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Books, family, love

A few months ago, my family happened across a used bookstore that was going out of business. The store’s lovely, kid-friendly owners couldn’t afford the rent, which had just been jacked up something like 50%.

My husband, sons, and I bought a couple of boxes full of books that day. Before we left, my husband signed up for the owners’ school book fair mailing list. It’s a good thing he did, too!

A few days ago, he got a great email about the bookstore. First, there’d been such an outpouring of love for Camelot Books, its owners had decided to open up shop somewhere else a few months down the road. The store wouldn’t be closing down for good. Woo-hoo!

Second, there wouldn’t be enough space to store their inventory in the meantime. With thousands of books still left, the real sale had begun! 

My family and I returned to the store yesterday, eventually leaving with one enormous box of books for only about fifty dollars. We left, too, with memories of another hour spent surrounded by books, love, and each other … and the elation of knowing this bookstore will continue, and with it a joy that has little to do with physical location.

Categories: Books, Family, Love Tags: , , ,

no. matter. what.

I have three full-blood siblings. Each of those three siblings are soulful, compassionate people; together, they have been my lifeline for most of four decades.

My siblings all had one elementary school teacher who never taught me in a classroom. Far from condemning my single mother, as most adults around my siblings and I did, this teacher praised her: “Any one of your children is kinder and more compassionate than any other student I’ve ever had. That all three of them are like that tells me it’s not an accident, but a reflection of you.”

I was never his student, but he and I became friendly in the years after my siblings left his classroom. He went on to teach teachers. He told me he used me and my siblings as shining examples of what you can become when you care for other people.

(When I had a chance to help one of his people a few years ago, I leaped! How seldom do any of us have a chance to explicitly show kindness to the people who have saved us?!)

Sometimes, I talk to people and wonder how they have so little faith in the folks around them. “How do you believe people are innately assholes, and only ever pretend to be otherwise?” I ask myself, puzzling over this until something or another reminds me: They did not have my siblings!

As my mom lost herself to untreated mental illness, I had my siblings. As our mom died of cancer, I had my siblings. After she died and I argued heatedly about how we should dispose of her house, I had my siblings.

(I was so angry about how we disposed of Mom’s house, I signed the papers upside-down to reflect my protest. Still, I signed because I understood my siblings were more important than a house, and I apologized later when I really understood it.)

And so, I have walked through every day of my life knowing I have three people who will support me even when they want to whack me upside the head (which is probably often). I have three people who know, absolutely, that my heart is full of love, even when the things I do or say don’t necessarily reveal that.

Most people don’t have that.

That is a sadness I can’t even fathom.

‘Cause, see, I have always had these three people–Rachael, David, and Madeline–who have had my back, so I can’t imagine life without them.

2013 siblings small

then and now

Most people have never even had one-third of that. Read more…

the after-drought rain

Today, I hope

you have enough

food to be full;

water to slake your thirst;

shelter to stay both safe,

and neither too cold

nor too hot;

as well as love to fuel you,

and that, if you

have any left over,

you will share it

freely, choosing to

be the after-drought rain

that helps

life

grow

Categories: Idealist, Love Tags: , ,

That green apple

Saturday, 11:45 a.m.

As we inched toward Hollywood in traffic, I asked my husband, “Do you have a snack in your car? I need to eat something.” He knows my blood sugar’s been giving me grief recently.

“Don’t you have that apple?” he asked.

“You’re right!” I smiled as I reached into my purse for that green apple.

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.

My husband and I were on our way to our first date in months. We’d almost made it out the door when our seven-year-old,  Li’l D, asked me, “Aren’t you going to take the apple with you?” He’d set a green apple in front of me a few minutes earlier.

“I don’t need an apple, sweetie,” I said. “But thank you!”

He looked so crestfallen, I put the apple in my purse. For show.

Saturday, 7 p.m.

My littlest one, Littler J, babbled with overtired zeal as we loaded him into our car. Li’l D was quieter in his sleepiness as he climbed into his car seat.

“Hey. You know what?” I told him. “I ended up needing that apple!”

“Told you!” he cheered. To himself, he murmured, “I helped.” His chest puffed out for a moment, leading my heart to swell in return.

“You sure did,” I said, smiling. “You sure did.”

Categories: Family, Love, Parenting Tags: ,

Thunder Thighs Forever

February 10, 2017 Comments off

For more than three decades, I shared a birthday with my mom.

In October 2010, I faced my first birthday without her. Cancer had claimed her body in March 2010.

mom me n d

(but not before she met my Li’l D, the first of her many beautiful grandchildren)

Writing about her sometimes challenged me, especially early in this blog’s days. How could I show all her love, humor, compassion, and ferocity, while still being true to the hardships I endured both growing up and saying goodbye to her?

I got as close as I’ve ever gotten in my 2014 birthday letter to her, my blog’s most popular post by far, “Dear Mom.” In a single paragraph, I was able to sum up my experience of being her daughter better than I had before or have since:

You always begged me not to write about you. You thought I’d write about how you beat my siblings and me, how you yelled at us, how you could barely feed us and only kept us in a home by selling other people’s trash. I do write about these things, because they’re part of you. But they’re a small part, so enormously insignificant compared to your laughter, your love, your lessons in forgiveness, our birthday trips to Farrell’s and Pietro’s. I wish I’d written more about you in your life, so you could have seen how greatly your loving acts overshadowed your lost and tired ones. I wish I could’ve started writing sooner, or that you could’ve lived longer to see your love through my eyes.

I was a little nervous when I wrote about my mom in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor: Poverty, Predation, and Understanding Love.” I posted it on Progressive Army, a site with readers knowing nothing about my mom but what I wrote there. Since they didn’t know my mom, I worried they’d take away from the piece a unidimensional understanding of a woman enormously complex and vivid.

My mom was and remains my foremost superhero. While the word “superhero” is thrown around a lot these days, I mean this fairly literally. One of my favorite things about my mom was her superhero alter-ego, the uniquely malodorous Thunder Thighs. Read more…

Love you well deserve

 

“You both
have so much energy,”
a mom told my husband
as she watched him and me
play with our boys
at the playground
a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, well,
we have fun,”
he replied.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

“It really looks
like you’re having fun
with your kids!” a cashier
told me and my husband
a few days later.
“It’s sweet.”

(“It just comes naturally
to my husband,” I should’ve said,
but didn’t.)

“My mom really
had fun with me
and my siblings,”
I said, smiling.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

Last week,
someone told
my husband that
our seven-year-old
is just the sweetest.

“He said, ‘You can tell which
kids are so, so very loved,’
my husband relayed. Read more…

A sitcom jersey & memory lane

On Wednesday evening, I caught the flu my two-year-old had just ditched. I stayed home Thursday, but was determined to make it to the office on Friday. Why was I so determined? First off, my cube is quiet and tidy, unlike my home. I cherish my time there.

Second, a beloved teammate was in from another office this week. I so seldom get to see him, I wasn’t about to let a little thing like “recuperating” keep me from the office.

Finally, it was a rare jersey day. With the Super Bowl just a couple of days away, I could wear a jersey and sneakers to the office! How could I sit that out?

My husband, Anthony, loves hockey and owns at least a dozen jerseys. At first, I put on one from his alma mater. It more or less matched my comfy toe shoes, which was this sports-ambivalent person’s main criteria for choosing a jersey.

Seeing myself in it, unfortunately, I could easily imagine a dozen conversations explaining that, no, I didn’t actually go there. (Been there, done that. It’s no fun for an introvert, even one in peak health!)

Anthony brought out one from a bin under our bed. Unlike the first, this one, a gift from his third season on a show for which he worked five years, had shared meaning. I’d worked on the show as an extra once, when my husband and I were newly dating. My heart fluttered when I caught a glimpse of him from the bleachers, and again when he swung by to say hello. Read more…

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