Saturday, July 31, 2010

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Today, July 31, 2010 records a distinguished chapter in our family history. My son is being hooded in a grand summer ceremony in Stegeman Coliseum at UGA. David receives his PHD in Bio Chemistry and  Molecular Biology. 
The first chapter was written into my book the day he came into the world.  After hours and hours of natural labor and well into transition, I wondered if Lamaze was a man, because right about then, I wanted to take his bottom lip, stretch it over his skull, give him an epimysiotomy, and watch his head pop out. 

Finally, my little prince was crowned and out he came, all boy! The rest is history. Now, he stands well above me. But, when I look into his eyes, I see the little boy that stood before me on his first day of school, surrounded by the young man on his way to a bright and promising future. And this is what I want to say to him.

Dear David,
The day you were born I felt like I was given the greatest gift on earth.  When we were alone, I cradled you in my arms and gently unwrapped you from the blue hospital blanket. I counted your fingers and your toes touching each one as I numbered them. And then, I lifted you up and dedicated your life to God asking that you would do great things, and you have.

The day you left for kindergarten and college felt the same for me; pride mixed with sorrow. I kept thinking to myself. "My little boy is  growing up. He is starting school. He is taking his first steps to making  his own way in the world. Will he be kept safe? What can I say to him to assure he is prepared?" But, the only words I could force past the ache of letting you go, was "I love you." 

Up to that moment in kindergarten, I held your heart. Until one morning you left for school  wanting to bring Mrs. Margis flowers from our back yard. I knew then you had given  away a tiny piece of your heart, and bigger pieces would be given away later. I am so glad the bigger piece now belongs to Fabi. She is wonderful!

The day you left for college, mini videos flooded my mind; your first steps, birthdays, dinosaurs and legos, gardens and trees, your famous words, "Mom, I have three things...", and a scrapbook filled with certificates for the best. I suddenly felt terribly inept. I held your lifetime in my heart for that moment. But you were always competent and independent in your knowledge, and I was insecure and like a glass, half empty of what I could give to you.

The pride I feel for you is so overwhelming I can barely contain it. Tears are my only outlet. Tears for the minutes I mused over you, and the minutes I missed. I hear your voice say, "Mom, it's ok. Don't worry about it." Yet, I find myself wanting to confess to you my imperfections, explain away my inadequacies, and apologize for my parental psychoneurosis; as if you have some giant eraser to wipe the board clean and exonerate me from all my mistakes. 

Today, you are the doctor in the house. Your list of achievements is long and I know will grow longer still. You amaze me, and fill me with pride. But the real value is not in what you have done or will do, but in the fact that you exist and I have the honor to call you my son. My wish is that all your wishes and dreams come true, and your concoctions make history.

Once again I find myself standing at a doorway thinking to myself, "My little boy has grown up. He has finished school. He is making the world a better place. What can I say to him?" The only words I can force past my tears are, "I'm so very proud of you and I love you!"


Monday, July 19, 2010

Party of 15 and the Red Light District

They say, you know you're a mom when private peeing goes out the window; tiny fingers pry open your sleeping eye while a small voice asks, "R-yo in 'dare?"; and you hear your own mother's voice coming out of your mouth. 

You know you're a grandmother when you hear, "I want gwamma to do it"; you trade loose change for a million dollars worth of hugs; and perfect love comes in smudgy feet and sticky fingers. My grandmother days started fifteen years ago. 
Yesterday, we celebrated my grandson's golden birthday. July 15, 1995 was his grand entrance, but as many birthdays go in our family we usually party on the closest Sunday. 

It seemed fitting that the weather was somewhere up of  90 degrees because the day Josh was born it was so hot the birds had to pick up their worms with potholders. I remember that day. One minute my daughter was helping me put in a window air conditioner with mouths so dry we salivated out our armpits, and the next we were off to the labor union and local delivery. 

Speaking of that wonderful gestation strong enough for a man but made for a woman, I do believe God has a sense of humor, since the only thing that shrinks in that nine months is your bladder, while boobs, butt, and baby enlarge. I often wonder about Eve in the garden. How many bushes did she have to water on her way to the fruit aisle?  

Theresa's labor was a lot like this blog. Straining, crying, pushing for it to get to the point. So, here it is. We had a birthdaylicious bash yesterday. The babies and other terrorists hijacked gramma's house and there's nothing more fun in the world than being held hostage for a family party of 15. 

We started out with a taco dip and swam 'til we were pruney, sipped sloppy ice-pops, milked the chocolate cow dry, had birthday cake in a tub, and did our crazy candid camera thing. But, what made the day was the red lights and district ambulance.

My hernia on hiatus made a surprise visit. Why it decided to show up yesterday is an esophageal mystery. But there it was; vomiting, boa type constricting, shortness of breath, and insurmountable pain. After forty minutes and feeling like I would be the death of the party we dialed 911. 

It must have been quite a sight. Eight people crammed in my bedroom, and me with my head in the toilet, gasping for breath and white knuckling the seat as if I'd go down with the next flush. But, like a mother in delivery I didn't care what I looked like or who was in the room. I just wanted the pain to go away. 

With vitals read, levels good, and attended to by three handsome paramedics in blue, I was back on my feet quicker than a jack rabbit in a stew pot. It was time for my gentleman callers to pack up and head back to the station in Husher.  

Husher, is a four corner, blink of an eye town consisting of a combined police and fire station, a town hall, a used car dealer, and Husher bar and grill. With the wee alehouse being just across the street from the fire station, many a firefighter has been known to stop for an off duty brew or taco Tuesday.

Being that the pub is just a half mile from our house, it also made a convenient place for my daughter to work a few years back.

So, before my rescuers left, paramedic #1 asked daughter #3 if they had met before. My daughter politely replied in the negative and #1 insisted. With a slip of the tongue he left out the all important "at" and said, "Yeah, didn't you use to work the corner?"  

We all looked at one another in sparkling shock and burst into side splitting laughter.  Of the two, I'm not sure who blushed brighter, my dazzling daughter or the radiant rescuer.  But it certainly made me feel in the pink on a golden birthday!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Monster's Ink

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up feeling like 'It' came sometime between twilight and dawn, and stole every once of your joy? This morning I dragged myself from my bed feeling like something colored my world with black ink and wondering what monsters will chase me down today. I summed it up like this.

Will the dog play duty on the floor, 
Or the cat tear the screen from the door? 
Will the horses get sick? 
Will I come in with a tick? 
Will the monsters increase more and more?  

Will the window's bad pane
Leak the thundering rain? 
Will the ceiling fan last
Til' the summer is past,
While those monsters sing their refrain?

Will the bills yell "Attention!" 
While I fail to mention 
The blue house is straining 
For a fresh coat of staining
With the monsters collecting their pension?

Will my kids need a favor
 While life holds no flavor? 
Will my washer never get fixed
And my dryer stay nixed
While those monsters make life even graver?

Will my spouse need a lift
When I've nothing to gift?
Will the bank fail to sanction
The loan modification
While those monsters are causing a rift?
But wait, there's a door
On this monster's work floor,
To help with life's riddles
It's crossed in the middle,
Where the monsters no longer keep score!

The flowers are all pink 
And the doorknob is zinc.
There is oh so much more
Just inside this great door.
And here there is no monster's ink!

Have a great day ya'll!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Olive Garden Rap, Broken Bronze, and Eight Eyes on a Sparrow

Once a year my three daughters and I make our little pilgrimage to Olive Garden. Ultimately, one of us, or all of us, come with roses in hand to meet as promised. The "Let's go out and be incredibly thankful that we are still together!" is our pledge, born out of the death of my daughter eight years ago and has been steadfastly kept. This year was a bit more challenging to keep that promise, but with a few adjustments to everyone's schedule we all met as planned.

The evening started out with a bit of an edge, as the hostess was not one with the most-est and refused to honor our special request for the corner booth. Her excuse was that there were no servers for that 'one'! Now friends, I can respect the fact that a whole area is closed with no wait staff. But, mind you, this was ONE booth in an area where five other booths were being served. It was time for the Mominator! Converging on the enemy with blossoms in tow and a bow of diplomacy, the bugaboo was exterminated. Feeling like I just won the war of the roses we moved to the booth we desired.

Tucked away in our shadowed, little corner of the world, we  munched a meal, mingled memories, lingered over laughs, and a downed a decanter of sangria. We included our server in our hilarious celebration. Afterward, he informed us that we were the talk of olive town as the four beautiful women seated at booth #whatever, and our lavish laughter was the entertainment for that section. We were rewarded with a free dessert and an after dinner show rapped by our server. No kidding folks! Our server rapped us a poem about death, life, and inspiration.

Feeling a little blushed but beautiful we left the olive behind and headed for the headstone at Westlawn. Arriving at our destination we discovered the plaque unkempt and the handle of the inverted vase broken off. We were all silent for a moment as a non-voiced violation passed between us. Not only because of broken bronze but at the unfairness of life, the cheat of death, and a host of other painful memories and emotions. 

Then with dogged determination we decided that this year while laying our roses to rest, it was time for Sharon to get back in on the family photos.


 We knelt in the wet grass. 

Joked about an empty wheelchair. 


Hugged a ghost and kissed a spirit. 



We laughed off our grief and in the end each of us knew we would continue to look up.

Walking back to our ride we noticed something small and speckled in the grass. Looking closer we discovered a baby sparrow. At first we thought he was injured, but when I reached down to touch him he fluttered away. We left brimming with belief and hallowed hope for the future when one of us exclaimed, "His eye is on the sparrow!"

                                        And I know He watches me!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Omen in Twin Tornadoes

Wednesday May  29 , 2002

I stood at the window mesmerized by the sight. Just moments before, blue was the pure color of a clear sky. Polka dot clouds intermittently speckled the expanse, and the birds of the air twittered their acappella chorus. Now, there was nothing but silence.

The cotton clouds morphed into cannon balls exchanging black fire. The sky turned to a cauldron of boiling vapors. Swirling violently, it mingled green and gray into a putrid stew. With fingers frozen to the pane, I watched the whirlwind dip and divide in the middle to form twin funnels. The ominous entity foretold a divine destiny.

I tried to yell, "Tornado!" but it barely whispered past the anxiety restricting my throat. Common sense told me to head for the basement of my mother-in-law's apartment. But the lioness in me, void of fear, said to go home and save my children!

The ungracious ring of a phone jerked me from my window wanderings momentarily distracting me from the dread I felt rising in my soul. My husband's mother answered it with a calm that belied the storm just outside her walls. I listened as she spoke to one of my children. Her words shocked me as she explained there was no need to be concerned or worried, they would be okay, it was only a windstorm.

Frantically, I bellowed, "Let me talk to them!" But she quietly placed the phone in it's cradle as if tucking in a sleeping baby. From somewhere there came a quiet consolation that settled in my heart. I had taught them what to do. They knew the way to safety.

Drawn from my thoughts, I heard the sound of unfamiliar voices behind me and I turned to find one end of the basement room filled with people from the apartment building. I sensed my husband's presence among the crowd but I could not see him. His mother was laying out trays of food and socializing with her neighbors, oblivious to the impending danger touching down in the west.

Like a magic act, my spouse was gone in a flash and my youngest daughter was standing in his place. Terror shot me into action. Knowing we would be safe on the opposite end of the basement I yanked her to my side and sprinted across the room.

The sound of the wind was deafening. Pressed against the wall I could feel the savage storm shaking the block and mortar fortress as it ravaged the landscape above. Peering across the twilight room I saw the blockade begin to swell and bulge like an ocean wave. The vertical air-tide threatened to rip in and take the wall out. 

Out of the roar of the storm came a voice. Strong in presence, yet gentle, He commanded me to raise my hands against the storm. I knew, even if I wanted to, I could not disobey. Out of awesome respect, and fear of being blown away, I did as I was commanded. Facing the opposing barrier, I raised my hands to the air as if bracing the wall.  A force stronger than the twin tornadoes floated between me and the block retainer. I watched in wonder as the wall moved in waves, in and out, while my hands passed along its length.

Then, there was a settling of the wind. The wall returned to normal. We were safe. But, the others were swept away with the mighty wind; sucked into oblivion by the swirling funnel. My heart felt like an anvil had been dropped onto it.

I awoke from my nightmarish sleep. But the weight upon my spirit was crushing and sorrowful. Without a shadow of doubt I knew the dream was an ominous prophecy. The twin tornadoes were two traumas in my life. The first, was the horrible circumstances of my daughter's birth that left her disabled. The second, I knew would be her death.

I felt my heart twist, and  pain was wrung from me like one would ring out a dishcloth. I did not know the time or the day, but I knew God was preparing me for a dark and disastrous storm. It was the beginning of the end. A lethal lesson in letting go.
Wednesday June 19,  2002

A slow grower and a late bloomer, my Rose of Sharon bush had already flowered for two seasons. A year earlier it had blossomed twice. But normally by this time there would have been buds or at best open blooms. I bent down and snapped off a twig. It was dead. From above me I heard someone utter, "It will not bloom again". I can not say for sure the voice I heard was audible, but there was no mistaking the hand I felt upon my shoulder. I straightened and spun around to see who touched me. There was no one there.

The familiar, crushing sorrow I felt when awaking from my dream 21 days earlier, pressed in. The confirmation drew the breath from me. My heart pounded within my chest like a jack hammer. And I knew.

Wednesday July 10, 2002

Sharon passed away at her home today. She was a graduate of Case High School, and went on to attend UW Parkside, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. She was a member of the Wisconsin Survival Coalition "People Can't Wait". She was an extremely talented artist who loved to paint and draw. She was a medical miracle and made history in medical textbooks.  She was stubborn, independent, a survivor, and  a rebel.

She was my daughter.

She is survived by her daughter, parents, brother, sisters, and grandmother. Somewhere, her unicorn collection lives on. Most of her friends have forgotten about her but she will remain in our hearts forever.

She loved to laugh so here's to you Sharon.

I know we didn't always see eye to eye :)

You might be a redneck wheelchair user if:
There is a Harley decal stuck to your chair.
You rig up a beer cooler to your chair battery.
You install surround sound to never be without your music.
You replace your seat with a Barcolounger, found on the side of the road.
You give roadkill a whole new meaning.
You try to outrun a police cruiser.

I love you and miss you, Brat!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ain't Nothin' a Little Duct Tape Can't Fix

It is  reinforced, adhesive, strong, multi-purpose, soft and flexible, water resistant and generally silver in color. Developed in 1942, duct tape has become the crux of jokes and hailed as a rescuer when its usage saved the lives of three astronauts aboard Apollo 13. It became famous in our family when the kids thought it was 'duck' tape...quack, quack.

Why is this silver savior the subject of my blog?   See pic :) 

Yes, that is duct tape holding the sweep to the door. It would be an easy and inexpensive task to buy a new sweep and simply replace the old. But, the 'money pit' is once again sucking me into its depths, "Wood's rotted, won't hold a screw." Voila! Duct tape, quack-quack.

Beside the fact that the door is 20 years old, it also has a jimmied jam from when I locked myself out, lightly dressed, on the coldest day in history! And, remembered I gave my only spare key to one of my kids. It was a toss up, a cracked jam or a sawz-all hole in the wall. 

I know what you're thinking. You might be a redneck's broke, fix it with duct tape. I hope I don't have to live with this for long. But, to be honest, we just don't have the resources right now to buy a new patio door, and truth be told, I am feeling a little back woods.

Well, after a few other dips in the money pit, a full box of kleenex, and a money pit-ty party, complete with balloons and noise makers, I have decided to pull my sense of humor over my rags and have a good time with this.

Duct tape really is a stick to it cure for what ails ya. Take a look.

My hubby, the carpet installer, came up with this one. When you're installing carpet, cut your finger, and have no band-aids. Duct tape, quack-quack! 

Money slipping through your fingers? Make it stick with this hi-ho silver beauty. Duct tape, quack-quack!

Need a quick centerpiece? No problem! A rose by any other name is still a rose. Duct tape, quack-quack!

How many men does it take to keep the toilet seat down? No one knows. Duct tape, quack-quack!

Butt!! We all know, crack kills. Saving the world, one crack at a time. Duct tape, quack-quack!

Life isn't always a loon, sometimes it's just a duck and that is when I want to STICK IT TO IT! 

Life is also about choices to adjust or self-destruct. So, if I have to walk through this red-neck of the woods, I am determined to enjoy the shade. I will hike along with my Duct Tape Rolls to Live By and place sticky ducts on everything I see to remind me to stick to it.

Duct tape roll #1: When life hands you duct tape, make roses!
That way when your buds of calm burst you can blossom into hysteria.

Duct tape roll #2: Shiny side up!
A frown is just a smile turned upside down. Stand on your head if you have to but look for the humor in every situation. It will kill time between disasters.

Duct tape roll #3: Stay flexible!
Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Duct tape roll #4: Be soft and strong!
God will accept your broken heart if you give Him all the pieces and in return He will give you strength to stick to the course.

Duct tape roll #5: Stick together!
Life is always way more fun if it's shared. I would love to hear some of your own duct tape rolls, or quacky stories. You can comment to me here or email me.

Ya'll pray for me now, ya hear?
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