Jeanine’s Story

Today on Did I Say That Out Loud? I turn my blog over to a guest blogger. I’ve never done this before but I felt that this was a story that would resonate.

On Christmas Eve 2006, I had a pregnancy loss at 32 weeks. Conor, my son, lived for 3 1/2 hours then passed. Thankfully, I’ve come to terms that Conor is in a better, happier place. I know there’s a good reason he isn’t on this earth. I’ve spent many years speculating as to the whys, hows, etc. I truly believe the sadness I held was the beginning of my heart problems.

I carried this heartbreak around for a very long time. Keeping all the sadness and regret bottled up. I never wanted to cry in front of anyone. I felt I had to be strong for my family. Then in September 2007, I had a massive heart attack; I truly believe losing my son played into that.  When people say you can’t die of a broken heart that’s completely untrue. I believe that people can really do a number on themselves with stress and sadness.

I have to say it was the lowest point in my life. Actually, it was the deciding factor to end my horrible marriage (but that’s another blog)! I had been in an unhappy marriage with an abusive man.  To outsiders we looked like Barbie and Ken: big home, great jobs, world by the balls so to speak but behind closed doors, a small piece of me was dying each day. I tried repeatedly to make this marriage work. When I found out I was pregnant I did what any “nice” Irish catholic girl did, I stuck with the dirt bag.

Before our divorce, when we were participating in mediation, my husband, the man I thought special enough to want to spend the rest of my life with, looked at me and said, “Jeanine, the next time you have a heart attack do it the right way and die.” Nice guy, huh. I laugh about it now but at the time the judge was so shocked he ended the mediation early and threw the book at him, literally. He’s still paying for that.

Well that’s history and I’m in a wonderful place in my life now. I thank God every day he kept me here to experience what true happiness feels like. I found my happy place with Matt. Matt is the man I should have met 20 years ago but I suppose everything in life is fate, even losing Conor.

Whew that’s a load off!

So enough of my rambling; I went off on the tangent today because one of my family members told me it is medically impossible to have heart problems from life’s “minor” road bumps. I knew she was referring to my son as a “minor road bump”.  I would have liked to kick her in her ovaries (my favorite line from Anchorman lol)

No one ever really knew how sad I was about all of this.  Recently, I was finally able to let him go 😦 and what a load off its been; a heavy burden for anyone to carry around. I think its done my heart a world of wonders for me to find happiness again!!

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Closure

Wow, it’s been a whirl-wind week. I can honestly say, one of the longest of my life. I’m glad the drama is over and we’re settling back into our routines.
I love closure so thought I should assess the aftermath; I’m surprised at how many positives I can identify.
Positive 1

The high school program is in the hands of a capable new head coach. Pat has spoken with him several times and he’s impressed with his knowledge and passion for the game. He expects great things from these young men and he’ll be in attendance at as many games as possible. His biggest worry through this whole thing was that the program would suffer needlessly. So far that seems unlikely.
Positive 2

Dylan likes the new coach as well. He’s still not cleared to play but the coach has kept him on as team manager and is using him in drills and warm-up consistent with what his doctor allows. Dylan and Pat are planning his lacrosse comeback with determination and precision. I’m thrilled to see Dylan’s work ethic kick up a notch.
Positive 3

Pat’s still coaching. He’s back at the youth level. It’s a good place for him. He’s great at fundamentals and is really great at engaging kids and keeping them interested. He’s a positive and happy person and that’s infectious. I’ve told him for years he should really be an elementary school teacher.
Positive 4

I was worried about Emma. When this first started, I noticed that she was closed-in and complaining of stomach pain. Something that I haven’t seen from her in over a year. Emma, for the uninitiated, had a pretty serious anxiety problem when she was younger. I was worried this was the beginning of a back-slide. It wasn’t!! We talked about it and we moved on. A clear sign that the anxiety that plagued her for the first 11 years of her life is, finally, managed! How amazing is that!?
Positive 5

Our family and friends. Wow, did they rally. I expected the family, especially the sisters. That’s what we do. It’s who we are. Family first and forever. No questions. Don’t want Dad coming back and snatching us all bald-headed! Other family rallied as well. Cousins, cousins-in-law, friends we consider family.
Another positive from this event, we’ve reconnected with friends that had drifted away due to schedules and busy lives. Pat and I are committed to making sure we don’t drift apart again. Their support and, in some cases, unvarnished opinions, helped tremendously.
Some of the silence has been deafening from family and those we considered friends. We’ve also made new friends from this and we’re both glad for the gift of more amazing people in our lives. Not everyone gets to learn who their true friends are.
Positive 6

My family. Meaning, Pat and the kids. We did a lot of talking this week. We talked so much I actually wished I could stop talking! I know right! Don’t think that’s happened in like, ever!
We’ve always trusted our kids with the truth. We did this time as well. They didn’t let us down. They really are remarkable people and I can’t wait to see the grown-ups they become. The way Pat handled himself was a true lesson for both of them on courage and honesty. I hope they are both able to refer back to this episode to inform actions in their lives.
Positive 7

Our relationship. Pat’s and mine. I really didn’t think I could love that knobby-headed freak anymore than I did, but I do. This could have put us in a dark and ugly place but we wouldn’t let it. We faced this like we face everything, united and as a team. We’ve become stronger for our experience.
He surprised me last night. He called me and asked me if I’d like to go out with him. On a date. A real date. Just he and I. At a restaurant. That has waiters! I jumped (not literally) at the chance.
I love you Pattycakes now more than ever.
That’s about all the positives I can manage right now. I’m sure more will crop up later.
All in all, not a bad week.

The Picnic Table

dadwithchris

Dad in Taunton with Chris

In this story, the sisters are grown and most (all but me) had started their families. The grandkids had taken over center stage and my parents (Papa and Grammy) were loving every minute of their rapidly expanding family. They had recently left the City and moved to Taunton. This was a few years before Dad died so that puts us early 90s. It was all very Green Acresey! Not kidding. Well except Mom doesn’t look like a Gabor and they were poor and they didn’t have a pig. But you get what I mean!

Dad got it in his head one day that he needed a picnic table. Not just any picnic table. No that would never do for Dad. It had to be the perfect picnic table. This picnic table was to be an object admired by all who saw it. It was to be a stunning work of craftsmenship.

Dad designed it. He had it built. He brought it home. It took priority in the yard. You would see it, there in the yard. Silent. Empty. Simple.

As you approached the table, you felt more and more uncomfortable.  Something was off. Weird. Unsettling. Wrong. So very, very, wrong.

It was a freaking monstrosity. The kids were afraid of it. How can you get something so simple so wrong. Seriously, it’s a table and benches. Not rocket science.

The proportions were a mess. I’m 5’1″ and I needed a stool to get on the bench. Or a running start. Which I could affect much easier back when I was 25. Small children trembled when they were called to eat.

In order to sit at the table and have a meal, you would first get the tallest person in the yard (generally Jay) to place your food on the tabletop. You would then get a running start and leap onto the bench. Hoping it wasn’t wet so you wouldn’t slide off the other side. Once you were firmly in place you would look, longingly, at the plate of food you couldn’t reach. That’s right. In order to have the correct angle, the benches were about four feet away from the tabletop.

Picnics were a blast!!

Oh, can’t believe I forgot the most important part. Weight distribution. Yep if the distribution of weight was not carefully calculated by NASA you would tip the whole thing over. You had to sit diagonal from someone and you had to sit in even numbers. If you dared to try sitting side-by-side, or across from one another, you would tip the contraption over and fall to your deaths.

Seriously. I think I lost two boyfriends that way.

She ain’t crazy; she’s my mother

I have a large messy family.
The matriarch of this mess – Grammy.
She’s a lunatic! Flat out crazy with a side of just plain nuts. Don’t get me wrong; I love my Mother. It’s just – Damn. She’s a lunatic. She won’t cop to it though. It’s everyone else that’s crazy. She’s the only one with sense. Yeah, see what we’re dealing with?
She’s about 879, in dog years. Not really, she’s 74. Medical science has kept her going for the last 10 or 12 years. She has a defibrilator that really works! Shocked the hell out of her a couple of times. She has circulation trouble from coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure so she uses a wheelchair when she leaves the house. To her credit she leaves the house often. Loves her bus tours with her sister Marie. They have a blast. A couple of old ladies hell bent on mischief and fun.
She used to live with us. Back when we first got married. In our apartment in Dorchester and later the house we bought in Roslindale. She stayed with us for five years before she went to Deb and Edwin’s. Not sure how long they had her. She’s with Laura now. And Eddie. Oh, and the dogs, DeeDee and Bella (a not prettier dog, I have never seen). Sorry Ed but that’s an unfortunate looking dog!
She’s had a long and sometimes difficult lfe but she still manages to look back on it with joy and love. I never understood it. She grew up one of seven and they really didn’t have much. She married Dad and had the five of us pretty quick, except Five (that’s Laura, the baby). Dad drank and wasted money. She had to manage on very little. I never heard her complain and I never really gave much thought to her struggle.
As she gets older, I find myself thinking more about her journey. Her experiences. I talk to her all the time. I’m just not sure we’ve ever had an actual conversation. She is the eternal in our world. Always there. Rarely changing.
Think it’s time for that conversation. Bet it’s going to be crazy!

Barbie Doll

This is blog three in a series of three. Read blog one here. Read blog two here.
I’ve never been much of a girly-girl. Sure I liked high-heels and make-up. Mini-skirts and dangle earrings. I also liked beer and fighting. So I blazed my own path. I’m not interested in opinion or advice (well some is ok).
It’s what I do.
I’m strong. I’m smart. I’m honest. I’m also Irish. That means I can take a punch and hold a grudge. Not necessarily in that order.
I got a pretty good kick in the teeth this week. But, like everything else, I survived. Not only will I survive. I’ll be strenghtened. Every aspect of my life will be better than it was.
I’m amazed at my family. We can do some jacked-up stupid things but no matter what, in the end, we have each other. It’s what we are. It’s who we are. It’s how we are. We are family… and all that crap!
Dylan has borne the brunt of the past week. He’s the one that needs to walk into the building every day. Face his team. His peers. It was the talk of the school. And it’s his walk to walk. And he has to do it alone. And he’s doing an incredible job.
I was angry. Really, really angry. At Pat. At the situation. At the over-reaction. At other things. That anger was starting to inform Dylan’s behavior. Last night during dinner we were talking and I didn’t like what I was seeing or hearing. Until I realized he was parroting me. I squashed it. Then and there. I let the anger go.
Nothing is more important than my family. Anger is useless and drags you to a level that’s not healthy.
I’ve talked a lot about the lessons for the kids and Pat. My lesson. I have courage and honesty. I own my mistakes and I let them make me better. As for the universe. I have one thing to say…
Next.

Pat

This is blog two in a series of three. Read blog one here. Read blog three here.

My family recently experienced tremendous upheaval. Thankfully no one died and no one was injured. However, it threw us into an ugly and nasty place.

My husband was fired. He was the head coach of the Plymouth North Boys Lacrosse team. Parents trusted him with their sons and he let them down. One parent complained about a remark that he made in front of the players and he was fired.
Did he make a crude and vulgar remark on the practice field. Yes. He admitted it. To everyone and anyone that has asked. He has stood up and said he did. What he said was not racist. It was not sexist. It did not incite violence. It was not bullying. It was not aimed at, or directed toward, a player or another person. It was an crude remark and he should never have said it.
We have nothing to hide and we have offered to tell anyone over the age of 18 what, exactly, he said. Several people have actually said no, it didn’t matter because they know him and trust him. Others we’ve told. Almost to a person they told him it was crude and offensive. They also told him they don’t believe he should have been fired for it.
Pat has also defended the school. He has told players and parents that he put himself in the position to be fired. Ms. McSweeney has a difficult job. One I wouldn’t want. Do we think she handed out an overly harsh punishment? Yes. But had he not made the remark he would not have lost his job. Period. End of story. The ultimate responsiblity lies with Pat, it always has and we’ve always said that.
By now, you’re saying to yourselves “It’s her husband, of course she’s defending him!” Let me be clear: had the email accusation been correct, I’d have opened the can of whoop ass myself. In fact, I would be leading the charge to have him not only dismissed as head coach but also as my husband. See, in the anonymous email it said that while in a huddle he told his players about private acts that we perform. That’s right. In the privacy of our bedroom. Want to know how I know that’s a lie? Pat would never do that – ever. He has too much respect for me as a person, a woman, and his wife. The mother of his children. Oh, and his 15-year-old son was there. MY son.
Our lives have been turmoil. Phones ringing, buzzing, and jittering day and night. People stopping by the house. The outpouring of support for him personally and upset at his firing has been overwhelming. I knew Pat made a difference in his players’ lives but until this happened I had no idea how much they loved and respected him.
We’ve finally had a chance to catch our breath. I’m sorting out the lessons here. The kids, especially my son, are hurt and confused. Pat and I have to pull it together and heal our family. How do we want to frame this? How we handle it, will have a deep and lasting impact on them both. All of us really.
Talking to the kids about it, I’ve been impressed with how maturely they have both handled it. We were open and honest about what he said and the context in which it was said. They understand that their Dad had a lapse in judgment and he has paid an extremely high price for that lapse. They have learned that our family has an enormous group of friends and supporters in Plymouth and we can never truly express how much every phone call, email, text, or facebook message has meant to us. Truly we are humbled.
We, as a family, will be learning from this event for a long time. Some of the initial lessons we have discussed with the kids are: taking responsibility for your actions; that actions have consequences; that your reputation can see you through difficult times so be careful what you put out in the world.
My mantra over the last few days has been: Bad things happen. They can make you bitter or they can make you better.
I choose better. Every single time.

Coach

This is blog one in a series of three. Read blog two here. Read blog three here.

Let me tell you about a man. Not a perfect man. Not even close. But a good man. An honest man. A man that was able to look beyond the nonsense and see potential. Potential in the troublemaker; in the borderline student; in the restless; and the outcast. A man that sees potential in the future. In the faces and hearts of young men.

A man that with patience, and understanding, and humor built self-esteem one block at a time. A man that motivates young men to look into themselves and want to be better. Better athletes, better students, better men.
There are no perfect people in the world but some – the lucky ones – have a rare and special talent and they get the opportunity to use it. Not only use it but perfect it and make the world a better place.
Pat has that. You can see it when he’s on the field. Or in a group of his players. Pat’s a coach. Not a “live through the kids” coach. A real coach. One who understands that the sport, in his case lacrosse, is used to benefit the players. Not his desire. Not his ego. Not his agenda.
Pat got shafted – hard! By anonymous. It’s a shame that selfish, small-minded people will never understand doing something for the simple joy of doing it. To be a positive influence in the world. To affect change at the human level and doing it with dignity and respect and love.
I’m not done on this topic; not by a long shot. I will find anonymous. I have a pretty good idea but thinking and knowing are different and since I have morals and a code of ethics that informs my life, I won’t say. They know who they are.
They harmed a good and decent man and his family. My family. And that is unforgivable.
More important than that (yes, more important than my family) they harmed other people’s children. Boys – young men – that had a positive, amazing man in their lives and now they don’t.
Shame on them.

I Love Sunday

I’m not particularly religious. I guess you could say I try to live according to the Christian tenants of “love thy neighbor” and “do onto others…” but with a bit of pagan and secular humanism thrown in. Basically, I’m winging it. It’s working for me. Even at my sickest, I trusted science, not God, to make me better.
I don’t have the patience or tolerance for organized religion. Really. It annoys me. I know others find peace and solace and community; I find rules and hypocrisy. But that’s not the point of this blog.
Why do I love Sunday? It seems to be the day, whether by design or default, that I stay around the house. It’s bacon and eggs day. It’s laundry day. It’s shopping day. It’s catch up on homework day. It’s the day I feel fully connected to being home. Work a nagging, pesky insect in the corner. I know it’s there but it hasn’t arrived yet to fully annoy me.
It generally has a pace and rythym that I strive for the rest of the week. Kids (and generally hubby) sleep in. Even the dog sleeps in. Sundy morning is my time. It’s quiet and peaceful. I get time to myself to write, uninterrupted.
It’s easy like, well Sunday morning (oh come on, you knew it was coming).
Oops, they’re starting to stir. Switching to Mom mode in 3… 2…

I Am A Liberal – Part the First

Not just any kind of liberal. No. I’m a special liberal. I’m a progressive liberal. Know what that means? It means I want to take all your money and give it to low-lives and welfare queens; I want crackheads to get all the crack they want and I want you to pay for it; I want to turn the constitution into a party hat, for the crackheads; Oh, and I want to eat your babies. All that’s true; except for the part where I don’t.
I believe in work. I believe in family. I believe in freedom. I believe in fighting for what’s important. I believe in the inherent goodness of people. I believe a nation’s greatness is based on how it treats it’s most helpless.  I stole that last bit from Aristotle. Pretty good, right? Stick around I might give you more Philosophy 101.
I believe in taxes. There I said it. Taxes. Taxes. Taxes. Know why? I like roads, and police, and firemen, and libraries, and schools. I like knowing that a safety net of social services exists should me, my friends, or someone I don’t even know, need it. And no I don’t believe that we have an evil cabal of welfare queens and crackheads waiting to suck every last cent out of the system. Do they exist? Sure. But stopping the programs because someone may get something for nothing is foolish and short-sighted. Oh, and no, I don’t agree with drug testing AT ALL. Whether I have something to hide or not. It’s like saying “Why do you care if government listens to your calls if you’re not saying anything incriminating?” Oh, I don’t know, a fundamental right to privacy, perhaps. I don’t think you abdicate that right if you fall on hard times.

Mostly, though, I believe in the middle class. The backbone of America. The group responsible for making us great. Sure the industrialists had the capital and the means to start companies but without the us, the middle, the workers, the people who pride themselves on hard work, they’d have nothing. Truly nothing. I wasn’t born into the middle class. Nope, I’m working class. I envied the middle class. I aspired to the middle class. Teachers, nurses, police, fire. People who make a difference in other’s lifes. Union people.

We need the unions. More now than ever. Why do you think they came into existence? Was it because of the safe and secure working environments of the late-1800’s and early-1900s? A greedy middle class not satisfied with the benefits of a living wage and reasonable hours? No, they grew from a need. A need that still exists.  Unions are not the reason for the mess this country is in. Try greed, corporate greed. The constant outsourcing of jobs in this country.
Now before you go off assuming I’m some starry-eyed hippie, I’m not. My husband owns his own business and has for years. I understand profit-margin and the need to have a healthy financial company for everyone to prosper. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about greed plain and simple. Not being content with a comfortable life. The relentless pursuit of luxury – no matter the cost.
We’re dying. A slow, painful, ugly death. A death that some are happily assisting with.

This turned into a longer blog post than originally intended so I am making the executive decision to turn it into a series. Up next: The Nanny-State

48 Hours of Birthday Goodness

Yep, that’s right. Every single year. Two birthdays
Well not exactly. Like everything else associated with the Sheridan Street circus this particular family story has been embellished and stretched for so long, that the origin is lost to history and all we are left with is legend.
Mom says I was born on March 3. Dad, March 2. No, I was not born at midnight. I was born around 8:00 am. I know. Mom has my baby bracelet. DOB: March 3. Dad has my birth certificate: March 2. Legally, Dad wins.
However, Dad, not the most involved of fathers, really doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to matters of the sisters. He called all of us Charlie! Some days I’m not even sure he would be able to pick all the sisters from a line-up.
Dad would wish my happy birthday on the 2nd.
Mom would wish me happy birthday on the 3rd. Parties and presents accompanied Mom’s version of my birthday so I tended to like hers better.
I never really paid much attention to it. It was just what it was. But as I started to grow up, it bothered me for a time. Seriously parents. I know baby birthin had lost its wonder by the time I arrived being number 4 and all but is it too much to ask you to drum up a little enthusiasm and record the actual date. I’m already the baby. The youngest of 4. (Yeah that didn’t last very long!) You think I need more issues to deal with. Honestly!
Anyway, for a period in late-grammar school, it embarrassed me.
When I moved out, every year I’d get the call.
March 2.
Dad: “Happy Birthday Blondie!” Pleasantries and small talk exchanged, he’d hand the phone over to Mom. Mom: “Hi Honey!” Pleasantries and small talk exchanged and we’d ring off.
March 3.
Mom: “Happy Birthday Honey!” Pleasantries and small talk exchanged, she’d hand the phone over to Dad. Dad: “Hey Blondie!” Pleasantries and small talk exchanged and we’d ring off.
Every year.  Except one.
March 2, 1991
Mom: “Happy Birthday Honey!” I don’t remember what I said to her.  I just remember crying. My heart breaking all over again. We had just buried Dad the morning prior on March 1st.
Years later Mom told me she hesitated calling me. She didn’t know how I would react. She just couldn’t bear the thought of losing one more thing that year. I understand that more, now that I’m a parent. Then, it was a raw and painful reminder of just how different our world had become.
Dad’s been gone 20 years this February 26th . (Happy Birthday, Pammy!)  I thought I’d be ready to tell that story this year. I’m not. I’m not sure I’ll do it, us, or him justice. Maybe I’ll just keep doling out the funny. Small bites since they seem to hurt less.
I miss you Dad. Every.Single.Day.