Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Holy Moly

I thought I was going to work at 8:00 today, coffee and water in hand, purse heavy with fruit on my arm, when I realized, IT'S TUESDAY. I don't go in until 9:00.

I just had a memorable weekend in Chicago with three other women who lost sons to suicide 14 years ago, 2 years ago and 8 months ago. We are all in different points in our journey but were able to share many thoughts and emotions with each other and see where we have come from and where we are going. I feel blessed to know these women, but honestly, I did reach out and pave the way for this to happen.

This is Us
On Tour

We had a full slate of activities planned which was exciting and invigorating. Our stories were woven into everything we did and the long train ride each way was also a conduit for connection. It was unique because it was easy to bring up any question, topic or memory of our sons. There are some similarities and many differences among us. It was new to me to be one of the 'seasoned veterans' so to speak, rather than the newbie still dealing with raw emotions. I would say I've softened over the past 20 months.

 Me trying to catch Cal's friend Reid in the Chicago Marathon

Someone else caught this smile...Reid running for the AFSP- he raised over $1000.00!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kicks

Of course I have heard of Route 66, the original highway from Chicago to LA. I have seen many touristy traps in Springfield, IL and even Albuquerque, NM, but never really driven on it. Last weekend I hit a new Route 66 destination: Lincoln, IL, where Cal now lives.



On my way to Bloomington from Lincoln, I actually traversed the infamous Route 66. I didn't actually see this image, but I did buy a postcard of it ($1.50). Something I've always wanted to do is drive the whole route. Kind of funny coming from someone who doesn't really like to drive that much. I think I discovered on my Florida trip I have more driving stamina than I thought. And I thought it would be fun to stop at all the kitschy diners, dives and road side attractions along the way. Maybe on a motorcycle.

I got down and dirty with my oven this morning. Pat had put a limp pizza directly on the oven grates last night and it basically melted into the bottom of the oven. I sprayed it down last night and cleaned the grates. This morning I jolted out of bed with dirty oven on my mind. Yeah, it was long overdue.

And that's how we get our Kicks on Route 66 and Calhoun Street.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A moment

Having a moment. This morning at aerobics class this song came on at the end. It hit me in the feels-bad. Our kids used to watch An American Tail, the Fievel movies nonstop on the old VCR. This is not a song you hear anymore, and the words are killing me:




Monday, September 11, 2017

On Memory and Forgetting

After our weekly Sunday chat (Mom, Dad, Betsy and me), I thought, "This could be a Family News article." Every Sunday conversation contains at least one instance of Dad bemoaning the lack of Family New submissions and the technology hurdles he has encountered (but that's another story- and one to raise my blood pressure, which I am trying to lower [but that's yet another story]).

This story here starts with my report that Pat has lately become concerned about developing early Alzheimer's. His mother has some form of dementia, but it wasn't a particularly early onset. We then talked about how most people of a certain age, do worry about this so Betsy decided to give us a memory test of three items to be recalled later (or not): helmet, picture, dog.

The conversation meandered and Dad mentioned he will be going into his "rabbit hole" when Mom's sewing club comes over tomorrow. He went on to say he favors this name over "man cave" because he once had a shirt he was very proud of that had a rabbit on it rather than an alligator. This was at the height of the Preppy style. His old friend Charlie Mayer used to remark on it and dubbed himself "the fox" and Dad "the rabbit." I was quick to point out this was a sought after Albuquerque (never before told story/tale) as opposed to the dreaded Minneapolis (previously or recently or especially oft repeated story). Albuquerques are hard to come by as we all age.

Shortly thereafter, in all innocence, Dad began one of his famous Minneapoli about how he doesn't like to see men kissing on TV. In an effort to stop the direction this was going I blurted out, "Has anyone read James Lee Burke?" since they all love mysteries, and I hate them. Betsy immediately spoke up, "Dave Robicheaux, I love him!" Mom and Dad both claimed they "never heard of" either. Betsy then chimed in, "I recorded myself reading an entire novel of his for you guys and you said you liked it. Blank silence. "New Orleans, detective...?" They both then vaguely claimed they remembered. Note of defense: this was over 20 years ago when they were living on Calhoun Street.

Are you ready for the results of the Memory Test? Here they are after about 50 minutes:

Dad: helmet, dog
Susan: helmet, picture, bike, bicycle
Mom: helmet, picture, dog

So who's worried now?


Thursday, September 07, 2017

Moving Forward and About


Today Pat and I moved my mom’s Queen mattress set to our house. We are hoping this is the last moving we do for a while. Mom had casually mentioned wanting to get a new bed last spring, and offering me or my kids her old bed, which has been fairly lightly used. This finally came to fruition today. (Never mind she doesn’t have a bed to sleep on now…*)

The past year and a half have involved more change and movement than I care to think about.  2016 started with the terrible news of Adam’s suicide in February. We were shaken to our core, but soon learned life keeps moving. Eli graduated college in May 2016 followed by Cal in December 2016. Both earned teaching degrees and credentials. Eli married the love of his life Hannah on June 4, 2016. Our lives were enriched as Hannah joined our family, while we continued to grieve in our own ways Adam’s not being here to celebrate the milestones together. Eli took a teaching job close to Macomb and the newlyweds got their first apartment together. Some of our furniture moved in with them. We acquired more to fill in the spaces. With Eli and Cal venturing out into the world, and knowing Adam would never return home, Pat eventually cleaned out and redecorated all three of their bedrooms.

I now have a sunny yellow meditation room and a deep blue guest room. I slept in Adam’s old room for over a year, and it has recently been repurposed a dark green to house our part time guest, Regine, a graduate student from Cameroon.
I was lucky to be able to travel and help move Eli and Hannah earlier this month to Gainesville, FL where they will both be graduate assistants and earning their Master degrees (trumpet performance and musicology respectively).  This necessitated some more furniture moving and giving away of pieces. Cal quickly followed with equipping his first solo apartment in Lincoln, IL with several large items from our house, including his bed. He will be teaching 7th graders social studies and geography and coaching 3 sports.

It is exciting and satisfying to see my ducklings take flight, but of course we will miss having them close and dependent on us. All this moving and rearranging and reorganizing brings emotions of pride, happiness, and sadness for the new lives that are starting, and the one that has ended. The good days outweigh the dark days, but know that Adam is never far from my thoughts, even if I look or feel “fine.”

Some things I have learned (and re-learned) through these changes: appreciate the little things (clean sheets, a beautiful sunset, cooler weather, legs and arms that can ride a bicycle, the ability to pay a bill), ask for help and accept it, let your emotions be okay, take time for yourself to be quiet and take a risk or two.

I recently spoke to the Macomb Rotary Club about the Out of the Darkness Walk. It was terrifying to stand in front of a large group and speak my truth about Adam and suicide. But, I will not stay silent and pretend suicide cannot affect anyone. Two fathers of boys from Adam’s high school class were in the audience. A dialogue was started within the meeting, and I was approached afterwards with meaningful sharing. My heart felt so full after doing this.

When I attended my first Out of the Darkness Walk in 2013, it was with my dear cousin Laurie in mind. I never thought I would be touched by suicide again, or in such a profound way. I started Macomb’s first Out of the Darkness Walk in 2016 to honor Adam’s memory, to cope with my own grief, and to do something about preventing suicide from bringing down more lives. I will again be coordinating the Macomb Walk September 23rd and walking in the Springfield, IL Walk October 14.  I would appreciate your prayers, thoughts, support, or donations at www.macombwalk.org , www.springfieldwalk.org or by mail to 417 E. Calhoun St. Macomb, IL 61455 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).


*lest you think I left my mother bed-less, she chose to procrastinate buying a new bed and will be sleeping on a hide-a-bed, stating that she won’t get a new bed until she gets sick of sleeping in the living room

Friday, September 01, 2017

Labor Day of Yore

I keep getting these flashback photos on Facebook to ----years ago. I do enjoy it. So here is one from Labor Day Weekend 2014 in Louisville:


I literally just learned a new trick. I was looking for the picture I had saved to my desktop to upload, and it wasn't there. When I went back to my desktop it was there, so I reduced down my blog and drug the picture onto the page. Wow, so much easier than the steps of uploading. 

Anyway, this particular Labor Day Eli, Cal, Hannah and I somehow got to Betsy's house the same weekend Chris, Donna and Megan were there. By somehow, I know we drove, but don't know who came from where. Eli was entering his sophomore year at ISU and Cal and Hannah were frosh at Spoon and WIU. Wait, that's totally wrong. Eli was a senior and Cal and Hannah juniors. Cal had just transferred to ISU then. We went to that weird Bluegrass and Whiskey Festival on Sunday. 

Even if Adam wouldn't have normally spent this holiday with family, it still makes me sad that he can't join us this year. I found myself unable to sleep last night, unable to nap today, rehashing painful memories in step by step detail. I managed to keep myself busy when I decided I didn't want to dwell there too long. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traditions

I am hoping to start a new tradition, but don't tell my kids. Here it is (drum roll)...

A weekly letter, parcel, surprise to my kids. 

That didn't sound too exciting did it? It's kind of a family tradition that started with Betsy's and my Family News circa 1974 (which my dad has lovingly taken over long ago). Next was the weekly Sunday letter to China, which would arrive months later. Then I resurrected the Family News when my kids were young and I felt so far away in Buffalo. 

It's only been two weeks and so far so good. I think they enjoyed getting something via snail mail. Never mind I don't think Cal knows to check his mailbox on a regular basis; this new generation! They think everything comes electronically. And it practically does. Everything except love from your mama.

**Please note my sidebar and a new blog that has been added called Stories from Heliotrope U. This blog is written by my dad's old friend Loren. They shared an office in the WIU English Department many moons ago. He's a great guy, swell storyteller, and English master extraordinaire, so get out your dictionary and give him a read.