Last year, 2008, was pivotal for our family. While the year started off as any new year does, life's tide changed quickly. The first part of 2008 was dealing with Mom's disease as it progressed to a new level to the point that she was placed in hospice. Our family summer trip changed. We always came home, but this time it wasn't for the kids to reconnect and scrapbooking retreats. It was to take care of Mom. And, with God's Blessing, that's what I did. By August, she had failed hospice and was back (almost) to her old self. We were blessed to have her here for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Very truly blessed.
Marisa graduated middle school. No longer was she confined to a safe, morally controlled educational and social bubble. She moved into mainstream high school. And with that came teenage challenges, normal challenges, but new to her. Once again, with God's Blessing, we were able to work through them. While at times it seemed as though we were just treading water until the next "challenge" we made it through one semester! Marisa was also Confirmed and is now a full-fledged member of our Catholic faith. She attends Mass with her friends, not as often as Danny and I would like, but she does stay connected. For this we are thankful, and once again, very truly blessed.
Tony started off 2008 as any other pre-teen trying to find his way. The old adage "boys will be boys" is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our son. He has always been that square peg squeezed into a round hole. For the most part, the fit worked, snug and on the verge of bursting, but workable. Until...8th grade. With Marisa in a separate school (previously, they had always been at the same school), Tony was on his own, no buffer, no big sister to help smooth relationships over. We had let Marisa have extra freedom, so we also gave it to Tony. But, as "boys will be boys", soon the square peg no longer fit. We moved our son to the neighborhood mainstream public school, but not without heartache, tears, doubts, and fears. Tony thrived. Surprisingly, square met square. For the third time, we were very truly blessed. In 2009, Tony will be Confirmed in our Catholic faith.
Danny continues to be our family's Rock of Gibraltar, always steady and calm. He was supportive when Mom got sick. With my trips to Texas every few weeks, he was in charge of the kids. They were fed, clothed, marginally supervised; and, the house was still standing. So, I am grateful for the support. As the kids progressed through changes and challenges, Danny was there as any papa bear would be: watching, listening, contemplating, then acting with a vengeance filled with protectiveness, but add reason. For this, we are very truly blessed.
Pets are very important to our family. We lost a pet this year. Ivy. We chose her from the Humane Society when the kids were little bitty. She was a runner and a fast one at that. She traveled to Texas with us, slept with us, played with us, and protected us with an ear-splitting bark. As Marisa was Confirmed and my Mom had entered into hospice, Ivy suddenly became old. We knew it was time. We prolonged the inevitable, then one morning we said our final good-byes to the old girl. Marisa sent herself a text message that said, "7:42am was the last time I saw Ivy". To this day, Marisa keeps Ivy's collar under her pillow. I can't change Marisa's pillow case without her reminding me to leave the collar alone. Ivy was a great companion and a wonderful bit of happiness for my kids. Very truly blessed.
And there is me, Angie. Throughout the year, I felt as though I have been tested to my utmost limit. Limit as in the end, no more, hang it up, get off the boat, out of the kitchen, walk away, stop the madness. It was difficult to "go with the flow", "let go, let God", "have faith", "mind the gap". Everything in me wanted to go against the grain, fight, resist, stand tall, walk with a big stick. That's my way...defiant self-determination...but it doesn't work. I needed by husband, my parents, my kids, my friends. What about their self-determination? My kids have transitioned up one more level toward independence. I have always been with them. When they were little I volunteered at the school. As they become older, I worked at the school. Now, they have made another leap onward. It was time for me to change as well. I left education and returned to social work. But this time, not with children and families services, but with the elderly, sick, and homebound. Am I reflecting my life in my work choice? A parallel? Or, a paradigm? I realize that I can't fix everything for everyone. There will always be sickness, death, rites of passage, struggles, and challenges. But, I have learned through this past year's trials and tribulations to "have faith" and for this I am very truly blessed.