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I wanted an autopsy done on my father. That didn’t happen. According to my old singing teacher whose husband worked in the FBI, if there is a death in the house when no one is at home, it’s the law to have an autopsy. Everyone including paramedics and the town police assumed it was heart related. I know he was having pains in his legs and started taking medication for it. It could have been a mix of meds, it could have been an aneurysm, it could have been a blood clot in his leg that spread, the stent could have closed, or it could have been something else. The very last time my father was in the hospital he had a blood transfusion. He told us the doctors said he needed iron tablets. A blood transfusion for a heart patient? I still don’t believe it to this day. I think everyone thinks I am a ball full of nerves and there was more to this story that I wasn’t privy too. The funny thing is everyone is so wrong. Especially these days. It honestly annoys me sometimes when people think they know me when they really don’t. When someone starts spending 24/7 with me like my husband does or if someone has been friends with me as long as some people in my life have, then you have the right to say you know me. Until then, you don’t anything about me.

In my father’s will he specified he didn’t want a viewing or funeral. He just wanted to be cremated. I think he didn’t want his family to have to emotionally suffer. His wishes weren’t honored. Our family was talked into a memorial service and private family only viewing in Ridgewood. Each one week after another. This whole thing lasted two weeks between the viewing and the memorial. The day of the viewing my brothers and I wore our Giants jerseys for our dad. He was in a coffin with a Giants t-shirt and sweats. Makes me laugh.  We always joked that we wanted to be buried in our Giants jerseys. That was one of the hardest things in my life I have ever had to see.

Sons and daughters of my father’s friends came to the memorial service the following week with posters and sayings my father said. My father coached football so all his old players came. Someone made a photo collage on their computer. Others made poster board collages of pictures of my dad. Some were with his friends, some with me, some with my brothers, some with my stepmother, and some with my husband and I. Replaying over and over again on the computer collage was I Will Remember You by Sara McLaughlin. That killed me. I was hysterically crying. As the night went on, there was a line out the door and around the block of people coming to pay their respects to my father and the family. It was incredible. I couldn’t believe the outpour of people and love.

I just wanted all this to be over. I still had the Praxis exam to take in March. My husband and I still had the bankruptcy to deal with. How was I going to handle all of this when I just lost my father? This was still a shock to my system. It’s still a shock even to this day. As the days followed, I said after losing a parent, how much worse does it get. From now on, everything was going to be weighed on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being my father dying. And so continued the domino effect.

Two weeks later my pet bird who was still having a little bit of trouble after being seen by the vet months ago didn’t seem right. When we were getting ready to go to bed, she was able to climb to the top of her cage to what we called her “sleep cup.” We covered her and went to bed. The next morning when we woke up, our bird heard us. To get us to uncover her, she always played what my husband and I called “bat bird.” She would flip herself over and flap her wings real hard. I was happy to see she was able to do that after the symptoms she was showing the night before. I uncovered her and when she flipped herself back up on her cup, she was teetering back and forth. I put my finger in the cage. She hopped up on it. The minute I had her out, she collapsed and died in my hand. She wanted her mother. She wanted me to be there. It was heart wrenching. First I lost my job. Next bankruptcy was decided, then my father died, and two weeks later my bird died in my hand. I thought for sure I was being cursed. Someone was giving me the evil eye. What else could it have been? Why was this happening to me? What did I do? Was this punishment for being greedy and having to have a business and wanting money? I had no answers. I honestly didn’t know how much more I could take. I should have read this prayer over again back then:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

I think my faith may have been being tested.

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After that phone call I was beyond livid. We went back up to the bank. I started raising my voice to “Barbara” and telling her what the Assistant Director of the SBA said. It was one of those “Uh Uh” moments. She reverted back to how the business isnt making any money. At that point, all I heard was noise – think of the teacher voice on Charlie Brown. That was a dead end obvioulsy.

Months passed and our financial situation got worse. We got a phone call from our realtor. She told us she had a local woman interested in the gym and wanted to know if I could drop her off an extra key and some paperwork. Unlike “Kevin” I  provided a REAL member number list. A little background on this prospective buyer – Think Jersey Shore (tv show) looking with a British accent, what guys would call a “bangin bod,” long nails polished, a lot of makeup, VERY rich and possibly an entire bottle of perfume.  We will call her “Lizzy.” Early on our attorney called her a “tire kicker” and that is exactly what she turned out to be. She kept us on the hook for nine months. Every phone call, whether we spoke to her or her husband, they wanted more and more information and more time. The last phone call we received from them they wanted us to wait longer because they wanted to refinance their house to get extra money for the purchase. Can you even believe it? People this is my life. You can’t make this up. WHY ME? She told us they needed two months and that they wanted us to hold membership steady at the number it was at which at that point I think was about 185 members. We held steady for the two months and never heard from them. Membership started declining even more again due to members losing their jobs or what have you. When we called to get a status update and told her we had the membership steady for two months and never heard from her and how membership declined more, there was dead silence on the other end of the phone. After the silence, she again asked us to wait longer. We gave her a deadline and said if we didn’t hear from her we would have to shut the gym down because we just couldn’t do it on our end anymore.

In addition to the stress of a failing business and a strained marriage, my father was in and out of the hospital from a heart attack, additional chest pains, getting a stent put in, and bleeding. Could it possibly have gotten any worse? It did. I had a pet cockatiel for 14 years. She fell off her perch and started twitching her head. We took her to the vet and the poor bird was a nervous wreck shaking. Not sure if you know anything about cockateils but they get very attached to their owners and don’t like being in strange places. The vet gave us antibiotics that had to be administered with an eye dropper like tool. I hate vets. No offense to any out there. It’s just I have friends that have many animals and every time they took their pets to vets, it wasn’t long after that the pets passed away. My bird was never 100% again but she was ok for a while.

“Lizzy”, my father, and my bird situations happened from the end of 2007 on through almost the end of 2008. Again I said it couldn’t get any worse. Yet another domino fell. On Novemebr 15, 2008 I received a phone call from my full-time job telling me they were laying people off due to the lack of work because of the floundering economy. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is happening again NOW?  While I was still working for the company, our department was taken over by a young woman, who honestly had no clue about what we did in this specific aspect. My old boss got a promotion and went to another department. A few times this new woman suggested stuff and it was like “uh yeah we already were doing that.” Anyone that is a woman and works for a woman knows how catty some of them can be especially if they feel threatened because you actually know more than they do and they are supposed to be the boss. In any case, I was once again being layed off in the midst of a failing business. Thank God for unemployment. It was at that time my husband and I had a long talk and said we had enough. That’s when we decided we weren’t waiting for the tire kicker anymore and to now more than ever get control over this.

On the same day I lost my job, I registered for the Praxis II Exam to become an English Teacher. My test was scheduled for a Saturday in March 2009. Years ago when I wasn’t really into the profession I took the test twice because I was working at the first company in another department where I was getting up at 3 a.m. and I needed to get out because it was killing me.  The two times I took the test I didn’t get the score I needed. When I took the test the first two times, I was still at that “I deserve- wooo is me” phase so I really didn’t care if I passed it or not.