Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

Just another weblog

Unlucky 13

I’m not a superstitious person. Really I’m not. But today is my Friday the 13th and for the next year 13 will be my unlucky number. You see, today is the 13th anniversary of the day that changed my life. Thirteen years ago we lost my father to the demon disease, cancer. My dad was the kind of dad that every kid wants. He was funny, brilliant, dedicated, and he loved us. We always knew he loved us. He was affectionate and would never hesitate to give us a hug or tell us he loved us. And on the flip side, he was the bad guy when needed. I was sure his hand was as big as a frying pan when I was little. Or at least it felt like it was.

My dad was my first knight in shining armor. I remember being a little girl and just knowing I was going to marry him. Well, I was four, give me a break! But as I grew and started dating, he was the standard all men were measured against. And let me tell ya, he set that bar pretty darn high.

My pop was a big bear of a man, but he was all squishy and loveable on the inside. And a joker. Ohmygosh did he love a good joke. Or to pull a joke on someone, like his friend Mike Tyler. Mike owned a furniture store next door to my dad’s office and they were like-minded in the dry humor department. For grins, one day my dad bought a can of Skoal (disgusting, repulsive stuff), dumped it out and replaced it with chopped up raisins. Dad was a smoker, not a dipper. blech to both. Anyway, so he’s standing around shooting the breeze with Mike and casually pulls the can out of his pocket and proceeds to place a ‘dip’ in his lip, as if this is nothing new and happens every day. Mike’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head and he started in on my dad,

‘What are you doing?’

‘What? what do you mean?’

‘That! You don’t dip!’

‘Sure I do. I just started.’

it goes on for a bit and at some point my dad finally came clean. (I wasn’t actually there to see this, I heard about it later, I’ve inserted what I think may have been said.) But it really happened, we found the can in his desk after he passed.

He had a stubborn streak too, maybe that’s where I get my determination from. When he was in his very early 40’s he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have a vivid memory of visiting him in the hospital. His tumor caused him to have a seizure commonly called an absence attack. It’s like the lights are on, but no one’s at home. He was driving late at night and had one of these seizures and wrecked his car. This was when the tumor was discovered. The news just kept getting worse. Not only was he in a bad crash, he had a brain tumor on top. My visit to the hospital after his wreck was earth shattering. Here was my Superman, lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask, two black eyes, and numerous other cuts and bruises. He wasn’t supposed to look like that. Things like that weren’t supposed to happen to my dad. That was the day I learned that yes, it can happen to me.

Dad went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment. They did the best they could, but were not able to remove all of the tumor, so he did chemo & radiation. My uncle bought my dad a goofy Tina Turner wig as a gag so he wouldn’t have to be totally bald. That stubborn streak served him well. The doctors told him that the 5 year survival rate for his type of cancer was only about 5%. Which means only 5% of people with that diagnosis live to the 5 year mark, post-diagnosis. What did my dad do? He told the doctors to piss off, they don’t know everything, and they’re sure as hell not gonna tell him when it was time to die. GO DAD! He changed his diet and lifestyle significantly and he did it, he lived, and lived well, for 18 more years.

I don’t know how I would have turned out if he’d listened to the doctors and not made it to the 5 year mark. I was 13 when he had his wreck. Thirteen is an awkward enough age and I was still reeling from my parents divorce when he was given this diagnosis. I am so incredibly thankful that I didn’t have to find out. I am however very sad that my children will never know him and how much fun he could be. How his laugh sounded or how great his hugs were. He always wanted grandchildren. He had big plans to spoil the heck of them and send them home. My oldest was born the year after he died. I tell them about him all the time and what he used to do and the things he loved and enjoyed. Fathers have a profound effect on their children. I just wish that every child was fortunate enough to have a dad like mine. The world would be a much better and  different place.

Even though it’s been thirteen long years, I still miss him terribly and think of him daily. I still talk to him sometimes too. Not as much as I did in the beginning, but I do. Even though it does get easier, you never get over it. The pain is just not quite as raw as it was initially, but it’s still there.

I love you dad.


A Small Favor

I wrote a post previously about a friend who’s been diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. Her surgery was postponed because the neurosurgeon, the chief of staff, asked a skull base specialist to team up with him. More skilled hands can only be a good thing, right? Tomorrow is her big day. Where does the favor come in? No, I’m not going to ask for money to help pay her bills, or anything remotely like that. I am, however, going to ask for something from every person reading this. You can choose to do it, or not, but I truly hope you will. Say a prayer tomorrow for her, her family and her medical team. She has four children, ranging in age from 19 to 6 wks. She’s only 43. She needs to see them grow up and they need her.

Jami and I were never friends in high school. I knew who she was, our school was small enough to know who most people were. We just ran in different circles, I”m sure you can relate.  We have become cyber-friends through Facebook and planning a reunion. And now I feel a different kind of bond with her.  The kind I’d really rather not have, but I can’t change it, so I’ll do what I can to help her.

I had a realization a couple of weeks ago. My father was younger than I am now when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I never thought of my dad being my age, you know? I only thought of him being older than me, he was my dad. Kind of like never really seeing your parents as having been children, even though you may have seen photos, or even video possibly. By the time he was my age, he’d been handed a devastating diagnosis, gone through brain surgery, chemo and radiation.

The doctors do know now what type of tumor is in her brain, the imaging, as advanced as it is, cannot tell them whether it is benign or malignant at this stage, or what type of tumor, astrocytoma, glioma, etc. So, I’m joining her in praying for an uncomplicated, benign tumor that is easily removed and treated. I do hope that you will join me in keeping her and her family in our prayers tomorrow.

Thank you and God bless.



I think that’s the best word to use, even though it hasn’t really happened yet. I received some news about a friend of mine and writing about it is my way of dealing with things like this. 

We went to high school together. My high school was not huge, my graduating class was about 350. Pretty decent size, without being totally overwhelming. I knew who she was, and I think she knew who I was as well. We ran in different circles. What I remember about her from that time was that she was in choir/music/drama and had gorgeous long deep auburn hair. I really didn’t know anything else about her. I was too busy with myself then.

Last year, she found out we had no 25th class reunion planned and took it upon herself to begin planning one. She thought 25 years of anything is worthy of a celebration. It’s hard to argue with that logic! I reluctantly became her co-chair. I”d done it the last time and you know, there are never enough people who are willing to help plan an event like that. It was really just the two of us trying to pull this off. Long story short, it didn’t pan out, but we got to know each other through this process. She’s divorced and has three children ranging in age from 19 I think to 10. And she’s an 8th grade teacher. That right there takes a special person!

Last May, to her surprise and delight, she remarried and was very happy. Then, a few months later, she found herself pregnant. She was not happy about it initially. She was 43 years old and not planning on more children. It was funny, the conversation we had. I had been trying to reach her for several weeks and she was not returning any messages I left. when we finally spoke, I could tell she was not happy about something. But I’m not the person to pry. If she wants to tell me she will. And she did. She was pregnant and not thrilled with the idea. She said, ‘I just don’t know how it happened!’ Um, do we need to revisit Biology 101? Well, you see, when a man and a woman love each other….And when all the plumbing is still connected, that is always a possibility, I don’t care how old you are.

Fast-forward to March. She had a beautiful baby girl they named Amelia. Now comes the not so fun part. She had been experiencing double-vision and having some balance issues.  An MRI revealed a brain stem tumor. Yes, a brain tumor. Any time I hear the word ‘tumor’ I hear in my brain, Arnold Schwarzenegger saying  ‘it’s not a tumah’ from ‘Kindergarten Cop’. All joking aside, real tumors are not funny in the least. In fact, I can’t begin to imagine how her life has turned upside down in March, first a new baby and now this.

One huge reason I feel for her is that my dad had a brain tumor. It was more of a frontal lobe, not brain stem, but they removed it and it was cancer. My dad being my dad, wasn’t going to take the surgeon’s word for it when they told him the survival rate for that type of cancer and basically said, ‘screw you, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He drastically altered his diet and lifestyle and lived nearly 20 years after his initial diagnosis and treatment. Which leads me to say that doctors, while educated and knowledgable, don’t and can’t know everything. A patient’s desire to live and determination factor in the prognosis more than they would like to admit.

My friend will have surgery in a couple of weeks to remove the tumor. At that time they will biopsy and determine what type of tumor it is, as the MRI cannot reveal that, only a microscope can tell that information. We are working on the assumption that it is benign.

I just ask that you keep my friend, and everyone else diagnosed with cancer, in your thoughts and prayers. And that we continue to fight for a cure to this devastating disease.  I don’t think there’s a person on this planet who has not been touched by cancer in some way. Say a prayer for the patients, their families and especially the doctors treating them.

This is for you J.

Leave a comment »

For My Dad

Eleven years ago today, my world lurched,  tilted on its axis, and came to a screeching halt. It was the day my dad died and my life changed. I remember waking up the next day crying that I wanted my daddy back. As I got myself back together over the following days and attempted to pick up my normal routine, it just seemed so odd to me, and unfair that the world went on. People still went to work, the grocery, the mail was still delivered, the sun still rose and set, as if nothing had even happened. And here I was with a gaping hole in my chest feeling like everything was going to fall out at any second.

In 1981, my parents divorced and less than a month later, Dad was in a really serious car accident and nearly died. The accident was the result of a brain tumor that caused him to black out. I was 13 and my world was crashing around my very narrow shoulders. Talk about a basket case.

Dad went through surgery, chemo and radiation and was declared cancer free. We danced and thanked God. Dad also did his part to get healthy, he quit smoking and found some diets that would help rebuild his body and make him stronger.

My dad was an amazing man. He had a dry sense of humor and  loved bad jokes and pulling pranks on his friends. As far as I was concerned, he knew everything and could fix anything. Above all, he loved my brother and me. When doctors told him that his type of cancer had a low survival rate, he told that doctor it was not his job to tell him when he was going to die. he was that kind of person. He was very headstrong, but also very kind and loving. A bear of a man with the heart of a teddy bear.

Dad was the one who told me I could do anything I wanted to if I worked hard enough for it. He encouraged me to do things and try new things and always built me up, even if he thought I might not like something. When I was in 6th grade I think, I decided I wanted to play soccer. Even though he knew nothing about the sport, he volunteered to be one of the coaches. He showed me the value of hard work and acceptance. In a part of the country where prejudice and bigotry run rampant, he taught me to look at the person as a whole, the color of our skin does not define who we are and we’re all the same on the inside.

In the late 90’s, dad’s cancer returned and he began having increasingly regular blackouts, several of which lead to car accidents. One of those was extremely serious and landed him in the hospital for several days with multiple broken bones. he never really recovered from it and died 8 months later.

He lived long enough to see my brother and I grown and to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. he was even able to hand me my diploma when I graduated chiropractic college and followed in his footsteps. I miss him like mad and so wish he could’ve met his grandchildren. He would be so proud of them.

I love you dad.

Leave a comment »

The Most Important Men in the World

Today is Father’s Day. Or as my husband thinks of it, just another Sunday. He’s a very humble man. He doesn’t want to make a big to-do about himself at all. Me, I like to think of it as a day to honor him and the wonderful job he does with our children. So, to make a big to-do about not just him, but fathers everywhere, I’m writing this post.

From the very beginning of life, fathers are a different force in their children’s lives. They play with them differently, showing them that it’s ok to be physical when you play. I mean how many times do you see a mother tossing her 6 month old in the air?  Their voices are deeper and the children respond a little differently to them. If I could only tell you how many times I’ve said, “Stop jumping on the couch’ with little to no effect, but along comes dad with his booming voice, saying the same thing, and they immediately snap-to and stop doing whatever they were doing! I have to admit, it’s a little frustrating. It’s like dad is my secret weapon and they know if dad’s got the ‘big voice’ on, they’d better straighten up.

Fathers are so much more important than many of them think they are. I have a feeling more than one man has thought, ‘My kid has his/her mother, he/she’ll be fine without me. I’ll just pop in whenever it’s convenient for me (read almost never) and try to keep up with my child support.” This is just such an underestimation of their value, it’s mind-boggling. so many times we read of ‘dead beat dads’ who don’t pay their child support, or just simply vanish without a second thought of the children. It really is a tragedy.

Fathers set the example for how their boys act and for their daughters in how boys, and later men, should treat them. When men are abusers, the children see that and think it is the norm, the way that men are supposed to behave and it sets them in a cycle for a lifetime of hurt, both physical and mental. Yes, I am making a generalization here, but it is based on the lives of a few of my friends whose fathers were abusers, of their mothers, or themselves, or even both. They have been married multiple times and in completely dysfunctional relationships and my theory on that is because that’s what they saw as young girls. In fact, one of my friends, whose husband was an abuser, has two sons, and because they saw their father yelling at and beating their mother, thought it was perfectly acceptable to behave that way toward her and became rebellious and nasty toward her at very young ages (before they hit their teens). I blame this on the negative actions they lived with. She also has a young daughter and I hope she doesn’t fall into the cycle of abuse because of what she lived with.

On the other hand, fathers definitely set a good example for their children as well. My father set the bar extremely high for the men who came after him in my life. he treated me with love, respect, kindness and compassion. he was devoted to us and always put our needs first. Dad always encouraged us, even if he didn’t understand what it was we wanted. He coached my soccer team when I was younger, even though he knew nothing about the sport. He unfailingly told me that I could be whatever it was I wanted to be, as long as I worked hard enough for it. 

If he ever had to discipline us, he would say,’this hurts me more than it hurts you.’ I would be thinking, ‘Are you serious? I’m the one being spanked here!” Now I understand that statement and why he would say it. He didn’t like having to do it, but I swear when I was younger, it seemed like his hand was the size of a dinner plate! Discipline for children is so important, they need and want those kind of boundaries, so dads can’t back down from that no matter how unpleasant it may be at the time.

He taught us about what it meant to have a good work ethic and really how to treat others. He believed that we are all the same on the inside and the color of a person’s skin had nothing to do with the kind of person they were. I have tried to be like him in that manner as well. Although being in the south, sometimes it’s difficult to do, there is a lot of prejudice around, but I try to follow his example as much as  I can and not judge people based solely on what they look like.

Yes, i am a card-carrying member of the ‘Daddy’s Girl Club.’  When I was little, if you tried to tell me that he hadn’t hung the moon and stars just for me, there was no way I would’ve believed you. He knew everything, could do anything, and could fix anything. He was a chiropractor because he wanted to help people, and he did. He had such an effect on his patients, they still ask me about him to this day. He was not caught up in money, he felt that people were more important and he did everything he could to help. In fact, I found an acoustic guitar in a spare bedroom of his house and asked him about it. To my knowledge he didn’t play guitar, or any musical instrument other than the radio.  He told me that he’d treated a patient who was in need and couldn’t pay, so the man gave him the guitar as payment. He was jus that kind of man.

 He was the best and I miss him terribly. You see, my parents divorced when I was 13. (talk about one jacked up teenager!) Shortly after, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went thru the usual round of treatment surgery, chemo and radiation and declared cancer free. He drastically altered his lifestyle to give his body the strength it needed to fight the cancer. The 5 year survival rate for his kind of cancer is about 20%. That means after 5 years, only 20% of people diagnosed with that type of cancer are still alive. he beat that all to hell. He was very head strong and told me that he wa snot going to let a doctor tell him when he was supposed to die. He was an inherently positive and strong-willed person. BEcause of his strength of will, we got nearly 20 more years with him. He was able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and what little girl doesn’t dream about that? He was also allowed to present my diploma when I graduated college and became a chiropractor following in his footsteps. Shortly after my graduation, we got the devastating news that the cancer had returned and it was terminal. Once again that rug was pulled out from under me. We lost him three short months later. I miss him so much and tell my children about him every day.

If your father is still living, give him a big hug and tell him that you love him for all that he has done for you, because without him in your life, you would be a completely different person. I know I would. If you have children, be sure and tell your husband/baby daddy how much you appreciate him, fathers really do help shape the world.