Birthday

January 3rd is when Mom celebrated her birthday. According to her birth certificate that’s the day she was born, but she actually came into the world February 3rd. I’m sure she was proud of the error on her birth certificate when she was a teenager. She turned 16 before she really was 16.

IMG_6128Mom never made much of birthdays, especially hers. Whatever it was….the winding down after the holidays or the fact that she never mentioned it, many times her birthday passed right by until one of us remembered to wish her a happy one. She always said, “Well thank you.”

As we grew up and out of the house, she usually sent a card or called on our birthdays. One of the most special gifts I got from Mom on my birthday was a card that recounted the details of the day of my birth. I’d turned 20 something when she gave it to me and that was better than any other thing I could’ve received.

Her last birthday was a great party. IMG_0837My niece gave her a “birthday girl” pin to wear and cooked a wonderful meal. We had cake, balloons, and lots of us gathered to celebrate her. I bet it was one of her best birthdays ever.

I wrote a post two years ago called Mama. The post is about Mom and the song that makes me remember a specific time I was with her and my younger sister. I wrote it just because I was thinking about her.

I heard the song this morning on my way to work, thought about Mom and remembered it was her birthday – her birth certificate birthday. The one she always said was her date of birth and the one we celebrated with her three years ago.

I miss her.

IMG_6130

 

 

Morning Coffee

I woke up Saturday morning later than usual. I walked into the kitchen and started the coffee to brew like I always do. I had just enough time to drink a cup while I talked with my husband before I met a friend for our long Saturday run.

Lately I’ve been treating myself to a cinnamon almond milk macchiato after the miles on Saturdays and I look forward to it. But I didn’t need to stop for coffee this Saturday. Before I left the house I realized there was coffee left in the pot so I hurriedly poured it into my Yeti cup to keep it warm and brought it with me.

After the run, I said goodbye to my running partner, opened the car door and smelled the aroma of coffee. As I started the car I wondered why there was so much…….I brewed the same amount I’ve always brewed. It took me a minute to realize why I had a Yeti full of coffee. My daughter didn’t drink her portion like she usually does on Saturday morning.

She was on her honeymoon.

Like I always do, I brewed enough coffee for me and my daughter. She enjoys coffee as much as I do and she’s up early on Saturdays for her work. We sit and talk as we sip our coffee until one of us says, “I have to get ready after I tell you this”.

We both love good conversation and our morning ones are some of the best. So good that sometimes, we can barely pull away.

Her morning coffee routine will be different now. Mine too.

But it will be good.

Growing and changing.

Endings and beginnings.

These are necessary and good and beautiful.

 

 

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

Blink
 

They Won

This is the kind of story that never gets old.

Daddy knew he needed to make a change.

To get better.

To save his life and ours.

He moved all of us to a whole new life in another state. Far away from the drinking binges and the fighting and the rehab centers that didn’t work. Far away from what happened and what was……..to something good and better.

The convoy to our fresh start rolled out one early summer morning in 1982. As a preteen I was probably less annoyed than most kids my age would have been. I knew I’d miss my friends but I was ready for something better. The hope of a calmer life, a different house, and a new school filled my heart. Moving day was a good day.

My sisters and I weren’t the only ones at a new school. Part of Dad’s new life included seminary and he began the night courses eagerly. He took careful notes in class and squeezed study time in when he could.

I can’t remember the day or the month or the season, but before the end of the first year Dad started drinking again.

Mom was devastated. She never told me that, but I know. Dad was too. When you’re a kid you have no idea what your parents are going through. Then you grow up and endure your own heartaches and one day, without meaning to, you feel the pain of your mom’s fear or the torment of your dad’s struggle with alcohol.

For the next decade Daddy lost the battle with alcohol over and over and over again.

Ten years.

Ten more years of the chaos and violence. Ten more years of tears and sorrow. Regretting the move, resenting the losses. Ten more years of emergency room visits and halfway houses. Ten more years of job changes and the financial strain and moving from house to house.

I’m sure Daddy remembered the day he took his last drink. He may have counted the days but he never told us. After about a year of him not drinking……we realized he wasn’t drinking. Then it was two years, then five. Ten years sober, then 20 years.

Daddy was sober for almost 23 years when he passed away in 2014.

Twenty three years of healing and restored relationships. Twenty three years of good memories. Twenty three years of the sweetest grace.

They won. Daddy and Mom pressed through and marched on. They fought the good fight and fought with each other. They messed up but moved forward. There were days they wanted to but they didn’t give up.

The long view is what got them through. The good days helped them see beyond the bad ones. When everything was falling apart they believed it could all come together. Love does that. It sees longer and deeper and wider. So my parents kept going. One day at a time. And they won.

The last time Daddy and Mom were face to face and held each others’ hands they weren’t thinking of the hard years. They were thankful for the moment and all the years that got them there.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

Restart

Eclipse

My daughters and I went to Green Mountain for our eclipse viewing. It was exactly what we hoped for. Serene and beautiful. The eclipse began shortly after we arrived but I hiked the loop trail while the girls picked the perfect spot on the dock for us to watch the moon cover the sun. While on the trail I found several clear sunny spots, stopped to put my eclipse glasses on, and viewed the moon edging its way over the sun. I was awe struck and rushed my way through the forest to join the girls on the dock.

We reclined there, viewed the eclipse with our glasses, noticed the fading light, laughed at each other, guessed at the percentage of coverage, watched a newly arrived spectator look for a good spot to sit or point to the eclipse shaped shadows, put our glasses back on and did it again and again until the moon hid the sun as much as it would on Green Mountain.

The eclipse was amazing. The whole thing of it. The going there, the watching and waiting, the laughing with my girls, the riding home afterward. But there was another wonderful part of it.

Throughout our time at Green Mountain, my oldest daughter was very aware of others around us. The couple fishing on the other dock when we arrived. The old couple sitting on a swing near the entrance to the park. The young men glancing toward the sky occasionally. The photographer setting up his special camera for the perfect photo op. There were others around but these were the ones she noticed. None of these had glasses.

She spoke first to the couple sitting in the swing who didn’t realize the show had started.

“Is there something to see?” the elderly lady asked. “Oh yes,” my daughter said as she handed her glasses over.

The sweet elderly lady was delighted to see the crescent shape of the sun. The gentleman in the swing told us he’d seen two eclipses in his lifetime and thanked my daughter for the offer anyway. The fishing lady took a break from the fishing and my daughter saw her walking nearby. She gladly put the glasses on to see what was happening up above and thanked my daughter over and over. My daughter walked to the other dock to share her glasses with the fishing man, shared them with the photography man and eventually gave them away to the young glancers so they could enjoy the rest of the eclipse without worrying about their eyes.

My daughter wanted everyone to see the wonder in the sky.

She enjoyed the eclipse but was overjoyed to see others enjoying the eclipse.

Caught My Eye

My husband tells me I ask more questions than any person he’s ever known. It’s probably true.

Mom used to tell me I was curious from the beginning with a genuine desire to learn all I could. She called it a zest to investigate and it landed me into some pretty funny situations when I was younger.

I’ve not lost the zest. I wonder about things. I think of a question then search for the answer. Or something catches my eye so I’ll take a closer look.

I was pulling weeds when I noticed a few mushrooms on the other side of the yard. As I walked closer I saw this little family of mushrooms. IMG_5660.jpg

I spent the next few minutes or so observing and taking several photos of the mushrooms.

Just because they caught my eye.

We came into this life so generous, alive, unarmored, & curious.  Curious, in the best, silliest, most fixated, life-giving way. ~ Anne Lamott

A Face in the Crowd

Strawberries in the Sand

Every year at the beach we search for strawberries in the sand. One of us will return from a long walk on the beach and announce, “I found six strawberries!”  The others of us will admire the find and tell the lucky finder how pretty the strawberries are. Each day more of us will search and find our strawberries and we’ll talk about whose is the pinkest or which has its wings intact.

Strawberries in the sand are actually calico scallop shells and the “wings” are technically called ears. I’m not sure how the shells came to be known to us as strawberries but I can guess it’s because of the red, maroon, or rose colors found on most of them. However the “strawberry” name happened, it stuck. We even call the black scallops, “black strawberries”.

We throw the barnacle-encrusted strawberries back into the waves and continue our hunt. Our favorite strawberries are deep purples or vibrant pinks with no holes and both wings. If the colors are especially beautiful or unique enough, then holes and wings make no difference.

We’ve been calling them by the name for so long we forget that others don’t know about it. A newcomer to our beach gathering gives strange looks when we talk about searching for strawberries on the beach.

It’s just one of our things. Like chocolate gravy on Christmas Eve and stargazing in the back of a pickup on hot August nights, gathering stalks of cotton from the fields in October, or The Sound of Music the day after Thanksgiving.

Every family has those things.

What are some of yours?

Textures

Write

Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird  “To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care. You do not have to have a complicated moral philosophy. But a writer always tries, I think, to be part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass it on”.

I’ve always written…….in a journal, notes to friends, poems, and prayers. I want others to read what I write, but not because I think I have some remarkable message to share. But, I do know things and my perspective on life will definitely be different from yours. If my experiences teach you something, reveal a truth, make you think about something you’ve never thought about before, or simply make you feel less alone, that is enough.

I write to share what I’ve learned, and struggled with. Or what makes me laugh. What moves me or changes me. But mostly what I struggle with. I share it so you’ll know you’re not the only one. I end up feeling less alone, too.

I’ve done what I set out to do if I’ve caused that middle-aged teacher to feel less guilty about his anger over caring for his widowed father while caring for his own family.

Or maybe the girl that’s on her 5th try into the new year to make good on her resolution to lose weight. Maybe she feels hopeful and decides to press on because of something I put out there. Or maybe instead she decides she likes her curves. Either way, she’s better.

If I’ve given you the courage to ask for a raise, I’ve done what I hope to do.

I write to encourage, inspire, and connect. To give hope, to make you ponder a question you’ve never asked before, to make you laugh or cry. To help unlock a memory stored away. I write to help you see someone in a new way, or help start the journey of forgiving, or put into words what you can’t seem to.

I write to pass it on.

In response to the Daily Post’s Guilty.

Today

“There’s only one day at a time here, then it’s tonight and then tomorrow will be today again.”
― Bob Dylan

I have a lot to do, even more to think about. Like most, I’m juggling too much. Thursday evening after work, I was driving to the hospital to see Mom. I was thinking about what I had to do after I left the hospital. Pick up medicine, go to Sears to return an item, give Blake a check, turn in ad forms, look through Brady’s papers………..my thoughts were interrupted by a text message.  My son wanted to know if I was cooking dinner.  I hadn’t even thought about it.  I wondered if there was anything in the house to cook.

I suddenly felt overwhelmed with it all. I took a deep breath, asked the Lord to help me, and made myself stop thinking about the “to do” list that will never, ever go away. I thought about what Dad and I talked about earlier.

Today. Do what we can today.

He was overwhelmed too. With thoughts of all the tomorrows, all he had to do and all the “what ifs”.

At the hospital Mom told me what her doctor said to her. He reminded her that we have only today.  Be thankful for it and enjoy it. That helped Mom. And it helped me.

We live like we don’t know this. We think about what we have to do next and rush to it without fully engaging in what we’re doing now. This makes us unhappy, stressed and full of anxiety.

We’re not meant to live that way. I’m trying to simplify and learning to say no. Even so, there are times when “NO” isn’t an option.

When I have too much to do and too many thoughts I will remember that God is here, now.

He is there when I get to the next thing…….He has me. I will be present in each moment and do my best with it.

And be thankful that my family doesn’t mind eating chili dogs.

 

The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling.”
Your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
You calmed me down and cheered me up.

Psalms 94:18-19 (MSG)

Simplify

 

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels