Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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It’s my birthday!

Katie here. Mama said it was OK for me to hijack her blog cause it’s not every day that it’s my birthday. I know I get spoiled every day, but that’s not the same thing. That’s just what’s due me as a princess.

Obviously.

We got sunshine!

But today, Saturday December 15, is my birthday! I am now a big mature girl of 12. Mama says I am too old for cake and ice cream and presents and that I should be happy to just go to my park for a birthday walk.

Does she think I’m going to buy that?

Whatcha mean no presents mama!

Well…going to a park for a walk is my most favorite thing to do. But geeze, mama already took me to two different parks this week. So she’s going to have to up the ante a bunch to make it a special enough walk to qualify as my birthday adventure.

Do I get an extra treat for standing up here?

The pictures I’m posting today are from our two walks. One was last Tuesday when we had our one day of sun. Mama said we shouldn’t waste it and we hurried right over to my park.

It was extra cold that day so I was very very happy. I trotted around that park like I was a puppy! I love it when it’s cold out. Mama? Not so much.

Yep, the pond’s frozen. Must be winter now.

She was wearing about 50 thousand layers and she was still cold, but she let me sniff wherever I wanted and we stopped to take a lot of pictures (of course).

Mama says it’s very hard to take a selfie with a sheltie. I personally think it’s very hard to take a selfie with a mama.

What’s that over there mama?!

Then on Thursday we woke to new snow all over my yard and mama said we shouldn’t waste that either, so she bundled me up in the car early in the morning before it all melted.

Are you going to make me sit in front of a bunch of stuff again today mama?

I was scared. Usually when we go somewhere in the morning I end up at the vet or the groomer or camp. But this time we ended up at a new park!

There was a nice wide path that had been mowed and it moved through the woods which were covered in the new, wet and sticky snow. It was beautiful!

It was hilly too, mama said we did the equivalent of 6 flights of stairs!

But not as beautiful as me!

I don’t know what I’m getting for my birthday, but mama got a new camera for an early Christmas present and Thursday was her first time taking pictures with it. Of course most of them were of me.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Personally I don’t think she needed a new camera to take pictures of beautiful me. I look good no matter what camera she uses. I can’t help myself.

Which way should we go mama?

But anyway. We had a great time walking through the snow even though the sun didn’t shine until we got home. Mama says that figures. I don’t know what that means but I hope it means we get to go out again soon.

Come ON mama! You are sooooo slow!

Like today, for the promised birthday adventure. Maybe even without the silly camera.

A princess can only hope!

Happy Birthday to ME!


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Release

Contemplating this past week.


It’s been a long and reflective week, beginning Saturday morning when I woke to hear the news that former President Bush had died. My first response was a deep sadness for his family, particularly for his children. My second thought was joy that he was reunited with his beloved Barbara and daughter Robin.

I guess that’s typical, the intertwining of sadness with joy during times like this, the emotions washing up and even overlapping as you maneuver your way through the tasks that must be done to celebrate a life.

Being retired I was able to watch the last journey of the President’s body from lying in state at our Capital to the beautiful ceremony at the National Cathedral and then his flight to Texas and the train ride to his library and final resting place in Houston.

A bit of joyful color in the bleak winter landscape.

And I watched his children and their spouses as they stood time after time watching the transfer of the coffin, on and off planes and the train, into and out of buildings, up and down stairs, all the while being watched by an entire world. Showing their grief or holding it in. Probably exhausted and moving on adrenaline. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, to have such a prolonged and public goodbye.

I’m glad they had a private time together when they said their last goodbye at the library. And I hope today, the day after all the ceremony is done, I hope today they are spending time with each other quietly remembering, laughingly remembering, wistfully remembering.

Looking for simple beauty.

This holiday season will be the first without their parents. To lose booth of them within the same year is so hard. So much change in such a short time, celebrations will never be the same. This year, for sure, will have sad undertones.

But there’s that sneaky joy that will infiltrate too. At times when they least expect it they’ll hear Barbara or George’s voice, telling a story, singing a silly song, laughing at an old joke. They’ll see them in the food they prepare, family favorites or maybe not, if broccoli is on the menu.

But I like broccoli mama!

And little by little, over the months and years there will be more joy and less sad. And best of all, while the sadness recedes, their parents, grandparents, great grandparents will never be far away.

Today as I watch a gentle snow fall and listen to Christmas music I realize that it’s the same for all of us during the holidays. The losses are always there, but the love is always there too.

Let the light shine on you.

My wish for the Bush family is that they spend these precious days together in privacy and peace, certain of the gratefulness of their nation and of the love they will always share within their family. I wish for them a release from the tension and pressure of such a long and public goodbye.

Let your joy show through.

And I wish, for all of you, peaceful holidays too.

Live in the moment.


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Trent’s weekly smile

I’ve been debating what to use for this week’s smiling post. It’s been snowing off and on all week, wet sticky snow that hung around long after it fell.

There was one morning with a bit of sun that just touched the treetops and then it was gone.

We got a lot, and it’s early. Most of us weren’t finished with fall yet. We complained, talked about going South.

What are you talking about mama? I LIKE snow!

And yet.

Katie has been acting like a puppy in this, our first real snow, of the season.

Hurry up mama! There’s more snow over HERE!

So I’m taking the advice of my sheltie-girl and I’m going to go with the flow and say that, believe it or not, this week the snow made me smile.

More than once.

Even without the sun it was still pretty.

And because I’m retired and didn’t have to drive in it I smiled even wider.

Katie is a wise little girl. I should take her advice more seriously.

Headed straight into winter.


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Red bird

Aunt Vi’s funeral was Tuesday. She looked beautiful, and though I know she was no longer there, I have to think she’d have been pleased by how pretty she was.

Pink was her favorite color.

She was so ready to move on to her next chapter that I could only feel relief for her. Still, it was hard walking past her for the last time at the end of the service. “I’ll see you soon,” I thought, words I’d often used as I left after visiting.

It was hard, too, to leave her at the cemetery, amid the piles of snow scraped from the ground to make room for her pink casket.

It was so cold that day.

She hated to be cold, and at the last nursing home she took advantage of having her own thermostat to keep her room toasty warm. Tropical, I used to tell her. “Are you too warm dear?” she’d ask me. “No, I’m just fine,” I’d tell her as sweat ran down my back.

It felt wrong to leave her in the cold now.

I knew she wasn’t really there, that she was already celebrating with family and friends, someplace filled with light and music and love and completeness. I knew this, but still.

A beautiful resting place for a beautiful lady.

And then, during the luncheon, all of us sitting in the rec room of the apartment building she had lived in for over twenty-five years, someone across the table from me exclaimed “Look! A cardinal!”

Sitting in a tree just outside the large windows sat a lone cardinal, staring intently at the goings on inside.

“You know Vi really loved cardinals,” I remarked. “She called them red birds.” The red bird outside moved to a different tree, still watching the people inside.

Maybe…just maybe.

The next day Katie-girl and I headed to Alabama in an effort to get away from the snow and cold. Midway on the trip we stopped in a tiny little town in Kentucky at a riverside park to stretch our legs. I took a short video of us walking along the river and posted it on Facebook. A nephew noted that he heard a cardinal in all the bird chatter I captured. Hmmmm…

I stopped by the cemetery on my way out of town the day after the funeral. The flowers hadn’t frozen.

And today on our final day of driving, at the last rest stop of the trip, Katie and I were walking along the top of a ravine. The sun was shining and we were enjoying it’s warmth when a cardinal swooped down low to a branch very near us and began to sing.

“OK!” I said, under my breath. “OK! I believe you!” And then the bird flew off into the trees. Mission accomplished.

She said she’d try to send me a sign that she was alright. I’d say she got her message across.

Loud and clear.

Buddy and all her birds are with her now.

.


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Randomness

Snow attack on the back yard.


It’s snowing here in lower Michigan. Nothing surprising about that, it is after all early February. They say we’ll get five or more inches and that it will snow all day.

Maybe all weekend.

With the weather forecast in mind I stopped at the grocery store on my way home last night. I and about a hundred of my best friends shopped mindlessly, wandering up and down the aisles not sure what I wanted, not sure what I had at home, just sure that I needed something.

Goldfinch scans his food options.

Pushing my shopping cart across the parking lot into the wind driven snow I noticed a woman in a car driving out of the lot. Something about the way she held her head, or her haircut, something about her made me think, for a moment, that it was Janet Yellen. Her last day as Chair of the Federal Reserve was just last week.

Sometimes things are just upside down.

Obviously, now that she had time, she needed to stock up before the snow arrived just like me. It didn’t occur to me that it was highly unlikely she’d be in my town in rural Michigan on a snowy Thursday night.

This much snow makes me want to drink too.

No, the reason I discounted the whole idea was that certainly Janet Yellen doesn’t shop for her own groceries.

Snow can be very isolating.

Or does she?

It’s warmer in a crowd.