Tag Archives: friendship

Solider Boy…Oh My Little Solider Boy

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I have a best friend who everyone wishes was their best friend. Actually, ALL of my besties instill jealousy in others. Not intentionally, I am just one hell of a lucky gal and I have incredible best friends. When I think of the women I have been blessed to have in my life, as my friends, closer than family, I marvel…because I myself am not that great of a friend. My intentions are always good but you know where good intentions lead you…

When I was pregnant with baby #1, I was secretly terrified. I didn’t even know how scared I was. Mainly because I had no birth story of my own. I was adopted so my life began at 5 months old. My mother couldn’t give me any idea what birth was really like or even what MY birth was really like. So, as far as I knew, my stomach was simply swollen. Or possibly I was growing a huge tumor. I was the second in our group of friends to have a baby. Our first friend wasn’t all that helpful at the time because, well, she was taking care of a baby. My girlfriends didn’t really know what to make of the situation. I wasn’t a “kid” person. I wasn’t particularly maternal, like, ever. So, they rallied but we all just acted as if nothing was different. Which was comforting.

My best friend had been through a major surgery just a couple of years before so she was the one who instinctually knew I must be scared. Thinking back, we were just kids. But holy hell were we strong. Friendship really doesn’t cover what we have. This particular best friend is always ready with a laugh. She is the one who makes me funny. She makes anyone she meets feel like they are her best friend. She’s a good egg.

One day we were at my mother’s house. My mom is kind of what Oprah would call a hoarder. She has lots of random things lying around and stuffed in cupboards and tucked into corners, stacked in boxes, pushed up against the walls, on shelves in the garage, you get the idea. It’s heaven for little kids and prop comedians. We were sitting there at the kitchen table discussing plans for who knows what, when all of a sudden my best friend picks up a tiny wooden solider toy from the back of the stove and starts laughing hysterically which makes me laugh hysterically which makes me cry…down my leg. Even when I wasn’t pregnant this was the way our time together generally went. She laughs, I laugh, we pee.

Now we are both laughing so hard we are crying and she starts singing the song from the 60’s by the Shirelles “Solider boy….oh my little solider boy…” ( I should mention here that she has a killer singing voice. Like, she was in a blues band and all, cut a cd…the girl can sing which makes this all the funnier). I know I know, you had to be there. But, we decided that she WOULD be there for the birth of my first baby. I needed her. She would make this terrifying thing I was going through ok. She would make me laugh and remind me that it wasn’t the end of the world. And, she would bring Solider Boy with her. I was supposed to have a focus object for labor and Solider Boy was obviously perfect.

Now we had a plan. My best friend would smuggle Solider Boy in to the hospital in her mouth, cause he fit in her mouth and then pop him out when she got to my room so I could focus! We were still in fits of giggles when we left my mother’s house for the our own houses…ofcourse she called me 10 minutes after she got home to sing the Soldier Boy song on my answering machine which sent me running for the bathroom.

When the blessed day came and I was in my hospital room in writhing, unbearable pain, I wanted my best friend there with me. But the nurses refused anyone to come in! I have NO idea why. Possibly because they were bitches, possibly not. Anyway, I heard the commotion in the hallway and I heard my best friend yell “THEY WON’T LET ME IN!! I LOVE YOU!! WE WILL BE RIGHT OUTSIDE……ME….AND….SOLIDER BOY OH MY LITTLE SOLIDER BOY!!!!!!!”  And she walked slowly back to the waiting room singing at the top of her lungs Solider Boy….and I laughed and then cried. 100 years, 3 pain shots and an epidural later I pushed out my beautiful baby girl. My best friend and Soldier Boy weren’t there to witness her first breath but I knew they were there in spirit. I slept and when I woke up, I lifted my head to check on that little pink peanut sleeping in the bassinet next to me and then shifted my gaze to the night stand to see Solider Boy keeping watch over both of us.

In the 18 years since that night, I have moved house a few times, had a couple more kids, been divorced and basically lived a lot of life. My best friend has been living in New York City for the last 15 years. We are still tight. Anyway, I didn’t know where Solider Boy had gotten to. I couldn’t imagine that my best friend would know where Solider Boy was. But recently I was reminded of our Soldier Boy after watching a Seinfeld episode where Jerry, George and Elaine were attending a classical piano concert and were supposed to be very sedate and Jerry put a Pez dispenser on Elaine’s leg and she starts laughing so uncontrollably that she has to leave the concert disrupting the other audience members and ofcourse upsetting the piano player who George was dating. I sent the clip to my best friend and told her this reminded me of us and Solider Boy… did she remember Soldier Boy? She sent me back this:

Do I remember Soldier Boy?? I had to wipe the chicken salad I had for lunch off of him to take this photo. Of course I remember Soldier Boy!

Do I remember Soldier Boy?? I had to wipe the chicken salad I had for lunch off of him to take this photo. Of course I remember Soldier Boy!

And………… I peed.

 

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And Then…I turned 40!!!

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This is what 40 looks like

This is what 40 looks like

I turned 40 last year, December 24, 2012. I hadn’t given it too much thought really. I have lived alot of life up till now, nothing to do with age. As far as getting old, well, I have already done that. I did that as soon as I had baby #1. It’s just a fact of life. Become a parent, you are automatically “old”. Ask anyone without kids if you are older or younger than them. Just a fact. Try to deal with that graciously.

I never have expectations about anything and my birthday was no exception. My daughter who is 14 had asked me way back in october if I would want a party and I said no. My birthday is on christmas eve! No one wants to deal with going to a party during the holiday. Nice thought but no. And I thought that was the end of it.

So, my bff (who turned 40 this year) called me a couple of weeks before my birthday and said she and her family are taking me out on December 23rd for my birthday. Ok! That sounds very fun and I am so honored that she, my bff, the sister I was lucky enough to pick, was making something special out of my 40th. She said the kids were really excited to take me out to lunch so no backing out. Because she knows that sometimes I just get to a place in my head where I just cannot deal with being a lovely person and then I just hibernate until I can deal again. I said “Yes, bff, I will be there and thank you” and I loved her.

You see, no one has ever made any sort of “big deal” out of any of life’s celebrations for me. I guess because all of life’s celebrations I have always screwed up one way or another. Birthdays, graduations, wedding, babies…I have never done any of those conventionally and so, no one ever made a big deal out of any of those things. A really great lesson on no expectations, no resentment. So, lunch with my bff, her family and my kids for my 40th birthday sounded really perfect.

About a week before the 23rd, my bff and I were talking and she was slightly stressed as she was in the process of selling her house and building a new one, and her husband was out of town, and she had alot of orders for her 1 year old candle business, and she had lines to learn for the show she was in…plus christmas…I jumped right in and said “we can totally cancel lunch and just get together after christmas, no biggie!” and she said “no. your kids are really looking forward to doing this for you” so, ok, lunch is still on. I don’t want to disappoint the kids.

Then comes December 23rd and we are supposed to meet my bff at my fav restaurant at 2. The girls and I go get our annual manicure and we are done at 1. So, we head over toward the restaurant. I am always early. I just am. It is probably as annoying as people who are always late, but I can’t seem to help myself. And so, we start heading to the restaurant. My kids are doing their thing, listening to their ipods. Just before we get to the restaurant I remember that my contacts were ready for pick up at the mall. So, we swing by the mall and I send in my daughter to grab my contacts. By the time she gets out (day before christmas eve the mall was mobbed) it was about 1:45. So, we head over to the restaurant and I am feeling anxious as now I feel like we are going to be late (anything close to on time feels late to me).

As I pull into the parking lot and I see my friend Robb’s car. It is a obnixious yellow car with a personalized licence plate so it is definitely his car. I was so excited!! Robb was somewhere in this restaurant eating and I was going to run up to him and accuse him of calling me fat! It’s an inside joke we had been going back and forth with for weeks. Oh I was giggling already to see his surprised face when I come out of no where and catch him calling me fat (which he wouldn’t have really been doing, but that is the joke…you had to be there). So, we park and I am giddy to get in there and find him…oh he is going to have to explain to his lunch companion why some crazy red head just ran over and started yelling at him for calling her fat!!! Yes, this is my idea of fun at age 40. Nothing wrong with that. I told you have lived ALOT of life up till this point. Whatever.

We walked in and there is my bff, her husband, her kids, her mom and Papa. She had told me the day before that her mom was going to be there so I knew I should make an effort in my appearance because I know her mom appreciates that sort of thing. We gave everyone a hug and I was STILL so excited to go find Robb!! So, as we were walking towards our table I am looking everywhere for Robb or for his Tina. Scanning, ready to pouce….I didn’t even see that we had been walked right to the huge double doors of the private diningroom when all of the sudden my BFF throws open the doors in the most dramatically classic surprise party way and there stands all my wonderful friends. And I just start sobbing like a total idiot.

I mean, ugly cry, snot, swollen eyes…it was NOT pretty. My bff hugged me and said “I am so glad you dressed nice today. I know you would have killed me if you hadn’t done your hair. Thank God you did your hair!!” I was shocked. I had no clue. Both my kids knew. They had planned every last detail with my bff. And never did they let on. At all. Not my 14 yr old, not my 9 year old. I was completely blown away. There was the banner of me as a baby naked in the tub, there was a fancy cake, there was a video presentation (done by Robb who was there, which totally ruined my plan…). It was like nothing I had ever experienced. It’s been almost 3 months and I still can’t believe they did this!!!

I am still teary thinking of all these friends who took time out of their hectic holiday schedule to come and celebrate with me. My family was there, my bff from NYC, one of my girlfriends from middle school who I had reconnected with but hadn’t seen since 8th grade…it was better than anything you would see on the Hallmark channel. Better than a Lifetime movie. It was the perfect way to celebrate 40 years.

All of the people who I love, oh and there were presents, which was so fun!! It was all so overwhelming. I tried to make one of those speeches which is expected…but I just cried. Which is exactly what I did when I had to make my Maid of Honor speech at my bff’s wedding. Embarrassing. My bff covered for me and said what I couldn’t, just like she did at her wedding. I am still in awe thinking back to how they pulled this off, how my friends took the time to gather and how much it truly effected me. Sure, there were some people missing but when you live with no expectations it is never a disappointment. They were all there in my heart no doubt.

And as we were cutting the cake my bff said “See, El, there are some really great perks to being a single mom with great kids and a bff who loves you” Which totally made me cry more. Then she said in her mafia voice “There will be no surprise party for my 40th so you might as well get that idea right out of your head. If there is even a slight hint about a surprise 40th I will kick your ass and divorce you and my husband. Understand?”

Thank you to all who came, for what you all mean to me in my life, to my bff and my kids, my family and most of all to Life for allowing me 40 years…

Move it Grandma!!!

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Only someone over 70 and under 10 would do this and find it hystericaly funny

I love old people. And I say that with total honesty and with the hope that I am not offending anyone over the age of 75. Because of all the old people I grew up with, I don’t think old happens till after 75ish. And even then, it really is just a frame of reference. Old people (speaking generally here, you may know some old people who are jerks, I don’t) have gotten past the looks, the money, the judgements that younger people tend to value above all else. And that is part of what makes old people so fun to be around.

I spent alot of time with old people. My parents taught me the value of my elders before any other value. Makes sense because elders have all the rest of the values pretty much wrapped up. Winning the love and friendship of an older person was a very special thing. We had lots of older people in my neighborhood and in my church and in my family. They never judged me on my outside appearance, even when they probably should have. It seems that if we are lucky, as we age, our eyesight becomes more refined and we are able to see people as they are on the inside. An acceptance of a human being rather than a human doing.

But that is not to say that the old people let me get away with anything. Like I said, their values are solid and they are not scared to offend. Why should they be? They have been there, done that and they are not shy about telling you. It is us younger people, without patience, without understanding, with terminal uniqueness who can’t be bothered with listening. It is us who judge, who laugh at and who don’t care the way we should.When I was 14, I was sneaking a smoke in my garage. My Aunt Rose walked in and I rolled the cigarette over to a friend. I was totally busted. She came right over to me and gave me a hug and said “If you think that just because you make a mistake that I’m not going to love you, you’re wrong. I love you even when you do stupid stuff. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Do you think I haven’t done many stupid things in my life?” and with that she went in to visit with my mother. I felt more love than was my right as a 14 year old (cause I was a pretty big ass when I was 14…)

 My parents took care of the generations before them. Not just when they could no longer care for themselves. But they actually visited and helped when they weren’t asked. They did so because they knew that these old people were priceless. And once they were gone, they were gone. One of the best gifts my parents ever gave me was a true appreciation for my elders.

Today, I would rather sit in quiet contemplation with someone from a generation gone by than try to keep up with the gossip on who is wearing what or going where with whom and how much they made last year. I actually enjoy talking with older people. They have far more interesting things to say than younger people. I wonder exactly when we stopped valuing old people. When did we get so self involved that nursing homes became the norm? I know many times a nursing home is the best option, but many other times it is the easiest solution. When I got married, I made sure my then husband understood that we would be the ones to take care of my parents when the time came and that unless circumstances became dire, they would not go into a nursing home. And he agreed. And I did take care of my father as he died, not from old age, but from cancer. The loss I feel is both that of my father and that of a connection to a generation.

Old people have time to give. They know that the rush doesn’t matter in the end. They know that the only thing that matters is the right here and now. They understand the value of friendship, the importance of family and how to put those two ideas into practice. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they do not have all the answers and therein lies the wisdom. They have witnessed not only their own life but the lives of history. There is a reason that old people and young children get along so well. Neither one of them judges the other on their outward appearance. They see with their hearts.Wouldn’t it be  lovely to not to have to judge others. It is exhausting keeping up with the Joneses not to mention the Kardashians. Really takes a toll.

Elders are not disposable or to be laughed at or stuck away only to be brought out on special occasions. They are to be held, and spoken to, and learned from. When I was 16 and my grandma died, I was sad to lose her, but I was more upset that I never got to ask her the questions I didn’t even know I had. I wanted to ask her the secret to a long marriage, and to raising kids, and what she would have done differently if anything. She was 84 and even then I felt it was too soon, there was so much more I needed to learn from her. But as is the way of life, other older people have come into my life. None with the specific answers but all with a way to live that I can admire.

Old people are just way more fun. They no longer have the hang ups, they are ready and willing to be who they are, no excuses. They know how to forgive. They get what the important things in life are. It is a shame that we younger people don’t see what they have to offer as invaluable. Time runs out so quickly and then another generation is gone. What have we learned? I tell you what, we are all headed in the same direction. We are all actively dying and there is no escape from the end. And if we are very, very lucky, we will be that little old person pissing off the young person behind us as we drive to Wegmans to get ingredients to make cookies for our grandkids….but only if we are lucky.