All posts tagged: Grace

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My Daughter, Our Amazing Grace

I have always had an extremely irregular menstrual cycle, and a few years before I married, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital had told me that I would never get pregnant on my own. So after my husband and I had been married for a year and a half, and we were starting to think about having a baby, I made an appointment with a fertility acupuncturist as the first step in what I imagined would be a long process: February 16, 2002. But on Valentine’s Day, my husband’s father, John, was diagnosed with a rare and deadly disease, cardiac amyloidosis, which has a grim prognosis: it was likely he would be dead within a year or two. The next morning, still in shock from the news, I grudgingly did the pregnancy test for the fertility acupuncturist. It turned out I never saw the acupuncturist because that morning I saw two lines instead. And that afternoon, we told my father-in-law that I was pregnant. I had been against telling him (I was nervous and still …

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Flowers Before My Father’s Funeral

Penny with her father. (Photo courtesy of Penny Wrenn) I opened the front door to let the yard guy in. “Come on,” I said. “Talk to my daddy.” He walked a few steps behind me as I headed toward the TV room where Daddy sits every day in his brown leather Barcalounger. “Daddy, this is… wait, tell me your name again?” “Austin.” “Right. Daddy, this is Austin. He just finished clearing out the gutters and stuff outside.” “How much do we owe you, sir?” Daddy asked. “A hundred and fifty dollars,” Austin answered. Then, as Daddy begins writing out the check, Austin said, “Are you a veteran, sir?” “That’s what they tell me,” Daddy said. “Well, thank you for your service,” Austin replied. He paused, and then, “What you watching there?” At this point, Austin, who looks like he’s in his thirties, was nearly yelling. He was following my lead, I suppose, since I, too, had been loudly shout-talking with my 85-year-old father even though I was just a couple feet away from him. But …

I Hit My Breaking Point and Asked for Help

(Photo credit: Lorenzo Tlacaelel/Flickr.com) I flipped my hood up and started walking, on my way to buy beer at midnight on a work night. I had gotten up from my desk back in the apartment when the panic set in that I wouldn’t have enough of what I called “my medicine” to get me through the assignment I was working on and then carry me on to maybe four hours of passed-out sleep. Where writing was concerned, I was sure I was much more productive then. Fueled by wine, adrenaline and a liberal shot of rage, words flowed out of the space between sober and drunk, a space where I spent a lot of my time. Whether the words were good or not is debatable, but I thought they were better — and only possible — with a few drinks in me. It’s a writer’s ego that values output over possible self-annihilation. Can’t do it if you’re dead or incapacitated, but what’s that small detail? Bless our hearts. That night, dwelling on my bullshit logic, I put …

Seeking “Irresistible Grace” in My 50s

(Graphic by Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Age is transforming me into a graceless buffoon. Case in point: I’m cooking a giant pot of soup. Tonight, it’s kale and beans, made with the leftover bones of a rotisserie chicken from a few nights previous. (I call it “Free Chicken Soup” — buy a chicken, get the soup for freeeee!) My cell rings, the dog barks, my son stomps by grudgingly on his way to practice his trumpet. I twist to the left, and my elbow sends the big wooden spoon flying off of the counter and into the forest of dog hair on our kitchen floor. In my mind, I swoop down in one fluid movement to retrieve the spoon, rinse it effortlessly in the sink with one hand while dispensing an encouraging booty smack to my son, then pluck up the cell while striding to the back door to let out the dog. In thirty seconds flat, the world is set aright. Soup bubbling. Client satisfied. Son and dog on track. But my mind has forgotten …

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The Story of the Rescued Giraffe

As I headed down Broadway toward the gym, I passed a woman pushing a stroller. Its occupant, a boy of about two, was pitching a fit, crying, straining at the straps and attempting a jailbreak with all his might. His mother cooed at him, but he was not to be comforted. I smiled to myself; I’d been in her shoes. As the mother of two sons myself, I know that sometimes nothing can soothe a savage little beast in the midst of a howl fest. But a block later, I spied the actual cause of the boy’s conniption. There, in the middle of the sidewalk, lay a small stuffed giraffe. I scooped him up and turned to call after the mother, but she was gone. I trotted back to the corner and looked around. No sign of them. But something pointed me eastward, and I jogged across Broadway and up 93rd Street. There! A block ahead, I spied them. My jog became a sprint as I took off, my big gym bag bouncing against my …

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A Prayer for Everyday Things

There’s a secular kind of prayer I make when I fear something in my life is about to be lost. It goes like this: Please, please, please, please. On an everyday basis, that thing is my phone and I am asking the Maker (of Apple Products) to reveal it to me as not lost after all. Please, please, please, please, I think. And there it is: my phone, tossed heedlessly into my bag, hidden in the black recesses among sundry other black things. I feel a little spangle of relief; it’s a company-issued phone, and I simply can’t tell the tech-support guy I lost another one. On most occasions, I remember to send up a thank you to the Maker that goes something like this: “You have saved me so much inconvenience (not to mention groveling) on this day, and for that I am grateful.” As a mother of two “children” now in their 20s, I’ve had far too many occasions to send up that prayer to another Maker, who, although not well known to …