A Day in the Life | March Madness (Episode #7)

DIL_ March Madness #7_Sm

Between February and October 2015, I wrote six posts in my “A Day in the Life” series. Not long after the October post, I fell and opened a large can of medical woes which I still battle off and on.

I want to resurrect that series because I enjoyed sharing memories of some of my life experiences with you. So, today we begin again and hope to post many more than six.


The Day the Madness Started

From high school forward, basketball was my sport, favorite of them all. The basketball bug bit with my first pep rally for the basketball teams. Then in 1964, my senior year, our high school boys’ team was red hot and on a roll. Donelson High’s school spirit came alive that basketball season. I can still hear and feel the electricity, enthusiasm and excitement at each pep rally. And then to have our boys come out on top!

Donelson High School Boys’ Basketball Team, State Champions, 1964 (Nashville Tennessean)

During college, I learned of the NCAA tournaments, better known as March Madness. I wavered between the men’s and women’s games. I loved watching the University of Tennessee women’s team. I had high school friends playing under the great Pat Summit. But I also had a fondness for the Duke Blue Devils and still do.

Ironically, this last weekend Coach K surpassed Summit’s record number of wins. It was a bittersweet moment when Coach K responded to the report that he would rather have Summit around than pass her record.

Fast forward to 1997

A move to my last law firm in a string of several took me to Perkins Coie LLC in Portland, Oregon. My days there were still in the “probationary 90-day period” when a young paralegal came to my desk. Houston said he had a question for me. I thought it related to a case he was working on. But that was not it. He wanted to know if I wanted to go in on the office March Madness pool.

Never having participated in a sports pool before, I didn’t want to appear dumb so I said I would. I handed Houston a $5 bill and took a copy of the bracket from him. I had no idea how to “guess” who’d beat who, but I’d give it a try.

With my lack of experience behind me, the only thing I thought would work was to put my favorite team, Duke, in the final game. Then I worked my way backward with Duke and then randomly filled in other spots. In some games, I sort of knew who was the stronger of the two teams and hoped I was right.

Each day and game seemed to make the wait to hear the pool results farther and farther away. Would that last day ever come when the winner would be announced?

And the Winner Is…

Finally, the big day arrived. I don’t even remember how the announcement was made but when it was made, it was my name that was in the winning position. I had won the March Madness pool beating out the attorneys and most of the men in the office.

I know when to hang up my gloves and end the madness. I never again entered that pool. Why mess with success? If you’re doing well, it’s time to think about retirement from the sport. And the March Madness bracket and its pools is definitely a sport.

Do you have any March Madness memories you’d like to share, or a story to tell about a family member and their sports excitability? Use the comment section below and share with us.


Attribution featured image: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from article by Neil Greenberg of  The Washington Post

A Day in the Life | Finds We Make in Our Family History (Episode #6)

Family history can be filled with surprises. Good ones, and some not so good ones. Finds we make in our family history often prove or disprove something we have believed for years.When my mother died in 2001, we found so many surprises among her personal belongings. Who would have believed she’d kept every card she’d ever received from our dad and many of their friends? Every last one of them.

We couldn’t keep everything we uncovered, but one thing I was certain I would bring home with me. Handwritten facts of my mother’s early life with a list of grandchildren, her siblings, nieces, and nephews. Facts revealed I had never heard or read before.

Lately, while editing and revising my memoir, I dug out these notes and began to fact check againstthem for dates, names, and more. Yesterday I came upon something rather surprising.

As I was working with my manuscript, I picked up Mama’s notes to do some more fact-checking.  I’ve gone through life believing my name was given to me for no clear reason or relative. You know–a “just because” name. However, I am wrong!

Right there in her notes. In Mama’s own handwriting it reads:

Family History from Mama's Things in 2001
Family History from Mama’s Things in 2001

After her arrival, we named her Sherrey Alice. The Alice was given her for an aunt of mine, Uncle John’s wife. My mother always told me that Aunt Alice was such a sweet person, and I said if I ever have a little girl I’m going to name her Alice, so I did. Her Daddy put the Sherrey with it.

Now, I want to search through family photos and see if there is one of Aunt Alice because by the time I would have been old enough to know her, I believe she had passed on.

So now you and I know where my name came from, and you also know why that crazy email address reads like it does: “salice78@comcast.net.” Well, you almost know. But there’s more to that email address for another day.

Do you have letters, journals, or other family items, such as scrapbooks, etc., that hold family history? Have you used any of them in writing your memoir or other works? 

A Day in the Life | Marriage Proposals and Engagements (Episode #5)

On Saturday, August 15th, Bob and I celebrated 34 years of happiness together. Not to detract from that happiness but to share with you what a tough start we had, today’s “A Day in the Life” post includes an excerpt from my memoir work-in-progress. Detailing the tension and strife filling the days following Bob’s marriage proposal and our announcement of our intentions, the excerpt shares a window into the world with Mama. Even after her children reached adulthood.

Remarried, but with a Struggle

Living with Mama following my divorce and dad’s death went on far too long. Yet I struggled with finding a way out. If I moved out, the cost of housing, food, gas, clothing me for work and a growing child would lead to insolvency on my part. And worse yet, mere thoughts of Mama’s reaction to such suggestion was unbearable. She had grown attached to Craig and his presence had avoided her grieving for Daddy. I stood between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

For the next 7 1/2 years, we lived like this. With each passing year, I dreaded what our environment was doing to Craig knowing what my experience under Mama’s parenting did to me. I dreamed and prayed for any chance to get my child out of this. But would it be too late by then?

In the winter of 1981, I met someone. Someone with the capacity to love me for me, with similar interests, and as alone as I was. Plus someone familiar with emotional and verbal abuses.

Our new-found relationship grew like a flash. Within a period of a few months, we set a wedding date in December of the same year. With little consideration for our three children, we focused on our dreams and hopes. We moved ahead full blast with our plans.

That is until we told Mama. And from her tool belt of antics, she pulled the “I’ll kill myself routine,” as mentioned earlier. But not in front of my fiancé or his children. She waited until Bob and his two left.

This was likely one of the worst of these episodes I had experienced. So eerily different, I turned to my older brother for help. I asked him to come and try to reason with Mama. That added to her battle cries. When he arrived, her venom turned on him.

Once she calmed down on this otherwise tranquil and beautiful Sunday afternoon, my brother left. We three who remained behind walked on eggshells afterwards. For days, this mood continued. I was so glad that for part of the day Craig was in school. However, there was the time when Mama picked him up from school. What poison was she filling his head with, and how was she treating him?

Things became more even on a day-to-day basis, and I believed it was all behind us. What made me fall for the idea she had accepted my engagement and impending marriage in the next few months?

Summer came and Bob and I enjoyed getting out with the three kids, doing things like a “family.” But excluding Mama always brought on heated discussions. So we avoided those activities and held picnics and played games in the backyard. Anything to prevent clashes in front of our kids.

In early August, all hell broke loose with Mama. I struggle to recall the catalyst behind this explosion, but it may have been the weekend Bob and I announced a shopping trip for our wedding rings. Our plan included making Craig a part of our shopping as he would live with us. Before we could get the words out of our collective mouths, Mama stood at the door, handbag at the ready, joining us on our trip. Perhaps the silence surrounding our excursion or the quiet tears rolling down my cheeks lit the spark.

With our shopping finished and the trip home no more jovial than our trip out, we arrived back at the house just in time for our evening meal. Bob excused himself to go home, and I followed him out. I had hoped he would stay, and I suppose in my heart I wondered why he wouldn’t stand up to Mama for me. That’s when I learned he had experienced similar treatment before and never wanted to face it again. I wasn’t angry as much as hurt, so I let it pass.

When I re-entered the house, the fireworks began. One look at Mama and I knew at once what was coming. The fire in her eyes blazed with heat, and I tried to steel myself for whatever manipulative schemes she had ready.

“I suppose I made a mistake in thinking I would be included as family by you and Bob. A nice little nest you’re building for yourself. He sees you as the perfect wife and a great little homemaker and mama. Huh! Wait until he lives with you!”

As always, trying to ignore her didn’t work. When I made no response, Mama’s thermostat rose. When I noticed Craig’s eyes enlarging by the minute, I asked her to stop it once and for all. Mistake!

“Stop what? Not believing in you the way everybody else does? Nobody else knows you the way I do! Oh, how I wish they did. Your daddy always deemed you as perfect too. That’s where you get that high and mighty attitude of yours. But I know all too well.”

The fight in me crumbles. Tears burn the backs of my eyes, and I sense Craig’s fear. The tension between Mama and me is so great I clench my teeth together to hold words back. And my teeth grind against each other.

“Well, say something. Or has the cat got your tongue? He’s changing you already–I can see that. I suppose he’s told you not to talk to me.”

“Oh, Mama! He’s done nothing of the sort. It just amazes me you don’t want me to be happy. Why would you have me sacrifice everything Bob and I can do together for a lifetime of manipulation and domination?” By now I should have realized these were fighting words but somehow on this day I didn’t care.

“I want you to be happy. I just want you to make the right choices and you’re not doing that. He was married before and he has children, two of them. What will happen to Craig having to live a life like that?”

“Well, if you haven’t noticed, I’m divorced and I have a son by my first marriage. I see no difference. What about you and Daddy? You both were married before and had three children between you when you married. Was that OK, and my promise of marriage isn’t?”

Mama sensed this wasn’t going well for her. As usual, she clammed up and used the cold shoulder treatment, which was fine by me. I told Craig to come with me–I had shopping to do. We left but only to go for a drive and an ice cream cone. Plus a stop at a payphone. It was time to move our wedding date to an earlier time.

When I called Bob and told him what had transpired, he agreed we should get married as soon as possible. He said he would call the pastor who was marrying us and see if the next Saturday, one week away, would work. It was a good thing we were planning a small and simple family wedding. Each year we celebrate our marriage on August 15th, not in December as first planned.

Taken in 1983 at Meyer FamilyGathering in Bickleton, WA

Copyright 2015 Sherrey Meyer

This was perhaps one of the most difficult encounters with Mama. Her manipulative skills and ability to belittle and demean did not let up when we reached adulthood. As the song says, “the beat goes on,” and with Mama it went on and on. It is my plan to share other excerpts from time to time. Likely, they will change somewhat before publication, but I’d like to share some of my story with you along the way.

A Day in the Life | School’s Out! (Episode #4)

A Day in the Life (2015_03_16 17_34_19 UTC)All over the city, in the suburbs, out in the rural areas the shout is the same, “School’s out!”

Mothers fortunate enough to stay at home cringe at the change in their daily schedules. Working moms and dads struggle to find a responsible soul to watch over their kids too young to stay alone.

Parents of preteens and teens have a separate set of worries–peer pressure, broken rules, or the cost of camp.

Did our parents experience these frustrations the day school let out for the summer? Did we as parents? Continue reading “A Day in the Life | School’s Out! (Episode #4)”

A Day in the Life | Retirement 2006 (Episode #3)

Continuing with creative nonfiction shorts in my series, A Day in the Life.


Retirement 2006

Recent events involving the family of my former managing attorney brought back many memories of my almost 15 years spent working with him and watching his family grow. At the same time, I was treated to casual reminiscences with other attorneys and their wives I came to know while working at the firm.

Prior to retirement, I was given sage advice by a brother-in-law. He cautioned, “When you retire, walk away not expecting friendships to continue. Some may. Some will. Many won’t. Don’t be surprised. After all, the friendships made on the job have an essential focal point–the workplace. Other friendships in your life have varying focal points. Don’t be disappointed by this turn of events. Go make new friends or get reacquainted with old ones.”

My brother-in-law was right to a point. The attorney and his family with whom I grew close during the workdays over 15 years have made it possible to stay closer than I expected. We’ve been included in recitals, concerts, weddings, memorial services, and more. A bonus was getting to know this attorney’s parents with whom we became close friends.

Steve (best managing partner ever) and me on party day. Image in background was my first day on the job.
Steve (best managing partner ever) and me on party day. Image in background was my first day on the job.

On the day I retired, February 6, 2006, the firm hosted a party in my honor with gifts, a trip down memory lane, some hugs, and some tears. I left thinking on my brother-in-law’s wisdom and advice.

I never expected to experience such family like feelings with my managing attorney and his family by the time 2015 rolled around.

A kinship exists going beyond explanation. Truly it has been a joy to have been “adopted” by their family.


Have you experienced this kind of extended relationship beyond a structured environment, whether at work, during college, or elsewhere? If you have, share your story with us, won’t you?

A Day in the Life | Easter (Episode #2)

Welcome to the second installment in my A Day in the Life series of short creative nonfiction pieces drawn from days gone by. I hope you enjoy them.


Easter

One Easter Sunday stands out in my mind above all others. I was around age four. Dressing up was a highlight for me as it was for most little girls, especially around Easter.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

Easter meant a visit from the Easter Bunny with baskets filled with eggs and jelly beans. It almost always meant new clothes and this particular Easter it meant a new pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. I was so proud and excited to wear them. I thought Sunday would never come.

Finally, Sunday came. Up early to check out what was left by the Easter Bunny, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, and then dress for church.

That’s when it all fell apart. I heard Mama and Daddy talking.

“She cannot wear those shoes. Can’t you see it snowed last night?”

Oh, no! Mama was telling Daddy I couldn’t wear my new shoes. If I hurried, I could get dressed and have my new shoes on before they finished arguing.

“Honey, the snow isn’t that deep.” Hurray for Daddy! But Mama was having none of it.

Finally Daddy saved the day. He told Mama if she felt it was too messy to wear the new shoes, he would carry me from the house to the car, from the car to the church, and reverse his plan when it was time to come home.

I’ll never forget wearing those shoes, but most importantly, I’ll never forget how important I felt when Daddy reached down with his long arms, picked me up, and carried me in his arms.

Do you have a special Easter memory from childhood or perhaps another stage of life? Perhaps you can use this as a prompt to write a short piece sometime over the next few days. If you’d like to share it here as a guest post, please contact me.