Tuesday, September 20, 2016

First Week In Virginia

It's been good!

Hanging with Tom.  Going through stuff that's here.  Spending time with myself.

And - bonus - I found an old pair of glasses!  I still haven't done anything about the glasses I lost in July.  It was the Monday before Frank passed.  Replacing them dropped so far down the list.  There was a time before I had to stop working that I got a new pair every year.  I had great insurance - thanks Bette - and I just never thought not to.  Then one year I had to switch to bifocals and this pair went in a box.  Cause you know I never throw anything away.  Or at least that used to be the case.  I have had to get more ruthless with that.  Anyway, I was sorting through boxes, looking for stuff to throw away and I found these.  They are not bifocals and they are at least 8 years old.  But I can see distance and go to the movies again!

Tom made fun of the frames, but I assured him that they would have been the height of fashion at the time because Bette picked them out.  I clearly remember stopping at the place in Pembroke with her on our way to Thursday night dinner.  And that gave Tom pause because Bette is always "put together" as opposed to his "thrown together" mother.

I've got another week here.  But I am not sure much more will be accomplished.  Last night was my 8th (out of 14) night on Pomalyst.  It's effect build, so as the 2nd week progresses it's more naps and laying around.  But I'll still spend it with Tom!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I Guess I Am Full

So full of grief and tears, that I can't tamp it down any more.

Everyday there is something new.  One day it's little Frankie finding a book in a box in my bedroom that Frank bought on how to be a better father.  Another day it's realizing that I have to take Frank's name off of my health care proxy.

And God help the person who aggravates me!

Is it because all the heavy lifting is done?  Making sure the right people knew.  Planning the celebration of life.  Listening to all those people who wanted to talk about Frank.  Taking care of his affairs and possessions.

All that's left is time to think.

Whatever it is, I knew I had to leave Boston.  I needed the opposite of the theme from "Cheers".  I needed a place where nobody knows my name.  So I jumped on line and used all my Amtrak credits to arrange a train out of Boston, down to Staunton.  I need days to sleep and cry without worrying who can hear me and who I might upset.  And I need to make Tommy dinner and listen to what he has to say.

And considering how close I am to smacking the two old people behind me here on Amtrak train 65, I can't get to my hidey-hole in the Shenandoah Valley fast enough. They boarded somewhere in Rhode Island and haven't shut up since.  At one point when I was trying to sleep (I brought pillows), she began reading him news stories off of the Internet.  It was 1:30 in the friggin' morning! And apparently the two foot rests provided at her seat were not to her liking because I looked down at my arm rest (that I had wiped down with antibacterial wipes) and saw her dirty shoe!  I quietly said "For Heaven's Sake" and she pulled it away.  He just whines "Why is the train stopped?" and "The train is moving so fast I can't stir my hot cocoa!"

Thursday, my new least favorite day of the week was also Infusion Day.  I got up early so I could vote - it was Primary Day here in Massachusetts.  Packed.  I don't really need to transport stuff between Boston & Virginia, but I had some stuff I was going to ship down, so I figured I'd put it in suitcases and check them and save the shipping costs on some stuff at least.  Anyway, then it was off to Tufts.  I had my gadgets & a magazine and snacks and water and lunch.  I was prepared. After entering the main lobby, I walked over to a bench to pull my stuff together.  Hitch up my shorts, put my Charlie Card away, sling my backpack.....and I sensed someone moving into my personal space.  A woman about my age asking where her purse was. I told her it wasn't here.  She gestured to my bags and said she left it right there.  I said well it's gone now and I pointed out a guy in uniform "Go talk to that guy."  Then she became a little more insistent telling me she put her purse right there before going into the Au Bon Pain next to us.  "You left your bag and walked away?  That was stupid." Meanwhile, I am proceeding with what I am doing, gathering my stuff.  "Can I look in your bag?"  My head snaps up "No, you can not look in my bag, now get the hell away from me!"  She turns to the guy in the blue uniform (hospital security, BPD, I don't know I haven't replaced my lost glasses) and he turns to walk away. She looks at me surprised "You won't let me look in your bag?"  I just walked away.  I felt good, like I had opened a valve and let a little pressure bleed off when I told her to get the hell away from me.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Made It Through Thursday

I don't know how, but I did.

4 weeks.  28 days.  I think I will hate Thursdays for the rest of my life.

All day some part of my brain has been screaming FOUR WEEKS AGO.

But I kept pushing it away because little Frankie has been here since Wednesday evening.

I told someone today that I am still not entirely sure it happened.  Maybe four weeks ago I had a break with reality.  Maybe it was five minutes ago.  Maybe Frank is fine and I am locked up somewhere.

This can't be my life.  People are too stupid.  People are saying the most astonishing things to me.  I go through this a little with the cancer.  People find out I have cancer and they tell me about theirs or their spouse/sibling/wife's nephew's stepmother.  And now people try to tell me about someone in their life struggling with addiction.  Or someone they lost to addiction.

Most of them mean it as a comfort. And it is.

But some want some kind of answer and I want to scream "If I had an answer, my kid wouldn't be DEAD!"

But the most ridiculous one yet was someone who proudly told me that they had not spoken to their addicted loved one in years. What?  I understand that you can't enable.  But you don't withhold your love, your caring, your very presence.  If there is one clear lesson to be learned from Frank and I, it's that you always make sure your children know you love them.  No matter what the circumstances.  You never know.  You could be in my shoes at any minute, for any reason.  I don't understand how this person didn't see my horror.  How it didn't freeze them in their tracks.

So now I work my way through until the next Thursday.  Or not.  Maybe I am sitting in a Geri chair waiting for more meds mashed up in applesauce.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

My Son Frank Has Been Dead For A Week

How bizarre to type those words and not wail like a banshee.  I can see the screen because while I "leak" nearly constantly, I can pretty much hold it together.  Why?  Because there was nothing left unsaid between Frank and I.  There are no regrets and no guilt.  My son knew I had his back.  Would we fight like cats and dogs over certain life decisions?  You bet.  But I backed his every play.  Same as Tom his older brother.  Same as Danny & Bill his brothers from other mothers (who coincidentally turned out to be women I loved, Patty & Christine).

Last Thursday, July 28th around noon, Francis Xavier Miller, Sr. lost his battle with addiction.  I sat in Bay 15 of the South Shore Hospital ER and whispered in his ear that I wasn't leaving him, just passing him over to Mama Kelley his beloved great-grandmother (my grandmother) and Grandma Marie his loved and missed grandmother (John's mother).  And that I knew there were plenty of friends lost too early to the same insidious addiction to load up the roster for a wiffle ball game where he was going.  I pulled Frank's left arm out from under the sheet and rested my hand in his.  Between the weight of his hand and his fingers being slightly curled, I felt just like he was holding my hand.

Frankie wasn't my plan.  He was the result of a hard fought campaign by his brother Tommy, with support from my sister Grace and my ex-husband John.  I thought just one was just fine.  I used to joke that children aren't like Lays potato chips, you could have just one.  But Tommy didn't appreciate being the only - only child in the neighborhood.  And Grace was ready to have a boy, so that with her daughter Deb (my goddaughter) she would have the matching salt-n-pepper shaker set.  The final battle was pitched at my birthday party in 1987.

Frankie was born January 21, 1988.  At the end of a ridiculously short labor during which I acted like it was the scene from Aliens where the alien eats it's way out of Kane, there was Frankie.  Dr. Grady asked "It's a boy, what's his name?"  I replied "Francis Xavier" and Dr. Grady repeated that and said it reminded him of a priest or a crooked politician.  Well we all know which way that ball bounced.

Frankie was handsome, so was Tommy, but while Tommy was the spit of his father, Frankie had my coloring.  And he was so friendly and adventurous.  When he was three he was in love with Cindy Crawford.  I remember him dashing from the bathroom, foaming at the mouth in mid tooth brushing session at the sound of her Pepsi commercial.  She was his girlfriend.   When someone pointed out that Cindy Crawford didn't know him, he replied "But if she knew me, she'd love me."  Such confidence.  At the time Crawford was married to Richard Gere and they were building a house in Duxbury.  We were afraid someone would tell Frankie and he would set off up  Route 3A to steal her away from Gere.

People kiddingly called him "The Mayor of Rocky Nook".  Like Red Rizzo, he knew everyone and everyone knew him.  He took it seriously, not in a power kind of way, but in a responsibility kind of way.  People asked him favors and he always tried to help them.  When there was a beach association task, he never questioned going and doing his part.  But most of all, he believed in "Everbody plays or nobody plays."  Frankie didn't allow other kids to be left on the sidelines.  And that never changed.  During this last week, people have called and texted and sent Facebook messages telling me how Frank did this that and the other thing for them.  Always things he didn't have to do but did anyway with a smile.

I have never been ashamed of Frankie and his fight with addiction.  Frustrated?  Bewildered?  Helpless?  Oh yes!  Frank had a hard time getting sober because he had a hard time giving over power.  He would go down many paths and say "This will work, I'll just change this."  or "I'll just do this step before that step."  But finally he found the right path and surrendered himself.  The last two years he was largely successful.  Unfortunately, with addiction, you are never free, you are never fixed or cured.  Sometimes the best you can hope for is longer periods of sobriety and shorter falls off the path.

The part that was hardest for me to accept was the fact that your recovery includes going back and pulling others up and out with you.  But Frank embraced that.  And now I see clearly - OF COURSE HE DID, lol!  It was the adult version of "Everybody plays or nobody plays."

Frank wasn't some mythic figure.  He stumbled.  He hurt people.  And he wasn't universally loved.  There were people who disliked or resented Frank for one reason or another.  Not the least of which was his struggle with addiction.  There were people who turned away from him.

But Frank forgave everyone.  I used to joke that Frank was sadly born without the gene that allowed a person to hold a grudge.


This isn't the best pic of either Frankie, Senior or Junior.  But it's recent and it was a happy and fun day.  Bunker Hill Day, 2016, at the parade in Charlestown.

Sadly, my much loved son is in the building you can see over his left shoulder.  Carr's Funeral Home.

Monday, July 04, 2016

July 4, 1976

Some of you think this will be a post about our country's Bicentennial.  Which was a grand time in Boston.

But it's not.

It's about a far away place - Entebbe, Uganda.

I've admitted dozens of times in this blog, that I was a bit of nerd.  That from high school on I read both of Boston's big dailies, the "Globe" and the "Herald American" as it was known at the time.  In the general frenzy leading up to Boston's celebrations and the Nation's celebrations, there was another news story.

Terrorists had hijacked an Air France plane to supposedly exchange passengers for some other imprisoned terrorists.  To be honest, at the time I took them at their word.  But now, older and more cynical, I think the point was just to kill Jews.  This is not to say I ever in my life sympathized with Palestinians.  However, I did at the time think they were reasonable enough to be negotiated with.  People younger than me or with shorter memories may not realize that other planes got hijacked.  Other hostages were taken.  And police or governments worked it out.  People took planes to get to Cuba or for ransom.  At the time, to me, there seemed no reason to think this would be handled that way.

This was a mere four years after Munich and in my mind, the Germans had messed that up out of arrogance.  There was strife and fighting all over the world.  Northern Ireland was in a perpetual state of unrest.  Just a few months before Palestinians had hijacked this plane, some crazy group had bombed a courthouse in Boston

So back to Entebbe and the hijacked plane which by the 3rd of July had had all of it's non-Jewish passengers separated and released.  The crew however, wouldn't leave and I have the greatest admiration for them.

Being more wise in these matters than a 15 year old reading along in Boston newspapers, the Israelis knew there was no reasoning with the hostage takers.  People can say till they're blue in the face that Palestinian terrorists are "nationalists".  Whatever.  First and foremost they are followers of Islam.  The Jewish State of Israel had been dealing with them for ages.  They knew that when a follower of Islam takes up arms and tells the world their grievances, it's just a cover.  Whether it's "Black September" or the "PLO" or "ISIS" or "Al Qaeda", you can't "understand" them, you can't "reason" with them. A wise man once told us that "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it eats him last".

The Israelis sent their own people into Uganda just before midnight July 3rd.  But with the time difference of 7 hours, it all happened in time to be front page news for America's birthday!

Truth be told, that was the highlight of my day.  The rightness of it.  The justice of it.  And now I know the wisdom of it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Don't Get It...

....why aren't there more arrests?

Today in Sacramento a group of Americans tried to assemble at the California State Capitol.  And police stood by while a larger group of counter-protesters assaulted the first group.  The larger group used a heckler's veto (which is not protected free speech) to stop speech they don't like.

I don't care what the first group believes or wants.  I care that their right to speak freely in the public square was violently suppressed.

I don't care that in a civil discussion I may have agreed with the counter-protesters beliefs.  Once they crossed the line to violate the civil rights of others, they are wrong and they lose my support.

Not to mention that the counter-protesters also attacked representatives of the media.  I may whine all day about the media and their biases, but, you don't put your hands on them.

It was galling to watch the interviews after the fact with these criminals, and that's what they were.  The counter-protesters were proud of the fact that they had just committed these offenses.  They showed up, many with their faces covered, intending to do harm.

But the worst was watching the police do nothing.  A handful of people were arrested.  There should have been dozens and dozens of arrests.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Getting In Trouble

My previous post - November, 2015 - got a new comment -

Maggie, you okay ? Haven't heard from you since ........ November 8th !!

I wish you well, friend.

A follower from ....... oh, hell, everywhere ........... US Navy Retired RMCS (SS)
24 June, 2016 18:00

I'm sorry! This blog has really fallen behind on my list of priorities.

Things are good!  Still in active chemo, but alive and fighting beats the alternative.

I get to spend lots of time with my grandson Frankie who is an absolute delight.

My social media focus has shifted to Twitter.  I still read serious stuff and think serious thoughts, but my output.....

Thanks for the kinds words.