Until we meet again

Grandma, I know you said it was your time to leave. I want you to come back. I long to hear your voice. We should be sitting in a small town restaurant celebrating your birthday today.

Remember the time that Matt poked me in the eye? I cried and cried. You rocked me in your arms and sang to me. I wanted to hurt Matt back. You held Matt tight in your embrace. You comforted him. You taught me to love when I wanted to hate.

Remember the night that baby Luke was born? I was 4. You put the straight section of the circular green Davenport, as you called it, against the wall for me to sleep on. I told you that I was going to sleep with gum in my mouth. You told me it was a bad idea, but you didn’t stop me. I woke up with sticky gum all over my face and in my hair. You were right. Then you slept on the other part of the couch. The street light shining in on us through the window. Grandpa loudly snoring upstairs. 

Remember the doll house you made for me? You painted the walls, made curtains out of old lace that you thumb tacked to the walls, and used buttons as light fixtures. You squeezed your big fingers in the little material to make my doll clothes. Remember my doll stroller? Remember the doll that had buttons, zippers, and ties that would help me learn how to dress myself? Or giving me your hand towels for blankets when my dolls got cold? 

Remember cooking for me? You would send me off with a jar of cookies. You would prepare a feast when I visited. Remember me asking if my stomach would explode after eating too much of my favorite soup? Then when my kids were little, you gave them a tea party with juice in little tea cups. You had little plates of cheese and grapes for them. They were so excited.

Where would I be without you? You brought peace, comfort, and stability into my chaotic life. 

I will think of you today and remember all that you have done for me. I will celebrate your life! The candles are lit without a cake. I look at your picture as I smell the sweet fragrance of your favorite perfume. It is my ritual every year. For a brief second, I pretend that you are still here. I will never forget you.  

Happy birthday, Grandma! Until we meet again…

The incident at the public library

Once, for a very short time in my life, I was a compulsive hand washer. It started after a frightening incident in the library parking lot that happened when I was 13 with my grade school best friend, Jody.

I met Jody in kindergarten. When I was really young my parents had me stay with Jody for a week when they took my brother Matt to the hospital. At the time, Jody’s parents were going through a divorce. I remember sitting on the steps with Jody at age 6 listening to her parents fight. Things may have been thrown, I don’t recall for sure. Just a lot of noise, a lot of yelling. I had my grandparents pick me up before the week was through.

I don’t know why Jody’s mom didn’t like her dad anymore. He was a fun guy. He loved to laugh and would buy us soda at the bar. One night the roads were way too icy to take Jody and I to dance class, so we went to the bar instead. He told me not to tell my mom as she would probably worry. I also went up north with Jody, her dad, and his girlfriend for the weekend. He had to stop halfway there because he was tired and needed a drink at the bar. Lots of quarters for soda that night. I think we may have even put some songs in the jukebox. When Jody turned 10 she had her birthday party at you guessed it, the bar! Jody was a lot of fun too.

When my mom told me that I could bring a friend with me to the library that night, I chose Jody. Once a month, my mom attended a support group for mothers of the disabled at the library. Most of the time the meetings ended after the library closed which is what happened that night. It was a warm summer night, so we waited for my mom in the car. We were talking when 3 older boys showed up at the car on bikes. They saw us and tried to get in the car. We locked the doors, but it was hot. We had to roll the windows down a little as the heat was stifling. The boys tried to pry their fingers in through the crack in the windows. They banged on the glass. That kept trying the car handles over and over, rattling on them, trying to get in. They taunted us, put their penises against the glass, and held condoms against the windows. I found the incident very frightening. 

It was after this happened that I washed my hands over and over. I washed them until they were cracked and bleeding. For months I refused to touch the car handles that those boys touched to try to attack us. Everything they touched felt unclean to me. I wouldn’t touch those handles even if it meant that I had to sit in the middle of the back seat. So I washed and washed until the memory and terror of that night faded. At least I had control over something. 



Bean runs

I have another confession to make. I am totally addicted to Jelly Belly jelly beans. I recently became a hummus addict too, but that is an altogether different bean. Last night we were invited to a bonfire. They had an excess of Almond Joy candy bars that my husband gladly disposed of. However, being good hosts, they noticed I was empty handed and wanted to know my poison. They gladly gave me 2 packs of Jelly Belly jelly beans. I devoured the first pack immediately. However, the second pack said energy sports beans. Oohh aahhh, that was interesting.  I decided to save those for my run today, then promptly forgot them there. 

Last year I decided to give something up for lent for the first time. Ash Wednesday fell on the anniversary of Aunt Grace’s birth and death. Yes, she passed away on her birthday! So I felt that it was a proper time. I decided to give up all snacking after supper and all desserts. I gave up cheesecake, tortes, cake, pie, pudding, ice cream, and all candy. Well, except for Jelly Belly jelly beans. But I could only eat a few at work in the morning. God knows I get paid beans!! You do know I run marathons for fun. If I start whipping myself or decide to give up beer and cheese for lent, please talk me out of it!

So if it was just a regular old candy bar, I would have said forget it after it was forgotten. But these were Jelly Belly sports beans. I NEEDED to try them. Our friends live 3 miles away. Since I was planning on running 6 miles I thought it would be perfect to run there, get the jelly beans, and run back home. But this involved change. Gulp! I run around a 6 mile block sometimes once, twice, three or more times on one run. I have been doing the same exact route for over a year without deviation. I run the same route, at the same time, on the same exact days. A couple months back a friend said that I needed to change my route to make sure that I am not favoring one leg over the other. So sometimes I run my route backwards. Lol. Change is hard. 

I know my route. I know when the train comes. I know what time the cops sit at the intersection. People know me. My haters would have to find someone else to force off the road into the ditch. My stalkers would need to find someone else to honk and wave at. People talk about me. They stop me on the road. They ask me what I am doing, when I am running my next race. They smile and wave. I recognize the bikers. I even get taunted. An older guy from church told me that he saw me walking (what!?!) and said that so-and-so who is older runs faster than me. She is better, you SUCK! I had ungodly thoughts like tripping her on the way up to communion. Terrible, I know.  Then I stalked her to find out she is a walker. Lies! Oh, the grief I get. 

So I decided to change my route just for one day and hesitantly embrace the unknown to get the jelly beans. Once I got them, I devoured half the bag on the way back. Then I thought, oh crap. What if the serving size is 2 jelly beans? I  worried that having a half a bag would cause explosive diarrhea. About scared the crap out of me. I don’t like those kind of runs. Check the label. Check the label!! Serving size, one bag. Good, good. It’s a miracle, I survived change. Now I can say I am spontaneous and open to change in arguments! Yes, but don’t expect me to change my routine again anytime soon. Unless you have jelly beans, that is. 

Confirmed, part 1 

I am sitting inside watching the rain fall like little tears from heaven. I sit and think. Thinking again. I am waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting for a large Saturday morning cup of coffee out in my hot tub. It is my tradition. 

When I think of church, I think of traditions. Rituals always done the same way. But what if it rains? What if things change? I have been to many different denominations. Even non traditional churches have their routines. The same similar structures every week. The way it starts, the way things end. The time it ends always the same. Ritualistic, though intending not to be. 

Tomorrow my son is being confirmed in the church we have chosen. It almost didn’t happen. Remember a couple of weeks back when I still wished my grandpa was here with us? He still is here. I see him reflected every day in my son. My son didn’t want to just go along with the rest of the group. He has so many questions, more than answers. Like his great grandpa, he is so full of piss and vinegar to be agreeable to conform. He felt too imperfect to be a Christian. He is honest and I respect that. 

We ended up having a long conversation with our pastor. It came down to my son having to make a decision. Are you with us or not? My husband talked to my son about leaving the door open for God. Faith is not a perfect all or nothing compartment that my son wanted to put it in. He struggles, don’t we all? He questions, shouldn’t we all? 

He decided to get confirmed. He is leaving the God door open. He made a drawing of Jesus carrying a cross through an open door. He also picked the verse of Revelation 3:20. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 

Whether we choose to believe or not, shouldn’t we always be seeking to answer the questions we have in life. To not be stagnant. To not just go with the flow. Life is meaningless without having meaning in it. 

The rain clouds parted, time for my Saturday morning ritual. Then I will put on my Martha apron, cooking and cleaning for the party tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I will be Mary. Always a work in progress….