the night I fell down the stairs

I was at my parent’s house, wearing (as I now know) the slipperiest socks on the planet, and because I was hurrying, I slid on the top step fell as hard as I possibly could. Landing, of course, on my ass. (If you know me you know this is not a first.)

It wasn’t really funny for that split second it was happening, you know that moment when your life flashes before your eyes and you’re sure you’re going to die? In this case when it was the ceiling flashing before my eyes, and the certainty that I was going to break something. Or yes quite possibly die. Or both. Obviously I’m writing this so I wasn’t actually dead. Once the shock passed and I knew I was still alive, well, then it was funny.

One minute I was walking and the next I was sitting on a step with my butt on fire and the breath knocked out of me. I heard my mother freaking out. She was in the next room on the phone with one of my brothers, and probably freaked him out too. I think they both thought I was dead. You know, since lack of oxygen = no talking = must be dead. I couldn’t talk so I started laughing hysterically.

Unlike my mother, my dear husband and darling son, who know I am the klutziest person on the planet, didn’t show the slightest bit of surprise.

I reassured my mom I was fine and just needed to sit there for a moment. That moment came and went, and the fire in my butt became an inferno and I couldn’t sit any longer. I couldn’t stand so crawled up the freaking stairs, creeped like a snake into the living room, and lay down on the floor. Laughing. Hysterically. Because really sometimes you have to laugh at yourself. Or you’ll cry.

I begged my husband togo get me an ice pack, and stick it in the back pocket of my jeans. That right pocket was exactly where I had landed. Two inches more towards the butt crack and I would have been in the hospital with a broken tailbone that night, probably in the room next to my father.

Let me tell you right now, I have never had a bruise as big as that one was. Two inches tall and about 8 inches across. It was a perfect painting of the edge of edge of that step, in vivid purple and yellow. Oh, and the lump? Was like a double butt. One that I couldn’t sit on for almost a week.

This was on Saturday night, two days after Thanksgiving.

***********************

You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t write about Thanksgiving this year. I didn’t because, well, we didn’t really have one, and frankly, I wasn’t feeling particularly thankful. In fact, every time I saw a cheerful blog post, or holidayish tweet, or sappy Facebook message, or really anything remotely happy, I just wanted to smash something. I did all of my holiday shopping, what little there was, online so I wouldn’t have to talk to chipper freaking salespeople.

We found out in October that my father’s lymphoma had spread to his bone marrow and his lungs. He spent most of the Fall trying a different chemo in hopes that it would knock it back, again. It was a last resort and although we weren’t sure yet, it didn’t seem to be working. Talking about it, much less writing about it, or anything, was the last thing I wanted to do.

I’d been trying for weeks to get to Maine to see him, but my kid and I had both been sick since before Halloween with one cold after another. Visiting someone with a compromised immune system when you have a sniffle, cough, or anything other sign of illness is out of the question. We made do with lots of phone calls, until finally we were well and able to go on the day after Thanksgiving to spend the weekend.

We drove up on that snowy Friday morning, to find that Pop was at the hospital for the day having yet more blood transfusions and platelets. Since my mother was heading back after lunch there I grabbed my crocheting and went with her. I sat and chatted with him for hours, hours I’d hoped to have with him at home, but that was not to be.

Later that afternoon he had a bad reaction to the transfusions, just minutes after we had gotten him back to the house. We didn’t know it, but his lungs were filling with fluid.

***********************

I spent most of the next day at the hospital again. In the morning I sat in his room, chatting with my mother, and with Pop when he was awake. He dozed some but was talking more than I expected, and we even had a few chuckles over some joke about ice cream. I can’t even remember what it was, I was just happy to have a laugh with him. All too soon he needed a real rest so while he slept I quietly wandered the deserted halls of the hospital. If you’ve ever been in a hospital on a  holiday weekend you know that few but the sickest are there.

In the early afternoon, one of my sisters arrived and we stayed in the waiting room together, both of our crochet hooks flashing. When it was clear he would sleep the rest of the day, I went back to my parent’s house. I was tired, the kind of tired that gets into your brain and shuts you down. Mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted; and yet not as exhausted as he was, not even close.

That was the last day I had a conversation with my father. It was the last time I heard him laugh, and the last time he looked at me. But I didn’t know it then. How do you know something is the last until it’s already over?

That was the night I fell down the stairs.

Taps

This morning I listened to the most beautiful rendition of Taps I have ever heard.

I was at my father’s funeral.

*****************

I wish I could put into words how I feel right now. I have such mixed emotions I wouldn’t even know where to start. All of the events of the last week have left me utterly exhausted, weary down to my bones.

I’ve cried, I’ve accepted, I’ve made my peace, I’ve gotten angry, but I did have my moment to say goodbye, and I’m grateful for that. Listening to that short sweet bit of music today summed up everything for me, it was an amazing moment and I will never forget how that felt.

On a side note, I have to thank my family and friends for their love and support. Those who came to see me, called me, send me texts, emails, and facebook messages, they got me through this weekend. Then there were those who came to the wake yesterday and the funeral today, and those who sent flowers when they couldn’t, well, I just wouldn’t have made it through the day without them. I am truly blessed to have so many dear people in my life, really, I have the best friends in the world.

xoxo Annette

the sweater

The color made you think of walnuts, not too dark, not too light. It had big round buttons, like milk chocolates in a sea of cocoa powder. The neck was high and the pockets were deep. There were patches of fuzzy suede, and the yarn was just ever so slightly scratchy.

When I was a teenager I had a habit of swiping my father’s clothes. It was the 80s and both baggy clothes and menswear were in. Pop’s sweater smelled of Old Spice, was roomy and comfortable, and it matched my camouflage pants perfectly. (Hey, like I said, it was the 80s!) Of course I wore it to school so often there’s even a photo of me in it in my senior yearbook.

I was fourteen, fifteen, an age where you don’t hug your parents as much as you used to, when you’re trying to gain a little independence and become your own person. But that sweater, it was like wearing a hug. So was his gray plaid bathrobe I stole before I went off to college and wore until all the seams ripped out.

When I was eighteen and went out on my own I left some old tee shirts behind, the ones that I thought I was too old to wear. I came home on break once to find Pop wearing one – with a silly Garfield cartoon on it! We laughed so much that for years he wore it every time they were expecting me. When I think about that now I wonder if maybe to him that tee shirt was like a hug from me?

It didn’t take me too long into my 20s to realize that hugging your parents isn’t just for little kids and I started up again. Since then I’ve hugged and kissed them everytime I’ve seen them, which isn’t often enough. I sure wish I still had Pop’s sweater. I could really use a hug right now. I love you Pop. xoxo

Author’s note: My father passed away on December 4th, 2010, ten days after I wrote this. He never had a chance to read it. My mother, however, read it on December 5th and promptly found the Garfield shirt in my father’s closet and gave it back to me. My sister believes she swiped the sweater from me when we lived together in college and she wore it into rags.

50

This one is just for my parents.

Happy Anniversary! I hope your day is just what you want it to be. I love you both so much.

xoxo Annette

go hug somebody today

I didn’t mean to be gone so long. It just sort of happened. Sometimes life just happens and you don’t have time to write about it.

Then sometimes death happens and you don’t know how to write about it.

One of my uncles died on Friday. It wasn’t really unexpected, and in many ways it wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be. Not to say there wasn’t sadness or tears, but there was also that sense of relief when pain is at an end.

The wake and funeral gave me an opportunity to hug cousins that I haven’t seen in more years than I care to count. Those hugs mattered. To them and to me.

It also gave me the opportunity to have a little extra bonding time with my sisters and parents on the long drive to Northern Maine. Oy. Laughter is pretty healing you know, and we’re pretty good at it.

This whole weekend was a reminder how important family is and I’m incredibly fortunate to have so much family in my life.

———————–

Who do you wish you could hug one more time?

I wish I could hug my Memere. She passed away 28 years ago yesterday. I was nine, and I just didn’t get to hug her enough. If you still have a grandparent in your life, could you go hug’em for me?

xo

on camping

You don’t need to send help chocolate – I’m home, and recovering.

Camping was great, for the most part. Sunapee State Park is gorgeous and has one of the best beaches I’ve been to in a long time. The campsite was private and clean and was up a crazy steep hill that Damon actually biked (!) while Josh and I went to the beach.

We read books, and played cards, and relaxed, and I made some fantastically good food. Everything tastes better cooked over an open flame doesn’t it? Especially bacon. But then, it’s bacon, when doesn’t it taste good? I even made the campfire potatoes and didn’t burn them.

Of course, as a first-timer (as an adult) I certainly learned a few things:

When If I go camping again I will change the following:

In fact, screw the tent. Maybe we’ll just rent a cabin in the backwoods of Maine like we used to do. We’ll probably still spend most of our time yelling at the boy for walking/running/dancing/jumping too close to the campfire but at least we’ll be slightly less cranky if we have actual beds and bathrooms.

ps. We really did have fun!

off the grid

I haven’t been camping since I was a kid, probably around 12 or 13. For years I used to go for a week every summer with my friend Teresa and her family. Those are some of the best and clearest memories of my childhood.

I loved camping so much I had the bright idea of taking Josh camping before the summer ends this year. I booked a campsite near Lake Sunapee for two nights and then realized how much I needed to do to get ready for this. Of course it was fun as a kid, Teresa’s parents and older sisters did all the work!

This time I’m one of the parents and have all the responsibilities of planning and packing and cooking and fire tending. Not hauling – that’s Damon’s job! And the tent? Not my problem either. I have enough to do!

The food – oh the food! What a pain! I was planning on eating lots of canned stuff, but Damon says it isn’t camping without grilling (whatever!) so tonight it’s bbq chicken and some potatoes wrapped in foil and baked in the coals. Hope the potatoes don’t turn into little coals themselves. Tomorrow for lunch it’s beans and hotdogs. Well, turkey dogs. And no beans for me, I’d rather not spend the whole day in the outhouse thanks.

After that we’re down to canned food and other easy fixins. (Can you say cup o’ ramen?) I just can’t keep meat and stuff cold any longer than that! (Or at least I’m not willing to go the effort of keeping things cold longer than that.)

So, the firepit….that’s my favorite part of camping. I know I used to drive Teresa’s dad crazy with all my fire poking. I just couldn’t help it! Sitting in front of the fire, reading a book, playing cards, that’s what I remember, and what I hope I have time for. (My second favorite part – the beach. Cause if you can’t get a shower you at least gotta go swimming!)

Anyway, I’m leaving my laptop (gasp! you must understand the gravity of this!) and all the comforts of home and heading out into the wilderness (okay, not really the wilderness) in about two hours. Pray for me that at least my cell phone works there. I don’t think I can survive without it.

ps. Josh made the very crazy adult decision to leave his Leapster and his Gameboy home and just bring his bike, lots of books, and a few toys. I told him I better not hear him say he’s bored even once!

pps. Oh, and haven’t explained the concept of an outhouse to him. I’m waiting until we get there…heh. At least I know he won’t drop the Gameboy in it.

ppps. Let me please repeat – NO LAPTOP. Oy.

pppps. If you don’t hear from me by Monday send help chocolate.

Memorial

His name was Joseph Ernest Lapointe.

He joined the Quebec Regiment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in August of 1916 and he was soon transported overseas to France to help fight the invading Germans.

We don’t have a photo but I can surmise from the only description we have that he looks much like the rest of my father’s family: black hair, brown eyes, dark complexion. He was 5′ 6″ but I bet he was wiry, and strong. A farmer’s boy has to be strong. A soldier has to be strong.

His last months were spent with the 22e Battalion in Northern France near Arras. We only know this because that is where he ended. Killed by enemy fire on April 22, 1918, somewhere in the Pas-de-Calais. He was only 22 years old.

What we don’t know is exactly where he died or what battle it was part of. We can speculate based on his burial location at Wailly Orchard Cemetery that it was part of the Battle of the Lys, but perhaps it was a skirmish that didn’t really belong to any identifiable offensive.

All we really know is that he was family, he was loved, he was a hero, and he is remembered. Always.

Memorial Day is so much more than just a day off from work. It’s more than hoping for beach weather and having cook-outs. Remember one, remember many, but just remember.

6 things that make me happy

I know I’m a very bad blogger. I have owed a meme to Liz for way over a month now! Liz is a sweetheart, she’s a great writer, and she has a fantastic blog design! If you’re not reading her, you should be.

This is one of those memes that I really wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach it. (Liz set the bar a little high with the Buffy drawing!)

I’ve been told that I haven’t had enough pictures on my site lately (~ahem~ Cluckers) so I decided to do my “Six Things That Make Me Happy” in photos – of things around my house that I love.

First, of course, is my boy, but especially when I catch him reading.

It makes me happy that he’s learning to love books as much as I do.

Just above that sofa is something else that makes me smile. It’s an oil painting made by my father. He has become an amazing artist in his retirement and my house is full of his paintings. Here is the oil and another that I love.

I can’t remember if this one was done in watercolors or acrylics, but it is a print of the original. All of his kids loved it so much he made just enough prints for us to each have one. That’s what you call a limited edition!

I actually picked these two because they are the only ones that aren’t under glass so they’re the easiest to photograph. It was the only way I could choose what to post out of all the painting I have of his.

The room these two particular paintings are hanging in is my favorite spot in the house, there’s no tv in there, just a stereo, a piano, lots of sunshine, and my cactus collection. These cacti make me very happy.

This is my very favorite houseplant. It’s a huge Christmas Cactus that is so old it was originally owned by my father-in-law’s grandmother. (I hope I remembered that right!) Until I was given this, I never knew that plants could be passed down from generation to generation. I can’t tell you how happy this cactus makes me, especially to see the new little sprouts growing out of the old trunk.

I love to sit in that room in my Canadian rocker and look at those paintings and plants with a cup of coffee in my hands.  And when my coffee is done right, it makes me very, very, happy.

My favorite coffee, my favorite creamer, and my favorite humongous mug means life is good.

My coffee pot isn’t the only kitchen appliance that makes me happy. I love my kitchen aid mixer, my bread machine, and this:

My favorite of my four (yep four) crock pots. Making my own chicken stock in a slow cooker makes me very happy.

Last, what could make me happier than my cat hanging out with me and letting me take cute pictures of him?

Why that would George in my lap, purring his little heart out while I scratch behind his ear.

What makes you happy? Tell me in comments, or if you decide to do this meme, make sure you leave me the link to your post so I can read it!

wii conversation

So this morning, while still snuggling in bed at my mom’s house, my boy and I were talking about our plans for the week. I mentioned my his aunt “C” and his cousin “S” might be coming to our house this next Saturday to hang out with us.

“Aunt C wants to check out the Wii Fit.” I said. “So we can show her tennis and the hula hoop, and all the fun stuff we do on it.”

“And you know what else?” he said.

“What?” I asked, assuming he was going to say that he would be able to show his cousin the Lego Star Wars game…but no.

“We’re gonna make her do yoga!”

Bwahhaaahhahhaha!!! Somebody knows how much I hate yoga, and apparently wants to torture my sister.

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