Reno, Anyone?

Everyone’s talking about March Madness. I don’t follow sports unless a sports thing becomes a news thing and then I’m drawn in. Or unless a sports thing becomes a social thing – then I’m there. That’s what happened  when I went to a March Madness dinner to watch the momentary – it turned out – appearance of Virginia on the March Madness stage. First, they were in – and then – they were out.  And that was that. But we were still there – and the host was white but stoic.  It reminded me of last March and a trip to Reno Nevada – for the final stop of our daughter’s basketball run at Sacramento State. Continue reading

Easy Street

I’m working on a theory. I’m still developing it. My sample size is very small – but my theory bears out inside the sample – my little family. The theory is this: The way people come into the world is the way they live their lives.  What do you think so far?

Let’s take my daughter Katie – sample number one. She rolled in after eight hours of steady measured labor – never letting up – organized and efficient. It’s the same way she does everything – like in high school, she’d plop on the edge of my bed with her calendar and ask if we could shop for her prom dress on the 15th or the 21st? Continue reading

The Woman in the Brown Dress

So – it’s Mother’s Day. It’s been a good one as they go – punctuated by some time with my kids, some flowers and a vegetable omelette. In a couple of hours we’ll gather ourselves up to go and watch my son play basketball. And as I was thinking about that, my own mom leapt into my thoughts – a certain moment when she surprised all of us with her – well – acumen, I guess, for mothering an athlete.

I can see it in my mind’s eye. It was a Slidell, Louisiana youth football game. My brother Frank – the quarterback – was on the field. We were all in the stands – the whole family. I don’t just see it – actually – I hear it too. The announcer in the white box up above the stands kept repeating it, “Will the woman in the brown dress please get off the field?”  I heard the plea. I frantically looked to where my mom had been sitting. I looked down to the field.

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The Final Drive

The End.  That’s how this story begins.  It begins with the end of the line for our beloved Big Black Car. It’s a Suburban. We never really named the car – maybe we should have. Once, on a camping trip, one of our friends called it the Puff Daddy Mobile but that name didn’t stick. Another friend more aptly called it The Battle Cruiser, but we never did. We sometimes called it the ‘Burban but mostly it was The Big Black Car – or Black Car – for short.


There’s a little bit of a pall over our household. And my daughters at college are feeling the loss too.  We drove the car into the car graveyard. It’s gone – the emblem of our family life -the chariot that drove us up, down, around and across California and beyond during fifteen hectic years while we raised our children. The job of raising those kids may never be over but the need for a massive car to get around seems to be. Continue reading

Such A Secret

It’s a story everyone wants to hear. The story about the day they came into the world. Like my mother, I handed those tales down to my children with great regularity.  I brought out the stories on long rides when the road was whizzing by. I molded them into bedtime yarns. I dusted them off and gave them new luster on request. But, I especially brought them out when they had a definite news peg – birthdays – like today.

It was February 28, 1994. It was just before one in the morning. I felt the stirrings and then the pain I easily recognized as labor. We called Jim’s dad who rushed over. We left him with our sleeping two-year-old, Katie. Jim put on his would-be paramedic look and rushed out to the car. I waddled after him. Once again, he flipped on his imaginary lights and siren and we were off, racing to the hospital, while I writhed in pain. Continue reading

Marking Time

My mother always said to me on my birthday, in her beautifully accented voice, “Joyce, darling, when you were born, the angels sang.”  In fact, the angels sang when all five of us were born.  She told us all the same story.  We waited for it.  We loved it.  But I did not hear the angels singing when my first child was born.  I thought I would.  Instead, I heard a nurse, marking time.  So that’s the story I tell my daughter on her birthday which is today.

It all started when I told my husband, 27 years ago, that I was in labor.  I believe he, a newsman, has a deep-seated desire to be a fireman or a policeman.  I swear I saw him flip on his lights and sirens.  I think maybe he had been dreaming about that emergency run to the hospital for some time… maybe since his youth.  Maybe that’s something men dream about like some women might dream of their wedding day. Continue reading

The Missing Sock

Who knew?  It’s a secret about parenthood people never talk about.  But I’m going to spill the beans right here, right now.  The secret is this: You will be chasing socks around from the time that baby comes home from the hospital until baby leaves for college. It hit me when I spotted a missing sock on the ground at the Oakland International Airport. The parents of the now single socked baby don’t know any of this yet. The baby and her socks are tiny but as that baby grows and more babies come into the family, one thing those parents will be doing among the millions of other things they’ll do for that baby and its siblings is — The Great Sock Chase.  And it lasts for about eighteen years — per kid. Continue reading

Wanted: My Son

Imagine my shock when I found out my son was a Wanted Man.  We stared at the mugshot together on the Wanted Poster, standing side by side. I could feel him next to me shifting in his shoes.  He’s a big 13 year old.  Fairly relaxed.  But this new information had rattled him. I could tell.

He was wanted for a crime he didn’t commit.  He was branded on that wall.  I wanted to protect him.  But, when they came and called his name I turned to him and said, “Are you ready?”  He nodded, enthusiastically, and shot me a big white, crooked smile.  He wanted correction.  He wanted straight teeth.  He gave me a little hug and he was gone.  Continue reading