Friday, November 24, 2006

Perfectly browned turkey and pink eyes

The table was resplendent, set with my mother's antique china and my silver. Dinner was served in matching bowls and, when I ran out of those, served bowls and on platters that were from my grandmother's wedding set. My great-grandmother made the crocheted tablecloth. I like the ties to the past, they keep me grounded.

Around the table sat three generations, from the grandbabies to the grandmothers.

Dinner didn't come from the over this year, hours weren't spent slaving over a hot stove. Over a microwave, yes; but a stove, no. My mother-in-law's co-workers, wonderful women that the big guy and I know well from our college years, bought us our dinner from Seton Hill, where she works and we went to college.

La's cancer is gone, but we need six months of chemo since it was beginning to enter her lymph nodes. She's getting a port, just like my father had.

But dinner that night was not focused on cancer. It was about being together, eleven of us surrounding the table, wrangling the children and trying to get them to actually eat something healthy. My mother's companion was with us this year, filling my father's empty chair but certainly not replacing him.

So we survived our first major holiday without Dad. Last Christmas doesn't count, not when he died on the Christmas Eve. This year, I might dryly joke, I'm sober... but last year I was, too. I remember everything, despite probably drinking more in two days then the entire year previous. Then again, six or seven bottles of Zima probably isn't that much in the grand scheme of things.

(I think it's safe to say that I'm in no danger of becoming an alcoholic, eh?)

One year is creeping up quickly. December 24. My family does have a knack for death and holidays and other special occasions. Dad died only five days short of my mother's mother, almost ten years to the day. Grandpap left us right before Thanksgiving two years ago. My uncle died on my wedding anniversary. Of course, we can also mention my grandfather's minor stroke a week prior to my wedding and my father's diagnosis of bladder cancer two weeks later, but neither of those were fatal.

No wonder I'm so calm when holidays roll around -- so long as we haven't a funeral, I'm counting things a success.

(Did I ever mention my tendency toward irony and sarcasm?)

In all seriousness, Thanksgiving was a success. Dinner was divine, almost as good as the company. Serving dinner to family is indeed a blessing, you know. This year, though we thought about Dad, missing him didn't stop our lives, which is how it should be.

Things did stop this morning though, when I looked at my darling son's face and said, "What's wrong with his eye?"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A tiny bit more on labels...

Interestingly enough, an unplanned coincidence to my previous post, my friend (and author of Love and Ghost Letters) Chantel, just penned a post on nicknames, a whole other sort of label.

Check her writing out at; check her writer's site out at

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ladies and Gentleman, we have a LABEL

Well, my kid got labeled. Got an IEP, too, so I'm not too distraught. It's all good, really. Love that educational stuff.

Okay, enough with the tone, as my mother would call it.

The same kid who reads Go, Dog, Go! to me has his very own individualized education plan so that he can learn how to make the right sounds in the right way so that people can actually understand him. He counts to thirteen, spells about a dozen words by memory, and can read most three-to-four-letter words, but can't make an r sound. Or a w. Or, actually, quite a few.He just "drops" those sounds when he speaks.

I can't tell you what the label is because I don't remember. I'm not blocking it out, and I'm not in denial. I just don't think that a label is particularly important since he's simply working on pronounciation. If we were dealing with dyslexia or some other issue of major concern, I'd remember the words. We're dealing with a pronounciation issue, a developmental delay, and that's that.

I won't be the sort of parent who defines her child by his label. That's all. I've known a few parents like that and, frankly, haven't seen many positive things come out of that approach.

Then again, I won't be the parent so determined to prove that a label is only a cluster of words that I end up inadvertently sabatoging his progress.

The approach is this: we do what we need to do in terms of practice at home, we support the team that's working with him, and we stay very, very involved.

We actually wanted a label, believe it or not. While we can teach Gavie how to read, count, find bugs, and jump into a pile of leaves, we haven't much experience in teaching proper pronounciation, not when it comes to teeth and tongue and declension and whatnot. We need the experts, it's that simple.

So don't mind me, the sarcastic cynic, one with an intense dislike for labels in general. I think that, while usually applied with the best of intentions, often end up overshadowing and haunting the person in the long run.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Growing (but no) pains

Something clicked. Poof! Just like that. Then next thing I knew, I realized that I was no longer looking at my workplace with a sentimental eye. Poof!

Yesterday, a spur-of-the-moment visit to Monster-dot-com resulted in a phone call to the 770 area code and a brief conversation, the crux of which was "I'm in Pittsburgh tomorrow, come see me, let's talk."

Now I'm sitting here, in my office, pondering the fact that I may very well not be here much longer.

And you know what? I'm ready.

I don't think I was quite ready in July when I posted "Growing Pains." There was still too much emotional something keeping me in place. Perhaps other emotions are starting to invade and rule. Perhaps it has something to do with December 24 looming over me. Perhaps I'm finally tired of waiting. Whatever it is, I'm welcoming it. It's time to move on. I did outgrow this job; I outgrew it a good bit ago. But outgrowing, apparently, doesn't always mean being grown enough to make the necessary move.

Somehow, since July, I think I got a bit taller.