Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Just processing....

Writing things down has always been the way I get problems, worries, conversations that weren't spoken, ideas, memories and other flotsam out of my head. I have never been unable to just pour my heart out and have the stuff in my head and heart just flow out and gain a little bit of peace. When I was first married, I wrote my new husband dozens of letters. He never read them, but they helped me sort out my homesickness, my fears over a blended family, and all sort of problems I was scared to talk about. 

When my dad died, there was so incredibly much I wanted to say, that almost no words would come to mind. He was so big, so MUCH, and so incredibly dear that I couldn't put all of that in words. Instead, I have cycled through this weird state  by listening to my favorite music. First lots of Christian music, then adding some of Dad's music in (which, to be honest, is most music - he really loved music) to see if I could tolerate hearing it. Sounds dramatic, but what can I say?  Our music director at church told us during the funeral planning that lyrics would have a greater meaning now. He's not wrong. 

Anyway, I was sitting here, having a normal day. Dentist, school, lunch - and my little girl puts on Ed Sheeran. Not music I associate with my dad in any way, really. But the lyrics had me in tears in seconds and all sorts of precious memories come flooding at me and I got scared that I would forget, or that my kids would not know the stories. So, I pull up my old blog that I haven't touched in years. I need to find a way to make sure they can keep this somehow.

One time, when I was 6 or so, we had a huge snowstorm. It might have been the blizzard of '77....but my dad and our next door neighbor built us a giant snow fort. It was HUGE and I honestly thought it must be just like an igloo. My dad's barely contained glee at any fun or adventurous thing is what I tend to remember most about any story  - his grin when he sees your reaction.

Another time, I was in bed, supposed  to be sleeping when I spotted the biggest, hairiest spider ever known to man. It was terrifying, so I screeched and screeched. Boo, in the twin bed next to mine, was just as terrified. We heard my dad's feet come pounding up the stairs, with Mom close on his heels. As we pointed out the terrible spider, he dissolved into laughter, showing us the big fuzzy ball that must've come up with the laundry. He chuckled, and co-co bopped us on the head, turning terror into a solid memory.

Speaking of memories, one of my absolute favorite memories is walking with Dad on the beach at Assateague. We were just walking along, getting our feet wet. We came across a horseshoe crab on it's back, it's legs out, waving around. Dad just flipped him over and put him near the water.  This little thing just made me wish that Assateague could last forever, and I told him so. So Dad says to me, "You know how to make a memory, right? How to keep it forever?" We sat down and Dad said, " You just look around. Memorize what you see. Then the things you can smell. Then what you can hear. Freeze the moment in your mind so you can go back to it whenever you want."  I've done this hundreds of times in my life since that moment. Maybe thousands of times. I'd be tempted to say that this was no big deal to Dad, but he was sentimental. He'd gather good memories and hold them close. Family dinners, big events, little tiny moments that no one else noticed but he recognized as significant...he was freezing those moments and keeping them. I'm so grateful that he taught me how to stop and take everything in, and hold it close. I  had the sense even as a little kid that this would be an important skill to have and to now have several of these memories, last moments with my dad, held tight in my memory....

We have this weird phenomenon when people die...we try to paint them in this perfect light. I'd rather remember how people actually were - flaws and all. My dad wasn't perfect, but he was just. He was infinitely kind. He loved with all he had. He was good to people he knew weren't going to be good back. There are so many more things I want my kids to know or remember about my dad. This isn't even near the start of them, but it was just driving me crazy that I couldn't put into words anything about him. It was just plain rude. I have never had a problem pouring my feelings out on paper before. Something about it all was just so much more than I had the capacity to deal with... and yeah, I know, that sounds dramatic. But ya know what? Death is dramatic. He left this giant hole. I mean, I wanted to call him about stupid plants in my front yard the other day but HE'S NOT GONNA ANSWER THE PHONE. Chances are he would've told me to take a picture down to the plant store on 30th and ask those guys, but still. 

So, if my old, old, old blog suddenly pops up in your feed and you are annoyed at a 50 year old woman still being shocked that her dad died and is still mad about it, or sad or whatever is going on in my head on any particular day, please excuse me and go on about your business...I'm just over here processing because it still feels like a tragedy. I know, dramatic. but, I don't bother with lies. It just feels that way.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

To My Babies...

I wrote this way back in 2011, right after I miscarried our identical twin boys. I was scared to post it then....

In the last 16 years of my marriage, I have birthed and lost many babies. The first baby was Matthew. He was our first pregnancy after we got married. His pregnancy was ectopic, which meant that in the end, after running around for a week getting second opinions, I had to have emergency surgery. They were able to save my fallopian tube, but I had lost my baby.
Because God is good, and knew I needed to know my baby was okay, He sent Matthew to me in a dream. He was a beautiful dark haired boy of about 12. He told me his name was Matthew, and that he would be our special intercessor. He would pray for us, and watch over our family. Matthew, I have always, always loved you. I have told your brothers and sisters about you, and they love you, too. Your daddy and I cried when we lost you, and bonded even tighter together after our loss of you.
We got pregnant with our beautiful Mackenzie Rose soon after, in the spring of 1996. We were so thankful when she was born healthy and happy and oh, so very beautiful. She was later diagnosed with WPW, but that is another story for another day.
Jonah Douglas followed soon after, and while had had problems at birth, he was a happy, sweet baby, and we were so thankful for him. Jenna Rhiannon was born just two years after that, and Kolbe Thomas was born two years after. Then our trouble seemed to start.
About a year or so after Kolbe was born, we lost a baby. I had a miscarriage before I even knew I was pregnant. I don't know that wee baby's name, God never told me, but I had a vision of my Matthew bending down to scoop up a little baby, smile at me, and then turn and walk away.
Our sweet Luke Christopher was born in February of 2005, and he was healthy, and smiley, and affectionate. He is and was the sweetest baby ever. We thank God for him and his sweet ways every day.
We lost another baby on the Fourth of July in 2006. I bled and bled for weeks, and finally went to the doctor. The midwife told us we had been pregnant. I had been in so much pain on the 4th, and bleeding, but my mind didn't accept that it was a miscarriage until we were actually told. This time, I saw my Matthew again, holding the hand of a small child, and bending down to pick up a little baby. Smiling at me. I know they are waiting for me.
We got pregnant with our Benjamin in the middle of all of that. He was a huge blessing after a loss. Born gorgeous and healthy, with tons of black hair and a sweet little bump on the side of his little head, where his ears had moved in utero.
Two years later we got pregnant again. This time it wasn't going well. Before we even knew we were pregnant, I again miscarried. And bled, and bled. I was bleeding so much, that your dad took me to the ER. We thought they might have to do an emergency hysterectomy. Instead, they did an ultrasound. They discovered that we had been pregnant with twins, but we had miscarried one, and one sweet little seven weeker was still hanging on. I bled for several more weeks, but our Caleb hung in there. He was born via emergency C-Section on May 20th, 2009. They took him to another hospital, away from me. I spent two nights and one day - 40 hours, away from him, in full panic. I just needed to get to him. I was finally able to be with him in the NICU.  He spent several days in the NICU for meconium aspiration. But he is a healthy, happy baby, and we are so grateful for him.
We avoided getting pregnant for over two years. We were worried that I couldn't safely carry a pregnancy anymore, and we had been through so  much. Well, nature deemed that my cycles were very scattered and uneven, and hard to track. At the end of July, I took a pregnancy test, just to rule it out.  It was positive. I wasn't sure I even wanted to be pregnant. I was scared. Your dad was scared, too. But, things seemed to be going perfectly, no bleeding, I was having morning sickness, everything was happening as it was supposed to.
When we were five weeks pregnant, we found out you were twins. I was shocked, and at the same time, not at all surprised. I had had a dream about twins, and this seemed to be the fulfillment of that dream. We were monitored closely, found a doctor who would let us have a natural birth. We watched you grow, and were so thrilled that you seemed to be growing beautifully. When we saw you at 13 weeks, you were both so beautiful. George was waving at us (we called you 'Baby A') and Gabriel ('Baby B') was doing somersaults. You looked healthy and wonderful. The doctor thought we might be able to see whether you were boys or girls at the next visit.
I was starting to relax, and think maybe everything was going to be okay. You see, for some reason I had been so scared. Because we lost Caleb's twin, or just intuition, I don't know, but I couldn't picture twins. I couldn't "see" that in our future. But, that ultrasound made me think it might be okay. I prayed constantly, day and night for you. I prayed you would be healthy, and that you would both get to be born.
When we went in for the ultrasound at 16 weeks, the ultrasound tech took a very long time, measuring, searching. Your daddy seemed to know right away that something was wrong, but I took a lot longer to catch on. I didn't realize how bad it was until the tech ran out of the room to go get the doctor. When he came in, he searched, too. They couldn't find a heartbeat for either one of you. My heart started to race. I started to panic. I wanted you. I wanted you to be healthy and alive. A scream started in my heart. I haven't been able to cry that scream out yet, so this is my scream. I think I will be screaming for a very long time. I love you so much, and I want you. I feel like I can't find you and that I need to get to you. I want to hold you, and kiss your sweet faces. I feel so desperate for you. Please, please know how much I love you, want you, and need you both.
On Wednesday, October 12, we went to the hospital. I had been lead to believe that I had to have a D&C. That was breaking my heart, because I wanted better for you. I wanted you to get to be born, I wanted to hold you and see your sweet faces. God granted this prayer, because they were able to induce labor. We were in labor with you for 14 hours. You were born naturally, and I got to feel your labor, I think I needed to give birth to you, rather than have you taken from me.
They let us hold you, and we had you blessed. You were so very, very beautiful. George was born first, and just five minutes later came little Gabriel. The nurse, Julie, was very tender with you. She wrapped you both together in a blanket, and let us hold you and look at you. You were so tiny, maybe just fitting in my hand. Boys, with long legs shaped like Yebbi's. You both even looked like him, which is a comfort, because as we watch him grow, maybe we will get glimpses of what you two would have looked like. I touched your tiny hands and feet. I couldn't believe how small you were. Your daddy looked at you, and then Julie took you away to be weighed. She took pictures of you, and wrapped you in a sweet blanket. You each had your own little bunny to hold. Your hand prints are still on those bunnies. I wish I had held you longer. I wanted to bring you home with me, even though you weren't alive. It took everything in me to leave that hospital without you. As they wheeled me out, a lullaby started playing. I was holding a teddy bear, instead of my babies. I miss you so much. I feel like I am going to miss you forever, and I know I will. I miss Matthew, more right now than I have in years, and our other babies, too. I miss you all. I love you all so much, I pray that there is a God. I pray that our Blessed Mother hears me. I need her so much right now. I want her to be holding you, until I can hold you. I have had moments, not many, but a few moments when I just wanted to be with you. I don't know if that is grief, or PPD, or normal, or what. But I have my babies here, who need me, too. I hope and pray that God allows me to raise them. Pray for me, my babies. I need your prayers so much right now. I am struggling with my faith. I am struggling with the loss of you.
The only good thing to come out of all of this, is an incredible closeness I feel with your dad. He is the only person who really knows me. He is the only person I say everything to. He has held my hand every single second since this happened. He held my hand every second in the hospital. He has held me every night while I cried myself to sleep. He has been unbelievably strong, even though I know he is suffering, too. I thank God for him, he has been the only thing keeping me afloat. Him, and your brothers and sisters. Baby Yebbi, and little Ben. They have let me hold them, and hug them, and love them. I am pouring all the love I feel for you onto your brothers and sisters, because you are not here. Please know that if you were here with us, we would all be showering you with all the love you could hold. You were wanted, cherished, loved beyond measure. You still are, my sweet little boys.
Pray for me, my sons. The scream is still aching to be let loose. I am so heartbroken, and I don't know how to fix it. I am clinging to the images I have of you in my heart. I love you. Love, Momma.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Eulogy...

Holy moly. I haven't written anything in this space in nearly two years. That's a bit sad. The reason I am writing however, while a bit sad, is mostly joyful. You may or may not remember me posting occasionally about my grandmother...

Megan Ellis Probert began life on March 16, 1921 as Mary Margaret Ellis, Megan for short. She died Thursday, February 11, 2016 at the very impressive age of 94.
She fell and broke her hip, followed by more falls, hospitals stays and a downward spiral that ended in a nursing home. At some point during all of this, she fell and tapped her head hard enough to create a hematoma, resulting in gradual memory loss. For the last several years, at least 3 or more, she barely remembered any of us. Some of the time she would know my mom, Some days she would recognize me, but think I was her mother. She would often ask after her boys. Sometimes she meant her brothers, other times she meant her sons.

I think we all fell a bit more in love with her during this time. It's easy to love the vulnerable. It's easy to know how she feels about you when she no longer filters her words - and sometimes that was hard and other times it was wonderful.

I think we can all agree that Nain wasn't always easy to love. I'm not sure why that was - she was a little bit tough and a little bit hard. When we look back over the life she's lead, it is not hard to find the reasons she may have guarded her heart a bit. She was born to Welsh immigrants and her early years were during the Great Depression. While that time in her life was hard, she was the youngest of five children, the only girl and the youngest. Her older brothers doted on her. I can remember her bragging about how her brothers worked very hard but always made sure she was dressed to the nines.

Nain met PopPop and  they were married in a quick ceremony right before PopPop left for Europe to fight in World War II. He never even saw my mother until she was a year old. She loved to tell the story of  Megan's birth. The nurse carried her around the hospital so everyone could see how beautiful she was with her bright red curls. When PopPop returned they went on to have Donny, and later Jeff. Nain loved to tell stories about how troublesome they were, and they loved to tell stories about how she locked them out of the house on Wednesdays so she could scrub the kitchen floor.

Nain loved shopping, and college football  - especially Penn State, and had a penchant for a good hotdog. Nain was a fantastic teacher. She taught us all our first dirty joke, how to tell real wood from the fake wood everything is made out of nowadays, how to tell a good grain of leather and the importance of learning how to iron a man's shirt properly. She passed on her good manners, ability to charm and be the belle of the ball. She knew how to sit like a lady,  walk in heels and wear clothes beautifully. She had a wardrobe even her granddaughters loved. She was a true lady, with the killer gams to prove it. She used to tell us all the time that she wore heels because PopPop loved how her legs looked in them.

Nain was generous. She was quick to purchase Girl Scout cookies, fund major purchases and offer any help we ever needed. She shared clothes, books, purses, shoes. Even if you brought her a treat when she was in the nursing home, she couldn't enjoy it if you didn't share it with her.

All the kids have a lot of funny stories about Nain, and I am sure we will be hearing them over the next few days as we prepare to say goodbye to her, but I have a few favorite memories I'd like to share:

~Nain and my mom polishing off the last of the wine every holiday and giggling while they did the dishes.
~Nain reading "Green Eggs and Ham" to Megan #4 a thousand times one Christmas while she was visiting.
~ Mom and Nain making "Sees Candy runs" when we lived in Phoenix. They would go, buy a couple pounds and give each of us one and stash the rest.
~Nain chasing us around with a dustcloth and a bottle of Pledge when we were little, while PopPop encouraged us to touch every surface and press our noses against all the windows - just to get her goat.
~Nain telling stories about her parents, especially her mother.
~Nain promising me she would be down on her knees praying for me whenever I asked her for prayers.
~Nain loved the movies and she and I used to love to go get lunch and see a movie whenever we got the chance. I think those times were the first times I ever really got to know her. One time we went to see a group of Welsh singers at Walsh. She loved that concert and I was so glad I got to experience it with her.
~Nain's constant delight in the fact that there were three, and then four Megans. She loved any time someone would point out all the Megans and would even sign her cards to me: "To Megan #3, Love Megan #1". I loved it as much as she did.

Nain faced a lot of hardship, She lost her son, her husband, her brothers and their wives. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Her husband served in the military and reserves for over 20 years, both sons served during Vietnam. But she had three beautiful children, She has seven grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren.

While Nain may not have been overly affectionate, I think she had something even more important. She was steadfast and true. You never had to wonder where you stood with her, because she left you know up front. Uncommon integrity - you don't find a lot of that. She loved deeply, though I think it was hard for her to say, I know it was true.

One night, right after she had fallen in the hospital, I was there very late at night. She was babbling. Some of what she said made sense and some didn't, but she talked about her three kids, and how she had to make the world a really good place for them. She was concerned that they have enough vitamins and nutrients to grow up strong and healthy. Megan and Donny were big enough for chewing gum, she said. So she was going to invent a chewing gum for them and then market it so other children could also grow up strong and healthy. I tried to assure her that they had indeed grown strong and healthy. She talked about being a good mother and raising healthy children. I think she did a pretty good job.

At the end of her life, I hope she knows we loved her. I hope she saw my mother at her bedside. I hope she felt our prayers for her and our tears over her suffering. Today, we rejoice, because she has earned her heaven, at last. She is at the feet of her Savior. She has been reunited with her son who was taken far too soon, and with her husband. We are grateful to know she is at peace and her mind is whole again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Feminine Heart...

There is always a lot to talk about when you are with a group of women. Women tend to be highly charged, emotional, talkative (at least among our sisters/friends/moms) and easily driven to tears.

I see that this is often mistaken for weakness.  Some kind of abandonment of truth and reason. Women are "crazy" or " too emotional" or "hormonal". While we are indeed emotional, and often hormonal - that doesn't make what we say any less true. It doesn't make the way we think any less rational. I would love to believe that in 2014 we have earned enough respect among our peers, men and women alike, to be taken seriously, even if a tear falls as we speak.

I cry at Mass, almost every week. I sometimes get funny looks, though it has gone on so long that most people don't even seem to notice. But think about it for a minute. Why WOULDN'T I shed tears at the Mass? I am in the presence of Our Lord. The Blessed Mother is near - my own sweet babies in heaven are among the communion of saints. So I just let the tears flow. They are now tears of joy where once they were tears of sorrow. I used to hide behind my hands, knowing that is was pretty useless. But can you, knowing that I am allowing myself to be swept into the Mass, blame me for my tears?

Music moves me. I am no good at it. Can't sing, can't play an instrument, but I love it. So many songs hold deep meaning for me, as I am sure they do for most people. When I hear a song that takes me back to a certain time in my life, reminds me of a precious moment or allows me to feel close to someone now gone from my life, the tears will flow. Even if it is just the beauty of the music, my eyes will often well with tears.

Love for my family, my children, yes - my sweet and amazing husband - absolutely. But also for my grandmother, who is in a nursing home. I can't help but cry every time I leave her. She doesn't really know me, but I know that she would hate being there, not knowing who anyone is or why she is there. When I see a niece or nephew accomplish something - anything, great or small, my eyes fill. When I know one of my sisters or brother is in some kind of pain, I cry. My parents, who are the very center of who I am - my love for them fills me with gratitude and yes, tears.

I choke up when I think of my children and my sweet nieces and nephew who all lost much loved grandmothers this summer. The memory of these sweet ones' trembling chins will fill my eyes. The knowledge that my husband hasn't slept through the night since he lost his mother and knowing my father in law will never, ever recover from her loss will have tears falling down my cheeks.

I cry when I get mad. Anger - it's the fastest way to make me cry. Make me angry, and you will see tears. Act like my tears somehow deny the truth of my feelings or lessen my argument? Big, plopping, furious tears.

And yes, I cry at silly stuff. Commercials, current events, movies, happy thoughts and internet memes. I cry all the time - does this make me weak? Does it make me stupid? Hormonal, overly emotional, crazy?

Or does it make me a woman? Sensitive, feminine, emotional. Seeking something beyond what is in front of my eyes.  Even my kids say I over analyse - but that's what we do - that's how we problem solve, evaluate our decisions. It's how we empathize with the people in our lives and those across the globe. We lead with our hearts because our hearts are the softest place to land. As long as we always keep truth and reason, being emotional is nothing for which to be ashamed. Being emotional does not mean we are weak, it means we love. We have empathy. If we cry for you, we are sharing our love for you - for if you have the ability to make us cry, then you are important to us in some way.

"Why Women Cry"

Why Women Cry

A little boy asked his mother, "Why are you crying?" "Because I'm a woman," she told him.

"I don't understand," he said. His Mom just hugged him and said, "And you never will."

Later the little boy asked his father, "Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?"

"All women cry for no reason," was all his dad could say.

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.

Finally he put in a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, "God, why do women cry so easily?"

God said, "When I made the woman she had to be special.

I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world,

yet gentle enough to give comfort.

I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.

I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.

I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.

I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed."

"You see my son," said God, "the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart - the place where love resides."
 Author: Unknown

Friday, August 15, 2014


My Jonah turned 16 the other day. SIXTEEN. With this birthday comes much rejoicing. Jonah was diagnosed at the age of six with a seizure disorder. He originally experienced a seizure every 5-10 seconds. Later it went down to every 10-15 seconds.

This past year he began to develop headaches, some double vision and dizziness. We of course were concerned and reported everything to his neurologist. We had some pretty extensive testing done. Jonah was fitted with 28 leads all over his head which he had to wear for a week. He also had to record himself sleeping. When the data from the testing came back, his neurologist called me himself with the news. There was ZERO seizure activity for the week Jonah wore the leads. THANKS BE TO GOD. This news was almost astonishing after a decade of worry. This does not mean he no longer has any seizure activity, but it does mean he has made great strides towards outgrowing the seizures AND can begin driver's ed! This as you can imagine is really, really meaningful to a teenage boy, but as his parents we know that the ability to drive impacts his entire life. He will be able to get to work, transport his family, teach his own kids to drive one day. All enormously impact-full.

So, we are rejoicing. He has another MRI on Monday, but right now - rejoicing. We had a big party - celebrating the milestone birthday as much as the results of the testing. This child, for whom I have prayed unceasingly - is beginning to blossom in so many ways. He is funny. He has a best friend (to whom I give a lot of credit for Jonah coming out of his shell). He is doing very well in school. This was one of his leap years. He tends to grow, developmentally, about every two years. Just when you think the last stage is going to go on forever, this kid makes a giant leap, and suddenly grows into himself SO MUCH.

Oh, and did I mention his deep, deep voice (sounds just like his dad) and his skinny, 126 pound, 5 foot, 10 inch frame? Or the fact that he gets out of bed at 2 in the morning to eat? Or that the last couple of times he has gone with us to the pool there were young ladies clamoring for his attention, to which he gave the cool guy "What's up?" nod? Where did my baby go?

As much as he has changed, he is still the guy who is a great big brother who comes up at night to kiss Priscilla goodnight. He is still the guy who gathers his baby sister up in his arms for a hug, or takes her for walks in her little car. He still loves video games and computer anything. He is fantastic at geometry and horrible at algebra. He doesn't like to read, but is getting so much better about it.

This guy, with his heart stopping, shy smile, his generosity, his kindness and his loping, dinosaur walk. I love him to bits and am so, so proud of him. Thrilled for him, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

About the In-Laws...

It's been a rough summer around here. In May, my gentle and much loved mother-in-law passed away rather suddenly. She suffered a brain aneurysm and passed almost two weeks later. At the same time, both of my sisters' mothers-in-law were ill as well. One, thankfully, was very ill, but it was acute and she went home and is doing well. The other, sadly, passed away after years of illness that culminated faster than expected.

These events have had me reflecting all summer on the way we build families, how we live with one another, and the culture in America in general. We are not really supposed to get along with the in-laws. People make jokes about mothers-in-law all the time, running them down as interfering, or just plain mean. It is, arguably, rather difficult to get along with people you have inserted into your life because you happen to love one of their children. I was very, very blessed in this regard. My mother-in-law, Laquaita, was nothing but love and kindness to me, and especially to my daughter, Meg. Meg was treated as though she had been born to their family. For that, I have always been grateful.

Laquaita never made demands, was always so supportive and helpful, and never batted an eye when she found out we were having another baby. She rejoiced. I was always thankful that we could call her with the news of a new baby and know for a fact we would only hear joy. I know she prayed and worried for us, and shared my love for dressing the kids up. I loved getting my kids ready to go see her, as she made over them and fussed. She once told me that whenever there was a family event, she couldn't wait to see what I put on my girls because they always looked so cute. I loved hearing that, and made sure to dress them up because it gave her pleasure to see them looking smart.

Laquaita wanted her family to be harmonious and happy, but, as families are made up of humans with differing lifestyles and opinions, that was not always the case. She didn't try to intervene, but instead let everyone work things out for themselves, offering love in all directions. I personally think this must have taken a lot of strength, and a huge amount of tongue biting. She probably won a great spot in heaven for her restraint, a rare commodity in any family. I hope I am able to be as loving as she was when I become a mother-in-law.

As we have built our families from our original family unit, we have been blessed with wonderful people on all sides. The other grandmothers have passed on traditions, new vocabulary and recipes. Our lives have been enormously enriched by these people. My kids have adopted words like "brand clean, gummy chewies and grandma juice". They make the "I love you" sign when leaving and give giant, squeezey bear hugs. All things they learned from grandparents or their cousins' grandparents.

They have watched their grandparents and the grandparents-in-law persevere through health challenges with strength and love. They have seen their grandfathers grieve with dignity, while allowing the kids to see their pain and tears, revealing their great love for their wives.

We've been blessed by the people who have lived in our lives, both through birth as well as through marriage. I hope my children, nieces and nephews choose wisely when they marry, because you do marry the family when you marry the love. I chose wisely. We all chose wisely.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Mother's Thoughts on Tattoos, Piercings, Plugs...

You know, I am pretty aware that I am old fashioned. I know I am traditional and that a lot of folks won't care what I have to say on the topic of tattoos, piercings and oh, my - those awful ear gauge deals.
When you have a baby, and she (or he) is this perfect, beautiful baby, you always picture her that way. Anything that comes along to mar her beautiful skin breaks your heart a little. Over time of course kids get scars from trips and falls, surgeries and so many other ways, and each thing that mars your child's skin is a little bit of a heartbreak. You hope it won't show. You hope they won't be teased about it.
Then, they grow up and for some reason, get minds of their own, even though you still see a sweet, darling little six year old. With the cute hair and the sweet smile and yes, that unblemished skin.
Then they go and pierce something. Or get a tattoo. They don't understand that you don't understand why they would purposefully scar themselves with something unperfect. Something not of God, and not in keeping with the pristine and beautiful skin they were born with. Also, there is something that just - at least to me and I think many people who feel the way I do about tattoos and piercings - just looks unwashed, or at a minimum, classless.
It might sound silly. It might not be any of my business, but here are my thoughts on the whole thing...consider them guidelines to really, really consider before you permanently mark your body. Forever. Like, it's never going away without some sort of surgery.

1.Consider placement. After all, it is MY generation who will be doing the majority of the hiring for most of your career. If you must pierce or tattoo, keep it someplace easily covered. I promise, this is for your own good.
2. Please, please, please do NOT carve into your body ANYTHING you have ever seen on a bumper sticker, an internet meme or in a comic strip. Just don't. It's cheap.
3. Take a turn through Google images before you go and get what you consider to be the "oh so unique and one of a kind" tattoo. Chances are it's not that unique or one of kind. If you have to do it, at least be original about it. I really do get the desire to commemorate some person, event, etc. I would be inclined to buy you a plaque or set up a photo session, but I do get it. If you just HAVE to do it, at least make sure your new body art is as unique as you are.
4. Only add to your body things that add to your beauty  - that goes for men, too. If you do something that takes away from your natural beauty, people just wonder why, shake their heads and assume you have some issues. For real. That includes those huge gauge things I keep seeing, the barbells in people ears, eyebrows, noses and for heaven's sake, necks, etc.
5. Do your research! Make sure the place you go is clean - like uber clean. No mother wants to worry about you getting Hepatitis because you didn't check the place out. Also, make sure the person doing the tattoo/piercing actually knows what they heck they are doing. Is there anything worse than paying someone to permanently scar you BADLY? Just...do your homework. Make sure they know EXACTLY what you want.
How is this pretty? Pretty gross...
6. Think about what you will look like at 40, 50, 60 gah...80 with scars from piercings and gauges, and how saggy and absurd your tattoos will be. Just. Think. About. It.

Try to remember that you ARE AN ORIGINAL. There is no one else like you on the planet, so there is no need to tattoo, pierce or plug any of your parts in the name of originality. Look around - your entire generation (and some of mine, heaven help us) is carving chunks out of their ears, tatting themselves up and piercing everything. While many still seem to think it is cool, it is no longer new or original. You don't need to add anything to be original - you were made that way, in God's image.

Such a cutie - why, oh why the gauge?
Some may try to misconstrue my "perfect, unblemished skin" comments as vain or all about outer beauty - and it is to some extent. But, what I am getting at is - I think you should try to be the TRUE, unblemished version of yourself as much as possible. Because you were perfectly made. You cannot be improved upon by man made jewelry or 'artwork' - even if it is beautiful art - it cannot ever be as beautiful as what God made.
The tat is pretty, but not as pretty as she is...

Just something to think about. I am pretty sure I am gonna get flack for this one, but hey, it's been a while since I said something that was sure to get me into trouble soooooo.....

God bless!