Tag Archives: family

Happy Birthday to my Mom

My mom’s birthday is this weekend and even though she hates to make a big deal out of things, I refuse to let the day go by without stressing over the fact that I want her to have a good day.

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So I baked her the cupcakes I bake her every year—on Tuesday—just so she could enjoy them all week. I also gave her one of her cards already and she kind of knows what she’s getting for a present, only because once I actually have the gift, I have a hard time holding on to it.

But since she reads this blog, I decided to give her a little birthday poem as one more thing to add to her birthday list. So without further ado:

Many years ago you came out grandma’s lady parts,

With five loud boys already they were thrilled with all their hearts.

Finally! A girl this time! And born on Father’s Day!

Grandpa was so thrilled that it had all worked out that way.

Little did they know that Kathy was a wild one.

Catholic school and church had little impact on your fun.

But you made it through and married and got pregnant one fall night.

Bringing me into the world, a freaking ray of light. 

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Now we drive each other crazy but a “crazy” that we get.

With drunken nuns and shopping trips that we can’t soon forget.

You’ve always done so much for me despite your daily pain,

and you rarely throw things back at me when I’m acting insane.

Then there are the emails and the texts you send each day,

To tell me that the ass of your old jeans has ripped away. 

Or sometimes just to update me on ballgame scores and such,

and send me links to baby sloths you know I love so much.

My point is that you’ve played the role of both my mom and dad,

Teaching me to give more than I ever thought I had.

So even though you hate a fuss and frankly, I do too.

Enjoy your cupcakes and your gifts, perhaps a beer or two.

As for cards, I found the one you needed in your hand.

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For those of you who read this post, I know you’ll understand.

Happy Birthday (week) Mom!

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Do you request any special food or treats for your birthday?

And…the nun is drunk

My mom brought home her nun friend from the old people’s place to join us for Thanksgiving, so the day was entertaining…and exhausting. 

I’ve never brought Sister up before, but she’s a trip. Any time she leaves the home she gets a little excitable, especially when she gets into the wine, and Thursday was no exception.

Now there is no accurate way to describe her for a visual, but the closest I can come is to say she’s a 5-foot-tall stripped down version of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, but a little more troll-like.

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Imagine darker gray hair, take out the wand, add a habit for certain situations and stick her on a motorized cart with a basket on the front. Sister has MS and although she can walk, she usually drives the cart up and down the aisles of the home with the resident dog securely placed inside the basket. 

Anyway, Sister was waiting outside in her oversized sweatshirt, sweatpants and sandals with socks when we picked her up from the home.

The five minute car ride revealed that she recently met a 30-year-old who wasn’t married, which she—a nun—found odd. When it was pointed out that I was single and that Sister was a nun, this prompted her to declare that yes, she did actually know “shitload of ‘normal’ people” who weren’t married, like her dentist and that one secretary at the doctor.

As we walked into the house, we were also told that at some point we had to go to the store—on Thanksgiving— to get her a new electric toothbrush.

Enter wine—not converted from water, but alcoholic nonetheless.

Sister tried to situate herself on the couch. This resulted in her falling in the couch crack, flipping the recliner part of the couch open and almost flying heels over head over the back. Recovered, she took a sip of her “spirit” and engaged  my mom’s husband in a conversation about cheese and Mexican saints.

I “helped” my mom in the kitchen, and by “helped” I don’t mean fisting a bird, but rather making sure she had a beer.

The meal itself was full of stories.

Some I had heard before, others I hadn’t about her traveling the world, accidentally legally changing her name to her “nun” name instead of the one she was given as an infant and how she knew she wanted to became a nun at 18, but that her mom wanted her to run the roads to make sure, at least going to prom with a boy.

“They were just one date things,” she said. “I never tried to get laid.”

“However,” she continued, taking a sip of wine and leaving a mashed potato ring on her glass. “Some of the girls from the school used to go to the sand dunes and lay around with the boys. I was sent with them, but I don’t like sand.”

At that she picked up the turkey leg and continued gnawing on it like a carnivorous Catholic cavewoman.

“Is this the Super Bowl?” she asked as I turned up the Thanksgiving football game between Detroit and Green Bay. “Did you know people bet on these things? I heard sometimes the players lose on purpose and throw the matches. Is that what the Lions are doing?”

The next 30 minutes were spent explaining football to the buzzed nun, who kept claiming that her “craziness” was due to the eight mini peanut butter cups she had before dessert and not the wine.

“Are we the yellow pants or the gray pants?” she asked as she propped herself back on the couch, sipping her wine through a straw. “Ooh! Who has the ball—the ‘G’ or the ‘D’? Are there any points out there? Can I take my wine home with me?”

She didn’t forget about the toothbrush.

After once again implementing our makeshift Catholic catapult to get the nun in the truck, we made our way to the store, which was 10 minutes from closing. Sister honed in on what she wanted, grabbed the $7 Oral-B model from the ad and engaged the cashier in a conversation about her tartar issues and the dinner she just had.

As were walking out, a couple of men were walking in, which prompted Sister to proclaim with a huff, “The store is closing in five minutes, good sirs. I suggest you either hurry yourself up or come back again tomorrow, as that poor man hasn’t even had dinner yet!”

“Can you believe how rude some people can be?” she asked as we boosted her back into the truck—again. “Now where are my peanut butter cups? Do you think the ‘Gs’ or the ‘Ds’ won the game? When can we do this again?”

Oh good lord.

Say a prayer for us all.


As determined by random.org, the winner of the free copy of the book or Amazon card and the chocolate pretzel treats is: Laura Grimes

Please send your address to me at Sunshineach@comcast.net and I’ll get that package right out!

For everyone else, now that you know you’re not getting a free copy, you can go here and find out how to order it for yourself in a couple different ways. It’s literally the cost of a movie ticket, and you don’t have to put up with people talking through the previews…or tipsy nuns.

A Thanksgiving PSA

Now that we’re into November, there are a few things you can expect.

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The first is a rant from me about what you can expect: 

Thankful Lists

You will be inundated with blog posts, stories and articles about what people are thankful for. Those are fine and dandy, but this will not be one of those posts. If it were, I would say I’m thankful for most of my family, friends, baseball and pesto. Unless you’re a real ass, I will assume you are also thankful for the good things in your life.

I say practice an “attitude of gratitude” on a daily basis, not just when people gather around a bird carcass stuffed with stale bread.

Stuffing

People will make a big deal out of “Surviving the Holidays” in reference to meals like it’s the apocalypse. Apparently the appearance of extra food is something that requires careful planning and strategies to navigate, as eating reasonably sized portions of traditional foods is a foreign concept to people once the leaves start to fall.

The last time I checked, turkeys were not an endangered species as of yet and green bean casserole and pie can actually be recreated in months that don’t end in “er.” In addition, there is nothing more annoying than listening to people complain about all the food they ate.

Remember the attitude of gratitude? Be glad you have the option and scoop a little perspective and moderation on top of those taters.

Family (Dys)function

People will also make a big deal out of “Surviving the Holidays” like it’s the apocalypse when it comes to family, and on this note, I can’t deny the fact that stuffing the bird with Prozac shouldn’t be discounted.

As Johnny Carson famously said, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”

While my situation no longer includes large family gatherings—something I kind of miss—forcing a bunch of people to “be merry and bright” on a specific day at a specific time without any dysfunction is asking a lot.

There will be one or two people doing most of the work while the others linger around and ask when the food will be done. Kids will be screaming, but that will be marginally less annoying than the cousin telling you what you’re doing wrong with the yams and with your life.

The highlight will be when your crazy uncle inserts one too many jokes about “being a breast/leg man” or “tying the legs together to keep things moist”and eventually lands on the the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.

Decorations

While I would like to keep this centered on Thanksgiving—Christmas/consumerism rants to follow—I have to add in decorations, as this is about that time of year when a) people start complaining about the early appearance of Christmas items in stores and b) others are busy hanging old socks from the fireplace mantle and sprigs of dead plants from doorways in hopes of a kiss.

Soon displaying bright blinking lights and inflatable characters in your front yard will not warrant a neighbor watch meeting you are conveniently not invited to to discuss the “trashing down” of the neighborhood. And while I agree that it’s best to get those outdoor decorations up before the snow flies, when it comes to the inside décor, let’s keep the reindeer hidden until the turkey trots away.

PSA Conclusion

I suppose my unsolicited advice is to not freak out about “surviving the season,” as that places unnecessary stress on a situation that usually brings enough stress of its own. Plus, it’s annoying. Be thankful for what you have and remember that once Thanksgiving is over, you get to do it all again with the same group of crazy bastards a month later for Christmas.

For that, I am most thankful for Vodka.

Oh! And for Studio 30 Plus, as this post is in response to this week’s prompt:

Being Thankful

You can blame them.

My Perfect Game

This won’t mean a lot to most of you out there, but this weekend the Detroit Tigers clinched their first division title since 1987, and their first American League Central title ever.

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It’s kind of a big deal.

But don’t worry. This post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names of men being (over)paid to play a boy’s sport or ridiculous metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, you certainly won’t love my explanation of why I do. If you do love baseball, you don’t need it. 

But for me, it’s more than a game.

It’s remembering summers by games that were played and the sensory clues I still find—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow.

It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with a complete stranger when I see them wearing a shirt with the old English “D.”

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It’s a simple game—a bat and a ball—but it can unite a city, a state, a family—with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 30-year-old woman who usually one cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.

For me, it’s my escape.

Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend an unpredictable amount of time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.

For me,  it’s family.

It’s a 90-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but will tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.

Some days the games are all foreign to her and she couldn’t care less if one’s on. Some days watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio (but not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)

Because while I joke about her and there are still good times, the bad days outnumber the good by a lot. But on those good days, baseball bridges a gap as we talk of the games and the team. It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.

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From this year’s Opening Day to where we are now, this season has felt somewhat special. And despite my promise not to wax eloquently with corny language, I guess I can’t help it. Sure, it’s a “pastime,” but it’s my favorite way to pass that time.

For me, it’s more than a game.

It’s my perfect game.

I have baseball and sports, but what’s your “thing,” so to speak? What are you unapologetically passionate about and have never grown tired of?

Everything Must Go!

Summer is winding down, which means garage sale season is winding down as well. I don’t know how it is where you live, but it seems I can’t drive 100 feet without seeing a cardboard sign with an arrow pointing me towards the sale of the century each weekend. 

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Before I get into the rest of this post, let’s pause and talk about these garage sale signs.

Two tips:

  1. People are driving by, meaning they won’t read the paragraph you write in 12 pt. font with a pencil on a piece of cardboard. Use bright colors and the word “Sale.” You’re not pitching a screenplay. You’re selling crap.
  2. Make sure you spell things correctly. If I see a sign that says “Hudge  Sale” as I did a couple weeks ago, I will assume that a dictionary is not among your offerings and will only stop to edit your sign and judge you.

Let’s move on. 

If you’ve never actually put on a garage sale yourself and tried to convince people they need to buy the crap you just don’t want, allow me to clue you in as to just how much fun they can be. I conducted a yard sale myself  a couple years ago around this time and feel I’ve recovered enough to talk about my experience.

The Night Before: You stay up late making tiny price tag stickers for all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. It’s early in the game, so you’re psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your “inventory” at slightly over $5,000, give or take what you can get for those old curtains that came with the house you found stored in the attic. 

6: 30 AM The garage sale is scheduled to begin at 8 am, but a woman pounds on your door and tell you she “likes to get an early start.”  When you walk outside to let her “window shop,” you notice that not only is the summer weather unpredictably cold and rainy, but that there are five other cars in your driveway.

6: 35 AM One of those cars is your crazy uncle—a black belt in flea markets, weekend auctions and roaming the beach with a metal detector—who is there to help manage the situation. He immediately lays claim to a yard tool he forgot he gave you last week.

9:30 AM You’ve sold a few things, but are already annoyed with the fact that everything isn’t sold and you’re not counting your riches. A shopper offers you a dollar for your lawnmower that is brand new and not for sale.

You ask him to leave.

10 AM You look for your uncle and find him drinking Busch Light in a can and offering extras to shoppers for $1 a piece. He tells you he has sold three beers. At 10 AM.

Noon: You leave the operation in the hands of your uncle/concession seller and go inside to get some lunch. A stranger knocks on your back door and asks to try on some T-shirts for sale, and another wants to know if you have “weenies to go with the beer.”

You ask them to leave.

12:30 PM When you return to the sale, you find your uncle slightly manic because he has sold a shovel, a set of garden tools and a hose for 50 cents each. You tell him that they weren’t for sale in the first place. He replies that he wondered why there were no price tags.

You ask him to leave. Of course, he won’t.

2 PM A group of college boys will stop by and start trying on some of your clothes in the driveway, conducting their own drag queen fashion show. Your mom will attempt to stuff dollar bills into their bejeweled belts (priced at 50 cents) and your uncle will offer them beer.

They are cute. You will not ask them to leave. In fact, you will give them the clothes, a few other items and several pathetic come-hither stares.

2:30 PM You decide things are taking entirely too long and start drastically slashing prices like an overzealous mattress salesman who does his own commercials. In fact, you just start giving stuff away and find that’s entirely more fun, especially because it pisses off your crazy neighbor lady who is trying to sell a holographic palm tree for $50.

4 PM You’re done. You’ve given almost everything away. It’s hard to know what your take is for the day, because at some point your uncle  apparently sold the cash box. However, you find a dollar your mom dropped during the impromptu frat boy fashion show and seek out your uncle, who is digging through your “crap I’m throwing away” pile.

4:05 PM You buy a beer. 

4:06 PM You vow never to do this again.

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Word to Your Mother

Although my mom often advised me NOT to go with the crowd (unless they were going somewhere cool), I am going to join the rest of the world in wishing my mom a Happy Mother’s Dayelectronically and through food.

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Two generations of trouble and a whole lot of love.

I’ve written about my mom on here before, so if you are late to the game, please take a minute to read it. I’ve also written about my grandma numerous times, so if you are late to the game, she’ll probably kick your ass.

At any rate, my mom doesn’t want to do anything today but relax in the sunshine, watch the game and enjoy some beer and cupcakes. More people should go with that crowd.

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Word to my mother, indeed.

Opening Day Senior Moments

Today we will be moving from dining room drama to Opening Day of baseball season in the activity room.

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Gram in her throne pre-game.

If you know anything about me or my family—I tend to overshare here—you know that there are no bigger sports fans than me, my mom and my grandma (G.) Needless to say,  I am super excited that baseball season has started, and considering I don’t get excited about much other than food, sunshine and sleeping—preferably in the sunshine—this shows the magnitude of my love of the game.

And much like the bump on my nose, the love of the game is genetic.

Even though she can’t remember what day it is, G can tell you who played first base in 1968 and who pitched the third game of the World Series. This is the woman who Ernie Harwell knew by name at the games and who kept a mini souvenir Tiger bat under the seat of her Cadillac to ward off hoodlums that drove white vans with no windows.

So per tradition, I took the afternoon off of work to watch the game with mom and G. While we didn’t get to raise the Tiger flag outside as we had year’s before or hang up the banner in her room (damn fire code), we still had our own little watch party.

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We pimped G’s ride.

At first it was just the three of us. Then another resident got wheeled in, then another, then another until there were close to 10 residents and a few nurses—all women—watching the game.

It wasn’t like being at the ballpark or at a sport’s bar, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing—especially for me, considering my desire for social interaction is limited to the clerk at the grocery store.

A quick recap:

  • The crowd was comparably demure, most likely due to overmedication and not overconsumption of $8 beer. There was the occasional “whoop!” from me and mom (normal, but in a much more reserved fashion,) a “Come on my little sweetheart” or “Goddamn bum” from G (depending on the situation) and random bodily noises from various other residents (normal, but in a much less reserved fashion.)
  • My attempts at the wave were not well-received, or even noticed, as far as I could tell.
  • Stadium blankets were not needed, but quilted afghans were placed on the laps of all residents in attendance—despite the fact that it felt like an 85 degree day in that room.
  • There were no $5 hot dogs or nachos to buy, but the nurse did come around at snack time with her cart of assorted juices and munchies—free! Mom supplied the Cracker Jacks, a single box of which contained exactly three peanuts and one tattoo among the popcorn.

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Gram got tatted up while eating the peanuts.

  • Although a resident did have her “baby” (doll) with her as usual, there were no screaming children and no tantrums due to cotton candy sugar highs or the denial of overpriced souvenirs. My kind of kid.
  • Due to their decreasingly slow reaction times, my efforts to circulate a beach ball through the “stands” was less than successful—even more so than the wave.
  • However, the seventh inning stretch included a rousing round of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” that Harry Caray would have been proud of.
  • We had no streakers, but Geraldine did fly by the TV in her wheelchair numerous times throughout the game. She tends to cover a lot of ground when she’s on a mission, which is apparently all of the time.
  • Finally, when the game was over, there were no crowds of people to wade through or traffic jams to battle. In fact, considering that most of the residents weren’t aware that the game was actually over and were nodding off due to the post-lunch pre-nap nap they are accustomed to, they didn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere.

So even though it’s possible this was a closing chapter on our Opening Day tradition, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I take that back.

The Tigers could have won and saved us from the post-game overanalysis of a certain 89-year old woman convinced she would have led the team to victory, but then again, it was just another Senior Moment.

And she was quickly distracted with a chocolate bar.

Let the games begin.