Sunday, June 07, 2015

Stress Relief or Seeing the Results of Hard Work

My mother was a master gardener and I think I understand her obsession. We do so much work without seeing any positive results but that is not true about the garden, as our before and after will attest. The Emerson quote that people don't really think belongs to Emerson says it best: To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

I'll go with the healthy child and the garden patch for now.

Yes, quite a messy hillside, but it had potential. My husband had the vision and now it looks like this:

Switch-back trails, flagstone walk, weeded, barked, our place of refuge and peace. I think we'll keep gardening.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

En Gedi

This has been a very trying school year. It's not students; they're great. It's not teachers; they're gifted. It's time. We have spent nearly every weekend tied into school stuff. That means no relaxation, no getting away and doing things that give us perspective and rest.

This weekend we left the rat race and hid in a log cabin near Mount Rainier. Actually, my man was supposed to work all weekend at a Spring Fair that really does nothing for the high school, but because he's part of the administrative team, he's expected to be there. Not only was this his birthday weekend, but it was also and will forevermore be, the anniversary of my mother's death. I did not want to be in town. I needed to leave, to do something that would get the image of her sitting on her kitchen floor out of my head. When the man told me about the SF and that we probably couldn't get away, tears welled up and I just had to leave his office. I told him I'd be fine; I'd get over it. But I would not have been fine. He immediately started working toward our weekend away and made it happen. We went to a friend's log cabin, circa 1910 or so, and read and read and read. We hiked some, cooked very little (I precooked everything and the cabin has a micro!), and slept - early to bed, late to rise. It was amazing!

Today is Sunday and missing church is a big deal for the man. So we didn't; we watched a DVD from Ray Vanderlan on Living Water - En Gedi. It just so happens that the cabin is right next to a lively creek; it was a perfect comparison to what we were experiencing. We know we can't stay at En Gedi - oh how I wish we could - but this last weekend, four days, three nights, - was beyond refreshing. It was so perfect. I am so grateful!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The First Easter

It's Easter weekend and I miss my mother. Today is Saturday, the day I always take her to lunch, work at her house or in her yard, listen to her stories or concern for family members. It's been almost a year since mother walked in her kitchen and just suddenly died. We found her, sitting on the floor, the food-scrap container still under her arm. I should be buying a plant to put in her yard, but instead I'll put flowers on a grave that she should be in but is not. She's still on my brother's fireplace mantle. I'm calling him later today. It's time. She gave us instructions; we need to follow them.

As I think of her, in heaven, with a lot of family members including my dad, I know that it is my loss I suffer not hers. She lived and died exactly as she wished. Wow she was strong and stubborn!That combination of Scots and Scandinavian made for a very strong-willed woman.

Happy Easter Mother! I know you are rejoicing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

That Sunday...

Like thousands of other Washingtonians, we spent a recent Sunday afternoon watching football, American football not soccer. It was the craziest game and the Seahawks won, making us happy and the cheeseheads quite sad. Most in our house had given up on the Hawks, but my granddaughter was certain they would win, even though as she predicted, they were the 0 in the 16-0 score at half-time. She was calm and unwavering, a true believer. And she was right!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Back at it...

Summer is LONG gone; we are back at work. This is the autumn of my discontent. I am finally mourning the loss of my mother. It has taken a while because mourning requires time, something that was in short supply when she died and even shorter supply the first few months after her death. I've shed my tears and done everything I think one should do to begin to recover, but I still feel a tremendous sense of loss. Maybe it's because of our Saturday lunches. Every Saturday, lunch out and then projects at Mother's. She preferred to do things on her own, but in these last few years, she acquiesced to my pleas to render some small service when possible. Maybe it was the nightly phone calls... like the one when she didn't answer, and didn't call back, for the first time, ever. I don't know; I just know that day by day, the missing her is very real. I rest in the knowledge that I did everything I possibly could to both help and care for her. I regret only one thing, but it's a big one. I am so sorry I wasn't there when she died. I wish, oh how I wish, I had been there to hold her hand, to pray, to tell her it was okay, she could go because she was ready; she had lived so well. I am so grateful for her, so proud to be her daughter. So... back to work. Maybe that will help, maybe not.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Wonderful Summer!

It has been sunny (only one day of rain) and quite warm for the Pacific Northwest - at least the 80s daily. The best part of our summer was mid-June - July when our French kids and their kids came to stay. What a blast! Being a grandparent is wonderful! Saying good-bye was horrific, knowing it might be another two years before we have the chance to reconnect. I'm hoping not. I "plan" to start saving $$ for a summer 2015 voyage to France.

That aside, it's August. School starts in three weeks... well, kind of. The staff meetings and open house and all of that starts in three weeks. School starts the Wednesday after Labor Day around here. I'm so glad because summer in the PNW is July, August, September! This week I was reminded why we teach. A month ago, one of our alums contacted me through Facebook and asked if we could get together. To me that means they should come over for dinner and a nice long chat. That happened, Tuesday night... five our our former students showed up at our door (I had planned for four but the fifth heard about it and just came - love that) and we had a wonderful dinner together. As we sat out in the back, surrounded by the beautiful yard and great food (I am a good cook!), we listened to their stories of the first year of university. One of ours was at SPU during the shooting last Spring. She shared and we cried, incredible stuff. All had roommate stories, significant other stories, concerns for the future, and one brought a recommendation form for a scholarship. LOL! Love our kids! As frustrated as we get with some of the stupidity that happens around us, we know that impacting kids to be world changers is why we are in education. They will change the world. They are extraordinary!

And now... we're going camping one last time before school starts. It's unlikely that we'll be able to get away again before September. We could probably do something over Labor Day, but joining that stream of traffic just doesn't seem relaxing. This camping trip is again out to the property of an acquaintance, located on the Cowlitz River, dry camping. There's something about no electricity or water that calls us back to nature. Don't get me wrong. We have big batteries and a water tank so we won't do without, but we will use it sparingly since it is in limited supply. The most exciting thing about this trip is that our local kids are camping about 40 minutes away and the oldest granddaughter has decided that she wants to be baptized, so grandpa and I will join them Saturday afternoon and T will baptize his oldest grandchild. My heart is so full that it's leaking out my eyes at this moment. Whatever we do, may we be faithful so that those who come after us will also know the reality of a loving God in their lives.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Not-So-Merry Month of May... and more

I never expected the month of May to drain me completely dry, but it did. The first weekend I was in charge of logistics for the memorial service for our former music teacher. Mr. S. had a brain tumor and died of a pulmonary embolism. The memorial was on our school campus. The service was held in one building with seating for 500 and the luncheon in the other with tables and chairs for 100. Running between the two buildings in my high-heeled boots made my feet and legs hurt so much. The day started around 9 o'clock in the morning and we got home about 6 that evening. We were so tired. It took a lot of planning and work, but it was a wonderful event.

The next weekend was Prom. Fortunately the junior class president knew exactly what she wanted for this event so all I had to do was print stuff, pack stuff, and show up as the ticket taker and election board for the King and Queen of Prom. It was a fun night, but again, late and tiring. But the worst was yet to come.

On Friday May 16th, we celebrated my husband's birthday. Our older son and his family came over for dinner and we enjoyed a wonderful evening. I usually call my mother every evening. As I sat down in my recliner, so tired, I thought about not calling. I was almost too tired to talk. The phone was on the table next to me or I swear I would not have called. It rang and went to voice message, and I left a cheerful message, saying I would call again in 30 minutes. It was 8:30 PM. After a beautiful day, it was still sunny outside so I figured she was watering her lawn. I called at 9, no answer. Now I was concerned. I called my brothers to see if by chance she was with one of them and such was not the case. My brother who lived closest said he would go over. The house was locked up tight, so he broke a window next to a side door and let himself inside. He found mother sitting on her kitchen floor, long gone from this world. As far as we could calculate, she died suddenly of a blood clot or aneurysm sometime around 10 in the morning. I was/am devastated. It was so sudden; she had not been dealing with any particular issues other than being 85, almost 86 years old. Looking back, she was prepared. She had told me several things over the past couple of months about what I was to do should anything happen to her. I did exactly what she asked me to do. In addition, I planned the memorial for her for the following Wednesday. I wrote the obits, chose the scripture and hymns, wrote the eulogy, ordered the flowers, contacted the extended family, purchased the food for the after-service gathering, and cleaned out a lot of stuff from her house. She would have been please with what I did. I was exhausted.

The next weekend, Memorial Weekend, my hubby, brothers, and I did a thorough sorting and cleaning at mother's. We found important papers, old photos, our report cards, and such. It was a tough weekend.

The next weekend was the senior trip. Twenty-four of our 36 students and I headed down the Oregon coast to a beautiful beach house for four days and three nights of fun. I cooked every meal. I truly didn't mind; I love cooking for a crowd. Of course that meant I did all the shopping the week before. Once I returned home, I told my husband that I couldn't seem to catch my breath. Such a whirlwind. That was May. June has been just as busy with final exams, new senior culminating seminar meeting, graduation, and our kids arriving next Monday for six weeks. Before they arrive, T will head to TX for his annual check up at MD Anderson, the greatest cancer center in the world. He will miss almost 40 hours with our little ones. Poor guy! We are really anticipating some fun times with our sweet youngest grandkids. We'll have birthday parties, beach trips, camping trips, bike rides... lots of fun. Oh, I'm taking two classes this summer also. Yeah, I'm nuts.

I'm still trying to pull myself together. I finished everything at school and walked out of the classroom with no intention of returning for at least two months. I got through my mother's 86th birthday, cried all day, but survived. I think I will titled this year as the one I survived. It's been grueling!