Bittersweet Days


Yesterday was kinda bittersweet for me.  I found myself waking in a type of funky mood, which is probably why I was so sentimental when I was with the newest member of our family.

I am lucky to say that I have a new granddaughter.  She is so sweet and is my fifth grandchild, and even though she is number five I find her just as delightful as all the others – already!

When a pivotal moment happens in our family now, in the back of my mind (and heart) there is a little tug of sadness.  Sadness because my mom is missing it.

Mother and I 2014

Mom would have loved having a new great-grandchild. I know just what she would have done the first time she met her.  She would have gotten her loud voice and excited reaching for her!  Then she would have taken the baby’s blanket off and also the sleeper.  Because she always inspected their toes and feet and little hands! 🙂

That little one and her momma joined me for lunch.   As we headed out  we decided to go to a local deli.  When my Mom was alive and we would do lunch together, we always went to this deli. It was one of her favorite places to eat, so you can see why it was a sentimental kinda day now.  I just kept thinking of her through lunch and looking at our little bundle of joy.  I loved spending time with my daughter, just us three.

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This is from one of our last lunch dates together.  We actually went to her favorite place for ice cream!  Dairy Queen. 🙂

After lunch I decided since it was on my way to the store I would just swing by my mother’s grave.  I do not visit it very often because I know she isn’t really there.  It’s just a body in the ground for now.  I put flowers on it occasionally and when I arrived there were not any.  That was kind of surprise but it has been pretty windy this past few months, my guess is they are in the next state!   Honestly, I think the main reason I put them there is because my mother would expect me too. 🙂 She loved gardening and flowers, so the next best thing is artificial ones, right? So I made a mental note to pick some up.

I normally don’t stay long and I’m not one of those people who goes to the grave to talk to the deceased.  It’s just not for me and don’t judge others that do.  Today I felt an urge to stay longer than usual.  I looked over her plot, they had placed new dirt I could tell.  I assume it had sunk in since 2015, which for some reason kinda rattled me a bit.

 

As I sat there, yes I actually sat down today, not my normal routine, I found myself inspecting the headstone she purchased when my step-dad passed away.  I giggled to myself, it is big and very pretty but really more than ever needed (I think.)  I do like the fact that she put their photograph on it.  I like that a great deal actually. One thing I don’t care for is the fact that she didn’t list that she was a mother. But it was her headstone and Mom always did what she wanted anyway, so it’s no surprise. 🙂

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A few tears fell this day and my heart-felt a little torn missing her.  Mom wasn’t in the next generation photograph with the newest member like she was with the oldest granddaughter of ours.  That photo is now a precious gift.

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This day was one with mixed emotions I still feel good about several things in it.  I’m lucky because I know the love of my mother, my daughter, and now my granddaughter.  I know the things that were instilled in me from my mother have been passed down to my daughter and now her little girl will also know them.

My mother was right, there is just something about being a grandparent that changes your world and your perspective, even with number five! 🙂

My mother has 10 grandchildren and currently 12 great-grandchildren with another on the way!  And a few of the grandchildren have not started families yet and that doesn’t count the grandchildren- in laws! 🙂 Life was full at her house whenever we gathered, that is for sure!

I hope as my children and grandchildren grow up they know how very important they are to me. I hope they also have good memories and ties to my generation once I am gone from this earth.  I hope they have bittersweet days after I am gone, because if that is the case,  I know I have done right by them.

Missing my Mom and proud to be a grandma,

Julie

Bittersweet from Zac Brown Band (played at my mom’s funeral)

 

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What Did I Get From Him?


Dad Collage

The few last weeks I’ve been thinking of my Dad more often.  It seems when I watch my husband and our nine year old daughter together,  my own dad comes to mind.  As I pondered thoughts I was trying to figure out what “things” my own father taught me as I grew up.

When I wrote this piece for his funeral I meant every word.  Many things to be grateful for but yet a 46 year old daughter longing to recall exactly what he taught her is puzzling.   My parents divorced when I was 11 and he was basically absent the couple years before that more or less.  It’s hard to think of any of my daughters being without their fathers. Fortunately they all have had active ones their entire lives.  I hope they realize what a blessing that is.

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This post isn’t a bashing on my deceased father, it’s a thought process.  It’s how I deal with things that fester and instead of letting them grow into something ugly, I’ll turn it into something good.  That working through words will weave an acceptance to an area of my life.

I think he may have even been okay with it.  Writing letters.  I suppose he taught me that. After the divorce we wrote to one another. This was my only real connection with him. He didn’t get me every other weekend or call.  He wasn’t much of a talker.

I recall playing poker with my Dad once, I’m sure there were other times too.  I think I remember it so well because it was Christmas time and my brother and I ended up walking home from our grandparents house.  His pickup broke down and it was freezing out.

There was the time Dad and I were in my Grandpa’s pickup.  YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE came on the radio and he sang to me.  It was funny.  There was more turmoil than laughter in my childhood so this memory is very precious.

He didn’t teach me to ride a bike or even drive a car. Elementary and high school graduations he didn’t attend or the birth of my first daughter.   The absence of him as I began dating was hard but I had a good replacement at the time.  My step-father came into the picture when I was around 14.  I still longed to have my Dad present in my life but Bob really was a good father figure.

I can look in the mirror and see physical traits that resemble my Dad.  But as the youngest of his four children, the question what did he teach me that enables me to conduct my life the way I do is present.

Yesterday I was watching this music video, my Dad came to mind.  I showed it to my youngest daughter, the one that seemed to “give him a new reason to live back in 2008”  as my husband put it.  Johnny Cash always reminded me of my Dad, the physical traits mostly and his size.  As I watched the video with my daughter I couldn’t keep the tears away.

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Almost three years and I still miss the man that I am not sure taught me much.  I’m okay with that I guess.  I am not so very curious for the words I have placed upon this post have brought acceptance I suppose.  Hugs from that little girl he thought was pretty special made things better too.

mother daughter

Julie

My Sister Said It Best


While in a conversation recently with my sisters and a cousin we were discussing our families, how things used to be, and the ache in our hearts of days gone by.  I mentioned that my own children don’t really know their cousins and the days of us gathering once a year passed to long ago.  Two of my children are adults now and as we recently attended a funeral of another cousin (Rest in Peace Terri) it ached me that they didn’t feel connected as I did.  It’s not their fault completely, it’s the fact that many years ago the family took a route I truly believe shouldn’t have.

As I was speaking one of my sisters basically hit the nail on the head in regards to why we feel such a loss has occurred in our lives from the absence of connecting with extended family.  She stated “Don’t you think it’s because we got a taste of it?”  It’s true.  We received a gift of gathering together at least once a year to laugh, sing, hang out, play, and just be together.  My eldest daughter enjoyed a little of it but my middle and youngest daughters have not really any idea.  They only know my siblings children as cousins, not the many more that share the same DNA of sorts. There was a legacy created from my grandparents and is still there to be rejuvenated

I recently began a cousins Facebook private page because I thought it would be a beginning of sorts to reconnect.  A place to begin to build relationships that never existed, that existed some, and introduce the generations ahead to some pretty crazy awesome people!   See I write about family legacy and farm legacy over at In Between the Sunsets of Life often.  That comes from my husband’s family.  I’d like to reconnect and build on the legacy of the family that we have seem to have lost touch with.  I want to hear the stories of days gone by, laugh at sibling’s familiar jokes, and cousin’s pranks on one another.

I hope that my cousins will come along and join the ride to reconnecting and  building a legacy.  That ill feelings, selfish ways, mindless chatter, and petty thoughts will be replaced with love, laughter, support, and good times.  One that our grandchildren and their children can say they got a taste of. I think my grandparents would be proud of the people who exist in their family. Every generation a prized possession and every one of them important. 

Grace is a gift and family is precious – hold tight to them.

Julie

Cousins

Reality of Generational Death


Since my own father’s passing last year, the subject of my health has been a priority on my mind more than before.  It has brought me to the point of wondering what age my own grandparents and my parent’s siblings passed away. This past weekend with the help of my sisters and the internet I was able to research this.  We used Google and also Find a Grave.  This website was interesting because there are photos of some of the headstones of my family members.  In fact my cousin does a great job of ancestry for my Dad’s side and she had done his already for his.

My mother had 12 siblings and she is the second to last child.  My father had 7 siblings and he was third to last child.  My mother’s family is down to three living children and my father’s is down to two.

I know that my reality of death could come at any time, it doesn’t have to be genetic related at all.  I know that when I die where I am going and why. But I won’t hide from the reality of my DNA, the information available, and the opportunity to care for the vessel that God provided me.  I am no super healthy person and I will still eat brownies and not exercise as hard as I should.  But I am trying, for it was really hard to see my father suffer.   To stand in that room, wondering if he would make it through a coughing spell.  If I can help to keep my children from going through the stresses of ill parents I will.

Reviewing my father’s age of death of siblings range from birth to 79 years old.  His parents passed away at 83 and 47 years old.  My own father passed away only two days short of turning 75.

This brings me to one of my first memories when I was 7, we attended my uncle’s funeral.  He died when he was 45 and all I can recall was my Dad crying and handing me his white hankie and there were pews.  I could see the sadness upon my Dad’s face of losing his brother.  I have one aunt and one uncle living from my dad’s side now.  It’s reality of getting older myself, family members passing away leaving only memories and love.

Reviewing my mother’s age of death of her siblings ranged from 1 – 84 years old.  Her parents passed away at 68 and 71 years old.  My mother is still living and I am grateful, although her health reminds me to continue on the journey I am on.  She is 71 years old.  There is only one sibling that made it to their 80’s and two into their 70’s before dying. The rest all passing prior to their 70’s.   There are still three children living from this family.

This review of what I am calling generational death isn’t morbid I don’t feel. To me it’s interesting and allows me to put into perspective how things were and might be.  My husband’s parents are well into their 80’s and still going, his grandparents lived long too. This gives us something to talk about and discuss about our heritage.

I don’t know when or what I will die from.  I don’t know if I will suffer or if I will go quickly.  I do know that looking back at my parent’s history helps me to eat a little healthier and move a little more. To appreciate the time I have with family members that are still here.

Grace is a gift,

Julie