Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Regarding Marigolds

I started planting marigolds in my garden back in 1995. My garden was so beautiful; I would spend hours out there every day - deadheading marigolds and petunias, pulling weeds, watering. I was so very proud of my garden.

In early Spring of 1996, we brought our son Jonathan home. He was ten months old. We were already the parents of Katie, a special needs child whom we had adopted at the age of 3 1/2 months. Our life was full. But bringing Jonathan home sort of "wrapped everything up" for us. We felt complete.

Katie and Jonathan loved each other so much, and it was fun being their parents. Katie was progressing well in school - learning to talk better, eating (sometimes), and learning how to be in relationship with people. She was definitely bonded to us. We were so happy.

On Mother's Day, 1996, we brought Jonathan home "for good." He and Katie sat in a chair in our living room and let us take their picture. The really loved each other, from the first moment they met. They shared a room and toys and a swing set. Not much got between either one of them. They were great, being brother and sister by adoption. We, as parents, were even better.

When Katie was in second grade, she got in the habit of picking a few marigolds from my garden to take to her teacher every day. I never discouraged her; what could it hurt? Every morning, until the frost killed them, she would walk out the door and pick some flowers on her way to catch the bus. I never talked to her teacher about it, but part of me knew that her teacher must love this daily offering.

This same school year, on February 16, 1998, Katie died. It was a holiday - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Katie had been sick with a cold, but nothing we thought was too serious. We had been in touch with her doctor. They didn't even want us to bring her to the clinic because of all the respiratory viruses going around. So we just took care of her the best we knew how. The night before she died, I fed her warm, liquid jell-o because she liked it.

The next morning, she asked me to come and lie down with her. I took her to her bed and said, "I'll be right back. Let me put on a Barney video for Jonathan." So I did. In the few minutes that it took me to do that, Katie died. When I went into her room, she was unresponsive. I immediately called 911 and started mouth-to-mouth, only to hear bubbling sounds come from her lungs. The fire department was there in less than two minutes. Everything they tried was to no avail. Paramedics showed up a few minutes later. Nothing was working.

"What is happening?" I kept wondering. Jonathan crawled up the stairs after hearing the footsteps from above. I picked him up and held him. As it turns out, he didn't miss a thing...this 2 1/2 year old boy remembers almost every moment of that morning.

I called Warren to tell him to come home. He did. The paramedics took Katie in the ambulance; Warren rode with her. Somebody gave me a ride to the hospital. By the time I got there, the chaplain was waiting for me. I knew, riding to the hospital, that my little girl was not going to make it.

By some miracle, we were able to contact our family members...except for my and Warren's parents. My parents were in Illinois visiting my brother; Warren's parents were in Africa working at an orphanage. But those of us who were nearby gathered together and held hands and prayed in the ER room where Katie lay. Warren and I cut some of her hair, as keepsakes.

What does this have to do with marigolds, you might ask? Well, the next day when word began to spread about Katie's death, her teacher called me. "Mrs. Hicks, I have called every florist I can find in every part of the United States and nobody has any marigolds!" She was beside herself, needing to give marigolds back to me as an expression of her love for Katie.

So...after almost 13 years of missing my little girl, she still makes me smile when I see a marigold. And there's nothing I love more than giving a bouquet of marigolds to someone I love.

And that's all I'm going to say tonight. If you read this, God bless you...and thank you. Now you know me, for what it's worth.


Monday, September 20, 2010

SHOUT OUTS About my Silent Retreat

Last weekend, I attended a Silent Retreat at St. Margaret's Convent in Roxbury, MA which is a suburb of Boston. It's a beautiful place! The sisters are so welcoming and smiling all the time. The chapel is beautiful, with so much natural light shining in from the clear and stained glass windows. I went to chapel a lot, except I did not attend Morning Prayer at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday! There are very few things I do at 6:00 a.m., and I decided the night before that Morning Prayer is one of them! No guilt.

Our silence began Friday night, after supper. It was a wonderful meal of baked salmon, baked cod, lovely vegetables and fresh salad bar. I did not have dessert, so don't remember what that was. Anyway, as it turns out, I sat at a table with a husband/wife couple and another woman for dinner. We were exchanging pleasantries when the gentleman "started in on me." For starters:

"I saw your husband at the polling place last Tuesday but didn't have a chance to speak with him. How's he doing from his surgeries? Is his hip and knee behaving? Is he getting back to normal?"

I looked at him, wondering "Who are you?" Then I asked, "My husband being who?" He looked at me rather quizzically and asked, "Aren't you from St. Luke's?" I replied that yes, I was, but my husband did not have hip surgery. I went on to explain that he had had both knee and intestinal surgery. "Oh!" he exclaimed. "Well, how's he doing now?" I said that my husband was doing fine. (He still had not referred to either one of us by name.)

He then started inquiring about our son. "Is he in elementary school?" "No," I explained, "he just started at Worcester Tech."

"REALLY! How old is he?"

"Fifteen" I responded.

"WOW! That's awesome! Did he have to take a lot of advance placement courses to get in at such a young age?"

I'm beginning to wonder if this guy really does "know" me... "No, he just filled out the application and was accepted. He would have been thrilled to go to Doherty High, but was ecstatic to be accepted at Tech."

He replied, "That's amazing!"

At this point, his wife - who had been eavesdropping during her conversation with the other woman at our table - chimed in. "I heard you say your son is a student at Worcester Tech! How old did you say he was?"

"Fifteen" I replied.

"Isn't that something? What an incredible opportunity for him. And at such a young age! You must be thrilled!"

I said that, yes, we were pretty thrilled and excited for him. Then she asked me what areas of study he was looking at. "Oh, he's interested in Veterinary Asst., Culinary, Allied Health...but he's going to be exploring all of those things." And then, her face sort of fell. And then, it hit me.

"Did you think I was talking about Worcester Polytechnic Institute?" I asked. She admitted that, yes, that was the case. And then, she slapped the side of my arm and said, "If you were FROM here, you'd know that WPI was always called Worcester Tech and that Worcester Tech was previously known as Worcester Voc."

I looked her in the eye and said (without slapping the side of her arm), "Well, I live here NOW, and I know that on the front of the building it says "Worcester Technical High School."" She turned and started another conversation with the other lady.

But, the husband was not yet finished. He leaned on his elbow and wondered, "So, Mary, do you work outside of the home or do you just maintain the Rectory?"

Swallow or spit food at him? Hold my fork or stab him with it? Laugh with my mouth full or be the submissive Rector's wife he wants me to be? For some stupid reason, I became the latter and told him about my two part-time jobs. Part of me felt like he'd stripped me of my garments in front of the whole room. Part of me felt like he was one of the rudest people I've ever "not met!" Part of me wanted to just get up and walk away and maybe pass gas as I did. But I didn't. I was polite. I was me, being the nice girl.

Later, re-telling this experience to a friend, I was not saying anything kind about this man whom I do not know yet who knows so much about me! After telling Warren about this experience, he seems to recall having met this man, but doesn't recall the circumstances.

All I know is, if and when I encounter this ungentleman again, I will think long and hard before answering his questions. I will probably come up with outlandish replies to them, which I'm sure will get repeated and will come back to haunt me. But at least I'll have had the satisfaction of "not being nice" in a nice sort of way. The joke really is on him, not me.

Good grief! Would you look at the time? I've been here way too long, and have some serious Rectory maintenance to tend to! Must go and get things done so I can rise early and do my 6:00 a.m. Morning Prayers.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Going to bed mad!

I'm really frustrated with my family right now. There have been "things" going on which (I think) require the attention of everyone called family. When Michael's accident first occurred, I was bombarded with text messages and phone calls updating me on his status. This is good!

Once Michael's surgery was completed, my phone and my computer became...in family terms...silent. I've been waiting for over a week to hear an update on Michael's status. The most recent update I had was from my sister Julie - who is in upstate New York - that he is home. Why did Julie know this? Because Julie is on facebook. I'm not even sure she's spoken to Amy since Michael's accident.

Well, I'm not on facebook and don't intend to be. The fact that I am being left out on updates regarding Michael's progress offends me greatly. Tonight, I sat on my porch and really did wait for my phone to ring. It didn't. I sent a text to: Amy, David, and Luana. Nobody responded.

I'm sorry I'm not there with them in Colorado! There's no place I'd rather be -- and I say that with my whole heart and my entire being. I miss my family.

Do any of those people I call "family" have any idea how hard it is to live so far away from your "entire" family? Especially with something "important" going on...I want to be there to help! I want to be there to take Amy out for coffee or out for a beer. But I can't. I'm in fucking Massachusetts...fucking Worcester! What the heck am I supposed to do? Why won't anybody be in touch with me?

When mom died, it was such a wonderful experience for me. Yes, it was sad, and tragic. But Jamie, Amy, Mark, David, Julie and I were together. Almost 24/7, we were there. We  re-created the bond that had started 25 years ago. It was beautiful. It was fun. It made me a new person, because I felt like I had a new family...horrible as the whole experience was. Now? Not so much.

I miss my family. I don't want to go to bed angry with them. But my phone's not ringing, and nobody is texting me, so I guess I'll just go to bed mad.

Do I think they'll call tomorrow? Maybe. Maybe I won't feel like talking. Maybe I'll still be mad. Do I like this? NO!

I'm feeling very frustrated. And I'm still waiting for my birthday card from my dad...two weeks overdue!...that he told me a week ago was in the mail. NOT! Thanks, Dad. This is a first. Mom would be so very embarrassed. I miss Mom so much.

Yup, it's about Mom. It's not about the dysFUNctional family. It's about Mom. We're lost without her. God bless you, Patricia Jewel Johnson Hutchinson! You were here earlier, running your fingers through my new haircut, loving it. Thanks for that special moment!

As for the "rest of the family" - BIG RASPBERRIES to you. Have fun, whatever you're doing. Please don't bother to take the time to try to remember me in any of your family activities.

I'm off to bed now....MAD!!!

Time Flies...

...summer is dwindling away! I was sitting on the porch tonight, watching the changes.

...Traffic on Pleasant Street has increased significantly since all the college students are returning, beginning their new "season" of study and whatever else it is that college students do, besides drive too fast down Pleasant Street...

...The light is changing, oh so rapidly! Every night, the sun sets a little earlier. It's not light at 8:00 any more, hardly even at 7:00. I'll miss the light, especially after the dreaded time change, ugh...

...The evenings are cooling times, of a sort. Today was pretty hot, so this evening was "warm" but not unbearable in comparison to the rest of the summer. I do welcome the cool evenings...

...Worcester Public Schools begin tomorrow. Buses will be filling the streets in the mornings and afternoons. Our son will take his first bus ride to high school tomorrow, catching his bus at 6:45 a.m. Whew! I will walk with him to the bus stop tomorrow, but just this once, just because I'm the mom and I need to...

...the Fall colors will soon be upon us, bringing with them the Fall coolness and the beautifully lit days. I love the Fall in New England! I know that the snow will not begin to fly until November/December. The rains will precede the snow, but we'll just stay dry and warm and light a fire in the fireplace...

...all will be well, and then before we know it Spring will shine her beautiful face in our eyes and we'll wonder, "What happened?" as we do every year. And it will all begin again, as promised.

Sometimes I think Summer is more of a "dormant" season than an "alive" season. Sometimes I think there is more to learn living through a Summer or a Winter, than through a Spring or a Fall. There are so many underlying changes going on in Summer and Winter - things we never even think about. Spring and Fall are almost the "vulnerable" seasons, where nature exposes her strengths and weaknesses in such beautiful, indescribable ways that we take more delight in them than sorrow that nature has no privacy.

Sometimes, I go through seasons in my life where I'm more vulnerable and "exposed" than I am growing and mysteriously changing. Which is better for me? I don't know the answer to that. Now that I've asked it, I'll probably pay attention. Life is strange, and beautiful. Life is complicated, and simple. Life is nothing, and creative. Life is life. Nature is nature.

We are what we are. And I thank God that I've been given this life on this beautiful place called Earth to watch and change with every season.