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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Reflecting on Life

I hardly feel qualified to reflect on my own life; I think that's something one does after age 70 or as they face a health crisis. Today, as a family, we attended the 94th birthday celebration for my husband's grandmother. She is a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandmother and judging by her great big smile and twinkling eyes, she loves each and every one of these titles (as long as they come with a hug).

After the party wound down, the children and I stopped at her house for some one on one chatter. This is my favorite time and she admitted hers too. As fun as a party is, the one on one conversations are the most meaningful. I left with my heart feeling a little larger than it had when I arrived, and I now have some new stories to share as we raise the next generation of our family.

Grandma worked hard, milking cows, cooking, gardening, keeping house, raising a family...and there's some gene that she has that passed down to my husband and father in law as well - they sleep only 4 or 5 hours each night. I really think that's why they accomplish so much - they sleep 1/2 the time I do which leaves them with countless numbers more productive hours in their lifetime. Anyway - grandma is and was a spitfire. She tells it like it is and she is full of passion for life.

I want to share my favorite story with you. A year ago, right before our wedding, my husband and I stopped out for a visit. Grandma was telling us about her neighbor "the little old lady from next door, you know the one?" ....I must tell you that the little old lady next door is actually a decade younger than grandma. The neighbor and grandma had ventured out to the garden to check on things and pick whatever was ripe for picking. The neighbor fell down and couldn't get back up. Instead of heading to the house to call for help, grandma tried to pull the woman up herself. After that didn't work, and they were both stuck - grandma pulled the other woman's walker around in such a way that the two of them could use it to sort of 'climb' up on using their arms. They got themselves upright (still holding onto their home grown goodies) and they headed for the house. Grandma had shared the story to remind us how spry and resourceful she was and we laughed and shook our heads picturing the two white haired ladies in the garden.

As I reflect on life, I hope at 93 years young I am able to help others and help myself. Most of all, I hope I am able to enjoy my family as much as grandma does. She doesn't complain about her failing eyesight, her troubled heart, the sink that broke in the bathroom, or the cost of property taxes. She doesn't fear death and she lives in her own home surrounded by the things that matter most to her. As we discussed in another conversation - it's not the material things that matter...she said 'let them break into my house, they wouldn't want what I've got anyway' meaning she gets by without a flat screen television, computer, or the electronics that are most commonly coveted by thieves. She does however have pictures of the children when they were young, flowers decorating the kitchen table, a shower installed by the boy who once was so shy he clung to her leg and hardly spoke.

Maybe I'm crazy for wanting a large family. In this day and age I probably am ... but you know ... I hope there are 100 people at my 94th birthday party. I hope the children are sweaty and dirty from playing baseball, I hope my cheeks are covered with several dozen shades of lipstick from the kisses of my daughters, daughters in law, grand daughters, and great grand daughters. I don't care how big my house is or what kind of car I drive. I don't care if I have my own knees or some technological breakthrough. What I most look forward to is sharing a lifetime of love and laughter with the people who matter most.

Thank you to my husband and his family for taking us in and making us part of something so amazing. A few years ago it was just me and the children and since I'm an only child I faced the harsh reality that old age likely meant becoming lonely. Now, I am surrounded by so much love that my heart feels like jumping out of my chest. My new family has taught me so many things and as I reflect on my life someday I hope I never forget the lessons learned over chocolate cake and the sound of laughter.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and more memories than your heart can hold!

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