All This And No Surprises

People followed us around in grocery stores when I was little.

This picture of my mother was taken by my father in 1971, probably.

You may recall my Dad died in 2007 on April Fool’s Day, which under other circumstances would have amused him greatly. Mom and Dad didn’t like one another much and divorced while dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in middle school. Much to everyone’s surprise, including hers, Mom died a few weeks ago – on April Fool’s Day, which would have made Dad laugh and Mom reeeeeeeeally mad.

Of my siblings, I look the most like her, but not a whole lot. Our coloring is completely different, for one thing. For another, she resembled a blond Elizabeth Taylor, and I do not. Thus, it was unusual that at the funeral home viewing, with Mom laid out in the casket and everything, a mourner who has known me since I was a child approached me with trepidation, gasped and called me by my mother’s name, “…Lucy?”

“Shh!” I said, “Only you can see me.” I told her I was me, Domenica, but she didn’t let go of me for quite a while. The next day at the church service, Mom’s college friends couldn’t wait to show me a binder of pictures of their lives through the years, by which I mean the entire assembly behind me waited while I stood nervously in a doorway, glancing at pictures of my mother as a young coed, sitting in a tree.

Three days later, we all drove up to Cape Cod for the burial. In New Jersey, we left spring behind to find the end of winter in Massachusetts, for which almost no one was prepared. Mom wanted to be buried next to her mother. Her first cousin found a burial plot in the family cemetery. Next thing we knew, we were sitting and standing in a cold, wind-swept graveyard full of our ancestors and the Black, female minister from the Cape Cod church in which Mom, Daria and I were baptized before the invention of rope, when the minister certainly was neither Black nor female. But change is here, and now, and sometimes for the best.

Mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder just over a year and a half ago, but a friend assured me Mom had suffered depressive and manic episodes for decades. Her depression I had seen, but I never saw manic behavior until these last few years. In her manic episodes, her sharp mind was somehow even sharper and she outwitted our efforts to get her help over and over again. Her anxiety made her postpone surgery she desperately needed, and waiting too long ultimately cost her her life. I’ve mentioned before the impact untreated mental illness has had on my life and the lives of my family members and friends. This did not have to happen. If Mom had gotten treatment for her anxiety and bipolar disorder, she might have lived to a ripe old age.

Mom was also really smart.

There’s no substitute for large hair curlers.

You might think this is a sad story, and in one way it is. Mom had a very rough childhood, and if ours was a society that invested in the physical and mental health of children, maybe Mom’s life would have been different and even healthier. On the other hand, at the funeral home, photo displays my sisters put together overnight showed a life in which my mother was smiling, active, athletic, singing, surrounded by family and friends, traveling, modeling silly outfits and dancing. Mom had a tough internal life she balanced with a life spent in happy motion.

Maybe the best thing we can do is keep moving.

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My Spheres Are In Commotion

I can’t believe I heard about Dance Your Ph.D. today. It’s been going on for years! Be careful, some of this science is a little loud.

Look at this brilliance!

I don’t understand this at all, but I love unitards and enjoy a good hat.

On a personal note, this is as good an explanation of arthritis and joint replacement as you will find anywhere.

A Rainstorm And You Howl Like

Atticus among Dad’s bonsais.

Atticus, whom we first met after one of my stepmom Darla’s cats Squidge became an ex-cat, has also vacated the job. Atticus spent the first ten years of life with an elderly gentleman Darla didn’t know, so when Atticus came to live at Dad and Darla’s house, everyone was very pleased that the new guy was calm and peaceful.

In the spring of 2007, – forgive that I’m repeating myself – Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I slept on Dad’s office floor for a month. My back has never forgiven me, but this happened, too:

For a couple of weeks, I awakened with a twelve-pound cat tangled in my shining tresses. I’d spend half an hour talking to said cat, whose name is Atticus. He’d purr, he’d preen. He’d tell me where he wanted to be scratched and nip if I scratched out of bounds. Then, I’d go downstairs and start household chores for the day. One morning, Darla and I were discussing something serious when Atticus padded softly into the kitchen, took one look at me and sauntered off.

Tata: Darla, am I imagining it or is that cat pretending we’re not sleeping together?
Darla: He’s acting like he doesn’t know you in public!

Apparently, Atticus saw Samantha sitting on my lap and now he’s all like “Girlfriend, please!” And I’m all like “But honey, you’re the only cat for me!” And Atticus is like “Sugar, I’m not sure you even like cats.” I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’!

This morning, he was sleeping near my head but not on it, but he did tangle my hair a little. While I wonder if Atticus will take me back, the world keeps turning.

A sweet guy with a keen fashion sense.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about Island of the Blue Dolphins, which I like every other girl my age read as a teenager. Sometimes we have no control over whether or not we are alone or who our companions might be. Atticus certainly had no say in such matters, but for the past few years after Darla moved back to Canada, Atticus liked sleeping on a corner of Darla’s bed, with his paws resting on her hand. Sometimes, love is a situation.

It’s odd, I guess, that I was mulling over a book from my childhood and the loss of a cat-friend on the twenty-first anniversary of my grandmother Edith’s death when Wintle sent along this.

Everything goes somewhere, but no one’s going anywhere in those shoes.

Out There There’s Nothing To Do

This wailing good song by the Handsome Furs from 2009 has been repeating on the mental jukebox.

Good doggie!

I don’t remember hearing this until relatively recently, but if I were still listening to mainstream radio I would never have heard it at all. Thank you, Altrok! The Official Video! for this song is zombietastic and so gross. I don’t know how people wipe the butts of tiny children can watch zombie-related film or video without pondering how much of other folks’ goo might be coating them. Then again, who doesn’t love a good moisturizer?