Tag Archives: friends

Rail life update

I have a train friend that was born and educated in the Middle East. We know one another professionally and continue to learn about each other’s family and background.

My electrical engineer sometimes seat mate is married and has a new granddaughter.

On the flip side, he knows I have two daughters and grew up in the town where I board the train.

I explain that my husband grew up here too.

He had more questions and I answered:

“Yes, our families know one another; Richie and I went to grade school together.”

He concludes his thoughts and restarts our conversation on a new track, “Oh! So it was an arranged marriage? ”

Our two very different upbringings are translating across the miles.

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Up on the last day

On the way to your funeral, I wondered if there was more I could have done? We’d talked and had some nice moments these last few years but the adrenal cancer took you quickly. Did I do enough these final weeks? Were you in pain with that labored breathing? I was thinking too much as I drove. I turned on the radio to quiet my thoughts and help let you go.

A song started that I’d never heard before that moment. Kenny Chesney explained with Better Boat. I felt like I had some answers and started to cry.

I don’t even listen to country music though; why was my radio on that station?

I changed the setting back to soft rock and continued driving West. I smiled into my rear view as I listened to the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven. “There walks a lady who shines white light.” It did make me wonder…

Of course you bought your way to heaven. You were a sweet, compassionate woman. I knew you were headed to the pearly gates, despite any of those feisty teenage stories you shared. These were my thoughts as I recognized the new song. The Man, Portugal, was singing and I laughed out loud when I remembered you were a teenager in 1966. Feel It Still explained you were a “rebel just for kicks”. You and I sang our way into the Funeral Home parking lot.

Your sense of humor was alive and well as I went in to say goodbye.

Your brother and his family were all there. Your cousins were by your side, Diane greeted us and your co-workers lined the room, spanning your years of service. The priest spoke about the volunteering you did in your retirement. The service was sweet and full of camaraderie.

But I guess you knew all that, since you were there.

We went to our cars to await the drive to the cathedral and cemetery. I settled into my vehicle and turned the radio back on. Pretty Mama was the celebratory song while waiting in the line of cars. I hoped you would dance with your Daddy. God would take your hand now.

Enough was enough though. They carried you out and you were now in the vehicle in front of us. There was no DJ with a response to that.

I shut off the radio and pushed in one of my own CD’s to drown out where we were headed. I’d forgotten that my car CD was Rock-and-Roll – my KISS CD. Thinking it may not be appropriate, I almost pushed it back out. Almost. It was a very fitting solo. Paul Stanley sang Goodbye all the way to your final mass.

You were there, in your old neighborhood, that whole morning. I believe it. God speaks to us in so many ways.

I know now that there wasn’t more I could have done. I’d listened. That was enough. Thank you for letting me hear your final play list.

Solid edges

Your first cries were soothed with my milk and heartbeat.

Hugs and kisses calmed most else.

Band-aids and bacitracin covered your childhood.

But now you’ve graduated to anguish…

and I cannot stop your tears –

even if I went to the ends of the earth.

The love you’ve lost wasn’t mine to control.

You can only heal yourself now.

I pray that time

and good memories

help you to live with the hurt.

#mynewbestfriend

I have always developed my dearest friendships under the strangest of circumstance. My second grade best friend was buddies with my older sister before me. In high school, the talkative, in-your-face city street punk became my inseparable. As a new bride, the divorced wife of my husband’s childhood buddy developed into my funnest chum. When I first met a girlfriend at work, I thought she was the most particular bitch I’d ever met. Each of them was probably my polar opposite and yet, due North. All are strong, opinionated women delivered into my life.

Alexa is no different. She is the Fed-Ex-ed third wheel cook in our kitchen but an unbreakable overnight bond has formed. Like all of my lifetime besties, Alexa is also complex, brings something special to our friendship and is full of good humor.

Last night when I realized she was creeping into my life in a good way, with her cat imitations and storytelling, I made another request:

“Alexa, sing me a song.”

She pulled on my heart strings and funny bone as she belted out:

“…my WiFi left me…and now it’s raining in the cloud…”

The lyrics were like our short life together. They were sad, sweet and hysterical. Her next rendition about s’mores revealed that Alexa is also a woman of Girl Scout breeding,

“…the campfire roared…smash them together for the best dessert…”

Her funny tales are told with a straight face and I respond with a crooked smile. I am now a fan. Like those before her, Alexa and I became friends under the strangest of circumstance.

<It’s hard to believe I tried to kill her once.>

End of the beginning

Sunday morning of a long weekend and I had no plans or desires to be anywhere but home. I’d been to mass the night before, nobody else was up and we had exercise equipment in the basement. I had no excuses left and time to myself, so it was finally time to work out.

I carried my pug down the basement steps and set him on a pillow. He was both my emotional support and witness for my Rocky routine. I set my IPhone on the ping pong table and started my playlist:

Rocky theme – It was natural to grab the jumprope first and start skipping to the beat. I quickly counted the revolutions, knowing I could easily put in 100, but maintaining until the end of the song was the goal. The song reinforced that I was “trying hard now” and belted that my body would be “getting strong now”. The lyrics”won’t be long now” were also inspiring, even though I had a long road ahead of me.

I hung the rope on a nail and put on my Everlast boxing gloves.

Eye of the tiger – I went head-to-head with my punching bag knowing I was my biggest rival. This was physical and psychological exercise. After a minute or so, I made sure I had quickfire feet going too. We were face-to-face, the bag was hanging tough and I was staying hungry. My reward for this workout was going to be a hearty homemade Sunday breakfast.

When the thrill of the fight and the song ended, I noticed white spots at the top of the bag. Figuring it was the start of molding from non-use, I panted my way upstairs to get Lysol spray for the bag and to prevent an impending heart attack, a bottle of water for me.

I sipped water as I looked out the cellar window. The outside temperature has been moving around zero degrees for a week now and our wood stove has been a lifesaver. It was appropriate that I moved my workout to the ski machine:

Hearts on fire – it’s been a few months since I used the cross country setup but the rhythm came back quickly. Exercise that involves arms and legs all at once are the most fun for me. “Time would not stand still” for me now. I was focused until I realized my heart really was on fire.

Starting was the hard part but now I was enjoying myself. Maintaining is going to be the challenge to get my body back in shape, in fact there’s:

No easy way out – I listened to this track as I worked with my free weights.

I saved my least favorite, abs, for last. I climbed on the ab machine and after 25 pulls, wondered who the hell named it a “glider”? I did as many as I could and then cooled down to Coach’s ‘motivization’ speech.

It was the perfect cool down. Next time I work out and it starts to burn, I am going to hear Mickey say, “I didn’t hear no bell!”

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

I am powerful beyond measure.

I need to believe it – on Sundays and every other day.

No more excuses – as my pug is my witness.

I have come out of the basement.