A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Places You'll Go: Day Four

In the spirit of going places, remembering Aunt Debbie's legacy and putting some positive memory to end our trip we decided to stop for a couple of days in Gatlinburg on our way home. Nothing says "We're in Gatlinburg" like posing with a great big ass bear statue I think.
My husband and I were chased out of our hot tub during our honeymoon by a bear here in Gatlinburg. Maybe that's why I'm amused by taking photos of bears with my children.
I feel like it was probably more along the size of this latter one. I can't tell you, however, as our naked butts were busy running and carrying our booze as fast as we could back into our cabin. Stupid bear.
Besides taking pictures with bears we did the requisite touristy things. We went to the aquarium where I decided I wanted to touch a jellyfish as much as the kids did. It was REALLY kind of neat to touch them. They feel quite lovely and smooth. Little bastards of pain of suffering in disguise is what they are.
There were also stingrays to pet - a lot has changed here since we came on our honeymoon. Or maybe it hasn't and we were just in "we just got married" shock at the time. I can't even say.
The kids always love aquariums but I think I love them most of all. I still have this intense desire to get in the water with these beasts and know them, like some Aquatic Dr. Doolittle.

Oh my god - it just OCCURRED TO ME THAT THIS IS WHAT AQUAMAN IS - he's AQUATIC Dr. DOOLITTLE. How odd. Anyway...
I don't have a lot of profound take aways from our trip to the aquarium. It was a nice decompression from the stress and sadness that came before.
Maybe it was just a respite from the world. It served us well if so.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Places You'll Go: Day Three

Once upon a time a married couple with a very young daughter bought their first house. They bought a fixer-upper that needed a LOT of fixing-uping. That was okay as the man built houses for a living, and his brother owned a brick mason company and between them they had both the tools and the talent for turning any house into a lovely place. The home they bought was pretty large, possibly too large for a couple with one child and no more to come, but still they got it cheap because it was in such disrepair.
In their large detached two car garage were many pianos. It seemed to be storage for a couple dozen pianos made at the Starr-Gennett piano factory. Many were water damaged, or had other damage and were hauled away. One though was kept and cleaned up. A lovely upright of deep mahogany, with real ebony and ivory keys.
When I was about 3 or 4, the man - whom I called Grandpa because he was mine, told me that if I learned to play it I could have it.
It's one of those pieces that a person hauls around with them. I once broke into my grandmas house when her house was being auctioned off by some evil lawyers (which is a story for a different time) and with some friends made off with as much as I could in the way of family keepsakes - foremost being my piano. I've dragged it across the country from state to state.
I don't think I've had it tuned in 20 years.
The factory burned down, they stopped making pianos and focused on recording for a time - first as Starr-Gennett then as Gennett records. What's left now are just the shells of the buildings that manufactured one of the great "material possession" loves of my life, my piano.
After Aunt Debbie's funeral we drove over there and I wandered through the graveyard of this great place, wishing I had seen it sooner but glad I got the chance to finally walk around at this place.
It's lovely, they've made it a park.
There is a greenway people run on and bike on, and apparently they rent the building out for events. We met a lady who told us they held her prom there. I kind of like the idea of that, the music lives on in the shell of the building now.
Some of my favorite things around the little park at the factory were the many murals.There are murals all over Richmond and I have to kind of love a little town who embraces color and art in this way.

It was a fun walk down memory lane, to a place I had never been. I guess that's how you know you're home.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Places You'll Go: Day Two

It seems like the places we've gone have been too much for sad reasons lately. It isn't entirely true, but you know how harsh words loom larger than kind ones? Sad trips loom larger than happy ones as well.
We rolled north, returning to our homeland to say goodbye to someone we loved and with it came all the stress of travel, the joy of reunion and the heartbreak of death.
Pretty typical trip to Indiana lately, I must say.
We rolled into the church right at 10 am on the dot, running late as is our usual in a family with two special needs children, and I was directed into an ante room where we barged straight in on the whole family and Aunt Debbie's casket. The worshipers in the sanctuary were praying, and the processional inside had not begun. As we stumbled in, the twins, Julia and I, I gave Aunt Suzie a hug and right at that moment Miles chose to shout "Poop! I need diaper!"

Well if that's just not a circle of life moment I don't know what is.

I abandoned two of three children with Aunt Suzie and IN HEELS tore back out of the church to find my husband and oldest coming in, deposit Miles with them "He's pooped!" and run BACK into the church just in time to direct my own children to the back of the church. It's always better to be close to an exit when you have two severely autistic children, you never know when someone is going to begin shouting about poop, obviously.

The funny part is, I wasn't embarrassed. I've lived this life long enough that I can't be embarrassed by autism anymore. I felt bad that other people had to be part of the crazy at such a sad and stressful time but, that's also LIFE STUFF and life isn't always tidy and reverent.

I also happen to know Aunt Debbie would've laughed.
The little town where the girls lived (we called them the girls, grown ass almost 70 year old women and we called them the girls, I don't know why) is a little sleepy town on it's way to really damn hip. After the funeral we decided to go wander a bit and see what we could find to see and do, and to let the kids relax a little bit.
We found what might actually be the very worst ice cream shop in the world. I mean, there might be worse, but one usually expects a certain LEVEL of ice cream at these sort of artisan little creamery places right? First see how GRAINY that ice cream is? OMG IT IS TERRIBLE RIGHT? It tasted worse than it looks. It was GRAINY. As though it were Ice Milk which is something you probably never had unless you diet or grew up poor. My grandmother wasn't poor but had a weird thing for it.
It's garbage.
My kids however, thought it was amazeballs.

Trying to use hip words. Go with me.

Here was the really amazing part of our day, however, the moment of meaning in the sorrow that happened as we said goodbye to someone we loved. Julia said "We're just like Aunt Debbie like that man said." That man was the preacher at the funeral and he had talked about the way she loved to travel, and how she was always going places, seeing the world, and visiting he friends along the way. "We like to go lots of places and see the world too," Julia told me. "We are just like Aunt Debbie."

Really, that's one of the best things I've ever heard. And I know she would approve.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Brief Pause While I Whine

I've been in this weird place between too much activity, too many ideas and not enough time. Thus I've got a whole series of posts written in my mind yet I've got to pause them and whine about myself.
It's my body. It's betraying me.
The betrayal in minor in nature, at this juncture. It's hives. It might sound like nothing and in fact it started out as sort of a rather run of the mill "Hmmm I wonder what I touched that I'm allergic to" sort of thing.
Then it continued, and got worse.
The hives arrive in swaths, on my arms, my legs, my back, my butt, my abdomen and now this week my neck and face. They arrive intermittently and leave after I get to the point where I think "OK NOW I REALLY CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE" they simply fade away. They come they go. They arrive when I'm working, when I'm walking, when I'm dining. They erupt during work outs and fade away as it suits them to do. I'm in some sort of hell driven by burning, itching patches of skin that are driving me mad.
I've been a good sport these past few weeks. I have complained intermittently. If you're on my Facebook it might feel like I've been complaining constantly but rest assured, if that were the case you'd have removed me by now. In fact I'd be over there complaining this very instant if that were the case. But my foresight in complaining on Facebook and taking pictures actually provided me with very good documentation and timeline for my doctor, even if it was peppered with commentary like "IT WAS MUCH WORSE THAN THIS I PROMISE YOU" when I shared it with him.
It's been going on for weeks and basically according to the internet I'm going to die a horrible death. That's pretty much all I could discern. I tried apple cider vinegar and essential oils but alas science had to come into it and thus I sat in Dr Sexy van Gogh's office today. (That's what we call him).

I was fortunate to be having a righteous flare up that he was able to watch come to life on my arm. He asked me a bunch of questions including some that may in fact end up being pertinent.

  1. Does Benadryl make it go away? Yes - for a while.
  2. Am I allergic to anything? Yes - I AM ALLERGIC TO ALL THIINGS THAT GROW ON THE EARTH
The latter is only a slight exaggeration. I'm the person that when allergy testing is done they can't exactly tell what I'm allergic to because the test they do on your back just causes my entire back to become one huge swollen hive. "All the things," is pretty much my diagnosis. The things which grow in the earth and the things which have hair and live on the earth - I am allergic to them. I am allergic to beef. I have ISSUES clearly.

An autoimmune disorder is a possibility however, usually autoimmune related hives don't respond to antihistamine as they are NOT histamine related. This isn't an absolute but - it's most often true.

I have to admit that autoimmune thing has me spooked. My mom had various autoimmune issues and I'm terrified of walking her path due to a bad DNA load that I can't avoid. 

So he took many vials of blood and is running the gauntlet of bloodwork to see if anything jumps up. He's changed my medicine to basically keep me on one antihistamine or another at all times. With a dose of another antihistamine thrown in. 

While we talked, he explained that if it's an easy diagnosis and treatment we'll just devise it and go from there. If it's complicated he'll send me to the right specialist depending on what the tests say. 

His opinion is that because I'm what he calls "Hyper-allergic" (fancy medical talk for allergic every damn thing) that one of my allergies has chosen to express itself in a different way. I personally might have opted for interpretive dance or mixed media art but I guess I don't get to choose. 

I'm sitting here zoned out on the antihistamine he told me to take earlier and realizing I'm gonna go full zombie when I take one at bed time. I was going to go run but I don't see that happening. In fact the idea of finding pajamas to put on becomes more and more dear.

I'm just hoping I'm not fucked in some irreversible way. This is not fun.


Monday, March 13, 2017

The Places You'll Go: Day One

When someone dies there is an insane amount of stuff to do. I'm not sure if that's by design to keep the grieving busy, plugged into the "business" of life, but it's true. There are people to call, there are things to sign. There are documents to review. There are more people to call.

It's about a year and a half since both of my parents died and I still have those moments when I realize I never contacted person X. I also don't know how to get ahold of person X, if they're living, where they are now etc, yet at some point they were a significant part of one or both of my parent's lives and it pains me a little not to have been able to share with them that they died. Sometimes it's simpler, sometimes it's just that in the overwhelming moments after their deaths, I forgot.

It was a lapse like that last week that caused me to find out that one of my beloved aunties died via Facebook. Settling into the category of "where was I when I heard" is now the moment that I was sipping coffee in my kitchen and scrolling through Facebook when I saw it. A condolence to one Aunt regarding the other.

Aunt Debbie had died. A frantic phone call to my SIL who had only just recently heard also confirmed the worst.

So north we had to go, once again making the trip out of grief.

I have a short list of people who have known me longer than my memory extends. I don't mean random family who have known of me, rather I mean truly know me. Losing these people is a bit like losing some of my self, losing some of my history - the bits I don't recall. They know stories I don't know and once they are gone those stories are lost forever. The number of times I realize I need my mom to tell me something or remind of the details of something are legion - and growing.
We rented a van because ours is still crashed up and headed back toward the land of our people. We went to show support and love for Aunt Suzie, and love & respect to our Aunt Debbie who was a staple in our family.
Kids handle everything better than adults I think. Julia loved her Aunt Debbie hugely but seemed, despite being sad, to accept that this happened whereas I'm still compelled to rage. Maybe it's because little kids whole worlds are dictated to them, they don't assume things could go a different way.

That's probably the fairytale of being adult - you think you could've changed fate "if only".

Post Script: Julia spent a lot of time trying to decide what to wear to the funeral and settled on this.

While it wasn't what she actually wore, I feel like Aunt Debbie would have truly appreciated the spirit in which this plan was made.