Category Archives: family ties

Brotherly love.

My brother and I were never particularly close. 

Close in age, certainly.  We are less than three years apart.  In the photo above, that is me on the left.  My brother is the chubby baby in the Giants onesie on the right.  We are two years and nine months apart, yet you can never imagine two people so different.

My brother and I were brought up in a very abusive household.  Our parents, well-meaning as they might have been, were a non stop source of stress and strife in our little lives.  They fought constantly, every single waking moment of the day and night.  She was a shrew, my mother.  Nagged to the point where you could no longer stand the sound of her voice.  (It still makes me cower a bit when she raises her voice.)  My father, the man I have come to call “the sperm donor”, was a self-absorbed, egotistical hippie type who never quite grew up enough to understand that you no longer get to be a “free spirit” once you make the commitment to having a wife and children.  Sure, you can be an individual, but you do not get to live your life as one.  There are three other people in the picture.  Three other people who matter, who count on you and who you need to give thought to before doing the selfish things that stop you from being a part of that family unit.

My father, in something so cliche it embarrasses me to mention, left my mother for his secretary (cringe) back in 1973 when I was merely 7 years old.  Not that this was his first affair, mind you. This was merely the one that “stuck” and the one that finally took this man out of his home and into hers.  There was a part of me that was so grateful when he left.  For years, I had endured listening to their fights that would end up with punches thrown, furniture being flipped over, disgusting and vulgar things said right over my head and the endless tears that my mother would cry each and every time he walked out that door and away from “this bullshit”.  I came to feel that I was a part of the “bullshit” he needed to walk away from and, as every child does, began to blame myself for my father leaving.  This was further confirmed when my mother, in moments of distress and uncertainty of her future would say thing like, “he never wanted any kids to begin with.”

Great.  Like I ASKED to be born into this?

For years, I resented my father.  Years. Hated him with a fervor and a passion that no little girl should ever have to know.  When I got stuck having to go to his house on the weekends, I was moody, irritable, out of sorts, angry.  I felt deep venom for my mother for leaving me with this man who obviously did not want my brother and I there and truly made us, or at least me, feel like we were cramping his bachelor lifestyle.  He had a girlfriend (the secretary) named Yvonne.  She was a red head. Tall. Thin. Gorgeous.  And their lifestyle consisted of walking around nude all the time.  It’s just what they did.  And while that’s fine monday through friday, it is probably something that should have been curtailed when your 9 year old daughter and your 6 year old son would come to visit.  They smoked weed.  A LOT of weed.  We were never really “watched” or cared for.  It would make me feel so uncomfortable being in that environment.  I don’t think it effected my brother the same way it did me.  He sort of found it all funny…that he got to see “boobies” at Dad’s house.  But for me, a young girl on the precipice of my pre-teen years, it made me feel out of sorts.  I used to sit in the loft of his apartment and just get lost in books.  Reading for hours on end til my mother and whatever random flavor of the week she was dating at that time would come and pick us up from his place on the west side of Manhattan. 

As I got older, savvier, I learned how to take the train back from Riverside Drive in Manhattan up to Queens Boulevard in Queens.  I would run away from his apartment, letting myself into my mothers apartment with my key.  (Those of you who were “latchkey” kids would understand why a 10 year old would have her own key to the apartment.)  Most of the time, my mother would not be there.  She’d be out, somewhere, with whomever she was dating.  Sometimes, she would be there with her boyfriend and I would get stuck back on a train, heading back towards Manhattan after listening to my mother screech at my father at the top of her lungs about how the HELL he could not even notice his daughter had disappeared. 

Simple.  He was too stoned most of the time to even notice whether I was alive or not. 

“I thought she was upstairs, reading,” he would stammer, trying to stifle his laughter. 

“You’re an asshole, piece of shit,” she would continue.  Blah blah blah.

This was my world.  The world of the broken home. The world of having two sets parents who were so self-absorbed and involved in their own worlds that they never really saw the magnitude of what they were doing to their children. 

Truth be told, I think the divorce took a much deeper toll on me than it did on my brother.  My brother stayed in touch with “bio dad” long after I made the decision at 11 years old to never see him again.  I hated him, all he stood for and his selfish ways.  The last time I saw my father as a child, it was at my 11th grade graduation.  He showed up, after the ceremony of course, with some flowers.  I took a single photo with him and that is the only memory that I have of him that stands out in my head.  I saw him again, when I turned 19, in a chance meeting at a Florida mall while I was on Spring Break with some girlfriends.  We talked.  Ironed out a few things.  Said some things that needed to be said, but by this time, he was older…the age I am now, actually, and it seemed like life had beaten him up so badly, I couldn’t muster up all the venom and rage that 9 year old me wanted to throw upon him.

A mere 6 months after that chance meeting, my father was dead.  Killed by a heart attack caused by cocaine usage.  He was driving on the I-4 interstate when the heart attack occurred. He jumped the median and slammed into a Pepsi tractor trailer going in the opposite direction. 

In my utter distress, in my lack of being able to wrap my head around this…I made a joke out of it.  A morbid joke.  Something to the extent of “this time, Pepsi actually beat out Coke.”  No one appreciated the joke.  I was called “insensitive”, but I had experienced such a disconnect between me and this man that all I could rely upon was a macabre sense of humor to get me through.

Fast forward to now.  Right now.

My brother is having an affair.  He told me about it.  He didn’t need to.  I knew it was going on.  I could tell.  All the tell tale signs were there.  “My wife doesn’t understand me,” he would say.  He sought my advice and was appalled when I told him to go the hell home and work things out with your wife.  He thought I would have taken his side, told him to go…be happy!  Do your thing!  Live your life!  But as I looked at him, all I could see was my father.  He looks so much like him.  He sounds so much like him.  And in that, he represented everything I ever hated about my own selfish father. 

Recently, his wife found out about his affair.  She called me, crying, asking if he could come down here to stay with me for a few days.  He wanted to “clear his head” before making a decision about whether he would be staying with her or leaving her and her three beautiful children for this girl who “understands him”.  Of course, I told her.  Let him come down here.  Let him be with me and my family.  Let him see what a loving family unit is supposed to look like.  Let me talk sense into him.

He came…and it was the worst three days of my life in a very long time.

I have never seen such selfish, self absorbed behavior since my fathers existence on this planet.  He spent the entire weekend texting this girlfriend of his.  He ignored me when I tried to talk to him.  He ignored my kids, my grandkids who he has scarcely seen since they have been born.  All he wanted to do was go out and party.  “What is there to do in this town,” he carried on.  “What’s good?  Where are the clubs at?  Who’s coming out partying with me tonight?” 

And all I saw was my father…and the rage slowly boiled in my blood.

“I thought we were going to have some family time,” I said.

“Yeah.  Yeah, of course.  We’ll have family time.  But it’s the weekend.  So, let’s get this party going!  Where’s the Hard Rock?  Let’s go gambling!  I got a grand burning a hole in my pocket.  Let’s do this.”

Not the faintest hint of moral dilemma in his eyes.  No thought to his grieving wife back at home.  No thought to his three children, ages 9 through 13, who are suffering right now, listening to mommy cry at night as they go to bed.  The three of them acutely aware of what their father did…but having to suffer the consequence of his insanely selfish actions.  There was a lot of arguing between my brother and I. I would try to talk to him, try to get his face out of his phone and off the texting that was going on between him and this random girl (who, incidentally, DOES know my sister in law and apparently, does not care about sleeping with her husband).  I tried to keep my brother focused. 

“Go to the mall with your nephew,” I told him.  “He’s missed you.  Go spend time with him.”

My son reported back to me that Uncle spent his entire time at the mall walking alongside him with his face buried in the phone.  We went out for dinner.  Same thing.  Out for breakfast with family. Same thing.  Went to go visit my husbands family.  Same thing.  Face buried in that phone…no consideration to any one else.

And I finally exploded.

My brother declared he had to “get the fuck outta here”.  Apparently, the whore that he had taken up with was giving him ultimatums about coming home.  He was pacing the floors, gotta go gotta go gotta go gotta go.  Change my ticket change my ticket change my ticket now now now now now now.  It was around then that I released the wrath of 9 year old me all over him.  Everything that 9 year old me ever wanted to say to that stupid, selfish, piece of shit father of mine came flying out of my mouth.  Only now, it was 45 year old me, screaming it at my baby brother…who looks like the man, acts like the man.  We fought ferociously to the point where he was punching the dashboard of my car, jumping out of it in the middle of the highway and me, considering throwing my truck in reverse to run him over and leave him to join the same fate as his father…dying under the wheels of a truck.  All of a sudden, that wild rush came through me…and the fury was too huge to fight.  I couldn’t contain it any longer and in that instant, I wanted him to die…and I wanted ME to the be the one who put him in that box.  I wanted him to suffer for the things he did to me, but it wasn’t him. It was my father. I wanted him to suffer for the things I knew he was about to put my beautiful niece through.  She is now the same 9 year old little desperate girl that I was at the time, and I knew what lay before her.  I walked this road before…and I felt so justified in just removing my brother from this world to spare her all the pain.  Let her father die while she still loves him and still wants him in her life.  Let him just die that way…before she grows up hating him, blaming him for every failed relationship in her life.  Never trusting men ever again because she couldn’t trust the one who gave her life.  I just wanted to hear his body under the tires of my truck as I rolled over him again and again and again.

Fast forward once more.

I am at home.  He is gone, back on an airplane New York bound, on the way to ruin the innocent lives of my precious niece and my two nephews.  On the way home to destroy whatever little is left of my sister in laws self esteem.  He is going home to break everyone’s hearts.  My parents.  Her parents.  All the children involved.  And the last thing he said to me…”This isn’t about YOU, this is about ME!  It’s always been about ME!”

Yes.  Yes, “Dad”.  It was always about you.  And because it was always about you…hearts died in the process.

I turned on the song “Helpless” by Neil Young.  It is off the album “Everyone Knows This is Nowhere” and was one of my fathers favorite songs.  I put my head down and I cried.  I cried long and hard from a place so deep within me that I knew I was no longer an adult woman, but that little girl whose father destroyed her self esteem, her sense of security, her trust and faith and most of all, destroyed her life.  I wept so hard for this broken doll inside of me.  The pain was palpable.  I could feel her within me, so angry for never getting a chance to tell the real man who ruined my life what I really thought of him.  Angry, that now my relationship with my brother, my one link to that time in my life is now irretrievably broken. I cried for loss.  I cried from abandonment.  I cried for the realization that I was left to my own devices by my daddy when I was only 9 years old, the same age my niece is right now.  And wept harder still…because I know now, as a 45 year old woman, that I can never, ever get those moments back, nor can I save my niece from becoming a 45 year old woman who is going to inevitably look back with the same pain, grief and anger.

It’s been two days since my brother left town.

He sent me a text message.  “Left my sneakers there.  Can you ship them to me?”

No apology.  No “I’m sorry” for hurting you.  No sense of responsibility for the devastation he left in his wake.  No regret.  Just concern for his sneakers.

He is, after all, his father’s son.

And I sit here, my heart still torn wide open, trying to wrestle with the fact that I have all these open wounds that I thought were long gone, but realize now they were just scabbed up, waiting to be torn wide open to bleed, to fester, to become infected.  It is a painful realization to find out that what you thought you were so far past in your life, you never really resolved after all.  You just buried it deep down, burned it in a box and scattered the ashes somewhere.

Eventually, the winds of time blow them back at you.  You suffocate in their thickness as they choke you and blind you. You shake your head to clear your thoughts, to gain some sense of vision and clarity.  Then suddenly, you realize.   The game remains the same…only the players have changed. 

And like a lost little child on a subway heading to Queens at 2am…you brave it alone.

Home is only a few more stops away. 

Focus 52: "Line It Up"

 The prompt for this week was “line it up” and this being Memorial Day, I thought what better than to show a bunch of soldiers lined up, doing what they do best…protecting our freedom.  I knew that I wanted to find a touching photo online, perhaps a somber looking sunset with a flag at half mast while the silhouette’s of soldiers lined the bottom of the photo.  But, as I was perusing Google Images for ideas, I saw this photo.  I tried to find out who the original photographer was, but to no avail.  This, for me, was a beautiful way to endorse the prompt, salute Memorial Day and remind everyone that at the very basest level of any soldier is their heart.  Their ferocious, lion strong heart.  They are brave, true enough, but they are also tender, putting their job above their personal needs, the needs of their family and friends and above all, their own lives. 

In my life, I personally have not been effected by the loss of a soldiers life, but a friend of mine lost her beloved husband last year, a mere two weeks after turning 30 years old.  He was a baby.  A child himself, practically, with four little ones of his own.  Beautiful little ones, the oldest who may some day have faint, distant memories of his daddy…and the youngest, barely old enough to ever remember what her father looked like.

This is Sgt. Keith Adam Coe.  He was the beloved husband of my friend Trina, a girl I have known since she was barely out of high school herself.  I had not heard from Trina in years, though my best friend was still in touch with her here and there over the years.  Last year, my bestie told me that Trina lost her husband, Keith in Iraq.  He was killed in action.  I tracked Trina down on Facebook.  We talked.  We shared photos of Keith and her children and, we cried. Keith was killed by a roadside explosion in Northern Iraq on April 27th, 2010.  He was a dedicated and loving husband and father by all accounts.  My heart broke having to hear my friend of over a decade relay the pain and anxiety she was now feeling with this loss.  Scarcely thirty years old herself, she now finds herself widowed…the ultimate sacrifice of war.

I think about Keith and his friends, the fact that Keith did indeed die a hero while rescuing a friend.  It makes me both mournful and prideful.  He died doing what he loved and a job he was proud of.  He gave his all to protect his country, our liberties and our freedoms.  I find myself realizing, as I get older, that Memorial Day is more than beers and backyard barbecues.  It is about the men and women of the military giving the ultimate all to provide for their families and protect this country.  No matter what your politics are, no matter what side of the war fence you sit on, it is so important that you support these men and women who are merely doing their job.  You may not like the fact that we are at war. I sure as hell don’t, but I am not naive enough to believe that every soldier fighting in that war believes that they should be there fighting it either.  However, they have a job to do, no different than any of us.  They do their job even if they don’t necessarily agree with the politics behind it.  They do what needs to be done, sometimes at the expense of their own personal values.  There is honor in that.

On this day, for this F52 project prompt of “Line It Up”, I choose to line up a group of soldiers in the shape of a heart and hope that Keith Adam Coe knows how much he was loved and is missed by his family every single day. I truly hope to never have to hear that any of my friends have lost their spouse to this war ever again.  It hurts me, unbearably to the core, to know that Trina’s little ones will be growing up without their father.  But, if I know Trina as I do, she will make sure that their daddy is incorporated into their lives.  She will do fun things with them to honor him.  She will keep photos available to her babies and, as they get older, she will share the more intimate details about their father with them.  And, they will grow up to admire their father for his ultimate sacrifice, for his giving, loving heart and for being so very brave. 

God bless you and rest you well, Keith Adam Coe.  And to all the spouses, significant others and children of the men and women who serve so diligently…God bless all of you as well.  May your loved ones stay safe always.  May they always be protected, loved and most of all, supported by their fellow Americans.

Happy Memorial Day to all who have served.  And please, if you come across a soldier in your travels today, offer him a handshake and a thank you for a job well done.  It is the very least we can do for those who make incredible sacrifices so that we may enjoy our freedom.

I have to vent…

Okay, so Xmas is over. Finally. I have to admit that I absolutely hate this holiday. I think it is so commercialized and total bullshit. And, before anyone says it, it has nothing to do with being a Jew. I hate Channukah equally as much. Actually, I hate any holiday that demands you send cards, flowers, candy, presents and is lead by retail corporations and card companies. This includes Valentines Day as well. Garbage. You shouldn’t have one day a year to tell the person that you love how you feel about them. Just the same way that I hate the entire “Jesus is the reason for the season” crapola. Jesus is not the reason for the season. If you knew anything about Jesus at all, you would probably know that he would be positively appalled by all the gift giving and all the excessive purchasing that we do for our families. The man was rooted in the theory of “good works” as opposed to things. You want to celebrate Christmas? DO something. Feed the homeless. Clothe a child who has nothing. Adopt a child from another country through a Unicef type program and spend the damn twenty bucks to take care of them all month long. $240 a year will keep a child who is in a poverty stricken situation in clothes, in school, well fed and vaccinated against simple diseases that no child should ever die from. Volunteer. Go to a nursing home and read to the elderly. My kids know I have a die hard policy about donating their things to kids who are less fortunate before I buy you one single thing. I don’t exchange xmas presents with my husband for just that reason. We simply don’t believe in it. I bought my grandkids 3 toys each and two outfits. That’s it. Nothing crazy or excessive. Hubs and I spend our gift money on one another donating to St. Jude’s children’s hospital, the pediatric AIDS foundation, the American Cancer Society, etc. I’m not being holier than thou…I just believe that good works trumps good presents every time. I think that Xmas/Channukah should be about the kids, so I don’t really do the whole gift giving thing for the adults in my family. None of my siblings, parents, in laws, etc got presents from me. They know better than to expect it. I will sooner make donations to charity organizations in their names then send them a gift. My two exceptions this year were sending a gift basket of chocolatey yum yum red velvet cupcakes to friends who have been very supportive of the hotband and I this year. The other was to buy my bestie a dress that was absolutely screaming her name. I knew she would look beautiful in it and I wanted her to have it. She is always there for me and while I know damn well I don’t have to buy her anything to let her know how loved she is, I wanted her to have this particular item. It wasn’t expensive…but I knew she would be beautiful in it and she deserves that.

Okay, end that rant. So not what I wanted to vent about.

What I wanted to get out of my system is how seething mad I am at my sister in law. Ever since coming home from Israel, she has treated me like utter shit or rather, worse than usual. You would think that after 11 years of being with her brother, I have more than proven myself to be a good and loving wife to him. She should be happy about that, but no. Always an attitude. Well, in the past 3 months, she has managed to A) Not show up to my granddaughter’s birthday party because she went to a baby shower of a friend of a friend, B) Completely ignored my sons birthday and now, C) opted out of spending Christmas dinner with us because she went to her friends house instead.

Mind you, this is the same woman who used to torture my husband for all the time he was spending with me when he and I were first dating. She used to harass him about how I was consuming his whole life and how he was blowing off his “real family” to be with me and my kids. Well, good morning…but it’s 11 years later. I think we have pretty well established that I wasn’t some fling he was just blowing off his “real family” for. When her marriage collapsed, my hubs and I were there for her completely. Absolutely supportive of her and her endeavors. Whenever she needs someone to watch her son, we are there for her. We invite her and whoever she may be dating that particular month to anything we have. She is never excluded. Yet, she manages to keep herself at bay when it comes to me and my kids.

Admittedly, I used to blame my husband for this. I told him, why on earth would she think YOUR kids are important to you if you allow her to continue this behavior of not acknowledging them at all? But now, it’s gotten to the point where HE is upset by it. I used to tell him how shitty I thought it was that his family doesn’t acknowledge my kids. Hotband has raised Nick and Sam since they were 4 and 12 years old respectively. They are now 15 and 23, for God’s sake. I think it is pretty well established that he loves those kids as if they were conceived from his own loins. We don’t ever not acknowledge her son. That’s my husbands nephew…and I love him just as much as if he were my very own son. When my granddaughter had her birthday party…she simply never showed up for it. No call, no text, nothing. Then, this past October, my son had a small birthday party at a Go Kart track. He invited his cousin, my sister in laws son. He showed up without so much as a card (not his fault, entirely my sister in laws fault). If my son had been a friend of my nephews from school, she wouldn’t have dared to send her son without a gift or a card. So, my husband *finally* worked up the balls to say to her…”Hey, what you did was kind of rude”. First words out of her mouth? “Did your wife put you up to this?” Yeah. My fault. *eye roll* Because my husband couldn’t possibly feel a little slighted that his family STILL doesn’t bother to acknowledge my children as OUR children. I had to laugh at that.

Another example of her shittiness? We flew all the way to Israel for her sons Bar Mitzvah. Nearly five grand in flights and food, etc. PLUS we gave him a gift of well over $200. In the Jewish tradition…the number 18 signifies long life. So, we gave him $18 for every year of his life. He was turning 13, a huge occasion in a Jewish boys life. We gave him $234 cash. Not so much as a thank you from her. Okay, whatever. But the kicker for me? My parents, who are not related to her or my nephew, sent my nephew a check for his bar mitzvah. I thought that was a really nice gesture on their part. They certainly didn’t have to do that. Does she have him call and thank them? No. Can’t be bothered. One month goes by. Two months go by. THREE months go by. Finally, one day, she asked if we could watch her son. As always, we did…and I told my husband to make sure that my nephew CALLS MY PARENTS and thanks them for the gift. It took my husband having to make that phone call for my parents to receive a thank you. I think that’s absolutely disgusting, tacky and tasteless.

Anyway, back to Christmas. My daughter invited her to Christmas dinner. It’s a big deal for Sammi. She and her husband made this big, beautiful dinner for us and the kids. She extended the invitation to her “aunt” to join us. She writes on Facebook that she didn’t know what time dinner was. So, my son in law writes back that it is between 7 and 7:30. No show. No call. No text. No FB message. Nothing. I figure, maybe she decided just to stay home and be alone. Later on FB, I see a photo of her with her on again/off again boyfriend at the home of a friend, enjoying Xmas with them. Wow. Really? She never even called her own brother to wish him a Merry Christmas/Channukah. My husband is so hurt and upset by her actions…but he for some reason, refuses to confront her. Maybe because of something she said to him a LONG time ago. She once told him that if he chose me over her, she would disown him as her brother. I think that stuck in his head and is now afraid of losing his relationship with her. I couldn’t fathom telling my brother that and my bro and I aren’t even remotely as close as my hubs and his sister are/were.

I don’t really know where this post is going. I suppose that I chose to blog this instead of writing her a very confrontational letter. I am so sick and tired of this shit. The only thing I can think of is that she is avoiding us because she owes us a pretty large sum of money. Of course, that would be utterly ridiculous. We borrowed a few grand from her a long time ago when things were lean for us so it’s not like she should be ashamed of needing the help from us. For God’s sake, we are family. Isn’t that what family is supposed to be about? Being able to lean on one another when things get hard?

Look, I don’t care if she hates me. I have tried to reach out to her in every single way possible. She’s made it blatantly obvious she doesn’t care for me as a person…but what on earth does that have to do with the kids? Moreover, what kind of human being shows such blatant disrespect for their brothers children? My kids are my husbands children. He loves them desperately. No different than if we bore them together, or if he had adopted them with me. But, I suppose since they weren’t crafted from his semen that they just don’t matter to her. My husband was in the delivery room when his grandbabies were born. He witnessed both their births. He loves those kids. I know he is hurting over this. I try to refrain from saying anything to him about it, but I know he was really hurt that she didn’t show up tonight. I want so badly to call her up and say, “look bitch, hate me all you want…but you are killing your brother’s heart.”

The whole situation is just so fucking sad. 11 years later. You would think that she would realize that my husband and I are in this for the long haul. You would think she would care more. I don’t know what else to do or say without causing some irreversible damage. I have held my tongue til it literally bled. I don’t know how much longer I can do so…but for my husbands sake, I will make the effort.

In conclusion? Family sucks.

Day 7: Someone who has made your life worth living.

Oy. Really?

I hate this shit.

You know I am going to say the Hotband. You know I am going to say Nick. You know I am going to say Samantha. You know I am going to say my grandkids. Have you not read at least 604 posts all dedicated to them, the love they give me and the way they have held my head above water for the past five years? Writing this post will bore me to tears and, more than likely, that will trickle down to you.

So, instead, I am going to write it about someone who doesn’t hear my accolades too often.

Esther.

If not for Esther, half of the posts I write on here wouldn’t be worth reading. She is truly a gift in my life. Not because she’s a great mom (which totally depends on the day) but because she is so spontaneous, so without tact or forethought, so “from the heart to the lips”, that she is literally entertaining. Even at her most cutting, she is undeniably funny. No matter how rotten she is being, there is something hysterically funny about the things that irritate her. She is quirky as hell. I mean, who cleans the house because they don’t want the cleaning lady to see her house dirty? Who does that? Who designates an entire bedroom of a house to her dog, complete with monogrammed Lazy Boy chair, monogrammed towels that say “Max”, more photos of her precious pitbull in frames than of her own grandchildren and, mind you, his own SONIC CARE toothbrush?

Let me tell y’all. If you believe in karma, pray hard to come back in your next life as my mothers dog. That’s all I’m saying. She leaves the house for a few hours and she calls a babysitter for Max. I recall being 9 years old, my brother being six…and her going out for dinner with a boyfriend. No babysitter. Just “here ya go kiddies” as she put the TV dinners on the TV trays for us. “Be good, I’ll be home soon. I’ll have Sonja next door check in on you.”

But Max…a 13 year old Pitbull gets a dog sitter if she’s gone for more than 2 hours.

Pretty good life, if you can get it.

Overall, my mother is not a bad person. She doesn’t have much of a mind of her own. Her politics depend on whatever my father’s thinking involves. Her logic on certain subjects in incredibly flawed and dare I say on occasion, desperately uneducated. If she didn’t hear it on Fox News, it couldn’t have possibly happened. But, despite this, she is a source of a lot of the laughter in my life…now that she and I no longer live in the same state.

I will say that I have taken some of her best and worst traits for my own. We are both terribly and often inappropriately outspoken. We both don’t sit idly by for injustice. We will get involved when we see someone in trouble without much fear for our own personal safety. We are both crusaders that way. Very strong woman. On the flipside of that coin, we are both easily angered. We tend to get involved in things that don’t necessarily require our input. We can both be incredibly overbearing to the point of overshadowing others.

The difference that separates us most probably is tact. Spend 10 minutes with both of us, and I will come off looking like one classy dame. She’s got a mouth like battery acid and while I know how to flip the “off” switch on that…she does not. But if she did, what on earth would I ever have to write about?

So, Mom…this one is for you. Someone who has made my life worth living. You gave me life despite all the craziness in your life. You were a single parent with two little kids doing the very best you could. Was it always the right thing? God, no. Did you fuck up quite often? Definitely. But, in doing so…I learned from your mistakes as well. I am not saying I would be a better mother than you were…but a different mother. I know you grew up in a very abusive household, as did I. But you inspired me to break that cycle. And, while I didn’t always do a fantastic job of that, I did well enough so that now, when I see my daughter interact with her babies, I know for sure the cycle of abuse is officially broken. It’s over. No one will ever get hit again.

I forgive you, Mom. I DO love you. I know I don’t say it enough. I don’t know that I ever will, but as I watch you grow older, becoming a bit more reserved and not as quick as a whip with that vile tongue of yours, I find myself softened. Something in your eyes have lost that edginess and I see the first signs of an older, more frail human being. It allows me to let my guard down a little.

And, just when I become afraid that I will never see that side of you again, I wait for you to come visit, just so I can say “Bill O’Reilly sucks and Obama is the best President ever!” It winds you back up, you lose 25 years in your eyes…and you’re back to calling me a stupid bitch who doesn’t know shit.

I will always love you for that.

Day 5: Something You Hope to do With Your Life

This is going to sound so trivial. The answer came as quickly to me as the question did. What I hope to do with my life, I am already doing. In a lifetime, 44 years worth of drama, heartache, pain, suffering, highs and lows, etc., the only thing that I wished to be doing with my life right now is celebrating it.

That is precisely what I am doing.

For the first time in my life, I can look in a mirror and say “I’m happy”. Not just a little happy or happy with certain aspects of my life. No. Truly and legitimately happy with every single portion of my life right now.

Truth be known, I am one lucky bitch. I have a husband who absolutely adores me and lets me know this consistently through not only his words, but his actions as well. He is loyal, a hard worker, dedicated to his wife and kids, generous and above all, he is kind. Kind almost to a fault. He is the kind of man who buys a homeless person a sandwich on the street. He pulls over to give stranded motorists a boost even if he is running late for something. He calls 911 when he sees a car swerving all over the road and follows that car to make sure that no one is harmed until the police arrive and take over. He is a good soul. He makes an effort every single day to do something in the name of God and his family. He is truly a selfless human being and I am utterly honored and blessed to have him as a partner in life. My best friend in every single sense of the word.

My children. They are growing, thriving and are two of the most amazing young adults I have ever seen. My daughter is a fantastic mother, raising her two children under the age of two so adeptly and with such ease and grace. She makes it all look so easy, balancing her children with her responsibilities as a wife and a full time employee. Her husband has proven himself to be a good person and a very doting father. They just celebrated four years of marriage and seem to be happier now than ever before. My son. My son…my little musical prodigy, just began his first year of high school, leaving behind a football for his Les Paul. He is an individual through and through. He doesn’t take shit (like his mama) and he is thriving in school. He is polite, yet sarcastic. He is funny and articulate. And while he tries to act like he gives a shit about nothing (typical teenage boy AND he gets that from his mother as well), he is a caring, noble and honest person.

My grandchildren. Oy, the lights of my life. Sadie will be two years old soon. She drives everyone nuts with her independent attitude and her impatience. She is a diva in the making. Loves to climb, run, jump and do everything all the boys do. She is an absolute angel. Liam, my little chubster. The little man. Bubba Schwaz as we call him, much to my daughters chagrin. The most docile baby you will ever meet. Always happy. Just wants to be held all the time and loves to snuggle. The two of them are absolute blessings in my husband and my life.

My parents. God love ’em both. Esther and Harold. Both alive and kicking, driving each other crazy. They are insane, loud, boisterous, annoying…and I wouldn’t have them any other way. Dad turns 70 years old this year, a huge milestone for someone who was very ill once upon a time. I am grateful to have them in my life and to have them be as supportive as they are. I also am grateful to have Esther 1200 miles away. 😉

My home is large and inviting. My cars run. We have a savings that allows us to vacation once or twice a year. My husband makes a good enough living that it has allowed me to go back to school and work towards my Masters degree in Social Work. I want to work with addicts and also with GLBT and Questioning Youths. I am doing a lot of volunteer work with The Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org), an organization that is working with gay and lesbian children and teens in the hopes of protecting them against bullying and taunting. With the recent rash of suicides that have taken place among this particular demographic, it is more important than ever to me to dive into my volunteering head first and make my education really count for something.

My dogs are fine and shit in my kitchen on a daily basis. My cats are wonderful.

Lastly, my friends. I have spent the past year weeding out the poison, carefully cultivating the garden so that only the most voluminous flowers will bloom there. Sure, there were some tricky spots along the way. I pulled a few weeds that were really flowers in disguise. I planted some gorgeous flowers that turned out to be venus fly traps. But now…now I think I’ve got it to where I need it. To where I want it. To where I can be the great big oak tree and be surrounded by the beautiful landscape of my carefully formed and nurtured friendships. This has been a year of surprises for sure. Those I would have never thought I could have trusted in a million years turned out to be ferociously loyal friends. Then, there were the friends that I thought I knew oh so well, who turned out to be nothing more than the fertilizer…the absolute SHIT in my field of beauty.

Regrets along the way for some missteps with a few of them? Certainly. But none so compelling that I feel the need to make further amends than I already did. One managed to surprise me…but what surprised me more was how little I ended up caring in the long run. As long as I have those who know me and love me, flaws and all, I am a-okay in my little world.

So, something I hope to do with my life? I’m doing it. I’m living it. I’m living it happily and I am living it well.

It was a long time coming.