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Saturday, October 3, 2015

It Ain't Heavy; It's My Burdens

I've been giving some thought to my slow pace at boot camp. Number one, I joined 7 or 8? years ago, when Pats first started it. I am 54, so I was about 46/47. Older now. Older joints. [But my pretty friend Cathy is over 60 and kicks ass at boot camp and in half marathons!]

And number two, since that January, a lot of psychological weight has piled up on my shoulders. Burdens. They weigh me down as I jog at a turtle's pace at the track or in the dome while my fit friends are in great form. Stream of consciousness:

Dad weakened. Strong Dad, who cleaned the gutters, painted the house, tarred the driveway. First, independent living. Drove him to appts, for Rxs. Went over to visit. Then tiny, tidy apartment ready in assisted living wing. Name plaque on door, JOHN GARBARINI. Never moved in. Bed sore infection worsened while in place for physical rehab. Didn't recover. Sneaky mini strokes. Towering tulip tree fell on our house. Rough March rainstorm. Saturday night. Crashed through roof. We lived but had to move out for 8 months. Into condo in Clifton. Uprooted. Frazzled. Tried to hold my family together when Figgy also fell ill. No easy cure. Dashed hopes. Struggles. Sadness. Darkness. Watched my dear Dad struggle. Felt pain. Hard to witness. Met with teen compassion but also snark, secrets. Not prepared. Too trusting. Head in sand. Didn't read manual. Missed my Figgy. Illness moved in. Through it all, saw Punchy when possible. Drove her over for visits. Pool, zoo, block party. Fretted about her small self. Thought Figgy was better, only to watch her weather a relapse or two. We weathered it with her. Keenly painful. Roadblocks. Sought help, sought and sought it. No stone unturned. Ran from appointment to appointment. Couldn't we fix our child's problems? Couldn't I be there for my Dad, after all the love he had given me all my life? My 50th birthday. Pink tiara and wand at lunch with boot camp friends. Party at home on snowy night with chocolate cake Fig baked. Two months later, had to let Dad go. The day I dreaded came. He always told me I was born in the middle of a big blizzard, and he had to keep going out to shovel the driveway so he would be ready to drive my Mom. That March morning, rushed to hospital with H., seeing that life left my Daddy. I had just been there the night before. Sis, too. He suffered. I'm still sorry. Then Figgy had good times. Nice boyfriend. Still blessed with true friends. Prom dress. She applied for art/fashion design schools. Scholarship. Smart. Talented. NYC. The day after she left, we got a call. Punchy needed a home. She came to live with us, start school. A kindergartner. Then Fig's freshman year didn't work. She took gap year. Came back home. Then started again. Stopped again after two semesters. Still not smooth. I'm feeling closer to H. Slowly, slowly losing some of my stubbornness and starting to see his tougher wisdom. And he starts to see some of my softer views. And sometimes, vice versa. I'm learning to listen. It's not all my way or the highway. Life isn't all smooth. It isn't all beautiful. But rays of light, always. Always. Old friends, dear friends. New friends. Women who make me laugh. Walk with me. Read books and chat with me. Do boot camp with me. Listen. Go to Cape Cod! I see my Sis. Love my doggy. Go to church. Reach for peace. Cobble together family dinners. Hold H's hand. Tend my garden. Put flowers in vases, on birthday cakes. Go for help. Keep eye on horizon. Write when possible, pray, nap or read when not. Face darkness, seek sun. Ocean, mountain, ponds. Fine coffee, pink lipstick, nice sweaters, good tights.

But when I schlep across that field holding a heavy medicine ball, wearing my pink and white sneakers from Nordstrom, I am aware of holding this weighty past, this present imperfect, on my shoulders. It is part of me. I try to leave it behind, to focus on the exercise. I watch my friends kick it into gear and fly across the field. No one's life is perfect, I know. But I'm weighed down with worries about Figgy, sometimes about Punch. Or about bills. What my doctor said yesterday is that I have to take care of myself.

Good advice. I am not Atlas, with the world on my shoulders. I think my Tuesday morning yoga & meditation class is also helping.

Thanks for listening.

  1. Good dental care.
  2. Support group.
  3. This writing just now.
  4. Lots of ice water.
  5. About to take hot bath, yay!


  1. I hope that writing this all out helped to lighten the medicine ball. Thinking of you, and feeling each event as I read what you wrote. Love, Lin

  2. Thank you Lin. I should list you also because out renewed family bond happened during this time, and I treasure it. Love al

  3. I loved this, Alice. Such an honest and frank accounting of life, its ups and downs. I especially loved the line, Hold H's hand. Brought tears to my eyes. I think about our 24-year-old selves. There's no way we could explain to those young girls the simple beauty and comfort in that line after all these years. xoxo

  4. Kim, thank you for reading it. It was long! You are so right, there is no way we could explain to those young girls we were. Those two young girls were carefree and lucky. Biggest worry was what to wear to work, or planning your wedding, right? Or dealing with the women in that typing pool type unit of assistants. Godspeed to young girls everywhere, our young ladies included. I wonder what our mothers thought? Well, mine died when I was 20, but Doris was still there....Love, xoxoxo, Alice