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Sunday, April 1, 2012

The little things, part 1

               I was polishing my nails earlier (pretty sparkly blueJ) and it got me thinking about all the little things we take for granted, i.e. polishing your nails, brushing your hair or teeth, um, how to put this delicately…cleaning yourself after relieving yourself, you get my point. All things we do without thinking about it. It’s like breating and I wanted to write about my experiences with things like that but if I put those things first I wouldn’t mention my family & friends. Not that I take them for granted (I don’t think) but for me they are natural, just like breathing. So in part 1 of this blog I’m going to focus on my family.
                I was born in northern New York, a teeny tiny town in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains. I had to ride my bike 3 miles up the road to see my BFF Suzie to find someone to play with other than my brother. He was a teen by the time I was old enough to ride that far alone, before that I played with him & the neighbor boy that was mean to me, so I was happy when I turned 7. (Before you think OMG she rode her bike 3 miles by herself at 7! It was the summer of 1982 so I was 7 & ½ and on the way there I passed 7 houses and of those 7 I was related to 5 of them. And times were safer back then, the biggest worry was bears. )
                 I have just one brother, Michael, whom I refer to as many different titles, and mom and dad, that’s it. I had awesome grandparents and several Aunts and Uncles and cousins but we moved to Florida when I was 9 so they weren’t a big part of my life after that.
                I can’t say that I thought all families were like mine, but I did think all families loved each other like mine did. Till I spent the night with my friend Mary when I was 8, let’s just say if what happened that night happened now, child services would intervene, I hope.
                So when we moved to Florida we were in a more populated area and I had kids my age right down the street. Chrissy, Kathy & Kelly. Kelly’s family was like mine. Mom & dad still married, went to church every Sunday, had family dinners, said please & thank you & I love you. Kathy’s mom and dad divorced about 3 years after we moved here and it was nasty, they wanted to drag all us girls into it. It continued into our teen years. But before the divorce they went to church every Sunday, (which may have been the problem, that’s where her mom met the man she had an affair with). They had Sunday dinners, but didn’t say please, thank you or I love you to each other. Chrissy’s family was WAY different than mine. Mom & step-dad (real dad had been killed in-front of her when she was 3) and she had 2 half brothers and 1 step-brother. They didn’t g to church, didn’t have family dinners ever, they never said please or thank you or I love you to anyone. Chrissy’s mom would slap her in the mouth when she got mad at her, and she had braces, even if you don’t have braces, you don’t do that. It’s one thing to give a light “pop” just to get the kids attention if they say something nasty, but her mom didn’t just tap her, she drew blood.
                There was so many things different with my friends’ families as I grew up and made new friends through school. I’d say wrong but they may just have been different. No family was like mine and I realized early just how lucky I was to have the one I did. Don’t get me wrong, we had our trouble like everyone else but at the end of the day we forgave and said “I love you”. My parents have always been supportive of the things Mike & I did, well as long as we weren’t hanging ourselves from the swing set or swinging from the lamp. Yes, Mike hung himself from the swing set by his ankle, I don’t know why…he’s a boy is all I can think of and we swung from the lamp and broke it, then lied about it, got a spanking and learned not to lie to mom & dad, something we still abide by. If mom and dad thought what we were going to do was a mistake they let us know what they thought, but if we weren’t going to get hurt ourselves or someone else they let us do it and we learned our lessons or proved them wrong, whichever the case was. The world didn’t end and we got stronger and that may have made us more understanding. I’ve made my share of mistakes but I survived them and my family still loves me. So it amazes me when others say their parents aren’t supportive of them with their illness.
                My dad is a man of few words. We know exactly what he is thinking by the look in his eyes, he doesn’t need to say anything. But if physical work needs to be done he does it and doesn’t ask for money for anything, not even materials. When I got sick and we found out that I would be in a wheelchair when I came home, he built a ramp and fitted the house to make it safe for me. The chair was too wide for my old bedroom so he and mom gave me theirs and moved their things into my old one and never complained.
               I was about 3 maybe 4 and we (me, bro & 3 cousins) were playing on the picnic table at Grandma’s, there was a sheet of plywood on the top to make it big enough for us all, and all the other kids had gotten down and I was last kid standing. No one would help me get down, so I tilted it and slid down while still standing. I didn’t have any shoes on! I had slivers covering the bottoms of my feet, it hurt so bad. Michael carried me into the house and told mom, Gramma & Gramp what happened. He put me down in Gramp’s chair and they all tried to get me to let them get the slivers out, but I wouldn’t let anyone touch them till my dad got home from work which was going to be hours. Mom said I sat quietly with tears running down my face but not a sound came from me. I wanted dad. Dad was my sliver picker, he never hurt pulling them out. In a kid’s mind I guess it’s better to wait hours in pain than to have more pain for a few minutes.
                My mom, there isn’t enough words in any language. My mom is the definition of the word mother. No one else’s mom can compare to her. She has sacrificed so much for me I cannot even begin to list them. When I was in physical therapy she drove me and stayed there and encouraged me through the pain and frustration. My therapist said one day how great she was and we looked at her like she was speaking a foreign language. To us that’s what you do for family. Live, die, fight, pray, love that’s just what you do. She came to the hospital pretty much every day. There was some days she couldn't make it because of a client coming in (she is a semi-retired hairdresser, her salon is an addition on to the house) some days if the weather was bad I'd call her and tell her to stay home. I didn't want her driving in the rain. She would argue with nurses and doctors when needed for me. She was my patient advocate. But she has been great all my life. She fought with the school when I was in trouble for whatever and get me out of it if it wasn't my fault. If it was something I did well, I suffered the punishment there and at home. My dean was afraid of her, by the end of senior year they all were.   
                Now, my brother… In my eyes he is perfect, in reality I know he isn’t. When I was first learning to talk I called him “big bra” and he could get me to stop crying when even mom couldn’t. As we got older I just really looked up to him. We are Catholic, the first day he was an Altar boy I cried. Mom said she looked down at me and I had tears running and she asked me what was wrong and I just said “I’m so proud” I was about 4. So now our running joke is he is my god. So if I ever mention god with a little “g” that’s him. I also refer to him as “St. Michael” because with my Aunt Ethel he could do no wrong. I was the bad seed AND all my friends have the hots for him so that annoys me. When I say all, I mean ALL, even the ones that haven’t met him. Ok so I only have 3 friends left but still, eesh.

                He always protected me growing up. He’s 4 ½ years older. When I got sick he paid my car payment & insurance till I got disability and could pay it. He bought me a laptop so that I could use it when I was in the hospital, I was there about every 3 weeks at the time. With his job he couldn’t come see me as much as he wanted so he wanted to do something nice for me. One day one of my friends said she was jealous of the relationship he & I have. She said she hadn’t talked to her brother in 6 months and that was just about their mom. I said to me that was just weird, it would be like not talking to myself for 6 months (I do that frequently. I argue with myself too, that way I ALWAYS win.) Since then the two of them have become close so I inspired someone! Yea me!

                So, the moral to my lengthy post, never forget the people that love you. Never miss an opportunity to say “I love you”. Never take for granted that they will be there tomorrow, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Just because you aren’t blood related to a person doesn’t mean you aren’t family. If you love them & they love you, no matter what, they are your family. Blood doesn’t make family, love does.

                While I may have a crappy disease I have the best family.

                                I am blessed

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