Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Varsity Hockey

Frankie is in his tenth year of playing hockey. Nine of those years we were anticipating finally being able to play at school. It has arrived and it is the first year that I dread going to the games and have been disgusted with the process.

A few games ago, we were at an away game and boo’d the ref a couple of times. Next thing we know, the “supervisor” for our section told us that she was instructed to tell us to tone it down. Who knew a section even had a supervisor? The real surprise was when a few minutes later a police officer was pacing behind the bleachers. I was shocked. Were they kidding?

Now that I’m paying attention, I’ve noticed that all the varsity games have police there. And I’m starting to understand why.

Image result for image of a hockey fight

Last night, we were approaching the end of the last period. We were losing by several goals so we knew we weren’t going to catch up. Once again, a fight broke out near our goalie. I would guess a high percentage of fights are around the goalie. Goalies are considered absolutely off limits. After the fight started, the circle around the players just got bigger. I saw the other team push our players from behind, another no-no. Then our players enlarged the circle again and pushed the other side from behind. On and on it goes. Frankie wasn’t in the mix, but I still felt sick watching it.

The punches started flying behind the net. It seemed to go on forever. I had a moment of panic when it occurred to me the refs actually might not be able to contain it. Literally, a riot could start before you know it. The refs eventually got it under control and six kids were in the penalty box, three from each team.

And that’s not the bad part.

At one point, I turned around to say something to our friends. There was a mother in the back row from the other team, kinda short, a little chubby. She says to me, “Did you just say something to me?” It was a bit pissy, but I really didn’t catch on at first. I just answered no and then we exchanged a couple more phrases. I realized she was antsy to start a fight with me. Hell, she would have kicked my ass. I’ve never been in a fight in my life.

Soon another parent from her team came walking by and summoned her. She was like, “Hell yes, I’ll come.” Off they went. Eventually, you hear all the stories from around the rink.

One parent from our team was standing behind the glass behind our goalie. He was trying to tell the refs a player was repeatedly elbowing our goalie in the head. He got kicked out. I’m not sure if the referee or the rink kicked him out, but you can’t yell to the referees, no matter what you are saying.

Secondly, the crazy woman from the bleachers by me was fighting at the other end of the rink with our goalie’s mother. It was something like, “Your kid was elbowing my kid in the head. I will press charges.” The other mom was like, “Bring it on, bitch” or something like that.

After a big scene on the ice, the refs and team captains take forever to sort things out. While that was happening, crazy lady came back to the bleachers. She apparently got tired of fighting with the goalie’s mom. It was time for the next victim. Next to us was the bleacher of high school kids.

I feel old when I say this, but they are obnoxious as hell. They are loud. They boo every time the other team scores. They yell every time our players check the other team. They give me a headache. But they are teenagers. It’s what they do. They aren’t doing anything bad, they are just loud and annoying.

Crazy mom starts yelling at them to stop taunting the players. The kids are yelling back but she starts threatening them. I see one of our kids say, “Are you really going to beat up a little girl?” By this time, my friend and I ran to get the cop. He saunters over which made me mad but he eventually got there. By this time, the mom was trying to climb over the bleachers and saying things like, “Come on you little bitches, I will kick your asses.”

The cop promptly kicked all the teenagers out without even asking questions. Two adults then got up and told the cop that it was the mother who was instigating. He kicked her out too.

At the end of the game, the other team’s parents were walking out laughing about their parent getting kicked out. I finally said, “It really isn’t funny for a parent to threaten a minor like that.” They just looked at me and that was the end of that.

Later, the player from the other team was laughing and asked the cop, “So where did you take my mom this time?” Yea, really funny.

I asked Frankie when he get home if he knew any of that happened. He said he doesn’t pay attention because most of those parents get drunk in the parking lot before the game.

The only thing I have to say is this:

WHAT THE FUCK?


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Hockey Moms vs. Hockey Dads

I think I’ve written about this topic before. You know us psychology types. We can’t just participate in life, we have to observe and analyze it. And when it comes to hockey, it usually either aggravates or amuses me.

Frankie was in a hockey tournament this weekend. Games Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, not at my favorite rink. They sell a variety of alcohol there, which even amazed Colin. He pointed out that all those drinkers are then driving kids home after. And my point is, hockey people are – well – kinda revved up already. Let’s give those folks some liquor. Seems like a bad idea to me.

One night before the game, the other team’s coach was standing near the doorway talking to a parent. He was asked who they were playing and the coach told him West Seneca. The father made an ugly face and said, “Filthy. Totally filthy.” The coach didn’t respond. You know from my blogs that I am getting a bit ugly myself lately, but I still can’t think fast on my feet. I was stunned. Later when I had gathered my thoughts I went to find that guy to give him a piece of my mind, but fortunately for both of us I couldn’t find him. Going after a male, probably liquored up, hockey father? Not one of my smarter ideas, but I was pissed.

Our team has been undefeated. We have three tall kids that I call giants. They are usually taller than most of the kids on our team as well as the opposing team. But they are not dirty players. And to my knowledge, we don’t have a reputation for being dirty players either.

Bantams are 13-15 year olds, and it is the first time in the league that players can check. The kids think this is great of course. (Although I must confess that Frankie complained after so many games in a row that his ass hurt as well as several other body parts!) And I am quite sure that most of the dads think checking is great too. But us moms? I doubt we will ever get used to it.

Two kids will collide and hit the wall or the ice with a thud and you can hear a female, collective voice saying, “Oooh” with horror. Right after that, you will hear a male voice saying something like, “Welcome to hockey, boys.”

These tourney games were some of the most tense games of the season. One of the games, the opposing team parents brought two cow bells. They are loud as hell. At first, they started ringing them when their teams scored. That’s ok. Our team’s parents are very loud. We could match them. Then they started ringing those bells every time their goalie saved a shot on them. It was downright obnoxious and annoying. Even I was muttering about taking their bells and sticking them where the sun don’t shine.

Well, our sharks won their division so we had to return Wednesday morning at 8 AM for the championship game. Actually, that means leaving the house at 7 AM to get there early enough. Several of the parents were a bit unhappy about that. The kids have off school, but parents don’t necessarily have off work. But hockey families know that hockey consumes you during the season.

During the tourney, I met one of the moms that I was sitting next to. She is our goalie’s mom. Once I realized that, I told her I thought he was doing an outstanding job. She explained to me that was brought up from a lower league. He is only 11 years old! I couldn’t believe it. He is one great hockey player. During the championship game, I was sitting next to her again. This time, I realized that whenever the opposing team came in our zone, she would close her eyes and turn her head. She just can’t watch. She doesn’t want him to get hurt, she doesn’t want to see if he gets scored against because you know his heart gets broken every time. So she waits for someone to say, “He stopped it” and then she can watch again. I totally cracked up because I get it. I let her know that the coaches said they were taping the game and giving us a DVD. She can watch it after the fact.

With two minutes left in the game, one of our kids got hurt. Really got hurt. Broke his leg in two places and spent the afternoon in surgery. It was so sad and so scary. We watched the parents from the stands. The kid and both parents were cool as cucumbers. You knew that boy was in agony. I said to the other parents that I would be a train wreck if it was Frankie and I was impressed by the family’s composure. They told me I would surprise myself if I was in that situation. I realized they were right. When faced with a crisis, I usually keep my head on straight. I spring into appropriate action and know the questions to ask. When it’s all over, I’m worse than a wet noodle. As I was watching the ice, all I could think was that if it were Frankie, I would be yelling at everyone, “He is all that I have!”

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Anyhow, the boys won the championship. (The picture is the team lining up for their award. Frankie is the second from the left.) Their comrade is recovering. The men will always yell from the sidelines and not be phased by the checking. And us moms will never learn to love it and we will always gasp at the roughness of the sport. We might even turn our heads the other way :).


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Snow and Sports, Part 2

“Just have to ask the question. You own a business and I’m sure you weren’t sitting back hoping someone would find people to come and dig you out correct? The Bills are a business, and if you think they, the corner bar, or Walmart are going to wait for the snow to disappear so they can resume business that’s crazy. This was a business decision by a very successful business man. We all know that when Buffalo has a storm like this, they pick themselves up, brush it off, and move on. This is a big sports town so I’m sure the majority of people were happy to see this progress”

This comment was made on my post from last week. While I welcome divergent opinions, this one inspired some more thoughts. So thanks for the inspiration, Steve.

First, it made me question my ability as a writer because I had to wonder how my point got missed. I will try again.

When you talk about any concept, there are complexities and it is impossible to cover all of them. But I think it is ok to talk in generalities to get the overarching point across.

I think there is something wrong when “successful business” practice involves ignoring much larger values. When “resuming business” (which is mostly about making money) puts human lives at stake, I have a problem with that. THERE WAS A DRIVING BAN. And the driving ban was in place because it was dangerous to be out on the road. People were actually buried alive out there. Literally.

Secondly, it is my personal opinion, that when it comes to priorities, there were much more serious and valuable reasons to enlist people’s help than a football game. It was in poor taste. Based on the official statements made by some of our executives, I think they agreed.

Yes, I own a business. Let me remind you what that means. No sick days, no personal days, no vacation days. Just a week of lost income. An entire week. That comes during a year when I had $5,000 stolen from my home. And I am always a single mom trying to manage it all.

At one time you knew me very well, Steve. You would also know that I would have NEVER asked anyone to help me “resume business” at any risk to themselves. Ever. And once we were able to clean up here, it was a community effort. I was just as worried about my neighbors and we all worked together. My step-son and I reached out to help others who were sick and everyone else as well. And they helped us.

One of my friends shoveled for five days at his place of employment, then came to my house and helped me shovel my roof. After we were done, his hands were literally shaking from fatigue. He struggles to make ends meet every day of his life. If anyone needs money, he does. But when he was finished with his work shifts, I guarantee you his choice would not have been to pick up more hours shoveling out the stadium. His choice was to help a friend in need.

Your comments were exactly my point. Thank God a lot of people disagree with you. There are a lot more important things in life than taking care of your self. Especially when you are billion dollar industry and could actually afford to think of other people. Big f*****g deal that he’s a successful business man. By your definition, I would happily be a failure.


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Guest Blogger: My Son, Frankie

We are getting ready for school and I tell Frankie it’s Thursday. Blog day. As usual, I’m stuck for an idea. Somehow it morphed into him writing it. Perfect! When he was five, he wrote a beautiful and poignant story called, “The Kite and the Snowflake,” that won third place in the Reading Rainbow contest, which was a huge deal. (Sorry, brief bragging moment.) Anyhow, here it is, an interview/blog from 12-year-old Frankie.

What will you write about? “Nothing is more important than football.”

Why would you say that? “It’s true.”

Can you be more specific? “Cause it’s fun to watch guys tackle each other.”

Seriously, what makes it interesting? “There are a lot of different positions. Then there a lot of different players that fill each position. It’s not a run-on game. The clock stops and starts. Passing, running. Contracts are interesting- how much the players get paid.”

Anyone that knows you, would have expected you to say that nothing is more important than hockey. Why the switch? “I don’t know. The Sabres suck! Hockey gets boring. For football, every team has a phenom player.”

What the heck is that? “A phenomenal player.”

Who are some of your favorite phenoms this year? “I don’t even know how I got into writing this blog! Are you going to write down everything I say?”

At this point, Frankie grabbed the computer himself and typed, “Sammy Watkins, Mario Williams, Jerry Jughes, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus, Leodis Mckelvin, Dan Carpenter, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers.” The bus came at this point and he handed me back the computer saying, “I can’t possibly write them all down.”

This blog doesn’t do him justice. He can hold a conversation with any adult about any sport- hockey, football, basketball, baseball. Men (usually it’s men!) are amazed and have often told me he knows more about sports than most adults they know. One guy actually hired Frankie to help him with a fantasy draft last year. He knows the history, every team in the league, every player, their stats… It’s crazy. He wants to be a general manager someday so he has written HUNDREDS of drafts for teams. Hundreds. Knows every NFL and NHL player’s salary.

Anyhow, this is one of the best mornings I have had in a long, long time. Frankie has been shutting me out for a couple of years now. Getting him to interact with me is a heart-wrenching and usually futile endeavor. This little interchange between us is monumental. It was a connection. I will take it. Thanks for sharing it with me :).


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Smatterings

I don’t have one topic today, so I think I will just have a smattering of paragraphs regarding different topics in my life.

Last weekend, a 7th grade roller skating friend found me on the internet. I was surprised and thought it was great fun to hear from him. He is quite successful- career/financial wise, but also has two great kids and a wife he still adores after 25 years. Anyhow, he wrote this to me after reading some of my blogs: “Your blog (so far) doesn’t read like menopause… almost more like ‘coming of age/wisdom/power.’ Like you are a whole person now… not shying away from those other less comfortable modes and feelings. And from what I see, still quite a unique and lovely person too.”

I liked that, of course. Made me feel great. Coming of age/wisdom/power. Is it one of those paradoxes in life I always talk about? The less wise and more powerless I feel, maybe the opposite is actually true? Nice thought. So I’m not going to tell him that twice this week I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. That’s the first hard “evidence” of the dreaded “M” word so let’s not tell him, ok?

So, what else? Haven’t really been dating anyone new. I haven’t been on the Match site at all. I’m still lonely, but I think I’ve finally called “uncle” for a while. Who knows when that will change? I just don’t see much point in it. Everyone looks great on paper. They all seem nice for the initial meetings. But in the end, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans, so why bother? Hey, maybe I really am getting wiser! 🙂

On the home front, well, that isn’t so pretty. I will probably regret writing this for the world to see, but I had a really, really bad day this week. I actually SOS-called Summer this week. I was having visions of taking a baseball bat and destroying our 54 inch TV screen. I wanted to bash in the WII system, Kindle, and laptop while I was at it. It scared me. That is REALLY, REALLY not like me. I didn’t do it, or course. But I was scared I would.

Why? I was sick of parenting. I didn’t care if Frankie is “grieving,” or “going through normal pre-teen stuff,” or whatever other reason there might be for his behavior. He can just be so mean and hurtful to me, and because I am who I am, he knows exactly how to do it. He knows how to push my buttons. And he does it by rejecting me. By letting me know that he doesn’t like it when I’m around, or even in the room for the matter. He recoils when I touch him. And after taking him to the Bills’ Training Camp and then throwing him two birthday parties, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

Today is a new day. I hold my breath every day that it will go better. So far, so good. We are heading to a baseball game and I’m willing it to be fun for all of us.

I am hoping to take a vacation next week. I don’t know if it will fall through or not, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I NEED A VACATION!!

I usually get worried feedback. Don’t worry. I’m hanging in there. I even plan to smile today 🙂


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Women and Sports

I am pretty sensitive to any hint of sexism, especially if it makes us women appear weak in any way. I know plenty of women who are athletic and knowledgeable about sports- by either playing themselves or with watching.

Me? I fall into the stereotype. I am not athletic. In fact, I am rather clumsy and accident prone at times. I try very hard to understand the basics about sports so I can interact with other people. But lots of times I just can’t wrap my mind around it.

Last night, I was at a speaking engagement out in the country. I got talking with a woman a little older than me and I ended up having one of those embarrassing laughs. When I really laugh hard, I cackle. It’s loud and goofy and it embarrasses Frankie to no end. But I just couldn’t help it.

Somehow the conversation had turned to sports and I was lamenting my ignorance. She told me she could probably top any story I had. She is an EMT by profession. She had gotten assigned to some sporting group, a football team to be exact. She saw the group of men in a circle with their heads down and ran into the field. Her husband (also an EMT) ran after her to stop her. He couldn’t figure out what she was doing.

She explained to him that obviously someone had been injured badly and she was trying to get to him as quickly as possible. He probably had to tackle her to stop her, which is pretty ironic considering it was a football game. He explained to her that it was a “HUDDLE” and what that meant exactly. I laughed my butt off when she told me. That is such a Darcy move if I ever heard of one.

Like in high school when I attempted to play basketball and shot at the wrong basket. The saving grace was that I sucked (of course) so I missed the basket.

Or the first time I went to a professional hockey game. I was living in Chicago at the time and my roommate took me to a Blackhawk’s game. Now she happened to be very athletic and sports-gifted, unlike me. We were sitting there with thousands and thousands of people and a fight broke out. At a hockey game? Really? It was my first one so I had no idea that fighting was pretty standard. So all those people were going crazy and cheering the fight on. I was mortified. I thought I was witnessing humanity at its very worst. I started crying. Yes, I actually started crying. I thought it was violent and cruel. My roommate laughed so hard at me I thought she was going to pee her pants.

See how much I’ve evolved? I can go to a Sabres game and relish the fight like everyone else. I get caught up in it like everyone else. And I’ve learned the rules. Last fight I saw, our guy got the crap kicked out of him. But at the last moment, he was on top and pulled the other guy down to the ice. Everyone went wild. So I learned that you can lose badly, but the only thing that matters is the last five seconds. Everyone forgets what happens before that.

I even went to a game recently with someone who does not like the Sabres. I endured his pot shots as the Sabres lost, like they do ever so often unfortunately. I threatened to beat him up, but he’s a prison guard so I thought better of it. I may have evolved, but I’m not stupid!

Never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would consider that growth. What has happened to my bleeding heart? But hey, I do know what a football huddle is so I guess I’m not completely hopeless :)!