Like her older sister, this daughter has always been responsible. She earns good grades. She works hard to combine school and sports. She is generously giving and loving. This morning, seeing her packed and ready to head out on this first step of many that will occur over the next eighteen months, culminating in her actually leaving for college, I felt a huge twang in my heart. How has time possibly gone by so fast that my little imp of a girl is now a young woman? When I say, “I’m 53,” I don’t feel old. I’ve even come to grips with having a child who is 30, but somehow seeing this daughter growing up makes me feel that time is passing much too fast. I run through the slide show in my mind of her Coming Home Day when she looked into my eyes and, later, told me that that was when she knew I was her mommy, her exuberant two-year-old smile when she was given her own miniature paddle for the canoe ride at Disneyland, the change in her face and manner – from a sweet little girl to a fierce competitor – as she walked onto the soccer field and, later, the basketball court. How is it possible that she’s already going to look at colleges? Yes, there’s a huge twang in my heart and more than one tear in my eyes.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Remember how Mary Poppins flew into the Banks family’s life on the changing wind and then, when her work was done, she flew out again? Well, six years ago I flew in to a family’s life, a family I didn’t know well at the time, with a phone call asking if our home could be their younger daughter’s second home while their older daughter was undergoing cancer treatments. I had offered to help and I was thrilled to be able to provide this type of stability in their lives. So, for almost a year, the younger daughter lived with us for several days at a time every second or third week while her older sister was hospitalized and sometimes, in emergencies, for a few days in between. A phone call stating, “We’re on our way in. Can you meet us at Emanuel?” became pretty common. I became “Mommy Debbie," a title I didn't ask for, though I was thrilled with the honor (I did point out that it should have been Grandma Debbie since there was already a Mommy in the family and I was old enough to be the girls’ grandma).
Over the years, since the cancer treatments ended, we’ve been in touch with this family – taking care of the two girls for a weekend a couple of times so Mommy and Daddy could have some time away, attending birthday parties, offering help when they had a house fire, meeting at hospitals to take care of one or both of the girls while Mommy and Daddy met with doctors. Then, two and one-half years ago we learned that Mommy had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Offering a little help here and there, I was again back in touch with the family on a more regular basis.
Fast-forward to last summer – Mommy decides that after almost a year of being bedridden and dependent on a ventilator to keep her alive, it is time to turn off the machine. After all this family had been through, saying, “Goodbye” to Mommy had to be the hardest.
Now, fast-forward to yesterday – Daddy has, miraculously, fallen in love with a beautiful woman with two lovely daughters of her own. It truly seems to be a match made in Heaven. Yesterday, the two wed and concurrently completed adoption paperwork to make this new family one solid whole. And yesterday, for the first time in six years, two little girls did not come running into my arms with a squeal of, “Mommy Debbie!” And that’s okay. After six years of cancer treatments, medical appointments, a house fire and the ravages of ALS, these little girls once again have a whole, healthy family (including a new Mommy and two new sisters) and they don’t need me to be there as a substitute mommy. It was a bittersweet realization and, while I don’t intend to disappear from their lives, like Mary Poppins, I took note of the change in the wind and, even though I’m so happy for this family, I did let a few tears fall as I said, “Goodbye.”
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Good grief! As I’ve written before, I tend to be a sappy person, but there are some days when it just doesn’t pay to put on mascara and today is one of those days. I logged onto my computer to find out that one friend is dealing with a dying parent (sad news…tears), to hear from other friends that they’ve met their new daughter in China (happy news…tears) and then it seems that everything else I read made me feel emotional. I keep wiping my eyes, pretending that I must have something in them to cause them to water so much. If I didn’t need my reading glasses to see what I’m reading and writing, I’d put my sunglasses on to hide my teary eyes.
I’m sitting in a comfy chair at Starbucks, I have a venti coffee by my side, the sun is shining and I’m having a wonderful weekend away with my husband, our oldest son and his lovely bride. Is that cause for tears? No, but I think the combination of enjoying my weekend and feeling relaxed and grateful, sends my sappy-ometer sky-high. Either that or hormones – who knows? And, as a woman in my fifties, I can play that hormone card whenever I want.
Friday, March 2, 2012
I’m on a bit of a childhood nostalgia kick this week. First, Davy Jones’ death led me to relive some fun memories from my preteen years and now, today, I realized that it is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Just thinking about that brings a sentimental tear to my eye.
I grew up on Dr. Seuss. I was a good reader right from the start and my parents, wanting to encourage me, signed me up for the Dr. Seuss Book of the Month Club. We didn’t have a lot of money and I realize now that this subscription was probably a stretch for them, but nevertheless, my Dr. Seuss book arrived every month. When my mom would bring in the mail, I could see immediately if my book was included and I couldn’t wait to break open the packaging to get my hands on it. The singsong rhyming words played games in my mouth. I loved them then, I loved them when my children were little and I love them now. I wasn’t a huge Cat-in-the Hat fan – he was simply too naughty for my sensibilities, but I loved One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. The Book of the Month Club was, perhaps, the best money my parents ever spent. My love of books was established and it’s a love affair that is still going strong. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!
Thursday, March 1, 2012
As with most preteens, my life forty years ago (okay, 40+ years ago) was consumed by friends, music and fashion. My best friend, Marcia lived two blocks away and, because my mom watched her and her siblings before and after school, we were together almost constantly. We agreed on everything: who was the cutest boy in school, what was the proper length for a mini-skirt, and which band was, hands down, the best – The Monkees! And who was our favorite Monkee? Davy Jones. Every month we’d make the trek down to our corner grocery store to buy the newest edition of Tiger Beat or 16 magazine. We preferred 16, but if Tiger Beat had better Davy Jones coverage, we’d stray from our favorite. We both covered our bedroom walls with Davy Jones posters. We knew the words to every song he sang and we even had choreography for a couple of them. My bedroom was most of the top floor of our house and I had a fairly large, very sturdy, round coffee table that we used as our stage to lip-sync the songs and go-go dance along. At one point, we realized that the tallest boy in our class was 5’4” – the exact height of Davy Jones. This kid was also kind of the class nerd, but we would sidle up beside him to get an idea of what it would be like to stand next to Davy. When word was released that Davy had been secretly married for two years and had a baby daughter, we were devastated and mourned for days. We shut the curtains in my room, turned on the record player to a Monkees album and alternately cried through our grief and talked about our loss of any chance to snare Davy as our own.
Yesterday, Davy Jones died. He was only 66 years old. When I saw the headline on my computer, a piece of my heart just chipped off along with a feeling of loss for the preteen childhood dreams that were so unrealistic, but so real in my mind. My heart aged a little yesterday.