Author Archives: mysecondplana

About mysecondplana

A woman forced to make a second Plan A and now living it out happily in NYC.

And So ……

download

…… we’re half way through May.
Just like that.

I certainly hope that teachers won’t require kids to write the usual essay, “What I Did This Summer”.
Those are going to be as boring as hell.
(Which begs the question, Is hell boring? Because, that would indeed be hell.)

What have you all been up to?  Any fun trips? Any family reunions?  Parties?  Parades? New restaurant experiences?

Me?
Oh, I’ve been experiencing all kinds of exciting things.

I’ll give you a list, in no particular order. (Remember, “exciting” is relative.)

    1.  Today I saw a hawk fall down from ….. the roof, the sky …… I have no idea but he definitely fell.  He plunked straight down into a planter right outside my window. Thankfully, Gracie didn’t notice because she would still be barking had she seen that. It’s been raining all night/morning so it was drenched. Maybe it was water logged?  Do birds get water logged and fall out of the sky?  If so, I think that’s a serious design flaw.It sat there for a minute, then slowly flew to a low branch of a nearby tree and then sat there for another minute before flying to a branch of another tree.  At this point I texted my daughter (remember, I’m living in an a studio apartment off of the house) to tell her to come and check out the hawk.  He/she was pretty cool looking, even wet.IMG_1504
    2. I succumbed to the latest craze and joined the ranks of Animal Crossing addicts this week.  It was my Mother’s Day present to myself.  The first couple of days I thought it was as boring as hell (?), but it starts to grow on you.  Yesterday I picked about 300 batches of weeds on my little island.  I’m a go getter!  To those of you who are in the know, I woke up to a real house today. Yay! Tents get old.
    3. I’ve ordered family size meals of fajitas (for pick up!) way too many times in the last month. But last night, for the first time, I ordered us margaritas! It’s a new world!
    4. I’ve watched too many episodes of Wild Kratts and PJ Masks than I can count. Mostly under duress.
    5. We got a blow up pool for the boys so it’s been nice to watch them play for 20 minutes and fight/fall/get in trouble for 40.
    6. I’m about to overrun the backyard with all kinds of candles and tiki torches because the mosquitos think I am a buffet.
    7. We got a grill for Daughter #2 because she had never grilled and it was high time. I told her to get hamburger patties on her grocery run and she did. We busted them out the day we got the grill.  They were already cooked patties. But hey, warming up previously cooked burgers is still grillin’. So she can check that off of her bucket list.(Seriously, if she really has that on her bucket list it’s a very sad list.)
    8. I put my house back on the market.
    9. I emptied my house of the last pieces of furniture in one evening by posting it on my Neighborhood app as “free”.  You can give almost anything away. And very quickly.
    10. I replaced a shattered french door pane in my house.  Well, “I” didn’t replace it but I paid for it so that’s just as good.   I’m off of a golf course so one would assume that a really bad golfer broke the window. But get this: it’s double-paned and it was the inside pane that shattered. Weird, right? No point of impact, no clues. Just a shattered pane of glass that was mostly still in the frame …… waiting to crumble into a zillion teeny pieces. I think I have a poltergeist. (Can you charge a poltergeist rent?)
      Between rounds of greeting people (at a distance and with a face mask, thank you very much) to give away furniture, I knocked all of the glass out of the frame and cleaned it up. And I wore gloves so no, I didn’t cut myself.
  1. I’ve done 3 nights of  3-4 hour on line training with D#2 so that I can be her support person with a new foster agency she’s signed up with. Also under duress. (Not the being her support person part, the 3-4 hours part.) IMG_1406
  2. I’ve played many, many games of mahjong, watched live theatre, participated in book club/movie group/NY meetup groups/walking tours/happy hours and a couple of courses via Zoom (but then, who hasn’t?).
  3. I’ve been learning Portuguese.
  4. This is a big birthday year for me.  (I won’t tell you which one but it has a six and an oh) so I planned a big year of travel.  BIG. Huge.  Hugely bigly.  So far four of those trips have been cancelled.  So I stopped learning Portuguese.
  5. I think the mail carrier thinks we’re crazy because I get a package from Amazon nearly every day.  Nearly.  Not always.  But that’s mostly because ALL OF MY  SUMMER CLOTHES ARE IN NY!!!  I’m supposed to be there!  Well, actually, I’m supposed to be in Portugal today (don’t go there).

Okay, I think that’s all of the excitement that you can stand for now.  I hope that I didn’t overwhelm you. If so, don’t worry.  It’ll pass.

I hope that you are all safe and healthy.  All of my family is, thank God.  The babies are good.  Growing fast …… away from me.  Sigh ……  But hopefully that will end soon.  Not the growing part, don’t be ridiculous.  The “away from me” part.  Sheesh.

I am missing NYC very, very much.  I know it’s good that I’m not there, physically.  But emotionally …… I’m sad.  I want to be there.  I want to support the city in the ways that I can by being there.  So I’m doing what I can from here to support theatres, museums, people and groups. I can’t wait to go back.  No, I don’t know when that will be.  I hope I it’s by the end of next month.
We. Shall. See.

Take care.  Wear masks.  Social distance.  Wash your hands. Stay home when you can.  Yada, yada, yada.

But seriously …… take care of yourselves.

xoxo

Does Anyone Else ……

download
(source)

…… feel like they could start crying at the drop of a hat?
Or is that just me?

I feel weird.
In limbo.
In 2 places at once.

I’m physically here in Texas.
But part of my heart is in NY.

I know that I should feel good that I’m not there.
But I don’t quite.
Part of me feels like I should be there, doing what I can to support the city that I love so much.

But my heart is also here in Texas.
With most of my children and all of my grandchildren.
Especially the one I haven’t been able to meet yet.
Damn.

I know that I’m blessed.
I know that things could be bad.
We are all healthy.
We have food.
We have toilet paper. For now.

So why do I feel like crying?
Is it because Jim’s not here …… in this horrific, history-making time on this planet?
Is it because yet another dear friend lost her husband a few days ago?
Is it because everything and everyone is so uncertain?

Probably.

I’m not afraid.
I’m not worried.
I just don’t know what I am.

This is just …… the strangest.
Right?

One phrase keeps going through my mind.
“Jesus, take the wheel.”

Except it feels like there’s not even a wheel now.

Another phrase also keeps going through my mind.
And maybe …… it’s not just me.

Jesus, now would be a really great time for you to come back.

I’m just sayin’.

My Heart Hurts ……

images

…… for a friend who is now a member of this horrible club called “widowed”.

The news of her husband’s sudden death shocked me and broke my heart. She is such a wonderful, kind and loving person. She’s kept up with me over the years and has always shown me love and support.
Her husband was a wonderful man who loved people and loved Jesus.
Death doesn’t discriminate.

There are just no words.

There’s only pain.

My heart hurts for the pain that she’s experiencing.
It hurts to know that she has to feel the things I’ve felt.
And still feel.

I hate this.
Grief sucks.
Death sucks.

I wish I could do something to take her pain away.
But I can’t.
No one can.
And that also sucks.

Love your people.
As hard as you can.
Because you never know.

Being Quarantined With Children ……

download-1

…… should not be a thing.

It really shouldn’t.
And before you think I’m horrible for saying that, especially since I’m quarantined (read: stuck) with two of my delightful littles …… know that I love them with the fierceness of a thousand suns.
And can be driven up the wall just as fiercely.

I think that if our government would’ve been better prepared for a pandemic (hahahahahaha!) they would’ve thought through this scenario.
Or they should have.

If you’re going to have a pandemic then I think you should have professionals standing by to be stuck (read: quarantined) with young children.
And by professional I mean anyone who signs up.
After a background check, of course. I’m not an idiot.

Now, I’m not talking about babies. I would love to be quarantined with a baby. Especially one of my two new ones (one I’ve yet to see in person …… sigh).
No, I’m talking about any child between the age of 18 months (when the Terrible Twos/Terrific Twos (whatever) usually start and oh, …… 13. This could be stretched to the age of 18 if enough parents sign a petition.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for these two precious (read: precocious) little boys. They make me laugh and they touch my heart on a daily basis.
They also make me very grateful.
Mostly grateful that I don’t have to raise them.
I did my time.
I’m good.

They are wonderful little creatures who can be loving on one another one minute and then trying to see who can throw a toy at the other one the hardest a split second later.
They can be happily engaged in a project, making you stare in wonder at their creativity and intelligence.
Then they can then turn on a dime, screaming that the crayon broke, the Lego wheel fell off or the paper tore, making you stare at them in wonder at their ability to reach decibels you thought only possible on an Air Force jet.

Their ability to switch between calm and rage (and back) amazes me.
One would think you might need to warm up before going from zero to sixty.
Not these guys.
They are professionals.

I realize that they won’t be little for long.
I know that each phase they go through won’t last.
(Even though they feel like forever when you’re in them.)
I know that this time is precious and that I’m blessed to be able to be with them.

And yes, it’s better to be stuck down here than in Covid-19 riddled NYC.
I may think differently tomorrow.
😉

In the Stillness of the Evening ……

download

 

…… memories tend to come back.
Sometimes it’s the memories that you forgot you had.

That happened tonight.
While I was holding my granddaughter (I’d nickname her Granddaughter #1, but since she’s an only that would be silly. I know that you, my wise reader, know full well who she is.)

For the last week and a half (a bit less than that) one of my jobs has been to take her at night so that my daughter and her hubs can get a few hours of sleep. I get her early-ish. Anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 or so. And then I hold her, rock her, walk her, sway with her, etc. to try to let them sleep as long as possible before her next feeding.
Tonight is my last night.
(Cue tears.)

Her other grandparents come tomorrow evening.
I’ve never had to share grand parenting.
It will be …… different.
I don’t feel negatively about it. I’m thankful that she will have so much love in her life.
But it’s …… just different.

Anyway, they will arrive tomorrow and take over helping out around here.
I will take care of the grandsons tomorrow night and we’ll all be here Sunday for her baptism (which her grandfather has the honor of performing) and then I’ll head back to Waco with Daughter #2 and the boys.

The other grandparents are lovely. I’ve enjoyed being around them the few times we’ve been together.
They raised 3 terrific children and one is the best husband I could ask for my daughter.

And yet …… this short visit will be a bit difficult.
Another feeling that I didn’t foresee.
It came out of nowhere.
Or everywhere, I guess.

There are two of them.
A couple.
They are beyond excited to see her …… their first grandchild.
They get to share this excitement.
With each other.
They get to watch each other hold her and compare her to each other and to their children.
That is a blessing.
I’ll be fine, with a tinge of sadness.

But I digress.

Memories.
In the stillness of the evening.

This one came back to me:

One morning, back when we had only 3 or 4 children (only!), I woke up to find a letter from Jim.
He had stayed up late and wrote it while he watched me sleep (not creepy at all if you don’t over think it.)

It seems that he had listened to a Garth Brooks song that night and it made him do a lot of thinking.
And he wanted to tell me about it.

He wanted to tell me how much he loved me.
He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated me, as a Christian, a wife, a friend and a mother.
He wanted to be certain that I knew all the things.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
In case.

In case tomorrow never comes.
About 17 years before it never came.

That’s the memory that came back tonight.
A blessing …… in the quiet of the evening.

She’s Here ……

IMG_0893

…… and my heart has grown yet again.

She’s tiny (just shy of 6 pounds), beautiful and perfect.
Her birth was easy and relatively quick.

When I first looked into her eyes I felt such joy …… and such sadness …… that it was hard to breathe.
My heart is full and yet it hurts.
A lot.
God, I miss him.

I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.
Which is what grief does best, I suppose.
It sneaks up on you at the worst times.
And the best ones.

He should be here, falling in love with a little girl all over again.
He should be here. For Daughter #3.
And for Granddaughter #1.
But since he’s not …… I’ll have to give her all of the love we both would’ve.
I think I’m up to the task.

They named her James.
There.
Are.
No.
Words.

Her middle name is Eliana.
This is what my daughter posted:
“She is named after her late grandfather (my dad), whose integrity, generosity, and wisdom we hope she inherits. And her middle name means “God has answered”- she is indeed the long-awaited answer to our prayers.”

She is indeed.

A Gift ……

download

…… that sure didn’t seem like one.
At the time.
Until it did.

Loneliness is something that a lot of people worry about. And something a lot of widowed people experience.

With the approaching arrival of our first granddaughter, Jim has been on my mind. A lot.
I mean, he’s almost always on my mind, but these days it’s more often. I find myself missing being able to talk to him about this birth and the one in March of our grandson. The missing of him and the missing of being able to share this with him is palpable.

As most of you know, I dated twice after Jim died. Seriously.
Neither worked out (duh). In fact, the second relationship was a disaster and he was the worst person I’ve ever met (though he sure hid that well in the beginning).
But he did leave me with something. Something that I knew, without a doubt, I’d have with me for the rest of my life.
At first I was beyond pissed over this. Then sad. Very sad.
But today? Not so much.
Today I consider it kind of like a gift.

What was it?
The knowledge that I would most likely never date again and that I would never re-marry.

I know, I know. That doesn’t seem like a gift.
But it feels like it now.
Most of the time.

It feels freeing …… to not be dating and to not feel like I’m missing anything.
It feels freeing to not want to date.
It’s difficult to explain this. Because most people want to be in a relationship.
Most people spend a lot of time and energy looking for “their person”.
And I don’t think that’s wrong. Everyone needs to do what’s best for them.
Being single …… being alone …… isn’t for everyone.
Just as being in a relationship …… being married …… isn’t for everyone.

I think this probably seems strange to people because the people who know me, who knew us, know that we had a good marriage.
A very good marriage.
And it would seem that I’d want that again.

I did at first.
And then I didn’t.
Because the one thing that those relationships taught me is this:
It’s much better to be single than to be with the wrong person.
Whether that person is good, or not, doesn’t matter …… if he’s wrong for you.

I guess that’s another part of the “gift”.
I can be happy being single because there are way worse things.
And it taught me that being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely.

It also cemented the knowledge that what I had with Jim is something that many people will never experience.
And that knowledge makes me happy.
(That I had it, not that most people won’t. That makes me sad.)

I think it’s also what makes me not feel lonely while being alone.
The memories, the love, the knowledge …… make me feel content.
And that is a gift, indeed.

So while I do miss him, sometimes more than I can stand …… I know that his love is still with me.
I know that I had something really great.
And I know that’s rare.

I guess a gift is in the eye of the beholder.

Holy moly ……

IMG_0593

…… it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote.

A lot has happened in that minute.
And yes, it’s mostly been hot.

Let’s play catch-up, shall we?

When last we met, it was August. 2019.
We’re now in a new decade.
Time flies.

Back in August I had 6 children, 1 son in law and 2 adorable grandsons, a home for sale in Waco and my apartment in NY.
Today I have 6 children (most likely a firm number as I don’t foresee getting pregnant anytime soon), 1 son in law, 1 daughter in law, 2 adorable grandsons, 1 highly anticipated granddaughter (why does the spelling of that word always look wrong to me?) arriving in two weeks (WHOOP!!) and 1 highly anticipated grandson arriving a few weeks after that (WHOOP!!), a home off of the market in Waco (don’t get me started), my apartment in NY and a studio apartment at my daughter’s new home in Waco.
Whew.
That seems like a lot, even to me.

So yes, Daughter #3 is expecting a beautiful (I’ve seen the ultrasound pics. Trust me, she’s beautiful. Even if her hands were blocking her face in most of them.)
I’m headed back to Texas (my third trip since Christmas) in a little over a week to be on Mom/Gigi duty.
And yes, I’ve been purchasing a fair amount of pink.

Son #2 and his lovely wife are expecting a son in March. I cannot wait. And will be there to help them as much as they’ll let me.
They also just purchased and moved into their first home. Double whoop!

Daughter #2 sold her lovely little Fixer Upper (feel free to take a moment of silence to mourn). Thankfully, Fixer Upper homes are a hot commodity in Waco.
Unfortunately, non Fixer Upper homes are not (okay, you got me started).
And so mine is off the market, for the time being.
It had very little traffic. No one seems to know why. Everyone who saw it (all 7 of them) seemed to love it.
Except.
It was “too big” (like they didn’t know that before they saw it?!).
The back yard is “too small” (see above parenthetical comment).
It needs “updating” (?!).
The HOA rules are “too stringent”.
Yada yada yada.

And so it sits.
With occasional visits from me.
I’m weighing when to put it back on the market and with whom to list it.
I hate home ownership.

Back to Daughter #2’s new home.
It has much more space for them and the backyard is an adventurous child’s dream.
It has a fort and a large wooded area in which to imagine all sorts of adventures and games.
It also has a studio apartment for moi.
This apartment has a tie to Fixer Upper, so there’s that.
When Clint, the carpenter who worked with Joanna (and built the cute desks for D2’s house), started his own show, he did this apartment.
Unfortunately he didn’t do the rest of the house so D2 has spent considerable time (and $) updating it.
It’s been great to be that close to the boys and yet far enough to have some space.

Speaking of the boys …… they continue to be a joy.
Most of the time, because let’s just be honest …… boys.
Grandson #1 is 5 (I know!) and growing like a weed (is that a saying in other parts of the country?).
He and I went on what was supposed to be the start of a tradition in October.
A trip to DisneyWorld when a grandchild turns 5.
And yes, you did catch the words “what was supposed to be”.
I’m getting too old for DisneyWorld.
Or maybe for 5 year olds.
Or maybe for taking 5 year olds to DisneyWorld.
All I know is that he may have killed that dream for the rest of his cousins.
We’ll see. Maybe it’s like labor and you kind of forget about the pain.
Until you’re in it again.

Grandson #2 is changing almost daily. He has gone from speaking toddler to speaking English in only a month or so. At Thanksgiving I still couldn’t understand much of what he said (not that that bothered him …… he just kept repeating the same foreign words, patiently. Like I was a child who would eventually get it if he just stuck with it.) and now we can have full on conversations. In English!
He is hugely funny and has a wicked sense of humor.
He also likes throwing his body down anywhere (a sofa, the floor, the dirt) just to make people laugh.
Daughter #2 needs to buckle her seatbelt for this one.

Everyone else is doing well.
Son #3 is over halfway through law school.
Hallelujah.

I’m going to take a moment to talk with those of you who’ve been with me since Jim died.
In real life or in the other blog:

Can you freakin’ believe it?
After going to hell and back with a couple of my children (you know who they are) …… to now see them happy, healthy and doing well is nothing short of a miracle in my book.
Thank you, Lord.
Seriously.

Gracie Lou is doing well.
She had surgery a couple of weeks ago for bladder stones.
That wasn’t fun.
But she has bounced back and probably feels better than ever now that she’s several stones lighter (see what I did there?).

She and Oliver now get along most of the time. They even play together on occasion. Not as much as she would like but Oliver has to uphold the rules of his species.
Cats. Go figure.

Okay, that’s it for today. I need to get ready to go see a play later today. It’s called “Grand Horizons” and has Jane Alexander (Whoop!) and James Cromwell (Whoop! Hopefully I can resist the urge to yell out, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.) in it.

I need to squeeze in a lot of things before I leave because I won’t be back to NY until April.
Unless my children get tired of me wanting to hold their babies all of the time.
Then I’ll be back sooner.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Dreams ……

dreams-and-visions-accessing-the-beyond_0
(photo credit)

…… are just so …… so very weird.

When Jim first died I was disappointed that I didn’t dream about him.  The first dream that I had of him came a few months after he died.  And it was very comforting.
But later dreams were not.

I still have a vivid memory of the first dream that left me reeling.
It was the first dream that I had where he was back and he wasn’t dead.
Actually, he had never died. In that dream.
I had just dreamed that he died. Like when Bobby Ewing spent an entire season being dead on the show “Dallas”, and then on the first show of the next season we found out that his wife, Pam, had just dreamed the entire thing. He never really died.
He was just in the shower.
Yeah. It was stupid then, too.

Anyway, it was the first of many “not dead” dreams. And when I first woke up, I still thought it was real.
And then reality set it …… and knocked the breath out of me.
Again.

So yeah, I’ve had many, MANY “not dead” dreams.
In the first few years they were pleasant. I’d wake up and re-hash them in my mind.
In those dreams, for some odd reason (and always a different one), Jim would just reappear, out of nowhere, and be home. I was always a bit miffed at him for being gone but only for a few seconds. Then I was ecstatic that he was alive.

Over the years those dreams have changed from pleasant to downright disturbing.
He still comes back, but I’m less than thrilled to have him back.
In most of them he left/pretended to be dead because he was with another woman. And he comes back for various reasons.
When I wake up from those dreams it takes me a moment to realize that it’s not real.
And that he’s still dead.
Which, as horrific as this may sound …… is a relief.
It’s a relief to remember that I actually saw his body …… and that he did not cheat on me.
Wickedly disturbing, I know.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that really made me think …… about how much has changed.
Jim came back.
Again.
He had left with another woman.
Again.
But he decided, 11 1/2 years later, that he wanted to come back to his “before” life. With me.
In Texas.
Right where he left off.

I was less than thrilled.
I mean, I was happy (sort of) that he was alive but also really upset that he’d left me in the first place. With her.
Whoever she was.

And, I had just moved to NY.
I explained to him that I had moved and that I was happy living in NY.
He said that we could keep the apartment but we’d have to live fulltime in Texas.
Back where we lived 12 years ago.
Where I’m no longer friends with some of the people who used to be quite close.
Where I still have friends but where life has changed.
Where I don’t really want to live again.

Because really, you can’t go back.
Things are never the same.
Nor should they be.
Life moves on.
Even if you don’t.
Or pretend to be dead for 11 1/2 years.

The worst part of the dream was having to move back from NY.
Yep, even worse than the slut he ran away with.
Whoever she was.

I think I woke up soon after that discussion.
And again, it took me a moment to land back in reality.
And remember that I really did see his body.
And that I’m still in NY.

The relief that filled me is hard to describe.
Probably because it sounds terrible to most people.
People who think they’d welcome back their loved one no matter what.
People who haven’t walked this road for almost 12 years.
People who don’t …… can’t …… get it.

I love my life.
I love my home.
I love my city.
And I still will always love Jim.
I will always wish that he never died.
But he did.
And life, and I, have moved forward.

It took me a long time to be here.
I never thought I’d be happy again.
It’s a different happy, but it’s happy nonetheless.
And it’s my happy.
I think I’ll keep it.

And continue to feel relieved when I wake up.