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Posts from the ‘Family’ Category

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.

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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.

Home Again

abby1w

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schulz

After a 12 hour round trip to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, Abby is home and Abby is my new home. Home is so much more than a place. Places, people (and pups), conversations, memories, moments, our true north all make up home. Often hard to put into words but clear as crystal when we arrive. Comfort, ease, acceptance, laughter, tears, connection, understanding without explanation – when we have these, we are home.

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“Happiness is a warm puppy” is not merely because they are cute. That’s undisputed. It goes deeper than fun and frolic, and there’s plenty. A puppy models for us ever so brilliant humans the critical importance of play, delight, immersion in the very moment, not looking back or ahead. Puppies chase a ball with intent, purpose and focus without distraction. They move on when done to engage fully in the next moment, emptied of the past and future to be filled completely with the present.

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This weekend is a homecoming for Abby and for me. We think we take care of them, but in reality, they are taking care of us. Home again, indeed. Welcome home.

abby2

The Next Chapter

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” – Jimi Hendrix

The story of our life, each chapter, unfolds as it should. This year, the chapters that I’ve written and that have been written for me, I do not understand right now. But each chapter builds on the next as the plot thickens and the characters that enter our story gently hold our hand and lead us deeper into our story.

For many years, I’ve shared the stories, antics and adventures of Molly my Samoyed and Lily my Golden Retriever. My parents made it in here quite a bit as well. They have been the main characters for so long that where they end and I begin is hard to separate. We define each other. Those closest to us make us our best self as they patiently hold us through our not-so-best self.

Losing Dad in April, Molly in June and Lily in October has left me wandering a bit, trying to get back to my center. As I have bided time, as we all must, I’ve have accepted my “new” normal and continue on. And while it often seems like forever, we do heal, we do become whole again in a different way.

And now the next chapter.  Abby, a sweet golden retriever who will be joining my family on December 16th. As we mark our days of loss, we must also mark our days of joy and anticipation. And joy is so much sweeter when we’ve been on the other side.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Abby follows a long line of best friends who have come before to shape me with their canine wisdom and unconditional love, making me a better human. Greta, Misha, Elly, Molly, Lily – my characters that have come before remain in my story even today. No one or nothing that ever comes before is ever truly gone. The best of them remain in us. Abby joins a line of wonderful characters and she will be her own unique character, bringing all new adventures and creating the next chapter.

Our life is not one word, one line, one page, one chapter. It is woven together to make up a composition. Keep writing your story and allow others to write on the pages as well. The final chapter will come all too soon, so enjoy today’s page and cast light.

For

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings

For…

Brilliant blue skies that draw our eyes up to You
Rolling waves that draw our eyes down to You right here with us
Family who create the beautiful, imperfect fabric of our life, even when we take them for granted
Friends who show up to celebrate and remain in the hard times
Strangers who cross our path for reasons we do not know, showing us that we are all connected
Dogs who are both family and friend, modeling unconditional love when we forget
Children’s innocence and joy reminding of us where we started and where to return to
First snow sparkling in the sun and the fresh fragrance of spring, displaying the rhythm of the seasons
Challenges that make us grow, let go and dive deeper than we thought possible only to rise again different, with a steely tenderness
Music to dance and sing uninhibited
Laughter that let’s our spirit come out and play
Discernment to make better choices
Quiet to calm the soul
Faith to know that it will be o.k. and we are not alone
Peace within so we can create peace in the world
Grace that carries us and never fails even when we do
Poetry that shows us the strength of words
Kindness that shows us the strength of actions
Love, the only reason we are here

For all of this and abundance abound
For this and so much more…

Thank You

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