Tag Archives: love

The Traveling Umbrella

My name is FiFi and I am a traveling umbrella.

I was born in a Totes factory 10 years ago. During that time I have traveled all over and have had many different owners, each with a different story.

When I came off the assembly line I was shipped to Macy’s with all the concomitant hopes of acquiring an upscale owner, preferably a liberal, since it was Manhattan. I figured this human would realize my quality and take good care of me. But since I was not the only umbrella on the shelf, it took many months for someone to notice me and to fall in love. It was such a sad and nerve wracking time for me and I thought it would never happen. Each time I saw someone perusing the isle I wanted to jump up and say, “Pick Me, Pick Me”, but I guess that was impossible. I probably would’ve caused a heart attack or stroke if I had done that.

But one day, when I had given up hope of ever getting a home, a fine young man named David recognized my intrinsic value and glow on my face and said, “That’s the one!” I was literally (at least in my mind) jumping for joy. But the joy was short lived because he didn’t really love me, no—he was gong to give me away. Not even one hour after rescuing me, I found myself practically smothered in giftwrap. With a heavy heart, I knew I would have a new owner. I could only hope and pray that she was responsible and would properly care for me. A few days later, I had a new owner named Camille, David’s girlfriend. She seemed very pleased at the time and in the beginning took me with her anytime there was rain or even a threat.  But one day, while riding the subway, she left me on the seat. I tried to call out to her, “Wait, wait, you forgot me,” but she couldn’t hear my silent scream. Suddenly, and without warning, I was alone again—on the subway, no less, with all kinds of undesirables and that dirt.

I sat there silently crying when another miracle happened—just the right person sat down and, seeing nobody claiming me, came to my aide. His name was Mark and he was an investment banker. Wow, I thought, I hit the jackpot. Yes I was broken up about losing Camille, but this guy was wealthy and I definitely could live with that. I had visions of a penthouse on Central Park West, with a doorman and a nicely furnished, well organized closet for my home. But, unfortunately this guy was a total slob, and I was carelessly thrown into a plastic tub at the bottom of the closet.  I felt hopeless, not knowing how I would get out of this predicament. Was there a foundation that dealt with abused umbrellas—I didn’t think so—and how would I even let anyone know. But luck shined on me again, when my captor decided to clean out his closet and donate junk to Goodwill. Now, although I was glad he was doing this, I was insulted that I was being categorized as junk. Nevertheless, it was a blessing because within a few days, Sara, who was planning on moving to Augusta, GA, paid $4.00 for me. Granted, that was ridiculous for a fine Totes umbrella like me to be sold for so little, I was happy that I seemed to have acquired a new home. In addition, I would be leaving Manhattan where I could easily be left on the Subway. No subway in Augusta.

Within a week I was in a nice warm climate, with my new owner. Her house was lovely and, for the first time in a while, I felt content. She usually kept me in her car for those sudden downpours. I was beginning to feel settled and, dare I say, relaxed, when she visited her favorite coffee spot, Starbucks. It happened to be raining that day and for some reason I felt uneasy. I knew it was predicted as intermittent showers so there was the risk of forgetting me if it became sunny. My fear came to fruition when one day, she left me on the seat. I was bereft and felt my life was over. Someone put me in the newspaper rack where I sat, feeling abandoned and alone, for weeks. I began to see a woman every day and I telepathically pleaded with her to please adopt me. So one day, Marilyn who had gotten my message, realized that nobody was going to claim me, and being the brash New Yorker that she is, took me home. That was three years ago, and we have been through so much. She is not perfect, but she loves me. She keeps me in her car and takes me into the gym periodically. The problem with her is that she has “lost” me so many times I cannot count, but somehow always finds me. It seems that we are meant for each other and maybe, just maybe, I have finally found my forever home.

Jane – A tribute

Dear Jane,

It is Friday night and I keep thinking I’m going to pick up the phone and give you a call. You are one of the only people who understand about my son’s difficulties because you have been through it too. You are my go-to person for life’s injustices, life’s tragedies, life’s funny moments and I can talk to you about anything on earth and you to me. I’ve been there through all your hospitalizations, through your difficulties with your family, and you have been there for me in kind. Yesterday I pulled out my old wedding album so I could remember you as the maid of honor, happy, young, and vibrant. It is so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I will not see you again, except in Heaven, God willing.

We were good friends when we were teens up until our thirties but, as life took us in different directions, we somehow lost contact. We reconnected and again lost contact—this time I was sure our friendship had run it’s course. But one day, out of the blue, you called me and as if no time had passed at all, our bond was still strong and became stronger in the years that followed. I have shared so much of my travails about my child, my inexplicable crippling illness and subsequent recovery upon discovery of the cause (a benign spinal tumor), my ups and downs with my son, and everything in between. Sometimes I would call you and we’d have a marathon talking session about everything, including movies, Stuyvesant Town, old shows, friends, medical issues, family, politics—-you name it, we talked about it. You have been one of my greatest support systems and I feel that I filled that role for you too. I honestly don’t know what I am going to do without you.

To say I was shocked to learn of you passing was the understatement of the year. The last time I spoke with you, you said, “Call me anytime.” So, last Friday night I called to get my weekly dose of love, friendship, laughter, and wisdom from you. When you didn’t pick up I left a message. Three days later I called again, and again, and again, for days and days. At first I was annoyed, then I thought that maybe you were in the hospital again, although you had been doing very well lately. Everything seemed under control with your MS, which was in remission, and your diabetes, which didn’t seem to be an issue. I had no reason to believe that a tragedy had occurred. In my heart of hearts I was frightened and would not even entertain the idea that you had passed away. It was unfathomable to me so I dismissed it for days. But, yesterday something told me to call your brother’s number, which you had given me a few years back just in case. When I spoke with your sister in law, and she said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but Jane passed away”, it felt like there was an explosion in my chest, and a punch to my gut—then the tears and disbelief came.

Jane, you had a very hard life, and a lonely existence up in Lockport, with no real support system. But you became a strong advocate for yourself and still managed to accept some of the seemingly unfair blows life dealt you with characteristic grace and dignity. About a year ago you said you were sitting on the couch watching TV when you saw your mom in the dining area. I asked if you were asleep and you said, “No, that was her.” I asked if you were scared at all and you said, “No.” I believe that your mom appeared to let you know you were loved and she was waiting for you to come over soon. I do not know the exact cause of your demise, but I suspect that it was peaceful, in your sleep. Although I am grieving this loss, I am happy for you at the same time, because at long last you are loved in a way you were not in this physical life. You are, as I write this, in God’s loving arms and with your mom. Your body is healed from your MS and you have no more physical or emotional pain—nobody can hurt you now. You are walking, running and laughing freely and finally at peace. I know you are looking down on me now and thinking of all we shared and how we could sometimes find humor in the strangest places. I prayed to God last night that you appear in my dreams to let me know you are indeed OK. But, I somehow know that you are. Sweet dreams in eternity. You will never be forgotten. Godspeed. Call me anytime!

Love Marilyn

Haunting Melody

It’s funny how a song that you haven’t heard since you were a teenager, can suddenly bring you back to a moment in time, good or bad. A while back, I was in Starbucks and I heard a haunting melody that sounded familiar. Upon listening more closely, I realized what I was hearing and I was suddenly transported back in time to the age of 16.

When I was a kid, my friends Janet, Mark, and Billy met the charismatic Richie M. hanging around Playground 12 in Stuyvesant Town. He had two friends, Pat and Tommy and the 6 of us somehow formed a sort of click. Richie was very tall (6’ 3”) and good looking, had dark hair and wore glasses. Conversely, his sidekick and best friend, Tommy was very short, had a pug nose, a big mouth, funny teeth, and was in general not very attractive, although he was a really nice guy who we all loved. I think they had a symbiotic relationship and he lived vicariously through Richie. It was such a contrast—kind of like Mutt and Jeff. But more than Richie’s appearance was his personality—he just had that special “something” that attracted people, mostly girls. The group eventually grew to include others, the sisters who Janet and I privately referred to as “The Bozo Girls” because of their bushy red hair, and a number of other peripherals who came and went. But there was no question who the leader was and that was Richie. I was a total innocent at that time, a good girl, and had never even had a boyfriend. So, naturally I was flattered that the fabulous Richie wanted to hang with us. At first, we were all platonic, but as always happens with males and females, sex gets into the mix. Every other day, it seemed that Richie had a new adoring girl on his arm and I just assumed that I was not “worthy” of Richie’s greatness—I had to be content to worship him on the sidelines like everyone else. So, one would think that since I was lacking a boyfriend, I would jump at the chance when asked to “go out” with someone. But I guess I was still selective, even at that stage in my life. One day, Tommy asked me out and I said I’d think about it—not a good sign. I remember going home and weighing the pros and cons: Pros-He had a part time job at a theater on Broadway and could get me into shows. He made some pretty good money, even at age 17 and could treat me. Cons: I just could not for the life of me picture myself remotely kissing him and unfortunately, that kind of goes with being somebody’s “girlfriend.” The next day I gave him my answer, “NO” and then said those dreaded words that nobody wants to hear, “But we can be friends.”

Then out of the blue, the next day, and unexpectedly for me, Richie asked me out. My answer was an immediate YES, YES! I remember being so shocked but feeling like I had reached the mountaintop and felt “on top of the world.” I literally looked in back of me to see who he was really talking to—it could not be me, of course. But it was and I drifted on top of a cloud when I went home that night and almost had to pinch myself to see if I was indeed awake. Of course, I had no idea what it even meant to be a girlfriend of anyone, let alone a girlfriend of the most sought after boy in Stuyvesant Town. I felt remotely guilty about turning Tommy down the day before, but the guilt didn’t last very long.

Since we lived near the East Village (of Greenwich Village), we would sometimes go over to a discotheque called the Electric Circus, which catered to the younger crowd because they did not serve liquor. One night I remember scrounging around to get the $4 admission fee and we arrived with Richie leading the way. We were all dancing together as a group, and having a great time while colorful amoebas splashed over the walls accompanied by the rhythmic psychedelic music of that time. Suddenly, a slow song came on, and Richie asked me to dance. The name of the song was, “I love you more than you’ll ever know” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. I almost fell into a trance and for the duration of that song it felt as if there were only two people on the dance floor and in the world. Since he was so tall, I hung onto his waist, with my head leaning against his warm chest, feeling his heart beating, and was only aware of that haunting song and the flashing psychedelic lights across the ceiling and walls. At that moment, I loved him with all my heart and soul, just like the words of that song. Richie was indeed my first love, and my first broken heart because unfortunately that moment in time did not last. But for that night, my dreams came true.

Guilt and Love

I have come to the realization that no matter what I do, no matter how much money I send, it will not be enough. Kind of like alcohol for the alcoholic, there is never enough. But last weekend something came to me, something that my friends had told me for quite some time, something that I knew in my heart of hearts—that I just could not keep giving him money above and beyond what we agreed to. Initially, it started out with $100 a month, but that was not enough. Then his dad agreed to $200 a month to be doled out incrementally by me as I saw fit. Of course I would have saved money by giving him large chunks at once, but I knew the money would be gone within a week or two. However, it is usually gone by early in the month anyway, then the incessant, relentless, phone calls start—multiple in one day. Then last weekend I just stopped taking my boy’s calls, not listening to his messages, and deleted them. This has been very difficult to do this, but I know that the minute I listen to him or hear a phone message, my resolve will crumble. In speaking with my wise friend, Janet, she made a good analogy. When I told her that my giving him money relieves the fear, guilt, and anxiety. She said giving him money is like an addiction; the anxiety and apprehension build up and is relieved only when I send him the money he requests. It is a tremendous relief, and I feel better temporarily, but it starts to build again, and the only relief is when I send him money again. Although there is an overwhelming sense of relief, I also have a sense of tremendous resentment, which equals anger. Then the cycle starts again, over and over. Just like an addiction, I needed to just stop this cycle because it is no good for him because he will never get the help he needs and no good for me because I am continually being drawn into his chaotic world. It is a symbiotic, sick relationship. I have to be strong, and I pray to God that this is the right call and will not result in a tragedy because I will never forgive myself. I just have to trust in the Lord that He knows what I don’t and will some day lead my son out of this never-ending maze to a better life.

Tormentor

It is Sunday, and I am at West Town Community Church acquiring some much needed serenity when as usual and predictably, I hear my muted phone vibrate. I hear that there has been a voice message, and without even looking at the phone a sense of weariness and hopelessness descends upon me, blotting out any peacefulness I might feel. I breathe a quiet sigh, since I am now in a meeting about a VBS trip to Jamaica, and silently check the phone number, hoping that somehow it is not my tormentor. But, it is and I barely hear the remainder of the meeting because I am totally distracted. I greet other church attendees smiling and answering, “I’m good today” when asked how I am, all the while knowing that if I actually said how I really feel, their eyes would glaze over and they would politely drift away to speak to someone more cheerful. I am invited to lunch downtown and decline because I am so sick, tired, and troubled that I just cannot focus. I remind myself that we are keeping him alive and at least he is not living in the street, sleeping in a box, and robbing houses to survive. I remind myself that he is much better off now than 3 years ago, but is he really? When does “assisting” equal “enabling?” We have created a “monster” regarding his incessant requests for money. If he put just one once of the tenacity he exhibits in calling over and over and over for money into getting the right treatment and medication, and just doing the right thing, he might actually stand a chance of having something more than a day to day existence. He has absolutely no self-knowledge or insight into the possibility that his line of thinking is totally skewed. I have come to the realization that he will never be OK and that no amount of money will ever be enough because we are just putting a Bandaid on a gaping wound. He will continue to slowing leak blood, even when we think that we have “solved” the problem. He plays “mind games” by asking for a small amount one day, and after you send it he suddenly says that he is about to be evicted, as if he didn’t know this the day before. After screaming myself horse in the car, I arrive at my second home to send him the money that I don’t have to spare in my account. Then he doesn’t call back. No matter what I say to him, he has selective hearing and gives me lip service, saying he understands that he cannot call every few days for money. Yet, two or three days go by and that infamous 609 area code comes up. When I don’t answer the phone, he mounts a concerted campaign, bombarding me with phone call after call, playing the “guilt” card. I cannot continue living like this—being held in emotional captivity by my tormentor. There are days that I want to just let him be evicted and live in the street again. I am tormented by my tormentor because I both love and hate him simultaneously. I love him intensely yet I HATE what he does to my peace and serenity and can’t help resent him. I live in either love, hate, or guilt, never in tranquility because I know that there will never be an end to this until one of us dies.