Nieces

10 07 2008

If you are wondering, which I’m sure you were, I think I have a low-burning ADD. My oldest niece has this as well. She turns 12 next week and I’m afraid she’s turning out a bit like me much to sister Homer’s dismay.

Oh, and she’s cuter.

She’s fallen in love with Tim Burton films. Now this makes me as happy as a clam. I’m sure we will have her into Akira Kurosawa films before long. And she loves horror movies. I got a keeper, campers.

Her friends think it’s odd, her love of pop culture, because I’ve gone through this too.

As a kid, about twice a month we’d head to Jackson and I’d get a couple of books usually about ufos and Bigfoot or the latest horror novel. I was obsessed. Thank goodness for a tolerant pseudo-hippie/70s disco mom.

As I got older, I like Star Trek, Buffy, anything Whedonverse, jazz music and the list goes on.

Asa is like me in a lot of ways. First it was The Nanny (I know, she was 5 and God knows, we wanted to kill ourselves every time we heard Fran Dresher’s voice), then it was Wicked. For two years we did Wicked a thousand times and now it’s Tim Burton.

She’s getting better in picking the cool.

She also reads politics and asked me recently why Jesse Helms didn’t like people. I did not prompt her with this remark. She also asks if her generation is going to have to pay for the last 8 years. I, once again, did not prompt her.

Good girl.

Glad I could be of help.

Oh, and Homer, sorry.

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Annoying Autobiographical Pause: Real

11 06 2008

My girls. The nieces.

Dammit if I don’t adore them

Yeah, mine. Or Homer’s rather.

I just borrow them.

Love is great.

The older one won’t let me take pictures, but there is this:

I like to call her Shecky.

Homer and Squeegee Monkey make some amazing children. I’m honored to be their Aunt Tick.

Having a family moment here. Bear with.





Mother’s Day Without A Mother

10 05 2008

There is always a time around Mother’s Day that Homer and I hit what I tend to call “the angries.”

It comes out of nowhere and is always a surprise. One of us, either her or myself, will recognize that we are pissed off collectively because there is no mother here.

And on another note, something you may not know, is Homer was born on Mother’s Day. This year, her birthday is Monday but youngest niece Bear’s is tomorrow.

I may be wrong but I think Mother’s Day is especially hard for Homer. More so because they had that bond of Homer being the Mother’s Day Blessing for my mother. Thinking about it makes me choke up a little bit. It was what my mother always said about my little sis and it was more than true.

We find ourselves on edge, reacting far more emotionally than we usually do. For those of you who haven’t lost your mom, it’s hard to describe how things creep up on you. Recently, I ate my Mom’s recommendation for comfort food.

I was tired, drowning under an increased workpile, feeling like I’m never going to get it all together, not enough time, trying to decide if I’m going to move forward in a blogging project I’m working on, alternating between fear and an in depth mania to sustain a schedule that I know will be difficult to keep at such a breakneck speed, and I needed to unwind and not feel anything for awhile.

I made my comfort food that she always made me when I was a kid and I was hit with a wave of grief that I cannot explain. I felt if I was drowning in my own soul missing her more than I could ever explain. There is no medication you can take for loss, no quick fix, if you will.

Ten years ago February, my mother died after a hard fight with cancer. Ten years ago Monday, Homer turned 30. Ten years ago, we could barely remember to breath. Ten years ago, we lost our best friend.

I am not alone but I find that only other people who have lost their mothers understand the black hole that we stare in during Mother’s Day. We have to find within ourselves that place where we can focus on the beauty of our relationships with our moms that molded us.

But some of us hit the angries. And when we get there, it’s always startling. It’s most surprising because we think we are over it.

You never get over it.

Never.





Annoying Autobiographical Pause #034

7 05 2008

Last night I went to a third grade concert where Bear sang songs with her class. It was adorably sweet (shut up) and I found myself quite smitten with the whole thing.

This may sound weird but it was very NPR-like. I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

I know, I’m a softie. As it is tournament time for high schools here in America, Squirrel Queen walked in as the festivities were ending but we got Bear flowers which her older sis gave to her.

There isn’t anything nicer than seeing a kid beam with pride of a job well done.

I sometimes watch their lives from the sidelines. It’s funny that all the kids at the school call me “Tick” but I’ve noticed they have dropped the Aunt part. (For those of you who don’t know, my oldest niece started calling me Tick when she was a baby because I tickled her. Thus, Aunt Tick was born.) The amazing thing to me is that the other kids picked that up as well. I am secretly pleased about this and love it when my peers will hear this endearment and look at me bewildered. Oh, it’s fun to have an in-joke with kids.)

They are getting older. So am I. As they spiral towards their tweens, I sometimes feel like an accessory with them. But I think that’s just part of it being an Aunt. I’m not a mom or a grandmom, and I’m still somewhat of a playtoy for them, and that’s more than all right. Right now I see Homer running herself ragged to keep them involved in school, sports and their community. She is not only teaching them to be part of the world around them, but she’s also creating opportunities for them to learn discipline, tolerance and responsibility.

I salute Moms. You guys have a hard job.

I’m going through a period of time where I’m very tired but oddly content with the world around me. To quote one of my favorite bloggers which I have done before, it is what it is. I’m learning at my advanced age that things have to grow organically and that rushing my life is self-destructive. Bills still have to be paid, dogs have to be fed, laundry has to be done, I still have to go to work but with all of that said, I’m thinking a bit more optimistically. As you know, it’s easy to fall into the cracks and let the bad stuff eat at your soul.

Early morning ponderings from Hooterville.





Today We Will Talk About Hope And The CaringBridge

28 02 2008

I’m not going to write about my mom today. I’ve done that before. Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of my mother. For me to go into any detail of this day, which is significant in the life of my family, I would just say it means a lot to us and I’m trying to figure out what to do on a personal level that would have some significance for myself about today. It’s a private thing that runs as deep as the Mississippi River. It’s hard to put those feelings into words.

To say I feel sort of lost and insignificant is an understatement.

momonthshelf.jpg

No, this morning, I want to talk about life and survival and one woman who I have so much respect and admiration for that it’s hard to put into words.

Read the rest of this entry »





Annoying Autobiographical Pause – Mother Edition

17 02 2008

Homer knows. Squirrel Queen knows. Big Daddy knows.

You see, this month is the anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s significant. We love and we lose.

We do.

And we remember. And if we don’t, shame on us.

She was named after a box of shoes that my grandmother saw on a box in Michigan during WWII. She didn’t have a middle name because my gram thought her name was long enough.

You know, I do this every year, and each year, it gets harder.

Dammit.

It will be a decade. February 28th.

I’m going to get this out of the way. On that day, I will have to drive into the country to stare at the fields and meadows she loved, then go to her grave and lay down flowers. She liked flowers, but maybe, this year, I will play Beethoven or John Coltrane there.

Will that comfort her?

No. It will only comfort me.

So, anyway, I want to tell you the story, one I might not have told, about her. She was a musician and she studied music. She studied theory and how music evolved. She loved Miles Davis better than anyone and thought he was the epitome of progressive transition in music where there wasn’t a blueprint. She loved that. She thought Gil Evans was a genius. She made Homer and I listen to the blues and then Mozart because we may have lived in Hooterville but we were going to know THESE things. We needed to appreciate all music or we would have gotten a hard stare. We needed to be open-minded. And, this wasn’t a request from her.

It was mandatory.

And I thank her.

She loved her kids, she loved her husband and she loved music. As a child, there was always a violin, a bass, a cello lying about the house in Hootervegas although she was a singer and a pianist but the instruments were there because she was always in school.

I have no musical ability. I wonder sometimes if that was disappointing to her. I did other things. She encouraged me. This, of course, is of the good.

She was really beautiful. She was a petite woman that was the unaffected beauty queen of the local town who was more interested in politics than chiffon in 1960 but she was living in a small town and women didn’t do politics as much back then. She hid in the shadows. Not because that those options weren’t there, they were, but it meant a fight with a bunch of societal crap. And it did. Don’t deny it. She opted out but taught us (Homer and I picked it up, Mom, so you did your job well.)

I think she always canceled my dad’s vote out. And she made me watch Watergate and anything she thought might form me. At ten, it drove me crazy. Today, I smile when I write ‘not so much.’

She talked about feminism when it wasn’t even conceived in small rural towns. Did she make mistakes? Yeah. Did she teach me how to be an equal. Don’t even doubt it because I know I am. You know she did.

And she taught Homer and I to think for ourselves.

She was so shy. Painfully shy to the point it took her breath away until she sang on stage or she was at home with her family. Man, this woman could smile and it washed over all of us but she hated being in a group of people which is weird for me because I can hang in a church basement or at a nudist colony. This ability of mine didn’t come from her, I assure you.

Her shyness was her enemy and her largest demon. In the day, it was being shy, now I’m sure there are 20 different clinical names for it.

With that said, she created her life in spite of it all. She sang, won a contest and performed with the Everly Brothers because of it (Mid-South Fair Talent Contest, LWC), met my dad over a hamburger, fell in love and started her journey. She was a bit vain, who isn’t, but remained beautiful and curious and incredibly in tune to the world around her. She kept her hair blonde, because Big Daddy liked it that way. And her eyes were so blue they were deeper than the color of the ocean. I see these eyes in my youngest niece, Chuck, who doesn’t even know. She never met Jacque, how would she know? So I have to tell her and show her pictures. That’s my job.

Jeez, this is always hard.

She was completely confounded by me. I wasn’t traditionally beautiful like she and Homer were. I was different. I was eccentric. And she honed that in me.

You know, she loved me anyway and taught me swagger.

She smelled like sunshine. Dammit if she didn’t.

Homer was the good kid who would whip your ass in five minutes although I think most people think I’m the tough one.

I’m not. It’s Homer.

I was the kid that walked the line but wanted to dive into the deep waves of rebellion and free-spiritedness which didn’t interest Homer but, dammit, it did me. (And it did for my mom because she told me this before she died. It’s an odd thing between us. I never knew that I was her free-spirited one in her eyes.) I wanted to know those depths. And I did, delving into things that probably weren’t good for me but I was ambitious and bright enough to not go too far into the dark although it beckoned me. It was dangerous and sexy and I wanted the passion of it all. She knew this about both of us. And she guided, taught and only stopped me when I went too far.

Sometimes we went too far. We had a safety net.

Her name was Jacqueline. Named after a box of shoes and I find that to be so very compelling and charming.
The night before she died, my friend Mark, who my blogger friends met on Wednesday night in Nashville, came and sat with me in the hospital at midnight that horrible evening. He came. You guys need to know this for reasons I can’t explain. He sat with me as I sat slumped against the ‘dying room’ at the local hospital against the wall in the bright, fluorescent hallway at midnight and he tried to convince me that it wasn’t as bad as I knew it was, and despite it all, I knew in my depths that she was dying.

She was leaving and there wasn’t anything I could do.

And he tried to help.

That, my friends, is why he’s my friend. Even when I disagree with him in public.

And he did my mother’s eulogy in a packed funeral home where all I did was smile at people who apparently needed more comforting that I did, I smiled and I talked of things that were wonderful. I gave a hug and I said it was going to be okay to strangers and friends alike.

I didn’t cry for two weeks. When I did, I didn’t move for three days.

This, my blogger friends, will happen once a year. This is a gift, and curse, I give to myself.

So, I raise my glass to the woman who gave up so much for me.

Allow me a moment… as this is my blog and isn’t this what blogs are for?

I’m allowed that.





No Style

13 02 2008

Sometimes, I’m such a girl. I’m packing for a conference I have to go to and I have warily been eyeballing my closet when it occurred to me that all I own are Crocs, jeans and a variety of T-shirts that have stupid sayings on them.

Of course, when I came into possession of said T-shirts, I though I was the most clever person alive. Last night, not so much.

My niece, the little one, is a fashionista and came to help me break down my lack-of-glamour predicament. She is eight. As she took belts and matched them with pants, she was definitely talking over my head. She also eyed the bright yellow Crocs and gave me a disapproving stinkeye saying they just “would not do.”

She also brought me a curling iron and asked me if I knew how to use it. Whaaa?!!?

Umm, the answer would be no.

Tim Gunn, where are you when I need you? And, I got a kid that you might want to hire.

Just saying.