In Search Of Purpose And Key Lime Pie

I’m a foodie and a true dessert lover. Last week I salivated every night while eating huge helpings of chocolate mousse cake with a hint of raspberry jam and thick fudge frosting. My new obsession is finding key lime pie. I’m dying for key lime pie. Why is it that I have not yet found a dessert I don’t adore? I’m strongly anticipating the “Sunday only” jelly doughnut, an almost weekly tradition…

I’m not a full-fledged foodie because I’m fussy about fish: I am a salmon-hater, the strong smell, the nasty taste, I wish I liked it for health reasons but I haven’t found a recipe that can disguise the flavor so I can even take a bite. I can’t get near the fish. ( I still blame Susie K. for forcing me to eat that horrid salmon mousse and telling me it was tuna.) Tonight’s dinner consists of homemade Nona’s meatballs and homemade tomato sauce. I forgot to buy the thick, crusty, multi-grain bread to rip apart and dunk in good olive oil. I’m too tired now to run out and buy it. But a salad of fresh mozzarella and tomato with olive oil and basil will have to do.

 

Key lime pie with whipped cream.

Key lime pie with whipped cream. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a child for my mom, a 57-year-old child, I could never understand that until my daughter turned twenty about a week ago. I am a wife, now going on 26 years and most of all I am a mom.

 

I’m a writer and blogger, I don’t care if blogging is the bottom of the barrel for some people. I love it and will keep doing it until I don’t love doing it anymore. Compiling them together? Maybe.

I was a traveler of many countries when I was young and traveled with my parents and sister on free tickets yet also a homebody who couldn’t wait to just get home.

I cried with happiness when I saw the lights of John F. Kennedy Airport twinkling at night when we were coming home to New York. Home is where I always wanted to be, home is still where I want to be. My older sister would also be crying but for her it was because she wanted to stay on vacation and not come home. Ever. Two sisters, as our parents used to say ” the sun and the moon.” I was lucky to travel with my husband on bonus points when we could, Amsterdam, one of our favorite cities in the world.

I’m both friendly and withdrawn, I need my alone time desperately. I don’t always get it and then I really feel stressed out. I need to walk outside more. Be in nature, appreciate things around me.

Nicolae Grigorescu - Peasant Woman Sitting in ...

I can be quick and funny edging on sarcastic but with no intention to harm or hurt. I’ve had more than one person say I should be a stand up comic. I’m not sure that I see that at all.

 

But, most of all, I am a mom of two incredible adult children, 20 and almost 22. A son, bright, warm brown eyes and ready to start his day early each morning. He never wanted to miss anything since he was two. We used to call him “The Farmer.” To this day, he is active every moment of each day, now on his quest to be accepted to medical school. His goal is to be an ER doctor, no Internist, he. He likes to keep moving. Strong, confident, first child syndrome.

My beautiful daughter, who used to be so shy, not anymore. I admire her, wish I had the same guts at her age. She will go far, she is unbelievably intelligent, intuitive,  sassy, beautiful and charming. She is also incredible courageous which I never was when I was her age. I am so glad that she is like that, I faked my own insecurities so that my children would not be like me. I did it for them. It has paid off in so many delicious ways. I can see her in a court room with her impeccable memory grilling someone on the stand with her quick mind.

I may not have completed a dissertation or an MBA, neither have I received any medals or awards. I have not yet published my first novel.  If I do nothing else in this world I feel accomplished and honored that I brought two amazing young people into this world. They are my life, what I am now and what I will leave behind in the future. My life will go on because of them. I don’t need anything more than that.  I love them more than anything in this world. When people ask me my profession, I answer “I’m a Mom” with pride. I think I always will.

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Having Danced Under Moon-Lit Skies

English: Full moon as seen from Mannheim.

Image via Wikipedia

Kate pictured her husband in his hospital room, he had emailed her a photo of his face with all the tubes attached, the IV in his arm, his pale face grim and anxiety ridden. He honestly thought she would like to see a picture of him the night before his procedure all wired up before he went to sleep. Little did he know how much she hated that picture that was now forever burned in her brain.

He had died after the surgery, the hospital called her at four a.m. to tell her the news.  People should know that there is no such thing as good news at four a.m. Ever. Her parents were over so they stayed with the children while she raced to the hospital in her faded pink bathrobe and running shoes, sobbing hysterically. “She needed to identify the body,” the hospital said.

It had only been three months since he died. She buried her head into her freezing hands and wept, she was alone in their old house tonight. Her sobs wracked her body until she curled up on the old, soft, green couch and lay in the fetal position. She never thought she would be alone so early in her life; she was now a widow at the age of 46. Her children, Alec, 10 and Zoe, 8 were fatherless. ‘How could she handle this’ she thought? ‘How would they get by?’ She honestly had no idea; she knew she had to ‘make an effort for the children,’ that’s what everyone said but she didn’t know how to do that.’

Their cat, Sam, jumped up to the couch and lay beside her. David had been the one in the family who had wanted a cat, maybe the cat was mourning too; he almost never came to Kate. With another night of sleep eluding her Kate tried imaging the years that she and David had dated, how they danced under moonlit stars in their fancy outfits from company parties. She remembered her auburn hair done up in a chignon, and wearing fabulous silver high heels, David, in a tuxedo looking dapper. They traveled all over the world together before they had kids, Istanbul, Rome, Ireland, Amsterdam. They would walk together in a foreign city at all hours of the morning, dancing in deserted streets, streaks of brilliant color from ever-changing skies, holding hands. They would laugh loudly after drinking flutes of champagne. Their lives revolved around each other, having fun, eating at elegant restaurants and living in a romantic dream world.

They married in a small, elegant wedding a year after they returned home and two years later, they celebrated birth of their son Alec. Two years after that they welcomed with love, their daughter Zoe into their family. They moved from an apartment in Manhattan to a small house in Connecticut on a tree-lined street with gardens and small patios. They went from the “ideal couple” to the “perfect family” that’s what people said.

‘What about now?’ Kate cried into the dark night. She didn’t know what to do. She grabbed a bottle of whiskey hidden under the sink and poured herself a generous glass. She tried to drink it all down at once but it made her cough and sputter so she stopped and tried again a few moments later. Everyone expected her to be perfect, to be strong and able and to magically utter those famous words “life goes on.” She couldn’t do it. She tried to tell people but they insisted ‘she could.’  She did not want to be in this world alone without David anymore. That she knew without a single doubt. Yes, she loved her children dearly but she could not function without her husband, the other half of herself.

Kate knew it was just a bad night, a really bad night. She decided to take a hot bath and a few sleeping pills and relax. While drawing her bath she sipped at her second drink and calmed down. She would make it through; she had no choice. No, it was not easy but leaving her children without a parent was unconscionable. In a sudden burst of energy she threw away all the alcohol she had in the house and all the pills. Betraying her children would be like betraying her husband David and she couldn’t do it. She was ashamed of herself that she even had thought about it.  After her bath she was very tired and slept for a long time. She dreamed about their past, dancing in the streets, walking up on the beaches to spectacular sunrises, making love in secret.

She awoke to terrible banging at the front door, her head throbbing with pain. With her hand covering her head, she lurched to the door to open it and was greeted by her two children, hugging and kissing her. ‘This is why she was alive’ she thought. ‘This was her purpose’. She would try hard not to look back but try to stay in the present for these two miraculous children, the result of their love and all they had been, together.

Living in Other Countries

Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA

Image by Piano Piano! via Flickr

I had the proud distinction when I was little of being the “only born American” and I wore that honor with pride. My parents and my older sister were all born in different countries and even though my parents and sister came to the United States when my sister was 9 months old, I still felt special.

At this point in my life, with my husband and our two almost grown children, I would love to live in another country for a few years. Italy, Spain, England, Holland? Greece, Israel, Japan? I love to visit different countries when we can afford it. The only place I wouldn’t want to live? Paris. I would be such an American outcast, wearing my blue jeans and long-sleeved gray GAP shirt, sneakers and clogs. There’s no way I’m wearing high-heeled stilettos and expensive outfits for any city. However, the French countryside is breathtakingly beautiful and I wouldn’t mind learning how to make cheese. For now, I think I’ll stay right here in the USA where I can wear what I want and still drink strong coffee and pastries. If, however, the opportunity came up…..I can pack quickly.

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I’d Be Lost Without You

2008-10-22 - 010 - Kona, Hawaii, snorkeling, f...

Image by cfinke via Flickr

Every morning I am greeted with a smile, a hug and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. He even sniffs the milk before he pours, knowing I have a super-sensitive nose and will gag if I even think something has gone sour. Today there was a small fruit cup with blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe, sliced with love from a steady, beautiful hand. My hands shake so he carries the full cup of coffee to me, so I don’t feel bad and so there will be no spills on our fake linoleum Spanish tiles in the kitchen. In the middle of the night our feet or hands search for each other for reassurance and comfort. I don’t even mind when he snores loudly, though I do punch him lightly in the arm. Without protest he turns over. I used to say “turn over” but with our marriage code I have shortened the phrase to “apple” as in apple turnover and he knows exactly what I mean.

We have our own language, he and I, built on twenty-five years of togetherness, love and friendship. We are each others’ best friend.  I am not saying we have always had the perfect marriage because no marriage is perfect. We have had our rough years, our tough times but we struggle through it together, knowing that home is not just a place but a feeling. I sat through a Gordon Lightfoot concert for him, he came to see Neil Diamond for me. Sometimes he blurt things out that are supposed to be secret; sometimes I reveal my feelings when I shouldn’t. Sam Adams for him, Diet Coke for me. His Scotch is my Yoo-hoo, his dark chocolate is my milk chocolate.

I want our children to see that our marriage is strong, loving, yet not without flaws. I want them to know that marriage, like any relationship, needs work, a strong commitment and loving companionship. We help each other when difficult situations arise, and in life, they always do. When we were first married, we went through the infertility process together; it breaks many couples apart yet it brought us closer together. We share pain and joy, I am more emotional, he is more practical. We balance each other like a delicate balancing toy, sometimes tipping over, always able to right itself to startling precision.We try to laugh even during hard times. He has taught me to be less pessimistic; I have taught him that it is okay to be vulnerable.

Through the 25 years of our relationship we have grown closer together even after we have grown apart. He likes skiing, I like sunshine, he plays racquetball, I need to write. For a little while we thought it was odd that we did not share activities in common but we adjusted and compromised. We trust each other so that if he wants to go skiing, he goes with a friend. If I need sunshine in the middle of a gray, cold winter, I have flown to Florida for a few days. We can be independent of each other yet always happy to reconnect. We share the joy of traveling together, France, Australia, Amsterdam,  Aruba, Rhode Island. We held hands when we snorkeling on our engagement trip in Hawaii, my most favorite memory. While he would prefer to stomp through old ruins, I would rather walk on the beach finding seashells; we compromise.

He is an atheist, I believe in G-d. We have two amazing children, a boy, 18 and a girl, 16. We share their triumphs and their pain; we help each other deal with our ever-changing reality. If the children attack us, as teenagers often do, we immediately look at each other. The silent language of marriage is a subtle one, but we speak it fluently.

I fear the day that one of us is left alone. I pray it won’t be for a very long time yet thinking about it frightens me. He is the one person that I trust with my life, that I can count on without question. He feels the same way about me. We know the best and the worst of each other and accept and acknowledge both. If I had to, I know deep down, that I could survive without him; I just don’t want to.