Reflections On Friendship

As we get older, the dynamics of our friendships can change, some of them drastically. I have been thinking about and processing this for the past few years, and as time progresses, the changes become even more apparent.

One friend of mine described relationships as particles in space, orbiting around us in rings. We determine how close or far away these relationships are to us emotionally. Someone may have existed in our most inner ring for years, but now may be farther out in our ‘relationship universe’ due to not maintaining the close level of the relationship, or out of necessity for one’s emotional and mental well-being. Some relationships have even been flung out to the farthest ring in our personal universe and the individual isn’t even aware they have been placed there. As I processed the relationships in my life, I found this explanation to be helpful, bringing some people closer and moving some people as far out as possible. It was a healthy exercise for me, and because I kept this process to myself, no one’s feelings were hurt.

Some of us are fortunate to have a few friendships that survive the trials of time and distance. You know, the ones that pick up right where they left off? I am blessed to have such a friendship with the woman who was my best friend in high school. We always stayed in touch, attended one another’s weddings, sent announcements when our children graduated, married, or had a child. We rarely visited but made the effort to check in with each other a few times each year. And now we share a bond one never wishes for – we have both been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Sometimes we can take this type of friendship for granted, and then when reality hits – like a serious illness – we are reminded why this person is so precious to us. I would do anything for this woman, anything, and she would do the same for me. Our friendship has never been tested seriously because long ago we agreed there were certain things that would stay out of the relationship, like politics. We each have plenty of other friends who share our individual views and beliefs, allowing us to concentrate on what we do have in common and to admire our differences. And recently I discovered an unexpected gift from this particular relationship – the friendship that is developing between myself and one of her adult children. I now appreciate how my father felt when he enjoyed friendships with some of my friends when they became adults.

On the flip side are the friendships with people we have known for years but have simply outgrown; we no longer share any real interests, or we recognize they are not the type of person we want to associate with. People grow and change, and not always for the better, or not always into people we remain compatible with. I was well into my fifties before I discovered long term relationships that turn sour are not exclusive to romantic relationships. I was one of those folks who believed once a friend, always a friend – unless someone did something genuinely awful. But as time wore on, I began to realize that I was holding onto friendships and family relationships that no longer served me, and some of them were toxic to the point of my becoming anxious and physically ill.

As I was trying to figure out what to do with these relationships, a tumor was discovered in my colon. It would be several weeks of scans and tests before doctors could determine when they could operate and if the tumor was malignant or benign. During this waiting period, I had time to think about what was TRULY important to me. I began to think about my choices in chunks of time, did I have six months or two years left? Did I even have to worry at all? It took less than a week for me to decide what and who was important in my life. I thought of the people I wanted to see if I only had a little time left, who I wanted to spend those precious moments with, either in person or on the phone. Who I wanted to email or chat with online and who I wanted to forget altogether. I was surprised by my choices and relayed this experience to a trusted childhood friend. They, in turn, shared their method of dealing with the complexities of relationships – the particles in space/orbiting rings method.

Fast forward a year and a half later to the present. The tumor was malignant but successfully removed and I am cancer-free. I am back to living a ‘normal’ life, making plans for the future. I am reconnecting with some folks and have disconnected with others. I am grateful for all the friendships and most of the relationships in my life; they have served their purpose in one way or another. I am most grateful for a friendship I never even imagined I would have, the “best friend” type of relationship I have with my husband. This is one friendship that will always be in the most inner ring of my universe, even when I cross over to the next realm.


Book Review: I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

Imagine taking a handful of seemingly ordinary people living seemingly ordinary lives. Not perfectly charmed lives, but not desperate barely-surviving lives either. Now throw in what should be a typical trip to London for two teen girls, the kind of girls who are responsible, and, for the most part make good decisions, until they don’t. Add a good woman who genuinely cares about others but decides not to act on a hunch because her morals are offended. Mix all of this up and you will be rewarded with a compelling story of what could have/should have/would have happened but didn’t. And just when you think you have figured out what really happened to whom, the story flips, and then flips again, and then yet again! Teresa Driscoll has created the kind of thriller that takes the reader on a journey that begins gently enough, then kicks it into gear until, at the very end of the story, the reader finds themselves asking, “How the hell did I not see that coming?!”

May Gray

While the U.S. average for sunny days is an impressive 205, I and my fellow Angelenos enjoy a whopping 284. During the month of May, Los Angeles shines bright an average of 11 days, with an additional 12 days of partly sunny skies. The remaining 8 days of May are like today, overcast and gray. This is the third straight day of “May Gray” in Los Angeles. I’m not complaining, I actually enjoy a short reprieve from the sunshine and blue skies. I agree that variety is the spice of life.

Like my local weather, the news has been gray too. Yet another school shooting where a student gave up his life to protect his fellow classmates. The Alabama State Senate almost succeeded in criminalizing abortion with penalties as extreme as life in prison or even execution; the final vote has been moved to next week. The President of the United States is invoking a claim of executive privilege, in an attempt to withhold from Congress the unredacted report of special counsel Robert Mueller and its underlying evidence. And then there is the continued spread of the once eliminated disease, measles. ALL of the above could have been prevented. I won’t go into details here on the HOW or even the WHY, let’s save those debates for another day. I will ask you, gentle reader and faithful follower of this blog, to give some thought to the above issues, and decide for yourself what action you might want to take in dissolving the gray and making room for the bright light of safe schools, reproductive choice, justice, and common sense health practices.

Just as the month of May is only partially gray, the same can be said for the news. There has been plenty of “sunny” news to report about: The House of Windsor has a new addition, and like his name, little Archie’s birth is breaking tradition in more ways than we can count. I personally feel the whole world should be celebrating his birth, and not solely because I am the mother and grandmother of interracial children. I believe the world should celebrate because this child and his parents represent progress and authenticity, something everyone can benefit from. Over one million people (the majority poor/low-income) from 15,000 villages were safely evacuated before Cyclone Fani hit the state of Odisha, India on Friday, to emergency shelters that were stocked with food, water, supplies, and resources. Sports Illustrated featured a burkini-clad model. A genetically modified virus saved a teen’s life who was battling both cystic fibrosis and an on-again/off-again infection caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Pharmaceutical companies have begun to invest in the therapies that saved this girl’s life in the hopes others will be saved as well.

The gray news and sunny news I have written about share one main component – CHOICE. The results of each event were made by the choices and actions of humans. We can choose to create gray or sunny news. And, unlike the weather, I will take sunny news all day, every day.

Book Review: Lily’s Sister (The Laramie Series #1) by Karen J. Hasley

A strong-willed, confident, independent woman, Lou, is the main charecter of this story set in post-Civil War Kansas. The author is generous sharing all of Lou’s personality with us – her faults as well as her attributes, her failings as well as her successes. Just enough romance to make the story believable, but not so much that it dominates everything else going on in the story and in Lou’s life. The events and people of Blessing, Kansas will stay with me for a while, and I welcome the company.

Remembering Vince

In memory of Vince

Last week an incredible soul passed away and crossed over. I have known Vince since he was a boy; my son attended school with his younger brothers, they played sports together, and had the kind of friendship that picks up wherever it leaves off, even over a period of years without seeing one another. Vince’s mother Persis, and I, worked together as parent volunteers at our children’s school, and in later years, she afforded me space to share and practice my metaphysical gifts at the amazing healing center and store that she and Vince operated together, Kindred Spirits in Claremont, Calif, which will somehow manage to continue without Vince. While I didn’t stay in constant contact with either Vince or his mother, like the friendship with my son, if a few months or a few years passed, the relationship picked up right where it left off.

This past Friday as my husband and I were packing for a weekend camping trip, I received a short but distressing text from my son, asking if I was aware of Vince’s passing. Within seconds we were on the phone and as I tried to console my son, my own disbelief was sending shock waves through me. I wanted to call Persis, but realized this was probably not the best time, so I jumped on Facebook and left a message for her and her youngest son, Andy. My son said he hoped the news didn’t ruin my weekend and I assured him it wouldn’t; short of driving to Claremont or Chino to be with Persis, I thought going camping would be the best place to remember and honor Vince.

As fate would have it, Sunday was Vince’s birthday. After packing up our gear to head home, Algis and I went down to the edge of our beach campsite where stones of every size had been placed in an effort to counter beach erosion. Al stood by silently as I carefully chose each stone for my memorial to Vince. As I placed and stacked each stone, I spoke aloud to Vince, recalling specific milestones in his life. At the conclusion, my husband pointed out a seal bobbing up and down in the nearby surf – that was so much like Vince’s personality! And remembering the trickster that was a big part of who Vince was, I was careful to avoid flying seagulls – it wouldn’t be above Vince to leave a memorable “parting gift.”

As the following weeks and months approach, the shock of Vince’s passing will wane and the reality of it will begin to settle in as those who love him will attempt to navigate life without his physical presence. Kindred Spirits won’t feel the same in the absence of his earthly being, but Vince’s spirit is as big as his heart and personality were, and he will be ever present to those of us who were blessed to have known him and shared what little time we had with him in this life. I can only hope we have more time with him in the next.

A Visit From Sasha

Last night as Algis and I were walking to the Pantages Theater on Hollywood Blvd to see ‘Fiddler On the Roof,’ we came across a man hanging out on the sidewalk next door to the theater. Immediately we noticed an adorable Siamese-mix kitten at his feet, playing with a plastic straw. The gentleman appeared to be living on the street by the condition of his appearance and the nearby handcart stacked with personal belongings. The kitten looked well cared for and was wearing a harness that was attached to a leash the man was holding. I asked about the kitten’s name and the man asked me what I thought her name should be. Immediately I replied, “Sasha.” I explained how we had a cat named Sasha who, when she was young, looked like this kitten; the exact coloring, the apple-shaped face, even the striped tail. The only difference was his baby had lovely white socks on her paws. He said he thought the name ‘Sasha’ might be a good fit and then began to share his belief that cats had the ability to cure cancer and that a cat had once cured him of cancer. He claimed there is a conspiracy to kill cats because of their magical healing abilities and added he had spent $5,000 having this kitten professionally trained. It was time for us to say our goodbyes, not only because the conversation was taking a turn towards the absurd, but it was also close to the curtain call for the musical we were there to enjoy.

Later that evening on the drive home, my husband and I discussed how much that kitten looked like a baby Sasha. We concluded our Sasha had paid us a visit, crossing through time and space, using a brief encounter outside of the theater as a way to say ‘hello’. I gave some serious thought to the man’s claim about cats having the ability to cure cancer and silently thanked Sasha, who was still living while I was going through my own journey with colorectal cancer in 2017. All of this time I had given credit for my miraculous victory over cancer to a combination of early detection (thanks to a colonoscopy), my amazing oncologist, Dr. Paz, and the dedicated staff of City of Hope and Huntington Hospital. Who is to say that Sasha didn’t have a hand in my recovery as well? And knowing Sasha, she would want the credit, thus she found the perfect opportunity by creating a distraction for me on the way to the theater, in the guise of an interesting man and his kitten who was practically her twin.

It has been fifteen months since Sasha crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She entered our lives in the Fall of 2008 and was the Queen of the Castle from day one. While her soul travels freely to wherever she wishes, her cremated remains are safely ensconced inside an urn in the shape of a cat that looks very much like her. This urn is on a shelf in our bedroom watching over us; apparently Sasha’s living soul watches over us too.

Day One – What’s Happening

Where do I begin? It has taken over 20 years to finally create a blog. There were a few feeble attempts ages ago, but I became too busy or too lazy to follow through. So what inspired me to see it through this time? Writing. MY writing – poetry, prose, short stories, flash fiction – I needed a place to share what has been published and what I will never submit for publishing. I also wanted a place where I could muse about whatever; Facebook became too vicious a space in regards to feedback on my posts and Twitter too limiting as far as how much I could post.
In addition to my writing, here is what you can expect to read/what I will be blogging about:

  • Quotes – They have a dedicated section
  • Algis (my husband and partner in crime)
  • Travel and adventures
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparenting
  • Lucy the Cat
  • Retirement
  • Politics (Don’t act so surprised!)
  • Human rights
  • Equality/inequality
  • White Privilege
  • Multiculturalism
  • Women’s Issues
  • Children’s rights/child advocacy
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Health
  • Food
  • Books/reading
  • Television
  • Movies
  • Musical and live theater
  • Los Angeles
  • Running (He runs, I walk….sometimes)
  • Typos and grammatical mistakes – you will be reading them because I will likely be making them – I won’t be posting ABOUT them
  • And a squillion other things