MY WAY

Oh how we would all like to have it “our way”. From our burgers to everyday events, to be able to call the shots would be life changing for sure. Maybe a little bit boring if you always knew what you were in for. Or maybe you would always be living in fear of the known rather than the unknown. Who knows. We all know fear is to be released.

This I know. My Mom always liked things her way. She liked to be in control. She was truthful with her own truth if that makes sense. She always knew her feelings on.a matter and would not hesitate to share those feelings truthfully. What a blessing that mush have been for herself.

“A blessing and a curse” I have been fond of saying lately. It could have been a burden to have such a strong need to express your own truth, at all times. Not always welcome, the truth would lay before Mom like an intense ray of light. A light illuminating the way for those prepared to join her in her journey. It was sometimes seen as a blinding light for those too fearful or unprepared to walk that walk with her.

Frankly Francine would have been 85 this past week. Had she felt good I believe she would have been glad to stay home and wander around her garden or else in the kitchen. Even in good health she had begun to see the traffic and political nonsense in the public as deterrants making it more challenging to be out and about too much. The kitchen would be alive with sights and smells and a variety edible offerings. I can see myself outside by their pool with my dog. Mom would open the door to the backyard at repeated intervals. Her voice would reach me to ask for an update on my comfort level, my need for food or drink along with the reminder of the coolness she was enjoying inside with the air-conditioning if I cared to join her there.

I would love to hear that voice right now. It plays in my head but the vibration is no longer on the air. My ears ache for it so I play some Sinatra and listen to his tale of doing it “his way”.

I hope Mom left us with regrets too few to mention. I believe she lived a life that was full and more than this, she did it “her way”!

And now the end is near

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived, a life that’s full

I travelled each and every highway

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do

I saw it through, without exemption

I planned each chartered course

Each careful step along the by-way

And more, much more than this

I did it, my way

Yes, there were times

I’m sure you knew

When I bit off, more than I could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out

I faced it all, and I stood tall

And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried

I’ve had my fill, my share of losing

And now, as tears subside

I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that

And may I say, not in a shy way

Oh no, oh no not me

I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got?

If not himself, then he has naught

To say the things he truly feels

And not the words of one who kneels

The record shows, I took the blows

And did it my way.

Bravo Mom! I love you. Happy Birthday. Your daughter, Deb aka Decidedly Debra

A Mother’s Day Letter to Frankly Francine

Dear Francine,

It is my first letter to you without you being here to actually read it. You have always been the one to tell me I should write more. How appropriate then I do just that on my first Mother’s Day without you here.

I must admit I feel you close nonetheless. That is such a comfort as Dad and I are both navigating uncharted waters without you here at the helm.

I posted an early black and white picture of you recently (reposted here below). In it you are posed and so beautiful. Until recently I had no idea it was a modeling agency’s head shot. It is stunning. I see my own eyes in yours. I am warmed by your beautiful smile and what I know must be your ruby red lips showing the whitest of teeth below your soft and flawless cheeks. Your dark hair compliments what appears to be a dark satin embroidered dress.

This is a picture that is all too familiar to me. I can’t remember not seeing it on Dad’s desk actually. Yet it is as if I am really seeing it for the first time. Your intense yet sincere youthful gaze expresses your beauty so perfectly. I am glad for the opportunity to always remember you this way rather than the view of your last days here with us as your health and body failed you. I will file that image away to only be recalled when absolutely necessary. I’m sure that is preferable to you as well.

The last months for you were unexplainable and an unsolved mystery in my view. The medical professionals were hard pressed to offer relief. To that end I am grateful you are at peace and no longer struggling to solve or make sense of the conditions of aging and failures set upon you.

Like a child with her teddy bear, I now cling tightly to all you have given me. The ability to be independent and loving are the most formidable. While I will never be the great cook and well attired package you presented to the world, I can prepare a decent meal, maintain a garden to some extent and coordinate my own style when necessary, all thanks to you Mom. More importantly, I have a bit of your insight which is priceless. To be able to hear what hasn’t actually been said and see what has not yet revealed itself is golden.

Dad has been coming to dinner on Sunday nights. Like your own father was known to do, he always claims it to be delicious.

So thank you Mom. Whether near or far, here or there, I am so proud and grateful and always happy to call you Mom. As much as I miss you, these things will never leave me.

I love that and I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.

Always,

Decidedly Debra

My Mother, Francine Lockett, aka “Frankly Francine”

21 Days

21 Days…

They say it takes 21 days to create or even break a habit. 

Not true!

I’m here to tell you that after 21 days I am still fighting the urge to pick up the phone and call my Mom.  I want to ask her what is for dinner.  Does she need anything?  Is there a day soon we might go to Chico’s and shop a little?

Now I am blessed to call my Dad and see what he is going to do for dinner.  His 21 days are similarly spent fighting the needs of a husband of 69 years.  No longer is he finding the need to complete the same loving honey-do list.  Sadly.   

I find the days are spent wondering what to do with your time since everything is so different.

So in 21 days I hope to have a new habit.  A new focus.  A new direction.  One that in 21 days after that might show some signs of a promising adventure (or two) still left to bite in to. 

In the meantime, how then do I find the patch to place on my skin that fights the habit and will take the edge off this yet unresolved habit of no Mother to call to or physically hug or hear the reason in her voice? 

I guess the answer may well be that it wasn’t really a habit after all.  It was a love.  It was a relationship.  It was an invitation accepted to share in one another’s lives on a more intimate earthbound level.  Not for 21 days, but for a lifetime, this lifetime. 

We miss you Mom!

Love,

Decidedly Debra

Then What – Now What

It has been 5 days since Mom has passed.  It has been many more days since she has been feeling well.  We were not all that aware of just how ill she really was until the last 2 weeks. 

I’m struggling today.  I want to honor my Mother in the sincerest of ways.  Obituaries are now offered online with templates for producing the life stories of your loved ones for the sharing.  The ability for others to leave comments in support is certainly lovely.

I’m afraid it seems like it is a canned effort to skate through the process to me.  It seems like a spot ripe for phishing in today’s world of fraud and assumed identity.  It seems the least favorable way to share the love my father and I have for this woman I call Mom, Dad called his love for over 70 years and who you may know as “Frankly Francine”.

My Dad and I are painfully aware of who Francine was and how much she will be missed.  In an effort to share that support and love with those who knew and loved her as well, I offer the following words;

One of my first memories of Francine is remembering holding tight to her neck as she brought me to my first day of preschool.  I begged her not to leave me.  My tiny sobs and uncontrollable breaths must have been etched into her mind as she managed to turn away from me and leave.  Her strength has never wavered during hard decisions, personally or professionally.  Dad and me as well as those who loved her were blessed with her courage and foresight.   Some might say it was a blessing and a curse.  But thank God Mom had the “stuff” to speak the truth as she saw it.  She saw situations clearly and predicted the outcomes correctly 99% of the time.

Professionally is where I believe Mom really enjoyed herself.  She was blessed with beauty and respected and protected it.  Never frivolous Mom sparkled in my first memory of her working which was as counter sales at the once posh Lakeside Pharmacy in Toluca Lake.  She must have been about 23 or so.  She had a classic and simple, sophisticated style that made her a perfect addition to the glamourous surroundings there.

Ever ambitious Mom studied hard and passed her Real Estate exam and began a new career.  Her alliance with her first mentor in this field was impactful and she honed her ability to speak to others without jeopardizing her reputation as a professional, respected woman, loving mother and committed and loving partner to her husband, my Dad.  Sixty-nine years married – whew!  I always knew that any task my Mom took on would be successfully completed, someway, somehow – Mom never shied away from her commitments.

After real estate Mom ventured back to school to learn more about running her flower and plant business in Glendale.  She opened it after the tutelage of another mentor in the field and many college classes that gave her the technical skills.  Her business also fostered her natural eye for design so she could enjoy her success at her shop in Glendale for several years.  Dad helped craft many works of art while I tried to help with flower deliveries and plant watering.  It was hard work, but it was a loving and fun family affair as well.

Once I became more independent Mom ventured back out into the corporate world where she spent the remainder of her working life.  She was ultimately the first woman corporate vice president in her company of approximately 250 employees.  How she shined when she began this journey and how she grew as a problem solver and shrewd businesswoman.  I would not be the person I am in my retired corporate career if not for her.  The family business of a successful insurance company came to embrace her midway through her corporate career and the same family business has embraced me for the last 25 years of mine.  We have had the bonus of sharing this with each other – admittedly leaving my dad free to nurture her (us) with their (our) adventures away from the office.

Mom loved getting paid to problem solve.  She wasn’t really big on hobbies.  She did enjoy her time with the Orchid Club.  It promoted her love of garden and flowers.  She made a good and lasting friend there.

Mom thrived for a time with Toast Masters.  It was ever her gift to gab and share her thoughts and opinions and that most often earned you a place in her heart.  If you could listen, if you could stand her heat, you could enjoy her fire.  Simply put, if she had strong words for you, chances are she had strong feelings for you as well. 

Most recently Mom spent time counseling herself and her willingness to heal herself with the help of those “practicing” medicine.   Her longtime skin issues ran interference with her ability to focus on her other vitals.  I’m guessing it was not always comfortable in her skin, but I’m confident she was always comfortable with herself. 

So knowing peace for Mom after her more than eight decades on this earth and cheering all of us on while she kept pace with the race and uniquely thrived, I set my heart free of her earthly self which I will miss tremendously and always as I embrace her forever self.  The one I know I will see again.  The one I know continues to shine down on us.   

Goodbye Mom, wife, family, friend, Frankly Francine.  I love you and will miss you.

Always proud to be your daughter!

Decidedly Debra

Purpose

I suspect Purpose is the reasoning behind just about everything. Without it we are rudderless in a sea of intoxicating peril. Navigating through the sludge of life without Purpose might have you rolling with the tide. For some, that may indeed work. For most, it is a lackluster and unrewarding existence based on the Purpose of those around you. They will push and pull you in any direction they can without regard for the rocky reefs that you may encounter.

Can you keep your Purpose when heading for the rocky shores? Can you weather the storms? Are you in sync with the ebb and flow of things?

“I’m not sure” is my answer.

I feel like a surfer who has paddled far out to sea waiting for the next wave. The sets are forming yet they are not there yet. How to proceed remains an unknown at this point, yet the Purpose is to prepare for the next set.

I watch my Mom and I can see she is weary at the end of her day. I can sense that sometimes the day starts for her with a tiredness. The Purpose is perhaps seemingly mindless yet nagging tasks that bring little reward.

These days seem to be, to me, without much Purpose. The joie-de-vive is gone. The Purpose? No more than a chore to be accomplished on an itemized list. Gone is the excitement of the unknown. It is replaced now with the aggravated notion that what we attempt to accomplish seems futile.

Customer service is no longer the Purpose we should set out to find as it appears to be lost to us in a technological and digitally processed series of recordings and buttons to push. The Purpose better then lie in the FAQ’s or you may find yourself clueless as how to proceed. It leaves us unrewarded as we evaluate our journey to the place we call “Wits End”. Certainly a place whose only Purpose is to deceive. It’s a smoke and mirrors game at best.

So how do we keep our Purpose positive when it becomes ever more elusive as we age? I think making our Purpose joyful may help. The chores are always going to require our attention, but if we can find time to enjoy something about that process we may be better off. When we can appreciate the Purpose is no longer to merely get up and go to work to get paid for our aggravation, but rather it is time to simmer down and find a way to relax into it. To make that adjustment and fine tune our attitudes so we can manage to make finding time to relax and appreciate the things we have worked so hard for a joyful possibility.

Find a younger soul who will value your knowledge as you teach them how to help you. Make your Purpose one to admire as you mentor another on their journey. Clear the path of confusion as you Purposefully offer your experience to those who can help teach you new ways to navigate in today’s advancing world of technology and electronics.

No matter what your age – the lesson for today is to let your Purpose always be fueled by love and learning and the growth that brings, at any age.

With love,
Decidedly Debra

To Mask or Not to Mask

Suggestive of the modern day version of “TO BE OR NOT TO BE”

It’s quite the kerfuffle these days.  People standing too close while ungloved and unmasked capers simultaneously occur in the form of peaceful protests mixed with a bit of rioting (some paid for) and rabble-rousing and even a murder or two stirred in.  

I bristle each time I discover I’ve driven myself in a closed up car for any length of time with my mask on.  We are in at least our seventh month of mask requirements yet I suddenly find myself forgetting my mask in the car constantly.  I am certain it is a form of subversive rebellion on my part, but it’s annoying.  To have to walk a significant part of the same route, once without mask, return, repeat, once with mask. It’s become laughable since I now do it so often.  I’m hopeful it is not something that actually requires medical and/or mental attention at this point.

So here’s my conclusion.  It seems we are focused on all of the fact and fiction that is bombarding us on a minute by minute basis each and every day.  Pile the election nonsense on top of that and I believe you have the makings of a real mental wildfire.  (Similarly, I now advocate clearing a safe zone cleared of debris from around your mind to help safely manage the raging sparks and hot spots that may be near.  Once your brain is secure and knowing it has a safety zone, then and only then should you choose to cross over into the forest of news, opinions and complaints, lies and perhaps even truth.  But we know that to ignore orders to evacuate from an overload of info is just asking for trouble.) I’m happy to report my mind’s wildfire is at nearly 80% containment.

So, back to masks.  Like keeping the collective and various germs from coming in, it also limits the outgoing.  We now find ourselves trying to block the bombardment of germ-y information coming in that we seek to protect ourselves from. 

Also like the masks, we limit our individual stuff that goes out.  The very thing that makes each of us shine uniquely and allows for a show of love and  support and involvement can’t get to those who need it most.  Frankly, it scares me. 

My wish for today is that we remember to let our light shine.  Find a way to let the goodness flow outward, unmasked.  Please, don’t spend each and every day covering yourself from not just the icky stuff, but the good stuff that puts all the bad in its place.  It really helps to keep things in perspective.  We need a little of the worm to reveal the butterfly.  Otherwise, everything just seems masked and unresolved – lonely and contagious.  We need one another.  Masked or unmasked, we need to Be or Not To Be, together.

Decidedly Debra

Where Life Leads

Almost three years ago God demonstrated abundant Grace in my life. I was given the opportunity and arranged to stay with a friend’s Mom after work and through out the week nights. It was a commuting dream which I had been praying on for months. Alas!

This 91 year old woman (now 93 at the time of this post) has been remarkable to me. So many lessons to learn from her. So many stories to be heard. Her silver hair hangs nearly to her shoulders as she swipes the bangs styled to fall slightly to her right when they are not clipped to that side. She speaks in nearly a mumble and it takes some time to pick up the rhythm of her speech. Once in sync, it becomes clear this woman has a terrific and even scampish sense of humor.

For most nights we watch reruns of some favorite sitcoms. Often having seen each episode at least 3 times, we laugh. We know the joke before it comes, and we laugh. Sometimes the commercial breaks are filled with laughter as we recover from a funny line we’ve heard and commented on before. We roll it around in conversation for even further examination of humor and soon discover it is still funny. We reward it with another round of laughter. Perhaps we wait a day or two and slip it into conversation. We each wait a moment for the recognition, knowing the smile that is guaranteed to follow. Sort of an inside joke between just us.

Confusion begins to take a peek into our consciousness at some point. It is unobtrusive and fairly easy to moderate. A misplaced thought is easily redirected to correctness. A bad feeling is explained and the psyche is soothed. Through it all the observer sees unconditional love is expressed. But wait, it is expressed through animals. The love of dog becomes overwhelming and unhealthy. An imbalance begins to teeter-totter between the harmony and denial that sides with each of its riders this day. And then the next. This imbalance creates an inability to navigate the see-saw any longer. It seems denial is stuck up in the air and harmony will not let it drop down and dismount this ride.

A sudden event alters the course of these actions dramatically. It is instead replaced with sadness and regret. As we know, change is often unwelcome. Even when we are looking forward to change in our lives, it is often met with uncertainty and causes some discomfort or angst. It almost always requires significant work on our part if we hope to navigate our change for the better.

To that end, the ego fights hard to hang on to the past. Like a scorned lover it prefers to spend time lazing in the what-ifs and the could have beens. If you listen there, you will hear it and that may be how you spend your days. Or, what if we recognize that those things that once served us well are no longer necessary baggage for our journey. We can lighten our load. We can know that we have a joyful journey ahead of us, thanks to the lessons learned on the path we have already traveled.

With that blessing, we know the best is yet to come. With that promise of the purest and most Divine Love we know where life leads.

Embrace the journey!
Embrace it with Love.
-Decidedly Debra

The Shoes We Wear

“No one walks in our shoes.” That is a statement I have heard a time or two. It is true. It should be obvious but it seems to be a concept that gets lost in the latest kerfuffle all too often.

I realize that although my own belief is strong that we are universally connected to one another we nonetheless each walk a unique journey. Unique to our human experiences or, to the shoes we walk in let’s say. Like cells in our body we have unique purposes but are all still a part of the whole, which is also part of the whole, the whole that I would call God.

Sometimes we are particularly mindful of the shoes that are unfilled. The loss of those whose shoes were worn by our nearest and dearest and that can never be filled again any further. At least not in this lifetime. Maybe the shoes never were filled. In some cases, like in my case, it might be the shoes of a spouse or motherhood that have never been filled in this lifetime, etc.

Conversations abound as of late regarding the shoes we have worn, the shoes we are currently wearing (or filling) or the shoes we might expect to fill one day. For myself I know the appeal of the spikey hi-heels of my 20’s and 30’s has diminished dramatically. The nervous click-ity-clack of the self-conscious yet motivated young woman was replaced by by a more confident regular high heel, now also left behind. The era of the still confident yet stylish and comfy shoe is more of a reality now, with an occasional spunky twist. The future undoubtedly will bring an ever more sensible shoe to walk my journey in.

My point in this post is just this; whatever the footwear, I hope the shoes you (we) walk in are comfortable for each of us. I know they will take us each down the exact right path. I do have faith that in that affirmation all things are possible.

So if the shoe fits, wear it.

Walk on, enjoy the journey!
Decidedly Debra

Communication

Communication

Defined as; the imparting or exchanging of information or news.
The spoken word, the written word and implication of an idea that has yet to be spoken…all forms of communication. All so easily misunderstood.

How many times have you sent an email only to be surprised at the reaction of the recipient? Apparently your cleverness did not translate similarly when read. It is easy to misunderstand something spoken. We can spin it so it appears to be more palatable to our emotional well-being. We can interpret some longed for intention we believe underlies in the promise of the words when they are not really there. We can sometimes seem to taste the frustration in the sender’s own words, or feel their sadness hidden in a text or e-mail, or even on the other end of a phone line. It’s the old reading between the lines notion.

There is a hint of appeal in the face of the woman talking to a man she barely knows. It has been realized and recognized as an invitation of some sort. A subconscious desire transcends their language and interrupts the otherwise professional nature of it. Society enters and frames the conversation with shade for the rising levels of inappropriateness. Even the written word is left to arouse temptation and quicken the breath. Words begin to generate the thoughts and entice the wrongness of it. The ego aches to seductively lounge there for a while. The divine consciousness demands evaluation of the need to love more completely and authentically.

A vow, or as the dictionary defines; a solemn promise to do a specified thing. Vows are words that to me should be more able to transcend analysis. They are meant to be spoken fervently and truthfully. They are meant to be recognized lovingly and completely. To me it appears as an insult to do otherwise. They are without loopholes. They are concise, definite statements honoring the willingness to uphold them. When witnessed they pronounce the terms going forward.

Is this why the compliment (a polite expression of praise or admiration) can sometimes be recognized as insulting? While designed to encourage it can often feel or appear to be requesting payment in advance. In other words, it is often meant to have a desired effect. To deny that is naïve.

Wanting to enjoy the compliment rather than be dismayed at its underlying disrespectfulness, it feels somewhat comfortable but also very much like a guilty pleasure. It speaks of acceptance of something less than the deserved whole. It speaks of a price costing unhappiness when brought into the light. It has become part of a negotiation. It is a dance.

I want to communicate this dance without guilt or misunderstanding. I wish to cause no violation of vow. The displeasure I cause may not be of my own doing but rather a casualty of another’s. To reach for it without sincerity means succumbing to ego rather than divine knowledge. The knowledge that I will not benefit from another’s lack is little comfort. The knowing that I look to benefit from communicating in an available partnership is a vow I make to myself. I will find the words.

I was pondering this just this morning. Glad I was for the lack of stimulating conversation previously welcomed but now seeming to require abatement. The suggested references to pleasant pastimes had been successfully avoided for some time now. It seemed to be unappreciated but not for me.

It is true that I was examining the possibilities of such a conversation. I long to speak passionately about the conditions that fill my mind in thought. As the music played the perfect soundtrack for just such an event, reality stood before me. Startled and amused, the words designed to deter inflamed the spirit instead. The words unspoken spoke volumes. They confirm I want to realize my goal. I know nothing less than all of someone’s attention is deserved, not just the juiciest pieces of it.

No longer do I toy with the idea that desire is anything more than folly. I want to reach for it. I want to taste it and learn the unique language it speaks. There will be no history, no consideration, no supportive love, only the longing of the flesh unless the self is honored with the vow of more.

I do.
Decidedly Debra
January 2020

A Birthday to Remember

santa monica

While I believe in astrology, I’ve never really claimed Mercury in Retrograde to be my source of bad luck or unfortunate situations. It is here I would like to note that as of late peculiar events surround many of my outings.

I have a delightful story about a couple of elderly women who were thrown out of a nice restaurant in Marina del Rey recently. They were accused of calling a husband and his expectant wife’s young toddler who was dining with them ‘ugly’. That’s right. According to the manager, who I spoke with for very different reasons, stated they called the couple’s baby ugly and refused to apologize. When discussed with these women as we waited for my car at the valet, the young mother appeared at the front of the restaurant. She promptly gave us the middle finger salute and called my mother a racist piece of, well, shit. It was beyond bazaar. Oh yes, and the young offended couple got their entire meal paid for by the management of said restaurant.

I have a story that followed not long after while I was at a winery in Ojai with friends. This happened in the ladies lounge of their tasting room. A young attractive woman was by the wash basins when I entered. She insisted on showing me a mark on her lower neck. She proudly announced she had gotten it when shoved by another woman who barged into the unlocked stall she had been in. The woman apparently slammed open the stall door as she entered and proclaimed to the young woman that there was some law requiring the door to be locked. The young and allegedly now injured female was outraged and had called the local authorities. She was claiming to have been assaulted. Again, bazaar. The Sheriff’s did come. I can’t tell you how that panned out, I did not stick around.

Before that there had been other incidents at local restaurants. But I think the icing on the cake was my birthday just past. The day was spent with my Mom and Dad and Libby. All people and a pooch that I love the most! I would say Libby is my dog, except she has morphed into our dog, but really my Dad’s dog (they have a love affair going). So we packed the car to the brim and headed down the road so the four of us could spend three nights and nearly four days, in Orange County at a home basically on the water in Balboa Island, CA.

Balboa Island is a place fondly familiar to us as a family. We had been spending time there during many summers for years during my early teens. We were headed to a place we had specifically stayed before. A lovely home on the Grand Canal. The best part is it has an elevator that brings guests to and from the ground level to the upstairs where we were to have our run of the place.  Perfect for an aging dog and her aging family.

With the aches and pains that a 65th birthday may be inclined to manifest on any given day, it was still the Labradoodle that sent us in to a panic mode. It seemed the elevator for some unknown reason appeared to be off limits since the new management company had taken over. Our fourteen year old furry-family-four-legger was simply not going to endure climbing steps to the second floor every time a pee or pooh was required. Even our own anticipated walks for Balboa Bars (famous hand-dipped ice cream bars exclusive to the area) and the parade around town to self-judge the winners of the best decorated homes for Halloween would be all we could expect the good nature in all of us to endure. After all, this was to be a celebratory long weekend, not bootcamp!

Please be reminded that my Mom had been planning my birthday celebration for some time. I honestly think the first roll of my eyes came at least six or seven  months earlier when she asked if we should get a limo and invite a few friends to Ruth Chris’ in Pasadena for a fabulous meal in their private room to celebrate my birthday.

“Mom!” I remember saying at the time …”It’s not until October!” Followed by “But hey, who doesn’t like tacos? Maybe we should just invite some friends over and party in your backyard? We can hire a taco bar for on the patio. It will be fun.” The initial sense I got was it could work.

Thoughts of taco trucks went by the wayside as I began formulating a new plan to host an event at one of our favorite little Italian spots in the Valley. How about if we did it on a night they had their big band playing? I could feel Mom’s doubt seeping in like a thick fog followed by the most dramatic of replies; “Well…if that’s what you re-e-e-e-ally want…I guess…” voice fading as Dad looked relieved to hear at least it wouldn’t be at their house. But if that’s what I re-e-e-e-ally wanted, I was sure he’d be on board with that too.

Mom came up with a brilliant idea a couple of months later to rent the home we had stayed in a couple of years earlier.  The dog enjoyed it, Dad enjoyed it. Mom tolerated it. I enjoyed all of it. So off we went to Balboa Island and our beautiful home for our celebration. Our first evening was planned with my favorite meal being made fresh once we arrived (after cocktails of course).

The check-in instructions had arrived earlier in the week and we again wondered at the no elevator language that was included. But alas, this crack management team (sarcasm isn’t even the word) assured us they were on it and indeed the elevator would be available. A-ha! Are you sensing where this is going?

The point I’d like to make here is this; everyone made special efforts to accommodate one another for the purposes of insuring we all had the best time imaginable. My boss had reluctantly agreed to my time off. I was leaving my elderly friend earlier in the week than normal. My parents had juggled their schedules and already had spent thousands (it’s true) of dollars and time on securing our vacation. There were other incidentals as well too numerous to list but nonetheless appreciated. Plants were watered, newspapers and mail stopped, neighbors on notice, the car washed and gassed, we headed down the road. Traffic was heavy but we still managed in about two hours.

Here’s one of my favorite thoughts ironically speaking. Not wanting to be rude and checking in before the instructed time of 4:00 PM, we went to a nearby restaurant and had drinks and a couple of appetizers in the bar at about 3:00 PM. And no, drinks did not take the sting out of discovering the elevator was locked up tight and no key in sight. Still hopeful. No problem. We climb up the narrow and steep front stairway to cozy up for our call in to the aforementioned management company. Thank God they answer and it doesn’t go to voicemail. Always a gamble. But first, Doodle-bug has to pee. Off we go down the alley way, bag in hand for the larger jobs.

Back to the stairway where I hoist our Furry-Fig what I believe to be 20 or so stairs. No easy task even without a 60 pound lump of love and fur in your face. Neither one of us is amused.

Back to the task at hand. The call is placed. Maintenance is alerted. Discoveries are made. The elevator key has been known to be unavailable for a few days. “Oh-I’m sorry, I don’t know why in the hell your management company didn’t reveal that to us before we made the two plus hour drive to get there this day. Perhaps they didn’t understand when we repeatedly told them the elevator was ESSENTIAL to our stay. We are told a locksmith may be the only option. Yeah, like these folks can pull that off while we wait? I don’t think so. Okay then, they have a comparable property which might suffice. We look at said property on the screen of my iPhone. I think we all were hoping for some magical way to rectify our situation, so we agree to relocate and hoist Libby back down the stairs. We all get back in the car and head to our new but nearby relocation destination.

“I’m not getting out of the car and either is Libby” came the notification from the back seat when we arrived.  “You and your Mother can go in” came the follow up instructions.

Neighboring doors began to open and stare as we pulled in to a parking spot on the street. It was now over six hours since any of us had really eaten. As my Mom and I walked into the front room of this new place and glanced around, we both knew we would not enjoy walking up there. It took no time for us to be joining my Dad in the car and were back on the phone with management.

Our options at this point were not looking too good. In management’s infinite wisdom their policy is anyone who can do anything much more than take a reservation over the phone or computer goes home at 6:00 PM. The explanation was everyone should be checked in by 4:00 PM and would have had the next 2 hours to bring up any issues.  God forbid something major should happen to a property beyond that time.  I’m not buying it.  Yet well past that hour we were told little could be resolved.  The rep could only assure us that maintenance had noted activity on the elevator matter if we wanted to keep the faith and hang in there until further notice. Believe me when I tell you that there was no one that thought there was even a prayer of that happening.

“What about a hotel that takes dogs?” the young man on the phone then suggested.

Apparently he had the authority to arrange that. Thanks but no thanks. With a car full of our stuff and food and 3 of us and a dog to unload into a hotel room?  Even then with only the hope of being able to pack back up again and get into the original house the next day to unpack yet again to enjoy the remaining two days? Ummm…ye…uh…NO!

What did we do you ask? We came home. As the 710 freeway came to a complete halt at 8:30 PM that same night, we sat and marveled at the birthday spent on the highways and byways of Southern California.

Part way home we stopped for the dog’s comfort and in that process an opened bottle of red wine to be used for sauce came crashing out of the back of my SUV. I caught it as most of the red wine splashed from the bottle onto my slacks. It got the attention of a nearby homeless man just outside the 7-Eleven. My Mom asked me what I intended to do with the rest of the wine. I think the homeless man wondered the same thing. The smell was starting to surround us. With three swallows I drank it as I walked the now empty bottle to the trash can.

Funny, but when we finally got back home that night, no one was hungry. I don’t think any of us, including the dog, were happier to be home. The best birthday present ever? Home!

We unpacked. The chocolate birthday cake went back in the fridge. I went home and unpacked. We all woke up in our own wonderful beds and not needing an elevator. Disappointing? Sure! But fortunately it doesn’t end there. We spent the weekend making up for it. I had my planned birthday dinner the next night. The sparkling wine, a gift from work, began the culinary evening. The food and company were delightful! The next day the weather was beautiful and we ate lobster on the pier in Santa Monica. The day after that?  Oh my God, we all went out for a wonderful evening and dinner together. My Mom even included my dearest friend. After we came home and finally did some damage to that chocolate cake!  Where do you think we went for dinner? Ruth Chris’ in Pasadena! Just like Mom suggested those many months ago.

Thank you to my wonderful parents for their love and support and the gifts and their ability to make lemonade out of lemons. It is with much love and thanks to them I write this at the ripe old age of 65. It’s going to be a heck of a year, I can tell.

Love, Always,
Deb aka “Decidedly Debra