It’s a New Year

When last we left our heroine….

I had assured Faron was in a good home. I tried to move on…still trying.

I had that pesky knee operated on…took me off the trails for a long time. At the same time, other issues seemed to pop up. To me. it seems like it never ends. One thing after another…but I’m still fighting.

I’ve sailed numerous times. The boat and the ocean are my escape from all the drama that seems to envelope my life. If I could, I’d sail all summer long. It does not matter that I’ve been to the same harbors or coves many times. Every time is different and special. I’ve gotten into sailing in June when the days are long and the nights are cool. Late August brings warm winds and warm waters…and the end of September sailing brings cool crisp days and nights and winds that were meant to sail in.

 

Stormy times continued with my sister. But we did our best to try to repair damages. She got engaged…and married. It’s not a bad thing, just different. And I wore a dress! Life with her is still a work in progress. I have come to many conclusions about this rift and I am at peace with many (not all) of the changes.

Work is work….never a dull moment. We have a new Chief and a new attitude. I continue to advocate for our Dispatchers and push them to do and want better for themselves. I became a nationally certified Communications Center Manager. No clue what I will do with that but it looks great on a resume!

I’m working toward a new walking goal. I want to walk the 5 miles of the Battle Road Trail again…and thinking of doing the entire 10 mile round trip! My goal is to do this by April 1. It’s a lofty goal, attainable if the snow holds off and the winter is not brutally cold. Although I could train inside, my brain needs to be outside. I know some people will get this.

 

My sMyles is 2! And he moved away…to the North Woods of New Hampshire. I’m sad that he is that far away now but at least it’s just a drive away and not a flight away. His Mom and Dad got married…YAY. I was unable to attend the wedding. It was very short notice and I was on the boat in the bay. I get lots of text pictures and we Face Time once in a while. He was back here for his big 2nd birthday in October. Auntie loves him. 🙂

So we are on to a new year and new adventures…

Like the story on how Mr.Mouse went missing…

 

 

I can’t let go.

Faron moved on to his new home and people. I had done the very best for him and I had done my best to make sure he would be well loved and cared for. His new people were very happy to have him. They were very kind to me, understanding just how crushing a decision this was for me. There was only one real problem.

Faron’s new people just happen to live less than a 5 minute walk from my home. Up the street and around the corner…and there he is. His new people made the most generous offer to me stating that I was welcomed to come visit him at any time. As often as I wanted. They would welcome me. I was beyond grateful for that offer. It still stands today, even a year and a half later.

I am unable and unwilling to make that walk and enter that home. I avoid it at all cost. I simply could not bear to visit with him and then walk away again. It would tear me apart. And it would be so unfair to Faron and to his new people. So in place of visiting, I send an occasional email asking how he is doing and also asking they give him my love. They continue their kindness to me and respond to every email I send and include a few pictures of Faron along with them. I am mindful of not wanting to overextend their kindness. In the first few months, I emailed maybe 2 times. I then settled into sending an email on his birthday in April and at Christmas. This past April I got back the most beautiful email telling me Faron is feisty and fun and they absolutely adore him. At the end of the email, she wrote that she would “whisper your wishes in his ear.” So kind.

Every day I miss him. I miss coming home to find him waiting for me, waiting for treats. I miss him curling up on the pillow on the couch, tucked in under my arm. I miss the feline 500 race through the house. I miss him crawling under the covers in my bed and settling down for night next to my legs.

To be honest, I don’t miss litter boxes. I don’t miss paying to run the air conditioning in the Summer when I go sailing away just to make sure he does not get too hot. I don’t miss having to plan cat sitters for when I go away. I don’t miss cat hair…on everything.

But, I would take all of that back and more just for the joy of having him back.

I miss being needed.

IMG_3728.jpg

Farewell and Fare Well

Faron was born on April 26,2012.

10410413_10202278624121771_44397288510314818_n.jpg

He had the cutest little pink nose and a white face and tummy. I had the pick of the litter and I chose him. I brought him home when he was 8 weeks old,

10321495_10202278629921916_5861131512145827625_o.jpgIMG_1632.JPG

He had the biggest ears and an attitude to go with them. I adored him. I gave him everything and loved him completely. IMG_1782.JPG

He would grow up to be a feisty and fun cat that loved to play with his toys, especially Mr.Mouse. He was very busy all the time, no time to waste as he raced around the house, up and down the stairs. He loved to play inside paper grocery bags. Whenever I took out my luggage to go away, he would hop in and look at me as if to say “take me with you Mom”. He chatted out the window to his friend Squeaky who lived in the yard next door. Squeaks is a feral cat who had defied the odds and is at least 15 years old. My friends L&C are his people and they care for him as much as he will allow.10519460_10202779626686522_6577183955833993777_o.jpg

Faron and Squeaky  were buddies, if only from afar.

As Faron grew older, his feistiness could pose a problem for prospective adopters. He would bite and lash out at times, seemingly for no good reason. I had dealt with it just fine but worried that it would be an issue. This was part of my reasoning for not putting him in shelter. He would simply not do well and his aggression would put people off. But he could also be the most loving ball of fur ever.

887714_4194863444629_150545344_o.jpg

But in early November, the folks at the Cat Connection called. There was a family that was interested in adopting Faron. I was happy but not. I’m sure you understand. The Mom of the family came to the house to meet Faron. He was very skittish and was clearly not happy. But she was not put off by this behavior. She thought he was beautiful. And she wanted him. A week or so later, she came back again and brought her husband with her. Faron was still the same…scared, and hissing at anyone who tried to get near him. But they wanted him. They felt that once he was settled in their home, he would be fine. I was so surprised. And grateful. Grateful to the Cat Connection for their help and grateful to the new people who saw beyond the fear and knew there was a great cat behind all that bluster. 10538410_10201915446162549_383727587_n.jpgIMG_1904.jpg

So on Saturday November 15, I went one last time to L&C’s house to visit with my boy. I had asked L to deliver Faron to his new people for me. There was simply no way I would ever be able to hand him over. I sat with him and fed him his favorite treats. I told him over and over again how special he was and how no matter where he might be, I would always love him.

His favorite toy was Mr.Mouse.

 

IMG_1998.JPGIMG_2007.JPG

IMG_1996.JPGI made sure he had an extra Mr.Mouse to take with him.

I kept the original Mr.Mouse because it will always be my link to Faron.

No one would ever be good enough for him. No one would ever love him more than I did. Ever.

So farewell Faron, my best little Bubba, and fare well.

Moving Day

Moving day came and I was ready thanks to all the help my family and friends provided. The smartest thing I ever did was hire a moving company to do this for me. It was the single best thing I did. They did all the work and I just sat and watched. It took about 5 hours to move me out and move me in. My bff K spent the day with me so I would not be alone. My new neighbors were very curious about the new girl moving into the neighborhood. They were very friendly. It’s a great neighborhood…quiet, tree lined street, no real traffic to speak of, close to everything. It was now home…sort of.

Once everything was moved in, I still had a few more things to do at the old apartment. I had two more weeks there so I had time to get it done. I finished up there and left the keys on the counter and walked away. Strangely, I did not feel sad. Actually, I did not feel anything. I knew then I had made the right decision.

Two weeks after moving into my new home, I had to attend a 3 day conference in the White Mountains. I was staying at the incredible Mt.Washington Hotel and several work friends were there. We had a great time doing some sightseeing in the area. And we spent some time at the conference getting educated! The knee was still in the brace…still no time to have that surgery that I needed! And I had more things to do. I had lots of unpacking to do and organizing to make my new place exactly how I wanted it. But I did set a date for the surgery. It would be mid-November.

So with all this happening, I still needed to find a home for Faron. Some very nice people at a place called the Cat Connection agreed to help me out. I had made some decisions about what I would and would not do regarding a new home for him. I simply would not allow Faron to go into a shelter and live in a cage. He would have been so scared and I could not do that. Ever. I had made the ultimate decision that if I could not find a good home for him, I would put him down. To me, death was preferable to a life in a shelter. The folks at the CC don’t usually deal with situations like mine. They don’t take in cats from people, they only deal with strays. They use foster homes and do not shelter. When they heard my problem and my feelings on shelters, they agreed to feature him on their website in hopes that someone would want him. They did not want me to euthanize him since he was so young. My friends L&C were still letting Faron live with them so for now, he was safe and well cared for.

People may question my decision on this but I don’t care. I knew what I was doing and how it would affect Faron and me. It was an incredibly hard decision and one I hoped I would not have to make.

When you’re smiling, the whole world sMyles with you.

My family and friends rallied to help me pack and get ready for the big move. Faron was moved to my friends’ L&C’s house where he would stay until he could be permanently placed. I could and did see him every day as he was just next door. It was particularly hard standing in my kitchen and looking out the window and seeing him sitting in the windows of the house next door. So close but so far away…

Five days before the big move, our family stopped to welcome a new life into the world. My beautiful niece gave birth to an exceptionally spectacular baby boy. This child can not possibly know how he changed my life. To know me is to know that I dislike babies and children. I have always disliked babies and small kids. They are loud, messy and annoying and are far too often heard when they should only be seen! I never wanted any kids and have done a good job of keeping away from them. Until now…

Although I am not his Mom, it is true that the birth of a child changes you. It changed me. One week after he was born, I was able to drive to the Cape to meet him for the first time. My niece came into the room carrying him and handed him to me. I burst into tears. I had never seen anything more beautiful or felt more love in my entire life.

 

IMG_2182.JPG

Now don’t get crazy and think I’m going to babysit any time soon! But there is NOTHING I will not do for this little boy. If he needs something and I can provide it, consider it done. I am not a shopper but buying clothes for this little guy is so much fun. Everything is cute! You need long sleeved pajamas? Onesies? Toys? Bank Account? Done!

He is growing up so fast and changing every day. His Mom and Dad are doing everything right. They are following their own path and raising him in a way that feels right for all of them. He has an incredible safety net of extended family (and dogs) and friends and is loved by more people than he will ever know.

He is happy and sMyles all the time….

 

IMG_2104.jpg

Well okay, most of the time!

Challenges

How did this happen? I suppose age had something to do with the wear and tear on my knee. And I believe that my personal walking challenge was what probably pushed it over the edge.

There is a walking trail that goes through Minuteman National Park. It’s about 5 miles from one end to the other. On the eastern end is Fiske Hill in Lexington and at the western end is Meriam’s Corner in Concord. Both of these locations were pivotal during the revolutionary war. I had discovered this trail a few years ago and really enjoyed walking sections of it. It was peaceful and pretty and you could almost hear the sounds of farmers, muskets and regiments of med in red if you listened hard enough. In mid summer, I made the decision that I wanted to walk the entire 5 plus miles of this trail. So I trained…hard. Not only was distance on my radar but so was speed. I wanted to do this walk as fast as I could. So I trained…hard. I was walking about 2-3 miles a day and 3-4 miles a day on the weekends getting ready for this. I know it probably seems like no big deal. After all, 5 miles is not that much really. But for me, it was my own personal marathon.

I came back from my sailing trip, decided to accept the offer for a new apartment, started the process of finding a new home for Faron and focused on my “marathon” challenge. So on Saturday September 20, my bff K met me at the Fiske Hill lot and drove me the 5 miles to the Meriam’s Corner lot. He handed me a Kashi bar and a bottle of water and wished me well. And I was off. Walking from the western end of the trail to the eastern end had some significant uphill stretches. I chose to go in this direction because the hills would be an extra challenge. One hour and seventeen minutes later, I arrived at the Fiske Hill lot. I had SLAYED this challenge. I was like Rocky on the top of the steps in Philly. I had won my own personal marathon in a time that was far faster than I imagined it would be and I felt great. Victory was mine!

Five days later my knee was trashed and my walking days were over…for awhile. At the emergency room, I had a very handsome and nice Doctor who could not do too much for me because my knee was so swollen and painful, any kind of exam was excruciating. He put me in a straight leg brace that went from my ankle to mid-thigh, put me on crutches and sent me home with orders to see an orthopedic doctor and have an MRI. This was my right knee so driving was out of the question. I was devastated. I could not do anything. I could not get very far. Most importantly, I could not pack up my apartment. And I was scheduled to move in 20 days. What the hell was I going to do?

That weekend was brutal. It was a gorgeous late September weekend and all things being equal, I would have taken one last beach day. But I was trapped in my house, unable to do anything. My friends L&C said they would help pack for me. My sister said she would come down and help me pack. My brother would come and help too. It’s hard for me to a) admit I need help and b) accept it when offered. But this was no time to struggle with myself. I had to seek out and accept whatever help I could get. About a week after I hurt my knee, I had the MRI and it was determined that I had a torn meniscus, cartilage damage and a partial ACL tear. The good news…the only thing that needed to be repaired was the meniscus and the cartilage. But the best thing that happened is the Doc put me into a smaller, hinged knee brace that allowed me to move around more and most importantly, drive! He wanted to operate right away but I had to wait…I was moving, in 14 days! People face challenges every day, some bigger than others. The entire scenario (moving after 26 years, Faron, knee) was more challenging than almost anything I had ever faced before. But I would get through it…

A river in Egypt called “Denial”

Twenty six plus years living in one place meant that packing would not be easy. There was so much to weed through. Fortunately, I did not have much storage space so the “stuff” I accumulated could have been worse. I was determined that if I had not touched something, used or worn something or had not seen something in the last year, I did not need it. I stuck with this and yet I still had lots of “stuff”.

So I started the packing process and the impossible task of finding Faron a new home. I reached out to the Cat Connection for help. I insisted that Faron would never go into a shelter or a cage of any kind. He would only go to a home. The Cat Connection does not usually assist in re-locating but they made an exception for my exceptional cat. In the meantime, my friends (and next door neighbors) said that they would foster Faron until a perfect home could be found for him. I was grateful to the Cat Connection and to my friends.

It’s not like packing 26 years of my life while trying to find a new home for Faron wasn’t enough. And then it happened. And I have no idea how. I was standing in my guest room, just looking at the space I had to use as a staging area for the moving boxes. I had nothing in my hands…and nothing up my sleeve. I was just standing there. And then I bent over at the waist. I don’t remember why. But an awful thing happened. My right knee made a grinding, popping and crunching sound and the entire knee moved to the left. And then it moved back to the right. And it hurt. But it was nothing. It wasn’t swelling too much. It was fine. It had to be. But it wasn’t. Not even a little fine.

I continued what I was doing, moving stuff around, packing stuff up. The knee kept swelling but it was tolerable. I was ignoring it. I had to. I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning, it was still swollen and it did not feel good. But I got up and went to work. I had a busy day on tap and I did not have time for this. While walking through a room at work, my knee suddenly gave out and I almost fell. I was able to grab onto a piece of furniture to stay up. Ouch! That hurt. But I kept on, I was busy. Three more times during the day, my knee gave out. And each time I ignored it and went about my day. But as the work day was coming to an end, the knee was swelling like mad and the pain was getting unbearable. I was okay if I was walking but if I sat for any period of time and then got up….yeah, not so much! I finished the day at work and went home. I barely made it up the stairs into my apartment. I changed my clothes and then I called my neighbor and asked her to drive me to the emergency room. I could not be in denial any longer.

A choice I had no choice but to make…

The landlord hung that golden ring out and told me to grab it. But there was a catch. We talked about rent and we settled on a number. And then I made a casual mention about my cat. And then the world stopped.

“Oh, yeah. I have a no pet policy so you can’t have a cat” Ummm…what? Really? Why? I was stunned. And I thought I could negotiate this. He had reasons. Pet’s make a mess and cause damage. Cats, if not cared for properly, can be nasty. I knew what he meant. And I also knew I was not that pet owner. I kept my cat and his things clean, obsessively. I had been in homes that had not been kept as clean and I always wanted to make sure that if anyone walked into my home, they could not tell a cat lived there. But there was no negotiating this matter. He was clear and firm. And I did not know what to do.

Faron was just two years old. He was my “Bubba”. I did everything for him to make sure he was the most loved and well cared for animal in the history of animals. He loved me back…when it was convenient for him. A typical cat. How could I give him up? Who would want him? More importantly, who would be worthy of being his person? What was I going to do? I told the landlord I needed to think about this. Could I have a few days? I knew it was dangerous to ask this because he had many other people who wanted his place. But he agreed and I told him I would be in touch in the next two days, one way or the other. And I went home and cried…really hard…for a really long time. Here was the chance of a lifetime but with a cost MUCH higher than I had ever imagined.

I talked to my sister and to my best friends. But I knew in my head what I had to do. I just needed to convince my heart. I knew that this opportunity would never come again. I knew that this apartment was everything and more. It was beautiful, it was safe and secure, it was clean and bright and new, it came with a price tag that would not change every year, it came with a responsible landlord with a history and reputation of always taking care of his properties. But it’s biggest gift to me was the knowledge that I would be able to be here for many years to come and that I would never have to worry again or look over my shoulder. It was long term security and I needed that. So I made the impossibly difficult decision to accept the apartment and find a new home for Faron.

It would be my mission to make sure that Faron had what he deserved. I would not settle for anything less. He deserved nothing less than the absolute best.

 

 

The winds of change blew hard

In the Spring of 1987, my Mother and I moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in West Newton. Our landlord was a nice, old school Italian gentleman. The apartment wasn’t anything special but it was clean and it did the trick. We settled in nicely. Over the next few years, the landlord did do some work in the apartment. He bought us a new stove and installed new peel and stick tile on the kitchen floor. The rest of the apartment remained untouched. The kitchen cabinets (what few there were) were very old and were not really very useful due to poor design. The bathroom was pretty much the same. The sink was just that, a sink with exposed plumbing underneath. You could pretty much say these two rooms were stuck in the 50’s. Again, it was clean, just not very modern.

The house had a fairly nice yard, not huge but ok. We could park two cars so that was a plus. Five or so years after we moved in, Mom applied for and was approved for senior housing. She moved out of the apartment and into her own place. I was now on my own for the very first time. And I loved it! Mom took with her most of the furniture, leaving me with just bare bones stuff to get by. It worked for a little while but I needed to get my own things and make this place my home. The year after Mom moved out, the landlord came to me and wanted to raise my rent by $300 a month! WHAT? I was beside myself. He said it was the water bill. The price of water is high in Newton. I convinced him to accept $200. It would be tight but I would make it work. So as I looked around the apartment, it became clear it needed work. Paint, carpeting, kitchen and bath work. I made a deal with the landlord that I would pay for and do all the painting myself. I would pay for new carpeting. I would spruce up the bathroom as best I could. There was nothing I could do in the kitchen. I’m not that talented and I did not have that kind of money. The deal was that I would pay for everything in exchange for him NOT raising the rent for the next several years. He agreed.

I spent about $10,000 dollars to do all the work and to buy some new furniture. It was hard work but I believed it would pay off in the end. When I was done, it looked fabulous. It was my home now and I loved it. A few years went by and he came to me trying to raise the rent. With the help of his daughter (she lived on the first floor), we were able to hold him off for a few more years. Then I couldn’t hold him off any more and every year, he raised my rent by $100 per month. It became very difficult and uncomfortable living there. It was especially difficult dealing with the son of the landlord. The issues I had with him are far too many to write about. He was and is a jerk. But he was able to manipulate his father and that made my life much more difficult.

The problem was that apartment prices in Newton are OFF THE CHARTS expensive. There was no way I could afford to move and stay in Newton. There was no way I could move and stay anywhere CLOSE to Newton. I was trapped. I needed a miracle. It took several years of looking before I finally go it. I had friends who had friends…but there was never any openings. People don’t move out of apartments with landlords that treat them well. I had asked one person who owned several places to please keep me in mind if anything came open. I was his perfect tenant…single female, no kids, middle age, no drama. He didn’t have anything when I first talked to him so I kept looking.

Fast forward to August of 2014. I boarded the Schooner Heritage for a week sailing the coast of Maine. About half way through the week, I happened to have cell service on my phone. I noticed I had a call and voicemail. It was the friend of the friend. And he had an apartment he wanted to show me. I was freaking out!!!! I told him I was in the middle of the ocean but that I would be back in a few days and would make a plan to see the place. I got home and made an appointment to meet him at the house. I walked into paradise. The apartment was HUGE. It was in the middle of being remodeled. Fresh paint throughout. Hardwood floors refinished. BRAND NEW kitchen….cabinets, appliances, lighting. BRAND NEW bathroom…new tub/shower, vanity, floor tiling. I could not believe what I was seeing. And I could not even afford this luxurious place. Or could I…?

There is something to be said for a property owner who believes in having good tenants. A person who believes that it’s not all about money. A person who takes care of his property and makes sure the tenants don’t have to worry about anything. This man hung the golden ring out in front of me and told me to grab it. There was just one small catch…

 

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

In the Spring of 2014, it had been a year since I lost my kidney to cancer. It had been a year since my choice to have life changing surgery had been dashed in the blink of an eye. I was still in the program, although not to the degree that I had been prior to the surgery. I had needed to step away for awhile as the previous year had been such a whirlwind. But now I was faced with making the commitment and decision again. I needed some more time and I also needed to get my head back in the game. Not so easy to do. I was torn. Could I do this again? Did I have what it would take to make the commitment again? The staff in the program did not make this easier for me. In fact, one person made it much harder. She kept insisting this was no big deal and kept after me to make the choice to have the surgery. It was a pressure I did not need nor appreciate. I spoke to the Doc about this and she did her best to assure me that the choice was mine and to take whatever time I needed.

Let’s flash back for a few moments to the late Spring of 2013. I had physically recovered from the kidney cancer surgery but the mental recovery was far from over. The feeling of how “easy” my cancer had been haunted me. It was made worse by seeing the rapid decline of Bill and his prostate cancer. When I tried to express these feelings to family and friends, they just did not understand. I had never felt this way before. I felt lost and very much alone. So I made a decision to ask for help. And I did. The program gave me the name of a therapist that among other things, specialized in weight loss issues. Before making any decisions, I did some investigating about this person. I liked what I read so I decided to give her a try. I made an appointment for a day in June of 2013 and I have been seeing her almost every week since then. It’s a deeply personal decision and one that should not be taken lightly. And it is not a decision that should make you feel anything other than empowered.

As I went into the Summer of 2014, I was a walking fiend! And I would workout in the local pool every day. I was “crushing the grind”! It was not uncommon for me to grind out 2-3 miles a day and 3-4 miles per day on the weekends. I like to walk in places that are surrounded by nature. Trails through the woods or along rivers, ponds and streams are my favorite. I think this is because it’s very calming. I had discovered the Battle Road Trail in Lexington/Lincoln/Concord. It’s a 5 mile stretch of walking paths through Minuteman National Park. I liked it a lot. As the Summer wore on, I made the decision that I wanted to walk the entire 5 mile length of the trail. It may seem like that’s not such a big deal but to me it was huge. It was going to be my Marathon. And I trained like crazy.

The end of August was approaching and this meant it was time to sail away again on the great Schooner Heritage. I had made the decision that I after I returned from sailing, I would set a date to follow in the footsteps of the rag tag group of minutemen who revolutionized our country. The winds of change were blowing…

 

IMG_2049.JPG

 

IMG_2115.JPG