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July 26, 2005 - Tuesday, 10:19 a.m.

Curt's Birthday - 19!

My baby turns 19 today. Unbelievable. Where did the years go? It really doesn’t seem that long ago that they were all babies, now they are all grown men. Curtis was a handful. He was constantly into stuff the minute he started crawling. And adventuresome!!

I started working just after he turned one, like within a couple weeks, and I worked nights 11 pm til 7 am. I had to find time in the day to sleep, as their dad worked days. I would lay down with Curtis to take a ‘nap’. I once remember waking up and the apartment was filled with smoke. I was out of bed and in the kitchen in about 10 seconds. There was Curtis standing on a chair by the stove. All four burners were on red hot, and there was a cast iron frying pan on one burner, and about 3 or 4 eggs with the shells in the pan and they were burnt black, smoke billowing out of the pan. I saw this all in about 2 seconds and put him on the floor and asked him, “What are you doing?” His response? “Making eggs!” He was three!!

Another time I woke up with him standing beside me with a Mr. Freeze and a chef’s knife. What the…?!?! He wanted me to open it for him. Most of the time I was up as soon as he woke up from his nap. I worked that shift for about 4 years. How many nights I went to work with only two or three hours of sleep I cannot recall.

Curtis was a wanderer too. It was vital that the boys keep the gate in the front yard closed so he wouldn’t escape. Two times I recall they left it open. One time he was just crawling and he crawled out across our street and was sitting by the curb across the street. GAH!! The second time was by far worse. Our four-plex was off Fillmore, only one building away. It’s a busy street. I was making dinner. Curtis was about 2 or 3 and was out playing in the front yard. The gate was closed. I would walk to the front door and check him every couple of minutes. I was back working on dinner when there was a knock at the door. There was a man standing at the door with Curtis standing next to him. He asked, “Does he belong to you?” I said, “Yes.” “Well… I just found him out in the middle of Fillmore and brought him here cuz this was the closest place.” OH MY GOD!! I thanked him and spent the rest of the evening castigating myself. We moved from that location shortly after that into a quiet neighborhood. Still Curtis could not be contained. When Gary went to work in the morning he’d drop the boys at the neighbors up the street. Dee did daycare in her home. The intent was that I would sleep for a few hours and pick up Curtis at about 11 when I went to get Philip. The older boys were in school. Justin was in 1st grade and Philip was in kindergarten. One day when I went to pick him up Dee had a story for me. The kids usually played out in her backyard. She had a six foot wood fence and swings and such in her yard. She said that day she’d looked out her kitchen window and couldn’t find Curtis. She went out into the yard to find him. He wasn’t there. She asked the other kids. “Where is Curtis?” They told her that he’d climbed the fence and left. She freaked out, and started searching the neighborhood. She found him sitting on our front step waiting for me to come home. So I went back to picking him up as soon as I got home from work and then went back to sneaking sleep whenever I could get it.

Curtis has always been attached to me. If I sat down in the living room he was on my lap. If I lay down to watch TV on my bed, he was there. If I went anywhere he wanted to be with me. I’ve always known that he needs me. It’s a good feeling even if it is hard to have someone that wants your attention 24-7.

He had a terrible temper as a kid. He would actually get hopping mad. I was the only one that could calm him. When he was little I just hold him, hug him, sing to him and say prayers and I could just feel the anger dissipate from his body. Now, I just come into the room and touch his shoulder and make him look me in the eye. He can’t hold onto the anger if he is looking into my eyes.

My boys are so much to themselves. I guess perhaps that is men. They don’t talk much about how they feel. They don’t talk about their hopes and dreams. I just have to do what I can. Encourage as much as I can, point them to the right path as often as they’ll listen… and love them. I can love them, and I do so very, very much.

Happy Birthday, Babe. I love you.

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