Monday, May 25, 2015

A Lesson from My Mother

I learned many lessons from my mom...really important stuff like rolling up dad's damp handkerchiefs and putting them in the fridge before ironing.  I learned that nothing compares with the smell of sheets dried on a clothesline. When dad was out of town, I could eat anything I wanted for long as I prepared it...Cheerios was my most favorite!  I carried this tradition on with my children, except we had pancakes!  I learned that good friends are just as important as some cases, more important, especially if there were problems with family!

My mother's actions taught me so very much, but her words are the lessons I remember most. The following is a story I wrote about a few of my mother's words.  I previously posted this story, but feel that it should be shared again. 

When I was in high school, my mom and I argued with each other…a lot!  I saw it as the Battle of Hormones….me just getting some and hers…well…just raging!  Eventually, we both settled down and became great friends.  She would listen to me whine for hours and then give me a hug, telling me I would “figure it out.” 

I was a lifelong dieter, always looking for that “perfect” diet that would make me thin and beautiful…and only take 24 hours! I remember sitting across the kitchen table from mom with tears rolling down my cheeks.  I asked her “why can’t I stop eating?” She just looked at me and began to cry.  She didn’t tell me that she was bulimic. With her silence, she saved me from that destructive disease. She did, however, hold me and tell me I would be okay.

After the birth of my first child, by c-section, hers was the first face I saw when I woke up.  She smiled and told me “He’s perfect!” Then she leaned in a little closer and said softly, “you can do anything!  I smiled at her and then fell back asleep.

These four words were immediately etched upon my heart.  They spoke to me during Tommy’s all-night feedings; and when he discovered that he couldn’t walk on water…in a Jacuzzi; or, when his bike decided to kiss the sidewalk as he rounded the corner. I got used to less sleep.  I found the energy and stamina to hold it all together during the ER visits. I found the words needed to comfort him. I found I could do what had to be done, because of my mom’s words.   

I heard the words again, seconds after the thump and delayed screams of Matt, when he opened up the back of his head on the fireplace after a very creative dismount from the ottoman.  By now, I now had a reserved parking spot at the ER. I watched in horror as they tried to subdue him so they could stitch him up.  He kicked and screamed, and refused to stay still long enough to for them to have any success. They even put him in a pediatric straight jacket; he got out!  He finally passed out from exhaustion, which gave the doctors time to do their thing, and me a few minutes to regroup and focus.  “I can do this” said that little voice inside of me. 

And the time that Edie wandered off from the beach blanket because she saw better snacks somewhere else.  That was the longest 15 minutes of my life!  My first words were, “God, please help me find her!” I put my trust in God, and the hunting party of dad and her brothers as we scoured the sea of blankets and umbrellas.  A force drew me to a large family enjoying their lunch. There she was! They had DONUTS! We didn’t have donuts! I wanted to squeeze the life out of her and scold her for leaving but the words that came from my lips were loving and full of joy at seeing her again.  As we walked away, I thanked God, my mom and her new adopted family.
Kara was so sensitive that she would cry at the change of weather.  One day, out of the blue, she began to sob uncontrollably. I said to myself, “Help me out here, Mom.” My mind flew back to my acting days when I had to sing for a test in voice class.  As I sang “Pretty Little Horses” and gently rocked her, she calmed down…so much…that I had to check her pulse!  When she was 20 and we were 2,000 miles from home, she began sobbing yet again, desperately trying to hold it in.  She told me that she had chest pains and her left arm hurt. Having heart disease in the family, I wasted no time. I found the strength to get her to the nearest ER (where I had to fight for a parking spot). It wasn’t her heart; it wasn’t gastro; it wasn’t her lungs; it wasn’t imaginary!  She was still in pain.  I thought of Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” when she was screaming for meds for her daughter…MY DAUGHTER IS IN PAIN! JUST GIVE HER SOMETHING FOR HER PAIN!!!  A firm hand from above covered my mouth and my words were kind, and to the point. I will never forget the look of euphoria on her face when the morphine kicked in.  I thanked God for taking away her pain, and my mom for holding me together. 
The words, “You Can Do Anything” never had deeper meaning than on the day I found my mom unresponsive at home. You see, it was only three months after she had first spoken the words to me.  My life as a mother had just begun. 

“Not now, please God, not now” I sobbed as the tears began to flow. I felt a stirring deep inside of my soul which took control and guided me through the next few days. My mom’s words gave me the courage to be strong for my dad, my brothers and a very long list of friends.  Over the years, her friends reached out to me with motherly advice (probably her doing), and her sister, Alice, became “Grandma” to each of my four children giving them the very best ever “Grandma” memories. 
My mother’s words have helped me achieve goals in my life that I never thought were possible. After a lifetime of being a food addict, I discovered the way out; I found that I had a passion for writing and I delight in how it makes me feel; I learned that I can actually let go of “things and people” and live to tell about it; but most importantly, I found a way to change how I see the world. Now, I laugh, I dance and I hug total strangers!  I reach out to others and pass along these four magical words, “you CAN do anything!” 

Tag…You’re It! 

Thank you for stopping by today.  My post is brought to you by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.  Please click here to visit her page where you will be find writings of some very talented people that will delight you!   

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Left Me Smiling!

I was walking ahead of this little Precious to preschool class one morning when I began to hear a snapping sort of noise behind me.  The classrooms were all next to an open area overflowing with lush shrubs, plants and small trees.  It occurred to me that Precious was whacking the leaves of the philodendrons as we passed.

"Please stop whacking the plants," I asked, with a firm but pleasant tone.

"I not whacking.." was the reply from Precious.

"I know that you are whacking the the leaves...please stop it now," I countered in my bit-more-firm voice.

"Can't see me..." he countered with a "nanny-nanny" attitude in his voice.

"Oh, yes I can, my Precious," I replied, as I stopped dead in my tracks, dropped to my knees and lifted my shoulder-length locks above the nape of my neck to reveal a most exquisite single-eyed tattoo.  You know...the eye that all Moms have in the back of their head!

I turned around to find that Precious had the most incredibly surprised look (of shock) on his face.

"Mommy!" he shouted, and then he ran to his classroom ahead of me. I could hear him telling his teacher about his Mommy's eye in the back of her head!  It took everything I had to walk into that classroom with a straight face!

My work for the day was done.

Today's post is sponsored by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop and is in response to the prompt "Something my kids said that made me laugh."  Please stop by Mama Kat's blog and enjoy the fun and frivolity of her many followers.  Just click on the link above.

Thanks for stopping by today....Oh, and I must come clean...I do not have, nor have I ever had a tattoo of an exquisite eye in the back of my head!  I so wanted to have one, but just didn't have the guts!

Mama's Losin' It

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Today, I Will....

Today, I will show up.

Today, I will try something new.

Today, I will accept those situations over which I have no control.

Today, I will surrender my fears to God, knowing that guidance will come.

Today, I will improve my attitude, because when I do, the jerks don't seem so bad.

Today, I will touch another with a kind word, because when I do, I feel a joy deep inside that no amount of money could every buy.

Today, I will be grateful for another day in this great life, where I will have a chance to learn and experience new things, which I will share with others.

Today's prompt is sponsored by Kat Bouska, Mama's Losin' It Writers Workshop.  Please stop by and read some really wonderful things that others have to say.

Thank you for stopping by today!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How Far Is Heaven?

"No one wants to suffer.  No one wants to be lonely.  No one wants to live in fear. No one wants to lose everything. No one wants their heart ripped to shreds. No one wants to be sick.  And, no one wants to die. But these things happen in life.  So the least we can do is to be there for others, as we would like others to be there for us."

As I raised my children, I did everything I could to secure their well-being. I wanted them to have every opportunity to experience as much of life as they were able to dream. I tried to encourage them to have passion, and to follow that passion as much as possible.  They made it through the teenage years and into young adulthood with no major hiccups.  Then, it was time for me to let them go.  It was time to watch them fly and make their way in the world on their terms.  I’m not alone. I believe that this is a path taken by almost every parent. We all go through it, as did our parents, and their parents. As we set them free, we feel a sense of accomplishment and look forward to watching them flourish.  For some, it is their time to soar; for others, their time is cut short.  I am honored to share with you a few stories of some very special young men and women who left this earth too soon…by our timetables.


Austen – This 19 year old promising rugby player greeted each day of his life with the anticipation and excitement of a child on Christmas morning.  He loved every minute of every day. He was blessed to have experienced so much in his young life.  He was a gifted athlete, a Boy Scout, and a loving son who lived his life doing all the right things with honor and grace.  As an only child, his parents made sure that he had every opportunity to explore and pursue his passions.  Besides the sport of rugby, Austen loved Formula 1 racing, history (WWII era) and doing just about anything with his friends.  His closest friends numbered around 13, both boys and girls, who had all grown up together.  

One of these friends wrote a tribute to Austen saying, "thank you for letting me share the last 11 years of my life with a best friend like you.  You've always had my back, been my brother, and I know you're still looking over me as you always will."  Austen's friends all remember the contagious smile he wore...sometimes a little goofy, but always a smile!

The St. Louis Rugby Community also acknowledged his contributions to the sport beginning with Parkway United Rugby Club in high school, to the Kohlfeld Scorpions of Cape Girardeau while in college at Southeast Missouri University.  He also made a few appearances with the St. Louis Bombers, the city's elite professional rugby organization that has competed throughout the United States and abroad for over half a century.  

Austen was very happy.  His life was not cut short from illness or poor choices. He was riding a motorcycle when he was hit by a car.  His demise came quickly and he did not suffer any pain. Austen gave the ultimate gift of organ donation and now lives on in in bodies of others. 


 Bobbi - was a bright, energetic and loving young woman.  Her story is more common that we know and I think it needs to be told...over and bring awareness to the reason for her death.  Bobbi, a college graduate and in her mid-20’s, was well on her way to a successful life in a career, relationships and healthy living.  Her free spirit and creativity brought so much happiness to all who knew her.  Being an only child, she took advantage of every opportunity to spend time with her friends.  She was enjoying an evening out with some of her friends at a local establishment when her drink was spiked with a “date-rape” drug. Soon after ingesting, she had an adverse reaction. She became incapacitated and was having difficulty breathing. She was rushed to the hospital.  The doctors were unable to do anything for her and she passed within a few hours.  These drugs do not affect every person the same way, and can be dropped into a soda just as easily as any alcoholic beverage.

Bobbi was dearly loved by many and to this day, she continues to be a warm and loving memory for her family. I have two daughters. This is something I think about...a lot.  It can happen anywhere to anyone. 


Ben - an only child, and a 19 year old promising hockey player, was enjoying his first year of college.  He loved everything hockey, and gave back at his young age by officiating for youth hockey organizations. Although his passion was to play goalie or officiate at the highest level, he also dreamed of announcing hockey games and was working on a broadcasting degree at Illinois State University, Bloomington. 

 Ben lit up every room and every arena he entered.  From hometown friends, to college friends, to hockey referees Ben always left them smiling with his humor and caring demeanor.  Many of his friends all spoke of how Ben would drop everything to help them.  His sense of humor and grace under fire touched everyone who knew him. He once stepped in to sing the National Anthem when the scheduled singer didn't show at a game. He nailed it...not an easy song for anyone to sing!  
Ben was hit by a car while walking on the sidewalk in his college town. He suffered severe head injuries and was transported to the nearest hospital. After doctors exhausted all means possible to save him, they began discussing with Ben’s parents how Ben could save others.  Upon learning of Ben's accident, the Detroit Redwings sent him an autographed jersey that hung on the wall of his hospital room prior to his passing.  Ben also lives on in the bodies of others who received needed organs; one of them is now able to see because of Ben's gift. 

The individuals shared above were "only" children.  When they went left our world, they left incomprehensible voids in the lives of their parents.  Every day is a struggle for the parents to find their way in this new family situation. It takes strength and faith to keep moving forward. I believe that the love they shared with their children while on earth will carry them through until the day they are reunited.  


Erica - knew how to make people feel good about themselves.  Her words touched souls in ways that changed lives.  She wanted to help others, whether it was through teaching in an educational setting, or by working with cancer patients who had lost their hair through chemo.  College educated and filled with a passion to make a difference, she struggled with what she was going to do with her life.  She wanted to know the whole picture and had difficulty accepting that she could not.  She seemed to always shine in the direction of others who needed it.  Little did anyone know, even those closest to her, that she was unable to shine for herself.  She always "smiled for the show" which many found so endearing.  

 Erica suffered from Depression, a disease that is more common than many want to admit because of the stigma associated with it.  It is a disease which symptoms appear in many different forms.  Anxiety, fear, and aggressive, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, can all be connected to Depression.  The signs are not always there, because "we don't want anyone to know" that we are weak, or that we are not "right."  Weak or “not right” can be described as a common character of almost everyone!  

 No one knew just how much pain Erica felt.  All of the intelligence and information available still could not save her from the emotional despair.  Even her strong faith in God was not enough to ease the pain. She just wanted it to go away and felt she had no place to take it.  Erica was found unresponsive by a sibling. I know this loving family, and if there had been any inkling that something was wrong, they would have intervened. 

Those who loved Erica found her independent, trusting, immensely creative, and willing to help anyone in need. On the flip side, she worried about the future and wanted to understand everything about everything.  That was important to her.  But life just isn’t like that.  She was unique in how she learned things, and somewhere along the line, she was given the impression that she was not "good enough" because she figured things out differently than others.

It starts early in life.  Our words have so much power.  We must use them wisely and with much love...not just with children, but also with our peers.

If you or someone close to you exhibits signs of Depression, please know that there is help at many different levels. It is a treatable disease. I started looking for help many years ago. I am grateful that I found it, when I needed it the most.     

I hope you have been touched by the stories of these beautiful children of God.  I became aware of the passing of Austen, Bobbi and Ben, all within a six-month period and felt moved to share them with others. As I began to write about them, I was reminded of Erica and wanted to share her story as a way to increase awareness of Depression.  Today is the four year anniversary of Erica's passing. 

Austen, Bobbi, Ben and Erica were all precious gifts and their loving memories will always have a special place in the hearts of those whom they loved. I wish to extend my thoughts and prayers to the families of each of them and my hope that they find healing as they celebrate the lives of each of these very special children.