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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tender Life Lessons

A couple weeks ago my parents joined us for the wee ones' Saturday soccer games. Between the two games we had just enough time to give our patronage to Small Town Pizza Joint. The conversation turned to Great Grandma H, who turned 93 last November. Dear Dad offered the information that she is not doing so well, has really lost quality of life the past year, and has begun to comment that she is "ready to go 'home'." It's been a year and a half since Dear Husband and I and the kiddos have gone to visit her eight hours away at her assisted living facility, but Dear Daughter remembers the visit well. I talked some with Dear Dad about what I might be able to mail her to lift her spirits, and then the conversation was lost as we moved on from pizza for lunch to the final soccer game.

Later that day, I was working out in the garden, pulling the weeds and preparing it for the new spring planting. Dear Daughter came out to join me with her shovel, proud that she had figured out how to "chop a box" around the weeds, thus being able to pull them up, roots and all. As we worked in the warm spring sunshine, Dear Daughter's wheels were turning, as they so often do. "Mommy, that's really sad about Great Grandma-that she is sad and wants to go home. But I can understand why she feels that way. I mean, she has been at the nursing home for a really long time, and I can understand why she wants to go back to her old home." Clearly this had been eating at her since she overheard the conversation over pizza a few hours earlier.

I was moved by her interpretation and felt a bit sadder myself as I realized that I needed to explain further to my sweet daughter. "Well, Honey, Great Grandma didn't mean that she is ready to go to her old home...." ( I try to find sensitive, but more accurate wording) "...Great Grandma meant that she is feeling ready to go 'home' to be with Jesus." A long pause followed. Dear Daughter stopped digging and leaned on her shovel as the realization sunk in.

"But why, Mommy?"

"Well, Sweetie, she is just getting really tired and worn out now that she is 93 years old. She can't see very well anymore, and she can't hear very well anymore, and her back hurts her all the time because of her Osteoporosis, and she can't move very well, and she doesn't always remember stuff very well anymore, and...well...imagine how it would feel to just sit in your chair all day and not be able to hear, see, or move or think real clearly anymore. She's had a long, good life, and her husband, Great Grandpa, has been with Jesus for ten years already, and she's just ready to go there, too. You know, in Heaven she won't be so tired and sore and she'll be able to hear and see and move perfectly. So you can imagine, can't you, why she might be looking forward to just going to be with Jesus where everything is perfect?"

Long pause.

"Yeah, I guess I can understand that. But it still feels sad that she is feeling that way."

It was one of those hard facts of life that I rather hated for my tender child to be learning, but from which I knew I could not shelter her. This is my last living grandparent, and her last living great grandparent.

We silently, solemnly went back to our weeding.

"You know, since you are learning to write letters properly in school, you could write Great Grandma a letter any time you would like. And she would love to have a picture to go with it. And I plan to pick up some chocolates next time I go to the store. She loves chocolates. And we can mail all those things with some pictures of you and Zach's soccer games to her. I know she would like that!"

Dear Daughter lifted her face to look in mine. The cloudiness began to fade from her eyes as the sparkle returned.

"That's a good idea! I think I will go write her a letter right now!"

And away she went indoors to work for the next hour on a letter about her little seven-year-old life and a picture of a horse galloping gaily in the springtime. I assembled the package over the next couple days, with the chocolates and photos that I promised along with her letter and picture. I let her write the address across the package in her neatest not-quite-eight-years-old scrawl, and put her return address in the corner. And then she was okay again for a little while.

Later that evening after the lights were turned out at bedtime, we had one of those times that we contemplated the meaning of life as we snuggled closely under the blankets in her narrow twin bed. "I still feel sad about Great Grandma and how she is feeling," her little voice trembled in the darkness. And we talked about it some more, and what it all means, as her tears fell and she sniffled in the dark, and then my tears fell and I sniffled, too.

Mish Mash

First of all, can I just say that Blogger has come a long long long way since I first started this relationship in 2004? It's amazing how little html or web design language or knowledge a person now needs to do this gig. I used to have to go into the actual code to change color, font, page design, column width, etc. Now I only have to click this, click that, try this or that out in instant real time application before I commit to it, and when I've clicked around and played around enough to be satisfied, I just click the option that basically says, "Yeah--go ahead and do that" and voila!

I'm pleased to say that the Monkey Virus is largely gone now, save for the radiating pain in my teeth. Bizarre, yes. Sinus infection, no. All I know is that my Dear Mother had this illness a few weeks ago and also admitted to painful teeth.

What I really want to say tonight really should not go into in a "mish mash" sort of piece, so I am going to wrap up the "mish mash" in this post and move on to something real next....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Funk

What is this illness that plagues our household the past two weeks? I usually get one or two colds each year, usually have one or two really bad days during these colds and then I'm back at the top of my game. This time I must have contracted some rare monkey virus or something, and sadly, Dear Daughter has been plagued with the same. I've been miserable for nine days and counting. Just when I think I'm pulling through, I find myself back in bed, unable to function. My head is throbbing, the snot is running, and I feel like I got run over by a steamroller. Dear Son started us out a couple weeks ago with my typical cold M.O. He was miserable for a day with a low fever and loss of appetite and energy and then the next day he was his old self. Oh what I wouldn't give right now to be my "old self." I finally told Dear Husband tonight just to take me out in the backyard and shoot me and put me out of my misery. Bleh!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Have I Been?

It's been so long since I came here that I actually forgot both my login username AND my password.... *sigh* There's been many a time that I thought about how long it's been, and then I just could never manage to move it high enough up on my priority list. Lots of crazy life has been happening.

Shortly after my last post in October, we enjoyed a blissful 10 days oceanfront in Yachats, Oregon...gazing at the amazing Pacific Ocean sunsets in our backyard, lots of beach combing, time with cousins (first time the kids met their cousins), time with Grandpa and Grandma M.

It was also the kids' first time on an airplane. We had a couple layovers, which required the kids to entertain themselves in the airports--something that is never too challenging for them, easily amused as they are.

We also visited Heceta Head lighthouse (also the scene of my first date with Dear Husband 15 years ag0), Yaquina Head Lighthouse-where we also watched dozens of whales spouting, fluking, and breaching-Munson Falls (highest waterfall in the coastal mountain range), Tillamook cheese factory, stuck our fingers in lots of tide pools, and watched the sea lions at Newport (always endlessly amusing).

After returning from this amazing family vacation, most of us got really ill with some exotic bug we picked up at one of the airports. This pretty much overshadowed Halloween and brought us close to Thanksgiving.

Dear Son turned 5 in December and insisted on a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese (shudder), and the holidays pretty much passed in a blur. I'm not exactly sure what else has happened in the past several months, but we have had an outstanding year of homeschooling (with 5 weeks left in our year).

Dear Son has actually completed Kindergarten now and is reading, and doing simple addition and subtraction. Dear Daughter is finishing second grade, and has learned about the birth of the United States, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the presidencies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the inventions of Benjamin Franklin and Eli Whitney, the beginning and ending of slavery, the Louisiana Purchase and the Oregon Trail, and thorough US geography. She is writing in cursive and doing multiplication. Yes, it has been an awesome school year!

I've been swamped with work. The business never stops rolling in and I never have enough time to manage all the work, which is a good problem to have. It also requires discipline, boundaries, and organization, not to mention perseverance and patience and lots of tolerance to juggle this along with the homeschooling. Much of the time I manage it with great skill and grace. The rest of the time (when I get overwhelmed) I curl up in a ball in the corner and babble incoherently for a few hours before I pull it together again and go on.

And so blogging has quite appropriately taken a backseat the past months as I focused on such things as educating the wee ones and juggling my counseling practice--and squeezing in a load of laundry and a round of vacuuming whenever I got the chance. As I see this school year to a close with the kids in a few weeks, I am hopeful to return here to log some more simple pleasures and memories. It's a great way to reflect, log the blessings in our lives, and write off some steam.

It's a busy life, but it's a good life. Today was the second mowing of the year, and as I buzzed around the five acres of grass for two hours on the mower, I pondered the meaning of life. It's my favorite thing to do when I get those blissful two hours to let my mind wander guilt-free and I can't hear any "Mommy, Mommy!" over the drone of the mower engine. As I pondered this afternoon, I thoughts of what a good life this is. I love my independence. I love to be self-employed and answer to no one but myself as I manage my career and do business on my own terms. I love the freedom to school our children and teach them at their own pace, to thrill in the joy of learning with them, and instill excellent character and morals in their little lives. I love to look out our windows and see open space, smell fresh air, and hear tree frogs and coyotes howl in our backyard at night. I love to watch the deer munch our lawn, grow our own vegetables, raise our own chickens and gather eggs with the kids each day.

It's a good life. A simple life, but a life rich in rewards.