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For twenty years, Mother’s Day had nothing to do with me. Nothing. I was not a mother and I didn’t have one. People would wish me a happy Mother’s Day sometimes, because I guess I looked like I should be a mom (I guess it’s my life-long tendency toward plumpness that gave the impression) or they would ask what I did for my mom to celebrate.

The Burden of Blessings )
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I had that appointment today, the one I consider to be only slightly less appealing than the idea of a root canal: my annual OB/Gyn Well Woman exam. It went well.

The ghost inside me )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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“Forty five minutes,” my husband, Jeff, said with amazement as he read the report from our son’s school, “How can anyone stay that angry for forty five minutes? I mean, I can go off when I get mad, but…”

“You’re over it in about 10 or 15 minutes,” I said. Our son is not the only one in the house prone to the occasional hissy fit, but Sweet Pea’s last much, much longer. There is a wide array of styles for individual tempers, and our house comes with the variety pack. Jeff has a quick temper that, like a firecracker, goes “pop!” and then dissipates in a little cloud of smoke. My anger is of the charcoal variety; it takes a lot of work to get me hot under the collar, but once I am there my anger will smolder indefinitely. Sweet Pea has a temper like a Molotov cocktail; a quick burning fuse that explodes and leaves a lot of damage in its wake.

Read? More. )
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I should have run to the store and bought a lottery ticket yesterday; the drawing was last night, and my odds of winning seemed higher than usual because Fate, who likes to flirt but rarely delivers, was blowing me kisses like crazy. I never made it to the store, though, so I will have to be content to just go to my new job on Monday and call it good. The company I interviewed with last week called, and I accepted. I will be making almost 9 thousand more a year than I was at my last job.

Then my 6 year old came home with a perfect school conduct report – no trips to the office, no shoes thrown, no bites, no kicks, no nothing. This is the first one ever he has brought home that did not contain at least one distressing incident.

Enjoy the sun, but watch for gathering clouds )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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For all my fantasizing about running away from home sometimes, I know it would not be a good thing to do. When I was about my son's age, I had a best friend whose mother had done just that, or so she had been told.

When I was in the first grade, my best friend in the whole world was a little red-headed girl named Heather. When you asked about her family, Heather would look down at her feet and say quietly, "I only live with my daddy. My mommy ran away."

I remember looking at her with wide eyes when she told me this. My own mommy sometimes said she wanted to run away, and she often hid for what seemed like hours on end in the bath room reading novels where we kids could not bother her, but I was confident she wasn't going anywhere. It was news to me that mommies were even allowed to run away at all. I figured there was some sort of law in place that said that mommies must, under all circumstances, stick around and love their children.

Finding Joy )
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To my dear niece,

I have not seen you since you were 11 years old, I think. It was around Christmas and your family was visiting your grandfather’s house. It was the last Christmas that y'all would visit that house when the rest of the family was there. I heard that your parents brought you and your siblings around a couple of years ago, after your grandfather got out of the hospital after being treated for the pneumonia that almost killed him, but it was done on a day when the rest of the family was around. I have missed half your life and am now a complete stranger to you.

You used to be a beautiful baby, and baby look at you now… )
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I forgot my mother’s birthday this year. Again. Since she’s been dead for most of my life, there were no repercussions for this. I only remembered it on my own birthday, 3 days later. Being 9 months pregnant on her 37th birthday in the middle of a hot Texas July could not have been any fun for her. By her next one, I would have been a cute little just-starting-to-walk toddler, so that one was no doubt more enjoyable for her. The one after that, she would have been 39 and 6 months pregnant with my kid brother. From what I hear, she was angry at the doctor who told her she didn’t need to worry about birth control until I was a bit older (she never did forgive him) and fumed through the whole pregnancy; I doubt she took a day off to stop fuming on her birthday. In fact, I’m pretty sure turning 39 with a 6 month baby-belly only rubbed her nose in the fact that she believed she was “too damn old this.” Turning 40 with two small children and the security of a tubal ligation would have been a day to celebrate. While she loved us, she never stopped be delighted that we were the last children she would ever have. She never worried about having an empty nest.

“I can’t wait until you kids grow up and move away,” she told us. “It will mean my job is done and I can do what I want. Maybe I’ll write a book. Or your father and I will travel.”

To Be Loved Is To Be Wanted, But Not The Other Way Around )
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Finding the an old family photograph of my mother and her maternal grandparents last week got me thinking about family trees and the branches that grow off of them. My mother once told me a story about a branch of her father’s family tree – or at least the rumor of one – and how she may have brushed up against it one day when she was a teen-aged girl. My mother liked to collect stories, and she liked to tell these stories to her children. On a few occasions I asked some of my cousins if they had ever heard about this particular story, about this possible forgotten (severed?) branch of the family, and none of them had. Their mothers were not like mine, though, and even if they had heard the story they would not have told it to their children since it involves what would have been a scandal at the time it happened.

I guess they were married in God’s eyes. )
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I recently joined a Facebook group for descendants of a set of my great, great, great grandparents (I think I got all the greats in there, at least) and too my delight came across a group photo that included my then 2-year-old mother sitting on the lap of her maternal grandfather. My mother was born in 1933 during the Great Depression. Not a lot of money was spent on luxuries like cameras and film during that era, so pictures of her as a child are a rare find for me.

One thing that I’ve noticed about almost all the photos I’ve seen of her as a child feature her standing or sitting with her left side facing the camera. In a lot of them she is in three-quarters profile, standing or with her body at that angle (in a few with her face turned toward the camera). In the pictures of her as a toddler, she is always looking off to the right, as if someone outside of the frame of the photo were standing in that direction calling her name to keep her from turning toward the photographer.

In the photo below, which features all of grandchildren of the couple taken on their 50th wedding aniversary, she is almost the only child not facing the camera. A casual observer would think this is a case of a squirmy toddler not cooperating, but I suspect it was very deliberate. They didn’t want to ruin the picture by showing her right side, so they made a point to hide the hand wasn’t there.

A very pretty little girl, aside from that one small thing )
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I handled the announcement well. We all did. No one got too emotional, no one panicked, and no one had to be consoled. Not me, and not my oldest or my youngest brother, either. We were told to keep quiet for now, because my middle brother – who is estranged from us siblings but no longer from our father – had not been told that our father has cancer.

It took me a full 24 hours to fall apart, right in the middle of congratulating myself on how well I was handling the news. I hate it when that happens.

We don’t want you kids to worry, but I guess you need to know. )
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Some children are born with a mark for tragedy that no one but Fate can see. They come into the world looking like every other child; healthy, normal, sweet-smelling and lovable. We can't recognize the mark, because it would keep us from loving these children like we should. We would know that to love this child will mean our hearts will be broken, and many of us would turn our backs on them. But the mark, unseen and unrecognized, has the opposite effect on us: we seem to love them more.

"Some people have hobbies that they dedicate their lives to," said my mother's friend Cecil Murphy, "mine is loving Rodger."

Everyday Miricles )
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"Our dead are never quite," my cousin Aly commented to me recently.

On my father's side, my Swedish side, the dead are as quiet as in any other family. Swedes are a quiet, mind-your-own-business sort of people when they are alive, and they remain so after they die. It's my mother's Celtic (primarily Scotch-Irish) bloodline that is so ornery in life that they continue to kick up havoc after they die. The opinions on that side of the family are often so strong that nobody is going to let a little thing like being dead keep them from putting their 2-cents worth in.

Saints Who Raise Hell )
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I went to see my friend Astro Joe perform with his friend Benny Rod at a area wine bar the week I after I got laid off. Joe and Benny met up when I used to frequent the open mike at my favorite but now defunct coffee house, and now they collaborate together as a musical act they call Rod Garcia, because while they can both sing and play various instruments, they aren't real creative when it comes to names.

Say Howdy! )
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A curious thing has occurred here in my 40th year: I find myself missing my mother more than ever. Maybe it's because the 25th anniversary of her passing is fast approaching, causing a wound I though closed, if not healed, to reopen and bleed anew.

That's what the tears feel like; blood from a cut I was sure had knitted itself shut and that need not be so careful around anymore. Then something pulls at the edges of it – a memory, a phrase in a song, a longing – and I feel this hot dampness running down my skin. "Now where did that come from?" I wonder, and grab a tissue to clean up the mess.

Why on earth, all of the sudden, do I want to see her so bad when I barely remember face on some days? Why do I want to ask for her advice and seek her approval? Why do I want to hear her tell just one time that she is proud of how I turned out, she who did not live long enough to see how I even would turn out?

Old Wounds Are New Again )
ninanevermore: (Default)
After Yesterday's Post, [livejournal.com profile] noblwish commented that her dead father talks to her all the time (she's blood, and I can vouch that this happens in our family) and [livejournal.com profile] simplecity2htwn mentioned that when he laughs he hears his father laughing, which got me to thinking about the conversations (yes, two way) I've had with my mother in the years since she died.
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Right after someone close to you dies, you feel them everywhere. They are in the rooms of your house, they are in your car while you bawl your eyes out because driving is the only time you can find the kind of solitude to cry that way, and they are even helping you get dressed for their funeral (Just wear that, it's fine. No one cares how your hair looks today, don't worry about it). You feel them wanting to put their arms around you. You hear them, just beneath your conscience mind, telling you that you are going to be okay.

People don't like to talk about this, because they think others will think they are crazy or delusional. We've been trained to not trust what we feel. I've learned that whenever I think I am special and unique in some way, or crazy in someway, that there are always a lot of people who will step forward and say that they know exactly what I'm talking about.

They step back after awhile, after they are sure you are okay. They move on only after you let go of them a bit and let them. It's almost like when I tell my son, "I can't carry you. You're big enough to walk on your own." But when he stumbles and reaches out his hand to me, I take it and hold it tight until he finds his balance again. When you reach out to the dead, they usually reach back.

Clinging to Ghosts )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
Post Mother's Day Musings
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It's been 4 years and 4 Mother's Days now, and I still can't get used to the idea of this holiday having anything to do with me. I remembered that Mother's Day was this weekend late in the week, and on Sunday I drove my son over to my Dad's house to hand deliver a card from him to my stepmother because I'd only just bought it the day before and didn't have time to mail it. The cool thing is that due to my not mailing it on time, I got extra credit for having the tyke hand it to her.

Then I got reprimanded for forgetting that Saturday was my father's birthday. I've known Jehovah's Witnesses who keep better track of birthdays than I do (perhaps because they have to go to the trouble to remember what date not to celebrate on). Since my mother died in 1984, my father probably has 24 birthday cards stashed away that I've given him, and they are all those "Happy Belated Birthday" type cards. By next weekend, he'll have 25 of them.

Is anyone missing a holiday? I seem to have one I don't think is mine. )
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Part of my little boy's therapy right now if for me to tell him at the end of each day which of his actions made me proud, and which disappointed me.

When you are a child, you hate to disappoint your parents. Even as a teenager, I found being grounded a far softer punishment than having my father look at me sadly and say, "I am very disappointed in you." I could gripe and feel indignant about being grounded. His disappointment cut to the bone though, and made me feel as tiny as one of the thimbles or little bobbins of thread in my mother's sewing supplies. Please, anything but disappointment.

One memory of my mother's disappointment still haunts me.

Sometimes you know better, but still need a reminder. )
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The first Christmas after your mother dies of breast cancer is not the worst one, believe it or not. At least, it wasn't for my family. My mother died October 6, 1984, when I was 15 years old. By the time the holidays rolled around, we had settled into the routine of grief rather comfortably, or at least as comfortable as you can be with a jagged hole cut into the fabric of your reality. The feelings of a bad dream we couldn't wake up from had evolved into a sad existence we were determined to muddle through. More than two months after the funeral, we were still talking about my mother in the present tense, and we felt obliged to make it a good Christmas because we knew she wanted us to.

Novocain Noel )
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I often find myself thinking about how my mother used to rate other Christians as well as religious people who were something other than Christian using three broad classifications: "okay," "different than us," and "weird." A denomination or religion could fall under more than one category (for example, followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon were both "different than us" and "weird"), or it could come with a modifier ("a little bit weird" or only "sort-of okay.") As open-minded as I try to be in my adult life, I still find myself using her same rating system for other people of faith, and still regard many religions based on my mother's assessment of them when I was growing up, in part because it is so easy and convenient.

As a child when I first noticed Pentecostal women walking around with their long hair and long skirts, I asked my mother why.

"Because they are Pentecostal," she said, "and they're weird."

God Loves You, But I Think You're a Weirdo. )
ninanevermore: (Jack)
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My diabetes turned 31 years old this past week. 31 is a big milestone; it is no longer a young, frisky disorder, but rather a mature disease that has established itself firmly in my life. I should buy it flowers to acknowledge the occasion, I guess. Better yet, I should get it a box of chocolates. My diabetes would appreciate that, as it is a disease with a great sense of humor.

October Surprise )

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