Anne Notations

Monday, June 16, 2008

Deep-breathing into summer

These days I seem to have no Great Thoughts, just big worries. I'm worried sick about money – Michael is still unemployed and we're starting to give up hope; in this economy, even places like Home Depot aren't hiring sales staff. Should he start collecting Social Security (at a greatly reduced rate)? Will we lose this house? Will Melinda have to drop out of Syracuse? Michael is irritable; I'm fretful. We snipe and argue, then cling to one another like drowning people in an angry sea.

I'm worried to death about Kevin, whose dismissal from La Salle we are appealing to the principal tomorrow. Even if they take him back, can he (literally) make the grade? What will his neuropsych evaluation next month tell us: that he's chronically depressed? Has ADD? Or that he's just lazy and bored? Kevin took an online IQ test and scored 150. That's probably high, but maybe not by a lot. Yet he flunked two courses for the year and nearly flunked a third one. He's funny and nice, but so inert and affectless I feel like shaking him into life. Is this just a really bad case of teenaged-boy doldrums? What is wrong? Is it our fault? What will become of him? He has two more years of high school (somewhere!); then what? Is college too much to hope for? And even if he gets in, will he do the work at all? Will he ever be able to work at any job?

Now I am (to quote a psychiatrist friend) awfulizing. Step back. Take some deep breaths. Focus only on this moment. Smell the roses – and we finally have some roses to smell! (More on that later.)

In the midst of this gloom, we have celebrated, as well. Melinda graduated from La Salle on June 5, and we couldn't be prouder of her. Her dark maroon academic robe set off the bright-gold ribbon and medal around her neck, symbols of her membership in the National Honor Society.

Kevin, Melinda, and Andrés just before the La Salle graduation ceremony, June 5.

A week later, her report card arrived at home: the best grades she's ever gotten, and first honors. As she posed, smiling, with her many friends outside the cathedral, I thought back to a darkened bedroom in a Bogotá apartment where I lay next to a sleeping, dark-haired baby, six weeks old, watching her breathe. It was the moment when I fell in love with our new daughter so hard, I actually feared being hurt by so much emotion. Ever since, I've believed that God must truly love me; how else could I merit having this particular daughter in my life, and in my heart?

Another joy to me is the closeness among our three children. They genuinely like being together. They laugh, tease, talk, and just hang out. Their childhood rivalries long outgrown, these three gravitate toward one another. May it always be so.

Then there is Caroline, who talks in complex sentences, can't get enough of roving the beach in search of rocks and flowers, and makes us all smile, especially her Uncle Andrés.

Andrés and Caroline crack each other up.

Michael was sick with thyroiditis for several months and has been seeing an endocrinologist. Several weeks of Prednisone therapy have wrought near-miracles, and last week he was able to finish putting railings on the front porch and help me landscape the front yard. We spent Father's Day finishing the shrub and perennial plantings.

The front border gardens in progress.

Ta-dahhhh! (If you click on these photos, they will get bigger.)

Oh yes: about the roses I am to stop and smell. We planted two of these yellow rose bushes yesterday. They have that heavenly tea-rose fragrance that I adore.

Now all we need are front stairs and handrails on the porch, and a nicer lawn. The front porch is our favorite summer room, and at the end of a hot day's work outdoors we sip cold Miller "Chill" beer (hint of lime; yum) and watch the sailboats and listen to the summer birds from our Adirondack chairs.

Amid fear and discontent, there is also the peace of this beautiful place and the sunshine of our children's love. I have to keep reminding myself that all else is mere noise.


  • Anne....i'm so sorry things are difficult and you're having such a tough time. I understand the worry and unsettling feeling. You will get through this. Your children are your salvation and your spirit and strength will see through these rough waters. It's been too long since we've seen you. I hope we can very soon.

    By Blogger Maria, at Mon Jun 16, 11:52:00 PM EDT  

  • Wishing you the best and I hope Michael finds work.

    The first two years of high school seemed to be an adjustment period for both our kids. They didn't really bloom until junior year.

    Your house is gorgeous and I like the new plants!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 17, 12:14:00 AM EDT  

  • I don't get over here nearly enough and when I do I find that I should have been here sooner. I'm so sorry things are so rough for you right now. We did two years of unemployment here and it was miserable. What you described, I lived, and I'm truly sorry you and Michael have to go through that.

    Even as stressful as Kevin's academics are right now, there will be an outcome and I know you'll meet it head on and give him everything he needs to succeed, you always have.

    You are a wonderful mother, a loving wife, and an amazing friend. Wishing you all the very best and crossing everything I have that things get better for you.

    By Blogger Michelle, at Tue Jun 17, 12:26:00 AM EDT  

  • Things happen for a reason and just as you were meant to find your children among all those needing a family, so too will you find your way through this maze. I have no doubt that you will make your way through it with grace, poise and strength.

    I agree with Michelle - you are an AMAZING mother. The fact that you are not giving up on Kevin and are doing everything possible to get him help is a testimony to both you and Michael's devotion to him. You are right to be optimistic - I know that isn't always easy in the trenches, but you have always had a special knack for seeing the bigger picture.

    Keep your chin up sweetie!

    By Anonymous Jane, at Tue Jun 17, 12:56:00 AM EDT  

  • Anne, I am so sorry that you have to go through all of this worry. This too shall pass, and you'll come out an even stronger woman on the other side (if that is at all possible!). Thank you for sharing all the beauty in your life. I miss you and hope we see each other very soon!

    By Blogger Moriah, at Tue Jun 17, 09:25:00 AM EDT  

  • I'm so sorry you're having these troubles. Hang on tight and try not to "awfulize."

    By Blogger bozoette, at Thu Jun 19, 09:43:00 AM EDT  

  • whoa Anne - you've been so generous supporting others I thought the clouds had parted.
    For what it's worth- Mike may want to consider filing for S.S. early. I was at a seminar that enouraged potential retirees to weigh all possibilities - for what you need NOW. Money problems are the Rancor pits of life. Everyone has them at some point - you and Mike will cross over. But Mike must find his bliss...that creates self-love.
    Kevin - ahh Kevin..who is so loved. I wish he knew what an anchor he has - and believed in himself.
    You are loved too Anne.
    To remain afloat in these troubled waters apply a slight brush of glitter to your underbrow area. Seriously. It worked and continues to do so, for me. But then I love the sparklies.
    Linda loves you.

    By Blogger just linda, at Fri Jun 20, 07:04:00 AM EDT  

  • Anne, as you may know, we've been where you are regarding high school sons and depression. Ben seems to have finally achieved an even keel, but I think we're all aware that he has a disease that can be treated, but not cured. It took a wonderful psychiatrist, a good psychologist, and a family that did not give up on him, even when he was hard to love. Kevin's surrounded by so much love -- it's strong medicine.
    I'm holding you and your family in the Light.

    By Blogger tjs, at Sat Jun 21, 09:05:00 AM EDT  

  • Wow. Heavy post. The supportive comments, the love in and between the lines is mindblowing: a gift.

    I pray for only good for you and your family. I sense love and kindness and goodness in you.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Sat Jun 21, 11:26:00 PM EDT  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger rr, at Mon Jun 23, 08:26:00 PM EDT  

  • Anne...from a lot of experience I can tell you that tough times come and go and G-d takes care of all of us in the long haul. Sometimes it's hard to see the reasoning in the time of stress, but long term the path will restraighten and all will hopefully be better than before. You give selflessly to your family and I hope that things will turn around quickly for the positive. In the meanwhile try to focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative...Congratulations on Melinda...Wow...and what strikes me is how happy Kevin and Andre's look for her! Hang in have a lot of people rooting for you!

    By Blogger rr, at Mon Jun 23, 08:29:00 PM EDT  

  • Don't worry too much on Kevin, I nearly washed out of LaSalle too. Ended up graduating in the top 5% of the class.

    He's bored more than likely. That was my problem, the school work just wasn't a challenge.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 25, 02:30:00 PM EDT  

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