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

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.

Monday Memes 24

I apologize for my absence lately from the “blogosphere.” Life just gets in the way of letting me do what I want sometimes (a LOT of times, actually!)

Here is a great meme I came across recently; it is sort of a brief “Life Manifesto:”

take chances

I have done many (all?) of these things and, I have to say (in a non-gloating way), I think I have had/still live a pretty great life. Read thru the list – where can YOU put a check mark?

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Sorry I have been “absent” from blogging for a few days; being a grown-up sucks. Life always “gets in the way” of all (most?) of the fun stuff I’d like to do, like blogging, eating M&M’s all day, etc. One fun thing that DID happen was a great – and I mean GREAT – Halloween party over the weekend. Hosted by our friends Mike and Chris, this year’s party (themed CarnEVIL) was pretty kick ass, as always…

My beloved Martin LOVES Halloween – no, really, REALLY loves it. And that is OK – I kinda’ like it, too. It is a silly, scary holiday and it is fun getting dressed up for the parties and trick-or-treating. Anyway, it should come as no surprise that, given his love of Halloween, one of Martin’s favorite movies of all time is Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” It is a super cute movie, very well done, and we had it playing Saturday as we were getting in character/costume for CarnEVIL. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, you must. It is a visual delight and the soundtrack? Perfection.

Speaking of the soundtrack, “This Is Halloween” (a song from the movie) has been running thru my head for the past 30 hours or so – click the image below to be “linked” to a recording with lyrics.

The_Nightmare_Before_Christmas_0

The movie is pretty spectacular – Jack Skellington and Sally? The perfect Romeo and Juliet for Halloween. Please, click the link above, give it a listen, then rent this movie. You will be glad you did!

NBC

Have a great week, everyone, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN in advance!

Poor poor me

Im Poor

I have never understood the seemingly discordant relationship between the amount of time it takes to MAKE money versus the amount of time it takes to SPEND money. For example, I need a new set of tires for our car, and suspect four new tires will cost between $600 – $800 dollars. It has taken me a bit of time to earn/save that money and yet, it will be spent in the blink of an eye. One debit card “swipe” and “POOF!” that money is out of my account. Gone. As though it never existed there.

That sucks, I think.

It seems like you should feel good about spending money for at least half as long as it took you to earn and/or save it. Another example: many of my friends save all year to go on a one week vacation. Saving? 358 days. Enjoying? 7 days.

That just isn’t fair. Plus, who gives a sh*t about new tires, I mean, none of our friends have ever invited us over for dinner and to “take a gander at their new tires.” Ugh. I hate being poor…

Universe? Could you possibly send me the winning Mega Millions numbers in a dream? I would be the kindest, most generous and most humble mega-rich person ever. Promise.

No, really… Give me $200 million dollars and just watch all the good that I will do. I am waiting…

Challenge Accepted

Given all the upheaval and turmoil/change in my life recently, I have vowed to attempt DO the following:

ugly day

I have to admit, many days since 28 August this goal has been all-but-impossible to achieve. That admission aside, things ARE gradually getting better and each day IS actually getting less ugly and more beautiful. Thanks, Universe!

Monday Memes 22

So, it has almost been a MONTH since my last Monday Memes post; sorry, I have had a “lot” going on lately. Anyway, as I was researching memes for today’s post, I came across this image:

dream

Given all that has happened for me this year – closing a business, burying a parent, all in addition to the other daily BS we all endure – I kinda’ lost myself, and my “dream” for a bit. Good news? I have taken SEVERAL deep breaths and am, as they say, BACK in the game. Thanks to my friends and family for all your love and support, not only recently but over the course of this whole year. Thanks to my beloved Martin, and his unconditional love and support. He IS my dream… And thanks to my parents for allowing me the opportunity TO dream while I was growing up.

For me, now? The dream continues… 

Revelations About Grammy and Pop-pop

On Sunday, I began the task of organizing and clearing out my parents’ house, readying it for sale after my father’s recent death. My Mom passed away six years ago and my Dad (Pop-pop) pretty-much left the house intact since – I mean, my Mom’s cigarette case is still on the coffee table and a pack of Kool 100’s is in the freezer (now six years old). Anyway, today was the first few hours in what I can see will be a lengthy process.

My goal today was to organize my parents’ living room, making it look as though they still lived there – not for any creepy reason but out of respect to their memories, and the house they loved. My father spent his final few weeks at home before he passed away there. Since the hospital bed got picked up, there has been a “hole” in the living room and the coffee table became the unofficial sponge bath staging area, holding towels and bedding. It was important to me that the room be returned to its former semi-glorious state, more or less as an homage to my parents and the house I grew up in.

As my project got underway, the first thing I noticed was that, in the final few months of his life, it appears Pop-pop replaced household cleaning products with household disinfecting products, as if Clorox Wipes and Dow Scrubbing Bubbles would make his cancer disappear. I wound up dusting the furniture with a damp cloth (goodness knows, my Mom accumulated 1000+ dish towels in her life, LOL!) Then I began the “clearing-and-straightening-up” process. I immediately determined three things:

1. My Mom never met a silk flower she didn’t like. Or a candle ring. Or a garland of silk ivy…

candle ring

I must have tossed three or four candle rings (all seasons, BTW), more than a few garlands of silk ivy (my Mom had taken to wrapping them around curtain rods; it is a look for sure) and two silk arrangements from her OWN funeral – saved by my father after – now all dusty and faded. Don’t get me wrong – my LOVE for my parents is boundless BUT my Mother definitely had her own ideas when it came to “home accessorizing.” Which leads into revelation two…

2. Grammy had an addition to burgundy key tassels. A serious addiction.

tassel

I must have “liberated” about eighteen of these today from my parents’ living room, They were on door knobs and cabinet pulls, hanging off the dining room chandelier (not even kidding!) and pinned to curtain edges. Again, I love Grammy, but Mom, please – enough with the key tassels already. And finally, Pop-pop’s answer to key tassels?

3. The Yellow Pages. My Dad was a phone book “hoarder.” I cleared 2005 thru 2013 out of the house today.

phone booksMy father’s attraction to phone books is odd – he hated talking on the phone. I suppose he just always wanted to ensure he could find a number when he needed one.

So anyway, when I left, I was quite pleased with how the living room “looked” – it was neat, organized and clean. I was not happy, however, with how the room “felt.” Sad thing is, in my efforts to make it look like someone “lived there.” I made it look like a model apartment: stacks of books here, strategically-placed pillows on every piece of upholstery and – forgive me, Grammy, forgive me Pop-pop – I also re-arranged the lamps.

I know – I am a horrible son (and anal retentive/ mild OCD, too!) And, know what was REALLY missing from the living room, the one thing I cannot “fix” or glam up? My parents are gone.

I’d stack those phone books, re-hang all those tassels AND wind faux ivy around any length of chain, rod or rail if I could only have my parents back. I missed them today, BIG TIME. And while I relished pitching those excessive things out, I’d be the happiest child on earth if I could hear my Dad ask for a phone book, or have my Mom ask me which candle ring I liked better.

I miss you Mom, I miss you Dad. Please look after each other, OK and, if you could, give me a glance every now and again, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

How Do You Decide?

boxes-keep-throw-donate

It has now been over a week since my father passed away, I have been busying myself with “executor” duties almost every day. It is hard to imagine what one must do to “prove” that someone you loved has died until you are actually called upon to do it. Thanks to my awesome friends, sympathy cards continue to arrive. They are sweet and touching but also serve as daily, multi-color reminders that Pop-pop is gone. Sigh… Then there is tomorrow’s task.

Tomorrow I will be at my Dad’s house for two reasons:

1. Monday would have been his 85th birthday so I want to “visit” him and Mom at the cemetery and mark the day with a small celebration.

2. It is time for the purging to begin. To borrow a mantra from professional organizers (and hoarders), it is time to begin the process of “Keep. Throw Away. Donate.”

I am not looking forward to this endeavor.

My Dad lived in the same house for forty-two years and, while he was a tidy guy, he was also very frugal – meaning that few things ever got “thrown away.” This thing was saved for parts. That thing was here in case we “ever needed one.” And let’s be honest – a person just accumulates a LOT of stuff in the course of eighty-plus years of living.

I am going down alone, partly because I need some alone time at my parents’ house and partly because I simply do not know how productive the visit will be. Sure, some things are easy – old magazines and papers, well-worn bath towels and dozens of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” containers with the lids (my Mom always sent food home with us when she was alive). Some things are harder – my Dad’s clothes, some of my Mom’s remaining things that Dad could not bear to part with and pictures, lots of pictures. My senior picture, all the grand kids’ photos – heck, my parents’ fridge is one giant photo collage. Where does it all go? How do you decide what to keep?

I’ve decided to let my heart decide. During future visits I will have input from my sibs but this first “run down” it will just be me, alone in the house my parents loved, the house I grew up in, the place that holds many memories for me. Those are what I most plan on keeping – all the great, loving memories of growing up there, the “Hallmark Holidays” with my family (my goodness, my Mom never met a holiday guest towel or candle ring she didn’t love!), the tree I grew from a seed that is now like 35 feet tall in the back yard, the bent mailbox post (bent because I ran over it as I was learning to drive almost forty years ago…)

Some things will get tossed. Some things will get donated. But some things I will cherish forever.