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Every family has its stories.

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Bridget

My Mom adored her grandchildren and as far as she was concerned they were her angels.   There was no such thing as too much of whatever as far as she was concerned when it came to her grandchildren.  If we, as parents, tried to say no to a second piece of cake or candy we were told "Grandma's house, Grandma's rules" and that second piece of cake or candy was given by her.  I, as a Grandmother, also adore my grandchildren.  Unlike my mother, however, I accept that they aren't little angels.  Their halos aren't always perfectly straight and glowing.  I try to be a good Mom and respect my childrens' roles as parents and not interfere when discipline is needed.     When a Grandmother makes a statement like that you can be sure it will be followed with a but and I'm no exception. 

Roy #2 called us last Tuesday evening asking if he could come for a visit.  Of course the answer was yes so Papa picked him and his sister up the next day and they had the pleasure of being with Papa while he had to make a few stops.  Their Dad called to check on when we'd get the kids and I told him his Dad had already left.  "They're grounded from all electronics" my son advised me.   Good Mom that I am I didn't ask him why since I was already planning to speak with my grandchildren later.  You know, just to make sure the punishment fit the crime.  "What if their cousins come over to play and they want the kids to play games on the play station" I asked him.  "They're with you now so Grandma's house, Grandma's rules" he told me.  When the kids arrived we talked for a while and when I asked them why they were grounded they told me with no hesitation.  I shared what their Dad said about Grandma's house, Grandma's rules and all was well.

Of course they played with their cousins and whether or not they actually used any elecronics didn't matter.  The weather was so nice that they were outside until dark; kids being able to be kids like I remembered my boys playing.  My granddaughter, Roy #6, went grocery shopping with me so I could pick up their favorites for lunch, dinner, breakfast and snacks.  The only kid foods I keep on hand are their cookie jar and M&M bowl which are both kept full on the counter for them.   Even my grown children help themselves to the M&M bowl.  I've told my grandchildren to help themselves but they will always ask me before taking any cookies.   When Papa sometimes comments on the hand full of M&M's or the 3 or 4 cookies taken at a time I remind him too, "Grandma's house, Grandma's rules".  

We had a little bit of excitement Holy Thursday while the kids were still with us.  I made them their breakfast and then left them with Papa while I met Sister #4 for breakfast.  When I returned home I saw that my husband's truck was gone and the kids were all outside with daughter-in-law #2.  "Where's Compound" I asked her and she explained that he had taken himself to the ER at Arnot.  I knew he hadn't been feeling well for a while but I was surprised that he went.  Compound is not going to be happy with me for telling this but l have to in order to share the rest of the story about Roy #5.  Long story short Compound was admitted overnight, tests done, and to our relief we were told the problems he's having aren't cardiac related.  Roy #2 and #6 were taken home by their Aunt while I was with Compound.  About 9:00 pm that evening the phone rings and I answer thinking it's Hubby. 
 "Hello Grandma, what are you doing" asks Roy #5.  
"Just reading a bit before bed" I told him.
"But you don't have anyone to talk to" he says.
"Well, I have the television and the dog and cat are here".
"I could come over and sleep on your couch, you know, so you won't be lonely" he tells me.
"It's fine sweetie, I'll be just fine". 
His answer is a reluctant "okay" and we hang up.  The phone rings again and it's my Roy, "Grandma I really can sleep on your couch".
"Sweetie, if you want to come over you're welcome to stay, the back door's unlocked" I tell him.  Before I can put the phone down he's coming in the back door with his pillow and blanket.  He told me it bothered him to think I only had the dog and cat to talk to without Papa being home.  We both slept well that night.

All our kids and grandkids were here for Easter and it was a wonderful day.  I set things up buffet style, so everyone fixes their plate before sitting at the dinning table.  The kids are now old enough that they fix their own plates, taking what they want and usually  sitting together in the living room using our wooden tv trays.  I don't think they mind not being with the adults in the dinning room because they can have their own conversations and not worry about their parents' eagle eyes watching what they do or don't eat.   Roy #2 came back into the kitchen to get his beverage and I handed him a new jar of chilled dill pickles.  "Thanks Mammy" he said with a big smile taking the jar from me.  You see, he loves pickles of any kind. "It's not opened yet can you get it" I asked him and he assured me he could. 
 "Don't you eat all those pickles" his Mom tells him and he looks at me.  "You eat what you want, how much you want, when you want" I tell him with a smile.  Amid the confusion of family getting food, talking and the laughter I heard one of my daughters-in-law comment when she saw a package of Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls on the counter.  "He loves those rolls and will finish the package if you let him".  I found the empty pickle jar along with an empty package of Kings Hawaiian Rolls on the kitchen counter after dinner.  Half the rolls were left in the other package.  "Grandma's house, Grandmas rules".

My sisters and I don't usually see each other on the acutal Holiday but we always telephone to wish each other a "Happy" or "Merry" depending on the holiday.  Early Easter morning I started by calling Sister #2 and finished with Sister #6 trying not to think about the one phone call I wouldn't be making this Easter.  On past Easter mornings I would call my sister, Andrea, and find her busy cooking and putting the finishing touches to the Easter gifts for her grandchildren before joining her daughter and grandchildren for dinner.  This year, all I could think about as I called my other sisters was "not this Easter" and that hurt.   Throughout the day I thought of her often, how much I missed her and thinking about everything she was missing.  It wasn't until later, after my family had all gone home, that I realized something important.  Andrea wasn't missing anything.  I realized she had a seat at a dinning table shared by others no longer with us.  Most importantly, the host was Christ, whose ultimate sacrifice for us is the reason we celebrate Easter.  I could picture her bustling around making sure everyone had what they needed and offering help to anyone who needed something.  She was able to celebrate this Easter with the grandson who didn't live but a few hours after birth.  Then I wondered, and this made me smile, what would Jesus think of "Grandma's house, Grandma's rules" remembering that He also had a Grandmother.

Bridget

March brought the first day of Spring despite the wind, snow, rain and up and down temperatures.  March also marked, for me at least, the fact that Christmas is 9 months away.  As I finished that sentence I pictured DIL#1 shaking her head and muttering that they have programs for people like me.  I have started my Christmas list with one name and one item but the list is started.  I thought about entering Hallmark's March Madness on-line contest for favorite Christmas movies but Santa wouldn't like the words I use when I try to connect to the internet.  

Sister #6 hosted our March sister meeting and everyone was able to attend.  I actually won $12.00 playing a card game that can bring out some not so nice behavior in some of my sisters.  Sister #5 brought her daughter and it was nice seeing her and catching up on what's been happening in her busy college life.  She shared an experience with one of her classes, Sociology I believe, and the Professor.  Evidently March was Women's Month or something because she mentioned how there was a portrait of President Trump in the classroom, a portrait painted using menstrual blood.  I'm still trying to figure out how that promotes Women's Month or women's issues but then again I don't understand abstract art either.  My Niece thought it was disgusting and voiced her opinion which wasn't well received.  The subject of race was also discussed and again my niece was taken to task for using the word "colored".  The Professor told her (and I'm paraphrasing) that using that word showed how much of a racist she was and that her thinking was clouded by her "white privilege".  My niece responded by pointing out that the Professor's comment was also racist for assuming that because my niece was blue-eyed and blonde she had a life of privilege.  Niece told the Professor that was judging a person based on how they look without knowing what their life was really like.  The Aunts were all very proud of her for speaking her opinion and not backing down when faced with opposition. 

Roy #6 (my grand-daughter) invited me to see Beauty and the Beast with her so we went to see the movie on March 25th.  The movie was wonderful but my companion made it special.  At one point Roy told me she had to use the ladies room.  I asked her if she knew where it was, she told me yes and left.  Within 15 seconds, my mind quickly reviewed the rash of arrests reported the last two weeks or so on the local news of arrests of sex abusers and molesters.  I was out of my seat and following my Roy.  I went to the rest room behind the concession stand and waited a couple of seconds but no Roy.  I called her name, no answer so I started knocking on stall doors.  No Roy, annoyed occupants but no Roy.   I quickly returned to the theatre and there she was.  It took a bit of time for my heart rate to return to normal.   About a half hour later she said she had to go again and this time I went with her.  Evidently she didn't know there were restrooms behind the concession stand so she had gone to the restrooms outside the theatre which is why I missed her the first time.   We did a bit of shopping, walked around window shopping and finally sat and talked while she enjoyed a play-dough ice cream cone.  She told me of her difficulties with math, fractions in particular, and I told her math wasn't always my best subject either.  I told her all she could do was to give it her best effort.  Some parts of math are easier than others and you just have to keep trying.  She also mentioned that some of the kids in her class ask her if she was held back a year because she's so much taller than many of the students in her class.   I laughed at that and told her when I was her age I was called "spider legs" as in daddy long legs because I was all arms and legs.  "Maybe you'll grow up to be a super model" I told her.  "No Mammy, I want to make dolls when I grow up" was her answer while showing me pictures of designer baby dolls on her phone.  "I'm sure you'll be a great doll maker" I told her, "you'll be great at whatever you decide".  It was another good March day.

March Mondays were spent with Roy#7 (Little Roy who will be 3 in July).   While I was working outside the home Hubby was able to spend a day or two a week with our older Roys when they were younger before starting school.  I'm retired now so I have that time with Little Roy.  I've forgotten how busy two year olds can be and that you should not be surprised at what will come out of their mouths.  One day he was playing with his trains which are connected by magnets.  Evidently he was having trouble keeping the trains  connected because I heard a sweet little voice say "F**k  it".  
"What did you say" I asked him.  Still kneeling on the floor he turns his head, looks up at me, then looks back to his trains.  "Damn it" he answers.   Grandma had a conversation with his Daddy.

Potty training is something else I forgot about.  This past Monday I decided to leave him in his Mickey Mouse pj's without pull-ups or underpants.  "Remember" I told him, "don't pee on Mickey and don't poop on Mickey.   You tell BaBa (that's what he calls me) if you have to pee or poop".  I was in the kitchen washing dishes when he comes running to me.  "Poop's coming" he tells me while hold his hand on his behind.  "Let's get to the potty" I tell him as we run for the bathroom.  I pull his pj bottoms down and lift him onto the toilet.  "Poop's coming" he says again, face red with straining.  "It's okay honey, let it come" I say with a smile as I sit on the side of the tub.  He's straining to go #2 and I'm thinking success as I glance at the bathroom floor.  That's when I notice a trail of brown stains which I follow with my eyes leading to the round turd resting on the floor by the toilet.   Evidently it came out the bottom of his pj's as he ran into the bathroom, I stepped in it and kicked it so it rolled to a rest by the toilet.  "What happened" Little Roy said when he saw the turd on the floor.  "We didn't quite make it buddy" I told him.  I lifted him off the toilet and realized his straining had produced another turd but it was stuck.  I cleaned him up and let him flush the toilet.  "I pooped" Little Roy said as I helped him wash his hands.  "Yep, you did a good job" I told him as I cleaned up the floor and my shoe.  I'm still calling that a success.  

Bridget

Retirement 101

It has now been one full month since my retirement and I'm pleased to say that Hubby and I are still speaking and have all our working parts.  I am learning how life is without a Monday through Friday work week.  I'm also learning that no full time job means you can do what you want when you want if you want.  I never thought that would be difficult to deal with but it's taking me some time to adjust to that one.  My head is sometimes still at work thinking about month end reports, court schedules, arraignments and stuff, but I'm slowly getting over that.  Hubby will remind me "you're retired, it's not your problem now".

 A frequently asked question is "how are they getting on".    You see, Hubby has been alone during the day for over 10 years and I'll admit I often wondered how it would be once I was home every day myself.  He actually told me it's nice to have someone to talk to during the day other than the dog.  I took that as a compliment because I know I can carry on a better conversation than the dog.   

I have always been an early riser and more often than not was awake before the alarm went off at 5:00 am.   This morning, after waking up about 7:30 am, I turned the alarm back on because not once since my retirement have I been awake before 7:00 am.  Hubby has no complaints.   While I was working he'd get his "coffee's ready" morning wake up call at 6:00 am.  There were many, many mornings he'd want to sleep in but he'd get up to have morning coffee with me before I left for work.   Sleeping in just doesn't feel right to me yet and yes, I can hear all the "are you crazy" comments.

This may sound strange because we've been married for 44 years but for me it's like I'm getting to know my best friend all over again.  We spend time talking about everything from politics to personal stuff.  Perhaps it's because we're older but it seems like it's easier to share things with each other.  That's not to say we haven't bumped heads once or twice because we have but making up is still fun.   In fact, the other day Hubby was puttering around in his shop and I decided to visit him in his "man cave".  I knocked on the door and heard "Who is it"?  
"Love on delivery" I replied (first word edited as some of my granchildren read my stories).
"I don't have any money" Hubby says as he opens the shop door for me.
"Don't worry", I tell him, "You get the senior discount".  
"Ouch" he laughs.  I think we're in the "honey moon" phase of my retirement and I'm enjoying how we are re-connecting with each other. 

I've baked, cleaned and thrown stuff away, spent some time  shopping, but I haven't found my "thing" yet.  The upside is I'm retired so I have all the time I need to figure it out.

Bridget

Life's changes can happen with the gentleness of a soft summer breeze or the gale force winds of a winter storm.   During this last year or so I have noticed that something inside me is different.  I have changed in some way that has affected how I look and feel about my small part of the world and the people who come and go in that world.  I don't trust like I used to and have lost faith in things I once firmly believed.  The good guys don't always win, giving 120% of yourself in what you do all the time is tiring and often not noticed, just taken for granted.  I find myself asking "why should I care more than....".  I don't like feeling that way.  It needs to change.

Putting pen to paper and having the words flow has always been easy for me.  It has allowed me to express what I was feeling, to paint a picture of what I saw or remembered.  Through the years I have kept journals full of thoughts, feelings and ideas but always kept private and never shared.  Pages that are full of me and who I was at that particular moment in time.  Gradually I have been able to change that private part of me and a few years ago I started posting my stories for others to read.  It was not easy to share the things I had written, to open myself up to others but I was able to change and take a chance.  

I have always believed that you should share the best of who you are and what you have, the positive and happy things.   Unfortunately, the changes life brings aren't always happy and positive and full of sunshine and roses.  It is easy to share the happy, joyful, funny happenings of day to day life but anger, frustration, sorrow, those feelings are not very easy to share, especially for me.  My ability to put pen to paper and have the words flow has changed, becoming more difficult these last several months.  The words and feelings are there, bottled up, and when the pressure becomes too much released silently and privately through tears.  As a child I learned that crying was a waste of time and effort and got you nothing but a wet face.  There is also the fact that I am not one of those lucky women who can cry and still look pretty.  I don't have glistening eyes surrounded by lush, wet lashes; my face gets red, blotchy and puffy and my nose runs.  Believe me, snot and tears mixed together is not at all attractive.  No one wants to kiss those tears away.  

One thing that hasn't changed is our monthly sister meetings.  Sister number 4 hosted our monthly meeting on January 21st, her first since the loss of our sister.  In the past, we have always gathered in her dining room for our  meetings but this month it was her kitchen table.  This was a change we all noticed immediately and understood but no one made any comments at the time.  It wasn't until the next day when I spoke to her by telephone that I told her how sitting at her kitchen table made it easier to be together without Andrea.  She acknowledged that was her intention.  A simple change that made such a big difference.   We played cards and dice games which I lost every time meaning my quarter bag was much lighter when I came home.  There was conversation and laughter and the simple pleasure of enjoying each other's company.  I don't believe that will ever change.

"Change, v. to pass from one phase to another".   I will share another change in my life that, about three months ago, I decided it was time to make.   Wednesday, the 18th of January was my last day of full time employment.  I am retired.  I have absolutely no idea what I want to do next I just know it was time for me to make a change, my choice this time.  I do know that whatever I decide to do next has to be something I want to do and it has to be something I will take pleasure and joy in doing.   

Bridget

It has very recently come to my attention that I have not aged as well as I always thought.  As the eldest of six girls I was always secretly pleased that some of my younger sisters looked older than I.  Well, that happy bubble burst about two weeks ago.  I had catarac surgery on my right eye.

I have been aware that I had cataracs these last couple of years but it had gotten to the point where I had to wear sun glasses even on the most cloudy, overcast day.  When I saw the Doctor in October he told me I passed the insurance company requirements with flying colors (bless their hearts) and we could finally schedule the surgery for my right eye.  My cataracs weren't the usual "old age" kind, he told me, but the type that affected how light was processed by my eyes.  I was not surprised, of course,  because my mirror told me I was aging so well after all.   The day before my surgery I drove with one eye shut so I could see how it would be if things didn't go so well.  Despite a bad case of nerves the day of my surgery all went well.  

 By the evening of the second day post-op the blurred vision and halos were gone.  I was amazed at how bright colors were and how clear and sharp everything was.  As I entered the bathroom I happened to glance in the mirror and stopped dead in my tracks.  "Oh f***", (yep, I used THAT word) "maybe cataracs aren't so bad after all".  Leaning in closer to the mirror I wondered how long those lines had been there, when had my hair started thinning.  I realized my highlights weren't  highlights but were really a good number of  gray hairs.  Looking at my wrinkled hands and arms I was dismayed to see all these brown spots.  Where had they come from?  To make matters worse, I saw that when the medical staff covered my left eye with the surgical drape part of my eyebrow was ripped away when they removed the tape.  Shit!  

I closed my all seeing right eye and looked at my reflection with my catarac covered left eye.  Yep, there she was, the smooth skinned younger looking me. Open right eye and there she is, the older looking real me.   I closed both eyes  with a sigh.  Hubby asked me what was wrong and I told him.  Wrapping his arms around me he assured me I look fine.  "I always wonder who the old man is staring back at me too" he said.  That's fine for him, he's had a few years to get used to that old man looking at him.  I just met the old lady staring back at me.  QVC to the rescue.  The next day I tuned in to a segment about a certain brand of makeup that works wonders covering  any flaws.  I ordered said miracle makeup and when it arrived I got to work.  As promised, the make-up covers all flaws and makes my skin look younger and glowing.  The problem is I don't think I can handle the itching.   "Vanity, thy name is not Bridget".   The make-up will be returned (thank goodness for QVC's 100% satisfaction guarantee), and my left eye will be taken care of next week.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the happiest one of all"?  That will be me....she who can finally see.  I'm growing fond of the old lady in the mirror looking back at me and I know I love the old man my husband sees looking back at him.

Bridget

Ob la di ob la da......

 

My Sisters and I have continued with our monthly meetings but it hasn't been easy.  Our "spark" has been missing and we've been very careful about what we say or do so as not to say or do anything to regret.... just in case something happens to one of us again.  The reality of the fragility of life hit home hard when our sister, Andrea, died so unexpectedly.  It left us...me, floundering, trying to understand the why and knowing that no answer will make sense or make things okay again.  There's a Beatle song (my famiy will be shocked I can name artist and title) "Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra, La la how the life goes on".  And it does, one day after another.

The last weekend in August Grandma had an "all cousin" sleep over as the kids say.  I planned, shopped and looked forward to having all my "Roys" close.  Despite Hubby's grumbling I purchased two roll-a-way beds so no one had to use sleeping bags on the floor.  That weekend I learned that my three teenage Roys do not like sharing a bed.  As Roy #1 told me "it's creepy touching his (Roy #3's) legs".  So he slept on top of the sheet while his cousin slept under the sheet.  I was tucking the younger Roys in for the night when Roy #6 (our granddaughter) spoke up.    "Mammy aren't you forgetting something"?
"Did I forget your kiss" I asked her knowing I didn't.
"Grandma kisses are magic" Roy #5  tells his cousins.
You forgot to read Goodnight Moon she said as I leaned down to kiss her goodnight again.   This is a book that I read to my boys when they were small and then to all my Roys since they were babies each and every time they have stayed with us through the years.  I actually didn't think they would notice as my Roys seem to be growing up so quickly.  I took the book from the shelf in their room and sat down on the bed and started reading.  By the second page I realized my three older Roys were in the room listening too.  They even repeated some of the passages with me as I read.  Once the story was finished the younger Roys were ready to settle in.  I tucked my older Roys in and found myself wishing for the Grandma magic Roy #5 mentioned.  I seem to have misplaced it these last few months.  I know it's not really lost it's just buried deep inside waiting to be re-discovered again .  

September passed so quickly with one day blending into another.  On one of those days Papa was in the backyard with Little Roy cleaning up his raised garden beds.  Unfortunately, when he stepped over the fencing around the beds he tripped and fell.  Pointing at the ground Little Roy tells him "Eeww Papa, poop".  Sure enough right next to where Hubby landed was a good sized pile of dog poop, probably Irish Wolfhound sized poop.   Luck was with PaPa because he didn't land on the pile of poop and he didn't hurt himself when he fell.  

Sister #2's daughter hosted our October sister meeting on the 21st.  It was a perfect evening for the soups she made since the day was chilly with wind blown rain.  I left that get-together realizing that for the first time since May it was like our sister meetings used to be before Andrea died.  Conversation flowed and Sister #2 and I even exchanged some heated words about a touchy childhood subject.  We agreed to disagree and it felt good to argue.  We played the "mean" card game and I actually won a hand.  What meant more to me than winning was that for each of the games we played I was able to score no points on the last hand which is the most difficult of the game.  When I hooted with excitement after the last game I scared the bejeepers out of Sister #4 making her jump and almost fall out of her chair.  "That's the most animated I've seen you be in months" she told me.  

We laughed....a lot.  My sisters will kill me if they know I've told about this next part so you have to promise not to say a word.  At one point while we were talking 3 of those present who happened to be sitting next to each other (no names will be mentioned and it wasn't me) passed gas, one right after the other, like singers taking part in a round type song.  "I didn't know you guys could harmonize" I told them and we all cracked up with laughter.  Genuine, spirit lifting, joyful laughter and it felt wonderful, almost like magic.    "La la how the life goes on".

Bridget

Games People Play

I work with my sister, and that would be Sister #4.   It makes for interesting and sometimes frustrating work days for both of us because we certainly do bump heads at times.  Fortunately, we are able to let any disagreements go and not hold grudges.   Today may be different.

“I stopped at the Dandy on my way to work and saw they had a new scratch off lottery ticket so I picked up one for you” she says while handing me a lottery ticket and a banana.
“Well thank you” I tell her as I get the two winning scratch off tickets I picked up last night and had won $9.00.
“Well good maybe you’ll be lucky on the one I got for you” says Sis.  I set the ticket aside on my desk and got to work on some files.  

She takes the winning tickets I bought to look for ticket numbers and letters because that usually tells you how much you won.
Taking a moment, I decided to scratch off her ticket.  Reading the front of the ticket it says match three of the same dollar amounts and you win that amount.  Starting at the first spot I scratch and reveal a $10,000 winner.  I scratch the second spot and it’s a $50.00 winner.  The third spot reveals another $10,000 winner.  At this point I feel my excitement rising.  The fourth spot was a $100.00 winner, the fifth spot was a $1,000 winner and the final spot revealed a $10,000 winner.  At first I’m stunned and my heart starts pounding.   I stare at the ticket not believing I matched the $10,000 three times.  

I start bouncing in my seat as I tell my co-worker/sister that we won $10,000.  Seeing my red face she tells me to read the back of the ticket.  I turn it over and see the usual spot where you fill in your name and address.  
“Read the small print” she says.  I hand the ticket to her and she starts reading.  When she reads the part about claiming more than $100.00 you have to go to Fairy Dust Lane, she cracks up laughing.  I was not amused.  She did later admit she felt bad when she saw the excitement in my face.

Oh well.....I got over it but it took me a while.  So being the sisters that we are, we decide to prank someone else.   I drop the ticket on the floor by the employee entrance making sure the dollar amounts are face up thinking someone would pick it up and get a kick out of it also.  Well, someone picked it up but no one has said anything yet.

We hope they read the small print before heading to Syracuse to claim their prize. 
 

 

Bridget

Sister #2 was to host our monthly sister meeting for May.  We gathered at her home on May 21st to work on thank you notes for all those caring people who acknowledged our sister's death on May 10th.  We spent time talking, looking at pictures; everything except acknowledge that one of us was missing.  When we started doing the thank you notes  tempers seemed to be easily aroused.  No one spoke of what they were feeling.  the unspoken truth was that one of us was gone.  When the thank you notes were finished Sister #2 told us she planned her sister meeting for May 28th.  Everyone agreed we would call May's meeting that day.

May quietly passed into June with one day quickly blending into another.  Andrea would have hosted our June sister meeting but no one mentioned anything.  I knew we couldn't let June go by without getting together.  The reality that one of was gone had to be faced.  I decided to host our June sister meeting on the 25th and kept things very simple, just cookies, cake and beverages.  sister #4 wasn't able to attend because her daughter's High School graduation was that same day.  Even though she was home in time to join us she told me she was just too tired.  I told her it was okay but I believe she wasn't ready to face a sister meeting without Andrea.  No one mentioned playing games, we just spent time together talking.  If i were asked to use one word to describe that get-together it would be subdued.  We are each of us dealing with our sister's death in our own ways.  

The other day a co-worker asked me how my sisters and I were doing since Andrea's death.  I told her it was simply taking one day at a time.  she said she couldn't imagine losing one of her siblings.  I explained that it was like something broke and no matter how hard you try to put it back together the way it was you can't quite get it right.  There's a crack where it once was smooth.  With time you eventually learn to live with it the way it is and you don't notice the crack  as much.

The sun will rise each morning and set each evening and so too life goes on.  June is quickly moving into July which is turning out to be a very busy month.  My youngest grandson, Roy #7, turns 2 on July 3rd and Mom is having his birthday party on July 2nd.  He's a very busy little boy and I love the way he expresses himself with and gestures.  You definitely recognize his "what's up with this" shoulder shrug.  He talks constantly and while we don't always understand what he's saying he seems to have a lot to talk about.  He believes why walk when you can run and he does love his Papa.  Sister #5's son will turn 21 on July 10th and she's having a birthday party for him on the 16th.  Her invitation included a picture showing a baby holding a beer mug saying "my baby is turning 21".  I laughed when I received her invitation.  Our eldest daughter-in-law turns 40 on July 7th, Sister #6 has a birthday on July 6th and Sister #4 will have her daughter's graduation party on July 30th.   Family gatherings to look forward to and enjoy.  July looks to be a very enjoyable month.

 

Bridget

We have always been known as the 6 Roman Girls.   Growing up, we had to rely on each other for companionship because there were no other kids  to play with.  We were each other's playmates, confidants, instigators, conspirators.  Yes, some of us would join forces to come up with ways to tease another sister.  That happened often with interesting results.  You'll have to ask Pat about the time she made the special cookie for Andrea.   As can be expected we also often disagreed and would argue which sometimes lead to actual physical fights.

Through the years Andrea and I have often laughed about one fight in particular.  We never remembered what the fight was about but we both never forgot what happened.  We were both really angry and it ended when she charged me pushing me into and then through the wall.  So there I am with my butt stuck in the sheetrock not able to move.  We were both stunned at first and then we both started laughing so hard, fight forgotten, because I couldn't get out of the wall.  She took my hands and pulled me out of the wall.  We immediately stopped laughing when we saw what we had done.  I was sometimes called "spider legs" when I was a child because I was tall, skinny, and all legs and arms.  However, my skinny butt managed to make a pretty big hole in that wall and to make matters worse, the room was our parents' bedroom.  We both knew we were in for it when Mom and Dad got home so we worked together to fix what we had done.  We re-arranged the room moving their dresser in front of the hole and luckily the mirror covered it nicely.  Not wanting to raise any questions about why we cleaned their room we worked together to clean our bedroom and accepted Mom's praise for taking the iniative to clean on our own.  None of our other sisters told on us either.  Dad discovered the hole a few years later, asked what happened, we told him, he just shook his head and repaired the wall.  

That is how it is with my sisters.  We will argue, disagree with each other, even speak harsh words to each other but we never stay upset with each other because we love each other so much.  

While Andrea lived life to the fullest her life was not always an easy life.  Having to learn how to deal with a life long illness occuring before she even had the chance to graduate from high school affected not only her but her family.  Such a young age to have to deal with so much.  Through the years some of the choices she made, in part because of her illness, added to her struggles.  I admit I never fully understood how difficult it was for her because I was thinking about how it affected me and the rest of the family.  It wasn't until I was older that I was able to recognize the ever present sadness in her eyes.  It was so damn frustrating not being able to fix things for her.   I finally understood she wasn't refusing to accept her illness she was refusing certain requirements that could  control her illness because she was afraid it would change who she was.  Pat was her rock, always there for her, never judging, solid in her love for Andrea and Andrea knew that.  Mom knew that too because just before she died she told Pat she was such a good sister to Andrea.  

My sister struggled with many disappointments, hurts and sorrow in her life and we saw how things started getting more difficult for her after Mom died.  She would often mention how lonley she felt.  Despite all that Andrea always lived her life thinking of others.  She loved greatly, she cared deeply; so much so that she could never say no to anyone who needed help, always putting others first.  She would be one of the first to arrive at a party and the last to leave because she had to help clean up.  She never waited to be asked but was always there for whoever needed her.  My sister wasn't perfect, none of us are, but she was a good, kind, loving person who helped so many people.  I am so proud of her, that she's my sister and I take some comfort in knowing she's not lonely anymore.  

She loved taking pictures and we've discovered her home is filled with a treasure of family photos she took through the years.  In fact we found about 30 or so rolls of film tucked away that need to be developed and I can't imagine the memories that are on those films.  Get-togethers, weddings, babies, family, the important things that make up life.  

Andrea was a very spiritual woman and she knew her Bible inside and out.  At one of our monthly sister meetings we came up with nicknames for each other and Andrea's was "Sister Christian."  She'd be very surprised, shocked really, to know that I start each day by reading a 3 minute devotional for women.  I believe God speaks to each of us, we just have to pay attention to hear what He's saying when He does.  The day after Andrea was admitted into the hospital I read that day's message which was titled "Witnesses".  As I read the first few paragraphs and tears started falling I knew in my heart the message was about Andrea.  I'd like to share it with you now.
    "A few days before she died, a godly woman was granted a view into heaven.  When asked what she saw, she said People.  Lots of people.  When asked what they were doing , she replied, They are waiting to welcome me.  Who are they, was the next question.  The woman started telling of family members who had gone on before.  Then she named several whom she'd led to the Lord during her lifetime.  Before long she stopped, tired of talking and awed by the number of people who were waiting for her arrival."

Now I know some of my sisters might be thinking Eyore, which was my nick name, is speaking, but from the moment that I read those paragraphs I knew with a certainty deep in my heart and soul what was waiting for Andrea.  I was listening and received His message and that helped me during the difficult days that followed.  

Andrea was not alone when she left us and she definitely wasn't alone when she went home.  I'm sure she was awed by the number of loving people waiting for her when she arrived.  We are and always will be the 6 Roman girls because we will always hold each other  close in our hearts despite what life brings us.  Good bye Andrea, I love you Little Sister.
    

    
 

Bridget

Many have asked the question "What is life"?  For the average person like me it's not jetting around the world in my private jet, or being driven in a fancy car by a personal driver.  It's not having my every move watched by paparazzi or being interviewed on television.  For the average person, like me, each day begins with sunrise and ends with sunset and includes the ups and downs of life, filled with the people encountered during those hours be they friends, family, co-workers or strangers.  Sometimes those days are happy and sometimes worry and stress make those days difficult.  All those moments between sunrise and sunset that is daily life.  It's the simple moments that are the best of life but they can be lost or overlooked by any difficulties that may occur.  I have been trying to ignore the difficult moments and pay more attention to the simple moments.  My family provide many, many simple moments to enjoy.

I hosted our monthly sister meeting on April 30th.  Sisters #3 and #5 couldn't make it because Sister #5's daughter needed help moving home from college for the summer and Sister #3 was just discharged from the hospital a few days earlier and still not feeling well.  Three sisters and Sister #2's daughter were able to make it though and we all had a nice time.

I dug through my old cookbooks and recipe box looking for a Quiche recipe I had received years ago from a former employer.  I'm not sure what made me think of it after all these years, more than 20 years in fact,  but it's what I wanted to make so I was determined to find that recipe.  It's a simple recipe but very tasty with brocolli and swiss cheese.  You can tweek this recipe by adding whatever else you would like so I went with chopped ham.  I served the quiche with a fruit salad, coffee and cold drinks and lunch was served.  

We played several rounds of our favorite dice games.  I lost everytime.  Then we switched to  a card game that showcases some of my sisters sore loser attitude.  I lost all hands as usual  but my real enjoyment comes from watching the mounting displeasure  displayed by those who don't like to lose.  Sister #2 became aggravated very quickly  each time she lost a hand and had no problem verbally displaying her unhappiness.  Since I was sitting at the table directly across from her I pretended to be a 2 year old in temper tantrum mode all pouty, scrunched up face and banging my fists on the table whinning "I want to win".  Message was received.

I came across a recipe for Canolli Cake and decided to let my sisters and niece be the first to try the cake.  Two of my sisters have never had canolli so it  was hilarious when they took their first taste and tried so hard not to show they didn't care for the cake.  "It's not the cake" Sister #4 said, "but the texture of the frosting".  I assured them my feelings would not be hurt if they didn't care for the flavor.  That's when Sister #4 told me she had never had a canolli before.  I explained that it's the combniation of ricotta cheese and refrigeration that makes the texture a bit grainey.  She took another taste and said it wasn't bad once you got used to the texture of the cheese filling/frosting.  

Little Roy will be 2 in July and I can't believe how quickly time is passing.  He has been "talking" for quite some time now and while we may not always understand what he's saying it makes you smile when every once in a while his words are very clear.  Of course, if he drops something or trips and falls, his "oh shit" is crystal clear.  He's obviously a very smart little boy as he always uses that phrase in it's proper context.  I have reminded my son that there is a particular word I do not ever want to hear Little Roy say, correct context or not.

He's coming into the"terrible two" stage where he'll go down on the floor, hold his head in his hands and cry.  You'll see him peak between his fingers to see if anyone is paying attention.  His older brothers don't like to see him cry so they'll often rush to comfort him.  I've explained to my older Roys that when he's having his "moment" they need to ignore his behavior because he'll only continue and as he gets older it won't be pretty.  They are very good older brothers to Little Roy playing with him and including him in their games when they are outside playing with friends or their other cousins.  I smile every time the grandchildren are at the house and I see them playing with their swords and nerf guns.  Little Roy tags along carrying a nerf gun that is as big as he is tall making his shooting sounds.  

Little Roy and Mom stopped in the other evening because Mom was looking for a piece of Canolli Cake.  Hubby told her she was too late because he finished the last piece.  I promised her I'd make another cake for her.  We have a spray bottle we use on our cat whenever he gets into something he shouldn't  or is just plain annoying.  Little Roy likes to play with the water bottle.  He quickly figured out how to pull the handle to spray water but it took him a bit of time to figure out that he should turn the nozzle away from his face when he sprays.  That night he went behind PaPa's chair and with a grin on his face snatched the bottle off the table by the chair.  He squatted, sprayed a spot on the area rug in the living room, moved on and continued to spray spots on the rug.  When Mom told him "no" and tried to take the bottle he quickly avoided her hand, said something to her and continued to spray the rug.  I realized he was spraying the flowers that are a part of the rug design.  Sure enough, he continued spraying more flowers on the rug before Mom was able to get the spray bottle away from him.  

Little Roy's older brother, Roy #3, was recently inducted into the Junior National Honor Society at the end of April.  I wasn't able to attend the ceremony because the stomach bug decided to make an unwelcome vist at that time.  Roy #1 made the Honor Roll this last marking period and I think maybe he was a bit surprised.  When I congratulated him and asked how he did it, Mom replied, "He managed to turn in his homework this marking period".   Roy #3 turned 13 the end of April and I was able to take him his little cupcakes and birthday card.  He assured me he's not getting too old for those little cupcakes.  I have 7 grandchildren.  Two call me Ma, two call me Grandma, two call me Mammy and Little Roy calls me BaBa.  I don't know where he came up with that name but it's strange because that's what I called my paternal Grandmother.  

On May 1st there was a knock and all we saw was a hand moving out of sight but no one was standing at the door.  When I got up to answer the door Hubby told me to wait and he slowly approached the door, dinner fork in hand, carefully opening the door.  There was no one there but when he look down at the floor there was a bouquet of flowers laying there.  There was no card with the flowers so we had no idea who had dropped them off.  It was a very pretty bouquet of spring flowers and they are still enjoyable.  That same afternoon Roy #1 and his brother were visiting their cousins next door and I mentioned the surprise gift of flowers.  As I'm telling him about the mysterious door knocker his smile turns into a big cheesy grin and I knew who the mystery person was.  He told me it was a May Day gift, his Mom's idea, and that they did the same thing for his Dad.  

I work with Sister #4 who has always called my husband CreamPuff.  It goes back to the days when we were dating and I worked at Dunkin Donuts.  My husband's favorite were the vanilla and chocolate cream filled donuts so Sis started calling him CreamPuff.  He stopped in at work the other day and was telling us how he was sitting on the back deck when a bird flying over pooped and it landed in his hair.  We all laughed and after a bit he went home.  When I came back from lunch there was a message taped to my phone.  Picking it up I the message read "Shithead called, call him back".  I looked at my sister and she started laughing.  "Your husband wants you to call him" she told me.  I called him back and of course I had to let him know about the message she left for me.  She suggested he not worry about washing the bird crapout of his hair, just let it dry and he could  simply brush it out.  He didn't agree with her.  

Our cat's water dish has a stream of running water that constantly runs through a filter.  Today I caught Little Roy on his hands and knees bent over and drinking from the cat's water dish. Evidently he satisfied his thirst because I had to add more water to the cat's dish.  Little moments between sunrise and sunset that make up daily life and leave you feeling loved and glad to be alive.

Bridget

Spring is approaching bringing longer, lighter days and a sense of renewal and hope after the long, dark days of winter.  My sisters and I have continued getting together for our monthly meetings but our gatherings through this past Fall and Winter have not been the same.  The October sister meeting changed something in each of us because of one of our sister's problems.  You see, at the age of 17 she was diagnosed with a mental illness.  This was not something she suffered alone because each of us were also affected by her illness through out the years and those experiences definitely helped shape us into the individuals we are today.  It has not been easy.  At our October meeting we became painfully aware that she was making matters much worse because of alcohol.  

We continued getting together through November and December, watching things for her fall apart, doing the best we could to help her get the help she desperately needed.  Worry was our constant companion through those months because we were all frightened about her drinking with the medications she has to take.  Never knowing when or if we might get that telephone call added to the worry we all shared.  Constant worry takes a toll on the spirit making dark days seem even darker.  My sisters and I have  learned the meaning of "tough love".  I had to make some difficult decisions that I struggled with and included accepting that I could not control or prevent what ever was going to happen.  All I could do was what I was able to do to help her and, of course, pray.  Her choices were her's to make but we did not and would not enable her to continue making those choices which usually led to angry and harsh words.   

Our sister meeting in January seemed a bit more like our usual meetings with conversation, games and some laughter.  Sister #6 hosted our February meeting and she decided to take everyone to the Olive Garden for lunch.  Afterwards, we all went to our niece's home for games and just being together.  February was our troubled sister's birthday so we surprised her with a cake and ice cream.  There were no harsh or angry words and she indicated she had stopped drinking.  I have to admit I was so hopeful because she seemed more like her old self.  As with her illness, though, she is very good at hiding things.  She has not stopped drinking but we have accepted that it's her life, her choices.  Ultimately she pays the highest price for what she does.  

I have always tried to focus on the happier,funnier stories about  my family.  Every family has it's good times and it's bad times and it is never easy sharing the not so good times.  I was not sure about sharing this story and I while I know there is no such thing as a perfect family this isn't something easily shared.  Mental illness is real and affects thousands of individuals and their families.  Drinking is a problem many families experience and worry about.  I've tried to write several family stories over these past months but this is the story that shouts at me to be written and shared. 

It's not easy letting go of worry and concern for someone you love but part of what makes humans special is that we have faith and hope that anything is possible.  God tells us to give Him our worries and troubles, to trust in Him.  I'll admit that I falter at times in that respect and give in to worry; but as surely as Spring arrives bringing renewal and growth, I will try with all my being to let the seeds of hope grow in my heart.  Hope that Sis will get her act together and if she doesn't, faith that God has things under control.

Bridget

The Snowflake

 

Our halls are decked with garland, lights and candles.  The Christmas tree stands proudly in the corner of our livingroom, its colored lights twinkling brightly and reflecting off the tinsel and ornaments hung with care.  Our first real Christmas tree in over 10 years.  The gifts are wrapped and ready to be placed under the tree.  Christmas cards, each read with care, are hanging from the doorways.  Candy dishes are full, baking is done and the Christmas cookies and breads are ready to be offered to any who come to our home.  All the Hallmark Christmas movies have been watched much to my husband's dismay.  Yet something has been missing, you know the feeling you sometimes get that something is off but you can't put your finger on it, can't quite see what is off.

A couple of days ago my husband and I were talking about past Christmases when we were young and what we remembered.  His memories were full of family gatherings, music and song.  No fancy affairs, just family getting together, taking turns through the years hosting the Holiday fun.   I shared how an Aunt and Uncle, one of my Dad's brothers, would come to the house every Christmas Eve with a beautifully wrapped present for each of us; a pair of pajamas.  I remembered how excited I would be because to me the pajamas were always so beautiful and each of us always received a different pair of pajama's.  I remembered how the pajamas were always decorated with lace somewhere.    Looking back I can see the care that was given to each gift.  I realized I couldn't remember a single Christmas with my grandparents, Nanny and PaPa.  I remembered the Christmas when my sister and I saw Santa and I remembered another Christmas when my sisters and I received a kitchen set complete with pots and pans and dishes.  "Probably none of my sisters would remember that kitchen set" I told my husband.  At that moment the phone rang and I answered Sister #4's call.  When she asked what I was doing I told her we were sharing Christmas  memories from when we were kids.  I asked her if she remembered the year we received the kitchen set.  "It was pink cardboard" she said.  "You remembered" I answered, excited for some reason I didn't undertand.  We spoke of how we would play for hours in a closet off our parents bedroom where the kitchen had been set up.   When I asked about Christmas at our Grandparents she couldn't remember either.  

Our anniversary was yesterday and my husband surprised me with a snowflake bracelet.  "I didn't shop at Jared's" he told me.  "I don't need Jared's" I answered, holding his gift in my hands as a few tears fell.    All that day I kept looking at his gift, a simple, beautiful snowflake.  The designer's card in the box read unique/wonder/perfection something that is true of each snowflake that falls during the winter and, I realized, each individual.   Another card read "Love is the thread, the common bond we all share....." and I've come to realize what's been off, what that "something" is that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  

Somehow I had lost my sense of wonder at the beauty of life that's present everywhere if you only take the time to look,  but especially at this time of year.  I'd lost my ability to feel the magic of the season, a feeling I've always kept in my heart throughout the year.  I stopped believing that I'm unique, the one and only me, and special to my family.   As for perfection, what is more perfect than knowing God loves you so much that he sent His only Son to be born.  To live as we do, day to day with life's ups and downs.  I'd forgotten that nothing could be more perfect than to be surrounded by people you love and who love you.  Love is the reason for Christmas and I've come to realize that what was "off" was me.  I had let worries and fears of things I can't control darken the light and steal my joy.  I worried too much about what I couldn't remember instead of taking pleasure in the here and now.    

Today is Christmas Eve and I'll soon be busy preparing the oyster stew for my husband and his brother, a tradition they grew up with.  I'll also prepare the mushroom chowder I only make on Christmas Eve since I won't be sharing their oyster stew.   My sister-in-law also enjoys my chowder.  I know that Christmas Day will be full of excitement, laughter and noise, lots of noise.  I'll be wearing my snowflake bracelet so I don't let myself forget again about the uniqueness of each individual, the wonder of life, and how perfect love is.

Merry Christmas

Bridget

Revenge Is For The Birds

This story was previously posted in "NewsFromTown"  about two years ago.  Looking back I realize some things were funny and some were not so nice.  Someday I'll have to tell the story of how Sister #4 and Sister #5 convinced our youngest sister she was a Beagle.  This, however, is one of the funny stories.

 

It was chicken butchering day at our house and I still cringe whenever ever I think about it.  We knew what was coming when we saw Dad put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Dad would bring the dead chickens into the kitchen to finish the process.  The kitchen table would be covered and we'd sit at it to pluck the feathers off the birds after he dipped them in the boiling water.  He'd hold the birds over a low flame on the stove to burn off any pin feathers.   I can still smell the wet, burnt feathers....yuck.  The rule was that if you didn't help pluck you didn't eat chicken and all of us would take turns opting out of eating chicken.

     

This particular day Sister #4 opted out of eating chicken so she stayed in the bedroom sleeping.  Sister #3 (eater of the poo cookie as told in Sugar and Spice and Not Always Nice) wasn't happy that she was cleaning birds and Sister #4 wasn't.  She took a severed chicken head, snuck into the bedroom and placed it so it was hanging by the beak off Sister #4's bottom lip while making clucking sounds.  That woke Sister #4 who started yelling and spouting some bad language.  She swatted the chicken head away and covered her head with the blanket so no more chicken parts could be shoved in her face.  Hearing the commotion Mom went to check it out.  She tried to pull the blanket off Sister #4 to see what was wrong with her.  Thinking it was Sister #3 Sister #4 started swinging her fists and connected with a face.  She quickly and unhappily discovered it was Mom and not Sister #3.  Mom's temper quickly hit the boiling point and she started yelling at them getting both of my sisters’ attention.  I don't remember what their punishment was but I do remember the smug look on Sister #3's face each time she looked at Sister #4 and said “cluck, cluck”.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

              

 

 

 

 

Bridget

This Halloween we received a visit from two Trick or Treaters.  A Storm Trooper and a Soul Sucker; at least that's what I think he was since he told his Grandfather not to worry, he wouldn't suck his soul.  He was dressed all in black with a very n spooky looking green face.  If not a Soul Sucker he was definitely some type of ghoul.  Sadly, after an hour and a half I turned off our porch light since it didn't appear we were going to be visited by any other creatures this Halloween.

I can remember years past when plenty of ghosts, witches, vampires, mummies, princesses and zombies would knock on our door.  One year in particular stands out for me when we were visited by a 1950's teenage girl or so I thought.    I answered another knock on the door and there were at least 10 Trick or Teaters standing on the porch with some on the stairs waiting their turn.  Standing back from the porch stairs was a tall, blonde haired girl wearing the tight sweater, neck scarf, poodle skirt, ankle socks and saddle shoes of a 1950's teenager.  As the younger kids received their treats and left she slowly made her way up the stairs.  I sensed her reluctance and wasn't sure why.  As she came onto the porch and into the light I could see the effort taken with her makeup.  Blonde wig, bright cherry red lipstick, foundation, rouge and even false eyelashes all true 1950's style.  It was when I noticed that one of her....headlights was on high beam and the other on low beam that I realized the 1950's teenage girl was a 15-16 year old male.  He had done such a great job with his costume and makeup that I couldn't help but laugh, especially when I noticed he hadn't shaved his legs.
"Trick or Treat" he said, his hesitation evident as he slowly held out his bag.  Grinning, I dropped a couple of candy bars into his bag.  "I love your costume and your make up is really good" I told him.
"My Mom helped me" he said, relaxing a bit.  
"Are you alone" I asked him.
"I'm with my little sister" he told me pointing to a little Witch waiting at the bottom of the stairs.
"Well I really like your costume, I actually thought you were a girl".  I was trying to think of a way to let him know that part of his costume needed a bit of a lift.  Chuckling, I finally just pointed at the low side and lifted my cupped hands up and down.  He looked down, saw the droop and laughed as he made the necessary adjustment.  
 
The sad part was when he thanked me for being so nice.  Evidently, when he had stopped at a couple of houses with his little sister he was taken to task for being too old to be Trick or Treating.  I remember telling him not to worry about it.  Those people were the ones too old to appreciate the spirit of the holiday.  "Happy Halloween" I told him.  He thanked me again, took his little sister's hand and continued on to the next house.

While I'm disappointed that there were no goblins or ghoulies this year I have plenty of past Halloweens to remember plus there's always next year.  Happy Halloween.

Bridget

I hosted our September sister meeting and it didn't go well.  October's sister meeting did not go well either.  It wasn't because of our usual funny game playing disagreements but because of a long standing problem the family has had to deal with concerning a sister's illness.  Forty-one years of dealing to be exact that has left us feeling a variety of emotions from love and concern to anger, frustration and resentment.

At the age of 18 one of my sisters was diagnosed with a mental illness. Throughout the years she has been hospitalized many times but the biggest problem is that she has never been compliant when it comes to medication because she has always refused to accept her illness.   While she has been able to go  periods of time without any problems we have all come to recognize the signs when her illness is rearing it's ugly head. Ususally one sister in particular would be the one to step in and be able to get our sister take her medication until her illness was under control.  That hasn't been working lately.

During the September get together we received a phone call advising that our sister was hiding in a basement.  Three family members left to go get her.  She was hospitalized but released after 72 hours.  Four days later we were able to get her admitted again with the help of Crisis.  Even though two Doctors signed papers commiting her she was again released after 4 days.

What makes this situation worse is that my sister is drinking and has been for quite some time now.  She had been drinking when she came to our October sister get together and when it was suggested that she have some coffee and eat something to help her sober up things exploded.  It was so very ugly and left most of us numb with shock.    She made one statement, that for me, clarified things.  "I drink because I want to and I can.  It's my life and I'll do what I want".  I realized in that moment that she's absolutely correct.  It is her life and if she's not willing to do what she needs to do to stay healthy there is nothing I can do.  I finally realized that my life is also mine to live as I want and I no longer have to stand by and watch while she destroys herself.  I've been on the roller coaster of emotions as a result of her illness for 41 years and I'm ready to stop riding that roller coaster now.  I love my sister very much but I now understand that if I can't change or control what she does or doesn't do I have to let go.  Her illness and drinking doesn't take away her accountability for the decisions she makes.  

We have called everyone we can think of to try and get help but nothing seems to work.  My sisters and I know that if she continues traveling the path she's on it's going to end badly.  What really hurts is that she refuses to see how her decisions affect her sisters and ultimately their families.  She was never the only one who suffered because of her illness.  Certainly I have doubts.  Am I abandoning my sister by doing what's best for me at this point in my life?  If it's the right decision why do I feel guilty?  I acknowledge that I'm an expert at feeling guilty; guilt was the invisible member of our family while we were growing up.

Every family has it's stories; some are good stories and some stories are not so happy.  I have tried to focus on the good stories, the kind of stories that, while something was happening it was just life, but when you look back you realize how funny it was and you wonder how you managed to survive your childhood.  There were and still are many stories that are not so funny and I don't talk about those things.  I've shared this story because mental illness is such a major problem today that affects so many individuals and their families and the consequences can sometimes be deadly.  

Right or wrong, at this point in time I have to step back for my own sake,  take one day at a time and continue to pray.

Bridget

We've been very busy at work and the other day we had a Hearing requiring the services of a Stenographer.  As she was setting up her equipment I noticed that her screen saver was a picture of a dog.  "Nice screen saver" I tell her.  She pulls the picture back up and looks at me with a smile.  "Thank you, that's my baby" she tells me.  "I know how you feel.  My husband's screen saver is also a picture of our dog.  You'd think it would be me, but nope, it's the dog".  Everyone in the room thought that was funny.  I laughed too because after 40 plus years of marriage you learn what's worth getting upset over and what's not worth a second thought.

That evening as we were getting ready for bed I could  see that the dog had been on the bed, again, and I mentioned it to Hubby.  "I wish you would train her to stay off the bed" I told him.  "I don't know what to do", he told me, "that's where she goes whenever I leave the house.  When I came home today the cat met me at the door not Lady.  She came running down the stairs when she heard me come in".  "It's probably comforting for her", I told him, "She's getting our scent on the bed".  Hubby starts chuckling and I know this is going to be good.  "You know, in the mornings when you turn on the hall light and call up that coffee's ready she comes running upstairs and jumps up on your side of the bed.  She'll start rolling around, you know, like dogs do when they find something nasty and like to roll around in it".  My loving husband actually said that to me using the word nasty in the same sentence when talking about me.  Yep, I'd say there's still plenty of romance left in this marriage.

 

Bridget

Until the year I was 10 we lived in Elmira on the eastside and the neighborhoods during the late 1950's and early 1960's were exactly like what you see on television shows about that era.  Neighborhood kids would head out in the morning and play all day and everyone knew that when the street lights came on it was time to head home.  Growing up with five sisters can be great fun but there are times when, of course, we would not always get along so it helped that each of us also had friends to play with in addition to our siblings.  

Some friendships have their beginnings in early childhood and will last through the years and I was lucky enough to have such a friend.  She lived two houses down from ours and we were best friends.  I was tall for my age, a skinny blue eyed blonde, all legs and arms and Mags was shorter with dark curly hair and big brown eyes.  Her name was actually Margaret after her maternal Grandmother but she didn't like to be called that so she was Mags.  I remember how on really humid days her curls would tighten up and I would sometimes gently pull on one of her curls just to watch it bounce back into a ringlet type curl.  My Mom would sometimes use rags to curl my hair so I could have ringlets just like my friend Mags.  We shared everything.  If one of us had a candy bar the other received half.  We shared toys, clothes, dreams; everything little girls do with their best friend.   

At that time most Moms were stay at home Moms who at worked at home taking care of their family.  Two income families were not common and the Dads were the ones who supported their families.  There were times, though, that weren't so good for her and her siblings because sometimes her Dad would go out on the weekend and come home drunk.  Whenever that happened Mags wouldn't feel much like playing the next day.  She wouldn't say anything, she'd just be real quiet so we'd sit together on the front steps of her house until she was ready to do something.  We kids usually knew when her Dad had been out because we'd hear our parents talking about the Police being at their house;  that wasn't something you could hide from the neighbors.  It didn't happen every weekend but the Police would end up coming to her house off and on whenever her Dad had been drinking.   

We eventually moved out of the city but Mags and I continued to be friends because we still went to the same grade school, Junior High and then High School.  Once we reached High School we didn't get to spend as much time together because we didn't share too many of the same classes.  In our Junior year I remember asking her if she was going to the Prom.  She said no because she wasn't allowed to date.  She kind of smiled and said she was into a really good book anyway and wasn't worried about Proms.  Mags never went anywhere without a book.   Looking back I realize now that that was how she coped; her books were her escape.  I remembered how at times Mags would become quiet and I could see her withdrawing and pulling away, kind of like when we'd sit together on her front steps.  She never really  smiled or laughed much and when she did it never quite reached her eyes.  I was a typical teenager, too absorbed in other things to really pay attention and looking back I can see I should have been a better friend to Mags.  In fairness to myself, whenever I did ask her if anything was wrong she'd always say everything was fine.  After graduation she went away to college and eventually settled in Texas.  We both married, raised families and kept in touch by occasional letters and phone calls and still do to to this day.  

I spoke to her just last week calling to wish her a Happy Birthday and I could hear something in her voice.  I asked her how she was doing and was very surprised when, instead of answering with her usual "everything was fine", she admitted to me that she wasn't doing so well.  She told me how, in her mind, she had locked away all those childhood memories and hurts into little drawers and for some reason now, the drawers keep opening and all those buried memories and hurts from long ago are out.  She said she was having a hard time dealing with the feelings and that she couldn't "get the damn things back into the drawers where they belonged".  She thought maybe it was a late mid-life crisis because she couldn't understand why now, at this point in her life, this was happening.  

I asked her if she had considered talking to a counselor.  She told me that in her head she understands that her parents loved her and did the best they could with what they had.  "There were no Dr Phils or Oprahs back then" she said.  "It was what it was and it's in the past and over with".  She told me it's her aching heart that won't let her forget.  I reminded her that it helps to talk to someone and asked if she had shared things with her family and she told me no. Her husband and kids know Grandma and Grandpa as they are today and why should she ruin that for them.  She said this was her baggage to deal with not theirs. 

"Pretend we're back sitting on your porch steps Mags, I'll listen" I told her.  She was quiet for a few moments and then she started talking.  She told me about the times her Dad would come home after being out drinking, come up stairs and pull her and her siblings from their beds making them go downstairs to the living room.  He would line them up and tell them they had to do squats; hands on hips, squat, stand up straight, squat, stand up, squat.  She said that if you cried you had to do the squats longer so she wouldn't cry.  Sometimes one of her younger siblings wouldn't  be able to get up and her Dad would yell and make them continue doing the squats.  Her Mom would try and stop him and sometimes he'd hit her Mom.  The Police would eventually come and take him away. She told me about other times, standing at the top of the stairs and watching as her Dad and three or four Police Officers wrestled and fought going down the stairs.  Her Dad would be yelling, her Mom and siblings crying but Mags said she wouldn't cry, she just stood there and watched.  

 I remembered all those times Mags and I sat quietly on her front porch steps and wondered about what she never said and I wondered about all the years after.  The only thing I could think to say to her was that what she was feeling were little Mags's memories and hurts.  When she shut them away in her little drawers she never allowed herself to feel and express the hurt.  I shared a story of my own with her of how memories can affect you.  I told her about the morning my husband and I were listening to an instrumental music channel on the television when the song Goodnight Irene started playing and tears just started rolling down my face.  My husband asked me what was wrong and I said nothing while wiping at my eyes.  "Nothing doesn't make you cry" he said, "what's wrong"?  
"My grandfather used to sing that song to my grandmother when he was ready for bed" I told him.  "When I heard that song I could hear him singing to her and I wished they were here so I could hear him sing just one more time again".  

"Sometimes you just have to let yourself cry" I told her.  "Let little Mags cry, let teenage Mags cry, let older Mags cry and be pissed because she has a right to feel what she's feeling.  You have to let it out Mags so you can let it go, it's okay".  She admitted that lately, once in a while she does cry, shedding a few tears, but only when she's alone and never in front of any one.  "Crying is good" I told her, "but it helps to have someone to lean on, to share your feelings with.  Someone to hold you, comfort you and let you know you'll be alright".   
"It's not easy for me" she admitted.  "It's never been easy for me to open up to anyone. I learned at a very early age to keep quiet and hold things in. Now when I remember something and I feel angry about it or at Mom and Dad or whoever I feel guilty for feeling angry.  How wacked is that" she asked.  "As long as you haven't reached the Lizzie Borden stage I'd say you're not too wacked" I told her.  We both burst out laughing at the same time.  For the first time in a very long time I heard genuine laughter from Mags.  I also realized that my friend Mags was holding onto a lot of painful memories and sorrow; things she probably wasn't ready to talk about yet.  

"You have to trust someone Mags" I told her.   "I know" she said. There was a slight pause and then she whispered "I trust you".   "I'll always listen to you Mags, always" I told her, tears slowly making their way down my cheeks.  I wished I could reach through the telephone and wrap my arms around her and hug her tightly. 

We ended our conversation with me telling her to call whenever she felt the need to talk.  I know I'll be calling her more often now making sure she knows I'm there for her.  Sometimes all you can do is listen and just let yourself cry.  

Bridget

Sister Meeting 8/22/15

We had our sister meeting on Saturday, the 22nd at my niece's home.  It was decided to make our get together a surprise 60th birthday party for Sister #2 who will be 60 on August 26th.  She was surprised and gave her daughter THE LOOK.  "I told you I didn't want any party" she said with a grumpy scowl that very quickly turned into a big cheesy grin as she hugged her daughter.  I mean really, who doesn't like a surprise party.  It was nothing fancy, just a small family gathering with pizza, wings and cake. She happily agreed to wear a birthday tiara.  I mean what birthday girl wouldn't want to be Queen for a day and wear a beautiful glittering tiara; I even tried it on asking if I looked regal.  Sister #2 told us how she doesn't mind getting older because she's looking forward to retirement and the things she can do then but for some reason the number 60 is bothering her. "It's just a number" we told her.  

After everyone else left we got down to the actual sister meeting and while talking we started sharing  some memories from our childhood.  Sister #3 asked if we remembered when we were playing Cowboys and Indians and she was using the oil tank as her horse with a rope tied to a board for the bridle.  We remembered.  We also remembered how she slid off  the oil tank and somehow got the rope wrapped around her neck and was hanging there  unable to talk or loosen the rope around her neck. I remember grabbing her legs and holding her up as best as I could while everyone was screaming and one of the neighbor kids was smart enough to run and get our mother.  I was 8 or 9 at that time and she was three years younger.  She also reminded us about the time she was coming down the second story back porch stairs and somehow fell between one step and the next step getting stuck and hanging by her stomach.  That was another trip to the ER.  We laughed about that and the time she stuck her hand into the ringer part of the washing machine and how the rollers pulled her arm through up to her shoulder.  Sister #2 acted quickly and hit the release freeing her arm.  

Sister #2 remembered the time she was sitting on the front bumper of a car parked in front of our house and a male step-cousin grabbed her legs and pulled her off the bumper.  She fell hard hitting her bum on the curb but he received a good whooping from our Uncle for that.  She mentioned another when we were playing fort in the cellar way and same cousin decided to to throw a brick hitting her in the head.  I told her I remembered how there seemed to be blood everywhere.  A trip to the ER and several stitches later she was good to go.  That same step-cousin eventually got his just reward from me.  Sister #3 reminded us about how he had a habit of always trying to kiss me. Yuck.  I remembered how I couldn't stand it, or him to be honest.  One day when we were visiting my Aunt and Uncle he tried kissing me again and everyone else thought it was just sooo funny.  I was not amused.   I ran from him and slipped into a room knowing he would follow me.  As I heard him come up to the door, which swung out to open, I pushed the door open and right into his face.  I heard a very satisfying "thump/splat" and a loud groan as the door connected with his face; I'm smiling as I remember that satisfying sound.  I was really angry at the time so I put some muscle into pushing the door open at him.  I can't remember if I broke his nose but I do remember there was plenty of blood coming from his nose and mouth which swelled up almost immediately.  He never bothered me again. I think I was 12 or 13 at the time.  

Sister #3 reminded us about the time she thought she was throwing her wet clothes over the wire clothes line.  She was standing in water at the time but it was an electric fence not the clothes line she threw her clothes onto.  She went flying on her bum.  We all laughed about playing tug of war in the quicksand behind our house.  It was actually just very wet and muddy because there was a spring in the field above the house but to us it was quicksand.  The losers would ended up standing in mud up to their knees.  Sometimes with just a little bit of help someone would go face down into the mud.  

We all remembered playing Tarzan the day we moved into the house that was to become our final home in the country. There was and still is a huge Hickory tree in the field above the house.  It had a rope hanging from a large branch perfect for swinging.  The fact that there was an old engine on the ground beneath the tree didn't stop us from taking turns swinging on that rope.  We were all having a great time until I lost my grip and fell, landing on the engine and putting a spark plug through my knee cap.  I didn't mind because after my trip to the ER I was able to spend a week or so with my Grandmother.  Win Win as far as 10 year old me was concerned because I wasn't thrilled about the move anyway.  

Sister #3 brought up the time Sister #6 talked her into riding our Uncle's Percheron knowing that as soon as she let go the horse would run for the barn.  Sister #3 climbed onto the huge horse and as soon as Sister #6  let go the horse took off at a gallop for the barn.  Sister #3 struggled to stay on the horse yelling and screaming.  She did listen when Sister #6 yelled "duck" as the horse approached the barn.  The horse came to an immediate stop inside the barn and Sister #3 when flying over the horse's head landing hard on the barn floor.  Looking back it really is a wonder any of us managed to survive childhood. 

We played three hands of a dice game Left, Right, Center and Sister #3 was the lucky one of the day winning all three games and netting about $18.00. What was funny was that for some reason I kept confusing my right with my left when I had to pass quarters to the sister on either side of me.  My niece actually put tape on my hands and with black marker wrote "right" and "left" on the tape.   It worked.

Sister #4 wasn't able to make this sister meeting due to a prior commitment.  She was missed but Saturday was still a nice day spent with family sharing laughter and memories and hopefully making new memories.  It really doesn't get any better than that.

Bridget

Kenny Rogers has an old song about “knowing when to hold em, when to fold em, when to walk away and when to run....”.  Many years ago there was a young woman who learned that the time had come to fold and walk away.

Sister #4 was married for a brief period of time during the early 1980's when she was a sweet young thing in her early 20's.  That is an age when some individuals believe they know everything, are invincible and sometimes leap before they think.  Speaking from almost 43 years of marriage, to me, 4 years is a very brief  period of time but for her it was probably 4 years too long.  She was young and not quite as wise as she is today so it took a bit of time for her to realize he wasn’t going to be a keeper.

My former brother-in-law was a real piece of work; picture Howard Wolowitz from the television show Big Bang Theory but without the good looks and intelligence.  Have you ever met someone for the first time and you just don’t have a good feeling about them?  That’s how it was with him for me and I don’t believe there was anyone in the family that really cared for him....well, maybe Mom was the exception, but she tended to always look for the good in others.  He was married to my sister so that made him family and he was always treated the same as every other family member despite any misgiving some may have had.  During her marriage my sister never revealed all that was happening between them but afterwards, and to this day, once in a while she’ll come out with a few “gems”.  Today was one of those days when she shared a gem that made me laugh.

Evidently he had aspirations of being a ladies man because at the point where she was ready to give him the old heave ho she found out that he had a couple of girlfriends on the side.  Since she was more than ready to cut him loose she didn’t care about that but being who she was, she still wanted to make things as difficult as possible for him.  She told me how she took a black magic marker and wrote MY WIFE on the bottom of one of his shoes and HATES ME on the bottom of the other shoe.  You see, she knew how he always sat with his legs crossed and what would be visible on the bottoms of his shoes.

It worked because Sis soon received a phone call from a young lady.  The conversation when something like this:
“Hello” (Sis answering her phone)
“Are you really his wife” female voice asked.
“Got my message did you” Sis answered.  “I’m his wife and have been for 4 years”.
“How do I know you’re not lying” she asked.
“Because if you really knew him you’d know that’s what he does best.  Look, I’m on my way out but I wanted to let you know that he’s been bugging me to come back.  Please keep him.  I don’t want him anymore” Sis told her.
“Well I don’t want him, he lied to me” the upset young lady replied.
“Don’t worry” Sis said, “he has a couple of other lady friends he can go to”.  The girlfriend hung up on her.

She did, eventually, rid herself of him but he did not go gently into the night.  Her divorce became final while he was away for several years visiting  a State Iron Bar Motel.

We all like stories that have a happy ending and this story has it’s happy ending.  Serendipity steps in at this point proving something good can come out of something bad.  If Sister #4 hadn’t married him she wouldn’t have been living where she was thereby allowing her to meet the man who would eventually become her husband.  30 plus years later they are still together and still happily married.  She quickly realized this man was a keeper.

Bridget

July 3rd was Little Roy's first birthday and I'm amazed at how quickly time has flown since the day of his birth.  As we do with all our grandchildren, Grandma and Papa visited the birthday boy on his actual birthday bringing his miniature cupcakes and gift.  I was able to find the little cupcakes with red, white and blue frosting and couldn't wait to give them to him.  His family was just finishing dinner when we stopped in so Little Roy was already in his chair at the table.  Mom, Dad, brothers, Grandma and Papa gathered around him to sing Happy Birthday and he promptly started to cry.  It's funny that he stopped crying as soon as we finished singing.  I know our singing wasn't comparable to the Vienna Boys Choir but we weren't that bad.

Cameras ready, I opened the cupcake package and handed him a cupcake covered with blue frosting.  At first he wasn't too sure about it so he poked at it with his finger.  Finger then went to his  mouth and that was all it took.  He smiled, jabbered something,  and then happily ate his little cupcake.  Looking to Mom for the okay I gave him a red frosted cupcake next and he readily ate that, mixing red frosting into the blue frosting already covering his face.  I was a careful Grandma so when I got the okay from Mom I only gave him half the white frosted little cupcake.  I didn't quite get the red, white and blue effect I was hoping for but I did get some wonderful pictures.  After Mom cleaned him up it was down on the floor to play.  I was sitting on the stairs to keep him from climbing up them when all of a sudden he started giggling like crazy and started crawling around in a circle like a puppy chasing his tail.  "Looks like the sugar rush has kicked in" his Dad said while we were all laughing.  The more we laughed the more he giggled and continued crawling in a circle.  I have never seen anything like that and wished we were able to video record him; it would have definitely been a winner on America's Funniest Home Videos.  The next day Mom and Dad hosted his birthday party for the entire family.  When it came time for his cake and  everyone started singing Happy Birthday he immediately started crying and again stopped when the song ended.  It would appear that Little Roy doesn't like that song.  

My Little Roy has a smile that grabs you right in the heart.  His entire face lights up and he gets this look in his eye that says "look out world".  He's a very busy little boy; constantly on the go and so curious about everything.  I believe he's always asking "what's that" because that's what it sounds like as he points at whatever has his interest.  He understands what no means and I love how he'll drop his head down for a few seconds after being  told no and then look at you over his shoulder with a little grin that says "do you really mean that"?   He jabbers a lot and looks at you like you're supposed to understand what he's saying because he knows what he's talking about.  It's easy to understand him when he tells you "no, no, no" while shaking his finger at you.  I look forward to our conversations because I have the feeling he's going to have plenty to say, just like his Uncle Chris when he started talking.  I remember one time I was visiting and he looked at me, smiled and pointed at the door letting Grandma know it was  time for her to go home.  "I can take a hint" I told him laughing as he waived at me while I walked out the door.  Yep, he'll have plenty to say.  

His favorite toy from the time he was old enough to hold things is an orange rubber hammer that his Dad and Uncles played with many years ago.  It pleases me to see our youngest grandchild playing with the toys I saved from when my boys were little.  I smile whenever I hear one of my older Roys say "I remember that".  I'm hoping that someday our great-grandchildren will play with those same toys.  They will be stored safely away in the attic for when that day comes.  At work we have snacks like pretzels and animal crackers that come in large plastic containers.  I brought  a couple of the the empty containers home to use to store larger amounts of flour, sugar, and such.  One day I had an empty one on the floor in the kitchen  and Little Roy began playing with it, pushing it around the floor.  That is now his toy box where he keeps his favorite toys, including the orange hammer.  He likes taking the toys out and putting them back into the container.  He may think it's a game but Little Roy is learning to pick up his toys when he's done playing with them.

 Mom and Little Roy stopped in for a visit last night and she told us how she found him standing in front of the open refridgerator munching on an apple.  Some how, some way,  he managed to open the refrigerator and pull open the drawer where the fruit was stored and got his apple.  I'm not sure how he managed that but I know I'll be keeping a better eye on him when he's in my kitchen. I've seen him stand at my refridgerator with his little hand reaching for the handle.  I told his Mom to be prepared because he's going to keep her on her toes.  Did I mention that he's walking now?  

Sister #6 hosted our monthly sister meeting on July 25th.  There were no card or dice games this time.  Much to everyone's surprise she did a Christmas in July theme and everyone was giggling like little kids when she brought out gifts wrapped in Christmas paper.  She wanted to do a Chinese Auction; pick a gift and the next person can either pick a gift or take a gift from someone whe has already opened something.  Sister #5 picked a package and was pleasantly surprised to find it was a soup pot.  "Don't any of you bit**'s think of taking my pot" she said with a laugh while holding tightly to her gift, "I need a new one".  She later opened  a gift of red kitchen towels that she said weren't up for taking either.  Cook books, kitchen utensils, yard decoratons; little things that lightened everyone's mood and created smiles.  There was much laughter and teasing, especially when Sister #6 admitted that while she bought a couple of the gifts, many came from Sister #2's collection of "free" gifts from Publisher's Clearing House when you subscribe to something.  Based on the number of gifts we unwrapped I'm thinking Sister #2 should start throwing those mailings away.  

 

Bridget

In my work I deal with dates and schedules so for me time passes so quickly.  It's surprising to realize that with the arrival of June we have reached the half way mark for the year already.  Aging probably has something to do with how quickly time is passing because I've definitely noticed that as I get older the days pass by more quickly.

June 10th was a particularly busy and stressful day at work and I was very happy to have the work day end because our grandson, Roy #2,  had his year end concert at school that evening.  He's been taking violin lessons the last three years or so, ever since he learned his Papa was teaching himself to play the violin.  When his Dad told me about the concert he mentioned this might be Roy's last concert.  It seems practicing has gradually become his least favorite thing to do after school.  His Papa talked to him about giving up the violin and told him playing should be for his pleasure.  If he's not feeling the music and the joy of playing in his heart it's okay to stop.  Playing is something he should do for himself not because he thinks giving it up might disappoint someone else.

We met our youngest son and family at the school auditorium and I ended up sitting between my son and husband.  A rose between two thorns as it turned out later.  After greeting everyone and getting a hug from our grand-daughter, Roy #6, I sat quietly letting the stress of the day drain away.  My husband and son were talking so I thought I'd just close my eyes for a few moments.  The voices of my family, the sounds of people around us was relaxing and I could feel the days tension fading.  The next thing I'm aware of is my husband touching my hand.  
"You missed the concert" he told me, "you slept through the whole thing".  My eyes opened slowly and I'll admit to feeling a bit dazed.  I couldn't believe I had slept through the entire concert.  Looking around, I saw people standing as if to leave.  
"Why didn't you wake me" I asked my husband, absolutely believing him because I could feel drool running down both sides of my mouth.  As I wiped the drool away my son starts laughing and my husband joins him.  
"The concert is about to start.  I'm sorry but I couldn't resist, you fell asleep so fast" he tells me  while squeezing my hand. 
"I didn't snore did I"?  
"No" they both assured me as Hubby continued to  hold my hand.  He probably thought that was the best way to make sure my hand stayed in my lap and didn't stray in his direction.  
"Messing with Mom isn't nice" I told them and then settled in to enjoy the entire concert.  It was wonderful.

Sister #5 hosted our monthly sister meeting on June 13th.  She went with a picnic theme because June heralds the start of summer.  A red checkered table cloth covered the dining room table.  She decorated mason jars with butterflys and flowers and a small black oval blackboard so everyone could write their name on their jar with chalk.  She served picnic foods like hot dogs, salad, chips and lemonade.  I watch The Kitchen on the Food Network and was able to show her a new way to cut the watermelon that I had seen on the show.  Cut the watermelon in half, then with the cut side down and using a sharp knife you cut through the half about 2 inches apart, turn the melon around and cut again.  You end up with watermelon squares that you just pull out and eat.   Sis really liked the idea since it was much neater to eat but I told her she needed to get a much sharper knife.  

Everyone shared what had been happening in their lives since our last monthly get together and then it was game time.  We played a dice game called Farkle but after 2 games I stopped playing and said I'd keep score.   Things got a bit testy at times during the games but that's nothing unusual for my sisters.    I was the first to leave but found out later I should have stayed longer because the fireworks started when my sisters continued playing and switched to card games.  Evidently things got very heated during a hand of Hearts.  I personally think they should always avoid that game because it tends to bring out the worst in some of my more competitive sisters.  While I was surprised at hearing how heated things became, I couldn't stop laughing when I was told what had happened.  Let's just say that one of my sisters  could answer to the the nickname of "Slugger".  I was assured the evening ended with no hard feelings and hugs were shared by everyone.   

Our eldest grandson, Roy #1, turned 13 this June.  It seems like just yesterday I held this beautiful little baby in my arms and now he's growing so tall he can look me directly in the eyes.  Too soon I'll be looking up at him.  His birthday party was held June 20th and it was immediate family, cousins and some friends in attendance.  His mother's brother, Uncle Z. brought water guns this year and the kids had a grand time.  Home made ice cream cake was served and then it was time to open gifts.  On the actual birthday, Papa and I always visit the birthday child with those small cupcakes and their birthday gift of cash from us.  This is something we started doing on the first birthday and continue to this day.  I dread the day when one of my Roys tells me that they're too old for those little cupcakes.  The day of his actual birthday Roy #1 had mentioned to me that he was saving his money to buy a new tablet and he almost had enough money saved.  The surprise and absolute joy on his face when he opened Uncle Z's gift of a new tablet was something to see.  It was a gift he truly had not expected.   In his excitement, Roy #1 announced in front of everyone, including his Dad's brothers, that Uncle Z. was his favorite uncle.  Immediately realizing what he'd said and after removing foot from mouth, he stumbled through an explanation that all his uncles were his favorites.  After some teasing and laughter, the uncles let him off the hook.  I do believe he enjoyed his 13th birthday.

June is almost over but on the 25th I will start annoying my family with reminders that Christmas is just six months away.  I'll continue with my Christmas countdown over the next few months, and as always, at some point our eldest daughter-in-law will again tell me I'm a sick, sick woman.  She doesn't know that the Christmas Wreath for my office from last December still hangs in the window, still green and every once in a while we catch that wonderful scent of pine.   So I'll just smile and agree with her.  

 

Bridget

Our Saturday morning started out with hubby and I having to get blood work done at Arnot. I received my third reminder from the Doctor in Thursday's mail so I figured it was probably a good idea to get it done. I had to laugh when I saw the sign that said to turn your cell phone off while getting blood drawn; the waiting area was full of individuals busily scrolling through their phones. I wonder how many would look up long enough to even see that sign. After fasting 12 plus hours we both were ready for our morning cup of coffee. One of my favorite foods is broccoli so it was breakfast at Curley's because they have a Broccoli Scramble featuring, of course, broccoli. I'll have to remember to tell my Roys that Grandma sometimes has broccoli for breakfast.

I had a sister meeting in the afternoon so when we returned home it was time for some housework and then a short break on the back deck to enjoy the morning. Roy #5 saw me and came over for a visit pulling his chair up next to me.

"Grandma, do you have a dark side"?

"Yes, I have a dark side though I try to not let it show".

"I think everyone has a dark side" he tells me.

"You're probably right and it's just a matter of controlling your dark side" I tell him.

"I've never seen your dark side Grandma. I think the force is with you because you're good" he tells me. I'm still smiling because he thinks I'm good. I'll have to remember that Roy #5 says the force is with me the next time someone ticks me off.

Sister #4 hosted our monthly sister meeting and everyone was able to make it. We all caught up on what's been happening since our meeting last month. Sister #5 told us about the difficult week it's been for her family with her father-in-law being in the ICU and her mother-in-law having to be placed in an assisted living facility. Sister #3 seemed to be more like her old self. Sister #2 is having some issues with her hands and may be facing another surgery at some point in the future. After that it was game time and I have to say the force definitely wasn't with Sister #2 by the time she lost her third hand of cards. I told her that her dark side was showing when she told me to do something anatomically impossible after I caused her to lose the hand of cards we were playing. That was about the time Sister #4 brought out the Blackberry Brandy saying some of those gathered needed to relax. It worked.

Bridget

I wasn't sure what title to use for this collection of stories because for some reason these last several weeks have been a jumble of past memories mixing with the present. Forrest Gump said "life is like a box of chocolates...". Lately I've been feeling like most of mine are bittersweet when what I need to remember is the taste and flavor of the sweetness of life.

I haven't mentioned it but we had our monthly sister meetings in March and April. When you are close to someone, even though they may try to hide it, you know when something is wrong. We all felt it with Sister #3 and even though we all tried to find the pleasure we usually feel when we get together, it wasn't easy when we realized that she is still struggling with difficulties that we thought she had overcome. It hurts knowing there is nothing you can do, no magic wand to wave that will make things better. She is the only one who has control over what she does and only she has the ability to turn things around. All we can do is be there and offer our support and love, even tough love if necessary. Our next sister meeting is May 30th and we'll see how it goes.

May is a busy month for our family with seven birthdays, two anniversaries, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and other events to celebrate. May 8th was Grandparent's Day at Holy Family with Roy #4. Our first Grandparent's Day started when his brother, Roy #1, entered school at Holy Family and we have attended every year since. The day starts with the Church service and the symbolic crowning of Mary, mother of Jesus, with a crown of flowers. I can remember the same service celebrated each year on May 1st when I attended Sts. Peter and Paul School so many years ago. For me, the most enjoyable part of the church service at Holy Family is when the 6th grade class signs the Magnificat. The music, the words and seeing the children sign along with the words is so beautiful that I feel it in my soul and it always moves me to tears. Lunch is served for the Grandparents in the school gym and each class puts on a show of dance and song for those attending causing smiles and laughter. When my husband and I first attended it used to be songs from the 1940's and 1950's but this year the children included songs from the 1960'a and 1970's. I never really thought of myself as "old" until I heard the 4th, 5th and 6th grade chorus do a melody of Beatles songs. The students are able to leave early with their Grandparents and so it was off to Maple Lawn for an ice cream, a root beer float as usual for Roy #4. It was kind of bittersweet for me this year as I realized that there will be only one more Grandparent's Day next year because Roy #4 will be in 6th grade, his last year at Holy Family.

This year Mother's Day started with a brunch at Hill Top Inn with Son and daughter-in-law #2 and grandchildren. It's been two years since the last time we went and as always it was wonderful. When Roy #5 asked if the older gentleman playing music was alright his concern reminded me of something that had happened the last time we were there two years ago. At that time Roy #5 had to use the restroom so his older brother and I took a walk with him. As we approached the restroom area there was an elderly couple working their way towards the mens restroom. The wife was walking backwards holding her husband's hands as she led him forward very slowly. "Go ahead of us" she said, and Roy #5 did just that being careful not to bump into them. His older brother, Roy #3, asked me what was wrong and I told him the gentleman was elderly and probably recovering from a stroke. After watching for a few seconds more he walked up to the woman and asked if she needed help. "No dear, but thank you" she replied. By this point they were at the door to the restroom so Roy #3 moved behind her to open the door and held it for them. Ever so slowly she made it through the door with her husband, thanking my grandson for holding the door. Instead of leaving the room once they were inside he looked at me and closed the door staying with the couple. His younger brother and I waited in the hall and several minutes later I over heard a younger couple approaching and saw my daughter-in-law behind them. When the younger woman commented about where they could be I asked her if she was looking for the elderly couple. "Yes, that's my mother and father". I explained they were in the men's restroom and her husband went in to see if more help was needed. My daughter-in-law walked up to us wondering what had happened to the boys. "Just watch" I told her. The men's room door opened and again my grandson held the door. The elderly woman came out and her face was lit with a beautiful smile while her husband was being helped by his son-in-law. She told us that my grandson stayed with her, turning on the water, handing them paper towels, doing anything he could to help them. As the elderly gentleman walked slowly towards us my Roy #3 was right behind him holding his hands out as if to catch him should he stumble. I don't think he realized that there was no way he could prevent that man from falling but that didn't stop him from doing what he could. He was 10 at that time, my little Roy with his large caring heart. A sweet memory.

Mother's Day afternoon was spent with our eldest son and family who gave me a lovely hanging basket of flowers and our youngest son and family who gave me a gift card to my favorite book store. Gifts of love, certainly, but more importantly they took the time from their busy lives to share a few hours with Mom, time with them that Mom especially needed this May.

Memories of one Mother's Day in particular and my Mom were with me this year, bittersweet memories. I wanted to do something special for Mom but money was tight and I knew she had years worth of little statues and knic-knacs from her children and grandchildren and a box of full of cards she'd saved through the years. I decided to write her a letter telling her how much she meant to me. Putting pen to paper I shared what was in my heart for and about her. Years later, two of my sisters were going through Mom's lock box looking for her life insurance information after she died and they found my letter. They told me how they cried after reading my letter and that I should share my letter at her funeral. Mom had kept it all those years safely locked away with her important papers.

Roy #3 turned 12 on May 17th. Now my Roys #1, #2 and #3 are all 12 until Roy #1 turns 13 in June. I look forward to seeing the young men and lady they are growing to be. I tell them all I plan on dancing at their weddings while already missing my little guys and girl. I keep reminding them they will never be too old to give Grandma a hug and I still call them out when they try giving me a half-assed hug. You know, the one arm, head touch Grandma's shoulder while walking away kind. Grandma deserves nothing but the best, a full two arm hug so I can wrap my arms around them and kiss the top of their head as we say goodbye. I try to remember to say "I love you".

I still keep a dish of quiet time treats on my end table, something from the time my Roys were toddlers. Quiet time music (new age type music) meant nap time and quiet time treats were the small peppermint patties I would give them when they woke from their naps. More sweet memories.

My sister's son, Sister #4, turned 22 on the 18th and even though he didn't want any fuss or celebration she still made him a birthday cake and invited her sisters over. I declined the invitation but called my nephew to wish him a happy birthday. This year all I could think about was that Mom would have turned 80 on May 18th and she should be here to celebrate turning 80 with us. The heart knows what the heart wants but it's not always possible. She and my nephew both thought it was special to share a birthday. Mom was there when he was born and what was special for her was that he was the first baby she'd actually seen born. When Mom died 5 years ago in April my then 17 year old nephew told his mother he was done with birthdays. My sister wasn't having any of that and each year there's been cake on his birthday. She's helped him understand that it's important and okay to celebrate and enjoy the day, that's what life is about. Dark winter days that turn into the light and sunshine of Spring. That was something I'd forgotten so I went to my sister's home and gave my nephew a big hug, wishing him a Happy 22nd Birthday. My sister told me she was glad I came.

For me family are the most precious jewels you can own. I'm aware that I tend to hold on too tightly to my jewels and the pain of losing one isn't easy for me to let go of either. I acknowledge that is one of my character flaws, not being able to let go, and it doesn't make things easy for me. Not being abe to let go of the past and all it's hurts and sorrows takes a heavy toll on the spirit. My treasure chest may not be as full of jewels as it once was but I'm realizing that as some jewels are lost, more jewels are given. I've added seven beautiful, precious jewels to my treasure chest since 2002. June gave me my Pearl, in April I was given a Diamond, May brought me my Emerald, November I received my first Topaz, October gave me my Opal, February brought me my Amethyst and July of last year brought me my last Ruby with the arrival of Roy #7. Grandma's treasures.

I apologize if I've rambled but it's helped me to remember that you can't enjoy the sweet without the bitter. Despite the long, cold dark days of Winter, Spring will always follow bringing warmth, sunshine, color and beauty. Sister #4 is always saying that the present is what's important because the past is over and can't be changed and the future hasn't happened. Enjoy the present and let tomorrow take care of itself. Sometimes little sisters make sense and older sisters should be wise enough to listen and to remember.

Bridget

Yuck, Yuck, Goose

One of the articles in today's Star Gazette was about the number of geese in the area and the problems they are causing. When the article mentioned safety issues with children slipping on goose feces it reminded me of a story I had previously posted in NewsFromTown about the geese my Dad had when I was 11 or 12. There were just two of them but that was two too many as far as we kids were concerned.

One thing I remember from my childhood was that Dad always had animals of one kind or another around the house. When he decided he'd get into the fur coat business we raised mink. The animals were kept in cages beside a very large hickory nut tree in the field above the house. They were mean, nasty creatures and we very quickly learned to keep fingers away from the cages when feeding and watering those animals. Most of the side yard was hilly and you had to walk up an incline to get to the mink. This story, however, is not about the mink; it's about some other mean, nasty creatures that Dad had at the same time. Two white geese.

Those two geese considered the side yard their personal territory and it was cross that yard at your peril. Between trying to avoid what seemed like huge amounts of goose poop that littered that side of the yard or the mean geese themselves, it was not easy navigating that part of the yard. Dad had planted a couple of goose berry bushes half way up the yard and I'm sure that contributed to the birds' rotten attitudes. Whenever we complained about the birds to Dad his attitude was basically "suck it up, you're bigger than those birds". I'm sure he found a great deal of humor in our attempts to avoid his geese. As much as I hated helping with butchering chickens I would have gladly butchered and cleaned those birds myself. Unfortunately, for some strange reason Dad liked those two geese so butchering was out of the question.

On this particular day it was my turn to feed and water the mink. Container of food in one hand and bucket of water in the other, I checked the yard for the birds and luck was with me as they were no where in sight. I made it up to the mink, got them fed and watered with all fingers in tact, and was on my way back down to the house when I heard the honk of an angry bird. Picking up my pace while looking over my shoulder I saw two white heads bobbing up and down in the field as they quickly came at me from the field above. Luck wasn't with me on the way down because I slipped on a patch of goose poop. I went down hard on my rear end, sliding a bit further through more patches of the goose poop and smearing the stuff all over the back of my shorts. Yeah, we had our own goose poop slip and slide in that yard compliments of Dad's geese.

By this time both birds were coming at me, necks stretched out, wings spread wide and honking like crazy as they charged at me. Scrambling to make it to my feet I slipped again and now it was on my hands too. I managed to get to my feet still holding the empty water bucket and feed container but I made the mistake of turning my back to those darn birds forgetting how fast they were. One of them got me on my butt, hard, and if you've never been bitten by a goose I can assure you it hurts like hades. Swinging the empty bucket behind me at the birds I braced myself for another attack while trying to get down the rest of the hill without slipping again. The full two bird attack never came. Taking a chance, I glanced over my shoulder again and was surprised to see they were just standing there looking at me. Now I don't know if geese can smell or taste but the only thing I could figure that stopped them from coming at me again was because my backside was covered in goose poop. When the dang bird bit me it either caught a whiff or got a beak full of goose poop and didn't like the taste or smell.

Everyone else thought what happened was so very funny. Mom made me change my clothes outside because of all the goose poop on me and then I had to rinse my clothes in a bucket of water. Those two birds got a bath that day when I emptied the bucket by throwing it at them. They liked that about as much as I liked them. I was hoping I could drown them but it didn't work.

Dad eventually got rid of the geese by trading them for some pigeons and it's a good thing he did. In a prior story I told about how we killed Dad's spider monkey, accidentally of course, but the geese would have been a different story. The monkey's demise truly was an accident but those geese would have died by murder most fowl.

Bridget

Most siblings know how to push your buttons and growing up in a household of 6 girls a lot of buttons were pushed. Age hasn't changed that with my sisters and I include myself as a button pusher; though I am a bit more subtle than my siblings. When I first published this story in News From Town some of my family couldn't quite believe I would share this story. After all, women in their 50's should be too mature to do something like measure a behind. The story is true, names are not mentioned to protect the junk.....well, except for mine.

One day Sister #4 and I had Sister #5 do some measuring and it had nothing to do with making anything. It began when I moved to stand next to Sister #4 who was already at the counter.

"Move over a bit" I told her, "another big butt (PG word) is joining you". (Button pushed)

"What do you mean another" she said, "your butt is bigger than mine".

"Sorry, but we're about the same size" I told her, nudging her with my elbow.

"You're crazy" was her answer.

"Okay, let's measure" I said while reaching for a ruler. "You can measure me first" and I handed her the ruler.

"I'm using inches" she said, "not metric".

"No problem", I told her as I placed my hands where I wanted her to measure from. She's my sister and I had to keep her honest.

She measured my behind from east to west and told me the measurement in inches. All I will admit is that it measured more than 8 inches. She handed me the ruler and I measured her behind in the same east to west direction. No surprise, her number was the same as mine just as I told her.

"No way" she said, still not believing me. This is the point when we asked Sister #5 who was also present to do the measuring. Of course she didn't want to get involved, especially after she heard Sister #4's comment about my behind which may have been a vague reference to a continent. Her feeble attempt to push a button.

"You're being mean" she told Sister #4.

"No I'm not, she's prettier than me" she told Sister #5 at the same time I said that Sister #4 looked older than me.

"Now why'd you say something mean like that" Sister #4 asked me. "I was giving you a compliment".

"You're absolutely right" I said with a smile. Sister #5 reluctantly agreed and measured both our behinds, east to west, and came up with the same measurements. Our behinds measured the same.

"Well, my butt is flatter" Sister #4 said, nose raised a bit higher.

"So you're saying I have junk in my trunk, like J-Lo" was my reply.

"Yeah, but J-Lo's junk is higher and firmer, your's sags" she told me. Now, it may be hard to believe, but we are actually laughing at this point. We finally convinced Sister #5 to let us measure her behind and she was happy to hear that her's measured 2 inches smaller than ours.

While the junk in my trunk may sag a bit...alright more than a bit, I now know, and more importantly believe, it doesn't define who I am. I actually had a former employer tell me how he didn't want to hire me even though his partner said yes because I was fat and fat people are lazy. Prejudice isn't only about skin color or religion. I believe too many people judge themselves by how they think others see them, never quite measuring up to the standards of what society shows as the norm. I have been, and sometimes still am, guilty of that myself.

God made me, the only me there ever was or ever will be and as imperfect as I may be I'm still special in His eyes. I just wish I had been wise enough to understand this years ago. I would have been a lot happier with myself and not worried so much about how much junk was in my trunk. Now if I were just a few inches taller.....just kidding.

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