May 2012


This past weekend, I traveled to my hometown of Harlan, Ky, to spend some time with my family. My parents have lived in the same house for nearly 50 years, and they have finally decided that it’s too much house. They spend winters in Florida, anyway, so why not make the move?

They have put the old house on the market, and my brother and I were collecting what stuff we may want to take to our own homes. After having not lived there since my high school years, and returning only yearly as of late, it was really a trip down memory lane.

We took a drive out to the Harlan country club, to view the remains of the clubhouse that recently burned to the ground. As we walked around the grounds of the charred remains and the long-neglected swimming pool, memories washed through my head.

Many, many days of my childhood were spent here, learning to swim, then to dive, usually belly-first, off the diving board. Laying on the hot concrete swathed in baby oil and iodine, prematurely aging my skin while wishing for larger breasts and a boyfriend. Our mothers were golfers, so the best babysitter in town was the lifeguard.

Charging lunches consisting of Mrs. Williams’ ‘minnow cheese, sweet tea and a Hershey bar, my friends and I were left to our own devices for most of the day, no worries about any more harm coming to us than a skinned knee or bad sunburn.

Thursday night was family night at the club, and the lot of us would band together and ride the golf carts around the famously mountainous golf course, scarring each other on the rickety old swinging bridges. After- dark card games kept us occupied while our parents put away copious amounts of liquor, illegal in Harlan County until 2011.

Most of those people have long-since left the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and my only association of long-ago friends is now through Facebook. I doubt that I will return to Harlan when mom and dad leave for the last time this Fall. Seeing the country club in it’s state of ruin seemed to close a door for me. Saying goodbye isn’t easy. I’ll keep the memories burned in my brain of a carefree childhood and far away friends.

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RIP

Yesterday I was taken by surprise-shocked, really-when a friend called to let me know that a friend and neighbor of ours had been killed in a tragic accident.

Let me preface this by saying that this person that died wasn’t what I would consider a “close” friend, not someone I would call on the phone to chat or enjoy family-style dinner with, but a friend that always greeted me with a warm hug and a kiss, and genuinely showed interest in how and what I was doing.

I’ll call him John, because that was his name.

John was a central figure in our Atlanta neighborhood. He and his wife were the first people HK and I met when we moved here 15 years ago. They encouraged us to get involved in neighborhood activities, of which there are plenty, and his was always a welcoming face in the crowd.

John’s generosity was phenomenal. He volunteered countless hours for events here and in the community. We regularly passed him and his wife, who often walked hand in hand, in our neighborhood park, on their way to or from feeding the ducks.

I have not been able to erase his smiling face from my mind since I heard the news, not that I want to, anyway, but the thought of not seeing that smile, feeling that warmth, greatly and deeply saddens me. As with probably everyone that knew him, I can’t believe he’s gone. It wasn’t his time. It wasn’t our time to lose such a selfless man. I’m sure he knows that he took a little piece of our hearts with him when he left this world.

The fact that no one, and especially his wife, got the opportunity to say goodbye to him is a real gut-punch. And a reminder to me to let those that I care about know that they are special. Tell loved ones that you love them. More importantly, SHOW them that you love them. You never know when it may be too late.

With love,

Jules

moles

I have skin cancer.

Not really, or that I know of, but that’s what I declared to HK last night. I was getting out of the shower I noticed these new “thingy’s,” little growths, like the thousands of moles that cover my body. (OK, not thousands, maybe, but lots-and that’s not counting the 30 or so that doctor’ have already removed.)

“Go to the dermatologist,” he advised. But then we remembered. We don’t have health insurance anymore. Well, we do, but only for catastrophes. Like a chainsaw severing the wrong trunk.  Or having your head bashed in by a demolition ball. New moles don’t count.

Last year, HK voluntarily left his job. With his resignation, we were “given” an extra month of our existing health care coverage. So we visited every possible specialist we could, making sure there would be no surprises. Everything looked tip-top, although due to past “procedures,” my coverage costs were considerably higher than HK’s. I had orthoscopic surgery on my shoulder.  (Even though my 3 months of physical therapy was finished already.)  I had seen an opthamologist for “dry-eye”. I had dandruff. Holy shit!  I thought getting all this stuff out of the way would save us some cash!

I had seen something in the paper about free skin-cancer screening, so I googled it and called. They had booked up in the first hour. I called a few other places, and they were either full or  only for minorities. (Is that even legal?) So I’ve decided to just go ahead and see my doctor, even though she books up many, many months in advance, and I’ll be charged, like, a gazillion dollars.

Why is it that when we don’t have things like, say, insurance, that our health takes a turn for the worse?  In the year since losing full coverage, I’ve had more health issues than in the last 5 years combined. I guess age could possibly have something to do with it, but hell. I’m not that old!

So whaddya do? Do you pay major big bucks for comprehensive coverage and total piece of mind but much leaner pockets, or do you rely on the fact that, up until this point you’ve been reasonably healthy, and hope to stay that way? I’m going with the second option for now. I’m really just glad I have a choice. Many, many Americans don’t.

In the meantime, I’ll practice prevention.  I’ll apply sunscreen regularly. I’ll exercise more. I’ll brush and floss religiously. And I’ll go have these little “thingy’s” on my body checked out.  I’ll just forgo those strappy little sandals I’ve been saving for.