Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Friday, March 04, 2005

Of Nordstrom, Cherry Blossoms, St. Jude, and Wine

There was a fundraiser for St. Jude last night in San Diego, The Cherry Blossom Odyssey, a dinner and auction at The Harbor House, a seafood restaurant on the harbor downtown.

The day before the fundraiser, it suddenly dawned on me that the nice clothes I had bought for the kids almost two years ago in April 2003 for Steven's First Communion just might not fit any more. We haven't done much shopping in the last year, Doug theorized that the handouts I was getting in Memphis might somehow be related to the state of the kids' clothing, so it seemed like a shopping trip was in order.

Taking both of my kids to Nordstrom at the same time to buy clothes is just one notch above having bamboo stakes driven underneath my fingernails on my "fun things to do" list. When we got to the dressing room, the doors were locked, the sales woman took off to get keys, but she needn't have bothered-- the kids crawled under the doors and were wrestling on the floor in the nice clothes they were supposed to be trying on when she finally got back after not being able to locate the key.

Every time I would leave to get another size of something, I would return to see pants, shirts, shoes flying over and under the wall separating their adjacent dressing rooms.

Another boy, about nine years old, walked into the dressing rooms, found the door of the last empty room locked, and promptly crawled under the door as well. Soon he was also participating in the clothing war.

I finally figured out that the locked dressing rooms were to keep the adults out, making it far easier for the kids to conduct their clothing wars undisturbed.

Somehow we survived that trip and managed to get the kids dressed for dinner. Look how long Sean's tie is. Do ties come in different lengths for kids? It never even occurred to me until we were getting ready, but I don't think I'll be returning to Nordstrom with the kids anytime soon. The good part is that Sean will still be able to wear that tie when he's fifteen.

We got to the restaurant and the kids sat at the table while Doug and I conversed with the St. Jude event organizers. When I returned to the table, Steven and Sean asked me if I could get them something to drink, since there was nothing for them. There were four glasses of a clear cold liquid on the table when they got there, and since they were thirsty after all the wrestling they'd been doing before we got there, they each both took a big slug of what they assumed was water, but turned out to be wine.

A waiter came over and apologized to me profusely for pouring my kids glasses of wine. I told him that after spending six months shoveling deadly poison into Steven (even his pee was toxic), and giving him a double adult dose of ativan every time he gets an IV put in, a glass of wine just didn't seem like a big deal any more.

How our experiences have changed us...

Our family got up in front of the group and Doug spoke about Steven's illness and how good St. Jude has been to us. I am always glad when he does the talking, its such an emotional thing for me and I don't want to break into tears in front of a roomful of strangers.

There were two other St. Jude families there, the little girl on the left is Elizabeth, a 6-year old girl with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), to the right of Steven is Jason, a 20-something longterm survivor of child leukemia.

We are so grateful for the people who donate to St. Jude, making it possible for them to advance the state of research into catastrophic illnesses and to help kids like Steven, Elizabeth, and Jason.

- Kathleen

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