Funny Girl: Let’s Keep Laughing.

I have always been a Joan Rivers fan. I was a daytime fan of hers and would regularly watch her show during college.

And although I didn’t appreciate the stand-up of Joan Rivers until I was older, I always felt a kinship with her and her daughter. After all, our mothers were both  Joan, and we were both only children.

And I know for sure that my Mom and I would have had a hit E! series. We just had to find our niche. (Much in the same way my dad and I are working on our fantasy football team.)

What I loved about Joan Rivers was her ability to take the things we shouldn’t laugh at and make them funny.

Because let’s face it–we’ve all been there.

Who hasn’t been there? A wedding, funeral, performance review?

A few months after my Mom died, I was talking with a former colleague of mine. Like me, she had lost a parent at a (much) young(er) age.

I don’t remember now what prompted the discussion, but I had my Mom cremated, and we discussed the possibility of turning some of her ashes into a diamond.

And since shortly before I lost my Mom, I lost my Beloved Theodore, we discussed how I should have practiced taxidermy and had him stuffed.

(I envisioned Rowdy from Scrubs and had all sorts of ways that I could strategically place Teddy.)

We howled. Just howled.

Shortly after that conversation, the show My Strange Addiction showed a woman who ate her husband’s ashes. (And full disclosure here: I don’t make light of that.)

And that set us off again.

Sometimes, in the worst of situations, you find the humor in them. (Like when I was so upset at my Grandma’s funeral, I knocked off her clip-on earring and tried to dig down in the casket to find it.)

Thanks to Joan (Rivers) Rosenberg for always reminding of that.

And to her daughter, Melissa. Thinking of you, dear girl. We, at Askourmoms, are holding your heart closely from two daughters to another.

Love,

Meme and Bu

Sunshine

Recently I had a revival in my brain. Having spent so many years mourning my mother, my memories were clouded by a sicker, less vibrant memory of my mother. When I would think of mom, my foremost memories were of my sick mom, my mom riddled with pain, my frail mom, my mother dying before my eyes… painful and less flattering moments with my mom.

Fast forward to my brother sending me old family videos. I watched with amusement the video of my mother performing sign language to “Sunshine of my Shoulders.” She was so serious about her role and the fluidity of her sign language on camera. Her intensity in this video is palpable (the video was her final exam for the sign language class she took). While she considered rehearsals as her time to master her art of performance, my brothers and I painfully recall the countless hours of rehearsals and practice she did with John Denver’s ballad playing at deafening levels ON REPEAT. Over and over and over. To this day, in fact, I cringe when I hear that song. I am pretty sure my brothers do too.

My brother also sent me videos of birthday celebrations of years past. I watched intently, marveling at the woman I had grown up with. The strong, vibrant, thoughtful woman who was devoted to her family and her children. The woman who embraced a gag gift from her oldest child as if it was the crème de la crème of gifts (it was a polka audio tape – we are not polish). This woman had been pushed to the background my memories.

The memories came flooding back… my mother organizing the Parade of Nations (a huge, multi cultural stage celebration on Fort Leavenworth), my mother video taping and attending all of my brothers and my childhood events, my mother celebrating each and every birthday with pomp and circumstance- cake, gifts, food, my mother going to bat for her family time and time again, my mother teaching me how to sew, my mother staying by side hour after hour and day after day when I was in the hospital, my mother being there regardless on my youthful emotional outbursts, my mother holding my first born in her arms… so many beautiful moments forgotten in the cloud of mourning and then remembered because of old home videos.

It is difficult to recall all of the beautiful moments, but I am glad these old video camera moments have caused the revival of memories in my brain. Mom would want to be remembered like that.

Dear Mom, Robin Williams Died

A week after my Mom’s 64th birthday, Robin Williams died.

Like a woosh, that same sickening feeling came over me, and I remembered what it felt like to be in that moment as I read the news.

The first person I wanted to call was my Mom–to share with her the enormity of what happened. To share my shock and disbelief. To get her thoughts. Instead of that, I spent two-and-a-half hours talking to my cousin as we shared our thoughts about Williams, depression, and suicide.

Like the rest of the universe, the news of Williams’ death saddens me immensely. It’s a kick to the gut. It hurts. It sucks. And although most of us haven’t met him, it’s like losing your favorite, over-the-top uncle who brought you most fabulous Christmas gift and made you laugh.

And now nothing.

And I’m trying to determine exactly why my grief is. And I think I’ve figured out a few things.

(And please forgive me if this blog post isn’t as streamlined and a bit stream-of-consciousness. That is the nature of my thoughts right about now.)

Privacy

When I lost my Mom, I wasn’t shy about my grief. It wasn’t on purpose. It’s just how it was. I cried a lot. At Target. At work. At the grocery store, At the gas station. in the bathroom. I didn’t maintain a stiff upper lip. I smiled some, but didn’t laugh. It was like a shell of me, but the rest of me wasn’t there.

I got mad at well-intentioned people who wanted to know what happened–offering up platitudes that didn’t comfort or, even worse, people who just shocked me with their outright insensitivity. (Luckily, those people were few and between.)

I take comfort that when my Mom died, I was there. Our final moments–hers and mine–were ours. (Well, and my Beloved and the nurse and doctor.) But the point is that those moments were private ones. They weren’t for public consumption unless I chose for them to be so.

And yet because Williams is such a beloved public figure and because of the circumstances surrounding his death, his family doesn’t have the luxury of keeping those moments private. They’re splattered all over the news. His family doesn’t get a choice on what is disclosed.

I cannot even imagine how that would be. And my heart just breaks for his children.

Depression

Depression and anxiety run in my family. My Mom suffered from both as did my grandmother. Same with my aunt and cousin. In fact, my mother would always say that my grandmother would become so anxious over purchases like a home that her hands would shake terribly whenever she had to sign anything.

For my part, I have suffered from bouts of depression along with pretty chronic anxiety. Which is kind of funny because I’m pretty smiley and funny and happy, But when I get anxious, I obsess and worry. (For example, I am now worried about publishing this blog post. 🙂 )

When I was a kid and young adult, my Mom and I would outline what we called my Worry List and the best way to tackle items on Said List.

Depression has always an interesting concept to me. Because if you’re happy and life is good, what on earth do you have to be depressed about? Until it happened to me. Depression can hit anyone. It can be triggered by anything–but especially things like death of a loved one, divorce, a major move, job loss, new job, bankruptcy, or really any major life change.

In 2005, after being diagnosed with a mass on my brain, I underwent major brain surgery. It was very scary with a possibly scary outcome, but the surgery was successful, and I was fine.

Except I found myself becoming sad and bleak and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I cried because children were starving in third-world countries. And while, objectively, I could see my life was good, I couldn’t understand why I felt so bad. I took myself to go see a therapist (whom I’d seen in the past), and she stated, “You’re depressed.”

I disagreed, but I made a doctor’s appointment anyway. When I went to my doctor, I gave her a list of symptoms and a run-down of what had been going on. She gave an explanation of the brain and neurotransmitters and how they worked. She gave me a big hug and said, “Baby Girl, we will work this out. We’ll try x,y, and z. And if that doesn’t work out, we’ll try something else. This is not your fault.”

After being prescribed a mild anti-depressant, I did begin to feel better. It didn’t happen right away, but it did.

Suicide

I do not understand suicide. (I will express a mild caveat to end-of-life/palliative care for terminal illness. That I can understand.) And, I don’t mean this to be funny: but mainly, I love bacon. And Chanel No. 5 and all of the things I want to do but haven’t done yet. I love my Man, my Bu, my dog. I love that I got to ride a Ferris Wheel at a county fair and watch my nephew sheep-race. When I think of not having those things, I feel sad.

But, just because, I don’t understand it doesn’t mean that people don’t find themselves in that place. Because when people find themselves in that place, it’s their pain that is talking. Is suicide selfish? Ultimately, I suppose. Is it cowardly? I don’t know. But the people who are in that situation are worthy of our love, our compassion, and not our castigation.

To the Williams family and to Zelda, in particular, from one daughter to another: I am truly sorry for the loss of your dad. It’s hard–one of the toughest things you will ever go through. Over the last few days, you have handled yourself with much grace. Your dad was a class act, and clearly, so are you.

And to the Interwebz, thank you for letting me vent. It has helped. And to Robin Williams: thank you. You gave my Mom and me Mrs. Doubtfire. We would quote that movie back and forth and when I miss her much, I watch it. I’ll be watching it more now. Thank you for the memories.

xoxo,

Meme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in a Mom: Mother’s Day 2014

As Mother’s Day approaches, it is so hard to believe that it is the fourth (FOURTH) holiday without her.

Instead of focusing on the loss, I thought it would be fun to focus on What’s in a Mom. 🙂

1. A Mom lets you borrow her jewelry for like 20 years. And when she keeps asking for it back, you keep making excuses. And she’s okay with that.

2. A Mom understands the importance of watching Christmas Lifetime movies back-to-back.

3. A Mom cannot hold your gaze when then the two of you have an inside joke for fear of bursting out laughing.

6. A Mom gives you the side eye because something is funny.

7. A Mom gives you the side eye because something isn’t funny.

8. A Mom just gives you the side eye.

9. A Mom worries about your friends.

10. A Mom is the one you can’t wait to introduce to people you’ve barely met.

11. A Mom is the one you get defensive towards about minor crap. And she’s okay with that.

12.  A Mom is the person your friends haven’t met but ask about.

13. A Mom is a person who, no matter how old she gets, you still want to try on her make-up.

14. A Mom is the person whose words and advice you still listen to.

15. A Mom: the best person ever.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

 

xoxo,

 

Meme

 

Flirting With Forty

Happy post Valentine’s Day to everyone!! I hope everyone had a wonderful day.

Valentine’s always reminds me of my Mom. As a kid, she would always plan the best surprises for me.

As I look into the eve of my 40th year (June–except I’ll start the festivities in April because, yeah, its like that), I think about my Mom and how she’s not here to see me turn 40 (and start partying in April).

My Mom–as evidenced by this blog–was pretty damn awesome. She also knew a lot of heartache. By the time, I came about in 1974, my Mom had had lost two babies at six months. I also showed up at six months–weighing nothing more than a couple of soup cans–and not breathing.

For three months, I lived in an incubator (which I firmly believe has influenced my desire to burrow under bed covers).

My development was slow. By age two, the diagnosis was confirmed. I had cerebral palsy. For those of you who don’t know, CP affects the cerebellum which affects muscle control. In cases like mine, it has to do with lack of oxygen to the brain during fetal development/birth.

For me, I am lucky CP has only affected the left side of my body, which means my left side is weaker than my right side. Given the year of my birth and my weight, I am very, very lucky.

CP, though, shadowed many of my early years. It was always there. I spent hours in physical therapy as a kid. I spent time in developmental kindergarten. For a brief time, in second grade, I rode the short bus to school. (All jokes asides, I loved the short bus…I was that much closer to the doors, and there were Milk Duds.)

In elementary school, some kids were mean.

But what (still) gets me more than anything is the child psychologist (and I remember him and I think I have his name) who told my parents I would never amount to anything but a vegetable.

I hold two degrees and have taught college.

Oh, but vanity. Vanity. It’s such a curse. Really. Except for Botox, which could be a necessity given the moment.

I am 39. I’m pretty cute and have a cute figure. I’ll do. I’m okay with myself.

And yet, I owe this to my parents. I did dance classes, modeling, classes, theatre, girl scouts, piano, martial arts, skiing. Oh–and living in another country (which probably gave my mother heart failure for a while). Nothing held me back. Nothing. And that is because of my parents. It’s that spirit that keeps me going.

Growing up, I used to wish my CP away. And although, there are things I wish were different, I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t be me otherwise. Don’t change who you are.

xo,

Meme