Fear The Walking Dead: So Near, Yet So Far

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The people of Los Angeles are starting to panic.  Principal Artie is patrolling the hallways of an empty high school.  Some residents are hitting the roads to go somewhere else and some who aren’t as aware of the danger are carrying on as normal.  Alicia decides to find out why Matt hasn’t been answering her calls and stops by his house.  The front door is open and she finds him, sick and in bed.  His parents are nowhere to be found.   Travis, Nick and Maddy, fresh off their close encounter with the dead, not dead Calvin are racing around, trying to find Alicia.  Their plan, once they locate the girl, is to pick up Travis’ ex-wife, Liza, and his son, Chris, and head out to the desert.   They finally get Alicia on the phone and she tells them how sick Matt is.

Chris is on a school bus on his way home when a man jumps aboard and starts screaming how the cops shot a homeless guy. Everyone gets off the bus to see the scene of the incident, including Chris, who begins to film the mayhem.  He’s under the impression that it’s a case of cops gone wild, and the crowd is shouting at the officers in anger and outrage. The chant from the crowd is “Hell no, we won’t go”, which would be more suitable for protesters if this was  the Viet Nam War era.    Not that it matters, because the mob has it all wrong, they just don’t know it yet.   EMTs, dressed in hazmat suits,  arrive to remove the body of the homeless man.   Another dead, not dead woman staggers into the middle of the chaos and is shot in the head by an officer.

Maddy, Travis and Nick arrive at Matt’s house and Travis sees the bite mark on Matt’s shoulder.   Matt keeps telling Alicia that he’s going to be fine, but the other three know differently.  All four decide to leave Matt to whatever fate awaits him, against Alicia’s wishes, and head home.   One of the neighbors is setting up their yard for their nine year old’s birthday party – bouncy castle and all –  while another is packing to get the hell out of Dodge.   Travis still hasn’t reached Liza or Chris, so he decides to go over to their house.   He tells Maddy that if he’s not back soon, to leave without him.  Leave for where?  The desert?  Where in the desert?  At least give her a description of the cactus where you’ll all meet up.  That’s the most basic part of an emergency plan, isn’t it?  Rendezvous point 101.  Nick is starting to feel the effects of going without drugs for the better part of a day and Maddy makes the decision to leave Alicia in charge and go out to find something to hold off his withdrawals.   Before she leaves, she does walk across the street to tell the neighbors that a birthday party might not be the best idea under the circumstances.

Travis gets Liza on the phone, at last, and tells her about the plan to leave, but she thinks he’s nuts and tells him that she’ll see him on his court mandated weekend visit.  As he continues on, Travis sees that traffic is tied up in just about every direction and even a cop is loading cases of water into the trunk of his car.  He manages to get to Liza’s house, and fills her in, as best as he can, about the growing insanity that’s taking over the city.  When they do talk to Chris on the phone, he’s determined to stay at the site of the shooting and join the rest of the clueless engaged in righteous indignation directed at the police.   The two turn on the TV and figure out where he is, and, of course, head right for it.

Maddy is at the high school, on her mission to find something to tide Nick over for a while.  After getting her key to the nurse’s office, she breaks into a locker where student’s prescriptions are kept and grabs a few bags of whatever she finds appropriate.   She’s surprised by Tobias, who asks for his knife.  He’s there for a little stockpiling of his own, by taking food from the school cafeteria.  As he and Maddy make their way through the halls, he tells her all about how this unfolding disaster is going to go down.  He knows in what order the utilities will be lost, what businesses will be looted.   How does he know, you ask?  He knows because he’s a teenage boy who plays video games, absorbs  everything on the internet and can probably hack into the International Space Station.   They hear noises on the intercom system and realize that somewhere in the building is one of the undead.   Just like that, and they find that it’s Principal Artie.  Maddy moves to help her friend but Tobias knows that that’s a horrible idea and lunges at the man with his knife.   Apparently, Tobias hasn’t quite caught up with the idea that only a head shot stops these things, and he and the principal fight and fall down the stairs.  Maddy grabs a fire extinguisher and begins to pummel the man, until she finally does enough damage to his skull to end it.  They make their escape, and Maddy drives Tobias home.  Realizing that his parents are also missing, she offers to take him home with her.  He assures that he’ll be fine and also tells her that this thing that’s going on isn’t going to end.   “They don’t die.  They come back.”  He’s right. They do. Go for the head.

Travis and Liza are at the scene of the shootings and searching for Chris.   More police have arrived, in riot gear, and are trying to control the mob.   Fires have been started and buildings are being vandalized and looted.  After locating Chris, Travis and Liza run with him to a barber shop which is trying to close.  The barber lets them in, reluctantly, and they, with the blessing of the barber’s wife are allowed to stay there until things quiet down.  It could be a long wait.

Alicia is worried about Matt and tells Nick that she’s going to check on him.  This is a great idea, don’t you think?  I mean, what’s wrong with one more teenager on the loose when you’re in the middle of God knows what kind of mess?  Before she can get out the door, Nick has a seizure, which really pisses his sister off.   Now she has to stay and take care of him.  Bummer.  Maddy gets home and hands Nick some of the oxys she found at school, then takes the rest of her stash and her bloody jacket into the bathroom – and starts to cry.  Travis calls to tell her that he, Liza and Chris are okay but that they’ll be held up a while.  Something explodes outside the barber shop and angry voices can be heard.  Travis tells Maddy to go on ahead to the desert and he’ll meet them there.  The barber’s wife prays, then prays some more.

When Maddy and Travis hang up, Alicia and her mother hear screams and look out the window to see one of their neighbors being attacked by another, right in front of the bouncy castle.  Alicia tries to go out to help, but Maddy stops her.   This is how it starts, this thing that doesn’t end.  It’s still early and there’s no sense of purpose yet, no feeling that maybe you should help that person under who’s under attack, because it could be you next.   Rick Grimes is still in a coma and Atlanta isn’t faring much better at this point.   Los Angeles should listen to Tobias.

The barber’s wife recites a rosary, beginning with a Hail Mary, stops praying and extinguishes her candles.

FTWD won’t be back until September 13th.  See you then.  

Empress

 

 

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Fear The Walking Dead: Pilot

Fear The Walking Dead - Cast

When the producers of a hit TV show with a loyal and discerning fan base announce a spinoff , viewers tend to give it a little side eye.  Better Call Saul is an example of a show that lived up to expectations of those of us who missed Breaking Bad – and those were some very big shoes to fill.  It also acted as a prequel to the saga of Walter White/Heisenberg and Jesse Pinkman, the same way Fear the Walking Dead presents a storyline that predates The Walking Dead.

“Fear” takes place in Los Angeles, which isn’t a bad locale to offer some change of scenery and a different set of characters from the Atlanta location.   It also starts out at some point before Rick Grimes woke up from a coma to a world that had already become something unrecognizable.   A teenager, Nick, wakes up from a drug induced fog, in an abandoned church which now serves as a shooting gallery, calling to his friend, Gloria.  He finds her, in the middle of a very bloody scene, munching on a hapless victim.   Nick runs from the church and is hit by a car, then taken to a hospital.

We next see a family, split by divorce and trying to come together as only weekend parents can.   Travis is the live in boyfriend of Madison – Maddy – who is Nick and Alicia’s mother.   Travis also has a son of his own, Chris, who isn’t happy with any of the arrangements, which becomes clear as he reluctantly tells his dad that he’ll come over for his weekend visit.   Travis is a high school teacher and Maddy is a guidance counselor at the same school.

When they get the call about Nick’s accident, they go to the hospital, where the cops tell them about Nick’s rantings.   He had talked about blood and gore and viscera, but almost everyone thinks it’s just the drugs talking.   That would probably be the answer under normal circumstances, but there’s also bits of news about some sort of virus which is making people kill each other and has reached at least five States.   One of the high school students is way ahead of the curve, already carrying a knife to school, just in case.   Travis goes to the church to see for himself and finds that it’s just as Nick described.

Nick, still in the hospital, and awaiting a psychiatric evaluation, is presented with a bed pan  by a nurse who tells him that she decides when he’s to use it, just like she expects from her dog.  He asks her to untie one of his restraints to make it a little easier, and when she does, he waits for her to leave and starts to undo the second restraint.  The bed pan crashes to the floor, and the patient in the next bed codes.   The patient is whisked away, and Nick grabs the man’s clothes and makes his way out of the hospital.

While this is all going on, Alicia and her boyfriend, Matt, are meeting on the bleachers and making plans to see each other at Venice Beach.  There really isn’t much more to say about her, because, at least during this episode, all she really did was act annoyed, be annoying and exhibit teenage angst.  Matt never did show up at the beach.  Maybe that’s something.

Maddy and Travis are notified that Nick is gone and go in search of him.  Maddy thinks that they should look for him at the church, and when they enter, the bodies are gone.   Maddy sees the drug paraphernalia and breaks down.   Their next stop is to see Calvin, a friend of Nick’s but he swears he hasn’t seen Nick for a while.    On their way home, Travis and Maddy run into a traffic jam.  Police cars and helicopters are everywhere and they hear gun shots.  Travis moves over a couple of lanes and they make their way out of there.

When they get to school the next morning,  They see a new report about the incident they drove past the night before.  A man is seen fighting with EMTs and cops,  beaten and shot, but still fighting.  The only thing that stops the man is a head shot – but we knew already knew what it would take.  We’re seasoned veterans.   The school officials decide to close early.  In the meantime, Nick has bought himself a burner phone and is meeting with Calvin at a diner.   Calvin isn’t happy with the visit from Nick’s parents because, as we find out, Calvin is Nick’s supplier.  After asking Nick how long it’s been since he’s had a fix, Calvin drives Nick to an isolated area, then takes a gun out of the trunk of his car.  The two fight over the gun and Calvin is shot and killed.

Nick calls Travis, and when Travis arrives with Maddy, Nick tells them what’s happened.  They drive to the place where the fight took place and Calvin’s car is there, but there’s no sign of Calvin.  We knew that, too.  As Travis starts to back out of the tunnel, he sees Calvin approaching.  He and Maddy get out of the truck and approach Calvin, who’s bleeding heavily from his wound. Calvin then lunges at them and nearly bites Maddy.   As they struggle, Nick takes the wheel and runs Calvin over.   He’s still moving, so Nick runs him over again.  As Travis, Maddy and Nick watch, Calvin looks at them and snarls.

It wasn’t a bad beginning, at all.   We just need to see more walkers, or whatever they call them in California.  I’m sure it will be something  ominous, like kale salad.

Empress

 

 

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Notes From The Widow’s Walk

Grief is a sneaky son of a bitch.  It lulls you into a false sense of security, lets you think you’re doing okay and then pushes you right off the ledge.    It happens over and over, like some cruel remake of Groundhog Day, to the point that you don’t  trust yourself to do the smallest thing, for fear you’re just going to free-fall and hit the painful bottom once more.   It also doesn’t care when it makes its moves.   I’ve come to approach just about everything I do with more caution than optimism.   I’ve stood in the cereal aisle of the grocery store and cried because there were all those boxes of my husband’s favorite cereal on the shelves.   The tears  came again when I went to Home Depot to pick out paint and found myself thinking about past trips there.  My husband looked at Home Depot the same way a child looks at Toys ‘R’ Us – as a giant playroom, chock full of things just waiting to be explored, taken home and enjoyed – even if we didn’t really need them.

If you’re familiar with the works of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, then you know that she describes the five stages of the dying process.  Well, the five stages of grieving are exactly the same.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise because grief feels very much like you’re dying.  In a way, pieces of you have died.   If you’ve loved someone long enough,  shared their life for decades,  you become a part of them and they become a part of you.   Their absence feels as if someone has gutted you or peeled back your skin, leaving you ragged and raw.   The pain isn’t  some phantom pain.  It’s real and it’s excruciating.   I’ve felt each and every one of those stages,  sometimes more than one at the same time.  And you don’t get through them, you don’t get to check them off the list, because they come back to visit  when you least expect it.  Sneaky bastards.

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who walked the earth with a certain confidence – ballsy and bulletproof.   Now I know that a good deal of that confidence came from the man who presided over my fan club.  Without him,   there’s a gaping hole in my armor.   I handle things differently now.  I’m more vulnerable, more afraid.   I hate feeling like that, but I can’t seem to shake it.   I’ve had conversation with others who have lost their partners, and they say the same things.   Your center is gone, you’re off-kilter and now you’re just trying to maintain some sort of equilibrium.   Take it from me,  that loss of balance can and does make you puke.

The notion of moving forward seems an impossibility at the moment.  I go through the movements.   That’s it.  I try to accomplish something each and every day, but it’s as if I’m on auto-pilot.   The things I manage to do seem hollow, empty, because there’s no one to reassure me, admire what I’ve done and tell me “atta girl”.    I do these things anyway because I want to believe I’m creating a life for myself, a life as a single person – a widow.   I can’t tell you how much I hate that word.

Everyone tells you not to make any major decisions about your life for at least a year after losing a loved one,  a spouse in particular.   I have no intention of doing anything even close to life altering.  Hell, it took me two hours to choose from among three shades of parchment at Home Depot’s paint department.  Seriously, beige is beige, no matter what fancy name you give it.   Planning anything beyond the next 24 hours isn’t even a consideration.

One of the worst aspects of widowhood is the loneliness, the quiet that falls over a house when only one person lives in it.  I’ve had long, serious conversations with my dogs but, while they’re excellent listeners,  they’re not big on responding.   It’s the kind of loneliness that can’t be overcome, even in a room full of people.  You see, I know and understand, even if no one else does,  that there was a person who could fill a room, even when it was only two of us,  and he’s no longer available.

People, friends and family, tell me that it will get better over time but I don’t know what better means.  Does it mean that the pain subsides or that you just learn to manage it?   I’d like to think that it will somehow get easier, that I’ll learn how to control the grief attacks with distractions and coping skills, but getting better is a lot to ask.  Ms. Kubler-Ross said it much better than I am. “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

I’m just about through with all of the “proof and paperwork” side of death.  I’m also packing up my husband’s things and donating them.  Yesterday, I dropped off bags of  those things, enough to fill the back of my SUV, and left them with the nice man at Goodwill.  I then drove to Kroger to do my grocery shopping and couldn’t get out of the car until I stopped sobbing.   I told myself, when I was packing them up, that it was just stuff, but I was wrong – very wrong.  It seems that with every step forward, there’s also a very visceral, gut-wrenching reaction to it, even when it comes to shirts, jeans and sneakers.

I have a plan, though.  I want to find out who am I am now.  I want to get to that place where memories make me smile instead of bringing me to my knees.  I’m not the person who was married and I’m certainly not the person I was before I became half of a couple.  So, yes, I’ll repaint the master bedroom and put up the new curtains and make up the bed with the beautiful new bedding, the very feminine bedding, I might add.  And then I’ll move back into that room because I know I have to.  It’s a baby step in the healing process, but a step nonetheless.

Wish me well, my friends.   I’m going to need it.

Empress

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The Real Housewives of New York City – New House, Old Grudges

Housewarming In The Hamptons - The Real Housewives of New York City

The ladies spent most of the time in the Hamptons.  Bethenny arrived, eventually.  You see,  what’s happened is that Dr. Amador morphed into Matt Foley and Bethenny has been living in a van down by the river.   It’s sad, really.  All that money and she can’t find anyplace to live except for the backseat of a (chauffeur driven)  car.

LuAnn is selling everything from her old house – light fixtures, floor tiles, toilet paper holders, the works, because the buyer is tearing the place down.   She has some new digs in Sag Harbor, which Sonja finds “cozy” –  Sonja’s code word for one step above government housing.   Dorinda and Ramona stopped by and Ramona starts to talk with LuAnn about the memories she has of the house.  She also pulled LuAnn aside to apologize for the things she’s said in the past.  She says that she now understand how it is to walk in someone else’s shoes, especially when it comes to cheating husbands.  LuAnn accepted the apology, cautiously.  It sounded sincere to me.

Ramona is going to have Dorinda and Sonja stay with her at her house and gives Dorinda the room normally reserved for Sonja.  Sonja isn’t happy about the arrangements and says that she’s been relegated to Mario’s doghouse.  She then proceeds to talk about all of her houses, in Aspen and France and New York, some of which aren’t hers anymore and some of which may be turned over to satisfy a couple of lawsuits.   It’s classic Sonja in all of her delusional grandeur.  Dorinda  pretty accurately described her as Mary Poppins meets Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Back at LuAnn’s, Carole has met LuAnn’s new chef, Adam,  and is immediately smitten.  She’s even willing to pretend to know how to cook just to stay in the kitchen with him.   Kristen arrives.  I think that’s all she did – arrived.  If she said or did anything else, it wasn’t very memorable.

Ramona, Dorinda and Sonja go out for lunch and are joined by Ramona’s sister, Tanya.  Sonja starts asking Dorinda about her dry cleaner boyfriend, but it seemed like an opportunity for Sonja to bring up Mario – over and over.  Ramona makes it clear that she doesn’t want to talk about him, but it wasn’t clear to Sonja.  She just kept prattling on and on about Mario and how he must be like John the dry cleaner because one is Italian and one is Armenian.   That makes sense, right?  Spaniards, Norwegians, Estonians, Greeks –  same difference.  They’re all European.

LuAnn is playing hostess for a dinner party ate her new house for all of the ladies.  Lady Morgan shows up with some bottles of Corona in her purse.  They weren’t a housewarming gift, they were her beverage of choice.  It must be a high society thing.   Then Bethenny arrives and the entire dynamic changed.  Bethenny said that she was concerned about the reception she’d receive and she had good reason to be.  Ramona straightened her back as only Ramona can and was ready to go after every word Bethenny said.  Bethenny asked Ramona about her dating life and Ramona said that she was keeping the company of men.  Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds the a courtesan.  Bethenny said as much and commented that Ramona must be doing men, banging men, f**king men, sucking men.    In her talking head, Carole said that it was like watching a battle of the alpha dogs.

Heather didn’t cut Bethenny much slack, either.  She mentioned that LuAnn had a copy of Bethenny’s first book and that she understood that LuAnn helped Bethenny invent Skinnygirl Margaritas.  She laughingly said that Bethenny owed LuAnn a car or a Rolex.  Heather said that if she were to ever sell Yummy Tummy for ginormous dollars that she’d buy the friend who helped her name the company a car.

It only got worse for Bethenny when she invited the ladies to her house in the Hamptons to brunch in the morning.  Ramona started peeing on her house guests’ legs to mark her territory and began to lecture Bethenny on guest protocol.  According to Ramona, one can’t ask someone else’s guests to do anything or eat anything or say anything without first asking permission from their hostess.     She then sought a ruling on the matter from the highest authority by asking the Countess for her opinion.  LuAnn mumbled something which really didn’t help things much. Yes. Maybe. No.

Bethenny then went outside with LuAnn to find out if Ramona had stolen one of Monty’s pills and was high.  Oh, sorry, wrong Housewives.   While they were outside, Ramona tells the others that she sent them an email inviting them for brunch.  No one seemed to have gotten the email and Ramona says that her computer has been putting her emails in the trash.   Dontcha just hate when that happens?   Well, it doesn’t matter, because Ramona insists she sent it and they should have accepted her invitation whether they got it or not.   She called dibs and that’s that.

Ramona then takes her story of the disappearing emails outside to explain the situation to Bethenny.  Bethenny is having none of it, though, and tells Ramona that she doesn’t want to hang out with her.   Ramona begins to channel Kelly Bensimon and, while speaking in the softest of voices, tells Bethenny to take a breath and calm down.   Somewhere, in Australia, Alex McCord is smiling and nodding.

We don’t know where the ladies are going for brunch.  We’ll find out next week.   Stars99 will fill you in on the details then.  If you missed her recap of episode one, you can find it here – http://lynnfam.com/2015/04/08/real-housewives-of-new-york-city-the-b-is-back/  I promise you, it’s worth your while.

I don’t know why Sonja’s missing from the picture.  If I were LuAnn,  I’d be checking the kitchen – or Noel’s cottage.  An ankle monitor might be a good idea.

Empress

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Taking Care

I’ve been writing this for weeks, maybe months.  It’s on scraps of paper, notes to myself and in my head.  It’s my life now – our life.  There’s a new rhythm to our marriage that wasn’t what we wanted but life doesn’t always go according to plan so we deal with it, put one foot in front of the other and carry on what with what’s been given us.  Part of my struggle with publishing this is that we’re intensely private people.  I’ve never written anything so personal before and I wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t gotten my husband’s support on telling this story.  He is, after all, not only my best friend but my biggest fan and critic, as I am his.

I’ll cut right to the chase.  My husband is dying.  The difficulty of seeing that in print is indescribable.   He’s been seriously ill for well over a year, now, and there is no hope for recovery.  He has Stage IV COPD – end stage, to be perfectly blunt.  His lungs have finally succumbed to too many years of cigarette smoking.  Yes, he made bad choices, ignored the warnings and is paying the ultimate price for it.    This disease is horrible.  The inability to breathe, to take a deep breath, have led to all sorts of damage to his entire body.  Every calorie he takes in is just as quickly gobbled up by the labor of simply taking another breath.  At 5’7″,  he now weighs 108 pounds.   No amount of milkshakes or Twinkies can help to put any weight on him, so he is reduced to someone who looks not only frail but fragile.  Cooking what he wants doesn’t always work, either.  Eating is its own struggle when breathing is the priority.   Any part of a meal that’s consumed is a victory, even though it means that he’s totally exhausted afterwards.

Other more undignified things happen to someone with advanced COPD.  I won’t detail all of them, but suffice to say that most of his bodily functions aren’t working the way they’re supposed to work.  The medications he has to take to stay alive add to the problem.  Long term use of prednisone has left him looking bruised, and his skin has the consistency of tissue paper.  When he falls, and he’s fallen more than once, his skin also falls away, making for weeks of ointments and bandages until it repairs itself.

The lack of oxygen and poor circulation have made him, for lack of a better description, a little loopy.  He tries to find the word he wants to say, and, when he can’t think of it, becomes frustrated  – with himself and with me for not grasping what it is he wants.   He has flashes of anger during these times, which send me off to another part of the house in tears.   I tell myself that it’s the illness talking, but the hurt is still there.  I still see the lovely, sweet, kind man I married 36 plus years ago and find it hard to always understand that he doesn’t mean to lash out.

In fact, a lot of my time is spent trying to keep a happy face on while, on the inside, I carry equal parts tension, sadness and terror.   Several times a day I check to make sure he’s still breathing, watching for the barely perceptible rise and fall of the bed covers.  I take my own deep breath when I see that he’s still with me.   It’s then that I can go about my day.

Going about my day is a tricky thing.  I have to be ready to change my plans depending on how he feels at any given moment.   Our outings have been reduced to numerous doctors’ appointments and, for me,  grocery shopping.   Getting him ready for his appointments is a marathon session, as donning each article of clothing requires a rest period.  His home oxygen machine has to be replaced with a portable model.  Extra batteries and medications have to be packed and put into the car.  By the time we’ve left the driveway, his disposition has turned surly, as he’s already tired just from the preparation for the trip.  Most of the time I try to keep silent on the way, as I’ve learned that my attempts at lightening the mood don’t really matter.

As his care giver in chief, I’ve become an expert on this disease.  I’ve learned the language and understand the tests he takes with each doctor.  I’m fluent in pharmaceuticals that relate to COPD, and can administer, monitor and look for side effects for each and every prescription.  Google is my friend, leading me to websites which explain what the doctors are trying to achieve.

We are lucky enough to have a friendship with my husband’s cardiologist, and she also happens to be our neighbor.  She has never lost patience with either of us, or refused to take our calls, even when they’re from me, in the middle of the night, having a panic attack because something doesn’t seem right.  During one of my last overwrought conversations with her, she told me that she would see to it that hospice care would be put in motion, and, this week, she made good on her word.   A whole team of professionals have joined us.   A visiting nurse has been to the house twice, and she, like some sort of medical drill sergeant, has seen to it that we have what we need to make my husband more comfortable.   A hospital table, wheel chair, new oxygen machine and special pillow were delivered by the next morning.  FedEx has made two deliveries, bringing a plethora of medications.

As much as I find some comfort in having the hospice workers at our beck and call, there is a new sense of dread involved.   It’s hard to explain, but I suppose that it’s the sense that this is a real thing, that my efforts aren’t enough.  It’s as if the illness has turned into its own entity and nothing I can do will change its course.  We’re not in denial about the outcome, well maybe I was, on some level, but this new-found help represents a game changer, in my mind.  In one of the FedEx deliveries was a container of morphine.  It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the need for it at some point.  Our doctor friend had explained why she would order it.   I see it, however, as another reminder of the severity of this illness.  When I administered the first dose to my husband, my hands shook and I hovered over him until I was certain he was going to be okay.  Frankly, I hover a lot lately.

The illness has claimed me as a collateral victim.   All of the worry and stress have taken its toll on me, too.  Sleep, which has never been easy for me, is nearly impossible now without some sort of medication.   Even then, it’s not what one would consider restful.  I wake up tense and with a sore jaw, having slept with my teeth clenched.   My back and shoulders ache from tension.   I pop Tylenol like candy, but nothing really puts a dent in how I feel.  It’s there, all the time.   I find it hard to concentrate on anything.  Reading a book, watching TV or even walking through the grocery store, my mind drifts back to what has taken over our lives.   You see, our lives are not ours anymore.  The illness is calling the shots, for both of us.

I’ve told friends and family that I feel as if I’m disappearing – the person I once was no longer exists.  The illness steals parts of both of us.  The couple we were has turned into the patient and the care giver.  I miss those people.  I miss our impromptu dances in the kitchen when one of our favorite songs is playing. I miss the man who could make me laugh when I wanted to be mad as hell.   That used to really piss me off, but I’d give anything for his goofy self again.   More than anything, I miss just talking to him.  He was always my sounding board, giving me advice or not, depending on the situation.  No one knows me like he does and no one ever will.

Our long conversations have been had.  The future has been discussed.  Plans and arrangements have been made.  Grief has already begun.  This illness and all of the things that have taken place feel like some sort of long, drawn out dress rehearsal for being his widow.  Learning to do everything myself feels like I’m preparing for the time when it will be just me.  I spend hours alone, finding ways to keep busy or distracted by other things.  The quiet sometimes seems like too much to bear.  Despite the people around me and the hospice workers, the journey is incredibly lonely.  I  cry at the drop of a hat and at the most inappropriate times.  Any random act of kindness, even an offer to carry my groceries to the car can bring me to tears.  I’m just so tired and overwhelmed, so any help seems like a lottery win.

I’ve learned a lot about life and myself through this ordeal.  I’ve found out that I’m not as impatient as I once thought I was.   I’ve come to realize that I can’t do it all, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.   People are more than happy to lend a hand if you just ask for it.  I’ve become more tolerant and understanding of those who make mistakes or do things that aren’t necessarily good for them.  We’re imperfect beings and, at some level,  no one is without their fair share of faults and flaws.  The biggest lesson is this though – wherever this road takes us, and whenever it ends,  I know that I have been loved, more than I could ever had hoped and for that, I’m grateful.

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Take care,

Empress

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Saturday Special – continued – what I learned

meAt some point in each of our lives, we learn 2 simple truths. First, we don’t know everything and second, we are not invincible. I met some people in rehab that helped make that completely clear to me..Part of what am addressing is he know it all thing. We see people and right away at a glance assume we know everything about  them. Clearly nothing could be further from the truth.

I  had a private room for about a week out of the 5+ months I was there. For the most part the roomates were eventless. There was one however who was a plain junkie addicted to opiates. He would call 911 every night to try and get his fix from the hospital. It never worked and they finally moved him to a different room.I think the nurses finally got sick of him and he wasn’t participating in the recovery process. The one who followed him was complete with dementia, with a violent streak.. He was a returning customer and quite the asshole..One night he threatened me with the leg support to my wheelchair.. They moved him out that night after I promised to sue the staff, the administrators ,and the owner of the facility. That after I also promised them he would be sent out of the window to the parking lot below.. They were all apologetic the following morning so they must have believed me. Two weeks later the admins came to me to find out what had happened..These people have the brains of a wet rock.. I think the rock is more intelligent.. Some them had giant poles up their butts. I have a lot more gripes about all of them but that is enough for now.

Everyone on my floor had had surgery of some sort.The floor I was on was the ‘rehab’ floor. That means you have to participate or say goodbye… When I first got there I was one floor up which is a long term resident floor. Some are there permanently, others, like me, they stick up there because they don’t know what else to do with them. I was one of those and they pretty much ignored me. That is until I pitched a bitch. Squeaky wheel sort of thing. They were content to let me lay there and rot. I guess that is what that floor was for.. Two floors up was the nut house. Whatever you are thinking about me, I didn’t belong there either… I am convinced half the people on my floor belonged on that nuthouse floor. On the surface most of the people seemed normal but that is where the normality ended. I will take a few of these case by case at a later date with one exception.

Meet Angel aka Bobby.. He is woman on top, still man on the bottom.. Get the picture? This is the one however who blew my assumptions out of the window. The first was that he was gay. Not true.. For whatever reason, he lived as a woman. He said his original path to change was due to hormones in food and such. Okay, whatever but he chose through shots of female hormones to finish the job. It all seems far fetched to me but who am I to dispute it? In a way I felt bad for the guy as he was basically alone in this world. Most if not all of his family had turned their backs on him by this point and would have nothing to do with him. He didn’t seem the type that would piss on your leg and tell you it’s raining. All in all a pretty decent person.. While there he turned into something I never imagined, a friend. It made the days go faster anyway..

There were some who had convinced themselves they were were THE answer needed by everyone in the place. Including the preacher who told me I was going to hell because I didn’t want to pray with him. I told him I would be sure to visit him there. He never bothered me again. Neither did the shrink who couldn’t convince me I must be depressed because I had lost my leg..

In a way, generally this place was kind of sad. Many of the residents were hoping beyond hope that their family they remembered having would visit them and get this place in order for them. In reality, they were there to be forgotten and die.. However it happened, Sad…What many of them have to look forward to is the quarterly trip to WalMart, after their SS checks arrived of course… “Welcome to WalMart… Get yer shit and get out..” ;)

Most days all I could imagine was Motel Hell and One flew over the cookoo’s nest complete with nurse ratchet..Emphasis on the nest and the nurse.. I do have a great deal of respect for many of the nurse’s aids in this place.If not for them this would have been complete hell. There were a few who seemed to make hell their goal but I didn’t have to deal with them very often. They were mostly the type who would roll their eyes and bitch when asked to do their jobs.

That is about it for now, I will continue with this saga at a later date.. For now I want to wish you all the best of holidays, however you celebrate them.. Also I want to thank each of you who attempted to keep me in touch and informed of all the reality goings on. Peace to each of you AND our departed friends, whether I got along with you and them or not ;)

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Sons of Anarchy – Gemma

There are only two episodes left in this seventh and final season of Sons of Anarchy and it appears that Gemma Teller-Morrow is about to receive her punishment for being the worst mother to ever grace our television screens.  There’s no small irony in the fact that the truth about her evil ways is coming from one of her beloved grandsons, Abel.

Gemma has always been able to convince herself, and, for the most part, everyone else, that the only thing that mattered in her life was her family.   Along the way, she’s committed all sorts of sins to keep her family intact, until she committed one murder that sent her family and the members of SAMCRO into a spiral of wanton and often unnecessary violence.  She was so driven by blind rage and some very bad information, that she killed her daughter in law, Tara.

Gemma has never favored any of the women in her son, Jax’s, life.  Wendy, who is Thomas’ mother, was a junkie, too strung out to care for her son and driven from the family in order to save him from a life with her.  Tara, however, did nothing even close to that to earn Gemma’s hatred. All she wanted was for her husband and children to get away from the outlaw biker life and as far away from the little town of Charming as they could get.

When Gemma chose to kill Tara, she did so because she believed that Tara was working with law enforcement to take the club down and put Gemma’s son in prison.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, but Gemma had reached a point where she only heard what she wanted to hear and believe.  If she though Tara was a snitch, that was good enough for her.

With Juice as her co-conspirator and fellow murderer – he did, after all, shoot Eli – things should have improved for Gemma.  But even she couldn’t live with what she had done.  The truth about Tara and her lack of involvement in the charges against Jax manifested into her own tell-tale heart.  She began to have conversation with the dead Tara, asking for forgiveness and promising to take care of her “boys”.   She also took a moment to ask baby Thomas for his forgiveness and it was that conversation that was overheard by Abel.   Kurt Sutter has never made a secret of the fact that he borrowed a lot of the storyline of Sons of Anarchy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  This becomes even more obvious as we see Gemma become as deranged and delusional as Gertrude did.  Gertrude also vowed to care for her family and it drove everyone around her into madness, and some to their deaths.  In Gemma’s case, her overwhelming desire to protect her family was the thing that ended up destroying it.

Abel also began to fall into the abyss of madness, acting out in school and waving a hammer around in his own effort to protect his little brother.  He was torn between the love he has for his grandmother and the awful words he had heard her speak.  He wasn’t sure how and when to articulate what he’d heard and, when an accidental injury happened, he took the opportunity to hurt himself and blame his grandmother for his wounds.  This put his school’s wheels in motion and Gemma was forbidden from going near the young boys.

Wendy, who has turned her life around, stepped in to care for them and Jax decided that it was time to tell Abel who his “first” mommy was.  While tucking his son into bed, Jax found out who had killed Tara and now we’re left to see how Jax will deal with this horrific act of betrayal by his mother.  Nero has pleaded with Jax not to kill her, for the simple fact that it would be an act Jax would never be able to live with.  It seems she has no allies left, for even Wayne Unser has thrown his hands in the air and refuse s time support any of them anymore.  Those of us who have followed this story for seven seasons have been hoping that there would be some sort of justice dealt to Gemma for her lies, manipulations and misdeeds.  From all appearances, we may finally get our wish.  Juice said that it was to late – for everybody.  I have no doubt that Sutter will deliver a punishment worthy of Gemma’s crimes.

Empress

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