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Raindrop Mosaics

I could feel my heartbeat quickening. Just my luck it would start to pour as I pulled into the grocery store. Luckily, I was in my sweats and crocs so getting wet was really not a big deal. As I reached down to turn off the engine, I saw this image. Suddenly this world of dreary rain was transformed into a raindrop mosaic. I just sat there for a few minutes taking it all in.

Yes, I got wet. I couldn’t ‘run’ into the store – crocs are very slippery when wet and as a 64 year old woman, I don’t take those types of chances. Although a bit scraggly looking, I managed to get my shopping done and head back to the car.

My drive home is only about 15 minutes. The rain had stopped, but the show had just begun. The rain mixed with the heat of the day caused steam to rise out of the mountains. It was as if there were fire-breathing dragons nestled between the ridges of the mountains. I was flooded with memories of this same steam when I was a child. I am always a little surprised when childhood memories – locked away for years – decide to surface. We think we have forgotten these little slices of our life, but they are there. Carefully guarded little snippets of every place we have been, tucked away until we call upon them again.

As I turned into my driveway, the steam rising off the asphalt was almost like fog. It was magical. I did not engage my logical brain to try and analyze what what caused the steam, I just took it all in. Yes, magical indeed.

What started as a quick trip to the store under less than perfect conditions turned into what I like to call a ‘breathable moment’.

Breathable moments may be God’s way of telling us to slow down and relax. I need more of those in my life. The funny thing is they are around us all the time. We just get too harried and too busy to take note. My goal is to move a little slower, a little more deliberately.

As I undertake writing a blog every day for 365 days, I will be taking advantage of all the breathable moments I can get. I want to rest my analytical brain and activate my creative and playful brain.

Last night was a good start.

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My Mother’s Daughter – Becoming Me

My nickname is MagCindy.

It’s one of two names my mother called me. I think I have held onto this for over sixty years because it makes me feel closer to my mom. I was 19 years old, one year out of high school and already in the Air Force when she died. It was a devastating loss which I have explored many times, but not today. Today is about a woman I wish I had known as a woman myself. I think we would have learned a lot from each other.

MyMomI was never a risk taker. Mom always was. She was fearless. I was fearFULL. Earlier today I heard someone say that you are never safe in life. But in death, you’re safe. Let that sink in. Since my mother died, I’ve gradually learned to be more like her, but boy has that taken a lot of effort. But I don’t want to be safe. I want to FEEL, even if it’s risky.

Freida Mae Swift Shortt was a tough cookie. Being her daughter meant you had expectations. It wasn’t enough to be something to someone else, you had to be something on your own. It did not matter one iota what that was – but there has to be something. She supported everything I ever did. Civil Air Patrol nerd – check. Struggling artist – check. Waitress – check. Air Force airman – check. She was proud of her kids – each and every one of us – with every accomplishment, big or small – she was beaming with pride.

Mom was also a jokester, embarrassing to a young girl at times, but her intentions were always positive. My friends all loved her. Every kid in the neighborhood was welcome at our house. Whatever we had, she lovingly shared. When we moved from Virginia to Ohio, it was a hoot. We were quite the ‘country come to town’. Mom fried chicken, made biscuits and milk gravy, and made banana salad (banana sliced length wise, smeared with Miracle Whip and covered with chopped peanuts) for dinner. My friends loved to come to our house to eat – she was a great cook. Country all the way, though.

MyMom2Don’t get me wrong, Mom was not domestic-centric. She wanted to be outside and housework was the last thing she ever wanted to do. That was all left to us. We had a wringer washer and no drier. Clothes were hung outside on the line or in the basement. She didn’t have time to waste waiting on wash cycles and spin cycles. Wash, rinse, get out. No, not crazy about being inside, but outside – she was a force to be reckoned with. She played tag football in the front yard with us and loved being around all our friends. She was very much a people person – another way I wish I could have been more like her. She also enjoyed her quiet time, weeding her portulaca or pruning her bleeding heart.

MyMom3In the forty plus years since she passed away, I have learned more about her as a person. I have letters from friends in high school and her sense of humor was always evident. Pictures that have surfaced show her in a way I never imagined. I always knew she was full of life, but seeing her as a young woman with dreams of her own makes me wish so much we had been given the gift of an adult friendship to share. I know we would have been best friends.

Mom never got to see me as a wife, a mother or a grandmother. There would have been some tough talks along the way had she been there. When I made my stupid mistakes – she would not have shied away from those conversations. Mom wasn’t about hiding her feelings. All in all, however, I think she would have been proud of me. Especially today’s me. I hope she would realize that I attribute a lot of who I am to her and the lessons she taught me in those 19 short years we were together.

So how did this woman who seems to be my polar opposite impact who I am? This is a question I pondered for years and years for we are very different. Mom was a ‘you made your bed now you lie in it’ kind of mom on the surface. In actuality, she understood more than she ever let on. She taught me about honesty and speaking your truth, and doing what’s right. She taught me about being prepared to take care of myself should the need ever arise. She taught me how to exist in moments of silence and look my demons dead in the eye. She taught me about sacrifice. Most of all, she taught me about staying above the fray. That was a hard one and I admit I was not always successful at it, but her lessons are still engrained deep in my brain.

IMAG4468-1Moms never stop mothering – at least the good ones. I wish she had been there when my children were born. I wish I could have seen her rock my babies and sing to them. She taught me to sing the songs that would stay with them forever. The simple, easy songs. The ones that you never forget.

Down in the meadow in an itty bitty pool
Swam three little fishies and a Mama fish too
The Mama fish cried ‘now swim if you can’
And the ‘fam and they fam’ all over the dam.

I love you, Mom.

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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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Happy Birthday My Daughter!

Today you will wake up in a hotel room on your birthday away from your family.  Some might say how sad it is you are alone.  Some might say you should call in sick.  Your Mom sees it just a little differently.

Today you wake up the healthiest and happiest you have been in your 35 years.  You are in the prime of your life.  You are a successful business woman.  You have dedicated yourself and your heart to a healthy and successful relationship.  You are a trusted sister, an amazing friend, a dedicated aunt, a wonderful cousin and a beautiful and beloved daughter.

35 years ago you came into this world very early on a Wednesday morning.  You were being held upside down the first time I saw you – being measured.  You didn’t cry – you just looked around the room amazed at all there was to experience.  Something tells me that moment set the stage and so your life began.

I have told you many times about the circumstances of your birth.  You said it yourself the other day – you come from a family of storytellers.  Today I want to tell you how much you mean to me.  How deeply loved and treasured you are.

Had it not been for you, I think I might have become a bitter woman.  You softened me.  You made me smile when there was nothing else to smile about.  You reminded me to be child-like even in the face of adversity.  You taught me more about forgiveness than any woman should ever have to learn.  But thank God you did.

We had to steal a lot of our special moments, but in a way that makes them even more special.  I will not talk of regrets today because when I hold the thought of you in my heart, I simply have none.  You have been my confidant, my friend, and a faithful supporter of my dreams.  You, that little bundle wrapped in a hospital blanket with eyes of wonder.  I can close my eyes and be transported to the first moment I held you and looked into your eyes.  When our eyes met, my heart, mind and soul changed.  You were a deeper part of me than just my daughter.  You were a gift I’m not sure I ever deserved.

On this day, my daughter, rejoice in the gift of life that God has bestowed on you.  Rise up when the world would pull you down.  Believe when there seems to be nothing left to believe in.  Trust in those that truly love you when sometimes your instincts want to pull you away.  Laugh when sadness wants to overwhelm you.  Cry when your heart tells you to.  Be soft in the moments when others would seek to harden you.  And above all, love with everything in you.  Hold tight to your authentic self.  My little baby girl lives inside every moment of you.  She still seeks the world wide-eyed and adventurous.

You have lost much in the living of this life.  It’s so easy to keep a tally of all things bad.  God has blessed you with a forgiving and loving heart.  Sometimes that heart feels fragile I know, but I have learned that when your heart breaks, it’s just outgrowing itself.  When it breaks open, it grows larger and makes space for all the love and joy that still awaits you.

As you celebrate this birthday, remember one thing above all others.  YOU ARE LOVED BY ME.  My heart and soul will always be intertwined with yours.  As you take the steps into  your future, enjoy every moment.  Allow yourself to love and be loved.  Never forget where you came from but keep your sights locked on wherever your dreams want to take you.

Happy Birthday my daughter.  I love you with all my heart and every day I thank God for giving you to ME.  How blessed am I?

Love You.  Mean It.
Mom