My Tangled Web


“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive”

 - Sir Walter Scott

My web of deceit began innocently enough...

I was attending "Stained Glass for Beginners" when during class introductions, I learned that another student worked for the same company as my brother, Vic. 

Vic is a hoot, has never met a stranger and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't just love him, so I asked my new partner-in-crime acquaintance if she knew him. "Oh, my God! Vic is my friend! You're his sister!?"she excitedly responded. Beaming with pride, I smiled broadly as I told her that in fact, I was. 

The wheels began turning. 


She seemed like a pleasant enough person and I assumed she would have to have some sort of a sense of humor in order to call Vic "a friend" so as I was passing in front of her with a shard of glass in my hand, I had my "aha moment"...


"I've got a great idea!" I said to her, unprovoked. "Let's get Vic". A devious grin fell on her face and I knew she was 'in'. "OK. When you go to work tomorrow, wrap your arm in a bandage. When you see Vic, tell him that "some idiot in kitten heels tripped and cut you during your Stained Glass class. I'll take care of the rest." Giggling like schoolgirls we exchanged contact information.


She emailed me the next day saying it was his day off but that she would try again tomorrow.

Later that day, I called him at home and told him about a terrible thing that happened during my first Stained Glass class..."Well, we had just finished cutting our first piece of glass when I turned around and accidentally cut the lady behind me!" His exact response? "You have got to be shitting me!".  I assured him that I looked at the wound and it didn't need stitches but I was wondering if I should get her a card or something. "How about a bouquet of flowers? Shit Joanie, what were you doing cutting glass anyway?" he asked incredulously.

Yes, I am the first one to admit that I am somewhat accident prone. That being said made this little web of lies even more believable.  



Vic called me first thing the next morning and told me that a friend of his had been cut "by some lady in a Stained Glass class". "Jesus, Joanie, was that you?" After a detailed description, I admitted that she could have been one and the same adding, "But I don't think there are a whole lot of Stained Glass classes going on out there, so I guess it must have been me." 


My co-conspirator emailed me immediately after he approached her with... "I think the idiot who cut you is my sister..." She just couldn't continue the charade, removed her 'bandage' and 'fessed up. 

He took it well.

Free Advice: On Death


 Death, the final frontier.

There you have it. There's not a whole-helluva-lot you can do about it though. As adults, we are acutely aware that death is a very real part of life - the finality of it all is incomparable to anything we will ever experience. There is no going back. No "do-overs". It is what it is.
I am no expert on death and dying but I do have a fair amount of 'hands-on' experience in this area that has come, in part, from being a Critical Care/ER Nurse but sadly, I've held more than one hand of a friend and family member at the moment of their last breath on earth. I've learned that death can be orchestrated into an intimate, beautiful and loving journey in life.

Yes, I've been a feverish participant during traumatic, no-holds-barred, heroic attempts of resuscitation. People who were too young to die and had so much to live for. Children, are most difficult. Enough about that for now. Today's post is not about them.

Today's post is about the countless whose lives came to an end despite the technology, medications, surgeries, complications and care we in health-care have provided to them. Today's post is about those who have lived a long healthy life and/or a short one of pain and suffering. Although, not at all scientific, this is what I've learned...
  • The people who are closest to you right now will most likely be with you at the time of your death.Let them know how feel about end of life issues. Mr. Something wants to be told "Hey! Everything is looking good!" and as difficult as it may be for me, I will honor his request.
  • If you find yourself to be assisting someone on their journey of illness, chances are they chose you to be there. 
  • If you find yourself at the bedside of someone as they take their last breath, chances are they chose you to be there.
  • If you are not around someone when they die, chances are they needed you not to be there.
  • There are far worse things in life than death - but, that's a whole other list.
  • Strangely, people may choose to die alone or when that certain someone who is having the most difficulty with their loss leaves the room. How many family members have said to me (upon hearing the news of their loved ones death) "But I just left to get a cup of coffee!".
  • If you can, think about telling your loved one that you will miss them. Let them know that when it is time to go, you wish them peace and assure them that you will be strong and/or will help others through it.
  • Thank your loved one for their impact on your life. I thanked my dad for helping to put me through nursing school. A sacred profession. I know how proud he was. Did he hear me? Who knows? It doesn't matter. The process of dying is a process for the living as well.
  • Sometimes, people will wait to die until someone they have not seen in a long time arrives at their bedside.
  • Grief is natural. Give yourself time to cry. Avoid drugs. They could delay the inevitable and you might just find your delayed grief rearing itself at a most inopportune time.Two months after my brother died. I couldn't stop crying. Was it the Ativan that "held me together" during and immediately after his death?
  • "Wakes" are a good thing. Everyone gathers at the home of the departed family member following the service. They eat, drink, swap stories, cry and laugh. Royally pissed-off at the thought of having a party after the tragic death of Susan, (my 25 year old sister-in-law), my wise Aunt Marie said ”Joanie, I have wakes to help people get beyond their grief and this party gives everyone permission to laugh again. Life goes on and know that Susan will forever remain in your heart but it’s time to get back with the living.”
  • Sometimes "ritual" can help with the journey. A few days before the death of my dear friend, Rob, I arranged to have his hair cut (he was all about looking good). I requested that locks of his hair be saved for me. Tying them with ribbon, and placing them in small photo note cards for his family and closest friends, my memento of Rob remains treasured today..

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...