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Today is both a sad day and a happy day. It is sad because it is the day, 13 years ago that we lost my dad suddenly. Life changed and there is forever an empty hole in our hearts. Tom and I often talk about how we wish he were here, commenting how he would have loved our Vermont house and friends. We often came to Vermont to vacation when I was little and perhaps my dad was responsible for planting the seed that grew into a life that I absolutely love.
His passing was sudden and unexpected. I would give anything to give him one more hug. Those of you that know me, know exactly how much his death affected me, as well as my whole family. I often wonder what he would say if he saw the boys now, practically grown men, but I am sure that he would be very proud to call them his grandsons.
Here are pictures of my dad with each of the little men, in age order. Miss you, love you, Daddy.
Miss you, love you, Daddy.
Somehow, the universe has a way of helping ease the pain. The first little girl in our lives, my niece Emily, was born to my brother and sister-in-law on this day, six years ago. I’d like to think that she’s my dad’s way of sending us his love. Her beautiful big brown eyes are filled with love.
Happy Birthday Miss Emily!
We have a very empty house. My youngest son’s companion of more than twelve years left us very unexpectedly last week. Her departure has left us with a very large hole in our hearts. While she loved each and every one of us, she loved Tim the most, with her entire heart and soul — and he loved her back just exactly the same. Her death is very surreal and difficult for all of us to accept. We keep walking into the house or a room and looking for her. After all, for her whole life and a good chunk of ours, she was around. It took me a long while to decide whether or not to write this post. I didn’t want to share our grief, our very, very personal sadness with the world. I was being selfish, because honestly I didn’t want to have to field all the “I’m sorrys” as heartfelt as they were, because they couldn’t help to make the sadness in our hearts go away. In thinking about it, long and hard, I realized that I was wrong. Jinx was a good dog – no, she was a great dog — and she deserves a proper eulogy. So here goes….
She came into our lives an energetic and adorable black lab puppy. She grew up with Tim and the two of them shared so many good times and so much snuggling and cuddling. He wanted desperately, as a tiny guy to have her be “his dog” and there is absolutely no question that she was. She loved him with every ounce of her being and he gave the same huge amount of love back to him. If there could be such a thing as a “perfect” death, she had it. She died in his arms and his face was the last one she saw. Tom and I swear that she waited for him, although don’t get me wrong, we had no idea that she was going to die. She had been asleep on the couch in my office, as she usually was during a “work day” and he came home early from school because of testing, anxious to share a beautiful day by taking her for a swim which is something she adored. They never made the swim, in fact, they never made it out the door. She collapsed and died just a few minutes later, within minutes of his arrival home. She was a smart dog, she kept us on schedule for dinner (6 p.m. was the time she decided dinner should be served) and she was always quick to let us know what she wanted and what she didn’t. If she was being pesky and we thought she had to go out, she was quick to back up and lay down when we tried to open the door and let her out telling us we had gotten it wrong. She had Tom and I on a schedule, our lunch was always the time for her snack. She would patiently wait for us to finish eating and then “urge” us to get up and give her a well deserved (in her opinion of course) snack. She loved cucumber almost as much as meat and you couldn’t break out anything crunchy without her coming running from across the house to share it with you. If we left her outside too long, she would come and stand at the window in the living room, staring at us, until we let her back inside. I’m sure that if she could figure out how to open the door herself, she would have done that as well. She enjoyed trips to the transfer station or any outing in the car and she loved being boarded at Wundrland, she would go crazy, whining and crying, when we mentioned the name. She loved all of us but would go absolutely crazy when Tim got home from a trip, especially last summer when he was gone for weeks at a time. She was my work buddy and lived for “let’s go to work” where she would promptly follow me into my office and take her place on the couch while I worked. She loved keeping the chipmunks that live around the house on the their toes and would run after the squeaking noise the second she heard it. She loved, loved, loved frisbee and swimming with Tim as well as anytime that she was able to snuggle up with him. She was very special to us and can never be replaced. In addition to the obvious, one of the things that always strikes me about death, is the words that will cease to be spoken. I remember when my dad died since that day, no one has every referred to me as “baby” or “my little girl”. Those words died along with my dad, never to be spoken again. Similarly, there are words that will never be uttered again in this house “jinxy dawg”,”let’s go to work”, “back up the truck” or “beep, beep, beep” when she used to try to go backwards around the coffee table. I hope that with these words and pictures, I have done her justice. We gave her a good home and she gave us a lifetime of love. What more can either of us ask for? Rest in peace, puppy dog — you deserve it.
I am always interested in seeing people’s Christmas trees. The decorations on the tree, the color scheme all say something about the tree’s owners. The trees can be small ‘Charlie Brown’ trees or gigantic, towering trees decked out with Christmas balls, tinsel and garland. Our tree usually doesn’t have shiny christmas ball ornaments on it, although we have done that in years past. Rather, it is usually decorated with white twinkle lights (LED lights don’t give off the same effect in my opinion) and ornaments. No tinsel, no garland. Each ornament tells its own story. There is the Santa and Mrs. Claus bisque dolls ornaments that were given to us from Tom’s parents, passed down through the grands and the greats of that family. There is the single clear blue ball ornament with a single strand of tinsel inside of it that belongs to my husband, passed down also through his family. The boys each have a glass angel in the color of their birthstones. There are the first ornaments that Tom and I bought and received from others for our first Christmas together and the ornaments that commemorate the birth of each of the boys. Each ornament tells a story and the owner of the ornament is one that places it on the tree each year. We have the plethora of elementary school ornaments that each of the boys made growing up and the ornaments that we bought from various places we’ve visited during the years. Each year, I get the boys a personalized ornament to commemorate something special that occurred during the year for them – something they will be able to take with them as they start their own families and traditions in the years to come.
Here are some of our ornaments and decorations.
Merry Christmas. While I’ve yet to get my “Christmas” picture, these will have to do. Here are some pictures from our day today.
TJ made good use of the ladder to the loft for stacking presents.
The village under the tree….
The view of the mountains this morning from the porch….. with it’s temperature of 2 degrees.
Stockings hung by the woodstove…..
It appeared to be a Christmas of hats… this one I knitted for Tim …..
Love this kid…..
And this one…..
And this one too…… so good to have them all under one roof again….
Tom doing his elf gig…..
Anyone who has had a child knows “the bag” the one that sits, at the ready, for days or even weeks waiting for the “big event.” The one that contained symbols of the new roles that husband and wife would be taking on — the first outfit, the knitted hat, the snuggly blanket, as well as all the mom stuff that the new mother would need while she was being overwhelmed by those first hours of motherhood.
Here’s that bag for me.
It’s a great bag that my sister bought for me for the baby shower. It not only still exists but it has taken many journeys with our expanding family over the years. Somehow, it seemed appropriate that the bag that brought everything to the hospital when he was born should be the bag that went with us when we delivered TJ to the next big phase of his life. And so, “the bag” accompanied us to Burlington — a symbol of what had been and what was yet to be.
We were off, truck packed and the five of us enjoying a ride through the mountains to TJ’s new home for the school year. It didn’t take long for us to get him unpacked and for him to turn the contents of those boxes, foot lockers and duffle bags into his new digs. By the time we returned with lunch in hand and perishables for his new fridge, he had transformed the stark space into a very comfy spot, very “TJ”.
Everyone says that saying goodbye and leaving your child at college is hard, but the goodbyes weren’t very different from goodbyes when we’ve dropped the boys off elsewhere. Hugs and small talk. Last minute thoughts, a heartfelt “I love you”. Despite the admonitions from everyone including the parking attendants “Mom, no crying!” when we first pulled in, there were no tears. I am very proud of TJ and all that he has accomplished. He deserved to enjoy that day without a blubbering mom in the background or the foreground and I delivered. What was difficult is the coming home to TJ not being here. When we pulled into the driveway, my thought was “oh TJ’s home” when I saw his truck sitting there…only to realize that “no, he wasn’t home, that’s just his truck”. So, the long and short of it, is while TJ got the “no tear” send-off from his mom, the rest of the family hasn’t been so lucky since we’ve been home.
I’m mopey, I admit it. No one but another mom understands that it’s hard to share your life and for the better part of a year, share your very body with another person occupying the same space without feeling sad that things will never be the same. Will things be different? Yes. Will things be better? Maybe. Will you be proud of your child and their accomplishments? Absolutely.
But your family will never be the same configuration and chemistry and you will never be the same person as you were when you got in the car for that ride to college. We all know it’s coming. It might as well be printed on that bag that accompanies you to the hospital for the birth. It’s implicit in the very definition of parenting. The process of promoting and supporting the physical,emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. From the second we are “officially” parents at the birth, it is a process of independence, of teaching another human being to be self-sufficient and in so doing, tearing yourself away from that person that you have created.
Leaving TJ at the door to his dorm, there was not a cell in my body that wasn’t happy for him and confident that Tom and I had done the best job we could in the preceding 18+ years in preparing him for this next journey. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t swelling with pride at the young man he has become. At the same time however, there are just as many cells yearning to freeze time and protect the familiar part of my life. In the days that follow “drop off” there will be adjustment…contrary to the “how to” books, it won’t be so much for the college student as for the college student’s mom.
Summer is going by fast, especially now that we have actually had some summer type days. Vacation is fast approaching which I am looking forward to enjoying with my guys. It is hard to believe as I look at the calendar that, a month from yesterday, TJ will be off to a new adventure in his life. We will be moving him into his home away from home for the majority of the next year. While I know that it isn’t all that far away, it’s far enough to realize that he won’t be a part of our everyday lives in the same way ever again. (Okay, here go the mom tears). I will definitely miss that. Having had one less kid in the house for the majority of the summer with Tim spending most of his time in other countries this summer, it is definitely odd not having the same chemistry in the house. It will be odd not having all three boys around all (or mostly) all of the time.
Miss my dad everyday since he left us, but especially on Father’s Day.
He would be very proud of his grandsons and I know that they would have loved spending time with him.
Warmest wishes to all the dads celebrating today, especially the man that has helped me through the craziness of parenthood and helps me everyday to raise three wonderful young men -
today and always, I love you.
May those that love us, love us
And those that don’t love us
May God turn their hearts
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts
May He turn their ankles
Nanny Smith celebrating her 90th birthday.
Often, we don’t really get it until much, much later. Usually when it’s too late. Each generation tries to instill in the next what they have learned to listen, watch, learn, absorb it all before it’s gone–but sadly most times that falls on deaf ears. St. Patrick’s Day always brings to mind my father’s mother, my Nanny. She had a long life, many friends to the end and a very loving family. I have fond memories of Irish music playing on her hi-fi stereo when we kids attended one of the many shindigs she held at her house before she moved into the senior citizen center. There was barely a gathering that Nanny was chasing someone around with the fork, usually my dad, my uncle (her sons) or her nephew. All in good fun, gatherings at her house, were characterized by lots of music, lots of laughing, food and drink. My grandmother made an awesome lamb but we all were sure to steer clear of her meatballs (which resembled golf balls).
Here are some pictures from her 90th birthday party –she threw it for herself mind you, planned the whole thing which she held in the recreation room at the senior citizen center where she lived. The party of course was only after the mass she had said by one of her favorite priests where she sat in a chair in the aisle and took it all in. I told you the woman had spunk. Looking back, I realize that she would be very proud of her great-grandsons. The youngest, she would be especially proud of, he is traveling to Ireland this summer to take a class there and I am sure that if she were still alive, she would be filling his ears with everything and everyone that she could think of to see and do while he was there.
TJ, delivering Nanny a bouquet of birthday flowers.
Nanny and some of her great-grandkids checking out the birthday cake.
My brother and my cousin posing for a picture with her.
One of the newest great-grandkids, Tyler having some “Nanny” time.
And no Irish celebration (or funeral) would be complete without the bagpipes.
Hanging in Nanny’s kitchen for all those years was a plaque that had an Irish blessing. There were a few of them around her house. Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day and I am thinking of her, here’s a wish to all of you ~ May your home always be too small to hold all your friends ~ Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
We were given the gift of snow over the Christmas holiday. First with a white Christmas and then with about two feet of snow in total. It allowed for lots of playing in the snow by all and some beautiful scenery for those who prefer to view their snow from the warmth of the wood stove. We had the opportunity to visit with some family (my sister and her family were not feeling well so we didn’t get to see them). We had my dear friend from college and her family come to stay with us and we celebrated two birthdays — my mom’s birthday and my friend Ellen’s son Tom’s birthday.
We had our annual New Year’s Eve party where lots of dear friends and family gathered to celebrate the beginning of another year. Lots of fun was had by all. I know that we had a good time hosting and enjoyed the time with everyone.
My brother made a couple trays of antipasto for the party. We haven’t had antipasto in the T’s house since my dad passed away. It was “his” thing and well it just didn’t seem right having it without him. After 11 years, I finally have come to terms with that and the “tradition” has returned. Bill put together one very nice looking antipasto — Daddy would have been proud! Here are the shots as it was being created.
Warmest wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May you and your families be blessed with good things.
Today is the the day…the big eating day. I am very blessed to share it with my family. I am thankful for:
- a husband who loves me and can always, always make me smile.
- boys who are growing into wonderful young men and who make me very proud.
- our health which no one should take for granted.
- the ability to cook a meal for those who will share it with us today.
- family and friends– both near and far, they are a source of strength, laughs and love.
As you celebrate today, remember to be thankful, not just today but always.
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” — Henri Frederic Amiel
So yesterday there was no post because I was very lucky to have lunch with my mom. I don’t get to see her quite often enough, so it was a real treat. Reminded me how much I have to be thankful for, because there are a lot of people that aren’t so lucky.
Continuing on with trying to remember how fortunate we are in this week of turkey craziness……
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy
Be nice to someone today.
This has been a couple of crazy weeks. I never imagined that I would spend my birthday looking like I got the crap kicked out of me, but that is what happened. I must say however that if there was any doubt in my mind (which there wasn’t) about how great my family and friends are, this wiped it all away.
Tom took care of me like I was a little china doll. He was my rock and helped to nurse my wounds and me back to some state of health. Over my objections he canceled a business trip to make sure that he was here with me and I must say looking back from the opposite end of that week, that I am very glad that he did. The boys have been extra concerned and anxious to help out however they can and inject some humor into the whole situation. (Really? a hat and glasses? Are you trying to be incognito?)
My family has checked in with me regularly and I love them for their support and concern. I know that if I needed any of the them they would be there, the same with some of my close friends from back home. My friends here have called, stopped by and offered all sorts of help (which thanks to my dear hubby, we really didn’t need) and I know that if I asked, any or all of them, they would also be there.
I have to say that I am one lucky woman. First, to have not killed or maimed myself and second for all the great love and support that I have in my life. As I embark on the last year of this decade, it was celebrated with my men and I around the cutest, tiniest ice cream cake, beautiful flowers and a lovely necklace along with visits and gifts from some of my closest friends here. I do have to say that a couple of the brightest spots in my day were a hand drawn get well card that arrived in the mail from my niece Emily and flowers and another hand drawn card from my fellow birthday girl, little Miss Kate, left on my doorstep — two of the littlest women in my life.
With a heart full of love and gratitude I say thank you, thank you, thank you. You’ve made me feel extra loved.
To the best friend in my whole wide world — thank you for keeping me safe, sane and making me feel beautiful no matter how I looked on the outside — I love you.