Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad. You are on my mind this morning and I cannot help but imagine that you are together...your spirits/your souls united in the eternal love you had for each other. You taught us how to take care of ourselves. You taught us the lessons of honor, integrity, love, faith, thought...all tools necessary for life. You also bequeathed to us a certain fun loving streak that resides in each and every one of us kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. Now whether that fun loving streak was taught or hereditary...that is a subject for another day. LOL! I thank you...and once again I say "Happy Anniversary!"
CJ (aka Casey Jones) became 13 years old today. He was born on 8/27/2009. I did not get him until the week of Thanksgiving in 2009. So this is his official birth date. And as always for his birthday, I open a can of water-packed tuna and drain the water along with some delectable pieces over his evening wet food meal. He loves it! There is a whole lot of smacking noises while he eats as well as a whole lot of purring. Meanwhile, "Dad" (that's me) incorporates the leftover tuna with tuna helper for my dinner. It's tradition. It's a blessing.
This picture just popped up on FB this morning on the site for Bruce/Exeland…and tears immediately filled my eyes. Esther and Charlie Turner. They were close friends of Mom and Dad. Whenever Esther and Charlie had been in Bruce shopping, the place they stopped for coffee on their way home was Mom’s and Dad’s house. I remember all of them sitting around gossiping and laughing. Charlie was an old lumberman from the days when lumber was king in that part of Wisconsin…and he loved telling tall tales which mesmerized this little kid that was me. They did not have much but they had big warm hearts. Their house was four rooms and you had to use an outhouse. Yet the house was always immaculately clean. Sometime us kids (me and their grandkids) would camp out under the stars in their front yard. No tent. Just blankets and pillows and stars over our heads when we eventually would fall asleep. A big breakfast always greeted us the next morning. Esther and I would go looking for Christmas trees together (I was 10, 11, and 12 years old) in the woods across the road from their house. I remember both of us plowing through the snow hauling our trees behind us and she being so patient with my 10 year old babbling. When Charlie died, she remarried and it was not a good marriage. I don’t believe it was abusive but she was not the same. When Esther died it was at church (the Island Lake Church of Christ) during service. She was with a friend…and the friend felt her suddenly lean against her…and Esther was gone. This picture…these memories make my heart ache. It aches because the times shared were so pricelessly wonderful…and it aches because they are now gone and only alive in my heart. How fleeting these moments are??? I wish I could go back and experience them once again.
It came from an idea hatched on Thanksgiving Day as we gathered around the table watching a Youtube video of two people in T-Rex costumes have a snowball fight. The idea that sparked was that it would be a blast if the whole family dressed up in T-Rex costumes and had a snowball fight in my front yard at Christmas.
That idea came into being on Christmas Day as the whole family did in indeed do just that. Unfortunately the snow was too powdery for a good snowball fight...so we had a foot race. You can tell from the laughter in the video that a good time was had by all. It truly became a memorable event...a memorable Christmas not only for the kids but for us adults as well.
It was indeed "The Best Christmas Ever!:
"Today I celebrate with great joy, I give and receive with love, and I treasure the living presence of the Christ in all people." ~Unity's Daily Word
My favorite Chinese restaurant on the west coast (Pacifica, CA) is Tam's. Since moving to Wisconsin I have missed their good food so much. For so many years eating there whether it be at the restaurant or doing take-out, it was a staple of my life. I swear to this day that their hot & sour soup has healing powers...a winter cold happening and their hot & sour soup would be the perfect antidote.
Than you Tam's for all of the good memories of my life.
Last night I fell in love with my new home. If you have been following this blog you know how significant that statement is...for you know the struggles of spirit, soul, heart and mind I've had as I've adjusted from living in California to living in Northwestern Wisconsin.
Yesterday had been one of those beautiful late summer/early fall days with mild mid-day temps, the trees exhibiting their red and gold glory, and a cool and comfortable evening. As late afternoon progressed into evening I took my MacBook Pro out onto the deck along with my Bose bluetooth speakers. I watched a movie as the evening shadows lengthened and then disappeared...surrounded by towering oaks and maples in full color.
The MacBook Pro delivered the movie...a movie based upon a true story about an early 20th century explorer looking for a lost city in Bolivia. The Bose bluetooth speakers delivered wonderful sound. I had a couple of citronella candles lit...not because it was a buggy evening...but because the light from the candles provided wellcome light.
As I sat there watching the movie on my deck surrounded by nature's splendor...I knew that I had arrived home. This "attitude of gratitude" filled my soul. I realized how blessed I am to have this "wee cottage in the woods", "homestead", "wee little house in the woods" or..."home."
This morning as I was sipping my coffee and observing my memories of a lifetime filled with love, laughter, friends and family...one dear friend came to mind. He was so hurt when I moved to California and his comment to me when he finally was ready to talk again was that the reason he was hurt was that his friendship was not enough to keep me in Minnesota/Wisconsin. He is no longer with us on this plane we call "life" yet he and his memory are alive in so many of our hearts and minds. His name was and is Aunti Vi (aka Dan Vogt). He was and will always be one of those friends of a lifetime...one of those people you always miss for they are and were such an integral part of who we are.
Anyhow...as I was sitting here sipping coffee I could see Aunti Vi as well as hear him dancing and clapping his hands together to the sound of Donna Summer's "Once Upon a Time." I think he knew I had finally arrived home and was happy.
Yesterday and even today social media has been full of postings regarding Memorial Day. Many of the postings were thoughtful comments and essays about those that have served the United States...and have given up there lives protecting the freedom(s) we take for granted and at times seem so willing to give up under the guise of "national security." Other postings were strident and angry about how this day of honor for the dead has been so commercialized to the point that for many it is only a three day weekend meant to be celebrating something that people know nothing about...or "the first day of summer." I understand both.
Then there was some anger directed against unnecessary war and the cost of lives lost in these wars. I understand that too.
My family has a long record of service to this country. My ancestors fought in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, my great great great grandfather was a drummer boy for the Union in the Civil War, my Dad fought in WWI, my cousins fought in WWII as well as the Korean War, and I even have a cousin that was rumored to be a spy for the US during the Cold War.
However, my parents also taught me the idea that Memorial Day was to honor all of our dead friends and family regardless whether they had fallen during a time of war or died during a time of peace. Memorial Day was a day spent at the cemetery mowing the grass, trimming the hedges, washing the the tombstones, and planting flowers (this was before cemetery associations). And most importantly it was a time of quiet reflection, prayer, and remembrance of the loved one buried there.
When my sister Ruth died, my parents had bought a number of plots in a small country cemetery that was on a winding road that followed the St. Croix River. During those first fews years, it was only my sister Ruth that was buried there and I remember my normally stoic parents with tears in their eyes as they tended to her grave. Then as the years progressed other graves and tombstones were added alongside that of my sister...Uncle Emmet, my dad, Aunt Libby, my mom, and my cousin Milton. There is still room for more of us when the time comes.
Yet, even as we honor the dead and those that served there is nothing wrong with making this weekend a celebration of life for there are many living memories of good things. For instance this year was my 33rd anniversary of moving to San Francisco. The years have flown by and as I sit here typing these words I find myself stunned at how quickly the time has gone. I tell you...these have been 33 years of fun-filled memories as well as a fair share of sadder memories...but the total of it all is a life well lived. So why not celebrate that too?
So yesterday the two people closest to me and I celebrated the day by honoring the past yet celebrating the moment...and we gave a nod to the future as well. It was a day well spent.
Memories. At my age there are so many memories that I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed with all the blessings that have been my life. Yet, I am also overwhelmed with the sad events of my life. Yes, the sadness is a blessing too.
My parents were older when I was born. I was what I jokingly call a "surprise" or as I would kid my parents "That will teach you to fool around in your old age." LOL The advantage was and is growing up with older people. Throughout my life I've always been very comfortable hanging out with older people. I fondly remember being 10 years old and having dinner with my Mom and Dad and then hopping on my Schwinn bicycle and racing down the road two miles or more to George and Celia Stevens house to have dinner with them too! Pancakes with green tea is what I remember with a smile on my face and in my heart. And I remember listening to their stories of the lumber days in northern Wisconsin...for they were frontier people and quite old when I knew them. They are just and example...for there was Esther and Charlie too...Charlie had been a lumberjack...and he loved telling tall tales. Again as I remember those moments I smile both with my face and with my heart.
I gained a depth and width of knowledge from hanging out with these older friends than I would have ever gained with friends my own age.
So, now I am an older man. The years have flown by and I now witness my nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews coming of age...growing up from the bright and funny children into bright and fun adults. Truly, I am blessed.
However, everyone else that I grew up with is now dead. That is the true disadvantage of being born so late in my family's life. My brother died a little over a year ago. I am what I call "the last one standing" for my whole immediate family...all of those that I grew up with are now dead. It is indeed a strange point to be at in my life. It is a very lonely point to be at for although I am surrounded with chosen family and my nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews...they do not know or remember the people I've known.
Yes, I am blessed with the love I have in my life. I am not complaining. Yet, I would so love to hear my Mother's voice once again, to hear my Dad scolding me (for I was always in trouble with him), to talk to my brother once again, to hear Marion's laughter, to see Aunt Tina zooming up the driveway of my parent's house in her black Ford Falcon grinding gears every step of the way, to be in my Aunty Libby's kitchen with the smell of a pot roast cooking, to hear my Aunt Ruth chortling with laughter over the phone at some joke I've just told her....
Yes. I miss them all, I love them all. And I cannot help but feel very lonely at times...