Who Takes Handicap Parking Spaces?

I ask that sarcastically, as in

“What kind of able-bodied person does that?”

Some time, some place, some how we’ve nurtured a society so full of twisted senses of self-entitlement that some people think parking spaces marked for the disabled are theirs for the taking, because, you know, they are just that exceptional. What happened to compassion, humility, nose3shame?

Even in my most ignorant phases of self-absorbed youth I respected others enough to not take a parking space labeled for the disabled … the less capable than I, those who really need it. Even in becoming disabled it took quite some time before I felt okay using one. As long as I could reasonably get where I needed to go I have always left disabled parking open for those who needed it worse than I.

Since then my disabilities have deteriorated and I need those spaces more frequently than used to be. Well let me tell you an unbelievable story.

I moved to where I live a year ago. It’s a well kept place with nice parking but spaces per building are limited and described as ‘first come first serve.’ Being the new arrival and regardless that my place is the farthest from parking, I respected those who came before me by not taking their spot. There was only one handicap space, almost always taken by the same car. Figuring that individual was here first and likely needed it worse than I, even when it was available I left it for them. That’s what good neighbors do, right?

Having come to know some neighbors by now, I noticed the lady who uses the handicap space gets around just fine. Her car has no disabled tag nor placard. So I asked and, come to find out, she is not disabled at all. She just feels entitled to the only handicap space our building has. Really?

For the most part the lady rarely moves her car, it just sits parked there. She has frequent visitors who always take the next closest spaces, inevitably leaving me on the farthest end of a parking lot that is already the farthest walk. A couple of times I’ve returned with loads to bring in only to see her visitor leaving, so I’d wait to park closer and unloadnose2. When her visitor noticed me doing that, then when she saw me waiting she’d go all the way back inside and stare out the window, to prevent me from parking closer. Clearly these were not nice people.

I’ll do anything within reason to avoid unnecessary conflict so I gave this situation weeks of thought. I could’ve easily reported the neighbor’s abusive parking to police, which would’ve resulted in a $250 fine, but that’s not very neighborly, right? All I wanted was reasonable access to my place, where I come & go every day and where I pay rent to live.

I decided to ask management about labeling “resident” on closer parking spaces so I had a chance at reasonable access. I was surprised when they decided to add a second handicap space instead, which I thought was a great solution! In doing that they addressed the lady’s abusive parking, which I could predict would not be received warmly but that was their decision. Honestly, it should’ve been done before now. Even more honestly, the woman should’ve known better in the first place – period.

Well, this extra space has made my shopping life tremendously easier! The first day I used the new space I was all chipper walking back to my place and the lady who’d abused the other one for so long was sitting on her patio. As I always did, instinctively and without hesitating, as I passed by I hollered out a chipper “Hi!

nose1My eyes could not believe what they were seeing. The lady was sitting with her nose stuck so prominently far up in the air that she, literally, looked like a comic book character. I am not kidding. It was disgustingly laughable. Ever wish you could un-see something? I couldn’t begin to crink my neck far enough to get my nose that far up in the air if my life depended on it. Of course she didn’t respond to my greeting. She was sending the message, [huff puff & snort] ‘how dare you!

How dare I’ what? ‘How dare I,‘ a real disabled person, ask for a ‘resident’ parking space where I pay rent? ‘How dare I’ have one? ‘How dare I’  be disabled? Just ‘what’ the heck have I done? Apparently the only alternative this self-entitled nitwit thought suitable was for me to keep sluffing tremendous hardships back and forth, because, I guess we all should know, no one makes their life livable if it causes consequences of her moronic behaviors? Oh give me a break.

This isn’t some stupid college student protesting on a campus. This is a full grown senior adult woman who definitely should know better. How bullies like this ever reason to themselves that somehow they’re the ones who’ve been slighted is so far off of my scope of comprehension I couldn’t begin to make sense of it. A mind that can think like that, in my book, is a very scary one.

 

 

An Ominous Fall Day

I wanted to write lightheartedly and was determined to do that. After days of pondering and stewing, no topic reached out to me.

Fall is my favorite season but it seems an inescapably sad time of year. Those I’ve loved who’ve died all passed in fall and now there’s the foreboding loss of a dear friend. Maybe seasons1that’s reason enough. No matter how I’ve tried I can’t seem to shake the melancholy.

Nature itself is dying. It teaches us to know that there will be new life and fresh vigor. For fall-season-lovers like me, we also know there will come new beauty in a new winter.

Dogwood trees are turning leaves and a small woods out back is thinning again, its gray jagged branches reaching up from what green remains. Colorful leaves dot the ground and many that aren’t float in breezes soon to turn bitter cold. Snowflakes will fall, hopefully the heavy gentle, silent ones that I love so much, bringing to peace reminders of the sadness.

Surely our lives cycle in the same ways as nature. I cannot imagine a better example of what life is than the reliable cycles of seasons. Surely God gave those to us for that very reason. Could it be any more obvious?

Is it wrong to look forward to dying? Is it strange to think of it as much as I do right now? Sometimes I look forward to it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes dying feels like a grand reprieve to all of the struggle it takes to live; other times it feels like a scary journey that I’m not sure I’m prepared to take. In the meantime I still wake up every day and as long as I do that I have to suppose there’s a reason for it. As natural as death should feel it never does.

seasons2I’m in the fall season of a lifetime … my leaves have blown around for a while now and my branches reach up in a starker gray. When my time comes I hope it’s as peaceful and pure as that first walk in a freshly fallen, heavy & silent white snow.

Marie’s home is just a door down from me. For the first time I can recall, at my pup’s mid-morning outing all of Marie’s blinds are drawn tightly closed .No one is seen or heard moving about or coming & going. Sitting out with my pup, even she keeps poking her head around the corner, seemingly curious herself why there is no activity or, perhaps, instinctively knowing.

That makes this fall day feel all the more ominous.

 

I Can’t Afford to Die

Back when death was a less cognitive matter and always finding myself alone, I wanted a lyric from the song “Just A Gigolo” on my headstone:

“I ain’t got no body … no body cares for me”dlroth

Given the song’s popularity, I thought it an ingenious and laughable pun expressing my inevitable legacy. (https://youtu.be/MFV1biHrOBU)

Well, I’m considerably older now. It’s time to give more serious thought to these things and save grief for family who care enough to concern themselves. That will fall on grandchildren whose young lives are least prepared and can least afford it. Given my demise is a lot closer to my doorstep than when Mr. Roth was a big hit, I figure I should do what I can while I’m here to do it and, more importantly, to pay for it.

Having done no preplanning of any substance, the first thing I had to decide was ‘where’ to be buried. I’ve mulled this over for a few years. The only place that makes any sense is in our hometown family plots, where Dad and my baby sister are and where all of the friends who knew me best live. I do love the idea of and there’s something really comforting about spending eternity with Dad.

I already knew I wanted an inexpensive burial, which includes cremation, because the cost of anything else is just impracticably ludicrous. I never was one for fanfare and if family wants more they can do that. Given the outlandish cost of burials now I’d rather leave whatever I have for those I love to better their lives than “take it with me” in some ceremony. “Keep it simple stupid” is my motto.

It should all be that simple. Right? Au contraire.

I’d be content for someone to sprinkle my ashes with loved ones in our family lots. So first I inquired about putting a simple marker with my Dad & sister’s, even if a just a small grass foot marker. Having been a genealogy buff, a marker of some sort is really important to me regardless where my ashes go andheadstone1 I think everyone should have one memorializing their life. Dad believed that, too, taking great measures to ensure one for our mother years after they’d lived very separate lives.

Of course, the cemetery can’t allow a simple head or foot marker on someone else’s plot without a bunch of rigmarole. The complications were unbelievable if not incomprehensible. This is a small, rural town so I figured let me see how “cheaply” I could get the whole shebang simply done.

There is no word “simply” in the burial business. But I was ecstatic to learn that some 60-years ago Dad bought burial plots for all of us. There were more than enough to go around. That sounds like a good thing, right? Au contraire again … and in more ways than the obvious so I’ll elaborate one step at a time.

I thought I was prepared for a simple DIY cost. People need dollar-sign headstones with their investment etched into them, for certainly it is an investment of no small measure. Can’t you just envision a cemetery with all of its headstones as dollar signs? Wouldn’t that vision be a more apt impression for all of its passerbys? To DIY you need the equivalent of a General Contractor foreman just to gather hidden costs that come from every direction. Thank you Government Regulations for making those even more cumbersome and costly.

Now I’m a newbie at this but I’ve learned some states have laws about whether you must use a vault for an urn with cremated remains and what kind of vault you must use. Think about that. I’m just a lay person but what the heck could possibly be more sanitary than remains incinerated into pebbles by an 2100-degree furnace then soundly sealed in urnsome ridiculously expensive urn of reputable quality? It makes more sense that the urn itself would be more environmentally unfriendly than the remains in it.

Give me a break. Just get your Sharpie permanent ink marker and put me a Coke bottle, since environmentalists say those last 1,000 years. Better yet, let my ashes go to dust as was meant to be and where, I assure you, millions have gone before.

Some states have laws making it difficult and more costly (if not impossible) to be cremated in one state and interred in another, which, if you want that, is the only cost-effective way to do it. Else we incur cost of transporting an entire body? God forbid common sense prevail. Cemeteries also have regulations for how many cremations are allowed per grave. Hey – here’s a novel idea: let me have a head or foot marker and don’t put me anywhere in your cemetery. I’ll sit on a shelf in the closet and haunt my loved ones. Oh yeh … I’d pay to do that.

The list goes on and on and I ask you how laymen are supposed to wade through all of this? It’s the equivalent of being penalized for not filing taxes when the Pied Pipers have made doing that so unreasonably complicated we’re forced to pay others to do them. Of course this industry is geared to paying funeral homes something in the range of $10,000. Talk about a monopoly that taps into every single one of our pockets with no escape and no alternative. What’s wrong with this picture? When did dying stop being a natural God-given right?

All I can say is, funeral homes must have one heck of a political lobby. But death is inevitable and they have the market on it, so they don’t have to worry about the cost of dying. Sometimes I think those who come up with this stuff find themselves so entitled they’ll somehow avoid consequences of the hereafter all together.

God forbid you do wade through this menagerie and get something wrong. Then all of your DIY due diligence was meaningless banter. The forces that be come back on your least-informed family when you’re too long gone to dispute them, because someone has to pay the Pied Pipers. I can almost ‘rest assured’ knowing that’s bound to happen even if you pay big bucks to a funeral home. There’s always some new way to cop a few extra and the buck stops with us long after we have.

Things like this make me want to claim myself a Libertarian (political party wanting the least government oversight and intervention.)

Because my Father died either not knowing or thinking these meager burial plots would be easily and equitably distributed by surviving family, they apparently converted as jointly owned property among his living heirs. And, uhhh, thanks to Government Pied Pipers, all estateplanfive of his heirs now have one-fifth joint interest in each plot. This assumes he didn’t have a will: in my world only God knows and it’s an awkward thing to ask.

It’s safe to say when one of us die our one-fifth fraction of joint ownership becomes more fragmented by virtue of its transfer among all of our living heirs (unless willed otherwise). The logistics are mind boggling. Who thinks up this stuff and how much are we paying them?

Anyone who knows families also knows the differences between individuals in them and the dysfunction that can develop because of those differences. In the best of families it’s all but impossible to get any two people to agree, let alone five, but that’s especially difficult when dysfunction has evolved. Suffice it to say our only option is to ask the others to ‘relinquish’ their one-fifth ownership. Oh sigh. Not a pleasant undertaking, of a most unpleasant topic, in any circumstance.

Against those foreseeable odds and with hope it’s always possible to be pleasantly surprised, I began the undertaking. Would others ‘relinquish’ the final resting places Dad bought for us as children? In the past I’ve given some low marks, but this will be the ultimate test of family character. Stay tuned.

Perhaps the good news is, the number of cremated burials that could take place in Dad’s plots is twenty. Surely that’s enough to go around. It’s also reasonable to think that the majority if not all of the other four – all with more means and extended families of their own than I – would want to be buried elsewhere where they’ve etched their own lifelong relationships.

So while that plays out I needed to think about other costs. There is that whole conglomerate of issues about where and how to be cremated. Then there are cemetery fees and, of course, the costdyinginfamously expensive headstone. Then buying an urn and vault if required. None of this touches on funeral home costs if necessary to get remains from one state to the burial site of another.

There’s a lot more footwork to do, but I’m guessing cremation would cost upward of $3,000. The urn is probably around $250; the vault, who knows, maybe $750 for one to hold an urn. A meager but reasonable headstone is likely upward of $2,500. Cemetery charges for placing a headstone and/or private grave digger for opening & closing the grave would probably run another $350, but cemetery costs can’t be prepaid so the family ends up with those anyway and we can only hope that doesn’t skyrocket. If you don’t have a plot and depending on where you live (are buried), they can add another cost between $500 to upward of $4,000.

affordSkimming it down to some form of a DIY, not including plot or funeral home “foreman” charges if need be, it’ll cost about $6,800 just for me to die. Oh sigh. It’s a good thing I started early. I need to keep trimming … maybe a smaller headstone or dig the hole myself, because my gigolo years are well behind me.

 

Sometimes You Have to Go Sideways to Go Up

Looking forward, upward, northward all have connotations that somehow we’re moving in the right direction, we’re trying, we’re making progress and, somehow, we’ll get to wherever it is we think we’re going.

Now you have to remember, I come from the generation of sprawling handheld maps … and flashlights if you needed a map in the dark, in the car, where you always did most need it and where there never was room to outstretch it let alone the third hand to hold the lost1flashlight. That’s what your mouth or armpit were for. If you wore reading glasses you’d better remember to put those on or just as you got it all juggled into place you had to put it all down to find your glasses then start all over again. Maps were so familiar to me I could even refold one, oh yes I could.

If I can’t envision myself on a map then I can’t envision where I am – period. Sometimes I watch the weather channel just to remind myself where I am now. GPS is little more than a cruel joke to people like me. But I digress …

I don’t know about you and it’s probably obvious by now that I’m one of those directionally-challenged individuals, as in, it doesn’t come second-nature to know where I am or how I got there or how to get back to where I am going. When I’m trying to get my bearings, in my head I first try to find North because all else navigates around it. Once I know where North is I can visualize where I should be – or at least try to be – and even then it’s a challenge because I have to figure out how far North I am or should be in the first place.

I imagine this is much different for someone who lives so far North everything else is South. That happened to me once when I was watching the weather channel. It caught me by total surprise, asking myself just how the heck I ended up there. I should’ve looked at a map before finding that place, because that’s one time I certainly had no desire to be that far North. I don’t do that any more.

Sometimes I’ve headed so far South thinking I was going North that by the time I realized I was going in the wrong direction I was so far South that getting to my Northern destination required covering a lot of old ground I’d sworn I would never cover again. As in, lost4literally swore after finding myself there. When fresh new Northern territory started feeling all comfortable again, I’d eventually find myself fighting that same old head-South tendency. ~Sigh~  Maybe it’s kind of like needing to reread a paragraph you’ve already read because you didn’t get it the first time or, just in case you didn’t, you wanted to make sure you did. Yeh, I do tend to do a lot of that.

Funny thing, though, I rarely find myself veering East or West. A wise friend once told me, God rest his football strategy loving soul, “Sometimes you have to go sideways to go up.” I can drift slightly East or West but I’m forever needing to redirect myself Northward. Forward. Upward. I’m in too big a hurry to be sidetracked by sideways, which ultimately, inevitably, sidetracks me all the more South only making my Northern trek an even more challenging one.

 

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “South.”

 

Selfish Sacrifices

It came second nature to make sacrifices for others. Sacrificing for someone else made me feel good about myself in ways few things could so, oddly, it was also selfish. I suppose everything we choose to do, in its rawest form, is tainted by selfishness.

There are sacrifice2amazing forms of sacrifice, the highest order being someone who is willing to give their life for someone else. Mothers could say that the most profound sacrifices they’ve made were for their children and probably more mothers than you realize would lay down their lives for their children.

Children are typically with us for the better part of a mother’s life and, in good part, that’s because of the sacrifices we make. They come to us so innocent and helpless there is little else to consider but giving everything we have to make their living and their growth and their comforts the best we can possibly give. That requires self-sacrifice.

I was a struggling mother for most of my child’s life so the sacrifices I made were tough to come by, but I readily recognize there were mothers – and children – who had it much tougher. Doing what’s toughest to do for someone else, but doing it anyway, is the purest form of sacrifice. We want to believe those spawn goodness of their own and that we’ve made some bigger-than-ourselves contribution to a bigger world

Filling children’s most demanding needs extends well into their own self-sufficiency, whatever age that may be. Some mothers spend entire lifetimes caring for children who are incapable of sacrifice1caring for themselves. That’s a huge and most admirable, long-suffering sacrifice –  I can’t imagine there’s anything more selfless than that.

Other mothers sacrifice until having put a child through school, finally able to turn attentions back to themselves by the time the child is a young adult. Many mothers end up rearing their child’s children, which can be a most unnatural but necessary thing. Then the cycle of self-sacrifice starts all over again.

There are mothers who lose a child before their time and I can only try to imagine feeling more of a loss of sacrifices, be those realized or only hoped for. I did come to question just which loss of sacrifice could possibly be worse, as my own felt surely it must be the most painful. Truth be told there is no measure for any mother’s loss of her love & investment in her child.

Regardless of personal circumstances and her ability to sacrifice, a mother’s hopes in the end are that they’ve sent good human beings into the world; that they, themselves, are loved & appreciated for the love they’ve so generously given; and that they’ve passed-on the value of self-sacrifice to their children, whether that be for bettering the life of a child who couldn’t do it for themselves or for the child-who-could’s children, and so on.

Sometimes it works out that way … sometimes it doesn’t.

My only child is estranged for reasons I stopped trying to figure out years ago. I have no regrets about the sacrifices I’d made. That is what sacrifice is. If, knowing this outcome, I had it all to do over again, I would. Whatever they believed missing in their life was not for lack of sacrifice in giving all that I could.

We do the best we can with what we know and when we know more we do better. [Paraphrased, Maya Angelou]

The thing about true sacrifice is, you give of yourself not expecting anything back other than the personal gratification you may take away from it in the moment.

 

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Sacrifice.”

 

My Jeans Are Shrinking

jeans1It was so easy to stay fit as a kid and young adult. Activity took care of things. I must’ve been about 40 when I noticed my jeans shrinking. It seemed odd that after all of their launderings they would start shrinking now, but I knew it had to be the clothes drier.

My ex was a huge man, part by inherent build and a lot by indulging comfort foods. If he wasn’t talking about his next meal he was making grocery lists & menus to plan for it or shopping or cooking or eating its leftovers. He loved buying food almost as much as he loved eating it. You could literally hear him salivating from across the room as he fondled food from the grocery store in putting it away. For many more deep-rooted reasons than these he came to represent all the disgust of a fat, self-indulgent slob.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, every time he came back from the grocery store (which was daily) or every time he cooked he demanded praise for what a good choice in food he’d made or what a bargain he’d found or how well he’d cooked a meal. If I failed proper umph in my praises he bombarded with temper tantrums accusing that I didn’t highly-enough regard his exceptional self. It was easier to belabor praises than to deal with the punitive fits and I suppose that was the whole goal of them. [Vent done.]

You aren’t married to a spouse like that without acclimating to food yourself. It wasn’t jeans3until after we divorced that I realized why I had such difficulty cooking for one person. I was so used to feeding him that only then did I realize he ate enough at one meal for a family of four. My considerably more meager, natural appetite was a mere fraction of what I ate in trying to appease his overly-inflated appetite and ego. [Okay, vent really is done now.]

Between the stresses of divorce and not eating all of the food I used to, I lost about 30-pounds. That was fine by me, it was a gradual loss and I was finally back to a weight of many years earlier. Man, did that feel good. At one point I got so thin that I deliberately bought fatty foods (whole milk rather than 2% and such) to keep from losing more. I weighed myself every day to make sure I didn’t lose too much weight. What an irregular but enjoyable freedom of mind that was!

Though I put clothes shopping off longer than reasonable, eventually I had to buy clothes that fit. I would still, invariably, head directly for plus sizes in a department store. That was instinctual. I’d have to force myself to slowly migrate into sections of the store that I hadn’t jeans2seen in years. While examining myself in a mirror once, determining whether an XL jacket fit okay, it took a passer-by who must’ve been thinking surely I couldn’t be serious, to yell out, “You need a smaller size, that’s way too big!

So now I have three sizes in my closet: those that fit when I was thinnest; those that fit now, where I am so comfortable; and those that fit back when I was way too heavy to live in my own skin. It’s almost three years and I gradually gave away most of the larger sizes, finally confident I would never be – and never wanting to be – that weight again.

After these brief few years of feeling good about my weight, all of the sudden my jeans started shrinking (again). I cut back the quantity of what I eat (again) then I started buying low calorie products (again) and still my jeans keep shrinking. This is getting scary. I’ll be darned if I am going to the expense of another wardrobe OR feeling as lousy as I felt when I weighed too much. That is unacceptable. With my jeans still shrinking, the next thing to try is ~gulp~ activity.

I’ve considered taking walks. I think about it every day and with our beautiful weather right now there is no better time. With all of the thought I give to walking it feels like I should lose weight by just thinking about it so much. Isn’t that a form of activity? It should be. I never was one for aimless walks or redundant exercise. Walking could be enjoyable, I tell myself every day, as I continue to hide from people.

Ironically, my logical if only-to-me deterrent for taking walks is “I have nothing to wear.”jeans4 The only thing left is to replace my clothes drier, for surely it must be the culprit just as I suspected some twenty years ago.