A list

Nah, I don’t mean an “A-List,” although you’d all be on it. Rather, it’s just a small jumble that formulated in my rodentian brain as I ran across this mug while climbing into a rarely-opened cabinet for the huge stock pot I use for holiday mashed potatoes. (Tonight is Hamsgiving, huzzah!).

But first, a Thriller update:

Hospice has been wonderful to us. Gotta tell ya, I’m just not accustomed to hearing “Is there anything at all that you need?” so many times. Between them and our family and friends, it’s truly an embarrassment of riches, and I’ll never forget it or take it for granted.

M had a nasty case of cellulitis on his left calf and foot, and it was extremely painful. The doxycycline just wasn’t cutting it, so they brought in the heavy artillery and gave him a seven-day regimen of deep-muscle shots of rocephin (the stuff they use to treat meningitis, e.coli, staph and gonorrhea — the truly horrible infections). They arrived every day with a shot of Lidocaine first, which always means the son of a gun is going to hurt. But true to form, he never complained about it. Likely didn’t even wince. Go fig.

Next week, he leaves the house for the first time in over a month to go back to the Cleveland Clinic for another radiation treatment, designed to relieve some of the pressure in his chest, as well as zap the swollen lymph nodes around his collar bone. It should definitely make him feel better.

So, the list. As I mixed up some brownies at 6:30 a.m., I thought about stuff that I don’t want to allow to pass me by as I get older. Some of the items were silly, others more existential. Feel free to add to it; I’m always up for ideas!

  1. Buy it if you can. I’m not saying become a money wastrel, but afford yourself that scarf or tablet or book trilogy if it brings you joy. Saving funds for a rainy day is noble and advisable, sure, but don’t sit on every dime when letting go of a few will brighten the corner where you are. When I say life’s too short, I mean exactly that.
  2. Even when you’re thinking about someone you dislike, try to find something positive about him or her to add to the mix. Why? Because it exercises your empathy muscle: the one that atrophies the easiest. Since around, oh, 8 November 2016, I have been on a regular rage diet. First that, then the Thriller’s devastating diagnosis. What woke me up a bit was when, in a moment of anger, sadness, frustration, weakness and self-pity, I said something truly horrible about a person who had cruelly hurt a family member. It really shook me up, and I was privately ashamed. I needed to clear out those ugly cobwebs — to adopt a kinder, gentler perspective in the midst of these ongoing storms. This otherwise terrible person is someone’s child, and is loved and has love to give. That makes my criticism pretty weak tea.
  3. Defer. Do we always have to be #1? Many a relationship has soured on account of someone’s bedrock insistence on being right. I know you’ve seen it. I mean, fight for your passion, but practice deference when it’s not life or death. People aren’t lining up to hear my opinion; I will practice learning to be still. As fellow RtB citizen RD has said several times to me over our decades-long friendship: Sometimes you just lean and smile. :-)
  4. Pay the dang thing forward. If I’m writing this list in order of importance, this should be at the top. The Thriller and I have been the recipients of so much kindness, there is no way we could ever pay it back. Ever. So, forward we go. Twice I have donated to a worthy cause monetarily because I don’t yet have any spare time in my stupid schedule to do the real work. But it is definitely in the plans. People and causes need more than cash; they need hands and hearts, and when I’m through this insane school year (I love choir tour, but I confess I wish it wasn’t coming up at this particular time), it will be on my to-do list.  I’m good at cooking and baking and delivering things and writing copy and designing brochures and the like. I will use those talents, such as they are, to do good for others.
  5. Take care of your loved ones and yourself. I do know that I can’t “be there” for the Thriller if I’m a wreck myself. I’ve received this sage advice from many family and friends. No worries: I’m still taking time each night to read and monkey around a bit. I even went to the doctor for a checkup and to make appointments for the standard, old-lady tests that need to be done every so often. How about that, now?

You likely have many things you could add to this list. Please do! I will admit, however, I take particular exception to the silly, wrongheaded adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff.” Oh, I beg to differ, pal. Life isn’t so inconsequential and meaningless that everything that happens to you that isn’t awesome is “small stuff.” So don’t write that one in your comment, unless you want to make me practice deference towards you. ;-)

Have I told you lately that I heart you? Well, darlings, I’m telling you now.

Much love,


16 thoughts on “A list

  1. PKPudlin

    Girlie, you are *so* right on with this list. They should all be re-numbered to be number 1. The ‘Take care of the Care-Taker’ is especially dear to my heart because it is the easiest one for me to forget. If you’re so inclined, look up my coffee-pot story.

    On the medical side, ask about Emla cream for topical treatments that might hurt. It is a cream that is put on the area about an hour before the treatment (which is usually a needle of some sort) and has a numbing effect to decrease discomfort.

    My girls will be here for the 23rd – we’re having chili. We’re rebels like that.
    Have a great Hams-giving with your fam-bly. Much love to all of you!
    PK <3

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I know you have a chili tradition — I think it’s fantastic! Enjoy your girls; they adore you!

      He has something similar to what you’re describing. I’m just glad it’s all over with, at least for now.

      Happy Thanksgiving, doll!

  2. Darice

    Only thing I’d add is: hug. As often as possible. Touch heals and brings up back to center.

    Sending lots of love and big bear hugs to you all this Thanksgiving! oxo

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      So right, Darice! Hugging early and often — the perfect, no-cost addition to your day. Sending hugs back to you!

  3. David

    Perfectly formulated, perfectly said!

    I especially like your take on “the small stuff!”

    I have tried to live my life with gripping white knuckle to a healthy understanding of
    the word “perspective.” My perspective impacts every aspect of my life; it changes when appropriate and is often lost when I forget. If kept in balance my life is less stressful, even when it is something like the Big C. Cause life is simply not all small stuff!
    Your attention to number 4 and paying forward I believe is key to maintaining perspective. I have a particular fondness/weakness for the countless Vets with cardboard signs on the corners. I can never pass them! Sometimes emptying my wallet. I have way too many people remind me that those folks are scammers, crazy, addicts, drunks. My response is they are also human! I let God worry about who is what, my job is to worry about the state of my heart!

    I continue to pray without ceasing for my Brother Thriller and my Friend MsFinkster..


    1. Rat Fink Post author

      It definitely is a lot of BIG stuff! Totally agree. And your perspective on those homeless people is refreshing and inspiring. I will think twice before passing them by again. Thanks for the refocus. We love you!

  4. Debi

    xoxoxo well said Linda I so know how you feel with everything you have said.. We must stop and think and smell the roses ! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Micheal.

  5. RD

    Superb list creatively expressed. You are an exceptional writer! It’s an excellent list for me too. I can’t think of a single item to add. Have a wonderful Hamsgiving with your family! Lots of love to you and continued prayers for you and Thriller. I’m praying that the radiation treatment will give him relief from the pressure. #teamthriller.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Thanks luv — we’re praying the radiation gives some excellent relief. Hugs to you and happy Thanksgiving to you and Bonnie!

  6. Deb Clemons

    You truly are a wonder! Everything you wrote is spot on. Paying it forward has become my mission these last few months. My family and I can never repay all the love that has come our way since last October, but I plan on trying. As always, you and yours are in my prayers.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      And you are in ours, Deb — you know this road so well. I’m determined to help others as well; no way all this kindness can be repaid, and I know that those who showed the kindnesses to your family and mine would never want to be paid back. We give the joy to others, as you do to me with your encouragement!

  7. Suzanne

    OK so I am a week late responding. I was so shocked that you actually made a LIST that I forgot! haha

    Miz Linda you do pay it back as far as I am concerned. Maybe not (yet) personally to everyone who has shown you kindness in the past months but you definitely do return much love and kindness by just being you.

    I wish you and The Thriller luck this week in the latest treatments.

    Hugs and kisses :)


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