A Big Event and A Little Conversation

Well, it seems that nothing much is going on lately. While I think this is probably a good thing for my personal growth, it doesn't give me much material to work with. And I do so love material.

So, I'll post this little exchange here to show just how uninteresting my life is right now. My 21-year-old son recently moved to Lake Tahoe for a year-long project and had to shop for the basics to equip his new apartment. (I have to tell you that just the other day I was driving along the highway, looking around, and spotted a Red Roof Inn that I would think of as being in the middle of nowhere if I didn't know what was just beyond the exit ramps and thought about how this kid road-tripped across the country alone with a GPS and no hotel reservations. He was stressed the week before he left, and I could tell he was nervous when he got to town before he found his apartment. But he did it. He saw the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, FLagstaff, Las Vegas on a Saturday night, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, and some others I know I'm forgetting. (I was texted all of two pictures along the way.) He did it a lot excited but a little afraid. What a lesson he taught me. At 21, I couldn't have written a check. So as much as I diss on the Spawn - and will continue to do so because it's a lot of how we express love - I couldn't be more happy about him. My life's joy, I tell ya, my life's joy. But you probably knew that.)

Anyway, back to the exchange. Boyz. Ugh.

“I bought all kinds of stuff for the bathroom. Shower curtain....”

“Ooo, what color?”

“Shower curtain color.”


“I think it’s a tan color.”

“K, what else?”

“A trash can.”

“Ooo, what color?”

“Trash can color.”


“It’s white.”

“K, what else?”

“A bath mat.”

“Ooo, what color?”

“I don’t really remember.”

“Does it match the shower curtain? Complement it?”


“How could you not remember what color it is? You just bought it 4 hours ago.”


“Well, what’s your theme in there?”

“My theme is BATHROOM."

“Fine, I guess we should change the subject now?”

“Good idea.”

“What about the kitchen?”

“I’ll just save us some time here. The theme in there is KITCHEN.”

A Post-Single Mom Trifecta

If you know me at all, you know I have organized a little community around Post-Single Motherhood. I defined it in 2009 and had some wonderful support creating and publishing it. Both watching it grow and connecting with women going through the same struggles and triumphs have been invaluable for my (any day now) recovery. The website is here. The Facebook page is here. The local chapter is here. I blog on that site as well, but this week's post is a crossover into the heartstrings of my personal life, so I'm posting it here as well. Ridin' redundant this month.

I've always said that PSMing is a grieving process, and while I absolutely do not mean to minimize the actual unbearable loss of a child, I stand by my belief that being a post-single mom can, at times, be a distant second.

I had picked a really good theme for January: intuition. We'll get to it, because it is so important. We single moms transition from factual, methodical, list-making machines to thinking of ourselves as unproductive and useless. We slowly begin to think from our hearts, not from our heads, and learn how to listen to this new place, this intuition. Ah, change. Is there no end? But, I need to put that aside for a minute because I've been blindsided with a PSM trifecta and feel the need to expose myself a little related to the depths of pain we PSMers can experience. This has been one helluva quarter.

In November, a friendship of 11 years ended with a long series of nasty, name-calling, and, I need to say because I never responded in kind, incoming texts. So, my ruminating began (and has yet to end). Is the quality of my friendships so low that they can end so quickly and with such meanness and no second thought? Am I that unworthy? Am I that bad at being and recognizing a true friend? I admit I didn't have a lot of experience at any kind of adult relationship while raising my son. I was so driven, so financially focused. And, after all, and I know other single moms and post-single moms understand this: I had a best friend. My Spawn. (Poor kid.)

In December, I lost a dear friend and fellow PSMer to alcoholism. 2012 was her 5th year of recovery from Stage 3 breast cancer. She had a 17-year-old daughter who was just looking into colleges and a 20-year-old son who had recently transferred to a school 90 minutes away. She was alone over the Christmas holidays, as was I, but we didn't check in with each other in time. We were supposed to go to the movies the Thursday night before Christmas, but she couldn't go because she said the kids were coming over. Patricia was the coolest gal pal I ever had. Just cool. And inspiring and positive and supportive and so fun and funny. We clicked. I knew she was fighting a battle but really thought it was something we could overcome once she got through that initial blast of aloneness. I was wrong. I value the fact that we met through the local PSM group here in Indianapolis and that I think we were a huge help to each other her last two years here. We got tattoos together in October and had such a fun time that day. She taught me so much about empathy and patience and kindness and openness and peace and acceptance. I loved her and told her so and for that I am truly grateful. And so sad.

This brings us to January. In less than two weeks, Spawn, recently college graduated (a year early if you're thinking you lost time somewhere), is road tripping to Nevada for a year-long job as a botanist for the Bureau of Land Management in Lake Tahoe. Yes, I know, the lucky bastard. LOL. I'm ecstatic for him. And proud. Yes. Yes, I am. Yes. Definitely. But it's damn near the west coast. I'm in the midwest. I'm from the south. This is no place I've ever been before, so I feel even more distant not knowing anything about what he's going to experience. What if he gets lost? What if a cowboy wants to fight him? (He's not a fast draw.) What if he runs out of Burger King coupons? What if he gets nibbled on by a bear? For the first time, I can't get to him in a day. Of course, I can by plane. Of course. But it still feels a world away.  Mostly, though, he's just gone....again. When does all this leaving stop?

I usually like to pinpoint a Stage so I can identify it, get to know it, and work through it, but I can't even pick one. Though, I know I'm not irritated or anxious, because I haven't resorted to watching Brady Bunch episodes yet. Jane Austen movies, yes, but not the Brady Bunch. I suppose that's healing and hopeful. Rehab. And talking to you has helped. :)

Five weeks, four - teebajillion lists, three moves, two deaths, but only one meltdown in a pear tr......er, cubicle

I love a good list. I love making it, I love organizing it by time of day or priority, and I especially love crossing things off it. So, you can imagine how happy I’ve been the last five weeks. Moving me. moving my son and moving half the house to the Homeless Veterans Foundation has required lists to keep up with lists that keep up with other lists. Two households since July 15th. Dependencies that require spreadsheets. Too many phone calls with Customer Service. Too much cleaning. Documentation. And sweating. Yes, some sweating has occurred. But the lists! The silver lining in it all.

Everything ended last Tuesday with my driving away from Bloomington to my new tiny home with no television. I should be grieving now, but I’m not. Last year involved two weeks of unexpected crying jags. This year, nothing. Just relief. Relief at nothing to do, nothing to think about, nothing to worry about. Not even dinner or finagling around someone else’s nighttime work schedule or what silly reality TV show is gonna tick me off for being on the air in the first place.

Until today. Some song played that I don’t know the name of but remember being popular during a particularly emotional time of my life. And there it was taking its sweet time: the meltdown. It’s natural, I know, and there could be more to come.

But, the spawn is happy. Instead of a shrug and a “whatever”, I hear about him handling his new life with a spring in his step. It’s fun for me to think about. It’s the one thing I’ve really hoped for. So, that has minimized the sadness of it all.

Although, if I continue to connect the dots of grief, I have resorted to watching a few DVDs of Season One of the Brady Bunch. The ones when the kids were young and just starting their new family and Mike and Carol couldn’t keep their hands off each other, especially when they were answering the front door together.

Yea, I’d say there could be more meltdowns to come. When I start watching Mary Tyler Moore again with my usual glee at her life, I’ll know I’ve weathered the storm and made it, after all.

My How The Years Have Flown

Dammit, it seems that I’ve become attached to my son again and just in time for his August repeat departure. I swore this wouldn’t happen. In fact, how did it happen? It shouldn’t have, because we had some severe growing pains and a few not-so-clean fights this summer. I never thought in May that I’d feel this way by July. But, here he goes. Again.


I wonder now, while it is still July, how my separation period will compare to last year's. Then, I was better in a week or two. Now, it could take longer, because this is a real move (for the both of us). It involves purging and separating our stuff and purchasing new grown-up stuff and putting rent payments and utilities in his name. And for two full years. And, likely, for good.

Plus, I’m going to the south-side of things – where’s the attraction in that? At least this year I had the north on my side. He’d come home for a few days just to be within crawling distance of his friends. I do still have the dog, but she wasn’t much of a draw last year no matter how hard I tried (I’d send pictures, I’d even put her on the phone and give play-by-plays when I made him say HEY to her, but nothing ever was enough to come home very often). The bed and the quiet were the only real sellers, and he’s taking those with him.

Although, he will have his truck with him this year…..and a house with five other college boys. Maybe my stock will go up in time for the holidays. In the meantime, I'll watch you go and wish you oodles of happiness. Be a good boy and make lots of friends and be nice to the girls and have lots of fun and learn lots of biological stuff. And call me and the dog on Sunday afternoons.

Happy Birthday, You, Wherever You Are

June 25th, nineteen years ago, at 1:23pm, Austin interrupted a particularly good episode of All My Children by FINALLY insisting on being born. If you see him, please, please, please sing to him. As loud as you can. And, preferably, while squeezing his cheeks. He loves that.

With each of his big events of late (18th birthday, graduation, the dropping off at college scenario, and so on), I post this video*, because it fits how I feel. I couldn't be happier about the man he's become, but I couldn't be sadder about his getting older and dragging me with him.

*Yes, I do other maternal stuff, too, like researching banana pudding recipes (which will hopefully go from research to implementation phase before June ends), putting a check inside a card (which is much more personal than transferring money at ourbank.com), and making reservations (nothing says "I love you" like a McCormick and Schmick's dinner).

And He's Back

Austin got news recently that a great aunt in Atlanta committed suicide. She left no note, had just remarried her ex-husband and was preparing for her son to return from Iraq at the end of the month. Austin didn’t really know her and neither did I when I was married to his father, but it’s sad all the same.

“Dad called and told me that he went to the wake today. Betty’s son was there. They let him come home early to attend the funeral. Ironic, huh?”

“Yea, that is so sad. Poor kid.”

“He has a bunch of stuff in California, so he and his father are going to fly out there to get it and then take some time to drive back and see the country.”

“Oh, that’ll be FUN.”



“I’d love to do that. Wouldn’t you?”

“Uhhh, I think it’s supposed to help the kid get over his mother blowing herself up with a shotgun. Nice, Mother. Very nice.”

“Oh, yea. I didn’t mean FUN fun. I just meant that it would be a cool trip to take.”

“AGAIN, Mother, the woman is dead.”

“Jeez. When did you get all caring and sensitive?”

“I’m going out.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Wouldn’t you like to take a trip like that?”

“Not with you, so don’t even ask.” (smiling)

“We had fun in New York.”

“This would be in a car. For days.”

“We could find the big ball of twine.”

“I’m leaving.”

“Fine, Get out.”


Saturday Morning Commercials

I can’t tell you the last time I was in public at 8am on a Saturday, but if it weren’t for the get-up-and-go required, I’d do it more often. Despite being chilly and windy, a friend and I visited the Broad Ripple Farmers’ Market. A lot of the good stuff was gone, but I got some great tomatoes. (What are grocery store tomatoes made from anyway? I can’t really tell, but whatever it is, it’s a far cry from tomato seeds (or however that works)). I think this market will be great once the season really kicks in.

The Fresh Market at College and 54th was the nicest shopping experience I’ve had in a while, too. (I went to Marsh later in the day for something in particular and barely got out alive.) They have a lot of the typical things but a bushel of the unexpected.

And I don’t know what happened to The Barking Dog Café, but it’s much better now than it was last year. A purple and orange (I know, but it works) theme, new awnings, new tables and chairs, and a crab roll to rival any I’ve tasted (not that I’m a connoisseur).

Speaking of not being a connoisseur, when Austin and I went to Ogunquit a few years ago, we could not stop talking about our fantastic meal at the Fisherman's Catchin nearby Wells. Well, and this says a lot about us as human beings, of course, the Fisherman’s Catch was just named top Maine restaurant by Yankee Magazine. See? We’re something, I know.

My Saturday morning friend turned me on to Farm Fresh Delivery. At this point, it might sound like I'm trying to be all obnoxious hoity-toity green, but I don't mean to - I've just always loved the idea of supporting small, local businesses. Anyway, she tried another local CSA last year, but wasn’t crazy about the inflexibility. FFD has lots of customization options. Hell, they even have soup. Tomato and basil soup with roasted pine nuts. Yea, I’m in.

Austin has been horizontal since he got home from finals Friday afternoon. I think he might get up today, though. It’s Mother’s Day, of course, and I think my present is weed-eating and possibly a pick-up at the Chinese dive up the street. Oh, happy day!! My yard- and take-out boy is back for the summer, and I'm taking advantage, because this could very well be the last one.

I just realized something odd. For the first time in my life, my tiny little collection of friends (which has changed and dwindled through the years as lots of things do) includes no mothers. Although, we’re all mommies to some awesome four-legged children, which makes us equally wonderful and lovable and deserving of the day. And our "kids" are probably better behaved and cuter and better spellers than half those human ones anyway. :)

The Big Impact

In a writing class last year, we were asked to write about the moment that had the biggest impact on our lives. This is what I wrote:

“Don’t you want to hold him?”

If he asked me that one more time, I swore I was going to kick him. Even with the compromising and restrained position, I was pretty sure I could have mustered up enough strength to kick him in the head.

The nurse had offered him to his father pretty quickly when she saw my reaction to her heading in my direction. And the man was holding him like he would a tray of food, sort of in half-outstretched arms. Not close to him at all, but away from his chest, as if to make sure he wasn’t fully committing to the responsibility. Sign of things to come.

He was obviously uncomfortable, though. He had never held a baby at all. He had cousins and a sister with kids, but he had never actually picked any of them up. So, he didn’t want to hold him either, really. I was the mother after all. I should want him. Of course, I would want him. But I didn’t.

I didn’t want to see him, much less touch him or hold him. I just forced a slow “nooooo”, and shot him a warning glare. He didn’t move. Frozen in fear, I guess, from me and from the baby.

I was given the aftermath treatment while the nurse put a little baby blue knit hat on him and wrapped him in fresh blankets. She set him down beside me next to my hip. He sat there, like a tiny doll of a person. Eyes closed, two slits between red, flaky, wrinkled fleshy cheeks, making not one move except for his nose flaring with each breath. It seemed barely alive.

This was it? All that pain, all those months, for this? For a little lump of blanket and hat to just sit there? I felt nothing.

We were wheeled back to our room and forced into a whir of activity, with nurses from every direction bringing me baby this after baby that, each with instructions.

“Okay, here we go!! His first bottle. You ready?”

Raised eyebrows and wide-open eyes to question her sanity, but I didn’t reply. I swore she snickered. Then, she forced us together anyway and left. “Awwww, you’ll be fine. Have fun!!”

And we were alone. His father had gone to make phone calls or something, I think. Who knows. We were alone. Sign of the life to come. And still nothing. He drank the whole bottle, never moving or opening his eyes.

A few minutes or hours (I’m convinced) passed, and they came to get him to officially register him with the human race. He’s leaving!! I could breathe. Normalcy. My life was back. I wanted to go home. Alone.

But not long enough after I got comfortable with myself, they wheeled him back in his little acrylic cart still wrapped like a big sausage.

“Back so soon?”

The nurse ignored me, but he tilted his head toward me, opened his eyes, smiled, and then laughed. Probably a gas thing, but I swore he got the sarcasm. And that he understood.

He let me know that he wasn’t having any more fun than I was. He was just as uncomfortable and just as scared of me. He wasn’t thrilled about being with me either. Probably thinking, her again? Is she it? She’s what I get? Forget it. Put me back now.

And in that tiny moment of apparent connection, he became mine -all mine and just mine. He became the love of my life. And I became his mom.


A man I indirectly knew died of cancer in his mother's home just two months after his diagnosis. Six months before receiving the news, he had been fired from his job for unrelated drug and alcohol issues and moved in with her. There was no money and no insurance, so he withered away quietly and quickly.

The morning he died, his mother, equally poor, 75, and a little over 100 pounds, called the crematory (the cheapest option) to pick up his body. They apologized for the delay - there were a couple of customers ahead of her – but they would be there late that afternoon.

She gave him a sponge bath, washed and combed his hair, shaved and splashed a little after-shave on his face, put on his underwear and socks, dressed him in a casual shirt and pants, and scrubbed and tied his shoes. She put new sheets on his bed and propped him up a little with freshly plumped pillows.

And then, she sat in the chair beside the bed and talked to what was left of her son for the next five hours.

The company that had fired him, where he had worked for ten years, paid for his cremation and a small memorial service.

His mother died alone a week later. 

A neighbor found her lying in her bed, dressed in her best dress and new panty hose and shoes, with freshly fixed hair and what appeared to be a little rouge on her cheeks and lips. Beside her on the bed were a yellowed and much worn envelope with an engagement ring in it and a 3-page love letter from a man named Tom - not her son's father's name - dated Valentine's Day, 1954. She was holding a picture album of her life to her chest, and in her right hand was a check made out to the crematory for $500.

Living Alone and Fairly Consciously

All things considered, I think I’ve done pretty well. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of food shopping for one, but I’m sure I’ll get there. It feels a lot like that scene in the intro to the Mary Tyler Moore show when she unenthusiastically throws what I think is a piece of chicken into her basket. I think about calling, but then stop myself. A lot. Local friends have been great at timely invitations. I’ve had extra chores and work as well. And my plan. And Sabrina, the dog.

I got to thinking about the last time I lived by myself. It was over twenty years ago in Vinings, Georgia, and only for a period of about two years. I didn’t do it very well back then. I seem to be better at it now. Plus, he was an unintentional master at preparing me. I appreciate his independence.

I’ve been driving his truck to work, because it has air conditioning and I opted not to fix mine. He’s not happy about that and tries to convince me it’s no good by telling me I look like a lesbian, but, frankly, that's a risk I’m willing to take. (And, it has cooled down in the last day or two, so my heterosexuality will be restored soon.)

I saw a lady walking to the bus stop in her work clothes the other morning. The sprinklers at the apartment complex she was in front of suddenly went on. She started, and then held out her hands and raised her head to catch the water for a moment before continuing her walk. I thought I wanted to be just like her.

I hate that www.dictionary.com has been bought by Ask.com. Amongst all the advertisements are a few definitions.

The man who lives behind me who cuts his grass after dark watered his deck last week. His sprinkler was intentionally set facing his house and in just the one position to water the deck and only the deck. Not the windows or the doors, nor are there any plants or flowers on the deck. I actually like things like this - I can wonder for weeks.

Aren't there a finite number of musical notes? Doesn't this mean that we'll eventually run out of new music? Does anyone know when?

Miss Hazel told me to keep my doors locked, and that felt nice.

I think I would like it to be fall all year long.

A Tub for My Wing

The person who invented these is a genius and deserves a statue and a warm sudsy soak in his/her honor. I’m sad, though, because my grandmother would have love-love-loved one.

I wanted to make sure Austin knew how much I will appreciate one in my future.

“Hey, Austin, come look at this commercial.”


“I want one of those in my wing when I move in with you in my old age.”

“You know where they have those? In nursing homes.”

“Not in the nursing homes I’ll be able to afford.”

“Well, you have a point. They do require indoor plumbing.”

“Thanks. I took care of your first eighteen years. You should take care of my last eighteen.”

“Eighteen? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You need to make sure you go quickly.”

“When do you leave for school?”

“Not soon enough, not soon enough.”

The Time Has Come

I thought I was home free. Only two weeks to go, and I really haven’t felt all that emotional.

Until yesterday, that is, when he cleaned his room.

He has had a summer project to organize and purge, which he did and ended up with a pick-up truck full of stuff to donate and three lawn and leaf size bags of stuff to throw away. I saw little soccer and t-ball trophies poking out of one bag, but when I went to comment on not throwing his entire past away, he jumped down my throat for backpedaling.

The purging didn’t even hit me, because his room still looked like it belonged to the kid I’ve known for years.

Then, he had to go and clean it. Bed made. Clothes on hangers. Posters off walls. No junk on the computer desk or the nightstands or the armoire. No dishes or wrappers on the floor. Carpet! Hell, there were vacuum tracks.

There’s a song out there somewhere about a father who just sits in his daughter's room after she leaves. But I can’t go in there. There’s a floodgate that I’m pretty sure would take all of freshman year to plug. And I do have plans. And I still need to work.

I think I’ll make him start closing the door, though, because I know it’s just going to get worse from here, and I have a feeling I already may be taking it pretty hard.

Lines form on my face and hands*

18. Eight. Teen. The birthday sheet cake from Kroger paled in comparison to the homemade German chocolate cake made by Katie’s father. And you can’t unwrap a forgiven debt.

Of course he had to go as soon as I got home. He took the sheet cake and went to a friend’s house for a birthday spend-the-night bonfire and weenie roast. The cake came back home the next day with only ‘Happ’ visible.

We did have a lovely dinner at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse, though. It was the most we’ve talked in the past month.

He went to IU orientation and registered for classes. I didn’t want to go play the advertised parent-camp games, and he said it didn’t matter if I went, so I didn’t. But when he ran into some people we know who asked where I was, he told them that I told him he needed to go by himself. As if.

The biggest stress of financial paperwork: “I certify that I am registered with the Selective Service.” Penalty is prosecution and up to a $250,000 fine. I never thought I’d have to worry about this, but, I do, certainly now with this country’s collective karma upon us.

On to July, when I too will age another year, but, of course, oh, so gracefully.

*Alice Cooper lyric. Son's first concert. Whaddaya gonna do?

I Do Feel Guilty For Feeling This Way

I know I’m depressed when I start googling people who aren’t in my life anymore. Nobody in my past life spent as much time at a computer as I still do, so I rarely find much of anything. It’s not a hopeful exercise. Or not hopeful in a positive way anyway. I’ve also run across too many men on their best behavior, which has always unnerved me. My weekly predictions all agreed that I would hear from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time, but that didn’t happen. So I know I shouldn’t believe them when they say that I just entered my birthday month and crazy-good things are going to fall from the sky.

“You may be feeling the empty nest thing, but I’m not.”

I did make an attempt to enjoy a weekend errand by deciding to make my trip to the store early Sunday morning. I actually almost looked forward to it, thinking it would be peaceful and, it being so early, the workers would be friendlier. I wasn’t there five minutes when I heard her talking in her outside voice on her cell phone. Apparently, they were agreeing that a mutual friend was crazy and that neither wanted to attend said friend’s daughter’s birthday party at the end of the month (an obvious emergency conversation that must be had at 7am on a Sunday morning.) I was in produce. She had to have been in the cereal aisle at the very least, but I heard every word. So, of course, I spent the next thirty minutes trying to anticipate where she was going so I could be as far away as possible. That didn’t happen. And I was reminded once again that I will never fit well in this world, because, at my age, I should be able to not let things like this bother me. But, as usual, it stole my entire day and another minute or two to type this.

“You’re going to have to work on that.”

So, I’m in a depressing spot. I want friends and a more active post-single-mother life, but I’m not so good with people, especially those you find in public. Besides, I’m sure I don’t have the most inviting face while I’m expecting the worst.

But what worries me most is that the things I’ve wanted for at least ten years don’t excite me anymore. I don’t know yet what to do about that. I guess the use of the word “yet” is hopeful.

I’ll get there, I suppose. Wherever that may be. I do have faith. And I do have gratitude. I’m very grateful for all our blessings. But too much gratitude and depression don’t mix – they make you feel even less deserving and that the moment is as good as it should be - so I know what I already knew - that the answer is faith.

Eegads, I sound like a country song. How depressing.


This afternoon, Austin voted for the first time. We went together, because I insisted on having the memory.

Then, we stopped at CVS so HE – with his own money for the first time - could buy Mother’s Day cards to mail to Georgia. “Damn. It’s nuts what they charge for cards.”

Then, we had a conversation about moving this summer or staying put. He made it clear that he does not want to be a factor in my decision. “You need to decide this for yourself and do what you want to do. I’m going to be in Bloomington.”

Then, he left to go to work. (I’m “between projects.”)

Shaky, shaky ground.

Growing Up and Away

Looking out over the crowd of enthralled kids….

I’m happy that my son is the Stage Manager of this wonderful production and that his bio made it in the program. I’m so proud.

But I’m so sad.

I’m happy for the many North Central opportunities that Austin has enjoyed. He found his niche and thoroughly enjoyed high school (something I never did). I’m so proud.

But I’m so sad.

I’m happy that I don’t have to come to school events anymore (school kids make me uncomfortable - they did then, they do now). His future is finally here. I’m so proud.

But I’m so sad.

This is a comedy, yet every time I laugh, I cry.

IU Ready

It comes up in conversation more often now that the end of life as I have known it for seventeen years is closing in. The ultimate question I am asked is if I'm ready.

“How was your day?”

“Fine. Like every other day.”

“Anything exciting happen today?”

“I said no.”

“Got any homework?”


"What do you want for dinner?"

"I don't care. Why are you bothering me?”

When's college start?

For days now (I’m thinking more than a week’s worth), my son's guitar has been sitting in its stand in front of the spare bedroom closet. Each morning and night, I fumble around it getting or returning clothes. And each day, I say something to him about moving it.

Yesterday, I tripped over it. I knew this would happen.


He reappeared and said, “I moved it by the elliptical. There’s no danger of you being anywhere near it now.”

It’s my own fault, really.

Dr. Eugene White

When we moved to Indianapolis from Horn Lake, Austin was in the middle of 7th grade. The teachers at Eastwood Middle School made him feel like a rock star, instead of the new kid from the South that he was.

Just two months later, Austin was nominated by a collection of his teachers for the annual Citizenship Award.

There was, of course, the usual middle school ceremony. Pictures were taken, awards and pins were distributed, speeches were made and parental applause was predictable.

But what I will never forget is a speech by Dr. Eugene White, who was the Superintendent of Washington Township schools at the time. As per usual, I cried. (In my own defense, I had been racked with pent-up guilt and fear about the move here.)

Dr. White spoke to the kids, of course, telling them how proud he wanted them to be of their accomplishments and contributions. They had defined themselves as examples now, and much would be expected of them. They had bright, bright futures.

Then, he addressed the parents. We were to be credited for our children’s moment of excellence. He told each child to turn to his parents and hug us and say thank you. We were the keys to their success. We were their champions - their biggest fans – and they were never to forget that.

I started to write Dr. White a letter once, but I thought he probably got tired of reading the same old thing about his gifts of hope and principle from grateful parents.

Besides, he’s an incredibly busy man having since moved on to the Indianapolis Public School system, where his tireless and sometimes thankless work, not to mention his character, is desperately needed.

In today’s Indianapolis Star, there is yet another article that defines who this man is. He has refused a pay raise for himself this year. The Board gave him $17,000 cash bonuses for meeting academic goals, but he declined the pay raise they offered saying that he didn’t feel right accepting the money amidst grueling teacher contract negotiations.

Dr. White is still a fresh air of faith for me.