Mom, Wife, Daughter, Friend, Cousin, Granddaughter, Re-Married Widow, PR Counselor, Writer, Volunteer, Scrapbooker, Reader. Lucky.

Ten (10)


I can’t believe you have been gone 10 years. How has an entire decade passed? You didn’t get to experience much of it, but I firmly believe the second you become a parent you hit a time warp. It’s the only way to explain how fast the time has gone.

Mark, you would be so proud of Nicholas. He’s so beautiful, smart, empathetic and funny. He’s trying to figure out sarcasm, but is so upset when he accidentally hurts someone’s feelings. He’s so very smart, smart enough that people tell me all the time. But, he thinks he knows everything, so we’re working on thinking before he speaks. He loves all things science, is becoming really good at sketching, and is such an amazing big brother. He looks so much like you that when I’m not paying attention it sometimes takes my breath away. You would be so very proud of the boy he is and the young man he is becoming.

He’s starting to ask hard questions about you. We talk about you all the time, he knows that you loved Pink Floyd and Skinny Puppy and INXS. He knows that you loved to cook and read. He knows how proud you were of being an Eagle Scout. And he knows that you were an alcoholic who fought your addiction for most of your short life. I will do everything I can to help him understand the disease so that he doesn’t fall prey to it but understands what happened to you.

I can think of you now without only seeing you in the hospital wasting away. It’s taken me this long for the first image that comes to me not to be you in the hospital bed. But I can’t remember how you sounded or the way you smelled. That’s okay though, those memories fade. I’ll always be able to tell Nicholas how much you laughed even if I can’t remember how it sounded.

I’m sorry you’re not seeing N grow up. When I get sad about you, that’s the main reason. I’m glad, because for many years I was just super pissed at you for how hard our lives were and how badly you treated your body. I could only remember the bad parts. But you’ve taught me not to take things for granted. I tell people that they are nice, that they are being mean, that I love them. I squeeze my kids all the time and tell them how precious they are. And I don’t let the little things that you and I fought about turn into issues for William and me. As hard as our life together was, I remember the fun too. You taught me so much and helped me become the person I am.

We’ll be celebrating your Dad’s 80th birthday next week and your remaining siblings will be together. There are only two of the five left. But we’ll make your Dad’s birthday special and give him so much love.

I’ll give N extra squeezes tonight after I’ve picked him up from school. He asked that we do something for you tonight, I don’t know what it will be, but I love that he wants to.

You are not forgotten, even 10 years later.

Every Day Gratitude

The past few weeks have been challenging. W working a ton of late nights, my regular anxious time of the year, sassy little boys who make mornings more difficult than they need to be, and the time change wreaking havoc on the kids’ sleep.

But, I’m finding myself more grateful than I’ve been in a really long time. Every day gratitude. Gratitude for W’s job which he worked so hard to get, my anxiety not overwhelming me, sassy little boys who still want to snuggle, and the kids falling asleep eventually. I’m also thankful for noticing the glitter all over my chest this morning because it’s evidence of Tesla snuggling with me and her shirt transferring all that sparkle to me…even after a shower.

I have so many things to be grateful for, and I hope that I’m taking note of most of them. What every-day thing are you grateful for?

Awkward People Are My Favorite

This is a total cop-out you guys, but I haven’t stopped laugh crying reading these tweets inspired by Jennifer Lawson’s awkward confession. I’m not writing anything else because this is magic.

The Bloggess’ Awkward People.

I scared the toddler and the dog while reading this because of the insane laughter it caused.

November, Again.

Hey! Did you know I have a blog? One where I used to write at least once a week? I know, I’d forgotten too. I blame the baby. I mean, not in a bad way, just in the holy-moly-it-takes-a-lot-to-take-care-of-a-family-of-five kind of way. I’ve been lucky to write once a month in the past couple of years, and then only if something big-ish happened.

But, it’s November! November means that it’s time for writing, either working on a novel or posting to your blog every day. I’ve never participated, but I miss writing and I feel like this may help encourage me to do it.

So, here we go! I wonder if I will have anything to write about…

Conversation With N & T: Every Day Racism

My friend, Issa posted a video on Facebook this summer that showed middle-school-aged children talking about the every day racism they encounter in their lives. I had the boys watch it with me one day and then we talked about it. This is part of our conversation…

Me: What do you think about what those kids were saying?

Nicholas: I don’t get it? Why do the workers in the restaurant think the families are going to steal?

Me: Because they are not White.

N: No, I know that’s what they said, but I don’t get why someone thinks someone else is going to be a thief just because of their skin color.

Me: Well, that’s the thing about racism, there is absolutely no logic to it. It makes zero sense. Even if the person has experience with someone who has stolen from them in the past, and that person happened to be someone who was Brown or Black, that shouldn’t make them believe that all people of color will steal, right?

N: I just don’t get it.

Me: Tobin, if you had a friend who was being told mean stuff by another kid, what would you do?

Tobin: Maybe we should leave?

Me: Leaving is a good choice sometimes, especially if either of you are scared that you’re in danger. But, if you try to be brave, you could tell the other kid that the things he or she is saying are wrong and hurtful and they should stop.

N: Yeah, that would be hard, but it would be the right thing to do.

T: I think, I would tell them to stop and then I would kick them in the face.

Me: Well, you should definitely start with the words first…

Here is the video. I would love to hear what your kids think about it.

My Father

I haven’t seen my father since 1986. I was 11 when he left. Even before that, I wasn’t around him much. He worked offshore when my parents were married, so there were long stretches when he wasn’t home. When I was 8 my parents divorced and I rarely saw him for the next year or so. My mother moved when I was 10, so I moved in with my father, stepmother, and baby sister to start school in a new place. My father and I lived there for 6 weeks when my stepmother kicked us out (which happened to be the night my wonderful grandfather died).

This is the day I moved in with my Grandmother. Her husband had just died after a quick, but terrible, fight with cancer but she didn’t even take time to mourn, she just started taking care of me. My Grandma’s property has two homes on it, so my father moved into one home with his brother and I moved in to the other with Grandma. Except for one other time, this was also the last time I saw my sisters until we were all adults (because their mother wouldn’t allow our family to see them).

We had been living with Grandma for several months when my father won a lawsuit against a former employer (for a legitimate claim). He won a substantial amount of money. Grandma had him put $10,000 in a savings account for my sisters and me to have to use toward college. Then she took me to the orthodontist, had them do a work up, and estimate what every single procedure and appliance would cost for my teeth to be straightened. Grandma went to my father and told him the total and made him give her the entire amount, despite his protests that he would just make payments. A few days later, after my uncle had taken out another trash bag full of my father’s empty beer cans, Grandma told him that if he had money to blow on alcohol, he could help her pay for clothes for me. He, and the $10,000 he’d put in the bank for his daughters’ educations, were gone that night.

About 11 years ago, when I was trying to have my first child, I asked a friend to help track down my father. My friend was a private investigator and looked for my father pro bono. I wanted to know if he was still alive and if I had any more siblings. I also really wanted to be able to tell Grandma something about her son. My friend found my father living in Alabama with a wife, but no more children. I thought for a little while of getting in touch with him, but decided against it.

Over the last 29 years, I’ve had every emotion possible in relation to my father. I’ve been furious, I’ve been sad, I’ve been eager to find him, and I’ve been resigned. I knew, even if I found him, that it wouldn’t really matter. He wouldn’t have any answers that would change anything and nothing that wouldn’t just be an excuse. I’ve always felt badly for Grandma who adored my father, her first born, until he proved that he couldn’t be an adult who cared for his own family or overcome his alcohol addiction. She still loved him, but she was beyond disappointed in his choices. Still, I knew she worried about him, because how could you not be worried?

When my older baby sister turned 18, I tracked down her mother and asked to get in touch with the girls. So we started talking on the phone and getting to know each other. We’re more connected now than when we were growing up, and I have two sweet nephews and a sweet niece because of them. We’ve all gotten married, but E (the younger of the two) is the only one who didn’t change her name when she married. Because of that, she’s the one the law firm’s investigator was able to track down most easily. E called me this past Friday after the investigator called her, and told me that our father had died. E had to get to work, so I called the investigator to make sure everything was legit and see what was going on.

Our father’s widow has a lawsuit because he died from an asbestos-related illness. He died from lung cancer, but I don’t have the details because the investigator was only calling us to get our contact information, she didn’t know she was calling to inform us that our father was dead. Basically, his widow was obligated by law to contact us because we are his heirs. She didn’t contact us to tell us our father had died. Almost 3 years ago. In October 2012.

After I talked with the investigator and established that it was my father we were talking about (he had a fairly common name, so I wanted to be sure), I called Grandma. I told her that her son had died nearly three years before from lung cancer. She thought it was ironic that “that woman” could find us when money depended on it, but not for common decency to tell us my father was dead. Grandma and I talked for a little while, but there weren’t many details to share. We have to depend on my father’s widow to call me if we want to know more. I’m not expecting to hear from her. Not when she didn’t call three years ago.

Then I called my mother because the law firm needs to know information about my father from the 10 years they were married. My mother and I thought it was ironic that she would be helping with a lawsuit that would get my father’s widow money when he never paid a dime of child support for me. Yes, we know the money would come to my sister and me too, but the irony is still there.

So much irony, y’all.

I have the same level of general sadness that I’ve always had about my father. He made choices that kept him from watching his daughters become adults, he will never know his grandchildren, and he drilled a hole in his mother’s heart that will never heal. It’s a strange thing to hear that your father is dead and then to be told that it happened almost three years before. You start to think of what was happening at that time, and wondering if you had any kind of “feeling.” Nicholas was 7, Tobin was 2, and of course Tesla hadn’t been born. And, no, I didn’t have any kind of feeling that my father had died. I had no idea.

I do know, however, that if I get any financial gain from the lawsuit, I will buy Grandma something lovely and wonderful.


Getting Lost

Getting Lost, with a capital “L” was the theme for last week. I, apparently, have a horrible sense of direction and that has become even more clear than it already was last week. I haven’t gotten lost on the way to drop off the kids and to go to work because I have a checklist of my step-by-step moves. Coming home is another story.

I got lost every day the first week living in Dallas. Well, lost may not be the most accurate term. I’ve been getting turned around. There hasn’t been a time when I didn’t know what street I was on or where I was in general, but there were many many times when I was going the wrong direction or stuck behind 80 jillion other vehicles and then missing my turn. It has been so incredibly frustrating because I have been late picking up the kids pretty much every day that we’ve lived in DFW. It is the worst feeling to be going against the clock and not knowing exactly where you are. The worst.

Hopefully I’ll get better the longer we’re here, it’s only been a week. But I’m tired of frustrated tears on the way home (from me, the kids are fine). Send the sense-of-direction gods my way, would you?

She Saved Me Every Sunday

It started because I wasn’t sure I could entertain a toddler by myself an entire weekend for the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure I could stand to be alone with my thoughts an entire weekend. It started because N woke up every day by 5:00 a.m. regardless of the day of the week and I wanted a nap.

I knew Grandma adored having us over and it helped soothe the little sadness she had over not being able to take care of N while I worked. So we just showed up one Sunday morning and stayed until early afternoon. I didn’t intend to make it every Sunday, but that’s what it turned in to.

When my aunt, her daughter, retired she started coming to Sunday lunch too. Then whichever cousin or grandkid was in town or living nearby came. We added spouses, we ditched spouses. We added children and lost a child. Some Sundays were birthday celebrations, some included hunting Easter eggs. On holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it is often only the food that is served that is different from a regular Sunday.

We do laundry or pay bills or watch mindless television before or after we eat. We tell stories. I listen when she needs to tell me something about my other aunt, the one who lives with her but can’t cut her own food anymore. I hope I’ve helped her as much as she has helped me. I get to watch her snuggle my kids and make everyone pay the “toll” of a hug as they come in the door or they won’t get any ice cream after lunch. I get to watch her sneaking just one more cookie to the boys. I search for containers after every lunch to put the leftovers in because it’s literally impossible for the woman not to cook more than necessary because she doesn’t want to have too little. “Just in case” is her motto. I may have inherited the tendency (Grandma says her mother was exactly the same).

Over the past year or so she has been calling me some Saturdays to tell me she’s not up to having us over the next day. It doesn’t change her mind when I tell her we can just have sandwiches because it’s about the visit and not the food. She wouldn’t feel right having us come over without offering us a “real” meal. I’ve cooked for us a few times, but she says I’m too busy with the kids and she doesn’t want me to have added work. Like she hasn’t taken care of our entire family all of our lives.

We have two more regular Sundays before my little family moves to Dallas. And one of those is going to be a staged Easter because we’ll be gone for the real one and my Aunt suggested we fake it so the kids could all hunt eggs together. Y’all, that’s my family. We have Easter the Sunday before the real deal so that my kids can hunt eggs with their cousins.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about our new adventures in Dallas, I am. But, I will miss my Sundays with my Grandma (and Aunts and Uncles and whichever cousins are around). What started out as a way to escape my own thoughts turned in to almost eight years of weekly conversations, ice cream, and paying for lunch with a hug. I am so lucky.

All The Jams Have Been Pumped

Most business days, at 10 in the morning and at two in the afternoon, since I went back to work last spring I have pumped breast milk. When I was ready for a session, I announced down the hall that I was Pumping Up The Jams so that nobody would come into my office. On Friday, Tesla turns 1 (I know, I can’t believe how quickly this year went either), and I’ll be done pumping. We’ll still nurse when we’re together because we both love it, and I’ll let her nurse as long as she wants to until she’s 2.

But, I’m more than a little happy to be done pumping. It’s not my favorite. What is my favorite is that I was able to give Tesla the majority of the nourishment she had in her first year. We supplemented with formula, but, for the most part, she was a breast-fed infant.

I am also happy that we’re done pumping just in time to ship my pump to my sweet niece, Jessica, who is having her first baby this spring.

All the Jams? They have been Pumped, yo.


Miss Me?

I’ve been away from this space for a while and I have missed it and you. I didn’t purposely take a break, but I feel like I’ve barely breathed during the last year…I certainly didn’t take the time to write.

But I am back and have stories to tell. I am glad you’re here.