I Guess I’m Getting Old

Last week I called a friend of mine and complained I couldn’t get warm. My personal internal thermostat was set on ‘freeze’. Shivers were running through my body, even though I was wrapped in an afghan.

“What’s your home thermostat set on?” he asked.

“66 degrees.”

“What does the thermostat read?’

“66 degrees.”

“Well, Deb… then your house is 66 degrees. Turn the heat up. Most people our age have it bumped up to 70. My wife has our house locked in at 71.”

Ack!!! OUR age??? How insulting!!! After I thought about that comment for a minute, I realized he was right. Each morning when I look in the mirror, more and more I see my mother staring back at me! My face is aging. I guess I’m getting old.

The television volume is cranked up a few more decibels than last year, and I drive a few miles per hour slower than normal. My doctor suggested I lose the extra inches around my middle and my daughter asked if I was letting my gray hair grow in. I guess I’m getting old.

Burning the midnight oil to finish a project is no longer an option, and taking a nap on a rainy Sunday afternoon is heavenly. Loud noises and chaos make me cranky. I guess I’m getting old.

Store clerks call me M’am. Police officers don’t look old enough to shave. No one has offered me their seat on public transportation yet, but I bet that day isn’t too far behind. I guess I’m getting old.

The younger generation is shifting from Facebook to Instagram. I’m staying put. Of all the thousands of things my cell phone can do, I only use the camera, Google maps, and check email. I guess I’m getting old.

My flat screen TV monitor suits me just fine… I see no need to upgrade to the new curved, 3D, or supersize version. My eyes flutter shut before Saturday Night Live comes on, yet I’m wide awake for CBS Sunday Morning. I guess I’m getting old.

The next generation is in the wings, poised, ready to take over. I’m ready to step aside and let them. I guess I’m getting old.

I watch young families and reminisce about the good old days… how I was a mom with three young kids a long time ago. What fun we had when they were little. Oh how I cringe at the thought of all the money needed for their care… the doctors, optometrists, orthodontists, sports equipment, college education, weddings, and more. Thankfully no longer a problem in my life. I guess I’m getting old.

I have no responsibilities other than my own happiness. My fabulous kids are beginning their own families. I am the matriarch… the oldest living member of this little group. I guess I’m getting old.

It’s time for me to do what I want, to be selfish… to play… to travel… to paint… to quilt… to catch up with old friends. I want to skate on the lake when it freezes over, and paddle my kayak when it’s not. I can decide to ride my bike, or lace up my athletic shoes and take a walk… or simply grab my camera for a little one-on-one with the local scenery and breathe in the salty beach air. I guess I’m getting old… and thankfully still active.

There is still so much to see and do in this life. I may be a little slower, a little heavier, a bit more wrinkled with snow on the roof… but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Getting old is a privilege not given to every one. I guess I’m happy to be getting old.

The Power of the Kitchen Table

This morning I had a flashback to a metal trivet that hung in my mother’s kitchen, right near the sink. I believe she placed it there when we moved in… and it didn’t budge until we sold the house fifty-five years later.

The trivet was black cast iron with a few flowers painted in red and yellow with some green leaves. White lettering read: Of all the places I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best.

Why is that??? Is it because of the power of the kitchen table?? Of all the tables strategically placed around our houses… coffee, dining, end, picnic, hall… what makes the kitchen table so special? I mean really… the dining room table gets all the glory. Called into service only on special occasions, it’s the Grand Duchess of the home in comparison to the Cinderella kitchen table.

The dining table gets to play dress up with the fancy china, crystal goblets, and silverware, while it is lovingly draped in beautiful flowing linens. Finishing touches of flowers and candles lend a formal feeling to the air. Family, friends, and guests gather around it and laugh, and tell stories. A magnificent turkey (or roast) is brought to the table with a flourish and greeted with ohs and ahs. Manners are on high alert and the meal ends with an extraordinary dessert! Wow!

Meanwhile… back in the kitchen, Cinderella has been relegated as a catch-all area. When the kitchen counter seems too small, the kitchen table steps up to fill the void. Dirty dishes, flour dust, seasonings, and food containers cover every available square inch. It took a beating, but still stands proud, happy to be of service.

The rest of the time the lowly kitchen table is the hub of family central. Kids spread their school books out and do their homework while dinner is being cooked by the parental unit in charge. Impromptu visitors gather around the table to chat over a cup of tea and slice of cake. Got a craft project to do? Spread everything out on the kitchen table. Need to roll out a pie crust? The kitchen table has plenty of room. Need to have a family discussion? Yup, the kitchen table is the place to hold it.

Every nick, scratch, pen mark, marker or crayon stoke means someone sat there and created a masterpiece. Oh, if only kitchen tables could talk… just THINK of the stories they could tell.

High-top kitchen counters are trying to push the table out of the lime light… but so far it hasn’t taken over rural America. It’s just not the same. Dinner time should be ‘family time’… sitting in a circle around a table encouraging conversation. Not all in a straight line staring straight ahead, or worse eating while watching someone else still cooking and cleaning.

If you knew my family life when our kids were small, the above statements would strike you as funny. Every night I had dinner on the table when my husband came home from work. Every night we would sit in our usual seats. Every night, after admonishing the kids about their elbows (or forearms) on the table, to chew with their mouths closed, to sit up straight, and eat their peas… he would ask each child what they learned new that day. At least once a month one child or other would leave the table in tears. Once, a little girl eating over one night was the one to get up and run upstairs in tears. I GLARED at my husband.

That kitchen table heard me assert myself one night and declare I purchased a much desired Mini-Van WITHOUT my husband’s permission. It beamed as my daughter introduced us to her serious boyfriend.. who soon became her husband. It served as a Christmas tree one year when I couldn’t afford one and stacked the donated Poinsettias in a pyramid in the center. It became a support when my son and I held a very serious conversation through the use of post-it notes and a pen… because we didn’t want to speak out loud and be overheard. Years and years of memories were made at that table.

The kitchen is considered the ‘heart’ of the home. I guess that’s true… and I guess that is why guests feel so more at ease there. Life is less formal in the kitchen. Coming in the backdoor is considered an honor… being deemed a friend as opposed to a guest. It’s kind of like taking a peek behind the curtain… at where the magic happens… a happy place.

Looking back, I find it strange my mom’s trivet hung on a wall in a kitchen without a table… or any space at all to visit while she cooked. It was a dark and cold north facing room without a hint of comfort. My family ate every meal at the formal dining table. Hmmm… Curious.

What stories would YOUR kitchen table tell if it could speak??

Living the Dream in Alaska

There is just so much to see and do here in Alaska… that by the time we roll into the driveway at the end of the day it takes all of our fortitude to throw ourselves into bed.

It’s an Alaskan ‘thing’ to take your shoes off when entering a house. I’m guessing it started when women got tired of cleaning up all the dirt and mud that gets tracked in from the slushy outside. However, we weren’t told of this and so didn’t pack any slippers. Believe me when I tell you the floors are so chilly in the morning you really have to think twice about getting out of bed to use the bathroom… even in the summer. Brrrrrr….

Visiting family is always fun… but when they live in the back woods of Alaska ‘off the grid’ while building the house (not a cabin… but a 3 bedroom house) of their dreams… it makes the visit an amazing adventure!! When I say ‘building their own house’ I mean… chopping down the tree, hauling it to the site, milling it into lumber, drying it, and THEN using it for building. There’s no delivery from the local lumber yard… no siree… not for this family. They have been working on this masterpiece for 7 years… and hope to complete it by year’s end… or early Spring… or…

House

The joy this family gets out of all this work radiates out of them and surrounds you with excitement. Their smiles say it all. After spending a day blazing trails with them while riding in a tractor-type-tank-thing… you clearly understand this is way much more than just building a house. It’s ‘living the dream’. The open skies, the wildflowers, amazing vistas, swamps and rivers… and on a clear day you can see Mt. McKinley… OH! It’s a whole different way of life. A life where shotguns are ‘at the ready’ to protect yourself from bears, cans of OFF spray are tucked in easy to reach nooks and crannies for a quick spritz, and construction permits and inspections are non-existent. It’s not a life for me… I enjoyed the visit immensely… but I like the comforts of my ‘already built’ home more.

Here’s a picture of the tractor/tank wheel after running through a swamp:

Tractor Wheel

 

Oh… and let me tell you about the ‘toys’! If you have ever watched a little boy play in the dirt with his plastic toy tractors, back hoe, front loader, and dump trucks… imagine that in real life. This family has all that and more!! Ski mobiles fill the multi-compartment garages, as do nail guns, reciprocating saws with diamond blades, dog sleds, and so much more!!

Their stories kept us raptured for hours. Moose hunting, salmon fishing, getting lost in a blizzard while snowmobiling and having to stay warm and dry… and more importantly… alive… in the open drifts until the storm lifted and they could find their way home… falling from a second story loft and hitting the wood burning stove on the way down… OY! This is all in a day of choosing this life style.

photo 3

 

Uncle Earl was a wealth of information… and made certain we ‘saw it all’!!!

There are LOTS of bugs here… but they don’t seem to bite. Standing outside in the middle of a swampy forest, my face was the only thing uncovered… and although the bugs were annoying, only one bit me on the forehead. It itched for a few seconds… then vanished. You use the spray more to keep them flying around you… not to keep them from biting you.

OH… I can’t leave without telling you all I spotted a MOOSE!!! I was in an adorable town named Talkeetna… when I saw him standing in front of a store. He was painted!!! I am familiar with the painted cows that swept the nation a generation ago… but here it’s Moose. They are so cute!!

Moose

Changed For Good

“Everyone comes in to your life for a reason.” How many times have you heard that saying?? 10… 20… 100 times or more? I believe I’m the person I am today because of the people I have brushed up against in life… if only for a split second. Everyone you meet and speak to impacts your life in one way or another. Every day… every contact.

At 16 I was hired by the local toy store, Tiny Tots as a part-time sales clerk after school and weekends. Back in those days slacks were not considered appropriate work attire… and therefore I had to wear a skirt and blouse, or dress under my company approved red and white circus striped smock. My job responsibilities were the same as they are in retail today… climbing ladders to stock shelves, un-loading boxes in the back room from pallets, and sweeping the floors. Can you imagine doing that all in a skirt?

My favorite days were working the doll department. Standing behind a glass counter I was in charge of unlocking the cases for a customer to inspect the Madame Alexander dolls (you might associate them with the American Girl dolls of today). I watched closely as mothers of every variety passed through the store.

From harried, stressed out moms yelling at their kids to behave… “Or the mean lady behind the counter will yell at you”, to others imploring their whining and crying children to “Just stop it!!!” At times like this I would do my best to catch the child’s attention, and behind their mother’s back I would cross my eyes and shake my head to make the child giggle.

One evening a mother came quietly up to the counter. Holding her daughter’s hand, both of them smiling, she asked if I would please let them see the Madame Alexander doll with the blonde hair. I unlocked the case and placed the doll into the mother’s hands. She bent down and gingerly handed the doll to her daughter… who lovingly caressed the doll.

“Remember, we are just looking today, not buying. If you decide you like this doll, then when we get home we will add it to the list for Santa. You never know, Santa might leave it under the tree for you on Christmas morning.”

No tears, no tantrums, no whining, kicking, or screaming. It was as simple as that!

The little girl handed me the doll to be placed safely back in the glass cabinet under lock and key… then left the store. That was the entire reason for coming into the store that night. Simply to touch and hold that doll.

I was only a 16-year-old teenager, but I learned that night that THAT was the kind of mom I wanted to be when I grew up. A mom who ‘tunes in’ to her children, a mom who takes the time to ‘be in the moment’.

Time moved on, and I never forgot that lesson. Eventually I became a mom to 3 crazy kids… and as luck would have it a Toys R Us toy store opened up just down the highway.

It was a few weeks before Christmas. My husband was out-of-town on a business trip… again. Looking for something to do with the kids during that awkward ‘dinner time’ I decided a trip to the toy store and dinner out would certainly kill some time. Remembering that sweet loving mother so many years ago… I grabbed some paper and pencils, packed the kids in the car and headed to the store. A new family tradition was born that night.

Driving to the store I explained WHY we were going… we were going to make a wish list for Santa. Each one would have their own list (of course I had to write the list for my littlest), they could put on anything at all. It doesn’t mean they would get it, and we weren’t buying anything at all that night… this was simply a ‘list making’ activity.

At first they didn’t quite ‘get it’. One daughter would write she wanted a specific board game, the other a ‘klacker’ (remember those annoying things?). They were timid, and frugal with their choices. I had to keep explaining there were no limits, their list could be as long as they wished, and the item as big as they wished. Anything goes!! “Put it on the list”, became our mantra for the night.

Eventually it sunk in. As we scoured each aisle, and wrote down the item of their desire, it was becoming more and more fun. They relaxed, they smiled, they wrote, they talked to each other… it was a fabulous family night.

We turned the corner to the bike aisle… and that’s when it really got fun! Battery operated jeeps were on display, with a whopping price tag over $200.00!!! You should have seen my kid’s eyes light up as they realized they could “Put it on the list”!!!

It was such a pleasure to be in a toy store with all three of my kids, and never having to utter the negative word, “No”… not even once. They were well-behaved, laughing, smiling, and most importantly dreaming and wishing… and getting along with each other. Other families looked at us with envy.

I continued the evening’s gaiety by suggesting we go out to dinner. Cheers were heard all around. We went across the street to Friday’s where I made the announcement they could order anything they wanted… even an ice cream sundae instead of a meal. Afterall… it was a magical night (and I figured one night of not eating healthy wouldn’t kill them).

So you see… this wonderful family tradition all became possible because of a 15 minute interaction with a woman and her daughter whom I have never seen again in my life, but never forgot the impression she made on me.

Through friends, family, and brief encounters I have learned…

To have tolerance of others

To live on my own

To drink from cups with my left hand

To eat at the hotel bar when traveling

To love

To cry

To enjoy good food

To not believe everything I hear

To enjoy Sunday drives as a passenger

To s-l-o-w d-o-w-n

To speak up

And oh so much more!!

However; it makes me wonder what people have learned from me? How have I impacted the lives of those I interact with each day?

I hope it’s all good.

Of course I couldn’t end this piece without mentioning the song from WICKED… ‘For Good’. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsJ_deSs18U

 

 

 

Zombie Attack! – DP#75

Zombies

 

My town was under siege by ZOMBIES today. All 9,500 plus. Asbury Park became a Guinness World Record holder of the largest group of zombies… beating the record by about 1,500 zombies.

There was one group that was ‘in it’ as a family. It was clear the Dad was totally into the zombie thing… dressed as a Viking Zombie. Following behind him were his wife… a little prissy, but still dressed for the fun of it all… two teenage daughters, dressed in regular clothes with a little blood splatter but wearing viking hats… a younger daughter dressed to the hilt and a son as ‘in to it’ as his dad. It was so great seeing an entire family participating in their dad’s passion.

 

Sweet Dreams – DP#74

Dream-Word-Written-In-The-Sand-1555464

 

Have you ever had a dream so wonderful that you begged to go back to sleep? I had one this morning and the happy feeling has stayed with me all day.

Most dreams are filled with people I know, friends and family. This morning as the alarm buzzed in my ear I was meeting a friend in a movie theater. He was waving me over to my seat. In the real world this person wouldn’t give me the time of day, yet in my dream he was happy to see me. I smiled and waved back.

I closed my eyes and snuggled back down under the covers trying not to lose the moment. It worked… for about 15 minutes. I couldn’t bring the exact moment back… but close enough. I had a warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach all day long.

My body shivered remembering the nightmares I used to get while on medication for PTSD.  It has been AGES since I’ve woken up with my heart racing in fear. I haven’t had a panic attack or PTSD episode in months. I am not ready to relax 100%… but I’m breathing easier these days. It’s dreams like these that keep me that way. I only wish that a majority of them came true 🙂

Sweet dreams!

 

First Pancake…

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of my first child. She came into this world 32 years ago at 7:59pm on Monday October 13th. I have no clue how this is possible since I am only 39… and holding!

While having the blood test taken for my marriage license back in 1979 the doctor cautioned it might be difficult to conceive a child. Due to my complications with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and a low sperm count on my husband’s end things were not going to be easy. “Come talk to me when you are ready,” he instructed. “There are many ways to work this out”.

We were married in November 1979… and I was pregnant by January!! So much for having trouble!

I had been traveling for work and was gone for a week. When I returned home, my husband left for a two-week trip, also for work. By the time he returned home I was as sick as a dog. Thinking I had the flu I stayed wrapped up in a blanket for the entire two weeks he was away, tucked on the couch… not far from the bathroom.

We were supposed to go to dinner with his side of the family, however I was too ill and just couldn’t make myself get up and get moving. The thought of food, any food, made me nauseous. He went without me, and I stayed curled on the couch. When he returned home he had the most ridiculous look on his face. He looked me square in the eyes and announced, “My brother thinks you are pregnant!”

“What?” He could not have surprised me more. No way did the thought I could possibly be pregnant ever enter my head. Not even once in the entire 3 weeks of being sick. The doctor said it would be difficult. No, I had the flu. The very next day I made an appointment with the doctor… just to be sure.

During the exam, the doctor looked up from between my legs with a smile on his face and said, “I thought you were going to come to talk me first”. He continued, “I’m not a betting man, but I would bet you were pregnant”. And so it began!

Once I was able to eat and keep the contents of my stomach where they belonged, it was smooth sailing from there on. Occasionally a particular odor would make me queasy… but that was all. Time moved quickly forward… to the due date.

The Eagles were playing the Giants at Giant’s Stadium that sunny Sunday in October. The Phillies were playing for the pennant that evening. What a great sports day in our household. Yes… we bleed green for the Eagles and are Fanatics of the Phillies. My husband had tickets for the Eagles game. As he was getting dressed to leave, I felt the first twinge of a contraction. Oh my! Now what?? How long do I have? Should I mention this to my husband? Should he go to the game? What if he went to the game and I had to go to the hospital without him? YIKES!
He reluctantly decided to stay home. His reasoning being he would most likely have an accident on the way to the hospital from nerves if I called him to leave early. We weren’t ready to call the family yet and let them know I was in labor. Having never been through this before we had absolutely no clue what to expect. We decided to keep ‘mum’. Of course my brother (a Giant’s fan) called to make a friendly wager on the game. My husband, wanting to appear aloof, invited my brother to come watch the game at our house… assuming he would decline. Nope… it didn’t go that way. My brother was there in an hour, ready to root for his favorite team. I was timing the contractions as the guys were timing the plays.

The Eagles won… 31-16! Next up, the Phillies game. My brother decided to stay and watch that also. We still didn’t let him in on what was going on. It was getting late and I was tired so I went to our room to rest. The contractions were getting closer and stronger, but not so bad I felt we had to go. It had been twelve hours since I felt the first one.

The Phillies won the Pennant! I finally called the doctor! He commented he appreciated that I waited until the game was over to call him, and that he would meet us in the hospital shortly. It was 1:00am Monday, October 13, 1980.

My brother was spending the night. We grabbed our pre-packed overnight bags and called him to the kitchen. We instructed him on how to use the coffee maker and told him we were off to have a baby. To say he was dumbfounded was an understatement. He had absolutely no clue I was in labor all day!

During the last trimester my husband and I signed up for natural childbirth classes. They were held at the hospital every Monday evening at 8PM. I have always felt that giving birth was a natural act and should be dealt with accordingly. I wasn’t ready to go totally ‘granola’ on the issue as I do believe being in a hospital setting if a problem occurs is the best place to be. However, I really don’t believe in medication unless absolutely necessary. If there is an emergency and you have to knock me out… OK, go for it. If the medication is just to make the pain go away, well then I will just wait first to see how bad the pain is before I will let it into my system. I can usually breathe my way through pain.

All day I am in the labor room, waiting for something to happen. The contractions are still coming, slow and steady… more of a bother than a pain. There is a belt strapped around my big, bloated middle measuring the intensity of the contractions. I am tired and cranky, but still smiling. This hospital had a ‘daddy room’ where Stan could take a breather, watch TV, get refreshments, and take a nap. At 7:00pm he was exhausted and went for a nap. HE was exhausted???? Don’t even get me started!! I had been in labor for 36 hours by now.

At 7:40PM it’s time to PUSH! Whoa! It happened all of a sudden! In an instant the room became a flurry of activity. The doctor was barking orders, the nurses were flipping pieces of the bed into different positions making it fit through the hallways. I am off to the delivery room… where the magic happens! “Wake my husband!”, I shout. This is exciting!!

Once in the delivery room I have to transfer from the bed I was in, to the table in the middle of the room. No one is there to help me so the doctor asks if I can do it myself. Sure… no problem. As I exert energy to get up, a major contraction hits… and my child comes squirting out! The doctor, an older backwoods kind of guy who should have retired years ago but just LOVES bringing red, wrinkled, wiggly babies into this world, looks over at me as he is preparing a numbing shot for my episiotomy. He drops the needle, takes two giant steps and snatches my daughter before she hits the floor like a Super Bowl winning receiver… and tucks her in the crook of his elbow. Welcome to the world my precious daughter!

My husband missed the entire birth. The nurse woke him up, threw some scrubs at him, and instructed to dress in them and wait by the delivery room door until called in. He did as he was told. While standing at the door he heard a baby cry. A woman sweeping the floor asked, “Is that your baby?” He replied he wasn’t sure. “Well there’s only one woman up here giving birth right now… so you had better get in there!” she said.

She was born one minute before our last natural childbirth class was to start. I guess we passed the course ☺ My husband ran down to the first floor class room to share the good news.

Yesterday as I cooked her breakfast, French Toast… I was reminded that she was my ‘first pancake’. You know how when you are making pancakes the first one is your ‘test’? The pan needs to be the right temperature, the butter melted ‘just so’. The first one comes out OK, but not perfect. Still good tasting, still good looking… but you are not going to win any awards. This first child of mine had the roughest time and paved the way for the next two.

As parenting goes, I was laid back most of the time… but too strict in other areas. When this child came home from college the first time, she decided at 11:00PM she was going out to a friend’s. “What? No way”, I remarked. “You are NOT leaving this house at this late hour to go to a guy’s house”. When the second child came home the first time from college, she bounded down the stairs at 11:00PM and I said, “Have a good time”. See? First pancake.

Thirty-two years have passed. We have gone through many trials and tribulations. First steps, first tooth, kindergarten, boys, driving, accidents, panic attacks, college and so much more. I wouldn’t change a thing! I love my first pancake. She is perfect in every way.

Happy Birthday dear daughter!

It’s All Relative

It’s 11:00, do you know where your relatives are?

My mom was an only child. So was my dad. That doesn’t make for a lot of relatives, does it? I grew up with no aunts, uncles or cousins. My family consisted of mom, dad, two brothers, a grandmother and grandfather on my father’s side whom we saw once or twice a year… maybe… and me. No huge family reunions for our family, family weddings, baby showers, or graduation parties. Nope.

Growing up I remember family dinners once a year at my grandparents. They were stressful occasions even at my very young age. I always sat next to my mom, across from my brothers and father. My dad would stare at me and wiggle his ears when he thought no one was looking, which made me wiggle and giggle in my seat. “Mrs. Vanderbilt would be disappointed to see you giggling at the dinner table young lady”, my grandfather would admonish. “Who the heck is Mrs. Vanderbilt?” I would wonder to myself.

It turns out Mrs. Vanderbilt was the etiquette queen of the century. My grandparents followed her every word. Children were to be seen and not heard. We were not to play loudly in the house, speak only when spoken to, and obey every command. Oh, don’t forget to leave the room walking backwards so as not to turn your back on the rest of the guests.

My brothers got away with murder at these dinners. My oldest brother was the apple of their eyes. You see… my grandparents believed each family should only consist of one child. So, when the first grandchild was born they were ecstatic it was a boy to carry on the Hathaway name. They called him ‘Button’… as in ‘cute as a’. Every holiday dinner ended with Junket milk pudding as it was his favorite.

A second child came into this world a few years later. Uh oh, accidents happen they surmised, plus it was another boy so it was guaranteed the Hathaway name would continue, yippie! This brother wasn’t as favored as the first, however he looked so much like their own golden haired son they had to set their crazy feelings aside and allow him into their hearts. This is the brother who, out of boredom shot peas under the table at me with the use of his spoon.

Then the unthinkable happened… a third child came along… me! In their eyes my mother was a whore (of course their beloved son had nothing at all to do with it), and I was a good for nothing girl. Oh my! My grandparents were not pleased with my mother or me and therefore were seldom spoken to at these dinners. At the age of four I could feel the glare radiating from my grandfather’s end of the table. I am certain my father felt it also and tried to lighten the air with his wiggly ears. I was his princess and he was rescuing me from the nasty villain.

As time went on I learned it was really my grandfather who had ‘issues’. My grandmother loved us all but was not allowed to show affection or would incur her husband’s wrath. I wish I had known that before she passed away. As an adult looking back I see it so clearly. Sitting in her kitchen at the tiny enamel table in the corner (where the tiny dishes of Junket were cooling for dessert) I remember her slipping me a sideward glance and smiling.

There was no love loss between my mom and her father-in-law. My dad passed away when I was seven years old and these unbearable dinners came to an end. If I remember correctly we did go one more time, but it was so awkward and uncomfortable they were scrapped altogether.

While sifting through my mom’s papers recently after her death I ran across my grandmother’s obituary and a bunch of letters from strange people I had never heard of. I had to re-read the obituary a few times before it struck me what I was reading. Not one, but two aged newspaper clippings boiled my grandmother’s life down to two paragraphs. Both clippings clearly stated she left behind four grandchildren. Four???? Unless my old age is fooling me, the last time I counted there were only ever three of us, my two brothers and myself… three.

My parents were married on the Belmar Beach June 5, 1946, my mom’s 21st birthday. A minister (wink, wink) preformed the service. I don’t know how my dad did it, but a marriage license was never applied for, blood tests never taken, and a marriage certificate never issued. My mom was an ostrich with her head in the sand. When did she find all this out? When she applied for social security benefits after his death, after 15 years of marriage… THAT’S when she found out! Imagine her shock!

I always had the feeling there was a half sibling running around this planet somewhere. My dad was married when he met my mom. Then again, so was she. She divorced her first husband because she felt “the good lord did not intend her to be beaten up every Friday night by an alcoholic “. Apparently my dad never went through with his divorce. Now I am on the hunt for a half sibling. I calculate they should be in their mid to late sixties.

Also found in her secret paper hide out were deeds, receipts, and death certificates for her father’s side of the family. What a shock to discover mom’s father had two brothers! Every time a door would slam by itself mom would say, “Uncle Joe has come for a visit”… meaning her Uncle Joe was stopping by to crash on the sofa on his way through town. She told me she never really saw him, just heard him arrive and leave. That is the most she ever said about her uncles.

Come to find out through reading letters from someone named Marie, Joe was a Police Lieutenant in New York City and was married… to Marie. I have no clue if they had children. I continued to read more letters and stumbled upon David, mom’s other Uncle. I never heard of him. He had a son, Edward who has already passed away.

So the hunt begins. This is more than just learning about my ancestry. There are people out their sharing my DNA and I intend to find them.

Do you know all of your relatives? Are their any secrets and/or stories you don’t have all the facts of? Now’s the time to track them down. Happy hunting