Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning to Let Go--Part Two

My last blog was about handing off my son to the other woman. I am an old hand at this; but I have to admit, my son-in-law is a fabulous young man and it wasn’t hard. The daughter and he were engaged for 18 months and they had not dated five years, but by that time he was quite assimilated into our family.
Wedding Day June 11, 2005

Did the princess marry a man like her father? I don’t think so. I think she did better. It’s been interesting watching them do the dance of handling “issues” as they grew up together. She was only 21 and he 22 when they married. People thought they were nuts to marry so young, but they were mature beyond their years. As with all couples there were life choices and issues to navigate.

Among those were finding both jobs, then my daughter deciding to get a Masters, and my son-in-law studies for actuarial tests that when finished with them will give him more like a Ph. D in actuarial science. They built a house. But their toughest challenge was met when “having a baby” didn’t come in the time frame they wished.

They stood together through specialists; funny medicines which make you do funny things, and procedures that are invasive. In the end, they conceived the “normal” way. By then we were stunned. And of course, by then, I was a crazy woman. Since I am unabashedly pro-life, this person was real to me from the first day I knew.

But this blog is about the son-in-love. He’s tall, used to be a distance runner, is very smart and plans for their future. He somehow got us all watching golf, which is really an accomplishment in this family. He got his brother-in-law PLAYING golf, and unfortunately most of the time has to graciously lose to him. Having no sister, he actually is very cool about his first child being a female, and was delighted when his basketball team bought him a Little Tyke basketball set for her.

Daddy and his little girl
June 10, 2011
He and his brother-in-law are two peas in a pod and all four of the kids (daughter, son-in-law, son and fiancĂ©) love watching sports, movies and playing Rock Band and generally enjoying each others’ company when they are together. By the way, that isn’t always at our home, they frequently get together at the home of daughter and son-in-law.

My son-in-law is a young man I can be extremely proud of personally and professionally and is very capable of raising the next generation in a way I know I will be proud of. He will handle that job with a balance of discipline and sensitivity.

He holds his little girl with such natural ease and I just long to say “Picture yourself giving her to some young whippersnapper in twenty one years!”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Learning to Let Go

I have been having dreams lately. They are weird. I couldn’t tell you what they are, because I forget them. But when I wake out of them, I know that my subconscious mind is getting itself ready to let go.

You see, Mama’s baby is getting’ himself engaged. Now he’s been going with the other woman for five years and I love her, but I just gotta process this some, apparently at levels I didn’t know I had.

Note the rock!
I love both of my children but I will go on record that the first-born princess was high maintenance from day one. Although I love her more than words, she drove me nuts. We do have the female thing going on and love the girl stuff, but she is Daddy’s girl and sometimes it’s so bad you just have to laugh at them. But I love her enough to know that for a female child, the father plays the more important role and influences his daughter in her choice of a mate more than any other one thing. In that she did good.

Once we handed her off though, as I was trying to hold Daddy together (he sat in church literally shaking), I laughed the following day as she lost her driver’s license ON THE PLANE on her honeymoon. I thought, “She’s HIS problem now and it’s just beginning.”

But that little boy came along and stole his mama’s heart. Now, no one alive would dare call the all-conference middle linebacker a “mama’s boy.” Even after five years of dating, as I am sitting in my easy chair one Friday evening, creating a video for his college graduation which I am already bawling over, I get the text. Note that Dad does not get the text, Mom gets the text. “How much do you think I should pay for an engagement ring?”

Well, now I am a mess. I knew it was coming and I am delighted. In fact, the big joke is how MUCH like his sister, the wife is going to be. I actually have called her the wife for awhile. I have been calling her the “social chairman” for quite some time. I call the two females “my girls.” I really love her! But this whole thing of handing off my little boy to some other woman is touching me at a subconscious level that I never knew existed.

He never was the cuddler. I joke that he got down off my lap at age 2 ½ and never returned. He’s not a hugger. For most practical purposes, he doesn’t “seem” to look like me although he definitely carries family coloring and features; but we relate on an emotional and intellectual level that goes deep, and I just have to get used to this idea of another taking my place. This ain’t going to be easy. Dad is going to be holding up Mom at the church this time!

Since I have/am going to have the absolute BEST children-in-love that a person could ask for, I think the most difficult thing here will be the practical aspect that I am no longer next-of-kin. Most people don’t think like me, but having her make the decisions that I have always made scares me, and she’s going to be a registered nurse! We have spent little time in an ER for a boy who was an athlete or just a normal little boy! But you know who was ALWAYS there; Daddy sometimes, but Mommy always.

This might have been easier had he gone away to college. He has been the best roommate we could have asked for and has “separated” himself over these last four years gradually and healthily.  And perhaps we will move him out before his marriage, depending on where he gets a job; but he will still be my boy. At that ceremony, it’s handing off the baton. I hope I will be ready. Thank God I have some time.
Lindsey and Joel

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things My Dad Taught Me

Dad and me before my Junior Prom.
Many have said this is a favorite
picture of the two of us. I would
agree...a moment frozen in time.

I only had twenty-four years with my Dad. I only remember twenty-two of them. But my memories are good ones; and often, I feel his presence with me in the things I say and do. It has been many years since I celebrated Father’s Day with him, there was a gap of seven years that, although we did honor my father-in-law, I didn’t really “celebrate” Father’s Day. Then my husband became a father. My husband as a father is another blog for another day.

What did my Dad teach me?

I alluded to the example he set in serving his community and church in another blog. He ran for school board when I was very young (didn’t win) and he served on a building committee of our church. Over the years he did many other things but those were a couple of things that stand out. I am not led to run for public office, but my community is important to me too.

Dad taught me some practical life lessons too. I learned to make a bed like they do in the army. People think I am OCD about it, but it’s just how I learned. He taught me how to change a tire, not that I remember. My Dad and I had a way to fold sheets and it took both of us. We were amazingly efficient, a well-oiled machine. To this day, I miss him as I fold sheets alone.

Then there are the character qualities that are more “caught” than “taught.” The most obvious to me was pure honesty. I was 22 and working in a bank before I knew what a bounced check was. I had no awareness that people wrote checks for more than they had in the bank. By example he taught me faithfulness, not only to my mother, but to his job and God. My father’s job put him in a position of being alone with women at times and he talked of the situations that could have developed, but I knew did not. He worked hard and I knew it. He led our family in worship each week. I watched his compassion (he sold life insurance) when he had to perform the least favorite part of his job—that of delivering a benefits check to a survivor.

Dad had the ability to talk to anyone, which does make for a good salesperson. He believed in what he was selling. He knew if the breadwinner of a family died; destitution could follow. He could talk to anyone, from merchant to waitress that he came in contact with day to day. The favorite bank teller, his mechanic, the gas station attendant were his friends. I think I “caught” that from him. Relationships were deeper than just “professional.”

When I was 6 years old, my Dad taught me about baseball and shared with me his passion for the game. Thankfully I converted my husband upon marriage or it would be a hard situation. I remember going to Crosley Field; I remember watching Frankie Robinson and Vada Pinson playing baseball. I started collecting baseball cards, although I wasn’t really a “stat” person. It was special when the Reds were on television, and I didn’t do well with radio. But I loved the game.

My Dad was not a perfect man and I inherited some things that weren’t so good. He worried about many things and I also have had to fight this tendency all of my life. As nice of a guy as he was, and as nice of a gal as I am (!), we both suppressed anger, but when we blow……get OUT of the way! This was ultimately illustrated by anger turned inward, which led to depression, whereby he finally decided to end his own life at the age of 47.

I have now outlived him by over 10 years, and I do mourn for the things he missed by making that decision, knowing his grandchildren; one of whom is so much like him it is scary, and aptly named after him. But on this Father’s Day, I remember the many good things he did for me and taught me, and think not about the last chapter, because it really isn’t the last chapter. He lives on in me and in my son Joel, and I know I will see him again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On Becoming a Grandmother

It seems as if I am the last to do things. The only thing in life I did early was finish college in three years. It seemed like I got married late (I didn’t really) and I started my family later than most; and I felt that I was the oldest mom at events. It was OK, it kept me young. I thoroughly enjoyed my kids at all the different stages of development. If you asked me, I couldn’t name a “favorite time” to save my soul.

But folks, it’s a new day! Although I have friends with grandchildren who are teens, I am just beginning this stage of life! I wasn’t going to be crazy, and geography is going to keep me from being too crazy, but we did have an overwhelming day today.

Last night I went to Giovanni’s with some folks. I blamed it on the eggplant parmesan that I had. I am not used to that kind of food. I was up half the night. On the other hand, something was bothering me. I tossed and turned. Moms just know.

My daughter arrived at the hospital at midnight while I slept soundly. I was awake from 1:30 until 4:30 and then nodded off again. Jerry got me up at 6:30 and said “It’s time to go!” It was storming and we hit Columbus at rush hour, but we made it with about ½ hour to spare. We were grandparents and Joel was an uncle.

I never wanted to be in the delivery room, but they let us go into the recovery room. We were all sunk! She was the most perfect baby ever born. I remember from my own childbirth the fuss made over Jessica’s eyebrows that didn’t seem so dark to me! Little Kyah has the dark eyebrows which may say something about her coloring.  But there is definitely some of her daddy in her little mouth.

I got to hold her first, then I handed her to her other grandma, and then Grandpa Jerry. Her other grandpa had brain surgery three days before and couldn’t be there. We took movies for him. It was a wonderful bonding experience as families.

They took mama and baby to their room and we went to get some breakfast. I guess the nurses did some teaching during that time and the baby nursed. We ate too, and in about an hour we went back up to the room, where we passed her around some more and her two uncles got to hold her too.

Grandma and Grandpa with baby Kyah
Marie Rossman, born 6-10-11.
What an awesome day as we realize that a new generation has begun. What a tremendous responsibility to protect and provide for her as we teach her the things which are important to us as a family. We realize this will be our legacy. I look forward to teaching her the things of faith and love; Jerry and I will take her to museums and educational programs for children; Joel will support her parents in exposing her to fitness and athletic pursuits. We don’t know what her talents will be, but we will support her in whatever her interests are. We will love her more than life.

I am not the first person to become a grandmother. But it’s a first today, and my life is forever changed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Forty Years Ago Today

It was 40 years ago that we graduated from high school. We were fresh-faced, excited young folks ready to take on our next chapter of life. We thought we were invincible. We were forever “cool.” Where has the time gone?

Me--forty years ago!
The night we graduated from high school I went home while everyone else had parties. It was a lonely night for me, but the weeks to follow improved greatly.

The next chapter began the following week, when I began my college education at Wright State University. I took four courses that first summer. I did not work, but that was a summer of memories I will never forget. My friends and I had more freedom and were together much of our free time, more than aware that the fall was coming and the old gang was going to break up.

Of course we weren’t going to let it break up, but it did. Maybe life would be different today with a cell phone, texting, emailing and Facebooking. We would have kept up more but maybe we would not have met some of the important people we met in college or somewhere else. One can only wonder how things might have been different.

Two things happened to me in college that changed my course. I started in one major, history education, and one professor knocked me clear out of that box and I changed majors to Social Work. When my son had a similar experience at Wright State, we had a long talk on a particular Monday night about changing majors. On that Wednesday, I read the obituary of this professor. Why didn’t someone tell me he was an ICON and maybe I should hold off on that decision until I took history from a regular person?

Then I decided to be a charter member of a sorority and because I got involved with that, when given an opportunity to transfer to Miami of Ohio, I declined and stayed to help get this sorority off the ground. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had gone on to Miami, which was my first choice, but my parents couldn’t afford at first. I made new friends at WSU, many from Fairmont East that became sorority sisters, and their friends became my friends. For the second two years of college, my world revolved around the sorority and fraternity culture. At a commuter college, I think it was a good thing for me.

Then there were the people in my major, the Social Work gang. We became very close. I lost my first peer among this group a couple of days before the Xenia tornado. We buried him that day. I will never forget that funeral and the ominous weather even in the morning and by 4:30 PM, my family was hiding in the basement! I lived in my first apartment with a Social Work chum. I was to have been in her wedding, but it was cancelled.

I graduated college in three years and moved to Columbus to work and hopefully be able to find a Social Work position and go to grad school. The following year I came back to Fairborn when my father had a heart attack at age 45. I will never regret that decision. I only had two more years with him. It was THAT decision that put me in place to meet my husband, which I have described in a former blog.

All of these decisions were made at pivotal points in my life and became a part of who I am. I know my readers and my classmates have similar stories. As we come back to Fairborn in August, hopefully we will all share our stories. Feel free to leave some of your story in the comments section!