Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Remembering Kathy

Today, I remember in earnest my mother-in-law, Kathy.  This day marks one year since she passed.  Today, I remember all the light and love she brought to so many lives.

She welcomed me with open arms from the very start, and was always so very kind to me.  I knew then and I know now how lucky I was, and still am.

I'll always be grateful for her amazing generosity, for everything she did for us.  She gave us so much.

I'll always remember her bright, engaging personality, her giving, caring soul, her energy and zest for life, the way she could never quite get it right when she would try to tell a joke, the way she would cry when she laughed really, really hard.  

She was a fantastic woman and a wonderful mother to her children, Brian and Kristy.  I learned so much from her about how to be an amazingly loving and supportive mother, and I'll keep that with me for the rest of my life.

I'll always be so thankful to her for raising the incredible man who became my husband.

Kathy, I think of you often and I miss you very much.  I know you're always with us.  As surely as he'll know my dad, Calvin will know you, too.  Thank you so much for everything.

"In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.  In the glowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring; In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer; In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn; In the beginning of the year and when it ends; When we are weary and in the need of strength; When we are lost and sick at heart; When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Letting Go of Perfection

During my pregnancy, I experienced a strange change in my personality.  Maybe it was motivated by an urge to control what I could.  If so, it manifested in me wanting everything baby-related to be perfect (or as close to it as possible).  We completely overhauled one of our spare bedrooms to create the nursery, and I did my best to ensure that no detail was overlooked.  I cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned some more in preparation for his arrival.  Yes, I know that is commonly known as nesting - but I was hit hard, in that it really got to me if something was left unfinished, messy, imperfect - in other words, my slight tendency toward OCD really ramped up.

Well, needless to say, not everything is perfect.  In fact, some would say that virtually nothing is.  And especially once Calvin arrived, I had to realize that working full-time and taking care of him does not leave much time for obsessive house-cleaning.  But I'm mostly keeping my head above water these days.  Is my house frequently messy?  Yes (Brian can attest to that, considering he makes the majority of the mess - but to his credit, he does help with the cleaning whenever I ask).  Is that ok?  Yep!  As long as things are kept reasonably in order, I'd much rather spend my limited free time playing with my son.  Maybe I'll hire a maid, hmm...

But in all seriousness, it extends beyond just wanting a clean house (at least when we have company).  Calvin very well may be our only child, so I feel this constant urge to "make it count."  To get this right and make everything about raising my child the best it can possibly be.  Not that that makes me different from most every other parent out there, but I do feel that perhaps it nags at me more because I know this is my one and (probably) only opportunity to knock being a mom out of the park.  So maybe it makes a little sense why I crave perfection.  

We have a little family photo shoot scheduled for this Sunday afternoon.  Brian can tell you that I planned the outfits far in advance.  He knows that I put a ridiculous amount of thought into it.  He can admit that I've actually suggested we practice posing all together in the mirror so we can nail the shoot.  Someone help me, please.  :D

But the more I think about it, the more I want these pictures to ring true, not be some glossed-over, unrealistic version of who we are.  So yes, we'll be coordinated with each other and we'll be sure to suck it in (ha), but beyond that, I hope we'll just be our real selves.  Wonderfully imperfect.
@ Race for the Cure 5.18.13

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Things I never knew

There's so much I never realized would become truth for me after having a baby.

I never knew...

...how much satisfaction I'd feel after getting a car seat tightly and securely installed.

...how heart-wrenching it would feel leaving him at daycare the first few days after I started back to work.

...how tough it still is.

...what an arm workout I'd get holding my 5-month-old while he jumps and works strength into those chubby little legs.

...how good I'd get at eating with one hand.

...how surreal it'd feel when I'd look into his eyes and see my own.

...how amazed I'd be with each of his new developments.

...how obsessed I'd get with baby clothes.

...the depths of my patience when he'd let loose (thankfully infrequent) screams.

...that I'd take so many pictures of my little boy (actually, I pretty much knew that would happen).

...the confusingly bittersweet feeling I'd have each time I realize how big he's getting.

...the joy that'd surge through my soul every time he wraps his little arms around my neck in a hug.

...the levels of silliness I'd happily resort to just to make him smile and laugh.

...that my son's laughter would be like water for my soul when it gets thirsty (thank you, Matisyahu).

...how it'd feel to be his mother - the occasional frustration, the frequent worry, the constant thoughts of him, the immense pride, the intense, all-encompassing love.

... the wonder that he is mine.  The astonishment that I am his.

Fun Family Weekend!

This weekend, we were graced with the presence of Brian's dad and sister - Calvin's grandpa and aunt.  They live out of town - Pensacola and D.C. - so we don't get to see them as often as we'd like.  But, we were lucky ducks to have some time together with them this past Friday and Saturday.
Calvin with Grandpa Dave
On Friday, Grandpa Dave and Auntie Kristy came over for a cookout.  We had delicious food, and the company was even better.  Calvin loved hanging with some of Brian's side of the family.  He was fascinated with his grandpa, and loved gazing at his pretty aunt (he's such a ladies' man).  
Aunt Kristy, Calvin and Grandpa Dave
On Saturday, we went to Cat Welfare (a wonderful local no-kill shelter) to help Aunt Kristy find a new cat.  Cal really enjoyed seeing all the different cats; he even had a little bonding moment with one of the little kitties (they bumped "fists").  And Kristy picked out a lovely, sweet little lady, a 5-year-old black cat she named Lucky.
Calvin loves cuddles!
Saturday evening, we all and headed out for a fantastic dinner at Ruth's Chris.  Calvin looked too cute all dressed up, and he was an absolute doll the whole time.  I was so happy to bring him with us, and so proud of my little guy for behaving like an angel.
Calvin and mama, all dressed up
Cal is growing so quickly that it's a shame they're not here to see him all the time, but that makes it all the more important to cherish the time we all do have together.  And this weekend, we did exactly that.

The Day I Lost Him

The phone rang at about 5 after 5:00.  My mom.  She knew I'd just be leaving work.  It was a Wednesday, a day I had a softball game.  Indeed, I had just changed and was headed to the field.  There was nothing lost in digital translation as she spoke to me.  Her voice was as grave as I'd ever heard it.  "Come straight to the hospital," she said.  I kept asking why, why, please tell me why, but she wouldn't (for that I'll be forever thankful to her).  When she wouldn't tell me what was going on, I knew it was bad.  I called Brian and let him know of the abrupt change of plans, asked him to let our team know we wouldn't be there, asked him to meet me at the hospital.  Then I raced across town, crying and pleading with the universe to give me just one more chance. One more chance to talk to my dad, to have him call me George, his favorite nickname for me.  One more chance to see him alive.

When I walked into his hospital room, I knew it was over.  Immediately I lost it.  I vaguely remember my mom telling me when his body lost the fight to colon cancer, maybe she also said he went peacefully, or maybe she said that later.  Those initial moments are a bit of a blur.  I know that I wasn't expecting this, that I foolishly thought he could pull through, receive chemo and achieve remission.  Two weeks.  Just two weeks from D(iagnosis) to D(eath).  A life over at only 61 years old.  Leaving me, his youngest daughter, his baby, shattered and devastated.

Later that evening, I told my mom and my sisters that if I ever had a baby, I would name that child after him.  Surely, one of Calvin's middle names, Donato, was my dad's name.
I see a lot of my dad in his face
Before we left my father's room that night, I asked for some time alone with him.  I thanked him for taking care of me throughout my life, for the wonderful memories I have of him teaching me to play softball when I was 13 years old.  For all he did.  I promised him I would be happy.

I am making good on that promise, Dad.  Your grandson makes me indescribably, blissfully happy.  Even though I miss you so, so much every day, and it will always break my heart that you never got to meet Calvin, I know you're always with us, and your namesake will know you, because we'll tell him all about you.  You'll always be his Nonno.  And I'll always be your George.