Having an epiphany on Epiphany

Going home to Ohio this time was a little surreal to me.  I think it had to do with my memories of growing up and visiting at the holidays.  As a little girl I remember my dad would drive down these country roads at night going from his side of the family to my moms side of the family and my brother and I were in the backseat having no idea where we were.  Homes would be decorated with Christmas lights and there would be glistening candles in the windows.  I used to tell myself that one day, when I had a home of my own, I was going to buy candles to sit in the windows because I thought it looked so cozy.  I have not visited Ohio at Christmastime since I was probably around ten or eleven years old.  Thus the reason for my near thirty year time warp, but I must say… not a whole lot has changed at Grandpa’s house.  The sunsets and fields that have been farmed by generations of my family (including my father) still stop me in my tracks with their serenity.

This is my Grandpa (my dad’s dad).  He is almost 92 years old and recently suffered a stroke that had landed him in the hospital and gave us all a scare.  He is so happy to be home and I was so happy to see him, joke with him, and kiss his face.

I even survived watching The Lawrence Welk Show with him.  He finds it endearing, I find it utterly creepy, but love does what it must and I succumbed to the creepy.

As I walk in through the kitchen, I’m met with this same vintage stove that still works like a champ.  I remember sitting on the little stool in the kitchen and watching my Aunt and Grandmother bustle about preparing dinner and being fascinated at how you lifted up the doors to the oven and thought it was so cool.  Shoot, I still think it’s cool.  I love this stove.

I walk into Grandpa’s bedroom and find this picture of me hanging right by his bed.  I can’t believe it’s still there, unchanged.

On his dresser are these pictures of my brother and I sandwiched between a floral arrangement, his socks and his brush.  Pictures unchanged among socks he changes everyday.

His Christmas tree is still up and the same ornaments from my childhood have found their way to hang on the tree another year.

The manger scene that he made so many years ago once again is nestled under the tree.

Sitting in his rocking chair, he watches all three of his children visiting.  All three of his children that were raised right here in this very house that he built are all back together again in the living room with some of their children and if my punks were here, he’d have his great grandchildren.  What a legacy all around.  He’s taking it all in.

My dad points to these golden trees and tells me that he bought these for my grandma and the story of how she wanted them.  The trees sit upon a lazy susan that my grandpa made.  Have I mentioned he’s a retired industrial arts teacher?  He still loves being out in his shop creating. I look at the trees and miss my grandma.  She was so loving.  She’s the only thing missing here in this house of no changes.  She is the only person I know of who called the couch a davenport and who would always sing to me “A Bushel and a Peck.”  She had the most beautiful hands and she’d let me try on her pretty rings and paint her fingernails.  Her makeup, hairspray and nail polish still sit in the bathroom right where she left them almost thirteen years ago.  Once again, I’m flooded with memories.

Going home is bittersweet.  Everything is changing, yet nothing is changing.  We’re all aging, yet all the “things” remain unchanged.  My dad points out other knick knacks laying around  and tells me stories from his childhood.  I cling to these things, these stories because in some indirect way, they have formed me.  Maybe that’s what is hitting me.  My grandparents life choices plus my mom and dad’s life choices plus my life choices have made me who I am and that is my epiphany here at this time of Epiphany.  Can I encourage you in something?  Talk to the older ones in your life.  Listen to their stories.  Write them down.  Take their pictures and be engaged because they are subtly telling you who you are.  It may seem like it’s just their history, but don’t be mistaken for a minute.  It’s your history of who you are too.

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Love all around me

I don’t really know where to start with this post, but I don’t feel like I can move forward here on my blog without it.  You see, a week ago today I was on a plane headed to Ohio to be with my family there.  My uncle, who had as big and round blue eyes as my Ol’ Blue Eyes and the most beautiful gray hair you ever did see, had succumbed to that which has no cure, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, at the young age of 68.  He was such a sweet man with the most wonderful attitude.  He never had a cross word to say about anyone.  I will miss him and his ornery self (and tales of how he lost part of his thumb) so much.  Our family is forever changed without him.  I took this picture two years ago as he was playing around with my niece.  He always let the kids come to him and was so gentle.  Despite his struggles with his disease, he was always cheerful and never complained.

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I sat in my Aunt’s home and observed that among such sorrow lies deep beauty.  The way family holds onto one another and sobs. The way we hug and don’t say a word.  The way a son and daughter come up around their mother and check on her throughout the day.   The way prayer abounds from the lips of my grandparents.  Consoling talks with a sister.  Hugs from grandkids.  Invitations for breakfast, cards, gifts of memorials and kind words spoken in memory of our loved one are all sad yet beautiful because at the core of it all we have the hope of heaven.  All of us are believers; therefore we know this mourning is temporary because Christ came and defeated death.  That is our comfort.  Christ’s love and our family’s love is beautiful.

We gather around the table.  We laugh and tease and all the while we know how much he would’ve loved everyone being there and seeing …

a mother visit with her son before he leaves again for the Army…

comfort from the smallest dog

hugs from a nephew…

smiles from his father in law who was another father to him…

a sister who has shared parents, brother, history and so much more…

and despite puffy and tired eyes, we all smile because love comes up all around and only sees the heart.

I’m the lucky one. I’m (mostly) behind the camera watching it all unfold.  The unseen observer who sees love all around me.  I am a keeper of memories, spoken and captured.  Despite such huge loss, from what I see, my heart is full.

It’s true what they say, that life is for the living.  We carry on and we will remember, we will see, we will smell, we may even hear a nudge that seems it’s him nudging us one way or another.  Sometimes I think the veil between heaven and earth is just a dimension away that can only be viewed with the eyes of our soul.  Atleast that’s the way I like to think of it.  A breath away.

I loved my uncle.  He will be so missed.  I love to look up name meanings and see how those envelope and fold around the people I know.  I think of what Ann Voskamp said in her book 1000 Gifts.

“Now, in the Bible a name reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift to name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God.  To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.’

Richard (Strong, Powerful)  Lee (Shelter, Healer)  Teet (Glad, Cheerful)

These meanings fold up around him well.  Thank you God for our time with him and for this gift of him.  Thank you for the beauty that can be found despite suffering and hurt and most importantly, thank you for the promise of heaven.

And if you’re reading this, I love you Aunt Linda.  XOXOXO

Christmas day is everyday

Christmas Eve we set out for a Candlelight service.

We take communion and I see the elements in my sons hands.  Hands that are turning into man hands before my eyes.


And hands that are still young and about to begin to turn.


We sit in darkness and one by one candles light up the room.


We hold them high for all to see and what once was dark and lost can now be found. Without fail, that always in some way is me. Finding the light again and setting my mind back on the right path.


My youngest doesn’t want to blow his candle out.  Truth be told, I don’t want any of us to blow our candles out.  The symbolism that lies there hits me hard.  I swallow and smile and we go to look at all the Christmas lights as the sun is making it’s way down for the day.


The scenes all change…


but the story is the same…

Love came down…

and the hope that is Christmas lives in everyday.

Love came down

Tonight we will reflect in darkness and quiet how love came down.  How there was no room at the Inn, and how he was born and laid in a manger.  We will all sit in a church and light our single white candles from one large candle and sing Silent Night.  Holding our candles we will pause and think of the One who is the Light of the World.  The one in whom our hope rests.  Our one true King.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. ~ Galadriel

Christmas Lights

We got our Christmas lights put up on the house. My oldest punk worked right along side Ol’Blue Eyes.

Ol’ Blue Eyes fell off the ladder. He started stepping down off the ladder and it folded up on him and he fell. He’s a little bruised and scraped up, but he’s ok. Between falling through the ceiling getting decorations down, and now falling off the ladder, he’s having a rough start to Christmas, but just like a trooper, he got right back up and finished the lights…

and then walked straight into the kitchen to console himself.

I’m just kidding.  This was actually the next day.  See, his shirt is different.

Don’t judge him! It’s been a rough Christmas so far!

What TO text your wife when you are out of town

Not wanting to leave men of the world hanging in the balance, I thought I would name a few things you SHOULD text your wife when you are out of town. To be fair, I ‘m only posting seven because I only got to list seven things you SHOULD NOT text your wife before I was unfairly cut off by a little event that happened at my house.

1. Occupy Philly is nasty. Port a potties everywhere and trash cans overflowing with who knows what. You need a tetanus shot just to walk through there.  Glad you’re safe at home.

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2.   Good morning beautiful!  It’s a beautiful day!

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3. This is my “not fair” face.  I’d rather be there!

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4. An old man that looked like Santa Claus just tried to pick my pocket. I’m glad you and the boys are safe at home.

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5. There’s nothing like being cold, having to pee, and having no Kronor.  Seriously?  I have to pay to use the toilet?

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6. This is one of my family’s favorite rides at MGM Studios.  I miss y’all badly!

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7. The woman who sat next to me (on the plane to London) had the worst body odor, and I had to sit next to her that entire LONG flight!  I almost puked!

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Sincerely,

Wife desiring to clear up any confusion