Saturday, December 14, 2019

Boring millionaire or brilliant starving artist

If you had to, would you marry a boring millionaire or a brilliant, starving musician?  This topic came up over Thanksgiving with my parents.  We all wrote our answers, along with a reason why, then mixed up the responses and read them aloud.  I—of course—picked the brilliant, starving artist.  It’s not that I hate money, I’m just not good with boredom.

My parents, to my surprise, both picked the boring millionaire.  I waited in anticipation, already knowing that my husband and our daughters would probably pick the brilliant, starving artist.  My 11-year-old son adversely wrote: “I pick the boring millionaire girl, so I be havin’ money.”

I honestly couldn’t believe anyone would pick the millionaire. There’s something romantic about marrying someone for nothing more than their intellect and a love which empowers a belief they’ll do something great someday.  What’s romantic about a million dollars?

On Monday morning I still thought about this, so I asked my staff which option they would pick.  Surprisingly all of the employees who have been divorced said they’d choose the boring millionaire. “I’ve already married for love,” one said. “Now it’s time to marry for money.” The rest of us in the office (who are each married) picked the starving artist.

I had more responses, but apparently, I’m part-journalist, part-blood hound—and if there’s an answer I’ll find it! So, at a recent doctor’s appointment, I posed this question to the random people in the waiting room.  (Well, we were just sitting there anyway.)

“I’d pick the boring millionaire,” one person said to me.  “Because that’s who I think I am. And if my wife would stop watching Hallmark movies we’d be a lot better off.”  He stared off for a moment. “Do these men on Hallmark movies even have jobs?  She made me watch a couple of them with her. One was a prince. Another one apparently cuts down Christmas trees in a tree lot?  I just can’t compete with this Hallmark stuff!”  I tried not to laugh because he’d actually said it quite comically even though he was serious. “In real life did you pick the starving artist?” he suddenly asked me.
“Oh, me? Well, I guess I sort of did.”

“And you’re happy?” the millionaire asked.

“So happy.” I grinned even though I waited for my annual exam—and the only thing I hate more is tuna casserole.

“He must be a great guy,” the millionaire said.

“He’s the kindest person I’ve even known.  And he cooks!”

Another woman, who heard the conversation piped in.  She said she was recently divorced, but didn’t mind talking about it.  Her eyes got a bit starry and she glowed beautifully as she spoke. “I would pick the starving artist again.  Maybe I’ll pick the right one next time.”

“Most people are picking the millionaire.”

“I bet a lot of people who read the paper are older,” a lady said. “I’m in my 70s and I read it!  The truth is that once you hit a certain age you don’t care about love. You just want the money.”

I blinked, trying to think of a way to respond, but then I got called back to my exam.  I waved goodbye to all of my new friends and followed the nurse—who later said she’d pick the starving artist.

Anyway, I love asking people questions like this, as a way to learn something about them. I am surprised so many people picked the millionaire. But like my dad said, maybe with that much money you can teach them how to have fun?  What would you pick? 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Kissed on the shoulder

He stared at me from across the way. I sat peddling newspapers, excited for people to read about the news we’d recently unearthed. He paced back and forth, just watching.

I guess I must have looked thoughtfully at him at one point because he returned the action. Sometimes I wonder if people with down syndrome can be like that, simply honest and unassuming.
As the day continued, he kept glancing over and I really wondered what he was thinking.  The man must have been in his early twenties and obviously seemed to be pondering something.

My thoughts suddenly turned to my son who died.  He’d had birth defects and the doctors throughout he was mentally handicapped. They kept saying that if he ended up growing to be an adult, he wouldn’t have a good quality of life.

There was a part of me that wondered if they’d been right. He died from health complications, but I’ve always wondered what he really would have been like, as an adult.

At first they thought he’d have down syndrome, then trisomy.  They performed  all sorts of tests before he was born and afterward, when nurses cared from him in the NICU; experts studied all sorts of tests there too.

Anyway, I thought of all of this as the man with down syndrome watched me at the fair. If my boy would have been mentally slow, what would that have been like?

I’m normally so happy, and I’m not totally sure why but I suddenly descended into such a sadness as I sat there that I almost started crying.

I just wished for a second that I could feel the arms of God wrap around me and just take the pain surrounding sickness and death.  It seems like when my son died he left a hole that will never be filled – not unless I can somehow be surrounded by God’s love, just to know that He has a plan.
Suddenly, when I’d gotten to the very worst of this feeling, the man with down syndrome gracefully zig-zagged toward me.

“I like you,” he said. “I just do.”

“Well, thank you.”  I blinked, and then brightened, for his sake. “And, I like you!”

“Hug?” he looked down and kicked a rock by his shoe.

“Ummm. Sure.”  So I held out my arms extremely wide and he placed his head softly on my shoulder as I hugged him. I swear that somehow it felt like the presence of God surrounded both of us, wrapping us in this crazy-strong warmth.

He kissed my shoulder lightly before walking away. As he was about to round the corner, he yelled back, “I love you, k!”

Tears filled my eyes, not because I was sad, but because I’d witnessed something amazing.

“Thank you for that,” his caregiver quickly said.

“He’s pretty special isn’t he?”

“Yeah, he really is.”

Friday, March 29, 2019

Abortion...a personal experience

I recently had the privilege of watching the movie “Unplanned,” the story of Abby Johnson who was the youngest director (in history) of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Before getting into my opinion and experience, which I’m sure will offend someone (unfortunately), I would like to state that I watched this at Blackfoot’s Movie Mill, which is absolutely gorgeous and has great popcorn – even if the content of this particular movie made me lose my appetite quite quickly.

Basically, the movie details the experience of a woman who worked in an abortion clinic. My stomach clenched in knots for over half of the movie, partially because of my own experiences and also from seeing the completely believable emotions of the people on-screen. Although this did have the feel of a cross between a Christian and (almost) Hallmark movie at times, I did find it quite compelling despite the aforementioned details. In short: this is not a movie people will easily forget.
One scene in particular stuck with me, where a family pleads with a woman, begging her to not have an abortion; watch the movie and you’ll know which scene I’m referring to. I literally felt the pain in my own heart, just listening to their words.

I’ll admit, I was terrified to watch this since I’ve experienced the death of a child, who died at two-and-a-half months at Primary Children’s Hospital. 

This might not make sense to other people, but subjects like this – especially movies – sometimes bring back memories I’m not always strong enough to face.

My experience

I got pregnant at 18. It wasn’t glamorous. I’d actually broken up with the man before it happened. I still remember the night I got pregnant because I’d been drinking. Later, the guy had no idea I was pregnant and I had no intention of telling him.

I still remember going to the doctor and the first thing they said was, “You can have an abortion.”
It’s scary being pregnant that young and single, feeling completely alone. Plus, I’d heard about childbirth and that didn’t sound like something I ever wanted to sign up for. But that was something completely different. It brought me to this dark place, somewhere beyond scary. They urged me to do what was best for myself, calling my baby a  “fetus.” 

It was scary being pregnant so young, embarrassing too. For some reason the doctor’s words terrified me more than childbirth, embarrassment and even stretch-marks. 

I looked at them and said slowly, “I’m old enough to have sex, I’m old enough to deal with the consequences.”

I got a job at a bowling alley. Imagine my surprise when my ex showed up and asked me to marry him.

Like I wrote before, it isn’t a glamorous story, but it’s what happened. Working pregnant, unmarried at a bowling alley, now that’s what dreams are made of.

Fast forward to a time when I was pregnant with our second child. I had a feeling something was wrong and I put the ultrasound off for longer than normal. 

After the ultrasound, I got a call from the doctor. The thing is, when a doctor calls you at home, it’s not a good call.

I listened to his vinegar words and felt my body nearly crumbling beneath me as I learned that my baby had birth defects and would probably die.

I had an amniocentesis after that, to test my baby for trisomy. The whole time the doctor called my baby a fetus like he wasn’t real. I heard the word “viable” too. Viable and fetus were practically joined at the hip for that doctor.

Family members urged me to think about an abortion. The doctor said I was young, but that I needed to think beyond my years, think about the child I already had and how a sibling with birth defects could affect her. 

I refused to have an abortion. It’s difficult when people you love and doctors try pressuring you into having an abortion.

I had a dream that I gave birth to a fish. Worries plagued me. 

My son was born and although he didn’t live a long life, he impacted me more than anyone.
The day I finally got to hold him, I remember how he held my finger with his tiny hand. He had the softest hair and this amazing strength to him. He snuggled into me, with so much love.  I knew then that even if he died nothing could break our bond, not regret or pain, not even death. 

I had to take him off of life support, making a choice no mother should ever have to make. When he suffocated in my arms, I wished I could die too.... We’d given him every chance to live, and it still wasn’t enough. Yet, for the time I had to fall in love with my see his beautiful eyes and feel the love of holding him in my arms. I would never trade that...for anything.

And now as I think about abortion and remember the two times I was urged to make that choice, I’m so grateful I didn’t. My first baby is now 17 and one of the most amazing people I know. I hugged her the other day after she looked at different colleges.

“You know, you and God got me through when your brother died. You’ve been my strength through everything. I became stronger, for you.”

She gave me a huge hug and I held her so tight. “I’m glad you’re my mom,” she finally said.
“I’m so glad, too,” I replied, and even though I didn’t mean to, I cried