Monday, October 2, 2017

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter

When I began this blog back around the year 2000 it became a labor of love and a legacy to pass on to my two grandsons someday, once they entered the picture.  I began taking care of each of them a month after they were born when my daughter-in-law went back to work, and I decided I'd basically journal about their lives on a blog, pretty much day-to-day, to one day 'gift' them with a record of their infancy and toddlerhood.  I did that, and this is the result.  It's lived its purpose; it's time to put it to rest.  I'm in the process at the moment as I write this of having it put into book form and published for them so they each have a copy that I'll give them in the future when I feel the time is right.  I'll also have my own copy.

I haven't written regularly on here for a long time but I've started a new blog to chronicle this next chapter of my life...growing older in this age-obsessed world.  I'm hoping it will help others like me who are content with sitting back and letting their hair turn gray, sipping on iced tea on the glider and watching the world go by.  My philosophy is "Life is too short" and I'm not going to waste it worrying about what the next guy thinks of me.  Been there, done that.  What time I have left on this ol' world is going to be quality time.

So, here is a link to my new blog.  I hope some of my readers who read this one so faithfully in the past will find me.  If you do, please leave a comment and say hi...I'll be so thrilled to hear from you.

God bless.

http://apathinthelight.blogspot.com/



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Parting is such sweet sorrow...


Yep, I'm shutting 'er down.  I have taken this blog and put it into book form for my grandsons and myself, and I am leaving it here because it's still getting traffic even tho I haven't written on it much since we moved to Michigan in 2011. But what I set out to do has been accomplished, covering the early years of my grandsons' childhood and interspersing those entries with entries of my own.  My hope is I'm leaving behind books that will help them remember the 'real' me in years to come when I'm long gone from this ol' world.

Going thru and editing what to save and what to delete was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I thought so many of the moments I wrote about would be things I'd never forget and was stunned at how much I'd forgotten.  But what is so wonderful, so amazing, is I DID write it, and we will have this record in our family's time in history.  We were there...and leaving it on the internet it should live on.  But, as I learned...and it was such a hard lesson...is blog sites can disappear without any notice, which is what happened with the beginnings of this blog.  I had switched over to Blogger when I began having all kinds of problems with Bravejournal and I had thought what I'd written would be there forever, only to try to go to it one day and finding it...gone.  Oh, the heartbreak!

I am going to start another blog...I have missed writing on a regular basis very much.  When I get it up and running I'll come back and provide a link to it if you want to follow my mental meanderings for the remainder of my life.  An anonymous commenter once left this on one of my posts:

"Who are you to think anyone would want to read about your boring and paltry life?"

With over a million views in its lifespan, I'd say somebody did.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Because I Can Never Forget This Ethiopian Flower....


(I originally posted this on 9/11/2009. I have decided that I will re-post this every year on the anniversary, just to keep the memory of this one beautiful soul alive...in my heart, in your heart. In everyone's heart who reads this.)


Here is a photo of a young woman who is now going to haunt me for the rest of my days. Her name was Eskedar Melaku. She died September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. She was 31 years old.

She was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City to attend Queens College. At the time of her death she was assistant vice president of Marsh & McLennan
Cos. Inc., a global professional services and insurance brokerage company, ranked the 5th largest US company in the diversified financial industry. I also found in researching for this blog post that the company was located on the floors directly impacted by the first jet that crashed into the North Tower. It comforts me to know that she never knew what hit her. She was a successful young business woman, but that only touches the surface of who she really was. She was described in the many tributes I've read about her by people who knew her as intelligent, beautiful, radiant, authentic, full of life. Hard working. Kind. Thoughtful. Never a bad word came from her mouth. A beautiful soul whose quiet presence is missed very much. How much she was loved by those fortunate enough to know her. How I wish I'd been one of them.

Like everyone else on that day, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the attacks on the World Trade Center were taking place. I was standing at my bedside, folding towels before leaving for work, listening to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on the Today Show on the TV behind me, Katie making some kind of comment like, "What does this mean?" before anyone really had a clue what was going on. I happened to turn to look at the TV just as the second plane was approaching and watched in horror as it slammed into the tower. I remember the icy cold tendrils of shock radiating down my spine, just as I feel them now as I sit here writing this. I never realized how this incident, this horrendous tragedy, would change the 'safe' world we Americans had always taken for granted, how America would never be the same. I said more prayers than I can remember that day, for those who perished and the loved ones left behind. I have said many prayers for them since. None of whom I ever knew personally.

But, now I do know one of them personally. Eskedar Melaku. And I know she'll come to mind on every anniversary of 9/11. And at many other random moments, whenever I hear references to that day. I will see that beautiful smile, those warm eyes. I will remember.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to. ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Retirement is a funny phenomenon.  I reached 62 at the end of last year and we decided I should go ahead and start receiving Social Security.  So, I signed up for it and began getting my checks a few months ago.  I cannot begin to tell you how surreal it was to look at our bank statement and to see my very first check deposited into our checking account.  How did that happen?!  How have I become so...old?  Believe me, it isn't much because my husband and I decided years ago that I'd be a stay-at-home mom for our kids and, it ended up, half the neighborhood.  We have never regretted that choice.  But outside of working seven years for the Portland Public Schools I would make a little extra money here and there cleaning houses, doing a little day care...little jobs with little income that had little influence on how much I'd get in my Golden Oldie Years.  Oh well.


I love quotes.  Bible quotes.  Famous people quotes.  Funny quotes.  Thought-provoking quotes.  I have a favorite website devoted to quotes and I glean most of those that I use from that site.  I was looking at it this morning under "Retirement" to see what I could use for my post title.  They're not very encouraging.  Mostly about living on less...much less...and the boredom that comes from suddenly transitioning from being so busy all the time to wondering what in the world you're going to do with the endless hours of inactivity stretching out in front of you.  This title caught my eye because outside of suggesting playing rounds and rounds of golf...it was the only one that encouraged me to do something with that time.  Volunteer.  Give away your time.  Go to your nearest elementary school and volunteer there...the staff will love you for it, and so will the kids.  I do that during the school year at my youngest grandson's school, and I'm known as Mrs. Cooper's Grandma to the little first graders I tutor to help them learn to read.  I volunteer at the Book Fair twice a year.  I'm going to sign up to volunteer at a hospice here in the city where I live.  You're giving of yourself...your talents...your strengths.  It keeps your mind active and healthy.  It keeps you in contact with people.  It gives you friendships.  It gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of usefulness.  A blessing is also there because you're doing unto others.


I don't want to wither away.  I don't want to sit here collecting dust.  I want to continue to be a productive part of society.  I want to contribute.


I want to matter.







Thursday, July 14, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

We are preparing to bid our daughter goodbye.  She's an adult, granted...but no matter how old they become, they're still our children.  And since we've had her with us or near us for almost 40 years, saying goodbye is not easy.  Not easy at all.


She will be leaving by train Monday morning to move back to Oregon.  Out of all of our family's monumental adventure of moving to Michigan a little over 5 years ago, she's the only one who's missed the Pacific Northwest the most.  Being single and working a very physical job on an average of 9 1/2 hours per day, when she's been home on the weekends it's mainly been a matter of resting up for the coming week ahead.  Even tho she likes Michigan she hasn't been able to establish any real friendships because of lack of time and energy.  She went to Oregon on vacation early in the Spring this year and stayed a week with her best friend of many years.  She realized just how much she'd missed her friend and also the beach and other amenities of Oregon.  They'd talked about my daughter moving back out there before, but this time they cemented the deal and she'll be moving on Monday.  She's selling and donating just about everything and will ship only the basics.  My daughter-in-law and I are spending the next few days helping her get everything ready.  She'll stay the weekend with her brother's family to spend some time with her nephews...and then she'll be gone.


Gone.


Sure, there's Skype and texting and all that.


It's not going to be the same, tho.  Not having her nearby.  With just her leaving, it diminishes our small core group of family by one and leaves us with only 6.  I already feel the loss.  My "mother's gut" is feeling sick and my heart is very heavy.  But I can't hold her back.  I can't be negative.  I want her to spread her wings and fly.


Sometimes we have to love them enough to let them go.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing. ~ Eva Young

Yup, what my post title says is the truth.  No arguing there.  I am finding that getting back into the groove of regular writing is like coming back from a Rip Van Winkle nap.  Brain cells that used to snap to attention and produce post haste now just kind of...dribble.  But at least they're still there.  I'm putting sentences together into some kind of cohesive order.  Aren't I?  I am not going back and rereading what I've written the past few days.  I am very guilty of over-critiquing myself and I'll talk myself out of writing anything at all if I start that up.


Kind of like when I joined Weight Watchers a bazillion years ago.  I so desperately wanted to lose weight and I did.  A lot of weight.  Something like 60 pounds in 8 months.  I was the star of my class, the lecturer's little darling.  I was put on a pedestal so high I was set up to crash, at least with the way my mind works.  And boy, did I crash, hard.  I became bulimic and an abuser of laxatives.  I purged like crazy.  I did anything to keep my weight at or below my goal for maybe a couple of years?  I don't remember for sure...this was back around 1980.  Then the pressure of it became too much and I fell off the band wagon with such a loud crash they probably heard it in Baltimore all the way from Portland, Oregon!  My greatest enemy in my lifetime has been my scale and it has had a demonic hold on me.   Or I should say it did until a few years ago.  I know I'm never going to look like Cindy Crawford at 50 in a bikini.  I wouldn't want to.  Can you imagine the pressure on her to stay skinny?  But I still refuse to look when my weight is taken at the doctor's office.  I tell the nurse to just write it down...I don't want to know.  Deep down I think I'm afraid I'll jump on the band wagon if I do and it will be back to the races again.  Instead, I'm at what I call a 'comfortable' weight.  Not skinny and not fat.  Just "grandmotherly" and since I'm a 62 year old grandma, that's sufficient for me.  What is so sad is the stupid things we do to our bodies in our youth come back to bite us on the behind as we get older and my dumb choices have wreaked havoc on my digestive system thru the years.  You wanna dance, ya gotta pay the piper.  End of story.


So...it's been a good but emotional day.  My little buddy Christian was over at our house this morning for the last time before school.  We had a long, very sweet hug before we piled in the van to head to school.  I dropped him off and then had a lovely breakfast with a dear friend and I'm sure that helped make the morning a little less emotional.  Around 11:30 our family gathered together at our grandsons' elementary school to participate in a tradition that's been upheld for many years where family, school staff, and the other kids in the school gather in the hallways to 'clap out' the 4th graders as they leave the school for the very last time.  Very bittersweet and especially emotional today because our daughter will be leaving to live in Oregon in a month and she and our grandson had a very tearful moment at the end.  It's great to make fresh new plans for your life...but the reality of goodbye comes knocking at your door too and I don't think my daughter knew before today just how hard that's going to be.  When we moved to Michigan we came completely intact as a family but now she's heading back all on her own.  Quite a different scenario this time around.


So as my brain cells...dribble...I am not going to be disheartened that my blogging audience who once upon a time was very healthy has faded away to next-to-nothing.  I never started this blog 14 years ago for that reason, anyway.  I began it to chronicle the lives of my grandsons and it has morphed into so many other things as well.  When I first began writing this all those years ago someone left me a very rude comment that almost caused me to quit before I'd hardly begun.  He said, "Who wants to read about your boring and paltry life anyway?"  You know who?  ME!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

I have a little boy at my house this week who is letting me know he's not very happy with me.  Not in words, but actions...and I can't be mad at him because, even at my age, I can remember how frustrating and heartbreaking life could be as a child when I had no control over things happening in my life.  Until you're 18, you're basically at the mercy of whoever is in charge of raising you.


This little guy is my buddy Christian.  I've been taking care of him in various capacities for the past two years...before school, after school, part of the time last summer.  We've become very attached in these two years.  Sadly, the time's come where I can no longer offer him day care...partly because of health limitations.  Because I have no kids in our neighborhood for him to play with, and no electronic game systems.  Last summer on the days I took care of him, sometimes I was so desperate for him to have someone to play with because he was so bored that I'd take him to McDonald's Play Place and let him loose for a couple of hours since there were always kids there. He's at an age now, almost 7, where he's not all that interested in toys anymore. I'm collecting Social Security now and the possibility of tax penalties if I'm not careful with any extra money I make is a big consideration, too.  But mostly...mostly...in complete honesty...I'm just ready to say goodbye to taking care of other people's kids.  I've been doing it all my life and I no longer have the "want to" in me to keep up the pace needed to do a good job of it. And rather than becoming a cranky old lady doing something she no longer wants to do, I'm hanging up my hat.


That isn't to say it isn't going to be wrenching to say goodbye.  I love him almost as much as I love my grandsons.  But as he and I have been talking about it here and there since he learned about it, I think even in his young mind he knows I'm not up to the task anymore.  Not that it's going to be easy on him, either, as I know he loves me, too.


I'm going to give him a gift tomorrow, our last day together.  I collect angels and I took the most beautiful one I have, one with a lot of sentimental value to me, and wrapped it up in a box.  The bigger the sacrifice, the more precious the giving, right?  I wrote in his card that I was giving him this angel to keep in a safe spot, and every time he looks at it to remember that I'm praying for him always.  I told him he will always have a Heavenly Father who is only a whisper away.  And I told him I love him...but, more importantly, Jesus loves him.  REALLY loves him.  That is the most important gift of all.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ e e. cummings

Where oh where oh where did my muse disappear to?  Is that the right word...the ability to think, comment, and meditate?  I dunno.  Something profound happened when we moved 5 years ago to Michigan.  My blog writing almost entirely dried up.  Became a desert land in what had once been a fertile oasis!  When we lived in Portland, Oregon, I couldn't wait to get to my computer keyboard most days and just rattle on.  My high school Creative Writing teacher, Anne Hartley, who was a great believer in stream of consciousness writing, would have been proud of me.  Maybe it's because Dear Hubby and I were a little past our prime, into our late 50's when we made this -- to us -- monumental move. 2400 miles from all that had been familiar our entire lives.  Far from family and friends.  Far from the church we'd worshiped at for 35 years.  Dear Hubby left a job he'd had for 32 years, to take on a brand new one that was starting from scratch and a totally different line of work.  A new state, a new climate, people of a much different mindset from the very liberal West Coast. When we moved into our new house I had to use my GPS to even find a nearby grocery store!  We knew absolutely nothing about where we'd moved to.  One huge blessing was the fact our entire core family  --  Dear Hubby, myself, our son, his wife, our daughter, and our grandsons --  all moved here together.  But we were the only familiar faces we knew.


We bought a house in a very comfortable, friendly neighborhood.  Dear Hubby's work took him out of town a lot and I was allowed to ride along with him on the road trips so the first couple years here we covered a lot of territory.  We saw all kinds of sights we never dreamed we'd see when we lived out West.  Traveled thru many states.  Began attending a little branch church of our faith in Kitchener, Ontario, which is a 3 1/2 hour drive from where we live near Detroit.  Our two grandsons began attending a wonderful school here and made lots of friends and got involved in sports.  The business we all came here to help establish thrived and grew beyond the owner's expectations.  It's a good life.  I am the only one in our family who hasn't traveled back to Oregon.  I have felt since I moved here like I'd come home, and I still feel that way.  I have no desire to go visit.


I've got a good life established here for myself, too.  Between friends in Kitchener and those in the Thumb area of Michigan at another church we began attending because health issues don't allow me to travel so far any more, I have a satisfying social life.  At this stage in life my grandsons are now old enough where I'm not needed so much like I was when they were little guys.  So when my hip and back issues allow I like to volunteer at their school.  I've also taken care of a darling little boy before school for the past two years.


But you've got to be ready for the forks in the road that come along.


We recently found out our daughter is moving back to Oregon next month.  As a single, she's missed her life and friends there a lot since we moved here.  Work over the years has been so busy...and long hours and very physical.  She's worn out and burned out.  An opportunity to make the move has opened up and she's jumping at the chance to make it.  I can't blame her.  I can't hold her back.  But, boy...am I going to miss her.  And, because of trying to avoid Social Security tax penalties, after school gets out on Thursday I will no longer be taking care of the little boy who has grown to be like another grandson.


Those are my forks.


I don't know how I feel about them, either.


But I've never been resistant to change.  I wouldn't have moved to Michigan if I had been, would I? 


Neither goodbye is going to be without tears.  You might even hear my heart crack in two.


Life's book is so full of different chapters.  You come to a new one, you turn the page.  New lessons to learn.  It's a fact of Life.  But it doesn't make it any easier.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~ Alan Alda

There are times in people's lives where facing big decisions could lead to some major relocations in their lives.  Oh, can I empathize!  I know exactly the exhilaration, the terror, the excitement, the fear of the great unknown.  I can sympathize as well...it's pretty daunting, packing up all you own, selling your house, and moving a great distance from everyone and everything you've ever known.  You move into a new house in a new neighborhood in a new city in a new state in a new region.  And then what?  Well, you settle right in and start making a new life the very next day.  You don't dwell on what you've left...you embrace what you've come to.  One of the positives of moving to somewhere new in the US is everyone still speaks your language.  And when you go shopping, the shelves are stocked with many of the brands of foods you've always seen at the grocery store.  Granted, the names of the stores may be different and there are some regional brands you've never seen before.  But trust me...it's just food, no matter what the brand.  Moving from the Pacific Northwest to Michigan the accents of the people are very different and at first was very pronounced to me, but now after almost 4 years of living here I don't hardly notice it any more, tho I do hear it in the voice of my youngest grandchild...he's very much a Michigander.  You don't constantly compare the differences of 'here' and 'home'.  For one thing, I was told Oregon is so far away most people here know nothing about it.  At most I get asked, "Doesn't it rain there a lot?" And  "Isn't it by the ocean?"  That's about as far as their curiosity goes.  Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz...."Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore".  And that pretty much hits the nail on the head.


I was in my mid-50s when we moved here.  I know our younger population thinks nothing of moving anywhere at any time for the most part...they're a very mobile, world-traveling generation.  But I come from a childhood in a small town in the 1950s and early 1960s, where life was simple and the pace was slow and you knew just about everyone in town.  My adult years were spent in and around Portland.  We never moved more than 75 miles from the area, and that was only for a few months before moving back to Portland again when our son was born 36 years ago.  So to say we had a pretty routine-oriented life...where one day blended into another day...and another day...and another day...would describe us very well.  I had no desire, no plan, to move or live anywhere else.  I figured we'd finish up our lives here on earth right where we were.  But God had different plans for us...and here we are.  One should never say never.  You might get thrown a curve ball that will be a grand-slam homerun.


Change is good.  You don't move and then wait for the whole world to come and find you in your little corner of it.  You get out there, get talking, be friendly.  And don't use "But I'm so shy!" as your excuse.  So am I!  My basic nature is very introverted.  But no one here knows that about me unless I tell them.  Life here is a whole brand new clean slate and you can start afresh.  And it's amazing how liberating that is!

Monday, October 28, 2013

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

A puffy little fur-ball came into my life back in 2004.  He was a new Lhasa Apso puppy and his name was, quite fittingly, Max.  He was my grandpuppy before my grandsons came along and I used to do daily care for him as well while my son and daughter-in-law worked.  I house-broke him, walked him, and loved him with everything in me.  He had the biggest heart of any dog I've ever known, and his instinctive empathy was amazing.  When I was quite ill at one point, he used to jump up on the bed and stretch out his body alongside mine, giving me warmth and comfort.  He was so happy-go-lucky, something that served him well once the grandboys came along.  His one downfall was he never did learn to obey the word "Come!"  If he accidentally slipped out of the door, he was gone! But he always managed to find his way back.

This past week Max began showing signs he wasn't feeling well, around Wednesday.  He wouldn't eat or drink, he had no energy.  He lost his luster and his shine and his eyes became dull.  My son was out of town for a week's vacation with Dear Hubby so getting Max to the vet and trying to get him some help fell on my daughter-in-law and me.  By Friday he was very ill.  She took him in earlier in the day, then I took him back Friday evening so they could give him an IV to try to sustain him until the next morning when the Veterinary Hospital opened.  By Saturday morning, he was in pretty desperate shape.  We took him in, and to make a very sad story short, we had to have him put down.  He was barely hanging on to life when he arrived at the hospital.

So...Maxie will never be slipping out of the door again and frisking off into the distance.  He'll never come and sit beside me early in the morning on the days I take care of my grandsons, laying his head on my lap while we wait for the boys to awaken.  He doesn't need to worry about obeying the word "Come!" anymore.  I'm sure in his little corner of doggy heaven he's free to run and enjoy himself as much as he wants to.  I'm sure he's there to give some little angel boy or girl all the love he bestowed on us here on earth.  And I'm sure, on the day each of us gets to heaven, he'll be there waiting at the gate to welcome us home.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Dear Hubby meeting his New Best Friend
 
Dear Hubby and I took a vacation in early August to southern Missouri to attend a church camp of our faith for 5 days.  This is an annual Camp Meeting that is held every year for those who live in the Midwest and East.  People came from as far away as Portland, too, which is where our faith's headquarters are and where Dear Hubby and I attended church for 35 years.  Portland has an international Camp Meeting at the end of June that lasts for two weeks and people from all over the world attend that one.  In all the years we'd lived in Portland we had never been able to afford or take the time to make the trip to southern Missouri so this was our first time ever and it was a wonderful experience.

But...before we headed down to the Ozarks and the church camp we took a little side trip to a tiny town about halfway between St. Louis and Jefferson City.  It's the town my husband's father lived in before their family moved to Portland in the early 1940s, where he and his siblings spent a good portion of their childhood.  It is a town that's been devastated by the economy and also a major flood of the Missouri River in the 1990s that destroyed many homes and businesses.  As Dear Hubby and I drove in on the main highway thru town we didn't know what to expect but we surely didn't expect to find a literal ghost town.  About the only businesses we saw that were open were a little convenience store/gas station and a mechanic's garage.  We drove around and were so disappointed to begin with, there were so few signs of life.  Coming to this little town was a dream come true for Dear Hubby, who'd always wished he could visit someday...and it looked like it was going to be a bust.  That is, until we turned a corner and approached a church.  There was an elderly lady sweeping the sidewalk there and I said to Dear Hubby, "Why don't you stop and ask her if she might have known your family?  She looks about the right age."  So Dear Hubby pulled up next to the curb and called out to her.  He got out of the car and as he walked towards her he asked her how long she'd lived in the town.  "Why, I've lived here all my life!" she told him.  "Well, then...I'm wondering if maybe you might have known my Dad's family," he said.  She asked what the family name was and when he told her she exclaimed, "You mean Norma and Ray and Russell?  Well, yes, I knew them!  Norma was my sister's best friend.  We used to all go to school and play together!"  Oh my word!  This was over 70 years ago!  To make a long story short, she and Dear Hubby were new best friends from that moment onward.  When he told her how thrilled he was to meet her, she told him, "Why, this is such a thrill for me, too!  I get to share all these memories of my childhood and have such a nice visit!  I never dreamed when I got up this morning that this would happen to me today!"  She took us on a tour of the town and showed him the house his dad had lived in as a boy.  We went to the old school up on School Hill, to the Pavilion and Park along the Missouri River where they played and went to dances.  She remembered everything and at 85 her mind was as sharp as a tack.  She invited us into her home and we had a lovely visit there.  By the time we left we felt like we'd known one another forever.  We couldn't thank her enough for her kindness and hospitality.  She told us with a twinkle in her eye as she walked us out to our car when we were leaving, "Why, I wish I'd known you were coming!  I would've baked you a cake!"  I don't know who had a better time, her or Dear Hubby.  It was a very emotional trip for him and it was such a privilege to be a part of his special day, to see how much it meant to him and touched his heart.  His grandparents have been gone a long time and his dad, his aunts, his uncles, are all gone now, too, the last of them passing on just a short time before we moved to Michigan.  His New Best Friend brought the past alive to him in a way he'd never dreamed possible.  I knew his dad and aunts and uncles and it brought them all to life again for me, too.  I could just picture them walking the country road to school...swimming in the old water hole...playing in the grassy yard around the old school on the hill.  A person hearing this story could say, "What a nice coincidence!"  I say, what an incredibly sweet gift from the good Lord.  Before we'd gone to the little town, we'd stopped in another one, a kind of touristy-trap place a few miles up the highway.  We talked about taking a walk and stopping in some of the antique shops but I had this urge to move on so we hopped in the car and drove on to the little town.  If we'd stopped and browsed, we most likely would've missed our opportunity to meet our new friend...she was just finishing up with her sweeping and was getting ready to go home when we pulled up next to her.  We could have turned the corner by the church 5 minutes, half an hour later, and missed her completely.  It was just meant to be.  In my heart there ain't no doubt about it.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 
Ok.  This is my third attempt at trying to write something here this evening.  I love to write with music playing and on my first attempt I tried my Pandora station of Bluegrass Gospel...mmmm, no.  Then it was Contemporary Christian...that didn't do anything for me either.  So now I've got it on my Piano Instrumentals and I guess I'm like Goldilocks because this music is 'just right'!  Third time seems to be the charm.  Maybe I'll get somewhere now.
 
I have very few photographs of myself when I was a little girl.  We didn't have much money and film was a luxury back in the 1950s.  I have always loved this photo.  I'm sitting on the porch with my brother who is 2 1/2 years older than me and with my paternal grandmother.  My brother and I are bundled up but Grammy is sitting there in one of her old house dresses, short-sleeved, no jacket on.  This was taken in Washington State along the coast and I notice the sun is shining.  I can't tell you what a rarity that is there thru the winter and spring months.  I'm having a hard time gauging when this must have been taken because my grandmother died on Easter Sunday when I was 3.  That was in 1957, and I don't think I look much beyond 2 or 3 here.  My birthday is at the tail end of December, so I'm thinking this must've been just around the time she died. With all that said...I can't remember my grandmother, not consciously.  But see that funny-looking thing I'm clutching in my arms?  It was a cardboard lady.  The back of it, which is pointing out at the camera, is blank, but on the other side, the caricature was of a very refined lady with a striped parasol.  She had on a beautiful dress and high heels.  It sat on top of the dresser in my grandmother's bedroom and I simply loved that cardboard doll.  It was a special privilege for me to be allowed to hold it when I came to visit and it's the first thing I ran to claim whenever I arrived there. 
 
Why would I remember a cardboard doll but not my grandmother?  I can remember the smell of the house she lived in because my grandfather was a heavy smoker and the cigarette smoke was almost overwhelming as you walked in.  I can remember the outside of the house, what her dresser looked like in her bedroom, her old dog Muffet.  But when I try to bring up an image of her, my mind is empty.  What I do have when I think of her is more of an emotional memory.  I can feel a deep sense of love and warmth and comfort.  But try as I might I can't 'see' her.
 
The mind is a strange storehouse.  I can remember things from 55 years ago like it was yesterday, and yet I can't remember where I put my glasses.  I can relate a memory to my oldest brother that's crystal clear in my mind and he'll tell me, "No, it happened this way, not that way!"  My daughter can remember even the most minute detail of her childhood...and my son can't remember anything.  Why does my brain  let me remember riding home in the car, looking over the backseat at my newborn baby brother cradled in my mother's arms, when I was 6...but I can't remember my mother's voice 24 years after she passed away?
 
Time is a funny thing.  I heard it explained in an interesting way today:  We are allowed the time allotted for our lives from the moment we're born to the moment we die.  Our time didn't exist before that, and our time ended then, in the physical sense.  And as to memories...well, we're only still 'alive' when there's still someone left here on Earth to remember us.  Once that last family member or acquaintance we knew passes away themselves...well, we die again right along with them, really.  It kind of gives time a different perspective thought about that way, doesn't it?
 
I don't know about you, but I'm glad there are a lot of things we don't remember.  There have been many things in my life I've striven to forget.  And yet I'm sure there are a lot of things I wish I could remember, like the hugs and voice and smile of my grandmother, the voice of my own mother.  With Grammy,  all that is lost forever but thankfully, with my mom, there are still old VCR tapes I can pull out and play where I can see and hear her again.  With the sound and the image, she comes alive again for those few moments and my memory is refreshed.  Because I'm still here and I remember her, she's still alive for me, even if she is just a memory.
 

 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's but little good you'll do a-watering the last year's crops. ~ George Eliot, "Adam Bede", 1859

Oh, why not shock everyone and post another entry to my blog?  I'm sure my blog doesn't know what to make of it! 

Isn't this photo beautiful?  It's a picture of a lake that's in my hometown in Washington State.  It's around 2500 miles from where I live now so I highly doubt I'll ever see it again.  You know, when you get to my age...almost 60...not that it's that old...you begin to think of Time in a different perspective.  At 20, 60 seemed like the Dark Ages to me.  Now, being almost that age myself, 20 seems like I was barely out of diapers.  And to think I got married at that age!  Mercy.  Now, there's a scary thought.

But...back to perspectives...when we moved to Michigan a few years ago, as I boarded the jet to fly here, I never even began to think that I might never make it back to Portland again.  We learned about the possibility of moving in November 2010 and moved in March 2011, so it was a very whirlwind experience...coming here in January to find a house in 5 days, then going 'home' to start packing and organizing the move, sorting thru 28 years of memories and belongings.  Realizing how few 'things' were actually important enough to drag 2/3 of the way across the country with us.  I know people move every day, and sometimes much further distances than we did, but if you had any clue what creatures of habit Dear Hubby and I were beforehand!  We shocked everyone who's known us for years when we suddenly announced we were heading for the upper Midwest.  I think we shocked ourselves most of all, taking this midlife adventure of a lifetime in our later 50s.  And now, here we are 2 1/2 years later and we are so settled, so happy here.  The funny thing about it, it's hard to believe we ever lived anywhere else.  Michigan is truly home to us.

Even so, every now and then a memory or a photo or a comment posted on Facebook by a friend or family member who still lives in the Northwest will draw me up short and I'll think, "Wow...you know, I may never see Lizzee again"....my best friend since 1967.  Or the lake I have pictured up above.  Or my brothers.  Or the house we lived in for 28 years.  And I'll have a twinge that I can't quite put into words.  It's not homesickness or remorse in moving so far away.  No, it's more like a bittersweetness.  Kind of like how I feel when I think of my years of caring for my grandsons on a daily basis.  They'll be a thing of the past, now that they'll both be in school for full days come the Fall.  An ache in the center of my heart.  But it passes, and I get caught up in the here-and-now, which is a life full of family and love and discovering this part of the country, something I never dreamed I'd do in a million years.  I have made new friends that will never take the place of the old ones, but will add a new richness to my life.  I will stand on the shores of  Lake Huron or Lake Michigan or Lake Superior...and I will think of the many, many trips I made to the shorelines of the Pacific Ocean.  And I will miss the tang of salt on my lips but I will lift my head up and revel in the fresh breezes blowing off these magnificent lakes. 

Life is a series of give-and-takes, isn't it?  We give up one thing, only to have it replaced by another.  It doesn't mean the past is lost.  It just means there's room in the present and the future for many more blessings.  You just keep yourself open to them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job. ~ Laurence J. Peter

 
I have to tell you a funny story about something that happened to me today. As I was scrolling down my page on Facebook this morning there was a video one of my friends in Ontario, Canada, had posted of her uncle playing the accordion and singing during one of the Sunday services at the church we attend there and she'd written a description saying, "Uncle Obed did a nice job!" or something like that. I clicked on the video to see who it was because the picture of it on my page was quite tiny, and I am still not sure who is related to who there. Well, up pops the video and I'm thinking, "That's Sharron's Uncle Obed? But that's Hobart!"  Dear Hubby and I had been calling him Hobart for the past two years! And then it dawned on me that we had really lost his name in translation from the "Newfie" way of talking. 99% of the people who go to the little church there are originally from Newfoundland/Labrador and even tho they speak English it's a dialect unto itself. After spending so much time with them the past couple years we've grown accustomed to it and rarely don't understand something someone has said. But poor Obed! Here we'd been calling him "Hobart" all this time! You see, the Newfies drop the letter "H" if it shows up at the beginning of a word so 'home' is pronounced " 'ome"..."hair" is " 'air"...''heaven'' is " 'eaven." And then they add "H's" to the beginning of words that don't normally have them. "Amen" becomes "Haymen" and "air" will then become "hair". Kind of confusing until you get the rhythm and cadence of their speech patterns. They also don't say the "th" sound...it's just "t"...like 'thank' is 'tank'. So our friend "Obed" is pronounced the Newfie way: "Obed" becomes "Ho-bed" but they speak so fast it sounds like "Hobart". Ok, that's funny enough, right? So here, as we've shaken his hand when we've seen him, we've been saying "Well, hello, Hobart! How are you?" and he's been looking at us like "Who?" but he's so sweet and gracious he's never corrected us. And a time or two when we've been at the Pastor's house and I've said something about "Hobart" he or his wife will speak up and ask, "Who?" and I'll say "Hobart!" and they're like "Oh, yes, Ho-bed!" and I'll say, "Yes, Hobart!" LOL! Well....today when I saw the video and realized our Hobart was Uncle Obed I was mortified! I sent a message to Sharron telling her how embarrassing it was to admit our mistake but she and I got the virtual hysterical giggles over it, haha! We always have dinner at either the pastor's home or, if they have other social obligation with visitors (we're considered part of the congregation now) someone else will have us over. And when it's just us with another couple or two we follow the conversation just fine, but if we get into a big group....Sharron and her husband usually have a houseful....and they all get to talking Newfie together, oh my word is it a challenge to keep up.  They talk SO fast! I could listen to them talk all day tho, it's just so charming! There is one rather remote spot in N/L where even most of the Newfies have a hard time understanding the dialect of those who come from there. The head of our faith's Canadian churches is from that region and I haven't heard him preach often thru the years but he purposely starts out slow and easy when he does preach in the American churches.  Once he gets excited or passionate, fuhgeddaboutit! You can't understand a thing he says!   At least I can't!  When I told Dear Hubby about our goof-up when he got home we both had a good laugh over it. Just like Sharron did when I told her we'd been calling her uncle "Hobart" for the TWO years we've gone there! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The years teach much which the days never knew. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a self-portrait I took of myself recently for a Photo-A-Day challenge I've been doing with a niece of mine.  My hair is not short...I have it skinned back in a pony tail.  I also don't have my glasses on, which is highly unusual because I can hardly see without them, but I had just come upstairs from spending 45 minutes riding on the exercise bike my family gave me for my birthday at the end of December. I had forgotten them and left them down in the basement near the bike.

Once upon a time I would never have posted this picture of me.  I would have scrutinized it without mercy, found a million flaws, and cast it into the Recycle Bin.  Now I am contemplating using it for the dust cover photo on my book if, by some miracle, my book ever gets published.  I like it.  I like the glow of the light reflecting off the snow that was outside the window that morning.  I like how it highlights the silver in my hair.  And I see some of the lines that are permanently etched and growing deeper every day in my face.  I see a woman who is overall very content with her life, and I see the peace in her face. 

I have come to realize as I'm getting older that because of my aversion to having my picture taken I have robbed my family of my pictorial history, so to speak.  There are not very many photos of me in the thousands we have stored in various albums and boxes and storage bins.  If one were to go thru them all you'd find abbreviated bits of me...and in most of them I'm expressionless or scowling.  I was told early on in life that I 'took' horrible pictures, that I was ugly, and it's taken me 59 years to finally relax with it and figure, "Whatever!"  I never thought I'd see that day.  When I am the photographer, tho, I exercise editing rights...I took about 10 photos before I was satisfied with this one. I am happy with it because, in looking at it, I see me and I'm realizing I'm not unhappy with the person in the pictureAnd I never thought I'd see that day, either.  But how I look at life approaching 60 is a lot different from how I viewed it approaching 50.  Or 40.  Or 30.  Or even 20.  We become much kinder to ourselves, we do.  And with that comes a relaxation of spirit within us.  We are who we are and, at least in my life, I've become content with that.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. ~ Neil Postman




I had posted a couple of very precious moments I've had as a grandmother in the past month on Facebook and a friend told me that I need to write them down.  So I thought what better place than here on my blog?  I began writing my blog before either one of them was even a blip on the radar screen of our family but since they arrived -- and enriched  --  our lives my blog has been a chronicle of their lives intertwined with daily life and oberservations.  The first one here with Dylan happened today.  The second, with Cooper, happened on January 24th.

Our grandsons spent the nite last nite and around 6 am Dylan came in and stood next to the bed. I grabbed a hold of his hand and he was FREEZING!  Dear Hubby told him to come over to his side of the bed and get in because he was getting up. I asked him, "Why are you so cold?!" as he snuggled in next to me. "Because I was reading the Holy Bible page 1 to 24", he told me...he'd gone in to Dear Hubby's den and was sitting there in the dark, pretending he was reading the Bible like Papa. How precious was that?

Out of the blue my little grandson came to me and asked "How do I become a Christian, Gram?" Mind you, he's only 4 years old. I told him he needed to pray and ask Jesus into his heart. He asked "Can I pray now?" I told him of course he could so he climbed up into my lap and said the sweetest little prayer...I'm sure it melted the Lord's heart as much as it did mine! When he got done he asked if he's a Christian now. When I said yes he gave me the sweetest smile and said "FINALLY!!" It made me wonder how long he's been pondering this in his little mind. ♥ ♥ ♥

Friday, January 11, 2013

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~ Anatole France

 
Don't you wish Life came with written directions?  When something comes your way where you need to make a decision or a change, you can look it up on page 37 and it says right there, in black and white, "Why, yes...you should do this."  And just as clearly say, "Ah ah ah...don't be an idiot! Say no!"
 
When we're little kids the decisions are all made for us, whether they're good, bad, or questionable.  We have no control over them and we live with the consequences.  And we can't wait to grow up, to have the power to make our own decisions.  That's when we learn a new respect for our parents, when we realize that decision-making isn't all that much fun.  Or easy.  Nothing in life is a given.  There's always a 50/50 chance of success or failure.
 
Dear Hubby and I have made some really dumb choices in life at times.  Like the time we bought a car from someone he knew who was anxious to sell it, only to have the transmission burn up on it a week later.  We've also made some excellent choices, like our decision to move here to the Midwest. The decision to buy the car was based on looking at the outside and liking what we saw.  Spontaneous.  No thought whatsoever as to what lay under the surface.  We liked it, we bought it.  Dumb dumb  decision.  Moving here, things happened very fast once the plan was put into motion but we prayed earnestly and asked God the entire time, "If this isn't meant to be, slam the doors shut!"  He in turn threw them so wide open we followed His lead every step of the way.  There is no place on this earth that is paradise but we have been very blessed by this decision and I know for myself I'm happier here than I've been in years.
 
I don't usually do well with change.  I don't like anyone rocking my boat, messing with my routines.  But I think that's true of everyone.  We all have our comfort zones and I know for myself I'm always afraid if I step out in one direction or the other I'm going to fall off the path and land on my face.  I don't know why, really.  Whether good or bad, I've survived every decision I've made in life so far.  I might've survived with a few bruises here and there, but I've also come out into glorious light as well.  I've always learned either good or bad lessons.  Hopefully I remember the bad ones and don't repeat them.  Sometimes wisdom comes at a high price.
 
I might have written about this before...maybe not.  But it's well worth repeating because it's the most valuable Life Lesson I've learned so far in my 59 years on this earth: 
 
99% of what we fret and stew and worry about never comes to pass.  The 1% that does...we face it, deal with it, and move on.
 
Somehow, I take a lot of comfort in that.  Because, isn't it the truth?
 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture. ~ Kak Sri

 
I am here to tell you that miracles still happen.
 
20 years ago the brother closest to me in age cut me completely out of his and his family's life. Many attempts were made by me and my other two brothers to reconcile...after me, he cut everyone off, including our father.  All of those attempts were ignored, even when we tried to contact him to let him know our father was dying, and Dad's dying wish was to see him.  I won't go into details because the  why of it is not the focus of what I'm saying here. It's because there's been a little tiny break in the ice.  It's taken the third generation of my brother's family to finally allow contact but contact has been made and I'm optimistic it will at least continue with my grand-nephew.
 
As I got online before going to bed, I was floored to see a message on Facebook from this grand-nephew.  I had found him on Facebook in May 2011 and attempted to contact him, especially when I found out he was going to college here in Michigan and lives only 20 miles away from us!  I never got a response, so I figured, "Oh well...at least I tried."
 
Then, lo and behold!  This message from him last nite!  He said my message had been stored in another folder and he never found it until yesterday.  His message was very friendly, very open...so I sent one to him and he was online and answered right back.  We ended up chatting for about 45 minutes! He is visiting my niece who is his mom and other family in Washington State during Winter Break but I told him once he gets 'home' here to contact me if he'd like to come have a homemade meal and to get to know us.  He said that sounded very nice.
 
We'll see what happens.  Dear Hubby told me not to get my hopes up and I haven't.  But even if this is the only contact I ever have with him, it's enough.  I have been praying for 20 years that this day would come.  Maybe it's the crack in the iceberg...maybe they'll be horrified he had anything to do with me.  But he seems to be a young man with a mind of his own and I have a feeling he'll do what he wants.
 
So...Merry Christmas to me!  This truly was a gift from God this year. 


 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

My four-year-old grandson spent the day with me earlier this week and as I sat with him at the kitchen table during lunch he told me about something that he considered ugly.  We got into a conversation about the word and I told him it is ok to call things ugly but he should never use that word about a person.  I told him God made each of us the way He wants us to look and it's no one's fault how they were born, ugly or beautiful.  I then shared with him how I'd been bullied in middle school especially, how kids used to tell me I was so ugly they wanted to puke when they looked at my face.  Let's just say it wasn't a real self-confidence building time in my life.  As I told this story to Cooper his eyes became huge and he told me, "Gram, I will go find those people and GET them for you!"  Ahhhhh...where was he 45 years ago when I needed him? I wrote about that on my Facebook page, and one of my friends commented it's because of the human sin nature.  It's been going on since the Garden of Eden, that's for sure, with all the bad blood Cain felt for Abel.  Wanting his offerings to be the best...his envy for Abel causing him to kill his brother.  I can't remember ever saying anything as hurtful as the things said to me.  I just wanted to be left alone...I just wanted out of there, and moving away from that particular school was one of the happiest days of my adolescent life.  Not that the bullying didn't happen in other schools, but it was never again as vicious as it was there.  I could deal with it.

What is ironic is a few years after I'd graduated from high school, Dear Hubby and I were at a little cafe having breakfast and who should walk in but one of my former tormentors.  As we made eye contact I could feel myself shrinking up inside, but she walked over to me and started talking to me, telling me how nice it was to see me....how was I? How was life treating me?  It was all very surreal, let me tell you.  And I saw her a time or two after that, at the same cafe, and it was like that horrible time never took place between the two of us.  How strange.

Dear Hubby had a conversation with another man about bullying the other day.  Dear Hubby had his issues with it happening to him, too.  This gentleman told Dear Hubby that he'd had it really bad in school but there was one boy in particular who tormented him especially.  But he said not long ago this same boy...now a middle-aged man...had contacted him thru Facebook and apologized.  He said he'd been haunted by his actions for years.

I know it has to be some kind of basic insecurity in the one who does the bullying, his/her attempt to make themselves feel important or 'better' by tormenting those around them.  I know I survived my bullying but I can't say it hasn't left its scars.  When Dear Hubby or my little grandsons tell me I'm beautiful, I just brush it away...I will never be beautiful.  The ability to believe that was taken away from me 45 years ago.  But I wouldn't go back and change those years.  Sure, those words hurt and life lessons like that really stink.  And yet those years helped shape my character...and I am compassionate, loving, and empathetic because of them.  I won't go so far as to say "Thank you" to my tormentors, but I would like to tell them  I survived.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God's finger on man's shoulder. ~ Charles Morgan

This is a photo of Dear Hubby and me taken not too long after we'd been married. Weren't we a couple of young kids?! Oh my word, when I look back and think of how we thought we were so grown up.  We were both around 21 at the time. 38 1/2 years later...well, we've been thru tough times and we've been thru good times. Thankfully, the good times far outnumber the bad ones. Our love for each other has strengthened thru the years and I can't imagine life without him.

But, you know, the years do march on. We're beginning to see more and more of our contemporaries dying. Both my parents are gone and Dear Hubby's dad as well. His mother is in her 80s and getting more frail with each passing year. We're gradually becoming the "older" generation.  Now, there's a sobering thought.

Sometimes we talk about what we might do if one of us dies, how we'll handle being alone. Both of us are adamant in saying we wouldn't marry again. I can almost guarantee I wouldn't. I am very solitary by nature and independent and I think I would survive ok. I won't know that for sure until it happens, and I pray it doesn't for a long time. Dear Hubby...well, I'm pretty sure he won't remarry either. As some of the spouses of our friends are dying and we're seeing the survivor trying to get back into the dating game at 50, 60, and even up into their later 70s...it doesn't seem to be too appealing. For one, especially if you've been married a long time, you're so used to the habits, the sounds, the presence of your spouse the idea of adjusting yourself to allow another person into your life seems pretty overwhelming.  At least it does to Dear Hubby and me. What if a new guy chews with his mouth open? What if a new lady wears stinky perfume? What if he's addicted to sports and game shows and has the TV on 24/7? What if she's a "Honey Do-lister" and expects Dear Hubby to spend his time on little projects that fill up his weekend? What if her adult kids don't like him? And what if his adult kids don't like her? It happens, more often than not, because this new person in your life is intruding on the children's memories, the spaces inhabited in their lives, of the parent who is gone. And dating! It was hard enough at 16, trying to impress someone of the opposite sex. I can't imagine having to start....all...over...again.  From square one. There are plenty of times when Dear Hubby and I go out to dinner and hardly say a word to each other, but it's a comfortable quietness. Same thing here at home when we're reading together and listening to music. We don't have to fill the air with chatter. If we have something to say, we say it. We have both said the idea of going out on a date and having to make conversation is exhausting!

I have had two children and three operations. I have silvery-white hair and wear glasses. I am no longer slender and lanky like I was at 21. I have scars and wrinkles and droops. But am I self-conscious in front of Dear Hubby? Goodness no.  He's been here with me every step of the way, and I with him.  We don't see the physical changes so much...we see the richness and beauty of the life we've created together, for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren.

I don't want to share that with some interloper, some stranger, who comes along. What Dear Hubby and I have is something rare and precious and I don't see it ever being repeated with someone else.

We both have said we'll get a dog, tho.