Quite a Lifetime
She kept boxes of books in her upstairs guest room, the room I used when I stayed with her for weeks each summer. It was where I read the Dark Shadows series. I made friends with Agatha Christie, Alexandre Dumas and Mark Twain. I travelled to Narnia, colonial England, and the Valley of the Dolls. I found the Hounds of the Baskervilles and solved the Mystery of the Old Clock.
She never drove. Instead she told me which streets ran north and south and which buses ran on even numbered streets. She taught me so well that I can be placed in the middle of Philadelphia and I would still find my way back to her house. She taught me about trolleys, subways and buses, a lesson I needed frequently during my high school years and beyond.
She could make a hell of a roast, with potatoes that were nearly crispy outside and soft on the inside. And her Jewish apple cake was to die for.
She was active in her church, taking time from her evenings to clean the altar, prepare the prayerbooks and vestments. It was her faith that she passed on her daughters and grandkids. They now serve communion and attend rosary nights.
She had friends who never went out without makeup and drank tea, and others who smoked, drank beer and swore like their dockworker husbands. She loved bingo, pinochle, and crocheting. She was always busy with crafts of some kind until she was betrayed by her eyes, fingers and finally her mind.
She told me about my grandfather’s family. They are stories that much later, I shared with my cousins only to learn that I was the only one ever told! But then, she had shared with them stories that I had never known.
This week, my Mom-Mom passed away. All last week, I was angry and wanted so badly to lash at someone, anyone. I wanted to hit-no, HURT- someone so that they would hurt as badly as I did. I couldn’t put my finger on what was behind such aggression. When I got the phone call from my mom that Mom-Mom had died, it was like a magic wand had been waved. The anger disappeared to be replaced by relief and sadness. I finally realized that the anger had come just when I heard that Mom-Mom wasn’t doing well and had been placed on morphine for her comfort. I knew that morphine meant that the end was near. I was angry that she was being taken from me.
This week with Logan, I held him and sang to him a song my Mom-Mom used to sing to me. I held him on my lap and read to him. I imagine my own grandmother did the same with me. Now I am a grandmother. I wonder if I will live long enough to see Logan’s grandson.
Less than five years short of a century is quite a lifetime.
Mom-Mom, I’m sorry for all the things left unsaid, all the time wasted. I loved you always, and I’ll miss you terribly.
Yesterday, we spent our first whole day together. I want to remember every detail of it. You see, it was the first time that I actually felt like your mom-mom. We were alone. I was yours and you were mine.
I walked in the door and whispered “Hello” because I didn’t know if you were asleep. I was greeted by your wonderfully loud squeal that sounded so much like “HI!” It was the first of so many smiles you gave me. There you were, in your bassinet, all smiles, waves, and kicks. I can’t remember ever seeing a more joyful baby. Have I told you how beautiful you are?
You sat in your little chair and we played. You talked to your giraffe and the little froggie. You are a happy baby.
We lay on your play blanket and even made a fort. You are too young for a fort, but who cares? You laughed and cooed. I pretended that I couldn’t find you, asking “Where’s Logan?” You responded by kicking your feet and squealing. Were you playing too? Were you calling to me? It felt that way.
I fed you and you looked into my eyes while you ate. You held my fingers as your eyes grew heavy. Slowly you grew ‘bottle drunk’. I burped you held you through your hiccups. You threw up on me and I was okay with that. It made you feel better and the smiles returned. I changed your diaper and you were happy through that too. I found your ticklish spots and you giggled for me. It was a beautiful sound.
Eventually you slept and what a peaceful baby you were. Did you dream of playing with me? Did you dream of chasing your dog, Maggie? Or did you dream of Mommy and Daddy and playing with Jazzy? You smiled often while you dreamed.
You woke up and fussed. I could tell your belly bothered you. I felt sad, and wondered if I were to blame. Did you get too much air? Did you not burp enough? You cried. I ran the faucet and you calmed down. Every five minutes or so you did that for half an hour. But when you calmed down, you cooed and smiled. Finally you farted. My lord, child, you sounded like your dad. Then you pooped.
And farted and pooped some more.
I waited until I was sure you were finished and when I removed your diaper, you took my breath away. Goodness, you make big smellies! And then I noticed that it was up your back too. When I took off your onesie, I smeared it in your hair too and you needed a bath. Good thing mommy came home because suddenly I needed extra hands! But I learned how much you love your bath. You happily kicked and squealed as your mommy cleaned you and washed your hair. And you stayed calm as we dressed you afterwards.
All good things must end and our day was one of those good things. Pop-Pop came to pick me up and as we began to drive away, he told me to “stop it”. What was it that he wanted me to stop doing?
I was smiling, ear to ear. Without even realizing it, I was still smiling. You made me so very happy.
I can barely wait until next week when we do this again.
Lemme Break It Down…
Thus the New Year enters…..
Where have I been? you may ask. I’ve been around. The holidays took up a good bit of time. Family took up a good bit more. On the whole, December was an awesome month. I just didn’t blog about it that’s all.
**I spent a few days with Logan without the distraction of family. He slept most of the time of course, but I got to snuggle him.
**December 8th was my mom’s birthday. I didn’t forget it. But I DID forget that it was her SEVENTIETH! Holy shit! What kind of daughter am I to forget that?! I’ll tell you what kind. The kind that also forgot that December 9th was Mom and Dad’s FIFTIETH anniversary. My brothers and sister gave me a lot of grief for that. According to them, since I am the oldest, it is MY responsibility to keep track of these things. I should have planned something big for that. Well, the sibs and I did discuss this back in August. The problem was that work was slowing down for my brothers, my sister wanted something huge with a small price tag and it was too close to the holidays, so the idea was scrapped. We all ended up being at Mom and Dad’s house that night anyway with champagne and Logan. We all agreed to go out for dinner the following week. Joe and his wife weren’t in a place to afford going, but I offered to cover his bill as his birthday was the day after the dinner. Dan offered to pay for Mom and Dad. We went out to dinner-all four of us kids and our spouses as well as Babygirl and Son1. We had a wonderful evening. We sat drinking and laughing and finally waiting and waiting for the bill. Finally my brother Dan asked the waitress to bring it, as we were all ready to leave. She said it had already been paid. My husband paid for it all. All he asked was that they cover the tip generously. And they did. When I asked why he had done that, he said because he knew it meant alot to me to be with the family without stress. And he was right. He told everyone Merry Christmas.
**I spent time with Babygirl and my girlfriends in Center City Philadelphia. We saw a traditional Holiday light show, did more than a little shopping and did lunch/dinner at a very nice restaurant. It was a wonderful day full of laughter and friendship. It is something that we hope to make a tradition for ourselves.
**Christmas Eve was the usual family night. Lots of people, lots to drink and the ONLY time that I went to bathroom, my nephews banged on the door yelling “Aunt Chrissy! Santa Clause is here and he’s looking for YOU!” What the hell? I ran out of the bathroom to see him standing in the middle of my living room, speaking not a word to anyone in the house. He leaned to me and said “Merry Christmas, bitch!” It was my friend Nancy dressed up. I laughed so hard my sides ached. It was a wonderful cherry on the top of the evening. I mean, really! How often does anyone get called a ‘bitch’ by Santa?
The ring on the top is the fake. He did a good job of matching it, no?
**Christmas came and I got gems. I had bought a fake gem ring to wear with an outfit and I loved it. Unfortunately, it was beginning to tarnish and I was sad about that. Hubs remedied that by getting me a real one. I love it. I also love Logan. He is at a cute age where he imitates sticking his tongue out, he laughs and smiles constantly. He certainly brings a new level of joy to the holidays.
**The Friday after Christmas, Hubs had his teeth pulled. This has been a long time coming. It was his Christmas gift to himself. Unfortunately for me, he got all but two pulled and it took alot out of him. And so, I am paying for all the joys he has given me by nursing him through this. We are spending every waking hour together…..every…..waking……hour. I can’t wait for retirement…<–insert sarcastic voice here!
So you see, my friends, I am here, I am busy and I am happy. I just can’t believe that I went almost a whole month away from here. I hope your holidays were full of joys and family. I wish you love, laughter and prosperity in the new year.
I love you all.
Way Back In The Day…….
See that group of people? We go back. Further than high school. Further than grade school. My brothers and sister are in that group. I’ve known them all their lives. The others? They shared cribs and playpens with my siblings. I babysat them. I changed and fed them. We lived next door to each other, around the corner. We knocked on bedroom walls and giggled in the middle of the night.
I remembered my brother’s first kiss with Debbie. We teased that they would marry someday. Instead they ended up going to prom together.
I remember Anthony eating worms and sticking turtles in his pants.
I was jealous of the Barbie’s and accessories that Donna and Diane had. I had a knock-off ‘fashion doll’.
I played wiffleball with all of those boys in the playground behind our houses.
See the guy front and center in the dark hoodie? His name is Joe and he is the baby. He will be 40 on his next birthday…..if he sees his next birthday.
Joe has cancer. His bills have started rolling in and his insurance has just ended. Isn’t that the way things like this happen? We threw a beef and beer to raise money for those bills. Tickets were sold out. Raffles and gift auctions raised even more. There was lots of dancing and drinking and laughter. And food! Good Lord, I’ve never seen so much food! Almost all of it was gone by the end of the night.
More than the money, Joe’s spirits were raised. It’s been forever since all of us were gathered in one room. We hugged each other repeatedly and caught ourselves just staring across the room at each other, smiling with memory.
I remembered our mothers as being taller. Now they are beginning to bend with age. I remembered seeing them coming home after a ‘date night’ with their husbands, slightly flushed and tipsy. Now…..wow, how time flies.
As the holidays come, we will gather with our own families. Maybe one or two will show up at another’s home. We promised to get together more often, but will we? I hate the thought that the next time we will be together, one of us will be missing…..not just somewhere else, but gone.
But damn, it was cool to be little kids again…….if only in our memories.
Nature Couldn’t Stop It
You weathered many obstacles and no doubt will continue to do so. Rain my have caused your beach wedding to move indoors, but you were in the shelter of the love of family and friends. Nature cannot stop love. “What God has joined together, let no one put asunder”
This weekend my Hubs and I drove to North Carolina to witness the union of Blondeblogger and her sweetheart Boobtubious.
First of all, I made sure I had a new dress to wear on the beach. Because it was a beach wedding, I made sure to take my flats and flipflops for dancing in afterwards. I was prepared. New shoes, dress, jeans for pre-wedding dinner night, and a new hoodie (with no stains!) I have never been so excited about wearing a dress.
The ride down was not as unbearable as I had expected. Hubs and I saw a few cool things, like the origin of the Chesapeake Bay and the tunnel bridges that were incredible. Midway across the bridge I realized that I was totally surrounded by water. Kinda scary!
After a beautiful day of driving in the bright sunshine and hot sun, we got to the wedding house just in time for the wind to kick up. I’m not talking about a nice, cool sea breeze, I am talking about blow-the-chairs-across-the-deck and brace-yourself wind. Clouds and rain came along with it and like a bout of the flu, the rain hung around……for the entire weekend. So much for the wedding on the beach. and so….the wedding moved indoors.
Talk about a beautiful wedding! I can’t remember ever seeing a more happy union of two families. The kids all love each other. They love their new parents. And they loved meeting mom and dad’s blogger friends. It was like we had known them all forever. Before the wedding, I watched as Boobtubious helped N. check her blood sugars and give her an insulin shot. The gentleness of this man with the little girl who was to be his stepdaughter was so touching. I watched as Blondeblogger laughed and joked with her new stepkids. K genuinely likes to spend time laughing and dancing with her new stepmom. J said that he had never seen his dad so happy and was glad that his dad chose a woman that everyone loved.
I was honored that my ‘sister’ wanted me there on this special day. I was honored that I witnessed the love that she shares with this man. I was blown away to see the unabashed loved that is shared by all eight of this unique family.
I was happy to see old friends…Ren, Dawg, Poppy, Bubblewench….and to make new friends like MomGenerations. It was one hell of a weekend.
***It was so cold that I ended up wearing jeans to the wedding. Yes, jeans. Someone get married in the summer so I can wear my new damn dress!!!
***Boobtubious told his daughter that they were planning a surprise of 150 trained dolphins that were to jump out of the ocean into a heart shaped arch upon the completion of the vows. She believed him. It was a funny joke and she took the teasing like a champ. But I’d still kinda like to see something like that. If anyone figures out how to do that, let me know.
***Lastly….Thank you Blondeblogger, for keeping your cool. You were the center of attention with grace and beauty. Thank you. No one needed to see my boobies hit my knees.
Labor Day Nostalgia
Labor Day. A time to reflect on all those who have built this country on the sweat of their brows and strength of their backs. A time to thank God that you have a job when so many do not. And of course, a time to spend with family and friends at a BBQ or at the shore….good food, cold drinks, and great times.
It is holidays like this that make me miss my in-laws the most.
They were the ones with the biggest yard, most parking and two bathrooms. Mom and Dad’s house was the place for everyone to stop in to say hello and end up staying because someone would offer to light the grill. Tom1 and Tom2 would offer to cook the food. The ‘sisters’ would offer to make salads and whatever. Nieces and nephews would show up with wading pools, water guns, bubbles etc, and most importantly…..the horseshoes.
Children’s laughter would ring out. The clank of horseshoes followed by the men yelling over whether it was a ringer or not. The women would compare recipes, discuss school schedules, or just bitch about their husbands. Since we lived four doors away, and another sister was next door to us, the kids would run up and down the block, and play stickball in the street, or get juice and snacks away from their mom’s watchful eyes.
Now, with Mom and Dad gone, the house is owned by my SIL. She loves family too, but is impatient with babies. She would like everyone to visit, but please go home after an hour. I understand that. Hubs is much the same way. For a while, BBQs were held at another sister’s house, but then the kids became young adults with kids of their own. Her house just couldn’t handle the number of people.
Besides, it isn’t the same.
Mom and Dad aren’t there. Dad isn’t nodding off on the couch. Mom isn’t complaining about the footprints left by the kids or the bugs getting into the house. She had a way of doing that was a million laughs to imitate. It was always a welcoming time. If you had plans, you just didn’t show up. If you didn’t have anything to do, someone would be there to hang out with. Kids would bring their friends…..all of which called them ‘Grandmom and Grandpop”.
We could do it all today. Have a party full of people, food and drink. We’d laugh and have a great time.
And we’d miss Mom and Dad…..even after four years.
You Didn’t Tell Me??!?
Last Monday, Hubs came home from work with a scrape on the bridge of his nose. This is a normal thing when he is using his CPAP machine when he goes to bed. However, he hasn’t been using it lately due to the head colds that are making the rounds of our family. Babygirl happened to notice it and she asked what happened. “I don’t know. I probably just scratched it wiping spider webs out of my way.” This is a normal thing too. (So no bells and whistles are going off although, hmmm….it’s odd for someone not to know how a scrape the size of a dime got on the middle of their face…..)
And so….end of conversation….
Flash forward to Sunday night. We did our usual get-ready-for-the-week planning. You know-what jobs need to be done, what bills to pay, what appointments are coming up, etc. He put some paperwork into his office and came back out. “Hey, if we get anything from “P” Hospital, let me know.”
We have no reason to go to “P” Hospital. It isn’t local. No one’s been sick or had an emergency. Maybe for a work contract?
“Remember the scrape I got last week? Well…..”
He proceded to tell me about looking at a job. He had pulled down a ladder to the attic area and a two-by-four had slid out, hitting him on the bridge of his nose. He fell backwards and through a sheet of drywall. According to him, he was looking up one minute and waking up to smelling salts the next! The home-owner insisted that he go to the hospital to be checked out. (He had a slight concussion) The homeowner also drove him home in his work truck and parked in our driveway. (I sortof remember seeing this, but just assumed that Hubs was talking to someone that he knew who pulled into the driveway to chat.)
“WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU TELL ME???? YOU ASS!!! ”
He couldn’t understand why I was upset. I remembered how he didn’t want to go grocery shopping, how he stayed home on Tuesday, and how he gave Son1 a day of work. He was under doctor’s orders to take it easy for the next few days. His excuse was that he didn’t want to upset Babygirl when she asked him about the scrape. His excuse was that he didn’t want me to worry.
This is my biggest fear. More than spiders or fire, I fear that something will happen to him at work, rendering him incapacitated or God forbid-worse. Of course he didn’t want me to worry, but knowing what the problem was, I would have watched him carefully and gotten past it. Now, I find myself second-guessing the way I look at him.
How could I not see that he was keeping something from me? I kind of did, but like him, I didn’t want to push it in front of Babygirl. But why didn’t I ask him again later? When he stayed home from work, he claimed a sinus headache. Since I’ve been battling one for weeks, I accepted that. But why didn’t I say more when he wouldn’t take anything for it?
I stayed up the other night wondering if I have become complacent in our relationship. I always thought that I never take him for granted. Well, maybe I do. Maybe I just need to tweak my game. In the past few days, I look into his eyes more. I find myself listening ‘harder’ when he talks to me. When he sneaks up behind me to kiss my neck, I let it linger, even though I’m cooking or folding laundry.
I always considered the ‘little things’ to be important. Now I know that the ‘tiny things’ are important too.
What’s New Pussycats?
Where to start? I’ll go back to the beginning……No. that would take too long….
D is doing well, and Son2 and his friends are all standing firm for him. So far, so good, and things seem to be on the upswing for him.
As for my bad blogging habits….I am quite prolific. I have seven or eight posts written every night before I finally fall asleep. The problem is, they are written in my head as I nod off. If I got out of bed or tried to write them down, I would most certainly wake myself up and have to start all over again. And so, my friends, you are missing out on some awesome insights, hilarious anecdotes, and heart-warming stories of my life. But don’t despair! This is all very good from my perspective. This means that I am sleeping at night. As for the daytime, my back is free from pain for the first time in a long while. I am moving around and catching up on all the odd jobs that I let pile up for the past year or so. (No, I’m not overdoing!)
Not only am I moving, I am moving. I am still exercising on the treadmill every other day. On the days in between, I manage to do a bit of actual exercise. And one day, I walked down the street with the dog and in a moment of ‘what the hell’ I ran-yes, ran- half the block on the return trip. I didn’t get winded, but I did work the muscles. I used to run track a long, long time ago and it felt really good to do that again. I have tried to include running in some form, outside or in on the treadmill.
What else? Hmmm…..let’s see….
Oh yes. My 49th birthday just passed. Babygirl came home for the weekend and I went out for dinner with all of my kids. Son2 and his girlfriend gave me tickets to the season opener of the Philadelphia Union in March. I am very psyched for it. Son1 and his girl Shenanigan also gave me a gift.
Metalmom will be METALGRANDMOM sometime in October. After all the time they spent trying, they finally got it right. Son1 is already a good dad to Jazzy so I know that he will be a superduper dad to his own kid. He is very excited and hoping for a boy, so….fingers crossed!!! This is a ‘facebook secret’ until they can tell the rest of the family, so NO BLABBING!!
So, don’t worry if I’m not here for a day or a week. Know that things are good and I am slowly but surely returning to the woman that I used to be. It has been a long time since I have done many things and so I am doing them now, while I have the incentive and energy. I’m sure I’ll slow down soon enough and return to commenting on your blogs. Just know that I am still reading them and keeping up with you.
I love and miss you all…….
Sunday February 06th 2011, 1:55 PM
Filed under: family
Part 1-My cousin has passed.
Last year, on Christmas night, my mother thought it might be a good time to pass along a “tidbit of news” that she had been sitting on for a couple of weeks–my cousin Jennifer was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I was full of anger at my mother for holding back and most especially her attitude of “Oh, by the way…” Well she did it yet again. Last Tuesday night, my dad called me to give me details of the funeral and viewing. He was surprised that I hadn’t known. Jen had been on hospice care for two weeks, and had finally passed on Saturday night….three days earlier. Now it was my father’s turn to be annoyed at her. Why she does it, I don’t know.
Anyway, Jen put up a valiant fight. She was the mother of two kids, 6 and 3. The memorial pictures show her smile radiating from her diminishing frame in photo after photo as she cataloged the holidays: dying Easter Eggs, barbecuing, sitting on the beach, carving pumpkins and decorating trees. As the photos passed, you could see the toll it took. You could see the weight loss, the dark circles, and the sadness-not only in her eyes, but also on the body of her husband. Chris and Jen refused help from family until very close to the end, choosing instead to cherish every wail, diaper, tantrum and tear as long as possible.
Jen was the youngest of our cousins. As her brother sobbed into my shoulder, it shouldn’t have happened that way. She was the baby. Our grief is nearly tangible.
Jen would have been 40 on March 14. We’ll miss her terribly.
Part 2-Losses in My Circle
There are other losses. Last week, my friend Annette lost her mother. She had moved in with her during the final weeks and therefore she was the one to find her mother. I can’t imagine such grief. She is one of my grade school friends, and so, when the news went out, our little circle arranged that we would go to the funeral and pay our respects. Weather was a huge obstacle to some, work was an obstacle for others, but three of us made it. As we greeted Annette, her sister and brother and kids seemed surprised that anyone showed up for her. Apparently, she lost many of her friends in her divorce. She cried and clung to us. When I spoke to her a few days later, she cried again. It had meant the world to her. What my friends and I had deemed an act of respect turned out to be a deeply appreciated act of love. I’m so glad that I went.
Annette isn’t the only one having a rough time. My girl Dawn is a hospice nurse and at this time, she is caring for her next door neighbor’s son….a 21 year old young man who is dying from brain cancer. This is a huge sadness for Dawn, and as such, she asked us for prayers (which we say for her every day) Last week, she ran across the yard to the neighbor’s home and didn’t fully latch her gate. Her beloved dog, Lady got out of the yard. Dawn had to go searching for her and discovered that she had been killed by a truck. As a single woman, Lady was like a child to Dawn. She sent out emails to us to inform us of her loss and once again, we circled the wagons.
I can’t wait for things to change. Even though many of these things aren’t happening directly to me, I feel them in my heart keenly. This is why I haven’t been here. I hardly have a chance to catch my breath before my phone rings with the next onslaught.
This morning something else has come along and I am not ready to share yet. Just please…..send some strength to a group of young men who need prayers right now.
For our 20th anniversary, Hubs paid for me to get a tattoo. It was something that I wanted for many years before it became the fashion statement for those outside of gangs. I knew what I wanted and where, so after many discussions, he agreed and paid for this:
This is Kokopelli. When I chose this, Babygirl was with me. There was this one and another that was blue. My intention was to get the other on the opposite calf. This most likely will not happen. You see, Hubs has regretted ever paying for this. He simply isn’t happy seeing it. I give not one shit. I love it so much and I find myself admiring it or stroking it unconciously. It makes me happy.
Ever since she was a kid, Babygirl has wanted one just like mine. We have discussed it both with Hubs and without. This weekend, away at college, she has done what many college kids do and got a tattoo. This one-the mate to mine:
When she texted me her intention, I did not forbid her nor did I encourage. I know that she is over 18. I also know that, like me, she has given this alot of thought. I did however, inform her that I will not break the news to her dad. In fact, I told her that I will deny all knowledge of it. Chickenshit move? You betcha. But she is ‘Daddy’s little girl’ and he will get over it. I am the wife and I would hear about it every single time he sees it.
She will not post this on Facebook even though she is dying to. Her aunts and cousins are all there. Her brothers friends are all there. Any one of this vast group of people could make a harmless remark to me or to Hubs. She wants to wait and tell him herself in person.
I just want to tell her publicly……I love it. It is beautiful. I looks joyful.
It is everything that you are too.