Today would have been your 80th birthday. I was wondering what I would say to you if you could be here for just one more birthday, one more Mother’s Day. Then I remembered a dream I had after you passed. I was at a family gathering looking for you. Disappointed I couldn’t find you I sat down at a table and when I looked up you were sitting right across from me. You looked so young and so healthy, you smiled and we got up and embraced. As we hugged I actually felt your hair brush gently against my cheek and it suddenly seemed I was no longer just dreaming, this was an opportunity. I quietly said, “You were a good mom” and I woke with tears in my eyes. I know what I would say to you now if you could somehow magically appear like that for just a few moments today. I would give you a big hug, and then, as I felt your hair brush gently against my cheek I would simply whisper in your ear, “You’re a good mom. Happy birthday, happy Mother’s Day.”
I was listening to the Mumford & Son’s song the other day Ghosts That We Knew and at one point I heard the line, “…you saw no fault no cracks in my heart, and you knelt beside my hope torn apart.” For some reason those words really touched me. They seemed to sum up in such a visually poignant way what we all want and need from the people closest to us; our partners and parents, our children and siblings, those we call our friends. We want to know that someone will look beyond our failings and still love us, will look past the cracks and still love us, will kneel beside our brokenness and still love us when we need them most.
I’m lucky to have my husband Doug beside me still as we celebrate 34 years of marriage this week and that is my Wednesday wish for you–that you know the joy and blessing of a love that is quiet and kind and constant.
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“To be rich in admiration and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to love with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession in absence or unkindness – these are the gifts which money cannot buy.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
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I’ve been thinking about the human spirit lately, that delicate, resilient, ageless part of us that holds fast to our dreams, hopes, needs, and wants. And I’ve been wondering, can we keep the changing circumstances of our life, both good and bad, from changing that essential part of us?
“The light died in the low clouds. Falling snow drank in the dusk. Shrouded in silence, the branches wrapped me in their peace. When the boundaries were erased, once again the wonder: that *I* exist.”
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This is a photo of the oldest, dearest man in my life, my dad, and the newest, sweetest boy in my life, my little grandson taken two weeks ago at Ashton’s 1st birthday party. This is why I fell in love with photography when I was just a teenager. Because a photograph is never just a photograph. The light and shadows of an image hold the mercy and vulnerability of life itself, the beginning and the end, a single breath—in one hundredth of a second the shutter is released and a secret is revealed. Sometimes I think it’s almost selfish, the way the camera allows us to capture a moment like this, snatch it right out of thin air before it disappears forever in a stream of faded memory. And yet…this is why I fell in love with photography when I was just a teenager.
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I had a lovely visit with a friend and her granddaughter recently and I couldn’t help but bring my camera along when I met baby Claire so I could chase her around and take a few pics. She’s a cutie and it didn’t take her long to simply ignore the strange lady with the big black camera lens stuck to her face and go about her baby busyness. I’ve noticed on Twitter and various blogs recently that some people are choosing a single word as their New Year’s resolution. I like that idea, coming up with a one word theme that we want to honor, or infuse into our lives as we begin another year. Watching Claire explore her grandma’s house that afternoon was very relaxing and even mood boosting and it reminded me how as grown-ups we often forget the importance of play. Of doing something “just because”, with no agenda, no expectation of what we will get out of an activity, what we will accomplish.
My daughter got a small white kitten before she moved out a few years ago. I was going through some difficult things at the time but “Mr. Boo” didn’t know, or care about my troubles, he just wanted me to drag a piece of string across the floor so he could chase it. As it turns out, the hours I spent sitting on the floor playing with him was good medicine because play is the opposite of depression. Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneering researcher in the field of play, said in a TED video, “Nothing lights up the brain like play. Three-dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe–the executive portion–and helps contextual memory to be developed.” When I start singing the blues in 2012, I’m going to remind myself of my word, “play”, and then I’ll whisper my thanks to a six month old baby girl and a little white kitten for reminding me how it’s done!
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt
Those are my husband’s slippered feet, relaxing as he sits back and admires the Christmas tree. We put it up last weekend. Mrs. Scrooge (that would be moi) questioned whether we should bother, we usually have it up at the beginning of December so we can enjoy it all month long. But sick mom’s, bad backs, and other stresses slowed down the holiday fa la la-ing around here, and while I was ready to make do with the fireplace and mantle adornments alone, Doug wanted (actually seemed to need) the tree up. So up it went. While the movie, “Elf”, played in the background, we hung the ornaments one by one, remembering the significance of each as we filled the empty branches of the tree with keepsakes of our 32 years together.
There was our son’s “Baby’s 1st Christmas” satin ball, the tiny red sleigh our daughter made in 2nd grade with her school photo glued in the center, the dancing Kokopelli from a family trip to Sedona, the yellow cab from our New York City adventure, the hand crocheted bird’s nest Doug’s grandmother made us, the little wooden nutcrackers we bought when we were first married and couldn’t afford the beautiful Christopher Radco glass ornaments we have since collected. I must admit, I’m glad we put the tree up. There’s something very relaxing about the evenings now, sitting in the family room with Doug, wrapped in the sparkling glow of the Christmas tree lights.
At the end of my book, one of the characters is reflecting on his life, on the fear and the grief that has literally driven him deep into the woods. He comes to the realization that what he’s feeling is okay, that he hasn’t been indelibly damaged by loss, that “the monster he had been running from wasn’t really a monster after all. It was simply that place in the heart that holds the measure of your history, the joy and the grief, the laughter and the tears, the magic and the wonder; all the ingredients that add up to the story of a life well lived.” The holidays can be difficult. Too much running, too much spending, too much forced holiday cheer when really all we want from Santa sometimes is a little peace and quiet, or better yet, a little peace of mind. To me, a Christmas tree is kind of like that place in the heart, the ornaments we choose and those given to us are delicate echoes of the joys and the losses that make up our stories. So yes, it was worth the trouble, putting up the tree and filling it with our memories. Whether it’s for one week or four weeks or one hundred weeks, taking the time to honor the wonder and magic of Christmas, of our lives, is a worthy and lovely way to spend an afternoon. Merry Christmas Mr. Day, and to all my friends and family near and far whether or not you celebrate Christmas, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, and wonder filled 2012.
Watched the grandkids for a few hours last Sunday and had us some much needed soul soothing fun and laughter.
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“To become a grandparent is to enjoy one of the few pleasures in life for which the consequences have already been paid.” ~Robert Brault