A Hand Up vs. Enablement


I try and feed people when I see them struggling.  I can’t adopt anybody or be more that a friendly face in passing, but I live my life trying to do no harm.

I know we all sit in judgement on each other with our first, subconscious thought.  I hope, though, that we each take a breath and try and reconsider what small thing we mght be able to do to help, and to not be an enabler.

In my case, there are a series of events going on, where I hope that I am not being an enabler and stopping someone from getting the actual physical AND mental health they may need.

Pride is a huge stumbling block to many people, and the choices we each make should be sacrosanct in our own lives.  However, it gets a little crazy when you are somebody’s extra pair of hands, and they make different choices than you would make, given the same circumstances.

Pride and Boundaries rear their ugly heads, and whether you are the helper or the person being helped, you have to pull in your horns and let a lot of stuff go.  As one of my bosses used to say, “Not My Monkey.  Not My Circus.”

In my case, my willingness to provide someone a meal, or a little extra cash, for someone who is a friend of close to 20 years standing, may have contributed to this women’s unhealthy view of the world.

I’m manning the boundaries like crazy, but I can’t see where this friend is able to cope as she’s aging (she’ll be 69 in March), so I’m trying to help but not enable.  It’s a fine line to walk, never mind try and walk it successfully, without losing the friendship.

Taking my friend to and from traffic court dates is particularly maddening, as she can’t keep her situation straight and doesn’t seem to see the situation clearly enough to get out of her own way.  For example,

My friend had dental surgery this month, the dentist having pulled out all her teeth and addressing her gum disease / infections from her own failing teeth, and getting fitted for dentures.  A family member helped by paying for the entire thing, but the state of her mental health and depression / anger doesn’t let her see that this action, which is costing them thousands of dollars, is truly a blessing.  She feels like they have so much that it doesn’t hurt them financially, so they kind of owe her.  Very perilous and unhealthy, entitled thinking.

Since the surgery recovery period also happened while she was also due back in court for traffic violations (driving without a license, expired registration which caused the bench warrant and loss of her license, major car accident which further messed up her bum leg / knee), etc., etc., etc., she cancelled her court appointment and did a no-show, even though she couldn’t get  anyone on the phone to accept her request for rescheduling, and even though I stood ready to transport her there and back on the day in question.  She has no concept that she doesn’t get to deal with all of this hassle at her convenience.

So, another bench warrant was issued.

Another $3,000 fine (which she cannot pay) was issued.

We spent all day yesterday, running from court to court to lunch to the DMV trying to get ready for the next court date, and she got angier and less able to cooperate as the day went on.  She has no understanding that this was all her fault and is meant to be a penalty or penance by “the bureaucracy” to get through to her that she’s lucky she’s not sitting in jail.

In the middle of all of this, she has a meltdown because she’s moving 2 hours away (she found an affordable apartment that will take both her and her dogs – hallaleulah !), and they can’t move her court date to her new county.  Nor will they give her a court date between now and the 15th of February, before she relocates.

And, she won’t get her license (her ID) back until the ticket is paid off.

And, on a fixed income, she has no way to pay off the ticket.

So, I paid off the ticket (hoping that she’ll pay me back, someday, but knowing that she probably won’t pay more than the $50 she insisted on yesterday).  At this point, I just want it cleared so that she can get some sort of ID, and I hope that I’m not falling back into the “enablement” cycle.

As someone is aging, it’s a fine line between able and not able for managing one’s life.  I’m walking that fine line myself, as I’m working through the disability process for trying to understand what the next phase of my life may be.

Hopefully, by paying off this ticket, I’ve freed her up from a small monetary issue and have not taken the undesirable step of putting keys to a car in her hands.  We won’t know for quite some time about what the outcome is likely to be, but she should not be behind the wheel, IMHO.

Today, however, I was out and about doing my own errands, and noticed another older woman, about my age, standing in the rain in the parking lot, begging for change.

I can’t adopt her, either, but I’m momentarily flush and I can spot any single person a meal.  We all can.  So, I gave her a card to a local fast food place that has both hotdogs and hamburgers as well as grilled cheese (in case she’s vegan), and will let her sit inside for the length of her meal, where it’s warm and dry.

The grey man (homeless guy in my neighborhood) seems to be doing better as he turned down a meal card and wanted only money last week, something I don’t hand out lightly, and I’m hoping this other lady will reach that sense of stability where she can have choices once again, too.

For now, she gave me this pretty crystal bracelet and ring in the picture (as she didn’t want me to think badly of her as someone who would just take, and take and take), and we both left the experience after a friendly talk about perseverance, hobby’s protecting one’s sanity during challenging times, and keeping one’s head high as she kept trying to get ahead and waiting for her number to be called from the homeless waiting list for a real home.

There’s no easy answers for any of this as I muddle through this blog today, trying to make sense out of a variety of passing images and moments from my week.  I’m just grateful that my friend and her dogs still have a roof over their heads, and that we’ll go see her apartment next week to get her familiar with her new neighborhood, and hopefully back on her feet in a more stable and mentally healthy living situation.

No answers here.  I’m just grateful I’m doing ok.

To quote an old song from my youth, by the Five Man Electric Band:


And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”

So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why

He said “You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”

So I took off my hat, I said “Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

And the sign said anybody caught trespassin’ would be shot on sight

So I jumped on the fence and-a yelled at the house, “Hey! What gives you the right?”

“To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in”

“If God was here he’d tell you to your face, Man, you’re some kinda sinner”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?

You’ve got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat

You can’t even watch, no you can’t eat

You ain’t supposed to be here
The sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside

And the sign said, “Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray”

But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn’t have a penny to pay

So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign

I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me. I’m alive and doin’ fine.”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Sign, sign




The Trees, The Fields and The Town


When I was a teenager, my Mother had me read the series of books (captured in the mini series, “The Awakening Land”, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, Jane Seymour and Barbara Hershey as sisters) of a pioneering family written by Conrad Richter.   The books are, “The Trees”, “The Fields” and “The Town”.

I start with that story, as it involves a sister (the Barbara Hershey character) either lost in the woods and found by Indians, or stolen by Indians (depending on one’s viewpoint).  When the sister disappeared, never to be heard from again, she left a hole in her sister’s lives, and an unanswered question which haunted the Elizabeth Montgomery character for the rest of her life – “what happened?”.

Sometimes, we just never get answers.  That’s life.

However, through the glories of fb, a missing cousin has been found.  In case I never made it clear in this particular blog, I loved my Nana but she was a serially unhappy woman, who left a wake of destruction and damaged people in her wake on her journey through life.  At the time she passed away (she was 90-something – we couldn’t be exactly sure, as she always lied about her age and had lowered her age before the records became set in stone) we still had a relationship, even though she and my father were at war.  That’s just how my familial relationships ran – hot and cold and no in-between.

In this case, the cousin is the product of my Father’s brother’s second or third marriage.  (He, too, followed his mother’s example and married many times.  The ones I know about are:  the Catholic, the Jew, the Buddhist) – I refer to them by religion so that you can understand that my Uncle Bobby was a very flexible guy.  Spiritual, according to his viewpoint, but not at all religious.

Anyway, I last saw this young woman when she was about 15 years old, and I was about 28, at a party at my Father’s home when my Nana was going to be in town for a visit.

Major drama aside, I think that was the last time I saw her – maybe 1988.  Life being what it is, Uncle Bobby and his wife divorced, and he moved on to the next woman.  Nana moved to FL to “retire”, and I had moved to CA for my health.

Because connections have always been maintained by the women in my Mother’s side of the family, it was hard to keep the connections alive when Bobby was the “permission” needed to have a relationship with both his daughters.

While my Mother was able to keep my older cousin in our lives so that she was not cut off completely following that divorce, we had no such success with the younger cousin, the half sister.  Until this week.

Not going to say much more, other than that I’m glad we have an answer.  The door is always open to her, if she wants to talk. My only goal in approaching her is to let her know she’s not alone.  It was a great email conversation, and I’m so pleased that she was receptive to hearing from me, a virtual stranger, almost 30 years after we last spoke.

Her Mom died about a month ago, and her second book was published to acclaim last Fall, so it’s been a crazy / busy time for her.  I wish her every success in getting through this difficult time of rebuilding and finding time for herself now that she’s officially an orphan.  I’m hopeful that she will welcome both myself, her half sister, and anyone else who would care to be a part of her life into her world.  It’s too soon to tell, but at least it’s progress.

Now, I have to go out and buy a copy of her books.  Seems like writing and expressing our opinions, and being a feminist, runs in the family, LOL…

Studying and life goes on

CellTex Stem Cell Treatment

I’ve been spending the last few weeks scrambling to decide what type of stem cell treatment I might be opting for, presuming that my company was going to lay me off at Christmas.

However, the more I study, the less I know.

Right now, a very good friend is working for a biotech research group, and wants to “help” me.  Why do I feel that her involvement is a waste of time?  Am I really that controlling, or do I really feel she’s that much of a good-intentioned airhead, with her belief in “signs” and “portents” and that being good will automatically cause a happy life to result?  No idea, but this is the kind of thing I’m struggling with as I share information with her and hope for the best.

From my point of view, I’ve been granted a reprieve as the State has finally granted my disability payment claim, so they have backpaid me 3 months worth of partial income.  And I’m grateful.  VERY grateful.

My employer is still sitting on its hands, and arguing with me about long term disability, but I’ve started that process, too.  Seems like everywhere I look right now, I’m arguing with someone about something.  Fun, fun, fun.

Otherwise, it’s all ok.  Life still goes on.  I’m still on the better side of the grave, and I’m doing ok despite the exhaustion, pain and trouble breathing.

The stem cell treatment doesn’t seem like it will do much for my type of COPD illness, so I’m doing what my doctor suggested and stepping away from being an early adopter.

I found a great place for research, the Stem Cell Pioneers website, and the hosts have been involved in COPD stem cell research and use since 2007.  Pretty good, compared to everything else that was about 1 years worth of anecdotal stories and nothing further back.

Key things that I’m researching right now:








So, it goes on, and we’ll see how it all turns out.  For now, it’s Wednesday, so that makes it Spaghetti day for me.  Enjoy !

Justice vs. Anger


I don’t consider myself a particularly angry person.  Generally, I’m even tempered and relaxed.

However, I’ve been accused this past year (2015 vs. 2016) of being a grudge-holder.


Yeah, dude.  Seriously.

My baby sis hasn’t really spoken to me since May, when she was screaming at me (and making no sense at all for the contradictions in her reasoning) about letting go of the fight with our father over my baby brother’s grave.

I say “my” vs. “ours” because Jimmy was born before her, and she never knew him / has no emotional stake in the game.

I, however, was 5 when he was born.  I recall the months of preparation for his birth, along with the devastation when he died of SIDS (sudden, unexplained infant death syndrome) 3 days after birth and before he came home from the hospital.  So, our viewpoints on this topic, and the ages we were during our Mother’s grieving, have had profoundly different impacts on our psyches.

Flash foward 50 years, and Jimmy is still as real and a part of my life as when he was born.

My baby sis was 4 when divorce proceedings began between our parents.  I was 11.  I remember all the fights over money, my surgeries, Mom’s additional miscarriages before baby sis was born; everything.

I remember Mom’s depression.  Her fight to pay for Jimmy’s gravesite (she’d traded plots with her parents, buying them a 2-person site in exchange for the 4-person site where Jimmy was buried).  It was also where they eventually expected to bury me, even though I wasn’t supposed to hear that conversation.

Mom worked for 5 years to pay off that loan.  While also fighting with my father over the supplemental costs of my surgeries, and the additional cost of my baby sister’s surgery. The bills were mounting, and Daddy Dearest was never much of a worker.

While I’d like to give him credit for trying, the chip on his shoulder from lack of money didn’t get any smaller as the debts from his children’s repairs mounted.  He was working hard, his talents were showcased in Architectural Digest for the remodeling he did of chef Julia Child’s kitchen, and he wasn’t getting ahead financially.

He resented Mom’s depression, and her focus on having all the children their Catholic faith would insist she bear.

He buried his anger for a time in buying a 200 year old farmhouse and giving us all a fresh start by working off his anger via remodeling, however, everywhere he looked he couldn’t find easy street.  Just work and more work.

Two years after giving themselves a new start in a money-pit of a home, they had my baby sis.  Three years later, they began divorce proceedings.

They say it’s the rare marriage that can recover from the death of a child.  While I was only a sibling, and not the parent, I’d have to agree.

I never recovered from the death of Jimmy, and I was just a bit player in our family drama.

Through the years, I listened to my Mom’s advice to stay out of the marital fights.  Mom tried her best to shield us all from the ugliness of the battles, but my bedroom was directly over the kitchen, and their fights filled my dreams as they were conducted directly into my room via the floor heating vents.

So, I *know* where the body is buried, why he never got a gravestone until my father was bent on inflicting more pain a few years back, and how hard my Mom fought to have her youngest son recognized vs. erased.

As I’m going into my 8th month of my younger sister not talking to me because of my decision to resolve the ownership of Jimmy’s grave before my own passing, I keep seeing the signs like the one gracing this blog, and I wonder:  Am I really an angry person?

When did our culture become so focused on the here and now that we stopped honoring our dead and the final wishes of our dead?

While I would like to be able to give into my sister on this issue, I already made the mistake of putting off a decision and trusting that my brother (our Father’s right hand man) would help me put it right after Daddy Dearest was dead.  It was the wrong decision to make at the time, and I own my fault in putting off until today what should have been resolved then as my brother has since passed away, so the topic has reopened.

At this point, I’ve spent most of the last 17 days struggling with this topic, and the lawyer’s choice to bow out of this case vs. proceeding with the probate court hearing that she originally proposed.  Not sure why she’s changed her mind, but I’m pushing back that a single letter and some research about their divorce should not have cost $3k, and that she’s given Daddy Dearest final say in this matter vs. proceeding with the plan agreed upon.

Maybe I am an angry person.  Maybe I’m like that old film, “The Last Angry Man”.  However, I feel that everyone needs to stand for something in this life, and my word is one of those things that I try very hard to honor.

I gave my promise at 17 to try and get this matter resolved, and reaffirmed that promise when my Mother was dying.  Why is it now so “convenient” to stop honoring the final wishes of the dead?

Why am I such an anachronism that I just can’t let this one slide?

No answers here, but I truly feel that I’m seeking justice in a cruel world.  Maybe the Don Quixote label does apply…