When the call came, time stood still. My husband’s only son was dead, my step son was gone from us and we stood in the kitchen in shock. Never to see him again or hear his voice seemed so painful, like a bad nightmare we would wake up from. But it is our reality we must live with, and so must all of those that have been touched by Dan in their lives. We must go on and so it is with those that you love that God finds they need to find their peace in heaven. Dan needed that, to be free of whatever was creating storm clouds in his heart. But it is with some frustration that I wrote this below and delivered it at his memorial service this past Sunday, March 25, 2012. Dan has been a mainstay in the news in Michigan with his death. He has become more of a news story than a human being. Let us not forget Dan was a son, a father, a significant other, a boyfriend, a step son, a step brother, a friend, and a Christian. And what else could he have been? I can only imagine…………………………………
I can only imagine what your life is like now. What you must see every day, how you must feel being free and at peace. I can see and feel that you smile in the heavens much like the sun gleams when it hits the white snow capped mountains or the ocean waves and reflects back the strong summer rays of sun.
Oh, knowing you are happy is wonderful to feel and sense but the pain we feel inside, that is real too. You seem so young in so many ways. It seems like yesterday you were among us, with that silly little smirk we all have come to know and love. We have all heard the stories of how you kicked butt at basketball ripping up the courts with your 3 on 3 in street high school games. You really rocked it man! For a big guy, you could really move it when you wanted to win! Guess those skills started with all those days watching basketball with your dad over Subway sandwiches all those years ago. Yeah, I am sure that had something to do with it.
I know you and your mom had a very special connection. No doubt it had its up and downs. Heck who doesn’t argue with their folks? But through it all there was that unmistakable love. You always knew she wanted the best for you and you wanted to make her proud. You wanted both your parents to be proud of you. And you tried, tried hard to pull it together. Sometimes things just don’t happen the way you would like. You dug down deep some times and other times, you took the easy way out. When you thought you dodged a bullet, another one came your way and you barely escaped. This time, this last time, you didn’t. Wow, none of us really thought this would be the end. The end of our time with you here on earth. We are in shock still somewhat Dan.
It is so easy to sit back now and say we wish you had listened to all the good advice and ignored all the bad advice thrown at you. I guess it is often times hard to know which is which when you are growing up. So much noise and so many voices. You were not happy inside and trying to always find your voice and never quite found it, but never gave up trying and for that Dan, you can be proud. You tried dude. We loved you man in spite of your faults and misgivings. We all wanted you to make it. We wanted you to find your piece of happiness and come to know peace. We just didn’t want it to be this way.
We know you have faith; we know you believe in the Lord. We know you are in His presence and we know He was with you in your final hours. Dan we think you knew at that last minute you breathed your last breath on this earth; the Lord God was with you Dan. He was there to lift you up out of that jail cell to internal freedom. He heard your pleas for help; he knew the struggle needed to end. You were not going to be condemned to damnation; you were forgiven and allowed to be at peace. Your torment is over. Your struggles serve as reminders to those that knew you that life can be hard. They serve as a witness to bad choices can put us in bondage and put chains around us so that we too can find ourselves wearing shackles, if not physically, metaphorically.
You were a precious child of God when you came into the world Dan, and you left this world in the same way, a precious child of God. You loved life but you died hating it. You loved God and you left this earth loving Him still. Amen! Please know that the day you left us, we were and still are loving you.
Dan, I will always remember your smile and smile when I remember you!
She wears her high heels,
And her stand up collar,
Her clothes match perfectly,
She looks worth a million dollars.
As she walks out the elevator,
All heads turn to watch her walk tall
So perfectly put together,
Appearing as if there is not one flaw.
As women have moved in droves to the workforce, the need to progress to higher level demanding roles has increased substantially. With that advent has come the ever ending pressure that is imperative to succeed in the business world. The biggest challenge seems to be fitting all the roles into one day, one lifetime. Trying to maintain some sort of balance, often times involves, either cutting back or eliminating some. Many are opting out of the traditional female iconic tasks of women in past years, long gone.
This really hit home with me a few weeks back when I overheard a woman make a comment to a coworker. This woman is a management supervisor at a high level agency that does impressive, recognizable marketing brand work for a leading manufacturer. Every time I have seen her in the office, she is like the woman above, minus the height! I recently learned she is single, thus I doubt she even has the time to date. She is impeccably dressed, well spoken, pleasantly mannered, articulate, and extremely well liked. Oh and not good in the kitchen!
As I was sitting at my desk, she came over to the two coffee pots by my work station. These two pots are exclusive for the coffee club. These are for those employees that pay to be in this “In Coffee Club” and taste outstanding coffee from overseas verses the free watered down version that is provided that poorly represents a good brew. As luck would not have it for her, the pot was empty. Rule of the club is when it is empty, you make the next pot. Apparently, she had never been in this predicament before and was feeling somewhat overwhelmed. She asked the gentleman who runs it if he would kindly show her how to make it, a pot of coffee. He seemed surprised but responded favorably.
Now what really hit my funny bone that morning was her comment to him, said under hushed tones. As he rounded the corner and came near her, she uttered, “Let me preface this with my saying that I am not domesticated.” With that said, a bold admission, and to a man, no less , I was impressed and humored.
Years ago there was a wonderful commercial everyone talked about. It was a woman professing to be able to go to work and then come home with bacon and fry it up in a pan and let her man know she was still a woman and he was a man. In a sense, she could do it all. Years before this commercial, there was a show called Wonder Woman. Now the picture would be a stressed out woman trying to do it all. A healthier picture is this woman at the office, realizing doing it all is not possible. Thus, she carefully picks and chooses what she wants and can do and leave the rest behind. Life is too short to do it all.
Women with careers, large families, etc, are short on time. My sister has three children all in sports and she works part time. She is lucky to find time to get her hair done, let alone bake cookies. My daughter in law has 3 small children, two in therapy. To clean the entire house daily would mean the children would have very little time to just spend playing with their mommy. Why not have someone come in and help around the house and spend the time with the children and doing things more meaningful when they are young? Choices women are making today make good sense. Granted they are different than the generation before but times have changed.
It is hard to wear too many hats. Most of us are not multiple personalities so can’t go from being a business woman, to a room mother, to a cheerleader coach, to chef, to housekeeper, banker, etc… All of these skills are what it takes to be a domestic engineer. Thus, many working women these days do not have those skill sets anymore. And I am not sure they should be expected to either. But it is funny to think they can balance a million dollar budget and yet are confused about how to cook a potato in the microwave!
Let us not forget too that being a stay at home mother is still an admirable job. It is extremely hard work. You try wearing all those hats and living at your place of employment. There is no off the clock, no coffee club, no meeting at the water cooler, 24/7 shifts, plus doing all roles yourself. No stay at home woman should have to justify that they are not out in the workforce either. It is just crazy, everyone I have met is just as busy, just doing different things and oh, has an immaculate home and cooks to beat the band! And they all seem to know how to bargain shop. In contrast, I have met more working women that have attended classes on how to collect and use coupons because they have no idea how to do either!
However, there are many working women that have managed to create a solid balance between exceptional business expertise and performance and domestic skill sets and bliss. For those that have not, just a few tips below:
Betty Crocker does not just make canned Beefaroni. She also makes cake mixes you can use as a base for excellent deserts and has her own brand of cookbooks.
Dinners are not meant to be cooked solely out of microwaves when you don’t feel like eating out or having take out.
Kitchens are made for cooking in regularly, not just for show for company and dinner parties exclusively.
Starbucks is way overpriced, you can make coffee in a coffee pot. Coffee pots come with instructions.
Good exercise is cleaning your house also, not just going to the gym, especially if you do it extra fast and quite rigorous.
Perhaps the lesson, if there is one, to be learned is appreciate the skills you are fostering in yourself. Recognize the beauty of who you are. Aunt Jemima didn’t care what the rest of the world thought about her pancakes or syrup so why should you?
I think the next time I go out of town and can’t find a place to stay with open vacancies I may just check at the local hospital and see if the Labor and Delivery Department has any rooms open. Have you seen those places these days? Wow, are they ever plush! Geez, if they were that nice when I was having kids, I would have had two more!
Back in the day, my hospital stay consisted of sterile white hospital rooms with white walls that were dingy and tile floors that looked like rejects from the local high school cafeteria. The bed was none other than compliments of the local obstetrician supplier, yep those kinds of cots with the funny foot braces on the end. And the accompanying chair for the spouse was not a comfy recliner but a chair, mind you a not very comfortable, slightly padded the desk chair variety. As if anyone could sleep over night on this, but back in these days, no one slept over night, visiting hours were over at 8:00 p.m. on the dot so the husbands flew out the door!
Okay, let me start with this, upon arriving at the hospital and checking in, I was met with a balloon of sorts. Nope not the kind for my child’s first birthday party but the kind that goes in your derriere, a good old fashion enema. As if the labor pains that were the required 5 minutes minimum apart weren’t bad and stressful enough, not I had to have administered a full bag enema to be sure my bowel was emptied. I prayed that the baby did not come out in the john as I was in there by myself and could not reach the nurse pull chain. I figured I would just yell like hell if I felt something boulder size come out. This sounded like a good exercise for a soon to be new mom.
My first experience with labor I was fortunate enough, or unfortunate enough to have a young teen age girl in the hospital in the wee hours of the morning like me. This way I knew I was not suffering in pain alone, they say misery loves company. Judging by her screaming, she was delivering a 15 pound baby. Oh, and by the way, I was at the ripe old age of 18 and learned quickly she was all of 13. Hence, the nurses were constantly flying to her room leaving my husband and me alone to wonder what the heck we were supposed to do to speed things along. He was hungry and tired; I was in pain and ready for this to be over.
Our first mistake was not to take the birthing classes. I wonder if we thought it would come naturally. Well, guess what, it didn’t. There was nothing natural to either of us about this experience. I don’t know who asked the nurse more, how much longer, him or me. When I got the shot in my spine for pain, giving in the middle of a contraction, I nearly died from the pain. But wait, where did my help go holding me at the end of the shot as I suddenly felt alone? Oh, there it is, on the floor attending to my faithful husband who fainted at the sight of the shot going in my back. I was left sitting on the table wondering where my medical assistant went. I was the one having the baby. I reminded them I was the headliner tonight, at least until the baby got here. I told my husband to get a grip. Maybe he did need something to eat after all and that made him faint but I was not about to let him out of sight or concede to that! No way was he missing out on this fun for a moment, he contributed so he was to be here for the Main Event! His feast was going to have to wait.
Well, somehow we made it through it. In those days, no one knew ahead of time what sex their baby was or if their child was going to be ok. When the baby came out, the doctor announced it. Ours took his good old sweet time. Funny looking back. He laid the baby on top of my stomach and the penis was sticking up like a proud peacock and about 3 minutes later he tells us we have a boy. Really? We look at each other, and can’t help but conceal some laughter. Did he really think we did not recognize the sex?
Baby number two went much more smoothly. This time we took no chances and took the birthing classes. Yes we took the pillow to class and took turns so he got to be the one having the baby. I must say he got so relaxed though he almost fell asleep. I can’t recall ever having that much comfort during labor so I am not sure this exercise was too realistic. The only I can envision going to sleep in a labor and delivery room is a husband, that is if he didn’t mind his wife getting royally ticked off at him. I knew mine would not dare fall asleep!
When the big day came, delivery number two, the stork was coming, he was ready to coach me this time through delivery. He was excited, in fact. Me, on the other end, at the front door, I stopped dead in my tracks. When he asked what was wrong, I pulled the woman’s prerogative number, “I changed my mind.” He looked perplexed, asking me about what. I told him very flatly, about having the baby, going through labor one more time. The last time had been so painful I was not sure I could endure it again. What a saint he was at that moment. With the utmost control, he urged me to at least go to the doctor’s office, as instructed over the phone to be checked out as my pains were irregular. I could think about it, meanwhile the snow continued to pile down on Northern Kentucky sticking to the roads.
He rushed to the doctors to check me out as my labor was irregular who quickly told him to get me down to the hospital so off we went, me still saying I was reluctant to through labor and, by now, him finding this quite humorous and reminding me I might not like the added weight for the rest of my life!
In Labor and Delivery, not much had changed from our last stay two and half years previous. Different hospital but you would never have known it. However, one thing drastically different was the severity of the labor pains. They were mild, extremely mild. Infact, my husband stood there, and then sat by me, routinely bending over me asking if I needed his coaching yet. See, he had mastered the art of labor coaching in the class and was ready to win the award for coach of the year. By God he would have won it too had I needed it. But, that baby came out effortlessly.
Now, both of us are remarried to two wonderful spouses we adore and remain friends. The four of us proudly share four grandchildren. I can’t help but sometimes think about how it began, our family, all those years ago. Bringing those two kids in the world was not like it is done today. We were not in a comfortable room by any stretch of the imagination. There was no family or friends there, just us two. There was no music, cute gowns for me or the baby, no nice furniture…but; it was magical, none the less. Whether is be a 4 Star Room or a starch white hospital delivery room, the birth of a child is a miracle to behold. It was our slice of heaven and I would not change it for anything in the world. It was a blessing and a moment neither of us shall ever forget and always treasure.
Some moments, they always bring a tear to the eye, just reflecting on them. A tear of joy, a tear of love and a tear of thanksgiving.