Family is also my adrenaline
10 a.m. and the remaining items from under the bed, brought her new day to a screeching halt. Marianne slouched in front of them with a blank look on her face, if you don’t count the tears. She stared at seashells memorializing their off-season stroll last October. A reminder of the Cape Cod tournament that allowed for beach time between hectic games. A beautiful memory mixed with the unknown before her. The papers were one more reminder of things she didn’t understand. A slap in the face that time is fleeting and she hadn’t really known her daughter.
Your first cries were soothed with my milk and heartbeat.
Hugs and kisses calmed most else.
Band-aids and bacitracin covered your childhood.
But now you’ve graduated to anguish…
and I cannot stop your tears –
even if I went to the ends of the earth.
The love you’ve lost wasn’t mine to control.
You can only heal yourself now.
I pray that time
and good memories
help you to live with the hurt.
I didn’t want her to go ahead with the plans but I couldn’t hold her back. Moving halfway across the country was a big deal. I needed to think about the situation – “stew over it”, as they say. My first chick was leaving the nest.
Thanks for the prompt.
Friday night but my disciplined husband keeps his weekly work routine and goes to bed by 9:00.
Past 9:30 but this cinema buff keeps her weekend desire to watch old movies past midnight.
Classic Hepburn was a given. Including Spencer Tracy and Sydney Poitier was like adding salt and pepper to a favorite dish.
Guess who’s coming to dinner was my 1967 choice. Looking back in time at this social issue was the comedy-drama I wanted.
15 minutes into the movie and I wonder why I hear my husband going out the back door? I figured he needed more wood to ensure the fire made it through the night. My mind stays focused on the screen and I pay more attention to the gallery and nice digs than I do to my own artful home. When I hear the stairs, I finally turn my head thinking Richie decided to join me.
But it’s not Richie!
Guess who’s coming to dinner was my 2018 reality. Gawking in surprise at my non-social butterfly baby girl was the comedy-drama I needed.
She had not flown in on United but I was thrilled to be reunited with her.
I didn’t have a Tillie to make us sandwiches and it was too cold to eat outside but I did whip us up some cheesy scrambled eggs to eat in the kitchen.
I never made it past the scene where the doctor meets the dad. On the interesting flip side, Tarah’s dad visits his doctor in the morning.
Our reunion tonight was comedic. I can’t wait to see what drama unfolds tomorrow…in both households.
Just found this in my drafts from early 2016:
My mother-in-law is the sweetest and most generous woman.
The only problem is that she’s also the mother of my husband.
What does it mean when she gifts me a housekeeping book?
Sunday morning of a long weekend and I had no plans or desires to be anywhere but home. I’d been to mass the night before, nobody else was up and we had exercise equipment in the basement. I had no excuses left and time to myself, so it was finally time to work out.
I carried my pug down the basement steps and set him on a pillow. He was both my emotional support and witness for my Rocky routine. I set my IPhone on the ping pong table and started my playlist:
Rocky theme – It was natural to grab the jumprope first and start skipping to the beat. I quickly counted the revolutions, knowing I could easily put in 100, but maintaining until the end of the song was the goal. The song reinforced that I was “trying hard now” and belted that my body would be “getting strong now”. The lyrics”won’t be long now” were also inspiring, even though I had a long road ahead of me.
I hung the rope on a nail and put on my Everlast boxing gloves.
Eye of the tiger – I went head-to-head with my punching bag knowing I was my biggest rival. This was physical and psychological exercise. After a minute or so, I made sure I had quickfire feet going too. We were face-to-face, the bag was hanging tough and I was staying hungry. My reward for this workout was going to be a hearty homemade Sunday breakfast.
When the thrill of the fight and the song ended, I noticed white spots at the top of the bag. Figuring it was the start of molding from non-use, I panted my way upstairs to get Lysol spray for the bag and to prevent an impending heart attack, a bottle of water for me.
I sipped water as I looked out the cellar window. The outside temperature has been moving around zero degrees for a week now and our wood stove has been a lifesaver. It was appropriate that I moved my workout to the ski machine:
Hearts on fire – it’s been a few months since I used the cross country setup but the rhythm came back quickly. Exercise that involves arms and legs all at once are the most fun for me. “Time would not stand still” for me now. I was focused until I realized my heart really was on fire.
Starting was the hard part but now I was enjoying myself. Maintaining is going to be the challenge to get my body back in shape, in fact there’s:
No easy way out – I listened to this track as I worked with my free weights.
I saved my least favorite, abs, for last. I climbed on the ab machine and after 25 pulls, wondered who the hell named it a “glider”? I did as many as I could and then cooled down to Coach’s ‘motivization’ speech.
It was the perfect cool down. Next time I work out and it starts to burn, I am going to hear Mickey say, “I didn’t hear no bell!”
I am powerful beyond measure.
I need to believe it – on Sundays and every other day.
No more excuses – as my pug is my witness.
I have come out of the basement.
All the step, fit-bit and workout conversations during the holidays is a drain on my psyche. I am not a regular fitness participant, can’t commit to a daily routine and even dole out punishment to myself for lack of motivation. Just yesterday I was kicking myself, instead of the punching bag, because I still make excuses for not exercising.
Today is a new day though.My outlook is more positive. I haven’t given myself enough credit. While I don’t have a gym membership or workout partner, I exercise plenty, especially during the holidays:
Weights – who carried up all the Christmas stocking holders from the basement? Those things aren’t light x the whole family x 2. That’s a set.
Speaking of which, add to that:
Stairs – cellar stairs are the original homemade elliptical. I AM a stair climber. I went up and down the stairs for eight buckets of tree limbs, ornaments and decorations. If you count the roasting pans, extra paper towels and added chairs I’ve also brought upstairs during the holidays, I may as well start training to climb Everest.
and climb I do:
Plank – the hot topic buzz word of the fitness world. No, I don’t lie on the floor and hold myself up with my elbows. What I did do was walk the planks of our second story, holding onto beam work, to wrap garland in all the right places.
Someone put out all the greenery, lights and presents. It wasn’t an elf.
Laps – I enjoy running and love to swim but don’t typically count laps. I need to participate in team sports where laps are just part of the process, not the actual goal. Given that, I’d say I completed a lot of laps shopping at the mall and walking parking lots in December.
…and I did it in high fashion:
Push-ups – I do not have the proper form for push-ups. Coaches have always told me to put my ass down and modified push-ups seem like cheating. The push-up bras I wore over the holidays allowed for a solution and whether you consider it cheating or not, those underwires gave me the proper form on a daily basis.
Add to that the form and beauty I adorn to all my packaging:
Curling – I took time to curl several times a week. Curling ribbon is one of my favorite holiday exercises. I only wish I knew how many miles I’d logged wrapping pretty gifts.
The last few exercises were when I really dug in:
Leg lifts – After every wrapping session, shopping excursion or meal planning event, I finished off with leg lifts. In a sitting position under a lit tree, I put a pillow on the coffee table and lifted my legs up to enjoy a hot beverage.
Holiday fitness includes the ultimate cool down as well:
Sit-ups – I did. I sat up at multiple tables to enjoy some delicious snacks, meals and desserts. Repetitions are key to the best sit-up results. Sometimes the sessions were so long, I was even sore afterwards.
Now I can add to the holiday fitness conversations. I am ready to give myself credit for all my hard work. To anyone that disagrees, I say,
I am a bit fit and
it works out for me.”
My husband had an early shopping day with our daughter on Saturday, so I decided to surprise my parents and enjoy my eggs and toast at their house. It’s only a three-mile drive but my timing was off. My father had just finished his own eggs, bacon and oatmeal and my mother was already enjoying one of her favorites – an ice cream cone breakfast. While we didn’t enjoy a meal together I thought our 1×2 time could still be special.
I started to tell my mother about my journey home from work on Friday night. I explained that I sometimes take a different route home to learn the area around the new office.
My mother responded after finishing her cone:
Knowing that was just her catchphrase I continued…
I was only telling you because my GPS said there was a Goodwill in the area. I knew I had her attention now because it is one of her favorite places to thrift. It was my hook.
I didn’t even get to add the punchline that I followed the map for an extra six miles and learned the store no longer exists in that location. Feeling incomplete, I had to at least finish my sentence. I cut to the chase and told her that I found a new shop that I liked in that neighborhood anyway.
Mom. I know you’re excited for James to take you to the casino but you’re not listening here and now.
Yes, it’s like you can only focus on my brother. I get it though. I know you’re just excited about the trip. My comment seemed unappreciated but it registered and she snapped out of it.
“What time is it in Nashville?”
They are only an hour behind us mom. It should be around 8 AM. Why?
“I’ve been sitting here waiting to call your sister Twyla. I mailed her a package and wanted to know if it arrived.”
Well that explained more. I decided not to take her uninterested comments personally. I also realized it was my brother she was irritated with, not me. He had told them he would arrive between 9 and 10 but it was now 9:10, so she considered him late.
My mother reached for her flip cell phone. I asked what time she was going to call my sister? Her response was curt and quick.
“The hell with her. I guess I’ll have to risk waking her up.”
My sister Twyla couldn’t sleep up to or past 8 o’clock if she tried. Although she’ll wish she had when she answered the phone. The unwritten rule is that you called when a package arrived, so my mother didn’t worry that her gifted parcels were in oblivion.
The heat was off James and I and onto her but she didn’t even know it yet.
“You’re up.” was the start of my mother’s conversation.
I could only hear one side of the call but her next comment was, “well, there’s not much going on here.”
I jumped on the other extension. Really mom? I thought your other daughter was here visiting?
Knowing how sensitive I am, my mother quickly acknowledged my comment:
“Oh, shut up.”
Then to Twyla:
“What do you mean several packages have arrived and you don’t know if one of them is from me?”
My sister works so hard she probably hadn’t read any of her mail from the entire week yet. Regardless, she was now required to look through the stack while my mother was on the phone. She was going to be in trouble either way. If it was there, she hadn’t reported in to the Mom tracking system. If the package wasn’t there, it would also be her fault simply because the post office had assured my mother of a Friday delivery.
Based on my mother’s mood, I was now glad the attention was not on me.
“What? I can’t hear you, Donna burnt some toast and it smells awful.”
I know noses and ears are somehow connected but I didn’t realize my carbohydrate carbon smell could impact my mother’s hearing aids.
I ignored the comment as I thought ‘Whatever’ in my head. I broke my yolk to match my heart and slopped up the bright yellow gravy, picking up the emotional pieces. I washed my dish and gathered my coat and keys.
My father came back in the room and asked why I was leaving so soon?
I just thought I’d stop in on my way to getting groceries. Twy is on the line. Have a good day with James.
“If he gets here. It’s almost 9:30.”
My morning visit was complete. We did not enjoy a meal together, the timing was off and it could have been special.
To define “Aunt” Trudy would be to say she was a divine woman and a favored dinner companion. We were not related but rather, both adopted extensions of the Mullaney holiday gatherings. I was a nephew’s wife and she was the son’s mother-in-law. We were those added family members that created the need for a larger ham at Easter, demoted the youngsters to a kids table at Thanksgiving and brought additional dessert selections at Christmas.
Trudy was that interested family member that sincerely wanted updates to everyone’s life. She also brought her own experiences, humorous or thought-provoking, to the dinner table. While her age would define her as elderly, this grandmother was more active than most. She had weekly exercise groups, unique interests and outings with friends. Trudy didn’t boast about any of them, they just came through in her conversations. She put everyone at ease and was the most gracious guest. Her “across the pond” accent, and accepting and loving nature made her delightful company. She was a woman’s woman.
It’s 4 am and as I admire the near full moon lighting up our bedroom, I feel safe. I tell myself a lit night sky is not always a good thing and am reminded of Trudy and a comment she once made in real Aunt Stel’s living room. If they both knew I was now writing this on my iPhone under the covers, like a tweenager reading with a flashlight under their first homemade tent, they would be laughing at my childish approach to retelling this moment.
A woman doesn’t typically talk about her age and Trudy was no exception. So I thought, until she told a story one Easter, about how she quit smoking as a young woman. When one of the boys had to excuse himself to go smoke, Trudy was understanding and told him not to apologize for leaving the room. She completely understood nicotine’s prodding. During his temporary departure Trudy talked about the nasty and inconvenient habit and how she was finally able to quit.
I am sure her story was compelling; I don’t remember the whole tale. What I do recall is that there were multiple date references, that included the year she was married and how long she’d been smoking. I backed into the numbers and inserted myself into the conversation. I suppose I was trying to match her wit, charm and humor when I delivered my mathematical perspective.
“Trudy, if you’d been smoking that long by the time you quit, that would mean you were already smoking at thirteen! How scandalous; were your parents aware of this?”
As gracious as ever, she smiled and welcomed me into her storytelling. “Why, yes, dear. They knew my friends and I smoked during the air raids in London. The cigarettes calmed us in the deep level shelters as we listened to the bombing overhead.”
My question, and any potential follow-up, was no longer charming, humorous or witty.
Her WWII response left me mute.
I froze in my chair and didn’t have a worthy comment.
I finally started to stammer an educated retort into the now quiet and compassionate room but she’d have none of that. Instead she eloquently added another sentence or two about her English family and simple dress fashions of that era. Her answer to my question did not intend to make me feel uncomfortable.
When my brother-in-law walked back in with his Marlboros, there were a few chuckles around the room.
“What’s so funny? Were we the butt of your jokes while I was gone?”
“Clever. No, dear. We were just talking about England and my family.”
Trudy moved the holiday along and continued. “Sit down and tell us about where you’re working now? Do you have a girlfriend?”
Trudy kept the atmosphere upbeat and had seamlessly transitioned the conversation to someone else. This British adopted aunt certainly did add to the family. Like the moon, Trudy reflected light in our life and made us all a little brighter.