Thursday, March 31, 2011


Today is my Aunt Sharon's birthday. She would have been 68.

She was awesome.

i have so many memories of Sharon. I spent A LOT of time at her house when I was little. I always thought she was just so cool. She had the best food and drinks. She always had Captain Crunch, Coca~Cola and Reese's Peanut Butter cups in her freezer. Always. For a kid who only got "healthy" cereal and not much junk food in the house, Sharon's house was like an oasis in the desert.

I clearly remember being about ten years old and having to stay home from school because I was sick. My mom worked and my dad lived on the mainland so Sharon brought me to her house to keep an eye on me. It was the best week of my childhood. I swear to God. She let me eat whatever I wanted and bought me new crayons and coloring books. I got to watch any show on TV and the piece de resistance? She let me roll up her loose change and I got to keep all the money I could roll.

I was a rolling fool, let me tell you!

When I was eight we all went to Florida. There was Sharon, her kids David, Teresa, Heather, Justin, then my mom, my brother and me. It was a great trip even though both Heather and I got the stomach flu as soon as we got there. What stands out the most is one of the nights we were all at the hotel restaurant and my mother wanted, yet again, another group photo. All of us kids moaned and groaned and were being really grumpy brats about it when Sharon took one sweeping glance around the table giving us all "the glare". We instantly turned toward the camera and said cheese as if our lives depended on it. Sharon had the best glare. Worked like a charm every time.

But, aside from my sick week, my favorite memory of Sharon is the trip I took to NYC with her, Heather, and Ann back in June of 2001. Only two and a half months before September 11th. We ate our "dress up" meal at the former Windows on the World restaurant on the 103rd floor of the Twin Towers. It was incredible. The whole trip was a laugh a minute right from the get go.

It started when we were on the bus driving to NYC. There was only a handful of us on it at this point and pretty much everyone besides myself and Heather was asleep. I looked out the window as we drove into the state lines of NY and saw a man driving next to us who was, how can put this delicately, um....well... jerking off. That's right folks. He was looking up at me, smiling and servicing himself. Of course I just cracked up and smiled at him and took his picture while giving the play by play to Heather. She did not believe me until I told her that he was either pleasuring himself or he had the biggest thumb in the whole world. She leaned over me to take a peek and we laughed so hard we woke up everyone on the bus including Ann and Sharon who looked at us like we had just lost our minds.

When we got to NYC we had lunch at Planet Hollywood and the waitress pointed out that Tom Arnold was there. Yes, we were pathetic enough to get excited about it and strategized as to how we could "accidentally" bump in to him and maybe get a picture. Everyone chickened out so when we got up to leave I marched right on up to him and point blank asked if he would take a picture with me. He was very nice and agreed right away and then, seeing the "chickens" clucking anxiously behind me, asked if I would like to have them in the photo as well. "Nope" I said right away. "They were too scared to ask you so they don't get to." I know, I know, I am an awful witch at times. So I took my picture and then grudgingly allowed the girls to get in one. I love that group photo though. I am so grateful to have it.

Next we took to the mean streets of the city. I was in hot pursuit of a Kate Spade or Coach purse. Well, I found a guy and actually followed him into an alley with him lugging a duffel bag filled with purses (Ann though dead bodies). Heather stopped short and Sharon outright refused to go. I believe her exact words to me just as I rounded the corner was "What the hell are you thinking, rabbit?" Ann faithfully and fearfully followed me. I bartered with the guy after perusing his wears and got him down to fifty bucks for two purses. As he agrees to this price, Ann hysterically shrieks out "SIXTY FOR TWO!!" I looked at her and said, "Will you shut the hell up?! " She just wanted out of there before he pulled a gun on us but I was determined to stick to my price. I held my ground and we walked out of there with two lovely fake bags for fifty dineros.

Meanwhile, Sharon was puffing nervously on a cigarette and Heather kept peering into the alley to make sure we were still alive. We left and tried to find a spot to eat. We ended up at some hole on the wall in the upstairs of this dive bar and Sharon and Ann instantly ordered drinks. Strong ones. Once again, Heather and I were in gales of laughter and even Ann and Sharon got cracking up at my insane and nearly suicidal need to have a NY bag.

We then decided we needed to go to FAO Shwartz and get something for the kids we'd left back on the island. As we were leaving, outside a concert was being put on. Naturally Heather and I wanted to see who was performing. Remember The Thong Song by Sisqo? Yep, that was our concert. But Heather and I loved it and sang and boogied away while Ann and Sharon looked on in utter amazement at this four foot black man dressed in read leather from head to foot singing into a dragon microphone about "that Thong, tha thong thong thong".

On to get Heather's New York hair-do. She had made an appointment before we left and insisted that she needed a NY do. We all piled into a cab, Heather in front and me squeezed in back next to Sharon and Ann. We were getting further and further away from the main hub-bub when I piped up and asked if this was a safe part of town?" Sure lady." My next question then was well where were all the taxis? I had always heard that if you are in NY and you do not see any taxis then get the hell outta there ASAP! The cabbie was getting annoyed with me by this point but I was not about to let up. The freakin' buildings were all burnt out and there was graffiti everywhere for crying out loud. The only normal looking place was the "salon" where Heather was supposed to get her hair done but it was surrounded by practically rubble. I refused to get out of the cab. I looked at Sharon, who had by this point lit up a cigarette and said, "Aren't you scared? Do you really want to get out here?" She answered that she really did not want to get out so I told Heather that I was not willing to get killed for a hair-do ( a fake purse, yes. Hair-no) and then told the cabbie to step on it. He was really pissed by this point and asked where he should take us. "Well, I don't know! Where would you take four white women who do not want to get raped, mugged and/or killed?! Take us there!" I shouted at him. He dropped us off in Greenwich Village.

Another laugh riot ensued.

We did all the toursity things. Empire State building. Battery Park and Statue of Liberty. The Today Show. Everything. It was so much fun and every single time I think about that trip I smile. Every single time I think about Sharon I smile.

So today especially, there are a lot of people missing her. I hope that some of them will read (and to Heather and Ann, remember) this post and that it will make them smile too.

At least they'd better smile! *insert Sharon Glare here*...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blake Leigh the Buttercup Girl...

...the prettiest girl in the whole wide world.

Charlie used to sing that to her when she was little.


Blake informed me the other day that a) when I had cursive type as my blog text that it was too hard to understand and b) I had written posts about Ellie, Bina and Bobby and only wrote a semi-embarrassing, funny tale of her from when she was little.

Point taken.

Blake is my mini-me. She looks quite a bit like I did at her age (albeit a much prettier version) and she has my sick sense of humor. When something happens on TV or someone says something, we can just look at each other and KNOW what the other one is thinking without saying a word. She has my competitive desire to win as well as the more random things such as my love of reading and then re-reading a particularly good book. She is responsible and very smart. Just an over all great girl. And she was a God-send to me after the Toots was born.

Blake had pretty much just turned nine when Tessie was born. She was super excited and had none of the concerns that Ellie had weathered through. After all, Blake had already had to deal with a baby sister stealing all the attention. Plus, she was old enough now to really want to help and start her training as a "real" babysitter.

When we brought Tessie home I had stopped into Sheepscot River Pottery Shop and bought both her and Ellie charm bracelets that had charms on them that read, "believe in yourself" and "dream big" and things of that nature. I wanted something special that was just for them from me and the hubby that had nothing to do with the new baby.

And to refresh your memory, at the time I had cancer but had not been diagnosed yet however I felt so sick almost all of the time, and to have Blake be right on task with whatever Tessie needed was just an unbelievable help. I think back on that time now and it is such a blur. I really have very disjointed memories of when Tessie was an infant. But I do remember Blake helping me take care of Tessie.

Blake helped me all the time. Day or night. Literally. If she heard Tessie make noise in the baby monitor, even in the middle of the night, Blake would run down to Tessie's room to check on her and make sure she was okay. She would heat up her bottles, carry her to the changing table for me, and basically be a second mother to the Toodle Bug.

Sort of bitter and sweet at the same time, I know.

I used to worry that maybe Blake would end up resenting the time she spent as the "little mother" to Tessie. That she would think that I let her take on too much. Then, when Blake was twelve she wrote these two poems during poetry week at school and I realized that the experience had only made Blake a better person. One who appreciates people and things in a way that maybe she never would have before. That maybe none of us would have without our little Toodle Bug to help us learn through our challenges...

Tess by Blake (age 12)

The baby I cradled in my arms,
jingling with the sound of my new charms
that my parents got me after a week away.
What was wrong with my sister? They couldn't say.
Was the girl going to be alright?
With a bandage on her head, what a sight.
A little later I asked what had happened.
At age nine how was I supposed to understand?
It was a traumatized birth, so much had gone wrong.
My mom and dad had to be so strong.
But I had to be strong too.
My mom was sick. Her back was a mess;
so it was up to me to help take care of Tess.
Got her up and carried her around,
went and checked on her at every odd sound.
We still struggle through hard days.
Going through it together, it's our family ways.
Appointments, therapy, and operations each week.
Sounds bad, but hey, it's our lucky streak.
She's finally getting what she needs:
tubes in her ears and stomach where she feeds.
She's got Cerebral Palsy which causes
seizures, low muscle tone, and mental retardation.
Lot's of bills with all the new medication.
But Like I said we get through it all.
Help each other up when we fall.
She's getting better, everyone can see.
She's doing her best and being the best she can be.
Sure, she can't walk, she can't talk, she can't eat.
But she smiles and giggles and kicks her small feet.
Just seeing her once will make you smile,
and give you the courage to go the extra mile.

My Life by Blake (age 12)

I hear the busy bustle of my mother cooking,
voices of my dad and Ellie outside.
I listen to the faint echos of Tess coming through the baby monitor,
and the hum of the peaceful music playing downstairs.
I feel the click click click of the letters on my keyboard.
This is my home,
my life,
my family.
I love it.