Sometimes life just sticks its big nose in and messes with you. At my age, I should be used to it,but I'm not.
My earliest memories are filled with fear. The man who raised me, my beloved Grandfather, was sick. Fear was instilled in me from a very young age.
Gramma would whisper "Shh, Grampa had a spell," and we all froze, fighting down our panic. The house was quiet, the shades drawn and he would be in his room, laying on his bed while Gramma silently went about her business of keeping watch over him and tending to us.
I was the youngest, slipping out the back door to my swing in the old Maple tree or slinking off to my room, trying to imagine what I could do to save him. Maybe if I prayed hard enough, or promised God I would be good for eternity I would be able to keep him. At five, it seemed reasonable. I wasn't sure what a 'spell' was, but I suspected it had something to do with his heart. He carried a little bottle of pills with him that he would stick under his tongue. I wanted God to stop those spells.
At eight years old, I saw him have a head on crash right in front of me. He was coming to pick me up after a Girl Scout hike to the Fish Hatchery. It started raining. Arrangements had been made that we would be picked up by our parents if that happened. I saw him wave to me as I waited on the shoulder of the road for him. The other driver was drunk, his speedometer frozen at 80 mph when they towed the mangled cars away. I stood on the side of the road, watching the whole thing unfold but unable to do anything.
Grampa's car spun like a top just feet away from me. I believed it I could get to it, I could stop it, but someone yanked me back at the last moment. When the car finally settled, I ran to the passenger door, or what was left of it. Grampa was laying across the front seat, blood gushing from his face and covered with shattered glass. His first words to me were "Are you all right?"
I was crying, digging through the broken glass for his glasses as he assured me he would be fine. He seemed broken, in so many places I didn't know what to do. Someone pulled me away and the paramedics got him out of the car and put him on a stretcher. He held my hand and I tried to get into the ambulance with him, but they wouldn't let me.
"Go home and tell your grandmother to come to the hospital," he hissed, his voice bubbly with blood. With the sound of breaking glass, screeching tires and twisting metal in my ears, I prayed. Stuck another bargain.
I was to young to know that God didn't make bargains, but I found out at seventeen.
The last time I saw him alive was at the hospital. I'd been there the day before and he was sitting up in bed, the winter sun reflecting off the snow, lighting up his room. He looked good, called me 'peanut', which he knew embarrassed me, and talked animatedly with Bill and I. The next day was a complete turn around.
I started in the door and froze. The lights were off, the drapes pulled. Grampa was hooked up to all kinds of machines and I could hear the whooshing sounds they made.
I backed up a step, than another until I was able to spin out of the doorway and collapse against the hallway wall.
"I can't go in there," I whispered, my hands over my eyes as though that could take it all away, turn the hospital room into something unseen. "I just can't."
"You have to," Bill said softly. He'd lost his father a few months earlier. He knew what I was feeling. "Suppose he saw you? Do you know how much it would hurt him to know you were here and didn't come in?"
With his hand on my back he nudged me gently into the room.
We spoke quietly, and I was glad the room was dark as Bill was nearly holding me up and tears were streaming down my face. Grampa's eyes were closed and he didn't seem to have much air, despite the oxygen. He told me he loved me. Asked Bill to take good care of me. I didn't say much, I couldn't except to say I loved him and would see him tomorrow when he was feeling better. I didn't of course. He died the next morning.
Bill is a wise man. I'm smarter, but he's wiser, if that makes sense. I'm driven by emotion, he's thoughtful and steady. He saved me from having a major regret for the rest of my life. I would not have gotten to say good-bye, tell Grampa I loved him for the last time, or kiss his cheek.
Twenty years later, Bill got sick, really sick. It was his heart. All my old fears consumed me. I was like a five year old at thirty-seven. He was stoic, strong, brave. I was paralyzed, frozen, angry. Pissed at God, and yes I know how bad that sounds, but I was. Furiously I told my kids, "don't cry to me!. You have aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, counselors at school, cry to them. I can't talk about it and I can't help you. If I start crying, I'll never stop. Go!"
Writing it now, it sounds heartless. At the time it was the only way I could cope. I was on auto-pilot. Get up, get the kids up, make breakfast, go to work, come home, make dinner, schedule tests, write, go to bed, start all over. Scream, cry, break things, swear, they were all packed away in my chest of things to do later. Talk about the Scarlet O'Hara mind set! The one thing I did do was pray. They were angry prayers, but I still did it.
He survived, despite the fact that we had a head on accident a few days before his surgery, but my fear did too. He now ticked like a clock that was somewhere across the room. I got a sound machine so I wouldn't stay awake at night listening for the ticking to stop. That would only mean one thing. I also got insomnia. My life became consumed with medical issues. If he got a serious cut, he could bleed to death. No more hunting I told him. You'd never make it out of the woods. No more going to fires, your lungs can't take it. Oh my God, you've got a cut! Don't you know that any infection can go straight to that artificial aortic valve and kill you? Can we say psycho wife?
Over the years since then, I've gotten better, until the last year, that is. I've had years of therapy and learned that fear is the devil, fear is ego, fear is trying to control the uncontrollable, fear keeps us from spirit. Yeah, I learned all that. I even got hypnotized to get the sounds of accidents out of my head while I sleep. Believe it or not, it worked. But despite all that I'm terrified.
Bill is having surgery on Thursday and I'm doing what I normally do, my M.O. I'm nauseous, frozen in panic, struggling to keep my head from exploding and acting like it's just another day. I'm spilling my guts to friends and strangers on my blog, because I can't talk to anyone I love without having a complete and total meltdown. This morning he said to me, "Are you all right? I don't want you worrying about me."
I actually laughed. "You might as well tell me not to breathe."
"I know," he smiled, "but I'm going to be all right."
I'm praying he's telling the truth.
By the way, I have a new book coming out, probably tomorrow. Effie, book three in The Marriage Market Series. I should be pimping it all over the place, but I just don't have it in me. I'm hoping some of my friends will jump on it when Blushing puts it up and plaster me all over the place.
One more thing, I'm not editing this. Yeah, I know that's bad and I promise my books have a fantastic editor, but right now, just for today, I don't care if there are any mistakes.
This page, Stevie Spouts Off, will be reserved for my rants and raves. See the teapot at the top of the page blowing it's lid? Well, sometimes that's me. I plan to use this page to vent as well as cheer, so if you like witnessing meltdowns, this might be the page for you.