Sunday, August 28, 2011

For My Uncles

My parents grew up in a small town in southern Indiana. My dad lived in town, while to get to where my mother grew up, you drove out of town. Past the high school, the baseball field and the church. Past the cornfields and the cemetary where my grandparents and aunts and uncles were to be buried. And you took a windy country road to the farm.

That road cut between two hills, and up on those hills were two houses that my uncles built. Every day, they drove their farm trucks down to my grandparent's house, the one they each grew up in with my mother, and met my grandfather to discuss the tasks at hand for the day for the farm.

When I was little and we would go to the farm to visit my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, I would drag my butt out of bed at what seemed like the crack of dawn to go to the morning meeting. I loved hearing the squeaky door open as each of my uncles and several of my cousins would come in to sit at the table or on the couches underneath the picture window that overlooked the buildings that housed hogs and hay.

I was THAT little kid, the one who wanted to tag along but not actually help do anything. And you know what? They let me. I was the baby, the youngest of the 27 grandchildren, and while the oldest of the 27 were made to help harvest corn and pick melons, as the baby I was allowed to ride in the truck and watch as they fed the cows. They let me ride the tractor, and talked to me about whatever it was I wanted to talk about. As far as I knew, they never thought twice about it.

When my first uncle passed away a couple of years ago, I vividly remember sitting a couple of rows behind his only son during the funeral Mass. And during the Sign of Peace, my cousin turned to our uncle, the one who he had worked side-by-side with most of his life, and hugged him and they both cried. In that moment of time, in that church, they alone knew what the other was feeling. Each of them knew the sense of loss the other felt from losing a loved one. Not just a brother and a father, but one that they worked next to every. single. day. They all poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the farm, and now they had to continue without him being there with them every. single. day.

My second uncle passed away last week.

As I thought about his life I couldn't help but think past my childhood. The more recent years, when he spent a lot of time with his 11 grandchildren, both on and off the farm. The vacations they took, the countless hours he sat on bleachers cheering them on in their respective sports. The absolute love he poured into his family.

Looking at the pictures displayed at the funeral home, I saw the love he had for my aunt, and the adoration she had for him. You could see it in their eyes in every picture. Whether she was gazing up at him or genuinely smiling like she was laughing, after 48 years of marriage, her smile remained the same...that of a teenage girl in love. He had an impish smile, and rarely looked directly at the camera, but usually off to the side, probably at someone who had just cracked a joke at him right before the camera flashed.

What sucks the most about death, and what struck me when I saw my cousin hugging his uncle 2 years ago, is that you don't worry about the person who has passed. You know that they are in a great place, smiling down at you and out of pain. What sucks the most about death are those who are left behind. Those who never get to feel the physical presence of their father, husband, uncle, grandpa, or brother ever again. All they have are memories, and you always wish you had had more time to make more memories.

They were taken from us too soon. Any one of my relatives will tell you that. They may have led full lives, but they are gone too soon. And now, I can't help but think of that windy country road. And those two houses, built up on hills across from each other. And the women who now live in them alone, without the loves of their lives. And that is what saddens me the most.

These two men, the men who took over the farm that my grandfather began, were great men. They led by example, much like my uncle and aunt who have also passed on to Heaven. They showed their family and friends how to behave and act like true Christians, simply by living their lives. I will never forget them, and I know that no one else will either.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

There was laughing!

I'm not exactly the most hands-on mom.

By that, I mean, I really encourage my kids to entertain themselves. I have important shit to do, like laundry and dishes and read Scary Mommy Confessions.

When I got pregnant with Charlie, the first thing that people said to me when they realized that I would have two kids under the age of two was, "Oh, they'll be SUCH good friends!" And then Charlie arrived.

Sam LOVED her baby sister from day one. And by LOVED, I mean she head-butted her with love, she laid on top of her love, and she stole all of her shit love. I was beginning to doubt that these two would ever get along, since we simply could not teach Sam what it was to be NICE to her little sister.

And then yesterday happened. As per usual, I had the kids in the room with me while I put away a dozen pairs of shoes and some clothes I forgot we owned. (Yes, my kids wear the same clothes over and over, never wearing the super duper incredibly cute shit hanging in the closet with the tags on.)

And it happened.

Charlie walked over to Sam who was sitting on the ground. And she full on tackled her. I look over and both of them are giggling and there is NO SCREAMING. And then Sam started tickling Charlie and laying on top of her and there was MORE GIGGLING.

Holy shit.

People were right. They will play together. They will get along. I know there are many more fights and screaming and crying to come, but at least I know now, there will be laughing too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yesterday, the world lost my uncle.

My family lost my uncle.

My aunt lost her husband, my cousins lost their father, and my cousin's kids lost their grandpa.

He was only a year older than my mom.

I am sure that he got mad, but I don't remember ever seeing it. I also am sure that many of my cousins who are older than me probably did.

He worked on the farm his whole life. First with his father and his brother, and then with his nieces and nephews and his son. The stories my cousins tell of working on the farm, I am surprised anyone made it to adulthood. I am sure they are not exaggerated at all.

When I met Workaholic, I decided to bring him to a family wedding after dating a few short months. And my uncle declared himself Morality Patrol since we were all staying in a hotel. It is safe to say that nothing happened that night with MP trolling the hallways. For years after, Workaholic would refer to that uncle as Morality Patrol. (What can I say, I have a big is hard to remember everyone's names.)

Last Christmas, I decided that I wanted to go to Southern Indiana for Christmas Day, just like I did as a kid. I had missed the last few years, since my immediate family celebrates on Christmas Eve, and I would spend Christmas Day with Workaholic's family.

It was a rather uneventful day, chatting it up with family and enjoying some good, home cooked dumplings. What I remember the most (as does Workaholic) is the next morning. My aunt and uncle invited us over for breakfast. What I didn't realize is that of the 27 grandchildren, I was the only one invited.

It was a breakfast for the siblings, my mom and her brothers and sisters. My youngest aunt made sausage and white rice, and scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy. After we ate (and ate and ate) Workaholic turned to me and asked when I was going to learn to cook like that. It was damn good.

Samantha played her usual charming self and Charlie napped while we sat around the table and talked. We talked and talked. They couldn't understand why I would talk about poop on the internet, much less my own constipation during pregnancy. They didn't believe me when I told them that Elvis died of constipation. One of my aunts offered to take out her dentures, and they all asked me what was so gross about your parents having sex. (Really, you have to ask??)

It was a very nice time. I left there thinking, "I really need to get down here more often."

That was the last time I was at my uncle's house when he was alive. I will forever be grateful for them inviting me to that breakfast.

Because now? Now we all have to live with a hole in our lives. It is a very difficult concept for me to grasp, that his family will never see him again. Hug him again. Laugh with him again. His younger grandchildren won't get to really know what a great guy he was. His older grandchildren will miss spending time with him, talking sports and making him proud when they played.

We'll all miss him. We all love him. We are all better people for knowing him.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Year

This? Was a year ago. (OK, let's be honest, a year and 5 days ago)
This? Was a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, it is true, my baby Charlotte Mae is now one year old.

I can't believe it has been a year. I am a mom of two little girls. Who have the faintest of red hair.

And my little Charlie? Is an awesome kid, if I do say so myself.

She cuddles, she WALKS, she loves stuffed and animals and real animals alike. Her and Kale get along fabulously. Which is to say that they fight over his toys. (She may or may not have gotten caught recently eating dog food, chewing on a previously chewed rawhide bone, and feeding Kale her afternoon snack. And dinner. And breakfast.)

She can say Hiii, and MOMMY, and apparently Daddy too, although I have yet to hear that one. Since everyone was so happy to take Sam when she was born, Charlie is a bit of a momma's girl. She is getting better, but I'm still her favorite. For now.

While she isn't as great a sleeper as Sam was, she still will sleep 12 hours at night, just not as heavily. She'll play in her crib for an hour before deciding to get up, and then is ready to go back down for a nap an hour later. Unless there is something going on. In that case, she wants to be up and all involved in the action. 

I can't wait for the day when she takes Sam down. I have said this over and over, but Sam sort of deserves it. A friend recently brought her 6 month old daughter over. She was amazed at how rough Sam was, literally trying to rip her baby out of her arms. So I guess the fact that Sam will wrap her arms around Charlie and fall backwards with her isn't. quite. normal. At least Charlie is tough because of it. She hardly cries at all anymore when shoved to the ground. (And yes, we have tried telling her to "be nice" "be gentle" etcetcetc. Sam takes that as BE ROUGHER!! And then cries when put in time-out.)

I've fearfully started Charlie on whole milk, since the whole AWFUL gas thing that put her on soy formula at 6 weeks of age. And true to her form, Charlie handled it like a champ. She guzzles it down and doesn't even notice that there is no Karo syrup in the bottle. She has taken to sippy cups like a duck to water, coincidentally, she also likes watching ducks in the water. 

She likes the lake, and boat rides, and her cousins. She doesn't like running water in the bathtub, being hungry or thirsty, or people she doesn't know. She has mastered going up and down the stairs and has yet to actually go down them the wrong way. This time of her life is so far my favorite. Her personality is starting to shine, and I just LOVE it. I can't wait to see what the next year brings. I am guessing many take-downs and many more sibling fights.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Not to Complain or Anything

So it is no secret that lately I have been struggling. Did you read my last post?

But sometimes, it makes things so. much. worse. when you realize what other people are going through. And then you think to yourself, "Self, what the fuck is wrong with you?"

For example, my uncle had a quadruple bypass 2 Friday's ago. And he is not recovering well.

So his wife and children, brothers and sisters, and various nieces and nephews have been spending time hours away from home, days at a time, to be with him. The emotional ups and downs of a hospital watch are... well, yeah, they suck. I feel bad complaining when they are going through that. And yet...

Summer has flown by. And we have had a good time, don't get me wrong. I got to spend a great weekend with a great friend and her family that I hadn't see in over 2 years. And I spent another fun weekend with other friends. And I have another fun weekend coming up with more friends.

But there is also the couple of weeks when Kale got neutered, and got diarrhea. And Fonz's toe has been infected for a couple of weeks, and now his ears are too. Little Charlie turns one on Saturday, and I am having a hard time getting in the mood to celebrate. Or plan her party. Which I have already committed to.

This is what it is like to be depressed. For no reason. And then you get mad at yourself for feeling sorry for yourself. And that just makes you shut down even more. Workaholic has been busy beyond belief, which means he can't be there to, well...pick me up. Like usual. 

I wish I could just snap out of this. I wish the new meds would work. I wish I had that fire in my belly that everyone else around me seems to have that gets them through their day. Part of me wonders if I am just lazy. I suppose it is possible. But am I really choosing laziness over self worth? Over feeling good? Over feeling like I got something accomplished? Goodness, I hope not.