Monday, October 27, 2014


I told my husband this very seductive story last night.
It was about a time when, on the weekends, we will have nothing to do. How we will wonder what should we do to fill the day.
He interrupted my tale at once and said he didn't believe me.
"No, it is true! We will turn to Chronicle for ideas about where to go. We will stay at bed-and-breakfasts just to get out of the house...."
"You are making this up!" he said as he wiped the guts of a pumpkin from his hands so he could start carving.
"I mean it. You'll see!" I replied, itching my nose with my wrist, my hands sudsy from scrubbing a cheese grater, and getting splashed by the new dishes the sugared-up kids were throwing in the sink. "For reals!"
"We will never not have to do something." He was adamant.
"That is what all parents think and then suddenly we won't be needed."

On a Sunday night after a busy weekend, my words were a comfort to our weary selves.
As I woke to a quiet house, pre-dawn, my thinking about it has taken a well-rested turn in direction.
I will miss these weekends.
I will miss being needed.

With three kids, the being needed will wean out, thankfully, but it will happen. I am not sure how much longer I will hear "One more hug and kiss!" while I am trying to leave their bedroom at night. Sometimes? I drag my feet going back in to give it to them. I self talk- "they need this, they are asking for this, make sure they feel this love to send them to sleep." I could feel bad about the dragging feet, but I know I am not a bad parent for being done by 9pm. Days can be exhausting.

I am on the cusp of the possibility that my oldest will withdraw from me for a while. I can see the balancing act of it. When to return her hug fiercely, when to grab her for one on one. When to add the humor and when to remove it from a situation. When to let the slamming of a door go and when to march up there, young lady, and let her know what is what. Soon, that door will be open and the room quiet because she will be away in school or in her apartment, or in her house that I will hope hope hope is in my town or near by.

I remember when I lived in PA my mom told me I lived far away in the boonies. When I finally made it back to MA to live, my mom told me I lived too far away from the Cape. Now, 50 mins from her apartment in Boston, my mom took my hand and said "I wish you lived closer." And on quiet mornings like this, I know what she means. Me, too, mom.

Someday, my husband and I will have nothing to do. And those first few weekends, we are going to relish it. We are going to spin in it, and take road trips, and sit and read, and grocery shop together (my fantasy) and sleep in (his fantasy) and eat dinner at 9pm like we did when first married, and maybe move back to NYC. Or maybe he can convert my porch into an all season one and we'll just stay here forever where our kids have space to return. And we will count the days until they do. And we will keep busy getting their favorite foods and planning a winning outing we can all do together, and hope they have allotted us some time during their visit to hang out with us. We will be pretty bored by then I am sure.
And I hope they live closer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Looking Ahead, Looking Back.

Around this time every year it is time to buy a new calendar and start filling it with all the sporting events, parties, Dr. and DDS appointments made 6 months in advance, and get generally organized as we approach the starting of a new year.

I usually take about 40 minutes to pick out a new calendar. This year I grabbed the one with Asian images and Thich Nhat Hanh quotes on it because if the last week is any indication, I need to calm the heck down and mindfulness quotes can do that for me.

As I settled in to filling in the crisp new pages without any cross outs, arrows, or kids' embellishments of "yay!" for sleepovers or "don't go!" for trips, I grabbed my current calendar to copy birthdays down. And that is when I stopped and just stared at all the pages.

What a year.

And I don't just mean the heavy stuff. I mean, I saw an elaborate meal crossed off the dinner menu one night because a friend called for a walk. I remember that walk.

A dentist appointment that started me seething. I don't even go to that dentist anymore.

A birthday I write down every year even though I am not in touch with that person- do I not write it this year?

A birthday of a friend I never hear from lately. I texted her a hello.

Whoa! So many birthdays in February, March, August.

I looked at Little Brendan's birthday and he shares it with the Dalai Lama.
(Of course he does.)

April. My Father's birthday. My Dad's day of first breath. And, there. Two weeks later he had died. I kind of had to meet my new April. The whole month had just become so much different than the Spring, new life, daylight filled days that it was back in March. What struck me was that my Dad died on Good Friday. This upcoming year Good Friday lands on his Birthday. That spoke to me. Not so much in a religious sense since I am not religious. But Dear ol' Da grew up a good Catholic boy into the man who made sure we all got the foundation of a religion that so shaped his family, neighborhood, and men he worked for. I thought it a decent nod to a life well lead. I also liked that the day he was born the first year after he died was labeled a Good Friday, because his death was a blessing and his presence in the world was quietly powerful.
 As I hung up the calendar I faced the quote that tells me that my looking ahead and looking back needs to come to an end.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What Gets Left Behind

Yesterday I was sad.

I wrote to my brother, Ter, and he wrote back that he, too, was sad. He wrote: It is said that after a break-in, it takes a really long time to know what is lost.
We were talking about the death of our father.

You hear the word "profound" when it comes to an amazing amount of loss and devastation or tremendous change with huge impact.
Yes. That's right.
I can be hiding from my family, trying to stifle a crying jag, and the word "profound" repeats in my head, like a mantra. It is a perfectly round sounding word like the noise of pain. It is a perfectly accurate word to describe how I am feeling. How I've been changed. How I'm thinking.

Like being robbed, I go to ask my father a question like one would reach for their necklace. Gone.
I hear his voice like one would see what appears to be the corner of their laptop under a couch cushion. A mind's trick.

And what got me yesterday was that I didn't even know that I had lost an old familiar tradition shared until receiving the stinging slap of realization. I didn't see it coming so I couldn't brace for it and was unbalanced by it.

On a quiet, rainy and dark morning, I'm sitting in a chair he frequented, and I'm thinking about how he would make me feel a little bit better. What words he would use. But all that comes to me is a completely different memory.

He was home one weekend day and my mom was out. I'm maybe 10 and cleaning my closet when this horrendous Mickey Mouse doll fell on my head. (It had a hard body and you could squeeze his hands to make him pigeon step around. Am I dating myself with this?)

I was more offended by the attack than anything and ran downstairs to tell him what happened.

"What doll hit you?" he demanded, in all seriousness.
"Mickey Mouse." I said.

My father got up from the couch, grabbed his cigarette and went marching up to my room.
I ran off behind him, confused. He got to my room and halted. (Probably frightened by the mess. He was a tidy man.)
"Show me. Show me."
Obediently, I ran to my closet and grabbed the offending toy and held it up to him. He placed his cigarette between his teeth, giving him a ferocious and menacing appearance, and took Mickey from me and said, "Hey, buddy! Blammo!" and hit the doll square in the face.

(stunned silence)

He handed the toy back to me, removed his cigarette from his mouth, and kissed me on the head.
"Nobody hurts Kitty Kat Kate."

How fortunate that memories can never be stolen. And you can find them when searching through the wreckage.