Tag Archive | family

Where the Magic Happens

Home is where it happens. All the magic of life and family.  And this year I am counting on that magic to add to the wonderfulness of the holiday season.  This year I am hosting the family for Thanksgiving.  We all have our firsts in life, and this is one of mine.

To some this may not seem like a big deal, but to my large and very eclectic family its pretty big.  This is the first year that my parents are healthy and not suffering from cancer.  And this year everyone is in close proximity.  This is also probably the last year my nephews will be local. My oldest nephew is graduating college next month and who knows where he will end up.  The other two are going to school and working as well, but they all have off for the holidays this year.

It is the first time that the family will be gathering at my house.  In the past, we have all made it to our parents house.  But they are getting older and it is a lot of work for them to do all the cooking, cleaning and general preparation for such a family event.  I am hoping that it is a success, that everyone has a good time, even though it will be quite the adventure.  To understand the overtures of this undertaking, let me explain:

My parents are quite set in their ways.  They are great, wonderful, honest, hard working, loyal people.  But they can be extremely difficult to please.  And they both cannot be happy and comfortable at the same time.  You will go crazy trying to make that happen, trust this, I know. I have actually told them to choose each day of the visit who gets to be happy and comfortable, that way there is not constant complaining.  It works.

In the past visits, there have been complaints that the house is too cold (Dad likes the temp at 84-86), too hot (Mom likes it between 74-76) and neither of them like ANY air circulation, so no fans or such. The food is too spicy or too bland. And I live out in Egypt, s where I live is too far, from everything (I actually have the same complaint).

My mother smokes, but she hates smoking outside, mainly because it’s cold in the winter and she doesn’t like to be cold.  Once, in the House of Mold, she smoked on the screened-in-porch. When she got cold she insisted I bring her the warmest coat I owned…which happened to be a mink coat.  So there she is, sitting out in a screened-in-porch, in her pink fuzzy warm house slippers….smoking….in a mink coat. I would have taken a picture if I had not feared death. So I have set up a wonderful sitting area in the garage…along with 2 large, large room heaters, that each one would heat the small garage for most. There will be tables, chairs and a soft couch from which to choose.

My father, on his last visit, complained that he felt some small amount of air moving across his face. This air was coming from a closed air vent in his bedroom that was very suspect.  The threatened to sleep in the garage.  Instead I fixed a separate place for him upstairs in my office.  This time the bed in his room will be moved far away from that evil vent, thus avoiding the problem altogether.

Add to the mix my wonderful sister and her 2 sons.  Nothing much will happen with any of them, as they will be face-deep in their phones.  I will have to make a rule that there are no electronic devices at the table. My sister and Dad do speak the same language, sometimes I swear they have the same brain even. My youngest nephew smokes as well, so he will be in the garage with his grandmother, while we will try to keep the oldest from getting into a political discussion with my mother.  Liberal college kid views do not go over well with her  conservative mindset, and he is too young to be able to keep up with her quick wit (not kidding). I would prefer to save the fireworks for July 4th.

And everyone loves coffee. And wine. And food in general. And we can all gather next to the warm fireplace, when we are not out in the garage, hanging out with the smokers.  Or decorating the Christmas. Or asleep in our food comas.

And this weekend will be the flurry of getting the last bit ready…the deep cleaning (but not too deep, because my mother will need something to clean while she visits).  There will be dusting of things and cleaning of baseboards. Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping.  The cupboards are full of snacks and such, the throw blankets and sheets have all been swashed and are fresh and soft. There is music that has been picked out for the occasion.  It may be hard but it will be worth it.  Much laughter, love, great moments, memories and pictures.  And I will hug them just a little bit tighter, just a little bit longer.  This year, a year of so many wonderful things in our lives, and so many miracles.  And so much heartbreak and terror in the world.  Nothing like watching the news to make you hold your loves ones just a little closer.

And in those hugs, those moment and those memories, that is where the magic happens.

Sitcom Moments: The Dark Crazy Family Comedy

One thing almost everyone has to deal with in their lifetime is aging parents and health issues that come along with them.  It’s no secret that my parents have faced their share of health issues  – my mother diagnosed 15 years ago with stage 4+ Ovarian cancer, my father with liver cancer.  Bother of them are in remission.   Obviously I come from very strong stock.

One of the many reasons my parents have beat the odds (the first reason being a lot of faith and prayer), is the fact they are simply stubborn as he-ell. Notice the hyphen in there…that’s two syllables, because one syllable isn’t enough to describe that level of stubborn. And I think it increases with age.

Another thing that everyone must deal with is the fact that their family is crazy. Yes, including yours.  At some point in our lives, we must come to the realization that our families are insane.  And there is no shame in it, because we are all in the same boat, paddling up Crazy Creek with a broken paddle. My family is crazy. Just take a deep breath, repeat that statement and let it wash over you. I’ll wait.

My mother can relax now that my father’s cancer is in remission in theory. If only she would.  Don’t get me wrong, I love her with all my heart, but she is 5’3”, 80lbs of pure, unadulterated stubborn. And she will argue with you that she is not stubborn all day long…and into the night. And the next morning. And next week. And next year….

So now that she is getting older and has some health issues, life is interesting.  I do my best to keep in mind that she is very old school southern, very proud, very private and can take care of herself, THANKYOUVERYMUCH (all caps on purpose). It’s like a dark and twisted comedy, because there are many moments that you cannot believe are actually happening.

She is only 80lbs because she doesn’t eat…and seems to like it.  Conversations usually go something like this:

{I can see this conversation happening on Modern Family or Raising Grace, or similar show, where the characters are so over the top that it’s funny. Welcome to my world.}

Me: So what did you eat today, Mom?

Mom: I ate an egg with cheese and toast, like I do every morning, had an energy shake for lunch and  then your dad and I ate pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner. I eat like that every day.

Me: That’s a great day of food Mom. How much do you weigh?

Mom: 82 lbs.

ME: Mom, you’ve lost 4 pounds in 1 week…so you are either not telling the truth about how much you are eating, or you are very sick and we need to get you to the doctor right away…

CLICK

The reason for the hang up? Because you are not allowed to say that your mother might not be telling the truth. Oh yes, I received a firm scolding on respecting the woman who carried me in her womb for 9 months, endured a painful birth, and sat with my in the hospital as I was so sick as a baby. Yes, Ma’am.  But I still say if you were eating the way you say you are you would be gaining weight…CLICK.

She has a very bad back – spinal stenosis. Excruciating pain.  There is a doctor who will do laser surgery on her back, but she won’t go.  Too busy, she says. Same thing with getting her cataracts fixed.  So here she is, hobbling, wobbling along, feisty and stubborn as he-ell, not really able to see, but can still see well enough to point a finger at you to say mind your own damn business! I’m your mother, you don’t have the right to tell me what to do.

We went to talk with a cancer counselor at the hospital about how Dad’s cancer has affected the family.  I explained that it has been very stressful, since we nearly lost him 10 times in the past 4 years. Once the doctors even telling Mom that they were sending him home to die and he would be more comfortable at home. I cannot even imagine what that was like.  After I described, in detail, all of the family issues, the counselor looks at my mother and asks what her how does she feel?

Mom: “I’m fine, not stressed at all. This has not been hard on me, I’m fine. I don’t need therapy. But she does (meaning me).  If she wants, I will go to therapy with her to discuss anything that she wants, if that will help her.  Because she needs LOTS of therapy.”

I nearly fainted.

Me to Mom:  You mean taking care of Dad when the doctors said he was dying and nursing him back to health was not stressful, at all?

Mom: No.

Me to Dr:  Yes, I need therapy. Lot’s of therapy. Can we set something up, immediately?

Welcome to my crazy family. Grab a cup of coffee, or even better, a glass of wine.

Falling for the Weekend

It is Fall here in the south. The weather is turning cooler, with the highs in the low 80’s and high 70’s. At night the air is crisp and cool, promising the cold of the winter to come. In a word, it is delicious. I love this time of year. The air-conditioning gets turned off and the windows or up at night, as the cooler temperatures makes sleeping under a warm blanket a wonderful experience…until you try to get out of bed the next morning. Car rides have the windows down and the radio up, as the cool fall air mixes with  the warm sun to make the perfect recipe for road trip.

The fall festivals have already started, and the leaves are beginning to turn colors. The air is light and fresh, as  are the spirits of those around. Yes, it is fall, yummy, cool, promising, busy and fun. This weekend was a great taste of what is to come.

Family is a big part of my life. My youngest nephew came up with his girlfriend to explore and go to see a concert. Leaving us boring adults behind, they went shopping, eating, concert going and had much fun just being together. But I suspect we boring old people had much more fun.

Friday night were “crack tots” and beer with friends. Crack tots, true to their name, are highly addictive. You cannot just have one of these delicious tots dipped in equally addictive cheese sauce.  Thank goodness they have no calories either (at least that is what I tell myself as I devour them). Later that night my nephew and his girlfriend arrived, and there was much laughter and love.

Saturday was crazy busy, as once again the two lovebirds went out looking for cool things to do in Atlanta. Breakfast was cooked, more laughter and lots of activity around the Burch household. Then it was time for the adults to play, as we planned a fun time downtown. A friend of mine has a brother who bought a favorite bar, so we went down for the celebration. And we celebrated a lot. There were hugs of friend that I had not seen for a=years, laughter, catching up, eating and drinking. There was great live music, an old bank vault filled with everything Elvis, dancing and lots of Johnny Cash. There were pictures and smiles, and of course, several times I nearly tripped.

Sunday brought about sleeping late, brunching and lots of laughter and love

And I have to say that I am falling in love…with this season, and these weekends, and my family, and this time, these moments, in life. I am falling for Fall. And it is wonderfully delicious!

The Lesson of Driving

I have been given the task of teaching my nephew how to drive.  Well actually, his grandmother (my Mom) taught him the basics, I just have to make sure he has expereince in traffic so he can get his liscense and not wreck when he starts driving. Sounds simple.

I am not sure how my parents managed to teach us how to drive and still have a liver left. My nephew has done very well, and yet by the time the lesson is over, the only thing I want to do is go to the liquer cabinet and pour something straight, forget the rocks.

Maybe it’s because it’s my new car that is being driven. Maybe because it’s my car. Maybe because I am old and drive like an old person. Maybe because I understand just how fragile life is and how in a second everything can change.  Maybe I need to drink before the driving lesson. But being the driving instructor scares the crap out of me.

The key to being a good and successful driving instructor is to let ever let the student know that you are scared. And no yelling. Ever. The last thing my nephew, or any young person learning to drive, needs is to hear me yelling “STOP!!’ or “TURN Here Now!!” The poor kind would have a heart attack and kill us both. I have found that a calm instructor makes a calm student.  And most of the time it is fine, as he is very good student. But in those moments when he does what all young drivers do…I take a deep breath, find something to hold onto, press my foot hard against the floor (like that makes him press the breaks faster??) close my eyes and say nothing. When we get home, that is the time to tell him, that the proper way to handle that next time.

I have to say that I am proud of him, driving now. We drove last night at dusk, in the rain, with quite a bit of traffic. He did good.

So we drive around the neighborhood. We go to the grocerystore and the post office. We drive to d whatever arrends need to be done. And at the end, he learns to drive, I enjoy and nice tall one and we both have a sense that we have accomplished something.

and that is what is important.

The Fog Has Lifted

It settled down like an unwelcome uninvited fog. It started about three weeks ago and stayed, thick, heavy tangible and low.  It felt awful. It left a residue. And now, slowly, it has lifted, leaving behind clear skies and fresh air. It was a bit of a funk. And everyone goes through the funk a bit, even when we have the best or most perfect lives.

In reality, there is no reason to be blue – my father is doing much better, my sister has a great job, my nephew is going back to school in a few weeks, I have a new car that I love, a wonderful man I am dating, I have wonderful friends and life, in general, is good.

But I was sluggish, just wanted to sleep, I even cried quite a bit. I just felt…Bleh.

And sometimes that’s how it goes. Even happy people get the blues sometimes. Even those, who seem to have everything in order have bad days…even bad weeks.

So how do you get out of the Bleh’s? I don’t rightly know. Some people get super social, some get super introverted and just want to be left alone. Some people throw themselves into work, others go hiking, biking, workout, work in a shop, go shopping or just drink. What do I do? A combination. Sometimes I like to be left alone, take a quiet walk. Sometimes I want to be around my friends and enjoy their stories and laughter. Other times I want to just put my head down and work, sometimes I have a drink (or three) and sometimes I want to be held.

All of this has helped me get out of Blahville. These things a long with a new experience. I worked in a workshop this past weekend with the man I am dating. We built shelves for his home. We went and got the wood, then I watched as he methodically measured and cut the pieces with the saws and power tools. I helped as much as I could, but I was entranced by the method of creating something out of noting but a few pieces of wood. After helping him, I was assigned my tasks – to sand and to stain.

So I took the sander as I was instructed, and I concentrated on nothing else but the wood, the sanding, feeling of the machine in my hands and the texture. It was slow, purposeful and planned. Then there was the staining. I had never stained before. So the trick is to get all the stain on evenly…with no finger prints or darker stains. That may not sound like a big deal, but to a clumsy Pinktank like me…it can be a bit of a challenge. Actually, I am not sure which I am most proud of – the fact that i did a great stain job, or the fact that I managed to NOT trip, fall, stumble, foible, wobble, dribble, drop, spill or break anything in the shop. That in itself took great effort and concentration.

But I great stain job I did accomplish. And as I was staining, it came to me, that in everything there is a methods, there is a process and we must be patient and allow life to takes it’s time, dry and develop. And it came to me also, that I am in this place in life. I am used to running, doing, working and accomplishing. Now is the time to let the methods of life unfold. To let the processes take place. And to just let it happen as it will.

It is amazing how much stress and pressure that can take off a person.

You have to have patience. Work hard, play hard, love hard. But know when to take a step back and let life unfold on its own.

Admit It

Ok I admit it. I have a bit of writer block.Those are two ugly words. especially for a writer. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about really, it’s that I kind of get the feeling that I have written about it all before. What do I have to say that is new? fresh? Inspiring? Hmmmm.

I could write about painting my nails tonight and how great it is to be a girl. How we get to have all the fun. Maybe I could write about buying a new car, and how it is easier than I thought it would be. I really did think I was going to have to go through a Spanish style inquisition requiring detailed explanations about  my credit, income, tax returns, my pets names, blood type, shoe size, the secret recipe that makes my meatloaf to die for good (I will never tell!). Or how I have become one of those people who obsesses about their car, washes it all the time and parks in the furthest parking spot. (I have not resorted to taking up two spaces…but it’s not Christmas at the mall yet either).

Maybe I could write about what it is like to be a writer and search for corporate contracts. How to deal with contracting agencies, how to be a contractor, how to send out a ridiculous amount of resumes and such per day. How to stay focused and not get discouraged or terrified when thinking about bills (alcohol helps. So does yoga. Oh wait, I don’t do yoga…)

Or maybe a nice piece on housecleaning – how I am scared to look under my bed and the fact that the dust bunnies are at war with the hair balls from the cats. Or how about the fact that I am fostering cats for a wonderful animal rescue? Maybe the fact that I am swimmingly happy and enjoying the wonderfulness of a romance that makes my knees weak?

There is always writing about what to do in the rain, how to build an arc, the importance of taking swimming lessons (along with explaining why it is perfectly normal for a woman to have 10 pairs of black pumps – because we NEED them). I recently organized my shoes. That was a huge undertaking. I could always write about living with my sister…and the many laughs we have (who would have thought we could get along for this long and not kill each other??).

And then there’s politics! Nothing gets people talking more than voicing your political opinion. Gun control, Bengazi, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, Fast and the Furious scandal, the $100 million vacation scandal, healthcare, {fill in the name of the latest scandal here}.

Yes, I suppose those, and many more things, could be topics of writing.

And yet, nothing seems to strike my fancy. No wise words to impart.

But sometimes that is what happens when we go and go and go in life. At some point, we must rest and refill. We must take pause and take a moment before we have anything to give to the world. Sometimes we must hide away. Call it writers block, or taking a break, or being an introvert, or…whatever you like. But sometimes it is necessary to just breathe…in…and….out. To relax. To have nothing to do. But live life.

And so tonight I sit, at the computer typing. But ony after I have enjoyed my favorite TV show, some coffee, watching lighting dance across the sky. Only after spending time with my family and pets, and catching up with friends. And only after living and breathing. Yes, life is refilling me, nurturing my soul and gently rocking to sleep, dreaming of that which I can write. Later.

Life is Messy

Looking at my house, it’s a mess, to put it nicely.  The dishes are stacked up in the kitchen sink and counter. There are glasses everywhere – on the kitchens table, on the counters, the coffee table, the outside tables, in the garden, in my bedroom, my sister’s and nephew’s bedrooms, and I think I saw one even in the laundry room.

My clothes are everywhere in my room and bathroom. The bathrooms need to be cleaned. The entire house needs to be dusted, wiped off and organized. And vacuumed. And mopped.  There are tufts of cat hair. And dust bunnies.

Oh, yes, the house is a mess.

But that’s what happens when you have a life that makes you feel happy, loved, safe and ready to walk on the clouds.

Life has been wonderful. Mom and Dad came up for a great visit. The family talked, drank wine, ate snacks, laughed and had a great time out on the patio by the garden. The next morning there was coffee to drink and breakfast to eat. There was rushing to leave for work and doctor’s appointments. There were hugs and smiles, plans of when they were coming up again.

And then there are the visits to see him, the man who makes me smile. There is waking up next to him, warm, cozy, safe. It is fun to enjoy those wonderful moments. Getting to know him, talking, laughing and learning. Seeing his life, in his world. Sharing and breathing.

Life is messy. In the best moments, when you are busy living, it can get messy, dusty, dirty….and happy. And my messy house is a sign of a happy life.