Friday, September 6, 2013

So, Whatcha Been Up To?

Free to a good home.
Husband.  Retired.
'Nuff said.

This was my Facebook status a mere five days after Fred's retirement began early last year.  He was restless, he complained, he wanted something to do.  His retirement was my curse to bear, but it soon turned into a blessing.

A knee injury I had sustained the previous year worsened with use, and I was forced to undergo extensive surgery.  "Ethel's Nine Weeks in the Wheelchair" was nominated for best comedic short. The many scenes where tornado sirens were going off and Fred was trying to maneuver that decrepit wheelchair through mud, gravel, and driving rain to get me to the basement were hilarious, but nothing compared to the glare he met when he suggested that next time he rig a harness and pull me down the basement staircase, like hauling a big ol' bluefin tuna to the scales.

Yes, he got more than he bargained for when I was further sidelined by a blood clot in that knee, which broke apart a week later and settled in my right lung.  Let me tell y'all, a pulmonary embolism is nothing to sneeze at, and when you have two of the little buggers, and the CT contrast dye sends you into anaphylactic shock, well, lesser women have not survived.  But my pampered princess crown was still shiny and new, so I just told St. Pete he'd made a little boo-boo, and he let me slide.

Me and Pete...we got it like that.

I was just beginning to master the mechanics of a cane when Fred was bitten by a brown recluse spider and ended up spending three days in the hospital, where he drove the poor nurses crazy with his never-ending supply of bad hospital jokes and his stubborn refusal to take his condition seriously.  That spider left him with a small crater in his heel and partial memory loss.  But still he took care of me.

All those spring storms caused extensive damage to our roof, and the all-day hammering of the roofers brought about a mass exodus of brown recluse spiders from our attic.  When one scuttled across my bedroom floor in broad daylight, I told Fred I didn't care what it might cost, we were hiring a pest control service NOW.  What a blessing!  Since "the bug man" began his regular visits, I have seen only one live spider in the house, and it was doing the death dance.

So I hastened it.  Put it out of its misery.  Dr. Kavorkian isn't the only one with compassion, you know.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolisms and asthma can be similar, so it's understandable that I don't know when the embolisms dissolved and the asthma began.  But no sooner had my doctor diagnosed asthma than I was hospitalized following a severe asthma attack.  Steroids seem to be the only thing currently keeping my breathing in check, but steroids have an annoying little side effect: you gain weight.  They help tremendously with breathing, but you gain weight.  They keep pain levels at low to non-existent...but you gain weight.  They give you energy...but you gain weight.  LOTS of weight.

Okay, I'm beginning to depress myself, so let's get on with the good news.

Fred isn't the only one who retired recently...I did, too!  The cash-strapped Post Office offered VERY SMALL INCENTIVE early retirement to employees who met minimum age and years-of-service requirements, and I took that offer and ran with it.  I didn't care that I was getting a buyout of only 15% what  similar companies were offering their employees.  I just wanted and needed out.

Being retired means more than just choosing whether or not to remain in your jammies all day.  It also means you get to pick up the nieces from dance class and piano lessons, take Aunt Millie to the hairdresser, sign when the UPS man delivers Johnson Henry's new computer, and watch that the little Crenshaw boy doesn't climb over the fence to get in the neighbor's pool.  And keep Zoey when she's running a fever, and pick up new grandson Andy at daycare on Tuesdays!

That's right, I have two grandchildren now.  Zoey is two, and Andy is four months.  And they are the light of my life.

Zoey is a little charmer who has her grandpa wrapped tightly around a petite finger.  She is utterly feminine, enjoying her manicures and pedicures, and her favorite color, of course, is pink.

Andy is a happy cherub who changes every day.

Lots of you have asked about Willadean.  Since I retired, I don't have daily contact with her anymore, but I do keep up with her.  There will be plenty of stories to follow when I resume blogging.  In the meantime, I just saw a picture that reminded me of her, and I pass it on to you.

So, what have y'all been doing?

Monday, August 26, 2013

On Life and Love and Friendship

The screen on my little netbook dims in energy saver mode, a tactful reminder that I've been staring at the blank page too long, staring as if waiting for the proper words to magically appear.

But they don't.  They won't, for some emotions have no proper words, and there is nothing magical about death.

I had never met her, never spoken with her, never known her as anything other than "Mrs. Bluelights."  I knew little of her day to day life, and practically nothing of her dreams, her favorite colors and numbers, TV shows, books.  I didn't know what pair of shoes she reached for when her feet faced a long day, or what food she craved late at night; if she left the dishes for the next morning, or commandeered the remote during commercials; her pet peeves and greatest fears; regrets. I had no idea what could flare her red headed temper and what it would take to extinguish the flames.

And yet...I knew all I needed to know, for within her husband's keystrokes, she unwittingly revealed herself: she was part of Eddie, and he was part of her.  She was there, and we knew it, perhaps by nothing more than "we," because her absence would have been noted otherwise.  For when one is comprised of two, the lack of either part is most conspicuous and will likely have a lasting effect.

But with her death, the two that had become one is one again, or perhaps only half of that, for one does not easily remember how to be one, when one has been part of a greater one for over forty years.

I won't speak more of Maria, for her story is Eddie's to tell.  If you haven't already done so, I urge you to read Eddie's tribute.  But I suspect most of you have already been there; I saw the names of many mutual friends among the comments, most written in May, when Eddie had mourned for a month and was able to speak of his wife.  And that's what brings me to the crux of my own post.

I regret to say that although Eddie's life was forever altered months ago, I have only just been made aware of it.  Eddie is a dear friend, albeit only in BlogLand, but I didn't know.  And that is my own fault.

My goodness, I look back over my post list and see I've not written anything in well over a year.  Could it really have been that long?  And in the only time I've popped in at all in recent months, I reverted most of my posts to draft, in that fit of senseless paranoia I experience from time to time.  I didn't check my comments.  I wasn't ready to be tempted to visit friends and laugh or cry with their adventures, or to be mesmerized by their breathtaking photos or entranced by prose.

I didn't check the comments.  I didn't see the message from Eddie about Maria.

When I sat down to write this, I had every intention of saying something to the effect of I'm coming back from my break, not in full force, but I want to stay in touch and will post maybe once a month, maybe more often.  But, as I am trying to finish that promised first novel, I know in my heart that anything I write will end up among its pages, even if those pages are forever compressed into a tiny flash drive, perhaps tossed and  lost, but most likely gathering dust in a seldom used cabinet.  Sometimes I write an amusing short story on my Facebook wall, but that's really all I've done since my self-imposed break.  However, I do want to tell you a bit about what's been going on in my life and I'd like to hear about your own lives.

Leave some comments.  Tell me what's changed, who's married, who's having babies, who's retired, where you're traveling, what you're doing, even if it's nothing.  I'll write one post in the next few days and tell my friends about my misadventures in the world of Ethel and Fred.  After that, the only promise I make is to check in more often.

And in the meantime, keep Eddie in your thoughts or prayers or wherever you hold dear friends.  Very, very dear friends.

Fred and Ethel Go to Disneyworld


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