Family

My Father

My birthday was nearly six months ago. At some point during my birthday week, I went to my mother’s. My sister handed me a large gift bag. I removed the tissue and found this, along with a poem she had written, and a very sweet card.


When he was working in her nursery, this is the hat that my dad wore the most. As I pulled it out of the bag, my sister told me that when she found it she knew that it was meant for me. I cried as I stuffed it all, the hat, the poem, and the card all back into the bag. It was just too much. It was too emotional for me. We went on about our day.

I texted her later and told her how much I appreciated the gift. I apologized for not acknowledging how special the gift was when I opened it. She said she understood. That she had held it to her face, inhaled my father’s scent, and cried when she found it. But she knew it was mine. That’s an example of the wonderful relationship my sister and I have.


In August, my father will be gone for 20 years. He was a wonderful father and a very proud grandfather. When you lose someone, yes your heart eventually heals and life goes on. But there is a big scar on your heart. Occasionally that wound is ripped open and your heart has to heal again.

I miss my dad so, so much. I miss his great big smile. I miss his laughter. I miss his hugs and kisses. I miss his early morning phone calls on my birthday. I miss his roar of “Katy, my darling!” as I walked into a room where he was sitting. I miss sharing all of the things that have happened over the last 20 years.

How proud he would be of his family. His buttons would fly off his shirt with pride when he saw the wonderful adults that all of his grandchildren had become. He would be wrapped around Henry’s little finger. He would be caring and thoughtful of my mother as she walks this path that she is on. He would be especially proud of my sister and the way that she cares for my mother.

He has missed so much. That’s the hard thing about losing a loved one.

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My Mother

My mother has always been my very bestest friend. I was the first child, but not the first pregnancy. So when I was born, I was joyfully and wonderfully welcomed. I was followed a short eleven months later by my sister. So the woman who wanted children intensely and fervently, suddenly had two small children within a year’s time.

Growing up, she was the best mother. She was generous, loving, protective, and sometimes pushy. She wanted the best for my sister and me. She wanted us to have the things that she did not have growing up.

My mother was the fourth child in a brood of thirteen. She was the eldest daughter. As the eldest daughter a lot of her mother’s burden fell on her shoulders too. She took her role seriously and devoutly. Thinking back to when I was a child, one of the biggest disputes that would arise between my parents was her sense of duty to her mother, father, and siblings.

She has always been there for not only my sister and me, but also for her siblings. When she retired, she served not only her family, but her friends at church. When someone was ill, she was there. When it was serious enough for the hospital she was there. When someone needed an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, she was there. She shared in their sorrows and rejoiced with them in their triumphs. If someone needed a loan, she disregard her own needs and freely give what she sometimes didn’t have to give.

My mother has always been a giver. In the last few years my mother has become the receiver. My sister, my nieces, my nephews, and even my great nephew and I have become the givers. It continues to be an educational and rewarding experience.

But it’s an every changing experience. My mother has dementia. She is happy to be with us. She enjoys our company. She loves being with her grandchildren, She adores her great grandson, Henry. But her connection with us has changed. She is no longer the dominant force in our life. She is not the one we go to for advice and comfort.

My sister is her main caregiver. She works a full time job. So far she has been able to coordinate between her and her children to make sure that our mother is not left alone. My sister and I have tried to divide up the responsibility between us. My sister and I have become our mother to each other. Now my sister seeks me out for advice and comfort and I seek her out for the same.

Our hope is that our mother travels this path with grace and dignity and without fear. But what my sister and I have become is my mother’s protector and advocate. Where my mother use to be the mother bear ready to spring and protect her cubs, now my sister and I have taken on that role for her.

Occasionally drama and bickering find their way into my mother’s presence. Fortunately, this doesn’t come from her immediate family. The ones who have been there for her the last few years. What we’ve decided as a family is that we will no longer allow that to happen. She is our number one priority and that includes her happiness, safety, and peace of mind. My mother no longer does well on the phone. She does great face to face. But I think on the phone she loses track of who she is talking to.

Mom has always been busy. So we try to keep her busy. She likes to go. Whether it’s shopping, eating out, or checking out the thrift stores. She still likes being out in the world.

She would love to hear from you. While a phone call may no longer be the best way to connect with her, she loves to visit. So call my sister or me and set up a time. I know she would love to open her door and see your face. Send her cards and pictures of your family and yourself.

Have my sister and I made mistakes? Certainly. But the one thing that we do acknowledge is that dementia doesn’t get better. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We only know that when Mom wakes up with a smile on her face, everything is going to be okay for today.

What we have found in navigating this life changing illness is that people suddenly disappeared from her life. At first this made me angry. Just knowing how she has always been there for others. But fortunately her world revolves around whoever she is spending time with that day. So she is happy. And that’s what matters most.

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Rethinking my thinking

Today I’m spending the day with mom. We spent some time at the Texas Department of Public Safety getting her a state issued identification card and she surrendered her drivers license. She quit driving years ago so that was really no big deal.

Then we decided to go shopping. She says to me “I need makeup.” So I text my sister and say “Mom says she needs makeup.” I ask because she sometimes forgets what she might have bought yesterday. My sister texts me back and says “She does! LOL.”

So off to shop with a purpose we go. Two people who use to be great shopping partners, but who now don’t do malls. First stop Ridgmar Mall. We didn’t even bother to get out of the car. It looks run down and slightly abandoned. We just made a big circle in my car around the mall and decided to head to Hulen Mall. On the way to Hulen Mall I remember the new Shops at Clearfork development. So once we get to Hulen Mall and park at Dillards I tell my Mom that we will definitely have to check out the new place before we head home.

We browse through Dillards and then head out into the mall. Just me and the women who taught me all I needed to know about skincare. The woman who took me to the Estee Lauder counters and the Clinque counters. As we head out into the mall, I know that she has already forgotten about the makeup. But I have not.

So we head to Macy’s Estee Lauder counter. We are browsing the different types of makeup when a young lady shows up to helps us. As she is asking my mother the usual questions about what she expects from a makeup I suddenly ask myself “What in the world am I doing?”

Arbonne! I have been an independent consultant for about a month. I have been spreading the word to friends and family. I have sent samples. I have handed out samples. I have shipped multiple samples. I am almost out of samples. I need to reorder samples!

Fortunately the sales rep color matched my mom and in a very surprising move, she offered a sample to take home and try before she buys. Just to be sure that the color matches and she’s happy with it in every way. REALLY!! I guess she was just really too busy to try and sell us product. My mother was excited and really ready to buy. But I have to say “Thank you!!” I said “Yes! Let’s take the sample and try it.”

On the way to the Shops at Clearfork I told my mother about Arbonne and told her we could her everything she needed and she would love it. I know she will. So I can’t really blame the young girl at the cosmetic counter. I also had overlooked my mother as someone who would appreciate the quality of the Arbonne skincare and makeup.

Then we went on to the Shops at Clearfork. Right now the only store there is Neiman Marcus. But it is going to be a very lovely retail development when it’s done. As we walked into Neimans I thought, “This is what a department store is suppose to be like. I bet if we had stopped at the Estee Lauder counter in Neimans we would have left with a bag of makeup.

If you are currently going to the department stores to buy you skincare, makeup, bath products, or even the healthfood store to buy nutritional supplements, I would like for you to at least check out what Arbonne has to offer. It truly is a great line of products. To visit my website click here.

 

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If you’d like to see some other roads I’ve been down concerning skin care just click here

 

Being a Grownup

I think from time to time we need to hear a story of a real hero. Not necessarily someone who risked life and limb to save a child from a burning building, but just your regular day to day hero. The kind of person who just goes about doing their thing each day. They just keep putting one foot in front on another, hoping for a better day.

Hero may be a word that is used loosely, but according to dictionary.com one of the definitions of hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.

One of my day to day heroes is my sister. When she was about 24 or 25 she was married and had three small children. At that time they were 4, 3, and 1. She was a stay at home mom and homemaker. Other than being an excellent waitress, she really had no job experience. All of her immediate family lived about 3 hours away. It was during this time that she realized that her husband was not who or what she thought he was and that her children, their children were in physical danger.

She did not make excuses. She did not immediately run three hours back to her parents. But she did get her children to safety. Did she cry? Yes. Did she scream to god in her desolation? Probably. Did she give up? No she did not. Was she perfect? No she was not. Did she feel sorry for herself? Not that I’m aware of. Did she think anyone “owed” her anything? No she did not.

Her main concern at that time in her life was the safety and well-being of three small children. She worked the lowliest jobs, simply to put a roof over the heads of her children and put food on the table. She was not alone. She did have the support of her family and of her friends. But the basic day to day stuff she did 100% on her own.

Eventually she moved back to her birthplace, remarried and had another child. Last year her second marriage ended. Once again she is on her own. This time her children are grown. Her work skills are better. She still doesn’t whine and complain. She simply lives her life and is actually following her dreams. Unfettered by the bonds of marriage and child rearing, she is finally doing what she enjoys. She does it to suit herself.

Yet she still serves. She serves her mother. She is our mother’s main caretaker. She sees that she has her medicine, food, gets to the doctor, and is happy. She gets frustrated, I’m sure. We’ve had talks about the future and we both know that at some point our mother may need more then my sister’s care taking. She has told me that she sees taking care of our mother as a beautiful gift. She has told me that she feels honored to be able to do the things that she does for our mom.

That may not sound like much, condensed as it is to the preceding paragraphs. But if you knew the details and all the crap she has put up with over the last thirty years you would understand. She isn’t alone. I know the world is filled with women like her. Women that have had to put their wants and desires aside while providing the very basic necessities for their families.

The next time you hear an adult whining about the hand that life has dealt them, you might tell them to look around for their own “day to day” hero. We all have to take ownership of our choices and our decisions in life.

I’m sure there were lots of times she would have loved to just get in her car and run away, far, far away. But she knew what her responsibilities were. What makes her a hero to me is not the fact that she did what was right for her children, but the fact that she did it without complaining.

We live in a world filled with people that think the world owes them something. We live in a world where some people think that the problems that they create for themselves are everyone else’s fault. We live in a world where some people leave a trail of disaster and wonder why.

I’m glad that my nephews and nieces had my sister as a mother. She may not have been perfect. But she did try and she didn’t make excuses. She didn’t blame anyone. She simply got up each morning, put both feet on the floor, and kept trying.

I hope all of her dreams come true.

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Mother’s Day 2014

I remember my Dad saying “It’s hell getting old.” When I really stop and think about that statement, I find it a little weird. Why? Because I lost my Dad when he was 62. I’m less than ten years away from being 62. Sometimes I stop and look at myself in the mirror and marvel at the fact that I have become old.

My dad was fun and the life of the party. Any room that he walked into, everyone was glad to see him. He loved his family, his friends, and his history. He was compassionate, loving, and kind. I know I was fortunate to have him as long as I did.

He missed out on seeing his grandchildren grown into wonderful adults. He missed out on the traveling he and my mom were always going to do when they retired. He would have liked this place that Doug and I bought. I miss his advice on what to plant. He grew up on a farm, broke horses in, worked on a ranch, and owned his own nursery. He would be a wealth of information.

My mother was only 56 when she lost her husband. It was hard on her at first. She was still working, so she had that to fill her days. When my Dad passed away, I had a peculiar sense of responsibility for her. It wasn’t only the nursery that she was left with. Doug and I helped her keep those plants alive and then liquidate them. I felt responsible for her loneliness. If I hadn’t had the responsibility of my own household and husband, I would have been compelled to be with her constantly.

She found her way as a widow. She visited her grandchildren, her siblings, her friends. She retired when she was 62. She was very tired of working. At the age I am now, I am a lot like my mother was then. At work she did not take crap from anyone. She had one man that she worked with in her cubicle tell her “I’m going to put my fist through your face.” She stood up and asked him very firmly, “You’re going to do what?” Again he told her he was going to put his fist in her face. She continued to ask him and he continued to tell her, gradually getting louder and louder until security escorted him out of the building.

When she decided to retire, she did not want her co-workers giving her a party. She just wanted to be gone. She said that she would spend her time taking care of and doing for others. That she did. Active in her church, she visited shut ins, the hospitalized, the sick. She took others to doctors appointments, dialysis, chemo treatments. She sat with a new mother who had hurt her back for weeks. She cleaned and looked after the mission house that her church had. She helped fix meals for funerals. She sat with an Alzheimer’s patient once a week, so that the woman’s husband (her full time caregiver) could have a break. She took a woman to the nursing home once a week to visit the woman’s husband. She has always done for others. She was always there for me, her family, her friends, and complete strangers. My mother was a go getter. She would jump in to help who ever needed her, regardless of the cost to her.

So it was with a heavy, but knowing heart that we learned that she has Alzheimer’s. Our family started seeing the signs a couple of years ago. At first we told ourselves that it was just a normal part of aging. The forgetfulness, the confusion. She told me several times over the last couple of years that she needed to get her “brain checked out” or that she needed some medicine for her brain. I would tell her, “It’s okay. I forget stuff too. Don’t worry about it.”

When she was officially diagnosed by a neurologist, we were not surprised. But we were devastated. I wallowed in my sadness for a couple of hours. Then I picked myself up and pulled my inner Betty up. My inner Betty is the part of my mother in me. It allows me to see the rainbow after the rain. It allows me to be optimistic. That part of her that has been instilled in me grants me the ability to put my sadness to the back of the line and look around and ask myself, “What can I do?”

My family has lot to learn about Alzheimer’s. We are just starting out on the journey. It is not a path of our choosing, But we will walk it together.

10010037_814428785251629_2670995273850927763_o“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love, and fearlessness.  If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love”  – Stevie Wonder

My Mother and Her 4 Cell Phones

Normally I have lunch with my mother on Tuesdays. Not every Tuesday. But maybe two or three Tuesdays a month. I started taking care of her bills last year. They seemed to be getting away from her. So she and I decided that I would take over that duty. It’s just one less thing that she has to worry about. On a recent Tuesday, I ran into Fuzzy’s and got us a couple of tacos and some queso. No two people love queso as much as my mom and I. You should see her eyes light up when queso comes out of a sack!  But this isn’t about queso, this is about cell phones.

One of the things that I take care of for her is her cell phone.  She occasionally has trouble with it.  She has lost it on ocassion. I have ordered her another one, knowing that she would find the lost one once the new one was ordered. She has occasionally let the battery completely run down on it. When this happens she plugs it in and waits for it to charge. After several hours she checks it and finds that she still cannot use it. She will call me on the phone and tell me “I need a new cell phone. This one is broke.” What has happened is the phone has turned itself off and she doesn’t know how to turn it back on. So one of us will go over there, push the green button and Voila! It’s fixed! This has happened at least twice in the last year. She has also said that she needs her air conditioning in her van fixed, only for us to find that the snowflake (A/C) button isn’t pushed in.

So after we ate, I was sitting at her desk going thru her mail, when all of a sudden she jumped up and said “I’ve got something I need you to do!!” and ran off into the other room. She very much reminded me of my grandmother, her own mother, when she did this. I don’t know if it was her tone of voice, her hand movements, or what. But guess what she came back with? A new cell phone still in the AT&T box.

I asked her, “Where did you get this?”  She said she didn’t remember as she handed me the box.  I opened the box to find a Samsung Galaxy Rugby.  In the box was a receipt from Radio Shack for the purchase of a phone for $19.99.  Now there were a lot of questions I should have asked at that particular moment.  They did not come to mind until I went back to work and my brain started to wrap itself around some of the things that were said and happened during that little lunch period.  She said, “I want to be able to take pictures.”

So I asked her “Is this a phone that you have to add minutes to?”  She shrugged her shoulders.  I asked her where her other cell phone was.  The one that she uses all the time.  The one that I pay the bill for each month.  She went into the other room and returned with three more cell phones.  Her regular black flip cell phone, a red flip cell phone she lost last year, and a Kyocera flip phone that I had never seen before in my life.  She opens up the Kyocera phone as my head begins to spin and says to me “This one doesn’t have any of my phone numbers in it.  I just use it when I want to call long distance.”

This is where I should have asked “Why don’t you use this phone?” as I picked up the black cell phone.  But I didn’t.  I took the Kyocera phone and turned it on and saw that it had the “Virgin Mobile Prepay” logo on it.  So I sat that aside and said “We won’t worry about this one right now.  It’s one of those you have to add minutes to.”  Then I turned my attention to the Samsung phone.  At this point, I guess part of my brain shut down.  For some reason I assumed this was also a “Pay as you go” phone.

I took the sim card out of her cell phone that we pay for every month and put it in the Samsung phone.  I tested it and it worked with that cell phone.  Then I put everything back the way it was because it was time for me to leave and go back to work.  As I put everything back I tell her “Your sim card works in this Samsung.”  I’ll come over next week and swtich it over for you.  We’ll have to make sure you know how to use it.

I leave her house with a slight sensation of vertigo.  But I’m finally able to push those questions that are nagging at me aside.  After being back at my desk for a couple of hours I suddenly realize I didn’t ask the question I should have asked.  I wondered why a Samsung Rugby would be sold as a “pay as you go” phone for only $19.99.  That was the price on the receipt that she showed me.  But mainly I did not ask “Did you sign any paperwork?”

So I pick up the phone and call her and ask this question.  She says “Yes, I signed some paperwork.  I should have shown it to you, but I forgot.”  So I ask her to go get the paperwork and call me back.  She calls me back and I ask her “On that paperwork is there anywhere on there that it says anything about a monthly fee?”

She says “It say’s the monthly rate is $59.95.” I ask her “Why would you sign a contract for a phone at $59.95 per month, when you’re only paying $28.95 now?”  We have a conversation where I confuse the hell out of her and she sends my head spinning all over again.  So I ask her “When did you get this phone?”  She says she thinks she got it Monday, because she was having trouble with her cell phone.

Knowing that time is of the essence and that she probably has at least 14 days, I call my niece and ask her if she will take this phone back and get the contract cancelled or pay a fee or whatever needs to be done.

My niece goes to my mother’s and finds that the receipt that I saw was for the Kyocera prepaid phone and the AT&T Samsung phone was purchased at Walmart.  My niece takes my mother to Walmart and spends at the very minimum, a hour getting this taken care of.

Now I know my mother wants a new phone.  She also wants a phone that she can take pictures with.  I looked at the Consumer Cellular site and they have the exact same Samsung that she got from AT&T.  So I’ve ordered that phone for her.  When I told her I was going to order the phone, she told me “Oh let’s not bother with a new phone.”  But I know she said this because she feels that she put us all out.

I’ve scolded her.  I’m pretty sure my niece scolded her.  But she has always been the type of person that leaps before she looks.  She has always been a very independent woman.  It doesn’t have to do with aging.  Maybe the four cell phones do.  But not the wanting a new phone.  So even though she told me not to, I ordered her phone and I think she will be happy with it.

It has taken me over a week to write this little story.  I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of relating exactly what happened over the course of a couple of days last week.  Mainly because each time I started writing and recalling the sequence of events, my head would start to spin just a bit.  It’s spinning just a bit right this very minute.

Our Worse Thanksgiving Ever!!

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My father passed away in early August of 1997.  So when Thanksgiving rolled around the pain was still fresh and raw.  My mom really needed her grandchildren that first holiday after he left us.  My sister and her family lived in Oregon.  So my mother flew there to spend that holiday with my sister’s family.  I didn’t feel bad about her decision at all.  She was still working at the time, but I knew that the house was lonely for her.  It would have still been a sad day with Doug and I there with her.  She would have had that first holiday and the days following to cope with her loneliness and loss.  So my sister’s home filled with her four grand children was the perfect place for her.

Doug didn’t have any family in Texas, other than his daughter.  She was still a teenager and always spent Thanksgiving with her mother’s family.

So the Thanksgiving of 1997 was our first holiday completely on our own.  No big deal I thought.  Boy was I WRONG!!  At the silly age of 35 and never having to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner I was completely and totally in some other realm when it came to planning a meal for Thanksgiving.

Since it was just the two of us I saw no need in buying all the stuff and making a dinner.  After all Luby’s had a take out and I could simply walk into that little room where I sometimes went to get my lunch and simply get us two Luann Platters to go.  WRONG!!!  When I walked in there late Thanksgiving morning there was no one in that little room.  Just boxes and boxes and boxes of delicious turkey dinners with all the trimmings waiting for those who had placed their orders days in advance to pick up.  The dining room was packed and there was line out the door to get in.

So I sat in the parking lot wondering what to do.  There wasn’t much in the house because we hadn’t bought groceries.  I had left Doug at the house while I just ran down to Luby’s.  My My!! I was in a pickle.  Then I remembered Kroger had advertised turkey dinners.  I would just run down to Kroger and pick up a turkey dinner.  Sure I would probably have to heat it up.  But that was no big deal.

So I drove over to Kroger with images of us heating up the meal and laughing about the Luby’s mistake.  “We sure won’t do that again!!” I would say to Doug.  Holy Moly!!  I arrived at Kroger’s to a packed parking lot.  After parking my car and trudging across the parking lot I realized I only had 30 minutes until they closed.  I ran back to the deli department and it was dark and closed.  So very very sad.  I finally found someone and asked “Do you have any turkey dinners?”

Oh the humiliation!!!  The young man simply said no, but the look on his face!!  I ran to the meat department.  No turkey, no ham, NOTHING!!!  Well desperate times calls for desperate measures.  I ran to the frozen food section.  You know the “frozen dinner” aisle.  Anything that even vaguely resembled some kind of turkey dinner was wiped out.  I mean it was empty.  When you opened up the door and said “Hello”, you were answered with the echo of “Helllooo, Helloo, Hello.”

It was just so very sad.  And that’s how we ended up having frozen pizza for Thanksgiving dinner in 1997.  But we were thankful and I have never ever let that happen again.

The Scuttlebutt News

Doug and I refer to the place down the street as the Baxter’s.  That’s because several years ago the Baxters lived there.  Then the Baxters divorced.  Apparently Mrs. Baxter found out that Mr. Baxter was having an affair with a much younger woman who worked at the VFW.  So Mrs. Baxter moved out and Mr. Baxter moved somewhere with his new friend.

Their place is a total of 15 acres with a manufactured home on it.  It went into foreclosure.  Doug and I looked into buying, mainly because it butts up to the far end of our property.  But the bank wanted way too much money for it.  In our opinion any ways.

Then a little family bought the property and lived there for a very short time.  APPARENTLY, the bank only had title to the acre that the house sat on.  The other 14 acres were owned by Mr. Baxter.  The little family found out that they did not own the entire 15 acres when a crew showed up with a bull dozer to do some clearing.  So to make along story short, the little family got out of the deal, took their down payment and went else where.

Eventually an elderly couple moved into the house on the one acre and they were happy.  The 14 acres was surveyed and sold.  We would occasionally see a funny little man walking around.  He would carry his little tiny dog and wave as we drove past.

Then a few years ago the man built some kind of shelter back in the woods.  We thought he was some kind of reclusive weirdo.  If you looked up his drive as you drive past (yes I know that we are nosey) you can see a travel trailer and some kind of building/shack built out of what looks like plywood, with a stove pipe coming out the side.  Odd, we thought.  But to each their own.

Then last year three little children started catching the school bus.  A little girl, maybe 10, a little boy maybe 9, and a little girl maybe 6 or 7.  So we assumed that the little weird man had found him a wife who had 3 little children. Doug and I would discuss how odd it was that they lived like that.  We in fact, looked own our noses at this odd little family.

Well, Saturday Doug was doing some tractor work.  Clearing some brush and trees along the fence line.  He came back to the house came in and announced “I’ve got some scuttlebutt news!!”

He said while he was on the tractor he saw the little man standing along the fence line with a rifle.  The man just stared.  Never waved, nodded or anything.  Just stared.  Doug being Doug, gave him his own long stare back.  As he went past him on the tractor the man said something, but Doug couldn’t hear him over the tractor.  So eventually Doug got off the tractor and went to see what the man was doing.  Lo and behold, Doug has made himself a new friend.

The little man, may be a little weird, but he’s up to nothing bad.  He is 58, retired from the City of Fort Worth and moved out here with his wife.  They have 5 children who are all grown and live in Fort Worth.  After living here for awhile he said their life felt empty.  So they adopted 3 children.

Now they are still a little odd in my book.  But you can’t look down your nose at a couple that adopts 3 children and gives them a home.  However odd that it might be.  They are always well dressed, happy, and smiling when they are waiting on the bus.

The family has a garden and goats.  The little man hunts turkeys, deer, and what ever else that he can find.  They don’t have much, but they apparently have a very full and loving heart.

Doug says “I like the man. I judged him wrong.”

Times Flies and Then the Moment is Lost

So far this has been a rough year for Doug and I and a lot of others as well.  We lost Doug’s mother in March and I also lost my Aunt Mary (my father’s youngest sister) around the same time.  Doug lost an uncle and I recently lost an uncle as well.  All loved members of our families.

Sometimes death comes quickly and unexpectedly.  Sometimes love ones suffer from an illness that lets you know that death is hanging around waiting patiently.  But regardless of how death appears, we are never really ready.  Even with a long term disease we can never be truly ready to say good bye.

But what I do know is that the time is now to let those you love and care about know how you feel.  People need to know that they are valued.  If you feel the need to let someone know what they mean to you or what influence they’ve had on your life, DO IT!!!  Write a letter, send an email, pick up the phone.  Do it for yourself.  Never let a day pass holding back words that you feel the need to express.

When someone we love receives a diagnosis that leads to a downhill roll into disability and finally death, we have proof that we need to say the things that need to be said to them.  But we need to recognize this fact in our dealings with all of those that we love.

When we end a visit, a phone conversation, or whatever the circumstance might be, we never really know what will happen between the end of that encounter and the next.  When your better half leaves for the day, do they truly understand how much they mean to you.  Do your children and grandchildren know how proud you are of them?

I’m not talking about just “saying the words”.  Write it down.  In this electronic age that we live in I think its important to take pen to paper and let them know.  Nothing is worse than attending a funeral and hearing someone say “I wish I had told them.”

A 60th Anniversary and a Story Shared

1721485-LThis past weekend, Doug and I attended my aunt and uncle’s 60th wedding anniversary celebration.  It was a wonderful afternoon, reconnecting with family that I haven’t seen in a while.  It was a happy time, with many hugs and lots of smiles.  Big family get togethers with extended family seem to happen less and less often.

Cousins have grown and are grandparents.  Their own children now have children.  These new adults I only remember as youngsters.  Each one of us cousins has become a troop of  our own.  We have each become our own small gatherings.  We are now what our grandparents once were. The leader of our own considerable clan.  We can fill a hall to overflowing.

It was a beautiful wonderful day.  The perfect day for a celebration.  After all, how often do two people get to celebrate their 60th anniversary.  The room was filled with family, friends, and memories.  There were pictures on the table from their dating days and from their wedding day.  But one of the most enjoyable parts of the party was a slide show of their life.  It was their story in pictures.  The story brought tears, laughter, and applause.

The slide show was filled with happy, smiling friends and family.  Amongst them were pictures of those who have already departed from us.  Those people were missed that day.  Yet when I looked around the room I saw their smiles on the faces of those youngsters.

My Aunt Nell and Uncle Harry are perfect examples of what it is to dance merrily into the land of AARP.  But I’m not sure that either one of them truly knows what retirement is.  They are a wonderful example of marriage and friendship.  Their happiness is reflected not only in their love for each other, but their love for all those who enter their orbit.

Their life has not been perfect, nor has it been easy.  How do I know?  I don’t know anyone who has lead an easy or perfect life.  But after spending time with those who love them, watching their story unfold through pictures projected onto a wall, I know that they have all the riches that they could want.  They are happy, content, and ready for what ever adventure waits for them next.