Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 11, 2009

Small Surgery Saga and a Twentieth Birthday

I left the Wisconsin conference to head west to L.A. to see my daughter who’d had some swift (and successful) surgery on a post-falling cut on her cheek. I wasn’t able to be with her because of my commitment to the conference, but her sweet roommate Colleen cut classes to take her to the surgeon’s. So my visit was a follow-up, hopefully better late than never, attempt to hang with her while she healed and went on a follow-up visit.

I got to hear the tales: the not-funny-at-the-time surgeon jokes. After eye shields were put on to protect them from the bright lights, the surgeon told Em, “So this is my assistant, did I tell you he’d be working on you today?”

“Ha. Ha. No,” the assistant said. “But somebody has to hold the instruction book.”

Maybe it was just as well I wasn’t there. And then, after six shots of topical anesthetic, Em said it was like being at the dentist being asked questions with your mouth full of stuff, but worse. “He’s holding a knife by my face and I’m supposed to move my mouth and cheeks? To answer: What kind of music do you like? I don’t care! Whatever you want to work with!”

Anyway, all went well, and we had much of two days to play. I went swimming, though it was chilly for L.A. Emily got tickets for the filming of The Tonight Show, which was fun. All those cameras, all those assistants with clipboards, all the clapping and laughing we were asked to do, and I was glad to oblige. When we left, we were going to meet her roommates at a restaurant for an early celebration of Emily’s birthday. Em laughed when she clicked on her phone and there was a picture of Sara in a nice red dress holding a big card with a question mark. How today’s young women ask each other if a dress is going to work. The three of them texted and decided to all wear heels: it was an all or no one kind of thing. As mom, no one ever expected anything but flats from me. At the restaurant, Elegant, elderly Italian waiters sang Happy Birthday. We even had celebrity sightings. Marissa Tomei and I think the girls said the guy who gets killed in the season something or other on the O.C.

Sara told about the 24 to 36 hour period when Emily and Colleen holed up with Twilight and Stephenie Myer’s second volume, while Sara paced around and said: Where are my friends?

I saw palm trees and snow-capped mountains in the distance. I smelled green grass and roses, delicious after a few months of Massachusetts snow. But the most fun was that first night staying up till about 4 a.m. talking with my daughter about her dreams to have three to five children, maybe two girls adopted from India (and who will get to wear saris at their weddings; we had a lot of time to plan ahead!). What we have in common. What my mom and I sadly never had in common. We discussed Oscar contenders – Winslet, DiCaprio, Penn — her history class – Eisenhower, Vietnam, Iraq — her plans for new courses, volunteering, meeting guys, and Valentine’s weekend plans with two girlfriends to stash their phones under lock and key and coach each other to keep from desperately calling or texting unsuitable substitutes for the perfect guys they have not yet met. But will.

Here’s me with Sara, Emily with 20th birthday pastries, and Colleen.



  1. I love reading about you and your daughter-just makes me so hopeful about staying friends with my son. 🙂 She’s wonderful–I’m with her; I like surgeons who AREN’T trying to be funny.

  2. Thanks for letting us share a bit of your family time. Your daughter sounds like a wonderful girl but then considering her mom, I’m no surprised. Glad you were able to spend some “post” time with her and assure yourself that she was okay.

  3. I like reading about you and your daughter, too. What a lovely relationship it sounds like you have!

  4. Glad Emily is okay! And even gladder you had a wonderful visit! YAY! Thanks for sharing! How wonderful to have time with your daughter!

  5. Very nice post. Miss you both. ❤

  6. I was just wondering what you were up to, and here you are on our side of the continent!
    I’m so glad you could check up on your daughter and that all went well. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. 🙂

  7. Thanks, Becky! Yeah, doctor jokes can misfire way too easily.

  8. She keeps me laughing (most of the time!)

  9. Thanks for the double compliment, Susan. Yes, it was good to see her with my own eyes. And offer Tylenol.

  10. Thanks, Debbi. Looks like you had some fun family time recently, too!

  11. Miss you, too. Your name came up! Sending love. Let me know when you’re on this part of the state sometime!

  12. I was hoping she’d postpone a few days so I could be there, but she followed her wisdom and got it over with. It all worked out and it was nice to have an impromptu birthday celebration! She was lucky with these roommates; they’re all different, but look out for each other in a very sweet way.

  13. Hooray for a good visit! (and wtf? for surgeon jokes)

  14. Great picture! I’m glad your daughter is doing well.

  15. Thanks! Yeah, wtf is going to be funny from someone holding a scalpel against your skin?

  16. Thank you for post surgery congrats. And the kind waiter, seeing me take a picture of three girls, offered to take one of all of us.

  17. I am glad your daughter is fine. I loved reading about your trip and your meandering mother/daughter conversation. Thanks for letting us listen in.:)

  18. I am glad she is okay, and you got to see her!

  19. I hope my daughter appreciates all the kind moms around here, sending good wishes her way! Thank you. All the different stages of life, all the different conversations — I know you’re enjoying yours, too.

  20. Yes, okay, and just unwound a bandaid to show me a raw slice of skin from runaway x acto knife on an art project. I almost went through her home for sharp objects. Only those little round-tip plastic scissors for her. No more stitches!

  21. What a sweet entry–the bonding thing is so moving and so special. And Em’s come such a long way in such a short time. I’m so glad for both of you.

  22. Thanks, Dina — yes, she seems to have found her place for now and made it work. See you tonight!

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