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In my mom’s birthday post I explained why I made the scrapbook page for her and wrote some things I remembered about her.  That was in 2004, and her birthday was the day before Thanksgiving that year. The very next day my dad went to the hospital with respiratory problems. This is not uncommon with him. When I was little, I remember spending hours and hours days on end at the hospital because he had pneumonia. There were many winters I thought would be his last due to it. So a trip to the emergency room was nothing out of the ordinary.

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But what WAS unusual, is that his breathing was so bad he was put on life support. Then they discovered he was septic in many places in his body and had a very bad strep infection in his lungs. His organs started shutting down. He was in Missouri; I was in New Mexico. I did not go. Many of my family and friends were more than somewhat unhappy with me for not going, but my point was that unless they could wake him up and I could talk to him one last time, there was no point for me to be there waiting for him to die. My mother’s situation would require a lot of time to sort out if he died, so I could not leave and take extra days waiting for him to die. Call me cold, but he was in a coma.

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What I did do at this time was make a list of reasons I loved him and things I remembered about him like I had done for my mother’s birthday just a few days before. I e-mailed it to my mother’s caretaker so someone could read it to my dad–just in case in the far reaches of his mind he could hear something.

Well my dad is tough, and he pulled out of that to the amazement of every doctor and nurse caring for him. I DID go visit then and arrived the day he was discharged from the hospital. (The picture you see in this post of my dad and me was from that visit.)

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Below is a list of things I wrote then about my dad. Like my other lists, it is certainly not all-inclusive, but it gives you a peek into why he is so special to me. (A lot of these will not make sense to a lot of you, but I decided to leave them in anyway.)

The pictures are from a small (3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) book I made for him for Father’s Day the following year that included everything on the list. (The best picture here of him is the black-and-white one. It just looks like who he is. It is the photo I held while he was in the hospital and I did not go.)

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Things I remember about you….
-The maroon Dodge.
-Always wearing safety belts, years before the rest of the population did it.
-Saturday nights at car dealerships.
-Your calling my boss at my first job in high school to make sure I was doing a good job at work. (I answered the phone.)
-NEVER late to church!
-TV Santa.
-Fireworks on 4th of July.
-How you put your all into everything you did.
-Taking us to see Mom at night when she worked at the nursing home.
-Hours at the foundry and DPC when I was little.
-Mason Shoes work boots.
-Model airplanes.
-Robert Hall.
-Pocket Watches.
-Home movies and slide shows.
-Visiting you at the academy when you lived there to build the new plant.
-Helping you change the mold on “my” test machine at work.
-Hanging on for dear life on the boat.
-Dinner wherever we pleased on our birthdays.
-Overalls.
-The Class of 1960.
-Interesting Sabbath School programs at church when you were the superintendent.
-Your business presentation at Union College.
-Brush-hogging and mowing.
-The cows.
-Driving tomato stakes.
-Eating out. 
-Your big heart for everyone.
-Business lunches.
-Giant Cannons.
-Steam Engine Exhibits.
-Big M&M’s cookies.
-Tractor Pulls
-MO trips:  Johnson Shut-ins, Elephant Rocks, Big Spring, Silver Dollar City, St. Louis Zoo, KC Zoo

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Things I especially love about you….
-Instilling in me a love of gardening.
-Teaching me that I am responsible for my own life and to not make excuses or blame others for my problems.
-Assuring I had a college education and the ability to support myself.
-Making me believe that no matter what I wanted in life or what I wanted to do, I could have it or do it.
-Your example of standing up for what you believed was right even if it was very unpopular.
-You made sure I was exposed to life by many various experiences and visits to unfamiliar places.
-You made sure we periodically saw all the distant relatives we could, especially great aunts and uncles and great grandparents on both sides of the family.
-Weekend visits while I was at the academy.
-That you never bought me a car.
-You raised me to know right from wrong, but rarely lectured me when you didn’t approve of my choices.
-You made me feel like there could be no better, smarter daughter in the world.
-Providing 16 years of Christian education for me (but making me work to pay for a giant portion of it).
-You are the most generous person I know, probably to a fault, but you passed to me the desire to be generous also.

So Happy Birthday to my dad, whose birthday is tomorrow. And if you have been following this series, that means his birthday was the day after my mother died. He spent his 65th birthday in a funeral home taking care of the arrangements for his wife. But that is life, and we have to make the best of what life hands us. He, more than anyone, has shown me how to do that.

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Chicklet, Grandpa M, Grandma D, Chic

May 2008, L-R: Chicklet, Grandpa M, Grandma D, Chic

In the post about Chic’s birthday, I warned you that we are in a string of family events that I feel the need to commerorate  with a post. This one is the third of five that happen in a ten-day span. Just a little crazy here!

Grandma D is my father’s wife. My mother died nearly two years ago, and my father remarried about nine months later to “D.” 

Probably similar to most families, my family is about half “good” and half “bad.” Possibly not similar to most families (but I know definitely similar to some), the “bad” ones are REALLY bad. Most of my life I have tried to ignore them; it is just easier that way. But sometimes they will not be ignored. Those family members were not terribly appreciative of my father getting married again. The things they have said about him and his wife (who they know nothing about) are hair-raising. They have made it much easier for me to ignore them without guilt.

My opinion of my father’s marriage “so soon” after my mother’s death was good. I did not know his new wife, but I knew of her. My mother’s decline lasted 10 years. She did not even speak for the last seven years. She needed full-time care for the ten years, and that was always in my father’s home. My take on it was that he had basically been without a wife for ten years, so what was wrong with him finding a little happiness? He was ony 65, and I was grateful he managed to make it nine months before getting married. He married my mother three months after they met. I was expecting something similar.

I had a small amount of concern about the character of “D,” but after I met her, that was washed away. She is a wonderful woman and could not be better for my dad.

When you read this, I will be out of town, and Grandma D is in the hospital. (I’m not out of town visiting her, however.) She had some kind of surgery a couple of weeks ago. There was a tube of some sort in her, and it was not done properly. It leaked, and she became septic. She worsened and worsened until she was put on life support to try to allow her to heal.  She was intubated for about a week, but yesterday they removed the ventilator. She is on the mend, but being that sick and in the hospital is not the ideal way to spend one’s 70th birthday, which is tomorrow.

So why do I love Grandma D? There are lots of reasons, but I will just tell you a few.

-She is a wonderful grandmother to my children. Prince Charming’s mom passed away when Chic was 4 months old. My mother was already in her decline when I met Prince Charming. My daughters had never had a real grandmother in their life until Grandma D came along. (They had also not had much grandfather activity because Prince Charming’s dad lived far away and lived in bereavement after his wife’s death until he passed away two years ago, and my father was consumed with taking care of my mother, so he was also preoccupied.) Grandma D treats my children as if they are her very own, much-loved, biological grandchildren. I realize biology has nothing to do with it (I have biological family who are horrible), but she shows no partiality between her own grandchildren and my children. She is thoughtful and sends them things and treats them like royalty when we are together.

-She treats me like a daughter. I do not call her “Mom,” nor will I likely ever do that. And she is NOT my mom, but she is kind and loving to me.

-She is a jewel to my dad. She truly loves my dad and is a wonderful wife to him. She takes care of him (which he needs) and does it with a smile.

-Although she moved into my dad’s house, she did not turn it upside-down. Nearly 1-1/2 years after their marriage, she is starting to make the house a little more personal, but she is careful about what she does with things. Every time I visit, she tells me it is MY house, and if there is anything I want, to please take it. I don’t even have to take things away. The house is big, and I can store things there until I am ready to take them to my house. But I love the fact that she did not sell everything right away and is respectful of my mother’s things.

-She is also respectful of the relationship I had with my mother. She never knew my mother, but as the “second wife” with a ghost hanging in the background from time-to-time COULD be unpleasant, but she is not.

-Grandma D is a joy to have in our lives. We are grateful for her and the love she brings to our family. We wish you a speedy recovery, Grandma D!

 

Note: Grandma D does not read my blog. Almost no one in my family does, so she will not see this, but I still want to give her honor and credit for who she is. Oh that more people in the world had her kindness and sensibilities.

babychic

You have not seen posting of this frequency from me since summer, and even then, maybe only once. Well, it is not over! Today is Installment Number 2 in a string of family events about which I am planning to post.  The first was here. And Chic was born three days after my mom’s 60th birthday.

This year Chic’s birthday is on Thanksgiving, but as mentioned before, I am in the habit of posting a day early. She had her school “party” yesterday. There was only a half-day of school, so it was perfect for a birthday celebration; it was already festive. Here are the treats Prince Charming and I made. I was supposed to make all of them, but I have been busy, and I was gone Monday night, so he did most of the cupcake decorating. (The cupcakes are “teepees” and the bags have caramel-apple snack mix in them.)

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So Chic will be seven tomorrow, and I cannot let this pass without making a post just about her…

Chic arrived in the world about six months before the family (Prince Charming and Louise) plan. Prince Charming did not know that I had changed the plan, but I knew we would probably be moving very soon after Chic’s arrival if Plan A were kept in place. Most of my life had been spent in southwest  Missouri. Even in the times I did not live there (mostly due to going to school), that was still my home.  People knew me. People loved me. People were DYING for me to have children.  Let us just say that naive Prince Charming thought life was really, really wonderul approximately nine months before Chic was born. But when he found out about her early arrival, he thought life was even more wonderful. (And also that he was pretty stupid.) PC really, REALLY wanted children. I was a bit ambivalent about it. I knew I would love them if I had them, but I also knew I would be fine if I never did. The surprise for him was a good one.

Prince Charming and I tried to keep much about Chic secret–the fact that she was even coming, the fact that she was a “her,” etc. But some of my family did not make that easy. The one thing we kept a secret was her name–which is going to remain a secret to most of you! But I WILL tell you that we had her name picked before she ever came into being, and it is Irish. It is definitely not the strangest Irish name out there to English ears, but almost no one in our world can say it when they see the spelling, or spell it when they hear it pronounced. But the reason to tell you about this name is that Chic was so accommodating about it when she arrived with red hair. Not sort-of red hair, but flame red hair. This was not an enormous surprise because there is red hair in both families, but Prince Charming and I both have dark hair, so it was a nice, little surprise.

Since Chic’s arrival, my life has changed, of course. But it is all good. She is a sparkling jewel in my life, just as her red hair sparkles in the sun. She is sensitive to others, smart (REALLY smart), kind, thoughtful, and all-around good. She has a beautiful smile and is not shy about letting everyone see it. She is full of life and happy. (Most of the time. I see moodiness in her at times, and it makes me fear for the teenage years.) She is responsible. She is fast and strong. She is a little shy, but not self-conscious.

I never expected to have a girl (and I have two). But I really wanted a girl, so when I learned Chic would be coming, I was so excited. I was a little worried about Prince Charming who was the oldest son of the oldest son, etc. But he loves having girls.

People say Chic looks like me in the face. That is harder for me to see because I see us both so much. But she has her dad’s body. I am hoping it will remain feminine as she ages (she is already wondering why her legs are not “skinny” like other girls who have what seem like “bird legs” to an athletically-built family), but her genes have given her the ability to run like lightning without tiring and jump high and far. She is not always the most graceful, but that is improving as she grows.

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Almost everything she does, she does well. But this is also a problem for her. If she tries something once, and does not excel at it, she does not want to continue trying. Unfortunately, this is genetic, too, but Prince Charming and I work very hard with her to make her understand that not every single thing in life is easy the first time we try. So far in her life, this is the biggest challenge we face with her. (Check back with me in 6 or 7 years, and I am sure that will seem like nothing!)

Some of the reasons she is extra special to me are:

-She is happy almost all of the time.

-She has red hair!

-She is diligent and responsible.

-She is thoughtful and kind. (Most of the time! She’s only seven tomorrow!)

-She learns easily.

-She is helpful, both to her family and others she sees anywhere.

-She has an open and generous heart.

-She is full of life.

Happy Birthday, Chic! You are getting a big party this year! (Thanksgiving.)

Mom & Me, 1986

Mom & Me, 1986

My mom’s 67th birthday would have been tomorrow. But tomorrow is My World “Tuesday.” And since I post for the memes I do a day ahead (for me), I thought I would just honor her birthday a day ahead as well.

When my mom was 63, her caretaker decided to throw a big birthday party for her which included people writing things about their memories of her. I lived far away, but I made a scrapbook page to send. 200811-23motherdautherscrapbookpagecropped

The top picture is from 1986. (I was 21; My mom was 45.) My mom and I are wearing sweaters I knitted. It was my first big knitting project, and I wanted to make one for her to match mine. My mom was always too hot, so I modified the pattern to make a vest. (I was impressed with myself.)

The bottom picture is when Chic is about 5 months old. It is Mother’s  Day. My mother was in her 5th year of downward decline at this point. She no longer spoke, but she understood everything. She loved Chic. She would hold her for hours (and Chic would let her). My parents babysat one day a week for the first nine months of Chic’s life when we lived near them.

The bottom picture is covering an envelope. Inside an envelope is a list of things I remembered about my mother. There are so many more, but this covers a lot of highlights:

Things I remember about you…
-Waking me up every morning until I went away to school (at 15) by saying, “Good Morning Little Girl; Rise and Shine!”
-Your saying every evening, “You can set the table,” as if it were some grand privilege.
-Periodically finding a treat in my room after school.  (My favorites were “Now and Laters.”)
-Trips with just the two of us to Eureka Springs or other small towns around for shopping.
-Damming up creeks.
-Visiting you at work at the nursing home when I was very little.
-The care packages you sent when I was in academy and college.  (Did you know I never shared the things you sent?)
-That you sent me cards at least once a week in academy and college. They were usually funny, and you only signed your name; you rarely wrote a message. Sometimes you would include the baseball standings or a cartoon from the newspaper.
-Days spent in antique stores.
-That you celebrated my 30th birthday for an entire week.
-That when I got home from Iceland you gave me a gift a day for a month to make up for all the time I had been gone.
-You watering your flowers and plants—indoors and out—and keeping them beautiful all the time.
-The whole summer you wouldn’t speak to me because of the phone bill.
-Spinach casserole.
-Poppy Seed Bread and Banana Bread at Christmas.
-Cranberry tea when guests came to our house for holiday dinners.
-The Peugeot.
-The Minivans.
-The summer I turned 18, I came home from academy to find you had enrolled me in a nurses’ aide course and expected me to find a job in a nursing home for the summer. (Which I did for two summers.)
-How you never gave endless lectures on my behavior and choices that did not please you, but I still knew your expectations and when I was not living up to them.
-Always going somewhere with you to take care of elderly people.
-That you would never let me have long hair when I was little.
-Your lack of interest in cooking and other things domestic. Yet when I wanted to learn to sew, you helped me make a simple dress.
-Your “watch thing.”  I remember being in New York with Daddy where we bought the amethyst one for you.
-Alf.
-Your sense of humor and mischievousness.