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Monday, April 11, 2016

Healing...and Heeling.

My mother's birthday was Tuesday, April 5.  I had a terrible day, but after school, I went to buy two pink latex balloons.  I brought them home, used a Sharpie to write messages on them and released them.  I sent my love and messages to heaven--and I'd like to believe that my mom got the messages.

One of my friends posted a meme on Facebook that reads, "When a mother dies, a daughter's mourning never completely ends."  I think that's true.  My brothers miss my mom, too, but not like I do.  My mom and I were close.  I called her every day.  I spent every school vacation with her.  We went out to lunch and shopped and did things together that my brothers didn't and wouldn't. Our relationship was SPECIAL.

But we had almost three months to say the things we needed to say.  Many people don't get that.  At one point during her last week, she said to me, "Everyone should have a daughter."  That was without a doubt the best thing she could have said to me.  And it gives me comfort to remember that.  So things are a little day at a time. moment at a time.  I never know when grief is going to slap me in the face.  It lurks in closets and in dark corners, and I never know when it's going to rear its ugly head...but I'm trying.  One breath at a time.

So...onward.  The other "heeling" in the title refers to my footwear!  Yes.  I'm wearing heels!  Well, a wedge heel, but a heel nevertheless!  When I was large, tottering around on high shoes just wasn't practical.  First, I already have knee issues.  Second, it's hard to balance a fat body.  Sorry, ladies, but it's the truth.  I'm having to teach myself to walk all over again!  But I have purchased three different pair of wedge heeled shoes--it's FUN to be TALLER!  I know...little things make me happy.  But considering I never thought I'd be happy again...

Lastly, "heeling" could also refer to my dating life.  YUCK!  I am SO tired of married men!!! The last one, Graham, claimed to be legally separated.  He said he was living with his mother.  I won't go into details, but I discovered he was LYING.  Ugh.  So tired of it.  My dating profiles say absolutely no married men and yet...I may start asking to see divorced papers (or death papers in the case of widowers) on the first date!

It's Monday.  Try to enjoy yours--and know that every Monday eventually leads to Friday!  Have a good one if you can!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Angels in the Living Room and Make Mine a Medium

My mother passed away on a Sunday.  She went downhill remarkably quickly, but the first bad night she had was Wednesday.  She was sleeping on the sofa when she woke up panicked, complaining that she couldn't breathe.  I set her up in the recliner, gave her some medication to help her relax, and then I brushed her hair until she relaxed and finally fell asleep.  I sat in the armchair next to the recliner the entire night.

My mother's neighbor, Debbie, came over in the morning, and she and I were chatting quietly while my mother dozed.  When my mother awoke, she looked around the room and then asked, "Where'd that man go?"

Debbie and I looked at each other, and Debbie asked, "What man?"

My mom said very nonchalantly, "The man who stood behind Rhonda watching over her all night."

I know.  Goosebumps, right?  I had them, too.  And I think that I'm dealing with my mother's death well because of that.  I was protected.  I AM protected.  I miss her.  Terribly.  But something else exists beyond this life.  I do believe that now.

My mom was a tiny woman--4'9 at the time of her death.  She was heavy when I was growing up, but she lost all her weight and managed to stay small.  My mom had a LOT of clothing that still has the tags, never worn: several pair of knit pants from Sears (size petite small) and two pair of capri pants, (size petite medium.)  The knit pants fit me, (because they stretch) but I want to return them.  I'm 5'3" and petite pants are often just a little bit short.  I prefer my pants to "break" at my shoe, and these don't.  The capris are not knit but instead a cotton-poly broadcloth, so they don't stretch.  I wasn't sure they would fit me at all. 

They do.  Perfectly.  In fact, I wore a pair to school last week. 

It's hard to get my head to accept that I'm a size medium.  Bizarre.  I still feel fat, although in my heart, I know I'm not.  I still view chairs with arms as the enemy.  I still walk into a theatre and wince at the thought of squeezing into the uncomfortable chairs.  I still gravitate toward larger styles and have a very hard time purchasing clothing that flatters this new body, instead wanting to find clothing that covers--because that's what I USED to do.

Size MEDIUM.  Me.  It's surreal...and yet it's real.  Maybe my angel can help me accept that?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Grief Brain

Grief brain is a real thing.  (Google it.  Yeah, I was surprised, too!) A little over two weeks ago, the love of my life succumbed to cancer.  My mom (Surprised?  You shouldn't be; our moms are definitely our first loves--they love us unconditionally) died rather peacefully after a very short (3 months is all) battle with cancer.

My mother was 84 and didn't pursue chemotherapy because she wanted quality of life rather than quantity of life.  I'd say she accomplished that as she was only gravely ill for less than 24 hours.  The rest of the time she was laughing, eating, watching television and only someone who really knew her would even guess she was sick.

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend my mother's final week with her.  My principal is a wonderful man who said to me, "Family comes first" when I told him of my mother's diagnosis back in December.  I spent two weeks at Christmas, a few long weekends here and there and finally her last week with her.  The last week was lovely--I guess that may sound weird, but she was well enough to be good company and to let me pamper her a bit.  I rubbed her back and her feet and gave her a pedicure and manicure, which she loved.  We had real quality time together, and I have no regrets.

But my brain!  I have really struggled these past sixteen days.  One evening almost a week after she passed, I was going out with some friends.  I didn't have a key to my mother's house because I used the garage door opener.  Instead of driving that night, my friends came to get me.  I couldn't figure out what to do to be able to get into the house because I didn't have a key.  I considered leaving my car in the driveway.  That way I could take my car keys with me and then use the garage door opener to get into the house.  Then I thought about just driving myself.  I went around and around with the problem until it finally occurred to me just to TAKE the garage door OPENER.  Seriously.

I have been back to work a week today.  The past three days, I've searched high and low in my house looking for my mother's jewelry box.  Come to find out, I left it behind.  I didn't even pack it.  Fortunately, my youngest brother picked it up and took its contents.  My mom wasn't much for jewelry--she only had a few pieces, but still...!

I've left the house twice without my cell phone.  I left my reading glasses at home today.  I handed a student an eraser today when she asked for a pencil.  Yep.  I've lost it.

The good news is that I haven't lost it for good.   This article has wonderful information on the entire process.  "Emotional jet lag" is a good way to describe it.  Here's another good source of information:   

I'm at an age when so many of my friends are sharing this experience.  It's a sad rite of passage that we must all go through--but it's not easy, nor will it ever be.

(Oh...and for those of you keeping score: I weigh 144.  To date, I've lost 161 pounds.  Sorry to disappoint those who believe gastric bypass surgery doesn't work.  And it's been more than 4.5 years!)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"I am NOT Caitlyn Jenner..."

but I could be! 

Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe ESPY the other night, and people are (vocally) divided about the honor--with those against complaining that undergoing transgender surgery in a very public forum doesn't require courage.

When I had my surgery nearly four years ago, I was terrified.  Of failing.  I was afraid that the fat Rhonda would "win" and that the surgery wouldn't be successful.  I had SO many naysayers in my life: those who told me that "so-and-so had the surgery and gained back all of his/her lost weight" and "so-and-so had the surgery and now thinks that she's 'all that'" and other negative statements.  Of course, I've had a lot of support along the way (I almost spelled it "weigh"!), but there was a lot of doubt--self-doubt and otherwise.

Today, as I recover from yet another step of taking back my life (total knee replacement), I realize that Caitlyn and I have a great deal in common.  We are both finally...FINALLY...really truly living.  Living life on OUR terms.  Caitlyn Jenner, at 62, is finally living the life she's been denied.  So am I.  We both have grown out our hair, are "styling" when it comes to fashion, are comfortable with who we ARE and are finally really, truly happy.

Fat Rhonda, like Bruce and Caitlyn, was the real me living a lie.  How could anyone deny Ms. Jenner the chance to live the truth?  Should ANYONE have that much power over another human being? Of course not.  And as I wiggle my toes as part of my recovery from surgery, I know that having this knee replacement was just another stop on the road to LIFE on MY terms.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I'm BACK...with a case of the IDGAFs.

My dear friend, Jeanie, convinced me to start writing again, so here I am.  When I started this blog nearly four years ago, I did so to document my journey through bariatric surgery, better known as gastric bypass.

It's been four years on August 5, and I've kept most of the 145 pounds off.  I have gained three pounds, but I'm totally comfortable with that.  I wear between a medium and a large top, a small in some knit pants, and a 12 or 14 in dresses and jeans.  My hair is longer than it's ever been; I have a new tattoo on my wrist; I shop at Rue 21 (where I find great bargains--$2 tops?!) and two weeks ago, I pierced my nose!

So...this blog is no longer about losing weight. I'll be glad to answer any questions about weight loss surgery, of course, but my new focus is on the IDGAFs and how YOU can get a case of them, too.

For those of you who aren't sure what "IDGAF" means, it means "I don't give a F**K."  I think calling it the IDGAFs is a little more polite, but truth be told, no matter what you call it, it's the ONLY way to live your life.

We spend SO much of our lives worrying about what other people think.  Why?  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  She also said, “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

Brilliant woman, that Eleanor.  She was said to be "less than attractive" but that didn't keep her from being the powerful, articulate, inspiring woman she was.

And whatever YOUR perceived flaw(s), it/they shouldn't stop you either!  I truly have stopped worrying about what other people think.  I'm living life for the first time, I think.  I go to amusement parks and ride the most ridiculously scary roller coasters.  I wear knee-length skirts after hiding my "fat" for years.  I smile at strangers.  I've always wanted to pierce my nose--I bought little magnetic fakes and even the type of stones that one glues on.  Finally, I did it.  And I LOVE it.  I've bought jewelry to switch out when it's time, and I can't wait.

Stop waiting for others' consent--real or perceived.  Life is short.  LIVE it.  One of my friends said of a Facebook photo that I keep "getting cuter."  I told her it's because I'm living--perhaps for the first time in my life.  And I am.

I want to hear that YOU are, too.  I'm back, people...I hope you're glad to have me here, but of course, I write this for myself (and maybe Jeanie...) so if you don't like it, well...IDGAF.  :-)  But then you knew that, right?

Have a great day!  AND LIVE.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Love and Loss

Last Saturday, I lost someone who was at one time very important to me.  He died very unexpectedly from a heart attack.  Phil was THE guy in high school.  I was sure I loved him.  I bought him Brut cologne for his birthday (December 4), and he came to see me in the hospital when I had knee surgery our senior year of high school.  He was cute and funny.  He played basketball for CYO (Catholic Youth Organization), and I saw him play often.  (He wore #33.)  We often stood at our lockers and talked until we were late for class, but when it came time for prom, he took someone else.  (A someone else who turned out to be his ex-wife...)

I hadn't seen him in years--although I saw him and his son at Red Lobster last summer before I moved back to NC.  I didn't say anything to him that day because I wasn't entirely sure it was him-- he and I made eye contact, but inasmuch as I look much different than the last time he saw me, I don't think he was sure it was me, either.  But by the photograph that accompanied his obituary, I know now it definitely WAS him.  I wish I had spoken to him that day.  Sigh...

I learned of his sudden passing on a page on Facebook for my (can you believe it?) 40th high school reunion. Ironically, his son is married to a former student, and he and she had their first child (and Phil's first grandchild) on the day he died.  I was so shocked to learn of his death that I felt it had to be a mistake...until I confirmed it by reading the obit.  It just doesn't seem possible.  Even now, more than a week later, I'm still stunned and so very sad.

Phil is the third man from my past to have died.  Bill died several years ago--he was someone I had dated in my 20s who revisited me in my 40s. He had cancer, and his passing was a blessing as he suffered greatly. William passed away unexpectedly from a blood clot following spinal surgery.  I truly loved all these men but William was the only one with whom I had current contact.  I met William on AOL in 1998.  He and I had a complicated relationship--but I loved him, and I know he loved me.  He and I spoke every couple weeks; the attraction between us was still strong; in fact, the weekend before his surgery, he propositioned me, and laughing, I turned him down.  I wish I hadn't.  I wish we had met once last time...I wish we had made love one last time...I miss him so much.  I discovered on my iPhone that deleted phone messages are never truly deleted--and I was able to restore them.  I listen to them now and then when I'm missing him the most.

I'm hurting so much tonight...not just for Phil--we hadn't seen each other in years and probably had nothing in common--but for Bill and for William and for all the possibilities that just aren't anymore.  I know that people quote Tennyson, "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all", but as I sit here alone and heartbroken, I'm not so sure...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day.  I often have a hard time with this holiday--not because I don't have my own mother--but because I wanted children and didn't get to have them. My ex-husband didn't want them, and he and I didn't have sex often enough to worry about getting pregnant, so...

It's hard to have a void like this in my's a void that cannot be filled.  Before my surgery, I would try to fill it with food.  Now, since that isn't possible--and since I cannot afford to fill it with earrings or shoes (not that I wouldn't like to try!)--I've accepted that I have to FEEL the void.  It's a tough thing to do, but I'm trying.

This year, I had quite the surprise.  Two of my 11th grade students gave me Mother's Day presents!  Seriously!  One girl painted me a picture; the other gave me a gift bag with silk flowers, a stuffed animal and Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies.  (I told you--I eat everything--just not a LOT of anything!)

The gifts made me cry; I couldn't get over the kindness of these young women, who have shown me love in THE most special way.  I'm touched beyond measure.

So to everyone who has a mother, who has lost a mother, whose biological mother was a disappointment or who is or is NOT a mother, I say this:  How we know and recognize a mother figure is by her LOVE.  All of us are mothers of one sort or another--biology has nothing to do with it--it's all about LOVE.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!