A changing of the guard…..in more ways than one…
January 21, 2009

It was fascinating watching the presidential changeover yesterday…George and Laura Bush, going through the motions of leaving Washington behind as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle moved in(and may I just say how gorgeous Mrs. Obama looked yesterday?). I would guess there is relief, dread, uncertainty about the future and what life will be like…some regret, on both sides. You’d love to know what’s going through all their minds. But it reminded me of another changing of the guard that I will take part in this weekend.

Tomorrow I fly to Birmingham, to help my sisters move my Mom into assisted living, at the retirement community where she has lived for some years. She has been pretty independent, though just barely  able to live on her own for some time. A hospital stay just after the holidays really knocked the props out from under her, as she would say, and it was clear that returning to her apartment, where she struggled to do even the simplest of tasks, while possible, was certainly not wise.
So this weekend, we will move her from the nursing home where she has been getting “rehabilitation”…I use that word loosely…her care has not been the greatest and she has been up in arms, more than once over something that was said to her or how she was treated. Being sharp of mind, nothing escaped her and she cannot wait to leave tomorrow.

And I hope she will be happy in her new place….but no place is perfect. Learned that a long time ago.  We’ll be going through loads of stuff…she has more clothes than any 88 year old woman has a right to…she has always been and still is, very interested in how she looks(the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), but with a much smaller closet, some of it has to go. And furniture…storage? Giveaway to grandchildren? Goodwill? Trash? Some of each, I’m sure. Pictures? No need for all the kitchen stuff. The further downsizing of a life that has already been downsized from a lovely 3 bedroom house, to a 2 bedroom apartment, to a one bedroom apartment, to now…a one room apartment. She has lost many possessions and a beloved husband along the way.

But she doesn’t seem to mind moving , and in fact is looking forward, I think, to being in a place that is smaller, where she will have more help, but things have to be done on their schedule, not hers. You know how it is.  So as I wish the best of luck to George and Laura Bush on their new life ahead, and to the Obama’s and their exciting new life ahead, wish me a little luck too, as we sort through things, both touchable and intangible. Life moves on, doesn’t it?

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Captain Underpants and the Angry Angel!!
October 31, 2008

Nooooo...I dont like this costume!!!!!

"Nooooo...I don't like this costume!!!!!"

I’ll be honest, I don’t much blame this little boy on The Today Show, for being thoroughly disturbed that he was… not only in his Dad’s tightie-whities….not only was he in public…now he had to go on national tv! Maybe when the idea was first presented it sounded like fun, but no doubt, the reality of what would have to lived down his entire life, hit with the clarity of a ton of bricks when it time for his grand appearance. The dad made him go on…I guess that’s ok(?), but it felt just a little mean to make this kid stand there, clearly unhappy about the whole thing…just ’cause dad said they would for a show segment.

And really, what is the Today Show’s fixation on Halloween?  Is it just me ,or do they spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR COSTUMES AND SHOWING THEM OFF?? Right before a national election, I just found it a little annoying today, that we had to sit though this interminable setup fairy tale. Sure, the costumes are fetching….hey, mine would be too if I had  professional costume designer. How hard is that?  I know, I know, they do this every year, and surely some people really enjoy it, but this morning I found myself fingering the remote.  Ok, I feel better now.

But the little kid screaming thing reminded me of a “child changes mind on wearing costume” episode of my own. My daughter was about five and was in a church Christmas pageant. And pretty happy about it…she got to wear angel wings,  which we found at the Disney store…but that day was a hard day. There’s always one day from hell right before Christmas. Sorry about the hell-Christmas in the same sentence thing, but it is the only term that applies here.You know that day….. there are two open houses to attend, there’s holiday concert at one child’s school, and oh yeah, your most temperamental child is in a church pageant that night when they are done. Just done. Parents know what I’m talking about. So she has a little nap first, wakes up totally cranky, and now Mommy(me)-dearest, says brightly with a big smile, “Now it’s time to go be an angel !!”

My baby girl is the one the middle with the snarky look...

My baby girl is the one the middle with the snarky look...

Noooooooooo, I don’t want tooooooo“, is screamed in your face. In all honesty, I donwanna either. But this angel is scheduled to appear. But I made what I think was the right decision. I told her that we were going to church, but if she didn’t want to be an angel, she didn’t have to….banking on the idea that when we got there and saw all the other angels, there would be no way on this earth she wasn’t putting on those wings!! And I lucked out. She did angel up….but as you can see in the picture, she’s , oh, let’s say an angel with an attitude, ok? She didn’t scream (oh, she could have, she has it in her)….just put a little snarky look on her face to show me I didn’t hold all the cards. Take that Mommy.

Melissa Carlson and her new baby boy Liam!!

Melissa Carlson and her new baby boy Liam!!

And look who just showed up at work this morning, pirate-baby in arms…..the lovely Melissa Carlson (how does she look like that after just having a baby-no fair!), and her brand new son Liam….who had to don his pirate costume after pooping through his first choice of Superman….hey, **it happens. We miss you Melissa…

Happy Halloween everyone….and remember candy at my house is limited, so don’t too many of you show up!

I didn’t jinx it…not this time…
October 3, 2008

Here’s the odd thing about my daughter at college coming home. There have been several occasions this fall, when she said she was coming home for the weekend. All excited, I dash to the grocery store to get her favorites, tidy up her room and put on fresh sheets. Even as I am doing these things…..I KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN.

Because I have gone to all this trouble, beat myself up really, run around like a mad woman..she will not be coming. Something has come up….”Oh, I didn’t realize there was a party we (the sorority)had to attend.” Please… spare me. There are now parties that must be attended?  Seriously, I have come to believe,  in the most superstitious way (and I’m not a superstitious person), that if I start doing things to prepare a great visit, a perfect visit home for her….she will not come. And yes, I do know how lame doing all those things is.

So when she announced a week or so ago, she would be home this weekend, I was pretty cool about the whole thing. “Oh, are you? That’s great.”  But as the days moved on…and she still said it was on, I must admit I felt the pull of  DOING THINGS….like a tractor beam inexorably dragging me toward vaccuming, dusting, shopping….NO!

So, it wasn’t until this morning, after she had alreaady arrived at the domicile, that I felt safe enough to get some ribs for dinner, which she loves. And I’ll be perfectly honest with you…I knew she would be home this time. No, it wasn’t love of parents or sleeping in her own bed, not even the cat Baby Girl could assure a visit. It was, as it always is, about the hair. I found out she needed highlights and had an appointment in Baltimore this afternoon. So without doubt, she would make it, even if there were mandatory parties this weekend, even if she had to claw her way home. No matter, no matter…. I cannot wait to see her tonight!!

Have a great weekend…be nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe..’cause we miss you.

Parent/child angst…..better call Mom!!
April 29, 2008

I’ve had some really interesting responses to my previous blog about “taciturn emails” from my son who lives in New York. And I can see that the issue isn’t just on the parental side, but also from kids…grown kids, of course….who feel at least some degree of angst and guilt that they HAVEN’T CALLED MOM/DAD IN WAY TOO LONG!

Oh, I’ll definitely call tomorrow, then tomorrow goes by and the next day until it’s been weeks. Or longer. And it is true, that when you don’t speak with people for some time, you have less to talk about when you do. Oh you may say “How can that be? If a lot of time has gone by you have tons to tell!” Yeah, but where do you start…you just can’t begin a litany of everything that has happened in your life, ’cause how boring is that, and now that I think about it, not all that much has happened, certainly nothing big or all that exciting, so maybe I just say, “Oh, not much same old, same old. Everyone is fine….” Blah, blah, blah.

But when you speak to someone on a daily, or weekly basis, you are so much more in tune with the minutia of someone’s life. Yes, I know, sometimes too much minutia. But really, isn’t that what life really is? Truly big things don’t happen all that much in life, and I might like to know something interesting you cooked for dinner, or how your garden is coming along, or about an interesting dream you had last night. Life is made up of little moments…lots and lot and lots of little moments. And if we keep them all to ourselves, then people don’t really know what our lives are about, because we don’t tell them.

I call my Mom every weekday morning on my way to work. She’s on my cellphone speed dial. And before you give me a gold star, let me say this has only started in the past few years. I used to call a couple of times a week, once a week when my Father was alive. But on that drive to work, it’s a time to connect a little, and just chat. Trust me, big things rarely happen from one day to the next, but I hear how she’s feeling, how she slept, how dinner was in the dining room last night, and sometimes we even venture into politics and other topics. But I know she really looks forward to my call, so I feel really bad if I forget one morning. And I know that one day, perhaps not too far away, she will not be receiving my calls anymore. So I redouble my efforts to stay in touch…about the little things.

Oh, and to Elaine….I have long ago learned the end run. If Jesse doesn’t answer me, Jen usually will.