Prove them wrong

Never let someone’s opinion of you define who you are. Sometimes they make mistakes too.

Although I may be in over my head this time.

Last week my daughter Arabella and I tried out for the local community theater musical. I got cast in a very challenging vocal part. The director said she was happy that I tried out because she didn’t think that many people could handle the part. How horrifying!

Yesterday, I talked about how I wasn’t very athletic in school and now I am a marathon runner. When I was a child, I really wanted to be a singer. But I allowed a teacher to crush that dream.

The choir teacher was the same person that axed me as a cheerleader in middle school. In my defense, when I auditioned to be a cheerleader I had the flu. I stayed home from school the day of auditions with a high fever. The choir teacher said that if I wanted to try out I had to audition on that day, no exceptions. That evening I went to school with the flu and auditioned.

Now in her defense, I couldn’t do splits or flips like some of the other girls and was probably clinically depressed since grade school. Having the flu didn’t help with my audition either as you can imagine.

I wasn’t a good athlete and don’t blame her for not selecting me to be a cheerleader. But I always thought I was a good singer.

More than anything, I wanted to be in the high school jazz choir. But I didn’t bother trying out. The choir teacher didn’t like me. I’m not even sure why, I never did anything to her. There were certain teachers though that did not like me based on my autistic brother’s behaviors. Perhaps you have been judged for a sibling’s misdeeds? It sucks! There were certain old school teachers that blamed my mother for my brother’s autism back in the day and I think she was one.

The choir teacher picked a song for solo and ensemble for me. On the first practice, she told me I was a horrible singer and there was no way I was ever going to compete. I was so humiliated. Maybe I really did suck?

Remembering her words and cheerleading tryouts, I didn’t bother auditioning for jazz choir.

I gave up my dream. In college I wanted to audition for choir, but didn’t think I was good enough. It wasn’t until many years later that I started to sing in front of people again. Wow, you are very good at singing. You must have been a star singer in high school. What?

Now my daughter Angel is going to college for vocal performance. She has a very similar voice to mine. She has been to many competitions around the country and has done very well.

The choir teacher could have made a positive impact on my life. She could have encouraged me and worked with me to make me a better singer. She could have given me something to take me away from my troubles at home. But instead, she squelched a dream.

The choir teacher, whether she knew it or not, changed the path that I chose to take. She was a horrible teacher. I wish I didn’t give so much credit to her opinion.

Challenge accepted, I’m going to do the best I can at this role. Maybe I will dedicate this show to proving my choir teacher wrong.

Moral dilemma 3

We recently found out that our youth director at church moved in with her boyfriend. She divorced her husband a couple of months back and shortly thereafter moved in with her new boyfriend.

This has been tearing the church apart.

There are those that say it doesn’t matter what she does outside of her job. If she leaves, then this group will leave with her. There are others that say they don’t want the moral leader of their children showing them that it is okay to leave your husband and take on with another man. If she doesn’t resign from her position, another group will leave.

I am not judgmental or a prude, but I personally believe that the person who is getting paid with my tithe money should ascribe to the moral teachings of the church.

I personally do not care what two consenting adults decide to do in the bedroom, I don’t. I could care less about the living arrangements of my child’s math teacher. But they better be good at teaching math.

I wouldn’t expect a drug and alcohol counselor to be out getting drunk in the possible presence of clients. There are certain things that are expected when you take on certain job positions.

So the battle begins…the ripping and tearing starts.

I feel so torn. I really like our youth director. She is great with the kids. I even like the guy she is living with more than her husband. But that is beside the point. I can’t make decisions based on feelings.

To make matters worse, our choir director and organist recently resigned from their positions due to an unrelated matter. I have become close to the organist. She has been teaching my son how to play piano the last couple years. My son has always been a difficult teen to raise and she has been a very positive impact in his life. It pains me deeply to see her go.

Maybe it is time to find a new church home. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even want to go to church anymore. I feel so much sorrow over this.

If my children decide they want to be in a relationship, I want them to marry one person and stay married. I don’t want them to be like our youth director…several broken marriages with children from each marriage growing up in broken homes acting like everything is rosy living with a new guy.

Would I still love and accept my children even if they don’t live the life I want for them?? Absolutely, without a doubt!! I made the decision to raise my children Christian. It is not easy and I want a church that will back me up on this. Is that too much to ask?

I am not even opposed to people cohabiting, or am I? Last weekend Angel’s best friend from out of town came home with her live in boyfriend. They wanted to stay at our house for the night. I really struggled with what to do. My daughter Angel is an adult and today my son is an adult. I have a really hard time seeing my adult children and their friends as adults. To complicate things, Angel’s friend also belongs to our church. I told Angel that her friends were welcome to stay but I would be setting up separate sleeping arrangements for them.

Would I respond differently if the adults living together were my age? Would I respond differently if I didn’t still have a child in my house watching every decision I make and using that as a moral compass?

Honestly, I really don’t care what other people decide to do. It is no concern of mine. But if that person is tasked with the paid position of teaching my children Christian morals, I feel really uncomfortable with that person not practicing what they preach.

Is nothing sacred anymore, even within the church??

Moral dilemma 2

I had another moral dilemma recently…Oh believe me, the topics are only going to get progressively worse..

Recently my daughter Arabella celebrated her golden 15th birthday by having a sleepover with some friends.

I’m going to give the disclaimer right now that my kids are I are very open and honest with communication which oftentimes means that I hear a lot of things that I don’t want to hear.

Last year, my daughter wanted me to contact her friend’s mother whom I am a good friend with because her daughter was sharing with my daughter that she was very depressed. This is right around the time that her daughter came out of the closet with her close friends. It was a really hard time for her. Arabella was really worried about her.

I called her friend’s mother and told her that Arabella was worried about how depressed her daughter was. I left it at that. As of right now, I am really the only adult besides my husband and adult daughter that knows about her daughter’s orientation. It really isn’t my place to tell her parents.

But here was the moral dilemma…Arabella’s friend was in a relationship with another girl that was invited to the sleepover. I told Arabella flat out that I did not want anyone in a relationship sleeping together in my house. But remember, I was not supposed to be privy to the information.

Arabella told me that the weekend previous to her party that her two friends in a relationship were having a sleepover together at her friend’s house. Again, I felt that it was not my place to tell their parents.

Arabella told her friends that I knew about their relationship and that I did not want them sleeping together at her party. They were afraid that I would contact their parents.

It is very difficult sometimes to be a carrier of knowledge, the keeper of secrets. Sometimes I would rather be oblivious to what today’s teens are dealing with. Some days I would rather bury my head in the sand…everything is fine and dandy in la la land..

But I also want to be the adult that understands, cares, and listens. I will not break that trust unless, like previously mentioned, I feel like someone could be in danger.

Everything ended up turning out fine in the end. One of the girl’s in the relationship could not attend the sleepover, so that was one less thing to worry about.

Tonight I am hosting a sleepover at our new house for my son’s 18th birthday. What could possibly go wrong??

 

 

Paul’s journey, part 2

He spent his earliest formative years in the projects in the inner city of Chicago.

You might think that the story would’ve ended differently if Martha’s dad survived to see his grandchild arrive. Maybe he would have been a great father figure for this infant fatherless child.

Where we left off yesterday, Martha gave birth alone to a baby boy. I can imagine how frightened she must have been. Childbirth is a terrifying thought during pregnancy…rich or poor…young or old…married or alone. But possibly more so if you are poor, young, and alone.

During childbirth, Martha was in a delirious state and saw her father there watching over her. Martha cherished her father. But from what I heard, he wasn’t a very good man. He was said to be an abusive drunk.

I once heard a story of how Martha’s older brothers teamed up as teenagers and fought their father. I couldn’t tell you why. But I could tell you that it was probably justified.

I heard that he was a crooked cop. Maybe involved somehow with the mob. I also heard that he had a girlfriend and maybe even another family on the side.

I really didn’t hear anything about his character that would make me think that he would be a suitable father or father figure for anyone. If he hadn’t dropped dead of a heart attack when Martha was 12, I might not be telling the same story or this story at all.

For a short period of time, Paul had a ‘dad’.

Martha got married just long enough to change her name when Paul was 3. Martha said she left her new husband after a year because he was abusive to her son. The only thing that Paul remembers about his step-dad was that he had 2 large black dogs.

It has always been a debate in our house which is worse…not having a dad or having a terrible father. If his step-dad was truly a mean man, then perhaps he was better off without a dad. Thankfully his grandpa never was a part of his life either. He didn’t have a dad or grandpa, but some of his uncles were nice.

 

 

 

 

A few bad eggs

I recently heard a story from a friend of mine regarding her son’s custody battle for his child. Although the mother was convicted of child neglect, she still was awarded primary custody of their child at this point. Let me tell you that their son is no saint either, but he wasn’t convicted of child neglect. The child’s grandparents are heartbroken. We all knew that the grandparents would step up as the main caregivers to provide this child with a stable home environment.

Why was the neglectful mother awarded custody of this young child? According to the judge, it was because the mother grew up poor with bad parenting. She was expected to turn out bad as a natural product of her environment. The father grew up in an ideal environment and turned out ‘bad’. In a strange way, it does make sense to me. The mother started out at the bottom and didn’t move far from there. The dad started out at the top…ideal…and dropped to the bottom. Who fell the farthest? Obviously the one that started out in the top environment.

But is it the best for the child? Probably not. I think that the grandparents should bypass the crappy parents altogether and fight for custody. They are so hurt and torn up over this decision. But it will probably be the child that suffers the most.

That leads me to ask…Are children that are raised in an ideal environment expected to turn out better? Should they naturally be better parents since they were shown how? On the flip side, should it be acceptable for someone to be a bad parent after growing up in a substandard environment?

Should I be expected to be a bad parent from growing up under less than ideal circumstances?

Since my husband grew up poor without a dad, does he get a parenting pass?

Does society expect us to fail miserably at being parents?

But does that give us an excuse not to try?

Why would we want the same life for our children that we had?

How can someone parent a child in ideal conditions and yet have a child that turns out ‘bad’? Likewise, how can someone raise a child in substandard conditions and still have a child that turns out ‘good’? It’s a great mystery to me..

Neither Paul nor I grew up under ideal conditions. Yet we try to provide an ideal home for our children. Have we ever seen that? No. Do we know what the hell we are doing? No. I really hope that we are judged by where we started.

Sometimes the way we grew up hinders us as parents. It becomes another demon to outrun. We want our kids to grow up in a home environment we never had. Yet by doing so the pendulum swings too far to the other side and we end up spoiling our kids. Sometimes I resent the fact that they don’t appreciate how hard we strive to give them this sacrifice…building something out of nothing. There is a huge gap between what they have and what we did. There is no bridge between the gaps, no connection. The scale is so full on one end that they can’t view our emptiness.

I also have some really serious issues with conflict due to how I grew up. I understand that confrontation is sometimes a necessary evil of parenting, especially with teenagers. What I wasn’t expecting was it to trigger extreme anxiety within me from growing up in an abusive home. I admit I am not the most relaxed peaceful person…but I avoid conflict at all costs. I even avoid conflict at the cost of disciplining my children when they need it.

I attempt to stop my husband when he tries to discipline the children in a healthy way because it sets off panic within me. Sometimes I hide things from him. I try to paint things better than they are just because I cannot stand the feelings conflict triggers. So my kids can walk all over me. I have taken away all of my husband’s power and my own. My unhealthy desire for a lack of conflict ends up creating more conflict.

It is hard to be a good parent when you grew up in a less than ideal home environment. Where do you turn for sound advice? Imagine being a father when you never had one. Maybe our kids won’t turn out the way we want them to. Maybe the gap is too wide to cross. Maybe we will always struggle. I don’t know, but I can tell you this…we tried our best. I hope they realize that when they look back someday.

I wanted a dad…

I wanted a dad that would hold my hand and walk with me when I was afraid.

I wanted a dad that would tell me a bedtime story, tuck me in with a hug, and kiss me good night.

I wanted a dad that told me he loved me.

I wanted a dad that wouldn’t let anyone hurt his little girl.

I wanted a dad that would teach me everything he knew without laughing at me for being so stupid.

I wanted a dad that would take me to the park and push me high as the sky on the swings.

I wanted a dad that would tell me I am beautiful, even if it was just on my wedding day.

I wanted a dad that was more interested in the things I was doing than whatever show was on TV.

I wanted a dad that showed up for special occasions.

I wanted a dad that would take me on father daughter adventures.

I wanted a dad that would tell me how proud he was of me, even if it was just for the big accomplishments like graduating from college.

I wanted a dad to ask me how my day was.

I wanted a dad that didn’t think my dreams, goals, and beliefs were a joke.

I wanted a dad that laughed when I laughed and cried when I cried, not one that laughed when I cried.

I wanted a dad that showed love to my mother, siblings, and children.

I wanted a dad that would give me advice on how to be a better person.

I wanted a dad that would buy me flowers or little gifts, even if it was just for my birthday.

I wanted a dad that I couldn’t bear to live without.

I wanted a dad to tell me that I was smart when I got good grades.

I wanted a dad that I wanted to be just like.

I wanted a dad to lift me up when I was down.

I wanted a dad that would call me names like princess or honey.

I wanted a dad to be there when he was around.

I wanted a dad that I couldn’t wait to share good news with.

I wanted a dad that I could trust with my feelings.

I wanted a dad that would say he was sorry after losing his temper.

I wanted a dad that I could see the goodness of God in.

I wanted a dad that would encourage me when I felt like a failure.

I wanted a dad that thought I was good enough just the way I am.

I wanted a dad that I would love to visit.

I wanted a dad that was fun.

I wanted a dad that cared.

I wanted a dad that I could write wonderful stories about.

But you, my love, only wanted a dad.

Oh look, a squirrel!

I had an idea that the teenage years might be hard when my oldest daughter turned 13. We were on the road…my mom was driving and Angel was in the backseat. Angel asked us, “Did either of you have sex before you got married”? I choked on my spit while my mom almost drove off the road.

Oh look, a squirrel!

Awkward silence filled the air..You see, my mom and I never really talked about those kind of things..Growing up, my friends never had those conversations with their parents either.

I remember my mom sitting me down for ‘the talk’ when I was 12. I learned about sex from a friend when I was in kindergarten..I laughed uncomfortably and walked away…it was too late, I already knew..

Paul and I decided to be open with our kids about difficult topics and they have been particularly candid with us. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile..

When my kids were young, I thought they would always stay that way. I didn’t understand why parents of teens seemed to forget how much work it was to go anywhere with a toddler or how tiring it was to stay up half the night with a fussy baby..They always said things like…enjoy it while it lasts, soon they will be teenagers…I thought their comments were cold and callous…didn’t they remember how hard it was?

Now I have teenagers and I understand. I feel like I will be the parent of teens forever. I still don’t sleep at night..

I hear empty nesters say…enjoy it while it lasts, soon you will return to a silent empty house..

It was homecoming not too long ago..I took pictures of Alex and his girlfriend Baylee. It felt strange because not too long ago I was at the same location taking pictures of Angel and Mitch…They broke up this year after dating 3 1/2 years. Mitch is now a junior in college..It did go by fast, didn’t it?

DSC_0402

Homecoming

It seems like I was running around the whole homecoming weekend…I sold tickets for the football game and watched my son play for pep band during halftime. Afterwards, I received a call from my son telling me that he appreciated that I was there. Was something wrong? Did he need money?? No, he was just showing that he cares.

I have been upset with him about going to the party in the cabin for so long now that you are all probably sick of the story. Seriously, what teen would give up a weekend at a cabin without adults and with a seemingly endless supply of liquor??

I was angry at the girl that decided to throw a party that trashed her grandma’s cabin until recently. I found out that her parents divorced in June but are still ‘together’. Her grandpa died in June…it was a hard time and her daddy didn’t leave. Her mom got into a bad accident in July and needed help…her daddy didn’t leave..Her mom got better, then the girl threw a big underage drinking party creating so much stress that…you guessed it…her daddy didn’t leave..Maybe I understand her motives now…

My son didn’t have a party at our house nor at his grandparents cabin. He helps my parents with their yard work and turns down the money they offer him.

The other day my son said that he didn’t really care about his grades because this is the only time that he has to be young and have fun without responsibilities. Besides, he said, the most successful people in his life screwed up in high school.

My brother Luke has a wildly successful career. He was a complete screw off in high school, a million times worse than my son..My husband is another, he flunked out of high school Chemistry and had to take summer school. His grades were so bad in college that he had to take a semester off. Then he turned his life around. Now he is a successful business owner…But son, I could’ve been so much more if I applied myself  just doesn’t seem to cut it.

His role models of success showed him that what he does at this time of his life really doesn’t matter in the long run. I can almost understand his logic. But what he doesn’t know is how difficult their home lives were and the obstacles that they had to overcome.

This summer my son worked for a flooring company full-time. He had to get up in the morning at the time when many of his friends were going to bed. It was physically hard dirty work. He wanted to quit many times, but kept going.. He is a hard worker and that will get him far in life.

He is also a loyal guy…he has had the same girlfriend for almost a year and a half. Baylee is absolutely wonderful and we love her. A couple of months back I overheard a boy talking about a girl he was planning on hooking up with to his seemingly disgusted mother…Since when did previously taboo subjects become public conversation?? I was mortified. Hello, I am right here!

I had another opportunity to feel thankful for my teens’ fondness for long term relationships.

We have had struggles with our son over the years..I was talking to a friend lately commiserating about our teens like they probably do about us. She said something that stuck…Has he improved over the last few years? I felt better because he has improved immensely. Look at how far he has come.

A few months ago, I had to give that same friend a call about her daughter. My youngest daughter opened up to me and told me that her friend was very depressed. Please call her mom and ask her to get help..

I have not found one person that told me the teenage years have been a breeze. If you do tell me that then a) you are lying, b) you need to write a book on how you did it because obviously you have everything figured out, or c) you weren’t there.

Yesterday my 14 year old daughter asked while I was driving…Would you be mad at me if I decide to have sex in high school or would you put me on the pill?

Oh look, a squirrel!

I have to remember that soon I will be returning to an empty house.

 

9.Ten people that influenced me

Day 9: List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

1. My grandma (my dad’s mother)

My grandma was the biggest source of comfort in my life growing up. She took time to patiently listen to me and always made my favorite meals when I came over. She is the number one person that helped me through childhood without totally cracking. Although our personalities were nothing alike, we did share some hobbies such as singing, working puzzles, and reading thrillers.

2. My grandpa (my dad’s father)

My grandpa was stubborn and tough. The last 13 years of his life, his health drastically declined and he was wheelchair bound. Being sick changed him, but through it my grandparents showed me real commitment through sickness and health. My grandma was selfless in her devotion to his care.

3. My mom

My mom was very influential. She taught me to have faith in God even when He seems far away. She showed me commitment by staying in an unhappy marriage. She gave me my strong work ethic. She taught me to find fault in others, but not in myself. I learned to worry and be indecisive from her. But I also learned patience, devotion, peace keeping, generosity, and selflessness from her. Those rare qualities more than make up for any areas that need improvement. She was the best mom anyone could ask for and my biggest parenting role model.

4. My dad

I learned from my dad not to care what others think of me through his eccentricity. He also gave me a propensity towards depression and irritation. I get my lovely eye rolls and sighs from him. He also showed me the importance of caring for my elders.

5. My brother, Matt

My autistic brother Matt has been one of the most influential people in my life. He has given me the most stories to write about. Without Matt, I would not be the person that I am today. He has changed my life so much, I couldn’t even imagine a life without him.

6. My great-aunt Grace (my dad’s aunt)

Aunt Grace was like a grandma to me. She was structured, a domineering firstborn, intelligent, perfectionistic, eccentric, and always right. She told me that I could do anything a man could do. She was the one who pushed (forced) me to go to college. We were so much alike that sometimes we clashed.

7. My husband, Paul

Paul is one of the most intelligent people that I know. He is constantly pushing me to try new things. He encourages me to be anything that I could possibly want to be. Our skill set and personalities compliment each other which allows us to be stronger unified than alone. He is my biggest supporter. I couldn’t have run a marathon without him cheering me on. He encourages me to keep on writing…

8. My daughter, Angelique Hope

Angel has restored my faith that there is goodness and light left in this dark world. She has influenced me to learn how to be a better singer.

9. My son, Alex

Alex has provided me with countless hours of entertainment. He keeps me on my feet and tests my sanity. But underneath it all, he is caring and we understand each other.

10. My daughter, Arabella Joy

Arabella has stretched me by being totally different from me in almost every way. She is very intelligent, eccentric, and a strategic/abstract thinker. She thinks outside the box and pulls me out of my black and white detailed thinking to see things from a different angle.

For good or for bad, my family has been the most influential in my life. Although it seems kind of tacky, my children have been very influential in my life as well.

3.Describe your relationship with your parents

Day 3: Describe your relationship with your parents.

My parents then…

When I was a child, my mom and I were always close. She considered me to be her best friend. As a parent, she did the best that she could and had the perfect amount of strictness. In that area, she has been my role model for parenting. I identified with my mother. She always worked hard. She rarely sat down and relaxed. She was not one to sit and chat. She was always buying gifts for me. When times were hard, she would bring home a bouquet of flowers for me. She confided in me because she didn’t have anyone else that understood.

When I was a child, I hated my father. He never hugged me or told me that he loved me. Instead of teaching me everything that he knew, he told me I was stupid for not knowing what he knew. He never set aside time to spend alone with me. He ridiculed my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams. He was very lenient. He didn’t care when I came home, who I went out with, or what I did. He never sympathized with me. He never comforted me and told me things would be alright. He was never on my team. He never took an interest in my life. He never had patience for me. When the going got tough, he checked out emotionally. If he was forced to deal with me it was usually with irritation, anger, or harsh words. He never said that he was sorry. Our relationship was generally negative.

My parents now…

Fast forward the clock 30 years..

My mom and I are still close. Sometimes I resent her for not giving me a childhood. Sometimes she resents me for having healthy children and a loving spouse, things she always wanted. There was a rough patch in there after my autistic brother Matt attacked my daughter. I felt that she sided with Matt over me. But that was many years ago now. Over time, the rough seas smoothed out into reflective glass. We lived through some very difficult times together. Despite everything that happened, we are still very close. My mother has my utmost respect and admiration for her perseverance through hard times.

My dad and I still aren’t very close, although we probably get along better now than we ever have before. All in all, I don’t believe that my dad is a bad person. But when he had to step up to the parenting plate, he failed miserably. For this reason, we will never be close. I no longer hate him. I pity him for his weakness. I feel sorrow for the relationship we never had and never will have.

My mother, my heroine

My mother’s life has been anything but ordinary. She was born prematurely in a foreign country. Despite my grandmother taking medication to prevent premature labor, my mother arrived early at a hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, after my grandma flew several hours to see her husband who was stationed there in the Navy. She weighed 4 lbs and stayed in an incubator for a month. This was in the 1940’s and she wasn’t expected to live. 

My mom grew up in a rural community and met my dad in a one room schoolhouse. Her family was poor and she spent most of her summers picking cucumbers for a local factory to help support her family. She didn’t have a lot of time to play and had one doll. As a teenager, her mother died after delivering her eighth child. My mom was in college at the time and spent her weekends helping take care of her 6 younger siblings. My dad went off to Vietnam. He came back a different person. College finals were cancelled due to war protests and bomb threats. 

My parents eloped. My dad went to work on their wedding night, my mom cooked for their sponsors. The night ended with freezing rain. My mom wondered if she made a mistake. My dad started drinking a lot. He was depressed and sat around with a gun in his lap staring off into space. He was going through PTSD after Vietnam. He drove a tank in the war and one day all of his buddies died in that tank. He was the only one that walked away unscathed. He became abusive and mean. My mom wondered if she made a mistake. My mom got pregnant with me. When I was a month old, a tornado was headed towards the trailer park we lived in. Sirens blared, it was time to take shelter. My dad just sat in his chair and stared. My mom decided it was time to pack up and head back home, they were hours away from family. 

My parents lived with my dad’s parents for 2 years while they built a house and started a new life. My dad stopped drinking. My mom got pregnant again. They moved into their new house and planned on having 2 kids. Their plan for 2 kids ended up turning into 4 kids within 5 years. Their second child was violently autistic. My parents fought constantly. My mother wondered if she made a mistake. My mom was very beautiful with plenty of opportunities to leave my dad. A best friend’s husband wanted to plan a hook up with her up north. No one needed to know. Another friend’s husband kissed her. I just found out about this and he was a great guy. Guess who I ran into right after she told me? Other men pursued her, but she ran away from them instead of running away with them. That was one of my mom’s greatest strengths, staying committed to a marriage she was miserable in. This is such a rare quality nowadays.  It is hard to live up to parents who have a wonderful marriage. It is even harder to live up to a parent sticking with it when given ample opportunity to leave. 

My mother was the family breadwinner. She is still working full-time at 67. She was emotionally strong when faced with many difficult life situations. She was there for us when my dad couldn’t take it. She has patience when others have none. She is a hard worker. She handles difficulties with ease. She has been an anchor through all of life’s storms. I am proud and honored to have her as my mother. What a blessing her life has been to me and many others. She has been a lifelong advocate for the disabled and their parents. She has helped many with her empathy and compassion. She has been very generous with the gifts she has been given. She is one strong woman. 

Happy birthday, mom! I love you.