Today I’m celebrating my imperfections: I want to be a better cook, but I really should remember to put on my glasses, I wanted it to be the perfect Christmas, but I blew it in a big way, I want to be a person who isn’t selfish, but I continue to be, especially with those I love, I want to be published, but my book isn’t wanted,
I want to roll the clock back, but time marches and reminds me,
I have been away for a bit too long, it even makes me a bit sad to open this blog again. I miss my first, and in so many ways miss my teaching life. For years, I prayed, please God keep my parents healthy until after I retire.
He did and then wham.
Mom declined quickly and died. My dad has always been so independent, and though I know he would miss her, I thought he was invincible. At ninety-one he is every bit my intelligent and thoughtful dad, but he too needs me, at least twice and sometimes three times a week. I need to grocery shop, or to bring him to the VA to get his hearing aid straightened out about every other week. But mainly he needs me to talk to. He needs my companionship and love. I am his driver, he is my Miss, uh Mr. Daisy. His favorite line is “to make a long story short.”
The irony, his stories are never short.
“Nancy, did I tell you about the blood pressure incident?”
“Well, I was kind of with you, when it happened.”
“No, I didn’t tell you. Let me tell you now. Karla, the nurse, explained to me why my pressure was high that day at the VA. I called her when I got home.” The nurse at the VA also told him when we were there.
“Karla explained to me that it was a bad thing not to drink my water, orange juice, and decaf coffee at breakfast. She explained I would be dehydrated and then my blood would get so thick that it would be hard to go through my veins and then my heart would have to work so hard, and that is why my blood pressure went up.”
“I guess that is the moral of the story, Dad, make sure you drink enough, so that doesn’t happen.”
“Did I tell you about that 91-year old who was still driving when he was my age, Nancy?”
“Yep, you did when you told me it was time to say good bye to driving Dad.”
“I think maybe that guy had high blood pressure and maybe he was dehydrated. It is so sad, maybe he didn’t know like I didn’t know that blood gets thick and all kinds of bad things can happen.”
“Well, Dad, I think you made a smart decision to give up your driver’s license because now I get to hear so many good stories when we drive around together.”
“Do you remember when you made me stop smoking Nancy when you were in 2nd grade? I’ll make a long story short, okay? You came home from school one day and told me that your teacher said I was gonna die because the Surgeon General said smoking was bad for your health? ”
“No, I don’t remember me doing that, in 2nd grade.” I have heard this story one million times. “But I know you are going to tell me.”
“I will. I’ll make a long story short.”
I smiled. Precious moments. Precious days. I want them to last forever.
You looked at me with tears and said, “When are we going home Nancy?” I thought I was going home today, you promised. ”
“We are home, Mom. Dad’s here, we are sitting on your couch. Don’t you recognize it? Look at all your pictures, they are all here.”
While she was in the hospital and in rehab my sister and I orchestrated the move to independent living. She didn’t sign any of the papers, adamant that she wanted to stay in the house she so lovingly cared for. It was necessary, neither Mom or Dad could climb the stairs. Mom was stubborn. I am stubborn. She missed the warm light flooding into her back porch, her favorite spot. I missed it too. I couldn’t fool her, she knew me so well.
I desperately needed my mom to be my mom again.
I grabbed my laptop. “Let’s listen to a hymn, mom. What would you like?”
“How Great thou Art.”
She leaned back, eyes closed she began to sing.
Hope and light surrounded us as she gently covered my hand in hers.
PS This week, my mom’s birthday, I celebrate her. Last year I was with her, this year she celebrates her home in heaven. I haven’t been able to write about her for some time. This is my start. xo nanc
After I write the title, I think, after reading my last two posts…it’s been long, way too long since I have written. I read over my last two posts. I wrote an excited post about teaching my grad class again and one more after my mom gets sick, very sick. Really she has been getting sick for about six years.
You know you have them, those parents that are in denial that their babes have a learning difficulty, or a sitting difficulty, or a mean streak. My mom was diagnosed with Alt…, see, I still can’t even write the word. I have lived in denial at the clinical term. She is confused and now she says it quite often
I’m so confused.
She doesn’t usually say my name because she might call me Julie or Carol, my sisters, or Emily, my daughter. She thought yesterday that I lived in that foreign country where they talk funny. That would be Emily, my daughter who lives in Ecuador. I have been at my parents new condo nearly every day since the beginning of May. My mom fell, fractured vertebrae and has had 3 hospital stays and one rehab stint.
During this time we have packed up their whole house, moved everything that we could, sorted and sorted lots paper dating back to 1959…taught my graduate students, worked every Thursday at our Care Center at church, wrote curriculum and units for my former district, went to Kelly’s festive wedding in June, traveled to Jeff’s wonderful mountain wedding last week, watched my grand daughter’s first toddling steps, and watched my mom get healthier…physically.
My mom’s mental capacity has tragically diminished in the last few weeks. Yesterday, as I helped the caregiver with her bath she said to me,
Dead is easy, dying is hard.
I thought to myself, hmmm, she is showing brilliance right now. I thought a second and said,
Yes, it is hard…very hard to say goodbye. But just think though of what you have to look forward to. You will see Jesus, your dad, your mom, Uncle Sig, Lois and so many of your friends. You will be happy forever. It makes me happy, just thinking about heaven. Let’s just sit here, listen to hymns together.
Ahh, she sighed, I know this one…How Great Thou Art, I love this one, It is Well with my Soul!
She smiled and laid her head down on the pillow.
Just as I was finishing writing this last sentence, my husband Dave came up with his phone. He tells me my mom is in the ER. She fell and hit her head on the buffet. They just brought her to the hospital and are doing a CT. My dad said, that he hoped he would be bringing her home tonight. He doesn’t want me to rush over, worried about my driving ability in the dark . He asked me to please pray.
I will. I love you Daddy. It’s going to be okay. God is with us.
Writing this has been a celebration of sorts for me. God whispered to start celebrating every week with all of you. I have missed writing and Slicing. I feel energy returning for at least another day, another step. That is what writing can do for all of us.
She took a fall Friday, another on Saturday and another Sunday night. Why didn’t she use her walker? A miracle, a neighbor hears her pleas for help in the cold rain, laying on the sidewalk path to the garage. Two days, two nights in the hospital she appears to rally, so that we will bring her home. She first fights us bringing the sweet 24 hour care-giver. I am a wreck and so is my dad. We wonder inside if a wheel-chair needs to be rented. We wonder inside how we will be able to afford this new lifestyle. We can’t sleep.
She is the best mom a girl could have ever had, but now I feel like I’m the mom and she’s the child.
This is hard. I feel so angry. I want to run. It has only been a week; it feels like a year.
In a few weeks I will be starting to teach my class at the University. I was able to get 31 picture books, short novels and professional books for the K-3 teacher that will be in my course this summer. It is so amazing so wonderful…I am so excited. Each session, I give my book presents at some point in the class. Most are newer titles but I have my favorite oldie but goodies also. Many teachers go back to get a second master’s degree in Literacy at Judson. It is so worth the time, effort and money to do this outstanding…very special, program. If you are in the Northern Illinois region..check it out, we are in our 8th year. We also have a new Doctoral Program for Literacy Educators. Dr. Steven Layne is the director for both programs… he has definitely, put Illinois on the literacy map. In my class we get the book presents, use them in our classrooms the next week and then share on the blog I created just for my students. They really do a ‘slice’ for every week of our class. Fun, fun, fun!!!! xo
PS This is my first post to them.
PSS Shhh…they are also getting the Caldecott winner….do you know what won?
Getting the Poetry Friday Anthology for you has been so…..exciting… for me personally. I have loved poems of all shapes, all colors, all textures for most of my blankety-blank years. It is the best gift a teacher can give, the love of poetry, the desire to eat poems right up. I love poems, I’ve tried to write poems, I sang poem songs to the moon every night for much of my childhood. I even had a poem published in American Girl. If you remember that magazine, you may be closer to my age than you think.
But all that stopped.
THERE WAS THISDISGUSTINGTIME OF MY LIFE, WHERE I LISTENED TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAID, INSTEAD OF TO MY OWN VOICE.
poetry is for fools,
you won’t be cool,
like to analyze a line,
don’t love rhyme. (now that is a disgusting little poem)
I came back however, realizing in high school, that musical lyrics are poetry and that a great love song is usually a great love poem, yep I was pretty much into love at the time. I began reading again…and rather recently, have tried writing again. I follow Poetry Friday online. I love the generosity of poets. Just check out Amy’s Poem Farm. Amazing.
Fluency is where we spend our lives girlfiriends…the poems…they help us teach!
What do you think of the book presents this week? How do you use poetry in your classroom now? Let’s get real and gutsy here. Let’s start by telling the truth about how we really feel about poetry. I just counted lots of I’s in this post. Now I want to hear from you. xo nanc
Notice that Illinois isn’t in my top two…but that is where I live, suburbia. Dave and I are up in our family summer home raking acorns so a mover will get through and bringing truck loads of 100-year-old junk from the basement, to a landfill. Today I was a junk yard dog, filthy from head to toe, not wanting to even admit that I was paying and tossing. We are up here to clean for my family, to get ready to sell a sweet little house, on a beautiful little lake, in my second favorite state.
Many of you have done this too. Cleaned, sorted and sold. It is painful, each precious thing seems to be a memory. Of course it is easier to start in the basement, the trash bin of the north. We haven’t had garbage trucks since my aunt passed away…so it has accumulated. So this is where we’ve started. My parents have decided that this house must go mainly because of the taxes. In Michigan, they gouge the out-of -staters. I have no idea why, but they do. For example: my parents pay the same amount in taxes for the large two-story house in the Chicago suburbs as they do for this little house that is an eighth of the size of their big house.
So…it is heartbreaking, this big clean up. We need this sale to be able to care for my parents as they age. I have to keep my eyes on what is really important. It is selfish, I know to want it not to sell, I really wish that we could afford it. Maybe it would be a possibility if I sell my house in suburbia…but I can’t do that, because then we wouldn’t be able to be close enough to care for our parents or enough to ever visit my favorite state. I go round and round about these decisions. But there is one thing I know…
This little house has been a blessing sent from God and my great Aunt Emeline. I
love this cozy little house,
in this cozy little town,
in my second favorite state, Michigan.
PS I think I will have to post up why Colorado is my favorite state soon. I wonder where you love to travel…I wonder what it is like to live where you live? For example, if you live in Michigan or Colorado, do you ever go on vacation out of your state? I guess I would just stay put and gaze out my window at the spectacular mountains. But maybe you love to visit our crazed city of Chicago.
This has to be short, very short. I am so wordy these days. My friends are coming and our process begins again. We are three former literacy teachers/coaches and retired last year. Many predicted that we wouldn’t be able to keep our hands out district pot…because we love to give. And at least one of us love to get our own way. That would be me. Oh, I guess that would also be my two other friends as well.
We started out writing opinion units that we integrated with literacy. We need to use the literacy time and integrate, because of time…there never is enough time! We presented these units in February and have started work on a district scope and sequence and pacing guide. We are doing this with only about 50 other classroom teachers. We get their ideas, and then we work on the guide, using Big Ideas and Essential Questions to guide our work. We are using current district materials for the most part, and on-line tools.
The resulting work looks good, we think…at least on paper.
However, we all have spent our entire lives in the classroom. There have been many moments that I have questioned whether I would have been able to keep with this guide, or whether I would have even wanted to. I admit, there has been moments of what I would call ‘holy discontent’.
The point, however is this, we want the teachers to try it this way and then make suggestions for what needs to be changed. This is meant to be a flexible document and one that takes 2 to 3 years to develop.
One of the vehicle’s that we will use to get feedback is a blog that will be created just for this purpose. I am excited to hear the voices of teachers again. The Next Generation Science Standards that have been adopted and that we are integrating are incredible, but for the most part have many baffled. Our teachers are used to teaching units, different units at every grade level.
So we are trying out…everything is one big experiment, it seems. I always loved creating a hypothesis when experimenting. I hypothesize that there might be some excitement around these changes! And it is pretty important to listen.
Our writing informs our lives. I knew that I needed to go back and revisit this story and add-on and revise from the beginning of March, but I was too angry to. It has been one of those years in foster parenting that has been very, very difficult for our family. And yet we continue to hold on to Kelly and continue to work through our issues. Fostering a teenager through her twenties is for the strong, and especially this year I have not felt strong. But we are hers and she is ours.
This was unusual for Dave…after a Sunday message at church he turned to me and said,
“I don’t know what, but I think God is going to be asking us to do something big- that’s gonna change our lives.”
I do remember thinking that this is definitely out of character for my guy that makes sure that he is well researched before making any big decision at all. He checks the money, he checks the mood, he consults his mother, he wants me to ask my father… yep, God must really be talking loudly today for him to even be telling me this.
The next week, he came home on Tuesday and told me that he found you sitting at a table in the Media Center at school. You had wanted to let him know that you wouldn’t be able to play for him this season because they were placing you in another foster placement out of our school district. Dave knew instantly, this was it, this was the big thing and that no…she would be definitely living at our house instead.
The next week we got you set you up in Jeff’s old bedroom upstairs. Dave told you that he would paint the room whatever way you wanted. You chose ‘Pepto’ pink with stripes down one side of the wall, I didn’t like hot pink. Dave just smiled and painted away. Your clothes were moved in. I noticed you were a ‘keeper’ like me…a trunk of cheap stuffed animals and all the dresses and dried flowers from important events. You said, not to worry, that you wouldn’t get in our hair. You said you’d be off to college soon and that you were an ferociously independent type of girl.
You hung your pictures back from Jr. High…friends and more friends of every nationality, every creed.
Dave wanted to be your dad, he even looked like you. You called him ‘Papa’. You called me ‘Nanc’.
You gave your story to us, it told of the day when you thought you were going on a fun mini-trip to a hotel. You remember that you had your ‘swimmies’ on your arms when you were pulled away from your mother. You thought you were meeting a new friend in a giant building called ‘court’.
You’ve been waiting all this time to be back with your mommy. It’s been years of waiting and now you are in another placement my family…and that dream still continues to pulse inside of you.
Don’t worry sweet Kelly, “You can call me Nanc. I know you have a mom.” I want that dream to stay alive for her…but I’m fearful of all things big and little… realizing early that years in a group home and then in placements that hadn’t worked out had to have taken a toll. One day I asked you if you had any pictures of your little girl self. You said , “not a one…but you said you looked just the same only smaller.” I tried to imagine, but didn’t want to imagine, a little curly-headed girl with swimmies reaching out to a mom that was walking away.
I think we’ve come to the place eight years later that you are my girl and I am your Nanc , and I’m very happy about that. Now you have a different dreams that includes a vast array of friends and older folks that have fed into your life for many years…you hope and yearn for the day when you will be a mom, who will hold on tight and never let go….never let go…never let go.
PS because I like them….I am proud of my girl…tell your story…tell it to the world- a story of strength, of perseverance, loyalty and love.
PSS because I just can’t resist…Kelly is realizing part of her dream in June. Papa will be walking her down the aisle, to begin her new life with her best friend, Matthew. xo nanc