Saying Goodbye to One Fine Ass

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Saying Goodbye to One Fine Ass

festus6Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  This quote sums up exactly how the folks around the Thurman farm have been feeling this week.  The legendary, elderly, clever, entertaining, dirty, scruffy, arthritic donkey, Festus, gave up the ghost yesterday and took a little piece of our hearts with him.

Festus was my hero from day one.  It has been nearly five years since our family left the town life and migrated to life on my husband’s family farm.  The horse and I got off on the wrong foot and I had a turbulent relationship with the mice who invaded my kitchen.  There was the incidental barn cat breeding fiasco, the introduction to the electric fence, and there remains a cow who stalks me and constantly tries to start shit with me.  But Festus, we were tight from day one.  Upon being introduced, I was told how his main function on the farm was to keep the coyotes away from the cows. I don’t know if this is just crap they were feeding me because I don’t really know the truths and myths of farm life, but I didn’t care.  There is only ONE thing I hate worse than that bitch-ass mean cow and that would be coyotes.  I knew right away Festus and I were going to be fast friends.

Festus was old; at least 35.  He was an old ass, but also a wise ass.  He couldn’t get around very well the last few years, his old bones were stiff.  The spring may have been gone from his step, but that ornery twinkle was there until the end.   Here are just a few of the highlights of our friend, Festus:

  1. Peppermints were the way to his heart. The old ass loved apples, carrots, and sugar cubes, but nothing made him happier than when someone trudged out to the field with pockets full of cellophane wrapped peppermint goodness to share with him.  And nothing pissed him off more than when you showed up empty handed.  He was an ass with expectations.  After nuzzling pockets upon approach, he would quickly determine if you were bearing gifts worthy of his company or if you were a human disappointment to be ignored.
  2. He was well equipped. When the little twin cousins, Carter and Caden, were visiting the farm, they excitedly announced to their mom, Jody, that Festus was having a baby.  In additional conversation with the little fellas, they announced that “Festus had a leg sticking out of his belly, so he MUST be having a baby.”  Imagine how hard it was explaining to them that is was not a leg but rather his giant donkey dong.  Old Festus set the bar very high for these youngsters.

    Carter and Caden with Festus

    Carter and Caden with Festus

  3. He was not afraid to use what the good Lord gave him. Festus was really old. He walked stiff-legged and preferred to lay around in the sun most of the time.  His range of motion was limited and so he didn’t move around a great deal and he certainly didn’t move anywhere fast.  Except that one time…when the neighbor’s Jenny (that is what they call girl donkeys FYI, not her actual name. I don’t think Festus even got her name) was all hot and bothered and prancing her fine ass on the other side of the fence.  Perhaps in his prime he would have jumped the fence for this fine piece of Jenny, but he was way past his prime.  He did, however, manage to barrel through the fence, have his way with the sultry temptress from greener pastures, and then collapse in his post-coital bliss.  The only thing he was missing was a cigarette.  He was so tuckered out by his escapade Uncle Bob had to drive to the neighbor’s farm and load his bad ass on a trailer and haul him home.  Festus was not ashamed and he got more than one, “Atta boy, Festus” from my son, husband and other male inhabitants of the farm (filthy animals).
  4. He sometimes had to say he was sorry. On not one but two different occasions, Jody encountered Festus when he wasn’t on his best behavior.  She claims that she was giving him treats and he bit her.   Jody is a farm girl and knows how to saddle and ride things and drive tractors. She knows how to round up cows and raise steers and all that jazz.  So, she definitely knows how to give an ass a treat.  I talked to him after the first incident and he said he was sorry.  After the second time, I started to think she was either showing up without the proper treat or using peppermint scented hand lotion.  Festus wasn’t mean, but as stated above, he had expectations.
  5. He always was excited to see you. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t visited in a day or several weeks, Festus greeted you with his one of a kind, high decibel, uniquely his own, welcome bray.  While I could try to explain it to you, there really aren’t words to adequately do it proper justice.  You can click on the video below to experience a greeting Festus style.  Loosely translated, he is saying:  Hello, my friend.  I have missed you.  I love you.  You better have peppermints. Get over here and hug my shaggy ass”:

 

 

Festus, you were one fine ass.  Thank you for making us smile.  You will be missed.

 

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Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer

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Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer

 

The fact that I am 44 pisses me off. I might look 44, but I rarely feel it and even less than rarely act like it. It is only when I have to dig my readers out of my bag so I can read a menu or someone asks me my age and hearing myself verbalize the truth always sounds strange; that age belongs to someone else—someone old. Then I have to get real with my aging self. There are signs all around me that I am no spring chicken. I don’t dare jump on the trampoline without completely emptying my bladder first. I have to pluck more areas on my face than just my eyebrows and if that isn’t bad enough, I turn down the radio in the car when I want to talk. WHO AM I?

It may be part of my internal denial and my hopes to cling to the youth I once had, but often I don’t take time to ensure that my ‘old lady’ medical checks are done routinely and regularly. If my body was an automobile, it would not get the routine maintenance, fluid checks and changes, or the occasional diagnostic checks. Nope. I just kick the tires and turn up the radio to drown out any clanks or knocks.   This is exactly how I ended up way behind on my annual health checks (and when I say way behind, I mean several years, not months).

A couple of weeks ago I was rarely not traveling for work and folded under the intense pressure by my husband (who is also not as young as he used to be) to get my wellness exams caught up. I showed up to complete the well-woman’s circle of life maintenance check. They looked in my throat and under the hood and checked the pipes and that all went fabulous. I ended the fun-filled day with a mammogram relieved to finally have all of it completed. What I wasn’t expecting was the call I received shortly thereafter—We need you to come back in for an additional test. There was something suspicious on your mammogram. And just like that, things just got real.

I spent the next week out of town with work and tried to tamp down the word “suspicious” that kept slipping out of my subconscious and tap dancing all over my conscious. It is really hard to focus on work when you have an ambiguous word tap dancing in your brain. I arrived home and went for boob-smash ‘take two’, which led to yet a THIRD boob smash a couple days later. Boob smash number three was the equivalent to having someone fold my right titty into an Origami swan and then secure it firmly into a vice grip. The whole thing gave “titty twister” a completely new meaning, with the end result being that it wasn’t the end at all.

I was scheduled for a needle-guided surgical biopsy the next morning. The good news is that I was asleep for the “surgical biopsy” part. The bad news is I was wide-ass awake for the “needle guided” portion. Holy God, a little GHB or chloroform next time, please! I should mention this included mammogram number FOUR, and a big needle, and a Styrofoam cup taped over a wire hanging out of my boob? It was all kinds of glamorous. In addition, I had my husband, and Mom and Stepdad with me, which would have been appropriate if I was having a heart transplant, but holy cow it does feel good to be loved.

And then we waited. Waiting was difficult enough, but I was scheduled to fly out of town for work and so I had to wait 700 miles away from home. I do try and plan ahead for these situations. Unbeknownst to her, I had put on my initial paperwork that any and all health information could be shared with my sister, Kim. She called me early in the week to ask if I had heard from the doctor.

Kim:   Have you heard from the tests?

Me:        I am not calling.

Kim:       Yes you are. We have to know.

Me:       Yes, we have to know, but I am not calling. You are.

Kim:       What the hell? They won’t tell me anything.

Me:        I already signed a consent saying they could tell you anything.

Kim:       You are shitting me.

Me:        I shit you not. I can’t hear bad news from the doctor. If it is bad I need you to tell me.

Kim:       I hate you.

Me:        I know.

Kim:       I love you.

Me:        I know.

 

She called and we had to wait a few more days before the results were finalized. In the interim, I didn’t sleep much. I prayed a lot. God always knows when I am in trouble. I am so predictable. I also inventoried my life and the way I live it. My life is a continuous battle to keep what is important at the forefront. My little priority ducks are a bunch of bastards that I can never seem to keep in a row. I consistently fail at being present in the moment and I had to have a suspicious something show up on a mammogram to remind me that I don’t have an infinite amount of moments. I still have so many damn ducks to wrangle. At some point in my existence I want to present my wily-ass little ducks to the world in a complete and unified row.

Later in the week:

Kim:       Hey! How are things in Texas?

Me:        Mostly sunny with a slight chance of cancer.

Kim:       (sobbing)

Me:        The results are negative, aren’t they?

Kim:       (sobbing) Yes!! And now I can breathe again. (I knew if it had been bad news, she would never had let me hear her cry. She, too, is predictable).

Me:        Thank you!

Kim:       I hate you. Don’t ever do this to me again.

Me:        I love you.

Kim:       I know.

Cancer is a beast and I have seen mighty warriors fall to its ruthlessness. I will not pretend that I was not scared shitless. I am NOT a warrior. Hell, I can’t even keep my ducks in a row.   My days of kicking the tires and running on empty are behind me. I came away with a heck of a scare and a right boob that looks like it might belong to the Bride of Frankenstein. But those are two outcomes for which I have boundless immense gratitude. Life’s forecast can change without warning and I am blessed beyond belief with family and friends with whom I can find shelter, when there is even a mere threat of a storm. The truth is, I probably won’t ever get my shit completely together, but I will bet my right boobie that I won’t miss another mammogram!

 

 

 

 

 

The Security Breach at Breakfast

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The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….

 

In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:

murder

Confessions of an eMOM

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Confessions of an eMOM

airport1There are so many places I want to be, but curled in the corner of a crowded Las Vegas airport on a Friday evening isn’t one of them. Yet, here I am.  My plane is delayed and I am aching for home. I can feel the strings that hold my heart together straining against the weight of my longing to be in a different place—my place—home. My heart strings are beyond frayed. As my work calendar fills up, I am increasingly aware that my ability to maintain a healthy balance between work and home is being taxed.   Being a mom is a hard job. Being an eMOM is in its very own category of sucking.

It isn’t like my family needs me; they are extremely competent people and can fend for themselves. I am quite sure the way I imagine they fumble around without my motherly anchor to buoy their lives into some sort of organized chaos is probably not at all the case. However, there is some internal piece of me that rattles around like loose change in a dryer when I am away from home. Nothing rattles my heart more than knowing one of my kids needs me and I am not there. No matter how I spin it, twist it, turn it upside down eMOTHERING is just another word for failure.

What I have for the next four months is the equivalent of a shitty visitation schedule awarded to the non-custodial parent and weekend conjugal visits with my husband. I try to fill the interim time between brief visits home with texts, Facetime, and phone calls.

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Me trying to Facetime with Piper.

The dogs act so sad when I get my suitcase out and they always act so frantically glad to see me when I return. However, neither mutt will Facetime with me, so I am starting to think they are just fake assholes. I find myself looking online for results from track meets that I did not attend and waiting for text updates from other parents about basketball games I am missing. I have texted my daughter’s primary care provider and written her notes regarding serious matters that warrant me being there in the flesh. I get pre-recorded calls from my daughter’s school informing me that she has missed part of the school day and I need to call the attendance office with an explanation to which I never respond. What am I supposed to say, “Hi, this is Sophi’s mom and I haven’t actually seen her in several days, so she could have overslept or was not feeling well, but the truth is I am not sure why she missed part of the school day.” What I can’t do is bring myself to make the call and switch the automated call system to my husband’s number. To do so would be admitting that I am this century’s version of a mom of a latch key kid.

I often see the inspirational quote, “It’s not about the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away.” Well, I call bullshit. The way I look at it, I have a limited amount of moments to spend with the people I love and I am doing a piss poor job of managing those moments. I have been afraid to ask myself about the potential repercussions of being the absent parent a large part of the time. It is infinitely sad to be scared of the asking the hard questions, simply because I know what the answer will be. Besides, it isn’t like I am off overseas fighting for liberty and freedom. There isn’t going to be a viral video of me returning home and surprising my unsuspecting kid at a packed sporting event with a tearful reunion. Most of the time I will arrive home to an empty house or “Hey, Mom, we are out of milk.” In the big scheme of things, I am not that special. But they are and that’s what keeps awake at night. What kind of mom doesn’t know when there is no milk? Seriously, when I am at home I know when we are out of milk and have a choice. I can make a list and go to the store and restock on essentials or I can choose to respond with, “I don’t care. I am pretty sure you can put water on cereal.” When I am away, I have no options.

If one was to scroll through my Facebook page, you would see me tagged in cool places like Las Vegas, Dallas, San Antonio, and I have, in fact, been able to see and do some pretty neat things. What I don’t post (because it is completely uninteresting) is the majority of my time away is comprised of activities which don’t even register as being remotely cool. Fighting crowds and long lines at airports, sleeping in strange places in an unfamiliar bed are just some of the uncool things I get to do week after week. I also get to lug huge computer cases that weigh almost as much as I do (or the weight on my driver’s license anyway), spend long days in nursing homes training people on medical software, and then grabbing dinner. I usually try to workout on shitty hotel fitness equipment and then review data until I am forced to switch to Netflix and binge watch until the wee hours of the morning. It’s damn near a glamorous life. Be jealous all you moms out there who know when you family is out of milk, because I am standing in front of a hotel vending machine debating with myself the nutritional value of animal crackers vs. Cheez-Its™.

The upside to my frequent travel is that sometimes I get to travel with my oldest daughter, Riley. This is probably the only thing that keeps me going. We don’t have to, but we room together on the road. We have laughed together and someday we are going to perfect our twerking skills. This time with Riley is a gift. I am not sure she feels the same. Riley requires a minimum of 10 hours of sleep, which is in complete contrast with my ‘four in a row and I am ready to go’ sleep requirement. She doesn’t like to chat in the mornings and she really hates it when I try to get my face as close to hers while she is sleeping and she wakes up and freaks out. Here are some of the frequent conversations we have had:

Riley: Are you about done with the light?

Me: Not quite

Riley: “Well I am.” Switches off light.

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Riley: Mom?

Me: What?

Riley: Shut the F up.

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Riley: I brought my workout clothes. Do whatever you have to do to make me go.

Me: Hey, Fatass, let’s go to the gym.

Riley: I hate you so much.

Me: You said to do whatever to get you to workout.

Riley: How are you even a mother?

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I get out of the shower and the mirror is steamed up. I scrawl in my scariest handwriting: REDRUM. Riley gets in the shower and the mirror re-steams revealing my ominous message…

Riley: Red Rum??? What the hell does that mean?

Me: Are you kidding me? It is from the Shining. You know, ‘murder’ spelled backwards and I gesture with my finger acting out the scene, “Redrum, Redrum, Redrum.”

Riley: Blank stare.

Me: I can’t believe you have never seen the Shining.

Riley: I can’t either, considering you forced me to watch Cujo when I was like 8! Who does that?

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Me: Riley, if I were you I would never go in our hotel bathroom, ever.

Riley: What have you done?

Me: I ate fresh fruit plates the entire time I was in Vegas. Let’s just say, what you eat in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas.

Riley: Oh, God. This is horrible. You are rotten or something. OMG!! This is killing me!

Me: Here, put this washcloth over your face and breathe through it.

(Fifteen Minutes Later)

Me: I think it’s clear now. You can stop breathing through the washcloth now.

Riley: (inhales deeply) OMG it is NOT ALL CLEAR!!!!

Me: (laughing uncontrollably)

Riley: Lucky me. My mom has the same sense of humor as a 12 year old boy.

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So, perhaps my remaining kids at home aren’t exactly missing out on much with me being gone so often.  My mothering skills seem to be marginal at best. I guess I am feeling anxious about how close I am to being an empty nester. What I want most for my kids is for them to be happy with the person they grow into. I want them to treasure people over things. I want them to lead with kindness and never forget how to laugh at themselves. I want them to love someone so deeply that their heart strings get frayed when they have to be apart from them. I want them to marry their best friend and Facetime with their dogs (even if the dogs are fake assholes). I want them to stand up for the underdog, love God and America. I want them to know that I love them unconditionally and forever. I want them to know that I never check my guilt when I travel; I carry it with me always and it is by far the heaviest burden I have.

FAKEBooking-Mastering the Art of Omission

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My mom asked me three questions, when I was 16 years old, to which I answered honestly. Subsequently, this left her standing in the kitchen sobbing into a dishtowel.   Her response ultimately being, “Why can’t you just lie like other teenagers?” Okay…that went well. I should have used my filter. The greater part of my adult life has been trying to tame the wily beast that is my tongue. Sometimes I am able to remain silent, at least in the time it takes to reformulate more socially acceptable responses. Most of the time, this requires the firm use of my teeth on aforementioned tongue and walking away, but progress is progress. With all of my attempts to be authentic without the use of blunt force emotional assault, I sometimes still lose the battle. War is hell and my tongue hurts.

 

There is a place I still struggle to remain authentic and that place is on social medial. It is a fine balance between sharing too much (which I often do) and cutting loose without abandon with every shitty thing happening in my life. Teetering on the virtual tightrope between TMI and Debbie Downer all the while trying to avoid getting to sucked into the dark abyss of ‘my shit is perfect’; the struggle is real and my shit is far from perfect.

 

My newsfeed is alive and well with posts ranging from folks’ fun-filled summer vacations; good times spent with great friends, the proud moments of sports parents and last but not least, the selfies. I have posted numerous times in each of these categories. How authentic are my posts? How well does the life I portray on Facebook reflect the life I actually live?? Not even close. I am living a lie, virtually.

 

Classic examples of my Facebook Omissions:

sophi fist day

Fact: Sophi’s first day of her junior year.

Omission: She was totally Pi$$ed that I asked her to take this picture because she was running late. She was not very nice about it and I wasn’t very nice back.   It was an ugly exchange.

Patch

Fact: Hanging out with Patch, the new horse on the farm.

Omission: I was supposed to be on a run, but I stopped and played with Patch, because I am out of shape and I was dog-ass tired of running.

 

cornhole

Fact: Sophi got out of the shower and played corn hole in her towel. Things like this really do happen in our home.

Omission: I can’t beat Sophi at corn hole and it makes me crazy. I can’t beat Kevin either. I can beat Riley, but she doesn’t count. She is horrible.

magic12

Fact: Kevin coaching his Magic girls in a rare moment of spirited coaching in response to the team not playing well at all.

Omission: Briley, the center, hurt her back early in the tournament and with her mom’s permission I gave her some muscle relaxers. Kevin hurt his back last week and took the same kind of muscle relaxers and was groggy and couldn’t stay awake for a couple of days. Yeah..maybe that is why Briley was having trouble getting up and down the court. Ooops!

 

I think there is a part of my life that I vehemently try to hide on Facebook.   If I had to put a label on it, think it would be vulnerability. What parts of my life can I reveal and not be judged by my Facebook community as a shitty mom or crazy wife or horrible person (I have been called all three).

There is nothing virtual about my reality.

 

I am blessed with good kids and they are basically happy and healthy, but they drive me bat-shit crazy sometimes. They fight. They can be hateful as junkyard dogs to me and each other. I push Sophi too hard, haven’t pushed Evan hard enough and Riley has basically co-parented herself, so there is that.

 

My house stays clean for exactly 2.3 seconds and then the chaos erupts. The cute little dog, Piper, whom is adored and treated like a baby, won’t pee in the grass if it is wet.   She sneaks into the kitchen and pees in the floor. I cover for her and tell Kevin she is sorry. She is not sorry.

 

Kevin really is the mild-mannered, cool-headed voice of reason in the family. He did say he wouldn’t love me if I lost both of my arms, because I wouldn’t be much good to him. I am pretty sure he was kidding though; sort of kidding.

 

I can’t take a selfie that is worth posting. If I try, it takes me 37 tries and by the time I get one that is halfway decent, the moment has passed. Actually, my selfie ship has passed. Perhaps, being a woman of a certain age, I don’t feel compelled to see my mug daily on a newsfeed. Honestly, I don’t want to. I require a lot of makeup, low-lighting, and numerous filters to pull it off. I have a scar on my chin, crow’s feet, and ain’t nobody want to be looking at all that (see the horse picture above…I am the one on the left). I am not that cool and I know it—affirmations through comments be damned.

 

I am flawed. I am not the matriarch of the Sunshine Family. Sometimes I am sad, scared, and stressed. My kids aren’t beauty queens, top athletes or anything extraordinary, but they are unequivocally loved. Our home is filled with more laughter than tears, but laundry is more abundant than either. There always seems to be more wants than money, more things that need to be done than there is time and more places to go than gas in the cars. We sing, we dance, we wrestle, and we laugh. I love to share the moments of my life, but the life I share is often a watered down version of the real thing. The watered down version is never as good as the real thing. Live your life—love your life—no filter.

 

The Epic Tirade Over Bleepin’ Wet Socks

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The Epic Tirade Over Bleepin’ Wet Socks

Every once in a while, I completely flip my $hit. I have scaled down my grand meltdowns and while I have no specific data to back up my bold claim, I am confident the number of Richter scale measurable come-a-parts has been on the steady decline over the last several years. I am uncertain of the reasoning behind the lengthening of my fuse and the rounding out my sharp edges. Perhaps arriving in the fourth decade of my existence has brought about a shift in the hormonal tide.  It may be attributed to a heightened awareness of the struggles of those around me and a growing appreciation for mankind. Truth be told, it is most likely that I just don’t care enough to work myself up into an emotional lather… well that and I am slightly medicated.

 

The push to take ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ to a new level hasn’t always been easy. Laundry thrown haphazardly next to the hamper on most days is met with a sigh and a quick deposit into the receptacle. Other days, I can just ignore it. There are those days, however, when I feel the adrenaline surge through my veins, and I have visions of lighting the whole damn pile on fire and walking away. I have found that visual imagery helps alleviate my stress and seems a viable imaginative alternative to a verbal assault on my family and/or acts of arson. I am learning to self-soothe, which I am counting as a sign of progress.

 

Nothing seems to validate all of my hard work, like witnessing a colossal screaming crazy rant of another. While staying at the historic (and haunted-another story) Congress Hotel in Chicago my husband, Kevin and I were audible witness to the tyrannical verbal hurricane of a neighboring guest. As we were leaving our room late one evening, we were halted in our tracks (okay we stopped and eavesdropped outside the door) of a man who was coming completely undone, specifically because his socks were wet.

 

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO BLEEPIN’ TELL YOU TO WIPE UP THE BLEEPIN’ BATHROOM FLOOR WHEN YOU BLEEPIN’ GET OUT OF THE SHOWER?? YOU BLEEPIN’ LEFT WATER ALL OVER THE BLEEPIN’ FLOOR AND NOW MY BLEEPIN’ SOCKS ARE WET BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO BLEEPIN’ LAZY TO WIPE UP THE BLEEPIN WATER!! NOW I HAVE BLEEPIN’ WET SOCKS!!!! GET YOUR BLEEPIN’ ASS IN THERE AND WIPE UP THE BLEEPIN’ FLOOR!! AND DON’T USE A BLEEPIN’ CLEAN TOWEL EITHER. YOU USE A BLEEPIN’ DIRTY TOWEL!! THIS BETTER BE THE LAST BLEEPIN’ TIME I STEP IN BLEEPIN’ WATER AND GET MY BLEEPIN’ SOCKS WET!!!! DO YOU BLEEPIN’ HEAR ME?

 

Actually, Sir, the entire 14th floor heard you. That was some powerful rage over wet socks. I thought about tapping on the door and sharing my visual imagery techniques, but I figured he probably wasn’t to the receptive stage in his development and decided against it. Then my heart started to imagine the receiver of that powerful verbal pounding. Of course, I imagined a little lad of 8 or 9 standing there in his PJs with wet hair and big sorrowful eyes. I pushed that image out of my head, it was too much. I started leaning toward the battered and abused wife, but that wasn’t any better. I settled on the recipient being the madman’s adult unemployed sloth of a brother, who drank all his beer, sleeps on his couch, and is still favored by their mother. One thing I am sure of, he wasn’t berating himself for not wiping up the water in his bathroom floor.

 

I haven’t thrown too many sticks or stones around, but I have tossed some pretty harsh words at the people I love most in the world and I am pretty sure some of them left a mark and probably even a scar or two. The scars on the hearts of the people I love are permanent. I cannot erase them with a million apologies or cover them with platitudes. My only hope is that my moments of tenderness, my smiles and laughter, and unconditional love can patch the holes I may have made. Love can’t float with holes in it, but a good sturdy patch may be just the thing to keep it from going all the way under.   I can’t guarantee things will always be smooth sailing. I am 100% human and a continued work in progress.

 

If you ever find yourself standing in the bathroom with bleepin’ wet socks, remember somewhere I am standing in my own bathroom sitting fire to a pile of laundry in my mind. Life is too short. Be kind. Be real. Be careful what you scream in a hotel room…

A Fist Full of Poppies and a Heart Full of Shame

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hatSometimes I get tired, frustrated and homesick during my seemingly long stints away from my family, while traveling for work. May has been one of those months with a lot of travel and an equal amount of homesickness. Fortunately, the majority of my time working this month was spent in the Missouri Veterans Commission in their homes for veterans and it was here I met an old soldier. It was he who reminded me that I have no actual concept of what being tired, frustrated or homesick really is.

He sat close to the nurses’ station, where we were training the staff on how to use the electronic medication administration software. He was sitting in a wheelchair. He asked for a warm blanket, which a staff member tucked around his stooped shoulders. He thanked the young lady with sincere gratitude and then I overheard him reciting lines from the poem, The Golden Years: “I cannot see, I cannot pee, I cannot chew, I cannot screw, the golden years are here at last and the golden years can kiss my ass.” His laugh was infectious.

Later that day, I had returned to the nurses’ station to check on the progress with the electronic medication pass.   He was sitting in his wheelchair. His US Navy cap had fallen to the floor and I watched as he strained in vain to reach it. I excused myself from my trainees and retrieved it for him and returned it to its rightful place. He thanked me with the same gratitude he had expressed over the warm blanket. I said, “I believe it is you who deserves the thanks. Thank you for your service, Sir.” His skin was thin and nearly transparent beneath the bill of his cap, but his eyes were shining.

He told me he served in the US Navy during World War II. I shared with him that my grandpa had also fought in WWII, but that he had served in the Army. He smiled and said he wouldn’t hold that against him and once again—that laugh. He shared with me that he loved the men he served with, but many of the names he has forgotten; the faces he never will. He grew quiet and

Vernon Thomure WWII Veteran, Hero, and Awesome Grandpa

Vernon Thomure
WWII Veteran, Hero, and Awesome Grandpa

I thought maybe he had fallen asleep, but when he looked up, his shining eyes were filled with tears, and he continued, “There are some things I wish I could forget. Our ship was hit in April, 1945, and there was so much water and so much blood. It seemed like more blood than water, if you can believe that. We were in the middle of the ocean with a hole blown in the side of our ship. You would think there would have been more water, but it sure didn’t seem like it. I still see all that blood and all those faces of men who were my brothers.”

The tears had made their way down his cheeks and the lump in my throat occluded me from speaking, which was a blessing, because I couldn’t find words to fill the space between us. I tentatively reached out and covered his vein-streaked pale hand with mine. After a few moments, he looked up and said, “I am sorry, young lady. I didn’t mean to start crying.” I told him I didn’t mean to make him so sad. He smiled and said, “Some things are just sad. I think what would be even sadder is that if nobody remembered.”

Today I followed two 30-something men out of Wal-Mart and they were chatting and talking and a veteran with the Buddy Poppies was standing at the exit. He buddypoppolitely asked if they would like to make a donation. These men didn’t even acknowledge the veteran or his request. One gave him a sideways glance and then turned his head and they both kept talking and walking. I stuffed a few dollars into the donation can and accepted my Poppy, trying to reflect as much gratitude as I had seen in the eyes of an old soldier when he was given a warm blanket. I thanked him for his service and I headed to my car. Once in my car I placed the poppy on the seat beside me, along with the several others that have accumulated over the last several days. I tried to stamp down the anger I was feeling for the two men who had nothing to offer, even in the way of a thank you and I wondered how many times I had failed to recognize the sacrifices made on behalf of my freedom and my anger dissolved into shame.   Because there are things that are just sad, but what would be even sadder is that if nobody remembered…

In the spirit of the Golden Years Poem, I wrote a few lines for the guys that blew off the veteran at the store today:

He cannot see, he cannot pee, he cannot chew and he cannot screw,

But he is more of a man than either of you.

The golden years don’t discriminate, and you can bet your ass

They show up without warning and they come on fast.

To you he may be an old man with poppy on a stem

But even for jerks like you, he would do it all again.

So enjoy your long weekend, your beer, and big toys

He knows what it takes to separate the men from the boys.