My Sister Writes

An E-mail Entitled: Steph's Sickness

"I thought you'd get a kick out of making fun of me. I have a sickness, a disease. I'm going crazy. So here it is…. One of the girls here made a cake for Stacie's b-day, which I think was around the 20th? Anyway, they can't stand for stuff to sit here, so they threw it away. You know what I had to do. Yes, I'm digging out of the trash and eating it. Of course I can't literally dig the whole thing out and eat it, so I'm eating it out of the trash can.

It’s still so moist. I'm sooo sick and messed up. I can't control it. "

Yeah, and here is where I claim she is of no real relation to me. I swear she's a genetic marvel all on her own. The Reno's don't really like to claim her. In fact, the other day I was telling my parents that we should tell her she was actually my aunt's child. They're all weird on that side of the tree anyway. I really think we could convince her of it.


Saying Your Thank Yous

I made it all the way to St. Louis this year for the holiday, which I don't think I've done in over a decade. My family is somewhat spread out through Missouri, so each year, the holidays are swapped between some place in Missouri I can only pronounce & not spell and Memphis. But because of various reasons, this year, Christmas was actually in St. Louis. It looked like we weren't going to make it because Memphis had this rush of cold weather and freezing sleet that packed the streets pretty well, but we still managed a safe trip.

For some reason that has never made itself clear, there is an unspoken divide between my immediate family and my father's side. I haven't seen my cousins in years with the exception of my grandfather's funeral earlier this year. My sister and parents have made a few trips up here to visit my grandmother (my father's mother). She is in a nursing home, but her mind is quickly fading. Even though I really only had two full days here, I wanted to see her.

I'm not sure what I expected today, but I know I expected much more than I got. The facility that she lives in was enough to make me cry. As soon as my mother buzzed the front doors open, she was sitting in a chair. And from the stories I've already heard, I have a pretty good idea she spends every single day in that chair. When we walked up to her, there wasn't an ounce of recognition. She was dressed in a pink jogging suit that happened to be painted with balloons with all her grandchildren's name on them. I kind of assumed I could cajole her into acknowledging me, but within seconds, I realized that wasn't going to happen. She spoke so softly and looked frightened. I tried to tell her that I was her granddaughter and pointed to the "Jennifer" balloon on her shirt, and she just nodded. I wanted to talk to her, to ask her how she's been, or ask if anyone came to see her yesterday or something, but she wasn't able to answer anything. I asked my mom if I could see her room. It was simply a bed against the wall with her clothes hanging on a clothes rack. There were very few pictures on the wall or anything that made that room look like a home. I couldn't believe this is where she lived. I tried to walk around the facility, but my heart felt like it was being broken in slow motion. I looked into the rooms for a sign of life, and all I could see was death. I didn't understand why she was there. I didn't understand why she wasn't with one of her children. I didn't understand why we had left her there to sit and wait. She looked like a prisoner.

I had planned on staying awhile to talk with her, but I really didn't know what to say. All my grandmother seemed to be capable of saying was, "Thank you. Thank you so much for all you've done. Thanks a million." She would interchange these thank yous, and the only thing I could see her look at was the red nail polish my sister had applied months ago. It was badly worn, but she still looked at her hands and continued to thank me. I don't know if she thought I was my sister or that we had done something for her. I tried to ask her why she was thanking me, but I only got more thank yous. I told her that we were leaving and that I was going to hug her. As I bent down, I felt her squeeze me back. I was leary of scaring her. My mother bent down and went to kiss her. My grandmother looked slightly frightened, but she puckered her lips anyway and hugged my mom.

I wondered if she is somewhere in that mind of hers, trapped, and unable to get out. I wondered if there was some part of her screaming for us not to leave her. It has to be paralyzing in some capacity to her. I cannot imagine her life in that chair. To sit, day in and day out, waiting. I wanted so badly to take her with us. I believed she could get better if she were surrounded by family and not strangers. My father said the last time that he visited her that she had brief moments where she seemed like her old self, but they were few and far between. I wanted so badly to see one of those moments, but I didn't think it would happen in that home.

My friend Marty takes care of his mother some times. His sister is the main caretaker, and she has two children of her own to raise and a husband. He tries to help one night during the week and maybe pull a weekend night to help her out. Any time that he talks about the situation, he gets very agitated and says, "I have to stop talking about this. It upsets me." He hates taking care of his mother. He tired to quit helping his sister, but after a few weeks, he felt like he couldn't abandon her like that.

It seems strange to me that we have come so far as a society to improve our life span. We're living decades longer than the generations before us. I watched my grandfather lose his health and now my grandmother is losing her mind. I don't understand what good it does to continue life without the quality. I kind of feel like the elderly are this dirty little secret we just want to push away. We don't want to surround ourselves with the heartbreak of watching them deteriorate, so we push them out of the way, out of our minds. We put them in nursing homes only to visit on a passing holiday to maybe only make ourselves feel like we did something.

My grandmother is sitting in some room, six hours away from me just waiting. Something in my heart tells my that today may be the last time that I ever see her alive, and with that, I just felt my heart ache.


Let's Not Question It

I go through this dilemma probably every other week. Working in a bigger department with ten printers or so requires an atrocious amount of copy paper, and I swear NO ONE is capable of filling up the reserve we keep next to the printers. If it runs out, you have to go to one of the empty offices where the paper is actually delivered. If the reserve runs out, there are some people capable of walking in there, but they only return with maybe one box of paper which goes directly to the printer in need. And I can only handle so much of this, so I always end up filling the reserve, which requires I lug out the dolly in my three-inch heels and pile on about sixty pounds of paper, usually requiring at least two trips, possibly more. (I metioned the three-inch heels, right?) I do load about twenty drawers in the copiers first because why fill up the reserve if you need it in the copier, right? Logic. Yep.

So after I was tired of squatting in my three-inch heels, I decided to fill up some more legal paper in another copier. I left 10 reams (2 boxes) on the ground. And that's when the most beautiful thing took place. Marty, my new hero, who is shaped like a walking stick (the insect), just walks over to the boxes and cuts them open. He then starts to empty the paper and place it into the reserve. And I'm just standing there with my mouth agape, and he's just talking to me like nothing magical is happening. Tears started to form in my eyes, and my heart started to swell. It was like there was this gravitational force between the copier paper and Marty, and I didn't want to interrupt their flow. After a few seconds, when the blood rushed back to my head and I could breathe again, I said, "Marty, I want to propose marriage you, and I know you're gay, but dude, no one does that. And you went to that paper with such a purpose." And Marty replied, "Yeah, I don't know why I did that. I just did." And the more that I poured love on him, the more he said, "Yeah, that was strange. Why did I do that? Why?" and I said, "Marty, let's not question it. I'm in love with you right now. I'm even thinking I owe you lunch today."


Jason Squared

I am not one to gush love, especially openly or verbally in front of others, but I have to say that I am surrounded by some of the best humans that the planet has to offer. I have two really great guy friends in different parts of Texas. Together, they comprise most of my heart.


Get to the Good Part

Patience is something that if you don't have it, you certainly can't fake it. You can't pick it up at the store, even if you were willing to wait in line. You can't just download it from the computer, the one place that can almost respond to your requests immediately. No matter its make-up, there's nothing you can combine to produce a healthy dose of it.

I envy those of you that have it. I don't know where the hell you learned it from. Perhaps I was too busy reading ahead in class that day because I've never had an ounce of it. I was the kid that almost failed kindergarten because I went ahead on the test without waiting for the teacher's instructions. Lesson was never learned. I did it again in sixth grade, and some punk kid told on me. Those timed tests are RETARDED. If I've finished early, why do I have to WAIT on everyone else?

I've worked retail for ten years. I don't stand in lines well. When I'm behind a counter, I can work two registers. Why can't anyone else? Why is there no sense of urgency when you have six people waiting on you?

It's all I can do to fill out paperwork at the doctor's office. Sometimes, I can't listen to a song in its entirety. I will skip to the next one, while my company says, "Awe man, why'd you do that?" and my only reply is telling them that the song was almost over.

I just want you, world, to know that I can't wait on you. I try. I really do, but my patience is much thinner than most people's. It makes me fidget. I just want to shake free of it as quickly as possible. You're just going to have to accept me and know you're making me crazy in the process.