Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sad Day - February 27, 2015

My mom died today.  It wasn't that we weren't expecting it, it just happened sooner than we thought it would.  She's in Heaven with her husbands, rejoicing at the feet of Jesus (now there's a picture for you!)  Fortunately, both of her husbands were a lot alike and I've always thought of them sitting around, trading military stories about Korea, up in Heaven.  Now she can sit with both of them, waiting on them hand and foot, like she did here when they were alive.  Laughing at their jokes, keeping the house spotless, watching whatever they wanted to watch on TV.  She definitely was devoted to each of them and they loved her dearly.  She was devastated when they died and really never recovered after losing her second husband, Richard, almost ten years ago.

My Dad, George (she and everyone else called him Ed) was totally devoted to her as well.  They made a good team.  I was fortunate to grow up in a home where I never had to worry about my parents divorcing.  They bickered but never seriously.  I always felt that Mom was in Dad's shadow but I didn't understand their relationship.  They were happy and content with their lives, and that was all they needed.  When Dad died, Mom was only 56 (5 years older than I am!) and she began the life of a single woman, unhappily.  She was incomplete without Dad but she managed.  I remember teaching her how to put gasoline in her car - we both cried through it! 

Years later, she met Richard, a neighbor who lived a few houses down from her.  I didn't know Richard very well, as I had married and moved away by then, but I do know he was devoted to her and our family.  They were happy, traveling a bit but mostly spending time together at home - my Mom's happiest place to be.  Richard totally accepted and loved me and my sisters, plus our families.  I was so happy for her, to have another husband to enjoy.  Richard had two grown children of his own and I count his daughter as another sister, as close as my own.  She and her daughters loved my Mom and we were happy to add them to our family.

My Mom was happiest when she had her family with her.  The house was full of daughters when I was growing up, and then full of friends of the daughters as we grew.  It was normal to always have company and everyone loved my Mom.  Some of my sisters friends would stop by, just to visit my parents, after my sisters moved away.

One's perception of one's parents tends to change as we grow (it should, anyway) and I certainly watched my Mom change over the years, learning from her as she handled whatever life handed her.  She was stronger than she let on, relying on God to see her through.  I know I learned about God from her at such a young age that I do not know life without God.  I learned to pray from her, and I know she prayed for her family.  I am grateful for all she taught me.  She turned 85 last Monday.  I hope I will continue to live my life in a way she would be pleased with.  She and I have had a terrific phone relationship for many years, since I moved away.  She always asked about my family and the last few years, always sent her love to them at the end of every conversation.  I spoke to her every day for the past year or so.  I will miss that.  I feel empty.  I am so glad she taught me the importance of devotion to family.  And how to do my taxes!  Many blessings will come to mind, I am certain, as I reflect on our relationship of 51 years.  Since her birthday was just a few days ago, I was able to send her a card, thanking her for all the things she's been to me.  I had a feeling it would be her last birthday, the Lord gave me that nudge.  I feel like I was able to convey my gratitude, I am so glad I had that opportunity.  And I talked to her yesterday, a short but nice conversation, ending with "I love you, Mom" and saying I'd call her later.  These are the things that one needs to remember, for comfort and peace of mind.  She is at rest.  I will miss her.

Thank you, Lord, for my Mom.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Twenty-Five Years

I was paying my credit card bill online August 5th when I decided to review my recent transactions.  Imagine my dismay when I saw a transaction for a local hotel dated August 2nd - and the realization that my credit card number had quite possibly been stolen!  I immediately called my card company and, nearly in tears, haltingly explained the situation.  Patrick, the young man who answered, was most helpful and proceeded to take care of the situation.  During our discussion, I had a sudden thought.  I said, "Oh ... tomorrow is my 25th wedding anniversary!"  Patrick said, "Ohhh."  I looked at my son, Chad, who was in the room and said, "Do you think your Dad did this?"  We all started laughing, and I went from being stressed to being overjoyed - what a roller coaster!  Patrick called the hotel and spoke to reservations.  Sure enough, Todd did it, making reservations for the night of the 6th.  Patrick thought it was really great and wished us a happy anniversary.  I thanked him profusely for his time and effort.  I was so thrilled it wasn't a false charge to my card and totally surprised and pleased that Todd planned this for our special day.  I was concerned that I would have to tell him that I found out because, as far as I knew, our current credit card wouldn't work since the first thing they do is cancel that number and send out a new card in fraud cases.  I wasn't entirely certain about this as I had been rather dazzled by the whole incident.  Anyway, later that night at dinner, Todd told me about the hotel plans and I guess I didn't fool him, he could tell I knew something was up.  He thought maybe the hotel had sent an email to confirm the reservation.  I told him the whole story and he found it amusing.  I did stress how surprised I was when I first found out - I really was!  He was pleased with himself and didn't mind how the situation worked out.

We left around 4:00 pm, drove down the coast to the hotel (in a resort town 25 miles south of us) and settled in.  It was a boutique hotel in an old historic building with a view of the beach and a major rock formation that this town is famous for.  It was really terrific.  The room was nicely decorated (even to my husband's sharp eye for design!) and had a separate room the held just a stand-alone bathtub.  Such a great idea, I'd like to incorporate that design in our home - a room with just a tub and a heated towel bar.  We looked out the window and saw that a restaurant we had eaten at before was within walking distance.  We ate outdoors, watching the sunset.  The weather was perfect - warm with no wind!  Wind is such the norm here - it was definitely God's hand keeping it still.  We walked on the beach until sundown.  Picked up coffee on our way back to the room and turned on the gas fireplace.  Another design element I want in our house - a gas fireplace that turns on with the flip of a switch.  No firewood (speaking of which, it's that time of year again, to place our wood order)!  Made good use of that bathtub.  Relaxed for the first time in who-knows how long.  Stayed awake for a long time, listening to the waves.  An awesome evening.  Breakfast was in the cafe attached to the hotel, blueberry scones and yogurt was my choice, coffee and the front page (not too much news to spoil our day!)  We spent the morning visiting the art galleries and little shops that line this beautiful beach town.  Mid-week is a good time to go during the busy summer here.  We ate lunch in a small restaurant and visited with the waiter a bit.  We came into this particular place because Todd had installed a good deal of woodwork 20 years ago when he was first working as a cabinet builder.  Most of his work was still there, still in good shape.  I remembered this job because one night, he had to work late there and I went to be with him.  We were there until 2:00 a.m., headed back home and got up early the next day to go to work.  Those were the days, young, energetic and no children!  It was so fun, sitting there and reminiscing about that time.  I forgot to mention that the restaurant we ate at the night before had a lot of Todd's woodwork in it also.  His work is all over this resort town, both in residences, second homes and commercial establishments.  He was (and still is in some circles) well-known for his woodworking talent. I've always been proud of him, whatever career he has had.  Now as a nurse, he is known and liked by his patients.  Everywhere we go, people stop and talk to him and I'll ask later "Was that a patient?"  One reason I married him - I knew a good thing when I saw it.

We had checked in with the kids several times the night before and also the next day.  They were fine and it was such a blessing to know I can trust these kids completely.  They had never spent the night without one of us there - never!  This was the first time Todd and I had gone away for the night since a few months before Chad was born, 18 years ago!  It was so nice to be able to relax and know that the kids were o.k.  I prayed for God to keep them safe and really, I didn't worry about them at all.  They made their own dinner as well (a first!)  We got home in the afternoon, staying away less than 24 hours but it seemed a lot longer than that.  It was so fun to just be with my husband again, without my attention being divided.  I love my kids, of course, but I also love my husband and really enjoyed being together.  I can't wait for the next time we can go out alone!  I made sure I thanked my kids for being trustworthy and reliable.  They were very glad we were home, especially Carmen.  It was good to see them, too!

Thanks, Todd, for a terrific 25th wedding anniversary!  It was so fun, what a great surprise!  He apologized for not getting me a card - who needs a card?!  His surprise was one of the best gifts he's ever given me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me

I turned 50 on May 8th.  That was easier to type than I thought it would be.  My husband spent the days between my birthday and Mother's Day doing dishes and laundry for me (he took a few days off of work - just for me!)  My family took me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, which is spendy so it remains a once or twice a year thing.  We had a terrific time and I'm so thankful for each of them.  I am so blessed.

Mother's Day was very nice as well.  Todd made blueberry pancakes and presented me with a platter of pancakes shaped into the word "MOM" - very clever.  I got cards from everyone and then I was lead out into the front yard, where a magnolia tree stood waiting for me.  I had been admiring the few magnolia trees in our area and Todd thought I'd like one on our property.  I was so surprised and pleased!  Can't wait to get it planted.  Again, I feel so blessed to have this family.  Thank you, Lord!

Happy Birthday to all the May birthdays that I know are out there!  It's a great month to celebrate.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

He Won!

Happy news!  Chad was one of three winners of the essay contest he entered!  His was a 30-page essay on Palestine and Israel, failed attempts at peace, the players, and so forth.  Each winner will receive a nice cash prize.  We are so happy for him and very proud of his work.  I am still so amazed at his continued good fortune at this community college.  It's been a good fit for him and I am thankful.  Chad definitely has a talent for writing - hopefully it will serve him well in whatever field he chooses to pursue.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

First Blog for 2013

Spring is here!  Spring break for Chad.  He's had a very good year at college so far.  Todd has spent many weekend hours on the largest of the concrete counter tops for the kitchen which we finally put in place last weekend.  (Oh, yes, remember the kitchen remodel, a work-in-progress.)  It's beautiful and I'll put up a photo when I can.  Time has slipped by so fast since last fall.  Not much time to blog (obviously).  So nice to have warmer days finally, will help us get through all the rainy days to come.  Chad has entered an essay contest at the college, at the suggestion of his writing teacher.  It would be cool if he won!  I hope to blog again soon, especially if I'm inspired to write something more than an update!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Post-Election Post 2012

With the election over (finally!) things seem relatively quiet around here.  We spent so much time talking about everything related to the presidential vote, as well as state and local elections and measures.  When the big night arrived, I traced a map of the U.S. from one of those educational placemats we have (those are such terrific reference tools) and gave it to Carmen.  While I cooked dinner, everyone sat in the kitchen by the radio and, from 4:30 on, we listened to the election coverage.  When the polls finally began closing and each state's results were announced by NPR (National Public Radio), we wrote it down and Carmen colored each state the appropriate color (blue for Obama, red for Romney).  It was a loud, tiring, exciting and, finally, melancholy evening.  By 9:30, we were done and turned off the radio.  We missed Mr. Romney's speech but that's o.k.  I heard some of it the next day.  Anyway, we learned a lot and had a great time.  Todd was done by 7:00 and went off to watch Star Trek.  The kids and I stuck it out and I think Carmen wanted to stay at it until the Florida polls closed, bless her heart.  We used the Internet to find out what the radio didn't provide.  All in all, it was a good evening, another historical event and a great way to get the kids interested in politics.

We have a child in our family with political aspirations and I want to do all we can to encourage it.  I don't care if they ever actually run for a position (although that would be cool!) but we need our young people to care about these things.  They are, after all, our future, however repetitive that may sound.  And when I get excited about something, they are more likely to join in.  What a blessing.  I just found out that two teenagers in my husband's extended family are doing drugs, with all the family problems that causes.  That makes me all the more thankful for the relationships I have with my kids.  And thankful for the kids I have.

So, now, as we heard on the radio yesterday, we look forward to the 2016 election.  Who might run?  Chad and I had just talked about the head of the CIA this morning.  He had looked promising, we both surmised, but hearing tonight that he resigned has changed that (we won't go there in this post right now!)

Like Mr. Romney said he would do, we will (continue to) pray for our country and our leadership.  They need it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Change of Seasons (Reluctantly)

We spent two weeks getting Chad situated at the local college.  Two classes this time but it seemed to take forever before we were done.  And then, for the icing on the cake, we received a bill in the mail, saying we owed the tuition on one of the classes with a $50 late fee slapped on to boot!  It seems that when we registered for that class, the clerk forgot to run our credit card.  Fortunately, the staff I spoke to about it straightened everything out and waived the late fee.  We began our first day of school the last week of September and that has been going well, slow to start as I am still figuring out where we need to fill in gaps and order some new things.  But, really, right now I want to remember what my kids did this summer.

Chad and Alec each entered something at our county fair this year.  Chad entered a Lego creation and won first place in his age group.  I was very proud of him as he is not usually interested in this kind of thing and winning was icing on the cake.  Alec's creation was made out of recycled materials (which was the category he entered) and he won first place in his age group, then went on to win Reserve Champion.  He was beaten out of Grand Champion by a cookie jar-type object made completely our of deer bones (ugh!)  It was, um, interesting and the guy who won was nice and very happy to win.  Alec's creation was a diorama of the Titanic ship, showing it in its glory days on the water on one side and how it looks now, under water and covered in algae, including a mini sub floating nearby.  His diorama showed the ice berg with the damage it did just before the Titanic started to sink.  Creating miniatures is a hobby of Alec's and he's really very good.  His current interest in the Titanic has lasted all year and winning with this art project was really special.  I am proud of both boys.

Carmen sent in a caption for an elephant to say, as it was leaning on its hind legs against a tree.  The magazine, Nature Friend, was holding this contest and when Carmen came up with her caption, I told her to go ahead and send it in.  Weren't we all surprised when she was one of the five winners!  There it was, on the back cover of the magazine.  She was very, very happy and I, of course, was very proud and pleased for her.  Alec entered a drawing of his "Dream House" to a contest that Highlights magazine was having and we were all amazed that his was one of twelve chosen!  When I encourage my kids to enter contests, it's with the expectation that there are a lot of entries so winning is not probably, just possible.  What fun to see them both have something published!  I know how fun that is to see my words in print (however small an item!!) and I'm so thankful and pleased that they have had that opportunity (and, o.k., proud!)  What I take from this is that I need to encourage them in their writing/drawing skills, to continue to improve both for the fun and pleasure it brings but also perhaps to make a living at someday.