Monday, November 16, 2009

rob & wayne

Our journey began in the early 70s and it is interesting how people in our lives were interwoven with each other. My brother Bo and Wayne's brother Bob were friends. My best friend, Jan, was Wayne's neighbor and their moms, Helen and Dottie, were best friends. When I was in Girl Scouts we had a luncheon at Polonia Grove celebrating our accomplishments and our entertainment was the local karate academy. Wayne was one of the performers and I was the one my fellow scouts called upon to break a board. Wayne held the board for me and I broke it (with his assistance, of course, but we kept the illusion.) Later we would become tae kwon do black belts together with our sons. Our friends met up at stand federal bank parking lot at night. We usually had 20 cars parked most evenings while we listened to the latest music by Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Humble Pie, et al. I didn't get to see Wayne much at first since I had an early curfew and he worked most nights and did not arrive til 8:30. We were ships passing. I did not date many guys for I was usually more of a friend and knew all their secrets and what jerks they were. Wayne was different. I knew. When I did see Wayne, we talked for hours about school and music and I watched him play softball. He was leaving for his annual family vacation and I loaned him my Deep Purple 8 track for the trip. When he returned, he was wearing burgundy jeans and a white tee shirt with a deep tan. My friend, Cindy, and I were drooling but I called dibs first. Wayne and I hit it off while listening to Allman Bros. Statesboro Blues and that night it was official. Friday, August 10, 1973 standing by the window in Ken Szeredy's home. Our chemistry was off the charts and Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On was on the radio of his green 1973 Camaro when he drove me home (2 blocks.) We courted for 7 years before tying the knot on June 7, 1980. During this time we got most of the kinks out of our relationship which provided for a smooth marriage. The courtship was not easy for we were to learn life holds many challenges especially when you have family members involved.

Wayne and his Dad built a love nest in their attic and we spent our time together listening to music and making out in that room. Helen was not thrilled with me at first, even going so far as calling me a slut. I worked very hard to try to win her over and when she broke her arm I helped by ironing for her. I was fortunate to have George in my corner at that time. She was going through a rough patch with her current daughter-in-law and was leery of any woman moving in on her sons. I was determined to make it work as I loved her son and expressed this to him one night while listening to Allman Bros. Stormy Monday. I still get tingles whenever I hear this song. I go back. It was reciprocated and our story began.

Wayne was fiercely bonded to his family and especially to his younger brother, Bobby. At first we got along, but after Wayne started spending more time at my house and less time with him, he resented me and unfortunately this escalated into ugliness. He would break little mementos I gave Wayne and even spit on me. For many years Wayne ignored his antics hoping he would come around and I knew blood was thicker than water. After a few years of being abused by his brother, Wayne finally realized he had to step in and put his foot down. It did not matter for now Bobby was becoming ill. He was using and selling drugs at an early age, he even raised mj plants in the attic, but he was a genius in school and only 3 credits shy of graduating with honors at Loyola University when he had a mental breakdown. After numerous violent episodes, calling cops and visits to Madden mental facility, Bob was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. We found spoons and journals with unbelievable rantings and delusions written in them. He did not sleep and refused to take care of his hygiene. Helen and George were older parents and this really took its toll on them physically and emotionally. They were old school so it was up to me and Wayne to help them realize he needed help beyond their love and support. The hardest part for us was watching their hearts break during this ordeal. It crushed George and I am convinced this was a catalyst for his premature death. Bob continued to harass me and Wayne pretty much disowned him which added further heartache. By this time I was glad to finally have his support. He was not Wayne's best man at our wedding and gave a snide remark during our reception toast.

We had a routine on Saturdays as our schedules were filled during the week with school, work and band rehearsals. We spent the mornings cleaning our doll house that we absolutely loved and around noon Bombhead would walk over with Lady and we shared soup and sandwich lunches together. One day he came over and seriously pleaded with us to help him, for he felt Bob was in trouble, some guys were after him. Wayne is a fair guy and despite his feelings he would honor Dad's request and help Bob. When Bob asked Wayne "why after all this time did you help me?" Wayne said "because Dad asked me to. " This brought tremendous relief and gratitude from George and Helen and was a testament to the power of forgiveness. Good thing Wayne took the high road because things would really get tougher in the years to come. Dad died soon thereafter so Wayne had a clean heart about his decisions. Bob's condition worsened and Helen could not cope with George's death; many nights we found her standing by our bed because Bob went after her with a knife. She would sleep with us - yikes! Wayne continued to take George's place and took hold of the family reigns. This was a noble challenge and later it took its toll on our own core family. When things calmed down a bit we tried conceiving a baby but were infertile for 3 years. After our efforts failed, we were resigned that it was God's plan for us to just be together and travel. My sister was having babies one after another so I was blessed to give my love to them when my maternal itch consumed me. St. Jude came to me, encouraging us to build a home in Darien, and we did just that. We really needed to distance ourselves from the overbearing energies of his mom and brother. After building our mini-mansion (in our eyes) we conceived during my first cycle in our new home. I remember breaking the news to Wayne by playing Loggins & Messina's Danny's Song. Michael George was born on June 5, 1985 on the due date (exactly 50 years to the day and hour after my dad.) I continued to work part-time but found I was pregnant right away and 15 months later on September 10, 1986 Daniel Wayne was born. I knew he was a boy because just prior to delivering him, the radio played Elton John's Daniel, that was the name we picked. I quit working to be a full time mom to my bundles of joy. Helen retired from her job at Armstrong Container after 40 years. She loved the social aspect of working but her body was slowing down and it was time for her to readjust her life. She continued to live with Bobby and moved downstairs to live with Uncle Steve. They spent many nights visiting with their youngest brother, Achie. His wife died and he did not cope well. He died while choking on food at the local diner. His son, Ed, was very close to Wayne and they remain buddies to this day.

When Danny was a year old my company, Smith, Bucklin, called asking me to work just a day a week. My boss was the founder and owner, Bill Smith, and he was a visionery, offering me part time work which was uncommon in the workforce. I gave them a high figure and they agreed to pay it. It was too much money to turn down and Helen wanted respite from Bob and Steve and offered to watch the boys one or two days a week while I worked. She was happy to do this and understood how lucky I was to have the best of both worlds - being able to raise my sons yet get away for a day or two continuing my career and helping financially. This is what she did and it worked for her. Wayne would pick her up on Monday nights after I spent the day making sure I had a clean house upon her arrival. I painted her room a pretty lilac and decorated it with a brass bed and dainty flowers. She brought 'salvation' in the form of toilet paper, canned food, Huck Finn doughnuts for the boys and all the ingredients she needed for whatever she was going to make the next day. Oh how grateful I was to come home to a delicious home cooked meal on Tuesday night. My favorite was breaded pork chops and she would label everyone's plate. She went back home on Wednesday. Tuesday nights we took advantage of her being with the boys and had date night - at Willowbrook Health Club. We killed 2 birds with one stone - getting our stress buster workout and social time. We really did not have a social life the first four years raising our kids. We were so happy to finally have a family we did not miss restaurants or movies. We were at every park in our area almost every day and participated in various activities ranging from scouts to the YMCA, to gymnastics and park district activities. They were just as happy riding their little kirby cars in front or playing in the Echo behind our home. They took music lessons for 8 years. We tried to expose them to a variety of things but felt it important to have down time and avoid burn out. Our boys were very active and took a lot of our energy just keeping up with them - true boys. Since Helen watched them while I worked, we never asked her to babysit for anything social and we never left the boys with a sitter. Wayne took vacation for 2 weeks during Christmas holidays so he could be with the boys while I worked. We were to be blessed one more time (everything happens to us in 3) for my little chachi, Steven Robert, was born on November 25, 1991. I told Helen the best gift she ever gave them was her time. It was a win, win all around for they adored her.

Wayne was totally involved with raising our sons; we shared this responsibility and always made unified decisions throughout their upbringing. When we did not agree, or if we did not know how to solve an issue, we went to the professionals. We were not born knowing how to be parents. I do not believe in corporal punishment, as my parents raised me, but did not know what to do. Mike was very non compliant as a young boy due to attention deficit disorder. I discovered a place called Tuesday's Child located on Fullerton and brought both boys for early intervention using positive reinforcement. Mike was 98% non compliant upon arrival and 98% compliant upon completion of his program. I continued to teach other parents these concepts for almost 3 years. People kept telling me to spank him when he misbehaved. I refused and here is a perfect example why: as a toddler, Mike kept playing with the video player. Mom says do not touch that. Mike continues as he pleases. Mom slaps his hand. What does Mike do? Slaps mom's hand. Case in point. We raised our kids the best way we knew and often tell our boys we know we make mistakes but they will get their chance to raise their kids the way they want to. Their response is they are not having kids. Right. Being a parent is the hardest thing we ever did and the most rewarding. We did it our way and are very proud of how they are growing into beautiful young men. It all began with a song. Music is huge in our lives. Wayne is my music man and played with Snapps and a few other bands and occasionally jams with his buddies, Danny, Tom and sometimes the Reyes brothers. So many memories with those guys. My dad is also a musician, playing drums and accordion so naturally music is in our sons' genes. Mike plays guitar, Dan the drums and Steve the trumpet and piano. I am the eternal groupie and love dancing. Needless to say, Helen and I became very close and I referred to her as my angel. Everything in time. xo