Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

I’m sitting in the Alaska Airlines lounge at the Seattle airport, watching the planes land and take off. We have a couple hours to wait until our connecting flight to San Francisco, where we’ll spend the night before getting on a ship and heading to Hawaii. 4 days uninterrupted by email, voice mail or phone calls. Just the ocean, good friends, books and fun.

It’s a grey morning in Seattle, but isn’t it usually? The sun seems to be trying to fight its way through the clouds, so it may end up being a sunny day. The view outside reflects how I feel inside today.

5 years ago today was the worst day of my life. It was the day I walked into the garage and found Tim, lifeless with a gunshot wound to the head. My world shattered that day. It has taken a tremendous effort to rebuild it. There are those who try to destroy that peace. And there are those who help me preserve it. Most days, it’s a small ache in the back of my heart. It’s seeing his picture and smiling, because I remember the joy he brought to my life. Sometimes it’s a curse and a thrown rock in the woods because I still don’t understand why he did it. Some days it feels like it happened a very long time ago, and some days it feels like it happened yesterday. Time is funny like that.

In the last 5 years, I’ve found that the best way to move through this day, is to keep busy. Traveling is the absolute best. Being with my husband Bill, who helped me want to stay in this world, makes me want to fight those grey clouds away. I will let the grey sit for a little while yet, but then the sunshine of love, friends, travel and adventure will fight it’s way through.

As my son told me this morning, “watch out for pirates Mom…arrhhhh”, and I heard Tim laugh.

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October 2, 1995 wBaby Jay with Bubble Bloweras a very different day than October 2, 2013 is.  At the beginning of the day, I didn’t know your name, I didn’t even know if you were a boy or a girl.  I was anxious, and scared, and excited to see the child who had been nestled close to my heart for the past nine months.  Of course you made your entrance in your own way, Despite weeks of trying to get you into the “proper” position, you preferred to approach the world standing up, not laying down.  And so you greeted the world face forward, head held high, and ready to take on the world.  It should have given me a clue to the man you are becoming.

This morning, instead of simply opening your bedroom door and telling you it was time to get up, I stood next to the bed for a few minutes and just watched you, as I used to do when you were first born.  Now,  as I did then, I marvel that I had any part in creating you.  I would gently twist a light brown curl around my finger, stare at the long lashes nestled against plump cheeks, I would smooth the blanket out over tiny legs.  You somehow always seemed to wrap them around you, and I was afraid you couldn’t move (you still do that).  I would wonder what would be in store for you in this life, what things would you like, would you like to read or would you hate books?  Would you be outgoing or shy?  Would you be a writer, an artist, a construction worker, a businessman, a truck driver, an actor, a lawyer?  I didn’t really care, my wish for my boys has always been that they are happy at what ever work they choose.  But I did wonder.

Unlike those mornings 18 years ago, I know a great deal more about you now.  As i watched you this morning, I didn’t see chubby cheeks and plump arms.  I saw a face that is thinner, with more chiseled features.  You are no longer my cuddly little boy.  You are long, lean and muscled.  You haven’t even reached your full growth yet, but you are more than half a foot taller than I am.  You still have brown hair, slightly darker, slightly less curly.  Your lashes are still impossibly long and brush your cheeks when you sleep.  Just as your face has become more chiseled, so has your personality.  You are smart, smarter than almost everyone you know.  You love books, and science.  You are competitive, but more with yourself than with others.  You always want to do better.  You are funny, in a dry way.  You have a caring heart, and don’t tolerate injustice.  You love to debate.  You are athletic.  You are a better fencer than you think you are.  You can be stubborn, and inflexible at times.  You are messy.  You enjoy reading classics from Shakespeare, philosophers such as Nietzsche, Plato and Dante.  You like stories about knights and dragons, hobbits and magicians.  You are as good in English as you are in Science.  You don’t care for Dickens.  You are not afraid to take on a challenge, you face the world head on, face forward, feet on the ground.

As when you were a baby, today I still want to protect you from all that could harm you.  My heart wants to swaddle you back up in your favorite blankie, make everything soft and easy for you.  But my head says that you need to face challenges, go through heartache, strive and push so that you become the best man you can be.   My soul sees so much in you today that tells me how absolutely awesome you will be as a man.

On your 18th birthday, I have a wish for you.  It is not a wish for just health, wealth and happiness.  It is a wish that you have a life in which you give yourself permission to try, and permission to fail.  That you give yourself the gift of patience.  That you continue to value knowledge for knowledge’s sake.  That you dream big.  And most of all my wish for you today is the same as it was 18 years ago.  That you are a kind, caring man who makes good decisions.  For if you are that, you will have a life that is well lived.  Continue to face the world as you did on the day you were born – head up, face forward and your feet on the ground.

All my love –  MomAviary Photo_130196235117704375

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A Milestone

Giggles and shrieks, a cloud of perfume, hugs all around.   A statuesque beauty sheathed in peach lace, a classic lass in a column of black, an impish Greek goddess in cream, a curly vision in purple.  Four young women totter on four inch heels, trying not to fall off.  With makeup carefully applied, hair curled and braided, pinned up with a flower, they move joyfully toward the night.

Fist bumps and smiles, a nervous laugh or two.  An intricately tied tie, light  green against a dark gray pinstripe suit, curls under control.  Black tuxedo highlighted by a white tie, another with a baby blue bow tie.   Shoes shined to a gloss.  Three dark-haired young men prepare to take on the role of gentleman of honor.   A young love, a budding romance, a friendly escort for two. Tonight they will shine, tonight they will glow. Tonight they will dance.  Tonight is a milestone. Tonight is Prom.

Although there is a chill in the air it is with good-hearted cheer they pose and smile for us in the late afternoon sunshine as we capture this moment in time.  Picture after picture our shutters memorialize their youth and beauty.  Mothers look at mothers, both pride and sadness in our faces.  Fathers watch the boys, arms folded in warning. They are all so beautiful.  The girls slim and, even in this day and age, surprisingly innocent.  With the bodies of women they are still children, just learning the power that they have.  The boys stand tall and straight.  At 16 and 17 they are but shadows of the men they will become.  If you squint, and then close your eyes, you can see them in the future.  You can see their shoulders broaden, their legs grown even longer. As one places a protective arm around his girl you can see him protecting others.  You can see the kind gentle man  another will become as he insists that his one month old little sister be in the pictures too.

To them, tonight is a night of enchantment.  It’s a night at the ball, with a limousine as their magic carriage.  As a parent, as a mother, I see tonight as a right passage.  It’s a night that means we are on the downhill side of being a daily influence in our children’s lives.  Where once I couldn’t imagine a time when my son wouldn’t need me, I now realize that there will be a day in the not too distant future where I will be extraneous in his life.  Someday another woman will take precedence in his world.  But not now, not quite yet.

For now, for tonight, I can put that thought away, and enjoy the sight of seven beautiful young people.  With joy I watch their laughter and high spirits.  With one last admonishment to “be smart”  and a quick hug, I leave them to their evening.  It is, after all, their milestone.

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We all know that certain smells and fragrances can affect us. They can put us in a good mood, or turn our stomachs.  The putrid smell of a rotting fish on the shoreline can wrinkle your nose and turn your stomach.    The fragrance of the wildflowers that line the drive into the cabin after a rainstorm, light, clean and fresh can lift your spirits.  I was reminded recently of how smells are also tied to our memories.  Just the hint of something familiar can take us back to another time, another place.  I have a handkerchief that belonged to my grandmother that still carries the faint aroma of her custom blended perfume.  When I take the little box out of my dresser drawer and open it, the scent takes me back to sitting with her on the 3 seasons porch, watching her “show” as she did her nails.  The smell of cedar mixed with pine can put me back on a mountain in Colorado, hiking with a friend under a clear fall sky.  Johnson’s baby shampoo will remind me of my boys, not tall and grown, but babies. How they felt snuggled in my arms, warm and drowsy, fresh from their baths. A couple of weeks ago I was doing some historical research.  There is a small museum up north that I thought might have some information that I needed.  They didn’t, but what they did have was a log bunk house used by the lumberjacks in the logging camps that covered Northern Wisconsin in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  I walked in and was immediately hit with the smell, followed by a flood of memories.

Log cabins, old log cabins, have a distinctive aroma. They smell of wood and pitch, of old smoke and years of dust.  To me, it is a heart warming, pleasant smell that fills me with happiness.  It brings back summers of the 1960’s, when my family owned a cabin called Ogasogg.  On a small private lake, the cabin was built by a famous artist from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  Along with the main cabin, it had several smaller structures, all made of hand crafted log.  There was the guest cabin, the hunter’s cabin, the studio, and even an outhouse that wasn’t really an outhouse, but a true bathroom.  They were all made of logs cut down on the property.  These weren’t the light-colored, fresh looking logs that are so popular today.  These were dark brown and closely fitted.  The cabin could look dark and scary if you got there late, hulking against the glitter of the lake under a night sky.  Inside, with a light lit, it would feel protective against the night, with all the creatures that scurried around through the forest.  Summers there were always summers of women and children.  Dad worked hard, and summers were the busiest time.  Concrete had to be poured, all work gotten in before winter snows made it impossible.  So he got to spend very little time there.  He would get us settled at the beginning of the summer, Mom, my 2 brothers, my sister and myself, along with a teenage babysitter or two, usually a couple of extra kids, an aunt and some cousins, and there we would stay until he came back to get us at the end of summer.  He would usually come up for a weekend or two in between.  In memory, these summers were magic.  Swimming and fishing, adventures in the woods.  Being left on Potato Chip Island by my teenage uncle and his friend.  Sleeping in the double bunk beds, boys in the top, girls in the bottom, covering our heads so that the errant bat couldn’t get us.  Going into town for a night at the drive in movie and a trip to the fudge shop.  Dinner at the restored lumberjack camp, where you could get fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and the best dinner rolls ever.  The bunk house that was at the museum was the same bunk house that had been at the restored lumberjack camp.  It had the same logging tools displayed, the same carved long canoe.  And the same smell.  The memories were so strong standing there, that I had an overwhelming desire to revisit the old cabin.  I had not been there for many, many years.  Would it be the same, too? I did go back, but that’s a story for another time.  I will say though, that it stilled smelled of wood and smoke, of pitch and old dust, and a hint, just a hint, of suntan lotion, and OFF, and pleasantly dirty children.

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