Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Forum May 5, 2015 – The Best/Worst Job

Forum May 2015 The Best Worst Job Audio Version

               Ah the month of May!  Graduation, Memorial Day, and Mother’s Day celebrations will fill our weekends.  At my house, it’s a bittersweet month.
               On May 4th, 20 years ago, my son Adam was stillborn after 40 weeks and 3 days of pregnancy.  On May 23rd, just last year, my son Brandon died unexpectedly.  Mother’s Day for me is a day of mixed emotions.  I am blessed to still have my own mother and I feel for those who don’t – I know Mother’s Day is not easy for them either.
               When you’ve lost children, as a mother, your mind tends to go to what you will never have.  I never heard Adam laugh or cry, never saw him take his first steps, or get his driver’s license.  I’ll never see Brandon get married or be a father.  At holidays, like Christmas and Mother’s Day, there is always that tug at your heart that the table is missing a few place settings.
               This is motherhood.  It’s full of the lowest lows and the highest highs. One thing I know for sure - God has a way of bringing something good out of the bad things that happen to us. If I hadn’t lost Adam 20 years ago, I would not have the faith I have today that has sustained me through life’s challenges.  I also know that I have many joys ahead of me as a mother.  I am blessed to have 4 living children.  Someday, I will see my first child get married and hold my first grandchild.  I just got to see my fourth child experience her first prom and am sharing in the excitement of her choosing what college she will attend.  My eleven year old youngest child still has lots in store for me, I’m sure!  For the fifth time, I get to experience a child navigating through junior high and high school.  I get to teach him to drive.  Personally, I think teaching children to drive has provided me with plenty of gray hair – I may “Tom Sawyer” this job to one of his older siblings!  
               Know this Mother’s Day that you have been given a special gift.  No one will deny that motherhood can have its sad moments.  Were it not for the losses I have experienced I truly believe I would not be able to truly appreciate the everyday blessings that being a mother brings.
               This Mother’s Day, as I do every day, I choose to focus on my blessings and be grateful for what I do have.  I have six children – 2 of them just happen to reside in heaven with their dad.  I have my own mom.  I get to spend Mother’s Day with my remaining four children.  I have many years of hugs, love, and laughter ahead and for that I am very grateful.  I wish for every mother a peaceful heart and a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Eulogy for my son, Brandon Cruse, May 29, 2014

Born November 13, 1990, Died May 23, 2014
Arrived 4 weeks early, left way too soon....

            Brandon often quoted from this book (I'll Love You Forever) to me:
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living my mommy you’ll be.
            Brandon was a boy who loved deeply.  He had a smile that lit up a room.  When that smile was directed at you, you felt loved and special.  He truly cared about each and every person that crossed his path.
            My neighbor has two boys that Brandon used to babysit.  She shared with me that once when her family was on vacation at Disney World – which I think we can all agree is the most fun place in the world – her son said wistfully, “I wish Brandon was here.”
            Everything was better if Brandon was a part of it.  He brought fun, laughter, and joy everywhere he went.
            Brandon was creative and musically talented, thoughtful and kind.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d come home from work to find Brandon mowing my yard or wake up from a Sunday afternoon nap to find Brandon had brought us Chinese Food for dinner.
            Alex, Kendra, Michaela, and Charles, your brother loved you bigger than the moon.  He loved you infinity.  He was so proud of all of you.  Know that wherever you go, he is watching over you and cheering for you, along with your dad and your baby brother, Adam.
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living your mommy I’ll be.

I look forward to hugging you in heaven.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Brandon's 23rd Birthday, November 13, 2013

A Successful Life: Audio Version June 2014

A Successful Life: June 2014 Forum

Dedicated to Kendra and Brandon

Four weeks ago, with tears in my eyes, I proudly watched my twenty-one year old daughter Kendra walk across the stage in Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University to receive her college diploma.  As she embarks on a career in Social Work, as a mother I feel obligated to share with her what defines a successful life.
I began putting together my “mother’s wisdom” talk to share with her.  But then, exactly one week after Kendra’s graduation, my twenty-three year old son Brandon died unexpectedly.  Suddenly, I realized, I needed to rethink my personal definition of a successful life.
It has nothing to do with the fact that you drive a BMW or a used Ford Taurus.  Whether you live on the west side or the east side of Bloomington has no impact.  Do you wear a suit and tie to work or do you wear an orange jumpsuit?  It doesn’t matter.
As I greeted people for 5 plus hours in the visitation line, it became abundantly clear to me that my son had lived a very successful life in the way too short span of time he walked this earth.  I heard story after story about how kind he was to others, how when he flashed that beautiful smile in someone’s direction they just immediately felt happier and that they mattered, how he often paid a stranger’s way onto the city bus or babysat a single mom’s children so she could go to work. 
What is a successful life?  It is one in which you make a positive difference in the life of at least one person.  A successful life is a life lived by treating other people in ways that build them up not tearing them down, choosing to be kind even though it takes additional effort, looking for the worth and value within other human beings no matter how deeply it is hidden and gently letting them know that you see their worth and value even if no one else does.
People will forget what you did for a living, where you lived, what your favorite ice cream was.  But they will never, ever forget how being in your presence made them feel.

So to my graduate Kendra, as you go through this life, remember that each person you meet has had thousands of people cross their path.  Be that one person, that when their life intersects with yours, their life is changed for the better in some way, whether big or small.  Then, my darling daughter, you will be living a successful life.
Here is the link to the audio version of my July 2014 Forum:  Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

          WJBC FORUM – July 7, 2014 – “Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!”

After a hard day of work, I just love coming home to find the dog on her hind legs, licking the dirty dishes piled high in the sink, in an attempt to get the last remains of corn dogs and ketchup off a plate, obviously trying to do her part so that I don’t have to wash that dish!
          When I complain to the children that the dishwasher was supposed to be emptied and reloaded before I walked in the door they say, “But mom!  It’s summer!  We shouldn’t have to do anything!”
          Once you are able to stop laughing and pick yourself up off the floor, I will share my opinion of this life philosophy.  It is wrong, wrong, wrong!
          I have three adult children and 2 school age children.  Without fail, my adult children have all said to me, “I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up.  Now I want to be a kid again.”
          Well, who wouldn’t!  Especially when kids think they “shouldn’t have to do anything!”  They may think that, but the chore chart stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet tells a different story.
          The children have their life philosophy and I have mine.  Mine goes like this:
·       Just for the privilege of me putting a roof over your head, clothing you, feeding you, and providing you with an education, you will have “something to do.”  That something will be reoccurring chores such as mowing the yard, emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the bathrooms.
·       Once you turn 13, you will do your own laundry.  “Why?” you say.  Because I refuse to wade through the foot-deep pile in your room, trying to decide what is clean and what is dirty.  It never ceases to amaze me that the foot-deep pile usually drops to just a few inches deep once you start doing your own laundry.
·       By the time you leave my home to go to college, you will know how to cook at least three things.  It can be macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, and spaghetti. At least I will know that you won’t starve.
My children may think I am the meanest mom in the world.  I’m not.  I love them so much that I will teach them what they need to know whether they like it or not.  It did my heart good to have my first three children tell me the first time they each came home from college, “Mom, you would not believe the kids who don’t even know how to do laundry!”  To which I say, “Your welcome!”

This is Nancy Cruse for the WJBC Forum.