aging gracefully, Blog, parents

Performing Without a Net

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 282

Ever heard someone say “you’re more like your mother/father every day” or something similar? Do you ever sit back and wonder if you are like your parents? Does that make you happy or does it create anxiety?

There is much about us that is passed down through our DNA — some scientists even think trauma alters our DNA and can be passed through generations. If science proves such a theory, it is hard to fathom what that may mean for countless innocent children.

I do think there is a part of us that develops through experience and exposure — both good and bad. Maybe through such experience, we form our own internal voice, our gut, that alarms us when things head in a bad direction. I think it is also the part of us that separates us or binds us, to our parents.

After my first child was born, my father lovingly told me I looked just like my mom after their first child was born. I could see it was a warm and beautiful memory for him. I took it as a compliment. I always thought my mom was beautiful and loving and kind.

As I have aged, however, I realize how far apart I am from my parents’ thinking. As much as I loved and respected them, there are areas in which we differ tremendously. I am able to easily reject ideas they had about certain things that do not fit with my way of thinking. I am sure changes in social mores also have a lot to do with altering the way we perceive things. I sometimes wonder what my mother would think about the woman I have become.

Yesterday, my daughter called me. I answered and she responded by telling me how much just the sound of my voice soothed her. That made me smile. I always want to be a comfort to my children. I stopped for a moment to see if I could recall the sound of my mother’s voice in my mind. It is harder now than it once was, but it is still there.

All the years we spend in this life are practice for becoming… And becoming is always unfurling. I am content with my life and I realize that throughout all the good and the bad, I have been practicing for the day I could perform without a net.

No parents to catch me when I fall now, but hopefully, all the years of practice have made me steadier on my feet. A little braver and a little more confident.

I am my parent’s daughter. I have inherited traits that are undeniable. But I have also become a different person, separate from them. And as much as I love my parents and all they taught me, I am happy to be this transformed little girl that they brought into this world. I believe they would be proud of me.

I hope my children will develop beyond me, too. I have always been proud to be their safety net. Now I want to sit back and watch them fly.

“My parents blessed me with directives to think,
to be aware of my choices and their repercussions.
They were always trying to teach me how to think,
rather than what to think.”
Cathy Burnham Martin

Blog, Family, parents

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Day 147

Today would be my parents’ 71st anniversary had they lived. It is hard to imagine my parents in their 90’s. My mom was 46 when she died and my father just barely 65. That’s startling when I think I will be 65 this year.

Growing up, living past the age of my mother when she passed was a major milestone for me.

Imagining How it Would Have Been

Sometimes I let my mind wander, imagining how it would have been had they lived longer. My mother never met her grandchildren. My Dad did, but not any of his great-grandchildren.

I think these children would have changed them in a positive way. I know they changed me.

My Dad was an only child. I did see some of my mom’s siblings later in life. It was surreal knowing my mom would be forever a middle aged woman who would never grow any older.

Had my mother not had cancer, I wonder how she would have approached old age. I wonder if I would have been their caretaker. Those are hard roles but one I would have taken on without question.

Happy Anniversary

I hope I will always remember their anniversary. I miss them both terribly and wish we had been fortunate enough to have more time together.

I was a lucky girl. I had all the love they had to give. It’s the way they loved and the way they taught me to love.

I don’t know any other way.

Blog, community, memories, parents, traditions

More Memories

Day 61

SuburbanPopI was thinking about my Dad and Mom a lot today. I don’t know if I miss them more this time of year, or if the memories are so much closer to the surface because of the holidays. My parents both loved Christmas and everything that goes along with it.

I was thinking back again on the silver Christmas tree and color wheel I wrote about that my Dad loved so much. I found a great picture on a very cool blog — Suburban Pop. I emailed Jenny to see if I could use the photo here and she was so kind to allow me to do so. Please check out her blog and this post on Buying a Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree for more beautiful examples of these trees. They all remind me of my dad. (Thank you, Jenny!)

Daddy, Daddy, Daddy

My Dad could be well… a little overboard at times. At Christmas, he would put out lots of lights outside and lots of lights on the trees inside. He was such a kid at heart. He took home movies and bless his heart, he could NOT wait until Christmas morning to open gifts. We always opened them on Christmas Eve which made Christmas day a little anticlimactic to me.

We had a 33 1/3 record of a theatre production of A Christmas Carol. We listened to it so much I had it memorized. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the inflection of the actors’ voices as they played each of the roles.

One Christmas Eve, my Dad decided everyone in the community would love to listen to this as much as we all did. He rigged up some huge speakers in front of my grandmother’s house and blasted that recording for everyone to hear. I was fairly young so I do not remember the reaction of our neighbors, but I cannot imagine they loved it. Daddy did, though.

Parlor Games

I grew up in a small valley community nestled in the mountains. It was a small community of people and celebrations of any kind often included the entire community. We had a ‘community club’ which was originally a one-room school my mother taught in for a short time.

Parties were always held there and it was fun to gather the entire community together. For holidays, we often had cake-walks. If you are not familiar, it is an old tradition where community members baked cakes and donated them for the cake-walk. Long tables would be set-up end-to-end and one cake would be placed on the table. Participants would buy a ticket and line up around the perimeter of the table. Then someone would start the music and everyone walked around the table until the music stopped. If you were the person standing beside the cake when the music stopped, it was yours to take home and enjoy. I LOVED cake-walks.

I have such fond memories of my parents when we played parlor games. They were great at playing them and always so much fun to watch.

One of my favorites was Poor Ole Puss or Poor Ole Tom. Everyone sat in a large circle and one person would be Tom. They would get on the floor and meow trying person after person to get the person to laugh. The person sitting would have to pet Tom’s head and say Poor Ole Tom three times without laughing. My parents were hilarious!

We also had a game we called Diseases and Cures. The game was played in much the same way with opposing people. One person would say they had a disease and the other person would give them a cure. They were ridiculously named diseases and even more bizarre cures — all made up by some creative mind. The only disease I can remember was ‘Tizarism of the Bizarrium’. Again, the idea was to keep a straight face throughout.

There were many others: Scissors Crossed or Uncrossed, The Suitcase Game, Going to California, Tommy Tommy Tommy. I think they were fun because we didn’t have a lot of other distractions like television (we only had one TV station and the reception was poor) and didn’t have telephones for a long time.

The best thing about these games is they were inclusive — kids and adults. And everyone laughed and had fun. I know this is an era that is long gone, but it will live forever in my memories. Especially picturing my parents playing like they were kids. I can still picture them and it always makes me smile.

Our family continued to play some of these games or variations of them well into our adulthood. Even our children learned some of them. I know in some small towns or at county fairs, you can still sometimes find a cakewalk. That does my heart good.

“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.” 
Jean Vanier

blessings, Blog, children, christmas, friends, grandchildren, Home, memories, music, parents, reflection, sister, traditions

The Floodwaters

Day 51

Today started off with our normal routine of coffee, a walk and then breakfast. Afterward hubby brought in all the Christmas boxes from our storage area so I could start unpacking and decorate the tree.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with one of our daughters in South Carolina. It was a truly beautiful day with lots of good food and conversation. Lots of children there, too, which always makes it fun.

Today I talked with my son. He spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with his wife’s family. They are a wonderful group of people and I know they had a great time and a lot of wonderful food as well.

Christmas Memories

christmastreeToday I chose the Martina McBride Christmas channel on Pandora — decorating is much nicer with Christmas music. I love the mix of music on this station so it was perfect.

Hubby helped me start the lights because the tree is just too tall for me. I unpacked boxes and pulled out more lights so we could see if we had enough to go around the tree. Once the lights were low enough for me to reach he went back outside and I continued the lights.

All was going well until “How Great Thou Art” came on. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. It is a song that touches me in ways I cannot fully explain. When my mother died, that song ran through my head as I flew back to Ohio where I was stationed while in the Air Force. I remember writing my Dad a letter on that flight and somewhere I have packed away the letter he wrote to me in return. This song brings the memory front and center.

As I unpacked decorations, my life from the time I was a child, until the time when my children were growing up through our life as we gained six grandchildren and all the way to this time of retirement poured out in abundance. I was overwhelmed with — not sadness — but a great wave of emotion for all the people who have come and gone in my life and those still here but yet so far away.

I was starting to struggle…

Thankfully, my daughters and my granddaughter video chatted me on Facebook. It was such a great lift. For most of the Christmas seasons in the 22 years since hubby and I were married, they were with us. We shopped together, had Christmas coffees together, and talked ‘nunya’s’ from Thanksgiving until Christmas when we would celebrate together. Now they have a daughter and seeing her enjoy the first Christmas she can somewhat understand is amazing.

Retirement can be a lonely time sometimes and tonight I am a little melancholy. Putting up the tree and decorating is always emotional for me. Our tradition has always been a ‘memory tree’. When we hang the ornaments, each one is named for someone who has passed on or simply someone we love who just cannot be with us at Christmas.  I have not started the ornaments yet. It is always an emotional time for me. So, why do I put myself through it?

I do it because the love I have been fortunate enough to experience in my life is worth the remembering and the tears. After the ornaments are hung, each time I pass the tree, I will think of and remember those people whom I love and miss so much.

I am Blessed

The early part of the Christmas season is always this way for me. I am so blessed and so thankful for everything I have in my life. We have much to look forward to this year. Two grandchildren’s birthdays are upcoming. We are going to see the lights at the North Carolina Arboretum with our daughter and her family. We also have a Christmas band concert and a piano recital to attend as well.

So, dear readers, I will love and enjoy this Christmas season as I always have. It holds every memory about where I come from, who I have been and who I am today. For me, it is symbolic of the faith I hold close and all of those things bring me great joy. I just need to get through this part. The tearful, wonderful and sacred memories of all the people I hold so dear to my heart.

And to my children. When I text too much or call too much just know it is because I am missing you. I am so thankful that each of you has full and meaningful lives, but it does not make me miss you any less. That’s the stuff that moms’ hearts are made of.

“Christmas is not a date on a calendar. It’s more than a state of mind. It’s a condition of the heart.” 
Toni Sorenson

 

 

birthdays, blessings, Blog, Family, Home, memories, parents

Happy Birthday Mom

Day 37

Today would have been my mother’s 91st birthday. To imagine she could have lived to 91 is mind blowing. She would have met all her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. If she would have lived to 80 or 70 or 60 or even 50 would have been such a blessing. But that was not to be. I suffered a lot after losing her at such an early age, but I am forever thankful that she was my mom.

Memories

I, of course have wonderful memories of my mom. She was a no-nonsense, call them like she sees them kind of person. She was not much to give out lots of cuddles, but her love was relentless and without question. She believed a lot more in self-sufficiency and women being strong than she felt about the importance of coddling us. She grew up in a time that women had to fight for whatever independence they had and she was definitely a fighter.

Photos from the Past

A few years ago I found some old scratched up photos of my mother I had never seen. Photos of her before she married my Dad and of course before any us were born. I have a deep affection for this woman I never met but somehow always knew.

My mom played in a women’s basketball league when we were growing up. She worked for Raytheon and they sponsored the league. This would have been over 50 years ago, so she was definitely ahead of her time.

Today I sit looking and thinking about all she missed. I close my eyes and picture her rocking my children or my grandchildren. Then I remember that every time I rock or hold them, she is, too. And she’s whispering in my ear reminding me to be grateful for every little moment.

I miss you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

“I love you every day. And now I will miss you every day.”
Mitch Albom