Category Archives: Family

OVERCOME with lessons at the beach (part 1)

While sitting at the beach and during my time there I wrote down lessons I learned and/or observed and want to remember.  In my life I get so busy I forget things that made me pause.  This list is in no particular order and I will elaborate on some and some speak for themselves.  Some are amusing and some deep.  Mind you my list was written on a few sheets from a list from a friend (Thanks Jamie) and my pen is still full on sand and I can’t click it back in.  I am keeping the original lists as a reminder of what is important and tucking them away in my calendar, so as the year gets crazy I can reflect back to the moments at the beach.
1. When you get knocked down get back up for the next wave.  Sam loves to “wrestle” the waves.  They would knock him down and he would get right back up.  He did not lay there and cry or complain or get frustrated.  He stood back up ready to fight the next wave.  How many times do I get knocked down that I sit and complain or whine or have self pity.  Lesson learned – get knocked down – get back up – to keep fighting. 
2.  If you don’t get back up you will drown.  The other danger of not getting back up is the waves will keep coming.  They are not going to stop just because I am down.  Just like life… It isn’t going to stop just because I need to have a pity party. Life goes on and I can choose to lay there getting crashed by the waves of self-pity and get deeper in over my head or get up!  I can choose to drown in my mess because I don’t resolve to just get back up!
3. Never underestimate or undermine someone’s self-confidence.  Shame on me for people watching and busting on people’s swim suits (okay except for the man in the speedos with flames – speedos are just WRONG).   I am great about judging people in their suits because for some reason I believe you should be covered, especially if a certain size. And you can say that is prejudiced, but keep in mind I am a very large girl.  In reality I should be impressed that they have the self confidence to wear that suit.  That they truly don’t care what others think about them.  Instead of me who wears something to cover as much as possible and generally all dark colors.  This year Mary even wore a two piece suit, and as much as I wanted her to cover more (because she is 15 and beautiful), I was proud of her for having the confidence to do that.  There would have been a day she would not have been that secure in who she is! 
4. Don’t instill fear where fear does not exist.  This is a tough one.. Every year at the beach I hold my breath as Sam goes in the waves and goes deeper and deeper without hesitation.  This year I resolved to let my fear go because it didn’t exist in him.  How many times do I stop my children and myself because of fear.  How many things have we missed out on as a result?  How many grey hairs did I add to my head.  The other ironic thing is I say I trust God, BUT fear is a sign that I do not.  This year on day one I watched as Sam mastered the waves with a smile – some he went under, some he went over, and some he let him full force.  As a result of letting go of the fear I was able to watch in awe instead of fear and hands over my eyes (and missing the moment).
5. Don’t waste time on what is NOT important and/or can’t be changed – this especially includes worry.  How many times do I worry about things instead of dropping them at God’s feet and letting them go.  How many times do I sit in worry instead of getting up and doing something?  At the beach I briefly starting thinking of things that were stewing in my mind, my to-do list, work issues, etc… and realized by worrying about those things I was robbing myself of that precious time with my family at the beach.
6. Don’t waste other people’s time – it is important too!  I find myself getting people wrapped up in my trivial issues.  Or to be very honest, wrapped up in my complaining, gossip, etc…. I am robbing them of important time. 
7. If you are going to wear a suit – get wet.  I use to be the parent who just sat at the beach and watched my children.  I am the parent who often doesn’t even pack a suit at a hotel with a pool.  Last year at the beach I was great at digging holes in the sand.  This year I resolved I would be an active participant not just the picture taker (although I juggled both this year).  Every day I was in the ocean, digging holes, and I even swam in the pool.  I can get consumed with the fact that I am still fat.. consumed with what I want to do (I.e. read) or I can build memories (and holes and castles).  My family knows my size and well no one else really matters (see #3)
8. Church is where ever God is! We routinely go to a physical church on Sunday mornings.  However, my two Sundays sitting at the beach watching the waves just coming so far up the sand and stopping by HIS DESIGN, was like church in 3D!  That time at the beach refreshed my soul and spirit.  Hurricane Arthur developed while we were there and the night before warnings were out, the beach was cleared of many items, and I walked down to the water and took a video.  The waves crashing one after another and stopping at my feet was magnificant.  I met God at the beach… and need to work on meeting him more (like sitting on my porch listening to the birds) and not just the motion of Sunday mornings in a structure.  Because to be honest, on Sunday mornings, my mind is not always willing / open to truly “experience church”.

Okay… I have many more things on my list, but many things to accomplish today… so part two lessons from the beach hopefully tomorrow!

In honor – live louder… love harder… dream bigger….

I have been blessed to be a nurse for over twenty-years of my life.  As I type that very sentence I actually am crying over the lives that I have taken care of.  Many of my years were in bedside nursing with cancer patients.  They were always so grateful for the care you provided them, but in reality the gratitude was from me.  They touched my life in ways I could never explain.  Their courage, their strength, their resolve is second to none.  They opened their hearts completely, because when you know your diagnosis can lead to death, you really have NOTHING to loose.  However, we are all going to die with or without a cancer diagnosis.

I mentioned in my last blog about the four women I know fighting cancer, and one lost that fight just a day after my blog.  It truly breaks my heart.  I didn’t really know her well, but I know that she had an amazing family and children that she left behind as she walked through the gates of heaven. She was a nurse and I am sure she will be met not just by family and friends, but all the lives she cared for that preceded her to heaven.  I know how hard loosing a mom is and cry at just the thought of the pain.  I know how hard my mom’s death was on her mother (Grandma Frazee) and my dad.  But, I cling to the many memories of my mom and the life she lived and taught me.

I held the hands of many patients and their families through diagnosis, through treatment, and death.  In fact, I can close my eyes and see the room number and give you names.  When I worked at the bedside it was easy to remember how fragile life was, as I had the daily reminder.   I still see some patients that I cared for in the community or recently when someone was visiting a family member.  I saw him and knew his face and even his room number.  He laughed.  Those I don’t see physically I can close my eyes and see I could honestly name hundreds and the memories we shared.  Maybe I need to close my eyes a little more often to remember them and to honor them.

As I mentioned, we are all guaranteed death.   Most patients would say how the diagnosis was the wake up call for priorities.  I have also taken care of trauma patients who never got the “Wake up call’ but were still faced with a life altering event.  The hardest were probably the ones who did not survive an unexpected event (trauma, heart attack, stroke, etc..) and never had the chance to say everything, do everything, reprioritize, etc.   I think of even my mom, whose life was taken early. But prior to her life being taken, so was her walking and ability to care for her family and herself.

I see death many days still in my nursing career.  I also have 3 close friends/family diagnosed with breast cancer just this year.  However, so many days of my life I live like it cannot happen to me.  I don’t live to the fullest.  I hold back on dreams and desires.  I waste hours each week on things that will not matter.  I get wrapped up in drama that is not necessary.  I let too much time pass before I reach out to family / friends.  I let my heath go because of course obesity and diabetes won’t kill me.  I let my life and home be cluttered by things that hold no value. I hold back on my hugs, love, and laughter.  I don’t slow down as much as I need to.  I get absorbed into the daily news and let it depress me.  I don’t make the memories because I don’t have time (really I don’t make time).  My priorities are often out of order.  The list continues…

Why is it I often need the BIG events to wake me up and re-evaluate.  I have many in my memory bank.   But, unfortunately, I quickly get back into the daily rhythm of life and go back to living my daily life and throwing away many precious moments.  I have always felt I should not let someone’s diagnosis or death be in vain.  I love seeing fundraisers for a great cause, scholarships established in honor of a loved one, etc.    Their life, their fight, their battle should be my wake up call.   For my mom, I should walk everyday and praise God that I can.  For those who are no longer here, I should hug more, love more, and make sure my words and actions count.   I have watched my friends with breast cancer continue to praise God through the storm while being honest of how tough the battle.  I should let their battle permanently stamp an imprint on my heart to LIVE LOUDER, LOVE HARDER, HUG TIGHTER, DREAM BIGGER, DO BETTER, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

My prayer, Dear Lord, is first you comfort those who has a loved one who now resides with you.  Wrap your loving arms around them so tight they can feel your breath.  May their life and those who continue the battles, the struggles, be a daily/constant lesson and reminder to me that life on this earth and in this body is temporary.  Help me honor them by living my life  intentionally to the fullest without excuses.  May the close of every day I reflect and know I honored them, my family, my friends.  That I was in fact a good and faithful servant.  And anytime I slack into my old ways, may I be (gently) reminded of the preciousness of every moment.  Thank you for new mercies everyday. 

Lessons from my children

If this blog were a box of tissues I could fill it on many days.  Well, after some much recent discussion with a good friend, I realize how much I put on the “it’s fine” face, “I am strong” face, “I have it under control” face.  How often I am not just real with the world because then I look weak, out of control, and appear to need sympathy.  I also then have to face my own questions I ask when people say they have a problem and I think “what have you done to fix it?”

Emotions are a very touchy subject in our home.  We have worked a lot with Sam and teaching him “socially acceptable” reactions to things as much as possible. However, there are times; even at Idelwild that all it took was a look at his face and know a meltdown was fast approaching.  When he has had all he can take (the triggers vary), can’t be perfect in his mind, or is faced with a frustration, it is a meltdown.  He doesn’t stuff his feelings but just pours them out.  At times, he can put words to the emotion (he has come so far) and others it is beyond words.  When the meltdowns happen I am usually okay, but times I probably secretly want him to learn how to hold them in when we are in public so others don’t see.  That is truly not because I want to stifle him, but I don’t want his weaknesses bared for others to take advantage of him (kids thinking he is an easy target since a “cry baby”  and adults thinking “what is wrong with him” ) But in reality there is nothing “wrong with him”, Sam is the REAL DEAL and I am a fake.   While he lets the frustration out, he generally quickly moves on to a happier place.  Sometimes we just have to walk away.  He doesn’t harbor the feelings but moves forward.

I have taught Mary to be more like me in more ways than I probably should have.  Granted, she can pour it all out to / against me – especially in our heated “devil advocate” conversations.  But, it is never disrespectful to me just being honest.  However, I have taught her in other situations that if you show them how you feel – THEY WIN!  She can be so much more emotional than I am, and at times that is so hard.  It is hard for me to guide her because I don’t know often what to say or how to say it.  Recently, we talked about a situation and she said another phrase that has stuck in my head (note a reminder of the last thing that sunk into me was something like just because other people have bigger problems does not make my problems any less important).  She said something along the lines (with tears)  of what hurts most is believing that everything we shared together is able to be thrown away, like it never happened and meant nothing.  My suggestion was to her to be honest and say it.  Her reply, but then they will know I am hurt and they win.  MY WORDS of teaching her to be strong and overcome situations so the other person/people do not see the real you… don’t let them win.  My crappy advice has taught her not to be real with her emotions.  It also taints her world that when you are honest with someone you care about that they would honestly be cruel enough to be glad they caused hurt.  And I can think of some situations that I did not save the relationship because I wasn’t honest on how much it hurt.  It honestly makes me cry.  It is hard to see your child hurt and even harder to see them not feel they can express themselves honestly ,especially if it is because of something you taught them.  When you don’t express them you stuff them and they weigh on your heart everyday.  Unlike Sam and just moving forward.

I use to be real when I was a bedside nurse.  Rarely would a day go by that I wouldn’t cry with or for a patient.  I am not sure when the switch got changed.  Maybe all the years of infertility while others around us had children, and I faked I am fine. Maybe it was all the years of being strong watching my mom waste away because I didn’t want her to worry about me.  Maybe it is cumulative life events.

For me, if I loose it emotionally then I have lost control, but who am I kidding, there are very little things in life I could say I have under control.  Some believe tears are a sign of weakness, and I would have to disagree because I have seen my dad cry and he is my pillar of strength.  I will openly cry in public at a funeral of a loved one.  However, crying for me is a loss of control.  It places me at risk for what others to believe something differently about me than I want them too.  So maybe it is life events, or maybe it is just one of the few areas I feel like I have control of – my tears.

Is it really better to not show them the real you, even if you risk having your heart on your sleeve and you get hurt?  Or is it better to be fake and not let people into the real you?  I guess there are consequences to either situation, but my heart says to take the risk and be real.  It may in fact mean that I may feel the other person “wins’ by seeing my weakness, but in reality, I win for being true to myself.

When I am not honest and don’t let friends know I am having a hard time, my husband know I am having a hard time, etc.  I rob them of the chance to pray for me.  I know I love getting a text, email, private message that just says they need a prayer, so I can lift them up.  Why am I not so honest to let others lift me up.  Granted the “big stuff” they know about (illness, deaths in family, etc…), but as Mary so wisely spoke the little things are often just as important!  p.s. this does not mean I have to expose/disclose on Facebook (LOL)

In life, you are suppose to teach your children, but I have quickly learned that Mary and Sam have taught me more about life, myself, and a whole different view than I could ever blog about.  How is it that I can look at either of my children and recognize the sign that they have had enough, but I can look in the mirror at my own reflection and keep stuffing in more and don’t even recognize the signs?  To watch Sam be so honest with words, feelings and emotions is humbling.  To watch Mary mature and speak words of wisdom to me is indescribable.  I have a lot to learn from them both… starting with be careful that my words and actions (of things I don’t like about myself) don’t come creeping out of their mouths and their actions.  Also, I could definitely be a lot more like Sam and be completely honest about my emotions.   I always joke with Mary “doesn’t it stink when you open your mouth and your mother’s words come out?”  Although, I realize now there were times they were not my words.  I think my principle should be “Isn’t it awesome when I open my mouth and my children’s words come out”!

Fearfully and wonderfully made….

Yesterday, I woke and made the mistake of opening Facebook before I head out for a busy day of therapies and errands.  The article read about vaccines causing Autism.  Well, then I dwelled on it all day.   I intentionally did not share the link.  Here is where I am in life.. please remember this is MY PERSONAL BLOG, my personal opinions, and you do not have to agree!

I honestly can’t go back and say the moment when I thought things changed and our son became “autistic” because I was so involved in living a crazy busy life that little details passed me by I suppose.  I could easily let the guilt of not knowing that moment like many moms know consume me.   But that leaves me stuck in the past and in a puddle of guilt.  As a working mom, I assure you, I could beat myself up most days for a choice I have made from what I have allowed them to eat for breakfast (or not eat any), for allowing a poor choice of clothing for the weather, for not having the house spotless… I could give you a list.  And, if I couldn’t give you a list, I am sure someone on the outside would be willing to provide you my shortcomings.  But I intentionally choose to count my blessings every day despite the guilt I could wallow in.

I can also tell you that every article that has been released about something a mother did prior to the pregnancy or during the pregnancy that lead to autism, I have read and wept.  Wept because there was a chance that my face fit that description and I was to blame…

We also totally delayed diagnosing because our son is high functioning and I didn’t want the label if he could “overcome” and fit in.  We treated symptoms for years by private paying high dollars for many therapies.  I remembering reading a book out Aspergers and realizing how many pages defined him.  I remember hearing the words and thinking what could I have done differently. I beat myself up for not diagnosing sooner and questioned if we would have would things have been different… oh the guilt!

When we go in public and he is with other children I always feel obligated to explain why he is different.  I feel like it would be easier to but an “A” t-shirt (like Alvin wore in the chipmunks) – it often feels like the scarlet letter.  I often get tired of trying to explain and just internally cry.  It isn’t that he isn’t amazing, because he is.  It is because as a society many have set a standard of what “fits in” and we don’t fit that definition.

I struggled when I decided to home school.  Our daughter was an easy decision because she is a self learner.  Our son loves recess and researching things he loves.  I had many question my ability and dedication.  I questioned my ability (not dedication).  But we decided how much time was being wasted with the current school system (note NOT THE TEACHERS but the system)  for therapies and adaptations to fit in the I.E.P.  It was just like his early childhood and our insurance who did not pay for “developmental issues” and we resolved to make sure he had them without the system.

Speaking of the insurance company, since Autism falls under psychiatric diagnosing it does not have to pay for any therapies or care.  I have so battled that system because they even make him not “fit in” to their definition.  I am tired of him not fitting in and it gets exhausting to continue the fight!

I can tell you I will advocate for our children.   When public figures dishonor autism by thinking it is okay to lump autism and retarded in the same sentence.  Did my little voice have anything to do with the public apology and removing the line from their song.  I will never know, but in my heart I let them know it wasn’t okay.  The time Time Magazine put on the front cover about Autism being the New Crazy, a letter went in the mail with his picture because I wanted them to look at him and say he was crazy.  When I fought with my insurance, a picture of our son because I needed them to know who they were denying – not just another number.  Did it change anything, no, but I needed a voice for our son.

So back to the article….  I have intentionally chosen NOT to focus on WHY he has autism.

I am tired of

  • the guilt of feeling like it was something I did or didn’t do – should I have refused the vaccinations, avoided something during pregnancy, somehow helped his decelerations during childbirth, noticed something sooner.  I intentionally choose not to live that guilt anymore, but every time an article comes out it puts that rock in my gut again.
  • beating myself up when I hear how awesome other kids are doing in therapy or in their diet, etc.. and think what should I be doing differently.  I keep my own bruises from the beatings totally concealed with my “we are fine” face.
  • people pointing out to me the flaws he has either by telling me or that silent glare I sometimes get in public.  I know his quirks.  I live with him 24/7.  I am working on his quirks (speech and OT, etc), but so ready for people to ACCEPT him just as he is.  Fitting in is NOT all that it is cracked up to be!

By questioning why he has Autism makes me feel like our family is so much better and don’t deserve a hardship.  When in reality, our family is so awesome that God knew we could handle this.  He trusted him to us to give him a life that another family could not offer.

When I focus on WHY, I miss out on the WHAT he is in our life for.  To teach us some beautiful lessons about honesty, love, compassion, and his many other gifts (his memory for one).

I choose to believe that just as God knows the number of hairs on our head, just as God knit us in the womb, God knit autism into our son for a very special purpose. It is my job as his mom to help him fulfill that special purpose in my life and help him become exactly who he is meant to be.

If I hold onto what might have been without his autism… hold onto how can I fix him… hold onto how can I make him fit in… I will miss out on all the blessings and amazing discoveries I have everyday when I look into his face or hear his stories.  I have a friend who says it perfectly – everyone needs a Sam in their life.  Our family would not be the same without all the quirks, and I am quite biased in believing we have a great family.

I just started reading a book called In Between and how we are so focused on waiting for the big moments in life that we miss all the little things, the little blessings in between.

So, you will not see on my facebook about what may have caused autism (NOTE do not hold it against those who post this or need an answer to why because that is where they are in there life). I intentionally choose to look forward and  feel blessed that God entrusted us with him… and save my energies for battles for him… and find things that encourage me as a mom that despite other peoples opinions that he is great just exactly as he is….

 I praise you because OUR SON is fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. ”  Psalms 139:14

Blessings in reflecting

It has been a few weeks since we returned from vacation and last Wednesday, I text Jim asking if he was ready to go back.  I told him I could be ready by 5 pm to leave.  We chuckled because as much as we would love to, life isn’t that simple.  But I literally started working the day I returned from beach and felt like the running has not stopped.  Dental appointments, work, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc… I have been surviving in the one day at time mode.  Which, is fine in some areas of life, but not so great when running and juggling work and family and self.  Guess where the juggling fails?  Generally first self, then family, and last my work.  I know that is NOT how it should be, but can honestly tell you that is how it goes.

The beautiful thing about the beach is it places everything into perspective — live a simple life with minimal “stuff” for one week as a family.  There is no work to focus on.  Only things to deal with is admiring God’s beautiful creation AND our beautiful family.  I was able to focus on the positive qualities of my husband without all the daily demands – like him swimming in the indoor pool with the kids, making sandcastles in the sand with Sam, taking Sam into the deeper water, defending our family when we were not being recognized at a restaurant, and never loosing his cool (except when defending our family).  I was able to focus on letting Mary be a little more responsible and loosening my control, and that is FAR from easy.  I was able to focus a lot of time with Sam because Mary didn’t really need me and Jim gets in his “beach zone”.  We built big pits for dinosaurs with tunnels and waterfalls.  We hung out at the playground areas, etc…  I was also able to reconnect with my best friend from childhood and her two sons.  Amazing times!

But even life at the beach was not perfect, even though I so wanted a perfect vacation.  One issue consumed parts of my first days there.  It takes a lot to get to the there with me, because I am usually one who believes suck it up and move on… or figure out in the big picture it isn’ that big of deal… or no one is going to steel my joy because then they win.  But I let it.  I let something that was out of my control take control over my thoughts.  I let my disappointment from someone else’s choices consume me.   Let’s just say communication is imperative in life.  I finally exploded and let it all out and chose NOT to let it consume me and our vacation.  I was in a beautiful place with my wonderful family, but my mind and heart was overshadowed at first.  When going on vacation, it is important to leave bad and heavy luggage and life issues at home!

The second issue was with a slap of reality.  I know our son’s quirks, but it is not until I see him with other kids his age that the quirks are magnified.  Unfortunately, in the wrong groups, those quirks are magnified to kids and he becomes a target.  Almost daily I became a bouncer in some sort of situation.  I so wanted to let my guard down and believe that bullies just didn’t exist at the beach.  One day a little boy, who reminded my of Sam and his quirks, started talking to him and they were doing great re-enacting Sponge Bob… until the bigger brother came along and was really mean to his little brother and to Sam.  Well, that quickly ended.  The day we were at the pirate ship and it was four boys who thought they could push him in the sand and he could always be “it”.  Sometimes I would just feel the tears trickle.

A couple things stood out at the beach for me.  The one day as Jim and Sam built a sand castle they were a little too close to the tide and it would come in and wipe out parts of the castle.  Some days that would have led to meltdowns, but that day, Sam just kept building with his dad.  The foundation of the castle remained intact even as the waves crashed in and knocked a wall down. I PRAY that our family will always be that firm foundation for our children.  When the waves of life come crashing in on their hopes and dreams, that the foundation we have created stands firm in their lives.  I pray that we can be there to help them rebuild the walls time and again.

Another lesson was my search for shells.  I love the broken ones just as much as they are usually smoothed out from crashing in the sand time and again.  Most of my shells I found were broken, but beautiful.  So many times, I want the perfect life without the crashing waves and without getting rammed into the sand time after time.  I definitely hate to watch my children endure bullies who crash their spirits and ram them time and again.  However, I PRAY that the waves do not leave scars on me or my children, but build our character and make us smooth and beautiful.

Of note, I did find one huge perfect shell one day.  I had seen the shell but initially thought it was a crab (we saw a few of those too), because I had never seen that large of a shell in the ocean in Virginia Beach.  When I realized it was a shell, I kept my eyes open and tried a couple times to capture it, including getting wiped out on my face once by a wave.  It disappeared and then Sam and I went out in the water and as we were out past the waves crashing I felt something large under my foot (of note yelled thinking a creature).  Then realized it was a shell – the very one I had my eye on. Amazing!  When I was looking for it, I remember how many other shells I let passed by and they may have just been as beautiful.  How many times in my life do I get so focused on one thing / end result / solution, that I may in fact miss something even more beautiful / better / perfect for my life?

The last lesson for this blog is that even the smallest of prayers are heard.  I mentioned in my last post that sometimes I feel like asking for prayers when others are going through so much is hard.  Anyway, Sam had decided to take 2 Spidermen to the beach and we dug our huge hole with tunnels, etc… When it was time to go back to the hotel, he realizes he is missing one.  Okay… it is fourth of July, the beach is packed people to people, and he has NO idea where he lost it at first.  After the melting down, he explains a tunnel we had dug had crashed in.  Jim and I dug frantically and never found him. Back the room was a broken heart boy, a frustrated dad, and a defeated mom.  I even prayed while digging that we could find it.  I was prepared to order a new one and have shipped to the hotel (no parental judgment about just teaching him a lesson to take better care of his toys).  I had been the one who told him they would be okay to bring to the beach and felt horrible.  I also sort of felt defeated because my prayer was unanswered at that time and God, I believe, knows exactly how hard it is for Sam.  The next day, Sam had NO desire to head to the beach, but eventually gave in.  As we were setting up our tent, I looked over to the left and thought I saw something red in the sand.  I walked over and brushed off a layer of sand and found SPIDERMAN! (of note, I found my big shell that same day and Jim said we should have gone to play the lotto – lol. To me, finding Spiderman was better than winning the lottery!).   I learned He hears our prayers… and knew exactly how and when to answer… I need to learn to work on my mustard seed faith!

So blessed to go to the beach… and so blessed to reflect on that time.  Until next year (unless I can convince Jim otherwise)….

Some big shoes to follow in…

I wanted to get this written for my dad’s birthday… but couldn’t make it through it. So here is for a second chance.  I am so blessed to have my dad still in my life…  This list is by no means in any particular order…

My dad and mom had routine time out together, often by bowling, and would take one of us along with them.  The rest of us got to stay at Pap and Grandma Frazee’s

My dad taught me about work ethic – i.e. you never miss work!   He was a faithful employee who rarely missed even when juggling all the many roles in his life.  He worked more than one job often from his full time job as an electrician to picking up extra work as a milk truck driver, paper route, etc.  He took care of his family.

Family time was important and so was time together with your wife.  I remember many rides on the snowmobiles as a family.  I also remember the buggie we had that had a cart on the back where the boys rode and I rode up front.  We would go various places.  I also remember the annual camping trips with the church.  One of my favorite things would be the Sunday drives and we would leave and end up who knows where and sing songs in the car together.  He has an incredible voice (can be a little, actually a lot scary, if he yells – Lol)

Speaking of church – we rarely ever missed.  If there was too much snow we would all dress in our snowmobile clothes and still made it.  He served various leadership roles in the church and was also a Sunday School teacher.

He taught us great values about honesty… I will never forget the time that my brother and I “borrowed” money from our other brothers’ banks to buy these plastic tool boxes from Humberts store.  Well, I remember the look on his face today and the disappointment in his voice.  A lesson I will carry forever.

My dad didn’t just take care of my mom, but also her mother and father.  After Pap Frazee died he stepped up to help Grandma with coal, jobs around the house, transportation (and taking Grandma and Mom together was no easy job – lol).  He loved all of us unconditionally (but did expect us to follow the rules “as long as you are under his roof” LOL.  When my brother shared custody of the boys, they practically lived at dad and moms with us.  My dad would make runs with my brother to go get the boys from Florida with no questions asked.

When I gave up my nursing scholarship at LibertyUniversity to stay home to help take care of mom, I was blessed to get accepted into WVU and rode everyday to work with him.  Sometimes the rides were quiet, he has often been a man of little words, and other times we would talk. Although, he is usually quiet he has some great military stories.

He does have a little stubborn streak, which I have likely inherited.  I remember all the times I have been blessed to use my nursing skills to help take care of him.  It is just a small payback for all he has done for me.

He taught me the value of companionship.  After my mom passed away, we tried to surround him with us so he would not be lonely.  In fact one afternoon, the October after she passed, he spent the whole day helping me bake sugar cookies in the shape of ribbons (i.e. each cut, we didn’t have a cookie cutter) and helped put the pink icing in honor of Breast Cancer.  I used them for my job so we made hundreds.  But he needed someone more than us, and I am thankful that he has Karen to be with, travel with, etc…  He so deserves happiness if anyone on this earth does!

When they (Dad and Karen) talked about selling their house and mentioned moving to the south, my gut sank and I lost a lot of sleep.  I will ALWAYS support them in their decisions if it will truly make them happy, but do I NOT have to like them.  I want to be there for him (and for Karen) when they need me.  If they would move too far, that would make it quite difficult for me to get there.  I know I am not the best daughter and probably don’t go down often enough… I know I let the craziness of life and kids gets me distracted and not realizing how much time may have passed since I saw them.  But maybe I take it for granted they are just down the road!

So now is the really sobbing part… my dad taught me everything about marriage, commitment, and unconditional love.  He married my mom with already 2 small boys… he lived next to her parents and helped faithfully on the farm… My dad NEVER walked out when that would have been the easiest thing to do.  People who did not visit or take care of my mom have NO idea what my dad did for her.  From working fulltime and picking up extra jobs to help support the extra costs, to doing the laundry (including all the urine soaked towels), to lifting my mom in/out of bed, to cooking all the meals, to helping her get dressed, to eventually help feed her.  The conversation of her going to a nursing home never entered the picture.  He served her every hour that he wasn’t at work.  Not just for a short time but for YEARS.  He sacrificed his life, his hobbies (bowling together), their friends (because people stopped visiting and they couldn’t go there), etc… to be sure she was cared for.  We would still try to take Sunday drives and the brave man even took Grandma Frazee too.  He truly cared for both of them and helped Grandma to be able to keep living in her home as long as she did.   I helped when I could, but it was NOTHING compared to what he did for her, and I am a nurse and a daughter.  He rarely complained when he had every reason to.  He could have walked out, but he chose to stay.  He taught me that walking out is just not an option.  So if/when they (dad and Katen) need help, they can count on me because my dad has made so many deposits into my life and in caring for my mom that I will forever be in his debt!

I am sure there is more that will come to me after I post this blog… after all how do you contain the description of your hero to just one blog… My dad’s actions spoke louder than any words he could ever say.  And I know to this day, that if the world would all walk out on me…He would still be there.

Thank you… just isn’t enough…  All I know is I have some big shoes to follow if I ever live up to his… ( =

Teaching about Life

I posted a picture today on my Facebook that I saw several days ago and cried.  Maybe it was because of the timing of the picture and Sam just celebrated his 10th birthday.  In case you missed the picture it said ‘I couldn’t wait to teach him about the world, Instead he taught me about life!”  And I still sit here and cry when I read that.

When we had our little girl I thought the stereotypical ribbons, dresses, tea parties, Barbies, dress up, dance…. And well she fit into so many!  I remember her dressing in her princess dress up clothes to go to visit my work on my days off, often complete with a crown and a wand.  And over the years, she has turned into an amazing young lady who still has “girly phases’ and others dresses in her dad’s camo coat and a hat with a pony tail.  Though I taught her about the world, she taught me to look at life differently.  She just completed a research paper for school on what she wants to be when she graduates.  A young lady on a mission and the beginning of well thought out plans,

When we had our little boy I thought the stereotypical ballgames, riding bikes, boy scouts (after all Jim was a troop leader when we didn’t have any children), etc.  But Sam’s drum sounds a little different.. it is trains, Godzilla, dinosaurs, action figures  – which are all “boy” things, but no sports, no bikes.   It isn’t something I usually discuss or dwell on, but there are days it is hard.  I often say I am thankful he isn’t into things because it simplifies my life, which is partly true.  The other part by being grateful for the positive makes the negative hurt a little less.  When I have to help him do things that other kids at 10 can do for themselves, it scares me a little and stings a little because I don’t know what his future will be.  I talked yesterday to someone yesterday about how it was just a couple years ago that he could finally express if something hurt.  I watch him struggle with speech and little things that come so easy to most.  I guess only time will tell.

But one thing I know for sure, that through Mary’s eyes AND Sam’s eyes, I have learned a lot about LIFE!  Mary and I have some GREAT conversations about her view and my view on things.  I love to take the devil’s advocate role just to make her think outside of her world.  I also have a bad habit of being a people pleaser / peace maker (probably a whole separate blog) and have seen myself try to push that on her.  Well, she isn’t so much either of those anymore and has become ‘Mary” instead ( =    Anyway, she recently said something to me and it was the light bulb moment for me  with her… it went something like this ‘Just because my problems /issues don’t seem as big as someone else’s does NOT make them any less important.”  (or something very close).  In life, and in nursing, I learned the customer is always right.  Life isn’t about outdoing someone else by having a bigger problem.  Nor, should it be about undermining someone else problem as being less than mine.   She is definitely teaching me about life as she navigates hers, and though there are times I wish she would conform to my thoughts (less arguing), I am so thankful she has learned to just be ‘Mary”.

Sam has so taught me about life… about the power of being 100% honest because he can’t conceptualize a lie in the black/white world.  He has taught me not to take life so seriously, but to laugh about the little things.  He has taught me that even Sponge Bob has great phrases that can fit nicely into socially acceptable phrases.  His memory is amazing and serves him well to survive in the world.  He has taught me how simple things are not always so simple and should never be taken for granted.  It is okay to meltdown as long as you pull yourself back together and continue on!  His imagination and how he sees life is brought out in pictures, expressions, or building of a new adventure.  There is never just one use for an item, but a hundred if I just “think outside the box.”  Just yesterday with all the rain we have the big puddle formation.  He found a ‘family of rocks” and brought them into our garage as “guests”.  He carefully laid out a paper towel for each to sit on.  That family had races to the puddle and then came back in to dry off and keep warm.  As he talked more, it became a lesson to me on family and how he views family.  There would have been a day I would have been so busy with getting the garage worked on that I wouldn’t have really listened.  Samuel was teaching ME on what is important to him – family, warmth, safety, and fun… All with four little rocks (and then when Melissa came for Mary, he found a fifth rock).

Both our children have taught me about life by beating their own drums and dancing to their own music…Sometimes we are in rhythm and sometimes a little off-key.  They teach me to be ME and shut out the world’s expectations.  I am learning to believe it is better to STAND OUT than try to fit in.  I can dwell on the expectations I thought would happen, or live a better life with a better plan God had for me.   Though the future is uncertain and at times scary, it is more important to Intentionally LIVE in the moment…