Random

You know that moment when you hear a song that you haven’t heard in years?   You hear it on the radio and you suddenly turn the radio up and out of nowhere you remember each and every word to the song.    Depending on the emotions that emerge when you hear the song it can be a very melancholy experience.   Memories of growing up,  an event that impacted your life,  or even just a song you played over and over again when you were 16.   When that happens it can affect your mood greatly whether it be good or bad.    That happened to me a few mornings ago while I was at work of all places.
One of the radio stations we tune into at work plays a show called the ’80’s lunchbox’.   It’s all listener requested songs and at sometime during the show they do a segment called the ‘Forgotten 45″   a song that’s long since forgotten but if you are a child of the 80’s like me hearing those bring back  memories of back in the day.    Well, the other day I heard a song that did just that..    It was a song by Peter Schilling back in 1983 called “Major Tom”.    It’s the theme of David Bowie‘s 1969 album Space Oddity, the song is about the character being caught in an accident in space.    As soon as the song started playing I remembered the words from start to finish… only in German.

Being the teen geek that I was, I preferred the German version to the English.  Always loved Peter Schilling’s voice and when he sang it in his language to me it brought out a more intense version.  I didn’t try to actually LEARN how to speak German until years later when my husband and I moved there,  but I knew an entire song pretty dang close to fluent.

Random I know,  but still worth mentioning.. 🙂

Forgiveness and Fear

Boy,  this is going to be a tough one.   It’s been on my mind a lot lately so I may as well get it out.   Now that I’ve gotten my writing mojo back for a time there are a ton of other drafts sitting waiting to be completed,  but those can wait a bit longer.

When people in your life start dying it’s normal to question your own mortality.    When you’re young it rarely (or at least with me)  crossed my mind that I, too would grow old, sick and die someday.   Death seemed like a long long way off so why even worry about it?    You hear about so and so who died after a long battle with cancer,  or so and so who was killed in a car accident.    Either way it starts to sink in that death is inevitable and eventually your time will come.

My grandma on my mom’s side passed away after suffering from dementia.   My last memories of her were when she was in the nursing home crying without her teeth.   The staff had misplaced them.     She was thin and gaunt and didn’t look anything like the grandma I used to watch Benny Hill with.  The worse she got the less I was taken to see her.    Eventually I didn’t go at all,  I think my mom wanted to make sure I remembered her in a more positive light,  which I can say now I’m glad she did.    Grandma passed away one day and I think my mom was by her side.   I asked her what happened when she died and she said  “She just let out one breath then that was all”.

My mom died from cancer back in 1998.    She was a lifelong smoker and didn’t go to the doctor until it was too late.   It started with lung cancer but had already spread to her brain.   The doctor told her there were so many he stopped counting lesions after a while (what an awful thing to say!)  Mom was sure she was going to fight it and in the early days of the internet she had heard of a new drug called Hydrazine sulfate on a news program.    I remember her calling me and saying this would be her cure.   “I’m going to be at your wedding someday!  I’m going to hold my grandkids someday!”   she would tell me.   I looked up everything I could on that drug and silently prayed nightly that she was right.  She endured radiation treatments to no avail.   The cancer was too advanced.      The last few months of her life she had distanced herself from me.   Once again my mom was protecting me from the grim reality that she was dying.   I didn’t know until years later that a hospital bed was brought to the house and that’s where she stayed until hospice took her.    I also didn’t know that by then she had wasted away to less than 100lbs,  was in diapers and mentally had reverted to a child.

Alzheimer’s took my father back in 2000.   He used to be such an intelligent man.   Worked for Skylab and then for Hughes Aircraft.    He was always there for me when I needed help with my homework and some nights we would just sit and play chess.   His disease progressed slowly and looking back on it all I could tell he was changing but I didn’t know exactly why.   After he left my mom and married Donna the story around the house was that dad was manipulated into going with her because he had Alzheimer’s. Up until my stepmother recently came back into my life I thought that very same way as well.  Now,  after re-getting to know her I see what is the truth.   My dad belonged with her.   She took great care of him in his later years and only when he needed medical care did she reluctantly admit him to hospice.   She would visit him often and more times than not she said he wouldn’t know who she was.  Donna cared for my dad as long as she possibly could and for that I am so appreciative that he had her.  Along with that,  the other thing I’ve come to terms with is that my mom,  even though I know she loved my dad,  wouldn’t have been able to handle my dad in this condition. The last time I went to visit him was in 1998 (I think it was just after my mom passed away).   My half brother and I drove out to Palm Springs to visit and he had no idea who we were.   He kept asking me if I was family.   Only once through the whole visit did I see a glint of recognition in his eyes and he started to cry “Oh, Stacey!!  my princess!   You’re here!!”    He hugged me,  we cried together then a few minutes later he was back to  “Are you family?  You’re so pretty!”  It broke my heart seeing him that way,  and I didn’t want to admit it at the time but Donna handled everything so well.    She had moved them to a housing area that was completely fenced off.   Dad had started to wander and if he did manage to get out of the house without Donna noticing  the extra security was for his own good.    Dad also fought prostate cancer   as his Alzheimer’s progressed and came out of it cancer free.   There was one incident in the hospital where he had managed to get out of his hospital bed,  remove all his catheters (including his urinary one,  ouch!!)  and became combative with the hospital staff when they tried to get him back to his bed.  Through all that I don’t think my mom could have handled it.   Dealing with someone whose mind is going must be as equally draining physically as it is mentally and emotionally.    The fact she did it as long as she did I applaud her for and am so thankful that I have this chance now to talk to her about things that I had always wanted to talk to her about.   We’ve been given a second chance,  and it feels good to tell her how much I appreciate her.     My dad would be happy if he knew that her and I were talking I bet.   I think now all he wanted all along was for me to accept her and support him being happy,  but back then I just couldn’t.   In my teenage mind all I saw was another woman stealing my father away and I couldn’t get past that.   It’s amazing how your mindset changes after you experience life, hardships and the real world.   Everyone deserves to be happy in their lives and I do believe in soulmates.   Dad belonged with her,  and that’s why things worked out the way they did.

 

 

DAD

With all of that being said now, this brings up “THE” subject that’s been weighing on my mind.  Alzheimer’s is inherited which means I could have the gene that carries the disease.  The fact that I may eventually start losing my memories and mind scares the shit out of me.   I’m not going to lie.   I am on quite a few medications for blood pressure, depression and an appetite suppressant and within the past few months I’ve noticed I have had a short term memory issue.   It’s especially obvious at work when I can’t remember names not even a minute after someone tells me.  I’ll walk into a room and forget why I was in there,  or the most annoying thing is when I leave the room to go do something like get a drink of water but I get distracted en route and end up making numerous trips until I finally am able to focus on what I ORIGINALLY entered that room for.    Overly sensitive?   me?    maybe… but look at the definition of Alzheimer’s.

What an awful death sentence to have.     I can’t help but wonder if my dad knew what he had or if it just gradually drifted him away to the point where he didn’t care.   I should ask Donna that.

How can you place that kind of burden on those that you love if you know you have the possibility of having that disease?  In that way I am a lot like my mom.   But on the same page,  what will happen to me if I do get to the point of wandering, diapers and being combatant?   It frightens me to tears and I don’t know how I should feel.  Just like my mom who would have meant well with my dad but would not have been able to care for him properly… how can I place this kind of responsibility on my loved ones?     I’m planning on meeting with a lawyer as soon as I do some more research so I can get my wishes documented for peace of mind.    Right now as things are,  I can’t in good faith subject anyone to the task of caring for me if I become an invalid.   I’m lacking that sense of peace that comes with knowing everything is going to be alright.

Or does that come later?   God I hope so.

I inherited some land!

All throughout my life I never really knew anything about my family history. I guess I never bothered to ask because I figured it wasn’t important. I’ll never forget though,  about my ex’s grandmother.   Everyone fondly called her “Nana” and she was the true matriarch of the family.  I loved that woman.   From the first day I went to one of their family functions she was so welcoming and friendly.       She was also really heavily into researching her genealogy and she had huge white binders all alphabetized and filed by date in her sun room.   She worked on it for years,  and this was before the internet.  I always respected her for all her hard work.   It would be amazing to see if she had access to the internet and what progress she would have made then.

All I knew about my family was that I am distantly related to Chuck Norris on my dad’s side,  and that on my mom’s side our family were prominent members of society in the early development stages of the City of Torrance.   That’s pretty much about it.    It wasn’t until after my mom passed away that I inherited boxes and boxes of old family photos and items which inspired me to try to piece together whatever I could about my mom’s side.   My father’s side though, I thought would remain a mystery indefinitely.   Mainly because he has long since passed on,  my two half brothers never speak to me and I wasn’t sure about the whereabouts of my step mother.    Well, since she recently came back into my life I have had the rare opportunity to get these unanswered questions finally put to rest and all I can say is wow..!     You know that question that is asked “If you could go back in time and confront your younger self what one thing would you tell him/her?”    Mine would be  “ASK MORE QUESTIONS”  I never realized how important knowing all of this was to me.   It’s strange enough picturing your parents as kids, let alone having the same rebellious nature that every other kid goes through while growing up.   Dad was the high school ‘babe’.   He has signatures in his yearbook from multiple girls that say  “To a swell guy!”   and “Have a great summer Casa Nova!”   before he was a heartthrob though,  he was born in Bakersfield, California to his parents Stelma and Frank Sr Norris.    The name on his birth certificate is actually “Frankie” Norris..  hehe!

dad's birth certificate

Grandpa Frank was a carpenter by trade,  and my grandmother a housewife.  They settled in Bakersfield in 1923 and bought several hundred acres of land for mining purposes.   I’m not quite clear how long they lived there,  but what I’ve found out so far is before they moved to Torrance they sold all of their land except for ONE (1) acre.    This land sat in our family untouched (but taxes kept current)  for maybe upwards of  70 years.   When my grandparents passed away, the land was supposed to have been split between my dad and his brother Jack (I think I only met my uncle once or twice and from what I recall he was really nice)    Since being in contact with my step mother she told me about the family land  (news to me).    She’s had the original deed all along and has been the one paying the yearly taxes on it.    She wanted to transfer it to me if I wanted it and said she’d get the quit claim deed drawn up and notarized ASAP.   Of course I said I would love it.   After all,  it’s been in this family for this many years and the fact my grandparents SETTLED there in the 20’s makes it all that more priceless and sentimental.   I’d like to ultimately pass the land to my nephew so he can keep it and pass it on to his kids.

Also,  how cool is it to have a deed that’s signed by President Calvin Coolidge?   For a piece of paper that’s so old,  it’s in damn fine condition.

deed2

Pretty cool,  huh?

Stealing from a little girl

Sunflower

I’ve still been suffering from ‘writers block’ as of late.   I think a lot of it stems from depression which I have unfortunately struggled with for years.    That and I think getting older I’ve lost a lot of my ambition,  which sucks because I used to write a lot back in the day.   There IS so much I want/need to get out in writing but my mind and my focus just can’t come to an agreement on when to cooperate together.   I still keep hoping I’ll snap out of it,  I mean I have several partially started posts in my drafts section,  but the more I have this issue… the more hope I lose every day..      But tonight is a rare spurt of inspiration so here I go..

Childhood memories,  what triggers them?   Things that don’t really mean a whole lot of impact on your life but you still store it away in your memories for some odd reason.   Something that happened to me when I was really young came to mind the other day and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.    I once had a sunflower stolen out of my backyard.   A giant sunflower,  and one I had cared for with my daddy until it had grown taller than I was and could be seen by people driving by as it peered over our fence.   (Ok, maybe it wasn’t that giant, but to a little kid I could have climbed it up as high as Jack did on his beanstalk)    It was in our garden in the backyard of the house I lived in with my parents until I turned 16.   Every year my dad would till our garden and grow things like carrots, beans, and I think once even watermelons.  I have very limited memory of him planting the seeds but I remember the rows of our little crops in the back yard that he made.   I also remember my mom ranting about ‘those damn neighborhood cats’ who would occasionally use our garden as a litter box so my dad cared for our garden meticulously and everything we grew looked absolutely gorgeous.     One year he planted a sunflower,  or two I think… if memory serves we well there were two right next to each other on the edge of our vegetable garden.    Dad put up a post to help it grow tall and strong and over time it bloomed into this giant flower filled with seeds.  It was the prettiest thing I had ever seen.     I remember being in awe of it watching it grow and then eagerly looking forward to the day we were going to harvest those seeds, roast them and eat them.

I remember going to church one Sunday morning and thinking about my sunflowers all through the service.  Every day I would contemplate if this was the day my dad and I would remove the seeds from our flowers.   We did a lot of little projects together like this, and it was those things that I have cherished and will continue to cherish for a lifetime.    When church let out we headed home,  but on the way we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a treat.  There was this cool viewing window where people could watch the donuts being freshly made.    Also the baker was always happy and waving at us as he glazed or frosted or sprinkled or whatever his current batch of donuts.     It was an iconic Torrance donut shop that years later would serve as a filming spot for the movie “The Wildlife” aka Fast Times at Ridgemont High 2.   Nowadays it’s a car wash and some other business.    Boo…

So we get home and as we pull down the street towards our house I was used to seeing my bright yellow sunflower poking out from over our fence.   It wasn’t there.    My dad pulled the car into the garage and assured me that the post probably fell down so the flower had toppled over under the weight of the large bloom full of seeds.   I remember getting out of the car and running still in my Sunday dress to the backyard where our garden was.    I know I instantly started to cry at what I saw…  SOMEONE had jumped our fence and  flowers had been cut right at the bloom and the big pretty blooms were gone.   Cut with something jagged like a knife.   Cut with no care.   Flower murder.   I was heartbroken!     Whoever had done it knew we weren’t home so perhaps had seen us leave that morning.    At least I like to think that,  otherwise what if someone had climbed over our fence while I was in the backyard playing with my dog?    The whole thing was so callous and cruel.    I still wonder who would do such a thing,  see a sunflower from the street and decide to go steal it.     I hope they felt even just a little bit of guilt over stealing that flower from a little girl and her father.    At that time it meant the world to me and having it stolen was an awful feeling.    After all the care that my dad and I had put into helping it grow so tall and healthy to have someone just show up and slice it off and take it away just broke my little heart.

Maybe someday I’ll try to grow another sunflower in my daddy’s honor.   Do all the things he did to help it get as big and healthy as possible.   God help me though, if someone dares steal this one they’ll have to deal with my wrath!  Not only from 44 year old Stacey but also from that little girl whose heart was broken all those years ago when her first flower was taken by a selfish person,  on a SUNDAY of all days..  !

Words cannot even….

What I’m about to post is very graphic and may not be for sensitive viewers.    So, if you are easily offended,  perhaps use some caution if you are going to read further.

My job involves all aspects of animal care.    Whether it be people first getting a puppy or kitten and needing information on taking care of it from step one,  to people who treat their animals like objects.    It’s those people,  the ones that say “Eh, I just feed it whatever is the cheapest at the store when I go.  Doesn’t matter.”    Most of those people I can deal with using a calm, level head.    Perhaps they were raised that way,  where pets aren’t members of the family but just ‘animals’ and don’t know any better.     Sometimes I can change that person’s way of thinking and get them to see that cat or dog as a loyal friend.    Usually it only takes a bit of education and answering a LOT of questions on mine and of course the veterinarian’s part in order to achieve that.    When that happens,  it’s so rewarding and it always reminds me why I chose to get into the line of work that I am in.

However,  there are other cases where things go the totally opposite way.    Today was one of those days.    Our game warden came into the clinic and asked if we had a microchip scanner he could use to scan a dog.   I told him he could just bring the dog in and I’d be able to do it.   He replies with “Oh no,   there’s no way I can get what’s left of him out of the back of my truck”

……

So I went outside with him with the scanner to check the remains of this dog for a microchip.   I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.   Laying in the back of that truck was a gutted, mostly eaten carcass of a young shepherd mix.    It’s insides were completely gone as well as the dog’s eyes.    We couldn’t tell if the dog was male or female due to the sheer mauling of this poor dog’s body.     Also in the back of the truck with this dog sat a large wire crate with the front door removed and laying next to it.   The cage had quite a bit of damage to it as if it had been kicked, rolled or…  chewed on.     After moving the microchip scanner across both sides of the carcass (over the beetles and maggots that were all over, ugh!)  and finding nothing I had to turn away and then hold my breath from the smell of death and decay.   The game warden proceeded to tell me how he came to find this dog.    A morning jogger had happened upon it at one of the remote training areas.    The dog had apparently been locked in that crate and left out there.    Then,  at some point a predator, most likely a pack of coyotes found the dog sitting there in its crate,  got the door off and tore the poor dog to shreds probably eating it while it was still alive.   The thought of what that poor thing must have gone through up until those wild dogs got into its crate and killed it just sickens me.   I can’t even fathom it.    What kind of human being does that?  Did they think that leaving it out there would result in someone coming along and taking it home and keeping it as a pet?    Were they really that ignorant to risk doing that to this innocent creature who probably wondered by it was being left behind as the only owned it had ever known sped away from sight?   I’m just speechless over this.    All I want to do is somehow find these people involved and turn them in.   Make sure they get what’s coming to them.   Hell, if I had my way they would have the same thing happen to them.   Let them sit in a wire kennel waiting for predators to come out of the woods to eat them.   The worst thing about this whole thing is since it is a military post where this dog was found on,  then the person or people involved are soldiers or relatives of soldiers.   People who defend our freedom.   If those kinds of people are the ones who are out there ‘defending our freedom’.    then I hate to say it but we’re fucked.

and that’s all I have to say about that.