"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"I See Dead People"

And, after spending time with Patrick's kids it made me realize once again that the best way to to connect with them (important since I teach Pediatrics) is to remember how it was when you were looking through younger eyes.

At post conference yesterday...this is exactly what my students expressed was the best way to gain the trust of the pediatric patients they were caring for. One student told us,"My goal today was to gain trust and learn how to interact with kids. Then I discovered that after giving the little girl stickers and playing video games she was much more cooperative when we needed to draw blood." Trying to think like a kid is easy for my husband, cause "He are one".

A while ago after attending my brother-in-laws' funeral I realized how important it is to think like a child if you want to really know them. 

I didn't go to a funeral until I was in my late 30's. It was a distant acquaintance and I wasn't emotionally involved but my own children, and grandchildren have attend family funerals at quite a young age. I've learned that children have a very different attitude regarding death. I first discovered this when my oldest daughter was around 3 years old.

We attended my husband's grandmother's funeral and she wanted to look into the casket during the viewing. She was anxious to see what was in the box everyone was looking at. My husband picked her up and stood a way back from the casket so she wouldn't reach out and touch anything. She began patting my husband's cheek and telling him, "Daddy, look at the sleeping lady, she has a pretty dress on."

Other children who live a farm-country life see animals born and others die and have a bit different point of view. When Uncle Bruce died and the graveside service was over, my grandchildren who were there wanted all the talking to end so they could ride on the tractor that pushes the dirt into the grave. They had a different understanding of death and what it means because they are more exposed to death than city kids. 

Often adults forget to explain things to children or try to help them understand what is happening. Then we can't understand when what they say makes no sense to us.

Two years ago my husband had two brothers die within two months. My daughter Megan lives in Utah not too far from the Uncles who passed away so her children knew them both and had spent time visiting with them and listening to old stories.

The younger brother Scott passed away first and we were all gathering for the graveside service. My husband and his older brother Don, who lived nearby, decided to drive to the neighboring town to pick up Leon (another brother) so he could attend Scott's funeral. They decided to use Scott's van as it was set up for a wheel chair and would be a better transport for Leon who would need his wheelchair.

While we were waiting for Patrick and Don to return with Leon, Megan's children were restless and began walking around the cemetery looking at the rows of scattered gravestones. The two older ones, Ali and Trevor were reading the dates and names on the monuments dotting the space and had gone quite a few yards away as they looked at the headstones.

I greeted the few people I knew, explaining we were waiting for the brothers to return with Leon from the convalescent home and noticed Ali the oldest of Megan's children looking puzzled and walking over to the gathering of people, and then back to a gravestone several rows away. Ali was about ten, a very serious thoughtful and observant young lady. I noticed she was looking at a woman very carefully, and soon went up to touch the woman's skirt and hand. Then she went back to stare at a headstone. Finally she came over and softly said, "How come if she's dead, she's walking around." In the emotion and bustle of the day I didn't realize until later what had happened or why she made such a strange comment.

The woman's husband had recently passed away and as was the custom she had purchased the adjoining plot with a joint grave monument which had pictures of them both. Ali was confused. She couldent' figure out why, if the lady had her picture on the stone, (which she knew meant the person was dead), that lady was in the cemetery walking around.

Soon after that her young brain got another shock. As Don and Patrick drove up in Scott's van they carried Leon from the van and placed him in the wheelchair. It was cold and windy so Patrick reached into the van and grabbed Scott's flannel shirt and hat and put them on Leon. He was all bundled up in Scott's clothing and did not move as they rolled him slowly toward the grave.

Ali was sure the person in the wheelchair was Scott because she recognized the clothing and thought they were going to put him in the box and then into the grave. Her eyes got big, she grabbed my hand and leaned into me saying, "Why didn't they get him in the box before everyone got here." I had no idea what she was talking about or why she gave a little squeak as Leon, who she thought was her dead Uncle Scott, stoodup from the wheelchair to say the opening prayer.

So pay attention to kids and most likely the strange things they say will make perfect sense, "I see dead people", may be true when you understand their point of view.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is hard pizza like hard cheese? I'm having flashbacks!

Today I survived the gymnastics run of Patrick Jr's kids, and thinking back am delighted to recollect Megan, and Camile Rich. They were both on the Olympic hot-shots. A pre-training kind-of Bella-Karoli potential Olympic group. All work and not much play. Driving into the San Fernando Valley from Santa Clarita four times a week came to a screeching halt the second Meg said, "Mom this isn't fun anymore." Even with her Pepita legs, flip, flops, balance beam twists, and uneven-beam flying...I was more than happy to stop the "valley run".  I think Camile continued for a short time after that and both we moms considered the year or two we spent driving there as good exercise for kids, and a lesson in patience for us..., not training for an Olympic career.  Meg put her Hanrion traditional awesome legs to good use as the girl who stole the most bases ever at Saugus High School when playing softball, and then onto track which continued into college with a full ride scholarship at Southern Utah University. She is running still, and coaches a high school track team today...for fun so she says, but she does have a competitive spirit.                                                            Megan's Track Team...

Later that same day after gymnastics, I promised to take Pat's kids to the grammar school skate party. Oh my gosh. Harriet Hunt where are you when I'm having a flash back?  (Harriet was my best friend in the 5th grade and my roller-buddy) Going to Skate King with the grand kids reminded me of the Van Nuys Skate Place...flashing lights, blaring music, and the staff  who conspire to stop all fun activity.

The meanie skate-cops had the nerve to try and scoot off little adorable 4yr. old Becca from doing her free style routine in the "middle of the rink".  Many kids and adults defended her and told them to back-off saying "she's the best skater in the house tonight"...and indeed, she was in a world of her own. However, I don't remember ever eating the hard-tack pizza that the King rink served. But then again, I never had that kind of money to buy a pizza when I was 12.

Patrick, Angela, Pat and Pat...
Great Grandma Helen, 
Broc, Josh, Katie,
and Becca.

Maybe that's why I was so anxious to skate for the T-Birds. I needed the money and was very used to ducking and weaving away from the "roller-guards". So weaving past others to score came naturally. Ha, and If you believe the "Pat the Dad" tall tale about how we met when I was a T-Birds jammer, then I have a bridge to sell ya! Possibly the implication of being a roller-derby-jammer is why my shoulder is out of whack for the second time. The illusion of smashing into the wall  must have produced the problem of a ripped rotator cuff. OR, It must be one of those unsolved mysteries.

But No! There must be an explanation for my shoulder woes. Think! Did my bad shoulder come from once being dropped from a flying arabesque when a surfer held me aloft while shooting the curl? (in the 60's), or from being a nurse for 40 years in ICU and moving around 300# comatose patients.

No the truth is, I've wrecked my shoulders through the years in various ways. From playing basketball, to moving patients, falling off a bike during a race, swim training for a triathlon, moving furniture, picking up squirming children, yanking 75# suitcases from the back seat to the front seat one handed...yeah...that's it...Injured from thinking I'm Wonder Woman!! (She and I are the same age...It's true)

Then, today I got the call they cancelled my surgery, heck, guess I can hold out for a few more years.
 In my surfing polka-dot-swim-suit...(before being dropped and getting a really nasty black eye)
SEE, Megan really does have my legs!
Me and Barbara Laws at Jr. High Graduation. Harriet, Barb and I were like peas, carrots and corn?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eight Wonder Of The World...Wallmart!!!!

Each day I see zombie people wandering aisles with their carts
Butts tucked into stretch pants along with other parts

They park and off they slowly go heading to the door
To find those things they think they need and other stuff galore 

Outside the girl with a petition banning bacon accosted me first
However it was the man in a wheelchair who protested her impudence

"How dare you deny me bacon for without it, I cannot eat
Are you insinuating that's why I can't get up upon my feet!" 

They have movies in a bin, some one dollar other's five
But why pay the price when this place has the action of a hive

For here you can get most anything your little heart desires
Like food, or drugs or guns to shoot and stuff to make a fire 

Now some say Disneyland is the best place to people watch
But if you hit this wonder, your viewing pleasure goes up a notch

For you can get a parenting lesson on the aisle with all the toys
Which is near "Appreciation of Music,"…It's the place will all the noise
Adventure and Romance is at the lingerie rack where a lone man
Tries to buy his wife a gift, wishing she'd asked for a frying pan

So if your cash is low for frills, can't pay the power bill
Just hit the local Walmart to get your entertainment fill

Friday, October 12, 2012

Back in Seattle again

Yes two weeks home and here I am again...these boys of mine are lots of fun, but I am getting too creaky for so much fun. It seems I just got home from helping out Shannon Mike Ben and Sam and now I'm the glutton and doing Grammy duty for Pat's four while he and Angela have a honeymoon. 

Back in Seattle, Sleepless in Seattle, would be more like how it feels to have four kids ages 4-16 to keep an eye on when you are closer to 70 than 65...lots of work, how in the heck did I ever keep up with five...I vaguely remember doing 5 loads of laundry a day...folding it and putting it away...thinking about it makes me cringe!
I have already seen the Garfield Halloween special 16 times and I'm barely back from dropping off the happy couple at the airport ..and somehow  I forgot you don't take directions from a four year old...
I arrived yesterday and took notes about all the places I needed to take the kids. Then I made this calendar thinking myself quite clever, and programed the address of each of four schools, soccer practice, soccer games, library time, gymnastics, roller rink, church and a few others with the times of when they all begin.

So off I went on my first car duty....I was feeling quite smug..I have handled this and lots more but how could I forget you....NEVER take directions from a four year old, I know better don't I?  

Only thing is...after I put all this info into my GPS...I neglected to have a key as to where each place led to...one address was 1233, east 153, another was 324 north 162, another was 2277 west 92 ND street...and I got them all mixed up....what happened to logical names like Pat lives on Elm street, or the park is on Park lane...the strings of numbers got jumbled in my head and as I looked at the maps saved in the Garmin... they all looked sort of looked alike...so I took a stab at one... I guess it was the wrong one and when I turned  to the right the four year old in the back seat began yelling no o-no no Grammy!!!! the other way!!!!!...I began thinking I had heard the man in the Garmin box wrong...I turned around and went the other way...ended up on a dead end street...then passed over the freeway...twice..I was lost so hit the address I hoped was "Go Home"  

The road began to look a little familiar and then I saw a cute little girl walking along and called out Katie!!!! She thought I had forgotten! "Oh No!" I said,  just got a little lost. 

Soon, after a repast of corn dogs with ketchup--- it was off to soccer, I think I took so many wrong turns the 10 min ride took 30 min..."got stuck in traffic," was my excuse (and I'm sticking to that answer should anyone ask) Needless to say, Josh was 30 min late.... No! wait it wasn't all my fault. Josh couldn't find his uniform, yea..that's it, or at least part of "it"

Now after watching three sponge Bob's, and six Finnias and Ferb shows...my brain has rotted and I am going to bed, hoping the grey cells will regenerate. I sure hope the kids go to bed sometime before dawn. They have declared on the weekends they are up until 10...not on my watch!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Empty Middle Seat Nirvana!

I've been travelling a lot since our reunion at the end of the summer and I've decided plane trips, when you are alone, are a turkey shoot! When I was younger I know I enjoyed the mystery of a trip. Now, I want absolutes...like WHO THE HECK IS THAT PERSON SITTING NEXT TO ME!

You never know who or what will be seated next to you. It could be a Yeti, Mr Crisco, or something out of a tale by the Grimm brothers.  The worst is when you bid for a ticket and end up with 4-5 connections before you get to your destination.  When you do that I can assure you that your fate will be the dreaded middle seat.  Who ever decided that the three seat configuration was the way to go should be shot. I remember as a kid travelling by plane to New York each summer and the planes had a two seat on each side deal going on...so at least one side of you could breathe, and not be crushed by a person sitting on each side.

Ahhh. "The Middle Seat". Who will get that seat????  If you are in a row without a couple to take two of the seats, you have to worry if you will be seated next to characters from an alien movie. Not fun. I have experienced that several times when travelling to meetings and conferences for my School Board Position.  I would go alone as none of the other board members, (mostly men) had schedules that meshed with mine. Never the less, I pressed on...and was often squished in that middle seat by rotund passengers on each side of me.

If you look at the arm rests of plane seats you discover that under the arm rest there is an opening. Quite easy for the person sitting beside you to slop their adipose tissue through the opening and on to your lap.  On one unfortunate trip I was the bologna in the sandwich of two large men who had lots of fat pushing into my side and onto my lap from both sides. I remember they were seated before I arrived and I almost cried when I saw them. After I was somewhat situated I looked for the seat belt, no way was I going to fish around the tissue for the restraining device, and really there was no need as I was so packed into my seat I couldn't move if I wanted to... I had my own dualie-air-bags, already deployed sitting on both sides of me. Interesting that the Stewardess seat belt-Nazi did not even notice or call to my attention to the fact that I was not...OH NO...buckled.  I guess she did not want to fish around for the seat belt either.  So there I sat for 3 hours not able to move as both sets of shoulders extended into my space along with everything else, and I was pinned there like a bug specimine...unable to move.

On one of my recent trips two young teen boys had the middle and aisle seat while I had the window seat. Okay I thought not too bad. The one in the middle had not hit his growth spurt so there was no fighting for posession of space going on. I noticed the two parents were across the aisle...blissfully removed of parental duties.  And they were also away from the unusual smell that began to waft toward me like a green cloud. They must have know the kids has some sort of gaseous food the night before and that's why they abandoned the kids and emancipated them...for as long as the flight, at least.  Within 15 minutes I was gasping for breath wishing the air bags would drop from the ceilling...for at very very frequent intervals various bowel eruptions produced a blasting hot wet-poopie smell.  I cranked up my air vent to full and had it hitting on my face, then would lean forward to breathe the air from between the seat in front of me and the window. I was doing all within my power to get some relief. I was wishing I could open the window. Of course that is ridiculous but by then I'm sure many brain cells had died, and all reason was lost.

So AHHHHH! The middle seat, If it is empty, it's nirvana. Yes, the vacant middle seat is the wish of us all as we travel alone. We hold our breath (even without air cheese happening) pray, and await the closing of the cabin door. We lone passengers are dreading the arrival of the third in the row to spoil our flight, our air, our space, or our sanity.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Why Does the Phone Ring When I'm On the Ladder," or "DON'T PUT THAT POTATO IN THE POT! and I don't mean the one on the stove...."

So, I'm not done painting the doors yet because the phone keeps ringing. (see previous blog..."I kicked down the door") Now my adult kids all say I never answer the phone. That is an exaggeration of sorts. I do answer it...when I can. I certainly don't run to get the phone anymore, that is true, those days are in the past...and climbing down a ladder with a paintbrush in hand...that's out of the question...In my younger days, when trapped at home with small children I was so anxious for any contact with the outer world I would run happily to the phone to hear an adult voice. You can get a bit batty when you only hear cartoons, big bird, or a house full of little ones running about.

And as batty as you get watching children day after day, you can't ignore them when they're in action, you must have eyes on all the time, I found out the hard way. Longing for an adult conversation, without diapers or sippy cups as the major topic I was talking to a dear friend who had abandoned me and moved away. I was keeping an eye on the little ones...well...sort of...while I was absorbed in the phone conversation and I saw my oldest son Patrick, yes, my husband and I are Pats, and so is our oldest son. Rather fun as he got older and we answered the phone. We sounded like we were a new age religion or something "Do you want...Pat the father, Pat the mom, or Pat the son."

But I digress, I saw Patrick running around with a potato. So cute, trying to be like mom, pretending to be cooking...(to this day he is a wonderful cook...) It was cute until I saw him walking by with the squash I had under the sink for dinner the next night...I followed him to discover the toilet filled with my brand new 10 pound bag of potatoes topped off with the squash. Luckily I was able to retrieve them before my (then) plumber husband got home, (he has now moved on to Superintendent of general construction of very large projects) Anyway, he told me if he ever had to pull a diaper out of the toilet I was in big trouble...but then again he never mentioned potatoes! or squash... That day to check I had rescued all the potatoes and the toilet was not clogged or would run over on the next flush. I used the handy bathroom scale to make sure I pulled out all of the 10 pounds, now that's the creative mom in me...just ask.

Anyway back to the ladder thing, you all know it's true. Paintbrush in hand at my age....social security age, sort of...I don't rush for many things, but old habits die hard, and a few times while during my door painting sojourn I have found myself hopping down and running to the instrument of communication. Each time chiding myself for not putting the thing in my pocket, and frequently I found a telemarketer on the line, the dreaded 800 number and now there is added the 799 telemarketer number, but all the same they ultimately want your money for something, some politician, phone service, Internet, or my favorite some illness or ailment.

Now with over 40 years under my belt caring for the sick and not so sick...I have certainly given my pound of flesh, (bad feet and two back surgeries) to the ill and infirm...so feel that no matter what ailment they represent, "I've already given" so get off my phone...and don't ask me for a donation in the market either where I ran in for a gallon of milk, or any store for that matter. Considering the number of times I've gone to the store with a family of seven If I gave just a dollar each time I entered a store, within a very short time I would be flat broke...

Here are early photos of the Hanrions.
Yes Virginia, Big Pat at one time had dark curly hair and sported Elvis sideburns. 
How 'bout my hair on the day we blessed Rebecca?
Little Pat (the potato culprit) is in the toy box...along with Colleen in the last picture.
So my advice, "I gave at the office" is a good reply, then of course a fun follow up is to ask the person on the line if they think painting the wall blue, or pale yellow would be best with a west facing living room according to the fen-shui method....and request them to come over and help paint since they wasted your time and now you're behind in your project! I asked the person on the line to come over and help paint once...and they HUNG UP! The nerve! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nail It To The Floor If It Stinks!

I never considered Pop Hanrion a tease or particularly funny. He was serious and a hard worker who would join in when the fooling around started. He was not much of an instigator. So how did five boys turn out to be class clowns and cut-ups ready for a challenge? How did they find a way to turn every task into a game and like Tom Sawyer scam others to work while they sat back and watched?
The only culprit could have been Ruth, the mom of the house. How can that be? I know she was shy in school and didn’t have much confidence. She told me it took an astute teacher to recognize her talents and encourage her to attend college and become a teacher. From time to time, however, I could glimpse the gremlin inside this quiet woman and knew the smile on her face hid her true character. When I heard the story about dirty clothes, I knew I was right.
With six men to pick-up after, poor Ruth must have cleaned with a bulldozer to keep the health inspectors away. Now I know when they first moved to California they lived in a chicken coop because no one would rent to a family with four boys. Luckily, soon after that, they were able to buy a home with twenty acres, plenty of room for the boys to keep busy. I wonder if living in a chicken coop squelched any attempt to persuade the men to be tidy or neat…but I know many years later when Patrick was in high school she was still urging the family to change their messy habits.
One day in total frustration she took a handful of ten-penny nails, then pounded the array of underwear, shirts, pants, and socks to the floor. When the boys returned to discover all their clothing firmly attached to the floor and questioned her about their predicament. She responded, “Well if you can’t get your clothes hanging on a hook, or in the hamper, I’ll just have to hang them myself…right where they lay!”
She became a notorious heroine in the neighborhood and her story was told far and wide. I know she made an impact on many with her creative mothering, and recently when Patrick went to church in Arizona a woman approached him to ask, “Are you the Hanrion who had his clothes nailed to the floor?” He had to admit the story was true and he was the messy culprit.
I also had a moment of mom frustration when our oldest son Patrick was doing two-a-day football practice and another player was staying with us because the parents were out of town. The boys would come home, eat their way through the refrigerator and take a nap on the floor of Pat’s bedroom between practices. They would plop their sweaty stinky football pads and uniforms in the doorway ready to put them on again for the evening practice. Soon the end of the hall had a foul sour smell wafting from the bedroom.
The girls and I were assaulted with the odor and I attempted to spray away enough of the fumes to keep down the gags as we watched TV in the upstairs family room. Finally the girls and I came up with a plan. The third day when the boys were at morning practice we dumped the laundry from the entire family on top of the growing pile. Dad’s work clothes, muddy socks, girly underwear and bras joined the football pads and uniforms.
A few minutes after the boys had gone upstairs to have their nap, a yelp escaped from the room. “What is this?” They asked, emerging with girl undergarments and several of dad’s size 13 stinky socks.
“Oh that, the hampers were full and since your room had so much junk and smelly stuff, I didn’t think a few more items would make a difference. Maybe I’ll get around to washing next week.”
“Okay, we get the message; we’ll leave our stuff in the garage from now on…next to the washing machine.”
“Better would be in the washing machine with some soap!” I said, trying to push my luck.
From then on they washed their football stuff between practices, but strangely the smell lingered in that room for several months, in fact it has been many years but on humid nights I could swear there is that same sour smell emerging from the bedroom like a phantom.
Scott, Leon, & Don, three of the four brothers who taught my husband, (the fifth son) the way they kept their clothes organized...on the floor!