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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Power In Numbers

Man you guys are the shit! I am amazed at how many well wishes I've received from all of you "strangers". This little old blog got 46 comments and my e-mail inbox was practically full with 75 e-mails. I also got flowers from some of my very bestest online peeps. I am completely blown away by the kindness of so many people I've never met. Thank you all very much for making this very difficult time a little less painful for me.


My brother who lives in Las Vegas didn't make it home before our dad passed away Wednesday because he is in the military and had to await orders. In a way, I look at it as a blessing. Forever, he will have his final memories of our dad in a happy healthy state.

Thursday night, when my brother got into town, we all gathered at my parent's house. We sat around remembering our dad in a way, I think he would have approved. We sang as my brother Jimmy played the guitar. Of course most of us were off key and the rest of us didn't know the words but I have no doubt our dad was there looking down on us thinking, "What the hell did those kids do with the money I gave them for singing lessons?"

They say there is power in numbers and apparently our parents never had any hobbies because they had eight children. Power indeed! I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am for all of the power I felt sitting there with my mom and siblings.

Learning to cope with so many heartbreaking feelings couldn't happen without the precious time we shared that night. Knowing Dad isn't going to be there anymore, I can't help but have a heavy heart, but that night, for the first time since his diagnosis in July, my heart felt free. We celebrated life the way he taught us, through love and laughter.

There were tears too but only because we wanted more. Maybe it's selfish to want more from a man who really gave his everything, but my dad was always quick to let me know I was spoiled rotten, so I guess even he expected this behavior.

Seeing him struggle in the last weeks of his life may have been the worst thing I've ever witnessed. At the same time, there was this amazing beauty involved. He brought our family back together. While he was so sick, we worked as a team for him, to make him comfortable, the way he always did for us.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Loss For Words

I’ve been staring at my blinking cursor for an hour. The words just don’t seem to form themselves. In my mind I hear his voice, “Lois, you’ve never been at a loss for words. Get on with the story. And since it’s about me, make it a good one!”

Yesterday my dad lost the fight of his life. The cancer won. His wife, daughters, a couple of his grandchildren, a priest and a hospice nurse surrounded him as he took his last breaths.

The pain of not being able to see him anymore, knows no words. He has always been the person who understood me best and loved me under any and all circumstances. He lived his life to make the people around him happy and was able to leave an everlasting impression, which I feel truly blessed to have seen and felt firsthand.

Over the past few months, I’ve heard a lot of stories about my father. Two things every story had in common, no matter who was telling it was his sense of humor knew no bounds and neither did his love.

When I am feeling a little more like me, I’ll share some of those stories with the readers here, and I promise to make them good ones. Until then, I’m going to take a few days off.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

How Was Your Day?

Meanest Mom In The Whole Wide World Strikes Again And Again
Just ask my kids how mean I am and they will fight to share their stories. This morning, I did it again. Same fight, both kids. It seems that once a child reaches a certain age, they no longer want to wear coats outside. I guess warmth equals uncool. They both protested by telling me they were wearing sweatshirts over their t-shirts, which I could clearly see. It was 14 degrees (Fahrenheit) this morning when we left the house. What is wrong with these children? Maybe tomorrow rather than driving them to school, I'll just have the short bus pick them up. Yes, I won another fight.

Lane 1 also fought with me about eating breakfast today. He is so skinny and is growing tall so fast, he needs to eat. (Maybe a full belly equals uncool too.) So Meanest Mom strikes a second time in one morning by forcing the child to eat a piece of toast, a cup of yogurt and a handful of grapes. Score two for Mom! And just think, the day is young!

Grace Of A Newborn Giraffe
Lane 1 is going on a fieldtrip today to the ice rink. He asked me if I could chaperone the trip but I had to tell him no. Most of the time I comply. I actually like fieldtrips. Today I am at my parent's house and won't be back until the kids are out of school, which means, "Sorry kid, I just can't."

"Mom, is this about the last time we went rollerblading? I promise not to make fun of your wobbly giraffey legs. I swear!"

Score one for the little turd.

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
Unless you look like the after photo. Lane 2 caught me in a hurry this morning. I was "trying" to get ready fast and thought, "What the hell, I'll throw on a ball-cap, (more on the phrase ball-cap another day) some sweats, a t-shirt and my coat. As I opened the front door, knowing I looked like crap, but not really caring, I saw the sun. For the first time in weeks it shone brightly, blinding-bright. I found my shades in my purse, put them on. Lane 2 said in the sweetest little voice, "Mommy, you look like Britney Spears."

Folks, I don't have blonde hair, wasn't wearing makeup or a belly shirt and flares, so my guess is that she meant I look like the trashy new Britney. The after photo, if you will. Great!

Score one for the little witch.

He Is The Cat's Ass
Besides the squeaky farts, Guido The Killer Cat From Hell makes with his furry butt trumpet, he is also able to entertain my children with his steal Mom's chair thing he does so well. It doesn't matter if I am sitting in the kitchen, living room or on the toilet, this cat wants to sit wherever my warm ass has been. The kids think this is hysterical because it's a game both of them used to play with me when they were smaller. Sometimes Guido sits on my lap, other times, he just waits for me to get up and then claims whatever throne. I have my favorite places to sit in my house, I think everyone does. Maybe this is Guido's way of trying to let me know who is in charge. Whatever the case, he is in my very favorite chair that I wish I were in right now.

Score one for Old Farty Cat.

Searching For Skullet
For the person who keeps Googling "what is a skullet" and keeps finding this blog, take the time to read the dagnam post, sheesh! Check in the italicized print at the bottom of the post, it's there, you have to READ.

For the rest of you, what is the oddest or dirtiest thing someone has searched for and "found" your blog? If you like reading about items searched and found on blogs, see Buster's blog, he posts about this every Tuesday. And let me tell ya, he gets some major freaks!

Share And Share Alike
I told you all about my day. Now it's your turn. Leave me a nice long comment or send me an e-mail and tell me about your day. I know Blogger comments has been fighting with some people lately. E-mail your comments if you have trouble and I'll post them later. I'm starting to think Haloscan may be the way to go. If your day sucked, sorry. Just think, the weekend is almost here!

I am going back to my parent's house tomorrow morning and will be there until Monday evening. I don't imagine I'll be posting until I get back or maybe on Tuesday. While I am away, see Hissyfit, my buddy Veronica needs good vibes, please send her some love and while you are there, checkout her amazing artwork. Stop by Broken Roads to read Becka's silliness. She was the Odd Todd Blogger Of The Week. Also, see Bloomin' Onionhead because he finished his seven-part Build-A-Bear story and it is incredibly funny. Don't forget to leave comments for these two funny bloggers. Speaking of funny, did you all watch the latest segment of the Fruitcake Lady? Very funny stuff. Please continue sending in your thoughts about lifelong relationships and marriage. Thanks to those of you who have already sent them via e-mail to Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Old Farty Cat

Bloomin' Onionhead came up with the title for this story. So go yell at him if the thought grosses you out. You can all thank me later, as I will NOT being adding a sound byte via audio post to this story.

Now, on with the show... my folks have to move to an apartment next month. At the new place they can only have one animal. Before talks of the move came up, they had five cats and one dog.

My parents both favor the dog over any and all of the cats, except for one, Guido. That's right, my family has a cat named Guido. His full name, Guido The Killer Cat From Hell.

Back in the day, Guido was a sleek, small, white kitten, who was given his name in honor of all the Italian men in our neighborhood, who we called the Guidos.

He chased any rodent that even thought about coming into my parent's house. He was fast and even came equipped with a little gray racing stripe of fur, down the center of his head.

He was the first cat we actually picked out and brought home, unlike all of the cats that were dragged in by children like me who "found" them or traded some silly neighbor kid a kitten for a Twinkie. (See Guilt Of A Girl in my January archives.)

My parents had trouble making their choice but the truth of the matter is, Guido probably won't be with us much longer. He is 17 years old. No, it's okay, keep reading. This is nothing to be sad about.

This cat has been treated like a kitty king his whole life. Granted, his gray stripe of fur has turned white. His coat has lost its shimmer and as much as this cat eats (he loves people food more than cat food) he has lost a bunch of weight. He used to be a 40 pound cat and now he might be around 12 pounds. He is long and very bony. (He is 31 inches when he stands on his back legs. Yes, Lane 1 and I measured him. This is one long ass cat!)

For the most part, he acts more like a dog. When you call his name, he comes. When you tap your leg while sitting, he hops up onto your lap. When you say "sit", he sits.

True, sometimes he has no manners, "DOWN! Cats do not belong on the kitchen table, bad boy!" Yes, I really lecture a cat but down he jumps.

At any rate, I still lived at home when he came to live with us and I got very attached, which means, you guessed it, he came to live here. When I moved into my first apartment, I missed the cat more than my parents. (Just don't let them know I said that!)

I can't make fun of the old fart too much because he has provided my family members with lots of joy over the years. One memory I have of him was when my nephew was being potty trained. Everyone thought he pooped and forgot to wipe and flush, until, my mom caught Guido squatting on the toilet a couple of days later. No, he never learned to wipe or flush, and after falling in a few times over the years, he went back to the litter box. But seriously, how cool is that? He taught himself how to use the toilet.

Guido is a great cat and always has been but there's one tiny disgusting thing he does that makes me laugh until I have tears in my eyes. He farts. Loudly. High-pitched, squeaky, old cat ass farts. I know that is terribly gross, but funny as hell.

Last night Guido was playing his furry butt trumpet and I told Lane 1 to check the cat's ass to make sure he didn't have a whistle stuck in there. But again, I'll spare you the audio.

Please don't forget to e-mail me your thoughts about marriage. I look forward to everyone's opinion. Send to and thanks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What Is Going On Inside Of That Pretty Little Head?

My wheels have been cranking so fast lately, I think I smell smoke. (Looks in mirror.) Holy crap! Where there's smoke, there's a fire. Quick, someone get me a hose! (haha! And make sure it's attached to a HOT fireman!)

Love And Marriage:
I was talking to a friend of mine about relationships and marriage. We were trying to figure out if people are really meant to be partners for life. Think about it for a while and drop me a line with your thoughts in the comments or e-mail. There will be another post about this at a later date. If you don't want your "name" used, please indicate so in the e-mail. Thanks in advance for your cooperation. (That sounds professional, doesn't it?!)

Left Behind:
Besides my dad having a terminal illness, things aren't going terrible. He is finally home and happy about it. He was in the hospital for two weeks. In that time, he mostly slept. I think he may have been over medicated because something good snapped when he came home.

After laying in a hospital for two weeks, waking only long enough to be spoon fed a couple slurps of soup here and there, and speaking only short phrases, most of which made little sense, he is actually doing pretty well. He is feeding himself, drinking on his own, talking, joking, laughing, singing and knows who everyone is.

Did any of you see the 1990 movie, Awakenings with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams? This homecoming was just that for my dad.

Because he was doing so poorly in the hospital (kidneys were shutting down, circulation was slowing, heart rate and blood pressure both dropped dangerously low) and the doctors couldn't do anything else for him, they called hospice to help with his "end of life care" at home. It was a hard pill to swallow. Nobody wants to lose someone they love but being able to except the inevitable and then witnessing this awakening, beats the hell out of losing him suddenly. Granted, there is no good way to go, but knowing he will leave this place and neither of us will have any wouldas, or shouldas, and certainly no couldas, makes the acceptance part much easier.

Without his recent awakening, I am sure he never doubted my love, but there's just so many other things to ask and say. Maybe it's the reporter in me. Whatever the case, I am at peace. Sad, but at peace.

Dream Weaver:
This afternoon I was at my parent's house. I sat on the couch and within seconds was sleeping. (Yeah, I know. My mom told me how helpful I was too! Shut up! I slept for less than 20 minutes.)

Okay, so I had a power nap. Normally, these things don't work for me. If I can't have three good solid hours, I just would rather not sleep. The last time I checked on my dad, he asked what time it was.

"It's 12:59, Dad. Are you thirsty?"
"A little. Mostly tired."
I gave him a sip of water, kisses to his forehead asked if he needed anything else and said, "Sleep well."

I sat on the couch, holding the speaker end of the monitor we set up in his bedroom and I was out. Down for the count. Fast asleep. Dreaming. Weird fast dreams.

I never knew how fast dreams take place in my mind. I assumed they played out slowly, like life. I could see faces and hear voices. But I went from one dream right into another, like I was watching a movie marathon.

Most of my dreams were about normal everyday stuff. Not the last one. It woke me, startled me and caused me to not only jump out of my skin, but run to my father's room to check that he was okay.

I've had the "falling" dream, which I think almost everyone has experienced. This one was different. I was at a family party. It was loud, had lots of people, all of whom I knew, and in my dream, I felt the beginning of the falling dream. It quickly turned into the feeling your tummy gets in an elevator, except much more intense. Have any of you been to Six Flags and gone on the Giant Drop or at Disney, the Hollywood Tower Of Terror?

I felt my head hit the top and in mid drop, my eyes popped open. I ran into my father's bedroom. He was okay. I felt like I was going to vomit! I called my kid's school. I know how terribly stupid this is now but had to know. I called Mr. Lane, who is out of town driving an 18-wheeler. He was okay. I felt like I was going to cry. I just had such a terrible feeling at 1:20 this afternoon. I was certain someone I cared about was not okay.

As of now, everyone is okay. I mean, I think they are.

Rollcall... Skullet Biker Dude, Inanna, Celti, Buster, Ginny, Jack, Michelle, Deni, Magz, Bryan, Lady Wyntir, Roxy, Aimee, Ryan, whitey, Becka, Bloomin' Onionhead, Aurora, Betty, Snave, Virgil, Charlie, Restless Angel, Veronica, Seven, Julie, Iki, El Sid, Jeanette, Erik, Katey, Trashman, Chica, Woody, Michael, Jade, Lizabeth, Kim, and all of you non-comment leaving readers.

Now, who here wants to tell me what the hell that was all about?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Seven Wonders

First time here? Scroll down for part one, two, three, four, five and six. Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Thanks for hanging in there and thank you all for the comments! I didn't respond to them because I was worried I might give something away before its time. Without further ado, here is chapter seven, the conclusion.

Mending a broken stomach with a new love was the only way to go at the age of five. Michael Powells was a good boy and I knew he really liked me. I was taken aback by his feelings because I had been so wrapped up in mine for John Anthony.

As I exited the bus I said, "Yes. I will be your partner in line tomorrow." and we smiled at each other.

When I told my mom and dad what happened, I could tell they were upset. They tried to tell me Michael sounded like a nicer boy and not to worry about stupid John Anthony. That night I had trouble sleeping. I thought about John Anthony and the hurtful word "no". I stared at my ceiling for what seemed like hours and I cried until my ears filled up with tears. I wanted my insides to be all fluttery about Michael but they weren't.

The next day at school, Michael was especially smiley. Every time we lined up, he made sure we were side-by-side. We even held hands when we weren't told to and I liked that. I especially liked how his fingers interlocked perfectly with mine.

Everyday for the rest of the year, Michael and I were partners in line and sat together on the bus going home. I never got as fluttery as I hoped with Michael but the flutters eventually subsided for John Anthony.

After kindergarten graduation Michael moved away. I never saw him again.

By third grade, John Anthony was just another boy. All of my flutters were long gone.

My family moved away when I was in fourth grade. I never thought I would see John Anthony again. His name always came up in conversation at home. If I said a boy was cute, my father quickly reminded me about John Anthony and my broken stomach. I think that was his way of trying to keep me from dating, ever.

When I turned sixteen and was allowed to really date someone, I was thrilled. But damn it if during my sweet 16 party my dad didn't go and tell all of my friends about John Anthony. He told my girlfriends to keep me safe of "stomachbrokeness".

One night all of my girlfriends and I piled into a car so we could watch the high school boys play basketball. I went to a public high school in Franklin Park, Illinois. Our team was playing a parochial team from Elmwood Park.

We took our seats in the bleachers just as the teams were taking the court. Across the gym floor, standing 5' 3" and weighing in at about 165 pounds, was John Anthony.

"OH MY GOD!" My hands started to shake. My insides got hot. My stomach dropped down to my feet.
"What's wrong Lois?"
"You see number 12?"

I was on the brink of vomiting. My hands got sweaty and I couldn't take my eyes off of him long enough to answer my friend.

He must have felt my eyeballs piercing though his fat little body because he looked right at me, as if to say, "Hey, I know you."

As the game started, I explained to my friends that he was the boy my father told them about. My first love. My kindergarten crush. The first boy to break my stomach. They were amazed that I ever thought he was adorable. Come to think of it, so was I.

When the game ended he walked over to me. He asked me if I was "Lois Lang".
I laughed and said, "LaNe".
"Didn't you go to school at St. Whack 'Em On The Knuckles?"
"Wow, you are tall. You were always really tall, weren't you?"
"So, how have you been?"
"Great! You?"
"Good, really good. Is this your school now?"
"Man, we used to have some good times, why'd you move away?"
"I don't remember many good times. We moved for my dad's job."
"What good times do you remember, John?" (I shortened his name trying to get a rise out of him. He hated when people in kindergarten called him that.)
"We had a blast at that school. Well, at least when we weren't getting whacked with rulers."
"Funny, I don't remember anything good about that school except for Michael Powells. He was a really nice kid."
"He moved away after first grade. I'm surprised you remember him."
"Kindergarten, not first grade," I corrected.
"Oh, yeah. That's right. He was your little boyfriend."
"Not really. Mom said no dating until I hit sixteen."
"Well, you're the same age as me. And I'm sixteen. You want to go grab a bite to eat?"
"With you?"
"Yeah! We can talk about the good old days."
"I'm going to pass. But hey, thanks for the offer."

As if on cue, my girlfriends walked up.

"You're a decade late dumb ass," Marilynn told him. I couldn't help but giggle.
"Late for what?"
"Lois, hurry up and tell him so we can get out of here before all the cute guys leave with someone else."
"Hey, John. I liked you in kindergarten. Do you remember that?"
"Of course I do."
"Riiight. Kind of like you remembered my last name. Anyhow, I've outgrown you, which you made really easy because you were such a mean little shit."
"Mean? What'd I do that was mean?"

Nearly eleven years later, those words hurt as much as the word "no". That moment I learned something very valuable. Never say something mean because you never know how much you can hurt someone's feelings, or how long it will stick with them. He was completely oblivious of what he did to me.

"John, think about the candy gram I gave you. Think about our first Valentine's Day party at school. Think about me asking you if you liked me and then think about you saying 'no'."
"Yeah but I was a little kid. I never knew you'd turn out to be such a knockout."
"Yeah, well, I was a kid too and I didn't care that you were rude, short or fat, but I do now. See ya!" I said, with a flip of my hair. And away I strutted with my girlfriends.

A few nights ago, I tucked my dad (who is mostly bedridden with stage IV cancer) into bed, he asked me if I was going back home. I said I was planning on sticking around for another day or so. He smiled and asked what I was going to do while he slept. I told him about my blog and said I was working on a series about John Anthony for Valentine's Day. I didn't know how much he would understand of what I was saying because his mind isn't what it used to be, so I tried to keep it simple, and he asked, "Why would you want to write a story about that little prick, John Anthony?" After 27 years, his brain riddled with cancer, Dad never forgot the hurt either.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Sixth Sense

First time here? Scroll down for part one, two, three, four and five.

I don't think my dad was aware of the seed he planted into my head. That night I had nightmares about Greg and his stinky breath. It was so bad, I was sure all of the air in my bedroom came out of that kid's mouth.

Valentine's Day finally came and I made a decision that morning while eating my Malt-O-Meal, "I am going to talk to John Anthony today and find out if he is my secret admirer! The suspense is killing me! I don't even like secrets!"

I packed up my store-bought valentines and headed out for the day. The wheels in my head were turning faster than the wheels on the bus. I was playing back every second of the last few days in my mind, which may be the reason I can still remember all of the details from so many years ago.

St. Whack 'Em On The Knuckles was overflowing with pink, red and white hearts. Love was certainly in the air and for once I didn't have a little rain cloud over my head looking at John Anthony from afar. I was sure this was the day he would profess his undying love to me and we would live happily ever after.

I tilted my head to the side offering a shy smile. He looked at his shoes. I giggled. We lined up two by two. John Anthony was at my side. My heart was pitter pattering like the Little Drummer Boy was doing a solo inside of me.

I intentionally stepped on the back of Nancy's shoe, giving her a "flat tire". She was already angry at me for being partners in line with John Anthony. She turned and yelled at me. Our teacher didn't like that and guess what? That's right, I got to hold his hand again.

He started out all stiff but my happy arm started swinging. He swung back. I smiled at that boy, who was still looking at his shoes. It was a moment I never wanted to end.

In the coat room Greg walked by and said "Heeeeellooo."
I quickly held my breath so I wouldn't smell his. I smiled back at him and gave a hello nod.

So many students brought treats that very special day. After trying John Anthony's sugar cookies, I knew why he was husky because they were good. Really good. Good enough to give him a compliment.

"I really like these cookies!"
Looking at the plate of cookies, he said, "Thanks."
"Did you make them?"
"Oh... Did your mom make them?"
"Did you help her?"
"Did you get to lick the bowl at least?"
"You're so lucky!"
"Uh huh."

He never took his eyes off of that plate. I reached for another cookie, hoping he would at least look at my hand. He did. I smiled.

"Hey John Anthony? Did you get the candy gram I put in your pocket?"
"Oh. That was you?"
"Who did you think it was?"
"Um... I don't know."
"Did you like it?"
"Did you buy me one?"

I walked away speedy quick. Tears were fogging up my eyeballs. I hid in the coat room until I could see clearly. I walked back out, approached John Anthony again and took his chin in my hand. "You will look at me when I am about to talk to you mister!"

I was a little angry but smiled at him anyhow. "Don't you like me?"
He look me square in the eyes and said, "Uh, no."

I asked my teacher if I could go to the bathroom. She said yes. The tears poured out of my eyes even though I looked at the ceiling to make them fall back into my eyeball sockets. I blew my nose and was on my way back to class. I stopped at the mirror. I looked like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I splashed cold water on my face and fanned it off with my nervous little hands. Inside of my stomach, I felt a big hole. I knew then I was stomachbroken, which was kind of like heartbroken but I didn't know the difference between my organs yet.

The rest of the Valentine's Day class party is a blur to me now. I only remember being sad.

On the way back home I sat next to Michael Powells on the bus. I knew he was quiet and wouldn't bug me. Boy was I wrong.

"Lois did you have fun at our party?"
"Because why?"
"Because Valentine's Day is stupid!"
"No it isn't."
"Yes it is!"
"But you got the most candy grams out of everyone in the whole entire school!"
"They were all from my dad. He's the only boy that likes me!"
"All of them were from your dad?"
"Michael, are you asking for candy? Didn't you have enough treats in class? Aren't you scared of the dentist and cavities?"
"Um... well... I... it's just that... I..."
"Spit it out!"

He took a big deep breath and in a fast low tone, Michael Powells said to me, "I-gave-you-one-of-those-candy-grams-didn't-you-get-mine-I-did-it-because-I-think-you-are-nice-and-I-didn't-want-you-to-know-that-I-like-you-but-I-do-and-now-you-know-and-I-am-sorry-I-got-you-mad-at-me-and-no-thank-you-I-don't-want-any-candy-and-yes-I-am-scared-of-the-dentist-and-cavities-will-you-be-my-partner-in-line-tomorrow?"

He didn't come up for air. He blurted out how he felt. For the first time, I really looked at that boy. I looked at his eyes, which I never noticed before then. His eyes looked like mine felt when I looked at John Anthony. I felt sad for that boy. I thought maybe I made him sad like John Anthony made me sad. I thought maybe he told his dad about me not smiling at him. I wondered if his family hated Lois Lane like my family hated John Anthony.

I smiled at him. He smiled back. I dug into my book bag and pulled out one of my unopened candy grams. It was the one he gave me. I took out a pencil, crossed out "From ?" and wrote, "Love Lois". I handed it to him and he took it with a big smile.

Stay tuned part seven, the final chapter coming soon. I bet you thought this was the end huh?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Five For Fighting

First time here? Scroll down for part one, two, three and four. (Yes, I promise this will end soon!)

My eyes were not playing tricks on me. I didn't mistake the desk. It really wasn't someone else's. It was mine, all mine! And best of all, I didn't become the sawdust kid who puked!

The classroom filled with chatter about my candy grams. Everyone was asking each other who did it but no one owned up. I sat at my desk and counted 11 candy grams, 10 of which had my name and the words, "Your smile always makes me smile!" My teacher stood over my desk helping me sound out the "big words".

Even at the age of five, there was no mistaking my dad's handwriting. He certainly missed his calling as a doctor. I smiled as I read each one. Seeing a pattern forming after reading the first five or six, I still continued reading.

If I had taken the time to look at John Anthony, even his lack of smile couldn't have brought me down, not this time.

"Hey! This one wasn't signed! It has a ? in the From spot! I have a secret admirer! JOHN ANTHONY!!! Thank you God! Thank you so so so so much!!!"

My teacher asked if I knew who they were from so I whispered into her ear, to keep the rest of the class out of the loop. I am pretty sure it drove them nuts, and that thought only made me smile more.

I looked at John Anthony. He was really looking at me this time. I winked my eye at his cute freckled mug but he looked behind him like I was winking at someone else. "SILLY HEAD! Hahaha! You're so cute!"

I smiled for the whole day. When it was time to go home everyone was asking me where all of the candy grams came from but I still didn't tell. We lined up two by two. I looked for John Anthony. He was first in line. I was in too happy of a mood to budge but knew the next day would be a different story.

I had to sit next to Michael Powells on the bus because the big kids got loaded first, making it crowded. I really wanted to share my candy with my friend Cheryl but she was all the way on the other side sitting next to Angelo, a boy she liked.

I opened one of the candy grams, even though I wasn't supposed to eat on the bus. I could feel Michael's eyeballs looking at my candy. Without looking at him I asked if he wanted some. He was all weird and shy but did finally take a piece.

My stop was coming up and I had to hurry and hide my candy before my sister dragged me off of the bus. I handed Michael one more piece and stuffed the rest in my bag. I damn near floated off of that bus. I couldn't wait to see my dad.

I ran into the house, wrapped my arms really tight around his neck, cutting off his oxygen and blood flow to his brain. I pressed my puckered mouth against his cheek so hard my teeth were embedded into his skin. "I love you Daddy! You are the bestest dad in the whole wide world! And you know what? John Anthony gave me a candy gram too!"

I frantically began digging for it in my book bag to show him. When he saw the question mark, he said, "Lois, how do you know it's from him? I mean, I hope it's from him. He'd be a shrimpy fat dummy if it isn't from him. But a question mark could be from anyone."

"I know it's from him Dad! I really know it."

"I really hope it's from him! It better be from him! Oh crap! What if it's from stinky breathey boy, Greg? No way Jose! John Anthony likes me and I know he is my secret admirer!"

Stay tuned, part six coming soon, hopefully by the end of the weekend. Thank you all again for the kind words and well-wishes!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Fourscore And 27 Years Ago...

First time here? Scroll down for part one, two and three.

He was so cute standing there completely unaware of the fact that he was under my father's surveillance. I had my eye on him too and his pocket. The construction paper heart was gone.

"Or maybe it was the other pocket. Crap. Okay, think. Which sleeve of his coat touches my sleeve in the coat room? That's the pocket, his right one. (Turns body to decipher left from right.) It is gone!"

I walked closer to listen for admirer type conversations. I had to know if he knew it was me. Typical of boys they were talking about farts and poop. I walked over to my friends who happened to be talking about candy grams. I listened as each confessed to sneaking a bag of yummy goodness to a boy they liked.

"What?! Nancy gave John Anthony a candy gram??? What a slut!" (Okay, so I didn't think 'slut' at the age of five, but I do remember thinking bad things about her.)

It was time to ask some serious questions. "Does he know it was you or did you sneak it to him?"
"He caught me trying to put it in his desk after school yesterday. I went back in our classroom and thought I was by myself but he walked in."
"I bet he will get me one today."

My heart was being smashed to smithereens. I knew Nancy and John Anthony went to preschool together and were longtime friends. It was a bond I didn't know if I would be able to break through.

"I think I am going to puke."

The bell rang and we lined up. I was stuck next to Michael Powells. I was too sad to try to budge my way to John Anthony's side.

Over the morning announcements, the president of the student council reminded us that it was the last day to buy candy grams. I was happy it was nearly over. This love stuff was exhausting. Throughout the day various classmates "found" candy grams with their names written on them. I really wanted one but so far, nothing. Just me and four other kids in class were candy gramless.

"There's still one more day. I might get one. I hope I get one. I think I am going to puke."

The day was shaping up to be a real bummer. At lunchtime I saw a couple of John Anthony's friends buying candy grams. I wondered why he wasn't buying any, I mean, the little pig already got two. One of which was from a secret admirer. I thought maybe it was time to come clean and let him know it was me.

I walked over to his lunch table and said, "Hi." He just gave a half wave without looking at me and continued to eat his smelly tuna fish sandwich. Just the feeling of my heart sinking repeatedly and the smell of his stinky lunch, nearly sent me to the porcelain school of tough love.

I walked back to my lunch table just in time for the bell to ring. When we got back into our classroom, I couldn't believe my eyes. There, on my desk, was a whole bunch of candy grams! I looked all around the room. My desk was the only one covered in candy grams.

Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Did I mistake that desk for mine and it was really someone else's? Was I about to puke on the classroom floor and make the janitor bring in the sawdust? Would I forever be known as the sawdust kid who puked?

Stay tuned, part five coming soon. Thanks for the well wishes. You guys are some of the sweetest people I've never met! I will try to update soon.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Three Times The Charm, Or Is It?

First time here? Scroll down for part one and two.

I was pretty sure something was wrong with that boy. I mean, how could he not notice a red construction paper heart sticking out of his pocket?

It seemed to take forever for the next day to arrive. I was so nervous I hardly slept that night. My mother and father knew something was wrong with me when I showed excitement about going to school. They pried until I spilled my guts.

ME: "You know how you give me milk money everyday?"
MOM: "Yes."
ME: "Well I saved the money for a few days so I could buy a candy gram."
DAD: "What's a candy gram?"
ME: "It's a baggie of candy with a valentine that you give to your secret admirer."
MOM: "Who are you going to give yours to?"
ME: "I already gave it to someone."
DAD: "Who?"
ME: "A boy." I said all bashful.
THEM: "A boy?!"
ME: "John Anthony."
DAD: "Is this the boy you like?"
MOM: "There is no dating until you are 16. You know that right?"
ME: "I don't want to date him. I want to hold his hand and make him smile at me. He never smiles at me."
DAD: "What the hell's wrong with that boy? Why wouldn't he smile at you?"
ME: "I don't know. But a candy gram will make him smile."
MOM: "I thought you said you already gave it to him. Didn't he smile?"
ME: "He kinda doesn't know I gave it to him. I snuck it in his pocket."
DAD: "Well don't worry sweetheart. That boy will smile at you. How could he not?"
MOM: "Go finish getting ready for school."
ME: "Okay."

I skipped into the bathroom to brush my teeth and I could hear my dad talking to my mom. He was very upset that John Anthony never smiled at me. I didn't understand why he was so angry until I had my own daughter.

I was running out the door to catch my school bus when my dad told me he would drive me to school. My sister Angie was excited because she hated taking the bus.

"Sorry Ang, you're taking the bus. I have to... talk to Lois' teacher."

I didn't know at the time he was lying. I became very nervous at the thought of going to school with my dad. I hoped he wouldn't talk to my teacher and tell her about my crush. I thought I would throw up as we pulled into the parking lot of St. Whack 'Em On The Knuckles.

The parking lot faced the playground where all of the kids were running around having a good time.

"Lois, point the boy out to me."
"What boy Daddy?"
"That John whatever his name is."
"John Anthony?"
GULP... SWEAT... TEARS... "Um... why?"

My heart was racing a mile a minute. I was so worried that my dad was going to tell him that I liked him and wanted him to hold my hand that I hid my head inside of my coat.

"Daddy, he's over there." I said and pointed without looking.
"Which one? Is he the blonde tall one?"
"Ewww! No! That's Michael Powells! He's the cute brown haired one with curlies."
"That shrimpy guy?"
"It's not nice to make fun of people Dad!"
"I know that but it's not nice to not smile at someone who is smiling at you. That's called rude. And I think that shrimp needs some manners."
"He has manners. He's a really nice boy. He even says bless you when someone sneezes."

My father had made up his mind. John Anthony was not good enough for his daughter. He tried pointing out other boys for me to like on the playground.

"How about that boy. He has nice hair."
"He gets in trouble all the time."
"Oh, forget him then. What about the nice brown haired guy with the blue coat. He looks friendly."
"Dad! He has stinky breath!"
"How do you know what his breath smells like?"
"Because he is all breathey when he talks and I don't think he even brushes his teeth. Daddy? Are you really going to talk to my teacher?"
"No. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about John Andy."
"John Anthony Dad!"
"Yeah, him."

He gave me a kiss and sent me on my way. I was very happy that my dad never got out of the car that day. As I approached the playground, I looked over my shoulder and my dad was still parked. He had his eye on John Anthony.

Stay tuned, part four coming soon. Thank you all for hanging in there. Thanks for the kind e-mails and comments. As far as an update on my dad. He isn't well. He will come home from the hospital tomorrow (Tuesday) because there is nothing else they can do for him medically. Hospice has been called to help with his at home care. This afternoon I am going back to my parent's house but will try to update soon.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Take Two

First time here? Scroll down for part one. See slight update below.

The whole time we were outside, I watched John Anthony from the corner of my eye, I could feel a twinge of nervousness when his hand came near his pocket. In my mind I said, "You're cold. You need to warm your hands. Stick 'em in your pockets!"

Trying to mentally will him to do so didn't work. Recess came and went. "Who doesn't put their hands in their pockets at least once during February in Chicago?!"

It was time to line up before going back into the school. Our teacher was cool. She always lined us up in two lines, one for the boys and one for the girls. And when we were unruly in the hallway, we had to hold hands with the boy next to us. Since the first day of school, I wanted to be side-by-side with that cute boy but my timing was off.

This day was different. I was on a mission. I butted into line. I got a dirty look from some stupid girl so I turned my head fast and whacked her in the face with my ponytail. I smiled at that cute freckle faced baby doll. He didn't smile back.

It seemed like the walk to class was much shorter than ever before. Time was flying by and I needed to make a move, and quick! I accidentally brushed my hand against his. He pulled his arm away like I electrocuted him. That was not the response I was looking for so when he wasn't looking, I tripped him by stomping his shoelace. When he fell, I reached down to help him up, he took my hand and my heart did a summersault inside of my chest. The whole class was laughing at him, again, that was not really the response I was looking for but it did make the teacher angry, which meant we had to hold hands.

Oh yes, hold hands we did. But there was something not cool. My hand was all sweaty and I thought he'd think I was gross. Or maybe it was his hand that was all sweaty and gross. We didn't interlock fingers like I really wanted to but we were touching and for that short moment of my life, everything was wonderful, sweaty hands included.

I thought maybe I should push our hands against his coat pocket so he could feel the candy gram inside but he was walking all soldiery with stiff arms. As we were approaching our classroom, he broke our grip and then wiped my sweatiness right off of his hand onto his pants. I did the same thing so he wouldn't think I liked his sweat on me either.

In the coat room, I had my eye on his pocket. More than anything I wanted that candy gram to jump out at him. Of course it didn't so I had to wait until the end of the day.

When it was time to get ready to leave for the day, I raced to the coat room and tried to pull the candy gram's heart-shaped note just far enough out of his pocket so he would be sure to notice. He walked in just as I was finished. I smiled and batted my eyelashes at him but he gave me a look, kind of like the one the girl who I whacked in the face with my ponytail did.

When we got outside, I couldn't watch him anymore. My bus arrived and I was bummed.

Stay tuned for part three soon. Sorry I couldn't get to this Saturday like I planned. My dad is in the hospital and I am staying with my mom, who happens to hog the internet. ;)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Kindergarten Krush

As the groundhog disappoints millions, I am already thinking about Valentine's Day. For me it isn't a little hairy ground dweller that gets me in the mood for spring it's the joy of candy hearts, love letters and secret admirers. I have always loved Valentine's Day.

My first memory of Valentine's Day was at St. Whack 'Em On The Knuckles, Kindergarten 1977. The older students made "candy grams" to sell to the rest of the students throughout the week, who in turn would give them as secret admirer gifts. Each special treat had a heart-shaped message with a little bag of candies attached and for the low, low price of 25 cents, anyone could buy one.

I went three days without milk at lunchtime so I could buy a candy gram for a very special someone. I had my eye on John Anthony since the first day of school. He was so adorable. He had curly brown hair, blue eyes and freckles that matched mine. He was much shorter than me and a little on the chunky side, but to me, that only made him look much more like a baby doll.

I'll never forget how nervous I was while buying that candy gram. I can only imagine it might be similar to purchasing condoms for the first time. Hands shaking, looking around to see if anyone is watching, quickly shoving the goods under my shirt and walking away quickly as if nothing just happened. But something had just happened. My heart was all fluttery and my hands were sweating and I had a smile on my face that wouldn't go away.

I wondered how I was going to get this to John Anthony without him seeing me and then brilliance kicked in, "The coat room! I can stick it in his coat pocket while I am putting something in my coat pocket and no one will notice because our sleeves touch!"

The plan worked. The candy gram was tucked away safely in his coat pocket and I got out of there undetected. I wondered what he might think when he reached his hand into his pocket. I wondered if he would know who it was from. I wondered if I was going to get a candy gram too. I really wanted to get one but not just from anyone.

I kept my eye on that boy for the rest of the day.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story, Thursday night.