Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where's the Bathroom?

Today I was replenishing the bathrooms in our house with toilet paper. I had to pause for a moment and say, "Thank you, Lord." Lowly toilet paper. One of things we take for granted, spin around, grab a few squares, do the duty, and flush it away. But I have to think for a minute about all the people that have no toilet paper, or a place to even go to the bathroom.

Last week we attended our Beyond JustFaith meeting, which focuses on our efforts to put into place our efforts for ending poverty. Tom Bole, a real sweetheart in the group, told the story about being down at the Church of the Reconciler. He said that a man came in and Tom asked, "Can I help you!" The man screamed, "I need some toilet paper NOW." Tom said it took a moment to register what he was asking and then Tom scurried around to help the man. As Tom said, "When a man has to go, he HAS to go!" We talked at length about lack of public toilets for the homeless. I know both sides of the argument. Who would clean them? How would you keep people from being harmed by being attacked in the restroom? What about people who would sleep in the bathroom? Are people being enabled to stay 'homeless' if more infrastructure is put into place? I don't know the answer to any of the questions.

I must admit that restrooms are something to which I pay a lot of attention. First of all, there is a huge lack of stalls when there are a lot of women involved. I maintain my staunch position that it has to be because of male architects. Women would never do this to other women. Then there is the problem when you get to the airport with your luggage and you try to squash yourself into a stall with all your belongings. Again, I blame men for this misery. And I must admit that I have taken over a men's restroom by posting a woman at the door to stop any men from coming in when there are a lot of women. Paybacks are heck. And poopies happen.

But, ah, then there is Adtran. They are a lovely client of mine in Huntsville. You walk into the bathroom and there are 12 (count them because I obviously have) stalls. No line. No waiting. And the stalls are large. You could have a party in there. But then again, maybe that is a bad idea. But I digress. I never fail to stop for a minute, look down that long line of doors and say a prayer of thanks that someone had the foresight to build enough stalls. And, I never cease to find the people in charge of the bathrooms and thank them for their incredible work of keeping these stalls sparkling clean.

Thank you, Lord, for bathrooms, toilets and lowly toilet paper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Perfect End to a Perfect Day

As an Extravert, I am often 'blessed' with saying things before my brain becomes fully operational and is able to say, "Don't say that--you'll look stupid!" One of those occurrences came at the end of an eventful day. Let me explain.

Pre-TSA, I had arrived for my flight an hour early, checked in with Delta, and knew I had plenty of time before my 6:00 a.m. flight. Knowing I had plenty of time (wow, this really is the old days!) I went to McDonald's and had breakfast. I got to the gate 30 minutes in advance, ready to stroll on to my flight (remember, this is pre-TSA). The Delta gate agent blurted out, "Where were you?" I replied, "What do you mean? I'm on time for my 6:00 a.m. flight!" The agent said, "October 1st!" Yes, this was the date, but I must have look thoroughly confused. The agent went on to explain that on on this date, the times changed for the flights and my plane left 30 minutes early. As you might have guessed, this was also pre-email, so I had no idea that anything had changed. Then I got really frantic because the client for whom I was teaching had changed two shifts of employees to get them all in the room all at the same time for my training class. In other words 60 people had rearranged their day waiting for me to show up.

To make matter worse, there were no more flights to this little town in Texas. The agent told me to go to the Continental desk because they had a later flight and to BEG. I ran in my navy blue pumps to the Continental desk crying the entire way picturing my clients angry and frustrated. I remember standing in line with sweat pouring down the back of my navy blue power suit. When I finally made it to the counter, I explained my dilemma to the agent (with probably TMI). The agent replied knowingly, "Oh, yes, it's October 1st and that all the schedules changed." This October 1st thing had to be the best kept secret!

I told her I would happily take overhead bin space if they could just fit me in. I was also filled with dread thinking about how much I would have to pay since I was making this deal the day of my class. The agent went to typing and said that they had a friendly relationship with all the other airlines and would simply swap the ticket with Delta (wow, things really have changed!) She said THERE WOULD BE NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. Be still, my heart.

I happily boarded the flight and took the first leg to Charlotte. The Delta flight was also supposed to arrive there. I remember watching the Delta board and seeing that their flight was late. I kept watching the board and saw that they had posted that the Delta flight was not arriving. Again, be still, my heart. I got on my Continental flight and made it to the training site only 10 minutes later than my original arrive time.

I breezed into the classroom, feeling like I had dodged a bullet. Then came THE MOMENT. I saw an African American gentleman who was in my class. He looked like someone famous. At the end of the class, I blurted out, "Do you know who you look like?" Bewildered, he said, "No." I followed up with, "Morgan Fairchild!" feeling proud that I had made the connection. He walked out, looking back at me, like I was an idiot. It was only after the door shut that I realized that I had told him that he looked like a blonde headed white woman instead of an elegant African American actor (Morgan FREEMAN). Duh...could we rewind that tape?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

1 degree from an Olympian

My daughter Casey had the most awesome 4th grade teacher. Her name is Frances Greenhalgh and the kids used to call her "Miss Greenhouse." She was optimistic, fun loving, and made each child feel special. And the feeling was mutual.

The year that Casey was in the 4th grade, Mrs. Greenhalgh's son was in a serious accident. Through his treatment he became involved with Lakeshore Rehabilitation. Being like his mother, Tommy never asked others to feel sorry for him. Instead, he threw himself into finding his highest potential and became a Para-Olympian in sharp shooting. He also became involved in para-rugby. This sport is grueling and rough. One of his team mates, Bryan Kirkland, was at a hugh disadvantage because he didn't own a sports wheelchair.

Casey's class got into action and began a campaign called "Pennies from Heaven" that was designed to get the funding Bryan needed to get the right chair. Children from all over the school emptied their piggy banks and their parents' checkbooks to raise the funds. It was a rousing success and the money poured in. The goal was met in three short weeks. Bryan came to the school and I will never forget his reaction. But the kids got more than they gave. The Lakeshore team showed up to play a game of rugby at the school and they got to see players who gave it their all.

Last night, Bryan was on television for a news spot. Turns out he is going to the Olympics!! I couldn't have been more proud. He is now working at Home Depot (a great supporter of employees who participant in the Games) and he spoke briefly about his upcoming trip.

Wow. I am so proud to think that my daughter and her class invested in this young man who will now be on a world stage. He has already struck gold in our hearts. USA! USA! USA!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I absolutely love the fact that every two years there is this huge celebration where cool, fit people come together and share the gifts of their hard work for the last four years. Wow. I wish I was half that disciplined and I wish I could burn calories for watching the Olympics.

True Story: Several years ago, NBC decided to broadcast the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on MSNBC. Big problem for us because at that time we didn’t get that channel. I contacted Charter Cable and through persistence and people on the other end who were eager to pass me on to someone else higher on the food chain. I finally found a guy there who listened to me as I made my case for this long-time family tradition of gathering and watching every moment of the opening ceremonies. Turns out the cable station was going to get MSNBC the following week. Poor guy, I bugged him every single day the week of the opening ceremonies. He called New York and they agreed to give us the channel a week earlier than planned. The cable guy called me on Thursday to let me know that Friday I would get my wish. Way cool!!! Yes, I have that Jones gene factor in me that won’t let me take “no” for an answer.

Oh, yes!! I should mention that we have gotten to visit Athens, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City, all Olympic hosting sites. We got to see the original fields where the real Olympics were started. All with nude men. Now I am going to spend my time campaigning for that!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Loss of a Young Life

This has been a hard week. First, I heard about the passing of Katie B, the daughter of Shelley Burkett, a beloved scrapbook designer. Then I just got news that one of my daughter's friends, Monica Chao, was fatally injured in a car wreck Friday night. This girl was at our house on many occasions and we have so many pictures, you know ("Oh, Mom, you're not getting out the camera again"), and now those pictures are all we have.

I love how Erin, Katie, Casey and Monica hung out and had a great time in high school. It can be a tough time if you are not surrounded by girls who care for you and won't criticize you behind your back. These four girls had that kind of friendship. It was a joy seeing them together.

My heart goes out to Monica's parents who are now traveling down the road already pioneered by Shelley and her husband Mike. They all join the friends of mine: Theresa, Doug, JoAnn, Steve, and Anne who have had the sad duty of burying their children. As a mom, this just breaks my heart. I also grieve for her older sister, Frances, who is having the sad job of communicating to all of us the plans. I pray for her to have strength to put one foot in front of the other.

I would like every parent out there to hug their children a little harder, call them just to say, "I love you," and take all the pictures you can, despite the protests.

Blessings to all families...

Center of the Watermelon

Nothing says “Summertime” like a good watermelon. But not just any ol’ melon, it has to be ripe, red and sweet. I’m sorry, but no matter how much training I get (mainly from the produce guy or any other Wal-Mart employee who happens to be walking through the produce section at the wrong time) I just can’t hear the “thunk” that lets me know it is a good watermelon.

When I get home from the store with groceries and watermelon buying was part of the process, I immediately cut into the melon to see what I got. Ripe? Rotten? Pale pink? Mushy? All of these thoughts are racing through my brain as my ginsu knife is making its way through the rind. Anticipation while I’m holding my breath. Nothing is worse (ok, maybe it is not the end of the world) than opening up the watermelon and, darn it! Another bad watermelon.

But oh, get a good one, and that is the absolute best. And yes, I have been known to eat the center of the watermelon and leave the rest for later. And I have never had to share. John and Casey don’t care for it. Well, that was true until I heard bad news from Spain earlier this week. Casey is finishing up her Spanish minor while abroad. When we were talking about the foods to get, I was rattling off the list:

Apples (check)

Bread (check)

Jello (sugar-free, check)

Redi Whip (no-fat, check)

Chicken to be grilled (check)

And then she said, (gasp!)
"I want some watermelon, too." “You do?” I questioned weakly. “Yes,” she replied, “I have been eating it over here.” Darn!! What happened? How did my watermelon monopoly suddenly collapse? I should have seen the signs.

When I was pregnant with Casey (born in September) I ate watermelon everyday. You know how they say, “You are what you eat.” Well, that had to be true, because my stomach was growing like a watermelon. I can even remember very vividly a dream that I had while pregnant. I dreamed that watermelon became scarce and was being sold for $50 a pound. Further, the only way it was being sold was by the slice and and it was displayed under glass (like the kind that covers cakes.) My husband says I dream in amazing detail and that there is usually a storyline.

After Casey was a baby, I took her to the grocery store. After I finished shopping, I strapped her in her seat first and then surrounded her with the paper bags full of groceries. On the way home, I could hear scraping sounds against the sides of the bags, and I asked, “Casey, what are you doing back there?” I didn’t get an answer. In fact, I asked her three times with the same results. She wasn’t being stubborn, she just hadn’t learned how to talk yet, That, of course, didn’t keep me from talking to her because I had a captive audience and I wanted to take full advantage of the time in which I didn’t have to worry about her talking back.

When we got home, I opened the back door of the car. Lo and behold, there was Casey, sitting in her seat with red juice dribbling down her mouth. There was the watermelon half covered in plastic. The little stinker had poked a hole in it and had been scraping out watermelon with her fingers. That was the last time I remember her eating watermelon because she has always turned up her nose anytime I offered. I didn’t care, more for me. Until now. Darn.

PS: When Casey scraped out the watermelon, wouldn’t you know it was the center? Like mother, like daughter.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch, You Will Be Missed

I was thinking about Randy Pausch during my yoga class today. If you've missed Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People or the Oprah show where he appeared, you need to start the hunt for information on this man. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. But he would be quick to tell you that he was a husband and father first and then a professor. He also has pancreatic cancer. Put away the hanky because he chides those who feel sorry for him. His motto was probably: Don't cry for me, Argentina, or any other country for that matter. His goal was to live his life to the fullest.

I frequently dedicate my workouts to him as a way to remind me to be thankful for having a healthy body. Because I know that he is dying, I know that he would have loved to have been sweating. He definitely would not have been complaining about having to exercise.

I have been closely following Randy’s progress and have been checking his blog for months and scouring the internet for information on how he was doing. What I found was almost no news. This let me know that he was engaged in the right thing: concentrating on his family during his last days and putting the rest of us to the side. Good choice. Another good lesson for us.

I returned home from the Y and a dear friend let me know that Randy died today. I would love to say that my intuition was at work and that is why I was thinking about him. But the truth is, he has been present in my thoughts for a long time and I have told every single class that I have taught for the last few months about Randy’s story. I wanted everyone to catch his joy and gusto for living.

I have personally purchased 30 copies of his book and give them to friends or acquaintances who needs a boost or simply as gifts. “The Last Lecture’ is a wonderful read and I, for one, feel that Randy left words that will help his children really get a sense of their dad. The rest of us just happened to be the lucky bystanders. If you haven't read this, run, don't walk to your near bookstore (or go online) and get it (or even download it INSTANTLY from iTunes if you are the 'instant gratification type.) You won't be disappointed. Trust me.

And I cannot forget his wife Jai. She stands out in my eyes as a woman who loved her husband to the end and honored her vows of “in sickness and in health.” Randy picked a jewel when he set his sights on winning her heart. She certainly personified grace under fire as she gave a way a lot of her privacy to share her dying husband with the world. I only wished I lived down the street from her so I could make her a dinner or two.

Which reminds me: I may not know Jai, but I do have other friends and acquaintances that are hurting and could use a dinner or two. Thanks, Jai, for this lesson.

Tonight I raise my glass to Randy, Jai, and their adorable children. I love you all and thank you for letting us in the final days of Randy’s life. Randy, your words will live on. And I promise to be more conscious of where my time is going. Time to get off the computer and snuggle with my wonderful husband. Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. First, because it is my grandmother's birthday. None of those dainty, old lady cards for her. I get to make cards with pop ups with fireworks and cool flag stuff. Great way to use up all my Mrs. Grossman's stickers that I bought, well, by the gross. This year is her 99th birthday and she is likely to be a candidate for Willard Scott's 100 year birthday list sponsored by Smucker's. If she makes it to 100, her card may have to have real live sparklers that ignite upon opening. Stay tuned!!

There's even more to love. One of my favorite memories of the 4th occurred in Charleston, S.C. John, Casey and I visited a ton of forts that day (John's idea of a dream day.) We then went to the Yorktown air craft carrier. We were supposed to see the symphony on the flight deck, but the driving rain caused a change in plans. We ended up in the hangar area. The director of the symphony was unforgettable. She emerged in a striking strapless red sequined dress with a tall Uncle Sam's hat. She had salt and pepper hair and looked like the character Maude. She was elegant and one heck of a director. She had the entire crowd eating out of her hand. The music was beautiful. The audience was not only the folks in the hangar but also small boats that gathered around the large ship. Each had tiny lights and looked like stars on the water.

The rain finally stopped and we went on the flight deck to see the fireworks show. It was a duel of the best kind. There were majestic fireworks and then fantastic lightning would web the sky in the distance. Man. God. Man. God. God won.

Another cool 4th took place in Boston, one of the cradles of the Revolution. We began the day by taking the Freedom Trail and walking all over Boston. We loved each glorious step. We then returned back to our hotel room because it overlooked the park where the Boston Pops were playing. We had the best seat in the house! But wait! There's more! A Stealth bomber flew over the area and the pilot tipped his wings to his mom who was in the park. The bomber flew right by our hotel window and gave us a sight few have ever seen.

As Tim Russert would say, "What a country!"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Adults Say the Darndest Things

I haven't posted for a while because I have been traveling for fun and work. However I have had an opportunity to think about some really odd things that people have said.

Here are some examples:

A woman was talking to my mom. She related that her husband had "phosphate" surgery and that they had planted "scrubbery" around their house and "uranium plants." The funniest part is that we knew what she meant. Who could make this up?

I should note that the conversation took place while the couple was sitting on my parents' bed in their hotel room. When the woman added that because of her husband's "phosphate" surgery he had to "urine all the time," my parents jumped up out of their chairs and said quick good nights to the couple and ushered them out of the room.

While in Hawaii, my mom told me that when my sister came to Hawaii with her high school choir, her choir director reminded them to be on their best behavior because they were representing "their country."

Also while in Hawaii, a fellow traveler noted that all she ever saw were cars with Hawaii tags and, "Why didn't people from other states drive their cars to Hawaii?"

Silence can be golden!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

You've Got the Cutest Baby Face

There are people who are photogenic and there are people like me, who are not. My niece, Claire (fondly known as Baby Claire by the family) is such a cutie. She instantly puts on the best expressions when her picture is being taken. I have yet to see a bad picture of this very cute child!!

I always put together the family calendar each year because I am the scrapbooker of the family and I love to do it. This year's calendar featured Claire on every page. Not one family member complained. We all knew that as the resident baby of the family, you get headline coverage. And Claire always delivers!!
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bless the Beasts and the Children

My brother called me with some sad news this morning: he had to put down his dog Shelby. He cried as he gave me the awful news and I knew that his heart was breaking. We love our animals.

His news took me back several years ago when we had to do the same to our cat, DA. DA was a real gift from God. Let me explain.

When John and I were first married, we lived in an apartment on Valley Avenue in Homewood, Alabama. Our neighbors had this really great cat, Moses. We started helping the neighbors out by feeding their cat when they went out of town. Then it progressed to Moses spending the night at our house to Moses having his own toys. You get the picture. I know that the commandments say not to covet the neighbors wife or goods, but they never mentioned kitties. I know. I read them carefully.

And oh, I loved that cat. And that cat loved me back. Except the time that he wet on one of our umbrellas which led to a fight between John and me. I’ve already covered that fight in an earlier post, if you really care. Moses would wrap himself around my neck. Closest thing to a cat hug.

Then we got news that the neighbors were moving. I was crushed. They came over and let us know and we all cried. A lot. The wife said that she had been struggling and wanted very much to give me Moses, but she just couldn’t. I understood. As much as I coveted the kitty (ok, so maybe I did break a commandment) I knew that she loved him equally as much. But she also let me know that she had been praying for another kitty to come my way that I would love as much.

We moved into our own home. My sister came by and said she was going to get a cat at the pound. I immediately jumped on that idea and soon we were off cat shopping.

I will never forget her. She reached through the bars. She wanted to go home with me. She gave a whole new meaning to kitty hug. And yes…she was a tabby. She was close enough to be Moses’ daughter. It was starting to sound biblical!

I brought her home and she immediately took over the house. We were happy to accommodate because we were trained kitty servants.

Several years later after I had Casey, I can remember the look on our kitty’s face: Who is the pet and when is she going home? But she also grew to love Casey and Casey loved her back. There was little “sibling” rivalry. Poor Casey. Because we had cats before we had a kid, we would mistakenly refer to taking Casey to the doctor as going to the vet. We learned to correct this and I don’t think she had too many scars from this. We had a family!

Then we came home from vacation to find an awful note from our neighbors. During our trip our cat had become critically ill and they knew she needed to go to the vet. We rushed her to the weekend emergency clinic and the news was dire. She was in serious trouble and wouldn’t live long. The vet recommended euthanasia to keep her from suffering. I held her in my arms and it was peaceful. I was inconsolable.

The next morning Casey bounded into our room, dressed in a Sunday dress. She told us to get up because it was time for the funeral. She had plans. We got up, put on our good clothes and followed her outside. John found a stone that looked just like a gravestone. Casey picked some flowers. And we gathered. We ALL gathered. The cats and dogs from all over the neighborhood came and stood in a semicircle around the grave site. These were animals that normally fought, well, like cats and dogs. But if was if they knew. I witnessed the most peaceful coming together. It was beautiful. Bless the beasts and the children. Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Ground Hog Day

I don't have much to say about this "holiday." Come on, about the best we could do is get a possum (preferably a live one) and dress it up.

I do however, have a mildly amusing story. When I was in the first grade, the teacher asked to see my mother after class. It seems that earlier in the day the teacher had announced to the class that it was ground hog day. She asked any of us if we knew what a ground hog was. I replied, "Sausage." She was still laughing when she reported this to my mom.

I answered the question like a true Southern child.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!!!

The birth of a child is definitely something to be celebrated. The happiness we felt when we found that we were pregnant was second to none. Let’s go to the back story…

I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children. I had taken care of lots of brothers and sisters when I was growing up. I was no stranger to stinky diapers, Similac, and getting up in the middle of the night. I was so afraid that I would be tied down if I ever had children.

I don’t know what happened! I went from being scared to having to children to it being the center of mine and John’s world. Poor John. Every month he watched me sobbing in the bathroom as my unwanted monthly “friend” showed up to rob us of our dreams of having a baby. I started a round of infertility treatments that included Clomid, taking my temperature every single day and charts—lots of charts. I can remember telling John that we had to do “it” tonight and he responded, “This is not romance, this is reproduction.” Actually I could see his point of view. Three and a half long years went by. I even missed a period for 45 days. Things were really looking up. But unfortunately, it ended badly.

In the summer of 1985, my sister Diane had even done a Ouija board with one of her friends, Maria who told Diane that “Marie very sick” and then she further pronounced that I was definitely going to get pregnant. I told Diane that I thought I would be pregnant in December and that it would be a girl.

But as the summer went on to fall, we were no closer to our dream. Then came that fateful day in October 1985 when I was sitting in Dr. Orso’s office and reading the magazines. I was no stranger to spending a lot of time looking jealously at the pregnant women. This day, however I found a McCall’s magazine that had an article on infertility. Eureka!! I found information that described exactly my symptoms! I knew I had endometriosis.

I can remember taking the article into Dr. Orso’s office and he, too, was just as interested as I was. He immediately scheduled me for a laparotomy. Sure enough, my intuitive side was correct.

John could not stay with me because by this time, his company had sent him to Augusta, Georgia for a long term assignment. He was unable to stay with me for my three day stay at St. Vincent’s Hospital. John’s mom, Marie, came and spent that time with me. We stayed up and talked at night, every night. I filled her in on the whole ordeal. She was so excited that we had been trying so hard to have a baby. She and Tony had no idea that they even had a chance of being grandparents. We talked about John as a baby and stories about his family. Little did I know just how important this time together would be.

I spent the next several weeks staying at my parents’ house. By this time Diane and Jim were living there with Kelsey and I got to spend a lot of time with my shy little niece.

And wow! My intuition was definitely working overtime! It took six weeks to heal and then Christmas Eve, 1985, I went to the doctor. I was veryyyy late and just knew I was pregnant. I couldn’t wait to see Dr. Orso. I was having visions of having my whole family sitting around and breaking the big news. But that never happened. Dr. Orso came to me with an ashen face. I knew before he spoke that it was not good. I was just simply late. But the thought kept nagging, what if the test was wrong?

Christmas was good, but I to admit that I was really disappointed. John and I “celebrated” with mimosas (champagne and orange juice). What the heck?

The next day, I woke up—I had to be pregnant. I just knew. I showed up at Dr. Orso’s office with another urine sample and begged for one more test. By this time, the whole staff knew me and looked with pity as they saw my little jar of pee.

I’ll never forget it—Dr. Orso came running down the hallway—we were pregnant!! And I don’t mean the royal “we”! John, Dr. Orso and I started jumping all around!! Then I started crying because I was worried about the champagne. Dr. Orso quickly told me to let it go and enjoy.

We drove home talking ninety to nothing. We had to have a celebration. I still wanted the “moment” in which we made the BIG announcement. We had to do it right. We quickly invited Bobby and Bebe, Marie and Tony and Sally and Grant for an “after Christmas” dinner. And the menu!! Standing crown with the frou frou hats, madelines, all the best dishes I knew how to make.

We got out the best dishes and laid a gorgeous table in our dining room at our house in Bluff Park.

Then they all came. They all ate. We had so much fun. We went down to the den. It was time for the surprise. We gave out long boxes (the kind that hold necklaces) to everyone with directions to open them up at the same time. Inside there was a poem that described all of our ups and downs, ending with the wonderful news! I will NEVER forget the looks on their faces. Clearly, we all agreed that it was the best Christmas present ever. My mom commented that all the old ladies at St. Aloysius were going to be thrilled because we had been on their prayer lists. We took pictures. We still didn’t know what was ahead.

What was ahead was I was sewing the following Sunday afternoon. I was busy making maternity skirts. We got a call to come to the hospital. Marie was sick.

On the day she died she called her sisters into the hospital room and told them that she was going to be a grandmother. Everyone cried. I went into shock. Uh oh. The rest of the prediction was coming true.

She died January 8, 1986. I can remember shutting down. I was so afraid that if I allowed myself to truly grieve I would surely lose this baby. I went inside for the remainder of the pregnancy. I put up a wall to keep from coming to grips with our family’s tragic loss. I had weird dreams. I dreamed about watermelon. I dreamed about grapes. I dreamed that our baby pulled my stomach and was standing in my car near the steering wheel. I dreamed that Marie came to me and comforted me. She told me not to worry about anything that she was doing well. It was not the last time that she was going to help me.

I kept teaching aerobics. I let that belly grow and I showed it off. This was in the day long before this was popular. I was definitely a pioneer! I was so happy and relished every Braxton Hicks contraction, morning sickness at night (go figure), learning to sleep with six pillows, child birth classes, learning the Bradley method—it was quite a ride!! We even went to Spain in my last trimester since we knew we were never going to travel again.

My due date came and went. True to form, our baby was coming late. Yes, she was going to be a real Lovoy. Then the day came when I had had it. I went to the doctor in a foul mood. I was done. I went to the doctor that day and he sent me back home. Wahh.

That night we ate well—I remember having some chocolate cake. Then late that night—I knew it was time. John helped me get showered and then off we went. What a trip!! I was throwing up the entire way. Yuk!!

We got to St. Vincent’s and there was apparently there was full moon that night because there were tons of pregnant women there. Yep, the hospital was pretty full as well. Darn it!! And no delivery rooms!! They put me in a stainless steel room with a lone bed. It was eerily like a laboratory. I started crying because this is not what I pictured. Bring me a barf bag. I was getting worse by the minute. I stayed there for what seemed like hours but in reality was probably not very long. The minute the luxurious birthing suite came available, I was in!

We had a crazy delivery! I was dutifully doing my Bradley deep breathing, asking about sea urchins and worrying about whether the single delivery room nurse had a full dating life and what we could do about it. I remember feeling Marie’s presence again in the hospital and knowing that she was helping me again. Meanwhile the cheerful hospital chaplain priest wanted to come in and I was not very happy about that and I let him know my feelings. John’s Aunt Nancy made a surprise visit (also in a cheerful mood) and I wasn’t the happiest camper in the room. I was being pioneer woman and trying to tough out the pain. These cheerful visitors were driving me nuts!

Meanwhile, I was seeing other doctors in the practice but not Dr. Orso, he wasn’t on call. Finally late the next afternoon, Dr. Orso came on! Let the games begin!!! He said Casey/Elizabeth/Rebecca/Suzanne was in trouble. I should mention at this juncture that we still hadn’t settled on a name. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. Back to the baby. Dr. O said that she was getting stressed and he needed to do a C-Section ASAP. He also said that he had to give me drugs. By this time, my protest was pretty faint. When the meds started working, I was soooo happy. John stayed in the operating room while I listened to Dr. O tell all the attending folks that he remembered when we worked at Lloyd Noland Hospital together. He also talked about how badly we wanted our baby. He said that he had delivered a lot of babies but felt like this was one of his own.

By this time we knew that we wanted to name our baby Casey. Casey however, had other ideas about being born. Dr. Orso had to practically drag her out because she had nestled as high up as she could go. To this day, she loves being warm and I know the roots of that habit!

We were tired but happy. All of my family showed up and they were so excited!

Our elation turned into being scared. In the middle of the night the pediatrician came by and said that
Casey was in trouble. She had swallowed meconium in utero and needed to go into intensive care. Oh no. John and I both got very quiet. We were so close to having our baby and then losing her.

The next several days were so scary. Wires, monitors, glass incubator, structured visitor’s hours. The only light spot was when Dr. Bill Johnston came into the room and told us that he hated to tell us that she was going to be short. Then John stood up. The baby doc saw quickly that Casey had gotten no help from her parents in the height department!

He also performed another miracle. I didn’t want to go home even though that was the normal practice. I could barely walk (I think my knee was sewed to my chin during the C-Section!) He decided to write an order that I had to remain there for Casey. Lovely man…

Then came the day when we hobbled to the nursery and I got to hold her. I will never forget that face looking up at me.

Hello, Sunshine. Welcome to the world, baby girl.

Casey Williams Lovoy

Don’t know why we waited so long.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Grandmother's Attic

You know, my grandmother on my dad's side was never the big lap, big chested, cookie baking grandmother. Instead she has been a trim woman who sent herself back to college after her husband died. She got a degree and became a high school biology teacher. Though she didn't fit the stereotypical grandmother mold, there was one area in which she truly topped all grandmothers: her attic. It had to be the coolest (or hottest!) place on earth! Because it was the attic, it could get as hot as Hades or stinkin' cold, depending on the time of the year. But that never seemed to matter to us as kids.

There were exotic oriental rugs on the floor. And, no, these didn't come from Wal-mart; she actually went to China to get them. In fact, she traveled all over the world! And because she was a biology teacher, there was a skeleton up there (no, not the "family" kind) but the real thing hanging on a rack. She had scales and enamel pans and other weird assorted stuff you might find in lab.

But as a dreamy adolescent, that wasn't the thing that I loved the most. I treasured the right hand side of the attic. That where all the cool mementos, furniture, and souvenirs from other countries lived. My Aunt Lucy had dried corsages, jewelry, and various stuff that girls save while in high school. My aunt is really cute, so I loved envisioning her high school days. Additionally there were postcards from around the world, strange lamps, big overstuffed chairs, odd tables, vintage clothes, an old "Pin the Donkey" set that now lives in my scrapbook room, you name it. My brothers and sisters and I spent hours discovering all the treasures packed in tissue in the mysterious boxes from stores that existed in those days such as Pizitz, Loveman's, and Burger Phillips.

When we arrived at her house, we would go through the perfunctory, "My, how you've grown stage," (or really it was usually, "Can you explain the DNA molecule?" question) But after we got all that visiting (and pop biology quiz-yikes!) out of the way, we headed straight to the double wooden doors that lead us straight to Narnia. Whoa! We didn't need a wardrobe.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Victoria's Little Secret

One Saturday morning several years ago, our doorbell rang very early. It seems that the cute, single woman who was the house guest of our neighbors, had locked herself out of the house. What struck me was how she was dressed. She had darling house shoes, beautiful sexy pajamas and a silk robe. I quickly compared my own "evening attire" of a t-shirt and underwear to her ensemble. Needless to say, I came up short and felt a bit shabby.

When the neighbors came back home, I asked her if her visitor always looked that good. She smiled, ruefully, and said that she had gotten to see quite a collection of feminine nighttime attire and she found herself paying more attention to her own choices for what she wore at night. I confessed that her appearance at my doorstep had caused me to take a step back with an appraising eye at myself and I realized that I needed to shape up. And that lasted for about 6 months. I have gradually slipped back into something comfortable that would never be found on the pages of Victoria Secret. Hmmm, the Victoria's Semi-Annual Sale starts tomorrow. I think I need another house call...