Friday, November 26, 2010

So Long.

What do you say to someone who has just been given one week left to live? Do you say "see you later" (too casual) "Good luck" (too ridiculous) "See you soon" (your hoping NOT to).
Two weeks ago, I went to see my big cousin David. We called him "Big David" b/c he's not only 12 years older than me - but when he was a kid he was BIG and ultimately grew into a BIG man. But, despite his size, he was a gentle giant. He passed away last week to liver (and several other organs) cancer. The irony was that he smoked like a sailor for decades and just days before his death - his own doctor said his lungs sounded fine. No cancer there.
I went to see him (the same day his doctor finally told him to "go home and get comfortable") with several of my other cousins. Although he was sitting up, eating pizza and laughing - he had the look of death in his eyes. You know the way someone looks when they have cancer and are dying. Once you have seen this - you can recognize it time and time again. The cancer slowly depletes all life force, the skin tone, the drive and in time - the will from a persons eyes. It's a robber of the worst kind.
I don't believe in the white gate, a bearded man greeting you with a staff, the angels singing, the grand reunion of everyone we have ever lost skipping together into everlasting life. I think these myths have been past down and twisted into book and story form, generation after generation as a way to give hope to those of us still living. I believe in reincarnation. When we die, I think our spirit frees itself from it's shell, be it old, sick, or damaged and finds a new place to call home. Maybe a California redwood, or maybe a new baby coming into the world once again. None of us have died and actually come back to tell about heaven of the afterlife but anyway.
I sat in front of David and we talked. We talked about old memories I had of him when we were younger. The time he caught me lighting up a cigarette coming out of the movies at 13 but never told my parents, the camping trips, the holiday parties, growing up on Angle Pond. We laughed, and cried a little. I stayed for about and hour then hugged him one last time and said "I love you very much and I'm proud of you". He knew what I meant. He died one week later, exactly as his doctor predicted.
My father says "death is just another phase of life" and although while you are losing someone - these words seems unbearable, unacceptable and too simple for the great emotion one feels at that very moment and often many weeks or months following, it's true. We are born, we live and then we die. If it were only that easy. Just words and actions with nothing attached. I'm 37 and have lost way too many people to this disease. I'm heartsick from saying So Long even though it's just a part of life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Freezer pops and sun block

Summer isn't what it used to be. I remember getting off the bus on the last day of school each June and feeling like I had the next "lifetime" off. Now, as an adult - one month simply turns into the next and instead of counting down the days til summer vacation - I'm counting down the months until my full week off. This week, was my week. I should say "our" week. My husband had the week off too. We spent some much needed quality time with the boys (just the 4 of us), took a few fun day trips and enjoyed a few ice cream cones but the joy of summer vacation as an adult doesn't feel the same. When I was a kid - my older cousin Lisa "babysat" my sister and I, and her younger sister Kim - all summer while our parents worked. I say "babysat" very loosely. She was only a few years older than us so we got away with so much more! We'd bribe her for money for the ice cream truck saying "if you don't give us some money, we'll tell that you had boys in the house". She'd fork over a buck for each of us! We were lucky enough to have a pool in the backyard so all of the neighborhood kids would hang out with us from about 9 am until the sun went down. Swimming, climbing trees, eating junk food and riding bikes. I miss that. Not that I miss those days for myself - but I miss them for Cooper & Wyatt. The trust in the neighborhood is gone. The ability to let our children go free and expect them to come back at dinner - is gone. Life was different back then. Life before 80 SPF's, solar swim shirts, bike helmets and bottled water. We survived on eating in the shade, freezer pops and skinned knees. We'd fall, we'd cry - we'd keep playing. And without sounding like an old woman saying "way back when I was your age".... I have to say - there is so much I miss about that life I once knew. It was a life I loved.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I can't help but to laugh

Kids say the funniest things. When I say "funny" - I mean absolutely gut-wrenching hysterical. Around the time I pregnant with my second son - my first son Cooper was three, almost four. He was beginning to read all the signs he saw from the back seat of the car. "McDonald's".... "Pizza Hut"...."Home Depot". One day we passed the sign for "Toys R Us". I said "Cooper - what does that big one say?".... and of course he knew - "Toys R Us". A few minutes later he said "but toys aren't us, they're toys". How smart, and true! Then, there was the time I was soaking in the bathtub (about 8 months pregnant and HUGE) and Cooper barged in like they all do and began staring at my belly and breasts above the water line. He asked me if "those" (meaning the boobs) were where Wyatt's eyes were! Yeah - I guess if I was giving birth to a 50 lb alien. Kids say the funniest things. Now, I've got two boys saying the funniest things. Wyatt insists on wearing underwear on his head referring to himself as the "Underwear Queen" (his father is thrilled) and calls rain clouds "filthy" because they are dark. Sure my home is sticky, loud and unorganized - but so funny. Children offer a constant stream of stand-up comedy and perfectly timed one-liners. The best part is - they don't know it. Today, Wyatt didn't want pizza for dinner - he insisted on a "pickle sandwich". Yes, just pickles followed by a cold bath. The kid is strange. Cooper, now seven and almost too cool - wanted a nighttime snack (basically just prolonging the inevitable; going to bed) When I told him he could have fruit - he had the nerve to ask for a "fruit roll up" because according to him - it's made with 100% juice. You literally can't pay for this kind of humor.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

If I could go back.....

I know - I can't. I'm just saying IF I could go back - things would have been different. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot in my 36 years I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China like my childhood friends, my relationship with my family, and my sense of adventure. I wouldn't change the places I've lived - or the college I chose but I do wish I knew myself as a teenager. If I knew myself at 15 I'd beg me to end the relationship with that guy I'd end up spending the next 6 years of my life with. If I knew myself at 17 - I'd tell me to stop spending my afternoons after school watching General Hospital and get me to join a school sport instead. I wouldn't of been so afraid to fail. I wouldn't of cared what people thought of me, because I did back then I guess like all teenagers do. I never thought I was pretty or smart enough. Instead of being with myself and liking me - I constantly compared myself to everyone else. If only the 17 year old me had the courage and personality the 36 year old does. I like myself more now than I ever have. I would be friends with me, if I met myself now. I guess that's evolution. You grow up slowly liking (then loving) yourself until eventually you retire, move someplace warm and thankfully stop giving a shit about what the world thinks about you. If I could go back - I'd start old and grow young, bringing the wisdom and confidence of old age along with me when I really needed it -back then.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

over a cup of coffee.....

So, I met my dear friend Mindy for Coffee last Friday. We do this every month or so to get caught up on life, and laugh. We have known each other for about 16 years and I consider her one of the greatest people I have ever known. You couldn't meet someone more honest and open (at least to me) about who they are. I only wish she saw herself the way I do. Our friendship started at an ice cream shop (laughing at customers and eating free samples much like Jay and Silent Bob at the variety store only LOUD and in color) and it grew from there. We ended up working together at two other places including a Lawrence youth summer camp. If not for our boss who was a total ass (and so "ungodly" if you ask me, not that I'm one to talk) we would have stayed through the entire summer for the kids. Min & I were convinced he was a closet drug addict who only took "this damn job" to feed his crack habit. We resented and loathed him so much, we ended up at "Friendlies" in Salem with his boss - THE PASTOR. Who can actually say they've shared a "Jim Dandy" with someone of the cloth? We worked on him for about an hour trying to get the guy fired but in the end our efforts didn't pay off. So, on the next really hot day - we jumped into my jeep during our lunch break and peeled out of the church parking lot after saying goodbye to the children (the only job I've ever quit without a notice!) and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in Mindy's pool. Every time we see each other now, we go through the timeline of past events: In January of 1994 - we met. That spring, Kurt Cobain died. That summer we saw Green Day and I was sick in the parking lot. That winter - parties at Plymouth and a random conversation with an Italian soccer player. 1995 - obsessed with Tom and Jeff almost to the "stalker" level. Summer of 1996, i move to Atlanta. Mindy moves in with Torin. 1998 - I moved back to NH. 2001 Mindy married a wonderful man (not Torin). 2003 - my son Cooper was born. 2004 - I got married (yes, in that order). Then of course as with all friendships, the bicycle build for two turns into a baby carriage, early nights and carefully planned, sporadic cups of coffee in between sick babies and work deadlines. But really, these days that's all I need. Some good conversation over a cup of coffee with a true friend. Sure, I think often times its the wonderful memories we have with people that keep us together. And even though we're not drunk, throwing lobsters around at a frat party or staying up until 3 am just because we can - we are creating new memories now. "Remember all those Friday nights, when we used to meet for coffee?"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Please, wash your hands.... with soap.

So, I've got a thing about germs.  Not as bad as Howard Hughes opting to sit in a dark room alone with a "pee jar" or Howie Mandel fist-bumping his blood relatives instead of offering a hug, but I have to admit - I'm getting close.  As far as I'm concerned, life is one large germ following me and my children into a mildew corner of a wet basement.  I have my dear father to thank for this (and his sister who wears latex gloves to go food shopping). He's a germ-a-phobe like I've never seen.  He would bathe in antibacterial gel if it wouldn't cause dry skin or those silly 3rd degree burns.  Disney as a kid was interesting - getting padded down after each ride with antibacterial wipes like a inmate getting frisked - but now that I have kids of my own he makes perfect sense.  Let's face it - people are gross.  I'm sure at times I've been gross too.  Maybe forgetting as a kid to wash before dinner - or after riding on the school bus, but I am proud to say I have never (at least as long as I can remember) walked out of bathroom (public or not) without washing my hands.  My boys think I'm crazy for the frequency in which I REQUIRE them to wash their hands.  If NASA sold a anti-bacterial jumpsuit with matching face mask to the public in size small (and if it was socially acceptable) you had better believe I'd order them for the boys.  Bathrooms, amusement park rides, buffet areas, vending machines, public computer stations, grocery store check out areas, ATM's, not to mention airplane tray tables, subway turn-styles, and the deposit-rocket things at the bank drive-up window are breeding grounds for god knows what.  But whatever it is - I don't want to think about it.  I can only keep washing my hands, wait for someone to open the public bathroom door so I can walk out without touching anything - and maybe get some therapy.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I never really knew how much my mother loved me, until I had children of my own.  My mother and I had a pretty good relationship growing up.  Sure, it had its ups and downs (downs during the awful teenage years) but for the most part my mother and I were good.  Different, but good.  I think back now to all the sacrifices she made to and while she raised my sister and I.  Sewing the Brownie badges, organizing the car pools, staying up with us while we were sick, making special snacks for school parties - my mom did it all.  I didn't see it then - I think I just assumed "this is her job, she's the mom".  All her efforts really went unappreciated.  I always said "thank you" but looking back it doesn't seem like those two words were enough.  Now that I'm a mom of two very active little boys, and see the work, time, patience, organization and money it requires - I have a new appreciation for her.  I asked her once, when I was in my 20's if she could go back and do anything different - would she.  She just smiled and said "I wouldn't change a thing" but after much prying - admitted she would have liked to have gone to college and worked with animals.  Often times, women give up or at least set-aside their own dreams to raise children.  Until my sister and I were about  8 and 10, my mom stayed home with us.  Once we were old enough to get on the bus, and hang out for an hour or so after school - my mom rejoined the working class. Got a job at bottle-making factory - a job she hated but kept for exactly one year.  She worked the nightshift and had to drop my sister and me off at my nana's so we could catch the bus early the next day.  Those were tough days, and we missed our mother (and our own beds).  The following year she took a job at an electronics factory and has been there ever since. Day after day. I'm sure wondering at times what her life would have been like - if she worked at an animal clinic, doing something she loved. Some of my best memories I have of my mother were not about things she did FOR me, but with me.  Like the time she took a train (too afraid to fly) down to Atlanta, Georgia to help me move into my college apartment after she found out the "friend" helping me move bailed out on me in South Carolina. Or the time she rushed to my side when I was in labor with my first son Cooper.  She stayed with me all night, running her fingers through my hair, telling me stories about giving birth to me while I sat soaking in a jet tub - filled with fear and excitement to meet my first child.  These are the moments I think about when I think about my mother.  I can only hope one day, my sons will understand my complete and unwaivering love I have for them.  My wish in life is for them to be happy - which is what my own mother has always wanted for me.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The greatest quality a person can have in life is courage.  I wish I had more of it.  People with courage are willing to take a chance, even though they could fall on their face - and hard ( possibly in front of many watchful eyes). Courage is allowing fear to fade into the background and worry to wash away.  This bring to mind the man on St. John.  About 9 years ago, shortly after Jared died - my father took me to St. John, hoping the sun and salty air would somehow allow me to find myself again.  A few days into our trip we headed to Trunk Bay - named one of the top 10 beaches in the world by "Conde' Nest" magazine.  Marble-blue water, small folding waves - silence.   As we sat with our feet dug into the white sand - we noticed a family seated down the beach; a man, his wife and two sons maybe 12 and 14.  I watched through my sunglasses making sure they couldn't see me.  The kids eventually ran towards the water and played trying to coax their parents on. Finally, after some time - the man slowly turn his body to the side, and then shifted his entire weight onto his arms.  Unable to walk - he crawled his way towards the water.  I looked around and then up towards to top of the beach line and noticed a wheelchair.  My father and I exchanged looks of shock and sympathy.  Once the man reached the water he began to float and play around with his children - like any other dad.  I realized then that dispite heartache, pain, fear, and even death - life somehow has to go on. It has no other choice but to.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roosters are for crazy people with no children.

Ah, Dinkbat.  I haven't thought about that little bastard in years until the other day the women in my office were talking about thier pets.  I don't have any pets, but I did when I was a kid. The one pet (and I say pet very loosely) my memory seems to let slip by was "Dingbat.... my pet rooster".  Who the hell would want a pet rooster, except of course if you live on a sprawling farm, or simply enjoy being tortured.  I was about 10 when my dad brought this bird home.  He thought it would be a nice addition to our two-stalled horse barn.  "A nice wake-up call", my dad would say.  Yeah - not so much.  It didn't take long for this bird to wear out his welcome.   It got the the point we'd throw our book bags in the air after getting off the school bus, running like bats out of hell as Dingbat would go for our ankles, shins and any available skin surface, pecking and cackling..It was horrible.  So funny now, but awful then.  My mother would stand at the end of our driveway, waving a broom at him so we could run around them - and get into the house.  He'd grab the end of the broom with his (beak?) and shake it from side to side like a dog with a chewed up rag doll.  The funny thing is - at night after the sun went down and the horses were fed and back in the stalls, we'd walk out and check on Dingbat.  There he'd be, quiet and vulnerable up on a shelf my dad had made for him, peaceful and gentle.  So peacful we'd be able to pat him a little.  Then, 4 am would come "COCKADOODLEDOO"...and we'd be back on the bloody battle field for yet another day with this loony tune.  My father got sick of the tears and agrivation and dropped him off one afternoon to a neighbor's chicken farm.  We went back a few weeks later to check on him and there he sat in the corner of the pen - PLUCKED NAKED.  Farmer said the chickens had gotten to him. Who's tough now, Dingbat?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 is my new BFF.

So, I've decided - 2010 will be an amazing year for me and my family.  Why?  Because I say so - that's why.  I woke up on New Year's morning in my best friends' guest room bed with my husband and two sons after a crazy night of drinking and strip-poker (no, not really - we were all sleeping by 11 pm after some wings and cheese and crackers but anyway) and I couldn't help but wake up to that feeling of complete newness.  The kind of newness only January 1st, a new car or baby can bring.  2009, like for so many other people  - brought disappointment, fear and unanswered questions.  So many jobs lost, so much money spent, so many speeches and programs and hand-outs: my patience and tolerance was just about gone.  But then something happened just before Christmas.  Sure, it could be the Lexapro I'm now popping or the fact that the shortest day of the year has come and gone - but that switch that everyone talks about finally went off.  Off went the worry, off went the fear, off went the "what if's" and the "I should have's".  I'm done - so done.  The worry has done nothing besides deepen my frown lines and make my husband crazy.   Mark Twain once said "I've spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened".  Me too, Mark!  So, I've personally decided to have a wonderful 2010 whatever may (or may not) happen.  Whether or not I finally lose those last 20 pounds, whether or not we can sell our condo this spring and move into a bigger place, whether or not the spring is too rainy, or the bail-outs continue - this year, I'm going with it. If the boys stay healthy & happy and Pete and I stay employed - everything else will seem like a bonus. That's my resolution.  2010 is my new BFF!