My Not-So-Typical Christmas Tradition

Christmas.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  I love the beautiful decorations, the food, the parties, the food, the excitement of opening presents, and of course, more food.

Growing up, December was always a special time for me.  We would decorate our tree on my father’s birthday, December 9, (and many years later would celebrate my son’s birth on that same day!), and then we would celebrate my mother’s Christmas Day birthday.  My grandfather used to tell us the story of how Santa Claus brought my mother down the chimney to him, which, as a child, made me extremely jealous.

Christmas was full of love and happiness.  I was blessed!

Then, the unthinkable happened to my fantasy Christmas:  I got divorced.  Not just some easy-peasy, that-was-mine-this-is-yours divorce, but the “I kind of wish he’d get hit by a bus” divorce.

In an instant, my holidays were totally disrupted.  Suddenly, I only had my son with me for the first half of Christmas vacation, after which he would go to his father’s house at noon on Christmas Day.  Then he would return home after New Year’s Day.  It was agonizing.

One day, while visiting my eighty-something-year-old grandmother, she asked why I hated my ex so much.  I explained all of the reasons, and she listened quietly before saying, “What does it matter?  You’re divorced, but you have a child that loves you both and needs you to get along, especially now that the holidays are close.”

So, I went back home feeling like a first grader who just got scolded, and spoke with my ex.  After deciding to meet at the library (so we couldn’t yell at each other), we had a much-needed, long discussion.  For the first time since our divorce, we both agreed that we needed to put aside our differences and be parents to our son.  Civility wasn’t always easy, but we did it.

By then, he had married a very sweet lady and had a precious daughter, and one day, my son made a comment of how hard it was having to split his time between his parents on Christmas.  He wanted to spend time with us all, but having a big Christmas lunch at my house, followed by a big Christmas dinner at his dad’s house was just too much for him.

So, after great thought, and a few glasses of chardonnay, I reluctantly invited them over for Christmas lunch one year.

I know, I know….I can just hear many of you now saying, “I could never do that!”  But, let me tell you, when you know you’re doing something for your child, you can literally do ANYTHING.  It wasn’t easy, and there were times during dinner that I was tempted to stab my ex with a fork…but I digress.

It worked.

And just like that, we began a new Christmas tradition.  Each year, we would all have Christmas lunch together:  my son and his sister, my ex and his wife, my parents and grandmother.  When I remarried many years later, my sweet and understanding husband accepted our arrangement like it was no big deal. He saw that it was a good thing and welcomed my ex and his family into our house like they were old friends.

A few years have passed since we shared our last Christmas together.  Our son is nearly 23-years-old, and is venturing out as a young man, with a wonderful girlfriend who I hope will become part of our family one day.  My father passed away last year, and my mother moved to live with my 97-year-old grandmother.

Christmases are different, but I will be forever grateful for those wise words encouraging us to set aside our anger, forgive past mistakes, and put our child first.

After all, isn’t that what the holidays are really about?

 

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My Gynecologist Appointment With Doogie Howser

I went to the gynecologist recently for my yearly checkup. I’m usually a procrastinator in general, but making this appointment is rarely high on my list of priorities. I know that going to the gynecologist is for preventative maintenance, just like making sure you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles but don’t most people try to make it to 5,000 miles before changing the oil?

Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody I know ever wakes up and goes “Yayyyyy! It’s gynecologist appointment day!”

I get to the doctor’s office and sign in, then head over to the waiting room that is currently hosting several pregnant women and now me. I feel like the new kid in school that everyone stares at because she’s different.

After 40 minutes or so (who’s counting?) the nurse calls me back.

We go through the typical steps. She checks my blood pressure. Normal. Pulse? Normal. Then I get on the scales. I drop my purse, jacket, and take off my shoes. I even remove my Pandora bracelet in fear that it will add another few ounces. I let out all the air in my lungs and lightly step on the scales, like it will take a pound or two off the final result.

“Oh, you’ve gained a few pounds since you were here last year.”

Seriously? Does she not realize that I don’t know my pants are tighter this year than last? Do I need the nurse at my gynecologist’s office bringing that to my attention? This appointment is getting off to a bad start.

I’m already in a bad mood lady just because I have to be here. Don’t push it.

I am led into a little room with all kinds of posters on the walls with pictures of vaginas, birth control, babies in the womb, etc. Wow. This is not helping.

The nurse lays out a gown and sheet and I’m told I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit and put on the gown.

After a while, my doctor and his nurse come into the room. He’s new to the practice so I have never met him before. He looks like he just graduated from middle school. And he’s so cheerful that it makes me want to slap him. I’m thinking, “Please don’t be this happy while you are looking up my vajayjay because it will make this experience even more uncomfortable.”

He asks me tons of questions.

How many children have I had? Am I married? What do I do for a living?

Sounds like I’m being picked up at a bar. I squeeze my eyes shut. Please stop the small talk and get this show on the road.

He checks my tiny boobies out to make sure there aren’t any lumps in there. My chest is flatter than the table I’m lying on, and all the while he asks me if I have dogs, isn’t the weather nice today, and whether or not I watch football.

What?

I lay back and he does the “other” part of the exam. My knees are like magnets. They instinctively keep closing back together. It is clear that I am not enjoying this experience.

Then he does an ultrasound to see what my baby makers look like. They are 47 years old so they are probably starting to look like shriveled up raisins, but he says that everything looks good.

“Just please don’t see a heartbeat in there”, I say.

“Oh, nothing to worry about. You’re getting up there in age so unless you are trying to get pregnant, you probably won’t.”

W.T.H???

The humiliating part of the exam is over. I can only compare a gynecologist exam to prostate exam. In theory of course, since I don’t have a prostate. You just had someone poking around in your no-no spots and he hasn’t even bought you dinner.

I sit up on the exam table and he asks me more questions.

“How old are you?’

“Just turned 47.”

“Ahh. Are you experiencing hot flashes? Weight gain? Mood swings?”

“Yes. Oh my God, am I dying? What do I have?”

“Oh it’s nothing. You’re probably just experiencing early menopause.”

Early menopause? Seriously? I’m 47! Not 107! Didn’t my grandmother just go through menopause? She’s 96. I’m too young to be going through menopause. Here I was worried he was going to tell me I’m pregnant, and instead he tells me my girly parts are antiquated.

I sit there, stunned, as he goes over other symptoms. These are just some of the fun features of menopause: Hair loss, loss of libido, brittle nails, anxiety, paranoia.

“Oh great”, I think. I’m going to turn into a bitchy, bald, edgy, sweaty, freaked out sex-hater. Sounds like my husband is just going to LOVE the new me.

He asks if I have any more questions. I mumble “no” as I’m still trying to process the fact that he not only insinuated that I’m getting old, but he also just had his hand up my hoo-ha. I sort of feel used.
I could use some chocolate.

And as I’m leaving, Doogie Howser hands me a slip of paper, smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day.

I leave the office and go sit in my car. I look down at the piece of paper.

That little bastard. It’s a prescription for my annual mammogram.

More Stuffed Than The Thanksgiving Turkey

Ahh the holidays. I love them for so many reasons but especially for the food. I love to eat, and holiday food is the best. Turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, desserts, and breakfasts with bacon and eggs.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

From this past Thanksgiving through Christmas I ate like I was on death row and every meal was going to be my last.

Which is also why my pants began cutting off my circulation and my Spanx went on strike by the time New Year’s Day rolled around.

I had taken a hiatus from my dread mill, partly because of surgery to my leg last March but mostly because I was just about as productive as a slug.

So right after Christmas, when I put on a pair of jeans from my closet only to realize they were my husbands jeans – AND THEY FIT – did I decide I’d better actually honor my New Years resolution and start working out again as well as eating healthier.

Low-fat, low-carb…I cut down on bacon and other fatty foods. I’ve started eating so many nuts for snacks that I will probably grow a tail and climb a tree soon.

My new friends K and L talked me into going to the gym to do a “step” class. I don’t know if you have ever done a step class before, but it’s where an instructor has you stepping on and off a 6″ high platform while blaring music is pumped out of the speakers overhead and girls with stick-figure bodies in tight little workout clothes surround you.

I had taken step before a few years ago but I was not prepared for this one. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the moves were so fast that I’m pretty sure that I looked like I was doing “the Elaine” dance from Seinfeld while K and L were gracefully going through the movements with ease.

Me at step class

Me at step class

While they were going left I was going right. When they were going up I was going down. I was the complete opposite of what they did.

And with each break, I’d guzzle some water. Half-way through the class I thought my bladder was going to burst. I felt like a puppy near some new carpet.

After class, we decided to continue the workout with crunches. K showed me how to do sit-ups on a machine, and even though I had been doing crunches at home, it was clear that the ones I had been doing at home were the same intensity that a preschooler could handle.

The next morning, I had to literally roll out of bed because my muscles felt like I had been punched in the stomach. But, I went back two days later and my legs didn’t feel like they were full of lead anymore. And I actually enjoyed the class.

And I’m determined to honor my New Year’s resolution until I can no longer wear the same size jeans as my husband, and am back in my old clothes. And if that’s not enough incentive, then I don’t know what is.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Where did the summer go? It seems that school was released last week! Where did all of the lazy days by the pool go? Why is it still dark outside when I’m getting up? When did we get back from vacation? How do I work my alarm clock?

That’s right. School starts today and all of the kiddos are going back.

Kids are complaining and mumbling about how life sucks, and how tired they are, and that the first day of school just happens to be the worst day of the WHOLE YEAR.

The obnoxious buzzing of the alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m. It’s the butt-crack of dawn and time to get my step-son up for the first day of school.

I shuffle into the bathroom and turn on the light. Good grief. I feel like a Gremlin. Bright light! Bright light! It’s so bright that it actually hurts. I take a horrifying glance at my reflection in the mirror. I look like I’ve been electrocuted. I really don’t like early mornings.

I have to force myself up the stairs to his room, knock on the door and turn on the light. Now he feels like a Gremlin.

He growls at me.

I sleep-walk into the kitchen and make a quick breakfast for him even though he says he doesn’t want much to eat. I pack a brown-bag lunch full of fruit, cheese, chips, yogurt, and a chocolate bar (I’m not a health food nut – he just has food allergies) and put it by his book bag.

Last night, I made sure new gym clothes were tucked away in his backpack. What seems like ten-thousand dollars-worth of school supplies have been placed in bags to be taken straight to the teacher’s desk. We almost needed to take out a small equity loan to cover the cost of all the supplies the school required this year. How he is going to carry all of this mess is beyond me.

His school uniform has already been washed and pressed. Socks and brand new shoes are placed by the bedroom door.

I confirm that his teeth are brushed, his shirt is tucked in, and his hair doesn’t show any signs of bedhead.

We jump in the car and head over to the school. It seems that every person in the city is in the car rider line today. Hopefully I won’t get in a wreck because I literally just pulled on a pair of shorts and tucked my night shirt into them. It’s going to be A-W-K-W-A-R-D if someone sees me.

He gets out of the car, tells me “bye,” and heads into the building.

Yep.

School started today, and for me and 99% of other parents out there, it’s THE BEST DAY EVER.

And since I’ve been done with school for years now, you know what that also means?

I get to go back to bed!

When in Key West, Beware of the Gherkin Patch

I have a tiny bladder. It’s kind if embarrassing to admit this, but since it has to deal with the rest of this story, so be it.

I have to go so much that my brother-in-law, who is a urologist, thought I might be diabetic. Considering my love for sweets, all things mostly made of carbs, and the fact that I’m a self-called starchitarian (the bready sister to being a vegetarian), it made perfect sense.

The other reason could be because of how much water I drink a day. I drink a LOT of water.

Dale has gotten quite used to my pee-pee dance movements and knows exactly when he needs to help me find a place to go.

Today, we were by the pool at our hotel in Key West, when nature called. I had just downed an entire bottle of SmartWater (I’m not sure that stuff really works because I actually feel kinda stupid for paying $3 for a bottle of water) when I realized I needed to GO.

I was about to pop and the long walk back to our room seemed like the distance of a half marathon. I asked one of the ladies if there was a restroom nearby.

“Sure. It’s upstairs on the top deck”.

I jumped up, put on my flip flops and bolted up the stairs…completely missing the sign that said “Clothing Optional Deck.”

Just so you know, clothing is not optional for me. It’s actually pretty much a requirement. I mean, I even jump in the pool at least wearing a bathing suit – sometimes even with one of those sun shirts on. Clothing for me isn’t optional. It’s a necessity.

However, for the folks hanging out on the “clothing optional deck,” it was VERY much an option for them.

A couple of them giggled at my obvious discomfort as I choked on air when I realized where I was. Men who were clearly registered AARP members were letting it “all hang out.” The sheer amount of women’s boobs just flopping around put a strip club to shame. (Okay. Maybe I’m jealous because my boobs don’t flop. They are so small they don’t move at ALL) but that is completely beside the point.

Regardless, seeing boobs and everything else out in the open when all I wanted to do was find a bathroom really messed me up. I tried being discreet but ended up looking like Stevie Wonder while trying to open the bathroom door.

“My eyes! My eyes!” I thought, thinking I might have damaged my retinas.

After I did my business I sat in the stall a few more minutes trying to figure out how to get out of there without making another scene of myself. I pulled my hat way down over my face like the character “Dumb Donald” from Fat Albert, put on my glasses, flew out the door and beelined it towards the stairs.

Dale asked me where I had been for so long and I told him I got held up in the gherkin patch that doubled as a nude sun deck upstairs.

Dale doubled over with laughter. After a while my blood pressure finally returned to normal but the red in my face stayed…and it wasn’t from sunburn.

So even though I didn’t show my girlie parts on the sun deck today, I’m not going to be at the pool tomorrow. I think I’ll head on over to the beach instead.

Because I’d much rather my skin blister from running through scalding hot sand to get to the bathroom than have to ever witness another wiener roast.

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Just Like Her Mom

They say if a man wants to know what his future wife will be like, all he needs to do is look at her mother.

That can be good OR bad. Some women might not want to be like their mother, but for me, I hope I’m exactly like my mom.

There is something about moms that make everything okay. I’m 44 years old, but when I feel like I’m going to puke, I want my mom. When something makes me sad? I want my mom. When I have good news?

Okay, first I call my husband, and then I call my mom.

But what if I need to complain about my husband? Who do I call?

Yep.

My mom, who everyone calls “Ninny”.

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

She is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and most of the time it’s completely unintentional. We have always had many different ways to communicate – and not just looks or cryptic sounds. She actually taught us the sign language for “Watch out – Daddy’s about to blow his top” so that we would know without words when Daddy was in a bad mood.

Ninny learned everything from her own wonderful mom. My grandmother, Banma, is probably the sweetest person alive. She is 94 years old and still living on the farm she grew up on, going to the same church she was baptized in, and a friend to everyone she meets.

My mom said that she never heard Banma raise her voice. Clearly, that gene did not flow down to my mother or my sister or me. We have no trouble raising our voice but hopefully we got some of Banma’s sweetness.

Throughout their 52 year marriage, my parents have always been there to support each other. Ninny was a stay at home mom when I grew up, and my father happily worked because he loved his girls and wanted her to be at home with us.

Ever since we found out about my father’s cancer, I have been amazed not only with my father for fighting the cancer so hard, but I am in awe at my mother’s strength. I always knew she was strong, but to be strong enough to care for my dad, as well as her own mother, could easily cause an IronMan to crumble…but not Ninny.

To know how much Ninny is loved and needed, you only have to look as far as this Mother’s Day. I offered to stay with my dad, who has been sick from the chemo treatments, so that my mom could visit Banma for Mother’s Day. But he declined and said “No offense, sweetheart, but I need my Ninny”, and then went on the long drive with her to Mississippi even though he was feeling terrible.

I get it. She can make anything better.

And I thank God every day for her.

When I go to my final resting place, I can only pray that someone will give me the greatest compliment I can imagine.

I hope they’ll say “She was just like her mother.”

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

Prom Night-Mares

It’s Springtime and you know what that means…it’s prom season. (Cringe!!!)

Dale and I went out to dinner recently and we noticed several couples who were dressed up and heading out to the prom.

I couldn’t help staring at some of the girls, wondering to myself, “Where did these girls get these dresses? Ho’s R Us??” Where were the parents when these dresses were being picked out? Are they really okay with this?

“Oh, honey, you look so beautiful! Now just be sure not to bend over or else your boobs and your butt are going to pop out at the same time. And just remember, you’re Mama’s sweet baby girl!”

I felt like we were in the middle of a underage porn convention.

My dad would have: 1) never bought me such a dress, 2) never allowed me out of the house had I actually somehow purchased such a dress, and 3) probably have sent me to a strict Catholic boarding school (even though we are Baptist) just for even thinking of wearing something like that.

Okay. So maybe I grew up in the 80’s where your entire body was covered in either lace or bows or satin, sometimes all three at the same time. Some dresses even were “Victorian” style, with lace all the way up to the chin. (My dad loved those). It was “totally” in style and I can assure you, no one was offended at our dresses!

Compared to what many girls are wearing now days, I looked like I was going to an Amish Barn Dance instead of the prom.

HHS Prom,  May 1986.  (I have to hide my friends faces or they will probably never speak to me again.)

HHS Prom, May 1986. (I have to hide my friends faces or they will probably never speak to me again.)

What’s with these new dresses?

What’s with the weird cut outs around the stomach?

Or the dresses that are open in the back all the way down to their butt cracks?

Or the hemlines that are so short they look ready for a gynecologist visit? I mean, seriously, girls! We don’t want to see your no-no parts.

I’ve come to the realization that some of these dress choices are the gateway for someone who will one day be trying out for the TV reality show, “Teen Moms” or worse, anything with the Kardashians in it.

And the shoes…oh dear, the shoes. If you are going to buy and attempt to wear shoes that are 6” high, please practice walking in them a few times so that you don’t look like you have unbendable plastic Barbie legs when you’re walking. It’s not attractive.

So now let’s talk about the makeup. I know the makeup in the 80’s was bad so I probably shouldn’t criticize the current generation’s makeup. They too will probably have to remove their makeup with the help of a chisel and a blow torch. I’ll admit it, but that is the ONLY similarity.

Why are they trying so hard to look like adults? I can assure you that I don’t actually KNOW any adults
who dress this way, but then again, I don’t hang out at strip clubs.

I’ve got to tell you…I sometimes really miss the fashion of years gone by. They left PLENTY to the imagination and most guys weren’t going to try to navigate through the layers and layers of stiff crinoline skirts and taffeta, so it was sort of like a fabric chastity belt.

Now I know that just because a girl dresses in a way that us 80’s kids used to call “easy”, doesn’t necessarily mean they ARE “easy.” But if a girl isn’t “easy” then why in the world would she (or her parents) want everyone to THINK she’s “easy” by the way she’s dressed? Make sense?

Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe I’m just like my Dad, which I’m perfectly okay with. But I am quite confident that my step-daughter will not be looking like a hoochie mama when she goes to her first dance.

Not only because her dad won’t let her dress like one, but because her dad isn’t going to let her date until she’s 35.

The Big C

I am missing a big chunk of my leg this week. No, I didn’t get bitten by a shark or attacked by some criminal with a knife.

I saw my dermatologist.

As many of you know, going to the doctor in general isn’t one of my favorite things to do. It seems like whenever I go to a doctor I end up with something smashed, something violated, or something involving needles or x–rays.

I do not like going to the doctor. I cringe when I hear “This will only hurt for a little bit.”

Seriously?

I don’t want anything to hurt. Ever. Not even for a little bit.

I’ve discovered with age that I seem to be allergic to pain.

Years ago I had a zit on my nose that wouldn’t go away. The more I tried covering it up with makeup, the more it seemed to say “Look at me – I’m not going away!!!”

After about a month of mashing it, I decided to go to the doctor.

He was 150 years old and had glasses so thick that it made his eyeballs look freakishly enormous.

“Hmmmm,” He said. “I think we need to take this off. It’s not a zit. Looks like skin cancer.”

Uhhh, what?

I was only 24 years old. Okay, YES, I had used baby oil and iodine at times to get a tan, and YES, I had gone to the tanning bed when I was younger, but skin cancer? Don’t only old people get skin cancer?

He numbed my nose with a needle that was the size of a railroad tie and felt like it was coming out the back of my head. Then he performed what is called “Mohs” surgery, where they scrape a layer of skin off and then check it for cancer cells. They repeat the process until all of the cancer cells are gone and they have hit clean skin.

He scraped, and scraped, and scraped, and I was afraid I was going to end up with a third nostril.

Finally it was over and there was nothing more that needed to be done. Turns out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma, which wasn’t deadly, but it meant I would need checkups from that point on.

Fast forward 15 years. I’ll admit I became a little lax about going to the dermatologist EVERY year. Who has time for that? My life was too busy.

Then my father was diagnosed with cancer and that changed my thinking.

So I scheduled an appointment with a new dermatologist, this time with someone other than Dr. Kevorkian.

Dr. T is 5’ tall and weighs less than a fifth grader, but she is super sweet and incredibly smart.

She looked me all over and I mean ALL OVER and said “The only thing I’m concerned about is this little mark on your leg.”

“It’s been there for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was a freckle,” I said.

“It’s never changed?”

“No.”

“Well, if it were ME, I’d recommend getting it removed. Since you’re not having any problems with it, it won’t be covered under insurance (of course not!) and will be considered an elective excision but I’d do it if I were you.”

Elective excision? That’s me ASKING to be stuck with needles and cut on?

Hmmm. I’m gonna have to think about that.

So my husband and I talked about it and he said that we’d better be safe than sorry so we scheduled it on the calendar.

The day of the excision, I took a Xanax because as I stated earlier, I am allergic to needles. I also doubled up on my blood pressure medicine. Okay, okay. I might have doubled up on my Xanax also.

She circled the spot on my leg, which was about the size of my pinkie fingernail. The circle, however, was about the size of a golf ball.

Then she pulled out a needle.

“This is only going to hurt for a second.”

Shut. Up.

It did only hurt for a second. But then she stuck it in again, and it hurt for another second. And as she stuck me with the needle ALL THE WAY AROUND THE CIRCLE – about 25 times and I felt it EACH TIME. So for me, that “only hurt for a second” actually lasted over 25 seconds. Just a second. Yeah right.

I couldn’t watch. I stared and focused on Dale and squeezed the blood out of his hand.

Finally it was over. I went home and went to sleep.

Two days later I was allowed to remove the bandages and finally got a good look at it.

Holy cow. When I said golf ball size, I didn’t realize I meant golf ball size deep too. It looked like Hannibal Lector had taken some of my leg for a skin suit.

And the stitches? Clearly, my doctor has never studied plastic surgery. Was she blindfolded when she stitched me up?

My leg looked like Frankenstein’s neck.photo(10)

However…

My irritation quickly dissipated when she called to say that she had “good news and bad news,” which is something you NEVER want to hear from your doctor. (“The good news is we were able to perform your lobotomy. The bad news is that you were in here for an ingrown toenail.”)

For me, the good news was that she got it all.

The bad news? It was Melanoma.

Oh. Dear. God.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified of a doctor in my whole life. Not even with one brandishing a needle at me.

Melanoma? No, it’s not a country in Europe.

Wow. All of those days out in the sun with no sunscreen on had finally caught up with me.

But I got lucky. God answered my hysterical prayers and my promises to feed the children in Calcutta, never miss church on Sunday again, and correct all my wrongdoings if He would let me be okay.

And even though it’s 37 degrees outside, I am heading to the drugstore shortly to buy sunscreen, which I will probably start bathing in.

Just to be safe.

(Friends, if you have not had your skin checked recently, please, PLEASE do so. Did you know that Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer but is one of the easiest to treat if caught early? And even though I write blogs to talk about these things and try to be funny about it, please do not ever skip seeing your doctor. One rough day isn’t worth the consequence of not going.)

Along Came A Spider

I’m a girl. I have a God-given right to be afraid of a lot of things. Mice, snakes, bugs, etc.

Those things, however, do not scare me at all. I mean, I’m not crazy about them and I certainly don’t want them on me, but I’m not really all that scared of them.

I am, however, terrified beyond belief, of spiders.

I don’t care if they are big or small. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a spider that is “small”. They are ALL enormous.

Every hair on my body will stand on end when I see one.

I think it all started when we would spend summers at my grandmother’s house. My cousin, Brian, who is four years younger than me, would throw granddaddy long-legs at me. My hair was really long at the time, so they would get stuck in my hair. Sometimes I didn’t realize he had thrown them in my hair until hours later, when they would get untangled and would scoot across my face, causing me to scream in terror until the culprit was found and destroyed. Although I love him now, I was not Brian’s biggest fan back then.

As an adult my fear of spiders has not faded. If anything, it’s gotten worse.

My ex-husband and I were visiting my great-uncle in Alabama on his farm. We had to drive through a wooded road to get to the farm and I saw him out in the field on his tractor. I rolled down the window to wave at him, when suddenly a huge gray and black spider with equally huge hairy legs appeared out of nowhere and began crawling through the open window into the car.

And disappeared inside.

Did I mention I was in the driver’s seat?

And the car was still moving?

And I jumped out of the moving car on the passenger side?

While somehow my seat belt remained buckled?

My ex-husband and my uncle searched the car high and low until they found it. Which was very smart of them because otherwise I would have just sold the car as is to the highest bidder.

After my divorce, and until my son got older, it was my job to be the spider killer in the house. I was prepared. I kept cans of raid within an arms reach.

Spiders in my house should know upon arrival that they are in serious danger if I see them. You know that old saying “They’re probably just as scared of you as you are of them?” Well that’s just a bunch of malarkey. Even armed with a can of Raid, old shoes and a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bodies, I still break out into a cold sweat at just the sight of them.

One morning I woke up all sleepy and snuggly in my bed. I laid there listening to the bird chirp outside my window and allowed my eyes to adjust to the light.

What a wonderful morning.

That’s when I saw it.

Dead center above my head, on the ceiling, was the enemy.

And he was big. Actually he wasn’t big-big, but as I said earlier, there is no such thing as a small spider.

And he was looking down at me.

I stealth-rolled out of bed, smooth like a Navy Seal. I slowly pulled the pillows off the bed and then the sheets. (After I counter-attacked, I didn’t want spider guts or the occasional severed leg to end up on sheets! Or even worse, God forbid that it should get LOST in my sheets, so I put them in the bathroom. Just in case.)

My son, Matthew walked in the room as I was standing on top of the mattress, shoe in hand, armed and ready to kill. However, I was startled and started to lose my balance when I heard his voice saying “WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING. MOM?”

At that moment, the spider jumped like he was kung-fu fighting.

At me.

Or so I thought.

I threw the shoe at the ceiling and somehow hit my target. I fell on the bed and bounced onto the floor
as if I had hit the trampoline safety netting of a trapeze artist.

I looked around.

Where the heck was it?

Matthew was laughing hysterically.

I tried to calm myself. I mean, good grief – I was almost ambushed by my nemesis WHILE I WAS SLEEPING. He was going to get me while all of my defenses were down. What kind of fair fight is that?

I looked around and found it’s crumpled dead body right where my pillow would have been. And his leg was still hanging from my ceiling.

Gag.

Thankfully his family never came after me for revenge.

Because otherwise I would have just sold the house.

Marriage Medicine: Laughing With Your Spouse

One of the things that I love about my husband, Dale, is that he makes me laugh.

Just a giggle at times. All out belly laughing with tears streaming out of my eyes at other times.

He not only makes me laugh with funny things that he says. He has an incredibly quick wit that always keeps me on my toes. Sometimes we will be listening to a song on the radio and he will start singing lyrics that the songwriter clearly did not plan on being in their song.

There is a song by Bruno Mars called “Grenade” which has the lyrics “I’d step in front of a blade for you.” However, my husband will change the lyrics and instead, sing “I’d sip lemonade for you” or “I’d march in a parade for you” or “I’d wear a beret for you.”

Something that makes absolutely no sense with the rest of the song.

But something that makes me laugh uncontrollably.

And then there’s the dancing. When Dale starts dancing I will giggle for the rest of the day thinking about it.

There’s not a song in the world, or a reason for that matter, that he won’t start dancing to. There’s the “I’m-done-with-work-for-the-day” dance, and the “Hey-is-dinner-ready?” dance. My favorite is his “Super Productive” line of dances – when he’s gotten a lot of work done. They vary from day to day, but here’s how they go…

His dances always crack me up because it’s usually a cross between someone doing the robot and someone roller skating back in 1974. He’s definitely got some groove.

My point is, you have to have fun with your spouse. You have to be able to laugh together, about each other and about other things.

Which brings me to one of my favorite pictures. We were on our honeymoon and were on our way to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I had been driving but started getting a little drowsy so I asked Dale to switch places with me.

He’s 6’2”. I’m 5’2” so I had the drivers seat as close to the steering wheel as I could get.

And this is what happened when he got in the seat to drive.photo(59)

My dearest friend saw the photo after we returned home.

“How did you even get a girl like Dana?” she said.

We laughed, because Dale got a girl like me, for the same reason that he got a girl that makes a face like this:
photo(8)
And we still laugh about it.