Last week, while traveling for work, I had a rental car with Texas plates. The first night a hotel in Eastern Pa., a man in the parking lot said to me, “You’re far from home.” I only nodded and smiled, quickly getting into the hotel lobby and not wanting to encourage any more conversation.
The next day, a different man pulled in next to me as I was getting out of the car. “What part of Texas are you from.” he asked, rolling down his passenger side window.
“It’s a rental.” I said. “I am from Cleveland.”
I don’t know why I offered up extra information.
“Darn.” he said with a weird whistle at the end of his word. “I was hoping we could talk Texas.”
“Sorry.” I said, getting my backpack out of the backseat.
“I ain’t never been to Cleveland though,” he continued, shutting his big truck’s engine off. “Maybe you could tell me all about that.”
Sigh. “How about if you google it and let me know if you have any questions?” I said and hurried into the hotel.
The next morning, what I can guess to be this man’s business card, was tucked under my car’s windshield wiper. It went immediately into the trash.
A few weeks ago, I got home really late on a Friday night, having been out of town for over a week on a work trip. I was tired but knew as soon as I pulled into my driveway that my yard was looking pretty neglected. Being dark already, I decided it could wait until morning.
So the next morning, I couldn’t help but to think how a chainsaw would make the task of cleaning up the overgrown bushes go so much faster. I even looked online at both Home Depot and Lowe’s to see what my options would be. But, I decided I would have to shower before I could go out in public and that could wait. My yard needed immediate attention.
With that, I basically went outside in my pajamas and began the cleanup. In the front, I cut down a few weeds with some pruning shears and then mowed the lawn. Then, I turned my attention to the backyard. I turned the mower off, I got out the patio furniture and umbrellas out of the garage and decide to get out the hedge trimmers, still thinking how a chain saw would make this all so much easier. But that would have to be another day. I needed to get the yard in shape as soon as possible. I went to the very back of the yard, behind my garage, dragging the long, orange extension cord and hedge trimmers with me.
And so it began. One overgrown bush down, then some weeds. Then some tree saplings growing up along the fence. And then, another bush, taller than me needed some shaping up and trimming. that’s when something got stuck in the hedge trimmer’s blades, stopping the machine from moving. This is actually fairly common and I knew exactly what to do – remove the piece of branch and continue on. I have done it hundreds of times before. But this time, something was different. I wasn’t paying attention or I didn’t realize I had my one hand still on the power button, the other was pulling on the piece of wood stuck between the blades.
And immediately, as soon as I pulled the piece of wood out, the hedge trimmers began working.
On my fingers.
Because, you know, you’ve met me.
It all happen so fast.
I dropped the hedge trimmers.
With all that blood, I immediately knew that I needed to go to the hospital. It was a long way between where I was in the back yard and my phone, on the patio table near the house. Blood seemed to be everywhere, I put my finger in my mouth, to contain the blood and headed towards my phone and my house. At that moment, I really thought that just one finger was cut. I got my phone and only because there was still so much blood, did I realize I also cut across the fingernail of my thumb.
I got inside my house, trying to dial my mother and got my dogs inside. Blood was all over my driveway and steps and, then, my dogs. My mother wasn’t picking up her phone. I thought I might pass out. Oh, and I was basically wearing my pajamas.
And now, I had to go to the hospital.
I pondered driving myself. It wasn’t that far away but then I figured it be so like me to pass out while driving myself to the hospital.
Again, you’ve met me.
I ran upstairs and pondered how I could look presentable quickly and get myself to the hospital. My mother still wasn’t answering her phone. The nerve.
I washed my hand in the bathroom sink, the blood never stopping. There was no hope in looking presentable. My mother finally answered her phone. I blurted out, ‘I cut myself on the hedge trimmers, I need to go to the hospital.’
Now, in the past ten years, my mother has moved three times, each time, moving further away from me. She was at least 30-minutes away. I didn’t think I could wait that long. I called my Aunt Deb, a few miles away. She didn’t answer her phone. I called my friends David and Brian. They didn’t answer either. And then, I called my best friend, Natalie. She answered right away. I tried to act calm, asking her what she was doing. She said something about having a lazy morning. I asked her if she’d take me to the emergency room. Of course, she said she’d be right over.
Happy that I secured a ride, I worked on getting presentable. Showering was out. I put on real pants and underwear but decided I couldn’t do a bra without getting everything covered in blood. Eyeliner was a must. (I don’t know why I thought this, by the way). And then, I went downstairs and waited for my ride, still hoping I would not pass out before Natalie arrived.
It wasn’t long before Natalie arrived in her nice, new Surbru SUV. My hand was wrapped in paper towels. She was still putting on makeup as I got into the car but she’s an ace at driving and putting on makeup. We nodded and were off to the local emergency room.
As it turns out, when you walk into an emergency room with your hand wrapped up and bleeding through a bunch a paper towels, they pretty much don’t make you wait.
I have also heard that another trick, walking in and say you’re having chest pain, works pretty good too.
So before Natalie could even make it into the hospital from parking the car, I was already in an exam room. The nurse carefully unwrapped my hand from the bloody paper towels and asked a series out required questions. Like is anyone at home hurting me. “Apparently, just me, myself and I.” I said.
She didn’t really find me all that funny, telling my I would probably lose the fingernail on my thumb. My thumb, throbbing in pain, now hurt more than the other finger, the pointer finger, the bleeder of a finger.
A tetanus shot was required. And then the ER doctor came in. He didn’t think I’d lose my nail. I am pretty sure I saw the nurse roll her eyes as she left the room. He cleaned the cuts. I told him about how much blood there was and sticking my finger in mouth. He just put even more antibiotic solution in my wounds, covered them with a sterile gauze and said he’d be right back to stitch them up. Few minutes later, a nurse brought my mother and Natalie back to the room. And then, my mother released Natalie of her duties.
With stiches, a prescription for antibiotics, instructions for care and some simple bandaids, I was released.
As for the moral of the story or life lesson, in case you are wondering, I truly believe that the universe or karma or god or whatever was clearly telling me that I do not need a chain saw. I DEFINITELY DO NOT NEED A CHAIN SAW.
Also, I may be banned from all power tools for awhile. Or ever. Because, you’ve met me.
My grandmother passed away last month. She was 102. We should all be so lucky to see our loved ones live that long. it’s a blessing. However, I am not sure my grandmother always saw it that way. On more than one occasion, she said how sad it was for her to know that everyone she knew growing up was gone. All her family – the siblings. Her childhood best friends – the cousins who grew up nearby – and, of course, her parents. Then her adult friends started to pass away from one illness or another. Then, her husband of 50 years. And then, my father, her first born child. She said she never expected to see her children reach middle-age yet alone die.
She grew up a farm-girl on a rural Ohio farm that today is now considered an outer suburb of Cleveland, where half-a-million dollar homes now dart the landscape. Gone are the farms, the silos, windmills, fences and barns that were once all she knew. She told us once that her earliest memory was watching the soldiers come home from ‘The Great War.’ The family had gone to the train station to watch the troops come in. I don’t recall if she was there with the family to greet family or neighbors. Details like that are now lost to history. As small child, war was not something she could have understood. (Or as an adult, even. I mean, who can?). But she said she understood that people were coming home and people were excited to be reunited at the train station. How was she to know that the ‘Great War’ wasn’t the last. She saw school friends and family go off in to war in the 1940s. Then in the 1960’s, it was her sons that were drafted for the Vietnam war.
All this happen, before she ever became a grandmother – the woman I knew her to be.
She went away to college after graduating high school. It was the furthest she’d ever been from home. She said it took about 6 to 8 hours to travel to the Ohio State campus in Columbus back then, something now that we can get to in under two hours. She saw electricity come to the rural home she was born in. She saw television. She witnessed the moon landing. She even had a computer but in the end, she preferred playing solitaire with a deck of cards over playing it on the computer. She started off as a home economics teacher but after having kids, she went back and got certified in elementary school, not wanting to spend all day cooking and cleaning only to have to come home and cook and clean. She wasn’t perfect but who is. She always took great pride in her family and put her boys on a pedestal even though it was her daughters that were always there for her.
After retirement, my grandparents moved from the farm into the city – a sprawling ranch with an in-ground pool. My brother and I spent days upon days in that water. Those summers were probably the only time I’ve ever had a tan that lasted all summer. But before that, you should know, that my brother and I were the first – her first grandson and her first granddaughter. In the end, there’d be sixteen grandchildren but my brother and I would always be the first. It seemed like most weekends, we’d visit my father’s parents and before the pool and the ranch, it was to the farm my father grew up on. It’s this farm that when I close my eyes, that I see as her home. There was a walnut tree by the side porch – walnuts will forever be tied to that place for me. It got cut down for some reason years later – storm damage or old age – I cannot recall.
And I remember the sound of the traffic from the Ohio Turnpike, falling asleep to it at night, like others do to waves rolling into the shore. I remember the green lawn between the rambling house and the barn. My cousins, visiting from Wisconsin, and I would do cartwheel races or just lay in the grass, looking for familiar things in the clouds as they passed overhead. When it was just my brother and I, she’d hand us a stack of notebook paper and we’d draw for hours. I’d go through a stack fast while my brother would carefully spend hours drawing one detailed picture on one piece of paper. I never had his patience.
At the farmhouse still standing today, I wonder if the new owners can make the top sandstone step at the side porch wobble a bit as they move up and down them.
She loved gardening, still a farm girl in her heart. I told her once I didn’t like tomatoes. She handed me a fresh one from her garden and told me I could not say that until i’d eaten one. I did. And I still don’t like them but I do think of her, whenever I see tomatoes. Even as she neared her 99th summer, she would often be walking the edge her property, searching for blackberries in season.
She read the Wall Street Journal every day in her retirement. Who knows how much money she had in stocks. I guess a lawyer and my aunts are all figuring that out now. She was a bragger – but not about material things that other people brag about. She bragged about her grandchildren and how well they were doing. To anyone that would listen and to some that had no choice but to listen. But mostly, she always told us that education was the most important thing. That woman – her granddaughters – should and would go to college. She felt it was important for a woman to be independent and education was the key to that.
Always passionate about science and medical advances, she donated her body and her brain for research study.
This weekend, the extended family will gather for a memorial service but we all know it’s not the end of life. Her memory will live on. She will live on in the curls of hair her grandson has, or the blue eyes of another or the high cheekbones of a granddaughter who looks so much like her in old pictures. She is in the memories we all have, collectively and on our own, of the time with her and in her home. I think that she’d be happy to know that this much is true.
This past winter, my mother moved. She missed her own private outdoor space – at her old place, there was not any defined private space for her and when she was outside, she was in view of all her neighbors. Now, she has a private patio and lots of green space. As a housewarming gift, one of her friends gave her a shepherd’s hook and a bird feeder.
Now that Spring has finally arrived, it is her new obsession. First, there was finding the right location. And then, the wait for the birds to arrive.
Every day I’d get an update.
The birds did not seem to be aware of it.
And then, one day, she was upset that Turkey Vultures were in the tree near the bird feeder. She was pretty sure first, they were busy mating in one of her trees. And now, they had the nerve to be checking out her bird feeder. She called me, obvious stress in her voice, and brought me up to speed on the events in her suburban backyard.
“I only want pretty birds at my feeder,” she said. “No ugly birds. No ugly birds allowed.”
In my mother’s defense, Turkey Vultures, are some of the ugliest birds around. I think they’re also on the endangered list or something like that.
“You better make a sign.” I suggested. “No ugly birds allowed.”
From my mother, who is spending time with the preschool grandchild, Faith:
Faith just told me that one of her classmates said that Donald Trump was a bad guy She wanted to know if that was true.
Oh my goodness. I forgot to renew my domain for this site so it was down for a bit. Back now. Sorry.
Last year, my college roommate, Blair, and I had the luxury of touring the mid-west to see Bruce Springsteen. I mean, if by touring, you know I mean to Louisville and Chicago along with our home cities. We really get around.
But it was good, great actually, as the shows were different in each city. And for us, it was money well-spent and a great weekend escape.
There are two artists I’d go almost anything to see – one is Bruce the other is U2.
So, as luck would have it, U2 is touring this year. They’re coming to Cleveland – and with the pre-sale codes, we could have gotten $500 standing room only in-front of stage tickets. Blair and I discussed it. We were really too old to have to stand for all that time and the idea of having to defend our space seemed like too much. Blair doesn’t like crowds all that much and I am not sure I like people all that much. Instead, we opted for seats. And got amazing seats off the side of the stage. They were not cheap. We got four not cheap tickets. It was more than my monthly mortgage payment. We decided we couldn’t tell the guys how much we spent.
And then, the band announced tickets in Louisville. At the last minute (the day tickets went on sale) we decided we’d try for tickets there. I mean, with The Diva having a condo there, we have a free place to stay so it’s almost like a free show. Again, tickets more than my house payment were purchased.
Hangs head in shame.
So my big vacation plans this year, apparently another mid-west tour of America and stadiums this summer.!
Tyler has been back in Australia for the last month – his mother hasn’t been doing well and was in the hospital. It was serious enough to make Tyler head home and just be with his parents. His mother, Mum, has he calls her, is finally home from an extended hospital stay so I asked him how it was going, being the primary caretaker and all that.
The idea amuses me greatly, since Tyler has never really had to be in a role like this before and he is rather oblivious to the needs of other people.
He said his mother was quite demanding. The whole thing was exhausting to him.
I was even more amused.
“I would prefer to be the one being waited on, I think.” he said, not seeing how funny it all was.
I was talking to my mother yesterday, telling her about the audible.com new series on TedTalks, called Sincerely X, and asked her if she knew about TedTalks.
Her response: “Is that that bear?”
I put my head down and tried to conceal my laughter. I don’t think I did a very good job.
“Where’s your mixer?” my mother asked. She was over my house, standing in the kitchen, her hands on her hips, disapproving on my organization. She had come over to make mashed potatoes for the holiday meal. Her recipe was one where you make them the day ahead of time and cook in the crockpot. Cream cheese was involved.
They are heaven on earth.
She asked again, “Where’s your mixer?”
At one point in my life, I had a hand mixer.
At this point in my life, I had no idea where it was.
With the total kitchen remodel, I think it probably got lost in the packing and unpacking of everything. I walked over to my purse, pulled a $20 out of my wallet and told her it was at the nearby K-Mart.
Of course, she gave me a disapproving look with a heavy sigh.