Archive | June, 2012

Suicidal Tendencies

28 Jun

A few days before I learned my son Cole had a brain tumor, I took him to the ER because he was in need of hydration due to incessant vomiting (obviously a few days later we learned why!).  And though he had been throwing up most of the night and was white as a sheet, the nurse attending to him could not get over his t-shirt.  Knowing Cole, he probably threw something clean on to wear to the hospital without giving much thought to the character of the garment.  It happened to be a “band t-shirt”, and the band happened to be ‘Suicidal Tendencies’.  Honestly, I didn’t notice his clothes at all.  I was slightly irritated to be in the ER because I seem to be the ER specialist of the family and quite frankly I just wanted to be at home.  Therefore his clothing choice was an irrelevant fact until the RN began to lecture Cole about the literal meaning of the band name (though if my memory serves me correctly, she was ignorant to it being a band), and felt it insensitive toward people struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Why bring up this little story?  Because it reminds me that what we see on the outside is not always as it is on the inside.  Oh heck, I’ll keep it personal…I will use the “I” instead of the “we”–what I see on the outside…

I am reminded that what I see outwardly (on or of a person), is not necessarily the true story at hand.  Just as above, the nurse knew nothing of Cole having a hemorrhaging and malignant brain tumor which was on the brink of changing the course of his life forever.  All she “knew” came from what she saw.  And what she saw was the ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ t-shirt.  Well I have to confess, after her diatribe I was slightly embarrassed, as his mother, at the inconsiderate suggestion she had now pointed out.  Embarrassed because I hadn’t considered the band name in the literal, for I knew it as a musical ensemble–if you can call the young (well not so young anymore) lads “musical”.  Anyway, I was embarrassed but at the same time irritated that she was lecturing my sick child.  I suppose you could say it was a ‘No Win’ situation, for she was judging Cole by his t-shirt and I was judging her for her condescension.

Bottom line…the old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” rings true!  And with that sentiment in tow, Cole looks healthy on the outside yet his insides are problematic.  So much so that him being at the camp in Oregon did not work out.  And with, yet another trip to an ER, he ended up coming home early–without having stepped foot upon the river in which he had hoped to navigate via kayak.  And now the mystery of his internal affairs has got him quite down.  No, he isn’t presently walking about with his ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ shirt on.  Although its message is probably more fitting to the time and might no longer provoke the angst of an attending nurse.


Risk Of

23 Jun

The other day, when I accompanied Cole (my disabled son) to the airport to fly to Oregon for a white water kayaking experience, I had the daunting task of taking my hands off his care and entrusting his well being to himself.  …Please take a moment to pause at this sentence and consider that I am a mother, who loves her son.  Period.

Pause, pause, pause, pause.

I was standing next to Cole at the Jet Blue gate, while he was sitting in a wheelchair holding his USMC backpack and his cane.  He was awaiting the escort who would take him to the taxiing jet.  When the escort arrived, Cole was juggling his boarding pass along with the other two items mentioned.  I found myself ready and eager to assist with suggestions for a more efficient and safe ride to the plane EXCEPT, the USMC emblem on the pack reminded me of who my son is and who he isn’t.

He is a capable and experienced human being.  He is not a feeble unaware teenaged child.  He is a burgeoning man who has several travel experiences, without his mommy and daddy, under his belt.  He is not without knowledge of how to hold a ticket, backpack, and cane while being escorted via wheelchair through corridors–after all, he traveled to Nicaragua in January just after having had an eye surgery!  He is his own being.  He is not mine.

As I caught myself and halted my intrusive actions, I waved goodbye and watched him pass through the door with himself as his advocate and a stranger for an escort.  I turned toward the exit and coaxed myself through the door with the above reminders guiding my every step back to the parked car.  Had Cole been underage, I would have stayed until the airplane lifted off the ground.  But again, he is not that little boy any more, so I kept walking.  In my journey to the roof top of the parking structure I reminisced about the last email sent to us from the camp Cole was off to (  It was an email with a waiver attached that was mandatory he sign in order to attend.  It was a “Risk Of…” waiver.  Essentially, as you can fathom with a white water kayak camp, the waiver covered any and all possible risks of injury, illness, and potential death.  He had to sign his life away in order to live.  OK, that was a bit of a dramatic statement, but it works so I’ll leave it be.

Now at my car, I sat a moment in the silence ever so present due to the vacancy of the passenger seat.  And the idea of “risk of..” kept rolling over and over within my mind.  At that moment I wanted to express a profound prayer on my son’s behalf, but “risk of, risk of, risk of…” kept me from being able to land on continual thoughts which could possibly formulate into a petition to The Father to benefit my son.  And then I finally realized, “Yes, there is a ‘risk of’.  But that is a risk we all have to take, every day of our lives.  And Cole, fully aware, was interested in experiencing life despite the known perils.”  With the calm now present within my soul which came from the acceptance of the statement, I was ready to formulate a prayer.

“Lord, I pray Cole will have a good time.  And Lord, if he dies, I pray he dies happy…amen.”

I then turned on the car, drove out of the structure, and left the area before the plane took off.  Knowing full well the risks of the day, the hour, the moment, and the future.  Risks I’m willing to take and be a part of.  It is just plain old living.  Nothing new, no epiphany, just plain ‘ol livin’.

Cole called this morning.  He hasn’t yet been on the white water or in the kayak.  He has been sick to his stomach and very aware he is the only camper who is challenged physically, to the degree he is.  I handed the phone to my loving husband and walked away.  His dad gave him a pep talk over the phone and I am giving myself one still…

“Risk of, Rivka.  …risk of!”



Not So Common Courtesy

18 Jun

As I was in the middle of preparing tonight’s dinner (or supper, depending on the region you belong to), the phone rang.  The area code was one which I recognized, and which I anticipated a call back from, so I answered the call.  My “hello” was met with a fast paced presentation about solar energy and the “absolutely free cost for installation” provided from the government, should I qualify.  The man on the line then said, “Now I’m going to ask you several questions.  First…”  At that point I went in for the kill!  “I need to stop you right there!  What did you say your name was?  Well Mark, I do believe the appropriate way to proceed, before telling me you are going to ask me questions, is to first ask me if I am interested in being a candidate.”  To which I said, after he asked, “No”.  And he said, “Well … we are supposed to…”no?”…well then goodbye!”  —CLICK—

I’m thinking that Mr. Mark has never had a lesson in courtesy.  At least that is the idea I have decided to land on.  I was honestly ready to give him a good lesson, but he was so confounded by my interruption of his script, or re-direction rather, that his best response was to hang up.  No matter to me.  I was cooking and prepping food which is always nice to do two handed (instead of holding the phone with one hand).

And I would have left the incident there, instead of bringing up here, but the topic of courtesy–or lack thereof–has really been heavy on my mind as of late.  For instance, today when driving up to Long Beach I had the unpleasant experience of having a car speed up upon seeing my indicator light flash, signaling my move to the next lane.  I had, upon depression of the switch, plenty of room to move over until the car sped up with intent to block my indicated lane change.  Now since I couldn’t drag the driver to the side of the road and give him a proper lesson in courtesy, and since I couldn’t legally disable his rear tire by way of assistance from a firearm, I was left with only one choice.  I moved into the lane I had indicated I was going to move into as if the discourtesy of the other driver was in no manner affecting my action.  In other words, I arrogantly moved over into the lane as if to say, “go ahead, hit me–you ass!”  I think my confidence (call it what you will, but I will hang on confidence), stems from driving classic cars…they can withstand a bumping into without sustaining significant damage.  The only problem–I wasn’t driving one of my classics at the time.  I was in a new fan-dangled plastic bumper-ed car.  And though, thankfully, I was not hit nor did I cause an accident of any kind, my action did force the other driver to hit his brakes because I (in a vehicle of course) was now in his face.

I realize that in both of my anecdota one could argue the infraction lies in my response…as I appear to be a little too tightly wound.  To which I concur (to being tightly wound), though I will not accept the title of, discourteous.  Let me explain.

The salesman, Mr. Mark, knowingly cold-called my number at the dinner hour.  Without knowing anything about who he was calling, he brazenly proceeded without gaining the proper introductions and permission to do so.  And truly, had Mark come across with an ounce of consideration, I would have heard him out or suggested a better time to try back.   Had the conversation begun something like, “Good evening.  I am sorry to interrupt your day, but may I have your permission to discuss an exciting opportunity for you to be given solar energy?”, I would have been more receptive to his information…honestly!

And as far as driving…

You can consider me the type of driver who doesn’t believe in speeds less than 65mph.  That is right, Sammy Hagar and his ‘I can’t drive 55’ has nothing on me, cause 65 is my minimum!  But even so, should you activate your indicator light to move over to my lane, I will make way for you.  And though I prefer my way on the road be uninterrupted and in a constant forward motion, I will change my lane or adjust my acceleration, in order to accommodate the understood request presented by either your right or left flasher.

To me, consideration of others is an action we are each obligated to bestow, and an action we are obliged to receive.  And because I do consider others while driving, or calling, or interacting; and also because I am wound super tight…I feel compelled to instruct by passive or not so passive means.  After all, the coined term is “common courtesy”…though today it is appearing to be ‘not so common’.

Oy vay, write about a subject of this kind and watch out! …I am opening myself up to having all of my ‘missteps’ listed out before me.  Bring it on, I say; bring it on.  🙂



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