Archive of ‘Nani’ category

Tell ‘Em that it’s Human Nature

It's fine, I don't need sunglasses you all just protect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

It’s fine, I don’t need sun­glass­es you all just pro­tect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

If you can’t do it in front of me, you prob­a­bly shouldn’t be doing it. My moth­er spoke those words when I was a young girl and they stuck with me through very dif­fi­cult times. There were moments in my life when I was tempt­ed to do not so great things like smok­ing in a bath­room, under­age drink­ing in a field, or that time I was with friends lis­ten­ing to a bootleg copy of a 2Live­Crew tape and I was cer­tain that the neigh­bors could hear and would call the police because we were com­plete­ly and total­ly ignor­ing that parental advi­so­ry. But nev­er fear, my mother’s cau­tion­ary wis­dom was always with me.

I had a blog post all ready to go about a recent adven­ture with my boys and I let her pre­view it, as I always do, and she said, “I don’t like it. Sor­ry.” At first I thought, well for­get you, I don’t care what you think. But then I had to dig deep­er, because even at 37-years-old, I seek parental approval. She was con­cerned that I was cast­ing my Hand­somes in a neg­a­tive light. Part of my deci­sion not to use their real names on my blog is for that exact rea­son. I nev­er want what I believe to be fun­ny to be hurt­ful, shame­ful or embar­rass­ing to them years lat­er. I likened her dis­taste for my post to a pair of her jeg­gings that are on my own per­son­al worst dressed list. Her respon­se, “But I can defend myself.” Mic drop!

As they get old­er, I sup­pose that I will need to be a bit more dis­cre­tionary with what I choose to post. Not that I would ever pur­pose­ful­ly embar­rass my chil­dren, but they may not love every detail of their lives shared. Back when I was a kid, I didn’t have a clue about the world around me and had no idea if my moth­er was telling all of her friends about the sil­ly things that I did.

Since there was no Inter­net way back then, sto­ries were beloved because they were told over and over and over again. We have many tales from our own child­hood that my broth­ers and I love to recount. I am cer­tain that this will hap­pen with my own chil­dren as they get old­er as well. Some have been shared with the world, some have been untold for 27 years.……But who’s count­ing?

Once upon a time, I was in to Michael Jack­son. Not like I kind of liked him, more like I kissed the poster on my clos­et door good­night, obsessed.  I want­ed noth­ing more than to win tick­ets to see him when he per­formed in St. Louis. It was 1988, I was nine, and the only way to win any­thing back then was to call in to radio and TV sta­tions dur­ing var­i­ous con­tests. A local tele­vi­sion sta­tion was run­ning a pro­mo­tion that involved video clips of pop­u­lar Michael Jack­son songs. When the video ran, you were to call in and say the name of the song being per­formed and you won. This was a dream come true! I could total­ly do this.

For days, I watched and dialed in a futile attempt to spend an evening lis­ten­ing to the King of Pop live with thou­sands of oth­er scream­ing fans. I would hit the redi­al but­ton over and over and over, only to be met by the fast busy sig­nal, my arch­en­e­my. The clips played once per 30-min­ute show, so there was quite a bit of lag time, but I kept busy. And when there are six peo­ple liv­ing in your house, there is con­stant chaos. Sure­ly some­one was cry­ing, some­one was scream­ing and some­one was just try­ing to keep her san­i­ty. It was Girl Scout cook­ie time and my moth­er had been tak­ing last min­ute orders from fam­i­ly and friends through­out the day. The­se final addi­tions had to be called in by that evening. She was mak­ing din­ner, but had just enough time to make one quick call for Thin Mints.

The last pro­mo spot of the day aired and I was ready. Human Nature, one of my most favorite songs. It had to be a sign from God that this was my shot. I grabbed the phone, hit redi­al and it began to ring. The but­ter­flies in my stom­ach were in over­drive. The moment I heard a hel­lo on the oth­er end of the line, I couldn’t speak. I stood motion­less, my eyes and mouth open. My Nani, real­iz­ing what was hap­pen­ing, grabbed the phone and began to scream.

Human Nature! Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature!”

I was in awe. She had done it. We had done it. All those hours of Diff’rent Strokes episodes had paid off! I was going to see Michael Jack­son. I began to pick out my out­fit for the evening and what auto­graphs I want­ed when the needle was ripped from the record.

Oh my God, mom! Who are you yelling at?” My moth­er asked.

She won the tick­ets. We got the tick­ets! I just redi­aled and I got the tick­ets. We’re going to see Michael Jackson,“I announced.

I said Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature” she con­tin­ued to yell.

Hang up! Hang up! Hang up the phone! That’s not the TV sta­tion. That’s the Girl Scouts!”

The two of them pro­ceed­ed to laugh to to the point of no return, tears flow­ing down their cheeks and tin­kle down their legs. It was the 1980s. There was no caller ID, no *69, and absolute­ly no way for any­one to ever know that very strange phone call came from our house. The three of us swore to secre­cy that night, all for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. I was dev­as­tat­ed, they were embar­rassed and the poor per­son on the oth­er end of that call was con­fused.

My moth­er was look­ing out for my best inter­ests then, not want­i­ng me to be humil­i­at­ed or dis­ap­point­ed and she is still look­ing out for those inter­ests today. No mat­ter how old I am, I will hope that I am mak­ing her proud. As a moth­er, I can only pray to instill the same cau­tion and love in my own chil­dren. My biggest dream for them is to find laugh­ter in the lit­tle things. Every time Human Nature comes up on my iTunes I can smile know­ing that it brings such a won­der­ful mem­o­ry for me and a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, and like­ly ter­ri­fy­ing, mem­o­ry for some­one else.

Mother's are always right...Ugh....

Mother’s are always right…Ugh.…

To My Nani Nine Years Later.…..


Nine years ago today was one of the most emo­tion­al­ly thrilling and equal­ly dev­as­tat­ing days of my life. Just the day before, I had an over­whelm­ing urge to take a preg­nan­cy test, some­thing that had nev­er even crossed my mind before. I was home alone and stared down at those two pink lines know­ing that my life was about to change in the most pro­found way, but hav­ing no idea what that real­ly meant. My first incli­na­tion was to tell my Nani, even before my hus­band or my moth­er. She had been my very best friend for my entire life and I always shared my biggest news with her.

She was very ill, in the hos­pi­tal, and I knew that my time with her was like­ly com­ing to an end. But she was a cat with nine lives and I hoped that she would give us all one more mirac­u­lous recov­ery. After shar­ing my news with The Grillin’ Fool, we decid­ed to head out to see her and tell her about our baby.

For the past few days the hos­pi­tal had been filled with our extend­ed fam­i­ly, vis­it­ing, pray­ing and lov­ing our Nani. There wasn’t a sin­gle moment that a cous­in, Aunt or Uncle wasn’t keep­ing vig­il over her bed. Because of the con­stant flow of vis­i­tors, I had not had a chance to tell my own par­ents that we were expect­ing. I felt a bit guilty, but knew that ulti­mate­ly they would under­stand why I chose to tell her first. I opened the door to her room and wait­ing inside were my three broth­ers, my par­ents and Nani lay­ing peace­ful­ly in her bed. Just my imme­di­ate fam­i­ly, no one else. I knew that God intend­ed for us to share this news right then and there with all of them.

I leaned in, kissed my Nani on the fore­head and said,

Nani, I have some­thing to tell you. I am going to have a baby.”

You could hear a pin drop. There were looks of shock on the faces of my fam­i­ly, but no one said a word. She opened her eyes, ever so slight­ly and smiled.

Oh hon­ey. I am so hap­py about your baby. That makes my life com­plete.”

The next day, she passed away. My heart broke in a way that I had nev­er expe­ri­enced. But even in my sor­row, I took solace in the fact that my final con­ver­sa­tion with her was to share the most amaz­ing news of my life and I knew that she would watch over me through­out my preg­nan­cy.

I believe in God, I believe in mir­a­cles and I believe in signs. I have felt her pres­ence in my life many times in the last nine years. As I was prepar­ing for Hand­some #1’s bap­tism the May after she died, Mau­r­mi brought over the sil­ver cup that Nani had given to me as an infant. It was hor­ri­bly tar­nished and the inscrip­tion was illeg­i­ble. Mau­r­mi scrubbed and pol­ished that cup until it looked brand new. She hand­ed it to me and as I read the engrav­ing, my heart skipped a beat.

Colleen McK­er­nan Dilthey

April 22, 1979

Most infant cups have the baby’s birth date on them. My Nani had mine inscribed with my bap­tismal date. That seem­ing­ly benign date also hap­pens to be Hand­some #1’s birth­day, the boy whose bap­tism we were prepar­ing for. She was there the day he was born, she was there the day he was bap­tized and she was with us in my kitchen as my moth­er and I cried star­ing at that cup.

Life has moved on in nine years and mine has changed so very much, but I don’t think that she has missed a thing. Sure, I wish that she was still here with me, but as I have grown old­er and wis­er, I use that word very cau­tious­ly, I real­ize that you have to live your best life while you are here on earth and your guardian angel will take care of you. When I need a lit­tle boost, I think of her and the won­der­ful things she did for me. I could write a book just about her and the Fri­day nights that I spent at her house watch­ing Love Con­nec­tion and eat­ing peanuts and drink­ing Sprite in bed.

While I miss her like crazy and I wish she was here, I watch her daugh­ter and she has embod­ied the very best of her own moth­er and is becom­ing her. My Nani was at every game, every per­for­mance, every thing that she could be for her grand­chil­dren. She was the ulti­mate cheer­lead­er and we could do no wrong. If you look out in the stands at St. Simon today, you will see that same fierce defend­er of her grand­chil­dren with a smile on her face and more love in her heart that any­one I know. Her name is Mau­r­mi and her grand­chil­dren adore her.

For the first 28 years of my life, I watched my Nani and my moth­er with envy. They had the kind of rela­tion­ship that many moth­ers and daugh­ters dream of hav­ing. I was close to my moth­er, but noth­ing like the two of them. My Nani had been my very best friend and it wasn’t until she was gone that I tru­ly began to appre­ci­ate my own moth­er for the wom­an that she is. I used to be a bit jeal­ous of the way that my children’s faces light up when she comes in the room, but then I remem­ber my own child­hood and real­ize that is the way it is sup­posed to be.

As a mom, I admire her. I know that she learned from the best in the world and I want like hell to be like them. No words can accu­rate­ly describe the way that I feel about my mom. She is my best friend, my part­ner in crime and the source of more laugh­ter than any per­son on the plan­et. Every min­ute that we spend togeth­er is cher­ished. She loves her fam­i­ly, her faith and her friends and will drop any­thing to help oth­ers. I can­not imag­ine what I would ever do with­out her. Many wom­en dread hear­ing, “You’re turn­ing into your moth­er.” To me, it is the ulti­mate com­pli­ment.

God sur­prised us last sum­mer and gave my hus­band and I a fourth baby. Like always, we decid­ed to keep the gen­der a sur­prise, tru­ly want­i­ng noth­ing but this bless­ing. I prayed for a smooth preg­nan­cy. I prayed for a safe deliv­ery. I prayed for a healthy baby. God grant­ed me each of the­se. Unlike my pre­vi­ous deliv­er­ies that all began in induc­tion, with baby #4 my water broke in the mid­dle of the night and we head­ed to the hos­pi­tal despite the fact that I was sched­uled to deliv­er via c-sec­tion a few days lat­er.

After painful con­trac­tions in the hall­way, even worse pains in pre op and mis­er­able pains before the spinal block was in, the surgery start­ed.

Before I knew what hit me, my doc­tor cheer­ful­ly announced,

Oh my God, Colleen, it’s a girl. It’s a girl!”

As I looked at my gor­geous pink bundle of love, I knew that my life was forever changed for the fourth time. I was once again inspired to be a bet­ter moth­er. I looked at my hus­band, both of us with tears in our eyes, and fell in love with him all over again. My heart was so very full. Togeth­er we have cre­at­ed an incred­i­ble fam­i­ly and I am so very proud.

That beau­ti­ful girl, Dar­ling, was named after my Nani and Mau­r­mi in the hopes that she will pos­s­es their spe­cial breed of mox­ie. I know that she is des­tined to make her mark on this world. Every day, I look at her sweet lit­tle face, and I hope that she and I will have the kind of rela­tion­ship that my mom and I and she and her moth­er had.

Nani, nine years has lit­er­al­ly been a life­time for me. I was just a girl when you left me, now I am a moth­er of four try­ing to get it right. You cer­tain­ly left an impres­sion on the hearts of those who knew you. Believe it or not, peo­ple still talk about you and your con­stant pres­ence when we were grow­ing up. It has not gone unno­ticed the impact that you had on your baby girl as she has tru­ly embod­ied your spir­it and con­tin­ues to make you proud con­tin­u­ing your lega­cy as the best grand­moth­er out there.

I miss you more than ever and I wish I could have you back for just one day to laugh and smile and eat of loaf of jel­ly toast in your kitchen. I know that you will con­tin­ue to watch over us all and to bless each of us in your spe­cial way. I love you so and appre­ci­ate what you have helped me to become more than I could ever explain. She is a fire­ball with smil­ing Irish eyes and I promise that your name­sake will do you proud. I can’t wait to see you back in two and two.…..

Airing Our Dirty Laundry, All Over Saint Louis Hills


My first reac­tion to this video was to be crit­i­cal of myself. The hor­ren­dous screen shot of a five-week post­par­tum moth­er, couldn’t they have cho­sen some­thing bet­ter? I want­ed to point out my errors, the way that I look and the way that I sound. But, I am throw­ing all of that out the win­dow. I am so incred­i­bly proud of this accom­plish­ment. I stepped com­plete­ly out of my com­fort zone, put my heart and soul on the line with an orig­i­nal piece and the audi­ence loved it. I am so incred­i­bly thank­ful for the sup­port of my fam­i­ly, my three broth­ers and my dad, who allowed me to bring a lit­tle laugh­ter into the world at all of their expense, but par­tic­u­lar­ly to my moth­er, who has always been my biggest sup­port­er. I am also grate­ful for my hus­band and chil­dren who allowed me to take this time to be com­plete­ly self­ish and to do some­thing just for me. I love each and every one of you!

The Lis­ten to Your Moth­er expe­ri­ence tru­ly was life chang­ing for me. It helped me to real­ize that God has blessed me with a tal­ent and that I need to take advan­tage of that tal­ent. I am cur­rent­ly work­ing on a col­lec­tion of essays from my child­hood, very sim­i­lar to the fol­low­ing, that I hope to pub­lish soon. I appre­ci­ate all of your kind words and your love. You will be see­ing a lot more from me soon!

Ain’t too Proud to Brag.….…..

March 16, 1992 I turned 13. I also got the chick­en pox. In all of my new­ly-crowned teenage wis­dom, I picked the first spot that appeared on my face, despite my mother’s warn­ing, “leave it alone or you will make it so much worse.” The pim­ple turned out to be the first of about 5,000 pox that made the next two weeks among the most mis­er­able of my entire life.

I laid on the couch day after day cer­tain that death was impend­ing. The fever and itch­ing and just plain dis­com­fort made each breath resem­ble my last. Per­haps it was my flair for the dra­mat­ic, or the fact that she had three oth­er plague-strick­en chil­dren to take care of, but my moth­er didn’t seem to think that my sit­u­a­tion was quite as dire. Luck­i­ly for me, my then 80-some­thing-year-old Nani dis­agreed and tend­ed to my every need.

As my three broth­ers healed and went back to school, my mom went back to work while I lay con­va­lesc­ing for the sec­ond week with Nani at my side. She brought me Sev­en­teen Mag­a­zi­nes, made me Lip­ton Cup of Soup and watched end­less hours of Press Your Luck Reruns. She was my best friend not just when I was sick, but always. There was noth­ing that she wouldn’t do for me and I sim­ply loved to be with her.

When Press Your Luck turned to the less enter­tain­ing Card Sharks, I would flip the chan­nel to VH1 which played an end­less loop of Vanes­sa Williams’, “Save the Best for Last” and TLC’s, “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” I don’t know if it was the col­or­ful over­alls or per­haps the con­doms pinned every­where, but she just, couldn’t, “under­stand those dirty girls.” Why would they put on such a “per­for­mance?” And they would look so much nicer in a, “pret­ty dress.” For a solid week every time it came on, she laughed and said, “There they are again. Those crazy girls with those dirty pants on.”

Last Fri­day night while going to see Push the Lim­it, a friend’s band, per­form at Jun­gle Boo­gie at the STL Zoo, I spot­ted one of those crazy girls. T-Boz was there, in the flesh and I was sud­den­ly 13 and starstruck. I can’t lie, I total­ly fol­lowed her, from afar, cer­tain that it was her, but still too shy to approach. With Hand­some #3 in his stroller, I pushed toward the Frag­ile Forest where she stood admir­ing the ani­mals. Sud­den­ly, Mau­r­mi strikes up a casu­al con­ver­sa­tion with her as if she is a vol­un­teer zookeep­er for the day.

She was so kind, so friend­ly and so far from any­thing osten­ta­tious. I made eye con­tact and blurt­ed out with tears in my eyes,

OMG?!?!? Are you who I think you are? You are so beau­ti­ful. I just saw you in con­cert a few months ago. You are just. I am hav­ing a moment. Your music. I just. OMG, can I get a pic­ture with you?”

She gra­cious­ly said, “yes,” ignor­ing my ver­bal diar­rhea. We exchanged pleas­antries and she was on her way. I spent the rest of the evening rev­el­ing in the excite­ment and the fact that my celebri­ty friend list is no longer just Richard Sim­mons!

Ain't Too Proud to Brag

Crazy, Sexy and so insane­ly Cool

I attend­ed a work event on Sat­ur­day morn­ing and made it home just in time to head to Mass before Hand­some #1’s evening soc­cer game. As I sat in church, I saw the date on the bul­let­in, August 8. It was the eight-year anniver­sary of my Nani’s death. My heart broke a lit­tle, as it does every time I think of her, but I found strength in my faith, know­ing that she is with God and her fam­i­ly in heav­en.

I smiled to myself as I pre­pared for com­mu­nion and the organ­ist began to play, “Here I am Lord.” It was the song played at her funer­al and the one that always hap­pens to start the moment that I need it most. I felt her hands on mine and rubbed my thumb over her knuck­les just as I had thou­sands of times in our 28 years togeth­er.

As a tear ran down my cheek, I began to laugh. I could see her in the blue reclin­er eat­ing a bowl of ice cream and giv­ing her dis­ap­prov­ing dis­ser­ta­tion about T-Boz and her clan. I real­ized that she had been with me the night before, that she approved of the nice young wom­an that T-Boz has turned in to and that she still loves me the most. And if she had been there, she would have dis­pensed the fol­low­ing advice.……

Don’t go chas­ing water­falls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or noth­ing at all
But I think you’re mov­ing too fast