Don’t be offended, but I am not a fan of the Beetles

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In May of 2014, I bought a young Birch tree and planted it in my mom’s memory.  The tree is just outside of my living room window and, recently, my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews came over to place the river rocks around the tree that we collected at her celebration of life.  Each rock contains a word or two that was written by friends and family to share their memories of our mom.

I have been faithfully watering the tree each day and trying to make sure it thrives in its new home.  Last year I had noticed some of the leaves were beginning to yellow.  Upon closer examination, I also discovered the tree had become home to a bug that I have never seen before and this particular creature loves to devour the greenery and skeletonize the foliage.   Had these pests been named John, Paul, George or Ringo I may have been a little more forgiving, but these Japanese Beetles waged a war that I had sworn to win.

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(image credit: walterspropertyservices.com)

 I diligently tended to my tree at least three times a day to pick these creatures off, one by one, to rid the poor tree of this unnecessary destruction.  Google and the garden center staff seemed to agree that this is the most effective way to eradicate these pesky bugs.  I only hoped that I could put an end to them before they put an end to my tree.

My tree blossomed beautifully again this spring but the creatures are back with a vengeance.  If anyone is going to Japan in the near future, save some room in your luggage.  I would love to send these iridescent insects packing!!

An excellent “first date”

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I’ve watched them from birth to now.  I’ve seen them take a few of their halted first steps and utter the beginning of many words to come.  I did not birth them, but I love them just as much as if I had.

The time has gone by so quickly and my nephews are now 15 and 12.  They are unique characters and very different from each other which makes them all the more fascinating to a person who does not see them every day.  I get fragmented pieces of time to create memories and I have realized that time is quickly running out before they fly from their nest.

I had a date with my 12-year old nephew tonight.  It was more like an expeditious speed-date but it was an hour that I got to spend with just him.  We laughed, we talked in funny accents and we allowed ourselves the freedom to just be silly and enjoy each others company.  He and I are very similar creatures and it was nice for both of us to recognize that bond.  He reads as voraciously as I did as a child and shares my animosity towards running.

My 15-year old nephew is the opposite.  He most likely thinks he will burst into flames if he had to read a novel.  His hours of leisure, and work, are spent at a golf course.  He lives and breathes golf.  He has found his passion and it is something at which he excels.  He and I have yet to have our date but I will be asking him soon and I am  hoping to make these dates a recurring event before I blink and they are both in their twenties.

I want these moments.  I want to create this stronger bond before they have gone off to college and the miles are stretched between us.  I selfishly crave those snippets of time where I see signs of them becoming the men they will continue to be throughout their lives.  I want them to know how proud I am of the strengths they possess and encourage them to never let anyone try to change their ideals.

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These dates may seem like small things to them but the memories we create will reside in my heart, and hopefully their hearts, for many years to come.

Drawing from the things that matter

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A couple of weeks ago, my friend Mike wrote this post about creating his family seal.  It originated from a homework assignment that was given to his son but it really sparked something in my mind.  My need to create went into overdrive and I spent many days thinking about the things that are most important to me and the things that would warrant space on my family shield.

What I thought would be a daunting task became relatively simple once I stripped away the trivial matters and whittled my thoughts down to the basics, getting in touch with the things that are at the core of my life, and coming up with this.

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My family and friends will always be first.  They are the anchor that hold me in my place.  They keep me honest and that truth allows me to enjoy all of the other aspects of my day-to-day living.

My home, albeit small and in need of updating, is my castle, my sanctuary.  Its walls are my defense shield and its roof, my shelter.  In this home I allow the chef hidden inside to come out and create tasty and aesthetically pleasing meals, even though most days I cook for one.

After the kitchen has been cleaned of any signs of being inhabited, I sit down for a quiet evening filled with words.  Whether I am ingesting words written by someone else or spewing forth words of my own, language envelops me and keeps me company in the waning hours of daylight.

During those evening hours I become lost in language, my puppy is ever-present.  Her eyes watch my every move and if she falls behind in her duty, the owls and butterflies that frequent my landscapes remind me that my mother and father are still making sure that their past exists in my present and my future.  And if life ever begins to get my down, I remember my dad always saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

I am thankful that I took the challenge to strip my life down to the basics, to really look inside myself and understand what are the most important things in my life.

If you were to take the same challenge, what would your family shield hold in its strong embrace?

 

 

 

The truest definition of me

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The Earth enveloped the roots,

held them close in its embrace,

and nourished the growth of new life.

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 We placed our memories,

written in black ink,

and surrounded those roots with our love,

our cherished memories

and our hope for, one day, reuniting with those we have lost.

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 Each new leaf,

green with the promise of perpetuation,

reminds us that life goes on

and that we must find the joy and not the sadness

in the days in which we live.

***

We finally had the chance to place the rocks around my mom’s memorial tree yesterday.  After a lovely, and filling, brunch my family and I gathered around the tree I planted in my mom’s memory and we placed the river rocks etched with words that represented what friends and family remembered about her.  The best part of this moment is that is was not a somber occasion but a time filled with meaningful memories of a wonderful woman.  It was a brief juncture in our day where we could remember the happy times and not be plagued with the sadness and the sense of loss.

I cannot think of a better tribute for Mother’s Day.  My mom would be happy to know that we are able to embrace the multitude of wonderful moments we had in our lives and not focus on the fact that she was not able to be here to help us celebrate.  The power of what she was in lives is more than enough to compensate for the reality that she not physically here.

Her memory and the many lessons she taught will continue to exist within us.   Her love grows with each hug we give our family and our friends and we do her justice by continuing to live each day as if she were still here and covertly guiding our every move.

She would want us to be happy.  She would urge us to sacrifice ourselves for the things we believe in, the things we truly want, and she would tell us to never give up.  I can hear her voice in my head saying “if it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for”.

I would move the Earth and the Sun to have her here for one more day but I will live each day contented by the fact that she resides in my heart.  Her voice is strong in my ears and her determination flows in my veins.

I am my mother’s daughter and I celebrate the fact that there is no stronger definition of me.

Happy Mother’s Day

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mom-holding-baby

She birthed me and swaddled me,

she showered me with love.

Her arms always embraced me,

they fit me like a glove.

Her words were the only ones,

that could help to heal my scars.

Hers was the only light,

that would comfort me in the dark.

She woke me up to play with me,

she laughed at all my jokes.

She sang with me to old musicals,

although she couldn’t hold the notes.

Her faith in my abilities,

has stood the test of time.

She’s the portrait of what a mother should be,

and I’m glad that she is mine.

So, here’s to you, mom, on this special day,

my love for you has no end.

You’re my giver of life, my confidant,

and will always be my best friend.

And though my wishes are sent further today,

into a world I am unable to touch.

I know you hear my words of love

and they will forever mean just as much.

***

I wrote this two years ago when my mom was still alive and added the last stanza in her memory. The words today ring just as true as they did then. I hope she is planting her heavenly garden and the sun is shining on her face.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms.

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When the past sneaks up to greet you

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It is a very rare occurrence when my emotions take me by surprise.  I am usually fairly in tune with them and I can feel them bubbling gently below the surface.  But last night on my way home from work while driving past my mother’s old house, the same house I drive by every day on my way to work and again on my way home, the emotion stored within those walls hit me like a ton of bricks.   Last night I glanced at the house, as I do every time I follow that familiar road, and I burst into tears.

I don’t know where the tidal pool of emotion came from but suddenly I was flooded with images of moments that had become important memories in my life.  Christmases, birthdays, family gatherings and quiet nights spent as a family were at the forefront of my brain.  Lingering snapshots of magical kisses witnessed by only the walls upstairs slowly transformed themselves into moving pictures to replay those scenes.  That house, the building others would only see as walls and a roof, was my home.  It was the vessel that helped create and store some of the most precious moments of my life.

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Although there were many happy times, there were also moments of great sorrow.  Those walls echoed as I told my parents, hysterically through sobs, that my best friend had passed away in 2003.  That roof sheltered both my parents as they battled their illness and those walls protected them for as long as they could.  That structure that is a seemingly unnoticeable building to passers-by will forever have a large part of my history carved into its frame.

That architecture will always be a part of me.   Each time I drive by and take the time to trace the outlines of those walls there will always be an affinity to its design and purpose.  It is said that we need to let things go to be happier but I feel the need to embrace those things to stay connected.

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