A New Life

IMG_0435On March 24, 2016, Otis Donald Anderson was born. This new life is precious to me. He is my only grandson. I never knew how moved I would be when holding my grandson in my arms for the first time. He is perfect, a blank slate as my son, his father, says.

The first day we went to Ethan and Andrea’s house to see Otis, my tremors were very bad. So bad that I worried I would drop him when they handed him to me while I was still in my wheelchair. The tremors continued throughout the day, and I struggled to be calm when holding him. I got to feed him his bottle twice, and marveled at the daintiness of his fingers and the whispers of his eye lashes. I stroked his black hair with my shaking hand, praying for relief from the tremors that prevented me from fully enjoying being with him.

My physical therapist had suggested I ask my primary care doctor for a prescription for Lyrica for nerve pain. Lyrica was developed as a sleep aid, but when given to patients with MS, it was discovered that it quelled their nerve pain. I took the Lyrica, and within one half hour, I was without the pain in my ankles and legs that I had lived with for at least four years. One side effect that surprised and delighted me was a lessening of my tremors. The shaking that rocked my body from my hands to my feet had almost been silenced.

Two weeks later, we visited Otis again. This time, instead of the ratchety movements of my arms and hands holding the baby, calm arms and hands caressed him in his coverlet. I was able to trace my finger along his cheek to feel his newness, and loved touching his little legs and felt his tiny feet inside his onesie.

My only job is to love him. Now I can be tender and calm. My body doesn’t betray my wishes to caress his face with a loving touch. I still have minor tremors, but the difference between the two visits is profound. This has been a gift to me, in the midst of a very happy phase in my life.

In one year, I am a grandmother four times over. My son Jesse and his wife Ines adopted three sisters, age 3, 4, and 5 this year. Marissa, Ally, and Clare know me only through Skyping and phone calls, but they are due to visit in July.

The blessings abound. Four precious little lives are enriching my life daily. My tremors are quieted to a degree I can deal with, and I can be the grandmother I want to be. Just when I thought I needed to accept the pain and tremors as a part of my post-polio syndrome progressing, I was pleasantly surprised by a pharmacological intervention.

There is hope. There is always hope. In the midst of a struggle, we might be blinded by the waves of difficulty washing over us. But sometimes, just sometimes, we get through it with a better understanding of ourselves and the gift of some sort of intervention.

We don’t have to do it all alone. Accepting help has been very hard for me, but I have learned it can mean the difference between suffering in silence and living fully in the moment.

To Otis, Marissa, Clare, and Ally, my lap is open to you now. My love is for you.

To my readers, take heart. If an intervention doesn’t present itself for you, look outwards for help in your struggle. Learn to ask for it. Learn to know you deserve to feel better.

Until then,

With Love,

Gail

Prose – Another Mountain to Climb

These days I am engrossed in my next big project: the writing of my next memoir.

The title? “Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown.”

On the cusp of turning thirty in 1985, I suffered a complete nervous breakdown. This memoir is my journey of climbing a metaphorical mountain to recovery and health. There were many mitigating factors, but in the final analysis, I have no regrets about my life choices.

Set in a Victorian institution in the 1980’s, the book offers up huge doses of human frailty, growth and sublime comedy.

My philosophy for writing this book, which I am writing for myself, is that we all have our breaking point. If you’re religious, which I am not, reading it may be one of those “There but for the grace of God, go I” experiences. If indeed truth is stranger than fiction, this book is hitting its mark.

I am being extremely strict with myself about honesty. It would do me no good, assist in no healing, wouldn’t help others for me to fabricate anything within this book. Few of us are as honest with themselves as I am attempting to be. Revisiting this time in my life through the writing of it makes me wonder how I survived, both physically and emotionally. As I write, I am revisited with the pain and horror of my own flawed, distorted, and ill mind of those days. I am also revisiting the love I found in a locked ward. Who would expect through such a human tragedy would bloom hope and love and new life? I didn’t. But that’s what I found.

And I am finding it again. I belong to wonderful writer’s group made up of thirteen or so writers who put their hearts into their own writing to better themselves. They also offer critique and edits and feedback on each piece every person brings in. The side effects of this sharing are kindness, camaraderie, and love. Were it not for them, I wouldn’t have the courage to do what I am doing.

While I was writing my first memoir, “The Girl in the Iron Lung,” I kept a scrapbook unknown to anyone. The marked up pages of my chapters which I received back from the writers were full of comments. I cut out the comments and pasted them into a journal to help me keep writing, to find purpose in the pain of it, and to ward off the loneliness I felt with the memories of my past. I still have that journal and turn to it sometimes.

I think it’s time for me to start another journal. This one will be even more meaningful than the first. Rather than exposing the broken heart of a little girl, I am revealing the depth and fractures of the distorted mind of a young woman.

That woman was me.

 

Love,

Gail

 

 

 

 

Prose – Of Loss and Love

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I’ve been absent from my blog for many months now.  I am well and fine. It all has to do with happiness in my life, leaving me content to live it rather than write about it.

It’s time to get back here now and reconnect with all of you.

I did suffer two great losses in the meantime. My loving friend and Frank’s brother died unexpectedly at too young an age and with too many sorrows to his name. We spent holidays and Saturdays together and his wry sense of humor when paired with Frank’s while watching horror flicks at his apartment over take out lunch is missed by me tremendously. The two of them had a comfortable familiarity of mindset with one liners and commentary liken to Mystery Science Theater routines. If you haven’t seen any of these cult classics, or if you have, remember Kevin for me in his straight man brilliance.

I also lost a friend of twenty years, a wonderful poet and DJ of free form radio. I met Bob in an AOL chatroom and although I never met him in person, we were close enough for him to have nicknamed me Sunflower after Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl.” He knew what I had been through and how I had evolved and risen above the ashes of two painful decades in life. I knew about him, and he was in every sense a true friend.

I think I probably wrote about my move last September into a two-bedroom apartment with the love of my life, Frank. He is the reason for my silent contentment and happiness to such a degree that I haven’t felt a need to talk or write about it, but have been living the happiest moments of my life on a daily basis. He accepts me for all that I am and for all that I am not. He takes care of me as I have never been taken care of before. He is the beacon of laughs and reason where I found none in the past. We had a relationship before the move, but since sharing a home, our love and commitment has grown to immense proportions. I only want for him to be himself and be happy. Life and love really does boil down to this.

There is more to the story of our lives. I’m leaving that for another time when the pictures come back so that I can share some with you.

For now, I spend my days taking care of the flowers on the patio, birdwatching, and at night listening to the bullfrog that’s made a home in the storm drain right outside. Frank and I share the quiet happiness of love and we talk about my cat Mooshi who talks more than the two of us put together.

It’s good to be back. I didn’t forget any of you, I was just listening to my heart and the wildlife in the woods.

Love,

Gail

 

 

 

 

Poem – On Hold to Paris


What is my natural state?
Wait a minute, wait five, wait ten.
The aperture opens, I blink.
In a flash, I switch direction.
I cry at the joy of music.
I smile at the finality of death.
In between, the body
of my mind flinches
at the exposure.

Just let me walk out the door this time.
I’ll take with me all which they carried.
A photograph, a medal, a lipstick.
No medium to conjure the spirits
but the drawing I left on the desk.
I left it with you to remind you
the night flight to Paris is due.

Flash Fiction – Up

The word is up. The word limit is 150.

“No one told me sex was so good after fifty,” Randy whispered in Michelle’s ear.

“I never imagined the old buggers could get it up anymore,” she joked.

They went on like this often, now living together at ages into their sixties. They were happy, healthy and a little bit wicked for their generation.

“Do you think we could find some swingers in this God-forsaken senior complex?” Randy winked at her.

“Randy, their lights are out at seven and I don’t think they’re doing what we’re doing.”

“Still,” Randy fantasized.”What about Mary Lou and Frank across the hall with the banana bread?” He laughed, knowing she would get the banana reference.

“Don’t forget the nuts!” She snorted wildly.

“Okay, okay, I’m happy with you, love, we’ll keep it all to ourselves. “Could you hand me the remote? ”

“Sure Sweetie, just lock the doors when you go to bed.”

Are you flashing yet?

Get happy with the M3Blog Flash Fiction Challenge!

http://mommasmoneymatters.com/flash-fiction/

Poem – Drunk as Drunk on Neruda


Did you taste that thirsty pause
between our grasping laughter?
We peeled away the years
of disembodied closeness
we’d built like dunes covered
by disinterested waves
that made their sterling debut
late in that clean afternoon.

That open pause like
the mouths of lovers eating a kiss-
I traced the movement of your lips
as you taught me Cockney slang.
I could only spit out Harvard yard.
I drank the Caribbean high noon,
and you sipped on beans from Brazil.
Love tried to intervene
to expose our mindless mime.

Finally, it was poetry that united us.
We worked together on a poem
we both wished we had written
that spoke the unspeakable
of what was or could be between us,
that forced us into the third person
and stole deafness from my wishes.
We made love to the printed page,
and said goodbye without a touch.

Poem – Song for Unattainable Men

Song for Unattainable Men
I’ve been waiting, have you dreamt of me?
since I penetrated your left eardrum
with my flute solo, the one I played for you
on that slick cardboard and scotch-taped instrument.
I was a virtuoso then, at ten,
and I’m still waiting.

Have you dreamt my melody?
I see the opening in your ear sucking
on the flirtatious patter of overgrown girls
with your eye for propriety
and lust for that candy, that syrup,
those vapors, while I play.

My flute is sterling now; I play it solo.
Open-holed like your ear and I thought
the two of you would get along.
Snakes do their bidding, as I seduce them
for their venom, but my song dies
in empty chambers when you hear.

Maybe, though, I could be wrong.
Maybe my music fills your dreams
with liquid crescendos, my silver grip,
and you with your sense of propriety
and place can tolerate clatter and chat
but awaken shaken with my solo in your song.

Do you turn to the medicine cabinet
in navy hours of the night
looking for liniment and swabs
to comfort tears that your ear cries?
Tears that weep from the hole
I put in your dreams one night.