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Posts from the ‘Family’ Category

Take the Leash

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia

It’s been a wonderful week witnessing Abby and Sasha bond and become best of friends. There’s a glean in their eyes and bounce in their step. I’ve taken their lead as well.

When walking Abby and Sasha a few days ago, Abby started taking Sasha’s leash a block from home to guide her in. Today, Sasha started to do the same for Abby as well.  It was very sweet.

“Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.” – Herodotus

“Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.” – Herodotus

We are on this journey together and have the opportunity, perhaps even the obligation, to walk by each other’s side and guide each other home.

Be a good friend to those you know and kind to those who cross your path who may need a friend. Take the leash.

Fast and Slow

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Havelock Ellis

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

“Let us be grateful to people (dogs) who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Sasha joined our family today. Abby is thrilled.

A year ago, I lost my Samoyed Molly and then in October, I lost my Golden Retriever Lily. I have been looking for a Samoyed for almost a year and when it fell through a couple of times, I got a Golden Retriever in December.

Abby will be nine months soon and Sasha is four months. When the opportunity came up a few weeks ago with a breeder, I couldn’t pass it up. It just felt right. The “rules” would say you shouldn’t get two puppies. Wait, it’s too soon.

The one thing that I’ve learned in the past year after losing my Dad and two dogs within 5 months of each other is that life is short and the rules we make up really don’t matter.

God works slow and fast, in His own time, which usually doesn’t align with our own. There have been days that have dragged and months and months of waiting. Seemingly for no reason at all, stuck in the waiting. And then suddenly, something new comes together rapid fire. The waiting comes to an end and we’re tossed into the next chapter of our life in a moment’s notice.

All that has come before brings us to this day, whether we can figure it out or not. So when we let go of our rules, stop trying to “outsmart” God and trust Him, we can enter fully into what is and be in grateful awe of this very moment.

Oh So Ordinary Days

“Well, that’s what life is – this collection of extraordinarily ordinary moments. We just need to pay attention to them all. Wake up and pay attention to how beautiful it all is.” – Alexander Payne

It’s been five years since I’ve done a big yard project. Last week, I rented the roto tiller and tilled up the weeds along the side and back of the garage. Yesterday, I finished the resetting the block edging, Today, the rock and dirt were delivered. Seven hours later, the rock is in its place. Dirt spreading and grass seed is on the agenda tomorrow.

Five years ago, the project was tilling and sod after the back yard tree was removed with a crane. Today, the missing piece in this yard project was Dad. And it’s days like these that I miss him most. He would have gone with me to the rock store after he measured the area and did the calculation to get the exact amount of rock that I needed. He would have handed me the shovel and held down the landscape fabric. After we were done, we would go grab a beer and toast to getting the job done.

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” – Earl Nightingale

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” – Earl Nightingale

While I always appreciated the help, what I really valued the most was the easy conversation and time spent with my best friend and Dad. As I shoveled the rock into the wheel barrel today, I imagined Dad sitting in the adirondack chair just hanging out with me making the hard work enjoyable.

The daily moments and ordinary days are what we remember the most so don’t miss them while you are in the middle of them. Be present and deeply grateful for those oh so ordinary days.

The Years are Short

“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

Today is the one year anniversary of my Dad passing away. Pictures, stories and memories flood my mind every day. Lots of tears and laughter this last year, more tears I think. Missing will never go away and gratitude for our relationship grows deeper.

I loved, appreciated and respected him while he was here and even more so now that he’s not. Yet even though he’s gone, he shows up in so many ways. In expressions, in places, in people, so he remains in the fabric of each day. Perfect by no means and none of us are but a man of integrity, faith and resilience. I carry what he taught me and try to be and do my best, again, not perfect by any means.

So hug your loved ones a bit longer today. Be grateful and find laughter in each and every single day. Celebrate and laugh more.  Life is very good and we need to discover that daily so we can live a full and joyful and sometimes difficult life. Sometimes, the days are long and most definitely, the years are short.

“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Anniversaries

We live our days in moments, often unaware of how special each one is, and we mark our lives with milestones and transitions – birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and passings.

Today, my parents would have been married 58 years. See more on my parents in this post on their 53 years in 2012 on all that they taught me that remains this day, if not even stronger than ever before.

In 17 days, we mark the one year anniversary of my Dad passing away suddenly on April 28, 2016. The suddenly was good for him for sure, but not so much for us. We all still miss him every day and expect to the rest of our days. And the missing shows up in ordinary days, ordinary moments that we would have laughed about the same things or debated the topics of the day. It shows up in the first Christmas and the first Easter without him at the table.

So celebrate moments with those you love for those oh so ordinary moments will be what you most remember and cherish when they are no longer here. Forgive more, laugh harder, hug longer and be grateful for the many gifts that we all have that go unnoticed every day.

Happy 58th Anniversary Mom and Dad. Your commitment, perseverance, grit, faith and unconditional love transcends time and connects heaven and earth.

Show Tunes

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

My great nephew Liam who’s six months old actually smiles when I sing, so naturally, I sing. I downloaded a few show tunes this week to add some “depth” to my performances of made-up songs  – Singing in the Rain, Good Morning and Oklahoma. A little Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds go a long way.

Music, art, prose pull us beyond our routine daily-ness to a higher calling of simple delight and soulful connection. Feeling out of sorts? Pick up an umbrella and start dancing and singing in the rain.

There’s More

For some reason I didn’t bring my phone when I took Abby for a walk this morning. We went down to the playground a few blocks from our house on the way back. As we walked quietly, three deer came out from the woods 20 feet away. Abby sat and watched as the leader leapt with ease and grace and the other two followed with joy and delight.

I believe in signs and signals.  My thoughts immediately went to seeing Dad, Molly and Lily coming down from heaven for a brief moment to let me know there’s more. There’s more to this life and there’s more, so much more after we leave. Sure puts things in perspective.

I’ve been struggling with a few things lately. Probably making them bigger than they should be or avoiding them for a long time and they are showing themselves telling me to deal with them now. For so many years, Dad was my sounding board to talk through things, kindred spirits who could say anything to each other. I’ve been missing that every day.

Seeing the three deer this morning reminded me that he remains with me and whatever decisions that I make will be based on years of our conversations and how he shaped so much of who I am today.

In lieu of not capturing a photo on my phone of the three amigos in the woods this morning, I am posting one of my favorite photos of Dad. One that shows a youthful joy, free from the weight of this life and the weight we put on ourselves in this life.

dad1

There’s more. Delight in it. Every single day.

Ordinary Every Day IS the Gift

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” – Sharon Draper

As I scrolled through years of photos on my phone, I landed on a photo from April 25, 2016. An ordinary day, a Monday, a most ordinary day.  A moment captured of Molly enjoying one of her favorite toys in the backyard.

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say 'thank you?'” – William Arthur Ward

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’” – William Arthur Ward

At the time, as with most of ordinary days, I had no idea how important this ordinary day was or so many that came before or those to follow. So often, we pass through days like these, unaware of all of the gifts found in simple moments as we pursue and wait for the next interesting thing.

Three days later, Dad passed away and that not-so-ordinary day of April 28th was the start of a series of not-so-ordinary days of loss. Unexpectedly again, Molly passed away on June 27 and Lily on October 4.

Ordinary days become extraordinary when we look back in deep appreciation, after they occur. But we are summoned to gratitude and awe right now in this moment, in the ordinary every day moments. That’s the gift that we need not pursue or search for. It is right in front of us, right now.

Pause and look around each day with rapt attention to what is in the present. Take a picture with your phone, but more importantly in your heart. These days will not come again and we don’t know when those not-so-ordinary days will enter to change our lives forever.

Capture and experience with delight the silly, subtle and sweet moments of every day. That is the gift.

Friendship, No Kinship

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” –  Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I was going to title this post friendship to talk about the bonds of friendship that we form through life, if we are wise and lucky enough. But some friends become family, they know what we are thinking and feeling, often times before we know. They understand that it’s more than enough to be present  through all that life sends our way, no words needed.

So after three very long and intense weeks at work, I looked forward to meeting Chris and Lynn for a beer at my favorite place (Urban Growler) today. They had “something” for me. A painting that they had commissioned an artist to paint of Molly and Lily from a picture on this blog. I lost both Molly and Lily a few months after my Dad in 2016. A gift beyond words, from friendship to kinship.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – Thomas Aquinas

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – Thomas Aquinas

My Dad, Molly and Lily were my best friends. This painting, this gift, honors those special relationships that go well beyond words, well beyond death. If you are blessed enough to have friends who are kin, who are generous like Chris and Lynn, be grateful.

A Beer with Dad

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

It’s tradition to have Christmas a few days early at my sister’s house for my immediate family. Finishing a very busy day filled with meetings, phone calls, “do you have a minute” drop ins, start and stop through rush hour to get out to White Bear for dinner. With 30 minutes to spare, I ran an “errand” and went up to Manitou Station to honor another tradition. A beer with Dad before the festivities begin.

“While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.” – Mattie Stepanek

“While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.” – Mattie Stepanek

Sitting down at the bar in our usual spot, I moved his empty chair a bit closer and turned it my way and toasted a good life and told him what I have told him every day since April 28th – “ I miss you.”  While birthdays and the holidays won’t be the same without him, I miss the daily-ness of him. We talked every day and solved all of the world’s problems. Two fellow introverts who knew each other through and through, often without words needing to be exchanged.

So if this Christmas, you have an empty chair or two around the table, give a toast to those who have gone ahead and celebrate your life now in honor of them. And make sure that you hug those who remain in the chairs around the table a minute or two longer. Life is so very short. Be kind, forgiving and fill your days with love so that when you are gone, many will raise a glass to honor your life and how you spent your time here.

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