I have been waiting to write about this until I had several weeks under my belt. If you have been following my journey, you know that I started this blog just over two years ago.
My two-year anniversary was July 14, 2019 – the same day my
sister died of a heart attack.
When I started my blog it was with the intention of sharing my authentic self and being honest, especially with myself. It started with a focus on my health and morphed into telling my story along the way.
But my health has been a steady focus from the beginning.
Driving away from the old farmhouse I grew up in, I was pensive and melancholy. I knew the place was rundown, but to walk into the now-abandoned shack that held so many memories was such a letdown. I wanted to find a way to shake my sense of unease.
Another place that holds wonderful memories growing up was Lake Michigan, and Silver Lake to be specific. On my way, I drove through my hometown of Hart that was just a mile or so from our farm.
Making my way past Hart Lake, I turned left towards the cemetery where my mother was buried. I stopped to see her little headstone with the wrong birth year on it. I have always wondered what the story is behind the incorrect headstone that marks her grave.
It never seemed to bother any of us, because that grave wasn’t her home it was just a marker with her name on it.
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’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 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.
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.
Have you ever seen the movie, “Runaway Bride” with Julia Roberts? While I can’t relate to her running at the altar, I can relate to the fact that she didn’t know who she was and kept modeling her behavior after whichever man she was with at the time.
There is a scene in the movie when her tormenter (the next guy) says she doesn’t even know how she likes her eggs because she just orders whatever her guy orders. I may have known exactly how I liked my eggs, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of who I was or more importantly what I wanted.
At 40, I was divorced and in a relationship with a saddle maker. So of course, I was a saddle maker too. He happened to be half Native American, and I jumped in headlong learning everything I could about my native heritage.
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.
I was born in 1959 in a little town in Northern California. While that is probably not very significant, the fact that I was my mother’s ninth child, my father’s tenth child and my parents’ fifth child together is significant. I know, confusing right?
From the moment I can remember anything about my life, I was
surrounded by lots of people. Not only did I have a bunch of siblings but I
also had many cousins. There was always someone to play with.
My parents were hardworking people who made their living off the land.
As a matter of fact, my father’s occupation is on my birth certificate. Ranch hand. I find it interesting that my dad’s profession was necessary on my birth certificate. In a way, I have been “classed” from the beginning.
By the time we reach 50 years old, most of us are pretty set in our ways. We know what we like and don’t like, we know just how things should be done and we certainly don’t need someone else mucking things up in our lives.
So getting married after 50 can have some challenges, especially for those of us who like to do things our own way.
The day after our wedding we left our hotel in San Francisco to go explore the city. It was a beautiful spring day, and we were excited to spend the day together as husband and wife.
Our wedding was everything we hoped it to be, and we were still on a love-high we wanted to bask in for as long as possible.
My phone rang as we stepped out onto the sidewalk and I answered immediately. My son and daughter-in-law were due to have daughter number two any day, and we were happily assigned to take care of daughter number one while they were at the hospital.
John and I got married on a Monday afternoon at San Francisco City Hall. There was no set-up or tear-down of decorations or chairs. There were no arches adorned with greenery and flowers. We didn’t have a rehearsal dinner because there was nothing to rehearse.
Instead we met John’s family and my best friend and her
husband at City Hall at 3:30 in the afternoon on March 13, 2013 and stood
before Judge Betty in the magnificent rotunda and both said “I do.”
We found a beautiful boutique hotel in San Francisco called Hotel Majestic. I thought it was a fitting tribute to our wedding at City Hall with its turn of the century Edwardian architecture.
I felt like royalty walking through the doors into the marble
tiled lobby. This beautiful old hotel was built in 1902 and is one of the few
buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires that
devastated so much of this amazing city.
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 asked me to marry him, the first word out of my mouth was “No.” The look of surprise on his face made me want to take it back. The poor guy was standing on a big boulder holding my hands and asking me a question he thought he would never ask anyone again.
But I had made a promise to myself that John didn’t know
I was just a few months shy of 54, and life had thrown me some curveballs when it came to romance and especially marriage. If you have been reading my blog, you know this was not my first proposal…or even second.