5 Years Later…A reflection

So I looked at the calendar the other day and realized that I have gone through a lot of changes in the last five years, and I didn’t realize how many or the significance of them until I sat down and started thinking about them.

December 2007
My bar closed.  I was the GM of a pub in Dunwoody called Timmys, and it was wonderful.  We had some bumps in the road, as most businesses do.  I had been a bartender there a year before, left and was managing a shit hole of a restaurant when I got a call to go talk to one of the owners.  He wanted to bring me in as the General Manager.  I couldn’t say yes fast enough.  I knew the pay wouldn’t be what most places pay their GMs, but I didn’t care.  I loved that bar, most of the clients, and the owners.  We brought the pub into the black in less than two months.  We got reliable staff and made some scheduling changes, and did inventory twice a week.  All was going well until the property management people blindsided us with an incredibly high rent renewal.  So we closed up shop.

It was so hard to see all of our equipment taken out.  Employees had to find other jobs (many thanks to Brian who put feelers out and got several of our people jobs) and I was at a loss for the first time in a long time.  Everything else was full.  So I waited tables part time at a bar in Snellville which is nowhere close to where I was living.  It could take an hour and a half to get there by 6 to turn around, make 25.00-40.00 and get cut.  It was not worth the gas money.  I got lucky though.  The week before I left, one of my old regulars called me asking if I wanted to do some part time indexing work for her and her husband.  YES PLEASE!!  I jumped at the chance.  I needed a break from the restaurant industry that I had been in for 20 years.  It was perfect.  It was only part time, but I made it work.

February 2008
Then the bottom fell out of February.  My sister in law got news that her grandfather had passed away.  He was 102, I believe.  She and my brother didn’t know how they would be able to get to the funeral with their kids.  With my awesome, super-flexible, part-time work hours I suggested that the five of us drive to Maryland, they drop me and the kids off at Mom’s and they go on to NY for the funeral, kid-free.  Perfect plan.  My brother and his wife head to NY to honor a wonderful, loving man.

While in Baltimore hanging with my mom, niece and nephew, I got a text from my roommate to call ASAP.  My spidey sense started tingling and I knew before he said anything that my beautiful sweet dog, Rayne was in trouble.  He said she had been throwing up blood and they were at the vet and while he felt comfortable making most decisions for her, he knew the “Ultimate Decision” should be left up to me.

She was my baby, and I couldn’t let her suffer.  I was five states away!  I knew I would never see my girl again but I had to let her go.  It turns out Rayne died from an aortic aneurysm.  People rarely recover from it, much less animals.  I was heart broken.  She had been my faithful companion for 11 years and several boyfriends.  I sat in my mother’s house crying for three days until I could finally come home.  Home to what??  I had my brother drop me off at my boyfriend’s house.  It was several days before I could go back to my apartment.  It was so empty.  I think I only spent one more night there before I officially moved in with my boyfriend in May.

Rayne, May 1997
Rayne, May 1997

A week after Rayne died, my bosses told me they had a business acquaintance who was looking for  temporary help, so they sent me on over to Jim.  It was a new world for sure.  Nine to five.  Weekends off.  What more could I ask for??  To be hired on permanently of course.  I had been there about two weeks or so when my uncle passed away…

March2008
My Uncle Cliff was an absolute treasure.  He was born with Down Syndrome and a hole in his heart in the 1940s.  He wasn’t expected to live past 16.  He was 61 when he died.
My uncle was wonderful.  He truly had the purest soul of anyone I have ever met.  He taught me, my brother and my cousins so much about sharing, forgiveness, taking care of things and how to treat people.  He was meticulous with his things, and was very strict about how we played with them.  If he thought we weren’t taking care of his things, he wouldn’t let us play with them.  He had an Intellivision video game console.  Uncle Cliff, my brother and I would play for hours just the three of us.  I look back on it as some of the best times in my life, but back then, it was just another afternoon at Granny and Pap’s house.  He was an avid bowler-played on leagues as long as I can remember.  His true passion was Elvis.

I never liked Elvis much when I was growing up, but now I cry when I hear him.  My dad and my aunts and uncles took him to Graceland for his 40th birthday.  He was just in awe.  Another year for his birthday, they got an Elvis impersonator to come to the party.  I missed a lot of those parties because of my work schedule.  It is almost impossible to get weekends off in the restaurant industry and I regret not fighting harder for that time off.  Uncle Cliff began to decline rapidly.  His mind was going, and there is some research out there that links Down Syndrome with Alzheimers.  I do not know the truth behind that, but he was getting mixed up a lot, and he always kept to a schedule.  He ate at noon, bowled on Tuesdays at 7, etc.  My grandparents found him at 2am one morning with his bowling ball waiting to go bowling.  It had been at least two years since he bowled!!  He got weaker and weaker until he was mostly bedridden.

My aunts, uncles and dad took turns sitting with him and with my grandparents.  He held on…he had never quit anything in his life and I don’t think he knew how to let go.  That was something Daddy and I talked about a lot.  He fought like hell to be counted as an equal, and never gave up on anything he tried.  He died in the wee hours of Easter Sunday on March 23 with my Uncle Dave beside him.  I had just gotten home, and turned right around and went back to Granny and Pap’s house.  I have never seen my dad so sad.  Uncle Cliffie used to tell my dad that he was his best brother (I bet he said that to all his brothers!) and he used to tell my grandfather he was going to tell on him to his brother, Joe.  My dad is the oldest and always looked out for his younger brothers and sisters, but especially Cliff.  He took his death very hard, and I don’t know that he has really recovered from it.  I know my grandparents miss him terribly.  We all do.

 

Uncle Cliff 60 yrs old
Uncle Cliff 60 yrs old

 

In a span of just a few months I went from really being on top of the world with a great job that I loved and was good at, a fabulous reconnection with my boyfriend, and my friends and family are healthy to no job and three deaths of two very special people and my sweet Rayne.  I was not in a good place and felt like I  had no control.  What did I do?  How did I handle this?  Drinking?  Drugs?  Nah.  I cut my damn hair.  Hair that was halfway down my back waiting to get a little longer so I could donate it, and I whacked it off.  To above my shoulders.  With a STYLE.  WTF was I thinking.  My entire adult life has consisted of me having long, curly, hippie-like hair.  I have no idea how to use a straightener or a curling iron.  I use a diffuser on the end of my hairdryer and I go!

What a dumbass thing to do, and thank goodness that mess has grown out finally, and I think my hair might be curlier than before!

How am I doing nowadays?  Well I married that sweet boy who asked me to move in with him and we adopted two twin puppies from the animal shelter.  I still miss Uncle Cliff terribly, but his lessons stay with me and I smile through my tears when I hear The King.  That temp job?  Still there.  Moved within the company to it’s sister company, Medistreams, and we are all systems go for a start  up company.  Not too shabby for a retired barkeep.

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