Category Archives: family

Things I wish I could tell my daughters~

Not sure how I should start this~

Dear Emily and Erin,

First of all, I don’t regret marrying your father because he gave me you.  You were able to be raised in a comfortable home though not always conventional. I stayed for you both.  I am so proud of you and what you have become.

The Wedding~

I don’t know how much you know of your parent’s wedding.  We got married at Grandma Pat’s house.  We had a friend of mine who was a judge since your father was an atheist.  We got married on the rug a neighbor gave us that this couple had gotten married on and their marriage lasted over 40 yrs.  Neither Aunt Laura or Florence attended the wedding.  It was very small but then we had a reception a few days later.  The night after the wedding we went out to eat at yet another friend’s new restaurant, He was Italian and a great cook.  Your dad and I stayed at Larry Bird’s Motel ~ the Boston Connection.  It was much fancier than it sounds.

The first few years~

I wish I could tell you it got easier, and some parts did.  I have always been surrounded by a disorder.  I don’t know if it goes back to my learning disability or the way my brain functions.  I am not lazy or stupid.  I do have a zest for life, which was always under the surface.  I think this scared your dad.  I did and would speak to strangers, wear loud bright and colorful clothes, loved to dance, laugh at myself, try new things and wanted to talk, laugh, be goofy and surrounded my stuff.  I don’t think I fit his idea of a wife and mother. My mother told me I needed to have dinner on the table waiting for your dad when he got home.    How I tried, to organize myself and the house.  And your dad didn’t make it easy for me.  But I loved being a mom.  I read every book I could on parenting, feeding your child, discipline, activities to do with your babies.  But then I went back to school, and things got really tough.

Mistakes 

I don’t want to call them mistakes but I did make choices that weren’t always to my highest calling.  I lied to your dad over stupid things~ like getting the internet for free, how much things cost, friends, ideas, issues, and problems.  I learned to just get along and not rock the boat.  I felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time.  Because of that, I know there were times I wasn’t a very good mother.  Times when I wasn’t present or angry at your dad and would take it out on you guys.  I am so sorry.  I realize now I was doing the best that I could to get by.    Your father accused me of sleeping around.  I didn’t.  I did have an active fantasy life.  I read books on improving myself, kept dream journals, gratitude journals, and regular journals.  I wanted to feel love and wanted a partner that liked me and liked to do things with me.  Your father found my dream journal and thought it was my real journal.  Your dad thought I was having an affair with Denzel Washington,  Ellen Degeneres, and others.   He even said to me I guess that why the house is never clean.  I wasn’t.  But I did pretend and dream about meeting various actors or musicians and have them falling love with me.  I tried to make your dad happy.  But then finally gave up,  I didn’t like who I was becoming.

Aunt Laura~

Laura was my protector, my confidant, my best friend, my hero, and my sister.  I was so proud to have her as my sister.  This was one reason I was so glad that I had two girls. Laura had been Great Grams favorite.  I was definitely not her favorite and she seems to go out of her way to be mean to me.  I got to where I didn’t even notice.  But Laura did and defended me and spoke up for me.  Something my own mother wasn’t able to do.  There was a mother/ daughter luncheon at church, I was pregnant with you Emily.  Amanda was a baby, Aunt Laura, my mom and great gram were all going to attend.  Great gram was saying pretty awful things under her breath about me how I was dressed or something I said or didn’t say.  I guess Laura finally had enough and spoke to her.  Laura spoke to my mom too.  It was the first time, I could remember someone speaking up for me in the family.  I guess that what I wanted to happen when you both were being mean to me after the divorce.  Laura spoke up to your grandma Janet and Dad.  She always said I was the kindest person she knew.   When I lost her and your grandmother I also feel like I lost a bit of my mind.  But I did get the courage to leave your father.

The Loss~ 

Now I wish I hadn’t jumped into a relationship, but sometimes when we are grieving or going through something really hard and horrible we don’t make good decisions.  That was a difficult lesson I had to learn.  Losing you all was the worst.

Things I am really good at

This week’s list is about things I am really good at, so bragging about myself.  I know it is often viewed as in poor taste to ring one’s own bell.  As I write that I am thinking about so many students I have worked with that struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem.  In my, English class students had a warm-up to name one positive quality about themselves.  I had students tell me that didn’t have any good qualities.  I know there are some days I feel like that too.  I feel like I am just taking from the world more than I am contributing to it.  Well back to the list~

I am good at making others feel comfortable.  I often have total strangers telling me their life stories.  When I was riding the T on a  regular basis, I made friends with total strangers.  One woman was going to school to become a minister shared with me her experience about the day of the bombing.  Another person I also met on the T, we became friends when he gave me a ride to the Women’s march in Boston in 2017.  Through the year while riding the T together, I learned about his family and he learned about mine.

Another way I try to spread joy or at least positive thoughts is through my post-it notes.  I have these stick all over post-it notes.  I put inspirational quotes or sayings on these and then leave them random places.  One of my favorite places was to leave them on the T.  At one point I was a topic of conversation on Reddit.  People wanted to know who and or why someone was doing these.  I am not sure how I started doing it other than thinking that Erin and I were riding the same trains maybe if I wrote positive notes she would see them and it would bring a smile to her face.  I could probably do a whole entry on the post-it notes.  Why and how I do them and different interactions I have had with people about them.

I am really good at laughing.  I can find so many things to laugh about throughout the day.  And often I can get those around me to relax enough to laugh too.

I am a really good friend.  I will stick by my friends even when we have grown apart.  I have former teaching assistants that I was especially close to when we were working together, most of the time people then grown apart after they stop working together.  Not me I will continue to send postcards or text messages just to let them know they are still in my thoughts.

I am a great letter writer.  I not only write good letters to people but I actually write letters and mail them the old fashion way. So many people have told me oh you are so good at doing that, I wish I was.  What a cop-out, I do it because it brings me joy and hopefully it brings a little joy the recipient.

I am pretty good at letting things go~  now this is on a few different levels-                    post-it notes.  I write them and then I am done with them.  They are not for me to gain fame or recognition.  They are just something I write hoping to spread a little joy and then let them go. When I have an issue with a person, I say my peace and then I am over it.  If I have a problem with a student the same idea is true for them too.  What happened in the past stays in the past.  Now, I am not perfect about this but for the most part I try to be.

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The Capitalist

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I am very much of the mindset to take life as it comes.  Yes, I work and I have at many times put in too many hours for a job I felt required to do so for it.  After working … Continue reading

Holidays~ Thanksgivings

It’s the wonderful, joy filled time of the holidays.  Family, friends, food, activities, a time to connect and remember.  Growing up a couple of Thanksgivings come to mind~ both of them accord in New York.  The first memory was going to the Macy day parade when I was about 4,  we lived in Brooklyn and this was a big treat.  I was most excited about all the colored paper from the floats so I collected a large amount of the paper.  We (my family went to a restaurant before heading back home.  While I was in the bathroom with my sister, the waitress cleared off the table and threw away my color paper.  (Actually it technically it was trash I picked up off the street.)  The other memory was when I was 16, I was with the Long Walk for Survival in New York City.  I had run away to be close to a boy I fell in love with Charley Grass. That Thanksgiving I joined the group and fasted for Thanksgiving.   I fasted to remember all of the Native Americans that lost their lives for this fun-filled holiday.  The night before Thanksgiving that year  I also fell asleep on James Taylor’s couch. I met him when I was “playing the role of a secretary” for the medicine man Leonard Crowdog.    In some ways that was a very lonely Thanksgiving.

Other memories of the holidays ~ going to visit my cousins in KY.

Or when my father would invite faculty and or students that didn’t have any place to go.   These were usually foreign or visiting students.  They would bring a dish to share.  Then after my mother married my stepfather ~ we always had a house full.  We sat around the big table, and laughed and ate and told stories.  We always had a puzzle on a table in one room and would play a board game after the meal.

The first Thanksgiving my now ex-husband shared with us.  He told me it was his favorite holiday.  He also told me my mother was a much better cook than his mother.  He also told me I was a better cook than his mother.  I wish he remembered when he was telling his mother cutting remarks a few years later. But he got to see how we celebrated family~ and that was through sharing.

After we got married I continued the family tradition of inviting faculty or exchange students to our house for the holiday.  I loved opening up my home and sharing food with new friends and family.  It also worked out well when my brother Randy married a wonderful cook April and she would come and help. I would make very traditional dishes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, apple pie.  One year I made a very fancy pumpkin pecan torte 7 layers.

Another Thanksgiving,  Don (my ex) got us invited over to a colleague’s house but the turkey took much much longer to cook than his friend knew. His friend was very embarrassed but we explained it was all good. They were a young couple and this was their first holiday meal they were sharing.    I had planned to host guests at my house too.  Luck for me my brothers and niece felt comfortable going into my house and getting things ready without me.

But my biggest memory throughout those celebrations later when my sister and her family were unable to share it with us.  Were the phone calls from my sister,  she would start off calling me about 7am on Thanksgiving and tell me her big plans for the turkey.  One year she found a recipe in the New York Times ~ this is going to be the best turkey ever.  She would call me throughout the day keeping me up to date as to how her meal was progressing.  Things started off positive and then would take a turn and she would call to tell me she was having this problem and what should she do.  I would advise her.  Then she would call back a few minutes later telling me something she decided to try instead.  I believe that was the year the turkey was raw on the inside and burnt on the outside.  She said, well Martha Stewart isn’t a good choice.  The next year, it would start all over again.  I would always advise her to go simple~  turkeys should be moist and don’t need much to make them taste good.  Her phones calls seemed to follow a script.  We would laugh and how things were going or not going.  This happened for a few years till she called to tell me they were just going to have lobster and picked them up at Whole Foods.

 

 

 

My sister, spaceship tattoos, and cancer

Laura was ten years older than me, and she was my idol.  When I was 18, she and I shared an apartment at the start of the school year.  Her boyfriend Ron started off with us also in that apartment but then moved out and on with his life a couple of months later.  So Laura, her dog Shiner and I fell into a rhythm  ~ we were both taking classes at the local university, she was working as a waitress at a bar/ club.  I was searching for myself and dating lots of guys, going out and dancing and enjoying my youth.  Laura was working but also enjoyed dancing and just hanging out. Living with Laura was always an adventure.  She was protective, yet wouldn’t hesitate to tell me to get off my butt and stop whining.

Laura and I both had our own bathrooms and its funny but many of our conversations took place in one of our bathrooms. Our conversation about her tattoo was no different.  She was in her tub when she told me she wanted a spaceship tattoo.  She wanted to have either people or an alien waving from the inside of the ship.  This was back in 1982 before tattoos became mainstream.  Laura explained she was going to go up to Chicago and make a trade with some tattoo artist.  I am not sure if she was planning on exchanging beadwork or what really.  I don’t think she knew either.  I was not happy about this idea at all.  I felt that tattoos were for other people, not my beautiful sister.   I begged her not to do it.  But she did, that January, she got a spaceship tattoo over her left breast.  It was about 2 inches wide and about an inch and half tall. It was colorful and had a little person on the inside waving or maybe I just imagined that part.  She didn’t make a trade but paid cash for it.  She said she drank some whiskey to help with the pain when she was getting it.   Great now I had a sister with a tattoo~ a spaceship tattoo.

Fast forward~ almost 20 years. Laura was living with her husband and her dark-haired beautiful daughter when she found out she had breast cancer on the same breast as her tattoo.  I had lost a best friend a couple of years earlier to breast cancer so I was very nervous and upset to hear this news.  Laura being the big sister that she always was ~ wanted to reassure me that, she was going to survive this and not to worry.   So Laura started having the talk with her doctor about her plan of action.  Living in the Boston area she was fortunate enough to be surrounded by excellent doctors and proven cancer treatments. This was some reassurance but still, I had not only lost a close friend recently but I lost my father to cancer when I was 13.  And my sister was now my best friend I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.  So Laura opted for standard traditional western treatment with a few eastern treatments as well.

Surgery would be the first treatment.  I made plans to fly out after she returned home to help take care of her and her daughter.  So her husband could continue working and supporting the family.  I would sleep on my niece’s top bunk.  I fixed meals, did laundry, and cleaning.  And I helped Laura take a shower.  Laura opted for a lumpectomy so they only took part of her breast.  Laura wanted me to really look at her scar and pointed out to me that she still had her spaceship tattoo.  I had to laugh.  Yes, Laura you still have your tattoo.  She told me this was one of her concerns she was told she had cancer.  Seriously sister?  You were concerned about losing your tattoo?  She told me she asked the doctor if they had to take the skin with the tattoo on it.  She wanted to keep it.  Yes, keep the skin with the spaceship tattoo. She said, and she told him she wanted to put it in a jar so she could still keep it.  I guess it was lucky for all of us that the surgery only took part of her breast.

Siblings

I was fortunate enough to be born into a family with siblings.  I have 2 brothers one older, one younger and I had an older sister.  There was 10 years difference between my sister and me.  But she was my best friend, my protector, safety net, and voice of reason. Growing up my younger brother Roger and I shared a bedroom.  We had bunk beds.  One of our first real arguements I remember was over who got the top bunk, then  my older brother Randy took Roger out in the hall and whispered something to him. Roger came back into the bedroom and told me I could have the top bunk.  (Many years later I found out what Randy said to Roger to change his mind.)  Randy told Roger if there was ever a thunder storm and lightening hit the house it would hit me first because I was up higher than everyone else in the house.  For the most part Roger and I got along well~ I would do little things like trade all the good Halloween candy from his pumpkin to mine when he wasn’t around.  Regular sibling stuff.

My sister Laura was the oldest, she looked very much like my mom the way she was built small framed, dark hair and dark eyes.  I on the other hand looked like my daddy broad shoulders, tall, blond and blue eyed.  I was the only blond, blue eyed one of the bunch.  Well Roger was blond when he was little thanks to Sun In my mom put in his hair.  Laura could sing, dance, play piano, act, she was loud, could and would laugh at anything and everything.  She was my idol.  We lived together briefly my first year in college, she moved back to the midwest from CA. We had a great 2 bedroom apartment with 2 bathrooms.  We would have long conversations about music, boys,laughing and tattoos.  She wanted one.  I asked her repeatdly not to get one.  She knew exactly what she wanted.  A spaceship over her left breast with a little alien waving.  She got it overspring break when I wasn’t around.  *That tattoo later is part of a great story. When Laura was around everything seemed to be more fun.

After Laura graduated from college she decided she wanted to live in the New England area so back to Boston she went.  We still talked on a regular basis, but it was different with her being so far away.  She would come home for visits and I would go out there to visit her.  I knew I wanted to be closer to her.  Just the beginning….