Saturday, September 22, 2007

Autumn and Christine

September and October are my favorite months. There's fall festivals, pumpkins to paint and great clothes to buy in rich fall colors. Schedules get crammed with school, soccer and dance classes, but when the kids were little, I added one more thing to the busy autumn months that I actually enjoyed. That was to have their birthday parties in the Fall. Planning kid birthday party is a mother's rite of passage. You either love doing it or just want to get through it. The entertainment involved either spending hundreds of dollars at Chucky Cheese or a Fun Time Junction, or having the party at your house where you struggled to entertain 10 or more kids so they wouldn't tear the place apart. Some families had pools which made having the party during the summer easy. Serve pizza, everybody jump in. Given I did not have that option, I came up with my own solution. Being the old-fashion sensible mother I think I am, I preferred to take the home route. It would have helped if I had some artistic talents to get the kids involved in a craft or if I had a sophomoric sense of humor where I would not have felt ridiculous dressed in some costume telling funny stories. But, without those attributes, those parties could become the longest two hours of life. So, my decision to have the parties at home came under my terms. Those terms were that regardless of when their actual birthday was, the kids had to have their party in September or October. There were more ways to entertain in the fall. Hayrides, picking and painting pumpkins or watching scary movies with a sleepover were more fun than Chucky Cheese anyway. At least, I could relate to those activities. So as it went, Thomas’ December birthday was celebrate in September with a camp out in the back yard on the first Friday after the new school year started. Anthony’s August birthday was in October usually starting with a haunted hayride and then the sleepover and scary movie. But where I really lucked out was with my daughter Christine. Although her due date was in November, she got it right by arriving three weeks early to be born October 22. Although she did have her kid parties where we made candy apples, painted the pumpkins and had the sleep overs, we always used her birthday to get the family together too. She was very close to my mother who loved her only granddaughter in a very special way. If she was alive today, she would have been proud to see how strong and beautiful Christine is. Christine looks like a mini-me, but she is my husband. She has a love for NY and clothes both of which she got from me and my mother and has a kind sense of caring for people. From my husband, she has this strong focus on her work along with his creativity and sense of humor. When she was little, Tony would read these little girl books to her about “Rainbow Brite” and “Star Sprinkles”. She never speaks of them now but what she does remember are the movies he introduced her to. She knew all the classics; original King Kong, The Thing and Bride of Frankenstein and still speaks in movie dialog quoting mostly from her favorites, Jaws, Finding Nemo and the original King Kong. A sampling of a conversation goes something like this: Me: Christine did you pack for the trip Christine: Yes, I brought the gas bombs (King Kong). Me: I’m so mad I can't fix this computer and don’t know what to do? Christine (melodiously): Keep on swimming, keep on swimming (Finding Nemo) Me: Do you want fish or chicken for dinner? Christine: I want to be sure it’s the fish. It probably is Martin, it probably is. (Jaws) And so it goes. You get use to it. This October, my daughter will turn 21. If you ask her, it's just another day. She really was never big on the kid parties and sleepovers made her very cranky. I don't miss those parties. As I said, it is a rite of passage. But this year, I think we will paint pumpkins and have family over.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Me and Bobby K

I am reading a book called "Robert Kennedy and His Times" that I started a year ago. It was suggested reading by a police officer who was part of a support group meeting I was attending on September 11 of 2006. The reason, he said, was that Bobby suffered from "survival guilt" and he thought I could relate Bobby was Attorney General at the time of his brother's assassination. He was described as "serious in purpose, a hard worker and devoted to his family (particularly to John). As committed to upholding the law as he was to his brother, when John was assassinated, Bobby was shattered. Dedicating his life to his brother's career and to upholding the law of the United States, his world was demolished. His brother was killed, and he could do nothing to stop it. He questioned his faith and asked "Why God"1. On September 11, 2001, I was in the World Trade Center complex when the first plane hit. My co-workers were leaving the building going in different directions. I left my office watching bodies falling from burning buildings. Boarding the ferry to Hoboken, I watched the first tower collapse as the ferry pulled away from the dock. I questioned what I was seeing. It made no sense. I always felt I was the kind of person who would know what to do in an emergency, could handle most anything and be there to help others. But this day, I did nothing to help anyone other than myself. I felt alone, scared and somewhat embarrassed that I was so safe while so many died. I spent the remaining days of that week home wanting to be with my family. It made me feel safe and in control of my world. I had nervous energy so for the next 3 days, I washed every window in the house and organized all our pictures into several photo albums making an album for each of the 3 kids. I was nesting and trying to feel in charge again. That Sunday, I went to church. I was a Sunday School teacher for the 6th grade. As I drove to church, I thought that the kids would want me to explain Why God did this. Until I got there, I didn't know what I was going to say. So I said just that, There is no answer. Why it happened, is a mystery to us in life that cannot be explained. But one thing I can say is that God didn't do this, man did.
Reference: 1: Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., copyright 1978