Monthly Archives: December 2009

On friendship, and support from unexpected places

If you ever read the comments to my posts (and it’s not like that should be overwhelming…), you’ve probably seen some from “Montreal Babe.” MB is someone with whom I’m ‘real’ friends – somebody I actually know in real life. She’s in hospice at the moment; the result of a combination of a terrible car accident and the lack of a seat belt. MB was not a healthy woman to start with, and now she’s in hospice.

As I wrote in her CaringBridge guestbook this morning I spent a little time reflecting on our relationship, and how it evolved over time and as a result of my divorce.

Although I didn’t count her among my closest friends, MB and I were colleagues for a number of years. Several years ago she became a widow. Mr. MB died suddenly, and it was a horrible shock to our entire faculty. MB had many health issues, including diabetes, and she needed and received a great deal of support from her husband. Mr. MB was pretty much an institution at our school – dropping MB off in the morning, helping get her scooter into the building (due to her many surgeries as a result of the diabetes, she quite often couldn’t walk), and picking her up at the end of the day. Not only did we know him, but many of our students did as well. When he died, it was a loss that was mourned by our entire community. Within a year MB had to have another operation, and ended up in a nursing home for a number of months. MB – childless, now a widow, with all her family living out of the country – needed people to take care of her.

The faculty stepped up to the plate. People visited her, covered her classes, made sure her bills got paid. She got phone calls and emotional support. When she came out of the nursing home she knew that she had friends to take care of her – physically and emotionally.

But, in the end, you’re still alone. After some time you still have to get used to the empty house, the Sundays alone and the quiet. There are times you love it and times you can’t stand to hear the nothingness. MB understood that.

When Mr. Ex moved out, I found a somewhat surprising ally in MB. Many, many of my friends came to my support, but, frankly, I didn’t find that surprising. These were people with whom I had been close for many years – friends who had been at my wedding, college friends, junior high friends, for heaven’s sake. Many were friends who had known about the ups and downs of our marriage for years and had been there for me in the past. They certainly came to my aid – I expected them to, and I was not disappointed.

But Montreal Babe was the one who really stunned me. She, above anyone else, understood the loneliness and the sudden disorientation of losing one’s partner. She knew how hard it was to navigate single life after a long-time marriage. While our circumstances were different in that her partner didn’t choose to leave, and I got dumped, she understood that I was going through a difficult time and needed some encouragement to get through it all.

And she was happy to provide it.

She emailed me; she called me. She arranged movie dates and offered theatre tickets. She religiously read this blog – and, even more religiously – pestered me to keep writing when there was too much time in between blog posts. She encouraged me to write, and the positive feedback from her meant even more because she was an English teacher. She commented here and she Facebooked me.

In short, she made sure that I knew that I wasn’t alone, that I would get through this, and that I have a lot to look forward to.

I am grateful and I will miss her.

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Reflections

As we enter into the last week of the year (and, incidentally, decade), some reflections…

Celebrity marital discord:

NEW YORK - APRIL 15:  (L-R) Tim Robbins, Susan...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

1. Jon and Kate. who cares?

2. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. I was saddened to hear this one. I always thought they were a classy couple who kept their private life private, and they seem to be doing the same with this. I just saw her yesterday touting her new movie on some show (thank goodness for winter break – how would I keep up with these things?) and I thought how wonderful she looks.

3. Tiger Woods. Elin says she’s done. I say good for her. What a disappointment – I think of all those kids who looked up to him as a determined athlete.

4. Governor Mark Sanford and his wife Jenny. She stood by him at the outset, but she, too, is now outa there. Why did she stick around at the beginning? Perhaps it was a desire to help him avoid impeachment; maybe that desire to just keep her life the way it was.

And, interestingly, what looks like a great movie is opening tomorrow – It’s Complicated. I’m planning to see it with my divorce support group – who better?

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Custody issues

Getting divorced late in life generally means that custody isn’t a problem. The kids are grown. And I ‘got’ the dogs and the house (questionable at times about whether that was good or not).

But who gets custody of the age-old recipes?

Last night we went to my older daughter’s for Hanukkah. Mr. Ex brought spinach cheese pie.

This would not seem to be a crisis, or even fodder for a blog post.

But this spinach cheese pie is THE spinach cheese pie that I found some 30 years ago, when I needed to find a dish to bring to potlucks to guarantee that Mr. Ex, a vegetarian, would have something to eat. I’ve been making it so long that I don’t even need to refer to a recipe; so long that I know what ingredients I can play with and what ingredients are sacrosanct. So long that, when Mr. Ex asked me for the recipe before Thanksgiving, I was able to type it into an email and send it to him without even looking for it.

Normally I would have been bringing it, but I decided to make bourbon hot dogs instead. I no longer feel an obligation to make sure that Mr. Ex has something to eat. And since latkes (potato pancakes) were being served, he would have those to eat as well, if I was worrying about whether or not he would go hungry.

Later on, though, at the house, one of my son-in-law’s cousins complimented me on the dish, thinking that I had made it. Of course he would think I had made it – I make it all the time.

I started thinking about this recipe.

It’s mine.

I’m famous for it.

It’s my signature dish, in fact.

And now I can’t assume that I can bring it – maybe Mr. Ex will. We certainly wouldn’t want a spinach cheese pie throwdown.

Harumph.

Of course, in the great scheme of things, losing one’s spinach cheese pie rights is not worth a second thought. I read about 10 food magazines a month, not to mention countless food blogs and I probably watch at least 10 hours a month of the Food channel (oy). I can find another dish to bring.

Not a big deal, I guess.

It’s kind of the thought, though. And it’s the complication now that, if I know Mr. Ex is attending an event, I need to check to make sure that he’s not bringing MY dish.

And maybe it’s good – like everything else this year – I’ll tuck the spinach cheese pie away, along with the photos, the notes, the wedding rings – and move on.

To asparagus, perhaps.

Yes, your honor. It’s fine if she gets the house, the Rolls, and the condo in Aspen. I just want the family recipes cookbook…

And, if you’re wondering – the famous spinach cheese pie recipe:

2 packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and with as much liquid squeezed out as possible
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup cottage cheese (I usually go with a small curd 2%)
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (seriously – I’ve used, chedder, swiss, mixed, whatever’s-in-the-fridge)
1/4 cup flour or matzah meal (thus making this kosher for Passover, if you so desire)
1 stick margarine or butter, melted or 1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon seasoning. I like Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salute, but I’ve also used garlic powder, Season-All, whatever. Or nothing if you don’t want to use anything

Grease a casserole dish. Mix everything up and bake it at 350 for an hour. Or hotter for less. This is a very forgiving and flexible recipe.

Enjoy.

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