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Sunday, March 24, 2013

OT: A bit sad

Please forgive me while I talk about life a bit, y'all. I am sad tonight. Nothing that I can do about it, and it will pass. I feel like talking about it, and yet I don't want to bother anyone with it. So I will put it here for whomever chooses to read it.

My stepfather turned 95 on Friday. Freaking ninety-five!! We drove out to his place yesterday to take him to dinner. He was happy to see us, making his usual jokes and not complaining at all, but I still ached for him. He's so feeble now, so stooped over, walks very slowly with a cane. It takes him a long time to get up and down, but he never asks for help. He is not supposed to drive anymore, but he still does once in a while. He had someone coming over a few times a week to help him out, but that didn't work out at all and now he's completely on his own again. He can't even take a bath anymore, which he used to love, because once he gets in the tub, he can't get himself back out. His eyes have gotten so bad, he can't read anymore -- something else he loved. What the hell kind of life is this?? He forces himself to eat, because he's never hungry anymore. He used to be a strong, strapping man of 6' 2" and about 180-190 pounds. Now he weighs 149. Christ... I used to weigh more than 149.

He misses my mother. I wish I could say the same, but truthfully, I do not. I miss who she was, but I said goodbye to that person years ago. I wish I felt some sort of connection to her, wanted something that was hers. But my mother and I never had the same taste in things; not in decor, not in clothes, not in jewelry or accessories. She wore pins and brooches and chunky beads; I like delicate necklaces and bracelets. She loved scarves; I don't get scarves, or how to wear them, at all.

When she was still somewhat lucid, she used to tell me, over and over, that she wanted me to have her pearls. I knew nothing of these pearls or what they looked like, but she kept talking about them and I knew it meant a lot to her that I should have them. However, she couldn't remember where she put them.

After she passed away and M was asking me if I wanted anything, I mentioned the pearls, but he knew nothing about them and had no idea where they were either. Recently, after she'd been gone for nine months, he finally found an old jewelry case high on a forgotten shelf. In it were several pairs of costume earrings and a few pins. And a double-strand choker of pearls.

So, he finally gave them to me this weekend. I waited to feel something; a thrill, a connection, a sense of continuation from mother to daughter, an eagerness to wear them myself.

I felt nothing. Sure, they're pretty. But they're not my style at all.

The clasp was intricate and complicated, and neither John nor I could get it open. So I wrapped the pearls up in a paper towel and put them in my purse. After we said good night and left, John promptly fell asleep in the passenger seat. I cried quietly for about a third of the 1-1/4 hour ride back home, making sure I didn't awaken him. I'm not sure why. I just felt so damn sad and sorry for my stepdad. But I didn't feel like talking about it; I needed to focus on the drive.

When we got home, John asked for the pearls and after playing with a clasp for a while, he finally got it open, and he immediately put them around my neck. Again, I waited to feel something. They were cold, very heavy and uncomfortable on my neck, and that was all. I couldn't wait to take them off.

This makes me sad. I have things of my father's that I love: some of his books, his poems, one of his Emmys, pictures. But nothing of my mother's connects me to her, emotionally. Not even those pearls.

As you might remember, a few months ago, my stepmother gave me a necklace that she'd worn for 50 years. I loved it from the first moment I saw it, and I feel such pride and joy in wearing it. She's not even related to me, and yet her piece of jewelry means more to me than my mother's. If my mom knew this, it would break her heart.

I guess it's a good thing that she's not here to know.

I wish it were different. But it isn't, and that's just how things go sometime. I can't conjure up a sentimentality I don't feel.

Anyway. I am seeing Mr. D tomorrow morning, same as last week. I don't even care about the schedule flip-flop. I need to see him, and sooner is better than later. My head is spinning on my shoulders and needs to be screwed back on.

Later this week, I will write up my answers to your questions. Meanwhile, it's not too late to post one, here.


  1. Your Dad is being very brave. Good luck.

  2. Seeing the people we care about age and have difficulties is really hard. Probably partly because it makes us think about our own mortality. This will probably make me sound awful, but I do not want to live that long. If I can't be able bodied or independent I'd rather let go.

  3. I can see how difficult this must sometimes be, Erica. It is good to read that your stepdad has maintained, in spite of things, such a degree of authenticity.
    And yes, however valuable the memories to your mum that you frequently share on this site, you may grave for something more physical to convey what she meant for you. Hug.

  4. You conveyed your emotions and pain eloquently.
    I'm so sorry I cannot give you a quiet hug.
    Would you please post a brief update after seeing Mr. D?
    I'm sure all of us would feel better if you are feeling better.


  5. Michael -- he is like that, always has been. I marvel at it.

    Lea -- if you're awful, then so am I. John and I argue about this; he says you make the best of it because you don't have a choice. I say you do.

    MrJ -- I do crave it. I guess I do have some mementoes, some things she'd given me. But I simply don't have that feeling of connection.

    Pam -- I certainly will write my usual post-session report. I know he will be good for me. Thanks.

  6. As I progress through life I have observed that it is a journey of incremental loss. My goal is to do my best to hold on to some level of relevance . Your sadness is an indicator of the depth with which you love. You are a good person.

  7. Anonymous -- thank you. I try to be, self-centeredness notwithstanding.

  8. Sad for you....hang in there, it is very difficult and you are so lovely. Hope tomorrow works out to calm you and hang in there.....sad times I know, have been there a few times already in life.
    Big hug of friendship and support.
    Always with love

  9. Really hard seeing loved ones like that.

    I hope you've had a wonderful morning with Mr.


  10. Sorry, hit publish before I had finished typing Mr. D.


  11. Erica,
    What you wrote about your stepfather, is exactly what happened with my grandfather. He missed my grandmother every moment of every day after she passed away. He recognized that his life was worthless when lost his ability to read because of the deterioration of his eyes, and he couldn't even hold a book anymore because of his arthritic fingers. He hobbled around as best he could until he felt and broke his hip; then he was only able to get around in a wheelchair. He prayed for death, but that release was slow in coming. He outlived my grandmother by 11 years and passed away at the age of 99.

    I wished I could feel more empathy, but I must be a horrible person too because as difficult as it was to see the elderly deteriorate, all I could think of was that I don't want to end up like that! But I probably will, and the idea scares me to death! And I'd better not outlive my husband, or there's going to be hell to pay. Seriously. Oh, no, I just teared up!

    I hope that when the time comes for your stepfather, he will go peacefully and without pain. And, no, you are not a horrible person at all. :-)

  12. I don't have anything wise for you. I just know that emotions are not right or wrong we can just express them well. You express yours well, kindly and with concern for others and yourself.
    You beat yourself a lot, having read your book it seems you always have done so. I do not think you deserve such treatment. If someone else showed such disrespect for your valid and appropriate feelings we would shout at them and you may very well tell them to sod off.
    You deserve kindness.

  13. Erica,

    I cannot offer advice for what you are feeling, just a big virtual hug.


  14. Ron -- thank you.

    Ronnie -- yes, it is hard. Just not the way a life should end. :-(

    Dana -- we do have a choice. It's just that society and the religious right don't condone it.

    Abby -- thank you. That's very kind of you to say and if I weren't already cried out, it would have brought tears.

    joey -- hugs are always good.

  15. Hi Erica -- After reading this i couldn't help but to feel sad :-( for you and your stepdad, Sending you big hug's, You are a WONDERFUL person :-)No emotion or feeling is right or wrong.I alway's say you can't feel something if it isn't there.I Love you,I am here for you :-)From naughty girl Jade

  16. I was very touched by what you wrote. It was very real and I have a sense of what it is to watch someone go and take too long. Both of my parents went fairly fast, still it was hard to see them go and become so feeble before hand. Neither one suffered a lot, though.

    We don't want anyone we know and love go though tough times when they can't do much anymore.

    I don't think you are a bad person because you don't have anything that connects you to your mother. It is unfortunate and happens that way sometimes and I don't believe there is any right or wrong to it. It just is.


  17. Bobbie Jo -- thank you. Believe me, if I could give him a peaceful, painless and loving delivery from this, I would. He doesn't want to be here anymore.

    As for my mother, I wish it were different. But it is what it is.