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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Today was the end of an era for me. My best friend from college was laid to rest. This forces the issue of mortality in my mind. Becky and I were friends for 35 years. On one hand 35 years is quite a while. On the other hand I did not have her in my life for nearly long enough. In another 35 years I will be close to 90 years old. I guess it just points out that we need to make the most of our times together.
And Becky and I did have some most awesome times! The picture above is from our trip to Maine, most of which was spent in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. We hiked, we ate ice cream and lobster, we shopped, camped, went to the beach, and hiked some more. We discovered on this trip that I can make a 180 degree turn in a full size pickup when I see an ice cream stand! Totally worth it. Becky laughed about that for years.
This picture is from our hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain. We were quite proud. Although this trip is one of the highlights of our adventures, there were so many more.
Our group of college friends had annual Christmas parties, even as families grew. Becky spent many, many weekends with me when we were both single. Through all the years and life changes we always kept in contact. At some points more often than others. It was always as if no time had passed when we got together again.
I’m sure that will be the case when some day in the distant future we are hanging out together again. Becky will live on as a part of me. Just like a quote I saw somewhere. Death ends a life, not a relationship. Until we meet again my friend.
Valentine’s Day is a family event for us. And what a blessing our family is. My husband cooks a dinner for all the women in his family. The men of the family are allowed to tag along too.
This year was a five course dinner. Two soups, a salad, entrée, and chocolate layer cake. All from scratch. I was allowed to make the bread sticks this year. That was nice because I got to hang out in the kitchen and we talked while while I kneaded the dough and rolled out the bread sticks.
This year we had my husband and myself, his mother, our daughter and her boyfriend, and my brother, his wife, and their little girl. We had such fun! My niece saw the cake being frosted in the kitchen and her eyes got big. She kept wanting to know when it was time for the cake and announced “I like cake”. A girl after my own heart.
And nothing at our house is complete without the animals. Here Morty inspects the flowers which were courtesy of my mother-in-law. In addition to our four dogs we also had Coco the Corgi.
I hope that each of you had a Valentine’s Day that contained as many blessings as ours did! Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.