Grandma, Why?

My Nana said she and Mommy were best friends and they can be best friends again if Mommy will just call her and tell her she’s sorry. Mommy why won’t you call Nana?

My granddaughter had just climbed into her car seat and wasn’t buckled in yet. I could hear the breath, I knew her thoughts as if she were speaking them out loud, my daughter let the breath out slowly, fastening the car seat. She carefully fastened her in the car seat, closed the door and got into the front seat. Belted in and settled for the ride home, she took another long slow deep breath.

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Once Upon a Sisterhood

Sisters. The joy, the delight, the trials, and the trouble of growing up with a sister.  Sibling rivalry is a tough road to travel, but most sisters go there,  no matter how much they love each other. The fighting isn’t part of the plan, but it’s almost always part of the experience.

My sister is a talented woman. Our talents are the least of our problems, and I don’t think either of us lacks any confidence in that area of our lives. She’s got a particular style that carries through in anything she attempts, and I’ve got a very different style that carries through in my artistic ventures. Seldom do our skills overlap in any given area, although we both use some of the same mediums.

Tea with cream, please.The problems arise when others dare to meddle in our tea. Mind you, we both like our tea, quite differently prepared. I like my tea hot or cold, with lemon and honey or a little cream, and she prefers hers as coffee, black. We bicker and fight over inane subjects, topics that matter none at all, or worse… over misunderstandings, but no matter what, no matter when, no matter how, when push comes to shove… she’s still my sister.

Which reminds me of an old saying (probably from some 1950’s movie I’ve watched)…

Don’t you dare… pick on my sister, mister!

Living the Good Life

As provocative as it may sound, that suddenly took on new meaning over the past many hours. While I attempt to proceed in my life with some sort of understanding over the events of the past three weeks, the shock of realization brings to mind a commercial, where the strike phrase is… “I’ve looked over a lot of bodies and none of them have had an expiration date.”

Expiration, death, dark angels, end of life, all catch phrases for the same stupid awful change that comes after we’ve experienced the glory of God’s wonderful creation for a time, sometimes a short time… But for a time. With the beginning comes the end… I get that.

As my grandfather slipped away, those final years, I remember hearing him say, “I’m ready to meet Jesus.” The knowing that his days were numbered, and only God knew that number gave him a grace that is not totally uncommon. He never said he was comfortable with the process, just that he was ready for the end result. And, I know he wasn’t ready to leave Grandma. That was the catch 22 that left him holding on, those last few hours… The woman he’d loved for a lifetime, stood beside him, along with a daughter who had spent her life caring.

Those moments, on Christmas morning flew by in a flash. There were no long good byes. He’d had no warning. Life was there, then it was gone.

The next many years, Grandma missed him, but carried on without him. Her life filled up with times and places, people and things, but she never stopped longing for him. In those last weeks, I remember hearing her say, “I’m ready to meet Jesus. I miss Daddy (her nickname for Granddad), and it’s time to go home.” I knew she wasn’t talking about the rickety little house at 504 N. 11th. She had a better home, on a golden shore far away, where Granddad and Jesus were waiting for her. She was ready to go.

I heard the angels singing in that last sweet breath she took, as she drifted into the heavens and the arms of her true love. There was no greater joy or contentment on any woman’s face as she escaped the confines of earth and her tired body, and entered those Pearly Gates of Glory. Sweet blessed peace enveloped the room as the harps played out songs of welcome laced with the love of one of God’s children making her way into heaven.

Now, as an adult – I look back on those memories of childhood and young adulthood knowing that life has come full circle again. There may be no expiration date, but there’s a time to live…

The beating heart of another waits for that precious moment when she will see the face of God, hear heaven’s trumpet calling and witness the voice of angels singing and harps strumming out the delicate tremors of love’s embrace. Implications by Doctors are that they know when the time has come, but as one who has witnessed the passing of many – the realization that none here knows the time, nor the hour has become abundantly clear. The moment in time when each of us faces our maker isn’t set by a Doctor’s diagnosis, the rudimentary procedures of medicine, nor the educated guesses of those left behind.

As the treasures of earth part from the holdings, we begin to understand that life has no boundaries, there is no expiration date. Time does not draw nye unto the end of our road, but rather the passing of time becomes that of precious hours presumably living for the moment at which we will understand with great joy our passing into eternity.

Salvation and our walk with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit become the center of our existence and we understand that it’s not the hour, but rather the power that transforms us into His chosen. If we haven’t found His glory, in those final hours our search is bolder, more intense and stronger, but yet… also more sensitive to His voice and His calling. We hear Him, in those final hours – however long they may be.

We learn to love and forgive, understanding that we might not have another single moment in which to care, worry or share our feelings with others. We learn to live the good life, without further concern over the trials and struggles of life that have no longer any hold over us.

It means nothing, to know how much or how little is left of time or money. Only what’s held in our heart matters. The treasures we’ve laid up in heaven will be the only treasures that carry meaning in those last hours – hearts, lives and loved ones. The rest is left untended.

The search is on…

To know what is meant by living the good life. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here, but it may be a lot of thoughts about the passing of time and the motion required to move from this life into the next. The joy of living the good life… .shared.

Father’s Day Tribute to “The Uncles”

Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder if I’ve accomplished all the right things as a single mom. My confidence occasionally goes by the wayside as I recognize a “fail” moment. But those moments come fewer and further between as my kids get older.

No father in the picture, often means children grow up without the benefit of a male influence in their lives, or lacking in some sort of attention because they don’t have a “Daddy.” In my case, as a single mother of four, I find that probably isn’t the case, although it easily could have been.

My oldest went to college, met and fell in love with a young man who had some issues, but she chose to love him anyway. They have a lovely daughter and the young man has chosen to walk away. His lack of presence in their lives left them vulnerable and alone. She sought friendship and the result was another baby. This time a little boy.

Sean having a great time at campShe needed help with her daughter, as a working mother, and that help came from her sister and brother-in-law. They shared her apartment and Tatia watched Elizabeth while she worked.

Meanwhile, Tatia and Kevin realized they were also expecting and the arrangement became one of joy for both girls as they shared the excitement of motherhood, and all the trials and tribulations that came with it. Brenna, a single mom, toughing it out alone through the trials found respite in the sisterhood of pregnancy. Tatia, married and enjoying the benefits and blessings of having a husband, shared the struggles and wonder of a new marriage and motherhood with her sister. The blessings for both were many.

When their special days came, Brenna called Mom, and I came. I brought along two unsuspecting little brothers who didn’t understand the roll they would come to have in the lives of three babies. We came to Denver and stayed.

Elizabeth began to refer to the three uncles as The Uncles, and their presence in her life attributed more than just playmates. They assumed parental type roles and took on more than their share of responsibilities. Her little brother benefited from their presence as well. The Uncles fell into step, changing, loving, cuddling, holding and caring for Colm in ways most teenagers just don’t bother to do. Their efforts were appreciated.

When their brother-in-law joined the army and left a mere six weeks after his son was born, they took on the weight of one more child, often putting him to sleep, holding, changing, cuddling and playing with him. Once again, The Uncles fell into step, looking after their sisters and providing the sincere, caring role of Uncle to the babies, and Elizabeth.

KentonComplaints were few and far between. Their efforts sometimes breaking through the late hours of night, or awakening them in the early hours of morning. They sometimes struggled to get their chores done around “baby duty” as they affectionately called those times when they were needed to care for a child. School work became a luxury they longed to do, and they spent hours studying, dedicated to getting an education in a home where family and life sometimes provided the lessons.

Little boys became men, proving themselves in the hearts of babies who depended on them, to be the men they might not have been old enough to be. They both stepped up where needed, and continue to be father figures, solid, strong role models in the lives of their niece and nephews, as well as in the lives of a few second cousins who find them absolutely mesmerizing.

This tribute goes out to these two young men who understand that life isn’t always about being a teenager and “hanging” with your buds, sometimes, it’s about being the best you can be in order to bring something better to the lives of others. When you see them with the children in their lives, there’s no doubt where their priorities lie.

Recently, on returning from a mission trip, we met them at the church. Elizabeth ran along the sidewalk to greet them. “Uncle Shorty” spotted her first and slipped through a group of teenagers, past an instructor and down the sidewalk to greet her. He swung her high in the air, as he twirled around hugging her close.

Inside the youth center, she spied another uncle. “Uncle Bookworm!” She cried out. He was talking to a couple of girls and excused himself immediately to run between them and across the room to pick her up, swirl her around and squeeze her tight in a hug that told her how much he missed her, and everyone else in the room, where his priorities lie.

Both received numerous compliments from their Mission Trip leaders for their efforts on the trip. They were described as responsible, mature, leaders and best of all, simply adorable.

Sean and Kenton – I love and appreciate you. As your mother, I have to say, “I’m so very proud of the young men you’ve become. I thank God every single day that your strength, your power and your love is blessed by Him.”

Thank you!

Emotional Catch All – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day captures the best of all modes, the Mommy Mode of existence in nurturing and uplifting children to their best. Nothing brings out the Mommy more readily than having a baby around to love. The simply care free attitude of parenting comes to a standstill when babies begin to cry.

On a recent afternoon, I noticed my youngest daughter stressing over the events of the day. Her husband had just gone off to war (boot camp – to be exact), and life hadn’t really treated her well over the past couple of days. She’d had a few extra struggles to deal with, but she’d handled them with all the grace of a growing young woman, learning to be the mom. Always the nurturer, she’d settled into mommy-hood with a simple style that brought even more grace to her life.

When the baby got fussy late in the afternoon, she wrapped him up in a blanket and left the room. A few moments later, I heard water running and the soft cooing of a mother in love with parenting. She’d settled him into the crook of her arm and nestled them both into a bath of warm water. At two months, his laughter was mere chuckles, but I could hear him chuckling as he enjoyed the bath.

Tatia and Kade
Tatia kisses Kade

His delight in the warm water of the bath brought back the emotions buried in time… As a single mom, you never have enough time to get everything done. I often would take my daughter with me into the shower, bathe her and myself quickly and have us both ready for the day in a matter of minutes.

Often we had just a few minutes to be out the door and off to my work, so dressing her became part of my morning routine. But those times when we could enjoy a nice warm bath, we just enjoyed each other.

Mother’s Day reminds us of the nurturing times, but also of the routine times.

An emotional catch all, Mother’s Day gives us an opportunity to grasp all that goes with Mother’s Day as we gather up the moments and bring them to the forefront of our memory. Whether it’s the moments that remind us of how much joy we get from our parents, or the ones that remind us of how much we wanted children, or even the ones that remind us that there are times when we should have joined the circus instead. When all the emotions flutter to the surface, we know there’s been joy, there’s been laughter and there’ve been tears. The emotion of the day will bring you all of the above and more, because there’s been love.

Jan Verhoeff – Echoes of the Trail

Some mornings as Amtrak rumbles through town I think of how many years I’ve listened to that whistle blow. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t hear it blow, and it it’s late, I just automatically start praying for whatever has kept it back. Often, I’ve known later of a wreck, a flood, or even snow, but eventually, I’ll hear the whistle blow.

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Write “The Rain Drops Splatter”

Crisp clear mornings washed bright by rain don’t happen often in Colorado. The dawn of a new day after a rain here often means dirt will blow, or some other gray phenomenon will be coming our way before the day’s end. Not pessimism, just simply the way the rain works in Colorado. There aren’t many rainy days.

As a teenager, we spent many summers in the midwest where rain was more common and I learned that I really enjoyed a good rain storm. Many of my journals those summer days began with “the rain drizzled down the window” and talked about weather systems I longed for back home. “Thunder rumbled and rolled across Michigan, ripping through the forested land like a new plow, laboring under rain laden gray clouds.” Could provide for hours of writing a description of storms rolling slowly overhead as I curled on the top bunk of our family motorhome with my paper and pen a handy friend.

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Inspired to Write – The Day’s Beginning

“You may have experienced a glistening morning with dew dripping from the tree leaves, sparkling on the grass, and sunlight glinting off each precious drop, but until you’ve witnessed a morning in southeastern Colorado, you’ve never been inspired.” I remembered the discussion and the quote as I arose shortly before the first lights of dawn fingered their way across a clear sky this morning.

My grandmother was telling about their arrival in Colorado on the first day of April, 1916. With the wagon parked outside the dug out grandpa had helped build the summer before, they’d arrived after dark the night before. There was no lush green grass to greet them, it was early spring, the prairie was still gray from winter and the nights were still cold.

Inside the dugout grandpa had built a fire in the stove and invited the family in from the covered wagon, only to be met by my great grandmother’s refusal to go ‘down in that hole in the ground’. She wasn’t impressed by the half dug out that proposed to be their home, five steps down below the prairie floor. Nor was she impressed a few hours later by the wolves howling around the wagon where she slept alone, grandpa waiting at the entrance to the dug out where he and the kids were safe.

Even today, I can imagine the conversation as it might have been.

“George Walter? Do you hear those wolves? You brought me here to the middle of nowhere and we’ll be eaten by wolves before the morning.” Effie might have said, straining to see in the darkness.

“I’m here, Effie.” George Walter Venn might have answered, raising his gun to the air to shoot, intending to scare the wolves back from the wagon. “I’ll send them away, stay low.”

The riffle would fire into the night and the wolves would leave. Effie, with the help of her loving, attentive husband would step over the railing, come down the wheel from the wagon, and safely walk into the home he’d provided. With the wooden door closed against the beasts of the night, Effie probably curled beside him on the feather tic to sleep the rest of the night away.

“It’s a magnificent morning!” I can hear grandpa opening the door to the early morning dawn. “There’s snow on the prairie and deer in the front yard. This is a lovely place to live.” His announcement probably brought most of the eleven children from their beds to see snow on the prairie. “April Fools!” His announcement rang for nearly sixty years, every April First grandma remembered.

While I may not even agree with grandpa’s proclaimation about mornings on the prairie, there’s one thing I do agree with, ever day of my life…

“It’s a magnificent morning!”