T quit his job. Yep. His last day was Friday. By 6:00 p.m. he was home. Home here with me. After four months of living apart, we’re under the same roof once again. Two empty houses sit back at home. Neither one of them are sold. Although we have an offer pending on my parents’ home, we’re not taking that for granted. Four previous offers have fallen through at the 11th hour. T had hoped to have a job offer prior to quitting his job and moving here. Hopefully, he will by the end of this week, but that hasn’t happened yet. Finally….finally…finally after months of living apart, T took a GIANT leap outside of his comfort zone. He said a mental “F*&# it” and joined his family. Continue Reading »
I had such a bad, bad day. It sucked. After one particularly God-awful, horrible phone call, I decided to stop at 7-11 for a Big Gulp. On my way into the store for a much-needed Pepsi, I decided to throw away some trash from my car. I was so stressed out, and flustered, and upset that I accidentally threw away my car keys along with the trash. From what I understand, the cost to replace one of these keys is several hundred dollars. That wasn’t the biggest problem, though. My car was locked. Unless I found that key, I was stranded. So there I was, as if I my day wasn’t already bad enough, I had to dig through a damn trash can like a bag lady to retrieve my keys, the keys I had absently mindedly, idiotically thrown away. Yeah, my day wasn’t so great. Continue Reading »
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith was a really good read. It’s not the type of book I would normally choose, but it was quick to draw me in and keep me there. I hadn’t even realized that it was a book until my son Luke asked me to order it for him. We had seen the trailer for the movie months ago, and knew that this was one movie we wouldn’t be missing. History, vampires, Abraham Lincoln….oh, yeah! Every time we saw the trailer, we’d burst out laughing. I ordered the book for Luke, and downloaded it to my iPad for myself. It’s always fun to read a book along with someone, and we were both impressed by the historical accuracy of the book. Amazingly, the whole concept of vampire hunting was very believable. Eliminating the vampires’ perpetuation of slave trade seemed like a reasonable and logical cause of the Civil War. Continue Reading »
When I was a young(er) woman, I often used my great-grandparents as my mental guides.
Hazel and Clifford were a wonderful, happy part of my childhood. They lived on the family farm where Grandpa’s own Great-Grandparent’s had lived. To me, it seemed like they had been there forever, almost like characters out of a fairytale. Great-Grandma was a tiny, little woman who always wore a dress, old-fashioned lace-up boots, and a smile. She taught me how to gather eggs. I can see her bending down before me, the bun in her hair streaked with gray. She may have been old, but her eyes were youthful and sparkled with merriment. Continue Reading »
Last Sunday was the first time that I have felt truly relaxed in so many months. I was relaxed in a way that I knew wasn’t going to be quickly snatched away from me. I wasn’t stealing a moment. I wasn’t supposed to be doing something else. I wasn’t on my way to someplace. I simply was. It was genuine and comforting. Continue Reading »
Life has changed in unanticipated ways these past two years. Apparently, I don’t do well with change. Wait…I take that back. I welcome change, if that change is for the best. Bring on something good. Bring on something challenging even, and as long as there is a positive goal at the end of hard work, I’m all for it. I am not stuck in my ways. I am not afraid of new things or new experiences. Unfortunately, though, the past two years have been full of changes that have brought loss and pain. The past two years have been, without a doubt, the worst years of my life.
As Thanksgiving approached, I felt myself become happily excited by the thought of having all of the kids home and under one roof for the first time in months. Something strange happened, though. Each time I happily anticipated the days of togetherness, I found myself undermining my happiness. I began to mentally “warn” myself to not expect too much. When I began to picture Hallmark moments, my mind quickly turned those moments into a Lifetime drama. I pictured conflict and moments full of tension. For the first time in my life, I was afraid of having my family gathered together all in one place. I had come to expect loss, pain, failure, and dashed hopes.
To top it all off, and add to my endless stress, I was hosting the Thanksgiving feast for the first time in probably a decade. We were expecting over 20 people for dinner, and somehow in the midst of preparing the food, I had to make arrangements for someone to pick up my mother and bring her to our home. Between cooking, cleaning, and desperately wanting to redecorate the entire house, I worried that something was going to go terrible wrong and ruin the boys’ visit. I wanted so much to have this be an enjoyable, special time for them.
I had taken several days of vacation so that I could be as relaxed as possible in getting everything ready for the boys’ homecoming and Thanksgiving dinner. For the first time in years, I spent time alone in my own house. I puttered around, organized, and cleaned. It was a lovely feeling to get to know my own home again one on one. While I enjoyed my quiet time at home, I also realized once again how lucky I am to have a job that I love so much. I missed the hustle and bustle of the office. I missed the purpose I feel in my workday.
The boys both had midterm exams early on Thanksgiving week. They would both be taking the train home, but would not be coming in at the same time. Andrew’s train was coming in late on Wednesday afternoon. Luke was disappointed that he had a late afternoon exam. He wouldn’t be arriving until 10:00 p.m. That was OK, because his girlfriend was travelling home, too, and her parents were going to pick them both up at the station.
On Tuesday evening, the girls were in bed, and T and I had finally settled down in the living room to relax for a few moments before going to bed. We both perked up when a car pulled into the driveway. We looked out the front window, but didn’t know who it was. T walked to the back door to welcome our guest, but no one came. We rushed back to the front window. Who was it? By now, the girls had come downstairs. All four of us stood looking out the window like a bunch of hillbillies! We saw people milling about the car. It was two men. Finally, the suspense won over, and we opened up the front door (which no one ever uses) and stepped out onto the porch. I’m not sure what we were thinking or assuming, but we just stood there….looking, not making a move toward the driveway. T, the girls, and I just stood there looking out into the darkness. Then, Lola bolted past all of us. “It’s Luke!” she yelled. Hallmark moment number one was watching her fling herself at her big brother. We all ran out. He ran towards us. It was noisy, happy, and full of laughter. Luke had surprised us. He had come home a day early. I called Andrew to tell him, and he said that he could hardly wait to get home. By the next evening, Andrew was home, and my family was all gathered around the table together once again. Happiness. It was real. Even after the past two years of hell, I was feeling crystal clear, pure joy.
Those days when all of the kids were back home were like none other I have experienced as a mother. This visit was different. We all seemed aware that these moments of family togetherness were now a rarity. What was once a common, everyday part of our lives, was no more. Luke lives in Milwaukee. Andrew lives in Chicago. They don’t just go to school in those places. It is where they live. They have signed leases. They won’t be coming back next summer. Home is now a place where they visit. Of course, it is still their “home,” but it is no longer where their lives take place. It’s where their memories are kept. It’s where we gather as a family. Although these facts were not spoken aloud, we all felt the change. A new season, new dynamics, more changes had occurred in our family.
Thanksgiving day was wonderful. I loved cooking, and T was a huge help. I loved having the house full of family. My mother was on good behavior. The kids’ significant others joined for the day, too. Emily’s boyfriend, who is absolutely wonderful, was also home from college. It was his first time meeting the extended family, and as expected, they all loved him, too.
The biggest pleasure of all was the day after Thanksgiving. While many people were hitting the Black Friday sales, we all headed out to the country. Ever since I was a little girl, I have attended “Julmarknad” (Christmas Market) in a tiny village near my town. I was shocked and filled with pleasure when boys both asked if we would still be going this year. We headed out the next day, Christmas music blasting. We feasted on Swedish rye bread and bought candy sticks in the general store. On the way home, we pulled over to the side of the narrow country road to give Emily’s boyfriend, who grew up in a city, a chance to pet a cow. It was a wonderful, wonderful day. Many times that day, I held tight to moments I knew were perfect.
I had not planned any of the kids’ time beyond Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t expect the boys to hang out at home during their visit. I had expected the usual comings and goings as they visited friends or invited people over. That was fine with me. I knew I would be happy just to visit with them during the times in between. That didn’t happen, though. They didn’t run around very much with friends. They didn’t invite their buddies over. For the most part, they were happy and content to be at home. It was a wonderful surprise. We sat up late and talked. We watched movies. We ate, and we napped. It was truly a wonderful visit. No, it wasn’t a Hallmark movie, but thankfully, it wasn’t a Lifetime drama, either. It was my life, and it was wonderful.
“It takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence, and absence to value presence.”
Today I caught myself smiling. It was a real and genuine smile, AND…it’s November. I was amazed. As I walked down the hall to a meeting, I was still smiling. Someone passed me, and they smiled back a little curiously. I don’t even know why I was smiling. I’m not sure if I even had a reason. If I had to pick one reason, I would say that I was smiling from relief. Another BAD November anniversary has passed, and it was easy to see how much better my life is right at this moment than it was last year at this time.
For all of us, life has a way of going in a direction of its own choosing. Who among us is exactly where they thought they would be or doing exactly what they had planned? I would venture a guess that there are relatively few of us lucky enough to have life cooperate to such an extent.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
~ John Lennon
As for me, I am waking up from a shell-shocked two years of my life. Escaping from the hell of depression is a pretty f-ing happy feeling. That is why I am smiling. YES! I know that there will be more sad times. Depression has a way of wrestling its way back into your life, but TODAY, not today. So I am happy.
I feel a tinge of fear along with this happiness. I am excited to have all of the kids home and under one roof next week for the first time in months. I’m so excited, and so unused to feeling good, that it scares me. I don’t want to jinx this feeling.
I spoke to both boys this week about their travel plans. They both seem excited to be coming home, too. Each of them asked me about a traditional day-trip we take each year on the day after Thanksgiving. “Are we still going to go?” I was taken aback. I didn’t think either of them would want to go this year. They have such a limited amount of time for this visit. I assumed that they would spend Friday catching up with their friends. I felt humbled and honored that they were both saving that day to be together with their crazy, old mom.
Andrew called last night around 10 p.m. He was absolutely beside himself with enthusiasm and excitement. He had just finished his first film shoot where he was head sound guy. He’s involved in making a short ( 10 minute) film on location in Chicago. I’m not sure if I have ever heard such excitement, hope, and joy in his voice. I have never felt such happiness in another person’s joy. I’m praying, keeping my fingers crossed, and sending positive energy that he stays on this path of finding the happiness in his life.
And now the one confession that I have to make. Oh, I wish I would learn to mind my own business, and T is about fit to be tied with me. I sent Katy (Andrew’s beloved ex-girlfriend) an email. All I said was “Hi, Katy. I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you and hope things are going well.”
That one email turned into a series of messages. (What did I think would happen???) I caught her up on my family, and she told me what was going on with her sister and parents. Her life hasn’t been easy this past year. Her sister has been sick with a blood disease. Her father (a mortgage broker) fell on hard times due to the downturn in the economy. I think I knew these things from the final months when Andrew and Katy were still together.
What I did not know was that Katy spent all of her remaining college money on her sister’s medical treatments. She is now in her final year of school and has enlisted in the Army. They offered a full scholarship for her remaining education, and she will be going into the service as an engineer. Good for her. What a good sister and daughter! And now the problem… When Katy was in basic training last summer, a congenital heart condition was discovered. (Does everyone I know have one?) Katy will be having heart surgery in December.
The emails between Katy and I were actually quite brief. In no way did we discuss Andrew and Katy’s relationship. I have no idea if there is anyone special in her personal life. I have no idea if she told me about the surgery assuming that I would tell Andrew. I have no idea what to do! T says that I need to say, “Good luck to you and happy holidays.” In other words, he thinks I need to back off and stay out of it. I’m not sure. Like usual, my heart says one thing, and my head says something completely different.
I haven’t said a word to Andrew. I haven’t even mentioned Katy’s name to him. I will take T’s advice and stay out of it. I’m certainly not a matchmaker, and I’m too jaded to believe in the fate of true love. If Katy wants him to know, she will tell him herself. I will back off and wish her well. In my heart, though, I will say a prayer for her, and for them, and for true love.