Hello. It’s been awhile. Sorry I haven’t written.
For those of you who don’t know me, I started a column in this newspaper seven years ago, after my first son was born. I had just left my job as a movie executive at Sony Pictures and was a new full-time mom. I believed that the peculiar stuff I was doing and thinking was bizarrely funny and just had to write about it.
So I began documenting my world in “Raising Mommy,” and my editor found it refreshing, relatable and quirky, and took it to print. Years passed as I poured my thoughts onto the page, week after week (I’m not sure if I should apologize here). I wrote about almost anything you could think of while sitting in bed in the middle of the night while everyone else was enjoying a good night’s sleep.
I kept it light, funny, entertaining, non-political and not-too-opinionated (except when it came to child predators and young kids with guns). I wrote about my life. I wrote about having to grow up and the ups and downs that come with it.
At times, it was hilarious and at other times, it wasn’t. It was real. It was heartbreaking and deeply personal. I couldn’t bear to write about my Lucille Ball-esque antics while I was going through really heavy stuff. I just couldn’t. So I wrote through the tougher moments of my life, right here, right on page four, week after week and year after year. I wrote about Frankie, my first son’s early months and announced my second pregnancy in a Christmas article in 2004. I wrote through my pregnancy and giving birth (I spared you the details) and having two kids under two years old. Then, my oldest brother, Tom, got really sick and passed away. I wrote about what it did to me, my family and my parents and held back welling tears as I typed out how I missed him. Somehow, once it was on the page, I would feel better.
Time passed. I slowly began to get my funny back and great things were happening. I got to write about how my husband and I bought our first house, opened a business, and how the kids started school and the smooth sailing we were having through parenthood. Then, out of nowhere, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was scared. So, I wrote about it. Then, I found out I had breast cancer and wrote about that, too. At one point, I was tempted to put in a disclaimer at the top of my column – “Caution, this will be a total downer.”
More time passed and I continued to write about my life. I got older. And with more years under my belt, more big life stuff began to happen. As I have aged, my parents have too. Even though they aren’t supposed to, they did. My dad’s health, a serious issue since a stroke left him paralyzed on one side 16 years ago, started failing rapidly. It became harder and harder for my 75-year-old mom to take care of him, so the family decided it would be best for him to be in an assisted-living facility. I had felt heartbreak before but this was different. This felt permanent. So I wrote about it.
Each spare moment I had, I visited my dad at his new place. Each time I went, he greeted me with, “Hello beautiful. I’m so happy to see you. You are wonderful.” And right there, my heart would sing with pride that I was his.
I hated saying goodbye. I tried not to say it when I left and would promise I’d be back really soon. I felt guilty for going back to my responsibilities and my life. I was desperate to see him and desperate when I couldn’t. As I raced back and forth between being a daughter and a mom, I kept myself awake at night, wondering if I could do more, be more and help more. I couldn’t write. I felt helpless. I love writing about finding the hope in everything and with my dad’s situation and his health beginning to really fail, I couldn’t find the hope I depended on. I couldn’t articulate my utter despair, so I stopped tapping my keys.
And in the time that passed, my daddy died. It was Aug. 3, and my mom, me, my husband, my two sisters – Tina and Carolyn – and my brother, Andrew, held him as he took his last breath. We quietly got to say goodbye and he went peacefully. It was the last gift he gave all of us.
My brothers and sisters and I wrote his eulogy. It took me days to find the right words because I felt every word was an expression of my love for him. I wrote and re-wrote and carefully crafted my story for my dad, the guy who, no matter what happened in my life, loved me completely.
It was the hardest thing so far that I have ever had to do. But the words didn’t fail me, so I think I am finally ready to start calling upon them again. I’m coming back to the printed page to tell more stories, more reflections on the glorious, the humorous and, more than likely, the tear-jerking situations in my life.
After all these years, Mommy certainly has been “raised” but I still have a lot of growing up to do. Thanks for going through it all with me. It already feels good to be back.