Italy

No wonder I’m tired: I just earned the Italy badge on my Fitbit. I got this message in my email a couple of days ago: “By walking 736 miles–the entire length of Italy–you’ve stepped your way to another lifetime badge. That’s a colossal achievement.” It sounds like more of a colossal achievement than it actually is. This counts all the time with a Fitbit, the one my cousin sent to me, as well as the one I got for my birthday last year. Basically we’re talking about at least a year worth of everyday walking, and most people could walk the entire length of Italy in a year. The apostles could have walked the entire length of Italy probably four or five times in a year, and even that may be an understatement. Of course, they were men with a vision, and I don’t mean televisions.

Seriously, maybe it’s because I have low iron that I’m dragging most days. I tried to donate plasma on Monday, but they deferred me because my iron was too low. That’s what I get for being negligent in taking my vitamins.

Maybe it’s because things in motion tend to stay in motion, as the commercial says, and things at rest tend to stay at rest. I got out of the habit of my daily treadmill routine, and the serotonin in my brain took a direct hit.  If you don’t move, move, move things begin to atrophy, and then when you do move it’s harder to move. That’s where I am with my foot. I go to bed thinking that the next day I will turn it all around and get back on that treadmill. Then I wake up thinking that I don’t even want to get out of bed.

Maybe it’s because I struggle with depression. My mom did, and I wonder if it’s true of depression as it’s true of other things, that more is “caught” than “taught.” Or maybe it’s hereditary, even.

Of course, my husband always says, “What do you have to be depressed about?”

Nothing. If I had reasons to be depressed it wouldn’t be true depression. Truth be told, though, I have lots of underlying worries and stresses that I don’t deal with well. The book I’m still reading recommends having a good cry. I have trouble with that. I’m not a crier. Plus, I don’t dwell on what’s eating at me. If I have an unpleasant thought or concern about areas of my life (or more likely my children’s lives) I push it to the back burner of my mind. If you don’t dwell on it you don’t have to deal with it, because it’s painful to deal with it, but, if you don’t deal with it, it hovers over your head like a dark cloud and maintains some level of control over your life.

The other day I was delivering some jewelry to a friend. I walked into her place of business, and, before I walked through the door, I caught a glimpse of her through the window. If I was going by the expression she wore on her face, I would have guessed her whole world had caved in. She was having a rough day, to be sure. She had just found out that the house she had gotten approved for had slipped through her fingers. Her philandering ex-husband was taking retirement, and that meant that her alimony was going to be cut way back. In fact, she’s now afraid she won’t be able to make the rent payments on the duplex she lives in.

One of her daughters passed away several years ago and one is moving to another state.

She feels stuck. And defeated. And definitely concerned about an unstable future.

We had a cathartic visit, and she said that God had certainly sent me by at just the right time. She needed to talk to someone, and her boyfriend was busy at work and, due to the nature of his job, literally didn’t have time for her bombardment of texts.

Before I left we were both in tears a few times. It hurts my heart to see a friend in so much mental anguish, and it’s no place to stay for very long. I told her to focus on all the blessings in her life, on all the things she did have, not on the one thing she couldn’t have.  I hope I didn’t come across as blithe, but that was more than just a pat response to her dilemma.

Her mother had prayed that if she wasn’t meant to get this house that she wouldn’t get it. That’s all well and good, except she did get it, and then it was yanked back away from her by the bank that had initially told her and the sellers that she was good to go. Her ex-husband taking retirement and reducing her alimony below the court-ordered amount was the equivalent of his saying, “And, oh, by the way, here’s another jab to add to all the other pain I’ve inflicted on you over the years.”

She said, “I feel like he has won again. All the times I forgave him and took him back, and, now, he has everything and I have nothing.”

She said that she refused to let go of God. She said, “I may get mad and say that I’m done praying or this and that, but I won’t turn away from God.”

I told her that at least she had her health. She had her boyfriend. She has a place to live and a job. She has children. Granted, one of them died and one is about to move to another state, but she has children and grandchildren.

Some people do not have their health. I reminded her that some people only have a couple of months to live. Some people have cancer. If we feel good most of the time and don’t have to live with constant pain, we should thank God for that.

Sometimes the physical pain or the mental pain is too great for someone to bear and they even take their own lives because they can’t even see a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. They see no end to their pain and they can’t see any relief in sight. At least she doesn’t have that.

Some people are homeless. They have no idea where their next meal is coming from, and their mind is consumed with where they can go to seek shelter from the sweltering summer sun or the frigid winter winds. She has her own place that she shares with her boyfriend.

I asked her if maybe she and her boyfriend could get married. Wouldn’t that make a difference if both their names could be on the house? But she said his credit was bad, and, if she got married, she wouldn’t get her pension when she turned sixty from her ex-husband’s company.

I reminded her that some people will never have children or grandchildren, and then I started tearing up and jokingly said, “Okay, I have to leave now.” And we both had a good laugh.

The truth is that not having grandchildren doesn’t bother me so much, but what does bother me is that my children may be denied the joy that children bring. Because of life’s circumstances, my daughter may never have children. She may never get married. She may always have to live in her parents’ house. I realize that this is therapeutic for me to write about, but I’m hesitant at the same time because I know that she reads my blog and I don’t want to bring all these back-burner thoughts to the front where we have to think about them and deal with them. Anyway, how can thinking about them change anything?

My daughter, Chelsea, actually is the poster child of just how bad things can get. She’s thirty-two, wheelchair-bound, lives with her parents, has a set income from SSI, has medical issues out the yin-yang, including a colostomy, a catheter coming out of her navel, and more of a likelihood of catching pneumonia or other respiratory ailments, just because she is always seated and doesn’t empty her lungs as completely as able-bodied people do. She caught H1-N1 (the swine flu) one year, and it really did a number on her. Some people ended up dying with that, if you’ll remember. The medication they put her on, after she came out of the hospital, gave her feelings of hopelessness, and she didn’t even want to be left alone long enough for us to go to Wednesday night Bible study–even though she was completely well enough and old enough, of course, to be left by herself.

Chelsea doesn’t drive, but she did get her permit when she was sixteen. She also bought a hand-control equipped car from a lady near St. Louis who had multiple sclerosis. It had a wheelchair compartment on top of the car, and an automated pully loaded and unloaded the wheelchair for her.

Chuck took her out driving a couple of times, but the stress was too much for her. She was scared to drive. On our first outing, with the whole family, somehow she ended up heading toward a ditch and then she just put her hands up over her face and started to cry.

Chuck said, “Can we at least get the car straightened out on the side of the road and then you can cry?”

Another time Chuck took her to an empty school parking lot so that she could practice there with no obstructions. I don’t know how that went, but I know that she didn’t feel comfortable driving.

Maybe we should have taken her to the city and enrolled her in a driving class for disabled individuals, but we both had jobs and would have had to take off work. Plus, the expense would have been a factor, too.

We had some rainy weather, and, during a visit from my dad, we took him out to show him the car. He had lent Chelsea the money to buy it. We were surprised to learn that the wheelchair compartment on the top of the car leaked and the whole inside of Chelsea’s car was soaked. It was awful. We had no garage at the time to keep the car in, and we eventually sold it to someone who stopped by our house, out of the blue, and offered us money for it.

I don’t want people to think Chelsea basically has no life because she does. She has flown on an airplane twice by herself to visit out-of-state friends. She has taken road trips with other friends. She has lunch with lots of different friends all the time–more than I do, actually. She works at a salon, and, although it’s a volunteer position, she does get all her shampoos, cuts, color and waxes free. She enjoys getting out and meeting people and being useful at the salon by answering the phone, keeping the appointment book and returning messages at the salon.

She has a couple of direct sales businesses: Perfectly Posh and LipSense. They aren’t booming businesses, but they are good products and she’s slowly building a customer base. Selling Perfectly Posh gives her a little extra pocket change for things she needs and things she wants. ( Https://ChelseaLacen.po.sh )

She keeps herself looking nice with her makeup and clothes and, of course, her perfect hair, a perk of working at a salon. Despite her life being riddled with medical challenges and other challenges that come from being in a wheelchair: not being able to go in some stores (like Claire’s) because the aisles are too small or too cramped to make turnarounds or going to a beach or moving through gravel or wet ground or even going to family get-togethers because most people have stairs and steps . Because of Chelsea and our Monday-night visits, my dad had a concrete ramp poured off the side of his front porch, but not everyone thinks (or cares enough) to do that.

Chelsea goes to work every day in her power chair. If it’s too cold or too hot or too rainy, sometimes we will take her in her van that was gifted to her by complete strangers. Long story here. The van had been given to their son, who had recently moved to a facility where transportation was provided. Because the van had been given to them, they wanted to also give it to someone who could used it.

It was a gift from heaven. The timing was perfect, too, completely orchestrated by God. She had just had her back-to-back surgeries and had spent almost the entire year in a convalescent long-term care facility. The gift of the van gave her something to look forward to. One of her friends from the Missouri Career Center, where Chelsea used to work, arranged a benefit for Chelsea at Pizza Hut and suggested that we start a Go-Fund-Me page to help get the van equipped for the road: new tires, seat adjustment, the wheelchair door fixed, and a few other things, as well. We also used part of the money to buy Chelsea a hospital bed and air mattress for her wound–and a hospital table, which has been invaluable.

We use the van every Sunday for church, and I have even taken Chelsea to the city a few times in it. Chuck doesn’t like for us to travel far in the van because if something happens to the van, if it breaks down or something, how would we get Chelsea home in her power chair?

My, this has been long-winded, and it’s almost time for lunch so I’ll have to quit writing. I don’t know if I got off on a rabbit trail or not, but I wrote and that was the goal. I earned myself a star–if I had stars to give myself. I’ll read some more in my book today, too. Little by little, maybe I can piece together what it is in me that makes me run to food when things get good or get bad or get happy or get sad.

Before I close, though, let me tell you what I picked up at Walmart today. A customer came by to pick up jewelry this morning and told me about her new love, Chobani Flip-Its. her favorite is the Coco Loco (I think that’s it). It’s coconut flavored Greek yogurt with chocolate pieces and almonds that you flip into it and stir in. Probably they’re not totally on plan, but, in my mind, they’re better than eating a pint of ice cream. I got four kinds because I thought of Chuck while I was standing there looking at all the different kinds. I got two salted caramel ones for Chuck, along with two strawberry crisp ones. I got a caramel one for me to try and a key lime crunch, too. They were a buck eighteen a piece. My customer says she uses hers in a dessert setting. I can’t wait to try one.

I would try one for my afternoon snack, but I enjoyed my diced, salted apple so much with the Triple Zero peach yogurt yesterday afternoon that I almost want to do that again.

Today is Thursday, so that means I have to get ready for another Facebook Live jewelry party tonight. Wish me luck!

3 thoughts on “Italy”

  1. A lovely message….be grateful for the things we have and not to focus on what we don’t have because that is where our frustrations begin. We all have our struggles and think the next person doesn’t. We have our 23 year old son, with severe anxiety, living with us. He is unable to work and was denied SSD a few years ago. Will probably take that struggle up again, soon. So we support him on my husbands disability and small pension. I am unable to work as well, although I am now getting to be of retirement age and am waiting for my SS to kick in, in a few years.
    But I do have one grandchild out of three sons. Oh, and I my oldest has a TBI. Our middle son is going through a divorce. We enjoy our grandson as often as we can as he is 125 miles away. Most of the time we struggle with our finances. Barely making bills and have little for extras. But God provides abundantly. Through ourselves and other people. Glory be to HIM!!

    1. Our adult son lives with us, too. He got laid off at his higher-paying job, but not until after he bought his new Camaro convertible. He couldn’t afford rent and his car payment on his security guard salary. Cam has a learning disability, so we’re just happy he has gainful employment. He also acquired his CDL license this past year, so he drives a school bus part-time and also donates plasma at $70 a week.
      Most of his time is spent playing basketball, pickle ball or tennis. I’m glad he’s active and that he has a lot of friends. The girls come and go like a revolving door. I’ve learned not to get too attached. He was actually “engaged” to one girl, or so he said. I suspect it was all her idea. And then she cheated on him one night when she was apparently drinking. Okay, number one, we don’t drink. Number two, you don’t cheat on your “fiance” and expect all to be just fine when you ‘fess up.
      I worry about him because he’s a little naive, and I don’t want people to take advantage of him. We took him to a behavioral clinic when he was, I don’t know, thirteen or so. The doctor said he would find his niche, working in an orchard or some other such job.
      He hung on for a year, though, working where my husband does, and every day that went by that he didn’t get fired was an accomplishment in his eyes. He never missed work, but it was hard for him. He dreaded every night that he had to go in, and his supervisor didn’t like him and often play rap music and such that really bothered Cameron. His department got in trouble more than once for the music they played, not his fault. Cameron said they tried to play different stuff to be fair, sometimes country, sometimes oldies, but some of the people in his department liked rap–and that’s what got them in trouble.
      He got into an altercation with a coworker who was constantly nagging him and telling him what to do. He told him he wasn’t his boss and to leave him alone. The guy threatened to meet Cameron in the parking lot after work, and Cameron responded, “Why don’t you just hit me right here?” meaning that the parking lot was work property, also. I told Cameron that was completely the wrong response because it sounded like he was provoking the guy. Long story short, both got written up over the incident, and, when the layoff came, they both got it. Neither has been called back. My husband said it was a massive layoff, though, and some people are just now being called back. It could be that Cameron could still be called back, but we doubt it because of the incident with the other employee.
      When Cameron was called into the office, they told him he should have reported the harassment. Cameron said, “I did. That’s why I’m here.” They said he should have reported it sooner and not allowed it to escalate to the point where the guy threatened to meet him in the parking lot after work.
      What is a TBI? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term before.

    2. Okay, I just googled it. TBI is traumatic brain injury? That’s horrible! You do have a lot on your plate. God is good, though, all the time, and He sees us through every obstacle.

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