When I contemplate my blessings and my life in general my emotions sometimes get the best of me and writing becomes a bit of a challenge. I think some of my favorite stuff comes from that state of mind where only gratitude and love reside. This will likely be one of those, since I am about to tell you of the things I thank God for and remember a few moments I am grateful to have lived.
Momma turned 89 in October and is young at heart and as spry as most 70 year olds. Her mind is a little slower to recall, but still sharp as ever. She still dresses with care everyday, wearing comfortable clothes like jeans or sweatpants or comfy dress slacks with her choice of sweaters, soft pull-overs or sweatshirts. Whatever she chose, it matches. Her hair always looks neat and in place. She only wears shoes when she goes outside. Inside is for bare feet or if it's chilly, socks. She reads whatever books she can get her hands on and then will tell me which ones were good and which ones, well, not so good. (She said she loved my books, by the way.) Her TV is on if she is out of bed and the volume set so as not to bother any neighbors, whether or not she can hear it, it will not be bothering anyone. She no longer drives, but otherwise, takes care of most of her needs. I am more than happy to take care of the big stuff and to be her taxi. She appreciates what I do for her and tells me so often. Every Friday I pick her up and bring her home with me for the afternoon. We do her hair and she stays for dinner or we go out for dinner. She prefers to eat here, I think. Dining out doesn't really appeal to her so much anymore and I'm with her about that, so eating in is most often the plan. I love cooking for her because she loves everything. She doesn't cook a lot anymore, but she can still make a good pot of chili and the occasional tuna noodle casserole for herself. We get groceries together and run any other errands she might want to run on another day and besides those two days, I stop in to see her if I am in town for anything, she lives just 2 miles from me and that rocks. She used to live 45 minutes away until 2 years ago. I am so happy she moved here. No list of my blessings could start any other way, I am so very thankful to have her in my life and so very thankful for her good health and almost always good attitude.
My roomy has to go on this list because, I am telling you the truth here, there isn't another man who could have or would have put up with me for all these years. He is nearly my polar opposite, personality wise. He talks to me and to the grandkids, but he isn't much of a talker otherwise. He can seriously sit in a crowded room of family and say nothing for hours. He listens. He laughs. He just doesn't talk. When he does, it's usually either something funny or important. (I am not like that. I just talk.) He works full time even though he is 8 years past retirement age, according to Social Security. He likes his job, most days, and can't imagine not going to work every day. When I retired he started talking about retiring, but so far that hasn't happened. Maybe next year. (*giggling, just a bit*) Since he has no real hobby and no real interests except lawn maintenance, his winters would be very boring and very long. I don't care if he works or retires, I just care that he still likes me. I think that sometimes it's okay to be my roomy because I do cook almost everyday and I do keep a clean house. I make sure the bills are paid on time and I make sure he doesn't go into debt beyond his means. I make sure things get fixed when they are broken, one way or the other. I have my good points, but day to day, I might be a bit difficult. I not only keep a clean house, but I also insist he take care of his crap. Not something he thinks is necessarily important. He will always take care of things, eventually. I need things clean all the time. An empty bottle or cup sitting on the end table after you've made several trips to the kitchen, not acceptable. Take it with you. Leaving several outfits hanging on the back of the bathroom door, not acceptable. We have closets for that. He likes to leave certain things, umm in a handier spot than the closet. I could go on and on, but I am sure you see what a pain in the butt I would be, if you weren't also a little over-the-top-nutso about your environment. A place for everything and everything in it's place. How does this relationship work? (I know you're thinking that.) It works because he is my life partner. He knows everything there is to know about me and he still likes me. He loves me as I am and thinks our differences are unimportant because we have family that we both love, we have respect for each other and we have one goal in common. That goal is simply to be there for each other as long as we are able. We have both been divorced and we neither one desire another. This marriage was meant to be until death and it shall be. I can't even imagine what my life would be like without him because he really is my other half. He is my yin and I'm his yang. For all the good and bad times of life, this is the man I want beside me. He doesn't lead me, he doesn't follow me. We walk our days side by side and hand in hand. I am thankful that somehow we found each other and somehow we fell in love. I am thankful that we will spend all the remaining days of our lives together.
I am a sister. I am thankful that my siblings are exactly who they are. My sister is also my friend and the saying you see all over that says something like, "Sisters by blood, friends by choice" is my truth. I have only one sister and lucky for me, she's a keeper.
When we were kids it wasn't such a great thing. She didn't much like me and I guess I pretty much thought she was a snot. We shared a room and sometimes clothes and that's about all. We just didn't socialize with each other partly because of the 5 year difference in age and partly because we had nothing in common. I have always been a very creative and exasperating person. I always liked having my own space and being alone in it. She has always been a bit more of a rebel than I. Make a rule and she'll ignore it, if it doesn't fit into her needs. She was the smart one and she was also beautiful. In my mind, she was just about perfect. She didn't always do what Mom and Dad had in mind, but she wasn't ever in trouble. Grounded, often, but that only led the way for me to have more freedom, so that wasn't a bad thing. When she got married, somehow, we became best friends. She moved out and I spent a ridiculous amount of time at her apartment. I really missed her. She had a baby and I practically moved in with her. I couldn't get enough of that little girl. She was the love of my life from the moment I first touched her tiny, soft face. That was our biggest and most enduring bonding experience. With the birth of that baby girl, my sister became my focus. I wanted her to have whatever she wanted and I would do whatever I could to help her get it. I have loved her every moment of my life, but I liked her with every beat of my heart after she moved out! Just to cement our relationship a bit more, I married her husband's brother. Yep, we fell in love with brothers. We had 2 kids each and now the four of them are double cousins, or so I call them. We raised our kids for a while just a few blocks apart and then a few miles apart and then my marriage fell apart. Her's lasted until her girls were much older. That's a story for another day, but for this story, let it suffice to say that we have both ended up with the right man and both of us now have the kind of life we can smile about. Our kids are all grown and have given us the ultimate gift, we are Grandma's now and her kids are still a giant part of my heart. I am more than an Aunt, I am THE Aunt, in my mind. A few years ago, she became very ill. For a few days, very scary days, we didn't know what was wrong and that she nearly died. I don't believe I have ever felt so helpless and so sad as those days. She is fine now and that ordeal passed without lingering results, except that I appreciate her even more. I really am thankful for my sister, Pat, and for her family which is such an important part of MY family. So many stories I could tell about us, but they would all end with, "Thank God, I have her in my life."
My brother has not lived in Michigan, like the rest of us do, since about 1968, I think. He moved for his job to Indiana and has since been either in Indiana or Illinois. He is close enough to get here for special days and far enough away not to be hanging out just for fun. His daughters have never lived here and we have not gotten as close as we might have, had he lived here, but they now bring their families to the reunion which is at my home every summer and we have gotten to know them all over again as adults. They are wonderful women with great families. As a child, my brother was the stereotypical brother with a younger sister. He tormented me endlessly. He teased me, he scared me, he laughed at me and yet, if I needed to be rescued, he was the one. I apparently slid down the side of the creek bank and hit my head on the ice one time, cutting my head open and knocking myself out. He picked me up and got me home to Mom. His words, "I saved your life!" Yeah, maybe. I think, he probably had something to do with me falling in the first place, but I do not remember. We played with the same boys in our neighborhood, (there were no girls, but me) and it was okay because mostly I played by myself anyway. He bought a car with money from his first job and it was the coolest car ever. I loved it. He gave me rides to school almost everyday. That was too cool. After high school he was injured rather severely in a construction accident. Our dad was there working with him when a ditch collapsed on him. His pelvis was broken and he was in the hospital for what seemed like months. It wasn't, but it was a long time. When he finally came home, I had to tell him that I had driven his car to town once to get supplies for dinner. I wanted to make something and no one was home but me and so I just took his car. Oh, did I mention that I was 15? No license and no way that I should have done that, but it seemed like a plan at the time. I got in big, big trouble for it, but the worse was that I had to tell him.
He, I thought, would have a tantrum or never speak to me again or something like that. I was really afraid. I told him, he just laid there on the bed Mom and Dad had set up in the living room for his recuperation period. Just looking at me. I finally said something like, "Well?" He just laughed and then grimaced and told me to get lost, it really hurt to laugh. That might have been the second time I knew that I loved my brother. The first time was, when my Mom told me what had happened in that ditch and I realized that I could have lost him that day. When he married and shortly after moved out of state, we kind of drifted apart. We had our first babies just months apart and since mine was born first, we headed down to Indiana to meet our new niece. This was our relationship for the next, well, that's kind of still our relationship! We see each other about 4 times a year. I miss him, I mean I miss the idea of him being closer, I guess, but I know he is where he wants to be. His girls have families and he and his wife are near them. They make the trip to be with us for all the holidays except Christmas and it's wonderful to spend those days with them. I am so thankful that he and his wife make this sacrifice, it's over 4 hours one way, for themselves, for us and for Mom. I am thankful for my brother and thankful that even though he is hours from us, he is always in our lives.
My first born was a girl. She was the most perfectly beautiful baby girl ever. I used to just stare at her as I held her or when she was lying in her crib and I would just marvel at how angelic she was. She had the most beautiful hair by the time she was 2 and it hung in long curls past her shoulders. I learned this was baby hair and when she was about 2 and a half, I cut her hair to her shoulders and watched the curls disappear...forever. (*sighing*) She was a very easy baby, cried very little, needed very little and smiled a lot. She laughed at everything. Or I was the funniest mommy ever, not sure which. She was a really good big sister, at first. She wanted to help with everything and did a good job entertaining her brother to allow me to accomplish a few household things from time to time. They played very well until they got to be school aged, then it all fell apart. Back to her...I never for even a moment was disappointed or bewildered by this little girl. She was just a joy right up until she became a teenager. That is another blog, a very long one. She has managed in spite of her parenting, to become a truly remarkable woman. She has two daughters who make the sun shine for me on the rainiest of days. She has become the most effective parent you can imagine. She is raising her girls to be independent and responsible, to know right from wrong and perhaps most importantly, to take responsibility for their own actions. They know what consequences are. Seeing her as an adult is difficult for me. I have to remind myself all the time that she is all grown up. I know that, but I will probably always see her as my perfectly perfect baby girl. (She is engaged to a really good man and Scott has taken his place in our life as if he were always meant to be here.) I was there 2 minutes after she gave birth to her first child and I can tell you, if you haven't experienced the birth of your daughter's daughter, it's a miracle of gigantic proportion. It is ingrained on my brain as if it happened yesterday not 12 years ago. The birth of the second girl was 2 years later and just as miraculous AND I made it there in time to actually see her make her appearance. I cry now just remembering that moment. I am eternally grateful to my daughter for wanting me with her when she gave birth. It was the most lasting gift I shall ever receive. The blessing of a daughter is one I am so grateful for and this particular woman is my source of pride and honor. I am thankful every minute of my life for my little girl and her little girls.
When my little angel was 18 months old we welcomed my son. He was unexpected but so welcome in my life. The flu I was unable to cure turned into the little boy for this generation in our family. My sister has 2 girls and my brother has 3. I had the boy child as my brother was the boy child in our generation. Our family has only boy each generation. (Well, we did. This go 'round, we have 2 so far. My sister has a grandson and so do I.) Since I was never a little boy, nor was I a teenage boy, this child was a little bit of a challenge to my parenting skills. Okay, I raised him without a man for several years and it was beyond difficult. His mind didn't work like a little girl, shocker! I could never figure him out. Every toy had to be disassembled. Everything that had a moving part had to be inspected and if possible, made not to move anymore. Everything was a riding toy or should be. He climbed to great heights, literally. He could scale anything! He always wanted to be on top of whatever was in the room. He tried, it usually worked out. He rode his tyke bike down the stairs. He got on the roof of one of the old buildings in our little town and he threw snow balls at passing cars. He did things boys do. I had no clue. I did the best I could and I can say this, if not much else, I loved this guy so much. He fascinated me and he intrigued me and he frustrated me. He also taught me tolerance. Yes, he did that. I loved him in spite of the fact that I didn't understand him at all. In spite of the fact that I had no idea how his mind worked or if it did, I loved him. Many, many times I wondered if he even liked me and I knew he often wished I would just go away. I really never thought he would ever really love me. He does. He has grown into such a wonderful man. He and I are very close now. He has married a woman who adores him and I couldn't be more pleased with his choice. She is my daughter-in-law and my chosen friend. I really love her and the fact that she has helped him give me two adorably loveable grandbabies has nothing to do with it. (LOL) She is a good person and I am always proud to introduce her as my daughter. Together they are fantastic parents. They are raising their son and daughter to be polite, to be independent and to laugh. They teach and discipline and love endlessly. My heart just smiles when these babies are in the same room with me. Yes, the Navy, the local police, my roomy and I have raised this crazy boy into an amazing man. I thank God for this gift and am more thankful than any words can say to have had the privilege of raising this miraculous man. He blesses me with his mere existence.
I am such a lucky and blessed woman, that I know as I look around me and see others with loving families that make their world's go 'round, life is all about family. If one is alone in this world, one must make family with friends. Oh, that isn't a law or even a rule, but it makes sense. If I were to find myself alone, I would have to create a new and different kind of family. I would reach out for anyone who might enhance my life or need my enhancement in theirs. I would find people who love being loved. I would work very hard molding my relationships and seeking to find what God has given me right here and right now.