Tag Archives: love

Gratitude and the New Year

gratitude jar

As our family prepares to opens the gratitude jar to usher out 2014 and welcome in 2015 I realize that many families (three of which I am acutely aware) are mourning the loss of a family member (two are mourning the loss of a child and sibling, the other a father and husband) at this time of year. It occurred to me that as we embark on the newness of a shiny new year these folks may view it differently. Each passing moment is one that puts them farther away from their loved one. They will, on Thursday, be entering into a year that their loved one has never (and will never) inhabited. That has got to be daunting.

In reading the book, “Fearless” I realize that the fear of being forgotten or thought of us inconsequential is a universal one. We all matter. God made each and every one of us because there wasn’t another on Earth who could take our place and be in our stead.

We each have a divine purpose and role to play in this world. Some are called to be here longer than others. This is all in God’s time which, invariably, is not our time.

The thing I will do is pray for these families to know peace and to find comfort in sharing memories, enjoying pictures and telling stories about their loved ones. I will tell stories that I know will continue these people’s legacies.

As my dear father always reminded us, we all have an invisible tattoo in the middle of our foreheads that reads, “Make me feel important.”

You matter, Tommy, David and Courtney, and will be remembered by those who knew you and some who just knew of you. You are all important to many more that you ever would have realized. Happy New Year to you all.

Journey

motherduck

The day before yesterday, I drove up to NJ from VA to take our mom to the nursing home where she will be staying from now on. She has been living with our oldest sister for part of the time since our dad died a year and a half ago. He was her primary caregiver.

We sisters were all discussing, this weekend, how it feels as though the older generation (of which both our parents were the only remaining sibling, with two sisters-in-law left on my dad’s side) is already gone and how that platform has already fully collapsed onto ours…making our generation the oldest guys standing. It’s a surreal feeling in that we are now the top of the heap. And yet, our mother is still here…sort of. The curtain has been drawn on her life, somewhat. She is still here to talk to, hug and see, sort of. But, yet, she’s gone in so many ways, too.

When I went to pick her up on Saturday she didn’t know who I was. She kept asking me things like, “Are you going to meet your mother?” and “Where do I know you from?” which can be approached either with a sense of humor or some patience with some tears sprinkled in…or both.

I have to say, when she first looked at me with the ‘Are you kidding around with me?’ look on her face when I told her I was her daughter, it felt as though a thoroughbred had kicked me in the chest. Upon relating this to my middle sister she responded wisely, “Yeah, it’s different when she forgets someone else. When it’s you…ugh.” True that.

When we got to the nursing home, I unpacked the chicken sandwiches and drinks I had picked up at Wendy’s drive thru on the way over (a nod to Dad) and positioned her in a wheelchair outside so we could enjoy the breezes and fresh air. There was a man sitting outside with his stepdaughter and they were giving me pointers on the wheelchair’s operation and where and how to lock the wheels, etc. We chatted a bit about the weather and politics and I realized that 7 months earlier Mother would have loved to chat about the ‘folks in Washington’ with this like-minded individual. Yet, today, she didn’t even know I was one of her chicks. Dear Irony, You stink. Love, Me.

As I was leaving the building with tears streaming down my cheeks, I felt compelled to report to the nurses and aides that I couldn’t say goodbye. I told her I was going to the restroom and just…left. It felt like I was abandoning her and yet I knew that this was the best thing for her. She had already been in a daughter’s home with an aide or two (at times) and was too much too handle. But, it still feels cruel.

It makes me wonder why God allows this, but I really think that she is an instrument in his plan to teach the rest of us lessons on patience, acceptance, love, grieving, loss and appreciation for what is. Because you know what? It is what it is. And as my daughter’s 7-year-old friend says, “You get what you get.”

I called Mother today and she knew who I was, asked to speak to my daughter by name and even waxed eloquent (one of her favorite phrases) about how wonderful the ladies in the place were being to her. It’s the little gifts we need to savor and tuck away. Thank you, Mother, for all the countless lessons you’ve taught us and continue to. I love you. We all do.

Nine Eleven

I have the luxury of being able to contemplate this day without having to try to remember the face of a loved one which is fading with each passing day. I haven’t lost a loved one in the aftermath of that day on a desert battlefield. I have the luxury of wondering what the best way to commemorate is.

I, like so many of us, have the memory of that day, and where I was on that clear September morning.

Watching those news reports, reading the stories of those lost.  Many of us have done this year after year in the decade since.

This was the first year that I was able to find some comfort in the stories of those people who exemplified heroism and were the picture of an American.  The stores of those who outshine the ugliness and hatred that was trying to win out extinguishes just a bit of the negativity and that is a victory.  The loyalty and love that people feel for our military members is heartwarming.

I most admire those people who can look at a horrendous experience and glean some nugget from it that is hope filled or at least not the ugliest possible view.  As my initial disclaimer announced…I have that luxury.  I’m not saying everyone can do that.  I’m just sharing what I have found in the years since the  day that changed our nation.

Grace under pressure is the phrase that comes to my mind in the time following the events on September 11th and the search for stories of winners since is what I seek out.

What are your thoughts on the media coverage and the ways people have chosen to remember and honor any and all affected by the events of that day?

I have an idea!

For anyone looking for a way to fall in love with your husband all over again, take heart. I just figured it out. Mine just returned from doing one of the most appreciated jobs (at least by me and those closest to me) in Afghanistan. He was there for a bit of time (the actual amount does not matter for this particular ‘recipe’s’ purposes).

And, now, since his return, I have been able watch him interact with our marvelous nearly 4-year-old daughter and I proceed (on a daily basis, mind you) to fall in love with him all over again. He is clearly besotted with her. And the reverse can also be said. He’s a hero for our nation and to his daughter, too (not to mention me).

Now, I know this won’t be for everyone, but it is just an ‘upside’ to something that can sometimes take a toll on families and I wanted to share it with you all.

Competition: With Self or Others?

This came to me in the middle of the night last night, but I didn’t make it up to the computer until now.  Lately a topic which has always intrigued me is resurfacing.  Some people tend to compete only (or at least mainly) with others.   Keeping up with the Joneses best characterizes this personality type.  Then there is the group of people who tend to compete with themselves and their last “bests”. 

In examining people I know fairly well, initially there seemed to be a correlation with birth order, but not  having done a truly scientific examination it didn’t hold up too well to scrutiny. 

 Some of this contemplation was brought up by a discussion I was a part of at book club recently.   It was furthered by the book I am currently reading (along with thousands of you out there no doubt) … Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  http://elizabethgilbert.com/eatpraylove.htm  She really makes a person think.  Even if you can’t identify with the details of her life, it’s the overall structure of the questions that most of us struggle with at some point in life. 

It seems to me that the people who compete with themselves are more relaxed (not to be read less disciplined).  They just don’t seem as tightly wound as the others.    Just one woman’s observation.