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As a child, every memorial day centered on the town of Oak City where my grandfather was buried. It was the town my father, aunts, and uncles had grown up. It was the town my grandma had spent the majority of her adult life. For them it was home.

For me . . . it was home too. Though I didn’t live there (not yet) and only visited a handful of times every year. For me, Oak City was the place of four wheelers and frog catching. It was getting lost in fields of rye grass taller than me. It was the candy store, the camp fires, the moon rising over the mountains,  taking walks without anyone worrying over where I’d gone and when I’d be back. It was childhood freedom.

And it was the cemetery.

We always went to the cemetery. We’d walk with grandma, taking our place in the family pilgrimage to the edge of town. Grandma always shed tears at the graveside of my grandfather. I hadn’t known him. He’d died before I was born. But I knew her, loved her, wanted to be everything she was, and if grandma was sad, then the moment needed to be respected. But I was young, and had never lost anyone I’d loved. The sadness was hard to understand even while it was being respected. I had no attachment to any of the people under the grass and stone markers. Memorial Day was festive, bright, and filled with flowers. The tears didn’t make sense.

Until later.

When it was me standing at Grandma’s graveside, when one of the biggest reasons Oak City felt like home was gone.

Today–twenty years later from that time I’d been forced to say goodbye, the tears felt fresh, the wound felt new instead of scabbed and scarred over with time. My aunt had bought little plant markers for when someone plants a garden patch so they remember where they put everything. She’d also bought a ton of flowers ready for planting. She put every child, grandchild, and great grandchild along with their respective spouses that had all blossomed under the love of my grandparents on those markers and placed the markers in the flower pots.

I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.

Grandma would have loved it.

So on this day where we honor our dead, I just want to say hello to my grandmother. Hello, and I still miss you every day.

Oh for the love of . . .

. . . my kids.

Mr. Wright is out of town tonight, so it’s just the Wright brothers and me.  Already we’ve argued about what will be on the television while I make dinner. The argument was over whether we’d watch the Disney Channel or Unwrapped on the food channel. I lost.

So guess what we’re watching . . .

Yep. Unwrapped on the food channel. I swear these children are not mine. Why would they want to learn something on TV when they can have mindless entertainment? So, instead of a silly but fun show about teenage wizards, we’re learning about how the PEZ dispenser came into being and about some odd new pancake product called Batter Blaster.

The elder Wright Brother wants Batter Blaster bad. He is our family pancake maker and the Batter Blaster apparently is the newest rage in pancake making. I hadn’t made my first pancake until I was in college, and here is my ten year old, scoping out new ways to fine tune his breakfast making experiences.

The younger Wright brother has determined he wants an edible bouquet instead of cake for his birthday because it’s healthier (fruit instead of pastries), and he no longer drinks soda pop because he thinks soda pop is bad for you. Honestly! I did not teach them any of this. They are totally on their own when it comes to this total weirdness. I now get lectures about my Dr. Pepper habits.

The kids teach me a lot as we move through our time together, but I’ve taught them some pretty valuable things too, such as:

  • How to cuss in traffic
  • How to brush teeth
  • How to critique the dialogue in movies out loud in the theater
  • How to throw tantrums
  • How to read
  • How to irritate people with semantics
  • How to pick up litter
  • How to be a sore loser at Monopoly (which I refuse to play with them anymore because they gang up on me)

As you can see from the list, some of the stuff they learned from me is actually useful. I miss the daughter a lot and, in spite of teaching mostly less than useful life skills, still wish she was around for me to teach. She’ll be home for the summer in just two and a half months. Yay! This whole child rearing business is one well worth taking on.

Oh and I finished writing the manuscript, Spell Check, last month and have already started my new WIP tentatively called Dream Writers. I’m into it nearly fifty pages and so far loving the manuscript.

The good stuff

I tell the kids I plan on writing down all the horrible things they do so I remember why I’m glad they moved out when they get older. But the truth is, even when they act slightly evil, they are seriously funny and I fully enjoy having them around. Dinnertime is usually the silliest time of our day. Settling kids into chairs and keeping all three of them quiet long enough that we can actually offer thanks for the food proves to be much harder than one would think.

It doesn’t make it any easier when we all have eyes closed and Murky starts breathing like Darth Vader and Bing says, “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” I try not to giggle, because once I start, they all feel as though I’ve given permission for them to get silly. Then it’s another ten minutes to settle them down again. But I can’t help it; they’re just funny to me.

Murky asked us if we were going to celebrate when they move out. Mr. Wright (waxing philosophical) said, “I will celebrate the life you have in front of you.” 

“So you mean you really will celebrate? Aw Dad! That’s harsh!”

And though Mr. Wright is right, I *will* be celebrating the lives they will be starting, I will also mourn the lives they will leave behind. I will miss the stifled giggles at my dinner table.

We play a game at dinnertime where we each get to tell the best part of our day and why. It started several years ago because I had a day where the publishing world had cut me to my soul and I could not think of one good thing in my life.

Desperate for something–anything to fill the hole in my soul, I asked my kids to tell me their favorite parts of their day. Each answer helped to sandbag the happiness back into my heart, keeping it from leaking out.

The game was so much fun for the kids, that they did it the next night, and the next until it has become a tradition. We sit at the table and each get to tell what we liked best about our days. Through this method, I’ve been able to keep my finger on the pulse of my family. Some days the kids can’t think of anything good. Some days they need the rest of us to help them find good things in their lives. But mostly, it’s a time to be silly, to laugh,  and to breathe like Darth Vader.

Yes, there are good things in my life.  They sit at my dinner table and make shadow puppets on the wall with their silverware. I am not lying when I tell them my favorite part of the day is right then and there, celebrating their lives.

Seven Meme

Karen Hoover tagged me a couple of weeks ago (see what a slacker I am?) And Tristi Pinkston tagged me as well. I can put it off no longer. Seven random things about me:

1. I Hate Mayo–and not just a little. I really really hate it. I went to a fast food place with my dad who hates Mayo more than I. We spent ten minutes telling the kid behind the counter to NOT put mayo on our burgers. Told him mayo was fruit of the devil and consuming it ensures a ticket to the hot place. It’s fast food . . . the employees are teenagers . . . what did I really expect was going to happen? You guessed it–Mayo. When I tossed the burgers on the counter and stared down the kid who’d taken my money, he grabbed the burgers, turned to the fry cook and muttered, “I told you they’d notice.”

Yeah. He KNEW he was giving me tainted food.

2. I once joined with my brother in a neighbor feud. We put a dead fish under the seat in my neighbor’s car. It was july. The high the next day was 103. I still feel guilty, even though I snicker when I think about it.

3. My husband and I almost broke off our engagement when we took ballroom dance classes together. For the sake of relationship preservation, we quit the classes instead. Years later, I found out that not only CAN the man dance, but he is pretty wicked good at it. What a punk! The whole unwilling to dance thing is his only flaw and remains a sore point with me.

4. I used to steal flowers from La Caille’s gardens in the middle of the night so I could deliver them to my grandma while I ditched school the next day.

5. I don’t think I’m a good role model for teenagers and I shouldn’t admit to floral theft in a public forum.

6. I still mourn the loss of Kaberry Kaboom Ice cream from ben and Jerrys

7. I’m happy. I mean I’m really happy. I don’t have everything in the world, but I have three healthy kids who make me laugh, one husband who alternates between making me laugh and making me sigh with adoration, a roof over my head, heat in the winter and A/C in the summer, and I found success doing the one thing in life I always wanted to do–write.

And I found when I really looked at my life, I am happy. Yeah sure, there are little things that trip me up every now and again, the house isn’t always (or ever) spotless, there’s a list of mile long of have-to-dos, and sometimes I feel like the little stream who sings and gives away and then dries up (making a tragic ending to a children’s song). But when I really put my life under the microscope, I can only smile with what I find.

I think it was last year when they did the census and I turned mine in, but for whatever reason the post office put a spin on that whole “through sleet and snow” oath and failed to deliver my census. The government hired some poor person to call those who were missing in action and ask the questions personally.  After I was done and had answered those ultra personal questions, the lady paused for a long moment. I almost thought she’d hung up. Then she said, “Do you have any idea how rare you are?”

I was startled. But I understood what she meant. And sometimes when doubts creep into my life ABOUT my life, I look at that beautiful rare family and smile. Oh yes, I am happy.