Dinner chez Marcia

True to form, we make plans to do things. When the moment arrives, sometimes one thinks, “Why did I make these plans, the weather is crummy, I don’t feel like going out, etc.” True to form as well, one arrives on scene at the engagement made and realizes that despite feelings that it would be best to stay home, that the scenario turned out to be a memorable moment.

Going downtown can be a tiring experience; the part of it I like least is the traffic one has to deal with in order to get there in the late afternoon to early evening. I am an on-time person and I find it hard when I cannot easily plan within the framework affected by erratic traffic. As it turns out, despite our plans to leave at 5:15 PM to get downtown for 6:30, we didn’t get out of the house until 5:37 PM. Having Samantha in the house beforehand is enough to cause the delay. As usual, I avoided the main highway, which was a major parking lot, and took the Sheridan Road to Lake Shore Drive, seemingly slower, and yet not at that time of day.

Our invitation was at Marcia’s, a dear colleague from the French Homestay/Exchange I was involved in for over ten years. Dinner chez Marcia is always entertaining and the culinary aspect approaches that of the finest French restaurants. Marcia is the consummate hostess.

Going to Marcia’s is always interesting because the discussion is with intelligent people from different backgrounds who have somehow had some involvement with the program in France. After the experience of being with them, one realizes how inferior some of our social connections can actually be. There isn’t a moment where one is bored and the time passes oh so quickly. At the end of the evening, we looked at our watches for the first time and realized that it was well past eleven. There was no fatigue reminding us of the hour, no moment of thinking about when we would be able to leave. The conversation is always scintillating, hitting all sorts of subjects, and always engaging.

The evening started out with French champagne and appetizers. We were the last ones to arrive (oh so French, though not on purpose) and we had the appetizers, so we were keeping the festivities from beginning. The mood was relaxed and congenial. It was oh so nice seeing people we hadn’t connected with in so long.

My biggest surprise of the evening is that this blog is being read by more of my friends/acquaintances than I ever would have imagined. When I think back to last September, when I started blogging on a personal whim, not having any idea where this might be headed. My entries brought about conversation regarding things going on chez les Koerner, which I view as a good thing. I found it interesting that in some areas, I had no explaining to do regarding what has been happening, as everyone already knew!

After a nice conversational moment the word was that we were to go to the dining area and we sat down in places selected for us, nicely separating spouses and friends for good conversation. There were ten of us in total. We started out with three different foie gras, whose origins were explained to us. Personally, I liked Jean-Frédéric’s (the son of our good colleague/friend in France) the best! There were several white wines to go along with the course. Honestly, had we stopped the evening as early as that point, it would have still been a major success.

The next course was prime rib which was served rare, as I believe it should be. That always makes me happy. Red wine, of course, was served along with it. Ratatouille made by Marcia and cassoulet, If I remember correctly, were served as well.

The wines were amazing, they were always accompanied by an explanation/story of their origins, the food was explained, conversations about the food and other issues ongoing. This is the way a meal should be.
Following this, and the removal of the plates, the next course came out, that of salad (which was delicious, as expected) and the different varieties of cheese (I think all were French) served with a great multi-grain bread.

As the table was being cleared I became a bit confused as I was asked my age and/or whether Mary Kay was younger than I am. This cleared itself up as the Galette des Rois (the traditional Epiphany cake of France) was brought out. This came accompanied by a crown. The person receiving the fève (a tiny statuette) in his/her piece of the the galette would then wear the crown as the King or Queen and receive its accompanying good luck. The fève, for this occasion, was a miniscule statuette of a traditionally dressed Alsatian woman).

The reason I was asked my age is because the youngest person has to go under the table until everyone is served and call out the names of the the attending people as the hostess asked the question, “Pour qui est-ce?” This means, “For whom is the piece of galette?). Luckily, my memory of names was not hampered too much by the wine, although I almost forgot Mary Kay’s (lol!) and was reminded of it. It was strange being under the table. Is this perhaps my new place to be?

After the galette was served to all, we started eating and Marcia became the reigning Queen, a title which she well deserves for all of the wonderful things she does and the amazing job she has done culturally for both the Americans and the French at working with our friend Christine (and others) in France to create the programs we have so much enjoyed for so many years.

Along with the galette were served amazing chocolates Marcia had procured in France from the best chocolate makers (and that is no joke!) and other delicacies. Naturally, at this point several “digestifs” (after dinner drinks) were served.

Although one would think that the amount of liquor would be deadly, I felt, in fact, no ill effect as I had not really imbibed all that much at any point in time and what I did ingest was taken at intervals with the courses being eaten.

As I said, the time just flew by and the conversation and friendships re-invigorated were so much enjoyed. Marcia is truly the consummate hostess and so knowledgeable in so many different areas. As an aside, Mary Kay and I truly miss her sister, an intelligent woman who had some interesting opinions, many of which we don’t and didn’t share. One time she came with us to a dinner chez Marcia (we asked Marcia if she minded, and of course she didn’t) and in discussion with Marcia actually admitted that she was speechless and realized she just had to be quiet. That is the only time I ever witnessed that reaction. We so enjoyed that moment.

A special thanks to Marcia and all of our friends. Apologies to all if we haven’t been as able to be as social as we would like, yet I know that everyone understands. Events like this are reminders of the beauty of the variations within people and personalities and the richness they all bring to life’s table. That was one amazing evening! We feel so blessed.

What is happening?

Got up in my pretty usual mode of being totally awake and unable to stay in bed, so, I did the right thing, I got up.

After brushing my teeth and such, I went downstairs, started the coffee process, and then went into the family room to check on the progress of the upgrading of my iPhone software.  I am convinced I have an iTunes/laptop issue and it was still “processing” just as it was when I went to bed.  So I force a shutdown and reconnected.  At this point it said I needed to do a “system restore” which was just what I expected.  I tried more than once and now it says there is some unknown error.  This is why I don’t like to update, this has been happening since my previous phone and it is making my laptop (which I am writing on) look more suspicious.

Once Mikey gets up I am going to grab my netbook, used mainly for travel, and see if I can find success restoring my iPhone with its iTunes.  Since Mikey’s possessions are still in California, I have lent him this computer for the time being, it was just sitting around anyway since I am no longer working much for the language lab company, if at all.  It has iTunes on it so maybe that will be the answer to my issues.

I can only hope so.

I did get an e-mail from George Washington (my former boss) regarding some training that he wants me to do in Batavia, far west of the city.  He had asked me if I had heard from the teachers.  Originally I had and fielded their issues by forwarding their concerns to the IT people working for the company.  Of late, that is something I do frequently.  Then I had heard nothing from the school.  He wants me to contact them.  I told him I thought we should wait a bit, I know they are anxious to get back to work now that their Windows 7 vs. the language lab software issues are now in check, but they are usually good about contacting me when they need help. I reminded him that it is final exam time, so that is probably why they aren’t following up on it.

Anyway, this morning is not exactly promising to be a fun day.

I may have to hit the Apple Store, once again to deal with those issues if I am unsuccessful with my netbook.  The good news here is that today is the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  I am probably one of the few males around who has no major plans to sit in my easy chair and spend time watching the progress of that contest.  I am not into watching sports on TV, something that inhibits my conversations with fellow males.  I am finally at a point in my life where my inability to have a conversation about something that doesn’t interest me is no longer an issue. I am who I am.  I am remiss here; however, “inability” is the wrong choice of words.  I usually just have “passed over” doing somewhat of a fake when I respond to the typical sports’ related questions.  I have gotten darn good at it.  My sons pretty much follow my path but they do it far better than I do.  They have learned just enough to be able to do it more convincingly. Due to college, they might have some interest, anyway, in their alma mater’s teams and actually do watch occasionally. They also have a much better version of the “I really don’t care what others think” sentiments than I have had in the past, but I am much better at that than ever before.  Somehow, I sense there are more guys like me out there than anyone might realize!

Did I mention that this is not going to be a fun day?  Well, just about thirty minutes ago, the phone rang and I picked it up.  It was the local police calling to speak to me.  They asked me if I was Mary Nylund’s son.  They even got my first name wrong.  Given the amount of times they have called and that we have had the same conversation, this surprises me.  Then again, it doesn’t, because I remember what and whom they are dealing with, my mother-in-law.  Poor soul that she is, at the age of ninety-one and a half, living alone in an apartment less than a mile away, suffering from dementia and the other mental issues she has had most of her life that were never dealt with, and we get the news that once again she has fallen and is being taken by ambulance to the hospital.  At the risk of seeming to be cold-hearted, I must say that my mother-in-law’s hobby has always been her health related, medical issues.  They are the driving force of her existence, her claim to fame, and her way of getting attention. Years ago, this phone call would have elicited a different response from us, but the frequency of the, as I call it, “hangnail/911/Emergency room” calls has changed our reactions.  Through the years we had asked my in-laws to please call us before dialing 911, but that was rarely the case.  They were the local 911 “frequent flyers” and so when I received the call today, Mary Kay and I agreed that we would wait a bit before going to the hospital.  My father-in-law, God rest his soul, enabled the poor lady and by taking care of her real and perceived needs not only paved her way to being Queen of Highland Park’s ER but also undid himself and frankly undid his own fragile health.  He has been gone for over a year, my mother-in-law still calling us frequently to ask where he is. She incessantly thinks he is out drinking with our oldest son.  Amusing since I never saw him have more than two beers at a sitting and that was only when we “forced” them upon him at our house since he wasn’t allowed to have anything but non-alcoholic beer at home.  I say “forced” because that way “Nana” pretty much had to leave the situation alone since we had instigated it.

Mary Kay did receive a call from Nossi, the sweet caretaker (who my mother-in-law, despite her dementia, and still having a wicked streak, calls “Nazi”) who told us that she was currently in the apartment and felt that my mother-in-law was fine.  We figure she will be out of the hospital by early afternoon.

We needed to get over there anyway as the lovely Senior Apartments have been undergoing renovations on an apartment by apartment basis for years.  We know that since, until about a year ago, my mom had a beautiful apartment there as well and we were acquainted with the situation.  The kitchen is getting redone and we knew that we had to get over there to remove everything from the cupboards so that they could do the work. 

So, despite the fact that we thought we had a calm day here, between my silly iPhone issues and my mother-in-law, we are going to have fun.  Really?

How early is it appropriate to have a glass of Scotch?  The funny thing here is that I am about as close to a teetotaler that you can get and I ask this question!

Oh, wait, where is my blood pressure checking equipment?  I need to check that, but perhaps I should wait until later.

I just went to find the granola for breakfast.  I realized that some may think that I have made up these stories.  The scary thing is that they are only the tip of the iceberg.

Did I mention that Mary Kay is doing crossword puzzles right now?  Are we coldhearted? 


A snowy day

Today is one snowy day, one that pretty much took me by surprise.  I got up and when I came downstairs noticed that the ground was covered with fluffy white matter.  I quickly got the coffee going and headed outside to push the snow aside.  It actually took longer than I had thought although the snow was less than two inches.

Tried to get an appointment for my car and an oil change, that is on for tomorrow.

Did some Facebook, been spending more time on it than I usually have in the past, I am finding that blogging has a direct relationship to it and it seems the more I am blogging, the more I am on Facebook as many Facebookees use the vehicle to make commentaries.

Mike seems to be getting stronger by the day although, honestly, the strength was pretty obvious once he made his commitment to get better.  That is totally and always has been his character although one needs to be careful because once and addict, always an addict.  But we all have to be careful since there are many pitfalls we can all manage to fall into, it is how we deal with and react to them that is the crux of the healthy person.

Mike has been going through the GRE book we purchased to help get ready to take the test in preparation to go to grad school.  His current idea is to get a social work/counseling degree and work in a high school setting.  He and I were going over analogies in preparation for the exam.  Quite the interesting experience, I must say.

I am currently trying to muster the energy to get outside and push some more snow aside, using it to purge my soul of any demons attempting to occupy it.  It is clear to me that in my previous discussion of the analogy of the roller coaster and the family that familial-wise we are still not in one of life’s moments where we are totally moving in upward direction and appropriately happy.  Twinges here and there of issues relating to differences among family members continue to appear here and there.  Tears and anxiety are sometimes evident in phone conversations and individual meetings.  So, as with sobriety, it is the policy of one day at a time.

I am going out there, enough of this …

The perfect family, la famille parfaite, a bilingual entry

A bilingual effort, un effort bilingue; the perfect family, la famille parfaite

As I was swimming this morning, something made me think of the idea of the perfect family.  As far as I am concerned, it is a total oxymoron.  A family by its very nature is unable to be perfect because it is composed of flawed individuals. 

As I have lived my adult life I have seen many examples of family, some good and some bad.  I have actually visited close to three hundred families on the north shore of Chicago in my job as adviser (the spelling is correct, it is an in-house spelling) for New Trier High School.  In short, I have seen them all.

A family that tries to sell itself as perfect is an outright lie. Needless to say, there are many families that look the part.  We all know better.

The best way to describe a real family is as a roller coaster of sorts. When one decides to start a family, essentially one is getting on for the ride.  There will be low points, high points; there will be moments where things go quickly and others that go slowly.  There are unpredictable things that come along the way.

Dealing with human beings, due to their very nature, is never an easy thing.  We must always remember that when one speaks, one knows what one is saying; the problem is that we don’t know how the person who receives it is going to process it.  Perception is all important, all powerful. As is  said in Le Petit Prince, “Le langage est source de malentendus.”  Language is a source of misunderstanding.

There is no reason to feel bad about family strife; it is a normal part of life.  We are wrong when we expect otherwise.  What is important is communication.

What we are experiencing now in the Koerner household is normal.  We shall survive in some form or another.  We are sad to be experiencing it because we have always tried to be open and non-judgmental, and forgiving.  We shall continue to respect one another and attempt to do our best to understand each other and get along.

We are on that roller coaster and at a particular point in the ride, but this too shall change.


Pendant l’heure que j’ai passée dans la piscine ce matin, je pensais à l’idée de la famille parfaite.  A mon avis, l’idée de la famille parfaite n’est qu’un oxymoron.  Une famille, dans la vie réelle, ne peut absolument pas être parfaite car elle est composée d’êtres humains qui ne sont pas du tout capables de la perfection.

Dans ma vie d’adulte j’ai vu beaucoup d’exemples de familles, il y en avait de bons et aussi de mauvais.  J’ai même rendu visite à presque trois cents familles dans le North Shore de Chicago quand j’étais « adviser » à New Trier High School.  En effet, j’ai tout vu en ce qui concerne les familles.

Une famille qui se prend comme l’exemple de perfection n’est qu’un mensonge total.  Je dois avouer, quand-même que je connais pas mal de familles qui essaient  de donner un air de perfection. Nous ne le croyons pas du tout.

Afin d’expliquer l’idée d’une famille réelle, l’idée qui me vient à l’esprit est celle d’une montagne russe. Quand on décide de créer, d’avoir une famille, c’est comme si on décide de faire un tour de montagne russe.  Il y a des moments où on monte très haut et il y en a d’autres où on descend très bas. Il ya  des moments où tout se passe très vite et d’autres où c’est le contraire. Pendant ce tour de montagne russe, il y a même des choses qu’on ne peut même pas prédire.

L’idée de pouvoir s’entendre avec les gens n’est pas toujours facile.  Il faut toujours se rendre compte, quand on parle, qu’on sait exactement ce qu’on veut dire, mais la personne qui entend nos paroles peut bien comprendre autre chose. La perception des gens est tellement importante.  On a dit dans Le Petit Prince, “Le langage est source de malentendus.”  

Il ne faut pas exagérer les problèmes familiaux.  C’est une partie de la vie normale, cela ne peut pas être autrement.  La communication est la chose la plus importante.

Ce qui arrive chez les Koerner est également normal.  Nous allons survivre les difficultés actuelles.  Les Koerner ont toujours essayé d’être des gens qui sont ouverts, qui ne jugent pas, et qui pardonnent facilement et nous sommes tristes de devoir passer de tels moments.  Nous allons continuer de garder le respect que nous avons les uns pour les autres et de nous entendre comme il faut.

Nous faisons un tour de montagne russe et nous sommes arrivés à un certain point du tour, mais étant un tour de montagne russe, cela va bientôt changer.

Life is good!

My original title for this entry was, “Control Revisited, Day Four.  By the end of my written meditation, a visual came into my mind that I am sharing with you at the end of this article. For some reason, control is the one thing I think about more than anything.  I am totally convinced that control is one of the biggest parts of our lives. I really wonder how many people are aware of the power and influence that control has in their lives.  It is a two pronged item, one being the control that others and situations have on us and the other being our need for control to satisfy our own needs.

I think learning to deal with both aspects of control is so important to much of our happiness.  When it is a situation of the control that life and people have over us, it is important to be aware of it and to be able to manage to be happy with it and in spite of it.  There are so many things over which we have absolutely no control.  Not realizing it often makes us unbearably unhappy, on the other hand, being aware of it can allow for complete happiness, if we are so inclined.  It is so important to be able to objectively look at life situations and to say to oneself, “I cannot do anything about that, I need to modify my needs and/or compromise my wants.”  Tragedies, deaths, catastrophes are all things over which we often have no control.  We need to deal with them and move on.  This is not to say that we should see things occurring and just lie down on the train tracks and wait for the locomotive to arrive, but it means that we must recognize when our actions will have no import over them. I firmly believe that too many people just don’t get this concept.  Thinking with a clear mind and trying to visualize the total picture helps so much in terms of understanding what we can and cannot change. I recall in my teaching career the rabidity with which certain people would demand things that would directly impact my life.  Sometimes, they were just stupidly annoying as I could see that these demands were nothing more than people trying to satisfy their own egos and not really concerned with the students they were serving.  I realized that battles must be chosen carefully.  If the students were to be negatively affected by the needs of these individuals then I would allow my hackles to rise and prepare for a battle.  On the other hand, if the effect on the others was negligible and/or unimportant, and it was just the others’ inherent needs to satisfy themselves, sometimes I just let it be.  The fight is not always worth it.  Being able to recognize the feelings and needs behind their motivation is oh so important and thus allowed me to decide what to do, to move on, and to let go of my need for control.

I like to think that I can recognize my need for control and to deal with it appropriately.  It is not always easy to let go, but once again, if you can objectively look at the situation, it is easier to do.  When something is really important for you, it is certainly harder to let go.  It is important, however, to see the total picture so that you can make a decision.

Control came to mind today as I fight my need to control as we are in day four of my so called Daddy Boot Camp.  I am a parent, a father, and I so want to take matters into my own hands and “heal and make appropriate changes” in my son’s situation.  He is an adult. I can offer counsel if he wants it, I can give my opinion, when necessary, but in the end I have absolutely no control.  It is this acknowledgement that made me realize that locking the wine and other alcoholic beverages away is nothing more than a silly idea.  It is not that I want to make my son’s life and choices difficult but I am aware that no matter what I do, that these choices are going to jump out at him in every aspect of his life.  What I can do is support, be there for him, and do my best to try and be aware of all that I can do to appropriately help him as he and I, along with the rest of the family, recover from  this unexpected (to me) nightmare.  I had a glass of wine last night, he even cooked with wine and I couldn’t help but think, “Am I doing the right thing?”  I keep returning to the idea that honestly I have no control and although there are things that I should and need to do, there are also things that I might do just to satisfy my own need to control, but that it might be nothing more than a negative.

One of my pet peeves in life is seeing people who “Grab defeat from the jaws of victory,” my own switch of a well known statement.  It makes me want to cry when I see people, and I have seen them in my classroom, among my peers, and in my family, take what seems to be a perfectly wonderful life and situation, not be able to see it clearly, and make the decisions that will inevitably negatively impact them and their lives.  It makes you want to take them and give them a whack on the side of their heads.  I realize that that will not work.  If they cannot see it, they are going to have to live with their decisions.  I guess I am saying I find it hard to relate to the people who continually see the glass half empty.  I myself have been there but I didn’t enjoy that philosophy so I fought my nature and did my utmost to see things otherwise.  I also realized that anger and negativity works against us in a destructive fashion most of the time, I would much rather take the anger and use it in a positive way, to get something beneficial.  Although I try to do this, I still fall victim to holding, what my wife calls, “grudges” that I hold on to tenaciously.  I tend to see this differently.  I don’t see them so much as grudges, per se, but as situations where someone has perhaps treated me a certain way, I deal with it, but I am never, ever going to allow it to occur in the future and I thus “write them off.” 

Yesterday started out a bit rough from poor sleep for Mikey, but today is better, he realizes that without drugs that his fast metabolism needs to be properly stoked at night so that his body has enough protein to calmly get through the night. My home made granola spiked with some chocolate apparently fits that bill and he just came down to tell me that he had a much better night.  I hope that this is a sign of where the recovery is, but I reminded him that he may still have bouts of less than perfect sleep and that he has to be prepared for this.

Once again, we had good communications about all sorts of issues, from his recovery to his plans for the future and bit by bit we are piecing the puzzle pieces together to make good use of our time. Not that I had huge plans on my mind for what I am doing at present, but I feel somewhat like my life is on hold.  It is easy for me to see that the loss of my full time job to the recession may well have been a good thing.  I am able to do so many things we could not otherwise do.  Being here for Mikey is one of them and I thank my lucky stars that I am able to do this.  Life is so interesting, it is an amazing journey.

I so want to be able to wave my magic wand and make everything perfect, assure myself that my sons are all on positive journeys and happy.   Coming back to the control issue, I realize again that my input into that situation was when the boys were younger and that now I have a much lesser role.  As a parent, however, we so want to be able to make positive changes for people, especially when it is clear to us about what needs to be done.  I know that we cannot change and/or repair people.  My biggest disappointment in teaching that I learned early on is that there are people we cannot reach, cannot help, and that we are forced so often to stand by the sidelines and watch as we see them flounder.  That is the way it is.  I recall the hurt when a student would complain to me that I wasn’t meeting his/her needs and even more hurt when he/she would say something to the effect that I didn’t like him/her.  That cut to the quick.  You just cannot reach everyone, no matter how hard you try.

I also keep coming back to my philosophy that no matter how bad a situation is, that there is something good that can be taken from it.  That is always the case.  It is purely a question of how we view things. 

I have not mentioned anything this year about New Year’s resolutions.  I seriously do have a few, but overall I have one major one, and that is to be the best person I can be, to be there for everyone in whatever way I can, and to realize that sometimes I just have absolutely no control and I just have to accept.  So be it. 

Years ago, Mikey got a hold of a magic marker.  He took a jar of skin cream that he needed for some reason at the time, and wrote on it of his own volition, “Life is good.”  He was and is oh so right.  We saved that jar, relegating it to a spot in a bathroom cabinet.  We couldn’t let go of it and the Koerner family needs to take a long look at it and absorb its message.   We just all need to recognize it and make the best of what we are given and do our utmost to give back.

Mind wandering on Day Eight of rehab

It is just a smidgen after eight o’clock and once again I find myself sitting with my coffee next to the Christmas tree hoping to absorb some of its magic before getting on with my day.  I did a bunch of my “Hausherr” tasks before getting to this point, getting the coffee underway (I had set it up last night as I usually do), feeding the dog, having her get the newspaper, straightening up a few things here and there. 

Ali has been surprising me of late in that she has been eating without needing to have us with her as much and even without the television being on.  As I sit here, I am listening to the crunch of her food as she eats, crunching probably not that much unlike my crunching on food which Mary Kay points out every so often, after having knocked over her bowl.  Ali has strange eating habits, eating habits probably not unlike many of her canine peers, but they are different.  We have always had a strange problem with her knocking the bowl over and then trying to take her food and hiding it.  The hiding portion we get, it is an ancestral trait to take the food gleaned from the hunt and make sure that the leftovers are nicely hidden for later, but she also needs to physically change the position of the food by knocking it out of the bowl.  We have done all sorts of experiments with this; have changed bowls and thanks to MK’s grand niece Abby who said, “Why don’t you raise the height of the bowl for her by putting it on this stool?”  I thought it was a silly effort but went along with it and lo and behold, Abby was certainly right.  Ali, for a very long time, was content to just eat out of the raised bowl.  That however changed in the not so distant past and we are back to normal, whatever normal is.

Communications from California and from Michael keep reminding us of all of the interesting tasks and decisions we are going to have once he is out of rehab.  He sounded great yesterday, somewhat bored, and even decided to do some exercise.  He would have started sooner, exercise is an addiction he once again wants to pursue, but the room provided at the clinic was not being used all that much nor was it being touted as a good thing.  The reason being is that I am surmising that they are not able to “police” it as much as they should given their current level of staffing and apparently drug deals might well have a  tendency to occur there.  Very sad!  He also had mentioned to us that the two week program is soon morphing into detox only, there not being appropriate funding for the current situation.  That doesn’t surprise anyone, given the state of the recession. It makes one wonder where the victims of addiction are going to get the care they need, but that is another question altogether.

From California, we hear of this issue and that issue regarding Michael’s employment and we are trying to get a hold of his important papers regarding all sorts of issues.  We are in touch and hearing from all sorts of people, friends, acquaintances of how we can ameliorate the situation and move on.  At this point, we need to have Michael home and then figure out where we are going.  For now it is all conjecture and we have some ideas that need to be formalized.  One question is how to get Michael’s possessions back here, UPS?  U Haul?  We shall see.  At this point, we don’t even know what the actual amount of his post divorce possessions happens to be.  It helps not having a “formal” job at the present time since I shall have time to be around and do things others cannot take the time for.

I am wondering as well about what the ramifications are for us with an individual in the house again living with us.  Last year saw us with our fourth son, Charlie, living with us for a while.  I had thought, upon his departure, that we were done with that.  Foolish thought!  A parent is never done, that is one thing we have learned.

I have decided, however, that I have always been a very tolerant dad when it comes to all sorts of things in the household.  Although I have always wanted to make everyone hold my standards, I am smart enough to know that frankly, they are a bit higher than they should be for most everyone, so I relax my desire to hold everything to that line.  Usually a bedroom used by a son was relatively off limits to my control and I never had reason to change that, now I feel as though the towels must be hanging in the bathroom at all times and that I should never have to “wade through” anything in his future room.  I worry about the “parameters” of his lifestyle once home and wonder how involved we need to be.  There is no room for tolerance of any type of situation where Michael would place himself in a compromising moment with friends given his need to abstain from any addictive item for the immediate future, yet I wonder what our role needs to be here.

Not that I want to be monetary, but the return of Michael to the fold is going to involve cash outlay and already has.  That is another issue as well as we head off to “normalization.” 

I also have no intention to be involved in any sort of enabling whatsoever.  I understand that a certain amount will occur just because of not always knowing all the details.  We love our son, but we are not going to do anything that reeks of allowing inappropriateness because of our relationship or because we cannot say “no.”  Saying no as parents was something that we did, much more so than many of our North Shore parental peers.  I remember MK telling me that one mother, upon hearing of our decision to not allow a son to travel north after a prom to a post prom bash near Lake Geneva, say that she was a “spoilsport.”  We did that often, making us somewhat unpopular with other parents and we never cared.  I also remember that we said to our boys regarding unpopular decisions we made regarding things they could do to just “blame the silly old fogey parents.”  I remember their reply that they were okay with it and just wouldn’t do that. 

There are lots of things to think about for all of us.  Today is a visiting day at the clinic and there actually is time in the early evening for a family member or two to visit.  I don’t yet know who is going although I don’t think we are, I believe a brother is going; the day shall play that one out.

I want to get on with it, I am naturally impatient by nature, yet we have to allow things to run their course.  We all have to hang in there. Meanwhile, goal number one is health.  There IS no replacement for that.

Day Four, Detox/Rehab, one day at a time…addendum

As usual, my whirring mind was going non-stop as I baked the final batch of cookies.  Meditation was at work as I rolled the sticky balls of molasses cookies and coated them with red or green sugar before baking.

I have said before that things happen for a reason and I firmly believe that.  It is not possible to comprehend and/or understand why these things occur.  In September, I started blogging, for the first time in my life.  I had tried it a bit before, but it wasn’t right and I gave up after a few entries.  This time, for whatever reason, it was right.

Everyone mourns a unique, special way.  We need to be respectful of that and, as in most cases in life, non-judgmental, something most of us have an issue with.  I see in my family that we are all in mourning.  No one has died, thank goodness, but a part of our lives has.  We can no longer go on and expect that everything in certain areas is going to be all right.  There is a new paradigm here and we all need to acknowledge it.  In my family, I see that each individual has reacted differently, some pulling inward, some expressing visible anger, some taking charge and becoming energized with things to do to clear things up so we can move on.  It is hard when we all come together because we might, full well, knock heads.  We cannot afford that reaction as we have to be on the same page.

I was very upset during the family dinner (on the evening of the day when we learned of the addiction) when emotions pretty much got out of hand and we “lost it” for a moment.  I was distinctly upset because I actually had a handle on it and it seemed like I wasn’t being heard.  I was being heard, but it was a delayed reaction of sorts.  It was very hard to take.  Again, now in retrospect, I realize that we all have to deal with things as our minds dictate and that often it is beyond our control.

I feel that things are coming together in a good way.  We have a long voyage ahead.  If one were to see me silently sobbing here as I write this, tears falling down my face, it might be a total surprise as I seem to be ‘in control.’  It is a momentary lapse and it is okay.  This isn’t the last time I shall feel like this.

Digression seems to be my modus operandi and I have gotten away from my original thought about blogging.  I am convinced that somehow I was mentally preparing for all of this when I started writing in September.  Something told me that this would be something of solace and catharsis for me and hopefully for my family members as well, if they are not angry at me for attempting to point out how they were reacting to all of this as we passed through it.  It is interesting that the word “catharsis” is actually on my home page.  We are all scared as we muddle through this, hoping that we make good decisions and choices and that their ramifications are good.   I am truly hoping that my youngest will read this at some point in time and try to get a better handle on how we felt as we went on this journey with him and hoped and prayed that he would recover and go into remission.