Isn’t That Ironic?

Pansies are ironic. Their name is associated with weakness, but as I look out my window and see a pretty-little pansy being lashed about by fierce winds, I think it’s tough. We Americans have settled on the name “pansy” for the little flower, but it has had many names (viola tri-color, heartsease, Johnny-jump-up just to name a few), and it is rich in folklore (including stories of selfish step-mothers; the sorrow, remembrance and idleness of love lost; and prosperity brought to homes along with Spring bouquets). That sounds like a strong floral constitution to me. Retirement provides me with the time to consider the constitution of flowers. I never once contemplated flower constitutions while working. Contemplating flowers is another reason that I love retirement.

Brave Pansies In A Storm

Being alone is filled with irony. Sometimes it’s liberating and empowering. There is no one to complain when you sing loudly and off-key while you’re alone. You can watch whatever you want on the television. You can eat whatever you want whenever you want (except for the couple of weeks prior to scheduled lab work for upcoming medical appointments). When you’re alone and retired, you can go to bed when you want (here’s some irony though, that doesn’t mean you can go to sleep when you want, or stay asleep as long as you want – darned aging bladders), and get up when you want (unless your bladder determines otherwise). Here’s where it gets ironic: say you’re watching a hilarious television show that you alone chose to watch, but there’s no one there to laugh with you. That feeling of empowerment can quickly shift to a feeling of isolation. Isn’t that ironic?

I have mentioned before that I was an extremely awkward, self-conscious, odd child. I could not bring myself to say pansy when referring to the flower, because I knew that some people used that word to disparage others. I did not want to disparage a flower or a person. I liked both people and flowers and would not want to behave in a hurtful manner towards either. I also greeted bugs with a cheerful, “hello,” except bugs that could bite or looked really gross.  I was odd, but nice and cautious.

As an adult, I proudly identify with the pansy: I’ve withstood many an emotional and economic storm; I bloom in cooler weather, and wither in the heat. I still prefer to treat people nicely. It makes me feel good. There’s nothing ironic about that.

It’s time for me to go out to my backyard and restrain and secure the outdoor furniture that is dancing wildly in the wind. While I’m out there, I’m going to say “hello” and “thank you” to the tough pansies that inspire me and make me smile. I’m not alone. I have flowers, Cinnamon, and a telephone. Life is good.

Cinnamon, supervising my blog writing.

Things To Be Thankful For

There have been times that I have used this platform to complain. Bad Jennie! I have so much to be thankful for. I have a wonderful family, the most amazing friends on the planet and I’m retired. I also have great memories!

I am so blessed that my current employment situation consists exclusively of memories of being employed. As I’ve said before, I LOVE retirement. Being retired during a pandemic provides me with time to paint my sunroom and time to remember the good times I had while working. It’s a “time” triple-hitter!

My last position consisted of coordinating a patient portal for a large Federal Organization’s patients in my state. I met many wonderful patients, and worked with some amazing care providers. I also came away from that position with some funny stories. My favorite is the “genitalia” story. Sounds frightening, doesn’t it? When I first told the story to my children (no patient-specific information disclosed), they had the same looks on their faces as they had when I told them that we were going to have the “Facts-of-Life” discussion.

Back to my story. On a day, much like every other day, I was in my office, when one of the front desk clerks came in and shut the door behind her. She started with, “Jennie, this is probably going to make you angry.” She was wrong; it made me laugh. She went on to say that there was a patient in the lobby, who had approached her desk asking, “Is there a Geni Talia here?” She responded, “WHAT?” And the patient continued, “Don’t you know where I can find a Geni Talia?” To which the clerk responded, “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you’re asking for.” The patient, with mounting frustration and volume replied, “You know, Geni Talia, she runs that patient portal thing.” From that day forward, I, Jennie Taylor, was referred to by some as the Geni Talia of the program I coordinated.

These are the kinds of work experiences I remember while painting my sunroom. Yep, retirement, and a pandemic, provide me with opportunities to remember the good times and the laughs the working me, a.k.a. Geni Talia, had. Life and retirement are good!

Freshly-painted sunroom looks a lot like the non-freshly-painted sunroom, minus the dirt that had been behind that cabinet.

What Now?

December 1, 2020 will be the second anniversary of my retirement. Two years retired – that’s great! They’ve been busier than I expected, but not in the way I expected. Expectations are OVERRATED! Expectations tend to set you up for disappointment. Go with the flow is probably better, except when the flow is headed down the toilet (where we’re all ready to send 2020).

I can’t quote the Grateful Dead, because two years do not (in my mind) qualify as a long trip, but it has been a STRANGE trip. Take a little retirement, throw in illness, death and a pandemic (the pandemic seasoning has made this a recipe – literally – for disaster) and this situation is totally unpalatable. It still beats working. I feel for people who are working right now. A bad day retired during a pandemic is better than a good day working during a pandemic. I’m not sure about fishing because worms gross me out.

I have two tasks remaining on my list of things that I wanted to get done early in my retirement: paint the sunroom and clean the tile grout. I think the clock is running out for getting things done EARLY in retirement. This means that I need to get going on that painting and grout cleaning. That is not nice to me. It’s really not nice to me when the answer to my “What now?” question is paint and clean grout. So I better just smile and paint (I refuse to smile while I clean grout).

What’s next? I’m hoping for a COVID-19 vaccine. Bring on that shot (or two) in the arm. I’ve been spending too much time staring at my shower curtain, and every other inanimate object in my house. I’m ready to reconnect with friends that are not dependent upon an electrical outlet to function. Life is… I can barely wait for the what of tomorrow’s, next week’s and next year’s now. Life is ready to be good again!

Sunroom (with cat) awaiting paint (sunroom, not cat).
I covered these cushions myself and that task wasn’t even on my list.

A Year of Byes (Not All Good)

A year ago today, we had the memorial service to say good bye to Phil. It wasn’t the first time for good bye. We had said good bye over and over again in his hospice room. We had said good bye in the mortuary and we would continue to say good bye all year. Each good bye seemed to pull a thread from the fabric of my heart which has been left frayed around the edges. I dealt with this loss the way I deal with everything: get busy and get stuff done. I crocheted numerous afghans. I patched tile. I gardened. I cleaned and cleaned again.

Then the pandemic hit. I would get angry every time I would hear the pitiful slogan, “alone together.” I was alone alone. Poor Jennie. So, I made more afghans. I baked. I got a cat (I DO love my cat). I did what little I could to help my friend Mela within the COVID constraints, before a very sad and painful good bye. Sometimes a quiet voice would whisper in my ear, “Listen,” but the constant chattering in my mind and busy work muffled the message. Drat, I bet it was a good one. Sometimes the images in my mind of the present were sepia tinged, just like those accompanying my memories of the past.

My constant companion, GUILT, has hung with me. I feel guilty when I finish a task happily unencumbered by a, “Why did you do it that way?” comment from Phil, or when I start a project that Phil had previously vetoed. Where am I going? Sadly, Phil’s not here to ask or answer that question either. Sometimes when Phil was angry with me he would say, “Nothing makes you happy.” He’s probably still saying that. I’ve had a year to realize, no thing makes me happy. I have to make myself happy. I am truly blessed with family and friends who help me to do so. Memories can make me happy and sad. Life is good, but it is complicated. A year ago today, we were memorializing Phil. A year later, I’m STILL memorializing Phil. The following is from a year ago:


Phillip Wayne Taylor passed away November 2, 2019 at the age of 72. So began Phil’s obituary. On October 29th, Phil decided that he had had enough of potentially successful treatment at the expense of his life (you know the ol’ story – the doctor tells the patient’s family, “the treatment was a success, but I’m afraid the patient died”) and he chose to enter hospice. He had two days of comfort, and positive interaction with friends and family, before slipping into unconsciousness, and passing away on the morning of November 2nd. I, along with our children, and his best friend were with him.

He had been ill for more than half of our 42 years of marriage. Death had hunted him and he had eluded it, time and time again. He, and we, thought that he was invincible. Of course, he wasn’t, and neither are any of us.

Family and friends gathered to say goodbye. The love of my friends and family sustains me. The love we had for Phil (faults and all), sustains his memory. And so, life is good, but death isn’t all bad. When we’ve been suffering, it provides relief. When we’re tired, it provides rest. When we’re apart, it brings us together. It provides an opportunity to remember good times and the best of people who’ve passed. It casts a shadow that softens difficult memories, while encouraging forgiveness. It reminds us to tell the people we love, that we love them, while they can hear us. The gift of death, is the same as the gift of life: love.

“In my life, I’ve loved them all.”