Friday, October 23, 2015

Birthdays, funeral and a wedding in 30 days

   I have sat down to write this blog 100 times in the last 30 days. I start, then delete, then start again and delete once more. I can't seem to get my scrambled thoughts into any order for a reader to appreciate what I'm trying to convey.  Here goes my 101 attempt and I will begin at the beginning of my last 30 days.
   Early September I had a birthday. I love birthdays. I love to attend the celebrations, plan a surprise party and do something special for someone/anyone on that day. Numerous friends and family remember my birthday too. My older brother Ken used to always send my birthday gift in November near our sister Cheryl's birthday. So my younger sister Terri got her August birthday gift from him then too. One stop shopping for him as we would all get the same or a similar color of gift from him. We really weren't on to his ways because we all lived in 3 different states. One year my younger sister and I were wearing the same shirt and I said "Hey, I have that shirt too!" She said," Ken gave it to me for my birthday!" Upon which we started comparing notes and realized he had been doing this for years and we never noticed. Clever Ken. Smarty Ken. Such a great idea Ken! Since the passing of our sister Cheryl several years ago I now get my gift in September. The recognition of this small realization made me sad this year. I was also feeling sorry for myself this year since I've been recovering from foot surgery and not really mobile and not in a "birthday party" spirit to celebrate. It was a subdued day and my gift from my brother came 2 months early...making me feel a bit sad.  Life just marches on though doesn't it? Fast forward one week and we are ordering a special birthday meal to be delivered for John's father in their new apartment in their retirement community. He was turning 86! We called to wish him happy birthday but he wasn't feeling too sharp that day coughing a bit. He was really looking forward to flying to our home in a few weeks so we could attend a big family wedding event in SoCal. (Southern California for you out of staters) I'll get right to it now and tell you we got that dreaded phone call from John's mother later that evening  stating that his father had gone to sleep and died peacefully and went to the arms of the Lord. He died on his birthday. He left this world celebrating I guess. Even though he was 86 I was still surprised he left us. You think you are ready to say goodbye or in our case, see you later, but it's still very unexpected. A week later we were in Montana planning a funeral. This was simply crazy. You want to know what I love most about this man's life? He lived his life to the very very end the best he could, and he didn't even have a clue he was going to die that day. Maybe we need to be living our life as though it's our birthday every day! It's painful some days as I remember this special man in my life who loved me as though I was his own daughter. What a gift it was to have a father in law who really loved you.. He was crazy in love with me and he thought I hung the moon with computers. HA! I sure had him fooled didn't I?!!
   We traveled back to California with husband John's mom from the funeral to the wedding. So many huge swings of emotions. Highs and lows for many days as we fought to find joy in the midst of grieving. This special wedding of our nephew and his sweet beloved was just the healing we needed. I should have known this as 35 years ago my husbands maternal grandmother passed away just 2 weeks before our wedding. His mother had to bury her mother (in the dress she bought for our wedding) in Oregon and travel back home to prepare for our wedding in the spring of 1980. This was familiar territory for her. History seemed to be repeating itself in our family.  We all linked arms, hearts and tears and celebrated a wedding...just like we did 35 years ago after Grandma Marge died.
   The day after the wedding 25 of us family members gathered to celebrate just ONE more birthday! Hey, I told you I like birthdays at the beginning of this now didn't I? John's Mom was turning 80! She had never had a real birthday party with cake and balloons etc due to severe allergies as a child, Soooooo we gathered at a local pancake house in SoCal and had a cake, presents, a birthday tiara, balloons and those fun birthday candles that re-light after you "think" you've blown them out! We simply smiled laughed and celebrated.
   Maybe we celebrated that sometimes families and friends just need to love on each other when you are hurting from the sting of losing a loved one. I believe these birthdays and the wedding healed us  through some rough days. My heart is grateful today for that.