She Used To Be Rich

Yesterday I was standing in line at my favourite thrift shop, waiting for it to open. Yes, this shop is so popular and the prices are so good that people line up to get in. See, the building can only hold 100 people at a time. It’s worth the wait because the merchandise has been hand picked for cleanliness and quality. It’s in a wealthy area so the donations are in great condition, brand names, and nothing short of spectacular.

Actually, standing in line is a social culture of sorts. There is an air of excitement of what treasures will be found when the doors open, and everyone chats about where they’re from, what they have found in the past and what they hope to find this time.

IMG_1435

Can you see Dave standing in line? Black circle!

Dave and I were about 40th in line when a stylish, black, older woman cut the line a few people ahead of us. She was beautiful, greying hair smoothly styled to her shoulders, with a complimentary grey shawl draped over her red jacket, and the biggest smile imaginable. You couldn’t imagine why she would be standing in line at a thrift shop. She was just joining her friends who had held her place while she parked the car. But then one of them said to no one in particular, “We don’t know her.” And we all started laughing.

As the woman took her place, with a gracious smile she said, “I used to be rich.”

Looking at her with a different eye, the shoes, the clothes, the gracious air, made me think that yes, she probably was rich, once.

As I often do, I started to imagine what her story might have been. Divorce? Death of a spouse? Job loss? No one says, “I was rich once” unless there’s a whole story behind those words.

I wonder…

The Deadly Stress

stress2

 

There’s never a dull moment, never a down time in my life, it seems. We have been in Hilton Head, SC for about five weeks now, and as it often happens, my health takes a nosedive as soon as I stop to rest.

After a month of December with stressful events at my church I was left quite drained and unmotivated, depressed actually. I did manage to get my mojo going again a couple of days before all the family arrived for Christmas celebrations, and then I sped into high gear.

I don’t know why I still think I have to be supermom, the Christmas fairy and Martha Stewart all rolled into one, but that’s what I attempt when my grown children come home for Christmas. The food traditions, the stocking traditions, the drawing on the revered tablecloth, I did it all and barely lived to tell the tale. This, coupled with four 2 ½ hour round  trips back and forth from the airport in some intense weather, all on the heels of December’s earlier events became more than I could handle. I mean, I handled it on the outside and thought I was doing pretty well. But inside I was not handling it. Don’t get me wrong- I loved every moment with my family. I think I just need to tone things down a bit and be easier on myself.

I am 64, not 44 or 34, but I keep thinking I can do everything I always did. Was I in for a rude awakening!

We took the last bunch to the airport on December 29th and then rushed home to shut down the house, pack the suitcases and car, clean out the fridge, clean the bathrooms, change beds and in general, get ready to drive three days to Hilton Head Island for three months. At 5AM on December 30 we left, in sub zero temperatures.

Once we arrived and settled in to the condo that has become our second home, bought the first grocery order and let everyone know we had arrived safely, the two of us collapsed. And about a week later I got sick.

What do you know; I had these suspiciously familiar symptoms with accompanying rash that a trip to the doctor confirmed as shingles…again. I had shingles three years ago as a result of intense stress in my life, and I swore that it would never happen again.

Well it did.

Compounding the distress was another rash all over my body that was not shingles. Two trips to the doctor never did give me an explanation of what it was. Probably more evidence of my body just telling me to rest and stop taking on things that I’m not able to handle any more, and to stop taking myself so seriously. A series of Prednisone and cortisone cream helped to finally get things under control after several days.

This latest illness is a warning but also a signpost for me to take stock of my life and what’s left of it.

So when people ask me if Dave and I are enjoying our ‘vacation’ in South Carolina, I have to qualify that it is not a ‘vacation’. We are living in SC for three months. And then I have to say that I have been sick once again, kicking myself in the a$$ once again for letting it happen. I am finally learning that I have to pull back and say ‘no’ to things that drag me down, stress me and make me sick.

Stress-Quotes-5-min