The Best Mothers Day Gift

My daughter’s absolute favorite song is Bridge Over Troubled Water sung by Johnny Cash.  I wonder if she remembers it from her embryonic days, but will never mention this to her, as I’m sure she will once again proclaim my weirdness and stop talking.  She actually loves several versions of this song, and yesterday we sang them all in the car on the way to Mimi’s and Nana’s and back home again.

I realize that I am by no means a gifted singer.  I am a shower singer, a driving in the car by myself singer, a person with music, good and bad, sifting around in my head all day singer.  The right phrase spoken out loud by stranger can trigger a song in my head and sometimes out of my mouth.  Such words Spoken by a friend can lead to both awkward or funny blurts of melody and lyrics, based on my timing.  Timing is everything.

Newport BridgeWhen I was pregnant with Julia, I not only sang to myself, but I sang to her.  I felt like I could communicate to her through my car and shower singing rituals.  But just in case I couldn’t reach her, I spent many relaxing hours with a pair of headphones on my belly so that she might get exposed to some people who could actually sing – George Jones, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to name a few.  Mellow, sweet and sad songs that could calm her while opening and forming her little unborn mind.  Songs about love and loss, which sounds depressing, but it was the tonal quality of the voices and the music that I was after, to soothe her, and myself.

Once Julia was born, the music really began.  I sang to her in the car before she could consciously object.  I danced her around the house to George Harrison All Things Must Pass and other Beatles songs every evening before bed.  Reading stories included music and singing songs, always.  From infancy to at least 2 years old or so, she stopped crying almost instantly whenever I sang Michelle to her.

The first song she ever sang was the Winnie the Pooh theme song.  We’d drive to daycare and kindergarten singing Elmo and other Sesame Street character hits; I grew to enjoy Elmo’s screeching little high-pitched laughter (I no longer can tolerate him, thankfully).  As she went through elementary school, we’d still sing in the car in the mornings, to everything from Julie Andrews to Hannah Montana to Weird Al Yankovich, based on whatever stage she happened to be going through.  The songs she learned in school were also belted out on the way to the grocery store, bank, or whatever other errands we ran together.  Singing with her, though not a conscious activity (as in NOW WE SHALL SING), was our way of connecting.  I never thought that would change.

If you’ve read some of my past blog posts, you will learn that eventually, around 5th or 6th grade, in Julia’s mind, our music became “your music” and “my music.” ( Read https://pattytmitchell.com/2012/11/16/my-daughters-music/   or  https://pattytmitchell.com/2013/10/13/changing-times/)  Me singing Julia’s music became … unappreciated.  In fact, it was very much frowned upon.  My heart shattered, my ultra sensitive feelings crumbled.  How could she shut me out?  How can I believe that she still loves me?  So many parts of our relationship began to change.  She became a DT – Disagreeable Tweener.

I’ve now learned to appreciate the moments when we are both together and somewhat aligned, and that’s certainly helped me accept her becoming the individual that she is.  They are small and sometimes short-lived moments, but relished and sealed in my heart forever.  And becoming more frequent these days, thankfully.

So yesterday was Mothers Day and included car rides to visit my mom and my mother-in-law.  Julia normally changes the radio to one of “her” stations as soon as the ignition turns over, or plugs in her phone and her music before I even get a chance to object.  But not today.  Today Paul McCartney belted out Till There Was You without interruption or eye-rolling.  No looking out the car window with disgust, just a patient tolerance.  And then after came our medley of Bridge Over Troubled Water.  Some gifts are priceless.

Take a listen to Julia’s favorite renditions, in order of preference

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=johnny+cash+bridge+over+troubled+water&qpvt=johnny+cash+bridge+over+troubled+water&FORM=VDRE&adlt=strict

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=mary+j+blige+and+andrea+bocelli+duet&FORM=VIRE12&adlt=strict#view=detail&mid=C437FE647A7F820895C1C437FE647A7F820895C1

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/flashback-elvis-presley-sings-bridge-over-troubled-water-in-1972-20140501

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=simon+and+garfunkel+sing+bridge+over+troubled+water&FORM=VIRE1&adlt=strict#view=detail&mid=005F9B10BE36E013ABA1005F9B10BE36E013ABA1

 

Didn’t You Know? My Daughter is Perfect

She’s been telling me this all along.  I just didn’t believe it.  My thirteen-year-old daughter is perfect.

Today we went to the pediatrician for her annual exam.  I hold enormous respect for Julia’s doctor; a bright, personable, professional and compassionate practitioner.  But hearing her say those words to me, after Julia’s first ‘teen’ appointment (when you have to leave the room for the exam so they can talk), hit me like pie plate full of shaving cream.

I mean, yes, she’s pretty awesome.  Our girl is an honors student, a star athlete, a great alto, tall, blonde, blue-eyed and can be both compassionate and funny simultaneously.  She’s been handed some significant gifts, it’s true. But perfect?  Really?  How did she fool her into that one? Silly doctor.

Of course I sat outside the examining room, straining to hear things like – my mother is a psychopath, or – they beat me, starve me and burn all of my clothes at least once a week.  I waited anxiously at the door dreading that my daughter was doing something that I didn’t know about, and that she didn’t want me to know about. Boys? Drugs? Alcohol?

It all seems to be starting now.  She often tells me about kids her age who are experimenting with sex, or who are trying out for the role of town skank.  Kids at this age are testing the waters and have boundless energy to burn.  These same little babies who might have played on a sports team with her, or sat in the backseat of our car to get a ride home.  How could their world of promiscuity, ignorance and rebellion be even close to my girl’s?

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All Things Must Pass

bostonFor those of you keeping track, yes it’s still officially Sunday as I write this.  I’m really good at this procrastination stuff, in case you can’t tell.

As I sit here and watch the Red Sox try to win Game 2, I recall when the Sox won it all in 2004.  Such an amazing time to be a fan, especially a fan that still had ‘the faith.’  Before it cost money to be a fan (ala Red Sox Nation) and before it cost several hundred dollars for a few folks to go to the game together and go grab a bite before or after.  But I digress.

There are two moments I remember clearly during the playoffs and series in 2004.  The first is just jumping off my chair when the Sox took the series from the Cardinals and hugging my husband.  We were truly blissful that ‘The Curse’ had finally been broken, and we were fans on the winning side.  We got to know those guys almost intimately – Damon, Veriteck, Millar, and of course my main men Pedro, Manny and Big Papi.  That feeling of joy still makes me grin.

The other moment is actually a series of moments, of running home from work with Julia, who was almost four years old at the time, getting her positioned in front of the TV on her own little upholstered chair with the horses on it that Mimi and Papa got her, with a little tray to eat her supper off of, making dinner and watching the game and the child at the same time, each playoff game.  Something to look forward to each night, and Julia went right along with the scurrying around, then the settling down to watch the game with her Mama.  She would cheer for Big Papi and Pedro, mimicking me, taking her queue from her mom, her role model. She loved the game and she loved watching with me, with both of us.  Jeremy worked nights in those days and sometimes Julia would just be going to bed when he got home to his tired, bleary eyed but happy girl.  She was thrilled to see Daddy, but we gals took care of ourselves at night, and she was normally in bed and asleep by the time he got home.

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The Resident Reviews A Girl from the Hill- A Parent’s Hardship and Recovery

English: Dahlia 'Graceland'

English: Dahlia ‘Graceland’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Resident, is a local Mystic, CT paper, and the first publication that reached out to me for an interview once A Girl From the Hill became available.

What follows is the interview, which is not electronically available yet.  You can check out there site, http://www.theresident.com/ as I’m hoping it will be out there soon.

The gentleman who interviewed m, Roger Zotti, did send me a hardcopy in the mail, which I received yesterday.  To say I was touched by his effort is an understatement.

A Parent’s Hardship and Recovery – by Roger Zotti

The best way to understand the power of Patricia L. Mitchell’s “A Girl from the Hill:  My Mother’s Journey from Italian Girl to American Woman” (Balboa Press) is to give you a taste.  Consider “The Old Crow,” perhaps the book’s most telling chapter, which is about the ‘very severe depression’ Patricia’s mother, Dahlia Lydia Fiore Testa, suffered.  It’s about Dahlia’s numerous fears, especially “the fear of anyone seeing how frightened she was.”

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Strong Men Make Strong Women, and Baritone Barbies

Every Father’s Day I think of my only favorite Wayne Newton Song- Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.  And there were a few slow walking Daddies around this weekend, for sure.  But for what they lack in speed, they more than made up for in strength.

English: Barbie Portrait

English: Barbie Portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My gratitude is soaring out the window tonight, as I think about the weekend, the day, the great people I’m surrounded by.

I enjoyed a weekend of  basketball and sweet little 12-year-old girls jacked up on candy.  Girls who are really just little girls, but play basketball with strength, heart soul and determination of a platoon of Marines.  Did I mention that they love each other like sisters?  They do.  So cool to watch my girl band with a bunch of other talented beautiful tough ass girls.  I already thought she had a great gang of awesome friends before this. And nice parents.  These girls are so lucky that they can live strong and beautiful simultaneously.  Happy and proud of my girl – of all of the girls.

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Sometimes You Hurt the One You Love – Or You Just Make Them a Bit Snippy

3/4 front view of a female snapping turtle (Ch...

3/4 front view of a female snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), taken near the St. Lawrence River in northern New York state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes, worry can totally consumes the Crow.  She doesn’t get out of the house much these days, and with all the rain she can’t even sit on her deck and soak up some sun.  That just amplifies her stress levels.  Today she was worried about a change in my Dad’s meds.  I had all the info, but in addition to calling me about the changes, the doctor’s office also called her.  This is a mistake, because my mother often gets confused and is so worried about potentially getting the instructions wrong, that she invariably will. So she wanted to call me to confirm what she thought she hear about my dad’s potassium dosage.

Except with the Crow, if she calls you and you don’t answer, she just doesn’t leave a message.  She keeps calling you until you pick up the phone.  It doesn’t matter if it’s important or not.  If she wants the answer she will not relent.  So she didn’t.

Sitting in sort of an important meeting I let her first call go.  The second one I began to panic myself: is this an emergency?  I always forget about her compulsion to know the answers when I see that number and “Mom and Dad” come up on my phone more than once.

So I snapped at her a bit. “Mom, you can’t keep calling and hanging up when I don’t answer.  Leave me a message and I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”  It’s awkward taking calls in a very quiet meeting where my boss is presenting important information that I cannot afford to miss.

She snapped back “I won’t call you at work any more then.”  All or Nothing.

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Me and My Crow

Me and the Girl from the Hill at Davisville Library today

Me and the Girl from the Hill at Davisville Library today

What a cool day.  At our very first, and hopefully far from last, book reading and signing for A Girl From the Hill today, I was again reminded how much I love my friends and family.

Believe me, there is no feeling better than being surrounded by people who love and support you, and who truly enjoy watching and listening as you live a tiny piece of your dream.

I started A Girl From the Hill nearly three years ago.  My mother and I both put in a lot of work, me listening, writing, re-writing and thinking long and hard about some tough subjects; my mother telling me things to be shared publicly that haven’t even been shared with everyone in her family.  Pain, suffering, loss.  Things that change a person forever.  She revisited these places with me, along with going back to lots of good places.  We certainly had laughs going back to Marshall Street together.

I had nightmares about today all week.  One dream with 174 people packed into the tiny Davisville Free Library where I spoke.  One with people yelling out questions which I couldn’t answer.  Once with all of my family screaming at me.  Boy am I uptight.

The good news is that a beautiful little library opened its doors to me, my family and friends for an hour or so of reading, laughing and sharing.  And Dahlia enjoyed it so much, more than I imagined.  I felt such the pride watching her and listening to her, answering questions, laughing, feeling the adoration of the group and giving it right back.

And even though I spent the day fretting and fussing and driving my poor sister Maree nuts, getting to the point where the poor woman couldn’t even watch the traffic for me as I backed out of my mother’s driveway, once I got settled in everything changed.  In the moment, exactly where I was meant to be at exactly the right time.  Satisfaction and contentment from bringing our work full circle. 

I don’t know how I’ll do at our next gig, with perhaps more strangers and less familiar faces.  But today, my peeps gave me the strength, courage and determination to do this again.  Me and the Crow are ready for it.