Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nineteen Years...Can It Be?

Monday and Tuesday was our 19th anniversary. Two days you ask? Well, we were married in Germany where we had a civil ceremony on the 25th and a religious ceremony in an old castle on the 26th. At the time we were living in Las Vegas and traveled Germany with our friends Dana and Piet who were living in the Netherlands. They witnessed both weddings and Piet who is fluent in 5 languages translated for us. Unfortunately, the minister used that nasty 4 letter word, OBEY, during the ceremony and I absentmindedly agreed. Dave loves to bring that up upon occasion.

Anyway, the night we were married in the castle we were eating a memorable dinner when a young woman walked over to our table and introduced herself as the Baron's daughter.
"You came all the way here to get married," she asked in disbelief.
"Yes, we really wanted our love to last as long as the castle," we replied.
"That's funny. We went to Las Vegas," she said.
Oh the irony of it all.

Everyday I count my blessings that I am married to this wonderful man. Sometimes when I think about how fortunate I am I remember that song from the Sound of Music that goes "But somewhere in my youthful childhood, I must have done something good." Well, that is how I feel about having Dave in my life. Sometime, somewhere I must have done something good.

I wrote this about 5 years ago. I still feel the same.


I can write about just about anything but Dave because no words I
might use to describe him and what he means to me would ever do him
justice. It's like trying to describe a shining diamond. While one
can attempt to describe it's brilliance as it sparkles in the light
you would still miss some aspects of its perfection just by not being
in its presence. You would miss the subtle flickers of color cast
around the room; the blues,pinks and yellows. You would be unable to
count the thousand little points of light that dance around the room.
It's just one of those things that you have to be around to fully
appreciate it's incredible beauty. That is how I feel about Dave.

Dave is my inspiration. He is whom I strive to emulate. He is kind,
considerate, compassionate, joyful and he has a soul that is at peace
with itself. He pushes me to try to be the best I can be and he
teaches our children not through mere words but from example. Dave is
also dedicated to our family, to making the world a better place and
to living his life in a manner that is ethical and sincere. He is a
wonderful father to our children and is always helping them find
their way to themselves.

For years I struggled in a job that gave me little in the way of
satisfaction, creativity and fullfilment. It was Dave who gave me the
encouragement to try writing for a living and in doing so allowed my
life to return to me in unexpected ways. His support (both financial
and emotional) has allowed me to learn about myself, warts and all.
Thanks to him I have been able to follow my own twisted path to
enlightenment and happiness. If I died tomorrow, I would die happy
because I am one of the fortunate ones to have experienced true love
from a man that has often put my selfish wants and needs above his
own. A man who heart knows no bounds and for whom love is endless and
complete. Dave is my diamond.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sorry. To busy to write something original tonight so I went with something I wrote in 2000. I read this on Iowa National Public Radio and it also appeared in Heartwarmers.

I wrote this two years ago when Dave's Grandma was 94. Like many people her age she was finding it difiicult to take that path leading towards her "twlight years." These days Grandma is living in a retirement home, yet, she refuses to give into the idea that she will never drive again. I hope that when I am her age I will be as determined as she is ... it will make life much more interesting. In writing this story, I have taken certain liberties with the spoken word but the content remains true to Grandma's life.


By Cheryl L. Dieter copyright 2000

Everyone knew it was time for Grandma to stop driving. Everyone, that is, but Grandma. At 93 her health was deteriorating and she was beginning to forget things but these "insignificant" matters were not going to stop this Iowa "silver fox" from getting behind the wheel. If you think taking car keys away from a teenager is difficult you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried getting them away from the over 90 crowd. Since sending Grandma to her room or withholding her allowance was not an option, we didn’t have much bargaining power. Not that we didn’t try. We cajoled and we nagged. Various family members even took her car keys but mysteriously another set would appear out of thin air. And amazingly Grandma could always find this new set even though she couldn’t remember which key actually started the car.

When the doctor ordered her to stop driving Grandma took matters into her own hands. "They didn’t require licenses when I started driving so I really don’t need one now." became her new motto and "If I can’t drive I might as well die," became, yet, another battlecry.

As determined as we were to get Grandma to stop driving, she was even more determined to keep her license. When it came time to renew her license, instead of asking a family member to take her to the Department of Motor Vehicles, she asked a neighbor; conveniently circumventing those of us who would have told the inspector not to renew it. In short, we soon realized that we were losing the battle of the car keys to a woman who had lived through four wars and the depression. In retrospect, it was hardly a surprise.

One particularly hot summer day, I called Grandma. When she answered the telephone she sounded so sad and forlorn.

"What’s the matter, Grandma?" I asked.

"I can’t start my car," she exclaimed.

"Grandma why were you trying to start your car? You know you’re not suppose to be driving," I said, about to give her the full lecture on the dangers of driving.

"Now before you get in an uproar and start telling me stories about dangerous old lady drivers who wipe out entire families who are on a trip to the ice cream shop, I want to explain," she snapped. "There are times that I need to feel like I’m still able to do the things I used to do. I need to feel useful and alive again. At those times, I take my keys and start up the car and sit behind the wheel and just let the motor run. I listen to the hum of the engine and remember the people I’ve seen and the places I’ve been. And sometimes, when I feel particularly daring, I take new turns and forbidden roads just to prove to myself that while I may be an old dog, I can still learn new tricks. You know, sometimes sitting in idle just letting your motor run is better than the trip itself. You should try it someday."

And you know, Grandma is right. Sometimes just sitting in idle and letting our motor run is the best the best medicine we can take as we drive down the crazy, fast-paced lanes known as the highway of life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bleeding Hearts

In this month’s Oprah Magazine (April 2007) there are three stories concerning adoption. In one story author and adoptive mom, Carol Brennan, writes about when her daughter met her birth mother.

“ She said again how hard it was for her, giving me up. An undertone in her voice confirms that, diverse as the millions of adopted children are, this they have in common: the need to hear and hear again that they were not relinquished easily.”

Those words hit me like a bolt of lightning tonight. Perhaps I am ready to hear.

There appear to be two camps in adoption. One that says to tell the truth if you know it but to never say anything you don’t know as fact just to make things easier for your child. For instance, I have read and been told never tell your child that it was difficult for their birth mother to relinquish them unless you know for a fact that it was. This is because you don’t want your child believing made up truths in case they do meet their birth parents and find out differently.

The second camp seems to say that if your child asks if their birth mother loved them you answer “Well, yes she loved you very much because she took the time to make an adoption plan for you. She wanted to make sure that you were raised by a family who loved you very much.”

I have struggled with this question often but when my five year old asked my gut instictively went with the second answer, “She must have loved you very much.” At the time he needed to hear that as much as I needed to say it, even though I thought I never would. He needed to know that his birth moms love for him was not fleeting and inconsequential just like my love for him will never be. He needed to know that his core is built around the love that he has experienced, both transient and for the long haul. And that both are valuable because the short amount of time he experienced his birthmothers love helped contribute to who he is. And perhaps she is even in it for the long haul although he may never know for sure. Maybe she even prays for him every night.

When you think about it who doesn’t need to hear that they were loved and wanted? Who doesn’t need to believe that those who carry us, those who live with us and those who know us would not easily forget us? Because if they were able to just forget us it calls into question what the real purpose of our lives are and what is important. Is it just living life or is it living life in such a way that others wish to tell your story?

When we divorce we do not think that “getting over it” should come easily. We don’t want to believe that the person who loved us could just walk away and create a life with another person a day later. We want to know that our love is not easy to leave. That the love we give away is meaningful to others and that the feelings that are intertwined with it just don’t vanish overnight. We want to believe that love lasts a lifetime even though it may not be available to us throughout each moment of every day. That is one reason why heaven is so appealing. And it is why our “first love” remains so dear to us so much so that many people go in search of it many years later.

So why would my child want to hear that they were relinquished and then forgotten? Why on earth would I ever want them to think that their first mother just “got over them.” Love doesn’t work like that because in real life it is also filled with regrets and missed opportunities.The highs and the lows...the ying and the yang... that is what love truly is. Hopefully love doesn’t work like that in adoption even though I suspect many adoptive parents might wish it would. For love has meaning, truth and clarity wrapped within it. And love doesn’t just vanish in an instant. Instead love follows us, sustains us and lies with us and within us forever carrying us when nothing else will and all else fails.

So my child you can relax and you can rest assured that you are loved. It may be in different ways but your mother's have both loved you.

Monday, March 5, 2007

When Did I Cease To Exist?

Today I went to the store not wearing something that 10 years ago I swore I never would... makeup. And I paid for it dearly just like I thought I would during all these many years of not venturing out the door without, at the very least, a good coat of mascara. As far as I was concerned my lack of an encounter with the sales girls confirmed my suspicions that no makeup=no service. So I just stood there at the counter while two young sales clerks had a gossip fest that would make Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons proud. And finally I started to get annoyed. But here is the thing. It wasn't so much that the girls were ignoring me that upset me but it was the fact that I was all but invisible to them. HUH? Since when did this cloak of inconspicuousness begin to envelope me? I mean it seems like just yesterday I was 25 and men would whistle and sales women couldn't wait to give me the time of day. So when did I become invisible?

I wish I could pinpoint a time, a day or an event that I could look back on and blame. A day which I could say "Ah ha. It was the day you stopped dying your hair," or something significant like that. Yet,if the truth is told, I do have a vague idea of when this slide into nothingness began. It was around my 40th birthday. When I gained weight and crows feet all in the same year. The year the Dow dropped precipitously and so did my boobs.It was the year my collagen supply diminished and my shoe size increased as everything in my body suddenly let go and "loosened" up. Instantly I was no longer youthful nor desirable to Madison Avenue or the man on the street. Society began to dictate no more cute low cut dresses, open toe shoes or fishnet hose for me. In fact, the sales girls in some sort of giggly, jiggly, conspiracy started steering me towards the matronly woman department. You know the place. It's where they sell swimsuits with huge explosive pink flowers and aprons to cover your ass, sensible shoes without heels and White Shoulders perfume. And come to think of it, after turning forty I never again received free samples of tanning lotion, sculpting gel or feminine deodorant spray in the mail. Now its just, AARP news, denture cream and life insurance as touted by Ed McMann that clutters my mailbox.

This invisibleness I have taken on is not of my choosing and somehow it doesn't seem fair nor does it suit me. I mean come on when my mother was 40 she was OLD. I on the other hand, well I am hip, still a little sassy and can still have a decent conversation with "the girls" about sex that would make even Oprah squirm. In fact, I almost jumped into the sales girls conversation when it started venturing towards men's body parts. But instead I laughed out loud thinking about how young, inexperienced and naive they were. It was then that they turned, and gave me "THE LOOK" that told me they thought that dementia was settling in and making a permanent home in my brain.

"May I help you?" asked a 19 year old bleached Blondie named Brittany with a permanent Botox IV drip inserted under her skin as she sashayed over to where I stood.

"I believe you can. I want the biggest jar of anti-wrinkle cream you have," I said with a smile.

She gave me the "poor pitiful you there is nothing that can help" look as she placed my purchase in the bag.

"Oh and I threw in a free sample of the newest and most technologically advanced firming cream on the market," she said patting me condescendingly on the hand.

And it was at that moment I grew comfortable in my aging skin. For in that second, I knew without a doubt, that invisible and forty-five was a thousand times better than insecure and nineteen. Sure she may have the world by the tail but give it a few years and she would soon be directed to the matrons department by girls just like her. Only she would be scared, not confident. She would be feeling dread, not optimism. For luckily "Age" has been speaking to me with a comforting nod to the future while for others, "Age" digs her stilettos in, fighting to remain in the past. It was obvious Brittany would be one of those.

I took pity on her. I reached into my bag and placed the new miracle of science back into her hand.

"Darling you take it," I said with a laugh. "In fact, take all of it," I laughed shoving the bag into her hands. "Believe it or not someday you will need it."

And with that, I turned and headed over to the hat department. There I found a vibrant scarlet red one; it's upturned brim spotted with leopard material. It sits in my closet waiting as I bridge the gap between young and old, wise and wishful, content and always searching. Next to it rests information on The Red Hat Society where I know I will fit right in, no longer invisible. Because no matter how old I am or how many highway mileage markers line my face I will still have my verve, my zest for living, a sense of humor and my nerve. Red and purple have a way of making sure of that.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

She Loves Me...She Loves Me Not

She Loves Me...She Loves Me Not
By: Cheryl L. Dieter Copyright 7/26/2005

I stare at my new daughter’s chubby cheeks and beautiful brown eyes laden with sleep. Everything is perfect in our relationship. I love her and she loves me. End of story. There is no happy ending that could make life better than it is right now. As I watch her breath in and out so effortlessly, I shed a tear knowing that in the not so distant future it is doubtful that anything will be quite this easy between us again. How do I know this? Easy. My eldest daughter is fourteen.

Fourteen is a terrible age. Not quite old enough to “know better” but just old enough to get in trouble for what you do know. While still the center of my universe, I am but a distant line in hers. And like a line drawn in the sand that constantly shifts with gusts and wisps of wind, everyday my daughter and I tiptoe back and forth across that line of independence vs. dependence, me vs. them, and love vs. hate. An almost grown up version of She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not that we once played together just a few short years ago with the white daisies and red roses grown in our own backyard.

She Loves Me... “thanks Mom for taking me to the mall.”
She Loves Me Not...I make her clean her room.
She Loves Me... “Come on Mom. I mean, I share more about my life with you than most teenagers.”
She Loves Me Not... “Why can’t you just leave me alone,” she yells as she slams the door to her room for yet another time.

As I see it, everyday my daughter and I start out with a fresh flower from an old plant. Sometimes the petals seem to fall off by themselves whereas others it takes days for the bloom to disappear. Some days the petals are plucked and thrown with a vengeance and someday they are removed gently and placed lovingly in a book to be preserved and examined on another day. But even on those mornings when the blossoms are gone before the first cup of coffee is steamed all is not lost. For although the petals are the most beautiful and dazzling thing about the flower, there is so much more to the plant than that. While the center is still young and vibrant and holds the seeds that offer new beginnings and hope; the stem, older and more sturdy, holds the newer parts of the flower aloft. And the roots, well, they provide nourishment to both the old and new parts combined.

This morning the flower was bare by eight but as I bent down to inspect the last petal that landed at my feet, I knew that all was still well. For the plant from which this flower came still continues to grow, blossom and mature just like my relationship with my daughter. And the seeds still continue to be spread and planted for some as yet unknown day in the future. But most of all when the last petal fell... She Loved Me...at least for now.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Karson Funnies

Every once in a while I have to post the funny things that my kids say.

So this morning as I am driving I am telling Karson about how Kylee is
going to Brazil as an exchange student, how she will come back for a year and then go to college. I then told him that someday when he is big he will go to
college to be a train engineer.

"Mom, do we have to talk about this now? I am only in kindergarten."

And yesterday when we are coming home from visiting with the doctor. He gives us a diagnosis of sinus infections for the kids.

Karson: We need big medicine mom.
Me: What do you mean, Karson?
Karson: I have big germs so I need big medicine. It is important so I get well.
Me: Don't worry the doctor knows what he is doing. He wrote a prescription for just the right medicine to make you better. He is a smart man.
Karson: But I am smart too and I know I need bigger medicine.