“Calvin: Dad where do babies come from?
Dad: Well Calvin, you simply go to Sears, buy the kit and follow the assembly instructions.
Calvin: I came from Sears?
Dad: No you were a blue-light special at K-Mart – almost as good and a lot cheaper!”
― Bill Watterson
My baby is having a baby. It’s weird to say, even more bizarre to think about. J is due tomorrow, October 8th. I don’t know if the new arrival will come on time, early or be delayed because he needs a little longer to bake at 98.6 degrees.
One of mine was a few days early, the other was about a week late. I know that at this stage in pregnancy, there is nothing more miserable than the heat of summer and the readiness that comes with a child sitting on your bladder. There is a special feeling when you are kicked in the liver or spleen or when a foot / elbow lodges itself under your ribs. Yes, indeed. And those moments when your mammary glands leak at the most unsuspecting times or when you want to tie your shoes and you can’t find your feet are the stuff memories are made of.
But through all of the discomfort, there is a little life inside that makes it all worthwhile. And my baby, my youngest, is about to experience the “joy” of motherhood for the first time.
Pondering “advice” for months now, I can’t decide what to say, what to do. It’s her child, her life and I’ve offered some “suggestions” about the actual delivery. But as all grandparents before me, I figure I have to offer some words of sage advice when it comes to parenting. When my girls were born, my parents were fairly mute at the time and doled out advice through the years. I think this may be the safest and best course of action.
The only advice I can safely give her and to all parents is to love that child with all of your heart. You will make mistakes and will grieve decisions you have to make and cannot change. Love will make it better, but never easier. Love… the best advice I can give, the only thing TO give.
“For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? That I may have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”
Lou Gehrig was a gentle soul with a wicked sense of humor and was also a humble man. He was taken too young by a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As Lou died pre-“me,” I never had the opportunity to meet the baseball legend. However my father did when he was with the Yankees during Spring Training in 1936 and 1937.
Pops was a pretty good player, but never actually played a game as a first baseman. The problem? Lou Gehrig, the “Iron Horse” himself. Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games – games where he was ejected (after receiving credit because he was already up to bat), injured (including being knocked unconscious), and ill. But dad was in training with Lou (and Joe DiMaggio, Kemp Wicker, Frank Crosetti, Bill Dickie, Red Rolfe and other great Yanks) for two seasons before transferring to the minors.
Lou Gehrig impacted dad’s life quietly. He wanted to emulate the legend in many ways and Pops told me how Lou and Joe helped change his life not only on the diamond, but on the train rides to St. Petersburg, FL. Pops was a smoker on and off during his life. Trying to be “cool” like some of the other ball players, he was lighting a cigarette up on the train. Lou leaned over to my dad and instead of reading him the riot act, he softly explained to him, “If you keep that up, you’ll lose your wind.”
Dad kept in contact with Gehrig after leaving the Yankee organization and there is a letter tucked safely away written in 1938 or early 1939 (I can’t remember) to pops explaining Lou’s illness and that Eleanor, his wife, was taking care of him.
75 years after his death, Lou Gehrig seems to be finding himself in the spotlight again, not for his baseball prowess, but for the disease that took his life. I’ve been watching the ice bucket challenges on social media to raise money and awareness for ALS. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or just plain Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a neurodegenerative ailment that is as debilitating as they come to the human body and someone with ALS does NOT have a good quality of life. Gehrig died when he was just 37 years old. You don’t have to do the challenge to help a really worthy cause. To make a donation today: http://www.alsa.org/
If you want a weekend in, check out a movie called “Pride of the Yankees” starring Gary Cooper as Gehrig as well as real members of the Yankee organization: Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig and Bill Dickey. This was my father’s all-time favorite movie – most likely because of the representation of Lou’s character. To find out more about my father’s friend, Lou Gehrig: http://www.lougehrig.com/about/bio.html
Neither dad nor Lou are here today to witness the ice bucket challenge. I personally think both are probably sitting in a dugout in Heaven looking down and wondering what we’re all doing. However, I just know that as silly as dad would think the concept is, he’d agree it’s a brilliant piece of marketing in bringing awareness and funding to ALS research.
I saw this picture earlier today and remembered my dad, the old man. Pop’s spirit never waivered. Age never diminished his sense of humor nor did it take away his mind as it does many old men and women. As his youth faded, his back stooped and his steps became slower, shorter. Weight fell off of him in a way my fluffy frame could only envy. His eyes faded from blue to gray and time bleached his hair so that as he took his last breaths, it was as white as freshly fallen snow.
My father was born in 1918. I used to tell him he was born when dinosaurs roamed Earth and mentioned more than once I believed he must have had a pet stegosaurus named Clive. Occasionally I’d regale him with tales of “Clive’s Amazing Adventures” which included WWI and WWII, a trip with Amelia Earhart, Clive’s Moonwalk, standing outside the Dakota with John Lennon and listening to Lou Gehrig say “goodbye” to name a few.
Pops was a story-teller and while some of these tales were outlandish, I think he enjoyed them and came right back with his tales steeped in historical truth. He lived the events and his emotion brought those memories to life.
There’s a couple of reasons I wanted to speak about this today.
First, I got to thinking about all of the “old” characters in the movies, on television and in books. Frankly, there aren’t that many. I find they are few and far between. There is something that can be said about having an elderly character in a story – no matter what medium that character is in. I would like to see more “old” characters in books, movies and on television and ones that are not the butt of the joke (which I’m truly afraid would happen on TV.)
Second is the “why” I would like to see them. There are two reasons. One is because older characters bring a “wisdom” that generally does come with age. They have truly been there / done that and especially in books, sage advice is always a good thing. The other reason is for electronic media I think there is a lack of “aging actors.” Rene Russo said something along the lines when shooting Thor that when she came back to acting she was used to being the leading lady kissing all the gorgeous guys (Mel Gibson) and now she was playing Thor’s mother. What was wrong with that? Ageism exists in Hollywood and I would personally like to see the industry embrace older actors instead of shipping them out to pasture or limiting roles and scripts to what I consider are mundane or demeaning positions. There are exceptions, but seriously I must ask – how many actors over 65 (or 45 or 55) do you see on TV or in the movies?
My challenge to you today is when writing your piece, consider adding someone who is more advanced in years. You just might find they add something to your story that’s missing… color, wisdom and maybe my dad’s dinosaur, Clive, too.
Well, it has been a while since I have written. Congested into the past six months has been a turbulence and turmoil I had not quite anticipated. Had there been a glimmer of the mayhem to come, I might have been better suited to deal with the pandemonium. Alas, I never caught a glimpse of it. Thus, the delay in writing. My most humble apologies.
Toward the end of December I spoke of the pending move. Yoda was transferred to the Metroplex and so it began. I could go into all the gory details, but seriously, there isn’t enough time and carpal tunnel would kick in long before I’m done. But here’s the gist:
We sold the house, which wasn’t even on the market, in about a month open to close. The buyer’s lender insisted the close date be moved up two weeks. Because of the freakin’ weather, we were having the outside painted and the little house reroofed almost simultaneously. The paint wasn’t even dry on the final inspection. And that doesn’t even include the other little repairs that were made during that time.
What Yoda didn’t bring to DFW was thrown into storage during the sale of the house. The remainder of the items was thrown in literally at 8:51pm the day before we closed on the house. The storage unit locked down at 9:00pm. I have a feeling I’ll never figure out all the things that were thrown out, given to charity or are tossed in boxes here and there. (And as a side note – paying rent on storage just irks me. I want a house again. Obviously I’m feeling a bit materialistic. Maybe I need to get over that.)
So the kids moved into an apartment – the lease was signed a few days before closing on the house. Begging, borrowing and stealing came to mind when it came to the pet deposits as two of the dogs are there and one is in the Metro. Seriously… why are pet deposits so blooming high?
Meanwhile my sister-in-law/sister of my heart entered the hospital over 350 miles from her home because she had to undergo a more rigid cancer treatment – diagnosed in November with leukemia. My mom-in-law for the most part moved with her to Dallas and moved into her hospital room and helped her so much as my SIL was so weak and miserable. I mean nursing staff can only do so much, eh? This started mid-March.
Birthdays and holidays came and went and I still hadn’t heard back from the job I applied for. You heard that right. I applied for one. It’s a specialized field and the hiring process is incredibly long. So long that I didn’t go down for an interview etc for a while. However, after all this, that and the other they must have thought I could do the job because I started the second week in June. Normally, this is cause to celebrate; however, I LOVED my old job. I had planned to retire from it. This obviously didn’t happen. So while I’m mourning my old job, I move down on Sunday and start work three days later Wednesday 6-11-14.
Obviously God had his reasons for the timing of the madness.
My Yoda, dearest Yoda… He was a half-match for a bone marrow transplant. In the entire registry, he and his brother were the only ones. The transplant took place just days before he helped me move. The process made him feel “blah” to say the least. But he has the biggest heart and I’m richly blessed.
But my SIL didn’t improve much after the transplant. Apparently you have to bide your time and wait for the cells to kick in. Meanwhile, my MIL still stayed with her and cared for her. She only left the hospital for maybe a total of 2-3 weeks between mid March and June. Wow. She’s such an amazing woman.
Saturday the 14th we went to see her in the hospital after going to church. Darling SIL didn’t look so hot. I mean, sporting a hospital gown theoretically could be a sexy look. On cancer patients, not so much. However, her bald head was beautiful and her smile still so sweet. But you could tell something wasn’t quite right. She was rather “out of it” and slept most of the time we were there.
The long story short is the excrement hit the proverbial fan. I don’t remember how many calls and text messages flew back and forth over the next week, but too many to count. There were prayers lifted for my SIL all around the world. But she lost her fight to that ugly disease called cancer on Monday, June 23rd. Now the texts and calls fly because of funeral arrangements and all I can think about is that I just want to pick up the phone and hear her voice. I want to get her advice on some things and I can’t do that. I feel bloody selfish. I feel bloody miserable.
Tomorrow I leave for “home” again – a quick trip. My new supervisor allowed me the day off if I work next Friday (which I was supposed to have off), but I’m not allowed to use vacation days, sick leave etc for the first six months of employment. And a SIL doesn’t apparently qualify for any kind of bereavement leave. I don’t know that I understand, but there’s no arguing the point.
I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I am in a pretty dark place right now and I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit before I’m feeling “normal” again – whatever that is. I believe I will feel better after my SIL is laid to rest and we all gather to celebrate her life. For now, all I can do is rely on my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, to carry me when I’m weak and lift my heart from the darkness to the light.
May this letter from my new home find you in a better place than I am emotionally at this time. Always…. C
Currently, I’m sitting in the dark at the new apartment, which still doesn’t feel like “home.” I’m eating an Amy’s TV dinner and listening to Coldplay’s “Magic” while the dog looks out the window wondering if there are squirrels running amok. The weather is not bright and sunny, but sad, almost morbid. It fits my mood.
After many months, I have finally found a new job and relocated over 350 miles from “home.” This is disconcerting to say the least. For many, this isn’t anything to write about. People pack up and move all the time. But for more than a few decades, I have been in the same city of under 200k located in the middle of nowhere. Now, I’m in a true metropolis and I feel lost.
My friends and family tell me I should be happy. Maybe I should, but I’m in mourning. I miss my friends and my family left behind – especially my daughters and my mother. Right now I miss my friends at work. I know I’ll make some new friends, but it’s not feeling the same. Maybe it’s not supposed to. I don’t know.
I’m sorry this first post in a while is so depressing… I promise I’ll shake the mood after I wallow for a bit. Maybe I just need to get out of the darkness that surrounds me and wander around this new city that I now call home.
I’m sitting in my bedroom blogging this evening as my husband spends a few hours with his parents and his sister. Because my sister in law is going through some serious health issues of her own, I have been temporarilly banned from the house. Stupid flu.
This has NOT been a “normal” family Christmas. Daughter #1 worked today and is now crumpled up in bed feeling crummy. Daughter #2 has taken some Christmas food to my mother and gone to see her boyfriend and his family. They are getting older and I’m reminded of how my parents must have felt as my sister and I moved on with our lives. It’s bizarre and saddens me some.
I was starkly reminded of the first Christmases Yoda and I spent together – days when we barely had a couple of dimes to rub together, not much else than that. Those were rough, but good days. Because of the move, cash is at a premium so we drew names for gifts. This was hard because as “mom” or “dad” you want to give your kids everything. This was the first year we had to really limit ourselves so Yoda would have gas money to get back to Dallas and some grocery and laundry money as well. The gifts we exchanged were small, but from the heart. I think this is the way it should be. Forget quantity… quality is a much better thing.
As I have been grounded today, I have spent some time working on my Smash Book. It’s a non-traditional scrapbook by K&C Company that my daughters got me hooked on earlier this summer. I added a few things from a couple of my trips to New York City, San Francisco, Inn of the Mountain Gods, St. Louis, and Dallas, TX. (I think I’ve been a few places, eh?) If you are wanting something a little different for a scrapbook, but don’t want to invest the time and energy in a full-blown big one, I highly recommend a Smash Book. Awesome stuff right there. For me, each page is a reminder of how blessed I truly am.
And speaking of blessings… I pray for you and yours a Merry Christmas filled with Christ’s love, faith, hope and truth. (Whether you believe in Him or not.)
I’ll see you again on the flip side.
“Yes. I would like some cheese with my whine. Now be a doll, pour me a glass and cut me a slice of sharp cheddar.”
Last weekend, my youngest, darling daughter graduated high school. (Insert cheers and clapping here!)
After 13 years of schooling, she’s emancipated from the world of high school and all that entails. I’m proud of her, the young woman she’s become, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for her future. (Oddly enough Greenday’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” is on right now.)
J graduated Friday night and then we had a graduation party Saturday night and an “impromptu” family reunion Sunday night. Both parties at my little house. I went to work Monday morning thankful I didn’t have to have yet another party. I was “partied out.” I think I’m getting old.
With J’s graduation came “The Scrapbook.” OMG… It’s STILL. NOT. DONE.
It was SUPPOSED to be done by last Sunday. It’s not. Saturday (at party #1) I received more items people wanted in the scrapbook. I asked some of these folks for the items in the first part of May. (A month ago.) I told them I needed them by like May 20th or so. I got them June 8th. I love my family. But it’s not their fault it’s not done. That’s on me.
I don’t always procrastinate. I honestly thought “I had more time.” You see, I swore I wasn’t going to do this year what I did last year working on K’s book – a last minute decision with something I had ZERO experience doing. (J and I spent a total of 160 hours in two weeks to get it done.) I promised myself I would start early. I did. I started in early May. So why it’s not done on time… I didn’t work as hard or as fast as I should have… I simply ran out of time / out of money? Heck. I’m not sure. It’s very close. I’m lacking (by my best calculations) 12 pages.
This weekend, I’m going to be finishing up “The Scrapbook,” a summation of J’s first 17 years of life and as she’s my youngest, my last… it’s hard to do. Maybe that’s the reality of why it’s not done. I’m just not ready for my baby to be “grown up.”