When I was in first or second grade, I learned my times tables. Each week was dedicated to a number. Week One was 1 Xs, Week Two was 2 X.s, etc.
Side note: Actually, “learned” isn’t exactly right. I’m not sure I learned anything. I have this cool skill of memorization. I have always been great at memorizing stuff… doesn’t mean I actually grasp the knowledge behind it. This made me a stellar student in grade school. (It also makes me a bad person to fight with, but the best person to keep your stories) In grade school, no one ever asks you about the crap you learn. There aren’t any discussions. I loved to read, and I was outstanding when it came to tests. Outstanding enough to make it all the way to college. Turns out, you have to do more than memorize stuff in college, so that didn’t go as well. Another story for another time…
And then I caught The Pox (okay, it was Chicken Pox, but “The Pox” just sounds much more dramatic. Thanks Phoebe!). I managed to miss the weeks with 7 X’s and 8 X’s. Consequently, I have no idea what 7×8 is or what 8×7 is. Sure, I know it’s 52 or 54 or 56 (I really don’t know. It may be 57), and I know I can Google it, or use the cool calculator feature on my phone. But I’m lazy. And I know I will find it, and immediately forget it. My kids find this hysterical. They will tell me the answer (LOUDLY), and assume that, now that I know, I will not forget it. But I do. Every. Single. Time.
I am sure there is some science to this (yet another subject I suck at). I mean, why can’t I just MEMORIZE the answer? I am guessing it’s because I memorize in a linear fashion, and since that wasn’t part of it, it’s just lost forever?
So I bet that when you read the title to today’s blog “50-something”, you figured it had to do with my age. And maybe I was going to blog about (see? I am figuring out that “blog” is a noun AND a verb! Maybe I CAN learn!) something having to do with being 50.
Wow! I just looked out the window and saw an 80-something guy jogging, no RUNNING, down the sidewalk. He was like an old version of Forest Gump! Kind of made me feel bad about sitting cross-legged on my bed, no bra, and watching GMA (in my defense, there is a Bette Midler segment coming on in an hour. Thanks mom!) instead of working out. And now I’m questioning my breakfast of Rainbow Goldfish crackers, Cotton-Candy flavored yogurt in a tube (Ew!), and Lucky Charms cereal (yes, I picked out extra marshmallows from the box). My grandson was only here for the weekend, but I shopped like he was moving in.
Side note. Again: For those of you who have kept up so far… kudos to you! Yes, I realize I write in a very “SQUIRREL!” fashion. All I can say is, grab your coffee and hang on.
Hey! It’s raining. Hard! Now I’m concerned about the old Forest Gump dude. Oh well, it’s still hot as crap outside, so maybe he’s enjoying it.
Anyway… I’m going to tell you a quick (whatever) back story that may seem unrelated. But stick with me, it will make sense later.
I may have mentioned that I was a military brat. We moved a lot. So I was pretty great at keeping up with my friends as pen pals (life before cell phones involved a lot more work)… right up until I became a mom. Writing letters took a back seat. Phone calls were rare. And then (30 years ago), my address book (the one I had kept since I was a child) was thrown away during a particularly nasty divorce. My friends were all girls. They got married. Changed their names. And I lost track of most of them.
One by one, over the years, I was able to find almost all of them. Except one. One of my best friends from high school, who was always very sick. She had a sketchy home life as well, so finding her through her family was impossible. I remember thinking I wanted to contact the national news networks and ask them to broadcast a request to find her. I was desperate. When Facebook rolled around, I searched. Still no sign of her. Because of her illness, I had a sinking feeling she had passed away. I mourned the loss.
Then four years ago, on another friend’s Facebook post, I noticed a familiar name next to one of the comments. Could it be? I was shaking as I typed a comment and friend-requested her. I typed in my phone number and shortly after, my phone RANG! A voice I hadn’t heard since 1982 was on the other end, and I began to sob. My friend had literally come back from the dead! We talked and laughed as if no time had passed (as best friends always do), and made plans to get together. We have seen each other twice since then. But work and family commitments, along with her health issues, have kept us from making planned trips to California, Vegas and New York. I always assumed we would eventually get around to it.
Two days ago she called me. We would not eventually get around to it. Turns out her childhood illness isn’t what’s going to kill her. A rare cancer is. And soon. Very soon. She and her daughter are planning to attend death counseling. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Her daughter is the same age as Doofenshmirtz. I have a million different emotions right now that I can’t entertain, because I’M not dying. I want to be sad, but I need to be funny. I brush my teeth, and forget about her for the moment. Then I feel guilty. I feel guilty for going to work, feeding my dog, petting my cats, doing laundry… none of it matters. But then, that’s dumb.
When Rhonda died, “K” asked about stories with her mom. I have the old stories, and they are good ones. But she lived a whole life while we were too busy/too far away to get together. She got sick rapidly as well, and I never learned all her in-between stories.
I texted my friend this morning to ask how she was doing. She texted back, “Planning my funeral.” She has asked me to be there for her daughter. She wants the Ya-Ya Sisterhood to rally. I really wish I hadn’t missed out on the 7 X’s and 8 X’s of her life. 50-something isn’t an answer. 50-something is too young to die.
fine. I just looked it up. It’s 56. I may not remember it, but I’m writing it down and know where to find it. Now I think I need to make a road trip and learn the 56 of my friend’s life. And write it down.
Fuck you cancer.