Tag Archives: family

I Learned Some Things About Myself This Weekend

My dad is vacationing in Iran right now (yeah, he’s crazy), and this last weekend was both my parents’ anniversary and Mother’s Day, so I went home to spend some girl time with my mom. 

On Saturday we went antiquing, got coffee, shopped like wealthy ladies of leisure at Target, and just hung out. For Mother’s Day, we took it pretty old-school: Early morning mass, breakfast, a roadtrip up to Granville to visit the family grave sites, lunch at Bob’s, and dinner with my mom’s brother. It was wonderful. 

Three big things:

One) I now know where the Bueltels, Pennings, Van Burgens, and other relatives are in the family cemetery. ALL of them. But it was a GORGEOUS morning to wander between the tombstones, talk about how they’re related, and hear some of the stories my mom remembers. And good note: If I ever have kids, I’m totally going back to that cemetery and looking for name ideas. Wilhelmina? Cordula? Wilburga? Solid gold. 

Two) I drove my uncle home after dinner Sunday night, and we hung out at his place for half an hour or so. Those who know Butch, know he’s got a heart of gold but is very introverted and quiet with most people. My grandma and mom are probably the two people he talks to most. Dad is a close second, as well as some very nice neighbors and coworkers. Needless to say, grandma dying was really hard on him. Probably harder than we know, because he doesn’t know how to express those emotions. Anyhoo, when I took Butch home, he invited me in and showed me around. Showed me EVERYTHING he owns, everything he’s updated, everything he cares about. I saw the lawnmower and snowblower, and his new bike (because someone stole his old one), the new siding, the new plumbing, the closet where he stores his towels, all the things he kept from when my grandma passed away… It was really fun. I so often feel like I don’t know how to talk to him, and moments where he seems really happy and proud are few and far between, so having him chatting away about his home was a great night to a family-filled weekend. 

Three) When people inquire about my old-child status, I usually tell them that I was an oops baby. Once, my mom said I was a pleasant/needed/necessary surprise. Translation: accident. But I’d never really directly asked why my parents didn’t have more kids. Until Sunday, when we were leaving Starbucks and driving up to Granville. My mom laughed uncomfortably and said, I never knew how I was going to answer this. The answer was surprising, and the short version goes: my parents almost divorced over having kids (or not), they got accidentally got pregnant 11 years into their marriage, and because of the drama before, they never really talked about more kids. The conversation was a lot longer than that, but you get this gist. Crazy. Now I know! Also, I learned I was, indeed, named after Christ. My mom didn’t tell my dad, and she knew he’d see it if they spelled Christina (and he’s an atheist), so Kristina it was. 

Man, I feel like I know a lot more about who I am. 

Oh! And I’ve broken out in supposedly stress-related hives. For days. It’s awful. But GREAT news: I’ve started to tackle my cholesterol problem! Got a blood test today and they said my bad cholesterol is still pretty bad, but my good cholesterol is crazy high, so it’s working itself out. Huzzah! Now, time to tackle my post-PB weight gain. Thank god no one is trying to see me naked right now, that’s all I’m saying… 

 

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Where ya been, lady friend?

I know, I’ve been a little MIA. You’d think will all the holiday madness I’d at least have some mad bitching to do about retail hell and the parking lots at Jordan Creek. Trust me, it’s still hellish, but I’ve had bigger things on my mind.

photo

She loved quilting and coloring for my mom’s cards.

The day before Thanksgiving, my grandma unexpectedly passed away. I was lucky enough to have been home and in the hospital with her the day before. Wednesday morning she woke up and told my mom to call the priest and the family, because she was done and wanted to be taken off her meds. After two almost back-to-back sacraments of Last Rites (aka anointing of the sick aka Extreme Unction)–because she was the most badass of Catholics–she declared, “Let’s get this show on the road!” It wasn’t that quick, but thankfully she passed that evening, surrounded by and my mom (her daughter), dad, uncle (her son), and cousins (the grandkids).

It was the hardest thing, ever, to be there and not be able to help or save her. She wasn’t herself at times, she was really sad, and she suffered at the end. But I held her hand through it all and she did get to leave this place on her own terms. Her close friend and neighbor died the same day, so she had a companion in her journey. We had a lot of thanks to give for her life that next day.

I’m not sure how many people knew just how much my grandma meant to me. I went home once a month, generally, to see her. She was my only reason for going home (not that I don’t love my parents). She means the world to me, and I’m glad I told her that every time I saw her.

Grandma was full of crazy sayings.
“One foot in the grave” is what she said every time I asked her how she was (even when she was in the hospital).
“You look like the south end of a horse headed north,” she told me one day I looked particularly exhausted.
“Anyone have a headache? You’re going to get an ass-burn in here!” she exclaimed getting into a super hot car last June.
“Do you need a splash guard?” referring to me pouring wine (or more like spilling it every where) last Christmas.

And a really good one I found today, from an email her and my mom sent to me:
“Grandma remembered a prayer that her mother’s friend used to say many years ago when she was in church. Thought you might like to try it: Holy St. Joseph, blessed St. Anne, Send me a man as quick as you can.”

And here is a beautiful poem written to by grandma in 1933 by her mother. A perfect note to end on. Welcome home, grandma.

May the pearly gates of heaven
So far beyond the sky
Open wide some day Dear Lucille, 
To welcome you and I. 

A beautiful not

From mother to daughter.

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The Joy of Family

Now that my cousin is engaged and I’m the only single girl person in the family, I expect some degree of frustrating harassment about what I’m doing with my life. Especially from my aunts and cousins.

However, I was not exactly ready for the interrogation by my two second cousins, Carter (8) and Cole (6).

Boys: Do you have a boyfriend?

Kristina: No.

B: Did you?

K: Yeah.

B: Why’d you break up?

K: Well, we…

B: Who broke up with who?

K: Um…

B: Where is he now?

K: Las Vegas.

B: Why don’t you go there?

K: Why should I?

B: You need a boyfriend.

K: Can’t I get a new one?

B: No.

B: You should make up.

B: Go to Las Vegas.

B: I know how babies are made.

K: Do you?

B: Yes. It’s gross.

K: Is it?

B: Yes.

B: You makeout.

K: That’s part of it.

B: I’m not doing that.

K: That’s good.

B: You need to go to Las Vegas.

B: Make-up with him.

B: Makeout!

B: Boyfriends and girlfriends become husband and wife. Don’t you want a husband?

B: And babies?

B: Don’t you want to get married?

Well shit, kids. Thanks. That’s probably worse than anything anyone else will say.

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Merci

As you might know, my family is rollin’ in the religious. Seriously, I have enough people remembering me in their prayers that I don’t go to church. (Well, that and a lot of other reasons, like I’m lazy and I don’t think it’s necessary.) A non-blood-related member of that side of my family is Sr. Agatha. I say non-blood-related because she’s not actually a relative. But she’s definitely a member of my family.

Sr. Agatha helped my grandma take care of my grandpa (some 20 years ago) when he was dying. Then when the Alzheimer’s had taken over, Sr. Agatha came back to live with my grandma. She was always there, doing the things none of us could have ever done, and certainly never wanted to do. Then when grandma died about eight years ago, Sr. Agatha moved out and went on living the sisterly life. But she always sent Christmas cards and she remembered me when I graduated high school. I still have the Irish Blessing she included in the letter.

Sr. Agatha died this week. My dad and four of his siblings are going to the funeral. I’m so glad that we can be there for the lady who not only supported us through the hardest times, but was truly a member of our family.

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One Month In

I’ve been a Texan for a month now (although my license plate and driver’s license say otherwise. Suck it, system!). A month ago last night I slept on the floor of my living room. Since then, not a whole lot has happened. I’ve been in school for two weeks and I spend 80% of my time watching Netflix while doing homework. It’s not bad, but there are some things I am definitely missing from the homeland.

Family & Friends
Top of the list, no question. Sometimes it’s a bit lonely. But even worse, it’s hard to not be around when you want to be there for someone.

Food: Fong’s, China Place, & Planet Sub
Just, yeah. I missed it if I didn’t have it often enough in Des Moines. So how can I  not miss it here?

Panera, Caribou & Grounds
I could use some of my old stomping grounds for quality study space. Coffee, food, and a comfy atmosphere.

Hockey
Tis’ [almost] the season. And oh do I wish I had some Buccs or Muskies to get rowdy with.

Things that only happen in the fall
Sorority recruitment, Heelan debate, Hawkeye football, and Fall Kill.

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Family

Ever have a family that isn’t blood related? I do. They are the Daltons. The most amazing family ever. And they need your prayers right now. So please, if you read this, just take two seconds to send positive vibes their way.

Thanks.

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Blessing and a Curse

My uncle had gallbladder surgery today. Twice in one week he had been rushed to different hospitals due to complications. My dad was there the first time in Carroll, my aunt was there the second time in Omaha. My other aunt took care of him until yesterday when my dad went back again. Word on the street is that the man is doing a-ok. I mean, he is a priest. I suppose he’s got connections.

All the familial caregiving pointed out that I’m an only child. When I’m 60, I won’t have siblings there to look after me if something gets difficult. I won’t have a family to go have Christmas with. It’s a really weird thought that I wasn’t expecting to have at 23. And it got me thinking about my life as an only child, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessings are simple and obvious. My parents are together and have financially and emotionally supported me my whole life (not like they pay for my shit, but that they’re there when I need help). I tried everything I wanted because my parents could afford (time and money) to let me do it: art, swim, dance, tennis, softball, theater and even a season of soccer. I don’t (always) mind being alone. I value friendship and loyalty. I long to be helpful to the people I care about–whether it’s money, a ride, advice, or a shoulder to cry on. I can entertain myself. I’m motivated, accepting, and flexible.

The curse is easy to see, but hard to tackle or change. My admittedly cushy life means that when things don’t “go my way” I can take them really hard–even if they are little things that hardly matter at all. I tend to take things too personally, I need a lot of encouragement and support, and I have little confidence in myself. I’m indecisive, timid, and somewhat reserved. When I’m hurt, I hide rather than admit it and seek comfort from friends. When I finally do, I feel like a burden. I apologize a lot, and think my own feelings are irrelevant.

Surely, the benefits outweigh the curses. A lot of my closest friends are only children and we’re all intelligent and usually well-adjusted individuals. I guess I’m just realizing the effects of this single kid status in a more mature (adult?) light.

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