October 21, 2017

My Peeps

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In the interest of making your reading easier, following is a rundown of the cast of characters who will pepper the Ubutterfly blog. They are my family, my loves, my endless inspiration and, lamentably for them, fodder for my writing.

Pete (hubby)

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I have known this guy since I was 15. We met at the Livingston Mall in New Jersey outside of Merry Go Round (80s reference for you youngsters). Long story short – with lifetimes in between – we fell in love, broke up, reconnected, fell in love again, got married, bought a house and had three kids. Luckily for me, we keep falling in love. I know this makes me VERY fortunate and it may make you want to gag. BUT, believe me, we have tons of dysfunctions.   Who doesn’t??

I write about Pete a lot because he is almost always the impetus for me thinking about life in a different way. He is ridiculously wise, a perpetual optimist and an indefatigable giver.

He has been going through a metamorphosis of his own.  As a child, Pete was passionate about music. His uncle had an organ in his basement, and every weekend when Pete visited for Sunday dinner, he sat at the organ and tinkered. Every Sunday, on the drive home, Pete asked his parents for a piano. The answer was always no.

At age 20, Pete bartered for a piano with one of his landscaping customers. He moved it into his parent’s garage and taught himself how to play. Years later, upon request, I bought Pete a guitar for his 35th birthday.  It took him five years to muster the courage to remove it from its case. Those of you who play know the guitar is not an easy instrument to master. Most people suck for a long time before they get the hang of it. This can be daunting, especially when you are 40 years old and just starting to strum.

But Pete said a big yes to himself. Today, at age 47, with lessons, daily practice, and love, Pete is the musician he always wanted to be, writing and singing beautiful music with soulful lyrics (he is a poet and didn’t know it!). Maybe one day, I will post some audio – if he lets me. He is still working on that part …

Joseph (the first born)


Joseph is a sophomore at Virginia Tech. He is the reason Ubutterfly will have a lot of content about parenting teens. Because raising Joseph was rough. Not that he wasn’t a good kid. He was smart (read: too smart), focused on school, friends with a parent’s dream crowd and straight (as in no alcohol or drugs – though he did have a penchant for poker and get-rich-quick schemes).

He was for years quite the hostile force in our house, which made living with him like a walk through a minefield. Things were always blowing up.

Many of my maneuvers on our battleground were plain wrong. I hope Joseph has already forgotten the wars and understands I did the best I could with the skills I had at the time, and that we were always on the same side.

Anabelle (the girl)

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Anabelle will be going to college next year, dramatically shifting our ever-dwindling household to an estrogen-free zone (given that I no longer harbor even a trace of estrogen in my body thanks to breast cancer).

What’s a mother to do with her girl hundreds of miles away? I can’t think about it without crying. So I don’t think about it. Denial, baby! This is sometimes a good coping strategy.

Anabelle is the glue that holds us together. Enough said.

Lucky (the miracle baby)

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I’m sure my other two kids are sick to death of us referring to Lucky in this manner, but it’s true, so what the f***. Lucky came into this world 16 weeks early at a time when a 24-weeker was considered barely viable and a fetus born that young had a 50 percent chance of surviving, even when treated in a top NICU.

You will likely read more here about how this experience shaped us all. Needless to say, it was tough for many years, but the kind of tough that steels and softens you at the same time.

Lucky does not believe in limitations. A lesson for us all.

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