Family, Uncategorized

An Unforgettable Phone Call

We can probably all remember a phone call that changed our lives.

One of those phone calls for me came 24 years ago today.

It was a Sunday morning. I was at church, conducting a children’s meeting.

Doug came in, looking very somber, and motioned for me to come out into the hall.

I instantly knew something was wrong.

My mind quickly raced through the possibilities.

I followed him out of the room, and we walked toward the Bishop’s office.

There was a heaviness in the room and a serious tone that told me I was about to receive very bad news.

The Bishop was standing behind his desk, holding the phone.

He handed it to me; and, I reluctantly said, “Hello?”

“Bless your heart,” said my Uncle Sherm in a broken voice. “Here’s your mother.”

“Laurie,” Mom said, not mincing any words, “Dad died last night.”

I didn’t hear anything after that.

I’d just seen my dad. He took me to the airport and carried my luggage to the gate. He was fine and very much alive.

“What?” I asked, stunned and frozen.

“Dad died,” she said. “I woke up this morning, and found him dead.”

My dad was 57 years old — a year younger than I am now.  He died of a massive heart attack.

That one phone call changed my life.

dad

Sometimes I wish the phone would ring and I could have a conversation with him — five minutes would be good. Or how about 30 seconds? I’d take that too.

I might not be able to talk to him, but I believe he’s around — not physically, but spiritually.

How could he not be?

Our love for our families is too deep, too permanently planted in our souls for us to just float off to another realm and forget about them.

So it only stands to reason that God would allow our family members to stay close.

I cannot imagine us sitting comfortably on a cloud, polishing our halos,  waiting patiently for the rest of our families to sail up and join us. God’s got to have more in mind for us than that, and it has to include some spiritual closeness to our families.

I cling to the words of the LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland, “God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face…From the beginning… God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children.

“Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near.”

I haven’t seen my dad, but I surely have felt his presence — even if it’s just through a memory, a song he loved, a fisherman that looks like him or someone who knew him that shares a story about him.IMG_2414

There was a time I worried that I couldn’t remember what his voice sounded like. It bothered me that I couldn’t remember. Then, one night, while sleeping, I heard his familiar voice say”Laur, it’s time.” I woke up immediately because I knew that voice. It wasn’t like a fuzzy dream. It was as clear as it was when I was a teenager and he would call up the stairs to wake me up in the mornings by saying, “Laur, it’s time.”

Sometimes I wish that would happen again.

Better yet, I wish the phone would ring, I’d answer it, and he’d be on the other end.

Now, that would be an unforgettable phone call.

 

Family, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing it all down

It’s New Year’s Day 2016.

I’m sitting on the couch thinking, “I should write a New Year’s blog.”

Last year about this time, I wrote a blog called Blah-Grrr, which was less than inspiring, but it captured my mood at the time.

This year, I want to write something BETTER, more MOTIVATIONAL, but I’m stuck.

Hello Writer’s Block.

(The inability to tap into the writerly part of your brain where thoughts turn into words and sentences.)

Part of the reason for this mental block is that I’ve set myself up with the idea that I should write something INSPIRING or MOTIVATIONAL.

Writing expectations can be lethal. They choke creativity.

No idea is good enough. No thought cogent or powerful enough.

And no good sentences can flow from that kind of clogged up mental mess.

Not only do I have crippling blogging block, I seem to have unintentionally infected my family with it.

For Christmas I gave everyone in my family five-year journals.

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One of our Church missionaries introduced me to them.

She called hers her “most prized possession.”

Her dad gave one to all of his family for Christmas a few years ago and she’s written in it faithfully since.

“It’s awesome to look back and see where I was and what I was doing on the same day in previous years,” she said.

I’m a writer, a journal keeper, and big believer in creating personal histories. So, this sounded like a great gift idea.

Side note: A friend in college once said to me, “What is it with writers? They don’t think things are real unless they write them down.”

Ah, yeah…because they’re not.

Last night, Doug started a group text reminding everyone to start our new journals on New Year’s Day.

 

My sister, Sallie, said, “I can’t wait to start my new journal. I have to do something more exciting tomorrow than taking down the Christmas tree though. I don’t want to judge myself for the next five years for having a boring New Year’s Day.”

Annie said, “I know! I feel pressured to do exciting things!”

Then, Sallie, who drives a red convertible VW, said, “I’ll pick you up, Annie, and we’ll drive around the lake with the top down and then hike Y Mountain at midnight so that we’ll have something fun to write about.”

convertible
Cruising in the Convertible

“Too bad we’re in North Carolina,” Annie replied with a sad face emoticon.

Sara texted, “I was thinking of having a focus — like writing about a funny thing that happened or the best part of my day or tender mercies.”

Having a focus sounded like a good idea to me too — a kind of writing prompt.

“I’m just going to write about the weather,” Doug said.

“Good idea, Dad,” Sara wrote, “Or you could just copy your daily horoscope into your journal.”

Today Sallie texted me to see if I’d done anything exciting to write about.

“I walked on the beach, watched an episode of Oprah’s Belief series and then called a friend who just announced she and her husband are going to Brazil for a Church mission. Is that interesting enough? Or maybe something amazing is yet to happen.”

“We have faith,” she responded.

Yes, if faith means believing our lives on New Year’s Day 2016 literally will be ones for the books, then we have faith.

That’s a lot of faith.

No wonder I can’t write a blog.

I can’t even think about that tiny little paragraph I need to write at the end of the day, let alone write a 500-word blog.

How can we live each day for five years worried about whether our lives are interesting enough to write about?

Well, see, that’s the thing. We can’t. So we don’t think about it so much. We just do it.

We just pick up a pen, or put our fingers on the keyboard, and write.

Start with a word and go.

How’s that for MOTIVATIONAL?

I sometimes don’t know what to write, but I try to write anyway.

Sometimes it’s just nonsensical junk that ends up on the page, and sometimes it’s something that’s surprisingly good.

But writing well isn’t even the point.

The point is expressing ourselves, and what makes it fun is that it’s all stuff that comes from inside of us, stuff that defines us and our ordinary lives.

And that can be wonderfully rewarding.

(And you know that if you don’t write it down, it’s not real, right?)

Get writing people. Make that your 2016 New Year’s resolution.

Capture your life on the pages of a notebook or on a blog or in a daunting five-year journal.

Your life is probably a lot more interesting than you think.

Let me end with this great little nugget from a writer named Victoria Erickson.

“Why write? Why should we all write? This is what I recommend…pick a word and see where that word takes you. Because you store everything in your body: the gorgeous, the ugly, the painful, the ecstatic. It’s all there locked away in your cells where memory, tension and confusion remain day after day, waiting to be set free. You don’t have to show it to an audience or your spouse or your children or even yourself again. But when it’s written down as a list, as a paragraph or poem or story, you can go to bed with greater understanding of yourself, of the world, or even of both yourself in this world. And at the very least, you know all those things are out of your body. Writing is essentially becoming free. It all begins with a word.

I couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks Victoria.

Now, get writing.

Figure out a way to capture 2016 in writing.

It’s only going to be real if you write about it …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Memoir

A not-so Cinderella experience

Have you read the quote that Cinderella is proof that the right pair of shoes can change your life? I’m not sure if that’s true but I am proof that a memory of the wrong pair of shoes can stay with you forever. IMG_4775 I recently saw this picture on Facebook and it brought back some funny shoe memories.

Let me say at the outset that I had shoe problems as a child.

Problem #1: When all my friends were buying shoes in adult women sizes, I still wore children’s shoes. Imagine the horror of dressing like a child when all your friends are discovering the thrills of grown-up woman shoes.

Problem #2: I lived in a town with two small department stores — JC Penney’s and Christensen’s. Shoe options were limited in both.

Problem #3: This follows-up on problem #2. There was a shoe store in town called Tip Top Shoe Repair owned by a man named Jim Damico. Wonderful man, wonderful family and a shoe shop full of the sturdiest, most practical shoes and boots a man could ever want.

Problem #4: My mom didn’t drive so going shopping out-of-town wasn’t easy. More on that later…

According to my mother, I was the “pickiest child that ever lived” when it came to shoes. Since we really only shopped for shoes and clothes once a year — in August before school started, I had to be picky!

Shopping wasn’t a hobby then like it is now. We bought essentials.

And, by the way, someone reminded me recently that when I was in elementary school and middle school, we had to wear dresses to school.

Yes, I’m that old.

Get over my age because we’re moving on with this story…

Shopping was an ordeal.

Remember problem #4 about how my mom didn’t drive?

Well, my dad was the town milkman.

See where I’m going here?

When we went school shopping, we piled into his one-seated Snow Dairy milk truck with the foldable door and had to either stand for a bumpy ride or sit on milk crates covered with gunny sacks full of ice to keep the milk cold. Dad drove us to Provo’s Main Street. Then, he pulled the handle to open the folding door and we all spilled out on the sidewalk to head off on our big annual school shopping adventure.

I had to share that one day of shopping with two brothers. (My sister came along later.)

A trip into one store and my brothers had new Levi’s, a bunch of shirts, socks, underwear, and shoes; and then it was my turn.

“How much longer are we going to be here?” the brothers started whining.

It went downhill from there.

Store after store, and no shoes I liked.

“Just get some! Who cares what they look like!? Here, take these,” they’d say as they shoved one atrocious pair after another at me.

Then came the worst thing of all from my mother: “We can’t spend all day looking for your shoes. Your dad will be here to pick us up soon, so you’re going to have to go shopping with Dad later.”

Did she say ‘”go shopping with dad?”

I begged her to give me more shopping time, but with two grumpy brothers burdened with bags of their new clothes, and my dad expecting us to meet him at the corner so that he could take us home in his milk truck, I was doomed.

IMG_4784
Thanks to Robert Lee Marsh from Springville for sharing this picture

He took me to Tip Top Shoe Repair. Remember the store with sturdy man shoes? “Hey Jim. She needs some good school shoes. What have you got?” Jim pointed out the saddle oxfords.

I’m not talking about the fashionable kind.

saddle-oxford-shoes-adult-800x507 “Noooooo. Dad, nooooooo. I can’t wear those.”

“Jim, let’s see them in her size.”

“Dad, seriously, I cannot wear those shoes. Look at them!”

Honestly, I would rather have worn the shoe boxes instead of those clunky shoes.

Jim brought them over to me and started threading the thick laces through the shoelace eyelets.

Podiatrist-approved orthotics, I was sure of it.

Seriously, nooooo. Dad!

I tried them on and they felt like heavy, immovable blocks of cement with white-tipped toes. “We’ll take ’em,” he said. “These will last you forever.”

What child wants orthopedic shoes that will last forever?

I may have worn them once. They were the most uncomfortable shoes ever made.

Maybe if I’d been a child in the fifties and wanted something to go with my poodle skirt, they would have been acceptable, but trust me, those were some bad shoes.

My dad was the most practical man that ever lived. I’m sure he thought Cinderella was silly and ridiculous with her glass slippers and magical life.

But at 10 years old, I could have used a fairy godmother who could sing some bibbidy-bobbiby-boo and transform my saddle oxfords into stylish shoes fit for a fourth grade shoe queen.

Family, From the News, Memoir

Lessons from NYC 9-11 Memorial

We recently visited the new 9-11 Memorial in NYC, which commemorates the lives of those lost in the terrorist attacks.

One word: sad.

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a piece of an original staircase from the World Trade Center
a piece of an original staircase from the World Trade Center

Visitors streamed through the museum in silence; many with tears running down their cheeks.

There were some parts of the museum that were so moving, I stifled outright sobbing.

People lingered over the exhibits, especially the ones with recorded voices of passengers on the hijacked planes calling their loved ones to tell them goodbye.

It struck me that in those final, horrific moments of their lives when they knew they were going to die, they called home and said, “I love you. Tell my family I love them.”

That was all they had to say.

That simple but common message summed up what mattered to every one of those victims; and in the end, their messages reminded every museum visitor what really matters to all of us.

A friend of ours, Walter, recently died from cancer and when his daughter spoke at his funeral, she said that as he was in his last days of his life, going in and out of consciousness, each time he awoke, he just wanted to repeat the words, “I love you” to his surrounding family.

He needed to make sure they knew.

I read an interesting quote that said boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend — everything has an “end” except family.

I didn’t hear any 9-11 tapes of people saying, “Tell my boss that report he needs is on my desk!” Or even “Throw out my incriminating personal journals and delete all my emails.”

A 33-year-old equity trader left a message for his mother as he saw people began falling from the windows above him in the Twin Towers.

“Mom, my building’s been hit by a plane. And right now… I think I’m OK, I’m safe now but it’s smoky.

“I just want to say how much I love you (voice breaks a little) and I will call you when I’m safe. OK mom? Bye.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/chilling-final-words-of-those-who-417979#ixzz3814p9Kjj

According to the above Mirror.co.uk story link, “more than 1,000 phone calls were made in just 10 minutes after the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, struck. And thousands more kept calling as the horror unfolded. Some reached loved ones, others left heart-rending messages.”

 

A real estate broker who had just accepted a promotion at another firm was clearing his desk for his move when the towers were hit.

 

He left a frantic message for his wife and daughter, Nicole, as he became trapped. He said: “There’s a fire. I love you, tell Nicole ‘I love you’. I don’t know if I’m going to be OK. I love you so much.”

One phone call, one urgent message.

In the last moments of their lives, they only wanted to call home and tell their families they loved them.

Isn’t that what we would all do?

It made me ask myself a series of questions:

Does my family know how much I love them?

Do they know how hard it would be for me to leave or lose them?

Have I loved them all individually and fully enough that they would always remember my love for them?

 

Is there such a thing as enough love for a family?

Does my life reflect that my family is my absolute top priority?

One thing I know for sure is that if I were on my deathbed, like my friend, Walter, or going down in a plane or into a pile of rubble like the 9-11 victims, my only thought would be just like theirs — tell my family I love them.

I’d pray a desperate, crucial prayer that somehow my family could grasp the infinite, boundless depth of that love.

The obvious, looming question here is Why wait?

For me, having my life show that my family is what I value most means small things like moving away from my computer when one of my family members calls and focusing completely on our conversations.  

It means remembering to add our new son-in-law to our silly group text conversations, and even trying to consider what he might like to do other than shop when he is with us. (I’m not used to boys.)

It means scheduling time to be together as often as possible, and never forgetting to verbally say, “I love you!” I also think it means being specific about what I love because we can all go a long way with a genuine, specific compliment.

Going to the 9-11 museum didn’t teach me the importance of family. It just reinforced it. And it reminded me that in all the horror of 9-11, and all the other bad things that can happen in life, we have to circle the wagons around what matters most to us and then live like it really does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Parenting

Happy Birthday Sara

Twenty-four years ago I left the hospital with a new beautiful baby girl.

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Our doctor refused to tell us whether we were having a boy or a girl because he wanted it to be a surprise.

But, I knew before I entered the hospital that I would have a girl and that her name would be Sara without an h.

She’d visited me in a dream about four years before she was born.

I knew she would be a wise, strong-willed, bright-eyed girl with striking blonde hair and I knew we would turn out to be great friends. I also knew that she would be smart and not afraid to speak her mind.

All of that turned out to be true.

I had no idea then though how she would change my life.

After three months of trying to figure out how to care for a new baby and how to survive colic,  I went back to work on Capitol Hill because that’s what liberated women of the 1990s did after they had babies.

Or so I thought.

Is it terrible to confess I looked forward to going back to work because I knew how to handle a job better than how to handle a newborn?

Then, as I wrote in a blog a few years ago, everything changed one night in January of 1991 when we saw the Gulf War erupt on national television.

Calls from news reporters quickly jammed my phone line.

“What is the senator’s reaction?  Are you going to have a press conference? When can we get an interview? Do you have a statement?”

I immediately called the senator and we started planning our response.

Right then, my husband came into the room carrying our six-month-old Sara, who had been with our nanny all day.

Sara giggled with delight when she saw me and threw her soft little arms around my neck.

I covered the phone, and pushed her away and said, “Not now Doug! This is important!”

I looked at Sara’s disappointed face, and my heart sank.

“What am I doing?” I thought. “Not even a war is more important to me than my child.”

Still, I had to go back to work. I left home, drove back to Capitol Hill.

I spent the night answering phone calls, sending out news releases, and organizing a press conference.

I arrived home to a dark house, climbed the stairs to Sara’s nursery and looked at her sleeping soundly in her crib holding on to her Raggedy Ann doll.

I kissed her soft cheek, brushed back her bright blonde hair, and silently apologized for pushing her away.

Standing there looking at her in the late hours of the night, I knew I had to quit.

My job was not compatible with my family priorities.

I loved my job.  I loved how it made me feel – competent, in control, and fulfilled.

I wanted to be like my friends who I thought “had it all.”

They had successful careers and happy families.

But, I knew that wasn’t going to work for me, at least not with the type of job I had then.

So, I eventually quit.

I didn’t adjust easily to my new role as a stay-at-home mother. My ego definitely suffered.

It took time to find a new rhythm and to essentially repurpose my life and myself.

Now, here I am alone at this computer in my empty house over 20 years later, looking back on the day Sara came into my life.

Did I do the right thing by quitting?

Did I lose an unrecoverable part of myself in all those years?

In the end, those seemingly ponderous questions are really just perfunctory because I know the answers without even thinking about them.

c96bd84a041d0309f81a18aecf26bb6aI did the right thing.

I used to think I did it for Sara, that I quit working because it would be best for her (and eventually for Annie) if I stayed home.

Now I know the truth.

 

They would have been fine with a nanny or in after school day care.

In fact, Annie begged me to go back to work so that she could go to after-school care with her friends.

In the end, the choice wasn’t really about what was best for them.

I knew I’d be a better mother and wife if I didn’t have a demanding career competing for my time and attention.

If I had to go back and start over, I’d do the same thing all over again.

If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have settled into it with more grace and less envy of friends who had fulfilling, highly successful careers and managed to be amazing, engaged mothers.

I’d tell myself every day that it would be worth it.

I’d remind myself that in 24 years, when Sara is off working and cutting her own remarkable path in life, I’d have no regrets.

sara

I thought I was letting go of so much all those years ago when I become a mother, quit my job, and started a new kind of life, but when I look back I realize the opposite is true.

I didn’t lose anything.

I gained everything.

Happy Birthday Sara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Relationships

Love Illuminated

Daniel Jones, the editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column has read about 50,000 essays on love, and written a book  called Love Illuminated — Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject about what he’s learned.

love illuminated

When Jones talked to Katie Couric about the book, she said she thinks if you want to find someone, you need to put out an APB to everyone you know.

The hazard in doing that, according to Jones, is that you have to know what you want before you send out that APB or it won’t make a difference — and, most people don’t know what they want.

They think they do, but they really don’t.

I believe there’s some truth in that.

Before I married Doug, I thought I knew, but looking back, I didn’t have a clue.

Does anyone, really?

We might be able to list certain characteristics and values, but is it possible or even practical to suppose that we can really know who we will love (or who we can love) by just analyzing ourselves, our needs, and wants?

How do we know who or even what type of person we can build a life with before we actually meet and get to know that person?

I’ve always envied people who found love quickly and easily without ever having to even wonder about things like this.

One of life’s most mystifying subjects to me is why some people find love easily and early in life; some find it much later; some never find it at all; and some find it; and then, heartbreakingly, lose it.

Daniel Jones told Katie three things he’s learned about love:

  1. You can’t hurry up fate. You can’t find someone fast AND have it be destiny. The two are incompatible.
  2. You can’t get married and stay single. You  have to give something up for marriage to succeed.
  3. You can’t have love without the possibility of loss. You have to love fully, knowing it will end.

These are interesting conclusions.

 

On the first point, I agree that you can’t hurry fate. Sometimes two parallel universes need to be aligned and sometimes, that takes time, a lot of time.

But is love always the result of fate? Can love be a choice?

Not to take all the fun and romance out of it, but what if love could also be an investment, like a savings account you decide to open and build with regular, constant deposits to make it grow and thrive?

At first, I dismissed the second point because it seems so obvious — you can’t get married and stay single. But, one thing Doug and I have learned as “empty nesters,” (I hate that term…) is that without our kids to bring us together for games, concerts or family meals, we can easily go to our separate corners of the house, pursuing our own “single” activities, and quickly lose our points of connection.

He travels frequently and when he’s home, I might have evening meetings, dinners with friends, or be involved in projects of my own. We watch different television programs; read different books; and prefer different bedtimes. If we let that go on for very long, we start to feel more like roommates than husband and wife.

We’re consciously making more efforts to connect– like me joining him on an occasional business trip or me watching his mind-numbing TV shows.  (In fairness, he says the same thing about mine. Take last night, for example, I wanted to watch Parenthood. He hates Parenthood because he thinks the characters always talk over each other. He wanted to watch endless CNN political talk shows, where they never talk over each other…)

But, back to writing about love…

In love, like most important things in life, there is no neutral. You are either moving forward or drifting backward.

Without effort, all relationships go adrift, and become purposeless. Unanchored, unmoored relationships cannot last; or at least, can’t be very fulfilling or satisfying. You need a destination, and you need to paddle.

To the third point, this one makes me sad, and would deter me from ever loving.

Except for two things:

1) You have to believe the relationship will be worth it. I remember when my dad died and the grieving was brutal. My mom said my grief was a testament to my love for him. “Would you have loved him less if you knew it would hurt this much to lose him?” Of course not. The love, the relationship was worth it.

2) Not all relationships have to end. 

Some will end because one person may care more than another, or for a million other reasons, but I think we have to look for, invest in, and believe in lasting love.

Life ends, but relationships don’t.

Yes, there will be separations. One person will most likely die before another.

“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come”
“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come” Gordon B. Hinckley

But, one of my core beliefs is that relationships don’t end when life ends.

Clearly, some relationships have to end for the well-being of one or both partners, but going into a marriage with the idea that it is temporary, automatically limits its success, depth, and potential for happiness.

Turns out I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and will likely follow up with my own ideas about love.

But, I’d like your ideas too.

Do you agree with Jones’ findings?

Are you paddling or drifting in your relationships?

Please share with me and help me illuminate this subject even more.

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.

blog photo

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.”