I was sitting at my roll top desk today, sorting, discarding and sometimes pausing to read someones note or card on my desk. I enjoyed a ”visit” from my Mother who’s letter was written back when she was about the age I am now. She was commenting on how much there is to do in old age to prepare for the inevitable. I imagined her writing the note as I nodded my head in agreement and smiled as I read it.
Then I looked at a note that was written to me about 40 years ago from a friend who had just sold our home for us. She had placed the ads from the paper in the note card along with a contract on the house. We had unknowingly used a realtor who was not happy in his career and when the contract ended he quit and went off to be a traveling gospel singer. 😐 We had already moved to another state and the story is too long to share here, but her husband built a “for sale” sign (for sale by owner) painted it and placed it in the front yard. Before the paint was dry a couple asked to see the house and bought it. I wasn’t even middle aged yet at that point. We were thrilled but did not see it for the miracle it was.
I picked up an envelope of pictures a good friend had sent to me from her sons wedding back in 2004. My intent was to mail them to her for the fun of invoking old memories but for one reason or another, never got it mailed. She recently passed away and now I have missed my opportunity to put a smile on her face with that package.
Mom passed away long ago, and so did my friends husband who painted the sign. As I sat there riffing through my address book I saw many lines drawn through names. I cannot bring myself to erase them, because every time I see a crossed off name I see them in my minds eye and I find myself saying “hello…I miss you”.
I can see now that growing old, should God decide this is my journey, will be one full of a long line of subtractions and it makes me so sad. For the average person, beginning on the day we are born, we are surrounded by a big welcome and a lot of love. From that point forward we keep adding people to our life from our neighborhood, our extended family, our school, and our church. Then we fall in love…and if we are blessed we add more people to our life!
But then the time eventually comes where the additions become subtractions. Our parents die, friends die, other family and acquaintances die. Our children get married and move into their adult life. Now in this case it isn’t a subtraction, rather it is an addition of offspring and a shared role. We slide over and let our adult children become the conductors of our family orchestra, because we are no longer the “Maestro”….the lead conductor!
My point in this piece is that life is Math! There are additions and subtractions and sometimes even some multiplications. That said, more and more subtractions occur as we enter old age. I think there is a whittling down of ego too. By the time it is our turn to pass to the other side of the veil, we are aware that we are merely one tiny piece of a whole, similar to how the grains of sand contribute to the existence of a beach. Every grain of sand is an integral part of the beach but no one grain of sand stands out as more important than the next to the creation of the whole. We come from God and go back to God and somewhere along the way we realize we have been a small part of the whole of creation!
I miss my loved ones so much…and I do recognize the blessing each and every one of them were to my life. Every single person has left their mark on me, a lesson I needed to learn. Someday, we will reunite and that sounds so good to me. They are a beautiful part of my past but it is in the present where I live.
I enjoyed my visits from my past today and when I was done, I responded to a call from my husband saying it was time to make dinner. As we were making dinner I realized that we were making memories right now for future recall. Memories are being made every moment of every day! Cherish these moments because at sometime, somewhere, someone will be picking up one of the notes we sent to them. They will read them imagining our face as they do. They will pause and bask in the memories our words on paper evoke. The words will bring our memory alive and as they remember us they will smile. Then, the phone will ring, we will vanish and back to the present they will return. Just like that!
I miss my loved ones, which makes me cherish those who are still here even more! God bless everyone past and present and future! What a blessing this life is even with all the twists and turns on the road of our journey. Thank you God for the opportunity. If earth is this beautiful, I really look forward to heaven where perfection reigns!
I am feeling very down today as my very good, longtime friend is being honored by her family and friends at her funeral up in Minnesota. She was very loved by most everyone who ever met her and I am sure her funeral is packed. Texas is a bit far to travel to Minnesota on such short notice, so I have told her daughter that my plan is to come up to Minnesota towards fall to take her and her brother out to dinner and have a night of sharing stories in memory of their Mother. I have so many!
She was the rare person who was an open book about her life and feelings. Because of this, people felt a kinship with her fairly quickly. In a world of superficiality and societies obsessive competition with the Jones’s, she had neither of these traits. I always marveled at her ability to be happy for others in whatever they achieved or owned. She never acted jealous or envious of anyone.
When I first met her, I was enchanted with her dark Italian looks. She was tiny and always immaculately dressed. Her hands were beautiful and always well groomed with lovely lacquered nails. She could have been a hand model. Actually, she could have been a model for the petite section of womens clothing with her sleek trim body. No matter what she wore, she enhanced the outfit, rather than the other way around.
She had a fabulous sense of humor and I loved watching her laugh as her face and arms became very animated when something tickled her funny bone. She was rarely without a smile in her face.
We met in our very early 20’s and stayed friends for over 50 years. Even as my husbands career forced us to move hither and yon, it never broke the bond. No matter how much time passed, we could pick up the phone and begin a conversation where we last left off.
She asked me and my husband to be the Godparents for her son and we were honored that she did. She was a good and caring Mother to her children and was very proud of them.
She became a roommate of mine early on. There were 4 of us who shared an apartment, and we all eventually moved to the lower half of a duplex before we got married. We met up one night to introduce each other to our dates and as we walked toward each other, the guys reached out to shake hands and were happy to reacquaint with one another. She and I looked at each other and started to laugh. What are the odds that they already knew each other? Small world!
We got engaged and married within months of each other, had our children in close proximity of birth, and always, always stayed in touch. Through the years we watched each others lives unfold and we shared many happy gatherings. We were always happy to see each other because it meant sharing, caring and laughter.
Now, suddenly, she is gone from my life. I know that she has graduated to a much more beautiful existence, and so to emulate Terri, I choose to be happy for her for where she is right now. But, I am NOT happy to lose her presence in my life.
She was the Ethel to my Lucy. We named each other years ago as we watched old episodes of the “I love Lucy” show in our little apartment. I got the title of Lucy because she saw me as being crazy and zany and as unpredictable as Lucy (in my younger years) Lol. She became Ethel by default. The point of our annointing was that we always found ourselves in crazy innocent predicaments and we always soldiered onward with each other. We were fast friends with an unbreakable bond.
She was never judgmental about people. She LOVED people and always looked for the best in them. She was extremely social as a person, far more social than this mildly social introvert (yours truly). I used to listen to her social schedule and would be amazed at her energy level. She loved having friends and they responded to this trait in her because she had more friends than I could ever hope to have. Yet, she carved out a niche for me in her heart and it was always open to me to step right on in.
Yes, I am sad today, and I have felt an overwhelming sense of loss since I first realized she wasn’t going to make it. I have lost other friends too through the years, each time a painful passage to go through. I realize as these friends leave earth that I am losing a piece of myself with each and every one of them! They take with them our mutual experiences that no one else knows. No one else has knowledge of that little shared part of my life like she did. So, once a person loses a loved one, we are never complete again. It is as if the completed puzzle picture of our life has a piece taken out of it with each exit. When you look at our puzzle picture, you get the general picture of who I am, but with pieces missing. The observer can only guess at what part of my existence was in that now empty spot.
Terri, I will never be the same without you. When you left, you didn’t just take one piece out of my puzzle picture, you took many, because we shared so much of life. If heaven has a reception room, I know that a circle has formed around you of loved ones who have missed you since their own departures. I can hear laughter in the air and can see your head thrown back in mirth as your animated gestures remind all of your Italian heritage. I envy that gathering that I am not a part of.
My wish is this…when it is my time to move on to the next life…I hope you are at the gate to greet me, usher me in and show me around. No doubt, we will not miss a beat as we dive into sharing what we each have been doing in our respective lives.
I love you Terri. You made such an impact in this life…especially to me! If possible, please keep in touch! ❤️
For me, life has been quiet for some time now…..Right now I can hear the clocks ticking as they mark time. No music is playing. No television or radio making a sound. I find it interesting how well my ears pick up every little sound. I can hear the lawn crew mowing grass outside and the occasional car driving by. I can hear birds singing in the distance. I hear the washing machine churning and swishing my clothes in the laundry room down the hall. I like this kind of environment. I like being a part of the daily hum drum of life. I like the quiet of everyday routine that makes up so much of my life.
We are now going into the third year of a Pandemic, though the critical nature of it seems to be waning. What this critical world event brought to me was a self awareness I haven’t had since childhood, because there was now so much time to fill at home away from others. When we were ordered into the lockdown, some people struggled with the restriction of staying home, but I found myself hunkering down and going about the business of reacquainting myself with ME….the “original” me, not the one who has long delivered to people their expectations of who I should be. I discarded the “me” who put so much thought into my speech and behavior for the comfort level of others. It wasn’t that I was being artificial, because that was a facet of me as well, but it was a learned one. That facet of me always felt obligated to step up to fit into society in a way that was considered the norm. So often, after fun filled parties and social gatherings we would come home and I would have a need to ”plug in” to restore all the energy expended while among so many people. “Plugging in” simply meant retreating back into the quiet and comfort of our home to rejuvenate.
Growing up I spent a lot of time reading. It was not unusual for me to go to the bookmobile and come back home with 9 or 10 books in my arms piled so high I could barely see past them. I read them all and brought them back in two weeks to gather some more. I spent many hours exploring the worlds created by the imagination and research of any given author. As I would read their stories, my mind was busy painting a picture of the characters involved and their surroundings, be it nature or architecture. I loved living in my headexploring the worlds laid out before me in the form of words in a book.
I also loved exploring the world around where I lived, whether it be laying on my back on the soft mossy earth beneath a fragrant canopy of tall pine trees, enjoying the view of the long slanted beams of sunlight, or wading barefoot in a lake or stream. I was often solitary in my pursuits because I liked going wherever the spirit moved me. Childhood was an excellent time in my life where we were surrounded by an abundance of relatives who lived nearby. The world was more innocent then and felt much safer. In fact, it never even occurred to our Mothers that harm could come to us as we roamed the woodlands with old logging trails, and swam in the rivers and lakes, not coming back home until our stomachs indicated it was time for supper. This is where I learned to be comfortable in my own company. I did have many cousins and local children with which to do childhood things and I enjoyed that as well. It was a well balanced life. We all ran the country side wild and free, and my favorite activity was swimming in a nearby lake.
Where I lived, it was an economically level playing field, meaning there was no competition or pecking order amongst the community members because we all lived the same kind of life. We had enough of everything but not an over-abundance of anything except for love….there was an abundance of that and plenty to go around.
I DO love people and relationships. I just don’t need a whole lot to fill my cup. One or two good solid friends have always been my preferred way of existence. It is wonderful communing with someone about life, having a special person with whom I can share my thoughts and feelings and have a friendly debate about our differences of opinions even as we stand in solidarity about other things. Yes, this is very nice!
The me that I rediscovered this past couple of years is far more open and fluid in my thoughts and actions and much more free in following my spirit’s desire. I don’t even think about it all that much. I put my spirit in the drivers seat and I go along for the ride. What an adventure it has been, though at times, quiet and pensive. I LIKE the child side of myself..the persona who lives free of expectations to perform in a certain way. I often invite my child to come out and play, to be authentic and realand free to BE who God intended her to be. She is happy to be herself in all her unique, awkward, uninhibited ways. I am far better off being an original than a poor copy of someone else.
My nature is a sensitive one which has been pointed out to me on occasion. People are generally much more impressed by the strong and practical type. “Don’t be so sensitive” they say, but I think to myself “thank you very much, but I like how I am.” I like my sensitivity. I admit being sensitive is sometimes the precursor to a wounded heart, but the good far outweighs the bad in the way I sense other peoples moods and how my heart always leans into the needs of others. This nature of sensitivity was part and parcel of who I was when I entered this world, and I figure if God made me this way, then there was a very good reason for my existence in the world as I am. Perhaps this is why I am happy in my own company.
I remain in a mode of self discovery and this morning I realized I haven’t written in quite a while. I have many home projects that are taking my time and attention these days and a courtyard full of plants and flowers that need a lot of extra watering during this unusually hot summer of skyrocketing temperatures. Summers are generally hot in the south, but this year seems to be a record breaker. When I go out there and spend time with my plants, I step out of the past (or future, depending on where my mind has taken me) and jump right back into the present. To live in the moment is the purest way of communing with God. I see God everywhere when I am outside. He is in the plants and the trees, the butterflies, the birds, the ants, the sunshine and the clouds. He is in the bright blue sky overhead and He is in the rain that helps me water my plant family. God is everywhere, but never so visible as he is in a garden of His creation!
Its a very good day today and I am glad I took a moment to jot down my thoughts. I remember a phrase I once heard quoted which was “me, myself and I” and it is a good one because we make a good team, we three! I think it is why I sometimes find myself thinking out loud. I often laugh when I realize I am talking to myself and then understand “the three that is me” gets a real kick out of these silly moments. By the way, it should be read as me, myself and I(am) because God is within me…the great “I AM”
O.k. God…I will meet you outside now in my garden as I usually do. I can hear you calling to me. It is time to put away my musings and make some plants very happy as I hydrate them.
Until another time then….and thank you, “I”, for listening.With love and appreciation,…..”me” ❤️🙏🏼
Life sometimes gifts us with friends who come along just when you need that particular kind of a person. I have been so blessed in my life by the right people at the right time. While I dearly love having friendships, and I am always open to more, I have never been the kind of person who needs to have a lot of friends in my life to keep me busy.. I am always attracted to the kind souls who find joy in day to day living. I am attracted to those who love to talk and share and emote! Often these friends become my teachers by offering their perspective on things. Perspective! This is the definitive word in all communication. I am drawn to the deep thinkers in this world because they have spent time in wonder and exploration of the world around them. It is fun to exchange thoughts and feelings with this type of person. Oh the paths we go down as we share our viewpoints on all that is.
To my empath friend….Dianne…..It takes one to know one and I am so glad our paths have crossed! You are such a joyful shining light, and yet, within, you are a deep thinking, ever evolving spirit. What impresses me most about you, is your willingness to search within, looking for ways to love better and BE better. If only more people understood that this journey in life should include an ongoing self modification. It sure would create for all of us a better world!
I wish I could have one more conversation with loved ones now gone. I wish I could tell them that only now do I understand the swiftness of the passing of time. I know that as we pray for the blessing of living a long life, we don’t really understand the complexity of what it is we are praying for. What age is old age anyway?
I imagine the younger generations may think the 50’s and 60’s are old, 70’s definitely old, and the 80’s well, they are just about ready for their dirt bed.
I have never felt old in the true sense of the word. Even as I type this, my spirit is ageless, of no particular age, and certainly NOT old. This is not a case of denial. It is simply not something I think about unless I read about the passing of a good friend, or a hospitalization of a contemporary, or when I visit a friend in a memory unit. Oh yes, this always gets my attention!
As I glance at my reflection in the mirror, I can see the passage of time. When one is young, we spend a leisurely amount of time in front of the mirror, primping and grooming and enjoying our reflection. These days, at most, the mirror only gets a glance. No point in reminding my youthful spirit of the aging body it resides in. My spirit looks outward into the world and as it does it takes on the energy of those who surround me. What older person does not enjoy being surrounded by young people where we can bask in their presence in all their vibrant energy?
I wonder how life would be if we did not mark time. Every year we celebrate our birthday and people sing and wish us well.
“Wow! You are 5! You get to go to school!”
“Yay! You are 16. You get to drive!”
“You are 21! You are an adult now so you can vote!”
And so it goes….and then we reach that birthday 62 or 65. Retirement! Who ever invented that word anyway? It was Del Webb during a Marketing Campaign back in the 60’s in Arizona. Previously, it was not uncommon for people to die in their 60’s not long after obtaining social security. Del Webb was intent on selling houses to the older generation and they needed a dream to sell along with them. They sold the dream of the “golden years” and golf going hand in hand! They were surprised by how well received their new concept was. People liked the idea of living in the golden years verses the olden years. A new type of community was hatched.
Some of us get to blow out 70 candles! Even in our own minds, we can no longer fool ourselves into thinking that we are still young and we cannot ignore the ticking of the clock.
When we hit 80 people may say, “Isn’t he/she amazing, still so active and ALERT? “ (Oh dear, that word alert!!)
The very few who hit their 90’s and are blessed to have loving family are applauded and fawned over and well tended like a flower in a greenhouse. Sadly, there are others who are among the invisible, left behind by most everyone they once knew due to moves, bad health or death. They are the ones who are called the survivors…the tough bunch who have miraculously survived life’s toughest challenges.
Memorial Day is actually a day set aside to honor our military who fought and died to defend our country. Through the years, people began to also honor their other loved ones who have passed as well. Remembering those we have loved and honoring them is a heartwarming experience and a good reminder that life has an ending here on earth and that we should make the most of each and every day.
Our parents graves are in the far north country of the U.S. and we live in the far south, so each year on Memorial Day, we have our own private memorial in our courtyard where we come out and sit and reflect on their lives and what they have meant to us. We miss them but we are happy they got to live long lives and then left the troubles of this world behind. It nice to know that they now live eternally in the most beautiful of places. There are certainly worse things than death in old age.
Our courtyard plantings were eviscerated by the dramatic and destructive 5 day snow and ice storm in February of 2021. Many of these plants behind our angel are replacements for what died. Even plants have an end game, but as I watch the new plants reach to the sky I am reminded that even as WE leave this earth, we too leave behind newly planted offspring who will grow to fill our place in this world. The wheel of life continues, no matter what!
I have been wading through boxes full of my journals. The sheer weight of those boxes told me that a lot of words were inside, so as I began to sift through it all, reading here and there, I realized that these letters and journals no longer serve me.
These are thoughts and feelings from a long ago person about long ago events. Writing has always served me well in allowing me to express and organize my thoughts, but I am a different person now, living in a different time. Just scanning the notes tells me how very different I am from that younger version of myself. I feel as if I have evolved and graduated to the next level.
My Mother used to love to write as well, and I understand why she did. Her later years were spent living far from her roots and at times she lived in other countries. She would feel a need to connect with home and writing provided this connection. Writing is very therapeutic and as one writes it feels as if it connects you to loved ones and to memories of other places and times. It makes us feel less alone on our journey and comforts our souls longing.
Mom is gone now, but I remember one day when she was old and we were having our daily visit on the phone. She shared with me that she had thrown out all of her journaling along with all of her saved letters. I gasped to hear it because I knew how much time she had invested in that particular exercise. I am sure I said something like “Oh NO! Why?”
Today, I know the answer to that question. I have come to the same intersection in life that she likely approached back then. Do I keep storing old journals that I have not looked at in years or should I toss them? I had to ponder it a while because we have moved many, many times and like an old pack mule, I brought them along each and every time. As I sit here and look at the sheer volume of writing, I recognize that to leave these things to our children would be leaving the burden of this choice to them. They will not have the time to read it all and even if they did, would they want to trade their time on earth reading about MY journey? They have their own journey to focus on, so I feel I am releasing them from a future dilemma of what to do with all these journals.
One might say, (as I did to my Mother), “what a waste!” (when imagining the journals getting tossed away to be hauled off to some landfill.) But, it wasn’t a waste at all. Writing served up a purpose in that moment in time when, for whatever reason, Mom or I chose to write. It gave each of us a means to express what was on our hearts and minds and a discovery of our true selves came to light in the process. It was time well spent. I will not spend time on these thoughts and words a second time, because I have new things to see and do and learn! My spirit cannot fly when weighted down by my past and earthly possessions . Someday I will fly away to some celestial shore and I will do this minus the weight I brought onto myself with the things of this world!
This last couple of years I have written frequently about our process of letting go and discarding things we do not use anymore. The letting go is an emotional, psychological and sentimental exercise as well as being physical. We all tend to cling to things that have memories attached to them, particularly if they belong to someone we love. I suppose it is because in keeping these things, we feel as if we have a small part of that person around us which gives us comfort.
Throughout this time of discarding things, I have carefully packed up items I knew our children would delight in having….Memories of times gone by…things I inherited from my Mother, Father and Grandparents were put into small boxes for them to unpack at a later date. But, I asked them first before I did so. No sense in foisting on our adult children something they do not want! Each one tells me what they are interested in and as always, each ones choices are as different from each other as they are.
I have already gifted some of my Mothers and Mother in laws things to our daughter who has them in her home where she can enjoy them now. She was given the choice of what she wanted and there were a few things she loved and asked for. It is fun to go and visit her and see these things when I am there. There are not many, because she did not want many, but what IS there, I enjoy, and so does she. She calls it the Ancestor Section which consists of an antique buffet of my Mothers on which sits a wedding lamp of ours and some photos of both sets of Grandparents plus a very few little collectibles. Not much, but enough.. Looking at these family things brings up all kinds of warm and happy memories of times gone by. I think the joy comes in the feeling of continuity of family through the generations.
Recently, we had our young neighbors over for breakfast in our courtyard as a gesture of farewell because they were moving the next morning to New York! They lived here in Texas for 5 years and now they were moving on. They are a young couple with a 14 year old daughter and as we sat and chatted with them, the subject of packing stuff for their move came up. She told me that they had packed the majority of their things themselves because the moving company rates were outrageous. She continued on to say that because she was a minimalist, the packing was not as bad as it could have been.
In our conversation, she began to talk about the differences between her Mother and her when it came to their homes. While she is a minimalist, her Mother is a collector of all things. She is not a hoarder, but she has a penchant for pretty collections which she can well afford as she is a Biochemical Engineer and her husband is an Attorney,
She laughingly talked of her parents attempt to downsize. Apparently, they had too many gardens to care for which became to much for them and she said they sold their home and bought another home that was the same size as their previous home but on a much smaller lot. She asked her Mother why they bought another big house since the adult children are all off living their own lives. Mother said, “Well, we want to have space for our children to come visit”. The daughter said ”But, no one comes to visit other than maybe once a year”. Mother said, “It doesn’t matter, I want people to be comfortable when they come to stay.”
She went on to lovingly mock her Mothers way of life and commented on how her Mother wanted to pass down a family heirloom tea set to her granddaughter who is the only grandchild on either side. Neither the granddaughter nor her daughter wanted it, but they finally took it begrudgingly at the insistence of Grandma. At this point of the conversation, Mother and daughter looked at each other and laughed.
I found myself shrinking inside to witness how some descendants of our generation see us and think of us. I felt sorry for her Mother because obviously her daughter doesn’t understand the mothers life story. She also did not have the intuition to simply be a gracious receiver of something Grandmother held dear. The “art” of gracious receiving did not exist here. Another thought flitted through my mind that many in our children’s generation do not seem sentimental about generations past. Many in the younger generation see things through a different lens than we did. We valued a loved ones material goods for sentimental reasons. So many of our descendants don’t feel that wayand I think it is because a lot of this generation in America were raised in a world of seeming abundance.
As she went on talking about her Moms expensive collections which require display cases and curios, I found myself thinking of my own collections acquired through the years…figurines, artists proofs and prints, lovely dishes… (she said “my Mom has TWO sets of dishes and silverware….can you even imagine that?”)
( Uh, yes…I actually can.) ( 🥰 Lol! )
Then she and her daughter laughed while shaking their heads at their Mother/Grandmothers folly. She proudly said, “I only buy what I need. No excess for me!”. Neither Mother or Daughter recognized the intention of love attached to a piece of history behind the family heirlooms being offered. They were simply seeing the gesture as something to avoid.
Now, I DO want to add that as I describe our conversation that day, it may make our neighbor seem insensitive or unkind. I do not believe she was intentionally meaning to be eitherone.. She was simply and candidly expressing her thoughts and fortunately her Mother wasn’t here to hear it. She was expressing how she felt and it helped clarify to me how my generation may be seen through the eyes of the next generation. Ouch! 🙂
Heirlooms? These were things we once coveted when WE were young and first married. Beautiful antique furniture and home goods were a much desired acquisition in those days. But, in those days, there were still a fair amount of women who were housewives, raising their children while their husband put in long hours to support the family. Because she spent so much time at home, a woman enjoyed feathering her nest, so to speak. Most women are nesters of one form or another. We are a product of the era we grew up in and it all seemed perfectly normal at the time.
In the course of our long drawn out exercise of seeking the “Less is more” lifestyle, I have seen first hand the accumulation of what nearly 50 years of marriage brings about. In our case, we have moved a LOT of times which allowed for some discarding of certain things along the way, so while we are not buried in stuff, we still have much more than we need.
What I have discovered is that material goods hold very little value anymore because there is so much excess in the world we live in. The thrift shop in our small community built a much larger building about a year ago and it is already FULL of peoples cast offs. The cast offs in this area are very good quality because we live in a city in constant transition with people moving in and moving out all the time. One of the Managers of the store told my husband that they make about $100,000.00 a month in sales, which after paying their mortgage and utilities, ALL goes to local and city charities. All workers there are volunteers. This makes me feel good as we drive over with another load of things for them to sell, things we do not need anymore.
When I first started this project, I often felt overwhelmed as I sifted through years of goods that brought about memories. I was one of thoseMothers who really believed in what the Norman Rockwell paintings conveyed. This was what I dreamed about and hoped for. What I did not realize was how much times were changing and how those beautiful paintings were depictions of times gone by, not of what the future would present. My material possessions were always purchased with the intent of serving our family and friendsand creating memories. It was all innocently done with the best of intentions.
These days, we tend to gather more frequently as a family at our children’s homes where casual is the name of the day. We LOVE spending time with them at their homes where we can be the company versus serving as the Host, Hostess, Chef, Server and clean up crew. Yes! I like this new way of doing things.
If life were a banquet, I see us starting out as an appetizer followed by moving on to the soup and salad of childhood. Then we grow up right into the main course of adult and family living. When we grow old, it is then time to cleanse the palate before ingesting the next course. We clear away our things much as the hostess clearsthe table in preparation for the final course. Since we have enjoyed the many rich and varied flavors of the main course of life for so long, perhaps the final course will be a delectable dessert, a smaller and sweeter helping of lifeas we experience the completion of a banquet filled with so many sensory pleasures.
Well, enough reflections for the day. It is time to get back at the thinning out of worldly goods. It has been a rewarding exercise, allowing me to reminisce upon each item I handle while pondering its future. This ongoing project is being executed for the day I am brought home by the angels, where my children canwalk in, make quick work of what remains at our house and get on with their lives. I don’t want them to feel burdened by my worldly possessions. Until then, with every load to the thrift shop, my square footage grows along with my sense of peace that comes from simple living. This has been a extended time of counting my blessings! Less is more! Yes it is!
Grandpa died one month after his 71st birthday, leaving behind my grief stricken Grandma who had no clue how to proceed in her new solo life after all those many years of marriage. They had married at a young age and as time passed, they had six children with only three surviving past infancy. Two boys and a girl survived infancy and the girl was my Mother.
I remember my grandparents so well because as a child we spent a lot of time at their house. My Mother was their only daughter and they treasured her existence. I think she would have been a little surprised to hear this because their Swedish ways were not naturally expressive. They did not tell you they loved you…They just assumed you should understand this as a fact. They also did not show their affection with impulsive hugs or any display of affection. They felt their love was best expressed by providing for their children, and they provided well.
As children, we loved going to their home and we felt a grandchild’s pride of ownership in their small one story home. They kept their house in pristine condition. The house exterior was white painted clapboard and the window frames were painted a soft green. The front of the house sported a covered porch where two rocking chairs sat facing the front lawn. Grandpa and Grandma would sit and watch local traffic buzz by on the small rural country road that ran by the front of their house. Their house sat on a corner property where their street intersected with the narrow country road. Because their home sat on a rise of land which overlooked the road, they had the perfect spot from which to “watch the world go by” as Grandma used to say. They had a number of flower beds fronting their property with large sweeping bands of color enhancing the view for people driving down the road past their place.
Both Grandpa and Grandma were born and raised in this small rural community and after they married, they remained and raised their children here as well. As a child, I enjoyed visiting them often and loved immersing myself into their quiet existence. They were very good Grandparents and despite their humble lifestyle, they were happy in their community and they enjoyed having easy access to their Grandchildren.
Many years passed by and then the unthinkable happened. Grandpa died before Gram. She was lost without him, so my Mother invited her to come and stay with us in town, which she did. She enjoyed living with her daughter and Granddaughters but began to miss her home of over 40 years, so my Mother drove her up to her home and dropped her off with arrangements to come back the following Saturday to pick her up.
That week in her home was very heartbreaking for Gram. The house no longer felt like home without Grandpa and she felt like a stranger in her own community. Friends had all become old and many had passed away. New people had moved in which made a lifelong community feel a little foreign to her.
The following Saturday, as my Mother turned into the driveway, she saw Gram standing outside, suitcase packed and on the ground beside her.. As Gram got into the car, Mom asked her how things had worked out for her and Grandma said “Well, when I decided I wanted to go back home for a visit, I assumed it would all be the same as I had left it. Instead, what I discovered is that our home is now just a house without your Father there!” As she spoke, she dabbed away at tears that had begun to trickle down her face.
My husbands parents owned a farm which sat on 80 acres of land. It was a beautiful place with wide sweeping views on which sat a large two story farmhouse with a long deep front porch overlooking the fields. There was a huge barn and various other buildings that held machinery, chickens, cows and corn, all of which were painted white. This group of buildings sat at the end of a long country lane surrounded by corn fields. They raised two children on this farm, a boy and a girl, and my husband was their first born and their son.
They were blessed with 6 Grandchildren who would often go and stay with them on the farm. The children enjoyed the wide open spaces and reveled in spending time with their cousins while exploring the interiors of many of the different buildings. They all ran and played as they crossed tall green pasture land and often returned looking like dirty little vagrant children. The more dirt, the better. They enjoyed biking down the long dirt driveway to the mailbox to gather mail. This mailbox sat alongside the gravel road that went past their farm property. Grandpa would take each of them for rides on his riding lawn mower and even let them steer! Now that was a great feeling of power to a younger child. How quickly all those years passed by, and sooner than one can imagine, the grandchildren were all grown up and had moved on into living busy lives of their own.
As their health began to decline, Grandpa made the decision to sell their farm. They held an auction on the Centennial farm where my husbands father was born and raised. They chose the things they would take with them to their small Senior apartment in town, and everything else was sold or donated that day. I still remember my Mother in law walking around the large circular drive, tears streaming down her face as grieved the loss of the contents of her home which held memories of a lifetime. So many things that had given her much joy through the years now sat on big trailer beds waiting to be sold. The sunlight was not nearly as kind to the appearance of their possessions as had been the soft interior lighting inside the old farmhouse. My heart broke along with hers as I watched her linger in front of things she had collected and cherished over the years. I know the loss of her home felt like a death to her.
Time passed again and some years later, Grandpa died. With the passing of Grandpa, Grandma’s dementia deepened and we were not even sure if she was aware of the loss of her husband. 6 months later, her two children and I sat at her bedside knowing her life was coming to an end. Her daughter sat on one side of her bed and my husband and I sat on the other side and as we were casually conversing, we heard her breathing change. We stopped talking and watched a smile appear on her face. Her expression kept changing and the smile grew broader until she took her last breath. We had no doubt that she was greeted and welcomed to her eternal home.
Around the same time that my husbands parents sold their farm, my parents were having their own aging struggles. My Dad had a stroke not long after he retired which he seemed to recover from fairly well. He was dealing with macular degeneration so his eyesight was impaired.. Mom now had to drive and as time passed, he suffered little mini strokes which contributed to a cognitive decline. They put their house on the market because their bedrooms and bathroom were all upstairs and he could no longer manage the stairs. Here, too, I watched a lifetime of accumulation gathered up and put out to be sold or donated.
These Grandparents were the ones who always arranged fishing trips to Canada for the whole family. We were always eager to be part of this trip every time he made plans and we formed a caravan of 5 vehicles each time we made the trip. Those were such fun days for all involved and one year, my Dad caught “the big one”! It was a 35 pound trout and as he pulled into the dock area there was much excitement and chatter about his good fortune. To this day, memories of these fishing trips are among the most treasured of the grandchildren.
These Grandparents introduced to the larger family a card game named “Peruvian Rummy“, a game they learned while living in South America. The game caught on immediately and was a tool for all of us to interact and bond during friendly competition. There were many, many nights of endless rounds of Rummy as we each focused on becoming the winner of the game.
I also remember Grandpa taking the kids skiing in the northern snowy woods by pulling them behind his truck using a water ski rope. They swished and swooped down old logging trails in the same fashion as when one waterskis behind a boat. The kids enjoyed the feeling of the soft cold snow dusting their faces as it blew off the trees when they whizzed past the low hanging branches.
My parents graciously agreed to come and stay long periods of times at our house (almost as a second set of parents) to give a sense of continuity to our children when we would travel extensively with my husbands job.
But, just as with the others, time passed and it became apparent that they needed to make a location change to suit their new health conditions.
I remember the last day in their house before turning the keys over to the new owner. Mom and I were doing last minute touch ups to the cleaning and clearing out, and we each had a moment where we looked at each other with heart felt emotion. Our eyes locked in place as we felt the mutual sense of loss knowing that this was the final chapter in their home. We embraced each other, but neither of us said a word. There really is no comfort language available that one can use to say goodbye to a place which contained so many memories….memories of holidays and vacations spent there with three generations laughing, loving, socializing and bonding! We walked to the side door of the house and stepped outside. Mom locked the door and put the key in an envelope and slipped it under the door mat as was previously agreed with the new owner.
They, too, moved to a Senior Apartment and Dad died within a year and a half of that move. Mom lived alone following his death for an additional 11 years until one night, following a minor surgery, she too died.
As I age, I think about our parents and Grandparents more and more frequently and find that I have so many questions I would like to ask them now that would be pertinent to this time in our life.
I find myself remembering back in time to a day when it was my Mother in laws 72nd birthday. I was in my 30’s at the time and I impulsively asked this question.
“What’s it like to be 72, Verona?”
She looked at me for a minute and said, “Well, you know….when you are your age and you hear the number 72, it seems like it is a long, long way down the road! But when you are the one who is 72, you look back in time and realize it goes like this” (and she snapped her finger).
Each year when her birthday comes around, I look upwards toward heaven and say, “There went another one, Verona, just like that!” And I proceed to snap my finger.
Indeed, life passes faster than anyone can fully realize. For those of us who have been blessed to live into our golden years, we begin to see the fragility of life and how quickly it passes us by. I reflect a lot more these days on my past and all the people I have known and all experiences I have had along the way. What suited us in the early years in the way of a home or material goods does not necessarily suit us now, which is why I continue to send things out the door, back to the universe where someone else may find good use for whatever item I am relinquishing.
I try to stay focused on all that is good in the moment and count my blessings every day. My Mother in law was so right all those years ago when she said “looking back…..” As this thought passes through my consciousness, I snap my finger like she did.
Indeed! It surely does go by that fast! Savor the moment for no one knows how many they are going to get!
Interstate 35W is the route we usually take to our daughters in North Texas and as the years have gone on, the traffic just seems to get worse and worse. Many long haul truckers and semi’s are constantly whizzing by at 70+ mph with cars zig zagging in and out of the traffic trying to get ahead of these monster trucks. White knuckles grip the steering wheel and each year we feel our age more…or, perhaps these drives are what ages us?
We decided that there just must be a better way to go between our two homes so we started searching the maps of the countryside for roads that could take us home even if it took us a littler longer. Hubs found a route and we took it and now wonder why we had not checked this out sooner. We had good 4 lane roads with little traffic and NO semis, thank the good Lord! The countryside was dotted with live oak trees and cows, goats and sheep, so an entirely improved experience.
We happily drove along, sipping our latte’s and nibbling on our tiny scones…(everything has been reduced in size with increased cost of ingredients). This scone was easily only 1/3 the original size purchased previously. That is ok since our waistlines don’t need the calories, but the price stayed the same. It wasn’t until we got back in the car and looked into the scone bag when we realized how much we had overpaid. Lesson learned for sure!
It only took us 20 minutes longer to reach our destination and we felt the time was a good investment for our increased comfort. Soon we pulled into the driveway and after 6 weeks away, my heart did a little blip just to be on our own property. I walked through the front door to our courtyard and stood there with a dropped jaw looking in astonishment at what I saw. Covering everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, was a thick layer of pea green pollen. It was just a terrible sight to be the first thing I saw on my arrival back home.
I let my husband unload the car and I went to work with the water hose and washed everything down with water. The porch was thick with green pollen dust so I methodically rinsed down everything in sight. This has been an exceptional year for pollen but I have never seen it to this extent before! I spent 2 hours hosing and rinsing, moving furniture where needed, and also watering plants along the way.
Once done, it looked welcoming and I felt less stressed…though I felt somewhat emotionally disoriented. After 6 weeks away…it feels surreal and even foreign to be back here. So, I began a walkabout looking at my plants of which many were newly planted a year ago to replace the devastation left behind by our freak February snow and ice storm.
Here stands my newly planted dogwood tree. it is just a baby, yet it put on a show for me. The blossoms are a delight!
I continued along the path and a couple of my cactus caught my eye. I love these little guys who take so little care but offer so much joy!
Further along I spy a few of my perennials blooming…
My purple smoke bush…newly planted last year…
Then I sit down in our swing and turn to look at our fountain!
My pump in the picture below brings back childhood memories of one child pouring water in the pump to prime it and the other child pumping the handle wildly up and down until finally, finally, the gusher erupts! Ahhh, cold water on a hot day! it was definitely worth the effort.
As I sit here, look who comes to visit and take a bath!
So, as I was typing this, my husband happened upon the scene with a freshly squeezed icy lemonade! I am feeling at home once again and ready to see what God has planned for us tomorrow! Home Sweet Home! It feels good to be back to the familiar!
It feels like spring today with warm sun and cool breezes.
Me contemplating this life I have been living….
Pies served daily ? Not so much. Love lives here? ALL THE TIME!
The grill is beckoning me….and my stomach is growling so off I go! I still love Texas no matter where in it I live! Praise and thanks to God for His powers of healing. Thanks also for the gift of life itself for ALL living things.
I am leaving for home tomorrow and after 6 weeks away, I have mixed feelings. Excitement and longing for my own nest is the greatest emotion, but right on the tail of this is regret and sadness to see this chapter come to a close.
Humans are perfectly imperfect, are we not? We can, on the one hand, feel great joy while at the very same time, we also feel a sense of melancholy. When God created us, He must have said “Let these beautiful beings be complex in every way for a greater learning experience”. The vast array of emotions we experience in our lifetime is unique to humans which creates a very rich, diverse experience.
What started as a health scare for our daughter, turned into a six week period of time where Mother and daughter came together in one place alone. There has been a whole gambit of emotions to be dealt with as our daughter chafed at living under the restrictions of no driving for three months. Her husband travels with his job, so they needed someone to stay with her and be her driver. We realize that we could have hired an Uber driver for her needs, but I felt she needed someone here for emotional support as she came to terms with yet another new health challenge. Before 2020, she was in excellent health and in the last two years, it has been one thing after the other. Not sure what is happening, but, since we have limited control we just pray and make the best of things.
I told her brother when he called that I thought she may be feeling smothered by having Mother around all the time. Thank goodness she could go to work three days a week to give her some breathing room. This left me in another persons home, in a strange town with nothing to do until my time came to drive. Hence, began the projects. I knew if I just sat around for 6 weeks (as if I were a houseplant) things could spiral downward in a hurry due to restlessness and frustration on both our parts.I asked permission first, received it, and then rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
In the beginning she and I cleaned out three full suburban loads of stuff collected from all the closets and cupboards and drove it all to Goodwill. After that, I asked her permission to paint things in need of refreshing and she granted the request. I began painting doors, walls and ceilings in the laundry room, guest bedroom and guest bathroom. While I was in action, I did quite well, but once I sat down at the end of the day, my body went into full body stiffness. It was so crazy. When I was in motion, I felt as I always have. When I stopped, it was like I was an old jalopy seizing up. What the heck is that all about?
I have decided that “what this is all about” are many lessons wrapped into one. The lessons are here in a broader sense of this time together. The physical aspect is only one part of it. Lets face it, I am not even middle aged anymore though my spirit just does not understand this. The reason my body rears up in anger is because the body and spirit no longer match. My spirit is young and my body is old…it is as simple as that. As my Dad used to say, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!”. haha! I always laughed when he said that, but it is clear to me now that he was not joking. It is true!
Miraculously though, as the weeks passed, my body got stronger and stronger. Climbing a ladder was easy peasy and painting a ceiling with a long handled roller with my head bent towards my back became second nature to me. I realized as the days passed that when “purpose” returned to my life, so did love of life itself. Humans are meant to have a purpose of one kind or another as long as we walk this earth, or we become stagnant and useless in our journey.
In some ways, my daughter and I together actually do resemble an old jalopy where early on in this journey we had the herky-jerky motion of one stepping on the accelerator at the same time as the other stepped on the brakes. She is no longer a child but I think she felt like one as I drove her to and from work much like I did when she was in junior high school. She hated it and was vocal about it. As time moved forward, she got used to it and realized she could see an end in sight. On my end, I have always been a person who burned the midnight oil. I have always been a night owl, and because of this habit, I enjoyed sleeping in a little bit in the mornings. Now I was on a new schedule of getting up at 5:30 a.m. and once again, my old body rebelled, but “spirit” firmly put it in its place. This was our new temporary life and “body” may just as well decide to adjust! So there!
I just graduated with an “honorary masters degree” in the mastering of keeping my opinions to myself. Oh boy, there were so many moments when I wanted to play the “Mother knows best” role, but I knew it was actually best to not go there. Daughter was suffering so many emotions and adjustments, she did not need to have a manager mother around on top of everything else.
During this time, I learned what it would feel like to be a solitary older Mother living with her adult child and it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory when viewed in this fashion. I missed my partner so much. I realize that after nearly 50 years, we are no longer separate human beings. Somewhere along the way we fused and became ONE, so living without the other speaks to what life would be like living as a HALF rather than as a whole. I doubt a person ever feels whole again after such a loss. I only got a peek into this, and the thought of it nearly broke my heart. It makes me feel grief for my friends who have had to continue their journey in life as a half. In truth, we are ALL whole and complete unto ourselves and I do not mean to imply otherwise. I only mean that it “feels” as if we are not whole until life kicks in and we can find our true solitary identity once again.
She and I have had our ups as well as our downs. We have had some words, both positive and negative. We have shared tears and then great joy and laughter. In the end, we came together very well and I feel blessed for having had this once in a lifetime opportunity for a Mother and Daughter to be alone together in one house for 6 weeks. In the back of our mind we knew it was not a permanent situation, which I am sure helped with the adjustment on both accounts.
She says she has finally figured me out! haha! Well good luck with that thought, daughter dear, because my own Mother died never having done so. She used to scratch her head in bewilderment with some of my thoughts and actions. I think the same will be true with my daughter as well when she reflects on me after I have left this earth. Truth be told I haven’t even figured me out. I don’t understand even half the thoughts and feelings that percolate through my mind on any given day. I am old enough to know that we are not really meant to figure out everyone and everything. Sometimes we just go with whatever happens and let our spirit take over. Go with the flow as they say because our lessons are happening all the time.
As for my understanding of my daughter, I am leaving with happy thoughts. I leave with the knowledge that she is not nearly as sensitive as I am which will save her a lot of grief in this world. I used to worry about her feeling lonely as her husband is away often with his career. I realize now that she is very independent and has many friends to talk with to keep her company. She is just fine in this regard. Her love of her dog has seeped into my being and now I love Lil Nugget too. Six weeks of me and Nugget spending countless hours together while A is at work has created a human/canine bond that did not exist before. I was never one who had to have a dog in the home although we did when the kids were young. When Max was brought home as a puppy, he had to follow strict rules. NO getting on the furniture was ever allowed and that especially meant no sleeping with a dog in our bed. This little dog sleeps with A and G. Nugget also likes to curl up on the sofa or chair to sleep. This is allowed in their house rule book. After 6 weeks she sometimes chooses me over A and snuggles up next to me on the sofa. It has become so second nature these days, I find myself absentmindedly petting her as I read my email and she just presses herself against me and burrows deeper into slumber. I have to say, I have grown to love our little grand dog, and it is just fine that she is on the sofa, which is proof of everyday miracles when it comes to me.
Thank you God for this time together of one older Mother and her almost middle aged daughter. (Seriously, can these ages really be so?) Despite the continuous daily adjustment of one human with another, in the end we came together with a new appreciation of each other. Mothers and daughters are a part of Gods lessons to us in understanding that one can love another person even if their personalities are mirror opposites of one another. Where one is weak, the other is strong and therefore, if we are open to it, we learn to hone our life skills through another human being.. I doubt this kind of arrangement will ever happen again, and I am delighted to have experienced it. No matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what is happening at the time, it is likely not a permanent situation. With life comes change so I find comfort in what my Mother used to say in response to their frequent career moves. She would say, “No matter where I go, there I am!”. haha! It still makes me laugh. Yes, indeed, no matter where I go, “there I am!”. Hence, in life’s ever present sea of change, we find the familiar which consists of me, myself and I.
It’s morning again….and this time I am sitting in “the office” as my daughter calls it, which consists of me sitting on her sofa in the living room. I am hunkered down in the corner of the sofa closest to her big living room window which looks out on the street.
I am tired today and my muscles are sore from painting her laundry room yesterday while she was at work. It is not easy to paint a small space with big appliances. I was in various contorted positions…up on a ladder, to edge paint along the ceiling, then I was bent over at the waist, squashed between the washer and dryer trying to paint the wall behind them. I had to move both machines back and forth as I painted just to finish the wall. I had no trouble doing any of this….but man oh man, am I paying for it today! I have muscles I didn’t know I had and they are in protest of yesterdays activity. But, I feel satisfied, none the less, for having a beautifully painted room to present to my daughter when she got home.
Why am I doing all these projects? Because I can’t imagine just sitting here day after day for 6 whole weeks. I need to have a purpose and she and her husband are the beneficiary of that same purpose.
Its the work ethic I grew up with. Idle hands were often put to work if you could not find something to do, so we learned quickly to choose for ourselvess. This work I am creating for myself is good for me if sore muscles are any indication. It means that I am using muscles that have been dormant for far too long.
I have been busy the entire time I have been here, always asking permission before each project. Today, I paint the guest bathroom. Why not? Neither my daughter or husband have a lot of spare time for extended projects. Hence they have free labor at their disposal. Our daughter is very pleased and said “MOM! You are a machine!”. I have heard that before!
This writing was put aside as I ventured into more projects including painting the guest bathroom and bedroom, which were, thankfully, the last of the paint projects. All physical work was offered and accepted. Now they have three fully refreshed painted rooms. I also worked outside in the backyard filling pots with flowers which of course is my first love…Being outside in the garden is good for the soul!
It has been an interesting experience living in our daughters house for so long. We are both learning to co-exist in a respectful fashion towards one another. In some ways she and I are much alike, but in other ways we are very, very different. For starters, we come together from two generations which the span from one generation to the next in this day and age is HUGE.
Our preferences are often different. Music is a big one. I love soft flowing music and she loves faster louder music. I love routine from day to day and she flies by the seat of her pants as they used to say. I love deep philosophical discussions whereas she communicates in sound bites. The good thing about being together for 6 weeks is that when one is with a “soundbite” conversationalist, you need a lot time to piece together their thoughts to understand how they think. I have learned a lot about my daughter and most of it is good.
My husband is coming to pick me up to bring me back home for Easter dinner with our son and wife who lives in the same city as we do. We have reservations at a restaurant late afternoon and I look forward to the lively conversation and really look forward to being waited upon. Oh yes, there is that side of me as well. ”Waiter, oh waiter! “ ha! ha!
Time just keeps moving along bringing to me one new adventure and lesson after another. The biggest lesson this time is understanding how very independent our daughter is. She doesn’t really “Mommy” anymore, but she does love and enjoy her Mother/Friend. Her Mother enjoys her back. She is a powerhouse full of confidence and resolve. No one will ever take her down in life. If we were turtles, she would be the one with the shell, and I am the one minus the shell…She has a sensitive side as well, but it is protected with the armor of youth. I am sensitive which some may consider a weakness, but I think of it as a strength. Where we are weak we are strong, or at least we learn to be. Strength with a sensitivity towards others has its place and is needed in this fast paced society of people too busy to ponder the life of another.
My daughter is home today and she keeps asking me if I am o.k. (no doubt because I am so quiet) I am just tired and today is my day to do nothing but read and write and relax. Our projects are all done and she said she felt that these projects have contributed to a stronger bond between us. I am glad to hear this. A health scare on her part brought me here in the first place and has kept me here for 6 weeks. She is doing great and her husband soon comes home from his traveling career. He will be here for her for the next 6 months and then in 6 weeks time she is free to drive to her hearts content. She will be THRILLED!
I am lonesome for my husband….I have never been away from him for so long, although he did come here for a couple of days two weeks ago. It has been a good and rewarding time, but I am now like a birdie ready to leave someone else’s nest! Fly birdie fly. She flew out of our nest 25 years ago and now I am flying out of hers. I can relate to the euphoria she must have felt back then.
I look forward to wandering around my own gardens, sitting on my own sofa and sleeping in my own bed. I look forward to going back to a contemplative life full of books and flowers and conversation with my other half, my very favorite person in the world! It is with him where I belong, where I will live out my natural life. I was so blessed to meet him so many years ago! I am so blessed to still have him in my life.
Life….It has been a privilege to have had this journey. I look forward to many new adventures!
It is early morning and I am sitting in the middle of a large sectional sofa with my feet propped up on a large ottoman that sits in front of it. I am behind closed doors in the Den of my daughters house and she is still sleeping. It is very quiet!
I feel unsettled in the aftermath of a bad dream where I was in search of home but could not seem to find it. In my dream, I did not know where my home was, and while I was feverishly in search of it, my panic seemed to grow. Where, oh where is my home?
I woke up and rolled onto my back in the dark room trying to reorient myself. I laid there and watched the fan spinning overhead with the chain below wobbling in the breeze. Somehow, its hum was comforting. Oh yes…now I remember, I am at our daughters home for an extended stay and MY home of 25 years is being watched over by my husband. He was just here for a few days and left for home yesterday.
I try to shake off the emotions from the dream so I get up, pad off to the kitchen and make a strong cup of freshly brewed coffee. Mmmmm! Now THIS is the beginning of my usual daily routine and I begin to settle into reality. Its been three weeks I have been here and I have three weeks to go. I have never been away from my husband AND home simultaneously for this long before and there are times when I feel as if I am in a free fall. Our daughter had a health scare which required I be here as her driver for a while and I am half way through the six weeks needed.
Our daughter has been very gracious to me and I am grateful. She even dotes on me from time to time, sliding unto the sofa next to me and slipping her arm through mine as she speaks loving thoughts about our relationship. Those times are savored and I tuck them away in my memory bank to take out on another day when my spirit is sagging for one reason or another. There are other days where something I say makes her bristle but she is careful to not retort back. Goodness! Two women in one house for an extended period of time is obviously a lesson on give and take, but, overall, we are doing very well and the lessons on boundaries and space are invaluable.
Growing old is not for the faint of heart. I feel proud of the independent and strong spirits of our children. None of them are dependent on us in any way, so I guess you could say we did well on our parenting report card. The other side of it is, they are in their prime of life working, some raising families, all chasing that American dream which means they are very busy. Though I know I am loved and welcome here, I also know I do not belong here in a permanent sense. There is nothing I would not do for my children, but I am learning to ask first.
As we continue to add years to our life we look around at all the things we once thought we just had to have. Oh, what joy we felt as we brought our new little trinkets home. I remember when we purchased our first brand new sofa and matching chair. I was so excited about the purchase, I would first sit in the chair to look at the sofa and then sit on the sofa to look at the chair. I was so thrilled! Those years were the building years. We were building a life together and furnishing our newly purchased nest. To think I actually thought this sofa beautiful! It speaks loudly to the influence of good marketing snd inexpensive goods.
So now what? There has been a lot written about simplifying ones life and the articles make it sound liberating and freeing to the soul. Sounds good, and after all, a shroud does not have pockets, as they say. I have no trouble discarding things, but I do have a hard time discarding the memories these things bring about. As my daughter and I were bringing things from her house to the thrift store, I was her champion! “Good girl! YOU GO girl! I am so proud of you daughter dear!“.
That is, UNTIL she put what was once MY beautiful crystal wine glasses in a box to ship off. They are a very delicate shade of pink etched crystal bought to compliment the pure white china upon which a single delicate pink rose graced the side of the plate. The water goblets, too, were selected with such care and precision almost 50 years ago. They represent to me our beginnings…the beginning of our marriage and our life together. It was ok to see Grandmas stuff go out the door, for she is in heaven walking golden paths that pass by crystal cathedrals, but I am still here! I quickly grabbed the crystal and said I would bring them home. So, we put them in a box and sent them back with my husband. Foolish….just FOOLISH thinking on my part, because honestly, will I ever use them again? Doubtful! Our children are informal people. It is a whole new world out there and what they see as old-world stuff doesn’t fit into this lifestyle, and don’t even think of leaving them anything that needs to be polished regularly!
I am ready to let go…I am ready to let go….I am ready to let go!
Easier said than done. I KNOW this is a lesson in life made just for me! I felt such joy building our life together and feathering our nest. Each item was selected with the idea of creating my own personal Norman Rockwell painting. Surely those people on the cover of Saturday Evening Post are US, are they not? They’re NOT? What? That was all just fiction in the imagination of the painter? Just an imaginary family picture on a magazine cover? Well, now. That’s a jolt!
I think that many women growing up in my generation saw too many idealized movies and t.v. shows depicting this type of a lifestyle and we sought to emulate it, because it appealed to us. We also witnessed our grandmothers setting a nice table with an ironed tablecloth and lovely dishes for the holidays. I remember those long ago commercials with high heeled housewives vacuuming the new carpet in their house. They wore pretty ruffled aprons, and looked ready for a date when the kids came home from school. Well, I certainly never wore high heels around the house to do my cleaning, nor did I ever wear an apron, and don’t even ask the kids what I must have looked like, but I sure loved setting a beautiful table for special occasions. I thought I was teaching our children about the “finer” things in life, yet these days very few of our children’s generation want any of that type of dinnerware, nor those type of complicated dinners that created heaping piles of dishes. Those days are gone.
I imagine God smiling indulgently as we finally grasp the amount of money and time spent on things that just simply do not matter. Our kids have their own way of doing things and it is different from us. I guess I will just cut a larger swath through my home and cabinets and closets when I get back to my nest and send more out the door. It rocks my boat to say goodbye to the representation of a life well lived, but one has to step out of the past and join loved ones in the here and now.
I am trying to remember the name of a movie where in a scene towards the end, an older Jessica Tandy was sitting on her suitcase in the middle of a small town intersection. She was looking for her house and I remember how that scene stole my heart as she realized the house was gone or maybe boarded up. Jessica Tandy was one of my all time favorite actresses and oh how I loved her scratchy emotion filled voice. I wonder if it was “Driving Miss Daisy”? Or, was it “Fried Green Tomatoes”? Both movies were excellent, and more so because she starred in both. I just found it..It was ”Fried Green Tomatoes” but will leave in both references if you are looking for a great older movie to watch.
Well, anyway, the movie was about a woman who was moving forward towards the end of her life, being faced with some difficult unavoidable changes to her living arrangements and she did it with grace. I am not that kind of old age yet, but God willing it is not all that much farther down the pike as they say. Time….it has a way of rolling up life’s carpet behind us as we walk our journey. There is no going back and so one may as well embrace the change as we move forward. I will try my best, but I suspect that my embrace will have white knuckled clenched fists as I work through it. Lol! Relax, M’am, relax!
For what it is worth….I love my daughter for so many reasons and in so many ways. If the world had more people like her in it, there would be NO wars! ❤️
How quickly we go from the height of our strength, health and beauty to joining the club of the aged. Well, wine is better when its aged and so is cheese, right? Hopefully, so are humans…at least to their loved ones. Where did time go? How did it pass by so fast?
About 3 weeks ago we got a call from our son in law to tell us our daughter was in the hospital again and this time for a 7 minute seizure. At the end of the day, and at the end of all the tests, they could not find any cause. There are a number of possible reasons but nothing conclusive.
Before the pandemic hit, this girl was healthy, but since 2020 its been one thing after the other and not all of them related. Right now, since the seizure, she appears in tip top shape. She is back at work and the reason I am still here is because after a seizure, state law dictates no driving for three months. So I am her personal chauffer. Her husband travels a lot with his career, and he will be home for Easter and will be working from home after that. Then I will go home.
This 6 weeks has been a bit of a gift in a world of constant movement. Everyone is SO busy. Everyone is TOO busy. We rush here and we rush there, always on the move. Now, I am in a quiet zone of non busy and in a zone of just Mother and Daughter. We have had our moments of adjustment, but as time ticks by, we are developing a rhythm to this new temporary life. She had a difficult time at first, losing control of her health, losing her freedom to drive here and there, and having someone being injected into her home and life because of state laws concerning driving.
We have done very well and have filled the time deleting “Stuff” from her closets on her days off from the ICU, and as we have gone along, she gets more and more motivated to get rid of even more stuff no longer serving its original purpose. Slowly, closets are opening up, and the house seems bigger. I think the poor girl felt like she could never get rid of things that parents and grandparents have given her, and once I gave her permission to donate things, her enthusiasm escalated along with her joy.
We are two different generations coming together and discovering how different we are in our tastes of the material things we value and lifestyles. Times have changed and it is important to give our adult children permission to carve out a whole different identity from our own. We packed the Traverse suburban completely full two times (almost ready for the third trip) and off to Goodwill we went. Out went Grandmas china and crystal, out went gifts long ago received, out went all sorts of household stuff no longer necessary to her life. Maybe they were never necessary, but she was too polite to decline.
I told her about when my Mother died how I chose to not take anything of hers home with me other than a tapestry purse she always carried with a chiffon scarf inside that she always wore when it was cool outside. I did not need anything to remind me of my Mother. She was and still is as present and clear in my mind and heart as she ever was. We had a deep love and respect for each other, and now my daughter and I are building the same kind of relationship.
I will miss her when I go home and I sure hope she will miss me. I think she will. I know she will. In my mind, she is still that little girl in a picture of our family from long ago. In my presence she is a strong, independent 43 year old for whom I prayed and prayed when I was pregnant with her. “Please God, give me a girl”, I prayed over and over. When she was born, I was beyond thrilled. Now, 43 years later, I am still thrilled. God is good!
Have you ever found yourself pondering your life and how the people you have encountered along the way came to be walking the same path as you at the same time?
Through the years I have done this type of assessment a lot. How was it that I was born at the time and place I arrived? Why was I born into my particular family? Why was I born into an area of the world so different from the places where millions of others presented themselves? I always pondered these questions as I learned about the world around me, knowing that somewhere on the other side of the world there were people born into abject poverty or into a place where fear was rampant due to the criminal element that surrounded them. The same is true when I pondered those born into royal bloodlines and extreme wealth. How did this all come to be our reality? As for me, I think I was very lucky. Like the story of Goldilocks, where this porridge was too hot, this porridge was too cold, and this porridge was just right, my life was “just right” with no excess of anything. No excess wealth and no excess poverty. It was always filled with the right amount of many factors that contributed to my well being. Some people think life is a random event while others think it is pre-determined.. I am open to whatever our creator decided for it to be.
I was thinking of this on my way home from the airport this morning after dropping off one of my dearest friends. She arrived a week ago today and we pretty much talked nonstop the entire time. As I sped along the highway, I was counting my blessings for the merging of our two individual paths in life so long ago at another time and place. How is it that we clash with some people in this world and instantly bond with others? It is a mystery.
If there are four seasons in life I suppose I would now have to say that I have entered the winter of my life where there is a shortening of the days and a slowing down of energy…a period of rest and contemplation. I am most decidedly blessed to have been granted the experience of this part of life where similar to the ending of a song, it becomes quieter, slower and drawn out until its completion…
I met my friend when I was in my late 20’s. My husband and I and our family had recently moved to a small northern Minnesota town due to my husbands job promotion. We had three small children and the day I met my friend, the children were playing quietly downstairs as I was wallpapering a wall in our house. To my surprise, the doorbell rang, so I put down my project and opened the door. There she stood…She was tall and thin with dark, shoulder length hair and a broad smile. The minute our eyes met, we both felt a strong connection. She was collecting for the Heart Association and she made a point of showing me proof of the legitimacy of her donation request. I laughed out loud at her concern that I may think she was a fraud looking for money.
As is often said, She and I “hit it off”, and as a result, many phone calls, lunches, and outings occurred while we slowly built our relationship. We were fortunate that our husbands really liked each other as well, so there were many times, as couples, we found interesting things to do which allowed for the guys to come to know each other better as well.
We had only lived in that little town for around two years when another promotion pulled us far away to another state. Despite the distance now between us, she and I remained in touch by letter, phone call, and an occasional planned visit.
Through the years we have shared our life stories with each other, a little bit at a time, as time allowed. Bit by bit, we became ever closer as we began to see how synchronized we were in our morals, thoughts, religious beliefs, parenting, etc. etc. etc. Like a small seed planted in fertile soil, our relationship grew and expanded and began to bear fruit. The fruit consisted of the many ways we helped shape each others thoughts and how we helped each other expand our awareness of the complexity of life, family and friends. The fruit was also the absolute acceptance of each other exactly as we are. There was no competitiveness, no envy, no negativity at all. There was only positive energy flowing and no expectations of changing the other.
My personality traits are those of a social introvert. I can spend vast amounts of time by myself but I DO love the company of others where we can talk and laugh and share thoughts and feelings. I just don’t need this type of socialization on a daily basis. I connect this aspect of my personality to the environment in which I grew up. We lived in “the woods” of the U.P. of Michigan at a time where a child’s entertainment was not provided to them. A child had to figure that part out on their own, so in my case, it consisted of a lot of solitary activities. I also had cousins, cousins, by the dozens anytime I wanted a playmate, but for the most part, I spent a lot of my time in the imaginary world of books. Sometimes I would take a book up into the middle of the woods nearby and lay down on my back on the soft moss covered earth. I would then prop my book up on my chest, and proceed to get lost in the next adventure. Oh how I traveled far and wide in those days, one adventure followed by another in the far outposts of my mind. I would occasionally lift my eyes from the book to observe the long shafts of sunlight streaming down through the tall stand of trees as I pondered recently read passages.
As a result of my childhood, I have never needed a huge circle of friends. Rather, I was selective about who I spent time with, which inevitably led to my friendships becoming more than just surface laughter. I have always said, “Give me one good hearted “salt of the earth” friend with a great sense of humor and I am good to go!” No gaggle of girlfriends for me!
I think that we somehow manifest our desires by how we imagine things because the universe has presented to me one good friend after another. Not a LOT of them, but boy oh boy, the quality of these people has always been spot on for me to love and enjoy.
This is true with my husband as well. No truer love has ever existed for me than that which I have for him and he has for me. Oh, yes, blessings abound! When I was young, I always imagined what my husband would be like some day and now here we are, nearly 1/2 century married, true friends on so many levels!
I am sitting here now in the quiet of my house, imagining my friend sitting in an airplane, lifting off in the Texas sky, flying back to the north country. I feel satiated and loved after a wonderful week of shopping, lunches, sharing thoughts and feelings and the reminiscing of stories from long ago. At the same time, I feel a slight bit melancholy because I realize how far we have come and how much shorter the path is that lies ahead of us. Death is real to us these days as she is now a widow of three years. Instead of two couples engaging with each other, we are now a threesome and we are ever mindful of the fragility of life. As she is strongly encouraging us to come and stay a month with her next summer, using her home as a place where we can come and go, we nod our heads smiling, saying “Yes, yes” knowing that this will only come to pass, if God is willing for it to be so!
My life has been full of many kinds of relationships…some good, some bad, some best left forgotten. This friendship falls into the good….the very, very good category. I guess one would call her a gift to me. A gift from God to make up for some of the losses I have endured. In the checks and balances of life, she is one of those rare bonuses!
As they say, be careful what you focus on because that is what you will bring into your life. Fortunately, I am one who usually focuses on what is good and right. I see life’s gifts, and she is certainly one of them. Bye, bye Nancy, I will be savoring and focusing on this visit for a long time to come. God bless!
It has been 21 months since the beginning of the Pandemic and life has been turned upside down and inside out. The majority of the news has been rife with doom and gloom and dire predictions on every aspect of our life. One has to search extensively to find uplifting stories that stir our hearts and bring a smile to our faces. The sheer magnitude of negative news and misinformation is staggering. After a while it just clutters up the mind and weighs a person down..
Yesterday I started putting up Christmas decorations. Usually this is something I enjoy doing. All through the many years, Christmas music has always wafted about our place as I pulled out time worn holiday decor from their storage spots in our closet. Each item brought back memories from long ago. This year, rather than reveling in this tradition, it somehow became a chore!
We no longer have a large Christmas tree. We did away with that years ago when climbing a ladder to decorate a 10 foot Christmas tree became a risky task for an aging body. We settled on a small 4 foot table tree which remains decorated year round. After Christmas, we simply put a large plastic bag over it and store it in one of our closets. I do not miss the time I used to spend dressing and undressing the tree each year nor the time it took to painstakingly store Christmas bulbs in little partitioned boxes.
The tree was set up in no time on our buffet table. After setting it in place, I pulled out a choir child centerpiece of my Mothers that goes back to 1965. Every time I see that piece, my Mothers smiling face comes to mind. My goodness, my heart still misses her. She was such a good Mother and an even better friend. Life goes on, as they say, but there are always those special moments that come about that I wish I could share with her and when I wish I could have one more conversation with her. Lifting this centerpiece out of the storage box brings about the yearning for a reconnection to my Mom.
In the center of our family room and in front of the fireplace sits a large square coffee table and this is where the centerpiece rests each year, and this is where I place it now.
I then set about decorating the mantle. I struggled with this for some unknown reason. I just could not get it right. While it looked nice, it gave me no joy. Why was this?
On to the dining room table…another centerpiece.
I put all holiday items not used this year into boxes to be taken to the thrift shop. Some were more difficult to part with than others. I suddenly felt weary so I just left the boxes designated for the thrift shop sitting about and went to sit down in my chair. As I looked around the room at the Christmas decor it felt cluttered and overdone.
My feet were aching from moving around in slipper socks on hard porcelain floors. No forgiveness there. I felt very tired and my spirit lagged! What in the world was the matter with me?
I fell asleep in my chair and when I woke up I realized a lot of time had passed. Looking at the clock I knew I better go to bed and catch a few winks of sleep because it was well after midnight. I toddled off to bed and I slept soundly for a few hours but then I awakened from a bad dream. The dream was disjointed and in it, I was searching for my place in the world. Somehow I did not know where I was, but I also could not remember my way back to where I belonged. I tossed and turned and finally got up and came back out into our family room and my chair. What in the world was going on here?
I think the Pandemic has completely altered my view of life and what is really important. For much of the last 21 months I have been packing up small boxes of things and sending them to the thrift shop, It isn’t difficult to part with things if one does it in small amounts. Bit by bit, our things keep going out the door. Bit by bit, I enjoy the space that emerges as things are lifted up and sent off. I always offer these things to the kids first and sometimes they happily take things and sometimes they politely say “no thank you!”. No hard feelings on my part for I am happy to purge one way or the other.
Interesting to me is my uneasiness with the Christmas decor. How much of this seasonal fare does one need after all? This morning I eliminated the mantle decorations and the table decorations entirely. I kept my Mothers choir child centerpiece (purely sentimental) and the 4 foot tree on the buffet table, along with a few decorations under the tree. Everything else was put in a box for the thrift shop.
My spirit lifted! Well, now, things that once gave me great joy no longer serve that purpose because I am no longer the same person. I guess you could say I am evolving.
A lot of clutter and uneasiness had taken root in my mind and emotions these past 21 months due to being inundated with an avalanche of negative news and dire warnings. Happily, it now seems to be dissipating since shutting off the devices that delivered them to my psyche. Eliminating social media was also helpful. I desperately needed a feeling of solitude and peace wherever I could find it. Rather than listen to everyone’s else’s life narrative, I chose to investigate and marinate in my own thoughts as I worked out in our garden. I enjoyed communing with the birds, the bees and the plants while pausing for a moment now and again to give notice to a soft breeze on my face or the warm sun on my body. I have allowed myself the luxury of time spent reading a good book here and there and relaxing time reclining back in my chair, eyes closed, taking in some beautiful soul stirring music.
My goal to surviving this Pandemic is to cultivate a relationship with self and to enjoy communing with my creator. I am reclaiming my place in this world, and MY place is “within”. This is where I find comfort and joy and where I find a sense of belonging. I still enjoy spending time with friends and of course I love my family and the times I spend with them, but all the rest is just a bunch of noise. In the Bible there is a short verse where it is written “Be Still and know that I am God”. As I remember my dream, I realize that finding my way to where I belong is to understand that while I am “in” this world, I am not to be “of” this world. I don’t have to let the people and events of this world intrude onto my inner space where God resides in the form of the Holy Spirit.
I continue to feel a sense of urgency in wanting ALL excess clutter removed, be it material goods or mental processing! My mind wants peace and quiet and a place where I can hear God speaking to me! It has been difficult for me to tune Him in amidst all that horrific negative static.
Simplifying feels like a good way to honor Christmas. Jesus was born in the most simple and humble of places, yet the story of his birth was majestic. Imagine in those days the quiet vast expanse of inky black sky dotted with countless stars under which the Wise men traveled. Imagine how one star stood out from all the rest as the brightest of lights beckoning and guiding their way to the Christ child. Imagine the stable wherein the focal point was a Mother, a Father, and a brand new baby Jesus. No clutter….just a simple place where animals and humans stood anchored and connected in the sweet smell of soft hay.
O.k. The coffee cup is empty and now I need to pack up the discarded pile of Christmas decor. Another trip to the gift shop is in my future.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and I pray that in the not so distant future we will be living a life that encompasses
more love than hate,
more joy than sorrow,
more positive than negative,
more good than evil
and a life devoid of the all distractions that clutter brings.
I am forever indebted to my Mother and all my loved ones who introduced me to a living and personal God! I am never alone. I will always keep close to my heart God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! I do not know how I would have managed in this life without Him.