There once was a little girl who loved to sing and dance and play with her brothers and sisters. She was the fourth of five children and always a favorite among her family. Her early life started out in Indiana but then the family moved to the west side of Cleveland where her father worked in the Presbyterian church. Every summer they packed up the family car and drove way up north to an exceptionally beautiful lake in Michigan. It was on Walloon Lake that she learned how to sail and swim and made many friends.

As a young women she spread her joy and love to the kids who attended the local camp on the lake where she worked as a counselor. Singing, dancing and playing games with kids continued through her summers and then on to her years in college.

A very generous aunt and uncle saw the potential in her and sent her to Wooster where she made more friends and spread her joy and love to the people she met there. An adventurous one, she moved to New Mexico after college to work there for awhile before heading to New York where she lived with her older sister and her nephews and nieces. She earned a master’s degree and then got a job at Cornell University.

It was at Cornell that this young woman met the love of her life and then went on to spend the next 50 years with him. This beautiful young woman took care of her husband and soon had a little baby boy. This special boy was born while she lived with her husband on base in Munich, Germany. The army nurses weren’t exactly helpful to this new mother as they dumped sheets on her bed and told her to make her own bed (right after giving birth). She was a tough one this young woman!

More adventures ensued as they took little baby Greg on the road while they climbed mountains and toured Europe. Back to the states they went and soon had a little girl to round out the family. This young mother stayed home raising these two children, spreading her joy and love to them and everyone she met.

This woman grew in her faith, continued to always be a supportive and loving person, and to this day is the most wonderful mom a girl could ask for. This woman is now a grandmother, spreading her joy and love to four of the luckiest kids in the world. They get to call this woman grandma and know that they are loved and prayed for every day.

Thanks mom. I love you and your story will live on through me and your always grateful family. You have been through many trials in your life and continue to come through them with grace and style. You are a great role model and I’m glad you’re my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,

Your kid.

I am guilty of not completely appreciating gifts that have been given to me freely and sit visibly in front of me as I stare past them thinking about something meaningless. It’s like when I go walking down the beach and I look at all the huge beautiful houses and think how cool it would be to live there. Then I chastise myself and turn the other direction and remember that the most beautiful thing in my view is the vast ocean, sky, and beach. The houses are going to get knocked down some day but the gifts of warm sand and cool water and dolphins jumping—those are God’s gifts—all free and all perfectly lovely.

I’m thinking about gifts today because last year on this day—a seemingly normal uncelebrated day on the calendar—my brother invited me up to his house in MD to spend the day with him and the kids. Why? No reason, we just hadn’t seen each other in awhile and wanted to spend some time together. There was no agenda and no special events planned. So I went up there and cooked a rice krispy house with the boys that turned out so bad we laughed, took some photos, and proclaimed it a “krispy fail. “

Later we decided to go to a movie. The Lorax was playing and after we laughed at how the kids could memorize every line in the movie but couldn’t remember their homework assignments for the next day. As Greg put it, “If only they would use their powers for good.”

I remember that normal, lazy but fun day very well because it was a gift from God. God gave me that last day with my brother before he died the next week. We spent the day talking about a lot of things and just enjoying our friendship and our family. I will always cherish the memories of that day and thank God for letting me have those precious moments with Greg and the kids.

It sounds cliché when people say things about living life to the fullest and appreciating the moments you have with loved ones, but nevertheless it is true. Just listening to jokes and stories, hanging out and enjoying some fresh air or a warm fire, taking a walk, watching a movie, or playing a game—it’s all precious time spent that lets us be present in each other’s lives. I wish I could spend more time with Greg’s kids like we used to but I’ll let God be in control of the timetable on that one.

In the meantime, I’ll remember that day always. Especially when I go into work each day. Last year my coworkers made these decorations that reminded me of the Lorax trees, and they hang all over our office. At first I was sad each morning when I walked in and saw them and was reminded of my loss. Now I just see the pretty paper flowers and remember the gift God gave me and I’m thankful.

"Rice Krispy Fail"

“Rice Krispy Fail”

Milestones mark our time. I’m not sure why we mark time like that—maybe to organize our lives, remember important life-changing events, or because we need to put something in perspective? Sometimes that may be good—like giving parents a sense of how and what lessons to teach their children (e.g., financial responsibility in high school vs. when they are 40). Sometimes I think it’s not so good—expecting to achieve certain goals because you have reached a certain time in your life.

I’m just saying, time is weird and it’s “relative.” For me, the past six months have been sad and stressful. There have been moments of love and laughter and hope as well. But the time since my brother passed seems like an eternity and yesterday at the same time. As I arrive at a milestone, or pass by a place where we made a fun memory, or come to a day we celebrated during the year, the grief comes back like a truck that hits me all over again.

I’ve been told by many who have lost loved ones that this grief period goes on for quite awhile. I guess that’s so we remember how precious life is and how important our loved ones are. I really miss my family and the fun things we’d do together on weekends, but I hope with time that they (and me) can heal and remember Greg without crying too hard. Seriously, I really should buy stock in Kleenex.

Well, yesterday was an anniversary of September 11 and today I am thinking about my family and my brother, and my friends who are also grieving or facing a big challenge. But I don’t want you to leave this blog feeling all boo—yucky and pathetically sad. So, I’ll leave you with something to hopefully make you smile and know that “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (A Time for Everthing)

When life gets busy I tend to ignore things I need to do. Like posting to this blog. I can’t seem to find time to write and do all the things I want to do. Having been on the losing side of the recession, I am always very grateful to be employed, but too much of a good thing can have its downside. Like stress and fatigue. Add on to that physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, getting back into exercising, paying more attention to the Grendel dog who is showing his displeasure at being shunned by peeing in my basement, cleaning up after said incidents, and scrapbooking the past two and half years, and you’ve got reasons galore to not write on the blog.

I always say that people make priorities with their time. When you haven’t seen someone in awhile and you say you should get together (you know what I’m talking about), the truth is, you can see them—you just need to make it a priority. That’s not to say that all my wonderful friends are not priorities—they definitely get lots of “mind time”—that is I think of them often. And luckily I have been able to see some good friends recently—at the beach and up in Pennsylvania, here at home, and occasionally during the week. But I have to say that spending time with my family last weekend was a highlight. It was a cold, rainy day but we managed to have loads of fun. As much fun as I have with friends and co-workers, there was something really fun about our family time together. It’s precious and I thank God for the blessings he has bestowed on us. I’ve been thinking even more about that lately as several friends have lost loved ones in the past week or two.

One of the things I really like about my nieces and nephews is how they can enjoy time with us without having to play video games or spend a lot of money. We spent a small sum on some pumpkins and then the creativity of these junior artists took over as they carved their masterpieces. Each one of them had something funny and creative in mind for their Halloween projects. My little neighbor Cayden and his mama Tracie stopped by to help me carve my Cyclops pumpkin.

It’s the small things that count. The time spent with loved ones is precious. Through all the stress, the leg pain, the errands and chores, and travel for work, what I remember of this fall season are the days I’ve been able to spend with family and friends. A walk today with a friend, a block party, a weekend shopping with the girls, carving pumpkins, sitting on the sand getting the last of the summer rays—it’s been great.

Now that I’ve managed to get the neighborhood kids to toss my pumpkin in the woods (with great fanfare), it’s on to winter. What will the next adventure be? Don’t know yet but I’m sure something fun will happen with all these wonderful friends and family members!

I’m almost done scrapbooking, so maybe some interesting blog posts will crop up. Or maybe I need to get busy writing that novel. Or, maybe actually watching the dang Netflix video that’s been sitting on my TV for three weeks. Hmmm, so much to do, so little time. What’s keeping you busy these days? How do you decide what to do and what not to do? Anyone want to come clean my house? No? Okay, just come over and we’ll get started on the gingerbread house and holiday cookies! Happy fall!