My Thanksgiving Memory From 2011

My Thanksgiving Memory From 2011

I posted this six years ago on Facebook. I still feel the same way about the holidays.

I was going through the worst time of my life when I wrote this and was trying to dig myself out of a deep hole. I had help – my Uncle Mickey, my cousin Alynn, and a new friend, Lawrence. I will never forget what any of these three people did to help me back then. What they and others did to help is what Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and every other holiday is really about. I’m not sure if the majority of people realize it.

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Too many people, and the media, look at Thanksgiving as the start of the shopping season and getting what you want for less money than you normally would. Thesepeople should be thankful that shopping and getting up at 3:00 AM on Black Friday is the worst problem they have. There’s so much more to Thanksgiving and you only hear about these reasons in cursory measures.

Two of my close frinds have benn fighting major problems this past week or two. I’m sure the last thing they’re thinking about is buying a television set or getting concert tickets.

I’m very happy for everyone who has everything they need, have a way to get everything they want, and are healthy enough to get around everyday without even thinking twice about it.

But I’m thankful for my friends, my uncle, and my cousin who were doing what they could to help me during the past two years. I’m thankful that I know that life can be much harder than a lot of people suspect and there aren’t always happy endings. I’m thankful that I can see both sides of Thanksgiving and smart enough to know that not everyone eats turkey and all the trimmings on this day. And I’m thankful that everyday I wake up and know that life isn’t a bowl of cherries and appreciate the little things, like being able to walk three blocks to a store and celebrate it every time I’m able to do it.

Appreciating what you have and what you can do to help others is not just reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What are you thankful for every single day of your life?

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Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Back in the early 1970’s, when I was in my 20’s, I worked for Volt Information Sciences. Sounds pretty impressive, huh? We put out the Yellow and White Pages for New York City (all five boroughs), Westchester, parts of upstate New York which Westchester might or not be a part of, Long Island, and a couple of other counties in the metropolitan New York Area. That’s a lot of white and yellow pages.

Now this was just before the World Wide Web. There were no laptop computers, no desktop computers, no i-pads, i-phones, smart phones, flip phones, no nothing so when I tell you we had to alphabetize the White Pages just imagine a group of people sitting with galleys and galleys of names of companies that had to be listed in alphabetical order. AAAaaa Auto, AAAaAA Auto, AAaaAa Auto – which comes first? I don’t remember the rules but let me tell you it was a pain in the ass to do. Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester – hundreds and hundreds of pages, thousands of names of companies and a bunch of 20 year olds trying to remember their alphabet and the complex rules of alphabetizing. Computers did not do this job 40 plus years ago, college graduates did. Me and my friend Anita.

Oh, there were lots of us: Dave Gitomer, Katrina (Trina), Larry, and a bunch of  others whose names have long since left me. But my friend Anita was special because Anita and I shared a talent or something. Whenever we were together something odd always happened and if we brushed against each other in passing something major occurred.

We became aware of this one day when we were busy alphabetizing the Bronx White Pages, or was it Westchester? Eh, it doesn’t matter. Anita’s desk was right behind mine so when she called my name it was easy to hear her. The room was quiet because alphabetizing is not as easy as it sounds when you have 400 pages sitting in front of you.

“Sharon?” Anita said.

“Yeah?” I said as I turned around to her.

Anita looked up and said, “Um, I didn’t call you.”

“Anita, I heard you.”

”I didn’t call you, Sharon but I was looking at this page and had a problem and said to myself, ‘I’ll ask Sharon’ and as that thought passed my mind you turned around.”

We both thought that was a little strange but we laughed it off until things like this happened multiple times a day. We weren’t afraid or concerned but we learned that strange things happened when we were together.

So one day, after a long, boring, grueling summer’s day of alphabetizing the White Pages for who cares which county, we took the long elevator ride down to the lobby so we could get home.

Volt was on the top floor of the AT&T Building in Lower Manhattan. It was considered the 30th floor but it was really the 60th floor because every numbered  floor had a floor of equipment underneath it. I can’t explain it much better than that. The important thing to remember is that our office was really 60 stories up.

Anyway, we finally got down, walked across the street to One Police Plaza, walked up the loooooong flight of stairs that would get us to Pace University which we also had to walk through to get to the train. The AT&T Building was in the middle of nowhere back then.

Anita and I finally got to the Pace University Campus preparing for our three or four block walk to the train station. It was a hot day in July and maybe 6:45 pm. The campus was deserted being that it was summer, late in the day, and very few students were around.

So we were strolling along when Anita looked up and asked me what was hanging in the sky. “Well,” I said,” it’s obviously a huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie.” She agreed. We stopped and stared at it for a while wondering why it wasn’t moving and just what it might be.

Through the years that Anita and I were friends we were very use to strange occurrences. At times it was almost exciting to see what we could conjure up during the day but we were very careful and knew when to keep on moving along. Which is exactly what we decided would be best to do at that moment.

We walked a few steps when we saw a man walking our way. Anita and I glanced at each other getting ready to run if we had to. The man walked towards us, smiled, and then his eyes started to glow red. This was not the sun reflecting off him, this was not some shadows playing tricks with our eyesight, the man’s eyes glowed a deep red. Believe me or not, it doesn’t matter, but Anita and I were not happy about this encounter.

He walked past us. I looked at Anita, she looked at me, and we both turned to look at the man, who wasn’t there any longer. There were no buildings he could have ducked into and even if there were it would have taken him longer than two seconds to get to one.

So the man was gone and all that remained of him was his glowing red eyes that Anita and I saw. We looked up to the huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie still hanging in the sky. Anita turned to me and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I didn’t disagree and we practically ran to the train station for safety. Speaking as a native New Yorker, when you’re seeking “safety” in an underground train station something pretty bad must be happening because “safety” and underground trains don’t go hand in hand.

What was that cigar-shaped “thing-a-mahooie?” I don’t know. Can men really have glowing red eyes? I don’t know. If Google were around back in the 70’s maybe I would have research these things but I doubt if even Google could have come up with an answer.

Do I believe in Aliens with glowing red eyes? Hell yes! Along with my belief of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night I believe that aliens from other planets have landed here thousands of years ago and are preparing to attack. Well, maybe not attack, I don’t believe that, but I do think that we are not alone and neither does my good friend in New Jersey who has seen her share of space crafts as she walks her dogs. She calls me every time she sees one. No, my friend in New Jersey doesn’t indulge in a nip of alcohol before her walks. Maybe a cookie or two but never alcohol.

One thing that has happened to Anita and myself did frighten us. I still wonder/worry about it to this day and I have no idea how to explain it but that story is for another time and another day.

 

Ghostly Visitors

Ghostly Visitors

Well, anyone who has read my blog has seen my stories about ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. My apartment is haunted. In fact I think my whole apartment building is haunted. I’ll go so far as to say that every apartment in New York City and all over the world is haunted. I do believe in ghosts. I have had experiences with them, nothing terrible or anything, just experiences. I’m not really afraid, I accept it all because I have no other choice.

I don’t know what happens when you die. I don’t know if you’re given a choice to go into the “bright light” or to kind of stay where you are to watch over things. Maybe you can go back and forth using some kind of heavenly transportation system. I don’t know. Maybe when you die you just aren’t around anymore like when you have surgery and put under and when you wake up there’s no memory of anything. I don’t know. But what I do know is that things happen in my apartment and around me.

I hear noises, footsteps, smell perfume, know when someone is in a room with me even though I live alone. I’m pretty sure it’s my sister who died eight years ago. My sister, even though she was three years younger than me, always acted as if she was the older one. She had to because everything terrified me and Ade was the person who had to solve all the problems. She basically took care of me and taught me things. She might have passed eight years ago but she’s still around watching and caring for me.

My mom drops by every so often too. I can smell her perfume, “Tabu.” I haven’t smelled Tabu since she passed over 30 years ago except for when she visits. Dad pops in every so often too. I can hear him clear his throat like he used to and Grandma Grace drops by once in a blue moon. I can tell it’s her because I can smell her apartment. I do wonder why Grandma Grace comes by since I’m pretty sure that I didn’t mean all that much to her but that’s another story. Maybe grandma got lost on the heavenly transportation system and is looking for one of my cousins.

I’m sure others come by too like Ray (Rachel) one of my parent’s friends who used to live in the building. Ray was a wonderful lady who really did care about me. A day or so after her death she came to me in a dream, kissed my right cheek and said, “I love you Shari.” Ray was the only person who called me Shari.

Lots of people who used to live in my building drop by to say hello once in awhile and that’s fine with me. I don’t mind and I know they’re just checking up on things. Their visits do not frighten me. When I sense their presence I always say hello, smile, and tell them that I miss them. I do miss them.

Two years ago I was in the hospital. The doctors thought I had a heart attack, I thought I was suffering from severe panic attacks. It was atrial fibrillation but the point is that Coney Island Hospital (lovingly known in Brooklyn, or at least by me, as “The Hell Hole”) admitted me into their Coronary Care Unit.

My room was right by the nurse’s station and because it was the heart unit I was alone in it. Well, kind of alone. Many times, many, many times, I saw old men sitting in wheelchairs in the room with me. Only men no women and they looked like they were at least 80 years old. Maybe some were younger but they all had that tired look that people get when they’ve been very sick for a long time.

I didn’t recognize any of them. At first I thought my dad might be one of those men or maybe one of my uncles, a grandfather? But no, I didn’t know any of them.

One day I was taken for a test, an angiogram. When I got back to the room and was finally able to move around all the men were sitting in their wheelchairs looking around and surrounding the upper portion of the bed. I looked at them and asked, “Who are you people?” I had to whisper it because I didn’t want “Nurse Ratched” hearing me. “Nurse Ratched” is for another story at another time.

“Who are you?” I asked the assemblage of eight or so wheelchaired older men sitting near the bed. They didn’t answer. I wasn’t surprised at not getting an answer. I wasn’t really expecting one. It was a rhetorical question.

I suspect they the men were the ghosts, souls, specters, of men who were in this heart care room at the end of their lives. I think they died there and still kind of haunted the room. I do wonder why there weren’t any women specters around though. No, I wasn’t afraid of them. I was afraid of Nurse Ratched, well, more like annoyed with her. She was a real pain in the ass. The male ghosts were docile enough and seemed content to sit in their wheelchairs watching other patients come into the room and maybe join them eventually. I have no idea.

I was in that hospital room with those elderly men for five days. The day I was discharged I wanted to be alone in the room for a moment just to say goodbye to the ghosts but Nurse Ratched was constantly in the room with me giving me directions on how to swallow the numerous pills I was given.

Did the men follow me home? Of course not. They’re probably still in that CCU room watching other patients and within the past two years maybe more men have joined their group.

But I do believe that my sister did visit me when I was in the hospital. I’m pretty sure she was the one who lead me to think that the men had passed away in that hospital room and were just sitting there waiting for something or someone.

I tell you this story to let you understand that ghosts, souls, whatever, are around. I think. I’m pretty sure of it. I know my sister is always with me. My mom and dad pass through and I get lots of visits from my cousin Donna who passed, I don’t know, nine years ago?

In my dreams I’ve been allowed into a room or something, where I think people who have passed on stay when they want to talk to people who are still alive. I’ve been in that place many times. I used to see my uncle come in and out of that room as I walked along the long hallway to get there. I wondered why my uncle was there since he was alive. Years later I learned he had heart problems, which I did not know about. Maybe there was a question about if he’d survive his heart surgery, which I also didn’t learn about until years later. Maybe I was being told through those dreams that he was very ill and might not be around much longer. My uncle lived about 15 years or so longer. Pretty good.

Just keep your mind open that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to this life and death than can be explained. No need to be afraid if something odd happens. As I tell my cousin, who questions everything and wants to know “WHY??” and HOW” and needs an answer to every little thing that occurs. It drives me nuts sometimes. I tell him, “things happen that can’t be explained. Either forget about it or live with it. If you want to research something, research it, if you want to question something, question it, but sometimes there are no answers and if no answer can be found then just accept it and go on with your life.”

And that’s what I do. I accept the strange things that happen to me. What’s the use of wondering if it will drive you crazy? I can’t explain what goes on or why I seem to be so susceptible to these occurrences. I do know my sister was able to “feel” these things too but I think my talent in that department is stronger than hers.

I have lots of stories that I need to write about, things that have happened with me and my friend Anita that did kind of frighten me but that’s because Anita had the same “talent” that I have and together Anita and I did and saw some strange things. I definitely have to write about that.

 

Weight Rant

Weight Rant

I will mark this day in my calendar. May 12, 2017 – I am no longer “Morbidly Obese;” I am no longer “Obese;” I am no longer “Overweight.” For the first time in my life I am now considered “Normal Weight.” How long will this last? I have no idea. Maybe just for the next hour, maybe for a day or so, maybe a month, or maybe I’ll become “Underweight” some day, although this is highly unlikely. But the point is that I am now considered normal. Because, you see, if you’re even the slightest bit bigger than what society says you should be then you are far from normal.

For the past 64 years, 10 months, and two days I’ve been told that I wasn’t normal by the actions and remarks of family, friends, and total strangers. “Sharon, you have such a pretty face, you should lose weight and show it.” “Sharon, you should lose weight because your uncle doesn’t like fat people.” “Hey you fatso, eat a salad and lose weight you lazy bitch.” Those words and much worse were said to me throughout my life. My aunt said that thing to me about my uncle when I was 12 years old.

A cousin lectured me about my weight when we were both in our twenties. She said that losing weight was easy. Yeah, it’s easy when someone who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet is saying it’s easy. When she turned 45 or 50 she started putting on weight and became “obese” and then called me to tell me how hard it was to lose weight and no one understood what she was going through and all everyone did was lecture her. Really? I thought losing weight was easy.

I was working at a company that put out the Yellow and White Pages back in the 70’s. One day I had the nerve to put a hard candy into my mouth. A co worker, Maria, said, “I thought you were on a diet.” Why did she think I was on a diet? Because I told her? No. Because she was part of the diet police? Or maybe it was because I was fat and not allowed to have a piece of hard candy.
In the 80’s I was an editor at a big financial institution and was eating lunch at my desk and one of the secretarial supervisors looked at what I was eating and told me that I should think about eating better. I had the nerve to be eating some tuna fish. Guess tuna fish isn’t allowed to be eaten either when you’re fat. Let’s start making a list: no hard candies or tuna fish allowed. Another 100 pound when soaking wet person who ended up obese when she got older heard from.

Now I have to talk about my grandmother. My cousins are not going to like this because they never saw the grandmother that I will describe. She hated me and my sister and I suspect my mother too because we were all obese. She might have included my father on her hate list just because he married my mother. He wasn’t obese.

My grandmother would constantly make comments to my sister and myself about our weight and not the nice comments but evil ones. The kind of comments that made you want to stay away from her forever, which my sister ended up doing. When grandma tells you how ugly you are and how you don’t chalk up to the rest of her grandchildren because of your weight then you don’t want anything to do with grandma.

How about strangers? People who you never saw in your life feel they have the right, more like “morally obligated,” to lecture and call you names because you’re fat. They’d tell me how unhealthy I was because of my weight. Duh, yeah, I know, fat equals dumb and I would never know that being fat was unhealthy. Thank God some stranger felt they had the right to tell me this otherwise I would never have known.

My sister died from colon cancer. The last three months of her life all she could eat, when she could eat, was yogurt and ice cream. We were alone, our parents were dead, of the few family members who knew of her dying no one called or helped out at all except for one or two. I was a mess trying to figure out how I was going to survive after watching my sister die this horrible death.

One July day my sister asked me to buy her some ice cream, the kind that had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I was happy to do it and a little relieved that she was hungry for anything. I went to the corner grocery where the owners and people who worked there knew about my sister dying. The owner always gave me yogurt for her without charging me.

But this one July day I was online to pay for the ice cream when an older man looked and me, looked and the ice cream and started yelling at me. “You’re too fat to eat that. It should be illegal to allow people of your size to buy and eat ice cream. Put that back and do something about your weight.” I stared and this man and wondered if I could get away with hitting him. I wondered if I even cared if about the consequences of such a violent reaction, when the clerk who was ringing up the ice cream called over the owner and said something to him in Russian. The owner took the man aside and started yelling at him in Russian and kicked him out the store. Then the owner came to me, apologized profusely, gave me the ice cream for free, and handed me a ton of yogurt for my sister.

When I got home my sister saw how upset I was and asked what was wrong. I said everything was fine and that it was just hot out. I gave her some ice cream and she wanted me to eat some with her so I put some in a plate and sat on her bed with her and we talked. Yes, I ate the ice cream but I never told my sister about what happened in the store. She died three months later.

So I want to say to all you “caring people” who feel obligated to make remarks to fat people for “their own good” to mind your own business!

Back to this morning when I weighed myself and saw that after one year, nine months, and 12 days of struggling I’m finally considered normal weight and with the right BMI. I then slipped into my pants which is sized at an 8/10. I lost 176 on my own. No surgery. No real help except from my cardiologist who was my main cheerleader as the pounds came off. He’s prouder of me than I am of myself.

This isn’t my first time around the block with losing 100 pounds or more. It’s my third or fourth time around. For those of you who don’t know, which is most of you, losing weight can be easy, keeping it off is the hard part. That’s yo-yo dieting. You do well losing weight and suddenly you stop losing weight. The body is fighting the weight loss and the hard part is to keep going and not give in to the anger and hunger you feel as you still exercise, stay within your calorie limit, and still see no progress and sometimes even some weight gain. Yep, I have gained weight at times while maintaining an 800 calories eating plan.

You might say, “But Sharon, isn’t the struggle worth it? You must look great.” I don’t look good. I look like a walking clothespin. My face looks drawn, my skin is sagging, my shape is gone. No more curves at my hips or at my bust. My breasts hang on me like two flat pancakes. I looked better when I weight 30 pounds more than I do now. But I want my doctor to see me at this weight and let him decide.

Am I happy being a “normal” weight? Yes and no. Yes because I blend into society better now. No one feels the urge to stop me in the street and abuse me because of my weight. No one knows I’m there.

I’m not happy about this new “normal” weight because people who’ve lived in this neighborhood with me for years are now friendlier to me. “Hi, how are you?” they ask. Why didn’t they acknowledge me like that three years ago, or five years ago, or 10 years ago? I was friendlier then. Now I’m mean and my face shows it. I don’t talk to them, or anyone really because I’m in a perpetual state of anger, or is it hunger? I don’t know. But I do know that if and when, I gain the weight back they won’t give a damn about how I am and will go back to making nasty remarks.

Nope, losing weight has done nothing much for me except to allow me to become invisible in a world where invisibility might be best.

Signed – Hungry old lady

me dd

The Haunted Library

The Haunted Library

The library is haunted. Why is that such a shock? We all know it, we even talk about it in whispers. It’s never been a secret. But what’s really interesting is that 60 plus years ago the library was located about three blocks away from where it is now and it was haunted then too. When the library was moved to this new location the ghosts came along with it. The spirits followed the books and silently watched as different librarians took control.

The library watched as patrons entered the new building and the rules and regulations became lax. Sixty years ago you weren’t allowed to speak above a whisper and even then the stern librarian would glare at you. Now talking is allowed, beverages are allowed, ringing phones are allowed, screaming kids are allowed. No more are patrons shushed for uttering the lowest of sounds, anything goes at the library in this new age of technology. An age that the library spirits never imagined.

The library doesn’t like this change. It doesn’t like that the silent respect for it is gone. It isn’t happy so it allows its ghosts and spirits to haunt the new building especially after closing time. And sometimes a very sensitive person, like myself, can hear the library whisper to itself about the changes telling the wandering angry library spirits to be prepared for when the library closes for the day. Because when the last librarian leaves for the day it’s time for the ghosts to take control.

The library was closed for over a year. “Restorations,” the city said. “It will be better when it reopens,” the city said and when it reopened, over a year later, there was no difference. The chairs were the same and the tables were the same, but the setup was a little different, and there were less books. The library was not happy.

Everyone was welcome to the library grand opening. The crowd sat and lightly applauded as councilmen gave speeches and apologized for the six-month delay of the opening.  “New heating system, new cooling system, more computers,” they bragged. All of that might be true but the real reason the library was closed was because the city knew about the ghosts living there and these spirits had to be exorcised. The ghosts knew too much and they were getting much louder than they were in the previous century. Pretty soon non-spirits would be able to hear the complaints.

The library is still haunted. I’ve been there at least ten times since it’s reopening and the ghosts are still haunting the shelves. I saw my friend Janet there today. But not the 65 year old Janet, who might or not still be alive. She was very sick the last time we spoke seven years ago. Instead of the older Janet I saw the five year old Janet, the one who was wearing her school dress with patent leather shoes and her little white socks. The Janet who ran around the card catalogs at the old library, the one who was interested in the Dewey Decimal System by the time she was ten years old.

Five year old Janet spotted me, smiled and ran over and took my hand. “Where have you been, Sharon? We’ve been waiting for you to come.” “Who’s been waiting for me?” I asked. “All of us.” Janet said indicating a corner of the room which on first glance appeared empty but then I saw them. I saw some other patrons from 1960, people who I haven’t seen in decades.

I also saw Madeline who lived in all the Madeline books I read as a kid; and there was the Phantom Tollbooth with Milo and Tock standing guard; I saw the three children from “Half Magic” and remembered how one of them, while sleeping, wished that his dead father would come back. I remember how I felt when I read that part as a child thinking that I would wish that too if my dad died. I have wished that many times as an adult. I saw the little child knight I read about in a book who had the mumps and his cheeks became so swollen that he couldn’t get his head gear off.

I saw Stephen King’s clown laughing in the back showing his sharpened teeth holding his dangerous colorful balloons. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were there talking with some other knightly characters. And trying to take control of the situation was a librarian from 60 years ago who was hushing everyone.

My mother was there too looking up from her book to smile at me. I’m pretty sure my sister and father were there too along with some of my cousins and long gone friends.

“See, Sharon, we’re all here. Your friends, family, and characters you’ve loved to read about. Stay with us Sharon, we’ve been waiting for you.” It was tempting, I wanted to stay but I turned to Janet and told her that I had to get home. It was 5:55 PM and the guard was making the announcement that the library would be closing in five minutes and to proceed to the checkout machine to borrow books. Janet looked up at me  and said, “Check out machine. The librarians used to check out our books. You remember when they did that and now you have to do it yourself.” Yes, I remembered.

“Please proceed to the machine to borrow your items, shut off your computers, and please log off all devices you have connected to our WiFi” the guard stated.

“WiFi, computers, devices, do you really like this better? Wouldn’t you rather stay with us here in 1960?” Janet asked. “No. No, not really. I do prefer 1960 but my cousin is coming by tomorrow and I promised him I’d be home. I can’t stay today but I’ll come back for a visit on Saturday. But one day I will stay here with you in 1960. We will play again, Janet, and maybe all our other childhood friends will be around too. Then we all can talk with the book characters and be happy all together again. But I can’t stay now, maybe in ten years, maybe in 15 years maybe within a year, I don’t know but when the time comes I will stay here and haunt the library with all of you.”

Janet dropped my hand and gave me a small wave as did the little knight and the clown, “It.” “I’ll be back to visit day after tomorrow” I sadly said because, the truth is, I would like to stay with them and see my old childhood friends, and maybe seek out Robert Frost and Herman Melville and other authors. They have secrets to tell me, dangerous secrets that the city tried to silence by the having the new “renovations.”

It would be nice to stay but that won’t be for a little while. Until then I will visit my old friends, books and people, at least three times a week.

Yes, the library is haunted and everyone knows it. The renovations didn’t get rid of the spirits living there. They will always be there, forever, and one day so will I.

To see more of my childhood memories go to  S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.

lib outside

lib inside 3

 

 

The Ghostly Flutist

The Ghostly Flutist

I talk and write about my sister, Adrienne, a lot. She was very important to me. When she died from colon cancer in 2009 I thought my life was going to end too. It was horrible. But I somehow got through it even though I still get very depressed and think a lot about her when her birthday rolls around on March 21. March is also Colon Cancer Awareness month.

Not many people know this about Ade but she was a gifted flutist, or flautist if you prefer. She started playing the flute when she was in 7th grade and by the time she was in college her talent was incredible. She majored in music as an undergraduate and when she went on for her graduate degree. I was so proud.

Everyday she’d practice for hours filling our apartment building courtyard with classical music. Mr. Brovender, who lived on the second floor opposite our apartment, would sit and listen to Ade’s practice sessions. Once his wife asked him a question and he turned to her and said, “Hush, Adrienne is playing her flute.” Mrs. Brovender, who wasn’t angry at her husband, told my mother that story.

Ade could have had a great career but in her 20’s arthritis got to her fingers and shortly thereafter the disease went to her hips and by the time she was in her 30’s she could barely walk. But she always kept playing her flute. Her fingers hurt all the time as she played but she couldn’t give up her love of that instrument.

Then the cancer manifested itself a few years later. Her health problems were too much for her and she had to stop playing but she listened to her classical music all the time.

Eventually Adrienne passed. The last three years of life had no music in it. She couldn’t play and she didn’t want to listen to music any longer.

Adrienne told me where she kept her two flutes and her piccolo and after her death every so often I would put the cheaper flute together and blow a note. She taught me how to get a note out of her instruments. Playing a flute and piccolo is a little tricky. You don’t just put your lips on it a get a note to come out. You have to kind of put it below your bottom lip, twist the instrument up, bring your lips down, breathe a little air into it, and with any luck you get a note. You do that all while holding both arms up at mouth height pressing on a ton of buttons. Well, it was tricky for me.

About two years ago I was laying in bed reading. The light was on, it was the middle of the day, and I was wide awake when suddenly I heard two notes from a flute. I looked up and around the room, my heart thumping. The room was quiet. I thought maybe I heard a pipe making noise or someone doing something or other in another apartment. Noise travels strangely in apartment buildings.

After a few minutes of listening I decided that I didn’t hear anything and went back to my book. Things were quiet and I was happily reading for another seven minutes or so when I heard the two flute notes again. I was afraid now. The notes came from Adrienne’s bed where she spent so much time lying through her cancer ordeal. I looked at the bed, stopped reading, and listened some more. All was quiet the rest of the day and that night.

The next day I was reading in the bedroom during the afternoon and I heard the flute again. I put the book down and laid there listening, not doing anything else. Ten minutes later the flute notes chimed out for the fourth time in two days. This was too much for me. I sat up in bed and said out loud, “Ady, I know you’re playing your flute to let me know that you’re still with me and love me. I know you don’t want me to feel alone and to understand that you’ll always be with me and I do need to know that. But you playing your flute frightens me. I don’t know why but it scares me. I know you would never hurt me but please don’t play your flute to me. It really frightens me to hear it.”

That was the last time I heard her playing. I feel bad asking her not to play because I knew she was doing it for me. I know that Ade is still walking around this apartment. I feel her, I sense her. Sometimes her presence is so strong that I say hello to her and tell her I love her and am happy that she’s still with me.

You can believe this or not, I’m not writing this to convince anyone that my sister is somehow still around.

Is there life after death? I don’t know but I tend to believe there is or I hope that there is because  I need to talk with my sister again.

As for Adrienne’s flutes and piccolo, I’ll keep them and when I pass they will be sent to my good friend and “sista” in New Jersey who loves flute music as much as Adrienne and myself.

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This is an old Polaroid of Adrienne in 2004. She couldn’t walk because of her arthritis. Her walker is just out of camera view.

To see more of my childhood memories go to  S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.

 

Cancer Is Not Always Pink – Dress In Blue Day -March 3, 2017 – Graphic Details

Cancer Is Not Always Pink – Dress In Blue Day -March 3, 2017 – Graphic Details

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and tomorrow is Dress in Blue Day. Please wear something in blue to support your fight to end this cancer. I know everyone has their causes and Colon Cancer is mine. I’ve written about my sister’s battle and there are so many others struggling to become a colon cancer survivor.

Most people don’t like to talk about Colon Cancer. It’s not pretty, not that any cancer is, but Colon Cancer deals with a very personal part of the body. It’s ugly. To be brutally clear here, you defecate in a bag that is attached to your stomach. Through surgery your rectum is attached to the stomach and when you have to move your bowels everything comes out from there into a bag. Many health insurance companies only allow for  ten bags a month so each bag has to be used for three days. You have to empty the bag and then clean it before you reattach it to your stoma, which is the rectum that is now at your stomach.

Grossed out yet? I have more. The stoma bleeds very easily, IF you scratch it while cleaning it or scratch it while changing the ostom bag it will bleed -a lot. Think of how much a hemorrhoid bleeds. The stoma is very delicate

Want to hear more? There are times when the stoma become prolapsed. That’s when the bowel protrudes through the stomal opening in the skin to a greater extent than was anticipated. The amount of protruding bowel can vary from 2-3cm to more than 10cm. Although when this first happens it can be very distressing and frightening it is usually not serious. My sister’s stoma grew to 9 inches. She had 9 inches of stoma hanging from her stomach. They had to operate on her to take the hanging portion off. The doctor said it was like removing a penis. That’s how big and thick it was.

And here’s another good one – visiting nurses aren’t allowed to change the bag, at least not back when I needed a nurse to stay with my sister for a day while I had to go to a Disability appointment. I was told to have a neighbor come in and help my sister change her ostomy bag. A neighbor! A visiting nurse wasn’t allowed to change it but a neighbor was qualified? I didn’t make my appointment that day.

I can tell you a lot of horrible stories about Colon Cancer but thinking back on all of that upsets me.

But I will ask you to wear something blue tomorrow, March 3, 2017 to HONOR everyone who is going through this dreadful type of cancer and to honor their caregivers too.

If possible change your Facebook image for an hour tomorrow with the blue star that I’ll post at the bottom of this page.

Colon Cancer is not for the squeamish. It’s devastating and deadly. If you’re over 50 and don’t really watch what you eat get checked. There are symptoms but you don’t always have them but beware of blood in your stool and pains in the left side of your stomach.

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