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…

Four Days In…

57403-New-Year-New-Beginning

It’s now four days into the new year. Four days have already passed in this new year “full of promise and potential.” 

I feel a little overwhelmed already… I am reminded of the old Weight Watcher’s mantra, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Ugh.

There is a certain burden I feel whenever the year changes, a responsibility to “make this the BEST year ever.” It weighs heavily on me, this responsibility to be, oh, I don’t know – super human or significant or special. I am not sure what I am “supposed” to be in this big, bright virgin new year. Sigh. I am in my mid-fifties; you’d think I would have a handle on all this by now.

I remember from my expensive-but-now-largely-under-utilized Franklin-Covey training that most people are good at the “big rocks” but the little ones just get lost by the wayside. This year, I want to address both my big AND little rocks.

So, call them resolutions, call them goals, call them objectives – whatever! – I have a few things on my 2015 “list.” I have to admit, I was inspired to create this list in no small part by my beloved husband Martin, who went to the trouble to create a personal “pin board” of all his plans for 2015. (He inspires me in so many ways, that guy!) Anyhow, here is my short list – just five, in honor of five – a blog – for the remaining 361 days of 2015:

1. I want to be healthier; to that end, I WILL lose 50 pounds by the end of June. Health is the main goal, but weight loss also plays into my next objective.

2. I want to travel. I WILL go to Europe with my Sweetie this summer, spending one week in his native Poland, meeting his family (finally!) and experiencing where he comes from, then spend an additional week – just the two of us – exploring France or Germany or England – somewhere. Once I lose fifty pounds, I will look sexy as hell in a bathing suit on some European beach, am I right?

3.  I want to live in the moment. I WILL acknowledge the past but leave it there and not let it define me in the present. Listen, 2014 SUCKED for me, personally and professionally. Were it not for Martin, I would have probably off’d myself. (Just kidding, kinda’). But, point is, I will not dwell on my suck-y past year and, instead, embrace the coming year with hope and optimism.

4. I want to spend more time with people I love. I WILL engage with friends more, and let the people I love know how important they are to me. All too often I am happy just being with my Sweetie but have come to understand that this behavior is a bit of laziness on my part, coupled with a fear of “falling short” – maybe I can’t cook as well, or maybe I am not flush enough to go out to fancy restaurants or maybe our sofa is a bit faded. The truth I need to remember is that with true friends, one never falls short. Bringing in Chinese take-out with true friends is as wonderful as dinner out at a four-star joint.

5. I want to remember to always be grateful. I WILL cherish every great thing that happens to me, every day, whether that is just driving home and getting all “green lights” or finally (potentially?) winning the HGTV Two Million Dollar Dreamhouse (OMG, please!!!) I sometimes forget that my life – as imperfect as I think it might be – is probably envied by many. I have a reasonable job (granted, it could pay more), my Sweetie and I have a pretty great apartment, we have some kick-ass friends, I have my health and I have a man I adore that adores me back. I often need to remind myself of these realities…

So there you have it – my “short list” for the coming year. I feel confident I can make all these things happen. I will definitely keep you posted and you remind me, too, if you catch me falling short. In the mean time, have a GREAT new year and always remember this:

find time

Monday Memes 29

OK, let me begin by apologizing for the late post; as I write this, it is actually TUESDAY, not Monday. But, I had a jam-packed “day off” today, getting ready for Christmas and all the festivities happening next week. In fact, reflecting on my own personal Monday Madness provided the inspiration for today’s post…

I wish I could say this was a list I had “edit-ed” myself, but I didn’t. That said, I plan on taking this list to heart this season:

Holiday ListI mean, can you imagine how great the holiday season would be if we all wrapped one another in hugs? Or actually were the light, instead of seeking them out? It.Would.Be.Amazing.

I also see this graphic, or some version of it, every year and every year I come to identify with its message more and more…

Christmas list

This holiday season, I hope everyone can connect with what really matters, what is important and what will make your life – and the lives of others – better year round. Is an X-Box 360 a great gift? No doubt, but visiting a shut-in, helping clothe others less fortunate or donating the money you would have spent on a fancy Christmas dinner out to a local food bank will make the world a better place and nourish your soul and spirit.

Isn’t it time you revisited YOUR Christmas list?

Giving Thanks, 2014 Edition

It’s Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, a day to consider how we are blessed (in a fortunate way/not simply a “Christian” way) and a day to consider – honestly – just how lucky we are.

It would be easy for me to say that 2014 has sucked so far, and ask The Universe just where the hell my “blessings” are.

In August 2014, I closed my business after almost seven years of (literally) blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears. The closing of my business was a bit devastating emotionally and certainly was, and continues to be, somewhat crushing financially as well. With the closing of my business came my return to the employment market as a job SEEKER – I hadn’t “filled out an application” in more than probably twenty years; each of my jobs before opening my own business was the result of scouting by my then-future employer – I got ASKED to work with them. Reciting my high school GPA and “Other Interests” was something very alien and foreign to me.

The summer and fall of 2014, I stood by and watched as state after state achieved marriage equality, while my state CONTINUES to maintain an almost pre-Stonewall attitude around this issue. And earlier this month, somehow my state granted the madman that is our governor the power of four more years to destroy our state. And don’t even ask me about what happened in the Senate.

Probably saddest, in October of 2014, I lost my father, my beloved Pop-pop, to a long and valiant battle with cancer. I lost Grammy (my mom) six years ago and, during the time since, my Dad and I had become closer than ever; in fact, it was like getting to know him all over again. I called Pop-pop every day. I miss him, and I miss my Mom. A lot. A well-intentioned friend called me an “orphan” upon finding out my Pop-pop had passed away. I am NOT an orphan. I have two AMAZING parents – they are just away from me now, for the time being. They are now two amazing guardian angels.

Those are just the “highlights” of 2104 for me but – you know what? The year has been pretty great to me as well…

While I closed my business, I embarked on not one but TWO new endeavors, one at a cherished public institution in my adopted hometown and one in a new design venture with a new partner who is, in fact, my husband. Both careers look bright and, while I am “starting on the ground floor” at both, good things are already happening at each. Two days ago, I got promoted at “my day job” and assumed a new position within the organization, a position that suggests career growth and a stable, secure future. As far as my new design venture goes, working with my life partner/husband is a joy and our new firm is already developing a following. Hooray!

Even though Ohio (my state) is in The Dark Ages as far as marriage equality goes, I am legally-married to my husband and we will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of his Green Card approval (that was a L-O-N-G journey/struggle, chronicled in many previous posts here on this blog). If it is possible, I think that guy loves me more every day – and I love him more, too. Eventually, Ohio will “see the light” and finally join the 21st Century with regard to LGBT rights and equality.

Finally, while I miss BOTH my parents every day, I am happy to know that they are reunited and happy. And contrary to what I feared, being “parent-less” has not left me feeling rudderless or adrift. Rather, I feel empowered and almost a bit reckless (but in a good way). The state of answering only to yourself for your actions (and your spouse, of course!) is actually a very liberating one. I like it. I miss Grammy and Pop-pop terribly but the freedom they have given me is a great, great gift.

So all in all, 2014? Maybe NOT so bad so far… Sure, heck – I hope 2015 will be even better but we still DO have almost a month of 2014 left. Who knows? It may still turn out to be the best year ever…

It’s funny. I was looking for a profound, “deep” quote about being thankful and ran across this sage advice from Oprah Winfrey herself. Who’da ever thought I’d be sharing inspiring Oprah quotes on my blog? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Oprah

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.

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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…