Sunday, June 3, 2012

happy to be living

You know, sometimes life throws you a curve. Okay, truth be told, life is just one long, big curve. But every once in a while maybe one or a couple of those curves puts things into perspective.

Curve One:
I worked a full shift on Friday, and when I came home Danielle wasn’t home. No biggie. Happens often. In fact, more often than not. It seems our employers have it out to get us. My employers work me when she’s not working, and her employers work her when I’m not. So I wasn’t upset when she wasn’t here. No big deal. Her car was here, but she wasn’t. Again, no big deal. I assumed she was with her friend, but I had no idea where she was. Well, the evening came to a close. It got later and later and I began to worry. See, it’s my job, this worry thing. And I take my jobs seriously. Late into the evening I texted her and she responded that they were on their way home. From where? I had no idea, but I rested easy. She was okay. An hour later, she still wasn’t home. The easy rest turned into restlessness. From where could they be coming and not be home an hour later? I called her. No answer. I called her friend. No answer. St. George is a little place. At this point, my imagination went completely into a flying frenzy. I finally called her friend’s mother. She told me they had gone to a play in Springdale. Oh. That’s why it was taking so long to get home. Again, I rested easy. A half hour later, no Danielle and imagination on fire. I was physically sick wondering where my baby was. A few minutes later, she called. She was two doors down and had left her phone in her car. Relief. A flood of tears. And then I could breathe easy.

Curve Two:
Then today, I was eating dinner with Danielle, Marissa, and Carl. I made chicken fried steak. The Pioneer Woman on TV made it look so dang easy. As it turned out, the chicken fried steak wasn’t great, but the gravy was groovy. Oh man, score! I’ve never made good homemade gravy before. High five, me! As I was eating, I took a big bite of the steak. As I swallowed, it was actually a bit much for my throat. I thought: no biggie, I’ll just swallow hard rather than be unladylike and wretch it up. Wrong choice. It wouldn’t go down. Next plan: take a drink of water and MAKE it go down. Second wrong choice. Instinctively, when I couldn’t breathe, I began choking. My kids tell me that I made a noise they’d never heard come out of a throat. All that came up was water. Nothing dislodged. I ran to the sink continuing to choke. Everyone at the table stood up. “Do you need the Heimlich?” I’ve often wondered whether or not I would have the presence of mind to indicate to another human being the “universal sign” for: I’m choking. Save me. Yes, indeed it came to my mind rather strongly. But I discovered that I must have dislodged it enough for a speck of space for air because as I gasped, I found a wisp of air. I shook my head and continued to choke and gasp alternatively. After a few seconds of that charming activity, the offender came up. And then I could breathe easy.

So I wish a lot of things in my life. I wish Life had obediently followed my carefully constructed plan; but today perspective has spoken. Today I’m really happy to be breathing easy. I'm just happy I’m alive. And I’m happy my babies are alive, and I’m happy my baby’s babies are alive. Life is good. Live it, love it, breathe it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I graduated!!!!

So even though most anyone who will read this already knows, I still want to document this important event. I graduated!!! Whoa!! What?! Yeah, I know. I’m still talking to myself about it. Oh, and to Miley. Sometimes late at night when I’m staring into the dark of night wishing I was asleep, I’ll start talking to Miley. One recent conversation went like this: “Miley. Hey, Miley! Are you asleep? I’m not asleep. Do you wish I was asleep? Do you wish I’d quit talking to you in the middle of the night. Hey! Guess what?! I graduated! Yeah. Me. I have a degree. A-for-real bachelor’s degree. Are you listening to me? Miley!!” She didn’t even raise a paw. I guess she’s getting used to me babbling during the night. Not only do I talk about it in the middle of the night, I also have some real panic moments still. It just doesn’t feel right to be hanging out with nothing pressing waiting for my immediate attention. It also doesn’t feel right to lounge around. I wonder if I’ll get beyond that.

Speaking of babbling, how about getting back on track here. Graduation. The day before graduation I took my last final and came home. Rissa was here. I started making a grocery list with the intention of going to the store before Shauntel and the grandbabies arrived. I didn’t want to miss their arrival, so I was hustling to try to get out of the house right away. Rissa started questioning everything I was doing. “Why are you making that meal? I don’t think Shauntel would like that. I don’t think Belle would eat that. How about we rethink this grocery run. Maybe you should wait until she gets here.” I argued with her, telling her I had nothing in the house for them, so I should at least go buy milk and some snacks for the babies. And that became my plan, but then I remembered that Shauntel likes to have some homemade wheat bread to eat, so I said maybe I should just make that right now. Rissa wholeheartedly agreed. Too wholeheartedly. There even seemed to be relief in that wholeheartedness, but right at that moment, I realized that I hadn’t really eaten that day because of my final, etc., so I picked up something and started eating. Danielle came in the room and said someone was at the door.
Me: “That’s nice. Go get it.”
Danielle: “I think it’s for you. You should get it.”
Me: “I have a full mouth. You get it. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Danielle: “No. Mom! You need to get it. It’s for you. I see flowers.”
Good grief! These girls were being difficult to me. So I gulped and went to the door. And there standing in front of me was Kristen’s boyfriend, Bruce, with flowers. Not that I wasn’t happy to see him (I really was, and it was the first time he had ever come for a visit!), but I knew if Bruce was standing before my eyes, Kristen was somewhere near at hand. Oh my goodness! What a wonderful, fun moment. I started screaming and hugging and dancing all at once. Kristen appeared from the bushes, and the screaming and hugging and dancing went on. They had all been planning this moment for two months. All of them had been keeping it a secret from me that they were coming. Well, they sort of kept it a secret. All of them slipped up at one time or another, but I only managed to catch one of the slip-ups.

About a month before graduation I got a phone call from the Dean of the School of Arts and Letters. The nice woman on the other end called to tell me that I was the valedictorian of the English department and that I would be speaking in convocation. I have to admit that I was a little surprised. I have one A-, and I was certain that A- was going to protect me from this honor. I was crazy ticked off when I got that A- in Advanced Oil Painting years ago, but then I came to adore that A- because I was sure it would be the thing that would save me from a speech. Where are all the 4.0s when you need them? About a week before graduation, I was called in for an interview to be the speaker at commencement. Right about now, can I say, “Whoa!! Stop it!!” See here’s how I look at it. I worked really hard my whole educational career, and then they decided to punish me by making me speak in public. And so I went to that interview. And, what can I say? I flubbed it. Okay, maybe not flubbed it, but I was outright honest and told them I’d rather speak in convocation. The valedictorian speaker in commencement was awesome. They definitely made the right choice with him. He was so awesome, I wish that I had a transcript of his speech.

So graduation day finally came. I practiced that speech every day for a week. Did I hear you say nervous wreck? Who? Me? I was calm as a clam. No!! Not true! I’m an English major, not a communications major. We English majors like to play with words on paper, not in the air in public. So I arrived with my little cue cards, and I sat down by my friend, Jessica. She told me I needed to be on the stand. She pointed out where I should be. I left and sat on the stand, and a couple minutes later, Jessica showed up with my cue cards. I would have left my brain behind if it was possible. Thanks, Jessica!

As I started my speech, I looked over to the second row where four beautiful young women and three beautiful little girls sat watching me. And I felt so blessed. How grateful I am for my four daughters who have become my four mothers. They have protected me, advised me, and loved me all along the way.

I got through the speech fine, and the day was finally over. I graduated! It took 34 years from start to finish, but I finally finished. I have a bachelor’s degree in English: Professional and Technical Writing. I keep saying it like I’ve never heard it before, like it’s some kind of surprise or something. I keep telling Danielle: “Did you know I have a bachelor’s degree?” She rolls her eyes. “Yes, Mom. I know.”

  Me with all my girls.

Me with Jessica.


So I had all of my girls together for a few days, and we did some fun things together, but mostly we just did what we do best. We hung out and lounged around and laughed a lot. It was a wonderful time. I am my happiest when I’m surrounded by these lovely people. I guess I should graduate more often. What degree should I go for next?