Sunday, November 3, 2013
What it's like to be AK47
Yep. I'm 47 today. And right now, struggling with this cold that my 12-year old gave me, I feel like a jammed assault rifle. But as I do every year, I like to look back on the past 365 days of being 46 and wax nostalgic about what I feel thankful for.
Except this year, it's hard. I'll venture to guess this has been one of the hardest years of my life. It's funny; people say they're "stressed." Or they "have stress." Usually, if I say I'm stressed, I know in the back of my head that I'm being a whiny bitch, because there are individuals in this world who have "real" problems. Like no food. Or no shelter. Or no family. Or are victims of horrific crimes. THOSE people can wear the label of "being stressed." I get that. But in my tiny corner of the world, even though I try to put it into perspective, this year has been kind of a bitch. However, amongst every single obstacle and every single "I can't believe this is happening" situation, there IS always something to be thankful for.
So here goes.
1. First and foremost, I'm thankful for my dad. He above anyone else has had a year that no one deserves, especially someone like him. He has seen his wife recover from major surgery, only to watch her struggle with chemotherapy, then sit helplessly by as a brain aneurysm f*%ked with her like the school bully on steroids. In that time, he has been the most loyal husband and father that I've ever seen. He has stood by her every single day, and done more than I think any man on this earth has done for another person. Through that, he has let my sister and me in, communicating with us and letting us in to his world, which is something that doesn't come naturally to him. If he wasn't able to do that, this time in our lives would be much more difficult.
2. Did I mention my 82-year old dad now texts? I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am for that.
3. I'm thankful for the staff at Liberty Village at Manor Care. You hear horror stories about how some residents are cared for at facilities like this, and I have to say I was dreading what my mom's life would be like once she entered the place she never wanted to be. That aside, from what I see of the staff, and I'm there nearly every day, they are exemplary. They are compassionate, caring, and joke with the residents there like they are family. They call my mom "Trouble", because of course, she is. They decorate for the holidays, have daily activities, offer to paint my mom's nails, and make sure she's not mixing navy blue with black when they help her get dressed in the morning. The administration there has listened to us when we've had issues, and has had a number of "family meetings" with us to discuss my mom's care, and what they can do to help her even more. I don't think my family and I could ask for anything more.
4. I'm thankful for the friends who haven't given up on me during this past year. I've taken a step back from many of them. I don't go out like I used to; I don't stay in touch. I feel as if I'm a bit of a downer, and the few times I try to go out and "let my hair down," I find after about an hour that I just don't have it in me. A few of my friends have stood by me, listening to me on the phone, or checking in - bringing food when they know I have no time to cook, offering to walk my dog or just being there in Instant Messenger to check in on me. I know it gets old. It's getting old for me, too. But without these friends, I truly would not have made it through this year. You guys know who you are.
5. I'm thankful for the few (and I mean FEW) people who have helped me out with my son this year, who is going through probably the darkest of the darkest times in his life - and mine. I'm thankful for the people who "got it" when I said "this is serious" and didn't think I was overreacting. If you have amazing kids who only leave their clothes on the floor and maybe occasionally get a bad grade, you can't relate. Or you think you have the answers. Or you look at me like I'm doing something wrong. But you don't know. Ironically, these people I'm thanking aren't necessarily "friends." They are professionals in the community who have taken a vested interest in my son and his issues, see the seriousness in them, yet also see the potential he has regardless of his bad choices. If it weren't for you guys, I would be at a complete loss. Thank you for being there and doing what you can to help me save him from himself.
6. Though I'm thankful for both of my kids, because I love them both to the moon and back, I have to give a shoutout to my youngest kid. Because of his inherent compassionate nature, he is the one who gives me the smile I need when times are tough. At 12 years old, he still hugs me out of nowhere. He asks if I'm OK. He ask how Grandma is and is concerned that she won't be home for the holidays (she won't). I know I haven't been the best parent to him this past year. I know he's gotten left in the wings. And I hope in the next few years that I have the pleasure to have him under my roof I can be the parent he needs me to be. I am truly so proud of him and who he is.
7. That said, I'm thankful for my oldest. There's not a night that isn't sleepless for me now; there's not a day when I don't get or send a text or an email about him. I worry about him incessantly, and I feel as if I've gone to the ends of the earth to try to help him. But, at the end of the day, I know he's still here. Every once in awhile, he opens up. Every once in awhile, he lets me in. Because of that, I know there is still a chance. I know I haven't lost him yet. And I hope to God he knows I will never stop fighting for him, and trying to help him realize the incredibly awesome, talented, funny, intelligent kid he is.
8. I am thankful for my job. When I lost my old job back in May of this year, I was devastated. I loved that job and the people I worked with. I thought I respected and admired my boss. It was a tough blow. But my new place of work has blown that away. I love what I do, and the opportunities I am given to do more. I love the people I work with and the talents each one brings to the table. It is truly a melting pot of amazeness (yep I made that up) that just WORKS.
9. In that same vein, I'm thankful for my boss. He brought me in to this place when he didn't have to. He saw my potential when I didn't even see it myself. He challenges me to do great work when I think I can only do OK work. He understands (well maybe not understands but allows) me the flexibility I need due to all the crap I have going on outside of work, because I truly believe he has faith in me that I will still get the job done - and done well. Because of him, I am able to juggle this crazy life of mine. Because of him, I truly love getting up and going to work every day (and even reading, sorta kinda.)
10. Ok, I feel as if I need to stop at 10, so I'll make this one about my dog. Right? My dog? I'm not even a dog person. But all the cliches about your dog being the one that loves you unconditionally no matter what? Yeah, it's true. I come home exhausted, or I've just had another run in with the kid, or I'm depressed about my mom, or just mad at the world, and there he sits - waiting. He just sits there. Waiting for me to acknowledge him. As soon as I do, he's all over me, showing me how ecstatic he is that I'm home. I don't give him enough credit to what he does for my day. Thanks, Domino. God put you in my life and I'm truly thankful for your canine camaraderie.
That's it for AK47. Another year - one that I couldn't have predicted if I had tried. My wish for the year ahead? Two things. Two huge things that I pray to God for every day. That my mom's condition will improve and she will at some point be able to return home to her husband and family. That my son will have that "aha moment" that I so desperately want him to have and come back to me like the kid I know he is. Tall order, maybe. But there's always hope. And thanks.