Archive for December 2012

An Open Letter to Dr. Tuigim

I have known you for a long time.  I loved you as soon as I met you.  You are super nice, hilarious, and brilliant.  I have so many fond memories from high school, classes we had together, marching band moments.  You could and still can always make me laugh.  You are the best shopping partner.  I have too many nights to remember that we partied together…

Which leads me to my next point.  Because you had the courage to admit that you had a drinking problem, you gave me the courage to do the same.  I don’t know if I would have done it had you not done it first.  You could never really grasp how grateful I am for that.  Thank you.

You’ve also “fixed” me because you “get me.”  I’ve seen too many doctors to count, attempting in vain to find the right medicinal cocktail to balance my bipolar disorder.  It was never right until you.  You understand.  You listen, you really listen.  You care.  As soon as you prescribed my new medication, I noticed a huge difference.  I’ve never felt more me.  If that makes sense.  The medication I was on before I saw you was making me feel numb, emotionless.  I couldn’t write.  I couldn’t do anything.  Because of your insight and knowledge and the fact that you truly care, I feel like I’ve gotten my life back.  In a sense, you’ve saved my life.  This might sound over-the-top, but it’s true.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  I don’t think I’d be where I am now without you.

So I just wanted to thank you for being my friend.  My doctor.  My inspiration to change.

Merry Christmas, Dr. Tuigim.

The Story of Gary

Gary Gibson likes Facebook.

Even more than I like it.  And I’m a hardcore junkie.  He likes that he’s met so many “cool people” on the social network, people he’d never have met otherwise.  People like me!

Gary likes Facebook, but he loves his family on a whole other level.  His son Brandon is 7.  He also has a daughter, Melissa, 30.  Gary is 54.  

He never thought he and wife, Char, would have children together.  Char had 5 miscarriages before they received the blessing of Brandon.  People often ask Gary if he is Brandon’s grandpa.  Well, sometimes they ask.  More often, they assume.  Gary gets a kick out of that.

He was 36 when he got married to Char.  She was 28.  When Brandon was born, he was 47, and Char was 40.  They were very surprised at first that she was even pregnant to begin with.  “We had given up trying just because of her physical nature. Didn’t use any kind of birth control - didn’t think it was feasible. I was probably more excited than she was. The biggest concern at that point was, is she going to be able to carry it?”  Due to all of Char’s miscarriages, the couple was very nervous about the pregnancy.

“For a lot of those years before Brandon happened…quite honestly, I…wasn’t too ‘gung ho’…for some reason years later…a month or two before Brandon…I had been doing some soul searching….realizing I’d been pretty selfish…started to pray about it pretty hard…if it happened, I told God I’d be the best husband and father I could be…”  Gary is concentrating hard as he relives those heartfelt prayers he sent God’s way before Brandon was born.
“I feel very strongly that it’s because of my own desire and mental framework…I prayed and I was sincere about it…it’s been a blessing at my age now,” Gary says.

Of his first child, Melissa, he says, “I was a single father when she was growing up…I wasn’t a good father…when she was 4 or 5 her mother gave me custody. I raised her all those years…I really just wasn’t ready,” he admits.  “When I got custody of Missy I was married, but it wasn’t Missy’s mother. It was a strain on my marriage.”  Gary says that although the fact that he had a child didn’t cause his first divorce, it did prove difficult.  “With Brandon, of course you learn…”

“For the most part,” Gary attests, “I think I’ve done a good job…I wouldn’t give him up for the world.  But I think about, if it’s fair to him…” his voice trails off as he refers to his being an older parent and starting the child-rearing process all over again.

There have been other obstacles in the course of Gary’s marriage to Char.  “My wife just had her second knee replacement.  Before we started dating, she was in a major car accident.  A propane truck ran a four-way stop and broadsided her, crushed her right foot.  She walked with a pretty bad limp…it caused arthritis in her knees.  The second replacement was worse,” he says.  I can tell by the way he speaks of Char that he loves her very deeply.

Despite the trials life has presented, the unknown factors with pregnancy, the physical and emotional pain a severe accident brings into one’s life, and the ups and downs of fatherhood, “Right now life’s good,” Gary says. 

“I take it day by day.  I don’t take anything for granted.”
I always look forward to Gary’s Facebook posts.



Say that name more than a week ago and no one would have flinched.  Now, it is ingrained in our brains and on our hearts forever.  

It is so unfair.  It makes me so angry I can’t even find the right words.  The right words will never manifest for any of us.  It’s just not fair.

Parents should never have to bury their children.  Especially in this case, a case of senseless violence.  How can we as parents feel safe in this world, even sending our children to school?  I’m so afraid.  There are knots in my stomach as I type this.  What is this world coming to?

Like always, mental illness becomes the focal point as soon as the dust has settled surrounding the details of the murder itself.  Murders.  Children.  So many young children, and then many of the adults who cared for, protected, and educated them.  They are and will forever remain heroes.  And the sweet children who died at the hands of this cold-blooded killer will forever be angels until they are reunited once again with the mommies and daddies and friends and relatives who will always love them.

Our country is mourning right now.  This should never have happened.  Nothing like this should ever happen.  As always, right alongside the raised awareness of mental illness, comes the debate about gun control.  When is enough, enough?  When will we actually stop to take the time to discuss these pertinent issues when it’s not the aftermath of a tragedy?
Now is the time.

Now is the time to focus on issues that have been swept under the rug for far too long.  We need to talk about gun control.  No one is trying to take away your right to hunt.  But there is no reason anyone needs weapons designed for assault.  I know there are many out there who disagree with me.  But I don’t see why any of us need guns that are only designed to kill people and not hunt for food.

Mental illness is obviously something I feel strongly about.  We should be talking about mental illness nonstop in this country.  It affects everyone, whether or not you are personally diagnosed.  The gunman is said to have been afflicted, and this has affected everyone.

Details are slowly emerging regarding motive, background, and upbringing of the killer.  Regardless, we will never have the exact answers we want, because there aren’t any.  There are never sensible answers when it comes to mindless acts of violence such as this.

So all we can do…all we can do is remember the victims…the children who should never have had to deal with this, not in this lifetime, not ever.  The teachers such as Victoria Soto who hid her students in the closet while she perished at the hands of the gunman.  I have chills right now just typing this.  She is a true hero.  She will forever be.  I’d like to think we all would have done the same thing she did, but I don’t know.  I am in awe.

If you have a heart, and a soul, this story about Sandy Hook has touched you.  It’s touched all of us on a very visceral level, hit us in places and in ways we don’t like to generally talk about, because it is just too painful.  I want to be informed, but the more I learn about this story, the less I want to know.  I have a six-year-old…
It’s just too painful.

The victims need to be remembered.  Looking at pictures of these children, however…I can’t.  I just can’t.  I’ve been praying for these families nonstop since the news broke.  Praying for the gunman’s family.  Praying for our nation.  This is not a political issue.  Now, more than ever, we need to unite.  If something like this doesn’t unite us, then what will?  It’s not a red/blue matter.  It is a heart matter.

If you believe in a higher power, please pray.  If you don’t, please send positive thoughts to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.  Right now, it’s all we can do.

Rest in peace, Sweet Angels.

I’d like to talk about my family this week.  From the outside, I think we look “normal.”  We definitely didn’t start out that way.

I met Andy when I was twenty-six.  I was wild.  I’d been dating everyone in the tri-county area for…a while.  By the time he came along, I was done with men.  One of my friends wanted to set us up, but I didn’t want to be set up.  I reluctantly agreed to meet him.
As soon as I saw those dimples, I was a goner.

Andy and I dated for a few months, but I was getting ready to move away (which is why I didn’t want to be set up) so I took steps to break up with him.

Then I found out I was pregnant.

It was rough.  We didn’t get back together just because I was carrying his child.  I’d already determined marriage wasn’t for me.  Well, neither were kids, but…the universe and my uterus had other plans.

Andy still came with me to every single doctor’s appointment.  We did the Lamaze thing (I don’t recommend it.  At least, not in the awkward circumstance with your ex-boyfriend) and overall, he was great.  We just had other issues, and I wasn’t ready to commit to him because of that.

Adele was born on February 12, 2006.  She was perfect.  Andy bought me flowers.  I’ll never forget how wonderful I felt after I had that baby.  The Vicodin had nothing to do with it.  Okay, maybe a little.

Andy began sleeping on the couch in my apartment to help with the baby.  We’d wake in the night together and stay up with her.  

One night it happened.

We were back in love.  I was ecstatic.  Sure, the pre-marital counseling we went through told us eleventy times the odds are against us because first came the baby carriage, then came love…then marriage.  But so far, so good.
Eleanor was born on December 31, 2008.  I loved it because Andy got to experience every single thing with me during this pregnancy.  We were a family.  

My kids couldn’t be more different.  Eleanor is a ball of energy like Andy.  Adele is already a writer like me.  It’s been amazing to watch them grow up.  I never thought I’d have this, and not a day goes by that I don’t fully appreciate everything about it.

Andy and I are also polar opposites.  He’s country, I’m city.  He’s laid-back, I’m an overanalyzing lunatic.  I think we balance each other out, though.  I never thought I’d end up with someone like him, but I feel so lucky that I did.  I love and cherish everything about him, and I need to tell him that more often.  We have so much fun every day, just joking around, being goofy.  Sure, we fight.  But making up is great.

So while I might not have the most unique family on the planet, it is very special to me.  I love them all so much my heart could burst just thinking about them.  This almost didn’t happen.

I thank sweet merciful Jesus every day that I was careless with my birth control.

An Interview with the Young Family

Caleb's Dream Trip

The Beatles said all you need is love. 

Being in the presence of the Young family, I have never seen that sentiment come to life more.  I used to teach with Kent Young and always found him to be a great friend, wonderful listener, and from the way he spoke of his family, a true hero.  He is a great husband and father.  I recently had the pleasure of meeting his family, and let me just say - they are an inspiration.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been so moved by such a pure, genuine love that strongly radiates among the entire family.

Kent’s wife, Janelle (who happens to be beautiful), teaches pre-school. So she’s also a saint.  She’s an artist, too, who is vibrant, funny, and full of life.  She, along with the rest of the family, likes to read.  She also likes to have fun while being a devoted mother and wife.

Sophia, Kent and Janelle’s daughter, (who also happens to be beautiful and is the spitting image of Mom) is 13…but she is anything but typical.  Sure, she likes to do the same stuff her friends do; she likes being a cheerleader, she likes to dance in her basement where she’s hung posters of her favorite musicians – Greyson Chance seems to be the fave.  She is also, however, equipped with a maturity beyond her years.  She is very maternal when it comes to her brother Caleb, 23, who has Tetrasomy 18p. 
Caleb has to be one of the most special people ever in existence.  Kent said his parents and sister really helped with Caleb when he was little, when he spent 7 years in and out of a children’s hospital.  He did therapeutic horseback riding when he was younger.  He comes home often for visits, as he lives in a group home and works at a food bank, sorting and helping to deliver groceries to the elderly.  He also loves the Jesters drama group he is a part of, which puts on a variety show featuring special needs adults every spring.
And Caleb just happens to be the most loving human being on the planet.  I feel truly blessed to have met him.  It is impossible to be in a bad mood when he’s around.  He simply loves everyone, and he’ll tell you that.  He is very affectionate and kind, with such a fun, uplifting personality.  He is a self-proclaimed “ladies man.”  He likes llamas.  Said his mom about Caleb’s phone tendencies, “He likes to role play on the phone.  He becomes a doctor who takes care of people or animals, or a magician in the circus…his imagination is amazing!”  Janelle added, “Aunt Kris usually fills this need in his life - she is now better than me at it!”  He is just such a pure, good-hearted person.  It might sound strange, but when you’re around him…

You can feel the presence of God.

It is obvious since I’ve spent time with Caleb and the rest of the family that they realize what a miracle he is.  This family loves each other fiercely, and they teared up more than once while talking about it.  I really felt that it was a privilege to witness such a display of love and caring.  I think that’s rare in the world today.

Caleb’s sister Sophia had an idea a while back.  Caleb has always wanted to swim with the dolphins.  His family said he has never asked for anything – not once – in his life.  But he really wants to swim with dolphins.  So Sophia began making and selling dolphin sun catchers to raise money for Caleb to go to Florida where they have a program that allows those with special needs to swim with the dolphins.  It’s supposed to be very healing.  Sophia needs $15,000 total in order to pay for her brother to do this.  Especially after meeting Caleb, I want to help more than ever.  And you can, too.  If you’d like to contribute, you can buy sun catchers for $3 each by sending money to:  Caleb’s Dream Trip c/o Bippus State Bank, P.O. Box 519, Roanoke, IN, 46783.  Sophia has also set up a Facebook page titled “Caleb’s Dream Trip” where there is more information.

I love this family.  And I would love for Caleb to be able to achieve his dream and swim with the dolphins.  It is the Christmas season…the spirit of giving is in the air.  And even though we know from the Youngs that all you need is love…
Sun catchers make great stocking stuffers.

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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