Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Daughter I never had.....

The year was 1982 and I was 20 years old and my sister Carmen was 30. We were sitting at the pizza shop having a slice with extra cheese when she tells me that she is pregnant (and unwed) and she was wanting advice from me (yeah right) on how to break the news to our very Catholic, strict and at times puritan mother. I am not sure that I was able to provide much insight or good advice while choking on my extra cheese pizza but my mother did handle it well. Hence the birth of my beautiful niece Veronica, there should be
not misunderstanding for any family that may read this, that all our nephews and nieces are very loved and beautiful, but Veronica practically lived with us from the time of her unexpected yet delightful birth.

My sister being a single parent and let's just say inexperience in any form of res
ponsibility required much help. I being the "all about me" 20 year old thought its her baby, she'll handle it. Problem occurred when my sister came home from the hospital and with her she brought this little pink doll of a child with black curls that made you think of the softest black fur. This baby, so small, and smelling like warm honey on a summer day stole my heart forever. I fell in love and there was no turning back.

My mother became Veronica's permanent baby sister/grandma. I became her watcher, protector and teacher of sorts. Veronica grew and amazed us with her every accomplishment. We were her captive and loving audience. When my sister worked on the weekends I would take over for my mom. She brought joy in ways that I cannot explain but in the way that only small children do with their joy, laughter, and simple curiosity and innocence.

In 1987, I got married and moved to Long Island, Veronica would spend summers and most school breaks with me. The move was very difficult for the two of us. At one point I selfishly asked my sister if I could keep her during the week (so that I was ensured that she would go to a good school) and I would take her back on the weekends. My sister was terribly insulted with this and in retrospect I understand. I worried constantly about my niece and wanted to provide her with the things that my sister could not. My sister understood that it was all out of love and allowed me t
o do so. I took my niece to her first symphony, her first play and first night club. She had her first glass of wine with me and came to me with her many questions about love.

Veronica is 24 now and has had many challenges in her life but she is enormously loved, she's in College (for Speech Pathology), and she's in love. She is a sensible, smart, kind, beautiful girl with a laugh that
makes you want to embrace her for making you smile. A year ago Veronica started dating Nick, a lovely and sweet young man. Similar to a mother, I miss my girl for she visits a lot less, and calls less. I know she is so busy with School, friends and Nick and it warms my heart with joy to know that she is happy and her life is full of wonderful happenings.

On Memorial Day Veronica calls me to tell me that Nick proposed while she was visiting him in North Carolina (he's joined the Army - and how I worry). She said "yes" of course. She was afraid to call me with the news for fear of disappointing me. How could this child disappoint me when all she has done is brighten my life. I did beg her to finish school first and she agreed whole heartedly. I gave her my blessings.

In 1983 I would receive a gift that I opened one day later in life, when I realized I would not be having any more children after my loving son. I realized that my niece would always be the daughter I never had. God has a way of providing us with what we need even when we don't know it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"A Moment of discontent"

I lay in bed listening to sweet music as the birds realize that the feeder has once again been filled. It is Sunday, Mother's Day at 6:45 am, and I am relishing the thought of lingering under my sheets, planting some flowers and even perhaps stealing a kiss from son. I always tell Jon that he should not worry about gifts and that a card would be lovely. My favorite being the homemade kind that carry a syrupy message and an awkward picture. I have to admit I am a card/letter junky. I have an addiction since he was little for little messages that say "I think of you". Allen does not quite understand my "thing" with cards or why they can make or break a day.

I am not sure which events made me a little weary of the day ahead, the pains in my back that kept me up most of the night, Jonathan breaking his pinky and needing a cast the day we were suppose to leave and meet Allen in PA (he's been there a week now trying to sort things out) or just this overall feeling that things were strained with Allen.

So here I am laying in bed trying to just concentrate on the world outside my window when from the other room I hear a bellowing, "MA!!", "There is banging and like glass brea
king coming from the closet", I roll my eyes knowing exactly what it is. I turn to Allen, "oh no not today," apparently squirrels have no regard for Mothers Day. Jon comes running to our room looking wide eyed and flipped out. "What the heck is that, you need to go check". Allen rolls over and says, "wow I am really surprised that he came today, its been a while".

A couple of days ago after investigating our squirrel problem and figuring out the best way to deal with the problem, Allen set up a rat trap. I was OK with this only I didn't want to be there when it happened. You see the squirrel lives in our attic and comes into the house when we've vacated through a hole in the closet in Jon's bedroom. I never thought it would really enter the inner part of our home, especially while we are there. For the most part the squirrel has not damaged anything (that we can see) it just kind of comes in and leaves it nuts about the house.

"Please go check," I ask Allen dreading the reality of it. Allen goes to check and says, "yep, its the squirrel, I am surprised that he's not dead," we'll give it a few minutes". I tell Jon to go to the other room and try to go back to sleep. He shakes his head and walks to the other room, coming back a few minutes later to tell us that he can still hear it thrashing about. I turn to Allen, "you have to do something", I start to cry, "I can't stand knowing that its alive and suffering". Allen gets up and goes to take care of it. I hear him go about and when he comes back, I don't ask. I don't want to know.

And so this is how I start my morning on Mother's Day. I realize that my son has fo
rgotten and I try to pretend its OK. I go about making coffee and hoping that he will soon remember and present me with my precious card. After a couple of hours I realize that its not going to happen and I want to cry. I don't want to display this at home so I tell them that I am going for a drive and from the computer and the TV I hear a united "see you later". I am devastated for I think that I ask for little from my son and husband alike. To not be acknowledged on Mother's Day made me feel forgotten and unappreciated. I drive about, then end up at Walmart (where else do forlorn mothers go?) where I waltz the isles aimlessly looking for purpose.

When I get home, I find a very embarrassed boy, who approaches me with a hug and a kiss and says sadly, "Happy Mothers Day Mom". My niece Veronica had called while I was out to wish me a Happy Mothers Day.....awakening my son to his small blunder. I love Jon more than anything, and I don't like to guilt him but that day I could not hide my disappointment. I miss the days of sloppy wet kisses, macaroni picture frames, painted portraits of me looking like a stick figure with funny hair. I called my mom for the third time that day in case she felt a little like I did, and also, selfishly, to feel the way one does when one speaks to the person who loves them the most in the world.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

An Addendum to my last post:

At 6:00 I called my son....there was no answer. I called his fathers home to be told that he had taken him to the movies to keep him from going to Anna's party. I cannot say that I held my ground and center, calling him a few choice words. Mostly, I asked "how could you do this to Jon, someone you are suppose to love and protect? He does not answer but only questions me "why are you going to a party with my family?" - I gathered myself in order to say to him, " The question you should be asking yourself is WHY YOU ARE NOT GOING TO YOUR FAMILIES PARTY?"
I hung up the phones shaken.
I realized I could not let him control my life, he could try as he might to work his destructive behaviors but it was up to me to keep them out of my life as best as possible. He may have some control over my son but he has no control on the way I handle myself and my ability to remain grounded. I went to the party where Anna was glowing and beautiful in all of her 16 years. Lisa was a wonderful host, she looked beautiful and all that she's done for Anna came vividly through. Though Jon was not there (there were a few times when someone would ask for him and my tears would well up), he was missed and there was something lost. Lisa, Anna, Jon and I will never be separated and throughout life our love and bond will grow stronger.... there will be other party's and moments to share.
On a light note, upon getting home at about 1:45 am, I realized that Allen forgot I left my key home. I knocked, rang the bell for several minutes hoping the dog would bark. Par for the course the dog (who barks at his own shadow) would not bark and wake Allen who was sleeping upstairs. I kept saying "Buster its me mommy, please bark" - but no way. I did not have my cell phone, so I ended up driving to the local 7/11 to use the pay phone and called Allen to wake up....thankfully he did and opened the door. I fell asleep quickly and somewhat peaceful to know that I was there for those I love, even my son though he doesn't know it...yet.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

" The world breaks everyone and afterwords....
many are strong at the broken places"
~E. Hemingway
A farewell to Arms

Today is my ex-husbands' granddaughters sweet 16. Anna's mother, Lisa, and I are best friends, more like sisters. We look alike, we think alike and were married to father and son. We are both divorced from the father and son. Over the years we have seen our friendship survive the break up of the family. We have watched our children grow and have remained loyal to each other in spite of the discourse of a very dysfunctional family. Through it all Lisa and I have stuck with each other through many hard times and tears but also through laughter. Lisa was there for me when I lost Dennis on September 11th, when my niece died shortly 5 months later and then 3 months later when my dear sister Lilly passed on. I have been there for Lisa through her first and second divorce, through the pain of lives difficulties, as a single mother and then recently when her father Frank passed away just this Christmas. Lisa calls me when she needs to vent and I call her. The latest phone call this morning almost as a last minute gentle touch before a very busy day and later Anna's party to which my son Jon and I will be going
(Allen is packing to go to PA).
About an hour ago my son called me very upset (it is his father's weekend and I was to pick him up at 6:00 to go to Anna's party). At this party Anna's father Michael will be with his wife, children and his two brothers and there families. My ex has not spoken or seen Michael, his son, in about 5 years over an argument with Michaels sister. The brothers do not speak to the sister (bear with me, I know it is tricky to follow - bizarre actually). Michael did ask Lisa not to invite me (not sure why - he and I were never on bad terms) to which she stated " What!! are you crazy". Recently he asked her to tell me that I was not to say hello to him, his family nor his brothers. Ok,so back to Jon's phone call. He calls to tell me that his father is not allowing him to go to Anna's party. The phone call was heart wrenching, here is my 14 year old put in a position that no one should be in. Jon and Anna are very close. I could tell that my son was frustrated, tearful and directing his anger at me. He told me that he hates this family and can't stand what his father and I do. My heart was breaking for him. I know that Jon understands that he can be angry with me because it is safe and I will always love and support him. He is terrified of his fathers meanness and would never dare contradict him. He would never defy his father but it is safe to defy me. This I understand.
I told Jon that I understood and I felt sad that he was in such a state. Jon began to direct all his anger and frustration at me. I told him that I could challenge his father, but this scares him. I told him that one day, even if its not today, he would have to stand up to him, but, that for now I would support his decision (not that he has any choice, trust me). I told him that I loved him, he was crying and said he doesn't know what to do. I told him it was OK but that he should understand that I thought it was a terrible thing that his father was doing to him and to Anna. He said his father told him "that your mother is ruining it for everyone by going". Meanwhile Anna and Lisa (whose paying for the party) invited me. Anna calls me Nani and I have been at every major event in her life. I told Jon that I loved him and that he did not do anything wrong, that whatever choice he made, I understood why he made it. I hung up and cried from frustration at not being able to help Jon and also in knowing that 7 years after our divorce, my ex could still hurt me, not directly but by hurting our child. I cannot even but into words what I think of him as a human being and how I wish sometimes he would disappear but the other me knows that this is a journey my son has to take and I cannot stop it. I understand that there are lessons that he will learn from his dad, as I did when I was married to him. He is not a healthy person and he lives enmeshed in his own venom, it is truly quite sad.
My son is a good, kind and smart boy. I know that regardless of who his father is, my presence in his life will be his true force of goodness, truth and well-being. My son will find his way, I cannot pave the road for him nor make it a smooth one, but when he loses his way, he will know that my hand will always be within reach to guide him home.
Life is hard but we do mend and sometimes, if we are lucky, we grow stronger.....