Monday, January 14, 2013

Even when you're Mom, you're a mama

If I'd ever sat down to think it through all the way down the line before I had any kids, I imagine I would have accepted that my job was to raise my daughters to be "good" kids - to display all kinds of positive qualities, probably a sort of Boy-Scout-trait checklist, (thrifty, clean, brave, reverent, etc., with "good steward of the earth's resources" thrown in for good measure). I would have thought that once I got them raised to be adults, and they were out of the house with families of their own, their lives were their own responsibility and my job was essentially done.

I would have been so silly, and so wrong.

That reality is brought home to me each time a crisis or calamity occurs that affects one of those daughters. When a grown daughter needs sudden and unexpected surgery, she might as well be 6, because I can't be at ease until I know she's made it through okay. Yes, I know she has a husband who loves her dearly and is with her. Yes, I know the medical personnel are capable and that this surgery is not usually dangerous. Yes, I know that it's impossible to go through life without trauma of one kind or another.

I know all those things in my head. In my heart, what I know is that no matter how old they are, they are my children (who were once upon a time my babies), and seeing them hurt, hurts. And I want to fix it.

So I try to walk the fine line between helpful mom and overprotective mom, and throw in just a hint of a breezy "you'll be just fine" vibe to help keep my upper lip stiff.  I will myself NOT to call every hour on the hour to make sure she's still feeling okay. I tell myself she will obey the doctor's orders to take it easy. I remind myself that she is a wonderful, responsible, level-headed person who is perfectly capable of asking for help if she needs it.

But when something like this happens, I don't feel like Mom, I feel like Mama, wishing I could hold her on my lap and hug her and make it better.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sew much fun

Janet started it. She had a bunch of tees from her Texas Tech days and asked if I could make her a tee quilt. I had a blast putting it all together. Then Jack was envious and wanted one, so he rounded up some tees that he didn't wear anymore but hadn't thrown out because of sentimental reasons, and I made him one. Then I was at a thrift store one day and saw a tee that said "Twisted Sister" on front, and another one that said "Blame my Sister" and I knew that I had to make one for my sister Karen, whose birthday was coming up. I made a Midlothian Panthers throw for the Longbranch PTV school carnival's silent auction. Another was constructed from g-daughter Megan's Waxahachie High School tees. I made one for my teacher friend Daniel from his Bishop Dunne school tees. The one shown here was for my grandson Joseph's birthday. The most recent one was for son-in-law Jeremiah, from some more Texas Tech tees. (and Jer's was made extra-long so he could really wrap up in it).

Although these are pieced works, they're only partially quilted (for those of you in the know, I do stitch-in-the-ditch to outline) because with fleece backing they're substantial enough that they don't need much quilting. So I call them tee 'throws' rather than tee quilts.

I haven't calculated how many hours go into one of these. It doesn't matter because each one has been a labor of love. It's so much fun shopping for just the right complementary fabrics, then laying each design out and making it personal. I've got another one in mind, one that will be a complete surprise to the recipient.

Please excuse me. I hear the fabric store calling.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Genetic, or learned behavior, it's still dumb

Last week my dad fell and cut his hand. The nurse at the retirement home bandaged it but thought he probably needed stitches. So Mom loaded up both walkers into the car, and drove the couple of miles to the VA Hospital, where they had to wait nearly five hours for treatment (stitching and bandaging - turns out he broke a couple of bones). In all that time all they had to eat was a bag of popcorn and a bottle of Sprite. By the time they were done it was dark and her valet-parked car was nowhere to be found. A sympathetic security officer took her keys, found the car, and brought it to them. The idea of my 80-year-old mom, stomach growling, wandering around a parking lot in the dark looking for her car really made me unhappy.

And I didn't know about any of this until late the next day, when I learned of it by the email she sent to several family members.

No matter how many times I tell her "call me and I'll come help you," she never wants to bother me, especially when I'm working, so I don't find out until afterward. Even for the follow-up visit this week, she turned down Aunt Suzie's offer of a ride. That's my mom to a T: independent and unwilling to bother anyone else.

And it wasn't until just a few moments ago that I realized I've been doing the same thing for much of my life.

For years I've wrestled with a deep-seated insecurity that made me feel that I wasn't worth imposing on someone else's time.  That really is what has kept me so darn stubborn for so many years, only asking for help when I absolutely had to. I just always thought people would resent having to help me, or at least be very annoyed. And that's really stupid, if I'd only taken the time to analyze it. Because if someone asks me for help, I don't resent it, or get annoyed (at least not usually...) Instead, I'm nearly always glad to do what I can when I can. So why shouldn't I allow others the same response? I'm not talking about the kind of uber-neediness that some folks display, always wanting this favor or that favor, but surely a broken-bone-have-to-get-to-the-hospital kind of need justifies asking for (and accepting) a helping hand.

If I'm really, truly brutally honest, I wonder if my stubborn independence is actually a bit selfish with just a tinge of martyrdom. "I don't need help. This is my responsibility. I'll just have to gut it up and do it myself. (Sigh)."

I'm gonna think about this some more. But I'm also going to try to ask for help when I need it, and accept it when it's offered.

And I'm gonna tell my mom that if she doesn't call me next time, I'll kick her butt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Walking for the Cure says I love you

This year on the first weekend in November, 2700 women and men took part in the Dallas-area Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Each participant raises at least $2300, funds which go to global breast cancer research and local programs supporting breast cancer education, screening, and treatment. In a commitment beyond fund-raising, they walk 60 miles over the course of three days to raise awareness, support those fighting breast cancer, honor lives lost, and celebrate those who have survived the disease. For one unforgettable weekend, they become a community.

Hundreds of volunteers help at the base camp and the pit stops, give rides to those who need a break, care for medical needs, and much more. The pit stops allow walkers to rest, rehydrate, and have a snack. Pit Stop 4 each day is manned by staff from Komen national headquarters along with volunteers. My daughter Joanna works for Komen, and she persuaded me to volunteer. Once I experienced it, I was hooked.

In 2006 my friend Dianne Horton of Cedar Hill volunteered with me. Our task was to stand on the corner and cheer the walkers as they approached Pit Stop 4. We laughed at the crazy outfits some of them wore, and fought tears when we saw tee-shirt tributes to lives lost. We didn’t know anyone walking, but it didn’t matter - we celebrated as if they were long-lost friends, and told them “Hang in there - you’re nearly done!”

In November 2009, Dianne was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. During her illness, her daughters Sarah St. Louis, Rachel Edwards, and Rebecca Epperley signed up for the 3-Day to honor their mom. They held a garage sale, hosted a concert fundraiser, and appealed to friends, family and coworkers to support their efforts. Their dad Hank joined the support crew which camps with the walkers. Together the family raised nearly $11,000 for the cause.

Dianne lost her battle with breast cancer on September 11. It would have been understandable for her daughters to decide not to go through with the walk while their grief was so fresh. But they channeled that grief into a determination to follow through, to walk in tribute to the mother they loved so dearly. They know how important it is to hold on to hope for those who still must fight.

Some people say they’re tired of seeing pink ribbons and hearing about breast cancer. But breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women across the globe. You may never have breast cancer, but someone you know has it or will have it. Even though individual battles will be lost, we have to believe that the war against breast cancer will ultimately be won. By giving, by loving, by supporting those who fight.

And for Sarah, Rachel, and Rebecca, by walking 60 miles.

11/08/10  Found online at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For Dianne

God is the composer of the Song of Life and we are all singers of that Song.

When one of us dies, the Song sung here on earth must change; the notes sung by that person are no longer a part of the melody.

But the notes aren’t gone. They have been written into the melody of the Song of Heaven,
the song sung in the presence of the Author of Music.

And that song is a song of such ineffable sweetness and beauty that we mortals cannot bear to hear it - it is the song that bursts forth only when we escape the chains of the flesh, and our spirits soar to our Maker.

It is the melody of the universe.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Maybe I need to walk a mile in someone else's shoes

One of my daughters told me the other day that I was being unkind and judgmental about someone we both know, and that it was not behavior that she expected of me. I wish I could say that my being unkind and judgmental was an aberration; unfortunately, it wasn't. It's an easy trap to fall into, isn't it? A negative comment here, a negative comment there; before you know it, you're hard pressed to find anything nice to say about a person. I read once that each time you point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you. Which I guess is one way of rephrasing the Biblical admonition not to try to remove the speck from another's eye until you get the log out of your own...

One definition of judgment is 'the process of forming an opinion by discerning and comparing' - if I ever stand before a judge or jury, I would sure want them to have all the facts before they make a judgment on my case. So I had to look at my attitude toward the person discussed and accept that I don't know all the circumstances that might be contributing to his actions, and that I need to work on summoning up compassion. I'm not walking in his shoes. If I were, I'd probably have a much better idea of the reason for his behavior.

It was a good conversation. It's pretty wonderful having a secure enough relationship with an adult daughter that she feels safe calling me out when I'm not being nice. She's still looking to me to set the right example even though she's grown. When she was little I might be able to get away with "because I'm your mother, that's why!" but now that she's an adult that won't wash. I can't get away with "Do as I say, not as I do." What I say is what I do; when it's ugly, I have to change it.

So I'm grateful for being scolded, and for second chances.

And for a daughter who challenges me to aim higher.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where Are You, You SOB?

I was robbed today. Well, actually (according to the nice Red Oak police sergeant) it was a theft. I guess to be absolutely precise, it was a larceny ("the unlawful taking of personal property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it permanently"); when I talk about it, it's a lot simpler to say "I was robbed" rather than "I was the victim of a theft/larceny."

Our office is in Red Oak. It's a small town, typically a safe town I guess. Our building is the only one on the street, and we're at quite a distance from the cluster of businesses along Ovilla Rd. There are two front doors to our building: The south door leads to the dentist's office, and that door is only unlocked when the dentist's office is open. Our wing, the north wing, holds only two tenants, neither of which business has walk-in visitors. Our exterior entrance is on electronic lock and requires a passcard for admittance.

So for anyone to access the north wing, they either have to have a passcard, knock at our outside door for admittance, or enter at the dentist's side of the building and walk around to our side. Apparently that's what this creep did.

After the dentist had seen the last patient of the day, one of her staff was working at their front desk and saw through their glass office door when a man entered from the south door and walked past their office and headed down the hallway. She even commented "wonder where he's going?" since he used their entrance.

Meanwhile, I was alone in our office. John (my son-in-law boss) is traveling this week. I was working in his office for an hour or so. While sitting at his desk, I heard a sound that appeared to come from my office. I was intent on what I was doing and didn't pick up on it at first. Then I heard another slight sound. I 'knew' no one was in my office, but I had a funny feeling, so I stepped into my office and saw that the door was closed as I had left it. So I assumed the sounds I'd heard had come from the adjoining office.

It wasn't until more than two hours later that I remembered that I hadn't checked the mailbox outside. I went to my purse to get the mailbox key and the passcard that would let me back in the building. That's when I discovered that my wallet was gone.

You know how it goes. When something is supposed to be there, and it's not, you think at first that somehow you're just not seeing it, that by some Twilight Zone sort of trickery that it's just not readily visible. And when that happened, when I rooted frantically through the purse and didn't find the wallet, I thought that somehow I must have carried it into John's office and laid it down, so I ran in there to search. Of course I hadn't done that, there's no reason in the world I would have done that, but I looked anyway. Then I raced out to my truck, thinking it might have fallen out of my purse (!) when I was driving to work. It wasn't in the truck.

In my panic, I had forgotten that in the morning I had made an online payment, printed out the receipt, and put that receipt in my wallet. So the wallet had definitely been in my purse before noon.

So sitting in my truck I called the police. They told me to hang tight, that an officer would be there in a few minutes (if it had been Dallas, I'd still be waiting for the police to show up). I had to knock on the window of the next-door tenant and get them to let me back in the building, since my passcard was in the wallet. Before I could even call the bank to report my debit card stolen, the officer was there to take the report. The dentist's employee pulled up the records of the electronic door and it indicated that there was two exits made at midday, and not again until the time I went out to the truck to search. Midday is when I was in John's office working. So apparently some guy opened my office door quietly, walked in quietly, saw my purse sitting on the floor behind my desk, and took his chance.

Normally I carry a purse that's kind of deep and the wallet tucks down at the bottom. Today I had a purse with a smaller mouth, and after I made the online payment I remember sticking the wallet back in on end (rather than laying flat) because the small opening made it harder to reach down inside. Lucky for the thief: that meant the wallet was plainly visible and easier to grab.

But I am definitely lucky as well. Because I got on the phone and canceled my debit card and my three gasoline cards, and none of them had been used, even though it had probably been three hours since the theft. The police officer said maybe the guy just grabbed the $48 in the wallet and tossed the wallet away. He searched all around the building and in the dumpster, even drove back to where the street deadends at a field, and didn't find it.

If the thief had grabbed the little green bag next to the wallet, he would've gotten my car & house key - and with my driver's license, he had my address. That would have been a nightmare. So all things considered I guess I'm fortunate.

But I don't feel fortunate. I feel damn mad. And I guarantee that I'm keeping the office door locked from now on, even when I'm there.