How is everyone doing? Are there good things happening in your life, or not so much? Me, well…I’m struggling a bit these days. Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that now both of my parents are no longer here. And feeling helpless when it comes to my oldest spawn and some serious issues she is struggling with.
Then there’s the state of the world. Despite all of the deplorable and inexplicable behaviors of the Con-Man-In-Chief and his ilk, karma has yet to make an appearance. People around the world are suffering needlessly due to poverty and the messed up priorities of the governments serving them. Women’s reproductive rights continue to be under attack.
Yes, Karma is taking her own sweet fudging time and she’s starting to piss me off.
Let’s just say my faith in humanity is a bit shaky these days.
It would be in my best interest to remember this:
Good things are happening too, though, in my personal life anyway. That I can’t deny. My hours at work are being increased in a few months, so that I can take on more responsibility and expand my skill set to better serve our seniors. It makes me feel good that my efforts are appreciated and my employer believes in my abilities.
Hubs and I have planned a getaway to visit his parents and sister (I am so grateful for these three people in my life) in Wisconsin and then will spend a couple of days with our youngest spawn in their adopted hometown of Indianapolis at the end of May. This is something to look forward to.
But in the meantime…well, I just don’t know. Grief and how people have disappointed me lately in various ways are getting me down. It’s temporary, certainly. The weight of it all, the sense of futility I’m feeling. Well, I think for today anyway I’m just going to feel it. Marinate in it for a bit.
Just not for too long.
I recently watched this clip of Leslie Jones on SNL and it cracked me up. This woman is a force, right? When she mentioned Fantasia kicking her shoes off and belting out tunes at her imaginary funeral, it made me think of this video clip I’m sharing below. I’m certain this is what Leslie was referring to, right?
I invite you to tell me about something good happening in your life right now or in the world at large in the comments. Let’s share that shit around as much as possible. Because you know we all need it.
Hubs and I just got back from spending the better part of a week in the house I grew up in.
Because my mom died.
The last good picture of me and Mom (July 2018)
I’m going to be processing this fact for a good long while.
But for now, let me tell you a little about this special house.
It’s a small house that was filled with a lot of love. It’s very old but well maintained, because of my dad’s abilities with carpentry, plumbing, and virtually everything else.
As the story goes, my grandfather (whom I never met), at the age of 58, had a massive heart attack and died while standing in the archway between the tiny kitchen and the dining area of this house.
Both of my parents had experiences with his presence in that house over the years. It never scared them at all. I think they found it comforting.
This is also the house my father grew up in. He bought it from my grandmother. Between about 1960 and 1985, he and mom raised me, and my older sister and brother in this house.
The kitchen is quite small. I’m always amazed that despite not having more than 5 feet of counter space to work with, my mom always churned out delicious, homemade meals for us each and every night. The woman had a knack for using small spaces as efficiently as possible. It’s too bad she never got an opportunity to visit Ikea, with their mock up small spaces that have cleverly placed nooks and crannies for housing all the necessities for day to day living.
This is the house in which my two teenaged siblings threw a wild party at, in about 1974, while our parents were on a Las Vegas vacation. The party where 7 year old me was slathered with attention and plied with sandwiches and other treats in an attempt to ensure my silence. I, of course, being the bratty little sister, immediately told on them once our parents got home.
This is the house where my dad, fully immersed in his Alzheimer’s fog 2 years ago, gestured towards the corner of the living room, and relived, for me and mom, the delight he experienced in that very space where 75 years prior, his father sat with him and read stories.
This is the house where, back in the 80’s, my best friend burned a hole with her cigarette on the handmade-by-mom quilt that covered my 4 poster bead while my parents were out of town for the weekend. I lived in fear from that day on that mom would notice that little burn hole. But, surprisingly, she never did.
Yes, the quilt (as our bright 5 year old grandson said: that sounds like it starts with the letter “Q”!) came back home to Colorado with us.
This is the house where people gathered to celebrate. From mom’s bridge club nights to family/friends steak fries during the summer in the backyard to high school graduation parties to wedding present openings.
Now that Christmas is a mere few days away, and the major tasks of purchasing gifts, sending out our Christmas cards, wrapping the gifts, and sending them on their way to their hopefully delighted recipients is over, I’ve got myself a minute to reflect. To share my thoughts and feelings about this crazy and magical time of year and why I love it so.
Baking Christmas cookies and related treats is one of the few traditions I have maintained over the years. Mind you, I am no Martha Stewart (unlike an old co-worker who brought snowflake cookies to our holiday potluck that were decorated so exquisitely it felt wrong to consume them not like I didn’t anyway). I focus on simple cookies. Actually, several of them are the “no bake” kind. I think that’s a wise choice as I make a fricking ton of them. I send these Christmas treats in holiday themed tins purchased at the Dollar Store or my local thrift store to friends and family from northern Minnesota to Missouri. I shan’t ever end this tradition as at this point our loved ones expect them each and every year. I kind of set myself up for that.
But it’s all good. Baking cookies while listening to my favorite Christmas tunes puts me in the spirit. For several years, while still living in Wisconsin, I hosted a cookie baking party with 3 of my closest co-workers. The wine flowed, the kitchen was essentially destroyed, and much fun was had by all. Good times.
Then there’s the music of this season. I’m not the type to turn on the Christmas music as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are stored in the fridge, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I am a traditionalist, as I mostly prefer the classics, sung by the original artists. Though there are a few exceptions. Like this version of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” by “She and Him” (I will admit the video is not exactly what I expected). I’m not going to get into the controversy over this particular song and how it is “rape-y” (I don’t exactly see it that way). I was delighted when I first saw the movie “Elf” and heard Zooey Deschanel’s pure and beautiful singing voice. I was even more delighted when I discovered that there was a “She and Him” and that they had produced a sweet little cd covering classic Christmas tunes. I of course purchased this cd and enjoy listening to it every single Christmas since then. The only other two Christmas cd’s on repeat in our house this time of year are Michael Buble’s “Christmas” and the Carpenter’s “Christmas Portrait”. The songs “All I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano, and Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” always put a smile on my face when I hear them this time of year.
I’m excited that Hubs is working on “Mele Kalikimaka” on his yuke these days. With any luck, he and I will collaborate on this one and may even perform it via video for our daughter and grandson via videochat yet this season. Or next Christmas, at least.
The most arduous tasks for me during the Christmas season are 1) purchasing gifts, 2) wrapping said gifts (not my forte; thankfully Hubs has my back on this one), and 3) shipping all the packages to hither and yon. Yet, there’s such a great joy I feel inside when I find just the right gift for the right person. I don’t know that I’ll ever in my livelong life, however, create such excitement with my Christmas gift-giving as my sweet Hubs did for me one Christmas about 7 years ago. I could not have been more surprised.
Here’s the story: we are at my sister and brother in law’s house way up in northern Minnesota, where we have spent many Christmases. We are in the middle of opening all of our gifts, a tad liquored up and sitting in the cozy family room by the beautiful Christmas tree. I open the shirt sized box, assuming it’s a new sweater or some other practical piece of clothing (which I was totally fine with). However, it’s a fancy black dress. I look at Hubs a bit quizzically, and assume in my head that this is a dress I’ll be wearing for a nice dinner out with him on New Year’s Eve. Wow, I’m thinking. So thoughtful and how fun is it that he’s planning to take me out on New Year’s (that doesn’t happen every year, you see). Then I see there’s a sheet of paper underneath. I open it up and it’s an ITINERARY. An itinerary, no less, for a New Year’s weekend in Chicago! An itinerary mapping out our Amtrak train ride, dinner reservations at a very chi-chi seafood place in downtown Chicago, a fancy hotel, and tickets to see “The Adams Family Musical”. I was, for once in my life, utterly speechless. I think I actually cried with joy. It ended up being the best New Year’s Eve (weekend) of our entire married life despite the massive hangover I foolishly gifted myself.
This year, I was given the opportunity to shop for a little girl. I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in this activity since my spawn were youngins. You see, instead of doing the “Secret Santa” thing at work (you know the one-where you rack your brain to figure out what to buy for that one person you don’t know as well as all the others), someone came up with the brilliant idea of doing “Secret Santa” for the offspring of our co-workers. I grabbed a “wish list” for the daughter of one of my co-workers, and proceeded to have a ball at Target finding things for this kiddo. I suspect she will be pleased that Santa stuffed her new shiny star-shaped purse with Snickers and a $10 bill. I know I would be!
I wish each and every one of you a blessed, joyful, fun-filled holiday season. May your stockings be full with all your favorite goodies, may your travels be safe, and may your hearts be full.
It’s Tuesday morning as I begin writing this post. This is typically my favorite part of the week, for purely self-serving reasons. It’s the one time of the week when I have the house entirely to myself and I don’t have to leave for work until 9:45 a.m.
So I usually write like crazy until I absolutely must get dressed and out the door to head to work.
Up until yesterday morning, I was all geared up to write a post potentially titled “Christmas on the Brain”, because, well, I was mentally 100% focused on all the fun Christmas activities head of me in the next few weeks.
But, a phone call changed my plans.
Yesterday morning, my dear Hubs received a phone call from his mother. She told him that his brother, her oldest son, had suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to live. I cannot imagine the emotions she felt making this call.
Shortly after Hubs and I left our respective offices and arrived home, he received another call. This was from his nephew. He informed Hubs that his dad, Hubs’ only brother, had passed from this earth.
There are no words that can capture how we are all feeling at this point in time. Shock is the best I can come up with. Helplessness. Confusion. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Deep, deep sadness.
I want to figure out how exactly I can be useful here. How exactly I can be supportive of my heartbroken soulmate. How I can make things even just a little bit better, easier. How I can cushion this blow to his heart.
I will not be publishing a post tomorrow as I usually do on Wednesdays. It would feel icky. I am not the one here in need of sympathy and prayers. Hubs is. My mother in law and father in law are. My sisters in law, nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews are. The man they loved and looked up to was ripped out of their lives in an instant. No goodbyes got to be said. They will all no doubt spend the rest of their lives wondering “Why?”
I was going to resist the urge to be “basic” and write a post expressing what I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving season. I mean, it’s kind of a no brainer really, and my hunch is that there will be multitudes of other bloggers penning their own posts about what they are thankful for.
In my last blog post, I shared those things that delight me, those simple pleasures of life. After publishing that, I figured it wouldn’t be terribly original for me to write about what I am grateful for.
But, alas, I have changed my mind. I seem to do that a lot.
Thing is, I genuinely have so very much for which I am thankful and it feels good and right for me to share this with now, with Thanksgiving upon us.
I am thankful for recent visits with our adult spawn and the now 4 year old boy who owns my heart. It was so gratifying to spend quality time earlier this month talking about life, laughing about their childhood shenanigans, playing umpteen games of “Hungry Hungry Hippo”, and sharing some great meals with them.
I am thankful for the blessings of November. By happenstance, each job I’ve had in the last 17 years started in November. And each of these jobs have suited me very well and taught me so much about people, including myself.
I am thankful for my best girlfriends. The one who I’ve known for the majority of my adult life, who accepts and appreciates me in spite of my flaws. The one I have here in Colorado who’s always up for showing this Minnesota girl what makes Colorado colorful. The one who passed away 6 years ago who always had my back.
I am thankful for this guy, my sweet Hubs. I truly hit the jackpot when I found him 30 years ago.
I am thankful for the community we are building here in Colorado. From our church family, to my fellow volunteers at the food bank, to the owner and staff of our favorite brew pub. After moving to the north Denver metro over two years ago, not knowing a soul here, we have slowly but surely developed lasting friendships here. What a blessing this has been.
Thankful readers, I wish you the best Thanksgiving holiday. I hope it’s filled with good conversation, laughter, fun, and plenty of delicious food!
This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.
This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.
Because I have company coming soon.
The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.
Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.
Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time.
Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.
I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.
But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.
I’ve got an earworm these days. This is thanks to our receptionist at work who continually has the 60’s station playing on Pandora or Spotify or whatever the hell audio service she uses. I commented to her that I remember my mom singing this song to me when I was growing up.
Now, mind you, my mom cannot carry a tune. In fact, I recall a story she often told about her youth. It goes something like this: when she was in high school, back in the early 50’s, she desperately yearned to be a member of the choir. However, she was self aware enough to know she did not possess the ability to carry a tune. So her mother, one of my two Grandma Pearls (ironically enough), despite the fact that she and Grandpa were by all accounts quite poor, attempted to bribe the choir director with cold hard cash to get mom into the choir.
Unfortunately, for my mom, this plan didn’t work. She was still rejected.
As a kid, I couldn’t care less that mom lacked any singing talent. Her voice singing Que Sera, Sera, among other songs I can still vividly recall, was full of love and tenderness for me. That is all that mattered.
Now, back to the song. The line that especially sticks with me is “Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera”. Repeating this to myself brings on a sense of calm. It compels me to focus not on the future, which none of us have control of, but on the present. On the now.
And in the now, I will be traveling to Minnesota to spend time with my mom.