Author Archives: onehipdiva

Love Is Love 😻

Love Is Love 😻

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Always in need of tech support, this baby boomer has never lacked for love and affection from my sweet cat, Ethel. When the pandemic hit and I began to work from home, I swear Ethel would follow me around the house and wait longingly for me to sit down somewhere so that she could warm up in my cozy lap.

It’s a rainy day today in California and I just lit some incense, poured myself some hot tea, and grabbed my latest read: The Seekers Guide- Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser.  A perfect rainy day scenario.  Except for my little lap blanket.

Last week, after I found Ethel hiding under my desk in my office, I knew it was her time. The large tumor on her hind leg had become a nuisance for her and she was determined to take care of it herself.  I will spare you the details.

I picked Ethel up in a soft blanket and put her in bed with me where we cuddled and kissed (I know! I know!) until the morning.  I told her I loved her and that I would always take care of her.  17 years is not long enough when we’ve been partners in crime 24/7 since the day we chose each other from the litter.  “She looks worried!  I’ll take this one!”  And away we went to begin our journey together.

Ethel, being that she was a feral cat, was a lover and a fighter.  She disliked other cats especially “Toby” who used to come over and try to make friends with her.  One afternoon when she was growling at Toby and thinking about tearing him limb from limb, I made the mistake of picking her up and asking her to try to be sweet to other animals.

One Kaiser visit and 14 stitches later, Ethel and I made our peace and she was truly remorseful.  That Monday at work my students thought I had had “some work done”.

I sold my house and purchased a townhome that was being built at the time.  In the interim Ethel and I moved in with my man friend, Dale.  Dale’s two 80 pound dogs tried their best to be friends with Ethel but when she walked past them in the hallway they hugged the walls to allow her to pass.

Being that Dale lived out in the country, I kept Ethel inside so as not to be eaten by the local coyotes.  One morning  as I was preparing emails for work and having my coffee, Ethel decided to jump up on the kitchen counter and leap out of the second story window!  (Secretly, I felt sorry for those coyotes! 😻)  Ethel managed to fend for herself that day until I got home from work at which time I had to throw a blanket over her in order to get her into the house (and save myself from another trip to Kaiser)!

We finally moved in to my new townhouse.  Ethel roamed the new neighborhood and made it clear to all of the resident cats that she had now arrived.  Poor “Chunk” next door wasn’t allowed out of the house so Ethel would sit on my neighbor’s front porch and torment him through the window where he sat jealously perched on the back of the couch looking out at her.

There are other fun facts about Ethel.  Opening a can of garbanzo beans could rouse her from a deep sleep from anywhere in the house.  I would pour a little bit of the bean juice on her food before making my hummus.  Truly a Lebanese cat she was.

Ethel understood and responded to requests of “lie down” and “give me kisses”.  She loved to sleep on my head at night and run her claws through my tangled curly hair.  Sometimes she would drool in my ear.  (ew.. gross)

But you know…

Love is love.

Some of us love chocolate.  Some love horror movies.  Some love rainy days.

❤️

I loved my Ethel.

Being a long distance Sitti and Mom…

Being a long distance Sitti and Mom…

 

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I recently returned from a quick and dirty fun-filled trip to Nashville to see Peter, Brianna and my two precious grandsons- Bear and Boe.  It had been a while, so this Sitti (Arabic for Grandmother) was itching to get as many hugs and kisses in as possible during the visit.

I am filled with thoughtful reflection about my five days on the floor, climbing in and out of playground tunnels and zooming down slides, sorting through legos and trucks, jumping on pillows, bending down to help little hands drive little vehicles, playing Uno and Candyland, practicing reading and making silly words out of vowels and consonants and loving every head bang and diaper change while simultaneously singing “I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor” over and over again.

I won’t lie..

This 65 year old body was ready for a quiet four and a half hour flight home in an aisle seat with my glass of water and bag of pretzels.

It’s challenging being a long distance Sitti.  You have to pile all the love, presents, angst and intention into a multi-day window of concentrated and intense togetherness that is probably better budgeted out into smaller and more absorbable portions.  But it’s the best we can do with the 2000 plus mile distance between us.  I find myself yearning to hear things like “Mom, can you pick Boe up from school today” or “Hey mom, can you babysit this Saturday night?”

My son Peter and I had a chance to talk one evening over an adult beverage after the boys were tucked in and then again before I left for the airport.  We talked about raising sons and what it was like for me to have three little ones under 5 years old.

Frankly, I have trouble remembering!  I just know that it was hard work and looking back I was crazy to not get more household help!  I told him that I thought he and Breezy were doing a wonderful job and I was impressed with the “sleep training” and the 7pm bedtime, all of the kid friendly kitchen utensils and cups and the multi-bag deliveries from Whole Foods including fresh flowers for each of the boys’ bedrooms.  Such a sweet gesture.

When I come to Nashville I walk into their world and it’s a different world than the one I raised Peter and his brothers in.  We had no internet.  No google to search.  No “Alexa, set the timer for 10 minutes”.  No grocery delivery.  (Although there was a drive through dairy that was fun for getting the occasional popsicle!)

I got my parenting advise from my wise and highly experienced mom (of six), The Gesell Institute and T Berry Brazelton.  I subscribed to the “toy of the month club” and diligently studied the instructions for each toy to make sure I understood the developmental milestones being reinforced.  I depended on Le Leche to help me with breast feeding and I had my mother tribe to meet with at the park or call in a desperate moment from the wall phone in the kitchen.  (Oh Lordy, I’m dating myself!)

I told Peter that we still live in different worlds.  We each have our own peer group- he and Breezy have their friends  who are immersed in the business of raising children.  And I have mine.  A partner who loves and supports me and vibrant women friends who have done their time raising families and who are now navigating the next chapter of their lives- finding an encore career or retiring all together- selling all their belongings and traveling the world in an Airstream!

Yet, most importantly, we are all asking ourselves how we might find a place in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

The generation gap is huge.  Yet the chasm is manageable when we can have heart to heart conversations like this one.

I shared with Peter how devastating it was to lose my mom to cancer when I was 30.  Peter was just one year old.  I told him other things that he was too young to remember.  And personal things about me that he would have been too young to understand.  And why not?

How old do our children have to be before we tell them who you really are?

Are they old enough at 36 years old to know the struggles we had at their age?  To know our vulnerabilities and our weaknesses?  To unearth stagnant memories and harvest understanding?  To change the narrative? To garner acceptance and forgiveness?

At the airport we circled a few times so that we could finish our conversation- to be sure that we ended our time together with understanding and closure.  Peter suggested that.

Being a long distance Sitti and a long distance Mom is challenging.  But it has its advantages.  There is focused time to be together, to be intentional, and to dig deep.  It’s like concentrated orange juice before you dilute it.

It’s sticky.. yet oh so sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is Stronger Than Death- Song of Solomon 8:6

Love Is Stronger Than Death- Song of Solomon 8:6

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This is a portion of my extended family gathered at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery to celebrate my step mother Adele Pearl Shaheen’s 100 years of life and love.  My siblings, their spouses, their children and their children’s children.  We are a force to be reckoned with.  Adele inherited us when she married my dad half a century ago.  She took it in good stride considering that she didn’t have her own children.  Fully bathed and baptized into instant family, she never complained.

My siblings and I were raised Catholic but we were quick to decide that no priest could give Adele a better send off than we could on our own.  Lord have mercy!  Since most of us had not been to this cemetery in years- not since our brother, our mother and our father were buried- we decided to make this a pilgrimage of sorts.

We began at my brother, Bobby’s grave.  He died at 41 of an invasive brain tumor.  Chris, his wife, did a reading and a reflection and we shared a few “Bobby stories” of which there were many!  We laughed and cried a bit and sang two verses of Amazing Grace- my nephew Nick said “if Obama can do it I can!”- and then moved on to my mom Dorothy’s grave, a few steps up the hill.

I read a blog that I wrote several years ago- 25 Things I Learned from my Mom.  We talked about the gospel that she always hated- the one about Mary and Martha sitting with the disciples (read- the men) at the feet of Jesus.  As the story goes Martha made everyone something to eat and Mary sat and enjoyed hearing what Jesus had to say.  Jesus said that Mary took the better path.  That really pissed my mom off and on the way home from Mass she said “If Jesus wanted lunch he should have gotten in the kitchen and helped to peel the potatoes!”

More laughter.  More tears.  Two more verses of Amazing Grace and thank you to brother Ronnie and his electronic pitch pipe to keep us all in key.

We got in our cars to jettison over to the cremation section of the cemetery, where our dad and step mother, Adele, are buried. (The Catholic Church is adamant about it’s parishioners being buried in a Catholic Cemetery and not scattered over hill and dale where, God forbid, their souls could be intercepted by unearthly forces.)  We quietly discuss the issue of who will you be married to whom in heaven?  Wife #1 or wife #2?  It is a mystery of which we are accustomed- being that we are Catholic.  What cannot be explained is a mystery.  Transubstantiation?  It’s a mystery.  The Virgin birth?  It’s a mystery.  Why priests can’t get married?  It’s a mystery.

Why more priests aren’t in prison?  The ultimate mystery.

I read a little note that I had kept in my bible that Adele wrote to me in 1988 the morning after my dad’s 70th birthday party.  She wrote “I just feel so blessed in this wonderful family and the place you all have created for me in your affection.”  Let it be said that we all appreciated Adele so much.  She loved my dad and made him feel like a king.  It was good to see him so happy.

More prayers, song and remembrances…  and Ronnie sang Adele’s favorite song, Oh Danny Boy.

There were many things we discovered about Adele after my dad died.  She was a college graduate.  She had a brother who died by the name of “Danny”.  She had cancer at 21 and was never able to have children.  So she kept to herself lest she deny a man the privilege of being a father.  She met my dad in her 50’s and walked into a very large and boisterous family that rivaled her peaceful Irish Canadian roots and surprised her with an amoeba-like inclusiveness and tentacles of unconditional love.

My niece Katie and her husband Jason lived with Adele for the past seven years.  Their little boy, Lincoln, grew up with his great grandmother since day one.  Adele and Lincoln fed the birds in the garden in the morning, sparred over all the candy and cookies in the house and occasionally flew drones together in the living room.   My niece looked after Adele, allowing her to live her last years in her own home with all the comforts, including her cat Monté.  (That’s French for Monty.)  And yes-  Adele spoke French as well.

100 years of life…  it’s truly something to celebrate and contemplate.  We gathered after the “ceremony” for food and family bonding.  The cousins went out for an “after-party” to talk some more.  (…probably about us old people and what the heck they are going to do with us when the time comes!)

I’ve had the draft of this blog in my wordpress dashboard for a week or so.  I couldn’t seem to find the right ending. Today my niece, Katie, posted this on her Instagram:

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love.  It’s all the love you want to give but cannot.  All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest.  Grief is just love with no place to go.”  ~Jamie Anderson

 So if we love well, we grieve.  And we take all those tears and lumps and love some more.

And love is stronger than death.

So there you have it.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mother in law, Louise Healy🙏🏼

My mother in law, Louise Healy🙏🏼

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I am writing this on the cusp of the first anniversary of my mother in law’s passing.  This picture was taken in our back yard in Whittier, California on Mother’s Day.  I’m going to guess that I was 35ish and she was 68ish.  My own mother had died five years prior so the two of us were the guests of honor on this day.  She came over looking glamorous and rested and I wrestled three little boys all week, grocery shopped, cleaned the house and made an exquisite brunch for all of us.  I’m not quite sure I liked her in this picture but this well bred obedient Catholic school girl respected her and honored her on this special day.

The definition of mother-in-law in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows: The mother of someone’s husband or wife.  (No mystery here…)  But when I scrolled down on the page there was a question!  “What made you want to look up mother-in-law?”

Mostly the answers had to do with the spelling of mother-in-law and the plural of mother-in-law.  Also why is it called a mother-in-law quarters?  But down near the end of the comments, a woman by the name of Liz Mayott wrote:

“I love my mother-in-law ❤️.”

Ah.. just why do mother-in-laws get such a bad rap?  I’m sorry to report that the Urban Dictionary defines mother-in-law as “a horrible beast”.  And father-in-law as the sainted man who lives with one’s mother-in-law!

Here’s my best guess…  Mother-in-laws have to learn to play second fiddle to mothers.  When each of my three sons was born I wanted nothing more than my mother to come over and cook for us, swaddle our babies and take care of us and I totally let her.  My mother-in-law waited patiently in the wings until she was invited.  Mother-in-laws know their place.

And MY mother-in-law worked it!

First it was the home cooked meal she delivered when I came home from the hospital with my first son.  It was called “Luxury Stew” and it was so delicious and nurturing that I wrote down the recipe to make again.  But it was so much better when she made it.

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Then came the home made blankets.  Beautiful cross stitched kittens on soft cotton batting.  Crocheted pastel coverlets and tiny baby sweaters. The homemade Christmas stockings that I still stuff every year-  now with things like lottery tickets and hand sanitizer and other accoutrements of young men.  And the handmade Christmas ornaments that I swear multiplied in the storage boxes between Decembers!

She wormed her way into my heart.

The last time I visited my mother-in-law was two years ago.  I was 62ish and she was 93ish.  The two of us had learned a lot in the last 25ish years.  Basically, neither of us had changed much but certainly we both had softened in our appreciation for each other. And we had some important things in common that bonded our relationship.

Both of us mothers of three grown sons.

Both of us now mother-in-laws.

(Interesting how the generation gap between a 35ish year old and a 68ish year old can shrink in 25ish or so years.)

I might not have had a lot of good feelings for my mother-in-law, Louise, on that Mother’s Day in my backyard in Whittier, California.  But I hung in there with her.  She kept her boundaries and played second fiddle like all mother-in-laws have to do.  She knew her place with me.  I respected her.  And I grew to love her.  She stole my heart when I was not looking.  I’m sure you won’t find that in any dictionary.

She passed away a year ago on April 16th.  Her sons are planning a celebration of her life this summer as restrictions open up with Covid 19.

It seems appropriate to post a picture here of me and my two beautiful daughter-in-laws.

Nazaneen and Brianna, please forgive me in advance for all my mother-in-law indiscretions!!  😱

 

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Be careful what you wish for…

Be careful what you wish for…

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I’ve had this bumper sticker posted on my electrical box for a couple years now.  New stainless steel refrigerators are no longer magnetized, sadly.  It’s been a motto for me in my personal life and in my work life as well.  I have one on the door of my office for students to see when they come for appointments. But no one has seen this message this year.

This year has been different.  Is this what I was longing for?  Not exactly..

I’m planning a small get together for my son’s 40th birthday and I’m totally out of my wheel house!  I don’t know how to entertain more than three people at a time anymore and the thought of it overwhelms me. Life has become so simple and slow with the onset of Covid19 and a world pandemic.

My days consist of jumping on zoom and meeting with teenaged girls and sitting through sleep inducing zoom faculty meetings.  I clean the house. I put food in the bird feeder outside.  I go to the market.  I read books.  Cook dinner.  Take hikes.  Have a glass of wine and watch episode after episode of Schitt’s Creek.

From sun up to sun down the pattern repeats.  The world has slowed down.

Yesterday I got my second vaccine.  I stood in line in the hot sun for two hours contemplating the plight we’ve all been through- examining the various shapes and sizes of people waiting in line with me- wondering what their year has been like.  As I sat in the after vaccine area for the required 15 minutes, I began to cry- the significance of the event weighing heavy on me- my humanity, my sense of community and how it’s been said over and over “We are all in this together”.

But we were not.  In my work with my students, beginning last March, I heard about parents being laid off.  About food insecurity and financial stressors.  One student and her siblings were helping their parents shop and deliver Instacart  on the weekends in order to make ends meet.  A teacher lost both her parents in the early days of covid before treatment was honed.  The news showed bodies being transported to refrigerated trucks juxtaposed to our then President claiming that the virus was all going to disappear magically.

What a mind fuck…

Today I hiked my favorite loop and contemplated the past year.  I love this hike because it is a four mile trek and it’s impossible for me to get lost.  So I can get lost in my thoughts.  It’s my meditation.  My labyrinth.  I walk and things become clearer.  I walk and I let go of my stress and worries.  I walk and I pray.

Going forward, what do I want to take with me as I emerge from my personal cloud of isolation?

My weekly zoom with my brothers.

More home cooking and less eating out.

Less bullshit and more authenticity with the people I love.

An appreciation for everything I have- not the material things but the intangibles- family, a home, enough to eat, friends and an able body to move forward as I emerge from the quarantine gingerly and carefully.

Next year will be different.  Kinder.  Not so busy.  More intentional.  Let’s continue to remind one another about where we have been and what it was like.  Let’s hold each other accountable to appreciate everything that makes life wonderful or at least bearable.  Let’s not forget what this year has been like for many who didn’t make it through as easily as others.

Let’s continue to meet outdoors for hikes and picnics.  Let’s keep in touch with our now perfected zoom skills.  Let’s remember to quell our busyness and balance our lives with personal relationships and meaningful conversations.  Let’s listen more and talk less.

As we watch Schitt’s Creek episode after episode, my son says to me “Mom, the whole point of this show is that they lost everything and now they live in this shit hole hotel together.  But it’s bringing them together as a family!”  He’s watched all of the seasons already but he’s rewatching them with me.  And we are laughing together out loud!

So apropo and relevant.

Easter Sunday has snuck up on me and instead of traditional Catholic Mass followed by salty ham and a food coma we will be taking an early morning hike and feasting on some fresh eggs from the One Acre Farm in Morgan Hill.  My spiritual life has been less contingent on the church calendar since I’ve been working remotely at my Catholic high school position as a counselor.  There are fewer reminders of Lent and fasting and abstinence, hair shirts and self-flagellation.  I do miss the music and the community.  But I’ve gone inward and found a personal sanctuary of peace and tranquility that has little to do with the rituals of organized religion.

And I like it here.  I think I’ll stay.  I kind of like this slowed down world.  How about you?

 

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Craving God 🔥

Craving God 🔥

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Dale and I were on a hike yesterday and as usual, when I am in motion, I get loose lips.  “I feel guilty.  I’m working from home.  No makeup.  No dress up.  No gas expenditures.  And I’m pulling in a good salary.  So are you.  This shelter in place has been sort of nice for us.  But not for others.  I feel guilty.”

Dale’s response? “It’s the Catholic in you.”

I was grateful for his comment.  He noticed.  Even though my Sunday Mass attendance has been abysmal and at times I can cuss like a sailor.  You can take the girl out of the Catholic but you can’t take the Catholic out of the girl.  Maybe I’m still going to heaven.  Who knows.

On the downhill, Dale wants to run.  I say go ahead.  I’d rather walk.  And walk in silence with this beautiful sky.  It’s Holy Thursday and I am craving God.

It’s true.  I do Catholic everyday.  I work for a Catholic high school.  We pray.  We sing.  We work on being in community.  All the things that are meaningful for me.  But with all the controversy in the Catholic church and my growing concern that women will never be priests- it’s all caught up with me.  Some despair.  Some dissatisfaction.  Some disbelief.  Did Jesus really wash the feet of the apostles?  Did they really nail him to a cross?  Did he really rise from the dead?

I do like to believe that the women were the first to see that the stone had been rolled away at the tomb.  That might be my favorite part of the Easter story.  And Veronica.. how she wiped the face of Jesus and it left an impression of his face on her veil.  I love that..

Later, over a home cooked meal of pot roast and salad with Dale’s favorite dressing, blue cheese, we agree on a news station to watch.  (That’s a challenge for us.. )  PBS is covering how people are practicing their faith during this holy week.  There is a spotlight on the Muslim religion and how they celebrate Ramadan- fasting from dawn till sunset- it’s a time of prayer, giving, and self evaluation.  Prayer together is so essential to this community and not being able to be together in prayer at the mosque is very sad for Muslims.  When they break the fast, there is much celebration and food and people who are not as fortunate are invited and included.  And there is so much joy.

I’m thinking of my own Catholic traditions.  Tonight at 7pm, Holy Thursday services will be streamed from Bellarmine College Prep, the high school my three sons attended.  Regardless of my doubts and my reservations, I want to be on the other side of that screen.

I feel spiritually depleted.

I am craving God 🔥

 

 

 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. ~ Kahlil Gibran, On Marriage

Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. ~ Kahlil Gibran, On Marriage

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Of all the hundreds of wedding pictures taken at Patrick and Nazaneen’s glorious wedding, this one intrigues me the most. Two very intuitive young lovers dancing their first dance as husband and wife.  What is Patrick saying to his beautiful bride?  I wonder…

My father gave me the book “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran when I was a teenager.  I’ve referred to its’ wisdom time and again

when I fell in love

when I got married

when I had children.

I am watching the dance with admiration and the utmost respect.  And maybe just a little bit of envy.  I was so young when I got married- 22 years old.  I knew very little about life and love.  My father told me often that he didn’t think my husband treasured me enough or loved me enough or protected me enough.  I laughed it off, thinking that he was just a jealous dad and he was bitter that some man took me away from him.

But as I have watched these two fall in love and plan for their future I have seen my son very intentionally take his role as a partner, a protector, and a provider.  And I have seen beautiful Nazaneen, as she tenderly takes Patrick’s face in her hands to kiss him, so in love and so devoted to his happiness.  I am certain that they were born to be together.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.  ~ Kahlil Gibran, On Love

There is something so inspiring about a marriage ceremony.  It makes you fall in love all over again.  Not just with someone but with life and living.  It renews one’s faith in the order of the universe.  It makes one believe in good things ahead.  In this time of political strife and climate horrors, people are committing to love.  I believe that it makes a difference.  Maybe Marianne Williamson is right?  Maybe love is the answer.

At the end of their marriage ceremony Patrick took Naz’s hands and in perfect Farsi said these words:

Dooset Daram, Ashegetam, azizam, Ghorboonet Beram.

..at which a gasp/sigh floated up from the guests- at least from the guests who knew Farsi. The rest of us were left with wondering.

What did Patrick say to her?

Amidst the excitement and celebration with family and friends, I forgot to ask Patrick what it meant until weeks later.    He said:

I love you.

I am in love with you, my dear.

I would die for you.

Patrick, Papa would be so proud. ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mandatory Pre-Wedding Mother/Son Lunch #2

Mandatory Pre-Wedding Mother/Son Lunch #2

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Patrick Francis Healy, my “middle child”, my #2 son, is getting married next weekend.

Named after St. Francis of Assisi and my father Edmund Francis Shaheen.  A classic Irish name with a bow to his grandfather, William Healy.  A lover of nature, an artist, a true renaissance man outstanding in his field.

After almost two days of laboring, Patrick was born with his brown eyes wide open to check out the world.  I think he was impressed.  We had a quick snuggle before the nurses whisked him away to the nursery to observe him.  “He’s too quiet”, they said.

In my hospital bed looking out the window at the stars, I couldn’t roll over and get comfortable.  He was still with me.  Safely tucked just under my heart.

My phantom limb.

Once home, Patrick was forced to contend with his two year old brother, Robert, who by the way was NOT quiet or tranquil.  Nonetheless, he almost immediately slept through the night and even when he wasn’t asleep, he would just lie in his crib, taking in his new digs.  His dad and I would look at each other and ask “Where did he come from?”

Robert loved him and would climb into his crib in the morning to talk to him and show him the many stuffed animals adorning.  Their bond has strengthen through the years.  I’ve often drawn a parallel to their lives with the story of the Prodigal Son.  (But that would be an entirely different blog!)

Nothing really ever rattled Patrick. He was happy playing with his GIJoes and reading his books on his own.  That is, until Peter was born and his status was disrupted.  But he quickly adjusted and life became even more fun and interesting with a little brother.

“He’s quiet”.  Those words spoken in the delivery room couldn’t have been more prophetic.  Quiet until he has something to say.  Quiet because there are creative things churning away in his very intuitive mind.

Walking to the park with my three sons after my mother died, Patrick so sweetly chimed  “Wouldn’t it be fun if Sitti was with us?”  He was 3 1/2 years old.

On the anniversary of my mother’s death, I put some of her perfume on just to have her close.  In the kitchen during breakfast Patrick said “You smell like Sitti!”  She had passed 7 years prior, and Patrick still remembered her comforting scent.

When we lived in Portland, we had a roof leak over some built in book shelves.  It rained (go figure..) and my books were ruined.  He helped me pull them off the self and dry them one by one.  “Oh Mom.. your books!”  At 14 years old he knew what was important to me and I was deeply touched by his empathy and caring.

I went to Patrick’s room to just chat one evening when he was in high school.  He was busy with a writing assignment.  I asked “What are you writing?”  He responded “An apology letter to the Dean of Students.  It has to be two pages.”  I said “What in the heck did you do?”  Later I learned that it was something rather significant that involved some shenanigans with several of his friends.  But Patrick took it in stride and did what he needed to do to rectify the situation.  Quietly.  Deliberately.  He took responsibility.   And then he put it behind him.

After leaving for college at CAL Berkeley, Patrick continued to come home every weekend.  I was always happy to see him but I finally asked him why he wasn’t staying at school and getting involved and making new friends.  He calmly responded “I don’t like the food in the dorm.”  And of course he had learned from me from a very early age that food is love.  So I figured he came home for some food.  And some love.

“He’s quiet”.  To be honest it was a rare moment to see Patrick rattled.  But see it I did when he came home from three years of graduate school in Denver.  He wanted to stay there.  He wanted a job there but he didn’t get one. Probably one of the first times he didn’t attain what he set out to get for himself.  We talked for hours.  I could feel his disappointment and distress.  I felt helpless.  I had never seen him so dejected.

But get a job he did in Santa Clara at Verde Design where he had interned after getting his BA in Landscape Architecture.  He wasn’t expecting to go back there.  He wanted something different.

Nonetheless, he found a place to live.  He made a spreadsheet of his expenses.  He pulled himself together and started that job at Verde.  A couple weeks in he heard the click click of a co-worker’s heels as she approached her desk after being on vacation in Spain.  Click Click.  I think he knew.  She appeared out of nowhere.

“He’s quiet”.  He holds his cards close to his heart.  After a two year warm and wonderful friendship, he finally risked everything to tell Nazaneen that he was falling in love with her.  And a year later they were engaged.

Today, when Patrick and I had our lunch together, we talked about having a partner in life and how important it is.  How the burdens and the worries of life are so much easier when they are shared.  I encourage him to continue to spoil her and make her feel special.  I crossed the line of politically correct and told him that every woman wants to be loved and taken care of.  (Shoot me now..)

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my Patrick Francis will be a compassionate, supportive and caring husband.  And Nazaneen is just the woman who will appreciate his still waters that run deep.

We finished off our lunch today at the hair salon in Morgan Hill- Patrick a nice trim and style.  Mom- some highlights and a cut.  After Patrick left, Carolyn, the stylist, commented on what a wonderful young man Patrick is.

I know.  I’ve known it from the start.  My middle child. My #2 son.  He will always be tucked right below my heart.

My phantom limb.

Magical …

Magical …

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You know my heart and its ways

You who formed me before I was born

In the secret of darkness before I saw the sun

In my mother’s womb

~Psalm 139

Welcome to the world little Bear. One more sleep and I will hold you in my arms.  ❤️ Your Sitti

 

What are we busy about?

What are we busy about?

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“Your right ovary is enlarged.  That’s unusual after menopause.”

This is not something you want to hear from your gynecologist when your mother died from ovarian cancer at 61 years of age.  I stare at the ceiling and try to stay calm.

“Let’s schedule an ultrasound.”

I go mute.  I don’t ask any questions.  So unlike me.  I accept my sentence and graciously take my referral paperwork from the nurse and half listen to her instructions.  I need to get to work for a meeting at 9am.  I’ll process this later.  It’s Wednesday and life is busy.

On the following Monday evening, in anticipation of my early morning ultrasound appointment, I decide to go through my personal books.  In a Marie Kondo moment when I sold my house on Del Monte, I gave away boxes and boxes of books to the library.  I have to admit it was NOT life-changing magic.  It was like cutting off an arm.  What I have left on my bookshelves are most treasured.

I paged through them one by one- reading underlined sentences and comments written in the margins and tearing up over little pictures and holy cards I stuffed away in the pages intentionally.  It was the best kind of treasure hunt.  But who was this woman who read all these books and hungrily devoured their content?  What happened to her?  And where is she now?

I contemplate the woman I have become.  I’m busy.  Too busy.  But what am I busy about?

Meetings, counseling teenagers, paperwork, data, traffic duty, chaperoning dances juxtaposed with weddings, new grand babies, summer vacation…   how could I ever fit in (God forbid) surgery, radiation, chemo, oh my.  The what ifs took over.

The wine helped. I got a pricey bottle of red just for the occasion.

The next morning in the middle of yet another meeting I received an email from my doctor with a clean bill of health. It’s just a fibroid- nothing to be concerned about.  Back at work I feel relieved- yet oddly changed.  What matters?  What am I missing here?

And the larger more encompassing question… would it take a debilitating illness in order to give myself permission to step off this hamster wheel?

I started this blog over a month ago.  Hoping that a clever ending would make it’s way into my consciousness during a bike ride or a hike.  That’s what usually happens.  But nada, zilch.

What are you busy being about?  What are you planning on doing “some day”?  When the dishes are done.  When you finish the landscaping outside.  When you quit your day job.  When you win the lottery.

What are you waiting for?