Monday, January 23, 2012

A love letter to Emma

Early on in our dating life together, Bill and I discussed having children. True, we weren't 'betrothed' but we both avowed that having a family had to be part of the marriage deal. Although I was uncertain about whether I was actually maternal, I knew that Bill would make a great father. He loved to teach - and he was so passionate about so many things that I knew he couldn't help but share his joie de vivre with the next generation of Savinos.

I was right.

I am thankful for so many things that Bill has brought into my life but, the best part of our life, bar none, is the fact that we were able to have two terrific kids. We were lucky that we agreed on parenting tactics and values. We rarely disagreed about issues with the kids - and we are fortunate that we didn't have to deal with any huge problems.

My pregnancy with Emma, our first born, was touch and go. I think that that fragility and uncertainty made me appreciate her even more when she was eventually ripped from my gut. The first year of Emma's life I took a leave of absence from law school and stayed at home full time. That was probably the best year of my life.  She was a dream baby. In fact, her name, Emma, came to me in a dream when I was pregnant with her.

Emma was not a popular name 22 years ago - it was pre "Friends" and it was kind of old fashioned. Her name is actually an acronym (E for Elizabeth - my name; MM for Mary Margaret - my mother's name; and A for Antionette - Bill's mother's name). The acronym part is what I dreamt about. I woke up with a start and announced to Bill that the baby was going to be named Emma. He loved it even though we didn't know if she was female. (PS: Don't you love what your brain can do when you're asleep?!)

Twenty-two years later, my love for her is only outweighed by my respect for her. She is such a great daughter and an even better sister to Will!  I have no doubt that whatever she sets her mind to do, she will accomplish. And she'll do it with flair! She is so smart and organized and beautiful and determined and caring and frugal and unspoiled and genuine.  She and her father often butt heads - I think it's because they share so many characteristics.  

She's in her final semester at the University of Toronto. The world is open to her and I can't wait to see what she will do. It's such an exciting time of life for her and I know she is stressing about all the choices that are ahead of her.

It's funny how a little more than 22 years ago I was just fine with life and the people in it. And now, I don't know how I ever lived without her.

Our own wee Emma! We love you so much!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

In the blink of an eye

It was a busy weekend this weekend - that's the way Bill likes it. I usually have to negotiate with him to get an evening off and he loves to be booked every Friday and Saturday.

Friday night we spent with some great people at a really lovely birthday party. We were celebrating the 65th birthday of a guy who could easily pass for 50. When the guest of honor spoke to the revelers, he said that those 65 years had passed in a 'blink of an eye'. And, even though I often reflect upon how fast life seems to fly by, for some reason his words resonated deeply with me that night.

As I climbed the stairs to bed that night, I looked at the 'rogues' gallery of pictures on the wall. Those pictures chronicle much of our life and I felt like I was looking at people I knew - but not very well. It was almost like those photos were of someone else's life. The kids have grown up and Bill and I have grown old and I don't know what happened to the time in between.

Luckily, I married a man who does require me to negotiate with him to have a day off. He is intent on living life to the fullest and to jamming as much as we can into a day. Which is why our weekends leave me little time for laundry and cleaning and the other mundane but necessary parts of life. Our vacations are no different. If we're in Paris, damn it we're going to see every corner of the Louvre and read every word about the architecture. If we have to catch a plane, we'll get there at the last possible minute so as to not waste time at the airport (I believe I may have written about this issue before?).

Maybe that's why I can't seem to recall details of the last 25 years; I just have too much stuff packed into that ever shrinking gray matter. Before I met Bill I thought I was pretty adventurous and full of life. But, after that fateful night we met at Jimmy Mac's (Dec. 20th, 1985) it was never quite the same. Echoing the sentiment in the Frank Sinatra tune "The best is yet to come", Bill insisted: I'm gonna teach you to fly - We've only tasted the wine - We're gonna drain that cup dry.

Hopefully, if I'm the least bit lucid in my waning years, I'll be able to recall all the fun that we had. And, I'll be thankful that Bill is a much better negotiator than I.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A night of firsts

In my second half century, it has occurred to me, more than once, that I have become a little jaded - nothing excites me the way it used to when I was young. Things just aren't 'new' anymore. I am very rarely surprised. Fortunately, life taught me a lesson this weekend.

Saturday night I stayed out late - very unusual for me. It started off innocently enough - dinner and the hockey game. Our friend, Pete (not his real name - no really, it's NOT his real name. His real name is Allen but everyone calls him Pete) took us out for a night on the town.

We started off at a relatively new eatery on Amherst Street called the Black Rock Kitchen and Bar. We feasted on tongue tacos and bone marrow among other things. Our server was very happy to find patrons who appreciated a good tongue. Fortunately, Pete had the foresight to begin the meal with a large and lovely Belvedere martini. Believe me - it helped all that raw protein go down. Pete is always introducing us to new things. In fact, it was Pete who ordered me my first gin martini many, many, MANY years ago.

We rolled out of the restaurant and drove down to the HSBC center. Oops I mean the First Niagara Center, for the Sabres game. Pete had fantastic seats; we were so close that Bill eyeballed Center Nathan Gerbe and proclaimed him to be a real short ass. In comparison, Nathan did appear to be quite a bit shorter than the rest of the players - especially when he skated a shift against a huge Jets player named Antropov. Antropov looked like a lumbering ox next to nimble Nathan. Our row seatmates (apparently Jets fans) frequently called out "get that big, dumb Russian off the ice".

Bill quickly googled the Sabres website and found that Gerbe was listed as being 5'5" tall. Wikipedia proclaims that he is, in fact 5'4" and THE SHORTEST player in the NHL.
Nathan number 42 at 5'5" or so (maybe with his skates on)
Nathan is now Bill's hockey hero.

After the game we headed uptown to the Elmwood Lounge. I haven't been there in years. It was nice to see the decor has not changed. Saturday night the legendary "Lance Diamond show" is on the menu. Lance explained to us that we might notice a photographer taking pictures. Apparently, the Buffalo News was doing a story on him - I can't wait to read it. The photographer giggled all night long, clearly enjoying his assignment. Artvoice, another local newspaper, has declared Lance the Best Genre Defying Act. That about sums it up. You have to see Lance to believe him. On Saturday, he wore a lovely green 3 piece sparkle suit.  At one point in the evening he gave away his cuff links to a cute service-woman in the audience. He is smooth!

We stayed through his first set. Amazingly, Bill turned to me as the set was winding down and told me he couldn't stay up any longer... I had to take him home. That was the FIRST time in 26 years that he pooped out before me. I got up from the bar stool, said thank you to Lance and drove everyone home.

At 51, it's nice to know that I can still be surprised and do new things. Especially when friends like Pete remind me. Thanks, Pete. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Acts of kindness

When I was little I was afraid of the dark. I'm still not entirely comfortable with being in complete darkness  - even at the ripe old age of 51. Bedtime was not a happy time for me. I always fought when it was time to go upstairs to bed.

Remembering my issues with sleeping alone, I was always easy, some thought too easy, with my own kids: reading to them until they were almost comatose and lying beside them until they fell asleep. As a mum, I knew that I was probably promoting bad habits with my kids - but selfishly, I loved this time of day. As a working mother, I grabbed any time I could with the kids - and lying beside a sleeping child is a small piece of heaven.

Sometimes they would wake up, and, finding me gone, they would find their way into our room. I would put one hand under their butt and lift them into bed without a word. They would fall asleep immediately - and so would I. Half the time, or maybe more than half the time, Bill would have no idea that there were 3 (or 4!) in our bed.

Eventually, the practice stopped. The kids didn't need me to read to them or even to tuck them in. Despite my questionable mothering techniques, they outgrew the need for companionship in the middle of the night. I don't regret my behavior  - not one bit.

As a child, I remember lying awake looking around my room and feeling afraid to move. Only my eyes moved - surveying the doorway, the closet, the cupboards, the toys. I knew that "sanctuary" was just beyond my door and in the next room. I just had to gather my courage to leap out of bed and run as fast as my little legs could carry me to my brother, Kevin's room.

Once there, I would wedge myself into his single bed, and he would pull the covers over me. He didn't exactly welcome the intrusion nor could he have appreciated the fact that I squished him up against the wall, but he didn't ever kick me out either.  Even after I vomited all over him one night. Kevin knew I was terrified of the dark; he never taunted or made me feel silly. He just resigned himself to the fact that every so often I would squeeze in beside him. I had made up some weird belief system that as long as a part of my body touched his body I would be safe all night. Usually it was my foot on his knee. I'm not sure he knew how much I appreciated his indulgence.

He was a great big brother. When he could have been mean he showed kindness - and tolerance. He's the same way today.  He looks past my idiosyncrasies, and, if he judges me, he never reveals what he may think.

And that brings me to my NEW YEARS RESOLUTION! Which amazingly was reinforced today at the Grand Island bridge. I resolve to perform an act of  kindness to someone in need  at least once a day.  If I do that, I will have made at least 366 (remember it's Leap Year this year) people a little bit happier in 2012. Just like the toll taker at the Grand Island bridge today. She flashed me a big smile and wished me Happy New Year! She made Emma's day, too.

So, Happy New Year everyone! Let's hope that you receive a kindness every day too!