Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Megan's Rainbow

Some life moments wash over us as if they were scripted by Hollywood. The time is so intense we are certain that at any instant we might hear a director yelling, “Cue the music!” as the dramatic scene plays out before us.
Thus, I was waiting for the swell of the soundtrack of my life to begin playing last night while on a walk with my first born.
Her suitcase was waiting by the door.
Her passport was waiting in her purse.
Her future was waiting around the corner.
This was the night before she was to leave for Guatemala as part of a program to help Guatemalan women find life skills and careers that will keep them from being at the mercy of others. It’s a wonderful program–--one I fully believe in ---–for other people’s daughters. For my daughter, after she graduated from college, I was thinking more along the lines of a job within fifteen minutes of home, one she could drive to and from in an armored vehicle, with or without an escort from the National Guard. So it was, this detour from the life-bubble I wanted to keep her in was smacking me in the face while we walked on the eve of her endeavor.
It was an unseasonably cool summer night. The light mist of rain was a perfect setting for the mood I was wallowing in. We walked and talked and I hugged her as much as I could.
As we arrived back to where we began, we sat for a moment on the front porch, looking out at the cloud covered horizon. She indulged me as I blabbered on about how quickly the years had gone ---how proud I was of her –how hard letting go sometimes is.
And then, just as the misting rain was watering my wallowing, a ray of sun squeaked through the dusk sky. “Look,” my daughter pointed at what the ray had brought us.
There, right above us, was a rainbow. And at that moment I felt a blanket of comfort covering me, reassuring me, reminding me.
When my first born was a baby, her daddy used to sing her a song that became her theme song. The refrain is:
“Look, look, look to the rainbow
Follow it over the hills and streams
Look, look, look to the rainbow
Follow the fellow who follows a dream”.
As I remembered those words of her song, I realized that is exactly what she is doing ---following her rainbow –following her dream.
And if a director were to be shooting that scene of my life, he would have at that moment yelled, “Cue the music.” And the scene would fade with my arms lovingly wrapped around my baby girl.
For at least a few more minutes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tammy's Tat

“Maybe one day you can write an article about it and tell me why you did it,” teased my father-in-law as he heard of my absolutely uncharacteristic “indiscretion” of the weekend before.
And as I now pivot my head to look in the full-length mirror, the reflection of my no-longer bare back takes me aback for just a moment.
A tattoo? Who-da- thunk it?
Yes, the weekend involved a college campus and a bit of peer pressure. But I swear no alcohol was involved.
I was attending a weekend workshop as part of my Masters’ classes at Miami University. The day marked the last day that my two daughters and I would all be students at Miami at the same time. With my oldest graduating the next month, the day was all the more sweet due to its significance.
“We need to do something big today,” one of my girls suggested. After a varying degree of propositions that took more time, money or nerve than I had that day, they both agreed on the best memory maker for us.
“You need to get the tattoo today.”
A few months earlier, when my younger daughter started at the same university as her sister, they decided to get matching tattoos. Their selection was a Celtic cross –the cross with the circle in the middle. When they unveiled this decision and tattoo to me for the first time, I have to admit it was a bit concerning to see the backs that I had rubbed with sunscreen all those years to protect from any permanent marks, now forever marked with a symbol. Still, I admit the idea of the symbol was intriguing. The cross of course, represents our faith; the circle of the cross, a symbol of eternal love. I actually thought it was a pretty nice tattoo for my daughters to share. When I mentioned it was, indeed, a nice bond, they suggested I join them in the bond. And I laughed at the impossibility of it all.
But somehow it didn’t seem so impossible when my daughters reminded me of their suggestion that day at Miami. Standing there with my two girls each now a young woman, on her own verge of the rest of her life, I wanted to freeze the moment. So I said yes.
And as I sat in the tattoo parlor in Oxford I could not stop smiling a ridiculously goofy smile at the strange scenario I was witnessing but could not fathom. This was a piece of my life’s puzzle you could never have told me would fit in with the other pieces of the last 48 years. It was so not me. And yet, knowing my girls wanted me to share in their bond, made me want to share in getting a tattoo I never would have imagined.
And as I stare at my back today, I think about writing that article to explain to my father-in-law and others why I did such a thing that is so different than anything else I have ever done. But maybe that is also part of the reason I did it.
Coloring inside the lines, thinking inside the box, doing the expected, is stable and decent and good. And that is pretty much how I have lived my life. I have prided myself in being dependable and therefore, pretty predictable. But there is something so liberating about getting older and waking up one day to realize you don’t need the approval of everyone after all. You have reached a beautiful zenith of life when you embrace the idea that you just don’t need to explain everything anymore.
So part of me was tempted to write that article explaining why I got my Celtic cross tattoo; but the other part of me doesn’t want to write it, because after 48 years, I finally know that I understand. And that’s enough.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Holidays when the kids are little have their own way of grabbing your attention as if in a face-hold and not allowing you a single thought until the moment is over. With those early years and the overwhelming need to protect, entertain, and feed our children, the reflective thoughts about the moment get put on the backburner for one day when you might actually entertain a free thought.
That day is today for me.
With my oldest now just graduated from college and my youngest in middle school, the days are full of busy-ness –but the time between the moments allow me to actually have a thought and process it.
This is what I reflected on while watching the 4th of July fireworks reflect from my rearview mirror this year.
Gone are the fourth of July days of preparing a bicycle for that early morning parade. No more purchases of crepe paper and mini flags to adorn a tricycle that will end up not being ridden when the little one decides he wants to be carried for the mile walk. No more packing a suitcase full of toys, snacks and mosquito repellent to take along for the waiting of the evening fireworks display.
This fourth of July had most in the family going their separate ways. Then as night began to fall, in anticipation of the fireworks, my son asked for a ride for him and his friends to go to the display. After dropping them off, I pulled over on the side of the road to watch the fireworks from my car.
At that moment it was the independence of my children I was reflecting on more than the independence of my country. But that night with every beautiful burst of light shooting across the sky, I started to believe the fireworks were symbolic of that precious thing called childhood.
With a burst of beauty, it all begins. At times loud, but always exciting, it has your full attention. You swear you will never take it for granted. But somehow you do. Then, when you think you have seen it all, something surprises you that takes your breath away, once again. Sometimes you think it’s preparing for the finale, but before you know it, you are given a little bit more. And a little bit more.
And then you start to kid yourself and pretend it will never end. But the fireworks and childhood always seem to end before you are completely ready to admit it’s time.