Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lots to write and post here,,,,,but

I cannot post this in or/on my general blog. And, yet, even here, I cannot elaborate right now. Hard and strange for me. . .a woman that elaborates and shares in most cases, TOO much!

But, I ask YOU? Pray for my oldestson Sean. Pray for New Beginings. Health. Insight. Pray that he chooses a better path. A future. Pray that he understands he is LOVED.

And, I hope and pray as well. He's been a lost young soul for so long. I want him to grow,,,seek NEW paths and direction. Please pray that he doesn't lose sight ,,,,,,,

His course, at last, seems changed,,,,,,,a new life? A New beginning? I hope he is given HOPE above all,,,,,,,in his journey!

Thank you SO much for your thoughts And Prayers,,,,,I know this is as bit vague,,but Sean needs us all in his journey~

Hugs and LOVE for your support and prayers!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Birth(day) Reminder of my Andrew,,,,,,A Funny and some unexpected love.....


I know I haven't posted here for quite a while! But yesterday marked a milestone,,one I'll never forget for SEVERAL reasons, and I wanted to write about it.

My Son Andrew, my baby turned 26 yesterday! Where did the time go? But I'm going to tell you about the night,actually early morning hours, when Andrew entered this world!

Just so you get the whole picture. I have TWO sons. They are about 3 1/2 years apart. I was induced with Sean,,,,because my water broke; that's what "they did", back then. Your water breaks, they give you drugs to start labor.

Well, I'll go back to my story of Andrew's birth in a minute, but first you have to know. Sean, my FIRST had problems. They induced me and I went into labor so fast, he "shot" through the birth canal quickly. (Did the damn doc have a golf game scheduled,so let's get this "SHOW on the road?)
I LATER learned that this, the inducement can cause respitory distress. And Sean had it. He was the HUGE baby.....9-14oz and he was in an incubator for DAYS before he got to come home. When they induce you,,,the fluids in their lungs don't get naturally expelled.
Sean's birth was a trama. For him, for me...seeing this beautiful, healthy, baby being tested, pricked, and me not being able to hold him for quite some time, only to them returning him to the isolet in intensive care. It was a nightmare.......

So,,,,preggers with Andy? I was DUE August 1st. And I absolutely SWORE, I would NOT put THIS baby through inducing when I was late. I kept going to my OB/GYN in those weeks and he would say, "Any time now." But, Andrew (his sex, unbeknownst to me at the time, because THEN we didn't KNOW the sex of our babies in those days, but it was the name that came to me in a dream) Andrew, wasn't "ready"

I did NOT want to be induced. I was adament. My doc said,,,,"Okay, I'm on call for the weekend (which ended on the eve of 19th) and if you don't have him by THEN,,,,,we NEED to/have to induce you! I was 18 days late!!!

(I had NO contractions with Sean. As stated,was induced, if you recall, because my water broke. SO.......When, the eve before I was supposed to be induced I woke up having pains and called my doc and said, " I'm not sure if these sharp pains are contractions or not,,,,but they are about 3 minutes apart. And my doc said, "Get IN HERE NOW!"

Well fine, But I was separated from my husband. And although he'd been staying with me for weeks, he had his friends annual Golf tournament going on ,,,,,,and he'd left me for it and the party to follow. So, I was alone.

My mom and my wonderful, wonderful, soft spoken former Bostonian step dad Bob, lived close by. I called them. They came over and my mom stayed with the 3+ Sean and Bob, 70 something,was to drive me to the Hospital. He-was on a mission. His Job? Get me to the Hospital because, well, I couldn't get ahold of my then, husband.

So, here is Shell, having contractions by this point a couple of minutes apart and headed to the Hospital I'd selected once again,,,,,some 30 miles away. "Grandpa Bob" drove steadfastly toward the underbelly of Seattle to deliver me to the Hospital.. .

Moi? Well, like I told my friend Maggie a while back while she was going through an emergency? I Chatted like a Magpie! Made small jokes or references. I would have the contraction from HELL and hold my breath/work tthrough it in silence and THEN continue my mundane conversation with Bob. For heavens sakes, he was driving me 30 some miles in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and I was ready to give birth and was just concentrating on GETTING SHELL there!

Well? We made it! He didn't have to deliver a baby on the side of Interstate 5-the freeway that runs from Canada to Mexico! He'd DONE it!
He pulled into the Emergency entrance and I FLEW out of the car...and he, sitting in the driver's seat said,,,,,,,,and this is one of the cutest, most befuddled sentences I have ever heard in my WHOLE life! Think Boston, think "Pak your Cah" ,,,,,,,,,,,and Bob, the dear dear that I had come to know and love, the man that made my mother laugh, and smile and hold hands SAID, "Well....We gotya Heyah" (Translation for those not familiar with a Bostonian accent, "Well, we got you here!" ) At which point, after I had grabbed my overnight case off the back seat, HE DROVE AWAY!

Stunned? Flabergasted? Overwhelmed? Oh YEAH! I'm left standing by the curb of the hospital ready to give birth and he, my ROCK, DRIVES off!

Fortunately, I'd called a dear, old school friend who lived close to the hospital prior to leaving my home,,,,and she was there to great me in the emergency lobby.

Andrew was born 90 minutes from when I had placed the call to my doc!I was whisked in and although they gave me drugs,,,they didn't take, TOO FAST of a delivery!

I STILL, to this day,, laugh and smile about being "left at the curb." But in the aftermath? Bob,,,,,,,a working man all his life, was never part of his own Grandkid's births. He'd had a mission,,,,,get me to the hospital, which he did, and he did well. His job was Done!

Oh, my lovely, dear step-dad Bob. He loved and nurtured my kids SO! He finally was at a time of his life when he could relax,,,and just spend time,,,with the little ones. Sean and Andy were not "his." But you'd never kknow- he did everything for those kids! Including building them a playroom in "this old house" which recently became my Art/Craft Studio.

I KNOW how much he meant to my boys. I KNOW how much he meant to my mother...their "Autumn" of their lives relationship was something TRULY special. And, I loved him dearly. Mom and he are both "gone" now. From this earthly plane.

But, whenever I think about Andrews BIRTHday...I think of OUR beloved Bob. Grandpa to a fault. Companion, friend, business partner, lover (oh MY, how they giggled and squeezed hands and winked at each other! I'm SO glad we all had you in our Lives,,,our family!

Love comes from unexpected places some time! "Well, we gotya Heyha" Yes, you Did!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

I don't generally post here this often, but today....Remembering Patrick..

Today, was truly, a "Flash from the Past."

An old high school friend, Manuella,,,or "Ella," as she goes by now,stopped into Joyworks today. She had a bunch of HER old high School friends(a class below me) in tow. Manuella and I always seem to tear up..thinking of our dear,mutual Friend. Manuella and I were never close,,,,but we will always have a link: our dear friend, my dear, dear,friend Patrick.

Patrick and I became friends our Sophmore year of High School. Oh my Lord, he was SO funny! He had this energy and vibe that just made you love him and want to be around him! We'd get into trouble going to football games and running around in his little Datsun (Nissan for anyone under 35).
Patrick was the guy you hung out with when your weren't dating, didn't have a steady.....he was the best "guy bud" you could EVER have!

We double "dated" for our Junior Prom.....He went with my friend Tony and I went with a preacher's kid,,Rick. We had a great time. Laughter was always the focal point!

Dates aside, we'd go Snow skiing, or to a movie, or go grab a pizza. Oh my lord, he made me laugh till my sides ached! I remember one time when we "played" 'Lost a Contact' in a swanky Store,,,,,,we had all the staff and customers looking for a contact that I supposedly "lost" only I didn't.....Or,,other times, we'd pull up next to cars at intersections and make bizarre faces at the drivers/passengers and drive off. Juvenile? Yep! But we had a Ball!

I lost track of Patrick after his Marriage right out of High School. He married a gal a class "under" us (whom I saw again after many years),,,,they had a huge double wedding with his bride's sister and groom.......About a year later, they were divorced.

Patrick worked for some lucrative Sportswear companies in Seattle and eventually became the Head Administrator (and first Major Stock Holder)for "Cutter and Buck." A very high end line of Golf clothing-which is still growing and going strong.

But, for years, we'd lost track of each other until a mutual High School Friend, Bonnie, married for the first time, late,,,,,in her late 30's and Patrick and I were re-united after many years-it was like we'd never been apart! We rekindled our friendship fast,I was SO glad to have him back in my life!

After a couple of years of lots of phone calls and occaissional get together's /dinners with my sons and mutual friends, I had him to my home one evening. Just the two of us-my boys were elsewhere and no other friends in attendence. Ironically, I'd been watching a Tom Hanks movie as I was preparing dinner......the one where Tom Hanks discover's he has Aids......as the movie was ending, and I was waiting for Patrick, I was crying my eyes out...

Pat arrived, as usual, bring flowers and dessert or a bottle of wine and I explained WHY I was crying. Apparently it was the perfect opportunity for a Talk between old friends.. .

Patrick told me that night, he was gay. I was the "first" out of his Seattle Circle that he felt comfortable enough telling. He told me he'd been "fighting it" and battling it for years-since he was a young child, actully. He was afraid to tell those he loved. And, He spoke of anxiety and panic attacks,fear of alienation,,,,and he asked me, "Didn't you ever think I was gay?"

My response was,,,"You were MY Patrick. I just loved you for who you were." And frankly, his sexual orientation had never crossed my mind. I loved him. And, loved his parents, who'd also been extended family to me since I was 15 years old.

He shared his internal battle for years...making fun of another classmate who seemed to be "different"-although he always sensed he was more like this classmate than anyone else. Denying his sexuality to himself, to the point of getting married-right out of High School. Hiding from his friends, his family for years. And when, finally opening up about his sexuality being estranged from his parents. I think THAT was the hardest.......for he was SO close to them and it hurt him so that they could not, would not accept who he was.

That evening,when he told me, I was dumbfounded, but all I could say was that I loved him. It hurt me too, that he and his parents were no longer close. And knowing them, I thought that as a hetero parent my biggest concern for my son would be AIDS,,,,,and the potential for losing my child. For the potential Stigma,,,,,and for his long term happiness. All I could say is that I KNEW his parents loved him and eventually I thought they would come around.

Well,,,here, I've got to say that Patrick had ONE truly great love in his life. When it ended, it darn near broke him. He was a monogamous gay man.
He got tested regularly-even though he had ONE partner. His sister came "around" to support him first-and, after he was diagnosed..his parents eventually accepted his lifestyle and sexuality.From the night he told me,,,,I still, could only LOVE him....he was "my Patrick."

So funny,,,,and the only person I knew that had more clothes in his closet than I! He loved my boys,,,,All his friends-gay or straight! Oh, how happy I am that we had that time,,,,,those years together again!

Then, one day, I had Patrick to dinner with the dear mutual friend of ours -the one that had "reconnected us through her wedding and had known him since Grade School. Patrick told us both,that night at dinner he had ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease.
He was optimistic. He had one of the top 3 docs in the Country,,,,,and this doc's patients had lived for many years with the disease.

My Dear, dear Patrick, had the worst form of the disease. He was diagnosed in the Fall and was gone a mere year later. Prior to that I visited him often/ and he travelled. He visited Europe with the help of some of his newer guy friends-who navigated him around in a wheelchair. He took another classmate and neices and nephews on a cruise and to Disneyland. He lived that last year of his life to the utmost.

Today, I lived our memories and our times together again over and over again. I shared memories and tears with his wife of ONE year-who came to understand him for WHO and what he was,,,,who didn't understand at the time why it didn't work, but still loves him, in a different way now.

These former classmates reminded me that Patrick will ALWAYS be a part of my life, of who I am,,,,who I aspire to be! To laugh, oh my,,,did we laugh!
To appreciate,,,,I'll always appreciate who he was and what he meant to me!

Honestly? I teared up today,,,,because he is no longer with me,,,,,but I think of all the fun, the laughs, the antics and I KNOW that is WHY he was in my life. I KNOW that is what he would want me to share with YOU!!! Laugh today! Live it well! And Live your life the best way you can!!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts Tomorrow with "My Karl"

I've been pondering the Rain for days. I cannot understand how it just keeps dropping buckets. I have looked back and tried to remember when it has rained SO much in May,,in June. Oh yes, the year 1994, when Karl and I were married. . .

But, I'm going to backtrack. Karl never visited "Willowbrook Lane." I was out on my own, just 21, having returned to Washington State after working as an Assistant Buyer for Nordstrom in Costa Mesa, California. It was a lucractive Job, but I missed my family, my friends and yes, even the rain.

I moved back to Washington,,,,,,and lived a short time with my newly divorced Mother in her new home. It was weird. Moving back, living once again with my mom after leaving home at 17. ( I lived in an apartment that she and my "dad" owned while I finished my Senior High School year.)

I took a job in cosmetics at the "Bon Marche" (Now, part of the Macy's Chain) and I worked part time in a friends Tavern.....Oh my Lord! The Tavern was ajacent to Pulp and Lumber Mills in Everett. The clientele was primarily laborers,,,,,but it was fun, and I was young. I met locals there.

One afternoon, this handsome young man came in with a guy I worked with. They'd been sailing. I looked at this friend, this sailor and my heart skipped a beat. He was lean and tan and had touseled blonde hair that fell into gentle, short ringlets. His eyes were the deepest blue I'd ever seen and his lashes were long, curly and dark. His lips,,,,truly? Were full and pouty and his smile captured my soul. I HAD to Know this man.

And, Man he was,,,as I shortly learned. Not the typical guy I'd dated or knew. He was a father, he was a business partner/owner. He drove a fast red sportscar. He was NOT the typical date/manchild that I was familiar with.

From the onset he explained he was separated. He and his wife met in High School. Married shortly therafter and had two kids. His kids were his world,when he first showed me their pictures, he teared up. And frankly, he told me early on that if he and his "wife" could work things out,,,,,,,he'd go back, to her. I said I understood. And I was young, and he WANTED to be young again and sometimes I saw the pain in his eyes, his face, as he dealt with the deamons of guilt from being away from his young children.

As our relationship grew, I learned he initially grew up in a "normal family." His dad was an Engineer with Boeing. His mother, had a Master's Degree in Literature from Purdue. They were educated and lived the "average American Dream." Karl was their only child. And, Karl's knowledge was diverse and although he was not formally educated, he was very intelligent.

Here,in recalling info on his childhood, I'll never know WHAT came first, but Karl's dad announced one day that he was giving up Engineering at Boeing and was moving to New Zealand to buy a Sheep Ranch, leaving Karl and his mother behing. Karl's Mom, developed early onset Alzheimer's..and shortly thereafter had to live in a Convalescent Home.

Karl was about 10 when all this happened. As an only child, with no nearby relatives to help, he was sent to live in Foster Homes. I'm going to be pefectly candid here. Karl was abused physically, emotionally and sexually when he entered the Foster care system. He eventually shared with me that the sexual abuse came from none other than the HEAD of the County Foster Care Program.

Fortunately, he eventually ended up living with a man and women unable to have children of their own that raised him to adulthood, nutured and encouraged him. He was advised by them to attend Law School, Medical School and the likes. But,he'd connected with his first love in high school, (compensating for his parents dissapearance?) and their young family started shortly there after

He was very intelligent but saw fit to go into his NEW family business-industrial linen cleaning. Karl worked with his Foster Dad/Partner building sucessful cleaning business in laundry/uniforms/linens.When we first met/connected he was successful/driven and focused on his young children.

But Karl also loved to Sail. He had a sailboat he'd named after his gorgeous daughter, The "Brianna Marie." I still have the lifesaver from that first boat. And, he loved to Dive and he'd bring in a "catch" of Crab or fish for us to eat. We'd met at the beginning of Summer and we'd spend days with friends or his young children,,,,,,then 3 and 4. "Bri and "Digger"-Brianna and his son Adrienne. To say that they were beautiful is an understatement. I fell in Love with both of them.........I wanted, truly wanted some of my own.

Inadvertantly, one day, Karl introduced me to the man that would become my husband, and Father to my two boys, now 25 and 29. But prior to that, Karl and I had a Summer and Fall to remember, to cherish and then one day-he told me he HAD to go back to his wife and try again; to work things out; for the kids. I was 21 years old. I cried and smiled and wished him well. I knew that the time we shared was REAL and special,,,,,but there were other "things" in our future...Little did I know then....

I eventually married the man that Karl had introduced me to. We had two boys,,,and after just 4 years of marriage I ended it. His drug use was apparently more important than family and marriage. I dated a bit, casually, but basically spent 13 years with the help of my parents raising my two boys.

Career changes; I was working in advertising and promotional events. I WAS dating,,,,a man quite a bit younger than me, but it was fun and easy. And,,,,,,,as Fate would have it, I reconnected with Karl. He was a photographer now. We had lunch. I told him I was dating. He'd been single for years. He'd become a pilot along with the photography. Did I want to go Flying??? He'd leave messages with my secretary......"Going Flying, want to come?" "No, I'm seeing someone else."

My secretary became my "social secretary." I put Karl off more times than I can imagine. And all the time thinking,,,,,,,,,If I give in,,,,"THIS IS IT!"

Well, yeah, "This was it." I stopped saying no. I fell, again, head over heels. He'd swoop me off in his airplanes or spend time with my then young/eager/vulnerable boys that were dying to have a man in their jaded lives and I FELL....I mean I fell HARD!

And he did too. I remember sitting with him on my front porch when everything was still very "proper" and light and him turning to me and saying " IS THIS REAL?" >"Are YOU REAL??"

One weekend he flew me off in a plane no bigger than a glorified pop can to San Juan Island and he proposed. No question in my mind.

Tomorrow, would have been our 16th wedding Anniversay, had he not died of a cerebral hemmorage as the result of a car accident on Sept 17th, 1994.

Sometimes, I think "what if." I think of him all the time and his wit, his passions, his knowledge. He could quote poets and fix anything. He was a devoted father and stepfather. His last words to me on his Cell were "I love you."

Yeah,,,,it's rainy and it makes me think that the sun broke the afternoon of our wedding. Happy Anniversary my dear, my loving, my adventurous Karl,,,,I imagine your tearing up the Heavens looking for the newest, the latest! (Smile) I'll see you again someday!!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

A weekend with Mary

"My" Mary-

And who should arrive on Willowbrook Lane one day in my brother Ross's suped up cherry red '57 Chevy? A Girl! Well not such a big deal for a teenager to bring a girl home, but then you don't know my brother. In my entire 8 years of life, I'd never seen my brother with a girl, only with a car or a fishing rod.

Apparently, this cute, blonde teenager packed car manuals around the High School until my brother took notice. And notice he did! So one day, he brought her home for dinner.

Sidebar here. My stepdad (or dad as I knew him) grew up in the depression. I'm talking on some dustbowl of a farm in Montana where they darn near starved to death. I truly think he joined the Navy at 17 to ward off starvation, based on the pictures I saw of him. That said, my dad loved to cook and let me tell you, he'd cook (and eat) darn near anything.

Now mind you, I only know this portion of her first visit based on her recollection and it's a wonder she didn't fly out the door that first night! But Mary says that after being introduced to my parents, she commented that something smelled wonderful at which point my dad took her over to the stove and showed her the beef tongue he was cooking. Well, geesh, why didn't he pull out the pickled pigs feet while he was at it!!

To say that Mary has now been part of my family and in my life since I was 9 years old says a lot about her character. Beyond the car manuels that she halled around, she also took up fishing, diving, HUNTING and well, put up with the rest of our family.

In 1965 when my brother flunked out of college the first time (he hated engineering) he was immediately 1-A in the draft. (For anyone under 40 that means first to go to Viet Nam, essentially.) Mary wanted to get married, but Ross wanted to wait until he was out of the service. And wait they did.

I remember after his basic training in Fort Polk LA, he was stationed back up here near Tacoma at Fort Lewis for a short period of time before shipping off to Vietnam. We went to Woolworth's and bought Mary a "Wedding Band" so we could sneak her on base to see Ross. I was 10 years old, it all seemed so secretive and scarey to me. Especially when we arrived on base to see the soldiers on the other side of a chain link fence that seemed a mile high! I swore if we "got caught" getting Mary inside, they'd lock us in the fence and we'd never get out.

I supposed they didn't pay too much attention as my mother had Military ID since my dad was a retired Naval officer. That was the first time I cried seeing my brother and knowing he was going off to war, he was SO skinny!

Mary got a job with GTE, the now defunked telephone company, in Seattle. Although "Willowbrook Lane" was just a (then) 20 minute drive away, it all seemed so cosmopolitan to me. She lived in an apartment with a view of the space needle. She wrote to Ross almost every day and called my mom regularly.

Mary was also a great "Big Sister." She'd take me shopping with her and I'd feel so grown up. In years to follow she'd be with me when I bought my first lipstick, headed together to the jewelers to have our ears pierced, give me her old '45's when she'd earned enough to buy her own "Hi-Fi"-not to mention tell her when I was around 20 that I was on the "Pill" .
"Shelly Louise!"

But meanwhile, we all counted days between letters and "Leaves" allowing Ross to come home. It all came back to me when Andrew was in Iraq. I truly learned first hand what my mother was going through. It was the only time in my life I can really remember my mother crying. I'd wake up in the night to hear her gentle sobs and sniffs and learned that my strong and capable mother was vulnerable too. She was also in the throes of menopause, and although I only witnessed the sudden skin flushes and perspiration then, I understand it well now. I too, started menopause with Andrew in Iraq.

Hormones aside, my brother eventually made it home safe and sound. He never spoke of his time in Viet Nam really, until speaking with Andrew before heading into the Marines. Three medals were mailed home to our home on Willobrook-2 bronze stars and a silver medal. Letters from the Army stated bravery under fire and rescuing fellow officers. Ross was much more concerned about "his girl" and going fishing than medals.

A huge Catholic wedding shortly ensued. Mary dubbed me a "Junior" bridesmaid and I donned my first formal dress and hairdo (closer to God-do you might say) at the age of 11. Their honeymoon consisted of a trip to the San Juan Islands, complete with,,,well, fishing poles! I remember Mary relating getting stung on the bum while sitting on a piece of driftwood at the beach. No metaphor there.....

Ross then re-enrolled in college, starting this time at the Community College instead of the University of Washington. Mary left her job as an "operator" at GTE and went to work for the fast growing Boeing in Everett. They managed apartments for my parents and Ross actually restored car parts and raised aquarium fish for extra monies.

This time, Ross focused his academic energies in Biology, and moved on to the U of W to get his BA,MA and eventually his Phd. He got straight A's all the way through. He went on to work for the Washington State legislature for many years.

They're retired now and live in Port Angeles on the Penninsula with a 300+ degree view of the Sound and Victoria BC is just across the straight. They're grandparents to two gorgeous kids and their son Brodie has worked his way up the Fisheries department. "Grandma and Grandpa" have the grandkids visit often and Connor, the eldest is showing a preference for hunting over fishing, which gets his Grandpa's dander up.

Ross and Mary still have an ongoing love story after all these years, although in so many ways they are different as night and day. Mary is social, my brother reserved. My brother would rather be sitting in a boat drinking out of a thermos than sipping tea out of a china cup. They're some of the lucky ones that grew up together and it's worked. I think both having great senses of humor has helped.

Mary still goes fishing with Ross from time to time, but she loves to go antiquing and has a gorgeous home. We're becoming closer as our families have grown up and our parents gone. I've grown up with Mary and I can't imagine how different my life would have been without the perky little blonde arriving on Willowbrook Lane.

So,,,,this weekend we hit the road,,shop, laugh and "ooh and ahh" and I'm sure there will be one or two antics or stories from the past...

I hope you're creating some new memories this week!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day,,,,a reflection

I haven't posted here for a while, obviously. Most of my posts here have been reflective of my childhood,,,,and, I guess, what has made "me" who I am. And hopefully make you remember/laugh and reflect! I guess tonight's post is a bit more "journaling" and delete or come back for a "happier" posts if you are so inclined..........

Tomorrow is Mother's Day,,,,,and to me, as of late is a time of reflection about who I AM as a Mother, a daughter, and ,,,,,who I "was" as a Grandmother. ....

I learned of family "secrets" early on- as a teen who found out I was adopted and the man I THOUGHT was my bio dad wasn't. I shared that story and how that affected and influenced me. The GOOD and the unreal...not so much the bad. . . as I had a happy childhood!

So, fast foward. And, I'm going to be perfectly candid here, because well, that's all I can be, and there is a handfull or so of you that even follow this blog......This is my reflection on my current journey, my insights and I appreciate it if you read it,,,follow, but if you aren't interested that's okay too!

As stated, tomorrow is Mother's Day. I have two sons. My youngest, a former Marine served two tours in Iraq. We are close...very close. Always have been, although he's a bit "flighty" and very impatient since his tours through the war and I often think he needs some post war counseling,,,He works part time and is back in College full time. He lives with a "roomie" in the little cottage behind me. He's my best friend,,,,,but the war/service has left effects on him that I hope will level out, in time. But Andrew is loving and creative. I think eventually it will all fall into place for him.

I have an older son, one I don't talk about too often. Which makes me sad/embarrased, but I've come to terms with. My eldest, Sean, is a Heroine addict. There. I said it. He's living in the Bay area in CA now and MAY be off the "hard stuff" living in a "CLEAN and SOBER" house....This is a long long long story,,,,,,that of Sean. And frankly I can't muster the emotional energy to tell it all right now..... This whole "battle" has been going on for years.

Suffice it to say,as of late,,he was involved for YEARS with a smart, loving, woman -Jessica, who eventually became pregnant after their off and on relationships of 3-4 years. And,this was just prior to Andrew, son above, shipping off for his first tour in Iraq. I loved Jessica from the onset of meeting her,the pending "Grandchild" was my rock and strength for the future........ I could endure Andy's Iraq tour learning that I had a grandbaby on the way!

I visited them the week the Emma- "my grandbaby" was born, in Northern California. I laughed/cried, held, gained strength from this beautiful baby. Again, I knew life was sacred, special and enduring through this child.

For 3 years, Emma was my strength and hope of the future. They visited/I visited......She was my "Ems" and I could not love her more. And, I was so Happy that my son, albeit job "challenged," appeared, finally grounded. He WAS a great dad to Emma,,,,,albeit untraditional. he'd clean her/feed her/ play with her-She was HIS joy,,,,and mine too!

And then,some time later,, mere days before my mother died, I found out Emma was NOT Sean's. I got the test results-they were sent here, to me. I had to call my son with the news. And at least HE had an inkling......he KNEW Emma could possibly not be his. But I was clueless prior to this... And, I spoke to my mom, just a couple of days before she died and we agreed,,,,,,"It doesn't matter,,,,,we still love her." She's "Still" "ours".

But she wasn't........My mom passed that week. And I told my son, and Emma's mom it didn't matter.....but she too, was "taken" from me. My promise/my future. I "Lost" my mom and my "Em" in the same week. My beginning/my foundation AND my newfound hope/love for the future.

So, tonight, I really really really miss my mom! I "talk to her" and ask her for her insight/support. And,,,,I really really really miss MY Ems.......I loved her so and she's basically not a part of my life anymore.

My oldest Sean? He's 29 now. I hope to God that he figures it all out one day.........He's SUPPOSED to be clean and sober.....but he kind of chuckled recently, when I asked him about the "clean and sober house" he was living in. It just breaks my heart as a mom. He HAS a good heart, he HAS opportunity to STILL come back home or go to some culinary school and learn a living he's expressed a desire for!

We can hope/pray that our kids figure it out.....whatever it is. I just want him to have a healthy and happy life.

And, I wish that for Andrew too, although doing better, he's still got visions of war/bombs chaos and anarchy to deal with,,,,,,,

Lord knows, I tried the BEST with both these boys. I love them so. I miss my "Grandaughter" and wish her and her mother the Best.

This is NOT a very uplifting post.......sorry. Just a time of reflection, I guess. You can ignore/delete this post or blog, I'll understand!

I truly WILL get back to nostalgic posts of my childhood,, I guess just a lot on the mind as of late!

Hugs to all....those that ARE mothers/Grandmothers, those that loved mothers/Grandmothers! I guess in some respect, that includes ALL~~~


Friday, February 26, 2010

In Retrospect, My Oma

I'm going to return shortly to the tales of life on "Willowbrook Lane" and my pleasant childhood memories, but after posting a bit about my mother, I wanted to backtrack a bit, to my Oma, or Grandmother if you will.

She was and still remains the most remarkable person in my life. I loved my mother with all my heart, she was my best friend, but my Oma? She was incredible. I think you need a glimpse at her!

Again,I can only tell you some of her story as I have heard it told. From her and others in my family and then, my own personal recollections of the woman she came to be. Her life and her adventures are incredible to me, and I dare think, worth the sharing.

My Oma, born Emma, Johanna,Jacoba,Kranennburg, had more middle names than I can recall- which was common of aristrocats of Dutch Society. And born of Dutch aristrocrats, she was. Born in the 1800's- Her father was a Dutch Merchant, shipping goods from South America and the Dutch Indies to Holland. She had several illustrious Uncles,,,,one an astronomer appointed to the Queen of Holland (whom named a star in honor of his neice,,,,very rare, given the times and telescopes to peruse the heavens). Another, was a member of the Dutch Parliment who coronated the Queen. Both are listed in "Who's Who" for the record. And yet another, who was also a Merchant, buying/selling trading in the Indies and South America. And her sister, Tante' Betsey.

Emma's mother,in her day, (my Great Grandmother),would often travel to Paris and peruse the latest fashions of the courture,,,,,and then go home and make them. (I'd like to think that is where I got my ability to sew and design clothing, although I haven't done it in years!)

When Emma was in her teens, her father had a large ship returning from the Indies sink, carrying his cargo to the bottom of the sea. This was a major loss for him financially, socially and emotionally, for he had not done as well in business investments or as in his financial life as his male siblings. Emma's father, my Great grandfather, took his own life from financial ruin.

In those, her adolescent years, Emma left her home and helped her Uncle Corneilius's children as they ventured to live in Johannesburg ( South Africa), Montevideo (South America),and the Dutch Indies (Indonesia). While I was growing up, she'd tell me of tremendous storms-blowing huge tarauntialla's out of the trees onto the beaches and she and the other women would go out when the storm's subsided and stick them/kill them with their large hat pins.

Upon returning to Europe, after her adventures, she met my German Grandfather at a Yachting Resort/Inn on the Rhine, she could speak 5 languages and had had great travels throughout the world, given the era, and of course, all, remarkable for a woman.

And later, after their marriage and immigration to the US, as formerly mentioned, she muddled through English in her 40's to get them cross country to Washington State, with their children and to start a new life.

Shortly thereafter, during WWII, her youngest brother Fritz, with his wife and children were being held by the Japanese in a prison of war camp in Indonesia. (All the Dutch were taken prisoner.)And, they recieved news of her sister Betsey and her Mother, being killed in a bombing in Germany.

So, my Oma, sat vigil in Washington State, mom and sister,killed, her brother and family Japanese prisoners of war, and she strengthened her backbone all the more, and raised her family and loved her husband to a fault. She looked toward the future once again! Emma,my Oma, never looked back,,she always lived in the moment or cast her eyes towards a newer and brighter future! (I'd like to think I learned that from her!)

Life on the farm was hard for her. She'd been raised and tended by servants and all of a sudden, SHE was the help. Her educated husband was the help. Her immigrant children although deemed extremely intelligent, had the language, the cultural and even religious hurdles to overcome.

My mother as a child would become exasperated with her because she would do things that just didn't make sense. Throwing the wash or dishwater out in front of the house,,,,,,only to have the mud tracked in. Having heirlooms delivered from Germany and Holland into a house with no ammenities.

But my Oma was a survivor. She overcame SO much. The immigration, leaving her social and economic status. She and my "Poppy Karl" her life love, persevered it all.

My Grandmother outlived my Grandfather by some 20 years. She lived to be 98. She gave meaning to the term "chocoholic" and she'd walk for miles into her 90's, partially because she never learned how to drive. She'd knit her own clothes and and always wore bright hats and clothing.She was a "trendsetter." Long before the poem or addage, "When I grow old I shall wear purple." You could see my Oma from quite the distance. She walked tall, erect and with style!

One of the biggest things I learned from her was living in the moment. She never looked back, as many older people do. She didn't LIKE old people and their old fashioned ideas.

More than anything? It was her zest for life! She had a great sense of humor, that live in the moment, forget your yesterday's attitude! We can all take a page or two from that! Thanks Oma! You were the best!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Mom,,,,,, and my identity

My German Grandfather and Dutch Grandmother decided there was going to be another War in Germany. Given the political unrest and economy they decided to leave.

Can you even begin to fathom packing up your children and moving across the world in your 40's? Not to mention barely speaking the language, although my Grandmother spoke 6 languages. Not to mention leaving the little village in Germany that had been "home" for 100's of recorded years!

But leave they did. My Mother turned 13 on the boat coming over to Ellis Island. They didn't travel in first class passage, but fortunately not steerage either. (Think Leo, in Titanic). They brought the few necessities, and for some reason my Grandmother had to bring a guitar...I don't think she even played it. In retrospect, my mother thought that was just plain foolish.

My grandmother managed to find the train upon arrival, heading for Washington State. For you see, Wenatchee, in Eastern Washington had been promoting their agricultural pursuits throughout Germany. My Grandfather was somewhat of a Gentleman farmer in his small town, having orchards and vineyards adjacent to their HUGE (ugly my mom said) house on the Rhine.

In Germany they had household help. When they arrived in Wenatchee my Grandmother took in ironing and my Mom, her brother and sister picked crops. Upon arrival they lived in a little shack in an apple orchard. Amazing.

But my Grandfather had brought money to purchase land, after, of course, the Germans had taken their large share of it in order for them to leave the country. This is a long story, but I thought appropro to at least give you an idea as to where and what my mother experienced as a child. To say that she succeeded in this life would be an understatement. She took great pride in her family-her mom and dad of course, for all they did and the sacrifices.

Upon graduation, mom headed for (as the story goes with one suitcase that held two dresses she had made herself)Seattle and college at the University of Washington. While attending classes she lived with a Jewish family on Lake Washington and served as Nanny and assistant cook. Rather ironic relationship given the times, but mom loved the family and kept in touch with them for years.

Eventually, she decided to take secretarial classes as well, giving her a more mainstream lead into the professional world. ("A secretary can always get a job.") She then moved to San Francisco and worked for various companies as an executive secretary in most cases.

Mom even worked for I. Magnin for a while, "the" high-end clothing store of it's day. She said it was the worst paying job she ever had! But I have wonderful photos of her in her stylish hats/gloves and suits. Mom was a "looker."

Shortly thereafter, she met and married her first husband. Gerald was an up and coming CPA in the Bay Area. The "up and coming" part required long hours, tight purse strings with the exception of things that would show clients his prosperity.

Mom didn't have a refridgerator, but she had a fur coat. They lived in a tiny little apartment, but Gerald made sure they both wore fine watches and clothing. All about the appearances.

She continued to work in the family business as allowed after giving birth to my brother Ross. My mother loved Gerald to a fault, but it seemed like something in him shattered upon the birth of his son. He started working more and more and was home less and less. Gerald may haved been deemed the original workaholic. Eventually, he never came home at all. By the time my brother was 9 years old, they divorced. She soon moved to Southern California to mend her broken heart.

Then came Jim Flanigan, and then came I.

My mother met my father at a rare outing attended with girlfriends near Long Beach California. To say that my father was handsome is an understatment. And, apparently a charmer and smitten with my mother. They began seeing each other as time and his military schedule would allow. At this time my mother was 39 years old and had a 9 year old son.

Jim was in the Air Force and worked with SAC-Strategic Air Command. When he wasn't close by he'd send her telegrams with weird security hashmarks and he'd promise her the world.

And then she was pregnant. And Jim would write-promises of money, promises of visits, promises promises promises. And so, given the uncertainties of their relationship, she moved back up to Seattle.

Jim proposed, but my mother sensed that it wouldn't work. His charm and good looks only got him so far and she decided that he just wasn't marriage material.

By this point, mom settled in near her Sister Ingrid by Sea-Tac Airport and the secrets and fibs began. At firsts her pregancy didn't show and eventually she passed "me" off to coworkers as being Gerald's child of her former marriage. Relocating to Seattle made it work.

By the time I was 6 months old my mother had met, married and settled into life with Milt, who adopted me as his "own." Ah yes, I was the skeleton in the family closet! Milt had two sons, then 16 and 17 and there was also my half brother Ross, age 10.

Milt and my mother (Lynn) developed a successful partnership. It wasn't really a romantic relationship that I could see as I grew up, but in business the two excelled. And eventually they started their real estate acquisitions leading up to a very profitable outcome.

So, "Willowbrook Lane" began when I turned 3 and grew and changed and by the time the development was full, they started another just a couple miles away and we moved. That's when I lost touch with Jeannie, for even so close we went to different schools. I'll be "back" in future posts to visit that little beloved community, but for now-

My Dad never took time to name the next development as I recall. Or, perhaps because I was a teenager by then I never took notice.
When I was 13 years old I "hated" my dad. Hate being a strong word of course, but emotions ran high in those hormonal years. I was unloading on my mom about how much I "hated" him and suddenly realized she'd stopped the car- we were driving into a church parking lot and she cut the engine. She turned and looked at me and said, "He's not your real father."

You know that surreal feeling you have when you wake up from a particularly vivid dream? Or when you have a high fever and things are obscured? Or when suddenly you feel like surely you must be "on camera" because this is all just so weird and this can't be me and how could I NOT have known?

A million thoughts ran through my head and then, the one that ran most clearly was- this man, that was not my dad had done everything for me. Had taught me I could do and be anything. And the anger and the hate subsided.

The wonder continued too of course but I was too scared and too worried about my mom's feelings or to know any more just then. It all just kind of floated around the parimeter of my mind for several years and she'd divulge little bits here and there.

So that was it. Me and mom sitting there. Finding out she was human. Finding out she wasn't perfect. And starting to find out a bit who I was,,,,,and who I wasn't.

Mom always had good timing. I think she told me at the right time of my life. ......More on the search for my dad later!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Appleseth's,,or my introduction to White Bread

Some of the homes my father built started filling up with families as the 60's continued. And boys, lots of boys,,or girls too young to play with. I liked the boys well enough and I knew what to do with boys having all my brothers,,,we'd play "kick the can" or "frozen statue," do stunts on our bikes on the newly paved asphalt of our cul de sac, or we'd head to the Creek and look for big bull frogs or cute little green tree frogs and the occasional garter snake. I'd head back home soaked through to the bone-dirty and wet and change my clothes for the umpteenth time. I always seemed to have wet feet and my little cotton anklets-now all stretched out, would scrunch down inside my shoes.

But other than those girls in my classrooms during the first years of school, girls seemed to be in short supply. Then came the Appleseth's. My father said he'd sold the house across the street from us (across the street) to a family with 6 kids that were from Minnesota. "Were there girls, I'd asked?" He wasn't sure.

So, shy thing that I was NOT, I stood on the blacktop next to their drive and watched them unload their possessions-odd antiques and loads of matresses and I tried to figure out who, or rather WHAT was moving in. There were boys, older, younger. Girls older, younger and finally someone my own size AND a girl! Jeannie, and I knew she'd become my fast and best friend.

The Appleseth's settled quickly into their new home. In fact Mr. and Mrs. Appleseth seemed to do everything quickly. Jean, the mother was always rushing about while at home in her housecoat (I'd never seen one before) and in her perpetual rollers issuing orders (I'd never seen those either, my mother had her hair "done" every Saturday at her hairdresser, Fran's.) But mother Jean rushed around in a kindly manner. And Mr. Appleseth appeared to be gone quite a bit. There was a household, yes, but also a business to be run!

And run it all did, and at weird hours of the night. It was not uncommon to hear the vaccumn running close to midnight or the kids making sandwiches with white bread-white bread? At odd hours. This was truly a new and foreign land,,and yet exciting.

I soon learned that the family ran a cafeteria above the Medical Dental Building in Downtown Everett,North of Alderwood Manor. It was an important cafeteria in it's day, serving meals for professionals along Colby as well as families with appointments and business in Everett. Everett was in it's hay day in the 60's. With all the new development in the Snohomish County area timber production and shipping was going strong. The Paper Mills were doing well and there was also the shipping trade to provide these products to the Nation and abroad. Prosperous and busy indeed!

There were no Malls in those days. Colby Avenue, where their building was located was populated by prosperous clothing stores, jewelers, stationery's, and of course, Woolworth's and JC Penney's. Everett, being the County seat was and actually still is the epicenter of local legalities and legislation.

That said, the Appleseth's were hopping. If the kids weren't in school, they were helping out in the Cafeteria. Washing dishes, cleaning tables, stocking stainless bins of spaghetti, turkey, green beans, you name it-under the heat lamps and tray warmers! And the establishment had a state of the art Ice Cream Machine where you could make your own cone or sundae.

Somewhere in the process I became the 7th Appleseth kid. Me and me alone. There were no other friends or neighbors or classmates involved in their family dynamics, just me. And I loved it! I'd go with the kids to help in the Cafeteria, I learned to wash dishes just like the rest of them in cav ernous stainless steel sinks with hot water sprayers and conveyor belts. We'd work hard on the weekends and be rewarded with lunch and the ice cream the ice cream! Or anything else your heart desired for helping out. I was in heaven to be part of this wonderful family.

In the 60's, everything pretty well stopped on Sundays. And I think even more so in Washington state and other states that had what were later appropriated Blue Laws. You couldn't buy meat, dairy or seafood in the Grocery stores on Sundays. Nor could you buy beer or wine. And most businesses were closed. As was the Appleseth's dining establishment. In fact Colby Avenue generally a hub of activity itself, darned near rolled up it's sidewalks on Sundays,,,,it was a ghost town. But the bells from local churches rang strong and loud.

Sunday's meant family and church and rest/play time. For me Sunday still meant getting up early-military style and having one of my dad's tremendous southern style breakfasts but then donning a dress either handmade or store bought by my mother and,,,,in those days, often heading off to the Lutheran Church with the Appleseth's.

My mom always encouraged me to attend church, and at times that meant the Community church with her, because she thought it was "good for me." but then again, she was just as happy to let me go off with our dear neighbors and get a little bit of Jesus with the Norwegians and stay home and iron, bake,read, sew, whatever before her new work week began.

So,,Me and the Appleseth's? Or should I say the Appleseth's and I? At any rate, we'd often stay for cookies and Kool-aid,,again, a foreign substance in my household where we either drank water, whole milk or juice. But after church socialities would wind down I'd head out with the Appleseth's in their light blue Ford family station wagon with Jeannie and her family (If we were lucky we'd get to sit in the rear facing seat, although we'd have to share it with her baby sister Jan or younger brother Jeff.)

Jan was sweet, and was truly babied by all for many reasons. She had severe bouts of childhood arthritis which would send her off to Children's hospital in Seattle for tests and treatment, and on several occaisions, I was in attendence.

But generally, after church, off we'd go,,,to the Seattle Aquarium on the Waterfront or the "Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe" to look at shrunken heads and have our fortune told for a penny from the Gypsy in the glass case. Or we'd all head off somewhere for hamburgers or the "Bakers Dozen" of glazed Donuts.

Some afternoons,after Church, we'd just go back home and listen to records and sing to folk records songs such as "If I had a Hammer" or we'd make a simple lunch. Or we'd all gather the other kids in the neighborhood for some sort of outdoor game...it was always great fun and I even enjoyed helping with family chores, because they were my extended family.

I remember when their Grandmother came to visit from Minnesota. She talked funny,,,she'd say like, Min-a-sota with this funny kind of lilt. And to this day,,,I still periodically say "Uf Dah." It seemed to cover so many explitives so eloquently. Jeannie didn't like her Grandmother's visit much, saying that her older sisters were too busy and she had extra chores to do while her Grandmother was there. She wanted to run away. And I decided to go with her. for emotional support . .

We went down to the Creek under the blackberry brambles where several of the local older boys had managed to provide a roof using various chunks of siding and sheetrock and we hid under the canopy. I sat with Jeannie and let her talk & cry. She was my best friend and I loved her family and her Grandma and I didn't want her to work hard, but I couldn't understand. And yet I stayed with her and thought about where we would go and what we would do,, , right up until I saw the furniture truck pull in across the street at my house that started to unload my new bedroom furniture. I had to go.

This furniture was like something out of a dream. I'd seen it on a shopping trip with my mother and had fallen in love with it. My mother ended up purchasing it out of her own salary to surprise and treat me. I apologized to Jeannie and said I had to go home.

I worried about Jeannie and her Grandmother though and I wondered where she would go, and how long it would be until she could see my new bedroom set?

So, I got my new wonderful furniture and Jeannie went back home later that day, and soon, we were in her front yard with the door open and the hi-fi cranked up, singing Beatles songs together. I have a picture of that day,,,and I hope to find it and scan it to my sidebar soon. We both wore long crocheted vests in lavander and berets to match.
Noneless, without the photo, it is a memory I have burned into my cornea.

There were other major memories of the Appleseth's-mostly involving my brother. They eventually had these cute little Spitz dogs....Kind of like a Pomeranian,,,but pure white and slightly bigger. One year,,close to Easter, my brother Ross(again let me remind you 10 years older than me) dyed one of the purebred dogs Green. He only got caught because shortly thereafter I was dyeing the Easter eggs in the old fashioned way of using Vinegar and Food Coloring that I noticed that all the Green was missing. I asked mom about it and he was caught in the act. Poor little Lady was green for months!

And another time. I must have been 10 or so, and had gone through confirmation as a Lutheran and Christmas was upon us. And my brother SWORE that I peaked at the gift he had for me, and I simply turned to him and said, "Lutheran's don't lie." I swear,,,,,Some 40 years later he still brings that up at family holiday functions. "Lutherans don't lie." And I SWEAR I never peaked!

Lots of great memories there. Great family. And I was so lucky to be part of it all in my childhood! I will never forget........

Where are you now, Jeannie? I tried to find you on the internet,,,,or any of you 6. Thank you for making me the 7th Appleseth. I will never forget!


(hopefully soon, I will learn how to better scan photos and add them to my sidebars!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What a neighborhood to grow up in!

In retrospect, I don't think life could have been much better than our little community. It seemed short in coming, but as my "Dad" built houses, so they came-those that bought my father's newly built houses (soon to be adjacent to the I-5 corridor, heading from the Canadian Border to Mexico. As children, we were somewhat isolated and formed a tight little community, being a mile or so from the business district, but as I too grew, the distances grew shorter and the neighbors more endearing. ]

But, I'm rushing ahead,,,,so beforehand:

At the age of 4,,,I "left home." To walk of COURSE,,,,to the local grocer, about a mile away. I alway had a sweet tooth,,,and the grocer provided a free piece of candy when I came, accompanied by my mother. But that held no special regard or reference when I apparently decided that candy was in order,,and I merely headed the distance towards the local merchant to obtain promised confection. I vaguely remember the call to my mother, "Shelly is here, for her candy."

I was not punished, but apparently there WAS a reprimand or words,,as I never attemped a similar transaction alone on foot.

I had older brothers,,,,,,,,Ross, 10 years older seemed nearly grown, although he teased me incessantly. He'd carry me out and over the garbage can by my ankles and threaten to throw me in... We'd build boxes of cereal on mornings when he'd appear at the breakfast table, they were tall, like fortresses around ourselves in the morning to keep the other at large. I'd read of contests and giveaways on the back of the boxes and keep them armed against his grasp. I also had two older "brothers," who were not truly related,,,,15 and 16 years older than me, who left for school in starched white shirts, skinny ties and whom shortly therefter left to either join the military or attend college.

My youngest brother Ross, would somewhat ethereally disappear off on a bus to a netherland,leaving me to wait on the corner with mom-already dressed for work and me to to be escorted to the first days of grade school. Me,either lunch money-which was relatively rare-as most had a homemade lunch,,,OR I had some weird epicurean specialty that spoke of my parents immigration/past. What other kids had liverwurst? What other kids had even, in those days, whole wheat bread?

That said, the stigma of either buying a lunch or having it hand made using foods that others only ridiculed or scorned.

And,in retrospect, their were a LOT of oddities in my childhood that I took for normal, for they truly were MY norms. And there were a lot of advantages as well. Who else had parents in their 40's? Who else was a child of an immigrant? (My mom) Who else's mother had a career/vocation/profession? Who was always dressed fashionably in a community where little thought was given of dress? My mom. Who else had extras in life because her mom worked and her father was a sucessful business man? Moi,,or at leat I thought,,,,but that is another chapter/post.

I wasn't normal. My family wasn't normal. My mother worked,,,which wasnt normal for women in the 50's and 60's. I wasn't treated specificallylike a girlchild, to cook, sew, clean, marry,,,,which was the norm of the times.,,I was basically taught that I could DO or be anything- I fished, learned to shoot a gun, hammer a nail AND sew and bake and entertain, etc. I feel pretty thankful that I wasn't raised to just be a girl/woman,,,,,but to be me.

My household was large,,,with all the comings and goings of my older brothers and their friends from work and/or church activities. We always entertained. Regardless of my age,,,,I was always included...

But we didn't have a "normal" family of the 60's....in SO many ways, and yet it was the best of times for me........More to follow if you'd like!