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September 12, 2011


by Heather

 Well, you know all good things come to an end, but you hold on. And time still goes by.

 As in children growing up.

I know you have to let go. I've done that. No, really. Okay, sorta, maybe, just a little. I want them to have the best life possible. I just wish it could be with them all somehow kids forever and with me. Impossible, I know. 

Summer comes, and it's great, because I know I'll get to see all of them. A number of the conventions are in the New York or New England area, so I'll get to see My three sons Derek, one of my 3 sons. And Chynna, my youngest daughter, is home from college.

So the summer started off with a bang. Convention city. And it always ends with a convention, my own benefit, "Writers for New Orleans."


But after that, bringing Chynna back to school.

Erin, paul, kathy, heather In New Orleans, we're so busy that we don't know what we're doing. We try very hard to provide great panels and great night life, so there are a million things to set up. These are things I'd be totally incapable of doing alone, so, thankfully, amazing Louisiana friend Connie Perry does all that. But there are the little things. Like discovering that although I'd spent a week writing the bios for “Bourbon Street Bash, Know Your Civil War Characters,” a theme party thrown by Kathy Love, Erin McCarthy, and F. Paul Wilson, we hadn't seen until Kathy is trying on her costume that Julia Dent Grant had suddenly turned into Judy Dent Grant on the cover. 


We redid the booklets, finding a few more mistakes along the way. (And still missed the fact that someone died in 1995 instead of 1885!) Ah, well. 

But there was also Helen Rosburg's “Angelique” champagne reception to get ready--although weather kept Helen herself from flying in. Heather, civil war zombies Then, setting up our amazing band--and they were amazing. F. Paul Wilson again, my friend--and vocal coach for many an American Idol finalist!--Mary Walkley, Chris Croteau, a professional who stumbled in through friend and poet Corinne De Winter, Greg Varecchio, husband of writer Jennifer Hughes, and Bobby Rosello--lifelong friend dragged along. Wow. What they managed in two days--never having worked all together before--was amazing. And there were the rehearsals with the cast, of Heather and Harley, know your Civil War characters course, for "Civil War Zombies for Peace" (including our Harley, another true professional who somehow allows herself to indulge in twenty-four hour low-budge dinner theater, and Alex Sokoloff, and Vegas entertainers Lance Taubold and Rich Devin and a lot of my family. And Connie's family. We don't call it interactive for nothing.)

My little nephews are there, a little freaked out when see Auntie Heather Graham, Derek, Chynna and the rest of the family in zombie make-up, but, hey, they're troopers. 

 The panels, thankfully, are managed by other friends and include great authors and editors. It was a challenge this year because Irene was rolling around out there. It never got bad, but it was pretty wet. Luckily, attendees were undaunted.

Heather_haunt_mort The last night was a trip to the Haunted Mortuary. It wasn't open at the time, but they arranged a "behind the scenes" tour for us. No actors yet to jump out at people, but . . . I'm not sure I'd manage it if there had been. The place was used as a mortuary for many years, and the original embalming room remains,and a crematorium--it was a "full service" mortuary. If you're in New Orleans any time around Halloween (or Christmas! Turns into a great place for little ones!) you must go--it's truly scary and amazing.

The point is that the whole thing is crazy and busy, and there isn't time to get weepy.

Then . . . .

Then it is time to get weepy. It comes to an end, and Dennis and I take off in a plane to take Chynna back to California. My son Derek and daughter-in-law have already flown back to Connecticut, and the rest of the family is headed to Miami.  

        Chynna_skye_miss_scarlet I know how to let go. I know to be a grown up and allow my children to fly and have great lives and go where they need to go and do what they need to do.

  It doesn't mean that I don't get to cry when they fly away.



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Heather, I'm no help at all. When my 11-year old left for 2 weeks of "no contact from parents" camp this summer, I was a wreck. I'm not cut out for the Empty Nest syndrome.

Our two oldest were so ready to go it was a tiny bit easier than with the two youngest whose disabilities made it frigtening. Just for me? I don't know. But not for them.

Commercial on TV these days for Suburu, the one where Dad is saying "Don't talk on your phone while driving, don't text" to a three year old in the driver's seat. In exasperation, she giggles and says, "Okayyyyyy, Dad." He relents and hands over the keys to a suddenly 16 year old girl who carefully backs out of the driveway, waves, and heads down the street. "Call me!" Dad yells out. "But not while you're driving."

Truth to tell, I wouldn't have had that much a problem.... unless she tried to ditch the SWAT escort that would have followed my child (had I had one) wherever she went.

What? I can't have a SWAT team escort my daughter through Life? Uh oh....

My daughters were both traveling yesterday on 9/11, and although I KNOW they're safe (fighter jet escorts for some airliners!) I was nevertheless on pins & needles, waiting to hear from them last night. Whew. Being a mother never ends.

Your family looks as if they're having a blast, Heather! (And that's one way to keep 'em coming back to the fold!)

I don't want to talk about it.

But the NOLA weekend looks like a blast! I have vowed to go back - but not until after the first frost. Will have to check out the mortuary!

My son has been away at school since his junior year in high school.
I miss him terribly.
I know he is alright but it still just scares me to pieces when I don't hear from him.
I can't imagine my life without him.
Okay so I'm still a tad clingy.

I lost my 9-year old in the park this weekend for about 4 minutes. I find his scooter lying on the ground, but he was nowhere in sight. Suddenly it was like the prologue of a Law & Order SVU episode, the perfectly lovely day in the park that turns Dark & Evil.

It turns out he'd found a school friend and was lost in a crowd of people having a party. And couldn't understand why I was Crazy Mom when I found him.

Yeah, I'm a tad clingy too.

I flew home yesterday, so the time came and went. I'm lucky that three of them do live here, and we do see each other with real frequency--I'm thankful. They grew up to be people I really like, and they still like to spend time with me. Strange, though, I was afraid to fly, and the kids thought it was going to be the best day; they were right. My super-nice flight attendant told me that every single one of them felt a little edge going to work--but that they wanted to do it. And that they all spent the day calling kids, husbands, friends and lovers, letting them all know that all was going well. We're human. We care. I like that about us!

Princess One, now a 4th grader informed me today that I did not need to walk her into school anymore. And no more hugs in the building.

Fortunately she still indulged me snuggling her tight yesterday. She's ten years and 15 days old today. I showed her some of the pictures from the memorial at the St. Louis Art Museum, and having to explain why there were just under 3000 flags on the hillside.


Your post is so timely for the way I've been feeling.

When my son was born, I remember actually thinking, "this is a treasure I'm not supposed to keep." So I've always been preparing to turn him loose on the world. That being said, he's now a sophomore at Cal State Long Beach which is about 30 minutes from our house, but he lives in the dorms so we don't see him very often. This summer he got a car so I don't even need to drive over to campus to bring him home for the weekend.

That one little change, of the car, and I suddenly feel the loss. I want him to grow up, but I miss him already.

Harley, oh my god, I have to go lie down after reading that. Four minutes. Unbearable. An eternity. Hugs you. His scooter on the ground. Really, i'm llimp just imagining your terror. Must go lie down now. That little rascal!!!!!

Oh, Heather, what a cool mom you are. Your children want to come back when you set them free -- and that's a good thing.

I'm with NancyP, in the horror-by-proxy mode. When my oldest daughter was three we were shopping at a big regional mall. We were in one of the anchor department stores at the end of the mall, with four doors surrounding us: One to the mall (which also has two exit doors immediately outside that one), and three to the parking lots on all three sides. She vanished in one split second, and I spent a horrifying 10 minutes frantically rushing from door to door, calling for her.

I went back to stand near where I had lost her hand, and heard a tiny little giggle. The little imp had been hiding inside a round rack the entire time.

Makes you realize why they invented those ridiculous leashes for little kids.

Thank goodness you found him, Harley. There, there.

Yesterday our Alderman came to a neighborhood picnic, and after talking about local issues, stayed for food and informal chatting. He then shared a story about his pre-school daughter smacking a 10-year-old bully who pushed her away from the controls of the "tornado maker" at the science center in Nashville. The bully's father then grabbed him by the ear and led him away saying, "Son, you are not to push little girls." (Darned right, a person could get hurt trying that). Gus says he's not worried about his three girls when they start dating. Now perhaps she will need the "use your words" lesson at some point, but I think she will be taking nothin' from nobody . . .
Learning to stand up for oneself is a major survival skill. Someone once told me that I've not encountered the supposedly fairly high numbers of abusive men because they are attracted to more passive potential victims, so they would be turned off by my assertiveness (which we did consciously practice in the '70's with "assertiveness training") -- so perhaps we should teach deliberate contrariness early in relationships? Friday? no, busy then, how about Saturday? Chinese food? no, I think Italian tonight . . .

I can tell that I was not cut out to be a mother - I would want the child to be surgically attached to me for about thirty years, unless I was blessed with offspring who were obnoxious enough that I couldn't wait for them to reach the age of majority! When my oldest nephew was a toddler, I was a nervous wreck visiting my sister's family for the afternoon because my sister let him go out - ALL BY HIMSELF - to play in the backyard. How could she DO that??

I'm a neurotic big sister, too, for that matter: my youngest sister has a form of MS that has become more and more progressive over the years. She lived alone for a number of years until needing to go to a nursing home about sixteen months ago. A few months before she moved to the nursing home, I received a call at work from a supervisor from the home care agency that sent nurses and aides to her apartment. The supervisor told me that my sister's aide had called the office, distraught, because when she arrived at my sister's apartment, not only was the door unlocked, it was open and my sister was not home! Her walker was in the living room. The supervisor asked me if I knew whether or not she had a doctor's appointment that day. As far as I knew, she didn't, and she would have taken her walker with her. The supervisor and I started calling the area hospitals, but she wasn't in any of the E/Rs. Finally, I decided to call the police and explain the situation. An officer was sent to meet me at work. He asked a lot of questions and then determined that we should go to her apartment so he could investigate for signs of "trouble". At her apartment, he was not happy to see that the door was not locked. (We could never get her to keep that door locked.) He checked her phone for recent calls, looked around a bit, asked some more questions, and then - I almost threw up at this point - he asked me for a recent photograph of her "just in case." We decided that I should walk across the parking lot to the local senior center -it just happened that she lived on the same block as the center - to find out if they had arranged transportation for her for an appointment. While I was walking across the parking lot, I received a call on my cell phone from the nursing agency supervisor - they had checked with a social worker at another agency that looked in on her, and it turned out that the other agency had sent someone to give her a ride to the dentist AND she had taken with her another walker that she used just for going out to appointments!!

I asked myself how parents who lose a child for a couple of minutes in a store manage to retain their sanity before spotting the child down the aisle! I cannot imagine the sadness of living without a child who dies or permanently vanishes.

You are SUCH a cool mom!

And I love those dresses..

Not a mom, but am a godmother/fairy godmother. I don't know how I would react if it were me....but being the FGM also means that I am able to calm a situation, encourage breathing and determining what action to take. :)

As for losing a child, it doesn't matter what age according to my mom. A child is a child is a child.

I so agree with your mom--a child is a child is a child--and mine used to tell me that, too!

Although I have no children of my own, my experience of watching nieces and nephews and friends' children growing up has me fairly well convinced that there's no way we'd ever let them out of the crib if it weren't so darned much fun watching them learn, explore, practice skills like discovering that their foot belongs to them, then the other one, and like climbing over the side of the bed to practice walking . . . .
If I see a child on the sidewalk, I have to immediately identify where her/his parent/grandparent/nanny is, or I'm stopped in my tracks, searching to make sure the little one is ok. An empty nest for me (if I'd been fortunate to have a 'full' one) would be as hollow as Carnegie Hall on a dark night . . . lonely and worse.

It's hard to remember this most of the time, but the whole point of parenthood is to raise children to be self-reliant, responsible adults. Part of that is to let them fail, and part of it is for them to test the boundaries by getting into some sometimes dicey situations.

Like my grandson, who last weekend nearly caused me heart failure when he followed four deer into the woods in our yard. It's just a teeny little copse of trees, and when deer are cornered they will defend themselves with hooves, if necessary.

Heather, did you feel the same way about your sons? Just curious.

Actually, I know how much you love them, and you know how much I love mine......You are a remarkable Mother, loving caring, giving, sharing......

I used to visit residents of a local nursing home for my church. I became friends with an 82 year old resident who was a great-grandmother. She told me that her own mother was still living and was a very sharp 104 years old! She was in a different nursing home. My friend said that she had to be careful about what she told her mother because her mother constantly worried about her, and was apparently concerned that the daughter's needs would not be met because the daughter might not speak up and let the nursing staff know about any specific problems she might be experiencing! "Just because you are a great-grandmother doesn't mean I don't worry about you!"

. . . which is why I jumped on a plane last minute and flew to NY on 9/11 because I had come back from that EXCELLENT weekend with you in New Orleans (check out my Facebook page!!) and needed to lay eyes on my babies since Irene had blown through Amityville where my sons live. Babies. Right. One is 24 and the other 28. And, what did I discover? I'm going to be grandmother. See? When you let go, by some crazy way, the love multiplies. My son and his wife are going to have our first grandchild. And, girl, I am crying. I might even have to move back to NY . . . how can I miss these precious moments??

And yeah! Granny!

All these lost child stories reminded me of a found child story and since it's so late this won't be a topic hijack I hope.

Before we moved way out here, and before cell phones, we used to come visit because this is where my husband grew up. One trip, on our way back to Portland, out on a very desolate section of Hwy 31 we saw a dog ahead on the road. He was just standing there watching the car come so we stopped. Good thing we did because on the side of the road was a three year old boy. Out in the middle of nowhere! We asked him where he lived, he couldn't tell us. We asked him where he was going, to see dad. We tried to get him in the car but he did not want to and we didn't want to force it. So I stayed and my husband drove off to look for houses in the direction the child appeared to be walking from. Fifteen minutes later he was back with the boy's grandma, who was quite upset. She had been fixing lunch for a huge crew that was helping her son brand his calves. The boy was on his way to help. We told her we never would have seen him if not for the dog. She said that was the stupidest dog they owned. I said not stupid, just smart in a different way.

I'm lucky that three of them do live here, and we do see each other with real frequency--I'm thankful. They grew up to be people I really like, and they still like to spend time with me. Strange, though, I was afraid to fly, and the kids thought it was going to be the best day; they were right. My super-nice flight attendant told me that every single one of them felt a little edge going to work--but that they wanted to do it. And that they all spent the day calling kids, husbands, friends and lovers, letting them all know that all was going well. We're human. We care.

I so get this. I just took my twins back for their senior year at college and I know deep inside that they will most likely be moving quite far away when school is over. I keep thinking I may just have had my last summer of them at home ever. It makes me happy and proud that they've grown up to be such amazing adults, but sad that they are ready to move on when I am not sure that I am....then again, everyone tells me that they almost always come back.....lol

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