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Archive for the ‘Sons’ Category


The following is from a letter I wrote to my sons five years ago. I never published it then as I was too raw and overwhelmed at the time. I came across the email today and decided I could share it, though God knows, the danger has not passed. If anything, there have been far too many more incidents of violence since. So many that we are becoming numb. This email reminded me to remain vigilant and hold onto my sons, no matter how old they get.

Dear J and D,
Ok, this is not meant to embarrass you but I wanted to share my feelings with you …
It’s been an emotional week. The bombing in Boston, just on the heels of the Newtown tragedy, has stirred my feelings of helplessness to protect my children in this crazy world.
No matter how old your children are, when a tragedy strikes – anywhere – a mother’s first instinct is to want to hug her children, as if doing so will assure me that you are ok and that I can protect you from harm. These events prove to me that we can’t always do that and it is painful to know that you must eventually protect yourself as I won’t be here forever. And even while I am here, I can’t control random crazy peoples’ deeds. So I tried to prepare you for the world as best I could. But when unexplainable things like this happen, I feel so powerless.
Yet, in spite of it, I know there is goodness – lots of it – shown through the many acts of heroism, bravery and kindness when terror struck. And that helps maintain my faith in humanity.
But no matter what, I needed to give you a hug the moment I saw you when I came home. At least I saw with my own eyes you were safe for the moment.
I am incredibly proud of the men you have become. Sensitive, with the belief you can and will make your marks somewhere on humanity. It doesn’t take a lot to change a life.
So, live your lives fully, in spite of the naysayers and the crazy, deranged people, without fear and with compassion. And remember I am by your side, whatever path(s) you choose, and throughout your lives, whether I am here on earth or in your memories.
Love you forever.

Mom

 

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Why do we get more sentimental as we age? Is it the feeling (and reality) that our time is growing limited? Is it a yearning for days gone by? Or is it a combination of these factors?
I am joyful beyond measure for the time we get to spend with our family. It is so rare now to have them all together at the same time, and usually not all to ourselves. With friends in their lives, we are sharing our boys with other people. I am happy about the kinds of people they choose to be in their lives, and enjoy the young adults sitting around the dinner table having mature conversations. I love the amazing meals my son and his friend turn out for us to enjoy. I love the physical closeness phone calls can’t provide.
Then why am I also sad?
It’s because I know this time is limited.
It’s because they will be wretched from us once again – each parting as difficult as the first.
It’s because I do not know when we will next see each other.
It’s because we will be moving away from where they grew up, and when they go “home” maybe it won’t be where we are moving to.
It’s because all parents carry guilt about what they didn’t do even though the outcome was good and there is no logical reason to feel that way.
It’s just because sometimes.
So, now I will put it aside and go back to enjoying the time I DO have with my sons and their friends. They need help in the kitchen!

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My older son is a bona fide adult. He lives on the opposite coast, pays his own bills, has held a job for two years. My younger son is still dependent on us for food and shelter, college tuition, a phone and a car. Yet he legally becomes an adult in a few weeks, when he turns twenty-one. When he reminded me he was about to become a “legal adult,” I challenged him to define what it means to be an adult. He quickly agreed he was not ready.

Yet, to me, the fact that we can have these “adult” conversations does seem convincing. Both my sons think deeply about life, people, situations. They don’t act rashly, have good common sense, are respectful, helpful and responsible. These are the hallmarks of adulthood, so they are well on their way.

I was lucky enough to have quality time with them individually this past week. Piggy-backing on a business trip to CA, I spent a day and a half with my older son. I can only hope he relished our time together as much as I did. I felt particularly moved when he told me of a friend’s recent loss of his mother and said, “I can’t imagine not having a mother at this point in my life.” My sunglasses hid the tears that filled my eyes. Whether he realized it or not, that meant so much to me.

Upon arriving home from the trip, feeling so good, yet now missing him more than ever, I busied myself with work and catching up on jet lag and lack of sleep. A day later, I left with my younger son for Pittsburgh, for a fun tour of the highlights. We drove, so there was plenty of time for bonding. We spent day and night together for 4 consecutive days, with nary a cross word or bit of unhappiness. In fact, I was incredibly happy and he had a good time.

I know these days are numbered. Whether time, work, or eventual families complicate their lives, I know this may be the last or one of the last times I get to have with them alone. I will cherish the memories of this week. I also know I will make new ones in the future that will include others. That too will bring its own joys.

 

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It’s been an emotional week. The bombing in Boston, just on the heels of the Newtown tragedy, has stirred my feelings of helplessness to protect you in this crazy world.
No matter how old you are, when a tragedy strikes – anywhere – my first instinct is to want to hug you, as if doing so will assure me that you are ok and that I can protect you from harm. These events prove to me that I can’t always do that. It is painful to know I can’t control random crazy peoples’ deeds. So I try to prepare you for the world as best I can. But when unexplainable things like this happen, I feel so powerless.
Yet, in spite of it, I know there is goodness – lots of it – shown through the many acts of heroism, bravery and kindness when terror strikes. And that helps restore my faith in humanity.
But no matter what, I wish I could give you a hug right now. So wrap your arms around yourself and pretend it is me doing the hugging. I am incredibly proud of the men you have become. Men with integrity, sensitivity, who believe they can and will leave their marks on humanity – even if it is on just one person, it is all that might be needed to change a life.
So, live your life fully, in spite of the naysayers and the crazy, deranged people. Live it with gusto, without fear and with compassion. And remember I am by your side, whatever paths you choose

Love you forever.

Mom

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I deliberately used a question mark in the title of this post because that has been the reaction I got when I told people I was going to Pittsburgh. They would ask why and I said it was because I wanted to see It. They didn’t believe me. Except for one friend, who said she wanted to come too.

It all began many years ago, when reading an article in (I think) Business Week or some similar publication. It hailed Pittsburgh as one of the most livable cities. It defined livability as a place that offered cultural, educational and outdoor opportunities, with good housing prices and safety. Recently cited by the AARP, of which I am a card carrying member, as one of the best places to retire, I got even more curious. So one night, over dinner with my friend and our husbands, the subject came up. Before you knew it, we decided to go, abetted by our husbands.

We enlisted a realtor and told her we were on the first stop of a several year tour of potential retirement places. We wanted to see the housing stock and the city. We spent nearly two full days looking at homes and neighborhoods and one day exploring what Pittsburgh has to offer.

We were smitten! I saw many homes that I liked, and one I loved – mostly because of the kitchen. My friend, who is not afraid of taking calculated risks, said, “Why don’t you buy it?” I got excited. It felt right. There were several “signs” that I should do it, not to mention the mortgage interest rates being at their lowest ever.

I got on board immediately. There was only one hitch. My husband. Typically ultra conservative about any risk, as am I, I could not imagine him considering it. I would be able to do it without him, but I would face a penalty on early withdrawal of my retirement funds. It would be better to tap his, since he is old enough to withdraw funds without penalty.

All the way home from the airport, my friend and I sang the praises of Pittsburgh. My husband laughed in a way one does when not taking chatter seriously. When we got home, I told him I had something serious to talk with him about. I reiterated how much I loved the city. It had all the important elements I was looking for in a location: affordability, diversity, access to education and excellent healthcare, culture, good restaurants, an art scene, nearby airport and the ability to live in a suburban setting that is only 10 minutes from downtown. As a bonus, it was beautiful. Hills, parks, rivers, hiking and bike trails.

Then he said, “If you think you can buy this house for the price we can pay, do it!” Sixteen words that changed our lives! Not only did it determine where we would go next, it was the first time we took a risk – together. It is a calculated and safe risk – I did the math, interest rates are at an all time low, and the investment will hold its value. Further, time goes so fast and this next stage of our lives is only a few years away.

Well, the house negotiations did not work out, but I am returning to Pittsburgh to find another. Our paths have been forged and I am excited about it. Who knew, several weeks ago, that I would be retiring to Pittsburgh?

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I tell some of my dinosaur friends that they cannot ignore technology. They can insist all they want, that they don’t need to use the computer. They feel that their kids (and grandkids) should call them on the phone because it’s how they communicate. I try to break it to them gently. I tell them life goes forward, and if you want your kids to be in touch with you, you need to do it their way. I best love talking to my children face-to-face, and settle for a phone call with my son who lives 3,000 miles away. Yes, it is my preference. But if I wait for just those times, I would miss out on so many other opportunities to connect.

With the elections coming, everyone is abuzz with rhetoric about the candidates, the state of affairs in our country, their confusion over what is true and what is fabricated. As my son, a young man voting in only his second presidential election, is weighing his own values against what he is gleaning from the media, we text sound bites back and forth. Occasionally, a longer message is needed, and we use email. Then, maybe once a week; twice if I am really lucky, we talk on the phone. These small interactions keep us connected and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

My just-turned-90-year-old friend uses the computer to keep in touch with the subsequent three generations. One of her daughters is in the camp of “can’t or won’t learn the computer” people. I feel sad for all she is missing.

A reminder for those who are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the necessity of embracing new ways to communicate, is in chapter 4 of The Prophet, a book written long ago by Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese immigrant born in 1883.  It follows here.

On Children

 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Loss is always hard. We lost our dog of over 10 years last night.

Spencer just enjoyed his last stay at the lake. We knew it would be his last as he has been declining. My son took him and Sadie home on Sunday so my husband and I could enjoy a little free time without having to worry about being back for the dogs.

Last night he didn’t come running for his dinner; rather asked to go out. After awhile, my son called to him and for 2 hours, he didn’t come. He called us and was spooked about looking for him in the woods. We knew things were not right and that this would not end well. Our friends went over in the morning (thank you so much L&P) and found Spencer lying in the woods. He died during the night. They say some animals go away to die alone.

I worried about my 20-year old son – how he was feeling to be there without us. Yet, death, a rite of passage, must come for all of us. Although we had lost pets in the past, none was so up close and personal for my son.

Fortunately, Spencer was happy until the end. He never complained about his arthritic hips, and wagged his tail whenever we came near. He spared us having to decide when his quality of life was no longer viable by choosing his own time and place.

In spite of my complaints about his sometimes naughty behavior, he was a gentle soul; always trustworthy and loving with children.

We will miss him and only hope he finds Vita and Sammie, who went to dog heaven before him.

Spencer’s last trip to Tunk Lake

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