Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Magpie #7 Daffodils

You know the routine by now. Go here if you want to read more takes on this weeks Magpie prompt.

Flowers. I never paid them much attention. But one of the things my wise mother taught me: "every man must know his gal's favorite flower". So I know all about the Daffodil.

I bought her thick bunches of them when we began dating during the spring of 1999.

They were in her bouquet when we married the following spring.

She planted them around our home to greet the warmer weather each year. They lined the sidewalk that leads up to our front door. She scattered little groupings throughout the flower beds surrounding the front of our house. But her favorite Daffodils are planted out back in the flower beds near her three season porch. There, if the temperatures are warm enough, she will open the windows while she drinks her morning coffee just to smell their fragrant offerings.

I brought her home a bouquet of Daffodils the day after she told me the news that we were going to have our first baby. Cost me a pretty penny considering they were out of season. She smiled while inhaling deeply and said "Do you realize that the baby is due in the spring? Maybe he will be greeted by our Daffodils when we bring him home."

And he was. But by that time I had come to hate those Daffodils.

Modern medicine shouldn't allow women to die during childbirth. I didn't even realize that kind of thing happened anymore. We entered that hospital holding hands, full of happiness and anticipation.

I left hollow, alone and empty handed. Our baby boy would stay a few days just to make sure he was okay. I had "arrangements" to make.

The funeral home was full of Daffodils. It seems everyone knew it was her favorite flower.

While standing at the grave site, I noticed Daffodils growing on other graves here and there. Their yellow faces all seemed to be turned in our direction offering their condolences.

Some of the Daffodil arrangements were brought back to our home after the funeral to sit on the counters and tables during the meal someone planned after the burial. I don't know who did all these things. I was living in a blur.

Our baby boy had come home that same morning. My sister-in-law came with me to pick him up. Made sure we had all the things we needed to bring him home. All the things my wife had lovingly picked out for him.

She stayed for a few days. Taught me all the things I needed to know to take care of a newborn. I know it was hard for her to leave, but she has kids of her own and a husband to care for 6 hours away.
I don't know how many days had passed. My days and nights were a blur of feeding, diapering, and crying (the both of us) but that night my son had been crying for what seemed like hours. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. I was exhausted. As he screamed in my arms, I looked over at the vases full of Daffodils. And my anger grew. I realized that over these days as I sat caring for my son in my living room I was watching those Daffodils wilt and slowly die.

I hated those flowers right then. I hated how they had made me witness to another death. I hated how they seemed to mock me, reminding me that I didn't get the chance to grow old with my wife.

The anger seemed to be taking over. I wanted to shake my son to make him stop crying. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to die.

With tears streaming down my face, I laid my screaming son on the floor and walked out the door. I went into the garage, picked up a garbage can and then stepped out into the cool night. I walked over to the front of the house and looked down at the dying Daffodils. Most of the flowers were dried, brown and scattered around the bases of the stems. Some still hung from their stems grasping for one more day.

Angrily, I grabbed the first stem and pulled. It snaps off at the base. This only infuriates me more. I dropped to my knees and dig my fingers into the dirt, grabbing hold of the bulb and yanking it from the ground. I leaned over and whip it into the garbage can, hearing the satisfying thump of it hitting the metal bottom.

I reached into the dirt for the next bulb. I notice the days warmth in the dirt as my fingertips close around it. The warmth of life. Like the life that was ripped from me I'm thinking as I pull the bulb out of the ground and hurl it into the metal can.

I work on my hands and knees like this until I had ripped out every bulb around the front and sides of the house. I was headed to the back yard when I suddenly remembered my son. I had been so consumed by rage and focused on one thing that I forgot I had left him on the floor crying. I realize now that it is quiet and suddenly I have a feeling of panic in my chest.

I let go of the garbage can full of Daffodils and run into the house. There is my son on the floor where I left him sound asleep. His face is blotchy from all his crying. As I stand over him drained of anger, I see my wife in his face. I drop to my knees and sob into my dirt covered hands.

A year has passed.

I am sitting on the back porch in the sunshine enjoying a cup of coffee and the smells of the Daffodils that are still planted around the three season porch. My sons toddles over to me. There is dirt smeared on his chubby cheeks and a big smile on his face as he offers me his prize.
"Oh! That is beautiful son! You picked one of mommies flowers! But let me show you how to pick one the right way." I point to the dirt covered bulb dangling off the bottom of the flower. "We want to keep this part in the ground. So that they will come back every year."
As we dig in the soil to replace the bulb, I talk to him about his mother. At that moment I decide that this fall my son and I will start replacing the rest of the Daffodils. I will tell him stories of his mother while we do it. Hopefully, he will develop a love for the Daffodil just like his mother and I.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

my lovely day spent with an axe murderer

the Field Museum
When I announced to the Hubby that I was going to meet one of my bloggie friends in real life, he wasn't very pleased.

He actually gave this "look" that said "are you crazy? you've got to be kidding!" and didn't say anything else (or maybe I didn't give him the chance). I immediately blurted out "it's not like she's an axe murderer!" and he responded "I was thinking more along the lines of a chain saw." Mac was a little more vocal about her concerns (surprised?) and insisted I take her pepper spray along for protection (which I forgot).

But I wasn't going to be talked out of it.

rxBambi was one of (if not the first) of my non family/ friends followers when I started blogging. And I've been a loyal follower of her since then too.

one of the lions outside the Art Museum
Plus my thinking was "we will be in downtown Chicago at some public places, what's the worst that could happen?"
The thing I worried about most was acting like a total looser and not knowing what to say. I'm not a very funny/ quick witted/ talkative person in real life. I consider myself a pretty quiet loner type who loves to just look and listen to the people and things around her. So needless to say, I was pretty nervous.
We made plans to meet at Shedd's Aquarium. And Bambi brought her teenage girls along. Turns out she was a little concerned I might be an ax murderer too!
I made the silly decision to walk from the Metra station to Shedd's. It seemed like it took forever (or maybe I was just anxious). By the time I got there Bambi and the girls were already in line (a huge spring break over an hour long line).
Shedd's was crazy busy and I figure Bambi had all kinds of opportunities to ditch me if she wanted to (just kidding she would never do that). We looked at as many fish and avoided stepping on hundreds of little kids as is humanly possible, and then left for lunch.
After lunch we headed over to the Field Museum and met up with (a couple more would-be-axe-murderers) her cousin and his girlfriend. The Field Museum was much less crowded and laid back for just walking around and talking.
I love this statue
After that we started walking back towards the hotel where they were staying. We had a nice time seeing some of Chicago's sights, taking some pictures and talking. Bambi is a really good photographer and has a nice camera, I just took a few.

a little more close up...

We got some cool pictures at "The Bean" which I won't post because they have her girls in them and I don't think she posts pictures of her girls.
I really enjoyed meeting her girls. It was fun talking to them and hearing about their take on life and their plans for the future. They are a couple of amazing kids (and I'm not just saying that. really.).

I had a great day and I'm hoping we can do this again soon!

see...she doesn't look like an axe murderer at all...

Friday, March 26, 2010

A new "baby" in the family!

Imagine my surprise to find out that Mac is like me when it comes to sentimental feelings for cars (the first of my four kids that I'm aware of). If you're new to this blog you can read about it here and here.

The Hubby has been looking for a car for her for quite some time now. Just a few days ago we found a great car newly listed on-line and we jumped right on it.

Mac saw pictures and immediately fell in love.

Right away she began talking about whether the car was a boy or a girl and what to name it. That's when I knew....she is just like me! and I felt my chest swell with pride and wiped a tear from my eye.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about or have never known the joy of naming your car then I'm not sure I can explain. Obviously, your car has to have a name when you talk to it while driving. And if it ever gives you trouble, gently cooing it's name while rubbing the dashboard always helps.

My first car "Betsy" would cough and sputter when going up large hills. Most mornings she would grumble and groan and refuse to start without a little sweet talk. I'm sure that if she didn't hear all my words of encouragement she never would have made it the many years that she did. I will never forget that horrible day when while driving her pieces just started falling off and she started leaking fluids (We can all image how terrifying it is to get old and start losing some of our "parts" and leaking "fluids").
She had a good run.

RIP Betsy.

We decided Mac would have to drive it first to really know if it's a boy or a girl and maybe the name will come after she figures that out.

When we went and looked at the car a couple days ago the man selling it said it was his daughters car that she got when she was a teenager. He said that she was probably going to cry when it sold. I knew right then and there that this was the car for Mac. You could tell just by looking at it how loved it had been. We assured him that we would love it and take very good care of it.

Hubby and Mac went last night to pick it up. I was dropping Bud off for a spring break mission trip. I wish I could have been there to witness what Hubby described to me later. He said the daughter was there to say goodbye to the car. She told Mac how happy someone was going love it as much as she did. That's when Mac blurted out "is it a boy or a girl and did you give it a name?". The girl seemed so happy and answered "yes! It's a girl and her name is 'Baby Saturn'!".

She then proceeded to show Mac all the details of the car and how everything worked. Mac was so excited and happy.
I have no doubts that it is the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

On a bit of a sad note....
To make room for the new "Baby" we sold "Midge"

sniff. sniff. We didn't have her for long but we all loved driving her. She is going to a great home where she will be loved and restored! Goodbye Midge!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sweet 16...

Mac turned 16 last Friday. I didn't get a chance to blog for her birthday because this weekend was spent running her all over the place to celebrate. I'm sure she was very bummed about that. Um, yeah.

We went to the Illinois Secretary of State so she could take her drivers test.

We had all kinds of issues getting her drivers permit when we first moved here. There was a bunch of confusion because she took drivers training in Michigan (but hadn't got her permit) so I would talk to one person on the phone and they would say "yes, it transfers" and then we would go into the Secretary of State office, wait in line forever, only to be told "no, it doesn't". Then I would be sent somewhere else...blah, blah, blah....it's a long story and not worth going into. Let's just say it took weeks and it was very frustrating.

So Tuesday, we go back to the Secretary of State and for some reason it's all messed up in their computer system. We are told that we may have to go back to the school (because they do their drivers training through the school systems) and start the whole run-around again! After much arguing and one very nice young lady who took 40 minutes (after her shift was over) to make some phone calls, we finally got the "go ahead" for Abbey to take her drivers test.

That was until the lady behind the counter asked if both of my license plates were mounted on my car (front and back). Shockingly, I had procrastinated on getting the stuff to put the front license plate on my car (hey, it's only been 9 months!). Mac gave me a look of "fear and I'm gonna kill you" with a little "you are so embarrassing" (I think every look she gives me has a little of the "you are so embarrassing" in it--it's a reflex).

I told her I would take care of it while trying to act like I wasn't panicking inside (she would kill me! How many 16 years old want to wait an extra day to get their license?) I'm thankful there are men out there who always have duct tape handy.
I was going to post a picture of my tape job, because I thought it turned out quite lovely, but then I remembered the whole blog safety privacy thingie.

Mac on the train going into the city to celebrate

After waiting a total of 2 1/2 hours they called Mac's name. I jumped up to the counter and the lady looked at me and said with a chuckle "you can't go with her".
I was pretty shocked because in Michigan the parent rides in the back seat which seems like a pretty good idea. You know, if your kid fails the test it's a good thing to be there and witness why they failed.
I can only imagine how many parents sitting in the waiting area have a hysterical kid come back from the road test and are trying to comfort them while trying to find out what happened from the test giver.
With my other two older kids I dreaded the road test. The tension is so high in the car and my "mommy instincts" want to kick in and try to make it better some how but you have to just sit there and be quiet (automatic fail if the parent talks or gives direction in Michigan). It's torture.
But I'll take that torture any day over sitting there for a half hour wondering. There were two other parents sitting there with me. A big guy with his daughter who kept pacing and had a nervous laugh and a petite lady whose eyes were as big as saucers and she looked like she might vomit at any minute. I tried to lighten the mood by saying they should at least serve us parents some alcohol or a Valium or something. The big guys just continued pacing and laughing his nervous laugh and the petite lady just got up and moved down a seat. I guess it wasn't funny.
Through the window I could see Mac skipping to the front door. An obvious sign that she passed.
She didn't want to drive home "I have too many phone calls to make" she said. So I spent the next 30 minutes listening to "guess what!....I got my license!.....shut up!.....I know!....." over and over again.
Mac and Sarah figuring out the bus system

All I can say is I'm glad it's over. Only one more kid to go....
Oh yeah! and Happy Birthday Mac!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Magpie Tale 6

A late Magpie entry.
Things have been a little busy around here but I wanted to try and get this written this am. Once I started writing I had a hard time keeping it short. Ugh!
Go here if you want to read other entries.


The white and crisp pages that I've inserted into the old diary are almost full with my story. I couldn't bear to write in Eliza's original. It felt some how disrespectful, but I wanted to keep record of our journey, Eliza's, Ava's and mine. I decide to read over today's entry one more time before turning the lights out for the night.

June 5, 2011
Dear Ava,

It's hard to describe the strong emotions I felt when I was presented your rusty nails today. When the man entered the room in his black suit and a sober look on his face, I thought he was being a little over dramatic. But when I opened the small pine box and looked at the nails I was overwhelmed with feelings.

It has been a long journey since that phone call from the airport executives. I'm still amazed they were able to track me down. And then the discovery of the box of old diaries that belonged to great great grandmother, Eliza, in the attic of a distant cousin.

Eliza didn't want you to be forgotten and you won't be.

I couldn't resist the urge to look back at an old entry of Eliza's.
So much for sleep....

April 5, 1849
Dearest Ava,

Today your pa and I leave for the Oregon Trail. I can't stand the thought of leaving you behind, alone. So many times I have questioned our decision to make this trip, but the plans had been made and the money spent, long before the accident. I would forget the whole thing and stay here in Illinois if I could, just be near you. But it is impossible. One thing that brings me some peace is knowing that you will have a proper burial site, not an unmarked grave on the side of the trail somewhere. You will not be forgotten.


I turn a few more pages back....

March 28, 1849

Dearest Ava,

Today pa and I laid you to rest. Pa built the coffin that holds you. You know how talented he is with woodworking. He put a lot of love into it and it turned out so beautiful. We are also going to have a nice headstone made for you. The cemetery is a small one just started up by a church here. I know it will be well taken care of....

I shake my head thinking of the years of controversy surrounding the moving of this cemetery. I had read about it in the Chicago Tribune. I never thought I had a connection. As far as I knew, most of my family was from California. I had just relocated to Chicago for a job two years ago when I got the call that I had an ancestor buried there.

I turn the pages of the diary back to the days after the accident.

March 25, 1849

Dearest Ava,

My heart is broken, but I must write. I will write no matter how difficult because I want to hold on to every memory of you. Today is the end of a very long three days. We have been waiting and praying that you would recover. It was not meant to be. I will never forgive myself for allowing you to go with pa to practice with the new wagon and team we just bought for the trip. Then you would be safe in my arms today. Now my arms will forever ache for you.

I look over at the pine box I received today from the people handling the cemetery relocation. Eliza will be happy knowing that Ava's final resting place will be near her after all. Even though all that is left are the rusty nails from her coffin.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Art Student- A Magpie Tale

I'm trying to get back into the blogger mode. Here's my second attempt at a Magpie Tale. If you will remember, Willow over at the blog Magpie Tales inspires us by giving us a picture to write about.

This one is much shorter (but still a little dark).

Hope you like it.

The Art Student

He tried to steady the charcoal that he held in hand. Holding it up to the blank paper on his easel only caused it to shake more violently. He moved the paper to his lap thinking he could contain himself better that way, only to have his legs join in the tremors that seemed to be taking over his body.

He had expected excitement, but not like this. All the human body sketches he had done previously were done with wooden mannequins. This was the first "real" person that he would be able to study and draw. No hinges, screws or wires to ignore, only smooth pale skin. The thought sent a shiver up his spine.

He was ready to prove them all wrong. The fancy art schools that wouldn't let him in. Said he didn't have the talent. Just wait till they see his genius now. Not only had he been practicing his art every waking hour but he had the ingenuity to find a nude model that he didn't have to pay or allow breaks. He could draw her all day (and night, if he found he couldn't sleep again).

All it had required was one night, a fresh grave, a shovel, and a little back breaking digging.

"Yes", he smiled, taking a deep breath to calm himself, "I'll show them."

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's been a long three weeks

I obviously haven't blogged in a while.
Honestly, I couldn't concentrate to write.

Not to go into a bunch of boring details, but I've spent the last three weeks seeing a few different doctors and having and some tests done.

And waiting. Lots of waiting.

Oh.... and freaking out too! Thanks to talk of cancer by a couple of doctors.

But after lots of poking, prodding, x-raying, scoping, and CTing, the oncologist finally said no cancer-- just some weird allergy thingie.

Even though I'm a nurse by training, I truly underestimated the word "cancer". How even the prospect of it becoming part of your reality can throw your life into a tail spin.

It's amazing what the mind will do when it hears that word.

All the "what if's" enter your head, elbowing their way to the front of your mind. They compete for space forcing out any other thoughts, making it difficult to think straight.

The aches and pains of the past are recalled. They pull an "Arnold Horshack", raising their hand for attention shouting "Ooooohhhhh! Oooohhhhh! Oooohhhhh!" thinking they might be included in the strange list of symptoms.

And let's not forget "Fear". No matter how hard you try to keep him locked in that little room at the back of your mind, he still breaks free- tapping you on the shoulder when you least expect it and whispering "boo..." just to get your heart racing.

Of course, not all the stuff bouncing around in my head was bad.

Life is brought back into perspective.

The priority list is reconsidered, edited, revised.
Faith, family, friends, love....
A new appreciation for the little things is born.

I'm off to walk with Ace and look for the budding signs of spring.

I hope you take a second and look for it today too.