Monday, November 30, 2009

Memory Lane Monday

Aunt Irene was my maternal great-aunt and the kids' great-great-aunt, but she was more like a another grandmother to us all. She never had any children of her own, but she doted on my kids, especially the little girls. She loved them all, but with every pregnancy she'd say, "I hope it's a little girl!" especially after Scott, Brian & Conor were born in succession.

When Clare came along, Aunt Irene was over the moon, and Clare loved her every bit as much. Clare was an especially adorable little girl who had Aunt Irene wound around her little finger. There was nothing she wouldn't have given Clare if Clare had asked. When we'd visit, Aunt Irene would always slip Clare a little bit of money from her purse. I used to dress Clare with pockets just so she'd have someplace to put her stash.

It got to be such a habit that when we'd walk in to her apartment, Clare learned to go straight for Aunt Irene's purse. Aunt Irene would smile indulgently and say, "Go ahead." Clare would fish into the purse and sometimes come out with a five, a ten or a twenty, and Aunt Irene would insist that she be allowed to keep it. Of course, we're talking about giving that kind of money to a one-year-old. We always slipped it back into her purse, unnoticed, later.

Aunt Irene was increasingly tortured with dementia during the last years of her life. My husband Andy was her primary caregiver at the end, and the only person that she still trusted. She died in her bed March 13th, 2004. Today would have been her 97th birthday.

Aunt Irene & Clare

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Annual Christmas Portrait Misery

HA! I WISH it were this easy!

Seriously, all the kids are around this weekend, so we will be taking our annual family shot tonight or tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to this! - not.

Last year's portrait session is here.

Artwork courtesy of Sarah, Prime Minister of Doodles, artiste/medical-examiner/coffee-shop-owner-in-residence.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


10:55 p.m. Tuesday night.

Everybody here is tucked in for the night, the college girl is out with friends, the 16yo is on his way home for an 11:00 curfew, and I'm happily settled down with Colin Firth to watch the end of Bridget Jones's Diary. The phone rings. I answer with a grimace, expecting it's Scott calling me to "explain" why he's going to be a few minutes late for his curfew.

Instead, his ragged, sobbing, panicked voice gasps through the phone.


And his whole world, and mine, gets turned upside down in a heartbeat. In that one split second that you wish with your whole heart and soul that you could take back, but you can't.

He was so upset that I couldn't get him to stop talking long enough to say anything. I screamed into the phone, "Scott! Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU??"

His phone may have been damaged and he was definitely in shock, so he could barely hear me. When he did answer me, he was able to give me a general description of where he was. So many scenarios flashed through my mind. My son, alone and bleeding on a lonely road. I don't want him to be alone. I don't want him to leave the scene. What do I tell him to do? No matter; whatever I told him to do, there will be those who think I told him the wrong thing.

I screamed for dependable Brian, let him know what happened, told him I was leaving and he was in charge at the house in case any younger ones needed anything. I threw on shoes and raced for the car. It was slick and foggy and I could barely keep myself from speeding. Only the fear of another accident, never making it to him, kept me under 70. Audible, desperate, rapid-fire, non-stop prayers were on my lips every second.

As I made the last turn, I realized that I had five minutes of dark highway ahead of me, and he could have been anywhere. I didn't know exactly where he was, and of course I left the house without my own cell phone, purse, brain. All I remembered to take with me was my heart - in my throat - and my prayers. I didn't know whether the authorities had yet been alerted. As I slowed to look carefully, my prayers turned into, "Oh Lord, please lead me to him. Please show me where to find him."

In seconds, yellow flashing lights appeared on the road behind me. I pulled over and followed them, guessing they'd lead me to him. And a minute farther down - or was it an hour? - I came upon the scene.

What really happened...he went off the road a little bit and before he could right himself, the wheels went into a ditch and he lost control. There was no alcohol involved, no drugs, no friends, no texting or phone calls. He says he wasn't speeding, and the state trooper corroborated this. He went down a slope and the car started to roll. At first I thought it rolled sideways, but after viewing the crash site by daylight it is apparent that the car tumbled, end over end, for about a hundred feet. You can see the scarred earth where the front bumper dug in initially, and the way it landed, sandwiched between two trees, seems to confirm this.

It landed on the driver's side in the woods down an short but steep embankment. Somehow he unfastened his seatbelt and climbed out through one of the shattered windows. He crawled up the bank, shoeless, bleeding, glasses lost, where an unknown passer-by stopped, sat with him on the guardrail, covered him with a blanket and called 911. Three more people stopped to help. The next car to pass unbelievably contained two friends of his who stopped and stayed with him until it was all over. Police, fire, ambulance, tow truck arrived.

When I pulled my own car over, I couldn't even remember how to turn off the lights. I just got out and ran into the scene, trying to find him. When I took my place at his side, he grabbed my hand and held on so tight. He was in a cervical collar by then, he was cold and shaking, and his face was covered with blood. Questions were answered. Details were given. He was moved to a rigid stretcher and placed in the ambulance, and I followed as they made their way slowly through the foggy night.

The hospital wasn't crowded and thankfully, the waiting involved wasn't interminably long. Tests soon made it apparent that despite his pain, there wasn't any serious injury, and five hours after the accident, we were on our way home.

He is resting upstairs now, in much pain, but the guilt and remorse are far more painful. The bills are already racking up. Even though he swears he wasn't speeding, he will be receiving a citation. But we will deal with all of that. My son will live to see another day and put this all behind him.

As I told him last night in his hospital bed, while wiping tears from his blood-streaked face - there was only one thing in that car that couldn't be replaced. My son would come home with me. I was painfully aware of the parents there that night, every night, who wouldn't be able to say the same. And we are grateful.

God is good. Thank you, Lord.

Three of the side windows were smashed out, and only one door opens. Scott has abrasions from the broken glass all over his face, arms and hands, and a cut on his head. Thankfully none of the x-rays showed any breaks or fractures. The car is unsalvageable.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Memory Lane Monday

Crazy baby Noelle

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Family,

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Memory Lane Monday

We babysat two boxers from March-August 2005. The kids have nothing but glowing memories about how great the dogs were, and how much they miss them. I remember little except for the dog poop in the yard, continual chewing and eating of inappropriate items, soiling of the carpet, and barking nonstop when we left the house.

The dogs did have their moments, though.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Watching TV.

December 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Memory Lane Monday

Daddy & Clare, Summer 2003. She had just turned two.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Memory Lane Monday

I can't decide if "whimsical," "playful," or "zany" would be a better fit for Sarah. Either way, here is a glimpse of that side of her, sharing her egg sandwich with her "best friend" Theresa. Theresa was Sarah's best friend from age 1-4, until right about the time that Theresa developed an attitude.