Wheels Go Round


The wheels are spinning in my head all the time.” ~ Justin Berfield

In the past few weeks people have been telling me that I look happier and smile more than I have in a long time. I think they are right. I have been ridding myself of some wasted emotional energy, setting new goals and feeling less sorry for myself. My mind’s wheels have been turning.

So many of my posts have been about my grief – and recently I’ve been reflecting on his experience in the last years of his life. As long as I knew him, he was strong, self-confident and virtually fearless. Of course his career, personal and health challenges stressed him. Long before we came together he developed coping skills which brought him some measure of calmness: clearing his mind while motorcycling and sweating out his stress through sports. Time with family and good friends also brought him joy and release.

An amazing man.

Besides knee replacements and assorted other surgeries, Rick’s bladder was poked, prodded, scraped and ultimately removed over the course of our marriage. How many of us could experience all this and not lose some zest for life? (Certainly not I!) While he was positive and upbeat with me and others, I now wonder if I failed him. Did he put on a smiling face while inside he was filled with anxiety? Were there times when he would have unburdened himself to me if I wasn’t so frightened myself? Why couldn’t I set my self-centered terror aside and focus all of my energy on Rick when he needed me most – when he could no longer use his well-honed coping skills?

In addition to this rotation of thought towards Rick’s experience more than my loss, I sometimes wonder if he would be pleased with the new life I’m building. I’d give anything to talk with him and get his input on the choices and decisions I’ve made. There are some undoubtedly which would annoy him beyond measure, but for the most part, I believe he would be supportive. Dragon boat racing, playing mahjong and writing would be viewed positively; the increased closeness within his family would delight him.

Rick taught his daughters how to maintain their car, including their wheels. They know how to check tire pressure and change a car tire; I never learned from my father or even their father. Earlier this week the low tire pressure indicator lit up on my car’s dashboard. After verifying the process with a neighbor, I found a tire gauge, checked each tire’s pressure and then used the dusty compressor in my garage to fill the tires up to the target psi.

If ever there was a time to hear a chuckle and a “Good job” from above, that would have been one of them!

Enough Already!


I set aside a draft post on Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment, coercion and violence. I can imagine my friend who already thinks I’m crazy for blogging about my personal issues screaming in frustration – but never fear, I won’t be writing about my sexual experiences in this post.

What in the world is wrong with us?

It seems anytime a person does something that seems incorrect to others, there’s an avalanche of nasty tweets, snarky posts and bad press. It can be about attire, behavior, beliefs – anything – and “we, the people” are all over it. We give our unsolicited opinions, we pick fights with friends and strangers, we get stuck in nonsensical repetition. It is driving us crazy! People try to step away from social media because they’re sick of the negativity, or they stay online, searching for baby animal videos because they just want to see something cute. People avoid the news – real and fake – while others can’t turn away from their news channels.

We can be so talkative and critical much of the time – and other times our lips are sealed and our fingers frozen. What happened with Harvey Weinstein and others of his ilk? Where were those who knew of his predatory behavior? Every one of us knows when something is not right.

Think of all the times you now know you should have spoken up or taken action. When was a childhood friend bullied? When did your acquaintance tell a racially-offensive joke? When did your group chortle at someone walking by who they stereotyped in some way? When did your male colleagues talk about a female employee’s physical attributes in a sexual manner?” Yep, I thought so – you’ve experienced all of these. Even more, you may – I have – been part of the problem. I’ve admitted before to telling dumb blonde jokes which natural blondes found offensive – and I’ve done much worse.

So if we know how to behave and when to speak up, why don’t we? Those poor women sexually victimized by Weinstein not only have to heal, some have to live with not speaking up to protect future targets. I feel certain if those women felt they would not be penalized in their personal and professional lives, they would have done so. Why can’t we stop “going along to get along?” Why can’t we do what is right and respect others who do what they believe to be right (within the law)?

None of us have the answers. I look back on the decades of my life and know my beliefs and perceptions have changed on a myriad of issues – surely you can do the same. So what gives us the right to assume we know what is best for others? Why can’t we show compassion and empathy – and maybe, just maybe – recognize that we do not have the right answers all the time.

Hush. Listen. Reflect. Look in the mirror. Do the right thing.

(ditto for me!)



I don’t have anything new I choose about which to write this week.  Last weekend was my wedding anniversary, and while there were tears, they were perhaps less intense and frequent than in 2016.

So I have reached back to a poem I wrote in February 2001 — long before I had any inkling my mother, mother-in-law, father and Rick would pass within just fifteen years.

Generational Transitions

We stand at the edge and we don’t understand.
We don’t seem to grasp the situation.
My mother’s dying; his mother’s failing;
Decisions, closure, but time’s sailing
too fast for those in our generation
who have aging parents and new demands.

To lose the generation ahead causes pain.
We’ve taken for granted they’d be there always,
and valued their roles in our lives.
To lose them hurts our hearts like knives.
But now our lives move to a new phase
where our parents don’t wax but wane.

We now become the elders of our world.
Whether we’re ready or not, it’s our turn
to face the inevitable future,
wondering who’ll provide our nurture.
Do you think we’ll ever learn
to age with grace in acceptance of the world?

So we gird up for the effort we now face,
to love and support our parents, you see.
I don’t want to be old; I don’t want to die!
Is there a way that this process I can defy?
Are those the words of my mother or me?
On to death; all are in the same race.


Sands of Time


For the last few days, I was at a Gulf-side beach hotel. I’ve loved the feel of sand between my toes and the sound of waves coming into shore for as long as I can remember. My parents took me to Jones Beach and Cape Cod every year. As soon as I was old enough, my parents watched from their beach towels while I bobbed and body-surfed in the ocean. Sometimes I made a friend for the day, but oftentimes I was by myself in the water. In my 30’s I explored Georgia’s Golden Isles on my own. So staying at the beach by myself doesn’t seem odd — and at the old and elegant hotel, no one cared about my past, just that I was a current guest.

The first morning I took a nice long walk along the beach, leaving imprints of my bare feet behind in the wet sand. I didn’t intend to collect shells, but after passing others with their heads down, shell-filled bags in hand, I began to gaze downward as well. I came back to my room, triumphant with three small conch-shaped shells cupped in my hand, just a bit worn around the edges – like their collector!

There aren’t a lot of memories of beaches with Rick. He was careful about getting too much sun and he didn’t see much point in just lying on the beach. The years we rode to Daytona Bike Week, however, he reserved an ocean-view room so I happily could stroll the beach, splash in the water and dig my toes in the sand. Give Rick a mountain-view room out West instead, and he was as happy as a clam. (The full mid-19th century phrase, for those who care, was “as happy as a clam at high water” according to http://www.phrases.org.uk; I just couldn’t resist extending the beach references.)

In a few days will be our wedding anniversary. During the last week of his life, Rick reminded me that our premarital counselor told him, “If you get five good years with Mary, it will have been worth it.” With a smile he said we had had twenty good years. Yet I wanted twenty-one, twenty-two and many more years of marriage to Rick – who knew the sand would pour through the hourglass so fast?