I’m busy enjoying my time with my daughter who is visiting during her college spring break, which means not much time for blogging.  For my Thursday post I simply recommend a blog I recently found called It’s Not About Dying.  The author of the blog lost his beautiful daughter to cancer some years back and is now writing about it on his blog.  If you have time, start reading from his very first post (he just started last month) called Chemical Therapy. 

You will be touched.  You will count your blessings.  I promise.

The phone call came while I was cuddled on the couch with Hub watching the late evening news.

“Mom.”  Huh’s voice was shaking.  “I’m calling you so that you don’t panic.  I was just in an accident on the freeway.  I’m okay.  I just didn’t want you to panic in case someone else calls you.”

I sat up and said, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“My head hurts, and my hand, but I am okay.  I have to go.  The cop wants to talk to me.”

And at that moment I knew I wouldn’t be going to bed after the evening news as originally planned.  The wait was made all the worse for me because Huh is out of state attending college and if she needed me, I could not get to her quickly.  I waited and after about 45 minutes Huh called back.  She only got part of the story out before she again had to talk to the police.  After another wait of an hour I called Huh, who was still at the scene of the accident, and got the rest of the story.

Huh and one of her friends had been driving to meet another friend.  As they drove on the freeway, Huh noticed a pickup truck and commented to her friend, “That guy is playing Pac Man.”  The truck was driving in two lanes so that the truck straddled the dotted line.  Then the truck started swerving and Huh knew he was a danger.  She sped up to pass him.  Later, when she was telling me the story, she said, “I almost made it, Mom.  I almost made it.”  Just as she was about to be completely past the truck, the driver swerved and hit the back driver’s side of Huh’s car.   The force of the hit started Huh’s car spinning.  Fortunately, Huh had one of her thumbs hooked around the steering wheel and as the steering wheel started to spin, one of the center bars on the steering wheel slammed into Huh’s thumb, thus stopping the steering wheel and Huh was able to regain control of her car and pull to the side of the road.  As she was doing so she looked in the rearview mirror and saw the pickup truck slam head-on into another car and then spin off and hit a third car.  Many people who witnessed the crash pulled over to be of assistance.  Huh and her friend, Tiana, were shaking as Tiana reached for her phone to call 911.  It was then that Huh saw the driver of the pickup truck get out of his truck, light a cigarette, and lean against his truck as if nothing had happened.

Huh saw red.  Adrenaline kicked in and the mean softball player side of my daughter came out.  She got out of her car, screamed in anger, clenched her fists, and strode toward the pickup driver.  “I was going to hit him, Mom,” she told me later.  “I really wanted to hit him.”  A quick thinking man who had pulled over intercepted my daughter before she could attack the pickup driver, told her she needed to calm down, and made her sit in his car until she did calm down.

Thankfully there were no deaths that night.  The worst injury was a gash on a lady’s forehead.  She was the only one transported to a hospital.  Huh and her friend both have whiplash, and burns from their seatbelts (thank heavens they were wearing them!) and Huh’s hand is swollen from the steering wheel slamming into it.  Her car sustained damage but is still drivable.  The other two cars had to be towed away.  The pickup driver was arrested at the scene for DUI.

Once I got the rest of the story and was assured that my daughter was okay, I went to bed.  It wasn’t until the next morning that both Huh and I really processed what had happened and realized how close she had come to major tragedy that night.

We have both thanked God in prayers that she was watched over and protected.  I wish she was here so I could give her a hug and really look her over to make sure she is okay.  I guess I will have to wait until spring break to do that.

I am so glad it was Huh calling me that night, and not an emergency services worker with bad news.

I will forever be grateful for that.

Nineteen years ago tomorrow, my beautiful daughter, Huh, was born.  I find it hard to believe she is going to be nineteen (how on earth did I become old enough to have a nineteen year-old????).

In my never-ending quest to make sure my kids learn how to do things on their own, I came up with a birthday gift for Huh that will give her confidence in something she has yet to do–until now.  Huh has flown with us on family vacations, and last year she flew with her softball team to Hawaii for a tournament, but she has never flown alone, or navigated an airport alone.  Tomorrow I am sending her off to Phoenix so that she can spend the week with her father.  And, yes, she is going alone.

She will get to check-in on her own, find security and her gate alone, board alone, maybe converse with her seatmate(s), and then retrieve her luggage on her own.  She can’t rent a car until she’s 21, so that life experience will have to come later.  Her dad will pick her up at the airport and take her back to his apartment.  The two of them have made plans to see the campus of the college he works for.  This is the same college that Huh has taken online courses from since her Senior year of college.  She is now half-way through her sophomore year of college, and just graduated from high school last June!  I’m proud of how quickly she’s moving, but there is a part of me that hopes she will fall in love with the campus and choose to go there, even if it’s only for a quarter.  I would love for her to experience campus life!  Sometimes boyfriends have too much of a pull, hence the reason she hasn’t gone to the campus before now.

But, even if Huh still chooses to continue with online courses, at least she will experience flying alone.  And, bonus, my sister lives in Phoenix and plans on picking her up a couple of times to do things with her family.  All in all, I think this is going to be a great experience for my daughter.  One thing the rest of us are jealous about is that Huh will get out of the icky, cold, inversion weather that Utah is experiencing now.  She even rubs it in that she plans on catching some rays while she is there.  🙂

Happy birthday, baby girl!  I love you!

I spotted the ponds on accident.  I wasn’t looking for rippling bodies of water, I was looking for vending machines.  My daughter’s dance competition was an hour behind schedule and I was hungry.  But as I passed through a glass hallway in search of food I saw the ponds.  They were obviously man-made, but I didn’t care.  They were the perfect spot to take some pictures of Hoob in her African dance costume before we left the campus for home.

Once Hoob had performed and had collected her trophy I asked her if she wanted to take pictures by the ponds.  She readily agreed.  The weather was gorgeous and the sun was just beginning to lower in the sky.  It was perfect for taking pictures.  I hadn’t brought my camera but we did have Hoob’s Flip video recorder.  She is more tech savvy than I am.  She knows how to upload the videos to the computer and then capture still pictures from them.  Hoob showed me how to work the Flip and we began filming.

Hoob did some dance moves and jumps and then she spotted the ducks.  My original intent was to film quickly and then leave so I could get Hoob back to her father (his weekend to have the kids).  But when Hoob spotted the duck families and the two little ducklings who had been separated from their families, I decided to relax and enjoy the moment with my daughter. 

The extra time I seized with my daughter included:

*The two of us following the ducklings and trying to coax them out of the water so that we could grab them and put them with their families.  The ducklings wouldn’t hear of it.  (Did you know that a duckling trying to get away from someone trying to grab it looks exactly like it is running on the water?)  

*Me filming Hoob as she tried to get close to the ugliest off-white goose we’ve ever seen (at least we think it was a goose, it was hanging out with a bunch of Canadian Geese).  The goose didn’t want Hoob too close so it kept running away.  Our film shows Hoob chasing the goose all over the lawn while it is making a funny honking noise.  It finally escaped by jumping into one of the ponds.

*Visiting some man-made waterfalls that were a short distance from the ponds.  I filmed Hoob doing some of her dance moves in front of the waterfalls and then I dared her to run across the cement “stepping stones” in front of one of the waterfalls.  There was some lady watching everything we were doing and I think Hoob thought she would get in trouble, but she finally took me up on my dare and ran across.  I think that is the fastest I have ever seen my daughter move.

*Hoob filming me strike different poses on a bench in front of one of the waterfalls.  My favorite pose is when I am hanging upside down off the back of the bench.

*Me filming Hoob posing with some bronze statues that we found near the waterfalls.  She pretended to dance with two men statues and did a silly pose pushing a girl statue away from a guy statue while covering the guy statue’s eyes.  Is this a sign that my daughter is going to be the jealous type?

*Stopping to enjoy swallows flying to and from their nests on one of the buildings on campus.  The upper deck where the birds have chosen to nest has been roped off and signs stating “Swallow Nesting Area-Please Do Not Disturb” have been placed in various locations.  We laughed at all the bird droppings on the railings and windows of the building.  It must be a treat to have class in that classroom.  Hoob tried filming the swallows as they flew out in a group, but they were too fast and quickly flew too far away to film.

As I drove home after our little adventure on campus I enjoyed hearing Hoob giggle as she watched what we’d filmed.  We both agreed that it had been fun.

When I got home after dropping Hoob off at her father’s house Hub had dinner (courtesy of Olive Garden) waiting by the lit fire pit on the patio.  (He is so awesome!)   As we ate, I told him of our adventure with geese, ducklings, and statues.  I mentioned that it is important to seize moments like that when they come so that memories can be made.  He agreed and told me of a time when his kids were younger and wanted to explore a cave near their house.  He took his kids and some of their friends to the cave and went exploring.  As they neared the back of the cave they could see something moving and then it ran at them.  They all ran screaming from the cave, the frightened squirrel beating them to the exit.

Creating memories is an important part of family life and building relationships.  Many times the moments aren’t planned but we need to be prepared to seize them and make the most of them.  “Take the time to smell the roses” is quoted often.  Yes, take the time to smell the roses, or chase a goose, or rescue some ducklings, or explore a cave, or have dinner by the fire with your honey.  The memories created will last a lifetime.   

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first.  When my daughter told me the plan that she and her friends had hatched, my natural inclination was to protect her.  After all, I’ve been “burned” plenty of times in my life.  I know what it’s like to be hurt and I like to think I can spot a scam and manipulation from a mile away.

The history:

My daughter, Mack, really struggled for the first few months at her new school.  Changing schools while a teenager can be devastating.  She felt alone and friendless, hated the teachers, and had no interest in excelling at anything.  She stuck it out (she had no choice) and began to make friends.  Once friends were in place, her attitude about school changed.  Her confidence returned.  She began to like the teachers and once again get good grades.  Seventy-four kids showed up to her birthday party.  (I had given permission for twenty).  On a social level things are going well for Mack.

Enter Hannah.  (To protect privacy, all names in this post have been changed).

I first became aware of Hannah when Mack mentioned a girl at school who always seemed sad.  She reported that the girl talked suicide and that she was worried about her.  The girl didn’t have many friends.  In fact, most of the kids at school considered her strange.  We didn’t know the girl’s family so I advised Mack to tell the school counselor about Hannah’s comments and encouraged her to be her friend.  I didn’t hear much more about Hannah except for the occasional report that she still seemed sad.

Then last week Mack announced that she and three of her friends, Nikki, Lisa, and Becca, had decided to take Hannah shopping at the mall.  They felt that a few new clothes might cheer Hannah up.  Hannah had mentioned that her mother couldn’t afford to buy her new clothes and so she always wore hand-me-downs.  Each of the girls planned to donate her own money to the shopping trip.

I was worried.  I didn’t know Hannah or her history.  What if it was all an act?  Fueling my skepticism were recent news reports about panhandling in our area by teenagers who claim to be homeless but really aren’t.  Many people have bought into their sob story and have given them money.  Mack has to earn the money she receives by babysitting and doing extra chores, she doesn’t have an endless supply of the green stuff.  Was she about to throw her hard earned cash away on a lie?  Manipulation?  A scam? 

I know my daughter’s heart.  She genuinely cares about other people.  In grade school she stood up repeatedly for an autistic boy who was the butt of many cruel jokes.  Because Mack knows what it feels like to be alone and without friends, she has empathy for anyone in the same situation.  She truly seemed concerned for Hannah.

Still, the mother instinct to protect was in place.  “How do you know she can’t afford new clothes?”

For Mack the issue wasn’t the clothes or the money.  “Mom, she is so excited that we are doing this.  She even put on her MySpace page that some friends are taking her shopping.  Some of the kids at school are teasing us for doing this.  They think Hannah is weird.  But we don’t care.  We are going to do it anyway.”  The issue for Mack was that someone desperately needed some friends.

On Saturday the girls all met at Lisa’s house then walked together to Hannah’s house.  Lisa’s mom provided the transportation to the mall.  While at the mall they decided to let Hannah have a mini makeover.  In order for the makeover to be “free” they had to make a purchase.  Mack bought Hannah some eye shadow.  Then they visited some of their favorite stores.  Nikki and Becca pooled money in one store for a new outfit for Hannah, and then Mack and Lisa did the same in another store.

Mack was excited when she returned home from the outing.  “Hannah was sooooo happy!  She kept thanking us over and over.”

Hannah wore the new clothes to school on Monday and Tuesday.  Mack says that whenever Hannah sees any of the girls in the hall she runs up and gives them a hug and claims they are her new best friends.  I asked Mack if the other kids at school were still teasing and making fun of Mack and the others for taking Hannah shopping.  Mack says she hasn’t heard any negative comments.  She also says that she feels happier inside after having served Hannah.

I am so proud of my daughter and her friends and I am glad I didn’t stand in their way.  A new friend has been made, compassion has been developed, and a girl has been cheered.  The girls exhibited courage by not backing down to peer pressure to forget serving Hannah.  Not only was a good example set for the kids at school, a good example was set for me. 

The lessons I learned:  Don’t judge.  Serve anyway.  And don’t stand in the way of your kids if they are showing courage and taking the initiative to show compassion and empathy to someone else.

Lessons learned.  Lessons lived.