Monday, May 30, 2011

An airman and his wife.

After reading one of my blogs to him he shyly looks up and states that he too has many stories to tell - a thousand histories to write. I glance over at this man, and I have to admit I'm intrigued. He reminds me so much of my late grandfather, a man I wish I had taken more time to know. I was too naive to realize how awesome my own grandfather's life had been, how much he could have told me, the stories he had himself. So I am compelled to listen when Scott's Papa mentions this to me. He has recently received a friends autobiography and he is motivated to write one himself. This man I see once a month -a retired airman, a pilot from World War 2 - needs to tell someone about the life he has led and the things he has seen; the people he has met, and the love he has cultivated and known for decades - so I do what anyone would - I offer to help.

My kids love them dearly - this couple they call Grandma and Papa - two unique personalities that move so fluidly together - in the ways that they speak, the laughter they create - that it's apparent the many years they have spent with one another. They are eachother's history - without one the other would be lost - they are that entwined together. My children enjoy their company and are always eager for the next visit. But I want more than that. I want my kids to know them. I want them to understand that they aren't just a black and white photograph saved for historical relevance, or a name on a family tree. They are a history so invaluable that without them my children's lives would not exist now. Fate has thrown these people into my life, but love has kept them there. If not for the choices they made half a century ago - my life would be drastically different now.

His wife - Agnes - has been listening in. She has a thousand things to say - a million anecdotes to imbue on anyone who will listen. But she keeps herself silent. She doesn't mention writing her own autobiography other than to chastise herself for the lack of schooling she has received - for the written word that will never be set to paper. But of course her history will be told, at least a great portion of it; afterall, Lyle's life was lived alongside hers for so long - it's inevitable. And when it comes to those hundred stories he can tell, I have no doubt she will be standing right behind him, dancing that dance only they can waltz together, while informing him that he's remembering it wrong and not to forget all that happened next - their story to tell - my honor to listen...and write.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I look at them and see the jagged parts. They come together like a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. For a while you think it's your job to put them together, to bring the edge of one jagged color to another, but just when you think you have it figured out they pluck the pieces from your hands and reorganize all your hard work. The independence comes in bursts at first. So quick and sharp you don't always recognize it for what it is. But  before long you realize this tiny person - an extension of yourself - has taken on a mind of it's own...

He was born so small that when I touched him I shuddered at his vulnerability. How do I handle him without breaking him? I used to wonder. And then I blinked and suddenly he transformed into this boy who resembles pieces of the man he'll become. Bones and muscles and brains locked together in one beautiful form so spell binding that sometimes I have to remind myself he grew inside me once. A hundred good natured relatives and friends tell me he looks like me. They are right. He has my face - my chipmunk cheeks, my full lips, my chin - but there are subtle differences. His eyes are more almond shaped - like his fathers - and they are green. He has one dimple that breaks the continuity of that gorgeous face, drawing your attention to his stunning smile, a smile which will win over the hearts of a thousand girls. But as much as he resembles me physically that is where the similarities end. I imagine he is more his father's creation than mine. His quiet observations mostly go unnoticed by me. But then he unfolds himself and forces my eye contact, and states something so perfectly true that I am reminded that he is his father's son. I always do a double take when he catches me off guard like this. This gift is an off shoot of his empathetic nature. But as in any gift there can be a dark side. His pure and perfect empathy allows too many hurts to be felt. He has a tendency to take things too personally. Tears often stain his face just as often from the hurts he himself endures as from the hurts others feel. His greatest challenge will be to learn that he can't save everyone nor should he try. Right now though, he is unmarred and untouched by the true cruelties that this world can create. It won't always remain this way, but for now it is beautiful to witness.

She was always a challenge. She has fought me every step of the way since the minute she was born. Already - at barely two - she fights for the freedoms she has not yet earned. In this respect she and I are the same. She has yet to learn that she can't forever stand at the edge of a precipice reaching for a goal that is still out of reach. She will tire and fall before it's ever in her grasp; but true to form - her stubborn streak inherited from me; her dare devil ways unique onto itself -will only see her climb that cliff again and again and again until she's grasped what she's aiming for. And only after failing more times then she succeeds will she learn that not everything is worth breaking yourself over. Not everything is worth the blood you spilled in reaching it. She will have to temper her need to acquire everything she wants, lest she be left with nothing she needs. But this being said she has one asset I didn't. She has a big, boisterous personality that will ensure someones hands will reach down and pull her up time and time again. She has a smile that would crack even the hardest facade and big, beautiful, blue eyes that will draw anyone in. She will not need to demand trust, you will just give it to her, and she will not let you down - not on purpose. Taken in pieces she seems scattered, but when seen as a whole she creates such a perfect, little girl that there are moments when she literally takes my breath away. She will be a dynamic woman - she will believe she can have it all- and if there is one person who could attain perfect balance it would be her.

I can't wait to see who Preston will become, what kind of personality he will have. It's hard as a parent to be patient, to settle back on your heals and let them do the work of self discovery, but it's worth the wait - as any good thing is. All of us are a work in progress - a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that will never truly be finished. But there are pieces of yourself that will always fit just right - pieces that will never need to be shifted or changed in any way - the foundation of who you are - pieces of soul that can never be lost or diminished. No one can tell you what those pieces are and sometimes you won't recognize them yourself, but that's the fun in doing the puzzle - the mystery of what lies within- the picture that is hidden in the pieces.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


His eyes were the first thing I noticed. They were a color I hadn't seen before. I wouldn't describe them as ocean blue because they aren't that dark, but they aren't so light they could pass for grey either. If I had to pick one thing to compare them to I would have to say they are more like a shallow pond whose bottom is covered in algae; depending on the time of day - from the first light that peaks over the horizon, to the last burning rays at sunset and every artificial creation in between - they could pass for a blue or a green. In the right light, when the sun is lower in the sky and shadows are elongating they are the color of a blue spruce - cool and chameleon in their ability to shimmer blue or green or a combination of the two merely depending on the angle you are at. They have captured my attention from the beginning and even now - five years later - I find myself occasionally stealing glances at them, curious to know what color they will be today.

I like that I cannot label him. He's not typical. He's not a man who fits into any one stereotype. Even those eyes are not easily catalogued. He's simple but weirdly complex. Sometimes I call him Columbo because he has the uncanny ability to reveal parts of himself so well hidden that even I - a person who has seen more of him than anyone else - can sometimes be caught off balance. Perhaps this ability makes him good at his job. He can get the most hardened criminal to shake his hand while cuffing the free one. I admire this ability to keep parts of himself secret. I am his polar opposite. I keep nothing under my surface, I do not hide even the darkest parts of me. Perhaps he loves this most about me, this ability to reveal who I am in one large swoop. There is no mystery to me, and there seems to be none with him, until there is. Columbo incarnate.

I always want to wake up beside this man after a night of whispered conversations that last until the first morning light. I always want to collapse into him when the world seems to much, when the only solid thing is the knowledge that his embrace will never waiver. I always want to steal a glance from across the room, while kids hang from our limbs and laughter shakes our house - and wonder what color his eyes are today.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby Puck

Dear Preston,

Ive started this letter a thousands times, in a thousand different ways and no matter what I write it doesn't feel genuine. I want to express to you what today was about, what it meant to your father and I, but for the life of me I can't seem to get it right. Maybe it's the exhaustion. After six long months we finally got the news we have been so desperate to receive, but too scared to really hope for. Your heart has healed itself. There won't be need for a surgical team, or a hospital stay, or for a neat vertical scar down your sweet little chest - a scar we would all carry in one way or another. All that anxiety, and worry, and nerves- all the tears and prayers and anger came to a head today and was finally expelled.

When the good news was revealed to us I thought I would be screaming in delight, laughing hysterically, or crying tears of joy - maybe a combination of all of the above; but instead I just feel...tired. I didn't expect my relief to manifest in such a physical way - to feel it in my bones and muscles. Maybe this is what true relief feels like. A release so immense that you are left battered and barely able to move. Finally, I don't have to be wound so tight, and I don't have to be that overprotective mother anymore. I can put you down, I can let you explore, I can take you out and show you off, and what's more I can enjoy all those little moments I stopped taking for granted a while ago, while simultaneously looking forward to tomorrow. 

You are six months old today. You are doing what every typical six month old is doing. You are rolling over, laughing, smiling, and starting solid foods. You drool like a son of a gun and will put anything into your mouth without exception. You are six months old - and you are healthy.

I love you Preston. Thank you for such a beautiful Mother's day gift, I couldn't have asked for anything better.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To be honest.

The odds are good that Preston will leave tomorrow's appointment with a clean bill of health. The odds are good that he will never need open heart surgery. So why am I fretting agonizing over it? There is something I haven't told anyone. Not Scott. Not my mom. Something I have barely admitted to even myself.

It was easy to brush aside - this disgusting, dark twisted thing which begun to grow so many months back. From it's roots sprung sharp thorns that cut, and pricked and made me bleed. A premonition, a whisper that started before Preston was ever born. I have ignored it, explained it, buried it under a mountain of mundane, motherly tasks and still it springs to the forefront of my minds eye every now and then. He not yours to keep. It has spoken to me from the moment I laid eyes on his screaming, flailing frame. Hormones, I excused it. Stress, I explained it. Pessimism, I revealed it. But nothing could quell the premonition that took up residence in the back of my head. Pounding it's stake into the soft membranes of my cerebellum.

Scott and my mother can attest to my unusual anxiety after he was born. I obsessed over his umbilical cord which fell off too early. I was convinced it would become infected. "I can take him into the walk-in clinic if you want" Scott suggested. I shook my head and was repelled by the idea. Not there. Those places are full of germs and disease and danger - too much danger for a newborn. Then my sister-in-law came over with my cute, sick nephew in tow. I tried my best to beat back the panic. But after they left I melted down. I sobbed hysterically while spraying every toy and surface with Fantastik. Scott looked at me as though I'd lost my mind but every cell in my body was screaming to protect Preston. Protect him. It was unusual, I can't stress this enough - I have never felt this way with either of my other children. Even when Gabriel was born prematurely... I never had any doubt he was supposed to be mine. So this gnawing, clawing, panic inducing feeling grew, and knotted itself inside me like a hangman's noose.

When his breathing became laboured and his diagnosis threatened to crush me under it's weight - the voice, the doubt, this thing that I had never been able to shake - reared up and grinned like the Cheshire cat. This was the answer to the riddle. This was how it would happen. Even now I curse myself for thinking it. But here it is - this premonition, this fear - now written in black and white.  No longer a monster in the myst, but a true foe that I need to defeat.  I need to expel it from my mind, I have to exorcise it somehow - and maybe writing it will destroy it's power over me. But this is why I blanch about tomorrow's appointment. This is why the platitudes and reassurances do nothing to ease my anxiety. Because I saw it coming even before I saw it's form.

It's more than pessimism - it's a feeling that has dogged me from the second he was born. This heartbreakingly beautiful, little human does not belong... Why I feel this way I don't know. I can't explain it. He's so full of light, and hope, and happiness. 

 and To be honest I don't deserve him, but I so desperately want to.