Our first seven days in Ireland have had their fair share of ups and downs, but as I’ve learned from the Irish to say, “It’ll be grand” and “We’re not here for a long time so might as well make it a good time.” These also remind me of a family favorite saying, “If you’re not having fun it’s your own damn fault.”
Quotations aside, we’ve done a TON of learning and laughing along the way from Dublin to Killarney, the Ring of Kerry and more. We have just a few precious days left here and I know we’re both trying to soak up every second of it (even if it means the 6:45am alarm comes way too soon).
From remembering my Grammy’s passing to my eldest niece starting kindergarten on Monday and tomorrow’s 24th anniversary of my dad’s stroke, it’s been quite the emotional adventure as well. I couldn’t be more grateful, though, to spend the time with my mom in her parents’ homeland and with unforgettable memories in the making.
So, that’s about all I’m obsessed with this week. No breakdown of the four top things, because I could hardly choose from the live music to my bag being returned to the stories to my bag being returned… well, you get the idea.
Inspired by the #tbt trend on Instagram, this new series will revisit an old favorite from years past on a (hopefully) weekly basis. You’re welcome.
This week’s throwback is a straight-up repost from a (now defunct) blog I kept during my high school and early college years.
I wrote this eight years ago, and I remember crying my eyes out as I tapped away in the library. It’s eerie looking back at my writing style and most personal thoughts, but I hope it’ll give you some insight to my childhood — and how Dad’s cancer diagnosis this year made our family even stronger:
Have you ever had something change the rest of your life forever? I mean, it honestly affected every single day for the rest of your life?
I’ve got to stop blaming him for his memory loss, for never throwing a ball with me or shooting hoops. I’ve got to forgive him for not knowing who I was when Adam and I visited him every afternoon in the hospital. I’ve got to let go of the fact that he will never be the daddy I once knew, the one that smiled a lot and even joked back with us.
It’s not his fault that it happened. It’s not God’s fault either. It’s time for me to grow up already, and forget about pushing the blame on someone or something.
No one could have predicted that my mom would roll over one morning and find him, lifeless and forever changed. No one could have accounted for causing him to walk with a limp, to be paralyzed on one side, and to have a bitter, pessimistic outlook on life.
Ten years of blaming, hating and accusing has gotten us nowhere. I feel selfish for assuming that he would have recovered, no problem. He shouldn’t be broken. He should be better. But it’s out of our control and he needs me to know [sic] that I accept him.
I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to come to this realization. And yet, I already feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my heart and my mind.
Appreciate your loved ones, for you never know — one day, they may disappear forever
2013 update: My dad remains one of the most resilient men I’ve ever met. His strength is awe-inspiring, and I’m thankful every day for how much our relationship has grown in the past few years.
My parents spent their 33rd anniversary at the hospital this June. Dad’s receiving treatments at a rehab center on this, the 18th anniversary of his stroke. I love you, Slick Rick … keep fighting the good fight!
Today is my parents’ anniversary.
33 years ago, they held hands in a church.
They vow to love and support one another so long as they both shall live. Friends and family — and God, lest we forget — witness the start of a long road ahead.
3 years later, they hold hands in a hospital room.
And they hold their baby boy — the first grandson for her family’s side. He will be a pioneer of many things: fearless, curious and stubborn as hell. He will challenge and change their lives forever.
4 years later, they hold hands in another hospital room.
They can’t hold their baby girl —the doctors deliver diagnoses much faster than they delivered the incubated infant. She will be a fighter: for life, for independence and for respect.
8 years later, they hold hands in ICU.
He’s suffered a stroke. She awoke in the night to find him lifeless. The ambulance sirens screamed, waking their children. The kids don’t understand why Daddy doesn’t recognize them. They can’t comprehend the doctors’ advice that Mommy should make funeral arrangements. They have no idea the impact this day will have.
10 years later, they don’t hold hands often.
The kids have moved away, forcing a harsh spotlight on an imperfect marriage. Their separate interests have become time-consuming; missed festivities, massive fights and mangled feelings are all too common. Their love and support is routine, but no longer remarkable.
8 years later, they hold hands on the beach.
Their son and his beautiful wife vow to love and support one another so long as they both shall live. Friends and family — many who were there in June 1980 — witness the start of a new road ahead.
Less than a year later, they hold hands in a waiting room.
He’s got Stage IV liver cancer, the doctors say. He can beat it with chemo, they say. He’s in the best possible care, they say. Everything we inherited — being fearless, curious and stubborn as hell; and fighting for life, for independence and for respect — we’ve never needed them more.
Today is my parents’ anniversary.
And I just pray for another 33 years of hand-holding and kept vows.
Despite the end of the Olympics, I am hanging in there. (The viral meme of McKayla Maroney and BuzzFeed’s post-Olympic coverage help.) Onto new obsessions we go:
- Shark Week: I’ve never really gotten into this annual obsession with all things sharky, but it’s the 25th year of scaring people out of the water so I figure it deserves a nod. Duuun-dun, duuun-dun.
- Slick Rick: Today is the 17th anniversary of my dad’s stroke, and about the zillionth day I’ve been thankful for his survival. Here’s looking at you, big guy. You’re a total BA.
- Best of the Bay 2012: Creative Loafing’s contest returns with the chance to name your local favorites. Hint: I know a really good blog … plus this food blog, brewery, non-profit and photographer.
- Beauty and the Beat: Many thanks to my friend, Jonathon, who introduced me to this parody of a Disney classic. Ghetto fab and fun, it’s the best of both worlds — unlike that Hannah Montana chick.
There are a lot of exciting things that a 16th year brings. Wealthy parents may shower their teens with an outlandish party, sometimes documented on MTV’s sickening show. Other kids receive a license and unleash hell on the local roads. But today, 16 marks a personal anniversary that isn’t so sweet.
I woke up to sirens the morning of Aug. 15, 1995. Mom sat at our dining-room table, head in her hands and crying softly. “Daddy’s had a stroke,” she said, and though my 8-year-old mind had no idea what that entailed, seeing a parent weep signals a sudden simultaneous sense of insecurity and understanding.
It was the morning of my third-grade orientation — at a new school, no less — and Grammy would take me to meet my teacher, Mom explained. I don’t remember if I cried then, but I do remember an overwhelming numbness. When adults talk to you, rather than around you, it often forces you to grow up yourself.
Gram took me to the hospital that afternoon. I held Brother’s hand and walked tentatively into the room. I will never forget what I saw and heard: Dad hooked up to beeping machines, doctors giving Mom information about local funeral homes, and Brother telling me that Daddy might not know who we are. Even now, it brings over a wave of emotion that I can’t quite control.
The following months and years brought fresh feelings of frustration and questioning. From walking to writing, and eventually driving, Dad had to relearn every basic function. As the sole southpaw in the family, I was tasked with helping him learn to do things with his now dominant left hand.
He still walks with a limp, and there are days when mobility is not its best. And, I am still selfish at times — worrying how he will walk me down the aisle or complete a father-daughter dance. We aren’t perfect in our relationship, and I don’t know that we’ll ever go back to what I perceived as the idyllic “Daddy & Me” situation.
But, I love him. I’ve learned from him. I respect him for the man he’s become. And I raise a glass to him this evening, 16 years into the new life that was thrust upon him.
I’ll always be your Mouse, no matter what this world brings upon us. 143