Sunday, November 28, 2010

Moving Day

Hitching a ride on the Moving truck with Dad
With Thanksgiving behind us, our focus turned to moving a son and his family in with me. The troops were called out-my 3 sons and sister-in-law, to help pack, tote and load up the moving truck, borrowed from our local storage place. I was assigned Grandma duty---watching the grandkids, ages 2 & 4 and keeping them out of everyone’s way.

I came to the realization that living with two very active grandchildren will have some challenges. Within the first 30 min of arrival at my house, there were spills and wet clothes, changing of clothes (twice), and facilitation of a peaceful solution to an altercation between the two sibs, that seems to happen with frequency to cause one’s head to spin. Nevertheless, this time, it resulted in a lesson on “forgiveness” and so was worth the effort. I have learned a lot about children over the last 20 years as a Head Start Nurse, having gone back to the workforce after my own 3 sons were passed this challenging age. I will get to put into practice a second time the things I learned.

The one thing that doesn’t quite mesh, is that I don’t seem to have the same amount of energy I did 25 years ago. Who would have thought? My heart goes out to all those lovely, brave grandparents of my age or older, trying to raise their grandchildren for whatever reasons. They are the true heros.

Just in the knick of time, the truck carrying the big furniture arrived and we managed to find places, although temporary, for it all. Everyone was exhausted including the kids!

What do we like about moving day?...........Bedtime!!!!!!

A Real Family Thanksgiving 2010

The decision to hostess the family Thanksgiving was not an easy one. No one expected me to do this, having lost my husband four months ago, but I felt I needed to get back to a normal holiday routine. I wondered if I didn't find some joy in this holiday, there was a good chance future Thanksgivings and Christmas may be permanently altered. Of course, I weep for the missing presence of Walter, but I know he would want me to go on with my life in the best way I could manage. Life goes on, and what better way to convince ourselves of this fact, than getting together with family. My sons have always considered holidays for family. and this year "Home for the Holidays" should take on a special meaning of "togetherness". So the invitations went out and everyone I invited accepted-----all 18 people!

I really wanted to make this Thanksgiving special and went all out to decorate and cook the main dishes of turkey and ham. Preparing for it, like preparing for Walter’s memorial, was very therapeutic for me. Holidays seem to be hard when you lose a loved one. Although there were times to shed tears, I kept very busy with preparations without much time to think and grieve. Working from dawn to bedtime helped me sleep well enough for each new day. I saw my goal and went to work completing it.

It all paid off in a lovely Thanksgiving potluck, warmly and deliciously contributed by all. We had more food than we could eat. We had good conversation, played some fun games and even had my 4 yr old granddaughter make some crafts with the help of my dear friend. There were lots of giggles and smiles as contestants exchanged socks, danced while humming a tune, held a silver spoon in their mouth (I bet you thought people were born with this---wink!) and had lively debate on whether you would give up kissing or saying “I love you”, and whether you would rather have “smart” children or “beautiful” children. It was the best family time I've had in a long time.  I love my family and our friends felt like family, as well. Everything seemed to click together.
How blessed we all felt. God is indeed good! In the words of Tiny Tim, “God Bless us, Everyone!”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To store or not to store. That is the question!

The clock struck 4:00…then 4:30. “I really need to go home”, I thought to myself. Yet, with a whole week off for Thanksgiving I just had to wrap a few things up at work. Finally, 4:45 p.m. I’m done.

So….you know the thing about best laid plans are…..that they are likely to change, and yes, mine were disrupted and I had to go to a back up plan. All week I have been trying to clean out my house so my son and his family could move in. Both my son and I had to downsize our belongings and I decided to have a yarn (oops Freudian slip there) yard sale. On Wednesday prior, I go to the City Hall to get a permit for my Yard Sale and this is where I first hear that the forecast is for rain this weekend. I check the weather report every day and by Friday at 4:45 there is an 80% chance for rain starting that night.

RAIN!!!!.....Where am I going to put all this stuff for the Yard Sale? For weeks, I have been slowly boxing up stuff ready to sell and now my garage is full, my house is full, I can’t have a yard sale and I am planning to host Thanksgiving for 18 people. I decide to call out the troups…….my sister-in-law and sons. I decided to rent a storage space nearby and they help me load up the yard sale stuff.

One problem…….I still have a lot of stuff, the stuff I planned to keep still in the house and the garage is full. My sister-in-law has a heart-to-heart talk with me. “You are dreaming if you think you are going to find places for this stuff and have enough room for 18 people for Thanksgiving and your son’s family move in”. I guess I really needed a reality check.

Why is it so hard to let go of things? Believe it or not the things I was most protective of was my fiber stash! The wool fleeces, the lbs and lbs of roving, the hand-spun yarn patiently hand spun on my spinning wheel. There was no way I was going to do anything with it all in the next few weeks. I was so protective and feared moth and silverfish infestation, which is the anathema of fiberholics. I previously had a beautiful prize fleece disintegrate into crumbs while being stored in the garage for a few months. I could just imagine those silverfish feasting hungrily on the fleece with regret. So I gathered up a little faith and lots of courage, had the fiber double bagged in plastic, and waved goodbye with a tear in my eye, to the car loaded with my fiber, driving down the street to storage. Later that day, my family and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie and saw ads for a new cable show about Storage Auction. I think to myself, someone is going to be very disappointed if they ever auction my storage……I hope they like fiber!

I grieve that I hardly had time to get used to all the space and freedom I had, after moving all my sons out and then loosing Walter, and now I think I need to start all over again. I can kiss the 31-year accumulation good-bye. I’m back to living in a one-room bedroom. Some have said that the purging is  good for the soul. I’m not sure I see that yet. I feel this is the start of a very difficult series of events and changes I will need to go through. I’m missing my husband. However, I am glad to be having family and friends come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I count my blessings and Thank God for a wonderful church family. Today we had the annual Church Homecoming. I sent out an invite and several responded and came. It was so nice to see them again. I really want to stay in touch. Life and time is too precious to waste. I realize I need to make more time to develop friendships.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Falling leaves

I was driving around doing some shopping and I could not help but notice more leaves on the ground and trees in multiple colors. In California, we have a very short changing of the leaves season. I usually do not notice this much as it goes by quickly, but today the evidence of “fall” was all around. The wind was blowing, large piles of red, orange and brown leaves littered the highways and lawns. I was overtaken by all of the color of it. I felt a little pang of regret that I have never been to the east coast to experience their “Changing of the Colors” in fall. Perhaps, someday.

All of this inspired me to get some decorations for Thanksgiving, as I plan to hostess the family dinner at my home this year. So I venture over to Michael’s, my favorite local craft store and my senses explode with the joy of ………………Christmas! There are Christmas decorations everywhere. The first Christmas carols I hear are being played over their intercom. Did I miss Fall? I must have blinked and it passed right by me.

Fortunately, I was able to find some left over Fall decorations in the clearance section. The next store I went, I had a similar experience. Doesn’t anyone celebrate Thanksgiving and fall anymore? How sad for the times? This little holiday is probably the most important one where we should appreciate, and give thanks to the God that blessed us.

Fall is such a quiet reflective time. As the leaves turn and die, falling slowly to the ground, one cannot help but think about our losses. Of course, heavy on my mind is my husband of 33 years. I am missing his presence in my life. He was a quiet man that preferred anonymity and the self-reflective times of listening to audiobooks or watching movies. He never really had any personal desires to go to places but pleasantly accompanied me and was good company in my desired excursions. Of course, some of these excursions, I went solo, but I am glad that this has given me some confidence and independence as I go through my future without him.

I also reflect of the losses of friends and family over the past few years. Some were lost to sudden accidents and some to illnesses. I miss them too, and grieve for their absence in my life and what the future may have been like, if they were alive today. I grieve for friends and family going through tough times economically now. Never before have we Baby Boomers experienced such a “Depression” like era that our parents experienced. It really makes us think about what is important. It gives us something to tell our grandchildren about our struggles that will inspired them to be survivors, just as the stories our grandparents and parents shared with us did.

Nevertheless, when leaves die, seeds are shed to grow new life. Death always brings renewal. My loss has lead me to renew friendships that are becoming very dear to me. I am striving to renew a purpose of servanthood, wherever I am needed, be it calling a friend that needs encouragement, or baking pumpkin bread to share with workmates and family. My days and nights are filled with purpose leaving me very little time to feel sorry for myself. Thank you, God, for this blessing. Isn’t He so great to know what we need and put opportunities out there for us to take on?