Everyone knows my favorite number is 13. I was born on Friday the 13th at 13:13 military time. My Grandmother with whom I was extremely close was born in 1913. My house number growing up was 9313. My husband and I purchased our first home and the number was 8131. So when 2013 rolled around I was pretty excited. I had the feeling that this was going to be THE YEAR. A year full of travel and new experiences. A year where I could finally take time, relish in visits with faraway friends, and not worry about getting back home so the kids don’t miss school. I was also graduating from a program I have been involved with for the past 4 years and was looking for some new direction for the wind to take me. Little did I know I needed to put my seatbelt on and take a Dramamine……………..
January 14, 2013….a normal day like any other. I attended my evening class where we had a guided meditation. I prayed for God to light my path this year. Show me where I am going and where I am called to be. I came away from my class that evening invigorated on the promise of a new beginning and a new direction for my life. As I turned down my street, I noticed that my daughters’ car was parked in front of my house. That is not unusual, but the car was parked facing the wrong direction and it was 9pm in the evening. A little too late for her to be there just hanging out with her father. I came in through the garage, hung up my coat, was accosted by the dogs and finally made my way into the family room where my 25 year old daughter and her boyfriend of 9 years were sitting on my sofa with my husband blinking and smiling like a freak. Well, my meditation really worked that night. My vision was blinded. God had sent up flares, spotlights, fireworks, high beams, and any other light source swirling around the room and my path was lit. My sweet beautiful daughter Emma was pregnant. Yay. I think that is what I said. Yay. I’m not really sure of the rest of the evening and what was said or done. It was all pretty much a blur. The next morning, my husband and I looked at each other and said at the same time “oh shit”. Partially because Emma was pregnant and that is disturbing on a few levels, and that we were going to be GRANDPARENTS. How did time go by so fast that we were at that age? Granted a little early, but as my daughter points out on a regular basis, “It’s not my fault you had me when you were 21”
Emma was at the house when I came home the next day. Mommie, I need your help she said and started to cry. Poor thing, she was overwhelmed, and truthfully, so was I. But I had gone into MOMZILLA mode earlier in the day and had already met with our parish priest and talked to a reception venue to get open dates. The look in her tear filled big green eyes absolutely sealed my fate for the year. My year was to be about family and my daughter needed me in so many ways, I needed to be all for her at that moment and beyond. Within 4 days, I had her wedding date, reception venue and wedding dress secured.
I was all consumed with this wedding for the next three months. I bought a binder, a wedding organizer type thing, I carried it everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. I even brought it to bed with me. As the weeks progressed, the binder became fatter and fatter with reception menus, limos, florists, dj info, addresses, phone numbers, invitation information……….literally every moment of every day(sorry my work friends and bosses)was spent planning the perfect wedding I was determined to have for my little girl. Eventually I did become a MOMZILLA. Although with no hissy fits and minimal crying. Well maybe one hissy fit when I had to tell the florist for the 5th time NO HYDRANGA in the flowers at church!
Then I got a phone call. It was a Sunday morning early, mid March, a few weeks away from THE DAY. It’s my Mom. Did I already remind you to fasten your seatbelt? She had just gotten home after spending the night in the emergency room with my Father. He had not one, but two strokes the evening before. He always was an over achiever. Fortunately they were small and only affected his vision slightly and the strength in one arm. Dad also needed to have surgery on his carotid artery to de-clog it since that is where they think the cause of his strokes came from. While testing in prep for surgery, the doctors noticed a spot on his lung. Really!?!? But they can’t attend to that until he gets the vein in his neck fixed. Dad had his surgery, but had low blood pressure and couldn’t leave the recovery room. Of course, nothing is easy in this family. We only got to see him for a few minutes at a time. I walked into the recovery room and my Father is lying in the bed, bloody neck, bloody ear (you think they would have cleaned him up), bruised where the clamps were, and pale as pale can be. I start crying, and he told me in a loud raspy voice to call Trantolo and Trantolo (a local attorney office) as he feels he has had his neck ripped out by a pit bull. The look on that nurse’s face made my tears turn into laughter. My Dad was going to be ok.
The responses for the wedding come rolling in and I finally make up my mind on the dress I would wear. Emma has had her fittings, tuxedos ordered; flowers and venue are all set. We are ready for a wedding. The day before the big day, I welcomed friends and family from far. The rehearsal went off without a hitch and we hosted the dinner after. When I opened my eyes, Friday April 5, I thought, this is it. I have done it all and hopefully, HOPEFULLY, Emma will have the wedding of her dreams. My friend Laurie came over to do our hair and my neighbor did our makeup. One thing I did forget was to have food and beverages for the wedding party and my friends. I don’t know how I missed that detail. Regardless, we made do with leftover barbeque from the night before. The florist came by with the flowers, which were spectacular. The boys started filtering home; they had all been out while we were getting ready. All of a sudden, the limo was out front. WHAT! We weren’t even dressed, yikes! EMMA!!!!! It took her bridesmaid and me 10 minutes to get her into her beautiful gown. And due to her increasing size, took me 10 more minutes of sweating and cursing to get it hooked and laced up the back! I had to get to the church to hand out all the boutonnieres and make sure the groom was there, etc…………The wedding was short and sweet and the reception amazing. Music was perfect, food was good, and being surrounded by our family and friends was the best. It was “Lizzie Perfect” according to my sister-in-law. When all my friends and boys left on Sunday morning, I curled up on the sofa and cried for the rest of the day. The stress was over. My job was done.
Two weeks after the wedding, my husband, aunt, uncle, and I met friends of the family in St Martin for 14 days. It was just what I needed. We woke up in the morning, walked the beach and then sat in the sun and did nothing. Didn’t talk, didn’t read a book, it was heaven. The only big thing we did was go on a catamaran ride and I had mahi mahi for the first time. My husband called it big girl food. Thanks. We hit a bit of a snag on the way home, delayed flight, mini sleepover in North Carolina, back to CT a day late. However, I came back with a refreshed mind and body looking forward to becoming a Nana.
Then it happened. I opened up my Facebook one morning to see a frantic message from my oldest and dearest friend’s husband. Call me, it said, Trisha is dead. I sat and read it a few times, thinking this must be a cruel joke, someone has hacked into his account. I tried calling Trisha’s cell, please pick up, please, please please! But she didn’t. I called Mike. It was true. The only person who knew me better than I knew myself was gone. Trish and I met in eighth grade and didn’t become fast friends until our junior year of high school. I always joked I got her into college by putting her down as my roommate before she sent her application in! We lived at school together first in the dorm, than an apartment. We had so many adventures in North Carolina, too many to tell and not to tell! She was always there for me and me for her. My whole world fell out from under me that morning.
It was hard telling the kids. How do you tell them their auntie, their “fun mom” as my daughter called her, has died? Calls were made, hotel rooms reserved, and I cried the whole 7 hour drive to Washington, DC. The funeral was so hard. Seeing her 8 and 9 year old beautiful girls so lost and sad, and her 20 year old son being so strong for them just ripped my heart out. Sitting waiting for the funeral to begin, I looked up and saw my very first friend I had at Lake Braddock, Kathy. We both made eye contact and the tears wouldn’t stop. Kathy had introduced Trish and me all those years ago. Kathy and I lost touch after I had Emma. I hate to say that Trisha’s death has brought us back together but it has. I am truly grateful for that.
On the drive back to Connecticut, my head hurt something awful. It actually hurt to move my eyes and it felt like my brain was throbbing. Of course, my husband had to work on a report so I got to drive the Jersey Turnpike. By the time we made it home I was toast. The next morning my throat was sore and I had a dry cough. I felt worse and worse as the week went on. Went to the doctor on Saturday and he gave me antibiotic and cough syrup with codeine to help me sleep. Well, can I say that this was the beginning of 9 weeks of cough HELL??!! I got through the antibiotic and felt fine, I just couldn’t stop coughing. And it turned into an ugly cough too. It sounded like I was going to cough up a lung or possibly both. I coughed at work, sorry coworkers, and coughed all night. The cough syrup with codeine just didn’t work. Had numerous trips to the doctor, chest x-ray, all sorts of pills and elixirs. Nothing worked. By the middle of July, I was still going strong. Then one day, it was gone. The strangest thing ever.
August was uneventful. We had a week at the cape with family, my birthday dinner that included a personal serenade and a flamenco dance by a woman who probably should have hung up her castanets years ago. I was at work one day and just happen to glance at the calendar. OMG my husband is turning 50 in 5 days and I have NOTHING planned! Earlier in the year before all things hit the fan, I was planning on having a HUGE catered party for him, get his brother up from Tennessee to surprise him, and have the old gang from Parkdale Court here as well. OOPS. Well that isn’t happening. I quickly sent out e-vites, which I hate to do, but I had no time for snail mail. Fortunately, Connor had the foresight to buy a ticket and fly home that weekend to surprise his Dad and Gallegos’ friend Bob Hauser, or Hauser as we call him, had bought a ticket as well. Phew, two people at his party! I somehow got a group together and had a great birthday weekend for him. Crisis averted.
However, his birthday was quickly overshadowed by the arrival of Odin David Bergsbaken on September 3, 2013. My sweet reason my path was lit was finally here. Emma had gone into labor on Labor Day, how appropriate! We spent the day together walking and timing contractions. Sent her off to the hospital early evening and they sent her home. At 3:30 the next morning I got a frantic call—mommie it hurts—well yeah! Go! Go back to the hospital! 11 hours later I got a text from her husband with just a photo of Odin and he looked MAD! a half hour later I was at the hospital holding that sweet little bundle. And let me tell you, Emma having a baby was ok, I was cool with that. It was the title “Grandmother” that really bothered me. But holding him that very first time I could care less what I would be called. The world that had fallen out from underneath me was coming back.
The rest of the year has been spent with my grandson every chance I get. I made his Halloween costume, the first time I have sewn in 15 years. Came out pretty good if I do say so myself. We had a quiet Thanksgiving with him and an overindulgent Christmas. Odin had more gifts than anyone else did of course. Towards the end of December, our 13 year old golden retriever Jersey wasn’t doing too well. She couldn’t stand without assistance, had trouble eating and generally looked like she was done. The kids and I decided to take her in on New Year’s Eve. Well, the three kids would take her. I just couldn’t do it. She went peacefully and we all had a quiet night reflecting on the end of the year and the end of my kid’s childhood.
Woke up on New Year’s Day to it raining in our living room due to a leaky radiator. Love living in an old house, don’t like the repairs!. Guess 2014 has gotten off to a 2013 start….thankfully I have my grandson. Having him around, having him smile at me, having his little hand hold my finger, I know I can get through anything that life is going to throw at me this year. Bring it on!