Love Runs Out

My parents…lord love them. They’ve been married for almost 26 years and have been through a lot of shit. A disabled son, a crazy daughter, two houses, multiple cars, family members passing, you name it. My parents have always had a nurturing relationship, but lately, something has changed, and I don’t know what to think of it.

Within the last nine months, I’ve witnessed more fighting and just an overall lack of displeasure with one another. Almost every day they’ll get into a tiff, and almost every day, both of them come to me with their side of the story and indirectly ask me to play mediator. Part of me wishes I could shout, “take care of this shit yourselves; you’re adults!” But, I want to be there for the both of them because I know they have no other outside party to turn to but me.

Most nights, I hear my mother complaining on the phone about my “crabby father” to her sister or her mother. And, most days, you can find them mocking one another behind the other’s back. Usually, in situations like this, I don’t take sides. But, something tells me I have to go with my father. My mother tends to be fairly harsh on my father, getting irritated about his hearing, complaining to his face that’s he’s too angry or too particular, that he takes too long at the store, and the list could go on and on.

At dinner, she’s very short with him, but when he leaves for work in the evening, she always gives him a kiss. Unfortunately, that kiss in the evening is my only reminder that they still love each other. In times past, you could always find my mom laughing at whatever my dad said, curling up to him on the couch, you name it. Now, she prefers to not spend any time with him. Even on the weekends, the only time my dad is not providing for our family, she doesn’t seem to want to be around him.

My father, one of the silliest human beings on the planet, is one of my most favorite people. One day, many years ago when all of my mother’s siblings seemed to be getting divorced, he told me in all seriousness, “divorce is absolutely, positively out of the question. Unless your significant other is beating you, cheating on you, living a double life, or damaging you in any other physical or emotional way, put on your adult pants and work it out. I know that he would never leave my mother. He’s even told me over the past few months, when times have been rough, that no other woman “could ever love an asshole like him.”

Divorce is such a complicated, messy thing. I don’t know what I would do if my parents split up. I know there are plenty of other individuals out there who have experienced divorce themselves, or have had parents or close friends go through it. So, what do you think? Are my parents headed for splitsville?

Granny Smith – over and out

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Autism Awareness

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If you don’t know already, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month here in the United States. And seeing how the month is almost over, I thought I’d dedicated this post to those individuals with Autism, my brother, specifically.

My brother was three years old when he was diagnosed, and my family’s life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t tell you how many countless hours my brother has spent with therapists working on his speech and cognitive ability and how many days he was in the Special Education room at our high school only for us to realize that he isn’t so different after all. He’s still a typical boy who has his own likes and dislikes, he just can’t express himself in the same way we can.

For years, my family has gotten stares and weird looks in public places when my brother has cried out, hummed, or even danced near complete strangers. Even tonight, we went to our local YMCA for a swim and a young boy (probably only about 10 or 12) told my brother to hand over the ball he was holding because he was supposed to use it to shoot hoops not hold it! Of course, I glared at the boy and flipped him the bird…in my mind. But, we carried on, business as usual.

When I was younger, I would get so embarrassed half the time because my brother would have to use the ladies room with my mom if my dad wasn’t around so that someone could help him in the bathroom. We even stopped going to church because my brother loves to laugh, hum, and cry out during inappropriate times. Whenever someone looks at him, all they can see is his age, so they’re completely confused as to why he’s behaving “in that way.” Nowadays, I don’t give as many shits. If he cries out, he cries out. If he decides to dance in the middle of the grocery isle, let him have at it (as long as he’s not in anyone’s way)!

I’m not saying that I’m completely fine with his outbursts and that they never embarrass me. Of course, I still get agitated with him every once in awhile. But he’s my brother, and that’s what siblings do. If anything, he’s made me more of a tolerant person. Yes, people mess up once, twice, three times even! But, because I live with a boy who constantly needs to be reminded to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, or to take his shoes off before climbing into bed, I’ve never gotten into a heated/screaming match with anyone. No one has ever pissed me off that much…because, it takes A LOT for me to REALLY show my frustration.

Like my dad says, “everyone should have at least one disabled child so that they know what it’s really like.” And, I completely agree. There’s too many government officials trying to cut funding for those with disabilities and it brings me to near tears when I think about how much those with disabilities have already been shafted in life, how many limitations they have when it comes to things to do, places to go, or people who will take care of them, and now this? My father actually has a friend who works for the government and has a disabled daughter, and because of that, he makes sure that he knows every law and is able to fight that much harder for her rights. He’s actually helped a lot of families (mine included) knowledgeably advocate for their disabled child. And, never would he have become so involved if he didn’t have a daughter with a disability.

My brother and other individuals with disabilities that I have spent time with over the course of my life thus far have helped me get a better perspective on what really matters in life. Not only that, but they’ve also taught me how it’s important to treat individuals with the utmost respect, say what you feel, and do what makes you happy.

If you’ve never had the chance to spend time with an individual or individuals with a disability, I encourage you to volunteer for the Special Olympics, or for a disabled group home. Even if it’s just for an hour and only one time! Make some sort of interaction with these uniquely talented and special individuals, and I guarantee your life will change for the better.

Granny Smith – over and out

There’s More to Life Than This

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Hold on, kids because we’re about to get spiritual! Now, if you’re like me, your parents or guardians told you growing up that you should NEVER talk about religion or politics with acquaintances!! It’s just out of the question. And for me, it still is…but not today!

I recently started reading “There’s More to Life Than This” by the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, and I’ve got to say, she’s completely pulled me in and I’m fascinated. First of all, I love her show and believe that the gift she has (talking to those that have ‘crossed over’) is real, so I don’t feel the need to question the stories or descriptions that she’s written in her book.

The truth is, I’ve never been a religious person. My mother grew up in a very Catholic home and my father’s mother and family had a high respect for God, but I’ve never read a single sentence in the Bible, and I can’t really tell you much beyond who God, Jesus, and Mary are, but I’ve been compelled recently to discover that “religious side” of me that I’ve never dived into.

Basically, there are a few things we need to understand regarding when we die and I’ve listed them below. According to Theresa:

  1. When we die, our soul leaves our body and is greeted by our loved ones that have crossed over. We are almost immediately at peace.
  2. When we get to Heaven, we meet with our spiritual “guide” that has been with us throughout our entire life. Everyone has one. Here, we’re basically given a performance review. We watch what we’ve done in the physical world, but most importantly, we see how it affected the lives of the individuals who were on the receiving end of our actions. With your guide you talk about the life lessons you learned while on Earth, how you did, and what your soul needs to do in order to grow and evolve.
  3. There are many different “levels” in Heaven and God is on the highest level. Your guides and God place you at a specific level based on how you acted in the physical world. You can either select to work on achieving higher levels and learning “life” lessons in Heaven, or, you can select to reincarnate and go back to Earth and continue to grow and learn those valuable life lessons. Sometimes, individuals even select to become guides or teachers on the other side once they have truly evolved and learned all of life’s lessons.
  4. If you select to go back to Earth, you more than likely won’t be reincarnated into the race, ethnicity, or even gender that you are now. Your body will be different. You may even have a physical disability. But, while you’re on the Other Side getting ready to start your new life, you can select (with the help of your spirit guide) who you become in order to help you learn those life lessons you missed in your previous life. For example, if in your previous life you made fun of individuals with disabilities, you may select to come back in your next life as someone in a wheel chair to help your soul grow and evolve.
  5. God and spirits don’t look a certain way. God is a massive white light with gold trim.

It all sounds completely ridiculous, but because I believe in Theresa, I almost feel that what she writes is very real. And if it’s false, I mean, she must have a lot of time on her hands to make up these elaborate stories! And, the book doesn’t stop there! She’s written so much about God and our loved one’s that I’m only half way done with the book and I’ve already learned this much.

However, one thing that I do want to address is in regards to my last post, soul mates. I originally didn’t believe in them, and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept. But, Theresa says that our loved ones continually live with us in our next lives. So, say you have a husband right now. Your husband will probably be your cousin in your next life. You might have such a deep connection with the cousin he’s become in your next life and not understand it, but that’s because your bond was so crazy great in this one! Theresa used an example that in her previous life, her now daughter was her brother that she saved from a burning building!

Now, you might be thinking, Granny Smith, you’re posts have been pretty great up until this point..why did you have to go and ruin the fun? I know, I know. This isn’t something that everyone likes to talk about and these ideas haven’t existed much before Theresa. But, I find it fascinating and I thought maybe you might too. After all, maybe her words give us something to believe in if we don’t believe already…

Granny Smith – over and out

Special Treatment for Those with Special Needs?

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Now, before you think this post is going to be some hateful rant, calm yourself and read on. My brother was diagnosed in 1995 at the age of 3 with Autism, and I’ve been an advocate for the rights of special needs children ever since. However, about a week ago I found myself re-evaluating how I react to those with special needs.

Long story short, my brother has been participating in the Special Olympics for the past couple of years, and every year I try to attend his regional competition, which is located at one of our local high schools. This year, as my family and I sat down in the school’s cafeteria to relax before heading to the gym, a young, special needs athlete named Cole from one of the other teams walked up to our table, introduced himself, and started carrying on a conversation with me and my parents. Cole was hilarious, but at the same time he was very nosy and kept apologizing for asking questions. After awhile, he began to solely ask me personal questions, and it seemed he wanted to be friends (or something more) and know every detail of my life. I can’t lie, even though I spend a lot of my time around individuals with special needs, I was uncomfortable around Cole. Hell, I’m uncomfortable around all strangers! Finally, Cole’s dad realized that his son was talking our ears off and came over to our table to introduce himself and redirected his son to the gym.

The weird and sad part of all this was I felt a sense of relief and a burden lifted off my shoulders when he walked away. Phew, don’t have to deal with him again, I thought. But, I was actually wrong…Turns out, as luck would have it, Cole’s group ended up sitting next to my brothers, so I had to pass him on my way into the gym. Once Cole saw me, he immediately stood up and rushed to my side.

“How are you doing, ma’am?” he said as wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
“Great!” I said, mustering up every ounce of pep I had.
“Would you mind if I sat with you for awhile?” he proceeded.
“Um, I think we’re supposed to sit with our teams,” I replied.
“Well, I don’t have to sit with mine, that’s the point I’m trying to make,” he shot back.

Thankfully, before the moment got any more awkward, one of Cole’s coaches called him over to sit with his team. And, of course, the fun didn’t stop there. After the opening ceremonies, I noticed Cole coming over to my brother’s team. To avoid another uncomfortable encounter, I used my brother’s larger build as a barricade and hid behind him until Cole was finished talking to my brother’s teammates. Seriously, this kid would not let up. He seemed to be doing everything to try and get my attention.

And, of course, once I thought I was free of him, it turned out he was competing against my brother under the same division…that meant I was going to have to run into him again at the awards ceremony after the competition.

Flash forward to the awards ceremony and my brother took first place (of course he did, we’re related). So, after all of the pictures are taken and everyone disappears, Cole came running up to my family, and that’s when I decided to make a break for it. I grabbed my things and briskly walked down the hall to hide in the women’s restroom. Cole saw that I was busting my ass to getaway and yelled after me, “DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME YOUNG LADY!” And then..he proceeded to ask my dad what my name was. Of course, my father thought this whole thing was hilarious and told Cole…who ended up screaming my name down the hallway until I disappeared.

Just at the point where I thought I had gotten rid of him, I realized that the exit door was at the other end of the building, which meant I would have to walk past the cafeteria where I last saw Cole. After a few minutes, I stuck my head out of the bathroom only to find him talking to someone right outside of the cafeteria. Well, eventually Cole’s new found friend decided to head back towards the gym and get some popcorn, which prompted Cole to follow him. I realized then and there that it was now or never. I swiped up my stuff and RAN towards the exit. FREEDOM! I thought as I reached the parking lot. And as my family and I drove away, all I could think was, I’m safe now

As I reflect back on the day that I had with Cole at regionals, of course I feel awful, but I’ve realized that even if he didn’t have special needs, I would have treated him the same way. With this situation, I’m reminded of the VERY FEW TIMES I’ve ever been “hit on” at bars while I was in college by guys that I had absolutely no interest in getting to know. And, what did I do in those situations? I politely blew them off, just like I did with Cole. I had no interest in hanging out with Cole that day. I was there to watch my brother kick ass and take names. And, I have a boyfriend. I’m not looking for any more male companions. And, did Cole suffer? Of course not! Being the friendly guy that he is, when I wasn’t around him he ended up talking to so many more people who were willing to engage in a bit of a conversation with him.

Personally, I think there’s this argument out there that we have to treat individuals with special needs as a “special case,” or be nicer to them than we would someone who doesn’t have special needs because they “unfortunately can’t be normal functioning adults in today’s society.” And most days, I think that’s a bunch of crap. With all of the special needs individuals that I’ve gotten to know through my years of volunteering and meeting my brother’s friends, people with special needs don’t want to be treated as “special cases,” they want to be seen and treated as though they don’t have a disability. They want to be treated how we want to be treated…like a human being. So, if you’re not interested in forming a connection with them, don’t! They rather have a genuine connection than put up with something that is forced….and wow, what does that sound like? Hmmmm, how about something that everyone wants, no matter age, race, gender, etc. So, at the end of the day I’m not advocating for everyone to go out there and treat individuals with special needs like shit. Of course not! Treat them as they are, human beings, and form a genuine connection that the both of you will benefit from.

Granny Smith – over and out

If You Were Going to Die at Midnight…

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In light of the last post I wrote, “Wanna Play 20 Questions?…Sort of…” I’ve decided that I’m going to pick a few of those questions and answer them in future blog posts..like this one!

Today’s question, “If you were going to die at midnight, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m.?”

When thinking about this question, a million other ones came to mind…such as, “how far in advance do I know that I’m going to die at midnight on such and such a day?..24 hours? A week?” Because, if I knew far enough in advance, I’d be able to call people up, tell them how much they meant to me, and then plan the sickest farewell party EVER!!..But, what if I found out at 11 p.m. day of? You can’t exactly rally the troops together, go through your bucket list, or make a lot of phone calls.

But, if I had to decide what I would be doing at 11:45 p.m., regardless of how far in advance I knew I was going to be gone at midnight, I’d have to say that I’d keep it simple. I would want to be in my bedroom in my parent’s house. And, I’d want to be lying on my bed, because I LOVE my bed! Seated around me would be my parents, brother, and dog. In bed with me, holding on to me, would be my boyfriend. We would all be talking, reminiscing, and they would hopefully reassure me that the life I lived was a good one, and that everything was going to be ok.

Now, to be honest, I had to debate about this a bit. On one hand, I would want them there with me. But, on the other, would I really want them to see me die? Would I really want my boyfriend to be holding on to me as I took my last breath? That kind of stuff changes your LIFE. I’ve known many individuals that have seen a loved one on their last leg, and it’s not pretty. But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be alone, and I wouldn’t want them to leave the room shortly beforehand knowing what I was going through on the other side of the door.

But, I guess what I’m really getting at is, there’s nothing sweeter in this world than family; and I have the absolute best. At the end of your life, it’s not going to be your possessions that you cling to, it’s going to be the people you love most. That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of work, life, balance. Yes, you have to fill your time here with something. But, if that something constantly causes you to miss out on time with the one’s you love most…is it really worth it? Because, at the end of your life, you’ll look back and think of everything you’ve ever wanted to do, and you’ll probably make a checklist, as in, “did I get to do this? Yes or No” and then move on. You’ll also probably wish that you were more vocal with your opinions, spent more time with family and friends, and that you didn’t work so hard.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve read different studies on what individuals greatest regrets were while they were on their deathbed. And the above are all of those are things the wished they could’ve clung on to while they were living. So, why wait? Apply what you want to do today, because as far as I’m concerned, there are no do-overs.

So, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m. if you knew you were going to die at midnight?

Granny Smith – over and out