We moved out of our apartment in Santa Barbara last weekend.
Well, mostly out. There are still a few things at the old place and it needs to
be cleaned up, so a part of me is still there.
When we moved from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, I had a
hard time finding a place that would fit our needs. There are only two of us
but I wanted to be sure there would be room for family when they came to visit.
I’ve always wanted the home that my kids and grandkids could
come back to and a one-bedroom apartment wasn’t exactly my dream home. But we
made it work.
I’ve received the call before. You know the one. The “I’m
afraid I’ve got some bad news” call.
When I finally arrived at Adam’s house after a long day of
travel, I was still messaging with my sister, Linda about my day. We sent
several messages back and forth and I told her I arrived safely.
Then she called.
I answered happily, thinking how wonderful it would be to chat with her instead of texting. Only she didn’t sound happy. She had just got off the phone with close friends of our sister Janet and delivered the bad news to me.
I’ve heard it said that a grain of sand can tip the scale,
but in my opinion it is the pile of sand before it that rarely gets the
attention. By the time I reached 40 I felt like I was in a constant struggle to
climb the dune I had created.
Turning 30 was fun and I was sure I had everything figured
out, at least on the outside. I was married with two kids and very content with
my day-to-day life. Things got even better when we bought a little 20-acre farm
on the outskirts of town.
I’ve written many times before that I grew up on a farm, and when my boys were entering grade school I had the strongest desire for them to experience country life. The run-down, cat-infested place we purchased turned out to be the best place to let a couple of boys roam and discover things on their own.
I find it interesting that reaching a certain age holds more significance than other ages. For me, turning 20 was important. I was no longer a teenager and somehow felt more grown-up.
Things quickly fell into place when I moved to Bend, Oregon. I found a great job working for someone who would end up being a life-long friend, I had a nice apartment and best of all I had a fun convertible sports car.
I remember thinking when my oldest son turned 10, in the same amount of time he will be a man. The decade between 10 and 20 holds so many changes, and I was no exception to the rule.
I have shared before that my mom died when I was 11, and that I think of my life as “before she died” and “after she died”. The few years after her death were some of my hardest.
Not only was I dealing with the loss of my mother but by 12 my period started and my emotions were all over the board. I was either completely lost in thought or crying.
Puberty can be hell for so many of us and my personal experience was compounded by loss and sorrow. Worst of all, about the only thing I knew about having a period was I had to use those giant pads from the 1960’s my mom had used.
When John went back home to get me clean clothes after my accident, he gathered my things and sat outside for a few moments. He told me he was so proud of me and how gracefully I handled the situation and that he sang, “Amazing Grace” for me.
That is how he came to the title of this post.
When I was 10, my Aunt came to live with us.
That may not seem like a big deal; but since my family is from Ireland, it meant she had to travel about five thousand miles to do so.
Yes, I know, you hear so many of us touting that it’s wonderful and amazing and enlightening and empowering but in all honesty, I’d take my 20 something year old body, over my 58-year-old body any day.
The other day, I plucked a black hair off my chin that was at least an inch long! First, how did that happen? And secondly, how did I not see it until it was an inch long? I think the biggest reason our near-sightedness gets worse as we age, is so we don’t see that sort of thing on our partner’s face.
Right after John asked me to be his girlfriend, he wrote this column for the newspaper. It is still one of my favorites. (You might want to grab a tissue for this one).
A Love Story
My Mom and Dad were married for a very long time.
And it can happen – when a man has been married for a long time – that he becomes a bit low-key in the ways he shows his wife how special she is to him. After enough years of marriage we guys can misplace our flare for the dramatic, and we can underwhelm when just the opposite is called for.
Upon the approach of my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary I think that might have been where Dad was headed. Not that that would have been an unforgivable thing, just the opposite really. Mom would have been happy with whatever he did – but then she’s like that. She was happy to be married to the man she loved – if he remembered an important date, well, that was icing on the cake. Continue reading
Do you ever wonder what it was like for your parents when they were kids? I don’t think about my dad’s youth as much as I do my mom’s. That’s probably because she was the rule-maker of our home.
And the enforcer too.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think about or care what made her the way she was, I was more concerned with ducking her flip-flop as she tried to swat me with it for not doing what I was told.
But as an adult, I have to wonder what it was like for her growing up in that little farmhouse in Michigan with four brothers and three sisters.
She was born in the spring of 1924, unless you go by what her headstone reads. Not sure how that happened, but it’s off by a year. She was the second child of eight, in a home that would soon be crowded. Continue reading
After John and I had our one and only romantic evening, he was still texting me and sending me his columns, but all of a sudden he didn’t have time to meet for coffee or play tennis or get together at all.
So I got busy with my own life and plans and let John figure out his own issues.
Column 22 – If the Truth Hurts Then Shouldn’t it Come With a Warning Label?
(One of the things Loretta and I had in common was our love of family – we sort of lived for our kids.Continue reading
I know I’m supposed to be over this, and it’s probably silly that I’m not, but I don’t know how to let it go. I’ll try to explain what it’s like, maybe you will be able to understand or relate.
I feel like I’m always on ice. That I’m standing on a frozen lake going about my day. Most of the time, the ice is thick and supports me and I am fine. There are times when I’m skating and happy and laughing. Some of the time, it’s a bit slippery and I fall or lose my balance.
And then every once in a while, the ice cracks and I fall through in an instant. I can’t breath, it’s ice cold and I’m scared to death. A few seconds later I realize the water is only three feet deep and all I have to do is stand up.
That’s when I get embarrassed and feel ashamed that I’ve acted like a child. There’s no need to cry or be afraid, it’s just a little cold water, stand up, you’re fine Loretta.
Two things start to stand out most, as I get closer to 60.
Time and Money
I’m going to run out of time, there’s no getting out of that one. And, will I have enough money to live comfortably during that time? Better yet, what could I do with enough money to help other people?
So, I have a couple of questions for you to ponder:
If you were given a million dollars today with the stipulation that you would have to give up the last ten years of your life, would you do it?
If I could only use one word to describe 1980 it would be: change.
So much happened for me in that year. I turned 21, I lost my brother, Mount St Helen’s erupted, I got married, and I got a new best friend.
I shared with you the story of turning 21 and losing my brother in an early post. Johnny died May 15, 1980, and Mount St. Helen’s erupted May 18th. It was a big deal for most of the country, and especially for those of us close enough to experience some of the ash fallout.
That day was also the 30th birthday of my new best friend, Laurie. She and her husband were close friends of Joseph’s and it was natural for her and I to become friends. What I wasn’t expecting was how close we would become.
Yesterday I shared my memory of my brother’s death.
I never thought about writing about what actually happened to Johnny that day. But for the people who don’t know the story, I figured it wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging.
I have this bin in the garage that is filled with old photos and scrapbooks that I keep digging through to help me remember the stories I post. I month or so ago I found the newspaper clipping from Johnny’s death.
May 15, 1980 was a bright sunny Thursday in Bend. We had just returned from Lake Tahoe earlier that week and were still smiling and talking about the fun time we’d had as we both got ready for work.
Joseph and I decided to meet back at home to have lunch together, and as lunchtime rolled around I raced home. I made sandwiches and as I was coming around the corner from the kitchen with my plate and soda in hand, the phone rang.
I put my 7up down and answered the call with my free hand. The voice on the other end was barely recognizable. I stood there listening to the words that were coming through the telephone line and holding the plate with my sandwich on it, not being able to comprehend what I was hearing.
The other day I shared a blog post called A Look Inside. I wrote about feeling off that day, and shared that I spent the day trying to understand why. I got a lot of very nice feedback on it, and several people shared some of their off moments with me too.
I like that so many people have commented and shown support. And I’m using several different platforms to share my blog, in hopes to reach people who can either relate, or just find my stories interesting.
I am also learning as I go, which is sort of the point of the blog. You know, reach 60 and be wise, healthy, happy and content. One thing I’m learning is that there is a bias towards sharing one emotion: Happiness.