Life is a bitch

Life is so difficult for me right now that I just can’t write. When things start to look up, I’ll be back. Until then, hugs to all of you.

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I have shingles.

I did get the vaccine last year – I am lucky enough to be insured by a company that pays 100% for this vaccine for members over 50 years old.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, my upper left butt cheek was burning all day – I just assumed that my sensitive skin was acting up. On Thursday night, I noticed some itching and after several abruptly aborted attempts to view my own ass in the mirror, I made my husband check out my butt.

Yeah, as you can imagine, he was real excited. So, he tells me he can see about 8 -10 little bumps. I yelled,” God Damn it, I know I have shingles!!”

He responded, “How could you possibly know you have shingles – you always have to be so dramatic!”

Pulling my underwear up with a snap – well as much of a snap as a year old pair of Hanes, Just My Size Hi-Cut underwear can have after a zillion washings, I glared at him and said, “I told you I have shingles and the Dr. will agree with my diagnosis tomorrow!”

Promptly the next morning, I saw the Dr. who confirmed my diagnosis. She told me that the vaccine is not 100%, but the fact that I had the vaccine should minimize the side effects from the shingles. She also prescribed Valtrex which is used to treat cold sores and genital herpes so I’m covered from one end to the other.

The meds make me sleepy and mean. Yesterday, I unfriended several people on Facebook and I made the cat sleep on Don’s side of the bed.

Yes, I can be a bitch when provoked.

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One Foot in Front of the Other

Quiet these last few weeks. Reflective.

Humbled by the amount of people who came to Dad’s Mass and sent food or cards or emails or texts.

Missing my dad – missing the dad of my childhood who made me laugh. Remembering that he wasn’t a saint and he could be a miserable SOB when he wanted to be. Wishing I had visited him even more than I did when he was at the nursing home.

Thinking about so many of my life decisions I made because of his influence – now knowing they were not necessarily the directions I would have taken in my life if he had not been in it.

Remembering that he was the best father he knew how to be and forgiving him his addictions.

Watching and trying my best to help my Mom navigate this world without him. Making sure I call her every day and include her every time I go out somewhere so she can get out of that apartment that holds so many memories.

My mom has started the great clean out….prompted by my sister referenced below. She is getting rid of so many of my father’s belongings and ships and planes that he built. His many hats, walking sticks, watches, ties, etc. I asked and received his two rings that he wore his entire life until he became so thin they slipped off his fingers. I have a little corner set up in my family room with some mementos that make me smile when I glance over at them.

My sister and I have not spoken to each other since the day after the funeral when she woke me from a deep sleep and insisted that we meet to discuss ” the mixed messages” I was giving my mom concerning where she was going to live. After throwing my phone across the room, I decided it was better for me to remove her from my auto dial for a while. Now, I don’t know how to smooth the waters.

Dad is still not in his final resting place – some clerical error at the nursing home – but I think his ashes will finally be laid to rest on April 5th.

Remembering how lost I felt at the luncheon after his Mass and realizing who I was looking for. I always took care of my Dad at these functions …found him a chair, made sure his ice tea glass was full, held his arm when he was coming and going, and he wasn’t there to be taken care of this time.


Miss you, Daddy.

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My Dad

My dad passed on March 6th and this is the eulogy that I wrote and read at his funeral Mass. I am numb.

My family would like to thank all of you for coming today to help us celebrate our Dad’s life. Throughout his life, he was so many things to all of us. He was a son to William and Kathryn and a brother to Dick, Frank and Bill and his two sisters Sis and Diana.

He was Daddy to Kathy, Patsy, Gene and myself and Dad to Don, Jerome, Alan and Judy.

He was Grandpop to Donnie, Jason, Justin and Jerome, Tommy and Katie, Laura and Sean and Ashley, Seth and Patrick. To his two great grand children, Sadie Jo and Dominic, he was Pop Pop. And of course, he was Uncle Gene to all of our wonderful, loving cousins and their children.

Daddy was so very proud of the years he served our country as a Sailor in the United States Navy and he was always wearing his Navy cap or Navy sweat shirt. Two of his children followed his footsteps into the Navy, three of his grandson’s entered the Armed Services and one was awarded the Purple Heart in Iraq.

Daddy was also the Assistant Scout Master for St. Anastasia and Don Guanella and one of his grandsons is an Eagle Scout.

Daddy was the first Marple Police officer who was required to take the Civil Service exam for employment. He was proud of the many years he was a Marple Police Officer and he kept the streets of his beloved Broomall safe from thieves, speeders and the occasional long-haired hippie on his way to Woodstock.

Now, as the children of a Marple Police Officer, we enjoyed some additional perks, like free entry to Lawrence Park movie theatre, a free membership to Paxon Hollow Swim Club and the endless bags of chocolate chip cookies and cancelled wedding cakes from the local bakery.. Dad would occasionally drive us to church or school in the police car, but we were told not to say, “Goodbye, Daddy” when we got out of the car because, apparently, carting your large family around in the police car was against regulations.

Oh, one other thing about the police, we are so proud that two pictures of Dad with his fellow officers are hanging up in Thunderbird Restaurant – third booth on the right – so if you want to visit him and enjoy a cheese steak and hoist a black and white milk shake in his honor, please stop in there any time.

Daddy took great comfort in his faith and he loved St. Anastasia parish. Mom and Dad were married here and all of us were baptized and educated here because of how much they loved St. Annies.
For a very long time, Mom and Dad went to Mass every single day and prayed for all of us. We grew up going to Mass every Sunday, saying the rosary around the kitchen table once a week and going to Confession on Saturday night (where he would always say I hoped you packed a lunch – you’re gonna be in there awhile).
and then we’d all go up to Mackies Soda Fountain and get mint chocolate chip ice cream cones.

Daddy loved country western music and we recently found out that his favorite singer was Lefty Frizzel. Who the heck is Lefty Frizzel, you’re saying to yourself?? I googled him yesterday and I read that his big hits were, IF YOU’VE GOT THE MONEY, I HAVE THE TIME, WATERMELON TIME IN GEORGIA, GATOR HOLLOW, and now my personal favorite, “Shine, Shave, Shower (It’s Saturday).

…and by the way, not even Tim McGraw could wear a pair of cowboy boots or a black cowboy hat like our Dad could. As a matter of fact, I think you’ll all agree that Dad was a pretty snazzy dresser.

Daddy was truly THE funniest man I’ve ever known. He was Bill Cosby, Don Knotts, Archie Bunker, Benny Hill and Sid Caesar all rolled up into one man. He would walk into the back of the room wearing a sombrero and doing the Lorezo stomp and just wait for someone to notice him. He delivered the punch lines to his jokes like a seasoned comedienne. He introduced us to Bill Cosby’s first comedy album and he taught us how to make someone smile when they were sad. Even on his last day here on earth, we were all able to smile about the horrified expression on the face of his roommate as all 18 of us switched shifts and held watch with Mom.

But above all this, above all the roles he played during his life, our Dad was a husband to our most wonderful mom. He was her Knight in Shining Armor who rescued her after she grew up in a Catholic Orphanage. He was her co-parent, her dance partner, her alarm clock, her barista, her chauffeur, her rock, her prayer partner, her best friend and her life-long love. Although, it became pretty rough these last few months, our mom never left his side and watching her was a true lesson in love and faith in God.

So, Daddy, We all just want to say to you today, a few lines written by Dale Evans
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.
So, Happy trails to you, Daddy… ’till we meet again. You were my hero and We Love You Very Much.

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Different Day, Same Wheelchair

Dad is still in the nursing home and has developed pneumonia. Not surprised – his roommate basically sleeps, snores and coughs on Dad all day long. In addition, when I visit, Dad continually asks me to turn the heat on, off, up and down. Every time I turn that blower on, I envision thousands of little Legionnaire disease carrying bugs flying into any orifice in my body trying to kill me.

Well, they haven’t killed me, but I have one hell of a cough right now.

I love my Dad so much, but I pray daily that God will take him. Is that wrong of me? Is it wrong to not want my dad to be sad, depressed, or in pain anymore? I don’t want him to have to wait 15 minutes in a line of wheelchairs to go to the bathroom. I don’t want him to think he’s been dumped in this building on a dementia unit where all I see is sorrow and despair on every face.

I’ve gone to many funerals of friends and family whose parents had died after a long, extended illness or when they were in nursing homes and naively wondered why they weren’t crying or doubled over in sorrow.

I get it now. They were just so damn relieved that their parent wasn’t suffering anymore.

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Team Meeting

We met with the Team yesterday and Daddy agreed to stay until the Drs.’ say he is strong enough to go home.
At first he was adamant that he was going home with us yesterday but the social worker was a real sweetheart and she really helped him understand that if he goes home now, in his weakened condition, he will probably fall again.
We were able to get him a new wheelchair that will enable him to elevate his feet and take some of the pressure off of his back. They also hooked up his TV yesterday and agreed to give him a cup with a lid at his meals because his hands shake so much. They also agreed to review his pain meds with the Dr. (he stated on a scale of 1 – 10, his pain level was an 8).
My father was very upset at the beginning because he has to have help to use the bathroom and there just aren’t enough aids on the floor to get him to the bathroom on time so sometimes he has accidents. He stated he served his country in the war and that all he asks for is to be shown a little dignity.
They were very respectful towards him and I really appreciated that.
One funny thing … you know how I was so upset that he was on the dementia unit? Well, I mentioned that I was trying to get him off of that unit and on another one and he said, No!!!, I’ve made friends here – I don’t want to go anywhere else!”
Ya gotta love it.

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