Friday, May 29, 2009

Blessed Indeed

We don't mean to alarm you but.....

These are never words you want to hear when spoken by a medical professional in reference to your child. Such were the words I heard at the Emergency Room Wednesday evening as Jacob laid limp in my arms, skin pale as the thinnest paper, eyes half glazed.

The doctor, seated to my left in a crisp set of forest green hospital scrubs, spoke matter-of-factly as he outlined the tests they wanted to perform on Jacob. Because his fever had spiked to 104.5 and miniature convulsions shook his little body, he wanted to run a battery of tests including bloodwork, urine sample, xrays as well as get fluids in him ASAP.

It had already been quite a day and my body was feeling the effects of the stress. Keith had flown to Pittsburgh that morning as I drove like the wind to get back into town from a business trip to Atlanta. Jacob had been picked up from daycare by a good friend and had been vomiting and lethargic. No matter how fast you drive, you seem like you cannot get to your child quick enough when they are ill. Upon my arrival, Jacob proceeded to show me the color of the popsicle he had eaten by throwing up down the front of my shirt. I rushed him to Urgent Care and, after 30 minutes of waiting, a nurse came to the waiting room, took his vitals and asked me to take him to the NEAREST Emergency Room...nearest? My Momma-stress-meter jumped a couple notches as I tried to drive as safely, but as quickly as possible.

Now settled in the ER and trying to figure out how to keep a 7-year old entertained, update my husband in Pennsylvania as well as hold the limp biscuit of a child in my arms...I suddenly felt a bit overwhelmed. They had moved us into a large operating-type room so that they could "see better to work" and the cacaphony of buzzing, beeping, whizzing and whirring was a bit unsettling. On either side of us were trauma cases such as puncture wounds, dislocated shoulders, heart attacks... and, in the middle of it all was a hospital bed with a Mom cuddling a little feverish boy and another boy propped in a makeshift "chair bed" watching the Disney Channel. The contrast was glaring.

Throughout the evening, a team of nurses and doctors would poke, prod, and examine Jacob to get to the source of his fever. I could not have been more proud of my child. His arm taped securely to an immobilizing board, he would utter an occasional whimper but then drift off into another light sleep. Since he was resting in my arms, I took this rare moment to absorb the physical beauty of my child. His soft reddish blond hair slightly tussled from all the commotion, his long soft eyelashes seemed to stretch on to forever and the sweet pout of his perfect little lips...I was amazed at how serene he appeared while undergoing such a traumatic situation for someone his age.

As the hours wore on, I realized how lucky I was to be in that place. It made me acutely more sympathetic to parents of children with serious illnesses. It made me appreciative of the good health that my family is blessed with and how we have not had to endure any major medical crises of late.

But, more than that, it made me fall in love all over again with the two gentlemen whose company I got to share that evening. Both of my boys were troopers in their own right. One--a patient older brother whose curiosity of the scenes around him reminded me of myself at that age--and the other...a brave toddler clutching tightly to his Momma and a green teddy bear given to him by one of the nursing staff.

And, as I drove home around 11pm that night, I counted those blessings...each and every two of the loves of my life dozed safe and sound in the back seat. I thanked God for sweet nurses and soft lighting and purple popsicles. I thanked Him for saving the lives of those on either side of the curtains around us and for the fluids that had slowly brought my child back to his normal self. But most of all, I thanked Him for giving me yet another day to be the Mommy of my two beautiful boys.

I am blessed indeed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Scattered, Smothered and Covered With a Smile

As I walk through the first glass door, I look to see if she is there. Indeed, she is. And, without fail, her contagious smile brings one to my face as well.

Ms. Shirley is the hostess at the Waffle House I have been frequenting lately. In all my vast Waffle House experience, I have never known them to have a person whose sole job it is to greet customers, help them find a seat and make them feel welcome. But, that is Ms. Shirley's job and boy is she good at it.

Each of the times I have spoken to her, I have had at least one of my boys in tow. Shirley loves on them as if they were her own grandchildren (of which she has five). She is always dressed so her black pants and jacket, lacey white top underneath and bright yellow Waffle House name tag bearing her name. Her makeup and hair done just so, she is a welcome site each time I visit.

The Waffle House is one of those places that you either love or you don't...and I happen to love it. I can order just what I want (this morning a Fiesta Omelette) just the way I want it (hold the tomatoes, please) and there is something about those booths and the behind-the-counter action and the occasional country lovesong pouring out of the jukebox... there's really no place like it.

But...what makes the experience even better is the friendly smile of a nice lady named Shirley. A lady who, by just doing her job, somehow makes it feel like home.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sliced Tomatoes and "Co-Cola"

It's so easy to think about my Mom today and all the ways she made my world a better place to be. But who was responsible for shaping her into the person she became? Frances Lightsey...a.k.a. my MeMe.

MeMe was the quintessential Southern lady. Prim and proper to the core, she always boasted perfectly coiffed hair and a never-chipped red nailpolish always adorned the tips of her dainty fingers. She was quite a bit older than other grandparents I knew (she'd be 102 this year!) but she had a sparkle about her that was unmistakable.

Meme could always be found in the kitchen standing with one arm behind her back because of lower back pain.... but she didn't let that stop her from whipping up her famous chicken spaghetti or from serving sliced tomatoes at EVERY meal(quite possibly the reason I do not like them today!). She and my grandfather George were very much in love and I cherish memories of him stealing a kiss as he'd breeze through on his way to do yardwork or tinker in the garage.

If I close my eyes, I am transported back to the kitchen of their little 700-sq. ft house in Robertsdale, Alabama with its freshly-mopped white linoleum floors and the smell of perfume and cooking spices mingling in the air. MeMe is sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter gently dropping salted peanuts into her little glass bottles of "Co-Cola"...

Frances Lightsey was an interesting lady brimming with grace, intellect and love. I only wish that I would have had a little more time with her to fully appreciate what a complex and intriguing woman she was.

But, as I take time to reflect today and think about my own journey down motherhood's path, I cherish each and every memory I have of my grandmother and will never take for granted what a special role she played in my life.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Brotherly Love

I can see it in his eyes. They sparkle and come alive when he spies him entering the room. It is clear that our almost 18-month old child is utterly and completely, totally and undeniably infatuated with his older brother.

With an age difference of 6 years, I did not expect such a bond to develop between the two at this age. But it is there. From fighting over the last goldfish in the box to wrestling and giggling on the floor, these two have become fast bosum buddies.

Jacob, our youngest, wants nothing more than to copy every movement, every breath of his big bro Daniel. As soon as Daniel dares walk down the long hallway to his bedroom, Jacob is right on his heels...running at a full sprint as fast as his little toddling legs will allow. His body gyrating back and forth as he speeds in hot pursuit, it is clear he is on a follow in Daniel's footsteps at any cost.

It really is the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

I am sure as the years go by, there will be more and more ways that he will get on his brother's nerves as he tries hard to emulate his every move. But for now, there is still a sweet tenderness, a newfound friendship being nurtured that warms a momma's heart and stirs in me images of giggles in the night, flashlight escapades shared under bedcovers and adventures that only brothers can share.

But for now, I will sit back and enjoy watching what I hope will be a very special relationship develop. They may not be close in age and they may not even be related by bloodline...but none of that seems to matter. It's a brotherly love we've got goin....and nothin could be finer.