Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life Changes

I've been alive for 42 rocky, up and down, years. Life hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't exactly say it's been hard. I've had a decent life. Looking back I realize that I spent some years taking my time. I was as proactive as I should have been and had a way of waiting until the last minute to make things happen. That always made things more difficult than they should have been.

There have been a few experiences that have changed my life. One of my favorite memories is going to Yankee games with my father. He started taking me when I was pretty young. I love the Yankees and I know it is because of the times I shared with my dad. We had so much fun. There were a few Knick games here and there, but the Yankees were OUR team.

My love of sports continued to grow. It got to a point where I knew more about baseball, basketball, and boxing than the guys my age. Some liked it and others didn't. I didn't care. My favorite guy to discuss the sports world with was my daddy anyway. I really didn't care what they thought. My father and I had some great conversations and debates about sports. The foundation for them all was started at Yankee Stadium when I was a little girl.

My father and I always had great talks. There was a time when he was the only person in the world I trusted with everything. He never judged me and always listened. If he would have been more present in my life I think things would have been different. I would have been more open with my feelings. My father had a drinking problem. He would have years of sobriety and things would be great. Whenever he disappeared I knew he was drinking again. He never liked to be around me when he surrendered to the monkey on his back.

The absence of my father definitely changed my life. It's always been hard for me to let my guard down. I'm sure it's because I have a fear of disappointment. I guess i'm still that little girl sitting in the living room waiting for her daddy to arrive. My heart was always filled with love for my father, no matter how many times he broke his promises. I'm still that way with the people I love.

Becoming a mother at 16 changed my life immensely. I appreciated the responsibility of nurturing my daughter in the womb and being responsible for her life and took it very seriously. There were a lot of complications that had nothing to do with the pregnancy. Family doesn't always see the bright side when a young girl becomes pregnant. Because of that, I leaned on my boyfriend more than anyone else. We felt that it was us against the world. We didn't even trust those who seemed to be in our corner.

In a lot of ways that has not changed. We've been married for 21 years and still have the same mentality. We go through ups, downs, highs and lows but always stand firm. We had to hold tight to one another when I got pregnant and I guess we never let go. There will always be struggles and hard times but we learned at an early age how to work through them.

I've always tried to be there for the people I love. I may not have worn my heart on my sleeve but i'm sure they knew how I felt. I didn't really think much of speaking the words; it was always about actions. My father's death changed that. I was not able to be with him or tell him good bye. I simply received a phone call telling me he passed. Finding out about his death that way was definitely life changing. What I would not give to have been able to tell him how special he was to me and how much I loved him.

The day I found out my father was gone, something in me changed. Since then I have made it a point to tell the people I love how I feel about them. Whenever I have a telephone conversation with someone I care about, I make sure to end it by saying, "I love you." Life is just too short. You never know what may happen. My father taught me a lot both in life and death. No one I love will leave this earth without knowing how I feel about them.

Life goes on and things continue to change. I have had some wonderful and hard times that I carry with me. I've learned the most from the hard times. You cannot have a testimony without a test. There was a time when I was not able to pick myself up from difficult situations. I thought I didn't have the strength. I am 42 years old and i'm just really starting to realize that i'm strong enough to get through. Looking back I actually see that I had strength when I thought I did not.

Rough times prepare you for better times. I have two grown children. They're both wonderful people. I did the best I could as a parent and made a lot of mistakes. Despite my errors I take delight in knowing that I had a part in the presence of two great people in this world. They are amazing! I look at them and know that there is strength in me. The 16 year old mom I was had no idea what to do. She just found a way. I continue to do that every day of my life.

Now that i'm a grandmother I see what it was all for. The birth of my granddaughter is the latest in a series of life changing moments. She has changed my heart and warmed my soul. I held her and cried the other day because I realized how blessed I truly am. I also thought how happy her great grandfather would have been to meet her. In the midst of my thankful tears, she smiled and I felt like my daddy was there with me and things were coming full circle.