Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Stay at home gals

We got the chance during Thanksgiving week to take care of our girls. It was physically exhausting for two old grandparents, (I can't think how we managed to raise our own kids, sometimes) but we loved every minute of it.

Our girls love to be at home in their playroom. We took them to the mall to ride the merry-go-round and the train. They had a blast. We took them to the McWane Science Center and they had a great time. But they are just as content to be at home playing "school" with Mimi in the playroom.

Rosie loves to be the teacher, and Viv and I just let her. Viv, of course, needs to also have a role to play, so right now I tell her she is the classroom leader and she seems content with that. I follow behind her and let her lead me through our "classroom" chores that our lovely teacher Miss Rosie gives us. Everybody is happy! (Usually)

I'm sure when she is bit bigger, she might insist on being the teacher. We will deal with that when it happens! I am just a student, because they teach me something every time I get the chance to spend time with them.

The two of them are just amazing to me. (Yes, I know-everyone feels the same way about their own grandchildren and that is ok.) I've said before that they bring us untold joy and they are medicine for our weary, wounded souls. But it is true. They do bring us joy and they do help our grieving hearts more than I can even say.

It was really good for us to be with them like that this year before Lauren's birthday arrived. It helped me get through that day.

14 years is a long time to miss your child, and I am just sure that no matter how many years it ends up being it will be a "long" time.  One minute is a long time to miss your child, and at any given moment, 14 years later even, you can be taken right back to that first minute you realized your child was gone.

One day, the time will mean nothing, but today it still does, and I am grateful for this time with my grandchildren. It helps make this time of missing my child a lot easier.

Two sweet girls on a train in the mall. 

His loss, our loss

I did not know him very well, but Jason was one of those people who was bigger than life. His stature alone could have seemed imposing, yet he had an innocent quality about him that would make you stop and take notice.

I first encountered Jason when he taught English at a local high school and was named 'Teacher of the Month." I took his photo along with the students of the month for the local Rotary club.

Here was this tall guy with dark curly hair topped off by a black kippah (or yarmulke, if you like) – not a sight you usually see in a small Southern town.  I thought, "What an interesting young man! How in the world did an Orthodox Jew end up here?" (It's just the journalistic curiosity in me, I suppose.)

Of course, living in the "politically correct, everything can be offensive, so watch what you say" climate we currently abide in, I would never had asked him about his journey to Judaism.  Thinking back, I'll bet Jason would have shared it with me in the blink of an eye, though.

Jason came to our college to head up our Writing Center a couple of years later, and I can count on my hands the times I actually got to talk with him. When I did come into contact with him, I was impressed with his enthusiasm for the job he had taken on.  I sensed that he wanted to help students with navigating the world through the written word, and although I have only read one thing Jason actually wrote, I can guess he would have been good at it.

I took his photo at several events, and actually sat down at a table with a few other folks and had a nice discussion with him one day. The last photo I took of Jason was at a retirement reception for our Foundation director. Jason and a fellow instructor (who happens to be the minister of a local church) and I were making a joke about a Jew, a Catholic and a Baptist walking into a bar. Not so politically correct, but funny to us. Jason had a beautiful smile on his face that day.

He called me at 3 pm that last Friday to inquire about taking a photo at an event he was involved in for the Writing Center at a local church the next day.  None of our staff was available to  go that Saturday, so I did what I could to encourage him to just get someone to snap a photo with his phone. He seemed ok with that, and I told him I would see him Monday- he and I had an appointment for me to interview him about another project he was working on. I was really looking forward to talking with him one on one, and hopefully getting to know him a little better. I could see bright things for Jason, and I wanted to help him along the way if I could.

Jason passed away that evening at his home.  I have not been this devastated over something in a long time. I wish I could have had that time with him on Monday afternoon. I wish I could have gotten to know this interesting young man better. Fellow writers would have had a lot to talk about.

Rest in peace, Jason. You made a big impact on a lot of people.

Monday, October 29, 2018

“Her name is Lauren”

This past weekend, we made a trip to Orange Beach, Ala for our son’s 35th birthday. It was us, our son and daughter-in-law, granddaughters, our son’s mother and father-in-law and our daughter-in-law’s sister. The weather was perfect and we had a wonderful time as a family!

We spent time at the beach relaxing and just bonding as a family. I think Rosie and Vivian had a wonderful time having their whole family together. We usually do not get down to see them at Halloween each year, but there was a Halloween festival nearby and we got to see the girls wear their costumes and trick or treat. That was a treat for us!

Richard and I went to mass in a beautiful church called “St. Thomas by the Sea.” We had some lovely dinners out and last night we celebrated our son’s birthday at a wonderful restaurant and then went back home to open his presents and eat a birthday dessert.

Little Vivian, our two-year-old was toddling around holding her baby doll. I asked her, “What’s your baby’s name, Vivi? She looked right at me and said matter-of-factly, “Her name is Lauren.” Her grandpa and mom and dad and I were completely shocked and humbled. I know she has heard us mention her aunt’s name, and she knows her sister’s middle name is Lauren (named after her aunt and our daughter) but I had no idea it had stuck with her.

I think it must have been a gift for us. I believe God was letting us know our Lauren is still with us. It was the best gift I have had in a long time, and it refreshed my weary soul.

Here are a couple of pictures from our wonderful weekend.
Our Tinkerbell and Wendy Darling

Happy Birthday!


Thursday, October 4, 2018

That busy time of year

It seems like once school starts back, life becomes a wild roller coaster ride for me. Football season ensues, the girls had their joint birthday party, my birthday comes around and it seems like there is something to do all the time. It can be a bit overwhelming, and can also keep me from taking time to reflect and remember things I don't like to forget for even a moment.

In order to catch up, I picked out a few photos that might show what we've been doing!

Two little birthday girls with their grandparents! 

My wonderful birthday gifts from my kids! 
I took a cool photo of "Danger" our mascot last week. 

Looks like my home state of S.C., doesn't it?
And last, but not least, we were honored to attend a reception
with our scholarship recipients Kira and Jack. Our Lauren
is remembered every year in this wonderful way!
Two great young people! 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Upon this rock...

The Catholic world is abuzz these days with the horrible news from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the allegations about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. I have read several articles from Catholic news sources regarding these scandals and find myself disheartened along with so many more of the laity.

I am blessed to have several friends who are priests, and to know that they are good men, who are as disturbed and disgusted as I am about what they are learning about some leaders in our church. 

I came into the church as an adult, and I believe it to be the true church that Jesus founded before he ascended into heaven. I am not afraid to admit that, because I know that the church itself is not at fault. I believe that the devil believes the only way to destroy us is from the inside. Without priests, we are unable to participate in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith. So to destroy the priesthood, will do the trick, won’t it? 

I believe the answer is a resounding “NO!” As a matter of fact, I know that is the answer. I know that for every bad priest, there are 100 good ones. I know that my little church was full at mass this morning, with faithful believers who came to participate in the Eucharist. 

Every morning when I get up, I remember what Jesus said: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.’

No matter what comes our way, I believe what he said, and that the church will stand. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Little Disney girls

Last week we had the pleasure of going on vacation with our little girls to Disneyland and to see family in California and Las Vegas. We had a wonderful time with them and their parents and the little ones were real troopers.

I was able to visit in Downtown Disney with my sweet friend Janell, who I worked with about 36 years ago and have been friends with ever sense. After a wonderful family dinner with my husband's great Aunt Helen, and several cousins on Friday evening, we headed out for two days at Disneyland and California Adventure.

The first morning, we went to the "Character Breakfast" and the girls got to meet some of their favorite Disney characters right off the bat. We rode a lot of rides that day, and took them to see a live "Frozen" show, which they loved. The second day, Rosemary went to the Bippity Boppity Bootique and got a Tinkerbell makeover. It touched me a great deal, as Tinker Bell was Lauren's favorite Disney character. Even though Rosemary did not know that, she was drawn to Tinker Bell after watching "Peter Pan" just like her aunt was as a little one! Vivian was not old enough to do the BBB, but Mimi and Grandpa bought her a Minnie Mouse dress anyway.

We saw the Pixar Parade, and rode as many rides as we could. The girls had a blast and the tired Tallo family drove across the desert to Las Vegas to meet family.

I met my husband's aunt and uncle from Rhode Island for the first time in my 36 years of marriage. They are wonderful folks and we instantly bonded in our Catholic faith. We had a great time and the girls saw most of their relatives. So glad we got to do it.

Here are some pictures from our West Coast adventures. 

Janell and me
Happy Disney Family
My husband and his siblings

Our Tinker Bell and Minnie Mouse

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Just been out of sorts a bit lately

Getting old is the pits. There I have gone and said it. And not only getting old, but struggling with my new found friend Hashimoto's has made me feel out of sorts for the last few months. I have had hypothyrodism for several years, and have now been diagnosed with Hash'is. I also have another "friend" who causes me a bit of aggravation, and that is my elevated left  hemi-diaphragm.

This whole mess started when I went to a "wellness" visit last December. They saw something on my chest X-Ray that caused them to pull me aside and put me in a room where being frightened out of my wits, I thought I must be dying. I have been to a pulmonologist (lungs are fine) who sent me to a bariatric surgeon, because she was convinced I had a hiatal hernia and my intestines were stuck up in my diaphragm. The bariatric surgeon sent me for some (awful) tests which determined I had no hiatal hernia, but I do have moderate acid reflux (which I knew and was being treated for already). Now the bariatric surgeon has sent me to a thoracic surgeon, who I will see at the beginning of August. He'll talk to me about my elevated diaphragm and what can or cannot be done about it. The diaphragm causes me to be short of breath a lot of the time, and I am even prepared to tell him when I think it happened. In the midst of all of this my endocrinologist is monitoring my thyroid, which has some small nodules on it apparently. And to think, I knew none of this until I went to a wellness visit. SIGH.

I have been trying to keep my head up and ask God for grace, wisdom and understanding (not patience) throughout this whole ordeal. I could be a lot worse off, and I know that. The Hashi's makes me hyper-sensitive at times, where I get my feelings hurt easily or get angry about stupid things very  quickly. One Facebook group I am in has helped me tremendously - I hear other people relate the same things. I am trying to maintain my diet and exercise regimen. I don't get too caught up in all of the different diets and do and don’ts because it stresses me out too much. Since I was diagnosed with Hashi's I have cut back on gluten and carbs, and have lost about 12 lbs. 

Being hypersensitive is not good for grieving mothers. I have cried more in the last 6 months than I have in forever. Most days, I feel like I cannot express myself without making someone mad, or hurting someone's feelings or just feeling like it is the end of the world. I am not depressed, I just feel overly sensitive most of the time. For me, this is really hard, because I have always been sensitive, especially if I thought I hurt someone. I worry about that more than just about anything. I have always hated conflict, and I think I always will. 

I recognize my own ability to overcome that feeling by focusing on the positive, praying and getting up and out of my routine. Walking and praying seems to be a good cure. I think I have prayed the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Fatima Prayer more in the last six months than I ever have. 

I am hoping to get the diaphragm issue resolved one way or the other in August. I'll either get it fixed (if it is not too invasive) or live with it. The Hashi's is here to stay. You just have to manage it. 

"Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD is your strength!”