Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why my kids should not be around the grieving

My dad is in the hospital only it’s not a real hospital it’s a hospice center. I had never heard the word Hospice until recently. It reminds me of a spice, like I should be asking for someone to please pass me the hospice. It’s actually a hospital for the dying. Everyone there is one second away from croaking. My dad is in way better shape then any of them. He was having a hard time swallowing his food so his nurses suggested the hospice center for a few days so that he can be surrounded by doctors while he stabilizes.

The first day I showed up to visit, my mom cleary told me that they were in room 104. Leave it to my mom to give us the wrong room number! Although the door to room 104 was closed, Amelia and I loudly made our entrance only to find the oldest woman I have ever seen snoozing rather loudly in what I had thought was my dad’s bed. “Is that a person?’ Amelia asked in a very terrified voice.

Amelia has become very obsessed with the old patients at the hospice center. None of them come out of their rooms but often their doors are left open and she likes to peek in, point, and yell loudly about how old they are. It’s like she is playing slug bug, but instead of yelling slug bug she screams “Another old man, or look at that Old lady.” I have pulled her aside more then once to comment on her rudeness. I am starting to worry that she has a mild case of tourettes.

There is a really cute playground and walk way that wraps around the building. There ia breathtaking view of the city and lots of colorful flowers. Amelia spends a lot of time at the playground on the tire swing located just outside my dad’s room. Often Amelia sees the spouses of the dying patients walking around the beautiful grounds near the playground. Loudly she will yell “look at that old person mommy.” “Look mommy that one has a cane!” She acts as if they are the colorful mechanically characters on the stage at chuck e cheese there for the sole purpose to wow her with their oldness. She gets such a kick out of the existence of the elderly!

There is a large open community area that the kids like to hang out in, last night I made a big dinner and the kids ate it in the community room. Per Amelia’s request I placed her plate on the small round table near her favorite pink chair. She sat and ate happily until she got up to use the bathroom. When she came back a very distraught woman had taken her seat and was sobbing on her cell phone to someone. Amelia situated herself in front of the poor woman and started pointing at her “look mama, she stole my seat.” “That lady right there stole my seat.” I am afraid my daughter has absolutely zero social grace!

There is always someone crying in the community room, there are groups of sobbing families clutching onto each other. My kids stare at them. They find it fascinating. I am not a crier. I cannot think of a single moment that I have cried in front of my kids. I think this display of emotion terrifies and perplexes them. They become highly uncomfortable and fidgety when confronted with criers. Amelia always wants to know how they hurt themselves. “Did they get a boo boo? Or my favorite “do they need to see the doctor.” When I explain that they are crying because they are sad Amelia always says “oh, they just need hugs.” “hugs will stop the crying.” I love how very simple everything is to Amelia.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking things for granted

For the last week I have dreamt about high school every night. They have not been fun easy going keg party in the woods kind of dreams. They have been intense, wake you up in the middle of the night, kind of dreams. One involved my friend Stacey and I driving around in her grandfather’s boat sized car and running over a person who was crossing the road. Another took place at my friend Anne’s house and involved a screaming baby that no one could find. Yet another involved me being busted for smoking cigarettes in my parents back yard and my dad forcing me to eat the enitre pack as punishment. Something about having my parents around casues me to revert back into a teenager.

This week has been the toughest week of my life. I wasn’t expecting my parents move here to be so intense. When I tell people that my parents have moved to San Diego everyone says how great it is, how lucky I am to have babysitters. While I am so very lucky to have them here at the same time there is a terrible sadness intertwined with the happiness. I don’t feel like explaining that they are here so that my parents can be surrounded by family when my dad passes. The truth is my dad is dying which is not easily said during polite conversation.

When we picked them up at the airport I could barely recognize my own father. He doesn’t look like himself. When I left them with their bags to pull the car around I was gulping back tears. He cannot walk on his own anymore; it’s hard for him to speak. Sometimes he doesn’t know who I am. I had to help my 63 year old father use the bathroom. I think that was the hardest moment so far because he was so humiliated. I was not prepared for this. The first couple of days of their arrival were the hardest because I couldn’t recognize my own father inside his body; he just didn’t seem like him. He seemed like a stranger. Now I can carefully shove past, layer by layer, and see underneath the sickness and his confusion and find him there as always with the same dry sarcastic sense of humor. He is different but at moments his personality is back and he jokes and laughs as much as always. There are brief moments daily when I see the old him again. Those are the moments I cherish most of all.

What kills me the most is that I spent three weeks in Chicago this summer and I took for granted every moment. I wish I had realized then that in a few months he would be unable to walk to the park with us, That I would no longer have the pleasure of long leaisurely conversations with him, that He would no longer be able to thoroughly kick my ass at ping pong, nor would Amelia be able to demand that he play hop scotch with her in the back yard. Even though I spend everyday with him I miss him so much.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I love my family!

My brother an his family came for a short visit last week. We all had such a great time. My kids adore taking care of and playing with their cousin Anthony. We spent a lot of time at the ocean enjoying our local beaches. We went snorkeling one day and to the tide pools another. I wish we lived closer to one another!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am so very excited that Barack Obama is officially our new president. I have such hope for the next four years. I am so happy to be around for such a monumental moment in our countries history. I only wish I could been back home in Chicago to have taken in all the excitement at Grant Park!

Here is a transcript of his amazing and inspirational speech from last night:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends, though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Today while picking up the kids from school my friends Shannon and Heather were talking about the free box seats they scored for the upcoming Madonna concert. While they excitedly discussed the concert I had to literally contain my full fledged jealousy. You know when people get that fake overly peppy sound in their voice; that's exactly how my voice sounded. All of my syllables were over accentuated and I started speaking like a cheerleader on meth to contain my pure and utter disappointment over the fact that I did not have box tickets for Madonna.

At dinner I announced to Aaron that Shannon and Heather were going to see Madonna and how I had always wanted to see her live in concert. I went on and on about how my cousin Sharon and I used to sing "true blue baby I love you!" at the top of our lungs while wearing fake pearls and white gloves. How we would parade around the house with teased hair putting on lip synced shows for our parents. I went on and one over how truly and utterly envious I was! Poor Aaron just wanted to eat his chicken in peace with out all the talk of Madonna!

To my surprise Heather called me about an hour ago to see if I wanted to join them! Apparently I didn’t do the best job covering up my disappointment with my transparent peppiness, but hey at least I get to go to the show. When I hung up the phone I ran around my house screaming about how I was going to see Madonna, no one was impressed other then Andrew who is always highly amused when I behave like an idiot! Tonight I will raid my closet for something worthy of the Madge!