Monday, May 28, 2012

That Phone Call

It's Monday, Memorial Day, and I've just lit the grill. I sigh, polish off half a drink, and pick up my cell. Usually I call on Sunday, but yesterday was just too busy, so I put it off until today. When my sister answers, I'm surprised and pleased. A rare moment of sanity in a crazy call. We talk until there's nothing left to say, and the silence starts. Then I say , "I should talk to Daddy now."
 Not that I don't want to talk to him. I do. But he's not really him anymore. After a few minutes of talk about me, the kids, my husband, the weather, the Cubs, we sign off. I tell him I love him and I'll talk to him later. It pains me to hear how pleased he was at my call.
 I hang up, take another drink, and push the buttons to call my mother at the rehabilitation center. Hip repair; this one's working. She's eating dinner when she answers, and we laugh. No matter what time I call, she's always eating something. I listen to the commentary on the food-enough butter for the potato, really good strawberries. She asks about the kids, about me, about my husband, about the garden. I answer, sometimes 2 or 3 times. Then she asks about the grand-dogs, Are all three doing alright? I take a deep breath and remind her our oldest dog died last year, just like I did last week. 
 The same conversation, the same questions, every single week. Sometimes there's a moment of great lucidity, a comment or question that takes me by surprise. This week it's about my daughter, make sure to tell her how proud they are of her, for getting her CNA while still in high school, for having such great ambitions for college and career. I tell her my daughter's ambitions are inspired by the health problems my mother has had, and I can tell my mother is pleased.
 The pain I feel as I sign off isn't unique to me or to any child of an aging parent. The guilt I feel at not being there, at not being able to help, is not unique. I give my sister the support she deserves for taking care of them through phone calls and prayers. It's all I've got to give.  I let her know to call if she needs anything. 
 There are no answers to this situation. I'm not independently wealthy, I can't conjure out of thin air a full time nurse, a cook, a rehabilitation therapist, a doctor, a car for my sister. All I can do is to pray God , let this be enough. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lessons Learned From My Mother

I realize this post is a little late for Mother's Day, but I wanted to get it up here anyway. My mother is a wonderful woman who loves her family dearly, and I learned a lot from her. So without further ado, here are 
Lessons Learned from my Mother:

1. Cooking is about more than the food. My mom's parents ran a restaurant , and my mother learned to cook from her mother, and I learned from my mother, and my daughter is learning from me. It's sort of a family inheritance. I make a mean pot of chicken and noodles, a dish I learned how to make when I was a teenager. I tweaked it a little to suit my family's tastes, but it's basically the same dish. (And if you want to know how I season them, ask my daughter what the spice "Simon and Garfunkel" is!)

2. Sometimes love doesn't look like love-at least not right away. Ask any teen anywhere, and they'll tell you that their parents are mean. I would have said the same thing when I was a teen. But as a parent, I now know that my parents did the things they did because they loved me and wanted me to turn out okay. 

3.  Sometimes you gotta take a break. I remember growing up, when I was occasionally home during the day, seeing me mother pour herself a cold Coke, and sit down with a magazine. I remember thinking how nice it was  that she was able to do that, and wishing I could be my own boss one day. While I am my own boss now, the lesson still holds. You have to be able to take a break in order to be at your freshest for the tasks ahead. 

4. Always put God in the right place. I don't know if I can explain this one adequately. I remember seeing my Mother praying almost every day. It taught me alot about how to look at my life. When things are at their worst, I almost always think to myself," God has always taken care of me, and he always will." I learned that at my mother's knee, praying along with her. It might just be the most valuable lesson she ever taught me.

5. Make your house a Home. Sometimes the ephemera is important. A comfy quilt, a soda when you want it, a chair in the back yard. These are all things that can make us feel like our place is the best place to be.
6. Your husband's opinion is the only one that counts. No one else should influence you in a direction that is counter to that wanted by your husband. Not a popular sentiment these days, but if you want a lasting marriage, it's the only way to go. I value my husband's opinion more than any one else on earth, and he makes me very happy. (If 26 years mean anything to you! )

She taught me a lot more than this, of course. And some lessons, I'm still learning. But I know enough to get through the day to day on my own, and that's the most important lesson of all! Thanks mom!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Right Now

Right Now...
... we are loving the spring flowers on our third-year vinca vines, which magically established themselves in our rock border.

... we are enjoying some spring fires, with our found firewood, from our newly built woodshed.
... we are looking for bullfrogs in our yard, which is apparently full of them!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


1. I love to browse the internet for new recipes, but lately I've been noticing a lot of recipes that call for Nutella. I like Nutella, but what's up with all the recipes? Are they being put out by the company that makes it? Suspicious.

2. Hunter, also known as Tiny Puppy, is no longer so tiny or so puppy. He is just, well, sort of fat now. Unfortunately, he's still a lap dog. So, something like 40 pounds of bony dog occasionally finds it's way onto my lap, where he will actually growl (in a grumbly sort of way) if I try to move him.

3. The Comptroller for our little town has been arrested for surreptitiously making off with 30 million dollars in taxpayer money. The general assembly of the State of Illinois, however, remains free after promising 40,000 daycare providers they would be paid for providing daycare to 400,000 low-income children, and then changing their minds after care was already provided. Seems a little lopsided to me.

4. Woke up yesterday feeling like a cold was coming on. Today I feel like someone deflated me-no energy at all, achy, sore throat, etc. It's a weekend, of course. Monday morning I'll probably feel wonderful. Why is that?

5. Speaking of the Comptroller's arrest, how in the world do you not notice a missing 30 million dollars? If I lose a twenty, I freak out, and clean my purse, pockets, car, and couch cushions until I find it. If it isn't found, I go into serious mourning. Thirty million dollars? I think I'd notice.

Ah, well. Life goes on as usual. Have a great day!