Tagged with "celebration"
17 Apr
2017
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Read Between the Lines

I sat at my aunt’s kitchen table surrounded by various members of my extended family attempting to write my grandpa’s obituary. I started with the bookend dates of his 88 years of life and filled in the years he served in the U.S. Navy and the decades he worked. There’s his wedding and number of children. There are the countless organizations he belonged to giving a glimpse at what he believed was important.

I’m rarely at a loss for words but struggled to write what needed to be shared. I listened to short video clips of my grandpa from the last year while attempting to do justice to a wonderful character of a man as concisely as possible. There were tears and laughter as  I enlisted family members to assist in the task.

An obituary is a straight forward document. I understand the purpose. It’s useful for the funeral home, the pastor and the newspaper. It’s meant to be the highlights of a life well-lived. The finished product is fine. All the parts, pieces and people that need to be mentioned are, but it’s missing so much in between the lines.

I want people to know the quirky bits of my grandpa that lie in between when he was born and when he left us. There are hundreds of unwritten words in those few lines of his obituary.

man standing on a U.S. Naval ship in the 1950s

His service in the Navy on the USS Hector was more than a source of pride for him. His time in the military was a crucial piece of the man I knew. There were always photos lining the walls of his house from the Korean War. The History Channel was forever in the background during a visit.

great grandpa meeting great grandson for the first time

We have countless photos of Grandpa with his numerous great grandchildren, and if there’s a baby in that photo, that man is not looking at the camera. His eyes are glued on the baby. He loved the littlest of us. He loved their toes and the way they smelled. If you wanted to see him smile, bring him a baby.

We’d come to visit with orange slice jellied candies for him to snack on. Budweiser and milkshakes were his drinks of choice. I remember him asking us to toss him dinner rolls or black olives at family gatherings and can still hear my grandma chastise him for egging on the children. Throwing food was not to be encouraged.

grandpa and grand daughter posing

You could find him sitting outside his open garage door watching cars drive by his house. It was his thing and a favorite past time. He helped me numerous times in high school when car keys were helplessly locked in my car. He was a car guy who worked for a Ford dealership in the service department for almost 50 years. I’ll always remember the day my husband and I showed up in our brand new Toyota. That’s possibly the longest conversation my grandpa had with Craig. Grandpa wanted to hear the reasoning behind our vehicle of choice.

He drove a wrecker for a long time when my mom and her siblings were growing up. He helped law enforcement with some awful accidents and helped more people than I’ll ever know. The squawking from a scanner radio alerting the household to what was happening in the county was ever-present in the living room when I was a child, much to my grandma’s chagrin.  He was a helper, truly one of the good guys.

I’ll read obituaries differently now that I’ve written one for someone I love. I know the list of siblings has stories of mischief hidden in the spaces between words. The parent has so much life that could never be crammed into an obituary. There’s the late night talks, the vacations, the parties,the heartbreak and the welcoming of new life. For every person who loved the outdoors there are mornings watching wildlife from a favorite spot outside a cabin. There are the lessons passed on and the sayings that were only uttered by that person. I’ll have a better appreciation for the person being memorialized when I read those words knowing that somewhere, someone placed unwritten love and memories of a life between those lines.


 
40
By     |    Feb 20, 2017
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40

Forty years…that seems like a lot of life and yet not much at all. I won’t shed tears over this milestone. I’ve been celebrating this birthday since last month when we visited California. We spent my birthday weekend snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park. I said goodbye to my 30s and hello to this new decade with multiple adventures. Growing older has taught me to make experiences happen, and I’m abundantly grateful to have another year of living written in... [Read More]

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Gifting Experiences Over Things
By     |    Dec 12, 2016
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Gifting Experiences Over Things

I watched our seven-year-old come on stage to walk-through her part in The Great Russian Nutcracker with big eyes and slightly hesitant steps. The stage was bigger than she’s used to dancing on with movable backdrops and multiple props lining the stage’s wings. Professional dancers from the Moscow Ballet company waited in the wings or on the stage. They were speaking Russian and looked aloof and marginally bored. As I watched our daughter and her fellow snowflakes, I was impressed... [Read More]

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A Birthday and Loss
By     |    May 11, 2016
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A Birthday and Loss

Today our third son celebrates his ninth birthday. I cannot believe he’s already nine, but also feel he’s older than those short nine years. He’s a joy-filled, sports-loving boy who was born at a time when his mama needed him most. Ten years ago I was pregnant for the third time and over-the-moon excited to add to our family. Eleven weeks into the pregnancy I experienced cramping and was placed on bed rest. Two days later the cramping turned to... [Read More]

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Surreal Moments of Mothering
By     |    May 2, 2016
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Surreal Moments of Mothering

Mothering has been a series of surreal moments lately. Last week, I traveled with our oldest and a large group of his 7th grade classmates two hours from our hometown to the University of Wyoming, my alma mater. UW is the only four-year institute in Wyoming. Both Craig and I graduated from there. Much has changed in the decades since we called Laramie and the university home. I was giddy leading up to this field trip. We’ve taken our kids... [Read More]

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Reasons I Love You
By     |    Feb 11, 2016
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Reasons I Love You

This year I’ve implemented a new-to-us idea for our kids leading up to Valentine’s Day. You’ve probably seen the idea of love notes floating around social media. The idea is to write a note with a different thing you love about your child every day from Feb. 1-14. I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’d much rather be surprised by chocolate on a random Wednesday “just because” than on Feb. 14. My husband surprised me with coffee when he arrived... [Read More]

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‘Tis the Season for Ridiculous Expectations
By     |    Dec 24, 2015
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‘Tis the Season for Ridiculous Expectations

  The month of December is full of emotional landmines for me. The pressure I place on myself to make the Christmas season a joyous, memory-filled time is enormous and exhausting. Without family in town, I can feel lonely one day as we move through our traditions. The next day I’m savoring the joy of time spent with the five people who love me best. My emotions are a roller coaster of highs and lows with self-sabotage right around the... [Read More]

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Tips for Gingerbread House Construction
By     |    Dec 17, 2015
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Tips for Gingerbread House Construction

The last time I made a traditional gingerbread house was years ago. Everything was chugging along smoothly until the three boys realized their were only two sides to the roof. The fun was sucked right out of house decorating. The best part of a gingerbread house is the roof for my kids. My job became referee. Heaven helps us if one brother had more design input on the roof than the other brothers. We finished the house, and I vowed... [Read More]

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Come Sit at Our Table
By     |    Dec 1, 2015
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Come Sit at Our Table

I long for invites and unexpected text messages. My heart leaps to know someone has thought of me and asked me to a party, dinner or coffee. Even when I can’t accept an invite, which is more often than not, I like to feel included. I love people but fail to make those outside my day-to-day routine a priority. I work from home, so most days the number of people I see outside my family is close to zero. This... [Read More]

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Halloween Costume Craftiness
By     |    Oct 30, 2015
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Halloween Costume Craftiness

It’s a good thing I’m crafty. I’m not sure what my children would do for Halloween if their parents didn’t enjoy creating costumes. By enjoy, I mean I’m excited at the start of the costume fabricating process, but by week three, I’m ready to send kids off in whatever I have finished. Our kids are notorious for picking costumes you can’t simply go buy at Target. They have specific visions for Halloween, and I relent. This year was no different.... [Read More]

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Relieved about Mothering a Teenager
By     |    Sep 20, 2015
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Relieved about Mothering a Teenager

I woke up this morning the mother of a teenager, and I feel relieved. Yes, time goes too fast. Yes, I cannot believe our oldest is 13 years old. BUT, despite all the times I’ve felt like I failed our son, he’s thrived for 13 years, and I can see the all those lessons we’ve taught him taking hold. Today I’m patting myself on the back and high-fiving Craig. We’ve been parents for 13 years with no instruction manual or... [Read More]

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Our Girl Turns 6
By     |    Sep 15, 2015
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Our Girl Turns 6

When we found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, I knew it was a boy. I thought I was destined to be a mother of men and liked the idea of a house full of boys.  At my 20-week ultrasound appointment, my doctor told us our baby had a hamburger, not a hot dog. We were adding a girl to the family. I left in disbelief. Not because I didn’t want a daughter, I thought we only made... [Read More]

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