Zookeeper of the Day

Greetings!

It’s been busy up in this piece. Just a quick update to fill you in on the goings-on:

1) Flash is still buried in the backyard. RIP, Buddy.

2) Dylan‘s football team won the City Championship this season!! Usually, the Honey Badger was playing in the dirt at the games, but here is a picture of her in the stands:

Honey Badger watches a playoff game.

Honey Badger watches a 5th grade football playoff game. She LOVES watching her brother play football.

3) I was so excited to take the Honey Badger to her natural (faux) habitat: The Zoo. Contrary to popular belief, at least around here, it’s not open on Mondays during November. Now, I don’t normally run out and buy my kids something if they are disappointed, AT ALL, but it was in it’s room sobbing it’s eyes out because I lied to it about going to the zoo. We put tights and a skirt on, and everything. I felt sooooo bad. So, I threw out the Disney Store as an alternative! HB didn’t flinch. She said she didn’t want to go, but I don’t think she knew how magical it could be. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Disney doesn’t make dreams come true.

They asked HB why she was in the store today. I explained that I broke her heart, and she thought she was going to the zoo. This Manager engaged HB and said she needed help naming some animals. HB, naturally, got all of them correct.

They asked HB why she was in the store today. I explained that I broke her heart, and she thought she was going to the zoo. This manager engaged HB and said she needed help naming some animals. HB, naturally, got all of them correct. The manager was so “impressed” with her animal naming skills, that they named her the “Zoo Keeper of the Day” and presented her with a gift certificate and a crown.

A very pleased Zoo Keeper of the Day, along with her certificate and crown.

A very pleased Zoo Keeper of the Day, along with her certificate and crown.

But, let's not ruin the moment by actually admitting we had a good time.

But, let’s not ruin the moment by actually admitting we had a good time.

4) Mr. Dylan had to get some new photos taken, and I will post them below. He and I ended up on an episode of Parks & Recreation, that will be airing on Nov. 21st. I hesitate to even admit this, because I haven’t gone Vegan yet, or even vegetarian, so I am pretty sure I am going to be kind of a fatass in the episode, but we’ll see. VEGAN 2014! (New motto). Just watch “Forks Over Knives” and you will understand.

DYLANDylan2Dylan3Dylan4

5.) Lastly, I don’t normally run out and buy my kids something for being good. I know, I know. #3 was well warranted, but damn if this one wasn’t WAY more warranted. So, yesterday, I had to drive 30 minutes south for an appointment.  This was a couple I had seen before, and they carved time out of their busy week to meet with me. The problem was, I had to bring HB to the sales appointment with me, unexpectedlyMy plea was not overkill, but simple in nature: “I will promise you the world, and all of Meijer, Target, and Walmart COMBINED, if you remain quiet the WHOLE time and do not ask Mommy a single question. NOT ONE QUESTION.”  Ok, so in reality, I promised “ONE” item to pick out if she did not interrupt my very important sales meeting. 

Here’s how it went:

Oh, did I mention my sales manager was meeting me there because I asked her to support me in this very important endeavor?

They answer the door –  “Oh, Hi! I just brought my whole entourage here (hee hee)…this little one was a last minute addition!”

I go to set HB up on the floor with a blanket, library books, a doll, and lots of doll clothes (that I gave her the day before – I found them in the basement….my own doll clothes from when I was little….)

Anyway, set her up and…….

TWO HOURS LATER…

It never said a single word. 

I could have cried. I did, in fact, as I carried her to the car, with 3 completed applications for business, 3 checks, and all her stuff that she spread all over their living room floor. She played incredibly quietly until she fell asleep on top of her library books. She broke my heart again, as my children do repeatedly, only because I can’t fathom how they could treat me this way. How could she have known, that today of ALL days, I needed her to be as responsible and absolutely perfect as possible?

So, I promised her something. And, she didn’t forget. She picked out a Barbie makeup kit for $9.99, and she and her Daddy dived into it as soon as possible last night:

20131111_195922 20131111_195917

But, of course, today is another story.

– HB had bath.

-HB got dressed.

-HB insisted on doing makeup on my face before she went to school. Ok, no problem.

-HB always has another plan. She wants to paint her face as a kitty cat before she goes to school.

-HB wins.

"Erin, you cannot wear makeup to school." "Wellllllllllll, Odette wears makeup all the time and paints her face all the time." "Oh, reallllllllllly."

“Erin, you cannot wear makeup to school.”
“Wellllllllllll, Odette wears makeup all the time and paints her face all the time.”
“Oh, reallllllllllly.”

As usual, HB wins.

As usual, HB wins.

Famous last words, as she walks out of the house to go to school.

“MEOOOOW!!”

“I’m Gary.”

Compassionate Creatures

Have you ever had one of those days where things were just hitting you from every direction, all at one time? Normally, I tend to take things in stride;  If I have a missile fired at me, I may be a bit wounded, but I dust myself off and carry on.

Yesterday, was one of “those days” where everything kind of comes at you at once- physically and mentally. My brain could only handle “INCOMING!!!” so many times. Call it a meltdown, call it just being spent, or call it what my mother would call it, “The Change” (too early, Mom!).  Whatever it was, it consisted of many tears streaming down my face, and my children not really sure how to handle me because they don’t normally see me this way. In fact, they never see me this way, so they had no idea what to make of it. So, given the spontaneous creatures they are, they simply sprung into action.

Here’s how it went:

  • Tons of hugs from the both of them. PRETTY AWESOME.
  • Dylan : Threw together a “Snack Bowl” consisting of Annie‘s pretzels, cheddar rabbits, yogurt, applesauce, and a kid’s drink. He promptly brought it to me, as if I was starving for snacks. Even though I was the opposite of hungry, DEFINITELY AWESOME.
  • Honey Badger: She made beautiful pictures of an Invisible Car, and a Spider Web. I’m not sure I would have guessed each of those on the first try, except Dylan labeled them in cursive.:) DEFINITELY AWESOME.
  • While I’m “eating” (pretending to enjoy, rather) my snack, Dylan disappeared to his room and wasn’t to be heard from for at least 15 minutes. Hmmm, I’m a little curious.
  • During those 15 minutes, HB ran circles around me – from the kitchen, family room, and dining room, it’s a perfect oval for children to run. In her case, she KNEW it would make me feel better if she ran that course, chucked the Twister “board” at my feet, continued on, and then chucked the Twister Spinner board at my leg. It definitely made me feel kinda better. On her final lap, she dumped “Baby” in my lap. I was pretty verklempt at that point.

By this point, my tears had dried up, and I was thinking that, as usual, my kids were pretty amazing.  I got up to go to the other room. and Dylan stopped me in the hallway. He was genuflecting, Tebow style, head down with something on his palm lifted up to me: He made me my very own Rainbow Loom bracelet.

Man.

That was pretty strong. I gave him a giant hug, because I thought it was so sweet. He grinned at me, because he knew I loved the bracelet, and I grinned back.

BUT.

The Honey Badger witnessed my embrace with Dylan.  All of a sudden, she let loose a gut-wrenching cry, and ran out into the family room with her arms covering her eyes in disgust and sobbed:

“I was going to make Mommy a bracelet, BUT SHE’S NOT CRYING ANYMORE!!!!!!!!” and the heaves and heaves of sobbing that went along with this was so very sad. Oh, man. I tried to talk some sense into her. IT HAS NO SENSE!

MOMMY ISN’T CRYING ANYMORE, SO I DON’T GET TO MAKE HER A BRACELET!!!!!”

Sean walks in the door:  “I was going to make Mommy a bracelet, BUT SHE’S NOT CRYING ANYMORE!!!!!

Dylan tried to comfort her and offer some ideas.  She cut him off:    “MOMMY ISN’T CRYING ANYMORE, SO I DON’T GET TO MAKE HER A BRACELET!!!!!”

Oh, man. I am NEVER crying in front of the kids again.

It’s hard out there for a Honey Badger.

Knowledge is Power

Hey there.

I truly didn’t mean for nearly 4 months to go by before my next post. I feel like I’m in the confessional booth: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been 4 months since my last blog post.” It’s been quite the ride recently. I completely changed careers, for the better, after realizing some things (or people, rather) just weren’t at all what they were cracked up to be. An opportunity presented itself, and I took a leap of faith.  After tons of studying for weeks around the clock, I passed the state licensing Health & Life Insurance exam and was certified to sell insurance in the state I reside. I work for an incredible company that sells insurance to school teachers and their families  – both retired and working, and also to retired public employees. I LOVE WHAT I DO. I am making a huge difference in people’s lives because of the policies I sell. I do everything from Medicare Supplements to Cancer Insurance (NOT a gimmick, as I have witnessed with my own eyes), Long Term Care Insurance (EXTREMELY important), Whole Life Insurance, Annuities, etc.  More importantly, the rates are extremely affordable as they are endorsed by a state association, and they are group negotiated rates. Anyway, long story short, I’ve been sorta wrapped up in my new career. And, that meant one huge issue: I was no longer working from home, as I did the last two years. So, we had to figure out what to do with the Honey Badger.

Well, I heard somewhere that knowledge is power.

So, we sent It to school.

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I am all for The Uniform. I think kids look much better and ready to learn when they are all tucked in, and nicely, uniformly dressed. However, you cannot cloak the Honey Badger entirely. She wore her vibrantly mismatched shoes, and flashed her lovely, little painted nails (each a different color). She displayed her beautiful feathers in a subtle, yet ingenious, way. Despite her flair, she was all business when she walked through the door. It’s been 5 weeks since she started, and she now owns the place.

Aside from the Honey Badger, we’ve had some other animal issues at hand. Flash, the PTSD hamster, kicked the bucket. He called it quits after a year in our home. When the Honey Badger turned 4, she received her very own hamster to torture play with. Her hamster is male, and she named him: Emily. We firmly believe that hamster fighting is not a sport, and we do not support it. But, sometimes things went on behind the couch that we weren’t necessarily paying close attention to, and hamster races/ homemade mazes / homemade hamster ramps might have been a couple of those things. We are saddened to deliver the news that Flash is sleeping with the fishes, but we want you to know that he is DEFINITELY in a much better place now.

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(He’s in this box, wrapped up in a Foot Locker bag [because “he liked sports”, said Dylan] taking a permanent dirt nap in our back yard. Yes, he’s in a better place, for sure. RIP, Flash. Hang in there, Emily.)

Ok, moving on. What else have we been up to? Oh, yeah! YOGA. Not just your Momma’s yoga, but DDP YOGA. We are doing the hell out of it, or trying to, anyway. We decided to take some pics of ourselves pre-workout. Don’t be jealous. It’s just that, we were really feeling it with our bandanas. We were channeling our inner Flash Dance. We ALWAYS wear bandanas when we do yoga. And, then we high five after the “Diamond Cutter” exhalation and a “BAM!” to the ground with our palms. The couple that does yoga together stays together!

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So we’ve had a major job change (oh, for my husband as well. He got a promotion, which meant completely new job responsibilities and learning curve), death of a beloved hamster, fitness regiment ignited, and two significant words that nine tenths of the population would understand : 

Breaking Bad.

We signed up for the free Netflix temp membership and dedicated ourselves to watching Seasons 1-5 of “BB” in a mere 30 days, so that we could get caught up with the rest of society for the Series Finale next Sunday. We came to the end of the free Season 5 episodes last night, but there are 8 more that we must watch to catch up, which aren’t easily accessible. We frantically Googled to see where we could stream them for free. If you were to bottle Breaking Bad and inject it directly into our veins, we would have breathed a sigh of relief last night. Instead, we connected my laptop to the flat screen TV and watched a choppy, crappy version of the next episode in the last series.

That’s all I will say about that, because I respect the silence and abhor the spoilers. But, it’s been a lot of sacrificing to get caught up, and a lot of serious dedication. A LOT. We feel we’ve come very far.

Lastly, I had a bit of a running list of some of the best Honey Badger quotes. I will leave you with some, not all, of those, as well as a promise to pick this thing back up and keep it running.

HONEY BADGER QUOTES

“Hey! I don’t hear that smell anymore!”

Erin, someday you’ll grow up and marry a nice man like your Daddy. “Then I’ll get my baby?!”

(Loudly, as in disbelief) “DO YOU KNOW WHAT FREEZING HOT MEANS?” No, I don’t. Please tell me. “IT MEANS IT’S FREEZING IN SPANISH!!!!!”

“I don’t like church. Why don’t you just take Daddy, and Grandma can babysit us.”

Erin, you feel warm. “I do? How come I?”

“Can I use scissors? I PROMISE I won’t cut my hair.”

From the backseat, while I’m driving: “Daddy’s awesome, right?” Yes, he sure is.  “He’s much more awesomer than you, right?!”

As always, thanks for reading.

Who Am I? What Have I Done?

What do you do when you have been laid up for awhile, can’t really carry a cup of coffee for the life of you, and every step is agony, but then you start to feel SO MUCH BETTER? Well, you would load your minivan up with a half ton of rock and haul it piece by piece to your backyard to create a majestic wonderment, of  course!

Two weeks ago, I got a crazy idea in my head and it wouldn’t go away. Our behemoth, 4-burner gas grill was just a giant stainless steel shell, whose innards had basically disintegrated. We used eBay and Amazon to replace the parts, only to find that we were spending more than if we just bought a new one outright.  Not to mention, we had my husband’s charcoal grill from his bachelor days waiting in the wings, but we got that sucker going and our chicken is still stuck to the grates (from about 9 days ago), womp womp.

We returned the gas grill parts, shoved the behemoth gas and pathetic bachelor grills to the corner, and I headed to Lowe’s with these two yahoos to purchase a brand new grill:

THE GRILL 933 start

Reading Grill Cookbooks while I “grill” (HAHAHAHA) the salesmen and “pepper” them with questions.

We settled on a Weber grill. More bang for the buck. Plus, I talked them into giving me 8% off, in addition to my husband’s 10% Veteran’s discount. I had big plans for this grill of ours, so I wanted something that was going to last.

Next, I watched YouTube videos and Googled incessantly.

I took a “Before” shot. I wasn’t totally convinced there would be an “After” shot by the time I would likely hose up my own plan, but you must always have hope.

THE GRILL 935 before

Before. So boring.

Speaking of “Plan”, I made an actual drawing of my “Plans”. My first ever, official Plans that I created out of my own head…and executed!

SERIOUS PLANS!!

SERIOUS PLANS!! These might be the most serious plans you’ve ever seen. View them wisely. Seriously.

Now, comes the moment of truth. I can’t do this by myself. I couldn’t count on my husband (he was too busy making kick-ass dinners). I only had these two to REALLY lead the way:

THE GRILL 952 erin lowes THE GRILL 942 dylan1

I said, “Guys, will you please stop being so silly and please just act like your normal selves?” And, finally (thankfully) they did:

THE GRILL 953erinnn

THE GRILL 944 dylan2Alright, so my boy just provides love and support, but the Honey Badger has REALLY got to get in there and HELP – in capital letters. Each stone was 12 lbs.; I had 100 of them. My Dad suggested I rent a truck, or do multiple trips. I said, “No! One trip!”  and just loaded them all up at once. I drove home with the hazards blinking and the windows down, because I blew the fuse to the AC in the van from the weight of the stones. Just to be clear (some have asked), I am pretty sure that I reclined my seat and had the bass bumpin’, although I was sweating and I don’t recall what song HB and I were swaggerin’ out to, but, we had PLANS up in that piece!! I was making things HAPPEN.

Honey Badger was making things happen too. She would have collapsed into a crying mess on the driveway if I didn’t let her help move the stones. So, maybe she did and that’s how I know this. Ohhhhhh, yeah, speaking of 12 lb stones… That wheelbarrow that we had, that I was planning on using to haul this shit to the patio, yeah, the, uh, tire was completely deflated, therefore rendering it useless.

Hmm. That threw a wrench into my project.

PLAN B!

THINK.OUTSIDE.THE.BOX.

THINK.OUTSIDE.THE.BOX.

And, here’s the Honey Badger : Even 1 block at a time was a big help. She’s my Big Helper.

THE GRILL 936 erin bike

Ok, so my Dad helped me bring my plan to light. He was there to assist and light a fire under me. We could have gone round and round about how this was going to go. But, he likes to Get ‘er Done, and I like to, well, procrastinate and chat. We busted a move and got the stones set up, took a picture, then tore them down. We built it back up and glued it together, piece by piece. We marveled at what we accomplished, yet acknowledged we may have sped the process up a bit and so we aren’t exactly at 90 degrees in some spots. Oh well. I think he was just extremely impressed with my work ethic on the job site and couldn’t see past that.

And then, my father left me on my own. “Sink or swim”, he thought. This is pretty much how he raised me anyway, thank God.

So, I swam for dear life.

I can’t draw a stick person to save my life, but I measured, drew precise pencil lines that weren’t actually precise, tried to erase them, gave up on the eraser, went through an entire package of baby wipes (Kirkland brand, from Costco,- I cleaned my entire van out with them the other day – they can be utilized in ANY situation)  and sent my husband to Lowe’s to have the tiles cut down to my “exact” pencil markings.

Next, I needed more tiles cut. But, in a moment’s notice, I had to draw my lines there on the spot, at Lowe’s. I asked for a pencil and tape measure. They gave me a “grease pencil”. That went over well. The grease pencil was gigantic compared to my small pencil at home. So, I made a lot of noise using their ink pen to draw my lines, much to their dismay. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

THE GRILL 977 lowes pen

Ok, ok, ok. So – I started this little project with the Honey Badger in tow on Tuesday. After many days of rearing the children, working from home, and the everyday stuff in the middle, I finished the project tonight (Saturday). It really is a 2 day project. Knowing what I know now, I could do this in no time. I feel so completely empowered, I just want to stand on the damn thing with flames shooting out from behind me shouting, “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!!!”. But, I don’t think my neighbors would like that. Plus, the dogs would go crazy everywhere and cause quite a stir.

Here’s the finished product. Disclaimer: Once again, I must credit my father with the awesome wisdom and time he provided to the project. I will say, though, that the tile part was completely independent of anyone but myself. I have never tiled anything in my life, so this was quite an achievement. I want to tile the shit out of anything and everything now! I want to tile the backyard!!!

Here are the final pictures:

THE GRILL 985 FINAL

THE GRILL 987 side

I especially want to say that that this project makes our back porch so versatile. I made it so that, during the wintertime, the grill could slide back, and we can store it in the garage. More importantly, this brick wall becomes The Most Amazing Snowball Shelter in the History of Mankind.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at my oldest below, demonstrating just how awesome it will be:

THE GRILL 991 Sean

Mother

I dedicate my post today to my Mom. Of course, in my younger years, she was lovingly referred to as Mommy. (Even my 4 year old is already phasing out Mommy, and replacing it with Mom. I’m not sure why I’m offended, but I am.) Besides being a mother, she is known by many different names, some more colorful than others, all equally meaningful to the person speaking of her.

“Katy” – by her loving husband.

“Aunt Katy” – by her many nieces and nephews that have always adored her.

“Chatty Cathy” – by her extremely funny children.

“Grandma” – by most of her eight grandchildren.

“Kiki” – by 2 of her 8 grandchildren.

“Grammy” – by one, little Honey Badger.

“Daughter” – spoken from the lips of her Father, but only until the age of 3 when he was taken from earth. And, most certainly spoken with elation when her mother gave birth to a girl, after 5 boys preceded her.

“Sister” – spoken by her 5 brothers, each of whom have passed this life before her.

“Friend” – the many, many friends she has touched over the years, and the close ones she relishes today.

But, if there is one title she deserves, it is that of “Mother”. You see, that is how she always referred to her own Mom. I have always found it to be a very reverent title for a woman, my grandmother, that symbolized the epitome of strength.   Her name was Sarah Nadine. At least, that was the new name she chose for herself after she left behind a life of torment, walked from Ohio to Indiana by herself, got a job, and married a man 16 years her senior. Together, they were raising 6 children, until his sudden passing. Poor and alone, she did the best she could to feed her family. She never learned how to drive; she walked, or took the bus wherever she needed to go. She, in fact, walked to church every single day. She had weak knees, but her faith was stronger. I once found myself in a small church in Rome; I believe it was called the Scala Sancta. They had a staircase that Jesus walked on to his way to Pontius Pilate. It contained drops of his blood, and was encased in a protective case. I saw little, old ladies on their knees, going up each step, one by one. It was difficult with my prosthesis, but I went up those stairs one at a time for my grandmother. She would have. She was a woman of devotion and endless love for others. Once, she had just enough money to buy groceries when she boarded the bus with my Mom. But, a little girl boarded as well, and she had no shoes and she was dirty. My grandmother insisted they get off at the next stop, and they took the little girl and spent all their grocery money to buy her new shoes. This was the kind of selfless person my grandmother was, and passed along to my own mother. My mom would give the clothes off her back to her children, her nieces and nephews, her husband, or her friends. She has given countless time and energy to making each of her grandchildren feel loved. When my aunt was dying from cancer in a hospital in California, she and my Dad drove my cousins to the airport to send them on a plane so they could be there for their final goodbyes. My Mom decided, in that moment, that she was boarding the plane as well. She had no clothes, no toothbrush, but she provided an amazing amount of support that came from the depths of her amazing soul.

I believe that there are two kinds of people in this world; those that have lost a parent, and those who have not. I cannot even fathom losing my Mom. My heart goes out to the many people today that I hold dear that are celebrating this day with an ache in their heart that I am sure will never, ever go away. I will be one of those people one day, and so I take each moment I can to relish my relationship with my Mother. I find that my relationship with my Mom means more to me today than it ever has. I appreciate each visit, each moment, each conversation.

So, today, I want to say – I love you, Mother. I am humbled to be your daughter. My children are privileged to have you in their life in such a meaningful way, and I hope that I have made you proud. You are incredibly beautiful inside and out.

Love,

Your Daughter.

 

Katy (2)

A Letter to the Man that Altered the Course of My Life

I’ve had a bit of a rough time lately, which explains my absence  here, so I thought I would make this a cathartic post and move on. I seemed to have misplaced my humor, and I’m looking to discover it again. This letter is long overdue.

Dear Mr. , (I don’t even know your name, because I never wanted to remember it.)

It’s coming up on the 23rd year of our accident. I say “our” because you were involved too. In fact, you were the one that was behind the wheel of the vehicle that was traveling over 55mph when you struck me and my best friend, Kim. I’m not sure what your plans were for that day, April 29th, 1990, but we just wanted to cross the street to get to Dairy Queen. Instead of settling into a sticky booth for some cold, tasty treat, it was the hot tire of your car that I woke up to, slowly opening my eyes up to the vast, blue sky, wondering if I was dead. The heat of your car pulsating through my body, and the screams and cries of my dear friend for her Mom, were the first rape of my senses. She remembers nothing; I remember everything. Twenty three years later, I can still recall exactly what that heat felt like. I wanted to comfort my friend, but I couldn’t speak. I turned to reach for her and all I could see was her leg split wide open. She was too far from me to touch her. I didn’t cry at all. I understand this to be called “shock”.  I just wanted to escape from the heat, so I tried to roll away from the car. It was then that I looked down and saw my leg. Gone. I looked up to the pristine sky and thought that I might vomit. Man, I hate throwing up, I thought. A nice pregnant lady, very pregnant in fact, was suddenly next to me telling me not to move. She kept gently telling me to stay still. She asked me questions and I heard my voice calmly answer them. What was my name? Where did I live? She was wearing a beautiful, flowing dress with flowers on it. The sun was shining directly above her on that beautiful spring afternoon. I held her hand, and she held mine.

I often wonder what you did that morning. Kim and I went to church with my parents. (Later, the woman that sat behind us in church would make it her mission to visit me constantly at the hospital. She dubbed herself my “Guardian Angel” simply because sitting behind us at church, hours before our own personal massacre, equated to perpetually “watching over us”. I found her to be extremely annoying and often wished she would go away.) Kim had spent the night at my house. We couldn’t wait to take a walk on our own; we would laugh and talk all the way to the local DQ. More importantly, we could smoke our menthol cigarettes stuffed in my green, leather Liz Claiborne purse. That purse was the only item of mine that survived the scene, and it was the first thing I saw upon my return home from my month long stay in the hospital. (Once I made it up the stairs to my bedroom, anyway. That took more effort than you could possibly imagine.) Innocently, it sat on the dresser in my room. I promptly threw it away.

Do you happen to recall our age? We were 15. The nurses said I had the best tan lines they’d ever seen. We had just returned back from Spring Break in Gulf Shores, Alabama the week prior. I was wearing my new clothes that my Mom bought me for vacation: white shorts, new Keds, and my favorite: a long sleeve, button down shirt with tiny flowers all over it. I loved the colors. It looked good against my “tan”. (Let’s be honest, I don’t really tan. But, I did get some nice color on that vacation. My pale skin usually just burns. The night before the Turn-a-Bout Dance – also our Freshman year of high school- Kim stayed up all night with me putting cold, wet wash cloths all over me to cool down my burn from the tanning bed. She was so sweet to me. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to comfort her, and she me, in the hospital because we were in separate wings. Only once was I wheeled to her room to hold her hand.)  Anyway, I remember the EMT’s cutting my clothes off me on the street. I really liked that shirt. It was from The Gap.

I never did get the real story on what happened. Apparently, it made national, even world, headlines because it was so “bizarre” that a bird hit the windshield and you slammed into 2 girls and pinned them to a guardrail. That’s quite a distraction, must have been one giant bird. However, other witnesses say that you were arguing with your wife and weren’t paying attention to the road.

No matter what happened that day, I spent 22 years forgiving you. I was never out for blood. I never wanted to seek revenge. I imagined that you must have felt awful. But, I recently found out that you passed away, and that kind of pissed me off. You went the rest of your life without ever having apologized or, at the very least, just touched base to see if we were OK. No visit to the hospital. No letter in the mail. Speaking of mail, I got letters in the mail from Vice President Dan Quayle, and Senator Ted Kennedy. They found the time to write, acknowledge what a devastating injury I had, and offer words of wisdom. (I believe this goes back to the “Bizarre Bird Hits Windshield!” media coverage that our accident garnered.)

My Dad walked up on the scene. He loves working out in the yard, and yes, it was a beautiful day. He heard the sirens and decided to take a stroll to see what was going on. We were already gone – Kim by helicopter, and me in the ambulance. (At this point, I drifted in and out of consciousness, but quite clearly recall hearing them radio ahead to Methodist Hospital, saying that they had my severed leg on ice.) A police officer swiftly drove my father home to deliver the news to and collect my mother. You have children, don’t you? Have you ever been put in the position of thinking that your child was dead? That’s what my family thought as they arrived at the hospital. No one would give them a solid answer for hours. Did you ever tell your children what happened? Were we a cautionary tale to them? If so, that’s fine. It means we mattered enough to you to speak of us. All in all, we didn’t ask much of you, did we? Your insurance company took a very small hit in the grand scheme of things, and guess what? That money ran out a loooooong time ago. I have a lifelong disability, and with that comes lifelong medical bills. Today, I am still struggling just to be ambulatory, and perhaps that’s why I am feeling really ticked off lately.

I can roll with the punches here and there. I can rise to the challenge with the best of them. But, I am having a new prosthesis made right now and it’s really taking a toll on me. As you sailed through the years, did you ever stop and wonder how I was doing? Do you have any idea how tedious and frustrating  it is to have a new prosthesis made every few years? Since mine was a tragic amputation, I woke up to nurses and doctors telling me just how “lucky” I was to have my knee. And so, the stump of my leg is so short that every fitting is agonizing. I also have quite a bit of skin grafting where they put the rest of my leg back together. My bottom (my kids say “butt”, and then I tell them that “we say bottom”) still hurts from where they took the skin for the grafting, isn’t that weird? My left arm was nearly severed, and I have a nice chunk missing from my ankle. The scar under my arm really annoys the shit out of me,  but the other scars on my body aren’t too bad. But, back to the prosthesis. I was hoping to have a new leg made so that I could run. I really want to run. I am in charge of planning the Indy GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Club Trip to Ireland this July, and I was counting on going as a player, not just the planner. Well, the first Hurling practice was a few nights ago, and I am sitting here on my ass with my leg off and a nickel sized blister on the end of my leg. I might have to go on antibiotics due to infection. This is from my new prosthesis. My current prosthesis is not even wearable due to breakdown. I’m sitting here with a new $24,910 prosthetic leg that I can’t do shit with. The new prosthesis being a completely standard, no frills, no electronics, no ‘sweet blade for running in the Olympics’ type model. (By the way, Fuck You Oscar Pistorius. You had a plethora of resources available to you and you squandered them all.) A few days from now, I’ll head to my appointment so we can talk about where we go from here. I already had to stay off my leg for over a week because of a sore that was healing, when I tripped over our entry-way rug and landed right on the end of my leg. Yes, sir. In order to describe the pain for you, as a man, I would imagine it’s like getting hit in the balls with a sledgehammer. Does that make you feel nauseous? Ok, then that’s how it felt. For at least a week. So, once I healed up from that, then I was ready to keep moving forward with this new leg. And, well, here I am. (My husband wadded up the rug right then and there, and threw it away, so it’s not an issue for me anymore.)

So, here we are. You are deceased, but I’m writing a letter to you. I sure wish I knew how you felt about us all the years that you were living. I saw on Oprah all the time how important it was to “FORGIVE”, but I don’t really feel like following along. I’m not much of a follower. I would rather tell you this : Thank You. When I put my oldest child to sleep at night, every now and then, I remind him of this: If my accident had never happened, and he interrupts, “I know, I know, I know, then you wouldn’t have had me!” and he reiterates how awesome it is that my accident happened because we are all here now. Believe it, because it’s true.

I do sincerely, with all my heart, believe that all things are meant to be. I believe that I have learned so much from my experience, and that I would not have the family and friends that I do now, if things did not flow in my life as they have. Every one of us faces some sort of struggle, or multiple struggles, at once – whether it’s a parent, child, friend, or neighbor. I am blessed to have been given this challenge in life because it has introduced me to the people that I adore and love, and call Home.

In the infamous words of the Beatles, “All You Need is Love”, and I feel that with my own family.

However, my daughter might shape it even better:

“I love you, Mommy! I love you even when your leg is off!”

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.