Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lots of Miles, Lots of Thoughts

Each work day I drive 50 minutes to work and 50 minutes home from work.  During that time, I often find my mind wandering to some very random thoughts.  Many times these thoughts are not in sequence or connect with a previous thought, but just pop into my head and make me wonder...

Do people driving by me while I'm singing think I am in a band practicing my latest number or a hopeful American Idol contestant practicing for my big audition?  Why do I hear more rock music on WSRS than WAAF lately?  When did I become old enough to like WSRS?  Why do birds only sit on the Ararat St. sign on 190 and not the one 100 feet before it or 100 feet after it?  Why do people always cut me off when 190 becomes 290?  Why am I never caller 14 to win things on WXLO?  What am I going to have for lunch today? Did I take anything out of the freezer for supper?  Maybe I should call home and ask Jake to take something out?  How did my parents ever let me drive home alone through the night from South Carolina with no cell phone when I was 18? How did they sleep at all during the night while I was driving? Am I being ridiculous to ask Jake to text me when he gets to  Haverhill, 45 minutes away from home?  Will my hair be white or gray when I get old? Should I cut my hair?  Why can't I remember this song on the radio?  Oh yeah, "Rumpshaker", who sings it?  Why does it make me shake my rump? Why do I know every word?  Why do I still like this song?  Why does it remind me of afterparties at Jeff Daigneault's?  I miss ShBooms.  I miss my Worcester friends.  I should call Amy tonight.  Maybe we can go out for our birthdays.  What would I wear?  Where would we go?  Where do people our ages go in Worcester to have fun these days?  Why do I always feel old and overdressed at dance clubs now?  When did I become "the lady" instead of "the girl"?  You know, like when you're in a store and a child bumps you, and the mom says, "Say sorry to the lady".  When did I become the lady and not the girl?  Will my girl, my daughter, still look like me when she's older?  Will she get married and have babies someday?  I loooooooovvvvvveeee babies.  Will my sons get married?  Will my daughters-in-law hate me because their husbands, my sons, are so used to having Mom doing everything for them?  Should I teach them how to do laundry, how to make basic foods?  HA HA, remembering when I made macaroni and cheese for the first time by myself, followed all the directions, drained the macaroni in the collander in the sink, put the collander back on the stovetop, read the next direction of adding milk and butter and added them, right into the collander, right on the stovetop, letting it all drain out into the gas burner, into the stove.  Oops... the directions really should say to put the macaroni back into the pan before adding the milk and butter.  Who came up with directions and original recipes?  Who decided to mix such and such, taste it, and name it?  Who comes up with names for streets?  Why does every town have a street named for at least one kind of tree? Maple? Elm?  Oak?  Pine?  Birch?  What trees didn't make the cut?  HA HA, remembering the one year I got a real Christmas tree, put it in the back of my pickup truck and drove across Worcester to the designated spot to drop off old Christmas trees, got out of the truck, no tree in the back anymore LOL.  I liked my truck, I thought I was so cool in that little pick-up truck. I liked four-wheeling, and I was good at it.  I've never ridden a four-wheeler, ATV or snowmobile, and someday I want to try that.  I hate being cold though so maybe I should skip the snowmobiling.  Man, it's hot in here, the kids are right, I do blast the heat in the car, maybe I should turn it down, then I'll be too cold, I'll just leave it on and open the window a crack.  It never fails in the parking lot at work that someone always turns for the one open spot at the top of the lot before I can get there, and then I end up in the back of the lot.  Oh well, it's the only exercise I do all day, I guess I can handle the extra 50 feet, how lazy am I?  Oh shoot, forgot to roll up the window, back in the car, turn the key, roll up the window, shut the car off, lock the door and off to work.  Hope there's a good song on the radio on the way home so I can fool other drivers into thinking I'm an aspiring rock star.  Yeah, right, in my mini-van, that's what they think...

Yeah, random thoughts...anyone else do this?  Yes or no?  Circle one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

They say laughter is the best medicine.  I don't know if that is true, but I will agree that it can lighten a somber mood and take one's mind off of their sadness for a little while.

My children often ask what they were like when they were younger (younger than their current ages of 19, 11 and 9).  Sometimes they want to know about their birth, sometimes about their toddler days and other times they just want to hear funny stories about times that I remember perhaps a little better than they do of their earlier days of life.

Yesterday was one of those such days, and I shared funny stories with them, and now I will share them with you, hoping to bring a smile to your face, make you chuckle a little bit and just to lighten a mood.

Jake was my funny guy, and actually still is.  I recalled when he was about 4 and we lived in the heart of the city of Worcester. We went to the grocery store one day, where we were clearly the minority.  As we were in the check-out line, and I was putting the items on the conveyor belt, I happened to notice a very tall African American man behind us.  And then I heard son's little voice asking "Do you play basketball?"  The man chuckled and answered, "No, but I get asked that alot because I am so tall."  And then I heard it son's innocent and honest comment, "I didn't ask you cuz you're tall, I asked you cuz you're Black."  Fortunately the man found that to be very funny.  I did not.

As happens sometimes when you are a single parent, you end up bringing your child everywhere you go.  One day, Jake had a snow day and needed to go to work with me.  On the way home, as we were walking to the car, we passed a Dunkin' Donuts.  I had promised him a doughnut after work if he was good, and so we stopped.  He got 2 chocolate doughnuts and ripped into one of them as soon as we left the downtown store.  As we walked up Pleasant Street, I could see ahead that there was a man rifling through the trash can.  Jake noticed him too and asked what he was doing.  In my most politically correct manner, I told him that unfortunately there are some in this world who don't have homes or food and that this man was probably one of those people who was looking for something to eat.  That answer sufficed, and we kept walking up the hill.  Jake decided he only wanted the one doughnut and threw the other into a nearby trash can.  As we approached the man up ahead, I grabbed my child's hand and then I heard son's little voice saying "If you are still hungry, there's a chocolate doughnut in the trash can down there." The man pulled his head up and looked at us, no expression on his face.  I grabbed the little hand a little tighter and tried to get him to walk faster when again I heard son's little voice saying "My mom said you are homeless and have no food so I just wanted to tell you about the doughnut."  So I picked him up and walked a little faster.

And I saved the best for was an unofficial company habit for some of us to go to Cactus Pete's after work on Fridays.  One Friday, Jake joined us.  We sat at a table with a co-worker Julie and a supervisor, who I will call Mr. L.  This particular Friday it was quite busy, and Jake needed to use the bathroom.  The women's room line was long, and no one was letting us cut, even though I said it was for my son.  So I allowed him his first visit to the men's room.  I told him not to talk to anyone and to do what he had to do and then come right out.  Some time went by, probably not much time, but it seemed like a long time to me, and men came out of the bathroom, but not my little man.  Finally, out he comes, and we go back to the table. The first thing he said was, "Did you see that man with the blue shirt on?"  My heart jumped into my chest as I quickly answered, "Yes, why?"  That's when I heard son's little voice saying, "He had a huge private."  Ahhh, yes, apparently the first visit to the men's room for a little boy who lived only with his mother had been quite an eye-opener. Fortunately Julie and Mr. L. found that to be funny.  I was a bit embarrassed.

Nathan is my sensitive, caring and loving 11 year old, and although he is that way now, he was a little different when a toddler.  He went through an angry coffee-table clearing, chair-throwing, biting stage as a toddler.  He also went through a swearing stage, where anytime he got upset about something he would swear, almost as if he had Turrett's.  There was one such day when we were in WalMart, and he bent to pick something up. As he stood, he bumped his head on the conveyor belt. I knew enough not to mention it and to just let it slide, but the cashier did not and probably thought I was the worst mother ever to not be addressing his hurt.  Her mistake...As she said with deep concern "Honey, are you okay?", I cringed and for good reason, as the response was "Shut your mouth b*tch."  Yes, he got picked up and carried out of the store immediately.  We didn't go back there for a while.

But now Nathan is wonderful, and there is no sign of that angry little boy.  He cares about other's feelings, and is a good big brother to his sister.  A few years ago, I did my annual assessment of myself and decided it was time for a diet. As I announced that to Nathan and Allie, Nathan started crying. When I asked why, he said that he didn't want me to change.  I thought that was so sweet, until he finished his sweet comment with "We like you fat."  Another time, I was downstairs in the morning getting ready for our day and waiting for the kids to wake up, when Nathan came racing downstairs yelling my name.  I thought something was wrong and turned to ask "What's the matter?"  He said, "Oh never mind" and turned back around.  I asked what that was all about and was told, "I had a dream you were skinny.  But no, still fat." as he ran back up the stairs.  Keep running, buddy, keep running :)

Allie is funny and sarcastic, but she is so cute that her sarcastic comments make me laugh, most times.  When I ask her to do too many things at once, I get answers like "I still haven't done the 1st thing.  I'm not a octopus, you know."  Sometimes I catch her rolling her eyes when she doesn't get the answer she wanted.  Sometimes when she wants to fill her (and my) entire weekend with sleepover after sleepover, and driving her or her friends all over the place, I remind her how I was only allowed one sleepover a month when I was growing up.  Once she answered, "Well, maybe if I had 6 sisters like you, I would have people to play with at home."  Point made, Allie, who's sleeping over this weekend?  Ya, she's good.

So I don't know if laughter is the best medicine, but just writing this made me smile.  Hope it lightens or brightens your day as well.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Learning from Dad

This week my Dad learned that a spot on his pancreas, originally identified as a cyst, was actually a malignant tumor.  He also learned that some other spots on other organs, initially thought to be of little concern, would now be biopsied as well.  He also learned that the tumor on the pancreas was wrapped around 2 veins, and inoperable and that he would need to begin radiation in hopes of killing the cancer, shrinking the tumor and/or keeping it from growing and spreading its nasty little germs.  Sounds like a pretty crappy week, right?!

So I wait hours before I call him and finally think I've composed myself enough to have a conversation in which I am going to comfort him, tell him how much I love him and how much I'm praying for him and trust that God will heal him.  The phone rings, once, twice, a couple more times, and his voice mail picks up. I felt a little better because I was sure I could get out a sentence or two on his voice mail.  Ahhh, nope, not possible.  So then I had to call my Mom and tell her to tell Dad not to listen to the message because I'm not the composed comforter I had hoped to be and instead am his blubbering daughter.

So the next morning on my way to work I feel ready to call. This time Dad answers, and the minute he answers with his cheerful voice, I ask, in my shaky voice filled with tears, how he is.  He answers by telling me that he is fine, he really is fine, even if my sisters and I don't believe him.  He then tells me that God has a plan for everyone, we don't know the plan and don't always understand it, but God has a plan and a purpose for everyone.  I tell him that I don't want God to take him away from me.  And he honestly answers that he isn't ready for that either but that we all have a time to go and that God is in control of our lives and the plan for our lives.  

He then tells me about a conversation he had with his pastor friend who gave him a sermon to read about how not to waste your cancer.  This is what my Dad wrote on his Facebook wall about the sermon.
My pastor shared the following link from John Piper - - which got me thinking - when one person has cancer how should family and friends react? My thought is that cancer is like art - each person impacted by it needs to discover how that cancer will impact him/her. The person with cancer must deal with mortalit...y issues and how to live with the cancer; Family members need to ask the Big questions of life, Why? Can cancer be a gift from God? Is God trying to reach me? Since cancer adds new elements into our relationships, how should friends react to their friend's cancer. Each answer will be different with each person, just like appreciating art is different for each individual.
My Dad is the godliest man I know. His faith and his relationship with God leave me wanting more, and make me feel ashamed for questioning how God could allow something like cancer to affect my Dad.  My Dad has devoted his whole life to working for God and to reaching people for God so that they too may have the special personal relationship that he enjoys with his Saviour.  Why would God want to take one of his greatest workers from the earth? And when that time comes, who am I to want to hold onto my Dad's ankle as God calls him home to Heaven?

I am trying to be positive, trying to have the peace and faith that my Dad has, and praying constantly for healing.  The practical, worldly side of me knows what cancer means and what cancer does, and I hate not being able to reach into my Dad's body and pull out every bit of the poison that cancer is.  I want to fix it, control it and make it all better for him and my family.  

I will try to learn from my Dad, to listen to him, to learn from his example and to trust that God does indeed have a plan for each one of us, and a purpose for our lives which we may not always understand or see.  Who are we to question God's plan for our lives and for the lives of those we love?  In the meantime, while I'm learning, I will pray for my Dad, pray for his healing, pray for his courage and his strength.  I will pray for the doctors, that they will know what they're doing and that they will do it well as we entrust them with our Dad.  I will pray for my Mom and my siblings and our children that we can offer support and encouragement to my Dad and to each other.  And I will thank God for this wonderful man that is my Dad, for the man he has been, for the man he is and for the man he will be.  His example, his faith, and his peace are to be admired and followed.  As my children have said on more than one occasion, "Grandpa works for God, and Grandpa is best friends with God." Who better to have in your corner than God?  Who better to have as a BFF than God?

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Romans 5:1-5