Tag Archives: Sharing

Lifting a Glass…Once Again

We, all, have those days that we mark on our calendars to reflect on something or someone. Whether we do so to honor or simply remember is usually up to each individual to decide upon. As a Nation, even Congress, for their lacking in getting most of what really needs to get done accomplished… they do manage to get a lot of endless resolutions passed like “National Take Your French Poodle To Lunch Day” (OK, probably not a real resolution but I’ve seen the lists and this one is close.)

Today is a day that has always been a special one in my life and I wanted to share it with you. First by telling you a few interesting things that happened in 1930…

# The first literary character licensing agreement is signed by A.A. Milne, granting Stephen Slesinger U.S. and Canadian merchandising rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh works. ( over 80 years later he’s still a “Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” )

# The first frozen foods of Clarence Birdseye go on sale in Springfield, Massachusetts. ( A good raw steak was replaced by a frozen bag of peas for a black eye)

# Mahatma Gandhi set off on his 200 mile protest “Salt March” to the sea.(Truth be known he did a lot more than march in 1930)

# Hostess Twinkies are invented. ( But it will take many years before the pot smoking craze in the 60’s will place them on the lists of harmful addictions)

#The first Soccer World Cup starts. ( Willing to bet that the spectators weren’t as over-zealous back than as they are now)

#Warner Bros. release their first cartoon series called ‘Loony Tunes’ ( They would survive into this century only fall under the Right Wing’s censorship eye.)

#The first night game in organized baseball history takes place in Independence, Kansas. (Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, carried portable lights around on their team bus.)

#The dedication of George Washington’s head is held at Mount Rushmore. ( The dedication of former President G.W. Bush’s head done in butter will have to wait due to global warming.)

#Judge Joseph Force Crater steps into a taxi in New York and disappears.( the taxi part turned out to be a myth probably brought on by disgruntled bus drivers or subway conductors trying to stifle the taxi industry)

#Betty Boop premiers in the animated film “Dizzy Dishes”. ( Today, I fear she would be banned by the social right as sexist)

#Cecil George Paine, a pathologist in England, achieves the first recorded cure using penicillin. ( Who would of thought how important moldy bread would become.)

#U.S. President Herbert Hoover goes before Congress and asks for a US $150 million public works program to help generate jobs and stimulate the economy. ( There are those who think only President Obama has asked Congress for job money)

#W9XAP in Chicago, Illinois, broadcasts the U.S. senatorial election returns, which is the first time a senatorial race, with non-stop vote tallies, is ever televised. ( And look at what it started)

#The chocolate chip cookie is invented by Ruth Wakefield. (Waistlines were never the same.)

Another less documented but in my eyes equally important event on a day in 1930, a child was born…a male child to a house painter and a church school teacher in Chicago,Illinois.

Right from the start he stood out with a head full of curly almost white hair which would bring him a fifteen minutes of fame moment early in his life. In the first week  of  April, 1932…this 18 month old boy and his mother were taken from a park and detained by the Chicago police for hours until the boy’s father could be found and even then there was panic until he could produce proof of the child’s identity.

A month before in New Jersey, 20-month old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was abducted by an intruder from his crib and this child in Chicago very closely resembled the picture on the poster the officers kept waving in the poor woman’s face and the multitudes of dark suits men around her shouting increased the fear and confusion within her.

The woman…my  grandmother.The young child…my father. The story of that day would always eventually be told at every family reunion I attended but it was only at the top of a very long list as my father’s life was a fascinating mixture of this country’s history as well as the ups and downs of everyday life. Though not a rich or famous person, his experiences and life events were woven into a timeline of major conflicts and changes in this country.

In a lot of ways he was a rebel…in as much transition as the nation surrounding him. Restless and wanting, he left school and home at 14. Hitch hiking and rail riding all over the states though he would later complain that the only two states he never managed to make it to Alaska or Hawaii. He would later describe it to us as his “seemingly endless class trip”.

He enlisted in the Army (took him three tries as he was underage at the time). Luck was on his side because at the time we were engaged in the Korean War and a lot of young men’s true ages were overlooked. He began to grow in the service…getting his much needed schooling and rising in the ranks to Drill Sargent. He admitted that being a short skinny guy made him a bit tougher on those recruits taller and more buff than him but in all honesty he was also taught that being hard on them would make them strong for their roads ahead.

While on leave from Fort Benning,Georgia, He traveled to Atlantic City,NJ where he and a friend were almost run over by a 1951 Chevy fleet line. He fell to the ground …giving the car’s bumper a smack on the way down, giving the illusion that they had hit him. He pretended to be hurt all because they had noticed that the car was being driven by a young girl and her friend.

The courtship was whirlwind to say the least and juicy material for another sharing. For now I will tease you with the fact that they only knew each other for three weeks before they were married.

The war was in full throttle as he tried to do his best with his duties as a drill Sargent but the responsibility of preparing young men for war is not an easy one and news of how many of his trainees were being wounded or killed overseas weighed heavy on him.

He tried to get deployed with one unit that he had become very attached to but a back injury could not be as  easily disguised as his early age was. Many years later I got to meet some of the men that my father had trained and they overwhelming said that it was the skills that he had taught them that pulled them through.

He was stationed in Panama for awhile but my mother wanted more than the Army was giving them and with many regrets he left the service.

Stock car racing…cross-country trucking…even dabbled at honky-tonkin’ down south where he met some interesting fellas just starting out (again tales for another time). He came to settle on being an ace car mechanic, who could listen to an engine for less than a minute and tell you what was wrong with it.He was a king of barters finding ways to provide for his family by loaning out his skills to all that had something to trade. He would work many jobs at one time to keep his growing family taken care of.

Our home was an open door to any one who needed a place to go. My early memories start in Chicago. My father was a Scout leader. A member of more than one community help group. On occasion a police officer might drop by our house with a homeless or runaway teen who they didn’t want to take to jail but needed some guidance that they thought my father could provide and he usually did. A time when there was a much greater sense of caring in our country.

His life stories would be the foundation of his skills as a mentor and father. He was by many standards a quiet man so that when he sat down with a multitude of young eyes and ears surrounding him there was always a tale…always a shared memory that would have a lesson learned or simply evoked a room full of laughter.  I was the most fortunate of all his children to be the closest to him.

Starting in grade school when I would be called to the office because my father was there to take me to a doctor’s appointment. There was no appointment. He would take me to the ball park for a Cubs game or other special places that would later shape me into the person I became. He had a great love of history,music and passing down of family stories.Some of them I found entertaining but hard to believe until later years when much to my amazement I learned that they were for the most part all true. I grew up watching him keep rooms full of people enthralled with his wisdom and charm.

He never called me his favorite instead telling me that he wanted some company and I was the only one that wouldn’t tell on him to Mom.

My sons never got to meet their grandfather as my father died at the young age of 53. He had led an adventure filled life and I receive so much joy in making sure his grandsons know who he was. Sharing him here with you also give me pause to smile and reflect on how truly special this man was.

Today is his birthday and as it has been for the last 33 years since his passing…I keep a bottle of Crown Royal ( his favorite brand) on my desk. It is only opened once a year on this day…in honor and remembrance of a man who did so much for so many…

A man who taught me that life was seldom easy but always interesting…A man who taught me that giving a hand to help another was the greatest feeling on earth…I fear that it is also the most lost lesson in our nation right now.

But that too is for another time…for now, won’t you lift a glass ( with whatever beverage pleases you) and give a small wink skyward in celebration of a very special man…named Owen.   Happy Birthday, Dad.

A Very Thankful Moment

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone….near and far…I have so much to be thankful for this year and I want to thank all those who have had to put up with me and my illness. Especially my sons…I let myself become sicker than I needed to because I was too proud (or stubborn) to accept that I couldn’t take care of things alone. For that I am sorry that I caused a lot of worry amongst so many very wonderful people.

 

I’m also sorry to those who love me that I didn’t let know how sick I had become. I have always been an independent sort of person who doesn’t like not being a bother or burden. Silly I know but after all these years, it’s who I am. But I promise that I will try and do better in the sharing department even if it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

I am thankful that the spirits that be have let me come this far and given me such wonderful gifts and blessings. I sometimes wonder if I am truly worthy of such blessings.

I am thankful for family…hopeful that the ties that bind us will be strong enough to endure the separations and hardships that many times come between us. My heart is now and forever shall be filled with only the best of thoughts and prayers for each and everyone.

I am thankful that my path brought me to a place where I have been given such wonderful endearing people to work with. I know some of you are here and I am forever grateful that you have allowed me to be a part of your lives. Forever grateful that you,all, have helped me show my sons how much more life is when you are surrounded by caring…nurturing people.

I am thankful for the wisdom to know that we, all, need to cherish each moment and each other…that we can learn so much and pass on so much if we keep an open heart and an open mind. Smiles are contagious…laughter healing…and reaching out will always be better than pushing away.

On this day of Thanksgiving…my hopes and prayers are that the world gets less violent…less greedy…less crazy and that all those I love close their eyes for a moment and think of me because I am sending you all warm hugs and soft kisses. Be well & stay safe

“Older and Wiser…Not Always A Welcome Title”

I am finding that there are a few glitches  to growing old that I hadn’t been aware of…one of them being that even if one has had a long haul of not being honest with others about who or what they are, you get to a point where it’s not so easy to fool yourself anymore.

My first revelation came one night when I , who use to be the one who pumped up the volume…last one to call it quits…the one most likely to be still be jammin’ at sunrise…Me-the center that brought the group together….sighing as  my friends seemed to be just starting to party and I was already plotting an excuse for a quick exit. My next flash of self-awareness came in a humbling truth that while for years, I blamed not doing this or not getting that done on the stresses and strains of being a single working mom. I would write out lists and map out plans only to make my friends have to comfort me in my sorrow when a deadline slipped by or an opportunity was missed. How pitiful I was in my moments of  my-life-is-such-a-struggle. Damn, I was good at it too ! Was I really spread so thin between working and being a mom ? Hell, No ! I realize now that I was simply a member of the highest order of the Royal Procrastination Club !

Don’t get me wrong, I do work very hard and am a very hands on mom but all the things I had said I wanted to learn,to experience, to achieve… it wasn’t my job, life’s curve balls  or even my children that kept me from a lot of them…it was me ! Grand plans were just that “grand plans”. I did a little of this and a little of that but  there was still so much left  undone. I would make the effort to start several things. I would seem to have the best of intentions in mind. Research…explore different aspects…talk it out with friends…than as if on cue, the outlines…notes…concepts would find their way to a corner of my seemingly cluttered world and stay there… gathering dust until such time as I needed a reason for a pity party then they would be trotted out just long enough to have a few extra sympathy hugs from friends.

I have made it through what most would have dubbed a difficult life  as it was and yet I had always refused to see my struggles as nothing more than learning & survival phases of my journey but year after year there was that book I was going to write…that trip I was going to take…that skill I was going to master… or that dream job I was going to find. These are the sorts of things on the list I would convincingly told myself I could always do “someday”.

So many some-days have come and gone now and after the illness of this last year, I find myself wondering “What the hell am I waiting for ?” or because of that damn older & wiser glitch…”What the hell am I afraid of ?” Failure ? Nope ! Never believed in the word. I was raised to believe that good faith efforts and that sometimes you learn just as much from the bad things that happen as you do the good…meant that everything in life brought you pieces of the puzzle that helped make you who you are. Whether you choose to believe that to be negative or positive is entirely up to you.

So what am I to do with this disappointment in my own standstill on my timeline ? Put it on top of yet another pile on the corner of my desk ? Being honest with myself…really,really honest…damn, it really does suck ! No more table top dancing for me but that doesn’t mean I can’t still keep tempo with the melody that has been playing in my head and heart now for over 50 years. The Royal Procrastination Club will be losing this member…(which I don’t think anyone will notice as I kept putting off going to the never scheduled meetings)

So keep checking back and feel free to be one of those who remind me that if I don’t do it now I might not get another chance to do it… Thanks for listening.

Another Fork In The Road

   Hmmmm, seems I’ve been in this place before… looking around I do see some familiar things. It’s been awhile though… one of those walking around in a thick dark cloud kind of periods. What the heck ?? It’s not like I’d never had to go through bad stuff before…not like I’d never been in pain. Years of acceptance of things unchangeable and a strong desire to hold on to the positive things that have always kept me afloat in the past, I had truly come to believe that there was nothing I couldn’t deal with but I have to admit that these  last few months really rattled me.

   I want to thank all of you who kept refusing to let me just fade away . My youngest son would read me your messages and notes during the time when I wasn’t able to do for myself. I have always been fortunate to have connected  with so many wonderous spirits in the cyber realm. I hope I can return the kindness and smiles to you as well.

   So many interesting tales involve coming to a crossroad.A so-called “fork in the road of life”… The powers that be know I have seen more than my share of them… I feel blessed by the opportunity to venture down another path. I feel blessed to be able to have people to share with and learn from.

   For now it’s late and I really need to close my eyes for a bit but I had to do this much… I needed to begin again. So much to think about. It really is cool when there’s a break in the clouds and you can see color starting to wash over the grey. Stay safe,my friends

“Time…Distance & Good-byes”

Please forgive me if this comes off as mindless ramble because at this moment I don’t feel as if I have any control over where my head is taking me right now…and yet here I sit in front of my keyboard …looking for answers and yet not even sure what the damn questions are…

Many, many moons ago….my family lived with my mother’s sister and her family…Both sisters were pregnant at the same time and in the icy month of December…I was born and a little over a week later my cousin, Kathy was born. We were together for awhile during those first years. Long enough to develop those character straits that off-set one another. She was tagged the difficult one…hard to handle…bad temper….while I got labeled the adventurous one…easy to deal with…always happy…Ha ! Comparing notes, years later, I had to come to the reality that I was an instigator and a con…getting my poor cousin into trouble and than being so much better at playing innocent.

When our families moved away from each other she and I seemed to be the only ones who kept in touch ….A half a country separated us but we always managed to stay a part of each others lives. We both had to deal with unspeakable horrors as children that we kept secret even from each other until we were well into our middle aged years but despite those buried memories we were as close in all other things as any two people could be. She was there for me when my Dad died…helped keep me sane through my very hard first year of my oldest son’s life. While my family couldn’t deal with my choosing to be a single mom….she was not only supportive but became Godmother to both my sons. We had started out together but took very different paths along the way but we still tried to help keep each other balanced.

I got a phone call over two months ago at 4 o‘clock in the morning, my cousin whose life has been so close entwined with mine was calling me from a hospital….she had been taken to the emergency room and was scared. She was diagnosed with Lupus several years ago and it seemed that every time it was thought to be under control something bad came up…now there was a problem with her throat and she could barely breathe. I had been talking to her regularly and knew that she had been battling colds for the last few weeks but had been going to a doctor for treatment. She had been estranged from her family for a long while and felt like I was the only family she had…there had been many times in the past when I had been the one making the call to her for the same reason. Though many miles were between us, I could feel her pain on the phone that morning …I calmed her as best I could ….took down the information she could give me and she promised to call when there was more to be known from the test they were running…

I felt like a robot going through the motions as I went about that long drawn out day…It was early evening when we connected again…It was hard for her to talk and I’m sure any one of you know how it feels to be on the end of a phone with a loved one who is in pain…..you want so much to be there to put your arms around them and hold them tight but you can’t….you can only listen….It was not good news….the doctor at the hospital had told her that they had found a lump in her throat and that there was a shadow on her lung x-rays that they needed further tests for. They were going to biopsy the lump and take more x-rays of her lungs. She was so very scared and I tried to get her to call her family that lived so much closer than I did but she wanted to wait until she got the results of the tests.

It took several days but we talked every day and the conversation got heated as I could hear her desire to fight whatever was attacking her body this time start to drift away. I found myself yelling into the phone…arguing with her that if the roles were reversed she would not let me give up so easily…she hadn’t even gotten the results yet and she was already talking about checking herself out of the hospital and going home to die…Here I was thousands of miles away …not being able to look into her eyes….not being able to take her hand in mine and assure her that she was not alone and that everything would be ok because an overwhelming panic was beginning to surge inside me…I was telling her hold on….begging her to be strong…but in my heart, I knew that this was not like the other times when she bounced right back.

I got home from work and waited for the boys to get home from school so we could make our call to her that day. Her voice was very horse and barely audible….she wanted me to have the boys leave the room…she wanted to talk to me and didn’t want to upset them but I have always been honest with them and neither were children anymore….they loved this woman as much as they loved me…they let her know it too as I left the speaker phone opened. They had found cancer not only in the lump in her throat but in her lungs as well…they told her it was stage 4 and that there wasn’t very much they could do for her…Again she talked of going home to die…the boys and I once more begged her to fight and accept the doctors plan of treatment. She was quieter through this conversation as it hurt to talk but she did listen and promised she would try.

 Over the course of just a few weeks, she got worse…the Lupus had accelerated everything…the pain was unbearable and our conversations were more and more one-sided…as it got even harder for her to talk. We kept encouraging her to not give up…telling her how much we loved her and how we were trying to make arrangements to come and see her in a few months. This excited her….she loved my boys so much and had not been able to see them in several years. She had difficulties in talking but I swear I could hear more hope in her voice. She finally got in touch with her family and they were now with her. I spoke with my Aunt as much as I could. As dark as it had gotten, in my heart I thought she could pull through.

Then one afternoon the phone rang, it was Kathy, I could barely make out her words but she wanted to tell me that she had tried and that she didn’t want me to be mad at her for not being able to fight it anymore. ME MAD ??? What had I done ??? She was in so much pain…The chemo….the radiation….nothing helped…it only got worse and here she was asking me not to be mad at her for stopping the treatments…What kind of selfish ass had I been ??? There were no words to describe how truly low I felt to be on a phone thousands of miles away from the reality of suffering she was enduring and listen to her ask me if it would be ok if she let go now. I got a chance to tell her how sorry I was for pushing so hard for her to stay with it…Her voice….her words….strangely easy to understand for me during this conversation…The boys were home….so it was just her and me…we talked for over an hour…They were going to move her to a hospice so I couldn’t call her back until they did…She would call me when she had a number. I told her how much I loved her…I reminded her how much her godsons loved her…Right before I hung up I started to cry…Kathy could tell…”I’m ready to go…I’m not afraid anymore…” She whispered to me. Still in denial, I fought back my tears long enough to tell her once more how much I loved her and that I would talk to her soon…. It was our last conversation….they moved her into the hospice but the pain had become so bad that they kept her sedated and within just three days her suffering was over…Her family was with her.

I still am having problems dealing with it. Having lost a father and a younger brother suddenly without warning, I had walked through my days… angry over not being given any time to tell them how much I loved them…not being able to tell them good-bye…With my sweet Kathy, I got to tell her how much she had truly meant to me and how my life would not of been complete with her…You know, it hurts just as much either way…

As I will always think of her…(Kathy’s favorite picture of us)

“It’s A Boy…x2”

I know that I have described my childhood home as a small place filled with a lot of people and love…so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I grew up wanting a houseful of my own. My early beginnings were mixed with the “Norman Rockwell” family that was open and warm to all who knew us and my own secret hell of hidden molestation that went unknown to my family for over twenty years. I know now that many bad memories were buried deep when at nine years old I got sick …I spent a couple dangerous weeks with high temperatures that had me in a coma (which, while I have your attention…if you ever wanted to know if coma patients know if you are there…I am living proof that makes me  truly believe they do.) The aftermath of my illness has been with me all my life but it was an appointment in my late teens that shattered my initial maternal dreams.

My doctor was the same one who had saved my life when I was younger. I had been one of his first patients as he had just started his practice a week before I had gotten so sick. When you see someone almost every day for a year and than once a week for six more you tend to develop a special rapport with them.

This visit was different than any of the others though because it was my first grown-up woman one. You have to remember way back then it was assumed not to be necessary until you were older and anticipating becoming sexually active because of my illness, I had been late to most of my physical development stages and it had becoming a running chuckle between us when he would ask each time…”So, are you ready to talk about sex ?”…to which I would turn very red and always giggle when I replied “No”. I had also gotten to the point where I usually went alone to my appointments so when the doctor had made some discoveries and had concerns, he wanted to contact my parents which I quickly talked him out of. They were dealing with so much at the time because my little sister was sick & my Mom had just been diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was almost 18 and convinced him that I could deal with my problems on my own.

His concerns involved deep scarring and several other disturbing things. He cancelled the rest of his appointments that day…He and I spent hours talking… for the first time I described to someone the horrors of the  molestations….I remember crying a lot especially about how much I wanted him to keep my secret…(he did agree though years later he told me that he regretted that choice.) Many tests later he had the sad task of telling me that it would highly unlikely that I would ever be able to have children. Another secret that I kept from my parents.

I waited until I was 21 to have my first lover….He was 15 years my senior…(which is another very interesting tale I will someday share with you) It was also still that “sex-is-safe” attitude time and because I knew I couldn’t get pregnant we didn’t use any precautions. We were together for almost five years when it ended…he had even moved away to another state but when news of my father’s sudden death reached him almost a half of year later, he came and spent a very touching weekend with me. Three months went by… After feeling a bit run down and no longer living close to my family doctor anymore, I went to a clinic…When they told me what they thought was my problem, I laughed and explained they were wrong and to do more tests…end results had me picking up the phone and telling a certain  sweet MD that he had been slightly wrong in his predictions. I was going to have a baby after all.

It was a very difficult pregnancy filled with complications and constant fears of miscarriage…to add to the dilemma this child (whose conception date I knew) decided not to make an appearance for 9 & ½ months instead of the tradition 9. Then prolonged it with more intensity with the 48 hours of labor it took to finally be told…”It’s a Boy !” I had prior knowledge of this but it was really cool to hear it confirmed that way.

That first time they placed him in my arms, I cried not only because I felt so very blessed at that moment but also totally terrified…His father couldn’t deal with the situation which for the most part I had already understood and accepted but my family had seemingly decided to not want to be a part of this as well which I couldn’t understand or accept. I knew my mother had issues with me not being married as well as her, still hurting, pain that I had  not told her about my abuse until after my father’s death but I had always been there supporting and helping each of my siblings through all of their life dramas and events…now there I was in a hospital room… alone… with a new young life in my arms…Who the hell did I think I was ? I had thought I was so screwed up inside when the only one I had to take care of was me plus I didn’t think I was doing it very well…How could I possibly be able to care for this beautiful baby boy ?

I was truly blessed though because there were people who stepped into my life and into my heart. I had a support system and a frame of mind that saw us through a lot of the pitfalls being a single parent can have. I didn’t date for ten years. I was social but work and my son were always 1st priority. I chose to take the responsibility of being a mom very seriously and before any of you think how sad that might have been to go so long without you-know-what, trust me it wasn’t. Again maybe it was because of what had happen when I was young or maybe because I was taught to believe that you had to be in love ( my friends found it both strange and wonderful) …either way, I didn’t really think that much about it or miss it and considering how truly awesome a kid he was…I’m thinking I did quite a few things right…

There came a time though when even my son started to question my lack of a dating life and so I accepted a few now and then until I met an extremely wonderful young man who made me feel like a really complete person for the first time in my life.(Yet another facsinating bit of prose for me to share with you later) But alas…not everything in life works out like we want it to…I was sad but a part of me couldn’t help but be happy that I had gotten to feel such intensity….such love…so many don’t ever get to know that kind of feeling and I did…so being sorry for myself just wasn’t high on that priority list of mine. And apparently there was yet another surprise from who ever it is in the cosmos that guides these paths of ours… because after what I thought was maybe a bit too much “drowning of my sorrows” after the loss of that one-true-love….I, once again, was telling a doctor to do the tests over….Almost twelve years after my first miracle, I heard those sweet words echoing around me “It’s a Boy!”

This time old and wiser had a whole new set of reality mixed with it but I had the best of people around me and a even a few re-kindled family ties. The greatest of all was my oldest son’s reaction and input…He confessed shortly after his brother’s arrival that he had been praying for a little brother for a long time and that he was glad that God had heard him. It was another difficult pregnancy but I had accepted that struggles are a part of life that we can’t always avoid or change but we can always accept and deal with. The intriguing twist in this was that a somewhat new ultra-sound tech missed the mark so to speak in telling me that she could see that I was going to have a girl at the begining of my second trimester… causing me to spend the rest of my term planning for such an event. Not wanting the same problems I had the first time, they knocked me out for this one and upon coming out of the anesthetic, I heard “It’s healthy baby boy”… to which the nurses told me I replied “But it’s suppose to be a girl”….the anesthesiologist than asked me if I wanted them to put him back ? Everyone laughed including me.

I hadn’t picked out a boy’s name so I asked my oldest son for his assistance and as I had done for him, he picked one name out of the bible and one from our family tree. Our lives have been as blessed as anyone could hope for. There have been battles and struggles but when used as life-affirming lessons that teach and nurture…they have not been anything we couldn’t endure. We are close but I have strived for them each to also be fiercely independent. They have become very caring young men who do not hesitate to do what they can to help others. I didn’t have fathers for them but I did make sure they had the best of male role models in their lives. My youngest turned 16 last month…His brother and I never cease to be amazed as how wonderfully he has managed his challenges so far. My oldest son is turning 28 this week and despite what the economy has done to shatter and alter his career goals he still works hard to re-assess and move forward…

Am I mad that I wasn’t a more active player of the sexual freedom explosion ?

Did I miss out never marrying ?? ( I was asked several times)

 Did my sons miss out not knowing their fathers ?

Should I have used the law to make their fathers participate ? 

I have friends that dwell on such things but I don’t….why ? These are things that can’t be changed…I chose to have my children and I chose not to force their fathers to be something that they couldn’t be…It was my responsiblity that I accepted full control over… I’ve watched others use their children for revenge, monetary gain or simply as pawns in a game of unyielding bullsh*t…I can never understand why people can be hurtful and so spiteful about something as special as being a parent… Regrets are a dime a dozen in most people’s lives but what point is there in spending any amount of brain power on them when I’d rather think about how I can surprise my oldest on his birthday with something I can’t spend any money on…lol….family tradition with us….birthdays have to be from the head and the heart not from the wallet…more fun….more meaningful that way…

I was asked what it was like being a single mom… I just realized that I never think of  myself as anything other than just a mom. All good parents worry about their kids…about whether we’ve made the right choices…taught the right things….been there for them when they needed us…or even just if we showed them that we loved them enough…I don’t think these worries ever stop. I still can remember when they put that little bundle in my arms for the first time ….counting ten little fingers and ten little toes….totally facsinated by the tiniest of things as little kisses followed by little tears and so much amazing wonderment as you experience life all over again through their eyes…There is no greater reward on earth than to help a child…grow and learn…whether you have created this life within or reached out and connected with one in need of you….it doesn’t matter….what does matter is how you open your heart and mind to the responsibly you take on not only to that child but to the world in which that child will become a part of…

I feel very blessed to have been allowed to be a part of such a process and equally glad to be able to share these moments and thoughts with you 🙂

“ Mom’s Christmas Wish List “

I wanted to share with you the list I gave my sons this year for Christmas…I’ve never written it out before…I usually have to deal with one or both of my boys following me around  asking questions and than forgetting what I said….lol…They are wonderful young men and I am truly blessed to have them…

                              ” The List”

# Would greatly desire a completely clean bathroom.You are both old enough to know what I mean…

 # Kitchen cabinets and shelves cleaned and straightened.(Liner paper changed is optional)

 #Both your rooms cleaned and organized….or at least let me see alittle more floor and be able to tell where your desks are…

 #A new hoodie jacket like my black one but without the hugh white paint stain on the sleeve.

 # New shoulders bag…preferably one that is waterproof so that when I walk to work in the rain everything doesn’t get soggy like they do now.

 #One of those electric face scrubbers…. I’m not getting any younger and my wrinkles could use a better scrubbing than my poor tired fingers have been doing…

 #Any kind of wooden chest… I think I might have an old pirate soul because I love the ones shaped like treasure chests…

 #I really don’t need any more stuffed white tigers but if you come across one that’s really cute and looks lonely…. well, what can I say? White Tigers need love too.

 #Ok, I’m still hooked on the International Coffees…but don’t go over board because it’s an easy get…I only like one flavor.

 # As with every Christmas, I would like a new picture of the two of you…clean up and smilin’ if possible.

 # You know I always need pens but am picky as to which ones…the challenge is for you to figure it out…

 # Because you seemed to forget…. my favorite color is dark blue…my favorite perfume is “Beautiful” (but it’s too expensive!) and the only candy that I like is milk chocolate…Please no jewelry 🙂

#As you already give time and “Secret Santa” things for those in need….A gift to me would be that you spend some time with each other..The older you,guys, get the busier you are and the less time there is for just having fun as brothers…time goes by so very fast…make good memories for later.

 # My extra special wish would be for each of you to write me a Christmas letter of sorts…telling me how you think this family thing is going so far and any ideas…insights…grievances…you might have…I want you to share a moment in written time with me…

 This is my Christmas list…. you complain and badger me because I don’t give you one every year…. this time I beat you to it and you can’t say I didn’t put enough “things” on it…You both, have known me long enough now to know that Christmas is not about getting a lot of presents…it’s about giving a lot of gifts from the heart…I would kind of like you to give from your head as well too.

This year has been a tough one for us and I know you have had to go through some scary times because of my health but you give me the courage and the strength to endure…Talking and listening have become such a wonderful part of our family…I love you with all my heart and soul…Love Mom

 

I was a little surprised by how well my list was received by my sons then I remembered how important a letter my Dad once wrote to me was.He was not a writing sort of guy but for some reason, he sat down and wrote me a very sweet note about nothing really very important…I realized that other than little notes on the fridge,on white boards found around the house or the reminders I use to slip into their pockets when they were going thru rough times….I had never really written either of them a letter. Their baby books are filled with my prose but now….when they are dealing with the forces of the real world exploding around them and their safe haven being challenged from within…I hadn’t thought about putting more things down in writing for them…and yet here I was asking them to put things in writing for me…

How silly I was not to see it…This blog was their idea… I prided myself on the fact that I talk to my kids…about everything but I guess they wanted more the same as I did. When I share things with all of you….it resonates here as well. So I would ask you that you think about those loved ones in your life that maybe could use a few written words from you as well as those hugs and kisses we give them. Something that maybe a long time from now,they will pull out and re-read remembering you and your love for them.No matter how old I get…I am always amazed by how little I know and how much more I can learn. I prayer each night that the powers that be will grant me more time to keep learning and keep sharing with my sons and with you.

Happiest of Holidays from our home to yours….

                                          Stay safe…..Be well…

 

 

 

“Thank-you…Doesn’t Seem to Say Enough”

When I posted my last piece about my “secret”…I had no idea the kind of response I would get especially from my Twitter followers. I know how hard it is to go through any amount of time, thinking that people won’t understand…people won’t accept…people will think that I’m damaged goods now…and about a hundred other negative things that we fill our minds with… instead of concentrating on the one most important thing…I’m here…I survived…

There are people who are out there who want to help…One of the things that I’ve discovered is that it is an awful place in existence for someone who has buried it …whose abuser got away with it…those who have gone on year after year not talking about it….not dealing with it…Those are the ones..I try to reach out to…

A child can be healed….with love and therapy…They can be helped to move away from the trauma. They can grow up and lead normal lives. But my fellow victims….the ones who were too afraid to speak out when it happen…the ones who thought they could run far enough away from it…put so many years between the horror and their present world, find out (usually the hard way) that it never leaves you…If you can’t confront the pain…the anguish…the feelings of guilt and revenge…than no amount of time and distance….no walls you build will ever be high enough and the sadness in you for the childhood  that was taken from you, will fester and grow until it consumes you…

It doesn’t have to be that way…There are so many groups and agencies… some people who have been through it and made it….others who are trained to help someone deal with this kind of ultra-personal hell. It doesn’t matter if you think you waited too long….there is no expiration on this kind of suffering.

It was almost 20 years after the fact for me…the 1st person I shared with was a friend and he helped me to realize that I needed to open up to others as well. The more you put it out there…the fog of self-doubt and bitter confusion lifts. It takes awhile and even though I did spend some time with a therapist…my greatest help for me, came when I started helping others. At first it was just helping at shelters and on some phone banks…but the one thing that the effects of child abuse teaches us is that if left buried it can not only make you  miserably unhappy….it could also cause you to abuse someone as well….

I know that last part is very hard to hear but the statistics prove the fact and when I found out that I was going to have a baby….I was terrified that I might one day hurt him…The counselor I met with at a free clinic was so kind and wonderful…She let me know that just by the fact that I had come there and was concerned about what kind of mother I would be that I had taken a first step to prevent it.  

I didn’t require years of therapy but it was awhile before I came to my present understanding about myself and the world I occupy…My best advice to you..I stated in my last writing….Don’t let the bastards win !!!! You are a special individual who went through a most terrible ordeal but you can find a place within you to put it…out of sight and out of reach of your happiness…

Don’t be afraid anymore…come out from the shadows and let others help…There’s no such thing as ” It was a long time ago”. You do deserve to laugh…smile and enjoy life.

Thank-you doesn’t seem like enough to say to you,all…you have helped me to remember all those special people who helped me when I needed it. You’ve reminded me that it never ends…this battle against the evil ones who hurt our children. So many suffer everyday…We must not let them slip away from us…

Seek out any local agencies in your area…if you want to volunteer your time or have come to that moment where you are ready to share your truths with someone. There are non-profits….churches…hospitals that offer help…don’t be afraid..you have already survived  now it’s time to live and be a part. I have been contacted by several awesome online groups that are working to raise awareness and help our children and their families… One such group to follow or join Childhelp… they are striving to make gains in protecting children & families from child abuse: http://bit.ly/cMj5tr

                                         Be safe….Be well, my dear sweet friends.

“It Was My Secret To Tell”

When I started writing again, the first thing I noticed was that I have way too much stuff in my head that I could write about…Such a quandary not knowing what would be of any relevance to any one other than my near and dear ones…Than a follower on Twitter asked me a question which I did try to answer but 140 characters is sometimes torture for a long winded broad like me. A few days later , a similar question was put to me…both based on a tweet that I try to re-tweet at least once a day when I can…

As a victim who survived I urge you to please help #StopChildAbuse ~Report It ! Donate a tweet a day. http://JustCoz.org/helpspreadthis

Maybe it’s because of what’s been in the news lately…maybe it’s just because it is the whole world’s dirty little secret that a lot of the children on this planet live in fear…but I did open the door when I put it out there that I was not only a victim but also one who survived… The question was posed again and I promised to try and answer it.

I have started and stopped….deleted and re-assessed this piece over 30 times so far. The mere fact that I have had such difficulty putting into print something that I have lived with my entire conscious life fills me with such a sense of uncomfortable confusion as it is a subject I have spoken on….counseled on…for the most part had thought it had become no more than a teaching tool for me now….and yet…over 30 times ?

Granted it was a secret that started when I was only 5 years old …and other than one very sweet and caring family doctor… it stayed buried deep within me until I reached my 26th year of life… it was also something that I had thought I faced and dealt with a long time ago but apparently scars that may appear to be healed… are still a bit sensitive to the touch…

I was born into a somewhat lower middle-class family. We never went without the necessities but my father worked two jobs….sometimes three to provide for us. Our house was small and always filled to over-capacity as my father took in stray or stranded children the way some people take in cats…There was even a while there when I couldn’t tell who was or wasn’t one of my siblings. The school year was like an exercise in military efficiency (my father had been a drill sergeant in the Army)…we all had our schedules and amazingly it left my mother with, in her words, just enough “alone” time to keep the house and everything else in order…I know now though how hard it was on her…at one time she had three of us under five…(funny how it sometimes takes becoming a parent to appreciate one)

It’s my understanding that it was in the summer time…when school was out and there weren’t enough activities to keep us all busy…a choice was made that there would be summer camp when we could afford it or  they would pass us out for visiting trips to relatives… for what was really only a few weeks during those hot months…and that would  help my mother keep her sanity and even allow for some much needed romantic moments for her and my Dad…I know all this now but back then …well, not so much…

My Grandparents lived on a farm and for city kids, it was fun for the first few days after that it would kind of lose it’s charm…and while the older kids could do chores and stuff …my grandmother didn’t seem to have time or patience with 5 year old “too fidgety” me…I remember sitting in a big rocking chair on the porch doing nothing…being asked to be quiet was something I remember hearing a lot as a kid.

An Aunt and Uncle came for a visit and offered to take me off her hands for awhile…It was confusing in my young eyes to keep getting passed off, especially when my Uncle sat me on his lap and whispered in my ear as he wrapped his arms around me…”nobody wants you but me”… I remember it clear because it was his mantra…he repeated over and over to me whenever he could…always softly…always whispering so no one else could hear…He would add things like “I don’t understand why your mommy says you’re a bad little girl. I think you’re a good girl”…”They said we could keep you but if you’re good I’ll let you go home.”

 For the next few weeks I stayed with them…even though they had other children, I ended up being alone with my Uncle a lot….His hands….his fingers….the fowl odor of his breath…burned forever in my mind…not just from that brief two weeks but for the countless weeks and years that occurred after it…I will not describe anymore of the details as they are something that I do not desire to see in print…for four years he had his way with me…each summer visit made longer than the last…telling me how my mother really didn’t like me…how my father was too busy to be bothered with me but that uncle loved me and that as long as I did what he said and was good…he would make sure that my family didn’t give me away…He had good fuel for this as I did have a foster brother and had been told that his other family hadn’t loved him enough and that’s why he was going to live with us. How cunning these kind of perpetrators are…and how once violated… how openly vulnerable an innocent child is…

My time with my family became so unreal to me….I was the “perfect” child….did all my chores…never fussed…teachers actually sent home notes telling my parents I was too quiet but my grades were exceptional….I was most often found in a corner reading a book ( stories that could take me places and let me pretend that all was right with the world).I sometimes felt like I was only watching my family and not really a part any longer.I would cry about only one thing….not wanting to go away when the summer month of July came around but I was soon to realize that I wasn’t safe at home anymore either…

It was as if there was an invisible label on my back saying “Easy Target“…because two years into the summer “visits” with my Uncle…a so-called family friend began spending evenings at our house and offering to tuck us in at bedtime…spending more time with me than any others…he always acted as if I needed to be comforted or loved….as if I wasn’t…I’ll never know if he had somehow talked to my uncle or if people like this have some kind of radar but it sadly became a part of what I expected and my silence was necessary so that I wouldn’t be sent away for being bad.

Still not quite sure how two different perverts in two different cities managed to molest the same little girl but they did…The stopping point came when I was nine years old…( I did go through a period where I thought a higher power had intervened in a most strange way)…a cold turned into strep throat and went untreated which led to Rheumatic Fever…I was in a coma for weeks and than stuck in a bed for almost six months…All the attention that I got quickly buried the brainwashing notion that my father and mother didn’t love me or want me around.

The family friend stopped coming around…and my uncle…well…I had to put up with him awhile longer…but his tactics changed as I guess he knew his mantra wouldn’t work on me anymore…He told me that if my father were to find out what had happened between us that my father would kill my uncle and than go to prison for the rest of his life.He told me that my father would never be able to look at me again because I had done such bad things…Oh, how evil is the mind of an adult with such power over a child…I was only 10 at this time and still very much in this man’s control. He no longer even tried to touch me but he had a stare that at holidays and family events  usually sent me looking for a place to hide…I became the quiet non-social one…I became an outsider looking in with my family…but I kept the secret…

There was a part of me that resented my mother for not knowing what had happened to me…Our relationship spent years strained and distant…My father could do no wrong in my eyes…I somehow felt I was protecting him by keeping the secret…I was closer to him than any of the other children…He confided in me…trusted me…there came a time when I knew I had to tell him…but kept putting it off..there would be time later…He died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the young age of 53… a piece of my heart breaks every time I realize that I betrayed him by not believing that he would love me no matter what.

A year later, I got up the courage to tell my mother…the look of pain in her eyes was almost more than I could bear…I had stayed away from family functions for over ten years by then and kept out of the family dramas…My uncle had been caught sexually abusing his own granddaughters and I know she didn’t mean to do it but my mother put a guilt trip on me of epic proportions making me feel that if I had told on him when I was a child… none of the others would of had to suffer…which also brought back memories of the family friend and put the thoughts of what other young lives had been hurt at his hand in my head.

This is where a lot of victims who like me, face a cross road…we can’t go back and change one damn thing about what had happened to us…and speaking up years after the fact bring a lot of mean, hateful things hurling towards us from those who don’t want to believe that anything you say is true…I did speak up…My aunt and her half of the family have pretty much let me know how much they hate me…The ex-family friend…was going through an ugly divorce…all I did was show up in court one day…I sat quietly in the back…He took one look at me and started to cry…in open court he told a judge that he was a bad man and that he no longer would fight for the custody of his kids…( one of which it turned out he was abusing)…

I call myself a survivor because I went on to volunteer at phone banks set up for abused children . I’ve worked with counselors to help victims know that they were not alone … that it was ok to report it….talk about it…hell, scream it from the roof tops if it’s helps…Silently suffering only helps the abusers… I might of had a problem writing about this but once I found it, my voice refused to stay silent. It is what it is and I have tried to use it for the better…

As soon as I knew that they could really understand me…I taught my sons that it was important to always talk to me about what was happening with them in regards to any interaction they might have with other adults. I might have been a bit over-protective of them when they were younger because of my past but I keep reminding them everyday that there isn’t anything they can’t tell me.. I refuse to feel sorry for myself…I refuse to let the past dictate whether I can live, love or laugh…I love life…I love people…I would not be me if I couldn’t keep an open heart and mind…I  have an unquenchable thirst for helping people…To do or be any other way than who you want to be… is to let the bastards continue to molesting your mind and even your very soul…

This was hard to write but I will have to admit that I am glad I did it…I hope that sharing it with you will turn out to be a good thing as well…

Now do me a favor…Give someone you love a hug and let them know you’re there if they need you 🙂

A Mother’s Thanks for Mr. Olbermann & His Thurber Readings

While alot of the lame-stream media put off even acknowledging OWS and still are practically ignoring or distorting the Occupy movements one of the journalist who isn’t is Keith Olbermann.I wanted to take a moment and share another part of this good man who has touched my family greatly.

It should to be said…There have only been a handful of men that I have greatly admired and respected in my life…My Father being always #1. He’s been gone over 28 years now but I still kind of talk to him and quite often can hear his voice in my head.(Not to be confused with those who hear bad voices in their head that tell them to run for President.)

It’s not that I’m a hard-to-please-male-bashing-woman….LOL, I love men…(though I did date a girl in college for awhile. I’m remembering that she was an extremely hot brunette …and being the open-minded free-thinker my father raised me to be…well, let’s just say it was an interesting summer.) Whoa, cool flash back moments…where was I ??

Oh, yeah…men I admire….Tim Russert was my man of choice for explaining to my common sense mind what the whacked-out power-hungry people were doing….Always understood him….Always trusted him….If memory serves me, (and I am finding that the older one gets the more one looks back) it is because of the wonderful Mr. Russert, that I first became aware of Mr. Keith Olbermann…

Mr. Olbermann with his handsome face, strong jaw, warm smile…Oh what the hell, you’ve heard all that fan BS before…probably tired of it or find it disingenuous…let’s just say that it was his gorgeous hypnotic eyes that caught my attention at first and I was hooked. Not in a scary show up at your door naked way…( damn, sorry….more flash backs…) but in a true sense of belief and respect that he was what he presented himself to be and than some.

Being a single mom, I have always tried to put good male role models in front of my sons. What they listen to and watch is just as important to me. I am very proud of both of them with the progress they are making to find themselves and the paths that they are meant to be on.. Every now and than I get a glimpse into their ways of thinking that tells me that I might just be doing a good job as a mom… which brings me to the reason behind this long winded compliment to Mr. Olbermann.

From the first time he explained why he wanted to read Thurber to us…

“My father was in the hospital and every night when I visited him, I read aloud to him. James Thurber. And one night he said, ‘You really should do that on your show,’ and I said, ‘Dad, it’s a television newscast. I’d love to, but how could it possibly fit?’ And he said, ‘How often have I ever suggested anything for your shows?’ And I remembered that he never had. But I also reminded him that there were things like copyrights and bills, to which he said, ‘Try it. You never know.’ ~ Keith Olbermann

And from the posting of his Thurber readings on online to be enjoyed more than once…Mr. Olbermann captured my 15 year old son’s heart and imagination.How many kids out there sit down practically every evening and watch the news with a parent ? My youngest was a bit of a shy reserved kid. I had received several notes from school that he was too quiet and perhaps needed testing to “see” what his problem was. I held tight to my father’s teachings that we all find our voice in due time.Watching CountDown  together was a wonderful way for him to share with me what he was thinking. As time went on he did this more and more.

One night my son came into my room and asked if he could read something to me. I thought maybe it was a school paper or maybe something he had found on the net…

He sat down and started to open a small book…I asked him what it was…He showed me the cover “Rex Stout’s Black Orchids” A Nero Wolf classic…than I asked him why he wanted to read it to me…he smiled saying that he liked the idea of us having something special to share…that he liked watching Mr. Olbermann read Thurber and he liked the way I smiled watching Thurber being read….

My son and I, both loved mysteries…until just a couple years ago I use to read out loud to him two times a week ..now according to him, it was his turn….I secretly wished I could of video tape him doing this as I was so totally amazed by someone who up to this point had been shy and reserved in his manner and speech.

He worked so hard at not letting the old English of Stout’s style throw him…animating his words with occasional hand gestures to fit the prose….looking up from time to time to make sure he still had my attention. (Which he totally did ) His voice cracking now and then in that adolescent it’s-getting-deeper-but-not-yet way …

Bless the wonderful late actor, Maury Chaykin…we had watched the DVDs of the Nero Wolf series and here my son was, normally very soft spoken, boldly speaking Wolf’s words with such a passion…. gulping hard when he took a drink of water…but keeping a tone of excitement in his voice for over an hour …teasing me with the last few pages…asking me who I thought did it….chuckling at me when I gave my answer…not giving me even the slightest hint until the final paragraphs when the murderer was revealed.

He had to have already read this once before… maybe even practiced reading it out loud because he delivery towards the end was so melodramatic and thought out. I was in such wonder and awe of him….

He is starting that time of his life that will be full of chaos and confusion. As much as I want to wrap my arms around him and protect him from everything… I know he has to make his own choices….learn from his own missteps. He loves his games, books and friends…leaving less time for me, which I sadly understand…but as he kissed me good-night that evening…he smiled and asked if we could make time next week for him to read me another…I could feel the tears swelling up in my eyes as I looked up at my handsome young son and told him yes…

I wanted to make note of this because I’ve read online some who criticize Mr. Olbermann for taking the time to still share Thurber with us when he can and because I wanted to remind people that our children don’t just learn from us…. they also learn from all the things and people we put in their world…

I am grateful that Mr. Olbermann was and continues to be a positive influence on both my sons especially after his Special Comment this last August. My oldest has become a part of community groups trying to help efforts to change this broke system of ours as well as getting out the messages of such great causes like NAFC…National Association of Free Clinics-  http://www.freeclinics.us

My youngest spent his summer volunteering so he could, in his words “step up” and be part rather than sit silently on the sidelines. He still does read out loud to me though I have to wait awhile sometimes for him to “fit” me in… He brought home his first report card from high school this month…all A’s & one B+…from a kid who barely opened his mouth and had been struggling to keep a C average…

Do I believe that a television journalist helped my son find a better way to enjoy his path in life ??

I truly do and what’s more if you asked my son he would agree as well.