Happy Birthday, Grammy

Today is my Mom’s birthday; she would have been 78 years old today.

She passed away quite unexpectedly almost seven years ago. I think about and miss her every single day of my life.

BBBday

Here are a few pics of Grammy (as she came to be called after her grandchildren arrived) and my big mug, too. I wish I had better pictures of my Mom. She hated having her picture taken – she was never happy with how she looked. I wish she could have known just how beautiful a woman she was…

My Mom had a not-so-great early life. The details are unimportant now, but she battled (I think) with moderate depression for much of her life. The one thing that DID bring her great joy? Her children, and her grandchildren. She loved us all unconditionally and – speaking only for myself – I am not sure that love was always deserved, yet she lavished it on all of us. She also loved my Dad like crazy, was a devoted friend and a crazy cool Mom. I loved her all my life – still do. She taught me to be loving and forgiving, accepting and tolerant, caring and embracing. She encouraged my creative side and was herself a talented artist – maybe not in a “museum” sense, but she was a killer doodler and quite honestly had the most beautiful, expressive handwriting of anyone I have ever known. Grammy was funny and sensitive. She could cuss like a sailor and cry when she saw some random cat that had been hit by a car.

My Mom stayed home with us till my little sister started school, then returned to work. She worked in a large department store for more than twenty years, went on to work at IBM (clerical position) and eventually worked part-time at our hometown drugstore/gift shop. She maintained a close circle of girlfriends that treated us like their own children – it was kinda’ great growing up, thinking my “Mom was cool and had cool friends, too.” My Mom ALWAYS supported every choice I made – even when they were bad ones. People might think that makes her a bad parent but – to the contrary – she let me find my own path, most times cheering me along from the sidelines but more than a handful of times, picking my broke-down self up and making me feel good again.

Grammy kicked ass. She is my Angel and, although I HATE her not being her with me, I know she watches over me. And that makes me feel loved and safe. Grammy ALWAYS made me feel loved and safe. And isn’t that what being a GREAT parent really is all about?

So, yeah, I am a little sad today, thinking about my Mom/Grammy and missing her a bit more than usual. But I am happy that she was/is my Mom, and feel blessed by that fact.

I try not to dwell in sadness too much so today my siblings and I, and Grammy’s grandchilden, all celebrated her memory in a special way. My Mom LOVED McDonald’s ice cream. L-O-V-E-D. (“Best 50 cents you can spend!” she used to say). So in Grammy’s honor, we all took time to enjoy a vanilla soft serve cone from Mickey D’s today.

Besides that fact that Grammy loved these cones, they are a lot like Grammy herself:

So sweet, so enjoyable, so perfect and – sadly – gone all too soon…

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope today has been great for you. I love and miss you. A lot. Your loving son, Tim

The Key With A Heart

I’m taking a break from my typical, albeit intermittent, “Monday Memes” post format today to talk about a key. A very specific key. A key that holds my heart…

As most of you know, my father passed away last October after a long illness. I still miss him a lot – and my mother, too – but I have come to accept “the natural order of things.” There is an emptiness now, with both my parents gone, that is hard to fill, hard to ignore. But I move forward and do my best to remember the good times, holding their love in my heart.

Most days, it’s just OK at best. Today it was a little rougher than normal.

See, today I attempted to remove the key to my parents’ house from my key ring. My family moved into that house in early December 1972, and my father passed away gently in that same house in October 2014. My Dad spent just under 43 years there, in a house he and my Mom both loved – our whole family loved it, actually. We all still do. Which is why today was kinda’ hard.

Today in one of my frequent grumble-y moments, I became frustrated trying to remove the fist-sized wad of keys and door openers that are MY keys from my back pocket. As I mumbled obscenities under my breath, I vowed to “fix that flippin’ key ring” when I got home. Sad thing is, when I tried, the only key I do NOT need on my key ring is the old key to my parents’ house. The very key I received as a “responsible fourteen-year-old man/boy” in December of 1972. A key that has been in my pocket virtually every single day of my life for now over forty-three years. I cannot let that key go, I just can’t…

keyThe key we are discussing looks NOTHING like the key above, of course. The key I cannot let go of is a nondescript, regular old house key with a triangular head. But – in my mind, and in my heart – that key is as magical and special as the heart-shaped key shown above. My key does hold my heart, and opens the door to a bahjillion memories, all created in that house…

My first “coming home drunk” (I passed out in the side flower bed and my Mom woke me up the next morning – not even kidding!) My first “sneak out and sneak back in” without my parents knowing (I’m sure they did). My first car accident (I ran over the mailbox at the top of our driveway as I was backing up and out). My first day on my first job (I was 15 – Mom dropped me off at work – so embarrassing!) My first cigarette “down by the creek.” Summer nights playing Jail Break (teenage hide-n-seek, a variation of Kick the Can). Late night “streaking” in my undies with the neighbor boys (it was the 70’s, after all, and we were too scared to get totally naked, LOL!)

Then there are forty-three Christmas gatherings and birthdays and Thanksgivings, all in the same house, all through the door opened by that key. When I close my eyes, I can still hear how the front door “opens” – there would be a small click as I turned the key. Then, when I opened the door, the weather stripping would creak a little. My Dad was always in the living room, in his recliner, and would always say, “Well, hello there, son” and – for whatever reason – it seems my Mom was ALWAYS at the kitchen sink, washing dishes (I think she was born wearing yellow Playtex rubber gloves). I would walk in, kiss my Dad then circle into the kitchen where my Mom would always say, “Well, here’s my big man” and then hug me really hard and kiss me.

I miss them, and I miss that house. And, weird as it sounds, I cannot give up that key.

Even though it no longer opens any physical door, it is an anchor for me. I look at that key and feel safe and loved and, well, home. I know I have shared before that keys hold a special meaning for me – this one certainly does. I suspect that if I am lucky enough to live to be one hundred, I will still be carrying that key and – if I am really lucky – I’ll also be carrying all the loving, beautiful memories it unlocks…

Monday Memes 36

The other day, as I was discussing some relatively unimportant event at work with a co-worker and was midstream in my point, she interrupted me and said, “Tim, I swear, you see the world like no other person I know.” I smiled and thanked her but she continued on, commenting that I was “…a unique individual” and that she had “…never met anyone like me.”

Now, before this post seems like a huge paean to me (S.A.T. word) or some sort of weird “look-how-great-I-am” post, I only mention this conversation as a jumping off point for today’s blog post. What I think my friend was suggesting is that I am a non-conformist – that I do not follow the “normal” rules or outline predetermined by society. I like to draw to the edge of the paper; I like to swim against the current; I just like to be me and not pretend to be anyone else.

So far – after almost 57 years here on the planet – that strategy has worked for me. And in that spirit, one of supporting fellow non-conformists, others like me who are “not normal” or who “stand out,” I offer the following graphics. I hope they inspire you to listen to your heart and be who you are want/are meant to be. The best advice I ever got? Be yourself. Enjoy!

fish conformity

they-love-to-tell-you-stay-inside-the-lines

notice more

Monday Memes 34

In the past 48 hours, Cleveland has received more than a foot of snow. What does that mean? Normally, a little snow in Cleveland is nothing – heck, even a foot isn’t that big a deal. That said, today kinda’ sucked because of the snow. Why? Because I parked my car on the street and snow plows apparently had no option but to PLOW my car in, pushing snow up and beyond the bottom of the doors (I drive a mini van), leaving my poor car to languish and die a slow, frozen death out on the curb. The situation sucked.

Then The Universe stepped in and reminded me that people are good and kind…

Kindness-Quotes-8

My Beloved and I spent about five hours today shopping with a client, then helping install the items she had purchased. We saw the van, looking forlorn and snow-covered as we left for the appointment. In fact, we tried to “unstick it” from its frozen cage before we left, to no avail. (We took our “other car”). When we came back, I was certain the sun had warmed the snow enough to allow me to simply drive out of the 18″ snow bank smothering the van.

It had not.

And so, with me at the wheel, my Angel began pushing the van. We rocked back and forth, gaining and then losing, inches at a time. When I saw that he looked frozen, I suggested we trade places – he would take the wheel and I would push and rock. I’m not sure why but, after about two minutes of pushing, a security officer in a Bobcat stopped and began helping push. Then another. And finally, a LADY – with two bags of groceries, walking down the street – joined in and helped. In about four minutes, the van was free!!! We all smiled, high-fived one another, then the lady grabbed her groceries, the second man walked away and the first man returned to his mini snowplow and drove off.

It was inspiring, and the experience touched my heart. For a moment I questioned if maybe I had looked that pathetic, out there pushing on my own but – no matter the reason – I was truly grateful that The Universe sent those three angels to help Martin and me.

help people

I forget sometimes that the world is full of kind, generous people – people that care about others, even strangers stuck in a snow drift. Thank you, nice lady with groceries, man out walking and security officer in a little Bobcat. I like to think you helped me and were kind to me because I am helpful and kind to others. Whether that is true or not, I will take this afternoon’s kindness, remember it and pay it forward.

Monday Memes 33

Or should this entry be called “Money Memes 33?”

I have recently spent a lot of time examining what I like to call my own personal return on investment – actually more like my return versus investment. In this “unscientific survey,” I have examined the amount of time and energy I invest in EARNING a living versus the amount of time and energy I actually invest IN living.

The early results are in, and the findings are NOT encouraging:

1204-20121002-WORK-WORKYes, it seems as though I WORK WORK WORK and realize little enjoyment in not only MAKING a living but also in spending my earnings – I mean, who gets excited about buying a new set of tires for their car?pay billsYes, sadly I seem to spend the better part of EVERY day just trying to keep up/break even on life. It beats me down sometimes, I mean, this is SO true:

dieI’m not sure what the answer is but I plan on investing considerable time and energy into finding out (the answer). Don’t get me wrong, I lead a fairly nice, fairly comfortable life but, my goodness, how nice it would be to afford the luxury of going out to dinner and not think about how high my credit card balance is on the old AmEx. Hopefully things will be better soon – some questions will get answered at work, some debt will be erased through hard work and good fortune and there are trips planned for the upcoming months (some weekend and some international). Maybe it’s all in one’s point of perspective but man oh man, how can it take days/weeks/months to earn and save money, only to be spent in literally like two minutes?

BTW – Someone messaged me and let me know that I generally post graphics here, not memes in the traditional sense and questioned why I called this column Monday Memes. Listen. Go pound.