I’m thrilled to have my first essay published on Skirt Collective! Per their website ‘Skirt Collective aims to be the modern woman’s compass for navigating culture, fashion, and the real world. Nestled between street smarts and book smarts, SC connects readers with practical information and opinions from a diverse array of voices in an honest, virtual space.’
The holiday season and I have not been getting alone in recent years. In fact we’ve been on the outs since junior high. A week before Christmas, my mother had a major heart attack and underwent an emergency quadruple bypass when I was 12. Three years later she suffered another heart attack, followed by a stroke right before Thanksgiving.
In the years that followed, the holiday magic dwindled dramatically as my parents did the bare minimum of celebration. The real Douglas fur that was so large it needed to be cut so that it would fit in the doorway was replaced with a 4 foot artificial tree that sat on our coffee table. With other tensions running deep throughout my family tree, there were no longer gatherings with extended family that once filled up December. The stark contrast of ‘new’ holiday season, usually celebrated amongst my parents and I, made the void of seasons past more noticeable. Continue reading
During the entire month of October, the color pink has been splashed everywhere. City lights, donation canisters at cash registers, and the plethora of products that are branded as ‘breast cancer awareness’ have made it impossible for anyone not to know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. At an event I attended this month, the speaker asked all those who have survived breast cancer to stand while the audience applauded. No doubt- these women are survivors. However, October is also a time to raise awareness for another severe health crisis.
According to the American Heart Association, the acronym F.A.S.T. is an easy way to recognize stroke symptoms: Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to Dial 9-1-1. Chances are that if I went up to people on the street, most would be unable to identify stroke symptoms, but all would be able to share the importance breast examinations. Continue reading
While browsing the card aisle trying to pick out a card for my mother on her special holiday, I began to feel overwhelmed. Most of the cards spouted messages of thanks for always being there, for always showing the right path in life while being an amazing role model. As nice as the inscriptions were, they did not portray the relationship I have with my own mother.
The sentiments seemed more appropriate for the maternal figures portrayed in televisions shows — the flawless ones that always seem to make the right decisions and can fix everything in under an hour. All of the messaging seemed to sugarcoat the intense, strong but complex love I have for my her. My mother is a lot of things, but she is not flawless. And neither is your mother. Continue reading
Last Saturday night, my house was discombobulated. Strands of colored Christmas lights covered the floors, snow man figurines were lined up on the coffee table and garland was draped over the loveseat, nearly tripping each person passing by trying to get to the bathroom. In the middle of it all, my mother sat Indian-style carefully surveying the situation. Like a commander in chief, she was trying to figure out the best way to decorate, making sure each smiling snow creature could be scene and every light was appreciated. “What are you doing” she squeaked when I tried to pick up the garland to begin hanging it. I soon learned the best way to help was to sit on the floor, assisting to hold and pin things when she was ready. Instead of being annoying of her Christmas decoration takeover kick, I found myself smiling watching her get into the spirit. It reminded me that almost 11 years ago to the date, we almost lost the opportunity to ever decorate together.
Scrolling through my Twitter newsfeed while home from work Monday afternoon, I came across a tweet saying that it was World Stroke Day. A day where people raise awareness for the devastating effects strokes have on 795,000 people annually in the United State. After the tweets — and possible Facebook posts of the day — 90 percent of people who read the post forget about the statistics they’ve read or the stories of stroke survivors featured as the faces of stroke patients. They will go about their daily activities, feeling that because they retweeted the hashtag #worldstrokeday that they helped raised awareness.
World Stroke Day is more than a hashtag or 24-hour call to action day for my family — it is our everyday life. My own mother is a multiple stroke survivor and heart attack survior at the ripe age of 54 years old, experiencing her first major stroke at age 46. I remember going on the internet at age 15 searching about how to care for a parent who recently had a stroke. Continue reading
Like every other American, I have heard the word recession too many times in the past two years. I’ve seen it featured in every news report, spotlighted in every newspaper, and witnessed its effects in everyday life. It seems that each week, someone I know loses his job or is dangerously close to losing her home. It used to be that every time I heard someone’s sad story, in the back of my head I said a silent prayer, thanking God it hadn’t happened to my family. But several weeks ago, it did — when my father lost his job.
For the past decade, my middle-aged dad worked six days a week at a local auto repair shop, which was usually full of customers. During the last 24 months the flow of customers began to dwindle as, for many, the cost of tune ups became too great. The store’s management didn’t give my father any warning — they simply told him he was too expensive to keep as an employee. Just like that, he was tossed into the street. That day was the first time in my life that I’d seen my parents truly upset, and completely uncertain about their future. Continue reading