Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why I'm not a fan of the holidays

I remember Daddy being sick during the early months of my last pregnancy. I remember having to leave the room when they did x-rays.  He'd been on a liquid diet for Thanksgiving and hated it.  He wanted a banana Popsicle (my sister can confirm if this was the actual banana Popsicle episode, he was so cute acting like a kid wanting to leave the hospital).
A week or so later there was the surgery that was suppose to be for Crohn's disease but surprise, surprise, it's cancer.  Doctor actually said "Good news it's not Chron's so he won't have a painful disease the rest of his life, bad news it's cancer and he'll be dead in six months". Seriously, He was a dick.  That Christmas was surreal with the idea of how much time he had left, what do we do, how do you fit a lifetime in a few months.  Dad did chemo and all that entails and six months later he was still with us and still going strong.  New babies were born into the family.  Life went on and we all pretended that the cancer was gone. 
The next Christmas we were all so happy that dad was still with us, that the cancer really was gone, that DR. Dick was an idiot.  Then New Years Eve came.  Dad announced that the cancer was back.  He'd known for a month.  He didn't want to ruin another Christmas.  I remember feeling shattered.  This time he was again given just a few months.  Again he did chemo and all the rounds of meds. 
Then June came and he decided to climb the back of a tractor to cut down some limbs.  He was critically injured when he fell and the tractor rolled over him.  He was suppose to be dead by Father's day.  His stubborn heart wouldn't quit beating and he left the hospital a month later.  But now we knew the cancer was everywhere and not going to stop.  Christmas came again and with it the knowledge that this was it.  He was so thin.  A walking skeleton.  But what a memory I have of our last meal together - Fried liver (fried pork chops for those sissies who didn't eat liver), biscuits, fried okra, and hand mashed potatoes.  It was a happy day.  I can close my eyes and see my daughter hug him goodbye, he had a smile on his face and tears in his eyes. A week later, he was in hospice care.  Time was over, but no one had told his heart.  Days were spent in that tiny room waiting, crying, agonizing over when he'd take his last breath.  I finally left.  I was done with waiting on death.  A few days after the beginning of the New Year his body finally figured out that his soul had left and his heart finally stopped.

This tale started nine years ago.  Nine years have past since I started be paranoid around the holidays.  And here we are again with the holiday season upon us.  Everyone getting ready to enjoy the Season of Good Cheer.  And my mother-in-law just called me asking me about "nodes" and "biopsies" and waiting on results of CAT scans and MRI's.  She has spots on her stomach and lungs and liver and so we are waiting for results of tests that haven't even happened yet.  I feel like we're all loading onto a roller coaster and I'm the only one who knows the track is broken and we're all gonna go right off the edge.  I've been on this ride before, I don't want to get on it again, and yet the crowd keeps pushing me forward.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Things that probably don't happen at your house . . .

A few months ago my husband had the wonderful idea that we need to raise some chickens. We started with six; one for each family member. Until one day our dog, Zoe, a Cocker spaniel, killed one. I had repeatedly told my children that this was very likely going to happen since Zoe is by nature a "bird dog" and if we didn't watch them well, she would do what she was bred to do. About a month later, the remaining chicks had gotten bigger and uglier and began to wander the yard more, a neighborhood dog came through and wiped out three of them. The children weren't as devastated by this loss; they were mostly mad at the dog (who subsequently was found to be part of a "wild" dog gang that was terrorizing the town and someone may or may not have shot it and/or cursed it with heart worms - either way we no longer see Rebel). Since it was just the remaining two, and no one could recognize their own chick anymore, I got to rename them. They are now known at Martha and Vera. For a while they would meander around the yard as a couple, chasing bugs and spying through windows, but then one day Martha decided she wanted a baby (Que dramatic music). We noticed that Martha was spending an awful lot of time in the big bushes at the rear of the house and seemed to be acting peculiar. One day, while the husband and I were enjoying some "adult" time together, we heard the children screaming outside about how something was wrong with Martha and they just knew she was going to die. I did the mad dash to get dressed and went running outside to discover that nope she was not close to death but instead she was just laying eggs - which was, by far, the most exciting thing my children have apparently every experienced in their life. There was much fan fare and fighting about who would be the first to collect these most precious gifts. Apparently, Martha had been working hard on these eggs for a while and had decided that they held life within their hard shells. This is when I decided Martha was crazy. We do NOT have a rooster and there isn't a wandering neighborhood cock that could have helped Martha create life. We took her eggs away and yet she still sat on the nest. Weeks and Weeks past and she just sat on her nest. The kids grew concerned and would take food and water deep into the bush for her because they just knew she'd die. Vera, during this time, was living it up as a single chick, learning to fetch sticks with the kids, sleeping on the gravel drive way, and watching TV through the back window. This past weekend I was pretty fed up with Martha's need for babies and I discussed how I would "break" her of her need to sit on imaginary eggs. My plan was to just move her into the chicken cage and make her stay in there until she stopped thinking she had chicks - (ya know, lock the crazy in the nut house). Well, apparently, she heard me and decided to take measures into her own hands. I guess she realized that those imaginary eggs just weren't gonna hatch and as such she was pushed past the brink of sanity. Like any good dime store psycho heroine who has had her chance at children snatched away from her, Martha started living fast and loose. She started hanging with a rough crowd. Literally. Several times this week we have found her IN the dog cage. That's right folks, Martha has gone so crazy she intentionally jumps out of the figurative frying pan and straight into the fire. She wanders all around their 8'x8' cage, eating their food, pooping on their house, and they don't touch her. The dogs must know it's not smart to poke crazy and they give her a wide berth. We decided to let the dogs and chickens run free in the yard together for a bit of exercise. I threw a tennis ball for Zoe - Martha chased after it. Seriously! I can't make this stuff up. Vera thinks she's a Ninja and Martha thinks she's a dog. Cat II watches all this from the back deck and is not impressed. And the ducks are just happy being ducks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Conversations around the table in the middle of nowhere . . .

This is just one of the many reasons I love my life; we have very educational and interesting dinner conversations.

After completing our customary "good thing / bad thing" around the table, my 5th grade son busted out with a "Did ya' know" about Hitler committing suicide instead of facing the consequences of his actions.  I commented on how he was really just a cowardly bully and that final act confirmed it.  Which led to the 1st grader needing to know the definition of coward.  But the boy brought us back to the topic of Hitler and how weird he was for wanting only blond haired, blue eyed people in the world when he in fact did not fit that bill.  The fourth grader had yet to learn about the horrors of Hitler so my son felt it was his duty to teach his sister about the real monsters of the world.  We discussed his hatred and killing of millions of Jews.  Which led us into a discussion on Judaism.  My son has always been fascinated by the Menorah (not sure if it's because of it's symbolism or because he's a boy and likes fire) and so we got on the discussion on how does one become a Jew.  I mentioned that if your mother is Jewish than you are considered Jewish as well.  The boy made the connection that if that's true then Mary must have been Jewish because Jesus was a Jew.  I said that's true but if you are a follower of Jesus then you are considered a Christian.  My daughter asked "so what do WE believe?" And that's when I explained that "WE" don't believe anything, it's all about what "YOU" believe.  Everyone gets to make that decision on their own.  No one can tell you what to believe.  I told her as you grow and learn about different religions and the beliefs of others then you get to decide what you believe. 
And that is when they realized there was only one slice of bacon left and the fights started. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Truer Words. . .

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”-  Elizabeth Stone
Truer words have never been spoken.  School started back today and I miss my babies.  I am not one of those mothers who rejoices when school is in session or when someone wants to take my child for the night.  It doesn't matter if it's just for a few hours or a short distance.  I always feel like a part of me is missing.  I bundle pieces of my heart up every morning and place them on the bus, I wave goodbye and walk back to the house - empty.  Scattered.  All day I find ways to keep myself busy slowly counting down the minutes until I can collect my bits and pieces again.  I stand at the end of the drive waiting, watching, straining to hear the sound of the bus coming up over the hill.  When the bus rolls up in the afternoon a weight is lifted off my chest; my babies are all home, my heart can start again.  I know it's a bit irrational but it seems that as long as I can see them, put my hands on them, they are safe, but the moment they wander out of sight I panic just a bit.  Something is just "off". 
Don't get me wrong, my children can also drive insane.  I want to hide in my room for a few moments of silence, but the silence that exists when they aren't around is deafening.  I enjoy them.  I need them around. I breathe easier when I can see them. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gonna be a busy, emotional, weekend.

  • Forever 52. If you were to ask my how old my mom is, I'd answer 52.  This is completely wrong.  She's actually 57.  She turned 57 months ago. But my father died almost 6 years ago and he had just turned 52.  In my mind no one can ever be older than he was when he died.  It means that life has moved on. That time has continued to flow past me.  They say time heals all wounds, this is a lie, the truth is we just use to our circumstances. We learn to live around our grief.  The wound is still there, it still hurts, we just get used to the pain.  Tomorrow, Dec. 16th,  would have been my father's 58th birthday.  I can only imagine what it would have been like to have him with us these last few years. 
  • Saturday my siblings and I will congregate at my mother's house to celebrate Christmas with the extended family, but afterward we will be having what we affectionately call "The Last Supper."  Just weeks before dad lost his fight with cancer, we celebrated Christmas with him.  He was in surprising good spirits, that may have been due to the amount of morphine he was on or the universe knew that we were losing him soon so let us have this one day of laughter.  Whatever the reason he was cheerful.  I can clearly see him sitting in the kitchen mashing potatoes.  We ate a good southern meal of liver, fried okra, mashed potatoes and biscuits.  There were fried pork chops available for the weirdos of the group who didn't eat liver.  We laughed and told stories and cooked.  It was a great day.  This Saturday there will be laughter and stories, but there will be a level of sadness.  We will all be remembering that something very important is missing from our lives. 
  • And then there is Sunday! This Sunday will be our 12th wedding anniversary.  We don't have money to do anything special this year - who am I kidding, it's a week before Christmas so we NEVER have money to celebrate our anniversary.  But that's never been an issue for us, we usually like to just spend the day with each other.  We're both very low maintenance so we don't ever expect gifts.  We'll probably sit around being amazed that 12 years have past and we're still completely in love with each other.
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How I differ from other parents. .

I have a rule in my house - Don't take anything to school that you don't want to lose or have stolen.   It's a basic common sense kind of thing, children, even if they are teenagers, are gonna misplace, share, set down in the wrong place, or break something of value. It's what they do.  If a child of mine takes something they value to school and it gets gone, I don't care.  I tell them, well that's too bad - learn this lesson now.  I mention this today because I over heard a mother fussing about a stolen phone.  Her daughter took a phone to school and it was stolen.  And although she had no proof what so ever, she just KNEW who the culprit was and had already called the police and the district attorney who handles juvenile cases.  She was gonna get that girl. 
Here is my problem with that - Why the hell did her daughter have the phone with her?  Oh yes I'm sure I'm about to get all kinds of comments about how sweet little Susie just HAS TO HAVE her phone in school because of practice, work, "omg becky kissed johnny!"  And all I have to say to that is "waaah" - Parents across America attended school without cell phones, ipods, etc.  How did we communicate with our parents?  We made plans and/or we waited at school if those plans changed. The world hasn't changed so much that children have to have these items at school - they are a want, a luxury, and something to make life more convenient.  It's not a need.

Now I understand being angry that something was stolen. I get that no one has the right to take something that doesn't belong to them.  But I also am a big believer that most crimes are crimes of opportunity and if you don't give them the opportunity the crime won't happen.  There is a reason you don't walk down dark alleys or talk to strangers or take expensive toys to school.  It's also why on black Friday you are reminded to put purses in trunks and be careful in parking lots.  It's just common sense.  Why this woman isn't angry at her daughter is beyond me. Doesn't she have some responsibility? I'm not saying she should be punished (having her phone stolen is good punishment), but I think calling down the powers that be on a girl you have no proof against is a bit crazy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two little white girls and the discussion of race

Yesterday, I was helping my youngest daughter get dressed and, like for most incidents in our house, we were not alone in her room.  She and her older sister were animatedly discussing art work they had made, I joined the conversation by telling Addie that "I made that!" as I pointed to her chest.  After a moment of confusion she started laughing and in her completely childish innocence she said "Thank you for making me white, I like being white!" After a moment of stunned silence I started laughing, but then I started listening to where that comment had led the sisters' conversation.  The older Abigail started telling Addie, in a very hushed voice (as if the words she was about to  utter were so shocking they couldn't be spoken too loud) that "back a long time ago, brown people weren't allowed to use the same things as white people and they were told what to do and didn't have the same rights as us!"  Addie become quite indignant, squared her scrawny shoulders and pointed her finger into the air then declared "If I were a brown person I would say to everyone, 'We need to be friends! You can't tell me what to do, we can do the same things!'" Abigail was happy to report that "Oh but someone did Addie! His name was Martin Luther King and he said we can all be friends! He said that everyone was equal!"  Addie was silent for a moment then whispered "I like him! I bet he's old by now but I like him." That's when Abigail shook her head sadly and said "Oh he's not old, he was shot a long time ago."  At this point they bowed their heads for a moment of silence and then Abigail wanted to know why "all those good people back then" had to get shot.  I had no answer for her other than that there were always people trying to stop the good in the world, but that we can't let that stop us from trying to do the right thing for everyone.   This is the point where the brother comes in and causes conflict with his very presence so the room erupts in squeals and arguments and this very important conversation was forgotten by the children but not by me.

**photo by Gail E. Photography