The wedding of my best friend’s son

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There is a time in your life when you get invited to a lot of weddings. For a long period of time, that time was over for me.

Last year the last of my friends turned 40. Last year the first of my friends started turning 50.

It’s strange, I’m starting to get invited to weddings again. This time for my friend’s children. Ted turned 50 this last week and ended the week with his 25 year old son getting married.

Ted and Cindy are very excited that their son choose a wonderful partner to marry. I suppose as parents you couldn’t ask for more.

The wedding itself was held outdoors in a garden. It was a little stressful because it was supposed to rain. We could hear thunder in the distance all morning. I worried that perhaps I missed the call that the wedding would be moved elsewhere. We were in the boonies with limited cell phone reception. We brought umbrellas, but didn’t end up needing them.

Despite the forecast, the wedding went without a hitch unless you count the bride and groom. The ceremony itself was short and sweet. The longest part of the wedding was the procession with somewhere around 10 couples that stood up. The pastor was a newly ordained friend of the groom. There wasn’t a sermon. We didn’t sit long enough to shift around on the hay bales.

That evening at the reception hall, I felt a little old. I was tired. I felt rather mopey. Cindy was having a great time and dragged me out on the dance floor. I made a conscious effort to get out there and have fun. We were at a wedding, a grand celebration of love. I am a marathon runner for crying out loud. I can’t be sitting around watching the young folks dance.

I knew their son since he was little.

I really wasn’t expecting to feel nostalgic. I wasn’t expecting that I would need to hold back tears as the bride walked down the aisle with her dad. I wasn’t expecting to have watery eyes thinking about kids growing up and leaving. I wasn’t expecting to feel pensive and sad on a very happy day. Emotions can be funny that way…

I’m not ready for this.

This was the first wedding of a close friend’s child. I didn’t expect that it would be so emotional.

I love weddings…

 

perspective

This morning I paced the floor. I felt anxious and stressed. Only 8 1/2 months to go. But who’s counting?

He overslept. Things were going so well the whole two days since school started, until today that is. He left at the time he should’ve been at school which is problematic since we moved further away. He had over a half an hour drive before picking up two friends on the way.

My son will be the death of me. If I disappear from the bloggosphere someday, you’ll know why.

Being late stresses me out. But since I am not one to be late, I am stressed out vicariously through my kids.

It put me in a really negative and anxious mood. I know I shouldn’t let my kid’s tardiness affect my day. But it is hard to just let it go sometimes.

Then I opened up Facebook this morning and saw a memory from a race I ran several years back with Lisa and her teen daughter that recently passed away in a car accident. We all placed in the small town race and were showing off our medals. Lisa’s daughter won’t be going to school today. She won’t be graduating, going to college, having a family…any of that. Maybe if she overslept she would still be alive, instead of falling asleep behind the wheel.

It really puts things into perspective.

Will my son’s tardiness be something that I will think about next year? It is incredibly frustrating today. Sometimes I need the little reminders to be thankful for the days we have together. I only have a few months left with him under my roof.

I’m trying to let go and not let his mistakes ruin my day.

 

Luke’s visit, part 2

I suppose since you have a big house now that you will be hosting Christmas this year.

It wasn’t the first time I heard this comment…

I told Luke that I didn’t really like an aunt and uncle of ours.

Why?

Because of the time that they came over for supper when we were kids.

What about it?

They had the house with the piano. They wanted us to come live with them if mom and dad left us forever. That evening while we were eating, Matt hurt our aunt. It wasn’t unusual for Matt to hurt someone.  It was our aunt who was acting strange. She locked herself in the car crying hysterically. She could not be comforted. I’ve never seen her so upset before or since.

Suppose that our aunt was attacked and Matt triggered her memory of it.

Aunt left and didn’t come back. They said that they didn’t want us to come live with them in their house with the piano anymore.

Who told you that?

Mom. She cried and said that no one cared. She said things would be different if her mom was still living.

How old were you?

I don’t know, maybe 8 or 9.

You were too young, why would she tell you that you were unwanted?

Something strange happened in the course of our conversation. For the first time I was able to see the event through adult eyes.

I was able to let go of the rejection of 30+ years. My aunt has always been kind to me, but I didn’t trust her since that night. Other family members cared. They were busy living their own lives. Some were only a few years older than me. They saw what was happening but didn’t know what to do about it. Some lived far away. The ones that were near did help.

My mom just needed more help than anyone could reasonably provide.

So I became the helper. I became the adult.

I have forgiven my family.

Someday I will forgive my mother too for my lost childhood and for giving me this heavy weight to carry. I think it is time to start unpacking my baggage.

 

Moral dilemma 1

My daughter Angel has a new love interest who I am going to call Dan. Now Dan is also a friend of my son Alex. Alex and Dan ride motorcycles together. Maybe you can see where this one is going…

Angel thought that it would be fun to ride on the back of Dan’s motorcycle for her first motorcycle ride..

Here comes the dilemma…Alex, Dan, and Angel wanted to go for a ride but only had 2 helmets. So my son decided to sacrifice his helmet for his sister. Sacrifice is probably pushing it quite a bit since I think he wanted to have a good reason for us not to be angry that he was riding without a helmet.

I don’t think the ride went all that well. It rained a bit. Alex bought a piece of junk motorcycle with his tax return money from working all last summer. While they were riding, a piece of Alex’s motorcycle flew off and hit Dan in the leg. Dan has a huge welt on his leg but kept control of the bike. But Angel loved it and has been riding ever since.

Alex and Angel have been exchanging the helmet and apparently now the current status of the helmet is lost. Wonderful! Now what should I do?

And I thought worrying about one kid on a motorcycle was bad!

 

On emptying the nest

My son didn’t come home last night.

It’s not that I was angry. I felt worried. He was planning on going to a late night movie with a friend, but he arrived too late as is customary of him. So he ended up spending the night at his friend’s house after the whole movie idea didn’t work out.

I had no problem with his plans…except the part where he didn’t tell me which wasn’t like him.

I told him that I was going to bed when he left last night. But I woke up several times during the night and started to text and call when he wasn’t home by 1:45 AM. When are you coming home? Are you okay?

He didn’t answer my calls or texts. I fell asleep on the couch near the front door with my cat. At 4:30 AM I awoke to the wheezy sound of my cat starting to puke with the projected target being the back of my head. I woke in a flash hurtling my cat away from my head and towards a carpet free patch of flooring. At 4:35 AM, I was stumbling around cleaning up cat puke in the dark. My son still wasn’t home.

I hardly got any sleep at all. As the operations manager, I had a lunch meeting scheduled along with our sales guy with one of our biggest clients who is expanding to several new offices. This would be my first time meeting this client in person and I would have to make sure I was on my feet the whole time after a sleepless night.

I went to work, still no son. I texted his girlfriend for clues. Finally after 10 AM, I heard from my son. PTL, he was alive! He said that since he got to the movie too late that he just decided to sleep over at his friend’s house instead. He didn’t want to bother me because I said I was going to bed when he left. He didn’t want to wake me up. Ha! He didn’t receive all of my calls and texts because he was already asleep.

Someday maybe he will learn that a parent can never fully sleep while waiting for a child to come home.

Soon he will be a child no more. Three more days until he is an adult.

My friend asked me if I had the talk with him yet…the talk about him being an adult with an underage girlfriend. I had a dream the other night, a dream that his girlfriend was pregnant. I awoke from the nightmare at 6:16, the date of his birth 6/16.

Ah, if only I could be so lucky to have one worry at a time!

 

Why God? Why??

I didn’t recognize her at first. I think that was one of the hardest parts. I just saw her a couple of weeks ago.

She talked about how busy she was then…with a son graduating from college and moving back home. Her other son was finishing his first year of college and moving back home. She needed to get a storage shed. But we should really get together for lunch sometime.

She left a message asking for a call back.

I forgot my phone at home that day, which never happens. I got home with enough time to grab my phone and leave for the band concert. My car was left running in the driveway when I got her message. Never mind calling her back, she was probably on her way to the concert as well.

Her voice sounded strange. I asked my daughter if something was wrong. Jen’s daughter and mine have been good friends since they were babies. Is there something you aren’t telling me? Is there something I should know? 

Jen has been my daughter’s coach for the last 5 years. It was hardest for me to tell her that I was moving, leaving. I was sad that my daughter wouldn’t be on her team next year. But I didn’t know then that things would never be the same for other reasons…

After the concert, an elderly woman approached me. Perhaps she was confused. She acted like she knew me. I didn’t know her. When she opened her mouth, she whispered…I’ve been sick.. I recognized that voice. Jen? I have cancer…incurable…inoperable.. What??

At one time, I considered Jen to be my best friend. Our daughters were best friends. Jen is truly a good person. She is a better person than me. She is a good wife and mother. She would give you the shirt off her back if she needed it herself.

When the kids were little, she volunteered a lot at the school. She was a board member for the parent teacher association. She chaired several book fairs, I co-chaired. She helped me start a babysitting co-op. She was always an active church member. She did more than her part to try to make this world a better place.

We didn’t see each other as much once the children got older. We weren’t needed as much anymore at school. She got a job. I also worked. Her mother got cancer and she was needed there. It seemed like we saw each other less and less with each passing year. But every once in awhile we met up for lunch or went out.

It took everything I had to not break down in front of all of those people. I cried all the way home. I didn’t sleep well last night.

It hurt to see her husband have to help her out of her chair. She seemed so feeble and weak. I don’t understand. She didn’t smoke. She rarely drank. She exercised, made a point to make her family healthy meals, wasn’t overweight, and in general lived a healthy lifestyle. How could this happen?? It’s not fair!

She quit her job. She was too sick to go to her son’s college graduation. Nothing would’ve stopped her from going to that.

Why God?? Why? She is in her 40’s. She still has a child at home. She was fine a couple weeks ago. Now she looks like she is in her 80’s. The color in her face is wrong. I’ve seen this before. She looks like my mother-in-law did right at the end of her struggle with cancer. Skeletal, feeble, and old. I didn’t even recognize her! The last time I saw her a couple weeks back she was vibrant and full of life! How could this happen in such a short period of time?? How could God let this happen??

I remembered all of the good times together…the play dates with the kids, trips to the zoo, camp fires, days spent at the beach, boating, visiting their cabin, winter days spent searching records together for our genealogy hobby…Now all of this is gone. Her future gone. The dreams she had for retirement gone. The rest of her life with the love of her life…gone! Being a grandma some day…gone. Poof, just like that. Healthy one day, dying the next.. I can’t believe it!

I don’t think she has much time left. I can’t believe this is happening. There is nothing I can do. I am in complete and total shock right now.

Last week I talked about feeling old…needing reading glasses, friends children graduating from college and getting married. But nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close friend…Death.

 

 

In the cold dark light of the full moon

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It only takes a little light to reflect the cold barren emptiness of a winter tree on the snow.

It has been cold in Wisconsin. The wind chills haven’t been above zero since who knows when..probably a couple of weeks. We haven’t noticed that much. We have been busy with the holidays.

We know the drill. It happens every year. It doesn’t snow when it is bitterly cold. The cars make strange noises when attempting to start. You don’t want to get a car wash or your car doors will freeze shut. Everything creaks, crackles, and moans under the heavy weight of the bitter cold. People die.

People die! I knew it would happen on New Year’s Eve especially. The reports of the deaths. I live in the drunkest state next to one of the drunkest cities in the United States. I predicted that if the Packers were having a better year, the death toll would be higher. The bitter cold usually starts this time of year, but this year it hit us a little early. It started over Christmas…the home Packer game…Christmas weekend and New Year’s Eve…the drunkest time of the year near the drunkest city in the drunkest state. The roads are hazardous not just for the cold, ice, and snow ya know.

Drinking is our culture. It just is. I am a big proponent of designated drivers, but sometimes you can’t trust that will even work. People get carried away. Blame it on the cold harsh climate.

I worried the weekend of New Year’s Eve. My daughter Angel drove to Madison to go to a party with friends. My son was who knows where. Every day I would be in touch asking where he was and what he was doing. Every day my son stopped home and my heart rejoiced that he was alive. It’s not always them I worry about…it is the others on the road. How do I keep them safe? It is surprising that I am letting go at all.

I worry about the drunks on the road. I worry about car trouble in the bitter cold remote areas with no cell reception. Or what if I am sleeping and don’t hear the phone? I worry about car accidents on slippery heavily wooded winding roads.

My deepest fear is that my children will die if I am not in control. If I don’t pay attention, they will be gone. If I don’t notice a problem, they will slip through my fingers forever. It is really rather horrifying since I am not in control. I never was in control even when they were babies. I couldn’t control if they got sick. I couldn’t even control if they decided to sleep through the night. As they got older, the feeling of being out of control grew and festered in my soul.

I try to let go and let God, but then grab the reigns back again chaffing my hands not able to get a grip. This worry, this anxiety, has been a constant thorn in my side. I feel if I let go of my little iota of control, then my children will die and I am responsible. It is completely illogical and irrational as most fears are.

Do all mothers of teenagers feel this way? Or do I just take it to the extreme since I am anxious to begin with? Or maybe having 3 teenagers is enough to set the sanest person over the edge?

Storms of Christmas past

This year my youngest daughter had her first high school choir concert on the day that my grandma died.

Let’s take a trip back in time to 1967. I wasn’t born yet. My mom was 19. My dad went off to Vietnam.

It was Christmastime. My grandparents were in the process of moving to a new town for my grandpa’s new job. My grandma was 43 and pregnant. Her oldest child, my aunt, was out of the house, married, and expecting her first child. My mom was in college. There were five children left at home and a new baby on the way.

My grandma wasn’t feeling well with her eighth pregnancy. She was on bed rest at the hospital but wrote letters to her family at the new house where no one knew them.

There was a snowstorm the night that she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. After the little baby girl took her first breath, my grandma took her last breath.

This month the baby girl turned 50. She had a big weight to carry the day she was born. She took the last breath of a mother of 8 when she took her first. I think she always felt guilty about it although no one could logically blame her for something not of her choosing. Then she took the life that her mother sacrificed to give her and made a big mess of it.

This month Uncle Rick threw my aunt a 50th birthday party before the choir concert. It was both a joyous and solemn occasion. Before the party, the siblings tearfully read the last letter that their mother wrote the night before she died. It wasn’t carefree and happy like the rest. It was as if she knew it would be her last.

At the choir concert that night, I sat with my mom on the 50th anniversary of her mother’s death. She told me that her mother was my age when she died and she was the same age as my oldest daughter. I felt sorrow for my mother. She really needed to have a mother in her life as the path she beat down was always rocky.

That night, I watched others perform my daughter’s songs from when she was in high school. My oldest daughter was not able to be there. It was hard to hear someone else sing ‘her’ songs. It hurt. Time was slipping by way too fast. It was also difficult to sit next to my mother on the anniversary of her mother’s death. I could feel the loss, the sadness, the nostalgia, the longing for something that was no longer there envelop me.

When did it happen?

A couple weeks back on my way into the gym, I saw an elderly lady with two little kids. The little ones outran their grandma and entered the building with me. I got quite a few smiles and happy looks from strangers. People thought the children were mine and were giving me the ‘your kids are sooooo cute’ face.

When did my kids stop being cute?

I felt a little sad for awhile. I hadn’t realized that I haven’t gotten that mother of little kids look for a long time.

When did my kids grow up?

This past weekend, my nieces who are 8 and 10 stayed overnight at my house last minute. Angel was babysitting for another little girl at our house that was 8. We had a girl party. We played Just Dance and painted nails. Even my ‘baby’ was a big help entertaining the girls.

When did my daughters transition from girls to young women?

When it was bedtime, I put a show on to try to get the girls to settle down and fall asleep. But I was the only one that fell asleep. I really don’t know how kid movies can captivate children, they are soooo stupid. Who writes those shows??

When did we stop watching cartoons and kid shows?

The girls had a hard time sleeping at night. Little Gracie complained about the bass pouring out of my son’s room. It wasn’t that loud or maybe I’ve grown used to the noise of having teenagers in my house.

When did my kids stop being little kids?

The next day we had the family over for Christmas. The little girls were bursting with excitement over the presents under the tree. Gracie got this bird that cracked its way out of a shell minutes after she opened the gift. Then she was supposed to raise it as a baby, toddler, and then finally a kid. But not as a teenager nor adult. It glowed different colors to communicate based on some color code on the box or something. Seemed like a big waste of money to me. But boy was that the rage.

When did our kids stop waking us up on Christmas day?

My kids got mainly clothes. Clothes! Arabella got a waffle iron. Adult stuff! No more toys. The teens mainly looked bored. The kids squealed with delight. The adults sat around acting excited about the gifts of the little kids, but it really wasn’t all that exciting anymore…the transition from child to adult.

When did my kids stop playing with toys??

I was able to find some excellent gifts for my teenagers though..

For Angel, I bought her tickets to see Lana Del Rey in concert next week. We will be traveling quite a ways, so I got a hotel room. I also bought her a Lana Del Rey t-shirt. I am excited to go with her, but was instructed not to dress like a ‘mom’.

For Alex, I got him an Ancestry DNA kit to find his heritage. It was something that he mentioned over a year ago and was very excited to receive. Rumor has it that he might have Native American roots (my husband never knew his father). Now we will know for sure. There is some mystery in what will be found.

For Arabella, I took her in today for a makeover. She got blonde highlights and black low lights. She looks very pretty and grown up.

I do miss the wonder and excitement of the younger years, but there is a certain joy to be found in letting go…

Who I was..who I am..

Is distrust bad? Why does it have such a negative connotation?

When I was about 12, I went on a trip to South Dakota with my Aunt Grace, mom, dad, and one of my brothers. Aunt Grace wanted to go there for a church conference. Although she didn’t have hotel reservations, she had my dad as a driver. We loaded all 5 of us into her little 2 door Cutlass and we were on our way.

There wasn’t a hotel room to be found in the city of the conference. But I don’t think it mattered as Grace only stayed long enough to pick up her registration bag from what I remember.

I saw an ad for an indoor water park. I begged my Aunt Grace to allow us to go. I’d never been to a water park before. Aunt Grace said ‘yes’. So once again we loaded up the car and my dad drove 2 hours to get to the water park. I could barely contain my excitement as I grabbed my swimming suit and ran indoors. We took a tour of the water park. I saw kids climbing on ropes, going down slides, and swimming in the water. I couldn’t wait to get in the water.

After the tour, Aunt Grace said that it was time to go. Wait! What??

There was restaurant across the street from the water park that she wanted to go to. I refused to eat. I wanted to go to the water park!  I begged my mom to convince Aunt Grace, but she refused. Aunt Grace is paying for the trip so we will do what she wants. I was angry, frustrated, and started to cry. Aunt Grace yelled at me for being an ungrateful child. She wouldn’t stop so I told her to shut up which to her was like screaming obscenities. She never liked me after that day..

I don’t look back on this in anger. I really don’t think that Aunt Grace even intended to be cruel. In her mind, I think she believed that she was gracious enough to take me to the water park.

I learned a few valuable lessons on that day..

First, never trust anything that anybody says. Second, don’t trust anyone until they prove to be trustworthy. Third, don’t get too excited about things that might never happen.

If I trust you, it is the highest honor I could give you.

Do you think that distrust is a negative quality to have?

I would argue that someone needs to question, doubt, test, discern, and protect oneself and others from blindly trusting. I am that person.

My childhood was difficult…and my adult years have been easy in comparison. There is a part of me that feels if I let go of my past, then I will give up my grit and toughness that came from it which makes me who I am. I am afraid of that..I am afraid of losing who I was..who I am..