Irish Eyes Are Smiling

March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody! This is my favorite Irish poem/song since I was little. I thought I would share it with ya! Reminds me of my mom. She had the most beautiful eyes and they always seemed to be smilin’!

 When Irish Eyes are smilin’

And Irish smiles are big,

When Irish hearts are hopeful,

And the piper plays a jig.

When Irish stew is bubblin’

And the soda bread is hot,

And Irish tea is steepin’

In a little Irish pot.

When the room is warm with laughter

And the songs are bright and bold,

And there’s poetry and magic

In the stories that are told.

Isn’t it a blessing and isn’t it just grand

To know a little part of you belongs to Ireland!

My Little Love Bug Has a Nasty Stomach Bug

March 16, 2015

My little one was sick all weekend that’s why I haven’t been on. I feel confident it’s not the paper towels she has been feasting on whenever she gets the chance. A little stomach bug is going around. So far it has hit my one year old and now my husband. My husband does quite well with the pain but I get so sad looking at my little one and how distraught she is with this bug. She looks at me hoping I can magically make her feel better and all I can do is feed her cheerios, water and tons of hugs. I can’t wait until she’s old enough for ginger ale and chicken soup. I also hope this bug doesn’t affect me until Friday because that’s when I’ll be done with the stupid state assessment.

Paper Towels Are a Vegetable, Right?

March 13, 2015

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. -Franklin P Jones

My one year old loves to eat paper products: Paper towels, toilet paper rolls, Dixie cups, napkins, grocery lists, etc. Whatever she can get her sticky little fingers on  in the 2.8 seconds my back is turned goes straight into her mouth. I used to worry about this, now I don’t.  I used to  think  she would choke or get sick, now I don’t.  I realize that if I don’t immediately try to save her from the  paper monsters, she gets bored  and discards the paper products.  Besides, paper comes from plants so technically, she got her dose of vegetables for the day! I’m not a writing a book on parenting, I’m just trying to get by.

Microphone drop…………

 

 

Fly Me To the Moon!

March 12, 2015

The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.  When the world seems familiar, when one has got used to existence, one has become an adult.

~Eugene Ionesco

One of my fondest memories of my dad as a kid was the fact that he took time out of his days to take me to parks. My dad and I loved finding new parks to go to and explore. That was our thing. We would travel around the different areas and have picnics in the parks of Chicago and its neighboring suburbs. Sometimes we even went to a couple parks in one day…if there was time.

My absolute favorite park we would go to was called Memorial Park but it was nicknamed Rocket Park for the amazing Rocket slide it had. Most parks (at least most city parks) didn’t shape their equipment into awesome things like rockets. In fact, the only things that usually were shaped as something else were the baby swings and rockers and those were lame. When a slide was shaped as something different, it was awesome. I honestly felt like this was the tallest and scariest slide that had ever existed. I would pretend that it was going to shoot me into space and my dad would be the mission control person that would tell me “Houston, We have a problem!” I being the ever amazing astronaut would fix the problem by shooting myself off the ramp of the slide. This place, particularly the slide, was my Disney Land.

Rocket Park was a special place for my dad and I. He never brought my brother and sisters there. Only us! We then would follow our space exploration with some ice cream from Primo’s. And instead of returning to Earth, we returned home where I would already be passed out in the car from my long journey.

In high school, a friend of mine lived by Rocket Park. We were cutting though the park to go to some party. As we were walking through the park, I asked her if we could go down the slide. She seemed a little irritated but obliged and as we were both sitting up in the top where the tip of the rocket was. I felt that the slide wasn’t as tall and scary as it used to be. I didn’t feel that I was about to blast off into space anymore. I didn’t feel anything anymore. I grew up. It was a terrible realization: I wasn’t a kid anymore.

I can’t wait to take my daughter to that park, have a picnic, and man the mission control station as she shoots out into space so that I can have that feeling again.

Thanks Dad!

Sista-Cuzzy-Friend

March 11, 2015

Having friends you like who are like you is a form of narcissism.

– Laurence J. Peters

                I believe you can have as many best friends as you want. I call mine my crew, there are exactly 9 of us, and we have been a tight-knit group since high school and/or college. But only a few people have the luxury of being my  sista-cuzzy-friend. That honorary title is given to my blood-cousin, soul-sista, and friend till the absolute end, Bethie.  Bethie has been in my life since I was four years old. We would have started our friendship sooner but she wasn’t born yet. We have the ability to finish each other’s sandwiches, jokes and sentences (and we say some off the wall stuff). We also have the ability read each other’s thoughts as well. We have been through a lot together. This includes: Family parties, vacations, being in a hold up at McDonalds and refusing to leave without our jackets and McNuggets, faking her death to play a joke on our parents (a completely unfunny joke now that I look back at it which took several years to earn her parents’ trust back from), and losing a parent to the  stupid cancer monster. Even up to a year ago, she was the sole beneficiary to my mass fortune from being an educator in the event of something terrible happened to me.  I also introduced Bethie to some amazing music, people and unfortunately every bad habit that she does or has done in her life. I’m not proud of that but I am proud to be the one who introduced her to her wonderful husband, Steve.

Bethie has always been a jack of all trades, master of none type of person which made her a blast at parties! She can sing, play music, create art, and write well.  But recently, she has found her calling as a chef. She’s an amazing one as well so I guess she’s beginning master the art of cuisine.

 Her husband got the opportunity to work a few months in Silicon Valley, California with his startup company and Bethie tagged along with him as his supportive wife.  He did the same for her while she took culinary classes in Italy, so why not return the good favor, right? She was just looking for a job to keep her busy.  I wish she just ate brownies all day, watching Maury to find out who the father was, dreaming of coming back to Chicago but instead she found the job of her dreams. She is working for a farm to table type of catering business and she fell in love! After talking to her, I can already read her mind. She LOVES California!  I can tell she’s considering a permanent residence in Northern California although she won’t actually tell me yet. It’s the double-edge sword when being able to read the mind of your sista-cuzzy- friend.

This is a bittersweet feeling I am experiencing! I, of course, want the best for my sista-cuzzy-friend but I want her to have the best here in Chicago!  I know I’m being selfish! She loves the organic, healthy and relaxing nature offered in sunny California. I know Chicago is not known for the incredibly health-conscience food options it offers. We are the home of the deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches for goodness sake. I’m fairly certain the Chicago weather is also not helping with any convincing as well.  What I fear the most about any possible moves is the fact that I will only see my compadre a handful of times a year. That’s just not enough.  She’s more important than pretty much every person I interact with on a daily basis and she is the one I make fun of most of those people to. Having said that, I know she needs this. She’s young and  is a very free spirit! The opportunities she and her husband are being presented with are absolutely astonishing and not going to be there forever. Not many people can pick up and go like my dear Bethie. Bethie, like the little birdie she is, is not meant to be caged.

 

Cathie-3, Cancer-Zero

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.

~Winston Churchill

Seeing all these amazing people shaving their heads for St. Baldricks really inspired me to take some time away from the comedy and write a heart-felt piece. This one is another story about my mom’s battle with cancer. I apologize for the difficulty or lack of sense the read may be, it’s incredibly hard for me to reread or proofread this piece.

My mother battled 3 aggressive forms of  cancer for 8 long, tough years.  She never complained about being poked, prodded, having parts of her body lopped off, or glued together. Unfortunately, through those years my father, siblings and I spent countless nights in the ICU fearing the end was near. We would say a final blessing with the priest, and even invited family from the many different states and countries to come and pay their final respects while my poor mother lay unconscious and intubated. Eventually, out of towners stopped packing funeral suits and dresses when they came because those outfits were unnecessary, the priests no longer came to say the final blessings  and would come to just visit and talk with her instead, and my family and I would just sit and reminisce about fond memories until my mom would wake up. Because in the dawn of a new day, my mother always woke up… and usually wanted her hair brush. Her resilience and love of life prohibited her from leaving this earth. Even in September, 2011, when the arteries by her heart exploded from doing all the work her no-longer functioning lungs could perform. She had an emergency surgery and even then, the next morning she woke up. Unfortunately, due to the severity of that complication, she was put on Hospice which left her very uneasy. Let’s face it. Being told you’re going into Hospice, is being told your days are numbered.

My mother decided she was going to make every second of her valuable life count. This was October 3, 2011.

October, 2011 was a very unacceptable time to go according to my mother. There was still Christmas, a baby shower for my sister that needed planning, the triplets’ communion, my niece, Ryen’s many sporting events, my nephew, Richie’s graduation, and just recently my wedding to help plan. My mother knew better than to leave my dad in charge of any of these events. She always liked to make life easier for us and having my dad involved in our event planning usually led to fights, hang-ups, and pity-parties. My dad is an amazing provider but sometimes you forgot about that when his short temper arose!

Christmas, the first hurdle, came and went. Normally, my parents host Christmas but this year my sister Michele and I took a crack at it and I have to say it went well! Maybe the food was a little cold and we may not have had enough seats but I felt the calories burning off as I stood and ate my slightly colder than room temperature turkey.

February, 2012 Michele’s baby, Joseph, was born. My mother was at the hospital waiting for her newest grandson to join us for many hours. He came and she held him and she was so happy to be there for a positive reason instead of surgeries, chemo treatments, and MRI’s. I’ve never seen such a proud nana.

April, 2012 the triplets made their communion. My mother, father and I got to see these 3 little 8 year olds proudly hold up their hands to accept the body of Jesus Christ with ear to ear grins. Their mother, who is my oldest sister Mary Ellen, anxiously sat there hoping they would not say anything disrespectful to the priest about the way the bread tasted but was also beaming  with happiness to have my parents witness this amazing milestone in their lives.

All spring of 2012, My brother’s daughter and my rock star of a niece Ryen played and dominated every sport she joined. My mother was able to see her outperform every athlete she came across while still showing the sportsmanship every parent hopes their child will demonstrate.

My nephew Ritchie graduated from 8th grade that May. My mother got to see him take the diploma and had the experience of seeing her son’s protégé begin the steps of becoming an independent and determined young man like her son was and is.

The summer of 2012 was beginning to take a toll on my mother’s health. If you don’t remember the disgustingly hot and swarthy weather, let me just say that we were comparable to Death Valley, California. I believe it was worse here if you factor in the humidity. One day while I was visiting my parents, I told them about how we settled for June 29, 2013 for our wedding day. My mother congratulated me but then mentioned that although she would do everything in her power to help me with my wedding, she did not expect to be around for the actual wedding. I of course cried and told her she would. For goodness sake, I started to believe that she was going to outlive us all. She nodded her head to appease me but I saw the look in her eyes as the sparkly blue  iris turned greyish and foggy like she was holding back tears. The rest of that summer was a little tough emotionally on me. My fiancé was awesomely supportive during my many mood swings and breakdowns but it didn’t matter because in the back of my mind I knew I would gain a husband and lose a mother within the year. So one day, let’s say Julyish 20ish, I asked my fiancé if instead of having a large wedding in June, 2013, could we instead have an incredibly intimate wedding in September, 2012? He being that awesomely supportive person  said, “No Problem,” and we scratched that original plan and started planning a wedding in the next few weeks. His wonderful parents and my incredible dad created a wedding in about 4 weeks so that my mother would be in attendance. On September 29, 2012, my closest friends and family joined us for a wedding by the lake and dinner afterward. It was a beautiful and special day. What made that day even more important to me was that on September 30, 2012 at 6:30 am, with the dawn of a new day, my mother took her last breath and died peacefully in my father’s arms with thoughts of her children and grandchildren still with her from the night before. We buried her on October 3, 2012 one year to the day she was put into Hospice.

mom at the cubs game   rohan meuris family wedding pic

My Mother, The Trendsetter!

March 9, 2015
 My veins are filled, once a week with a Neapolitan carpet cleaner distilled from the Adriatic and I am as bald as an egg. However I still get around and am mean to cats.

~John Cheever, letter to Philip Roth, 10 May 1982, published in The Letters of John Cheever, 1989, concerning his cancer and its treatment

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, I have to say out of all of us, she took the news the best. While we sat and cried, she and my sister (who is also an amazing nurse) asked the necessary questions one would about what to expect in the next few months and of course what can my mother do to beat this miserable burden on her health. She was told that her cancer was inoperable, so the best solution was heavy doses of radiation and chemotherapy.

My mom handled chemotherapy and radiation like the champ she is! The chemo began to settle into her body and slowly poison her cells and the radiation cooked her from within. She was sick a lot, lost a lot of weight but what seemed to be the most challenging for her to deal with was losing her hair.  At first, it was just little pieces at a time but then masses of blondish clumps began to fall out and she would cry. She thought she looked repulsive. She didn’t see herself in the mirror. Instead of seeing her reflection, she saw a sick person and someone who was suffering from cancer. I understand now why she felt that way even though I couldn’t see this hideously frail creature she saw. To me, my mom was always gorgeous. She has sparkling blue eyes, a beautiful smile, small body-frame from conscience eating habits, and is probably the classiest and most fashionable woman I have ever met… Which is hilarious that she produced me! I have her smile and I have her eyes, but it is a long running joke in my family that I am like school in the summer time-NO CLASS!

After my mom had her head shaved, she decided that although she may have to live with this disease, she does not have to let it affect her fashion sense! I seriously am not exaggerating when I say that the woman went out and bought 25 do-rags (bandanas) to match every one of her outfits. I don’t know where she found all of the colors she did. I mean I’m sure you can go to some sort of website like: dorags.com, or  everycolordoragyoucanpossibleimagine.org, but my mom is a Baby Boomer. She did not come from a time where you shop online. She referred to the internet as the “Webernet,” until a few years ago.  She went to every TJ Max, Marshalls, outlet store, and beauty supply store in the Chicagoland area scouring for bright, colorful do-rags to match with every dress, jacket, blazer, shirt, skirt, slacks, leggings, sandal, and shoe. She would lay out her outfits on her bed (much like an excited teenage girl), and ask my dad, sisters, or I  which do rag looked the best with what she was wearing. Sometimes, it would be the outfit that was changed in order to go with the do-rag she wanted to wear. It was nice to see my mom make one hell of a batch of lemonade with the lemons she was given. She always knew how to make a terrible situation seem not so terrible. Eventually, her hair began to grow back and she donned probably one of the cutest pixie haircuts I have ever seen. People who didn’t even know her would come up to her and ask where she got her haircut because that was the cutest style they have ever seen. She finally began to realize that she was still in fact just as beautiful and she always was. My mom, the trendsetter!