Christmas Love

mother_and_child

 

You know there are some businesses that never close.  Hospitals, Public Works, Police and other service orientated companies.  Such was the case one Christmas Eve, 1988. 

I was working at Marionjoy Rehabilitation Center in Wheaton Illinois when the luck of the draw had me working Christmas Eve.  Usually, Marionjoy’s Pharmacy closed at 6pm but this night my boss and I were working on some unusual compounds and had to stay.  Needless to say I was not happy about this.  One hour dissolved into two hours and still I was at the Pharmacy.  I wanted to get home to my kids, I wanted to see them open presents and I actually wanted to have some Oyster Stew at my parents but I was missing it all. 

At 8pm my Boss said to make one more round through the hospital and I could go home.  Why bother?  Everything was ruined.  I missed all the fun. Big deal I could home – yeah me… 

Making my rounds, nursing my annoyed feelings, I entered the second floor.  The halls were quiet but I could hear muffled sounds of the nursing staff celebrating a Christmas Eve party.  Great! I thought.  I get a cold sandwich, they get canapés and EggNog. Hmmmph…. 

Turning to go back to the elevator after filling the drug cart, I heard a sound that I thought was Hi! Whipping my head around, I spied a little toddler girl in a playpen.  Standing there smiling at me was one of our latest arrivals from Marklund Children’s Home.  This little girl called Kathryn was severely brain injured at the hands of her Mother and was rehabilitating at the Center. 

Well, I could not turn away so I approached the playpen and she held her arms up to me.  I bent and picked her up, careful to not dislodge her feeding tube and found a rocker where I could sit with her.  I had planned to only spend a few moments until the nurses noticed she was still in her playpen, but I found myself talking to her. 

I spoke to that little girl for what seemed like hours. I rocked and sang a carol or two. After quite a while, I felt a nudge on my shoulder.  A nurse stood smiling and whispered, “I’ll take her now”.  I realized I had fallen asleep with Kathryn in my arms.  I glanced at my watch and saw that it was 11:30pm!  I had rocked myself to sleep with this precious child in my arms. The nurse said I looked so peaceful she did not want to wake me but little Kathryn needed her crib.  3 ½ hours I was with this sweet child.  And in those hours I forgot my annoyance, my selfish irritation and found a sense of peace that sometimes is rarely felt in the fast, fast world. 

Walking to my car, I realized that I had just been given the greatest gift from the most unusual place.  A little girl, wounded beyond comprehension, taught me what the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t about EggNog or presents or the occasional party.  It is about a small child that brings you love when you least expect it. 

Love, Peace and Serenity to you and your family.

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Losing is Such A Tragedy!

Okay so I did not win. Me! A voracious read-ette who devours books with the speed of sound!

With great confidence I had signed up for the Summer Book Read-A-Thon – grownups version at my local library. You were to record how many books you read in a two month period and you could win fabulous giveaways such as a Library Logo pencil case or gasp! A deck of cards with the Saint Charles fox logo printed right on the pack! Sigh…. What I would not have given to have that!!

Well, I was beaten by 2 books! Two lousy books!!! The woman that won probably only read 96 page odes to Scrapbooking while “I” finished and can brain retain all of the JD Robb Eve Dallas Novels plus a few Linda Lael Millers, Stephen Kings and Linda Hamiltons thrown in for good measure. 37 to 35!

Well I am planning my strategy for next year now. I am going to hunt down “Ms. fancy pants 37 books in 2 months” and steal her library card. That outta do it!

Honor Thy Mother and Father…. Then What?

Floating through Mother’s Day with 3 out of 4 (kids that is) being dutiful as far as Ma Bell would make available and Father’s Day where the funnier the card is the more appreciated, I started to ponder on the Honor your Mother and Father commandment. That would be, Moses’s Number 4 in the Judeo/Christian world and Number 5 for the R.C’s, for all you heathens out there. But I digress. Now to take this literally, I would have all the boys plus daughter fawning at my feet and washing them with their contrite salty tears but that is another Cecil B DeMille moment I try not to let my psychologist know about. But, to really look at that commandment is to dig deeper.

The word Honor according to Princeton’s Wordnet is as follows:

A tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction; “an award for honor and bravery” . That works for me. All Mother’s at some point or another should be awarded for bravery especially for those late night “Come pick me up from jail calls”. A woman’s virtue or chastity. May not work considering the whole honor the parent thing means this is pretty much null and void. The quality of being honorable and having a good name. Hmmm since I change my name a little bit more than most, this might have a hard time catching up with me. Respect: show respect towards; “honor your parents!” Ah BINGO! That is what it is; respect.

Respect thy Mother and Father. Pretty straightforward right? Well there are mitigating circumstances that respecting your Mother and Father may be a little hard to do such as in the case of Mom or Pop is a serial killer, crack addict that abandoned you at two, or you were beat every day of your life. But, to offer simple, decent, respect is fairly easy to a parent that loves you and would like to be a part of your grown-up life. That meaning that you have actually grown-up.

I wasn’t the easiest person to get along with in my terrible teens then my tumultuous twenties, where it could have been textbook to blame my parents for the fact that I couldn’t make a solid decision to save my life. But I don’t blame them; I maintained my rights to screw up. So if you had a difficult life then sort it out and forgive. Easy, right? No, but the benefits outweigh the pain of forgiving.

Simple, decent respect means to call your parents on a regular basis, to stop dwelling on the negative, increase the positives in your life by having a relationship with your parents that at the very least is cordial. And a real important point is if you ask for advice; don’t be pissed off when they give it. Advice from a parent is usually well tried and there is experienced knowledge behind it. And you are never too old to be pulled back out of your whirling dervish self. That is just the parental love shining through.

So to tie this up there is a great verse from Ephesians 6:1-3 that states 1 Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother 2 this is the first commandment with a promise. 3 That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.

Hey check that out! You can have a long wonderful life if you respect your parents! The alternative of course, is your choosing.

Setting Myself Up

I live in this little fantasy world that upon awakening on the Holy Grail of Hallmark holidays, the doorbell rings and when I open the door my three sons stand on my stoop beaming with their surprise and their arms laden with flowers, boxes of candy and cards that would make a UFC fighter weep. As I usher them into my spotless living room, I remove my apron which is covered in flour because I have been baking cookies and I am swept away to a fabulous twenty five course brunch all along wearing a orchid corsage that my loving boys have presented to me.

Reality check! First I do not own an apron, I burn cookies and most Mother’s Day I have a running bet with myself of which child will forget that this is supposed to be “My” day! I constantly set myself up for disappointment every year. I think that maybe this year will be different instead of realizing that I take the blame for raising three very independent workaholics that usually by 5pm their time zone they realize that oops! Forgot to call. Sigh………

This year was somewhat of a surprise to me. Tim sent a card that arrived “before” Mother’s Day, he also called me at 10am this morning beating out my special son Robert, who I can count on calling at 6am to one up the other boys on timeliness. Steven called late in the afternoon, saying the only reason he remembered is that he said Happy Mother’s Day to 150 souls that ventured in his restaurant with their own orchid laden Moms in tow. Ashley got me a cuter then peaches card with a gift certificate to Borders Josh is MIA. Three out of Four ain’t bad.

So reviewing my Mothers Day it was actually pretty good this year. Although the skies decided that raining torrentially on my newly planted hostas was a good idea and my Doc thought this would be a good day to try out a new medication on his own personal guinea pig (Me!) which made me almost want to snooze into my Chicken Fajitas and I left my cell phone in the rain which rendered it only good to get messages, I would say that I had a decent Mom’s Day.

So do I really want the fantasy? Well kinda yeah. The fantasy ala Donna Reed is not a bad one. But I suppose I should be content with what I do receive on this day. Despite being pharmceutically comatose and a little sad, I do dream that one day ALL the boys will be home, that I can gather them in my arms and tell them I love them.

Today of all days and holidays in the year, I miss them more than ever.

Ad Me!

Why do advertising people seem to think they know all about me? Well I have a few replies for them.

Will the Victoria’s Secret Memory Bra remember where my boobs used to be?

Does having that not so fresh feeling mean I have an expiration date?

When you wish you were an Oscar Meyer weiner, does this mean you have identity issues?

When I get Gladd why does this stop me from getting mad?

Drinking coffee that is good to the last drop does not sound too appealing. Isn’t the last drop in your cup cold and full of grounds?

If you come alive with Pepsi, does this mean that Coke drinkers are dead?

When I hear Snap, Crackle, Pop it usually means that my knees are getting bad.

Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!” “Wimpy! Wimpy! Wimpy! Sounds like a bunch of bullies are in a pissing contest in my garbage can.

How do I spell relief? Sleep.

1800 COLLECT: Save a buck or two. Oh Great another cost that my sons inflict on me..

When someone says this Bud’s For You, is it rude to say you don’t really like Bud and why do I have to take him?

Don’t Leave Home Without It. Oh God, what did I forget now?

Just Do It. Oh shut-up! I will do it when I feel like doing it!

“I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too Ummm??? Sounds very FLDS to me.

Beef – it’s what’s for dinner. Finally someone else is doing the cooking!

Snitch or Not to Snitch: That is the Question

I am riled! My bristles are up on my neck and I am ranting a BIG rant! My girl Nanetta who is not only my confidant but is my navigator through all things in the chasm that is the social divide, we were discussing the latest shootings and boy did it get my dander up!

Can someone out there please educate me as to why the Chicago School system sanctioned students to be allowed to attend a gun control rally instead of attending school? Now this is a system that has a 52% of all students NOT graduating high school and they think it is a great idea for the students to skip school. Their parents should be coming together cohesively and start to strategize how to weed out the bad element in their neighborhoods not sit passively on their backsides and not get involved.

I am really sorry that 20 students have lost their lives to shootings. I do agree that this wave of violence has to be stopped. It is vile and should not be allowed in our society ever. But it is. And why? Because the people that should be raising the biggest stink ever, don’t. And by that I mean the parents and any witnesses to a shooting claim they “didn’t see nothing”.

I am sick of seeing people on TV lamenting the latest vile shooting but when asked who did it they don’t know. They don’t know because they choose to not get involved. And that my friends, is the despicable action that needs to be addressed first before any protests, shouts to the Mayor or the inevitable “woe is me” attitude that sweeps our neighborhoods. They know who the bangers are! And you can’t tell me that no one knows who committed the Lane Bryant murders. It is their uneducated assumption that if they call the authorities they will be labeled a snitch. So what! Take that label and be proud of it! At least you are doing something!

And you cannot tell me that parents do not know who the gang members are. You also cannot inform me that I do not know what I am talking about because I do and I have been in situations where I had to open my mouth regardless of the preconceived risks I might be taking. You see I did not always live in whitebread suburbia, I spent a lot of time in downright awful areas.

I will never tell you that my sons were saints. In fact they were downright miserable teenagers that tortured me at every intersection. But I will tell you that when the big bad Chicago drug dealer set up shop in my complex, I called the cops and stood by his car so that they would have a proper identification of it. I did make a visit to his connection JoBo and warned him that I would not tolerate his BS and reported him to the authorities as well. Granted my sons were angry, embarrassed, whatever. But I let them know I was not placed on earth to be their friend.

So parents in violent neighborhoods open your mouth! Tell the authorities what you know. Tell them that so and so is causing trouble. Snoop on your kids, go through drawers and be aware always that your children know more than they claim to. Parent your children so that society does not have to in your irresponsible wake.

Celebrity Rehab – Wrong or Healing?

There has been much pooh-poohing surrounding VH1’s Celebrity Rehab. Many criticize Dr. David Drew Pinsky’s motives for doing a show such as this. Bloggers, recovering addicts and addiction specialists, feel that it sensationalizes the serious disease of addiction. William Moyers, the Executive Director of Hazeldon Recovery Center, states that Celebrity Rehab is “yet another example of the dumbing down and trivialization of a very serious and chronic illness that robs people of their dignity and respect”.

I consider myself a very compassionate and somewhat understanding person when it relates to addictions. I have many friends that suffer from this disease as well as a few close to me losing their lives, such as my ex-husband Daniel and best friend Bonnie, to this daily never-ending fight. And still, knowing some of the perils and gut-wrenching decisions addicts have to make daily in their lives, I did not understand completely and unequivocally this disease.

At first I admit watching that first show I was disgusted with the concept. People that have this disease that robs them of their lives should not be paraded like circus monkeys for our viewing entertainment. Then it hit me. I wanted to see what went on in a treatment facility. I wanted to hear what addicts had to say. I wanted to finally understand Daniel and Bonnie’s death. You see. Even though I was a first hand observer of what this disease does, I had run away from my own feelings of helplessness. I have spent so many years not fully understanding how this ugly memory of my past works. I am the typical bystander.

Several years ago, after my friend went into rehab, I was told that “I was really great at getting people into treatment but I was lousy at maintaining them”. Ouch! That really did hurt. But you see, I had no idea how treatment worked. Oh sure I had the ground floor understanding but I didn’t see past my own feelings of “Good you are in, now get better and don’t do it again.” I always felt that if the person really wanted to stop they would. Now this is very common feeling amongst the non-addicts but this feeling can also bring great pain to everyone involved.

I never saw what went on in treatment with Daniel. I went to the family meetings but swallowed too many bad tastes in my mouth to ever be really an effective supporter in Dan’s recovery. I didn’t see the disease Daniel had, just the horror it inflicted on me. The addiction counselors at the treatment center weren’t all that concerned at the time with the family, just the patient. Now I know that there have been huge steps in the way of treating the whole family not just the addict but in that era there was not much available with the exception of Al-anon for families. His own sponsor told me I was in the way of Daniel’s recovery. So I was left to struggle with my anger and sadness on my own.

For years I thought Daniel had his private club. A place where I was not allowed and I felt so left out that I could not deal with my own feelings of despair. So I hid them. Hid my feelings away in a nice tidy and mangageable package. I did what was best for my kids and me and I left Dan. Why not! He had all his addict friends, I had the shame that he was an addict. For years I ate my anger for sustenance daily. What a confused mess that was.

Watching Celebrity Rehab, especially the episode where the family was present enlightened me. The wives were saying what I had always wanted to say. The addicts let me know what was in their brains and I really started to heal myself. I started to understand what people with this disease go through. It made sense. I got to see the process. To see how painful it was and to start to really care about these addicts. I felt the years of hurt dropping away and I started to finally understand for the first time in my life that addiction is a disease. It is a disease that robs everyone of their dignity; addict and non-addict alike.

So do I agree with the experts that shun this show as exploitative? For me? No. Because I am seeing what I should have seen years ago. I know now I can ask questions of the addict without feeling I am invading a secret territory. I can stop being angry and hurt and I can understand.

Finally