No, Thank YOU, Girls…

My late mother and I used to remark occasionally how empty life would have been had we not had children.  This was usually followed by my apologizing to Mom for filling her life up so completely into an overflowing not-empty mess.  If I were feeling particularly contrite, I would add an apology for moving back to Massachusetts from Pennsylvania, and earlier, California, where I had lived for about 5 years each, a ten year stretch starting shortly after I graduated from college.  It’s one thing to give your mother’s life meaning by merely existing.  It’s another to do it when she can babysit.  A lot.

I recalled these conversations a couple of nights ago when, readying ribs for dinner (using Mom’s recipe, and perhaps the all-time favorite dish of my youngest daughter, Coryne.  If it’s not her number one favorite, it’s darn close, as she is really, really passionate about it!). I told the girls, as I was sliding them into the oven around 3:00 to bake for 2 hours, “I’m going to lay down.  I’m midwubble.” (“miserable”).  Coryne was kind enough to share the cold she had last week with me, you see.  So, to draw bright lines around this warm, domestic scene, the child who gave me this October plague, is getting her favorite dinner. This is motherhood, right?

Well, remarkably, Coryne, in that moment, drew the bright lines.  She said something to the effect of, “You’re sick and you still made my favorite dinner.” To be clear, it’s not remarkable that my darling Coryne would grasp this, it’s just remarkable to have any (near) 17 year old grasp such a thing. How blessed am I?  So, I replied it wasn’t a big deal (it wasn’t) because the really hard days were over.  “It’s nothing compared to being sick when you kids were little, honey.”  Immediately, Coryne understood what I was saying.  “There’s no laying down in bed when you have three under three, sweetheart.  That was hard!”

“Oh my God, yeah…” was her reaction.  This was the moment when I pointed to the chair in the living room where my mother used to sit and related the “life would be so empty,” story to her, and how making ribs with a sniffle ain’t nothin’.  I went on to say to her, “You know, I adore your father.  We’d be happy today if we never had you girls… but not nearly so.  We might travel more, that’s true.  But you guys?  You guys bring us more joy.  Every single day.  I can’t imagine life without you.”  It’s true. Sure, I’d like to see the England.  I want to travel Italy, Greece, see every state in the union, maybe see more of Canada. But then what?  We’d bring home pictures and stories to… who?  Some crappy t-shirt to… who?

The other notable thing about this conversation was, “I adore your father.”  I do. I deeply, deeply love my husband.  It’s a profound feeling.  And I’m so grateful for it.  And the words echoed loudly and long enough that I am writing this two days after I said them.  I am the luckiest person I know for a whole litany of reasons, not the least of which I am able to say, to my children, out loud, “I adore you father.”  Hard to think of a better gift to give your kids, huh? (Well, they might suggest a new Mac, a new car… but I digress.) When I think of how many kids have parents who are divorced, or should be, I’m profoundly grateful.  As I am for the gift of my children, who, somehow, are remarkable young women.

So, no, Coryne. It’s nice that you thank me for making ribs while I have the sniffles. But that’s not the big deal.  The big deal is the mere fact that you had the presence of mind to say it, in that moment, not the thank you itself.  Because a rib dinner?  It’s nothing, nothing, compared to the gift you are to me, every single day.

Puppy Break!

 

Our girl, Tempe, 2+, photographed by our oldest daughter, Leigh. Temperance is a rescue, of many, many, many mixed breeds! She's named after the main character in the t.v. series, "Bones."

Our girl, Tempe, 2+, about 40 pounds, photographed by our oldest daughter, Leigh. Temperance is a rescue, of many, many, many mixed breeds! She’s named after the main character in the t.v. series, “Bones.”

 

Our boy, Ollie, 3, photographed by our oldest daughter, Leigh. Ollie is a rescue: 1/2 Lab, 1/4 Bassett Hound, 1/4 Mixed. We named him Ollie, which is short for Oliver, for his Olive green eyes.

Our boy, Ollie, 3+, about 60 pounds, photographed by our oldest daughter, Leigh. Ollie is a rescue: 1/2 Lab, 1/4 Bassett Hound, 1/4 Mixed. We named him Ollie, which is short for Oliver, for his Olive green eyes.

 

Analog Liberty

Something about my mother’s passing has left a yearning in me to time-travel.

Not really.  Not literally.  Not even to “go back” to see her, though I miss her everyday.

No.

Green Flavoradio

I had a green Flavoradio just like this one.

It’s something more ephemeral.  More sensory.  A kind of wish; a wish I could will into being.  It’s wanting the ability to conjure up the feeling you get when a song transports you; that feeling you get when, upon hearing a song, you are instantly transported to a moment in time, to where you associate it with, to when you remember hearing it on your transistor AM radio from Radio Shack, in a time and place when people you know, or knew, were of a certain age, and to experience again how things smelled, how the sun felt on your skin, looked as it passed through the trees and glistened on the grass beneath your bare feet.

It’s not even about some romanticized version of anyone, my mother or my childhood.  It’s not a yearning to return to “simpler times,” or “carefree days,” or a sanitized, sainted hologram of my dead mother and the 1970’s.

But it is analog.  And it is about that decade.  Not the ’80’s, when I was in college and flailing about.  Not the ’90’s when I’d found some equilibrium, launched my career, and (thank God!) met my husband.  It’s certainly not about the ’00’s, when our children were little, the towers fell, and the world changed forever.

No.  It’s this recurring mental image I have of something I remember actually, literally thinking when I was a teenager, in the 1970’s.

You could disappear.

You could wander America absolutely untracked, unknown, and therefore, with absolutely unlimited possibilities.  Unlimited in that you could travel unencumbered by any “baggage.”  If you’d completely f*cked-up your life, you could move to a distant town or state, and start-the-hell-over.  And I fully understand this kind of liberty can be used nefariously; to avoid child-support payments or back-taxes or a life of crime.  I get that.  But that necessarily means a very few people because a very few people do those things (in the grand scheme of things.)  No.  I’m talking about the non-nefarious 90+% of us who used to have the ability to wander undetected by satellites, Google-maps, or the Federal f*cking Government, perhaps to the upper altitudes of interior Maine, spying the distant blue of the Atlantic from a sap-soaked mountain clearing… because… we could!  Just because we could.  That’s the picture, the locale, the postcard I have in my head and it keeps calling to me!  I don’t know why! (Remember postcards?  What we used to send instead of a text with an iPhone snap? Seems quaint, huh? How very analog we were…)

This old Maine postcard is kinda what I have pictured in my head.  I had more pine-needles underfoot in mind, but, this will do.

This old Maine postcard is kinda what I have pictured in my head. I had more pine-needles underfoot in mind, but, this will do.

Now, let me pause for a moment to reassure my gentle reader that I don’t have any plans to go all Unabomber and live in a shack writing manifestos on the evils of modern life.  I love modern life.  I’m typing this, my 600-somethingth  blog-post right here, right now, on this very machine, because I believe in the positive power and reach of this magnificent platform we now have.  And as someone with crippling social issues, it’s my lifeline.  I honestly think the internet has saved lives;  lives like mine (I have Asperger’s if you’re new here.)

But I digress.  This wish, this longing for analog America is much, much bigger than me and my goofy brain and life.  It’s something else, again.  It’s about my kids, and losing Liberty; capital “L” Liberty.

Alex Keaton

Alex Keaton. I might have had a crush on him if he weren’t short 😉

I literally – literally – remember thinking, when I was a teenager, that in America you really could disappear.  I don’t remember what sparked the thought but my sense is it had something to do with my late brother Daniel (7 years older than me) having another battle with my Dad.  Something tells me he threatened to do it.  Just blow that clambake at Hatherly Road.  The way I remember my two brothers during that time, my brother Mike (8 years older than me) was (what we later came to know as the 1980’s television character) Alex Keaton, the smart, resourceful capitalist, and my brother Dan, the free-spirited hippie wanting to spend his days seeing America, man, in his souped-up Chevy Van, man.  This was a cause of much discordance at the ol’ homestead.

I remember thinking my brother Dan could disappear…  And right after that I remember thinking how big America is, and that made this thought bigger, vastly bigger, at least as big as sea to shining sea…

…which, as was my next thought, meant I could disappear.  And I remember feeling unsafe at the thought.  That there could be all kinds of people wandering the quiet countryside who were not who they said they were.  And then I remember thinking that our whole system, our whole country then, relies on the fact that people will act honorably!  Which, of course, it does!  The Founders spoke and wrote often that this experiment in human liberty would fail if not for a “Godly” population.  Until a few decades ago, there was very little the federal government could do to “track” the “un-Godly.”  Now of course, there’s ankle-bracelets and GPS and all kinds of technology I’ve previously mentioned, and now these technologies track all of us, “Godly” or not.

We are all now digitally shackled.

So now, I look at my girls, not much older than I was when I had this realization about the depth, breadth, and magnitude of my capital “L” Liberty, and I feel sorry for them.

And that’s where the yearning for the time-travel comes in.

I wish I could capture for them that feeling!  That feeling that you could wander…

Just.

Wander…

 

It Was 20 Years Ago Today…

…Mike & I were married. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t.

No.

Not marrying Mike! Marrying on this date. Though, of course, we couldn’t possibly have known…

On our 8th anniversary we all sat, horrified, at the images on the t.v. On our 19th anniversary we all sat, horrified, at the images on the t.v. Last night, the world sat, horrified, at the images on the t.v. of the American president humiliating us yet again with his fumbling, bumbling, adolescent, ass-backwards foreign policy and world view.

Other than that, I’m feeling pretty darn good! It’s not possible to be more blessed than I am. I am the luckiest person I know. I was given the gift of parents who (having adopted me!) gave me the ability to follow my dreams; those dreams led me to a little one-horse town on San Francisco bay where one December morning in 1991 I met my future husband. Our first date we went out to dinner. Our second date, I cooked. I set the kitchen on fire, but let that go. He stayed… and never left. We call it the second date that got completely out of control. 22 years later, he’s still underfoot!

I adore my husband. He’s my best friend. We laugh every single day. I could not have asked for a better man. And that love gave us three of the best kids ever invented. Blessed, blessed, blessed.

I don’t know who God is. I don’t know by what name our Supreme Being should be called. I believe any path to that Light is good and proper (provided, of course, it doesn’t involve harm to others). But for lack of a better name, “God” is who I choose to call “him”, though I believe a good argument can be made that a Supreme Being is neither male nor female but a perfect blend of the best of both.

So Thank GOD for this day, for all the days past, and for any “he” deigns to issue forth. I couldn’t be happier.