What You Remember, My Dad

The anniversary of my Dad’s passing is quickly approaching. I began to write what I remember during that time before he took his final breath here on this earth but then I began thinking of the good times and what a good Dad he was to us. My dad graduated from a local vocational high school here where I live. Growing up, he made a living as a truck mechanic. The big dump trucks. He occasionally would drive a truck here and there but he mostly repaired the trucks for the company he worked for which was owned by a very nice man named Sonny.

I remember some Saturdays when my grandparents weren’t watching us, when both my parents were working/mom in school; we went to the garage where daddy worked so he would “watch” us. Him watching us (us being myself, my sister and my brother) consisted of my brother usually doing tasks; don’t ask me what, I don’t remember; and my sister and I climbing all over the big ol’ dump trucks that were out in the yard. We would climb up and sit in the drivers seat and pull the cable that sounded the horn. It was a lot of fun. When we were bored of that we would run down the street which was a dead end street and all different garages; one after another. Some repaired cars, some were carting/private sanitation, etc…. All of the garages kept dogs as guard dogs. And there were always puppies at some one’s garage and just about everyone knew who we were: Walter’s kids. There was one car repair garage though that we weren’t allowed to play with the dogs because we were told those dogs were mean. You didn’t need to tell us twice because when you walked past their fenced in yard the dogs would bark and growl at you. So yeah, we stayed away from them.

Daddy had a German Shepherd named CB at his garage. CB was a great dog. He loved my dad, omg. And he was so good with us when we were young. Never growled at us or barked, such a good dog. And very protective of all of us. Not a traditional childhood memory but my dad wasn’t exactly a traditional dad. I mean he loved us I know that, but it wasn’t until we were all older, Daddy included that we would say I love you to each other. I’m glad we did grow to say I love you.

Decisions

As a nurse I make decisions for all different situations. Some situations are not emergent but important non the less. There are many times a situation can turn from a run of the mill situation into an emergency and will require well thought out decisions. In the school where I work there are medically fragile students. Every day is different at my job. Some days are consistent with nothing to write home about and other days are full of running from incident to incident while trying to make sure scheduled feedings and treatments and medications are provided on time. I’m not complaining, I’m not. I love my job. And it is what it is.

I’ve worked in hospital as a bedside nurse early in my career and I did not like it at all. So I left. I had great learning experiences there but that’s all I took away from there. School nursing; caring for this population of students has given me the best of everything in nursing that is important to me. The chance to make a difference in a students’ life and the opportunity to lend support and build bridges with parents. When Thomas attended the school I now work at, I received such wonderful support and feedback from his teachers and therapists. It was very difficult to leave there when Thomas needed a residential school. Fortunately the residential school exceeded my expectations of the care they provided for my son.

So…decisions. I am often assessing the situation and running decisions through my mind before deciding on a course of action. There’s so much to consider sometimes your head spins, but not in a bad way more like an information gathering spin; what are the doctor’s orders for this situation? Is there improvement after administering meds, oxygen, etc…. If no improvement, is calling 911 necessary? Which hospital will the EMT’s take the student to? Is that facility an acceptable destination for the family? There are times the parent or guardian will only consent to one particular facility and will not allow their child to be transported and take charge of the situation themselves. And that’s ok, they have that right.

I’ve learned so much working in my school. My students have taught me so much about about what it takes to be their nurse. Every student is different and they may have similar nursing orders but their needs are not the same. I’m happy where I work. And most days I’m satisfied with the job I’ve done for the day. There are days I leave, questioning decisions I’ve had to make that day. No one is perfect and no decision making process is flawless.

The Shoe Closet…

I am a self admitted shoe whore. Well shoes and bags if I’m to be completely honest. But it started with shoes. I remember I became friends with a girl named Michele, we both worked at this children’s clothing store that was very popular in the ‘80’s in my neck of the woods. Michele was young, beautiful and really dressed for work, accessories, heels, body con dresses, the works. I wanted that look so we shopped together and I began wearing heels just about everywhere; especially to work. So I can easily say Michele sparked my love of shoes, boots, all with at least a 2 inch heel. Back in the day I did not go out with my friends unless I was wearing heels.

I began working at an auto parts store right next door to the children’s clothing store. I continued to dress up for work. It didn’t matter that I was a cashier, I wore dresses with heels to that job almost every day. The owner of the store was an interesting man. I asked him why he wanted a woman to be his cashier and he answered that he felt men cursed less and had all in all more calm behavior when he had a woman working in the store. I worked there almost all through college. It was a fun place to work. And the environment didn’t stop my love of wearing heels and nice shoes to work. I think the only place I didn’t wear heels was to college because there was so much walking involved from one building to another, and I won’t get into how terrible the parking was.

Fast forward to today. I no longer wear heels; much. My feel totally kill me if I do. I’ll wear flats whether it be a sandal or a boot. Heels wouldn’t work very well with the job I have now anyway. One day I wore a short boot with a 2” heel and I ended up literally running from one classroom to another to keep up with emergencies that were happening that day, up the stairs, down the stairs …Bad day to wear a heel. I still love shoes and boots. Today I organized my shoe closet. I have a lot of shoes. I didn’t count how many pairs. Every variety of sneaker, sneaker with a wedge heel, then flats, sandals, platform sandals, I will wear a platform heel if we are going out. (I wore platform heels when my kids were small, I could run a marathon in a platform heel I tell ya).

So it was interesting to go through my shoe collection. To think about how my collection has changed over the years. Changed the way my hair color and styles have changed. I’m sure there’s a connection somehow. I do have shoes that are more sensible and conservative than others the same way my hair has been conservative and then totally not conservative. Sometimes you just have to shake things up.

Taking Down The Tree!

I know it’s early for some people but I’m taking down the tree and putting Christmas decorations away. I want my house back. Actually this is on the late side for me to be taking the tree down. I’ve been known to do it on December 26. The one year I did that, Thomas was in rare form and I wanted nothing more than to erase any trace of the holiday that was just trashed. I remember the emotions of that Christmas but I can’t remember the year.

This year, I don’t feel any particular rush to take the tree down. I’m doing it this weekend because I’m to go back to work this Monday and I don’t want to come home after work to my tree still up and my house not the way I’d like it to be. To me there’s a certain relief of putting all the decorations away. In my life, after the 25 of December has come and gone it’s time.

For the first time in the 26 years we’ve been married I had to ask Tommy for help getting the tree back up in the attic. This December when I brought it down was kind of hairy and Lelly was seriously afraid I was going to hurt myself. I laughed at the time but I knew I wasn’t getting it back up there by myself. We did it together and we laughed, poor Samantha had to have her things moved around in her attic room. Then I kept forgetting boxes on our first floor and the stocking holders, omg. I couldn’t stop laughing! It’s good to laugh at yourself.

Happy New Year!! And best of luck to those taking their tree down “early”.

A New Year And “Plans”

I know many make resolutions or decisions that will hopefully impact their lives for the better for the incoming new year. I don’t. In the past I used to and then whatever the average days or weeks into the new year those resolutions were deserted. I guess you could say I try to make happen certain plans that have been on my mind. I’m planning to begin my masters degree program in February, I’m planning to continue to exercise before work, I can’t think of others but that’s a sampling of how my mind works.Things don’t always go as planned though especially in this age of Covid. Plans don’t materialize, you can have all the good intentions in the world and what you planned to happen just does not occur. Sometimes God has other plans for you and you can’t not follow His plan because that is the one that is best for you.

I remember when Thomas first moved to the group home close to where we live. I had all these plans of things we would do together now that we lived closer together. We were going to go to the mall together, go to church together, have dinners during the week together. Well…Thomas doesn’t do the mall very well, he was a fiasco at church and we are all too busy to have dinners together during the week. Instead, Thomas comes over every Sunday and stays the afternoon to just after dinner. Then he’s ready to go home; ready being an understatement. So much for planning. I must say that Thomas has squashed just about every plan I’ve ever had for him in the past 25 years. I’m not bitter, not at all. Just stating a fact.

I really hope that everyone who is making plans or New Years resolutions have the best results this year. Sometimes we need to kick ourselves in the butt to get going. Sometimes we abandon the original plan for something completely different and many times The Lord has His own plan and obedience to Him is the only way to go. Whatever the case; Happy New Year!

It’s That Week…

The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve where you have no idea what day it is, what you’re supposed to do with yourself if you’re not working and what to do with your kids if they’re too young to be left on their own. I remember all to well when my kids were younger. I used to naively believe they would keep themselves busy by playing with all the new toys they received at Christmas. Ha! I couldn’t have been more wrong. They were not content to stay home and play with new toys. I remember trying to entertain everyone. It was not easy. Especially when Thomas was in the mix. He’s still high maintenance. I used to tell our then pediatrician, “all my kids should have been born only children.” I really felt like I couldn’t give them all enough attention each. I know now I was wrong but it was not easy back in the day.

These days it’s so so nice. Yesterday I went to TJ Maxx to peruse what Christmas items they marked down (fwiw not much). I went alone. Bliss! Then later in the day Lelly and I braved the mall. She wanted to go to Barnes and Noble and I had a return to do at Macys. The mall was so stinking crowded, not a fun time. But we split up and each did our own thing, meeting up again when we were finished. We even managed to score a decent parking spot but the amount of people there was crazy I tell you.

Today I did food shopping; alone again. I go early in the morning so either no one was up (Samantha) or no one wanted to come with (Lelly). And that was fine. If you see a trend of me liking to run errands alone you hit the nail on the head. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of others; it that it’s so dang easy to get things done when you’re not waiting on someone else. When I’m home I enjoy when my kids or husband are around. I get bored if I’m here by myself. This week will be nice because Lelly and Samantha are home from school, same as me. If I want to go out alone I just don’t ask them to come. I’m known to take my time when I shop so they don’t usually want to come anyway. Today Samantha and I need to shop for something for her to wear to a Sweet 16 party. Should be interesting.

Waiting For Winter Break!

I feel like a kid waiting for the final days to pass until we begin winter/Christmas break. Counting today we have 2 days (or 1 not counting today) remaining. And I’m not the only one counting. Some of the staff began counting as soon as we returned from Thanksgiving! They made me laugh, it was way too early to count down, in my opinion anyway. I’m tired today. It’s been emotionally exhausting worrying about Covid and positive cases and the rise in cases. I know I’m not alone in that I just want to celebrate Christmas; the birth of our Savior.

It’s funny though because I don’t want time to pass too quickly because the next you know you’re back at work. Plus I begin my program in February. I know I’ve written about this before, I’m partly excited to get started and partly dreading writing more papers. I’m dreading the papers because I don’t particularly care for research. Some issues are easy to find scientific approved articles and others are so difficult you wonder why you chose that subject in the first place. Plus the articles are only permitted to be about 4 years old. I haven’t even started yet and I’m already complaining.

We’ve decided this year since we aren’t going anywhere due to Thomas and his tendency to be so structured; to have a brunch on Christmas Day with my mom and family. A change to what we usually do and I am looking forward to it. We’ll all be together for dinner as well; it will be nice.

Feeling Like A Nurse

I’ve given myself until February 2022 to start my Masters program. And it’s quickly approaching. The weeks up to Christmas seem to fly by and then I’ll only have another month before I begin my classes. I’m still apprehensive about returning for my masters. I guess that’s normal, right? It’s funny only in the past 5 years of my nursing career have I really thought of myself as a “real” nurse. When I was a stay at home mom I was always, “Thomas’ Alyssa’s, Daniella’s or Samantha’s mom.” My dad told me when I had Thomas that I no longer had a name I was now “Thomas’ mom”. He was right. Even when I worked part time as a nurse I didn’t really feel like a nurse. Maybe when I worked at the pulmonologist/allergist’s office because I became adept at identifying lung sounds and I did a lot of patient teaching for use of medications and allergy testing. Too bad the pay was crap.

So these days I find myself doing all sorts of different nursing tasks. The student population at my school is so diverse. There are high functioning students with typical health need’s and there are medically fragile students. The medically fragile students are on a sort of spectrum with some more fragile than others. Working here sort of changes your view of what healthy means. There is a nursing theorist, Betty Neumann who theorized that health is a continuum. I totally get that. There are many students that are fed via a gastrostomy tube or are diagnosed with seizure disorder or metabolic disorder who are “healthy” according to their personal continuum. I find that interesting.

So in February, if all goes well I’ll begin the Master of Nursing program. I’m not sure where I’ll go with this Masters degree. If I’ll look for another position for work, stay with the city, I have no idea. Right now I have no desire to leave where I currently work, any change in job right now would be a lateral move and I wouldn’t be off weekends and holidays, something I’ve grown so very fond of.

Holidays Approaching

For those of us in the United States, this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. In my world it’s the kick off of the holiday season culminating on Christmas and then New Years. I’m grateful that I have a job that doesn’t require me to work weekends or holidays. My first year as a nurse working in a hospital I had to work Christmas Day. I remember I wanted to cry driving in, it was terrible. The next year, Tommy and I were newly married and my nurse manager had me work Christmas Eve overnight into Christmas Day, then work the 26th overnight. I don’t know why she gave me such a horrible schedule I thought we got along, my mistake. Still we made the best of it. I left that job hospital job 2 years later and never looked back.

I’d had been home off and on before I began working full time again about 7 years ago. All the jobs I had I didn’t work weekends or holidays. That is now a requirement for me when I peruse job postings. Yes I know, sickness doesn’t take a holiday, blah, blah… I don’t feel bad to be home for the holidays. I chose to work as a school nurse and working Monday to Friday with holidays off is a wonderful perk. I also run my ass off most days so the students in my school receive the care they deserve. I don’t work as a school nurse who doles out bandaids and encounters stomach aches. I’m a proud school nurse who gives care to medically fragile, special education students so they have the opportunity to attend school.

You know what else doesn’t take a holiday? My son. There have been many holidays where Thomas’ behavior has shadowed a good time. Last year was no exception. I know you all know I love my son and I wouldn’t spend any holiday without him; I would just love it if he would chill for one of them, any of them. Thomas has made big strides in his behavior, however he has never not been high maintenance, even as a young child. Sometimes it’s amusing and other times not funny at all. This year we have chosen to stay home. It’s worth it to be able to bring Thomas home if he starts in since the group home is only 10 minutes away. As high maintenance as my son can be I still wouldn’t change him for the world. He’s not the same person he was when he was a teen and neither am I. We’ve both grown and changed into better versions of ourselves. He hugs me these days and kisses me on the cheek. He never used to. And when he started I was so happy. Simple, take for granted actions from your child such as a hug and a kiss. I always hug my girls and I tell all my kids and my husband that I love them when we leave each other. Even if it’s just a trip to the store. I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving !!

A Quarter Of A Century plus 1

Twenty six years ago we said “I do.” I remember how solemn I felt taking those vows. There’s not much I have not remembered about that day as most brides do vividly remember their wedding day. Tommy and I lived together for 9 months before we were married. It was a nice time and I never pretended we were married, we were too busy planning the actual wedding. I remember after saying those vows feeling different towards Tommy, not in a bad way but more like we were now one, our own little family and it was official. We were married in the eyes of God and the law. To me getting married was much more than a “piece of paper”. It was promising in the presence of God to stay by each other parting only by death. That’s heavy and sobering.

Every marriage has highs and lows, peaks and valleys, good times and horrible times. But when you’re able to overcome those lows and times in the valley you grow. You grow as a person and you could even grow together as a couple. My marriage is far from perfect. I don’t know anyone who’s marriage is perfect. And if they say it is they’re lying. I have no perfect advice to give to newlyweds. What works for one couple may not work for another. Some people have to go to bed angry or they will be up all night arguing, going around in circles and that’s not healthy either.

I was friends with my husband before we started dating. It was nice to have had that time with Tommy. We went to concerts, hung out together with no pressure. However I remember one of my good friends back in high school mentioning that she was interested in him and when I told Tommy about her I downplayed the whole thing and made it seem like they wouldn’t be a good match. It was then that I realized I wanted him for myself. And the rest as they say is history. Twenty six married years later we are still friends. To this day he makes me laugh like no other. We’ve laughed together at the most inappropriate situations and we’ve cried together at the saddest of times. I think you need to cry together at least once, we are only human.

So tonight a day late, we are celebrating the 26 years we’ve been married. We began dating when we were 17 years old so we’ve been together at total of 32 years. Wow that’s a lot of years. I don’t often calculate that total. We’ve been fortunate in many ways over the years. I’d say the good times outweigh the bad times. And that’s good.