I Held Her Hand

Robert, Barbara, Ruth, Andrew, Naomi

My mom died two years ago today. One of the most profound things I’ve ever done and, probably, will ever do, was to walk with my mom to the liminal line between here on Earth and not. I told her it was okay to step off. Into the unknown. Alone. Maybe to be greeted by her parents. Who really knows? But cancer free. I stepped back and watched her go. I kissed her. I told her she was my rock.  I told her the shining light of her soul was separate from her wasted body. She told me she was afraid. So afraid. I held her hand.

My mother’s brother, Robert, passed away suddenly less than a year after she did. Maybe they met again in a place language has no words for.

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(The same images are in the slideshow and collage.)

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My Top 20 Triplets Memories

Two months old.
Two months old.

Happy 20th birthday today to our three beautiful babies!

Here are my Top 20 memories of raising two girls and a boy, born within five minutes of each other.

The triplet stroller turned heads.
The triplet stroller turned heads.

1.  Walking up and down our street to get some fresh air. (“Sleep babies, sleep!”)

2.  Watching all three babies nap in one crib, swaddled and warm. (bundled like sausages)

3.  Reading stories together, either at bedtime or on long car trips. (Except when they wanted to read out loud and were at three different reading levels.  Oh, the competition!)

Triplets plus one.
Triplets plus one.

4.  Pumpkin picking, wagon rides, and bringing home cider, doughnuts and apple butter. (looking for those perfect pumpkins)

Halloween.
Halloween.

5.  Halloween–dressing up, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and the elementary school show. (Our attic doubles as a Halloween costume shop!)

6.  Thanksgiving along with many holidays spent with family. (cleaning up, cooking, celebrating and catching up)

7.  Countless trips to Baltimore (shout out to my MD family) and Long Island (Dad’s family).

Train ride to NYC.
Train ride to NYC.

8.  Day trips, especially taking the train to Manhattan. (One of my many mottos:  “Getting there is the accomplishment.  Being there is icing on the cake.”)

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9.  Building snowmen, sledding and playing in the snow. (Hot chocolate and cookies, anyone?)

First day of high school.
First day of high school.

10.  First day of school. (School supplies? The right outfit? Ready to go.)

11.  First day of camp (and first time on a big, yellow school bus)

Farm-themed b-day party.
Farm-themed b-day party.

12.  Birthday parties.  (Hon, you know I love a party!)

Skiing.
Skiing.

13.  Skiing. (Almost nothing beats a sunny day skiing.)

14.  Trip to Israel. (I knew the trip was a success when we landed in the US and my son asked, “When can we go back?”)

15.  Vacations, especially Disney World. (The secret to theme park success:  pack snacks and sandwiches.)

16. Significant religious milestones. (connecting roots from one generation to the next)

Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Bethany Beach, Delaware.

17.  Beach vacations and day trips to the Maryland, Delaware and Jersey shores.(sandcastles, sunbathing and seashell collecting)

"Baby A"
“Baby A”

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18.  Watching our determined 2 pound 9 ounce daughter grow up.

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"Baby B"
“Baby B”

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19.  Watching our feisty 4 pound 12 ounce son turn into a young man.

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"Baby C"
“Baby C”

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20.  Watching our sassy 4 pound 4 ounce daughter morph before our eyes.

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Hon, I’m raising a virtual glass of champagne in a toast to my three 20 year-olds.  Health and happiness.

Cheers!

Fluffy Father’s Day

Know my full name?  It's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
Hi!  I’m Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

Guess what?  I’m the Guest Blogger today.  Me!  Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds!  You can call me Lucy for short.

I had the best day on Father’s Day!  My sisters invited me to hop in the car after they packed up bikes, blankets and food.  I didn’t know where we were going but I knew it would be fun.  Yippee!  I love cars!

We went to Liberty State Park.  It’s a big park on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.  It was my first time seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.  I could even see the Freedom Tower.

Here’s my day in pictures.

I jumped up on a ledge to get a better view of the river.  The Freedom Tower is in the background.
I jumped up on a ledge to get a better view of the river. The Freedom Tower is in the background.
I love to be picked up.
I love to be picked up.
seeking shade under a bike
seeking shade under a bike
picnicking with my family
picnicking with my family
Do you like my personalized water bowl?
Do you like my personalized water bowl?
"C'mon!  Let's go in the water!"
“C’mon! Let’s go in the water!”
Jumped in the water!
Jumped in the water!
Sooo tired on the ride home!
Sooo tired on the ride home!

What a great day!  You know what else?  Yesterday was my 2nd birthday.

Happy birthday to me!  Woof!

That's me yesterday, on my 2nd birthday.  (taken by my redheaded sister)
My redheaded sister took my birthday photo. Then she gave me a Happy Birthday biscuit. Yum!

Pizza By The Pool in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Chance meeting over pizza slices.
Chance meeting over pizza slices.

Back story:  When I mentioned my upcoming trip to Myrtle Beach, SC to my ceramics class, one of the women said her son would also be there with a bunch of friends. She showed me his picture.

“If you see Ned, you could say hi,” Julie said.

“Sure,” I replied.  (By the way, Myrtle Beach is big.)

Fast forward to the weekend in SC:

Scenario:  We have a pizza for lunch and there are extra slices.

Hubby:  “I think I’ll find some teenage boys and offer them the extra slices.”

Me:  “That’s weird. Why would some teenage boys want pizza from a stranger?”

Teenage daughter:  “Yeah, Dad.  That’s creepy.”

Younger daughter:  “Dont, Dad.”

Hubby:  “They’ll love it. I’m going to ask them.  Bye.”

Me:  “Do what you want.”

Teenage Daughter:  “Whatever.”

Younger Daughter:  “I wouldn’t take pizza from a stranger.”

A few minutes later, two teenage boys are fishing around in the pizza box.

Me:  “Hi.  Are you in college?”

Teenage Boy while eating a slice:  “Yeah.”

Me:  “Where do you go?”

Teenage Boy:  “Boston College.”

Me:  “Where are you from?”

Teenage Boy:  “Westfield.”

Me, now jumping to my feet:  “Is your name Ned?  Is your mom Julie?”

Teenage Boy, hesitatingly:  “Yes and, ummm, yes.”

Me:  “I take ceramics with your mom!”

Teenage Boy:  “No way!  My mom is very proud of her ceramics.”

Teenage Daughter:  “So is my mom.”

Me:  “Did you have a goatee a couple of days ago?”

Teenage Daughter:  “Mom, that’s creepy,”

Teenage Boy rubbing his chin:   “Actually, I did.”

Me:  “Your mom showed me your picture and you had a goatee in it.”

Teenage Boy’s friend chimes in.  Turns out one of their high school friends goes to college with my other teenage daughter.  We meet the whole crew and we all laugh at what a small world it is!

Later, as told to me by my teenage daughter, when she was hanging out in the pool with the group of guys:

Teenage Daughter:  “Sorry if my mom creeped you out.”

Teenage Boy:  “That’s okay, my mom’s the same way.”

Moral of the story:  Hon, teenage boys will take pizza from anyone!

Rising sophomores in college. What a nice bunch of boys!
Rising sophomores in college. What a nice bunch of boys!

Mother’s Day Moment

Hon, please indulge me. It doesn’t have to be Mother’s Day for me to say how grateful I am to be a mom, how proud I am of my kids or how much I love them.  But, what I want to do today is spend time with all of them so this post is the prologue to the story of the last 18 1/2 year of my life.

(I can’t take credit for all of the photos. Some are mine and some aren’t.)

Baby A's tiny hand in mine.
Baby A’s tiny hand in mine. This was the first day I was allowed to hold her. She was 10 days.

Baby A was only 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth and stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. Despite being tiny, she could breath on her own (the tube in her nose above is a Gavage feeding tube). The nurses said she screamed loudly and a lot, which demonstrated how developed her lungs were. One nurse took to carrying her around on her shoulder to calm her down. As I scrubbed up before entering the NICU to take my smallest triplet home, one of the nurses, referring to my baby, said, “When is that mother going to get here already?” The mother bear in me came out when I answered, “I’m here!”

Baby A at 3 1/2.
At 3 1/2.
Baby A is the teenager with red hair.
As a counselor at a sleep-away camp.  Here she is with some of her campers.

Proud mama (and papa) moving our firstborn into her dorm room for freshman year.

Baby A starting freshman year of college.
Starting freshman year of college.

 

Baby B swaddled and sleepy.
Baby B swaddled and sleeping. He was small but healthy.

Baby B was the largest triplet at 4 pounds, 12 ounces. In the NICU he was considered a “feeder and grower” and was able to come home after 10 days.  His colic lasted until he was 6 months. In an effort to deal with the colic, we switched to a non-dairy formula causing him to smell like a potato! He was such an affectionate baby, he’s meld into my body when I rocked him. As a toddler, he was the ringleader of the games “Let’s Smear Our Room In Vaseline,” “Let’s Step In the Diaper Rash Ointment,” and “Let’s Shred All Of The Audio Tapes Our Parents Made Of Our First Words!”

"Growl, I'm a tiger!"
“Growl, I’m a tiger!”  At his 4th birthday party.
Baby B on move in day,
On move in day of freshman year at a university.

Proud mama (and papa) attending an ROTC Army event at our son’s university and seeing him in his dress blues.

Dress blues.
Dress blues.

 

Baby C in her isolette.
Baby C in her Isolette.  The nurses said her beauty “glowed” from the inside out.

Baby C, 4 pounds 4 ounces at birth, was allowed to come home after 12 days.  She had no problem sharing a bassinet with her brother and the two of them would contentedly stare at each other. But when Baby A came home from the hospital and I laid her down next to her sister, Baby C howled with displeasure as if to say, “Who is this baby and what is doing here?  I had to either lay them head to toe or put my son in the middle.  Hon, I am here to tell you that birth order dynamics are thrown to the wind when it comes to multiples. Baby C established herself as the “oldest” (that’s a euphemism for bossiest) even if she was born third.  She had the world’s best belly laugh and, if I could have bottled it, I’d be writing my books on an island in the Caribbean right now!

Pony ride at 3 3/4.
Pony ride at 3 3/4.
Bed's made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.
Bed’s made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.

Proud Mama (and Papa) have known our daughter was artistic since she was 3 years old.  Her self portrait is stunning!

Self portrait, oil paints.
Self portrait our daughter painted of herself with with acrylic paints.

 

Our Plus One the day after she was born.
Our Plus One the day after she was born. She was happy and calm right from the start.

Hon, do you know what was strange about holding an 8 pounds 6 ounce newborn? She was the same size as our triplets were when they were able to sit up! Our Plus One was an easy, go-with-the-flow child who was happiest when she was surrounded by her family. Many people have asked if she was accident, to which I replied, “No, she was very planned!” More people have said, “Wow, that’s a lot of kids” to which I replied, “Four was always my lucky number.”  And countless people have said, “You had triplets and then another one?!” to which I replied, “She’s G-d’s gift to me!”

Our fourth as a toddler.
Our fourth as a toddler.
No fear on the trapeze.
No fear on the trapeze.
Leaping at ballet class.
Leaping at ballet class.

Proud Mama (and Papa) shed tears at our youngest’s “Moving Up” ceremony, but still celebrated the start of a new chapter in her life.

"Moving Up" from elementary to middle school.
“Moving Up” from elementary to middle school.

 

Antidote to Evil–Family

Lean on me.
Lean on me.

This week’s posts will be my take on “Antidotes to Evil.”  The phrase popped in my head last week after news of the Boston Marathon bombing.  My youngest daughter expressed concern about not being safe at a marathon, movies, mall or in school.  I told her when I was her age, we didn’t worry (or even think) about the horrific things she sees in the news. Then I gave her a hug.

Family is one of the most important “Antidotes to Evil,” and one facet of family is siblings. My father took and developed the photo above in his darkroom. In this picture taken at the Maryland shore, I am standing in the middle while my sister and brother are on either side of me. Hon, this photo of us is one of my favorites!

Now that we are grown up, my sister, brother and I don’t slam each other’s bedroom doors, play tricks on each other, push and shove each other in the backseat of our parents’ cars, spy on each other when we have friends over or whine that, “It’s not fair…!”  As adults, my siblings and I support each other.

What word describes your relationship with your siblings?  How are they and your family your “Antidote to Evil?”

My sister and her youngest daughter.
My sister and her youngest daughter.
My brother on his wedding day.
My brother and his beautiful bride on their wedding day.  (disclaimer, I didn’t take this photo.)
Triplets plus one.
Triplets plus one, the next generation.
My immediate family.
My immediate family.

Material Girl Metaphor

pumpkin picking
pumpkin picking
Bethany Beach, DE
Bethany Beach, DE
Magic Kingdom, FL
Magic Kingdom, FL
kids and puppy with our old babysitter (and now dear friend) and her baby
triplets before they left for college, kid #4, puppy and our old babysitter (and now dear friend) and her baby

Last week, I lost a necklace.  I put my hand to my neck and realized my necklace wasn’t there. I was 99.9% positive I had put it on that morning. As I searched around my seat, my coat, the parking lot and my car, the percentage fell to 75% sure. In fact, I was hoping to be dead wrong, hoping it was lying on my dresser. When I got home, no luck. I felt like I was losing my mind as well as the necklace. I admit I freaked out a little. Okay, not really a little–a lot. (Losing my perspective is a whole other blog post.)

I know the necklace is only a material thing, not that important in the scheme of things, but I was upset. I thought about the people who have lost their homes and worse in Hurricane Sandy and I was sad for them. Did that help me gain perspective? Not in the moment, not really.

I felt the necklace was a metaphor (Hon, I’m really into metaphors.) for other things I have lost, such as three children who all started college this September and a job I’ve worked at for twenty years that is about to end. I believed that when the triplets went to college, my head would open up, fresh air would rush in and my brain would be rejuvenated. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened.

Back to the necklace search. Losing my necklace reminded me of another time I lost a different necklace. A couple of years ago, before trying something on in a store, I put that necklace on a chair in the fitting room. It was almost closing time so I had to wait until morning to try and find it. If one of my daughters put a necklace on a chair instead of in her pocketbook, I wouldn’t be happy. I was the one who wasn’t thinking, I chastised myself. I rushed to the store in the morning and recovered my necklace. Lesson learned.

Last week, after feeling like I was losing my mind, my daughter and I returned to the scene of the crime (okay, it wasn’t a crime, but I kept saying “scene of the crime” so there it is). We retraced my steps and found the necklace in the parking lot, jump rings and clasp in tact. Yay! And how? How had it fallen off my neck?

I found my necklace but I’ll never be that mom in charge of a constant-house-full-of-children again and I’m not sure what jobs I might find in the future. What I’m really not sure of is when that hand is reaching down from heaven to open up my head so I can clean out the cobwebs in my brain.

I think I’ll stay away from percentages but hopefully, I’ll find a new purpose, a new job and a new perspective in the new year.