Saturday, May 24, 2014


I have  a plaque in my foyer that belonged to my mother. It says:
DANCE like no one is watching
SING like no one is listening
LOVE like you've never been hurt before.
LIVE like heaven begins tomorrow.

One year ago tonight my daughter Emily married her true soul mate and best friend. Their path was not always easy and they each brought a young son to the new marriage. But, everyone at the wedding knew, and felt, the beauty and joy of this union. Rather than just a couple, a new family was being created.

And it was wonderful. As it turns out it was the last wedding that Glenn would officiate.  It was non traditional, mostly, and he rolled with the punches, as he always did, very well. He understood the power of a new family being joined, as we once did the same. He always loved my two children as his own. As grandparents we were proud and happy and excited about adding a new grandson, Henry, to the mix, since we loved him already.

After the formalities were over, the fun began. And that's what I'm reflecting on this evening. Dancing had become a thing of the past for G because of his many joint replacements and general arthritis. But that night? We danced like no one was watching. Remember Libby Gray Koultourides? We laughed and spun and sang and then did it all over again.  As I remember, he was quite lame for days afterwards, but he expressed no regret, as it was so fun and so joyful.

And, twenty- three days later, with no warning,  he was dead.

So the words of this plaque my mom had, ring so true to me now.
DANCE! SING! LOVE!  It's all waiting for you; don't sit it out.
But the most important line on that plaque?
 Because heaven might REALLY  begin  tomorrow.
Dancing, singing, loving and most of  all living......
On the journey.

Henry and Ryan dancing it up at the wedding.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Lucky Mom

Mothers Day is the traditional holiday in which to honor one's mother. It is a very old holiday and one that G used to call " National Guilt Day."

But today I feel like it's not about me being a mother, but celebrating these wonderful adults I call my children. 

I have been sitting here reflecting on my relationship with them both, this past hard year. I have always been close to my kids, but more in a traditional mother/ child relationship. Always I worried about them, sometimes I drove them crazy, but always I knew they loved me.

The roles reversed a bit in the events of last summer, and they became the protectors and worriers of me. As my brother said, " They really stepped up to the plate." Indeed they did.

In the early months, I spent most weekends hanging out with either one of them. I had a permanently packed bag and a dog crate in my car all the time. I was a weekly fixture at one or the other's home. Thank you Paul and Rianna for welcoming your mother- in- law so warmly.

There is a saying about silver linings. My silver lining is that now, almost a year later, I know my children and their spouses as the adults they have become, and not just as their mom. They are my friends and my family and I am so proud of them. And my how I like them. I can always count on laughing when I am with them. 

And so on this Mother's Day I'm actually honoring my children. Thank you for all you have done for me and for the fabulous and loving people you have become. 

Being part of your lives has been the best gift I've ever received. 

On the journey.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Livin' The Dream

Today was my last day at work for this school year. Friday morning at 7:00 I am having a sacrocolpolplexy(sp?)  a big word for "let's yank it all up and tie it  back together" from childbirth  injuries, endometriosis, a hysterectomy and gravity.  The surgery is being done with a robot assist(!) at a hospital in Minneapolis. Bless my children in advance for their caregiving.

No one I have ever met in my life has aspired from an early age to teach eighth grade. In fact, we joke that other people's reactions are either, " What?? Eighth grade? Is that the only job you could get?" Or, " Oh....eighth I'm sorry."  Which is why, among my colleagues, we often answer each other when greeted with, " Hey!  How are ya?" by replying,
 " Livin' the dream."

But sometimes it's really true for me. As others, I thought my career in education would land me in an elementary classroom, and I did teach sixth grade for a time, after a brief sojourn in eighth grade. Every grade level has it's positive sides, but when I returned to eighth grade seven years ago, I knew it was where I belonged.  At Forestview Middle School, there is a strong camaraderie among the staff in eighth grade, and truly, many of them have become my surrogate family, especially this last year. At lunch last week, Misty blurted out, " You people make it too hard to look for another job somewhere." You do too MJ. Which is why I cried like a baby saying goodbye while hugging my teammate Shane, who is leaving Team 8C next year for a  new career path. He brightened up my every day. Plus he always shared his gum and his Strib with me. :) And Lisa? We couldn't even go there as you were leaving, today, could we? Tearing up, just thinking about it. And Todd S....your final act of friendship was letting me "steal" your cookie one more time at lunch.
Godspeed you three. You will be missed by me.

So today was bittersweet. My summer break begins early, but so did the goodbyes.

It's no surprise to you if you know me, that what I love about eighth grade is that at that age, it's all about the relationship. Yes, I love teaching the literature, and the history behind it and all the other pieces of eighth grade English. And yes, I hate that my job is turning into one big mandated testing curriculum.  But for me it's about the kids. And knowing them, and being teacher/mentor/parent at times/but mostly, a trusted adult that they can turn to when needed. Some years the connections aren't so strong. Some kids at this age are just pukes, as we say. And it seems to be a group mentality for the most part. This year  however, our kids are wonderful. And there were some strong connections made. And some of them grew up so much and I am so proud of who they are becoming. One boy, the kid who drives you nuts, but you also love? He suggested that I just Skype from home during 3rd hour so that I could still be the teacher. A few notes shyly taped to my desk while I was out saying,
" When I'm at school you're like my mom....I don't want you to leave." Another one said, " I wouldn't have survived eighth grade without you. You were always there for me when I was down."

And so, I move on, some of my dear friends and colleagues move on, and certainly our 8C kids move on.  Robert Frost said it well when he said, " I can sum up life in three words. It goes on."

Livin' the dream.

On the journey.