Saturday, February 28, 2009

It’s Okay to Cry with Your Mom at the Movies 3

As I followed the final scenes, I tried to analyze what turns on the tear faucet at certain movies. It must be that raw celluloid emotion falling off the screen as fast as the tears dribbling from my nose. We go for a diversion and pay to cry. Why is it sometimes easier to conceal tears in real life than in a darkened theater? Here the face is illuminated only by reflections from the screen, not by someone else’s eyes …

motionally exhausted yet refreshed, I was already thinking ahead, planning my escape as the show ended.

I hoped the credits would be ridiculously windy, long enough to sit through and regain my composure. By now, I cursed myself for not carrying any tissues and for wearing sleeves far too short to serve as handkerchiefs.

“How am I going to blow my nose before the flood carries it away?” I thought nervously.

It seemed almost everyone else had the same idea, lingering and pretending to stretch as the long credits inched their way before our bloodshot eyes. As wetness clouded and smeared my vision, I knew those of us wearing glasses had a greater challenge. Even when the lights came up, I couldn’t clean them too soon or I would have made a spectacle of myself. Praying the fog would evaporate in the air conditioning, I watched fuzzy people walk past us.

What theater were we in? Would we have to walk in a crowded lobby, red-eyed and sniffling? I remembered we were in the last one at the end, luckily right by the door.

Still sitting in silence, I was already planning my strategy as I rebrushed my fingers along a puffy cheek.

If my mother and I acted quickly, we could exit and scan the asphalt and sun-baked cars, pretending to be momentarily blinded by the bright light. That’s enough to make your eyes water. Then I would think of something funny and fast-forward past one of the most moving and emotional screen stories I had ever witnessed. That’s when I would finally clear my throat and announce, “Oh, I can’t wait until it comes out on video.”

It was time. We would have to leave. But first we’d have to face each other, admitting that we had succumbed to a heavy, yet healthy dose of cinema sentimentality.

Suddenly, that wasn’t so bad, shedding a few tears in front of my mother. It was just a silly old love story, but that’s the best kind, the one you should share with someone you love. I couldn’t have picked a better companion.

I felt something being pressed into my hand. A gift from a generous benefactor? A blessing from a great humanitarian?

No, just a clean dry tissue from Mom. Thank goodness, she still knows how to wipe my tears away.

(And what movie was it? "The Bridges of Madison County.")

Friday, February 27, 2009

It’s Okay to Cry with Your Mom at the Movies 2

It was just over that halfway point that I realized this film was not going to be just sappy. It was going to be sad, the kind of gut-wrenching, on-screen personal agony that sucks the tears out of even the hardiest audience members. Unfortunately, I was going to be one of them.

Please, I know how this is going to end, so let me get it out of my mind before the waterfall starts. Oh, no, too late. Who needs the current rating system? I want tissue ratings, 1T, 2T, 3T or BYOB (bring your own box) …

A person can only swallow hard so many times before the liquid starts leaking from the eyes and nose. A hand slyly tries to sneak up the side of the face to wipe away tears under the pretense of scratching. That wouldn’t be so bad, but when the nose starts running, a person has few options: sniffle, blow, or silently drown.

Suddenly, I wished I were anywhere but here. The unbearable afternoon humidity outside the air conditioned film sanctuary was almost inviting as the movie progressed, pulling me deeper and deeper into the emotional turmoil. I twisted my head slightly to either side, up and down, searching the bare walls for anything to focus on but the screen. But it was extremely difficult as the movie reached its climax and did its job, compelling me to watch.

Mercifully, someone broke the silence with sniffles. Breathing again, I knew this was my chance to conceal my own by prying my rubber soles off the sticky floor simultaneously. But I was distracted by a nearby wheezing. Did it come from a few rows ahead, directly behind or next to me? I knew I had heard that familiar sniffle before as my shoes peeled themselves from the remnants of movie-goers past.

More tomorrow …

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It’s Okay to Cry with Your Mom at the Movies 1

Here's another essay I found from a decade ago …

I'd matured past the age of skinned knees and bruised egos. That’s when Mom could easily wipe away the tears.

Now I’m into sprained ankles and seeking sanity in the real world. Mom doesn’t see me cry much these days. That could be because we live a state apart.

Many grown children like me want to believe we are adult enough not to cry in front of our parents, unless something terrible has happened and crying is the only natural response.

We like to believe we control our emotions … most of the time. But some movies crumble the facade.

The film my mother and I wanted to see had been labeled a tear-jerker, but I felt brave that day. However, I was having my doubts as the theater complex came into view. I wished I hadn’t overstuffed my jeans’ pockets with a small billfold and a ring of keys, leaving no room for essentials like tissues.

I was beginning to tally the other coming attractions on a second hand when a hush signaled the opening scene of our feature presentation …

“It’s kind of dragging here, isn’t it?” Mom whispered, 45 minutes into the movie.

“No, this is the perfect build-up to make the inevitable believable. You have to understand the roots of the relationship before it can happen. Even in fiction or film, you have to believe it can happen. That’s what captures your emotion.”

That’s what I wanted to say, but only shrugged in response.

More tomorrow …

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Meanest mom in the world #2

Ah, the rest of the …


I, Gordo, hereby proclaim I have the meanest mother in the world. Here are the reasons:

5. She makes me feed and take care of my pets. (She has enough trouble feeding and and taking care of me.)

6. She won’t let me spend hours watching television or playing computer games. (She’s sure aliens are sending rays through the TV and computer to control my mind.)

7. She won’t let me keep digging a big hole on the side of the house. (She knows she’ll be the first one who falls into it.)

8. She overwhelms me with love, hugs and kisses. (She knows I’m at the age where I act like that stuff is yucky — at least in front of other people.)

I attest to the above statements, proclaiming that my mother is indeed the meanest mother in the world.

And I'm still proud of that distinction to this very day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meanest mom in the world #1

As I mentioned the other day, my baby is 26, my only child, the source of the lovely shades of silver in my hair …

He and I are good friends, in addition to that mom-son stuff. However, I did test those boundaries more than a decade ago when I worked very hard to find ways to remind him I was his mom first, then a friend. In his frustration, I went ahead and composed something for him to sign … another example of just how wonderful a mom I was, I am, I will always be.


I, Gordo, hereby proclaim I have the meanest mother in the world. Here are the reasons for this proclamation:

1. She forces me to eat half-way healthy foods. (It’s part of a genetic defect in the motherly species.)

2. She makes me do my homework. (It precedes the lecture on “work hard and you’ll get far in this world.”)

3. She makes me do extra math. (It precedes the lecture on “have a little self-discipline and you’ll get far in this world.”)

4. She makes me take a shower and change clothes almost every day. (She can only hold her nose for so long.)

See the rest of the reasons tomorrow …

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy birthday George #2

The rest of my conversation with George Washington …

“Listen, George, I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson when he addressed the women’s rights convention in 1855 and told them, quote ‘women … more vulnerable, more infirm, more mortal than men … by this and their social influence, the civilizers of mankind’ unquote.”

“I see. So what are you women doing in these so-called modern times?”

“Oh, just about everything. Two have sat on the Supreme Court … Oh, George, pick up your wooden teeth. They just fell out. And a woman was even on the vice presidential position on a major ticket in the 1980s, and you should have seen Hillary and Sarah ready to duke it out last year to get into the White House. We’ve had women in the Senate and the House, and not cleaning them either. There are female governors, mayors. We’ve come a long way, baby!”

“Long way, baby?”

“Yes, one of those advertising slogans that defined a generation of women who said they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take anymore. And that was from a movie. Yep, we had women marching for equal rights, burning their bras —”

“Burning their what?”

“Unmentionables, George. We even had a theme song in the 70’s, ‘I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore.’ We’ve made lots of strides, but you founding fathers sure didn’t make it easy for us.”

“Is there nothing women do now that they did 200 years ago?”

“Some of it even better, George. Join me for some cherry pie and I’ll tell you all about it …”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy birthday George #1

During research, I’ve been frustrated and fascinated by the history of women in America. I better understand what my poor foremothers had to endure.

And if I had the chance, I’d have a talk with the father of our country, George Washington, about it.

When he arrives, I’m sure he’ll ask, “So what has happened to the United States since I died in 1799?”

“Have a seat and let me catch you up on all the news. Want a Pepsi? Oh, I’m sorry, tea was about your speed. You know, George, you did a lot of great things for our country, but you made one big mistake.”

“What was that?”

“You should have had Abigail Adams as your vice president.”

“A woman?”

“Yes, a woman, and a darn smart one, too. During the birth of our nation, she warned her husband John to quote ‘not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands’ unquote. But did he listen? No. And we had to wait almost 150 years for the right to vote.”

“Women vote? But how is that possible, that isn’t a woman’s place.”

“Well, it is now. In your time, it was assumed by most people that women were naturally subordinate to men in intellect as well as bodily strength. But old Abigail had the right idea when she said women have different capabilities and spheres, but they’re not inferior to men.”

“What an outrageous thought!”

To be continued …

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I saved lives

This coming July marks my husband's and my 30th wedding anniversary and 35 years since we first met. I'm probably thinking summer because I'm tired of the cold. And I'll complain in July because I'll be too dang hot.

Somehow we've survived and actually like each other in addition to that love thing. We've never seriously considered divorce … and besides, I would have misplaced that documentation long ago in my obsessive over-accumulation of paperwork. That's my weakness. Had to have at least one vice since I don't smoke or drink alcohol or coffee. No wonder I burned out in the newspaper field years ago.

Despite the clutter, I have crafted my own little working world within our simple home the past 17 years. Despite the piles of paper it takes for all my books, the two cats running amok, my scatterbrained approach to organization, a kitchen that's been in a state of remodeling for about four years, my odd hours and sooooooo much more, my husband says I give him stability.

Stability. Imagine that. I'm flattered.

He explained that he would have become a mercenary if he hadn’t met and married me.

So, you nasty people out in the world had better thank me. I saved your lives!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Teach your children well

My 26-year-old son stopped by the other day to give me a hug, tell me he loves me, and to use my washer and dryer. At least I taught him how to do his own laundry many years ago …

Look at the bedroom clock
I can’t find a matching sock;
I’ll really be late for school
And going barefoot isn’t cool.

Is this sock yours or mine?
It’s the only one I could find.
The dryer is hungry today,
Eating everything in its way.

I’ve searched all over the floor
And I can’t push open the door.
Laundry baskets are everywhere,
At least I have clean underwear.

My school picture is today
And I can’t wear yucky gray;
This outfit will never match,
Please wash another batch.

I found this under my bed,
It used to be bright red.
Now my best white shirt is pink
And my jeans are starting to shrink.

What do you mean I have to sort?
That’s harder than a school report.
Do I use hot, warm or cold,
I have to know before I’m old.

How much soap does it take?
As much flour as to bake?
Will five cups be enough
To clean all this dirty stuff?

Why must I do as I’m told?
All these clothes I have to fold?
Let me hide them in the drawer
And we won’t worry anymore.

Hangers are so much fun
You have to have more than one
To twist and turn all around,
Look at all these great toys I found!

When I’m grown up, big and tall,
Don’t be surprised if I should call,
Asking what to do with my clothes
Because only a mother knows.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Romance isn't dead #2

Memories of romance 10 years ago …

One night, my hubby and I found ourselves driving around trying to decide where to go to dinner. I wasn’t all that hungry and he couldn’t decide what he wanted either. Cruising in my purple pickup truck, we watched the fall darkness descend as we journeyed the countryside.

Though not frustrated, I gave up on his ability to make decisions this late on a Friday night. I pulled into a small grocery store halfway in the middle of nowhere. My plan was simple. We’d get something from the deli and take it home.

As we walked to the front door in the warm night air, our hands slipped together as we cruised the produce aisle. We checked out the soda flavors cooling in the refrigerator case. We sniffed the lingering scents of the morning bakery rush. And we stopped at the freezer section. Wow. Things had changed a lot since the days of root beer and fries.

With our arms full, we checked out and got back into the truck. I started unwrapping everything and he asked what I was doing.

Something we hadn’t done in a long time.

Under the parking lot light, we made sandwiches and listened to oldies that were oldies when we young. We laughed and gave up trying to snuggle. Bucket seats just aren’t conducive to that sort of behavior. But we talked about what was and what was to be.

This moment assured me that I had made the right decision 24 years ago when I agreed to go out on a date with that senior with the mesmerizing eyes and muscular forearms. I was positive I had made the right decision to meet him at the altar more than 19 years ago. I was positive I had made the right decision to stop at the deli.

Laughing like the 16 and 17 year olds we were once in body and continue to be at heart, we knew the romance had never really died. It may have taken naps through the years, but those only served to refresh us for a night like this.

A night when we forgot the world around us, the responsibilities awaiting us, the 16-year-old son who had better not be having the fun we were having.

Yes, we gave into our passions.

We whipped out a pair of plastic spoons and shared a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Low fat, of course. Who says romance is dead?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Romance isn't dead #1

With Valentine's Day here, I found an observation I wrote a decade ago about a memorable evening my husband and I had …

Romance isn’t dead. It’s just been misplaced in that household bin between the dirty and clean laundry.

When that dark-haired, skinny kid and I started dating 24 years ago this fall, little did I know we’d be counting calories and silver hairs nearly a quarter century later. Of course, he knew it. On the day we met, he told his mother he had met the girl he was going to marry. Me, I was just sixteen and had never been kissed and never had any intentions of sprouting gray hair.

Life was simpler in those five years until we bumped into each other at the altar. Romance seemed simpler when we were engaged. It would prove to be much more challenging under mortgage payments, piles of dirty socks and an overly energetic baby boy in the 19 years that would follow.

Once upon a time, when we had a little money in the pockets of our tight jeans, we’d cruise in for curb service at our favorite hot dog stand. There we’d order root beer and French fries and make a meal out of it. We’d feed each other and laugh, and snuggle up close in the big old front seat of his parents’ Ford LTD. That was romance. Maybe because it was so simple. Maybe because it was so new. Or was it because we didn’t know any better. A little of all three.

I can see why so many couples drift apart. Marriage is not easy. At my 20th year class reunion in 1996, I had moved right up near the top among the members who had been married the longest. Other high school sweethearts had loved and divorced. My love, my marriage, my husband, my sanity were still intact.

Some years were more difficult than others. That seventh year was a killer. And after all this time, I can’t remember any advice on this great institution that was imparted by my elders. It was on-the-job training. Still is.

And sometimes you need a refresher course. Maybe it’s when you look at each other and see the changes. Maybe it’s when you look at the calendar and realize you’ve just started the 20th year of marital mayhem and madness. Maybe it’s when you realize your only child will leave for college in two years and all you’ll have is each other to stare at and pick up after. Talk about a reality check …

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Titanic memory

I can't believe it's been 11 years ago this Valentine's Day that my husband and I went to see "Titanic" at the theater. I was a HUGE fan and saw it numerous times. Perhaps the silliest thing I did was stand outside the store to buy the movie when it came out on VHS (remember that technology?) at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 1, 1998. It was a night I had to commit to paper a decade ago …

My husband didn’t believe me. My son laughed it off. I hadn’t done anything this wild and crazy in years.

I stayed up past my bedtime to buy the Titanic video at 12:01 the day it went on sale. Sure, I could’ve stood in line at 10 the next morning, but I wanted it now. I wanted to hold it close and keep it … "safe in my heart" … and get the free calendar.

I’m not one of those screaming teenagers who swoons over Leonardo DiCaprio. I went for the sappy love story. I went to memorize the pace of the music with the action. I went to witness the best and worse in mankind. I went because it was there.

I confess. I saw it six times in the theater. I even gave my 16-year old the money to see it, warning him to close his eyes when Rose drops her robe. I only have half my office ceiling plastered with images of Jack and Rose. I only have two copies of the soundtrack, the “Back to Titanic” CD, several other compilations, and the Broadway musical.

Call me a fanatic or simply crazy, but I had to be there because … "every night in my dreams, I could see it, I could feel it." I had to see the other obsessed people … "near, far, wherever they are." When I arrived at the store at 11:25 p.m. there were 30 people in line. By the time the doors opened, there would be at least a hundred more devotees behind me … "once more," ready to open the door.

You meet some mighty interesting people at midnight. Husbands sent by wives. Couples embracing each other … "to never let go" till the tapes were gone. Teenagers who just wanted to be there because … "there’s nothing they fear" … except the alarm clock the next morning.

For small talk, somebody mentions how gorgeous a night it is, as clear a night as the ship sank. A young man wants to be sure the store really will sell the video at 12:01. One woman declares the only other thing she’d ever stand in line for would be Beanie Babies. The guy behind me couldn’t believe there’d be this many people in line to buy “Barney’s Great Adventure.” Another woman near the front of the line screams the two-minute warning and our palms start to sweat.

Time slows. You can feel the ocean mist whipping your hair. You can taste the first-class champagne sliding down your throat. You can hear Rose’s hand slapping the car window. You can smell the iceberg that the lookout missed. You can see the throngs of people running for their lives.

No, wait! That’s the rush of the crowd to get in the doors to grab videos. Hey, buddy, your purple dinosaur can wait! Give me my wide-screen disaster … "my tape will go on and on" …

Why on earth did I fall for a movie my mother has zero interest in seeing? Maybe it was because my husband and I saw it for the first time on Valentine’s Day. Maybe it was because he was teary-eyed when we left the theater. Maybe it was because he embraced me and told me he’d do the same thing for me because he loved me so much. Talk about romantic. Forget the candy. Forget the flowers. Forget dinner out. The man I loved would throw me up on a door and float along beside me, clutching my hand until the bitterly cold end.

And by God, if he would do that for me, I could stand in line at midnight for the video, as long as I didn’t make waves when I climbed aboard the water bed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Upcoming coping books

I've got several new books in the works to continue the "Help Me Cope & Survive!" The volume on Alzheimer's, dementia and memory loss came out in 2008, and 2009 is full of new titles, including separate volumes on brain injuries, strokes, brain tumors-brain cancer, and children's catastrophic injuries and illnesses.

I've had INCREDIBLE conversations with families and individuals who have experienced the aforementioned conditions. These books are going to be very powerful tools in coping with these challenging life events, and these are becoming the primary focus of my writing efforts nowadays.

What I need are some more responses to the surveys that are posted on my website:

Or you can contact me at or toll-free 877-267-4640.

Please help me get the word out because the need is so great, and one person's story can truly make a difference in countless other lives.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Take this job and shove it 5

More memories …

I baked 3,000 cookies to greet my son after school. I guess I was making up for lost time since he had never ridden the bus home to be greeted by a cheery mother. The cookies would be ready but don't count on a chipper matriarch this early in her unemployed career.

I took a four-hour shower to see if I could try out for Pruneface in the next Dick Tracy movie. Not being chased out by husband and son after two minutes was a new experience. Then I drained the river a little more by washing 100 loads of laundry, catching up on all the clothes my son outgrew two years ago.

I listened to my favorite music as loud as I wanted because I couldn't at work. I turned on the television set and watched cartoons all by myself and laughed out loud. I wore out my thumb and the remote control batteries by changing channels all afternoon.

Yes, it was me and I'm proud of it. It's my lump of coal and I'll burn it if I want to.

The first week of unemployment was nearly complete and I was manic, the adrenaline pumping me up. This vacation was short-lived as I charted my life's course. My husband stared as I rushed through the house.

"Honey, your voice has that nervous crack in it. I'm worried about you," he said.

"I'll be OK in a few thousand days."

Reality was settling in but I was almost too busy to notice. I had become a woman obsessed with a mission. I was opening my own business and ready for a new challenge. I would be my own boss. I found myself in a whirlwind on the telephone and running from the printer to the bank to the supply store and every point in-between. And I was the happiest I had been in years.

I would succeed. I had to succeed. My cat was depending on me.

Just sign me Mrs. X because I don't want too many people to know the horrible misfortune that had befallen me. Of course, I am the one dancing in the street.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Take this job and shove it 4

More memories of getting fired 17 years ago …

After drying my tears for the 10th time, I felt brave enough to wake up my son, who was so thrilled to have a full-time mother again, or perhaps for the first time. I had better start him out on the right track.

"Good morning to you,
You live in a zoo.
I'm home every day now,
Just to bother you."

He just covered his head and rolled over. Dealing with a full-time mother might not be such a fun proposition after all.

So what? Now I'm inspired. I'll go into advertising and create some great campaigns.

"Lose your job? Lose weight, your appetite, hours of sleep and move into the Zombie State, where folks just like you can wonder aimlessly and without obligation. Bumper pads available at no additional cost."

Humor us unemployed — the shiftless and the slipless. Oh, well, I guess I don't need to go out and buy that new slip for work now.

And now the latest from the stock market.

"Stock in panty hose took a major plunge in trading yesterday after an unexplained and significant drop in sales. Analysts are still trying to untangle the panic situation. If sales continue their spiral, it could spell the end of the industry and how it is run."

The energy company reported unusual activity this week.

"Consumption of gas and electricity nearly doubled yesterday. There was an unexplained demand on the system which nearly created massive brown-outs throughout the city. Speculation included excessive use of stoves for baking, gas to heat water, and electricity to power clothes dryers and stereo sound systems. More details at 10."

Yes, it was me.

More tomorrow …

Friday, February 6, 2009

Take this job and shove it 3

More memories of being fired …

So what you do your first day out of work?

You try to wade through boxes of junk moved from one environment to another, fight valiantly to stay out of the frig, and keep a box of tissues close at nose. In my closet I found two company T-shirts. I think I'll put an ad in the company newsletter: "For sale: Two company T-shirts, hardly worn. No sentimental value attached. Call 555-5555."

The morning after, I sat on the toilet lid and cried while my husband showered. The bathroom seemed the natural place to cry with the rush of nature at hand.

He got out, dried off, quickly dressed and repeated how much he loved me. Finally, he took my hand and held it high above my head as I stared through the tears.

"Huh?" I whined.

"Don't cry for all the ex-NFL coaches. They can do product endorsements," he declared.

Ah, yes, I could see my new career now. I could peddle pens (I had enough to fill an office supply store). I could endorse erasers (you never can have too many after chewing them of your pencils). I could fumble file folders (see how they can be reused and the sturdy doodling space they offer).

A sense of relief suddenly energized my brain and I had to laugh. And why not? It was my first full day of unobligated freedom in almost 12 years. Sure, we'd have to trim expenses for a while, but I'd be foolish to overlook my first true vacation in 12 years. I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do today.

"Honey, since you're home for the day, can you pick up the shirts at the cleaners, stop at the grocery store and don't forget the garbage bags. The sink really is overflowing and I'm just about out of socks. I used the last washcloth this morning. Oh, and don't forget to refill the ice cube trays, water filter and make sure you don't leave the light on in the microwave. Every time I walk in the kitchen, it's on. Don't forget the cat food. He's depending on you."

And he wondered why I turned on the waterworks again …

More tomorrow …

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Take this job and shove it 2

More memories from getting fired …

I knew how I would spend my first few days at home. It would take me that long to try all the markers and pens I had accumulated over the years to see which ones still worked. And they were all mine, not company issue, ones I had purchased because I was picky about my writing utensils. Two fistfuls of markers had accentuated my creative energies. Now I could draw my own conclusions in life.

The paper clips belonged to the company but the magnetic holder was mine. The plastic stacking files were mine so I had to pull out everything and leave it in a big pile. What a shame. Wait, the colored folders were mine. Keep your plain, boring ones.

I never realized how many notepads I had accumulated over the years. From humorous to insulting, they offered an appropriate comment for any mood any day. Where do I find the one that sums up my feelings this day?

The anxiety and anticipation was building as I peeled the personalized, automatic number labels off my phone. I had used speed dial for so long and now I would be at the mercy of a telephone book and my memory.

After pulling my name off the in/out board, I stoically exited.

And what did I forget? My frozen dinners in the freezer. Hey, those things aren't cheap!

More tomorrow …

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Take this job and shove it 1

The recent headlines have been stunning and depressing … all the businesses closing and the huge rounds of layoffs and firings. I worry about family and friends here and around the country and the hardships in general that we'll face as a country.

Sometimes I wonder if we need a startling jolt to wake us up to our personal role in the world, to live life a new way rather than just go through those cliché motions of everyday life.

I had that wake-up call 17 years ago when I was fired from the job I thought I had loved and would likely occupy the rest of my life. I had no big ambitions. I was comfortable … well, maybe not as much as I thought in the immediate aftermath. I stumbled across some disjointed notes of that transition …

I lost my job the other day and I hope I never find it.

Everyone tells me I'll be a better person for it.

I might believe them in a week, wait, maybe a year.

I wanted to cry, laugh, punch someone's lights out, dance in the streets, blame myself, blame someone else, run and hide or announce it to the world. Oh, what the heck, I just wanted to live again.

For the first time in 12 years I was free. I was free of the emotional toll this occupation had taken. Its demands had robbed me of time with my family, drained my physical health and threatened my emotional well-being.

I wondered why I remained as long as I had. I had lost interest in work, love and life in recent months. It had become automatic, dampening my creative energy. I wanted to quit but was too chicken. What would I do? I had my dreams, but better yet, I had a husband who would gladly support us.

My termination came as no surprise, though you're still caught off guard somewhat. The job and I had grown up and gone our separate ways. I had wanted to leave for some time. As I examined my feelings about the meaning and purpose of life in recent months, I knew there was more than what I was doing 45 to 50 hours a week in the work zone.

I worked with a lot of great people, though there were a few I hoped I would never see again except at the end of a gangplank in my own pirate movie.

Leaving was not so hard to do. They wanted to spare me the embarrassment of exiting in front of my co-workers and employees, but I talked to several people as I tackled the depths of my desk and filing cabinet drawers.

Pieces of my life began to unfold. Broken pencils, three-year-old memos, unfinished bags of potato chips and cookies, business cards from businesses that had closed long ago, and unopened cans of fruit and soup. (Just how long do those things keep?)

It was like the last mile, wishing I had more time, wishing I had done some cleaning a long time ago. Yet, I was energized by volumes of memories. It would be tough to catalogue all them …

More tomorrow …

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Valentine's Day past 4

And the final memories of Valentine's Day 17 years ago …

It warmed my heart and made me chuckle as my husband and I walked behind them when we later left the ice cream shop. They held hands as we walked in the darkness illuminated by the streetlights and moonlight.

As we took her home, my son put his hand on his companion’s back as if to protect her as he walked her to the door. He gave her a hug. Short, sweet, nothing elaborate.

The whirlwind night had started with a discussion of homework and ended with this. As my son and I unlocked the front door at home, he looked up at me beneath the floppy coat hood and orange stocking cap and said, “I hugged her, Mom.”

“I know, honey.” I drew him to me and felt the warmest I ever had in the February wind and rain.

“C’mon, Mom,” he said inside, leaving a trail of winter clothing behind him. “Let's sort through the Valentine’s candy!”

This Valentine’s Day would be the biggest haul both of us would ever make. Our hearts were full.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Valentine's Day past 3

More on Valentine's Day 17 years ago …

I don’t remember much about when I was nine or 10. I was too busy playing softball and basketball with the boys on the playground to pay much attention to nature’s gift or curse of puppy love. I could spar with the best of them throughout grade school and only gave it up in junior high because recess wasn’t part of the curriculum.

But all my schooling had not prepared me for a night like this.

The simple act of liking someone was in its purest form this night. The deep-rooted feelings of love are wrapped up in innocence before it becomes complicated and fragile. At this age, it is in a delicate state, warm fuzzies mean a lot and the fear of rejection starts early.

What I experienced watching my young man in action put my feelings in a whole new dimension.

My baby, my little man. While I panicked at the prospect of him growing up, deeper inside me I felt a sense of relief, of comfort. He was well-mannered, considerate, fun-loving, a listener, a talker, a truly caring human being. Somehow it made me feel stronger and self-confident, that I was doing okay as a parent, as a human being …

More tomorrow …

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Valentine's Day past 2

More on Valentine's Day 17 years ago …

Baby cheeks were long gone, replaced by a handsome young profile and just one dimple when he smiled. His glasses accentuated his vibrant eyes instead of masking them. His eyes were like mine, bright green in the morning and a darker shade as the day wore on. Just by looking at the color chart in our eyes, his father could always tell when we were tired.

Our son had curly eyelashes that his grandmothers envied. His pudgy little nose was a duplicate of mine, but the mouth was his father’s, most often racing in the open gear. Except this night.

His voice was low and quiet, rid of the argumentative tone from the day before, but one I knew I’d hear again. His words were carefully chosen and honest. It was amazing what charm one little lady had over one little man, my little boy.

I studied this girl who had spellbound him. She was quite pretty, dark eyes, a smooth thin face, three inches taller than her escort, and she was a year older.

Yes, my little boy had fallen for an older woman. Notes from her were taped to his bedroom door. Her picture had a prominent spot in a small frame next to his bed. But if you called her his girlfriend, he quickly corrected you.

“She’s a friend who’s a girl.”

Some of the kids teased him mercilessly about his “girlfriend.” It was painful, but I told him to ignore them. If she was just a friend, fine, then be friends and ignore what those other knuckleheads have to say. Of course, that’s easier for a mother to say 23 years after she had been that age …

More tomorrow …