Someone who has watched me play at Kulak’s Woodshed shared this sketch with me on Facebook. Is that what I look like when I play? I guess it is, because many people have told me it looks just like me. Of course, my eyes are closed – but I often did that before I had dry eyes.

Someone watching me play at Kulak’s Woodshed posted this sketch on Facebook. Is that what I look like when I play? I guess it is, because many people have told me it looks just like me.

“When music turned to noise”

It was easy for me to understand why I couldn’t finalize a vocal song. There was always something; usually it was a loud or sibilant syllable, or my vocal was too loud or soft in parts of the song. I had to remix many of the arrangements because some of the tracks had electronic noise on them. The hiss, hum and clicking was loud enough to be heard, though most people might never have noticed it.

For over a month, I spent a lot of time mixing music. I was ready to be done with it. But not ready enough because I kept adjusting things. This was definitely not fun.

Hearing my song “Music Saved Me,” was a reminder of how thrilled I was when the noise in my life turned to music. I decided that now my music had turned to noise because it was no longer enchanting.

Link to my story about noise turning to music: MUSIC SAVED ME-PART 1

As an artist there were many times when illustrating was tedious. Cutting frisket and spending countless hours on tiny areas of a painting were something I accepted as part of the process.

I felt certain that reaching the moment of finalization would definitely free me, just as finishing a painting was a celebration.

My insight was that although music perhaps “saved me” in many ways, love was truly my savior. Music represented my passion and that was the reason I was working so hard at it. I loved the result.

But the true love in my life will always be my children.

This is an example of a painting where I started over. My reason? The paper was fibrous and the watercolor washes weren’t smooth enough. I’m amazed I did that.

This is an example of a painting where I started over. My reason? The paper was fibrous and the watercolor washes weren’t smooth enough. Looking at it now, I’m amazed I did that.

The feelings that inspired me to write my most recent song “Someone To Love You,” continue to reverberate throughout my life. The title of this post is from that song.

Link to Song Page for other stories, performance and recordings: SOMEONE TO LOVE YOU.

I haven’t written anything of a personal nature in awhile, and will tread lightly here because I do want to share about my current life. I have to balance my honesty without revealing too many personal details that might upset my children.

My ex-husband retired a few months ago and drove to a new home he purchased in Acapulco, Mexico. My oldest son (25) helped him to pack up all of his belongings and originally planned to drive with him. I was concerned about the dangers of driving in Mexico, and made a deal with him to fly there to meet his dad instead.

My son planned to stay for seven weeks and he put his life on hold for this trip. A few weeks after his dad moved, he flew there to help his dad get settled.

Over the next seven weeks, my son “Skyped” with me on a few occasions. With his laptop in hand – he showed me the ocean views through the windows of his father’s new place. Other than sweating from the heat and humidity, he looked happy.

Two weeks ago, he returned. I went to pick him up; it was late in the evening and I brought along a heavy jacket for him. Just as I expected, he was wearing only a T-shirt and flip-flops.

I grabbed him and hugged him tightly – I was so happy that he was home safe.

Now that his father had moved away, things were definitely going to be different for him. He wouldn’t be living in two places anymore.

I have fond memories of watching my oldest son play on his high school baseball team. My mother usually came along with me.

I have fond memories of watching my oldest son play on his high school baseball team. My mother usually came along with me.

While my oldest son was gone, I was busy with my youngest son. Our apartment was within walking distance of the community college he attended. It was his first year of college and he was doing well.

Over the summer, my youngest son began learning to drive with me. There were a few scary moments and I can honestly say we were “lucky” to have emerged unscathed. I decided that all of it was good experience for my son, and a testament to my courage. The cost of his insurance was astronomical for a good reason.

For a long time, my youngest son was upset that he was learning to drive “late.” He told me that it was unfair how the divorce affected him (unlike his siblings) in many ways. At the age of 19, he felt he should have been driving much sooner.

I listened to his complaints but reminded him how I had taken this on alone; I was doing the best I could for him. We reached an understanding, as we often did. That was because both of us expressed our feelings, something that was completely different from the way things were in my “former life.”

I am grateful my two sons are very close. They live with me and are 19 and 25. Rosa (whom I’ve know for 26 years) is close with all of my children and visits us every week.

I am grateful my two sons are very close. They live with me and are 19 and 25. Rosa (whom I’ve know for 26 years) is close with all of my children and visits us every week.

My youngest son asked me if I could give him a lift to his night class. It was less than half a mile away and walking there would have been good exercise for him, but I always caved him when he asked me for a ride.

I dropped him off and decided it was time for me to go shopping again; I had two sons with big appetites. It would also be an opportunity for me to check some songs while driving to the nearby store.

As I filled up my shopping cart, I rubbed my stomach – I just didn’t feel quite right. Suddenly, my head began buzzing. I tried to ignore it, but the noise was overpowering and I felt sick.

I barely made it to the restroom and hoped the queasiness would pass. I left the restroom and immediately went to the checkout line. I held onto the counter and wondered if anyone noticed that I was gripping it tightly. I felt faint.

With my head down, I pushed the shopping cart slowly toward my car. I took deep breaths and quickly stacked the full shopping bags into the backseat. My heart was pounding as I sat down behind the wheel. I clutched an empty plastic bag I had taken from my trunk.

I called my oldest son and was thankful when he answered. I said, “Honey, I’m sick and when I get home I’m going to just run into the house – you’ll need to carry in all the groceries.”

My son asked me if I wanted him to come get me instead. I told him I’d be okay; it was only a five-minute drive.

I opened the window and the fresh air helped as I drove home. I parked, called my son and then made a dash to the bathroom in my apartment.

It was a horrible night. I hadn’t been sick with food poisoning like this for over twenty years. I had a tremendous resistance to throwing up (note, my Ayahuasca experience), but this was too much. When I did throw up around midnight, it was a relief.

I was so glad I hadn’t made a mess. In my younger life, I wasn’t very good at keeping things clean when I threw up. But my mother and father never complained.

I felt feverish, but much better after I’d thrown up. I went into the kitchen to look for a thermometer and saw all the bags of groceries there that my son had brought in. Unfortunately, nothing had been put away. I shook my head but realized I had only asked him to bring them in. I put the milk in the fridge with a few other items. And then I was dizzy and had to lie down again.

By three a.m., I was shivering and exhausted. I took small sips of water and my stomach was churning. I could feel the noise in my head getting louder. I decided to call a 24-hour nurse advice line and was told I should go to the ER right away to be treated for dehydration.

I knocked on my oldest son’s door and told him I needed to go to the ER. He bolted awake, grabbed his keys, put his shoes on and off we went.

I received excellent care at the ER. Within 30 minutes, I had an IV dripping medicine and two bags of saline in my veins. I was amazed how much better I felt, but was still extremely weak and sore when I was released two hours later. I hoped I’d get my strength back soon.

The following evening, my daughter visited. Rosa had planned to come that night, but she called me and said the stomach flu was going through her house, too. I hadn’t seen her in over a week, so it was unrelated.

Hard to believe they were that little once.

Hard to believe they were that little once.

My three children were hungry. It seemed easiest to just take them out to dinner. They all got along so well; that was something they hadn’t done in my “former life.”

I could barely eat, but enjoyed being with them so much. My eyes were definitely terrible since my stomach virus; obviously dehydration would affect dry eyes. But my spirit was strong and seeing my kids laughing and appreciating me lifted me up.

My 22-year-old daughter was especially excited because she was leaving soon on a trip across the world. It was only for two weeks, but it was supposedly a “life-changing” experience. I grinned thinking of my recent lyrics that I wrote in her honor: “As you travel to places you’ve never been . . . “

I went shopping with my daughter to buy her a nice jacket for her trip. I was so happy when she found one she loved. She asked me to take this picture of her when we took a walk last week.

I went shopping with my daughter to buy her a nice jacket for her trip. I was so happy when she found one she loved. She asked me to take this picture of her when we took a walk last week.

My stomach still hurt but I was much better. My daughter left and I said goodnight to my two sons. I went to bed and felt peaceful. At midnight, there was a knock on my door. It was my oldest son. He said, “Mom, I think I caught it from you – I’m pretty sick.”

I was unable to sleep that night as I ran to bring him clean plastic bags and then carried out the “used ones.” My son was worse than I was – he vomited over and over again. He was very thirsty and kept drinking water that he couldn’t hold down.

I could see that he was clearly dehydrated. I tried to convince him to go to the ER but he wanted to wait.

By 6 a.m., neither of us had slept that night and finally he called to me and said weakly, “I think I’d better go with you to ER.”

It was strange being there again, such a reversal from two days before! We received a visit from the same nurse who had treated me; he said he saw my son’s name on the board and had to come see us.

It seemed like the ER was busier than when I had come. My son was clearly in a lot of pain as he waited a long time for someone to put in an IV. He was shivering as he told me of his fantasies – things he would give anything to drink at that moment; iced peach tea was his favorite.

Then he said sweetly, “Mom, would you mind holding my hand?”

I was so touched by his request. I reached over and said softly, “Honey, you know I wrote a song while you were gone. My song says that I want someone to love you the way that I do. Do you want to hear all the lyrics?”

He smiled and said, “No, thanks. Maybe another time, mom.”

I watched the IV drip in and could see him perking up. It was miraculous.

No more candy for me on the paleo regimen. I painted this for my portfolio in 1983.

No more candy for me on the paleo regimen. I painted this for my portfolio in 1983.

Following a new diet regimen wasn’t possible while I was recovering. I chewed on toast and was amazed how the week before I had only eaten protein and veggies; now I was eating only carbs. But it was temporary and I was determined to get back on the paleo diet more strictly in order to see if it would help my dry eye condition.

It seemed like it would be a miracle if my other two children avoided this stomach bug. My youngest son came home two days later complaining that his stomach hurt and he had a headache. I was ready. My kitchen had a full arsenal of Gatorade, crackers and toast. And the ER had given me a prescription for some anti-nausea tablets.

My daughter was leaving for her trip in a few days. She was nervous, but thankfully, had no symptoms. She had only visited that one night for dinner and because she didn’t live with me – she was far less exposed than my two sons.

My youngest son was fortunate; he ended up having a much milder case and never threw up. He drank up the Gatorade and took the medicine whenever he felt queasy. It worked!

I was glad he was feeling a little better. It was Monday and he had a 1 p.m. appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles to take his driving test. It was a big day.

We left after lunch. My eyes were half-closed and I was still weak. I wondered if he would actually pass; he was much better but not quite his usual cheerful self.

When he asked me if I knew the address for the DMV and told me he’d be very upset if I didn’t get him there on time, I snapped back at him that he didn’t need to say that to me.

He waited in line for his paperwork and then we both went back to the car to get into the exam line. When his examiner came over to our car, I quickly got out. I stood for a moment and then the man said, “Ma’am, can you please leave us? It’s best.”

I was embarrassed. I hadn’t meant to look like I was hovering. I decided to just sit on a bench outside.

The sunshine felt nice. I didn’t even feel like checking any songs. I closed my eyes and waited with anticipation. I remembered my father telling me a story about how he took my mother for her driving test.

Every time he told me that story, my father had a huge grin. He said, “One day, I just surprised her and took her to the DMV. If she knew it were planned, she would have been so much more nervous!”

Of course, my mother passed and my father said he was proud of her.

My phone buzzed and my son’s message was, “Mom, I’m parked in front – come to your car!”

I jumped up and walked briskly toward the other side of the building. I squinted in the sunlight and could see my son sitting in my car holding papers. As I came closer, I could see his eyes were sparkling brightly and his smile was huge. I felt like dancing at that moment.

“Mom!!! I’m a licensed driver – I passed!!!”

Boy and the beach

© Judy Unger and 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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11 Responses to YOUR SWEET SMILE

  1. Carol Cross says:

    Love the drawing of you.
    Wow!! What a time you have had lately. Hope everyone on the mend. You have beautiful children. Congratulations to your son on getting his license. Big milestone. Thanks so much for sharing your art, music, family and insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your story again! Love, Sharon G.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      So nice to hear from you, Sharon! You remind me why I love sharing my story. Thank you for your unending love and support. You’ve followed my journey a long time now and have practically watched my children grow up. Hope all is well with you and your family.


  3. Norman Goodman says:

    Jude that was beautifully written. I love the part where he passed his test and can’t wait to hear about her trip!



    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thanks, Norm! They don’t know that I wrote this – I was a bit hesitant to mention some of those details like the groceries weren’t put away or when he asked me to hold his hand! Yes, it is a huge thing and now I’m going to see if I can find him a car so I can save mine and also get cheaper insurance. I was worried all of that stuff was boring to read, but I’m so lucky I have such a wonderful brother who can read between the lines and loves his niece and nephews. Glad I could share! I love you, Norm.


  4. Nice to read this. I like the pictures in the post. They look nice.


  5. just a quick comment:) first i so admire your relationships with your children. you are an admirable woman in so many ways! second, just being the first to have symptoms doesn’t mean you were the original carrier. often the virus is carried by someone who never even gets sick they just pass it around:)


    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, Sandra. Didn’t realize that. Still am not sure if it was food poisoning or a virus – but thankfully I’m fine now. Thanks for appreciating my closeness with my kids. They are my light and love. Love hearing from you always.

      Liked by 1 person

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