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.
This was a fabulous holiday weekend! Not only was I off from work for four days, the weather was beautiful and I got to spend it with family and dogs. How much better could it get? Oh yeah, I got to read books and drink coffee in the mornings too!
I got to spend time with this cutie on the 4th. She’s my niece and she is already a dog girl at 2 1/2. She likes to feed her own dog at home. She also loves my little sheltie Nikki. Nikki is just her size. Here she is walking/training Nikki.
Whenever she sees me somewhere without a dog she always says “Where Nikki, where Phoebe? ” One time (many months ago) we met at a restaurant and she was looking for Phoebe as soon as she saw me. I guess I’m the crazy dog Aunt. Luckily I’m happy about that.
She’s not afraid to go in the fenced pasture and hang out with all of the dogs either. She was even throwing the Frisbee for Baxter. It wasn’t a very long throw but he was most appreciative. Baxter is patient and seems to understand effort.
This dog thing may run in the family. My dad was very into his dogs. I think it’s safe to say I got it too. And thus it goes.