Cancer, She Said

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: September 20th, 2011  |  Category: (New)clear family, Cancer Chaos  |  Comments: 4 comments »

Like breaking up with a boyfriend, there is no easy way to tell your daughter you have cancer. At first, my mom hid the news from me because we were apart. She hadn’t been feeling well for several weeks, so I wasn’t surprised when she finally went to the doctor and called me to say that yes, something in fact was going on. “It’s gallstones,” she said.

“Can you come home?” she continued. That surprised me.

My mom rarely asked me to do things for her. Sure, she asked me to help with this or that around the apartment or maybe drop off dry cleaning, stop for gas or run an errand while I was out. But typically her requests were never much of a burden. She was the type of mother who was simply more comfortable going out of her way to make me comfortable.

So, when she asked me to take [...]

Fast Walking My Way to Family Tradition

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: July 26th, 2011  |  Category: (New)clear family  |  Comments: 5 comments »

Last week I wrote about creating new memories and traditions to compensate for a parentless (or soon to be parentless) problem: the fading family blueprint.

Along with important medical and family history, I’ve lost little traditions and rituals that my mom and I shared, such as snacking in bed together while watching MLS soccer games. Going to see a movie (99.2% of the time it was a romcom) followed by a visit to Cheesecake Factory – a chain restaurant favorite. (Don’t turn up your nose until you’ve tried the Luau Salad followed by Aunt Linda’s chocolate cake.)

And while I miss these mother-daughter moments, the 18 months following her death have brought new traditions and rituals. For example, as honorary member of the Rutenberg family, I have a beach house! It’s in Bethany Beach, Delaware, and I enjoy sunning on the deck, visits to Candy Kitchen and fast walks in the morning [...]

Juggling The Family Balls

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: June 30th, 2011  |  Category: (New)clear family  |  Comments: Say Something »

The nuts and bolts of family life are pretty straightforward for a nuclear family of two, like my mom and me. Pizza, Chinese or pasta for dinner? You only have to check on one other person’s appetite. Planning a trip? You only have to compare two schedules, and so on.

Family dynamics are even less complex for a nuclear family of two females. Who is in charge of the TV remote after a long day? Well, it doesn’t really matter because you’re either watching Grey’s Anatomy or Ally McBeal. I can only remember one time, in the late 1980s, when football was broadcasted in our apartment. And that was because my out-of-town uncle was visiting.

Have you ever tried to juggle two balls in one hand? If you haven’t, it’s pretty easy. But try tossing in a third ball, and you’ll be practicing for weeks – maybe months – before you get [...]