Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Snow-vember revisited

We are in West Seneca and in the eye of the latest snowstorm. I have been reposting blogs from years ago on a different site and I was reminded about a much bigger storm we had a few years ago so let’s take a trip down memory lane. It was dubbed “Snow-vember” and we had seven feet of snow dumped on us in one shot.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.

That is my backyard. The fence is about five feet and the snow is almost at the top. Here is another one.

That little black dot is the mirror of our car. We are still not dug out from that. And if the outside perils aren’t enough to deal with, this is my favorite picture of all.

That, my friends, is my kitchen ceiling. The bathroom, basement and upstairs bedroom also have water damage.

My neighbor across the street has been laid up for five weeks after knee surgery. Two houses down, my neighbor is very sick with his third bout of cancer. And about 10 minutes away, my daughter-in-law is on bed rest with a high-risk pregnancy. She has been hospitalized several times. I am praying my heart out that nothing happens while she is unable to get to an emergency room if needed. I will take my problems any day.

But what is my point?

Tuesday, the Sabres decided not to cancel their game. I guess the show must go on. They put a sentence or two on their website telling fans to respect the driving bans in their neighborhood. I thought it was a poor decision, but didn’t dwell on it.

But then yesterday, I heard the Bills were offering to pay people to shovel their stadium for the game on Sunday. I went ballistic. What the hell is wrong with the priorities of our society? There is a damn driving ban in Orchard Park (where the stadium is). Are they kidding? How about they get people together to help dig out the people who are stranded? Especially those with medical issues! The football stadium? They are ticketing people out on the roads. I AM TOTALLY DISGUSTED.

Now I will really go out on a limb here and risk pissing people off. I’m pretty liberally minded, but how about some common sense? How about using prison inmates to do some shoveling? Or even some welfare and unemployed folks who are physically able to work? There are so many areas that have zero snow, or barely a dusting. So let’s gather them and help each other out. But not to shovel out the stadium. Let’s get our priorities straight people!

Ok, I am going back to my shovel now… lol. Really not trying to offend anyone, but some things just have to be said.”

Here I am several years later. There are a lot of great people out there. Unfortunately, I still think society at large has some messed up priorities. Sigh. Also, good to be reminded that I have been opinionated for a very, very long time…Lol.


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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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Duh Moments

The “duh” moments just keep increasing. Let’s see. I sent a payment in the mail except it returned in my mailbox. Good thing I had my address and stamp on it so it came back. The only thing missing was the entire name and address it was going to. Nice.

Then there was Tim’s hunting/lawn chair. I took it to Dave’s track meet and forgot it there. One of the parents took a picture and texted it to me. He brought it back which was nice because it was an hour away. Fast forward to another track meet. That parent laughed and said, remember when you forgot that? Yep, I will never do that again. Of course, that very same day, you guessed it. I left the chair. Only this time there was no one there to rescue it. I drove back the next morning but it was gone. My cousin started #prayfortim.

My favorite one was coming in the house to ask the boys what the heck happened to the basketball net. We have two in our driveway. Now they are big, and with all the wind we get they tend to fall down. I was passing by the yard and noticed only one of them was on the ground. How could anything so big go missing?

Timmy did his usual blank stare and Dave asked what the heck I was talking about. He goes over to the window and says they are both there. I go over to the window and point out there is only one laying on the ground. He points out that the other is standing next to it in the upright position, just like it’s supposed to be. OMG, I really am losing it.

One thing I did get right though. Dave has a small room off his closet. It has slanted roofs so the space is difficult. It used to be a playroom but at 16, it had become a dumping ground for hockey equipment. Tim and Timmy got on the mission and designed this lovely thing.

It looks like a professional locker room if you ask me. (The picture looks like the shelf is slanted up but it’s actually not.) Do you think it might not smell as bad if that equipment is hanging like that? One can only hope. Kudos to the men in the house for deisgning and building in a difficult space.

Sometimes my brain works.


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Screwed Up Priorities

Frankie is an avid athlete. He gives 110% for any sport he plays. Currently, he is a cross-country runner and a hockey player. You can see his effort and passion just by looking at him.

DSC_5798.JPGI have been making sure lately that I am thanking his coaches. When I go to meets or games, I am often appalled by the behavior of other coaches and parents. We have truly been lucky to have had great role models 90% of the time.

At a recent hockey game, I was sitting near a kid who looked like he was in sixth or seventh grade. He yelled on and off during the entire 75 minutes of the game. His mother sat next to him not responding in the slightest. He was belittling the referees by calling them “zebras” and “blind zebras” over and over again. At some point, everyone gets frustrated with refs and yells out, but there is a difference when you are denigrating them. If for no other reason, this young kid should show respect to them simply because they are adults. What is this kid’s future going to look like?

Cross country showed some unsavory characters as well. One coach was screaming at the guys, “You are running against these guys. They are not your friends. Stop running with them.” I can’t give you the intonation in written word, but it was awful. Frankie’s team supports each other and have each other’s backs. They cheer each other on and want everyone to be successful.

The worst was when I was talking to the girls after their race. They were talking about the moms from one of the other teams. She said one mom yelled out to her daughter, “At least you can burn off those calories you ate last night at dinner.” I was proud of our girls for realizing that was inappropriate. Plus, they had seen how that girl reacted to her mom and it wasn’t good. All I could think about was how she was a shoe-in for developing an eating disorder.

Competition is good for us. It motivates us and challenges us. Not everyone can have a trophy. But what I adamantly believe, is that my son needs to be a great human being first, and a great athlete second. Winning is NOT everything. Character IS everything. I’m extremely grateful for the coaches and parents we are surrounded by that seem to agree with that.

By the way, I’m pretty damn proud of Frankie- his skills as well as his sportsmanship. Well done!


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Minor Frustrations

Last weekend, Frankie took a hit in his last hockey game of the season. I watched his teammates huddle around him, probably so he wouldn’t go after the kid and get suspended or something. It wasn’t necessary because I think it will be a long time before he finds himself in that situation again.

A few minutes later, he skated off the ice. He never does that voluntarily so I knew something was up. His coach told me later that he took that hit to his head and was feeling dizzy, so he removed himself from the ice.

Of course, Frankie said it was no big deal and he didn’t need any followup. The problem is, I’ve been following Dr. Daniel Amen online (see my spect imaging blog) and know just enough to make me dangerous. Head injuries are nothing to mess around with. At the same time, I don’t want to over react either.

I sought out a professional opinion and received the name of a pediatric neurologist. After spending a few days playing phone tag, I spoke to a nurse who wouldn’t say one word to me other than he needs to be a patient before they will talk to me. I get in the age of law suits that docs have to protect themselves. And I get that it’s generally bad practice to say too much without seeing a patient. What I was looking for was general information and protocol. I expected something like, “Well, you know of course it is best to come and be seen personally by the doctor. We think that any time there is a hit to the head, no matter how big or small, it should be followed up with an x-ray.” Or “You know of course it is best to come and be seen personally by the doctor. Generally though, if there are no symptoms such as throwing up or blurry vision, there is no need for an x-ray.” Docs and nurses give that kind of advice all the time. Every time my dad is released from the hospital they say, “Call us if he spikes a fever or vomits.” Is that any different?

I emailed back the first physician and got back a curt reply. I realize that I offended him which I certainly wasn’t trying to do. He said that a doc shouldn’t say anything without a personal evaluation (which I wasn’t asking for specifically, just for some direction about how to know what signs to look for if further followup is needed). He also said that is how law suits happen (which I know would be awful, but then it supports by original complaint, it comes down to money now most of the time).

He also said that I could find generic information online. I thought docs usually hate when patients do that. I wasn’t trying to be lazy. I actually asked the nurse if she could tell me any sources of information that are credible and reliable. She wouldn’t answer that either. His last comment was that this doctor was ethical. I wouldn’t know. I couldn’t talk to him, only his nursing staff.

I don’t want to be a cynic. I don’t want to be part of the problem. But how do you not end up feeling like in the end, it feels more like it’s about getting to bill us for a patient appointment?  And for a specialist like that, I’m sure it would require a referral and more extra steps. I just want to be a good mom. Not over reacting, not under reacting.

I will do my own research, but I stand by my reaction. I’m very disappointed in the response I got. There are ways to give out good information and still cover your ass, but I guess you would have to want to.


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Pit Bulls and Hockey Moms

I have a sign in my basement that says, “The only difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom is lipstick.” It reminds me of that NHL commercial that used to be on. Two men get on an elevator wearing rival team jerseys. The next time the door opens they both come out looking beaten up. The line is something like, “hockey fans are a different breed” or some similar sentiment.

I get it, but I have to admit I haven’t fully acclimated and I probably never will. Frankie got into his first real hockey fight last weekend and ended up suspended for three games. People of all ages and genders congratulated him for a defense man’s job well done. Even my counselor said that it was good that he was such a tough player. It’s needed in a sport like that.

I repeat, I get it. But I had a stomach ache driving home from that game. While I can mentally wrap around it, every time he checks hard or looks like he might scrap, I stand on the bench, frozen with my hand over my mouth. I will never get used to watching my son in those situations. I figure everyone else can high-five him, but I just can’t. I wouldn’t scold him, but I just can’t bring myself to cheer him on. I worry to death about him.

At another game this week, I was hanging out with a bunch of parents. Frankie had told me they were playing a team that hadn’t won all season. I felt bad for them before I even got there. I remember the year Frankie was on a team like that. It was torture to go to the games. This night, the opposing team was short players too which meant the kids on the ice were utterly exhausted. I kept watching the goalie and seeing his head hang low every time our team scored against him.

Finally, I couldn’t help myself and just blurted out how sad the goalie looked. The parents started to chuckle and one of them turned and said, “Spoken like a true counselor.” That did it. Everyone cracked up, even me. I really am the social work type without even thinking about it. The jokes just piled on after that. They suggested I go over to the glass and try to talk to the poor kid. Maybe I could offer him my card and a free session. I could say things about his self-worth. You get the gist of it. It was all in good fun and I had to laugh with them and even played along with it.

Yep, I’m not a true hockey mom. I just don’t have enough pit bull instinct.

Actually, I have to admit, I’m more than okay with that. In fact, I hope that part of me never changes. (But let’s not tell Frankie!)


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Deja Vu

I had a visit from Tim the other night. It didn’t come in a dream or in the form of a hummingbird. He came embodied in his now 14-year-old son, Frankie. We have season Sabres tickets (NHL hockey). Tim had them for years and years. When I first met him, it drove me crazy. I thought the household passion for hockey was ridiculous. I remember Colin and Matthew playing mini-stick hockey in the living room and I would say in disgust to my mom, “Who the heck plays hockey in the living room?”

Of course, I have had to eat my words (and my attitude) about a thousand times since them. Frankie and his brothers and friends still play mini-stick hockey all the time and of course, the best place to play is in the living room. I get it now.

We often struggled financially for the first few years of our marriage. I finally saw a purpose for those damn tickets when the Sabres made the play-offs. People could sell their tickets for enough money to pay for the entire next season! Tim was mortified at the mere suggestion of  selling play-off seats and I couldn’t believe it. Then I went to a play-off game with him. Holy cow. I couldn’t believe it. The energy was out of this world. I never asked him to sell those tickets again. The Sabres in the play-offs? Priceless. No amount of money would be worth it. (Ok, maybe a million bucks or something.)

Usually Colin and Frankie get the tickets. They are super great seats. Here is our view of the ice:img_20170110_185749335

See what I mean?

Anyhow, I decided to take Frankie to the game this week. He is a teenager, so of course he wasn’t thrilled with the idea. In fact, he said no at first, but then he came to his senses. Now, he was only eight-years-old when his dad died, but sometimes it freaks me out by how much he can mimic him. Part of me was thinking that I’m the parent so I need to put my foot down. Then I thought better of it and decided not to rock the boat any more than was necessary. Getting him to spend the evening with me was miracle enough.

The first argument, I knew, was going to be parking. Tim knew where to park so you didn’t have to pay. I would only go to one game a year so I would tell him that I wanted to park close and pay. It is cold and miserable in Buffalo in the winter, but he was driving so I always ended up walking and freezing my ass off. Frankie is quite indignant about paying for parking. He thinks it’s ridiculous. It was raining and the winds were horrid, but we parked where he told me to (which was of course, where his dad used to) and walked to the arena. I was cursing under my breath…LOL.

I tried to engage him in conversation throughout the game, but unfortunately I am hopeless. I kept saying the things that absolutely drive him bonkers. Such a woman. I don’t get the intricacies of the game so I comment on things I know. “Hey, number 90 is Ryan O’Reilly? He is the fathead you got for Christmas right? I didn’t realize who he was. He is my favorite player.” Frankie looks at me in shock. Why is he my favorite player? Now I am silent. I can’t possibly explain to him that last year when Emily was in town, she and her friends and I went to a game. Number 90 always warms up the same way and he is different from the other players. He does these stretches that look incredibly sexy and naughty on the ice. I just tell Frankie, “No reason.”

More dumb comments from a mom. Hey, a lot of the players have beards now. What’s up with that? What will they do when it is play-off time when they are supposed to grow beards? Again, Frankie just says, “Grow their beards longer.” He hates that the only thing I seem to notice is the looks of the players. What can I say? I’m a single woman and some of the players that still have teeth are pretty hot.

A second miracle occurred. Frankie agreed to a selfie and even said I could post it. You can tell by his face that he wasn’t thrilled, but he let me.img_20170110_185509102

It was a great game. We actually won. There was a big fight in the first period. Other than embarrassing Frankie by dancing when we scored, we managed quite well together.

Then the drive home (after the long walk to the car) and more arguments about taking the side streets home rather than the thruway. I spent the night with my teenage son and my deceased husband. It was a great night!