Tomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again” and after my trip to Michigan last month the literal meaning of that title hit me hard. If you have been following my story, you know I grew up in a small town in Michigan. In August I flew home to go to my sister Janet’s memorial service.
It was a somber trip dotted with memory lane moments and visits with old friends and family. I stayed at my sister Linda and her husband George’s 40-acre country home and we spent a lot of time sitting on her porch chatting.
On the day of the memorial, we headed towards Lake Michigan to join our family for Janet’s service. As I sat in the passenger seat looking out at the countryside rolling by, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.
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 started writing this post about five times now and couldn’t seem to get past the first few lines. Forgive me if I ramble or it seems disjointed.
The last six weeks have been filled with so many highs and lows, I can hardly keep it all straight. In June, I was riding roller coasters with my granddaughters in Legoland and Sea World laughing and have a great time.
I didn’t realize at the time that my own personal roller coaster ride was just starting.
After last month’s scare over the health of my niece and sister, I started July with a renewed sense of purpose to return to my optimum health. I did a little research and learned a bit about insulin resistance and found that I hit all the markers for it.
So on July 1st I tweaked my diet to help my body
regulate insulin better.
Everything was going great until July 4th, and no I didn’t eat hot dogs and potato salad and blow my diet. Instead, we experienced the biggest earthquake southern California has had in 20 years. That was until July 5th when a bigger one hit.
Birthday parties are a lot of fun and a lot of work. I have known for a long time that I wanted a big birthday party to celebrate my 60th year, and it turned out to be more than I could have hoped for.
Everyone pitched in to create exactly what I dreamed of, and friends and family who couldn’t attend made sure I felt loved and honored as well.
National Tartan Day was Saturday, April 6th, which was also my mother’s and younger brother’s birthdays, so I am a little late to the party. But I can’t pass up the opportunity to share a post about this day and its past.
History tells us it was April 6, 1320, when The Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed. Interestingly, our own declaration of independence was modeled after that very document with nearly half the signers being of Scottish descent.
It wasn’t until 1998 that the U.S. Senate made April 6th
National Tartan Day and the day is now celebrated throughout the country.
After saying yes to John’s proposal, we both felt like we had finally arrived. The last two years had been quite the ride and we were ready to begin this new chapter of our lives together.
It was exciting to share the news with John’s family, but I was fretting about telling mine. How do I tell them I am getting married yet again? I made John promise to keep the secret from his family but everyone who was close to me knew the truth.
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.
When John and I got the news his sentence would be community service, we were overjoyed. Over the coming months, we worked side by side at the Boys & Girls Club repainting interiors, working with the kids and helping out with special money raising events.
I had been a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club before, and it was a natural fit to pick that charity to help. John was in his element as a natural Mr. Fix-it and was happy to help out an organization in need.
When John finally asked me to be his girlfriend in March 2012, I thought everything would be so much smoother for us from then on. After the last eight months of just friends to quasi dating I was sure things would settle down.
And they did, for a while.
The very first thing he did was to introduce me to his family. John wanted me to meet his Mom. She lived just 25 miles from the little town where I was born, and had never been back to since leaving with my family at age two.
Thirty-five years ago today, I woke up at 6am and it
Just like the book said, the very first sign of ‘delivery day’ came, and I knew I would be meeting my first child that day.
Everything went like clockwork and by 2pm his father and I
headed to the hospital. And at just before 5pm we met our son for the very
Adam was born on Dec. 30th and I took him home on
Dec. 31st…New Year’s Eve. Only he wasn’t Adam then. We had named him
Christopher Adam, but when I got home and looked down at his little face, I
started crying and said, “His name isn’t Christopher!”
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
On March 21, 2012 John asked me to be his “girlfriend”. I had no idea what that even meant to him.
I’ve used the term “girlfriend” casually and never thought of what it meant to anyone else. To John it was a big deal. It was a step towards “forever” and his experience with forever wasn’t a good one.
I’d met John eight months earlier, and I can say that the best thing that ever happened to us…for us… was the fact that we became friends first. Once the pressure of the possibility of a romantic relationship was taken off the table, we both relaxed and stopped acting like peacocks looking for a mate.
There was no need to try to impress the other in hopes of “pick me”. Continue reading
Yesterday I wrote about growing up in Michigan and how we spent most of our time outside.
I also mentioned because of that experience, I wanted to be sure my kids had the same opportunity.
When I got pregnant with our first son, my husband was still in school. We lived in a townhouse near campus and it was fine. By the time our boy was six months old, we’d moved back to Oregon and found a rental in town.
It wasn’t until after our second son was born that I started to remember my own childhood, and what it was like to grow up on a farm. I had married a city boy, and I wasn’t sure he would want to move into the country.
We learn how to be women from our moms, or at least a mother figure.
So we watch them closely and subconsciously put each act or word into columns of either, “This is good advice to live by and pass on,” or “No way do I believe this and I am so not going to do this to my kids.”
There are probably a lot of other columns too, but those two stand out the most for me.
I learned how to be a woman by watching my mom. Which is probably why I’m not a girly girl. She didn’t wear makeup or dress in pretty clothes. And she lived in “practical shoes” and flip-flops.
I think she made most of her dresses. You’ll recall I said she only wore dresses, even as a farm-woman, right? I have to wonder if her mom wore dresses too. But I can’t recall much about my grandmother.
My mom learned how to be a woman from her mother too. It’s passed down from one generation to the next with varying degrees of changes for each of us. 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