Posts Tagged Memories

But I Am

When I was young, I would sing songs to my friends about being young and listening to the radio. When I was young, I dreamed and I planned and I created. When I was young people told me all the things I should be. A writer, they said. A singer. A scientist. Be a strong woman. Don’t let the men get all the good jobs. You’re good at math. Go to college and do mathy/computery things with the big boys. It’s a woman’s world now; the women who came before you sacrificed greatly to open these doors for you. Don’t let it go to waste. Women can be fighter pilots now. Join the air force and bullet the blue sky just like the men do.

When I was young I met a boy that I knew I wanted to spend my life with. Don’t do it, they said. You’re too young. You have so much to offer. You’ll regret it someday.

When they get to the part where he’s breaking her heart, it can really make me cry.

I’m pretty sure my high school counselor is still mad at me. He worked hard to get me that presidential scholarship. I had a free ride to a place where other people’s parents paid bootie-loads of money for super-smart people to shove crap down their kids’ throats.

I lasted one semester and two weeks. I cried every day. I didn’t like the taste of crap.

People still think they know all the things I should do and they still try to tell me and I still don’t want to do any of it. Or if I did before, I don’t once they tell me I should. But I still dream. I still plan. And I still DO. My whole life, I have done things. REALLY done things. Someone put this thing inside of me that pushes me to excel and I rarely settle for less than the realization of my dream exactly how I imagined it. Other people look at that drive and they say “You should DO something with that!” and I always think, “……but I am……doing something…..”

It’s a quiet drive that I have. Like a luxury vehicle.

Is contentment with a small world a waste of a life? I think of the parable of the talents and sometimes I just don’t know. But I have had dreams and I do have dreams and I will have more dreams. They always consume me and I work at fulfilling them and when they are fulfilled, I am content for the moment. They mostly don’t involve performing on stages, winning grand prizes, dancing with royalty, or breaking world records. They are mostly private and I don’t talk much about them. One of them was to be a mother at a time when so many others were telling me I could accomplish so much more. I have watched a mountain grow in my belly (three times) and I have groaned and writhed with the agony of the curse and I have known the joy of a mother’s love when that wriggling, squawking, angry little thing has been placed at my breast and known contentment. What a blessing. What an immeasurable blessing.

I have nurtured (and wriggled) and guided (and squawked) and loved (and hen-pecked) those three young things to the places they are now, with the tender, loving help of their father. I don’t think I’ve wasted much. But then again, I don’t think anyone else would say I’ve wasted much either. But I don’t like to talk about it.

All my best memories come back clearly to me….some can even make me cry.

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On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

John Milton

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Magic and Memories

A few weeks ago, we went to Oregon, where magic lives. Blue waters, cold winds, green trees, smoky fires, white clouds, adventurous people, happy cows, dogs and chickens all live there too. It had been ten years since we’d been back with our family and it was true refreshment for the soul.

And now we’re back.

I think this is the first time in all my years of parenting in Dallas, TX that I HAVEN’T been ready for summer to end. I wish we could hang on to it for just a bit longer. There were just so many summer dreams left undone and I don’t feel ready for this school year. Not at all. But here it is, ready or not.

I remember when I didn’t feel ready for this one to start kindergarten and here she is, starting her final year of high school. All her hopes and dreams show all over her face and I delight in her. I delight in her sweet spirit, her love of beauty, her devotion to working hard in all things, her precious past that I like to visit from time to time and her future that I look forward to with a somewhat anxious joy.

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I remember when this one wouldn’t let go of my neck in the swimming pool. She could cling with the best of them. I didn’t even have to hold on to her because there was no way she was letting go of me. And now I feel like I’m the one desperately holding on while she swims and runs and drives and dances away from me. I love the deep waters that she floats on. I love the beauty that she makes in her music and the silliness that comes out at the strangest of times. She is making a big change in schools for her tenth grade year and I look forward to all the goodness that will come out of it and into her.

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And I remember when this one used to ride around Dallas with me while her older sisters went to school. She was mommy’s little helper and what a trooper she was too, never getting the simple routine that her sisters enjoyed in their years of staying at home. We went here, there and everywhere all day while she was happy to be with me and I with her. And now she is starting the seventh grade and is still a trooper. Always up for whatever, always on top of everyone’s schedule, always up for making her sisters laugh at her. She plays hard, tries hard, gives hard and loves soft.

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O LORD, Jesus Christ, who dost embrace children with the arms of thy mercy, and dost make them living members of thy Church; Give them grace, we pray thee, to stand fast in thy faith, to obey thy word, and to abide in thy love; that being made strong by thy Holy Spirit they may resist temptation and overcome evil; and may rejoice in the life that now is, and dwell with thee in the life that is to come; through thy merits, O merciful Saviour, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest one God, world without end. Amen.

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If When Wisdom

If when you can’t find enough free minutes in your day to replace your desktop wallpaper that you used to love but now you hate, then it’s time to let something else go.

If when you neglect other things and you find that beautiful picture of a city at night blurred in the background behind a steaming mug of coffee sitting on the edge of a high-rise balcony, then it’s time to start neglecting more things.

If when your one teenage daughter brings up the fact (at the dinner table) that the other teenage daughter deleted her as a friend on Facebook and wants to know what you’re going to do about it and the other teenage daughter yells very animatedly that she was sick of the one teenage daughter’s posts about almonds taking up her wall space, then you will know that there just might not be any hope for these daughters so you might as well enjoy your dinner by making fun of both of them.

If when your boss has you make a list of all your duties and how long it takes you to complete each of them and when you’re done compiling the list, the totals show that you would have to work a 13.86 hour day every day (not counting lunch or any other breaks) just to complete each task in the average amount of time, then you should refer back up to the first If When.

If when your teenage daughters get mad when you make fun of them, then you should squeeze their chins and tell them how cute they are.

If when you find that you used to love lots of things that you now hate, then maybe it’s time to make cookies.

If when you’re driving home from work and the clouds are stacked one on top of the other in amazing, perfectly outlined fluffiness, then you should look forward to your youngest daughter running in the house after riding her scooter outside a couple hours later to tell you that you have to come and look at the beautiful sunset.

If when you hate your room because it’s messy, clean it.

If when you can’t believe how much you miss the sound of claws tapping on the floor, following you all around the house, running to get dropped food off the floor, sitting companionably near you when you’re resting, hurrying to follow you outside to roll around in the grass while you sit in the twilight and watch the last of the pink clouds disappear, then cry.

If when you get the chance to go out to lunch with your dad and it’s just the two of you outside on the patio at a nice restaurant with the summer breeze blowing and the sound of the trolley mixing in with the rest of the traffic on the city streets makes you change the volume of your conversation often, like a symphony, and you talk about things you will remember forever, then don’t ever let that moment go.

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Ode to a Buddy

Last night we said goodbye to our boy. He’s been going downhill rapidly these last couple weeks. There appears to be a big, soft tumor growing in his belly while the rest of him gets skinnier and bonier. Every small movement is an immense amount of effort. His breathing has been shallow and rapid for days now and I don’t know the last time he ate or drank or even slept. He seems afraid to close his eyes. We were pretty sure he wouldn’t make it through the night so we gathered all the kids around to love on him and say goodbye before going to bed on the eve of the anniversary of the day of our country’s independence.

I sat there and rubbed his back with tears streaming down my face as I suffered along with him. Grace asked if dogs go to heaven and wondered what Togo was thinking and wondered if he could understand us and if he knew that we loved him. We all wondered together. We talked about the things we knew: while dogs are good, loyal companions, created by a loving and merciful God, only man is made in the image of God. Togo gave glory to God with every day of his life by being who he was created to be, which was the best dog a family could ever hope for. After she had asked all that there was to ask, Grace got up, seemingly satisfied with our semi-non-answers, put her arms tenderly around Togo’s neck, kissed the top of his head, then went around kissing and hugging the rest of us while saying goodnight and she went to bed.

Sadie stood for a long time, not wanting to sit, just looking at Togo, with a deep, dark look in her eyes. She never said a word and wouldn’t give away her thoughts or feelings but kept them inside herself in that cautious way she has always done. I let her stand for a long time before making a gentle motion with my hand to encourage her to come and sit by him and me. She did and as she let her fingers run through his fur, her chin began to wobble and her dark eyelashes got even darker. We sat there for awhile, never saying a word.

Callie openly cried and talked to him and cupped his chin so very compassionately in her hands while he raised his head to look at her. He didn’t take his eyes off her face for the longest time, though he struggled for every breath. She sat there with her bright blue fingernails caressing his face while her bright blue toenails in her bright blue flip flops were next to his heaving, laboring body and the tears fell freely out of her bright blue eyes. As his head finally fell back to the ground, she left the room and went to get a drink of water where Chris held her and I rubbed her arm while she wept.

Sometime while the three of us were in the other room, Sadie must have said her private goodbye to Togo because when we came back, she had gone to bed. I went in to say goodnight where I got an uncharacteristic, extended hug and a heartfelt kiss on the face and a genuinely tender declaration of love. When Chris went to say goodnight, she was crying and hugged him tightly and wouldn’t let him turn her light off. I don’t know if she turned it off at all last night.

Chris sat with his buddy a long, long time after the rest of us went to bed. After a while, he was able to coax him slowly back to our room where we slept and Togo laid beside the bed, wheezing but still.

We woke up this morning to everything exactly the same. He’s fighting hard, not wanting to give up. I don’t think he’s closed his eyes in a couple days. I’ve been at many births but this is the first time I’ve had the privilege of being at the end of a loved one’s life. There is much that is the same, with the tender, quiet voices and the laboring and waiting. Time slows down a bit and life gets a little quieter.

I’m really thankful for the wonderful dog we’ve had for the past eight years. And I’m really thankful for the sweet family time we had last night. It is good to love and care for and grieve all creation together.

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Grasping

My words have been stuck lately. I reach down deep, trying to find them, but they are not there. They have left me and I am grasping at nothingness.

This morning I woke up before the sun and took my coffee outside to listen to the birds sing this sleeping world to life. Togo came out with me and rolled over and over in the grass that has turned green again and the even greener weeds that have already overtaken the grass. The one tree in our back yard that survived the drought last summer does not yet know that it is spring. It does not hear the birds. It still has fifty or so dead leaves from last fall that forgot to fall. They are now black and brittle but they continue to cling tenaciously to the bare branches. Maybe the tree will open up its ears and hear the songs the birds are singing. Maybe new green leaves will push off the old black ones soon.

Or maybe it has lost the will to live and will nevermore grace us with its shockingly pink October leaves. Just like its fellow peach and apple trees who are now gone forever.

This week I took three days off of work and went to San Antonio with my husband of twenty years to celebrate our anniversary. It was a much-needed break as life has been eating us alive lately. We walked all over that city, with no agenda. Sometimes we would stop walking and we would sit and eat and drink while we watched other people walk. It was lovely and we had some good conversations while we held hands.

Last night my two eldest daughters sang in their school talent show. How does the world always spin us back to this point? Today Chris and I will sing at the St. Patrick’s Day luncheon at church. Tomorrow he will preach and then I will eat with my family and do laundry and make a menu and go to the grocery store and help with homework and clean and breathe and the next day I will go to work.

The other day all five of us were in the car when an old Ben Folds song played through the speakers. The daughter whose words also get stuck inside of her sang along with me while we both looked out our respective windows.

Everybody knows it hurts to grow up, but everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here

The irony was not lost on me as I caught a glimpse of her singing quietly along with me in the rear view mirror.

The years go on and we’re still fighting, and we’re still fighting it
And you’re so much like me

I’m sorry

Both of us lost in our thoughts while we sang every word quietly, while looking at the world rushing by. The world that only half-knows that it’s time to wake up from winter.

There was pain, sunny days and rain
I knew you’d feel the same things

Sometimes I can find words in the midst of my pain and sometimes all I can find is pain. Sometimes sleep overtakes me when I’m not tired and sometimes my body feels exhaustion like it’s never known while I lay there praying for rest and finding none. Sometimes this task of raising young women in this world feels impossible and it is all I can do to keep loving them through it while guiding them gently.

We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
You’ll try and try and one day you’ll fly
Away from me

We are now halfway through Lent. Sometimes I think Lent is harder on me than anyone else in the world. Maybe that means I need it more than anyone else.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Maybe the new green leaves will push off the old black ones soon.

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All Of It

Because I do take pictures of all of it. I do, even though I’m so tired I want to crawl under any covers anywhere. And I know I’ll be glad I did one day. Just like I was glad on Mother’s Day when I decided to look through old albums and get all sentimental at how cute Grace was when she was three. Seriously though, she was. Cutest three year old ever. And maybe ten years from now I’ll do it again on Mother’s Day and be glad for all of it. Every bit of it from hula hoops to spring plays to senior pictures to Easter and births and baptisms and goddaughters on Mother’s Day to why the heck can’t I be normal and not be freezing all the time like all the normal people around me?

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It’s a pretty good life, really. I’m glad Sophia is here to share it with us. 🙂

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See You in the Morning

In loving memory of my grandma, Patricia Mezger.

April 22, 1924 – June 18, 2010

Here she is on her wedding day with my grandpa in 1945:

grandma grandpa wedding day

Holding me and my baby brother, Josh circa 1975:

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With me and Grandpa at my high school graduation in 1990:

Grandma my graduation

And the last time we ever made it up to Oregon in 2002, with kids who were stir crazy from being in the car so long as we drove them all around the United States and Mexico. I love this picture because you can see how wild the kids were. I’m sure I was losing my mind. And my grandma’s just watching them with a smile on her face, obviously enjoying every minute with her great-grandchildren:

Grandma with girls

I’ll be going up to Oregon this weekend to meet up with the rest of the family and celebrate her life. I feel incredibly blessed to have had all four of my grandparents in my life for 37 years. I feel a little lost right now, knowing that she’s gone. I’m so thankful for the heritage I have, the loving family in which she raised my dad, which he passed on to me, which I’ve passed on to my children. The love of games and the attitude that “if anybody wants to play any game against me, I’m up for it AND I’m sure I’ll win,” which she passed on to my dad, which he passed on to me. The commitment to sitting down together as a family for meals, where bonds are strengthened, compassion is nurtured and souls are fed, which she passed on to my dad, which he passed on to me. I can’t wait to give my grandpa a big hug. They would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in a little over a month.

My dad sent me a copy of the talk he gave at the private family service yesterday. Here’s the part I keep reading over and over:

    And then Friday about noon she breathed her last breath and went on a new adventure. The Bible tells us that it is to join her Maker and her Savior. It tells us that He, the Lord Jesus, has gone before those who believe to prepare a place where there is no more death, no more pain, no more tears…so although we have come today to say good-bye, we are really not saying good-bye. We can look at her body one last time, but she is not here. So we don’t say good-bye, we say good-night maybe. But what we really are saying is “Good-night. We will see you in the morning.”

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