Love Is Stronger Than Death- Song of Solomon 8:6

Love Is Stronger Than Death- Song of Solomon 8:6

Cemetery Panorama

This is a portion of my extended family gathered at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery to celebrate my step mother Adele Pearl Shaheen’s 100 years of life and love.  My siblings, their spouses, their children and their children’s children.  We are a force to be reckoned with.  Adele inherited us when she married my dad half a century ago.  She took it in good stride considering that she didn’t have her own children.  Fully bathed and baptized into instant family, she never complained.

My siblings and I were raised Catholic but we were quick to decide that no priest could give Adele a better send off than we could on our own.  Lord have mercy!  Since most of us had not been to this cemetery in years- not since our brother, our mother and our father were buried- we decided to make this a pilgrimage of sorts.

We began at my brother, Bobby’s grave.  He died at 41 of an invasive brain tumor.  Chris, his wife, did a reading and a reflection and we shared a few “Bobby stories” of which there were many!  We laughed and cried a bit and sang two verses of Amazing Grace- my nephew Nick said “if Obama can do it I can!”- and then moved on to my mom Dorothy’s grave, a few steps up the hill.

I read a blog that I wrote several years ago- 25 Things I Learned from my Mom.  We talked about the gospel that she always hated- the one about Mary and Martha sitting with the disciples (read- the men) at the feet of Jesus.  As the story goes Martha made everyone something to eat and Mary sat and enjoyed hearing what Jesus had to say.  Jesus said that Mary took the better path.  That really pissed my mom off and on the way home from Mass she said “If Jesus wanted lunch he should have gotten in the kitchen and helped to peel the potatoes!”

More laughter.  More tears.  Two more verses of Amazing Grace and thank you to brother Ronnie and his electronic pitch pipe to keep us all in key.

We got in our cars to jettison over to the cremation section of the cemetery, where our dad and step mother, Adele, are buried. (The Catholic Church is adamant about it’s parishioners being buried in a Catholic Cemetery and not scattered over hill and dale where, God forbid, their souls could be intercepted by unearthly forces.)  We quietly discuss the issue of who will you be married to whom in heaven?  Wife #1 or wife #2?  It is a mystery of which we are accustomed- being that we are Catholic.  What cannot be explained is a mystery.  Transubstantiation?  It’s a mystery.  The Virgin birth?  It’s a mystery.  Why priests can’t get married?  It’s a mystery.

Why more priests aren’t in prison?  The ultimate mystery.

I read a little note that I had kept in my bible that Adele wrote to me in 1988 the morning after my dad’s 70th birthday party.  She wrote “I just feel so blessed in this wonderful family and the place you all have created for me in your affection.”  Let it be said that we all appreciated Adele so much.  She loved my dad and made him feel like a king.  It was good to see him so happy.

More prayers, song and remembrances…  and Ronnie sang Adele’s favorite song, Oh Danny Boy.

There were many things we discovered about Adele after my dad died.  She was a college graduate.  She had a brother who died by the name of “Danny”.  She had cancer at 21 and was never able to have children.  So she kept to herself lest she deny a man the privilege of being a father.  She met my dad in her 50’s and walked into a very large and boisterous family that rivaled her peaceful Irish Canadian roots and surprised her with an amoeba-like inclusiveness and tentacles of unconditional love.

My niece Katie and her husband Jason lived with Adele for the past seven years.  Their little boy, Lincoln, grew up with his great grandmother since day one.  Adele and Lincoln fed the birds in the garden in the morning, sparred over all the candy and cookies in the house and occasionally flew drones together in the living room.   My niece looked after Adele, allowing her to live her last years in her own home with all the comforts, including her cat Monté.  (That’s French for Monty.)  And yes-  Adele spoke French as well.

100 years of life…  it’s truly something to celebrate and contemplate.  We gathered after the “ceremony” for food and family bonding.  The cousins went out for an “after-party” to talk some more.  (…probably about us old people and what the heck they are going to do with us when the time comes!)

I’ve had the draft of this blog in my wordpress dashboard for a week or so.  I couldn’t seem to find the right ending. Today my niece, Katie, posted this on her Instagram:

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love.  It’s all the love you want to give but cannot.  All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest.  Grief is just love with no place to go.”  ~Jamie Anderson

 So if we love well, we grieve.  And we take all those tears and lumps and love some more.

And love is stronger than death.

So there you have it.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mother in law, Louise Healy🙏🏼

My mother in law, Louise Healy🙏🏼

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I am writing this on the cusp of the first anniversary of my mother in law’s passing.  This picture was taken in our back yard in Whittier, California on Mother’s Day.  I’m going to guess that I was 35ish and she was 68ish.  My own mother had died five years prior so the two of us were the guests of honor on this day.  She came over looking glamorous and rested and I wrestled three little boys all week, grocery shopped, cleaned the house and made an exquisite brunch for all of us.  I’m not quite sure I liked her in this picture but this well bred obedient Catholic school girl respected her and honored her on this special day.

The definition of mother-in-law in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows: The mother of someone’s husband or wife.  (No mystery here…)  But when I scrolled down on the page there was a question!  “What made you want to look up mother-in-law?”

Mostly the answers had to do with the spelling of mother-in-law and the plural of mother-in-law.  Also why is it called a mother-in-law quarters?  But down near the end of the comments, a woman by the name of Liz Mayott wrote:

“I love my mother-in-law ❤️.”

Ah.. just why do mother-in-laws get such a bad rap?  I’m sorry to report that the Urban Dictionary defines mother-in-law as “a horrible beast”.  And father-in-law as the sainted man who lives with one’s mother-in-law!

Here’s my best guess…  Mother-in-laws have to learn to play second fiddle to mothers.  When each of my three sons was born I wanted nothing more than my mother to come over and cook for us, swaddle our babies and take care of us and I totally let her.  My mother-in-law waited patiently in the wings until she was invited.  Mother-in-laws know their place.

And MY mother-in-law worked it!

First it was the home cooked meal she delivered when I came home from the hospital with my first son.  It was called “Luxury Stew” and it was so delicious and nurturing that I wrote down the recipe to make again.  But it was so much better when she made it.

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Then came the home made blankets.  Beautiful cross stitched kittens on soft cotton batting.  Crocheted pastel coverlets and tiny baby sweaters. The homemade Christmas stockings that I still stuff every year-  now with things like lottery tickets and hand sanitizer and other accoutrements of young men.  And the handmade Christmas ornaments that I swear multiplied in the storage boxes between Decembers!

She wormed her way into my heart.

The last time I visited my mother-in-law was two years ago.  I was 62ish and she was 93ish.  The two of us had learned a lot in the last 25ish years.  Basically, neither of us had changed much but certainly we both had softened in our appreciation for each other. And we had some important things in common that bonded our relationship.

Both of us mothers of three grown sons.

Both of us now mother-in-laws.

(Interesting how the generation gap between a 35ish year old and a 68ish year old can shrink in 25ish or so years.)

I might not have had a lot of good feelings for my mother-in-law, Louise, on that Mother’s Day in my backyard in Whittier, California.  But I hung in there with her.  She kept her boundaries and played second fiddle like all mother-in-laws have to do.  She knew her place with me.  I respected her.  And I grew to love her.  She stole my heart when I was not looking.  I’m sure you won’t find that in any dictionary.

She passed away a year ago on April 16th.  Her sons are planning a celebration of her life this summer as restrictions open up with Covid 19.

It seems appropriate to post a picture here of me and my two beautiful daughter-in-laws.

Nazaneen and Brianna, please forgive me in advance for all my mother-in-law indiscretions!!  😱

 

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Be careful what you wish for…

Be careful what you wish for…

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I’ve had this bumper sticker posted on my electrical box for a couple years now.  New stainless steel refrigerators are no longer magnetized, sadly.  It’s been a motto for me in my personal life and in my work life as well.  I have one on the door of my office for students to see when they come for appointments. But no one has seen this message this year.

This year has been different.  Is this what I was longing for?  Not exactly..

I’m planning a small get together for my son’s 40th birthday and I’m totally out of my wheel house!  I don’t know how to entertain more than three people at a time anymore and the thought of it overwhelms me. Life has become so simple and slow with the onset of Covid19 and a world pandemic.

My days consist of jumping on zoom and meeting with teenaged girls and sitting through sleep inducing zoom faculty meetings.  I clean the house. I put food in the bird feeder outside.  I go to the market.  I read books.  Cook dinner.  Take hikes.  Have a glass of wine and watch episode after episode of Schitt’s Creek.

From sun up to sun down the pattern repeats.  The world has slowed down.

Yesterday I got my second vaccine.  I stood in line in the hot sun for two hours contemplating the plight we’ve all been through- examining the various shapes and sizes of people waiting in line with me- wondering what their year has been like.  As I sat in the after vaccine area for the required 15 minutes, I began to cry- the significance of the event weighing heavy on me- my humanity, my sense of community and how it’s been said over and over “We are all in this together”.

But we were not.  In my work with my students, beginning last March, I heard about parents being laid off.  About food insecurity and financial stressors.  One student and her siblings were helping their parents shop and deliver Instacart  on the weekends in order to make ends meet.  A teacher lost both her parents in the early days of covid before treatment was honed.  The news showed bodies being transported to refrigerated trucks juxtaposed to our then President claiming that the virus was all going to disappear magically.

What a mind fuck…

Today I hiked my favorite loop and contemplated the past year.  I love this hike because it is a four mile trek and it’s impossible for me to get lost.  So I can get lost in my thoughts.  It’s my meditation.  My labyrinth.  I walk and things become clearer.  I walk and I let go of my stress and worries.  I walk and I pray.

Going forward, what do I want to take with me as I emerge from my personal cloud of isolation?

My weekly zoom with my brothers.

More home cooking and less eating out.

Less bullshit and more authenticity with the people I love.

An appreciation for everything I have- not the material things but the intangibles- family, a home, enough to eat, friends and an able body to move forward as I emerge from the quarantine gingerly and carefully.

Next year will be different.  Kinder.  Not so busy.  More intentional.  Let’s continue to remind one another about where we have been and what it was like.  Let’s hold each other accountable to appreciate everything that makes life wonderful or at least bearable.  Let’s not forget what this year has been like for many who didn’t make it through as easily as others.

Let’s continue to meet outdoors for hikes and picnics.  Let’s keep in touch with our now perfected zoom skills.  Let’s remember to quell our busyness and balance our lives with personal relationships and meaningful conversations.  Let’s listen more and talk less.

As we watch Schitt’s Creek episode after episode, my son says to me “Mom, the whole point of this show is that they lost everything and now they live in this shit hole hotel together.  But it’s bringing them together as a family!”  He’s watched all of the seasons already but he’s rewatching them with me.  And we are laughing together out loud!

So apropo and relevant.

Easter Sunday has snuck up on me and instead of traditional Catholic Mass followed by salty ham and a food coma we will be taking an early morning hike and feasting on some fresh eggs from the One Acre Farm in Morgan Hill.  My spiritual life has been less contingent on the church calendar since I’ve been working remotely at my Catholic high school position as a counselor.  There are fewer reminders of Lent and fasting and abstinence, hair shirts and self-flagellation.  I do miss the music and the community.  But I’ve gone inward and found a personal sanctuary of peace and tranquility that has little to do with the rituals of organized religion.

And I like it here.  I think I’ll stay.  I kind of like this slowed down world.  How about you?

 

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Craving God 🔥

Craving God 🔥

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Dale and I were on a hike yesterday and as usual, when I am in motion, I get loose lips.  “I feel guilty.  I’m working from home.  No makeup.  No dress up.  No gas expenditures.  And I’m pulling in a good salary.  So are you.  This shelter in place has been sort of nice for us.  But not for others.  I feel guilty.”

Dale’s response? “It’s the Catholic in you.”

I was grateful for his comment.  He noticed.  Even though my Sunday Mass attendance has been abysmal and at times I can cuss like a sailor.  You can take the girl out of the Catholic but you can’t take the Catholic out of the girl.  Maybe I’m still going to heaven.  Who knows.

On the downhill, Dale wants to run.  I say go ahead.  I’d rather walk.  And walk in silence with this beautiful sky.  It’s Holy Thursday and I am craving God.

It’s true.  I do Catholic everyday.  I work for a Catholic high school.  We pray.  We sing.  We work on being in community.  All the things that are meaningful for me.  But with all the controversy in the Catholic church and my growing concern that women will never be priests- it’s all caught up with me.  Some despair.  Some dissatisfaction.  Some disbelief.  Did Jesus really wash the feet of the apostles?  Did they really nail him to a cross?  Did he really rise from the dead?

I do like to believe that the women were the first to see that the stone had been rolled away at the tomb.  That might be my favorite part of the Easter story.  And Veronica.. how she wiped the face of Jesus and it left an impression of his face on her veil.  I love that..

Later, over a home cooked meal of pot roast and salad with Dale’s favorite dressing, blue cheese, we agree on a news station to watch.  (That’s a challenge for us.. )  PBS is covering how people are practicing their faith during this holy week.  There is a spotlight on the Muslim religion and how they celebrate Ramadan- fasting from dawn till sunset- it’s a time of prayer, giving, and self evaluation.  Prayer together is so essential to this community and not being able to be together in prayer at the mosque is very sad for Muslims.  When they break the fast, there is much celebration and food and people who are not as fortunate are invited and included.  And there is so much joy.

I’m thinking of my own Catholic traditions.  Tonight at 7pm, Holy Thursday services will be streamed from Bellarmine College Prep, the high school my three sons attended.  Regardless of my doubts and my reservations, I want to be on the other side of that screen.

I feel spiritually depleted.

I am craving God 🔥

 

 

 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. ~ Kahlil Gibran, On Marriage

Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. ~ Kahlil Gibran, On Marriage

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Of all the hundreds of wedding pictures taken at Patrick and Nazaneen’s glorious wedding, this one intrigues me the most. Two very intuitive young lovers dancing their first dance as husband and wife.  What is Patrick saying to his beautiful bride?  I wonder…

My father gave me the book “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran when I was a teenager.  I’ve referred to its’ wisdom time and again

when I fell in love

when I got married

when I had children.

I am watching the dance with admiration and the utmost respect.  And maybe just a little bit of envy.  I was so young when I got married- 22 years old.  I knew very little about life and love.  My father told me often that he didn’t think my husband treasured me enough or loved me enough or protected me enough.  I laughed it off, thinking that he was just a jealous dad and he was bitter that some man took me away from him.

But as I have watched these two fall in love and plan for their future I have seen my son very intentionally take his role as a partner, a protector, and a provider.  And I have seen beautiful Nazaneen, as she tenderly takes Patrick’s face in her hands to kiss him, so in love and so devoted to his happiness.  I am certain that they were born to be together.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.  ~ Kahlil Gibran, On Love

There is something so inspiring about a marriage ceremony.  It makes you fall in love all over again.  Not just with someone but with life and living.  It renews one’s faith in the order of the universe.  It makes one believe in good things ahead.  In this time of political strife and climate horrors, people are committing to love.  I believe that it makes a difference.  Maybe Marianne Williamson is right?  Maybe love is the answer.

At the end of their marriage ceremony Patrick took Naz’s hands and in perfect Farsi said these words:

Dooset Daram, Ashegetam, azizam, Ghorboonet Beram.

..at which a gasp/sigh floated up from the guests- at least from the guests who knew Farsi. The rest of us were left with wondering.

What did Patrick say to her?

Amidst the excitement and celebration with family and friends, I forgot to ask Patrick what it meant until weeks later.    He said:

I love you.

I am in love with you, my dear.

I would die for you.

Patrick, Papa would be so proud. ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mandatory Pre-Wedding Mother/Son Lunch #2

Mandatory Pre-Wedding Mother/Son Lunch #2

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Patrick Francis Healy, my “middle child”, my #2 son, is getting married next weekend.

Named after St. Francis of Assisi and my father Edmund Francis Shaheen.  A classic Irish name with a bow to his grandfather, William Healy.  A lover of nature, an artist, a true renaissance man outstanding in his field.

After almost two days of laboring, Patrick was born with his brown eyes wide open to check out the world.  I think he was impressed.  We had a quick snuggle before the nurses whisked him away to the nursery to observe him.  “He’s too quiet”, they said.

In my hospital bed looking out the window at the stars, I couldn’t roll over and get comfortable.  He was still with me.  Safely tucked just under my heart.

My phantom limb.

Once home, Patrick was forced to contend with his two year old brother, Robert, who by the way was NOT quiet or tranquil.  Nonetheless, he almost immediately slept through the night and even when he wasn’t asleep, he would just lie in his crib, taking in his new digs.  His dad and I would look at each other and ask “Where did he come from?”

Robert loved him and would climb into his crib in the morning to talk to him and show him the many stuffed animals adorning.  Their bond has strengthen through the years.  I’ve often drawn a parallel to their lives with the story of the Prodigal Son.  (But that would be an entirely different blog!)

Nothing really ever rattled Patrick. He was happy playing with his GIJoes and reading his books on his own.  That is, until Peter was born and his status was disrupted.  But he quickly adjusted and life became even more fun and interesting with a little brother.

“He’s quiet”.  Those words spoken in the delivery room couldn’t have been more prophetic.  Quiet until he has something to say.  Quiet because there are creative things churning away in his very intuitive mind.

Walking to the park with my three sons after my mother died, Patrick so sweetly chimed  “Wouldn’t it be fun if Sitti was with us?”  He was 3 1/2 years old.

On the anniversary of my mother’s death, I put some of her perfume on just to have her close.  In the kitchen during breakfast Patrick said “You smell like Sitti!”  She had passed 7 years prior, and Patrick still remembered her comforting scent.

When we lived in Portland, we had a roof leak over some built in book shelves.  It rained (go figure..) and my books were ruined.  He helped me pull them off the self and dry them one by one.  “Oh Mom.. your books!”  At 14 years old he knew what was important to me and I was deeply touched by his empathy and caring.

I went to Patrick’s room to just chat one evening when he was in high school.  He was busy with a writing assignment.  I asked “What are you writing?”  He responded “An apology letter to the Dean of Students.  It has to be two pages.”  I said “What in the heck did you do?”  Later I learned that it was something rather significant that involved some shenanigans with several of his friends.  But Patrick took it in stride and did what he needed to do to rectify the situation.  Quietly.  Deliberately.  He took responsibility.   And then he put it behind him.

After leaving for college at CAL Berkeley, Patrick continued to come home every weekend.  I was always happy to see him but I finally asked him why he wasn’t staying at school and getting involved and making new friends.  He calmly responded “I don’t like the food in the dorm.”  And of course he had learned from me from a very early age that food is love.  So I figured he came home for some food.  And some love.

“He’s quiet”.  To be honest it was a rare moment to see Patrick rattled.  But see it I did when he came home from three years of graduate school in Denver.  He wanted to stay there.  He wanted a job there but he didn’t get one. Probably one of the first times he didn’t attain what he set out to get for himself.  We talked for hours.  I could feel his disappointment and distress.  I felt helpless.  I had never seen him so dejected.

But get a job he did in Santa Clara at Verde Design where he had interned after getting his BA in Landscape Architecture.  He wasn’t expecting to go back there.  He wanted something different.

Nonetheless, he found a place to live.  He made a spreadsheet of his expenses.  He pulled himself together and started that job at Verde.  A couple weeks in he heard the click click of a co-worker’s heels as she approached her desk after being on vacation in Spain.  Click Click.  I think he knew.  She appeared out of nowhere.

“He’s quiet”.  He holds his cards close to his heart.  After a two year warm and wonderful friendship, he finally risked everything to tell Nazaneen that he was falling in love with her.  And a year later they were engaged.

Today, when Patrick and I had our lunch together, we talked about having a partner in life and how important it is.  How the burdens and the worries of life are so much easier when they are shared.  I encourage him to continue to spoil her and make her feel special.  I crossed the line of politically correct and told him that every woman wants to be loved and taken care of.  (Shoot me now..)

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my Patrick Francis will be a compassionate, supportive and caring husband.  And Nazaneen is just the woman who will appreciate his still waters that run deep.

We finished off our lunch today at the hair salon in Morgan Hill- Patrick a nice trim and style.  Mom- some highlights and a cut.  After Patrick left, Carolyn, the stylist, commented on what a wonderful young man Patrick is.

I know.  I’ve known it from the start.  My middle child. My #2 son.  He will always be tucked right below my heart.

My phantom limb.

Magical …

Magical …

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You know my heart and its ways

You who formed me before I was born

In the secret of darkness before I saw the sun

In my mother’s womb

~Psalm 139

Welcome to the world little Bear. One more sleep and I will hold you in my arms.  ❤️ Your Sitti

 

What are we busy about?

What are we busy about?

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“Your right ovary is enlarged.  That’s unusual after menopause.”

This is not something you want to hear from your gynecologist when your mother died from ovarian cancer at 61 years of age.  I stare at the ceiling and try to stay calm.

“Let’s schedule an ultrasound.”

I go mute.  I don’t ask any questions.  So unlike me.  I accept my sentence and graciously take my referral paperwork from the nurse and half listen to her instructions.  I need to get to work for a meeting at 9am.  I’ll process this later.  It’s Wednesday and life is busy.

On the following Monday evening, in anticipation of my early morning ultrasound appointment, I decide to go through my personal books.  In a Marie Kondo moment when I sold my house on Del Monte, I gave away boxes and boxes of books to the library.  I have to admit it was NOT life-changing magic.  It was like cutting off an arm.  What I have left on my bookshelves are most treasured.

I paged through them one by one- reading underlined sentences and comments written in the margins and tearing up over little pictures and holy cards I stuffed away in the pages intentionally.  It was the best kind of treasure hunt.  But who was this woman who read all these books and hungrily devoured their content?  What happened to her?  And where is she now?

I contemplate the woman I have become.  I’m busy.  Too busy.  But what am I busy about?

Meetings, counseling teenagers, paperwork, data, traffic duty, chaperoning dances juxtaposed with weddings, new grand babies, summer vacation…   how could I ever fit in (God forbid) surgery, radiation, chemo, oh my.  The what ifs took over.

The wine helped. I got a pricey bottle of red just for the occasion.

The next morning in the middle of yet another meeting I received an email from my doctor with a clean bill of health. It’s just a fibroid- nothing to be concerned about.  Back at work I feel relieved- yet oddly changed.  What matters?  What am I missing here?

And the larger more encompassing question… would it take a debilitating illness in order to give myself permission to step off this hamster wheel?

I started this blog over a month ago.  Hoping that a clever ending would make it’s way into my consciousness during a bike ride or a hike.  That’s what usually happens.  But nada, zilch.

What are you busy being about?  What are you planning on doing “some day”?  When the dishes are done.  When you finish the landscaping outside.  When you quit your day job.  When you win the lottery.

What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down. ~Joni Mitchelle

And the seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down. ~Joni Mitchelle

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I’ve always love the song “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell.  As an adolescent when this song first came out, I never truly appreciated the significance of the lyrics.  But at this time in my life, they pulse with meaning.

I’ve noticed an interesting pattern through the years and I wonder if other women my age are seeing it as well.  Our children leave home and go to college.  They acquire degrees and find careers that make them happy.  And life feels somewhat stagnant as a parent with an empty nest.  We take a back seat to many of their adventures and accomplishments.  We brag about them with our closest friends or a stranger in the market, showing pictures on our phones to whomever appears interested and feel blissful when they call home to say hi or I love you.  After a life full of raising sons and taking a back seat to their health, education and well being, I am often at a loss for how to proceed.

We’re captive on the carousel of time, we can’t return.  We can only look behind from where we came.

And then suddenly things begin to happen.  A wedding, a grandchild, another grandchild, another wedding.  Life takes on new challenges and excitement.  A flurry of new activity.

When my sons were growing up, my childrearing “bible” was The Gesell Institute of Human Development.  Anyone remember the books “Your One Year Old”, “Your Two Year Old”, “Your Three Year Old”?  Their research shows that children’s growth is not always an even ride from less to more maturity.  Instead, smooth and calm behavior alternates with unsettled and uneven behavior.  Children go through periods of “disequilibrium”- when they are learning new skills and abilities, growing quickly and experiencing more anxiety and less confidence.  And “equilibrium”- a period of stability and consolidated behavior- when they practice the skills already mastered- when they are easier to live with…

Wowzy..   sounds like my adult life! 😱

2018 was smooth sailing.  A year of equilibrium.  I had the grandmother skills honed and the mother in law persona figured out.  I’d finally settled into my townhome after grieving the sale of my memory-filled yet large and empty house.

2019 will be the year of disequilibrium for me.  A new grandchild.  A wedding.  A new daughter in law.  Growth, challenge, frenzy, a year of learning.  I see the pattern emerging.  What has been lost to the past is being reincarnated in the present-  layered with periods of anxiety and the mastering of new skills.

As they say in Portland, Oregon.. if you don’t like the weather wait an hour or so.  The clouds and rain give way to sunshine and blue skies.  The painted ponies go up and down.  We’re captive on a carousel of time.

And oh what an incredible ride it is.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Comfort and Joy 🌲

Comfort and Joy 🌲

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It’s 12:30pm on Christmas day and I’m upstairs bathing my grandson, Boe, enjoying his little boy antics and squeals of glee.  I check my watch and call down to whomever will hear “Hey!  Don’t forget to put the roast in the oven at 1!”  My sons and daughter in law are scurrying about preparing for our 20 plus guests- straightening out the toys, figuring out the logistics of the oven and deciding whether or not to do the veggies on the grill outside.  “I need a bigger kitchen!”  – my mantra since my first apartment as a new bride. I inherited the tendency to cook for a crowd from my mother who taught me that food is love.  I’m afraid my kitchen lust will only get me in trouble.  If you build it they will come!

Oh Lordy.

I am mentally checking off my to do list until the first guests begin to arrive.  Caught up in conversation and coat hanging I relinquish control and my sons and daughter in law take over.  The last minute preparations are all taken care of.  It happens like that every year.  Patrick, the kitchen guru, masterminds the veggies outside on the grill while tending to the 18 lb. prime rib in the oven.  Rob organizes the gifts for the white elephant game.  Breezy and Peter replenish the appetizers and open wine.  It’s magical.  When it’s time to eat, I have no idea how it all came together.

Along with the gluten free, vegan, dairy free and vegetarian dietary preferences, I prepared an invocation or “prayer” if you will for all types of believers or non believers- Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Athiest, or just plain hungry for something!

Beloved Lord,

we do greatly thank you

for the abundance

that is ours 

Amen

For a crazy moment I want to freeze time and keep all these people in my house with the Christmas tree all lit up and the table set with the finest china- the gifts under the tree and the love in the room- little Thomas and Boe young and innocent forever- it all brings me such strength, comfort and joy…  I believe we have collectively in this room the power to change the world.

A quote that my sons and daughter in law threw around in jest for several days before Christmas was:

With great power comes great responsibility.  ~Voltaire 

How providential.  The abundance is for us to enjoy.  Yes.  And it is also ours to share. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t take a particular religion (or food preference) to feel the responsibility to be a man or woman for others.  We have so much.  We have much to give.

I love my family and I don’t want for a minute to take my “wealth” for granted.  I could bottle up all this love and keep it for myself.  But it’s such a privilege to be able to “pay it forward”.

Maybe a big ass kitchen wouldn’t be a bad idea after all!  Just think of all the guests we could seat and feed!

Perhaps we would entertain angels…

Merry Christmas to you and yours.  ❤︎