The Thrift Store and Me

When we were small my mom was in college and worked full time. So we spent a lot of time with my grandparents on my mom’s side. Especially on the weekends. My grandfather loved yard sales so that’s how we spent the majority of our Saturday mornings; him with the Saturday paper in hand and off we went. I don’t remember my grandfather bargaining or trying to chew anyone down the price on anything. I remember him with his arms behind him looking at the various treasures of the day. He would buy and collect these Avon figurines and perfume bottles. I never really cared for them even as a child but he loved them. My grandfather also collected coins and every now and then he would take us into downtown Manhattan. In those days you could park your car on the lower level of the ferry and just drive off into the city when the boat arrived. It was pretty cool. My grandfather would take us to these stores that were very old and very dusty. But you just knew there were treasures there for Grandpa. He would always purchase something and we would be on our way home.

So I have yard sale-ing in my blood. Although in the past few years I prefer the thrift store. I call it my happy place. When things were bad with Thomas years ago, I used to go to the thrift store and scour the racks on a mission to find treasures. And I was successful. But…you have to have patience. Things don’t just jump out at you and say, “Here I am! Buy me!” You have to *look*. I’ve found a lot of designer things. I’m a total thrifting snob meaning I don’t buy things that I can easily afford like I’ll not buy most mall brands at the thrift store and believe me there are plenty of Forever 21 tops floating around this city in the thrifting world. Yesterday I found a Balenciaga bag. It’s beautiful. A tweak here and there and she’s ready to roll. This is my 2nd Balenciaga bag I’ve thrifted. The first one I gave away to a huge Bal fan so it was easy to make someone so happy with my find. This one I like a lot so I’ll keep her and wear with pride. I’ve thrifted a Chanel bag. It’s brown nylon and leather and lined in leather. It was easy to see it was authentic when I checked off all the things I was looking for. Last week the thrift store had a fake Chanel evening bag hanging behind the counter. Of course I had to see it and the freaking thing ripped when I opened it, OMG I wanted to die, I quickly told the store manager what happened and it was no big deal thank goodness.

There’s something about the thrift store that keeps me coming back. The thrill of the hunt is one reason. Another reason is that no one bothers you there. You’re left alone and to me that’s a good thing. I say hello to other regulars like me and maybe some small talk but that’s about it. After pleasantries are exchanged we go our separate ways to find whatever we’re looking for. I find rarely are we looking for the same things. And I’ve only had one incident where someone took my cart. I quickly found the woman and proclaimed, “you took my cart!” It was quickly returned to me. The nerve!

After the Wedding

When your children are small and life is a bit chaotic (it was for us) you think about prom days and wedding days here and there. Actually when we lived in NJ we had like a split level house with stairs leading up to the bedrooms. I watched Alyssa then all of 2 and a half years old walk down those stairs in her Easter dress and thought ahead to watching her walk down the stairs as a young woman. That was one of the reasons we left NJ, I couldn’t picture my daughter walking down those stairs in a prom or wedding gown, like it just didn’t fit my vision for the future.

So anyway…back in NY and I’ve had the pleasure of watching both my older girls emerge from our house dressed and made up for their proms and most recently; Alyssa coming home with her bridal hair from the salon and then watch as one of her very talented bridesmaids apply her makeup all in my dining room. I’m glad I was able to be a part of and witness this for my daughter. I don’t remember Alyssa walking down my stairs with her wedding gown on. The photographer and videographer were here taking picture and video; but it’s ok I’m sure I’ll see a photo or video of the grand event I’ve pictured in my mind for so many years.

It’s a week after the wedding and Tommy and I have come to accept the fact that she’s not coming “home.” Alyssa has changed her name on social media to her married name. It’s sweet, and her new name flows, like the two names are meant to be together. I miss my yaya (the nickname Thomas gave Alyssa when she was very young). I get melancholy some days, I’m not sad that she’s married and now has her own little family and now much bigger extended family. It’s more like I just miss *her*. I like my children, I’ve mentioned many times that I like hanging out with them. They make me smile and they make me laugh. When I get melancholy that Alyssa is now married living with Sam I think back to her decision to not leave home for college and attend our local city university. God gave me those years with her to witness the growth and strides she made during those four years. And I’m proud of her for graduating on time, she was determined to not take extra semesters to finish her degree.

Lelly is home with us and for that I’m thrilled. We always called her “Lelly bird” because she was my smallest baby. She’s is petite still. And we also called her “the feel good baby” because she smiled all the time and when you held her you had to smile back. She makes me laugh like no other. Lelly really has a gift for humor and I appreciate that gift. I can laugh at her impressions of others and even when she turns her attention to me and calls me out on my quirks and habits; I still laugh. She’s the only child of mine that my father in law said looks like his mother. I’m glad she does resemble her because we have no pictures of that side of the family.

So life goes on after a wedding. I’m glad Alyssa and Sam didn’t have a long engagement otherwise we would all be experiencing that let down feeling after a big event. There really wasn’t time to get a huge build up since their engagement was 8 months. It all went so quick and so lovely I can’t picture it for them any other way. Samantha is in the process of moving up to Alyssa’s old room which is a change I’ll have to get used to. Maybe for once we’ll have an actual guest room or home office out of Samantha’s old room. Now my wheels are turning… there’s always something going on.

A Son In Law!!

Alyssa and Sam were married yesterday. The weather was perfect for March; a sunny, cool clear day. The maid of honor and bridesmaids were beautiful, Sam and his best man and groomsman were unbelievably handsome and my daughter made a stunning bride. I know I am prejudiced she is my daughter but I also know what a pretty young woman she is.

I teared up a little when she came walking down the aisle with Tommy and also when he officially gave her away and then I was fine, caught up in the lovely ceremony Pastor Ed gave. We took pictures outside the church and discovered that Thomas who did attend the church ceremony with one of his group home staff members named Laura just wasn’t feeling it; he would not be going to the reception. He was beginning to melt down and Tommy and I and Laura decided the best course of action was to get Thomas back to the group home. It’s not the plan we wanted but it was the best plan for the situation we faced.

On to the reception! My mom drove Tommy and I and Samantha and my brother in law Vinny from the church to the venue. We had an amazing and wonderful time! It was great to be a guest at a large party and mingle and chat and drink. It’s funny, you spend so much time being the host for various parties for your children and then all of a sudden you’re a guest at their wedding! People were asking me details about the reception and photographer, etc… and I did not have the answers. Why? Because it wasn’t *my* wedding, it was my daughter and Sam’s wedding and they planned the whole thing themselves. So I was more than happy to answer “I don’t know” because I really did not know.

We made our way up to the upper floor after the cocktail hour was over. The DJ introduced the bridal party then the big into of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Corso! They both were radiant and proud, such a great moment! They danced their first dance and I loved it, then Tommy danced with Alyssa and I cried. It was too much, I kept picturing this little girl with big hair talking to me, running down the street. Omg it was too much. After they were done I threw my arms around my beautiful daughter and ugly cried telling her how much I love her. “I love you too” Alyssa answered all calm, just like she’s always said to me.

It was an amazing night, we were able to see family and talk and catch up. My mother in law was able to leave the nursing home and attend the wedding. We haven’t seen my mother in law in over a year so that was really great.

It’s an odd feeling giving your daughter away. I know she loves Sam and he adores her. It’s not that I’m worried she’ll be unhappy it’s more a melancholy feeling. It’s so true that the days are long but the years are short. I remember when everyone was in grammar school, time just seemed to drag and I thought we would be at that stage forever. Then the next thing I knew Alyssa was in high school and the next 4 years flew by like crazy! I’m going to miss seeing her everyday. They don’t live far thank God and we will still text and talk just about everyday. But it’s different. And that’s ok. Sam and Alyssa are they’re own family and I’m so so happy for them. Their future is very bright!

The Wedding!

Alyssa is our oldest girl. She’s two years younger than Thomas, and with him being special needs and the first girl she takes on more of an oldest child personality than anything else. Well this young woman is going to be married in less than 2 weeks! It’s amazing. She and Sam her fiancé have been together since they were about 15-16 years old. And we adore Sam. He’s such a great guy. He talks to you, actually talks! About anything, work, sports, you name it.

Sam waited to propose until after Alyssa graduated college. He even asked Tommy’s blessing before he proposed. Totally sweet and traditional. I’m excited for them. Excited for them to be their own little family. For them to travel together and make even more memories than they already have.

I know I’m not losing my daughter. This is a shift in our relationship. I already talk to her and have fun with her as an adult although she’ll always be my daughter. I’ll forever be thankful for Alyssa. After so much of the unknown that went on with Thomas all the tests and doctors; along comes this perfectly, perfect, typical baby girl. Alyssa was an amazing baby. Not because she was so advanced and a genius and read by the time she was a year old (haha no…) but because she met every milestone at the exact time she was supposed to. She was a gift from God to show me how wonderful and magical a typical child could be. And she did it all exactly when she was supposed to.

My Alyssa is smart and beautiful and sweet and empathetic and thoughtful and everything anyone could ever ask for in their first born daughter. I was telling myself I’m not going to cry when she walks down the aisle. Nope, not going to cry. But now writing this, I’m not so sure. And why will I be crying? Is it because she’s still meeting those milestones so perfectly? Or because I’ll be so happy for her to be marrying such a wonderful young man who I know loves her so very much. Hard to tell. Maybe waterproof mascara is the way to go.

Marching to the beat of your own drummer.

Our oldest child, Thomas is 24 years old. It’s mind blowing some days and yet other days it’s perfectly normal for us to have a young adult son of this age. My own age blows my mind. I’m 50. There I said it. I don’t know how or when that happened…Seriously. But there it is. I don’t know if I look my age or not. Some days I think I look younger or rather I feel younger therefore I must look younger right? I keep my hair short and many days I wonder if the short hair ages me, makes me look older; who knows.

Samantha, our youngest child is 14 years old. To me it’s pretty wild that there is a 10 year difference between Thomas and Samantha. Eight years between Samantha and Alyssa. I remember when Samantha was younger, Alyssa adored her. She would take her out of the crib and give her breakfast and I would sleep in, it was glorious. I never had so much help when everyone was young at the same time.

People used to say to me when Thomas was young, “little kids: little problems.” I hated that. They didn’t know my son and that he/we had a little kid with big problems. I must say that the girls: meaning Alyssa and Lelly never really caused any problems; big or small.

Samantha on the other hand…man. I don’t know what to say some days. I am truly without speech. She gives me a run for my money. She’s the complete opposite of Alyssa and Lelly, is into video games and skateboarding and she’s a sneaker head. She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. And I’m ok with that. I had to come to terms with the fact that she’s not a girly girl. That’s all I was used to with my older girls. Hair, clothes, manicures, getting them to NOT touch their own eyebrows, its ok I’ll have them waxed or threaded for you. Whew! With Samantha she’s into clothes but her own style of clothes. She loves sneaker shopping or even just sneaker window shopping. Oh and she likes going to the thrift store with me. She’s developed quite an eye for picking out the good stuff. That’s my girl!

People and Their Stories

Everyone has a story in their life. Whether it be something joyous, traumatic, heartbreaking or an event that has changed them forever. Working as a vaccinator, giving people the Covid 19 vaccine by injection these past 2 weeks had been a pleasure let me tell you. Everyone working the POD (Point Of Distribution) has been great and very helpful. There are designated leaders, a tech leader, vaccine leader and an overall POD leader. We even had a wonderful physician there yesterday to lob questions off of when unclear situations arose.

Yesterday this gentleman sat down at my station. We were waiting for the doctor as I had some questions concerning prescription meds this man was taking and the vaccine. While we were waiting: out of no where this man began telling me about his now deceased wife. How she died of breast cancer. He told me the story straight without breaking down and I was amazed at all he went through; that he loved so very much, still loved her. How he took care of her and was just there for her both physically and emotionally. It was truly a testimony of love and a testimony to marriage; “in sickness and in health.” After he finished talking the doctor became available and we cleared up the questions and I gave the man his vaccine. Before he left to go home he stopped by my table to show me a picture of his wife. She was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t cry yesterday but I feel teary eyed now retelling the story.

There was also a male client who told me he had an autistic son. I told the client I also have a special needs son in a group home and that Thomas adjusted very well to living in his group home. The man said they had a similar situation; his son adjusted wonderfully as well. He was quiet though, but not in a bad way, more like a man of few words quiet. And that was fine. I am always amazed at what a small world we live in and that you never know someone’s story until they invite you in. Yesterday I was privileged to be invited in to hear people’s stories.

Being a Vaccinator

Last week I was able to receive my first of two Covid vaccine doses. I had no qualms about receiving it, and I had minimal side effects just a mildly sore arm for a day or two. This past Monday, one of my nursing coworkers asked me to come to one of the local high-schools that is a “POD” (point of distribution) for the Covid vaccine. As an RN, I would be a vaccinator. Add that to my resume. I had to be vetted/background checked before they let me work. So I was asked to go home in order for the people in charge to speak to those higher up and it might take a while. They called me to return to the high school a few hours later to begin work.

The line of people registered to receive the vaccine is at least a block and a half long outside the school. It wraps around the back of the school where it ends inside the building in one of the main entrances of the school. The people inside still have to make it across the cafeteria to yet another line where they are then divided out to available nurses aka vaccinators to receive their dose.

After waiting for a couple of hours outside in the cold, people are so happy to see a nurse ready to give them the Covid vaccine. You would expect some grumpiness or sour attitude especially after a long wait, but no. I receive nothing but smiles and relief to be sitting at my station. The giving of the injection itself takes about 2 minutes. But I don’t rush anyone; most people want to talk a bit, and that’s ok. Then there’s the taking off of the outerwear and getting me access to their upper arm where the injection is given.

I have been having such a pleasant experience giving Covid vaccinations. The people working there have been nothing but nice; asking what do you need, what can I get for you? PPE is provided and so is dinner. What more could one ask for?

They’re All Different

Tommy and I have four children. They were all pretty much planned we know the biology of it all. Sometimes I think people assume at least one child was a “surprise” because we have over the average amount of kids that most of our friends have. But no, not the case. I used to get a kick out of people counting them when we were all out in public together. It was amusing on one hand, then at the same time it was a little irritating, I mean 4 is not an outrageous number. Now that everyone is grown and independent it’s not often that we’re anyplace together as a family anymore. The last time was over the summer when we got together with Sam’s grandparents and my mother for Alyssa and Sam’s engagement.

I find it somewhat interesting that my children are all so different. Thomas is a category all his own and the girls are more or less typical human beings. Thomas has a flair for being dramatic about things that happen in his life and has also been known to attempt to lay guilt trips on Tommy and me. We don’t entertain that behavior. We had ridiculous difficult decisions to make concerning our son when he was growing up. Decisions no parent should have to make and we did what we thought was best. I don’t regret what we decided; none of it. Thomas can also be very entertaining and sweet and just a nice person. I think he takes after Tommy in those respects.

My girls…well in my girls I see a total mix of the two of us. However each of the three of them have completely different personalities. I don’t think any of them look like me, the only semi exception would be Alyssa and some of Samantha. They both have fairer skin than Tommy but they tan beautifully in the summer. If they aren’t careful they could burn. They tan through sunscreen, like me. I am fair yet I tan. I also see my natural hair color in Alyssa. My natural color is maybe a shade lighter. I used to have very dark blonde/light brown hair. Alyssa has beautiful brown hair and red tone highlights. What she doesn’t get from me is the amount of hair on her head nor the thickness of it. I have thin, regular amount of hair.

My Lelly totally takes after Tommy looks wise in my opinion. She has more of his olive skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. All my kids have light colored eyes. Mine are blue and Tommy’s are green.

It’s funny when Lelly was born my father in law, Chick was holding her and staring at her and said that she looked like his mother. Unfortunately Chick didn’t have any pictures of his mother. Sad. But I think it’s pretty cool that she looks like someone I’ve never met or even know what they look like. I know it made Chick very happy.

Personality wise I can’t say with complete accuracy who takes after who. Alyssa doesn’t like conflict and tries to keep peace around her, Lelly makes me laugh. She’s very funny and will tell it like it is. Thomas understands sarcasm so it’s fun to joke with him, and Samantha can be very serious and then be very fun. I can talk to her, she’s a great listener and when she’s in the mood will then be a great talker and you realize she can be very deep.

I like that they’re all different, it’s just amazing that they are as different as they are. Same gene pool, same parenting environment, same house! Go figure.

Grief

A friend posted words about grief on Facebook yesterday.

I took a screenshot. I had to. I don’t believe I’ve read anything about grief that was truer than this. I think about my dad who went to be with The Lord 3 years ago this February. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve talked to him. I don’t think I’ve gone through the complete stages of grief for him because I can’t talk about daddy or write about him without crying. I have no idea if that’s “normal” or not or if there even is a “normal” when it comes to grief. A couple of months ago I had a dream where daddy and I were together and we were talking. I don’t remember what we were saying but at the end of the dream he held out his arm towards me and hugged me. It was amazing. I know it was him coming to me within a dream for whatever reason. He looked healthy and younger than he did when he passed away. It was so so nice to see him. Every now and then I’ll see a blue cardinal or some sort of striking blue bird at my kitchen window. It will make a commotion until I see it, then the bird stares at me for a few minutes. I’m afraid if I move it will leave so I stay and stare back. The bird then flies away before I can get to my phone to take a picture. I’ve told Tommy about the bird and we aren’t sure if it’s my dad or his dad coming to visit. I truly believe it’s one of them.

New Year 2021

It’s New Year’s Day. I know we are all more than happy to bid 2020 a firm goodbye and good riddance. It’s pretty exciting to begin a new year. New attitudes, new ways of looking at things, new ways of dealing with situations. Some situations never change; year in year out; the same thing that makes you stop and say, “hmmm, again…again?”

I’ve decided to not make any New Years Resolutions. I have made decisions. I have decided to realize what is and what is not within my control and act accordingly. Take the freaking fracking bio chem class. The whole thing was within my control. It was up to me to take advantage of the help that was offered and I did and I worked hard and I finally passed the class. It was all due to decisions I made and stuck to.

It’s my decision to continue my nursing education so I can be an even better nurse than I was before I began the bachelors degree program. I’m looking forward to finishing the program so I’ll be able to take advantage of nursing opportunities that require a BSN. I’m not looking to leave the Dept of Ed anytime soon, I love working where I am and I love my students. But to know I am eligible to take advantage of other options is priceless.

I have some deep decision makings concerning my son. Thomas will always be mine. I say that with such conviction because I never want it to be mistaken that just because he doesn’t live with me he is less than mine. As a person with special needs he will most likely always be “mine”. The girls will all hopefully marry. They will still be my flesh and blood but they will no longer belong to me. They will have their own families to attend to and have children that will be “theirs.”

Thomas was not pleasant to be around this holiday season. We’ve decided he won’t be staying over at our house next Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. Today my heart hurt for him and I called his home to wish him a Happy New Year. He apologized for his actions on Christmas Day, I accepted his apology and then he hung up on me. That hurt. I did not call him back. I have decided I’m not playing into his drama. He might be special needs but he’s smarter than most give him credit for. He knows it’s rude to hang up on me and I will deal with that behavior when I’m ready.

So here’s to a Jesus led, prosperous, drama free, productive, smart decision making year!