Milestones

Random Facebook meme

Today is significant to me. It’s the last day of my 30’s. Sunday celebrates the big 4-0. I don’t write this with expectations of happy birthday hoopla, quite the opposite actually.

I never wanted to turn 30. In fact up until recently (about 10 minutes ago) if you asked me how old I am, I would tell you I’ve been 29 for quite some time now. I spent a decade of telling people it was not my birthday, it was my anniversary. I’d answer their puzzled looks by explaining it was another anniversary of my 29th birthday. After all, if my grandfather could be 29 for 40 some years, why can’t I?

There won’t be a celebration. My family is far away, we couldn’t get together anyway. Stupid Covid. I will spend the day in quiet self reflection. There’s a lot on my mind.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer in December of 1993. It was the last day of school before Christmas vacation. I came home from school all excited for the magic of Christmas and found everyone crying. “Don’t worry” she told me. She assured me she’d beat it. I don’t think she said that for my benefit. I believe she thought she could. She passed away the following June. She had just turned 40 in May.

To say I feel there is a significance of turning the same age my mom was when she died would be an understatement, particularly now. I have been struggling for the last eight months for saying the words “I’m disabled.” The last several years I did my best to pretend everything was okay. I had to, people needed me. In January I wound up in the hospital and a long diagnosis list was discovered. There was no pretending anymore.

I often compare myself to my mom. She’s always been my hero. Mom always had a full plate balancing a demanding career and running a house with a chronically ill husband and daughter. She also did a lot of community involvement with agencies such as Wisconsin women entrepreneurs, Catholic junior league, being active in our church, regularly seeing her girlfriends and keeping everything organized with our extended families. I also think about how mom always strived to be better, to do good, to be an amazing wife, mother, daughter, friend and career woman. She had a teaching degree but went to a much different career in the insurance field.

Mom kept everything together. Everyone got where they needed to go. She always knew what was happening with everyone. Meals were on time, snacks were on time, she attended games, dance recitals, piano lessons and recitals, work parties all with a smile on her face. I never got the impression she was stressed. I only remember seeing her cry once and I don’t remember my parents ever fighting.

I always thought of my mom as an adult. I still consider myself a child. When I compare myself to my mom I never seem to measure up. I always thought one day I’d be an adult and I’d do everything she did. Now I’m her age. I’m turning the age she made it to. I’m as old as she was when I considered her to be an adult and I wonder if she ever felt like I do now. Did she know she had everything figured out as I saw it? Or perhaps she was as lost as I am now and trying to make it.

Failed relationships and a joke of a marriage under my belt I don’t have a partner. I was advised at a young age to not attempt to bring children into the world due to the severity of my illness. No family of my own was ever to be had. I had a career that I had to leave due to the progression of my illness. I’ve had limited community and church involvement but none of it recently due to Covid and my poor compromised immune system not to mention my constant movement limiting pain.

8 months I’ve been preparing for this time. 8 months I’ve thought constantly about turning 40 in my debilitated condition. 8 months I’ve gone to and come back from some pretty dark places but that’s just it, I’ve come back.

There’s one thing I have on my side: I am my mother’s daughter. I think of her everyday and ask what she would do or what she would advise me to do. The answer is always the same. I hear her in my head saying “keep going.”

I’ve spent my life trying to live up to my mom but I’m not her, I’m me. I need to learn to take my own path, make my own mistakes and gain my own accomplishments. That’s what Mom would want for me. Life is a constant battle of figuring stuff out. Figuring out what makes you happy and what doesn’t should be a daily question as is how do I change the Doesn’t into does?

Most recently I’ve asked myself what do I do with the rest of my life? I won’t be at a 9-5, I can’t manage that anymore. The answer so far has been writing. In the last 3 months I’ve started this blog, published several articles/stories on platforms such as Wattpad, medium and vocal, written two books and self published one. (Spoiler alert: a new book will be out in September). I often questioned whether mom would approve of my books as some material is for those of the adult age but she spent enough time with her nose in a book with a cover featuring Fabio so I think it’s okay. I’m also continuing my Etsy shop with not only creating but using my writing to promote. I’d like to one day be able to promote myself as writer for hire assisting others with the same services.

Turning 40, I have no idea how much time is left. It may be a month as mom had or it may be 100 years. meanwhile I’ll spend every day keeping on and collecting feathers.

I can be found here:

Wattpad: mandacat80

Authentic love: a short story

I saw the message request notification on my social media profile. I opened it up to find a very attractive man who called himself John Wilson had written to me. “Hello Gracie” it started “I was looking up a friend when I came across your profile. Your eyes captured my attention I had to say hello” I rolled my eyes and let out a sigh “great another catfish” I said aloud to no one in particular. I was alone after all. The story was always the same. They were looking for something when they came across my profile, I’m gorgeous they couldn’t look away, they had some tragedy happen where they’re all alone in the world looking for love. Except of course they’re on some top secret mission for the military with some crazy high rank. They need money sent right away or their unit will leave them behind. “I’ve never met a 38 year old General with scraggly facial hair and an obnoxiously thick gold chain” I had said to the last one before blocking and reporting the profile. Catfish: someone who pretends to be someone else in order to pull a scam on an innocent victim. The fakes were bad enough but stolen valor irritates my soul with vigor. I knew I should ignore the message but something told me to respond. I knew he was fake for how attractive he was with those bright blue eyes and dimpled smile. There were no fatigues with the name he gave plastered across it but sometimes the military part comes later. “Okay John Wilson we can chat but you must answer me one question.” “Anything doll face” he replied. This is how I know he was fake. The over extensive flattery. My round cheeks dark brown hair, brown eyes and slightly crooked nose did not belong on a doll, maybe a haunted one. Anyway, John Wilson agreed to a question so a question he shall get. “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” I’m a bit of a smart ass but I always said it was better than being a dumb ass. The indicator appeared that John was responding. Then it stopped. Then it started again. Then it stopped for a long time. “Ha! I got him” I again said aloud. I really needed to stop talking to myself. I went and made a cup of coffee and when I returned there it was: “He would chuck, he would, as much as he could and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.” I stared at the screen flabbergasted. He responded correctly. “Okay John Wilson you have my attention” I replied. The saga continued on he told me he was in the army (shocking) but had no family. He never married or had children he enlisted right out of high school and made a career out of it. I listened to him. I listened to every word he said but I didn’t believe any of it. He was still kind of fun to talk to though, he made me laugh a lot. We didn’t chat much as they’re busy overseas (of course. enter eye roll here) but over the next few months I enjoyed my sporadic catfish messages. We talked about everything and anything. I was careful to only allow very limited information what he could see as my friend on my profile. I thought about it showing where I worked but thought meh he wants money not me. The more we were able to talk the more I started wishing those messages were from the real John Wilson. Every time my feelings were stronger I would just pick a fight about him being a catfish. “Ffs Gracie you still don’t believe me?” “Well” I’d respond “I gave you tasks to do in pics and you can’t and you won’t video chat with me so I have yet to see proof” “Gracie these guys already tease me mercilessly about you the last thing I need is some jerk making obscene gestures in the background.” “That’s a flimsy excuse” I’d replied. I didn’t hear from John for a long while after that. I was starting to think I had successfully broken his scam. Then it came : “Gracie I will be returning stateside next week I’d really like it if we could be friends.” Oh boy I thought any second now he will need money to get home. “Gracie please the army is bringing me back what I want is to continue to build what we’ve started here you’re special to me.” The week went by and no request for money. I had broken the scam. He was done. I was in a way sad but still admired my victory that I didn’t give in. I went through my daily duties at the magazine I worked for. Wrote articles, played with products, banged my head on my desk. Yesterday was the day “John” was traveling. I used air quotes to refer to him now. My work bestie Rebecca plopped in a chair opposite my desk and pulled out her lunch. I had told her everything in the last few days. “I’d noticed” she said “you were on cloud nine and now, not so much.” It was then I realized how much I was going to miss what had happened. “I gotta get back before my department kills each other” she headed back towards the lobby to get to marketing. Advertising geniuses could be a challenge at times. I shook my head as I edited the article I was working on. I saw a slow trickle of women head toward the lobby. Some giggled when they walked past. Strange I thought as I shook my head. Just then Rebecca’s voice came over the intercom: “Gracie Johnson you have a visitor in the main lobby!” Odd I wasn’t expecting any appointments today. I got up and smoothed out my skirt as I headed for the lobby. The marketing department was gathered there I could see through the small door window. What on earth? I wondered. I pushed open the door as a couple of the girls let out soft squeals. I stopped dead in my tracks. His bright blue eyes looked right into me as he cracked that dimpled smile. The big bouquet of flowers almost blocked the name tape on the fatigues that said “Wilson” “what? How?” I stuttered. My knees buckled and the squealers stood on either side holding me up. “Hiya doll face” he said “maybe you believe me now?” I ran with everything I had across the lobby and wrapped my arms around him as tight as I could. I couldn’t believe it! My boss appeared then and told me my day was done enjoy my weekend. I looked over at Rebecca who had a huge smile on her face and she winked at me. John took my hand and led me out the door. I’d tell you what happened next but Amanda says this is a PG-13 blog 😉 -Gracie yes Gracie I’m sure we can imagine -Amanda

The Feather Appeared

I had a dream, not a famous one but an ordinary dream. A couple of dreams, actually. In those dreams, feathers appeared. Now, I’ve always heard the quote “when angels are near feathers appear,” but I hadn’t seen it until now. In my first dream, I shared a meal with my parents, who have both passed on. I was whining and carrying on about being sick and tired of being sick and tired and not being able to get up and go to work. I had gotten very ill in January and wound up septic in the hospital for a week. Following hospitalization, I was primarily on bed rest due to a leg wound that required me to elevate my leg as much as possible. Due to lack of activity for three months and not being in great shape, to begin with, I lost a good deal of muscle tone in my legs. I had also advanced into stage 3 chronic kidney disease and am carrying around a good bit of water weight. Doctors recently discovered I have degenerative joint disease in my spine, hips, and knees and something in my lower back is not where it should be. All of these make minimal tasks very difficult for me. Mom looked at me from across the table and said, “if you cannot get up and go to work, then work sitting down,” and with that, they were gone. I was left in the booth by myself, and when I ran my hand along the top edge of the stall, I felt something metal. I picked a carved metal feather with ribbon on it, a bookmark. I knew the feather was significant, but I didn’t know why at first. My medical condition has left me in a state where my former employer no longer held my job because I could not do it at the end of my FMLA time. I can’t commit to any 9-5 right now with the number of doctor’s appointments, medical tests, life-changing procedures to follow, and the like. I started to research work from home positions, and the same consistently caught my eye: writing. A light went off in my head, and the metal bookmark reappeared. It’s a feather from heaven with a message: books. I decided to write a book. I needed a subject. Some thoughts occurred but seemed more short story type than a book. Enter dream number 2. There’s some background to this. For a very long time, I have been dealing with anxiety. Not normal pressure, no mine is wake up in the middle of the night in complete panic and never want to leave my house anxious. It stems from stress regarding medical issues, having so many complications of my condition, being unable to work, figuring out how to support myself, jobless roommate and pets when I just have savings, not feeling well ever, and finding normalcy in a completely abnormal situation. An excellent friend helped me develop “my happy place.” A place I create in my head where I imagine myself being when the stress gets to be too much. Shortly after the book idea, I began to worry about all of the above, and I went to my happy place, and I fell asleep. I remained in my happy place in my dream and at my favorite resting point was a feather. I woke up and said I’m going to write a story with my happy place as the setting and the ideas sprang forth. I’m doing it. I’m writing a book. At the time of this blog, I’m 20,000 words in, and I’ve just begun. I realize a book is a big undertaking and won’t happen overnight, so I’m looking for some other projects too. This blog will be one of my projects. It will showcase my thoughts, my struggles, my health, and life journeys and, at times, feature some short stories or random things. It’s a jumping point to bigger things. Even being gone all this time (1994), Mom still gives good advice.