Archive for January 2013

Never Alone

She has compassion and empathy because she, alone, was there.  She remembers.

No one else can understand, no matter how hard they might try, because they simply weren’t there.

She remembers juggling motherhood and a career and being torn between the two.  When she was at work, she thought about that baby.  When with the baby, she worried that something was neglected at work.  She longed for peace with both.

She picked him up from the sitter’s, drove home, and carried him inside with the diaper bag slung over one shoulder and brief case on the other.  She lugged everything into the nursery, laid him on the changing table, dropped the bags, and changed his diaper.  Nothing was said, but they were together.  She removed her suit jacket exposing a black and white slick polka dot blouse.  As she fastened the diaper, she realized he had grabbed her sleeve and rubbed the fabric between his fingers.  The contrast must have appealed to him.  There was a slight grin.  No one else was present – just the two of them, alone.

She fed him and kept him with her in the kitchen as she prepared something alone and cleaned up the dishes.

He rarely fussed and was relaxed with a bath just before bedtime.

She warmed the bottle and headed back  to the nursery with him in her arms, his soft skin releasing the gentle smell of baby lotion.  Bottle, blanket, and baby in tow, she sat down in the rocker and watched him fade into never neverland as she rocked and held the bottle for him – such innocence.  No one else was there.  The day was done.  They slept and, at dawn, began again.

She walked him to the corner on his first day of school.  He was so excited and both were unaware of the bullying he would endure the next few years.  When she found out, she covered him with her feathers.  No one knew.

She shared the joys and disappointments of adolescence.  She paced when he pitched.  No one seemed to notice.

The time came to let him fly.  Sometimes he fell.  She picked him up and set his feet on solid ground.

As she learned her favorite dance, the waltz, she learned such is life – the rise and the fall, the rise and fall – and learned to accept both.

She went to bed, but sleep eluded her.  She sought peace – peace for the night and peace for the next day.  She turned on her side as the pillow gathered the tears that no one knew fell.

Morning came, and she found grace to begin again.  She realized she was not alone.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

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Happy Birthday Again, Daddy!

I posted this blog one year ago today, but remembering is more real when I look at this picture – the day my youngest sister graduated from high school.  Today would have been Daddy’s 89th birthday.  So happy birthday again, Daddy!

Today I am remembering my father.  Daddy was only 67 years old when he died.  When I think about the passage of time related to his death, I compare it to my youngest son who recently celebrated his 21st birthday.  He was only six months old when his grandfather died.  So Daddy has been gone almost 21 years and would be 88 years old today – doesn’t seem possible.

I remember that I looked at obituaries frequently the first few years after his death wondering who was awarded a few more years than my dad and wondering why – trying to equate fairness and justice to death.  Of course, I would see many who left this life sooner than Daddy and knew that wasn’t fair either.  I wanted to figure it all out; I wanted an explanation.  After all, 67 was far too young to die.  Why was his illness leading to death prolonged?

Trying to figure out death is an impossible task – why some depart so young and others live for decades.  Why do some very good people have fewer years than some who are very mean and nasty?  I can’t figure this all out, so I will simply remember …

I remember that picture of you, Daddy, on the beach during World War II – so fit and trim in swimming trunks and military cap.  I remember as a younger man with a family of daughters how tanned and young looking you were from working outside.  I thought you were very handsome. I remember people telling me how much I looked like you (and I don’t believe it was just the brown eyes).  I remember that you made us laugh by talking like Donald Duck.  (How did you do that?)  I remember that you commanded respect.  I remember that you taught by example more than by words.  I remember the time you didn’t yell at me when I backed the car into the side of the garage. I remember that you were a good provider for your family – that we never missed a meal or lacked a bed to sleep in.  I remember that you loved to fish.  I remember sharing a love of sports.  I remember that you kept all the vehicles running well.  I remember the HUGE tomatoes that you grew in your garden after you retired.  I remember that you were a man of your word.

You were a good father, Daddy.  I only wish that my sons could remember.

Yes, some days I still look at the obituaries and ask the same questions.  I still cannot figure it out, but I do have peace – peace in knowing as I stated in Reflections, Chapter 7: “Understanding is yet for another place and time …”

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”   I Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

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Let It Snow

Why do I love this white stuff that others detest, even abhor?  I don’t know.  Let us reason together.

The first decade in my life was lived out in my birthplace town in southern California.  On clear days, I remember peering out the window in our dining room and seeing white-capped mountaintops.  They seemed close yet were so very far away, especially the white stuff on the top Mother said was snow.  I believed her, although the only snow I had ever seen fall was on Christmas television specials.  I remember longing for the white Christmases I would see with Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and the like.  Snow in these programs added magic to the holidays and the Santa story.  But Santa always seemed to make it to our house without the snow and without the chimney.  Thank goodness!

I remember going to my older sister’s Christmas program at school and loving the part where she walked around with a boy in a winter village while singing “Winter Wonderland” and thinking how neat that was.

I remember one year, snow was predicted north of us.  Mother planned a day trip to take us and our friends to play in the snow.  But tonsillitis struck; and I wound up staying with my friend’s mother while she, my sisters, and their friends got to go play in the snow. 🙁

The next year, snow had fallen again north of us and Mother tried her best to get me there.  But by the time we arrived, it had melted. 🙁  Was I ever going to get to see and touch real snow?

I also thought it would be wonderful to wear a fur coat so frequently pretended that my house robe was a fur coat when I dressed up and played “house.”    I watched Mother pack to travel back to the Midwest one autumn for her brother’s funeral (way too young to die) and was fascinated with a cardigan with a fur-trimmed edging going in the suitcase.  It looked like mink, but I’m sure it was just a good imitation.  She told me it could already be cold in Missouri.  I wondered if there might even be snow and thought how lucky she was to get to make the trip, although it was a sad time.  The first thing I remember asking her when she returned was, “Did you wear the sweater?”  (Alas, it wasn’t cold enough – didn’t get to wear it.)

Then the year came that Daddy moved us to the Midwest – the summer of 1965 – and I couldn’t wait for the first snowfall.  As I was getting ready for bed on that first Christmas Eve, the weatherman said there could be a flurry or two but nothing to be concerned about; and, certainly, we didn’t need to expect a white Christmas.  So off to bed I went a little disappointed but at least the excitement of Christmas was still in my heart and I was hopeful that the next few months would produce a few snowflakes.  And, of course, Santa was still very real so there were presents to look forward to.

I woke up the next morning, early as usual, and first thought I had slept in.  The room seemed especially bright.  The house was quiet, and I was sure no one else was awake.  Had we all overslept, even Daddy?  I peeked through the curtains and couldn’t believe my eyes.  SNOW!!!  The entire ground was covered.  In fact, I couldn’t see anything but snow.  I couldn’t wait to wake up my sisters.  And so, my friends, I learned the weatherman does “miss it” sometimes – a white Christmas indeed.  I believe about ten inches were officially recorded and, thus, I finally got my day in the snow with a few more days added on for good measure.  Sisters and I built a snowman and had our first snowball fight.  And while I didn’t have a fur coat, I did have a coat with scarf, mittens, leotards, and boots.

After a few years, the novelty wore off and I realized that snow could also dampen our modern running-to-and-fro lifestyle, but I always appreciated the beauty, especially the beauty of undisturbed snow.

My first trip to the Rocky Mountains surprisingly came in the summertime as a baseball mom.  For two straight years, we traveled to Steamboat Springs for a baseball tournament.  One of my sons and I thought it would be really cool to return in the wintertime and learn how to ski.  We kept that secret to ourselves since the remainder of the family didn’t share that sentiment.

A few years later, I visited Lake Tahoe with my sisters and Mother in the fall.  Although there wasn’t enough snow to learn to ski during that week in November, the majestic mountains capped with snow surrounding the lake provided us with some of the most breathtaking views known to man.  And then one winter, I specifically took a winter vacation to Estes Park just to be around the snow.  By that time, I had given up on learning to ski.  It was sufficient to sit around the fire and admire the views.  I still loved snow.

But maybe there’s a deeper reason.  I love my recently-paid-off car.  It’s pearl white, the color I wanted when I purchased the car before it.  I watched someone drive that car off the lot as I returned to make my down payment.  I had to settle for a blue one instead.  So when I shopped for my current car and found it in pearl white, I didn’t hesitate.  My very first car was also white.  I once had someone point out that white is a sign of hope.  And I read that white depicts faith, purity, and perfection.  [Hmm … pondering]

Although I do have an appreciation for the ocean and a tropical vacation, if I could pick only one dream vacation, it would be to hunker down with the fire, cocoa, and my journal with a blanket of snow surrounding outside amidst the mountains.  Yes, I do love snow.  But since I live in Kansas City, I must settle for  four or five blankets a year and appreciate the beauty when it arrives – like the other morning.  While others were cursing the cold and commute to work, I smiled and watched the sun rise up over the winter wonderland on this second day of the brand new year.

I pulled out of the drive in my white hope, and since I hadn’t tired of Christmas music, listened to Kenny G serenade  … sleigh bells ring are you listenin’ … – you guessed it – “Winter Wonderland.”

And one other tidbit that comes to mind:  “Though [my] sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow …” Isaiah 1:18  (NIV)

Maybe that’s why I love snow.

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