Family Tradition

I grew up in a family full of tradition, rich tradition that had been passed from generation to generation.  Some of those traditions I still carry on with my own children, but there are some traditions that we have stumbled on all by ourselves.  One of my favorite traditions happened by accident, and at the time, not even by ‘happy accident’!  It all started on an important evening when I reeeeeeeally needed a babysitter…

When my husband married me 7 years ago he also gained what he affectionately refers to as his “Sparkle Girls”.  There’s a whole ‘nuther story to go along with the name, and I will tell it sometime for sure, but the point is, he was pretty in love with all three of us on the day he and I got married.  That husband of mine is a true gem, and without a doubt the man of my dreams!  My husband’s Sparkle Girls were 6 and 7 on the day he became their Daddy.   During our wedding ceremony, the four of us lit a common unity candle, symbolizing that we were all becoming one family.  Since the day they met, both of the Sparkle Girls and Daddy have foreged their own unique and significant relationship with one another.  It has been really beautiful to watch tenderness, respect, and love blossom between father and daughter over the last 7 years.

So, back on that important evening when the babysitter bailed and I longed to go out to a fancy, romantic, child free restaurant with my wonderful husband and celebrate our first anniversary, I was not very happy that our Sparkle Girls would be tagging along.  I wanted it to be just the two of us, but instead a family tradition was born.

This year we celebrated our 7th anniversary, commemorating it as we have for every anniversary meal since that first one, out together, celebrating the anniversary of our family’s birth.  Since that first anniversary we have added a son to our family and as we gathered around the steak house dining table, I delighted in the presence of my husband and our 3 children as we shared celebratory meal honoring not only our marriage, but the bond of family it represents as well.  Not to worry, we have had and continue to have our time for celebrating our marriage all alone as a couple!  This year we will celebrate by taking a trip to Italy and Switzerland this summer, all alone, but for now, this is one family tradition we cherish.

What are some of the family traditions that you share with your family?  I would love to hear about them!  Please come out of the internet shadows and share them in the comment section!  Just click on the word “comment” below and follow the prompts.  Thanks!

Our Family in 2003

Our Family in 2010

A Tale Of 2 U2 Tix

There once was a pathetic U2 fan

Who begged and begged her real life man

To satisfy her musical expectations

And take her once more to magnificent U2 elevations

Oh how she wanted 2 U2 tix

She begged and begged  so, so much

That he could never deny her such

At least she was being honest

She had, in fact, become a “Bonist”

And he bought her 2 U2 tix

Convincingly so

Her love for Bono

That two friends also

Just had to go

And they also bought 2 U2 tix

But alas the calendar was not kind

Her friend had temporarily lost her mind

And when the Irish Rock Band plans to take the stage

She and her family wrote something else on the page!

So she would not be using the 2 U2 tix

Sadly she told me she would have to forfeit

Could not even try to somehow morph it.

Even though she wanted to see

A nonsensical crazy fan just like me!

Also using 2 U2 tix

Now what to do?

2 U2 tix, but who?

Who would be using the 2 U2 tix?

The hunt was on for the perfect pair

They will have to be fun and willing to dare

To go to a concert featuring The Edge

And not sit in their seats content to veg

If they want to use the 2 U2 tix

I do not care if they find my fascination curious

But please do not just stand there and be furious

Anyone normal would watch with curiosity

A fan that participates with such voracity!

Should they choose to use the 2 U2 tix!

I think the spectacle will give them proof

I do appreciate this music of my youth!

Who would be able to tolerate me so high strung?

Why of course!  Someone who knew me when I was young!

That is who should use the 2 U2 tix!

Wow!  Been 20 years since we were teenagers

Hanging around at youth group all nighters!

The last time I saw her I was a teenybopper

On the radio they probably still played Cyndi Lauper!

She will be perfect to take the 2 U2 tix

Someone who will tolerate my U2 adulation

And also understands my wild perspiration

Her company will be by far the best

I hope she still likes me after I have been a U2 pest!

So glad to have found this taker for the 2 U2 tix!

This Guy Not That Guy

I get teased a fair amount about my love for all things U2.  Some have even pushed the line a little bit and suggested I have a mad celebrity crush on Bono.  I laugh.  I laugh because I am blissfully married to the man of my dreams!  I love him more and more every day.  We have a love story that is unrivaled and over 20 years after our first meeting he still makes me weak in the knees.  I am so incredibly in LOVE with this man!  and will be until my dying day.  He is and forever will be the only one for me.

In a couple weeks we will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary!  So many jokes about the seven year itch, but not here.  I am hopelessly in love with this man!

Yeah, I know it’s an old picture, but isn’t he just an all out 80’s masterpiece!  He is F.I.N.E. fine, in my book!  Funny how about the time I was falling head over heals IN LOVE with this guy, I was listening to this guy…

Now, at the time, this guywas not being mistaken for this guy

And this guy with this car

was not being mistaken for this guy with this car

They may look a little alike

But something isn’t quite right

Yes, I know that’s not Bono!  It’s U2’s Adam Clayton, silly!

But then a funny thing happened last year.  I posted this picture of this man on my facebook page.

and people, people that knew him “back in the day” thought the man in this picture was actually, this man…

I mean, I could see some similarities,

They are both quite dramatic sometimes, both talented musicians, both handsome.

But, I was a total goner the first time I laid eyes on this man…

I can’t take my eyes off of him!

This man could never be enough.

Because I have this man and he is everything to me.

As he has been.  For a very, very long time.

And my heart has found it’s home.

As for the photos, obviously I have not taken all of these.  They come from a collection a U2 geek like me has amassed on her computer hard drive.  I would be happy to credit the photographers who deserve the credit!  Photo of my husband and saxophone, courtesy of Karl Hutchinson.  Also sorry some are so small!  I’ll work on that! 🙂

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Great (with child) Expectations

Today was Mother’s Day!  I had a great day with my family and was treated like a princess.  We spent a pretty perfect day shopping at an art fair and completed the afternoon with waffle cones before dinner (because hey, I’m not cooking!).  I got to snuggle up on the couch with my 4 favorite people and watch a movie before we went out for dinner.  When we got home my little boy, who is quickly outgrowing my lap, melted me by asking me to rock him before bed, something I have always LOVED, and I capped off the evening looking at scrapbooks of my perfect little newborns. Tonight I especially loved looking at the pictures of pregnant me becoming a mother, because after all, when a child is born, so is a new mother.

These are some of my favorite pictures….

This one was taken at my first ever baby shower.  I was expecting my first born, I had learned the day before would be a daughter.  I had no idea how much her little tiny presence was going to change my life.  Nothing could prepare me for  how a 6 lb. 8 oz. itty-bitty person would consume me, and I would allow it willingly!  Upon my first gaze of her, I would feel like I had just laid my eyes on the most beautiful creation ever made, and this most exquisite creation was entrusted to my care.  I guess I love the innocence in this picture.

My first born was also the first of her generation to be born in our family.  The first grandchild, the first niece.  Our family was giddy with excitement for her arrival.  My body was no longer my own.  Something I was a little bashful about.  I was shy about my pregnant form, but I began to see that when people reached toward my growing abdomen, they were reaching out to my child.  They were already loving her.  I think this picture really captured those sentiments in me and in my sweet sister in law who was so very excited to become an aunt.

The second time around I was more comfortable in my own pregnant skin and very excited to be adding another daughter to my family.  I so much more confident in my abilities as a mother, but inside I wondered in secret, “Will I love another one as much I love the first one?  How can my heart possibly grow big enough to love another child with the depth that I have loved my first born?”  It took less than a milli-second and all of those fears faded away.  This little bundle of baby girl, all wrinkled, and rolley, with a layer of dark downey hair, looked up at me and drew me in with her slate colored eyes and quivering lips.  How could it be possible that there was yet another delicious little baby creature lying in my arms?  I had won the baby lottery.  Twice!

Maybe I should have been more worried about having enough energy!  Maybe I should have been more worried about the fact that they would only be 17 months apart and I would have 2 in diapers!  It’s hard to remember that there was a day when I was worried about not having enough love, and not worried about being exhausted!  I remember that when I look at these pictures and inside I laugh at myself.

Being pregnant with my son was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I had been ‘on the pink aisle’ for 9 years!  I didn’t even know where the ‘blue aisle’ was!  It was a whole new world for me.  Again, silly me, I wondered, “Will I love a boy like I love my girls?”  and yet I was again struck with awe in the miracle of it all.  I was carrying the child I never thought I would have!   Pregnancy was harder this time, but I knew the sacrifices would be worth it.  I wore my ever expanding waist-line with pride and joyful anticipation!

And boy did my waist line expand!!!  This picture was taken the night before my son arrived and one month before my due date!  I love the way my husband is adoring my belly, his unborn son.  And for the third time, I was blessed with the most perfect of all babies.  How could it be?  3 perfect babies?   It’s not because the babies were perfect, although I have to gush, they absolutely were, it’s because it’s true, as my mom used to tell me, a mother’s heart knows no end. I love this picture because I am full of life and of love that has no end.  ….and because that belly is enormous!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Best Part of My Birthday

I added another year to my age this week!  I don’t mind birthdays.  They are a sign of life and a marker that reminds me that the good Lord has blessed me with another years worth of days.  I also like the way my little family celebrates birthdays.  I thought I’d share with you about my favorite part.

The written words…

Somewhere along the line we decided that everyone gets to choose, for the birthday honoree, their own individual card.  This is the selection for me from my dream man and the kids for this year.  I especially love how each of my children take such care to write in the cards to add their own personal touch.  They even write messages on the envelopes!

This one is from my little guy…

I melt when I see the little pre school handwritings of my little ones.  You know, when you’re in the middle of those years when they are little and need you so much for every little thing… “Can you tie my shoes?”  “I want a snaaaaack!”  “There’s thunder, can I sleep in your room?”  and no trip to Target ever goes with out the inevitable question, “Can we visit the Toys Section?”  Wow, those years are challenging!  Not enough sleep, not enough time for yourself, everything you wear has the fingerings of slobbery graham crackers before you ever leave the house, and you’ve seen your precious little boy use your skirt as a napkin!   It feels like a time in your life when it will never be over and they will never grow up.  It feels like you will never again see the words, “Dry Clean Only” in the tag of a sweater and consider it a viable wardrobe choice.  It feels like you will never again be able to have an adult conversation with your husband where you don’t end up squaking, “What!?” like a jungle bird, at your sweet little blue eyed girl who has just interrupted for the 342 bajillionth time!  It feels like you will never be able to walk through a parking lot without experiencing the feeling of your arm being nearly ripped from the socket as your wiggly boy hop, skips, and jumps along, all while you grip his gooey little hand.  And every day you wonder, “Will the Family Room rug always be covered by all these toys?”

An then one day, they give you a give you a card, and the preschool writing has been replaced.  That little blue eyed interrupter has done it again! Interrupted the fantasy you have in your mind that she’s a little girl and she will never grow up and she will never not be your little baby girl.

Oh, she’ll tell you she’s your ‘Baby girl,” but that’s just to be cute and endearing.  She know’s all your soft spots.  And you melt.

And then she tells you how ‘prodigous’ you are …  And you can’t help but smile because she’s so stinkin’ cute.  And she’s becoming so stunningly beautiful that you know if you dare leave the table, the busy-boy at the restaurant is going to try and get her number…

And your other little blue eyed girl tells you she is finally beginning to understand who you are…

And that someday she wants to be the best mom in the world, too…  And you can’t help but see how wise she’s becoming.  She’s actually noticing all the effort you’ve put into raising her and she appreciates it!  And you can see that the next 4 years are going to go by so fast… and your little chrysalis is, very soon, going to open up.  And you imagine the amazing butterfly she will be.   What amazing butterflies that they all will be!

And you melt.

The written words are the best part.

And in case you were wondering, yes, my husband gave me one too.  He really is the man of my dreams!

Where the Time Went!

Hello!  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything of significance around here.  Sorry I’ve been away so long!  I’ve been thinking about that word ‘Busy’ and how so often I use it as a blanket excuse for not keeping up with the people who are important to me.  How many times I’ve answered the inquiry of a friend with the words, “I’ve been so busy!”  only to not really be able to come up with a single real ‘thing’ that has truly occupied my time!  So this morning I took a minute to refresh my memory and put together a little (ok, so it’s not that little…) scrapbook of where the time went.  Take a trip back to mid February with me!  We’ll pick up with just after my middle girl’s 13th birthday and Valentine’s Day and end with last night.

Swim meet season in February…

Our middle child is a swimmer.

Choir Concert!  This is our oldest.  Isn’t she cute?!

Our middle child is in this choir…

Chamber Choir.  The oldest is in this one.  Did I mention that between all 3 kids they are in 5 choirs?

Sole…  Yeah, I’m workin’ on it!

I repainted the Family Room and hung new shelves with some of my favorite candid pictures… This is the green wall…  the rest of the walls in the family room and kitchen were also repainted as well.  They are boring beige…  and I added a new valance in the kitchen.  In February.  That my dear husband just noticed.  On Friday.  3 days ago.

First Day of Spring in Iowa…  Snow!  I wanted to cry…  Instead my son and I started some seedlings of SUNflowers and Basil…

Have I mentioned that my kids get a lot of homework?  They are great students *thankfully* so I don’t have to nag them to do it, but it never seems to end!  This is Randy with our younger girl.  She loves school!  Her friends are there…

Anxiously awaiting the sprout of a seedling.  He loves, I mean LOVES, ‘making flowers’ and anything involving a garden!

The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa came for a Spring visit.  I haven’t seen him in a beard like this since around 1981!  I told our little guy that Grandpa is really Santa Claus and for just a minute I saw “the look”.  You know the one, when you know they believe you, and then the moment was gone.  That’s ok.  I know he believed me for a second and I got “the look” of pure,  innocent, suspension of all reality.

The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa and I re-stained the deck.  Mission Brown from Cabot, for inquiring minds who want to know.

We took a day trip to Springfield, Illinois while The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa was in town, because that just the kind of thing we do.   We’re road trippers.  It’s a big world out there, get out there and see some of it!  Anyway, Springfield, Illinois is where President Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Museum and Library, and Residence while he was a Lawyer and Senator are located.  It was a beautiful day!

Father and son.  I’m a blessed lady!

Our awesome teenage girls!

Our crew + The World’s BEST Dad and Grandpa!  We’re standing in front of the house where Lincoln lived.

A boy, a stick and a fence.  Isn’t that what you’d want to do?

And now, let’s check in with the spouts…

Looking Great!

Track Season Begins!  First up:  100 meeter dash!

My AWESOME and HANDSOME Husband’s Birthday!  Lame-O me 😦 … This is the only picture from the party!

Oooops!  Almost forgot Easter Sunday!  This was our crew all dressed up!

Who are these young women and why do they keep calling me mommy?  I can’t believe how fast my little girls are becoming young women!  They are beautiful inside and out!

Shaggy Boy is shaggy because he had a run in with the stairway hand rail and has a nice gash under that mop of hair and we have now taken our first trip (with him) to the Emergency Room.

Preschooler Picking Pinecones at the Park…  Precious.

Time to give these plants a new pot!   By the way, what is wrong with my hand?  Frightening!  I’ll try not to scare you like that again!

This kid LOVES planting!  And playin’ outside!  We’ve had a BEAUTIFUL Spring, minus that one unruly day, and can’t get enough of the back yard!

I love how much this girl loves her baby brother… makes my heart melt!

More track meets!

Discus…

Friends…

and Shot!

Our oldest was in the Junior High Talent Show!  She sang, The Bare Necessities,” as Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book. She did a fantastic job!

My boys in a big box… er… spaceship…

Does it get anymore fun that this?

Hmmm… a leftie?  Maybe.

Or maybe not.  I wish he’d decide!

I just love that smile!

and finally… we went to a birthday party yesterday and this is what the boy came home with!

Well, the balloon helmet and a boat load of candy!

Still with me?  Thanks!  I hope you enjoyed catching up with me!  I hope you’ll catch me up too!  And I promise, I won’t leave you hanging so long next time!

She’ll Wear Blue

Entering the auditorium for freshman orientation, the screen at the front of the room reads, “Welcome Class of 2014!”   The year is a little piece of trivia that I had stuffed away in the back of my mind years ago when I finally decided what year she was going to start Kindergarten and haven’t thought a lot of it since.  My first born has an autumn birthday so it was up for debate, but in the end I decided to keep her home for a bonus year and it has proven to be an excellent decision.  Making that decision seems like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at the same time.  How is that possible?  I feel the knot of emotion tighten in my throat and steady myself.  I don’t want to be ‘that mom’ and it would be so easy to ‘get all emotional’ right now.

As we find our seats in the auditorium of the high school, I have that surreal feeling like I am living someone else’s life, because this one, I am certain, could not be mine, given my daughter is still, after all, just a little girl.  Isn’t she?  Yeah, I know…  not really.

Truthfully, over the years I have not given a lot of thought about the day she will graduate from high school.  She has always been fairly ‘easy’.  Nothing has ever really thrown me for a loop with her.  It’s just been an assumption that some day these high school days too would come.  Now, as I listen to the guidance counselor begin his ‘This is how much high school has changed since you were in it you old parents’ spiel, those thoughts of the next four years, those mysterious school years that, like ‘Kindergarten’, are given special names and not just a number, have my heart beating just a little bit faster!  Not because I don’t think she is prepared or capable, on the contrary, I’m proud to say she is a far better student than I was in every way!  No, it is because this man giving his shtick keeps talking about how fast it will go.

I find myself thinking back to when I graduated from high school.  One of my favorite photos of that night is of my father and me.  We are standing together in the stadium, he in his navy blue sport coat and tie, a proud smile and misty eyes, and me, wearing my emerald green graduation robe and mortar board hat, my entire face beaming and in my hands a bag of confetti.  The moment seems like yesterday and then I am pulled back to reality.  The guidance counselor scrolls through his Power Point presentation and the photo in my mind transforms.  This time the picture is still of me, but now I’m the one grinning with pride and misty eyed, and the beaming graduate is now my lovely girl… and thanks to the image on the screen a new piece to the unknown puzzle comes in to view.  She’ll wear blue.

Class of 1990, my how time flies!

My Dream, Our Blessing

We were walking across a bridge in a city I was unfamiliar with.  The structure was dove gray and made of granite, low to the water, and had several graceful arches spanning between the supports that plunged into the water below.  The series of arches were just beneath the roadway they supported, as if the roadway were supported by a series of rainbows anchored by water.  A rail in the same material and color of sturdy, neatly lined balusters marched along the top.  Ornate, black vintage lampposts stood at equal distance apart on the sidewalk lined street and led in each direction to the most distinguishing characteristic of the bridge; the four enormous statues that marked each corner to the entrance.  The boldly elevated statues were of powerful depictions of godlike warriors on horseback, the strength and authority they invoked only punctuated by their rich gold color.

On the grassy banks of the river below, weeping limbs of pink flower studded trees dipped their branches into a peaceful river like the fingers of a curious child.  The reflection of the spring sun shone upon the water like a mirror.  A powdery blue sky with strands of silky clouds hung overhead.

Despite the serene surroundings, up on the bridge, the street was teeming with traffic.  Cars traveling at high speed were weaving in and out of slower moving vehicles with hardly enough space to spare the paint on their bumpers.   Honking horns, revving engines, the vibrations of speed were all around me.  It was frightening and thrilling at the same time.

In the distance I see them behind me, a dark haired younger man, dressed casually in light colored khaki pants and a white shirt, with an older, silver haired man in a dark, stately business suit and black overcoat.  Their features and mannerisms were so similar it was instantly clear to me, even from afar, that they were father and son.   Coming closer to me, I could see their identities; it was Randy walking with his father.   They were deep in conversation and I could tell by their matching furrowed brows that there was deep concern and grief between them.

I waved to greet them and as I turned away from them waved again, motioning for Randy to come and join me on the sidewalk.  He did not come.

He stayed behind with his father and I could feel his hesitation to join me.  I continued to walk forward unconcerned.  The men who in appearance seemed to be the characterization of spring and winter, continued to labor in their conversation, it became clear Randy was looking for the blessing of his father.  They were now close enough that I could hear them talking if I listened through the street noise.

“You should go with her.”  His father said to him.  There was authority in his voice, but Randy continued to hold back.

“Are you sure?”  Randy said.  Was he contemplating the timing?  Was he concerned about remaining available to his widowed mother?  Only one year after 9/11, his father’s death was still so raw and the family was still understandably wrought with grief.

As I contemplated these things, his father spoke again.

“Go on!” he said with a full deep billowing voice, “She’s a handful!  But, you can handle it!”  He was almost chuckling and with a big smile he motioned for his son to run toward me, and this time Randy did just that.

When Randy reached my side he took my hand and together we ran headlong toward the other side of the street.  Without worry of any danger or harm we ran through busy hectic lanes of traffic as if we were untouchable by any of the unruly motorists that threatened our safety and safely made it to the other side of the street.  Adrenaline pumping and out of breath, we threw our arms around each other and kissed and laughed.  Stealing a backward glance to where he and his father had been, Randy noticed he was no longer with us on the bridge.

Somewhere around then, I woke up and rolled over grasping for the phone on the nightstand so that I could call my beloved before the dream faded in my sleepy memory.   “I have to tell you about this dream I just had…” I said with sheepish excitement, and I knew everything would be ok.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

After telling Randy about my dream he reminded me about how his father was born and raised in Arlington and the bridges I described in my dream sounded like the bridges in Washington DC, a place I had only been to once on a short trip with my High School marching band at least 15 years prior.  Later when I visited Washington DC, I was amazed to see a bridge that was nearly identical to the one in my dream.   The Memorial Bridge (in the photos below) spans the Potomac River and links Arlington, Virginia to Washington DC and is within minutes of the Pentagon where Randy’s dad was killed as a passenger on board American Airlines flight 77 in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

A view of Memorial Bridge in Washington DC

Memorial Bridge view from the banks of the Potomac River

I also thought it was very cute that when Randy relayed this story to his mother, her remark was, “She must be honest, if she’d tell you he said that!” 🙂

Rock On Hubby!

So- last night my husband did a really sweet thing… He knows that I’ve been trying to publicize my blog a little bit more, so he linked it with his website.  Under the links tab, listed with musicians, composers, thinkers and writers who are true legitimate contributors to their respective crafts and individuals that I respect very much there now resides a link to little ole’ me.   And, I should also point out, that he did this without my ever mentioning he should do it!  Pretty impressive, huh?  Him, not me… Yes, I did marry the best man I have ever met, and I am extremely proud to be his wife!

So, I thought now would be a good time to repay the sweet favor with some shameless publicity and repost an old, but not terribly outdated, entry from my Facebook notes along with some other information on his recent recordings and a link to his website- because after all, MY HUSBAND ROCKS!  I love you, Randy!

The following is a review of my husband’s latest CD release. It was reviewed by Julian Cowley of, “The Wire,” a British music publication. I am BURSTING WITH PRIDE!!! Rock on Hubby!!!

The Wire- Julian Cowley

The passage between

One of the most significant classical saxophone discs for years.

Despite his training, this composer-player is free of that tight assed “French Classical sax” sound that still hampers new writing for the instrument. This music could also convincingly appear under an Improv rubric. It has fire and teeth. The latter gnash on Carnivore, a roaring thing for sax and electronics. Christian Lauba’s Neuf Etudes for various saxophones has become a contemporary test piece, negotiated with utter confidence. Three Reflections on Eternity is for bari sax and interactive computer, made with collaborator Jonathon Kirk, It’s similar in profile to the opening piece, but Hall’s huge sound on the big horn eddies about impressively in the playback. The mood softens with the title piece, inspired by two paintings of doors and punctuated by Hall’s son’s pre-natal heartbeat and early vocalizations. And then, there’s the unexpectedly tough beauty of Quelue chose que mon pere a tunu a ses mains, inspired by a rough note found several years after his father’s death. The music is neither defensive, pretentious, its quiet progress full of unexpected hard edges. One of the most significant classical saxophone discs for years.

Chris Campbell

Operations Manager

innova recordings

innova.mu

651.251.2820

ccampbell@composersforum.org

Recordings by Randall Hall:

neither proud nor ashamed

The passage between

pendulum

Check his music out at http://www.randallhall.net/, and on youtube and itunes!

Saying Goodbye

As I made my way past the crowded waiting room, I hoped that I was first to catch the door when the privacy curtain receded.  I had enlisted my husband in my plan.  He would guard the door while I was inside, so that I could steal time alone with her.  Getting time alone with everybody’s favorite patient was challenging, there were always people visiting!  As much as I was thankful for their tangible support, I was growing weary of their constant presence.  I wanted some of those precious and few moments for myself and I didn’t want to have to shoo someone away so that I could get it.

Precious and few.  Those words rang in my head with the urgency of the obnoxious beep a 4 am alarm clock, all too early, and imploring my immediate attention, even in my disoriented state.  There was no way of knowing how long we had with her, but we all must have sensed the critical timing because the visitors were always there.  They came to her bedside in steady stream, like the flow unconscious thought, one blending seamlessly into the next.  Unaware of when they arrived, where they would be on their way to, how long they planned to stay, many with the stunned blank faces of grief.   Friends from church and from her neighborhood, friends who shared her hobbies, friends from work, friends who were like family and friends who were also family.  On the way home from work, after church, before heading to the store, just because they were in the neighborhood… each one stopping for “just a minute.”

I understood why they came.  They were drawn to her light.  They were drawn to her strength and peace.  They were drawn to her hopeful anticipation of heaven.

So many visitors came to see her while she was sick that she was rarely alone.  I was happy that so many people were expressing their love and support of her and the rest of our family, but I would be lying if said I loved having them around all the time.  The truth is, I needed some time alone with her, some time to say our goodbyes, because when all of this was over, all of the visitors would go home to their mother, daughter, son, husband or wife and I would not.  Even though I had my own family, as a daughter, I would be going it alone.  As the clock marched on at merciless pace, I grew anxious. These were my precious and few.

The door opened and as I stepped into her room my husband assumed his post on the other side.  I drew a deep breath.  My mind was full of questions that I had come to attempt to answer.  How do I tell my mother I love her in a way that will satisfy my soul when she is gone?  How do I thank her “from the bottom of my heart?”  How do I say goodbye?

Inside her room it was finally quiet, nothing to distract us, nothing to intrude.

“Hi Mama,” I said, “Hope you don’t mind, I’m stealin’ some alone time.”  She smiled at me with tired eyes, and looking so small and fragile in her hospital bed, as she raised it to a sitting position.  It somehow seemed inappropriate when she spoke with such care for me.

“Sure, honey.  How are you getting along with all of this?” she asked.  “Are you doing all right?  Randy? The kids?  I know this has got to be such a hard time for you…”  Her voice softened with emotion.

With a plan, I pulled a chair away from the side of the bed.

I asked, “Mama, do you think you’d be able to sit up for a little bit, or if you need to you can lie down?”

“I’m fine sitting just like this,” she replied.  “What are we doin’?”

As she patiently waited for my reply, I took the pink basin from her bedside table and walked to the sink in silence.  Standing at the sink, I filled the little pink basin with warm water and I looked at her reflection in the mirror as she lay in the bed behind me.  The woman in the bed, though battle damaged with IV’s, catheters, and bags, was still my beautiful mother.  Her head on the pillow, still capped with wonderfully thick short brown hair, her eyes still blue as sapphires.  A smile was wide on her face and brimming with hope, and I wondered how she sustained it.  Even in her weary body, she sat with poise, straight, with the same beautiful broad shoulders of a swimmer and her hands folded in her lap.   A plush pale blue robe draped over her shoulders and one delicately shaped ankle and stockinged foot extended from under the crisp hospital bed sheet providing her famous “vent” to keep her from getting “bed hot.”  A trait I have also inherited.  With my now full basin of water and a towel, I rejoined her sitting next to her on the bed.  The spicy sweet fragrance that came from her, the mother of my childhood, was the smell of her perfume Youth Dew.  All the essential elements of “her” were still there.

“Vicki,” she said, “are you going to wash my feet?”  How did she know?  It seemed the only fitting way to express the love and gratitude I felt for her presence in my life.

“Yes, if that’s all right with you.” I said in a near whisper, and she bowed her head to say yes.  She moved both of her feet from under the sheet and I slid off her socks.

On my knees before her I began.   The litany of praise for her as my mother, mentor and friend poured from my heart and out my mouth.

The litany of thankfulness for the sacrifices she made to be a stay at home mom instead of putting a career first, to go without a something for her self so that I could have anything from braces to a prom dress.  For all the times she would have liked to spend a week away with my Dad and instead sent me on a school or youth group trip.  I thanked her for sending me to college and seeing to it that I lived in the dorms even though I could have lived at home.  The water and the cloth were now a channel of respect and admiration.

The litany of humility and gratitude for her forgiveness even when I was too stubborn to ask for it, for the times I didn’t respect her as my mother or even as someone who had traveled the road before me, when I was insensitive and selfish.  Even for the time that an 18 year old me I told her I wasn’t going to waste my life staying home with my kids like she did, the cleansing and warm restorative water carried the pain between us away and was replaced with a river of peace.

The litany of praise for the wonderful example she was to me as a mother and grandmother, the beautiful example of what a good marriage can be like, the way she strove to live with Christ as her example.  All gifts that cannot be given without intention and vision, and I wanted her to know, with my basin beside me, that I was aware of that.  I wanted her to know that I admired her authentic faith and her extravagant love.  With my water I wanted to honor her and I knew she understood.

It was a gift to be able to, in my own way, get to say goodbye to her in that sacred moment  that day, even though she was still with us for more than a month.   Watching Cancer scavenge the life out of her physical body was excruciating, but more bearable knowing that nothing between us was left undone.  When the night came for us to sing to her heaven’s lullaby, as she stepped to the other side, I knew that there was nothing left incomplete, nothing that had not been washed clean.