Saturday, December 31, 2011

What I learned.

New Year's Day is my mother’s 88th birthday and the fourth anniversary of when she came to Florida. Most of you know that health issues turned a short visit into an extended stay and then a permanent move.

In the last four years I found out a lot about mom and about myself:
She does not like to make new friends but is loyal if you are her friend already.
She is actually shy.
She likes her clothes to match.
She folds clothes perfectly (even the underwear)

She loves sweets, ice cream and pastry.
She loves shrimp cocktail and hot sauce.
She will not try any new foods.
She loves pasta and would eat it every day.
She can sit in the sun for hours.
She has zero short-term memory.
She is cold when it is 90 outside.
She has been brainwashed by the “right” side of the Catholic Church. EWTN 24/7
She thinks she is going to die if she doesn’t go poop every day.
She would never say the word “poop” or “fart”.
She thinks everyone is going to hell.

Her stroke disabilities have caused her to reverse things; if she is talking about a white dog, I know it is really black. If she says it is 3:00 o’clock, it is 9:00 o’clock. I realized the problem with numbers when she was trying to write a recipe.

Her stroke also left her with no peripheral vision in both eyes so if she does not turn her head she does not see things. She is VERY stubborn and refuses to turn her head even though it would give her twenty-twenty vision if she did.

Mom is very childlike at this stage in her life. It is hard to believe that she was once the feisty, strong assertive businesswoman. She has so much trouble remembering what her life was like except for what it was like the year before she came. I like to make her happy and have found that she loves to get presents and cards.

I have tons of patience with my own kids and my students but sadly very little with mom. Which is why I think God sent mom here to stay with us. He wants me to learn patience, kindness, tolerance, and acceptance.
Happy Birthday Mom. I Love You.

Monday, December 26, 2011

For Health

Reconnecting with people on face book spurs memories that have been buried in the back of your mind like the comedic stuffed closet where everything falls on your head when the door opens. It is also similar to when your mind floods with flashbacks when an old song is played on the radio.

That happens often these days. My recent memory spark came when my daughter sent me a simple little magnet for an extra Christmas gift. It had a picture of “Lucy” on it drinking Vitameatavegamin. I instantly knew her reference.

When Annie was in the fifth grade she left for school at 8:45. One day, the rerun of the above mentioned episode was on. I had to go to work but told Annie stay and go late to school. She argued she would get in trouble but I would have none of it. She had to stay and watch the classic. I promptly wrote her a note where I truthfully told the real reason she was late; knowing her teacher was a character and would indeed excuse her. He did.

But the most significant treasure in this spark is knowing that a cherished memory had been passed down to my grandchildren and I could hear them giggle and laugh at how silly Grammy is sometime.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Reflection on the Positive Side

Fred had a health scare. Thank you God he survived another close call with his heart.

Mom was in the hospital four times. Thank you God, I survived.

The PT Cruiser died. Thank you God, I’ve got a new Mini-Cooper.

I had a bout with depression. Thank you God it disciplined me to lose weight.

Cancelled our trip to Europe. Thank you God I got to see my grand kids three times.

Class size has increased. Thank you God, my students are well behaved.

Needed more time. Thank you God for on line banking.

My doctor moved out of state. Thank you God I have a new one that has me on track.

My hair looked like crap. Thank you God, the girls forced me to get it cut.

Thank you God for our family, friends and love but most of all thanks for Fred.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almost There

When I first started to blog a few years ago, I was posting about once a week. Last year when I broke my wrist it put a damper on things. I eventually was able to type again and tried to get started but doubt if I even posted a dozen times the whole year.

My bout with depression in 2011 was like a ghost strangling the life out of me. The biggest problems are triggers from my childhood. If my mother spills her drink I quietly clean it up and remember a time she screamed at me that I was clumsy when I spilled something. If mom comes downstairs wearing clothes that clash, I calmly redirect her to change her clothes if we are going somewhere. But the triggers are there like the time I was seven and wore stripes going one way and stripes going the other way and mom slapped me in a store parking lot. The worst part of growing up was lack of control. I had brothers to watch, house to run, work weekends at Coop, and high school. Thank God my cousin came to live with us or I would have had a break down in high school.

These past four years I have been going through the grief stages. Grieving the life Fred & I had before. I have no control once again. I had given up my girl friend time, my sorority meetings, our bible study once a week. Our life is focused on who will sit with mom, take off work to take her to appointments? We were highly involved in our church and had to let that go too. We cancelled our 40th Anniversary trip to Europe twice. It is no wonder I was so depressed. On top of this my weight topped scales at 173.

Finally, the worried look on my doctor’s face and the begging of my children and friends prompted me to go in a different direction. But most of all it was me looking in the mirror and saying who are you? You have always been a fighter. You already climbed out of this hole before, how on earth did you allow yourself to fall back?

Throughout this year it has been my husband, children and face-book family who laughed with me the days I tried to see humor in frustrating situations. They encouraged me, and affirmed me as they helped me climb out of the pits. Some quip, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

It wasn’t until Thanksgiving and laughing over wine with Annie that I realized maybe I was going to be OK. Annie said, “I feel like I’ve got my mom back. You have been gone a long time."

So I am back, not as strong but getting better. I am scheduling monthly girl time events and Fred and I are paying sitters for a date night once a week. Our pastor has asked us to mentor young couples this year and we can do this from home and it suits us perfectly.

Believe it or not there are a couple of people who missed my blogs so this post is for you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

For "Mr. Martin"

I was 19 when I met my husband. “Pledgee Laurie Krupa wishes Mr. Martin a very fine good day Sir” then I had to click my heels three times.
Fred was so handsome. He was student teaching at the time and I remember well he was wearing a three-piece suit. He was very kind and even though I was standing there in a purple beanie a buckskin coat (It was the 60’s) and two different color converse shoes he didn’t laugh at me. He signed my Pledge Book and helped me get his fraternity brothers signatures too.

Today is a day of reflection. It is our 40th wedding anniversary. It is Fred’s birthday too. We are apart because of family priorities so we have put our celebration on hold.

Anyone who knows us can attest we celebrate our marriage everyday. I married Fred because I knew he would keep me safe, he would never hurt me and he would make me his priority. He has never let me down.
He is the one constant in my life. He is my knight in shining armor, my love.

Thank you for these past forty years. I am looking to our future as we continue to celebrate our sacrament each and every day. I love you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Family ?????

Fred and I left my hometown many years ago. Friends became our surrogate family. They were there for the birthday, holidays, Communions, Confirmations, graduations and weddings in our family. Many are closer to us than our own brothers and sisters.

These past four years we have called on them for support and love many times. When we gather together we laugh and share the memories of our lives. Our girls refer to many as aunt and uncle. Annie and Jaime have adopted our idea in their own life as they surround themselves with their own surrogate families in Ohio and NJ.

It occurred to me our chosen family is such a comfort because of our past. I am so sad that my girls do not feel close to my family. They have very few memories with them.

When our kids were growing up we made three yearly trips to see family in NJ and Pa. Christmas, Easter and summer break. We did this to try the best we could to develop relationships with our blood relatives.

Fred’s family would embrace us and the kids were able to really get to know their Martin family at picnics, sledding in winter, or family reunions. Because they knew we were coming, every day was a new event. Each night we would go to a different family member’s house or restaurant to draw together to laugh and build a second generation of memories. Now as adult children the cousins group together and take on the role of memory builders for the younger generation.

In NJ it was more difficult especially in the summer. Even though we came at the same time each year we often felt we were a burden. Several times when the girls were little we went to Jersey shore and never saw one person from Bridgeton. It was the same thing when we tried to gather for two weeks with grandchildren in recent summers. Only my nephew’s wife and my cousin Louise made a point each year to spend a whole day with me. Yet my surrogate family drove down each year from Connecticut to see us. Our facebook reunion with lost cousins was successful too.

A couple years ago we said why are we doing this?? We went to NJ for a class reunion and had to stay in a hotel because no one could take us. Some were not going to be home but did not offer their house. We had to have Jaime drive three hours to take my mom because no one could watch her for a few hours. This is not family.

Face book has been a beautiful gift for me as I can get to fill the void I felt with my father’s family. I blame daddy & my mother because we only saw them at weddings and funerals. When I go back to NJ next time I will call my Pennsgrove facebook family and my Vineland second cousins and I bet someone will take me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Revisited

Today was like a dream... sleeping in until 9:00 o’clock. Staying in my night-shirt for half the day, I felt naughty. I did whatever I wanted. I watched a few movies on demand, HGTV shows. I sat out in the sun without sunscreen. I am sure the neighbors heard my Mario Lanza albums blasting.

Fred’s car died so I am stuck at home and loving it. No one is here. I am alone in my own house for the first time in almost four years.
Life is good. I need to get back to playing in my house now, mom will be out of rehab soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our Town

What a nice surprise today to find that someone in my hometown set up a facebook page called Bridgeton Memory Lane. What a treasure trove of memories flooded the site as people reflected how Bridgeton used to be. About every one hundred memories posted someone would post things like Pepsi Randy, Powderpuff Charlie, Sweet Shop, Giant Subs and more.

Last summer I visited after a few years away. I hardly recognized the worn historical town. It was like watching someone old and wise get dementia. There were bridges out, landmarks gone. It was as if the spirit and dignity were sucked right out of the town’s beautiful soul. Neighborhoods that used to be standouts were dark and dingy with a cultural explosion sitting on worn and stained upholstery couches.

Some of today’s facebook posters blamed the loss of factories, the Cumberland Mall, people like me who left soon after graduation or the influx of different cultural groups.

But today all remembered like the sudden memory bursts of an elderly Alzheimer patient and for a brief moment the soul of our town was shining through the clouds and it was a magnificent thing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trickle Down

This summer I have noticed so many things that I believe speak to the drastic turn in our economy. Budget cuts and job cuts are starting to really surface in our mental health and welfare in ways you might not imagine.

I was eating in a once beautiful hospital cafeteria. The atrium had faded artificial silk flowers that had turned an ugly bluish color. The soothing fountain near the dining tables was no longer flowing. The windows were cloudy and streaked. All probably reflecting someone’s maintenance job that was phased out no doubt.

Even a trip to the local grocery store has changed. The store used to have daily window washers and workers out in lot picking up paper and trash and getting the store ready for the day at 6:00 a m. Now, you see trash everywhere and carts strewn about in the rain rusting so when you use them they are hard to operate and noisy. Their squeak another reminder the quality of our life is being affected in subtle ways. The thing I really miss is the complimentary coffee while you shop.

Even Mother Nature has contributed to our depression. No rain and drought conditions have us under water restrictions. Once manicured lawns look bleak and brown. Waterfalls and fountains outside of developments are only working on weekends. In some areas it reminds me of the old movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Senior citizens are on budgets that require deciding between electric bills and medications. People are using credit cards to buy food, pay mortgages, doctor bills, car repairs and going deeper in debt. It is so sad.

This week I saw a grown man cry at our vet because his dog needed Chemotherapy and he could not afford it. Another man had a cat that was having seizures and needed a script refill. The vet couldn’t do it without the $50 physical. The man left with his head down.

I need to look to these changes and remind myself of the many blessings I still have. I have a hospital, doctors, and stores. I have a job I love, food to eat, medicine. I have family and friends who care and love me.

I have decided to look to the sun. The warmth is a gentle reminder of God’s power. I will imagine each warm ray God’s hand like a Father’s touch and give thanks.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dear Dutchie

Dear Dutchie,

It seems like a short while ago that you lost your battle with cancer. You were the “Auntie Mame” the “Martin Matriarch”. Each time the family gathered you made sure every second was filled with fun and excitement.

Although I am one of the “outlaws” of the family I have been a part of the Martins for forty years. We traveled to Washington for many reunions from Jersey, Ohio and even Florida. Trust me we carried on in Martin tradition.

You would have been so proud of Cap & Kenny’s branch this year as they tried to organize a gathering to rally and make new memories for a new generation. I felt your presence and know you were with us.

Darcy channeled you when she argued with the front desk with their unacceptable service.

I saw Kelly gather up the kids and fly kites on the beach, something you would have done.

Chuck took the kids to the water slides and played with them in the pool for hours. He fed an alligator chicken to the delight of the kids.

Deanna was the official swim teacher, and family photographer. Her smile was contagious.

Darcy and Kelly sang Karaoke as the family whooped and cheered.

Annie, Patti, Joanie, Kelly, Kara were a great audience reminiscing and laughing at the kids antics.

Fred was “Doctor Fred” diagnosing and giving advice in the pool. Dan said that was his new handle. He finally got rid of the nickname “Feet”.

Even the “outlaws” John Mark and Paul spent some bonding time on golf course.

The littlest “cousins” were all BFF’s and eager each day to see each other. The big kids made memories with the little ones. Annie went on the never ending ride with Ellerie, while Brayden and Aiden braved a roller coaster with a cheering crowd and Fred took Abbie on her first big Ferris Wheel.

We went to nice restaurants, tried new foods, and listened to music. We played Martin trivia with the old cards, updated questions, and added a few new ones from new memories. But most of all we promised to try to get together again and make sure those who could not come this time would want to come the next gathering.

We love and miss you Dutchie. Thank you for teaching us the importance of family.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vacations are like looking in a mirror.

Sometimes you learn things you like and sometimes you learn what you don’t.

I felt like I was on the show “Intervention” when my family made me aware:

I don’t know how to properly put on sunscreen.

Who gets a perm in the middle of summer???

My clothes would fit better if I were measured for a bra.

My toes are too gross to color.

I walk way too slow.

My boobs should NEVER be photographed in a bathing suit.

I have trouble making Kraft Mac n Cheese.

Apparently, I have a unibrow.

I still get drunk on one drink.

But these things I do know:

I admire Annie’s sophisticated Shabby Chic, her patience and parenting skills.

Paul ate wings every day.

Abbie is nurturing, sensitive and likes to compete like her mom & dad.

Paul ate wings every day.

I am in awe of Ethan’s math & rummy skills and ability to make you feel special.

Paul ate wings every day.

Ellerie’s impish twinkle makes me melt and she is the textbook youngest child.

Paul ate wings every day.

Martin reunions are still a hoot and everyone likes to party.

Paul ate wings every day.

Fred is my number one fan no matter what.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Simple as ABCs

It will be a real miracle if we stay in relationship after these past two weeks home together.

For years we have had an inside joke that Fred needs to stay out of my drawers. No, not my “pants” but my file drawers.

He just doesn’t get my system. It would just be so much easier if he asked me for something than root through the files on his own. Eventually he will call to me after I say “What are you looking for now?”

The Allstate file, he calls back.

It’s in the file marked “C”.

What??????? He questions like it doesn’t make sense.

“C” I pause, “for car”

Next day, where is the AT & T? Fred sighs.

It is in “U” for utilities.

Today, he wanted the Discover Card file, He yelled, “I already looked in “C” for Credit cards but it is not there. I found it in this file with no tab.”

I retorted, “Is it Orange???” ..... He will just never get my system.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


End of Year.

For teachers June is long awaited for so many reasons:
No more pencils, no more books,
No more people’s goofy looks like
Pants on the ground, painted hair, or
Parents who look like “Hootchie mamas”that swear.
Colleagues who let their students rome around and
A box overflowing with the lost and found.
Zero Tolerance, Bullying what is that?
Baby showers, parties that make us so fat.
Just chalk up another year at LCMS.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


This is my birthday week. Fred took me to see the Broadway play Wicked. We had front row seats. It was a wonderful evening. I felt normal. I felt like Laurie. I felt Wicked in a good way.

It has been months since I have been able to think clearly let alone blog. Health issues hanging over my head has resulted in a bout of depression and pity party. My children both came to Florida and I was able to have a fleeting visit with them in hopes I could snap out of it. Instead of smiles and grandbabies kisses giving me joy I found myself sinking deeper. Depression sucks.

Finally about a month ago, my doctor insisted I start medication. I hate any medicine as I blame most of my problems on the side effects of taking so many. Three years ago I only took a vitamin. Now I take more than a dozen pills a day. But I said yes in a desperate attempt to get my life back.

When my mother came for a visit and had her stroke I became paranoid it could happen to me. I regret today I said yes to aggressive medication for my over 500
Cholesterol. This medication depleted me of vitamins and caused stomach problems, then more meds. All of which had a domino effect. The calcium depletion contributed to my wrist injury.

My injury seems to have triggered an auto-immune disease which I must learn to live with. My husband wants his wife back, my children want their mom back and I feel like I am climbing Mt. Everest every day I get out of bed.

But I have so many who love me. Their genuine daily concern for me is better than the little blue pill I take. Friends force me to go out to dinner with them or make time for myself. My girls call daily. My husband is steadfast and continues to put me first.

Sixty offers me hope.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'll Never Grow Up

Once a year the classic Peter Peter was on television. In the same way that every generation claims I Love Lucy we thought this play was our show. There was just something about the enchantment of Never Never Land, Peter, The Lost Boys and Wendy. Even the dastardly Captain Hook had charm.

Peter was the hero or should I say “my” hero. Wendy was a tramp, I didn’t like her one bit. Jealousy can be a green-eyed monster. She did have a gentle warm way with the Lost Boys though and I could relate to her mother instinct. After all, I was the surrogate mom to my own two little brothers.

No matter how many times you saw it before, watching the play, singing the songs, and waiting for the climatic ending was still a euphoric and amazing experience. However, the memorable part came when the credits were rolling. We seemed to all jump up simultaneously and get up on the chairs and furniture leaping from piece to piece as if we were “flying”. We acted out the kidnappings, the sword fights, walking the plank, Tinkerbelle” s illness and the Crocks last mistake.

It went off the air for many years and one day I saw where they were rebroadcasting the original version. It was the “80’s”. Wow, I couldn’t wait to experience it with my own kids. I talked about it for weeks before it was to air. But alas, it was a huge flop with Annie & Jaime. They couldn’t understand what the heck all the fuss was about. I had forgotten they were from the fast forward, violent video game, instant replay generation. I still remember the sting when they more or less said it was really lame. As they walked down the hall to their rooms, I jumped up on the couch and flew from chair to chair as I sang “I’ll Never Grow Up."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Deck the Halls or not ???

This year my hand injury limited any Christmas shopping. The doctor revoked my driving privilege and most of my free time was spent in physical therapy. I did manage to write a few checks and do the rest of my shopping on line but I missed the shopping frenzy.

So finally, I decided to venture out not to shop but just to look at the malls. There was a wanting to see the holiday decorations, trains for the kiddies, and large trees adorned colored lights with red bows and colorful bulbs but alas.... what a disappointment.

Both malls visited were winter wonderlands. There were huge white snowflakes, ice sicles, snowmen and silver bulbs everywhere but no red and green anywhere. Large colored gumdrops replaced giant red and white candy canes. Santa’s elaborate chair was there in a spherical shape clear bulb... no elves, no wreaths, and no tree just the photographer making big bucks.

It is bad enough that people have taken Christ out of Christmas but the worry about political correctness is just spoiling the whole season. Even the canned music was selective. You can be sure you didn’t hear “Away in a Manger”.

It is not like this in the north. In the past, when visiting my girls in Ohio and also NJ you see the spirit of Christmas in their shopping plazas and down town. Christmas carols are blasting from store to store. The main streets have lights aglow, wreaths and garland strung from pole to pole.

There must be plenty of people here in Florida who noticed the absence of red and green because the people who decorate their homes go crazy. It is almost like a subconscious “take this” in the developments. Nine out of ten homes look like the “Griswold’s” and they make up for the sterile malls. Because the weather cooperates the neighborhoods go all out with lights. I almost feel sorry for the one house with blue lights and a little menorah in the window.

The weather in Florida at Christmas is usually like a crisp fall day in north. It is probably closer to the real first biblical Christmas. You never miss the bitter freezing cold or snow. It is a time to enjoy a fire on my porch and sleep with the windows open. When our girls were little we often spent Christmas Day on the beach and Santa would come by in Bermuda shorts and give out candy canes. So these memories sustain me and I am not ready to put the “for sale” sign out and move.... yet the thought did cross my mind.