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Archive for May, 2010

This, being the end of May, I’ve been reading a lot about graduations, which makes many of us consider so many milestones. When your child graduates, either from high school or college or trade school, our parental feathers fluff up a bit. We’re all too happy to take some credit for their success, as we should. But in that pride also comes reflection on how they, we, got to this point in the first place. And go figure, yesterday while I was cleaning out my office (a monumental feat in itself worthy of a diploma!) I came across an essay I wrote about the good, and the “challenging,” moments of parenthood called “As Good As It Gets” published way back in 1994 when my girls were just three and six years old. (If you’d like to read the complete article, see my web site www.deannaadams.com under “Essays”.)

Reading it as a much older mom whose little girls are now grown women, I had to smile when I came across this passage:

“The real joy [of parenthood] is knowing my husband and I are the center of our children’s world. I love the fact that I’m the one they turn to whether they are happy or sad, and that they tell me everything on their minds—something I’m fairly certain won’t be true one they reach adolescence. This is the only time I still have control over their actions, when they believe all I tell them, and are more affectionate towards me that they’ll probably ever be in the future. Perhaps the best part is the evenings, after they finally are asleep and I sneak in their rooms to watch over them. I stand beside their beds gazing upon my little angels (see, the mind does play tricks on you) all tucked secure and safe and I treasure the feeling of knowing where they are and what they are doing. A luxury I realize I won’t always have.”

You know what? I was wrong about all of that. Now fully out of their teen years (when they restricted their hugs and kisses), our girls are still affectionate toward me and their dad. And while I was right about no longer having control over their actions, I like to believe they hear my motherly voice in their heads whenever they are tempted to do something they know isn’t right. And even though one has been out of the house and on her own for years, and the other has a job, boyfriend and social life, I still know where they are most times, thanks to this marvelous invention not many parents had back then: cell phones.

I was wrong about another thing, too. Those days when they were so sweet, so loving, so good-natured, didn’t in fact end at age 13 (though, as we all know, there were detours). Once they are grown, there are so many other rewards to be had. Happy tears to shed. Loving hugs to bask in.

At the end of that essay I wrote, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Wrong again. As we see our kids move on with their own life and succeed in life, if we’re indeed lucky, it does get better. Because we’ve raised decent human beings who will lead the way into the future of the world.

And that, my friends, is as good as it gets.

Quote of the day: “If I fail at raising my children properly, then I have failed in life.” Jacqueline Kennedy.

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Summertime Joys

As I write this it is 59 degrees and raining. Some would complain, but me, being a glass half-full kind of girl, chooses to think of the beautiful May flowers that will bloom as a result of this gloomy day. And June is just around the corner. So think hot and sunny!

Here are two of my favorite (summertime) things:

Harley Davidsons: 

There is simply no better way to enjoy and appreciate the land in which we live than riding on a Harley (notice I did not mention those other motorcycles, and there’s a reason for that – beginning with the vroom vroom sound).

I do some of my best writing on a bike (mentally, of course. Although I’ve been known to writing down thoughts while driving a car, I am now a notepad-free, as well as phone-free driver).

Riding down the highway clears your head, and makes you feel totally free, no matter what’s on your mind. I liken it to sitting in a church pew. It’s soul satisfying and produces great thoughts.

So naturally, people ask me, do I ride my own bike? That would be a no (remind me to tell you of the time I tried lifting my husband’s bike off its kick stand and ended up on the other side. . . .) But I do admire other women who ride their own bikes. And I know it’s never too late (but first I’m learning how to play guitar . . . one thing at a time). So that, too, is on my ever-expanding Bucket List. But for now, I’m content to let my husband do the driving so I can bask in the landscape and think great thoughts to write about later. 

Summer, as they say, is also the best time for reading a good book (although anytime is good for books). So in case it’s been awhile since you’ve been at the library or bookstore, here are some titles, old and new, that have enriched my life.

Nonfiction:

Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller

Family Portraits: Remembrances by Twenty Distinguished Writers edited by Carolyn Anthony

The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Small Wonder – collection of essays by Barbara Kingsolver

Teach with Your Heart by Erin Gruwell (should be a summer must-read for all teachers)

The Seasons of Women: an Anthology edited by Gloria Norris 

Fiction:

The entire Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes (though The Rebels and The Seekers are the best –in my opinion)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg (Wonderful!) and so is Berg’s Open House

Lily White by Susan Isaacs

Looking for Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (yeah, I know – but it’s still a good read)

And a really old favorite – Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk

That should be good for starters and keep you busy through the summer months

So get out the hammock and let me know what you’re reading – I’m always looking for a new good book! 

Today’s Quote:

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” –  Roger Miller

“Enjoy every day.” – Deanna Adams

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Those of you who knew my mother, who passed away in 2004, recall that she was quite the character. Mom gave me lots to write about over the years, and she’s featured fairly often in my book, Confessions of a Not-So-Good Catholic Girl.

So this being Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a fun story about her.

My mother had an animated voice and every phone call began with, “Heeelllloo, what’cha doin?” she’d sing into the receiver. She’d then tell me what she’d been up to the past week and this is how it the conversation usually went:

“Hi, Mom.”

“Oh, you’ll never guess who I saw yesterday!”

“Who, Mom?”

“Well, I was walking to Marc’s ’cause I was almost out of cat food, and you know Smokey won’t eat anything but that canned stuff. And then I remembered I had to first stop at the post office, and I wasn’t even sure I’d make it there before it’d start raining, which figures, it would wait till I was almost there . . . but luckily it held out . . .”

“Mooommm, who did you see?”

“Now, just hold your horses, I’m getting to that . . .”

When she finally did get to that, it was usually someone I didn’t even know anyway. . . . 

But she sure managed to get my attention on the phone when she called, in 1997 I think it was, to ask excitingly, “OH, you will never guess where I was today?!”

“I give up, Mom, where were you?” I asked, readying myself for the typical ritual.

“I was at Eliot Ness’s funeral!” 

Now granted my mother did enjoy having a few beers some nights (on weekends, she opted for Gin & Squirt) but this was a Tuesday afternoon and although giddy, she sounded perfectly sober.

“Come on, Mom, Eliot Ness died years ago.”

“I know that,” she said smugly. “But they moved him to Lake View Cemetery today and I was there.” 

Apparently Ness’s family was dispersing his ashes in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery’s Wade Lake, 40 years after he died. Later that evening, I would see this played out on News at 11. 

And indeed, my mother – who was not at all related to Cleveland’s former saftey director  – attended because she had an uncle who was such a big fan that he took her, along with his wife, that day to the funeral service. 

Yep, that was my mom. She was not boring.

I often thought, back then, that those weekly chats with her, and the stories she’d tell, often took too long, or was often stuff I wasn’t interested in hearing about.

How I wish now I could hear some more. For those are the memories I treasure most, the moments I truly miss.

As my mother, and probably yours too, used to say, “Let that be a lesson to you.”

 So today, make sure you “Call Your Mother” and bask in every word she says. 

And if you’re not lucky enough to be able to, tell your kids a good story about her. 

Quote of for Day:

“My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being.  I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.  ~Graycie Harmon

Happy Mother’s Day.

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I recently read an article in the Plain Dealer about how to avoid family feuds when a loved one dies. But it didn’t touch on why it happens. Probably because there is no clear answer. But it does. And often.

Many baby boomers are now experiencing the drama that often erupts when a grandparent, parent or sibling dies. The stories are often unbelievably cruel, self-centered and above all, sad—often even sadder than the loss of the loved one.  Because these battles leave wounds that never heal and can destroy a relationship forever.  

As my generation gets handed our AARP card, we also get handed a family tree load of heavy decisions. And to be forced to make any kind of reasonable decision while mourning a terrible loss naturally sets the stage for disaster. And while it never made any sense to me why family members would bicker and fight and destroy close family ties over money or material goods—especially when death should bring families together—it happens all the time. Emotions run high during these times of loss, and everyone has a different take on things (and sometimes take is the operative word).  

Unfortunately I know from where I speak. As one who was raised on the importance of the person and not the possessions, I never thought I would experience such a circumstance. But I am also one who has learned that we can’t control the actions of others, but only on how we deal with it.  We learn as we go.

I think this topic is of great importance and something we should all, much as we don’t want to, give great thought to. While we can. Some of the suggestions addressed in the article on how to avoid these emotional catastrophes include: Earmarking your “Stuff” (good word choice, here). Naming the executor you want to handle affairs (it recommends using a neutral party such as a trusted family friend or other).  To be aware of possible unintended consequences concerning your finances. And finally, to think things through and put it all in writing. All of which can save your loved ones more sadness than they deserve.  And a gift that will last a lifetime. Literally.

Quote of the Day:

“Selfishness has given birth to all our sorrows, heartaches, and tears. It has caused all the wars and other atrocities in which men take part.” From God’s Treasury of Virtues

You know, we boomers were right way back then.

Peace and Love Rule.

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You don’t have to be a professional writer to touch people with your thoughts. We all want others to know what’s going on in our world and share our reactions and feelings about the issues of the day. That’s why blogs are so hot now.

But when was the last time you wrote an actual letter? Come on, fess up. Even for me, a writer who writes every day, it’s takes a special occasion to sit down and draft a personal letter. The last time was two years ago when my oldest daughter turned 21. That was a special day I thought noteworthy enough to write a love letter of sorts. 

And that’s just sad. Know why? Because one of the things I believe we all cherish most is a written letter in a loved one’s own handwriting. I have letters from the 1920s that my grandfather wrote my grandmother. Letters from boys in WWII that my mother saved until the day she died. I have a letter my late brother wrote about his proudest achievement.  Letters from people who were so touched by something I wrote about them, either in an article or book, that they took the time to hand write me a letter telling me so. Wow.

And of course, I have personal cards with notes from my husband and my mother and children and my dear friends. We all know these mean so much more than emails.

So in this month of May, when flowers bloom and trees turn green and the lake that I can see right now from my office (yeah, lucky me) is a gorgeous blue, I want to declare this month “Write A Letter to a Loved One Month.” Tell him or her why you love them, what makes them special and perhaps a personal anecdote of your favorite memory of them. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Do it now. This month. It takes just a short time but could bring such joy to that person, maybe for decades. That letter might be read by that person’s child or grandchild one day, when they go through their things. And bring a smile to a grieving face. Wouldn’t that be special?

So what are you waiting for? You might be surprised by what you write. How the words can flow when you take the time to sit and think about nothing but that person, and the impact he or she has had on your life. I tell you, this act alone might give you the happiest month of May ever. 

I’d love to hear your stories. Who did you write to? What was the person’s reaction when you sent it or gave it? How did it feel to jot down these thoughts and feelings? Write them and then write Me!

“If you would not be forgotten,

As soon as you are dead and rotten,

Either write things worthy reading,

Or do things worth the writing.” – Ben Franklin

Happy Spring everyone!

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