Posted in Family, Uncategorized

The Day after Christmas …

It’s the quiet chilly morning after Christmas. It was a wonderful day in our home yesterday, but I did not take one single picture, that is odd for someone who is always trying to capture each moment on film.

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I was too busy to take pictures, busy enjoying the laughter of my family as they opened and watched us open each thoughtfully given gift.

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Too busy listening to the sounds of my children, niece and nephew as they worked so hard to play and sing my favorite Christmas Song ( Night of Silence).

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We shared a delicious dinner, in our warm home, we lit our Advent Candles and my children sang dutifully to make me happy as we lit each candle.

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There was laughter, tears, past memories shared, future dreams discussed and new memories made.
This morning the stockings that were once hung by the chimney with care are scattered about with one single stocking remaining, the stocking for Jesus filled with our letters written over the years wishing Him a Happy Birthday.

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There are no photos to remind me of the joy that filled my home this beautiful Christmas 2017, but my heart is filled with the memory and happiness of the greatest Christmas gift that any person can ever receive, the gift of family, friends, faith, hope and love.   My Christmas wish for us all is that the beauty of this season will continue in our hearts and minds long after the season is over.

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Posted in Family

Missing My Mom

It’s been a year since my mom passed away,  and there are few days that go by that I don’t think of her and wonder if there was more I could have done for her while she was alive, or what I could have done to save her.
My brother Michael called me before her funeral to ask what “mom” stories I could remember, the only thing I could recall at the time was how we had been camping when a tornado hit. Why that was all I could remember is beyond me, perhaps the storm that was raging in my heart after her death clouded my mind from thinking of anything else. I felt awful that I missed my chance to publicly tell my mom thank you for all she had done for me.
So as I remember my mom today I want to thank her for those things that she taught me that will forever be part of my life.
My mom taught me how to type on her old royal typewriter long before the days of computers, she taught me to always say thank you for every gift (even if I hated it) and always write a note of thanks. She showed me the importance of family through her love of her siblings and parents. She taught me to always try to remain cheerful on the outside even when your heart was breaking (a lesson I still struggle with). She taught me how to do my own taxes, how to paint a room and refinish furniture, how to plant a garden, and transplant flowers. She was frugal, yet generous. Distant but loving.
My mom was a good person who was loved by everyone who knew her. She did not lead an easy life, but always maintained a light of grace and dignity even during her darkest times.
I don’t think we can ever understand how deep a mothers love is until we ourselves become parents. The heartbreak, the joy, the worrying and the relief when we find our ways. There were so many things I did not find out about my mom until recently, things that made me respect her and love her even more.
So to all my friends who are fortunate enough to have your moms here on earth, be sure to thank them daily for all those things they taught you, big and small. Life is short and we never know when our loved ones will be called away from this earth, don’t let them go with any regrets of what you could have said or done.
My favorite poem is The Sin of Ommision by Margaret Sangster – 
In it she writes, 
“It isn’t the the thing you do dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.”

Mom I miss you, and I sincerely apologize for all my sins of omission during your time here on earth.

The Sin of Omission
By Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
The Sin of Omission
It isn’t the thing you do, dear;
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts to-night.
The stone you might have lifted
Out of brother’s way,
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle and winsome tone,
That you had no time nor thought for,
With troubles enough of your own.
The little acts of kindness,
So easily out of mind;
Those chances to be angels
Which every one may find
They come in night and silence
Each chill, reproachful wraith
When hope is faint and flagging
And a blight has dropped on faith.
For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great;
To suffer our great compassion
That tarries until too late;
And it’s not the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you the bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

Posted in Family

Goodbye 2016

Like most people I am ready for 2016 to be over. This was the year that took my mom from us at the start of the year, then took my husbands mom at the end of the year.  We also said a very sad goodbye to the Nixon family home on Oak Grove Avenue.

But a lot of great things also happened in 2016, so I will give credit to a year that did try to give a little back.
My family gathered for 3 beautiful weddings, my cousin Monique’s in Vermont, my niece Alaina’s in Iowa and my niece Erin’s in Houston.
My nephew Lance finished his chemo and our family gathered from all over the country to celebrate.

Ani Parish came bounding into our lives bringing fun and joy.
I started 2016 in Florida, spent Valentine’s Day in Daytona Beach, I chased a vortex, drove in the mountains through a snowstorm, took a train trip, saw Mount Rushmore, walked through Sturgis during the motorcycle rally, watched in awe as the sun set behind Devils Tower.   We drank wine in Napa, rode cable cars up and down the hills of San Francisco.  Travelled with my family to New England, saw Nubble Light House and visited Rhode Island for the first time. We did a pub crawl in Portland, and drank beer with my New England cousins Jason, Chris,Lisa and Hilary in San Diego.   Celebrated 30 years of marriage to my best friend. My dear friend Deede came to San Antonio, I was able to visit my friend Andrew in Seattle. I met my cousin John Gordon, spent time with cousins I had not seen in years, got to see my nephew Jason play in Austin on Halloween, and finished the year in Los Angelas.  All while working full time.
Okay 2016, you certainly had your bad moments, but I will give you credit there were some good times.
2017 please be kind, don’t steal our loved ones away, let’s make this a great year, where we cherish our families and friends and hold ourselves to a higher standard of compassion and kindness towards everyone.

Posted in Family

I Love a Good Wedding

I must say, I love weddings nowadays!  When I got married, it was all the same. We walked down the aisle to the wedding march, we had wedding coordinators who were almost militant like who choreographed and counted each movement and step.   There were unity candles, bridesmaids in matching shoes and dresses.   All wonderful and beautiful, but the most personality we interjected was what we wore and the occasional brave bride who would change the music.
But now our brides are swaying down the aisle to popular music that signifies who they are.     Bridesmaids are given a color or idea and are allowed to pick out something they feel compliments their body type and not just the maid of honors’.
And the venues are amazing. My cousin Monique was married in April,  at The Mountain Top Inn, in Vermont. The venue was a beautiful cozy inn that looked like it was pulled from a movie set.  With a string quartet announcing her entrance, she was married outside with the backdrop of the Vermont Green Mountains. Her wedding party consisted of their young nieces and nephews. I have never seen such a devoted group of wedding attendants. The wedding of Catholic bride and Jewish groom was officiated by a Lutheran Minister. At the end of the ceremony, a couple came up and gave us all a beautiful education of the Jewish tradition of the couple breaking a glass to complete the ceremony. It was a cold April day, so guests were provided with hand warmers and blankets to help break the Vermont Mountain chill.
My niece Alaina was married in June at the Whitewater Conservatory in Iowa with the beautiful backdrop of a canyon and lake. They wrote and spoke their own vows that were lovingly written in homemade books crafted by the bride. Guests put their wedding gifts in the back of a classic old pickup. After the wedding, we all went to a barn where we ate BBQ, wedding cake and wedding pie, then danced until we couldn’t breathe. It was summer and the bugs were out, so there was a basket of bug spray that guests were encouraged to use.
Wedding guest gifts are another new tradition. They also seem to mirror the personality of the couple. For my cousins wedding, they gave everyone maple leaf shaped bottles of Vermont syrup. At my nieces wedding, they gave out jars of homemade jam, life is sweet…
The unity candle was always a big tradition. My niece chose a unity cross they put together at the ceremony. I have a friend who went to a wedding where they had a unity plant. The families each brought up a pitcher of water that the couple used to water a plant.
Traditional weddings are nice, but I envy these young couples who are making their wedding a reflection of their personalities.
Traditional or not though I love that there are couples who are still willing to make the ultimate commitment to one another.  In 1 Corinthians 13:13 St Paul reminds us: “Three things remain faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is Love.” These 2 couples shared the kind of committment that will not only bring them a lifetime of happiness and joy but will also bring faith, hope, and love to all whose lives they touch.
Next year my niece Tasha will be getting married in Arizona, we are looking forward to another celebration that will again bring our family together to celebrate the hope and joy for the beautiful future that weddings bring!

Posted in Family

The Best Thirty Years of My Life

 

It was August 1986, the world was still mourning the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger., in Russia they were suffering the fallout of Chernobyl, the news was saying there was a huge cloud that could possibly travel as far as the USA and the outcome was unknown.
I was 25 years old and engaged to be married to my best friend Don. Our wedding date was November 28. I’m not sure if it was the recent events in the world that made us feel that 3 months was too long to wait to be married or maybe just the jitters of planning a big ceremony.
So on August 23, with 2 friends Kim and Jay Scoress and a justice of the peace we got married on the San Antonio Riverwalk in front of the statue of St.Anthony. I wore my mothers wedding dress and my Aunt Sydney Jeans veil. The ceremony was short and simple and as we said our final I do’s a river barge passed by and cheered. We were a young poor couple we did not own a camera, our only photo was one taken by a photographer with a Polaroid camera who charged us a $5.00. Then we walked through a muddy construction set to the Tower of Americas where we had a drink to toast our new life.

That was 30 years ago today, and Don is still my best friend and I still look forward to every moment we have together. We have 3 beautiful children who are the light of our lives and every day together seems better then the day before.

This year work commitments for both of us keeps us from celebrating
this anniversary together, but I know he is always a phone call away from transforming even my worst days to laughter and joy. Happy 30th Don, thank you for making every day of the last 30 years the best day of my life. I look forward to at least 30 more.

Posted in Family

I won the Husband Lottery!

 

I won the husband lottery, I don’t just say that because he gifts me gold on Delta every year and takes me to exotic NASCAR locations all over the county. No it’s so much more then that. Don is a keeper.
People are always asking me what the secret of a good marriage is, I say it’s a combination of luck, commitment, friendship and poverty with poverty being a key element. 30 years ago when we started this journey together we were poor. Life was not easy but any time we considered separating or divorce we had to back away from it because we could barely afford to live together, living apart was not in the budget. So on we trudged through babies, diapers, jobs, and all the other moments that you experience as a married couple. The old cliche what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger was true, though I think with us it was more like who doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, through our struggles we did become stronger.
After 10 years of marriage and 3 children we found out that there had been a glitch with our wedding and in fact we were not really even married in the eyes of the church. In order to fix the glitch Don would have to get an annulment from his previous wife Susan, the process was lengthy and expensive not to mention a little embarrassing, Don had to call a woman he had not seen in more then 10 years to let her know their marriage needed to annulled, luckily she was good natured and willing to fill out the forms filled with relatively personal information and call on the witnesses that the church required. Our wonderful Parish Priest Msgr Brosnan knew the process was going to be a financial burden so he had the church take care of the expense. Both Don and Susan agreed there was something healing about the annulment process, even though their marriage had been brief both agreed it gave them a closure neither knew they needed.
That year at Easter we stood before Msgr Brosnan to make our vows to one another once more. Just before our priest told each of us if you have any doubts this is the time to let me know. We looked at each other (and our 3 children) and knew that even in our roughest moments we would rather be together then apart. When we married the first time I heard our wedding vows but did not think about the true meaning, this time my eyes filled with tears as we repeated through richer and poorer, sickness and health, those words really meant something. I knew we would have our happily ever after but the journey was no fairy tale. This wedding was just us and 2 witnesses (Pam Mire and Diana Carpenter), no pictures or flowers, no honeymoon just our family saying yes it’s been tough but I would not trade a minute of it, and I’m ready to keep going.
That was twenty years ago, our children have all grown up now. Don has a great job that keeps him on the road a good deal of the time. We are far from rich but I no longer lay awake at night worrying how we will pay our bills. Being apart so much helps us to value the precious time we have together. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful boss who has worked to allow me the be off part of the the time that Don is home, but even with my flexible schedule our time together is rare yet very treasured.
When we got married we were in love, and I thought that love would make our lives perfect. We soon went through a phase where I felt like the couple in “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”. “If I have to spend another minute with you I don’t think that I can survive.” Somewhere in the middle we were like Golde and Teyve in Fiddler on the Roof asking ” Do you love me?” “For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him Fought him, starved with him Twenty-five years my bed is his if that’s not love, what is”?
Now I look at Don and cannot imagine my life without him, he has become my best friend, my greatest advocate, he believes in me, tells me I am beautiful even on my worst day. When he is in town he cleans, cooks, remodels the house while I’m at work, sometimes he even finishes those projects. I look at our life now and think of the Jason Mraz son “Lucky to be in love with my best friend..”
I won the husband lottery, and while that lottery did not include a big cash payout it gave me a life filled with more happiness, love and adventure then any amount of money could ever buy.
Our life is far from perfect, but our love is perfect.

Posted in Family

Seasons of Siblings


Seasons of Siblings
I love my brothers and sisters they are a fun quirky group of people who are all different yet accepting of our diversity.
My oldest brother Jay has magical powers, or so he says, he has an opinion about everything. Jan is super nurse and Miss Congeniality, everywhere she goes fun follows, she would be the person I would most want in a room if I ever had a heart attack, she not only would save my life but would keep the room calm and entertained while doing it. Michael was at the front of the brains line when God was serving them and stayed there for extra helpings, he has more degrees then a hot Texas day, and ambition and confidence that helped him climb Kilimanjaro and write some of the best novels to ever go into print. Mary is the family beauty queen, but she is more then just a pretty face, she once held off a rattlesnake with a walking stick to protect her children. She is fiercely loyal and a source of positive energy to all around her no matter how dreary things seem.
With that sadly even though we all live in Texas we rarely see one another, there are no disconnects nor family drama, we are just 5 busy people with separate lives.

But there is a magical connection that siblings have. It’s almost like the bat signal, the commissioner doesn’t have to say anything, he just sends up the signal and batman comes to the rescue. Last December that signal was sent out after my mother had a stroke. I was fortunate to be nearby and was in the room with her the last moments that she had the ability to speak, she held my hand and naming each of her children, grandchildren and siblings by name she told me how much she loved them and how they had filled her life with joy. Those were probably some of the most overwhelmingly emotional moments in my life. Being there with my mom before they intubated her, knowing that she was entrusting me with such precious information, that she would never be able to communicate herself again to the family that she loved was a huge privilege.

For the 10 days between my mothers stroke and her death our family gathered around her to try and give back some of the joy to her she had given us as we grew up. Each of us did what we did best, Michael organized things and kept lines of communication open with family members, Mary made sure my mother looked beautiful even in her hospital gown Mary put a new scarf on her daily and never let anyone in the room unless my mom had lipstick on. Jan spoke to the doctors and nurses and translated when needed, we all sang to her, made sure that every work spoken in her presence was positive. And on her last night with us we all knelt around her bed and thanked her for being our mother and let her know it was okay to go, knowing that her sisters and parents who had died before her were probably there in the room holding their hands out waiting to take her home.

Because of the way she lived and the way she raised us, her funeral was a beautiful celebration of her life and the lives of those people she touched. Her sisters carried gifts to the altar that symbolized who she was, Her grandchildren sang, played guitar and flute and carried her casket out of the church. I stood between my siblings thinking this is what every mother wants, her family together supporting one another sharing their talents to bring joy to others.

The Book of Ecclesiastics (and The Byrds) remind us “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
I know this is the season in our lives that we have moved on to our own families, jobs and commitments that are the responsibilities of being adults. But I will always be thankful that no matter what season, I will forever have my quirky yet amazing siblings who will forever be the foundation on which everything in my life is built, and makes me the person I am today.

Posted in Family

My Best Mothers Day Gift

My Best Mothers Day Gift;

On October 23, 1987 my life changed in the most amazing way, at 540 in the morning when I looked into the eyes of my daughter Liz for the first time. At that moment my heart changed ownership from being mine to becoming hers.    I remember asking all the nurses if they had ever seen seen a baby as beautiful and perfect as her, of course all the nurse agreed because she was beautiful and perfect.

Everyday was exciting as Don and I watched her grow and change, filling our lives and hearts with joy and happiness.
When I found out I was expecting Kat I was worried how would I be able to love anyone as much as Liz, but on October 4, 1989 I again was looking into the eyes of another perfect, beautiful baby girl who took my heart and also made it hers.
On October 20, 1994, another precious heart thief came into our lives when David was born.
We had no money and were far from being perfect parents, but we loved our beautiful family.      We would take walks, play in the park, camp and make Christmas decorations from toilet paper rolls.     Every night we would pray,read and sing. While other parents were bragging that there children could recite from the periodic table or Shakespeare I was proud that my children knew all the words to most Beatles songs!

We struggled through their teen years, and when their hearts were broken by the world, my heart felt crushed.

The day each of them left for college I felt like the air had been sucked out of my chest, how could I breathe with my heart in another place?

There are days I think I would give anything to go back for a moment just to hug them as babies once more, or dance them to sleep as we did all those sleepless perfect nights so long ago. There are many things I wish I could have done differently, and so much more I wish I could have done for them, but there is nothing I would want to change in who they have become.
They are all grown up now, each of them a unique,beautiful, kind person out in the world making me proud as they find their niche to help make the world a better place for the next generation.

Liz, Kat and David you are the greatest Mother’s Day gift ever, thank you for every perfect happy moment you have given me.

My dear mother in heaven, thank you for the love and sacrifices you made for your children, I know your life was not easy but I am so thankful for you.

And to all those people who have surrendered your hearts and experienced that perfect joyful sometimes painful unconditional love that children bring us, I wish all of you a happy happy Mother’s Day.

Posted in Family

The Ghosts of Oak Grove

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Growing up we never had a family home. My father was military and our home was wherever we happened to live at the time. The only constant in our life was a house on Oak Grove Avenue in Vermont.

My first memory of the house was in 1968, we had driven up from Texas.    As we turned down Oak Grove my mothers road weary exhaustion turned to excitement when she saw my Great Aunt Marguerite walking towards the house to help welcome our family. My grandparents as well as Aunts and uncles were waiting as our old station wagon with my parents, 5 children and our dog pulled into the driveway, we were rushed in the house to a table full of food, lots of hugs, comments of how much we had grown and questions about our trip, my mother was glowing with happiness to be surrounded by family. Continue reading “The Ghosts of Oak Grove”