Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time to Grieve

Deana is the tall one in this picture. Most of you know that she had been battling a terribly rare and aggressive cancer. She is finally at rest after almost a year of fighting like a champ. When I looked up her cancer when she was first diagnosed, the stories were not good. I tried to find survival stories but most battles were lost within weeks or months of the diagnosis. Last December, I picked up Deana to go to a late night movie. Some of the moms and I have tried to do that occasionally after the kids and husbands are in bed. It is our only time to go see a "chick flick" guilt free. We were so happy thinking she had won the battle and just needed to recover. But she still had a pain internally that she did not like but the doctors were telling her it was most likely shingles, a common side effect to chemo. Her suspicions were confirmed a few weeks later when it was obvious the cancer was back and the doctors told her they didn't think she was ever really clear of it. They told her they had done everything and she probably only had weeks and to contact hospice. Instead of hospice, she and her husband Jack contacted MD Anderson in Houston to find out if they had any trials or any other protocols that could help her case. A few days later, Deana and Jack were on their way to Texas. They were given a small amount of hope and Jack and Deana said that even if it was a small chance, it was better than the alternative.
In Texas, she fought hard. She ended up in ICU several times and she gave us a few miracles. She made it through all the chemo, a stem cell transplant, and more discomfort than anyone deserves. She was trying to build up strength for one more transplant when she became very ill with pneumonia. There is only so much fighting one body can do. Her spirit wanted to continue the fight but her body finally gave in yesterday.
I was at Legoland yesterday just getting to the exit area of the new Aquarium they have there. We had to take an elevator down to get to the main exit. While waiting an unusually long time for the elevator to move, I checked my iphone for any messages from our friends who were on their way to our house on their RV trip. I wanted to make sure we were leaving in time to get home before they arrived. That is when I saw an email with a Deana update and from the subject line, I knew what the news was. I shut down my iPhone without reading because I did not want to make a scene by bawling in the elevator. Then I realized the elevator was still not moving. The woman near the control panel kept pressing the button and nothing. Finally the doors opened again and we were still on the second floor. A few more attempts and we finally gave up. I had to fumble around to get the stroller down a flight of tile stairs while still trying not to lose it. We make it down and of course the exit dumps you in to the middle of a vast gift shop. The kids start grabbing shirts and toys and telling me what they want to add to their Christmas list. I can't take it. My eyes start to tear up and I beg them to come with me. "It's time to go, we need to get home to see our friends!" I try to say this in a happy voice even though the tears are starting down my cheeks. I can only imagine what the other Legolanders thought about the crying mom, trying to look happy as she is putting all the toys and pink shirts back on the shelves and begging her children to follow her out the door.
As we walked back to the car, Sam noticed I was sad and asked why. I told him Zane and Zach's mommy went to heaven and that I was sad because I will miss her. He replied, "so they only have their daddy now?" I was worried this was going to freak him out since he has never had to even think about death. He was quiet for a minute and said, "Well good thing they still have their daddy to take care of them!" I agreed. He followed that with, "Mommy, don't be sad, you can see her again when you go to heaven."
Then Keith called and I had to quickly get back to the moment because I had to race home to make dinner for our friends. They were here a day earlier than expected and I wasn't completely prepared. So we entertained last night and I had to work first thing this morning. Mom's don't even get a moment to grieve properly. It doesn't feel right. I am actually looking forward to the funeral so I can have time to be sad. But I fear that even that won't feel like enough. I remember years ago at a friends funeral, at the end of the day, thinking, that's it? Now I am supposed to go back to regular life? It just seems disrespectful to those who pass to not really get time to grieve.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is it with Grammas giving kids sugar?

The day we drove up North, the night before my Great Gramma's 90th birthday, Curly and Papa had a little party so we could visit with a bunch of relatives that we would not have been able to see on this very busy trip. Since Sam just had a big birthday, they decided we'd celebrate that too. It was so great to visit with Keith's side of the family. They are all very special to me. I am so lucky I married into this group! It's like having 20 cheerleaders on my side at all times. They are positive, very caring, and lots of fun. And did I say, supportive? Sometimes I wonder what I could have accomplished if I had grown up with a support network like this. Not to say my family is not loving and supportive, we are, but in a quieter, Irish Catholic kind of way. This family has a lot of Italian energy that is just a little different and more exciting to me. I still love that I am Irish...oh, who am I kidding, I am pretty much a mutt and I am getting way off point here. My point is, Keith's loving family is Italian, fun and they love to push food on the adults and candy on the kids. For FOUR kids, they had 80 million kinds of desserts.
Aunt Lene made chocolate dipped rice crispy treats, chocolate dipped marshmallows, and these chocolate dipped pretzels.Someone brought chocolate cupcakes with candles on the top that Addie figured out made a great tool for getting the chocolate icing into her mouth while waiting to sing Happy Birthday.
Curly gave the kids bags with Ring Pops and candy scented bubbles.

Papa made sure the kids had nice sugary drinks with their dinner too.
Good thing Maddie is too young to get caught up in the rest of the baked goods on the table, like crumb cake and pie and who knows what else. All of this after waiting until like 8:00 PM to have dinner.

Now don't get me wrong. I appreciate all the effort and love that goes in to the dinner and all the treats, but you've got to be kidding me! Did Curly and Aunt Lene let their kids eat like that when they were young? Do Grammas and Grampas forget what happens when you serve late dinners followed by a gazillion pounds of sugar to kids under 5? Or is it all part of a secret revenge plan because they know after the party they get to go to bed and their children who deprived them of so much sleep in their thirties will have to deal with the overtired, sugar-high breakdowns? And, I know it's not just our Grandparents who do this. All the Moms I know talk about how their parents love to spoil their kids with treats. Or is it that the grandparents have a perspective we can't yet grasp. I guess they know it's just for a night, the kids love it, and it's fun, not to mention entertaining. I really don't know what their motivation is but I let it slide. One, because I love 'em. Two, because I know they are sprinkling joy into our kids memories. If only all kids could be so lucky.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rosemary's Grandaughter

"I am Rosemary's Granddaughter, the spitting image of my father..."

When I think of my Gramma, Rosemary, that is the song that always pops into my head.

Anyway, I remembered I had an email from her from about 10 years ago that she wrote about her life in the 30's. It is short and made me want more. I am going to see if she has any more written down...but I thought I'd share. We just celebrated her 90th birthday. I think she still looks amazing. She still has her bedroom on the second story and still goes up and down those stairs several times a day. This after having heart surgery last year. She's got good genes!

Here are her notes on the 30's.

The Thirties

It was the best of times: It was the worst of times. *

The 1929 stock market crash plunged this nation into the worst depression in its history. In the large cities, breadlines and soup kitchens were the last hope for the many hungry men, women and children. Although my family was far removed from any large city and I was just 10 years old, I shall never forget the struggle of families just to survive. There was no Social Security, so the young took care of the elderly, the strong took care of the weak, neighbors were neighborly, churches were filled, and when we sang "God Bless America" we really meant it. The lessons of the Great Depression served our generation well as we all learned that our first obligation is to pay for our living. It was necessary to take the shortest route to a paycheck. I was fortunate to be able to attend a very good high school where I could graduate with a teaching credential. My first job was in a ranch district where the school house was a little sod building. It was the last sod house in use in the state of Nebraska and was replaced by a new frame building after I had taught there for six weeks. My contract required that the teacher live within the district during the school year so I boarded with one of the ranch families. My transportation to school was provided. It was a horse. I did learn how to ride and truly enjoyed my morning and evening horseback rides during the two years that I taught there. I taught two more years in other one-room schools but no more horseback riding. Other things were changing, too. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a dictator, but a very benevolent one. He was criticized by his opponents for initiating too many reconstructive government programs, but they were effective in putting people to work cleaning up the countryside, building parks, regulating banking and commerce and most of all, restoring confidence in the government. On one occasion, F. D. R. was told that some sons of bitches were taking advantage of the programs for their own gain. His response was "Yes, there are some sons of bitches out there, but they are our sons of bitches." The president had other things to worry about. War was brewing all over Europe, America was trying desperately to remain neutral. John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" painted a picture of the thirties that America did not want to see: failed farms, parched earth, dust storms. The book and the movie were both at first controversial, but there was no denying that the conditions described did exist and the descriptions were accurate. Thus, the thirties ended and the next decade presented even greater challenges, but that's another chapter for another day.

* title stolen from Charles Dickens Rosemary 4/26/2000

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I don't know where to start on the posts about our trip. Usually I have some sort of story in mind but this time I am just overwhelmed. We did so much and I have not had any time to edit pictures this week. Work was busy, the kids are not in school, Keith was out of town, and the weekend was too beautiful to spend inside. Here are a few samplings from our week in no particular order.

This picture is Grandma Ranahan with most of her great-grandchildren on her 90th birthday. I think Regan (2) and Reilly (3) made it pretty clear they were not interested in a group photo at this time.
The next pic is Elise giving Gramma a kiss. (Most people type Grandma, right? I don't know why, but I realized I like typing Gramma much better.) Anyway, I was so proud of Elise for giving Gramma a kiss. One, Elise can be moody and she could have easily refused. And, most likely, it would have been a dramatic refusal. Two, she has met my Gramma twice I think, so she really isn't too familiar with her. Those of you who know Elise, know this is a pretty big deal that she is handing out a kiss to, I hate to say it, but a stranger, really.
My Mom, my sisters and I cruised around the capitol in downtown Sacramento. We walked through the halls and watched over some of the voting on California's budget which still has yet to be approved. My older sister found it painfully boring to watch. My younger sister and I were both in shock at how unimpressive the Senate seemed and thought we could do a much better job.

This is Yamile. Wife of one of Keith's best friends. Wife of his Best Man, in fact. Chris met Yamile (Pronounced with a J sound, not a Y) in Bolivia toward the end of college. He went back to Bolivia with a goal of capturing her heart and they have been together ever since. They have three boys. Two are twins about two weeks younger than Sam. The night the twins were born, Chris and Yamile's house burnt down. Crazy, right?! That is a story for another time. Yamile and I did a little photo shoot at the beach in Tahoe and here are a couple from that. Including a picture of me. I like being the photographer way better. I am not at all comfortable in front of the camera and I rarely like how I look in a picture...I made mine overexposed so you can't see all the wrinkles around my prematurely aged irish eyes!

Monday, July 6, 2009

We are back!

Wow! What a vacation! We traveled up north to celebrate my Gramma's 90th birthday, my Mom's 65th birthday, visit my other 91 year old Gramma, see my sisters and their families, bowl with my brother, visit with Keith's family, and spend the Fourth of July in Tahoe with our good friends, the Bowman's. Think we signed up for too much in 7 days? I did. Honestly, I was not really looking forward to it all. It sounded too hectic and not very vacation like. But I was pleasantly surprised and we had a great trip. I have many a photo to sort through. I will try to post some stories from the trip in the next few days, after I crawl out from my laundry pile.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We're goin on a trip

We should be here, at Casa Bowman right now. Hopefully we are having fun! I am sure I will have lots of pictures to post when I get back.