No Big Deal

 

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It was a beautiful morning, much like today, seven years ago, on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, Keith and Kellie were by my side, as I was putting on my hospital gown and getting into a hospital bed.  We were all making nervous small-talk, and Keith was making his usual sarcastic puns and quips. As the anesthesiologist comes into the room, all I said to him was I better wake up…

When Keith and I opened The Petite Cafe in 2001, we were new to the town of Nutley, NJ.  As the years went by, we got to know so many wonderful people that eventually became friends. One such family was the Paserchia’s.  I met one of the daughters first, Leanne, then her sister Kim and then eventually their parents, Dennis and Denise, and brother Christopher.

Around 2006, Leanne came with her family into our cafe for Sunday brunch, and her mother, Denise was visibly shaken.  When I asked what was going on, they told me that Dennis needed a kidney transplant, that he was a difficult match, and had no prospects for anyone willing to be a living donor.  I said to them “I’ll get tested, what do I have to do?” They all looked a little shocked, but they told me that I needed to get a blood test. I told them “great I’ll do it!” During that little conversation, brunch is booming, so I went back to work, and I casually walked up to Keith, who was in front of a sizzling stove, with pancakes on one side and eggs on the other, and said “Um, Babe, I am donating my kidney, to that guy over there!”  Without skipping a beat, he said “oookkkaaayyy,” while flipping the pancakes!!!

A few days later, I went to St Barnabus, in Livingston with Keith, and we met with two great people Marie Morgievich and Dr. Shamkant Mulgaonkar.  They loved Dennis; his wife donated her kidney six years earlier, and he rejected it. They were very anxious to get him a new Kidney. When we met with Dr. Mulgaonkar, he took out his pad and pen and proceeded to show us how this was going down.  He was so amusing in his explanation but, I was not sure if he was trying to scare us or just wanted us to be very well informed.   But after he proceeded to explain, EXACTLY how they were going to cut into me and take my kidney, he said, so are you still interested??  I said of course! You don’t scare me; this is EXACTLY what I want to do.  Keith told the Dr., “she made up her mind Doc, there is no turning back, now” Dr. Mulgaonkar, said great, let’s get you tested!!

Unfortunately, I was not a match.  Now, understand that being a match for someone is very difficult, even within a family.  But if you don’t even get tested, you will never know. There was another option, it was called a “chain donation.”  So this is how it works, Dennis needs a kidney, he needs someone to donate for him, whether it is a family member, friend or stranger.  Once they have that, next is finding another person (let’s call her Laurine) in need of a kidney whose family member wants to donate, but does not match her either (let’s call her Kathleen)  I match Laurine, and Kathleen matches Dennis. So, my kidney goes to Laurine and Kathleen’s goes to Dennis. Thus the chain, I hope that makes sense!  The big problem is still getting that person who will match Dennis!!!  When family members, friends or even strangers, do not step up, it makes it difficult for the person in need, to even get the opportunity at life!!

For the first few years, nothing happened, there was no match out there for Dennis! Meanwhile, poor Dennis was on Dialysis this entire time, up to 4 times a week. Then one day I get a call from Marie, and she tells me that we have a match.  I had to go to the hospital for tests, which includes a cat scan, pap smear, and mammogram. Everything came back perfect! I am ready to go!!

But then, the call that brought everything to a screeching halt, just a few days before the operation!  One of the people in the chain – I believe it was a chain of 8, decided to back out, because his wife’s friend wanted to donate to her, and she was a match!  He was delighted he did not have to do it, backed out and the whole chain fell apart! I was so angry at the guy – HOW DO YOU DO THAT???, all these people are counting on you?? So now we wait again!!!

We waited nearly a year, and around June 10, 2011, the phone rang.  It was Marie, who said, ok we have a chain again, we think that this is solid!! Everyone has to come back again and get all the tests done, again, to make sure that nothing had changed.  If everything is good, surgery is June 22!

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, I went to St Barnabus, for my tests, I had the mammogram, pap smear and then the cat scan.  Now the cat scan is where you have the iodine injected for contrast. Once the Dr. started and injected the iodine, I laid down on the table.  It was so weird, but I let out a very fast, short sneeze!  I had no idea where it came from because it actually startled me. After a few moments, my eyes started to itch, but I could not move yet, the Dr. asked me if my eyes were itchy (my thought was – how does she know that) and I said yes, she said, Ok, I need about 16 more seconds, can you hang on until then, I said sure!

When the test was finished, the Dr was right there to help me up.  As I swung my legs to the floor, now my eyes were very itchy.  She said to me “I think you are having an allergic reaction.”  (Apparently, the sneeze was a warning sign for her) I said, how is that I had this test before, this did not happen. (When your body has an allergic reaction, the first time you are exposed to whatever it is that you are allergic to, your body says “oh we don’t like that,” and it is the NEXT time you have been exposed, that is when the reaction happens, interesting right?!!?!!)

The next thing I know, as she was helping me walk from the imaging room, I started having difficulty breathing.  I happened to bring my daughter Kellie with me that day, without Keith, and she had to watch as my face blew up, and got swollen.  She said, “what is wrong with you, mom?” I was bewildered, I could hear the Dr say to me, “Maureen you are in “anaphylactic shock” a reaction to the iodine, I am giving you Benydryl, it will stop the swelling.”  However, what happened, was that it got a lot worse before it got better. She called for a gurney and laid me on it. I was beginning to panic because I could not breathe, I told the Dr. to get Kellie out of here, and then next thing I knew I took in a breath and could not exhale, I hear in the background Code Blue, Code Blue!!

Next thing, 14-15 doctors, and nurses are surrounding the bed looking at me, and one said, I am going to put a breathing tube down your throat to help you breathe.  I shook my head NO, and I knew if they did that I would have to stay in the hospital, besides I was starting to feel a little better.

By the time Keith got to the hospital, I was down in the emergency room, but feeling better and still swollen.  Keith told me that he “was so freaked” out that he was not here for me, and he was so happy to see my face – even though it didn’t even look like me!  Before we left, I asked the Drs., am I ok to have the surgery next week?!?! They said yes you are, my reaction was “GOOD”! After a few of hours, I was okay to leave and I even drove home.

That Sunday, June 19th, was Father’s Day.  Our store was open, but a Street Fair was going on, and Keith and I decided to take a walk. As the surgery was looking like it was really happening and I was feeling excited and anxious about it.  I knew it was the right thing to do, especially since Organ Donation has been in my life, ALL my life – but again that is another story, for another time! As we were enjoying the day, I said to Keith, “I know that Wednesday was scary, but I need you to promise me one thing, that if the surgery goes south, you won’t be angry with me.”  We stopped walking, and he said to me “How can I ever be mad at you for doing something so beautiful,” I gave him a big hug and said to him, “Ok bring on Wednesday!”

Which brings us back to the beginning of my story…

I kissed Keith and Kellie, then I was wheeled to the OR, they helped me on the bed, hooked me up to IVs, and the surgeon came in and said, “Ok, Maureen, are you ready?”  I said I am, and he said, excellent! That was the last thing I remember until I woke up!!!!

The surgery was done Laparscopic, there were three tiny incisons, they cut the Kidney out, stitched up the vein that connected the kidney and closed me up.  It was about an hour and a half.  Done!!  Now I am not a wimp, but whew, I was definitely in pain, I will not sugar coat it!  Even with the painkillers, it was not easy.  But, I woke up jubilant, the first thing I asked for was “how is Dennis,” they told me he was doing great!  I was beyond thrilled! The surgery was an eight-person chain, my kidney went to a woman in NYC, and Dennis got his kidney from a person, who was from California!  It was such a great day! The lives of eight people changed forever, and I am so proud to have been a part of it!

Dennis did have some issues post surgery, but once he was feeling better, he began living his life without Dialysis!!!  Life was great, and so was his life with his new grandson.

Sadly, after living with this kidney for nearly 7 years, in March, Dennis rejected the kidney, and he is now back on Dialysis!  This does happen with organ donation, he will now be a more difficult match, but if no one steps up to be a living donor, then he will not get another opportunity! We cannot let this happen!  Consider being a Living Donor today!  If I could, I would do it again, I am very passionate about Organ Donation, and to me this was really No Big Deal!

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The First Father’s Day

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**I posted this on my social media on Father’s Day

When Keith and I started talking about getting married, I was really not interested in having children, and since he already had two children from his first marriage, I asked him “are you ok if your two children are all the children you have?” He told me “yes, but I think you will change your mind someday!” I told him, “I don’t think so,” and we go on with our lives.

But then, my beloved grandfather dies, I realized what it meant to have a family of my own, and having watched Keith with his own children, I knew that he would be a great father to our child. I told Keith, “ok I hate to admit it, but you were right.” “I think I want to have a child, just one, and also I want to go back to work after six weeks, are you ok with that?” of course he was thrilled!!

On February 26, 1990, our beautiful daughter Megan was born. As Megan got sick, it became apparent that I would not be able to go back to work. Keith was working at the Marriott Corp. at Paine-Webber, and he took on two more jobs to make up for our lost income! When he would come home, the first thing he would do – if it wasn’t too late – is tell me to get some rest, I will take care of our little girl! He was the calming force in our small family, and Meg loved when her daddy held her in his massive arms against his chest. On the day she died, he whispered in her ear; you can let go, my little little (his favorite thing he called her), we love you, you do not need to hold on for us!

One year later we gave birth to our daughter Kellie; it was challenging being pregnant and mourning at the same time! Keith, was my strength, my rock, and my navigator through our new norm. He took on all the stress of everything so that my pregnancy would be as “stressless” as possible. When are beautiful daughter Kellie was born, completely healthy, we started to build a life again.

In January 1994, Keith’s son Justin had an opportunity to live with us, and just like that, we became a family of four! It was so amazing watching Keith with his children. Cultivating their strengths, teasing them with pranks, reading stories to Kellie and telling Justin stories of his adventures! Both kids were able to go to him and tell him anything. He was not judgy, but he was not a pushover either. If the kids were in trouble, my first reaction was to freak out and ground them, but he would have his calm Keith way, and the kids would usually feel far worse because they disappointed their dad!

As the kids had become adults, Keith, became their best friend! He loved the man that Justin had become! He was proud of the husband and father that he was, and I was so happy that Justin had the most amazing example of what it means to be a husband and father. My heart goes out to Kellie, who has yet to start her life, Keith will never see her career choice, who she decides to spend the rest of her life with, or ever meet her children. I am confident though that with the special relationship she had with her dad, he will be with her throughout every decision she makes through her life, and he will help her to make the right choices.

This Father’s Day will be the most difficult for all of us, but as we think of the kind of father he was, all we can do is smile throughout the day! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! #keithandmegan💜💜 #fathersday

Missing My Love

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My name is Maureen Jaret, and I am Keith “The Existential Baker’s” wife.  With a heavy heart and in case you did not realize it, my beautiful husband, poet, chef, father, and grandfather passed away on February 8, 2018.  Please see his last post of February 1, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”

I have been trying to decide what I would do with his blog, which he loved and nurtured for the last six years.  I did not want his blog with all his amazing writings, to die with him. So after much thought and reflection, I decided that I will continue what he started, discussing my life with him, my life without him, and everything that is in between.

I grew up in the dawning of Equal Rights for Women; however, I grew up in a very conservative household where being a feminist was vulgar.  When I met Keith, he not only embraced the fact that I had strong opinions and sense of self, he encouraged it. We always had a funny thing between us, that I am not “The Wife,” I was not Mrs. Keith Jaret or even Mrs. Jaret, I am Maureen Jaret.  It never meant that I was not proud to be Mrs. Jaret, but I was my own person, and he respected that.

So in honor of him, and the fact that I am and always will be extremely PROUD to be his wife, I will be renaming his blog, “The Existential’s Wife”!  I am not the writer he was, but I think this new journey, will be fascinating…to say the least! I do have a passion for Organ Donation, and I want to spread the word about how this has affected my life.  Since we no longer have the New Jersey Stores, I am going to change all my social media to The Existential’s Wife. I spoke to my children about this, and they were happy that their father’s words will go on.  I hope you will continue to follow me as I go on with the rest of my life, without the love of my life, trying to figure it all out! I know he gives me a peace sign over this.

 

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

 

 

Death is the eater of time, and in the end, no one escapes time

Death knows not discrimination
It’s sojourner paid me a visit
Frigid fingers of finality
Toying with my bones
Sending chills to my marrow
Tapping into my syrup of life
Glaring his anxious eyes perniciously
Leering mockingly a disdainful smirk
Baited breath of icy anticipation
Whispering “Surrender and succumb.”

I will not surrender my memories
Attempting to soothe and assure
With words bluntly lacking hope
Is this it?
Is this when it ends?
My mind keeps on fighting
But my body betrays my aim
I turned to my center of strength
Found it full of positive energy
From sparks begun at my sacred hunting grounds
Through the ancient gallery of friendship
Up through years of developing the love
A wave of love and support
My army of love
With weakened élan I addressed him
“Not this time Death!”
Death moved slowly backward
Smirking with deep disdain
With a stinging smile replied
“When you’re time has come I will visit longer…

Life can change in an eye blink. When we are forced to deal with the loss of a loved one we are also forced to imagine life without them around. When it’s, you that may be the one lost you are forced to wonder how you can live without everybody you love or care about. It’s a far different occurrence to confront your past than to have your history facing you, but in the end, The love you make is equal to the love you take. I want to thank my army of love for lifting me through the first stage of this struggle, and for assuring me, you will always be there to help me through.

I’ve been through a multitude of experiences, and lately, it occurs to me….What a Long, Strange Trip It has Been….LOVE YOU ALL!
Live and Love in Peace

Say My Name

 

 

You can say my name
But who am I really
What am I supposed to be
One thing for sure
I’m not a name
That’s not who I am
It’s a title assigned to me
By Mom and Dad
That’s how I came to be me
So who am I really?
A silk sheet thought
One fleeting random moment
A consequence of love
Shared by my parents
An accident of birth
You can say my name
But I’m much more than a title
Much more than a belief
I’m the only thing I could ever be
Something relevant
Just me
The one thing I will always be

Say my name but I won’t answer it’s just a term a verbal cancer of a terminal dancer or a necromancer out on his luck. I’m just a dumbstruck shmuck stuck on a shelf by myself, not some someone else but me. Don’t you see, what else could I be? Although many believed they could change me. Rearrange the stranger in me but its plain to see that only caused a derangement in me. Who’s to blame for all this shame? If it’s you…..Say my name

What’s my name
Monsieur insane
Homme sans cranium
A brainless geranium
What do I possess
All I have is an insignificant title
A given name and too much time
Straddled with faded memories
I try to hold on to my past
Hoping it may last
But it slips through my fingers
Pleading with me to forget
The memories needn’t even ask
I don’t want them
Memories cause sadness
Create melancholy madness
Yet they exist in me
On file
They do nothing but mock
Why shouldn’t they
They’ve done their task
They added to my being
They poisoned my well
Now they whisper my name
If only they could see behind the pain
Hear the screams of my fearful darkness
Feel the fires that burn through my soul
Maybe they would understand why I wish to forget
Know why I rail with constant regret
I wish I could delete them
But I live in their moments

I try to put that shit behind me but my ghosts always seem to find me, keep trying to define me or even realign me and try to destroy my virility. My natural ability doesn’t win me nobility but showing humility as I use it with civility. My good deeds bring me tranquility while I patiently wait the oncoming senility. That’s our brains delete button. One day I’ll even forget my name. I’m an enigma with shitty stigma if you hear me I can dig ya but I’m serious man I’m a mysterious man a delirious man without a clear plan. Life keeps maiming my brain make me believe I’m not sane allowing some demons to cause me shame and I know this sounds lame but if you need someone to blame it can be only one person……..Say My Name

Live and Love in Peace

T’WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE FESTIVUS

 

A Festivus visit
J.T. Hilltop

T’was the night before Festivus
When all through the house
The computer was buffering
I lost the wireless mouse

The gluten free cupcakes were baked with such care
In the hopes that the end of GMO was soon near
The children ate sugar free Nestles they had snuck in their beds
As visions of organic plums danced in their heads

Mom in sexy teddy who was straddling my lap
Had just bound my hands with our Festivus strap
When down in the kids room there arose such a clatter
I uncuffed and got dressed to see what was the matter

Away towards the window I flew like a flash
Dropping my medicine and my now legal stash
It fell on the breast of the new fallen snow
I watched in paranoia as my weed fell below

When what to my bloodshot eyes should appear
A hallucination of Gramps and eight tiny reindeer
Like a leprechaun in red so lively and quick
I knew in a moment my eyes played a trick

A rainbow of eagles his coursers they came
He yelled at all eight and he called them by name
Yo Bashful yo Sleepy yo Doc and yo Sneezey
Hey Dopey and Grumpy and Happy and Sleezy

Hidden in the dresser where Mom hides her thong
Now dash away dash away while I get my bong
Then in a twinkling they climbed onto the roof
A dancing red leprechaun this must be a goof

I took a hit off the bong and was turning around
I opened my hand my pipe dropped to the ground
The dude dressed in faux fur from his head to his foot
He as laughing so hard he never noticed the soot

Bundles of sweet buds there on top of his back
Just like a drug peddler carrying a big fucking sack
His eyes how they twinkled, and his dimples they sank
His cheeks red as roses but his stare was so stoned it was blank

His droll little mouth drawn up like a joke
His beard on his chin was snow white from good coke
The stump of a chamber pipe he clenched in his teeth
Second hand smoke circled my head like a wreath

He had a broad face and a middle aged belly
I aired my first grievance “Yo Santa you’re smelly”
He was also too chubby quite a right fat old elf
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head
He rolled a sweet fatty he bought from a dread
He spoke not a word but played his big role
In the middle of the room placed an aluminum pole

With a feat of strength placed a finger to his nose
An sniffed up more coke through a dollar bill hose
His grievances he aired till his team blew the whistle
And feats of great strength had broken the thistle
But I heard him exclaim the aluminum pole out of sight
Happy Festivus to all, and to all a good night

Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate but take time to love. If someone says Merry Christmas say thanks, if someone says Happy Hanukkah say thanks, if someone says Happy Kwanzaa say thanks or if they want to honor all and say Happy Holidays say thanks. Be grateful anyone is willing to share good tidings or acknowledge your well being in anyway be grateful because the message is the same…. Live and Love in Peace during this and every other season!!!! Don’t hold onto love, share it….

WHAT IF

 

A metaphoric chance meeting
A cliché reuniting yesterdays love
Two hearts that once beat together
Cashing in on one of fates offers
After thousands of unshared sunsets
So many that came and went unnoticed
Now two proverbial ships clash
I saw my childhood love by chance
We began to share our histories
So many years have passed yet…
Seems not a day of that on her face
What else but fate could have brought this
An opportunity to explore what if
What if we had shared our lives
What if we had never parted ways
What if we had lived our dreams
What if……

What if you stayed and we prayed and made the life we weighed instead of the charade we played which ended in a relationship delayed and decayed? What if you gave me one more chance and we expanded the romance and danced to enchantment, took a stance, one more ride on that promised moonbeam. Plans and schemes for a love supreme. That was our dream. However it seems this memory is just a fantasy because you see… We both have responsibilities to our spouses and our families so we must choose to let this be, nothing more than a wish unredeemed. Anyway who cares, what does it matter, what’s the diff. Then again…..what if
What if we had stayed together, built a happy life together. A house a home a picket fence, some kids some pets, no regrets living the suburbs and all the rest.
But then again what if we stayed the course affected by a dissonant force creating cheating and sexual discourse? Ending in a bitter divorce. Anger hatred bleeding sorrows terminating our tomorrows. Or not

That was then and we are here now
A night to share one magical chance
We shared a bottle of sweet memories
Numbing the pains that lost time brings
The familiar touch upon my hand
Eyes searching to find forbidden pleasure
Our lips begging for one more reverie
One last delusional trip to speculation
Anything is possible in a dream
And a door once left unlocked
May be stepped in from either side
Maybe if we both open up that door
We can be soothed hearing the echoes of love
Bouncing and tumbling or crumbling across time
The train whistles a warning of truth
We had both chosen out own fate
Its far too late

I can’t count the hours spent in distain, torturing myself with no self restraint. Pelting my mistake with drugs and with sorrow. Living in misgivings for giving up on tomorrow. Treated her shitty when life became gritty. I bathed in Self pity, moved to the city nearly drowned in my trance. Always thought I’d get one more chance, one more opportunity to show some romance. We both found a life, husband and wife and to ruin that now would cause nothing but strife. Cause it’s not just us two. There are children involved and our lives have evolved.. I felt broken hearted in waters uncharted because nothing gets finished if it doesn’t get started. But I’ll always wonder…
What if we had never parted

With a passionless kiss we said farewell
Best to leave it as old friends this night
What never really was can never be
Time seems to travel so damn fast
If you don’t pay attention so much goes unlived
I have negotiated too many wrong turns
And sometimes it seems it will never stop
I know that not to be true for I fear one thing
I am nearing it’s end so must listen to reason
Reason tell me a love lost is gone forever
But I choose not to listen to reason
You never lose what you hold in your heart
I have been through too many rotations
Seen things on this earth not possible
Yet somehow negotiated through blind faith
So I shall close my eyes and believe in one thought
Anything is possible
What if

Live and Love in Peace