Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Writing Fail

So, it turns out that I'm just as unreliable as I predicted in my very first post. NaBloPoMo was a total bust for me, but that's okay. Daily posting is obviously not my thing, and I can live with that.

We're on our way back from Disney World, and I just downloaded the Blogger app. I have a feeling that being able to blog on the go is going to make it much easier to get all these words out of my head.

Lots to talk about: a great trip to Disney & we're getting ready for Christmas. We've bought Alex a ridiculous number of presents. First though, we have to finish this drive back home. Just 400 miles to go!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

His Favorite Color Was Red

My father died this summer. I don't think I'll ever be able to stand outside on a hot, humid day again without remembering the first moments of my grief. Smoking a cigarette, walking in circles in the grass, just trying to get it together enough to drive home.

He had been sick for a long time, kidney failure, heart attacks, diabetes, liver problems from his medication an occasional seizure thrown in just for fun and scariest of all, a stroke. He started getting sick when I was in high school; we actually celebrated my 16th birthday in his hospital room, so we had been living with the reality of his illness for almost 20 years.

You think that you're prepared for something like this. We all know it would happen, and as more time passed we knew that it might happen soon. But we never really believed it would happen. When he went into the hospital for the last time, in mid-August we all assumed he'd be back home soon, maybe on dialysis, but home.

On August 29th, I stood in the ICU, where I had visited so many times, and watched my mother let him go. They had been trying to revive him for at least 30 minutes, while we drove to the hospital, and when we arrived she told them to stop, that they had done all that could be expected. She thanked them, and I cannot imagine the strength that must have taken, to thank the people who couldn't bring him back and to be the one to make the decision that it was time to stop trying.

I miss him so much, and whenever I see a photo of him it hits me again. The thought that I'll never hug him, never feel the scratchiness of his stubble as he kisses my cheek or hear his laugh, it's like a punch to the gut that takes my breath away.

We talk about him every day. I'm determined that Alex will know how much his Papaw loved him and hopeful that he will remember how much he loved his Papaw in return.

This is what I remember:

flying through the air as a child, as he swung me in his arms, knowing that he would never drop me

floating in the ocean with his hands under my back, learning to swim

sitting on his shoulders in that same warm water as a storm rolled in, feeling the waves crash over us, but never being afraid because his strength would keep us safe

sitting in our kitchen, watching him cut up the steak for the stroganoff my mother would be making for dinner

learning to shoot - his large, calloused hands wrapped around my small ones

climbing on his tow truck in the summer, "helping" him wash it, but mostly just getting squirted with the hose

Christmas mornings where the joy in his eyes outshone anything my brother and I were feeling, just so happy to see his kids happy

walking down the aisle towards my soon-to-be husband, my hand on his arm, it felt like floating

the first time he held my son, so tiny, and the gentle love I could see as he cradled Alex in his arms

the way he loved my mother and how they showed me, together, that marriage isn't always easy but it's so worth the work

a million more small moments - the wonderful, which I will hold on to as tightly as I can, and the fights and friction that come from strong, conflicting personalities living in the same house, which I will let go of

I will miss him for the rest of my life.

Love you, Daddy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In My Head

So... it's been awhile since I've posted here. I've been having a hard time motivating myself to write; there's so much in my head that it just swirls around all day, ideas popping in and out, but nothing ever makes it to the keyboard. Very frustrating.

I'm challenging myself to NaBloPoMo this year. I want to write and I think this is exactly the motivation that I need.

There's so much to say; my father passed away in August, Alex turned three in June, we're planning a bathroom remodel, a vacation and just all of the ordinary, everyday things that make this life so amazing.

I'll be using the writing prompts that they have on BlogHer, but probably not all of them. There are things in my head that need to get out, and this kick in the butt is the perfect opportunity.

Nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing, right?

Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the subject that's been keeping me away from here more then any other: my father's extended illness & his death in August. Just thinking about writing about it makes my eyes burn with tears, but I need to get it out and hope that you're willing to hear it.

Until tomorrow...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gratitude and Resolve

The turning of the new year is an amazing thing. It marks not only the passage of time, but also the anniversaries of all that we have gained. It gives us a concrete, markable point during which we have the opportunity to think, really think, about all that has gone before. I'm not saying we can't do this throughout the year, but we get so caught up in the day-to-day that time just slips past, running through our hands like water, vanishing before we've even realized it was something we needed to hold on to.

The last couple of years, though, I've really sat & thought about all that I have to be thankful for, all the joy that I have in my life and also the opportunities I've let slip by. Things haven't always been easy; there are times when I want to crawl into a hole & pull it in after myself, but that's just the day-to-day grind. When I step back and really consider, I realize that things are great, that I'm right where I want to be, and that I have a head full of plans for where I'm going

So, without further ado, the annual list of sappy thankfulness and wishes for the future:

This Boy
cheesy grin courtesy of toddler notions
of what constitutes a smile

Sometimes, I don't even have words for what I feel for him. When I watch him sleep, it takes my breath away. Hearing his laughter is like the sun shining, even during the times when it seems like all I can see is a downpour on an overcast day.

There was a time when I thought that I wouldn't have children, then out of nowhere he was there. A surprise, a shock, an adjustment if I'm being perfectly honest. And even now, there are times, lying in bed, that it all feels unreal. The idea that this perfect person is lying in his crib, just on the other side of the wall, it stuns me anew. I turn up the monitor, just so I can hear him breathing as I fall asleep and I wake with a smile when I hear "Mommy! Where are you?"

Lately he's been challenging, defying us in ways that he never has. He sneaks candy, touches the Christmas tree, grabs things off of Jym's desk, tries to play with my computer, refuses to nap (and then turns into a monster 4 hours before bedtime) and on one heart stopping occasion he ran away from me in a parking lot. He's two, and he's testing limits, exploring his world.

I marvel at the person that he's becoming. I marvel that he is becoming a person, that I get to watch it happen right in front of me. He told me today that his favorite color is blue and it staggered me: how is he big enough to have opinions already? How is he old enough to know these things? But he is, and I soak it up, savoring the becoming & trying to clutch him tight to me at the same time, to keep him small.

But, at the same time, its so easy to just mark the time, to wish away the hours until bedtime. There are days when all he wants is to play with his trains, to run his cars around on the floor for hours at a time. I love to be with him, but when I'm being honest with myself I can admit that toy trains and cars just don't do it for me. I find myself longing for the day he'll be able to sit quietly next to me and read a book. This year I will work harder to hold those hours of trains and cars and make believe close. I will get down in the floor and make choo-choo noises. I will make sure that he never knows that mama doesn't love trains as much as he does, because as sappy as it sounds, his happiness is my own. When he looks back at his early years I know he won't remember many details, but I want his to remember the feelings, especially the feeling of an actively involved mom and all the joy that brings.

This Man
On the porch at Belle Meade, during
our 10th anniversary trip

He is patient, though he will say he is not. He is kind, though he thinks he's a hard ass. He is funny and smart and cuddly and a great cook and a great father (although if he could jump in with the potty training, that would be great). We met when I was 19, and I thought he was sleazy (he is, just a little, like a good used car salesman). I mostly avoided him for the next 2 years, despite the fact that I was drawn to him (or maybe because I was drawn to him, who can tell the mind of a 19 year old girl?). When I finally gave in, he swept me off my feet. We started dating in April and were engaged by June.

There have been hard times, there will be hard times again in the future. But he is there, a rock for my raging river to flow around. Steady and stable, he tempers my moods and keeps me on an even keel when I want to throw caution to the wind, shirking responsibilities and obligations. He helps me be the person that I want to be, he encourages me to do the things that I dream of. When I fret, when I sink into depression he is there, holding out his hand, a lifeline to bring me back.

All those words to say this, simply this: I love him & in 50 years I'll love him still. So this year I will strive to be the patient one, to become more steady and be the person he can lean on. When he needs support, I will not huff impatiently and I will not roll my eyes. I will do things to make his life easier, like he does for me. On occasion, I may even cook dinner (or maybe not, I'd like to keep this realistic).

This Lady
With Alex at Walt Disney World, December 2008

My mother-in-law is, in my humble opinion, the greatest mother-in-law in the history of the world. She comes to our house almost every day and takes care of Alex while Jym and I work. As much as it sucks to leave Alex to go to work, she makes it easier. Alex adores her and she thinks he hung the moon. She helped us buy our house and she's currently given up her garage for more then a month while we try to fix Jym's car. She is supportive, in a no nonsense, zero tolerance for bullshit, Italian mother way and has helped us with so many things that I've lost count.

This year I will be a better daughter-in-law. I will not take her for granted. I will thank her for all the time she gives to our family. I will even take her to lunch, for no reason other than that she is awesome.

These Folks
My parents with Alex, July 2010

My relationship with my parents has not always been the best. I was a rebellious teenager, running wild, said condition exacerbated by my father's struggle with addiction. Things were hard when I was growing up, money was tight and we were far from the Rockwellian version of a perfect family.

But they always loved us and did the best they could. And now that Alex is here, I am desperate for him to know them. They love him beyond anything I could have ever imagined from two grandparents, showering him with attention, filling his time with laughter and joy whenever they're able to visit.

Those visits are too infrequent, however. So this year, I resolve to visit more, to make the 2 hour drive to their home as often as my overstretched finances will allow. My father has myriad health problems, and as much as I hate to think about a time when he'll be gone, I know that it's coming. It could be next month or it could be years from now. The not knowing is hard, harder than I know how to put into words.

So, what I want is to give Alex as many memories as I can, to fill his mind and heart with his Papaw. I want my son to know my father, to remember him and I know that time is limited, so I'll give up some of mine (and some money, too... $3.00/gallon for gas, ack!) to make sure that he does.

That's the big stuff and there are so many more things: my job, my home, cable television, bloggers that make me laugh & make me think, homemade cookies and a million little things that add up to a happy, content life. This year I will savor those things, I will soak them up, I will wallow in the everyday joy. This year I resolve to really live, and love, my life.