Anthurium pairI was pondering about how my girlfriends have differing views about how a man should behave on a date. Just to set the playing field, I happen to be straight, so my pronoun use reflects that. But, I hope the concepts apply to all.

Back to my girlfriends… given that people have views influenced by the country or culture in which they grew up, views on chivalry vary a lot among my girlfriends; Hispanic, highly religious, European, old-school, millennial, and dysfunctional cultures and childhoods all have shaped their views on chivalrous or gentlemanly behavior.

Even after scanning just one article on what modern day chivalry has become, I’m already pissed and conflicted. Much of what has been called chivalry is, to me, common courtesies that I’d like to feel could be extended to me not only by a romantic interest, but by people who simply respect me as a fellow human being (texting back, being on time, etc.). Now… if I want to follow the “let the man be a man” rule, it opens up a whole other can of wormy behavior and topics. I won’t go into that.

When I still worked in a big corporate high-rise, I addressed this topic with a woman millennial coworker when we both had an awkwardness while walking with a guy coworker; he wanted to always open doors for us. I found it challenging and tedious to always ensure that I walked slowly enough to allow him to arrive at the door first, so that he could open it. It feels more natural to me that if get there first, I will grab the door. Yet, if we meet men or women coming from the other direction and I’m seen opening the door for this guy, he says he feels like that other group thinks less of him for allowing that to happen. Really… what a tangled web of courtesies we weave.

I have a couple of guy friends who instinctively always walk on the side next to the road when we walk together on a path or sidewalk. Protecting a woman from danger or mud splashes was the idea in the olden days, but in today’s world I guess one is protecting the other from a terrorist van or a scooter cutting you down. Oi! But, in that event, you’ll likely both bite it. It’s every person for themselves. Hit the alley or doorway and hope for the best.

However, women are more mobile and fit than in the days of corsets and heavy flowing dresses. Now some have stilettos and tight skirts to maneuver with speed and dexterity. But if we’re going to let the guy take the van, scooter or the bullet for us, hmm… I guess humanity may have to figure out new ways to survive and, honestly, chivalry is the least of my worries when I think of getting cooked by the sun due to global warming or running out of food due to the earth’s surface and oceans changing from all the toxins and plastic we’ve dumped into it. Hmm… maybe I should let the guy open the door or walk near traffic, so I can selfishly relax in the limited time we have left on this earth. But, I digress.

Considerations: Should a guy walk a woman to her car if the neighborhood merits it? Should a woman walk a guy to his car and then walk back by herself? Is that safe? Is it safe for the guy to walk back by himself? I don’t have all the answers, but I’m pondering these questions and more…

Should you let him know that you’ve reached home safely? I mean what is he going to do if he does’t hear from you cause you’ve been clobbered on the head or mugged? It’s a bit late then for the gallantry, isn’t it? The phrase “call me when you get home” is an ultimate cop out, in my opinion. Oh, yes, you’ll feel so much better knowing I got home, really? So, you sit on pins and needles while I drive home and then heave a sigh of relief when I text, “made it home”? What’s the flip side? If I don’t text you, will you then drive that path yourself and check the roadsides for my bloody remains and in the meantime call the police. But meanwhile, the damage has already been done, that you didn’t stop from happening, ’cause you sent me on my merry way, with a promise to text you if I made it. I just don’t get that logic.

Another question: Should I let a guy help me on with my coat? Should I help him on with his coat? If a guy helps me on with my coat and then pulls my long hair out for me, isn’t that getting a bit fresh? Would I let or expect a female friend do the same for me? Heck no! Don’t touch my hair, dang-it. I really don’t want to let a “friend” go that extra mile to help me be comfortable. Come on! Don’t laugh, I’ve had to address this.

If we shop and I end up buying a heavy vase in a shop, should I let him carry it? If he weren’t there, I’d manage just fine carrying it myself. I’d never ask a guy to carry it for me unless my arm or leg were in a cast. But, on the other hand if I see a guy rush to assist an elderly or a physically challenged person, don’t I feel a small rush of admiration or maybe attraction? It’s the kindness of a man’s soul that attracts me. Hmm…

I don’t know. So much of this seems to have become a bit odd. For instance, who should pay for the meal? Some guys feel that if they pay for the meal, then they should get at least a substantial kiss on your doorstep? I’m not kidding. That’s happened to me. Put that tongue away, please! I hardly know you!

What about going Dutch? What about taking turns? What if a guy wants to take me out to a restaurant or show, and it’s one that I can afford to pay on my own but, I’m not really wanting or planning to splurge that much, but he wants to splurge? Should I let him pay for the expensive night out? Due to pay scale discrimination, most men make more than women do. So, in reality, by God, I think a cynical part of me wants to say, you get paid a boatload more than me just because you have a penis, so… yeah, I guess I should be okay with letting you spend that extra money you may not have even deserved to get… on me. Is that being an angry vindictive b-word. Yeah, probably. But, let’s have equality in pay, please.

A lot of my girlfriends would say that letting him pay or not depends on how much I like the guy. Really? I just hate that money wields so much power in all of our lives. If a guy wants to impress me, I’m not sure he’s going to have success with flashing a wad of bills or credit cards around my nose. He’d be better off to make the effort to get to know me. Take me to a play, opera, art reception, a memoir lecture but, oh geez not a football game—I hate sports. Thank you very much.

Honestly, I’ve been in relationship with a guy who gave me crazy expensive gifts for special occasions, but then belittled me and said horridly disrespectful things to me. The nice car, big house, and fancy gifts… did they make up for the lack of respect and common decency? Hell no! They just caused bankruptcy.  That’s why he’s history.

On the other hand, I’ve been with an ultraconservative guy who opened doors for me, ran around the monster truck to get the door for me, (go ahead and role your eyes) and led strongly when we salsa danced, but ultimately thought the little lady had no strength of character or worthy opinions of her own.  Still, he was the one who asked me if I could loan him money for a just a few days to pay his rent. He’s history, of course.

Or the guy who cooked fancy meals for me, researched all the right plays, concerts, and romantic vacations for us to go on, opened doors for me, bought me pretty little gifts, but when I left the house flipped on the porn and on Sunday afternoons always had to go home to mommy’s for dinner. Chivalry doesn’t equal honorable and mature behavior in the least. He’s history too.

A couple of days ago I discussed feminism over the phone with a millennial friend and through the conversation realized that I’m likely more of a humanist than a feminist. She said she adores it when a man is chivalrous, makes her feel like a lady and treats her like a queen. I held my tongue, but honestly, I don’t need a man to “make” me feel that way. I know darn well that when I wear typically feminine attire, do my hair and makeup, I’ll knock ‘em dead with my womanly wiles. But, on the other hand, what does THAT mean? Nothing. Is that my ultimate life goal? Should I use that power to my advantage? As in the Memoirs of a Geisha movie, should I make it my goal in life to turn heads? When the geisha caused a guy to turn his head and crash his rickshaw, she felt that she’d finally arrived. While I cheered in that moment in the movie, upon reflection, I’m glad that I feel pride in accomplishing goals that don’t involve glorification as much as just a feeling that I did a good thing for the betterment of this world. That sounds sappy, I’m sure. But, it’s what I mean to say.

Even having said that, I’ve already ascertained that when having work done on my car, it pays dividends to dress well and do my makeup because the service guy will undoubtedly give me much better service. If a guy, by and large… no pun intended… must let his penis direct his behavior that much, then I’m okay with taking advantage of his shallow misguided courtesies. It’d be nice if I could wear sweats and no makeup and also get treated just as well, but alas, that ain’t going to happen, 9 times out of 10.

I’m not afraid to re-examine my behavior and make a conscious effort to improve. I think that I’ve certainly got some double standards going on in my own behavior and I’m going to take a stab at getting rid of those. Even in the song lyrics I perform I often feel as though women are not held up to a high standard and so often end up saying “I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the woods” or “I’m everything I am because he loved me” or “Stand by your man,” and well, I’m just not buying it anymore.

The trouble is that it’s hard to find a song or aria that touts equality rather than one sex wielding power over the other. I stand by my statement that when one sex holds the balance of power over the other, neither will ever truly be happy. So, how about if we all be chivalrous to each other; could it just go both ways?

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Digging through old folders I found something from ten years ago. I was raising teenagers, newly divorced, freelance writing, and paying off lawyer’s fees. Life is  different now, but… much is the same.hand pencil sketch 001

Forbidden topics       Dec. 6, 2008

The acceptable topic? What’s the appropriate thing to write about? What won’t get me sued, fired, make relatives mad, or just plain hurt too much? Not many things right now.

Because the fact is, it’s that holiday time of year when everybody gets really emotional and tries to do nice things to, you know, get in the spirit. We bake more, eat more, exercise less, drink more, stress out, and spend lots of money to buy that perfect gift that will tell the person how much we love them.

Could we walk more, laugh more, hug more, relax more—and let a smile creep over our faces… like the smile that keeps on getting bigger and bigger on the Grinch’s’ face, but instead for all the right reasons.

Tomorrow I send my two teens off to their dad for Christmas and see them again the day after—“Standard order of possession.” It’s so standard that it just plain sucks. I’m afraid to write about it, but that doesn’t make my heart stop hurting, when on the even-numbered years, I don’t get to see them sitting in the congregation when I sing “Oh holy night” on Christmas Eve or watch them open presents on Christmas morning. That’s a downer, no one wants to read about that in the Sunday paper, so I’m sure this won’t be the topic of my next article, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the topic of my heart tonight.

Tonight, it happened again, that is, I watched a movie that I rented and in the middle of it paused it to write. Man, I thought it was because the last movie was inspiring and now I realize that perhaps I’m an emotional schmuck who, gets wrapped up in the movie she sees. Is “Hopeless romantic” the official term?

In this movie the woman lost her husband to a brain tumor, and she’s figuring out what to do with her life now.

My husband didn’t die. I divorced him. I chose to break it up. Now I’m trying to be something without a significant other in my life. I’ve paused the movie right when the woman falls into her mother’s arms sobbing about that very thing. She thinks she wants to design shoes, and I want to design memoirs, but the trouble is I can’t figure out how to start. I can only figure out what I can’t do. I can’t write the truth about my youth because then my family won’t like it; I can’t write the truth about my recent years because my teenagers won’t want to hear it.

I settled to write about my last two years of college in which my marriage to my childhood sweetheart falls apart. That’s distant. That’s dramatic. No one in my current family cares. I’m the only one who stands to be stripped naked in the public eye over it, and it’s my choice to take off the clothes of my existence in front of the world if I want to. Isn’t it?

Now I’m getting backwards-Adam-and-Eve biblical here. They figured out what they were—naked—and then put clothes on to cover up who they were. It didn’t work well for them: They were the same with or without the clothes.

Ah-hah! I’ve been the same person all along? Whether I was a farm girl, college student, nanny, model, opera singer, wife, mother, divorcee, piano teacher, I’ve always been the same thing underneath it all… a writer. And I’m fixing to let the world find out by taking all my clothes off in a tell-all creative nonfiction book… the fancy-schmancy word for a memoir.

Truth to tell I’ve been preparing for this year all my life. Every night since I was ten I wrote my thoughts down in a book before I closed my eyes. Does that mean I’ve been naked all the time and didn’t even know it? Always writing with… total abandon in diaries.

Yes! I knew all along somewhere deep inside of me that I wrote daily so that someday the world would know it all and my life would then be… worth it. Someday, I’d turn thousands of days recorded into memoirs that the world would read and for some reason they’d care about some girl on a dairy farm in southern Minnesota two miles west of a town of 363 people. The fifth one out of six kids, the last “normal” one to be born and then came the last girl. The special one and… no one’s lives were the same after that. Is this an article I’m writing or a chunk of a book… again? Is this how the “Harry Potter” author did it, in bits and pieces? When do all the bits and pieces of the puzzle fall together in a book that lightens the world’s debt and gets you out of debt, when you’ve spent thousand of dollars to get divorced, and even more for continued court battles.

But I’m working, teaching piano and voice lessons like I’ve done since I was 18 and also working as an office clerk. Is that enough? Is that a respectable amount of recovery to have made after a tough divorce? What’s good enough? Whose standards am I striving to meet? I said I’d like to write in the paper about being single again after a 15-year marriage. All that’s going to do is make every single guy that reads it think that he needs to help me fill the hole in my heart. Ugh. Please don’t. The hole comes from never giving myself a chance to be me. To have gone from high school graduation to marriage a month later, then getting divorced in my junior year of college, studying in England, having romances throughout my last years of college, being a nanny in Germany, returning to the states, modeling in Florida, studying for a career in opera, then marrying again, babies, moving to a big house, singing in the opera chorus, financial ruin, divorce, and now that the tornado has paused… what? Write?… that’s what a single mom can do that doesn’t take her away from her teenagers’ care too much.

That’s what I’ve been doing all along anyway. All the other stuff I did was second fiddle to that fact that no matter what I did I wrote it down in a diary and now it’s a little like the Truman movie, only the world won’t be able to watch my whole life on camera, but instead read it in my memoirs–it’ll all be there.

When I could first write a reasonably good sentence, I began. In 1972, my writing at ten was basic and real. The rest, take your pick from the big plastic box in my closet. What happened in 1976, the bi-centennial year? I was 14 and went on a trip for the first time in my life without my family with a Girl Scout troop. We visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s farm, the  Minnesota farm girl who wrote… yeah, right… I’d died and gone to heaven with my ache to be another Laura.

1980 I graduated high school, married the rock-guitar-playing guy I’d been dating for four years, and started college. After much infidelity to his groupies we divorced in 1982.

An early year: 1973 My raccoon, Jimmy, dies. I wrote “Jimmy died” eight times in a row.

1990 I played the lead in “The Merry Widow” went back to school to get my master in vocal performance, was proposed to, quit and got married.

1991 My father died; my sweet son was born.

1993 My beautiful daughter was born. We moved to Texas.

I could write an article about my opinions about what’s going on in the world or in my community, but that’s not a burning desire right now. What burns in my heart is to let people know that even when you’re starting over again in life that it’s all right to take time to figure it out. Two years after a divorce, you may not be in the perfect occupation that you were destined to have, because let’s face it, keeping up computer skills, having a college degree, and being a piano and voice teacher for the past 15 years, may not add up to a great paying job for a long time.

Scarce are the high-paying jobs that allow one to: be present while raising two teenagers, pay off lawyer’s debts, save money for retirement, and yeah, supposedly get that house with a garden in the country so that you can have chickens, because after all you’ve got farm dirt running in your veins. That’s not all going to happen precisely when I want it to. I may have written it all down, but that doesn’t guarantee anybody will read it or that I’ll be persistent enough to get it published.

Here’s the real deal. I’m stubborn. I will keep on writing the first page over and over again until I figure out what to put on it to make the reader say, “Yeah, I have to turn the page and see what’s next. Just like the audience couldn’t stop watching to see what Truman’s next move was going to be in the “Truman show.”

Hooked? Maybe not. But I’ll still keep writing that first page.

music-poster.jpgI’ve joined a wonderful volunteer choir, the Dallas Symphony Chorus. The director invited us to drop him a note to express, “Why I Sing.” My answer came in this poem:

Why I Sing

If someone asks me why I might sing

it’s quite a long tale to tell

as long ago my soul was caught,

in love with music I fell

 

Jesus loves me, was my first tune

memorized when only three

later singing with sisters ‘round

piano in harmony

 

Mom’s crooning in her kitchen band

Dad’s harmonica by ear

we all played and sang every day

I recall it with a tear

 

High school choir, college tours

then opera chorus stages

all took me through life’s challenges

yet brought in meager wages

 

Payment came in bountiful ways

that one could never measure

my heart was filled, my soul was soothed

with joy that is my treasure

 

So yes, I’ll tell you why I sing

it feeds me, and yet I know

when the audience claps and cheers

the world’s love meter can grow

With the gracious help of the internet, I’m pondering possible reasons that an ex-boyfriend has again contacted me:

1. He hasn’t fully recovered from our breakup a year ago and wants to see if there’s any hope in reestablishing the romantic relationship.

2. He’s subconsciously still angry at me for breaking up with him and gets revenge by stirring me up with emails and social media messages now & then (blocked his number after he miss-sent a text intended for another woman) but likely doesn’t intend to commit to me.

3. He’s testing his powers to see if he can still attract me; this keeps the ego hydrated.

4. For some reason, due to comparison to other lovers or whatever, I’ve become  attractive to him because I rated well against them. Due to my great score, he now feels like he wants to contact me again.

fish-painting.jpg

Caught a fish yet?

5. He regrets losing me because he now realizes that he lost someone valuable and regrets not taking more affirmative action in the first place when he had my buy in.

6. He wants to keep his options open by tugging on the proverbial fishing line that once hooked me to see if I’ll still nibble on the bait. It’s comforting to have a few fish on the line and insures that he’ll always have dinner.

7. He had a dream about me and then produced a poem. But, he still doesn’t know how to process that. He contacts me to see how I’ll react and process it. Note: Therapists helped me with my dream interpretations.

8. I once weakened and wondered to him if we could still be together. He gave me a vague response.

9. The other women he’s dated have broken up with him or he broke up with them or it was mutual. He’s not currently dating anyone.

10. He just wants to be friends. (Yeah, I don’t believe it either.)

While I’m on-board with not going around having exes who are mortal enemies in the world, I won’t allow myself to be the rebound woman… you know, that one strong deep pond the cow always comes back to because she knows she can find sustenance there even when all the other watering holes have dried up.

It’s healthy to be civil with an ex, but if he lives far away, as is the case here, then is there a benefit to maintaining a close friendship? It’s clear by now that I’m not even sure myself how to define and categorize this past relationship. What is clear is that the random emails every few months stir me up, and my usual remedy for being upset is to write it out in a journal entry. But, I’m experimenting today by blogging transparently instead. It may be the death of me, but, better to get it out.

I think the near-choking incident my old cat Ginger had yesterday attests to the fact that when something catches in your crock, you better get it out or it’ll take you out!   Thanks, I feel better and just may curl into a ball to nap.

cat sleeping

Content cat (pencil sketch)

cornfield walkingI have a confession to make. I’ve been floundering quite a bit lately because I feel lost in my writing. I’ve written a memoir that’s 41 chapters long and done many revisions to fine tune and focus it. Yet, I feel so far away from the mountain top. That’s not a good analogy because here in Texas there aren’t any mountains and I’ve never actually lived where there were mountains to speak of. Mountains of manure maybe. Perhaps it’d be more appropriate to say that I feel like I’m in the middle of a massive cornfield and can’t find my way out. I walk along the endless narrow rows of words and step this way and that, pull out some weeds and try to jump up to see over the stalks where I might need to go, but all I see is endless tassels, leaves, and husks of corn. Yeah, this analogy is getting old too. Next, I’ll be warbling about how I’d love to harvest this book or spread the seeds to a million readers. Egads. By the way, the is my watercolor of my kids about 15 years ago, having a much better time in a cornfield maze.

I can tell that I’ve gotten desperate for inspiration and motivation, because I’ve resorted to an all-too-familiar activity. I pulled from the diary shelf 1975 and read what Laurie Lynn Lindemeier was doing when she was 13 years old. What enlightenment does this provide? It proves to me that I was excruciatingly corny with my jokes back then. I doubt I’ve improved any.

A line from Thurs., Sept. 4, 1975, “I can’t believe it’s September the fourth already! I’m going to have to believe it though because tomorrow is gonna be Sept. the 5 & then I’ll have to get used to that. Gop Nop.” [attempt at Pig Latin for “Good Night”]

But when I turn the page to Sept. 5, a memory of being the sister of a mentally challenged girl comes crashing in. “Mom went to Glencoe to a garage sale and got my glasses fixed. She also went to visit Jeannie in Arlington. While she was there, Kristy would swing on the swings and then they’d always check on her. Well, one time they checked and she was gone. Then they went out [around town] to look for her. Debbie Brockoff was walking home from school and saw her a block away and told Mom. Mom got me a couple of tops at the auction. I am sick and vomited twice. Good night puky.”

Two days ago I performed at a storytelling venue and spoke of my grief when Kristy died last September. The sorrow stopped my voice a couple of times. Still, as I today read this entry I know that the emotions wrapped up in the loss of Kristy are complicated. I look at this white and red diary and see that my life was simplistic and yet challenging. I began each entry with a record of the number of eggs I gathered and said good night to myself at the end of each entry in some silly way. That night I said “good night puky” and I don’t think “puky” is a word, but no matter. I feel compelled to read the next day to see if I was still sick and, indeed I was. I end that entry with an imitation of the sound of vomiting, “Wooaac,” and then a tiny sketch of a person spewing. It amazes me that I still gathered the eggs each day that I was sick. I wrote, “This morning at about twenty-five to two I got up and vomited but otherwise I just felt like it most of the time, except for in the evening I felt better.”  I also record that I helped babysit my sister’s babies that day. It astounds  me that they didn’t mind exposing their two babies to me. Or that I didn’t get excused from babysitting duty even though I was vomiting at 2 a.m.

On the next day, Sunday, I’m right back attending church and Sunday school and cracking another bad joke, “WhatifIwouldwritealltherestofthesentencesinthisbookconnectingthewords! It would be a terrible mix up, that’s what.”

I don’t know if I’ve gotten over my frustration and utter confusion about how to continue revising my memoir, but I’ve had an entertainment for the past hour, at least. A diversion. I sorely needed that. I’m pretty damn frustrated at this writing process. But, when I read the words I wrote 43 years ago, something feels bolstered in me. I don’t always write pearls, but, by God, I nearly always write something. By the law of averages every now and then I’m bound to entertain or cut through the chase… of words.

Front 1977 diary

Reflections from my 1977 brown diary

Monday, July 4, 1977

I helped Mom pick raspberries a little. I called Paul [boyfriend] and Connie [best friend] to see if they couldInside front cover 1977 diary

come to Lake Marion with my brother and me. They could and did. We took them from our place to the lake … We got home around 5:30.

We stopped at the Dairy Queen in Glencoe. Paul treated. When we got home we played pool until Connie had to go. Then Paul’s mom came and I went home with them. I had a hamburger at their place. After a while we went to the foose [foot?] ball game. Afterwards we came back to his place ’cause his mom had to use the car to pick his dad up from work. We watched TV for a while [Code: we made out on the couch]. Then he took me home. Got home 11: 30. In the house 12:25.

Comment: I thought I used more code. This is blatant! I recorded getting in the house 55 minutes after I got home, broadcasting that my boyfriend and I got real frisky in the front seat of his car. That means I was confident that no one was going to find my diary and grill me. It also means I was likely not closely monitored that night. I recall that my mom would switch the porch light on and off a few times to signal, “Get yourself in the house, Laurie Lynn!” Perhaps she did flick the light; I don’t know. Maybe I ignored it. But, oh dear, a lot can happen in 55 minutes, can’t it?heart pendent July 15 1977

Friday, July 15, 1977: … I went with [Paul’s] family to the pizza ranch in Glencoe. We had 3 pizzas. He gave me his class ring and a really pretty necklace. The ring he gave to me in the pizza ranch & the necklace on the way over there… The necklace is heart-shaped & gold colored with a white & black pearl on it… 

Comment: After reading this page I wonder, “Do I still have that pendant? I think so.” I run to look in a tin container in my bedroom that holds bits and pieces from my childhood jewelry box. Gold high school medals for singing, old suitcase locks and orphaned earrings abound. The heart pendant is there. I hold it in my hands and go back to age 15. I was so excited to receive my boyfriend’s class ring and this pendant. After all, we’d been “going out” for almost six months.

Six years later, I gave that ring back to him after we divorced. He wanted to be free. Monogamy turned out to not be his best skill. He played rock guitar much better, or so thought all his groupies. I did keep the wedding ring with the tiny diamond. Seven years later it became a trade-in on my next wedding ring with a marquis diamond. The bigger the ring–the harder the fall. That’s another story, and … another divorce.

But I still have the heart with the black and white pearls.

And I still have my heart, and I still play pool. I’ll find a new chain and wear it for  luck when I play eight-ball down the street.

A few minutes ago I gave two ladies from my yoga class a ride back to their cars. Here at my apartment, we consumed a bottle of German Gluhwein and chatted for a couple of hours after class. While they were here, I pulled my 1992 diary off the shelf and read a page to them. The surprising quality and sincerity of the words felt like when you put on a jacket and find a forgotten twenty-dollar bill in the pocket. When I returned home, I again picked up the diary and found one piece of yellow legal pad paper in the inside front cover with the date of my 30th birthday on the corner of it and a short entry. I wrote this when I was newly married, living in Massachusetts and mothering my three-month old son. In the corner I sketched a drawing of the Christmas decoration that I’d described on the page. I find it odd that I referred to my then husband as “my husband” and didn’t say his name. It’s as though I was writing it for a larger audience even then. Nonetheless,  below is the transcription.

1/2/1992 [My 30th birthday]

Tonight before my husband went to

Bell sketch

For whom the bell tolls

bed he wound up the musical bell hanging in the dining room doorway. It played “Silent “night” as I nursed my baby . I began to sing along to it in German just as Dad always used to do. As it played it got slower & slower and I wondered if it would end perfectly at the end of the song and have a nice ending rather than being halfway through a verse.

It got very slow and seemed like it would end just right, but then kept on going very very slowly into one last verse and then stopped halfway through, leaving it unfinished. I thought that it was kind of like Dad. He got slower and slower and labored to even breathe breaths slower and slower until finally he just drew one last breath, like the last little chime of the musical bell.

He only lasted halfway through my pregnancy, just like the musical bell only got halfway through “Stille Nacht–Silent Night.” I guess life is like that. Things don’t always come to an end when you want them to; they stop and leave you wishing it could have gone on just a little longer.

4/17/2018

My dad used to sing “Silent Night” in German. I ached over losing him to cancer while I was expecting my first child … a pain I still grapple with. Throughout my teen years, I’d watched him be a wonderful grandpa to my older sibling’s children and I wanted him to take joy in my child too, when my time finally came to have a child. But, melanoma cancer killed him before that could happen. The lesson I’m feeling is to love and enjoy my children while I’m on this earth because I don’t know when a sickness or an accident will take me.

I felt really good when I picked up the mail today and saw that my daughter’s new health insurance card came in the mail. I feel happy that I have a job that allows me to give her health insurance and I’m glad that I’m in the position to help her like that. My son is now past the age when I can cover him, but at least I can be there for my daughter when she needs me. I know my dad would’ve done the same for me.

The parent/child bond is amazing. I can be a writer, painter, or singer, but I’m most happy when I’m being a mom.