Tuesday, February 5, 2019

One is the loneliest number......

We welcomed another niece into the family this past weekend
Lucy was over the moon
Partly because she was excited for her cousin to become a big sister but mostly because she and her new cousin share a middle name
Sunday, we were in the car on our way to Target, talking about the new baby and looking at the pictures on my phone my sister sent when Lucy stopped speaking mid-sentence
I looked over and her eyes were all watery
She turned and looked at me and when she blinked, the tears slid down her cheek
I pulled over unsure of what was wrong as she still had not said anything
Honey, what happened? What's wrong????
I just realized I'm the only cousin who is an only child!
Her chin was touching her chest and her shoulders heaved as she sighed and stifled a sob
My throat closed up and I had to swallow a few times before I could speak
My eyes burned and I was trying really hard not to let tears form in the corners of my eyes
I shook my head thinking it would stave off the wave of emotions rolling through my my mind and squeezing my heart so hard it felt as if it were breaking in two
Oh Lucy, honey......I'm......I don't......
Words failed me and we sat in silence
A few minutes passed and I found my voice reminding Lucy her oldest cousin is an only child
But he's all grown up in college Mumma! I'm the only little cousin with no brothers and no sisters! All I have are cats - I can't even get a dog because our stupid house is too small and you and Daddy work! And now, I'm the only kid who is an only kid in our whole family and I hate it! Besides, he was probably as miserable as I am but just never told anyone because he's a boy! And I'll be alone when you and Daddy die!
There was nothing for me to say
So we sat in silence for a few more minutes, both of us regrouping and trying to figure out if we should get our emotions under control or just let them run wild
This being an only child has come up countless times in Lucy's little life
A couple years ago, we spent a week with my brother and his family which includes our 3 nephews
Sure, they fought and teased one another unmerciful
But they also looked out for one another and stuck up for each other and at night, would sneak into each other's rooms to talk or seek comfort from the dark
By week's end, Lucy was fighting with them as much as they fought with each other but, she also became protective and attached to them
She cried all the way to the airport
This past summer, we spent time in England with my sister-in- law and her family which includes two nieces
The girls adore one another and could spend hours in each other's company - sometimes talking, sometimes just compatible silence and sometimes giggling, singing, dancing and being silly
And sure, sometimes arguing and disagreeing with one another
But there was something so comfortable and comforting about their relationship
Lucy would stand off to the side watching them and though they did their best to include her, it threw their rhythm off a bit and it was clear Lucy was an interloper
But they shared secrets and hugs and laughs with her whilst we were there
Once, a couple kids teased her about being an only child and told her we did not have more kids because she was so terrible and angry and difficult to deal with.......that we decided not to have anymore kids because they could be like her
Lucy expertly fought back and informed her tormentors that was not the reason at all but instead, we did not have more kids because "My Mum had her vagina removed! She can't have anymore kids you morons!"
For the record, it was not my vagina I had removed, just had a good old fashioned hysterectomy
But that did not stop her from coming home and asking me to confirm she was not a horrible child and she was not the reason we only had one child
All I could do was assure her she was not a horrible child or a troublemaker or an angry child and she was not the reason we only had one child but instead, we were lucky she was the child we got to have
What I could not and don't tell my 9 year old is how heart broken I am at not being able to give her a brother or sister
What I don't tell her is how hard it is for me to see or hear about someone else I know having a baby
How the sight of a pregnant belly can send me into a dark and jealous spiral
What I don't tell her is how much my heart hurts when I look at her baby pictures and realize I will never have another baby
What I don't tell her is how much it hurts when I realize all her firsts were the first and last firsts I will ever know
What I don't tell her is that I am scared she will have the same struggles and heartbreak I had
What I don't tell her is how hard it was for me when the doctors finally said we're removing your uterus and I realized my time was up
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath before I started talking
Lucy, honey....
She was leaning back in the seat with her head turned away from me looking out the side window
She rolled her head towards me but kept her eyes down
I'm sorry kiddo - I love you
I put out my hand and when she nestled hers within mine, I clasped it as tightly as I could
She squeezed back
I'm sorry pal......
It's okay Mumma, I know it makes you just as sad as it makes me.....and I'm happy I have a new cousin and M gets to be a big sister....I just wish......
I know kiddo, I know
And then I tell Lucy how much we love her and how much love, laughter and light she has brought into our lives
I remind her that even though she is an only child, like her oldest cousin, she will soon find her world filled with friends who can be as close and as important as siblings
I tell her that family is not only blood, and the same last names and sharing grandparents, but family is also defined in so many other ways and though she may not have a sibling, her "family" is so much bigger than the traditional definition and that her family will continue to grow
And I remind her that no matter what, her Dad and I will forever and always love her
Can we maybe try to see my cousins more so I am not so alone?
Sure Luce
Even though they all live away?
Yes honey, we'll try
Because Mum, you and Dad are getting old and I don't want to be alone when you die and I am the most scared of that
I know pal, we'll do what we can and I promise, you will not be alone when we die
Yes honey
I'm sorry about how sad this make you
It's ok pal, it makes us all sad but we just have to remember how lucky we are to have one another and that we need to work harder at seeing our family so we have those relationships
Ok Mumma.....you know what would make you feel better?
What's that?
A dog!
A fish?
A turtle? A gerbil? A hamster? A lizard?
Nope, negative, not going to happen kiddo
Ok well, if you change your mind, Dad and I really want a dog...
Got it pal, noted!
Can we go home?
We drove home in silence, the errand forgotten
As we were getting out of the car and headed up the walkway, Lucy took my hand
You know what I do like about being an only kid?
What's that?
I get you and Dad all to myself!
Thanks Luce, that makes me happy to hear you say
Also, when you do die, I won't have to split your money with anyone!
I stopped mid stride and started to form a response
But it sort of came out like a sigh crossed with an umph crossed with a how the fuck am I supposed to respond to that statement crossed with the thought of well, she's not wrong......
And I'm pretty sure face contorted into a weird look each time I took a breath trying to come up with a verbal response.....
Lucy giggled
It's a joke Mum! Seemed like it was getting pretty serious so I thought we needed to break it up a little
I chuckled and started walking again
You're right Lucy, and yes, you do get all our money, so yeah, I guess there's that.....
This time it was Lucy who stopped mid-stride and exclaimed with a little too much excitement for my liking....
Just how much money are we talking?!?!?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Forever Home

September 24, 2018

Ziggy came to live with us 6 years ago
He came in as a 17lb, 5 year old black cat
He is now a 20lb, 11 year old black cat and is more loved as each day goes by
His nicknames range from Ziggy Boy to Chubzilla to Count Chubbula to Zigmund Zigaby to Zigs to Zigladon
Ziggy follows Lucy around the house and sits next to her whilst she's watching TV, eating breakfast or reading
Ziggy sits on Sean while we're watching TV after Lucy has gone to bed
But he sleeps with me
Only Lucy can pick him up
Only I can brush him
And only Sean cleans his litter box
Ziggy is spoiled
And we're spoiled for having him
He completes our little family
A couple years ago, Lucy wanted nothing more than to have a little brother or sister
So much so she would get upset with me when she asked for one and I would dodge her questions
When I finally explained to her I could not have more kids, she held my face in her little hands and assured me she was ok with that as Ziggy was her brother and he was more than enough
But Lucy has always wanted more cats
And for a short time, we did indeed have two cats
Herbie lived with us for a few months
But poor old Herbert Sherbert the 3rd was not happy as a house cat
He loved us and we loved him but he loved the outdoors more
So he went to live with Uncle Michael and Neenie at the lake
Herbie is happy
We are still sad
In 2016, we started looking for a new cat
We'd go to the shelter a couple times a month in hopes of meeting the perfect cat
But then a cat bit me and I was on antibiotics twice a day for a week and scared of shelter cats for a year
We (I) finally worked up the courage to go back to the shelter
I just don't get too close to the cats
So we started looking again
But we could not find the right cat for us
In June, we were in Reading at a Family Field Day and started chatting with an agency in Wakefield which fosters and places cats
We looked at numerous pictures they had at their booth and were also directed to their website which showcased an even broader field of cats up for adoption
Lucy started to get more excited but first, we had to make sure we were all up to the task
So we had many long family conversations about cost and responsibility
I'll pay the adoption fee! Lucy declared
Honey, that can be up to $200
It's worth it Dad!
So it was agreed
We'd look for a second cat to join the family
Sean and I would cover the vet bills but Lucy would pay the adoption fee
We figured a 5-7 year old male would be best; old enough so he was out of his kitten phase and a bit more chill
A little younger than Ziggy in hopes of keeping Ziggy young
And a male because Sean said he had never had good luck with female cats
Lucy wanted a Maine Coon Cat
I wanted a Norwegian Forest Cat or a Rag Doll
Sean just wants someone else to clean the litter box
Lucy and I then spent one lazy afternoon on the website for the agency in Wakefield
And we stumbled across Andre.....a 7 year old Maine Coon cat
I emailed about him, filled out the application and we waited
But nothing happened
Yesterday, with not much to do, and Lucy frustrated because we never heard back about Andre, we took a ride to the MSPCA shelter (same place we got Zigs, same place the cat bit me) to have a look around
As we wandered through the cat room, I kept seeing this little gray and white kitty getting all kinds of love from people
Until they realized her age and then they'd walk away shaking their heads and saying it was too bad she was so old
I was standing in the corner as Lucy and Sean went from cage to cage peering in with curiosity and anticipation of finding the perfect cat to come live with is
At one point, Lucy sought out a volunteer and peppered her with questions about one cat in particular only to find out the cat was going home later in the day
Dejected, Lucy hung her little head and frowned
The volunteer, this wonderful woman called Cristeen said to Lucy let me flip through the book for you and see who else we have
Lucy perked up and we returned to the cat room while Cristeen looked for Lucy's cat mate
Then Lucy spotted the little gray and white kitty
And then Sean spotted the little gray and white kitty
Sean popped open the cage which was high up and the cat jumped into Sean's arms
Lucy melted
Sean melted
Cristeen came back into the room and found Lucy and Sean with the cat called Harley
She's not quite what you are looking for said Cristeen
Can we hear about her? asked Lucy Can you get the paper on Harley and tell us about her
Cristeen looked to me and I nodded
Harley is a 15 year old female cat
Her owner was forced to give her up when her adult son moved home with various dogs
Harley was looking for her forever home to retire in
By all accounts, she is a pretty healthy 15 year old cat and had been well taken care of until the dogs moved in
And by all accounts, our daughter had fallen in love
Sean and I exchanged glances and shoulder shrugs
Cristeen gave us time to discuss
Lucy pointed out to us that Harley only had a few years left and didn't she deserve to spend those last few years with a family who could love her and take care of her?
And Lucy assured us she would work with Ziggy (who is pretty chill) to get him to understand how much Harley needs us
Then Lucy pulled out all the stops and went straight for our heart strings:
If we take her home guys, when she does die, she'll die in a house full of love ..... isn't that the best thing for her? I don't want her to be alone......
Even Cristeen the volunteer knew Lucy had just sealed the deal
Minutes later, we were sitting with Jenny, the adoption counselor
Lucy could not contain her excitement
And Jenny and Cristeen were just as excited for both Lucy and Harley
As we completed the paperwork, Lucy kept babbling away to Jenny about how Harley deserved a forever home in her old age and assured Jenny we were just the family Harley needed
Plus, she told Jenny, I'm paying to adopt Harley so that should tell you how important this is to me
And then Jenny, bless her heart, did the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for Lucy that day - and for us as Lucy's parents
When Jenny slid the adoption papers across the table, which were pre-printed in Sean's name with a signature line for him, we realized Jenny had also made a line on the paper for Lucy to sign
Jenny turned to Lucy as Sean signed his name and said
Lucy, I'm also going to need your signature as you're paying the fee and Harley is your responsibility
Lucy, with her head held high, beamed as she signed her name with the flick of her pen
By the time we left, everyone knew Harley was going home to a house with lots of love for her to live out her final days because as Lucy said
Hey! We all gotta die sometime and it should be in a house full of love......
Welcome to the family Harley Girl

One Belt Away

September 8, 2018

Last night, she sparred for 6 minutes, did at least 30 crunches, 30 push ups, 100 punches and planked for so long her body started to tremble and though she’ll deny it, she was brought to tears with less than a minute to go
But she persevered and now she is a brown belt.....
One belt away from her black belt
We will sleep with one eye open from now on
And could not be more proud of The Goose

All by myself

August 3, 2018

I'm the only person in the office today
I mean LITERALLY the only person
My one call was cancelled
It is so quiet, I am not only caught up, I am working on next week's calendar items
I also engaged a telemarketer in conversation for 20 minutes, had coffee with the Fed Ex Freight guy, used the motion board I got with my stand up desk for 25 minutes, shared my grandmother's blueberry muffin recipe with the mail girl and made a playlist
It is not even 1pm.....

Happy Birthday to the Other Queen

August 1, 2018

For some, today is a day to celebrate National Raspberry Cream Pie Day or National Girlfriends' Day
Others will partake in events for National Scout Scarf Day or Worldwide Web Day
It is also Respect for Parents Day and International Childfree Day which confuses my head a bit but who am I to judge
Some people will use today to kick off Inventor's Month, Fishing Month, Peach Month and Happiness Happens Month
There will also be, I am guessing, birthday remembrances and parties for Claudius Francis Scott Key, Herman Melville, Mother Jones, Henrietta Lacks, Dom DeLuise, Jerry Garcia, Coolio, and Jason Momoa
But for me, I will spend August 1st celebrating one of my all time favorite people
She's smart and sassy, no bigger than a minute and single handily brought back Talbots
She loves penguins, feeds the birds, chipmunks, deer and chickens which frequent her backyard and talks to all of them in a sing songy voice that makes you wonder if she is not in fact Snow White
She's up on politics, down with Jesus, and adores the Blessed Mother
She still watches the Golden Girls and Designing Women as if they never went out of style or off the air
She's retired but has never been more busy and has a schedule which rivals the Queen's
She can relate to the youngest person in the room, the oldest person at the table and everyone in between
She's soft spoken but packs a powerful punch with her words and her laugh will bring tears of joy to your eye
She can put you in your place with a single arch of her eyebrow and build you up with a nod of her head and five encouraging words
She says things like:
beggars can't be choosers
if wishes were horses beggars would ride
praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
dogs barking, can't fly without umbrella
She sends text messages filled with emojis and GIPHYes
And she still sends cards for every occasion and thank you notes for gifts received
She is Grammy and Grampy's eldest daughter and Aunt Nell and Uncle Ed's favorite niece
She's a younger sister, an older sister and an aunt to so many nieces and nephews
She's a wife - 51 years this past February
She's a mother (1 boy, 6 girls, all natural child births ladies..... ALL NATURAL.....all 7 times...)
She's a Noni to 4 adoring grandsons and 2 doted on granddaughters
She's a friend to many, a companion to some, a lifeline for others and she diligently prays for every single one of us
She's been strong in the face of adversity and vulnerable with a quiet strength and faith that sees her through to the other side
She's taken a lot of shit from people over the years but has never complained, she simply shrugs, and knows that this too shall pass
She is more than I could ever hope to be
Loretta Kearns, you are, and continue to be, the only person I will go out of my way to wish Happy Birthday to on Facebook.....
And not just because you are my favorite Mum but because you continue to be one of my favorite people in the whole wide world
May your day be filled with well wishes, love, frosting (why bother with the cake), and whatever your heart desires
Happy Birthday Mum!
Hang onto your wishes and dreams
Eat your veggies, say your prayers and keep being you
Love the bag, love the shoes, love everything, love you!

At the Car Wash

June 10, 2018

Sent Lucy and Sean outside to wash the cars
The sidewalk and the side of the house have never looked so spic and span clean
Also, Sean may be giggling louder than Lucy 
He definitely screams louder than Lucy
And Lucy's aim with the hose has improved dramatically since last year

Two Belts Away

May 14, 2018

So proud of this little knucklehead......
She packs a mean punch and has one helluva kick
She can do more push-ups than most people I know and does 40 jumping jacks without breaking a sweat
She's sweet, stubborn, sassy and selfless
And now she's two belts away from being a legit black belt
Well done Goose, well done!