Family, Friends, Home

Home — the acquisition of memories

I’m still enjoying the afterglow of Annie’s wedding.

One of my favorite things about the holidays and the wedding was having my house full of people — my people — my friends and family, including our new addition of a son-in-law.

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A perfect kind of holiday.

I love a full house full of people; a house that exudes happy energy.

I go to sleep happier on nights when our home is  filled with people who make me laugh, think, or just make me feel better because their personalities have enlivened my home.

We’ve lived in this house for 17 years and many of my favorite times have been when our house was full of people playing, sharing, celebrating, and creating memories together.

sara hair

I look into the backyard and remember Annie hosting a “field day” with all of her friends or hosting all the neighborhood families for a Halloween party of a chili cook -off.

I remember Sara and Annie and their friends posing for group prom photos on the staircase or playing “capture the flag” all around the front and back yard.  I remember a live band in our driveway and dancing to the “Funky Chicken” with my neighbors at a block party.

One of my friends recently said, “You can never move. This is where we come to celebrate!”

It’s true. We have bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas Eve celebrations that lead to irreverent (but memorable) productions of the Christmas story from the Bible.

christmas eve

We’ve had dinner parties, craft nights, book clubs, dance parties, garage sales, and sleepovers.

I remember the night Sara had a sleepover and I thought all the girls were sleeping peacefully in the basement.

Sara woke me up about two in the morning to tell me that a little girl’s wire in her braces sprung out of her mouth and she was having a panic attack.

The more the girls tried to fix the problem, the worse it got.  By the time Doug and I were called to the scene, she had a three-inch wire sticking out of the front of her mouth. She could hardly talk or breathe because she was so upset.

Even that memory morphed into a happy one over time. It’s part of our house history –just like the hole in the basement wall that has never been fully explained.

After the holidays, we tried to “purge” our basement storage space of a lot of things we no longer need.

We opened up boxes we haven’t opened for years, and found stories wrapped up in all of them — elementary school reports, videos and photos, way too many books, costumes, trophies, awards, decorations.

They all tell stories of our lives in this house. We even found an elaborate three-month calendar on a big whiteboard that Doug used to keep track of my chemo treatments and drug and shot regime.

Some things are easier to get rid of than others, but in the end, it’s the memories we want to keep — not all the memorabilia. And, there are easier, more space-saving ways to keep the memories.

I love this house, but what I love more is what has happened in this house, and who we’ve become while living here.

Some of my favorite scenes in Downton Abbey are the sweet conversations between Carson and Mrs. Hughes over a cup of tea because even though there lives are spent taking care of a house and a family, the sweetness comes when a pair of dear friends ponder life and love.

And, like Carson so eloquently said, “The business of life is the acquisition of memories, in the end that’s all there is.”

Uncategorized

Funerals and Families

I’ve lived away from my family for over 30 years now.

But, you know what makes me the most homesick?

Funerals.

I know that sounds morbid, and obviously, I’m not a fan of people dying.

But, over the years, I’ve missed some important funerals.

Maybe the worst was my Grandma’s.

I made it to Utah in time to see her before she died, but then she passed away as soon as I returned home.

At least I had the chance to kiss her soft, wrinkly cheek, and tell her I loved her.

I missed one of my favorite uncle’s funerals too.

And, yesterday, I missed my aunt’s funeral.

Aunt Maxine was a beauty — inside and out. She died of cancer after fighting it for about four years.

maxine

I saw her a few times after that and was always impressed by her energy, smile, and optimism.

But, I knew she was tired.

Fighting cancer is exhausting, and Aunt Maxine lived on the fragile precipice for a long time — knowing there would likely be a sheer, fatal drop if she decided to quit fighting.

The only benevolent thing about cancer is that it usually gives time for goodbyes.

I felt so homesick yesterday for my family — that extensive, beautiful, sturdy hammock of sorts that always has a space for me.

I kept thinking how we can move far away from each other; but we are always connected, even if it’s only by common ancestors.

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http://www.etsy.com/listing/126802798/family-like-branches-on-a-tree-large

Homey images of Sunday afternoons in the mountains floated in and out of my mind with sights of thick canopies of leafy trees shading us as we gathered for family reunions. I could see us gathering around picnic tables, and helping Grandma unpack her car –hauling out her pink macrame lawn chair, a Lady Betty cake and batches of homemade raisin-filled sugar cookies.

I remembered my graceful, kind Aunt Maxine — her smile and laugh; her stories, and her little Shih-tzu puppy sitting on her lap.

I thought of how many years she owned and worked at a rest home; and how she loved every person there like they were her own family.

When Mom told me about the church where they held the funeral, I knew exactly what it looked like and how it must have felt to be there.

When she told me about the burial and the cemetery, I pictured all the relatives from my mom’s family gathering around Aunt Maxine’s gravesite. And, I couldn’t help but imagine my Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Sherm, and many others there too — angels everywhere; filling up all the empty spaces.

I know they wouldn’t miss Aunt Maxine’s funeral.

I imagined that it must be easier for them to travel than for me. They probably didn’t have to pay exorbitant last-minute airfares or cope with weather delays.

While my family has never been perfect or even close to it; we share a history, name, and DNA.

I read this poem on a blog called Toadilly Homemade:

What lasts?

Ice cream melts.

Flowers wilt.

The leaves of autumn fall.

Sunsets fade.

Seasons change, and

Children don’t stay small.

Balloons pop.

Snowfalls stop.

Do summers last? Never!

Weekends fly.

Today will die.

But…

Families are Forever.

Somehow, that makes everything better for me.

Family, Relationships

The Things Doug Says

I know it’s the month of love and I should write a gooey blog about romance.

But, gooey is not my forte.

So I will write what is on my mushy mind.

When I say mushy, I mean mushy as in soft and pulpy in the head — not sentimental, as in conversation hearts that say things like “wink wink” or “cutie pie.”

If you’re a loyal blog reader, you know I love my husband.

He is and always has been the real deal in the best husband department.

I couldn’t ask for a better one.

So, knowing how I adore him, I’m going to tell you a few things he says that I really hate.

When I’m brooding over a decision, and I want his advice, he says, “You’ll know.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you’ll know.

You’ll know is not an answer!”

He just smiles, shrugs his shoulders and says it again, “Well, it’s true. You’ll know.”

“Why do you always say that when you know it makes me so mad?”

“Because it’s true. You’ll know.”

*&%^$#@&*

I’m a sharer.

I share everything, including my food at a restaurant.

“This is good. Do you want to try it?” I say, offering him my plate or forkfuls of deliciousness.

“No.”

“Why?”

“I have my food. Why do you always ask me if I want to try your food when I have my own?”

“Because, people do that, they share. Women do it. If we like something, we share it.”

“I don’t like to share food. Why do we go over this every time we go to dinner?”

“I guess I think someday you’ll change, and it just seems like the polite thing to do.”

“I won’t change. I don’t share food.”

He says he is a sharer generally. He just doesn’t share food.

Evidence proves otherwise.

Sometimes he labels what is his so that it doesn’t get mixed up with what is mine.

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Sometimes I foolishly say, “The portions are huge here. Do you want to get something and share it?”

Clearly, I’m a very dense woman after 25 years of marriage.

“No. If you want it, get it.”

“But, it’s huge.”

“Just eat what you can, and don’t worry about it.”

“But, why not share a dish, and then not waste?”

“How many times do we have to go over this?

“I. Don’t.  Share.  Food.”

*&&%$%$#_+

“I’m wondering if I should take back these shoes. They probably cost too much.”

“Sunk cost,” he says, like the conversation is over.

“It’s not sunk if I can still return them.”

“You’ve already spent the money, so forget about it. Sunk cost.”

“I can’t believe how much I had to pay for that airline ticket.”

“Sunk cost.”

“Do you think we paid too much for the wedding?”

“Sunk cost.”

*&(^%$#)(*&^&^

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Before Nikki died, he randomly said, “Nikki’s been a good dog.”

“He’s not dead,” we always reminded him.

“I know,” he said, all sentimental and sad, “but he’s been a good dog.”

We were sad about Nikki dying years before he actually died.

#$#!*&(^

Sometimes (actually, rarely) he asks me to go shopping with him.

To him, this means, go into one store, buy one item that he doesn’t even try on, and then go home.

To me, it means, actual shopping, as in browsing and touching soft and pretty things.

“What are you doing?” he says, when I start the real shopping.

“Shopping! I thought we came to shop.”

“We did that already. I got my shirt, and now it’s time to go.”

“That is not shopping. That is hunting. Now, we are shopping.”

“Okay, I’ll just sit right here until you’re finished.”

*&^%^)$#@

When I come home from an outing with girlfriends, he says, “Did you talk about your husbands?”

“No. We don’t talk about our husbands.”

“What do you talk about then?”

“Other stuff, not husbands.”

“You probably talk about personal, embarrassing husband things.”

“We don’t talk about our husbands.”

“I bet you do. Do you share things you shouldn’t share?”

Because he won’t drop the subject, I say, “We don’t talk about husbands —that much.”

“I knew it!! You do talk about your husbands. What do you say?”doug

And this goes on until I start making up salacious lies that make him nervous.

“Do you really say those things?” he asks, getting a little palm sweat going on.

Before the conversation is over, he doesn’t know whether any truths are sprinkled into my lies, but I think he deserves that because he never believes the first true answer.

Next time he asks me whether we talked about our husbands, I’m just going to say, “You’ll know.” Next time one of my friends looks at you funny. “You’ll know, husband dearest. You’ll know!”

Or maybe I’ll just say, “After all these years, don’t you know I don’t believe in sharing? hahaha

“Now, let’s go to the mall and hunt you down a shirt.”

Writing

About that award-winning author status…

Even though I had fun with my blog about the news release and the best-selling author business, it was a legitimate contest that highlighted some excellent writers.

The Amazon link for Kindle downloads is up at : http://amzn.to/1aU3Z4o

And, if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free Amazon software to read Seasons of Our Lives(Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) on almost any device you have — from the cloud, your smart phone, many tablets, or from your PC or Mac.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000493771

Jan Marquart, CEO of About the Author Network, said,  “Seasons of our Lives is an anthology of memoir and heart-warming stories written by women about seemingly unnoticed moments. Their deeply personal stories will embrace you to slow down and take a deep breath. They lead you back to your own heart, filling you with a sense of purity and beauty, meaning and purpose as you turn from the page. Seasons of our Lives is a must read. It will give you a new perspective out of which your own stories will peek through.” Jan Marquart, Author and CEO and Founder of About the Author Network.

And, you thought I was kidding about being a legit Amazon author.

Not only that, all four volumes quickly shot to Amazon’s bestseller list. Here’s proof:

amazon

All joking aside about my own best-selling author status, these stories are wonderful and these authors have written some beautiful memoirs.

Check it out.