Saturday, May 27, 2023

Do Some Good In The World

My older brother, John, died the other day at the not ripe old age of 62. He was #4 and I am #5. 

I called my little bro, we checked in with each other. We realized that our memories had to be very different from #’s 1, 2 and 3. They got to see John as an infant and toddler. They have memories of him growing up. My little brother and I do not have good memories of our childhood with John. He was difficult, often in trouble, had problematic friends, could be manipulative and had a lot of anger. We also do not have many good memories as an adult because he had been partially estranged with intermittent interaction that wasn’t “easy”. He was not an especially good father or husband but he did try to be a good son to my mom.

I decided I wanted to share the good that I do remember……

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around the year 2000. He came home for the first surgery. It was a big one. Gone were her ovaries, cervix, uterus, the top part of her vagina and a good section of her colon and resectioning of damaged part of the bowel. Recovery was overwhelming for her and for those of us who loved her. John showed up and he helped. 

Mom survived through 4 different rounds of brutal chemo, each lasting about 6 months. Life after the surgery was hard for her. Her bowels were never quite the same and made it hard for her to leave the house.

Near the end, we called John to let him know it was getting close. He moved back home from Florida. He was a stand up guy. He helped with appointments. He did what needed to be done which was not always pleasant or easy or comfortable. Basically, he gave her some peace at the end thinking that he would be ok.

He wasn’t ok. More things happened but they are just memories and they don’t matter anymore. I try to remember that, like all of us, he did the best he could with what he had.

From now on I will just try remember how good he treated mom in the end, the kindness he showed her. It’s a precious memory and I’m grateful to have it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Hi there…’s been awhile. 

I’m here. I’m reading but just haven’t had much to write about until today.

I started the cochlear process. Finally met with the ENT surgeon. He came in the room acting kind of frustrated, started asking loads of questions about my hearing, when I first noticed it, how it manifests itself, how much vertigo I’ve experienced, etc, and then, finally, said that he felt fairly confident that I had been misdiagnosed. Misdiagnosed by four different doctors. FOUR! It’s hard to say if part of this is gender bias. At least two of them were dismissive assholes but they might have been that way to everyone. Who knows?

Apparently bilateral Ménière’s disease is fairly rare, and my vertigo episodes do not match typical Ménière’s disease symptoms. My air/bone gap (basically the difference between the hearing through the ear vs bone conduction of sound) is huge, which is not Ménière’s disease typical either. He was angry on my behalf but need not have been. I had more than enough of my own. I guess “otosclerosis” is fairly common in child bearing women. I noticed the loss between baby 3 and 4.

If all goes as expected, my hearing loss is fairly treatable. It won’t be perfect but it will be substantially better. If he is right, and he is sure he is, I will have a stapedectomy (replacement of the stapes) and my loss will go from profound to moderate. A huge difference. This last year has been rather heartbreaking in regards to finding a decent job and connection. It is hard to make friends, develop relationships, when you can’t hear what anyone is saying unless you are alone, in a perfectly quiet room.

I will get to grateful but right now I’m angry.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Choose Well


Courage is what love looks like when tested by the simple everyday necessities of being alive.


It really does take courage to choose love in this world. To  remove all the guardrails installed with every hurt, every wrong doing, every traumatic event, all the rejections.

This week held the first truly clear days in Portland in months. It's been a long, chilly winter. The sun coming up over the Cascade Mountain range was a tender gift of renewal.

Today I will choose love. Is there really any other choice? Not for me.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Aim High

She drives past me slowly. 

This cemetery is tucked neatly in the mountains of Portland, the roads curve and meander first low towards the newer sections then circling back up the hill, high towards the original well established parts. She goes down the hill a bit and parks her little Subaru near one of the steeper portions in the area.

It takes her awhile to get out of her car and then she hobbles, slightly bent, up a strip of grass with a pronounced upward slope. Its not easy for her to get to the top. When she gets there she pauses to steady herself, perhaps catching her breath, then bends over to lay a small bouquet of flowers on the plaque. She stays in that hunched position for quite some time with her two hands on the cold plaque that bears the name she gave her baby boy.  She places a couple of Easter eggs near the bottom.

She stays there for quite awhile as the sky reflects her grief and lightly cried with her.

He was 46 when he died. A linguist for the Air Force, who was credentialed in 4 languages and fluent in 12.  He traveled the world and sought out adventure.

Rest in peace soldier. You are on your momma’s heart.

Happy Easter momma. It sounds like your son was an amazing human who lived life on his own terms. I hope his buddy Flapjack lived a long, happy dog life.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

A Step In The Right Direction

Grief has no time table. 

I feel it lifting, allowing the breath to come easier. Still, my inner teenager is hesitant to let go of it. Grief can easily be cannibalized by victimhood and victimhood is one of the tools she uses to get what she needs or wants.

She wants to use it even as I am writing this. I write but she tries to override my thoughts, cogitating on how we can still change the situation using the right words, formulating a plan. She would like to tear me from this moment and pull me back into the scary past where we sat rather low on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Where, often times, there was not nearly enough.  

“How will we keep the house, afford to repair the car, take care of our medical needs?”, she whispers in my ear. 

Those thoughts have nothing to do with the start of another beautiful day. The Great Mystery is LOVE. If I am operating out of love the past are just echoes, the future is nebulous at best and the present is here, right now. 

The past does help me populate my recovery with internal knowledge, shows me the broken tools I picked up to operate in life, gives me empathy for a little girl who was frightened that she would be abandoned in one way or another, allows me to more clearly see where I should place my next step.

One step at a time

   One day at a time

        Right here, right now 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Doing Your Homework

The Boy Scout never ceases to amaze me. 

At school, he is the teachers pet. Well, most of the teachers. One of them only tolerates him and his big presence, over confidence and ready opinion, the rest seem to adore him. He shows up early, ready to connect, putting himself confidently out there in a way that makes me envious. He advocates for himself with the professors and the staff. He wants to have them all over for dinner. They have standing invitations as soon as they are no longer his professors. 

His super power has worked in his favor, getting him on-campus work that has covered his tuition, specialty work studies and now, and best of all, an internship with an aged (so about our age) master garden who, in the past, was the director of the Portland Japanese Garden. 

Boy Scout wants to specialize in ornamental pruning. There is a good demand for qualified pruners here in town and they can make a really decent hourly wage. The more experienced of them can bring in $150 to $200 per hour. The benefit of that is that it would limit ladder time and, as the American Medical Association recommends that people over the age of 50 should not climb ladders, that is a great big bonus.

It’ll be interesting to see where this leads him. He remains open to the journey.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Casting My Net Wide

Went to an ACA speaker meeting Saturday night. I couldn’t hear so no idea whether it was good or not.

In the long church pew ahead of me was a single occupant. A woman about 30ish. She was inexpertly dressed, and her hair was a home dye job and her makeup could use a little help from a pro and, truthfully, all I wanted to do was go sit with her and tell her how beautiful she looked. She was beautiful because she was being her own true self.

I didn’t sit with her. I don’t know if I could have done it without making her uncomfortable about the big feelings I was having.

You see, my trans daughter is trying to be her very best womanly self too. She is putting herself out there day after day, being vulnerable and hoping for, in not complete and unabashed acceptance, then at least decency in return. She is a good human, kind, thoughtful and caring but that is not always what she gets in return. The other day she went to a women’s only yoga class. She checked it out carefully. It did not say CIS women only. When she got there the teacher was less than warm and made it abundantly clear she was not welcome. YOGA for gods sakes! Isn’t that a Buddhist thing? Wouldn’t you think a yoga group would be welcoming? My girl took it hard. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last but it still hurts.

Back to the woman in the row ahead of me…..

I would have liked to sit with her and tell her I loved her, and hoped that there were lots of people around who gave her unconditional love. Maybe if I do that, somewhere in Liverpool England, there will be someone that does the very same for my girl and, just maybe, turn a bad day into a good one. Or at least make her smile. I want the best for both of them. 

Next time I will step out of my shy introversion. Next time I will start a conversation with her and see where it goes. Not a big gushy one. A normal conversation of getting to know each other. 

If my Higher Power is love than I better get to spreading it around.