where were you…

…when Diana, the Princess of Wales died? I can only think of one other person for whom that question has been asked…John F. Kennedy, our President. I know I was in school when he died, because classes were suspended. Instead we all walked to church to pray for him. In Diana’s case I think I was asleep, and learned with disbelief, about her death early the next morning.

Unlike President Kennedy‘s death of which so much has been written, documented, and analyzed in books and on TV shows, Diana’s death has been treated more gingerly it seems, at least here in the U.S. Either that, or I didn’t bother to read about it in the tabloid magazines because of their tendency to sensationalize the facts to make a profit. I didn’t set out to learn about them even now, they just fell into my lap, by way of Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story

I chose to share this with you because as in life, in death Diana’s beauty remained intact. Her serene appearance belied the inner damage that resulted from the horrific car accident.

It took almost an hour to free Diana from the wrecked car. She appeared to her rescuers to be the least injured of the four: only a slight trickle of blood from mouth and nose indicated that anything was wrong. Yet her internal injuries were life- threatening. After the initial impact the Mercedes had spun away, rotating at high speed before crashing into the tunnel wall on the right. At the first impact Dodi and Diana had been thrown violently forward against the backs of the front seats (not having worn their seat belts), then the rotation of the car had flung them around against the interior. When the Mercedes finally stopped, pointing back towards the mouth of the tunnel, Diana was slumped on the floor, against the back of Rees-Jones‘s seat, facing down the tunnel. Her legs were twisted, one under her, the other on the seat. With her eyes closed and her face undamaged apart from a cut on her forehead, she looked beautiful and as if she were asleep. But the shock of the impact and deceleration on her body had displaced her heart from the left to the right side, severing the pulmonary vein and rupturing the pericardium (the protective sac round the heart), flooding her chest cavity with blood. …

Photo of the Chapel at the Pitié-Salpêtrière H...

Image via Wikipedia

Yet to the first doctor on the scene, Frederic Mailliez, who had been driving through the tunnel in the opposite direction, she ‘looked pretty fine…I thought this woman had a chance.’ He put an oxygen mask over her face while attempting to clear her air passages. When the ambulance arrived, Dr. Jan-Marc Martino, a surgical anesthetist and resuscitation specialist, worked on Diana. Before they could transfer her to the ambulance, she suffered a heart attack. She was given cardiac massage and a respiratory tube was inserted into her mouth. Then she was lifted on to a stretcher and placed in the ambulance which crawled its way with a police escort to La Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, stopping once on the way as Diana’s blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level. She was put on a ventilator. ‘She was unconscious and under artificial respiration. Her arterial blood pressure was very low but her heart was still beating. X-rays revealed the horrific state of her internal injuries and afterwards she suffered a second heart attack. An incision in her chest revealed that bleeding was coming through a hole in the membrane round her heart and later that her superior left pulmonary vein was torn. Adrenalin was administered and cardiac massage kept her heart going but only just; there was no independent rhythm. Diana was to all intents and purposes already beyond help. Electric-shock therapy was administered, to no effect. At 4 a.m. (3 a.m. British time) on the morning of 31 August, she was pronounced dead.

Charles, Prince of Wales outside the White Hou...

Image via Wikipedia

And while it was rumored at the time that Diana allegedly spoke a few words to Prince Charles, that was obviously not the case. “When Prince Charles and Diana’s sisters arrived in Paris, they found Diana looking serene and composed in death, wearing Lady Jay’s black cocktail dress and shoes, her hair freshly blow-dried, the rosary which Mother Teresa had given her in her hand. After Charles and her sisters had spent time alone with her, she was placed in a coffin for the return journey.” 

According to those who accompanied the hearse through the streets of Paris, there was an outpouring of support for the People’s Princess.

‘They do it differently in Paris–they applaud. With the coffin, Prince Charles, the President, millions of police by now,…and the vicar (the Rev. Martin Draper), the whole of Paris was applauding…

Sadly Diana’s body was not received with the same honor bestowed upon it by the Parisians and the British masses, when it came to rest in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Good friend, and the woman thought to have been most like a mother to the princess, Lucia Flecha de Lima flew from the U.S., where she lived, to London, upon learning of Diana’s death. To her amazement the coffin lay “…in lonely state, without flowers.”

Flowers for Princess Diana's Funeral

Image by Maxwell Hamilton via Flickr

‘The first day when I arrived at the chapel there was not one single flower on her coffin. Then I said to the chaplain that if he didn’t allow flowers in, I would throw open the doors of the chapel so everyone could see her there without a single flower and all the flowers outside that people had brought. I said, “Tomorrow I’ll come back with my flowers for her.” And I came every day. And from then on I brought flowers, not only mine but from friends and people who knew her. And I went to a flower van outside the Michelin restaurant (Bibendum in the Fulham Road) and he said: “What are they for?” And I told him, and every day after that he insisted I take flowers to her for nothing…’ ‘And they (the flowers) were around her, over her coffin representing the flowers of the world, and I said to Prince Charles, “These flowers represent the people, thousands and millions of flowers all around the world that people want to give to Princess Diana.” I’ve never felt like that in my life. I have experienced personal loss…but the public’s reaction was extraordinary…’

 One other item mentioned in Bradford’s book caught my attention. While Queen Elizabeth seemingly struggled with her decision to recognize Diana’s death with the pomp and circumstance demanded by the people, personally she too had to deal with the passing of her former daughter-in-law, the mother of the queen’s beloved grand-children. Bradford wrote of Dickie Arbiter, the most experienced of royal officers who had worked for the Waleses before their divorce,

The coffin passing through one of the streets.

Image via Wikipedia

Contrary to public perception, the Queen was, Arbiter said, ‘very grief-stricken’ by Diana’s death. ‘On the day of the funeral when the Royal Family came out of Buckingham Palace as the gun carriage carrying Diana’s coffin passed, the Queen bowed. And the only other time that the Queen bows is at the Cenotaph.’

…there are the rumors…there are the myths…and then there’s…the truth…hugmamma.

Rose, Diana Princess of Wales

Image by nekonomania via Flickr

…princess diana…england’s rose…

 

Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Cannes film f...

Image via Wikipedia

 

staying power…us vs. them

Despite the turmoil bedbugs have caused in my family’s life recently, I’ve an underlying admiration for their “sticktoittiveness.” I’m certain you’ve heard the word before, although it’s probably not in Webster’s Dictionary. After all, bedbugs are just trying to coexist, especially since they need our blood to survive. Don’t you think we can spare a little, now and then. If it weren’t for the itchiness and accompanying rash…???

During his initial visit to my daughter’s apartment, the rep from All America Pest Control, demonstrating his vast knowledge of bedbugs, explained that there’d been an infestation in the U.S. back in the 80s. However until recently, the problem had been on the wane. With the influx of people from Third World Countires, the rep indicated that bedbugs were again on the rise. Why so?

Image representing Bill Gates as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

According to the rep’s explanation, bedbugs are rampant in Third World Countries because the people have not the means to erradicate them. Since the pests aren’t a health threat, as yet, the people learn to live with bedbugs. In other words, they’re viewed as a nuisance, not a hazard. Makes total sense. Who has unlimited funds to drive the little buggers from existence? Maybe Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Queen Elizabeth. Not me and mine, that’s for sure. Therefore as a result of the inability to contain the bedbugs, they are being inadvertently transported by Third World Country travelers, via their belongings, as many seek to improve their lots elsewhere in the world.

My personal take on the rep’s stance is that we should learn to live with bedbugs to some degree. It’s a fact that world travel isn’t going to disappear, and neither are the nasty pests for that matter. So what other recourse have we? We’ve not the financial resources to exterminate their entire population, nor have we the stamina to Clorox-wipe them out of existence. Believe me, I tried. After cleaning too many articles to count, my daughter and I took to garbage bagging stuff and leaving them to bake in the heat of her locked car for a couple of days. Otherwise, we’d still be sanitizing every crevice of every single thing. That’s more my friend Sylvia’s “cup of tea.” She has staying power to match that of bedbugs, especially when it comes to cleaning.

Source: Jackie Gleason Columbus, OH Desc: Pict...

Image via Wikipedia

Another bug with staying power is the termite. It’s a native of tropical climates, because of the warmth and moisture. I’d forgotten what nuisances termites can be until our family rented a spacious home atop Diamond Head one summer years ago. It was in the Black Point neighborhood where the view of nearby Waikiki Beach is stunning. Sipping coffee while watching early morning surfers ride the waves was luxury personified. While the house retained its charm, it was in need of updating. But with so many windows giving way to beautiful views of the flora and fauna, as well as the ocean, and allowing the tropical breezes to wend their way unobstructed throughout the many rooms, we felt we were in paradise, which we were. Having extended family over to enjoy our hospitality was the reason for our once-in-a-lifetime treat. The “fly in the ointment,” were the termites.

Mastotermes darwiniensis or Darwin Termite, is...

Image via Wikipedia

Termites would settle on the window sills in never-ending numbers. I’d Windex them away, only to find more settling in as replacements later. The kitchen windows seemed to hold a particular attraction for them. Keeping termites from alighting on our food was a battle. Not a major one, but still a struggle nonetheless. It was not an appetizing sight to watch their little bodies writhing about as they attempted to take flight. There was no fear of them attacking us for they were so inconsequentially small. But they were as bothersome to us, as David and his slingshot were to Goliath.

Just as with bedbugs, and most definitely cockroaches, termites will probably outlast the human race on this planet we like to call ours. It’s my feeling we only rent, while the insects own. We’d better start being nice to our landlords.

Inspecting for Bedbugs

Image by bug_girl_mi via Flickr

…here bedbug…nice bedbug…hugmamma. 😉      

ever have one of those years?

I know the year’s not done, but in the words of the reigning Queen Elizabeth, thus far mine’s been an “annus horribilis.” I’m not complaining, well maybe a tad. It’s more that I’m amazed at being blindsided by events over which I’ve had no control. I’m sure I speak for every one of us.

For me the chain of events began in late Fall when my daughter returned home for health reasons. As her mom I naturally felt the time with us was not just about physical healing. I knew it included emotional, spiritual and mental care as well. Her inner wellness was just as crucial as her external wellness. That for me meant making the journey with her. I felt her lows, and I reveled in her ascents back to normalcy. But it was a roller coaster ride for sure. And while I made certain that she had all kinds of support, I thought I could go it alone. Of course I reached out to my husband and friends, but moms tend to take on more than they can sustain. I didn’t know I had, until my daughter left.

Illness came calling almost as soon as our daughter boarded her flight home. I was laid up for weeks battling digestive, as well as respiratory ailments. At the time my husband was away on a business trip. Not being able to get out of the house for stretches at a time, my spirits were stretched thin, very thin. Not getting to exercise class regularly didn’t help.

Deciding to have physical therapy for chronic upper back, shoulder and neck pain once I felt well enough, got the endorphins moving. The sun seemed to be smiling down upon me once again as I got outdoors, breathing deeply of fresh air and renewed hope for better days ahead. Of course Christmas needed to go back into plastic, storage bins, but I hadn’t the strength yet for that monstrous chore. It would have to wait until I returned from our trip to see our daughter perform. But I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me 3,000 miles away.

Almost from the get-go, our family was engulfed in a discussion of differing opinions. Any mother of a young adult knows we must tread lightly with our opinions. Yes, I want her to know how I feel, but I don’t want to live her life. At 61, I don’t want to live mine, AND hers. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. Besides, she’s very capable of living her own life. But it’s very difficult not wanting to share my decades of experience, in the hopes that she won’t make my mistakes. Needless to say our family endured a few days of tip-toeing around one another. In the midst of it all, my husband left on another business trip. And he’s usually the neutral party. After a day or so, and much discussion, my daughter and I resumed our loving, BFF status.

Throughout the ordeal, the flu was brewing in my daughter’s gut. She danced sick, endured our brouhaha, and finally succumbed. The weekend after her performance I took her to the ER with a migraine headache that included dizziness, nausea, and mild vomiting. We sat in the lobby with many, other sick people waiting our turn to be seen, first by the insurance clerk and then the nurse, and then the doctor. Our visit began at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, and didn’t end until 11 p.m. that night. The best part for my daughter was the last hour-and-a-half, when she slept like a baby because of the Benadryl she was getting intravenously. At that point, I was so light-headed, not having eaten since breakfast. Once I told the nurse about my hunger, she and the doctor wrapped things up pretty quickly. Once we got home, my daughter fell into bed, immediately dozing off again. I proceeded to raid the icebox. I know, my age is showing, but “icebox” somehow seems more apropos than “refrigerator.” Maybe because it makes me feel like a kid again, when MY mom did the worrying.

With my daughter sleeping in the next morning, I felt life was finally back on track, so I sat down to blog on my laptop at her dining table. Mindlessly writing, enjoying the moment, I surfed the internet for a picture to add to my post. As soon as I clicked on a photo of a picturesque beach on Maui, all Hell seemed to break loose. Those words blinking incessantly before me “virus, virus, virus’ will forever be emblazoned on my brain. Waking my daughter, together we wend our way through Hell, and back. Trying to buy a pop-up anti-virus security product, “system tool,” only got us more viruses. In fact, the laptop screen went entirely red with “VIRUS” glaring at us in huge, black letters. Using my daughter’s computer we sought online help. We found Tech Pros whose opening page warned of “system tool” being a scam. A half-hour’s drive away, we left my poor, inundated laptop in the hands of the experts..

At a cost of $199 plus tax, my good-as-new laptop was back home with me a couple of days later.  It’s actually better than before. Tech Pros installed a security system, in addition to zapping all those yucky viruses, “dead as door nails.” (Where’d that expression come from, I wonder?) Talk about bed-bugs, I really felt like the viruses had crawled into bed with me. As we used to say growing up on Maui as kids, those viruses gave me the “heegie-beegies!” The correct saying, according to my daughter, is “heebie-geebies.” Whichever it is, it’s exactly how I felt.

Oh, and then there was the matter of cancelling the credit cards we’d used to try to purchase “system tool,” whose sole purpose was probably to steal our information. My daughter’s Visa was replaced in a day or so at a rushed shipping cost of $16. My Master Card arrived the following day at no extra charge to me, except that the UPS driver left the envelope on the wrong doorstep. I learned of their error after I arrived home last night. While I was still at my daughter’s trying to track down my new credit card, I ended up having to cancel it, and have another new one sent to my home address. 

As if we’d not had enough I got hit with “the bug,” or so we thought. I started feeling the nausea my daughter had experienced. We thought it might be the flu. Would those viruses ever leave us be? As it turns out, we decided I was probably experiencing gastritis or the beginnings of an ulcer. Over the past few months, heart burn symptoms have returned time and again. Getting on a regimen of Prilosec and Tums as needed, as well as a diet of whole grains, steamed veggies and selected fruits seems to have calmed my digestive system down considerably.

But just when my health ordeal was unfolding, Mother Nature decided to ratchet things up a bit with a tornado watch. With heavy rains and winds whipping about, the sirens at my daughter’s apartment complex began blaring. Turning on the TV to the news channel, we learned of a full-blown tornado watch in our area. As the newscaster followed its movement, my daughter and I emptied her bathroom of anything that could kill us if we were to hunker down, wrapped in heavy quilts in the bathtub. My husband, back home from his business trip, called while we were preparing for the worst. Needless to say, he was worried. Needless to say, I was panicked, my digestive symptoms getting worse by the minute.

As I’m sure you’ve already surmised, no tornado touched down in our area, although sightings were reported in other parts. Due to return home to Washington, I hoped my digestive symptoms would abate long enough for me to make the trip which included a stop-over. Fingers crossed, I checked in online.

When I awoke yesterday I was good to go, having taken one of my daughter’s sleeping supplements which helped me rest through most of the night. I even blogged, putting out a post, before packing away my laptop. My husband called making certain I was, in fact, traveling. Later he called back warning that my flight was delayed 45 minutes, which would affect my connecting flight. The hour wait was now shortened to half-an-hour. I wasn’t deterred. I was ready to return home and be sick in my own house, rather than “riding it out” at my daughter’s.

When I got to the airport, I called my husband to say I’d made it, and asked if he could check for other flights in case I missed my connection. He called back with great news. The connecting flight was also delayed by 45 minutes. Hallelujah! God decided to give me a break. As it turned out, I had to work for it. My flight arrived in Terminal C. I had to high-tail it to Terminal D, which I did. Panting, my feet literally flew as I rushed past anyone and everyone making sure I wouldn’t miss my flight home. So determined to make it, I wound up standing in line at the wrong gate. God intervened again when another passenger informed me of my mistake. I hoofed it out of there, making it to the right line. I needn’t have worried. The flight didn’t leave the gate until well past the delayed departure time.

The only thing that hurt by the time I landed home in Washington, was my fanny. Could they make airplane seats any harder? But I’m home, with my husband, cats and dog. And you know what else? I’m even delighted to see that Christmas is still with us. My cat-sitter left a note saying, in part, “…I love all the xmas decorations! China Rose.” Don’t you just love her name? And she’s a sweetheart to boot.

The year’s not done as I’ve said. But I’m determined that it’ll get better. So I’m rejoining my friends in exercise class, continuing with my physical therapy appointments, healthier diet, and blogging. I’ll look into starting yoga, tackling other writing projects, and an adult ed class, perhaps in French.

we can all make lemonade…out of lemons…hugmamma.  🙂

“george, who would be king”

Enjoyed another great night at the movies with close friends Sylvia and Jim. She and I were particularly keen to see “The King’s Speech.” Sylvia was a subject during the rule of George VI and was, therefore, very excited to see the film’s portrayal of England’s beloved monarch and his queen. Revisiting her homeland by way of the vivid photography was an added bonus. I’m a devoted fan of Colin Firth who acted the part of the king. But I too wanted to see what George VI was really like, the man beneath the crown. I’d heard of his speech impediment, but wanted to learn more about it, and how such an introvert as he, dealt with the problem. Our spouses were on the fence about the film, but decided to accompany us. They were both very happy they did.

Colin Firth did not disappoint, nor did Geoffrey Rush as the king’s speech therapist, Lionel Lough. Firth’s handling of the king’s prominent stutter was excruciatingly realistic. It pained me to watch him struggle to speak. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the dilemma to form words and emit them naturally were so physically apparent. Firth’s eyes bulged and teared, beads of sweat sprung up on his forehead and beneath his squinting eyes. He seemed unable to breathe at times, the words sticking in his throat. I felt his dizziness, his nausea. I wanted to collapse alongside him, under the weight to speak publicly as the people’s sovereign, especially when he announced that England was joining the war against Hitler.

A great actor, but not necessarily a favorite of mine, Geoffrey Rush acted the role of Mr. Lough with eloquence and restraint. If you’re not well acquainted with Rush, you might remember him as Johnny Depp’s nemesis in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, Barbossa, captain of the haunted ship, the “Black Pearl.” In this role and others previous, Rush seems verbose, wordy. In “The King’s Speech,” he spoke in reaction to Firth. The part of therapist was to encourage the king to speak, a lot.

As the story unfolded, it was apparent that Lough’s value to King George VI transcended the professional. Lough became mentor, confessor, friend, and “family” to the king. They remained so, for the rest of their lives. As is so like me, I shed silent tears here and there.

How sad that George VI’s difficult childhood contributed to his stuttering. How sad that his brother abdicated with little thought to the burden he was placing upon George, who would be king. But how wonderful that he had his wife and daughters, and Lionel Lough to love and support him throughout his reign. And, of course, the overwhelming love of a grateful people.

a beautiful and touching “fairytale,” deserving of an “oscar” for all involved…hugmamma.