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Posts Tagged ‘life’

18 years ago, I was nine months pregnant with my first child. This beloved and wanted baby was due in the early days of a new millennium – if you remember, the Y2K fear ran strong in 1999 – we were being told that all systems could collapse due to a programming bug that meant computer programs might not be able to recognize years beyond the 20th century.

Being nine months pregnant around Christmastime, I could not help but think of another mother, a young woman whose pregnancy preceded her marriage, who had not planned to become pregnant by someone not her husband. Mary was God’s choice of mother for his son. Joseph, her betrothed, was initially unhappy to marry a pregnant woman, but then an angel came to him in a dream. And so Joseph married Mary and stayed with her and raised God’s child as his own.

When I was nine months pregnant, I was uncomfortable and clumsy and I would think of Mary on that long donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I thought about the discomfort and the dust and the effort it must have taken for that couple to make that journey just prior to the birth of their baby.

When I was nine months pregnant, I went to see a friend’s child in a Christmas pageant – we arrived late and there were no seats. I stood for the performance and again thought of Mary and I thought of arriving at the destination to find “no room at the inn.” I thought of what it must have been like to go into labor in the stables, with no crib, no bed. I thought about what it was like for this young woman to lay her newborn baby in a manger, a feeding trough.

When I went into labor, it lasted for 23 hours; it was long and painful and at times, frightening. I gave birth in the hospital and came home to see my baby welcomed by our family. Ithink of Mary, laboring in the stables, with no family but her husband nearby. I know that she received gifts from strangers but she was in a stable far from home when she delivered her first child. She, too, must have had moments of fear and doubt as she labored to bring the baby to this world.

My son’s birth ushered in my life as a mother; motherhood has made me more connected, more aware of the links that join us together. Once, a child was born who was to be God’s savior on earth. Always this time of year I remember when I was large with child and I think of Mary and her journey to become the mother of Jesus. Tomorrow is Christmas and soon after, my son will turn 18. Tis the season for celebrating life on this earth. And tis the season for sharing our love, our care and our support with others.

From Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

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I posted pix on FB recently – and a friend from HS, who I’ve reconnected with thanks to FB, made a comment that my son looks like my dad.

It was an innocuous comment that caught me off guard.

Yes, my son looks very much like my dad. But my father died more than a quarter century ago – and there are very few people I see in my day-to-day life who have any memory at all of my father. He simply does not exist for anyone I’ve met since 1984.

So to have someone note the resemblance my son has to my father is highly unusual. And it made me sad. My son is so very much like my father – but he’ll never really know that because he never got to know my father.

Memory matters. Our memories of people are very powerful. When you lose someone you love, you lose the ability to introduce that person to all the new people who enter into your life as time passes on. My friend’s comment on FB made me realize that my parents, so important to me, are completely absent in the lives and memories of most people I see everyday.

And I realized yet again that the tentacles of loss are very long.

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Last weekend, I swam a mile in Lake Michigan as part of the Swim Across America program. I didn’t sleep much the night before – woke up at 1:30 in the morning, and because I knew I had to wake up at 5:30 am for the event, just couldn’t fall back to sleep.

Strange how the mind works.

As I drove into the city, my spirits were lifted by the beauty of the early morning. It was on the chilly side – not quite 70 degrees outside when I left my house. (The lake was even colder – 66 degrees, making the wet suit rental the very best $5 I’ve spent ever!)

Swim Across America raises money for cancer research. The Chicago event raised money for Loyola Hospital’s Cardinal Bernadin Cancer Center. Cardinal Bernadin was himself a victim of cancer – he wrote very movingly about his struggle with the disease in his book, The Gift of Peace. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it.

Since I’d never done an open water swim before, I was nervous – but felt confident. Then it was time to head into the chilly lake and swim for a mile.

My confidence vanished. I’m so used to swimming in a pool that the choppy waves caught me off-guard. It was hard to breathe without swallowing tons of water. Even when I turned over to backstroke, a wave broke over my head and I swallowed more water.

The goal – an orange triangle floating in the lake just east of Oak Street – seemed very far away. That was the half-mile mark – we were to swim out there, turn around and come back.

But I did it. I caught my rhythm, figured out how to breathe around the swells and I swam my mile. And in swimming north along Lake Shore Drive, I swam past the hospital where my father died of cancer…

Made me remember that time. Made me remember how much I hate cancer.

Made me very glad I could participate in a very small way to eradicate this terrible disease.

The day was glorious. Swimming across America (one mile in Lake Michigan) was a fabulous way to spend it.

Thanks to all who supported my endeavor – and thanks to my hubby for taking care of the kids so I could vanish for the morning….

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Watching TV with my kids this morning, I noticed my son fiddling with the battery cover on the remote. So, being the pre-caffeinated mom that I was, I crankily admonished him to stop, STAT! Or else we’d lose the battery cover and life as we know it would be done.

We’d have to get up to change the channel.

Now since I’m an “older mom,” I remember when we had only five TV stations to entertain us. I remember the days before the remote made our lives that much easier – I remember when we actually had to get off the couch to change the channel!

We hardly ever did that – we hardly EVER got up when watching TV except to go to the bathroom – advertisers had our full attention in those days….

(Thus, ad campaigns became deeply embedded in our psyche – My baloney has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R… Sing along with me, if you can!)

This morning, I launched into a description of my life with just five TV channels and no remote, culminating in my piece de resistance – the memory of being in Ireland way back as a girl, visiting my grandparents, back in the days when Ireland offered just a few hours of TV every day.

THAT got my son’s attention. The idea that a TV would have nothing by white noise for most of the day seemed astonishing. He stopped watching TV for a brief second to look at me and laugh brightly at such a notion.

Then TV absorbed him once again.

I may hide the remote, one of these days, just so he can live through an experience of “the olden days…”

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And yes, since this is June and we are only mid-way through 2009, this is a wrap-up of the school year.

It was a great one, this year. And the end of it leaves me a little sad. Last year (2007 – 2008) was not so great for one of my children. The teacher was absent so many times, she would have been declared a truant, had she been a student herself. The endless parade of substitutes (all different from the last) made a tough year almost impossible.

This year was different. This year, all three of my children had teachers who loved doing what they were doing. They showed up. They cared. They let me prattle on with my worries and my concerns. They created an environment that allowed my children to flourish.

And they saw promise in all the children they taught.

We live in a world where people in the financial community have turned “bonus” into a debacle – who insist that there’s no reason to work at a place if you can’t make astronomical sums of money, regardless if you succeed or fail.

Teachers – good teachers, that is – show how nonsensical the Wall Street way really is. Teachers make okay money – not great – not awful. When they do their job well, however, it has a benefit that lasts for a lifetime.

My children received a golden bonus this year for sure – they all had wonderful teachers who were passionate about their work and their students. A great teacher is a priceless gift to students – something no “bonus” or amount of money can quantify.

And so I end this year full of appreciation for a job very well done by our teachers – and a little sad to say good-by to people who’ve made such a positive difference in the lives of my children.

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Why it’s Bristol Palin, of course.

I’m at the grocery store yesterday, stocking up on celebrity gossip groceries, and I find myself inevitably drawn to the vision of Bristol Palin on the cover of People Magazine, wearing both her graduation gown and her baby….

Just a couple of months ago, Bristol was chatting up the failures of abstinence with Greta Van Susteren.

Today, the daughter of Alaskan royalty has become the most visible spokesperson for the “just say no (to sex)” movement.

“Think about the consequences,” she’s telling teen girls via the People story (because teen boys, as exemplified by the Palin situation, don’t need to bear the burden of parenthood.)

I’m just not sure that pictures of a pretty teenager and her adorable baby are the right medium for this particular message. She is, after all, a teenager raising her baby outside of the sanctity of marriage. In my opinion, Bristol has taken on one of the very hardest jobs available today, that of single parent.

And I’m not sure that pointing to her baby as an “ooops – I did something you don’t want to do at all” is the right message for any mother to be saying about her child. That’s a tricky road to navigate, frankly.

And I honestly don’t know how she does it. According to the People story, the Palin family has no nanny – but the girl has the time to take care of her baby AND study for finals too.

(With both Sarah and Todd working, I do wonder who’s minding the children, with no nanny or parent around to supervise at home….)

Certainly, with interviews on Fox and a cover story in People, it seems like Bristol’s post-high school career is taking shape – talking about the downside of having a baby, with her own baby on her lap. We wish her and her baby the very best.

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…But this is not a story about the winner of the contest.

This is a story about the evacuation of retirement villages that happened tonight so that AI could bring us some interesting entertainment.

I mean, come on! Let’s take a look at who we saw tonight:

-Rod Stewart, whose first album was in 1969 and whose sinuously sexy movement has stiffened into the creakiness of an old man…

-Carlos Santana, who performed at Woodstock – in 1969…

-Lionel Ritchie, whose career also began in 1969, when Nixon was president (the first term)…

-Kiss, who leaped into the limelight in 1972…

-Queen, whose lead singer, Freddy Mercury, died almost two decades ago… (were they auditioning Adam for lead singer, I wonder?)

-Cyndi Lauper, whose career was launched during the Reagan administration (though pairing her with the red-headed Allison was a brilliant combo)…

-Steve Martin, born in 1945 and looking as if he yearned for the adult company he finds on SNL…

Queen Latifah brought a kind of a youthfulness to the event – though she’s almost 40…

Back in the 1960s, the fact that Fergie and the Black-Eyed Peas are all more than 30 years old would have made them untrustworthy among the under-30 crowd, but today, in 2009, they’re the freshest, hippest and most happening act on AI tonight…

It was interesting, because in a show that imposes an age limit on the contestants – they can be no more than 28 years old – most of the performers on the finale had established careers long before the very oldest AI contestants were born.

And for a show that seems to want to capture the youth market, they seem eager to provide gainful employment to people old enough to retire. Talented folks, for the most part, but a strange collection of musical artists that upset all expectations I had for the show.

Are there no young people in the American music industry? Or do youthful musicians reserve themselves for the challenge of AI?

And what about that upset? Kudos to Kris!

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