Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Folding Up 2019

I'm spending this New Year's Eve alone. I did get an invitation to Ovid from my sister Priscilla, but the weather looked formidable and my body was tired and achy. Inside I desperately wanted to go, but instead I took two ibuprofen, bought myself a coffee, and headed for home. I could have gone out to Williamson with Hannah and Sergio, she offered, but somehow I felt the need to stay here. My thoughts have vacillated between worry that being alone might make me weepy, and feeling confidently okay with the solitude. Reality has been a little of both, and that's okay.

2019 will be forever remembered as the year I pushed our divorce through. We started mediation with the county in May of 2018, but I honestly didn't have the strength to go through with finality until this past summer. It was something I had to do, not something I wanted.

Ours are issues shrouded in secrecy. I have carried shame on all sides, shame that is not mine to carry, and I have kept secrets too, but my arms are tired... There have been not only boundary crossings, but fences shredded, ... and family members along with them. Abuse is ugly and I am finally drawing the line. Maybe in many ways it's too late, but I still have to do it. It is imperative. And it has been excruciating.

Thankfully, I have a God and Savior who has never left me alone. He has not only preserved my parents' home as a refuge for me, but He gave me a song to drive the point home (Who You Say I Am). He has answered my prayers, lavished affection upon me in the form of little children, and provided for all my needs. My heart aches, but I know He loves me. He loves all of us.

It has been a hard year, but a good year as well. I am finding a new freedom in being me, and I'm learning to love the me I am.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Welcome, Number 13!

He's here! Becoming a grandma is amazing each and every time. Minnesota feels far away tonight...

Welcome to the world, Jonah. I can't wait to meet you.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

And So It Was Christmas

It came. Christmas came. And it was nice.

I attended the Christmas Eve service at my own church this year. My son Joe came along, and my son Ben met us there. After the service my daughter Bethany found us in the church foyer. She had been there too. Had Number Nine not been running a low grade fever after his nap, Hannah and Sergio might have come along. Even the thought of having four of my seven there makes me feel blessed.

Less than two weeks ago I was worried about being alone on Christmas, but God had other plans. He intended this to be the gathering spot today. I thought maybe the house was too small for the entire family, and then I remembered days of childhood when the house was filled to overflowing, and so we filled it up again.

I brought all my Christmas decorations back downstairs and stretched the dining room enough to fit four extra table leaves. The afternoon was spent conversing, playing video games, and eating goodies and appetizers. Toward dinner time Sergio's family came and we shared a meal of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and bread. There were twenty for dinner, although two small boys decided not to eat. We even had leftovers.

After dinner there was pie. If there is pie, it must be eaten... And then, when some of the company had said their goodbyes and headed out the door, the rest of us settled down in the living room to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol; Beth and Josh, Josiah, Ben, Hannah and Sergio, me, and James. And it was nice.

Monday, December 23, 2019

So Yeah...

Quite often I start to write and the effort comes to nothing. The past weekend a persistent headache dogged my days rendering my thoughts jumbled and tired. I even went to sleep in the backseat of my sister's car on our visit to see our brother Tim. Back home I flopped over on the couch and slept some more. The suspected headache inducer? A favorite flavored coffee. I get a headache every time I drink it but it's taken this long, and a suggestion from a friend, to help me realize the throbbing of my head likely has little to do with caffeine, or the lack thereof, and most probably some other random ingredient. Thankfully, the headache has subsided.

On Saturday I was introduced to a short essay called "Welcome to Holland." It was written by a woman trying to help others understand what it is like to raise a child with Down's Syndrome, but the friend who shared with me was sharing for different, but similar purpose. Life doesn't always bring about the result we have planned, but that does not mean we can not find joy in where we find ourselves. I am chewing, chewing, chewing...

An long time friend invited me to a gingerbread house building party on Sunday afternoon. I cheated and took a pre-built kit from Walmart and added my own touches. It was a pleasant afternoon getting reacquainted with her daughter and meeting several new people. I left my house there for her to enjoy and brought home pictures instead.

I went to work late this morning and came home early. This is the way of the daycare during the holidays. The weather is almost balmy. If I had a dog and an orchard nearby, I just might go for a walk.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Snowy Roads and a Late Start

I woke up on time this morning, but somehow left the house later than usual. It was just a few minutes later, but the roads were snow covered and it was still dark. I swept the snow off my already warmed up car, headed out and immediately caught two red lights. About five minutes into my drive I came up behind a CDS Monarch van traveling anywhere between 20 and 30 miles an hour. I prayed it wouldn't turn from Plank Rd onto Salt, but it did. I hoped against the odds that it would turn onto Atlantic Avenue, but it didn't. I was quite relieved when it finally turned onto Penfield Rd. and was going the opposite direction than me.

I made decent time driving down Gananda Parkway, and a good portion of the way down Canandaigua Rd as well, but just before I reached the junction with 31F another very cautious driver blocked my way. I was slightly impatient, but only because I knew I was destined to be late for work, and I hate being late. I realize there are a myriad of reasons for drivers to travel under the speed limit, especially in poor weather conditions. Tires and experience in the snow are just two of them.

I waited, mumbling a little bit under my breath, as I waited for Mr Sporty-Looking Car to cross the intersection. He was so very careful about crossing that I knew the double hill ahead might pose a challenge for him (or her). The brake lights lit up multiple times on the way down the hill and I couldn't help thinking how he was going to need that momentum to climb the hill on the other side... I was not wrong. He was losing speed as he went. "Don't slow down!" I instructed, but he paid me no mind.

Not far from the crest of the hill his tires began to spin and he came to a stop. I had to think fast as I did not have any way to help and did not want to become stuck on the hill myself. I peered into the darkness to his left and prayed no one was coming up the road on the other side, then I drove on past as did at least two people behind me. A short distance down the road I passed a semi headed his direction, flashed a warning with my high beams, and continued on to work. I was seven minutes late.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Little Christmas, Perhaps

Another weekend is coming to an end. Less than two weeks' time remains until Christmas. Today found me more than a bit terrified of the holiday that in the past has meant so much to us as a family. There have been difficult Christmases in the past, but this one was feeling difficult in an entirely new way. Friends have begun to ask what I'm doing, and I had no answer. Who would pick up the reins and host our family Christmas?

In all honesty, I had begun to think all of my kids had plans that simply didn't include me, and then another thought occurred. Maybe they didn't know what to do either. With the farm sold our usual gathering place is non-existent. Bethany hosted Thanksgiving and she is tired and pregnant, two of my boys are single and living in apartments, another is going to his in laws (I assume). Jim lives out of state, and Hannah may be going out of state. (She won't know for another few days.) That leave one other son with a very small dwelling, or James, whose apartment probably can't accommodate the whole family. Perhaps I wasn't being left out at all. Maybe nobody knew what to do... So today, while a friend at church prayed for me to connect with my two single boys, I connected with the whole family instead.

I am formulating a plan, simple plan. Maybe simple foods and a movie, or a puzzle for those so inclined. And those Christmas books I haven't yet wrapped for the grandkids. I don't want any of my family to spend Christmas alone, and I don't want to be alone either.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Dark, frigid mornings result in an overwhelming desire to delay dragging myself out of bed and down to the shower. As much as I love my job, and deem it worthy of every effort, I long for more than long days in a daycare center and busy weekends...

Last night found me at the pottery studio once again. There I found two friends, both glazing their work, and I had come to do the same. I glazed several figures I'd sculpted before Thanksgiving. On the finished glaze shelf was a piece glazed a week ago. I was less than pleased with how the glaze fired and found myself inspired to call it "Disappointment". In reality, disappointment is an understatement. Devastated is more accurate descriptor, though that has nothing to do with the glaze.

Someone who loves me relayed their hope that I would be able to find my "new normal" but I had just endured a weekend of emotional upheaval and the exchange was too much to bear. I couldn't stop the torrent of tears. My heart was broken all over again. If I had only myself to think of the pain might still be unbearable, but I have seven children, five with spouses, and a dozen (and more) grandchildren. How and where do I find a "new" normal when I'm not even sure what normal is?

On the other side of darkness is the light. When I came to live with my daughter and her family in my childhood home, I felt alone and out of place. It's taken two years, a few pieces of heirloom furniture, and some bright autumn colors to lure me out of hiding. I don't spend every evening alone in my attic bedroom anymore, conversation with Sergio comes easier, and the place I've always known as home feels like it again.

I don't know if life will ever feel normal. Then again, perhaps there is an adventure awaiting. Maybe. Well, .... there could be.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

See My Muscles?

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Isn't that what they say?

It was a rough couple of weeks. Run-ins with friends and family, communication gaps, and "normal" everyday stress. Tears were abundant for a stretch of time, angry words spewed forth, and exhaustion ensued, yet through all of this God has never left my side. Not even for a minute. He still has me exactly where He wants me and once I make it to the other side, I actually feel stronger than when I went into the trial. I know there will be more struggles to come, more hard times to endure, and more tears, but I know His hand will still be holding me.

I practiced a bit of "retail therapy" these past couple of weeks... You might think I'm shopping for my grandkids, but I'm not. They have everything they need and I either don't know what they want, or can't afford it. I am taking care of Martha and I only feel a little selfish.

I am running sleep deprived, mostly because I stay up too late at night, but also because I slept so very little one night this past week. I had a phone call to make and the knowledge of that necessity was stressing me out. I didn't toss and turn thinking about that in particular, or even wake up with it consuming my thoughts, but the tightening of my stomach clued me in to the reality. Realizing the problem helped me sleep a bit better from Tuesday into Wednesday, and on Wednesday I placed the call. It was stressful, but not as stressful as I had imagined.

I have decided most weekends are far too short. Ha ha! What am I talking about? I love my job! I just don't want to get out of bed in the morning.

Thursday, December 05, 2019


Wanting to write and finding words to pen are two entirely different things.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

That is That

Saturday I had plans. I was overwhelmed. I changed my plans. I felt bad backing out. I hate cancelling. But I had to do it. :(

My boss sent me a text mid morning. Her boyfriend was advising I get my snow tires put on my car as soon as possible. (I've been carrying them around in my car since the early November snowfall.) I got it done and the icy snow of today didn't keep me home from church this morning or away from a funeral this afternoon. We're expecting m ore snow overnight. I will extra grateful for snow tires on my way to work tomorrow morning, and my boss will be happy I have them too.

Last night I had some visitors. I haven't seen my friend Lori in many, many years. She was in town for the day and was able to make a short stop with her husband last night.What a blessing it is to reconnect with old friends!

The long weekend is over. It's back to work and my little friends tomorrow. What could be better (aside from staying home some more)?