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The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and overwhelming responsibilities.  I’m exhausted.  There are days I think that a man sure would be nice to have around.  He could help me make some of these decisions.  He could shoulder some of these financial responsibilities.  He could pick up the loose ends around the house and with the kids when there just isn’t enough of me left.  He could wrap his arms around me and just hold me, letting me breathe in his reassurances.

My 83 year old uncle recently asked me why I don’t ever have a man around.  He wanted to know, “Don’t you ever dream of having a relationship?  Don’t you dream of having someone again?”  The pity was evident.  He has admitted that he feels sorry for me, “working so hard and raising all those kids alone.”

But, between you and me, I think I’m too scared to even look.  I keep gaining weight, and I fear that I’m hiding behind it.  Perhaps this layer of extra insulation protects me.

So, I keep on doing what I must.  I wade through each day in a cloud, not fully focused but moving nonetheless.

This afternoon a friend shared with me that she worries about me working so much.  She worries about my health. I admit, sometimes, so do I.

My old car finally threw a rod.  I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t sleep.  I worried incessantly.  I prayed my way through three weeks, conserving trips and hoping to just make it to work.

Broke and employed as an unlicensed cleaning lady, I feared I couldn’t qualify for a loan.  Then, I feared that if I could, I couldn’t make the payments.  I cringed at the humiliation I knew I would face sitting at that desk asking for something I didn’t deserve.

A friend said her uncle could help me, but I needed to look online first so I could give him a place to start when I actually came in to the car lot where he worked.  So, I booted up and began looking at the disappointing photos of vehicles with the specs and price tags I knew were beyond my means.  What was I going to do????

This is where a man in my life would sure be nice.  Someone to help me make this decision.  Maybe his skills would have prevented this from even happening.

Then, there on the screen in front of me was the lowest priced car I’d come across yet.  And, it only had 1,445 miles on it.  Okay, that was too weird.  Something had to be wrong with it.  I submitted an online interest form to find out why they were trying to dump this new car like that.  Early the next morning I received a call from the dealership.  The first words out of the man’s mouth were, “I talked to [the owner of the dealership].  If you’re interested in this car, he’ll drop the price a thousand dollars.”

Say whaaaat?  No haggling?  No sales pitch?

A friend’s husband who previously worked at a car dealership coached me through the process, and I drove away in a new little car with a full warranty.  I didn’t have to put down one dime.  I just signed the papers and drove away.

jan 15 thru march 24 2014 005

 

My oldest son is graduating in May on the other side of the country.  It is important to him that I’m there to watch.  He has no family but his siblings and me.  He’s worked incredibly hard to get where he is, and he deserves to have his accomplishment witnessed and celebrated.  But, I can’t afford to go!  I’ve stressed and stressed and stressed over how to pay for this.  Miraculously, extra jobs have popped up here and there over the last month, and I’ve poured that extra little bit onto the credit card to pay for part of my trip.  I have about six weeks left to come up with the rest of it.  No matter what, I’m going.

Washington_Monument_Dusk_Jan_2006

 

I’m usually awake before the alarm goes off.  Not because I’m rested but because I’m lying awake worrying.  Or, because my crazy old dog’s barking awakened me way too early.  She’s deaf and partially blind and is losing her sense of smell.  Well, okay, she’s pretty much lost that, too.  She’s also obviously suffering from doggy dementia.  I pull my weary bones (and extra insulation) from the warmth of my bed and out into the stark coldness of this unheated house.  I pour myself a cup of day old coffee from the carafe and head outside to microwave it.  Yes, the microwave is outside.  The wiring is so horribly overloaded that a microwave in the kitchen shuts down half the house every time it’s turned on.  Every morning I step out on the cold concrete and nervously peer around the corner looking for my cat.  She’s heading on 16, and I know that one day very soon I’ll find her stiff and not breathing.  I lift her gently to bring her in to eat, careful not to put pressure on her tumor, glad to see I’ve been given one more day with her.  From the shower window, as the light begins to peak through the trees, I count my chickens.  One, two, three, four.  They’re all there still.  At nine years old they no longer lay, but I take care of them in honor of all of the good years they helped feed my children.  My dog, my cat, and my last four hens……they all have one foot or paw in the grave.  I’ve said I wouldn’t replace them until they passed, but then a friend posted this on his wall.

my orange cat

I commented on how cute the kittens were.  Out of curiosity I asked if there were just the three.  He, I think, kinda jokingly asked if I’d like him to save me one.  Without hesitation I said yes.  The only problem is the aforementioned trip.  No problem!  He’ll keep this little guy and litter box train him while I’m back east.  I’m pretty excited.  I’ve always had a weird thing for orange cats.  Besides, my little menagerie really needs some new blood.

I think I know what you’re thinking.  Could I possibly have a point in all of this????

Here’s the thing:  I read some posts on a friend’s wall just yesterday.  She got new kittens, too.  Her kids want a dog, but her husband said no.  So, they got kittens.  One of her friends wants a cat, but her husband said no to a kitty.  That’s when it all hit me.

I didn’t have to ask anyone if I could get a kitten!  I saw that orange little ball of cute fuzz and said I wanted him.  My friend and I quickly worked out the details flawlessly so that the little guy will be well cared for while I’m gone. End of story.

Truth be told, I’ve gained weight because I really like food, not to hide from a man.  I am FREE to enjoy eating now that I don’t have a man telling me I’ve had enough or I’d better not eat that dairy with a cellulite problem like mine.  I nibble on cheese and crackers and sip red wine because it is pleasurable, not because it gives me fat to hide behind.  Honestly.

Every day brings a new difficult decision or dilemma, true.  But, I get to solve those issues in ways that are most comfortable for me.  I hate debt and avoid it at all costs.  But, I’ll rack up that card to its limit to go see my son graduate!  However, when jobs come along that can offset that potential debt, I accept them without hesitation.  I don’t have to consult with anyone about whether or not it will interfere with his plans or if it will bother him that I won’t be home until late three days a week.  I take the jobs because they will allow me to do what is important to ME.

Yes, I am working an awful lot lately, and I am thoroughly exhausted.  It’s okay though.  I’ll rest when I take my trip.  Or, when a natural lull in my work flow occurs.  I’ll enjoy that time off, knowing that another burst of empty rentals and houses for sale is right around the corner.

I bought a new car!  I didn’t have to find something else old and run down that I could pay cash for and then depend on him to fix because he’d ruined my credit.  I’m not isolated anymore.  He can’t keep me stuck on this hill without transportation.  His decisions no longer bind me to those consequences.  I’ve paid off almost all of our marital debt, and I created my own little business.  My reward is new, dependable transportation.

Which brings me to this past weekend…….

jan 15 thru march 24 2014 031

Late Saturday evening I decided on a whim to drive to the coast the next morning.  I washed and trimmed strawberries and packed chips and blankets.  Sunday morning I made sandwiches.  We then loaded up, dropped off my 17 year old at his job, and drove the two hours to play on the beach all day.  Impromptu.  No discussion.  We just did it.  We ran in the surf.  We had a picnic.  We flew kites.  We made sandcastles.  I read while the children chased seagulls.

I love that my uncle and my friend worry about me.  It makes me feel loved to know that they are concerned about my health, my future, and my well being.  But, please don’t feel sorry for me.  Because, I’m free.  I’m finally really free.  Free to make decisions, to eat, to travel, to LIVE.

 

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