Sunday, January 3, 2016

Be Happy, for me

The exchange with Eldest, in text.

Me: I didn't tell you enough that I love you and I hope you get everything you want. Safe travels, honey.

Eldest: I love you too Mom. Please try to be happy, for me?

Me: I'm so very happy for you. You will go so far and do such amazing things. I envy you your life!

Eldest: Thanks Mom. But I meant, try to be happy now -- for yourself.

Me: Oh. Missed a punctuation.




I have nothing to offer but: Oh.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Recipe for Remembering

My father had a very favorite dessert that my mom would make on special occasions. I think I know the genesis of the recipe but I could be wrong. I believe the woman who passed the recipe onto my mother was the wife of a fellow Air Force officer. I remember three couples -- my mom and dad, the recipe-giver and her husband and the mom and dad of the boy who liked snakes.

[I was going to get into the where and how and when of their first meeting and then similar posting several years later at the Pentagon, but then I realized how my descriptions of the other two couples are so very odd. Odd because these are people I saw with some degree of regularity in the five years my dad was stationed at the Pentagon when I was between the ages of nearly-4 and nearly-9. And yet my take-away is "recipe-giver" and parents of "the boy who liked snakes."

I think the recipe-giver was named Charlotte. And I think it was her funeral that was the first one I attended when I was a junior or senior in high school. I wore orange pants to the funeral. I didn't cry. But I did project her family's misery onto what mine would be if my mom was the one in the casket.

As for the snake-loving boy, well, you have to know that I have a fear of snakes. And snakes are everywhere in Northern Virginia, particularly in areas kids like me would explore with friends in the forests and creeks (which likely all had been handed over to development 35 to 40 years ago). But this kid would play with snakes. Ick'ed me out.]

That three-paragraph aside was not the original point of my post, but it's funny how it does, in fact, tie into my point. For the first time on my own, I made that sour cherry walnut cake with sea foam icing recipe. The last time my mom was here, I helped her make it (not unlike the many times I helped her bake it in my long-ago youth). We had hunted high and low for sour cherries, so when we finally did find them, we bought three cans. The recipe only needs one.

And so, as Eldest has been home from college and I've been taking many baking requests, Pete requested that one. My father's favorite. A rather labor-intensive baking experience. The sea form icing recipe card is from the same manual typewriter of many years ago. I had to call my mom because I couldn't find the cake recipe. It's printed on my Epson but it still has my mother's words.

I have vague recollections of the celebrations which warranted this cake. Besides my dad's birthday and father's day, of course, there were celebrations for promotions and there were fancy dinner parties. It was never a workaday cake. It never will be. It will be one for remembering.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tears on my Pillows

I can't tell you how much they fought over letting their aunt stay in their room. If she was granted a stay there, she would leave her scent. Her very distinctive scent.

And so now, when she has departed again, I go into the room she stayed to breathe her in.

It's her.

And it's her in all the glory I remember her. And the kids try to breathe that scent in.

But I close the room off, with me securely inside, so I can breathe the scent that is my sister. And I can breathe deeply in the folds of the only-just-stripped-bed.

And I can feel her, here, and wallow in self-pity because now she's making her way back home to her own home.

And I will wait here for her return.

Tear-stained pillows await her.

I miss her.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Story

It is Christmas. And my kids are all home. If I live long enough, they won't be here, all together, because they will have lives to lead. Go forth, kids. Really. And truly.

But for now, they are here. And Patti Smith sings "Oh Holy Night" for El Papa. And massive non-believer that I am, for today, I will believe.

I'll believe that unrequited love will sustain that one. And I'll believe that she will dance. And I'll believe that he'll make his place at futbol.

Merry Christmas, the best kids that have ever happened to me. I wish I knew, then, what I know now. What do I know now? My weary soul rejoices.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Somewhere Between 2 and 19 Years of Age

I'm not sure it's a true memory. When people ask me what the earliest memory I have is, I most definitely age myself by telling them it was when JFK was assassinated. I am just over two years old. For 40 years, I've been pointing to that day as my first memory of childhood. We are in Ludlow, Massachusetts. It is the home I know of as my grandparents' house. Later, I will learn that it was, in fact, the house my parents bought. At the time, though, I know it as my grandparents' house. And old people -- my grandparents, my own parents -- are crying. The reason I think this memory can't be true is I don't believe my very conservative father could have given a crap that JFK would have been killed.

Still, it is the first memory I can recall. There are almost no TV channels. The five or six existing at that time -- within antennae range -- are all reporting the news of Dallas. One channel, though, has Captain Kangaroo or some nonsense on. The adults plunk me down in front of the TV to watch that.

The memory fades.

When I am 19 years old and in college, the afternoon soap operas are interrupted with news of Ronald Reagan being shot. I say aloud that I hope he's dead. The one conservative in the school is appalled. I'm appalled, too, that I would voice that. Being 19, however, I don't admit that.

There is no point to this post, beyond the unequivocal fact that JFK was killed 52 years ago. And I remember that.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


A few weeks ago, one of my employees passed away. She'd taken time off starting in late August. She had a pre-existing kidney condition and it had apparently flared up. Only it hadn't flared up. In the end, it turned out to be cancer. I can't say if the misdiagnosis hastened her end. In the end, it was her end.

She was so polished. She was so together. She was a dancer, not unlike my own dancing girl. She still performed, and she was also a dance teacher. I picture her and her poise and I get a smidgen of a glimpse at how her students must have seen her.

I very much enjoyed my interactions with her, limited as they were to discussing project details and saying, "Good morning!" and "Good night!"

I didn't know the true her. I wonder if we ever know the "true" her or him. Maybe the ones we've snuggled with, we know the truth of who they are. So that's a handful of people in my life.

I donated money to the kitty to get her buried. With a pre-existing condition, there is no life insurance to be had. Our company gave 10 times the amount I gave to get her buried. My colleague -- and good friend -- said if we don't give something to acknowledge such a woman as she was who had been with us for such a long time, what the fuck are we doing here anyway? Only, she doesn't curse, so I've made her remark more colorful.

So I'm going to her memorial in a couple of hours, and I'm going to sit in some Kingdom Hall and encounter people who are believers in the antithesis of my belief, and I'm going to help send her off. I'm going to tell her mother and her sister that I will hold her in my thoughts. I'm going to tell them that she was someone who made a difference.

Aren't we all?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Clearly, I'm not Tech Savvy

The several regular readers I have know that Youngest is futbol crazy. Give that boy a futbol, and he's all over it.

Oh, sorry, you're mostly Americans. I don't mean handball crazy. You know, that silly game where people repeatedly hold a pigskin and pretend it's football. That game that has the greatest commercials of all time every year the first week of February. You know the one, right?

All right. All right. I'll call it soccer for you people.

Youngest is soccer crazy. His dad is, too. And everyone I hang out with on the weekends is as crazed.

He's good. Really good. Not just "mom says he's good," but really good.

He got picked to go to the tryouts for the Olympic Development Program.

This is getting too convoluted.

I'll stop now.

They sent out a cut list for those not asked back for the third tryout next month. I looked at the list and saw that he didn't make the cut.

I was sad.

He was okay with it.

He moved on.

Saturday, at our tournament, the father of another kid on the team asked if they should bring him for the final tryout, when Pete and I are away. I teared up a little and told them he hadn't made the cut. He and his wife argued with me, but I was sure.

I was totally sure until they proved that I was wrong. I had been looking at the numbers for the GIRLS team, not the BOYS team.

Because, duh, you have to choose one.

So, Youngest is going to the final tryouts. He might make it, he might not. Thank you, new friends, for proving me wrong.

I've never been so happy to be wrong in my life.


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