My beautiful girl, Ginger, passed over the rainbow bridge today. She had bladder cancer. She was 15. We had her twelve years. When we adopted her in 2007, she was crabby and cantankerous and lashed out at everybody. My hubby worked hard to make her the sweet, loving baby she became. I miss her so much already.
Saying goodbye to pets is always horrible. Unexpectedly, my wonderful hubby was there with me. The timing worked out in my favor. His big truck went in for repair midweek, and he was at the dispatch terminal forty-five minutes away. He is truly a wonderful man. He drove home to be at the vet with me and my youngest son when we took Ginger in. That meant so much to me. Not only was he a strong shoulder to lean on, but he was there to help me decide what to do. Letting the cat go wasn’t a decision I had to make alone.
Ginger was just as much my husband’s cat as mine. When we got her she was terrified and she was not a nice cat. He was the only one who never gave up on her. He’d pick her up over and over, she’d snarl and lash out. He’d talk to her and hold her and pet her. He was the one who broke through her fear and distrust. He held her as she died. I thought that was fitting.
She was always on my lap in my chair or by my side in bed. When healthy she topped out at seven and a half pounds. For such a tiny cat, she had a big, bold personality. She didn’t back down from anything. She was also sweet and gentle underneath her grumpy exterior. For such a tiny cat, she’s sure left a big, empty space behind her.
I miss you, beautiful friend.
#bestfriend, #pink_hair, #self-discovery, #sexagenarian, #wild_child, Aging, anger, best friend, depression, dyed hair, finding yourself, grief, grieving, heavy metal, inadequacy, ink, Marriage, mid-life crisis, profanity, sadness, schooling, Shyness, special needs, tattoos
My hubby recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday. Yes, I’m married to a sexagenarian. Makes him sound like a pervert, doesn’t it? LOL. In our case, I think the pervert label fits me better than it does him, but I’ll never tell.
I’m sure everyone sees it anyway. I’m the one with the ink, the pink hair, the foul mouth, the preference for metal music, and the penchant for smutty romance novels. Hubby is so normal I often wonder just what it is he sees in me. He’s a trucker, and he’s the kinder, gentler half of this couple. I’m not sure even he knows what to make of me half the time, but this is who I really am. I stifled this for years; it had to come out sometime.
Hubby was the catalyst for releasing the inner wild child I hid so well for a quarter of a century. In my mid-20’s, I was attending metal concerts on a regular basis, and I had long, curly, blue-black hair. Then my cousin moved away and I lost my wild best friend, the one who attended concerts with me, and the one I laughed the longest and loudest with. I’d always been shy, but with her I was louder and more alive. I grieved her moving from New York to Texas to join the rest of her family. A short time after she moved, my father suddenly got sick and he passed away, and I suffered another crippling blow. I was twenty-eight, single, and still living at home.
Knowing I could lose my mother, too, at any time, I decided I needed to meet someone with whom I could possibly share a future so I dialed back who I was. I settled into normalcy. I cut my hair; I went back to my normal, boring brown. In essence, I grew up. I had a steady, decent paying job, and I was ready to settle down. Unfortunately, I altered who I was to fit in at work, as a partner and wife, as a mother, and in life. Giving up my wild side, I hated who I was, and I didn’t even know it. I thought it was just my natural reserve that always made me feel so damned inadequate.
I met hubby when I was twenty-nine. We married when I was thirty, and we had our first son when I was thirty-one. Life moved on fairly quickly.
Together hubby and I raised two wonderful, young men. We had our challenges with ADHD, Autism, Diabetes, Celiac disease, Asperger’s syndrome and way too much time spent with doctors, specialists, administrators, teachers and others who all thought they knew what was best for my sons. I stifled a lot over the years to see two young men through the nightmare and quagmire that was the public school system. I bit my tongue so many times when all I wanted to do was swear and lash out. As their advocate, I thought I had to hold my anger inside. I tried to put my boys first at all times. Having to deal with all these strangers who knew nothing about my sons but passed judgment anyway made me more outgoing but it also made me bury all that fury and anger deep inside.
I lost my mother when I was forty-six. Shortly after that my aged pets began to leave me, one by one; not their fault, of course. Everything dies. To get by, I buried my hurt and grief deep along with all that anger. I was probably clinically depressed and didn’t even know it at the time. I was hurting so badly I was barely functioning inside, but I made it through each day.
Something about turning fifty changed things. I hadn’t even realized that my sweet hubby knew deep down inside that I wasn’t a happy person. I was just going through the motions. He pushed. He pushed at me some more. Then he pushed even harder. Over the course of a year, he kept pushing at me. I had thought that we were happy and that we were complete. Being the saner, smarter half of this couple he knew differently. He knew I wasn’t happy, and since I wasn’t happy, he wasn’t either.
Hubby pushed hard, and he told me things needed to change. When it finally occurred to me that something was in fact “broken”, I began to get scared that maybe it was our marriage. He was the one who suggested I needed to do something really different to break out of this funk that I was stuck inside, a mid life crisis sort of gesture. So at age 51, I went back to school to start on my first college degree, and I got my first tattoo. The ink actually came first. It was something I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t because I didn’t want to disappoint my mother.
Gradually, the wild child began to find her way back. I finally opened my eyes and realized I no longer cared what others thought, and I didn’t have to fit into any molds of what I should be. I only have to do what makes me happy. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.
My marriage? It was never broken. I was. My sexagenarian hubby? He loves the wild child. Me? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, pink hair, ink, loud music, bad language and all. I wish I’d realized what was missing years ago. Me.
Images courtesy of Pinterest
I am rarely self-indulgent and usually put others before myself and just get on with things. I admit that my Aunt’s death has hit me hard. When a person reaches their mid-50’s as I have, there’s only so much “memory” you can hold onto at one time. Memories are there, but they get buried or forgotten as time goes on and other things crowd in. Remembering is something I’m not very good at, unfortunately. Hubby or my cousin will say, “Remember when ….?” And I don’t. I will ask, “are you sure I was there?” I think Hubby thinks I’m cuckoo sometimes.
My family was always extremely close. My grandparents married young. My Mother was born when my Grandmother was only 19. After my Mother, my Grandmother would have triplet sons. Sadly none of them survived. One was stillborn, the second would only live a few hours, and sadder still the third would last a few months and then die from meningitis. I can still remember my Grandmother talking about how rosy his little cheeks were. After losing three sons, understandably my Grandmother was depressed. She told me that the doctor suggested she have another child. That baby would be my Aunt Mary Ellen.
My Mother and my Aunt were both close to their parents and stayed that way. When my Mom and my Aunt married, they remained close to each other and to the family. I remember going to my grandparents’ house every weekend. They only lived a little over two miles away so we were there usually every Friday or Sunday evening and sometimes both days. My cousins were even closer. My Aunt moved back home for a few years after her divorce, and then when she did move out, it was to a house up the same street from my grandparents’ house. We spent all of our holidays, summers and vacations as a group.
My Grandfather died when I was 12, and at around that time we stopped doing vacations together. My brother married for the first time when I was 14. We still had holidays and celebrations together, but as everyone grew up, the family connections got a little looser. My cousin Carole had her son Mark, and shortly after that she met her first husband John. Carole and John decided that Texas looked like a good place for jobs so they moved south. My cousin, Wesley also went to Texas to look for work. While in Texas, Carole would begin to add to her family, and my Aunt would miss her grandchildren. At around that time (1986), my Aunt’s employer Burroughs Corporation would merge with Sperry Univac and become Unisys. I don’t recall if she was laid off or if she decided to leave, but my Aunt decided to move to Texas with everyone else. It wasn’t long after that, that my lifelong bosom buddy, my cousin Charlotte would miss her family and decide to go to Texas, too. I was 26 when she left.
What had been a very close-knit group of ten in Rochester, New York had dropped to four. My brother has always had an odd habit of totally focusing on his immediate family. When he married, he stopped calling or visiting his parents and sister. Although he was still in town, we never saw or heard from him. He would show up on birthdays or holidays with gift in hand. I don’t see him at all now, but that sad story is a story for another day. My Father died when I was 28, and suddenly it was just my Grandmother, my Mother and me. I met my sweet Hubby when I was 29 and married at age 30.
When I started looking through pictures last evening to write a post about my Aunt, I was okay. As I sorted through and studied each photo, the memories started to flood back. It hit me hard how much a part of my formative years she had been. We stayed in touch with sporadic phone calls, emails and Facebook, and she did visit here a few times. It was different, though. Life tends to go on. There is a whole side of the family in Texas that I’ve never met. I’ve seen their pictures on Facebook, and I do try to keep up. It’s hard, though, when you are separated by almost 24 hours of travel and 1,500 miles. My Aunt’s genes are very strong. I look at photos of the young women (my Cousin Carole’s daughters) growing up in Texas, and I see how much like my Aunt they are. I see her face in some of theirs.
Getting back to the self-indulgent bit, I “lost” my family almost 30 years ago when more than half of it moved south and thus beyond my reach. That was a blow. Losing my Dad two years after that would spur me into seriously looking for my own life partner and soul mate, and I was very lucky to have found Hubby. Together we would create our own family unit and lives for ourselves. Losing my Aunt brought back the first “half” of my life as if it were just yesterday and not decades ago. Memories long buried or forgotten came roaring back. I had a wonderful childhood surrounded by loving and giving adults.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia and GoogleMaps