I remember thinking when my oldest son turned 10, in the same amount of time he will be a man. The decade between 10 and 20 holds so many changes, and I was no exception to the rule.
I have shared before that my mom died when I was 11, and that I think of my life as “before she died” and “after she died”. The few years after her death were some of my hardest.
Not only was I dealing with the loss of my mother but by 12 my period started and my emotions were all over the board. I was either completely lost in thought or crying.
Puberty can be hell for so many of us and my personal experience was compounded by loss and sorrow. Worst of all, about the only thing I knew about having a period was I had to use those giant pads from the 1960’s my mom had used.
I was born in 1959 in a little town in Northern California. While that is probably not very significant, the fact that I was my mother’s ninth child, my father’s tenth child and my parents’ fifth child together is significant. I know, confusing right?
From the moment I can remember anything about my life, I was
surrounded by lots of people. Not only did I have a bunch of siblings but I
also had many cousins. There was always someone to play with.
My parents were hardworking people who made their living off the land.
As a matter of fact, my father’s occupation is on my birth certificate. Ranch hand. I find it interesting that my dad’s profession was necessary on my birth certificate. In a way, I have been “classed” from the beginning.
I had this great plan to come up with a new name and have a blog post ready and everything in place on May 10th, and I was on track to do it. Only Instagram doesn’t let us hold a name.
Let me back up. I have known for a while that I would change my blog name and social media names after turning 60. I was given wise counsel that I could risk losing followers, and people may have a hard time finding me. After all; I have built a name as “Countdown to 60”, but I still wanted a change.
By the time we reach 50 years old, most of us are pretty set in our ways. We know what we like and don’t like, we know just how things should be done and we certainly don’t need someone else mucking things up in our lives.
So getting married after 50 can have some challenges, especially for those of us who like to do things our own way.
The day after our wedding we left our hotel in San Francisco to go explore the city. It was a beautiful spring day, and we were excited to spend the day together as husband and wife.
Our wedding was everything we hoped it to be, and we were still on a love-high we wanted to bask in for as long as possible.
My phone rang as we stepped out onto the sidewalk and I answered immediately. My son and daughter-in-law were due to have daughter number two any day, and we were happily assigned to take care of daughter number one while they were at the hospital.
National Tartan Day was Saturday, April 6th, which was also my mother’s and younger brother’s birthdays, so I am a little late to the party. But I can’t pass up the opportunity to share a post about this day and its past.
History tells us it was April 6, 1320, when The Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed. Interestingly, our own declaration of independence was modeled after that very document with nearly half the signers being of Scottish descent.
It wasn’t until 1998 that the U.S. Senate made April 6th
National Tartan Day and the day is now celebrated throughout the country.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I cut my hair short; we went north to San Francisco to celebrate our anniversary, we went south to Murrieta courtesy of Explore Murrieta and then we spent last weekend celebrating our granddaughter’s 6th birthday.
Whew, I’m tired just writing that.
I shared my last two weeks on social media and out of everything I posted, getting my hair cut got the most attention. Especially when one week after cutting it super short, I shared that I had major regrets about it.
The overwhelming response was encouragement and support. A few pretty much told me to get over it as it will grow back. To which I wanted to respond, “Duh.” That was not the point of sharing my fear and remorse.
John and I got married on a Monday afternoon at San Francisco City Hall. There was no set-up or tear-down of decorations or chairs. There were no arches adorned with greenery and flowers. We didn’t have a rehearsal dinner because there was nothing to rehearse.
Instead we met John’s family and my best friend and her
husband at City Hall at 3:30 in the afternoon on March 13, 2013 and stood
before Judge Betty in the magnificent rotunda and both said “I do.”
We found a beautiful boutique hotel in San Francisco called Hotel Majestic. I thought it was a fitting tribute to our wedding at City Hall with its turn of the century Edwardian architecture.
I felt like royalty walking through the doors into the marble
tiled lobby. This beautiful old hotel was built in 1902 and is one of the few
buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires that
devastated so much of this amazing city.
After saying yes to John’s proposal, we both felt like we had finally arrived. The last two years had been quite the ride and we were ready to begin this new chapter of our lives together.
It was exciting to share the news with John’s family, but I was fretting about telling mine. How do I tell them I am getting married yet again? I made John promise to keep the secret from his family but everyone who was close to me knew the truth.
John and I went to see Captain Marvel on Sunday, and wow was it good! It is so gratifying to see movies with strong female protagonists.
So the next morning when I needed to go to a legal proceeding, I decided to harness a little Captain Marvel power of my own. The hearing was the kind where the client is not invited to participate or even be in the room. No, my assigned role was to sit in the lobby and wait until my attorney came out to give me the low-down.
When John went back home to get me clean clothes after my accident, he gathered my things and sat outside for a few moments. He told me he was so proud of me and how gracefully I handled the situation and that he sang, “Amazing Grace” for me.
That is how he came to the title of this post.
When I was 10, my Aunt came to live with us.
That may not seem like a big deal; but since my family is from Ireland, it meant she had to travel about five thousand miles to do so.
When John asked me to marry him, the first word out of my mouth was “No.” The look of surprise on his face made me want to take it back. The poor guy was standing on a big boulder holding my hands and asking me a question he thought he would never ask anyone again.
But I had made a promise to myself that John didn’t know
I was just a few months shy of 54, and life had thrown me some curveballs when it came to romance and especially marriage. If you have been reading my blog, you know this was not my first proposal…or even second.
The reason John chose to ask me to marry him on February 13, 2013, was because it was February 13, 2012, when he told me he could never see us getting together. Ever.
Guest post: John P. Gavin – The Real Trouble with Valentine’s Day
(This was the first column in a long time I didn’t send to Loretta to proofread before sending it to my editor, and that felt weird. I didn’t send it because she broke up with me the day before, albeit with good reason. But I didn’t want to see that yet. So I was annoyed – and a little shook up – and very cranky. Let’s see if any of that comes across in the column).
The weeks after my accident were, in a strange way, some of the best in my life. I know that sounds odd, but you need to remember my past experiences of being taken care of were not such stellar memories.
I’ve never had anyone dote on me like John did during those weeks of recovery. He wrote down all medications and times I’d taken what and made sure I was taking a probiotic to offset the antibiotic prescribed by my doctor.
He drove me to doctor visits and physical therapy and he even helped me with my hair. I could hardly go to the bathroom without him wanting to assist me. I felt completely spoiled and cared for by the man I loved, and it was the first time in my life I’d experienced that.
As I stood on the deck holding my left hand, I could feel the void and knew what had happened. I also knew I couldn’t look at it. I just stood there trying to breathe through the burning pain I felt in my left thumb.
With my eyes squeezed shut, I kept saying out loud, “It burns! It burns”! Within seconds John was at my side talking to me and leading me into the house.
Grabbing a towel from the kitchen, he told me to turn away so he could see the extent of the injury. Talking in quiet, hushed tones, he assured me everything would be okay; but I had a hard time believing him in that moment.
John wrapped my hand with the towel and put an ice pack on it and told me he’d be right back. What was probably just a few minutes felt like an eternity; so I called out to John asking where he was. He came back into the house and said, “Looking for your thumb, honey.”
When John and I got the news his sentence would be community service, we were overjoyed. Over the coming months, we worked side by side at the Boys & Girls Club repainting interiors, working with the kids and helping out with special money raising events.
I had been a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club before, and it was a natural fit to pick that charity to help. John was in his element as a natural Mr. Fix-it and was happy to help out an organization in need.