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!"


  • At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    New Year's never fails to disappoint does it?

  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Never. It's very dependable.

  • At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Michelle, Sally & I went to the movies. It's cold here! I miss you.


  • At 12:10 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    EJ, I miss that tradition!
    Miss you too.

  • At 3:32 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Me too...I don't understand the whooping and yelling, even if someone is peeing in the street.

    Men are pretty immature about nudity. European males do not respond the same way; they are less childish about sex.

    I know something of the distress you are experiencing as you try to help your mom help your dad. All the comfortable normal stuff is gone. You are left with the struggle...theirs and yours.

    It is so painful...for everyone, and it is so unavoidable. The worst thing is that you can't stabilize your emotions because you are in unexplored country.

    It is miserable to know that you are going to experience emotional chaos and that there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

    I wish the best for you and your family.

  • At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I fondly remembering listening to "Guy Lumbago" on New Year's Eves in the past as well. My Dad was either working a second night job at the time or collapsed in bed afterward. So I just kept Mom company, watching the pseudo big-band crap on a black and white TV while she ironed six pairs of blue jeans for her kid's school for the following day. (Yes, she ironed blue jeans at night and then set up an assembly line of baloney and mustard sandwiches, potato chips and an apple in brown bags for us six crumb-crunchers school the next morning). Life was good.

    Remember the good times. It helps sort out the agonies of the here and now. . .

  • At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love you, Candy.

  • At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I met Jim on New Year's Eve 30 years ago (!) so I have to put a postive spin on the holiday-sorry. We always treat it as our real anniversary, even though we ended up with different people at that drunken high school party!

    I feel bad about your dad but you know that I am the one who works at the nursing home and talks to the families who thank us for caring for their loved one when they can't. We do good work but you have to trust us.

    Look at the words to Auld Lang Syne. They are very bittersweet. I try to imagine what next New Year's Eve will seem like. I hope we will have a good year somehow.

    Love you much. You can write a lot of stuff to me when my parents are bad off. It is inevitable, but I can't imagine it.

  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I've thought about this many times since you wrote it:

    "The worst thing is that you can't stabilize your emotions because you are in unexplored country."

    I told my sister and niece about it. It's exactly right. Thank you.

  • At 3:03 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Citlali, I always fantasize about taking a sledgehammer to that big glassy ball in New York. I have always loved the sound of breaking glass, and this year I could have superhumanly handled TWO sledgehammers!

  • At 3:03 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I love you, too, mgm. And miss you like crazy.

  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Belle, please! Give me all the happy spin you want!
    I didn't know you guys met on New Year's Eve.

    On trusting the nursing home workers: We've heard only good things about the place where my dad is. It's just the heartbreak of the separation that my mom is going through.
    We know plenty of people who have someone in the same facility as Dad, and they've been telling us encouraging things.
    But then there's that heartbreak again. Mom is doing the best she can. It's really rough right now.

    I couldn't imagine this part of life coming either. Mid-life is truly a field of landmines. There is also joy. But it's among the landmines.

  • At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tell me the name of nursing home on real e-mail and I will do a bunch of research for you about state surveys, etc.

    I am glad that you have heard good things!!! He will be fine.

  • At 1:48 AM, Blogger Steve B said…

    First of all, yer 49? Wow. So now I have to see you as this older, mentor-type. Great. Just when I had you neatly pigeon-holed as a fluff-brained 30-something.

    I feel positively youthful at my naive, unschooled and burgeoning 42.

    My wife had to go through the pain of putting her grandmother in a nursing home. It too was a nice place, but that didn't help. A very tough time. My dad died before we had to face that decision, but he was a very proud man, and I can only imagine what it would have been like.

    My heart goes out to you.

  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yeah, it doesn't matter much that the nursing home is nice, etc. It's all surreal and awful. I have yet to see my dad in this new situation. That'll happen Weds. when I fly there.

    Thanks for your support. It helps.

    And speaking of support, I'd write more to your bad, naive, youthful, unschooled, burgeoning self, but I need to go rinse out my support hose, put my hair in a granny bun, and try on the new girdle that just arrived from Fingerhut.
    Oh, and later I plan to put my teeth in. Maybe.



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