Friday, November 28, 2014

to Gram's house we go...

So  what was the high light of our Thanksgiving? I'm not really sure. Life is complex, & we have much for which we are grateful (especially this year). Last year, we spent Thanksgiving with our dear friends. It was so much fun & at a time when fun wasn't happening much. We were without a home, & so many decisions lay ahead of us.

Today (one year later), we celebrate in our new home. To say I love my new home is an understatement. I haven't said much about it because I realize so many others are still without a home. One reason I couldn't wait to rebuild was because I had 2 grand babies that I wanted to enjoy in my own home. I didn't want to miss their crawling, walking, & cuteness. God has blessed this decision…

This morning my daughter texted me that her 18 month old son squealed every time she told him they were going to Gram's.  When ever he comes over, I squat down, put my arms out, & he runs to hug me.   My heart melts like butter each time. Our lil grand daughter turned 11 months today. She loves to grab my hair & laugh. She doesn't like to let go. She runs all over our house in her walker. Both of the babies love to explore Gram's house.

We had a simple meal (pretty traditional). Everyone contributed. That only added to the fun. We had a fruit plate that looked like a turkey. Our pumpkin pie came complete with leaves made of crust adorning the top of it. I was overcome with thankfulness to have us all together in our new home. It's all decorated for Christmas. We still have many rubber maids to sort through, some of them complete with pink fluffy insulation.

I gave a toast, a toast to each couple present… to Eddie & Heidi (in their new life together), to Anthony & Kristen (what a joy to see 2 people so happy), to Cody, Haley, & Lily (our precious lil grand daughter), to Josh, Jamie, & Jaxon (our adorable lil grandson), & to us (a life time together). Even though we chuckled as we clicked our glasses, my words have never been more heartfelt & sincere. Love each of you dearly.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I don't know what survived until...

Today we hit the basement again. We found lots of treasures. A few of them will be wrapped up for Christmas & given to their rightful owners. We found my cookie cutters.  Each tells its own lil story. I can see my round kitchen table filled with Christmas cut outs, & 3 lil girls staring at them with big eyes. My favorite cut out was always Santa.

We pitched, we cleaned, we sorted. That's how it goes, & we still have much more to do. We reminisced. I am sure we sounded like 2 chatter boxes. I don't think we ever shut up. Then… we went to lunch & even did a lil shopping. Would you like to know the best find of the day?

It was an 8 by 10 of my "Dolly." She was our Black Lab. She filled the childhood chapter of our kid's lives. She was smart & beautiful. She had her own personality. We had several nick names for her. She had a particular look about her that we called the side winder. She would turn her head side ways & stare. All you could see were the whites of her eyes. Our beloved dog.

In the photo, she is wearing a big red polka dot bow. I believe our daughter gave us this photo as a gift one Christmas. It even says Santa's Lil  Helper on it. As we sorted, it occurred to me that you can tell what's important to a person by the things they have collected over the years. Apparently, I could never have enough pairs of glasses or enough candles. True, I like them both, but I certainly didn't need enough candles to last a life time or enough glasses for 25 women.

I don't dread my basement days. Getting through this stuff actually brings a sense of relief. Finding treasures is fun. Usually, the find is followed by a delightful squeal. Well… it's been a year. I don't know what survived until I pull the lid off the rubber maid & look. Sometimes it's overwhelming; sometimes it's fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Memorial Walk

Last night was a brrrrzy cold night. I almost didn't go. I took a fall about an hour before. I was unnerved. I spaced out & took a wrong turn on the way there. I was late. My mind was in another place. It was so cold! I went to buy a warm hat & some under leggings. That's when I fell in the parking lot, & that's why I was late.

So, on that cold dark blustery night, I turned myself around. I asked myself. Should I go? I'll freeze. I might fall again. It will be dark & cold. My daughter called to see if I was still coming. She was there with her boyfriend & her dear friend. Should I go? My precious daughter is there. It will be memorable. I will freeze. My knee hurts. I'm unnerved. So many excuses…

I kept going. I told her I would just keep driving, & if I got there in time, I would join her. She waited for me. I got there. I even parked up close as I drove over 2 bright yellow cement barriers. I made it. I walked in, & there she was. So caring. On the phone, she said she would hold on to me. She said it was a night to help others if ever there were such a night.

We took photos. We drank hot chocolate as we walked. We walked arm in arm. The wind chill gave me a temporary headache. Snow blew across our path. We were at the end of the line. My daughter was worried we were slowing down the vehicles who were following us. It felt like we were going at a good pace.

We laughed along the way. We remembered (but not so much in a painful way). No, we remembered in a meaningful way while making a new memory at the same time. It was blustery. It was cold. The hot chocolate was amazing. The service was filled with beauty & meaning.  We felt rugged. 2 things stick out in my mind: my daughter & my friends. Thank you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who knew?

A few days ago, my friend & I were in my basement. I was frantically searching through my rubber maids. I was looking for my Christmas decorations. Suddenly, it hit me like a bolt of lightening. I decorated my house the day before the tornado. My Christmas decorations were destroyed. My friend looked up & said, "I could have helped you figure that one out."

That's just a day in my life. I go about my business only to be struck by bolts of lightening that cause me to recount my losses. My losses are great, but my treasures are more. A year later we are in a new home. I walk into my house, & I feel as though I am outside. I love being close to nature. It soothes my soul.

We have grieved. We have felt emotion after emotion. Many of them have been painful & ugly. We have felt paralyzed at times. We could only focus on the next step, or we became overwhelmed. Sometimes we grieved together, but more often we grieved apart from each other. I think that's difficult on a marriage. It causes a disconnect, a gap.

Our friends have rescued us on more than one occasion. Who knew that the day our home blew away would also be the beginning of an assault on our sanity? Who knew the demons we would fight? Who knew the things we would see in each other? Who knew how our worst traits would become exaggerated? Who knew our resistance would be so low?… Who knew?

Nothing that day caught our Heavenly Father off guard. Nothing that happened in the days to follow surprised Him. For tomorrow is as close as yesterday for Him. He knew, & He allowed such an awful thing to happen. Why? I don't know. I only know that it does not cause me to doubt His love for me.

We live in a cursed world. We are not robots. We have a choice to love. We have a choice to have faith or not. We have a choice to persevere. We have a choice to believe that all things work for good for those who love the Lord & are called according to His purpose. I believe.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, there was a young boy that grew up in Southern Illinois. I am told he was a remarkable young man even though I did not meet him until he was in his early thirties. When he was old enough to be of help, he left his family to live with his uncle in a very small town. There, he farmed. He grew up to be a High School math teacher, but as the saying goes…"You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy."

This man grew the best tomatoes Northern Illinois had ever tasted. He loved to water his grass. He was a fisherman. I recall him catching 73 perch one morning on the the pier on Lake Michigan. He loved to spend his summer mornings catching fish & cleaning his catch. That meant a fish fry was to be had, hush puppies & all!

He loved nature. He was a great camper even though he & his wife never agreed on a camp site. Still… he never gave up. He always bought her turtle necks for Christmas despite the fact that she couldn't wear them. Occasionally, he bought her a night gown instead. Her cousin helped him do his shopping. She was not easy to please in the gift department. Still… he never quit trying.

Every Christmas, he put up a real Christmas tree, lights & all. Of course, she was never pleased with the tree he chose. Still… he put up a tree every year. He loved to chop wood. He was a servant. He upheld the dignity of those who suffered. He was not afraid to state his opinion.

He loved a good election. He made signs galore & posted them in every yard that gave permission. He took care of the elderly. He loved to cook French Toast.  Potato soup was his specialty. He made home made ice-cream. I sat on the top of the ice-cream maker while he turned the crank. He loved a good oyster stew too. He had a passion for his pancake breakfast at church. He was the life of the party every Easter morn.

My favorite memory… he tucked me into bed each night with a glass of milk. He checked in my closet & under my bed every night to make sure no one was lurking there. He assured me I would not have a bad dream or die before I wake. He kissed my forehead & told me he loved me each & every night. He was my DadderBoy. He was gone to soon from this earth, but in my heart he'll always be.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I can only speak for myself

Today I had a deep discussion with a friend. We were talking about pain. My friend thinks that cancer & tornados are worse than emotional pain. As a Survivor of all 3… emotional pain is the worst for me. I hate cancer. Walking that journey is a fine line of fight/surrender. You do all you can, & then you let God. Your health ultimately lies in His hands. There is a randomness to the whole ordeal. You can do every thing that's recommended, & still lose your life to cancer. You can make poor choices & still thrive. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense.

As for tornados… well, a home can be replaced. It's unnerving. The overwhelming feeling of loss of control looms over your head. What's the plan? You don't have a plan. Havoc surrounds you. Your belongings are scattered across the world. You don't really know where or how to begin. So, you begin somewhere, & then you take your next step, & the next, & the next. One step at a time. Try not to focus on more than the next step.

Emotional pain is hardest for me because it hurts the most. It is a loss of control if you are the beneficiary of emotional wounds. You can do what you can, but sometimes the ball lies in the other persons' court, & all you can do is hope. Usually, emotional pain seems unnecessary to me. It makes me physically ill. It consumes my mind. It breaks my heart.

I can only speak for myself.