Sunday, August 24, 2008

In a moment

Good news and bad news.

First, the (what I consider to be) good news. I'm just getting older apparently. My MRI showed degeneration....some in the chest wall and some in the spine....I haven't done a follow up yet because of the bad news.

My Uncle T passed away. He was 52 and so much more of a brother than an uncle. His daughter turned 15 the next day. His wife is my age.

One week ago today my uncle passed away. I spent the night before at hospice. The only way to get my dad, aunts and other uncle to go to bed was to promise I would sit and watch him. I watched him breathe, stop breathing (be still my heart, too) and continue breathing. I counted each breath. It was sort of noisy and shallow until about 4 a.m. and then became very shallow. I left around noonish and came and went until that evening, when exhaustion overcame me and a massive headache set in. Then I went home and took some medicine and laid down. Even after days of no sleep I still could not sleep. My mind was racing, memories were making it difficult to stop crying. Just as I was about to drift off the phone rang. The family was asked to return. I had R drive me as I had taken a sleeping pill. When I got there he was gone. Uncle B met me at the door and told me that he had gone to heaven. I had to see him. We gathered as a family around him and talked a bit then went to the chapel to meet with hospice. We prayed and cried. It was too early. We weren't ready for him to go. We were, however, relieved to know that he was no longer suffering because one of his greatest fears was to linger like that, in a coma, with his daughter and wife and 95 year old father watching.

My memories of Uncle T go so far back that I cannot remember not knowing him. There was one house between my grandparents house and ours for most of my growing up years. Uncle T was still living at home most of that time, too. He had a purple bedroom which I imitated in a lavender shade. He had eight tracks which he let me listen to anytime. My favorite was Rod Stewart. I learned how to play some of Rod Stewart's songs on his guitar.

He walked a lot and I joined him when I saw him. He drove me around whenever I asked and he always had a "cool" car. He treated me like a friend, a sister and a niece. He loved me and I loved him.

He was the baby of the six children my grandparents had. My grandmother passed away the day I went into labor with Rae. As a matter of fact, I went into labor just hours after I was told she passed away. My grandmother would not have done well watching my uncle die. I am glad she was already in heaven waiting for him. I know they are having a great time. Wonder if they have circus peanuts in heaven?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

fleeting moments

None of us know how long we have.

Over a decade ago, on the Friday before Mother's day-I was told I might die or the alternative, I would need a heart transplant. Maybe one day I'll tell the long version but the shorter one is that obviously neither happened. For many, many years I was feeling incredibly good. I had a whole new perspective on life and felt like a cat who was given another life. Lately things have not been so great but I thought it was just aging (yes, I'm officially middle aged). However, last week I went to the doctor over something very minor and am now facing a brain MRI. So far we are not hearing such good things. I hope to come back and change this post in less than a week.

None of us know how long we have.

We recently lost a loved one. I wish I had known him better but I knew enough to confirm my belief that people should not all be made like so many cookies-with cookie cutters. How boring that would be!

I do not define my spiritual beliefs with a denomination affiliation but I believe in God. For many years I thought I had to earn God's love. I viewed God as a big, rather strict, Father in the sky who was mostly unhappy with me. That has changed completely. God is LOVING. I don't claim to know it all, as often and as much as I have read the Bible, I just basically have a confession: I really don't get it. I choose to live and love completely and try hard not to intentionally hurt another person.

So back to the story. I am so thankful that the doctor's prognosis was wrong and I didn't die but many people that I love did. My nephew died before he turned one. Both of my grandmothers passed away. I lost an old boyfriend (and dear friend) in a plane accident.

Get to know the people in your lives that you have been thinking are too different or that their lives are too different from yours-whether it is the church they go to, their social status, their appearance, whatever. We are all human and God loves us ALL. By getting to know them you may learn something. You may find your own world is too "cookie cutterish".

If someone has hurt you and you haven't forgiven them, do so now. Give them a chance.

As Marianne Williamson says in her book Return to Love, "
Forgiveness is the key to inner peace because it is the mental technique by which our thoughts are transformed from fear to love." Choose love.

None of us know how long we have to live.

None of us know how long the people we love have to live.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

this old house

Here is our lifelong project-or unless we go crazy before that. It was built in 1835 and remained in the same family- generation after generation - until we bought it. I did briefly meet the last couple in the family that lived here and loved them!

The wife was the one whose family had always owned it and the husband grew up in the house my ex-husband and I were renovating when we first moved. They stopped by one day and requested a little look around "to remember". The wife told me where they lived.
So almost a decade later when R and I were looking at houses we drove through the city and saw this house for sale.

We knew right away that this was the best house for us. I asked the realtor about the couple and she confirmed that it was indeed the same couple. Sadly they passed away and their children could not move back here so sold it to us. They expressed their pleasure that we wanted it so badly and that it had some sentimental value to me as well...that I had even met their parents.
There is a painting of the house (I'll post a picture another day) that I saw the first day, and although no one can tell me who actually painted it, in the lower right hand corner is my birth month and birth year. That actually gave me chills! I teased R that it was destiny :)

So we have put our blood, sweat and tears into this house and I mean literally. I have had to have stitches from a screwdriver that I accidentally drove through my chin while working on the kitchen window shutters. I pulled the tool out myself but had to have my teeth and chin worked on. Then I landed in the hospital with what they believe was bacterial meningitis after scraping tar off of the floor (they used it to hold down vinyl tile) . Always wear a mask, always wear a mask and always wear a mask. We've found snake skins, dogs in our cellar (live ones thankfully), heard horror stories about a caretaker who lived here who died in the house and whose body was found days later, etc. But everyone in this area loves this house and we often hear how much it means to people for us to be fixing it up. We love it, too...when we aren't pulling our hair out over it!

Monday, August 11, 2008

i have this need to tell you...

I stayed home with my children for a very long time. As a matter of fact, we had the amazing chance to live a very "wholesome" life in the middle of the Mennonite community in a house built by Mennonites! They taught me how to make bread from scratch, can fruits and vegies, attempted to teach me how to sew (not a pretty sight, I'm very clumsy) and so many things that we loved. That was quite amazing because well, I will never live down what I told my parents when they told me I needed to learn how to cook. I said, "No, I will eat out all of the time." Yeah. And three decades later I still sometimes get teased about it. Anyway, we loved living there. The kids listened to the radio instead of watching television (!), they played outside in a beautiful yard with fruit trees. I even hung the clothes out to dry (still had a dryer) and they ran in and out of the clean smelling sheets. Then we moved.

Eventually I went to work for regular paychecks again. My first marriage ended around the same time so all of the things that I had thought would happen (happily ever after, be "home" forever, etc.) didn't work out.

When my kids were little I never really thought of my life as "missing" anything. I did not dream of anything "glamorous" but opportunities did present themselves. I can honestly say that there is NOTHING I love more than my family. There isn't an experience on this planet that I feel I "missed" by being with my children full-time BUT during the time when I worked "outside the home" I missed many moments with them! Yes, it was necessary. Yes, it may be necessary again. I am not passing any judgments on anyone else. I can only speak for myself. I am so glad to see them more now! I still "work" but for myself. Eventually that may change back. I haven't a crystal ball :) However, I have seven children and I am not so good at doing my best as a wife/mother at the end of a very exhausting day (or week when traveling). I like to give THEM my best and it always seemed I was too tired to give much else.

so the flashback....I enjoyed working in offices for a while. I started my first job at the age of 16. I worked for Blue Cross/Blue Shield half of the day. I went to high school in the morning and then rode w/ a friend to work and my Dad picked me up at 5:00. One day we were riding home and a song came on the radio that I didn't even realize that my dad knew. I guess I thought he couldn't hear "my songs"? But he said, "Listen to these lyrics and always remember this." He told me how important it was for a mother to be a mother....and my dad KNEW. He was the principal of an alternative school. I had wonderful parenting role models-my mother and my grandmothers and my father.

Why do I remember this? My dad was and is one of those people who never said/say a whole lot because he typically thinks through what he is going to say first. Wouldn't it be GREAT if we all did that? So anyway, I remember just about everything that he told me. Unfortunately I didn't always follow his sage advice. What he was saying is that there is nothing in life that is more important than family...nothing the "world" holds and can give that compares to real love! Here is the link:

Never Been To Me

Sunday, August 10, 2008


This is our baby, "Rae". She will soon be six years old. She has an uncanny ability to learn lyrics and melodies, loves to play the wii, loves to play with her Pokemon figures and stuffed animals (especially Webkinz) and be at home and is very secure and happy in all of our love!

Every child is a miracle.


This is "Iz". Again, her personality shows in this picture and she is going to say "MOM! why did you use that one?". Well, it shows her, um, true colors :). She's fun, dramatic (and I mean that in a good way)...and quickly becoming my " back up memory". She helps me attempt to be organized! She loves photography, animals and socializing! She is also very bright (notice they all are, well, they are, what can I say?)...


Here is my fifth child and third son, "JS". A very interesting fact about JS is that he is the 5th child born on the 5th day of the month at 5:45 a.m., weighing 5 lbs 15 oz in room 5!!! At the rate he is growing, I'll bet he is going to be 6'5"!

JS is also very inquisitive and talented. He recently taught himself how to play the keyboard. He prints out very complicated musical pieces and then learns them on his own or with a little help from a friend of his!

He is also very helpful, especially with computers!


This is JJ, now 16 years old, clowning around when we did family pictures last year. I chose this picture because it shows his personality. He likes to find the humor in life but is motivated, caring, a hard worker and inquisitive. Many times he is the first to volunteer to help!

First Born Son-"MK"

This is my oldest son. He just graduated from high school. "MK" has a gift of being super intuitive. He can read my mood with a glance and others as well. He is very kind, great with computers (especially games :)...great with people and wise beyond his years.

Second Daughter-"Ms"

My second born daughter (I'll call her Ms) is very sweet as well. She is also smart, loving and "industrious"---a clue to her name because it is actually the meaning!

My oldest-"Lnz"

This is my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. She'll graduate from college this year! She's very mature, insightful, responsible and practical. We love her boyfriend, too! :)

My husband

Right: My husband and youngest daughter helping Granddaddy (my husband's father) walk after his stroke in August 2004.....

My husband, whom I'll call "R", is very intelligent, has a great sense of humor and is very, very dependable which gives all of us a sense of security that is rare. He is an Eagle Scout and is the assistant scout leader in our sons' scout troop.


I am a fanatic. I love new words, looking up the meanings, and adding to our (mine and my children's) vocabulary lists. How do you define yourself?

Most people define themselves by their career or occupation or their religion or their social class or economic status or who knows?....But what really matters? Well, there is an easy way to figure that one out. In your mind...go to your death bed, pretend it is today or tomorrow and ask yourself what you would or would not regret. What truly matters? I say: family.

As a mother I find these acronyms humorous: SAHM-stay at home mom; WAHM-work at home mom; WOHM-work outside the home mom...and I am sure there are many others I am not aware of. I find those humorous NOW but not always. There were the times when friends (who were WOHM when I was a SAHM even though I didn't stay at home and worked non-stop-just not for pay)...back to the point.."friends" said things like "must be nice to stay home and bake cookies all day". What?? Who bakes cookies all day? The keebler elves? But I was, in truth, defensive. And so were they. Later on in life I had to "go" to work, for pay. I remember running errands on my lunch hour and seeing moms with little children and thinking, how lucky, if they get to spend the whole day with their child/children, how great that is! I sometimes stopped them and told them. I also told them what I believe, that there is NOTHING in life more important than being there. Right there...

I consider myself to fit into all of those categories (SAHM, WAHM, WOHM) but the key word is "MOM". I chose to be a mom. My children did not choose to be brought into this world. They are the best gifts in the world to me.

When our daughter was born prematurely and with reflux, we were suffering from sleep deprivation in a big way. My husband and I were taking it out on each other by being crabby, impatient and basically, not very loving. But one day when he was at his wit's end with me and my hormonal ups and downs-having just given birth after all- he looked down at our sleeping (peacefully at that moment) daughter and said, "This little baby is the best gift anyone has ever given to me." I don't know if he remembers that, but I always will.

Give a gift today. Give yourself. Give your love. Give it to your spouse or your child(ren) or to your parent, sibling, friend, grandparent, cousin, etc.! Better yet, give to all of them! Don't forget to love yourself, too!


It is just a fact that blogs tend to be narcissistic. Of course we are writing about ourselves and our lives.

I want this blog to help others realize and appreciate the gift that we all have-time. None of us know how much time we have. We may have decades or years or merely months. But time is a gift....a gift of the present...And what is the greatest gift we can GIVE? To be present for those we love and who love and need us.