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Where Did those Cookies Go, Anyway?!?

Posted by Kathy on Sep 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Kathy-Book-CoverIt is true that living the life of a nurse-turned-author can have its lonely moments: less interaction with boring supervisors, less time spent studying things called “mission statements” (oh, please), and less time figuring out how to get a piece of the free food that was dropped off in the staff room by a persistent drug rep. (I know – most hospitals have banned that practice now. Dammit, I miss those cookies. That’s what happens when something called ethics gets involved.) So, I have been filling in the blank time with meaningful mini-visits to places like chapels and ice cream shops. I would combine the two but some people are so picky about ice cream dripping onto the kneelers. Jeesh…

Speaking of prayer and treats, I refer you to “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess” of which that sentiment may or may not be true but either way, I believe you need a good laugh and that is what you’ll find in this wild and ridiculous novel. You might even get two laughs. If you read carefully.

That’s it for now, peeps. Oh – except, look to the right – that little picture of the book cover – yeah – right there! Click on that to read a couple of excerpts. See if it speaks to you. If it does, then this computer stuff is way more powerful than I thought.

 

 
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In Good Company and That Includes Ice Cream

Posted by Kathy on Jul 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Kathy-Book-CoverAaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!

I am recalling those frigid Maine winter days in May when I promised myself  1) I would soon reinvest in my walking program and 2) that I would pay more attention to my food. I did those things. In fact, I did them both at once. I walked…to the restaurant. I walked…to the refrigerator. I walked…oh, you get it. BTW, did you know that if you are over a certain age (which I will not mention because it scares me) you are entitled to a free small sundae at that, um, “friendly” ice cream/food place out?  My sister was visiting and we discovered it together. Several times. Yeah, you get the free dessert when you buy a sandwich or entree.

Maybe I could walk there. It’s only about eight miles…

Switching now – THANK YOU to everyone who is reading Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess. And to those who have posted reviews on Amazon, thank you!! If you are curious about this ridiculous and fun novel, click over on the right, at that cute picture of the book cover, to learn more. Go ahead. Don’t be shy. On the right…there it is…yeah, that’s it!

 
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CHOCOLATE Q & A

Posted by Kathy on Jun 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

DSC_0153Q: Can one ever have too much chocolate?

A: No.

Shamelessly promoting “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess.”

Indulge as needed. (See that cute book cover there – on right – there! Right there. Yes, the one with the chocolate bar and the coffee cup and stuff.) Click there FMI.

 
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From the Delivery Room

Posted by Kathy on May 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

DSC_0149I’m not gonna lie to you. This was the longest labor and delivery in history. I’m not referring to the new royal princess. For me, “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess” has been a long-term project.

That’s what happens when projects are interrupted by ice cream…froyo. ..candy. ..movies. And an uncooperative hair-do.

But it’s here. Mom and baby are doing well. If you look at this right side of this page – right there – no – there. See? It’s a mini-picture of “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess.” Sorry there’s no way to reach out and hand you some chocolate through your computer, although I think some day that might be possible. If that happens, then that’s the website I will go to, like, every ten minutes.

So go ahead and do that click thing on the mini-book, and it will take you to a page that tells you more about the book, has a few excerpts, and info about events. That means you have to read for a couple of minutes. Go ahead. You might like it. The cover’s really cute. Not as cute as little Charlotte. But yeah – cute.

Let me know if you get a piece of chocolate through your screen.

 
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Prayer of Renewal

Posted by Kathy on Dec 31, 2014 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

DSC_0149The Paul Noth cartoon in the December 15, 2014 issue of The New Yorker shows two older women sitting at a bar. One of them has a lit cigarette, and both are holding drinks. The conversation appears to be serious. The caption reads: “O.K., one last big rhubarb score. But then I’m out of the pie game for good.”

Ted should have seen this cartoon. It was nearly hand-picked for him. He was an avid reader of books, newspapers, journals, and this particular magazine. It was one of the few pieces of mail that promptly fell into his open, waiting hands to be read, the bills and business matters set aside. My husband loved his New Yorker, and he loved rhubarb pie, especially the soft, buttery-crusted version our neighbor Sue made for him each year on his birthday, which coincided with rhubarb season.

It was exactly three months ago, as I began to write this, that Ted took his last gentle breaths. The understated, talented man with a loving soul died in my arms after a feisty, three and a half year, kick-ass battle with brain cancer.

Brain cancer. A nasty thief, stealing one ability after another, reducing a strong, active lover of nature into someone needing help with the simplest of tasks. Little by little, compromises, replacements…the smallest pleasures coming clearly and purposely into focus. During his last fully conscious day, I fed him bits of food, rewarded by small moans of enjoyment with each taste of the pot roast dinner so lovingly prepared for him at Hospice by a kindhearted muscleman named Norm.

As I look at the cartoon again and again, what I think about is that Ted’s missing it. I’m missing him, yet he’s missing so much: the cartoons, the first snow, the wild turkeys that jiggle and sprint their way across our front lawn in Westbrook, Maine…the brilliant visual antiphony of lights inside the house, strung up by our friends a few days before Christmas, when I had no ability to do so myself in my heartache and despair.

From the small things of daily life to the significant experiences, present and yet to come, I think about how he will miss out. Those events that deepen, that connect – the grandchild milestones, gatherings with friends and family, the book we were writing together…songs unsung…the trip to Niagra Falls we’d talked about. So frustrating for me, and then for families who lose those much too soon, there are a whole new set of dreams unfulfilled, the pain of which permeates daily thought. Thoughts which, possibly transmitted into something we call prayer, transcend our sophisticated electronics to lodge in another zone of space and time.

Our tears spill onto the dirt and evaporate into eternity, whispered pleas piped outward, maybe to the soul of God himself, carrying the sensory impressions of our eyes and ears and taste and words, to those whom we are still connected, to the willowy cushions of their souls, maybe even transferring the images that absorb the strokes of a single cartoon on a page in a magazine.

 

 
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A Simple Christmas Tale in Several Scattered Parts

Posted by Kathy on Dec 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

DSC_0149This was the year, if ever there were one, to keep Christmas simple.

In October (a full six months after my usual holiday shopping begins) I started planning, listing, gathering, ordering, and keeping an eye on the budget because when your husband has a brain tumor, life is unexpected and expenses add up. There are extra bandages, various medical supplies, and the mounting need for ice cream, a direct result of the cravings brought on by the medication Ted is on. OK, the ice cream is for me, but the Bible tells us not to judge. And hey, it’s Christmastime (yes, there are still a full eleven days left to celebrate, so bring on the mocha chocolate chip, please.)

I believe the Magi set a fine example for us by 1) taking a journey to see the newborn king, and 2) selflessly bringing gifts. And you can be sure they stopped at a Starbucks along the way. I follow their example.

October: I ask Ted what we should get for his side of the family.

“Nothing,” he says. “We all made a decision long ago not to exchange gifts anymore.”

That’s ridiculous. I make my own list of deserving in-laws and check last year’s notes to see who sent us what. Even the magi had to draw lines somewhere. Simplify. Yeah. That feels good.

November: I tell family and friends we’re keeping things very simple this year. They get it.

At each trip to any store or coffee shop, anywhere, I pick up little things. Best not to wait ‘til the last minute. I check online specials, sign up for free shipping from a huge online conglomerate, and remember to shop small local stores to balance giving in to feeding corporate greed and to relieve my social conscience. I empty my pocketbook (the barrel otherwise known as Mount Vesuvius) weekly of stuffed-in credit card receipts. To keep things simple.

December: I’m in a panic.

“Ted,” I say, “Christmas is early this year. What about stuff for your family?!?”

Ted looks at me and looks back at the TV.

I avoid trying to explain to him why Christmas, still on the 25th, is early, and proceed to shop and gather, check list – um, lists – and re-organize. Simple things. I hunt for piles of stored gifts and buy more nuts and chocolate. Just in case. I plan baking, plan meals, plan – oh, heck. I make more lists and then make new ones for the ones that have vanished, keeping in mind the simple, lovely message of Christmas.

Christmas Eve: Things fall into place. A spontaneous doctor’s visit gets squeezed in. Gifts are wrapped, sleep is a distant memory, we are mostly still vertical, and the refrigerator has that wonderful look of I-Don’t-Need-To-Go-To-The-Store-For-A-Month look, which usually means there will be a power outage.

I somehow get myself and my husband to a packed church mass. Never mind the details. But let’s just say the parking lot feels like Grand Central Station – unfortunately, without the pretzel and pizza vendors.

Christmas: Family arrives: food, laughter, preparations, gift-giving, warmth, games, and more food. Uncle Steve brings a salad, all prepared. The special menu focused on individual food preferences and dietary constraints is a success, with angels looking strikingly like a daughter and a cousin-in-law-turned-sisterfriend, who offer the extra hands and hearts needed for this weary Christmas woman. The frenzy turns to joy, the worries to reassurance, and the cookies to girth.

The phone call later to my other daughter, far away, brings a new perspective.

“Mom,” she says, “Thank you for everything you sent – so much stuff! But I thought you were going to keep things simple this year.”

And then I realize I did. I kept it simple, all right.

Over and over and over again.

 
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My Husband Has a Brain Tumor: My WHAT?? Moment

Posted by Kathy on Dec 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

DSC_0149My husband has a brain tumor, and I guess the universe didn’t think that his cancer, my chronic back problem, life in our Repair-of-the-Month farmhouse, and being a writer in today’s frigidly cold writer’s market was enough to deal with. Along with the frenetic pace of my well-planned “simple holiday season that will be completely centered on the joys of the moment, the warmth of friendship, and gratitude to God for our many gifts”, a minor glitch has appeared: shingles. And I’m not referring to what’s on top of our roof, although I will be the first to admit that I am sorely (sorry, punsters) tempted to go up to said roof and take one large, grace-filled leap.

I just can’t believe it.

One minute, I’m reading lovely holiday newsletters from near and far, glowing with friends’ achievements and successes of 2013, and the next minute, all I can think of is “How the —- am I going to get the Caladril lotion onto my back? I can’t even see my back!” – although I’ve tried – and now I’ll have to add a visit to the optometrist to my “to-do” list.

Oh, it’s not that bad. I can get through this. Some errands and even traditions may have to be eliminated, like the thrill of World War III vehicular combat at the mall parking lot, as we humans near the joyous celebration of the birth of Christ. I still have some things to wrap up, and cards to write out – the boxed cards I was so smart to buy last January so “my soul would be totally in sync with a relaxing holiday spirit.” So much for living the Hallmark Made-for-TV life. And my husband? He will do what he can, which means helping me maintain my nutritional status via ice cream ingestion, probably as important a healing process as any. I believe I can hear the freezer door opening as I type.

My doctor assures me that shingles isn’t passed on by wrapping gifts with clean hands. But my mind works in mysterious ways, so the new box of 50 disposable gloves I just bought will come in handy, since I now consider myself on par with Typhoid Mary. (BTW, who names their kid that?) And our homemade Picasso Look-a-Like tree still needs to be strung with lights; the bulbs lay in wait, a task I can accomplish between other things related to aging and illness which the AARP magazine paints as quite charming and fulfilling. Charming and fulfilling? I have three words to replace that phrase:

Pass the gloves.

 
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My Husband Has a Brain Tumor

Posted by Kathy on Dec 9, 2013 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

DSC_0149

My husband has a brain tumor.

I would like to share some of this experience with you, except that any minute I will need to get up to help him with something he is no longer able to do, like retrieve chocolate from my hidden stash in the– no, I don’t think it’s safe to reveal that. But needless to say, I don’t have much time to write. So this will be short and sweet or possibly not that sweet, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about loving someone that has a brain tumor, it’s that it’s incredibly frustrating for both persons. Heartbreaking and frustrating. And because of that, I would like to formally apologize to the many store clerks, medical and scheduling people, and the really nice folks at Starbucks for possibly being picky, bitchy, or crying in line and holding up the latte orders behind me.

My husband has a brain tumor. And I swear, the minute we found out, the lines between my rapidly aging and out-of-control eyebrows deepened. If I didn’t schedule five minutes a week with myself and some creams and tweezers, I’d look like one of those dime store mustache/eyebrow/glasses things people buy for laughs. It’s just not as funny on a menopausal woman who’s on an emotional roller coaster. Please pass the Dramamine.

Ted was diagnosed with a serious type of brain cancer two and a half years ago. With a ton of treatment, he got to a point where his condition was considered stable, meaning it would likely not go away but had stopped growing – for a full year. It was actually flat, a formerly spiderlike tumor gripping his left motor strip eventually was as flat as a spindly pancake. Then this September, his routine every-three-month MRI showed progression, meaning it had started to grow again. Talk about getting sucker punched. We were in the first revision of a book we were writing together when this happened. I mean, we were actually at the oncologist’s office. But we had been working on a major writing project at home.

So – more treatment. And now we wait, get more tests, I watch each step he takes for stumbling, he tells me to quit watching his feet…his medicine has side effects that make us both miserable…my fatigue is significant, my back hurts from an old injury, our joint symptoms are a mile long and yet, somehow we manage to find some good times and have been the beneficiaries of some amazingly wonderful people who cross our path. People whom I call angels. Ted just calls them by their given name.

Thanks for reading. More another day.

When I get a minute.

 
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Grandma’s Rant of the Day

Posted by Kathy on Jul 25, 2013 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

image (10)To all the wonderful food servers out there: 

Please stop asking: “Still working on it?”  I am not working.  I am eating.  I realize it probably just comes out naturally because someone kidnapped you and tortured you under hypnosis and brainwashed you to say this.  Please, could you just ask if we’re finished?

To all deli workers:

Since you’re wearing gloves as a health practice, please try not to 1) scratch your ear, 2) pull up the back of your pants, and 3) adjust your cap which looks like it hasn’t been washed since your Granddaddy wore it in 1960 when this corporate conglomerate grocery chain was a 12 x 20 corner store.  With a pickle barrel.

To all car salespeople:

Please stop with the secret sliding-across-the-table-of-the-paper-with-a-price-on-it while we’re negotiating a price.  I am not in second grade playing “Memory” or homemade “Guess Who?” or “Pick a number, any number” or any other 8-year-old version of a game with paper and a pencil.  Can’t you just talk to me?  Holy shit.

To all front-line medical people:

Will you please introduce yourself?  A simple “Hi, I’m Judy” would do (unless your name is Tom.)  I don’t need your full name, social security number, home address, or mating habits.  I just need a basic introduction, and I might need it every time I come in, ‘cause I’m getting older and a little forgetful.  “Hi.  Remember me?  I’m Adam.”  I mean, you know everything about me.  It’s at your fingertips, and if you’re actually touching my fingertips for blood, blood pressure, or anything else, I’d love a name to go with your smile.  Even though my insurance company prefers to pretend I am a non-person, I believe you really do care but, well, see above (reference food servers, kidnapping, and so on.)  I know you’re doing your best.  Just tell me who you are.  For all I know, you might be the person delivering the staff lunch.

And no.  I’m not still working on it.

 
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A Sign of the Times

Posted by Kathy on Jul 22, 2013 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

DSC_0153Today, at a fundraiser for cancer research, the homemade sign I carried seemed to be a hit.

On one side was an upbeat, cheery “You Go…!” message for the 1000+ women who were participating in the Tri for a Cure, swimming, biking, and/or running.

On the other side?  A simple “F— you, Cancer!”

These women athletes were knocking themselves out to raise money, spirited on from deep within their own experience or on behalf of friends and family with cancer.  Unable to do the physical challenge for mechanical/physical reasons, I helped my husband through the crowd.  His medical battle is stable at this time, and he enjoyed the excitement of the day as we watched our friends rise to the physical challenge.

The sign got a lot of thumbs-up and positive comments from runners.  Toward the end of the event, a woman around my age walked over to where I was standing.

“Can I take a picture of you with your sign?” she asked, pointing to the more direct message.

“Sure,” I said.

This woman took the picture, then came back.

“I’m starting treatment Tuesday.  Looking at this will help.”

I gave her a hug.  Later, I wished I had gotten her name, maybe a phone number.  I would have liked to visit her, keep her company some time, bring her a meal – or at least send a card.

But the moment flew past, and there were thousands in the crowd.

A runner came up to me at one point after the race was over.

“I was walking, toward the end of the race.  But when I saw your sign, I felt so psyched, I ran the rest of the way.”

The funny thing is that I was wary of carrying a sign that was so bold.  I worried that people might be offended.  It’s possible that some were.  I worried that children would see it and read it (“What does that mean, Mommy?”) and my intention was not to disturb in any way.  I tried to turn the sign around when there were kids close by, particularly if I saw one looking towards it.  One mother commented to me that I didn’t need to do that.

I’m fed up with cancer.  She is, too.

Too many people, too many loved ones, too many other-peoples’ loved ones have had to accommodate the word “cancer” into their daily lives.  There’s progress, great progress.  Treatment and cures are slow to come, but come they will.  Not that many years ago, strep could not be treated, or a host of other illnesses we now cure with a visit to the doc and a quick stop at the pharmacy.

And meanwhile, people are taking their indignation about cancer and opening their purses and making a statement.

My statement may not have been pretty.

But neither is cancer.

photo (2)

 

 

 

 

Thanks to my young friend Christine for snapping this picture. 

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