New Normal


The newest adventure in my crazy life is Kidney dialysis. I am supposed to be in Italy, but a case of bronchitis led me to kidney failure bad enough to need emergency dialysis. That mean the insertion of a catheter into my heart and a week in the hospital as they pulled over seen liters of water from my body. That was two weeks ago.

Now I am booked at a dialysis center three days a week for four hours or more a day. It is an out patient center, and we all have turn up for therapy. The center has a few offices up front, but the room for dialysis patents is one huge room. There are around sixty recliners, each with its own dialysis machine next to it. I usually get either number 48, 49, or 50. I call my machine of the day Kevin. They do the hard work, so I figure they need to be acknowledged and greeted every day. The nurses think it is funny. I take it seriously.

Once in the room, we are weighed for water gain. Then the nurse takes you to the chair. While they are getting set up with our Kevin, we are allowed to take out our gear. I take a blanket, because they keep it COLD in there. I take my Kindle, my coloring book and pens, Mp3 player and headphones-and a small snack since I get out after 8:30 in the evening. They have a TV screen above each station with limited stations, so I can watch that if I get bored. I generally don’t bother to turn it on.

Later appointments mean there aren’t a lot of people in the room. Most people nap, so it is very quiet. Most people don’t talk to each other, just with their nurse and aide. The later it gets, the more the medical people talk to each other. I find it interesting to listen to their stories, gossip, and frustrations with difficult patients. It is easy to see who likes whom, whose personalities clash, and those who simply avoid each other. It is even easier to see who is there because they love their work and who is there just marking time until they can move on. Fortunately, my team – always the same people, love their work and it shows.

What makes me sad are the patients. Some are so fragile, and it is clear they are getting near the end of their lives, versus people like me who are just starting out on this journey. I have a good chance for reversal of issues, and if not, a transplant. While they don’t talk in the dialysis room, they too greet each other and talk in the waiting room. They all come on the same day and see each other every time, so they share information, hints, tips, and ideas. They even make sure to greet me and welcome me every time I get there. They haven’t become super friendly yet, but this is the south and it is only a matter of time.

Most of the patients are elderly, the youngest is probably in h is forties. Some are very fragile, and most are brought in by family. But what you won’t see is a pity party or whinging. You will hear them laughing, talking about family, and sharing about their religious beliefs. Being forced to use dialysis as a way of survival brings our lives into a new normal that causes a whole new way of balancing everything, No matter if we go through outpatient dialysis or do the at home program, that means being positive, accepting that it is what it is, and that the machine keeps us alive one more day.

It is exhausting and leaves me tired. I can hardly walk at the end of a session, but it will get better as I adjust to the new normal for my body. Meanwhile, I am sure to greet Keven, 48, 49, or 50 each time, follow the rules, and learn to live this new normal of my crazy life, and keep moving forward. Italy will still be there in a few years, and so will I.

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A Girl and A Horse


On Saturday our Addie had a great day. She is quite horse mad right now, and wants riding lessons. Its a long story, but the other grandparent with whom we share custody, isn’t keen on the idea. To help Addie learn about horses and have the chance to be around them, we try to get her to events that will give her hands on experience.

The woman who trained our granddaughter and her horse in the hunter/jumper events put on a program for her younger students called a play day. The girls got to groom and bathe a small horse, lead and ride a horse, and play together in the outdoors on the farm. It was, as Addie said, “Totally Awesome!” And for my husband and myself, brought back happy memories of her mother learning horsemanship from one of the best trainers in our area.

There is something magical about being around horses. I know they seem huge, and they can be scary to little kids, but give them a minute or two with a horse sniffing them, nuzzling them, and kids just fall into love with the animals. There is nothing more sweet that seeing a child reaching up to hug a horse, and the horse all but climbing in their lap to hug them back.

Horses are wise, gentle, ornery, funny, goofy, spirited, and stubborn, just like people tend to be. A good match between rider and horse is a beautiful thing to see. It seems girls are more drawn to ponies and horses than boys, and it isn’t unusual to see a young girl out in the pasture with her best friend lying across his back and telling him all her troubles.

We used to live near a stable and on Saturday the parking area was filled with cars, trucks, and trailers as a gaggle giggling girls between six and womanhood took lessons, competed in events, cared for their horses and spent time making friends and enemies. Between the horses, dogs, people, teachers, and competition it was a noisy, joyous affair.

Girls learned responsibility, and how to work hard because their horses needed them to be able to understand and be aware of problems. Horses learned to work with the girls, treating them with gentleness and making them earn their respect. Having a horse is a lot more work than most people expect. It is an every day responsibility, and there is always something to take care of, be it making sure they horse stays healthy to keeping up with the maintenance of the animal. Brushing, shoes, trimming, checking for sores, cuts, making sure their teeth are in good shape, it is always something. Then there is the equipment that requires care. A good trainer will make sure the girls know how to keep their saddle and bridal in good condition, how to choose the right bit for their horse, and how to get their horse ready to ride.

Some girls have full board horses, where farm hands feed and water the horses, and clean the stalls for them. Personally, I think it is important that a horse owner take care of their own horse every day themselves. Nothing like cleaning out a dirty stall to teach a child hard work. Hauling in hay, grain, and water gives them a chance to understand horse nutrition and health. Overseeing the horses makes them more than a weekend owner, it makes them understand the needs of their horse and how to relate to him better.

I always get a kick out of watching a girl learn to make her horse do as she asks instead of doing what he wants. It gives a girl courage to face down a stubborn 1500 pound animal with nothing more than grit and her 100 pounds of determination. I have seen girls take a jump and go head over heels off a 16 hand horse, just to get up, brush off the dirt and climb right back on to try again. No tears, no self pity, just hard core determination to learn how to do things right. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

So, our Addie isn’t taking lessons, yet. But she is learning her way around a horse and how to care for one from the hooves up. One day we will watch her compete like her mother did, and bring home a blue ribbon. But the point of competing, to us, isn’t the winning, it is learning how to cope with losing, and still getting back on her horse and trying again until she conquers everything ahead of her. And until then, she will have fun loving on horses every chance she gets. I love being a Nana.

Old Lady Rant


Warning: Old Lady Rant

I was in the grocery today. I was standing in the produce section, picking out grapes when a kid ran into me with one of those child sized shopping carts. It hurt when the little )(*($!! jammed his cart into the back of my legs. I turned and told him so. His father, who was pretty much ignoring his spawn, said, “Oh it was just an accident.” “Really?” I said, “Accident or not, it still hurt.” Dad got indignant, “Well he didn’t mean to hurt you, he couldn’t have hit you that hard.” “So, it was okay he ran into me, because it wasn’t a purposeful action, and it didn’t hurt me all that much?” Dad shrugged, meanwhile the kid is tearing around pretending his cart is a race car. “No apology? Your son is allowed to hurt other people and not even apologize? Really? So, I guess if you run into someone with your car and injure them, no harm, no foul because you didn’t mean to and you need not apologize.” About then his spawn ran into one of the displays. Lucky for the little )(#*%#!! nothing got knocked over. I can only imagine how much the Dad would have sued the grocery for if his spawn was hurt. He never answered me, by the way.

That was only one of the times a kid with a child sized cart nearly cause a disaster while I was at the store today. I was walking along headed toward the dairy section when a brother and sister, each with one of those damned carts came running from a side aisle at full speed. I barely got stopped in time, and had I been in one of the motorized chairs, I would have ran them over. No apology, just a dirty look for getting in their way as they continued down the store at full speed, running into each other with their carts – on purpose. No parent in sight, and lots of people trying to dodge their stupid game. I am writing to the grocery owners, those damned things are dangerous, and so are the carts. They should be banned. As should the parents who don’t make their children behave.

Hope For The Future


Recently we attended the Kindergarten program that our great granddaughter’s school put on. It was cute, the kids were great and well prepared, and they all sang their hearts out. As I looked around, the gym was filled with parents and grandparents cheering their babies on. This was a big event for many because it was either their first, or their last, child to do one of these programs. For grandparents, it was a joyful continuation of family, tradition, and community. Applause couldn’t have been louder for the most famous artist in the world. It was their kids up there doing an outstanding job.

Those little children, five and six years old boys and girls, are the future of our country, families, and communities. In the year 2031, they will graduate High School, hopefully, and move on to adulthood. As they go to college, trade school, military, or simply working in one of the many blue collar jobs across the country, they will make up the men and women who will carry on our traditions. Some will make a good life, some will fall to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and violence. Some will turn to crime as a way of life, some with struggle, and some will sail through life without a problem. All of them will have to grow up, mature into the men and women on whose shoulders the responsibility of freedom, strength, and leadership fall.

When we looked at them standing on those risers, all so small, we see our little babies, filled with hope, excitement, and the desire to do well, performing as their teacher asks them. In the years ahead, they will face bullies, struggle with learning, work to become their individual selves. They will fight with others, stand firm as loyal friends, and fall in and out of love with someone. It will be an uphill battle to learn to listen to their conscience instead of their friends who will lead them into trouble. They will have to find their path to faith, religion, and beliefs in God, or not, and they will have to believe enough to stand firm in the face of those who would hate them just because they dare to think for themselves. It will be hard, but thankfully, it happens in small increments of time, over a long time, so they can focus and learn what they must at the moment.

They were all so small, so cute, in their excitement. We watched our great granddaughter as she sang her heart out, proud of each word she uttered. When she saw us afterward, she threw her arms around us and nearly shouted, “I love you!” This is our third generation of children to be part of raising. The feeling we had when our first child was in a program still holds firm today. We told her how proud we were of her, how she did a great job, and how we applauded her efforts. She beamed with joy, practically dancing in her happiness. In her, we see the future, and we pray we can help her on her life long journey. We also pray for all the other children on that stage, that they may have loving parents, security, and a firm belief in themselves and their value to the world. God Bless them all, the hope for the future.

Dealing With Mortality


I am a fatalist, when it is your turn to die, you will die because there is no escaping it. I am sixty-four years old, and I have had to face the fact that mortality is a finite thing. I have diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure – any of which will literally be the death of me. Oh, not today, probably not for years with all of the modern medicine and surgery available. But, I have a use by date stamped in my DNA somewhere and my body is making me very aware of that fact on a daily basis.

I decided that living with constant pain is something I can do, because life is worth it. I can live with the next thing to go wrong, because life is worth it. I can live with the unknown because life is worth it. As long as life is worth it, I will keep going. It may be slower than I am used to, it may frustrate me not to be able to do what I want because of limitations – both physical and emotional – but it is still living. I have long since come to terms with the idea that if I wake one day and nothing hurts, I will have died in my sleep.

I don’t fear dying, for many reasons from my faith to knowing I will get to be with my loved ones and friends who have gone ahead of me. I am also too stubborn and opinionated to let something as natural as death intimidate me. It happens to everyone eventually. I have thought a lot about what I want done at my funeral. No crying, no wailing, no feeling depressed. It is a celebration of my life, my death, and my eternal life! So I don’t want sad music, speeches about how good I was, or more likely, how difficult I was in life. I want loud music, and people dancing as the escort me to my grave. I have already told my husband that at my graveside, the song by the Muppets, “Moving Right Along” must be played as my final thoughts. I love that song, we always played it when we drove off on an adventure when my boys were small.

I don’t want people to sit quietly, whispering to each other, get up and greet each other with a hug and talk to each other in a normal voice. It won’t bother me, that’s for sure. Laugh, oh, please laugh. Laugh about the silly things I did, my stubborn slant on politics, how I would drive my car and smoke those idiot teenage boys who thought they could out drive an old woman. Tell jokes, and share stories. For heaven’s sake, whoever delivers the eulogy, don’t be preachy or maudlin. And above all, don’t be boring.

I want to do a video before I die, one to be played at my funeral. My last word on everything from love to death. Why? Because it is my funeral, damn it, and I can. I want the last memory people have of me, especially my loved ones, to be one of me telling them what to do and how to do it just like I do every day in my life. More than that, though, is a last chance to tell them not to cry, because I have gone on to a better place.

A place where I will have to answer for my mistakes, a place where I can hug my son, and then sit down and have a conversation about his daughter and her life. I will see my Grannie Vandenburg, and tell her how much I missed her. I will see my father, who left his world without giving me a chance to say goodbye. There will be so many ancestors I have questions for about genealogy and family history – and most importantly, I have a few questions for the big man himself, like why did he make platypus, and what was he thinking when he made dinosaurs.

Mortality is something we all need to address eventually. But I want a say so in what happens when and how things are done when I leave this world behind. And I do plan on haunting a few folks who need a swift kick in the attitude just for the fun of it. I may have died, but I will still be me.

Idiot Genes


What is it about human beings that brings out the idiot gene when driving in bad weather? I had a doctor’s appointment today on the other side of Memphis. I hate driving over there, but it is always more stressful if I hit any sort of traffic. Today, due to the time of my appointment I hit the worse area at after school rush hour. Kids everywhere, running across the road in front of traffic, idiots who do not think they need to obey the school speed zones, and parents who think it is just fine for them to stop in the middle of the road to let their little darling get in the car, while chatting on their phones. And, to make it even more peachy, it was pouring rain. Lovely.

The appointment went well, and I got out of there just in time to catch the evening rush hour that starts at four p.m. In Memphis, every road is full of pot holes, some shallow, some deep. If you don’t know where they are, especially when it rains and fills them with water, you will be taking a chance on losing a tire and messing up the suspension on your car. Today, adding to the misery of too many cars in too small a space, we still had pouring rain. Roads were starting to flood, and all the pot holes were filled to the brim. So what do we have to deal with? A big delivery truck, one about the size of a large U-haul truck, decides to make his own space on the road.

He was in the far right lane, between him and the left turn lane were three lanes filled with people driving ten to fifteen miles over the speed limit. What does the knuckle dragging, chest beating, cave man do? He decides to pull across all three lanes, with no warning – like a signal – making cars do their best to dodge and weave around him. Then to make it even better, he made a left turn on a red light. Fortunately, I had an idea something would happen and slowed down to avoid the other cars. Behind me, I heard two or three big bangs as cars careened into each other. I guess they weren’t paying attention because they were too busy jockeying for position to make it through the stop light before it turned red. I just kept going, I was so stressed by then that I just wanted to get home.

Further down the road were cars filled with moms and kids getting from point A to point B in the shopping district. Why, may I ask, do people drive gray, black, dark blue, dark green, and maroon cars in the pouring rain and refuse to turn on their lights? Maybe they can see in the dark, but the average person does not have cat genes that allows them to do so. Maybe there would be less horn honking and swearing if they bothered to turn on the damned LIGHTS!!! Oh, and using turn signals, you know those funny little stalks on the steering column that indicate which direction you want to turn, would help everyone get out of your way before you run them down.

As I got to Pleasant Hill Road, preparing to turn left from Goodman Road, an old fart moron, the worse kind after young smart ass morons, cut across two lanes of traffic to cut me off so he could get in the turn lane first. No, I wasn’t nice, yes I used the horn and a few choice swear words too. If I hadn’t had great peripheral vision, I would have ended up T-boning the moron. As it was, I narrowly missed the old fart. The HE had the nerve to put his car in reverse and try to back into me. Holy CATS! What is WRONG with people when the weather gets bad? They must save up all their aggression just for a day that is dangerous in which to drive anywhere over the speed limit in bumper to bumper traffic, while it pours rain leave about ten feet of visibility. The idiot gene may be regressive for many, but it comes full force on days like today.

I walked in the door and told the Mr. I was DONE driving in this crappy weather. I was so stressed, he took me out to dinner. I think we now have the weather from California that flooded them last week. I think it brought along its own idiot gene just to rile up the resident idiots. Today, I wished I still drank booze, I could use a glass of wine, chocolate, and time out to watch an entire season of Criminal Minds.

I’m WRITING Here!


This morning I was deep into the new book I’m writing. Totally involved with my characters who are at a pivotal moment in the story. They were This Close to resolving an important problem, and the phone rang in my real world. Poof! The imaginary world I was living in just went Poof. Rats. And a whole lot of other not nice words escaped control and ran around my brain like squirrel in a trap. I hate when that happens, the interruptions, not the words, well as long as no one hears me say them out loud.

Writing, for me, is hard work, unless I am in the groove and the story writes itself. I get so involved with my characters and the story they are telling that their world seems more real than mine. I know I am sitting at my desk typing words on the screen. I know I am in my messy, really need to clean one day, house. I know I am wearing my ratty pajamas and three sizes too big sweater. I know I need to comb my hair at some point. I KNOW all of that, but the world I am telling about in the story is so much more interesting. So when the real world intrudes on my imaginary world, it really, Really, REALLY annoys me. And then I think not nice words and snap at whomever is on the other end of the phone.

The Mr. has learned, when I say I am going to write, not to bother me with unimportant stuff. His hair had best be on fire if he bothers me. He knows I will glare and snap at him, especially if I am at what he calls a good part in the story. He gets involved with my characters as much as I do when he reads my daily pages. Recently, he told me that he didn’t like what was happening to the hero of the story, it was depressing. I had to point out that in real life everyone has bad things happen so there can be a happy ending. He understood, but he still grumble for three days that it wasn’t fair the poor guy couldn’t just be happy. Of course, when I killed off one of his favorite characters, he was really ticked. But hey, it had to happen if the story was going to move forward. Once again, the real world interrupted my imaginary world. Critics. They are everywhere, even among those I love.

I am going to give writing one more go today. If the phone doesn’t ring, the dog doesn’t start barking, nothing breaks, and no one knocks on the door, maybe I can get back into that groove. I am anxious to see what the characters are going to do about their problems. I am going back into the world of imagination, wish me luck.

What Snowflakes Need


Like many people my age, I am flat out confused by the younger generation’s determination to paint all things traditionally American as evil. Since I have been bed bound for the past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to think, and I may have found a partial answer to the problem.

People of my generation, the much touted “Baby Boomers” were raised by men and women who were from the greatest generation ever put on this planet. They are the WWII, Korean, and Viet Nam veterans. They were the men and women who faced the greatest evil of all time, followed by those who faced down communism on two battle fields to keep innocent people from being murdered and imprisoned. If President Johnson and his cadre of criminals hadn’t been such cowards, we would have wiped out the Viet Cong and saved millions from the killing fields. But I digress.

Our parents were stalwart, hardworking, patriotic, American citizens who believed in the American dream. Some were first generation Americans whose parents immigrated to give them a better life. Some, like my family, has been in America since the earliest days of European occupation. Some came from generations of American Indians who lived here since the beginning of human occupation. What all these people had in common was an understanding of what it meant to be an American. Immigrants came here to become Americans, to leave behind the ills of their native land, bringing their customs and creativity to add to the melting pot that is and always will be unique to our great country.

Those men and women of my parent’s generation and the generations before them were not afraid of hard work and sacrifice for the good of their family and their community. It didn’t matter where you came from, it mattered where you were going and how you planned to get there. After WWII, the survivors came back with the horrors of war written into their minds and hearts, but they tried to move forward and leave it in the past. The faced the nightmares, worries, and fear with their usual determination to overcome the evil and make their lives worth living.

They taught us to be strong, to think things through, to work hard, to overcome adversity without whining and feeling sorry for ourselves, and to have pride in our country and all that she stood for. We believed in the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. In my generation that included all people, no matter color, religion, creed, or code. We are all Americans, those who are citizens and here legally. We stood tall, and we believed in the very freedoms that make the United States of America a one of a kind country.

Because we were raised by the great generation, there were certain boundaries we didn’t cross. We didn’t insult our flag, our military men and women, or out elders who built all that we could use to build our lives. We gave thanks for the good, and tried to eliminate the bad. We went to church, we believed in Christianity, and welcomed those with other beliefs, at least most of us did. We wanted to be like our parents and grandparents. We wanted to stand side by side with those who fought for our freedom, and we wanted to teach our children to appreciate the same things.

Some of us failed, some of us were successful, and it is easy to see who was which by looking at the behavior of their progeny today. Those that failed have snowflake, fearful, perpetually offended, petulant children who at the age of thirty are still as immature as most teenagers under sixteen. They wear their anger and hostility toward American values like a badge of honor or trophy for participation. They aren’t winners at anything because winning is evil and bad since that means someone has to lose. Their parents encouraged the little darlings to believe they were perfect in all things and no one has the right to tell them no. In short, they haven’t learned how to be adults, and at this rate probably never will.

Those that didn’t fail have kids who left home, got a job, went to school for a career and made one for themselves, got married, had kids of their own, and stand for the same values as the greatest generation. Family, Country, God, and Community. They value our history, Constitution, and freedoms as all Americans have from the beginning. In short, the successful parents have successful kids who will pass on the same values to their children and grandchildren.

Granted, before everyone gets on the hate wagon, America hasn’t been perfect. But most people have to go back two or more generations to find issues to whine about. Since the 1960’s all people, black, Hispanic, white, or green with purple polka dots, are equal and have equal OPPORTUNITY to be as successful as they want to be. Some get it easier with affirmative action than others, but the opportunity is still there for all. Today’s big whine is that illegals should be allowed in no matter what. Tell that to the generations who sacrificed all to get into this country legally. Their answer will be simple, “Get in line and wait your turn.” They did.

This country, like most who want a Republic instead of any other form of government, has had its growing pains. We have been up and down financially. We have had growing pains in expansion and overcoming wars and rumors of war. But we have always come out on top because of the values and ideals of the American dream of independence, core values, and the strength of the men and women who came before us.

I believe that every single snowflake generation child should have to sit down with a person of the great generation, especially Holocaust survivors, and listen to their stories. My mother grew up in a one room cabin, with no running water and bare minimum electricity in rural Oklahoma in the 1930’s and 1940’s. My Dad grew up on an Indian Reservation in Arizona for most of his life. Both were from dirt poor families. Today, my dad is gone, but my mother lives alone on a 40 acre farm in Oklahoma. She is made of tougher stuff than most of us are, and she will go on doing what she wants for as long as she can. Ask most of the people her age if they want help and they will tell you no in no uncertain terms.

So many snowflake kids today haven’t a clue what hardship truly is. For them losing the charger to their phone is catastrophic. I so want to put them out on a farm in the middle of no where with no amenities and see how long they last. I have a standing bet that it will be less than 48 hours. What the snowflakes need is a lesson in reality. There are millions of young men and women their age who know that reality is hard work and learning to adapt and overcome the bad in life instead of whining about it. Many are in the military, many are police officers and other first responders, many are teachers and business owners, many are blue collar workers, and some are even rich kids whose parents made them earn what they got. Oh, and no more participation trophies, either you win one or you learn how to cope with losing.

We need the snowflake kids to learn from the greatest generation and their children before they are all gone. Time is short, take advantage of the knowledge they have before it is lost in the history of the whiners and moaners. Either learn from them or learn the hard way that life is not given to you to fritter away in self adoration, it is given to you as a test to see if you are made from the right stuff. Most snowflakes don’t even know what that means. Sad.

Childhood Memory


One winter, when I was about six years old, every kid in my family came down with a series of diseases. Measles, followed by chicken pox, followed by mumps. For three months my mother was stuck in the house with four little girls covered by some sort of bumps and dealing with a fever. We were hot, itchy, cooped up, and miserable. We all fell ill, like dominoes, one after the other. How my mother kept her sanity is beyond me. And to make things even more stressful, my dad was out in the field with the US Army and we were stationed in Germany with no family to help. I don’t remember a lot about that winter, except for one shining moment.

I got well first. I cannot tell you how great it was to not itch, and to be able to go outside. For Christmas, my older sister and I got our first bicycles. We were too sick to ride them for weeks after Christmas. I got to ride my bike before my sister got to be outdoors. I remember riding it up and down the sidewalk outside our flat, looking up at the third floor window where my sisters all stood watching me. As the second child, I rarely got to do anything first. I was chuffed beyond words. All three stood scowling at me, and I have to admit I was feeling pretty cocky that I was out and they were still in itchy hell. I was six, give me a break and don’t judge. As an adult, I know it was cheeky and rude, but as a child, I just felt empowered.

It wasn’t long before all four of us were well and back to running in and out of the house like we usually did. The memories of being miserable faded, and my special moment did too. We were finally back in school, and I know my mother was happy beyond words to have survived the winter of illness. Spring came and we were outside more than inside the house. In fact, we didn’t want to be indoors if we could avoid it. With spring came our usual battles with the Jones kids. We hated the Jones kids, they were bullies and meaner than a ticked off snake. Debra was the only girl, and she decided she was going to make my little sister’s life hell. Her closest sibling was Billy, he was twelve, my older sister was seven, and I was six. It was our job to look after the two younger girls. Billy would pick on us every time his sister started being rude or hateful and we put her in her place. I have always been, and will always be, a sarcastic smart mouth.

One afternoon on the playground, I got into it with Debra again. Billy started in on my sister, and I jumped in with a bowling pin. I have no idea where the wooden pin came from, but it was perfect to beat the snot out of Billy. So I set to, and he went home to whine to his mother. About that time, my mother turned up on the playground, (my next younger sister was always a tattle tale) to see what was going on. Mrs. Jones started shouting out her window at my mother. Mrs. Jones was probably close to six feet tall and weighed in at well over 200 pounds. My mother was five feet four inches tall and weighed about 110 pounds. Mom told Mrs. Jones that if she wanted a fight to get her fat @$$ down stairs and she would be happy to oblige her. She wouldn’t come down, and Mom was more than ready to go up and drag her out by her hair. But the other moms got her to calm down. No one insulted her girls. Now you know where I get my bad attitude and willingness to take on anyone. My sister and I got a reputation for fighting. Most people left us alone, except for the Jones brats and a girl called Rita.

Rita was bigger than my sister and I, since we tended to be on the shrimpy side. One day walking home from school she ambushed us. It wasn’t a long fight, my sister pretty much ended it before it got started, darn it. Rita’s problem was her dirty mouth and the way she thought she could talk to anyone that way. In our family, if we had sworn like that, my mother would have made us eat a bar of soap. The problem was that we wouldn’t put up with it from anyone else either. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well when my parents found out we had been fighting again. We followed the house rule of never starting a fight, but we sure as hell finished one. I guess my attitude was built into my genes. My dad and mother were scrappers in school, my sons were also willing to take on a fight anytime, and at least one of my grandchildren is a scrapper too. Thinking back on those days it is a wonder my dad didn’t get into trouble due to our fighting. Of course, one look at my tiny sister and the almost as tiny me, and every boy we fought with had a very embarrassed Dad since two skinny girls beat the stuffing out of their big brave boy.

I fought less as I grew older, but the years between six and eight were the banner years for my hot temper. I learned to control it better, but I never managed to curb the smart mouth and sarcastic comments that fell out of it regularly. Looking back, I was a bit of a bad ass. It tends to make me smile when I think back on those days.

Your Attitude Makes or Breaks the Vacation.


While on the cruise recently, I was amazed at the number of children on board. Over seven hundred in all. They came in ages from tiny babies (Why anyone would do that is beyond me) to teenagers. The thing I found interesting, is that with all those kids, there were very few meltdown tantrums among them. Generally, when kids get over tired, over stimulated, out of their normal routine, or in a strange place, tantrums, tears, meltdowns, and stubborn acting out ensues among them. We didn’t see that in the smallest kids, nor in the kids between five and twelve. However, teenagers of all ages and adults were absolutely invested in tantrums and meltdowns from the first moment we were at sea.

Couples were arguing with each other, parents were telling off children for no apparent reason, and teenagers, well, you know teenagers, everything that wasn’t on their phone or tablet was a reason for meltdowns and irritation. Shocking. Annoying. Hilarious. Immature. Generally undeserved by the person whom the tantrum was directed at and embarrassing to watch an adult act like a tired two year old on too much sugar. I don’t get it, really, I thought a family vacation was supposed to be relaxing and fun. Apparently not for anyone between thirteen and fifty, according to the melt down count down.

I expected frowny faces and bad attitudes in children, but it was the parents who had the, “I hate the world” faces. Unless, of course, they were eating, drinking alcohol, or hanging out in the smoking areas. It was easy to tell that most of the parents couldn’t wait for the Kid’s Clubs to open so they could park their progeny there until meal times and escape to do adult stuff. Teenagers clumped together in pools of dissatisfied texting groups as long as they had access to the ship’s texting program, and when they didn’t they sat in glum silence playing games on their phones, ignoring the swimming pools, mini golf, and other activities available for them from dawn to dusk. It was as if they wanted to be bored and dissatisfied with everything. I don’t get that either.

We had a great time from playing with Addie in the pools to mini golf, to talking to the server in the buffet room who chatted with us about Philippine food for a good half hour. Addie loved the Kid’s Club, and while she was making friends there, we had a good time relaxing and wandering around the ship. We laughed a lot, held hands, teased each other, chatted with other passengers, and simply allowed ourselves to enjoy the moment. When the three of us were together, it was clear that I was the odd one out since Addie is in the “I Adore My Papa” stage of her life, so I read a book and let them rush about doing things like water slides and such. And the bonus was that Addie didn’t have one single moment dedicated to being in a rotten mood. She was dog tired by bedtime, but there were no complaints. She would climb into her top bunk, roll over and go to sleep in moments. She did get up one night to go have pizza and ice cream in the “middle of the night” around ten p.m. She got a huge kick out of that. Even after pizza and ice cream, she climbed right back into bed and went to sleep in five minutes.

Meanwhile, every time we took her to the Kid’s Club, there would be a parent there ranting about something, embarrassing their child who couldn’t wait to escape mom or dad and go play somewhere stress free. The last time we picked Addie up, the ladies who worked in the Club gave us a note telling us how much they enjoyed time with Addie. She was polite, kind, sharing, and friendly to everyone and she was very respectful to the adults working in the Club. Everywhere we engaged with crew, they always complimented us on Addie’s behavior. Our server in the restaurant made her origami dinosaurs and the steward for our room went out of his way to make her adorable towel animals on the bed everyday. I know they must miss their children terribly since they are at sea for nine months at a time. Addie was unfailingly polite to all the adults with whom she interacted. We raised her to be polite and kind, and to always use her manners. The rest is all her doing.

I am not saying she was the best kid, there were lots of kids who were good. There were also rude and mouthy kids who talked back to adults, didn’t listen to the crew when they were told not to do something or to do something, and who ran wild because their parents didn’t care what they did as long as they didn’t bother them or get into trouble with the crew who would then bother them. That I really don’t get. As a parent, grandparent or guardian, I want to know what my kid is up to every second of the day. They don’t have to be under my feet, and I don’t hover, but I keep an eye on them. It is very easy to injure themselves on a ship filled with stairs, heavy doors, and over three thousand people on board.

I suppose people brought their daily issues to the ship with them. We try to leave all that on the shore and have a new and exciting experience. This was Addie’s first cruse, we wanted it to be positive, fun, and something she would want to do again. I guess we did it right. She can’t wait to go on another one as soon as possible. As for the grumpy folks who turned their holiday into a whine fest, I’m sorry they were such a miserable group. They missed an opportunity to have a great time. Especially the teenagers who were determined to hate everything from not having internet connections to having to be around their parents and siblings for more than five minutes a day. Oh well, what goes around comes around. Next time they want to have a good holiday, Mom and Dad have an excuse to make it as miserable as they possibly can just because they want to.

Meanwhile, the Combs Family will be the three people trying to catch the wind while walking on the deck or eating ice cream and pizza at ten at night just because we can.