Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A CAR HAS NO NAME

So, guess what?

I finally got a new (well, new to me) car!  Aren't you excited? 

Can you at least pretend?  Thanks. :)

I've been saving up for a new car for a couple of years because my poor car was hanging on by a thread.  I was hoping to eventually save up enough money to buy whichever car I chose straight out, because I'd gotten very used to not having a car payment!  Unfortunately, my convertible was beginning to do some things that made me wonder if it was going to last long enough for me to save up the whole thing, which would have taken me a couple more years. Shakes, creaks, and bits falling off I can handle, but once the air conditioner starting skipping out on me, all that went out of the window.  Maybe it makes me a huge weenie, maybe it doesn't, but air conditioning is essential when you live in Devil's Buttcrack, Alabama, where it's 6 inches closer to hell than anyplace else on earth.  No, seriously, that's the town slogan. ; )

Monday night, Steve and I began looking online for some of the new cars I was interested in, but I got discouraged with how much the cars cost. I mean, I know cars cost a lot of money, and I was prepared for that, but it seemed like anytime we found a car I liked and maybe changed a paint color, or wanted an automatic transmission, it was adding on thousands of dollars over what I could afford.  Sigh. 

We stopped looking at the new cars and began looking at the "certified pre-owned" cars at the different dealers around town.  Most of them were either way older than I wanted, or way more expensive than I wanted to pay for a used car, but one caught my eye.  I'd never considered a Volkswagen (unless I could get one of those Mystery Machine type vans, and I'd still totally get one of those if I could) but out of curiosity I checked out their website and they had a 2016 Jetta that had several nice add ons for a very, very reasonable price.  It had 41,445 miles on it, but it had gone through the official check and had a great warranty, so we decided to check it out in person.

My boss was so excited.  He loooooooooves wheeling and dealing with sales people, and so he spent the first half of the day giving me pointers on how to pay lots less than they were asking on the car if I decided to get it.  He even called me on his way home to make sure that I "had my game face on."  Heh.  I assured him I did, but I'm not like him.  The man can walk into Wal-Mart and get a discount on something because he doesn't want to pay retail price, but I'm not that aggressive.  However, I figured I could do a bit of haggling. 

We got to the place and test drove the car, and is there anything more nerve wracking than test driving a car in after work traffic?  Add to that, that the windshield was covered in stickers and papers, and I'm just lucky that I made it to where we went and back!  It drove well, had some nice get up and go, and after I figured out how to adjust the seat and steering wheel, I decided that I liked it fine.  Maybe it wasn't exactly what I set out to get, but it was nice, and I couldn't find anything wrong with it.

We got back to the dealership and sat down, and I was all prepared to start to haggle over the price, but Steve...bless him, he wanted me to have a more reliable car so badly...tried to do it for me. When they wouldn't give him the price he asked for, he caved and agreed to everything.  I did interject and manage to get a little bit of money off.  Not a lot, but still a little is better than nothing!  (My boss was disgusted and wished he could have gone with me. I probably would have walked out of there with them paying me to take it, that's just how good he is.)  I also had to trade in Lois, my convertible.  Bless her heart, she was a good car that held on for a long time, but she was in bad shape.  They were only able to give me $750.00 trade in value on her, and that was being generous.  I checked Kelly Blue Book to make sure, and what they gave me was more than it was worth on there.

At any rate, now I'm the proud owner of a car that was made in this decade!  It doesn't seem to leak, I'm certain that the door doesn't hold water when it rains, air doesn't hiss through various cracks and crevices so loud that you have to shout when you talk, and so far it doesn't sound like it's cracking apart when I drive over bumps! Also, I can play music from my phone on the radio!  That probably doesn't sound like much to you, but for someone who had to make mixed CDs up until early last year (when the CD player quit working in the Seabring and trapped a CD of "Let It Go" in it's guts) it's fun to listen to music I choose!  The only downside of it is if I want to sneakily play a little Marvin Gaye, the name of the song pops up on the LCD screen before the first guitar licks of "Let's Get It On" even come on.  Tsk, tsk, tsk...

I'm also trying to name the car. It's just a thing I do, so don't judge me. I put a poll on Facebook for help choosing, but we've narrowed it down to these:  Joan Jetta, Jetta James, Jetta Li, Kenny "The Jetta" Smith (which is not named after my own personal Kenny Smith, but after the basketball player turned commentator on TNT) or The Cranberry.  So far Joan Jetta is winning, but as of now the car has no name. If any of you fine folks have a recommendation, I'd be glad to hear it. 

Anyway, here is a picture!
I hope we have many adventures together!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A NEW UPDATE

Well, this is not the update I was hoping to give, but it's the one I have.

My brother is not doing well.  He has been in the hospital since Friday night, and his body just doesn't seem to want to work the way it's supposed to.  So far, nothing the doctors have tried is working to make him any better.  He's being fed through an IV, and that's about all they can do right now.

I'm worried about him. I don't want him to be scared or in pain.  I'm worried about my mother, because she is doing everything she can to get him well again, and she won't leave his side longer than an hour at a time and she is stressed beyond reason.

There's nothing I can do, and it feels so helpless.  I don't even know how to pray about it.  It's too much.

He doesn't deserve this. My mom doesn't deserve this.

Every time the phone rings I'm expecting awful news.  I feel guilty every time I eat because I know he can't.  I don't know what to do. There's nothing I can do.

I hate this.

If anyone ever tries to me that all this is happening for a reason, I'll gouge out their damn eyes.

Friday, June 02, 2017

ANOTHER UPDATE

I haven't been talking much about my brother because up until a few days ago, everything was fine.  He wasn't eating much, but the doctor said that was to be expected.  We assumed that after a few months, he would get back to whatever new normal that his surgery would allow.

For the past few days he's been sick.  Not terrible, but not great.  I saw him yesterday when I was out that way, and he seemed OK, even though he hadn't been eating much.  My mom told me about him feeling sick, and she was worried, but he'd just been to the doctor a week before, so again, we assumed it was normal.

Today they had to take him back to the hospital because he wasn't getting any better and he couldn't eat at all.  Some tests they did show that his surgery came undone, and now he's back in the same shape he was before.  According to my mother, there isn't anything they can do for him now.  To try and redo the surgery is too risky, so they are going to send him home and hope for the best.  If he can't eat, then the best isn't so great, is it?

I don't really know what to say about any of this except that it sucks.  Again, please send prayers and good vibes towards my mom and brother.  I'm not sure what will happened from here on, but I know this is going to be very stressful and difficult.

Thanks in advance.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

TODAY

I took the day off today.

I lay in bed a bit longer than I should have, procrastinating the moment when I'd have to get out of bed and begin getting ready for what the day was bringing, but I finally got up and did what I had to do.

I dressed carefully.  I slid on the new, navy blue dress that I'd bought for a special occasion, but today it would be serving as a mourning dress.  I suppose a funeral is still a special occasion, but not the one I had intended the dress for.  I had to be careful about the jewelry I chose, because so much of what I have is big and flashy and inappropriate.  Luckily I found something subdued, my earrings and bracelet both reflected the occasion, having tear shaped pendants attached.  I only realized the significance later on.

I drove back to my home town, if you can call where I'm from a town.  I've been gone from there 17 years, but driving the old roads that I traveled so much when I was a teenager is still second nature.  I know where I'm going without even thinking about it. Things have changed, of course, but not a lot.  In places like that, change isn't much of a priority.

I arrived at the church, which I'd been to before.  Half the people I grew up with had attended it at one time or another so I was familiar with where I was.  I walked through a smattering of people, somber men and women and teenaged boys wearing football jerseys, and was ushered inside by the same smiling man that had presided over my own father's funeral almost 10 years ago.  He hadn't aged very much.

I thought I was running late, but the crowd inside was sparse.  Not knowing the man who sat by the coffin, I found a seat in the back of the church where I would be out of the way, not wanting to intrude on the people who had known the deceased better than I had.  I hadn't been sitting long before I felt someone walk up behind me and put their hand on the pew.  When I looked up, I saw my friend.  

His eyes were red and his face was swollen, but that was to be expected.  His mother had passed away after a long battle with cancer.  However, it's clear that even when you know death is inevitable, the knowledge doesn't dull the pain.  I stood and wrapped my arms around him tightly, hoping, in my way, that I could squeeze away some of the hurt.  My immediate question was "How are you doing?" which we both had a quick laugh about.  He wasn't doing great, obviously, but it seems like that is the question you ask first, no matter what the situation, doesn't it?

We stood in the back of the church and talked for quite a while.  How long had it been since we'd done that?  I'd met him in the band room one random day a hundred years ago.  He was a tall, skinny kid who played the bass drum and suffered from Pectus Excavatum.  Me, in my unfailing tactlessness, made a silly joke about his sunken chest and despite my bad taste, from that minute on we were fast friends.  That's how it was with him.  He was easy to know and easy to love, and I did love him fiercely in the way one does when a friend becomes more like family than anything else.  Of course, knowing how way leads on to way, we lost touch after I graduated high school.  I've seen him twice, maybe three times since, but I've always attacked him with a hug because to me, at least, nothing ever changed.  We talked of other things than his mother, catching up, and I hoped that taking his mind off of the elephant in the room for just a few minutes might help.  I never really know if that's the case, but we joked and chuckled for a bit as more people came in.

He introduced me to his best friend from college, and a steady stream of people from our days in marching band also went in and out of the church. There was a lot of hugging and chatting, as if this had become a combination funeral and class reunion.

The service was lovely and full of music.  His mother was a wonderful lady.  I remember her as a top notch "band mom" who was at every band camp, football game and competition.  She gave of her self tirelessly, taking us all in as her kids at one point or another.  She worked hard to make sure we had what we needed and helped where she could.  She loved our school, and had more school spirit than most of the students.  Her grandsons played football and she was very involved in the booster club. In fact, her pall bearers were all football players and the two coaches.  She was loved at the school.  Her fight with cancer was long and hard, and after a year of remission, it came back with a vengeance.  I sent her hats that I'd made so that she could keep warm during her treatments.  Her final days were painful and her family rallied around her, but ultimately she passed away in her sleep, surrounded by the people she loved and cared about.  You can't really ask for more than that, can you?

When the service was over, we watched as her casket was wheeled out of the church and the procession headed towards her burial plot.  I didn't accompany them, feeling that I didn't really belong at the more intimate service.  I feel bad that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my friend, but I was glad that I'd been able to see him and offer what tiny but of comfort I could.

Funerals are hard.  They are like parties you desperately don't want to attend, but can't get out of.  I used to never go to them, but in recent years I've come to understand that the support you give those left behind can be a lifeline to someone who is hurting.  Chances are, they will never remember who didn't come, but they'll remember the person to hugged them, who encouraged them, who made them smile, and the person who breaks through the shell of sadness and makes them laugh a little, even when their heart is hurting.  I hope I managed to do some good today, even if it was just a little bit.  As I drove back towards home, I thought about my friend and his family, and how they are going to have to heal from their loss, and I thought about all the people who'd been there to show their love and support. I know that ultimately, with all of those that gathered around them in their time of need, they'll eventually find peace.

Rest easy, Ms. Charlotte.