Total Magic

Oh you guys: as I mentioned in Eternal Memory this past week, we celebrated Dia de los Muertos at our house Friday night. Yeah, yeah…we’re not Mexican. I know. My oldest kinda rolled his eyes and said the same thing. The teenager in him was skeptical about my plans at first but since it involved doing something together as a family, he was game.

jarl-schmidt-557318-unsplashWe gathered in our family room, brought a bunch of candles in and lit them. Three on the fireplace, three near the fireplace, and three more scattered throughout the room. I love candlelight and it made our little gathering feel sacred.

We really didn’t know how to begin so my husband Ryun started off with a brief prayer. I made a comment about how those we know in heaven are gathered around us, at which point our oldest remarked that if he saw an extra face in the TV or in the corner of the room, he was outta there, which made us all laugh.

I didn’t know where to start, but I brought in several picture albums that my sister made for us siblings, copies of the photos my mom had in her stash. And then I started to talk about my dad, how he was one of seven kids who made it to adulthood, and how three had died as babies. I talked about his character, his parents, who he was close to, what he did in WWII, what he did for a living, and his courtship with my mom. How he had a booming, nasally singing voice such that I felt bad for the woman who sat in front of him in church as her ears had to be ringing by the end of service! How I’d stand next to him in church every Sunday, not much taller than his kneecap, and he’d peer down at me during the sung responses to say, “I can’t hear you”. Dad was the one who expected me to sing from the moment I could.

I told of how he was indebted to his older sister Sue for getting him his job at the local steel plant, a job he kept for 40+ years, and he repaid her year after year for decades by spending his vacation time traveling to Cleveland and working on whatever needed done at her house – like tiling the bathrooms. How he was laid off for a time before I was born and painted houses to get by and provide for his family of four at home. How he never advanced to foreman despite his obvious intelligence and work ethic, because he made the bold mistake of telling his boss that he was a liar….and I have no doubt his supervisor must have been all that and more for my dad to say so to his face. How proud he was to get a watch from the company upon his retirement.

I told our kids how dad broke his collarbone in his early 50s before there was physical therapy and had a hard time getting his arm above his head ever since. How much he hustled and worked hard. If something broke in our house he was ON IT immediately, tearing apart an entire washing machine, for example, until he could find the mechanical piece that wore out so he could run to the store for its replacement. My dad had a work ethic like NOBODY I’ve ever seen.

He was strong, quiet, sensitive, stubborn as hell, smart, hard-working, but a big old softie too. The first time I ever remember seeing him cry was my aunt’s funeral where he broke down sobbing. He had a genuine soft spot for kids too. He preferred to rent the little house behind our home to single mothers as he knew they’d be safe under his watch and they’d take good care of the place. He always kept the cookie jar in our kitchen filled to the brim and the kitchen door unlocked during the day so little kids could help themselves any time they wanted.

I told our kids that once dad made up his mind, you would not change it no matter how compelling your case. How he really disliked conflict but he would still make effort to right a wrong. How when he was in the hospital for the final time, he was unfailingly kind and grateful for the care he received.

Telling these stories was so cool.

Then I did the same for mom, who was one of eight kids. I talked about her twin sisters, her divorced, unapologetically bachelor, gambling, drinking brother Andy with the jet black hair who everyone called Blackie, her adored kid brother named Louis (Louie), a guy who loved to draw, who died way too young at 32…and it’s not lost on me what my last name is. How all her siblings were good-looking, well-groomed, and well dressed even though they didn’t have a lot of money to their name.

I talked about the Cut N Curl beauty shop that my Aunt Mary operated with her twin Nancy and mom during the war. Three tiny, drop-dead gorgeous, oh-so-feisty, lively women engaged in riotous laughter with the customers/friends – how that salon had to be THE place to be. Women worked in the factories while the men were gone off to war but the women didn’t sacrifice beauty: they got their hair done every week no matter what. How my beloved Aunt Nancy would squeeze my cheeks to give me a kiss followed immediately by a full-on bite, leaving a big old wet imprint of teeth marks that would hurt for a full minute after. So gross. Our kids begged me to demonstrate so I did, and they were as horrified as I always was when I was done. We broke down in a fit of giggles.

I told them how the best memories of my mom were when somebody would grab her at a wedding to polka. She loved to dance but dad didn’t know how. How I can still picture Sundays in our house, the sun pouring through the windows, and mom in our big kitchen heating up dinner in the early afternoon after church with the Polka Party blaring on the radio and the Steelers playing on TV in the living room. She’d walk in to tell my dad something and stop right in front of the TV, blocking the view every single time, and we’d all have to yell at her good-naturedly to move since she was completely oblivious to the game unfolding behind her. I can still picture her with a bandanna on her head and a giant heavy ceramic bowl on a chair while she bent over and kneaded dough for nut roll or pierogies a couple of times a year. It was always an all-day endeavor but these specialties of hers were delicious.

Unfortunately with mom comes very sad memories, like the time her sister Nancy died when I was all of ten years old. My mom never overcame her grief. So many of her siblings died too young. They had made it through the Depression, through life with a violent, alcoholic father, through the war, through weddings for most of them, and through an accident that left their mother invalid and wheelchair bound with my mother as her caretaker until grandma died. After making it through all of that, life was supposed to be grand but then tuberculosis, heart attacks, cancer, and cirrhosis took her siblings one by one.

My mother spent the last 10 years of her life crying virtually non-stop, head in hands at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee before her, or laying on the sofa, trying to sleep her life away. Society didn’t talk about mental illness or depression then in any sort of positive way – there was such a stigma – and the only sort of treatment for her condition was Valium, which I am pretty sure she took. She couldn’t focus on her husband, her kids including me, or her grandkids no matter how much joy they inherently brought. Her mother and her siblings were the most important part of her life and the joy of that life fizzled out for good when her best friend, my Aunt Nancy, died. In a year’s time, I was the only child left at home, with my brother off to college and my older two sisters married adults on their own at that point.

I told the story about how my grandfather ran a still during Prohibition, had horrific anger issues, and tried to kill his wife and kids on Christmas day with a shotgun, leaving them all to hide in a barn for their lives. The only reason I even know that story is because my godmother, his youngest daughter, shared that news in a rare moment of honesty in her elder years. Over the years in hushed tones, I learned how he ran off to New Jersey where he may have done something unspeakable. Who really knows.

My other grandfather hurt himself in the mines and couldn’t work after that; he couldn’t walk without the aid of a cane. There was no rehabilitation or social security at the time. He asked to borrow money from my dad under the premise it was needed for the family, and then used it to buy alcohol. My dad really never forgave him for it.

Not surprisingly, neither of my parents drank a sip of alcohol, and neither one ever spoke of their fathers. It was only at the end of my father’s 80-year-old life that I got him to tell that story of his own father, and he had a difficult time sharing even that tiny bit about him.

Their mothers, on the other hand, were revered, absolutely adored, practically worshiped. I told the kids how my grandmothers couldn’t have been more than 4′ 9″ tall. Our 10-year-old daughter is probably taller than they ever were and yet these women popped out how many kids? There’s a picture of maternal grandmother with a twinkle in her eye, one kid hitched to her hip, and a few of the others gathered around her, the oldest maybe 13 and as tall as she is. My dad is positioned in front in shorts, maybe three years old, and he looks antsy. This photo astonishes me and makes me laugh whenever I look at it. It is so unlike other photos of the time, nearly 100 years old at this point, taken outside, in a very candid and casual pose. Who would have taken this photo and under what circumstances?

I would much rather remember my mother in happier times, so I mimicked how my mom would hop on my dad’s lap, hug him, rub her hand on his face and bald head, and say “oh honey”, and dad would shake his head and admonish her, “You’re gonna break the chair!” but he wouldn’t push her off, and our kids giggled in fits. How I found my dad’s WWII love letters to mom one holiday gathering. My dad threatened to ground 10-year-old me if I read them, and I defied him by saying, “It’s worth it” and proceeded to do so so my sisters and brothers-in-law would hear. He was so mad he gathered up every last letter and burnt them! This was the same dad who crouched in the back of a car to surprise my mom who was asked to go on a car ride. He presented her with a rose-gold watch…one I believe I still have. This is the same man who wrecked his car for the first of only two times in his 80-year-long life, when he craned his neck to look at a pretty woman and hit a parked car. He was staring, apparently gobsmacked, at my mother.

We then started flipping through the albums. And the pictures came to life. My dad in his Army uniform, wearing an apron, drying dishes at my grandmother’s house while my mom, his girlfriend, washed. Mom is standing at the sink with long, wavy brown hair casting a silhouette that could just as easily been me. The pictures show that same house, the one I grew up in, before and after my dad remodeled it with his own hands, as well as the little house behind our house that my parents lived in at first. The pictures show my kitchen growing up, my grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, my parents, and my siblings and I when we were younger. Uncle Andy, or Blackie as they called him because of his jet black hair, dressed to the nines. My grandmothers side by side at my parents’ wedding. Our yard when it was my grandmother’s house and she made it into a huge flower garden. My mom, with her giant smile and dimples, and how much she looks like my sister and my niece today. Mom and Dad’s wedding day, kissing in front of the church.

The kids ate it up. Every last bit. But one of our kids had returned from an overnight camp and slowly began to drift off, so we had to call it quits for the night and resume later in the weekend when we could celebrate my husband’s family later on this weekend. We had planned to watch Coco… to cap off the night because it’s about music, and family, and well, that’s us too. We ended up watching it later that weekend as well. Next year we’ll build up it more, prepare some ancestral foods like Eastern European kielbasa and pierogies, or maybe some Chinese and Hawaiian food to celebrate.

As we wrapped things up, our youngest suggested we close with a prayer so Ryun asked him to do it. He didn’t want to at first, being unsure of what to do. But instead of succumbing to embarrassment, he gave it a go. That little heart inside of him thanked God for all that we have and then he closed the prayer by asking God to bless “all the souls in the world”. OMG. The tears. The pride inside my heart. He’s EIGHT. He gets it.

We don’t know what we’re doing as parents but we’re gonna keep doing it.

This was, hands down, the coolest thing we’ve done in a long time. I suggest you give it a whirl. You see, we pray for the dead all the time at church, but we don’t often celebrate them. And we Louies don’t live around a lot of family here in our part of Ohio, so the stories my husband and I tell are one of the only ways our kids will ever know about their family history. Ryun and I had huge extended families, and certainly on my end, there are so many stories that make me chuckle, and cry, and everything in between.

I plan to do it again this coming July, but focus entirely on my dad as this coming July would have been his 100th birthday.


There’s another reason I wanted to celebrate Dias de los Muertos. I’ve watched Mexicans get a bad rap in this country with this ridiculous political climate we’ve been in these last two+ years, the whole “they’re rapists, murders, etc.” claim which is false. My friends know how much that ticks me off but you, this blog audience of mine don’t necessarily know that.

I think what Mexicans do with this holiday is amazing. I have always thought we can learn from each other and borrow the best of what each of us has. For heaven’s sake, we turned St. Patrick’s Day into its own thing that even the Irish don’t recognize! We’ve hijacked Cinco de Mayo too and we Americans don’t even know what that’s supposed to be. Maybe I can be accused of cultural misappropriation here, but I think what our neighbors to the south do is remarkable. It reminds me of when we visited my mother in law’s hometown cemetery in Hawaii right after Memorial Day. The Hawaiians set up lawn chairs and flowers on the graves and hang out there all day, eating and telling stories about their loved ones who died.

Let’s embrace beautiful traditions we have and the stories about our loved ones on the other side of the veil. One day we just may learn that the thinnest of matter in the universe actually separates us from them at this moment in time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Wanted…

kristina-flour-185592This past weekend, I admitted to a group of fellow dance moms that I burst into tears when my daughter was born, so very scared facing the reality that I would once again  navigate the mother-daughter dynamic, as the elder this time. The group of them was shocked. After all, my daughter is lovely, full of verve and spunk, good humor, high energy, creativity, and initiative. I adore her, and we love each other dearly, going on 10 years strong.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t want a daughter. We decided against learning the baby’s gender during my pregnancy. For all those months, I convinced myself I was having a boy, even though the pregnancy felt very different to me hormonally and physically. It was a breeze. I even felt pretty. I should have picked up on all those cues, but I ignored them. I didn’t want to think about what it would mean.

Given the puzzled looks from the dance moms, I found myself saying out loud, maybe even admitting to people, for the first time that I had an awful relationship with my own mother and I was terrified I would repeat it with my daughter, as if it was destiny, part of our DNA. I don’t even talk about this intimate fact to my best friends. It was as close to an out of body experience I’ve ever had, to finally hear myself saying those words out loud for the first time, after all these decades.

That’s when I was asked, “Do you still have a difficult relationship today with your Mom?” I heard myself saying quietly, “Oh, my mom died long ago, 30 years ago this April”, as if the status of our relationship just didn’t matter anymore.

What I didn’t reveal was how my relationship with my mother has fluctuated in every which direction over these 30 years, sometimes good, often full of anger, frequently loaded with remorse for not only what actually transpired between us but also what ought to have infused that most sacred of relationships. But mostly, sadly, after decades of self-reflection and some bouts of therapy, she and I are still mired in dysfunction, the two of us on opposite sides of the veil that separates life and death. Intellectually I know I should forgive her and move on, but the more I ponder our lives together, the more I struggle with what was.

I want what I never had. I want what will never be.

She was unable to give that to me. I don’t know how much of it was in her control.

I run the risk of coming across like a spoiled brat saying all this. I will catch endless hell from older cousins who worshipped and adored my mother. Their relationship with her was far, far different than mine. They have no idea what it was like for me.

For decades, I have struggled with the commandment to “honor thy father and thy mother”. I have so far obeyed that commandment by staying largely silent. But staying silent means continuing to struggle. Is there any possible way to honor my mother specifically by talking about this? Did our relationship exist the way it did precisely so I can finally share this story and release the pain, not just for me but others? To help others feel less ostracized by their flawed parent-child dynamic?

50 years is a long time to shut up. Maybe time’s up. If I don’t write about it, no one, including my own daughter, will know what I went through and how it feels and how it informs the choices I deliberately make regarding our lives together every single day. Maybe it will resonate with other hurting daughters or open the eyes of some myopic mothers. Maybe I can help the motherless feel less alone. Maybe, just maybe, I can help daughters realize how fortunate they are when they have or had a good relationship with their mother.


My mother Katherine was beautiful, dark-haired, petite, gregarious, lively, feisty, self-assured, relatively independent, and stubborn. She grew up during the Depression, and eventually she and her mostly older siblings were abandoned by their alcoholic father, leaving the group of them to care for their own mother who didn’t work or speak English. My mom and her sisters adored her, but when grandma was hit by a car and left invalid, it was my mother, a 30-year-old wife with two young children and a third on the way, who was left to care for her.

My parents lived next door to grandma. She would scream in the middle of the night to be heard from one house to the next for my mother to come and carry her to the outhouse and then back into the house to bed. This went on for a few years until grandma died and my older brother was born. How do I know this? These events repeated in mom’s dreams for 25 years after grandma died. She would often wake with her heart racing, remembering with urgency how she had to check on her sweet, tiny mother.

Life was no doubt tough for my mom. She had her moments of fun and laughter, but life wasn’t easy. By the time I was born, she lost both of her parents, in-laws, and a few siblings. The siblings died too young, too soon, just as their adult lives were getting going, in the decade after World War II had ended and people were expecting to live happily ever after.

I was my parent’s 21st anniversary surprise. My oldest sister had just started high school and my brother was now six. At 45, Mom had pitched all of the baby gear and had to start over. She thought she was going through the change of life, but discovered she was pregnant in May. I was born a little over three months later in early September.

For the first five years of my life, my most vivid memories were hanging with my mom and her sister, my Aunt Nancy. It seemed we were always going for a car ride, visiting a local park, going shopping in downtown Wheeling, or hanging at home while they did each other’s hair. Both my mom and my aunt operated beauty shops in the basement of their respective homes.

I stayed at my aunt’s house a lot in those days. She never had a daughter. Her two oldest boys were already off to college at that point and her youngest was a teenager who was often at school whenever I visited. Then I started school so obviously the time with these two women was scaled back but I still stayed at my aunt’s house quite often.

When my mom and aunt weren’t physically together, they talked on the phone several times a day. The “pipeline’s hot today!” my Dad often remarked. My aunt’s number was dialed so often, I can still recite the rhythm of her telephone number, whirring on those old-fashioned rotary dial phones.

This went on until I was 10, when Aunt Nancy died after a relatively short illness in her mid-sixties. Mom was devastated. She was closer to her sister Nancy than any other human being, my father and her own children included. She lost the will to live. For the next 10 years of my life, my mother sat crying at the kitchen table, or crying herself to sleep on the sofa or in her bedroom. Untreated depression. It was shameful to admit you needed help. You simply didn’t seek treatment for depression back in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, unlike today.

When I look back at my early childhood I realize now that Aunt Nancy, who I loved dearly but who was one tough cookie, was the loving presence in my life. I don’t know if my mom was emotionally capable or, frankly, interested in being there for me. I know she recognized her obligation as my mother, but given how frequently my aunt stepped in, I’ve grown to question what the hell was actually happening in those early years of my life. It has taken me 50 years to realize this. And anyone who would know the real answer to my questions is dead.

From age 10-20, it was as if mom was incapable of loving me. Sure there were brief moments of normalcy but day in and day out, I heard how I was good for nothing, I couldn’t do anything right, and she wished she was dead. I’m not exaggerating. I have daily journals from this period that recount my experience.

She spent her weekday afternoons watching that sensational Phil Donahue show, and then projected her every last new-found fear onto me, without one spec of consideration for who I was and the values I already had cemented within me. It was humiliating and demoralizing. Honestly, my mother’s biggest expectation was that I would become barefoot and pregnant, totally dependent on others to care for me, and/or I would get AIDS.

I can’t begin to express how ridiculous this was.

Let me put who I was into perspective: I was a straight-A student nearly my entire academic career, a teacher’s pet repeatedly, president of nearly every club I could join since 5th grade on, marching band flag captain for three years, senior class salutatorian, high school homecoming queen, a college scholarship recipient several times over, a representative for our county in the Ohio Junior Miss program, a virgin who didn’t smoke or drink, a kid who went to bed at 9pm and didn’t abuse her 11pm weekend curfew when she had the good fortune to be out, an overwhelmingly sweet-natured girl, an obedient daughter, a self-starter, a weekly church-goer, and the only child left at home starting at age 11, leaving me to thoroughly clean the house top to bottom every Saturday. I also held a job from age 17 on. I didn’t do anything unless I gave it my best. I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college, but I knew I was going. It was a given in my mind that I would go for as long as I could remember. There was not one doubt in my mind that I would graduate college, leave the Ohio Valley where I grew up for good, and make a success of myself. I was that driven. I was that certain of it.

However the grief goggles my mother wore kept all the good that was me far out of focus. I know in my heart that I was a good kid. A sweet, smart, polite, driven albeit somewhat quiet kid. I used to think she became grief-stricken after my aunt died, but now I truly wonder if she was aggrieved as soon as she learned she was pregnant with me.

I’d love to tell you I was strong enough to hold my head high when she was living and delivering her daily downer expectations. I knew she was wrong about me. I told her she was wrong. I kept thinking, surely, she would realize her error and snap out of it. She never did. I tried to reason with her. I recounted my virtues to her countless times, in countless arguments, but it didn’t matter. She didn’t see me. She didn’t know me. She didn’t understand me. Whether she loved me is certainly debatable.

Right? I mean, hearing these endlessly critical words from my mother so often? I don’t know if she realized the long-term damage she was doing. She was running on auto-pilot that last decade of her life. But her tactic had the same effect that Donald Trump aims for. Hear a lie repeated often enough and you’ll start to believe it no matter how preposterous it is.

It eventually got to me. I went through frequent periods of untreated depression myself starting in high school. There came a day once where I got off the bus in the morning and marched my butt straight to my band director. Of all the teachers, I felt he might have understood what remained unspoken. He took one look at my tear-stained face, puffy eyelids, and red nose, then led me straight to the band office and shut the door so I could hide quietly, alone for a few hours to compose myself.


For decades, I have dissected my relationship with mom, crying rivers, wailing, fuming in anger, then whimpering for what never was, what seems to me countless other mothers and daughters have or had. For decades I have learned, to my horror and shame, what a loving mother-daughter relationship is supposed to look, feel, and sound like, from the outside. I’m like a pauper with her face and hands pressed against cold glass, staring at the shiny baubles in the window of a fancy store whose threshold I can never cross.

The grief of losing your mother is one thing. Losing her suddenly when you’re relatively young is yet another thing. But the grief of learning little by little what that most sacred of relationships is supposed to be like, should have been like, and never was, is ten thousand times worse.

Why couldn’t she love me and guide me? Why did she choose instead to mock how I looked? Why did she deliberately cut off my long hair time and again, butchering my haircuts to make me less attractive? Why is it she never once told me I was pretty? Why couldn’t she cheer my success? Why couldn’t she see any of that? Why couldn’t she tell me she was proud of me, lift me up even higher than I did on my own, when she saw what I wanted for my life, how I wanted to soar? Why couldn’t she foster with me what she had with her own mother? Why did she value her blood relatives more than her husband and the children she birthed? Why couldn’t she cultivate with me what she did with some of her nieces and nephews who saw her as a overwhelmingly loving, fun, demanding, yet bubbly matriarch fiercely dedicated to family!? The IRONY. Tell me why that woman showed up for my cousins and not for me?

Did she just run out of steam? Was I emotionally orphaned by my mother at birth?


She died suddenly when I was 20, during my junior spring semester at college. The last three-four months before she died, we were finally starting to get along a tiny bit. After two years away from home, maybe she started to miss me. Maybe she started to see that I was (still) a straight-A student, in a demanding honors program, living successfully in a clean apartment, having secured an internship and a job while going to school full-time, yet making enough money to responsibly pay my own rent and tuition, cook my own food, and pay my utilities. Maybe she could see my graduation on the horizon, and huh: maybe she realized I still hadn’t wound up pregnant and yes, I was AIDS-free.

I stayed in school that semester. My classmates were blown away by my tenacity. They assumed I would drop out. Wouldn’t anybody else under those circumstances? For starters, I didn’t have the money to waste on a semester of tuition without the grades to show for it. But I didn’t have the heart to tell my peers that her death was a big relief. No longer would I have to listen endlessly to anyone fully expecting me to be a worthless piece of crap.

I’ve been pretty lucky. In these 30 years since, I’ve only had two people try to push that bullshit on me, both times at work. One was a cocky boss who succeeded and I spiraled downward in such a way that it took me several years to recover. The second one was an arrogant bastard who couldn’t wait to misplace his blame on me and kick me when I was down just a couple of years ago. He helped jump-start the process all over again. This time the downward spiral lasted only about two years but I’m pretty sure it shaved 10 years off my life.

Needless to say, I approach my relationship with my own precious daughter differently in every possible way. That’s not what this essay is about, though.


Help wanted. I long for a mother, in that way that only mothers can, to witness my life, and notice how far I’ve come. To say she is proud of me. To say I’ve done good with where I started and what I had to work with. To tell me that I’m on the right track, or to gently coach me when I stray, when I need it. Gosh, to tell me that I’m pretty or lovely or kind. Anything. Anything a mother would say.

You have no idea how deafening the silence is.

I need a mom, a real mom. I am jealous but mostly insanely happy for those who enjoy that special bond. Doesn’t matter if it was for a short while or a lifetime. They had it and it is glorious to see that sort of love. It is so helpful to see these kinds of role models. I look everywhere for those role models.

I will bite my tongue whenever someone tells me what a great job my mother did raising me and how proud she must have been of me. No, no. She was ill. And I was a kid unable to help her. By the grace of God, I’m able to function somehow and hopefully she’s found peace where she is now. I worry about that. I worry that she will find no peace until I do. That’s why the relationship between mothers and daughters is sacred. It’s a forever thing. I must be able to forgive and move on. And in the way you are forced to do when your mother dies, I have moved on. And I have forgiven her. At least I try. I know she was only human with very limited resources to help her through her grief.

But I’m human too, and my heart is broken. I don’t let on. Really, it’s been 30 years…there is only so much you can dwell on it and try to be mentally healthy. I always thought it would get better with time. It doesn’t. The feelings just morph and roll endlessly like ocean waves in the open sea.

Still I know this help wanted ad of mine will never be answered, not on this side of the veil. And it won’t be needed once I get to the other side. From time to time, I’ve tried adopting women to be a mother to me, but after a while it feels forced, or worse, I am encroaching upon sacred territory, the real mother-daughter relationship these women actually have. I have learned there isn’t a sister, cousin, in-law, or friend who can fill my help wanted ad.

So I will sit here and rock with that ache for a lifetime longer and vow to do better with my own daughter. What else can I do?

Photo credit: Kristina Flour on unsplash.com