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A Year Changes Everything

imageToday is my sister’s birthday. It still takes my breath away knowing she is no longer with us. She was all about living, loving and just being. Last year was the first time since our move to the Carolinas that we were able to spend her birthday together. Our brother and his wife joined us for a simple day of just hanging out, talking and sitting in the rocking chairs on her porch. None of us had any idea it would be the last birthday we would spend with her.

This year, we are celebrating her birthday by spending it with her granddaughter, Joelle. We started the day with pancakes and blueberries and now we are watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It is just the kind of morning she would love. Later we will make chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles and have an Angel Birthday party to celebrate her grandmother….my sister. We will laugh and have tiny adventures in the mountains – just the kind of birthday my sister would enjoy – loving and laughing and staying in the moment.

Life really is precious and fleeting. There are no promises of time so it is so important to enjoy every tiny spectacular moment. the tiniest moments really are the biggest gifts.

Happy Birthday, Sis. I miss you every day. I guess I will always feel like there were not enough days, not enough hugs, not enough ‘I love you’s’. But today, I will stay in the moment, enjoy the little miracles and you will be with me in every thought, every smile and every little miracle.

 I love and miss you SO much.

 

 

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A Baby for Valentine’s Day

We’re going to be grandparents again!

revealWhat a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Of course we have known for quite some time, but there is something magical in the day you see it announced to the world. We are so happy and cannot wait to hold that new life in our arms and see the universe in her eyes.

Life is so magical – so ethereal. As we follow along in our granddaughter’s development, the miracle of life is demonstrated in every tiny moment. We are blessed to be close to our daughter and her wife so that we get to share in all the microscopic changes as they occur.

This granddaughter comes to us by the miracle of IVF – another miracle! Being a believer in the balance between God and science, I believe nothing much happens without the other. We are so blessed and have witnessed God’s hand in this process. The love surrounding our children as they have fought for the miracle of this child is nothing short of miraculous in itself.

I am so touched with the love my daughter and her wife have for each other. This journey has been a long roller-coaster of a ride for them, but they never lost their sense of humor or their determination to share the love they have for each other with a child. They are a strong couple and have what it takes to be in a life-long marriage which makes me so happy and so proud. Our little girl will be loved and cared for beyond belief – and that makes me an even prouder mama!

Last night I spoke with my brother and he was beside himself with joy – just like we are. He is all too familiar with miracles and let’s just say this one was a ‘top of the heap’ kind of miracle – one that we all live for. I am so grateful he was there for me to gush over the news of a new child coming into our lives.

I thought a lot about my sisters today and the conversations we would have had about how exciting this time will be. We would have planned and schemed and just shared the joy with each other. I know they are aware and in some ways have already blessed us, but I still miss them at times like this.

Our co-grandparents are our good friends and we just could not ask for better people to share in our Village. It feels amazing to have a family so filled with joy and love. If only the world could see what we have found by just loving each other.

I do not want to look too far ahead, though – too much to enjoy in these next six months. This will be our sixth grandchild but as it has been with every grandchild – she feels like the first! We are ecstatic and cannot wait to hold her, but I do not want to miss anything in-between. So, I am exercising patience and just staying in the moment.

Hubby and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day other than maybe sharing some wine, having a good home-cooked meal and just spending time together. That’s the way we like it. But today? Today we both got the best Valentine’s gift ever – Mia!

I love you, my girls!  All ‘three’ of you!

I hope your Valentine’s Day was just as spectacular.

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The Birthday Mother’s Day Mix

Today was a mixed bag of worries and blessings. People I love are sick and facing hospital stays and tests and unknowns and it is hard to be on the sidelines watching helplessly as the clock ticks by.

In the midst of the craziness that made up my day, my husband told me to check my phone. We were on our way out to run errands and I didn’t give his words a second thought. As I walked to where my phone was, I saw two boxes. One was a long box and a separate box, square and nondescript. It took a minute, but it hit me that this weekend is Mother’s Day.

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I opened the boxes and found beautiful long-stemmed roses from my daughter and daughter-in-law. They were gorgeous. In the other box was an ice-pack and a box of truffle cookies.  Each were packaged with lovely notes straight from the heart. I immediately took a couple of pictures and sent a text thanking them for the thoughtful gifts. I am so blessed to be loved and remembered. The gifts are nice, but it’s really the love that means everything.

 

 

DaddyLater in the day, as I checked my phone for messages, I noticed the date. Tomorrow would be my father’s birthday. He would be turning 89 tomorrow if he were still here. 89. Wow. That seems so hard to fathom. Time has gone by so quickly and I miss him so much it guts me. I had a special connection with my Dad – one that I never apologize for even though some people make me feel I should. Dad wasn’t perfect, but to me, he was everything. He loved me – he loved all of us – and that is what I miss. The talks, his deep bass voice, the way he said my name – the advice I never wanted to hear but repeat to myself over and over now. He was my Dad and I miss him.

IMAG4468-1Re-enter Mother’s Day. My mom would also be 89 this year. She was so young when she passed away that 89 doesn’t even seem possible. She will always be young and vibrant to me. She had a smart-assed way of saying what was on her mind and she was SO strong. My sisters got her strength and her wit. I think I got her way of turning inward to process thoughts and feelings. I rarely feel strong. I remember my first Mother’s Day without her. I was living away from home and at the time, long distance calls were quite expensive. I was walking through the mall and passed a group of short wave radio people who had come together to help people make calls home for Mother’s Day. One of the young women asked me if I wanted to call my mom. I just said “No thanks” and walked on. Then her words – “Why, don’t you love your mother?” I wanted to lunge at her and take all my anger out on her, but I didn’t. I just walked away – hurt and feeling lost in this world. It would take many years before I could get through a Mother’s Day without feeling broken.

Now I have the blessing of children and grandchildren and extended family. I am not sad – I am blessed. The timing this year is unusual – Dad’s birthday and Mother’s Day together. So, today I process and just put aside the little girl and remember that I am now the mom and the grandmother and the JOY comes right back.

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Tonight I shared my truffles with my husband with a glass of wine. I sent a Snap Chat to thank my girls for the gift. SO MUCH JOY!

I will stay up until midnight, and wish my Dad a Happy Birthday and wish my Mom a Happy Mother’s Day.

Saturday we are meeting my son and his wife and two of my beautiful grandchildren for a sweet Mother’s Day dinner. We will laugh and celebrate this holiday together for the first time in 20 years. It will be perfect.
Today was a day of reflection mixed with JOY and a little worry, but it brought me to a place of gratitude for all I have been blessed with in this life. We are who we surround ourselves with and by those standards, I’m pretty perfect.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Mom, Happy Mother’s day a little early.

Thank you for everything but most of all thanks for the love and the memories. I miss you both and only hope I can somehow in some small way fill those giant shoes for my family.

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I Will Not Always Be Here

 photo of roses and candyToday I sit between Mother’s Day and my birthday.  I suppose it could be the resting place between two pinnacles on the roller coaster of life. One day filled with love and acknowledgement from your children and the other coming face to face with how fast life is passing. 

Age is a funny thing. You go along and your mind’s eye still sees you as the same core being. Mentally you are the same. Spiritually, you may have grown within your core values, but essentially the same. Still young at heart – you are, after all, the same person you have always been. Then you catch your reflection in the mirror and wonder about the face that returns your stare.

I tease my daughter that I have ‘chicken neck’. It is true, though, and thus the slow adjustment to the new you begins. How do I ease into the new me?

So many things have changed inside me since I started my genealogy work. I have become more aware of how precious life is and more aware of how much easier our life is than it was for our ancestors. Still, we find so much to complain about. 

I started this blog by saying I will not always be here. It is the truth we do not face when we are young, but it is the truth that motivates us to lead a simpler life as we age. Things become less important and people become the most important. We are able to feel the effects of anxiety much faster and self-correct our path.

  As I write this I am sitting in the auto mechanic’s waiting room. The news has been on the TV for two and a half hours. I notice the rhythm of my breathing change as I am being incited to into an environment of fear. It is ok to turn off technology. There is no requirement to watch the negative news stream constantly. Anxiety comes when we are overwhelmed with situations out of our control. I will not always be here, so how do I want to spend my life?

I want the people I love to know it!  I want to laugh and talk and reminisce and experience joy. I want to breathe easily, hold babies and experience endless sunsets. I want to support causes that make a difference. 

Age is such a state of mind. The lady sitting beside me the waiting room is having her oil changed before she leaves on a trip. She easily talks about being 87 and evaluating whether it was time to buy a new car. Perspective.

“I may not always be here.” So what? It is the truth that keeps us on an equal life-playing field with everyone else. We are promised nothing, yet have EVERYTHING available to us. 

I will not always be here, but while I am here, I get to choose. And I choose happiness. I hope you do, too.

 happiness photo 

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Little Girl, Where Are You?

IMAG2858I am a creature of habit. I generally maintain the same routine and take the same route to places I frequently visit. On my route to the grocery store, I fell in love with the adventures of a little girl whom I would never know. I fell in love with her because even passing by her in a moving car I could feel her energy and her spirit.

This charming little spirit lived in a small house in one of the older neighborhoods in my town. Her house was in need of a new coat of paint and the chain-link fence was wavy in appearance where I’m sure at one time it stood rigid and straight. At the front corner of the fence, there was a small tree – leggy from lack of pruning. At the height of its bloom, the leaf spread was still sparse. Between the small tree and the corner of the fence, there were two old chairs, worn from too much sun and not enough attention. As I describe it here, it sounds a little dismal, but this little girl made it anything but that!

If I had occasion to go to the grocery store in the late afternoon, I always saw her. Most days she had a friend and it was obvious the two chairs between the spindly tree and the wavering fence were transformed into a very special place. I could see their shoulders rise as they covered their giggling faces with their tiny hands. They whispered what I can only imagine were amazing secrets into each other’s ears. I caught them toasting each other with imaginary cups and bowing like the princesses they most obviously were.

Today I drove by and noticed the house was changed. The tree was gone and so was the delight of a special secret hideaway.  No old chairs tucked away behind barren branches. Contractor’s trucks were parked there while they painted the exterior. The fence was still standing but I am sure it won’t be there long. I realized at that moment it had been some time since I had seen ‘my little girl’.

I’m sure many people will say how ‘wonderful’ the house looks. It will be transformed from something special to something more ordinary – more cookie cutter. I worry that the house with the special secret place has become the latest victim of gentrification. I hope not, but I suspect so. I want to believe that the little girl with the imagination capable of drawing passing strangers into its force field has found a new and better magical place. I miss her. I was her a long, long time ago….

As I drove home, I was affronted once again by the huge mega-house being built on the lot beside our house. The trees are gone – the places where the hawks stood watch. The house so large that it consumed a double-lot with little green space remaining. The house with the four car garage and cinderblock walls. I wonder what the runoff will be like when hurricane season arrives?

Where are you, little girl? Where did you go?

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
By Emily Dickinson

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

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Kitchen Memories

It’s funny how and when memories flood back.  I never know what will trigger thought patterns, but it is always such a wonderful gift when I am transported back to another place and another time.  I am blessed that most of these memories are from the good parts of my life and not the painful parts.  I think God has been kind to me in that way.

Last night I was cleaning a whole chicken in preparation for roasting.  As I started cleaning the cavity, I was whooshed back to a simple kitchen in Taylor’s Valley, Virginia.  I stood shoulder to shoulder with the second Mom I was to have in my life.

Mary had always been in my life.  She was the mother of my best friend, Susie.  I always thought she was beautiful and caring, but I never really got to know her until years later.  After my Mom passed away, my Dad and Mary dated a little.  They found a kindred connection and two families that had always known each other were suddenly one.  Mary had the greatest respect for all of us and never ever tried to take the place of my Mom.  She had known my mother for most of her adult life and sat with her at the hospital in the latter stages of her illness.  She was an amazing soul and someone I want to write about in more detail.  She was not a woman you can describe without a little flourish.  For a woman who considered herself simple, she was one of the most glamorous I have ever known.

Last night as I had my hands inside this chicken I recalled fondly all the wonderful memories I was given as a result of this relationship.  She was my adviser, my confidant, my friend and my step-mom.  None of those words do her justice.  She was an angel on earth.  Now, we laughed and we poked fun, so she was a quirky angel, but an angel just the same.  She always told everyone I made the BEST coconut cream pie (I only ever made one – and that was with her).  We laughed over squirrel gravy poured down the sink, over cooked spaghetti poured across the linoleum floor, over so many stories.  She shared her stories and her heritage with me as if I was her own.

When my Dad died it was so hard.  We always talked on the phone on the anniversary of his death.  She lifted me up and I hope I helped lift her up.  She never wanted to ‘put anybody out’.  I remember the last time I spent the night at her house.  It was after she had experienced a bad fall.  There was a monitor in her room and the speaker was in my room.  The next morning we got up and had coffee together.  It was then she told me she unplugged the monitor in her room because she didn’t want it to wake me.  That was so ‘Mary’.

My daughter and I talked today about memories and the choices we make to remember the good or to remember the bad.  I am so thankful I have so many good memories – they crowd out all the riff-raff.

Treasure those kitchen moments and the everyday people in your life.  The simple little jokes and funny stories along with a cup of instant coffee and a bowl of Corn Flakes are the ingredients dreams are made of.

P.S.  Chicken infused with memories tastes better than anything you can imagine.

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What better than to infuse joy?

I came here today to write and forced myself not to read my last entry.   I did not want it to influence what I felt I wanted to say today.

It is my anniversary today.  15 years with a remarkable man who has seen me through so much.  We started this together with the promise that we would be in it to the end.

David and Maggie

So, 15 years later, I realize I am blessed to have found him and I understand how important it is to have your best friend about you in times of joy or in times of sorrow.  We have an amazing family that has grown and grown over our time together.  We have lost family and friends that we loved to our core – it shakes you.  But having that look across the room, or the hand to hold tightly to makes you realize someone understands it all without having to say a word.

For my friends that read this blog, I am so thankful that you come back and check on me.  I see people have visited me even in times when there were no words to share.  Sometimes I come here, too, just to read and remember.  I don’t ever want to forget that I’m human and I don’t want to forget the challenges and joys and yes, even sorrows, that have made me who I am.

I have been busy writing a business plan.  One of the things you have to learn to do is sum up who you are, what you do and where you want to go all in a few short words.  In business, it’s all very defined and very focused.  But what about me as an individual living on a very, very busy planet?  What am I about?

Infuse JOY.

Celebrate every moment and live every moment.  Feel whatever the moment brings to you for this keeps you real.  Sad moments can have joy, just as the happy moments.  Dare to believe in who you are and what you can accomplish.  Celebrate who you are to others.  Maybe it’s a good and trusted friend.  Maybe it’s the sister that keeps you grounded.  Maybe it’s the Mom who will always have your back.  Life tends to discount those things sometimes, but I don’t ever want to lose sight of them.  For me, they are the most important of the roles we will ever have the JOY of experiencing.

I hope today you will infuse JOY in your own life.  Let it be sparkly and loud, or let it be quiet and serene.  It’s everywhere.

Just today I saw it fly across the sky and land in my own back yard.  It’s always there if you just open your heart to find it.