Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Question for You

A thought-provoking question was asked in Table Topics at my Toastmasters club on Thursday. Table Topics is practice in impromptu speaking, a great skill to have at business meetings and in situations when you want to make a good impression. For example, as a writer, I’d like to feel comfortable and come off as intelligent if I were to meet an agent or publisher.

The question asked was: “When life threw you a curve ball, what decisions did you make that you now regret?”

If I had been called upon to answer, this is what I would have said:

One of the biggest curve balls in my life was having a son with epilepsy and special needs. That change has not come easily for me. I grieved the loss of my dreams for my son. And I’ve also felt sorry for myself many times since Kurt developed epilepsy 17 years ago. Sorry that my life didn’t turn out as expected.

When Kurt was having so many seizures back when they started at three-years-old, there wasn’t much time for girls’ weekends. Leaving Kurt plus his brothers and Paul would have induced waves of guilt. So I lost touch with friends.

High school reunions came and went without Paul and I. Sharing our hardships with others didn’t feel right, so I let the connections wither. I like to share good news, not bad, and there was a lot of bad for the first seven years after Kurt’s diagnosis.

One day earlier in the year, an invitation to our 30th high school reunion arrived. I tossed the event back and forth in my mind, discussed it with Paul, and we decided to send our RSVP.

A couple of weeks before the dinner, I got a call from Debbie, a dear friend. She invited me to her cabin and was also inviting another dear friend, Kori, who I had not seen for years. Again, I had to weigh the guilt, who would take care of Kurt while I was gone? We had made arrangements for the weekend, but now I had an extra 24 hours to throw in. We don’t leave Kurt at home alone for safety reasons. He also needs medicine three times a day, which someone has to get ready and make sure he takes. I would be leaving this chore to Kurt’s 17-year-old brother. Talk about guilt!

However, I said “Yes!”

I spent a precious 24 hours with my two friends. We talked, laughed, cried, and shared our stories. I found out that every one has been thrown curve balls. I am not alone.

A week later, I am still feeling that warm glow of friendship. I didn’t know how much I needed the connection with friends who really know me until it came back into my life.

So the decision I regret is that I didn’t stay in touch with dear friends.

What decisions have you made that you now regret?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No Frustration at the Pig Roast

A couple of Saturdays ago, Kurt, his dad, grandma and I went to the annual pig roast fundraiser at Community Homestead, ( a non-profit rural community living and working with people with special needs. We’ve been hitting this event for six years, since Kurt was 14.

Our first taste of the farm was back then, as Kurt and I spent one afternoon a week volunteering in the work groups. I learned how to make drip candles and Kurt helped in the chicken barn or with making stained glass art.

Attending the pig roast in previous years was taxing. We’d coax Kurt out of the van, promising the petting zoo. We’d walk around and seek out some of the people we knew, but Kurt would hide his face. At the buffet line, (pork, homemade sauerkraut, new potatoes, a lettuce salad picked fresh from their garden, other sides, and a table of home baked desserts) Kurt would hold his plate just enough not to drop it and complain about anything we put on his plate. Once back at the van after we ate, Kurt wouldn’t get in. Yikes! It was a frustrating, tiring day (and we were only there for a couple of hours).

Oh, the change this year!

The pig roast was on his mind all week. “Can I bring the movie camera?” Kurt said. Then he’d go on about his friend Hillary or something Mark said.

On that afternoon, instead of being the shy, unsocial teen, Kurt said “Hi” to all his friends and even introduced us to people he didn’t know! We watched him eat a full plate of food. Then he gave us a tour through the flower and vegetable gardens, and the orchards.

Not only was it great for us to see Kurt maturing, the event raised $3000. The money will be used to install the kitchen in the new community center.

Kurt at 19