My Worst Nightmare Isn’t A Bad Dream…

Have you a worst nightmare? A situation in life you know will happen one day, but you still try hard not to ever think about it? Keep it stuffed in a mental file drawer in the big file cabinet of the brain and hope it stays there in its little file folder at the back of the drawer, hidden in the dark? Mine is losing my mom, and though I knew 8 years ago this time was going to come, I tried to keep the drawer locked and shoved things in front of it so that file folder at the back of it would not surface.

Monday that file needed to come out, and the drawer flew open and the folder drifted down onto the floor of my brain and opened to the first page of the contents: The Beginning Of The End For Mom.

She has cancer of the appendix. I know, who the heck has heard of this and why is this even a thing? It was discovered about 8 years ago, when they thought she had appendicitis and her appendix appeared to have ruptured. I knew something was up when the surgery took a heck of a lot longer than it was supposed too. The doc simply explained it away as it took awhile to locate all the pieces and remove them. Okay, we can go with that, it made perfect sense at the time.  Cancer was the furthest thing from our minds. But when she went for followup we learned that it had not ruptured but rather this cancer had basically eaten it for lunch.

What followed was surgery to remove anything that looked like cancer, part of her colon so that the microscopic cancer cells would be gone, then a chemo wash of her abdomen (super heated chemo in fluid form filling the abdominal cavity for 45 minutes in the hope of reaching all those little *&^%$# cells and killing them). I don’t know the actual cancer type but it is rare, and mom set out like the fighter she is to research it. That didn’t take long as there just isn’t much known, it is rare, weird and always terminal. Life expectancy once found 5 years. She found it early because after having beat breast cancer she pays attention to subtle changes in her body and something just wasn’t quite right. No pain, just a twinge at times. Being a cancer warrior who beat it, they watch for those things and thankfully did what was necessary to discover this little killing creeper.

She has had 2 more tumors that were surgically removed over the years. It keeps coming back like a bad headline over and over until it finally wins. The first time it returned, in surgery her femoral nerve was stretched and damaged, leaving her unable to use her leg at all when she woke up. NO feeling, unable to move it, she was unable to walk. Scared? Heck no, she was flaming pissed off! But that subsided 80-85% and she was walking again with physical therapy. She lost a lot of feeling in her leg but she could get back to work and she did. My mom is a trooper, a real warrior and nothing stops her easily.

The next round she all but threatened the surgeons lives, not that it was really anyone’s fault, that is where Pandora happens to have taken up residence, next to that nerve and close to her right hip. Oops, sidebar note here: my niece named this cancer Pandora, as once out of the box it isn’t leaving and sets off a series of most unwelcome events.

She has done chemo of all sorts, which have helped to shrink it at times, holding it at bay, but it always returns. She has suffered so many side effects from the various chemo rounds, lost her hair multiple times (comes back different each round too), neuropathy in her hands etc. that she has been through the war with this vicious little disease.

Last year we almost lost her to the side effects of a rather strong chemo her body couldn’t work with, she lacked an enzyme she needed to work with the chemo to fight the cancer. This year we tried again, only with all kinds of infusions of drugs and a lower dose of the chemo, which for a while kept it in check, there but not growing. But the chemo became too much and instead of 2 out of 14 days between treatments, she was 12 days of feeling like total hell. She tossed in the towel and said enough.

She was preparing to go on one more kind but the cost was through the roof, and odds only 30% it would hold back the growth of pandora for any amount of time. Her goal was one more Christmas with us, this last summer on the deck each day, see her 6th great-grandchild come into the world, one last birthday for mom. Tuesday’s test results ended that chapter short of the goals.

She has been having trouble, throwing every few days, some wretched looking stuff and tons of fluid. Then feeling okay again for a day or two, then repeat. She feared a bowel obstruction, which was a possibility as pandora grows and pushes her mean self into areas she shouldn’t have the right too. Monday she was admitted to the hospital, and Tuesday I was there for the scan results and that is precisely what has happened. Pandora is shoving her way through and causing a partial obstruction, that will become full blown soon. With an NG tube up her nose to drain the nastiness out of her gut so she stops heaving, mom and the doc discussed options. Basically it boils down to Hospice or no Hospice, the end has arrived. She and God are now writing the last few pages of the final chapter of the book of her life.

I was too shocked to be anything but numb. We thought we had one more Christmas, this final summer, time to find a smaller house, time for baby Elijah to come into this world and meet his Gigi.

After the doc left the room mom looked at me and said “don’t freak out.”. Oh no worries yet, I hadn’t processed enough for a freak out. Actually I didn’t ever freak out, it isn’t my way with something like this at all. I just got a bit misty eyed as the reality soaked in and the pain in my heart began to grow. When sis got there we told her, then when mom’s phone rang she and I left the room for a waiting room and the flood gates opened. After the initial water works we pulled it together and went back to her room to begin getting all those damn end of life ducks in rows.

That night we cried a lot, planned, cried, sipped coffee, and cried. My kids went up to see Gigi and then my son dropped by my house later with a letter he had written mom when he got home. He had some things he wanted to tell her but couldn’t have said them, he had to put it all in writing. She has that with her now.

My mom is the matriarch of our family. Top dog with grace, fearlessness, golden heart and more love than you can imagine. I mean, she is actively dying and is worrying about all of us and our lives, trying to help us! She has faced everything life throws at her with strength and dignity (yes she blows a gasket at times but somehow does that gracefully as well). She is our rock, the voice of reason, the family compass.

When I thought my divorce was the end of my world, my husband basically kicking me aside, it was the biggest gift of my life! I have spent the past 7 years living with my mom, getting to make memories with her and my sister and nieces. Working out every crisis with her wisdom and love. And coffee. When sh*t goes sideways in life, mom always made coffee. I can’t function in a hell storm without coffee now. In fact my sister and I came home Tuesday night and made coffee because that is what mom would do.  Yes we drank it. My past 7 years has been such an amazingly, wonderful blessing! But now it has to end.

I’m lost. I’m numb mentally. I’m in shock. I’m in such horrible pain inside. I do not know how to do this!!!! On this road of life we walk with others next to us. As the road goes along, they sometimes go off on another path nearby, but they are still parallel to ours and we still chat etc through the trees and flowers. But along that path are gates that lead to eternity, and each gate has a name on it. And when that person arrives at their gate, there is no more path in front of their feet, they must enter through that gate. And once through and that gate closes, we can no longer see them. The gate locks and fades away leaving only our memories to carry with us.  Mom’s gate is now in view, the end of the path is there in front of us and the gate is swinging open. Soon she will say good bye and go through the gate, and it will close and vanish, taking her with it to the other side. And I cannot begin to imagine how I’m supposed to take the next steps and continue down this path of my life without her.

I’m not angry with God, my Abba has blessed me so much. In fact, the only thing I know to do is curl up in His arms, let His Word wash over me, and seek comfort from Him. These next few weeks all I can do is cling to Him and know that He is in control of all of this, and that mom will soon be with Him.


Me, Mom, and Sis


Sounds From My Grandparents House

So long ago it seems, and yet not that far away…..

Marty Brennaman and Joe  Nuxhall calling the Red’s game  through the radio on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

The sounds of Sanford and Son on the TV in the living room.

The ceramic tea pot in the pantry as its lid was removed and replaced to dole out Smarties candy to the grand kids.

The sound of the aluminum drink cups popping/cracking as ice and peppermint iced tea was combined in them.

Uncle Larry and Uncle Chuck’s  laughs, both unique and always contagious.

The creak of the  glider on the front porch as someone or someones rocked.

The sound of the tricycles up and down the driveway and around the front hedges and children squealing and laughing.

Popcorn being made in what is the oldest, discolored metal pot I’d ever seen, and never a kernel burnt, it was always perfect.

Gentle humming of the black, oscillating fans throughout the house.

Traffic up and down St. Lawrence & Regina Avenue.

The distinct voices of each aunt and uncle (grandma had 10 kids), sitting around the dinning room table.

The laughter of  dozens of cousins outside running around.

The cuckoo clock in the  front hall near the door.

Even The Marvelous One Gets The Blues

I do have the blues, bad today.  I have been battling it for a few days but today was the worst.

I miss my kids.

I mean REALLY miss my kids.

And in that missing them is a great deal of bitterness trying very hard to work it’s way past the armor wrapped around my heart. Bitterness toward their dad.  Bitter, mean, nasty stuff that wants to worm its way in and make me spew all kinds of hateful words that I am refusing to let enter my mind.  I’m in a battle and refuse to let go and fall into that trap again.

I miss seeing my little girl (20 years old is still a little girl to a mom), even when it may have only been when she was deep in sleep and I got some mumbled gibberish when I kissed her good bye in the morning when I left for work.  Yes, I still kissed her goodbye and told her I loved her before I crept out, and she was 19.  I desperately miss her frumpled up hair and sleepy face when she’d wander into the kitchen in the mornings.  I miss her contagious laugh and gorgeous smile that was a part of nearly every day when we shared the same home.  I miss those nights when her dad was on duty and she’d come out to the hot tub with me, with her cell phone in a zip-lock baggie so she wouldn’t miss a word from her boyfriend, and how I loved seeing her in love.  I even miss her pissy, PMS driven days filled with attitude and crabbiness.  I miss my baby girl so much.

I miss hearing my son’s tales of work, though it causes me to worry about him.  I miss his crazy sense of humor and how he  could make me laugh until I cried.  I miss when he would come for a visit and then fall asleep on the couch because of exhaustion from his insane schedule.   I loved watching him sleep, missing the little boy that sat in my lap once and held my face in his tiny hands, seeing me crying, and wiped my tears away saying “don’t cry mommy, it’ll be alright”.  I miss him asking for my laptop to show me countless videos that he thought were hilarious.  He will be moving back in with dad and his little sister, into the house that was our home, MY home, filling the walls with laughter and fun again.

I feel so disconnected and unneeded to them now.  On Facebook I am blocked by their dad, so the comments on my kid’s pages, and often the string of replies makes no sense at all to me because I cannot see what is there unless someone that is a mutual friend of them all shares it so I get the joke.  Often I comment and mine are lost in their exchange with dad and I feel invisible.  It is like I disappeared and sometimes I wonder if I am even missed at all.  They will be a family in the house that they grew up in, but I’m not there.  The house that I was instrumental in providing, the one we’d have not had without my mom’s help, and I’m the one on the outside. I was the one forced to leave my home, my kids, MY FAMILY.

The pain has been fresh and overwhelming the past few days again.

I miss my house, my neighbors, the dog…..but mostly….

I. MISS. MY. KIDS!!!!!  😦

My baby girl

me and my baby boy

Random Thoughts On A Sunday Afternoon

I took a break from blogging yesterday, with getting up early and working part of the day, and a lot on my mind, I just did not feel much like writing. I was more for relaxing on the deck with a beer and so I did just that. It was SO beautiful too, great breeze, lots of shade, and even the noisy cicadas really were nice to listen too. I am all about windows open if we can handle the temperatures, I love hearing the outside world.

Last day as a married person, by this time tomorrow I will be free! And funny as it sounds, I am happy about it. Less than 24 hours to go and counting! I will no longer have financial responsibility for the mound of debt like the house he is in danger of losing because karma is coming home already to bite him square in the ass. NO sympathy here. Even Mustard, his wonderful, pearl yellow Harley that is in my name, that he is also going to lose soon because he cannot afford it, will no longer be my problem. The divorce papers give it all to him, and he will likely be kissing it all goodbye here in the next year because he won’t be able to afford to keep any of it. Unless he moves in his girlfriend, the one he says is not a girlfriend. She has left a painful wake of emotional and mental debris in the lives of many other men that were married when she sank her claws into them, (not to mention SHE is married), and it is only a matter of time until he who shall not be named finds out what a truly evil little bitch she is, just like all her other victims learned the hard way.  In celebration I will get a new tattoo, but that one I’m not certain of what to have done, looking into it, it has to be something unique.

I do have another tattoo planned, for over the top of my left breast, for my kitten who has been my heart band-aid. It is planned just need the money for it and that will take a bit to pull together. I love getting inked, hurts like a mother *&^%$! in some spots but it is also a bizarre high that I love. I have 3 already, with 2 on deck now and no doubt more will follow in time.  That is  another wonderful thing about being single, no one telling me ‘no’ to more tattoos.  My body is MY canvas and I will  decorate it as I see fit, which  is as it should be.

Pixel  kitten does not have a hernia but is reacting to her sutures it seems.   Add her being crazy and running around playing which is causing friction to the internal ones  and it seems to be an issue.  A  big shot of strong antibiotics and  she seems fine, though short of gluing her paws down she is NOT resting much.  She wants to play and if  I lock her in my room she carries on like  she is dying  so I give  up.  She learned how to get her collar off too so she is moving about in stealth mode periodically, no little bell warning of in coming kitten attack.

I enjoyed an over night  visit with my daughter last night.  She  joined us for our Saturday wine night, which this week we went with a beer, Pete’s Wicked Ale.  She crashed here with  the dog, who woke my mom up at 5am to go outside.  Not sure  why she left  the couch with my daughter to get grandma to let her out.  Then she and the big cat sat outside my door doing their  best  to get  Pixel to annoy me enough to feed them all.  They are like a pack of children.  Today my son is visiting, and soon my dad will be over and hopefully one of my brothers, and we will grill steaks and enjoy dinner together.

This time last weekend I was in a rut of shitty days,  today I am reminded what crap cards in life can really be like.  I am from a big family on both sides, dad is one of 10, mom is one of 8.  I have more cousins than I can count, and I know them all.  I have very fond memories of summer  time when growing up, going to grandma’s over by Elder High School.  My cousins all there, in droves, hanging out,  sipping  peppermint iced tea, eating popcorn made on the stove top to absolute  perfection (never a burnt kernel), and eating Smarties.  Sometimes someone walked us around the corner to get penny candy at the little store.  In the garage were a  bunch of tricycles in various sizes  that  we  stood on the back  of and raced up and down the street  and  driveway.  Some of my cousins  I have felt closer to than others,  one of those is my cousin Patty.  This  morning I received the following  email,  it hit  me really hard.  I read it laying in bed via  my BlackBerry, barely able to breathe and crying through a good portion of it.  The Divas will of  course be here for her and her daughter, in anyway we can, but right now they need prayers.  If you are a praying type, I ask that you please keep her daughter, Michelle,  and their family in your prayers.  I asked Patty for permission to post this in my blog, as I believe  in the power of  prayer and the more we can get for Michelle  the better.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Some of you know that in the past week we have been waiting for Michelle to see a specialist about a soft tissue mass that was discovered in her upper right arm last Friday when an MRI was done.

About 3 weeks ago, Michelle had some pain in her arm and she thought maybe she pulled something.  About a week later, she found a lump and made a doctors appointment.  Last Friday and MRI was done and everyone thought it was something like a tendon, ligament, or something else she tore.  We got a call Friday night that the MRI showed a soft tissue mass in her bone and it had possibly gone outside as well causing the lump.

Long story short – we got into see “THE” doctor in Cincinnati that specializes in tumors of the bone (Dr. Joel Sorger). Apparently, he is the ONLY and the BEST.  The news we received this morning was not what we hoped.  He told us whatever this is – it is very aggressive.  He said it could be one of three things:  1) a really bad infection of some kind; 2) a benign tumor; 3) cancer.  This thing has actually broken through the bone on her arm and is now both inside and outside the bone.  He told us you do not typically see begnine tumors go through the bone – they either stay inside or outside.  He also told us that a lot of times which cancer, you can see little pieces of bone within the tumor and he is not seeing that either.  Basically, we don’t know.

We spent the day at Children’s in Liberty township today getting a Chest CT (too make sure there is nothing to keep her from getting a biopsy – something messing with anesthesia) and a full 1.5 hours of MRI on her whole right arm.

Friday was a long day for Michelle and me. We got to Children’s at 11:05 a.m. and did not arrive home here till after 7:00 p.m. last night.  Michelle got a Pet Scan which is where they inject radioactive material into her and any bad cells that are in her basically eat it up.  Then they put her in what looks like a big MRI machine and scan her whole body.  The purpose of this test was to see if she had any “suspicious” cells anywhere else in her body.

We did the scan and then were told to go up to the Hematology/Oncology department and meet with Dr. Geller.  One of his doctor assistants came in and took a very extensive family history from us.  Then, in came Dr. Geller with 3 other people in our tiny room. I could just tell (you know, as Mom’s can) that something was up.  I was completely petrified yesterday that this whole body scan would tell us Michelle had bad cells everywhere and if that happened I don’t think I could hold up.

He did tell us the mass in her upper right arm lit up light a Christmas Tree.  He told us that the very good thing is that nothing else..not even one tiny speck…showed up anywhere else in her scan.  This means – it’s only in the arm and no where else.  Now…with good news always comes bad.  He told us that the mass in her arm showed up so bright that he typically sees that when it is cancer. He also added that he would be very surprised if the mass was not cancer.  Michelle and I held up pretty good with that news.  I think all along that was my worst fear, but I was ready for it and surprisingly I think she was too.  He said there was still hope that it could be an infection or non-malignant tumor, but not to count on that.

He started to talk to us about chemo therapy and what type of cancer the thinks this is.  He said he believes it’s a sarcoma (sp?) and that it is an aggressive one.  He also said that he believes we caught this very early and that’s a good thing.

Now…that’s when he talked about the possibility of Michelle having children once she received chemo therapy. It seems that they have no clue how chemo affects each person and it’s wildly different with each one.  There is a chance that having chemo would cause her to go into early menopause and render all of her eggs useless.  I had thought about that once the day before, but Michelle was not ready to hear that news at all and completely broke down right there.  No one should hear at the age of 23 and married less than a year should have their hopes and dreams of having children someday disappear in an instant.  He brought in an oncology fertility expert to talk to Michelle (he had her waiting outside the door) and we talked about harvesting her eggs now — before chemo — so they can be fertilized, turned into embryos and frozen until later when her and Adam want to start a family.

There’s even a catch that… to get the MOST eggs possible, she would receive hormone therapy and it takes 4-6 weeks.  He told us we might not have 4-6 weeks, depending on what he finds out today from the biopsy.  So in that case, they would have to go in and get the eggs surgically — and typically they don’t get as many that way that turn into viable embryos.  So now it’s a waiting game to see exactly what the results of the biopsy are from today and how much time we have to harvest eggs.  We are supposed to meet with everyone back at Children’s on Tuesday to have everything laid out on the table and hear what this mass really is in Michelle’s arm.

He did say that if the mass in her arm is what he thinks it is, they have treated thousands of these and given all of the facts right now for Michelle’s case – there is no reason at all that they cannot treat her successful and she will live to be an old woman.  He said he does not believe this was a genetic thing (so we don’t have to worry about this happening to Casey).  It’s a random thing with no rhyme or reason.  That’s when it hit Michelle that she would lose her hair and asked if she would… all of the nurses said yes and we had another melt down.  I don’t blame her – I don’t even like to go out on a windy day once I have my hair perfect.  You men will not understand, but I know all of you women know that you’d rather have anything else happen to you before you lost your hair.  I really don’t know how to console her on this one because it would be devasting to me too and I don’t have an answer for her.  I could not go and start talking about wigs already so I just hugged her and said we’ll figure it out.

Yesterday was Biopsy day.  Her doctor was Australian and quite a character.  He also told her that he believes the mass in Michelle’s arm is cancer and he thinks it’s in the bone too (the Oncologist did not).  We’ll see on Tuesday I guess.  They went in an drilled the hole that is in Michelle’s bone a little bigger and took what they needed for the pathologist.  Ironically, I got a text from my sister, Theresa, saying that she and Marina (her daughter) were there.  I thought they were coming to sit with us during the surgery, but she was there because Marina’s doctor detected a heart murmer earlier that morning during a checkup and sent Theresa and Marina to Children’s to Cardiology.  Since Michelle was in surgery and Steve and Adam were up there, I ran down to be with my sister who was alone and pretty freaked out.  Marina’s heart was making a “goose honk” noise and every resident, intern, nurse and janitor kept coming in because they never heard anything like that before.  Turns out that it’s pretty much nothing – one of her heart valves let’s a little more backflow happen than it should and now it’s making this noise.  It’s not something to be concerned about so they let her lose.  What are the odds of that?   The only two girls in the family both in the hospital at the same time.

I will keep you all posted.  Even though the biopsy procedure was supposed to be very, very painful, it seemed that last night (with the help of pain killers), Michelle was doing pretty well and even told me she was going to work today.  We find out on Tuesday what the results of the biopsy are and what the next steps will be.  We pretty much know how things will turn out at that meeting – we will just have to be strong and march through the steps to get her better.  I will keep you all post.  Sorry it’s through email but it’s the easiest way since we are spending so much time in the hospital and I have hardly been home since Wednesday.

Please keep Michelle in your prayers – I believe God listens!


Happy Birthday, Mike!

26 years ago this morning I gave birth to my son, Michael.  He was unexpected and proof that the rhythm method of birth control is very effective if you want to become a parent, it sure as hell doesn’t work for avoiding pregnancy.  Don’t get me wrong, I did want children just thought it would be a little longer before I started down that road.  He was two weeks late being born and took 14 hours of labor to finally decide he was ready to make an entrance.  Not much has changed, he usually isn’t running just exactly on time, except perhaps for work.

Mother’s Day that year, while I was out to there pregnant, his biological father lost a friend in a motorcycle accident.  At that point I did not know if I was having a boy or a girl, but promised that if the baby was a boy he would be named after Joe’s friend, Michael Patrick Clancy.   I was warned not to name any child Michael, I have a brother Mike and know plenty of them to know that they are a different breed.  Obviously I failed to heed the warning.

Mikey and I ended up on our own by the time he was 10 months old, marriage to his dad was less than a stellar experience.  I never spoke unkindly about the other half of his biological gene pool when he was growing up and I won’t do it now, so we’ll just leave it like that.

I went through some serious depression as a single mom starting out.  This kid was a night owl from day one, sleeping wonderfully during the day and being up all night.  This made for one very sleep deprived mommy and that, added to my depression of being divorced at 22 years old, often meant I felt like I was coming apart at the seams.  It was his adorable little smile and personality that rooted me mentally to this world and not some dark place.  On weekend mornings when he wasn’t with his dad, I’d wake up to him nose-to-nose with me, grinning from ear to ear.  Sometimes I could get him to go to sleep, but most mornings he would pester me until I got up and fed him.  One morning he didn’t wake me up, or at least I didn’t respond.  I found the refrigerator door standing open, the flatware draw open and him sitting on top of the coffee table watching TV, eating cottage cheese by the fist full.  He hadn’t been able to reach a spoon so he improvised.  It was all over the top of the coffee table.  He looked up and grinned and said “see mom, I eat!” oh so proud of himself.

Another time I vividly recall, he was going to help me do the laundry.  We lived in an apartment with the laundry room right next to us, SO convenient.  I had placed the basket on the floor by the coffee table and walked in my room to get the quarters.  There was a fan in front of the sliding door screen blowing into the living room.  I couldn’t have been in there 2 minutes but when I returned the living room looked like a scene from the movie, Dr. Zhivago.  He had been pouring the box of detergent on the coffee table and the breeze from the fan of course  blew it around.  He did all he could to help it, tossing it in the air and adding more as he went.  When I walked in I yelled at him, and he started to cry.  I was crying, knowing this would take hours to vacuum up.  He rubbed his eyes with his soap covered hands, burning his eyes and making him scream.  While I was in the bathroom washing his eyes clean the detergent was continuing to snow all over my living room.

He was a ladies man from day one, a total and complete flirt and always a gentleman.  After I met Pete and married, we moved to an apartment complex that had a pool.  Mikey had this adorable, 5 year old boy crush on this cute little girl that would come to the pool.  He’d spread out her towel for her and share his snacks, he was smitten.

During his kindergarten and first grade years he had the best of both worlds.  His dad had married Brenda, and though at first it was rough, she and I worked out a decent relationship.  She picked Mike up from school during the week and I picked him up from her.  He had both a stay at home mom and a full time working mom and thrived under that arrangement. His dad had a daughter from his first marriage, Maggie, and Mike was tight with her when she was in town (she lived in Kansas) and thankfully they have reconnected over the years and he is now an uncle to identical twin boys.

Michael was a typical older brother when I had his sister, Liesl.  He loved helping with her, and taught her everything he knew (not so good).  Later, he would terrorize her and pick on her like brothers do.  Now, he is super protective of her and would often question her attire as she went out.  Heaven help anyone that ever hurts that girl, he will destroy them.

From the time he could walk that boy wanted to be a cop more than anything.  He had a supply of plastic handcuffs and guns, and when he played with friends he had to be the good guy and hunt them down.  He has probably seen every single decent police centered movie available.  His favorite cop in the world is Barney Fife.  He has seen every single episode of Andy Griffith ever made, no doubt about it.  He can quote lines from the show and probably could win any trivia contest about the Don Knotts character of Barney.  I have my son in my phone as Barney Fife.

At 12 years old he learned the play the Highland Bagpipes and joined the Sheriff’s Department pipe band.  He now plays for the Cincinnati Emerald Society when he has time.   At 18 years old he joined the Sheriff’s department as a corrections officer and now is a patrol officer.  While I am fiercely proud of him when I see him in uniform, it also makes me nervous for his safety.  I pray…a LOT.  But what mom wouldn’t be delighted that their offspring followed a dream and grabbed the gold ring?

Life has dealt my son some pretty shitty cards at times, but he always manages to eventually land on his feet.  He makes me so proud, and I cannot be more happy with the man he has become.  I love you, “Barney”, happy birthday!!

Me and 'Barney'

From Diapers To Adulthood – My Baby Girl

Every year around my children’s birthdays I take some time to close my eyes and go back in time,  to their births, reminiscing  and cherishing the memories of their growing up years.  Both have made their dad and I very proud and they truly are most precious to me as their mom.

My baby girl will be 20 years old next week and some days I wonder where the time has gone.

My baby girl as a baby

It feels like just yesterday I was standing in the kitchen, early labor pains crawling through my lower back, trying to get her daddy to call home.  He was working out of town, in Indianapolis, almost 2 hours away.  I had been to the doctor that day, my due date, and already was 4.5 centimeters dilated and now labor had started.   At that time we didn’t have cell phones, but he did wear a pager.  I was sending our predetermined numeric code to let him know the time had come but not received a call for several hours and I was beginning to panic just a bit.  I was not aware at the time that he had quit his job that morning, packed up all his belongings, turned in the beeper and was headed home.

Finally the phone rang and I waddled over to answer but was disappointed, it was not my husband.  It was the bank calling to inform us that we needed to come back in before noon the following day and re-sign our consolidation loan papers.  They had not used my legal name on the first set and therefore the papers we had signed were null and void.  The next day was Saturday so they were only open until noon, and this was Friday so they closed at 6pm.  I hung up with great concern, there would be no signing anything tomorrow as I had little doubt I’d be in the hospital holding the little bundle that was making it increasingly more uncomfortable to move minute to minute.

I was walking the floors, rubbing my stomach and praying when, at 5:30pm my husband pulled into the driveway.  The car was filled to the brim with his possessions from the room he occupied in Indianapolis.  I came out of the front door with a beach towel under my arm, purse on my shoulder, locked up, opened the car door, put the folded towel on the seat and got in the car with him staring at me, totally confused.  I explained we needed to get to the bank fast before they closed.  “What is the towel for?” he asked, looking at it sticking out from under me.  “I’m in labor, that is why this has to be done today, the towel is in case my water breaks” I replied.  He mumbled something about really not needing this right now, and headed toward the bank.  Leave it to Pete we arrived in plenty of time to get the paper work completed.

After we arrived we spent a good deal of time waiting on the loan officer to get the new paper work together.  Finally Pete told them I was in labor and they needed to pick up the pace.  Once they realized he wasn’t kidding they began rushing around to gather things together so we could get started, I guess they didn’t want this baby born in their offices.  While waiting the sky had begun to grow very dark, a storm was rolling in fast.  Just after sitting down and beginning to sign my life away a dozen times, the tornado siren on the school across the street began to sound.  My worst nightmare was unfolding before my eyes, I was going to give birth, during a tornado, in the basement of the bank with the assistance of some still wet behind the ears paramedics.

Thankfully the storm blew over without incident but it was an omen of things to come with this child.  After 14 hours of labor, at 6am the next morning, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl.  She had hair so blond it was white and transparent, and a serious set of lungs on her that let us know she was not at all impressed with life outside of the womb.  I thought she was beautiful, her daddy said she looked like a prune.  Not to worry, he was so taken with her, all his life he had wanted a daughter and even had her name picked out long before we met, it was sort of an unwritten agreement that if we ever had a girl he got to name her.

Don’t misunderstand, he deeply loves our son, but he very much wanted a blond haired, blue eyed little girl.  I prayed for months that he’d get that and one that was high spirited like her daddy.  Be careful what you wish for, her hair is still naturally platinum blond, eyes very blue and she cannot sit still for 5 minutes.  Her friends call her Bubbles because she is almost always bubbling over with happiness and joy, and her giggle is infectious.  Remember the storm? Well she tends to appear out of no where and is anything but quiet in nature, she is a bundle of energy and drive like I’ve never seen before.  During her childhood she had 3 sets of stitches and a broken arm, countless scraped knees and had a tendency to walk into walls, store displays and doors, mind and feet going in different directions.  She was like a mini tornado wherever she went.

As siblings will do, she and her older brother had their moments, but over all they have always had a great relationship.  He is as protective over her if not more so, than her daddy.  More than once as she has left the house to go out he has made comments about the length of her skirt or how tiny her bikini was, and glared at any man who so much as glanced at her.

Until college she had never been in a traditional classroom, we had home schooled her from kindergarten through 12th grade.  She didn’t lack for a social life, being in American Heritage Girls, active in youth group, and had a circle of friends that kept her social calendar quite full.  She attended several of the high school dances including home coming and proms with dates or her girl friends.  She just finished her second year of college, her goal is to be a veterinary technician.  She still has some school left but has been on the deans list since starting so we’ve no doubt she will finish.  It is the perfect profession for her, she adores animals and they all love her as well.

She is very much attached, and we think the boyfriend is a keeper.  They’ve been a couple a number of years now and I anticipate a wedding in a few years when he finishes college if not sometime before.  Poor guy, took him a while to win the approval of daddy and big brother but he finally did prove himself worthy….well sort of, neither think any man is worthy of her really.

This week she is headed to Disney World with her boyfriend and his parents, and I’m puppy sitting her little Yorkie.  She’ll celebrate her 20th birthday away from home, before returning to celebrate with us.  It seems like just yesterday I was changing her diapers and now she has her high school diploma and is closing in fast on her college degree.  Where oh where has the time gone?

My beautiful daughter

I love you, Liesl, more than I could ever express in words, and I am so very proud of you!  You’ve brought more joy to my life than you can know in the past 20 years and I’m looking forward to watching you continue to grow through the coming chapters in your life.  Happy Birthday a few days early!!!

Love Mom