Of Family and Other Oddities
Just Slightly Off Center
always wanted a close-knit family but I only know how to crochet. So, I had some larger holes to deal with. But I have learned that love, laughter, and prayer, will fill the gaps. I have flunked many of life’s lessons but I’ve never lost my sense of humor. Over the years, my family has given me a fair amount of stress, a lot of love and tons of laughter. Here are some memories and musings, past and present.
“I’d give him a piece of my mind…if I could remember where I left it…”
My Husband Since 1977
Seriously, Have We Met?
he idea that you can be married for more than half your life and still know very little about your wife seems to be only a surprise to me. My husband Michael, is perfectly content to discover “brand new”things about me every day. He appears constantly perplexed. You don’t like soda? We got married on your parents anniversary? You don’t really have green eyes? You wear contacts? The list goes on.
He also has definite opinions that are shared by… well, really nobody else. Case in point, major food companies apparently using a little known and frankly, sales squelching marketing strategy, change the recipes to their products to make them less tasty when they discover that he likes them. Yes, he alone has that power. But let’s not go there.
Forget about names. He simply cannot not remember them. One day he brought a couple of clients over to see our log home and to introduce them to me. He began with the comment, I kept calling them Betty and Bill because we know a Betty and Bill but now I’ve finally got it right. He introduced the husband, This is John. He then turned to the wife, And this is Bill. Awkward pause. I looked at Betty, Do you prefer to be called Bill or William?
All things considered, I suppose it was cruel of me to have twins. Remembering names is hard enough for my husband without also having to figure out which child is which. We were on our boat on day, when Erin and Julie were two. Erin and I were down in the cuddy cabin and Julie was up on the deck with her dad. We heard him speak to Julie but he called her Erin. Erin looked puzzled. Then he said something else to Julie and again referred to her as Erin. Erin looked at me, greatly concerned and asked, Mama, is I Julie?
Thirty plus years of using loud power tools in his construction business has affected Michael’s hearing. He refuses to admit it. This has led to some interesting exchanges. One of my favorites is when I received a phone call from an aunt that I had not heard from in years. We had a nice visit and afterward I, unwisely, attempted to tell my husband about it.
Me- My aunt called from Oklahoma.
Him- Really? What does she do?
Me- She’s my mom’s sister. She’s been retired for years.
Him (shocked)- She has Hepatitis C?
I shared that story with my co-workers and now in the office when someone doesn’t hear something clearly they say, Hepatitis C?
I Love Being a Mom
As I Remind Myself Often
e were not expecting twins. I had an ultrasound at eight weeks. Everything looked normal and the doctor detected a single heartbeat. So when the doctor did another in my sixth month I wasn’t concerned until he remained completely silent. What do you see?, I asked. I don’t know if I dare tell you, he replied. He indicated the monitor, You see this heartbeat over here? He then moved the instrument to the opposite side of my abdomen. You see this heartbeat over here? I said, Please tell me it’s one baby with two hearts! As it happened, I was actually in early labor then. I was sent immediately to the hospital and after ten days and a transfer to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit, delivered identical twin girls at thirty-two weeks. They spent a month in the preemie ward before I was allowed to take them home. Three years later, a little sister was born. This all began in 1985. It seems like yesterday.
The Beginning- Julia Diane
An Only Child… For Four Minutes
h, Julie moments. There are many. The time when she was four and came marching up to me, red-faced and angry at her sister. I wish we wasn’t twins! Why? I asked. Because Erin’s ugly! The day she made this observation after standing facing her sister. You know what? Erin’s right hand is on her left arm and her left hand is on her right arm. Which prompted the indignant response from her sister, Nuh-uh, Julie’s the one with the backwards hands! The year we shopped for Christmas dresses and she said excitedly to Erin, Let’s get the same dress. Like we’re twins! The way she adored her baby sister and would sit for ages just holding Amy’s tiny hand and petting her head.
Julie was a very protective big sister. One day when Amy was in kindergarten, she fell on the playground and skinned her knees and elbow. The teacher scooped up and carried her to the office to get cleaned up and bandaged. A horrified Julie saw this from across the playground and was still very upset when she told me about it after school. This, she exclaimed, is exactly why I never wanted her to go to school!
This is not to say, however, that she never got upset with her little sister. One day I heard her say to Amy in utter frustration, You.. You… Word that I’m not allowed to say!
A memory I especially love, occurred while I was reading a book to the girls at bedtime. I tend to use different voices and accents when I read aloud. This particular book contained a British soldier and a southern cowboy and I read for so long that I must have lost focus a bit. I didn’t realize until then how completely my eight year old had been drawn into the story.
Julie- Wait… just then, did the British soldier sound southern to you? I stared at her. She was completely serious.
Me- I didn’t notice.
Julie- Next time he talks, listen. With great effort I kept my composure and next time the soldier spoke I deliberately used a southern accent.
Julie- There, see? Did you hear it that time?
You cannot buy a precious memory like that. She is still very sweet, lovable and imaginative and I believe that is how she captures such beauty and joy in her photography. She looks at life through the eyes of her soul.
The Stories That Carried Julie Away
The Middle- Erin Lyn
By Four Minutes
rin was born with health complications. She and Julie each have one kidney and Erin’s was barely functioning. This required a surgery not long after her birth which led to a staph infection. Weighing only three pounds, she nearly died. At six months, open heart surgery was required, followed shortly after by a double hernia repair. Erin was a year old before I was informed at a followup appointment that no one that had cared for her in the preemie ward had thought my baby would live long enough to go home. When asked why I was never told this, they replied that I would never have believed them because I believed with one hundred percent certainty that she would. They were right. I knew then what I know now. Erin is a survivor.
She was not happy at all when I brought the baby home. Take that baby back to the ‘hostible’. She’s crying and keeping me awake! As Erin got older, though, she became a wonderful big sister. She liked to share her worldly knowledge with Amy.
One such teaching opportunity occurred around age seven, at the breakfast table as we were eating scrambled eggs.
Amy- How do we know if these eggs were going to be baby chicks?
Erin- Amy, If the chickens are married, the eggs will be chicks. If the chickens aren’t married, they will just be eggs.
When Erin was small her grandma gave her a cute stuffed bunny in a dress for Easter. Erin asked what the bunny’s name was and Grandma said she didn’t know. A few minutes later, Erin found the product tag attached to the bunny and said happily, Oh, here’s her name Grandma. It’s Poly Ester!
This conversation occurred when the girls were in college. Erin was showing me some pictures taken on her camera. Pointing to a picture of herself she said, I look like Julie in this picture and it’s really freaking me out. I thought that was hilarious and I mentioned it to Julie. Her response was, I know what she means. I walked past a mirror once and I looked just like Erin and it was very disturbing.
Why? I asked. She replied, It was just so unexpected. You’re identical twins!, I said, How unexpected could it possibly be?
Erin is moved to tears when people or animals touch her heart. She is extremely compassionate toward elderly or handicapped people. If they happen to be both…
We were stopped at a red light. A very frail, little white-haired man stepped into the crosswalk and began to make his way across the road. Erin, in the front seat began to well up. The man was having trouble walking and was moving very, very slowly. Erin was crying. Then I realized that the little man was having so much difficulty because he had a crippled foot. Now Erin was sobbing. I was afraid by the time the man got all the way across, she would need to be hospitalized. I believe this empathy is why she is drawn to the field of psychology. One of her professors told her she has an extremely approachable aura. She’s warm. She makes people feel safe. They feel comfortable opening up to her. She will be a blessing to others, as she has always been to me.
And the End- Amy Elise
The Baby, Need I Say More?
went into premature labor with my last child as well. It began on a Sunday morning. The sermon happened to be about how we are expected to labor in the church. When the pastor came to visit me in the hospital later that day, I told him he should really rethink his topics. Fortunately, this time a course of medication and bed-rest allowed me to carry full term. I told my mom that I wasn’t allowed to go shopping for her birthday present so I was making her something instead. She was over-joyed with the little red-headed gift born on her birthday.
Amy has always had a unique way of thinking. One day when she was two, my friend Gayla babysat Amy at her house. When I picked her up, I learned that Amy had become very upset at snack time but wouldn’t tell anyone why. On the way home I asked what had happened. Amy said angrily, She tried to feed me bug legs! Look closely sometime at a slice of banana bread. To this day, she will not eat it.
When Amy was preschool age, I took her to swimming lessons. It was her very first time so naturally afterward I asked how she liked it.
Fine, she replied sullenly. I had not noticed anything amiss during her lesson so I then asked how she liked her instructor. Amy looked at me balefully. She let me drown three times!
While waiting for her sisters’ school bus one morning, this gem of a conversation occurred.
Amy- I don’t like Daddy, I only like Mommy.
Julie- If there was no Daddy there would be no you.
Amy- Yes there would, only I’d be a lot prettier.
In the backseat of the car with Julie.
Amy- Remember when me and Erin went up in the loft?
Erin and I, corrected Julie.
No, said Amy, slowly and thoughtfully, you wasn’t there. Just me and Erin.
While in kindergarten she announced matter-of-factly, My teacher says there’s no such thing as pigs. Her sisters immediately began to argue that she was wrong. She stood her ground. Finally in exasperation, Julie asked, If there’s no such thing as pigs, where does ham come from? Amy didn’t miss a beat. Hamsters, she replied.
In church when we were asked to pray for one of our missionary couples who were going to be serving in Germany but were having difficulty getting visas, little Amy looked confused and whispered in my ear, If they can’t get a Visa why don’t they just get a Mastercard?
When Amy was twelve, I told her it was our neighbor Georgia’s birthday.
Amy- How old is she?
Amy was stunned. I thought she was forty-nine! What is she, old-age challenged?
Her senior year of high school, Amy got a job in a retirement home. She served meals in the dining room, and afterward, washed dishes and mopped floors. I did ask where she had learned these skills, but I was very proud of her because she was taking care of others and enjoying it. My church choir sang for the residents that Christmas. Amy, on winter break from college wanted to come and see all of her elderly people. I was touched when I saw how delighted the residents were to see her. They called out her name and came up to her in walkers and wheelchairs, giving her hugs and wanting to hear all about her college life. She was telling them how much she missed them and catching up on their lives. They were telling me how much they loved and missed her. I saw the gentle, giving side of my daughter that night and that is a very special memory.
I Adore Babies
What’s in a name?
The Empty Nest
Yes! (Did I Say That Out Loud?)
ou may be wondering what the kids are up to now. Julie, graduated from college with a degree in Photo Journalism. She is currently working at an animal hospital. She loves animals and photography and would like to combine the two into a business. She has a very caring heart and volunteers at a Rescue Mission on her day off. On September 16th, 2011, our oldest daughter (by four minutes) Julie, married the love of her life, John, in a lovely church wedding. The family was all there to share in their joy.
Erin, graduated Cum Laude in three years with a B.S. in Psychology. Next she got her Masters Degree with a 4.0. She has earned a second Masters Degree and is working toward a Doctorate. She married her soulmate Tim last St Patrick’s Day, in a beautiful ceremony in Northern California. She will be leaving soon for an out of state year long internship. She and Tim are not looking forward to this separation, but know that it is one of the very last requirements to complete her program. We are looking forward to proudly watching Erin walk in the hooding ceremony to acknowledge that she has earned her Doctorate of Psychology.
After high school, Amy completed a year away at the university, did well in her classes but decided not to continue. Considering that she wouldn’t even apply to one university because, Their colors are black and orange and I have red hair!, this was not a huge surprise. She moved out, got an apartment and a variety of jobs, including being a nanny. She is currently a bartender. Amy has always been very opinionated about what she wanted in a relationship. As her father once said, All girls should be more like Amy. If her boyfriends do one thing wrong she trades them in like Cash for Clunkers. So, what a surprise then was her Las Vegas elopement with a man she had known for less than two months. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in the Bahamas and had a beautiful seaside vow renewal one year later. Sadly, after six years the marriage ended.
Amy is now in a new relationship and saving for a house. She loves traveling and adventure so who knows what else her future holds? We nearly lost our precious daughter in 2016 due to a life threatening mrsa infection in her rib cage. The memory still terrifies me. Every day we have her is a gift from God. The time we get to spend with our children is priceless and never to be taken for granted.