Could you just…

…wait for Grandma? How about a cheese?

…get your finger out of the cake and say cheese?

(for Cee’s On The Hunt for Joy challenge: say cheese. Grateful, as always, for family.)

Grateful for Openings

“I bought a turkey roll and frozen stuffing,” Ric announced after a recent grocery shop.

I might have raised an eyebrow.

“Thought we could have it on Christmas day.”

“We’re going to visit Mom on Christmas day,” I reminded him. “At the nursing home.”

As a blended family, Ric and I surrendered Christmas day a long time ago. As long as Ric’s Mom was alive, we’d pick her up and spend the day at a casino, usually ending up with a tuna sandwich in the restaurant. After she passed, Ric and I went alone. Then we started going south, avoiding the day altogether. But when Ric gets something in his head….

So turkey went into the oven as we headed out the door for the forty-minute drive.

What are you doing for dinner? A text from my younger sister.

Ric’s cooking here if you want to come.

They never come. My family of origin doesn’t do holidays anymore. It’s just the way it is.

We’d love to come if it’s not too much work.

We visited Mom, and our eldest daughter showed up with two of our granddaughters. We exchanged gifts and ate goodies, and then moved on to visit my older sister – also in the nursing home. More gifts passed hands.

I texted D as we headed home. Fog had set in. She was worried about it.

Back at home, Ric busied himself with prepping the rest of the meal, and I rested. At five, the doorbell rang. There was my younger sister and her husband bearing gifts.

I can’t remember a Christmas dinner tasting so good. Maybe it was the conversation, or just the sheer joy of sharing it with family.

It’s never too late, I realize, to start new traditions.

Tonight my heart is filled with gratitude, and I am hopeful.

(Thursdays are currently dedicated to gratitude. Image from personal collection.)

Pausing to Revel

Remnants of wrapping paper peek out from under the sofa. Leftover goodies tempt from the countertop. In the aftermath of our family gathering, I pause to enjoy the peace, processing the sweetness of the day.

So many precious moments:

“Grandma, can we have another present?” Three-year-old August, so enthralled with the magic of the day.

“Mom, this soup is the best yet!” So heartwarming to be able to cook for loved ones and witness their enjoyment.

“Who wants to help Grandma?” Three eager faces gathering around.

My heart is full and I am exhausted.

This is the advantage of this stage of life: the ability to imbibe in the pause.

(Thursdays I write about the things that fill me with gratitude. My challenge this week is “pause“. Image from personal collection.)

Paradoxical

Fear and intimidation formed the basis of his power. To this day I tremble, afraid I’ve misstepped – parked the car wrong, forgot to close the door properly, or spoken out of turn. My father was a hand grenade with the pin perpetually pulled.

He was also motivational, citing the works of Carnegie, Peale, Gibran, and even Rumi. His brilliance was a light for me to follow, although I never understand the paradox between this worldly man and the ticking time bomb.

He spoke of love with tears in his eyes, as if he recognized his own failing, as if love was something he didn’t deserve. In his final years, realizing the error of his ways, he cried often.

I didn’t know how to react. The man had broken me in so many ways – broken all around him. I could not just forgive and forget.

Love is paradoxical – its’ contours seldom defined by expectations.

Am I grateful that I had the father I did? Absolutely. I recognize that in his wake I am challenged, but also given the resources to overcome. Many times I wanted to walk away, and yet, I didn’t, sensing that there was more to be uncovered in this dance of love and hate.

Father has been gone for more than a decade. I still wrestle with the paradox.

( Reena’s Exploration this week is paradox. Images are from personal collection. Maple trees and snapdragons remind me of my father.)

Blessings Plus a Year

Sunflowers and chocolates kick off my birthday week. Delivered by daughter and her family made it all the more special. I share my birthday month with now seven-year-old Sloane and our youngest, so July is filled with blessings.

We are adjusting to the role reversals here – I now drive Ric to appointments, and do the waiting. Lots of time to think. Lots of time to count the “thank goodnesses”.

Thank goodness we were home when this happened. Ric had planned on driving down, by himself, to Arizona to sell the RV, but that was thwarted by paperwork.

Thank goodness he didn’t ignore the signs and wait until things were much worse. “Prevention,” the doctor told us, “saves a lot of damage.” We are waiting on further instructions, but the test results indicate he will need some sort of medical intervention to clear blocked arteries.

Thank goodness I had been practicing driving, so I already had the confidence built up – not to mention that Ric is a patient and gentle passenger.

Today I feel the blessing of being watched over and protected.

Life is good.

(Images from personal collection.)