She Was Someone’s Somebody, Even Though She Was Drunk

I sat down in the aisle seat, anticipating that my youngest would need to be whisked out at a moment’s notice for creating a scene that only a 3-yr-old knows how to make. Regardless of the fact that this was a grade school performance of The Jungle Book, parents would not appreciate their child’s 0.2 seconds of fame being diminished by a snot-nosed, belligerent little man who smelled suspiciously like a men’s room urinal and in desperate need of a haircut.

That’s when I met her.2717399328_a772fd34fa

Saying that I met her is actually stretching the truth. She stumbled to edge of the row where I was sitting and slurred “MOVE DOWN” – indicating the open seats beyond me.

I smiled apologetically and explained that the seats were saved. Not by me, of course, but by the owner of the white sweater, green scarf, and Trader Joe’s bag that were strewn across the top. The theater equivalent of the American Flag on the moon.

I’m not entirely sure she understood my rambling explanation, but she moved along and I breathed a sigh of relief – and a clean breath of fresh air. I could taste the alcohol that had wafted from her lips.

Instinctively I thought, “What kind of person comes to a children’s theater completely plastered in short shorts and a cropped sweatshirt bedazzled with Hello Kitty?”

My compassionate side countered, “Someone’s mother, or aunt, or grandma.”

I imagined the child that sat backstage who hoped not for her family to come, but for her family NOT to come. Or who worried that his mother might stand up in the middle of the performance and shriek, “That’s my boy!”

The woman I met was someone’s somebody – and she showed up. She was drunk, disheveled, and wildly inappropriate – but she showed up.

In that moment I stopped thinking about what a horrible person she might have been, and started thinking about how wonderful that child was that this woman was trying to show up for, despite all the obstacles of the obvious addictions and hardships she faced.

If I knew the child that belonged to the heart of that woman,  I would simply like to tell them that this was not an embarrassment, this was an act of love.

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Many ways to lose a life in war.

When I was little, my sister and I used to hunt down our Christmas presents like trained bloodhounds for the entire month of December.  We looked in very dark corners, searched the untouched attics, and destroyed any closet in our way.  We should have looked in our mom’s trunk, but we didn’t learn that until it was too late.

On one of my treasure hunts, I discovered an old, dusty rifle case that, based on its weight, still had an occupant.  Too afraid to open the case to find out, I asked my mom about this find.

“Your dad was in the army. He went to Vietnam, but that was long before you were around.” And that was the extent of our conversation.  My dad never mentioned his time in the service, and would only offer up vague details when asked directly.  I learned more from the VA office when my dad got sick than I ever learned directly from him.

There are many ways to lose a life in war.  Even if you come back with a beating heart and lungs that contract and expand, it’s possible to have left your life behind. The son who played football every waking moment that comes home without legs, a father who can’t work because night terrors grip him every time he closes his eyes, the mother that always imagined being a Girl Scout leader and soccer mom who suffers a traumatic brain injury and struggles with basic tasks of everyday.

Lives given in the name of war are far more than the body count. The casualties include soldiers, parents, siblings, spouses and children. We do a great thing by honoring those who have fallen, but we have much more work to do.  We need to help our returning vets and their families stand back up.  Replacing their former life is not possible, it is gone, but giving them a fighting chance at a new one is the least we can do.

My dad passed in 2009, and I honor his service today.  Not just the time he spent in the service, but the years he spent after, alone with his thoughts and memories that were not suitable to share with his children.   I honor the life he left behind, and thank him for soldiering on to be a great dad.

Getting slapped by the Universe…

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (Photo credit: AJC1)

Hurts. I’m not going to lie.

May 5th would have been my dad’s 71st birthday.  Instead, he’s been physically gone over 2 years.  Mentally, it was many years before, having succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer’s.  He didn’t really  know who I was in the end, but I was there with him when he passed.  That was a good thing, which the universe seemed to know.

For the past two years I have been at peace with my dad’s passing, but recently I have been wondering, “Do I remember my dad’s laugh? Or what made him laugh? How was his smile?”.  The farther the anniversary, the more I fear I am forgetting. Which in context, is a very scary thing.  And when I get scared, I get busy. Luckily, I have two young children so time to think is a luxury.  I have put austerity measures into place.

Earlier this week, I got a call from the Alzheimer’s Association asking if I would volunteer for the 2012 Memory Walk.  I had done the walk for the past 2 years, so it was not out of the blue, but I hadn’t even thought about the walk yet.  Things that happen in October are lucky if they make my radar by September these days.  Ultimately, it was fine. It was busy work, not thoughtful work necessarily. I assembled my team page, sent my emails, and posted my plea for support on Facebook.  I can now ignore it for a bit (maybe till September?).  The universe was winding me up a bit, throwing me the walk just after my dad’s birthday.  Well played, Universe, but a soft blow.

Then the news today. A WAR on Alzheimer’s! New clinical trials that show some real potential.  A commitment from our country to recognize this epidemic that will triple over the next few decades.  Why was this news so important to me? My father had early-onset Alzheimer’s. My aunt is suffering the disease now. Alzheimer’s is in my genes. Literally. If what the research says is true, I may be carrying genes that would give me a 50% chance of having Alzheimer’s. Crap odds.  Even if I don’t need the cure, my brother, sister, cousin, or my children might.  Scary and hopeful at the same time, Universe is winding up for the punch here.

Then the punch.

A fellow blogger announces her new website: www.DeadDadsClub.com. It’s a beautiful site, a place to share stories about your dad, reading the stories of other members.  It’s club with an initiation that makes hazing look like sandbox play.  It’s a reminder to remember. If you can.

TKO.

Winner: Universe

Let me tell you about my dad. His smile was the same as my son’s.  He laughed at silly stuff, unimportant things, and mostly himself.  His laugh made other people laugh because of its genuine tenor and kind intention.   It sounded young, like good days. The early days, the days before Alzheimer’s.

You can run, but you can’t hide from what you know in your heart you must do.  I needed to think about my dad so that I would know that I do remember the important stuff, if not the details.  While initially a little painful, it was ultimately a good match, one that I am glad I lost.

Random Acts of Motherness

I have my card, but I refuse to wear the jeans.  I grew two humans and have thrust them onto the world stage. and tomorrow is my day. According to Hallmark anyway. And Kay Jewelers, Edible Arrangements, and every other retail shop in existence.  I get it, and rest assured, I will totally milk it.  As will the adoptive, step, and grandmothers of the developed world. Ladies, this Bud’s for you.

But I will also raise my glass tomorrow, and it WILL be a Bloody Mary, to the unsung heroes of this sisterhood.  Because my sisters aren’t just the card carrying m.o.m.s., they are the fabulous women that either by choice or circumstance, do not have the perfect Hallmark greeting in their honor. And they deserve one.

My list is long, but here are just a few of the women that I will honor tomorrow:

  • The lady who plays peek-a-boo with a youngster in the grocery store moments before a tantrum of epic proportions seems inevitable.
  • The preschool teacher that drops subtle hints about the needs of a young child that the sleep deprived mom can’t see through the haze.
  • The “cool” teacher that quietly councils our children when their parents “just don’t understand”.
  • The friend that arrives at a two-year-old birthday party without kids of their own, bearing gifts that children most desire, moms despise for their pieces, and cost more that than the standard clearance price.
  • The neighbor that bakes the best cookies, doesn’t care if bike tires tear up the lawn, and always seems to know just when to appear when acts of cruelty among young friends are about to transpire.
  • The women who love their friends’ children on first sight and forevermore, simply because.

We mothers like to think of ourselves as part of a special club, whose initiation includes sleepless nights, supreme agitation and worry, and countless hours of PBS programming.  For some it began with 9 months of physical preparation, for others it was years of planning and preparations for home studies.  Every mom has a story, and it should be celebrated.

Not all women want to join this club, others are unable, but most (if not all) women practice random acts of motherness on a daily basis.  Without these women, we mothers would be lost, and most of us without realizing it.

Let’s end the segregation this holiday represents and celebrate all the women that make our children great.

Happy Motherness Day!

Give a little love.

I love giving awesome presents.  Awesome doesn’t necessarily mean ultra-cool, expensive, designer stuff – it’s awesome because it’s personal.

Case in point: For my husband’s 35th birthday he got the Sham WoW system.  No joke. He loved it.  He had been talking about it for months.  Had there been a phone and credit card easily accessible during any of the infomercials, he would have owned them much sooner.  Luckily, our couch practically has seat belts.

My friend recently had a baby and I wanted to send something special.  I originally met her at the park with her adorable little girl wearing ruffly pants with her name sewn across the butt.  Our daughters were only months apart, and she was an important part of my life during those early years.

Enter baby girl #2 and I went searching for the perfect gift – and VOILA!

Today’s Indulgence: www.makaboo.com


Why I love:

It’s adorable, affordable, and easy to order!  There are a lot of choices from baby through toddler and their previews make it easy to see just how awesome the finished product will look.

My nephew recently moved from sunny California to not quite as warm Utah, so I ordered this:

I will note that knit items do have a longer lead time, several weeks usually, so not ideal for last minute shoppers.  But how CUTE is my nephew??? Well worth the wait, I think.

I love this site for finding that perfect present and if it helps you for even one future present, then this post has done its work.

Happy shopping y’all!

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