2011: My Year in Review

I began the year with a difficult good-bye. As planned, Lindsay loaded up Rob’s forest green Subaru Forester with everything she could fit, including her Yorkie, Peppermint, and moved to Los Angeles. I will never forget watching her drive away and feeling pride wrestle with a longing for her to turn around and stay just a little bit longer.

The joys and heartache of parenthood are very much like a roller coaster ride. We're elated when our children are happy and near, and devastated when they are hurting. I worked intentionally to give both my daughters roots and wings, but the emptying of the nest still hurts like hell. 

Once Lindsay arrived in LA she found several part-time jobs, including personal assistant for a musician/producer with the Black Eyed Peas, model for Axe Cologne and Jameson Whiskey, and even health screener for a Walgreens ‘tour.’ She graduated from Full Sail University (completing college courses online) in June and Rob, Courtney, Lindsay’s biological father and my sister, Lisa, all traveled to Orlando to witness this well-earned rite of passage.

The celebration began with a great dinner, with toasts to all followed up by a trip to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon the next day. Lindsay’s two dads then headed home but the four women spent four more days in the Disney Parks.

Now I happen to adore Disney, but now might be the time to mention that I found out shortly before we left that I had broken my fibula (the smaller bone in your calf) during a maneuver to squat in a dress without revealing anything that apparently replicated the same deft maneuver skiers do while most often breaking their fibulas. Who knew? And I haven’t skied since high school! So, I was in a wheelchair or on crutches for a month, thereby missing any and all rides in the parks.

Lindsay made it home four times this year, including Christmas. And we made it to Cali, too, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Courtney spent her second year in her lovely apartment on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago and has Monday ‘girls’ night’ with her Aunt Lisa, who has lived in her lovely one-bedroom at Chestnut and Dearborn for more than a dozen years. Courtney now works at J. Crew and balances work and school, leaving little time for much else. Courtney turned 20 in June. She did not come home this summer, so Rob and I experienced our first summer as ‘empty nesters.’ I missed her terribly.

Courtney is planning to study abroad and, as a fashion student, has set her sights on Paris. It is amazing to me that the shy little girl who never wanted to leave my side has grown into this strong, adventurous woman ready to take on the world. I look forward to visiting her wherever she goes, but I do have a soft spot for Paris.

Rob received a wonderful commission this year: to paint the portrait of former Congressman Louis Stokes for the new Veterans’ Association Medical Center in Cleveland’s University Circle. The full-length portrait was unveiled in a special dedication on Veterans’ Day. I was honored to stand alongside Rob and a Congressman I’ve long admired for his work on behalf of people who are poor.

Rob, Lindsay, Courtney and I did return to Lakeside this summer, my favorite summer getaway. There is an unmistakable peace and joy that descends on us when we pass through those gates.

In October, we traveled to California for our nephew’s wedding. We enjoyed a couple of days with the parents of the groom, Rob’s brother Peter and his wife Kelly, in their beautiful home in Manhattan Beach before driving up to San Luis Obisbo for the wedding. We also spent three days in Santa Barbara, now my favorite town on the west coast!

I completed my first year at the Cleveland Institute of Music. I feel fortunate to work in a building where beautiful music flows out of the performance halls and practice rooms each day. I am inspired by the passion of the young musicians who practice more than they sleep and yet find time to volunteer to teach at the Cleveland School of the Arts, perform in waiting rooms at area hospitals and nursing homes, and share their love of music with everyone they meet.