The words you speak kiss me with promises
of time filled with love
and moments
precious and fleeting

Your eyes speak a language of understanding
of times behind us
and memories
yet to be made

Your heart urges mine into the same rhythm
of life and living
and anticipation
of what remains

It’s simple with you and me.

Because of where we have been

We understand where we are going

And cherish the road that takes us there



Another Father’s Day Without My Dad

IMAG1694Dear Daddy,

I miss you so much.  It is Father’s Day weekend and Sunday I will think of you so often, wishing I could again pick up the phone and call you. The year you passed away, I was a week away from our vacation – a week away from Father’s Day when the call came in.  I could not believe it. I can still remember the disbelief of hearing someone tell me over the phone that you were gone. I was so angry and felt so cheated that I did not get to hold you one more time and tell you face-to-face how much I love you. To this day there is an empty place in my heart that only that last hug could have filled. I find myself thinking ‘What if this is the last time I do this?’ a lot now. I guess it helps me find the blessings in everyday moments and for that I am grateful.

Having you as my father taught me so much. You were not perfect, but then again you did not profess to be. You were always open about the mistakes you made in your life. Funny thing about having a parent that you love so much – forgiveness comes easy. Did I tell you I have a teddy bear – a gift from “Annie” and Jillian – with your voice recorded inside? To hear you say my name brings me to tears, but I am so thankful for that bear! Every father and every mother need to record messages for their children. It will be a great comfort someday. I know it has been to me.

I hope you can see the wonderful fathers I do have in my life. You would be so proud! The hearts made of gold, the firm hands and gentle spirits. The children growing up in our family – your family – are blessed with wonderful fathers. Someday I know, as adults, they will look back with love in gratitude for their Dads – just as I do today.

I love you, Daddy. I think about you more than I think you would believe. I would love to have you here – to hug, to laugh with, and just sit and visit with. I would love for you to meet all these great-grandchildren. They would love that deep bass voice of yours. I can close my eyes and imagine the wonder in their eyes – just like the wonder my children had in their eyes – just to be with you. You would have loved every moment of it. So would I.

Daddy, I am always a little girl in my thoughts of you — fragile, small and needing her father. On this Father’s Day I am thankful for all you gave me. I miss you more every day if that is possible. I think back to tiny, private moments we shared. Meaningless to some perhaps, but to me, they mean the world. You occupy a special place in my heart that will never belong to anyone else. I love you and miss you more than I can adequately express.

Sunday, like every day, I will miss you and sometime during the day I will whisper to myself ‘Happy Father’s Day, Daddy’. I hope you will look down on us and know we are missing you – especially this little girl who never imagined a life without her father.

I love you.  Always and Forever.


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.


Relationships, Sisters and the Value of Macaroni Salad

These days, we really seem to underestimate the value of family.  We are a broken nation, so content to flee rather than to hang on and fight.  No more kissing and making up.  It’s easy to stay mad.  We feel justified in our anger.  We’ve lost the value of longevity in our relationships.  I can’t say I’ve represented picture-perfect relationships in my life, although I’m certainly blessed to finally have found the love of my life.  I’m just saying, even in the best of times, it takes work.

We lost our mother way too early.  It was life-changing for all of us.  We struggled to maintain our balance when our world was being flipped upside down.  Slowly, over the years, we drifted back together after realizing we didn’t have the same substance apart as we did together.  Relationships had failed, succeeded, ebbed and flowed.  But the current of family still ran deep below the surface.  Then we lost Dad.  Another devastating blow.  This time as adults with children of our own, we had to be strong for them.  And still we drifted.  Then we lost our step-mom, who we all loved with everything in us and she loved us all in return.  It felt as if no one was left.  We had lost all our anchors.

Floating….floating….nothing to anchor us…..each adrift among success or failure, happiness or sadness.  Each adrift in life….and still the current of family ran deep.

166323_10150135118191057_7055742_nOne summer, three sisters decided to leave family behind.  We trekked to the mountains of Georgia just to remember what it was like to be sisters.  It wasn’t easy at first.  We had different memories.  We had different triggers.  We got angry with each other as we tried so hard to understand.  We worked jig-saw puzzles often times in silence….it didn’t hit me until months later how symbolic it was that we were putting the pieces of our lives back together…piece by piece, twisting and turning – trying to make sense of it all and trying to find where each little piece fit into the whole.

Then came the macaroni salad – the kind we grew up with.  We each did our part, cooking, chopping mixing…..little pieces again making up the whole.  For the rest of the week, this magical symbolic salad nurtured and fed us.  And we started to laugh.  We played games.  We challenged each other.  We stayed up late and didn’t shower.  We just hung out as only sisters can.

I think we all learned how much we loved each other.  Not that we forgot really, just that we were each leading independent and valuable lives – separate from the whole.  But sometimes you just need to be with people who have always been there.  People that have known you from day one.  People that love you even when you don’t shower.  I’d love to tell you more, but we made a pact – WHAT HAPPENS AT THE CABIN, STAYS AT THE CABIN.

In the midst of the trips to the mountains, both my sisters were diagnosed with cancer.  One sister had a kidney removed.  I was terrified for her and for me.  Then my other sister was diagnosed with cancer that she, too, seemed to overcome.  Last fall she was diagnosed with lung cancer and she’s fighting a very difficult battle.  Again I find myself terrified for her and for me.  But I refuse to give up.  Prayer.  Love.  My sisters are a huge part of me.  What I’ve learned through this process is that when you come from the kind of stock that we did, you never really fully lose that connection.  We may argue with each other and get frustrated, but you see, YOU don’t have the right to say ANYTHING disparaging about my sisters.  They belong to ME.  They are the links that make me whole.  Without them I would not feel the deep down honest to God love for anyone the way I do.  They taught me so much.  They still do.  They are part of me.  They are the parts that have always been.

If you have been as fortunate, stop tonight and reconnect.  Don’t let old hurts and disappointments take away what connects us to our very essence.  Make a call.  Give a hug.  Write a note.  Then thank God that you were blessed with the miracle of sisters.

And if you are doubly blessed by having a brother, remember that he may have been taught not to be soft.  Not to be nurturing.  Find the pieces and fit them back together.  We all need each other…sister or brother.  Mother or father.  We don’t come into this world alone….and if you look closely, someone ‘has always been’.

If you weren’t as fortunate, I give you my heart, because you deserved to be loved, too, as much as I am.

To my sisters and my brother – I love you to the moon and back again.  Now and always – you will always be a part of me.