Family · Life

Ghosts?

My mom had a bit of a sixth sense.  She always said if she dreamed about someone three times in a row, something was wrong.  I witnessed this one time, but that isn’t my story to tell.  I remember when my Aunt Edna died.  This was my mom’s sister, the sister who finished raising her after my grandmother died.  I stopped by the house one evening after work and my mom told me that Edna had passed.  She told me that the night before (around three I think she said) she had been awakened by something.  She got up and looked all around the house to make sure there was nothing wrong.  She even went out on the porch to check.  She went back to bed, noting the time.  The next day she received a call that Edna had died the same time my mother had been awakened.

Another time while asleep, she heard her sister Thelma tell her “Gladys, he’s dead.”  She again awoke and noted the time.  My Aunt Thelma took care of her brother-in-law for years because of his poor health.  The next day Aunt Thelma called my mom to tell her that her brother-in-law had passed away the night before.  You guessed it, same time.

There were probably other times that either my mom never mentioned or that I have forgotten.  I don’t know if I inherited this sixth sense or not.  I don’t think so. I don’t know about my siblings, oddly, it’s never come up.

Years ago, when my mom’s health started failing, we moved her in with us.  It was then that I realized that she was suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  She would have memory lapses and seemed unable to comprehend the passing of time.  One evening after everyone had gone to bed, I sat up watching TV.  My mom came out of her room and asked me if I saw someone come out of her room.  I said, “No, why?”  She said that a little old man had come into her room and sat on her bed.  She had also seen a small girl with a bloody face.  I assured her that I saw no one and said it must have been a dream.  She went back to bed.  A little while later she came out again.  This time very perturbed.  She said “You must have seen him this time.”  I told her I hadn’t and she eventually went back to bed.  I’m sure she thought I was lying.  Since one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s is hallucinations, I chalked it up to that.

Now, from what I’ve read about ghosts, they apparently either attach themselves to a place, an object or a person.  I don’t know if the little old man came with my mom and decided to stay behind or if he had always been here, but after we moved Mom into a nursing home, I started to hear noises around the house.  Knocks and creaks that seemed to be more than just the house settling or the wind.  I also heard footsteps and sounds like the back door opening and closing.  My son said he heard the noises too, but my husband insisted it was nothing.  He didn’t believe in ghosts.

Once when I was home from work because of an injury, I laid down in the guest room (where my mom had stayed) to take a nap.  Why I chose this bed instead of my own, I don’t know.  I had with me our small Dusky Conure Parrot named Gus.  (It’s his picture you see on this website.)  Gus would sleep with me during my naps (in case you’re wondering, birds don’t poo while they sleep).  I should point out that Gus adored my son.  He was constantly seeking him out.  Any time he thought he heard my son, he would squawk and look for him.  Before falling asleep, I heard the back door open and close and someone step on the trash can to raise the lid.  And Gus heard it too!!  He ran to the edge of the bed, looked out the bedroom door and waited for my son to walk by. No one.  I had to take Gus to the back door to prove to him that my son was not home.

There was a period of time when I slept in the guest room because of my husband’s snoring.  It was after dreaming that I was being chased by a gang of motorcyclists and realizing that the vroom, vroom, vroom of the motors was my husband’s snores.

One night while sleeping I heard someone come into the room and lean on the bed.  I thought it was my Paul coming in to get me up, but when I rolled over, I was alone.  There were a couple of other nights when I felt someone sit on the bed beside me.  I joked that it was the ‘little old man’ Mom had seen and tried to brush it off, but the fourth time was just too much.  I remember being awakened by jingling, like the coat hangers in the closet bumping each.  Just about the time I was awake enough to think “what is that,” I felt someone climb into bed with me.  I felt him get on his hands and knees on the bed, climb over me and lay down.  I felt his hip and then his shoulder hit the bed as he lay down.  I immediately jumped up and left the room.  As I was heading for our room, I realized that the alarm clock in that room would start going off at 6:00, so I went back in to turn it off, turning on the lights first, of course.  I said out loud “You’re dead – go toward the light.”  He stopped sitting on the bed after that and the footsteps and other noises lessened.  I moved back into my room after that and my husband got help for his snoring.

Quite some time later, my son was out one evening and my husband and I were watching TV in the basement.  At one point Paul yelled upstairs, “Is that you, son?”  No response.  I looked at Paul and said “You heard footsteps, didn’t you.”  He had to admit that he had.  And still later, I was off on a weekend horse riding trip and when I returned on Sunday, Paul told me that he had felt someone climb into bed with him on Saturday night.  He thought that I had come back early, but when he looked over – no one.  Even so, he still insisted that ghosts don’t exist.

So you’re probably wondering if I’ve ever heard or felt Paul’s ghost.  Shortly after his passing, after crying myself to sleep, I awoke around 3 am to go to the bathroom.  When I returned to bed, I felt someone tug on the blanket near my foot.  The alarm clock light dimmed and the fan slowed down almost to a stop.  It only lasted a couple of seconds.  I think it was Paul letting me know that he was still here with me. I hear knocks in my bedroom regularly, and in other places in the house.  It is so common that my dog, Andre, doesn’t pay attention any more.  My sister has heard him a couple of times.  We both sleep in my king-sized bed when she visits, and on one visit she thought she heard me walk around the foot of the bed.  She said “Are you up?”  I replied, “No, I’m right here.”  Another time she thought she heard Paul’s voice.  Maybe she has inherited some of Mom’s sixth sense.

The existence of ghosts hasn’t been proven – some believe and some don’t.  I am a believer.  My son told me that I shouldn’t want Paul’s ghost to remain because then he isn’t in heaven.  I’ve pondered this for a while now.  I heard an opinion that when we die, our body returns to the earth, our soul goes to heaven and our spirit remains behind.  Another opinion is that spirits can come back and visit from the other side. I only know that it gives me comfort to think that Paul is still around, looking out for me in death as he did in life.

Family · Life

Little Brothers

Little Brothers

8/27/2006

My husband’s sister is a vegetarian.  She was long before it was popular.  She didn’t stop eating meat for health reasons, but rather because she is an animal lover.  At first she continued to eat fowl and fish, but a few years ago she stopped eating anything that “had a face.”  She still eats dairy, but she’ll only eat eggs from free-roaming chickens.

Apparently it’s okay to eat a soon-to-be chicken as long as the hen wasn’t penned up when she laid it. To me, it’s still cradle-robbing and the chickens know it.  Have you ever gone into a chicken coop to gather eggs?  I have, and it was verrry scarrry.  It was dark and dusty.  The chickens were sitting on their nests staring at me angrily, clucking under their breath.  I gingerly reached up and stuck my hand under a chicken.  She squawked and flapped her wings and I ran for the house.  We had oatmeal for breakfast that morning.

I  know my sister-in-law eats cheese and milk, but I’ve never asked her about that.  If the chickens have to be free-roaming, then one would assume the cows would have to be hand-milked.  I can’t imagine it would be okay to drink milk from an “assembly-line” cow whose teats have been hooked up to some big mechanical sucking device.  All I know is, she puts Half-n-Half in her coffee and I just buy it straight off the shelf at the supermarket.

As long as I’ve known her, she has always had two dogs.  This past year her beloved beagle-mix died and now she only has one, Tulip Jane.  She used to feed her dogs dog food made with meat because it was “only natural”; but, alas, poor Tulip Jane is now on a vegetarian diet too.  Sister-in-law assured us that “Tulip likes it!” as she set the bowl in front of her. I guess it’s possible that Tulip always eats very slowly and tentatively, but I couldn’t help wondering if she’d be gulping down Dog Chow or Alpo.

At Thanksgiving, sister-in-law donates money to save a turkey from certain death and presents us all with a picture.  Sorry, but each year the turkey looks just like the one from last year.  Guess I’m a cynic, but I can see some con man making a tidy little profit here.  So far it hasn’t discouraged the rest of us from enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We are sensitive enough to slice the turkey in the kitchen before taking it to the table so sister-in-law doesn’t have to look at the dead carcass.

One Thanksgiving a few years ago, after dinner my husband and I, his parents, his sister, and her boyfriend were sitting in the living room talking.  (My son was smart; he went off  to watch TV.) Somehow the conversation turned to salmon and how it looks totally different before it’s cooked. Sister-in-law interjected that she couldn’t understand how we could all claim to be animal lovers and still eat meat.  I started to point out that we don’t eat dogs and cats, but my husband beat me to the punch and said, “Oh, that reminds me of a joke!  It’s about a 2-legged pig.”   I grabbed his arm and hissed under my breath “Don’t do it”, but there was no stopping him.  He continued:

A man was driving down a country road when he came to a farm with a 2-legged pig in the front yard.  Being curious he stopped and asked the farmer what had happened to the pig. The farmer replied, “Well sir that is one special pig.  One day my son fell in the creek and that pig busted through the pen and jumped in the creek and pulled Johnny to safety.”  “Is that how he lost his legs?,” asked the man.

“Nope.  But after that, we let him sleep in the house at night.  Well sir, one night our house caught on fire and that pig managed to wake us all up just in time.  He saved us all.”  “Is that how he lost his legs?,” asked the man.

“Nope,” said the farmer, “but you can’t eat a special pig like that all at once.”

My husband sat there with a devilish grin on his face waiting for the reaction.  His mom and dad scolded him, I groaned, boyfriend chuckled. Then all eyes focused on sister-in-law. She jumped up and stormed out of the house (saying something unprintable under her breath).   My husband apologized to the boyfriend, since he had an hour-long drive home with her ahead of him.  Boyfriend just chuckled and said that it would be okay, at least he’d have some peace and quiet.  I have no way of knowing what transpired on the trip home, but not too long after that sister-in-law and boyfriend broke up.

Little brothers!

Family · Horses · Mel

Mel’s Eye

Friday I received a message from the lady who owns the stables where I board Mel telling me that Mel had bumped his eye.  Nothing bad enough for the vet, just wanted to let me know.  So Andre and I went out to check on him today (Saturday).  It was no longer swelled up and didn’t look bad.  Just a cut above his eye.  I was going to wash it out and medicate it, but it already had a scab forming so I just let it go.  It is amazing how well and quickly wild animals heal.

I was talking to Stacey, the owner, about various things.  Horses, dogs, parents, etc.  Years ago I fell off a horse during a lesson.  I wound up with a concussion and a subdural hemorrhage.  A subdural hemorrhage is caused by bleeding that takes place due to the rupture of one or more of the blood vessels (typically veins) that travel in the subdural space, located between the surface of the brain and the dura, a thin layer of tissue that separates the brain from the skull.  Thank God I had my helmet on or I might have died.  We touched on the subject and Stacey shared something with me about my husband, Paul.

She said that he called her from the hospital to tell her how I was doing and he said in a very serious manner, “Stacey, we got the pictures back and it is confirmed.  She does have a brain.”  We both laughed and she said she remembered what a great sense of humor Paul had.  She once bet him a $1 that he couldn’t fit in her sister-in-law’s Mini-Cooper.  Well he managed to get all 6 foot 6 inches of himself in the car and even shut the door.  His leg hung outside the door, but he won the bet.

God I miss him.

Family · Life

Out of the Mouths of Babes

(I wrote this back in 2000)

Our son left last month for his second year of college.  His freshman year we took him down and helped him move in.  This year he loaded up the woody wagon and drove off by himself.  {sigh}   A couple of nights later my husband got out the cassette recording that we made when our son was  three.  We listened to him singing about the peanut on the railroad tracks, hip hop bunny, and his ABC’s.  He only got stuck once ‑ not remembering the letters ‑ stuck like a broken record.  His L‑M‑N‑O came out L‑M‑minow‑minow‑minow‑P.  Ah, the memories.

When I was a young mother, I decided that I wouldn’t use baby talk or silly words when talking to my son. For instance, I’ve heard people use phrases like, “Look what hers got.”  (Is “hers” a contraction?  Should there be an apostrophe because it is short for “her has”?)  My philosophy…. why teach your children bad habits that some poor teacher is going to have to undo later?  Or that is going to embarrass the hell out of them when they are in the lunch line at school and order a “sodie”. (I’m speaking from experience here.)

I also wanted to be very open and honest with my son.  I wanted him to be able to come to me with any question and be assured that he would get a straight answer.  (You see where this is going, right?)

When he turned two I enrolled him in day‑care.  At one time, there were quite a few “teachers” there that were in the “family way.”  And being curious like most children are, one day came the question.  But his question wasn’t how the baby got in, he wanted to know how the baby would get out.   So I told my 3‑year‑old that women had a place that men didn’t have, especially for the baby to come out, called a vagina.  He asked, “Where is the vagina, Mommy?”  I said simply that it was between the woman’s legs.  Okay….. pretty easy…. I hadn’t avoided the question and I had kept it simple, right?   I learned a valuable lesson a few days later – when you give a child a new word he will be dying to use it!

Later in the week I received a call from the day‑care administrator.  She said, “Mrs. Serguta, one of the mothers is pretty upset because your son told her daughter that she had a pretty vagina.”  After taking a few moments to compose myself I replied, “H‑h‑h‑ow….”  Miss Vickie explained that the boys’ bathroom was out‑of‑order so the boys were using the girls’ room.  Unfortunately, my son went in while it was occupied.  I apologized and said I would talk to him about it.

I immediately called my husband.  I explained to Paul what had happened and told him how mortified I was.  My husband has a different way of looking at things than I do.  His response was “She’s upset?  We should be upset.  What is her daughter doing showing our son her vagina.”  I then explained to Paul about the bathroom situation.  So, he said the day‑care workers should be more careful….end of crisis.  So much for getting any help from my husband.

That evening I had to try to explain to our son that, although vagina is not a bad word, most people don’t like to hear it used.  In the future when I had talks with him, I made sure I pointed out that he wasn’t to say anything to the other children, it was to be our secret.  Let their parents have the pleasure.

Family · Life

Reflections of a Gadget Geek

Note:  This is an item I wrote many many years ago.  I don’t remember exactly when, but I’ll guess around 1996. 

My husband, Paul, was born and raised in Chicago.  Early in our marriage, when I  would tell friends that we were going to Chicago for the weekend, the response would be,  “Oh great, that should be fun.”  I’d then have to explain that I never actually went to downtown Chicago, I’d just spend the weekend at my in-laws’ house, listening to Paul and his parents bicker and waiting on his sister.  Paul’s sister is chronically late – for everything.  But I won’t go there, I’m trying to keep this article short.

Paul and I did try to go to Chicago one time for a fun weekend before my son was born.  He was going to show me all his old “haunts” and the neighborhood where he grew up, and then we’d have a nice dinner at one of his favorite restaurants.  But he made the mistake of telling his mother that we were coming, you’d have to know my mother- in-law to appreciate the mistake that was.  She planned a fun day of seeing the Chinese exhibit at Navy Pier.  We spent the entire day inside.  Afterward, when I complained that we had made the trip to see Chicago, Paul’s dad was kind enough to drive us around the city.  Suffice it to say we never tried that again.

Around 1980 my in-laws moved an hour north of Chicago to a place called Round Lake – a God-forsaken place with nothing to do but visit the local Sears store.  However, over the years, the area has really developed.  More houses, numerous strip malls and Gurnee Mills!  After that when we visited, we often went to Gurnee Mills to window shop.  Hey, it got us out of the house.

Paul and I are both gadget lovers.  All kinds of gadgets – hardware, electronics, office supplies.  We love them.  We love looking at them, touching them, playing with them.  Sometimes, we even buy them.  Paul learned early in our marriage that going to the hardware store without telling me first was a big mistake!!  All he had to say was “I have to go to Lowe’s for…” and I’m in the car, drooling and bouncing like a puppy going for a car ride.

Now, let me point out that we eventually learned not to buy things that we couldn’t actually use.  We don’t need more unused items cluttering up the cabinets, such as the hand-held gadget that allows you to make your own mayonnaise.  I mean, heaven forbid that the people who manufacture mayonnaise ever go on strike, but if they do, it won’t affect us.

So, on one of our trips to Gurnee Mills (bet you were wondering where this was going), we entered through the “Bed, Bath and Beyond” store.  Paul and I hadn’t heard of it.  It had your usual bed and bath items and a whole wall of  kitchen gadgets!  Paul and I stood there looking at all the items hanging there.  Row upon row upon row. To passers-by we looked like two kids staring in the Macy’s window at Christmas time.  While Paul’s mom and sister went off to look for silly things like clothes and shoes and my son went off to look for video games, Paul and I made sure we looked up and down every row.  Somewhere there was sure to be some tool that we couldn’t live without.

After an hour of looking and touching, Paul came away with an oven thermometer that actually sits outside the oven.  No longer would we have to open the oven door to check on the temperature!  I came away with a butter holder, measurer, slicer.  It’s really cool!  You put your stick of butter in and close the lid.  When you need to measure butter for a recipe, you open the lid, slide the bar to the correct amount (1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoons, etc.), then you press the button and the slicer cuts off the butter.  You don’t have to dirty a knife!

Although Paul’s thermometer is still unopened, I’m proud to say that we have actually used my new gadget.  I don’t know how we lived without it.  It truly is the small things that make life better.

I miss you Paul.