25 Days of Giving Day Five: Ask Someone’s Opinion

Standard

Everyone wants to be heard. When you really listen to another person (like, drop the cell phone, tune out your surroundings, serious eye contact kind of focus) whether it’s a spouse, friend, child, client, or stranger, you take a meaningful step toward making them feel important.

With this thought in mind the Challenge for Day Five is to ask someone’s opinion. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some hypothetical questions ripped straight from today’s headlines. Sort of.

1. “Is the U.S secretly attempting to bankrupt Russia’s economy with low gas prices or is some jokester in the Department of Energy really just trying to get Vladimir Putin to take off his shirt?

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Image via huffpost.com

2. “Are you gonna get the new vaccine for that STD, gingivitis?”

This book is the gift that keeps on giving for the guy in your life who has it all. Image via amazon.com. Seriously.

3. “What do you think about ending all of the partisan politics in D.C. and making Las Vegas the capital of the United States?”

Winning ticket for 2016? Image via backstagebusiness.wordpress.com

4. “What do you think your limited edition, autographed Bill Cosby album is worth now?”

“and then I became…a sexual predator.” Image via phillymag.com

5. “What do you think about Obamacare?” (Just kidding. If you like your teeth, don’t ask anyone this question. Ever.)

“Whatevs dude. I paid for these myself.” Image via reveal.co.uk.

So that’s it. Today’s task should be simple. Make it a point to let someone be heard because it’s a gift of grace, understanding, acceptance, and respect…four things we could all use a lot more of in this world.

* I googled “everyone wants to be heard” after I used it as my opening line, and apparently, it’s is a quote from Oprah’s last show. I didn’t see that show, but I love Oprah, so I’m hereby giving her credit for the quote and volunteering to pick up where she left off as the most loved person in America. If I also become insanely rich by doing this good deed? All the better.

** When I introduced the giving topic of the day to my children this morning, my selfie-oriented, Teen Vogue-obsessed middle child wanted to know if she could ask someone’s opinion of the outfit she’s wearing to school. This is not the kind of interactive engagement I’m looking for.

*** For those of you who are new to Gemini Girl in a Random World, I write in two distinct voices on this blog. I know, right? I’m totally creeped out too. Anyway, the snarkier side of my voice generally comes out when I’m writing late at night, when I need to take an emotional break from my softer side, when it’s that time of the month, or all of the above. So there.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Four: Find the Silver Lining

Standard

When I was two years old my parents got divorced. I was lucky in a way, because at the time I was too young to understand that separation, at it’s most basic level, is the physical manifestation of pain being split in two.

By the time I’d turned five Mom had remarried. We left Atlanta, where our entire family was from, and moved to Louisville, where I ultimately grew up. Back then, fathers didn’t have the same parenting rights as today, so with a brand new puppy under one arm and a pack of candy cigarettes in my hand, I waved goodbye to my father as my stepdad’s sleek, silver Thunderbird rolled down the driveway, through Tennessee (“See Rock City!”), and toward a new life.

As time went by, pieces of my old family became seedlings for another, and when my amazing baby brother was born, my new family was complete, but in a different kind of way. There was someone else present who, even though he wasn’t part of this new unit, was still in the mix because he was attached to me.

My father.

I wouldn’t say things were perfect between my mother and father, because even when bad memories fade they leave a scar. But Mom always held the door open for visits, and my father never missed an opportunity to take any time with me that she was willing to share.

As years passed and I became increasingly comfortable with my family dynamics, I began to see myself as lucky, even though it wasn’t always easy. I was a Whitten and everyone else I lived with was a Logan, I felt like a misfit in the world of seemingly perfect families on my block, and I sometimes had to paint a smile on my face when all I wanted to do was cry. But intermingled with the sad was something that no other kid I knew could match. Not only did I have one great dad, I had two, with different but equally important ideas, strengths, influences, opinions, and dreams…and one huge commonality. They both loved me, in a way that only a father can. Times two.

So the challenge, for Day Four, is to find the silver lining in a bad situation or event. In some unfortunate incidents it simply doesn’t exist, which, regrettably, is the true definition of tragedy. But in many cases, good can be salvaged from bad. If you can find happiness in something that at first only brought pain, it’s a gift to yourself that never goes away.

Divorce, like life, is complicated. It’s messy and raw, and carefully drawn colors end up bleeding outside the lines. Sometimes though, if we’re lucky, the things that hurt most end up helping us in the end.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, impress, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Three: Free Up Some Space

Standard

It never fails that when I’m in line at Costco with a double-wide full of everything I don’t need, some guy is patiently standing behind me with three packages of flan. So I step aside.

My definition of purgatory. Image via homelyplanet.com

I’m always surprised at how appreciative people are when I let them go first, but when I think about it more deeply, I realize that I’m always rushing, pressed for time, often trying to fit way too much into a day that simply can’t stretch beyond the bounds of a ticking clock. And so is everyone else.

When you give up space, you’re literally telling someone that for the moment you consider their needs more important than yours. It’s such a simple connection point and serves as a tangible way to tell somebody, often a stranger, that they matter.

So for Day Three I’m asking you to let someone else go first. Whether it’s a spot in line, a parking space at the mall, or simply pausing to let the person behind you walk through the door ahead of you, give it a try. It’s a kindness that costs next to nothing, and you’ll find that the reward is truly worth the wait.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Two: Say Thank You

Standard

Thank you. Why are two of the simplest words in the English language sometimes so hard to say?

When I was a senior in high school, I applied to two colleges. The first was the school I was destined to attend. The second? An afterthought, just in case the world’s largest sink hole, triggered by a flying unicorn tethered to an alien spacecraft piloted by Tom Cruise, happened to swallow my first choice whole.

Image via ewrewd.files.wordpress.com

That didn’t happen. Instead I was wait-listed, which for me, was the equivalent of being tethered to an alien spacecraft piloted by Tom Cruise. After getting the news, I became completely unmoored and sullen, sequestering myself in my closet with Erasure’s Oh L’Amour pounding through the headphones of my Sony Mega Bass Sports Walkman over, and over, and over.

After about a week of intense suffering, understood only by Sting via his howling lyrics on King of Pain (which was also in heavy rotation on the cassette player in my car), my dad told me to shower, put on some clean clothes, and pull out my 1/2 inch curling iron…it was time for a father-daughter road trip.

Somehow, we ended up at Miami University that day, and before I knew what was happening, I found myself face-to-face with the Dean of Admissions, better known as The Dream Crusher. I sat, immobilized by fear, as Dad listed virtues I didn’t even know I had in his pitch to get me a spot in the incoming freshman class. This wonderful man, who had never, not once in my eighteen years of life, raised his voice against me was raising it for me, to the roof.

If you asked, Dad would tell you what he did was no big deal, and that he really just wanted to create some space between himself and my constant feed of synthesizer-heavy, sappy songs. But I disagree. I think what he did was extraordinary. He stood up for me at a time in life when I didn’t know how to stand up for myself and taught me that when you want something to change, the first thing you do is ask. Huge lessons on a short road trip that got me into the school of my dreams and altered the course of my life. For that?

Thank you Dad.

Untitled-25

My Dad

If you can, make today’s thank you a little special. Think about something you’ve left unsettled, listen to the voice inside your head that never sleeps (I have about twelve), and dig a little deeper under the surface of obvious. Thank you. Two simple words that, the more you say, the easier they are to pronounce.

***

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent scheduled programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, impress, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

 

25 Days of Giving Day One: Pay A Stranger A Compliment

Standard

Greetings from the land of Gemini Girl in a Random World, better known as Siberia. It’s that time of year again, and instead of posting porn-inspired Elf on the Shelf pictures like everyone else you’re connected to on Facebook, I thought I’d try something new this holiday season.

This is not my idea of a good time. Image via fb-troublemakers.com

Inspired by a genuine lack of desire to fill our family advent house with candy (soooo pre-gluten-free 2011), I decided it was time to mix things up a little and stuff each tiny compartment with a good deed. I’ll admit that at first, my children were disappointed with the change, but there’s nothing like the threat of carefully placed, age-inappropriate mom comments on their Instagram feeds to get everyone moving in the same direction.

After working through the 25 days of kindness-inspired tasks for my kids to fulfill, I thought…”Why not extend the invitation to do good to friends, family, and the thousands of three people who still follow my blog?” So if you’re here, right now, reading this post instead of maxing out your credit card buying stuff during the Cyber Monday free shipping window that you can conveniently access on every single other day of the year? You’re in the club.

So here we are at Day One: Pay A Stranger A Compliment. I chose something easy this morning because it’s the simplest things in life that are most meaningful. O.K. I just made that up. In reality, a pyramid scheme full of cash raining down on you from selling fake annuities to the elderly can be pretty great too, but I’m pressed for time.

IMG_5338_2

It feels good to do good. Plain and simple. So join me on my journey to make someone happy today by paying a stranger a compliment, because it’s fun, easy, and your smile will be as wide as the person you choose to help.

***

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent scheduled programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, impress, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving option will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

How Real Winners Turn March Madness Into a Billion Dollar Payday

Standard

It’s that time of year again when the U.S. male population exists solely on pork rinds, queso, and Miller Light, worker productivity falls 3,000%, and people stop spitting on math majors.

“I just love March Madness!” Image via lifestyleet.com

That’s right, March Madness is here, and with it, your chance to skim a billion dollars right out of Warren Buffet’s polyester pants by creating a perfect NCAA tournament bracket.

Who needs a bitcoin when you have a million freaskishly huge bags of cash? Image via gstatic.com

Everyone knows that with the right guidance and a lot of tequila, a billion dollar bracket is yours for the making. Because Gemini Girl likes winners (and pretty people with shiny teeth) I’m here to show you a foolproof method to do something considered statistically impossible by everyone at Berkshire Hathaway, Yahoo, and His Emperorship, USSR Czar Vladimir Putin (er, I mean President of Russia and someday soon, the world).

“I pick Republic of Florida to win tourney, then I get on boat, invade nude beaches, and steal most happiest place on earth for Mother Russia!” Image via businessinsider.com

A Number’s Just a Number Until it’s a Winning Powerball Ticket

Everyone thinks bracket rankings are meaningful, but Gemini Girl says don’t believe the hype. Just because Florida’s only been to the tournament once (1 Florida) and Coastal Carolina’s been, like, sixteen times (16 Coastal Car.) doesn’t necessarily mean the Coastal Chanticleers should be in your final four. Why? Because their mascot is from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and everyone who took A.P. English knows that book blows. Any team represented by a Middle English rooster is a guaranteed first round loser, plus, the only mascot I’d ever put money on is Smeagol.

Smeagol invested his tourney winnings in Lebron James. Image via dailypicksandflicks.com

Never Underestimate the Well-Endowed Team

Not the cheerleaders, the school with serious cash on hand. Cheerleaders are athletes too so stop laughing.

They’re real, and they’re spectacular! Image via cracked.com

Anyway, everyone knows that in order to build a successful college basketball program, you have to provide recruits with a lot of Benzies, babes, and weed. Not every deep-pocket donor feels comfortable carpooling to the local strip club with a freshman phenom though, and that’s where an institution’s endowment really comes into play. According to Forbes magazine, Harvard has more money than the entire GDP of the USSR (we all know that’s exactly where Putin is going, so don’t be a hater).

“First I take Republic of Mickey Mouse then I sneak up lazy river to take capital of U.S.A…Las Vegas!” Image via businessinsider.com.

If you ask Gemini Girl, deep-pocket donors = recruit lap dances = Letters of Intent  = guaranteed Final Four appearance. Get it? All those math majors who think anyone cares about their groundbreaking algorithms can suck it. Combine Harvard’s greenbacks with the fact that they’ve appeared in the tournament twelve times (12 Harvard), and you’ve got a combo that’s screaming final four.

This dude loves throwing cash around at Juicy Lucy’s, but don’t tell the Tea Party I said so. Image via datingolders.com.

When in Doubt, Go to Your Happy Place

Sometimes the NCAA men’s selection committee throws everyone for a loop and chooses a team no one’s ever heard of, like Nebraska, probably because Warren Buffet paid them all off. A lot of people don’t realize it’s even a state, and since most guys I know cut geography in high school to go smoke weed with the freshman basketball phenom, things can get a little confusing when trying to make winning first round picks that include areas of the country which might not even be real.

Not a basketball phenom. Image via perezhilton.com

In order to maximize efficiency and minimize the likelihood of the dude in the cubicle next to you who wears a Dennis Rodman Bulls jersey to work, like, every day calling you a poser, use Gemini Girl’s Word Association Tool to make perfect first round tourney picks.

“I’m so Russdiculous!” Image via baconsports.com

Example 1

Memphis: Elvis

George Washington: Wig

Word Association Winner? Elvis

 Example 2

Oregon: Duck

BYU: Polygamy

Word Association Winner? Polygamy

Example 3

Colorado: Weed

Pittsburgh: Blah

Word Association Winner? Weed

“March whhaaattt?” Image via thejointshop.blogspot.com

It’s like, freakishly easy, right?

So there you have it. As soon as you gather all of your well-endowed friends at a random happy place to buy a winning lottery ticket you’re pretty much guaranteed a perfect tournament bracket. But please, don’t tell anyone that Gemini Girl gave you the winning edge. Tell everyone. Then cut me in on 15% of your pre-tax earnings and get me an autographed picture of Warren Buffet (but if you have to use the Word Association Winner tool in an either/or scenario, I’ll take the cash).

***

If you’d like to fill out a 2014 NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket and win $1,000,000,000, go here: How to fleece Warren Buffet!

If you’d like to find the closest strip club to your office, go here: Don’t tell my girlfriend!

If you think Nebraska is ground zero for paranormal activity, go here: Nebraska is for losers!

Some Thoughts on America’s Newest Slopestyle Skiing Stars

Standard

I don’t know much about Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, or Nick Goepper other than what I’ve recently seen on TV, but in these games, populated by controversy and tinged in gray, I don’t really need to.

What I need is to remember why The Olympics, for more years than I can count, have inspired excellence in everyone from the occasional enthusiast to the lifelong athlete.

What I need is a human talisman (or three) to push me. One more rep. One more run. One more attempt to go somewhere, to get better, to reach a goal.

What I need is to believe that anything’s possible.

What I need are true role models for my children, three suddenly familiar faces smiling from a cereal box who possess an unscripted purity that can’t be calculated in an increasingly anonymous and murky digital world.

What I need is proof positive that you’re never out until you say so, and that victory is as close as you believe it to be.

What I need is to embrace second chances, to stand up when I fall down and try again.

What I need is to focus not on what I say, but what I do.

What I need is a reason to remember that any dream can come true with enough work, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice.

What I need is to unplug, tune in, and gather my family around to do something no one seems to value as much as they used to. The simple act of being together, cheering together, and yes, crying together as our flag flies high in the sky and three sets of tear-rimmed eyes smile up at the manifestation of everything they always knew could be.

What I need is to remember these names: Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, and Nick Goepper. They’ve achieved something that won’t necessarily define their lives, but will punctuate them in a rare consortium of color that few are ever able to see.

What I need to remember is simple. Life is good.

Image via gannett-cdn.com

How to Party Like A Pro This Holiday Season

Standard

It’s that time of the year again when truckloads of invitations get dumped on the doorstep and you’re forced to ditch your Juicy sweats for spandex and a pair of sparkly shoes. Following are my tried and true tips to make this holiday season the most festive ever, especially if you’re new to the neighborhood or spend a lot of time in the garage whittling Star Wars figurines.

There are so many things wrong with this picture I don’t know where to begin. Image via blogspot.com.

1. When choosing which party to attend on any given night, steer clear of the District Attorney’s house. Nobody wants to hear that you lit it up with the county D.A., and by nobody I mean anyone who’s ever been the subject of a body cavity search or watched an episode of Breaking Bad. Partying with any law enforcement officer will make your friends feel sick and squeamish, especially the ones who accidentally forgot to pay child support for the last six years.

What do we have in here? Image via digitaljournal.com

2. Always take a posse to a holiday party, especially when the invitation has an ice luge on the cover. Generally speaking, people with enough money to blow on things like disposable sculptures don’t have a lot of friends because they’re too busy making enough money to blow on things like disposable sculptures. You’ll be doing the host a favor by bringing thrill seeking add-ons who’ll K.O. all the Finlandia in the house and yell “Hit that dawg!” at the top of their lungs every five minutes.

Some of us have happier holidays than others. Image via blogspot.com

3. Everyone has a creepy uncle who doesn’t get out of the house much because he’s too busy grooming his stuffed hamster collection. To cut back on those noxious fumes coming from the basement, send him over to the D.A.’s party with your regrets. By doing so, you’ll simultaneously perform a random act of kindness and keep your family’s name off the police scanner in 2014. It might be nice to tape a note on his back with his iPhone passcode just in case he gets lost or someone wants to do a random screenshot search.

That’s not my uncle. Image via kindofcreepy.com

4. When it’s time to carb load, skip the prime rib station and head straight to the host’s pantry. That’s where you’ll find the good stuff, like Funions, and the adult toys Santa plans to put in a secret stocking the kids have already found, taken pictures of, and Snapchatted around the entire middle school with the tag “My parents know how to party!”.

Guess what? The pic you just took on Snapchat is gonna be around a lot longer than 10 seconds. Image via businessinsider.com

5. It’s important to hydrate at holiday social events because the secret to getting asked back next year is to look really hot. To give your skin a soft, dewy glow, try supplementing Jager Bombs with a Michelob Ultra every now and again.  A 5:1 ratio is usually the perfect mix for me, but you might want to go something like 7:1 on account of all that excess hair.

On second thought, just stick with tequila. Image via clinicaladvisor.com

6. Everyone loves a party guest who commandeers the Kenny Loggins Christmas station and slips in a custom-made playlist, especially if the self-proclaimed mix master is wearing a lot of make-up and no pants.

Who says Miley Cyrus doesn’t make good choices? Image via media2.onsugar.com

7. When the party’s winding down and it’s time to go home? Everyone loves unexpected overnight guests, especially the ones who pass out on the ice luge. To make yourself a little more inconspicuous and give your host a holiday surprise in the morning, try crawling into the dog kennel. It’s cozy, padded, and if you happen to throw up a little while you’re in there? You and my creepy uncle will be the only ones who know.

Surprise! Image via theblaze.com

Happy Holidays from everyone at the Gemini Girl in a Random World staff, which is pretty much just me and my mom.

How To Put The “Me” In Just About Every Meal

Standard

Thanksgiving is here, and while many aspiring at-home chefs dream of salt pigs, Crisco, and Paula Deen, I’m trying to decide how to kick my relatives out of the house so I can focus on the one holiday each year that really matters.

My Birthday.

Yum.

In order to plan the secret getaway my husband will surprise me with next June, I need time. And space. And solitude. I also need money, but I’m pretty much gonna leave that one up to him.

Since airfare is cheapest right around 5:00 p.m. (and a rainbow unicorn will clean the kitchen before everyone gets here in a few hours), I need to focus on avoiding a connection through O’Hare at the exact time every afternoon that I should be whipping up a wheatgrass shake, some raw calf liver, and a side of kimchee for my kids.

Yum.

Most mothers have a hard time prioritizing themselves over everyone else, but I’ve pretty much gotten it down, probably because I’m left handed. And a fast learner. And desperate.

Anyway, following is my six-step plan to put the focus where it should be on Thanksgiving and just about every other day of the year. Yourself. You can thank me later, preferably in American Express Travelers Cheques that are pretty much untraceable and can be used to upgrade my seats.

1. Decide, after nine years of looking at the same kitchen table, that it’s time for a change. Like Obamacare, claim your new table is meant to include everyone, even though it’s really just intended for the few citizens who can hack their way through a complex matrix of broken code and steal all your bitcoins. That’s right, angry Russian expats.

2. Refinish above-referenced sad piece of furniture with something that takes 30 days to cure. So what if you realize you can’t use it for a month only after you’ve slathered your table with it? It might contain asbestos, kryptonite, non-soluble gluten particles, or something equally hazardous to your family’s health. Don’t try to bend the rules and serve a meal on day 25.

IMG_1958

Come eat at my new table and prepare to die.

3. Find some big, androgynous, shiny, circlet-like decorations that could be Thanksgivingish but are probably some designer’s attempt at an Ambien-inspired joke. Place them right in the middle of the table, rendering it fully inoperable.

This could be a thought-provoking centerpiece or ground zero for your next garage sale.

This could be a thought-provoking centerpiece or ground zero for your next garage sale.

4. Tell the kids that if they touch your new, expensive table art you’ll take their phones. Just for fun, go a step further and tell them that if they touch anything belonging to you, you’ll erase all their apps. This should make it virtually impossible for them to Snapchat their friends about your secret stash of painkillers.

5. Accidentally misplace the keys to the refrigerator. That’s right. Don’t be a hater.

6. And on Thanksgiving, when everyone in America is running around trying to find the instructions to their infrared thermometers? Sit back, relax, and dream about my birthday, because when you have a table no one else can use, you’re pretty much relegated to a bottle of wine and a store-bought pie.

If you don’t know what a bitcoin is, go here, buy one, and send it to me for my birthday.

This is a Simple Story About Love

Standard

All a mother wants, above and beyond anything else in life, is for her child to be happy. It’s a subliminal inclination fueled by emotion, like the echo of a throb…a primal instinct driven by that first, curious flutter in the womb.

And it never goes away.

My grandmother is no different from any other mother in this respect, even though her youngest was born with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Unable to breathe, my Aunt Micki was rushed to a nurse instead of Grandmother’s open arms while doctors worked to change Micki’s color from a pallid shade of blue to something that looked a little more like life.

Micki survived only to suffer her first seizure when she was nine months old. It was the earliest of many signs that something about her seemed different. Abnormal. Uncommon. Not right.

As months turned into years, “different” transitioned to “retarded,” a term loaded with so much meaning that it overflowed, creating a non-navigable chasm between Micki and other kids her age. Words can be transformative in both good ways and bad, and “retarded” became a life-size label that would shade just about everything she did, starting with the length of the bus she boarded for school.

Both Grandmother and Micki learned to move under a cloak of filtered light that could only throw shadows on the stolen glances and downcast eyes of the world at large. Yet in those everyday moments where growth can’t really be measured, the bond between mother and daughter grew.

Given enough time, life will teach you that the only thing you can count on is change. Yet Micki’s role never has. She is and always will be my grandmother’s constant companion. Not her retarded companion, just a loving daughter and friend.

When my mom left home for college, Micki stayed. When my uncle took the same path seven years later, Micki stayed. When my grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-one, Micki stayed.

We don’t use the word “retarded” anymore, or at least, we don’t admit it when we do. From my grandmother’s perspective, that word has always misrepresented her youngest child. If you ask, she’ll say Micki came into the world just the way she was supposed to be.

Today, at almost ninety-three, the time-honored light in Grandmother’s eyes is fading. She’s more feeble now than even a few years ago, and bones that used to bend under the weight of life now break. Yet she pauses and lingers longer than most because her remaining purpose sits beside her, quietly holding her hand. Theirs is silent proof that under the right conditions, the narrative of a love story can last forever.

My grandmother will tell you that she’s here today because of youngest child. Not her abnormal, uncommon, retarded child, but her sweet, loving, beautiful daughter.

She’s not a surgeon, or a star, or even that girl from high school you wish you still knew. Yet if you ask Micki if she’s happy, she’ll nod her head and reply, “Yes. Yes I am.”

You don’t have to ask Grandmother the same question. The answer is obvious in the way she looks at her daughter, without bias or pity or doubt. To a mother, a child is simply a child and love is just love. Micki is her life’s greatest gift. We should all be so lucky.

On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government. This measure, known as Rosa’s Law, strips the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education, and labor policy. According to the World Health Organization, about 15 percent of the world’s population — or 785 million people — has a significant physical or mental disability. 

For anyone accustomed to my attempts at more humorous, light-hearted posts, I’ll be back next week to talk about either what I found in my neighbor’s trash, or the time I spent in my version of prison, or both. These topics aren’t remotely related, but probably should be.