31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Silhouette: Outline of Goodbye

We left at “O-dark-thirty”, as the husband says, in the cold, rainy, dark of morning… truck and trailer filled with the last of Dad’s big tools…

A stop for coffee in California farmland…

Then up and over the Siskiyou mountains… clouds outlined against sky… a first dusting of snow on the peaks…

It feels odd to carry the last bits and pieces of their home in the back of our truck… to say goodbye to a family home, my family home, that will be no more.

This goodbye thing… there is more to say… when I am less tired.

Still feel the road ringing in my ears.

Linked today with WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge : Silhouette    …..

….and with The Nester and the 31 Day bloggers.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Such Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

That was my grandfather’s favorite hymn.  A favorite of many I’m sure.  I get a little teary-eyed… especially when bagpipes play it.

Next week I’ll be thinking of him and others, about lessons learned… on judging, to die well, knowing when it’s time to make a tough choice.

I’ve been traveling since Friday, Monday’s post may be a little late.  I’m getting the hang of scheduling posts in advance (thanks to advice from a bloggy friend)… but Monday’s is not quite there yet.

Still hope you’ll check in at The Nester… these folks are not just writing words… we have interior decorators and “how to do” somethings and fashion and food and photography and the list goes on…………….


31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Perfect. Not.

We are all perfectly imperfect because that’s how God made us…..

We just need to be ourselves, because no one else will do…..

Love never fails, I’ve seen it in action… and because He says so…..

God’s promises are true.  Period.

That’s what being mom to the four I’ve chattered about this week has taught me…

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Enjoy the weekend and the amazing 31 Days bloggers over at The Nester….

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Fly Boy Courage

In 5th grade he competed in the science fair.

He borrowed my blow dryer.  We bought him poster board.  He scrounged some clear plastic wrap, string and yards of his favorite substance… duct tape.

He hand carved a tiny plane.  He fashioned a wind tunnel.

And the little plane flew.

It was the most popular entry at the science fair.  Parents, students and teachers flocked around and every time the switch was flipped… the little plane flew.

He didn’t win a single award.

The one thing he blew off, the one thing he said he would not do… was present his hypothesis.  A simple statement posted next to his entry… that’s all they asked for.

He was heart-broken.  My heart was broken.  But. He. Knew… and the consequence was rightly paid.

So what do you do with a kid who is scary smart, creative… unconventional?   The kid who could explain the theory of flight, but was flunking science… the kid who made it to the state spelling bee, but was flunking English?

When you don’t fit neatly into the box of life and school… you pay a price.

He paid a lot of prices… some seemed unfair… some probably deserved.  As a parent it’s hard to watch the struggle… when you see the light inside of who he could be, what he could do… the same light you saw the day he was born.

And then just like that… he told us he was leaving.

He was sick of just existing.

He’d been accepted at aviation school almost 2000 miles away.  He had student loans and financing in place.  He could get part-time work.  And he chose not to tell us until everything was set… there would be no turning back.

He drove away from our home with a map and a little money… I would have been scared.  If he was, he didn’t say.  I stood in the street watching… long after his car turned the corner… marveling at what had just happened.

It hasn’t been easy, but in the years since his career has taken him to the jungles of Ecuador, Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, locations around the USA and most recently, France.  Along the way… he married and created a family of his own.   Who would have thunk it?

What causes one to change like that… to reach deep inside and grab onto the courage to push ahead… especially when you know… there are some who expect you to fail?

And that’s the crazy thing… there really are people like that.

Nothing stopped him…

Thanking God every day for this one, the gifts God planted within him and his brave choice to pursue them.

Linked today with The Nester and the 31 Dayers.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ No Hurry Today

I’m in a hurry to get things done,
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun.
All I really got to do is live and die,
but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

This song by Alabama used to make me think of a son… the one who was in a hurry to grow up, to get his first job, to get his first truck, to be finished with school so he could join the army, make it his career.  And he did those things… in a hurry.

He said his first ten years would be for career building.  His second ten years he could probably slow down and think about a wife and a family.

Then September 11th, 2001 happened.  Most of that second ten years has been consumed by putting his skills to work in war, surviving war and training others for war.

It occurred to me, quite awhile ago actually, that Alabama song really wasn’t about him at all.  It was more about me… because that what I do… hurry, hurry, hurry.  But why?  I know the answer, but that’s for another day.

He hurried because he was driven.  He’s always known what he wanted to be.  Some people are just like that.  And some aren’t.  And that’s ok.

He was in a hurry to learn and become and do what he was designed for.  And yes, I do believe some are designed to be soldiers and leaders of men in battle… because that’s the kind of world we live in.

I’ve written before about our vacation last June, visiting this son in his Kentucky home.  I won’t belabor that point – although it’s surprisingly easy for a mom to ramble on about her kids – which I’ve been doing for three days now.  One more to go tomorrow.

But I was struck by the calm and peace of his life.  He’s lived thru the worst of the worst.  It’s good to see him enjoying the best… the simple.  It was good to sit with endless cups of coffee and just talk about anything, everything… imagine what lies ahead for him, for our family.

One day as we drove thru the green of West Virginia, and you haven’t seen green till you’ve seen West Virginia (sorry Oregon), he reached over and turned up the radio…. “I like this one” ….

I imagine he knows better than anyone about “those things you can’t change”.  And I’m learning there are better ways to go thru a day than hurry and worry.

I like this new song.

Connected today with The Nester’s blog community.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Ninja Grace

It was a hard day… the day we left Alaska.

We teamed up with a trucker friend named Barry.  His wife had left him and he was on a mission to find her and make amends.

So there we were, heading down the Alaska Highway… three depressed adults, four active boys, one big rig, a van pulling an overloaded river boat and an old Chevy Suburban that had seen better days.  A sad-looking crew to be sure.

Barry let the boys take turns riding with him.  Exciting stuff for young ones.  Since we all had CB radios he gave them each a handle… one was Ally Oop (because they both liked that song), one was ZZZZZs (because he couldn’t stay awake), one was Tequila (because he perfectly mimicked the song) and finally we had Buckwheat (not completely sure why on that one, but it seemed to fit).

After riding with Buckwheat for a long stretch of road, Barry told me he had something to say.  The boy was only 4 years old… maybe he’d been naughty?

“I don’t believe that kid is 4…  I think he’s really a 40-year-old in a small body… he figured out all my problems… great conversations… I love that kid!”

Yep, that’s Buckwheat… even today.  Easy to talk to, bounce ideas off of, with equal part mischief thrown in.

Last weekend the husband and I spent a few hours working on our old house.  As I pulled an area rug out the front door, I saw this son’s truck, but not him.  I assumed he was out back with his dad.  Changed my mind where to lay down the rug, turned around and suddenly his hulking figure was right there!

He scared me… Bad!

He thought it was funny… and glad to know his inner “Scottish Ninja” (whatever that is) was still alive and well.  Silly Buckwheat.

The upheaval and change that has colored life for my husband and I this past year, spilled over onto this son and his family.  Just one of those convoluted family things.

It’s been hard… and we’ve had some uncomfortable conversations.  Dealing with my problem is one thing… when it affects my child, it’s almost unbearable.

His response has been gracious and loving, which brings healing.  And of course, he’s good at jumping out of bushes, which brings laughter.

He grew up to be a good man… steady and stable… a husband, a father and a Picasso with a paint gun……….

……….Oh, well OK… and if it makes him happy, he’s a Scottish Ninja….. 

photo credit Courtney McGillivray

Please check out other 31 Dayers at The Nester

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Army Strong

He honorably finishes a six year enlistment with the Air Force.  They teach him to be a carpenter.  He likes to build things.

After the Air Force he finds the 8 to 5 work day world not so fulfilling and enrolls in college.

He misses the camaraderie of military life and joins the Army National Guard… it helps with school expense too.

One year later he’s in Iraq… during the 2007 Surge… manning a gun turret… running convoy security.

He’s a carpenter, people!  In what world does this make sense?  This is the type of thing which makes a mother pray.  A lot.

He comes home and finds it hard to fit in… a chronic problem of guard troops I’ve met.  They serve in war, are sent home and told… “Thanks. Go live your life. Don’t call us – we’ll call you.”

But how do you live a life you haven’t built yet?  Many young veterans never figure this out.

So he begins with all the optimism a body can muster.  Because that’s who he is.

He makes plans.  People walk away.  He struggles.  He keeps on.  He makes more plans.  They fall apart.  He keeps on.  He does it again and again… but I worry he’s loosing ground.

I’m not surprised that he volunteers for another deployment.  And he’s gone.

He makes it safely home again… we meet at his apartment one day.  He needs a kitchen table, a good lunch and we plan to find both.

His apartment is neat.  Clutter distracts him.  On the fridge – a small, erasable white board with grocery items listed.  On the wall nearby – a large erasable white board.  I don’t remember exactly what was on it, but things like : Go to gym – pick up class schedule – buy groceries – Call for appointment… etc.

Pretty basic stuff for such a big board.  I didn’t ask questions.

He answered anyway.

The list made him focus.  He had to do what was on the list that day.  He didn’t worry about the next day.  The next day would have it’s own list.  It was kind of like his “orders” when he was deployed.  And he was never one to shirk orders.

Except these orders he gave to himself.

It must be working for him.  He’s in his junior year at a well respected university.  And he still takes time to help his crazy parents with the house remodel that won’t end.

Life building is a slow process, but he’s doing it day by day, goal by goal, with a smile on his face.

Awhile back I whined about how hard it is to keep myself organized.  I start the day with great intention and end it with almost nothing done.

“I have two words for you, Mom – – –White. Board.

Linked with The Nester and the 31 Day bloggers.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ They Teach Me

Awhile back I began to write a “kind of” Alaskan version of Little House on the Prairie.

You know, we could call it Little House on the Permafrost or Little House on the Tundra… I don’t know.  Neither one grabs me.  And it doesn’t really matter because the story isn’t finished.

Anyway, my goal is to share family history with my sons.  There’s a lot worth knowing about that time.  And I feel the need to preserve it… to fill in some blanks.

I remember my grandparents and parents telling me things about our family… but no one ever wrote it down.  I’ve captured some of it, but not near enough.

One year for Christmas my husband and I gave his dad a hand-held tape recorder.  We wanted him to recount his early years in 1930s Yukon Territory.  That didn’t happen.  Some of those stories are in our memory banks but they tend to fade, or we remember them a little differently each time.

I think every family needs a historian.  And it should pass from generation to generation…. the adventures, the missteps, the disasters, the lessons learned and the love stores.

Reflecting on family who came before me, as I write this series of posts… it’s smack in my face that my sons’ lives are full of lessons for me…

… lessons on persistence, grace and good humor, slowing down to smell the roses, and about it never being too late to turn things around.  My sons teach me.  And I need to write about it.

Tomorrow…. the one who epitomizes “keep on keepin’ on”.

p.s. – I won’t use names… but you know who you are 🙂

Please check in with The Nester and the rest of the 31 Days bloggers.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Big

He teaches us to love big like the ocean…

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening].  1 Corinthians 13:7

Today I’m also joining the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

And don’t forget to check on The Nester and the amazing group of bloggers who are writing every day this month.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ On Being Wimpy With Spreadsheets

Day Thirteen

I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog post every day for 31 days… to join a bunch of bloggers I don’t even know… and write?

One post missed already.  Missing a few more won’t matter.

Don’t think I can keep up with them…

It’s amazing how a mind can rationalize.

The dinner dishes have long been done.  She’s asleep in her chair.  The husband is watching tv and playing with his new cell phone.  So, I could write….

…so, I call my folks.  They’re still getting used to their new living arrangement, the small apartment, the quieter life.  Dad doesn’t say much on the extention.  He doesn’t like eating in a communal dining room.  Mom is good at sounding cheery.  I hear the words she’d like to say but can’t.

She worries for my sister.  Me too.  I don’t know how she does what she does.  She takes care of people.  She does for a living for many, what I do for just one.  And her people adore her… she’s kind and gentle and does whatever she can to make them happy.  And then at the end of the day she goes home to a life that hasn’t been so kind and gentle to her.

I’m proud of her.  She carries on.  It would be easy not to.

I think she got a bigger dose than me of that special caring gene.  I don’t know how she does it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I decided to write these blog posts, I created a spreadsheet of ideas.  A big, fat nerdy spreadsheet.  I wonder if other folks put their writing on a spreadsheet?

There are lots of ideas left, but they scare me a little.

Why am I more comfortable manipulating a spreadsheet than getting to the heart of the writing?  I believe it’s called stalling.

“Getting old is not for wimps”, Mom tells me often.  I completely agree.

And I feel completely wimpy tonight.