O.J. Simpson and Lilies

Feb 20, 2015 by

O.J. Simpson and Lilies

Who remembers the O.J. Simpson murder trial? In case you forgot, O.J. Simpson (a famous NFL running back from 1969-1979) was charged with the grisly murders of his ex-wife Nicole and a male friend in June of 1994. When it came time to turn himself in to police, O.J. fled in a white Ford Bronco. The media picked up the story, and viewers worldwide watched live as O.J. and his white Ford Bronco led authorities on a two hour chase up the California highway. Three hours later, he surrendered to police. O.J.’s trial was broadcast live on Court TV. After 134 days of courtroom theatrics, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty. O.J. was a free man.

ojsimpsonAt the time of O.J.’s trial, my sister Mary Lee was dying of cancer.  The last time I saw her, she was in the hospital. The two of us spent an hour together chatting about our childhood, our parents, and other things too ~ including O.J. Simpson. His trial was playing out on national TV, and we spent some moments discussing whether he was innocent or guilty. After Mary Lee died, one of my first thoughts was, “Now she knows if O.J. really did it or not.”

Odd, isn’t it, the things that ramble around in our heads when we’re dealing with grief. I think in a way, those odd thoughts are meant to protect us. Our emotions can only process so much. And since we’re only human, we can’t control the random thoughts swirling through our heads at the most inappropriate times.

My mother is dying. She just celebrated her 92nd birthday, and I hope, hope, hope she will live to see her 93rd. But in my heart, I know that’s not going to happen. She’s quickly losing her fight with inflammatory breast cancer, and things are going to end on an ugly note. Meanwhile, I’m finding it difficult to focus. Part of me is already planning her funeral, and another part of me is hanging on to hope. I’m trying to concentrate on the little things. Things like, swimming laps at the pool. Making sure my car’s tank is filled with gas. And keeping the refrigerator stocked with groceries.

Stargazer Lilies

Including ham. In the beginning of my latest novel, The Other Wife, Eleanor has just buried her husband. The funeral is over, and Eleanor and her family are in a serious discussion over her husband’s assets. But Eleanor’s not worried about financial responsibilities. All she can think about is the leftover ham from the funeral luncheon that’s taking up space in her refrigerator… and those horrid stargazer lilies with their thick cloying stench spread throughout her house. Eleanor’s mind isn’t cooperating. Those stargazer lilies and ham are Eleanor’s ‘O.J.’, protecting her from the harsh reality of what she has to face.

I know what the harsh reality is going to be for our family in the weeks and months ahead. And I pray for the courage and strength to face it.

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4 Comments

  1. Jen Tucker

    Kathleen, thank you for this. I’m so sorry your mom is slipping away as you fight to keep her here. You know I totally get that juxtaposition of life. And I agree. Emotions and our mind protect us when all feels overwhelming. I’m thinking of you and sending you the biggest hug of them all. ️Xoxo Jen

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      God bless you, Jen, and your dad and your family too. Hugs (and prayers) are so much appreciated. xxoo Kathleen (whose mother just phoned to tell her that hospice has now been called).

  2. Cancer sucks. It’s so true that our minds do all kinds of acrobatics to distract us in stressful, sad times. These thoughts are a blessing and a curse. “How can I possibly care about [fill in the blank] when someone I love so much is living out his or her last days in this life?” I like to think of it, though, as God’s way of saying, “These thoughts are part of life, which is going to continue for you.” Hugs and prayers, Kathleen. XO

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      Miss Brea, I take a HUGE comfort in the fact that my mother is blessed with a deep faith in God, and with support from her family and good friends. And I am blessed in your friendship. Thank you for being there. Keep those prayers coming. Please. Keep. Praying. xxoo ~ Kathleen