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Grounding- the good kind

 

   There are times when you get together with friends who are so akin that there is a grounding of the soul much like touching base when playing tag as a child. The warmth, laughter, even the tears shed for those long gone, or those in pain, the sorrows that darkened one or another’s doorstep- these are but awaited hugs for the soul. Chores get put aside or are done together. Ironies and observations are shared. Time is something which falls into its place during those gatherings. It mocks us from the side as though reminding that it will arrive and bid us back to everyday life. I think back to the days when that everyday life included so many of these experiences on a day to day basis. I miss my own life for God’s sake. This path I am on feels rickety and unfamiliar in too many ways. It feels uncomfortable and leaves me anxious for  a world I once knew. Surely that world has moved along in all likelihood. But am I  wrong to wonder? AM I wrong to think of “going home” to places, people , and times  that were once my everyday? The world beckons and push me onward. I try to incorporate the actions, the activities, the projects, the mind set of what I treasured and still do treasure. I may find resistance. But I will continue with my direction. I wonder about the shaping or reshaping of people in my present life. I wonder how this will be met. It is time- past time- to enter into a redirected path of intention. My past one was fine when I could be so active and productive in the way I was. But living in the stunned frozen area of  “What the heck happened and what now?” just isn’t enough of a life for me. Time to put this in gear. God help this one person trying to tread fast enough, strong enough to fill my lungs with air again.

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Face it

At two different celebrations this past week, I have been rolling through my mind some wonderful observations. Though people change, the basic substance of who they are nost often remains. It is a part of self that is in the design of a person- whether in the dna and from influence of environment, it is there. It is present even when we try to run from it and live in opposition to it. It is the being in human being. It is the self that you love, that you struggle with, that you celebrate and hide from. It is there in the mirror looking back from behind those windows. It is in the laughter and tears. It is in the healing and in the decline. It knows its own weaknesses better than one ever admits, better than allowed to be put in words. It is the insurmountable strength that each person is certain only they know the full depth. It is in the strength others do see and we glaze over. It is in the days since birth and in the centuries of ancestry. That is what those faces proclaim that we look into.
Those faces carry the shared pasts known to us. They share hints of the shared traits of those we love now gone. Sometimes they seem to be the exact copy of another. This is something that makes knowing people for a life time so special. There are disagreements in families. There are opposing views. There can be petty nonsense pass between them. But in the end our family is family (I am lucky as it is so on both sides of the families who welcomed me into life.). They have each other’s back. It is what we do. We love without regard to wisdom of decisions, or failures. Because in the end there is an integrity carried in the souls of those who came before us all in their everyday struggles and in the major events that shaped their lives and in turn our lives.
From the time I was a child, it has always been hard to leave these gatherings. I love being with these people. I cannot hear enough stories from both young and old. And now the sadness is the knowledge that at the next gathering someone who is with us this year will not be there next year. It has always been that way, always will be.
I remember the year after Daddy died. I was 12 years old. He died in November on a Monday in late November, the 20th, my brother’s birthday. I remember so many of the family attending the funeral service and the meal afterward which was where we had always had the family reunion in those days. It was somewhat surreal to me. I couldn’t understand why people would want to eat. My grief had not allowed me to readily absorb the honor and celebrate his life when SO entrenched in grief over his death. Still there was the comfort of the family all around us. It broke my heart to think of his brothers and sisters, his father who were there to mourn his loss. At the time I hadn’t considered my mother to be a strong person. In youth we sometimes miss the ways in which our mothers or fathers draw on a strength of unimaginable force. I knew she was a faithful woman. But I wasn’t certain how she would get through this. To complicate things, Mom did not drive a car. My brother was in his first year at college. My sister would be at best a novice. Stepping ahead to that next summer the reunion seemed different. I remember the lump in my throat feeling so huge that it might choke me before I gained composure. Everyone was upbeat. A few aunts had that look in their eyes that were empathetic and apologetic at the same time. Some of my great aunts spoke in wavering voices and dropped a tear as they gave their dear hugs. My uncles were sweet and upbeat. I could get lost in watching conversations but inside I wanted to scream. Were we seriously going to go about the reunion without him there? How was this possible, to act as though everything was alright? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But it was alright. We did all survive. Life did go on…as it is beckoned to do. One day it will be me missing there. I wonder whether my kids will live close enough to care to go to the reunion. For that matter I wonder will the next generation be willing to carry on the tradition of the family reunion. I hope so. I pray so. I hope they find the laughter, the stories, the lumps in the throat at hearing words of stories from times gone by, at shared memories, at dreams held by us- those who had gone before. I hope they’ll look at old pictures recognizing a gleam in the eyes of someone from their ancestry. I pray they know the blessing of the union of people whose blood flows from generations before bringing these people together- all with common blood. I must believe they will. It is in faith that hope abides. May we be worthy of remembrance. May those to come in our footsteps find answers and find peace from the love shared at these events, May this world be more kind than it has been treated.

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Ah the celebration

ImageImageImageImage In the first picture, Mary’s great grandshild pondering those she has a special connection to in life. She’s got the best seat in the house while there was much conversing and laughter all around, she did take time to view the vast expanse seen from the Valley View Room…miles and miles around quite clear that day.

The cake: beautiful photos of this lovely woman.

Not the clearest of pictures but one of the moments as she sat in thought watching the set up with the lighting of the candles.

Few moments she had to herself, during the lighting of the candles, she had an opportunity to absorb the festivities. She had just watched a wonderful comprehensive view of moments captured here and there throughout the years. Very emotional for everyone. Great job done- the entire gift- from the venue to the flowers 90 yellow roses, buttoneires (sp? doubtful), the (Lord word dfind issues extreme this morning- I apologize)the little bowed boxes of chocolates at each place,the wonderful video, the music and photos going throughout the dinner, the testimonies, the closeness of a family raised as only Mary and Jake could have raised them.

It may have seemd odd to some to be the ex wife of one of the sons and to be invited. This likely is unusual- but this is anunusual family. (Come on with all the similarities ,aren’t all families?). There wasn’t much hesitation when my former husband had called and said that he personally wanted to extend this invitation, rather than to have one of our kids extend the invitation. This was kind of his part and he recognized, no doubt, that even though we have been amicable and it has been a very long time, that had I been invited any other way that I would have had to talk with him to know this would be alright with him. His mom and I have talked over the years about the fact that this was difficult in how it changed our being together as often and truly did leave a loss that we all experienced, but that the love still was there- as my son put it once after he had pushed the family away during some years,”You can push this family away. You can run away from it all you want. But in the end you a going to be a part of it. You will have been and you will be.” This is true and wrought of the unconditional love these people were taught. That being said, I don’t mean to idealize it. Make no mistake this is a collection of human beings and as humans do ,there are times we all fall short. But somehow these people get back on their feet. Of course there are tensions , disagreements, siblings who don’t see eye to eye, siblings who flat out get at each other. But in the end they have each other’s back. In the end, they stand together to face whatever life brings them, the blessings, the losses, the achievements, the failures, the joys and the griefs, the battles, time , and distance not with standing.
There is much one has flowing through their minds, their hearts at such a celebration. There are memories that would take lifetimes to reveal as each has their own moments they take away from an experience and there are just so very many of those moments in a lifetime of living as a family. Of course one doesn’t experience a celebration such as this without missing those no longer present with us. The heartache runs deep in this being said so briefly. We acknowledge that they certainly are there with us. And maybe it is just me, but their presence is felt there whenever the family gathers. They have been a part of it all and are woven in the very fabric of love shared by all.
Years past in our own lives don’t dash out of the door before the reflection enters the soul and lingers at its own bidding. it’can be hauntingly achinly there and yet can fall mellow and gently falling deep within your mind where only you will visit- a place shared with no one you would suspect. Moments spent with those now gone have died in all but your mind, your heart. Times past that you feel likely only remembered by yourself get tucked away. You can’t stay on wondering whether it is only you who visits a moment. This is not the purpose of its existence in your mind, in your very soul. Sometimes it is a costly visit to go to these places, but there are times the price gets paid and the heart reads lightly into a world once known as your present life. These memories can nearly disorient as travelling back to a time which seems unrecognizable to the world surrounding you today. Yet you know you were there. You know you walked those footsteps. You loved with the passion of your soul. You laughed and cried and held fragile moments, now gone too rich to be forgotten. Sometimes one asks if this is the root of the mess that is you in moments when the soul is taunted and haunted by choices, by what was and has been released into the past. There is no going backs. The what if’s do not bring anything concrete or anything that will ease the worry lines owned by such times. Regrets are fine when lessons are learned. Mine came hard earned and likely learned after repeating too many alike each other. But they have formed this person who sits here today…or I have formed the journey which has been this life. Many would agree it is a mess of a job I lived. Many would say so many choices counter I hold as beliefs. For of all the traitors who walk upon the earth it is the traitor I was to myself that I wish I had not ever known. You cannot go home. Tom Wolf I must agree. You can visit a view of what had been. You can feel the life lived. But the done is done, the past has been cast and you set yourself asail into your present while tomorrow awaits beyond that horizon ahead. Set the sail.

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celebration of 90 years lived

   Tonight I will be attending a dinner celebration for my former mother-in-law. She is 90 years old as by now you may gather from the title. The children, 8 of them, will be in attendance. Spouses, grandchildren and great grandchild will also be there. And well, a former daughter-in-law. This may seem odd but given this woman it is not. She is someone I was very close with for nearly 2 decades.

   The truly amazing part of this woman is how she is a beacon of love and acceptance. SOme mistake acceptance and approval. SHe is such an example of someone who shows unconditional love for those fortunate enough to be someone she loves. Her life was certainly not easy with  miscarriages, a husband who worked hard and long hours , a gang of children to raise. She has lived in the same area- and by area, I believe she told me it was quite nearly the same block-if I remember correctly- for her entire life. She did do some travelling. She and her husband did take a trip and I can’t recall if the kids were along or not. They had raised their children to be so well behaved that I do believe they could have attended a white house dinner and not have been embarrassed along the way by any ill manners. She has been the consummate seamstress- as she pointed out , living in what began as a coal town, with one income for all of them, and not a dime of government assistance along the way, one learns to make do. The clothes were well kept, no ragamuffin looks among them. She has an unwavering faith that has withstood more tests than we can imagine. She has known great love and equally great heartache, devastating injury to a son for whom she has cared along with nurses who come into the apartment they made for him. He was a young man when he had the car accident.  She has known the loss of a grandchild- a heartbreak of itself and to experience your daughter and her husband experience it must be agonizing. She has been proud of her children and knows sadness by some choices made. She lost a daughter-in-law to cancer and knows the pain in her daughter’s eyes as she deals with such a loss. This woman was someone ahead of her time- before the media took on gay rights, she already had opened her heart to her daughter’s choice of a life partner with acceptance and love. This beautiful woman has shown us all the meaning of love, the doing of it. Her whole life has been a labor of love. It will take all 27 of us ,her departed husband, the heavens literally to express our love and appreciation for all that she is and has been.

One of the obvious first things you learn about this lady is what a great cook she is. It’s one of the first things because it is in her dna that a person be fed if they have come to your home. Feed you she will. Her left-overs would vie the best of restaurants. She would feed tyou to your heart’s content- because she would stretch the bounds of your stomach’s content. Her meals were truly an art form in beauty, chemistry, and taste. She held with centuries of tradition for holiday meals. It truly has been one of my all time favorite places to enjoy the Christmas holidays (have loved Christmas eve traditions there.) The family still maintains the traditions and have even expanded the carol experience complete with recopied books and lyrics (especially helpful for the camping songs which find their way into the festivities. Most of the family has chosen to join her in going to church services during this time period. She has graciously and patiently saw her children through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood- remaining the same force, the same person with the same purpose in life. She truly has been someone devoted to her children and someone who really has achieved the goal of living her love. I am not sure there is any higher purpose. I am unsure there is one that be so tried in life. I would say her goals were accomplished. Her children all fine people, were her driving concern along with her living a life of great faith. She fulfills that with everyday of living. She is such a kindly woman, who loves children,enjoys reading avidly,loves to laugh. She can be proud of who and how she is. I have been blessed to know her, to love her and to be loved by her. I am blessed that she has been such a wonderful influence and example for my children in dealing with life and adversity. I pray her party tonight brings back beautiful memories and much joy of a life well lived, of a life which continues to be well lived. Sorry but cutting it too close to be as focused as I wish I were.

There are many reasons in life for people to enjoy a party. This is one of the best reasons to celebrate that I know.

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A good day for the blessings of the people in it.

What is this that you have brought for me to enjoy? How have you known that what I yearned for was this onetaste of desert to round off the feat of the evening consumed?

   It’s been a fun day. A visit from my brother, who is separated from me by too many miles and too many obligations at his work, came last night until noonish. We visit of the concerns of the day in the family, in the world. We speak of days long gone. We laugh. We sigh as only siblings who look at time, places, and people escaped from the present , can do together. We drank coffee and ate a breakfast of eggs and he also ate the crisp bacon just on this side of burned- but as always he is most gracious and kind in his appreciation. As the years pass I find myself thingking  about how dear this man is to me. I remind him that he always has a home here- whenever needed.

 My first born daughter came home last night as well. She has driven further yet than my brother. While their visits were not coo-ordinated and are of mere circumstance, I am jopyful they were able to visit a while. I am proud of my daughter. I am proud of the woman she is. I am proud of her steadfast plans and her commitments she has with her. Our conversation pass over the events past, present and future. I love her as

My youngest child, is my child who chose a nursing. She brought me a dress she bought for me to wear at a party on Monday- very sweet of her. She and her boyfriend brought it. We visited laughing lightly together.  Later they would stop again. They brought sundaes for us all. How very sweet that is. They are that kind. Being appreciative I merely sucked down  a portion of mine while pedaling on my cycle (stationary) as I had already begun exercising. They all found this was amusing.”You aren’t going to stop to eat it?” Now why would I? It wasn’t like I was powering on any time of speed in which to be proud.  Well of course I could do this.I could jump back into the mother  in me who years ago would do some such crazy thing/. This would be the time I enjoy it!! Still it was great fun to speak with them no matter how brief. We laughed and eventually I did stop myself at maybe a third of the way into the treat.

   Ah how is happiness measured?  I feel that stirring within me which tells me that it is there, has been there. it is not begging of circumstance to give it life. It is something within as a character the soul owns. There are people and events and circumstancdes, achievements which may it rise to the surface and gian in strength.  There are circumstances which tuck it under a grief, a sadness, an anger…but it still is there -even then. I am blessed. My soul will enjoy the well earned slumber at the end of this evening and the stars will wink at the moon, all knowing another day’s of living held its share of goodness, of pain, and mostly of living no matter how it is viewed.

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48 Epic Dream Hotels to Visit Before You Die

bettemae:

Too fun to not reblog

Originally posted on Project Light to Life:

Hey everyone!

I had to share this post. This article by the Matador Network features 48 Epic Dream Hotels to Visit Before You Die. The page made me depressed that I may never get to see or stay at some of these places, but also, extremely excited that these hotels exist and that it is still possible to see them all! The photos below are taken from the article, but if you click the link above, there are many more places to gawk and fantasize about staying at. Enjoy :)

beauty1DCIM100GOPRObeauty3beauty4beauty5beauty6beauty7

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The flip of a coin

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