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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom

September 29th – still a special day, birthday of someone missing at Preacher Child’s wedding…

Throughout my life – if Sweet Home Alabama or Spirit in the Sky played on the radio, if a family member struggled with cancer or passed away …
Mom instructed: Don’t resuscitate, don’t hook me to a machine or feed me with a tube. Let me go. Bury me in the cheapest pine box you can find - wear a red dress to my funeral.

Play music, serve good food, have a party ‘cause I’ll be with Jesus.
I imagined wearing that red dress as an old lady myself. Longevity runs deep. Great-grandma lived to 103; Grandma’s pushing 90 and runs circles around us with her new knee – stubborn as ever and game for adventure.

But there I was in church – dressed in red; barely in my 40’s.
Mom was my best friend. We spoke on the phone most every day, even before cell phones. I learned to make gravy over the phone, received parenting advice – heard what was up in Alabama with the birds, flowers, weather, cats, her 5th graders, ladies in her Sunday School class, what dad made for dinner…. I miss those calls.

She was tiny: 4’ 11”and feisty, even throughout the last few days of her life this side of heaven -  battling brain cancer for 10 years.
3 days after surgery: I received a phone call from mom, thrilling! I‘d expected our calling days to be done.

She was incensed: “Did you know I had brain surgery? Does your father know about this?  Who’s this O’Malley character?” 
“He’s the neurosurgeon, Mama – he pretty much saved your life.”

 Mom was not impressed: “Well he’s a BRICK.” 
I reminded her how miraculous she was - working crossword puzzles in the hospital, reading books, scheduled to go home soon, exceeding expectations. She rebuked: “I’m NOT miraculous, people are PRAYING for me!”

(Note: She later changed her mind about the surgeon, named him “The Sainted Dr. O’Malley”.)
A couple of weeks later, at home on Christmas Day – during one of her last lucid moments before I ‘became the parent’...

Mom issued her best advice: “I’ve had a great life. I’m so proud of my children and wonderful grandchildren. I’m not angry with God - or questioning why this happened to me.  But Honey! Stop worrying about fat grams, drink more red wine and enjoy your life. “
Happy Birthday, Mom. We toast you today.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Goes Around, Comes Around

I am destined to Blog-a-rama rut until I recount the story I just can’t get past …
There was doubt as to whether Buzz’s toddler is his biological child. Dominant physical features caused even my recluse father to ask if little tyke was “Spawn of Putin”, (young mother is beautiful; Russian).
Post wedding, I’m certain the child is Buzz’s very own.

Let's go back to Buzz’s first born… Preacher Child.
8 weeks old; Baptism Sunday. I should have known in the nursery; taken him home after the 21-wipe diaper that ruined an appliqu├ęd heirloom. I changed him into blue corduroy. (If only Mommy had a back-up outfit!) He screamed the entire way down the aisle; took a breath; threw up on me; screamed through the first half of the ceremony; fell asleep in my arms.

8 years old; Sunday lunch. Preacher Child announced: “I love God and Jesus is in my heart, but I HATE CHURCH!”
Fast forward thru 15 years of tears at teacher conferences, teen rebellion, brushes with law, trials by college and spiritual awakening to his wedding weekend …

The church was busy with rehearsal activity, difficult to hear on account of Buzz’s baby yelling, running around like it was a McDonald’s Playground.
Noisy chaos! I almost blew a gasket, along with the parents-of-the-bride.

I tried to reason with Buzz: “Please, it’s distracting. The kids can’t hear directions”.  (Confession: I hissed, quietly.)
Wedding day, mother-of-the-bride pulled me aside: ”My husband (trained medical professional) has decided: if baby disrupts the ceremony, he’ll  escort baby out of the church.”
Snap! We’re going to get along just fine.

“That was my final thought before falling asleep last night. I (trained pre-school professional) will help with this first act of family unity!” We shared a hug and laugh.
The acoustic group sang and a blended family procession began… my friends swear I looked happy and serene. They are good friends. I tried to enjoy the moment, prayed baby would be quiet for an hour.

God had it covered – if you’ve ever doubted His existence, please read on.
Buzz Trio walked along the front row. Baby let out a heart-stopping scream; Buzz exited. That was the first tear shed on Preacher’s wedding day. Despite his oblivious ways, Buzz deserved to see our son get married.

However! Baby’s exit made for stress-free, glorious ceremony. Our first act of family unity wouldn’t be public-baby-removal, but post-wedding pictures, shared Thanksgivings, birthdays, housewarmings, and our first grandchild in 10 years…
Preacher Couple was so happy. The message inspired a wonderful word picture of acorns to oaks. They planted and watered a small tree together! The pastor was Australian. Forget I’m the mother - it was storybook/film-worthy.
Preacher’s bride repeated vows, tears streamed down her face – Preacher smiled, lovingly brushed them off with both hands. It was the most authentic, pure wedding ceremony kiss I’ve ever witnessed - as if they invented the tradition.

If ever a doubt – this moment assured: The pair is meant to be. (Many tears; sadly, a couple quiet nose blows – it was that sweet.)
Yes, there is a God, a very good God.

And! There’s more! God heard our prayers. He had a plan for this wedding, peace for the congregation so we could bear witness to (and hear!)  this sacred event.
Although I couldn’t see it, I heard of it later from my father, favorite cousin (best storyteller on the planet), and confirmed with several friends with a view. Remember Buzz’s departure? Here’s what caused the speedy exit:

Baby screamed; yanked lollipop from his mouth; lobbed it; struck his mother head-on. Poor little tyke, just like his half brother – yes half brother, I’m sure of it… 22 years prior; now preparing to tie the knot, spewed vomit on mom and Buzz. They left to clean up (I hear Buzz witnessed vows from back row).
Yep – projectile vomit, aversion to “big church” at an early age, running around wildly – I bet the family farm it’s Buzz’s baby.

Lord, help Buzz and the Russian for the next 20 years.




Friday, September 2, 2011

Motherhood in Pictures: Hold them tight; Teach them to Fly

“You like me, you really like me!”
(Sally Fields, 1985)

This Oscar flashback is brought to you by … King and my 72-year-old dad - whom ask daily when I’m going to write again.

The August hiatus was self-imposed: personal survival and the sake of getting things done.
In a nutshell:

-       Preacher Child’s wedding/rehearsal

-     Constant management of The Great Blended Family Sandbox. (You have NO idea)

-       Launched Flower Child - moved into co-ed (help!) dorm; suffered through (all-girl) Rush. She handled better than mom.

-      2011 business trips #2 and #3 fell in August! (I typically travel once a year)

-       Caught a cold on the first trip.

-       Got food poisoning on the next trip.

-       Adapted to corporate America's micromanagement tool-of-the day.

-       Settled Scholar Child & Preacher Child in their schools.

-       Kept King from divorcing me so we can enjoy our Empty Nest.

I suffer from the opposite of Writer’s Block – TOO much to share. So full of rich material; I simply don’t know where to begin.

I’m retaining an attorney to determine what I can get away with - she recommends “Wordless”.

The beginning with my babies

Flower Child happy at college


Changed his diapers, tied his shoes, pinned his boutineer on wedding day



Gained a daughter! Presenting: Preacher's Wife