Category Archives: Faith

In the Stillness of the Evening ……

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…… memories tend to come back.
Sometimes it’s the memories that you forgot you had.

That happened tonight.
While I was holding my granddaughter (I’d nickname her Granddaughter #1, but since she’s an only that would be silly. I know that you, my wise reader, know full well who she is.)

For the last week and a half (a bit less than that) one of my jobs has been to take her at night so that my daughter and her hubs can get a few hours of sleep. I get her early-ish. Anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 or so. And then I hold her, rock her, walk her, sway with her, etc. to try to let them sleep as long as possible before her next feeding.
Tonight is my last night.
(Cue tears.)

Her other grandparents come tomorrow evening.
I’ve never had to share grand parenting.
It will be …… different.
I don’t feel negatively about it. I’m thankful that she will have so much love in her life.
But it’s …… just different.

Anyway, they will arrive tomorrow and take over helping out around here.
I will take care of the grandsons tomorrow night and we’ll all be here Sunday for her baptism (which her grandfather has the honor of performing) and then I’ll head back to Waco with Daughter #2 and the boys.

The other grandparents are lovely. I’ve enjoyed being around them the few times we’ve been together.
They raised 3 terrific children and one is the best husband I could ask for my daughter.

And yet …… this short visit will be a bit difficult.
Another feeling that I didn’t foresee.
It came out of nowhere.
Or everywhere, I guess.

There are two of them.
A couple.
They are beyond excited to see her …… their first grandchild.
They get to share this excitement.
With each other.
They get to watch each other hold her and compare her to each other and to their children.
That is a blessing.
I’ll be fine, with a tinge of sadness.

But I digress.

Memories.
In the stillness of the evening.

This one came back to me:

One morning, back when we had only 3 or 4 children (only!), I woke up to find a letter from Jim.
He had stayed up late and wrote it while he watched me sleep (not creepy at all if you don’t over think it.)

It seems that he had listened to a Garth Brooks song that night and it made him do a lot of thinking.
And he wanted to tell me about it.

He wanted to tell me how much he loved me.
He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated me, as a Christian, a wife, a friend and a mother.
He wanted to be certain that I knew all the things.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
In case.

In case tomorrow never comes.
About 17 years before it never came.

That’s the memory that came back tonight.
A blessing …… in the quiet of the evening.

She’s Here ……

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…… and my heart has grown yet again.

She’s tiny (just shy of 6 pounds), beautiful and perfect.
Her birth was easy and relatively quick.

When I first looked into her eyes I felt such joy …… and such sadness …… that it was hard to breathe.
My heart is full and yet it hurts.
A lot.
God, I miss him.

I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.
Which is what grief does best, I suppose.
It sneaks up on you at the worst times.
And the best ones.

He should be here, falling in love with a little girl all over again.
He should be here. For Daughter #3.
And for Granddaughter #1.
But since he’s not …… I’ll have to give her all of the love we both would’ve.
I think I’m up to the task.

They named her James.
There.
Are.
No.
Words.

Her middle name is Eliana.
This is what my daughter posted:
“She is named after her late grandfather (my dad), whose integrity, generosity, and wisdom we hope she inherits. And her middle name means “God has answered”- she is indeed the long-awaited answer to our prayers.”

She is indeed.

A Gift ……

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…… that sure didn’t seem like one.
At the time.
Until it did.

Loneliness is something that a lot of people worry about. And something a lot of widowed people experience.

With the approaching arrival of our first granddaughter, Jim has been on my mind. A lot.
I mean, he’s almost always on my mind, but these days it’s more often. I find myself missing being able to talk to him about this birth and the one in March of our grandson. The missing of him and the missing of being able to share this with him is palpable.

As most of you know, I dated twice after Jim died. Seriously.
Neither worked out (duh). In fact, the second relationship was a disaster and he was the worst person I’ve ever met (though he sure hid that well in the beginning).
But he did leave me with something. Something that I knew, without a doubt, I’d have with me for the rest of my life.
At first I was beyond pissed over this. Then sad. Very sad.
But today? Not so much.
Today I consider it kind of like a gift.

What was it?
The knowledge that I would most likely never date again and that I would never re-marry.

I know, I know. That doesn’t seem like a gift.
But it feels like it now.
Most of the time.

It feels freeing …… to not be dating and to not feel like I’m missing anything.
It feels freeing to not want to date.
It’s difficult to explain this. Because most people want to be in a relationship.
Most people spend a lot of time and energy looking for “their person”.
And I don’t think that’s wrong. Everyone needs to do what’s best for them.
Being single …… being alone …… isn’t for everyone.
Just as being in a relationship …… being married …… isn’t for everyone.

I think this probably seems strange to people because the people who know me, who knew us, know that we had a good marriage.
A very good marriage.
And it would seem that I’d want that again.

I did at first.
And then I didn’t.
Because the one thing that those relationships taught me is this:
It’s much better to be single than to be with the wrong person.
Whether that person is good, or not, doesn’t matter …… if he’s wrong for you.

I guess that’s another part of the “gift”.
I can be happy being single because there are way worse things.
And it taught me that being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely.

It also cemented the knowledge that what I had with Jim is something that many people will never experience.
And that knowledge makes me happy.
(That I had it, not that most people won’t. That makes me sad.)

I think it’s also what makes me not feel lonely while being alone.
The memories, the love, the knowledge …… make me feel content.
And that is a gift, indeed.

So while I do miss him, sometimes more than I can stand …… I know that his love is still with me.
I know that I had something really great.
And I know that’s rare.

I guess a gift is in the eye of the beholder.

Holy moly ……

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…… it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote.

A lot has happened in that minute.
And yes, it’s mostly been hot.

Let’s play catch-up, shall we?

When last we met, it was August. 2019.
We’re now in a new decade.
Time flies.

Back in August I had 6 children, 1 son in law and 2 adorable grandsons, a home for sale in Waco and my apartment in NY.
Today I have 6 children (most likely a firm number as I don’t foresee getting pregnant anytime soon), 1 son in law, 1 daughter in law, 2 adorable grandsons, 1 highly anticipated granddaughter (why does the spelling of that word always look wrong to me?) arriving in two weeks (WHOOP!!) and 1 highly anticipated grandson arriving a few weeks after that (WHOOP!!), a home off of the market in Waco (don’t get me started), my apartment in NY and a studio apartment at my daughter’s new home in Waco.
Whew.
That seems like a lot, even to me.

So yes, Daughter #3 is expecting a beautiful (I’ve seen the ultrasound pics. Trust me, she’s beautiful. Even if her hands were blocking her face in most of them.)
I’m headed back to Texas (my third trip since Christmas) in a little over a week to be on Mom/Gigi duty.
And yes, I’ve been purchasing a fair amount of pink.

Son #2 and his lovely wife are expecting a son in March. I cannot wait. And will be there to help them as much as they’ll let me.
They also just purchased and moved into their first home. Double whoop!

Daughter #2 sold her lovely little Fixer Upper (feel free to take a moment of silence to mourn). Thankfully, Fixer Upper homes are a hot commodity in Waco.
Unfortunately, non Fixer Upper homes are not (okay, you got me started).
And so mine is off the market, for the time being.
It had very little traffic. No one seems to know why. Everyone who saw it (all 7 of them) seemed to love it.
Except.
It was “too big” (like they didn’t know that before they saw it?!).
The back yard is “too small” (see above parenthetical comment).
It needs “updating” (?!).
The HOA rules are “too stringent”.
Yada yada yada.

And so it sits.
With occasional visits from me.
I’m weighing when to put it back on the market and with whom to list it.
I hate home ownership.

Back to Daughter #2’s new home.
It has much more space for them and the backyard is an adventurous child’s dream.
It has a fort and a large wooded area in which to imagine all sorts of adventures and games.
It also has a studio apartment for moi.
This apartment has a tie to Fixer Upper, so there’s that.
When Clint, the carpenter who worked with Joanna (and built the cute desks for D2’s house), started his own show, he did this apartment.
Unfortunately he didn’t do the rest of the house so D2 has spent considerable time (and $) updating it.
It’s been great to be that close to the boys and yet far enough to have some space.

Speaking of the boys …… they continue to be a joy.
Most of the time, because let’s just be honest …… boys.
Grandson #1 is 5 (I know!) and growing like a weed (is that a saying in other parts of the country?).
He and I went on what was supposed to be the start of a tradition in October.
A trip to DisneyWorld when a grandchild turns 5.
And yes, you did catch the words “what was supposed to be”.
I’m getting too old for DisneyWorld.
Or maybe for 5 year olds.
Or maybe for taking 5 year olds to DisneyWorld.
All I know is that he may have killed that dream for the rest of his cousins.
We’ll see. Maybe it’s like labor and you kind of forget about the pain.
Until you’re in it again.

Grandson #2 is changing almost daily. He has gone from speaking toddler to speaking English in only a month or so. At Thanksgiving I still couldn’t understand much of what he said (not that that bothered him …… he just kept repeating the same foreign words, patiently. Like I was a child who would eventually get it if he just stuck with it.) and now we can have full on conversations. In English!
He is hugely funny and has a wicked sense of humor.
He also likes throwing his body down anywhere (a sofa, the floor, the dirt) just to make people laugh.
Daughter #2 needs to buckle her seatbelt for this one.

Everyone else is doing well.
Son #3 is over halfway through law school.
Hallelujah.

I’m going to take a moment to talk with those of you who’ve been with me since Jim died.
In real life or in the other blog:

Can you freakin’ believe it?
After going to hell and back with a couple of my children (you know who they are) …… to now see them happy, healthy and doing well is nothing short of a miracle in my book.
Thank you, Lord.
Seriously.

Gracie Lou is doing well.
She had surgery a couple of weeks ago for bladder stones.
That wasn’t fun.
But she has bounced back and probably feels better than ever now that she’s several stones lighter (see what I did there?).

She and Oliver now get along most of the time. They even play together on occasion. Not as much as she would like but Oliver has to uphold the rules of his species.
Cats. Go figure.

Okay, that’s it for today. I need to get ready to go see a play later today. It’s called “Grand Horizons” and has Jane Alexander (Whoop!) and James Cromwell (Whoop! Hopefully I can resist the urge to yell out, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.) in it.

I need to squeeze in a lot of things before I leave because I won’t be back to NY until April.
Unless my children get tired of me wanting to hold their babies all of the time.
Then I’ll be back sooner.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Choosing ……

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…… to not be sad.

Is that possible?  I used to think, “Of course it is!”
You know …… back in my “before”.
I had no idea that sometimes …… you just can’t choose.
Until I couldn’t.

It seemed to last forever …… the days that I couldn’t choose.
It felt like forever.
A long, dark, cold forever.

But gradually the days became lighter and warmer and I found that I could decide.
Sometimes.
Sometimes turned into most times and most times is where I reside now.

I am able to choose to not be sad.

Which brings me to today.
New Year’s Eve.
I’ve hated New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day for ten years.
For me, it’s worse than the dreaded Valentine’s Day that widowed people abhor so much.
It’s an evening/day when you can feel like such a loser because you’re alone.
It’s an evening/day when loneliness feels magnified.
And trust me …… something as sucky as loneliness shouldn’t be magnified.

Christmas was great.
The apartment was full …… of people and noise.
Lots and lots of noise.
And fun.

But like every year, my children have returned to their homes and their lives.
As they should.
The silence is deafening.
On this night.

I know that for many people, the silence and loneliness on Christmas is worse.
And I know that I’m blessed each year to have most of my children with me for that week.
So I try to be mindful of that.
And thankful.

This year feels no different.
It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s quiet.
And a bit lonely.
I still hate it.

I wish he were here.

In spite of all that, I’m choosing to not be sad.
I’m choosing to be thankful.
Thankful for my children.
And their children.
Thankful for the love in my life.
For the friendships and the family.

Thankful that even though he’s not here …… he was.

But most of all …… I’m thankful that I can choose to not be sad.

Most of the time.

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New Year’s Eve 2006 — our last one

Ten ……

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…… years.

120 months.

3,650 days.

And 86,400 hours.  Give or take.

However you count it …… it’s a long time.
And it’s not.
It’s the blink of an eye.
The lifetime of a teenager.
A graduate to a parent.
A mother to a grandmother.
The end of what was planned.
And the beginning of what wasn’t.

Ten.
It’s not the horrible number that you might expect.
Which is odd, since most of the first five or so were pretty rotten.
But ten.
Ten feels …… natural, I guess.

I mean, of course it’s ten.
Jim died ten years ago, almost to the hour.
Ten long years that have flown by.
Ironic, I know.

So much has happened.
In the lives of our children.
In mine.
Many things have changed.
Some things have not.

My life looks far different from the life I had ten years ago.
And though it goes without saying (so why do I always feel the need to say it?) …… I would far prefer the life and plans we all had ten years and two days ago.
Far.

But, that wasn’t my choice to make.
And so this life, this ten year construction, is the life I have learned to choose.
And have worked hard to make.
This past year has been pretty awful at times.
My father died.
My house flooded, as did the homes of many of my friends.
I had to foreclose on our family home and then sell it again, for less than I had hoped.
I am selling my “flooded” house for about half of what I paid for it.
But, through all of this, and more …… I’ve been good.

Nothing that happened has been worse than what happened ten years ago.
Nothing.
The death of half of you gives you perspective.

Our children are good.
Our grandson is amazing.
Life has moved forward.
Sometimes good.
Sometimes not.
But the good has mostly outweighed the bad.

And the best thing of all …… is the love Jim gave.
To me.
To our children.
To his family.
To his friends.
To our community.
To God.

God has multiplied that love.
In my life and in the lives of our children.
In more ways than one.

So yes, it’s been ten challenging years since I last kissed him goodbye.
Ten years where some dreams have died and others have been born.
Ten years of missing him.

But this year, on this day, I am celebrating his love.
That love has made me who I am.
The love that gave me our children.
That love will never be gone.
Even when I am.

Long live love.

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Thankful ……

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…… yes, I can say that I am thankful.
Beyond thankful, actually.

In spite of all of the crap that’s happened these last ten years.
And truthfully, because of all of the crap that’s happened these last ten years.

Ten years ago today I had no idea that my world was soon to be turned upside down and inside out.
I had no inkling that my heart would be ripped out of my chest and that my future, my dreams, my expectations would be ripped out right along with it.
When I think back to the “before me”, I am wistful.
I’d like to be her again, just for a moment.
Innocent.
Content.
Loved.
Secure.
Naive.
Happy.

It’s taken much time, but I am able to say that I’ve regained some of those things.
I’ve had most of them back for more than a few years.
I’m content with the life I have now.
I feel mostly secure. Not totally, but mostly is much better than not at all.
And I’m happy.
Again, not the same happy, but happy nonetheless.

It’s been quite a road.
A tough road.
A shitty road for the first few years.
If you don’t believe that, or can’t comprehend it, then I invite you to go back in time …… all the way back to 3 months before Jim died.
Back when I first started a blog to write about the humor of raising six kids.
That’s all it was.
At first.
It changed very quickly.
You can find it here: http://txmomx6.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-heck-am-i-doing.html

Thanksgiving is usually the time that the sadness/grief starts creeping back in. It’s the beginning of what some of us call, “the death march”. Thanksgiving was like the beginning of the end …… 10 years ago.

This year …… Thanksgiving has been a really nice day to hang with 5 of my 6 kids, and my parents. A day to be thankful for all that I have.
And all that I had.

My life looks nothing like it did 10 years ago, three weeks before Jim died.
But it’s a good life.

I couldn’t have said that 7, 8 or 9 years ago.
Again, the road to here was sometimes horrific, often times shitty, most times lonely.
In spite of that, I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I didn’t always move forward. Sometimes I moved backwards several feet. Sometimes I just laid down in the middle of the road, bereft and without enough strength to even raise my head.
But …… slowly but surely …… I got from there to here.

Don’t get me wrong …… I’d still prefer that Jim were here along with my “before life”.
But that’s not an option.
And never will be.

So I keep moving forward, and am thankful for each day and each person in my life.
I’m thankful for the ways I’ve changed because Jim died.
I’m content with my life that I live without him.

My heart is full as my 3 year old grandson comes over, takes my laptop away and crawls into my lap …… making me take a break from writing this post.

I love my life.
It’s a life I wouldn’t have if Jim were here.
It’s a life I have because he isn’t here.

It’s not a life I would have chosen …… but it’s a life for which I am eternally grateful.

So on this Thanksgiving Day …… I thank God for my family, my friends …… my life.
And I thank Jim …… for my “before” and for my “after”.
Because he’s a huge part of both.