Fundraiser Info

While I realize this is not typical content for my blog, I am using every avenue available to get the word out! Local friends, please keep this information going. Even with some insurance coverage, cancer medications are crazy expensive. My sister is no longer able to work, and we want to make sure she NEVER has to go without medication she needs. Many of my local friends know Charlotte from when she worked at Paul’s Coney Island, or more recently, at Courtyard Cafe over off Maple Rd. We are making every effort to hang together as a family and see all of her expenses are met. We have lots of great donations and what we need now is lots of CUSTOMERS! Please come out and support this local event! Thank you!
This Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1 from 10-8 at the Sunoco station on M15 and Vienna Rds, there will be a fundraising event to help offset the costs of my sisters lung cancer treatment. We will have a yard sale with lots of great deals, yummy baked goods to choose from, and crafts from Over the Top Creationzz and Lizzie’s Creative Designs. Food will be donated for the event from Down Home Diner, and there will also be a bounce house, petting zoo, and live entertainment (always better than the dead kind!) Please include this event in your weekend plans, and as long as you are out that way, keep on drivin’ and come on up to the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival! We’ll be vending there this weekend and I will have lots of unique items at my tent, as well as “Charlotte’s Sashays” fundraiser scarves! Hope to see you this weekend!

Sunshine.

The morning of December 31, 2012, I was full of hope. Looking forward to what we claimed would be “Our Year”, I just knew that after enduring the last few rough years, 2013 was going to be filled to overflowing with goodness and happiness and chocolates and sunshine.

But then the sky clouded up, the rain began to fall, and somebody threw my chocolates into a mud puddle.

The beginning rumblings of the Storm came that night, New Year’s Eve. Games had been set out, snacks were prepared and ready for the feast, friends had been invited over. John had fallen asleep in the recliner, and suddenly launched from the chair, hand over mouth, eyes somewhat frantic. Yep – our house had been hit by a virulent stomach flu that quickly traveled throughout the family. I felt slightly uneasy…I mean, what way is that to start out a New Year? But then, we joked about getting all the bad stuff out of the way right at first, so the rest of the year could be filled with good.

Then came the Thunder. Initially, they were calling it a temporary layoff. Okay, we thought, we can deal with this. Buckle down that budget. It’s just for a few weeks.

Enter Sleet. We were enjoying a family gathering at a new restaurant when my cell phone rang. My Mom’s cell number…..that was odd. She never called my cell phone. My throat felt suddenly thick and sticky. I answered to hear my brother’s anguished screams. An accident. The car was sliced in two. Jaws of life. Solemn faces and somber voices of firemen and first responders. Broken fragments of information, interrupted by hiccups and gut-wrenching sobs. “My wife, my wife”, he wept. “My son.”

A rush to the hospital. A front desk nurse handing me news that caused my knees to buckle, my heart to skip beats. My teeth began to chatter as my husband helped maneuver my body to a vinyl seat, my legs suddenly turned to wet noodles.

But then, better news. Stable. Broken bones. Surgery. Smiles of relief. It’s okay. They will be okay. We can get through this.

The Rain began in earnest. The tragedy of a tiny life taken before it had the chance to begin. A family member paying the consequence of a stupid past mistake; the consequence rippling through his immediate and extended family like rocks of hail leaving dents in a vehicle.

I half-joke with my husband that I am developing “Don’t-answer-the-phone-a-phobia”. Bad news seems to always be on the other end of the phone line.

I’m not really joking.

The Wind picked up. The lay-off has become a termination. My brother’s family faces struggle after struggle. My sister-in-law faces surgery after surgery, complication after complication. Pain after pain.

The storm rages through my heart, leaving cracks in its wake. I am helpless to fix any of this agony.

My sister calls, weeping. Pain in her shoulder is driving her crazy. Should she go to the chiropractor? I offer the number of a friend who does massage therapy.

The massage didn’t help.

I hear the faint echo of a Tornado Siren in the distance.

The job search appears fruitless. Resume after resume sent out. Call after call left unreturned. More complications for my sister-in-law.

My sister is still crying with shoulder pain. Nothing is helping and the pain is worsening. She is going for an x-ray.

The cracks in my heart begin to fill with rubble and debris.

My mother calls, her voice unsteady and suddenly sounding decades older than it did just the day before.

The pain in my sister’s shoulder is the result of a mass in her lung.

Cancer.

I want to rail against God, to raise my fist to the heavens and cry out that He has failed to protect us from grave injustice. It isn’t fair! I want Him to right these wrongs and bring back my Sunshine and Chocolates.

I can see the Funnel Cloud forming, aiming toward my own driveway.

I stand on my porch and watch it come.

I wonder if the Storm will ever end.

But then……..

I see a hint of Sunshine. Just a little, peering through the black clouds. I have to squint to see it, but it is there.

A job comes through. Good news! We’ll hang on to that.

The medication my sister needs is expensive. Our family organizes fundraisers to help. I am crocheting scarves to sell, and my brother is hosting a yard/craft sale to raise money for her.

I become a humble witness to overwhelming generosity.

My fundraiser posts are shared all over Facebook. People take time to care.

People I haven’t seen or spoken to in years contact me. A friend from high school I haven’t seen in close to twenty years – since graduation! – orders a fundraiser scarf. The grandmother of my teenage daughter’s best friend from kindergarten orders a couple more. People who I know have nothing to spare are offering to give their own clothes for the sale. Friends with crafty talents have offered to create something special to donate. Family offering to bake treats for the sale.

A knock on my door. I answer to find my neighbor shoving a check into my hand. “I don’t really wear scarves,” she said, “but I want to help so just shut up and take this check for your sister.”

A friend I have known for years online but have never actually met in person has offered to run a fundraiser in my sister’s name through her Pampered Chef page.

More people than I can count have offered to pray our family through this difficult time.

There is good in this world. There is Sunshine. I can see it, forcing aside the darkness and overpowering the Storm.

Thank you.

Our boat has been rocked in this Storm, but your love and support is the ocean keeping our little rig afloat.

Thank you.

But Still.

Yeah, I know. You have your reasons. But still, she’s your Mom. The fact you are reading this says two things about her: she gave you life (she didn’t have to, you know), and she made sure you learned to read. That’s two things you should love and respect her for.

But she screwed up! I know. Every mother makes mistakes. There were times she yelled at you, perhaps unfairly. Days she didn’t listen to your side of the story, and days she didn’t listen at all, about anything. She lost her temper too easily, and sometimes, she said things in anger that really hurt. Yeah. But still.

She also sat up with you nights on end, your high pitched infant screaming making her wonder why she ever thought parenting was something she wanted to do. But she did it. She didn’t abandon you in a ditch or give you away. She was tired and frustrated, but she held you tight and walked the floors, rocking back and forth, back and forth, jiggling your tiny body up and down, over and over. Her arms were heavy, and they ached with a burn that only intensified over the hours. Her legs felt wobbly from sheer exhaustion, but she continued this ritual night after night, your head on her shoulder and her cheek pressed against the damp curls of your sweaty baby head. She did it because you belonged to her, and because she loved you more than she loved herself.

But, yeah. There were also bad days. Like that one time, when she forgot to pick you up after school and you had to wait forever before she remembered! That was totally embarrassing.  Or like, when she couldn’t afford to get you new shoes or that one special dress, and you had to make do with old, out of style crap. I know! I totally feel you. Or remember when she wouldn’t let you date that one guy? Even though you really, really, like really liked him? That was totally unfair. There was a time or two she actually slapped you across your face in the heat of the moment. But still.

Hey, though….do you remember when your Mom went on those really weird diets? You know…when she was only drinking water and eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? God, she was so freaking strange like that. Do you recall the part where her diets coincided with all your Big Days….like when sports registration and uniform fees were due, or just before the big dance when you really needed (okay, wanted) that one specific dress with the matching shoes? Think about that, friend. Do you seriously think she enjoyed the taste of creamed peanuts and congealed grapes that much….or was there, just maybe, another reason? She did it because you belonged to her, and because she loved you more than she loved herself.

Or what about that time when she stayed up all night — her stomach tied in knots so tight she could hardly stand to walk —  when you took off on a date with that guy you weren’t supposed to be out with, and “forgot” to call and let her know where you were? Oh, wait, that’s right. You never knew what she went through that night…..the frantic calls she made to every one of your friends parents, the hours she spent driving around in the dark, looking for you.  You didn’t see her sitting next to the phone, her back unnaturally straight, clutching a box of Kleenex and waiting for the police to call with devastating news. She never told you how afraid she was. She just flew off the handle when you finally showed up at 4 a.m., screaming like some hysterical maniac. Geez. Mothers!

You didn’t see the crack in her heart that began the first time you said you hated her.

Even so, there were days when she seriously messed up. Times when you really needed her, and for whatever reason, she wasn’t there. Times when your relationship was so strained, you thought life might be easier if you just cut her out of your life. Times when she may have even deserved it. But still.

She is still the woman who held your hair back when you woke up in the middle of the night puking. Still the one who held your bike seat steady that first time you took off with no training wheels, stomach lurching with fear that you might get hurt, eyes filling with tears when you succeeded. Still the mom who held you and cried with you over that first real heartbreak, and the one who got into a screaming match with the principal at your high school when you weren’t treated right. She’s the woman who sacrificed so many things she would have liked to have done, just so she could be there when you hit that home run( or totally struck out), or uttered a whole three words in the school play, or performed a terribly out of tune song at the Talent Show. Or maybe she wasn’t there….maybe she wanted to be there more than anything else in the world, but had to work to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly and she cried in the bathroom on her break time because she couldn’t be there to watch you shine. She did it because you belonged to her, and because she loved you more than she loved herself.

And maybe her name is Mom, or Mama. Or maybe her name is Grandma or Memaw or Nana. Maybe her name is Auntie, or Sister. Maybe you have a birth mom and an adoptive mom, or a foster mom, or all three. It doesn’t really matter how she came to be your Mom…..she is the one you know– without a doubt –you can turn to when everything else in the world goes to pot, and she will be there, fiercely protective and full of support.

Maybe she completely failed at some aspects of parenting. Maybe she just didn’t have the necessary tools to succeed in every area, all the time.

Maybe you’ve turned out to be a strong, independent adult because of her mistakes, or in spite of them.

There has to be something she succeeded at….something she did that stands out in your mind as helping to shape you into the fantastic person you are today.

When you remember that something, you should thank her for it. Not everyone has that opportunity, and if you are lucky enough to still have your Mom around….well, remember it’s a privilege, not a right. Say what you need to say, while you have the chance to say it. There are few things more painful than the regret of words left unsaid.

I know, I know. You have your reasons. But still. She’s your Mom.

Romance.

I’m sorry, Babe. I’m just not in the mood. It isn’t you, or anything. I’m not mad. I just….I have this awful headache. You know how I get these migraines and I just….don’t think I can do it again tonight.

I don’t think you realize how much I’ve had to do today. I couldn’t sleep last night, I kept waking up, tossing and turning. Up for good at six. Got the kids ready for school, and drove them to class on time. Packed my own backpack, and ended up 20 minutes late for class. I missed a test that I can’t make up.

No…no, listen to me. Asking me over and over isn’t going to change the way I feel. It’s been a difficult day, and I am worn out! Every day you harass me about it, like you think I can just do this on a daily basis. Well, I can’t! I’m exhausted!

I swear, it’s like this is all you ever think about.

I have already washed, dried, folded and put away six loads of laundry today. I spent three hours doing my homework and studying. My instructor is just about on my last nerve! The dog puked all over the floor, and I had to get the steam cleaner out to get it out of the carpet. I washed freaking five sinkfuls of dishes, because nobody else around here seems to care if they just dirty dish after dish without regard to who has to clean them up.

I have driven two kids to soccer practice, and one kid to Scouts tonight. I helped two of them with their homework, and hemmed a pair of pants.

Please don’t interrupt me, just listen. Hear me out!

I’m tired.

Is it just because you’re a guy, that you have to constantly harp on this topic? You sound like a stuttering record, same thing over and over and over.

Do you know I got a call from the school today to go pick up a sick kid? And then I had to get him in to see the doctor. They had to work us in, so we waited forever. As if I had nothing else to do today!

I mean, you aren’t the only person here with needs. I have needs, too! I need a little sympathy, a little compassion, a helping hand now and again.

Look, Babe, I love you. Just because I’m not in the mood tonight…that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

I’m just not in the mood to cook dinner. Can’t you just stop and pick up pizza on the way home?

Help me out tonight, and I’ll make it worth your while tomorrow.

Yeah…that’s right. Tomorrow, I’ll make spaghetti. I’m sure this headache will be gone by then.

Thirty-Eight.

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Hey, it’s really not so great

Feeling almost thirty-eight

Man, my knees really creak

So many dishes in the sink!

These dishes never end

Teenagers busy pressing “send”.

Baseball, soccer, and then Scouts

Never a minute for time-out

Sometimes I’m tired of this

But the kids’ activities are never missed.

Homework’s gotta get done

Wish I had more time just for fun

Need more caffeine in my cup

Reach down just to pet my pup.

But then she pees the floor

Think I might walk out this door

Then again, I guess I’ll stay

I kind of like her anyway.

Hey, it’s really not so great

Feeling almost thirty-eight

My roots can be a fright

And these blue jeans are too damn tight.

These dishes never end

Teenagers busy pressing “send.”

Sometimes I get so tired

I miss the days when I was wired

On just three hours of sleep

Wanna lay down and count some sheep.

But there’s so much more to do

Household chores are never through

Come help me with what needs done next

Can’t help, Mom, I’ve got a text.

Hey, it’s really not so great

Feeling almost thirty-eight

My house is always a mess

Sometimes I think it’s one big Test.

These dishes never end

Teenagers busy pressing “send”.

Hey, it’s really not so great

Feeling almost thirty-eight

Arthritis setting in

Is that a hint of double chin?

These dishes never end

Teenagers busy pressing “send.”

But, I guess I’ve got it right

Kids and a guy who stay home at night

At least I have that much

Though my teenagers think I’m out of touch.

Not sure what this implies;

Children’s aggravated sighs

Mom, I just need ten bucks

Sorry, kid, you’re out of luck.

Hey, you know we’re rotten broke

Quit laughing! This is not a joke

Seems I’m losing all my time

Spending dollars, making dimes.

Hey, its’ really not so great

Feeling almost thirty-eight

My joints, they always hurt

Am I too old to wear this shirt?

Laundry piled up in all the baskets

I wish you’d help me before I ask it

Just want a little bit of your time

Sit with me here while I rock this rhyme.

My life is going so many ways

Can’t keep track of it most days

Don’t want to miss a thing

Come on, join with me and sing.

Hey, it’s really not so great

Feeling almost thirty-eight

Man, my knees really creak

So many dishes in the sink!

These dishes never end

Teenagers busy pressing “send.”

Do It Anyway.

I know that you don’t really want to, but do it anyway.

I know you think you can’t, that it will be more difficult than anything you’ve ever attempted before…do it anyway.

Do it for your kids, for your parents, your siblings. Do it for your nieces and nephews, and your aunts and your uncles. Do it for your cousins.

Do it for your dogs. Your cat. Your hamster or your lizard.

Just do it. Just quit.

It’s been part of your life for as long as you can remember. You wouldn’t know what to do without it.

Quit anyway.

You’ve tried before and failed. It’s too hard.

Quit anyway.

It costs too much money, and those things that are supposed to help…the patch, whatever, probably won’t work.

I don’t care. Quit anyway.

It will be hard. You might wake up some days crying, or sick. You might not be able to sleep. You might eat too much, or not enough.

I don’t care. Quit anyway.

I know you think it won’t have any consequences. Not for you.

But it will.

And one day, it’s going to come back and bite you in the butt. Hard.

Maybe you don’t care about you, or you make it into a joke and say, “I might as well die happy, right?”

Maybe.

But when it’s too late, and the news comes, and you suddenly realize you have to tell your parents they are going to outlive you, or tell your daughter you won’t get to watch her pick out that perfect white dress, or tell your son you will never get to see him be a father, even though you know he’s going to be great at it….

When that day comes, and you have to tell your nieces and nephews who love you to the moon and back that you won’t be there at their open houses, or to see what they are going to do with the rest of their lives……

When that moment comes, and you see the terror in their faces, and the stark fear in their eyes, when you watch their chins begin to tremble as the realization hits…..

Friend, let me tell you, the pain of quitting will be nothing compared to this pain.

It may take days, or weeks, or months, or years for you to quit; even so, that will be but a cough and sniffle compared to the cancer of watching those you love staring back at you with horror; with fear; with pity; with anger.

It might be hard. I don’t doubt it.

It may cause pain, and you have a right to be afraid.

Quit anyway.

For the people who love you, who can’t take the gut punch of looking at a future without you; for your dog, who won’t understand where you suddenly went; for the many, many wonderful things you should be accomplishing in this life, that nobody else can do, and that you won’t get to do either if your days are cut short; for you, dammit, for YOU, you deserve it; YOU are worth it; YOU are part of a circle of people who love, love, love you and want you around forever.

YOU. YOU.

Just find a reason. Find a method.

Even though it’s really, really hard.

Do it anyway.

Please quit.

Calamity.

The storm came in the morning

A day that had begun as any other

Became a day nobody would forget.

Silent, frozen

Ice spread through our veins

Teeth began to chatter

Realization dawned.

Seeking comfort in the sleep-intoxicated pink cheeks

And tousled hair of our children,

A promise that something in the world

Was still perfectly right.

Fear, indignation, bile rising in our throats

Stomachs leadened, sickened

We stared, wooden

At the screen that once delivered talking turtles

And rainbows to squealing children.

Desperate to stop the flow of information

That we could not fit inside our minds

Physically unable to remove it from our eyes

Lest the threat spread to our own backyard

And we are caught unaware.

Involuntarily flinching at the sudden sound

Of any engine

Churches opened

People flocked to fill them

Less for the prayer or blessings

More for the sense of unity,

A hand to hold.

Stricken faces in our mirrors

We wished for sleep,

For no other reason than to avoid the truth

We spoke in whispers

Just in case

The volume of our every day voices

Could somehow draw the evil

To our own door.

This one day; for weeks, months after

We are a nation of One

Tragedy, The Great Equalizer

Color, religion, income

Brushed away

We are just part of “Us”

And we are against “Them”

We stand together;

Angry, frightened

Proud.

We feel tainted,

Suspicious

Unable to return to the innocence

We once enjoyed.

We are different people now

Changed

Moving forward

Yet still wary.

Three numbers

A constant reminder

Of the collapse

Of two mighty mountains.