Monday, June 21, 2010

be·lov·ed: greatly loved and dear to the heart

Have been thinking on many people and happenings that are beloved to me. It's humbling and wonderful to realize, through their words, actions, and deeds - that I'm someone beloved to them also. Life is too short not to show our love for others, and too long to get through it without love shown to you. I am blessed and thankful for the love that is shown to me in my life. I have COUNTLESS experiences of love that I could share, but they'd fill up a blog every day for a year! So, with a few free minutes I've found myself with today, thought I'd share just a few "Love is..." experiences I've had in the past couple of weeks (this list is not all-inclusive):

Love is my best friend, Andrea, making an overnight - immediate turnaround - 8.5 hour road trip (both ways) to deliver her most precious cargo to me.

Love is that same friend giving me the gift of two special weeks to spend loving and laughing with my youngest Godchild.

Love is a friend who shows up with power-steering fluid and a flashlight and helps figure out just what's wrong with my car - in the humid heat of late afternoon.

Love is a friend who follows you to the mechanic shop and takes you to work while the car is being repaired - and who brings you beautiful flowers from her garden too!

Love is a friend who makes a delicious dinner and invites you over to watch a Barbara Streisand movie on the night of your Mother's open heart surgery so you don't have have to be alone with your worry.

Love is having my teenager, happily, re-do pretty braids, paint 10 cute toddler fingers, and paint 10 "Corbin-pretty" toes almost every night for two weeks just because it made Ashleigh happy!

Love is having friends who happily drive Rebecca (and Ashleigh) to and fro for me so I don't miss work and they don't miss the fun!

Love is Ashleigh saying "This is a good sandwich Missy!" and "I really love you Missy!" and a million other truly sweet things.

Love is having my teenager clean the dishes - even when I didn't ask her too.

Love is sending an electronic singing Snow Woman to live out the remainder of her battery-driven days in Baton Rouge with Ashleigh!

Love is having friends who let you interrupt their anniversary dinner to drop your teenager off, and then treat that teenager like one of their own - making sure she has a good time while you are gone.

Love is a friend who thoughtfully chooses and then gives you your birthday present early, so you have time to read it during your short sabatical from day-to-day living.

Love is having a friend who will pick you up, load you up, and get you to the airport at 6 o'something in the morning - with a smile and a cheerful attitude - even when they didn't get any sleep the night before.

Love is a 4 year old Ashleigh putting her arm around me when she watched my smile fade as our plane was landing last Thursday morning, and saying "It's Ok. I'm not scared!"

Love is my neice, Meagan, walking towards me in the airport with a smile beaming across her beautiful face.

Love is seeing all the hugs of reunion at the airport, and receiving my own hug too!

Love is pulling into my Best Friend's drive way, seeing her smile to see me, and hearing her little girl say with need and excitement, "THAT'S MY MOMMY!"

Love is walking into my own Mother's house, seeing her looking lovely, alive and well, and saying to myself - with need and great relief, "THAT'S MY MOMMY!"

Love is the smell of my Aunt Maureen's unparallelled cooking wafting through the kitchen and being told "I made a special lunch for you." (Shrimp Fettucinni - the best ever!)

Love is being able to enjoy the time I spent with my Mom knowing my Kitty Cats were begin looked after and cared for.

Love is sitting up until midnight talking and laughing with my neices Layne and Jalisacia.

Love is Mom waking me up just after 6:00 a.m., instead of just before, so we can get our walk in during the coolness of early morning.

Love is eating hot, boiled crawfish from Tony's with Lydia and Mom - a great last meal and a great way to spend my last day in Louisiana!

Love is being picked up at the airport super late at night (11:00 pm!) by a water-skiing tired and road-weary friend, and then having that friend wait in the driveway until I could prove we were safely inside our home!

Love is collapsing in my own bed, uncomfortably and with my body at weird angles because of my long, lean and leggy daughter snuggling in with me and my big (read: fat) cats curling up into (read: squeezing themselves into) the sparse remaining spaces of my mattress and covers.

Love is praying for sleep to come quickly, and receiving an immediate answer to the prayer.

Love is waking and realizing how very blessed I am to be loved and cared for by so many special, wonderful people - young, old, human and feline - you are all beloved to me and I am ever-grateful to count you as friends.

This is my beloved and this is my friend. ~Song of Solomon 5:16

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day Daddy

Thankful today to my Heavenly Father for the Father he blessed me with here on earth. Daddy passed away in 2003 - oh how I miss him - especially finding myself on this Father's Day in my Mother's home with so many photos and momentos of Daddy.

I learned a lot from the passing of my Father and in the hours upon hours that I've spent in the years since, reflecting on him and our relationship - about who he was, the role(s) he played in my family, and through these reflections, I've learned alot about MYSELF. Thank God that I had learned about some of those things in the few years prior to his passing too!

It was so easy - when he was still alive and the thought of his passing seemed something that may never happen - to see his "flaws" and to focus on what I thought were unsavory things about him. It was so easy, it seemed then, to find fault with him and see him as the reason I made so many bad decisions, the reason I felt not good enough, the reason I put myself in an unsafe marriage in a desperate attempt to feel loved, the reason I just couldn't put my life together in any healthy way. And no, Daddy wasn't perfect. He was, like all of us, only human. The truth is though, that it was easier to accept my failings if I had someone to blame for them. And isn't it always so easy to blame our parents?

I remember that when I was a very little girl, Dad would pick me up every day from the sitters and say "There's my Treasure Chest!" Sometimes on the way home he'd stop at Dairy Queen and get me an ice cream cone, then instead of taking the direct route home, he'd take the longer road I liked because it took us past a field with a few horses. When "Brown-Eyed Girl" came on the radio once on the way home he sang it to me. One time seeing the flowers on the side of that Texas road he said, "Every time I see Brown-eyed Susan's I think of your pretty eyes Missy!" He never laughed when I sang "Wildfire" at the top of my lungs - and one time he ate several cookies I made using salt instead of sugar - he never winced and with a straight face told me "These are good!"

Then, I got older. I became a teen-ager. While I wasn't horrible - ok, not too horrible, I did still have the typical "I KNOW IT ALL" disease that most teenagers catch, and I also did a lot of pulling away. S o, of course, once I'd created that distance - I decided that was his fault too! And finally, one day, we just didn't have a good connection anymore, and neither of us could seem to find it.

I got to a place in my mid-twenties, when I knew he wasn't the one responsible for my mistakes. I, and I alone, had made the bad choices I'd made. Still though, I was too proud to admit it. For a while...

I had Rebecca and her birth and my parents being there for me in every possible way during my divorce/pregnancy and life thereafter - helped my and Daddy's relationship quite a bit. But there was still that terrible distance between us. I hated it. He hated it. I prayed about it quite a bit, we both made weak attempts to move towards each other, but it was hard to find a way to close the gap.

Then, Daddy scared us. He almost died. Guess what? It scared him too. He called me from the hospital crying and told me over and over that he loved me so much. And with that, the years-long chasm was bridged. So I thank God that he ALMOST died, because we had a few years after that to continue to reconnect and love each other.

No. Our parents aren't perfect. Yes. They make mistakes. Yes. There are many things we can look back on and point out what they could've done better or differently so that we would be happier adults with less work! As a Mom who has made her own share of less than perfect parenting moves, I realize that parents KNOW what they could've done differently too- and parents feel worse about it than their children can ever imagine. The sooner we accept our parents flaws, as much as we desire them to accept ours, instead of holding their flaws against them...the sooner we become free to love and be loved and have a truly happy existence on this ride called "LIFE."

I am happy to say that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Dad - flaws and all - was a great Dad! He loved me. He loved my sisters. He loved our Mother. He was truly devoted to us all. He was a substitute Father for all four of his fatherless granddaughters - and left nothing but good memories for their sweet selves.

If you are blessed enough to still have both of your parents living - but feel in any way that your relationship with them is not what it should or could be - I strongly encourage you to take steps - no matter how small - to make it better. Try to understand and accept them and love them unconditionally - even if you feel they don't do those things back to you. Pray for restoration of the relationship.

I hope my Daddy knew how much I loved and accepted him before he died - I tried my best to show him.

The song "In The Living Years" by Mike & The Mechanics - ALWAYS brings Daddy to my mind.
Every generation blames the one before
And all of their frustrations come beating on your door
I know that I'm a prisoner to all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
Crumpled bits of paper filled with imperfect thoughts
Stilted conversations, I'm afraid that's all we've got
You say you just don't see it - He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement in this present tense
We all talk a different language - Talking in defense

Say it loud, say it clear - You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die - To admit we don't see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future, it's the bitterness that lasts
So don't yield to the fortunes you sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective on a different date
And if you don't give up, and don't give in you may just be okay

Say it loud, say it clear -You can listen as well as you hear
Because it's too late when we die, to admit we don't see eye to eye

I wasn't there that morning when my father passed away
Didn't get to tell him, all the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit, later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo in my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years