Tag Archives: Family

Views from the Patio, 7/23

View from the patio
My view from the patio this morning.

It’s a patio type of morning for me. The weather is predicted to be hot today, and for nearly the entire country, not just here. So, I am spending some time outdoors before things heat up. My trusty canine companions are with me, except for Shelby who opted to stay in the house.

Due to some recent rains, I have been able to skip watering for the past several days saving me hours of work. What a treat! Except for the container plants. They look droopy by afternoon and long for a splash of water on their roots. We oblige them because we do not want unhappy hibiscus, mandevillas, gardenias, and such. They make views from the patio so much better!

Patio view
Patio time!

I have been thinking about the nature of friends in current times. Relationships have changed. I’m not sure if this is for good or bad. Probably a little of each as most things are or maybe only different.

I ponder why they have changed. My first thought is, we live in an electronic age. My second thought is we live in the time of Covid. Both have certainly changed things. People have cell phones and computers. Even most television viewing is by streaming rather than a live broadcast so we don’t even all get our news at the same time. We no longer use face to face interactions for the majority of our communications unless you count Zoom meetings and Facetime. We text, we email, and occasionally call. I am a believer that texts and emails can make life easier, but they also cause problems. Some emails are lost, but the sender doesn’t know it. If the message does arrive, vocal nuances and facial expressions do not accompany it so the meaning may be mis-taken. Sending, “That’s great”, does not convey the sarcastic tone that may, or may not be implied. Irony and a questioning lilt that is implied with a tone of voice is lost. Misunderstandings occur and feelings get hurt. I imagine this must be something we have all experienced. I do believe that electronic communication is a beneficial and powerful tool. We just need to take care with how we use it.

Keeping in touch with friends electronically is the new norm. I don’t feel that I have as many close friends now because we are texting and Facebooking, but not really visiting. This is exacerbated by Covid protocols. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. But it does make for a different type of relationship. Or maybe part of it is the natural progression as we get older, we don’t have the same intensity of friendships because we all have our own families and lives to take care of.

When I was younger, I had friends that I frequently spent time with. Even entire weekends. We went places and did things and were a regular part of each other’s lives. Fast forward to today. Does this still hold true? Not so much. Admittedly, two of my closest friends of my adult life have both passed away. So, it’s beyond my, or their, control that we don’t hang out.

On the flip side, I have many more friends than I ever did. These friends are more of the acquaintance variety. I have made most of them virtually. Or I may have met them in person once and we became friends via Facebook. I have made friends through other friends, at parties, at animal rescue events, and through other activities I have been involved in. People that I would only have had contact with one time, have been converted into regular acquaintances.

Some of my friends, I have never met in person at all. We hooked up through different Facebook groups or maybe as friends of friends or we find we share common interests. I have even had some of these virtual friends for years. And these friendships are important to me. I care about these people, and I believe they care about me. We “like” each other’s posts and frequently have conversations about life experiences and day to day life. In times of trouble or sadness, we offer each other words of comfort and support. One of my Facebook friends that I have never met in person was recently diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of cancer. (Don’t give up, sometimes the doctor’s prognosis is wrong and there is more time to be had!) I am saddened by my friend’s diagnosis and think of her several times a day. My point is these types of friendships can have great value and be meaningful too.

I am blessed to live in an age where I can have friendships with people that live far away from me in distance, but we are close in spirit. I have reconnected with childhood friends and classmates, relatives that live far away. People I wouldn’t have the chance to be in touch with otherwise.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still have some friends that I visit with in person. Even a few new ones since I retired. And family members that I hang out with regularly. In fact, one of the best things is being friends with your adult daughter and your considerably younger brother and all the extended families that now come with them. I also know I am blessed that I love my family members and love spending time with them.

So, what is a friendship? I think it means different things to different people. May your friends be as dear to you as mine are to me.

Peace be with you!

Garden Gate
Appreciate all your friends!

Be a Covid Warrior!

Selfie

It is becoming safe to go out into the world and do a few things again for those of us who have been fortunate enough to receive our Covid vaccines. Life is no where near a return to normal though. Still, I am glad for those family members that I have been able to see in these past two weeks.

I went five months without seeing my daughter and three months without seeing my brother. And it was hard. I know others have had it so much worse, but at times this seemed like a lifetime. Time between visits was longer during the winter because it was too cold and snowy to meet outside often. This is the first year ever that my brother and I have celebrated our December birthdays outdoors. Mercifully, it was in the mid 50’s that day when we met under a park pavilion for cake. And our families were so glad to see each other that we were thrilled! After that, visits became farther apart while we waited for either warmer weather or vaccines, whichever came first.

One trick that I used to make myself feel better when my brother and I could not get together for a visit, was to wear this purple sweatshirt (above) that he gave me as a gift a couple of years ago. Wearing it makes me think of him and feel a little bit closer. It reminded me of getting together and knowing that we will do so again. Ditto, for a pair of earrings my daughter gave me.

Yes, these are just physical things but they are symbols. Signs of caring and hope. Do you have any coping mechanisms that seem silly like this, but help you?

My husband and I have received both doses of our Covid vaccines (Moderna). We are blessed and relieved. After the first dose, my arm hurt for two or three days but didn’t interfere with any activities. After the second dose, I had a headache and felt chilled during the first night. So I just went back to sleep. The second day I had a headache. The headache wasn’t that bad. I have had much worse.

This was the price to pay for freedom. And we have the knowledge that we are directly helping to stop the spread of the pandemic. Each one of us who receives the vaccine is a warrior against disease and possible death from infection. We need an army of warriors to emerge victorious.

Will you be part of the solution? Be a Covid Warrior!

A Bit of Pandemic Relief

Snowman
We can build a snowman

Today provided a bit of relief in my pandemic world. My husband and I drove up to visit my nieces and my brother and his wife. We met outside and stayed socially distant for a brief visit of about 40 minutes. This is Ohio and it was cold.

What do you do on an outdoor winter visit? You have a snowball fight and build a snowman! It was rejuvenating for me to watch the girls run and play, and to hear them laugh. The sound of their joyful laughter makes me laugh too.

The drive there took as long as the visit lasted but it was so worth it! And I scored a pack of hazelnut chocolate Oreos out of the deal. In my pre-Covid life when I would babysit the girls, I would always sample each of the flavors of Oreos on hand during my visit. Since it has been some time since I have been able to deplete my brother’s stock, he gave me some Oreos. No wonder I love him. (Truth be told, I would love him even if he were Oreo-less. Don’t tell!)

It was great to see my sister-in-law too. She is so nice and kind and thoughtful. God, I miss her.

I am blessed to have wonderful family that I truly enjoy spending time with. For now, that time must come in bits and pieces, but this will not always be so. Next goal, see my wonderful daughter. I am missing her too.

But for today, building a snowman and having a snowball fight is enough. Take joy where you can find it.

Socially Distanced

This is the face of a happy girl who got to see her family for the first time in three months!

There was no touching or hugging and everyone sat far apart. But still, it was awesome!

Yesterday, I saw my brother, his wife, and my two nieces. It was a balm to the soul. The girls were so well behaved and kept their distance. Not being able to see them for so long is the only thing that has made me cry during these times.

Today I saw my daughter, her boyfriend, and mother in law. We split the gatherings because it’s easier to social distance and sanitize with less people.

We practiced giving air hugs from six feet away. Not nearly as satisfying, but better than nothing.

These times seem unique to me, but really, it’s happened before. The pox epidemic of the 1600’s. The influenza outbreaks of the late 1800’s and, of course, of 1918. Pandemics resulting in mask wearing and extreme measures. Likely, it will happen again.

Let’s not again take for granted the time spent with family and friends though. Let us remember to cherish each other’s company. It is a gift that will not soon lose its value.

Birthday Pie?

What do you do for your wonderful mother in law’s birthday cake when she is a pie person?

You search Pinterest until you find a pie recipe fitting for the occasion. Then you drive to the farm market to get the good peaches before going to the grocery store to get the other ingredients needed. You make the peach custard pie with crumb topping.

You add a decorative rose made of pie dough.

And then the hardest part, you make sure not to eat any before her big day!

A Day at the Beach

We may not live near the ocean but we are fortunate to have a Great Lake just over an hour away. So, we spent Monday on the beach. The weather was perfect. Warm with just enough cloud cover to keep us from roasting. And let me tell you, that SPF 50 sunscreen is good stuff! Previous years I used SPF 30 and was burnt for days afterwards. With the 50, I was just nicely tanned.

The day is also special because my husband and I spend it with our grandchildren and our daughter. We have traditions to go with our annual day at Lake Erie. Most revolve around food, especially the ice cream before we hit the road to head back home. I got the Lake Erie Salt Mine again this year-dark chocolate ice cream with swirls of salty caramel and caramel truffles. Yum!

I’m already looking forward to next year!

Such Days As These

Many of our best days are spent here at home, but not all of them. Today, hubby and I went to the zoo with our dear sister in law and two nieces. It was a stellar day!

The chance to hang out and bond with Niece 1 (The Child of Questions And Amazement) and share the experiences of seeing all the animals was priceless. And Uncle (aka hubby) and Niece 1 even got to ride a camel together!

And what a blessing to share a zoo day with Niece 2 (The Child of Boundless Joy). She is happy to share everything we see and do together. Every new encounter was met with a smile. (She, would refer to herself as Miss I Talk a Lot). That was her catch phrase for the day.

After a hot and satisfying day, we partook of our zoo tradition. We all had ice cream together to cool off and round out the adventure.

Such days as these help to make our lives complete

A Wonderful Gift

I had a wonderful 4th of July holiday last week for numerous reasons. Not the least of which was my brother had this piece of art commissioned as a surprise gift for me. There was no occasion, my brother is just thoughtful and awesome! The work is of my dog Duncan, who I still miss immensely and will always be a part of me even though he has been gone for some years now.

The drawing was done from one of my favorite photos of Duncan. You can see the bond we shared reflected in his eyes.

The piece now resides in my office at work so I can enjoy it there. The portrait was done by a family member in my brother’s extended family. Thanks Chris Whitaker! I would recommend Chris if you are interested in something similar of one of your own furry or feathered family members. He has an Etsy Shop called WHITSwhiskers.

Hope your days are blessed with such thoughtful and talented family as well.

Making Memories, Do It Now

Daughters
My daughter, that I dearly love spending time with, and me.

I have been spending some time in contemplation lately. What is really important in life? Making the world a better place and improving the conditions of living things certainly is up there. That goes without saying.

I have begun to realize though that making time to spend with those you love is much more important than I have given it credit for in the past. We go about our busy daily lives. There is always more to do. We tend to take our loved ones for granted. I’ll spend time with them next week. I’ll make the trip to see my dear friend next month. Often, when next week or next month arrives, we say, ok I’ll really go see them next week or month. And so on. We think that we will always have another opportunity to see them. This may not be true.

Making memories with my grandchildren at Lake Erie
Making memories with my grandchildren at Lake Erie

This fact has been becoming more plain to me and the point was really driven home last night. I went to calling hours for a friend’s daughter. The daughter was only 30 years old and succumbed to a short term battle with breast cancer. The funeral home was full of people who were stunned that this young, beautiful, successful lady was taken from them with so little warning. The father said to me, take the time to make those memories. It is important to spend time together, be there for each other, and spend time making the fun and meaningful memories too. Then we will have something to cherish and hold near to our hearts.

My niece training Nikki
Spending time showing my niece how to train Nikki

I have lost a number of people who where close to me in the last year. There is not one of them that I don’t wish I had spent more time with. I have learned. In the future I will try more often to spend time with people. I may not have the chance again.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Friends
Me and my friend Becky in Bar Harbor, Maine, 1998.

The last year has been quite a time of change and loss for me. Last June my mother died. Two of my very close, dear friends died of cancer related illnesses, one in March and one in May of this year. In June we lost our beloved greyhound, Phoebe, to a traumatic injury as a result of cancer. And yesterday my one-time mother-in-law, and always mother, left this earth.

For a while I was feeling very mortal, not to mention old. I dare say I was somewhat depressed. This seems understandable considering the losses I have had to bear. Now I am reaching the point of being retrospective. I would not want any of my loved ones to continue to suffer their worldly pains and infirmities. Ok, maybe a selfish part of me wants that so I could still have them with me. But the other part of me knows that it is selfish and too much to ask. Sometimes love is letting go. At least for me.

And so it is time to reframe my outlook on life. It is time for the last pictures of me and them, taken during their end days, to come down and be replaced with pictures of us in the good times. Pictures of us living our lives and embodying the joy we shared. Pictures that embrace life! My friends and family were not their illnesses. I will honor them by remembering the love.

Family
Family-my brother, me, and my then mother-in-law at Stan Hywett in 1998

The memories and love are but one part of the experience though. The rest is what I choose to do now. My loved ones are gone. I am not. It is still my time on this earth. Time to live by one of my favorite quotes, the author is unknown to me.

“I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do… or any kindness that I can show-let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again.”

It is my time to show perseverance, caring, helpfulness, occasional goofiness, and undying love. I shall take the parts that they have left me and use them to help pave the way for the rest of my life. The life that is still to come. They will go with me and continue to make a difference in the world. We are but a sum of our experiences and what we choose to do with them. And my friends, I choose to go on joyfully living, taking the bits of each I have known who have gone before me, with me. Onward!