Posted by admin on June 25, 2020 in Motherless Mom
I hated him from the first minute I met him. It was clear that the feeling was mutual. He would burst into my house, as I opened the door without a word.
What a jerk.
I was 14 years-old. He was 18.
I was the tagalong younger sister of the group. He was the friend of my stepsister’s boyfriend. I had a metal mouth, permed hair and thick glasses. He had long permed hair, muscle tee, and baggy acid washed jeans. Neither of us could have imagined that 30 years later from that time, we would be celebrating our 25thwedding anniversary.
Two years after my stepsister had broken up with her boyfriend, I was a passenger in my friend’s current boyfriend’s truck. Carrie, my friend, and I were on Spring Break. We had just come from seeing a movie. John started to swerve in the lane. There was a brown station wagon doing the same thing in front of us. Its driver gestured out the window for us to pull over.
We pulled up to the Pizza Hut and the station wagon pulled up a few spots ahead. John said it is a buddy from school. He and Carrie got out to greet his buddy. I waited in the truck.
After a few minutes I heard, “Bubbles!”
It was from the direction of the group. Bubbles was my nickname amongst friends, not random strangers!
“What?” I yelled back.
“Get over here.”
I untucked my legs from the truck and sauntered over.
John, Carrie and two guys were huddled on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. One guy in a leather jacket had his back to me. He turned around. Our eyes met. It was the jerk. The rest of the world had gone on mute.
Only, he was now a cute jerk?
The group went back to Carrie’s house. The group shot the breeze. I slipped to the bathroom to try to gather my thoughts. As I emerged, he was in the hallway to the living room.
I was magnetized to his leather jacket. We made small chat.
When he drove me home that night, he asked me out.
We dated. We broke up several times. And yet, when we were broken up, we still hung out together.
He proposed to me as I was finishing Grade 11. Two years later, we planned to get married in the Spring after we moved in together. One month after I turned legal age in the fall of 1992, we said ‘I do.’ We didn’t want to wait.
We found a small church in our hometown. My stepmom, who was a seamstress, made my dress and my maid-of-honor’s. We had the reception of 30 closest family and friends at my childhood home. Family brought dishes for the reception buffet. The entire wedding cost just under $1500. In retrospect, I would change a few, minor things. I was just glad we got it done.
Our friendship built the foundation for our relationship. We have nothing in common. Yet, we click, we fight and love spending time together.
After 13 years of marriage, we became parents and 2 years after that we welcomed a second baby. We discovered new things about each other. Our relationship went to another level.
Over the almost 28 years of being together, his smile or just that certain look can stir up the butterflies like that time our eyes locked and the world went on mute.
I can’t wait for the next 25 years with my best friend and husband.
Posted by admin on April 4, 2018 in Motherless Mom
“ It was pre-cancerous.”
The words just said by the doctor hang in the air within a cartoon bubble. I watch his mouth keep moving. However, his words are on mute to my ears.
When I finally tune in again, I realize he is talking in a serious doctor tone explaining that I will have to remove gluten from my diet. After years of medical treatments, yo-yo weight swings, surgeries and medications, I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
I nod and took the papers he handed me. Somehow I got back to my car and buckled myself in. To say it is surreal isn’t the right word. I grab my phone to call my husband. I had promised to call when I was done. He answers on the first ring.
I stutter out the words before I realize what I am saying.
“ They caught pre-cancer.”
With the words out, I begin to cry. I babble out the words the doctor said about me having Celiac Disease, and I have to change what I eat.
The relief washes over me like a consistent tidal wave. Years of fighting with my thyroid and losing it, the weight never came off. My endo sent me for blood work, which came back positive for the disease. She then sent me to the gastro specialist who then sent me for more tests, including a colonoscopy. A procedure that was originally scheduled in 3 months time. The doc got me in sooner. I am forever grateful that he did.
We could of had a chemotherapy conversation, instead of what I can and can’t eat anymore. I was so close to history repeating itself as I was 10 when my mom died, the age of my oldest daughter now.
Cancer is all over my family history. I am the only one in my immediate family circle that hasn’t had it. AND I ALMOST HAD IT.
I meet my husband for a celebratory ‘last gluten meal’. The shock slowly wears off as perspective sinks in. I am grateful for having such a strong medical team. I am still here. I am older than my mom got to live and I don’t take that lightly.
As I break the news to friends and family, I get the pity noises. I can’t understand why changing what I eat is a bad thing? It could have been worse, I could have died from the silent killer.
I dive into what I can put on my plate. Sure, I grieve over the fast food I no longer can have anymore, but it was bad for me. It almost killed me. I didn’t lose weight quickly, but I began to love my body again. I started to feel taller. I began to not crave the junk food, but craved popcorn and avocados! My kids and husband commented how happier I seem.
Knowing what was hurting my body felt so empowering and I welcomed the solace the diagnosis gave me. My mom couldn’t change the fact that cancer took her from us. I can change what is on my plate to be here for my family. I will take that gratitude and never let it go.
Posted by admin on July 4, 2017 in Motherless Mom
My nine-year-old daughter just put me through an interview. She asked questions about my favorite movies and favorite foods. I was delighted to answer every question. Her curiosity shows off her brilliant mind.
I only knew my mom for ten years. Without a doubt, I know what I would ask her today.
Mom, here are five questions I will ask you in an interview:
- Besides being a teacher, what else did you want to be?
- Did you want to be a mom?
- How was my birth, really?
- What were you trying to tell me on the day you died?
- How am I doing as a mom for your grandchildren?
I know it will be many years before I can hear your answers. I feel like I know some of them already based on how much you love me.
What would you ask your loved one in an interview? Ask them anything.
Posted by admin on July 4, 2017 in Motherless Mom
It is 2018. Many fellow Canadians are opting to not travel to the United States because of the current political climate. I can’t help to think of the American experience we had in 2013. It was the first Family Day here in my province. And we had to leave our country for the day.
My husband rolled down his window as the car drove up. I handed all of our IDs to him, fanned out to be make easier for the border guard.
“What is your purpose for entering the United States today?” he asked.
After a long night planning to make sure we had everything, and the extra bag for our kiddo with special needs, I couldn’t believe how we made good time to get to the border. I wished it were for a better reason.
“To attend my wife’s uncle’s funeral.” My husband replied.
The guards looked at all of us dressed in our formal wear in the early hours of a Monday morning. He glanced briefly at each of our pieces of identification. As he handed them back , he informed us that we only needed one piece of id per person to cross the border by car.
“I’m sorry for your loss. Hope the next visit will be for better reasons.” He concluded
We thanked him and drove away. I was so grateful that there weren’t no issues. We were early by the time we got near the church, so we stopped at the local Starbucks. We could stretch our legs and snack up. I lined up to place our drink orders as hubby spread out snacks from home for the kids.
I got to the counter and told the barista our order. She asked what we were doing today since we were all dressed up. I told her. Her face fell.
“I am so sorry for your loss. The coffees are on us today.”
I couldn’t reply, the tears bubbled in my throat. I was overwhelmed by the kindness we were shown from strangers. It is only 10:30am!
We arrived at the church with ten minutes to spare. My husband stayed with our youngest because she likes to roam. Our older daughter joined me to honor my uncle. She wrote in my notebook as we sat near his casket. At the reception, many people from my aunt and uncle’s church community had come up to me and complimented how my oldest had behaved during the service. It amazed me how much kindness could surround grief.
As the reception wound down, it was announced where the vehicle procession to his final resting place would begin. We joined the line in the adjacent parking lot, and was the last car. As the cars started their engines, we did too. A State Patrol man on a motorcycle had fallen in behind us with its lights blazing. As we proceeded through the streets and ran red lights with the escort, I was awestruck at how many cars pulled to the side, and some pedestrians took off their hats and put their hands to their hearts. They didn’t even know my uncle, yet they showed their respect to our grief. He wasn’t a celebrity and was important to so many that loved him.
I have been to multiple funerals here in Canada. We never had the support of the RCMP to make sure all those mourners could make it to the gravesite. Nor were those who passed on treated by passerby with such dignity like we had seen for my uncle.
It has been 4 years since that day. While it was sad for our family, it also showed how grief has no borders. We were treated without judgment or prejudice because of where we were. We were treated with kindness and empathy. From the border guard, to the police officer escort to the cemetery, we felt enveloped in the kindness that is America.
Posted by admin on March 27, 2017 in Motherless Mom
Like a sunrise I didn’t know I needed,
you marched into our life to make your claim.
Your silent words I should have heeded,
delays past milestones, red-flags everywhere.
Your eyes expressed when words failed.
The simplest thing could trigger a storm.
I pulled every trick I could until you sailed
back to the moment, back to me.
As my heart aches, helpless to you.
You wrap your arms around my neck
Thaws my winter chill, I feel anew
Ready once again, to chase your seasons.
Posted by admin on March 19, 2017 in Motherless Mom
You can’t edit a blank page, just like you can’t make a kid take a nap.
When my oldest was a baby, inspiration hit me to write a children’s book for her. Our oldest cat was getting on in age. I was afraid she wouldn’t know him as she grew up. One day while she napped in my arms, I grabbed a crayon and wrote the outline on the back of the cable bill envelope in 30 minutes.
I had self-published Harley Finds His Family and Harley as a gift for my baby. Those books sparked my writing cravings ever since I was in high school. I loved Creative Writing as a kid. Life has now taken me far away from it.
During her naps, I realized I should keep a notebook and pen around for ideas in between Mommy and Me classes, diaper changes and feedings. I also wrote in a journal to give to her one day.
Just as I hit my stride with my vice, I was pregnant again. In between all the interruptions, I kept dusting notebooks with my ideas. When I dove into the world of blogging and was published, I knew I found a sweet haven where I could be a wife, a mom, and me all in one place.
My books were read by many, including celebrities.
After having multiple articles published online, I began to submit for anthologies. If anything, I would have great stories to leave for my kids in case I had the same fate as my mom. She died when I was ten years old. I didn’t know any of her stories.
I will admit that I got a charge to see my name in print. Writing my stories of what I had been through was validating. I always hoped that there might be one reader who saw themselves through my words.
I was ready to quit writing many times. The last time just as I was about to delete my blog, a reader emailed me. In the message she said how grateful she was for the honesty of my pain. She said she didn’t feel alone by reading my words. Fueled by her reaching out, I kept writing. It became larger than me.
My health took a bad turn a few years ago. I turned to reading books rather than writing for publication. I wrote in journals using my favorite pen. I wrote in hospital waiting rooms. I wrote while watching my kids play in the backyard, at 3am because I couldn’t sleep, and when I knew I couldn’t block my thoughts.
It was during those stolen moments that I realized I have always been a writer. I write to find my voice. It is the cheapest therapy in a place where it doesn’t ask for more goldfish crackers or has meltdowns .
There may be weeks that slip by without writing. It is always lingering under my skin. I crave it now like I used to crave chocolate. I might not get it everyday, but when I do, it is well worth the wait.
Posted by admin on March 8, 2017 in Motherless Mom
Snuggled on the couch with photo albums spread out, my kids ask again for stories about when I was in school. It is the end of the current school year. We are chatting about the good memories of the year. My kids are amazed that there was life before them.
“Who was your favorite teacher ever, Mom?” My nine-year old asks.
I smile at the question. There is no doubt how I will answer.
“That’s easy. It was Mr. Vint, my high school drama teacher. “
It may have been 26 years ago, but I can still hear his laughter in the theatre. I had taken his class as part of my first semester in Grade 11. His reputation was famous in our town. Colin Vint is not only the fun acting teacher, but a real actor too. He has done many shows that are filmed a few towns away. Mr. Vint is the closest thing to Hollywood around.
From the first moment he spoke in class, I was mesmerized. He projected his voice all over the theatre. There was a sense of magic in the air by being in that environment. Everything that hurt me was left by the door. I can escape into whatever character he directed me to play.
Until that one monologue.
I scoured books in the library and the local bookstore. One afternoon I snuck on the bus to go downtown to check out the main library. I found the perfect monologue. It resonated with me. I know the character because it is in my soul. Not only was I going to perform circles around my classmates, I was going to get an A for it.
The day arrived to perform it. Mr. Vint called my name and I took my place on stage. I heard the whispers from the mean girls and I muted them out. I breathed in my nervous breath and out the negative energy.
“ Do you remember, Mama? I love you and you love me. And what went wrong..” I couldn’t speak anymore. All the air left me and my face became wet. I leaned my head over my knees because I thought I was going to faint. A hand on my shoulder snapped me back into reality.
Mr. Vint guided me up and down the stairs into his office. As we walked he told the class to take 5. That is acting speak to take a break.
After sitting me down in the spare chair, Mr. Vint filled a cup of water and handed it to me. I gulped it fast. I have no idea what made me snap. He went to his phone and tapped a few buttons. I couldn’t hear what was said.
“ Do you need more time?” he gently said.
I shook my head as the office door opened. It was the school counselor, Mr. Crampton. Everyone called him Alf. The two men stood by the door in stage whispers.
Mr. Crampton leaned beside my chair and asked if I wanted to come to his office to take a break. Nodding, I drifted to his office.
With the door to his office closed, I began to cry again. All he did was push the tissue box across his desk to me and waited.
Without heisitation, I begand to tell my truth. I told of the immense loss of my mom, the verbal and physical abuse and the hell that is now in my house. I did not leave anything unturned.
Mr. Crampton nodded and told me I did the right thing. He told me to wait in the hall as he made a few phone calls. Then, he said I can go and that his door is open anytime.
When I arrived home, I was met with my dad and stepmom. It was odd because they were supposed to be working. My feet felt like cement as they sat me down to talk. They had received the call from Mr. Crampton. My heart began to pound so loud I thought they could hear it. I could not tell how that conversation went. I thought that I would be dead or kicked out.
As the fear dispitated, I realized they told me that they were worried about me. They made an appointment with a psychologist to get answers. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea how this would play out.
Over the next two weeks I saw the professional that they arranged. I told him the same thing that I told Mr. Crampton. Dr. Golden asked how old I am. When I told him, he smiled. He informed me that legally I didn’t have to live at home anymore. I was shocked. There is light after all. Only, I didn’t know what that looked like.
One week later, my fairy godmother called to check in. I moved in with her a few days later.
Posted by admin on February 4, 2017 in Motherless Mom
My tunnel vision sharpens, my eyes are focused on my MacBook screen. The message stares at me without blinking. I have read it a possible few hundred times. I swallow in attempts to quench my parched throat. My voice echoes the message.
“ Thank you for writing about what I have been thinking… None of my friends understand what I am feeling.”
My hands are shaking over the keyboard. I blink away the tears that creep up in the corners. I am shocked, stunned and humbled all in one moment.
24 hours ago, I was one click away from deactivating my blog.
After my health challenges in the past 2 years, keeping the blog updated was the last priority on my to-do list. I started my blog as therapy for myself, as a way to deal with the residual feelings of grief for my mother.
I almost quit, thinking that no one would notice.
Thank you, Dear Reader for reaching out to me.
I won’t quit. I am here.
I am not alone. You are not alone.
Posted by admin on January 15, 2017 in Motherless Mom
It is 3:45 am according to my ancient clock radio. My youngest daughter drags my right hand to pull me out of bed. She leads me to the gate at the top of the stairs indicating she wants to go downstairs. I slide on my eyeglasses to see as we try to sneak downstairs to not wake the other members of our family. In the dimly lit living room I struggle to keep my eyes open, to keep her safe and hopefully wear her out to go back to sleep. Without an eye on the time, eventually she stretches out on the couch. I try to get comfortable in the chair near her. Just as soon as I rest my eyes I hear my husband moving upstairs in our room. I check the clock, with a heavy sigh I realize he is up for work. The day begins with me in slow motion.
Shortly after he comes down the stairs, our oldest bounds down wide awake. After he leaves, my youngest is still awake. I realize that I need to do something desperate for her to sleep before our morning activities. Despite my exhausted self, I pack up my girls in the car in hopes a long drive will help make her nap. In three hours we are expected at a medal ceremony at the local library for the Summer Reading Club. My oldest has been looking forward to this all year. There is no way I am going to miss that for her. If I wasn’t so tired I would be angry at the situation. In a ‘regular world’ there would be a grandma on call to do this so I could cat nap. Autism robs my brain and energy again.
I never asked to be a mom. Years of not trying to be a parent lulled me into a sense of child-less security. Because of my medical issues (endometriosis) it was presumed that I could not conceive. In fact, three doctors confirmed it. To the date three months later my first daughter was conceived.
I delivered a beautiful baby girl. As she grew older, hitting her milestones, I became relieved. She is on her way. She never crawled though. She ran the week after her first birthday; all the while talking a million miles a minute.
Months later when she was 14 months old, I was stunned again that I was pregnant. I even went to the store in my pjs to confirm the test three times.
This pregnancy was not like the last one. The morning sickness was awful. I began to lost weight so I needed to take Diclectin to start gaining weight. I took my iron and other supplements the doctor instructed me to do. The rest of the pregnancy dragged on as I tried to keep up with a fast toddler.
Then the 28th week of pregnancy hit as my belly measure 8 inches longer than it should have been. They questioned me if I was sure of the date. I assured them I knew. Through ultrasounds with a specialist it showed that my baby was breech and practically standing in my womb. The baby was also going to be big according to the scan. So a C-section was scheduled.
I know I have a lot to be grateful for: healthy family albeit autism, my sister lives close and I have a writing career I love. The ‘experts’ keep going on and on about the importance of sleep. Well, that is great and all, but what happens if it is beyond your control.
Within minutes of our drive, my oldest girl tells me her sister is asleep. I tuck the car into a drive-thru line-up. In the rear-view mirror I see my five-year-Old’s eyes light up. I order our food and park under the shade of a tree. I leave music on and begin to have a breakfast car picnic with my first baby. She states that this is the best fun ever. With those precious words I slip out of my self-pity baggage. I did what I could do and ended up making a special summer memory for the two of us.
The following week my legs are splayed over the coffee table. I reach over to my abandoned coffee cup. I carefully take a sip to only find out it has gone cold. With a big sigh I get off the couch to dump the remains into the sink. I step aside my three-year-old daughter who is racing around the dining room and into the living room. Her Santa hat goes flying in the air as she turns the corner.
I refill my coffee cup and amble to sit down again. We had just returned from a doctor’s appointment after dropping my oldest daughter off at kindergarten. My youngest is beginning the steps to have therapy to help her autistic behaviours. She was also up very early this morning. The weight of the sleep and stress exhaustion makes me grumpy. I kick a toy to the side and sit down again.
For the past year I have witnessed my girl grow slowly through the development milestones. Her speech is also delayed. We began the search for the right programs and therapies after the assessments that diagnosed her with ASD (autism spectrum disorder.) For some reason she is deciding sleep is not an option lately. The constricting guilt of if I am at fault as to why she received the label keeps me up at night. I wonder if it had to be me being put under for her birth. The planned caesarean was hampered by my back not able to receive the spinal tap or epidural. Her big size didn’t help. I wonder if I didn’t eat something I should have while pregnant. I had seven months of morning sickness while pregnant with her. And once again, like a million times before, when I start going down this road I cry.
I hear her giggle bounce off the walls as she rounds the corner to run through the rooms. Her senses love certain textures and movement. So she is wearing her Santa hat and a ballet tutu for the sixth day in a row. Since she is three, we allow her the happiness the ensemble gives her. When she is sixteen it might not look so ‘normal’ at school. She runs around again only this time to barrel towards me. I open my arms to receive the biggest bear hug. Her hat comes loose. She hands it to me so I can put it back on. She bounces up again and is off. My guilty reverie fades as her hug reminds me of one thing, she is my daughter. I am lucky to be her mom. She is the present I did not know our family needed.