The last Christmas

Christmas 2015 was my favorite Christmas with you.

You were the Clark Griswold of our street.

I even got you a Clark Griswold-esque mug that you loved.  You drank the Starbucks 2015 Holiday blend in it.  You are missing the 2017 blend.  It’s pretty good.

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In early December, you found a light up nativity on Craigslist and you had to buy it.  It didn’t matter that it was in Scranton, PA.  You had to have it.

So we drove to Scranton.

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We packed them in.  Complete with two bonus nutcrackers.

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Of course on the ride home Joseph fell over and he wound up face to face with our daughter.  She did not like it at all.  I would have been freaked out too.

But it was all worth it in the end.  #takethatgriswold

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You had researched which streets in the Capital District had the best lights and we drove there.

We attended as many Holiday parties as we could.

Our daughter wanted nothing to do with Santa.

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Christmas Eve was a bizarre 74 degree day in Upstate, NY.  You insisted we drive with the sunroof open.

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We spent the afternoon with our Christmas Eve crew at a local establishment.  As usual, I brought buffalo chicken dip.  

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We went to four pm Mass with one of our bestest couple friends.

Mass was uneventful until after communion.  The four of us sat down in our pew.  

A loud cracking sound filled the church as our butts hit the floor.  

We looked at the pew which was split lengthwise.

Everyone else in the church looked at us.

You lean over to our friends and me and say “Sh*t.  We need Jesus the carpenter, not Jesus the Baby.”

We stand there as we wait for Mass to end to for the church to empty.  People continue to look at us as they are leaving. After the church was empty, you put that broken portion of the pew up over your shoulder and march up to the altar and you explained to Father Bradley what had happened.  Father Bradley listens and doesn’t seem phased at all.  I guess after 40 years in the priesthood, he has seen it all.  I wished I wasn’t so mortified and that I thought to take a picture but the mental picture will always be in my mind.

After Mass, we went home and you made Chicken Parm.  After our daughter went to sleep, we opened our presents that we got each other.

That Christmas you and I went crazy.  The previous year you surprised me by putting the confirmation from a cruise you booked in a box for me to open.  You assured me that there was no cruise surprise.  I didn’t mind especially you already booked our 2017 cruise.  Though neither of us would go on that cruise.

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You were very concerned that you couldn’t live up to the previous year so you finally bought me the sewing machine I wanted for years.

For years we couldn’t afford to buy each other presents after we shopped for everyone else. I was having fun making up for those years.  

You told me that the $600 shoes you wanted were on sale for $445.  Hint, hint.  I took the hint.

(For those who might be side-eyeing the price, these would be shoes would have been resoled.  He was planning to use them for the rest of his life, and ironically he did.  But when they we were bought, we were envisioning decades of use.)

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You admitted to me after the fact that you were worried I was going to buy you more gifts and your competitive nature couldn’t handle that so you did more shopping.

After the fact, we admitted that we were ridiculous and that this would be the last Christmas were we would do this.  Even if it was fun.

I am beginning to have this theory that our souls know more than we do in our human form.  I think our souls knew that this was our last Christmas and that we needed to have fun and do what we felt we needed to do to show love to each other.

Of course you insisted we leave out something for Santa.

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Christmas morning was spent with our daughter opening up Christmas presents.  

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You also bought her a Barbie Power Wheels Jeep because you saw a good deal on Amazon.  I told you that she was too young.  You called me a “Miss No Fun.”   We decided to save it for the following Christmas.  You never got to see her ride it.  My father and I did assemble it for her second birthday a month after you died as one last present to her from you.  And I was right because even then, her feet didn’t reach the pedal.

We spent Christmas Day with our daughter’s Godmother, her now husband and their family.

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We bought each other a bottle of wine from the same winery although they were more generous than us.  We brought a peppermint pig and some coasters.  We were so excited about those coasters because they were custom made.  When our daughter was born, there was this mildly disturbing Georgia O’Keefe-esque artwork on the wall.   Our daughter’s Godmother and you were confused and disturbed by the artwork.  After she left, I suggested you take a picture and make it into artwork for her.  You loved the idea so much that you took credit for it but I didn’t mind.  Not a lot of people know that some of your material came from me.  You always said you were the funny one but sometimes I could be funny too.

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Ultimately you decided on coasters instead of wall art. The best part was that our friend forgot about the maternity room artwork and decided to be polite and say that they were lovely.  Of course, she had a good laugh when we told her where the artwork came from.

And this ended up being our last Christmas.  

There was no way we would know that this would be our last Christmas.  

There was no way that we could have foresaw that we would take one last cruise in February and then you would would unexpectedly become critically ill and spend five months in the ICU. 

We had no clue that we were so close to the end.

I have come to realize that unless someone is on their deathbed at Christmas that there is no way to know who will be there the next Christmas.  A lot can happen in 365 days.  My life changed 89 days after that Christmas and you were gone 240 days after that.  

Even if I could have known it would be your last Christmas, I wouldn’t have done it any different.  I was with you, our daughter and some of our closest friends.  And we had fun and ate some really good food. 

I am glad I didn’t know that it was going to be your last Christmas.  If I had known it was going to be your last Christmas, I would have been devastated and unable to enjoy it.

Now I am embarking on our second Christmas without you.  Some of the traditions have changed a little bit but I will be with the same friends.  Christmas 2017 will pretty much run nonstop from Fri until Wednesday with my parents coming for New Years.  So I won’t be alone without you.  

It’s hard to be sad around our daughter.  She is getting so much bigger and she is so excited for Christmas.  She’s warming up to Santa.  She won’t sit on his lap but she’ll at least stand next to him.  It just breaks my heart because you were looking forward to her being this age.  You were so excited about the kinds of conversations you were going to have.  Every happy memory that we create is also tainted with sadness because you are not here.

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Now I am reminiscing with the internet instead of with you.  Even though the internet and blogosphere is filled with great people, I would rather be recounting these memories with you.

But at the end of the day, I have to say I am grateful.  I am grateful that I have these happy memories.  Even though your death broke my heart, I am lucky that I have these memories that are filled with so much love and happiness.  These memories make me smile and laugh.  

It’s my job to push through my sadness and continue creating happy memories for our daughter and our friends so when I am gone, they can look back on those memories with love and happiness.

Wherever you are my love, I hope have a Merry Christmas.

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The day I found my voice

This was the first piece I wrote as a widow.  It was a Facebook note called “A Mini-Memoir”.  I wrote it one year ago.

* * *

Bryon McKim took me by surprise.  Those close to us know that the first time I met him was in November of 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky.  2006 was a bad year to be a Republican and I learned that because I lost my race for the Maine State House. (At least I won my hometown. Thank you Surry!)  The weekend following the election was the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) Board Meeting in Louisville.  I first met Bryon at the Northeast Caucus.  I was the only Mainer in a room full of New Yorkers and there was one in particular that would not shut up when I was giving my report on Maine.  And we all know that that New Yorker was Bryon McKim.  He didn’t make that much of a lasting impression on me except that I thought he was rude even if everyone from New York thought he was hilarious.

Our story really began in the beginning of the 2008.  I was coming to a New York State Young Republican (NYSYR) event to try to build bridges between the NYSYR and the Maine Federation of Young Republicans (MFYR) of which I was the State Chairman.  New York and Maine had been on opposite sides of the previous YRNF election and our relationship was not good.  I was nervous about the reception I would be receiving so my best friend Tiffany came from Chicago (Illinois and New York had been on the same side of the previously mentioned election but it did not affect the friendship between Tiffany and me.)  It turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about.  All the scary New Yorkers were perfectly nice to me.  I noticed one person who seemed to be in charge so I went up to him and introduced myself, “Hi.  I am Kerry Sullivan, Chairman of the Maine Federation of Young Republicans.”  He responded with “I know.  We met in Louisville.”  Then it clicked.  He was the a-hole that wouldn’t shut up when I was talking.  Luckily after a year and a half, I seemed to be (mostly) over it.

Over the course of the weekend, Bryon began to try to get my attention.  I thought he was nice enough but I was aware that he was several years younger than me so despite being flattered, I kept letting him down, albeit gently.  I told him I was too old for him.  He didn’t believe me.  At one point, I pulled out my drivers license.  I do remember him staring at it in disbelief.  I definitely liked him but I was not looking to fall in love, especially with a younger man who lived eight hours away.

Heck, at that point in my life, I didn’t believe in love.  I was also told that I was too picky.  I  had a list of ten items.  Funny this is, I don’t remember all ten items.  I would tell people my top 3 (Republican, Catholic, Red Sox fan) and I was told that was not reasonable especially in Maine.  There are Red Sox fans, but not many Republicans or Catholics.  I know number 4 was Irish.  (That was a bit of a stretch as Bryon was only 1/8 Irish.  I guess it didn’t end up being that important.)  I do remember two of my other items on my list.  One was that I wanted a man to be intelligent.  Preferably more intelligent than me because I like to surround myself with smart people and I like to learn from those around me.  And I like personalities with a lot of depth to them.  I  wanted a man who could go to the symphony and a wine tasting one night and a baseball game with hot dogs and beer the next night.  I wanted someone who wouldn’t be bored with Museums and historic places.  Someone would wanted to do interesting stuff but also the simple stuff. I was told that those two points are not reasonable.  I knew what I wanted and I didn’t want to settle.

Anyway, I digress.

For the next six months, Bryon and I started to get to know each other better.  First through google chat (I think it was called g-chat then) and then we went to the next level and started texting.  Serious stuff that involved actually giving each other our phone numbers.  He convinced me to come out for the NYSYR day at the races.  I agreed and I decided to come out a day early to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  I asked him what he thought of the Baseball Hall of Fame and he said it was lame.  I said that was a shame because I was hoping to go and surprisingly, out of the blue, Bryon changed his mind and said that it actually wasn’t lame and that he would take me.  So we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After visiting the Hall of Fame, we weren’t ready for our date to be over so we decided to head back to Albany for dinner at the Pump Station.  Then that turned into drinks at Mahars and then Lark Tavern.

The following day was the Day at the Races.  We didn’t want anyone to know we were a thing so we spent the day on opposite sides of the group.  We acted like we barely knew each other except we did sneak off to the paddock at one point.  I left New York not sure what was going to become of us.  He was younger and lived eight hours away.  Neither of us wanted a long distance relationship.  But our relationship only seemed to get stronger.  Our communication changed from text messages to actual phone calls.  Nightly.  I remember having to put my phone on speaker and hold it a certain way or else I couldn’t hear him.  Cell phone reception in rural Maine wasn’t that great.

We made plans to meet up in Boston on August 29th, the day between our birthdays.  I called him up to wish him a happy birthday on the 28th.  He had been out celebrating.  He told me he was young and hot like Sarah Palin and that I was old like John McCain.  (Remember, it was 2008)  Yet I still went to Boston the next day.  I had fun recounting that conversation to him as we rode the Red Line into Boston.  He made it up to me though.  He took me to a Red Sox game on my birthday.  If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.  And it was that weekend that I realized that this wasn’t just a passing fling.  It was the real deal.  I never would have known that weekend that almost exactly eight years later, I would be attending his funeral.

It’s easy to be negative.  Some days I struggle to stay positive.  Some days I am not positive at all.  Other days I am almost optimistic that despite this sad chapter, I might actually still have a good second half of my life.  The reality is that right now I feel lost and like an empty shell of who I used to be.  I feel like I am going through the motions.  I hate the term “new normal” because I hate that I have to find a new normal.  I was perfectly happy with my old normal.  I am one of those people who likes to have a 1 year, 5 year, 10 year plan.  It may not be detailed but I liked being able to look down the path I was anticipating and have a general idea as to what was going to happen.

I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen in our planned future but Bryon was there.  The other child (or children if I got my way) would have been there.  We went from being a family of three with plans of being a family of four to a family of two.  Now it’s just Maddy and me.  I don’t even know if two people fit the definition of a family.

Bryon had all these plans he wanted to do when Maddy was older.  He will never take her to a father-daughter dance.  He will never make her dates nervous.  He will never get to play catch with her or teach her how to ice skate.  He won’t ever take her to a Broadway play.  He won’t walk her down the aisle when she gets married.  He won’t take her on the proper Disney trip he was planning.  We spent a day in Epcot last February and we went to a character breakfast, but not the fancy, expensive Princess one.  Bryon said if he was going to spend that kind of money, he wanted Maddy to be old enough to enjoy it.  I know I can take Maddy to Disney but the thought of being in the Happiest Place On Earth without Bryon makes me cry.  And I am not sure that is allowed.  It’s like a sick and twisted joke.  He did this to try to be healthier for himself and Maddy and then this happened.

We would have taken a lot more cruises.  We would have eventually hit all the Caribbean islands.  I would have continued to lobby for an Alaskan Cruise and Bryon would have continued to say that an Alaskan cruise sounded boring. (We had two cruises booked.  I cancelled one and pushed the reservation out on the other.  I don’t know when I will be ready to cruise again, if ever.)   We had plans to someday go to Scotland, Ireland, England and Germany.  He wanted to go to a Chelsea game in London.  He wanted to visit the Scottish Highlands where the Fraser clan originated.  He wanted to buy a BMW in Germany, drive it around Bavaria for a week and then have it shipped home.  He said something about avoiding some sort of import tax that way.  I am not sure.

We would have probably outgrown our current house pretty soon and would have moved somewhere bigger.   We’d probably would have argued about that house.  I would refuse to live in a ranch house or a house built after 1950.  Bryon would probably tell me I was being too picky.  I would  have dug in my heels on hardwood floors as opposed to wall-to-wall carpeting and Bryon would have eventually agreed with me because he would know I was right.  Bryon would have held firm that we would never have a swimming pool, trampoline or a swing set because they are liabilities.  I would have pushed to live in the country and Bryon would have probably said there was no effing way he was going to live in a place where he would need to buy a gun because of wild animals.

Now that has been ripped away.  I look at my future and all I see is nothingness.  I know it will be filled with new adventures and of course, time with Maddy but I don’t like not knowing what to expect.  I thought I had my life figured out.  I am not good at this “one day at a time” thing.  Not only do I  have have to mourn the death of my best friend and the love of my life, I have to mourn the loss of my future.  I know an optimist would tell me that my future is a blank canvass and I can color it any way I want.  Perhaps that is true but I didn’t ask for a blank canvass.

I also have to figure out who I am as an individual which is a daunting task.  The Kerry McKim that was Bryon’s wife, no longer exists.  I am not the same person I was on March 24, 2016.  My life forever changed when Bryon was admitted to the Surgical ICU on March 25.  I will never go back to being that version of Kerry McKim again.  The truth is, there are some aspects of who I am that got pushed to the back burner during my time with Bryon.  It wasn’t intentional.  He just always had ideas and sometimes my ideas went to the background.  And I let that happen.  He didn’t do it on purpose, though it did cause tension in our relationship at time.  Of course, now I am glad that I got out of the way and let Bryon accomplish what he needed to do since his time on Earth was limited.

Now I do get to do the things that Bryon never wanted to do.  I like to do boring things like take drives to check out scenery and Bryon couldn’t stand that.  To him, there was no point. I could go on an Alaskan cruise if I wanted or to a National Park (Bryon had no interest in going to the Grand Canyon even though I told him pictures don’t do it justice.)  I can live my life at a slower pace.  It could sometimes be exhausting keeping up with him though it was exciting.  I loved every minute of it.

However, I don’t revert back to being Kerry Sullivan either.  Kerry Sullivan was a young girl who was bored and wanted “more.” Bryon changed my world.  He challenged me.  He encouraged me.  He believed in me.  I am tasked with taking the best parts of being Kerry McKim and the best parts of being Kerry Sullivan and make them into some sort of newer version of Kerry McKim.  I just don’t want to be viewed as Old Widow McKim.  While I am definitely a widow, I don’t want it to define me.

So where does that leave me?  Everyone talks about stages of grief.  Personally I think stages are bullshit.  The first one is supposed to be denial.  I was never in denial that he died.  I watched him slowly die for five months in the ICU.  I can tell you that he never gave up.  He fought until the bitter end.  I think almost anyone else would  have given up long before but he kept fighting.  While he could communicate, he obviously couldn’t express himself fully and I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him to have to lie in a bed for five months, not being able to move and having to be dependent on me or a nurse for simple tasks like changing the channel on the TV.  He had his mind up until 36 hours before he died.  It must have been hell for him to be lying in that hospital bed without being able to articulate his thoughts.

The second stage is anger.  Well of course I am angry but that will be another post for another time.  Third stage is supposed to be bargaining?  Bargaining for what?  He’s not coming back.  Then desperation.  Again, he’s not coming back so I don’t know what there is to be desperate about.  The final stage is acceptance which is probably the only stage that makes any sense.  I don’t even know what it means to accept that he is dead.  I know he is dead.  I know because all the tasks he did are now my responsibility.  (I am beginning to wonder what I even brought to the table?  I think all I did before was change diapers and make sure there is milk in the fridge.  And I wasn’t even that great at the latter.)  I know he is dead because once in a while I think about something to ask him something and then I remember that there is no point in texting him because he isn’t going to answer that text.  I know he is dead when I am watching one of our TV shows and they make a joke that he would have found funny.  He isn’t there to laugh.  He wasn’t there to discuss the issues surrounding the election.  I know he is dead every night when I lie in bed alone. Even though I know he is dead, there are times where I think about certain memories where he was so full of life and then I think about him being dead.  Then it hits me me- the pang of disbelief.  Disbelief that someone so full of life can be gone.  That realization always takes me by surprise.  It stings.  Every time.

I also have to accept that even if he had lived, our future would have not been what we planned.  He would have had some long term medical problems.  Doctor visits to NYC or Boston would have become the norm.  We certainly wouldn’t be traveling on cruise ships in the middle of the ocean far away from American hospitals.  Before this crisis, Bryon liked to take care of everything.  It was as if his goal was for me to never have to worry about anything.  I am not going to lie, I enjoyed that and took full advantage of that.  I was thrust into the caregiver role and even if he survived, he would have been sick for a very long time, possibly for the rest of his life.  The carefree days would be over but I would have continued to fight for him.

Maybe this is some sort of “post acceptance” processing.  I know he is dead.  He is never coming back at least in any human form.  Some widows get upset about “being left behind.”  I am not.  I don’t want to be in Heaven or wherever spirits go when in the afterlife at least not until it is my time.  I want to be here and with Maddy.  But I am, in a sense, left behind to try to make sense of what happened.  I ask myself why at least once a day.  Why did this have to happen?  And why did it have to happen like it did?

Then there are all the other questions.  Did I do something wrong?  Did I miss something?  Was I not paying attention to something the doctors said?  Why would God let something like this happen?  What did we do to deserve this?  Why does Maddy have to grow up without her father?  When will all this pain go away?  When does it start getting easier?  When will I start to feel like myself again?  How can I feel like myself when I don’t even know who I am as an individual?  How much is Maddy aware?  Does Maddy even remember him?  Will Maddy grow up feeling cheated?  Can I give Maddy a happy life without her Dad?

So many unanswered questions.

The only question I can answer is- would I do it all over again even with the same outcome?  That answer is yes.  Not just because of Maddy.  I am a better person because of Bryon McKim.

BCM 08-28-1985 – 08-21-2016

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Suess

 

As promised- the penis picture. (No actual penis pictured)

No, this isn’t a graphic picture.  Just a picture from 4 years ago. I said this post was coming in another post where Bryon was being a goofball. 

I was having a miscarriage and I had been working on crocheting a baby blanket for my cousin.  Bryon took me here to buy yarn to work on a non-baby project.  

Now some people have strong political feelings against Hobby Lobby but this was no political statement.  It was just Bryon being Bryon.


For my daughter: your birth story

You were supposed to be born on or before September 14, 2014.  But you had other plans.

On Thursday, September 18, 2014 I woke up around 4 am and I was convinced I was in labor.  You father was too and he started to pack his bag.  He said we were having a baby that day.

I called the OB/Gyn.  They told me to come in which we did.

They hooked me up to the machine to measure contractions.

Your father tells me about how someone asked him how many centimeters dilated I was.  Your father said that he thought it was weird, that that person was asking about my vagina- his wife’s vagina.  I said that that person wasn’t asking in that way and it didn’t matter because I had heard that when you are delivering a baby, you don’t care.  Your father then said “Like that time on Saved by the Bell when Zack had to deliver Mr. Belding’s baby in an elevator.”  I said “Now that would have been awkward.”

We sat there for a half an hour and the contractions had stopped.  We weren’t having a baby that day.  But we scheduled an induction for Monday, September 22, 2014.

I was in a bad mood and I didn’t go back into work.  I was tired of people asking me where the baby was.

The next day, Friday, September 19, 2014 and it started out just like the day before except your father didn’t get excited pack a bag.  The morning passed but my contractions were still 10 minutes apart.  I took a nap.  I kept having to stand up.  I had back labor and it hurt.  I told your father that you were going to be an only child.

Your father had refused to take any childbirth classes.  He remembered seeing an episode of Murphy Brown where she took a childbirth class and the other parents were tools.  He didn’t want to be in a class with tools.  For an extremely intelligent man, he sure had times where he had trouble separating fictional TV scenarios and real life.

I was in the middle of a contraction and your father said “Maybe we should have taken that childbirth class…”

I look at him.  He told me that when I looked at him, he couldn’t tell if I was going to laugh or if I wanted to murder him.

Evening came and contractions were still 8-10 minutes apart.  I told your father that I heard walking helped with labor so we went to the mall.  So it was a busy Friday night at the mall and your father and I just slowly walked the perimeter of the mall.  We stopped every 8-10 minutes.

During the overnight, my contractions finally got closer together.  We went to the hospital around 3 am.  I had been in labor for about 24 hours at this point.

I got my epidural and like was good for several hours.  They thought I would be pushing around 3 pm.

Well 3 pm became 4 pm.  And then 5 pm.  And 6 pm.

You could say I was not a happy camper.

I just wanted you out of me.

It was decided that after 42 hours of labor, I was going to have a C-section.

They doctors were getting ready.  Your father put on scrubs.  The anethesiologist asked if anyone had a questions.  Your father said he did.  The anethesiologist is polite and said “okay…” and your father gestures toward the scrubs and asks “Does this make me look fat?”  The anethesiologist burst out laughing.

Your father also used that joke on the nurses and they thought he was hysterical.  Your father was proud.

So I will spare you the details of the c-section.  I do remember that once you were born, they asked your father to announce if you were a boy or girl as we didn’t find out.  He just stood there looking at you.  I couldn’t take the suspense and I said “Well, did we have a Maddy or a William?”  Your father just smiled in awe and said you were a girl.

The second you were out of me, I was given morphine.  I remember that I was suddenly transported from the operating room to a yellow foam fun house and I thought it was awesome.  Your father was there with me in the fun house wearing his scrubs.  And then as quickly as I was transported there, the fun house just melted away and I was back in the operating room.  But your father didn’t move.

I kept talking about the yellow foam fun house.  My obstetrician said that she was starting to get jealous because this yellow foam fun house sounded cool.  I kept alternating between being excited about the foam fun house and being excited about your birth.

Since I was too drugged up, your father held you first.  They placed you in his arms and the first thing he said was “Oh my God.  You are so cute.”

I stayed in the hospital for several days.  The highlights:

1)  You saw Top Gun with your father when you were a day old.

2) Your father watched the Bills with you on his laptop.

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3) At one point you were crying and he was holding you.  He started to sing to you but it wasn’t helping.  I was half asleep and said “She likes “Let’s Hear It For The Boy'”  (You did in utero).  Your father then sang the whole song, word for word.  I feel like I should be surprised that he knew the words but I am not.  And it worked.  You stopped crying.

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We celebrated your first birthday a day early on Saturday, September 19, 2015.  We didn’t want your party to be overshadowed by the Bills playing.  We had a Minnie Mouse theme and a taco bar.

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When we celebrated your first birthday, we had no idea that it was going to be your last birthday with your father.

As we celebrate your second birthday without him, it still feels unreal.  The only birthday he was at is the one you definitely won’t remember.

It is just so unfair.

At least once a day, I think about how you are going to grow up without him, without remembering him, without every knowing him in his earthly form.

And every time you do something new or funny, I am reminded that he won’t get to see you grow up.  He used to tell me that he couldn’t wait until he could talk because you would probably say the funniest things.

Every time you reach a new milestone, he won’t see that.

Every time you say something funny, he isn’t here to laugh.

He got robbed of that.

You got robbed.

Life can be so cruel.  And I know soon you are going to start asking questions.  I dread that but I won’t hide anything from you.

But I want you to know that your father loved you so much.  You were the center of his world when he was here.  And I know wherever he is, he loves you very much.  His death doesn’t change that.

And many of the people around you loved him too and they love you too.  And we all can’t wait to celebrate your third birthday.

Random encounters with the famous

Yesterday my daughters Godmother had posted an article on Facebook about the scientist behind the research of BRCA1.  (BRCA1 is one of the gene mutations that is linked to breast cancer.  This research has positively impacted cancer treatment.)  This scientist had had a string of bad luck.  Her husband left her and her home was burglarized.  Also within this story was a random encounter with Joe DiMaggio in an airport.

It made me think of the a few encounters I had with famous people.  Now I have met many famous politicians at political events and I have met authors at book signings.  I am not referring to these encounters.  I am referring to random encounters.

Now I know the featured photo on this blog post is not a random encounter but I didn’t have any pictures of random encounters.  So I thought I would put a picture of Bryon with Speaker Boehner.  Bryon loved him so much that he named our cat Boehner.  And I actually agreed.

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Boehner watching Boehner

This is the story of some of those encounters.

Random Enounter #1
Early December 1992
Boston Garden
Boston, MA

My first random encounter was at a Celtics game at the old Boston Garden (now the Fleet Center).  They were playing the New York Knicks.  It was a Friday night and I was in the eight grade.  My aunt was given the use of her boss’s season tickets so she asked my parents and me to go to the game with her.  They were floor seats and I remember that the players were so tall that it hurt your neck to look at them.

I wasn’t into basketball so I didn’t even have a Celtics shirt.  I wore white leggings and this horrible light purple sweater with white stars.  I got rid of that sweater a long time ago and now I kind of wish I had it.

I remember my mother saying “Isn’t that Michael Douglas?”

I had no clue at that time who Michael Douglas even was.

The people sitting next to me were taking a picture of him and then he left.

I wasn’t that impressed with the encounter.  I was more excited about seeing myself in the game highlights on the news.  I even recorded them on a VHS tape with a VCR.

Encounter #2
Fall 1995
Shop ‘N Save
Ellsworth, ME

I was a junior in high school and it was my first day training as a cashier at Ellsworth Shop N Save.  I would ring up each order while my trainer Martha watched and guided me.

I rang up my fourth ever customer.  Martha asks me a question.

Martha: “You know that was Paul Stookey, right?  He lives in Blue Hill.”

Me:  “Who?”

Martha: “Don’t tell me you don’t know who Paul Stookey is…Peter, Paul and Mary?”

Me:  “Oh yeah!”

Encounter #3

November 2005
Peabody Hotel
Little Rock, AK

I was at my second ever Young Republican event and I was in an elevator and someone told me that Congressman J.C. Watts was at the hotel.  He wasn’t part of our event so he counts as random.  I had just read Congressman Watts book, What Color is a Conservative.  The elevator stopped on a floor as did the one immediately across from it so you could see into the elevator car.  I look and I see Congressman J.C. Watts.

“OMG!  It’s Congressman J.C. Watts!” I exclained.  I was giddy.

Congressman J.C. Watts just kind of smiled and waved though I could tell he thought I was nuts.

Encounter #4
Sometime around 2007, 2008ish
Borders
Bangor, ME

There isn’t much lead up to this story.  I was in Borders shopping or browsing.  Then I see Stephen King.  I don’t say anything because anyone from Maine knows that you leave Stephen King alone.

I am sure Bryon had many encounters.  I am sad to say I don’t remember.  It never dawned on me to try to memorize everything he told me because he wouldn’t be around to confirm any stories.

But I do remember one encounter.

Bryon’s Encounter
July 2009
A hotel, I can’t remember which
Indianapolis, Indiana

It was the Young Republican National Convention.  I was still the Maine Federation of Young Republican Chairman and I was running for Northeast Regional Vice-Chair.

That same weekend there was some sort of swim championship.  Bryon was in an elevator and Michael Phelps gets on the elevator.  According to Bryon, there were a bunch of girls on the elevator who got giddy and started to fangirl Michael Phelps.  Bryon said he just looked at Michael Phelps and shrugged and shook his head.

I assure you that when Bryon found me, he gushed to me about being in an elevator with Michael Phelps.

Have you ever had a random celebrity encounter?

 

Rude Canadians and the time we almost got kicked off a plane

Today’s blog post was inspired from Rachel’s post about wanting to meet a rude Canadian.

Bryon and I met a rude Canadian once.

Actually it was two rude Canadians.

We were on a cruise in February 2014.  It was the cruise we took when I was nine weeks pregnant (before Zika was a thing).  The cruise was aboard the Carnival Sunshine and we left from New Orleans and visited Montego Bay, Jamaica (never again), Grand Cayman (loved it) and Cozumel, Mexico (fun time).

That cruise could be dubbed a lot of different things:

The time I cruised when pregnant.

The cruise where I threw up Virgin Daquiri’s.  (Sorry).

The cruise where I pretty much just ate potato salad and loved it.

The cruise where Bryon got a bad sunburn and then had to pay $15 for aloe on the ship.  The label called it liquid gold and Bryon said it better be for that price.

The cruise where we hung out in the piano bar most nights.

The cruise where I met an Elvis impersonator.

The cruise where I won a geography trivia contest.

The cruise where the somelier at the steakhouse spilled Bryon’s Chateau Neuf de Pape while she was trying to transfer it from the bottle into the decanter.  I can still feel Bryon’s blood pressure rising over this.

The cruise where Bryon pissed off a Southern lady at the pizza stand.

But this story is about how we met rude Canadians.

On that cruise we made friends with another married couple from Florida.  The dining room was tight (as most dining rooms on cruise ships are) and our tables were next to each other.  We started chatting and remained friendly during the rest of the cruise.  In fact, we still remain Facebook friends.  Maybe I will cruise with them again.  If I can ever bring myself to go on another cruise.  That was Bryon and my thing.

Anyway, we invited this couple to be part of our team in a trivia contest.  This trivia contest was different than most. Instead of just writing your answers on a sheet, each team took a chance to answer a question.  If you got it right, you got the points.  If you got it wrong, the moderator went around the room asking everyone else until someone got it right or until she got back to the original contestant.  

Well this couple came in and joined the fun.  They were there own team and they called themselves  “The Canucks.”  To be honest, I can’t even remember the name of our own team.  

“The Canucks” were before us in the rotation of questions.  So whenever a team got an answer wrong, we would quietly discuss our answer as a team.  Somehow “The Canucks” heard us because they kept stealing our answers.  

Needless to say, we were pissed.  So on the next rounds, we got even quieter and Bryon would semi-loudly say “I think it’s *wrong answer*.  Yeah, I definitely think it is *wrong answer*”.  

“The Canucks” bought our fake answer and -surprise- they got it wrong.  Then it was our turn and we gave our correct answer and they glared at us.  

Now on the Carnival Sunshine as well as a lot of other Carnival ships, there was a cocktail bar called Alchemy.  The bartender on this cruise had actually been our bartender the previous year on the Carnival Glory.  We had become friends (still Facebook friends with her as well) and right before our trip on the Carnival Sunshine, she announced on Facebook that she was going to be on that ship.  So we were so excited to be reunited.  Most nights we would go have a beverage before dinner (non-alcoholic for me) and then we would return after the evening entertainment.  Well we are at the bar and the rude Canadian couple was there.  And they glared at us because we were friendly with the bartender.

They continued to glare at us whenever they saw us.  To be honest, Bryon and I thought it was kind of funny.  Though we were surprised because we had never met rude Canadians before and we usually went to Canada several times a year.

The story concludes with our the first leg of our flight home.  Our flight went from New Orleans to Chicago then to Albany.  We were using airlines miles (I have an airline credit card) and they did not have any coach seats available so we decided to use more miles and fly first class.  I am not going to lie, I loved it.  

We were sitting in the second row and we see the rude Canadians board the airplane.  Bryon, who already had a drink in his hand waves hello to them.  And, you guessed it, they glare at us.  

Oh, about the almost getting kicked off part-

We were started to taxi and the pilot announces that we were going to return to the gate for a security concern.  I look at Bryon.  He points to the seat in front of us and mouths to me that he thinks it’s them.  In the first row was a couple who had been extremely rude to the flight attendant.  

The gate manager comes up to our row and tells us we need to exit the airplane immediately. I just sat there in shock.  

The flight attendant comes up behind the gate manager and says “Row 1!  I said Row 1!”  

The gate man apologizes and then has the couple in the row 1 exit the plane.

I said to Bryon that the rude Canadians probably thought it was us getting kicked off the plane.

Bryon said that they will never know because they we way back in coach.

And then we laughed.  Like we were people who always flew first class.

Six years ago

He asked my best friend for help with choosing my ring.  I had my suspicions when she suddenly wanted to discuss.  I mentioned it to a coworker, but I was afraid that if I mentioned it to anyone else that I would somehow jinx it.

We were at the bar where we went on our first date, Mahars Public Bar.  The bar sadly closed years ago.  They had beer from all over the world and a computer that kept track of your total.  At 50 beers, you got a T-shirt.  At 200 you got a mug.  At 500 you got your name on the wall.

Bryon and I had been drinking there for years.  I was one beer away from 200 and he was one beer away from 500.  It was going to be a night of milestones.

Bryon was antsy to go.  Almost nervous which is not like his character.

We get to the bar and sit at a small table.  Bryon is acting sappy.  Again, not his character.  Then he is on one knee and proposing.

It was the exact ring that I told my best friend I liked.

I said yes.

Then his friends seem to come out of the woodwork to celebrate with us.  Apparently Bryon told a bunch of them that he was going to propose that evening.

No picture of the proposal exits.  A good friend said he was going to get a picture but his blackberry was acting up.  But we did a staged photo.  Of which I took off of Facebook.  I hope he doesn’t mind.  If he does, I will make him a funfetti cheesecake.  Or maybe Poblano mac and cheese.  Depends on how pissed he may be.

September 6, 2011 was one of the happiest days of my life.