A 45 Year Marriage

Since it is Mother’s Day on my side of the World the plan was to blog about my mother and all the lessons she has taught me, but then something felt uneasy and weird about the day. My heart felt heavy and I attributed that to all the rain we are having today in New York City but then I went into my Google calendar to add an event and I realized that today is May 12th…May 12th!!!! My father died on May 12, 2015!

So that’s what it is! The heaviness in my heart was from that undeniable feeling of loss, I sometimes don’t even recognize. It’s weird, isn’t it? I know the anniversary of Daddy’s death was coming up and I had planned to honor him by writing about him in one of my blog posts on the actual anniversary of his death but I didn’t realize that this year the anniversary of his passing would coincide with Mother’s Day.

It doesn’t seem fair to write about my Mom on the anniversary of the day I lost the most formidable man I have ever known and it doesn’t seem fair to dedicate my blog post to my Dad on Mother’s Day. I could just cop out and not write at all since I am not feeling my best and let the sadness take over my day but I am way overdue a blog post so I have decided to write about them, both of them, and their marriage, instead.

I was one of the lucky ones, it wasn’t until I was in elementary school that I realized that not every household had a mother and a father. I had taken it for granted that all my peers were being raised by the people who made them but that wasn’t always the case. This fact made me appreciate my parents’ union more and more and when I became a full-blown adult going through my divorce I realized what it must have taken to stay married for the 45 years my parents were. They were lucky enough to be able to live their vows and did not part ways until the day my father transitioned into another World.

He had kissed her that morning, she said. He had kissed her on the morning of May 12, 2015, for the very last time. It was almost as if he knew he was leaving her forever on that day. My father had been really sick for the past few months and had become bed-ridden since February of that year when the Cancer had ravished his body so brutally his legs could no longer carry him and he was confined to a wheelchair.

My mother took care of my father like she always had during their 45-year union during those last few months of Daddy’s life, except, taking care of him in those last months was very different and more demanding than all the years put together because now she had to bathe him and sometimes even feed him and care for him in a way she had never done before. As she fed him breakfast that morning he motioned for her to come closer to him. When she did, he kissed her, he planted his lips squarely on hers, something he hadn’t done in weeks, maybe even months.

In retrospect, I am almost certain that that was his way of saying goodbye without alarming her. A way of saying good-bye, without letting her know that those were his final hours. My father was that kind of man. He was that old-fashioned kind of guy that would bear the brunt of pain, suffering, and difficulties by himself without unloading on anyone, especially his wife. In his eyes, his number one responsibility in life was to take care of his wife and his family despite whatever he was going through no matter how difficult the circumstances, without complaint; and take care of us, he did

Growing up we were never in want for anything, anything at all. My father was an excellent provider. The irony is that when they first got married my mother made more money than my father. She has often told me the story of how she had to apply for the loan on their first house because she had a nice, stable job as a civil servant with the Jamaican government and my father was merely a soldier in the Jamaican army. He was not making much money back then and would never be able to get a loan, but my Mom stepped up to the plate and did what she had to do to secure their mortgage.

That may have been the only time in their marriage that my mother had to step up financially because my father, who was a visionary, left the army a couple of years into their marriage, and with his keen sense of business and leadership qualities built a company from the ground up which had over a 100 employees on the day he died. He was a shrewd businessman, who knew how to take risks and turn over a dollar. He was driven, disciplined and determined and I admired that about him so much.

Isn’t that what marriage is about though? The willingness to step up and help your partner for the betterment of the union as a whole. My parents’ marriage wasn’t easy; I witnessed first hand a lot of compromises and sacrifices. It wasn’t easy but it worked and somewhere along the way they learned the art of compromise and didn’t view letting go and letting the other person “win” as one individual getting their way over the other.

One of the many things I admired about them was their ability to listen to each other – not just hear the other person but to listen. No doubt, my father was the head of the household but he listened to his wife. No important decision was made without her, even though he was the head. He was in charge but not above “taking counsel” from his wife. They complemented each other because they never competed with each other, they each had their individual role to play, which they did very well and happily too.

On May 12, 2015, a few hours after my father kissed my mother for the last time he took his last breath. It was his goodbye. He let himself go after she had left their bedroom. In those last days, she was with him all the time but not even an hour after she left the room at approximately 1:05 pm he let himself go. He took his last breath, knowing she wasn’t there, because in his own way he might have thought it best not to alarm her or not to let go in front of her and make an already sad situation even sadder.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there, but especially to my Mom, who gave so much to her children and her husband. And to Daddy, the reality of your death has a way of striking at the most inopportune times, I still think it’s crazy how your larger than life persona was reduced to just a shadow of who you really are in the end. I will always remember you though as the strong, fierce, force to be reckoned with that you actually were. A man who loved his family, his wife and his children, more than anything else. A pillar in his community, a tower of sheer strength and determination. A real family man.

Like what you’ve read? Please let me know by hitting the like button and leaving your thoughts in the comment section. Don’t forget to follow/subscribe if you enjoyed this piece. Thank you! πŸ’•

You’re Getting Fat!

“Babe, your thighs are looking a little chunky there in my boxers.”

I was startled out of my daydreaming. That was the sound of my husband’s voice but clearly, I wasn’t hearing the words spoken accurately. Did my husband just tell me I am getting fat?

I have a habit of wearing his boxers around the house and as I waddled up the stairs to our bedroom those were the words I heard coming out of his mouth. He was behind me.

“Did you just call me fat?” I said challengingly.

“Your thighs didn’t use to look like that in my boxers.”

“Like what?” I said threateningly, as I spun around to look directly at him.

“So big.” He said matter of factly. “Did you gain some weight?”

I was horrified! My husband did just call me fat.

I tried to answer but I stumbled over my words because this was a completely new one in our marriage. My sweet, dear husband, who, on my worst days always has something nice to say to me about my weight was now telling me I was fat. How many times have I squeezed into a dress that was obviously too tight and asked him if I looked fat and he always told me I looked “great”. I could feel and even look like a bloated pig and my darling husband always tells me I look great, he has always maintained that I am not fat yet here he was staring defiantly at my thunder thighs while asking if I had gained weight.

I was so hurt. I felt the tears forming in the corner of my eyes. Don’t blink, Racquel, don’t blink. I felt defeated. I was so hurt I couldn’t even get mad. Truth be told I had packed on the pounds, quite a bit of it too.
I sighed and tried hard not to let my husband see how much his innocent words had affected me, “Yeah, I think I gained a little.”
“How much?” He asked. Oh my Gawd, why won’t he stop talking???!!!
“I’m not sure.” I lied.
Of course, I knew how much weight I had gained. I weigh myself at least twice a week. I have been doing so for years. I had noticed the numbers steadily climbing for quite some time now but I was in denial. At first, I fooled myself into thinking it was muscle gain, after all, I lifted weights regularly in the gym; then my clothes started getting super snug and I explained that away since clothes generally shrink after a while when you wash and or dry clean them so, of course, that’s the reason my clothes were now tight. I was in major denial.😟
A few days later, hubby and I were getting dressed to attend our annual Christmas Ball and the zipper on my gown would not go all the way up.
WTF??!!!
Luckily, my Mom was visiting for the Holidays and was able to do some kind of trick with the zipper allowing me to still wear the gown but boy was I uncomfortable all night. I looked gorgeous in the dress, take a look at The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly but I didn’t feel gorgeous at all. When you stop feeling gorgeous that’s when you know it’s time for a change.

Weight Watchers

As clichΓ© as it sounds, I decided that I would embark on a new, healthier me for the New Year. I had some success on Weight Watchers back in 2010 so a few days after the Christmas Ball, while examing the increase in cellulite on my thighs, as my husband’s words replayed on repeat in my head, I joined WW again.

I had heard about the Keto diet, which seems to be all the rage these days so I did some research on it but I wasn’t interested in trying anything which forced me to eliminate entire food groups. I needed something sustainable, a program that I could possibly keep doing for the rest of my life, as such I joined WW on December 31, 2018, and I am happy to report that it’s been 3.5 months and I am still sticking to the program.

My favorite thing about WW is that you can eat pretty much anything, no foods are forbidden, as long as you don’t go over your allotted caloric intake, or as Weight Watchers calls it your “points”. Mind you, those points go extremely fast.

When I first joined WW my daily allotted points would be all gone by lunchtime. I would freak out because it would literally be midday and I would have consumed all my daily calories. This frequent occurrence forced me to turn to the zero points food in order to sustain me throughout the rest of the day.

WW has named quite a number of foods such as grilled chicken breast, vegetables, and fruits zero points food. You’re permitted to eat as much of these foods as you want and not use any of your daily points. These zero points foods have saved me many times but it had gotten to the point where if I ate one more grilled chicken salad (without dressing) for dinner I was going to keel over and die. 😁

I hate boring food, and I especially detest vegetables. I am not much of a broccoli, eggplant, kale kind of person. I am a carnivore – a kind of meat and potatoes kind of gal so this is where I had to learn portion control. I had to exercise discipline and cut my eyes past that 10-ounce ribeye and instead whet my appetite with a more reasonable portion. Man, that was/is hard.

Portion control is the most difficult part of the program for me. I still struggle with eating just a cup of chips instead of ripping open a bag of Lays Wavy while reading and just popping a few pieces in my mouth every few minutes until the entire bag is gone.

I have developed some healthy habits on the program though, like juicing. Since I don’t like eating my vegetables (I swear I sound like a 4-year-old πŸ˜ƒ) I had to learn to juice them and mix them with fruits in order to make it more palatable. The Nutri Bullet which I have had sitting in my kitchen cabinet for years has proven to be a godsend.

Exercise

Another great thing about Weight Watchers is that you get to eat your activity points. The more you exercise the more you get to eat. Each and every activity you can think of, even something as simple as walking the dog, is outlined in the WW app and has points value attached to it. Therefore, the longer I stay on the elliptical, the more points I get back so that I can devour that 10-ounce ribeye. πŸ˜‰

I challenge myself daily to see how much activity points I can attain just so I can eat them later that day. If I want to have that martini or glass of wine then I have to stay on that treadmill or in the weight room or do an extra challenging class so I can earn that reward, this forces me to workout at least 5 days a week. Thankfully, I actually like working out and enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) going to the gym.

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It’s been 3.5 months and as of this morning, I’m officially down 21.2 pounds. The first 10 pounds seem to come off steadily, then I struggled to get down to a 15-pound loss, and I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was to reach 20. It seemed as if each and every time I got down to a 20 lb loss, that I’d wake up the next morning and gain back a pound or two sometimes even three. It’s a nightmare! I’m still not even comfortable announcing the 20+ lbs weight loss because it has been a struggle to maintain and sometimes it feels as if I have plateaued.

Plateaued or not, I am not about to give up because the non-scale victories blow my mind, like the fact that I can now fit in clothes I haven’t worn in years, that my jeans no longer pinch my inner thighs, that I can actually see a reduction in my cellulite (even though they aren’t all gone), that I have lost inches off of my waist (my girlfriend told me recently that my waist looked “snatched”), that I feel stronger, that my skin is glowing, that I can now see my collar-bone and my husband, the one who started all of this, has remarked that I shouldn’t “lose too much weight” because he doesn’t “like skinny girls”. πŸ˜‰

My Boy!

It’s that time of the year when we string the lights, decorate the tree, bake cookies, drink too much eggnog and overeat; but before we do all of that I’d like to first acknowledge the human who gave my life added purpose. My life always had meaning but I got a swift kick in the behind to make sure I do it right 15 years ago today when my obstetrician handed me a 10 lb bundle and said, “Here he is. What’d you think?”

Honestly, my first thought wasn’t, “Oh my gosh, he’s so precious. I’m in love.” Instead, my very first thought was, “Who’s baby is this? This kid doesn’t look like me. Why is he so light?”

I quickly got over the lack of resemblance when I took a closer look at the nose. Yep, he was mine alright, that nose is unmistakable. Blake didn’t scream or cry when he first got here, instead, he just stared, he actually seemed to look around the room, observing his new surroundings. Fifteen years later and by golly he still does the same thing, I’m always in awe when I watch him carefully observe his surroundings instead of just walking right in.

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My next thoughts as I held him was “What do I do now? What I am I supposed to do with him now?” Blake seemed to read my mind as he nuzzled against my chest and started searching, he found his food supply, latched on and went to town, pulling and sucking and feeding hungrily. Damn, that shit hurt!

It’s been 15 years and Blake’s appetite has not changed. He still has a voracious, healthy appetite. The kid will eat anything.

It’s astounding how much Blake’s current persona mirrors my labor experience. I was scheduled to deliver the baby on December 4th, which I thought was kind of cool since it was rapper Jay-Z’s birthday; but Blake had other plans and arrived at 12:06 am the next day. He was not to be rushed and to this day, he still does things on his own terms and refuses to be rushed or cajoled into anything, which can be both good and bad.

My labor was fairly painless, I had a surge of pain for a few minutes, called for the epidural, which I had initially thought I wouldn’t want since I always saw myself as an Amazonian natural labor type of girl but when that indescribable pain ripped through me and I wasn’t dilated enough to push I quickly called for the epidural in order to get some kind of relief. Honestly, the only pain I felt during labor wasn’t more than about 15 minutes but it was the longest 15 minutes of my life.

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Similarly, raising Blake, luckily, has been rather painless. Yeah, there are the usual ups and downs that come with parenting but thankfully he has made it relatively easy for me. The disappointments and WTF moments have been few and far between and for that, I am eternally gratefully.

Does he make me repeat myself too much? Sure! One day I decided to count how many times I had to tell him to clean his room before he actually cleaned it and it turned out to be 8 times, all of 8 times before I had to threaten him with the wrath of God in order to get him moving.

I am in sheer disbelief at how lazy my teenager can be. Like, seriously, how hard can it be to put your clothes in the laundry basket when you take them off instead of tossing them on the floor; and how many times do I have to tell my child to make his bed before he leaves for school in the mornings and for God’s sake why won’t he hang his wet towel back in the bathroom after he has used it instead of throwing it on his unmade bed?

The kid is as loving as he is lazy so even though I bitch at him to clean up after himself I still get all the hugs and kisses and “I love you” that I can handle despite him being at that age where it isn’t considered cool to do so.

It has been a tumultuous, loving, exasperating, sweet, mind-boggling and beautiful 15 years of motherhood. Blake was sent here to get me out of my comfort zone, the one where everything I did I got it right and was so self-assured and confident about all my endeavors. Motherhood has had me second guessing every decision I have ever made. Am I doing it properly? Am I getting it right? Am I too strict or am I too lenient? Should I impose a weekend bedtime or allow him to stay up as late as he wants as long as he gets all his homework done? Should I have the password to his phone? Or should I allow him his privacy?

It’s crazy that after all these years together, I am still not sure if my parenting method is correct. I figured by the time I got to child #2, I would have had it all figured out but it is obvious that child # 2 is not happening. Growing up I always thought I was going to have a few kids of my own, at least 3 or 4, but as faith would have it that was not in the cards. However, every day I thank my lucky stars that since I only got one I am thankful it’s this one. I couldn’t have picked a more ideal kid that compliments my own personality.

Blake is not perfect but he’s perfect for me. Happy Birthday to the biggest reality check I’ve ever experienced. The kid keeps me on my toes in a such a crazy, weird yet fantastic way. Not only do I love him but I like him too.

Here’s to Big Blake! My 6′ 2 15-year-old who makes me oh so proud to be his Mom.

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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It must be awards season since this past week I was nominated for not 1, not 2 but 3 different Blogger Awards. I am so psyched. I think it is an honor to be recognized by your peers; especially as a new Blogger, the recognition means a lot to me and, as such, I intend to respond to each and every one of the nominations. Therefore, I am apologizing in advance for inundating your WordPress Reader feed with my self-indulgent award posts responses.

First up is the Sunshine Blogger Award – I would like to thank the amazing and very spiritually aware https://mynamaste365online.blog (i.e. MoonChild Nova) for this nomination.

Here are the rules for this award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them (see above).
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.
  • Here are the 11 questions I was asked:
  1. What’s your biggest accomplishment of 2018 thus far?

Apart from amicably settling a nightmare case that has been going on since 2016 in the earlier part of this year, my greatest accomplishment would be starting and maintaining this Blog. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time but since I am such a procrastinator coupled with my very demanding career in addition to being crippled by my fears, BLOGGING FEARS, I just couldn’t get it going. The fact that I got this Blog going at all and have been able to stay committed to posting weekly is a very big deal for me and I am actually pretty darn proud of myself for doing it. I even took a Blog Writing course to help me get things going Racquel Writes!

It’s my dream to maintain my Blog, to keep it going and I’m hoping to find topics and stories worthy of my readers’ time to keep them coming back week after week.

2. When you have free time, what is your favorite thing to do?

Free time??!!! What is that?! 😁

If we are talking about my hobbies – I would say I always enjoy sitting in the quiet of my bedroom on my comfy little chair by the window and enjoying a good book. One of my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least one book per month and I was doing very well with it, I even read 2 books in the month of March alone, but that entire commitment kind of went left when I started this Blog and I haven’t completed a book since July; but I vow to get back to it for the month of November and beyond. πŸ˜ƒ

I also enjoy the movies, I try to get to the cinema at least once every other week (there is always something out that I want to see; yesterday alone I did a double feature with my son – so much fun) and of course I enjoy blogging/writing.

So yeah, that’s my “free time” go tos – Books, Movies and Writing – not necessarily in that order.

3. Who is one of your role models and why?

Here is a clichΓ© – My parents are my role models.

My father was a self-made man, who came from nothing and was able to start and build a successful company. The admiration for my mother comes from her unwavering devotion to her husband and her children. She was not fortunate enough to be a housewife and worked outside of the house for 40 plus years until her retirement, but would always come home and cook a meal for her family. She kept a clean house, helped us with our homework (until we were old enough to get it done ourselves) and was always there to listen.

My parents were married for 45 years until the day my father took his last breath; another reason they’re my role models; because any adult in a relationship, marriage, or otherwise, knows that is no easy feat.

4. Do you know your personality type?

If by this you mean the Myers/Briggs personality type – Nope, never done the test.

5. When did you realize you really enjoy writing?

Might have been in elementary school when the teacher would tell us to write 3 paragraphs on a certain topic and I would take pleasure in writing an entire page or more.

6. Has anything you’ve written been published in a book or newspaper?

Yes, actually! While in high school I sent several pieces to the Gleaner, which was the local newspaper in Jamaica, where I was born and raised, and I was lucky enough to have a few pieces published. The first time I saw my name in print I was ecstatic. I was in the 9th grade.

7. Tell us three other talents you have.

Wow! “Talent” – I dunno. I’m good with people. Is that a talent?

I don’t have any talents. I’m not particularly great at anything. I can’t sing to save my life and I’m an average dancer. I’m not really good at any sports and I don’t play any instruments; so no talents here. That’s kinda sad, isn’t it?! πŸ€”

8. What’s your biggest inspiration?

Hmmm, let’s see…I have several sources of inspiration, whether it is people or things. However, I would say my “biggest” inspiration would come from love; love for my family. I am inspired to do more, be more and be the best version of me because of the love I have for my husband and my son. I just want to be great for them.

I am also inspired by great writing, music, wonderful friends and the random beauty I sometimes encounter out of the blue.

9. Have you recently made a choice you regret, if so, what was it?

I took a case I knew I shouldn’t. During the initial consultation with the prospective client, my intuition told me I would have a hard time with this client. His personality was a bit too “intense” for my liking. I took the case anyway because I felt I was up for the challenge but boy oh boy did I live to regret it.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to the teenage population, what would it be?

Be a kid! Enjoy it! Wallow in it. Sit back and chill and let your parents take care of you because the responsibilities of adulthood are coming and once it gets here there is no turning back.

One more thing – Wait to have sex! No need to chase it. It will always be there. You’ll have so much of it as an adult you’ll eventually get tired of it, even when it’s really good.

11. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who spit in public. I. Cannot. Stand. That!!!

Now, I’m supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers to participate, for the Sunshine Blogger Award. However, in the past, I have nominated other bloggers for other awards and have been met with the “I don’t do awards” sentiment, which is totally cool, to each his own. I have also nominated other bloggers who said they would participate but they just didn’t get to it. So how about this? If it is in your pleasure to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Awards; then go right ahead; please feel free to answer the questions above and tag me in your response post.

Thank you for reading!!!