Sunday, March 24, 2019

It’s hard to say

I know I need to blog something, but I can’t think of anything to say. I am at a loss for words. Some days I can write and write, and other days I just can’t think of a thing to say.

We went to the wedding recently of Chloe, a young woman who had lost a brother and a sister. I did not know Jessica, her older sister, but she died in 2008, the year before I met TJ, her older brother. He was one of the students in our program where I work. TJ was a wonderful young man, and was destined to be a brilliant writer and journalist. He served as our college newspaper editor and was a great student and became a good friend. 

TJ never was able to get over his sister’s death I don’t believe. His loving parents tried their best to take care of him, but TJ ultimately died of an overdose. I had seen him a month before. He asked me for a letter to help with a job and he came into our office. I talked to him for at least and hour. He seemed happy and ready to move forward with his life. In a few weeks, he was gone. It was the last time I ever spoke to him. My heart was broken for Cholie and for her parents. 

We have become closer over the years and have comforted each other as best we can. His parents love their new son-in-law (a wonderful young man) and I am praying that they will be blessed with grandchildren like I have been. We were so glad to be a a part of the wedding celebrations, and to see some joy brought to this wonderful family. 

This photo of TJ at the wedding caught my eye and my heart. Rest well, sweet boy. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Pity Party Part Deux

I'm retiring this June and I think I am having a bit of a pity party. I don't know if it is just me, or if I am feeling old and useless these days, but I feel like I am a waste of everyone's time at work.

I have been feeling like this for a while now, but yesterday was a great example. I thought I was helping someone, and all they did was reject everything I said and did and act mad at me for basically existing and being there. At least that is how I felt. I finally, out of pure frustration, walked away.

I imagine they feel like I am a burden on them or maybe they think I am just old and they have to tolerate me until I go away,  but as for me, I do not feel like a valuable part of my staff anymore. My thoughts and ideas don't matter and I have nothing to offer. So I have decided not to comment or offer ideas or thoughts on anything. I'll answer when someone speaks, but my days of being a part of the conversation are over, in my opinion.

Just trying to do my work to the best of my ability and then moving on to what is next with my wonderful husband and family.

I will say that the prospect of being singled out for a retirement reception or recognition scares me senseless and brings back feelings of how hard it was to be "in the spotlight" in this small town when my 18-year-old daughter passed away. It is not fun, and I don't like the prospect of it.

I never thought 'd be the old one and people would cease to treat me like I mattered. That is how I feel today, but maybe I am wrong and it is in my head. Pity party Friday.

Thanks for letting me vent, Internet. I feel better now.

I think I will follow that old adage I once learned: "My tongue within my lips I rein, for who talks much must talk in vain."

End of rant, Part 2.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Whew! We made it!

Well, another Christmas has come and gone and we made it through. That is 14 Christmases without Lauren, but the last seven have been better for us, since we gained a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.

We made a trip to South Carolina and were happy to see and visit with our family and some dear friends. We really had a great time!

On the way back, stopped by the kids' house just in time to see our granddaughters playing with the gifts Santa had left for them and it was a wonderful time!

Our Christmas with the kids included a trip to our new trampoline park here in our hometown, where the girls had a ball. (I think their parents liked it pretty well too.)

For the last part of my time off, I decided to take on a project I had started and abandoned shortly after Lauren's death- I wanted to get our family photos organized. I am way behind in categorizing and putting them into albums, and that is one of my retirement "dream" projects-to get them into some semblance of order for my son and granddaughters to have in the future.

I had earlier abandoned this project because I think I started it too soon. It was extremely painful to look at photos of Lauren then, and it is not much easier now. I basically had to talk myself into it, and once I started, I was able to get through it. My husband, who recently retired, was with me this time, and we enjoyed looking at photos as I got them into their initial categories, so that I could put them into tubs, and later I will go back and really get them organized.

We laughed at a lot of the memories that came back, "marveled" over our hairstyles and clothes from the past, remembered family members who are no longer with us, paused over friends we have lost touch with and looked with wonder at our beautiful children as they grew and matured in these photos. I won't say there were not tears. There certainly were and I am sure there always will be.

I decided to share a few photos on this blog post. Looking forward to being able to share these photos with Rosemary and Vivian someday in the future.

I almost forgot what it was like to be a young mother.

One of my favorite photos of my Lauren and Aaron

Me at 16 practicing the piano at my childhood home.
My Rosie helping me sing "Silent Night" at mass this Christmas season. Behind
us is my son in the Communion line, getting a blessing for Vivian. 

I guess "Frank" and I were on a date back in the day. 

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!