Respecting Change

Solution 1 2 or 3 Choice Showing Strategy Options Decisions Or SolvingOver the years – as the girls have gotten older I’ve tried to enable them to make more decisions.  Sometimes those decisions are minor (what’s for lunch) and sometimes they are bigger (picking out a dress for a party).  As they’ve gotten older I’ve worked hard to support their decisions – even when I disagreed.   In that I hope they’ve learned about respecting change.

When the girls were younger – in a lot of ways life was simpler.  I would pick the meal, pick the clothes or the bed time.  As they’ve gotten older and become young women – those decisions have been ceded and sometimes with some effort I’ve been respecting change.

Heading into Thanksgiving week is always a mixed bag for me.  Thanksgiving is actually one of the holidays I like.  But it runs head long into the week when Risa passed.  From there we jump into the holidays, and then the long days of winter.

The change cycle though seems to keep moving.  And rather than fighting it, I think I’ve realized respecting change is just as important as realizing it’s out there.

So, 14.0 has given up softball after more than eight years to focus on tennis.  Her decision to make.  I respect that.

So, 16.5 declares her independence with authority.  Her prerogative as teen for sure – and I respect that.

Respecting change is probably a healthy approach – but certainly not an easy plan to carry out.  Day-to-day, with my eyes wide open I try to learn something new from my girls and day-to-day they make decisions – and I try to respect them.

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Holidays – Time for Family, Tradition and Our Own Things

netflix and chillWith Thanksgiving 2015 behind us, and the hustle of the holiday season hitting crescendo until New Year and the start of 2016 – I was struck by the evolution of our holidays.  It’s a time for family (we did that), tradition (we have that) and now we can each do our own thing too.

Over the four days of Thanksgiving, along with dinner Thursday with family and friends around the table – we spent time together in the city, at home and doing things we like (watching hockey and just goofing off).

During the Thursday dinner – as much tradition as we have was on display – with Turkey, cornbread stuffing and mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

But what made me realize that we also are able to break away and do our own things came to me on Friday.  I was up early and playing pond hockey (even though it was in the 50’s).  13.0 had to sit through the game so I could take her to meet up with a camp friend.  While all of this was going on 15.5 was heading into the city with her friends to celebrate one of their birthdays and see a play.

Saturday 15.5 and I headed into the city to meet up with 13.0 and we headed downtown with some friends for fried chicken on the lower east side.  After wandering around some – we were home in time for the second and third periods of the Islanders’ game (they won).

Sunday the girls spent with Netflix (but not the chill) before we had some dinner.

So yeah, the holidays (2015) are here.  Time for family, tradition and our own things.  There’s plenty of time for them all.

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Happy Holidays, There I Said It

Happy HolidaysAs the holiday season creeps closer and closer to the end of summer, so does the never-ending (and mostly inane) discussion about Christ, Christmas, holiday greetings and simply anything and everything that has nothing to do with the season.  Even though the pumpkins are still on the steps and the turkey hasn’t been sliced, happy holidays.  There I said it.  Now what?

As a guideline (short of a rule) I avoid politics and religion on this blog – largely because I firmly believe it’s no one’s business what I think about either.  However, the garbage spewed about Starbucks and the holiday cups is just too much (OK maybe I spent too much time on social media today).  Whatever.  I am done already – so happy holidays.  There I said it, again.

Without a discussion of Christ in Christmas (or how a mall dresses up the area where Santa sits), or when Hanukkah Harry will show up, or if Dr. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga is truly the originator of Kwanza – can we all just agree that the holidays are a time for us to reflect on the good fortune in our lives.

None of us live the storybook, but one time a year we’re all in better than normal cheer and its a time of year where you feel like almost anything can happen.  Why cloud the moment with a narrative of forced religion wrapped in oblique symbolism?

I won’t.  Happy holidays, there I said it again.

If I see you after Thanksgiving, if we talk before the end of the year or maybe (but highly unlikely) I’ll send out cards.  I won’t try to guess if you’re Jewish like me, Catholic or African-American.  Instead, with heartfelt pleasure I’ll say to you, “Happy holidays,” there I said it again.  Now what?

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Cemetery Moments

Wellwood CemeteryOn the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend we did the unveiling for Risa’s mother’s grave.  Which became the first stop in a place I truly struggle.  Perhaps I’ve had too many cemetery moments in my life – it’s just not a place I find comforting or peaceful.  But I also don’t want my inhibitions to influence my kids, so after the unveiling we went to Risa’s grave – which is also where my father and brother are buried.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my hangup with going to the cemetery – and a lot of time in therapy talking about it.  What it comes down to is not about the memories.  I encourage my kids to talk about their mother, I answer questions about my father and brother, we talk about Risa’s parents and times we all spent together.

But there is something about going to the grave – those cemetery moments that is just unsettling for me.  And since I don’t want my hangups to influence the girls – it’s a stoic moment as I place the rocks on the markers and keep it together.

I think 14.0 realized it this time – she came by and gave me a much-needed hug.  Choking back the swell of emotions – into the rest of the day we went.  I needed that time with the girls to realize how much I have – and not focus on what I’ve lost or have missed out on in life.

There will be more cemetery moments ahead, and as a family we’ll share the memories and keep those who are not with us alive in our hearts.

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8765 Times 3 Plus The Circle of Life

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

There are 8765 hours in a year.  In the three years I’ve been widowed, 26,297 hours have ticked off.  Recent events though have made me realize, my life isn’t so bad.  Yes, its challenging at times but as the girls and I mark our third year without Risa and the passing of her mother (their grandma) at 8765 times three plus the circle of life we’re doing OK.

Maybe it’s the time of year that all of this occurs in – the holiday season filled with symbols that make the images of 2010 so vivid.  There was Thanksgiving at our home, a very quiet day with the girls.  We hosted Thanksgiving dinner again.  It’s become an impotent part of our time together.  We know where we are.

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Back then I got the call that Risa was starting to decline.  This year the call was different but the message was not.  A member of the family was approaching the end.  This time it was Risa’s mom Grandma Eddy.  As events unfolded I wrestled with how and when to tell the girls, the message similar to the one delivered years ago.

There we were at our temple’s Chanukah fair, where we were the day after Risa passed away.  This year, instead of talking to the rabbi about Risa, the discussion was Risa’s mom.

The irony of the moment was not lost on me.  Somehow, it seemed to make sense to keep things as normal as I could of the girls.  Let them go through their day, be with their friends and celebrate the holidays.  The moments that we remember.

There are 8765 hours in the year.  8765 times 3 plus the circle of life this year.  It’s a moment we’ll share (again), but it’s also a reminder that all in all our lives are not so bad.

Risa and Grandma Eddy are gone, but not forgotten.  We carry their memories each day.  They are part of us 8765 hours a year – hopefully for many years to come.

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