Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 01/12/2019

#ThisLife  ………….reminiscing

White chrysanthemum flowersWe just celebrated our forty-fourth wedding anniversary with dinner at one of our favorite Kansas City restaurants — Lidia’s in the Freight District.  We are no strangers to a sort of stream-of-conscious reminiscing, nestling it into the conversation at a celebration of our lives together.

The reminiscing began with some basic math.  We’ve had kids “boarding” for thirty-four of the forty-forty years.  Without even needing a calculator, we added eight Baptisms, eight First Communions, and eight Confirmations.  We have eleven grandkids, have six married kids and have lived in three houses.  Our kids have participated in eleven different organized sports – soccer, tennis, baseball, wrestling, basketball, swimming, softball, track, gymnastics, cross-country and volleyball.  We’ve negotiated the purchase of eight kid-cars on some very questionable and very-used car lots.  We have two Eagle Scouts, we’ve sent seven checks to Outward Bound, sent one boy to Space Camp, and sold more than several thousand boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

We’ve had forty-four Christmas trees tied to the roof of the car. Two fell off.  We’ve attended dozens of school skating parties, hosted a boatload of slumber parties, resulting in sleep deprivation all while listening to the stereophonic sound of giggling girls.  We’ve attended 120 school conferences, some of which went better than others.  We’ve waited by the mailbox for sixteen ACT test results.  I don’t even want to know how many college tuition checks we wrote, even with scholarships factored in.

We’ve called in hundreds of lukewarm pizza delivery dinners and buckled in for eight hair-raising efforts to teach kids to drive.  We watched one kid take her “maiden voyage” riding with two wheels on the sidewalk and two on the road, halfway down the block. (They couldn’t have covered that in Driver’s Ed???)  We spent dozens of Christmas Eves putting together Little Tykes kitchens, tool benches and outdoor playhouses.  We’ve picked up thousands of Playmobiles and Legos scattered throughout the house, including under the couch cushions, in the air vents and in the dryer’s lint catcher. We’ve walked the neighborhood in rain, shine and sleet conditions for Halloween trick-or-treating.

We’ve read thousands of bedtime stories, poured gallons of milk into sippy cups, and made hundreds of trips to the pediatrician – including two broken collar bones, one from a kid running around the corner in socks on a slick wood floor, the other from a kid catapulting herself out of her crib. And oh yeah, a compound fracture on the playground.

We’ve played hundreds of games of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders and Old Maid.  We’ve scheduled untold number of every-six-month dentist visits.  I’ve said a million “Hurry ups”.  We’ve ridden to Osceola, Missouri for Boy Scout Summer Camp a dozen times.  We have one sorority kid who pledged Theta. I baked a stratospheric number of cupcakes and cookies for school functions.  There were many, many skinned knees, covered by any number of cartoon band-aids.  We buried both sets of parents.  We scheduled five tonsillectomies.  We’ve welcomed two cats, one snake, dozens of hermit crabs, two rabbits and dozens of gerbils who didn’t even pretend to understand overpopulating.

I said hundreds of “Stop it’s”, wiped away a million tears and perfected multiple teenage “attitude correction” conversations.  (Okay, monologues)  I listened to “Maaa-ummmm” yelled from three rooms away, which meant something catastrophic happened, like an overflowing toilet, a toddler running around the house with a permanent marker with no cap or a baseball that just came through the living room window. Two of the kids won the M.S. Read-a-thon.  We spent our summer vacations, eighteen of them, in Chatham, Massachusetts.

I tied the laces on a million shoes and carted kids to before-school orthodontist appointments where more often than not I left feeling like the bad-mom because the orthodontist figured out that whatever-kid-it-was wasn’t being “retainer compliant”.

A life full, hearts overflowing.  Sometimes it was hard, when a day felt like a long week.  When the exhaustion was so overwhelming, I wondered if this parenting thing was a good idea – (don’t judge, you’ve had the same thought!) But always something yanked me back from that poor-me precipice…..a kid coming through the front door with a fistful of tulip flowers, crushed in their tiny hand, or an I’m sorry” with a quivering bottom lip and eyes ready to splash tears. Or an adult kid, managing a cross-country move, or new parents able to see the miracle of identical twin boys who demand so very much of the mom and dad, or a kid who stumbles, picks themselves up, brushing off the disappointment and trying yet again.

It is these moments, these moments, for which we live our lives.





  1. I think this is your BEST story ever. amazing, tearful, and happy. Loved reading it.

  2. I think this is your BEST STORY ever. I loved reading it . A Biography of raising a family. I have no children but sort of could imagine. Actually, could never imagine this.
    I have been going crazy for 2 days trying to think of a subject to write about. I should write about how technologically inept I am. Had a thing with my computer tonight and had no idea what was going on. I live in Pa. Called my niece in MD. She wanted a picture of my computer key board sent to her on my I phone. I had no clue how to take a pic and send it to her. She walked me through it but to send it took 3 tries. I have an I PAD too and thinking my computer was not going to let me communicate, thought I would use the I PAD. I couldn’t even figure out how to turn it on. I guess I need a pass word. No clue. It still is not on.
    It sounds like a wonderful Anniversary. We do have a Ruth Chris in Pittsburgh but have never been there.
    I am so impressed that you are writing more. I look forward to your stories.

    • Carol, WRITE your experience with your computer foibles!!! I had to call my daughter in Chicago to ask her how to do a screenshot. She had her boss walk me through it because he has the same kind of phone I do. It took him more than once for me to “get it”, but it’s a funny story because most of us can relate to what happened to me/you. There is a writer trying to get out. Get busy!

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