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It’s been fourteen years

Since my father passed away

Gone–but in my heart

I can hardly believe it has been fourteen years since my father passed away. I’ll never forget that long dark night when the impossible happened.  My dad, who had been in my life forever, was gone. And I learned “forever” is just another word, with a million meanings that don’t fit. There is no “forever”, it seems.

And yet—

And yet, if I close my eyes, I can hear Dad playing the trumpet. If I concentrate, I can see his smile, hear his laughter, watch his hands as he sands the bumper on one of his MGs.

And yet, I carry on his love for plaid, and of all things British. I share his conviction there’s more to life than work. There’s curiosity and learning and the pursuit of an interest.

And yet, that creak in my knee sounds just like his. And my ankles are just as skinny, and my feet just as cold.

And so, I guess “forever” does exist, will exist, for a little while longer, after all—in my body, in my memory, and in my heart.

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Happy Holidays!

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And so here we are at the end of another year.  When I was just a girl, my fifth grade teacher told the class one day that every year of our lives would go by faster than the year before.  I remember thinking that couldn’t possibly be true, but, sure enough, it is.  I told him that story when he retired, and I’ll bet he was reflecting on the truth of his words, just then.

If you ask me, these busy weeks around the holidays provide a respite of sorts from dealing with everything else that needs attention. At least, that’s how I operate.  “In the New Year,” I think as I add yet another note to my to-do list.  Of course, the trick will be in sticking to my resolution to tackle these jobs, when my track record with resolutions is as good as anyone else’s–that is to say, not very good at all.

But before all of that work comes the fun of being with family and friends, laughing and sharing conversation, and eating too much chocolate. I try to make a point of getting the same kind of chocolates Mom got when we were little, and I put them in the candy dish that belonged to my Gramma. I dropped that dish a few years ago, breaking it into several pieces.  It took me an hour to glue it carefully back together again and, if you look at three sides of the dish, you’d never know of the catastrophe.  That fourth side, though…well, let’s just say it’s best turned to the wall.  I’ll always use that little dish, and fill it with Mom’s chocolates as long as the company makes them.  Christmas is all about traditions, after all, and that’s one of my favorites.

Happy Holiday wishes to you all.

 

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Twenty eight years now

Since vows made us man and wife

Here’s to our future!

 

It’s hard to believe nearly three decades have passed since the day we were married.  How different life was then!  Looking at our album, I see so many beloved faces sharing our celebration, faces no longer here with us.  Dear ones, lost to time. So many. Too many.  Recalling the day, I recall them, too–my parents, Neal’s parents, Gramma, aunts, uncles.

How wonderful it was to gather them all together that day, first in my college’s Chapel for our lovely, very personal ceremony, then later at an historic hotel for an elegant, low-key reception, where everyone ate a vegan dinner and topped the meal with two vegan cakes–a spice cake, and a fancy chocolate one.

In the photos, the happiness of our wedding shines not just from our eyes, but from that of all our guests, as well.

Today, we’ll celebrate now, and then. Love–past, present, and future.

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“Closed for the season”

The sign at beach snack bar says

But I must disagree

 

Never one to blindly follow rules, I’m afraid my beach isn’t closed for the season just yet. Oh, there will be no more enticing smells of french fries from the snack bar, no chance at a cold beverage–or a hot one–unless I remember to bring it along, but that’s okay.

The wind and the waves and the birds and the trees are all still here for me, just where I need them, to disconnect from real life for a while each week.

It’s even better here, at the beach, in the off season. Such wonderful words: off season, implying the reality of deserted sand, stacked-up beach chairs, shuttered windows and, somewhere far ahead, a turn in the weather.

Now, I’ll absorb the scene and the sense of it all. Drink in the energy of the waves, the feel of the sun, the bliss–just the bliss-of the off season.

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Birthday thoughts

 

Old tree sways in wind

Surviving by adapting

Just goes with the flow

 

I took a walk on the bike path today, when a hint of autumn was in the air. Stopping to admire the view of the ravine, I followed the trunk of one tree up, up, up and watched the top of this obviously old tree sway in the breeze. The whole tree, actually, moved with the wind, adapting to its direction.

And I thought of how this old tree could still adjust to changes. Indeed, had to, in order to survive. there’s a lesson there for me, as another birthday draws near.

Adjust, adapt, survive.

Okay!

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Family portrait

With churning waves as backdrop

Quite a memory!

 

 

Over a ways from where I am sitting on the beach, a man is posing his family for a portrait. His camera’s on a tripod in the sand and they all stand with their backs to the sea. The waves are raging today, white caps crashing onto shore, the churned-up sediment turning the water as brown as the sand.

What a memory that photo will be!  Years from now, when it’s posted on the wall of one of the children’s homes, they’ll point at it, remembering this day, when they were all so young and summer was at an end.

Daddy, perhaps, was the parent who wanted one more trip to the beach before school began, so even though the temperature was cool and the wind was strong, down they’d come. Of course, as kids, they’d been impervious to cold and had spent hours running along at the edge of the water, their high, thin voices lost in the deafening roar of the waves.

And then, Daddy had made them all stand still, their ceaseless motion on pause, for just the time it took to gather, to smile, to sprint away again, back down the sand.

Silly Daddy and his pictures, they may have thought. But one day, they will thank God for Daddy and his pictures. Thank God for the memory of that lovely–this lovely–September day.

 

 

The Big Eclipse

Where will sun be

On Monday, for the eclipse?

I’ll watch from the sand.

 

After all the lead-up and breathless anticipation, all the mad scrambling for solar glasses and the day off, it was finally August 21, 2017 and time for a solar eclipse as hadn’t been seen in nearly 100 years.

My plan was to hit the beach with my husband for the duration. The sun would be nearly directly overhead and we would be ready with glasses, sunscreen, something cold to drink and our wonderful dog to keep us company.

Of course, it didn’t turn out that way. We left our old doggy home, napping, and had a nice lunch al fresco as the eclipse got underway, under clouds!

Holding up my solar glasses, I’d say, “There it is! Oh, now it’s gone. No, wait–” as clouds scudded by. Before we were done eating, though, the clouds had mostly cleared and it seemed we’d be in for a show.

We went to a park close by, where the Frisbee golf course made a big open space. Other families were already there, with picnic lunches on colorful tablecloths and dogs on the Frisbee course. One couple lay side by side on the back of their car, motionless as statues, their solar glasses in place.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the moon moved into position. The breeze picked up and the temperature dropped, not things that would normally bring an exclamation from me, but they did that day. I knew from the program I’d attended at the library a week earlier that here in Milwaukee the eclipse would be blocking 83% of the sun. Even a mere 17% sunshine would keep the day bright and, indeed, the skies only dimmed, as if a storm were approaching. But that didn’t impact the spectacle of the moon’s motion for me.

The last time this event took place, 1918, my grandmother was eight years old. I think that’s the definition of once-in-a-lifetime. And yet they say we’ll have other eclipses in 2024 and 2045, so perhaps not.

I am so glad I took a vacation day for this amazing event. Neal and I had a wonderful afternoon there, under both sun and moon, sharing the phenomenon with everyone everywhere at once, or so it seemed.

Thank you, Universe, for two and a half minutes I’ll remember, forever.