Laura's Life Day by Day

These are the things that go on in Laura's life. Thoughts, emotions, concerns, and just day to day living in Laura's world.

My Photo
Location: Roseville, Michigan, United States

I've been married for thirty years now. I have three grown children and five grandchildren, and another due in November. My boys are both married and my youngest, my only daughter still lives at home. I work at an assisted living place taking care of elderly residents.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Family Tragedy

Today is my oldest granddaughter's birthday. She is three years old today. She brings such joy to my life and I feel very blessed to have her and my other grandkids in my life. For I know all to well that in a blink of an eye, everything could turn tragic. It is by the grace of God that I receive the incredible joy of these little children to be a part of my life and I thank the Lord everyday for the privilege, you can be sure of that. Today is also the birthday of another family member of mine. One who at the age of three had his life taken away by a tragic accident. He is the little boy is the enclosed picture. Those of you who have read my past blog entries will remember the post entitled Perms, Pictures, and then Death when I briefly spoke of this little angel of mine. He is my little brother, Jeffrey Michael, and this is his tragic tale.
On December 30, 1962 my little brother Jeffrey was born. He was a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed baby and we all loved him very much. However, the joy this small bundle gave us ultimately turned to great sorrow and remorse. You see, he died on September 28, 1966. We only had the pleasure of having him with us in this world for three years, eights months, and twenty-eight days.
Even though I was only eight years old at the time, I remember that tragic day as if it were yesterday. It was a warm, sunny September day, but there would soon be a dark cloud hovering over this household. One that would remain with the members of this family for the rest of their lives.
At the time, my Uncle Kenny was in Viet Nam fighting in a war that divided our country. My mother suggested to me that we go out onto the porch to write him letters so that he would not feel alone as he fought in a strange country overseas. So I gathered up some stationery, a few envelopes and pens and out we went to sit on the porch and write to Uncle Kenny enjoying the beautiful day outside as we wrote. My two brothers' were in their room. David was listening to music on the radio and Jeffrey was playing with his toys. While my mother and I were writing our letters and David was laying on the bed in his room listening to his music, Jeffrey wandered out of the room without his older brother's knowledge. He wandered through the living room, past the kitchen to the top of the basement stairs. Now Jeffrey had never ventured down the stairs, he was afraid to go down there. But on this day, for some reason, he went down the stairs to the basement. While down there, he spotted a half empty gas can and picked it up. He carried it with him by the ping pong table, spilling a little as he went and then over close to the hot water tank and the furnace area. He had also spilled some of the gasoline onto his clothing. In an instant, the hot water tank pilot ignited the spilled gasoline on the floor and the fire exploded around the hot water tank, Jeffrey and the ping pong table.
Jeffrey let out an ear piercing scream that David heard up in his bedroom. He looked around the room and noticed that Jeffrey was no longer there. David left the room and followed the cries to the top of the basement stairs. He looked on in horror as he saw the flames engulfing the basement. David ran to the front door and yelled out to my mother, "Mom, there's a fire in the basement, and Jeffrey's down there. My mother quickly raced into the house to the basement stairs. She grabbed the throw rugs that she had left on the basement landing to be taken down to the washer after she had finished with her letter. Then she raced down the stairs as quickly as her legs could carry her.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she quickly assessed the situation. There were three bodies of flames throughout the basement. One was the hot water tank, the other was the ping pong table, and the last was her son, Jeffrey. She ran over to Jeffrey and put out the flames with the throw rugs that she had brought down with her. Still in shock, she scooped his charred body up in her arms and carried him back up the stairs. She gently laid him in the oversized chair by the front door and ran back into the kitchen to the wall phone to call the fire department. By this time, the smoke from the fire was covering the kitchen and she opened the kitchen window, pushed out the screen and stuck her head out the window to breathe.
During the time she was doing this, I ran to my friend Mary Ann's house two doors down from us. I banged on the door fiercely. The family of nine was sitting down to dinner. The eldest son, Gerard came to the door. I screamed out frantically, There's a fire in our basement and Jeffrey is down there. Gerard raced out of his house and ran into ours. He spotted Jeffrey in the front room chair. The only clothing left on his body was a pair of smoldering underwear. Gerard ripped the smoldering underwear from my little brother's burnt body and picked him up and brought him outside. By this time, all the surrounding neighbors were gathered around our house to help out. Gerard handed Jeffrey to the neighbor lady that lived across the street, who was a nurse and then he raced back in the house to get my mother. He went into the smoke filled kitchen where my mother was still on the phone with the fire department and after she had finished giving them the address, Gerard led her out of the house and to the awaiting crowd outside.
I looked on in horror as Jeffrey's fingernails shot off his little burnt hands. One of the neighbors had brought out a white sheet to lay Jeffrey upon, but my mother quickly told the neighbors that our lawn had just been fertilized the day before. So they laid the sheet down on out next door neighbor's lawn and put Jeffrey's charred lifeless body on top of the sheet. The fire trucks and police cars arrived at the house shortly there after. The firemen rushed into the house to battle the flames. The ambulance arrived around the same time and put Jeffrey on a gurney and set him in the back of the ambulance. My mother was going with him to the hospital and her neighbor, Dorothy agreed to care for David and me until her return that evening.
Tears streamed down my face as I scoped out the area. On the porch, I saw the letters my mother and I had been writing to Uncle Kenny. They had been trampled upon by the firemen's boots. They would never be sent. I looked over on the lawn to see a chunk of my brother's charred skin lying in the grass. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. It seemed like I was experiencing a nightmare that I coundn't wake up from. I looked over at David. He stood there, very quiet. He was staring off in the distance. His face was pale, almost white. He was in shock. Dorothy gathered us up and took us into her house to await news of my younger brother from the hospital. My brother David and I barely spoke during this time. Dorothy had told us that our father was leaving work and going straight to the Children's Hospital to be with Jeffrey and my mother. She tried to get us to eat dinner, but neither I, nor my brother could eat. All we kept thinking about were the tragic events of that day.
Late in the evening, my parents returned and brought us home. They explained to us that Jeffrey had third degree burns over seventy percent of his body. The hospital had him in an oxygen tent and they told us that he would feel no pain for a few days because all the nerves in his body "went to sleep". They told us that we would be spending a lot of time at grandma's house while they went to the hospital each day to see Jeffrey. I still couldn't believe what was happening.
For three weeks, each day we would go to grandma's while my parents went to the intensive care unit of children's hospital. At this time, there were no burn centers to take him to. While in today's times someone with these kind of burns might make it through, during this decade every day was a fight just to survive the initial injuries, let alone the complications that would follow. The neighborhood was wonderful during these difficult weeks. Neighbor ladies brought over prepared food to the house so my mother wouldn't have to worry about cooking for us that first week. Some neighborhood children took up a collection and bought Jeffrey a big stuffed dog. It was a "batman" dog. It was white with black spots shaped in bats. Cards and well wishes flooded the house each and every day. We were very grateful for everyone's concern during this tragic time.
On the twenty-eighth day of September, early in the morning, the phone rang. It imediately woke everyone in the house, and I think we all knew what this phonecall was about. My mother and father ran to the phone. My mother picked it up and said, "Hello". As my brother David and I were reaching the kitchen, we heard my mother cry out, "No, No, It can't be, It just can't be." My father held my mother in his arms with a look of dispair on his face. David and I put our arms around the both of them and started crying too. In an instant, our lives had been forever changed.
Uncle Kenny got an emergency leave from the army and flew home to be with my father during the funeral services. I remember going to the funeral home. Flowers were everywhere. A little open casket with a thin piece on mesh draped over the top held the body of what once was a very lively beautiful little boy. A kneeler was set in front of the casket and my mother went up, kneeled on the kneeler and covered her face with her hands and cried and cried and no one could console her. As my father and a few family members escorted her out to one of the outer rooms so she could regain her composure, I heard one of the mourners ask the funeral director why there was white, see through mesh cloth draped over the casket covering Jeffrey. The funeral director said that it's normal in a viewing of one so young that some mourners might reach into the casket to touch or try to hold the deceased. He explained that in this case, if that happened, the torso of the body would probably cave in.
We had a Catholic funeral service at our church for my little brother Jeffrey. It was at this service that I was witness to something I had never before seen and would only one other time during my life see again. During the service, my father looked over to my mother who was sitting next to him, tears welled up in his eyes as he leaned over to her and I heard him whisper in her ear, "It's not supposed to happen this way. Our children are supposed to burry us, not the other way around". And the tears streamed down his cheeks and my father cried. I had never seen this mountain of strength falter before. He was our rock, he was the strong one whom everyone in the family leaned on in times of trouble. This man never cried. But now I watched as the emotion of grief expelled out from this pillar of strength. For some reason, this sight frightened me terribly. My hands started to tremble as tears ran down my face.
This incident changed the lives of every member of our family. My mother had a nervous breakdown shortly after the funeral and was put in a mental hospital to recover. My father became very over-protective of us children. My brother became a honor student from then on. He never swore, drank, got mostly A's on all his report cards. Never got into trouble, never caused any trouble. It was almost as if he was trying to be the perfect child to make up for what he felt had happened because he hadn't seen his little brother leave the room. I became a very quiet and shy child. When I grew up and had children of my own, every time something happened, whether sickness or injury, to one of my children I would fall apart. My husband always accused me of over reacting to the current situation. But I would explain to him that it is hard for one who has never lost one so young to comprehend the intense fear of losing one of your own. I couldn't help myself. I always worried intensely about the children because I knew that in one instant, in a blink of an eye, all the happiness and joy that we experience each day in our children's lives could be gone in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Christmas Quiz

I have been tagged by my wonderful daughter to do this Christmas quiz. However, I am not going to tag anyone else to do this quiz, so I guess it ends with me. And if anyone's interested, the picture with this post is me at 3 years old. So here goes with the quiz.

1.) Hot Chocolate or Egg nog?
Hot Chocolate for me please.

2.) Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Santa doesn't have time to wrap all those presents.

3.) Colored lights on Tree/House or White lights?
I love colored lights except for the icicles lights, those I like white.

4.) Do you hang mistletoe?
Not usually, I get enough kisses without it.

5.) When do you put your lights up?
Usually the 1st weekend in December.

6.) What is your favorite holiday dish?
The deviled eggs, I can get to those before it's time to eat the dinner!

7.) What is your favorite holiday memory?
Grandma's house and those pecan rolls she always made.

8.) When did you know the truth about Santa?
And what "truth" would that be. I still believe in Santa Claus.

9.) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yes, and then more on Christmas Day.

10.) How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
With colored lights, garland, and a mixture of home made ornaments and store bought bulbs. And contrary to what you may have heard, I would love to have help putting up the tree, but no one ever offers the help. (that last sentence is mainly for my Sheila)

11.) Snow, love it or dread it?
I love December snow, but after the 1st of January, it can all go away.

12.) Can you ice skate?
I prefer to rollar skate. I never did care much for ice skating.

13.) Do you remember your favorite gift?
I really don't remember much about the gifts I have gotten throughout the years. The thing I remember most is being with my family and having fun together.

14.) What's the most important thing on Christmas?
Being with family and eating all that food.

15.) What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Apple pie.

16.) What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
My brother passing out the gifts and me joking with him that he can't read the tags anymore and he should retire from playing santa and let someone younger take his place. Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas unless "Uncle Dave" passed out the presents, but I like to tease him.

17.) What tops your Christmas tree?
An angel.

18.) Which do you prefer, giving or recieving?
Mostly the giving, but I must say in all honesty, if I just watched everyone else open gifts and I didn't get anything I would problably feel pretty bad.

19.) What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee.

20.) Candy Canes . . . Yuck or Yum?
They are ok, but I'd rather have Chocolate Covered Cherries!!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Everything has been so busy lately, I haven't had much time for writing. Between work, getting things done in time for Christmas, taking care of the grandkids and daily household chores, I haven't had much time for much else. I don't mind too much though. I love getting the house all decorated for Christmas and I look forward to having my whole family together at my house on Christmas day to celebrate with me. I just wish I had a bit more energy lately. I've been feeling a bit run down this past week or so. It's my own fault, I always tend to overdo for the holidays. I just can't help it. It makes me so happy. Tired, but happy. This year will be the twin's first Christmas and I can't hardly wait to see them open their presents on Christmas day. I just love having small children in the house on Christmas and this year, I'll have five grandkids to fuss over. I can hardly wait!

Friday, December 08, 2006

She'll Always Be My Baby Girl

Today, my baby girl was crying her eyes out. Now mind you, I know she is 22 years old, but when I look at her, in my heart, she is still the baby girl as shown in this picture. There is nothing I can do to fix the problem. She has to work it out by herself. But when I see her like this, it is as if someone has punched into my chest, grabbed my heart and yanked it out. The pain is I feel is so intense, I can hardly bare it. Those of you who are mothers pretty much know what I'm talking about. When my Sheila was little, I could always make everything all better. Getting her from crying to laughter was easy. If something was wrong, Mommy fixed it, period. Now that she's an adult, there isn't much I can do besides comfort her, tell her I love her, give her a hug, and let her figure out the problem on her own. Sometimes, I think seeing her suffering hurts me more than it does her. I just want to grab the person that made her cry and beat the living hell out of them. Whether they deserve it or not. The fact that they made my baby cry is justification enough for me. Of course, I can't really do this, but it is the way I feel. The worst part of parenthood is the realization that you can't protect them from feeling pain, sadness, dispair, etc. You just have to stand by and let them work it out for themselves. Little children; little problems - Big children; big problems. We as mothers have to just stand by and let them live their lives. Give them are advice and hope for the best.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Friends Till The End!!!

Today was a great day for me. I didn't have to work today, so I spent the entire day with my best friend of 42 years. We had lunch then afterwards we exchanged Christmas presents. (We always do it early because the last couple weeks before the holidays are quite busy for both of us) Then we sat by the fireplace relaxing for the afternoon with good wine and alot of great conversation. I love days like this. We have been best friends since we were both 7 years old. We went to school together, hung out together after school. She is godmother to all of my children. We still get together a couple times a month and spend the whole day together. In between our visits we talk on the phone, and boy can she talk. Everytime we're on the phone together, my kids will call and say, "Who were you on the phone with, Betty? Because I've been trying to call you for a couple of hours now!" They already know before they even ask the question because she is the only one I talk on the phone to like that. She is more like a sister to me than a friend, We've shared so many things. And all my kids call her Aunt Betty. Friends come in and out of your life, but this one came into mine at a very early age and has stayed my best friend for all of these years. We were best friends as kids, throughout are adult life, we'll be together when we're old and gray, until the day comes when one of us finally dies. Yep, friends til the end.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The twins

Little Ricky brought over these pictures yesterday of my twin granddaughters in their Christening gowns. I thought I would share them with you since I can't think of anything to write today. Laurie is on the left and Deanna is on the right. Laurie looks like me when I was a baby and Deanna favors my son (her father), and my husband.

The picture above is mainly of Deanna Paige with both twins in the middle.

These last pictures are mainly of Laurie Elizabeth with both twins in the middle.

I love these girls so much. Aren't they just too cute!

Friday, December 01, 2006

6 Weird Things About me

Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a post of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list there names, Don't forget to leave a comment that says they are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

6 weird things about me:

1.) I dance around the house when I'm cleaning.

2.) I like to dip my sandwich into my soup before I bite into it.

3.) My favorite line is "That's an accident waiting to happen"

4.) I make up weird words to describe things.

5.) I take pictures of EVERYTHING.

6.) I'm sitting here alone typing how weird I am on my birthday instead of celebrating it.

My tag list is:

Dorky Dad, Bird on a Wire, Steven, Shadowfalcon, pythia 3, Tim

Helen --- What did you do to your blog? I can't even get to it anymore.