Meditation from a Bar Stool

As I sat alone at the bar, waiting for the people from my high school graduating class to arrive, I observed others and sipped my drink quietly. Two hours and two drinks later, and some really good food, I was still sitting there alone. The people that RSVP’ed never showed and I realized many several things. The most important lesson this taught me, is I am so very lucky.

I phoned my husband, told him that the whole class reunion thing is a joke. We had a good laugh about it, and I asked if he wanted me to get carry outs for him and our Son. Of course he said, “Yes.” I placed the order, then waited for the carryout. As I was waiting I saw most of the men were my husbands age, watching the ball game with there buddies, trying to hit on and pick up women who were my age, or a bit younger. There was one man I observed, that looked to be 55-60 years of age bragging about some young girl that was barley legal that he took home the night before. I have not idea if this was true or not, but never the less entertaining.

The bar scene that looked so good in my early twenties didn’t really appeal to me any longer. Quickly approaching thirty, I wondered why so many people my age still do this. Then it hit me. Some of them are not as lucky. They don’t have a husband and a wonderful little boy to come home to. Most people put careers and money above people.

It was probably one of the reasons no one showed. To busy because of work. To busy hanging out with their friends at a local bar. Maybe people cannot afford to get dinner or drinks, or simply put… people just don’t give a shit.

The carry out arrived, and I settled up with the bartender, and called my family to let them know I love them, I would be home soon.

Random thoughts from this experience: 

If your forty, and hanging out at a bar every night… trying to “pick up a young chick,” watch out. You might get more than you bargain for.

You can only depend on family, and a few good friends. That is the truth.

RSVP’s… I don’t really think people in my generation understand what that means.

People are so inconsiderate.

People just don’t care.

People don’t give a shit.

I’m glad I am not one of those people.

I can’t believe people actually wanted me to rent a room for this thing. I’m glad I didn’t, because I would have had a huge bill.

I am never putting a class reunion together again.

Thank God I can make time for people and I am never too busy for friends or for family.

All this from the corner of a bar stool…

 

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Life and Death: Coverversations We Need to Have With Toddlers

It isn’t always easy to understand what death is for a toddler. I know my Son understands it now, and my heart breaks for him, because I understand what he is going through. I went through the same thing when I was about his age.

The first time a beloved animal died, I really did not understand what death was. I remember my parents brought our beloved Dog Mercedes, home in a Garbage bag to bury in our pet cemetery. My parents tried to explain that she was gone and had gone to be with Jesus, (I went to church so I understand who Jesus was) but I did not not understand that physically she would be gone forever. She looked peacefully like she was sleeping.

A while later my Aunt Louise died. Her funeral was the first funeral I remember attending. She looked like she was sleeping, but it was then that something clicked. She wasn’t getting up to kiss me, or take me out for ice cream like she promised me, the last time I saw her. It was then I realized she was gone and was sleeping forever. I remember being sad, and missing her. I wished we could go get ice cream one more time, but I realized it was not happening. She was gone.

My son lost a cat that he absolutely adored when he was about a year old. Grey boy, my Son called him grey-go. Grey-Go had cancer, and he knew he was sick and cried and said Grey go sad. When he passed, I told him he went to be with Jesus and is sleeping forever. I don’t think he understood until a couple of weeks later. For two or three weeks he looked everywhere for Grey. “Where are you?” He would say. When he was about two he told me he was he was sad because Grey-Go went to be with Jesus and he is sleeping forever.

A year later, I know he understands. Sitting at my Grandmother’s memorial service, he is holding onto the bulletin for dear life. It has a picture of his Great Grandma on it. He says it’s great Grammy. He cuddles up to me and sees everyone is sad. He knows. He is a wild boy the next couple days, I then realized it is because he is dealing with a lot. 

The day after, he cuddles up to me in the morning and tells me he sees Great-Grandma in the doorway, and on the ceiling and carries her picture around with him everywhere close to his heart. I’m almost certain at this point it is a way that he is trying to deal with his grief, he doesn’t want her to be gone.

 He talkes about how he misses her and about his third birthday coming up, and how he wants Great Grandma at his party. Later, as he is taking his bath, he gets this sad look on his face and tells me he is sad. I ask him why? He says, Grandma went to be with Grey-Go and Jesus. She not sick anymore. 

Then I recalled the moment that I remembered understanding I would never see my Aunt Louise again and how difficult it was for me to rationalize that. 

We cuddled after bathtime. I held my Son and told him it was ok to be sad. He said Mommy sad too, and I said Yes baby, I am, and it’s ok to be sad. Through tears, we looked at pictures of My Son and his Great Grandmother, and talked about the times we shared together as a family. That is what has always gotten me through. The happy memories that we have shared together as a family. I hope that it also helps my Son too, to be thankful that he got to spend that precious time with her.

 I kissed my Son and Thanked God that he at least got the opportunity to spend some time with his Great Grandmother, no matter how short that was, and remembered how difficult it was for me the first time I finally understood what death was. I remembered what it was like to experience it from the perspective of a toddler.

What does it mean to be alive? Is a question we need to ask ourselves and our toddlers, and a conversation we need to have with them, that way when we have to explain what death is, and what it means, they can understand. More important, is the ability to understand it is ok to be sad, it’s ok to miss someone, and to be sad because you will not be able to make new memories with them.

The Strength of Faith

My Grandmother is currently on hospice and I am finding it hard to sleep as I am thinking about her. The ironic thing about all of this is that I was writing about my fictitious character Jen, and the death of her Grandfather the night my Grandmother went into the hospital. Around the time I was writing that chapter I felt a presence in the room with me, the clock said 3:33. I was so freaked out I had to stop writing and I don’t get creeped out easily. The day after that I heard 3 loud knocks on the closet door in the bedroom. At that time the clock said 2:22. No one else was in the house but me or my Son and he was sleeping, while I was working on writing my novel. The next day I heard my Grandmother had been admitted to the ICU on Thursday, the day all the weird things started happening.

My Grandmother and I shared the same faith. She was raised Catholic, however I came later to the faith when I was in High School. As I was going through discernment, she was there to guide me and answer any questions that I had.

One of the conversations we had was about guardian angels. Catholics believe in them. I then got to thinking it could be my Grandmother trying to send me a message, but she has not passed on yet.

I went to see her today and told her that I loved her, and talked to family I had not seen in a while. I was reminded of how much of a fighter she is and how she has never lost her faith. Having faith in something always gets you through the difficult times.

I remember the first trip to the mall, was taken with my Grandmother. I also remember her pulling my hair over my face when I was younger to show me how beautiful I would look with short bob and some bangs. That is the way I wear my hair now. It makes my blue eyes pop and gives my curly hair more volume. My Grandmother was right.

I remember when Her and my Grandfather went to my dance recital in college. I still have the necklace she gave me that day that has a heart in it. I remember how supportive she was of me as I was going through that time in my life. We spent many evenings on the phone talking.

The two biggest moments of my life, the day I got married and the day my Son was born, her and My Grandfather were there. I will never forget the day Grandma held my Son. She absolutely loves children. When I call she always asked about her Grandson.

She is a woman that has a faith that could move mountains and has never afraid to say I love you. Every time I talked to her she made sure she said it. Today as I left the hospital, I was the only one able to say those words.

If you can please say a prayer, or pray the rosary for my Grandmother. Please also keep my Grandfather in your thoughts and prayers. I know this has not been easy for him.

Goodnight everyone. I am going to pray and read and write a little tonight since I am finding it hard to sleep. All these memories of my Grandmother floating around.

I’m gonna keep the faith, read and write and as I do on most days, do some soul searching.

 

Auld Lang Syne

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As the sun begins to set, the breeze brings with it a melody from the Valley. Faintly the church bells are heard in the distance sweetly singing the melody Auld Lang Syne. It was appropriate because as the clock chimed, another year rolled by. The sunset began to set as my Grandson and I walked toward it and into the field. A lovely way to end my 60th birthday party. He smiled at me as a new hour dawned and said,

“Happy Birthday Grandpy! Happy Birthday. I love you.”

“I love you too.” I said and then kissed his little head.

He fell asleep as I carried him back to his Mother. I remember when she was young, and I brought her home on a day like this. I saw all the light in the world, and for a minute I thought heaven was in my hand. It was in this moment with my Grandson, I saw the beauty of God’s plan.

Notes:

This is a fiction piece from the perspective of a Grandfather. He is 60, and time continues to move on. For him it is just another day, but he doesn’t want to be reminded of it. He understands that the every year brings a certain finality with it, and that one day he will no longer be here (walking into the sunset) and leaving a legacy for his Daughter and Grandson.

I got this idea from a song I heard from the church down the road. The electronic bells really do carry the tune Auld Lang Syne. It was really my Father’s Birthday today, and I wrote this for him. He has a very special relationship with my Son, and I also wanted to capture this in the story.

This gives you an idea of how I get ideas for my stories and books. By being observant, and looking at the world with wonderment. From the eyes of a child.

For those of you who write, I am interested to know how you come up with ideas for your stories, and what inspires you?

Please leave your comments below.

It Will Be Ok

 

I saw a man in a pair of tan-colored khakis, tossing my son in the air. My son giggling wildly as the man started to give him a tickle. The man turned around and placed my Son in my arms. Then he put his hand on my shoulder and said,

“Don’t worry. It will be OK.”

The man smiled and I woke up from my dream. I was almost certain it was my husbands biological Father, trying to tell me something. I thought maybe one of my magazine submissions had gotten accepted, or something positive like that However, I was not prepared for what was about to occur next.

    I told my Husband about my dream, and then put it out of my mind for two or three days. I was so busy writing, the dream I had about Mikes Dad was completely forgotten.

    On February 8, we were going to sign our new lease agreement for the apartment my Husband and I have been renting for the last five years, after they left a message on my phone saying that the new lease had been prepared. My Husband went to the rental office to sign the lease. The apartment manager said,

   “You can’t sign that, you are over occupancy.”

   “What?! That’s just great!”

    My Husband was furious. We did some research and although the apartment was a one bathroom one bedroom apartment, it was rather spacious because it was a studio apartment. My Mother helped us get in contact with a lady from the department of fair housing, and she said according to the city ordinance we were well within our rights to be there. 200 square feet a person was all that was needed. For our family that ment that 600 square feet was needed. Our apartment exceeded that by 220 square feet. Legally if we wanted we could have four people living in the apartment.

   While I was doing research and getting free consultations from attorneys, the apartment manager told me she was going to talk to corporate and see what she could do since there were no two bedroom apartments available. I gave her more than enough time.

    As luck would have it, my Mother happened to find an ad in the paper for a house for rent, that was less than our monthly rent on our apartment! Shortly there after on February 16, we gave our notice to vacate and here it is:

Tenant’s Notice to Landlord:

February 1, 2016  I, ********* ****** called to have the lease prepared. The office staff told me it would take a couple of days. On February 8, 2016 the office staff informed us our lease was ready to sign. My Husband went to sign the lease and they informed him we may be over occupancy. They had to check with corporate before signing our lease, and that they had no two bedroom apartments available currently. Currently residing in the 820 square foot 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment are my Husband, and I and our two-and-a-half year old son.

On February 10, 2016 I spoke to ***** on the phone, I asked her who my husband had spoken with on Monday, February 8, 2016. She informed me it was *****, and I asked if she had a chance to check with corporate. She assured me ***** would be meeting with regional tomorrow, (February 11, 2016) and that someone would get back to me.

It is now February 16, 2016 and we have not yet received a response. Under the current circumstances, with no lease secured yet, we felt that it was best to make other housing arrangements, as the current terms of our lease will expire on February 29, 2016.

We are giving notice of our intention to vacate the premises of **** *********** *** **** *** ********* *** *****, no later than February 29, 2016.

Sincerely,

******* and ********* ******

Tenant                                                     February 16, 2016

 

The apartment manager looked shocked and said,

“No one from corporate has tried to contact you?”

“Nope, not at all. And since we have a small child we had to make other arrangements quickly, especially because it is the middle of winter and we can’t be left without you guaranteeing we are legally allowed to be there.” (Yes. I played stupid.)

“We were discussing offering you a month to month lease. Is that something you would be interested in?”

“No that is one-hundred dollars more, and one-hundred more than we can afford.”

“We could let you stay in the current apartment at the current market rent until a two bedroom becomes available.”

“No we already made other living arrangements.”

Her eyes began to twitch as someone does when they are nervous, as she looked over our notice to vacate. Did she ever really talk to corporate? I don’t know. We signed the papers needed to give us leave of the apartment, and began the process of packing and moving our things.

After cleaning the apartment we walked through it with the apartment manager. She saw a chunk was missing out of the enamel top on the stove and began to say,

“Well I don’t–”

“That was like that when they moved in here. My daughter asked them to replace the stove and they absolutely refused.”

“I asked them twice and they still refused,” I said, “and the mold. Just let me show you the black mold problem we have in here that I have asked maintenance to take care of and they never have.”

“Didnt maintenance fix your bathroom fan?”

“Yes and I asked them about the mold. The guy just said, ‘Yea that happens. these apartments don’t get very good ventilation,’ but he never did anything to resolve the situation.”

“Oh my gosh, I had known it would have been fixed and you would have had a new stove. I’m sorry you had to go through all of this.”

“Well they had every right to be there according to the department of housing.” my Mother said.

“Oh really? That’s interesting because corporate told us only two people per bedroom.”

“Well not according to the city ordinance.”

“Well cooperate drills that into our heads.”

“Well has corporate ever been to a zoning meeting?”

“Well no.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“The attorneys said corporate could enforce a rule that they thought was needed for safety like no more than two people per bedroom, but it would have to be in writing in our lease. No where in our lease did it say that,” I said.

“Wow. That is interesting. I will have to look into that myself.”

“I just don’t want this to happen to any future tenants. Especially people with such young children.”

I gave her the keys and did not look back.

The whole situation was very stressful on my family, but I am counting my blessings. My Mom just happened to look in the paper the same day the landlord refused to renew our lease. A couple of days prior Mikes Dad who passed away comes to me in a dream and tells me “It will be Ok.” I’m counting my blessings we have angels looking out for my family and I. A parents love is unconditional, in this life and in the next.

Season of Miracles

Last night my Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, My Husband and I, as well as our son, went to see the Christmas light show in Cambridge Ohio, at the court.

Our son giggled with glee and pointed to the lights as he kicked his legs and bobbed his head. “Look Dat!” He said and pointed every time someone passed us on the sidewalk.

Tears began streaming down his face. It could have been just because he was cold however, he was dressed warmly. I began to wonder if he felt the same way I did two years previously when he was just a seed my tummy.

My boyfriend and I were sitting there in church at the Christmas mass and silent night was being sung. I started to cry as I thought about my Christmas miracle stirring inside of me. I finally got it! The Christmas story is everyone’s story.

I looked at my boyfriend. I felt what I believed was the first flutter of life moving inside of me. I looked at him and said, “I know It’s a boy and we will call him Noah.” I was pregnant and unmarried at the time. People judged me because of this. They didn’t know my boyfriend and I, who later became my Husband. Personally I didn’t care. This was our Christmas miracle

As Noah cried, the memories came back. I remembered that night in church. I cried because our Child was a promise. The promise of a Christmas miracle. Two Christmas before that, we were trying to grapple with the news that I would never have a child. Yet here he is. He must have felt what I felt. Joy and beauty that he was a miracle. My son changed our lives.

I felt what Mary must have felt all those years ago. Happiness that God had blessed her with a beautiful baby boy. She also felt sadness because of those that judged her, because she was an unwed mother.

Noah understands this is the season of miracles. It was also this season of miracles that brought my husband and I together. It was at a Christmas time we
really connected. It was because of Christmas our son is here today.

The Christmas story is everyone’s story. With great pain is great joy. Without pain, there would be no hope. Happiness would cease to exist.

This is the season of miracles. Yours is right around the corner. Never give up hope.

The Gift

We did not get approved for the car loan. However, every cloud has a silver lining. My parents, passing on the great legacy my Grandfather bestowed upon them, decided to help us out. My Mother applied for the loan for the new vehicle, since we could have not afforded another car payment anyways, had we been approved for the loan. She gave us her car. It belonged to her father. It was a bittersweet moment. In may ways, my Grandfather still lives on. He lives through my Mother.

My Grandpa would have done anything for anyone that he loved. It was just what he did. He gave love unconditionally and never asked for anything in return. My Mother and Father are very much the same way. My Mom handed the title over to Me. The last owners name, was my Grandfathers. Yes, this car belonged to my Grandfather. It was never really anyone’s car. We still called it my Grandfathers car after he died. It just didn’t feel right calling anything else. His glasses where in the glove box, right were he left them. The license plate that was his, still in the trunk for safe keeping. This is the car that continues to give. Just as my Grandfather did, and still does even though he is long gone. My Mother and I shared something special yesterday at the Auto title place. A memory of a man we all wish we could share our life and memories with.

We cried as we shared this memory. My Mother inherited the car from my Grandfather. My Mother gave the car to me. It was gifted not once, but twice. the car still keeps giving, just like my Grandfather did. As my parents now do. I thought about how that car my husband was driving, was probably not very safe. I count my blessing,s and can’t help but think my Grandfather had something to do with this. He is still looking down on all of us are all ok. I cant imagine what would have happened to Mike had he not been on a country road. I know my Grandfather is with my family. I have felt he always has been. He continues to live on and his legacy is one that has been passed to my parents and will be passed to us. This is the greatest gift of all. unconditional love, and memories and time spent with those you love that can never be paid back.

My Musical Life

This week was a good week for my Son and Family. It brought back many memories.

My Dad is a Music Director at a local Catholic Church. They have a chicken dinner every year to raise money for the parish. My Dad plays the organ for people who are coming to see the church. After I got out of work, my Mother and I took my Son up to the church so he could listen to Grandpa play the organ.

My Son can never sit still very long. I had him in a sling as I walked up and down the aisle. He got excited as we bounced and walked, listening to the music. He began clapping his hands.

I was then reminded what an impact music has had on my life. My parents first met at church. My Mother was filling in for the choir director, my Dad for the organist. My Mother was very weak because she had just had surgery on her appendix.  She needed help getting up to direct the choir because she had stitches in her side. My Dad was the person that helped her. To make a long story a little bit shorter, here is the kicker… they have been together ever since. If it was not for music I would not be here.

My parents continued this tradition for quite some time. When I was small, probably even younger than my Son… my Mother would place my car seat on the organ or piano during choir practice. Because of this I had a great appreciation and love of music. When I was my Sons age I remember wanting to be like my Daddy. I in my diaper, complete with a tie around my neck… sat on the piano bench at home. Just like Daddy, I played the piano. Matching my voice to the tone of the note as I played.

Then when I was two, I knew the instrument of my choice was going to be the violin. I loved it! My arm would not reach around the neck of the violin so I had to wait until it did. The music store that my mother taught at did not have a size small enough for a two-year old. So finally when I was three. I got to play the instrument I always dreamed of. The violin.

I continued to have a love of music and throughout my Youth I played many musical instruments. Violin, Piano, Clarinet, saxophone, Trumpet, and my latest endeavor, the ukulele. I hope it is a tradition I can pass along to my son. A love of music.

If it was not for music, my son would not be here today. It was love of music that brought my husband and I together. I met my husband at work. One of the first times we hung out, we were at a party one of our coworkers had. There we were. He was playing Guitar and singing and I was singing the harmony.

On another Date, we were at a bar in Wellington, Ohio that had a piano. We were playing the piano at the bar and taking requests to play classic rock songs.

Our Son loves it when Daddy plays Guitar. He loves strumming the strings of his guitar and could since he was about five months old. Our Son is nearly 11 months old now.

We took our Son to two Jim Gill Concerts this week. One in Brunswick, Ohio and one in Valley City, Ohio. For those of you who do not know who Jim Gill is, He is a very talented musician with a good sense of humor. He has a musical life too. He writes his own music and weaves beautiful stories into his music. He is a local musician here in the Ohio area.

The first concert we arrived there early. We got the opportunity to talk to this very humble musician. He even allowed my husband to try out his guitar. Noah loved the music. He started clapping and jumping up and down and then got fussy the last part of the concert.

Noah got fussy at the second concert when he heard Jim play “Yesterday” by the Beatles.  It is this song that Daddy plays for him. Daddy’s at work right now and Noah starts screaming “Dada!” At least Grammie and Grampy got to go!

Here I am reminded that music without music I would not be here. My husband and I probably would not be married, and our Son would never have been born. I hope we can continue the tradition of sharing music and enjoying it in our family.

Freedom Is Not Free

My Son wildly claps his hands and says “Boom.. boom!” and he owhhs… and ahhhs… as we watch the fireworks from the balcony of our one bedroom apartment. Here I am reminded that freedom is not free and we are not done fighting for it yet.

How can you be free when your husband and you have to work two jobs each, and you are barely scraping by? How is this freedom when I’m lucky if I see my husband and our Son is lucky if he sees his father one day a week! No this is not freedom. This is prison. Freedom isn’t free. No not at all.

I hope someday that the world will be freed from all of this oppression. That people will love each other enough to work together to fix the global system that is broken and corrupt. People will stop using money and use their skills and barter. To become self-sufficient.  Rely on a system where we help each other instead of a system built on currency and numbers that are just punched in computers.

I hope someday I will be able to enjoy time with my family. That I am able to relax and I can live my life as I choose. That I can be free.

Never has there been a greater need for freedom. For a new beginning. For a chance to break the system, and build a new system that worked for thousands of years, before corrupt governments came and changed it. No Freedom isn’t free. We are not free yet. I hope I am able to be there when the system collapses and we can rebuild something based on love.

My Son says “oowhh…Ahhhh…” I look at him and say “Yes, we still have a long way to go… we still have a long way to go.”

The Best Birthday

I celebrated my Birthday on July second. My Mom found some old pictures of me, blowing out candles on my birthday cake. The funny thing about being a Mother is, even the money that you get for your birthday, goes to your child. I was reminded of how many things my Mother went without, because she would rather my brother and I have those things. Here it is July second. It is my birthday. I have holes in my shoes, clothes that never fit right. The money I get for my Birthday goes to my Sons food and clothes. I even had some extra to get him a new book. Here I am dressed like a bag lady. Because I refuse to let my child have anything less than what I had growing up. Because yes, on my Birthday, my Son deserves the very best. All those years I never realized how much my Parents struggled. They did without too. I don’t want Noah to worry. Worry that maybe next month we will have to move because our rent went up again. That we can barely afford to live in this one bedroom apartment. So on my Birthday, I am thankful for my Mother and Father. For always giving me the best Birthday possible. I will do the same for my Son.