  Please know, if it weren’t for me and my girls, back in the day… If it weren’t for those of us who fought for your equality,  burned our bras, exercised our right to sexual freedom (without condemnation and judgement), and fought for your right to have control over your body, your world might be a very different place!

So the next time you see an old lady out and about…  be sure to give her the respect, admiration and approval that she deserves.  She’s been there and has probably done that.  She may be fading, but she is not inviable. She’s important, relevant, experienced and in her own, very unique way, she is wise beyond her years.

Don’t look through her… see her.  For she is your future.

Melancholy Moment

rain and trees

I’m usually a very “upbeat” person.

I tend to see the glass as half full. I look for the silver lining.  I truly believe things could always be worse…. but for some reason, at precisely this time of year, most every year, I start to become noticeably, melancholy.

Just as most people are becoming filled with the magical spirit of the upcoming holidays, I feel myself beginning to withdraw and wither.  Like the the trees outside the window, I feel myself unwillingly shedding all of my light, beauty and vibrancy; and like the trees, I feel cold and exposed.

The days grow shorter, darker and colder; and the realisation that another year has almost passed, falls upon me like (as my Mom would say) a ton of bricks.  I begin to wonder;  What have I accomplished?  What have I done? Did I make  a mark on the world?  Did I do good?

Winter has always been (except when I lived in Florida, because there is no winter) a time of introspection and self assessment.  It begins as a subtle shutdown of myself to the outside world and ends up with me in a state of meltdown, screaming at the universe, begging for some small sign, that my life (up to this point) has had meaning and value.

There will be a reprieve, as the lights of Christmas temporarily illuminate my path and raise my spirits, but the bleakness will inevitably return in the new year and no doubt last until the first signs of spring.

As I get ready to publish this rant, I have to laugh, knowing that this particular post will most likely not get me a lot of invitations to holiday parties and get togethers!  I imagine that requests, for my presence at lunch or tea, may be few and far between…

*laughing*

Yes, perhaps it’s better best to leave this pathetic, brooding, lugubrious, sad sack to herself for awhile…  but please do call when the crocuses bloom!