Five Years


August brings a whole collage of emotions for me.  This past weekend marked the fifth year anniversary of my dad’s passing.  This year, I was able to spend the day with two of my siblings, my sisters.  It was good for the soul to sit with them and laugh, listen to what is going on in their lives and just relish the time spent with them.

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I call myself lucky because I was born into a family that already had three children.  My siblings, although we don’t see one another that often are what I would call close.  Our parents passing has only reinforced that verses making a larger gap.  My degree of gratefulness for this can not be put into words.

Siblings 2019

But there is something I wish for.  I wish our family, our generation and the rest would talk more about Dad and Mom.  I guess it would make me feel closer to them, allow the current youngest of our kin to know them somehow and quite possibly help the part of me that is broken heal more.

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I find myself feeling better in regards to the grief I have felt in the past five years.  Mostly in the past couple months, finding strength and health.

I sat with my husband on the date of my father’s death and as I realized the time of day my thoughts went to that night.  I can see and feel moments of panic, sadness, hear sounds and recall smells.  I am able to do the same with my mother’s passing that will be marked on the 26th of this month as being four years.

While waiting to go up to the church altar just yesterday I was standing by some flowers from a recent funeral in our church.  The smell wafted over me and it brought about the scene of my parents funerals and the smell of the flowers at them.  It’s interesting to me how much the brain can store and bring back just by simple smells and sounds.

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Four years without the super glue of our clan.  Mom.  The lady that could make you angry quickly or rolling in laughter in seconds.  She required your presence at gatherings and if you didn’t, she’d serve up some guilt with your name on it.  The lady that only required her family be surrounded around her and the gifts could stay at the store.  The woman that chose newcomers and grandchildren and in laws over her kids most often in life.  But that was her way of showing us (her 4 kids) that she loved us. See those folks are extensions of her own children, people her children loved very much.

Five years has come and gone and the year before my dad’s death was hard for me for other reasons and that added to the brokenness of me.  My mother’s passing really shook the core of me and I went to some places that were not enjoyable.  But time has passed and I have learned a new normal so to speak.

I’m still broken due to the losses I’ve felt.  But I can honestly say I am finding a balance and I rebound from the lower times quicker.  I feel stronger I guess.  I can  look around and see that I can celebrate my parents by just doing a few things.

Closing my eyes and bringing my memory bank up.  This includes my dad’s big hands and his hugs that no one will replace.  Sitting down at my sewing machine that sits below the picture my mother painted or looking at the photo of her nearby.  I can hear my older daughters laugh out loud about an outrageous story that included grandma.  Then there is my three siblings that I can plainly see a mixture of our parents in. I can feel a bond with them that I don’t even have with my own children or grandchildren.  Only my siblings grew up with our parents and lived with me, that created something pretty cool.

Dad & MOM

I’m sad in August but I’ve got so much to celebrate as well. My sister’s birthdays each year.  This year a family reunion that I hope will become a tradition where we can honor dad and mom and grow closer.  There’s more to celebrate but I’m focusing on those for now.

If I have learned nothing else in my 48 years of life I’ve learned family matters.  The family that brought you into this world.  The family that grew with marriages, babies and close friends.  The family that teaches the next generation what they know in hopes they will learn from it.  Whether it was good or bad advice, there is always something to learn.

Rest in peace Dad and Mom.  You are loved and missed.

Julie

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Turning 30 – Tashley Kay


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I can’t believe my eldest daughter is turning 30 this month. It’s not about me feeling old or worrying about how it reflects on me. It’s just so very odd to me how the time has passed by quite rapidly.

tash & IShe was the first to make me a momma. The first to test my patience, give me messy kisses and warm hugs. The first to make me worry about ear infections, bumps on the head, and choices I was making as a mother. The first to challenge me and exceed my expectations. She was my “test run” as I like to say.

This is the gal that is most like me,  I think, out of all my children but yet she brings her own flair to life.

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tash and me concert

 

Tashley forgives quicker, has more dramatic responses, and has a smile that is larger than life. Cooking is her delight and even though she doesn’t get enough praise for it, she takes care of her family pretty darn good!  I’m one proud mom!

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She’s a mother herself now, two daughters and a son.

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There are times I relish in the witnessing of her being a Mom and other times I want to step in and say HEY STOP!

But that isn’t my job now. My job is to support, love, and allow her to take the motherhood journey as my Mom did me. Watching from the sidelines and praying for strength for her.

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The bonus to having her be a mother is the fact that I get some awesome grand-kids outta the deal! 🙂 It’s a win-win for me!

Thirty years ago I could have taken a much different route. But honestly, I think I made the best choice.  I would do it all over again if presented with the same circumstances. I would become a mother when I was really only a child myself and go through the heartache,  the changes and challenges that life gave us.

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Because in the end, all that really matters is the fact that this human existed and she was worth every second!  Choosing her and being with her every day as her mother is what I was meant to do. Plain and simple.

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Thirty years of watching a life transpire into a million different things and changing daily or even hourly. The opportunity to be Tashley’s mother wasn’t an easy one to start but  knowing her has made my life much, much better. No matter the obstacle or joy, she has always been worth it.

Happy 30th birthday to my girl that was such a laid back baby, a little girl that played well, the tween/teen that had to have the last word, the young lady that found her way even without me, and the woman that through it all, STILL has that huge smile!

 

I love you,

MOM

 

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)

 

The bummers, the babies, the years.


MOm & I
A few days old with my mother.

Fourty-seven years ago yesterday I entered this world as the fourth child of my parents.  The last they would have.  My father was watching a football game, of course, while the doctor barely made it into the delivery room from what I’ve been told.  I was ready to hit the ground runing!  Lucky for us there was a nurse right there with my Mother!

A few days later when I came “home” it was to a cattle feed yard in McPherson County. From what I’ve been told, my grandmother was waiting on the scales that used to weigh trucks and there were cattle out. My welcome home had to wait but my nickname was given the moment my Dad found out about the cattle.  As told by him, he said, “what a bummer.”

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Fast-forward a few years and I started Kindergarten thinking my first name was Bummer, not Julie.  (In today’s age people would be horrified by such a nickname.  They would worry about the low self esteem, meanness of it all, and how it would harm that child! )

Every cowboy, farm hand, feed lot employee, extended family member that I can recall from that time didn’t call me by Julie.  Only Bummer.  That was it.  I survived it too.  I have to admit when I was a teenager or young adult it did bother me some. By then my world had moved away from the feed yard and  was only spoken when I would run into people from that time in my life or by my Dad.

I woke up the morning of my birthday with the thoughts I just wrote in the first couple paragraphs.  A few times over the years I recall him saying, in a joking tone, “my bummer.” I suppose that is what gave the nickname a sweeter tone to my ears.

More thoughts from the last few days are…..

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Thirty years ago I was carrying a child, my first.  I remember receiving a blue sweater for Christmas and wearing it, my hair was pulled back.  Not long after that picture was taken I began wearing maternity clothes.

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Twenty-five years ago there was a one month old infant sitting under the tree and a four year old right next to her.  I had went from being a mother of one to a mother of two little girls.  Now I have a front row seat to watching them both be mothers.

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Nine years ago another baby was making our Christmas time more fun.  I’m so glad this particular baby made her way into our home.  She’s my last baby.  In nine years she will be heading out the door and creating a life more on her own then with us.

So many babies, so much time, so many lessons, so many changes.  I can’t recall a time in my life that there wasn’t a story to tell.

I like to think of story telling encompassing  memories of life.  They cultivate the generations.  They are intertwined with tears and giggles, with a dash of surprise.  The stories are heartbreaking and also joyous and ones we will never forget either way.

The bummers, the babies, the years. So much to reflect on in 47 years of living here on earth.  Bittersweet some days for sure. But I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.  Thank you to those that have played a part in my life, my story, my memories.  Whether you called me Bummer, Julie, Jules, or something else.  🙂

Julie

 

Mom- Still Thinking of Her – 2nd Ann.


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The days leading up to where we find ourselves I honestly felt strong, for the most part.  I didn’t feel I was going to fall apart when it arrived.  I didn’t anticipate the tears streaming down my face the moment I read the caption on the sweet snapchat I received on my morning walk. Those tears needed to flow, they really did.  It’s okay and I’m grateful my dear friend touched base with me.

The back and forth moments of whether I should post on social media to recognize she isn’t forgotten.  If I do is that me not moving forward?  Will others feel obligated to acknowledge the loss of my mother, even though I don’t expect it?  Am I opening pain for my siblings and her grandchildren?

That’s why you find me writing on my blog.

Grief is a thing that is sometimes hard to grasp and even harder to control. It will smack you in the face or makes a suttle appearance, depending on it’s plan.

Words are not coming easily for me.  So here.

I miss my Mom.

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I had a pretty good day since I spent it with four of my favorite people in the whole wide world.  FAMILY.  Mom would have liked that. She always loved her family together.

Four of my most favorite humans ever!

I’m heading to work on a quilt and have some quiet time alone.  I’ll think of her I’m sure. Not only today but tomorrow and the next day and so forth.  I just have to keep moving forward.  Through the grief and through life. Better to have loved  than not have loved at all.

Until next time,
Julie

The View from the Rear


I was really feeling good about myself until I saw this recent photograph of myself.

The width of my backside brought me to a place of …. well…..um…. “maybe I haven’t made as much progress as I had thought.”

Then  my eyes moved to the little girl behind me. The one that is following me.  

That follows my actions, my perceptions, my lead.  She will look instantly to me before answering someone.  (Not sure that this is a good thing but we’ll go with it)  The one that if I am not careful will say she doesn’t like a food because I don’t.  

At this point in life, she doesn’t care what I looked like from the backside.  She only cares that I was there. That I was participating and engaging with her. That I was taking her on an adventure and spending time with her.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she is very interested in my health. Each time I take my blood sugar she instantly looks at the monitor screen or asks me what it was. Which in turn she gives her response depending if high or low or “not bad.”  I have even let her be the one to poke me and test it.

We both love cucumbers, watermelon, chocolate, Dad’s chicken fried rice, upbeat music, cuddles in the church pew, and walking in nature. This child of mine doesn’t care about the width of my hips just that I’m using them to enable me to guide her.

One day, in the not so distant future this little girl will want to take her own path.  She will be the one leading someone, whether that be her own child or not.  This makes me become aware of how I share with her the perception of my own body, my own beliefs, my own guidance. One generation to another carries something with them from the past. I can only pray that her hip width is not something she lets run her life but maintains a healthy lifestyle physically and mentally.

Wrapping up, I have all but forgot the width of my hips and am basking in the joy of watching a child grow up in my home.  A child that I didn’t plan to have following me around but am very grateful it came to be.

Until next time,
Julie

Past moments in time are never that far away


Dad & MOM

The past few days my parents have been on my mind. Maybe because Facebook has that deal that shows you past posts or just because it’s July.  I know August is around the corner.

At lunch on Sunday with my entire family I was laughing and joking.  I made a comment about moving in with my kids when I was old and the son-in-laws weren’t too sure about that. I started to say I understood that I wasn’t sure I could live with my parents and it brought me back to the day my Dad died.

 

That morning, while we were alone in his hospital room, he told me that he needed to take me up on my offer.  The offer I had given him a few days before about moving in with us.  I had forgotten that, which surprises me.   I couldn’t stop my eyes from filling with tears but I gathered myself quickly I think.  I had a beautiful baby boy in my arms to look at and hide my tears.  I felt my husband’s hand on my leg for reassurance as well.

Dying Alone

While dancing and singing with my other baby grandson later,  in my home office, I saw the pictures of both my parents from various times in their lives.  The display has a photo of each of my parents holding me when I was a baby, I told G how that was me and continued to dance.  My mother loved to dance.  When I danced with my father at my second wedding we glided across the floor and if I shut my eyes I can still feel it.

The memories are here  in my mind and next to my heart.  Although they may fade they are still inside me.  Tears may have fallen on this day but I’m glad I remembered that memory with my Dad.

Until next time,

Julie

Compromises, Second Glances, & Window Treatments


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The differences between my husband and myself are ones that after fourteen years of marriage can still be seen.  At least by us.  There has been a meshing of sorts with some of them but some just will not break down and come together.

When we built our home a few years ago  I found out my husband wasn’t a fan of curtains.  (Or tree lines to block the winter storms.)  He likes his wide open spaces and clear views of the world outside.  He prefers to be outdoors as well. Now I’m a little different creature.  I like to close my blinds at night and keep the happenings of the interior of my home to my family.

He won the battle of no curtains or blinds except for in the bedrooms.  I can appreciate his perception and why the man I married is the way he is.  I even recently moved my sewing machine to the room where I get the best view of the sunset and my memory flower garden. He has rubbed off on me folks, it just doesn’t always show! 🙂

But he only won the battle for six years.  After my recent experience I think he can understand why I have him measuring the large front window and I’m shopping for just the right blinds for them.  Is this a drastic move?  No I don’t think so, I think it’s a compromise for the sake of our marriage. Both sides willing to give in and mesh together.  I won’t have them shut during the day, he won’t keep them open when we go to bed.

The experience I’ve mentioned but not totally explained is one that doesn’t have me running to the therapist or wigging out in front of our daughter.  But it does have me putting things in place that make me, my family, and perhaps even others more comfortable in our home.

As the outside world becomes dark I find myself taking double glances and looking behind me as I walk through my own home.  I listen more acutely to the sounds being made and keep my families whereabouts in check. I wasn’t a slacker to begin with in these areas but I am more on point now.

With each passing day I am better.  With each passing day I find myself thinking less about what happened and more about what is in front of me.  I’m continuing my process and I appreciate the fact that my spouse is allowing me to find my “comfort zone” even when he may not like it.

Until next time.

Julie

 

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May the Skipping Never Stop


I was sitting on the couch one night recently with my daughter. We were huddled in our own blankets, watching Supergirl. She was watching intently and I just stared at her for a few moments.  Her expression changed with each event of the show.  My chest began to tighten and a small smile across my face appeared, and a slight moisten of the eyes happened. (stick with me folks)

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The child that shared the couch with me that night, at times is still my little playful youngster while at other times little bits of independence make their appearance.  The body is changing and I see it, yet forbid it.  I know from experience it is only the very inkling of beginnings of things transpire in the world of physical and emotional childhood.

My thoughts this summer have periodically been of time to continue conversations of the “could be uncomfortable nature” or “she’s too young” or “in reality it’s not too soon”. Back and forth in my mind the role of motherhood is played out.

The battle of wanting her to be prepared in all aspects of life, yet wanting the innocence to stay at the core.  In the past year I have come to see how very differently we handle situations and honestly she’s better at most of them than I am.

I want to lock in this time for I know by next summer a whole new set of changes will come and I’ll probably be writing a post about it.  If I write here, hopefully I won’t be like the dramatic teenager I can be when dealing with her at times! 🙂

This is the child that has spent her nine short years skipping. She used to never really run but skip everywhere.  It represented a life of freedom and a go with the flow kinda mindset.  She still encompasses some of that, most of that.  But this year softball became more of a challenge and hustle was brought into play.  So running had to be done and well, she did do it, with some skipping too!  🙂

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I’m proud of the kid.  She isn’t perfect by any means but she took on a challenge of being a pitcher and not letting it break her “skipping spirit”.  Just with the degree of playing the game of softball changed, her life too changes with each passing year.

My role as her mother I think is to teach, guide, and allow her to fly on her own.  Three daughters later and I finally  realize that having them make mistakes  while home and I’m still a guide is essential to their adult life.  Saving them each time doesn’t teach them a damn thing!  I apologize to my first and second daughters for failing you in some aspects of my parenting, well let’s just throw in daughter number three too! We all know I’m far from perfect, remember I said I’m the one that acts like a dramatic teen at times! 🙂

I’m better at this motherhood thing now I think.  My “skipper” is better today than yesterday in this thing called life too.  It’s not all due to me.  She has a good father, super sisters, awesome grandparents, a loving church family, extended family, friends, teachers, and many more that help us in raising her.

But as her mom, I get an inside view of what is changing, even if microscopic in her daily life.  A front row seat if you will, to seeing each physical change and interpretation from her mind.  Sometimes this is a blessing beyond my own ability to comprehend and other times it’s hard.  Super hard to watch the innocence fade a level and the reality of this harsh world smack her in the face.  

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One thing is certain.  Until I take my last breath, I will sit in the front row, whether it’s comfortable or uncomfortable, right next to her or ten seats away.  I’ll be there, even when she doesn’t know it.

And may she NEVER stop skipping through life!

Love,

Mom

 

Parenting/Grandparenting Divide


I’ve slightly struggled with the art of being a grandparent since becoming one six years ago.  It isn’t because I feel I am too young to be a grandma, more because at the time I had a three year old myself to parent at home.  It’s not something that has consumed me but it’s something internally I have felt on and off in the past years.  It is a blessing to be a grandparent. No doubt.  Joy abounds, but still.

The parent part of grandparent was more evident than anything else due to the fact that I usually have my own child with us when the grandchild visits.  Disclaimer: I do not feel a grandparent is one that should give whatever the grandchild wants to them or supply them with endless stuff, candy, with no regard to discipline.  Perhaps it’s that I feel a grandparent, in normal circumstances, can take a more relaxed role as one watching the grandchild. They can savor the enjoyment of the child without feeling they have to discipline as they do with their own children.  Am I making any sense?

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to have three out of four of my grandchildren at my house, along with my nine year old daughter.  After they left I was thinking about the day and how a tiny bit of me felt tired but overall just happy with the time I had with them.  The moments that came to mind are below:

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When my only granddaughter woke up and decided she would sit with me on the couch, just the two of us and cuddle.  Things like this do not happen very often.  Either her brother or my youngest daughter are present.  This moment in time I snuggled her closer and nuzzled my nose in her hair.  I told her I loved her.  She smiled back at me and it was a pure grandmother moment.  Relaxed.

Singing to one of my twin three month old grandsons while I rocked him and he smiles up at me.  That made my heart full and I couldn’t stop my face from smiling if I wanted to.  

Talking with the other twin grandson and his huge smile appears, like it was all for Grandma only.  

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I pondered for awhile later that day and reflected back in the six years of becoming a grandparent.  I find myself in a more relaxed state, even when my own daughter is present.  Perhaps it is because she is getting older or I have come to “fit” better into this role as Grandma Julie.

 

All I know is joy is present.  Joy is good.  Life with family is even better.

Julie