Gettin’ High

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It’s been over a year and a half since we relocated; I’ve conquered San Diego by sea and by land…. so why not also by air? Sometime during our first months we had ventured to the spectacular Glider Port by Torrey Pines. I proclaimed to my (incredulous) husband that I’d love to go paragliding. He promptly laughed it off.

Months later, on Mother’s Day, my charming husband told me to put my butt where my mouth is (in a matter of speaking, of course) as he handed me a gift certificate for a paraglide tour. There was one parameter: he and the kiddos wanted to watch. The reason? He was sure I would soil myself, and he did not want to miss that.

Weeks passed. Months passed. Not because I was nervous, but because it was logistically challenging: it was hard to find an afternoon that we had good air and no obligations, and we had to be free at a moment’s notice. I don’t do a lot of things with just a moment’s notice.

A day in March proved to be it. The adventure was spectacular.

Flying, floating, soaring.

Alas, no soiling.

The gorgeous ocean view on the right was trumped only by the incredible estates on the left (yes, the same La Jolla neighborhood where, ironically, the POTUS is lunching as I type). From seals and surfers, to golfers and nudists… there was activity all around that I could see from a completely unique perspective.

This adventure was something I will always remember, with the most profound moment occurring on ground prior to flight.

My 9-year-old, witty, snarky and dryly blunt, hugged me and sent me off with these poignant words:

Mommy, if you die, know you were loved.

Ummm….should I be profoundly touched or deeply offended?

I’ll opt for the former.

As another Mother’s Day is upon us, I wish you all give or receive accordingly the love, gratitude and appreciation that you feel…however it may be demonstrated.

 

 

 

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Dark Side of Neverland

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Never send me to Neverland. It’s filled with souls who refuse to grow up. And boy are we experiencing some growing pains. It hasn’t been our shining week. The principal to whom one of my kids was sent assures me that “it’s all a process.” By that does she mean a process though which I might lose my mind? Then my other kiddo had an altercation which required words with the teacher. Now I know for certain where I have been sent: Never-Lord-of-the-Flies-Land.

In this magical place I am trying to govern with limited success. Here, where mermaids are adored and loin clothes are sported, good spars with evil, yielding an uncertain outcome each and every time. Daily I am left to wonder if civilization and righteousness are taught or inherited?

I look at my son who admittedly makes a darling Peter Pan. Note, I did not choose to share the photo in which he depicts Peter Pan’s death scene, with foam dagger situated across throat and arrow positioned in a rather unfortunate, not to mention sensitive, area. Lord of the Flies indeed.  I wonder about innocence and promise; can they be maintained, and moreover, if they are lost can they be reclaimed?

It’s impossible not to think of my father on this day, which marks three years since his passing. I remember him at his finest– an individual of grace and integrity. He was larger than life, but at some point, as proved by fantastic black-and-white photos he, too, had been young and impressionable, testing personas from cowboy to boy scout. I see my son in those photos, and I see my father in my son. Should he be so lucky to turn his own measure of promise into a life so fulfilled .

I’d love to know if my father had any mischievous moments or perhaps a meeting with the principal? Let’s pretend it was possible, because then I’d have hope that we might eventually depart Never-Lord-of-the-Flies-Land with innocence intact and promise to nurture. Whether we decide to grow up or we wait for rescue we will emerge having conquered the process.

A Tiger’s Funeral

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Have you ever been to a funeral for a tiger? Nor have I. Apparently one took place just the other day right here in this house, but I was banned. I would have brought purple flowers to express my condolences.

The tiger had been a victim of drowning. For that my son holds me accountable. But I wasn’t the one who peed in my bed, resulting in having to wash all items from the bed–tigers included. Yet he doesn’t take responsibility for the tragic accident, maintaining:

Someone peed in my bed….and it wasn’t me!

Regardless of the culprit (and I have my suspicions), everything went straight into the wash in several shifts. I have a finely tuned system, as a veteran should. This time I enlightened my son, involving him in the process from carrying the pee-sheets to re-making the bed so that he might begin to appreciate the answer to the commonly asked question:

What do you do when we are   ______________? (Fill in the blank with any of the following)

  • at school
  • at camp
  • sleeping
  • playing
  • completely unaware of what it takes to keep the household going

Indeed the tiger may have drowned. But he smells a lot better now. Perhaps the tale of the tiger’s funeral will come in handy when I need to remind my kids that even when I inadvertently cause heartache, I’m looking out not only for their olfactory senses, but for their entire moral fiber.

Mangled Hearts

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Eight years and a couple of weeks ago I had a baby. She was perfect– except for the critically imperfect heart. Whisked away to the main Duke Medical Center, she underwent an emergency procedure on her walnut-sized damaged organ. We followed her there as soon as I could discharge myself, and we met the team who would save this tiny life. As the strikingly young and handsome doctor briefed us before the surgery, he began with the harshest of words: Your baby might die.

There I was– bleeding, swelling, sweating– with head spinning. Would you believe that over the course of the next hours I actually tried to convince myself that it was OK if she didn’t make it, because I never had the chance to know her anyhow? I’d like to chalk this up to postpartum delirium and circumstantial trauma, as opposed to terrible parenting and awful moral character.

Handsome Doctor emerged to update us that the procedure went as well as expected (weeks later we learned that this was his youngest patient yet– that normally this procedure isn’t done on babies only hours old). He had been cautious, and projected he would need to go in for a second attempt within a couple of weeks or several months. For now they’d watch and wait.

Later in the evening we went to visit our daughter– of whom we couldn’t see very much behind the tubes and wires. Clad in a tiny diaper and a purple cap with two pink hearts, she was sedated, intubated and medicated. But that little heart was beating. We couldn’t hold her, but we touched her and marveled at her– just as any new parents would. Days later, when she was at last no longer sedated, she broke free from the swaddle and ripped at her tubes. At that moment we knew we had a fighter.

Despite some additional complications, which included a giant blood clot, we brought her home eight years ago tomorrow. We’d have to inject her twice daily with blood thinners (yes, right there on the kitchen counter) and we’d be in and out of the hospital and doctors’ offices for months. But there she was, and here she is, a fighter still.

Each year around Christmas I send off two holiday cards– one to the doctor from North Carolina and another to the New York cardiologist who performed the second repair. I know not whether they actually receive the notes, or even if they care to. Nevertheless, I include a photo and a brief update to document their masterful achievements. Not only did this child survive, she has thrived. From swimming to skiing to snowboarding to horse back riding to playing tennis to bike riding to skate boarding to competing in triathlons, this kid has no limits. Imagine what she would do with an undamaged heart?!

Also each year on her birthday I bake a cake, as does any parent. But mine is always in the shape of a heart. I have a compulsion, I suppose, to make whole what I originally created as flawed. This year, the cake didn’t quite slide out of the pan, and we were left with yet another mangled heart. There were some tears involved, until we reminded the guest of honor that her own heart doesn’t look so pretty but it gets the job done. She’s old enough to know that she has a special heart, one that goes lub-dub-squish, and that we love this about her.

Our little girl has a heart of infinite capacity. It’s imperfectly perfect.

Birthdays and Deathdays

Birthdays are everywhere. We all have one and we love to acknowledge it, be it with hugs and gifts or cupcakes and cards. It’s easy to celebrate our beginnings, but how do we honor the day a life became no longer? Yesterday marked the second anniversary of my father’s passing, but really it’s been years since was lost to us. The last few of which  proved a lengthy good-bye to the wonderful man he had been, and his death gave us the permission to celebrate his very rich existence. Yet the grief lingered, and still creeps in from time to time, some days without warning.

Leading up to this day I wondered what I would feel, and I questioned what I could do to  make it significant. When a political, cultural or religious icon meets his or her end, the day might be sanctioned as one that’s recognized locally or globally. For the rest of us, the scale of appreciation for our legacy is much, much smaller. Perhaps only a handful of us turned our thoughts to my father, each in our own way.

I enjoyed a sunrise swim (I will always remember that I ran on my dad’s deathday with a dear friend who ironically lost her dad on that day years ago), and then tended to the usual morning routine. When finished, I made a small contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association, figuring that, hey, every little bit counts:  http://www.alz.org

Finally, I did what was most important in toasting my father: I bought a big, juicy chocolate chip cookie. Enjoying the serenity of the beautiful ocean view in Torrey Pines Preserve, I ate that cookie while honoring a truly exceptional person. After all, the greatest of men may have the humblest of pleasures!