A 45 Year Marriage

Since it is Mother’s Day on my side of the World the plan was to blog about my mother and all the lessons she has taught me, but then something felt uneasy and weird about the day. My heart felt heavy and I attributed that to all the rain we are having today in New York City but then I went into my Google calendar to add an event and I realized that today is May 12th…May 12th!!!! My father died on May 12, 2015!

So that’s what it is! The heaviness in my heart was from that undeniable feeling of loss, I sometimes don’t even recognize. It’s weird, isn’t it? I know the anniversary of Daddy’s death was coming up and I had planned to honor him by writing about him in one of my blog posts on the actual anniversary of his death but I didn’t realize that this year the anniversary of his passing would coincide with Mother’s Day.

It doesn’t seem fair to write about my Mom on the anniversary of the day I lost the most formidable man I have ever known and it doesn’t seem fair to dedicate my blog post to my Dad on Mother’s Day. I could just cop out and not write at all since I am not feeling my best and let the sadness take over my day but I am way overdue a blog post so I have decided to write about them, both of them, and their marriage, instead.

I was one of the lucky ones, it wasn’t until I was in elementary school that I realized that not every household had a mother and a father. I had taken it for granted that all my peers were being raised by the people who made them but that wasn’t always the case. This fact made me appreciate my parents’ union more and more and when I became a full-blown adult going through my divorce I realized what it must have taken to stay married for the 45 years my parents were. They were lucky enough to be able to live their vows and did not part ways until the day my father transitioned into another World.

He had kissed her that morning, she said. He had kissed her on the morning of May 12, 2015, for the very last time. It was almost as if he knew he was leaving her forever on that day. My father had been really sick for the past few months and had become bed-ridden since February of that year when the Cancer had ravished his body so brutally his legs could no longer carry him and he was confined to a wheelchair.

My mother took care of my father like she always had during their 45-year union during those last few months of Daddy’s life, except, taking care of him in those last months was very different and more demanding than all the years put together because now she had to bathe him and sometimes even feed him and care for him in a way she had never done before. As she fed him breakfast that morning he motioned for her to come closer to him. When she did, he kissed her, he planted his lips squarely on hers, something he hadn’t done in weeks, maybe even months.

In retrospect, I am almost certain that that was his way of saying goodbye without alarming her. A way of saying good-bye, without letting her know that those were his final hours. My father was that kind of man. He was that old-fashioned kind of guy that would bear the brunt of pain, suffering, and difficulties by himself without unloading on anyone, especially his wife. In his eyes, his number one responsibility in life was to take care of his wife and his family despite whatever he was going through no matter how difficult the circumstances, without complaint; and take care of us, he did

Growing up we were never in want for anything, anything at all. My father was an excellent provider. The irony is that when they first got married my mother made more money than my father. She has often told me the story of how she had to apply for the loan on their first house because she had a nice, stable job as a civil servant with the Jamaican government and my father was merely a soldier in the Jamaican army. He was not making much money back then and would never be able to get a loan, but my Mom stepped up to the plate and did what she had to do to secure their mortgage.

That may have been the only time in their marriage that my mother had to step up financially because my father, who was a visionary, left the army a couple of years into their marriage, and with his keen sense of business and leadership qualities built a company from the ground up which had over a 100 employees on the day he died. He was a shrewd businessman, who knew how to take risks and turn over a dollar. He was driven, disciplined and determined and I admired that about him so much.

Isn’t that what marriage is about though? The willingness to step up and help your partner for the betterment of the union as a whole. My parents’ marriage wasn’t easy; I witnessed first hand a lot of compromises and sacrifices. It wasn’t easy but it worked and somewhere along the way they learned the art of compromise and didn’t view letting go and letting the other person “win” as one individual getting their way over the other.

One of the many things I admired about them was their ability to listen to each other – not just hear the other person but to listen. No doubt, my father was the head of the household but he listened to his wife. No important decision was made without her, even though he was the head. He was in charge but not above “taking counsel” from his wife. They complemented each other because they never competed with each other, they each had their individual role to play, which they did very well and happily too.

On May 12, 2015, a few hours after my father kissed my mother for the last time he took his last breath. It was his goodbye. He let himself go after she had left their bedroom. In those last days, she was with him all the time but not even an hour after she left the room at approximately 1:05 pm he let himself go. He took his last breath, knowing she wasn’t there, because in his own way he might have thought it best not to alarm her or not to let go in front of her and make an already sad situation even sadder.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there, but especially to my Mom, who gave so much to her children and her husband. And to Daddy, the reality of your death has a way of striking at the most inopportune times, I still think it’s crazy how your larger than life persona was reduced to just a shadow of who you really are in the end. I will always remember you though as the strong, fierce, force to be reckoned with that you actually were. A man who loved his family, his wife and his children, more than anything else. A pillar in his community, a tower of sheer strength and determination. A real family man.

Like what you’ve read? Please let me know by hitting the like button and leaving your thoughts in the comment section. Don’t forget to follow/subscribe if you enjoyed this piece. Thank you! πŸ’•

You’re Getting Fat!

“Babe, your thighs are looking a little chunky there in my boxers.”

I was startled out of my daydreaming. That was the sound of my husband’s voice but clearly, I wasn’t hearing the words spoken accurately. Did my husband just tell me I am getting fat?

I have a habit of wearing his boxers around the house and as I waddled up the stairs to our bedroom those were the words I heard coming out of his mouth. He was behind me.

“Did you just call me fat?” I said challengingly.

“Your thighs didn’t use to look like that in my boxers.”

“Like what?” I said threateningly, as I spun around to look directly at him.

“So big.” He said matter of factly. “Did you gain some weight?”

I was horrified! My husband did just call me fat.

I tried to answer but I stumbled over my words because this was a completely new one in our marriage. My sweet, dear husband, who, on my worst days always has something nice to say to me about my weight was now telling me I was fat. How many times have I squeezed into a dress that was obviously too tight and asked him if I looked fat and he always told me I looked “great”. I could feel and even look like a bloated pig and my darling husband always tells me I look great, he has always maintained that I am not fat yet here he was staring defiantly at my thunder thighs while asking if I had gained weight.

I was so hurt. I felt the tears forming in the corner of my eyes. Don’t blink, Racquel, don’t blink. I felt defeated. I was so hurt I couldn’t even get mad. Truth be told I had packed on the pounds, quite a bit of it too.
I sighed and tried hard not to let my husband see how much his innocent words had affected me, “Yeah, I think I gained a little.”
“How much?” He asked. Oh my Gawd, why won’t he stop talking???!!!
“I’m not sure.” I lied.
Of course, I knew how much weight I had gained. I weigh myself at least twice a week. I have been doing so for years. I had noticed the numbers steadily climbing for quite some time now but I was in denial. At first, I fooled myself into thinking it was muscle gain, after all, I lifted weights regularly in the gym; then my clothes started getting super snug and I explained that away since clothes generally shrink after a while when you wash and or dry clean them so, of course, that’s the reason my clothes were now tight. I was in major denial.😟
A few days later, hubby and I were getting dressed to attend our annual Christmas Ball and the zipper on my gown would not go all the way up.
WTF??!!!
Luckily, my Mom was visiting for the Holidays and was able to do some kind of trick with the zipper allowing me to still wear the gown but boy was I uncomfortable all night. I looked gorgeous in the dress, take a look at The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly but I didn’t feel gorgeous at all. When you stop feeling gorgeous that’s when you know it’s time for a change.

Weight Watchers

As clichΓ© as it sounds, I decided that I would embark on a new, healthier me for the New Year. I had some success on Weight Watchers back in 2010 so a few days after the Christmas Ball, while examing the increase in cellulite on my thighs, as my husband’s words replayed on repeat in my head, I joined WW again.

I had heard about the Keto diet, which seems to be all the rage these days so I did some research on it but I wasn’t interested in trying anything which forced me to eliminate entire food groups. I needed something sustainable, a program that I could possibly keep doing for the rest of my life, as such I joined WW on December 31, 2018, and I am happy to report that it’s been 3.5 months and I am still sticking to the program.

My favorite thing about WW is that you can eat pretty much anything, no foods are forbidden, as long as you don’t go over your allotted caloric intake, or as Weight Watchers calls it your “points”. Mind you, those points go extremely fast.

When I first joined WW my daily allotted points would be all gone by lunchtime. I would freak out because it would literally be midday and I would have consumed all my daily calories. This frequent occurrence forced me to turn to the zero points food in order to sustain me throughout the rest of the day.

WW has named quite a number of foods such as grilled chicken breast, vegetables, and fruits zero points food. You’re permitted to eat as much of these foods as you want and not use any of your daily points. These zero points foods have saved me many times but it had gotten to the point where if I ate one more grilled chicken salad (without dressing) for dinner I was going to keel over and die. 😁

I hate boring food, and I especially detest vegetables. I am not much of a broccoli, eggplant, kale kind of person. I am a carnivore – a kind of meat and potatoes kind of gal so this is where I had to learn portion control. I had to exercise discipline and cut my eyes past that 10-ounce ribeye and instead whet my appetite with a more reasonable portion. Man, that was/is hard.

Portion control is the most difficult part of the program for me. I still struggle with eating just a cup of chips instead of ripping open a bag of Lays Wavy while reading and just popping a few pieces in my mouth every few minutes until the entire bag is gone.

I have developed some healthy habits on the program though, like juicing. Since I don’t like eating my vegetables (I swear I sound like a 4-year-old πŸ˜ƒ) I had to learn to juice them and mix them with fruits in order to make it more palatable. The Nutri Bullet which I have had sitting in my kitchen cabinet for years has proven to be a godsend.

Exercise

Another great thing about Weight Watchers is that you get to eat your activity points. The more you exercise the more you get to eat. Each and every activity you can think of, even something as simple as walking the dog, is outlined in the WW app and has points value attached to it. Therefore, the longer I stay on the elliptical, the more points I get back so that I can devour that 10-ounce ribeye. πŸ˜‰

I challenge myself daily to see how much activity points I can attain just so I can eat them later that day. If I want to have that martini or glass of wine then I have to stay on that treadmill or in the weight room or do an extra challenging class so I can earn that reward, this forces me to workout at least 5 days a week. Thankfully, I actually like working out and enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) going to the gym.

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It’s been 3.5 months and as of this morning, I’m officially down 21.2 pounds. The first 10 pounds seem to come off steadily, then I struggled to get down to a 15-pound loss, and I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was to reach 20. It seemed as if each and every time I got down to a 20 lb loss, that I’d wake up the next morning and gain back a pound or two sometimes even three. It’s a nightmare! I’m still not even comfortable announcing the 20+ lbs weight loss because it has been a struggle to maintain and sometimes it feels as if I have plateaued.

Plateaued or not, I am not about to give up because the non-scale victories blow my mind, like the fact that I can now fit in clothes I haven’t worn in years, that my jeans no longer pinch my inner thighs, that I can actually see a reduction in my cellulite (even though they aren’t all gone), that I have lost inches off of my waist (my girlfriend told me recently that my waist looked “snatched”), that I feel stronger, that my skin is glowing, that I can now see my collar-bone and my husband, the one who started all of this, has remarked that I shouldn’t “lose too much weight” because he doesn’t “like skinny girls”. πŸ˜‰

5 Reasons Why I Love My Husband

Marriage is one hell of a compromise, sometimes we have to give a little to get a little in order to get through certain disagreements that being in a relationship inevitably brings. I sometimes forget that I have a good man, a great man even; and admittedly I sometimes tend to take him for granted, but in the spirit of Valentine’s Day I cannot think of a better time to let both him and the World know how much I love, respect, adore and appreciate him.

1. He is Reliable

He is not the take out the garbage kind of reliable. Lord knows that there are too many times that I have to drag the garbage out myself on the night before Sanitation comes since my husband always forgets garbage day but he’s the kind of the mortgage is due on the 5th and it will get paid reliable. I can count on him for the big things, the important things.

Greg has a saying, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll wrap my arms around the situation and take care of it.”

The first time I heard those words from him was 3 months into our dating. I was faced with a seemingly daunting situation. Said situation had nothing to do with Greg. I was just sharing my plight with him since he was my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t expect him to fix it. I didn’t expect him to even assist me in any way. Greg saw it differently though. He didn’t like to see me sad or worried and he said as much. He told me he “would wrap his arms around the situation and take care of it” and he certainly did, much to my surprise and pleasure.

To this day, 6 years later, he still says those words to me, big problem – leaky roof; or minor problem – slow leak in my tire. Greg is always willing and ready to wrap his arms around any and all problems and fix it.

2. He Loves My Son

When I met Greg I had been divorced from my first husband for 9 years and was raising my son alone. Don’t get me wrong, my Ex was/is still very much a part of my son’s life but the reality is that he is a weekend Dad, more like an every other weekend Dad, so the bulk of the responsibility of rearing Blake, my son, fell solely on me.

The middle of the night fevers was all me. Teaching my son how to read and doing school projects with him was all me. Schlepping him back and forth to all his activities, which over the years included soccer, baseball, piano, Tae Kwon Do, the flute, football and swimming lessons all me. So Blake and I became a little team since it was just me and him for as long as I can remember. Like every parent, I love my child, therefore, my main concern with dating as a single parent was if you can’t love my child then we can’t date. We, Blake and I, came as a package deal, there is no having me if you can’t accept him.

When I split from Blake’s dad, you can read all about it here 5 Lessons I Learned from my Divorce, Blake was only a year old. I started dating again when Blake was barely 2 and I had the unfortunate experience of coming across men who didn’t care to hear me talk about my son, much less want to meet him, or didn’t understand when I had to cancel a date because I couldn’t find a babysitter.

I had a policy that I never wanted to date men who didn’t have any children of their own because they wouldn’t understand my obligation to my child so I was hesitant when I met childless Greg. Surely, he wouldn’t get it either; but what a pleasant surprise Greg proved to be when just a month into dating he suggested that the 3 of us hang out on a Saturday afternoon because he wanted to meet this Blake that I talked incessantly about.

Well, the rest they say is History, they bonded over skateboarding and watching WWE wrestling, and when Greg suggested that I allow Blake to stay up past his bedtime on weekends and I actually complied that was when Greg became almost God-like in Blake’s eyes. It didn’t take Blake very long to figure out that if he needed something from me it might be best to go through Greg first since it might increase his chances of getting what he wants.

The first time I heard Greg refer to Blake as “our son” I melted. I knew right then and there that he was a keeper.

3. He’s My Biggest Fan

Greg believes that I am “all that and a bag of chips”. Like seriously, this guy thinks that not only am I great but that I can do anything. He never ever doubts me, even when I doubt myself. I once read somewhere that if one person sees you as succeeding then you will succeed. Well, Greg is my one person.

During my seemingly endless dating years, I remember wishing for that one guy that would love me for me, with all my imperfections and idiosyncrasies. Someone who, no matter my shortcomings, would be able to accept me. Everyone seemed so judgmental and was looking for perfection, despite not being perfect themselves. I am oh so thankful that my husband doesn’t judge me and accepts our differences.

Greg doesn’t dim my light, he supports and encourages me. I remember waking up last year and out of nowhere told him I wanted to write a book but I needed to start writing a Blog first in order to hone my writing skills and build my voice. Despite having zero writing experience and publications Greg was excited for me and truly believes that I possess the talent to one day write a New York Times Bestseller. As I procrastinated, Greg would ask me every day had I started writing my Blog yet.

I have never had a partner that wanted me to shine as much as Greg. He sees my talents as limitless and that makes me believe in myself.

4. I Like How He Treats Others

Greg is so nice. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have wonderful things to say about him. When you first meet a man or a woman, listen to the way their own people talk about them. Greg is loved and I saw that quickly when he was among his co-workers and his friends. People like him and respect him.

A few months into dating, Greg and I were in a building looking for a specific office, we came across the Janitor and I will never forget the manner in which Greg spoke to him. He addressed the Janitor as “Sir” and was so respectful in his ensuing conversation with him. I think that was when I started falling for him.

I once went on a date with a guy who yelled at our waiter. The waiter had made an obvious mistake but being talked down to by my date was uncalled for. On the way home, we argued about the way in which he spoke to the waiter, that was the decline of “our getting to know each other” phase. How you treat others, especially those who might be lesser off than you, speak volumes about who you are.

I have always been delighted with the manner in which Greg talks to and interacts with everyone, be it the janitor, or the crossing guard, or the housekeeper; Greg is always kind and respectful.

5. He is Eye Candy

You know how sometimes you meet a guy or gal and they have such amazing personalities but they might not be physically your ideal but you’ll date them anyway because they are so sweet. Thankfully, I didn’t need to settle on physicality with Greg. I am very attracted to my husband.

At our wedding, we wrote and spoke our own vows to each other, I remember saying how very attractive I am to Greg and then mentioning that I never get tired of seeing him naked – I had all our guests in stitches – Poor Greg blushed so hard he turned visibly red…Well, I can safely say 6 years later I still like to see him naked. πŸ˜‰

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Greg! I know this blog post will surprise you.