Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Scars

I mentioned the fun of my high school reunion last blog. It was a blast and I laughed til my stomach hurt. But you know me, no sweet without the bitter. I wouldn’t actually say bitter this time, but being the psychology person I am, I can’t help but watch social events and catch all the nuances going on.

It actually makes me feel a little better. I remember things from elementary school on and scold myself often with, “Let it go, it was ___ years ago!” And I have let things go, but I still remember. And I still know they had an impact on my life. But I heard several stories and comments those evenings at the reunion that made me realize I’m not the only one.

I brought up our fifth grade teacher who sticks out to me as someone who should not have been teaching. He was known for picking his nose which about 98% of us remembered. But what I didn’t mention is how he embarrassed me. We had to write a personal essay and I chose to write about two of my friends that had ganged up on me and made fun of my sneakers. It hurt my feelings. So lovely Mr. Hyde read my paper, then called up the two friends I wrote about and at his desk he whispered to them. They were pointing to shoes and clearly making fun of me again. He was an asshole in my opinion.

One lovely friend brought up our fourth grade teacher. He actually spanked students on their birthday. Can you imagine anyone attempting to do that nowadays? But that wasn’t even the bad memory. The bad memory was the nicknames he gave students. He called me “Duckie” because my last name is Thiel and a teal is a duck. But he called my friend “Slim” because, well she wasn’t exactly slim back then. I’m sure that hurt. By the way, she is in her 40’s now and beautiful as hell. She is much thinner than I am too!

One friend talked about sixth grade and being absent from school one day. When she returned everyone had stopped talking to her. The funny thing was (which I did NOT bring up) that I have the same memory, also in sixth grade. And she was one of the girls that stopped talking to me. It is very traumatizing to some to be excluded. Apparently six grade girls are brutal when it comes to that stuff.

And then there was our sixth grade teacher that we all talked about with regret. We tortured her. She was not able to control the class and we took advantage of her. Plus we all ate jello mix all day so we were charged up with sugar to boot. The funniest time was when one kid took his desk and chair and moved it out to the middle of the road. It was an extremely busy road for those parts, and she didn’t notice right away. If she was still alive, most of us would probably call and apologize to her.

Another dear friend, and an instrumental person in organizing our reunions, had the biggest story of all. Remember all those things you would vote on? I was voted most likely to become president of the US. Ha, we all missed the boat on that one. I was also voted most generous. I had forgotten that one. I went over to the male most generous and reminded him. He said he had already been reminded several times during the night. Once the word got out, everyone asked him to buy them a drink! LOL!!

But one of those categories was most conceited. My dear friend, while we were all sitting at the picnic table together, reminded us of our vote. She loudly said she had two words for us. She enunciated both words quite clearly and had two hands with finger gestures to make sure the message was loud and clear. We all laughed our asses off. I reminded her that I was most generous so I probably didn’t vote on that one. 🙂

Let it go? Sure. We all had a sense of humor. But really. Why is there even such a thing as most conceited? Why do people even want to go for things like that? Label people. As it turns out, she is one of the least conceited persons I know. She’s a lovely human being. I’m sure she knows that, but it must still be an ouch in her memory.

I guess it’s all part of growing pains. We all do things as kids we regret. But let’s face it, we’re kind of dummies as adults too. We all say things we shouldn’t. Some don’t say anything but can shoot a piercing dirty look that is just as deadly. Or maybe we just disengage from life altogether and shut people out or not let them get too close.

So let’s give ourselves a pass on our childhood scar-making. But let’s straighten up today and be a positive force in the world.

Love all you guys, but a special kiss and hug out to the 1985 Royalton-Hartland class 🙂 Not a bad-looking group for our late forties!

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Cheating

I’m cheating this week on the blog. I just got done writing a letter to Frankie’s teacher at his request. In a million words or less, tell me about your son. I kind of liked it when I was done so I thought why not blog it?

September 2013

Thank you for your interest in my son, Frankie. Feel free to share this with any of his teachers. How do you sum up an entire person in a paragraph or two? So thanks for giving me a million words!

In kindergarten, Frankie wrote a story called “The Kite and the Snowflake” that his teacher caught in his writing journal. She entered it in the Reading Rainbow contest and he came in 2nd place with over 700 applicants. It was a beautiful and poignant story and it put him on the map at school. He was asked to read his book to the entire school and also to the Board of Education. He was told there that he would probably be the President someday. (I hope not. I have bigger dreams for him than politics.)

At the end of first grade, Frankie’s father was diagnosed with stage IV gallbladder cancer. We started a blog on CaringBridge that his teachers, social worker, principal, etc. all followed in order to know what life was like for Frankie at home. The support was overwhelming.

At the beginning of second grade, Frankie’s father died in October. The principal actually was the one who brought Frankie to Hospice that day. She describes the ride there as one she will never forget. The school and staff continued to be amazing. In second and third grade, Frankie attended a grief group at school. In fourth grade he told me “it’s time to move on” and he stopped attending.

Frankie is amazing. He has my emotional drama so he is sensitive when you least expect it. He is also very silly (like me) and has taken great pride in being dubbed the class clown. He is confident and expressive which led him last year to dress up as Cinderella for Halloween, wear nail polish for a week, and color his hair pink for a day and wore a “breast cancer awareness” shirt.

He is smart as a whip. His passions are sports, especially hockey. He can truly hold a conversation with any adult regarding sports. He was even “hired” this year as a fantasy football coach for a draft pick by a very serious guy. He can recite a ridiculous amount of information about ANY NHL or NFL player, not just the Buffalo teams. His dream is to be a general manager someday. He plays hockey for our town team.

He also can sometimes be lazy. Because he is so smart, he doesn’t have to work very hard. Last year he was FAILING social studies. Why? Because they were all open book tests and he assumed he didn’t need to bother to open them.
This year he has been exceptionally independent. I haven’t been checking his planner and he just responds with “I’ve got it covered, Mom”. I will trust he knows what he is doing unless I am informed otherwise by any of his teachers. He has the capability of getting straight As, but in spite of what he might tell you, I do not expect that of him. I’m much more interested in him becoming a well rounded human being.

Just an FYI- Scott (the school Social Worker) has been our family therapist for over ten years. He has been through all of our blended family trials, through Tim’s sickness and death. Frankie prefers NOT to go to counseling, but you can always talk with Scott at any time about anything at all. He knows our family extremely well.

Overall, Frankie seems very adjusted. His half brother Colin is 29 and still lives with us. You will no doubt here about him quite often. He only works part time so is around a lot. They are inseparable. I am now the bread winner and work a lot. Colin cooks most of Frankie’s meals and usually does his homework with him. I suspect Frankie’s adjustment to his life without a dad would be much different if Colin were not here.

I love to be involved. If there is ever anything at all that I can get my foot in the door with, please allow me the chance to do so. If it’s reading, parties, making copies, doing computer work, whatever at all, I find having some sort of presence in the school is very helpful with Frankie and with knowing his friends.
Thanks for taking care of my boy. He’s a handful and a challenge and a delight.

Darcy Thiel

P.S. I will also shamelessly promote the book I wrote called “Bitter and Sweet, a Family’s Journey with Cancer” that came out last March. If you want to understand Frankie, myself, and our family, it’s a great book that has gotten excellent reviews. I have copies or it is available everywhere on line.