It’s only been recently that I’ve begun feeling the significance of my birthdays. Up until now, they’ve been days in which my loved ones showed me their love with gifts and cake. I never really thought about the numberattached to each birthday celebrated. Turning 30 was no big deal, which surprised me. I’d heard stories of people experiencing some sort of identity crisis — thinking 30 was old. Thinking I’d dodged an emotional bullet, I skipped happily along through the next decade, having a baby at 32, buying a house at 36 — doing the “grown up” thing, but never really feeling my age. In my head, I still felt like I was in my late 20s’.
I figured I’d experience that crisis when I turned 40, but surprisingly, I still felt fine. I celebrated my twelfth wedding anniversary and my daughter turned eight. These were not milestones marked by old people! Even the increasing number of grey hairs I fought with trips to the hair salon were not an indicator — I started getting grey hair at 16 years old. It meant nothing! And at 40, I figured I still hadn’t reached the halfway point of my journey on this earth. With grandparents on both sides that lived well into their 80s’, and a maternal great-grandfather who passed at the age of 103, my calculations had to be right.
Fast forward ten years to 2014. I turned 50, but I had a senior in high school — my own mother was 38 when I graduated from high school, so having a high school graduate at 50 meant I was still young, right? Right?
Yesterday my girl turned 21. Twenty-one. TWENTY-ONE. Her boyfriend (aka “The Tall One”) took her to her favorite restaurant, The Spaghetti Warehouse, where she ordered a glass of wine and was a little miffed they didn’t ask for her ID. Yesterday was the first birthday in 21 years that I did not see my girl or plan her celebration. She went to her classes, went to work, went back to her apartment and got ready for her birthday date with her boy. We chatted on the phone a couple of times during the day and I sent her lots of birthday love via text emojis, but I have to tell you — it was really strange waiting until her daddy got off work today, to drive up to Houston to spend the afternoon together.
Today I think I finally felt my age. I have an adult daughter who makes me so proud. She doesn’t do everything perfectly (said in an effort to appear unbiased), but she puts forth her best effort and she is navigating adulthood very well. We went for an early dinner at Sweet Paris Creperie and then shopped at The British Isles and a lovely stationery shop, Dromgoole’s, that sells Montblanc pens (good heavens, those things are expensive!) and boxes of Crane stationery (so hard to find). As I watched her navigate the aisles of the shops dressed in a cute outfit and heels, she looked so flipping grownup — and I realized she is. I don’t have a little girl or even a teenager anymore. I have a wonderful husband I’ve known and loved for half my life, and I’m mom to a lovely young woman who makes me smile (and sometimes cry, but in a good way) whenever I spend time with her. I think I finally feel my age, and that’s okay.
There’s been a lot of exciting stuff happening the last few months, but because there’s been A LOT of exciting stuff happening the last few months, I haven’t blogged about any of it. I’m going to try to catch up with a very picture-y blog post. Enjoy!
Then we went to UH to spend Friday with our girl during Family Weekend. We had another social obligation on Saturday, so we weren’t able to go to the game with her, but we all enjoyed the time we did get to spend together. Thankfully, her guy and his buddies went up to Houston for the game, so she had a good time without us.
My date was supposed to look like a 1920s’ mobster, but everyone who sees this photo asks if he’s Amish?
A coupla’ gansters and a moll.
Laura, Amber, and John
My sister-in-law, Amber and me.
My sister-in-law is still very active in a sorority group from her high school years in Galveston. They have revived their tradition of throwing a formal, and now they do it for charity. This year’s theme was “Putting on the Glitz” and proceeds from the 1920s’ style bash went to The Ronald McDonald House. We had a great time for a worthy cause!
Because my husband is the extrovert that keeps me from holing up in our house for weeks and months on end, we ended up at the Galveston Greek Festival the next day… He grew up attending the festival and we try to go whenever we can. This year we were just a tiny bit disappointed (well, a lot disappointed…) We went Sunday afternoon, and by the time we got there, they’d sold out of the dinner plates. The gyros are good, but we are big fans of the dinner plate that is loaded with Greek yumminess like spanikopita, dolmas, salad with feta and kalamata olives, and pastitsio (a pasta casserole-y type thing that I adore). It was agreed that we will go on Saturday next year and make sure we get there EARLY.
I thought we were done for the month, but that slavedriver husband of mine yanked me up and out of the house the next weekend to attend the Oktoberfest at the Lutheran church in Galveston. This is another one of those where we are going to have to get there earlier. I know that beer is a huge part of the Lutheran/German experience, but I’m not a big beer drinker. There are craft booths in the church, but both years that we’ve gone, we didn’t get there until the booths were closing up. So NEXT YEAR I want to get there early enough to see what’s up with the crafty folk.
I think that is everything for now that can be addressed in this little “catching up” post. I do plan on posting some photos from when my New York daughter (my bio daughter’s best friend) came to visit for a week this past August. I will save that for another day, though.
After an encouraging blog post from a friend who knows the struggle I’ve been battling regarding physical fitness, I managed to get up early Monday and Tuesday mornings to go walk. Tuesday started out well: I walked 1.88 miles in 33 minutes. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I was pretty pumped up when I returned to the house because my friend told me that if I can walk a mile in 22 minutes, I will be able to complete the USA Fit Half Marathon in five hours. I signed up for the half marathon in August, before I started having gallbladder problems. Discouragement set in when I had to have surgery and then struggled with nervousness regarding exercising so soon after. My friend’s encouragement meant the world to me, so I was pretty excited to be back on track.
Not ten minutes after returning home, I received terrible news. My sweet father-in-law finally succumbed to the cancer he’d been battling for nearly ten years. When I met Bill, he wasn’t much older than I am now. We both attended the same church in Houston, but had never had any reason to interact. One Sunday morning before church started, I was peering over a friend’s shoulder to read a wedding invitation she held in her hand. I am not exaggerating when I say I gasped aloud at the bride’s name. The bride-to-be was the mother of the boy I’d dated in college. The boy I’d dated and then broken up with on less than amicable terms. The boy who broke my heart.
My friend got very excited, insisting I should go and say hello. I wasn’t too sure about it, but the boy’s mother had always been kind to me, and I finally mustered up the courage to do so. Marcia was very friendly and invited me to the wedding. I wasn’t sure about going, but in the end, I did and I’m so glad. Eleven months later I married the boy who is my ex no more. That’s a story for another day, though, because today’s story is about Bill.
Bill and Marcia met through a Bible study where they were both devoted students of God’s word. Their relationship flourished as they strove to build it upon the best foundation: Jesus Christ. Eventually, Bill proposed and Marcia accepted, and they were married on March 23, 1991. They served in ministry together, wanting to share the gospel with all who would hear, taking it even into the prisons. Eleven months later I married the boy who had come to the Lord and became a changed man, and on that day, Bill and Marcia, AJ and I, we all became family.
That all-important word: family. There are those who might correct me, but if I had to tell you what word was Bill Rozelle’s favorite, I would have to say it is family. I can’t think of a single family meal that began any differently than this, “Father, family was your idea, and we thank you for it…” Family was so important to Bill. He didn’t have any biological children of his own, but when he married Marcia, he took her kids and grandkids for his own. When I joined the family, I truly felt I was one of his kids, too. He was always interested in what we, as a family, and we as individuals were doing.
Earlier today I talked with my daughter — she told me how much she would miss their birthday talks. I raised an eyebrow because this is something I’m not familiar with. Apparently, whenever she celebrated a birthday, he would think back to when he was that age and tell her where he’d been and what he’d been doing at 16, 17, 18 and so on. I think she was looking forward to their “21” birthday talk.
Seesa, Papaw Bill, & Jami
Jami & Papaw Bill
I’ll miss him scrounging around my kitchen looking for coffee fixin’s — he loved his coffee and didn’t always want to wait for the coffeemaker to brew. That’s when he’d brew up some “cowboy coffee” in a mug. The man was serious about his coffee. I’ll also miss watching him peruse our bookcases, pulling some random book from the shelf and making himself comfortable in a corner with his coffee. He loved to read and could become completely engrossed in almost any subject, no matter what might be happening around him. He truly cared about people and when my sister was going through a rough time, he always made a point to ask how she was and to say he was praying for her.
I know my husband will miss him, too. Bill loved my husband as his own son. A number of years ago, they both had motorcycles and would go for rides together. On more than one occasion, my husband accepted Bill’s invite to his church’s annual men’s retreat. A lot of the men rode, and they would all head to the retreat center on their bikes. My husband said those were some great times. Maybe he’ll go again next year in Bill’s memory. I hope so.
I’m going to do something in Bill’s memory this January. I’d already signed up in August, but there’s no reason I can’t retroactively designate my participation in Bill’s honor: I’m going to walk a half marathon. My sweet father-in-law, in his day, ran full-blown marathons. He ran in the Boston and New York City Marathons, and he ran in the Houston-Tenneco Marathon. He was a real athlete. I’m just trying to challenge myself to eat better and move more. I think he’d be proud, though. Because we’re family.
With a bit of a delay, thanks to an unexpected battle with pneumonia and some additional drama, the College Girl (formerly known as the Teen Girl) is finally settled into THE apartment at the University of Houston.
In the days leading up to August 19th (also known as Move-In Day), we started making lists of things needed to set up housekeeping away from home. Since the College Girl is living in a college apartment, rather than a dorm, she needed furniture. After seeing the one bedroom “model” apartment, it was clear that we would have to be mindful of furniture size because she is sharing a bedroom with another college girl. We had an extra twin bed to send with her, but she needed a desk, so we went to the place where all in need of cheap, DIY, flat-boxed furniture go: IKEA.
Thanks to their website, we’d already done some reconnaissance and knew which desk would allow for the most storage and the smallest footprint at a reasonable price. She tried out some chairs and selected a desk chair conducive to sitting “criss-cross applesauce” that was on sale, hallelujah! We also picked up bedding (high thread count, but on sale FTW!), a table top ironing board, canisters for coffee beans, and a few other things.
When we got to the checkout, we were all chattering until the cashier mumbled the total. I swiped my debit card and then glanced at the total again:
WHAT? I was pretty sure that we had NOT purchased enough cheap, DIY, flat-boxed furniture to achieve that lofty total. The young man started going through the list and discovered the plain jane, wire paper towel holder my husband had dropped in the cart — the paper towel holder with a $1.99 tag — had scanned for over $1,000. Corrections were made, I scanned my card again, and we were on our way.
The week before Move-In Day, the College Girl had one of her dearest friends fly down from upstate New York for a visit. We had a wonderful time (I love this girl and want her to move to Texas — Powerpoint promotions are being designed to convince her husband that Texas is their destiny)! The visit ended much too soon, and the College Girl and I took my new daughter to the airport to fly home.
A few miles from the airport, my girl became increasingly quiet and by the time we reached Pearland, she was feeling very poorly.
I felt her forehead and she was burning up. Because I’ve always let fevers do their thing (kill the bad guys) unless they get too high, I didn’t give her any Tylenol or Advil. By the time we got home, she was running between 101 and 102 temp. It was shocking because she had been blowing and going with her friend for five days without any sign of impending illness. When her temp went up to 102.3, I gave her some Tylenol to control it through the night, and we headed to the Altus Emergency Center the next morning since it was Sunday. They checked for flu and strep which were negative, said it was viral and to use Tylenol and Advil to control the fever and make her comfortable. So we did.
For two days we followed their advice, but every time the medicine wore off her temperature would go back up. On Tuesday night it went up to 104.3, scaring us pretty badly. The Tall One advised a cool bath in addition to the Tylenol/Advil regimen, and so after conferring with my sister, The Nurse, who agreed, we convinced the College Girl to put on her swimsuit and take a “swim” in the tub. She hated us for making her get in that cool water because it was so uncomfortable, but it brought her temperature down until we could see the real doctor the next morning.
Thank goodness we went — after blood work and chest x-rays, we learned she had pneumonia in half her right lung. The doctor prescribed TWO antibiotics, and within twenty-four hours she was running a normal temperature again without any Tylenol or Advil. She was exhausted, though, and not in any shape to take care of last-minute shopping or move to THE Apartment.
What in the world did we do before smartphones? While she rested at home, I ran errands to find the last few things she needed. I probably took at least a dozen or more photos of things, sending them to her in text messages: “Do you want the purple or the blue toothbrush holder?” “Is this shower curtain okay?” “Do you need a butter dish?” Thankfully I managed to get everything she needed before my phone battery died!
Because she was still feeling pretty rough on Move-In Day (August 19th), College Dad, the Tall One, and I took her furniture up to THE Apartment. I am SO GLAD she was not with us, because I would hate for what we found to be her first impression of her first apartment. We walked into THE Apartment and almost gagged. The previous resident had apparently had cats… and based on the smell, no litter box. It was just terrible. Considering the residents of this two bedroom apartment are paying a combined total of almost $2,000 monthly, there was no way we were going to allow our daughter (or these other young women) live in that filth. After filling out the condition sheet with “filthy,” “filthy,” “filthy,” “broken,” “broken,” “filthy” — I marched down to the laundry building to turn the sheet in and get the College Girl’s gate key. But I did not just hand the sheet in and take the key. When I walked up to the table and the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed student helping out asked if she could assist me, I said “Yes. You can send someone to THE Apartment to see the cesspool you expect these young women to live in.” She looked a little startled and then directed me to the woman sitting next to her, who apparently had some authority.
The condensed story is: by the next morning THE Apartment had a fresh coat of paint and they were in the process of installing new carpet. Before they put the carpet padding down, I sprayed the concrete slab with an enzyme to break down the cat pee that had soaked through the old padding. And throughout the day we stayed on their case about other things that needed to be addressed. I still have a couple of things I’m nagging them about (like the non-GFI rated outlet under the kitchen sink next to the pipe that was leaking before the College Dad fixed it with some tools he brought). But for the most part, THE Apartment is livable and the College Girl and her roommates have settled in and seem pretty happy.
So why do I call it THE Apartment, rather than “her” apartment? Because as exciting as this adventure is, as anxious and excited as she has been to move on to this new part of life, every time she refers to THE Apartment at the University of Houston, she refuses to call it “home” or even “my apartment.” I told her it was okay to call it “home,” but she disagreed. And I have to say that meant a lot to this College Mommy’s heart — it’s good to know that she is enjoying her weekdays at the university, but she looks forward to coming home on the weekends. We’ll still have Sunday lunches with the Tall One and the Texan Who Claims to be from Oklahoma, we’ll still have Brew-n-Bake coffee dates, and when time and studies permit, we’ll marathon our favorite shows like Alias, Doctor Who, Friends, and Warehouse 13 while we do cross stitch and embroidery.
No matter how many things in life change, she’ll always be our girl. ❤
If I could unleash my inner “mama bear,” I would let loose with a fresh hell like no one has ever seen.
Hide the can openers, because I definitely want to open up a can of whoop-ass on a college professor who does not deserve his title or position.
That night in early April was particularly bad — my daughter’s dog, Evelyn threw up three times in the early hours, and then again as my girl started to put her in the car to take her to the vet. She’d lost a tremendous amount of weight for a dog her size in only a month, and she struggled to keep the boiled egg or diced chicken down that we cooked for her. The once spunky pup had no energy and spent the majority of her days lying quietly on the floor or the couch. She’d had X-rays that indicated an enlarged heart, and some suspicious masses that could be cancerous. There were additional tests that could be run, but no guarantee, and in the meantime she was suffering.
My girl had to make the very difficult decision to have her sweet Evelyn put to sleep that afternoon. With the vet’s counsel, it was agreed this was the best course of action, to save her any additional suffering. In the middle of the heartbreaking decision, Jami sent her professor an email explaining that her dog was very ill and she was having to have her put to sleep. She asked if she could reschedule the exam she was supposed to take later in the day.
The professor responded with a very curt “You can take it at 5:30 this evening or get a zero. Sorry.”
There are those who might say, “It’s just a dog. It’s not worth flunking a test or damaging your grade point average.” Whatever. Jami saw her puppy being born into this world, and eight years later, she stood by the examination table holding her precious pup as she slipped away, tears streaming down her face. She told me that she had thought about it and taking the test or skipping the test wouldn’t matter — she would not do well either way.
At her request, I left her there to grieve her loss.
Some time has passed and we are doing better, but even now we will get a little weepy when we think of that crazy sweet girl we love so much.
I guess you can imagine how angry it made both of us when we discovered the “professor” read my daughter’s email aloud to his class this semester as an example of how “there is no excuse that will persuade me to let you take a makeup exam.”
He did not read her name, but a friend in the class recognized the email as hers.
If I could have his job, I would. I want to write a letter to the administration, but my girl said that if anyone writes a letter, it needs to be her. I asked her if I could blog about it, and she gave me permission.
So here I am, Mama Bear, venting my fury on the interwebs. He exploited my daughter’s grief to make himself look tough and powerful. It’s a special kind of jerk that can take joy in someone else’s pain. I’m not going to call him out by name, but his last name starts with an “S.” I think it may stand for “Sorry Excuse for a Human.” 😡
Today is my mama’s 73rd birthday. Last year, when we were in the middle of battling her cancer, we tried to celebrate her 72nd birthday with a family dinner. The details are a little vague because we were so overwhelmed by what we were dealing with. We asked her how she’d like to spend her day and she tried to muster up a little enthusiasm, but it required so much energy — energy she didn’t have.
I remember we got sliced brisket, fried okra, coleslaw, and the trimmings from a local barbecue place that we’d frequented for years. My sister and my girl both made desserts. I can’t remember what my sister made, but my girl made an “Orange Slice Cake” that Mama had asked for.
We really hoped Mama would be able to enjoy the day, but I think her illness had progressed much further than any of us realized at the time. She was tired and the radiation treatments she received in May had fried her tastebuds. It didn’t help that the barbecue place we’d always enjoyed seemed to be slipping, with the brisket being half fat — and I’m not exaggerating. It was terrible. If we hadn’t been so worn out from everything else, one of us would have taken that styrofoam box of fat back and demanded a refund. The cake my girl made was delicious, but it was a very rich and heavy cake — more suited to a wintertime dinner than a summertime birthday party.
After the so-so birthday dinner and cake, my sister started feeling poorly and within about thirty minutes, she was shaking with chills and fever. Her symptoms were so frightening I, along with her kiddos, took her to the urgent care center while my guy and girl stayed with Mama. I can’t remember what the final diagnosis was, but meds were prescribed and she began to feel better. By the time we got back to our mama’s house, it was late and time for everyone to call it a night. I remember being sad that it was more than likely our mama’s last birthday with us.
Today, on the anniversary of that day, I’m sad. I miss my mama and I miss the sound of her voice (my sister and I chuckled about that earlier – that we missed her voice, except for when she was nagging us about something she thought we needed to do or not do). I have her voice on a recording from my voicemail and every so often I will listen to her say, “I was just calling to see what you’re up to. I love you.”
Like I said, I’m sad. But I’m also happy, too. Because today is my mama’s first birthday in heaven with the Lord. And she is with her mama and daddy, whom she has missed since they passed away in the mid 1980s’. I like to think they are enjoying a family dinner with the best food (it is heaven, after all) and lots of good conversation and love.
Happy birthday, Mama. I expect being healthy and surrounded by love is the best birthday gift of all. I love you.
…which I will have to tell you about later. The plate is full to overflowing today, but I had such a lovely day yesterday, celebrating 24 years with my darling guy. I will definitely come back and tell you how wonderful he is and how blessed I am that he chose me.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. JOHN 3:16-17
Lagnaippe: 1. Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas. A small gift with purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus. 2. a gratuity or tip. 3. an unexpected or indirect benefit.