I just returned from a 5 day stay with my son in Chicago. I went as a pre- birthday celebration for his special day coming up in a few weeks. It’s the first birthday in his almost 23 years that we won’t be together, so it was sentimental indeed. We shopped, spent Sunday at a Seahawk Bar and watched the game, played tennis and ok, I admit it, he beat me fair and square. We dined at some of Chicago’s great restaurants, and made a few home cooked meals. We toured the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and his original family home. Brett shared with me his work and we visited some sites he has with his company, Accel Entertainment. I did the normal Mama routine and did major deep clean out of all the nook and crevices in his apartment that a busy working bachelor would and did miss. I reminded him of all the nagging mom concerns, such as be sure to floss, at least the teeth you want to keep!
I’m so proud of the young man Brett is. I won’t say I’m proud of the young man he’s becoming, because he’s always made me proud.
In an Über drive through the city, I came across a young man and we started to chat. He shared that I was his first ride since moving back to Chicago from Green Bay. He looked so young, I had to ask and he said he, like my son, was in his early twenties. He was struggling to make ends meet when living in Green Bay at a 30K a year salary job as a restaurant manager. His rent was only $575 for a two bedroom, but said it was just a reflection of the tough economy. I tried to offer words of encouragement to the young man as he shared the Uber he drove was leased and the daily rental rate was $50 – $70 and how tight it was to make ends meet. We discussed his views on the plight in the South side of Chicago and the reality of the struggles around us, as we drove past multi-million dollar brown-stones in the Gold Coast. Later, I shared his story with a local high end real estate friend from Chicago, and told her he emphatically would not drive to any street with numbers in it, as that was the “danger zone”.
I can’t even fathom where my mind was 3 decades ago, at the tender age of 22. As I was trying to comprehend and motivate Brett that life really does fly by and to savor each day and grab it all, I reflected on what my goals, desires, and ambitions were then. Literally as we were having a final send off and a healthy breakfast at my hotel room, (fruit plates plus Brett’s side of well done bacon), as luck would have it, my friend, Maureen Jones sent me the below photo of me in her wedding 30 years ago.
Clad in Pepto Bismal Pink Polyester, with shoes dyed to match, and enough makeup to open a cosmetic store, I too was once 22.
I was clueless to all that life had in store. I was frightened of what my future would hold, but too naive to grasp it. My friends were getting married, and I was coveting my line priority pass to Celebrity Disco. I was a licensed realtor with Windermere, although my real focus was working in our family run rental business. I was too afraid to face the potential rejection in the real world and of a real job. I was dating the star running back for the Seahawks and being introduced to the glitz and glamour of the NFL.
I had options, many options that have led to me where I am today. Some roads and relationships were dead ends. I have made money and lost bundles. I have embraced the love of true friendships. I have lost loved ones and deeply loved. I have overcome health issues, divorce, financial hardships, and I have been blessed to raise two of the most amazing people on the planet.
Yes, I was once 22…
Brett, this is your journey- you write the script. But know I’m so proud of what I’m seeing.