Monday, May 25, 2009
On Sunday, Steve came down and we went to 'visit' Jay at the funeral home. He was covered in the red wool blanket that he's had forever. It's such a scary sight to see someone without any color. I was glad Steve was there to comfort me. We said our goodbyes. Jay was going to be creamated on Monday.
On Monday, mom and I met Shelly and Beth from Jay's work at the spot where we thought that Jay would aprove for a friends and family get-together to celebrate his life. We put together the obituary for Tuesday's paper. I scanned some pictures for a movie. Mom and I shopped for 'funeral' clothes.
On Tuesday, mom and I met some friends from her work for lunch and I went home for Anthony's Choir Concert. It was really hard for me to leave mom, but I knew that Steve would take care of her. He stayed and worked in the Twin Cities for 3 days. My mom was glad to have him there, too.
On Wednesday I dropped everyone off at school and went to have my hair and nails done. I needed some time to decompress a little bit. After school, I picked up kids and took them to their dentist appointments. The folks at Kenwood Dental are so good to us. It's Miller Day when we come in. They get 6 of us in and out in 2 hours. A total of 151 teeth were cleaned and checked and we didn't have a single cavity! Yipee! Then I went back to the Twin Cities. Mom and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and drinks and WINGO. We bought a million Thank You cards and a few nice picture frames at Target.
Thursday was our day to sleep in. Mom is always up before me. I put the finishing touches on the PowerPoint I made and the program for the gathering. We arrived at the gathering site an hour early and organized everything. Shelly was there to help and some of mom's friends came early to help, too. It was so incredible to see the nearly 250 people who visited. My mom had a line-up all night. I mingled.
Thank you to everyone who attended, sent flowers and cards, and donated to worthy outdoor education causes. A special thank you goes out to Jay's work! Your kind words and prayers have made this so much easier for me. Just knowing that my mom has so many friends and people to care for her in the Twin Cities has made it possible for me to relax a little bit and get back to my family in Duluth. Thank you so much to all of those people who are looking out for her.
I'm going to add another post with the PowerPoint that I made of all of Jay's old pictures. I have to figure out how to do it. :)
Friday, August 15, 2008
The first one is a picture of Steve and his mom at his sister's wedding in November 2007. They're beautiful and handsome, I think.
Next is my mom tying Andrew's roller skates in Maplewood sometime in the winter 2007-08. Nick had a hockey tournament in White Bear and I took him along with Andrew and Katie. We had a great time skating with Grandma!
Here's a video of Nick water skiing at the cabin. This was his 2nd time ever water skiing. He looks good!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves.Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing.Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the "Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame." The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I
include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs.
There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
Cindy's favorite part:
Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.
The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense; matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.
That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.