Thursday, December 19, 2013

Somewhere In My Memory

Christmas time is here!  Happiness and cheer!

Sigh.  I just love Christmas.  I always have.  The decorations, the tree, the anticipation, giving gifts, getting's all just so super. 

I spent some time last night reminiscing over my favorite Christmas memories from years past.  I am so blessed to have so many. 

When I was a small child, Christmas eve was spent at my grandparents house.  My fun-loving and mischievous grandfather would dress up as Santa, complete with jingle bells and a huge sack filled with presents for me, my brother and cousins.  He would even make noises upstairs that would mimic the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof.  When I got wise to him (having noticed that Santa had the same WWII injured hand that my Pop did), my uncle took over.  When a different Santa came down the stairs that year, my mind was completely blown!  It wasn't my Pop Pop after all!  Santa was real!

On Christmas night my Dad and I would bundle up after dinner and take our annual walk.  We would critique and evaluate every decorated house we could find. And if you know NE Philly, and specifically Mayfair, this means nearly every single house. In addition, we would take note of those scary moving figures.  You know the ones.  The angels with the candles, or the Santa and Mrs. Claus.  There was one, in particular, on Sackett street that was especially macabre.  We would make up elaborate stories about how the Christmas angel would come to life and murder everyone with her plastic lighted candle.  Every year we would say the same thing.  No house was a beautiful as ours.  My mom was always the reigning queen of Christmas in our neighborhood.

While I have plenty of wonderful Christmas memories of my Dad, it was really my mom who made Christmas so much more special then I could even have dreamed.  First, every square inch of our house was decorated.  Tastefully so.  No inflatables for the Macklin's.  The big picture window was always done in snowflakes and white lights with a big Moravian star in the center.  The first year she put that star up caused quite a stir.  The following year we definitely noticed at least 5 houses in the neighborhood with the same star.  Lights, candles, poinsettias!  It was all there.  I do my windows the same way.  I even use the same kinds of candles.  I like decorating and my boys say I'm good at it.  Everything I know I learned from my mom.  

The tree.  We always had a real tree.  Usually it was a douglas fir, which is the same kind I get for my own house.  Every year, for nearly two decades, my parents and I would travel to Bucks county to the same tree farm where you could cut your own tree.  My mother, again, was in charge.  She would take strips of ribbon with her to mark potential trees.  Slowly narrowing it down to the best one.  My dad would cut it down, which was amusing because he almost never did it right.  We took it home and my mother took to the very serious task of putting the colored lights on.  Always start from the bottom and zig zag your way in and out of the tree.  That way the tree looks like it's glowing from the inside.  Only when the lights and garland were on were my father and I allowed near it.  The ornaments were my favorite.  We were one of those families that collected ornaments for every trip or event in our lives.  My dad's massive heart attack?  On there.  Our trip to Hawaii?  A santa in board shorts carrying a pineapple.  My mother even saved a teeny little snowman I made in preschool.  I had colored it completely black.  It's my favorite.  When people would come to our house my father would show them every ornament on the tree.  Teenage-me would roll my eyes, but I loved it.  Every second. 

Now, I have a family of my own.  Having a child at Christmas is where it's at.  Seriously.  It's like getting to live those wonderful childhood christmases of your own all over again.  The joy of carefully arranging the toys under the tree and the anticipation of Charlie seeing them for the first time is unlike any other kind of joy I've experienced.  And my husband?  Well I call him Mr. Christmas.  He lives for the season.  Actually starts counting down sometime in June.  I love that about him.  My little guy loves it too, it's hard not to with Nick as your father. 

I hope that you have your own special memories of Christmas.  I am joyful and thankful this year for everything and everyone in my life.  I am very very lucky.  I hope you and yours have a very merry and bright holiday!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Worst Day

On Tuesday it will be one year since my dad died.  One year since I felt his strong, old heart beat one last time through my hand on his chest.

It was Monday, September 10th 2012.  My third full day of the new school year.  As I was packing up to leave for the day, my cell phone rang.  3:12 p.m.  It was my mother and she was crying.  "It's Dad." she said  "It's bad." she said "You need to come......bleeding on the support.....hurry."

I rushed home, got Nick, got Charlie and set out for a drive from South Jersey to Scranton.  During rush hour.  Never knowing if my father was ok, if he would die before I got there, if I would arrive at the hospital and see him sitting up in bed with his ankles crossed.  Chiding my mother for dragging me up to the mountains in a panic......again.

I got to the hospital and ran to the ICU.  I arrived at the waiting room to see my mother through the narrow window.  She was sitting alone, in a chair against the wall.  Staring at the floor with her shoulders slumped.  Tears fell into her lap and stained her jeans.  Even though we wouldn't know for sure for some time, in that moment I just felt that he was gone.  I could see it in her.  Like her heart, her body knew that he was dead.  It was 7 p.m.  Big Bang Theory was playing on the waiting room TV.

Now, I'm no stranger to seeing my father in hospitals.  When I was in first grade he had a massive heart attack and a triple bypass.  Strokes, surgeries, another bypass.  It was old hat for us.  But I have never seen him with tubes down his throat.  The mechanical click of his chest rising and falling as a machine breathed for him.  I went to him and kissed his head.  I bent down to whisper in his ear, telling him "Dad, it's Kathleen.  I love you, Daddy.  If you have to go, just go.  We understand."

The doctor came in and told us what we had always, sort of, known.  He was gone.  No brain function.  Stroke?  Aneurysm?  We're still not quite sure.  We decided to donate his organs.  While we didn't know for sure if that's what he would have wanted, we thought it sounded like him.  There were a few hours waiting for those people, and even in the end, it didn't work out.  (Please get your act together, Gift of Life)  Then the tubes came out.  The doctors have to prepare the family when the actual dying process begins.  It's rather horrifying, really.  They say that the person can writhe in pain, gasp for breath, shake and shudder.  Luckily (ha!) for us, none of that happened to my darling dad.  It was peaceful.  Very much so.  My mother sat by his head, stroking his hair, which still smelled like Head and Shoulders.  She told him over and over again how much she loved him and that she thanked him for her wonderful life.  My nephew, Luc was at his head on the other side.  I sat with one of my hands in his and one hand on his chest.  This is how we sat until he died.  Sometime after that, a nurse came in and opened a window.  She told us it was to help his transition.  It was 10:42 p.m.

Here I am now.  A year later.  We're all doing ok.  My mom I am most proud of.  She's come a long way since those early days of crippling grief.  Soon, she will be moving to New Jersey to be closer to all of us.  Charlie is very excited to have his Mom-Mom close.  They are buddies.  My nephew Luc, after having spent over 10 years living with my parents, is back with his father.  They are thriving.  I cannot believe what a wonderful young man Luc is becoming.  I am proud of him.  My brother too.  And me?  Well I just keep on keeping on.

I still think about him every day.  I still cry.  I still think to call him a thousand times a day to ask him questions that only he knows the answer to.  Like  "Dad, what is that John Wayne movie you were in?"  or   "Dad, tell me about the time you and your dad stole a picnic table from Sears with the unwitting help of store security."   "Dad, tell me about the time you ran across the country while being chased by military police, just so you could be at your mother's side as she died."

And boy oh boy, do I wish he would see his grandson.  Charlie has that big ol' square head that only Macklins have.  And just like me, and my dad, he likes to relax with his bare feet up and his ankles crossed.

I've never posted it before, and few people got to hear it because I was forbidden from reading it at the service, but here's the eulogy I wrote for my father.

I saw a blue jay this morning.  I knew it was a blue jay because my dad taught me about birds.  Birds, fishing, wildlife and Nature.  He taught me About music, film, history, literature, travel, love, how to pick a good husband and how to be a parent to my son.  Most importantly though, he taught me to squeeze the most joy I could from this one life i've been given.  Many times, when people lose a loved one they often say "he or she lived a full life." without really being sure if they did.  Well, I think  we all know that in my dad's case, a "full life" is an understatement.  

He truly was the best man I have ever known.  He laughed long and loud.  He was fiercely protective of the people he loved.  And when he loved you, he loved you completely, without judgement and condition.  He was remarkable.  Always up for a party, a hug, or reminiscing over budweiser and pretzels.  In my case, he was up for driving me around to violin lessons or happily sitting through long rehearsals with nothing but a book to read.  

I could stand up here for days regaling of you of all the adventures we took, from little things like walking outside during thunderstorms to our hundreds of thrilling vacations, but I won't.  I will tell you about the bittersweet look on his face when he saw me in my wedding dress.  The look of pure unadulterated wonder and adoration when he held my newborn son.  The pride in his smile when I played the violin.  And the comfortable look of a lifetime of love when he smiled at my mom.  I see my dad so very  much in my son.  Especially in the way his eyes crinkle and sparkle when he smiles and laughs.  I am grateful for that.  I am humble and grateful to have such a perfect dad.  Our dad, your husband, your friend, cousin, brother and pop-pop.  Our lives will never ever be the same.  We are lucky to have known and loved you.  Will will carry your light with us wherever we go.  We will promise to live our lives with joy.  Just like you did.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

School Yard Bullies; All Grown Up

Boy, have I been away from this blog for quite some time.  I have mucho updating to do.  There's been some light (I lost 115 pounds!  My kid is spectacular!).  There's also been some dark (My father died suddenly!).  I will cover all those awesome and horrible things but today, I need to talk about bullies.  Like, I really really need to get this off my chest.

Bullying is a huge issue right now.  With KIDS.  I think that the world, at large, has been doing a great job about raising awareness and fighting bullying.  However, everyone seems to forget that "bullies" don't just disappear once you don that graduation cap.  They grow up to become ADULT bullies which, in my opinion, are far worse. 

They are in your social circles.  You may call them "frienemies".  What a cutsie little nickname for a person that can pretty much ruin your entire social life.

Are you a parent?  Yes?  Well, I've got news for you.  Other mommies are the nastiest of the bunch.  Instead of supporting each other and appreciating (or at least tolerating) the fact that there are a million ways to raise a child, they would just as soon stab you right in the front (no backstabbing here!  not for these cut-throat ladies!  right in the gut!).

And personal favorite......

Workplace bullies. 

The internet told me the following facts:

  • The Phenomena of “work place bullying and mobbing” is little known, which is surprising, since it affects 70% of working Americans at some time in their career.
  • According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, an abusive boss is more likely to be a woman than a man. Woman to woman bullying represents 50 percent of all workplace bullying; man to woman is 30 percent, man to man 12 percent and woman to man bullying is extremely rare — only 8 percent.
  • In 2008, Dr. Judy Fisher-Blando wrote a doctoral research dissertation on Aggressive Behavior: Workplace Bullying and Its Effect on Job Satisfaction and Productivity. The scientific study determined that almost 75% of employees surveyed had been affected by workplace bullying, whether as a target or a witness. Source
  • A European study from 2009 showed that the risk for bullying increased with a woman as boss. For women the risk of getting abused increased with 100 percent with a female boss. For men the risk increased with 80 percent. The study was made by the organisation Eurofond and included 21 000 participants. Source
I didn't do any fact checking.  It's just my blog after all.  However, I'm lead to believe this is true.  I've never ever had a problem with a male boss.  (Except my boss at the Hershey Red Robin that once said my ass was too fat to be a waitress).  Female bosses, on the other hand, I've really struggled with.  I don't know what it is.  I've always had female friends.  I've had some really awesome female bosses and have worked with many women in positions of authority.  I've even held some positions of authority myself.   I just can't deal with being bullied, disrespected and basically....abused.  It's like a perfect storm of a hostile working environment. 

All that being said, if you were in this position, how would you handle an abusive boss or co-worker?  Would you handle it passively.....just take the abuse?  Would you begin to bully the bully?  Or is there another way?  Share your stories with me.

Friday, November 25, 2011


My grandmother passed away this evening. We've been preparing for this for quite some time. We even knew it would happen soon. But nothing prepares. Nothing makes the loss feel any easier.

I'm home alone tonight. I just got the news and I haven't anyone to talk to at the moment. I don't know what else to do with my time now but sit here and write about her.

She was a remarkable woman who lived. I mean, we all live...but she LIVED. She made music, and artwork, cookies, and babies and houses. She laughed, joked, danced and had quite a knack for using slang. She had three husbands. Yes, that's right, three.

Most importantly though, she taught me about the steadfast love of family.

Growing up around the corner from my grandparents was nothing short of heaven. My grandmother would walk me to Jean's for some "nourishment" (ice cream). We would play records, go to the mall to sample perfume or go to Vitalli's for dinner only because they had a child-sized sink in the ladies room. Later, during my tumultuous teen years, hers was the door I ran to when I had an argument with my Dad. She taught me about leadership. She ran the auxiliary of the Disabled American Veterans like a well-oiled ship.

Before I was born and two husbands in, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. They operated on her and removed it, but it left her in a vegetative state. They weren't sure she would ever fully recover. But through stubbornness, my grandfather's perseverance and a little bit of crocheting, she not only recovered but stood in line to catch the bouquet at my wedding.

Oh, how I loved my grandmom. She was always happiness, light and sweet smells. Sitting there, watching her fingers deftly create some new piece of artwork could occupy me for hours. Sadly, I did not inherit her gift for knitting and crocheting. But I did inherit her baking skills. I thought of her yesterday as I added my own touch to some pumpkin pie. I still have her famous cookie recipe. It's written on note paper in her typical scrawl. I think that if my house were on fire, that would be one of the things I would save.

Every time I left her house, she would stand at the door with her arms crossed across her chest. I would get to the bottom of the steps, turn to her and do the same. It was the sign for "I Love You'.

My grandfather passed away 10 years ago. They had a perfect marriage. I guess "third time's a charm" really was the case. He made her laugh. They traveled and cooked and played. She would make him put on a Santa suit every christmas.

Right now I'm clinging to the comforting notion of heaven. I imagine her this way: tall, thin, young. Her blonde hair impeccably curled. Walking into that local dance right after WWII. Seeing that handsome, cigar clutching Purple Heart winner. He leads her onto the dance floor and holds her for the first time/again. She is happy. She is at peace. She is home.

I miss you already, Grandmom. I'll forever be your sugarplum.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Such A Pretty Fat

I really, really mean it this time.

I'm finally having weight loss surgery. The insurance said YES and the date is set. September 1st.
On, September 1st, I will willingly say goodbye to 85% of my stomach.


I'm fat. Really fat. I've only been reeeeeally fat for about 3 years now. But, believe me, I've always been fat. Hell, I was fat back in 1988 with a poodle perm mullet thing. (Thanks for that, Mom)

Being fat is a very public affair. There's no hiding my size. Everyone knows I'm fat. You can see my fat from a mile away. Literally. No amount of Spanx will ever shrink what I'm sporting. There's this plus-sized store called Torrid and I'M EVEN TOO FAT FOR THAT STORE. It's only been since I had the baby where my weight has really started to restrict me. Sure, I can get down on the floor. But...I can't get back up without some serious acrobatics.

Gosh, writing about this is humiliating. Being fat is a humiliating, public affair. People always think they know what life is like for the morbidly obese. They think it's laziness or a lack of will-power. It's almost never because of that. I know some lazy-ass skinny people who eat nothing but junk. It's strenuous stuff carrying the equivalent of two garbage bags filled with rocks!

I may seem immune to it now. I make jokes about my weight and have learned to speak about it frankly. But it is no less humiliating. Here are some of the ways my weight has embarrassed me over the years.

1. I broke a beach chair. Last week....alone with the baby at one of Nick's concerts. There were, like, 30 people sitting around me.

2. Going to a restaurant is always a challenge. Can I fit in the booth?

3. I once went into The Limited to get a giftcard for a friend. A salesperson blocked my path and asked "Can I help you?" I responded; "No, thanks, I'm ok." She said "Are you sure? We don't carry clothes in YOUR size here." She replied with a shudder.

4. A friend once said "Why don't I have a boyfriend? I mean, obviously it isn't about looks. After all...YOU got a boyfriend."

5. I once broke a PICNIC TABLE. (Now, I'm not entirely sure I can add this one. The table was broken already and I was just coming off the Atkins diet and only weighed 150.) But still, years of embarrassment told me it broke because I was fat.

6. I had a really serious car accident a few years ago. After the firefighters cut the door off I saw the paramedics with the stretcher. I thought for sure they wouldn't be able to hold me so I screamed and ranted until they let me try to walk. They didn't relent.....thank god. Again, Post-Atkins so I was relatively slim.

7. My obscenely hot OB whispering in my ear pre-c-section "Now, I don't want you to be embarrassed by this...but we may need to tape your belly up after we're done stitching." My self-deprecating response? "Oh, it's ok. I stopped being embarrassed by being fat ages ago."

8. Writing this post is humiliating.

9. A costumer told me I needed to get a corset so that everything could be "put in its rightful place" Whatever the hell that meant. This was done in a public email sent to the entire cast of the show.

10. I'm constantly underestimating the size of my ass. I'm always bumping into things.

11. Theaters of any kind are nerve-wracking. Will I fit in the seat? Will a stranger sit next to me? Will they feel the overflow of my sizable thighs?

12. My BFF's best man at her wedding; "I'm surprised to see you as a bridesmaid." Me; "What? Why?" "Well, I honestly didn't think they made bridesmaid dresses in such large sizes." (I had just met him.)

13. There are almost no pictures of me and my son. That's sad.

14. I know that I am described as "the fat girl" or "she's heavy" or "the big girl".

I think I'll stop there. Before I jump out a window or take too many advil.

I'm having weight-loss surgery in less than a week! I haven't eaten a morsel of solid food in three weeks. For anyone who thinks I am "taking the easy way out", I encourage you to contact me so that you may be schooled.

This post is dedicated to JKD who, in fact, did not break the dolphin. It was rusted already...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Dear John letter.

My Dearest MM,

We first met on November 26th 1997. I was home for my first holiday during my first semester away at college. I was 17 years old. I, timidly, reached out for you that first night. From that first touch, I knew you were trouble. I knew I was a goner. At first, it was sweet and easy. You introduced me to your other friends. What a spectacular "devil-may-care" group of people! Oh, I was in love! Addicted to that head rush! That tingle!

However, not long after those heady first days of new love, I began to have this nagging suspicion that you just weren't all beach days and camel rides. There was something bewilderingly sinister behind your smokey smile. My friends tried to warn me! "This is bad for you." "It's going to KILL you." "Stay away!"; they cried. So I did. I stayed away. Or at least that's what they thought. But, in reality, I was still seeing you. Stolen moments behind the pizza place when I worked at the neighborhood Hallmark store. An embrace during a "walk" around Pennypack park. It was scandalous! I fell deeper and deeper into your grasp.

I knew better, then. I've always known that being with you was not a positive life choice. But I was so tangled up with you that nothing could stop me. I even invited you too my wedding! There are pictures of me cavorting around with you on the dance floor! I've lied to my husband to be with you. My family, my friends, my students! I've behaved shamefully.

I did stop seeing you...for awhile. Do you remember? I had to leave. You see, I had found myself expecting a child. A son. And suddenly my love for him obliterated the love I had for you. Being with you wasn't good for him either. When I was with you I couldn't even breathe. You were literally breaking my heart. A heart that was now beating for two. So, I packed up and left. Did you miss me during that time? Did you feel sadness? Longing? I did.

That, the latest of my many breakup attempts, failed after 14 months. Over a year I managed to thrive without you. But, I ran into some of our mutual friends. They helped bring us together again and, just like in the beginning, I was hooked.

My darling. My companion. My relief. The time has come for me to leave for good. I'm sorry. I'd like to think that you'd miss me. It was 14 years together. I've grown from an unsure teenager to a determined woman. I've changed. You haven't. I have to start thinking of me. Take care of me. Oh, I'll never forget you. How could I? All those happy times. Seems like you were there for almost all of my happy moments. I know you think that I'll never get over you. I admit that it will be hard. Painful and full of anxiety. But believe me, I can do it. I know it's in me.

You are here with me. Right now. Right next to me, in fact. A storm is brewing and I know we must go inside soon. I am here with you now. In the morning...I'll be gone. Please don't try to find me.

My dearest. My love. My Marlboro menthol lights Man. Goodbye.


Your girl, Kathleen

Friday, June 17, 2011


It's Nick's first Father's Day.

I wish I could do something really spectacular for him. Give him anything and everything his little heart desires. He deserves so much.

I've been wanting to write about Nick's journey into fatherhood for a while now. I always knew he'd be a great dad. He's kind, sensitive and has an endless amount of energy and an unquenchable lust for life.

Last Valentine's Day, when I came out the bathroom to tell Nick I was pregnant he was standing unloading the dish washer. I said; "I'm pregnant." He said "Cool." and then proceeded to continue with his unloading. It was a strange reaction. But, Nick is a strange guy after all.

Not soon after that, he began to transform. He read books such as "My Boys Can Swim" and spent hours looking up all things pregnancy on the internet. He went to every appointment. He went to every class. He tested strollers in the Babies R' Us. Testing their handling and cornering in case he was ever in a high speed chase on foot....with a baby. He used to sing to me; "We're having a baby. A tropical baby" Before we knew Charlie was a boy I used to ask him if he wanted a boy or a girl. He always said "I don't care." Then, on the way to find out the sex, he said "You know, I think I want a boy." The joy and awe on his face when the ultrasound technician said "I think it's a very proud little boy" were incredible.

Then came the preparations. Nick sprang into action. Getting only the safest (read: most expensive) paint and spending the days putting together swings and bouncy seats.

When all the clothes were folded, and the paint was dry, we waited. Then Charlie came and they placed him into Nick's arms and he has never let him go.

I'm not afraid to admit that he took to fatherhood much faster and much more smoothly than I took to motherhood. For him, the bond was instantaneous. I knew our son was safe in his arms. That he would move heaven and earth to protect us both.

I didn't change a single diaper until Charlie was two weeks old.

They quickly became best friends. Nick researched all the ways to calm a newborn and could stop Charlie's frantic little cries in mere seconds. If swaddling newborns were an Olympic sport, he would have taken the gold.

He has patience that knows no bounds. He remains calm always. In those hazy, exhausting, confusing early days he got up with us every night. Brought me cold water and animal crackers during our countless 3 a.m. nursing sessions.

Now we've settled into a nice little routine. He's taken over a lot of the feeding since I no longer nurse. He plays many games of airplane with sweet potatoes and butternut squash puree. Bath time is "No Girls Allowed." He's still changing most of the diapers.

Charlie is 8 months old now. He thinks that his father is the funniest, most fascinating person that ever lived. Sometimes just the mere sight of him sends him into fits of tinkling baby giggles. He doesn't laugh like that for me. That's ok though. I'm happy they have something that special. It's like their own little boy's club.

Nick, each day you astonish me. Your love for me is unending and you make such efforts so that I know it. I am so grateful and lucky that Charlie and I have you. He's such a lucky boy. It makes me happy and calm to know that you will always support him and care for him and look out for him. Everything you've done...every decision you've made for him has been the right thing. I love watching you with him. It fills me with such joy and fulfillment. I look forward to watching you teach him how to walk, ride a bike, drive, tie a tie. I cannot wait to hear the advice you give him on his wedding day. He is a lucky boy. I am a lucky woman. The world is a lucky place...because you're in it.

Happy Father's Day, my love.