After accepting Jim and LeeAnn’s generous offer of using their Florida condo, we started to plan our trip. We had one major obstacle to overcome which was my comfort for a 23-hour van ride (I sound like such a diva). My neck muscles have gotten weaker so I’m no longer stable in the front seat without some sort of brace. We thought of possible solutions such as flying first class because the seats recline more than coach or renting a motorhome or a handicap van, but nothing seemed to work much better than our minivan. We tried multiple pillow options while sitting in the front seat and the one that gave me the most comfort and neck support was a pregnancy pillow, but sitting with that huge pillow wrapped around me for a 23-hour car ride would not work.
On the day we were going to leave I changed my mind because we hadn’t found a good seating solution, plus my legs aren’t much help anymore which presents a whole new set of problems so I told Mark we should cancel our trip. It’s funny because Mark is usually the cautious one but this time it was me. Mark called Bryan first to break the news because he was our co-pilot on the trip. Bryan seemed to take the news just fine. Mark then called Kelly and LeeAnn who sounded disappointed but understood. About thirty minutes later Kelly came over to see why I changed my mind and right away she pointed out the positive reasons why we should go on this trip. She left and minutes later Bryan called with lots of passion in his voice reciting all of the positives of this trip but then he said something really important that helped me change my mind. Bryan said, “I’m confident we can find a solution to every obstacle we face on this trip. Dad and I are willing to dedicate our whole trip to trying to make you comfortable and if we can’t, we’ll turn back and go home.” Bryan was right. There usually is a solution to most of our problems if we are willing to open our minds and get creative. How could I say no to Bryan’s pep talk? He was right so I decided to go.
A few days before Christmas Bryan and I spent two hours walking along our beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline taking advantage of the fifty degree weather we were enjoying on a December day in Muskegon. Bryan has this amazing ability to make me feel like he has nothing better to do but spend time with me on his day off from work while Mark was out running errands.
We talked about many things while on our peaceful walk but no words were necessary because just being was enough.
Every Saturday morning Bryan calls to take our order for Brooklyn Bagels or Ryke’s Bakery. Ever since my childhood, Long Johns from Ryke’s have been a special treat because of the delicious vanilla cream they put in the middle. After it became difficult for me to swallow Bryan continued to bring them over and feed me just the vanilla cream out of the center being very careful not to get any of the donut mixed in for fear I would choke. Last Saturday Bryan somehow arrived with just the cream.
Thank you, Bryan. You are my favorite.
About a year ago I wrote a story about me being a crazy mother in the mornings while trying to get myself ready for work and our four kids ready for school. I also wrote that Bryan was always a mess when we arrived at St. Michael’s Elementary to drop the kids off. Chad, Kelly and Corey would tease him about his elastic-wasted pants being on backwards, his jacket being unzipped or his papers falling out of his backpack. With Bryan being our youngest I guess I was more relaxed about his appearance than I was with the other kids.
Baby Bryan inherited his bad allergies from me, so sometimes I would give him an allergy pill for kids and send him off to school. By the end of the first grade Bryan had started to fall behind in reading so his teacher Mrs. Peterson suggested we find him a summer reading program. I called my friend Marie Hoppa who was a reading specialist at Reeths-Puffer and who also happened to be running a reading program that summer and we signed Bryan up. At the end of Marie’s program Bryan was doing great and he was ready for second grade.
School started the following fall and the allergy season was really bad and I was all out of my own allergy medicine so I took some of the medicine I’d been giving Bryan the year before. Shortly after I took it I got really sleepy and couldn’t keep my eyes open and then I thought of Bryan. Every time I gave him Benadryl he must have fallen asleep in school. I felt so bad and then it dawned on me that I was responsible for his deficiency in reading which made me feel even worse.
I learned a very important lesson about using medicine without clearly thinking of all of the consequences. I could have really changed Bryan’s future if I hadn’t taken him off that medicine.
Sorry Bryan. I’m so thankful that I didn’t scar you for life.
When our kids were young Mark’s parents would visit from Florida and stay with us. Our kids were old enough to stay by themselves but it was nice to have Mark’s parents around to referee their fighting.
Our kids were no angels back then except on one day when they had a beautiful surprise waiting for us when we came home from work. Summer was usually busy at work for Mark and I, so unfortunately we were both a couple of hours late that day. But when Mark and I did arrive home Kelly, Corey and Bryan greeted us at the door and asked us to be seated in our formal dining room. Dinner music was playing in the background as we sat at the candlelit table which was set with two place settings. The kids placed darling homemade menus in front of us which said Lucky’s Restaurant. The kids named their restaurant Lucky’s after Mark’s parents’ dog, Lucky.
The menu included drinks, appetizers, salads, soup, a main course and dessert. Bryan, who was probably eight years old at the time, wrote down our orders while Corey (12) and Kelly (14) worked on the food in the kitchen.
I remember the dinner being pretty good, but it wouldn’t have mattered what the food tasted like because it was made with pure, genuine love.