Monday, March 31, 2008

It's the Regrets

I heard someone say once that when you get older, it is not so much the things you have done wrong that bother you... as the regrets you have for not doing what you could've done.

It is true for me. Missed opportunities, particularly in relationships but also in education, career and some other personal choices are my main regrets. I know I could have and should have made certain choices. Why do some people just seem to KNOW exactly what they want and then move heaven and earth to make it happen? I really admire that.

The worst though is feeling like you have let someone down...that you could've done more. They say the first step in correcting something is to recognize what needs to be done. Then do whatever you can to fix it so you don't repeat past mistakes. So don't wallow in the shoulda, woulda, couldas...but take action, rise above the flaws and mistakes and press forward...always striving for the best. I guess the trick is to know when perfection isn't attainable and recognize when you are doing your best...and it is what it is.

I am forgiving of others. I always cut the other person slack, figuring they're tired or having a bad day or life. But when it comes to me...I am a hard task master and I don't allow myself the same leeway for mistakes as I do for others.

I would do well in these times to remember my own words that I have at the bottom of my web page: Even when people disappoint us or we disappoint them, we need to realize that sometimes in life, all we can do is our best and it's not always going to be someone else's best, but it is our best at the time and so we need to be forgiving of ourselves and others when necessary. (SeaSpray)

The following poem was taken from the front of a card I have in my card file box that I no doubt purchased during one of my feeling guilty moments and then still didn't send it.

Dear Lord...
There are so many wonderful people I love,
and I ask your forgiveness -
and theirs -
For not letting them know
all the times that I could
how they're kept in my thoughts and my prayers.

How the thinks that can seem
so important each day
really mean nothing at all
Compared to the warmth
and the blessings we share
in a visit or letter or call.

So, please help me remember
there'll always be time
to accomplish the things I must do,
But the memories we make
with the ones we love
are the treasures that last all life through.
~ Emily Matthews ~

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Karma = Olympian Cat Wranglers

This post is inspired by a HILARIOUS post written by Dr Rob today and you can find it here! I loved it! :)

One late afternoon, as I was getting ready to go to a hospital dinner, I heard older son yell from the other end of the house, "MOM, MARBLES GOT HIS EYE SCRATCHED OUT!"

He had to stay overnight at the vets and came home the next day with drops, eye ointment and PILLS to be given to him twice a day. Giving him the pills was so traumatic for me that I don't remember if I had to give them twice or not.

What's funny is that we actually believed he would swallow it once it got in his mouth. Hey..I never said I wasn't delusional! Indeed it usually involved having the men of the house hold said cat. Those little critters know how to wrangle and with a vengeance!

The cat did lob the pills across the kitchen a few times. And one time when I did attempt to hold him between me and the kitchen counter he scratched my breast-significantly! And I can honestly tell you that I was ready to lob HIM across the kitchen.

I called the vet's office and explained the cat was refusing his pills and she said to hold his mouth closed, pull chin up and stroke his neck with some pressure (pressure you say" haha...don't tempt me!) The cat did swallow but not the pill.

No...he got around that. Son or husband (depending on who was available) held the little varmint's body and I held his mouth shut...but he opened his lips and let the now frothy medication drool through his teeth onto me and the counter.

In desperation I again called the vet who at this point recommended the pill popper instrument. I could've kissed the vet's feet after kicking him in the shins for not telling me about this in the first place!

That night I must've looked like the Cheshire cat myself because I was sure we would have our way with the cat now. But that wasn't to be. None of us could get the pill into the back of his throat with that either! I swear HE then morphed into the Cheshire Cat with the big grin!

And you know...the veterinarians (I do love mine)...they make it all look so easy. " just take this and do that and it will go down like that!" Then they smile their warm I believe in you smile and you leave thinking all things are possible and everything is right in the world. Well are THEY deluded or are they lying to us?

Suffice it to know the pill popper didn't work! I honestly don't remember if he ever did swallow one of those pills. Maybe what melted on his tongue was enough. (Pharmaceuticals ought to consider the animal drool factor for potency) It was sheer torture to have to do this for TEN days!

But as if that wasn't enough, we had to contend with the eye drops and ointment twice a day! Giving him that wasn't as difficult as the pills but it wasn't a day at the beach either!

Seriously...if Karma is real...what universal law did we break that we had to become Olympian cat wranglers???

So much sadness exists in...

So much sadness exists in the world that we are all under obligation to contribute as much joy as lies within our powers. ~ John Sutherland Bonnell ~

The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say. ~ Kahlil Gibran ~

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Public Service Announcement!!

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I would never think I had to check for an intruder in the toilet bowl! Talk about being vulnerable! :shock: I envision masses of girls and women flocking to therapists because of a newly acquired and severe case of penis envy that they need to overcome! (because men don't have to sit)

You must go over to Fat Doctors to check out this post!

OMGOSH!! I HAVE led a sheltered life!

The following is what I wrote as a comment to her post: "What…do they have SCUBA GEAR? Gold medal swimmers?

EGADS! I’d be having nightmares for a l-o-o-n-g time! I STILL might!

And was there psycho tub Hitchcock music playing in the background? (I would've heard it!)

OMGOSH!! It was bad enough to be bitten by one rat but to have to keep the lid down so others didn’t come in? Oh the HORROR of seeing their noses poking out trying to come out…one slip and then maybe being over run by a hoard of rats! Life would never be the same again. …and… I’m sure basket weaving is relaxing.

That’s like in The Birds movie or the Bees movie…um not the birds and the bees…cause we know that's a beautiful thing. :)

But seriously…now I am afraid sitting here on my computer chair. I just checked…no… no piped water underneath…o.k. I’m safe. ;)

This is why I do not watch horror movies…imagination runs wild. :)

Rats, scorpions and snakes… Oh my! "

Thank you for this public service announcement Fat Doctor! :)

No one said anything about alligators either! WHAT ELSE could possibly come out of the toilet???

Just so you know...if the creepy-o-meter registered the same as the medical pain scale...1-10, then I am a 50! ;) I know...but I am just sayin!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Doctor's Opinion

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Dr Rob wrote an interesting post called "When a System is not a System" in which he discusses why our health care is not a system. He points out that there are 7 entities in health care that work independently and against each other and also mentions some common misconceptions in modern medicine. The comments are also interesting. You can read it here at his "Musings of a Distractible Mind" blog, which by the way is a great read. Also his "Survival" post clearly lays out what to do when your child is sick. (this would be handy to have printed out) And for a heartfelt post read"The Edge" where Dr Rob humbly points out "the edge of the cliff may await you in the next exam room".

For a funny surgical cartoon go here and here for a good laugh at ER Dr WhiteCoat's idea to "offset Medicare cuts". I LOVED this! ;) Too funny and so are the comments. :) Oh and here he recommends another blog because of that blog author's creativity in writing medical odes to popular tunes...also very funny. Peruse the WhiteCoat Rants blog and you will find compassionate, humorous and informative posts aplenty.

Here is a post called "The Objective pain Scale" written by (Er Doc) Scalpel from the Scalpel or Sword blog last year. Anytime a doctor writes a post about pain scales it's a pretty sure thing that comments will abound because people have strong feelings about this topic. He recently put up some favorites that are on his side bar. "A Letter to an Angry Patient" is another great post with interesting/funny comments. And Scalpel, your post on "Drunk Teenage Girls" has inspired me and I think I soon will tell about my first drunk experience. What a great blog! Oh and thanks for not deleting my little political tirade in the comments to one of your recent posts. I was concerned that I was offensive but I was offended and is why I reacted so strongly. I have most definitely had some blogger's remorse over that one but I had just heard about it all and was/am truly upset about it. My trust is gone.

Another blog I would like to recommend is a new one I have recently discovered called "Everyone Needs Therapy". Therapy Doc has written so many excellent posts! There is a lot of good reading over there and there are plenty of topics covered that could lead to facilitate emotional healing, perhaps stirring one enough that they would consider seeking professional help to pursue their issues further.

"Dr Gwenn Is In" is an awesome pediatrics blog authored by Dr Gwenn, pediatrician and health journalist. You can get the latest pediatric info along with other interesting topics right here. is another great blog (even if she is a Red Sox fan ;) with so much information and an excellent read. Here is a post packed with information! With the spring sports season already underway, "Sportsmanship Law...Just What The Doctor Ordered" (with links) is a must read.

And where else could a girl like me-a.k.a.surgical groupie, feel romanced into falling in love with some stranger's abdominal cavity and their inner workings in all their glory except in Sid Schwab's post, "You Are So Beautiful" (I love that song) over at Surgeon'sblog? This doctor has a gift in guiding one through the surgical experience... pre-operatively, during and post-op. His compassion, dedication and skill is evident.

These are just a few of the many wonderful doctor blogs in the medical blogosphere. These docs along with the other wonderful blogging docs, nurses and non medical people that peruse the land of Medical Blogdom are the reason that I am not reading as many books as I used to or keeping up with my personal contacts like I want to do. I am also writing a little post on blogging addiction that I will put up sometime soon. I have to break away I tell you! MUST...PRY...FINGERS...FROM ...KEYB-O-A-R-D...AL-M-O-S-T FREE.... ;)

I trust it is alright that I linked to you Docs. Thanks for the never ending supply of interesting posts. :)

I have put up a lot of posts recently and so this funny post is already getting lost among the others. It's titled, "Do You Know Where Your Specimen Is?" Ya'll know how I am about funny urine stories and so I thought this was a hoot! Evidently the woman loved her son a LOT! I can't imagine wanting anyone's urine for a souvenir...although...she might have been drawn to the pretty iridescent sparkle in my whizzie winkles. ;) Oh and Chrysalis Angel...if only they were aqua. A girl can dream... ;)

Swept Off My Feet (Revised)

Whenever I hear this song I just want to be swept off my feet. I think this is the most romantic song ever and I am so profoundly moved whenever I hear it that I just want to stop whatever I am doing. It always evokes certain images in my mind and I am instantly there in spirit.

Do you have a song that moves you like that? It takes you somewhere else? A song that causes you to strain to hear it if you are out and that you just want to stop to listen or dance romantically in someone's arms? And it greatly affects your mood?

Unchained Melody by the Righteous brothers does it for me every time.

I also enjoyed the Ghost movie. I love this romantic scene! Just the song alone...but then it also doesn't hurt to have Patrick Swayze and a phallic symbol either. I'm just sayin. :)

My heart breaks for them, especially Demi Moore. I cried.

It's never easy to say good bye to someone we love or deeply care about. But I think that when we have had a soul connection there is always a part of that person still with us... in our hearts...and they leave with a part of us forever with them in their hearts. I am talking about the kind of connection where we don't need words...we can just look at each other or feel their presence and know there is a mutual depth of deeper understanding between us... we know we don't want to part but whether going to new things in this life or the just has to be.'s never easy to say good bye .

This YouTube was the "Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody ('Ghost' Soundtrack)"

Another thing about the movie is that I like how it portrayed another dimension from what we can recognize in our earthly existence as well as alluding that there is even more beyond that dimension.

Indeed there is so much more (good and evil) than our mortal senses can comprehend... in dimensions surrounding us and beyond.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Be so strong...


It was a bitter-sweet Easter celebration. We had a nice Easter get together over at my in-laws. Three of my m-i-l's sisters were there with their husbands and one niece. As was my older son, his wife and daughter, my mother and us. Younger son couldn't go though because he has a bad cold and didn't dare go in that house with Deanna's immune system so compromised from battling the stupid cancer.

I love when all the relatives get together. It's rare now because everyone is off with their own families. But I have always said marrying my husband was like marrying into the Waltons because they are such a close and loving family. I learned a lot about family from them. I love my family but they seemed to put more emphasis on friends than family. They all loved each other but it's definitely a different dynamic and none of us are close. Except for my mother, the older generation has died out and we cousins love each other but just never really communicate. I wish we did and I am just as guilty of not keeping in touch.

Devan looked so cute and pretty in her Easter dress. She loved her Easter basket and gifts. I think her favorite thing is the traditional Easter egg hunt outside. She just love's that! Our older son was racing her for the eggs but of course made sure she found the most. :)

There was so much food...way more than was needed...but delicious. I baked a big lasagna and I baked a small 9x13 lasagna for our younger son since he couldn't be with us. I also made a broccoli souffle which is a total comfort food and basically a heart attack on a plate...God forbid. They ordered a tray of chicken parm and also spaghetti so they didn't have to be concerned with cooking and then there was some other food too. I don't really like ham very much...but I like my m-i-l's ham and so I did have some of that. The funny thing is that I gave her the recipe for cooking it when I first got married but I don't know what she does to it because it ALWAYS taste better than mine.

I kept going like the energizer bunny into the wee hours of the morning (thank you monavie) because I kept doing one more thing and then just one more thing. We were also celebrating my m-i-l's birthday and Deanna's birthday and so had to get their presents wrapped and do the birthday cards and Easter cards. And then I decided to just keep cleaning. I only had 4 hours sleep but it felt good getting up only having to bake the lasagna and a souffle.

However, because I was in the stores so long and on my feet seemingly forever.. now I am having knee pain. I had 2 meniscal repairs done on that knee and if I overdo it , I do find it bothers me. The MonaVie juice isn't helping with that. I thought it was at first but now I am not so sure. Although this is the original formula. I know the Happy Hospitalist is drinking the active formula which contains the liquid glucosamine and some other ingredients that helps joints. He says his shoulder pain has stopped while drinking the juice.

I am optimistic about the other things the juice is doing though...and energy is one of them.

Our aunt is so thin... seems like nothing to her. She had a really hard time getting out of the chair to stand up and everyone is afraid to help her up because she is sore where the mastectomy was. Is that normal... because that was done a year ago? She looked like she was struggling to focus on what people were doing/saying. I kind of think she is in pain but not letting on.

Yet everyone must know she isn't looking good. It's like everyone does this dance of silent denial around the sick person because no one, including myself seems to acknowledge her increasing frailty. Last night I picked out a pretty Easter card that said some things that perfectly described her and it also played Amazing Grace when it was opened. But then today my husband said don't give it to her and I said, "Why...because they sing it at funerals?", to which he answered yes. I did have that thought after I brought it home but quickly dismissed it because it is a pretty song. So, I pretended that I forgot it but we will get her another card tomorrow. Maybe that was silly to do, but yet another part of the dance of denial.

I recently said in another blog that I have questions about her condition but I don't want to give power to my words. She had to go lie down twice. She seems very weak. They found lesions on her brain and so started radiation a couple of weeks ago. She gets a break tomorrow. It's in her liver but not worse or better. I have to admit, I was privately thinking about quality vs quantity of life today. Yet...she was feeling awful and seemed weak prior to them discovering the brain lesions and so after two days of radiation she seemed to rally back and walk better, etc., but my husband said today he didn't realize she was that bad from when he saw her last week. I know radiation can make you tired and I hope that was it. It seemed as though just speaking was an effort for her and she was quiet today.

And today she told me she feels bad that everyone is worrying about her. My mother-in-law lives with her and is bearing the brunt of it and she will be 78 next week. Today our aunt told me that she wants to live and she hopes and prays that she does but if not then that's the way it is. It was the way she looked and sounded when she said the "but if not" she is doubting.

You know...I always seem to have words, suggestions and hope for others and now ...I feel so useless and powerless around her that I might as well be a puddle of melted jello around her because I don't feel I am helping her with anything I say and I love her so much. I don't even know what to say. I don't know what to do. I empathetically listened while she said the few things she said to me. I can ALWAYS think of something...but not now. I offered to come over and help or take them anywhere because I certainly have the time since I am not working but she said no that they have everything taken care of. I made a big pot of homemade chicken soup a while back but they don't go through much food and really just kind of do their own thing. I did dry and fold their stuff because their dryer went on the fritz. They never want to bother anyone. And they are very stoic. The never complain. I still can't believe she went home the same day she had a radical mastectomy! Even today, she tried to smile although I could see it wasn't easy for her. I wrote this back when it all started. I just want to see her get that radiant smile back and for her to be back to doing the things she used to do.

You know...we all think we have forever sometimes... but we don't. When I was younger, I took family for granted. I used to balk at going to family reunions sometimes because I wanted to do my own thing and I wish I had the many relatives that have since passed on- with us. It is so true that we should appreciate the time we have before us right now and be savoring the moments.

I welcome anyone reading this who feel so inclined, to pray for or send good thoughts toward Deanna and family. Thank you. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I found this on the web and thought it was perfect for today. :)

Last year I put this post up for Easter. I feel badly in that an anonymous person left a heartfelt message that I missed and therefore didn't respond to. So I commented on it last night...just in case the anonymous person comes through again.

Last year I also put up another Easter post called "The Seven Last sayings of Christ" that you can read here.

I do hope you all have a beautiful day today. ~ SeaSpray~ :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Power of Music and Other Things (Juke Box)

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A friend sent this to me via e-mail and I thought I would share it with you. I've been having fun with it and hope you do too. Thanks Mary Jo! :)

Ha! Once I got past My Sharona, Jessie's Girl,We Will Rock You, and Springsteen among others, I used it for inspiration while writing my APB posts. I listened to songs from 1967 -1970 because some songs from that era evoke awful feelings in me and those were the feelings that I wanted to get in touch with.

Aquarius, Hey Jude, In The Ghetto, Love Child, Dedicated to the One I Love, Bridge Over Troubled Water...are a few of the songs that cause me to feel bad if I hear them. Now, I actually like a lot of songs from back maybe it's because I didn't really like them anyway and I somehow lumped them in with my negative feelings about some things during that time. I loved the Stones, Hendrix, Doors, Credence, Beach Boys, Oldies and so much more.

But certain songs make me want to run out of the room. Haha! So does paisley and Nehru jackets!

I can't stand paisley. When I see paisley, I hear the Psycho tub Alfred Hitchcock music in my mind. I'm kidding! ;) But... I guarantee there is no paisley in our house and my husband doesn't own any paisley ties. A couple of years ago I ordered a pretty mauve spring coat from QVC and was disturbed when I saw it had a paisley lining. Ugh! Because I don't like sending things back ...I wore it... but every time...I had to get past the paisley. I know most people would disagree with me but I think paisley should be outlawed! I'm just sayin. ;)

I wonder...does anyone else have anything that they are sensitive to that gives them negative feelings because of past association?

I'm leaving for Costco soon to buy eggs to color among other things. I love that store!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do You Know Where Your Specimen Is?

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This looks like kidney stone urine to me. I think the person that left this specimen needs to drink more water.

You all know how I am about whizziewinkles and so after I followed this link on The Blog That Ate Manhattan (great blog)...ya know I just had to put it up here. It's a short YouTube about a stolen specimen in the gyno doc's office.

If it really happened...I wonder what happened to the person who stole it? And how did they have access to it? If true...I think it's hilarious and bizarre. :)

Thanks for the laugh TBTAM! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

APB on SeaSpray (Part IV)
This is the church property I cut through that morning. The priests live in a house up behind the church and now since I lived there they have a great hall where they hold other events. I came down through the woods past their house and headed out to the highway.

Here are the last two paragraphs I wrote in part III.

It was a bright sunny morning at the end of February and quite cold, with snow frozen on the ground. Shortly after 8 a.m., I locked the house and headed out the back door with just the clothes on my back and my pretty suede pocketbook. I cut through the woods that bordered the back of our property and through St. John Vianney’s church property, out to the highway where I stood and put my thumb out for a ride.

Seemingly, in a matter of seconds…someone pulled over and I got in the car, leaving my home in Stockholm-headed for the Jersey Shore.

I don't remember anything about the car, maybe that it was an average size but nothing that stands out in my mind. I was nervous and maybe even a little scared when I saw the car pull over for me. There were two guys sitting in the front seat. They wanted to know where I was going and when I told them, the driver said they would take me as far as the NJ Parkway. (That was about 50 minutes or so depending on traffic from our house.) I agreed and so the passenger got out and gestured for me to go sit in the middle-between the two of them. And so I did and then off we went.

I was nervous at first but then they seemed nice and I relaxed. They told me they lived in Summit lake, which was the lake next to ours. They asked me how old I was and told me they were both 27. They both had dark hair. And they were wearing jeans. I know they both spoke with me but it's the driver I remember most. I don't know why. Maybe he engaged me in more conversation.

A Four Seasons song came on the radio and I asked if I could turn it up. The driver started talking about them and told me he was good friends with Frankie Valli. At one point my eyes met the driver's eyes in the mirror and he told me I had pretty eyes. That is all I remember until we got near the parkway. Now we were on Route 3 getting close to the parkway south exit.

The driver said to me, "Whatever you do...DON'T hitchhike on the parkway because the police will pick you up. You have to stand right by the exit." I said o.k. and thanked both of them. His friend let me out. They drove away. I hated seeing them go. I was feeling really scared now...but determined and I intended to keep going... no matter what.
After what seemed like forever but was probably only a couple of minutes... if that...a car pulled over. The window went down and an older business man leaned over and asked me where I was going. I told him I wanted to go to the Brick Township High School at the shore. He said he would take me but that I had to go with him to Elizabeth first because he had some business there. I agreed, got in and off we went.

I don't remember any conversation with him. I remember he had sandy brown curly hair and a long tan coat. I was more nervous with him then the other guys. You'd think it would've been the other way around because the 1st car was 2 guys to one girl and I was stuck in the middle whereas there was just one man and I was sitting near the door. Maybe because he was older.

When we got to Elizabeth I had to wait awhile in the car and I was nervous then too and actually glad when he came back out of the building. He did just as he said he would and brought me to my school. I thanked him and headed into my school.

I got there in time for the last class of the day and ran into a friend who brought me to her music class and hid me in the closet with the instruments. It was so nice to see my friends again and since I couldn't go home, I asked someone to bring me to the bowling alley. I figured I would hang out there with that older couple until some of my friends came in later that night.

I can still see how the sun was shining in the big windows into the snack/arcade area. I was also feeling out of place. It was all so familiar but I felt different. I also didn't have a plan. I had no idea where I was going to spend the night or who was going to bring me home. It really was all a stupid desperate move on my part.

Finally it got dark and soon the regulars started coming in. It felt good to see them but even that seemed different. And here I was a FOURTEEN year old girl hanging out as the only girl with these a bowling alley with no where to go.

And you know...they wore black leather jackets and some years earlier they would've been referred to as hoods. They weren't going to college. They worked, hung out, drank and whatever. I really didn't fit the type you would expect to be with them but I was too misguided to realize it. Obviously James Dean died way before this, but they were a type like that. They wore the white T shirts, cigarettes under the short sleeves and really looked like the guys in the pic above. I was friends with other regular boys, but these are the ones I was with most of the time.

However, one that liked me and I him was more of a cowboy type because they worked with horses and baled hay etc. He wore plaid shirts, jeans,boots and a cowboy hat. He was only a couple of years older then me. His mother used to invite me for dinner. I was this little vagabond of the 2 neighborhoods because I never really knew where I was going to end up. Some years earlier there was a Four Seasons song called "Rag Doll" that they would still play on the radio occasionally and the lyrics reminded me of me. I wondered if that was how people saw me. I was so secretive about my life, but I had so little compared to my friends, I was afraid it was obvious.

That night Bill (the guy who was always so nice to me) said he would look out for me and bring me home. It had gotten very cold out. He brought me back to his house and put a TV dinner in the oven for me. Both his mother and girlfriend were working. He brought me over to the piano where we sat together and he showed me how to play the background music to the Doo-Wop songs. He said it was the same background music to most of those songs. I still remember how to do it although not as good as him I am sure. :)

It was getting late and he said we had to leave because his mother would be home soon. So we went out into the cold night and back into his car. It was a light blue convertible. He drove us to a secluded area not far from our houses where we parked for the night. he would turn the car on and off for heat and I ended up nestling under his arm because I was cold. We fell asleep that way. The daylight woke us up and we talked awhile. Then...he leaned over and kissed me on the mouth. I was surprised because he had a girlfriend but I kissed him back and we kissed for a few minutes. But we stopped and after a few minutes he said he would walk home to wash up and then comeback to take me home.

I was actually excited that I would be showing him the lake and where I lived. It was just so different from the shore. After awhile I began wondering what was taking him so long and was getting concerned but then saw him walking toward the car. he got closer I could see he looked upset and wondered what was wrong with his face.??? When he got in the car, I could see he had a lot of tiny cuts on his face and his throat and little tiny tissues stuck to the drying blood. I had never seen that before and asked what happened??

He said that he had just gotten in the door when the phone rang. It was around 7 in the morning. He answered the phone and it was my mother on the other end of the phone really upset and she wanted to know if he knew where I was. He told her he didn't. She proceeded to tell him that I ran away and that there was an APB out on me and for him to call her if he knew anything. He was so shaken up by the call that when he tried to shave...he cut himself everywhere. That poor guy...he must've been so scared that he was going to get into trouble and here he was so sweet and really looked after me. You know come to think of it...he was always doing something nice for me.

I don't remember if he brought me home or if I walked.

I don't remember walking into our house but I remember getting an "O-h-h PATTY...sad sigh from my mother. I do remember standing in the kitchen when she called my aunt and uncle and then I had to get on the phone and talk to my aunt. I was afraid because even though we got along very well...she was no one to cross. I tried to explain that I wasn't running away but I don't remember anything else she said on the phone but this..."Alright...if YOU want to TRAMP around the streets...then YOU can just STAY down there until your uncle decides he is GOOD AND READY TO PICK YOU UP!!!" Then she slammed the phone down.

I felt so sad inside but I didn't let on to my mother. I thought..."I'm NOT a TRAMP!" I was really hurt about that. I was still the girl who believed in staying a virgin...but they didn't know that.

The reason they thought I ran away is because our next door neighbor saw me leave the house and head into the woods. My aunt probably had her watching me. I didn't anticipate that.

And I was afraid to see my oh so strict uncle again. And every day I waited with intense anxiety...all day long...every day (8 days) until the following Saturday...wondering if this was the day he was picking me up.

I don't remember anything else about that week. I don't remember being in the house, being with my mother or even sleeping in my bed. I don't remember being with my friends. The only thing I remember is that it was a cloudy day when I walked into my shore house and it was a cloudy day when I left. I don't remember saying good bye to my mother, the pets or my friends. it's all a blank. And I never saw Bill again. I never saw any other friends again except for two of them and have long since lost touch with them.

The other thing I remember about that awful week was that for as much as I wanted to be down the shore...I felt like I didn't belong there anymore. Yet...I didn't feel like I belonged at the lake house either. I just felt so out there. I didn't belong anywhere.

My uncle picked me up the following Saturday and again we didn't talk for the entire two hour trip up here. The side of his face and neck was moving though. He must have been seething with anger.

When I walked into the living room, I saw that my aunt was sitting on the far side of the room, looking down at what she was crocheting and I thought I was going to be able walk past her into my room without her saying anything. I was right in front of her in hopes of making it around the corner when she locked eyes on me like a hawk after its prey. She looked over her glasses with fire in her eyes, not moving a muscle on her body and said in a cool toned stern voice, "IF-you-EVER-do ANYTHING like that again...we WILL put you in an all girls home." I never did anything like that again.

I loved them and did appreciate what they were trying to do but I was so unhappy that I was like a maverick in the stall, continually trying to bust out in one way or the other. They had their hands full until the school year ended.

After that event I now had to see the school psychologist on a weekly basis until the end of the year. But I actually liked that. I enjoyed the tests and talking with her. The 1st test she gave me was the house-tree test. That's where you are supposed to draw a picture with a house and tree. My house was in the middle of the paper while the tree was on the ground. She said that meant I saw my home life up in the air. I could've told her that without the picture. Then she did the Rorschach test...that was fun. She said my IQ was 125. And we talked a lot. She did help me. Years later my aunt gave me a card the psychologist gave them. In the note she said that I had made wonderful progress and that I would benefit from their continued good influence and I was college material. (I still have it) The guidance counselor had also been working with my aunt and said I should repeat my freshman year because my grades were so poor but that he thought it would do more harm. Instead he pushed me forward, although I did have to repeat English I.

And I became a happy girl during the summer and accepted that is where I was living and it was finally beginning to feel like home. I loved swimming and canoeing in the lake. I especially loved to tip it over with friends in it! ;)

Our canoe was green but my uncle surprised me one day by painting it blue because he knew blue was my favorite color. :)

My mother had moved up here and got a place of her own after awhile and I was given a choice to stay or go with her. It was with tremendous guilt that I opted to stay with my aunt and uncle, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I was part of a family and in a nice home. My mother didn't say anything to go against me. She moved out and went on her own. I never wanted to hurt her and I am grateful for her letting stay. She was/is my mother and while I didn't understand it then...I now know as a mother myself that it must've ripped her heart out. or...maybe she was secretly doing a jig. And I lived with my aunt and uncle in Stockholm for the next 6 years until my uncle gave me away on my wedding day.

So now I have just told the most painful and embarrassing part of my life. It could've been worse. I know that. And...I am grateful for every kindness and every good thing that came out of the experience.

It also helped me to be a good mother because I went out of my way to let our sons know I loved them every day of their lives. I still do when it's possible. I made it my mission to nurture and to keep communication open as well as have structure along with fun and laughter. I tried to be present for them as much as possible. Sure...I have made mistakes and I have regrets...things I could've done better, but above all...I know...they know they are loved very much.

And this is exactly why I find myself drawn to people who seem to be straying or hurting for various reasons. When it involves young kids or young adults...I have tried to be there to impart wisdom just as my aunt and some other adults have done and do for me. Sometimes just a hug, something to let them know someone cares. And listen...really listen.

I am also there for adults and many people have been there for me too. It's what life is all about...loving each other. Standing by someone and letting them know you believe in them even if they no longer believe in themselves. Reassure them that things will get better.

And I love to feed people and derive great pleasure in knowing that I have warmed someone's heart with a good deed.

I have always treated every every person equally and compassionately regardless of their appearance. The experience taught me compassion and not to judge people because we don't always have all the facts and things aren't always what they seem.

It's a good thing God didn't say yes to my prayers and let me move back or maybe I wouldn't be here today. It's grateful you don't always get what you pray for. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St Patrick's Day and About Family
When our older son was little he used to get so excited, actually jumping up and down when mild mannered Dr David Banner would get angry and then morph into the very green, large Incredible Hulk, who after popping the buttons on his shirt and having his pants shrink to a shorter size would then go save the day.

I'll finish the APB story later. Now I am preparing our Irish dinner for tonight. Corn beef, cabbage, carrots, red potatoes and homemade Irish soda bread. Nothing Irish about desert though. Devan delivered her Girl Scout cookies yesterday and we bought so many that I will just put them out on a plate. Also fruit or ice cream.

My mother will be coming over and so will older son, d-i-l and Devan. Younger son has some friends (spring break) here and they are welcome too. Although...that will mean no leftover for Reuben sandwiches. Ha ha! I'd rather feed everyone anyway! :)

I have a wee bit o the Irish in me since one of my middle names is Cunningham. It was my maternal grandmother's maiden name although she was born in Scotland. So was my maternal grandfather - his last name was MacDonald. Her father was an Irish sea captain. Maybe that is where I get my love of the sea?

Growing up I often heard that I have the Cunningham nose, which is a turned up small nose. Some of my cousins have it as did an uncle. The Cunninghams in our family also have a roundish face. My mother and her other brother took after her father which was the MacDonald side of the family. Genetics are so interesting. Both the Cunninghams and the MacDonalds all have blue eyes.

Our youngest son has brown eyes. It surprised me when my cousin seeing him for the first time. exclaimed..."He's got brown eyes!" That was the first time that I realized he stood out in family with his brown eyes. Our older son has blue eyes. My husband and family have hazel eyes but my father had brown eyes.

My father's family was German. I didn't get to see a good picture of him until I was in my twenties. I think I am actually a blending of the Cunninghams and the Sauers. When I was in my twenties an older co-worker asked my about my family and then exclaimed..."That's look like a little Frau girl!" (I am 5'8") Some years later while working at the hospital a co-worker also asked me about my family. He was German. We were talking about family names. I told him someone I worked with said I looked like a little frau girl and he said "Oh...she shouldn't have said that ! That's an insult!" I don't think she meant it that way. And I don't know if that is really an insult. I do remember being surprised you could determine a person's nationality by their appearance and she was surprised I didn't know that and went on to describe physical traits of people -matching them to their nationality. She also had nicknames I was not comfortable with nor ever have or ever would use.

About St Patrick's Day. I grew up living in my Scottish grandparents house. I don't recall ever celebrating the holiday. But I do remember my mother and grandmother saying you should wear orange on St Patrick's Day. I do remember wearing an orange sweater in my fifth grade class.

UGH! I didn't know. I didn't know any better. I did not know there was a political religious war. I did not know that was the protestant way of revolting against the catholics. I just didn't understand the implications. I would never want to hurt or insult anyone. But it demonstrates how these biases are perpetuated through the generations.

I don't know anything about the religious wars between the protestants and catholics. What I do know is that God loves us all. ALL mankind. He said so himself and he is no respecter of persons...he loves us equally.

It is man that complicates things inserting all kinds of man made rules and beliefs that God has no part of. His message is simple...Love one another as you love yourself.

St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. That sounds like a good thing to me.

Now it's time to go put some Celtic music on. :)

Happy St Patrick's Day! :)

P.S. I hope this wasn't offensive in any way. I just believe that we are all God's children and that it grieves him when we war with each other on any level, small or great.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Background-APB (Part III)

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*If anyone reading this wants to bypass this background, you can go down to the asterisk where I start the APB story.

I was so furious with my uncle for telling me he wouldn’t take me to the shore on the following weekend. After all…I was willing to come back up on Sunday, in time for school on Monday. I thought I was so mature and obviously didn't understand the adult perspective. I do think I had to grow up sooner and had to deal with things that probably most kids my age didn’t have to. Then again…you never know what goes on behind closed doors. My next door neighbors are a classic example of that but differently and much worse because it was sexual in nature. But I digress.

I remember when I was a little girl…I would hear my mother talking about the 14 and 16 year old girls walking the streets, wearing makeup and that they were sleeping around. I don’t know if that was fact or just cruel gossip, but it occurs to me now…that I was probably perceived that way too by other parents, except that I only occasionally wore the palest light pink lipstick and mascara.

But I wasn’t like those girls sleeping around (if they were) and I left the shore with my virginity still intact. That was important to me. AND I never saw any guys nekkid south of the border either. Clothes were always on. And really…that was the summer of 69…the free love generation had already kicked in. If it feels good do it and all that.

I knew some girls that had gotten pregnant, many were sexually active and some did drugs, drank and smoked. I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t want to. Maybe one good thing that came from my being so independent on the home front, along with having good values…is that I have never felt like I had to follow the crowd and do something I didn’t want to do.

Writing this stuff has caused me to really think about it in ways that I haven’t before. Sure …years after becoming an adult I began talking about it…but there really is something to putting things into written word. (I value written words given to me as well. There is something about a note, a card with a note or e-mail, a person takes the time to write that always stirs me. ) When I write, it is like birthing something…clarifying and becoming more concrete in my mind. I have never written anything about this in such detail. I am feeling things that I haven’t felt for a very long time.

As an adult…I am thinking that some of or maybe most of my actions got back to her. She never had a heart to heart with me though. Who knows? Maybe we weren’t even capable of that anyway or I would be so headstrong that I would just bolt right out the door.

The summer before I left…I did do some stupid things. For example, one night at the end of the summer, the guy with the Road Runner asked a bunch of us if we wanted to go 100 miles an hour in his car. So we piled in sans seat belts (didn’t wear them back then) , the windows were down and music was blasting...and he drove 100 mph on this long flat road with fields on both sides. Another time the oldest son of a neighbor behind my house asked me if I wanted a ride on his motorcycle. I said, “SURE!” and off we went and with no helmets. I think he said we were doing around 80mph and I do know it was real fast, but then it seems faster on a bike anyway. Some years later my cousin Doug and his girlfriend were killed on a motorcycle because they collided with a poll on an off ramp in Albuquerque. These things happen, but again...I was so naive back then.

I don’t know if this was dangerous but stupid maybe. I was with friends down at Sea Side Heights and I was hanging out by the pool on the boardwalk. I was watching this man do high dives off the diving board and decided I wanted to try it. He was the Snake Man. He was real muscular and had a lot of tattoos. I don’t know what he did with snakes but it had something to do with one of those sideshows on the boardwalk. They don’t do that stuff anymore or not that I have seen anyway.

I walked up to him and asked him if he could show me how to dive off the high diving board. Mind you…I never dove off any diving board before and now I was choosing the high dive. So up the ladder we went. He showed me the form I should use and how to fall over the side and keep my body straight. He warned me that I did not want to do a belly flop. I went to the edge, put my hands/arms overhead, took a breath and went over. I was so trusting or naive about negative consequences. OUCH!!! I cut my lip. I did talk to him afterward but don’t remember what was said. And...I never did that again.

I already mentioned that my summers were more wholesome because I spent almost everyday with my girlfriend and her parents and a third girl that came around too. We were kind of like the three Muscateers although Iris and I were two peas in a pod. Almost everyday we were swimming in her pool or at the ocean. We were and still are passionate about swimming in the Ocean. We road bikes, played games, told spooky stories at night while lying together on the chaise lounge on her porch. We did all kinds of girly things, but our favorite was the ocean by day and boardwalk by nite. Her parents always took me out to dinner with them or shopping. But when we got older her father would take us to the boardwalk and let us roam on our own while he played games in the arcade. So since we were minors we would dance outside the Rip Tide Bar on the boardwalk to Honky Tonk Women or Bad Moon Rising, etc., or go on rides and just hang out. One evening...she started making out with a strange guy under the boardwalk. I was concerned because she didn't know him. So I went to her father, told him and together we went down to the beach to get her. SHEESH! All the stuff I did and I was worried about her. Although, even as an adult she tells me I did the right thing.

One night around midnight…we walked down by the water. I talked her into going in the ocean with me with our clothes on. It was dark and no lifeguards. Her father who was easy going was upset about that. Then another night, we were just about to walk down the ramp from the boardwalk to go home. I dropped back behind them and asked a boy if I could borrow his bike. I went flying past them and shouted, “Uncle Charlie…NO BREAKS!!” to which he shouted, “PATTY!”, and I slammed on the breaks just before getting to the busy boulevard. (I apologized about that again when I was an adult.)

So, not only was I engaging in self destructive attention seeking behavior, but couple that with all the other stuff I did when I wasn’t with Iris…and I can appreciate WHY my uncle wouldn’t let me go back down to the shore for even a weekend.

I am pretty sure that my guardian angel must’ve started getting gray hair when I was 13 and 14.

*As fate would have it, my aunt’s sister came down with shingles that week after my uncle and I had the huge fight. She decided she would go stay with her sister up in Highland Lakes to help her while she was ill. On Thursday, I devised what I thought was the perfect plan.

I often stayed overnight at my friend Pat T’s on the weekend. So I figured I would skip school the next day (Friday) so I could hitchhike 100 miles back down to the shore.

My uncle always left for work at 5:30 in the morning... so he wouldn’t know either. I wrote him a note explaining that I wouldn’t be home after school because I was going home with Pat on the bus to her house and was staying overnight. I said I would be back the next day. Seriously…I don’t know what I was thinking other than it was a desperate act from a broken hearted desperate young girl. Oh…and a headstrong girl too!

The plan was to get a ride to my old H.S., meet someone there, stay overnight with someone (because I couldn’t tell my mother), and then have someone drive me back home the next morning. I was actually kind of excited about showing whoever brought me back where I lived. BTW…no one down the shore knew I was coming down or had any of these plans.

It was a bright sunny morning at the end of February and quite cold, with snow frozen on the ground. Shortly after 8 a.m., I locked the house and headed out the back door with just the clothes on my back and my pretty suede pocketbook. I cut through the woods that bordered the back of our property and through St. John Vianney’s church property, out to the highway where I stood and put my thumb out for a ride.

Seemingly, in a matter of seconds…someone pulled over and I got in the car, leaving my home in Stockholm-headed for the Jersey Shore.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More Background before APB (Pt II)

I don't really remember much about my last day living at the shore with my mother. I don't remember packing anything. I didn't have much to bring...but still..I don't remember preparing to go. I don't remember anything about the house or any final conversations my mother and I had. I don't remember my final school days in Brick Township H.S. I don't remember saying good bye to my neighbors or even my pets. It is all a blank.

I do remember that my girlfriends gave me a going away party. I still have a gold heart pendant one of my closest friends gave me and it has her phone number on the back. I have long since lost touch with her.

I do remember that on the morning I was to leave, my friend Bill picked me up and brought me to point Pleasant Beach so I could say good bye to the ocean. Bill had a girlfriend, also named Pat. I didn't know her because she was older and worked a lot. He was a nice guy and a good friend to me.

I am embarrassed to say this next part but it conveys the depth of sorrow I was feeling at having to leave the shore.

We walked together down to the water. I had brought small jars with me. I collected ocean air in the 1st jar, ocean sand in the second jar, and ocean water in the 3rd jar. I did that so I could have a little bit of the shore with me even though I was far from the beach.

Then we walked over to the jetty and I picked out 2 good size rocks to bring with me. Bill carried them for me. I do remember that he was so sweet and I guess he felt sorry for me or something. He was always so nice to me. But I don't remember saying goodbye to him because I don't even remember him bringing me home...yet I know he did.

I don't remember what time of day my uncle came to get me...just that it was still daylight. Nor do I remember what kind of car, although I suspect it was their red Riviera. I really liked that car because the seats were this real pretty silver color and it also had bucket seats in the back.

You would think a girl would remember saying goodbye to her mother and her pets...but I just don't. I know I kept my feelings in and didn't cry once.

I do remember that I didn't talk for the entire two hour ride up here. I do remember being taken with the mountains up here and the pretty reservoirs...they were so pretty and different then the flat shore area I was familiar with.

And when we turned to go up the hill into the lake community (Lake Tamarack) they lived in, as we got to the top...I was in awe of the mountains and rustic lake houses. I had been to their house for a week one summer but the leaves on the trees concealed a lot. This time the mountains popped because of the snow contrasting the trees on the mountains.

I don't remember walking in the house or saying hi to my aunt. I do remember walking in the curved hallway to my room. I always liked that hallway because it was different. And I liked how they had a phone built into the hallway wall with a shelf. I just don't remember the 1st couple of hours other than I stayed in my room. I guess I needed to acclimate to my surroundings.

I liked the furniture in the room. It had been my cousin Doug's and so it had a sea captains mirror over the dresser and I liked it. I also had a nice sized desk and book shelves with cabinet, a night stand and a twin bed that also had a bookshelf in the headboard. There was also a comfortable swivel, rocking fabric chair. It wasn't a real big room but was quite cozy. It also had two good size windows. It was all so much nicer than what I had at the shore house. And I could hardly believe that I had my own TV. It was just a little 13 inch black and white, but I loved it.

I remember I decided to watch an Elvis Presley movie that came on. And I decided to venture out into the house to get something to eat. My aunt told me to fix whatever I wanted. I was in awe of a side by side refrigerator and her pretty kitchen. I was amazed to see so much food in the refrigerator. I made myself a swiss cheese sandwich with guldens mustard on rye bread and then brought it to my room. It is my last memory for that day and actually it was dark by now.

They took me shopping the next day and bought me everything. Well it felt like it anyway.

My next memory is of my walking into Franklin HS for the first time and immediately noticing its old smell. I was horrified at how small it was and that it was so old that it had steam heat. I HATED IT. I immediately longed for the big beautiful regional school I had gone to at the shore. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I did not belong there and everything in me was screaming that I wanted to go home.

I was always very friendly but I refused to make friends. I wouldn't do my homework nor would I participate in class. I came home and told my aunt I hated it and wanted to go back home. Kids started teasing me and that exacerbated the negative situation. I never said anything mean but maybe my disdain for it all was obvious. One girl would even shoot a water pistol at me in class. She was also really mean to me on the bus and I was secretly afraid of her.

By the second week...I refused to go to school. Just refused.

My aunt and uncle were very strict and no nonsense and this behavior was not going to be tolerated. My cousin Doug would get his father's (my uncle) temper going. he was 8 years older and living out west. His daughter Lee was so well behaved that I don't think she ever caused him stress. I think she was living in England that year. Anyway, the next day my uncle stayed home from work. I can tell you right there that had to be making his blood boil. I refused to go to school and I remember the jugular on his neck and his temple moving. He also had a very deep voice that used to scare my girlfriend in normal conversation.

He was furious and I knew I had better get to school and he drove me. I don't know what he said to me but I never pulled that again. But I still refused to do my work. I loved English! Yet...I refused to do my Romeo and Juliet assignment. I was leaning with my back to the wall, daydreaming when the teacher called on me. Obviously, I wasn't prepared and he asked me if I did the work and I smugly said "No!" and smiled. That girl was not the real me. I would never in a million years have done those rude, selfish and inconsiderate things, but I was hurting...really hurting.

But then...a nice thing started to happen. I started having nice conversations with my aunt and uncle. They actually talked with me. My aunt and I could talk for hours and she always listened. So we were finally bonding. I had fun talking with her and she listened and gave sound advice. She was funny and the most sarcastic person I ever met. I would say that was a definite flaw but everything else was awesome about her. She really took to having me around. She was never able to have her own children and so she became attached to me but that is a story for another time.

My uncle always made me feel safe because he was one of these guys that was always fixing things and taking care of whatever needed to be done. He took good care of his family. he was an anchor that I as a young girl needed very much. They both were.

I also made friends but one friend in particular. Her name was Pat T. I started doing sleep overs at her house on weekends. My aunt and uncle were happy that i had this friendship and they liked Pat.

I was still rip roaring mad at my mother. I still very much wanted to go back home even though my life was so much better up here. And even though things were going well between my aunt and uncle and me...a part of me still felt like I didn't belong and even a little guilty for being there because I wasn't their daughter and maybe they could be doing something else.

I was so brokenhearted and every night I would pray to God asking him to help me to be able to go back home. And I would cry myself to sleep every night. I was really taking this hard. Even though it seemed I was acclimating and I was to a degree...I just felt like I didn't belong.

I didn't think this back then...but as I have been thinking about this lately...I am thinking that my grief wasn't just about having to leave my house at the shore, but it must've been subconsciously tied into my other losses that happened as a young girl. It makes sense anyway.

I have never in my entire life felt as sad as I did back then. I wonder if it wasn't also a matter of the little girl inside me was grieving being pulled from her father and then his later abandoning me, the loss of both grandparents and I was there when they died, loss of what had been a normal and cozy home life when grandparents were alive, and even what felt like betrayal from my mother with being sent away, banished for being a bad girl and then also the loss of my friends and all that was familiar to me.

I just think it was more than I could bare and is why I grieved so. My aunt and uncle probably heard me cry but I never told anyone how sad I was.

Then one weekend in February...I asked my uncle if he could bring me back down to the shore...just for a weekend and let me stay with my mother. He said no. My mother was staying down there until summer when she would put the house up for sale and so it seemed perfectly logical that I should be able to visit. But he was firm about his answer. We had a huge fight. Huge!

I didn't talk to him... except for one word answers when spoken too, for that entire week.

Next post will be about the APB

Friday, March 7, 2008


Happiness keeps You Sweet,
Trials keep You Strong,
Sorrows keep You Human,
Life keeps You Humble,
Success keeps You Going
But Only
God keeps You Glowing.

~Author Unknown~

A couple of commenters to my previous post said that I had grown up to be a good person in spite of the things that happened in my past. I tried to answer in the comments why I thought that was.

I then opened my e-mail to find the above paragraph at the end of the nice e-mail that was sent to me and am putting it up here because it ties in with what I was trying to say to them.

Thanks again sweet blogging friends. :)

APB on SeaSpray -Background First (Part I)

This is a personal story about me when I was a young girl. I am giving some background on my life back then to set the tone for why I did what I will talk about in my next post. I am not talking about this to complain. It is just a story...part of my story. This is probably where I learned compassion. It is why I don't judge people or try not to anyway. I know bad things can happen to good people. I came from a hard working middle class family. If they knew these things were happening they would have intervened much sooner.

It is also why I have such a rescuing and nurturing spirit. I know what it is like to be rescued by someone. I know how good it feels when someone else believes in you when you no longer believe in yourself. And I know how good it feels to know someone isn't giving up on you but sticks with you through thick and thin. It is probably why my husband has often in exasperation said, " CAN'T save the WORLD!" If you want SeaSpray's attention...let her know you need help. :)

The inspiration for this post came from a post over at Jenster's Musings in which she tells a story of how when she was a teenager on vacation, she and her girlfriends went off in a boat with boys they didn't know. She's such a good story teller and had me chuckling throughout the story. :)

Except for possibly a couple of parts, my story isn't funny. It's about the desperation of a brokenhearted teenager. What is the point in telling it? Hmmm...maybe to demonstrate that we should never underestimate the determination of a teenager if they are feeling desperate. And maybe to demonstrate that even though we are brokenhearted and want things to work out our way...that maybe our way isn't the best way. And maybe to demonstrate that some prayers are better answered with a NO... which is really a blessing in disguise. is the APB story about myself that influenced my decision about what to do regarding our older son when at 17 he was determined to do something we did not approve of.

When I was 14, my mother could no longer afford to keep me. We also didn't get along for various reasons. I had to grow up fast and often felt like I was parenting her. She was/is a good person but at that time just did not have the coping skills or finances to raise a least not me.

She and her brother had taken me and left my father when I was 3 and moved in with my maternal grandparents at the Jersey Shore. He never sent support. I only saw him twice after we left. I think the last time I saw him I was 6 and he took me to the Bronx zoo in NY. If I told you what I as an adult learned about my father you would think I was making it up.

We had a normal family life while they were still alive. Then my Grandfather died when I was 9 and my grandmother died when I was 10. I had a wonderful relationship with my mother but that deteriorated quickly between 12 and 14. She didn't drink, do drugs or run around with men. She worked hard in a donut place and John's bargain store, but didn't make enough money to pay the bills. So we went through periods of no heat, electric or food. She could have applied for welfare. I don't know why she didn't. I think it was false pride because she used to say negative things about a woman who was on welfare. That woman and her kids were warm and fed. I think the family next door to us must've figured something was wrong because they would occasionally send food over. They were Italian and boy could they cook! They had a daughter I was friends with and I never discussed my home life with her either.

My mother also never told her brothers how bad things were. I never told any friends. I lived in quiet desperation. I don't know why. Maybe I was embarrassed but I never told a soul. I didn't even tell my best friend about those years until I was 27 and then she didn't believe me and thought I was kidding. Then as I kept telling her different things she finally believed me. she told me her mother was shocked too. THAT'S how good I am at keeping secrets.

My Mother must've confided in one friend because the winter I was 13 she had me staying with a friend and her family at night. My mother and I had this love hate relationship. But after she left the friend's house, I would run to their bay window with my nose practically pressed up against the glass to watch her walk away from us into the cold and often snowy night. I'd watch until she disappeared into the darkness. My heart always felt ripped out. I felt so sorry for her having to go back to that cold empty house. She would try to heat it with the gas stove with a pan of water in it. I worried about her walking alone in the dark. And...I felt guilty...that I would be warm and have food. I wanted to cry every time but I never did. None of us ever discussed it.

I was friends with the kids in the house and none of us ever discussed my home life...but they must've known. I was friends with the girls and had a huge crush on their then 17 year old brother-Tony. Actually, when I was12, he gave me my first kiss while down in their basement watching Star Trek. So we had lot's of kissing time while I stayed there. But no one ever knew. And that's all it was. I made sure my clothes stayed on. And it felt so good to me. I loved being held. I think to say I needed my dad at this time of my life is an understatement. I used to wish their father was my father. Or that some man would marry my mother and we would all live happily ever after. But that never happened.

I never invited friends in. I always went out. I would try to do things...even put wild flowers on the table in the spring. I painted the living room and bedroom by myself. But my mother didn't seem to care and she spent a lot of time in her room with the door closed when she wasn't working. So we grew apart even more. And we'd fight. I remember I would try to tell her how to handle money or what to do. We'd fight more. I am sure now it wasn't as black and white as I saw it back then. She would threaten to send me to live with her brother but never called him. I realize as an adult now...that she was probably depressed and still grieving over her parents, scared, confused, and was doing the best she knew to do.

But I didn't understand any of that back then. I began spending more and more time out of the house. Anywhere... but not home. I always felt like the girl on the outside looking in and everyone seemed to have perfect lives. By the time I was 13, I began hanging out at a bowling alley. I would even walk 3 miles in the dark to get there sometimes. And...I started hanging out with older boys who were 17, 18, 19 and into their 27. I would even ride around with them. I was so trusting and naive.

I used to hang out with this older couple who owned the snack bar at the bowling alley. They were so nice to me and would give me free food and I would clean things for them. One night I was standing high on something to wipe down the top of their sign. When I turned around...I realized all the guys who were in the arcade part were watching me and smiling. I loved the attention. Like I said...I was so naive. I let some of them take me to the movies and my mother never knew because she worked until 2 in the morning. I was headed for trouble for sure. I KNOW I kept my guardian angel busy!

I remember a guy-Skip (also in his 20s) who managed the bowling alley said something to me out of the blue. I realize as an adult that he was trying to warn me to be careful because he probably heard the guys talking. He said, "Just don't miss what you never had." I said o.k., but I didn't know what he was talking about.

And not long after that someone else took it upon them self to give me advice. I had a huge crush on him. He was 21! (I was 14) Gary De Noia. I used to write my name with his last name when I was in school. I ran into him at the drugstore and we were sitting at the soda fountain. (Anyone remember them?) We're sipping our sodas and out of the blue he says "Remember...a guy only wants to marry a virgin." I agreed with him and I really did believe in being a virgin although at that time I thought the double standard was ok. That was the fall of 1969. He was so good looking! But I think at that time he saw me more like a kid sister. So I went out with his brother Glen. Anyway, he must've been worried about me and understandably so...but I was clueless. Gary went to Vietnam after I moved up here and the following summer I sent him some pictures that were taken of me on the beach. He wrote back and told me that his buddies liked the pictures too and that he had them pinned up. I regret that I misplaced his letters..they would be neat to have today. But I digress.

In 1969, Tony went into the army and was stationed at Fort Dix which wasn't far from where we lived. He came home on weekends and brought Brian home with him. Brian and I hit it off and so we became a weekend couple. He looked so handsome in his uniform. He taught me how to slow dance to Strangers in the Night. He was always so respectful and never tried anything beyond kissing. I lost his letters too. :(

You know what else I realize? That I was usually "the only" girl hanging out with all these guys at the bowling alley. That's because they were home with their families at night. I had girlfriends too, but that was a different part of my life.

My summers were pretty wholesome because I spent a lot of time with my summer friend who is still my close friend today. Her father was a father figure to me and Iris and I were inseparable like 2 peas in a pod, until she left to go home in the fall. She and I used to wave good bye until their car disappeared over the bridge at the end of the road. Her parents included me in everything and I believe the 3 of them profoundly influenced my life. Who knows what would've happened to me if it wasn't for them treating me like a second daughter. I never told them about my home life either. Iris was the friend that didn't believe me when I told her these things when I was 27. I can hide a lot behind my smile.

One of my 8th grade teachers commented that I was always smiling. If he only knew. Ha! Last week one of urodoc's partners saw me and commented on my smiling. That's just me, my nature I guess.

I had always wanted to be a teacher and believed I was going to be a teacher. Everyone did. But this was the time in my life that I lost my focus. I began skipping school when I was a freshman. I wasn't doing my homework. That was sooooo opposite who I was. I had ALWAYS gotten good grades until my freshman year.

I was actually a good girl. I was a nice girl. I didn't do any drugs or drink alcohol. I didn't swear and was always kind and respectful to everyone...except my mother, but I never swore at her either. And I was honest. I didn't steal. Oh and I wore hardly any make up...only a pale lipstick - sometimes and mascara...sometimes. So I wasn't at all trashy or trampy looking. More like the girl next door.

I did have a strong faith in God. I learned about God when I was 9 years old from a retired school teacher and briefly went to church. I really absorbed what was taught to me. No one in my life ever talked about God or Christian values, except this woman and my friend Iris and her mother. THANKFULLY those seeds got in there and took root. I truly believe that having that little bit of faith and Christian values instilled in me along with the good values my family taught me as a young girl is what kept me from falling into all that other stuff. That retired school teacher...Mrs Berry is most definitely one of the key people in my life who influenced it for the better. She continued to write to me up here until she died...always trying to impart more faith into me. I will always be grateful to her for that. I do still have some of her letters. And maybe it was also because I had gotten so independent that I always could think for myself and so never felt compelled to follow the crowd because I needed to be popular.

But that fall I started shoplifting. I honestly didn't want to and I never told anyone. I was actually ashamed and felt very guilty. But..I was desperate and so on 2 different nights I stole some pants and tops. (After I moved in with my aunt and uncle...she later told me she felt sorry for me because I came up with so little clothing) I really did need the clothes and I didn't know what else to do at that time. Then I decided to do it one more time while in 2 Guys. Store detective caught me. She followed me to my mothers car and she then had to come back in with us. My mother was devastated and I can still hear her say, "Ohhhh PATTY!" She looked so sad. I was sorry, afraid and so ashamed. I was also banned from the store forever.

There was one night it was so cold and there was no heat or electric and so we were sleeping in the living room trying to stay warm by the kitchen stove. There was one piece of bread left. Wonder bread. I asked my mother if she wanted to split it but she said she wasn't hungry and that I should eat it. So I did. I felt guilty about that too.

It was now early December of 69. I came home one Saturday afternoon from the bowling alley. There were some Christmas presents there. My mother said that my aunt and uncle had come down unexpectedly and brought us some Christmas presents. They were shocked at how we were living and upset with my mother for not calling.

Plans were made for them to come pick me up on New Year's weekend 1970. I was devastated and really angry. I declared I wouldn't go. I was also scared.

I totally acted out that month. I drank alcohol for the 1st time. It was 2 beers. Even though it was winter we went to hang out on the boardwalk. Then we went down onto the beach. Then on a dare...I ran into the dark ice cold ocean with my clothes on. There was snow on the beach, no life guards and I could hardly see the water. I ran in up to my waste and it felt like extreme pins and needles. I ran right back out. For the first time...I didn't come home until 2 o'clock in the morning. My mother smelled the beer on my breath. She was furious. She had me backed up against the door. We had words and she smacked me across the face. I laughed (but it really hurt) and I said, "I love you but I don't respect you!" That is the worst thing I ever said to her. I am not proud of it, but by now I was lashing out.

A girlfriend gave me a spare key to her parents house on the beach. One night while hanging out with someone I thought was a friend, I told him I had the key and asked if he wanted to go see the beach house. Of course he agreed. It honestly didn't occur to me what he was actually thinking. I didn't see him that way at all. But I was naive. We went into the house. It was a little bungalow. When we got to one of the bedrooms he was all over me...but I managed to push him away. Then he started all over again in the living room but much more insistently. I was scared but acted mad. He had me up against the door and I kept fighting him. This was a deserted beach bungalow area and there was NO ONE around. Then he just stopped and got really pissed and shouted that I could walk home. He got in his Road Runner and peeled out. So now there I was a 14 year old girl all by myself in a deserted beach area at least 15 miles from home. I walked off the little lane onto the main road but there wasn't any car insight. I was scared. I started crying but kept walking. After a few minutes he came back and I got scared again. He stopped and rolled the window down and told me to get in but I refused. He stayed driving alongside of me and kept telling me to get in and that he wasn't leaving me there. But now I was also mad at him and so kept walking. But finally I got in. We didn't talk for the entire ride home, nor did we say good bye when he dropped me off. I also never told anyone what had happened and I have know idea if he did.

I begged my mother to let me stay. I cried. I prayed. We fought. It was a horrible month. I had a horrible home life but it was all I knew and I did not want to leave. It is difficult to uproot a teenager from their peers. I felt like my world was crashing in on me.

What I didn't understand at the time is how much love it took for my mother to let me go live with someone else. She must have felt relieved in one way, but it had to hurt her too. She did her best at the time. If I could go back, I would certainly do things differently.

I cringe when I think of this stuff. I was only FOURTEEN when the really bad things started happening. And I never had any kind of sex with any of those guys...THANK GOD! Clothes were always on both of us. But the way things were probably would've been just a matter of time. I might not have graduated and who knows? Maybe even worse things would have happened had I stayed there.

*I truly believe it is so very important for fathers to be role models for the kind of guy their daughter picks. They should hug and encourage their daughters and always let them know they are special and that they are loved. Then hopefully she won't go looking for love in all the wrong places and for the wrong reasons. I think my hanging out with the boys was my way of looking for my daddy's love and approval and filling the empty void. Of course they were cute too... but I think it was all intertwined.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Never Made That Mistake Again

An older gentlemen had an appointment to see the urologist who shared an office with several other doctors. The waiting room was filled with patients. As He approached the receptionist desk he noticed that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler.

He gave her his name.


All the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at the very embarrassed man. He recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice replied, "NO, I'VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE OPERATION, BUT I DON'T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID YOURS."

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Unfortunately...I did that to a patient once. Although...really...I did know better, but I was rushing because we were so busy. It is second nature for me to be discreet and protective of a patient's privacy or anyone else for that matter, but the ER was busy and the out patients were coming in one after the other.

Anyway, this was before OSHA standards were implemented for patient specimens. In our hospital we had to take them directly from the patients. Also, the doctors or their staff would drop them off by us too. These things weren't encased or wrapped in anything and we didn't wear gloves. But I digress.

So this well dressed man comes up to me at the counter and gives me his lab order. It was for a 24 hour urine. The waiting room was packed (right behind him and same room as registration) and there were people near him at the counter waiting for their turn. (pre HIPPA days too) Without taking the crowded area into consideration...I blurted out, "DO YOU HAVE YOUR 24 HOUR URINE WITH YOU?"

That poor man! I swear he shrank before my eyes and I could see he was mortified with embarrassment. He leaned closer to me over the counter and said in a real hushed voice, "I was hoping to do this quietly so no one would notice." I was instantly sorry for being so insensitive and I apologized. He then handed me the big brown container. He must've felt like all eyes were on him and the container at that point. At least he got to leave right after that.

From the staff perspective...if you've seen one specimen've seen a hundred. that one IS a big deal and sometimes they have to muster up the courage to come in to do these things in the first place. And so they don't need to be further embarrassed because of the staff's insensitivity.

It was a lesson I learned at his expense and I never made that mistake again.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Urology Homework Pays Off

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Imagine that you have done your urology homework and have taken every suggested opportunity to kegel and that you have become the rock star of kegelers.

Imagine that you are now having a vag exam with any given doctor...your OBGYN, URODOC, ER Doc, and I guess even your PCP. Oh the horror of THAT thought! I LOVE my PCP to pieces (haven't seen him in a year) but he ain't NEVER visiting south of the border...NEVER I tell you. That's because he's never been and so he's never gonna be. I've known him too long and he feels like more of a friend. I don't get nekkid for friends. Just not that kind of girl. ;)

Heh! Strangers welcome... even if they end up becoming familiar, but perish the thought of someone I've known 18 years suddenly having 1st time access to Bajingoland! I couldn't face him again. Might as well have a chuck placed over my face and let me leave the office with said chuck still over my head. I will say my good byes through the chuck...sadly ...never to return again. THAT is why my PCP can NEVER do a vag exam.

But I digress. you're in the Bajingoland position ready for the vag exam to be done by your OBGYN, URODOC , ER Doc or your PCP if that is who you are used to. Imagine the exam is now over and your Doc goes to remove the speculum like he has probably done thousands of times...BUT... you decide to hold onto the speculum just because you can...because you are now an ace kegeler. However, you don't tell the doc what you are doing. So...try as he may and try as she might...they can't remove it.

It would be fun to watch. But then as in any game of tug-of-war...there comes a moment of release when someone goes falling backward. Choose your moment... release and watch them fly back. Well maybe this would only be a good idea if they had beach sand for the exam room floor because we wouldn't want them to get hurt. Hmmm...beach sand in the exam there's an interesting concept...complete with palm tree and cabana boy. ;) I know...digressing again.

Another scenario ...never release the speculum. Maintain that kegel grip but smile sweetly and effortlessly like you don't have a care in the world. When the doc comes back into exam room with one of the partners to have them try to remove it...just release at the first gentle pull like nothing ever happened. Then tell the docs that 1st doc must've loosened it. ;)

I adore my docs and would never do anything to hurt or humiliate them, but still...the competitive, teasing side of my nature is giggling over this one. Ya can't blame a girl for wanting to have a little fun! ;)