Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's That Night Again

My New Year's Eves as a kid were spent with just Mom and Dad and me, in front of the TV, watching Guy "Lumbago" as Dad called him. My brothers and sister were elsewhere, spending mysterious evenings I could only long for as a country girl on the farm.

The curse of teenagery hit. Some years I would crumble under the pressure of shame caused by not being "with" someone. Oh how it ached to be stuck at a New Year's Eve party and trying, me with my vacant lips at midnight, to look nonchalant. I couldn't even soak my embarrassment in booze. I'd never even had a drink of alcohol when I went to college. A true sheltered farm girl.

My twenties and thirties were party years. I still hated New Year's Eve parties. For me, they were even more contrived than the forced romance of Valentine's Day. I will never understand people yelling "Wooooooo!" at midnight. It's the turning of a calendar page. I get it. I get the symbolism. But I do not get the "wooooo!"

I went to Times Square once, against my will, to watch the festivities and to freeze in a drunken mass of people. It was 11 degrees. We were all herded into sectioned off pieces of street from 7:00 p.m. till the blasted ball dropped (along with the blasted balls of many men who had succumbed to the cold) at midnight. Some drunk chicks beside us pulled their pants down and peed in the street, while guys around them yelled (of course) "Wooooooooooooo!" I stood there miserable, in my special down hunting cap purchased earlier in the day, thinking once again "This is not the life for me. This is the wrong husband. I wish he had that noisemaker up his ass."

Better New Year's Eves came along in my forties. Much better. Cozy ones with great food and anticipation not of the coming year, but of the wee hours when I could sigh with relief that THIS is more like it. This man, this place, this feeling, this sleepy contentedness.

This year, at 49, my New Year's Eve is spent again, with an ache. Not the ache of the rejected teenager or the ache of a frozen face from a long 11 degree evening on the streets of New York. Tonight I ache for my mother, who is suffering mightily. Today, the last day of what has been a brutal year for our family, is the day she had to agree to put my dad into a nursing home. His care is too much for her to handle now. It is too much for any person, young or old, to handle. She is trying to face the stinging reality of giving Dad up to a place that is not home for him. Dad will be OK there, since he is not aware of where "home" is at this point. But she will have to navigate in a new place. A house that has become strange without him. For her, the nursing home 2 miles away must feel as though it's on the moon. He will not be with her at night, to cuddle.

She says she cannot complain, because she's had him all these years (68) and lots of people don't get that much time together. And she is not a complainer anyway. But the ache is enveloping her like a dusky coat too heavy to be worn, impossible to stand up in. I am 1800 miles from her, but her pain is my pain. All I wish for on this last night of 2008 is to be able to ease it for her.

I long for the nights of Dad tapping his foot to Guy Lombardo, and Mom laughing and saying "I'm not staying up for that crap!"

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Dad is doing much better today. I thank you humbly for your prayers.

The short version: The tests finally revealed not the flu, but a wicked urinary tract infection that had sapped every ounce of Dad's strength, given him a high fever, and dehydrated him. With I.V. fluids and antibiotics, he started to get some color back, and slowly, some strength. This morning he was asking his usual questions ("Do I live here?" etc.) and was coherent enough to be disgusted by the hospital scrambled eggs. All the questions had stopped yesterday, and Dad was too sick to even ask about the oxygen mask he was wearing.

He will remain in the hospital for at least another night. My brother stayed there with him last night, and my sister stayed with my mom, who was able for the first time in many months to get an 8-hour chunk of sleep. Getting up many times a night with Dad is a brutal endurance test for an 86-year-old woman. She is tough beyond belief, but extremely worn out.

So Dad is better, and I am praising God for that. But I'm also praising Him because BEFORE Dad was getting better, when things were very bleak, when I was packing my suitcase, I found a substantial amount of peace in accepting whatever the divine plan was. I know that may sound irritating and corny and Bible-thumpie. But it's true.

I am by no means firmly rooted in my belief. I would like to be, but I struggle with it, almost every waking hour, because it's become that central to my thoughts. The questions are always there, like neon balloon animals floating above my head. I'm just grateful that sometimes it feels like I get a sliver, a glimpse of "No, really. I'm in control. I'm God. You don't have to be."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Update on Dad

Yesterday the hospital sent him home, even though he was too weak to walk. The wisdom of a small town hospital. My nephew and a neighbor had to carry him back into Mom and Dad's condo.

Today he got worse, got a high fever, and is back at the hospital. He is even weaker. Cannot raise his head off the pillow, or lift a hand to scratch his face. My brother is there from Cincinnati, and my sister and my niece. I'm waiting to hear whether I should fly there tomorrow, or, God willing, he recovers and I'll go later on to be of help.

I keep telling myself this is all in God's hands, and in His timing. So I pray for grace and strength, especially for my mom. I would really like to see my dad again, but if he is ready to leave this life behind, I pray his transition is gentle.

Thanks for listening. I'm blogging mainly to keep sane right now.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Prayer Request

My mom has had the flu for three days, and was just getting better today when my dad got it. He is very sick and too weak to walk, and has just been taken to the hospital. I am 1800 miles away and going insane.

If you have a minute to send up a prayer, could you please send one up for my parents?

I'm especially worried about how alarmed my dad will be by the new surroundings.

Sorry to have such a bleak Christmas Day post.



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snark-Free Christmas Post

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas, and peace for the New Year. Peace in your heart, peace in your family, peace in your health, peace in your household, peace about your finances, peace with your friends and especially your enemies, peace in your travels, both inward and outward, peace when you recall the past, and peace when you look forward and around the corner.

I wish you peace even in your grief. I know many people who are struggling through their first Christmas without someone they loved, and still love, with an ache that never stops rumbling. Real love never DOES stop rumbling. I wish this peace especially for my sister.

I wish you all a grace step in your heart with each prayer you send upward, a tiny moment that assures you there is a recipient on the other end.

I wish you the peace of Christ, the one and only Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Call It "Temptation."

You may be acquainted with my never-ending less-than-successful attempts to downsize. And you may be asking, "How could Candy STILL be struggling with that crap in her house? Why hasn't she just gotten RID of it?"

And so I'm illustrating another of my obstacles. I have many little boxes of goodies that I threw together when I moved to Phoenix. Random small objects.

Here's how it goes: I begin the effort to rid our home of some of the boxes. I open one. I become entranced by the odd assortment of things inside it. Things I forgot I owned! And sometimes I see a theme. As I did when I saw the dime, the rubber snake, and the Barbie garter belt that I've had since grade school.

Barbie. Such a skank. No wonder Skipper turned to substance abuse, and Ken turned to G.I. Joe for comfort.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worrying About Worrying

The women in my family are experts at excessive worrying. Lately, I have become the grand prize winner. Which of course causes me to worry more, and them to worry about me.

I've tried to analyze it all. (Over-analyzing everything is, I'm told, one of the trademarks of those who live with over-the-top anxiety.)

But here is what it looks like to me:

You're on a fantastic safari, being driven down a primitive road in the wilds of Africa. Surrounding you is lush scenery like you've never seen before. Extraordinarily vivid colors, coffee table book landscapes. The animals are peaceful. They look, with bored nonchalance, at your Jeep as it goes by. The lions lie in the shade and lick their paws. The elephants yawn, their ears billowing lazily. The sun is shining on your face, your very well-trained, even well-armed tour guide is pointing out interesting sites filled to the brim with local myth. All is well. All is manageable.

Suddenly, you throw the driver out of his seat and commandeer the vehicle. You drive thirty miles out of the way, jump out of the Jeep, and find a tiny, sleeping non-poisonous snake, warming himself on a rock.

"What about THIS?!" you bellow. "You didn't warn me about this vicious poisonous snake!"

"But white devil lady," he explains. "This is only a harmless snake, and it is sleeping. And you've driven us 30 miles off track."

"HARMLESS?" You pick up the snake and pry its mouth open, get out the fake plastic fangs you have brought with you, pour them full of the stinky venom you have purchased from a shady online business, and glue them into the mouth of the perplexed, still sleepy snake.

"It's going to kill me!" you scream. You run in crazed circles, holding the snake, who only wants its mommy. "We're all going to die!"

You run at the driver, and at the tour guide, brandishing the now-poisonous, terrified snake.

They shoot you. In both legs.

This is my vision of how the over-anxious brain works. There are, of course, real things to be afraid of. Real pain, real grief, stressful decisions, bludgeoning losses. They must be considered, worked with, prayed about, freaked out over. But the freaking has to be limited. Especially the freaking over the imaginary, possible, but very unlikely scenarios.

It is difficult to retrain the snarling mind. But I'm hoping to at least get the leash on it.

If you've retrained yours, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Words to Live By?

As part of my frustrated but multi-pronged effort to downsize, I've been selling books on Amazon. Today someone purchased my copy of Scottish Fold Cats: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual.

We're not getting a Scottish Fold...this is just one of a zillion books I've accumulated that needs to leave our House of Too Much Stuff for a good home where it will be paid a little attention. This book found that home today, in Simsbury, Connecticut, with a man named George.

Before I packed it up, I flipped through and found this passage, which made me want to keep the book. But off it goes, leaving behind this bit of wisdom on the nature of cats, and no doubt, humans:

"No matter what the occasion, when your Fold speaks to you, there is a reason. Folds seldom talk to admire the sound of their own voices. You should, therefore, always respond when a Fold speaks. The cat stuck in the closet wants to hear how sorry you are for its misfortune and how you will never let this indignity happen again. The cat whose fur has been ruffled wants a similar apology. The cat waking you up for breakfast would like a cheery "good morning" and some food on its plate. The cat who is making a joyful noise would appreciate a soft "Hello," and attentive "What is it?" or a fond "You don't say?"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

While I'm Trying to Get My Head Together... write an actual post, go look at the scrumptious butternut squash dish that Scott made on Thanksgiving.

It was disgustingly healthy.