Coupons from Heaven: A Eulogy

Almost every week for I don’t know how many years, an envelope would land in my mailbox, my typewritten address perfectly stamped out directly in the center. I never needed to look at the return address to know exactly who had sent it or what I would find inside. There was rarely a note…just a handful of meticulously clipped coupons from the current week’s mailer. And every time, it made me smile. I could hear my Grandpa’s voice saying, “Well, I don’t know if you can use any of these, but just throw them away if you can’t.” Continue reading “Coupons from Heaven: A Eulogy”

10 Signs You’ve Become a Road Trip Family

Summer is coming to a close. Like many families, we did our fair share of traveling by way of road trip. Whether we were spanning multiple states or just visiting a neighboring town for a quick getaway, a sort of kinship has developed between us and the paved pathways that decorate our great land. Now, when I hear Willie Nelson’s, “On the Road Again,” I think to myself, “I feel ya, bro. Like a band of gypsies…”

On one of these voyages, I realized we have become a “road trip family.” The following truths make us Griswold-certified:road trip family vacation

Continue reading “10 Signs You’ve Become a Road Trip Family”

Fluid: The Mirage of Beginnings and Endings

Despite what their names suggest, beginnings and endings are fluid. Nothing ever really begins…or ends.

Today has been a bit of a landmine of emotion. My grandma turns 87, just two days after being put on hospice. The symbols of her beginning and end being so close to one another is not lost on me.

Similarly this afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to take the kids back to our first home, almost 12 years to the day we moved in, and 8 years to the day we moved out. Again, the timing was not lost on me. It was the place where my daughter Grace spent the first two years of her life, and a house my son Michael never knew. Much of it was exactly as we had left it, down to the paint on the walls. It made me homesick, wanting to go back to those moments in my life that had passed. How easily I could put myself right back there…remembering how the boxwoods smelled as we worked in the yard…reading the Sunday paper while having breakfast in the tiny dining room…putting groceries away in the cramped, galley kitchen…seeing a toddler-sized, fluffy-haired Grace sitting on the floor of the living room watching Sesame Street with toys strewn around her…PhotoGrid_1433110505309

Then I turned around and saw the reality of now: this beautiful young woman with feet bigger than mine, who had no real memories at all of the house, despite the fact that I could picture her in every single corner of it. And next to her was this 6-year-old boy with kangaroo legs, sliding around on hardwood floors his chubby little baby knees never crawled on. We moved out of that house so we would have more room to bring Michael into our lives. How odd to be standing in this place with him where he never existed, if only in our dreams for the future.

It almost took my breath away how quickly life had changed in a matter of 8 years…how, standing within those walls of our first home, it felt like the beginnings of our marriage and parenthood seemed like yesterday. Yet a second later, it felt like a lifetime ago as I gazed upon my kids, who didn’t fit in this house at all: one because she was just too grown up to match the memory, the other because he was simply in existence. All the longing to be back in those days for even a moment vanished, for I realized my story couldn’t have gone the way it was supposed to if we hadn’t left that house. And leaving wasn’t really an end, but a beginning of something new, something better. Moreover, I discovered how easily I could make what was over seem like it wasn’t.

I hope that is what is happening for my grandma right now. It is as if her dementia has her in a state a bit like the one I was in as I walked through the rooms of my old house. She is living in moments of her life that are over, moments where sometimes her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren don’t even exist. Then every now and again, she is jarred into the present. Despite her failing condition, I would like to think she has points of clarity when she knows we are all here, that the way her life played out was good. Very good. And just as my husband and I will one day have to leave the house we live in now, the one that will always be known as the place where we raised our family, my grandma is facing another move…her final move.

I believe within the deepest chambers of my heart she will be moving on to a place where she doesn’t ever have to nostalgically wish to live in a moment that has passed, or feel as if life is being lived too quickly. She can be cognizant of every person she has loved. She can walk the rooms of any house she ever adored, sit in the desks of any school she ever attended, eat at any restaurant she ever held special, and sit on any Irish hill she ever dreamed of…all at the same moment. She won’t have to experience life in one-second increments. She can be in all the moments, all the time. Her end here with us will be the beginning of hopefully everything for her.

In a word, it will be fluid.

I'm pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there...
I’m pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there…

•••

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), Instagram, and Pinterest.

Fluid

Despite what their names suggest, beginnings and endings are fluid. Nothing ever really begins…or ends.

Today has been a bit of a landmine of emotion. My grandma turns 87, just two days after being put on hospice. The symbols of her beginning and end being so close to one another is not lost on me.

Similarly this afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to take the kids back to our first home, almost 12 years to the day we moved in, and 8 years to the day we moved out. Again, the timing was not lost on me. It was the place where my daughter Grace spent the first two years of her life, and a house my son Michael never knew. Much of it was exactly as we had left it, down to the paint on the walls. It made me homesick, wanting to go back to those moments in my life that had passed. How easily I could put myself right back there…remembering how the boxwoods smelled as we worked in the yard…reading the Sunday paper while having breakfast in the tiny dining room…putting groceries away in the cramped, galley kitchen…seeing a toddler-sized, fluffy-haired Grace sitting on the floor of the living room watching Sesame Street with toys strewn around her…PhotoGrid_1433110505309

Then I turned around and saw the reality of now: this beautiful young woman with feet bigger than mine, who had no real memories at all of the house, despite the fact that I could picture her in every single corner of it. And next to her was this 6-year-old boy with kangaroo legs, sliding around on hardwood floors his chubby little baby knees never crawled on. We moved out of that house so we would have more room to bring Michael into our lives. How odd to be standing in this place with him where he never existed, if only in our dreams for the future.

It almost took my breath away how quickly life had changed in a matter of 8 years…how, standing within those walls of our first home, it felt like the beginnings of our marriage and parenthood seemed like yesterday. Yet a second later, it felt like a lifetime ago as I gazed upon my kids, who didn’t fit in this house at all: one because she was just too grown up to match the memory, the other because he was simply in existence. All the longing to be back in those days for even a moment vanished, for I realized my story couldn’t have gone the way it was supposed to if we hadn’t left that house. And leaving wasn’t really an end, but a beginning of something new, something better. Moreover, I discovered how easily I could make what was over seem like it wasn’t.

I hope that is what is happening for my grandma right now. It is as if her dementia has her in a state a bit like the one I was in as I walked through the rooms of my old house. She is living in moments of her life that are over, moments where sometimes her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren don’t even exist. Then every now and again, she is jarred into the present. Despite her failing condition, I would like to think she has points of clarity when she knows we are all here, that the way her life played out was good. Very good. And just as my husband and I will one day have to leave the house we live in now, the one that will always be known as the place where we raised our family, my grandma is facing another move…her final move.

I believe within the deepest chambers of my heart she will be moving on to a place where she doesn’t ever have to nostalgically wish to live in a moment that has passed, or feel as if life is being lived too quickly. She can be cognizant of every person she has loved. She can walk the rooms of any house she ever adored, sit in the desks of any school she ever attended, eat at any restaurant she ever held special, and sit on any Irish hill she ever dreamed of…all at the same moment. She won’t have to experience life in one-second increments. She can be in all the moments, all the time. Her end here with us will be the beginning of hopefully everything for her.

In a word, it will be fluid.

I'm pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there...
I’m pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there…

•••

Don’t want to miss a post? Want to stay updated on my author events and news? Subscribe to my Weekly Mayhem newsletter HERE!

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), Instagram, and Pinterest.

But You Never Knew Him

You talk about him quite often.

But you never knew him.

You recognize him in photographs.

But you never knew him.

You include him in your prayers.

But you never knew him.

You sometimes reveal a little smile that has just a breath of the one he used to give me.

But you never knew him.

You would have gotten “the look” from him on many an occasion. And you would have towed the line when that happened. Trust me.

But you never knew him.

Yet you also would have made the apples of his cheeks protrude with the pride and joy he felt for all of us who felt safe standing in his shadow.

But you never knew him.

He would have loved you and your funny ways. Loved those hugs of yours that come with a running start. Loved your wacky dances. Loved your toothless grin. And he most certainly would have had a nickname for you. Something like “Muckel Jay” or “Mike the Tyke.”

in memoriumBut you never knew him.

Still, you act like you did.

When his name is the first one you think to write down on your paper for All Souls’ Day…

…you act like you knew him.

When I say, “You know who hated strawberries?” and you say, “Dooda”…

…you act like you knew him.

When, out of the blue, you draw an amazing picture of a tank and tell me you made it to put on his grave, the man who always had a war story to tell…

…you act like you knew him.

Maybe I talk about him more than I realize. Maybe the family lore of this man who was our hero is that strong and present. Or maybe he whispers to you when the rest of us are not listening. Maybe God tucked a little bit of him inside of you before you became ours…so that he could still be ours, too.

in memorium
Visiting Great-Grandpa, a.k.a. “Dooda.” My daughter was the only great-grandchild he ever got to meet, but somehow I think he and my son are good friends.

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), Instagram (ryoufinishedyet), and Pinterest.

 

 

I Used to Know This House

Last week, my grandparents’ old house went on the market. It has been inhabited by another family for almost twenty years now, yet every time I drive by it, I still think of it as Grandma and Grandpa’s house…despite the many renovations. My mom, my aunt and I decided to go to the open house, to see what had changed and what had stayed the same. And perhaps just to be there one last time, now that my Grandpa is gone and my Grandma is mostly lost within her own mind. The following is my reflection on that experience.

As I turned the familiar door knob, I could almost picture the sign on the door that said, “Back Door Guests Are Best.” It was the exact same door knob that squeaked a bit. The one I had turned so many times before. The one that opened up to the small galley kitchen, the sound of KMOX talk radio, the smell of Virginia Slims, and the sight of Grandma drinking her instant coffee or Grandpa reading the paper. But this time, the door opened up to a scene totally unfamiliar to me. Continue reading “I Used to Know This House”

Baby Changing Stations in the Men’s Bathroom: Gender Stereotypes and The Sister-Brother Relationship

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, that what little boys are made of. Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. 

Nowadays, we do not find it very enlightened to pigeonhole boys and girls in such a manner. Yet despite society’s ever-increasing openness to gender bending, many children still come to embody the stereotypes, even in the absence of labels or coaching. I see it on a daily basis as the mother of one girl and one boy. My daughter and son also clearly notice the disconnects that sometimes occur because of their differing genders. Continue reading “Baby Changing Stations in the Men’s Bathroom: Gender Stereotypes and The Sister-Brother Relationship”

Similar Tastes: A Letter to My Daughter On Her Birthday

My daughter is turning nine years old this week. In the midst of buying last minute gifts, finding a recipe for cookie cake, and confirming party plans at the bowling alley, I felt compelled to revisit something I had written for her two years ago. As time passes, and she seemingly grows into a new person, all the while becoming even more the girl I have always known, the need to tell her things becomes more desperate. Just today, I was out to lunch with her and my son, and as I calculated the tip in the head, I thought, “When they are old enough to start eating at restaurants alone with their friends, I need to remember to tell my kids about tipping. And how much to tip. Because there is nothing worse than a group of obnoxious teenagers who don’t realize they are supposed to leave a few extra bucks for the server.” See? I have a lot to teach her. But then I remembered this letter, and figured it was a pretty good place to start.Because she is still only just nine years old…

Continue reading “Similar Tastes: A Letter to My Daughter On Her Birthday”

I Remember Where I Was When…

I hope you’re feeling nostalgic, because the Remember the Time Blog Hop is back from vacation! Emily of The Waiting and I are excited to resume the collective trip down memory lane. If you’re new here and don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, check out the explanation of the RTT Blog Hop here. We would love for new bloggers to link up stories with us, in addition to our old friendly favorites. You can find instructions for how to join at the end of my own blog hop entry.

This week, we are remembering where we were when…we heard some big news …an iconic moment happened … Continue reading “I Remember Where I Was When…”

Matching Outfits: Which Sister Wore It Better?

So I have been co-hosting the Remember the Time Blog Hop with Emily of The Waiting for a few months now. I’d say it has really brought us closer…as close as two bloggers who live in different states and communicate mostly via Facebook messages can be. So basically, we’re like sisters. Down to the fact that one day in the comment section we are arranging marriages of our children (wait, that would be creepy for siblings to do), and the next we’re declaring jello wrestling death match fights over who gets to marry Rick Astley if Continue reading “Matching Outfits: Which Sister Wore It Better?”