Category Archives: Family

Meeting My Other Son

I distinctly remember the day my son-in-law came into my life.   I don’t exactly remember how the day came about but I do remember the moment my daughter came through the front door along with her then, boyfriend.   I was going through one of the darkest times of my life and the world just kept moving forward around me.   It’s funny how that happens.   When we are in crisis we expect the world to stop, but it doesn’t, nor should it.

They came into the room where I was sitting. I looked at my daughter and then at the man that stood behind her like a giant. I remember thinking… Oh. My. Goodness.   This guy was big. He stood at least 6’4” tall, he was broad and strong, he had no hair, and he was covered with tattoos!  Again I thought, Oh. My. Goodness. I couldn’t take my eyes off of  him.

My daughter introduced him to me and that’s when he spoke. As he spoke I began to melt. His speech was gentle and kind and his eyes were warm and comforting. I welcomed him into my home. I looked at my daughter and then at him and I knew this was going to be good.

He seemed so shy in the beginning. I soon discovered he was one of those people that had to get to know you before he would open up. I understood that. It really did take quite a long time to get to know him. Over time I watched and I waited. He became engaged to my daughter and she bubbled over with happiness.

Like a good friendship his relationship with all of us evolved slowly. Honestly I worried a little in the beginning but as time went on the bonds between him and each of our family members began to take root.   He first became a brother to my son.   As much as my son wanted to hate him for no other reason than he was dating his sister, well it just didn’t happen.   They became fast friends…they became brothers.

My husband, who wasn’t yet my husband, was asked to perform their wedding ceremony. He got licensed for the day, performed the ceremony, danced the father daughter dance with my daughter and in my eyes on that day our family melded together into a new and beautiful family unit.   That day was one of the best days of my life.

My husband and I are now grandparents to their two beautiful children. I have watched my son-in-law through these past years. He has treated my daughter with love and affection and yes, he sometimes tames the firecracker that is within her. He is a strong loving father to their two children. He is a good brother to my son. And best of all he is more of a son than a son-in-law to my husband and me.

I…we could not have asked for a better son-in-law. I am thankful and I love him like he is my own.

Happy Birthday to you…Son

 

Son, Family
One of my favorite pictures.

 

I Turned 60!!

I turned 60 this month and I feel great. Not only physically (ok, I have a few new aches and pains) but mentally. When I married my husband almost six years ago, I remember sitting at the breakfast table the day after our wedding and asking him if he felt different. I told him that I did. I told him I felt like the circle was complete. I looked at his wedding band (which was my fathers wedding band) and I told him I never felt like that circle was complete before, there was always something missing, like the circle that the wedding band represents never came fully around to meet the other side. I now felt that completeness in my life and in my heart, with him.

So, now I’m sixty!   Sixty!! I can’t believe it, and somehow I feel rejuvenated! I have no idea why.  I’m feeling like I did that morning sitting at the breakfast table with my husband.  Like a new and wonderful shift has just occured.

I compartmentalize my life into decades. It seems as I enter each new decade in my life I feel something different. In my 20’s, I had everything and a lifetime ahead of me. My choices were endless. I had no idea what I was doing but I felt unlimited potential.

My thirties was a rough decade. I felt like, “well, I’m not in my 20’s anymore, I’m no longer cool.” I realized that when I was getting my hair cut one day and the girl cutting my hair said something like, “well don’t you look cute with you mom jeans and tennis shoes on!” I think she meant it as a compliment but I felt overweight, tired and ugly wearing my big plastic glasses that I had to start wearing after the birth of my daughter.  In a short time I had my second child, my son.    I hadn’t really gained a lot of weight after having my kids but everything shifted and got soft. I would look in the mirror and feel ugly. No one told me otherwise.

Then my forties rolled around. I had kind of recuperated from my thirties. I realized I wasn’t cool anymore and I accepted that. I realized that yes my body had shifted and changed but I still wasn’t doing to bad for my age and compared to some of my friends I was doing pretty good.   I had a good job, was making decent money, enough to cover the bills anyway. I never had enough for the “extras” and every month life felt pinched. That got more difficult as the two kids got older and started “wanting” more things.   It’s hard to say no when all their friends seemed to have everything they wanted whenever they wanted.

The strain of those kinds of demands and the kids being in their teenage years was starting to ware on me. The strain of “life” was beginning to bare down. My spouse was for all intents and purposes “checked out.” I was basically becoming a single parent to my children; I had an angry teenage son, and a daughter who thankfully took life in stride. She was my anchor. I don’t know if she ever really knew that, but I drew a lot of strength from her, and I still do (She’s thirty now.)

As I was just scraping by that decade my fifties hit. Whoopie, I get a big surprise party (that I didn’t want) and a month later, just after a miserable Thanksgiving holiday my spouse informed me he didn’t want to be married to me any more. Well, welcome to my fifties!   After an even more miserable next three months he left for good. Well, okay, I asked (told) him to leave for good. He wasn’t there anyway, for any of us and we needed to move on.   Apparently he did to, because  we haven’t seen him since. Ouch…. I used to cry, but at some point I made the healthy decision that he would not get any more of my thoughts, energy or tears.

So my fifties was a big turning point. I became single, my kids were forced onto the fast track to become amazing, independent young adults. The three of us bonded in so many wonderfully special ways it’s hard to describe. My son and daughter began to love and protect each other fiercely, and I mean fiercely. If you were to look at one of them cross- eyed, the other one would be there to protect and defend. It was amazing to watch. My daughter became my caretaker for a time when I wasn’t able to care for myself. I was so devastated by what seemed like the total destruction of the life I knew that I was only functioning.   I smile and am thankful at the many times she put a bowl of oatmeal or a bowl of soup in front of me and said, “mom, here…you need to eat this, you need to eat something.” I will be forever grateful for her nurturing me during that ugly time.

And, I will be forever grateful to my son for “manning up” and becoming the pillar of strength that I needed him to be. He became the “man of the house” and he watched over me with caring protectiveness.

The three of us struggled and battled our way through that time. We grew strong and fierce and life moved forward. My daughter met her now husband during that “fifties decade.” They are married now with two children.

I reached out to the man I had dated right out of high school, when I was 17 and he was 20. We had dated for five years before going our separate ways. (there is another story)   We reconnected, dated for four years and have been married now for six years. During the dating time, he performed the marriage of “our” daughter to her husband, he has become grandpa to our two grandchildren and he has bonded and helped “our” son with a business venture. And somewhere in there I retired from my job of 20 years. We are a family and life is good.

And, now?…I turned 60!!   I turned 60 and I feel like this is a new decade that will consist of wonderful new life experiences and adventures.   So far, I’ve had lunch with my best friend who I worked with for 17 years, my husband and I had dinner with a friend of my husbands from many, many years ago and his wife. They are fabulous funny people who are moving to Hawaii! I see adventure there! I had a birthday dinner with my husband at Bella Bru, we had a fabulous waitress and fabulous dessert! I had In and Out with my mom (93 yrs young) yesterday after we went shopping. That’s her new favorite hang out. We’re meeting up with our daughter and her husband tonight for another dinner and soon we are leaving for Maine!!

Yes, my sweet husband asked me what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday and I said I’d like a nice lobster dinner. He said, okay, “I’ll make a reservation.” I said, “no, you don’t understand, I want a really good lobster dinner!” Next thing I know we’re booking a trip to Maine.   Is he the best or what!?

So you see, life at sixty is beginning with a new adventure! I’ll tell you all about our trip when we get back. It’s gonna be great! This decade is gonna be great!!

Life is truly like a wave.   You have to roll with the plan that is your life. I firmly believe that we each have a road map for our lives. Our life maps are determined by God before we are even born.   God has given us “free will”, so it’s up to us to decide how we are going to deal with and handle the plan that was laid out for us. I know for a fact that we can live in joy and peace while all this ugly stuff is going on in our lives. That joy and that peace is an inner peace that only comes from God.

That joy and that peace for me, comes when I spend time in Gods word. That is the time that God talks to me, not literally, but within me.   It is another one of those things that is hard to explain, you really have to live it and open yourself up to it.   Open yourself up to God and amazing things will happen. When I say that, I mean amazing things will happen within you. You will be changed. You will look at people differently, as if you see them through Gods eyes. It’s amazing.

I thank God for bringing me to this point in my life. I will never understand why things happen the way they do. I now understand that I cannot “control” things. I understand now that I have to roll with those waves that come in and out of our lives. Those waves that are sometimes seemingly insurmountable and the waves that are insignificant. I have learned to trust God and let him take me where he wants me to go and to become the person he wants me to be. It’s an ongoing never-ending process. As the saying goes, I’m not were I need to be, but I’m not where I used to be.   Something like that, anyway.

God is good… life is good.

 

The Farmers Wife is a Wise Mom

My mother is a wise women.   We spend a lot of time together. Sometimes shopping, sometimes lunching and sometimes she wants to stop at Starbucks for a Caramel Frappuccino. We talk a lot. This was our conversation one day.

Mom: How old is your sister going to be this year?

Me: Which one?

Mom: Cheryl

Me: She turned 60 last year so she’ll be 61 in September.

Mom: Oh! That means you’ll be 60 this year!

Me: Yep. (Long Pause) Mom looks at me and says, “Life begins at 60 you know….(another pause) It does you know!”

Me: Yep, I think I’m beginning to realize that.

I was going to say my mom is wise beyond her years, but she is 93 years young.   She doesn’t see herself as being old and was very insulted when the ladies from her church gave her a hand knitted lap blanket.  She said, “What do they think, I’m old?”  Then she went out to her yard and raked some leaves.   I love my mom.  She has spunk, she will have spunk until she draws her last breath.  And…don’t call her old!

There Comes a Day

I found this post on facebook today and it so profoundly struck a cord in my life that I had to share it.  My mother was not one to show her true self to us girls (she had three of us) but once and a while she would, in her own unique way.  I distinctly remember her sharing with me once that she had felt she reached and age where she could truly be herself.  Even though I was pretty young at the time I remember fully understanding what she was telling me.  I wish I could remember her exact words.  When I read this article today I remembered our conversation just as though these words were coming from her.  We share many more of these kinds of moments these days.  She’s 93 now and I am thankful for her.

I hope every woman young or old who reads these words can truly understand them, relate to them and then pass them on.  I thank the author for sharing her thoughts.

Ladies Pass it On

July 10 at 12:10pm

There comes a day, somewhere in the middle of every woman’s life, when Mother Nature herself stands behind us and wraps her arms around our shoulders, whispering

“It’s time.”

“You have taken enough now. It’s time to stop growing up, stop growing older and start growing wiser and wilder.

There are adventures still waiting on you and this time, you will enjoy them with the vision of wisdom and the companionship of hindsight, and you will really let go.

It’s time to stop the madness of comparison and the ridicule of schedule and conformity and start experiencing the joys that a life, free of containment and guilt, can bring.”

She will shake your shoulders gently and remind you that you’ve done your bit. You’ve given too much, cared too much, you’ve suffered too much.

You’ve bought the book, as it were, and worn the t-shirt.

Worse, you’ve worn the chains and carried the weight of a burden far too heavy for your shoulders.

“It’s time” she will say.

“Let it go, really let it go and feel the freedom of the fresh, clean spaces within you. Fill them with discovery, love and laughter. Fill yourself so full you will no longer fear what is ahead and instead you will greet each day with the excitement of a child.”

She will remind you that if you choose to stop caring what other people think of you and instead care what you think of you, you will experience a new era of your life you never dreamed possible.

‘It’s time’ she will say…

“to write the ending, or new beginning, of your own story.”

https://ladiespassiton.com/…/stop-growing-up-older-start-g…/
Words: Donna Ashworth
Beautiful, Wonderful, Fabulous Lady: Helen Mirren
LPIO 2017

 

My son the Rhino

To Jeff…the Rhino Principal article as I promised with an added note from me.  Love Mom

When I ran across this article by Paul Johnson called the Rhino Principle, I of coarse thought of you and as I thought of you I felt extremely proud. I felt proud of who you are, how you have overcome obstacles in your life, the continuing evolution of your maturity, your determined personality, your perseverance, your vision for life and the gentleness and the love that comes from within you.

At the risk of repeating what you are about to read in the article The Rhino Principle, I want to share the last part of the article now just to emphasis how I perceive you.

From the article… “We can choose to lead quiet lives and get through them without achieving much. But if we want to do the big thing, if we hope to leave a record that will be admired and remembered, we must learn to distinguish between the peripheral and the essential. Then having clearly established our central objective, we must charge at it again and again until the goal is achieved.”

I see you this way Jeff; you don’t want to lead a quiet life.   You want to achieve great things. You want to leave a record to be admired and remembered no matter what you do in life. You are learning to “distinguish between the peripheral and the essential” and you are becoming quite adept to doing just that. You have clearly defined and established goals and objectives. And…you charge at them again and again and you do not give up!

You are… The Rhino

 

Here is the article I promised to show you…

The Rhino Principle

By Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author

(Published in Forbes Magazine, January 30, 2006)

There’s a certain rule in life that I’ve found worth considering. It particularly applies if you’re confronted by a crisis. I call it the Rhino Principle.

Now, the rhino is not a particularly subtle or clever animal. It’s the last of the antediluvian quadrupeds to carry a great weight of body armor. And by all the rules of progressive design and the process of natural selection the rhino ought to have been eliminated. But it hasn’t been. Why not?   Because the rhino is single-minded.   When it perceives an object, it makes a decision-to charge. And it puts everything it’s got into that charge. When the charge is over, the object is either flattened or has gone a long way into cover, whereupon the rhino instantly resumes browsing.

We can choose to lead quiet lives and get through them without achieving much. But if we want to do the big thing, if we hope to leave a record that will be admired and remembered, we must learn to distinguish between the peripheral and the essential. Then, having clearly established our central objective, we must charge at it again and again until the goal is achieved.

That is what the rhinoceros does. It may not be a model animal in most ways. But it does one thing very well. And that one thing we can learn: Charge!

Note:

If you want to see the article in it’s entirety go to:

https://www.forbes.com/forbes/2006/0130/031.html

Christmas…Mom and Daughter

I’m caught somewhere between my 92 year old mother and my 29 year old daughter. My mother is sentimental and saves things. This really hit me when I helped her put up her Christmas tree this year and the “topper” as she calls it was in a box labeled “1953.” This was the year my mother and father were married and that would make the “topper” 63 years old.

A week or so later I was talking to my daughter on the phone and she said she got rid of all her old Christmas tree decorations and purchased all new ones this year. That pretty much answered the question as to whether or not she would like to have some of the ornaments I hung on the tree when she was a child. The response is always the same, “no thanks mom, I’m good.” I understand her thought; she loves the memories but just doesn’t want the clutter.

I used to be like my mother and found it heartwarming to save and cherish the ornaments I collected through the years. Each one seemed to have a little memory of some sort attached to it. Each year as I would hang ornaments on the tree I would travel down memory lane. It was sweet.

As we all know life can turn on a dime. It did just that for me a few years ago. I found myself remarried in my mid-fifties to an amazing man who my children and son-in-law, who I count as a son, adopted as their own and who shares two beautiful grandchildren with me. They adore him. So for the past couple of years what used to be a wonderful tradition of hanging ornaments while traveling down memory lane turned into a sour task. Hanging ornaments that held so many memories became a torture of sorts.

I have shifted from my mothers’ frame of mind of saving and cherishing things to my daughters’ frame of mind of hold and release. Both have their benefits but in the end I have come to realize that my daughter is one smart cookie. It saddens me to watch my 92-year-old mother agonize over whom she wants to give her cherished possessions before she passes away. It gives her a sense of peace to know where her things are going but at the same time she is so sad and realizes that years of saving physical things doesn’t really matter in the end.

As I have released “things” in my life I have felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. So this is the year I left all my ornaments each wrapped in tissue in their boxes. I bought a pack of green, red and gold bulbs, made some paper chains, bought a string of white lights and started fresh. And, I fell free.

I thank my mother for instilling in me the thought that memories should be cherished and loved.   And, I thank my daughter for teaching me that we can hold things loosely and make good loving memories without the “things.”

I guess the lesson for me is to love your things, cherish the memories they hold for you but let them go, move forward and realize it’s the people you love and the people that love you that really matter.

Find Your Passion She Said…

 

This is what she told her kids when they were growing up. “It doesn’t matter what you do in life, just find your passion.”   Translation: If you find your passion you will be happy no matter if you are rich or poor.

It’s funny that she would have this to say to them, she being a woman who really didn’t know what she wanted to do in life. Oh she tried. But, she could never really pin it down. She did what was expected of her, what her parents expected, what her teachers expected and in general what she thought society expected of her.   I guess that’s why it was important for her to instill this in her children. She could never zero in on her own passion so she started to tell her children to find theirs at a very young age. Do they remember? She doesn’t know, maybe they do.

One day she realized that her son was in the process of finding his passion. He was in his early 20’s. He never really had a good male role model to guide him through life so he fumbled and bumbled at times. Thankfully he was born with an independent, passionate, never give up spirit and he had faith. He knew how to stick with life.   It wasn’t always easy for him in fact it appeared on many occasions that he was ready to give up. He didn’t though. He never gave up.

What was his passion you ask?   It was the gym. “Oh good!” his mom thought. “That’s a great outlet for him, to blow off some steam, vent or hit a punching bag.   That’s what boys do right? It was good he found a place to “shake it off.”  What ever “it” was at the moment.

Then… it came. The realization that he was passionate about being in the “ring,” “fighting,” “sparring,” “winning.”  It was a gym for fighters.  What ever you want to call it, he was in a ring with an opponent where he could potentially get knocked around, twisted up, bones broken, bloody noses, blows to the head…. and…more.

It hit her like a ton of brick. He found his passion and it was either getting beat up or beating someone else up. This is not what she had planned for him. But, by this time it was to late.   Could she ground him? Take away his privileges? His gym membership? His car keys? (to the car he owns?) Oh dear. What a dilemma.

It’s not easy being a mom, especially when you have no power over your children because they grow up; they become self-sufficient and are responsible for themselves and their life choices. So, I watched that mom struggle with this passion of her sons. I watched her as she said her prayers asking God to keep him safe and to keep him free from injury and harm. I watched her, as she trusted God.

His mom literally got out of the way, she let her son make his choices, she moved out of God’s way and well…now she is sitting at her computer typing this story knowing that her son will be fighting his first Muay Thai Global Amateur Fight this afternoon. Yes, my son has followed his passion.

Can you really believe it though? We raise our children wondering why they “never” listen, “never” take our advice, “never” understand our infinite wisdom. The one time he listened…. well, you know the story.

The flip side is that he is happy. Didn’t I tell you? Find your passion and you will be happy. And me, well, I have to be honest; it scares me that he loves this particular passion.   I fear for his safety and well being. By the same token I see a confident, self assured content young man.   In some way he has found himself and not that he had anything to prove to anyone but if he did, well he is accomplished in his own right.

Stay safe and strong son…and if you’re going to fight, I hope you win!

Mom

 

The winner is…..yep, he won!  Now can I ground you?

And the winner is....
Winner of his Muay Thai Global Amateur debut.

 

 

A moment in time…1977 California State Fair

It was August 24, 1977 the day we strolled through the California State Fair. I honestly don’t remember much other than we were together, happy and enjoying the day. We were young and had been dating for two years. I was just out of high school when we met, a mere 17 years young and inexperienced in life. He was a mature almost 21-year-old worldly and handsome.

I don’t know what prompted us to stop. Neither of us had much money at that time in our lives to spend on extras. Every time I reflect on that day I am so very, very thankful that for whatever reason we stopped at that cutting edge, modern computer photo booth with the classy dot matrix printer.

The man seated us next to each other getting us ready to take our picture, you know, like a school picture. Only, it wasn’t exactly a picture. We watched as he looked at his computer screen and then…back and forth, back and forth the computer printer went back and forth, back and forth. When it was done the man tore the paper off of the printer and handed it to us.

There we were, young and naïve, not knowing what our future held. We stood there starring at that black and white image of ourselves. It was done mostly in hash tags with some commas, and slashes thrown in. When it was done it looked like a pencil sketch.   It was a picture of us forever capturing us in that moment.

IMAG8500-1
1977 California State Fair “dot-matrix photo”

I am so thankful for that picture and that memory. You see, we continued to date for a few more years. Then life happened and we went our separate ways and lived our lives apart, not seeing or hearing from each other for nearly thirty years. Neither of us forgot the other and as life would have it we came back together one day.  It was like no time had ever passed between us and we picked up where we left off.   We were older, wiser and still in love.

That picture is now framed and hangs on the wall of our bedroom so every time we enter the room it’s the first thing we see. Again, each time I look at that picture, I am thankful for that day in 1977 at the California State Fair, thankful that we found each other again and thankful that God kept us safe and ready for the day we reunited.

We stopped trying to figure out why or how things happen the way they do. I can only speak for myself but I thank God everyday for the second chance I have been given to love this man that got away from me so many years ago.   Every time I walk into our bedroom and look at that picture I smile and I am thankful.

Loving call from mom…

I just entered the Wal-Mart store and my phone rang. I usually don’t hear my phone when it rings but for some reason I had just reached into the outside pocket of my purse and felt it vibrate before I heard the ring.   I picked it up and saw it was mom calling.

“Hi mom.” As many of our conversations begin she said, “Hi Nancy, did you just try to call me?” I replied, “If I did, it wasn’t on purpose, it would have been a pocket dial.” She laughed and said, “Ya, I know how that is.” I don’t think she really did. Technology is not her thing.

Anyway, she went on to tell me how good the zucchini was that I had given her from our vegetable garden. She laughed and said someone had left some macaroni and cheese in her refrigerator from the 4th so she tossed some into her zucchini and made it all nice and cheesy. She was giggling like a little girl, “It was so good!” she said.

We talked for a while.   I told her I was at the store so she said she would let me go and then proceeded to talk on. That’s her MO lately. She loves to talk and sometimes I hear the same stories over and over but that’s okay I don’t mind. She just turned 92 in May and she had a TIA a month or so before that. She’s not quite been the same and I can see her failing, a little at a time.

As we were ending the conversation she kept telling me how much she loved me. She told me how she would not have been able to get through the day on the 4th without my help.   I told her I would always be there for her, to pick up the slack. She was so appreciative and said she so enjoyed the day.  I know the simplest tasks wear her out these days.

She kept saying, “Really Nancy,  you will never know how much I love you, really, you will never know.” By this time I’m standing in the pasta isle at Wal-Mart and tears begin to roll down my cheeks. I thought to myself, “You know, if this is the last time I ever talk to my mother her last words to me would be her telling me how much she loves me.”   And I would be ok with that.   That would be the best gift ever.