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……

dkm

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