“Back On My Feet” Paul McCartney 1989

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

A lot can happen in a week’s time! Some good… some not so good. Last Thursday, my surgeon told me I no longer needed my brace (Throw that brace away! Wait, that brace was WAY too expensive to throw away!) nor my crutches, unless I found myself walking a long distance. All of a sudden, I felt lost and a bit afraid – I mean, I have not walked “normally” in over six weeks. And it was obvious. I left the doctor’s office on my own 2 feet and went straight to physical therapy. My physical therapist took one look at me walking in and said “Whoa girl, we have some work to do – immediately!” My giddy-up was so far off-kilter. Imagine Grandpappy Amos from “The Real McCoys” and you have the picture. She had me warm up on the bike, exercising for the first time in 6 weeks – squats, standing on the “hurt” leg, and walking around the room with a walking stick, until I could walk somewhat normally, just very slowly. Slow has never been a pace I enjoy, but slow it is. Part of it was being a bit nervous, but a big part was that my leg forgot how to walk! Seriously! Got back to my office and walked in slowly, as if I had a book on my head – very stiffly. After all the therapy, walking around, and getting on a normal bike at the gym, my poor calf hurt. Understandably. It hasn’t been used in over 6 weeks. But I am walking y’all! I just have to keep reminding myself, “walk normally.”

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”  Theodore Roosevelt

So… with my newfound freedom (from crutches), I decided to take 2 weeks off and get away. First stop was to see my mom on Friday at her new digs (the rehab place). Got to see her in action with both physical and occupational therapy. She has to get strong enough to be able to use her walker again in order to go back to her “home.” Takes a lot to get an almost 90-year-old up and moving around a week after hip surgery (or any time for that matter!). She is tired and afraid it might hurt. And boy do I understand that fear! My younger sister and I gave our older sister the “day off” and accompanied Mom to her post-surgery appointment, where the cute doctor was pleased with her progress. He asked if she was in any pain and she said “Pain from what?” “Your hip surgery.” “Nope, not me. My hip is fine.” And when we told her she had 17 staples taken out from her hip the day before, she looked at us as if we had 2 heads. “Staples?!? Well I never.” Yep, you did Mom! You just have to laugh and roll with it. But I admit, when I saw her x-rays and the rods in her leg and hip, I almost passed out! But she is a trooper and is giving it her all, when she can stay awake! And never complains. That’s Momma for you.

Once Mom was settled back in her room, I changed into my jeans (for the first time in 6 weeks!) and headed to Charlotte to have dinner with the most important man in my life – my son, and his beautiful girlfriend. My baby was about to celebrate his 28th birthday. 28 years old! And even more special, he shares his birthday with his sweet, beautiful girlfriend. Imagine that! I met them at Haberdish, “a mill town southern kitchen and craft cocktail bar” in NODA (which I learned is North Davidson, in Charlotte-speak). I gave myself plenty of time since I was not sure exactly where I was going, and got there early enough to sit at the bar with a glass of wine. I always love sitting at the bar. Met some interesting people and talked to the bartender while waiting for my son and his girlfriend. The food was fabulous, and what a fun night we had celebrating their birthdays! Walked around after dinner and ran into some of their friends. And unbelievably, we had no rain, though I did hit some heavy rain on the way back to Winston-Salem. But I did not mind, I got to see my favorite guy and his girlfriend and celebrate their birthdays. Life is good.

“The more you love your children, the more they learn to love others.” A. D. Williams

The weekend was forecasted to be a total wash-out. Total. Rain, rain, rain. 90% chance. So the thought of my Saturday plans had a bit of a damper on them. But hey, I was heading to Chapel Hill with my cousin (also a Tar Heel fan) to do something I have not done since I was in college there – attend a baseball game at The Bosh (Boshamer Stadium). And I could not wait! She told me to bring my crutches and my Handicap Placard. Unfortunately, I never got one – should have, because I always had to park so far away to have room to open my door wide enough to get out with my crutches. I did bring my crutches though, since I figured it would be a long walk to the stadium. However, we only had to walk down a short ramp in the parking garage and lo and behold there was a line of Carolina golf carts waiting to take the handicapped and elderly right to the entrance of the game. I guess we qualified for both? Whatever, we hopped on one quickly and off we went. Luckily, the weather forecasters were wrong, dead wrong! Not only did it not rain, it was sunny. And hot. No one had sunscreen, but we all had rain ponchos! And lots of enthusiasm. It was a great game and so much fun until the 8th inning, when we fell apart. Same scenario in the 9th. And we lost. But still, it was great being in Chapel Hill surrounded by fellow Tar Heels and spending the day with my cousin! My older daughter was watching the game on TV and asked where we were sitting. Told her 3rd base line behind the Carolina dugout, and that I had on Carolina Blue. That definitely narrowed it down, right? But she found me, because I had my knee propped up on an empty seat in front of me! Had a ticket for the Sunday game, but woke up Sunday feeling the need to spend the day with Mom. So Mom and I watched the game on the TV in her room and just hung out. And Carolina won, only to lose Monday, ending their road to Omaha.

 

“I see my parents as tiny children who need love.” – Louise Hay

Now y’all, I have NEVER taken two consecutive weeks off before. So I am making the most of it! My journey started in Winston-Salem, then Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem again, and then to my final destination… the BEACH! (yep, I am back to putting those miles on my car!) Cannot tell you how great it is to be back here. Just to breathe in that sweet, salty air. The weatherman was incorrect in the washout forecast down here as well. Spent all day Monday on the beach, except for a 30 minute downpour, typical summertime beach weather. Took a bit to figure out exactly how to walk on the sand, but I managed, slowly, very slowly, reminding myself to walk normally (didn’t want to look like a total dork at the beach, plus did not want to trip!). Also rode my beach bike for 5 miles since that is basically my only form of exercise. Would love to be running, but honestly, I could not run if I wanted to – this knee is so tight. Plus I am following the rules. Although after last night’s bike ride, I went down to walk on the beach and got almost to the pier when I realized, wait, I am not supposed to be walking this much. Turned around and headed back. Slowly. Enjoyed the sunset on the way. Have not yet seen a sunrise – I have been sleeping in! Makes a difference when you don’t have to get up early to run before it gets hot – you get to sleep in.

“An ocean breeze puts a mind at ease.”

My life has finally realigned itself. Landed on my feet (so to speak). I feel as if I have been in limbo for months, a bit disjointed, waiting to be able to resume my life as I envision it. Kinda like I felt 3 years ago – in limbo, wondering how my life would be SOLO. Like then, I felt the need to push a reset button, to do something normal that made me happy… hence – the beach. Just needed a change of scenery, to get back to the place that heals my soul. I know many of you prefer the mountains, or the lake, but for me there is nothing like the ocean. Not that I am going to get IN the ocean… I just like to be close to it, to look at it, and listen to its soothing waves. When the doctor said I should NOT get in the ocean – too many chances for my knee to sustain damage, I said “no problem, Doc.” (Remember the movie JAWS?!?!)

“Medicine heals the body. The ocean heals the soul.”

Ever feel the need to hit that reset button in your life? You can do it. And you need to do it. And you need to know that even when times seem dire, the sun will always come out again. Always. So pick yourself up and decide today is going to be a great day (every day), because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – This Sunday is the Strawberry Moon – meaning the full moon of June, named for the wild strawberries that ripen in June. Oh and it’s Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day to those special Dads in our lives.

 

“One Fine Morning…” Lighthouse 1971

Welcome Back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Last week was so hot up here y’all! And from what I heard, it was hotter at the beach (not that I would know personally as I have not been able to go down there…YET!). But tomorrow is a new and wonderful day. The day I have been waiting for. My doctor’s appointment is in the morning and I hope to toss aside my partners for the last 6 weeks – my crutches and my brace. We became both friends and enemies. Luckily, they kept me upright, meaning (knock on wood), I have not fallen once. Tripped a time or two when I got going a bit too fast for my own good, but never fell. However, I have been very careful and have not taken many chances (not my normal character). Perfect example, last week I went to King Family Vineyards for Wine Wednesday and wanted to take a chair to sit out and enjoy the music. BUT… all of my chairs are in my basement with the tailgate supplies. Hmmm… should I go down the basement stairs on crutches to get a chair and lug it back upstairs? Uh…no! Not taking that chance. A month ago, my stubborn “I can do anything” self would have tried it. But my new “only one more week don’t screw it up” self said “nah, someone will surely find an extra chair for me.” Besides, it’s not like I could easily carry it. And as it turned out, my daughter set me up at a perfect table on the patio beside the musician. Such a fun night – even made some new friends and the musician gave me a CD of his music. Everyone is happy at a winery – wine does that to people! Good music, good wine, good weather… what a fun, carefree night!

However, that good mood took a dive south by the end of the week. Truly, I think being limited in what I can and cannot do, being on crutches, and everything taking me so much longer to do, finally reached the point of just… “getting old.” Not ME, but being on crutches. I had driven down Main Street towards UVA, my normal running route, and found myself envious of every runner and walker I passed. Gosh, if only I could trade places with them… I know, I know, I am so very close to tossing aside my crutches, but it will be quite a while before I hit the streets running, or even truly walking, and I do know it could be much worse, much worse. I just needed a day to wallow a bit. But still…

“When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of all the reasons to be Positive. There’s always someone who has it worse.”

Luckily, my younger daughter called and said, “Hey, do you have plans tonight? No? Ok, me either, wanna go to the movies?”  We have been talking about seeing Rocketman (the biopic Elton John movie) for months after seeing the trailer earlier in the year. “I’m on my way home and will swing by and pick you up – let’s go get a glass of wine beforehand.” Gosh I love my kids! And so we did. Sat at the bar, got a couple of appetizers and a glass of wine before the movie. And what a great movie it was – I learned a lot about Elton John’s childhood and even though I knew he was talented, I did not realize just how talented he was/is. If you like Elton and his music, you need to go see this movie. Next up for us is Yesterday – about a world without The Beatles. “Imagine” that! My younger daughter is a huge Beatles fan (just like her uncle!). She has coveted my older daughter’s Beatles doll collection, given to her when she was about 6 or 7 by, you guessed it, her Beatle-loving uncle!

The next evening dear friends had me over for dinner. Not only delicious, but lots of laughter and fun. Love my friends too! And just like that, my funk was gone. I always know that when things get me down, it will not last long, someone will be there to pick me back up. So thankful for all of these people in my life!

“A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.”  Winnie the Pooh

This is Raymond y’all. Everyone loves Raymond…After having said goodbye to their own sweet dogs, my sister and brother-in-law fostered Raymond several years ago when the no-kill shelter that rescued him sent out pleas for temporary fostering due to the prediction of a big snowstorm. My brother-in-law happened to be in VA during that time and went by to help out by taking a dog home. He chose Raymond, a boxer mix who was rescued after being used as a bait dog for fighting. Talk about being in a low place – poor Raymond was a trembling mess, afraid of everyone and everything. Never barked. But that winter day when my brother-in-law put him in the back of his car in a soft warm bed was the luckiest day of sweet Raymond’s life! Needless to say, Raymond found his fur-ever home. Took some patience on both sides to establish a trusting environment, but they did. No one knows exactly how old Raymond is, but my sister and brother-in-law intend to make the rest of Raymond’s life, the best of his life. To say Raymond lucked up is putting it mildly – he landed in the perfect home, where he is treated like a king. With only a couple of teeth, he feasts on Costco oven-roasted chicken and canned “Paw Lickin’ Chicken” which is, after all, gluten free! Yep, Raymond is the envy of all the dogs back in his old “hood” and in the current neighborhood as well. I mean, look at Raymond, I don’t think anyone could have gotten much “lower” than him, but in one day, his life turned around and he became King of the Castle!

“So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which as been denied.”  Helen Keller

And in one day, tomorrow, I am thinking I will be alright once again. My poor doctor… I have a long list of questions for him. Last appointment, he made himself comfortable while answering the questions on my list, and this time, the list is much longer. I need direct answers as I take everything literally. If he says to me, “you might be able to run a mile in a month,” you can bet I’ll be out there on July 5th running that mile. Actually, I am a bit nervous about giving up my crutches cold turkey. Just walk out of his office carrying my crutches? Will I be able to trust my knee? Will it hurt? It will be nice standing in the shower again (thankful for the shower seat I borrowed), I mean I have not showered at the club since surgery – I can’t stand up for the shower, plus I can’t carry my athletic bag while on crutches. I can’t even carry my backpack in to work while on crutches. I am looking forward to getting back to that place of comfort and normalcy. One.More.Day!!!

Last night with crutches on my porch!

“Always keep your head up because if it’s down, you won’t be able to see the Blessings that have been placed in your life.”

We all have our struggles and those “down days.” Many times it is not evident how much someone is struggling. It’s ok to wallow a bit, but don’t let it control your days. Look at all the positives in your life. We are all blessed more than we can imagine. Remember that good times are always just around the corner. So hang on and make the most of every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Thank you for the kind notes about my sweet Momma. She is doing well and is rehabbing her hip with PT and OT. Heading down to see her this weekend! Plus another fun weekend in store – to be in the next blog!

 

“Love me tender, love me sweet…” Elvis Presley 1956

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

It was kind of a scary week y’all. I woke up early Thursday morning from sleeping in my recliner (yep still sleeping there for another week!) to a barrage of text messages between my sisters. My older sister was at the ER with Mom who had fallen and broken her hip. She had gotten the call at 3 AM but waited until 6 AM to text us. One of our biggest fears – you always hear how bad it is for the elderly when they break a hip (or anyone for that matter!). Threw some clothes together and my younger daughter came over to help me pack and get my bag into the car, along with my backpack and laptop (darn these crutches!). Headed out to NC when my sisters called and said to wait and come Friday. Thankfully, my sisters were there with Mom, because y’all, it is NOT good if there is no one to look after the elderly. They were scheduling surgery for Mom when my younger sister (the nurse) said they could not because Mom was on blood thinners. “OH… ok we need to wait a day or so.” Uh, you think?!?!? I mean, it is right there in her record and my older sister had already told them.

Got to Winston-Salem early Friday morning and after walking what seemed a mile on crutches from the parking garage to Mom’s room (Forsyth Hospital is now so BIG), I settled in and stayed with Mom so my sisters could take care of things on their end. After all, I was there with no distractions or other responsibilities, and they do everything for her all the time. Mom and I hung out in her room Friday, with her in the hospital bed and me in a great recliner (who knew!) beside her. Carolina baseball was playing in the ACC tournament down the road in Durham, so we tuned in to catch them on TV. (We won!) Mom never once complained about the pain or anything.

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” Mother Teresa

Surgery was scheduled for Saturday morning. Beforehand, they asked Mom a lot of questions – her name, DOB, what year it was, if she knew where she was and what was happening to her. Her answers were entertaining – she gave her name, birthday without the year (would not believe she was 89), thought the year was 1998 (must have been a good year – she was 69 then!), said she was in the doctor’s “office,” and that she was having her tonsils out. Hmmm. When the next nurse asked her the same questions, she again started to say the year was “19,” but before she could say 1998, the nurse said, “yes it is 2019!”… don’t think that was going to be Mom’s answer, but whatever. My sisters and I walked to the cafeteria (which was almost half a mile from Mom’s room!) for breakfast, and to wait for Mom to come out of surgery. Our sweet cousin came by to check on Mom and brought her flowers. Surgery went well – doctor said they chiseled out her bone and put a rod in her leg – OUCH! She came back to her room and I settled back in the recliner and cut the UNC game on. It was a 4-hour ordeal but ended in another win! We watched most of it but both of us dozed off and on!

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” Tia Walker

The toughest thing was Sunday morning when the Physical Therapy team got Mom up and had her move from the bed to “my” recliner. I could barely watch, knowing it was extremely painful for her. But you know what? As scared as she was to move, and as painful as it was, she never once complained, screamed in pain, yelled, or cussed. But her face said it all as she winced in pain. This almost 90-year-old is one tough lady. Go Momma! And also a very polite and gracious lady as she thanked them once she was in the recliner and thanked each nurse when they gave her a shot, medicine, water, food. After all, good manners are imperative. Our Momma. Now you know where we “Holcomb Girls” get our strength, grit, and grace (and manners?).

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”  Maya Angelou

Whew! Mom and I watched Carolina play baseball again Sunday afternoon, cheering loudly when we won the ACC Tournament! My nephew called to make sure kids were allowed on Mom’s hall and said they were coming up. I got my Jack and Izzie fix! Plus, Mom had not yet met sweet Izzie who is only 10 weeks old – that was the most special moment of the whole day. Family is what it is all about.

“Family is the most important thing in the world.”  Princess Diana

By the way, I never saw one nurse playing cards (take note Senator Walsh!). Most were so helpful, one even brought me a warm blanket because I was FREEZING. We became fast friends!

“The chance to give back some of the love and compassion and tender care to the parents who were there for us… is truly a gift.”  Gail Sheehy

So many of my friends have lost their parents. My sisters and I lost our dad in 2000. Let’s face it, we are now at “that age.” And so many are taking care of parents, my sisters for example. It’s not easy. And it’s not easy being so far away. Many of our parents are not as we remember them – their long term memories are there, but forget about any short term memories. My Mom asked us several times if her mom and dad would be coming to the hospital. We said that they were not traveling much these days but we would let them know. We “miss” our Mom, but are thankful she is still around, in relatively good health, good spirits, and still so sweet. One day this will be us. My oldest child has already given this some thought. She plans to pool our funds, buy a house for my sisters and brother-in-law and me, and hire good people to take care of us so that we can all live together. I wouldn’t mind that! And it makes pretty good sense!

Cheers! We needed a break!

“When spending time with your parents seems like too much effort, remember, one day all you’ll have are the memories.”

Several things came to mind this week:

  • No matter how old we are, we all need and want our mommas.
  • It’s scary to think that one day my sisters and I will be “orphans”, that our mom will no longer be here.
  • There will always be obstacles and challenges in life and how you deal with them defines your character.
  • We are all tougher than we think we are.
  • We should handle people with class and kindness.

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Speaking of handling people with class and kindness, did you do anything in remembrance of our vets on Memorial Day? I learned something very interesting which y’all might have known, but I did not, the difference between Armed Forces Day, Veteran’s Day, and Memorial Day:

  • Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday of May) – For those who currently wear the uniform.
  • Veteran’s Day (November 11th ) – For those who used to wear the uniform.
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday of May) – For those who never made it out of uniform.

The hospital had a memorial of sorts for Memorial Day – “the Missing Man Table” – the chair is empty to remember the missing.

So take care of your parents, siblings, family. Respect our elderly. Find your inner strength and put on a brave face. Share love and kindness wherever you can, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

Somewhere over the (double) rainbow…

PS only 1 more week on crutches! Will I remember how to walk?!?!

“I Will Survive…” Gloria Gaynor 1978

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I am often asked about regrets. Are you? Of course, I have been asked this more often in the last 3 years than ever before (if ever before!). Do you ever think “what if?” I mean, what if I had not transferred from UNC to Wake Forest? Wouldn’t have met my ex, wouldn’t have my beautiful children, wouldn’t have met the godparents to my oldest child. What if we had not moved to Charlottesville and instead, remained in Winston-Salem? We would have been closer to my family (physically), my kids would have grown up with their cousin (Jack’s dad), we would have paid in-state tuition! But I never would have found my “tribe” up here, my kids would not have gone to true neighborhood schools where they could walk or ride their bikes to school, and I would not have this job I love with people I love to see everyday.

“Never regret something that once made you smile.”

Speaking of my tribe, my former next door neighbor of 17 years came and stayed with me last week. It was like therapy as we stayed up talking, and talking, and talking well past 1 am every night (and could have gone on for hours more)! Obviously, we had a lot to catch up on. Late night sessions are not unusual for us – we planned many an elementary class party and school event late at night – we are both “night owls.” And more of our tribe (our “old neighbors”) came for dinner one night – easier to visit here than in a restaurant. Wasn’t until I had invited everyone that I remembered I am limited in fixing dinner or even setting the table! But everyone brought appetizers, salad, dessert and I ordered pizza to be delivered, and we had a great night (and my younger daughter came earlier in the week to set my table and to check the upstairs bathroom to make sure there was no ring in the toilet since I cannot go upstairs!) Though I miss my old neighbors, I don’t regret moving to my new house – the old house held too many memories and would have been too much for me to handle SOLO. No regrets there.

Our neighborhood Tribe!

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”

So what do I regret? Well, maybe I should have made my kids be more responsible for things that I did for them. My younger daughter and I discussed this last week. She was talking about a friend who took himself to college and moved himself in. Heaven forbid I could NEVER do that! I mean, I didn’t even want to leave them when I moved them into college. My oldest didn’t want me to leave either. Middle child was ready for me to leave, didn’t even need me to help make up her bed! And youngest was fine with me leaving (I was NOT!). Maybe I should have given them more chores? They had to make up their beds every day and clear the table after dinner, but truly, their afternoons/nights/weekends were spent filled with homework and sports. I felt it was their “job” to be successful in school, extracurriculars, and sports. Did I make their lives too easy? Maybe. But I don’t regret it – I loved doing things for them. Someone left their cleats at home? Mom went back home to get them and took them to school. Someone forgot it was spirit day and they needed a flower bouquet for school? Mom went to the store searching for a perfect bouquet to drop off at school. Forgot a lunchbox? Here it is. Homework left at home, no problem. I know, I know… But that is me. And that is how my momma was. I would do it all over again. And still do! No regrets there.

“I  never regret anything I’ve done in my past because it led to who I am today and who I’ll become tomorrow.”

In my “typical mom” fashion, I always want to see my children on their birthdays. Last week’s blog ended with a birthday shout out to my oldest daughter. My younger daughter and I headed to Richmond Friday night to celebrate with the birthday girl, my son-in-law and of course play with sweet Paige. We had a great dinner and visit, but we went through a terrible thunder storm on the way home (while singing Elton John and Billy Joel songs at the top of our lungs!). No regrets there.

And Saturday, since it was such a nice day (sunny and 90!), and my younger daughter was working there, I went out to King Family Vineyards to get a glass of wine, people watch, and work on my blog. It was packed! Remembered that it was UVA graduation weekend and I watched as families celebrated with their graduates. Even made friends with 2 moms of graduates, one from Chicago, one from California. Being on crutches brings lots of people to you, especially when you cannot carry your own wine glass! No regrets there – not letting these crutches hold me back!

“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence & face your future without fear.”

The biggest question always goes back to the demise of my marriage. Do I regret my marriage? Never, it was really good for a long time. And I have my beautiful children. Would it have ended had we not moved up here? Honestly, I don’t think so. Not that it matters now! But do I regret it ending? No. And I can honestly say this now. Maybe not 3 years ago, but now. If you follow this blog, you know how far I have come and how much fun I have had these last 3 years. And how much I have discovered about myself, from loving living by myself to knowing I will survive SOLO. Plus I have spent more time with my kids, reconnected with my “tribe” far and wide, visited many, many vineyards, gone to a ton of movies, and traveled a lot. As my kids always comment to me, Mom you would not being doing half of these things if your circumstances were different. So true.

That’s my favorite thing in life: having my family around me and watching my kids talking, laughing, just enjoying being together. So I cannot think of one thing in my life that I regret… well, maybe ONE thing. I regret driving my new car into DEEP standing water. Lesson learned… turn around, don’t drown (or total your new car)!

Birthday girl!

“Just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.”

Don’t waste your time regretting things in your past. They are just that, the past. Concentrate on the present, and make the most of each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS  Only 2 more weeks on crutches y’all!

“No more regrets. No turning back. I’m moving on!”

Rocking the motorized cart! On the wine aisle and no wine?

“Mamma Mia” Abba 1975

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

How’s your mom and ‘em? (Southern for how’s your family?) Is your momma still living? Did you get to see her on her day of honor – Mother’s Day? I did not get to see my mom. Not quite sure about driving that far with only one good leg. But I will get down to see her soon. My sister visited her and face timed with me. Our sweet momma. I have never doubted her love for me or my sisters. She has loved us and her grandchildren fiercely. Like all moms, ours sacrificed so much for us and raised us to be independent, compassionate, strong women. Funny, I never truly realized how much she loved me, or how much she did for me, until I became a mother.

“I used to think that children were given to me so I could mold them and shape them, actually it’s the reverse. Children were given to me so they could mold me and shape me.”

I always thought my “job” as a mother was to “mold and shape” my children – to bring them up in a loving, caring, and faithful home, which I think I succeeded in doing. But truly, my children have molded and shaped my life. I never knew unconditional love until I became a mother. For the first time in my life, I knew I would lay down my life for someone, well 3 someones! My children made me a better person. I needed to set an example for them and as they did not want to disappoint me, neither did I want to disappoint them, especially as they got older. And I did not want to embarrass them. Well, maybe that last part is not totally true. I did and still do embarrass them at times, not on purpose of course!

“When you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”  Mitch Albom

My kids have taught me a lot in their “young lives.”  We talk about some pretty controversial issues, some that we do not always agree on, but respect and accept each other’s opinion. They have taught me to keep an open mind and be less judgmental. And I have learned A LOT from my kids, from how to use Waze on my IPhone, stream UNC baseball games on my TV, to what some “ways of the world” actually are. And I am thankful for that. So thankful!  If I can’t remember a password, I call them. If I don’t know what something means, I ask them. After they pick themselves up off the floor laughing, they explain it all to me. One of the biggest things I have learned recently? I am not afraid of dogs! I know, I know, I know… but I was a bit afraid until sweet Paige, my granddawg, came into my life. And my older daughter, who would have panicked at dog hair earlier, now relishes being covered in it. My sweet children convinced and showed me that I can have fun and enjoy life SOLO. And with them!

“Hanging out with your grown-up kids is like visiting the best part of your life.”

My daughters have become my friends. I am still their mother, and they still come to me for advice and comfort, but we are also friends. We enjoy doing things together whether it be mani/pedis, running, cycle classes, movies, trips, or just going on walks and talking. My older daughter introduced me to the love of dogs and tailgating, and my younger daughter introduced me to the love of wine and Moscow Mules!

“I asked God for a best friend and he gave me daughters.”

Then there’s my sweet son. Oh my gosh y’all, I am crazy about my baby boy. Well, actually he is almost 28, but he will always be my baby. He is tall and handsome and so kind. His girlfriend recently told me that her sisters said she had trained him well after he did something so sweet for her, and she told them, “he came off the rack just like that.” My “Bud” makes me smile every time I see his name pop up on my phone or email.

“I asked God to send me a man who will always love me. So he gave me a son.”

Yes, my kids fill my life with happiness and pride. I am so proud of them, like most moms are. They are compassionate, honest, smart, hardworking, and of course good looking! I read that kids get their smarts from their Mothers, so I must be brilliant because my kids are very smart! Even though they will always be my babies, I love the adult relationship we share now – they are so fun to be with!

My people!

Speaking of which, remember my secret crush? You know, the one I meet twice a year in the aisles of Barnes and Noble? Well that opportunity presented itself again last Friday night in Richmond. And this time, my older daughter came to chaperone. And to carry my books – can’t do that on crutches! We certainly made an interesting pair being entertained by David Baldacci in that Barnes and Noble: me on crutches with an out-of-commission leg and her in a sling with an out-of-commission arm (she had surgery on her wrist last week to insert plates just like her momma’s wrist). We needed a wagon to carry all of the books I was bringing to get signed, but we settled for a very strong bag. Luckily she does not have an out-of-commission shoulder! Looking forward to our next rendezvous in November! Funny thing, I gave my younger sister Baldacci’s last book for Christmas. She read it and became his newest fan, continuing to read about 10 more of his books and now cannot wait for this latest one, which of course I had signed for her. I love giving books as gifts!

Another thing you can’t do while on crutches: pick strawberries! But I did not want to miss out on getting strawberries for my smoothies this year. So, Saturday morning, before the habitual rains descended on our weekend again, my younger daughter took me to Chiles for some strawberry picking. We were not disappointed as we picked 14 pounds of very large, very sweet strawberries! Luckily, I was not the one carrying our strawberries! And they gave us 2 fudge-dipped strawberries for Mother’s Day. My daughter put the berries in the back of my car and headed to work as I headed home to meet my older daughter and son-in-law, who were taking my son-in-law’s mother and me out to lunch for Mother’s Day. We had fun catching up (mother-in-law to mother-in-law) and visiting with our married children, and of course Paige, our granddawg.

 

I spent my Mother’s Day by sleeping in (back in my recliner), and meeting some friends at King Family Vineyards in the afternoon. My daughter was working and I decided it would be fun to at least be near one of my kids, and it was! Amazingly, it did not rain and we were able to sit outside and visit over a bottle of wine, warm bread, and cheese. And my day ended with my younger daughter taking me to the movies (complete with a hot dog!), because as she says, that is what we do!

“Your mom is your Mom… Nobody can replace her… Nobody should replace her… Nobody can do half the things she does, or has done, for you… Nobody can compare to her… Only God can love you more than she does…. She’s only one person… But she’s the person that matters the most.”

There are all kinds of Moms… you don’t have to have given birth to be a mom to someone. Yet Mother’s Day is hard for many people, those who look to heaven for their moms, those who look to heaven for their children, and those who want so desperately to be a mom. It truly takes a tribe to raise children these days. We women are all “moms” in some form or fashion. My sisters are moms to my kids (aunts as well) and same for me with my nephew and his wife. I am a “work mom” to many of the younger people I work with. And I love it! So whether or not you are a mom, let children mold and shape your life, while you also mold and shape theirs. The world will be a better place. Don’t wait, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS I became a mother 34 years ago this Friday. One of the 3 happiest days of my life! Happy birthday to my oldest child, who talks to her momma several times every day just to check on her. Love you girl!

My beautiful daughter!

 

 

 

“A Whole New World…” Aladdin 1992

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

1992…my son was a year old, my oldest was 7, and my middle child was 4 years old. Aladdin was their favorite movie and my younger daughter knew every word to every song, sung by every character. She still does. Last Friday she and I went to a 5th and 6th grade production of Aladdin Jr. We were there with a family we feel like we’re part of to watch and support the star – Aladdin! And he did not disappoint. Singing his solos, reciting his lines, hamming it up – he was GREAT! All of these kids far surpassed any expectation we had going in. And my younger daughter sang along under her breath the whole time! “A whole new world…a dazzling place I never knew…”

“Our” Aladdin and his special family were forced into “a whole new world” 2 years ago when they lost a beloved member. Life can be so unfair, but it does go on. We may struggle, but are filled with a faith that propels us forward, one step at a time. And this family has proven this with much love and support. So much so that we took up about 4 rows of seats at the production starring this special 5th grade soccer player and now actor. A STAR is born!

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Three years ago next week marks my own entry into “a whole new world.” After facing the reality of what my future would be, I forged ahead, concentrating on my children and myself. After all, divorce affects every member of the family. Along the way, I discovered many things, the first being that no one can make you happy but yourself. Realized that I alone would determine what my future would hold and decided that it would be fun and full (and full of fun!). That was my goal – not to waste my days crying over what might have been or what should have been, but looking forward to what might be. And I think I have succeeded pretty well.

This is my 105th blog which means we are celebrating 2 years of SOLO at SIXTY today. WOOHOO! Talk about “a whole new world”! I started this blog a year after finding myself SOLO, as an avenue of moving forward in my new world, putting my thoughts and feelings together, in hopes that others who experience a loss might feel as if they are not alone in this journey. And to share the quotes that I have collected over the years (and continue to collect). Plus it gave me a reason to write, which I have always wanted to do. And thanks to all y’all (Southern for more than just y’all), SOLO at SIXTY still appears every Wednesday afternoon.

“The hardest walk is walking alone, but it’s also the walk that makes you the strongest.”

We all have to overcome hardships in our lives. It is inevitable. No one, not a single person, will go through life without facing challenges. Part of life. Helps us grow, build character, and appreciate our lives. I feel as if I have built A LOT of character with my knee surgery. Two weeks down, 4 to go on crutches! Had my follow-up appointment this week and the doctor was very pleased with the results – meniscus reattached and “bone filler” stabilized the knee. Disappointed to learn that I will NOT be running the Women’s 4-miler as part of our Mother/Daughter team this year… first year I have missed in over 10 years! For the past 8 years, my younger daughter and I have run this in memory of my sweet childhood friend who lost her battle with cancer. But I WILL be back next year.

Take me for a walk please!

“You can’t make a cloudy day a sunny day, but you can embrace it and decide it’s going to be a good day after all.”  Jane Lynch

A whole new world… finally, I was able to sleep in my bed instead of the recliner (which is very comfortable)! Sunday night, after struggling to fall asleep, I decided I needed a change of scenery. Luckily, I conquered the stairs in physical therapy last week, so I discovered a way to use a step while on crutches to get up in my bed. However, the real reason I could not fall asleep was because I had slept so much Saturday night… like, passed out from 5:30 pm until Sunday morning! My younger daughter and I went to the Taste of Monticello Wine Festival downtown Saturday afternoon. There were 20 wineries offering tastings, 2-3 wines per table. Yep, I was on crutches tasting wines. Asked my daughter if she thought we should get a wheelchair for me and she said, no way, you are more stable than anyone here with “4 legs” on crutches. And I was. But I hit my limit and said I could not taste one more wine (and remain upright)! My daughter put me in an Uber and I headed for home where I got in my recliner to rest my eyes before the Kentucky Derby. Slept through it. Slept through the Hallmark Movie. Slept through Adam Sandler on SNL. Slept through until 8:30 am Sunday morning. But I had a blast at the wine festival!

“Life is full of give and take, give thanks and take nothing for granted.”

I’ve made some discoveries in my new “limited-mobility” world. I took a lot for granted, especially just getting around. I mean, I can’t even buy my own groceries. My younger daughter took me to the grocery store Sunday afternoon, came home and unloaded them (not too many), unloaded my dishwasher (can’t do that either), and took my trash can to the curb (impossible task on crutches). Then she came back Monday night to bring my trash can back in, water my plants, and set my table for a dear friend bringing dinner the following night. I have figured out how to do a lot of things by myself (showering, driving, laundry) but some things are truly not safe. Patience is required. And I have a new appreciation for the little things, like conquering stairs. And accepting kindness offered not only by those close to you, but by perfect strangers. So many people have held a door for me, offered to carry something, offered to hold an umbrella over me, told me about their surgeries and how they are now better than before. Little things add up. I move slower and notice more. I appreciate it when I am able to move to the next step. Last week I rocked the Nustep – the equipment used by many of our “elder” members in the club, and this week I was able to move up to the recumbent bike, though at a low level. I’ll take it. I have to admit, I am jealous of those members coming out of cycle class sweaty, exhausted, having had a fun, hard and challenging class. I crave being sweaty! I keep telling myself… it will come… 4 more weeks.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

Think about the hardships you have faced and conquered. What did you discover in your “whole new world”? I truly believe there is something good in the hardships we face – just have to be patient at times to discover what it is. I survived something I thought might totally defeat me, and continue to thrive. My plan is to face my whole new world with all the grace and gusto I can muster. And treasure each day I wake up, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS  Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas and substitute mommas out there. Nobody loves you like your momma!

 

“I Can See Clearly Now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way…” Johnny Nash 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Goodbye April showers, Hello May flowers!

Spring has finally brought May flowers!

WHEW! What a week it has been! Surgery went well on my knee and they were able to reconnect my meniscus and “cement” the stress fracture. Pain was tolerable and I was able to stop taking the BIG pain meds within 2 days. Still cannot figure out where the “high” is on those drugs! I was so thankful to stop taking them. Had physical therapy 2 days after surgery and was happy to find myself ahead of the game, just by being able to lift my own leg up on the table! My physical therapist (also a friend) removed the brace and took the bandages off – I was afraid to look, thinking it might make me queasy, but I looked, and I was ok. There were 4 small areas with 1-2 stitches, but no blood and no yuck! Knee was a bit swollen as we slowly bent my knee and extended my leg, all without much pain. I credit this to working out y’all – it is so important in our aging years to be in shape – you never know what obstacles and challenges may appear in your life, so be ready and be healthy. As much as my daughter and I hated the exercise our trainer had us do where you sit, extend one leg and raise yourself on the other leg – I am thankful we had to do them. Helped me get up and on crutches! Not to mention all the balance exercises we did on the Bosu ball. I left PT with a list of daily exercises from flexing my ankle to bending my knee.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

As I said last week, my worst fear about becoming SOLO came true – getting sick or having surgery and dealing with it alone. But I learned something very valuable – we are never totally alone in this world. I had offers of help from so many family and friends, from food, to “babysitting,” to errands, to coming over if I find that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Of course THAT friend would take pictures before helping me up and share them everywhere! So thankful for all of the help and offers. My younger daughter took me for surgery and spent the night on the sofa while I slept in my recliner (my temporary, yet very comfortable bed for the next 5 weeks). She set an alarm to wake us up every couple of hours to give me one of several pain meds to keep ahead of the pain. My older sister came up Wednesday to relieve my younger daughter so she could go to work. We had a fun couple of days – lots of laughs as she says she is not the “nursemaid” in the family, but believe me, she did a great job. Unfortunately for her, I had taken 2 oxycodone Wednesday morning in case the pain was bad when the nerve block wore off… and… I got sick. We handled it and that was the only time I took 2, and only time I got sick. She took me to physical therapy Thursday and then walked with me over to my office to say hello to my team. She refilled my tea and water cups endlessly (I am a big drinker) as well as the ice pack for my knee. She held her breath every time I insisted on standing up on my own. She also drank wine in front of me when I was on meds! She brought her paints and painted a beautiful beach scene for me, because I was supposed to be at the beach this whole week and instead found myself going under the knife. That beach scene will keep me focused on not overdoing it, but following the directions to a “T” so that I can get down to the beach in June. She left Friday morning after I successfully had my first shower (while she again held her breath, for many reasons!).

“There are plenty of obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one.”  Ralph Marston

Once I found myself alone on Friday, it was all up to me to manage. Yes, I had managed okay on my own, trying to do for myself while someone was here, but, someone was here. There’s definitely a difference when you find yourself alone. A little bit scary! WOW, so many actions we take for granted daily really come to the forefront when your mobility is limited. I was proud of myself for being able to make my own lunch and dinner, until it came time to eat. I couldn’t carry my plate while on crutches! Had to eat right where I cooked. Got a bit creative for other tasks. It’s amazing how crafty we can get when left to our own devices. A paper towel holder was used to reach the end of the blinds cord, a knife sharpener was used to “hook” a soup mug, while I used a beach bag to carry my drinks and ice packs from the kitchen to my recliner. But there are many things I cannot do – cannot buy my groceries because I can’t push a buggie, cannot pull weeds in my natural area, cannot pick strawberries (younger daughter said she would take me and pick for me), cannot roll my trash can out or back into my garage. This is where the offers of help come to play.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

For the first time since I moved into my house 3 years ago (SOLO), I found myself at home day in and day out for several days (6 if you are counting, and I AM). What to do, what to do? Well, not much! As my grandmother would say, “can you do less than nothing?” And that, my friends, is a big challenge for me. I mean, I spend a majority of my time at the office or one of the clubs working out. But I needed to just be still and rest my knee. So I slept. A lot. Definitely more than usual. Not to rub it in for those of you at work, but I slept in until after 9 am some days! And took naps, lots of them. Who knew a person could sleep so much? I kept up with my work email, ran some reports, worked on some blog ideas, did some laundry, and that flat wore me out – what’s with that? Went back to my trusty recliner and cut the TV on. WOW, Matlock is still coming on in repeats on the Hallmark Mystery channel! Who knew? And Victor and Nikki Newman are still on The Young and the Restless (aka Y&R). I haven’t watch a soap opera in years. Took me back to my college days. My very talented niece (still my niece even though I am no longer married into that family) is a songwriter in Nashville (graduating from college in 2 weeks) and wrote a song that was being performed on The Young and the Restless last Friday, so I watched, only to discover some things never change – many of the same people are still on there, just older!

I must admit that I did enjoy being “still,” which is very unusual for me. I have not done this in forever, as I always have something going on if I am not going to the beach. Speaking of the beach, I missed our annual beach homeowners meeting and get together. I look forward to that every year – such a fun time getting together with all of my “beach neighbors.” Next year… and of course, later this summer.

Perfect view from my recliner…

“You carry on no matter what are the obstacles. You simply refuse to give up – and, when the going gets tough, you get tougher. And, you win.” Vince Lombardi

My older daughter came Saturday, stopping by Whole Foods for me on her way in. She watered all of my plants and took her momma for a walk. It was a gorgeous day and I just wanted to be outside. And I met a new neighbor moving in, and discovered we have mutual friends. After my daughter left, I watched the UNC vs. UVA baseball game, and fixed my dinner of salmon, baked sweet potato and zucchini. Ah… so good, but do I have to stand here and eat it?!?! Hmmm… there has to be a way to get this plate from one side of my kitchen to the other. So, inch by inch (literally) I scooted my plate around my countertops, by the sink, over the stove, while I moved on crutches until I (and my plate) reached the other side and I was actually able to sit down and enjoy my dinner at the bar, a bit exhausted. Got back in my favorite recliner, and watched the BEST Hallmark movie, “Love takes Flight”, and received a facetime call from a couple of my cheerleader friends. Life is good.

Sunday my younger daughter came by after her soccer game and took her momma for a walk (my kids don’t want me to do this by myself yet!). She also gathered my trash and put my container out at the end of my driveway for Monday morning’s pick up. She came again Monday night for another walk and to bring my trashcan back in, but a neighbor beat her to it.

The weekend went so well for me, that I decided Monday was time for a change of scenery, and I went to work. Since I have been sleeping so late, I overslept. (ha!) Honestly, my recliner is very comfy. Woke up early when my first alarm went off, but somehow went back to sleep for another hour. It was my first time driving so it took a bit of maneuvering to get in my car – had to put my seat all the way down and back to where I could not see over the steering wheel to get my leg in! Trust me, I did not drive this way. Back to the memorized position until time to get out and once again, had to reposition my seat. I was so happy to see my team and was surprised with Princess Goldfish (did you know there was such a thing?), a lovely flower, and a Retro Frigidaire can cooler so I don’t have to go far for my diet DP! Stayed longer than I had planned so it was back to the recliner with ice on my knee when I got home. But, I felt like my “old” self. Thankful and grateful for all the blessings in my life.

“The two things in life you are in total control over are your attitude and your effort.” Billy Cox

So be prepared for challenges and obstacles that will undoubtedly appear in your life, physically and emotionally. As you age, make every effort to be as healthy as you can. Sixty isn’t the new Forty for nothing y’all! Don’t take your health, or your abilities for granted, and be mindful of all of your blessings. Trust me, you are blessed in more ways than you can imagine. And make the most of every single day y’all, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS One week on crutches down, 5 to go! WOOHOO! It will fly by… right?!? Oh and did you know that today, May 1st, is Batman day? Unofficially, but it is thought that May 1, 1939 marked the first appearance of the caped crusader!