The gift that keeps on giving.

 It is often difficult to navigate this life without parents. I know there are far too many of us out there who were “orphaned” as young adults, and it’s a club in which no one want to belong. That being said, I think it’s even more emotional to navigate life without your mother.  This becomes even more challenging when you become a mother yourself and often need and want some comforting advice from someone you love and trust. 

The holidays are especially difficult, but each year when I find my heart hurting a bit I distract my sadness by surrounding it with thoughts of my own children - and am reminded of how much joy they bring me.  Now that we aren’t fighting about the wrong Christmas presents, curfews and other teenage trials, the happiness bubbles right to the top of my heart.  

This year, I received an unexpected surprise that brought me so much joy. A few months ago my cousin Greg reached out to me and told me that he was in possession of his mother’s high school prom gown. He thought this might be of particular significance to me, because apparently my mother had purchased this prom gown in France for my aunt to wear to her prom. We were living in Nice, France at the time when my father was stationed there as a part of the JAG division of the Sixth Fleet. My mother bought the gown for my aunt, and had it shipped to her in time for her prom. I never knew this story, and was stunned. 

My cousin then went on to say that the dress was going to be passed to one of his four daughters, none of whom ever appeared interested in wearing it to any of their proms. They are tall, athletic beauties who never fit into my aunt’s petite dress. That, or it simply wasn’t their style. 

He then asked me if I would like to have the dress, since my mother had been the one to purchase it.  I was ecstatic! Of course I wanted it! I immediately began looking for an old fashioned dress form that I could use to display the dress.  

I went to many antique shops until I found the perfect dress form. I had to squeeze and push together the rusted pieces of metal used to expand and squeeze together the various parts of the form in order to get the dress to fit on the form. My aunt was very tiny and petite when she went to her prom - her waist must have been 22 inches! 

Now as I look upon the beautiful dress, I think of what my mother must have felt when she went looking for this for her sister. It must have filled her heart with joy to be able to do this for her. My mother, a young woman from a small coal mining town in the middle of the mountains of Pennsylvania was now the wife of a Navy lawyer living in the south of France- where she went shopping for a beautiful dress so that her sister- still living in that tiny coal mining town- could wear something special to her high school prom. 



The cement jungle. (And it really is a small world.)

Fred and I often bike ride in the mornings now, and we travel the one road that takes us from Rum Point through Old Man Bay and down towards East End here in Grand Cayman.  The island has only a few main roads that take you from one end of the island, all the way around to the other end.  There is one point where you can cut across the middle of the island, and that means that the road from the half-way point from one end along the coast to our end is typically somewhat deserted. 

We have made the drive many, many times around East End, as this is the way to the Health City hospital where Fred had both his hips replaced. (At different times, fortunately.)  It’s a beautiful drive, but to be honest there are no drives on this island that are not amazing.  

Each time we are on this particular stretch of Queen’s Highway, we are amazed by one particular yard that we pass.  It’s a large sandy yard that stretches for almost half of a football field, and is filled with amazing sculptures.  

There is a large sign in front of the yard, near the road, that welcomes anyone passing to park and admire the sculptures.  One day last week when biking I took them up on their offer! Fred and I stopped and placed our bikes in the little parking area and walked from sculpture to sculpture. I was floored at the beauty and whimsy, and found many more pieces tucked here and there that weren’t as large and obvious as the ones you can easily see from the road. 

There were Cayman chickens and roosters, iguanas, an octopus and so many other things that are native to the islands.   I took as many pictures as time would allow, and then we went on our way to continue our bike ride. We’ve seen this yard so many times, and I was so pleased that I stopped to take a closer look. 

Last night we made our cocktails, and walked across the street to watch the sunset. We try to do this every single night, as it gives us a chance to reflect on the day.  It also is a nice way for us to slow down and remember how very grateful we are to be able to be here in among this beauty and serenity. We certainly don’t take a single day for granted.  

As we made our way back across the beach with our neighbors, we noticed a couple carrying a cooler and making their way to their car which was parked right next to our unit. As we approached them they said hello, and we said hello back. 

“Wasn’t that a gorgeous sunset?” we remarked. 

“Yes! And this is the first time since we've been back on island that we’ve left our own place to come over here,” they said. “We live over towards East End.” 

“Oh,” said Fred, “We ride our bikes that way almost every day. Which house is yours?” 

“We live in the house that has the cement jungle.” 

Fred and I both looked a bit confused, and they added, “You know, the place with the sculptures!” 

“Oh My God!” I said. “We were just taking pictures there the other day! We love going by your place!” 

“Well, I am Dave and this is Kathy.  Please, please stop and chat with us the next time you go by. We would love to chat with you. You can also see the NEW creation I am working on!” 

And, because I wanted to believe him, we assured him that we would stop. I couldn’t believe that the only other people watching the sunset that night at Rum Point was the couple from the coolest yard on the island.  I can’t WAIT to hear his story, and find out what magical creature will be popping up next in his magical cement jungle! Stay tuned!


When the birds fly the nest and try new things.. (Aka Sassy's new project)

Those of you who have been following this blog for the last bazillion years, know the characters who are the loves of my life. It’s been an interesting journey watching as Bitchy, Sassy and The Golden Boy grow into respectable, hard working adults. The road has been bumpy and twisted, laden with heartbreak, frustration, joy and awe. (Not necessarily in that order.) Anyone with children knows exactly what I mean- and can understand why this blog was named vodkamom. Anyone without children is probably a bit richer, calmer and undoubtably very well-traveled. But that’s another story. Today I want to send a shout out to Sassy- who is showing amazing courage by hosting her own Podcast. This is a grand feat for someone who has suffered from anxiety for most of her life. To say I am proud of her is an understatement. Most of you might know that our relationship has been tested over the years. However, the love you have for your child is the strongest tether known to man - and we have found our way back to each other and are stronger for it. Back to Sassy’s story. She has started a Podcast called Sippin’ with Sassy, and you can find it where ever you download your podcasts. Do me a huge favor and give her a go. This mom would appreciate it. And, thanks for coming back every now and then. It’s beautiful to hear from old friends who have weathered many a storm with this old vodkamom.