Thursday, November 26, 2015

I’ve always been close with my grandparents. Growing up, we spent a lot of time with all of them as a family, going to dinners and birthday celebrations and holiday festivities. I have fond memories of the bonds I have shared with each of them.

I’m named after both of my grandmothers. My mom’s mom is Mary Ann, and my dad’s mom is Ina, which inspired my name of Mary Kristina. There’s something special about being named after someone you love and admire. As a kid, I didn’t understand how important those names would be to me as I grew older.

My grandma Mary Ann was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago. Before a doctor made official what we already knew, I watched my sweet grandmother become frustrated with herself for forgetting little things. For a few years, my birthday cards came a day or two late, something she was always on top of.

What I’d do to get a birthday card from her now. We’re lucky in that she has stayed at home. She has a husband whom she married when my son was just a baby, and he has been saint-like in sticking by her side throughout her struggles. The family has hired caregivers to assist in Grandma’s daily needs and they have been instrumental in keeping her comfortable in her own home.

Grandma Mary Ann and I used to do all kinds of things together. During the holidays, she’d take me to see The Nutcracker ballet. We were frequent visitors of the Nelson-Atkins and expert ice cream connoisseurs. We went to high tea dressed in our fanciest clothes, and we picked blueberries until we were purple from head to toe. My grandma was full of life and always dressed to the nines. She was kind, loving and would do anything for me.

I miss her so much. Anymore, when I pay her a visit, I might get a brief smile or a nod from her, but she’s not there. The person she was is gone. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love so much, someone you have so many memories with, struggle to even remember your name – a name that you share.

I have no choice but to hold onto those memories and share what I can with my son about this extraordinary woman. I’m beyond grateful that she has been a part of my life for as long as she has. Grandma Mary Ann was always the first to mention what she was thankful for each Thanksgiving and though over the years I remember rolling my eyes as she listed off the obvious, this year I’ll be silently thanking her for always loving me even if she can’t remember my name. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My first year of college, on a bright and sunny Tuesday morning, I recall pressing snooze a few times before I absolutely had to get up and get ready for my 10 a.m. class. I will never forget that morning. Shortly after the second snooze, my roommate, Melissa, came back from the shower and woke me up, telling me we needed to turn on the television. On September 11, 2001, my perception of the world was forever changed.

Bad things have happened since the beginning of man, but for the first time in my life, I saw true terrorism unfold before me live on television. Since that horrific day in 2001, we have seen threats with anthrax, shoe bombs, the Beltway snipers, bombings, gunmen, school massacres and suicide missions. A quick internet search brings back dozens of potential terrorist threats or real acts of terrorism on our country or our allies.

With these events so prevalent in our media, it is something that is always in the back of my mind. When I go to concerts, sporting events, the movie theater or even the Royals Victory parade with 800,000 in attendance, I can’t help but wonder if my safety is in question. Will this be the time and place that something awful develops, and will I be labeled a victim or a hero?

Last Friday, I watched as the news unfolded from Paris. I became more and more stoic as the death toll numbers continued to rise. I fought back tears as I learned that innocent people were being slaughtered, one by one, by evil. I saw the looks on the people’s faces as they were escorted to safety, some covered in other people’s blood, while others lay lifeless in the street.

It was a horrible scene, yet it was one that I have become all too familiar with. Of course, working in the news industry, I try and numb myself when it comes to feeling the weight of bad news. But it still affects me. Every day, it affects me. It impacts where I go, whom I take with me and how I observe the people around me.

How can we protect ourselves from the horror that wicked brings when the evildoers are so willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of terror? How do we go about our lives fearlessly? I’m not sure I have the answers. I can only do what I know how to do, which is to try and be kind to everyone I meet and spread love instead of hate. Though the list of terrorism-related events is ever-growing, I still hold tight to the belief that majority of people are good, compassionate and caring. I hope I’m right about that. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Everything I know about the 1985 World Series I’ve learned as an adult. I’ve heard all about the upset on the other side of our state from family and friends who live in St. Louis. I don’t remember any of it, as my two-year-old self was most likely busy playing dolls or other toddler things than worrying about what was going on with the Kansas City Royals.

Thirty years later, with a little boy at home who aspires to pitch in the major leagues one day, the memories of the last several weeks will last a lifetime. The Kansas City Royals pulled it off for the second time in my life.

I’m proud of the team. Like most of Kansas City, I feel as though I’ve gotten to know them over the last few years. And, they seem like a pretty decent group of guys. They’re likable. They’re passionate about baseball. And they were really excited to win.

I watched all the games. I cheered and I jeered. I celebrated Tuesday with thousands of my closest friends. I’ll be excited next spring when our favorite boys in blue return to the K.