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˜‰

My Guy

We had hired a classic car to take us to our wedding. The car was supposed to arrive at 3, it was almost half past the hour and it still wasn’t there yet. The photographer was snapping away, trying to improvise as I grew agitated, while still aware that the camera was following me around, clicking away, memorializing every frown I had on my professionally made-up face. I was trying to smile but I couldn’t. I was annoyed. The car was late.

He saw my annoyance and pulled me into him. “It’s alright, Babe, it’ll be fine.”

“Where is the damn car?” I hissed through clenched teeth, still aware of the camera. “What if it doesn’t come? What could have possibly gone wrong? What if we are late for our own damn wedding?”

“We won’t be late,” he said in the most consoling manner. “Even if it means that I’ll have to drive us there myself, we won’t be late. Everything will be fine….C’mon now, relax! Breathe! Smile for the camera…You won’t be happy if years from now you look at our wedding pictures and the look on your face reminds you that the car was late.”

That’s all it took. That’s all it ever takes. Reassurance from my guy that everything will be alright. Greg knows me. He knows what to say to make me feel comforted; and I trust him enough to know that when he says that it will be alright, that he will take care of the situation, any situation, that he will.

My favorite thing about my husband – he is reliable. A man of his word, who will move mountains to make me happy.

As we drank champagne and ate pizza in the back of the classic car, which, of course, eventually arrived, I marveled at how happy I was at that moment.

After all the dating dilemmas and the disappointments, I had found my guy, the one who loved me for me, with all my shortcomings and idiosyncrasies. The one who was now sitting next to me carefully feeding me pizza (because we were trying not to ruin my lipstick or my white dress), whispering in my ear that he was going to take care of me for the rest of my life, was finally here, and he was cute too.

I looked up at him, stared into his green eyes and told him that I felt like the luckiest girl in the World. “Are you crazy?” He said in disbelief, “I’m the lucky one. I can’t believe I found you.”

That was 3 years ago today, and even though our marriage has been far from perfect, it has been our ideal, the good times and the silly laughter outweighs the annoyances and the arguments. He still smiles when I enter the room, especially if he hasn’t seen me all day and I still send him sexy text messages while he’s at work.

He still admires me and I still respect him. We are still each other’s favorite person and one can only hope that it remains the same way for decades to come.

Happy Anniversary to us!

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The Horrors of Online Dating

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Any good attorney should be able to argue both sides of a case, right?! Undeniably, I’m an advocate of online dating; I even wrote a blog piece on the benefits that flow therefrom 5 Reasons Why Online Dating Works but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that there are some real challenges that come from trying to find love on the infamous internet.

I ran into all kinds while trying to find someone I’d be compatible with. Thankfully, my online dating horror stories are in my rearview and are now even considered laughable but there were several times I thought I would give up on my quest to find love. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find my life partner; but truth be told it wasn’t easy and it took a whole lot of patience, patience I didn’t even know I had.

Physical Disparity

Anyone who has ever attempted online dating will tell you that the physical disparity that exists between a lot of potential suitors profile pictures and the actual suitor himself/herself is so common that one must always have their guard up. This happened to me countless times.

Take, for example, the seemingly attractive English professor, who in his description of himself stated that he was a fitness buff, who ran 5 miles every day and was keen on kale and every other healthy food out there. We decided to meet for dinner one evening after work and I made sure to wear black since black is a slimming color and this guy was such a health nut I wanted to show off my healthiest, svelte physique.

When I entered the restaurant I searched the bar several times looking for the sexy, toned, lean professor. We had agreed to meet at the bar and he had texted me that he was already there. I stood there thinking for a quick second that I had been catfished when a guy, who easily weighed at least 400 pounds turned around, his eyes met mine, and he smiled at me with some recognition. Oh dear God!!! This couldn’t be English professor guy, who ran 5 miles every day. Half this guy’s backside was hanging off the bar stool. Nooooo!!!

English professor guy had grossly exaggerated his healthy habits. As I sat across from him, while he chowed down on his dinner of fatty pork chops soaked in gravy I realized that the profile picture he had up on the dating site was, in fact, really him; both the profile picture and the guy in front of me had the same eyes, nose, and mouth but the photo he used was obviously taken at least a decade ago.

Here’s the thing, if you’re going to venture into the world of online dating please use a recent picture, like maybe one only weeks old or even only a few months old. It makes no sense pretending to be the guy or gal you were 10 thousand years ago. People are attracted to what they’re attracted to. I strongly believe that there is someone out there for everyone, and online dating is supposed to help us initially weed out who or want we don’t want.

We Like What We Like

It is such a colossal waste of time to tell untruths and pretend to be someone you’re not or pretend to be interested in something you’re not in order to try to get someone to go out with you; and for the record, I’m not a health nut and I enjoy pork chops but I am attracted to a guy who takes care of himself, even in a minimalist manner.

So here is the reverse – At another time I started chatting with another guy during my life partner search and hit it off with a biker guy, who worked on Wall Street. He was intelligent and funny and for a few weeks, we talked until we decided on a time convenient to both of us for our first date. We had really good conversations.

I was looking forward to meeting Biker Wall Street guy and was painstakingly picking out my outfit for that evening’s date when he called. The conversation started off light and easy when he suddenly said, “I’m over here looking at your profile pictures and I can’t really tell.”

“Tell what?” I asked. I was a bit confused.

“Your bra size.” He said without hesitation.

“My what?” I knew I had heard correctly because he spoke clearly and concisely, but I was in disbelief.

“What’s your bra size?” He asked.

“Huh? Wait! What! What did you just ask me?”

“I only date double ds or girls with at least a D cup.” He said.

For a few seconds, I really didn’t know what to say. Whoa! I wasn’t prepared for this one. After the uncomfortable pause, he asked again my bra size and then explained what his preference was and that he “liked what he liked”. He didn’t want to waste “his time or mine”.

Well! Well! Well! What was I going to say to that? The truth is that based on the several meaningful conversations I had with Biker Wall Street guy, there was a point when he was calling daily, I felt a sort of connection. I liked his wit and intellect but the reality is that at that moment I was so turned off. I wasn’t about to reveal my bra size to this guy.

Biker Wall Street guy and I never made it to our first date and that was our very last conversation. Admittedly, I was initially peeved about the situation and went into the entire “how dare him” spiel with my girlfriends but the reality is that the guy liked what he liked.

Unsolicited Dick Pic

I have heard that these days the unsolicited dick pic has become somewhat of the norm, but back in my day, when I was first doing online dating, it really didn’t happen that much, or maybe it just didn’t happen to me; however, it was only a matter of time.

I hadn’t even had a real conversation with “Sweet Sal” (that was his profile name) when I got the unsolicited dick pic from him. Sweet Sal looked like a real gentleman in his profile picture, he was wearing a tuxedo and had the cutest little girl hugging him in that photo, who I later found out was his niece and that the picture was taken a couple of months earlier at his sister’s wedding. We exchanged a few emails followed by our phone numbers.

Sweet Sal didn’t call, he just text. At the time, that wasn’t my favorite mode of communication but I figured what the hell. I swear Sweet Sal and I may have exchanged only a dozen or so text messages when boom he sent me a picture of his penis. I was stunned! There was absolutely nothing in our very short text exchange that warranted an unsolicited picture of that nature. Unbelievable! I guess Sweet Sal wasn’t so sweet after all.

After several minutes when I didn’t respond to Sweet Sal picture he dared to text me asking; “So what do you think?”

“Is that all you’re working with?” Was the only insulting thing I could think of saying. I proceeded to block Sweet Sal from further contact with me and that was the end of that.

There was also the guy who showed up to meet me, who had a severe limp, one leg was literally shorter than the other. He spent the entire date sobbing and complaining about the freak accident that led to this limp, which happened when he was 12 years old, the guy was in his 40s and still detested his childhood friend that caused the accident.

I sympathized with the guy, believe me, I did; but he might have mentioned his “shortcomings”, no pun intended, during our telephone conversations. Plus, when was he going to stop being the victim? It had been 3 decades since the doctors saved his leg, you’d think he’d be thankful he still had the leg but instead, he wanted to spend an entire first date bemoaning an accident that happened 30 years ago.

There are so many stories I could share but I will save some for later. Who knows maybe one day I’ll write a part 2.πŸ˜ƒ Truth is online dating is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna to get. 😁

In the midst of it all, while you’re going through the miserable, unpleasant dates, out of the blue s/he will show up. The one who, in the beginning, you were sure you’d meet, but during the horrors, you forgot even existed. The one who will smile so gently and warmly at you you’d swear s/he is too good to be true. The one who will laugh at all your corny jokes, ask you how your day was and take a genuine interest in your reply and make you feel like the very special person your Mom always said you were. The one who will be worth your time and all your effort. All it takes is patience, lots and lots of patience!

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