Yakety Yak Blah Blah Blah Blah


Yakety Yak Blah Blah Blah Blah

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The Kindness of Strangers (20 January 2007 - 10:52 a.m.)

Sometimes it's really hard to deal with lifeís disappointments and heartache. This past week has repeatedly driven that point home. One disappointment goes back a few weeks, and involves my daughter, Rebecca. As it turns out, she didn't go to Scotland.

Five days before she was scheduled to leave, her father and I discovered that Rebecca hadn't done any of the necessary preparation. Her UAlbany emailbox was overflowing with unopened correspondence related to studying abroad. We were floored.

One of the most vital things Rebecca had neglected to do was to make arrangements for campus residence. Her father tried to call the University of Glasgow, but they were closed for winter break, and wouldn't reopen until January 3rd, the day Rebecca was supposed to depart for Scotland. At that point, I realized two things.

1. Rebecca no longer wanted to go, or she would have done what was required of her.

2. I didnít make this mess, and I wasnít going to clean it up. Rebecca would have to take care of everything herself.

Through discussions with Rebecca, I was able to get her to admit that she HAD changed her mind about going, but was afraid to say anything. She was also ashamed of herself. I told her that I understood her change of heart, and it was not my intention to make her feel bad about it.

Nevertheless, there were going to be repercussions. I made it clear to her that this opportunity will not be presented in the future. I will not set myself up for this kind of stress again.

Also, she will have to pay back every cent her father and I spent on non-refundable expenses, which amount to over one thousand dollars. Since Rebecca wasn't enrolled anywhere else, she is taking the semester off, and will be working as many hours as she can get at the restaurant where she is waitressing.

Another disappointment (although a very minor one, especially in comparison to the above) was losing the auction for the second duck decoy keepsake box. My brother, Mike, is in the process of becoming a homeowner, and I wanted to give him the box as a housewarming gift. I've been scouring ebay and the Internet for something similar, without much success. I have found other duck boxes, but they're not nearly as nice, and cost quite a bit more than Iíd like to spend. I'll continue my search, and hope for the best.

On Monday, I had a dental appointment for root planing, etc. This hour of periodontal care four times a year causes me to be in quite a bit of discomfort, so I've been asking for gas. I figure Iím already in enough pain as it is, and prefer not to add more to the mix if it can be avoided. The nitrous oxide doesn't make the experience totally pain free, but it does allay some of my anxiety, and relieves some of the discomfort.

While I was under the influence of the gas, my thoughts turned to my brother, Mark. I don't know if I was actually crying or not, but it felt like tears were slipping out of the corners of my eyes. If the tears were real rather than imaginary, I think the hygienist would have said something, as it is her habit to ask if I'm okay each time I flinch or tighten up when she hits a sensitive spot.

Never before have I had a problem coming down from the nitrous oxide. As soon as the mask is removed, I am alert and clear-headed. This time, however, I couldn't shake the effects. My vision was off, and I felt very dizzy. The hygienist called the dentist in, and he had her put me on pure oxygen for quite a while. Even after the oxygen, I felt unsteady. It was a weird and scary feeling.

As I was leaving the office, I thanked the staff for the sympathy card they sent. The compassion on the faces of the women behind the desk touched my heart, and I was moved to tears. But that wasn't the only thing that got to me.

I realized how hard I am struggling to cope with the reality of my brother's death. When I don't talk or think about it, I donít have to acknowledge the finality of this loss. But when I AM reminded of the irrefutable fact that my brother is gone, the floodgates open and I find myself awash in sorrow.

On Tuesday, I had an appointment with my Rheumatologist. As she felt my shoulder muscles, she tsk-tsked and asked, "What's going on with you??" The next thing I knew, I was sobbing. The story about my brother came out, and Dr. Rheumatologist was extremely compassionate. She pulled out a chair, and sat down across from me, listening attentively and sympathetically. She even hugged me when I left. It's good to know there are still kind-hearted doctors in the world.

I am reminded of Blanche DuBois, from A Streetcar Named Desire. She claimed that she "always depended on the kindness of strangers." Lately, I have found myself touched by the kindness of strangers, as well as family and friends. I am truly grateful for the generosity of spirit people have shown. Every little bit helps.

Song of the Day: With a Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles

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