Monday, June 17, 2013


The word "party" is inherently upbeat. While going to "visit" someone may sound quaint, and "coming over" is
a workaday word that can cover anything from dropping off Avon samples to watching a baseball game, parties are for having fun. Who doesn't love a party?

Well, me for one.

Graduates Billy and Sheyanne
A couple of weeks ago we threw a graduation party for Luis, Billy and Sheyanne. None of them had an easy time getting to this day. It's taken Luis seven years, on and off, to graduate from Johnson and Wales with his marketing degree, but his path is even more circuitous than that. He's gone to school in different countries, lived with different family members to get through high school, in different states to get through college. Sheyanne took five years but had a baby between freshman and sophomore year, and works, and has learning disabilities but she got her degree from Albertus Magnus in psychology, specializing in art therapy, through grit and determination. The girl never skipped a class, rarely complained, hated to ask for help, just kept trying. Billy is 20. He has some serious disabilities (schizophrenia and mental retardation) and is graduating from high school with pride and a sense of accomplishment thanks to the support of some many great people at Jonathan Law High School, and two incredible people in particular (teacher Jim Winebrenner and instructional assistant Sharon Kish) who have taught him for 6 years straight.
Mark & I at Shey's graduation

So we had a lot to celebrate.

Caitlin and Sheyanne prepared almost all the food, and helped me shop. Mark grilled. My friend Beverly and

cousin Bridget helped serve My house is on the cozy-small side, at least the first-floor where parties occur, but the weather was good so the 75 people who came had room to move and places to talk. Some more than others, I suppose. I used to notice who wasn't enjoying themselves, and intervene, as good hostesses do. But now I'm blown-away by the noise, and the details involved in keeping all those people fed and comfortable. Mid-way through, I needed a very long nap. And took one. This wasn't optional.

I cooked for Thanksgiving and Christmas last year but I never remember how. It seems far beyond my abilities. And yet, except for the one Ava birthday right after my 2nd concussion, I've never run out of food. Estimating and counting and adding correctly are all still difficult, and I'm often off. Mark will quiz me a few times, then send one of our kids out for more food even if I tell him I have enough. He's learned. I haven't.

Big-Time-Help Caitlin with grads Shey and Luis
Last night we had a much smaller cookout for Father's Day. Mark is entirely devoted to our family and worked a 12 hour shift yesterday so I wanted a nice time for him and for my exceedingly tolerant stepdad Fred, blessed and cursed to live next door. I had already devoted most of my brainpower to a breakfast for my dad so my kids helped again--Lizzie helped me prep, and Sheyanne and Cait and Luis and Chris really hosted the party. They  powered up the twinkle lights, manned the grill, lit the tiki torches and campfire, served the food and drinks. It was quite beautiful, and the 5 hours  it took me to prep the simple food and to bake Mark's favorite lemon cake (yes, this is honestly and embarrassingly true, compared to about 45 minutes in the past) was all worth it.

Mark with our granddaughter Ava
Then Billy had a fit over the condiments he was allowed on his bratwurst. Later we could figure out a dozen things that might have contributed but still--he was pushy and pressured in his demands at that moment, and when denied, he punched through paneling and sheetrock, then smashed the screen of the 42 inch flat screen TV Mark won at work for a sales increase two Christmases ago.

After which, I could add Billy and Mark to the list of people in my family who don't like parties. Or each other, at the moment. Another example of how parties do not always celebrate an event as intended, and how the stress and noise and excitement and demands of them can get to someone vulnerable like Billy, or me, and ruin the fun. God willing, for the 4th of July Billy will be at Camp Horizons as planned. Unfortunately, Mark will be working, his much-needed vacation cancelled by last-minute transfers at work. And me? Somewhere quiet, I hope.

I know. A lot to ask for on that day :)

Love, Lisa