Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The last of the first days.

I am preparing for tomorrow, the first of the last "first day of school" at our two son's respective schools.  One,  finishes his senior year of high school, the other the last of middle school. With minor doubts of either continuing on to further schooling, I see this as a beginning to an end.  The end of fussing over first day outfits, haircuts and preparation.  Of preparing them to be focused, to pay attention to play by the rules necessary to negotiate public school. 

Our oldest believes that turning eighteen in a couple of months will bring on miraculous changes enhanced by his graduation in nine months.  He seems to see it as the time when the universe will unleash its supreme generosity upon him and all will be delightful.  We have explained, pointed out, alliterated and still, even though he says he "gets it" he doesn't.  He doesn't believe like I didn't believe.  Like generations upon generations did not believe. Because it is our duty as arrogant teenagers to be firm in our convictions we know better simply because we are part of a newer age. But he doesn't and he proves this by continuing to make astoundingly, frustratingly sophomoric decisions.

Our youngest, having had his body occupied by that of a forty-something-year-old since the age of five, believes with no uncertainty that we are wrong about everything and that we have set out to ruin his life.  No matter how many times we have explained that we have consistently, his father and I, been working on the skills he will need to get the hell out of our space as quickly and efficiently as possible while still maintaining a healthy relationship with us, he believes we do it all for our mirth at his expense.

I love my sons.  I love that one is kind and seemingly without malice and capable of going on right on loving no matter how ticked off he gets.  I love that the other is headstrong and focused when he sets his sights on something, despite his arrogance.  I hope that I have given them enough that has sunk in that when needed, they have the information to navigate the situation. And even though one will still have four years to go after this year, the feeling that they are untying the strings from us while we are loosening up the apron string from the other end, it is bittersweet. 

There will still be firsts.  We will be be older then.  We will have less if any of a say in the matter.  Perhaps, despite our love they will leave us behind never looking back.  I will be okay with that, as long as they know we will still be here, worrying about them, caring about their future. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Last night my oldest boy, soon to be 18, came home after a football jamboree with a friend of his with some news.

He had had his first kiss.

She had kissed him.

He admitted that it had roused unknown feelings in him.

I am grateful that my son can confide in us.  I would not have wanted to find out about this first milestone years from now.  I hugged him, seeing him now as having walked through a door that could never again be closed.  A little part of me shuddered.

I had been watching videos of the band Journey and their resurgence after finding a remarkable replacement for their original lead singer for about 40 minutes before he had come home.  Listening to the music had brought me back to my early teens.  To memories of boys, my first real crush, cars, drinking before the age of consent and of first kisses.  

I am realizing a part of parenthood I had only ever heard about.  A strange waffling feeling between ones own mortality, their child's right of passage and future challenges, and their transition from innocence to maturity.

- -

I am loathe to accept my oldest son is so close to his eighteenth birthday.  I look at his tall, trim body and marvel that the puffy cheeked baby abandoned by his biological "mother" is now nearing his adult age.  How can it be?

He is jovial and light, this tall gangly young man who once loved piggy back rides and being read bedtime stories now most definately goes to bed with girls on his mind.

I love this boy.  He is my son.  I have been there through nightmares and potty training accidents and Lyme disease, homework and school projects, cross country meets, tennis matches and baseball, missteps and poor choices.  I have read to him, sang to him, listened to his awful jokes until they eventually developed into well timed comedy rants, and all the while marveled that this little boy, born from my heart if not my body, is my son.  An offshoot of myself, of my teachings and guidance.  

He now travels on a path all his own. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Adrift is not exactly be the word, but best fitting at the moment.  I am floating rudderless, bobbing along in a sea of uncertainty.  Do I paddle towards a questionable destination?  Do I wait to see where doing nothing takes me? 

The only explanation I accept for myself is that I am sorting out the events of last year while facing the anniversaries of the same this year.  I am one month shy of my mother's death, a few months shy of my thyroid surgery and my father's death concurrently within the same month.

Enough people have told me that I have accepted it as so, that it does not matter to the degree at which you grieve, only that you grieve.  That each person struggles with the particular events of their life independent of anyone else s example.  What no one has an answer for, is how long or to what extent the grieving process runs.

It has been such this spring, that I smell the warm damp earth of spring, the early geraniums, the bloom of lilacs and an ache of longing for my mother reintroduces me to my beating heart.  I miss a particular corner of my childhood home (yet not the home) that on sunny days put forth the smell of comfort: worked earth, cut grass, roses that in bloom perfumed the line-dried wash.  I am contented, happiest, while working in soil, the memory of my mother's joy there eternal.

The memory of my father is different.  With his death I have come to understand to a degree a being, affected by the early experiences of losses.  I struggle not with the death of the curmudgeonly man of most of my life but with the glimpses of  the potential not fulfilled of a young man with a penchant for mischief, music and dancing.  A man whose mother gave her life in delivering him and his twin brother, followed by the loss of the twin brother at age eleven and the gaining of the oft cliched wicked step-mother.  His death makes me ache to be a better mother to my young sons so that they may grow to confidence in anything they undertake.

My thyroid is significantly smaller in this current scheme, but no less important when I am reminded nightly when taking my synthetic thyroid medication that I am forever indebted to the pharmaceutical entities for my life.    That I no longer possess a piece of myself that I came into this world with, that turned on me, that I had to go under the knife to lose.  But I toe the line at lamenting it for others have lost so much more than I.

I am looking for me and don't know how to begin to find her.  I am no longer a daughter but rather the "mother of" and recognize the responsibility therein but not the direction to get there.

For now I know only that I have distanced myself from so many while I sort it out.  Those who know me, who love me I believe will understand.  They will know it is not personal, rather a journey I must take alone for a while, taking the time to know if I am still capable of navigating this life if left alone.


Friday, August 12, 2011

The Deed is Done

It's done.  The house officially belongs to someone else.  And it was not unpleasant.

We signed on the lines, removed our keys from our rings and shook hands.  The table laughed, shared stories and parted ways.  "R" is full of the energy of someone young, yet sensible enough to understand he has some work cut out for him.  He looked like a close relative of Matt Damon; boyish charm without the confidence of Hollywood.  As lovely an experience as one could have wished for, under the circumstances.

Good luck R.  May you make many happy memories amongst friends and family in your new home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Last Saturday was the family’s official, final walk-through at our parents house.  We were lucky enough to go from listing to signing in just over a month.  All the cleaning and sorting has been done, the house has been vacuumed a final time; there will be one last mowing.  My sister brought Dad for a visit from the nursing for him to see it before it is no longer ours.  He is frail enough that we two girls, and my young sons were able to lift him in his wheelchair into the house.  He asked, “so there won‘t be a place for me to come home to?“ and then, “Isn’t it a shame it’s not going to be our house?”  

It is a shame, but it would be a greater still to let it fall into disrepair.  I don’t think he was quite ready to accept this.  S. Drive had been his home over sixty years since taking it from run-down military housing to a tight home in which to raise his family.  He is too old and dependent on help to stay there alone.  He cannot comprehend his inability, and we all have our own lives which consume so much of our time.  

As I walked behind his wheelchair through the echoing empty rooms, I imagined it through the lens of his eyes over sixty years ago.  It was a big deal to have a house of his very own to work it as he saw fit, developing skill as he went along.  He had quite the list of  projects he would undertake over the next several decades: refinished hardwood floors, knotty pine walls and hand-built kitchen cabinets.  He’d built solid flat rock walls, stairs, brick driveway and fireplace.  He worked not only within the perimeters of his house, but at the neighboring houses as well.  It’s hard to let it go, but let it go we must.  Dust in the wind.

The light uninterrupted, through windows pooling,  falls on the honey colored floors.  Breezes blow through windows left open carrying the scents from the gardens in varied bloom.  I said good-bye to my childhood rooms, where I’d listened to the crickets and watched for fire flies in the summer.  I took one last look out windows where I’d wondered at my future.  In the basement, I touched now barren walls which once held my father’s woodworking tools and treasures from scavenging deep in the woods for rocks for his walls. I whispered a farewell to the kitchen and my mother’s Sunday dinners, holidays, baking, the sounds of her singing, her special hugs.  Only now as I write this do the tears start to roll.  

My Mother kept us all together; family was important to her.  She‘d come from one coast to the other, leaving a huge extended family to start a life here with our father who‘d not been so fortunate.  She was good to us all, patient and soft spoken and tough where it counted.  When she lost all her memories, I began to let go, preparing.  We kept up our visits with Dad at the house, a difficult man though he’d always and continued to be, until his well-being was more than could be handled throughout the week.  

We let go now another thread in the skein of our lives and go on.     

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I am proud of my oldest son.  He has been dealing with a distant relative of sorts who, after ignoring him for six months, has recently been attempting to hold him partially, erroneously  responsible for their distance.  He has held is ground, unwavering in his position and recognized his autonomy.  He has thought out each response, each reply and measured his reaction to their folly.  He has come both to his father and I for advice and I have offered him the tools with which to think for himself.  It was a difficult thing to answer when we asked, "Mom, is life always going to be this hard?"  And I had to answer him honestly.  I could not deny him the truth that life is full of obstacles and heartache and frustration.  But I was able to say too, that in knowing how to handle life's curve balls, you can better determine the ease with which you transition through it.  In the end he hugged me, told me he loved me, and I had to let a bit more of the baby faced boy go.  He is growing up.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roughly three weeks ago I lost my keys.  By the time I discovered they were missing I had lost track of days and  the ability to retrace all my steps.  After fruitless nights and weekends looking in ridiculous places inside, I had to assume they'd been lost outside in the snow on my walk to work.

The key chain contained timeworn and true, original keys to my parents house. and a special key, made by my father, which spoke of his genius in fashioning useful tools out of found objects.  He'd made it for a funky lock on their back porch.  There is a tide of emotions in those keys. 

There were keys to my sisters house.  We grew up having free entry into our parents house at any time and my mother made sure we always had a key.  She trusted us immensely, and my sister has done the same.  Her key was differentiated from all the rest by the name "Mexico" stamped on one side. 

Lastly, were my own keys.  An automatic opener (what a pain in the ass to replace) keys to our place, and all those plastic nuisances that make shopping marginally convenient.  But it was the key chain picture of my son which bothered me most.  There was something about his little plastic face laying in the snow, being run over by tires, that made me ache a little. 

I imagined all the ways in which the keys would be ignored, or dealt with.  None of them involved someone going out of their way (who does THAT anymore) one thought had someone walking around the neighborhood looking for their free vehicle by way of panic button.  I realize that was likely a stretch. You might imagine my excitement then, when my husband handed me the keys on Wednesday and told me how they'd been found. 

The keys had been discovered in a mailbox.  The owner of that mailbox walks in the neighborhood and is friendly with the crossing guard at the elementary school.  Thinking she might know the child from the picture, he brings the keys to her.  She immediately recognizes my son, and flags my husband down. 

No one had to take the time.  No one had to put thought into finding the rightful owner.  We are all busy, preoccupied, jaded in our own ways large or small about the order of the world.  The fact that through a series of otherwise simple steps, my keys were returned to me though, is a beautiful thing.  It renewed my faith in human kindness and was a great lesson for my children about the value of small kindnesses. 

I wrote a thank you note to (Judy) the crossing guard, and asked her to pass along my thank you to the mailbox owner. 
I am looking looking through the marred and aged lenses of my glasses while sitting atop crossed legs that ache from under use.  I struggle to put words to the buzz in my head and remind myself not to clench my teeth lest they fracture.  In my glass for my soul should be water but is wine while waiting for a pie to bake.  I feel a small mess but I am alive and without right to complaint.  I make my daily deals with the fates with greater control than is easy to admit.  I am growing older but I do have that and this sadness that I feel for random losses around me is misplaced.  Were I, after all, laying bent at deaths door, I would relish the taste of another day, another word spoken, another chance.  I cannot let that go to waste.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Photographs

I love those moments when something becomes crystal clear, the moment, or person or place is unquestionably real and present.  I suppose if I were a practicing Buddist I might experience them more, but I prefer serendipty.

I have never been a fan of posing for a photo, but I am less a fan of those candid shots where my mouth hangs open, or my eyes are half closed.  I have relented in recent years, to smiling for a camera, especially with my boys who some day will no longer be children and who will have lives of their own.  Sometimes, I see myself as an old woman looking back and wondering if any of it really happened.  Was any of it real?  I will have these photos to jog, if I am lucky, a struggling memory.

In photos I can see that which I miss when looking at an object, or in the mirror.  So often I am harsh of my enviornment, or my study of such.  A photo allows me an objective view that I would otherwise miss.  Perhaps this isn't living to some.  I am intersted in knowing other's perspective of this.

I have been looking through photos which belonged to my parents.  It is sad on the one hand because so many are not marked and so the history is lost.  But it is lovely on another because clearly, these people lived and breathed a life of their own.  There are bits of drama, play, romanticism.  I am here, because two people met during the war, fell in love, had a life, birthed life.

In these cold and wintery months, I hope to bring these photos to new life.  To look at them with a new perspective, to realize a life lived, and lives still ripe with opportunity because of them.