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Senior? Elder? AARP? Me? June 4, 2017

Posted by voolavex in common sense, marriage, Random thoughts, Social Issues.
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I grew up in the Baby Boomer years that began in 1945/46, I went through the usual “phases” that parents like to excuse or accuse their children of entering and leaving.  I never lived anywhere long enough to actually develop phases that are memorable now.  Food oddities that came and went and too many schools and angst and I suspect it was basically just getting to being “of age” and then it simply moved forward from there.  Once I achieved “of age”, I didn’t give it much thought until recently.  Now I realize that I never got the directions on how to be “a certain age” nor the final pamphlet that covered “age”.  I am neither crochety nor am I enfeebled.  My hair is a good combination of white and mostly dark brown, I am tall and still at a fine weight for my frame.  No tweaks,  no shots, no lifts – living in the heart of Hollywood can put a smart and still looking good person in morbid fear of the “better face”.  It is not better and here you see the sad results of just why it’s not really great idea. I do have crepey skin.  Lack of exercise, DNA or too many parties of yore.  Leggings, tights and long sleeves  are all useful for this condition.  I suspect I am getting a bit of arthritis – and it runs in both sides of family and I waited for years to join the clan.  A few twinges but nothing that makes me groan or complain.  When asked about my age I am usually thrilled with the reaction, as much as I  am startled myself when I think about it.  I have two adult children and several important friends.

I was raised as a little kid by the “aunts” and my grandmother.  When I sat down recently and realized how old they were when I was born,  these role models may have brought me to where I am right now.  These were old ladies.  Two widows and a “maiden” aunt.  And their embrace of being elderly was  epic.  Steel gray hair, blue rinsed hair and touched up hair.  Housedresses – the real deal.   Corsets.  Salmony pink lace-up, hook- up and lift-up boned custom made corsets.  And yes I knew how to lace them from any early age.  Huge undies, garters, hair nets – from the dime store to contain their always permed hair.  Always.  My grandmother was the youngest of the three and she was a tad more casual but it was not a visible tad for me. Two of them wore a little lipstick and a bit of rouge – but only on occasions.  One never did.  Stocking – one wore lisle and the other two wore daytime deniers (January was when they bought them) and each one had a secret place to hide their break luck money.  The most memorable was the”budge” neatly folded bills tucked  between ample bosoms and the bank, a garter pouch of fine suede where the real money was carried.  The other two had change purses or wallets.  And they all lived to old age – two past 95.

I realized early on what I had no intention of becoming.  I might have become many things but an old lady was not one of them.  So as I sit and realize that I do in fact qualify for that term, I have no idea what I am supposed to be.  Not a clue.  I curse like a sailor, pass comment on everyone and everything, speak my mind (that can be excruciating too) and still want to know more and more about more and more.

I am vain.  I improve the landscape with cosmetics and despair of my difficult hair – but I hate to go to the hairdresser.   I wear what I have always worn – and it still keeps me au courant  style no matter what the courant of the moment is. I cannot wear stilettos. It breaks my heart. And because I am not a French woman I fail at scarves.  I must have 100+.  Lots of good jewelry I seldom wear – but no bling.  Shoes and bags need to be leather, fabric has to be grown fiber and I realize it hasn’t ever been otherwise.

So here I am, entering a phase; dazed and annoyed at things like AARP. Especially AARP.  I hate AARP.  I hate their condescending advice and presumptuous codified ads that scream “YOU ARE OLD”.  We have a wildly unruly source of information now called the Internet – so I do know how to find glasses and Depends and ear trumpets and  canes and I’ve fallen buttons. I also have a full-time husband. I hate senior communities.  I hate oldster casino trips.  Dances for the Decrepit. (or Senior Mixers as they call them or did). I do like Bingo – but not enough to seek it out.

I suspect because I have no grandchildren I can still buy myself toys and play alone.  I can frolic as others have babies and grand babies and buy memorable gifts and get photos in return.  Is it the life I imagined for myself?  The one where I didn’t get old and feeble.  Not really, but since I have no idea how to prepare for it (just as I didn’t know how to prepare for marriage, pregnancy, toothaches or nearsightedness).  I suspect I will figure it out.  But not today.

 

 

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My Mother’s Birthday April 26, 1923 -1978 April 26, 2017

Posted by voolavex in birthday, mother, serial monster, funeral, life baggage, loss, dead, death certificate, despicable, Domestic Violence, guilt, Mann & Mann, marriage, murder, My Mother, serial monster, Social Issues.
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Back in the days when domestic disputes were shameful and unreported, my mother was the dead body in a domestic murder.

In a small blue-collar town in Massachusetts. On January 24, 1978.  It was a long time ago and it was a moment ago.  It was the tragic finale to many phone calls and plane ticket reservations and telephone commiseration for a mother who simply couldn’t.  She fought back, she screamed, she saw a doctor, she drank, but she could not leave with my two much younger siblings, or the pony or the house or the lingering affection she carried for a man who was a serial monster.  Bigamist, philanderer, narcissist, sociopath and murderer.  One sib says many calls of service were made to the local police – their hands tied by 1977/1978 concepts and legalities.  Another sib tells of death threats  made to them on the night of my mother death.  I did not know anything about this part.  I only knew my mother wrote and cried and simply said “he” had a girlfriend and she was confused and didn’t know what to do.  At 54 she was probably menopausal. Not much to go on.  She didn’t want to move out with the children or leave the pets and the laundry list of excuses women have conjured for time immemorial.  I was in Los Angeles and not welcome in her house. (Actually on February 10, 1958 I was no longer welcome in her life.  At 12, I thought it was because he really loved her.)  I blame myself for not listening harder and asking more questions.  And I had no idea that physical violence was part of the picture.  Neither of my siblings (19+ and 15) called me to ask for help. My mother had pride that went before all else.  Including her funeral.

Her death certificate from that time reads  COD: undetermined.  A residual fear stops me from requesting a new one.  She will still be dead.

She was only 54. Today is her 95th birthday. May I say she was beautiful and gentle and kind? May I say by the time I arrived at her house, anything of sentimental value that had belonged to her was gone?  That her grieving husband knew I knew and it was not pleasant?  That I swallowed my rage, stepped back and stayed for the children ( I am my mother’s daughter)? That I drank and sobbed and that the tables overflowed with funeral meats and that 200+ attended her funeral in Boston? That mourners continued;  people I never knew, arrived in tears? That it was the same funeral home by her high school best friend’s parents? Mann & Mann. That I had played as small child in their huge house upstairs? That my family went back as close friends of the Manns? That the grieving husband read a sickening tribute?. And that my own father wept with me in stunned sorrow?

In 1978,  it was simply another domestic dispute. Perhaps still in the local police records – on paper in a box; with so many others of the time.  

There was no investigation.  I knew of no interviews with siblings. That police never asked me anything.  My grandmother thought it was a heart attack.  She had just lost her only child.  Was it mine to reveal?  Information continued to seep through and very long after  I found out the history of the man she had married in 1958.  From his children; who loved my mother.  I should have wondered more about the words of my dear step-brother who walked in, in 1978,  crying, and said to me, sotto voce, “what did he do to her?”

 I have always known it was murder.  I have always known he patiently waited.  I knew she did not wash down 40 or 50 pills with vodka.  She didn’t ever take Darvon and that’s what they found. I know he sat beside her and watched. I have no idea how he managed to make it happen.  He died five years later; alone  in a rented apartment in Lawrence; the other woman long gone.  He was soup when they found him.  Dead five days of a heart attack in a fall from the up high liquor shelf. One he needed a step stool to reach.  In a closed apartment on a sweltering summer day.

 

He was short and bald and had good teeth.

I could kill him again and again for his crime but she would not have wanted that.  And dead never ends. They would have been married twenty years on that February 10th.

She has been gone 39 years. Since the day my  broken heart and endless anger met all at once.  And no one of us leftover has ever been able to move on.  We try to unpack that valise, only to realize that some things travel with you forever,  in your life luggage.