A landmark month…

I don’t like admitting it, but I really don’t like the month of December. Oh, when my kids were young I really got into the whole Christmas thing…the shopping, the decorating, the baking etc; In fact, I’m sure that’s where my kids get their love of Christmas from. They’ve shared with me on more than one occasion their fond memories of Christmas celebrations past. They, all three, have carried on the tradition of decorating their homes inside and out, having tons of presents under the tree, the ornament collection, the belief in Santa Claus, the holiday baking with goodie trays given to their friends and family members etc;

But that being said, December has become a bit of a “blue month” for me. I’m not one to focus on the negative nor to wallow in self-pity but I admit I do struggle in December.

#1) 18 years ago today, I lost my dad. Yep, you got it right…my “dad” died on Christmas eve. He was my step-dad, but he was the only dad I’d known since I was five years old. You’d think I’d be over his loss, but I hadn’t spent any real quality time with him for several years prior to his passing due to events far to lengthy to explain in this post. Suffice it to say, the longer he’s gone the more the good memories come to the forefront and the easier it is to forget the bad. I miss those good times we had!

#2) Too many miles & tight finances separate me from two of my three grown children – and the holidays are always so much better when you can be with family. Needless to say, we will not be together for Christmas this year. The upside is that we did get to spend Thanksgiving together (Two of my three and two of my hubby’s four were here)…which made for a joyful entry into this “blue December”.

#3) 1 year ago on the 18th of December my grown son and I had a “falling out”. I know..life’s too short. I will spare you the details but just know I pray about the situation daily and am trusting that the Lord will work it out. This situation has added to my “blue mood” this year.

#4) As I hard as I try to be supportive to my hubby at this time of the year – he also lost his dad (whom I never met) 22 years ago in December. It is sometimes difficult to comfort someone you love who is suffering when you also are suffering grief and despair!! Of course, many of you already know that it was just last year (2013) that my mother-in-law and brother-in-law passed away. Fortunately, not in the month of December, but my husband has had an unusually difficult time this year more so than last year for some reason.

So, as I was praying and pondering all the sad moments and talking to my Savior, He reminded me of some good times I’d experienced in December. The one that stands out the most in my mind was 5 years ago December 16th.

#5) My oldest brother, Jim was released from prison after being incarcerated 32 years for a crime he didn’t commit!! Just three months earlier I had plead Jim’s case before the parole board in Michigan and it was with cautious optimism that we awaited their decision. Our baby brother, John and I took a trip to Michigan to pick Jim up and take him home to North Dakota to be with our mom. It was an awesome trip and the very first time we three siblings had EVER been together!! We took our time traveling by car from Michigan to North Dakota and shared many meals, laughs etc; It was fun to watch Jim’s reaction to the world around him as a free man. His niece (my daughter) had me give him his first cell phone so he could call her and say “hello” as a free man. Once we arrived at mom’s home it was a tearful reunion. Jim, John, and I walked and drove thru neighborhoods enjoying all the cheery Christmas light displays. We went shopping and got Jim outfitted with some clothes, groceries he preferred etc; The last few days leading up to Christmas after John had returned home to Florida, Jim and I spent getting him signed up for any services he qualified for and going to the Parole office.

The best part of the whole story is that Jim is truly a FREE MAN today. He has been home for 5 years now. He has his own place, his own transportation, a cute little mutt named Irish that is truly his baby and no longer has to report to a parole officer!! He is truly a FREE MAN and has made me very proud. I always believed (as he promised) that he would do things right “if” he ever got out and he has done so!

I’m choosing today to remember those good memories from 5 years ago rather than the sad ones of 18 years ago. Mom is 90 years old and still ticking. Jim and Irish are doing great. I have two daughters and many grandchildren that love me. I have a husband that would walk through fire to save me. And I have a church family and a Lord that think I’m pretty special too! What do I have to be blue about?

When I woke up this morning with a sad 19 yr. old memory on my mind…I said a prayer of gratitude, put oldies on the radio and sat down at my sewing machine. It was a very therapeutic time to say the least! Now, I’m looking forward to leaving on a little R & R trip with my hubby on Saturday. We will spend Sat. evening with 3 grandsons and family in the Austin area and then it’s off to Kerrville, Texas for a little sight seeing, antiquing, etc; We return to ring in the New Year with our church family.

Holiday blessings my blogging buddies! May you and yours have a glorious Christmas and New Year!

My first born turns 45!!

Well, I was going to write this post one week ago today when my son actually turned 45, but I was out of town tending to my grand kitty and so my draft of my his 45th birthday remained in limbo. Sort of like our relationship lately…but I digress.

Wow! Where has the time gone? My ONLY son turned 45 Oct. 12th!! I was 18 when I gave birth to Troy in 1969. Here he is playing ball in 1975…Little ball player

I was wondering who else might have been born in 1969…so I did a little research: hmmmm

Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez, Donnie Wahlberg, Jack Black

Jennifer Aniston, Tyler Perry, Marilyn Manson, Chaz Bono

Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee’ Zellweger, JUST TO NAME A FEW…

Troy’s dad and I were married but were not together. My mom was by my side the day Troy was born for 13 hrs. of hard labor and subsequent C-section. I was a child having a child!! I was scared to death and miserable!! Even though the “shotgun wedding” was well intentioned, the marriage was doomed before it began! I discovered I was pregnant in Jan of my senior year. I married in Feb. Due to major morning sickness I was forced to drop out right before graduation. I never considered adoption or abortion and my son was born the following Oct. Maybe my son would have had a better life I I had considered adoption? I don’t know. I just know that I loved him from the moment of conception and couldn’t consider any other way. My mom agreed to help me and be a support.

So, six days after Troy was born we went home to my parent’s house. That was not what I had envisioned. Going home to my parental home with a new born son when all my friends were going to football games etc; was not part of my life plan! Hmmmmm…

My mom had given birth to my little sister just two years earlier, so Troy’s #1 playmate those first few years was his Aunt Tammy…Christmas pals

I loved my boy, but he had to compete for the affection of his grandparents, since they had a little girl that was born late in their lives. It was so unfair, but a fact of his little life.

Troy’s dad went to Viet Nam and eventually served me with divorce papers so he could remarry. I worked, I dated and sometimes dated men that weren’t good father figures for Troy. But then, when Troy was 5 years old things turned around for us when I met up with an old school friend (the brother of one of my closet girlfriends)and we married. We were now a trio. Troy’s step-dad and I agreed that he should adopt Troy so that when he began first grade he wouldn’t have to be questioned about the change in his last name. Troy’s step-dad and I met and got re-acquainted when we met in a bar after a night of drinking. That should have been my first red flag. But, as we often do when we are young and stupid we ignore all the warning signs.

We were together 10 years. Troy was a teenager by the time his step-dad and I split up and the damage had already been done. The bright side in those ten years was that Troy had two little sisters that were born!! 1977 - 26 yrs. old (2)

Theresa was born in 1977 when Troy was 7 1/2 yrs old. Tanya came next when he was fixing to turn 10 in 1979. He loved his little sisters and was a great babysitter! I heard much later in life when they were all grown that he used to put on rock concerts in the living room with his buddies when we were out and he was in charge! LOL His little sisters were told to sit on the sofa and not move while he and his buddies entertained them. I’m surprised that we never got a call from neighbors.

Anyway, there’s much more history and much more I could say, but suffice it to say I miss my boy! You see, Troy hasn’t spoken to me in almost a year now. I sent him a beautiful birthday card that spoke from my heart in secret hopes that it might open a door. Maybe it will – it hasn’t so far. He knows how to reach me. In fact, maybe he’ll read this post. He knows about my blog. In fact, the last time he got mad at me…it was because of this blog. The time previous to that it was because of Facebook.

Maybe you understand a little bit more why I don’t really like all this Social Media crap. Your thoughts?

The cycle continues…

I had a brief chat with a 30 something yr old young man not too long ago and he said, “When I marry it will be for life.  I will only marry once.”

Having lived a few more years than he had…and having experienced a whole lot more than he had – I was blown away by his naivety!  This young man “presented” himself as a bible believing Christian (that’s a topic for another post)…

Naturally, having experienced the heartache of divorce more than once I was also quite offended by his comment.  Politely, I replied “well, do you think it was ever my intention to marry more than once?”  “Don’t you think that everyone who marries only intends to do it once?”  “Do  you really think that anyone goes into a marriage thinking it will end in divorce?”  OMG!  

No, ladies and gentlemen – I never intended for any of my children to come from a broken home – even if I did!  And yet, 2 of my 3 children have experienced more than one divorce just like I have! As hard as I try to live right, do right and be a Godly example they still have to live their life and make their own choices, right or wrong.  I hate that!  I want them to learn from my mistakes, not to make their own.  But, I truly don’t believe we learn much from watching others make mistakes and bad choices.

I learned my lessons much later in life.  It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I began to see that I was the “common denominator” in a lot of my choices and that I was the one that needed to change – not them.  That’s also when my prayers changed.  Instead of praying “God make him the kind of husband I want him to be” it was “God, show me how to be the kind of wife you need me to be.”  I know it seems simplistic and my prayers often involved more words than seen here, but you get my drift.

So, why do I post on this topic, you ask?  Well, because I am witnessing the cycle continue.  My grandchildren now come from broken homes!!  My grandson, Kash is just one example.  He will be 3 in Sept.  He goes to Daddy’s for one week, then he’s at mommy’s for one week.  He’s at daddy’s the entire month of July – not to see his mommy, his four other siblings or his Maw Maw. I miss him.  But, more importantly, I’m sad for him.

No one really thinks twice about being from a broken home anymore.  Do they even use that terminology anymore?  It’s more the norm nowadays.  So many couples just live together now without the marital contract and bring children into that world as well.  If Hollywood says it’s okay then I guess it’s okay, right?  NADA!    I’m so sad about the direction our world is going.  

I know some will call me old fashioned.  Some will say what I desire is unrealistic.  Some will even say that I’m living in the dark ages.  I just hate that the cycle continues.

I am NOT my mother – or at least (in my dreams) I’m NOT!

My mother could be quite abusive when I was growing up.  She was physically, verbally and psychologically abusive from time to time – but I never thought of her that way until very much later in life.  She is still alive and 90 years old.  I haven’t seen her in person for the last five years, but here’s a pic of her today: ImageMy brother sent me this picture.  I was terribly shocked when I saw it!! My mom always kept herself up!  Her hair was always done, makeup just right, nails always polished etc;  Mom lives in North Dakota. (I live in Texas).

Don’t get me wrong – I love my  mother.  I’ve always loved her, even after I became an adult, addressed some of the “abuse issues” and recognized her shortcomings.  She did the best she could with what she had to work with.  Her upbringing wasn’t so great either.  I’m not excusing her negative behavior – just recognizing it for what it is.  

For as long as I can remember, I did not want to be like my mother. Primarily because of her “negative personality traits”. I really feel awful when those traits manifest themselves in me!! But it most cases – I really and truly – AM NOT MY MOTHER!

1) My mother has never sold a thing in her life. (I love to sell and have made a decent living selling everything from toys, home decor, furniture to insurance). Mom was a waitress almost her entire life. I think she was in her 70’s before she quit waiting tables.
2) My mother never dieted her entire life. Although she was never what I would consider overweight until she was over 40 – she has been ever since. No matter – she was happy just the way she was. You never heard the word “diet” leave her lips and she ate what she wanted always. (Not this girl! I started having weight issues when I started having children – and it’s been a daily battle ever since.)
3) My mother wasn’t “crafty” and hated sewing! She always worked outside the home, and when she was home you would find her tending to the needs of her family or watching TV. (I, on the other hand, have always loved crafts, sewing, gardening, decorating etc;) In fact, I recall at Christmas time mom wouldn’t decorate the house – so I would get whatever junk I could find in the house to decorate with so our home had a more “festive” flair during the holidays.
4) My mother doesn’t read. (I love to read and read every day! I read fiction and non-fiction alike and always have at least one book I’m reading). The only thing I ever witnessed my mother reading was the newspaper! I don’t think I ever saw her read a Women’s magazine – and I know I never witnessed her reading an actual book.
5) My mother wasn’t a “social butterfly” as I have so often been accused of being. Mom was a “workhorse” with a strong work ethic but beyond work and her home she didn’t do much. She definately didn’t “get together with the girls” ever, that I recall. She didn’t have a lot of close friends and everything she did outside of work and home she did with her husband.
6) My mom never baked cookies – or anything else for that matter! She was a good cook but my birthday cake was always from the bakery when I was growing up! (I love to bake and bake often. In fact, you will find me baking every day in December to make up goodie trays for friends. I baked with my kids when they were little and I now bake with the grandkids.)
7) My mom was not a church going woman. The only time I saw her darken the doorway of a church was when I was (as a child) singing in the choir. (She and dad would leave right after I was done singing). I went to church with playmates that had invited me and that early experience planted a hunger in me for the things of God and for church! (I’ve been more “in” than “out” of church for the past 30 years now – and am in church 3 times a week currently.)

For brevity’s sake I won’t go on about all the ways my mother and I aren’t alike…but would like to expound more on all the ways WE ARE ALIKE.

1) My mom & I are both very affectionate! If she knows you and likes you == get ready – cause a big wet sloppy “smooch” (as she would call it) is coming your way! We love to kiss and hug and hold the ones we love. It’s really kinda weird cause neither of my grown daughters are the “kissy, feely” type even though they got plenty of affection as children.
2) My mom & I both love to “nurture” with food. It’s the way we show our love for our family and friends. I get a great deal of comfort from knowing my pantry and frig are full and that I can whip something up if we get company. Mom always had a snack cupboard for the grandkids when they came over and was always cooking for her family.
3) My mom can be harsh, short-spoken, judgemental & snarky! I don’t like the adjectives, but this is the one I have battled all my life. I know I’ve offended friends and family by being too short-spoken or blunt at times! I hate that!! I’ve credited it to being brutally honest – which makes it more of a thing of pride. Well, I’m here to say, honest or not – it’s still not nice. I’ve worked very hard on this character trait that I inherited from my mom and I know it’s improved. It’s probably played a crucial role in why I am a believer now and try to stay “prayed up”. I recognize my inability to change the inner man without God’s help.
4) My mom instilled in me good grooming. She advised me to keep myself “fixed up” for my hubby – not laying around the house in sweats and always making sure my hair was done, and my clothes were pressed.
5) Mom and I both have a very solid work ethic! She was always a hard worker and extremely responsible about not calling in sick unless absolutely necessary. I emulate her in this regard.
6) My mom was a mother at 17. I was a mother at 18. Alcoholism and the abuse that comes along with it have played a big role in the women we are today.
7) Last but definately not least – I pray that I have my mother’s health history and have 30 more years to live – so that I can rectify some of the wrongs I’m done (see #3). Here’s what mom and I looked like 10 years ago when we traveled up North to celebrate her 80th birthday:
Mom & Linda 2004

Sorry for the “scrapbook” image – My hubby Jerry and I are pictured with mom on the left. My baby sister and I are pictured with her on the right.

Suffice it to say, I miss mom. But after seeing the pic that my brother Jim sent – I’m not sure I want to see her in the condition she is currently in. I would much rather remember her with her hair done, makeup on, smiling at the camera. What do you think?

Scrapbook memories of 3 graduates!!

ESTRANGEMENT…ugh.  I hate that word!  But, more than just hating the word….I hate the fact that our family has experienced way too much estrangement.  Some may call it “separation”, but since divorce, custody battles etc; have been involved I think “estrangement” is a more appropriate word…and I have been a KEY player since I also have experienced separation, divorce and estrangement.  😦

So, you ask…what does that have to do with graduating??  Good question.  Let me begin with the oldest graduate I am commemorating in this blog.  Christian is my first born grandson…ImageHe is my daughter, Theresa’s first born child.  He was born when she was unmarried and only 18 yrs. old.  My oldest child and only son had blessed me with two granddaughters and a third was on the way,  But this was my FIRST GRANDSON!  I was with my daughter all night throughout her labor and even got to cut Christian’s cord! Christian was a precious and happy little boy and Maw Maw loved taking care of him. Since Theresa was a single mom, I remember helping her to get set up with low income housing, purchasing second hand furniture and providing diapers for Christian the first year of his life.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough.  There were other needs that Theresa & Christian had that I couldn’t supply…

Once Christian was a toddler it was decided that he should live with his dad in Minnesota. His other family was in Texas!  ESTRANGEMENT had reared it’s ugly head!ImageUGH!  By this time, Christian had a little sister.  They loved playing together and so it was going to be a lonely time for them both with the separation.

Infrequent summer visitations and an occasional holiday was the extent of time spent together.  ImageSince many miles separated us (Texas/Minnesota) and finances often prohibited us from visits as often as we would have preferred, we tried to make the most out of our times together! Mommy married and more siblings were added to the mix. 1st a little brotherImagenamed Preston.  One summer while Christian was visiting we all went camping!  ImageThey loved those hot Texas beaches!  Anything to do with water was always fun; for Maw Maw too!  ImageYum! Smore’s!!!

Another time Christian got to take a ride in Uncle Rob’s boat…ImageThere were only a few Christmases that Christian got to be in Texas with his mom, his siblings or Maw Maw and Paw Paw, but we tried to make the most of them when he was…ImageI remember even once when Christian flew to TX alone and I met him at DFW to pick him up for his visitation.  He was a brave young man to travel alone by plane to see his Texas family.  ImageThis awesome young man has 6 siblings!!  His mom has had four more children since he was born and his dad and wife have had 2 other children!!  It’s no wonder that Christian is an awesome big brother and even works as a babysitter for two young boys!  As Christian got older and more involved in sportsImage  his visits to Texas became less frequent and more sporadic.  I cherish the pictures his Minnesota family would provide us…

It helped me to feel as though I was a part of his life when in reality I wasn’t!  We were growing less and lessImagefamiliar with each other.  I hated that!  I remember traveling up North for a family wedding and picking Christian up for an overnight stay in a motel where he could spend time with cousins and we could try to re-connect.  ESTRANGEMENT! Ugh!  Once you’ve been estranged, it’s so difficult to re-connect!!  I struggled to KNOW my grandson.  He was a good boy, but I didn’t really know him.  That being said, it didn’t change the love a grandmother has for her grandson.  It didn’t change the desire you have for their well being and happiness.  

Well, just this past week I received confirmation of Christian’s well being and happiness when my two daughter’s (his mother and aunt) were able to attend Christian’s high school graduation ceremony.  Christian’s dad and mom (the one that raised him) received my daughter (his birth mom) into their home warmly.  I believe it was life-changing for all after more than a four year ESTRANGEMENT.  ImageCongratulations, Grandson!  I am so very happy to hear how you’ve turned out and so grateful to your Minnesota family for taking good care of you and providing you with a life you deserve.  After talking with you on the phone, I anticipate a visit from you before you begin college…but if it doesn’t happen I am at peace knowing you are well and that you got to re-connect with your mom a little.

Christian was born in February of 1996…My third grandaughter (his cousin) was born in August of the same year.  Rain is another grandchild that I don’t know very well.  ImageMy son and Rain’s mother were divorced by the time she was two years old.  Here we go again…ESTRANGEMENT!!  Shortly thereafter, Rain, her older sister, Skyler and her mother moved to Colorado.  More separation! ImageThis is a picture of them in our motel room after we made a trip to Colorado to see them. If was a brief visit, but we spent time eating out and playing in the motel pool.  ImageI have pictures to prove that we made efforts to see our grandchildren and have quality time together… so why do I feel so bad??  I just feel so sad when I think of how much I’ve missed of them growing up because we have lived so far apart! ImageFor a short while Skyler and Rain’s cousin, Hannah lived in Colorado and so they got to spend some time with her.  That was 10 or more years ago and they haven’t seen each other since!  Ugh! ESTRANGEMENT!! I hate it!  I know it’s a fact of life and some families are closer than others…but it doesn’t change my feelings on this lack of closeness that many in my family share.  I want it to be different!

Rain is such a precious and sweet girl!  For a couple of years her dad and step-mom lived just 40 miles from us.  AlthoughImagedad didn’t have custody Maw Maw and Paw Paw reaped the benefit of summer visitations and remember taking Rain shopping for some school clothes before she left to go back to Colorado.  ImageWhenever we had the opportunity to see Rain we would try to spend quality time together.  I recall one summer when we were up North for a wedding we celebrated Rain’s birthday early just so we could be together for it.  

ImageAll grown up now but back in Minnesota…Rain is once again living closer to her dad, step-mom and little brother.  I just wish I was closer as well!  I miss her so much!  The last time I saw her was in 2007!! That’s 7 long years!  Cards and gifts on birthdays and Christmases just aren’t sufficient enough for a grandchild to know they are loved.  Maybe they do know…maybe I’m just feeling guilty for the lack of time I’ve spent with some of them.  In my opinion, no amount of money can replace lost moments together.  Unfortunately, when families separate, move, divorce, have hard feelings & misunderstandings….ugh, there it is again – ESTRANGEMENT! Isn’t that an ugly word?  It’s even and uglier fact of life!  Did I mention, I hate it?  My youngest daughter, Tanya got to see Rain this week and got to celebrate a little bit with her.  ImageAuntie Tanya is always game for a little clowning around!  I smiled when she sent me this pic.  So, congratulations Rain!  Maw Maw wishes she could be present for your graduation next week but some much smaller grandchildren here in Texas are needing my time and attention.

Now that you have come of age, maybe you can make a trip to Texas to see us.  You would be welcomed with open arms!Image

Last but not least is my third graduate, Ethan! Ethan is Christian’s younger brother and 6 yrs. old. In Texas they make a big deal out of Kindergarten graduations…and so when my daughter asked me if I could attend the ceremony this past Tuesday I was all in! I took care of Ethan here in my home along with his younger brother, Kash until Ethan began school. Technically, I guess you could say I was his “Pre-K” teacher. We had lots of fun and I taught him how to read, spell, write, count etc;2013-01-03_10-18-35_563
Now, Ethan will be entering the first grade! Fortunately, I can say I’ve not been ESTRANGED from Ethan like I have some of my other grandchildren. Since he only lives 20 miles from me, I’ve been able to be a part of his life since he was born! Ethan is my 13th grandchild. We’ve love to build forts from blankets, play card games, build tall towers from the Jenga blocks and play with Legos.IMG_20130529_124131_325 Here Ethan is having fun with Play Doh.

I’m so proud of little Ethan!

Look at that grin!

Look at that grin!

Now that school is out I will see more of Ethan. In fact he and his brother Preston will be coming along with Kash on Monday to stay at Maw Maw’s house while mommy works. This is our last week to take care of Jackson…but next week will be crazy with four grandsons here! I will have to snap a picture so you can all see proof of four that I do get to spend lots of time with!

Ethan with his certificate

Ethan with his certificate

I’m not shy…so I hooped and hollered for Ethan as he was receiving his certificate. In fact, another grandma commented as I was leaving that I gave her courage to holler as well. LOL

A parting shot of us….

Maw Maw & Grandchild #13

Maw Maw & Grandchild #13

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