Shannon Ingram's Place

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Location: So CA

Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Creepy Crank Callers

Both Gary and I have been working practically 24/7 the past couple of weeks. He rises early and is out the door by 4:30 AM. I get up a bit later. He goes to bed around 8:30. I go to bed a LOT later. If we are lucky, we have dinner together and watch "Wheel of Fortune." We've both been working weekends, too - either on the real job stuff or the volunteer job stuff. Last night I discovered that we do indeed need to spend more time with each other.

While I was at a WomanSage Board Meeting, Gary received a call on his cell phone from an anonymous creep who made some nasty comments about Gary and me. It was very disturbing for Gary and when I came home, he let me know how upset he was. Thankfully, we communicate quite well after all these years, and we were able to get through the storm of negative emotions, albeit with some minor scars.

Both of us stayed awake most of the night trying to figure out who would make such a call. Who would know that kind of information, have Gary's phone number and be with a group of laughing men when the call was placed? Who would think that was funny? Who could be so immature and mean? Clearly, it's not for us to know at this point. An old friend of mine, Sue, wrote on my Facebook wall, "Look at it this way, you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and you're not them! You're ahead!"

One thing this experience has awakened in my mind is what it's like to be hazed or stalked by someone you don't know who makes hurtful or untrue allegations seem true. I thought about the young girl who committed suicide by hanging herself after being plagued by mean messages on her MySpace page - messages that her family later discovered were left by the mother of one of her teenage girlfriends.

It's good to be able to suck it up and move on. But some people are more fragile than Gary and I are, and a message such as the one we got could have had more dire consequences. Shame on you, whoever you are. What goes around comes around...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whatever Happened to Golf & Travel?

When Mom turned 50, she celebrated with a dinner party at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club with her new boyfriend, Jack, who later became my stepfather. I remember she said it was now time for her to live on the waterfront, belong to the yacht club, travel and learn to play golf. She'd been working for 15 years as an interior designer and had weathered a bitter divorce.

Mom never learned to play golf, but she made good on her commitments to the waterfront home, yacht club and travel. Throughout her 50's, 60's & 70's, she and Jack lived a lavish lifestyle of the rich not famous. Who needed fame? They had a home on Linda Isle, private plane, 55' motoryacht, condo in Palm Desert, mountain cattle ranch retreat, and they traveled the world in first class style. They took several trips around Europe in a big Mercedes with a private Italian driver named Remo. When they went to Paris, it had to be on the Concorde because it was the fastest way to get there. One glitch on that trip was that Jack dropped his glasses into the potty on the plane and it was the only pair he had brought, so they waited three hours while men with very long plastic gloves searched for his glasses. When found, they were sterilized, then Jack and Mom went on their way to join Remo.

At age 27, I was living and working on a private charter yacht in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, when my parents decided to "drop in" for a visit. They didn't come to stay with me on our 46' sloop, but instead brought three other couples from Newport Beach and chartered "Panda," a 129' schooner skippered by our friends, Bill and Grace Bodle. No slouches, my parents. At least I got to go aboard for a tour of the yacht while they were in port. I remember watching them sail out of Charlotte Amalie as I was sanding the rim around the hatch that opened to the main salon of our "little boat." Wiping perspiration from my forehead, I paused to wonder if I would ever graduate from crew to guest on a yacht. "Maybe when I'm in my 50's," I thought. It made me think it couldn't be so bad to get old.

Today I sit here giggling at my computer, taking a break from a work project that has brought me to the office on a weekend. My 50's are NOT about luxury travel. I reflect on those days of hard work as a deck slave and cook in the Virgin Islands as if they were part of a magical dream come true. My working wardrobe consisted mostly of bikinis and cover-ups. I didn't need nail polish and make-up every day. I had sunscreen and elbow grease. Now I work long hours, thankfully at a job I love. I only travel on business, or for an important family gathering. I haven't played a round of golf in seven years, although earlier this year I did get to use a putter at the home country club of my friend, Marianne Towersey (pictured here) in Pebble Beach.

The irony? Today I work primarily to support my mom! And every weekend, I go to spend time with Mom at the Assisted Living community where she lives and I listen to her talk about her exotic life's adventures.

Don't get me wrong. I don't feel resentful. This is my life and it's still all about my choices. My husband and I are not millionaires. We work hard just to stay afloat from paycheck to paycheck. We find our joy in spending time with pets, grandchildren, nieces, friends, co-workers, and yes, even with Mom. We donate time, talent and even a little money to causes we believe in - our church, WomanSage, the Alzheimer's Association, the National Family Caregivers Association. And we relish memories of the few years where we DID get to travel and play golf.

More golf and travel? We have hope! After all, 60 is the new 50...