Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Loving Dad

Having my dad here living with me is an enormous comfort. He’s a strong man and he’s always been a good and loving father.

Dad has his own apartment above my house but I’m always
upstairs with him so I guess it’s not much his “own”.
This evening I went up to visit but he was sound asleep in bed and his apartment was dark except for a dim night-light guiding my way.  It is 1 a.m. so I can’t really blame him.

In the dark I sat in his worn out easy chair recliner and could see his shoes kicked out in front of it.  On a small, wooden, fold-out T.V. tray table lay his glasses, cigarettes and lighter.  A leather note pad was on the side table.  I opened the pad, flipped in about five blank pages and wrote him a little “surprise” note that he will find in about a week.  It’s our game and he has saved every note I have ever written him since he’s lived here.  That’s about five years now…and a lot of notes.  It’s a lot of love.

 I have good memories of my dad from when I was a small girl growing up.  He always let me tag-a-long with him to the hardware store, grocery store and liquor store. He took me smelt fishing and to the beach for early morning walks and a push on the swings at Cal Park. Dad let me tag-a-long where ever he went and if I wanted something he’d buy it.  I remember some glow-in-the-dark plastic Christmas ornaments I just had to have that he bought for me.  I found those in a box last year.  They are ugly but the memories they hold are just beautiful to me.

I was an artistic kid.  During Sunday Family Classic shows, while mom ironed, I remember making paper moustaches, eye lashes, beards and eyebrows and literally gluing them onto my dad's face as he watched Moby Dick or Treasure Island.  He let me do my thing and walked around with my glued on art on his face bragging about how handsome he looked!  I laughed, giggled and in those moments he was my hero!

Every night my dad tucked me into bed each night saying “Goodnight, Sleep Tight, Don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite!”  He’s snap the blankets way up into the air so they would float on top of me and then he’d tuck them all around my body and kiss me goodnight.  Isn’t that a wonderful thing for a child?  It was.  I did the same for my children and the will do the same for theirs.

Dad was always home on the weekends working in the garden, refinishing our unfinished basement, putting up Christmas lights, cooking or just hanging out with his headphones on – country music blaring in his ears, leaned up against the console stereo unit singing along out of tune and loud. 
Sometimes, when I was a kid, dad would open his magic light brown leather case with red velvet lining and strap on his old accordion.  The sounds he played and the joy on his face made me try to dance the polkas along with his music.  Eventually old 78 records crackled polish music under the needle of the record player, dad’s accordion sat in a corner while he danced the polkas with me in our musty unfinished basement.  It always ended up that way when he pulled out his accordion!

I cherish the memories I have with my dad and since my mom has died I REALLY appreciate every single moment I have with him now.  I realize how precious time spent with him is and enjoy the very smallest things about him.  

In this very moment as I sit here typing this I find such joy and comfort in knowing that my father is right above me sleeping soundly. I know and appreciate, at 53 years old, how lucky I am to have my dad in my life.

He is loved.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How Brief Our Time...

I don’t think too many of us think about how brief our time here on earth is. 

When we read history books or look at old photos we don’t really think about the individual lives that were lived in those stories and pictures.  Each person had a story - lived a life.  They woke up in the morning, ate breakfast, had a headache, brushed their children’s hair and sent them off to school. Since the beginning of time men made love to their wives and shaved their faces.Woman cooked dinner for their family, made beds, washed clothes. worried about their figures and cleaned the house.

Way back then (whenever “then” was) someone felt a cool autumn breeze and looked up at the stars trying to spot the big dipper while admiring the beauty of the clouds in the moonlight at midnight. 
Of course as times progress, things change but one thing remains the same -- People live, breath, laugh cry, touch, taste, welcome babies and feel the wind through their hair.   My mother and I talked about this a lot.  She was supposed to live forever but she didn’t.  Her life came and went.  She didn’t want to die, I remember her looking at me and saying “Oh Chrissa, I don’t want to croak”.    But, she did. 

1600, 1700, 1800, 1900,1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010....... 

Each generation had their music, their dress style and their modern advances. As each year, month, day, hour and minute progress, "our generation" is passing us by and the "new generation will" punch us in the face.

I am not a writer.  Well, I am a writer because I am writing but I am not a good writer.  I don’t use fancy words or proper grammar.  I am a woman who wants to keep her mother’s memory alive. 

My mother’s name was Susan Broholm Matczak, otherwise and most often known as Suza.  She was fun, funny and strong.  That’s all I want everyone to know and to remember.  She lived!

I will write her incredible story because Suza was too great to be forgotten. 

Keep posted and thanks for reading. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A letter to the Grandmother I never met....

You were born in a different day and age.

You had it so difficult.

I'm so sad that your mother died in North Dakota on a frigid December night when you were just four years old and your three siblings were not much younger or older than you.   Your mom was so far from her family that loved and cared for her.  Why your dad took her so far away I will never know. I think that your mom, Josephine, had it hard. I imagine her being sick and dying trying to comfort her children that she loved with all her heart.  Trying to comfort you.   It must have been so heart breaking.  I can only imagine how much she loved you all.

After your mom died, your dad came running back to Illinois with you and your siblings in tow and shortly remarried.  I think he remarried so he could have someone take care of you and your three siblings. That wicked  woman never treated you or your brothers and sister kindly.  She was a bitch.  I'm sorry for you.  Thank God for your momma's parents, George and Grace, who took you in at 14 and loved and cared so deeply for you.

You weren't too young when you got pregnant with my mother and he wasn't either. He whispered all kinds of romantic things in your ear and you believed him because you were good and you loved him. He had it good. At 24 he was a Greek, spoiled prince, living at home with his mom and dad who pampered, defended and gave him everything.   He could do no wrong in their eyes.  He was pompous and arrogant.  He didn't stand by you and his parents didn't either so you stayed with your Grandparents, pregnant and afraid, until you gave birth to my mom in 1940,

You gave her  up into foster care and when you were pregnant again,  you reluctantly gave her up for adoption. She was two years old.  I know you didn't want to.   His family wouldn't stand for his irresponsibility again and told him that he couldn't keep giving his children away so he married you.
You raised four daughters and a son with him and sometimes spoke about ....her.   My mother.  They knew and they searched.   My mother knew and searched then she told me and I searched.    I found you.

You were gone but your daughters found each other and confronted their father when my mother was there.  He embraced, acknowledged and accepted my mom.  He said he always looked out and followed her (I remember him stopping me on my way to school and my mom remembers him stopping her for directions too).

After hearing your story my mom was thankful that you gave her up for adoption.

She was the light of her family's eyes.  She was very, very loved.  She had a wonderful and pampered childhood that you could have never provided her.

I wish I could have met you.  You were strong.  You were brave and wonderful.  You were a good mother.   I love you,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wise Old Men

Sitting here in my quiet office.  Wilbur is close by, licking his paws and I can hear his metal collar licking the hard wood floor.  It's quite a comfort having my animals next to me.  I am feeling old and glad for it.  I'm reflecting on this past night.

My son came over for a visit.  He is a strong, intelligent man with his own opinions and views on modern life. He is older but he is younger.

I always hoped I wouldn't get old and be one of those folks that said, "When I was young..."  but, I am there now.  I found myself using that dreaded quote.  "When I was young,..."

Talking, debating and disagreeing with my son, I had to tell myself to be quiet!  LISTEN and LEARN and CHANGE. It was hard for me sometimes but I did the best I could.  

The funniest thing about this entire scene is that my dad was right there next to us, quiet as a mouse.  He is where I found my inner voice.  That old man looked right into my eyes and told me to listen.... without ever saying a word. 

My son went home and I went back upstairs to my dad.   He's the wisest old man I know.  He's 78. As usual, he was sitting in his worn, brown rocker puffing on a Pall Mall.   He stared at me with his mischievous smile and I knew what he was saying, I knew what he was thinking.

Change is good.  Learn from it, grow from it and accept it. 

I didn't say a word and neither did he for a long time.  We both stared at the T.V.    Dad knew I was working through my thoughts.

Suddenly dad said, "Thanks to all of  those young punks the world is going to be a better place." 

In my mind I instantly agreed.  My son is a very wise man.

So I leave you with that tonight.

Thank-you to all you "young punks".  Thanks for taking on the challenges before you and the challenges me and my parents tried to ease, but left behind. 

Make this world a better place.

From us "oldies".

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering September 11, 2001

It was a beautiful, cool September day.  I pulled out of bed in the morning and immediately went downstairs to brew my morning coffee.  While the coffee brewed and warmed I took a hot bath, did my hair and make-up and got dressed up in my professional attire.   I sipped my morning coffee as I waited for my friend, Paula,  to pick me up for my job in Chicago.  We always drove together.

Paula and I drove to work and chatted about our normal stuff.  My kids, her baby boy, our jobs and local town gossip.  Just plain girl talk. 

When we got into the city she parked in the lot underneath her building, a block from mine.  It was a pretty good set up and I was thankful for it. 

My day on the 41st floor over-looking the lake transpired as usual.  Tons of calls from insurance agents needing assistance navigating our website, changing passwords and rating policies.   I had taken quite a few calls when the phone rang again and I picked it up..."Customer Interaction Center, this is Christy, May I help you?".....


"Yes, this is Christy"

"Christy, this is Lisa.  A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center."

Lisa had worked with me until just a few months before and she was my "work bff".  Awesome girl who I will love forever. 

I had no clue what the World Trade Center was.  I suppose I was and still am a person who lives in my own little town and world.  I just didn't know what the World Trade Center was, so I asked...

ME: "Where is that?

LISA:  "New York.  It's a very tall tower and a plane crashed into it.  I'm watching it on the news now!  The building is on fire and people are hanging out of the windows."

ME:  "Oh God, that's horrible, really horrible.  How will people get out?" 

LISA:  "OH MY GOD!"  "OH MY GOD!"  Another plane just hit the other tower!!  Christy, Get the F&%ck out of that building...NOW!!

It didn't register with me but somehow Lisa knew that the United States was under attack.  I asked her again what happened but she just kept screaming and telling me to get the hell out of my building because we were under attack.  I was in shock.  Lisa screamed over the phone again, "Hang up an get the hell out of there NOW!"  Then, she hung up.

Seconds later an announcement came over the speaker at work:  "Please remain where you are....blah, blah, blah....I didn't hear anymore."  A radio in the cubicle next to me blared that another plane hit the Pentagon.    I ran to the window and looked over the skyline of Chicago.   I wasn't  that far up but to me it seemed as if I was on top of the world and a now...a target. Again a voice came over the speaker at work:  "Please remain where you are."  I panicked. 

I told my manager that I wanted to evacuate.  He told me that I could and should regardless of what the voice on the speaker was saying.  Actually, he had our entire team evacuate while he stayed back and monitored the rest of the floor.  He was so brave, calm and defiant of the company's "policy to stay put" at that moment.  He told all of us to do what we felt was right.  We all evacuated...we were the first out and safe.  It was utter mayhem in the city.  Thousands of people were evacuating their buildings and the city. 

I remember me and Paula meeting up and driving back home.  There wasn't a plane in the sky.  The radio was tracking the last high-jacked flight.  Paula and I prayed and prayed for that flight until we heard it went down in a field.  We heard it on the radio, while we were stuck in traffic on Lake Shore Drive.  Neither one of us said another word all the way home to Indiana.  I looked out the car window and cried while she cried driving home.  We both just wanted to get home to our families. 

Once home, I remember talking to my mom who was relaying every bit of news to me.  People jumping out of windows and towers collapsing.  I couldn't hear anymore of it.  I took my Golden Lab, Hercules, out onto the front porch and just sat.  I sat while the beautiful days sun beat down on me.  I remember thinking that it was a beautiful day that would forever hold so much sorrow. 

It was a very, very sad day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Back to School?

I have so many regrets.  I look back and think of all the things I would have, could have and should have done differently.  The one thing I really, really, really regret the most is not getting myself a good college education and set career.  I feel like it's way too late for me now.  I want to go and get that degree that will land me a job doing something I love to do. 

There are three things that I really love to do,  1. Photography   2. Cooking  3.Writing

I can go to chef school or pursue a degree in photography or writing.  I don't know if any of those could land me a job.  I don't think the job market is very strong in those fields so I've been thinking of going back to school for ....accounting.   Isn't that stupid?  Accounting?  What the HELL am I thinking?  I'm thinking that there are jobs out there for accountants, that's what. 

 Am I too old to go back to school?  Would it be a financially good decision?

I am in a job now that I dread going to every single day (I should say night).
It's not that the company is horrible or the environment is terrible or anything like that.  It's just that I struggle with working from 9:30 pm until 7:30 am. Friday through Monday.   It's depressing that I never have a weekend off.  I miss so many family outings and the routine and normality of what my life was before this job.

I go home every morning feeling tired, inferior and stupid.  The fact is, when it comes to dealing the game of craps, I AM inferior and stupid.  It just doesn't "click" for me and it frustrates me.  I have a lot of respect for all those good dice dealers out there.  That game is so fast and furious and the players just LOVE it.  I actually have come to love it too.  I just wish I could fricking DEAL it better. 

I seriously struggle now with the attendance "point system".  Twelve points is what I get.  One call off is 1.5 points which amounts to 8 days.  These points don't refresh at the beginning of the year.  This is a life-time total.   In all fairness I do also get a guaranteed week off too.  If  I call off on a holiday or weekend near that holiday (and I mean nearly every holiday...even Pulaski day counts for example) I get slammed for 3 points .  I was excited too see that Valentines day was NOT a three point day, so I planned to and did call off on Valentines day and the following day using my one "life happens day".  Using these two days allowed Mike and I to go to Mexico on vacation.  The only thing is that I neglected to notice that this was the weekend prior to Presidents day, so I got 4.5 points.  When I came back from vacation and saw these points I was totally freaked out, mad at myself and this screwy system.   I went from 7 to 11.5 points in two days. I've only missed 5 days of work in the past year. Go figure.  I know I'm a dependable, dedicated and good employee but somehow my 11.5 points reflect otherwise; leaving a big dark cloud over my head, following me everywhere I go.  It's very depressing.

Prior to my current job I worked in a corporate environment.  I worked from home, in my jammies with a mug of coffee and my dog next to me.  I had 5 weeks paid vacation and PTO days allotted.  I made three times what I'm making now.  Unfortunately, the company out-sourced my job to India.  Somewhere out there is an Indian, sitting at home with with my cup of coffee, my dog, doing my job earning my paycheck.

I feel cornered.  Pinned up against a wall.  Depressed and tired.  I feel regretful of the would haves, could haves and should haves and those regrets lead me to seriously consider FINALLY going to school to earn that degree I've been longing for.  I only have this one life to live.  There are no do-overs.  I don't want to die with regrets. 

Should I be:  A Chef?  A photo-journalist?  An Accountant? 

My wheels are spinning. 

Am I too old to go back to school? 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why Snow Sucks

Winter is here and it's been a whopper.  Lots of freezing temps and lots of snow.  During the holidays I thought to myself, "Oh I hope it snows for Christmas.  Snow is so pretty".  Well it did snow and hasn't stopped.

Snow is not so pretty anymore.  It's freezing, slushy, heavy and wet.

Snow is very cold on my bare feet while running down the block in my pajamas chasing my dog who escaped through an unlocked gate.

Snow makes a very loud thump when it slides off my roof scaring the hell out of my dad.  He thought someone was trying to break into the house and had his 44 ready and loaded.

Snow hides icy alleys.  When I chased Wilbur down the alley this evening (another escape) I hit an icy patch, flew two feet into the air and landed very hard on my ass only to have to get right back up and continue the chase.

It's very hard to carry a 50 pound dog down an alley and back home in a foot of snow.

Cars get stuck in snow when pulling out of my garage.  They get stuck so bad I have to call my dad to maneuver while I shovel and shovel and shovel.  It's a lot of hard work to dig my car out and especially very stressful when Wilbur keeps escaping down the icy alley.

Snow causes my car to get stuck and me to miss meetings.

I cannot drive my car up an icy ramp.  It just keeps sliding down - backwards.

Have you ever tried to keep a kitchen floor clean when there is snow outside?  Don't.

Ever try to find a pile of your dogs poop in the yard after it snows?  I can't, until I step in it or when shoveling I hit something "hard, frozen and very stuck" to the sidewalk.

The mail man will not deliver my mail if he cannot see my stairs.

The mail man cannot see my stairs if I don't shovel them.

I don't like shoveling.

I don't get mail sometimes.

Next year, I hope it doesn't snow for Christmas.  I hope it's sunny and 70 degrees.

Snow Sucks.