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Category Archives: Kids

Whether talking about mine, or acknowledging that I still am one, kids breathe emotions and experiences into their lives at a breakneck pace. writing these down lets me freeze them like a photograph, and examine things at a slower, more leisurely pace. Whew!

It starts at the Marrakech Grill…


“What DO you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” It’s the same question my husband has asked me for years. Only this time, I have an answer. I hesitate before speaking, though, and think about how to respond.20160116_121227.jpg

We are at the Marrakech Grill in Denver, and I am on the hunt for the Happy, Fat, and Full. Those are three words that have become important to me. I don’t use them to describe my belly. I use them to describe my overall well-being. The short word would be BLISS. If I am happy, fat, and full in the wallet, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full in my marriage, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full spiritually, I can relax.

The Happy, Fat, and Full means I can enjoy the moment.

I look down at my plate and start the mini ritual that makes up my meal. Thinking of the salad scene in the Barbara Streisand movie, “The Mirror Has Two Faces”, I skewer the tender bite of Shish Kebab chicken on my fork. Then I add a bit of green pepper for balance and crunch. Next, I lightly skim the bite through the tzatziki sauce. Lastly, I plop it on the mound of Saffron rice, picking up several grains, to make THE PERFECT BITE. I bring it to my lips and… MMMM… it is.

The Perfect Bite. 

Munch Munch Munch. Chew Chew Chew. My husband watches me through this ritual, like he always does, with amusement and patience. He knows I am stalling, and he knows I know he knows. Twenty-four years of partnership is a good start to getting to know each other’s habits, I guess. He takes a bite of his own food, Chicken Shawarma with Basmati Rice, and seems content to wait me out. I swallow and start talking. “I want to write on purpose. With purpose, I guess. I want to be a travel writer.” My husband swallows, takes a swig of his Coke, and says simply, “About dang time.”

And it is.

For twenty-four years he has asked me what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up, and at first I thought he was just teasing me. I mean, what else could I be, other than a mom and a wife? I had started off early with those two things on my resume, and had become resigned. Eighteen years old early, to be exact. But even before that, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. The closest I got was knowing I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world.

pic of grantsvilleGrowing up in a small town had given me a taste for solving the mystery of what it was like Somewhere Else. Anywhere Else, actually. My parent’s library painted pictures of rain-forests on misty mountains, and gently lapping waves on a sandy, palm tree-laden islands. I wanted to see everything in reality. Up close and personal-like, and it all started outside of my small town.

But how to start? It just seemed a bit overwhelming.

My older sister got out to see the world. She was an exchange-student in France, and then a nanny back east, and I admired that. I didn’t like her when she left. We fought a lot growing up. But when she came back, she was different. She talked differently. She walked differently. She dressed differently. She was calm, and confidant. She seemed happy and… content.

I wanted that.

So I decided to be a nanny as well. In spite of my dislike for children. Uh… yeah. I, at 18, had no desire to be around children. And may I just give a big ‘ol apology to the kids I babysat, and also to their parents? No, nothing bad happened while on my watch. No, your kids weren’t monsters. No, I didn’t neglect them. I just didn’t know what to DO with them. So they played with board games or watched TV, and I watched them play, kept ’em safe, and looked at the clock. I had no clue how to engage with them. Mediocre, for sure.

new born baby ultrasoundImagine my surprise, then, when I picked up a permanent babysitting job. My own child. Karma started early, I believed, so I cancelled the nanny job I had lined up in Washington D.C., right after graduating high school, and began the adventure of motherhood. No regrets, whatsoever, for my son. He is 23 years old now and an amazing guy. Four sons and one daughter has given me quite a journey. However, my husband would ask that question every once in a while, and it would make me wonder.

He would usually ask while I was changing a diaper or feeding someone. And I would usually return the question with a withering look or a bark of a laugh. Being a mom and a wife was my life. My journey. My adventure. It’s all I had time for.

Right?

Well, as I finished my delicious food in the beautiful atmosphere of the Marrakech Grill with the love of my life, I looked back at my adventure. I realized how much I had hidden my head in the sand when it came to his question. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” This was a question I secretly shied away from. Because deep down, I wanted nothing more than to be out exploring as much of the world as I could get to. And that did not include me being in one spot, watching everyone else experience their life while I was “The Heart Of The Home”.

I didn’t feel like the heart of a home. It seemed ludicrous for me to play that role, actually. Especially starting out at 18 years old. I was to be in charge of prepping the place for others to enjoy. I was the warden, the custodian, the support group, and the clean-up crew for the family, of which I had created and which had come out of my loins, so they could learn, be safe, and grow.

Ludicrous!

I wanted to explore the world, but did not allow myself to think about exploring, because that would be the opposite of responsible. And it became supremely important to be responsible. In fact, it became everything. All consuming. I had to show others, and myself, that I could be a grown up. So I did. I did it the best way that I could, pulling on whatever lessons and experiences I had at 18. I learned along the way.

Spoiler Alert: It Got Good.

Looking back, the journey got intense. Many times. But, along with the intensity came this: THE LOVE. THE COMPANIONSHIP. THE BONDS. I hadn’t counted on that. I don’t know why. I mean, I had heard so many times in my community that the calling of motherhood was the highest calling there was. A huge blessing. I just never believed them, while I was having back labor,  fainting with every pregnancy and earning bed rest. I didn’t recognize the blessings while cleaning up toys and books and dinner and kids faces for the umpteenth time in one day. imageI surely didn’t see any while holding a crying infant as my two-year-old screamed bloody murder at a Wal-Mart, with so many of those same community mothers looking on disapprovingly. I didn’t count on the blessings of love, because I was busy babysitting. Nevertheless, the bonds between my kids and husband grew.

That bond grew between those kids and I, in spite of the chaos that is motherhood. As they grew up, my adventure became less about being on the hunt for sleep and privacy, and more about individual memories where they would play the piano with me, or dance around with abandon while I played it. Or sharing jokes and stories while we drove around, going from scouts to camps to play dates.

Eventually, I knew what to do with these kids. I stopped babysitting, and started mothering. And it got good. Along with being responsible and in charge all the time, the good stuff canceled out the heartaches. I think it still does. So now, my journey of motherhood will not stop, if I start writing and traveling while I do it. It will just be a different role: Empowerment Coach. “Yes, it is about time, Husband.”  In the Marrakech Grill, I have found my Happy, Fat, and Full.20160116_121213.jpg

 

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New place, New moment.


“Ya know something good about being old? Ya just don’t care anymore. You’re lucky, Mom. KBYEEE!”dropping off L. at school in slippers I still remember this sentence coming from my sweet seven-year-old’s mouth, and at the time I was horrified because I knew exactly what he was talking about. He had decided, based on my unkempt presence that day, that I was old enough to not care if I wore shoes or slippers, or even day-time clothes to take him to school. (I had also forgone the bra and makeup that hectic morning, which just made it worse.) He hugged me quickly, jumped out of the car, and thought no more about it.

I went home and ate some chocolate.

That was during my chaotic time as a stay-at-home mom of three boys, one husband, and a household to boot. It was when Elementary School and the ultimate homemade lunch was all consuming for me. Shoulds ruled my life. I SHOULD be a part of PTA. I SHOULD be a better cook/wife/mom/container gardener/scrapbook-er. I SHOULD be put together, somehow. I would SHOULD all over myself regularly, but at least I had my youth. I was twenty-seven at the time, and was pree-ty proud of myself for surviving any given day.

I just felt tired constantly, that’s all.

Now L. had no idea he wasn’t complimenting me. There was real admiration in his words that day. All he knew was that I spent time with him each school day approving some semblance of an outfit for him, but lucky me, I got to wing my wardrobe. And that was something to look forward to. It’s been fifteen years since he bounced off to school after dropping that bomb, and it’s taken me until I reached the ripe old age of forty-two to agree with him.

Now L. was talking about clothing choices, but I am thinking of the SHOULDS.

I never did buy in to the PTA. Or scrap-booking. I just let ’em go, somewhere along the line. Probably in my Thirty’s. I worked on being a better mom/wife/container gardener, and I’d say there is good improvement, but room for more. But I have outgrown the SHOULDS, for the most part. They are exhausting, demanding, and unrealistic, and who has room for those things AND uncomfortable bras?

Just sayin.

I say I am now old enough to start loving the skin I’m in. And shoes? I am old enough to be happy with my choice of shoes, slippers or not, no matter who’s looking, but that could just be because my shoes are of a bit better quality now, and therefore comfy. I dunno. Let’s just call ’em investments. But while I am on the subject of age, let’s get to the good stuff. I am old enough to make myself a priority, and it looks like this:

  1. Aloette skin care product lineSkin Care. I’m not talking about using the same lotion my husband uses for his callused feet. Nope. I mean my own stuff. The good stuff. With words like Moisturizing Beads, Soft and Silky Radiance, and Satin-ee Serum. (I am not doing the Plumpers, Pouty-Faces, or Lashes-For-Miles. Let alone Age-Defying anything. I’m no Betty White, for crying out loud.)
  2. crab-legsCrab legs. Spiders of the sea. Bottom Dwellers. Whatever you wanna call em, I’m a fan, and I am old enough now to splurge a bit for a lunch or three. I frequent Joe’s when I want to sit in the sun by myself, open up my laptop and write in peace and quiet. Scotty the bartender knows me by name, and he knows that when I ask for extra cherries with my Coke, what I ACTUALLY mean is an entire bowl full of cherries. “Because life is like a bowl full of cherries. Maraschino, even.” Scotty says it, and I believe him now.  I tip him well, just for that.
  3. nap with slippersNaps. The greatest part about being old enough for my kids to get themselves up and out the door for school/work is my naps. KA-CHOW, SUCKAHS! While my kids are out using their boundless youth for things like curling luscious teen-age hair for hours on end, or screwing up their 20’s with rash decisions, I am watching them walk out the door with glee, just to book it back upstairs to climb into my very soft, very luxurious bed. With a push of a button, I enjoy a massage at zero gravity while listening to the sounds of ocean waves from Alexa, the electronic robot that husband ordered from Amazon.
  4. bliss-out-yoga-pose-vivian-neoFinding my bliss. I know, I know. My kids and my husband are my bliss. They are, actually. But I have time, now, to enjoy a hobby/job/cause that brings me joy in addition to them, and so I hone my education and skills at being a Financial Coach, renew my annual pass at the Rec Center for Deep Water Aerobics where I am the youngest one in the class, and Write about whatever the heck makes me smile or cry.
  5. lady cryingCrying Whenever I Darn Well Please. Nope, I don’t turn away if my kids come in the door. Or my husband. Or a stranger. I’ve been through some SSS….tuff. I’ve earned the right to be authentic, and nuts to whomever feels uncomfortable about it. I went a lot of years pretending that “It is no big deal”. Whatever the deal was, it was imperative that I didn’t upset the kids. Or anyone else. Well, that phase is done, and they all have big kid panties they can put on. I know, because I gave them as Christmas gifts.

You will notice that cooking classes have not made it onto my list.

So now I am older than 27, and I found 7 gray hairs last week alone. I pulled them out immediately, of course, as I’m not ready to be Betty White, but I realize that I am more fine with them than I was before. I think it is because I simply didn’t know that it could get good. Getting older, I mean. I didn’t really think that becoming a little calmer, wiser, happier, and having a little fatter pocketbook could balance out the start of wrinkles and gray hair, along with a few more lady lumps.

In the youthful years, I did not take into consideration the look that so many parent’s of 20-something’s have on their faces. I didn’t recognize that small, knowing, smile that the oldsters would give me as I passed them in the halls of church, or in a park, or at a store. I thought those faces were smiling at me because they envied my youth and ability to keep it together at 4 pm, in spite of having 3 boys, a stroller, and a dog as my entourage.

Nope. Not even close.

Those 40- and 50-something parents couldn’t care less that I had water bottles for hydration, snacks that were organic, and that I had just managed to have my oldest son hold on to the pet leash AND his terror of a younger brother without having an all-out brawl. In fact, they probably glazed right over the drama and smiled simply because they knew that once I survived that part, I could partake in what they were on their way to do: Go have a conversation that had nothing to do with kids or bills. It was an encouragement smile, tinged with just a bit of relief that they didn’t have to get involved. It was a placeholder smile, just waiting for me and my entourage to move past them so they could high-five each other and say, “We’re out of that phase! Hallelujah!” and then head on over to find something to do that had nothing to do with surviving the day.

Who knew that was an option? I certainly did not, as I let L. out of the car that day so many years ago. It was a hope, but not a certainty, all vague and foggy, and as I learned that I was no longer as young as a youth, it let me start revving up for the good part. The Today’s.

I’m older, sure. But not old. Old, I have decided, is just about 20 years older than I am at any given moment. And when I am Betty White old, maybe I will look to change my passion to acting.

And then they can make a Bobble-head of me, too.betty white bobblehead doll preview

 

 

 

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Glorious Mountain Time…

Glorious Mountain Time…

So. This is what beautiful means. Another kind of beautiful. A not enough oxygen for the Every-Day-Joe kind of beautiful. A Travel-Here-At-Your-Own-Risk kind of beautiful.

Worth it.

We arrived here at the tail end of a thunderstorm. The wrong end of the thunderstorm, I clarify. Actually, we started at one end of the thunderstorm, traveled up the mountain in growing darkness through the middle of the thunderstorm, hydro-planed around semi rigs and a Volkswagen bus on wings of guardian angels, and sluiced to a stop at the resort, clean air and slightly dripping aspens all around.  End of thunderstorm. No big deal.

There is a reason this resort is here. In Vail. It had to be here. Vail had to be the backdrop for twinkle lights drenching the pines, and customer service draping over us the second we pulled up. The temperature, the crispness of the air, the sincere pride the staff took as they welcomed us… All of the elements had to work together to create the ambiance that is this place. And I love it.

Even now, it is raining, and it is enchanting. Wait. It “rains” in other places. Here, it RAINS. The raindrops frolic as they reach the resort. Then some dance on the surface of the infinity pool, bringing steam up invitingly. Other drops lazily make their way down aspen leaves, pitter-pattering to the stone, and gurgling down the gutters. All the rain forms together to make a filmy, misty sheet that flutters down the mountain, across the pines, and onto the property.  That’s what the rain looks like here.

I get to witness it from a plushly padded lounge chair, just under the eaves of the outdoor rooms. Talk about bringing the outdoors in. And the resort does do that. Three beautiful fireplaces ring the saline infinity pool, one for the hot tub and two for gathering spots. They are inviting, with their rocking chairs and outdoor heaters. They just beg guests to enjoy hot chocolate out in the rain, snow, or chill of the air.

As the days and nights progress, I truly experience the consideration that is seeped in this place. From the sights of the outdoor property, to the scents of the on-property restaurant. A hamburger is NOT just a hamburger here, by the way. It is a culinary delight. Onion ring, pesto aioli, and beef or buffalo cooked to specification (mine was beef, cooked medium), set off bells of pleasure on my taste buds. Even something as mundane as french fries took a ride to happy town with chives, garlic, and mushroom wreathing the steak cut morsels.

As rain came down on the beautiful village of Vail, people took the time to come together over drinks and food. Or a game of chess or cards. People read in the lobby, or library, sure, but the stories flowed from the mouths of people wanting to make connections with others, right there in the conservatory.

In that room, with huge windows showing the beauty that was nature on one side, and a roaring fire on the other, people would gather in twos, or fours, or more, and talk about their lives and what brought them to this spot at this particular time.

Many came for a conference. “Hello, how are you? Are you here for CIMA? Do you know…” And simple as that, they are off and running on system security management for the here and now.

Others, however, are here for weddings and family gatherings and such. I met some interesting girls this way. They flitted here and there popping around walls and bouncing wherever they went, happy as clams. They flopped down next to me and asked me why I was here? I told them my husband was speaking at a conference here, and they sensed it was their turn to speak, so they did.

A lot.

They let me know they had flown in with their family, from New Jersey, for a cousin’s wedding. They were also a bit sad that their grandpa couldn’t come because he was so funny. I asked why he couldn’t be there, and they said, finishing each other’s sentences, that he was 89, was in a home, but had just needed to go to a hospital for something. He was very funny, they said, and the nurses laughed a lot around him. I said it must be nice to have a funny grandpa, and they said yes, grandpa Yogi was the best.

Yogi is not a common name, and I thought it was also the name of a bear, and then some other guys name, maybe a football or baseball player from long ago. That’s as far as my line of thinking went, as these young ladies, vivacious and glad to chat, kept up a history of their lives as they knew it. Staying with their grandpa Yogi. “He reminds us of a gorilla!” The younger girl, maybe 7, said. “His ears, you know… They are preeety big.” The elder sister, around 9, chimed in. “He kind of walks funny, too.”  I learned that he was indeed named Lawrence, but that no one called him that since he was a catcher in baseball long ago. His team mates, then just people, called him Yogi and his last name was Berra, and wasn’t that funny?

The girls went with their parents to Florida every spring break, and… Their dad used to play sports as a job, and … Then the two blonde haired, talkative gems were hustled out of the conversation by a 50-something year old man, fit and trim, that wasn’t too keen on my friendly smile. He seemed in a hurry, and that was that.

I had just had a fun discussion about and with the great Yogi Berra’s grandchildren.  I think so, anyway.  Maybe not. I confirmed some things with my husband later, and with Wikipedia. Yessirree Bob, I had been brushed off by a retired ball player/dad, had a chat with a legend’s grand kids, and enjoyed the weather while doing it.

Nice place.

My last night found me down at the hot tub with my husband. We enjoyed the stars hanging in the sky, the trees swaying in the cool, crisp air, and the steam rising off the stone hot tub water. A fire blazed just a few feet away, beautifully corralled by stone and wrought iron fancy.  We soaked for a bit, marveling at the adventure we had experienced, and caught up on our day. He nailed his presentation, had been productive at the socializing that went on at these things, and now he was ready to relax and go home. I shared with him my time and observations, and we both laughed. Then sighed.

It was good to soak.

After a quick dip in the pool, and a spell by the fireplace, we retired to our room.

Our room. Our room! Big, beautifully well-appointed… Our room was a vacation in and of itself. On the top floor, we got a beautiful view of the pool and mountains. The room housed a plush king size bed with a suede headboard. All soft and inviting, I spent a few hours curled up in it, I’ll tell you. Large closets, well stocked mini fridge area, big bathroom. All done in woods and stone and glass. An office area for hubby to do his conference calls and business. Nothing was an afterthought. Everything was warm, yet elegant.

Our morning was spent packing and smiling because we knew that we had loved this place.  The sun was out. Our trip would be dry. And it was the perfect end to our adventure in a truly breathtaking spot in this world.

 

 

 

The Stranger


No intro needed…

 

The Stranger.

 

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Sick Kids Rock…


Yes. I said it. I have a soft spot in my heart for the magic moment when my kids get sick. Now let me clarify… There is a difference between “Mom, I don’t feel good. Can I stay home from school?” And “barf, I just threw up!”

Here is the difference: The whining. THE WHINING!

when said child is not feeling well, all I hear is the reinforcement, in whining voice, that they are sick. In addition to the requests for water, takeout, and wanting the tv shows changed.

But when he/she is truly sick… This is where the magic happens.

My independent child goes QUIET. Quiet, do you hear?  She/he lays in bed or on the sofa and breathes in and out quietly. It becomes my job, nay, my labor of love, to change out barf bowls, bedding, and wash clothes on foreheads.

Now why on earth would this be a positive???

because my kids are teens. And young adults, that’s why. They spend their days cutting the apron strings and letting me know in no uncertain terms that they can “Do it on their own”.  This can make me proud that they do their own chores, laundry, and school work, but they also down play hugs and back rubs given by me. And they certainly stop initiating it.

So. So, I miss it. And for this reason, I selfishly love that they need me again. Gone is the need to push me away a bit. And in its place is an attitude of gratitude. They accept hugs and even kisses on the forehead. They say thank you for changing the cool wash clothes on their forehead. They are thankful for the medicine and glasses of water, or mugs of tea.

And that is what I love.

So I will take the late nights of staying up with them, and changing of barf bowls. Because what comes with it is the assurance that they still want and need their mom.

🙂

 

 

 

 

Of grieving, living, and fruit…


It’s February now. I have not been back Home to see mom since dad passed away.  I call her every few days, or at least weekly, but it is all small talk, and we never bring him up.

I cry, without fail, after I hang up with mom, but somehow never allow myself to show sadness to her directly. I usually call my youngest sister within that hour. For whatever reason, I can grieve only with her. She lives close to mom and sees her every day.

I feel jealous, or maybe envious, of her.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being alive when my loved one is gone. I mean, I know he was 73 when he went, and he had a very full life and … Blah, blah, blah…I still just wish I could see him, and talk with him again.

i guess this is grieving, right?

for a while, I didn’t let myself cry. Like it would betray his life. Or his memory, I guess. Like I am supposed to remember only the good. He passed away with family and loved ones surrounding him. He was a good man that left behind a legacy of kindness and service. He was a good chess player and advice giver. Stuff like that.

now I cry when I think of him. Or when I don’t think of him first, but then forget I should be thinking of him. I cried on his birthday, and on Christmas. I will cry on my moms birthday.   I am crying now.

it feels good. To have my eyes leak about him. I don’t fully sob, yet. Let’s be clear about that. When I say I cry, I screw up my face and let the tears come, holding in the sobs for another time. I will cry later, I say.

This is how I grieve. Amid live, I guess. I mean, life goes on.That is cruel, sometimes, that life moves and swirls around tragedy and pain. I still notice that the sun comes up. There is still beauty in the world. My kids still need me. I still eat and sleep and watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  And, I still smile.

many things stay the same and are all the sweeter for it. The alarm sounds at 7 a.m. On school days. My husband and I go to Pho on Mondays for lunch. My son sakes for the car, and to stay out late, like clockwork. I can count on those things.

but then there’s the fruit.

odd, but my fruit changed. All of a sudden, and for the first time in my life, our fruit bowl is not full of fresh fruit. It is not arranged with apples, oranges and bananas that get eaten for the first week, and then are left to spoil, only to be thrown out and changed all over.

something as ingrained as fresh fruit has been changed to fruit in a cup. Fruits in cups? Eh… You know what I am saying. Those single servings of mini oranges, mangos, and peaches, all diced and covered in light syrup. Or heavy syrup, if I can find it. (I haven’t found it yet, but am still on the hunt.)

so about 20 fruit cups get deposited every 2 weeks, and are completely devoured, every time.  No one says a word about the change. They just get gobbled up. Why this matters to me is that it is something I have let go of. I don’t know if this is a phase, or it is a new tradition. A tradition of having teens and adults indulge in what is traditionally a kids thing, every day, and fooling ourselves into pretending it is healthy as fresh fruit.

I guess I realize that life is too short to stand on principle alone. Think outside the box, for gosh sakes, at least for a while.  So I coddle my kids when they have food poisoning, instead of leaving them with more room to barf in peace. (They are teens now, I would have figured. They don’t want me smothering them when they are this old.) again, they don’t say a word about it. They just let me in, and coddle me back, I guess. We never speak about what the changes mean, or when they started, but we all know. We all know that when a loved one passes away, some rules just don’t matter.

some customs, and traditions shore us up, but others, like affection and fruit, can be improved upon.

 

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An Update…


Dad passed away on October 7th. Just 2 weeks ago now.
In some ways, it feels like years.
In other ways, I am still in the middle of it.

I see the sunshine seeping in my parents kitchen window. It’s about 2:00 PM, and it’s just that right temperature of warm but not too warm.  I still hear dad breathing hard in the other room, from his hospice bed. He is in the very last hours, and 2 of us kids hold his hands at all times. It’s not my turn. (When it is my turn, I look forward to touching his warm skin, and looking at his face, knowing I won’t have very long to do that.) His breathing gets easier for a bit, then stops. We all count, as we have been told that an apnea can come at this time, stopping the breathing for anywhere from 15-45 seconds. …5, …10, …15, and he takes in a deep breath. We all take a breath, too, and continue our scrabble game.

Yeah, scrabble. We were playing a game while my father was dying. We had been looking over and after him for 5 days straight, and as neighbors, friends, and relatives came to say their goodbyes,  or dropping off cards and food and hugs, well at some point we just realized that it was ok to do something other than watch the man die. It didn’t mean we loved him any less. In fact, it was probably a relief for him to hear some laughter and gossip coming from the next room, like in old times. (You should probably know that dad got 5 daughters, and would lament, only half jokingly, that he had somehow upset The Lord for Him to punish dad with so many chattering, laughing, bickering daughters…)

So we went on with our game. QAT was my word, and I got it hooked to a double word score. Woot! And I did woot, right out loud.  We all looked at each other quickly, and then at dad in the other room. And our voices raised even more. It was almost a relief to remember that we were allowed to be living, while he was dying. It was odd, but during this vigil, we still ate meals, and hugged each other, and talked normally.

At first this all felt like a betrayal. How dare I sleep when I should be watching over this dying man! Right? And I could not imagine leaving his hospital bed, whether to go to the bathroom or for food, a walk outside, or to play a game of scrabble. Why should I go do these things when he could not?  I don’t know what I expected. I guess for us to be hush hush around him so he could labor in quiet…. I guess that was it.

Well, life is not tidy.

What happened instead was 8 siblings descending upon the Thornton home, from across all sorts of states, all in various stages of grieving. The one thing that didn’t happen was quiet. I was stupefied. The house of grieving flipped like a switch. We had a room of crying and whispering. A room of food prep and eating. Then we had a room of catching up and visiting. And, because we are Thorntons, that room turned into a room of laughter and loudness. In all rooms, reverence was gone.

It was the best thing that happened, in my opinion.  Where I had been moping and obsessing before, being exhausted beyond belief, there was now a life and energy renewed.  Instead of literally watching a man die to death, we provided a father and husband with family living and celebrating his life all around him.

We played board games in the kitchen, just a few feet from where his hospice bed was set up.  We played the piano where he could hear his favorite songs. We put Pandora on the iPad and let him listen to the “Tabernacle Choir” channel because he loved the music so much. And it worked

Whatever IT was.

IT spread through the house gradually. Through each room of sadness, IT seeped in and smiled the sadness away. Oh.  The IT was… Peace.

Peace spread through the house and household. It made it ok for us to laugh or cry. It made it ok for us to sleep in, or stay up all nigh with our sweet dad. Peace made it ok for dad to rally at the end, for us.  He came out of the labored sleep he was in, and acknowledged those who were there in the house. He said he loved hearing the music. He touched our faces and let the little ones give him kisses or high fives. He loved our laughter and talking which, he said, just sounded like LOVE.

And that was when I let go of the process looking a certain way.  I was not in charge, and neither was anyone else. Dad’s death was between him and The Lord. My only responsibility was to be part of the peace and love that was family.  And so I did.

He passed away peacefully, between one breath and another, with family around him.

 
 
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