UNDER THE WEATHER

I’ve been feeling low lately.  It’ll pass, I know — but since I suffered major depression years ago, I’m sometimes afraid  another bout may be coming on. And it’s been difficult to return to everyday life after my wonderful visit to Ireland  and Mothers’ Day weekend with my son and daughter-in-law — which included a pedicure,  champagne brunch,  barbecue, blog guidance, and best of all — the pleasure of their company.

I either have a cold or allergies, but have been generally miserable,  not my usual lively self. I could be sicker — am constantly reminded of that by neighbors in my senior co-op complex who have legitimate problems:  including falls, joint replacement, kidney dialysis, heart conditions and stroke. Even worse, some are afflicted with terminal crankiness.  However, in consideration of my surviving breast cancer, a mastectomy and a year of chemotherapy  32 years ago, I’ve awarded myself a medal and given myself permission to complain about trivia if I want.

When I felt a lump soon after my baby’s birth, I raced to the gynecologist. He asked:  “Why are you so nervous?  It’s only a harmless milk lump.”  He’d advised against breastfeeding, though I wanted the whole motherhood experience. “Why would you tie yourself down like that?” he remarked. No mammogram.  No biopsy. Five years later I felt another lump near the first. Probably benign in the beginning, it had turned malignant along with the new one, invading my lymph system.

The angelic surgeon who performed the mastectomy told me I’d be fine and live to raise my son. Later on, he admitted the odds weren’t in my favor.  But I believed him — and his caring words and gentle touch helped heal me. I’ve since learned that metaphysical slings and arrows randomly shot or aimed at my tender psyche were more hurtful and traumatic than physical illness.

While I’m at it, I’m also complaining about the chilly, rainy weather most of May.  After the long, snowy winter just past, it’s only fair to expect lots of sunshine now. April showers are supposed to bring May flowers — not more rain.  I’ve got a saying taped on the refrigerator:  “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. . . It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” We all know it’s more fun to dance in the sun — or under the moon, if preferred.

The weather could be worse, too. The world is more afflicted lately with earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes leaving devastation behind. I watched a report of tornado havoc down south, showing a woman interviewed in the remains of her home.  As she spoke, her cat — missing for days — ran out of the wreakage.  The woman cried its name, snatched it up and hugged it close as she said:  “Now, I’ve got everything I need.”  Thinking of my Honey, I understood.

I realize that allergies, colds and rain may be minor matters, but griping relieves me, though it may not make others happy. My mother and sister, very private people, would listen and say: “You feel better –but now we’re upset.!”  What’s actually bothering me are worries kept simmering on a back burner  since my librarian career  ended abruptly when I was 73.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was dismissed/fired/let go. Whatever way you put it, it hurt — but turned out to be one of those blessings in disguise or closed doors that lead to other open doors. And I can thank Honey, the unlikely, initial cause of  my dismissal — a shaggy-dog story I’ll tell later.

I couldn’t afford to keep my home of 33 years, where I’d hoped to spend the rest of my life, so I took out an ill-advised reverse mortgage to help pay high Long Island taxes, utilities, and oil bills. But after two years, dismayed by plummeting equity, upwardly flexible interest charges and high fees for every transaction, I decided to sell. And   I bought a co-op apartment in the next village — a new so-called “Golden Age” development for people over 62 on modest incomes.

A year later, disappointed with poor construction, faulty appliances and incompetent management, I wanted to move again, and listed the apartment with the sponsor, the Town of Hempstead Housing Authority. But the few who came to look and showed interest couldn’t sell their own homes in the slow real estate market.  I decorated, renovated, bought a new dishwasher and microwave, and convinced myself I was glad to be near Manhattan, ocean, friends, doctors, Honey’s vet, and my church a half block away — not necessarily in that order.

I’ve tried to adapt to group living. Got in trouble the first year for growing a cherry tomato plant in the dirt patch in front of my unit.  My upstairs neighbor complained  she was embarrassed when her guests saw my vegetables.  After I threw a handful of Cheerios on the snow for feathered friends, all residents got the following warning taped on our doors: “Do not feed the birds.  Their droppings will destroy our property.” The board secretary said: “We all knew it was you, Eileen.”  Community meetings are a headache and often end in shouting. I’ve stopped going.

My son wanted me to move to Baltimore where he lives, but while I’m well and able I won’t do that yet.  We have wonderful visits when he and his wife come here — and it’s only an hour’s flight to their house for me. But I’m  keeping my eyes, ears and options open for another home on Long Island. Which brings me, finally, to the inspiration and point of this post. I  have one — though you may have wondered.

Recently, Honey and I drove out east again to see a small house that sounded too good to be true.  It was. I looked quickly as I drove by — shabby looking  on a busy highway – and kept on driving.  More false advertising. Driving home in a slow line of cars in Patchogue, I heard a sudden clunk —  had bumped into the end of a long boat trailer — too long. More trouble!

The driver pulled over and I parked behind him. We examined the trailer and I apologized for a small crack in the license plate. To my relief, the good man said: “Don’t worry.  It’s nothing.”  But he noticed my front plate was missing.  I’d attached it myself, apparently not very well. Nervously, I  asked him to watch my car while I went to look for it — somewhere back in the middle of traffic. But he ran off down the street, waved his arms, dashed into the road, and came back smiling, holding my undented plate.

Thanking him, I said I’d been having a bad day. He’d been having one, too, he told me.  Then I burst into grateful tears. His kindness had cheered me up, I explained, and promised a prayer that he’d have a better day tomorrow.  So I sent one up as I continued on my way, adding that his license plate began with BB, to insure  he got the blessing. He’d done a mitzvah for me. In effect, hed given me a soothing pat on the back — as Melville advised we administer to each other in adversity.

Near home I picked up Chinese food for dinner — General Tso’s Chicken (Mild) with broccoli — a favorite of mine and Honey’s.  Sometimes I put  kibble on her people food, only for crunchiness, though.  Did you ever taste kibble?  My dinner was delicious with a glass of Pinot Grigio.  Amen.

P.S.  After kvetching for over a week — Yiddish is so expressive — I  went to the doctor yesterday and found I’d been suffering with bronchitis — which apparently can’t be cured by willpower.  Antibiotics, lots of liquids and rest should soon have me back to normal.  Amen again.

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3 Comments »

  1. Hi Eileen…I put my last comment under the wrong post….and also forgot to say good luck with posting pictures. Bx

  2. Denise Henry said

    My boyfriend, Dennis, and I really enjoyed talking with you at the pond near John Carroll school this afternoon. I am reading your blog. Maybe we will see you there again. Denise

    • I enjoyed talking to you and Dennis,too. Thanks for listening! Since I’ve had my pets, Honey and Angel, I meet so many lovely people. As I said, they’ve been so good for my health and spirits. Hope to see you both again in Bynum Run Park again. Enjoy the summer.
      Fondly, Eileen

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