Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time Traveler--Pants Are NOT Optional, and Other Awkward Encounters

I was talking to someone the other day about "most embarrassing moments".  While I have a few that happened while I was a teen or adult (and some that can't even be told--yes, they're THAT bad), the one that stands out as my first "most embarrassing moment" will always be there for me.  Like so many other awkward childhood memories…and a couple of examples of WHY I could have forgotten to wear pants.

Me, Christmas 1979, in long johns, which apparently qualified as "pants", even when visiting my aunt

Here I am, Christmas 1978 at home, with my matching 'mini me'.  Did we EVER wear pants?

To fully appreciate this particular story, here is some background:  You should know that I grew up in the hippied-out 70s and early 80s, and we lived all back to nature, Mother-Earth-News style, for most of my childhood, so I didn’t have a lot of stuff that regular (or as I called them--"city") kids had.  Like running water or indoor plumbing.  Or electricity.  Or a car with any working gauges or seat belts.  Speak n' Spell.  Sidewalks.  TV.  Kraft mac n' cheese…*sigh*   Oh, sure…we were way more uptown than, say, my friends who lived in teepees and school buses (yes, really…), but still way, way beneath the other neighbors, who had TV, a real bathtub, skateboards (with cement to ride them on), a waterbed (be still, my heart), and 3-wheelers!  It was like lifestyles of the rich and famous over there.
They had things that looked like this
and ...
THIS.  Seriously.  I was in awe.
Those particular neighbors also had two sons slightly older than me.  We all went to the same church and, since they lived in our neck of the woods (yes, we called it that), we did a lot of social stuff together, like truly magical midnight sledding parties on New Years' Eve, Bible studies, and fireworks picnics on the 4th, (with actual explosives provided by another neighbor, a crazy Viet Nam vet who was a demolitions expert.)  Yeah… good times.

Anyway, we seemed to be at their house a lot, and their youngest son was my first official grade-school crush (and also my first real kiss, later on), which meant there was all that related angst going on for me, whenever we were there.

Their two boys and I weren't close enough to actually be friends, and I always felt painfully shy and awkward around them, because they just seemed like super-lucky rich kids to me.  I mean…skateboards?  TV?  Paved parking area?  I felt like a wild aborigine hairball from the back woods, whenever I was at their house.

Judging from the photos above, I wasn't really that far off, was I?

Of course our parents must have just figured, we're all kids, right?--so we must automatically be all fine hanging out together.  So we'd get there, and the moms would be all "OK..You kids go play…" and I'd be standing there like, "What? I don't even know these boys.  Why am I even HERE?" 
Their kitchen had THESE doors, so I couldn't even hide behind them
Also, dear readers, bear in mind than when I use the term "neighbors"…for that neighborhood, a "neighbor" was anyone within 2 miles.  This family was one mile away, so it wasn't like I could just walk home in a huff.

This particular family also were kind (or condescending?...or imposed-on?) enough to also allow us to use their bathtub every so often.  Yes…their bathtub.  And no, we didn't really know them well enough for this situation to be comfortable (for me, anyway).  But, you know, little hippie kids who live in houses without walls or water or lights tend to get pretty dirty, I imagine--so every week or so, I'd find my 9-year-old self sitting in this clean, beautiful, modern bathroom  (door securely locked), with the bathtub full of hot water right out of the faucet, wondering how I could possibly be casual about coming out of their bathroom with a towel on my head.  Like I could somehow manage to NOT look like I just used their tub. 
This kind of thing seemed SO fancy at the time
It was sort of surreal…like, wonderful to have that whole beautiful white bathtub to myself (instead of an outdoor shower), but at the same time, it was also super embarrassing to be 9 and still know that somehow you're being treated like some kind of charity case.  Or at least, that's how it felt to me…

All this to say that, you can imagine how much I struggled to maintain any dignity around those boys.  I didn't like them knowing I had used their bathtub.  I hated them for having TV to watch after school, and white bread for lunch.  I didn't know how to ride a skateboard, but I fooled them with that old childhood standby:  "Oh, I know how to ride a skateboard.  I just don't feel like it, right now."
Is is time to go home yet?
Which brings me to my First Most Embarrassing Moment. 

It was winter, and I don't know what the occasion was, but it was a gathering of a bunch of people at their house, so I'm thinking it was the Christmas or New Year's sledding party or something.   Mom was hurrying us to get ready, and everyone who lives where it's winter as a kid knows that you dress in layers if you're going to be outside sledding at night.  So, we dressed and piled in the van and went over there, with me already feeling anxious about going.  Any group of strangers (even neighbors), always made me feel like a shy, homely, little out-of-place freak (which I totally was).  Plus, I felt like they were all "There's that girl who uses our bathtub."

We walked in, and I took off my coat, and it must have seemed colder than I expected or something, because I remember looking down at my legs and seeing…JUST TIGHTS.  OH MY GOSH, WHERE ARE MY PANTS???  

I forgot... my... pants.  What the actual heck? What kind of hurry were we IN?

So, there I was, standing  in front of a whole holiday party of grownups and assorted kids who were all (I was sure) socially superior to me, wearing a shirt, my winter boots, and just…tights?!?  I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, or the power to go out.  Anything.  I can't remember if anyone laughed, but I was sure they were. 
Guys.  Maybe I was just AHEAD OF MY TIME, right?
Yeah.  Well, back in my day day, that outfit was unheard of.

What I do remember is my mom and the hostess saying, "Oh, this is no big deal at all, honey.  You're about the same age as Daniel (their younger son).  We'll just get some of HIS pants for you to wear."  Yes.  Do that.  That will definitely make me feel better about this situation.  I can't remember what was worse, the idea of being there without pants (which felt only slightly less embarrassing  than standing there in front of everyone in just my flowery little-girl underwear), or the thought of borrowing this boy's jeans.  

They overruled my mortified and strenuous objections and got me a pair of this kid's jeans.  I remember having it made clear to me that of course a mile was too far to drive me back home to get my own pants. Why??  I don't even know, but I remember wondering what the heck, guys?? Just take me home, for the love of God.  You can just leave me there…But, no…I didn't get to go home.  Maybe it was a short party? Maybe I didn't make it clear how traumatic it was.  Maybe they seriously thought it wasn't that big of a deal…but it got worse.

The pants they brought me were huge on me.  I was built like a twig back then, so this boy's jeans seemed about one thousand sizes too big.  The grownups solved that problem by having someone handily fashion me a "belt", probably out of baling twine.  Seriously.  I reallyreallyreally remember it being rope of some kind, cinched up in a BIG, ATTRACTIVE KNOT.

So, there I was, with my best Christmas shirt and winter tights on, wearing what looked like Huck Finn's blue jeans, cinched up with a rope belt…all bunchy and baggy…ready to part-ay.

Like this, only not smiling.  And without the fun props.  Also, a GIRL

I was so embarrassed that I fled to their (fortunately somehow empty) TV room for the entire evening and hid myself by curling up on the corner of the couch in there for the whole evening, hoping no one would come in that room.  I don't think I moved from that spot all night. 

I survived it, of course, and now it seems funny, but this still stands out as my first public feeling of total humiliation, with the added embarrassment of being forced to wear my crush's pants.  I don't even remember the rest of the evening, what the party was about, or whether I wore his pants home--I bet I did.

Who knows if he ever got them back...

Something just occurred to me while writing this, which is that I have spent pretty much the rest of my life living in leggings and big t-shirts.  So, maybe I started a trend or something...(but please, learn how to wear them).

Isn't it strange how a couple of hours on one evening of one winter when you're 9 can stay with you forever? Ever show up somewhere TOTALLY dressed wrong?

Monday, April 14, 2014

NO Name-Dropping in Restaurants and Other Things I Shouldn't Have To Tell You

Like This.  Only WAY less interesting.
First rule of thumb:  If you go to a restaurant and like to name-drop and talk LOUDLY OVER EVERYONE about yourself, your income, your cars, your vacations, your kids, etc., etc., puh-leese, don't be surprised at all if everyone in the room seems to hate you.  We are not impressed.  We don't wish we were you.  You are just making yourself look like an insufferable jerk.

If you see this look, it isn't envy.  Stop kidding yourself.
We don't go out for dinner much any more, but every once in awhile, we'll just...go.  One of my very favorite places around is this tiny Greek/Mediterranean place that serves my Favorite Dish in the Whole World Ever:  chicken ravioli--which is actually cheese ravioli surrounded by a cream sauce that makes you melt, floating with chunks of soft chicken and feta cheese and Parmesan flakes.  And bread to dip in the sauce.  Heaven.

UNfortunately for us, it is also kind of a hip hot spot for the Who's Who in our area to gather and NAME DROP VERY LOUDLY OVER DRINKS, because it's a martini bar, too, and apparently martinis don't mix well with the concept of CAN YOU PLEASE NOT TALK SO LOUD THAT EVERYONE IN THIS WHOLE TINY ROOM HAS TO HEAR EVERY NAME-DROPPING RICHY-RICH WORD YOU SAY?????

So...a lot of the diners are dates and business dinners and girls-night-out type stuff, which is fine (except for the ubiquitous table of three divorcees laughing way too loud over their wine glasses).  When you throw in a bunch of martini-swilling local Main Streeters, in a room the size of most people's bedroom, elbow-to-elbow, it can get a little claustrophobic and irritating, like having a sliver in your shoe, but you CAN'T stop and take it out.  Sometimes I just order the dish to go and bring it home to enjoy it in peace and quiet.

But--we went the other night, as a treat.  We were seated in a corner, next to a table of four business-y types in probably their late 40s.  There is always music there in the background, but it's never nearly loud enough, so you basically get to listen to whoever's at the next table TALKING VERY LOUDLY OVER DRINKS.  It was super annoying, and since we couldn't hear our own conversation over the sound of theirs, we turned it into a game, where we sort of joined their conversation from our table, sotto voce.  It didn't help that the woman sitting closest to us, who did most of the REALLY LOUD NAME DROPPING, also had just about the most cringeworthy, whiny, nasally voice, possibly in the history of the whole world EVER.

This all seriously happened, right next to my elbow:

Me:  So, I talked to my brother the other night.

Shane:  Oh...(distracted by 100-decibel conversation of people at next table).

Loud Woman Neighbor #1:  ...So, yes, our ESCALADE IS PAID FOR.

Loud Man Neighbor #2:  ..but what we NEED is a Corvette paid for.  Haha.  You know.  Because we need it, right?

Loud Woman Neighbor #2:  Oh, I know.  Our Z is paid for...

Loud Man Neighbor #2:  Don't forget the Lexus is also paid for.

LWN#2:  Oh, RIGHHHT.  The Lexus is paid for too.

LMN#1:  But we need a Corvette.

Shane:  When's he coming to visit?

Me:  Umm, what?  Oh.  June.

more conversation drifts over, talking about their savings...

LWN#1:  We're thinking 5 MILLION is enough, for our golden years...

LWN#2:  Oh girl, your "golden years"?? You guys aren't that old.

LWN#1:  I know, but we have to have something set aside.

LMN#2:  Yes, but 5 million?  I guess that would be enough, if it was earning interest...

LWN#1:  It's easy to have that much, because we make SO MUCH MONEY right now--we are practically using hundreds as firestarters.  (Ok, I added that part.  Don't judge.)

Shane:  What date in June?

Me:  The--

LWN#1:  YOU KNOW WHAT I MISS?  EUROPE.  And ROME.  We have GOT to get back over there.

LMN#2:  I KNOW.  Last time we were in GERMANY, they had this blah blah.

LWN#2:  I want to do another cruise.  You know, and I miss France right now, too.  Why don't we all do a cruise?

Me:  I think the 3rd of June...

Shane:  What's the 3rd of June?    What is with these people?? I can't hear myself think.

Their conversation is now about college...

LWN#1:  ...We give our son a $5,500.00 allowance during college.  FIFTY-FIVE HUNDRED.

LMN#2:  Per year?

LWN#1:  No, dear, per SEMESTER.  FIFTY-FIVE hundred.  And our daughter's at blah blah, doing blah blah.

Me:  My brother's coming. And graduation is the 8th.

Shane:  --

Waiter to Neighbors:  Is everyone ready for dessert?

We were like NO, they are NOT!  For the love of God, no dessert!!!  But was LWN#1's birthday.  So, of course, lots of applause, waiter fawning, more general loudness.

Us to ourselves:  (Oh, we're sorry.  We're just sitting right here next to you, trying to enjoy a date night and eat our dinner).

Waiter to Them:  Would you all like some more wine?

Them:  Actually, we need a round of your best COGNAC for her birthday.  And please bring EVERY DESSERT IN THE PLACE AND SOME MORE ALCOHOL BECAUSE WE NEED TO BE LOUDER IN THIS 10 X 20' ROOM.

Us:  Oh. My. Gosh.  Seriously?!?

Their conversation morphed over to a 20-minute monologue on SAMSUNG products.  Samsung phones, Samsung printers.  Samsung the company.  Samsung versus Hewlett-Packard.  Samsung's stock values.  Samsung, Samsung, SAMSUNG.  

Us:  We're out.  Can we get a box for this?

We did mess with them a little, from our table two feet away, since we couldn't have a conversation with each other.  I think they probably totally thought we were having way too much fun, judging by how much we were giggling...We pretended we were *almost* part of their group; so throughout their whole conversation, we'd interject comments that only we could hear:

Shane:  I KNOW.  We need a Corvette paid for too.  Lexus is such a boring ride.

Me:  And I think 5 million isn't nearly enough, but *sniff* if that's all you can do--you gotta start somewhere.

Shane:  We really should plan a trip to France.  AND take a cruise, too.

Me:  We could cruise to France.  Maybe they can hook us up.

Shane:  And that poor KID.  $5,500 per semester?  The nerve.

Me:  I know.  Our kids will totally have unlimited allowances at college.  Cheapskates.

Shane:  At least we'll know where to find them some SAMSUNG products.

Waiter:  Can I get you two another round?

Me:  *giggling uncontrollably while holding up one finger*  Yes.  Yes, I think so, please.

So--after all--it turned out to be a pretty fun night.  And we got a TON of food to bring home...

I can't tell you how many times I actually almost asked them to please shut UP.  One more key lime martini, and I probably would have...

Reaction GIF: shut up, despair, Megan Mullally, Karen Walker, Will & Grace
Shut. Up.

Had to get that off my chest...

Friday, April 11, 2014

So, Charlemagne

Meet my 40th great grandfather CHARLEMAGNE

So.  On my dad's maternal side, we descend from German nobility, a bunch of French, Italian, and Austrian kings and princesses, and a ton of Holy Roman Emperors/Empresses, like ALL of them.  INCLUDING Charlemagne.

Actually, when I got done tracing, there are at least SIX lines that go back to Charlemagne, and even further back to some King Clodius of the ostragoths or something. I stopped about there, because his lineage goes back to like King Tut or Moses or something, lol.  I don't need quite that much info. 

But I do think my friend Kristi is right--Someone totally owes me some back rent on some castles, or the Vatican or something.  Right?

Of course, on my mom's side, I descend from Polish coal miners, villagers, and bee keepers with names like Boleslawa Skiendzielewski and Rosalija Kiskiunaite Gylys, so there may be a discount for that--unless they trace back to the Russian Czars or something, but that's highly doubtful.  

I still have another whole branch of my dad's side to research--the first part was just on his mom's family tree, but really, after Charlemagne...what else is there?  

P.S....As it turned out, there wasn't anything interesting on my dad's paternal side.  They came from Scotland in 1782.  The end.  (for now)

Guys.  You should totally check yours out.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Prefer "Your Highness" Actually...

File:Bayeux hawking.jpg
The Fam

Some of you may know that, aside from being a history geek, I'm also a family history freak, except when I'm sick. I was casting about for something to do yesterday (aside from yard work and laundry), so I took up an offer for a 14-day free trial on, where I have done research before.  It usually turns into an obsession pretty quickly.  I ended up doing nothing else yesterday, but spent all day and almost all night (*yawn*) following my father's family tree back and back and back and back and back...there was no end to the links!

I got all the way back like 974 and found that OH YES, WE ARE TOO ROYAL.  See?

HugoKapet kronika.jpg
My 33rd great grandfather, Hugh Capet, or Hugh "The Great", wondering who he has to beat with that stick to get someone to invent pizza.
Actually he appears twice in that branch of the tree (so, yeah).

Also his son, Robert II Capet of France, aka The Pious or The Wise (I like both), my 32nd great grandfather:
Gramps!  I totally see a resemblance here, seriously.

And HIS son-in-law, Baldwin V Count of Flanders, my 31st great grandfather:
Yep.  I see it here, too...

And HIS daughter, Matilda of Flanders, my 30th great grand aunt.  Our family comes down from Matilda's sister Judith, Countess of Bavaria/Duchess of Northumbria, who was married to the brother of the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold II, but I don't see any statues of her.  Probably because after Judith's brother-in-law William the Conqueror killed Judith's other brother-in-law Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, William was probably all "Oh, no WAY your sister's getting a statue!"  But Matilda got an AWEsome one:

Kidding aside...this is beautiful!

 In case you're not a history geek...Matilda married William the Bastard (man, some mistakes really stick, don't they?), aka William the Conqueror, which has a nicer ring to it, (or "Uncle Bill", as I will be calling him now), which makes him my 30th great grand uncle:

Does this chain mail make me look fat?

And then, all of that whole Norman Conquest/Battle of Hastings stuff happened, and we got the Bayeux Tapestry and a ton of crazy-interesting people to read about.  If you haven't seen the tapestry, you should totally check it out right now.  (Go:)  

So--Where do I sign up?  I'm pretty sure I should at least get a statue.  

Meanwhile, I really need to get some yard work done!!  

PS--Also, if you're should totally check out your family tree.  Who knows what you could find?

Monday, April 7, 2014

The House Next Door--A Sad End Caused by a Bad Choice

A cautionary tale.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and started crying.  Nothing's wrong, don't worry...but there is a story that I need to tell that has been weighing on my heart for about 8 months.  It seemed to be healing, but yesterday I started to work outside in the garden on the first beautiful day here this spring, and it hit me again, and I felt sudden tears ready to fall.

Last July 4 while camping, we received a text from our neighbor of 14 years.  We were riding ATVs about 70 miles from nowhere, with only one spot on the whole mountain where there was any cell reception, and we were there when her text hit my phone.  I immediately opened it, because I figured she was texting to let us know that our pigs were out, or the water main was broken and flooding everywhere...the usual stuff.  Instead, my mouth dropped in shock as I read it.  She was letting us know that her husband had been killed at 1 a.m. that morning in a motorcycle crash.

I attended his funeral a week later and sat through the whole thing with silent tears streaming steadily for the whole hour.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I kept in touch closely with her over the next weeks, trying, in that awkward, after-a-funeral way that we humans have, to show her we care, that we are here, that she is loved.  Even when I couldn't think of what to say, when a hug seemed to be all I could didn't seem like enough.  I was bereft for her.

We have lived next to this family for 14 years.  One of our earliest memories in our house was of him, standing at our door on our first night moving in, smiling his personable smile and holding out a huge pizza as a welcoming gift.  We have watched each other's properties and gardens evolve and mature. We have swapped tractors and produce, kitchen tools and canning recipes.  We have plowed each other's driveways. They have rounded up multiple loose pigs for us and herded them out of our garden and back to the pen, whenever we've gone out of town (because that's the only time pigs will get out).  She taught my daughter preschool at her house the year we moved here, then miraculously went to work at the school and taught her kindergarten as well.  We have watched their kids grow up, two to three years older than our own two.  We have watched them learn to ride bikes and drive cars.

Her oldest daughter sat through her father's funeral, 9 months pregnant--his grandson would be born 3 weeks after his funeral; she was married a month later, with the reception in their back yard.  I made the cake (my last wedding cake), but it was a very subdued event.  I decorated the cake with sugar sunflowers to match the sunflower patch that still bloomed, absurdly cheerful, outside their kitchen window.  Those flowers were the last thing they had planted together as a family last spring, when everything still seemed normal from the outside.

Over the years, we have always known that theirs was not the happiest of marriages.  We are about 5 acres apart, and while we had a great over-the-fence neighborly relationship...we weren't close to them, but even at this distance, it was hard to miss that their tone of voice was usually discordant.  They never seemed to laugh together.  More often than not, the sound that carried across the field was of them yelling at each other over the lawn mower, but we shrugged and said to ourselves, "Well, you know.  Not everyone has what we have".

As the months after the funeral unfolded, we didn't pry into what happened.  We didn't ask how he happened to be out at 1 a.m., speeding, drunk, on a motorcycle on the morning of the 4th.  It didn't seem to matter.  We tried to be there for a grieving family, and it grieved us to watch them going through the motions of a summer without their father and husband, no matter what the relationships had been.

My husband had spent enough time visiting with him over the years, in their twice-a-year visits over the garden fence, to get the impression that he was definitely not a faithful husband.  He worked out of town in sales and always made suggestive comments about how great it was to work in Vegas (*wink wink*).  We hoped it was nothing.

About 3 months after the funeral, she called and said she wanted to come over and tell me what had happened.  I told her it wasn't necessary, but she felt we should know.  Very long story short(er)...he had been having an affair that she had discovered in the usual way, the prior October--by picking up his phone one day to find texts and explicit photos on it from another woman.  That had effectively ended any marriage that was left.  They spent last winter and spring pretending at a marriage, because their daughter's pregnancy was at risk, but they had filed in fact for divorce, which was to be final in July.

She explained that since the funeral, her daughter and son had also stumbled onto more explicit messages and photos, ruining whatever legacy he may have left for his children's memory of him.  She was fairly incandescent with rage as she told me of having to pay off an $8000.00 bill on their jewelry-store account, to pay for an engagement ring for the other woman, to save what little credit she might have had, since everything had been in his name.  She related having learned about enormous debts he had accrued by secretly borrowing against their house, to fund his world travels with this woman.  She found more photos of them her house, in the sports car he bought her for their 20th anniversary gift, and more.  I do remember seeing her standing at their burn barrel outside last summer, black smoke trailing up into the September sky.  I didn't realize she might be burning hurtful photos and drinking herself to oblivion every night.

Until then, we had no idea anything was seriously wrong, aside from the signs of what appeared to be an unhappy marriage and possibly a 45-year-old man going through his own midlife crisis.  In retrospect, I saw him winking at Shane when talking about Vegas.  I saw him cruising up and down our street on his new hot-rodded-out Harley Davidson motorcycle.  I saw myself sarcastically wondering at the new full upper arm/shoulder tattoo he was proud to go shirtless to show off, and the spiffy new "sparkle butt" jeans that we teased him for wearing.  Of course, we didn't think there was a miserable story behind any of it.  It also called into question that age-old human conundrum--If you are sure of someone's infidelity, at what point, if any, should you warn a friend that they are being betrayed? I didn't know her well enough, and we didn't have proof other than a lot of gut feeling and some strong red-flag hints, so we watched the train-wreck from the sidelines...

Over the months since the New Year, she has been forced to put the house and farm where they raised their family on the market and downsize her beloved Dodge truck to a used Mazda.  She got rid of the chickens.  The RV went away.  The extra project cars and her son's wrecked Audi were towed off.  Her kids found jobs and homes of their own, and she has moved out as well.  The house is dark most nights, often without even a porch light.  There is a shroud of blackness and a silent, sad emptiness that is almost visible over there, when I glance out our bedroom window across the dark quiet field between our houses.  No kitchen light.  No glowing late-night TV.  No cars in front of the garage.  No friends sharing a drink on the deck.  No little herd of pugs and daschunds playing outside with visiting toddlers. The swingset hangs still in the back yard.  The only movement is the slightly akimbo realtor's sign in the empty driveway.

We still look over there in wonder at the abruptness of it.  A year ago, we had no idea that anything was wrong.  It was a home full of people, pets, relatives, and activity.  Today, he's dead, and his family is scattered and wounded.  What a sad end.

It hit me hardest yesterday, I guess, like I said at the beginning, because yesterday while we were out doing some yard cleanup and enjoying the first glimpse of sun and warmth, freshly turned earth, and the magical feeling of rebirth in spring, they should have been outside next door, too.  He would have been fertilizing their perfect lawn that I always jokingly envy.  She would have been tilling the garden and trimming around the house flower beds.  They might have been arguing, but they'd have been there.  The little dogs would have been running around outside.  They'd have been getting their pool ready and their firepit set up for summer evening marshmallow roasts.  We'd have waved and made joking hand gestures that mean, "come over here and help us when you get done with all that."

Instead, as we took a break on the bench by the chickens, we studied the quiet, empty property and wondered at the derailment of an entire family from 5 acres away, and we felt grief, again, that a decision he made, however many years ago, and justified to himself somehow, that it'd be OK to take that slippery slope down to adultery and betrayal, had ended up like this.  What a sad, sad end to a family...all because one man selfishly couldn't say no, couldn't remember to honor his vows, couldn't think that his children might face growing up with the legacy of a father who betrayed their mother and them, and then, worst of all, would end up dead in a street somewhere at 1 a.m., possibly coming home from another woman's house.  It seems like there is no closure.  There's no way to confront him.  No healing past the hurt.  No future rebuilding the relationship.  He missed his daughter's wedding and their first grandson's birth, and everything else that was to come.  There will always be an empty chair and the memory of betrayal.

I can empathize.  I grew up in a family that I thought was fine.  I found out at age 17 that my parents' marriage and my dad's "sobriety" had been a sham--that all those years, he had still been drinking and womanizing as hard as he could, and hiding it from us all.  I know what it is to face that particular reality, and divorce, as a young adult, but I have had decades to deal with it all...his betrayals and selfishness and alcoholism.  He and I have had years where we were, if not actually estranged, definitely distant.  Long gaps have passed where I didn't care to call him or want to hear from him.  But he's still there, and I guess I'm grateful for that.  I've been able to forgive him, and there is no real tension to our relationship today, such as it is.  I don't feel close to him on any level, but we do talk now and then, and we still get along.  (Odd..he just called me as I was writing that.  But it's his birthday in two that's no surprise).

Anyway.  I don't really know where I was going with all this.  Just that it's so sad to think that a gravestone and a real estate sign outside an empty house are all that's left of a family, inside of just a short year.  And the grievous thought that, really, it all could have been SO DIFFERENT, and possibly a life saved, if one man hadn't decided he could get away with cheating.

Other than that dark note...everything's fine here, and I'm going outside now to work in the garden, and I will try not to feel the waves of sad empty-house-ness radiating from the house next door.

On a brighter's super nice out there today.  Don't forget to hug everyone you love.  :)

Thanks for listening-

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I'm No Hollaback Mom, I Guess

I love my texts with my oldest daughter.

She was on her way back from checking out her future university and town yesterday, when I asked her how it went:

Guess I can put my pom poms down now.