Archive for the ‘Family’ category

“MOTHER’S DAY” DAY

May 15, 2017

(Just so The Spruce Tunnel has a record . . . )

I know,  it’s a day late,  but that’s because “it”  was Mother’s Day –  and I was kept busy!

The day started, as it should,  with a seriously good Mass – actual contact with the Creator!      Then Son had sent me a reassuring text informing me that he “had the whole day free . . .”  We weren’t always together,  but he was  . . .    here.

I,  the “mother,” did  “whatever I wanted to do!    I read,  I napped,  I puttered around in the kitchen,  I did a little sewing work on a new summer top,  I watched another episode of my very favorite video series from Italy, and from time to time visited Son who was keeping busy outside, on my behalf.

(I might have worked him too hard.)

A digger

He is closing up a long trench in which he laid drainage pipes.

A trench

I know I needed them.   Son understands why I needed them.

We had a visitor for a while:

A snake cr

He seemed to be enjoying the sunlight.   Fascinating.   We were also visited by a lively, happy woodchuck who was busy running here and there,  munching on the water weeds near the backyard pond.      Nice to have time to enjoy these little critters.

The lawn is nearing perfection this summer, under Son’s care:

A Lawn

I said I was puttering around the kitchen.   Son was taking care of the Main Course:

A grill

. . .  and we put our work together —

A dinner cr

. . .    just in time to watch some really good movies.

And Daughter?  

A cell

A very nice, very long distance phone call – and not at all rushed! (A mother can tell if you’re under time constraints.)         And then there was a Kazoo concert,  via cell phone –  from  Cooper!  –  followed by a lot of Kindergarten news!       (Thank you for sharing with your Grandma.)

 

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Mother’s Day is one of the great highlights of my whole year, and I have to explain why:   For fifteen years I was an “only child,”  so I guess that’s long enough for me to have many “only child”  characteristics –  and feelings.    The Great Alone.   When I first became pregnant,  my world changed:  I knew I would never, ever be “alone”  again.   My daughter,  my son;   two other human beings in this world would always be a part of me, and I would belong to them.

This Mother’s Day was a good one.     Son and Daughter were both “present.”

a rose

Be good to your Moms.

 

 

DAD IN DECEMBER

December 18, 2016

dad-at-400

My Dad.   Probably in December.    Holding a . . . baby . . .  (any hunters know what that is?)

It would be typical of my Dad,  who did hunt at times,  to notice a small baby game bird on the ground on a cold winter day,  and then pick it up gently,  check to see if it were hurt or something.

Today,  December 18th is his birthday — and I wish he could be here to tell me more about this picture.    I wish, too, that I had seen this photo of him when I was a little girl.  It would have added texture and perspective to what I was learning of him as I was growing up.   Perhaps he would not have been so utterly  powerful and “scary.”

And I wish we hadn’t lived 1,200 miles apart from each other because I would have liked to have gotten to know him, not as “a dad,”  but more as a man.    That knowledge came slowly.  Perhaps that’s natural,  but the more I knew about him as a man,  the the more the “scary dad” figure I had diminished,  and I could see all the real parts of him:   musician,  jazz genius;  Les Paul and Mary Ford,  Tommy Dorsey . . . .  Gave it all up for his “family.”   Me and Mom.

Electronics genius.  there was nothing he couldn’t do with electronics and nothing he couldn’t invent to solve an electronic problem,  including   “how to design a colored television so it could be mass produced.”    Helped make the Raytheon company big, in that department.     Gave that career path up too because World war Two took him out of high school and he felt he could never get in on the college degree path.

A man who lived under the certain knowledge that God exists — and that God is indeed God and Lord, no matter how very tough his life got for him.

Above all,  he was a strictly,  strongly moral man who could be depended upon to always be right!    Especially in social matters.   And as I was growing up:  “The Times They Are A-Changing.”

Whatever.     My Dad was right about that too.

We children,  whatever age  we are,  are supposed to have received and grown into the wisdom of our fathers.   

Our Dads   plus   us —  that makes the new generation.

Without our dads,  the world is pretty hard to understand:

dad-gone

But we can be pretty secure following in the wisdom – and footsteps – of our dads:

dad-and-baby-fox

 

Dad –  Happy Birthday.   I’m hanging on to what you showed me.

 

CATASTROPHIC IS A TERRIBLE WORD

October 6, 2016

Local Florida Weatherman:  “Catastrophic is a terrible word.  I can’t even believe it’s coming out of my mouth.”

local-weatherman

 

“The biggest storm on the planet right now.”   (Weather Channel)

“Escaping”  along I-4 westbound at  14  m.p.h.     Tonight and tomorrow I-95  will be “undrivable.”

Winds will be 145 m.p.h.  when they hit my sister (and her city of Melbourne)  and then sustained winds of 90 –  120 m.p.h.  with a storm surge of 9 feet more or less.    I don’t think my sister lives that far above the ocean.

Here’s her house in better weather:

sisters-house

 

Last time,  when my sister held her cell phone out the window during the last (smaller)  hurricane so I could hear the winds passing by,   what I heard instead was their neighbor’s roof crashing by!    Weird –  but seriously dangerous and chaotic.

I’ve been to Vero Beach,  I’ve swam at Sebastian Inlet, at  Melbourne Beach,   Cocoa Beach,  Ponce Inlet,  I love the Ferris wheel at Daytona Beach —  I tell this to myself because these are real places, real people down there,   and I can hardly match the size and severity of this storm with real “ordinary”  places.

Governor Scott states:  “This storm can kill you.”

Heard from my sister tonight – sort of a good-bye for a while.  She doesn’t know when she’ll get her power back or her cell phone recharged enough to signal an A-OK.

It will be a long night of watching this storm on TV and on the Internet — but an even longer night for her, huddled down in the room she designated as her safe room.

Hope it is.

MY BARRIER ISLAND: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

October 5, 2016

 

The Barrier Islands are being evacuated today.

barrier-island

The east coast of Florida has these long, long narrow islands that hug the mainland,  and on one of those islands is my beautiful home-away-from-home.

You have to cross a bridge to get there, one like this:

bridge

Fun.   When you travel a lot to the same destination, you develop your favorite spots,   and on the ocean side of that barrier island is “my”  beautiful hotel room.

tuckaway-logo

Yep,  I’m  advertising for them.

This is my “Florida Past.”   Beautiful, pretty pastels,  clean, friendly,  affordable in the off-season,  walking distance to beachfront stores and restaurants,  and your own private door opens out onto the sandy ocean beach.

Here’s looking through my living room window:

through-the-blinds

This is  my shoe and my skirt pointing out to the surf one relaxing evening.

SAMSUNG

The last time I was there was a sad trip, though.   I  arrived to visit my mother just one day before she died.    Took me by surprise, and I spent a little time grieving on the beach.

SAMSUNG

Storm Clouds

This storm came in from the west and  hung low over the beach.

Florida Present:

Hurricane Matthew is going to come in from the southeast, and it will be a lot worse.

Now, with the weather update,  I find both my sisters are in harm’s way;  both are under a hurricane warning, one just a few miles from the beach,  the other inland a bit more.

One sister writes that she “doesn’t like the look of this storm.”   If she talks like our Dad used to talk,  that’s a magnificent understatement.

Millions of people are worried about this storm too.

I just remember “my” beautiful hotel on that Barrier Island:

tuckaway-front-view

I hope it’s still standing after this week.

It feels “personal.”     There are a lot of “real” people involved with this storm.    A lot of souls, as we used to say.     S.O.S. – Save Our Souls.

I hope my sister’s home is still standing.

I have lots to write about here in the Tunnel,  lots of topics, lots of ideas,  but I don’t want to write about anything else right now — not until the storm is over and I find out “what happened.”

Hope it will be a good Florida Future.  

Perspectives: PRETTY IN PINK

October 4, 2016

I think this five week period of superlative personal demands are finally passing,  and it’s good to look outward again.     Almost all the “superlatives” have been good –  but they were personal.     I’m eager to write about things we have in common.

One of which is “Matthew.”      A  not so good “superlative,”  and that puts the recent “demands” on me into perspective.   The affected region is so huge, that it’s possible you know someone who is going to be greatly troubled by the coming of this hurricane.

My own sister, for one:

pretty-in-pink-and-red

She lives under those pink lines – where Florida used to be.

Specifically:

fl-in-circles

My sister lives on the coast,  right in the middle of that smallest blue circle,  the bull’s eye, so to speak.       She’s ten miles or so south of Cape Canaveral, where that little V-shaped  piece of land juts out into the ocean.

One time, about ten years ago a big hurricane was passing over the house where my  parents and sister lived together.  My sister called me up during the worst of it and I could hear banging and crashing in the background.      So exciting!

Then she said “You ought to hear the wind!”   So she opened a window and stuck her cell phone outside.      Unbelievable roaring — until I heard a little scream –  “Part of our neighbor’s roof just tore off and blew across our back yard!”   

Technology!   Puts you right there in the action!!

water

I’m being flippant.   It isn’t our way to “evacuate”  (apparently)  and my parents and sister had a difficult few weeks following that hurricane.    Water and cleaning supplies were very hard to come by in the hot, humid, flooded aftermath.

And many this week will wish that Matthew had never come by.

sign-know-where-youre-going

 

When I travel down to Florida I see these in the driving lanes,  signs, symbols,  necessary to know what they mean.

 

I must be getting old.   The longer I watch the development and the movement of Matthew,  the more I think evacuation is a good idea.

sign-fl-evac-route

For those who can.

Pink is not so pretty when it aims a hurricane at you.     They need our prayers.    Miracles can happen even within a Natural Disaster.

PCDS

October 3, 2016

That would be “Post-Cooper Distress Syndrome.”     Cooper’s gone back  home to his mountain home in the High Sierras.     Been kind of slow, lately;  walking around from room to room,  looking at the last  “proofs”  that Cooper was really here.

A plate of acorns:

acorn-plate-300

(They’ll  be saved; they’re  waiting for an upcoming Christmas craft.)

A jungle:

toys-jungle-300-pond

Cooper and I watched Pete’s Pond and other African  live-streaming webcams.  When you’re five years old,  these animals can be just as “real.”

We have a few photos  now to remember our activities.    Cooper,   “Mommy,”  and I  took  a walk on campus.   We had tried to go to the university’s ice cream shop,  but  Cooper analyzed the length of the line and said it would be too long to wait our turn,   so then we went on a hunt to find the big statue of Sparty,  just like he has in one of his books at home —  but we ran out of time and energy, so we just ended up here:

spartan-stadium-350

Good enough.  He’s already a Spartan fan — in California!

We were on campus that afternoon to take in the children’s show at the planetarium.

pl-jupiter-325

 His Mommy and I sort of mentally rolled our eyes when we found out that Sesame Street characters would be teaching us things  . . .

How big is the moon?

pl-moon-size-325

What would the earth look like if you were on the moon?

sept-went-to-the-moon-250

Our solar system is a big place:

pl-saturn-big-place-325

Those Sesame Street characters were actually pretty interesting.

But it’s Fall, now,  and time to enjoy the harvest!   A trip to “Uncle John’s Cider Mill”!

sept-the-3-guys-325

So here are the three guys, but . . . you know,  the Uncle John in the picture does not own Uncle John’s  —  we’ll straighten that out in a few years.      Right now he’s just glad his uncle has a  fun place we can go to in September.

sept-cooper-on-a-pumpkin-350

A seemingly endless pumpkin patch to stroll through!

And the apple harvest was good this year, a combination of just the right rain and temperatures at just the right times.  Cooper can tell you about that:

sept-kathy-cooper-and-apple-tree-350

“Do not pick the apples”  signs were everywhere –  but it doesn’t matter to a hungry boy.

sept-picking-an-apple-350-do-not

The days went by so quickly, and then there was the birthday party  (a couple posts ago)   and then there was all kinds of other fun things around grandma’s house.  Like the spray can that shoots out long, long strings –  and Daddy got Cooper!

spraying-daddy-gets-cooper-350

Must have tickled!  

Then Cooper gets Daddy

spraying-got-hius-daddy

Well, this posting is my remembrance,  things I’ll want in my memory for a long time.  It was hard to part, at the airport,  but I asked him about school, and I told him he  has to go back and be my “California schoolboy”  so I know where he is . . .   That worked for a while;  he’s taking his “assignment” seriously.

We’re going to trade pictures that we draw.    We both like drawing.    We both like dinosaurs.   That’s going to work.

Only three more months  without him  . . .  without those little arms around me. . . .

Three more months of PCDS!

WELCOME FAMILY

September 25, 2016

eyes

Welcome, family,   Daughter, Son-In-Law,  and . . .  Cooper!

I’ve been baking and cooking and cleaning for you all,   and now we’re all here together and the days will be so rich and full with you and Son and me.

You asked me what I wanted for my birthday?    

You.

Family:    the Basic Unit of Society.

MOM — THOUGHTS ON A LADY

June 21, 2016

It’s been a tough family month, emotionally.     Father’s Day without a father and  without a Hubbie,  my children’s father.

These things happen.      We’ll all face loss.

Today is another one of those tough days.    Yes,  Strawberry Full Moon –

Moon

No,  “strawberry”  doesn’t mean the Full Moon this month is pink – unless the atmospheric conditions are just right,  smoke in the air perhaps, lots of dusty haze.  But it’s the  Full Moon closest to the time when strawberries are known to begin to ripen enough to eat. Big deal in the days before grocery stores and international food sources.   Wild berries are an excellent and necessary source of vital human nutrition . . . .

No,  this day’s  “toughness”  is because it’s also my Mom birthday.   June 21.    Summer Solstice.    Big deal to us Scandinavians, because this is the most light we get in a day all year.   From now on every day has a little less sunlight.   Not so we notice anymore….  But it will always make me think of my Mom.

One of my favorite photos of her.

Parents Mom cr

She was in her seventies when this photo was taken, I think, or just about.    Golden hair.  It never got gray.    She called her hair “feathers”  because it was thin and silky and resistant to hairdressers’  manipulations.    I loved to touch it.

She was not a pilot,  but she was a musician’s wife, and the musician,  my Dad,  was invited to play for some kind of airplane show one nice Florida afternoon.  And the musicians’  wives  “tag along.”

And that reminds me a lot about my Mom.   How often did she   “tag along” with her husband’s activities;  her daughters’  activities maybe;  to  family get-togethers.     In the 18 years that I lived with her,  I never knew her to complain about “having to go someplace”  but she could always be counted on to “be there”  where the family went.

And she was always cordial,   refined,   ladylike,  feminine,  gentle,  rock-solid anchor in our thoughts because she never got emotional about things.    She  never said an unkind, critical word;  I could trust in her steadiness,  check with her;  get some perspective on the swirling social things that sometimes build up and make us tense.

Oh, she wasn’t a  cypher,  she wasn’t a “nothing.”     She was mother, wife,  homemaker,  assistant to a vice president of a large insurance company in Chicago  (Yes,  I was a latch-key child;  my mother worked in days when that was rare.)     and she was half owner of a music store in a shopping mall and ran the business end of the store as well as waited on customers and gave music lessons.   Then another favorite job:  working in a used bookstore.  For someone who loved to read, this was a perfect “retirement”  job, and her customers loved her.  She was a remarkable quilter.   (How did she learn that?)

I’m trying to figure her out here.    She did so many things without question and without complaining.    I don’t know if she felt “strong,”  but in the end,  she was strong.  She kept going.     I don’t think anyone in her family was “easy” on her and not often “good” to her,  but it didn’t seem to matter.

I think she loved us and she loved us back, no matter what happened.

Maybe that was her strength.

Happy Birthday, Mom.     I still want to be like you.  You are still my example to be strong and to be gentle and ladylike and to love and you always, always knew that God exists.

My goodness,  how you loved!

You would be 90 years old today.

 

 

 

THE DAY I THOUGHT I KILLED MY DAD

June 9, 2016

Well, it’s been 60 degrees inside my house for the past couple days.    I feel the cool air more when I move through it.    If I keep moving, of course, I warm up, but my first inclination is to find a nice cozy quilt-cave to wait out this cold spell.    (Was  it just yesterday that I called my goldfish the Sissies?)

So,  me –

ME

It’s fleece jackets, quilts, and books for me for a while.   And thinking.  (If you lived in my head, I think . . .  I really think you’d have a lot of fun.)

The thinking that my mind does comes from many angles, and sometimes the thoughts converge.     Today:  (1)  –  It’s Thursday, and I’m reminded by my common daily prayers that this is the day of the week that the Last Supper occurred;  and Christ told us:  “This is My Body.”   and then (2)   just a week or so ago was the Feast Day of Corpus Christi,  reminding us to think about  what This Is My Body really means.    And (3)   Thursday leads to Friday, the day which Jesus actually gave His “broken” Body in self-sacrifice for us . . .  which leads to Saturday,  Our Lady’s Day, alone with her thoughts,    and then Sunday . . . what it was all for.

Thursday to Friday to Saturday to Sunday . . .

Like climbing a  beautiful mountain,  beginning with Thursday leading all the way up to the summit of Sunday!       (Because we don’t just “remember”  these things;  we’re supposed to internalize them in amazed wonder . . .  and gratitude, if we really understand everything.     I’m running out of years, Dear Readers,  to get this right.)

(4)   So – my Dad?   My poor Dad?

A long, long time ago I enrolled in Arizona State University.  Wa-a-a-a-y   across the country.     My parents,  in a surprising gesture of generosity,  offered to drive me out there — because they needed to see that part of the country too.

LP  station wagon cr

I was 19 years old and the proud  “owner”  of two baby sisters, 2 and 4 years old that year.

We posed them in front of all the interesting scenery during that trip.

LP  sisters i front cr

I put them on top of everything,  so I could take their picture;  rocks, barrels, roadside signs,  touristy objects,   fake mules  :

LP Sisters on Top cr

And we, the whole family,  traveled through strange-looking territory:

LP strange places cr

Funny,  I do actually remember taking all these photos.   Like the proverbial  yesterday.

My Mom was often busy taking care of the little ones,  and that left my Dad and me free to explore the sites more intensely.      We were strong and adventurous.     I was 19, as I said,  and my Dad was an “impossibly” young 38 years old.

I thought he was invincible.

Somewhere along the trip we came to Long’s Peak, Colorado.      14259 ft.

Long's Peak

And there were signs all over about Hiking Trails and Climbing Long’s Peak —  and it sounded like a good adventure.     I don’t know if we went right to the very peak, where the mountain comes to a small point,  but we came pretty close.   I remember seeing signs for  “12,000”  feet and then “13,000”  feet, with arrows pointing onward and upward.

Here,  if you want to do it:

Long's Peak Trail

At about that 12,000 feet sign my Dad said something I thought I’d never hear him say:  “Let’s  stop and rest for a  little while.”

Oh, sure –  a chance for me to take lots of photos!      But my Dad didn’t.

And then, we went farther on,  higher and higher … until my Dad said something again.   Something like “Do you think we’ve gone far enough?”    He  sounded very much out of breath.

(Something I understand now whenever I visit my grandchild who lives  in the high altitudes of the Sierras.)

I said I wanted to take his picture, a photo of his accomplishment, so he put on a smile:

LP  Dad on Peak 400 cr

Right after that photo,  he plopped down hard on the ground – and shook his head in a rather frightening way but he didn’t say anything.   And I looked at him and he looked kind of funny.   The skin on his face was blotchy, white patches and red patches.  I’ll never forget those colors.

We had climbed longer and farther than most of the other people on the mountain that day.     It occurred to me that my Dad was in trouble and there was no way I could get him down the mountain and back to our car by myself.    My mind just went blank at the thought that my hiking enthusiasm  … might … have ….   killed him!

I should have been watching over him!   I should have been aware!

Well, he recovered.   He was young and strong – Viking stock.    We made it downhill and back to my rather concerned young mother . . . .

My Dad and I have talked about this incident occasionally.   He remembers how he felt,   but most of all what he remembers, and what he talks about,  was how glorious it was near the top of Long’s Peak.   What magnificent scenery.   How  beautiful, how lovely —  an amazing, thrilling adventure with no regrets.   And he was glad I had gone with him!

Climbing a mountain –   like  Thursday, Friday,  Saturday, and Sunday.

Honestly –  the thrill is so similar.  So real.   so life-and-death.

A BIRTHDAY & A SAINT ALMOST MURDERED

May 22, 2016

The birthday celebration table:

BDay  Tab;e sr

Steaks.  Salads.   Presents.  Card.   Cake.   (  . . . and a big arm waiting.)      It’s fun putting on a birthday spread, especially for someone very important!

It was Son’s birthday this weekend.    (Oh, yes – the whole weekend;  three-day weekend, as a matter of fact.   Since his profession requires him to work some weekends, and since  so many people wanted a piece of him on his birthday the celebrations will take  three days. )

Which brings me to my point:  so many hours worked!   So many people to see!    Oh,  Son is not complaining,   but I do observe  people who have busy-busy lives.  I once had an impossibly busy life too.

Has time speeded up or are we trying to cram more into our days?

Or are we trying to avoid facing the deeper issues of Life by activity?

Or all of the above?

But this question is nothing new . . .

Complicated

Human life has long been busy and complicated with great challenges and no easy answers.     Many times everyday life prevents us from sorting out Good and Bad;  Right and Wrong;    Duty;   Virtue;  our relationship to God and each other.    We are distracted, willingly or not willingly,  from the serious issues of Life.

Son is an intelligent person, and sometimes he perceives this dilemma too.

Appropriately,   the saint we remember on the day of Son’s birthday is a man named St.  Hospitius.   (“hoss – pish – us”)      He left the high (and complex, busy) culture of Egypt, sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire, in order to find a quiet  place to understand the meaning of life and to work out his relationship with God.

He traveled to the less populated regions of Gaul,  what we’d call France,  today.    He needed time to think and to figure things out.   He chose to live in the ruins of an old tower where he hoped to see not very many people.      Peace and quiet and freedom.

st h and tower ruins

He had quiet time alone, away from people;  time to think, to learn, and to pray.      He knew this much:  that he was certainly a sinner before God, and he wished to atone for his sins,  to do penance,  and to develop a deep friendship with  his Savior.

And as often happens:  we seek,  heaven rewards.     St.  Hospitius was eventually rewarded with wisdom and understanding,  and the power to prophesy and to work miracles.  Once he warned the villagers around him that they had better flee,  because the fierce tribe of Lombards were on their way to attack, pillage, and destroy.

They left,  but he didn’t.   A small group of barbarian Lombard soldiers found him and saw the chains that he usually wore around his waist, to remind him of what a great sinner he was.   The soldiers thought he was some kind of criminal.

He agreed with them!     Yes!  In the eyes of God I am a criminal.    A great sinner.”   So since he was a self-admitted “bad guy” and an obvious outcast,  they were free to kill him.

Stospitius in chains

A soldier raised his sword to strike,   but the soldier’s arm became paralyzed.   St.  Hospitius made the sign of the cross over him —  the soldier’s arm became “un-paralyzed”   — and the soldier realized this is a holy man of God, and soon converted to Christianity, along with his (military)  friends.

His life is over now.   He died in 581 A.D.      But the relentless demands of busy, everyday life is still with us, as well as the serious need to sort out  Life and Death issues and make our peace with our Creator before we die.

St.  Hospitius is in Eternity right now.    Our Eternity is still before us.  It’s coming.

 

LUCKY MOM

April 12, 2016

 

 My Son makes me the luckiest Mom that I know.  (I don’t think he reads this blog very often.)

He presented me with a gift the other day.   Then he said “Guess what it is!”

SAMSUNG

Dead mice?

He dumped the contents of a small box onto my counter-top —  I took a step back,  and made a few . . .  guesses.

Finally,  “Are they biological?

I got that one right.

No little feet, so they probably couldn’t be little mice.

I’ve received several other “interesting”  and initially unidentifiable  presents during the past years.   Some come with a warning.   “Don’t bring this upstairs.”      “Don’t stay too close to this. ”    “Don’t let water touch this.”         “Keep this away from matches.”    “This won’t last very long.”      And:  “Just be careful.”

This one came with no warnings.   But  I think it came with an implied request.

Okay,  the answer is,  these are Saffron Crocus bulbs!!!!     So excited!    “How in the world….?”      Then,  soon as he said they’re from Turkey, we both instantly ran into our front room where I keep the big globe;  we found Turkey, then drew a line with our fingers through Spain  and into . . .  Our State in the U.S. !!!!   Yes!!!  Same latitude.

Like Spain and Turkey, we can probably grow these bulbs.   We just have to do something about the average temperature,  which is thankfully NOT  like Turkey or Spain.

And Son’s implied request?    Just think of  a fresh loaf of warm, fragrant yellow bread, dotted with little currants and raisins,  and shiny butter melting down the sides of the crust…..

I’m sure he was.

 

 

GOOD OMENS

January 20, 2016

With the loss of my mother-in-law last week,  death on my mind,  grieving,  missing out on the funeral,  issues of past family history,  I needed to take a few days off to get some perspective.   I was open.   And the “perspective”  came.

On Monday morning,   I made eggs for breakfast.   Morning:  “sleepytime”  for me.   I clumsily turned the eggs over in the frying pan and stared down at this, staring back up at me:

SAMSUNG

I could have chosen to say,  “Well, hmm,  look at that!  I couldn’t have done that if I tried!”   But instead I chose to take it as a good sign,  a good omen for the time ahead.    My choice;   a Rohrschach pan.  My choice to be reminded of love — God’s love!

A step forward this week with a new understanding of Life and Death and the Meaning of Being Alive, and being loved.   Going forth in a world so full of love and caring from God,  that it can manifest in a pan of eggs!

Sometimes “signs” are repeated, as if to say you’re on the right track.

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I cleaned the kitchen after breakfast,  dusted the shelves… and there I discovered two little coins that Cooper had given me.   Cooper is my five-year-old grandson,  rather remarkable for maturity and spiritual insight.  (His early birth and his presence had brought an aura of peace into  Hubbie’s hospital room during his final days.)

Cooper was visiting here at Christmastime.   We enjoyed each other’s company.   But one day,  in the kitchen,  he stopped and reached into his pants pocket and said,  “Here, Grandma,  because you’ve been very good.”   And he handed me the contents of his pants pocket —  30 cents.

My first thought of course was to say, Oh no, that’s your money,  you keep it!   But he was very solemn.  He was serious.  He knows how things work.  In his mind, I had deserved his coins.  This was not the time to contradict what was going on in his mind and in his heart.  It was his gift to me.

I will never forget the eggs, which my clumsiness had formed into a heart, a message of love.  And I’ll never forget the burst of love that came out of my grandson that day.

I will pay him back manifold, someday, somehow.   And for the rest of my life I will try to live up to his opinion of me that day.

Those two little coins will never be spent at  a store.

 

TODAY IS LIFE

December 22, 2015

(A little posting of explanation for my absence) –

Almost finished preparations for Christmas.  Just a few more pieces to go:

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But I had a little setback.    Blindsided by a 5-year anniversary.

We think we  “know ourselves.”   But the “knowing”  is really just  familiarity.  After “many”  decades of life,  you’d think I’d know myself by now.   I thought I knew me:

Descendant of Vikings.  Daughter of a Marine.   Rough and tough tomboy, playing football and “war” with my friends.  Emperor Frederick II of Prussia was my hero during high school;  he’s the reason why I drove myself to manly excellence in academics and physical strength and  . . .  well,  flute.  I can intellectualize my way out of anything.  and I thought I was pretty well self-disciplined . . .  .

But I had an unexpected setback.  Blind-sided.  Emotionally.

The 5-year anniversary?    Is this:

Grandpa and Cooper

I write about Hubbie here.    I write about Cooper.    Five years ago,  one of them was just arriving;  one of them was just leaving.   An unexpected early arrival;  a very unexpected early departure.   (Again,  I chronicled all this in the November 2010 archives here.)

So I’ve pieced my life together;  reinvented my household, as all of us have to do from time to time.   Stayed true to the one who departed and “inserted” into my life the one who arrived.

That’s how December began,  with the residue of “feelings”  I had thought I had managed fairly well but had to wrestle with again.

And then I put some old photos up on the wall —

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Yep.   Me.   And Hubbie.    (A “few” years ago.)   December 21st is our Anniversary.

A lot of years were to follow on after that photo was taken.

And then it’s . . .   history.   Just history.

I was a history major at the university.  I still study history,  but somehow I didn’t expect my own life to become . . .  history.

So that’s where I’ve been lately – away from The Spruce Tunnel.    Perhaps I should get back in and get on with things.    Some busy cheery things have happened this month too.

Today is Life.

There are still a few more pieces to fit together in my puzzle.

 

Bar Cross in middle

 

 

KITCHEN: A PLACE TO LAY ME DOWN

September 26, 2015

Okay,  just a few photos.   There are four things that need to be finished by the workmen,  but they’re coming back when they have the “parts”  —  that is common,  and I now have “places”  upon which to lay the debris of my life:  keys,  purse,   mail,  coffee cup,  half-eaten…things.

Here it is —

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A bit lighter.   Still kind of pretty.

And the new sink,  the “business end”  of the kitchen —

 Now,    all the proportions and sizes are just a tiny bit “off”  from what they were before.   All the counter tops were raised by a half inch or maybe more.   The new sink is two inches deeper.   This makes me feel  small when I do things in here!   Takes some getting used to.    Nobody but the homemaker who spends much of her time in the kitchen would notice these things.

The biggest change?    As I said before,  my counter tops are white.   Were white.  A lot of family history happened on those white counter tops.    Now . . .    not quite white.   They’re kind of that pretty shade of tan in the center of the photo.  Matches the new wood at least.  Will I like it?    How long before I really, really like it?

Here is a bit of a miracle —

 Dishwasher.   Just a new dishwasher.    Not quite a necessity for me,   but I’ll use it and appreciate it.   That’s not the miracle.   The miracle happened a few hours after it was delivered to my kitchen — and the delivery men drove away.   Of course.  They are not the installers.

Son was going to be the installer.    I had to leave for class shortly after Son arrived. — He had full confidence that he could install the dishwasher and make all the connections.   (He’s done it before.)     I had full confidence in him too.

I’m glad I wasn’t home to see all the things that happened during the installation !!!     But Son was unshaken.

And for the first time since this whole new-kitchen process began,  when I came home and saw that new dishwasher ready to go,   I felt unexpectedly  happy and joyful, relaxed and relieved.

It’s over!

See the date?

 One day before my birthday.

I’m on my way to the airport now to pick up Cooper (and Daughter)  for a week-long visit.

 His bed is ready,  stegosaurus and all.

Deo gratias.

ALONE AND UNSEEN

November 28, 2014

That’s not really a sad title.   Nor a happy one, of course.     Just no emotion (yet);   just . . . matter of fact:

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Thanksgiving week;  part of it in Florida.   That’s looking out my living room window in my ocean “home away from home.”   It’s off-season and so there was no one on the beach.  Florida was having its version of “winter,”  overcast skies, cool and strong winds flowing down the beach.

It was good for me to be alone.    When Hubbie died four years ago this week, the shock and grief was pretty devastating,  but we are carrying on for him in the manner in which he intended us to live, even though he is now unseen.      He would want us to eventually be “okay,”   not feel too alone.       When my father died two years ago, that was devastating in another way.   So many things I need to tell him and show him,  but he is unseen now too.    And now two more years have passed, and I’ve just lost my mother.   She is unseen now too,  but as I wrote here before,  everything she is I carry within me.    In a way,  I’m not alone.

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So here I am, in my   “front yard” — a.k.a. the beach —  sitting by the water,  in my orange “water shoes”  and my orange skirt,  wrapped around my legs by the wind.     I was  thinking about these three people in my life,  trying to feel how it feels to be alone in the world without Hubbie, Dad, or Mom.

But I didn’t know.   All I “knew” that day was  the sand and the cold wind and the noise of the pounding surf.    And a little visitor.   One of those fast-running little sandpiper-type birds that feed at the edge of the surf.  One of them became very curious about  my shoes.   He ran up to me,  I picked up my camera . . . slowly . . .  but he retreated as I snapped the picture.

Then he ran completely around me and my chair, about 18 inches away from my foot –  and I took another picture!    And a second time, running completely around me — and another picture!   And then he circled me a third time, a little closer — and another picture!

But all those pictures show only my shoe;  there is a lag time between the time my finger clicks the camera (on my cell phone)  and when the camera actually snaps the picture.    So the little sandpiper remains unseen by my camera;  he’s unseen,  but I wasn’t alone there.

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I stayed yet another day at that place,  needing to hear the commotion of the surf  that seemed to drown out unnecessary thoughts.       It was another mostly overcast, cold, windy day, alone at the beach.

I moved back up to my “back patio”  to  read and pray and think, still looking out at the ocean.   And then something moved near me.   Not a bird at my feet this time,  but something whizzing  above my head, sometimes twenty, sometimes thirty, sometimes ten feet away — up there.   It was a little airplane.  Someone’s remote-controlled airplane.     So of course I took a picture:

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Like the little sandpiper,  it was mostly too fast for my camera.   I have about fifteen more  of these photos, all different angles.   For a while I thought maybe this is a “drone.”  a drone with a camera!    So I waved.   And smiled and waved again.   But  I think I was unseen there on that patio.

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The clouds broke a little,  and this time I was lucky with the shutter — I caught that little airplane.      Some young guys having fun with their airplane. . . . and so I wasn’t really alone.

A little more staring out at the beach —

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I’m not sure if I’ve seen enough of it,  but I was feeling like it was time to go.    I’d been alone, and it had felt good.   I’d been free and unseen for a while, with the little bird’s attention,  next to the young men  with their airplane fun.

I’m going “nowhere” with my feelings, but there are people waiting for me “somewhere” at home.

It’s . . . just . . . time to go home.

“RIP CURL WATCHES GREAT WET SUITS TOMMY BAHAMA”

November 21, 2014

 

That’s what the sign said.

Indi pretty storeIt was on a building here, next to this pretty store that I like to go into.     I wanted to take a picture of the sign,  but it was lit up too brightly in the dark night, and my camera didn’t know how to compensate.   It couldn’t understand the lighting, just as I couldn’t understand the words.

“RIP CURL WATCHES GREAT WET SUITS TOMMY BAHAMA”    –   I don’t know what that sign is saying.   I don’t even know if it’s saying something legal.   Or decent!

I sat looking at it, staring out the window of the little seafood restaurant, not making much sense of the sign or of anything else.   I know things.  I know what happened to our family this week,  but I don’t understand that either. . . .   but what do I really know?

I came “home” –

SAMSUNGMy “home away from home”  this week.  Sat on that sofa and moped for a while.      The doorway to the left of the table looks out into the black night and the sound of the surf pounds into the room;   too loud to hear the radio,  to loud to think.

I went outside there, stood right by the big waves, in the dark night.  All I could see was the tops of the waves as they broke and the white foam rushed towards me,  landing on the wet sand and  then gets blown all over by the strong, warm  winds.   18 to 24 knots, they said.   But what do I know?  I think in m.p.h.

I took a little flashlight with me because my sister says little creeping things come out of the sand at night, like crabs and sand fleas.    I’d  shown the flashlight at my bare feet once in a while, but didn’t see any.     But what do I know?     Everything looks creepy by flashlight on the beach.

I went out to think about things:  about death;  about my Mom being dead now;  about family life and being an individual.  But I didn’t come up with any thoughts.  Just stared at the huge dark ocean.

What do I know?

 

I think TOMMY BAHAMA is up to no good.

 

AT LIFE’S ENDINGS

November 19, 2014

 

I came down here to Florida to visit with my Mom.

cross and man

I wish I could show you many photos of my Mom, but even the pictures wouldn’t say it all, so I won’t post any right now.  Maybe later.  

Just picture a blonde, curly-haired little toddler with a happy, perky face.   She was described as a happy, loving, very kind child,  giving help or giving things to people to try to make them happy.  She’s frequently shown with puppies or kittens or her beloved big sister nearby.

I haven’t seen photos of her as a young girl or in high school, because she was the victim of a broken home.  Very broken up.  Not because of immorality,  but because of diseases and disabilites that were not understood in those days.   My Mom has been described by the people of her hometown as “neglected”  and “abandoned,”  and “malnourished.”   She used to tell me about the mornings in the Far Far North when she and her sister would wake up with their toes dark blue from the cold, and they would hurry to light a fire in the coal stove to warm up.    I’ve never heard any words of malice come out of my Mom’s mouth about these terrible years.

But that life  came to an end.

Now she becomes a young woman.   Picture my Mom as one of those glamorous Hollywood types, only with a softer, kinder gentler face.  Happy and good, like Deanna Durbin,  but without the singing ability.  Or perhaps a young and lovely Donna Reed.  My Mom understood acting, and she had a short modeling career in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Then she moved on to Chicago to study art at the Chicago Art Institute.

Then that life, too,  came to an end.
My father came into the picture then.   He was a young Marine at the end of World War II and he was from her hometown.    I had forgotten, until my sister reminded me,  that he had been compared to a young and very handsome Frank Sinatra. 

Picture a cold, dark winter night in Downer’s Grove, Illinois.  My Dad in a tuxedo and a fashionable white wool scarf, changing a flat tire, in a snowstorm,  while my Mom and the two mothers and the minister wondered how much longer they should wait for “the groom” to arrive.  And then the minister went home.   Two hours later they had to get him up again to administer the wedding vows — only to find out that the marriage license had been signed in Cook County, not in DuPage County where they were.   A quick drive over to a very sleepy judge in Cook County — and I guess my Mom and Dad were legally married.

But that’s over now, and World War II ended,  and a couple years later I came into the world with a blast –   literally.    My 20 year old parents had a wild ride to the hospital where I was born.    The horn  on their old car got stuck and blared the entire 45 miles to the hospital.  I can’t imagine what was going through my Mom’s mind during that car ride.
I remember my Mom as a pretty, young professional “career woman,”  and arriving home at night, dressed in her beautiful city clothes, usually a pretty feminine blouse and soft swishy skirt,  or a lovely dress, high heels, and standing at the kitchen stove,  hurrying to make dinner for her family, and  then later – the best time of the day  — standing by me as I ate my “midnight snack” before going to bed.

She was a loving, kind, and gentle Mom to me.   Never an unkind word about anyone.    I never heard a judgment or a criticism.   She hit me once, though,  on the shoulder,  and I soooooo much deserved it.  I had talked back to her and you just never, ever talk back to your mother.     (Not even if your immature brain thinks it’s justified.)    Even that “hit”  was a firm and loving instruction from her.  She really, really did love me.

Now that phase of her life came to an end.   We moved from Chicago to the wilderness in the Far Far North.

She became a mother of two more daughters,  but just two short years later I left home,  and she became the person who answered my letters or   who talked on the phone with me. 

She (and my Dad)  raised their second family, lived in a few states, and ended up in Florida.  Mom is working for a small university,  but she is still wife and mother.    Working.   Knitting.  Quilting.  Reading.   Getting used to Florida.  Making friends.   Going to church.    And then my two “baby sisters”  had grown up and left home. 

That phase of her life came to an end.     And even my beautiful young parents eventually began growing old.

As it was happening,  their declining years seemed to be lasting a long time… a couple decades?   But the illnesses started, and the treatments —  the treatments that convinced me never to go to doctors.    Almost never.    I watched their health being managed downward into an irreversible spiral.  

The years of independent adulthood were over for my Mom.  Eventually, due to one treatment commonly given to women,  her brain was impaired, her thinking disrupted.

Her husband died and her life as a wife came to an end.

All these phases of my Mom’s life,  all those parts of her life were actually and really over and done with,  locked into an almost dormant memory.
The doctors called me recently and told me my Mom was sick, and it was “urgent”  that I come to Florida to see her. 

I didn’t know what to expect.   One nurse called and kindly “warned” me to expect a tiny, frail woman lying in bed.  Another called and said she was doing so much better on the new medicine.  Another phone call told me there is nothing more medical science can do.

I found her sitting up in a wheelchair, IV tubes,  oxygen tubes.   That’s all right;  I’d become used to seeing people like that in the years I worked in a hospital, in the years I saw Hubbie “attached” to things like that.  They are still the same person they are.   Mom was still Mom.

What I treasure the most, is that when Mom finally recognized me, her face lit up with a mother’s joy.  She was not only alert,  she was interested,  engaged in our conversation.  We talked about old times, and she laughed – she even giggled at one point.  She asked questions – or tried to, and then seemed to gather patience, resigning herself to just hearing me chatter on.   But she still made “comments”!

For two and a half hours we conversed. 

Then this last conversation, too, came to an end.   She became “sore” from sitting in one place so long.  Her throat hurt from the dry, cold oxygen running into her nose.    We laughed together and decided it was way past her bedtime.  

We looked forward to talking more the next morning, and seeing the old photographs I had brought with me.    The nurse came in . . . .

The next morning my sister and I met and made our plans to see Mom . . .  and while we were talking the phone rang.

Mom had passed away a few minutes ago.

No.    No.     No.     No. . . . .

No.

This last, elderly, physically debilitated phase of her life came to an end.

My sister and I talked — non-stop — for the next 15 1/2 hours.   Keeping Mom here, I guess.  Keeping her anchored in our lives.   Finding all the places in us where she had formed us    We know she lives on because of her faith in Jesus, and she is in the hands of the King.   But my sister and I live on here, hoping to find all the things Mom gave us;   hoping to stay true to all the things Mom made us to be.
 
What she was and the lives she had lived have all come to an end, and all we have in this present time are precious memories of it, in this present time.  The present is all any of us really have.

You know?   Until this present time comes to an end.

 

 

 

ELECTION NOTES – 2

November 3, 2014

fam cartoon

Guard your family!      Mother-Father-Daughters-Sons  –

The basis of any strong, coherent nation is the Family Unit.      Families, then related families,  then related families and friends,  then neighborhoods and villages,  then building on up to larger units with limited and well-defined roles to play over the local areas.     Family groupings in rural areas and villages  willingly and wisely give a bit of their money to a larger unit for the sake of protection,  police,   fire departments,  building roads and bridges, delivering mail. . . .   Perhaps a few more roles for these larger units to play.  But local families know best how to govern themselves.

vote blackboard

We vote soon.

We vote, yes or no,   for the people who would like to “transform”  our families into . . .   whatever.

We vote, yes or no, for the people who would like to re-define our families into . . .  whoever chooses to live at the same address.

We vote, yes or no,  for the people who would like to take apart the family so that the individual family members don’t have their individual roles to play.

fam teaching own fam

We vote, yes or no, to give   money government schools where they are trained and indoctrinated with values that do not match our own.

fam mom teacher

We vote, yes or no,  for a big government to take more and more of the money that we earn and distribute it to wherever it will do them the most good.     They don’t tell us where our money is going,  why so much is missing,  why so many failed corporations began receiving our money,  why so many foreign banks and foreign interests are receiving money that Americans are earning, why so much of our money pays for issues local families don’t believe in.

fam bye bye mom

In most families now,  all the adults and all the teenagers have to go to work.   “Bye-bye, Mommy.”

Again, the basis of a strong nation is your strong, viable, stress-free, intact family.    Perhaps 10,000 years or more, since the ice age glaciers melted and modern history began,  family is man, woman, children, more blood relatives where necessary.    And the family is the first teacher of the children of a nation.     Skills and abilities and values and faith is passed down from parents to their children.

fam first teacher

A strong, healthy nation cannot be “transformed”  unless it is first BROKEN DOWN.    “They” cannot transform your family until they first break it down, whether they do it by redefining the idea of family and  rewarding those who demonstrate their new definitions,  or whether they do it directly,  by creating rules, regulations,  and taxation that makes it hard and stressful to live as a family.

Election Note #2 takes a lot of work and a lot of homework to find out which policies promoted by which candidates seem to be the most traditional family friendly.    Vote for a healthy local government.  Vote against a  Big Government  that is in the process of taking control over every issue of our family lives.

Big government  wants to transform — YOU!

 

WHAT LIES WITHIN

August 28, 2014

The title of this post could have a question mark.    In preparation for our carpet installation I’ve been going through everything in my house,  every shelf,  every cabinet,  bookcase. . . .  and that’s my constant question:  What’s in here?     Oh!  What’s in here!!

SAMSUNGInside of this old cabinet I found three black rectangular boxes.   The one on the left contained my slide rule!!!   I found it, at last!!   Many happy memories with that slide rule.    I remember when Hubbie bought his first “calculator.”     It was very expensive, but he thought it was justified because he taught Accounting at the time.   I never liked a calculator.  I was much faster with pencil and paper  (or slide rule)  and Hubbie and I had some interesting “races”  with columns of figures.

I don’t know.  Maybe he never got the hang of using a calculator.   Ha!    When you do math with your hands  (pencil or slide rule)  you’re really, really doing the math, and the mind is far faster than trying to get electrons to jump into the proper place,  doing the math for you.

The black box in the middle is my piccolo.   That was kind of fun too.   Both of those boxes have been “lost” for a long, long time.

But the box on the right….   I don’t recognize it.    I don’t know what’s in it.   It has a little thing on the seam that I think is where you’d open it — if your fingers were strong enough.   I can’t get it to move.    Whatever is inside is well-protected.

Son will  do it next time he visits.

They say it’s a good idea to move to another home every  so many  years;  the interval varies.      The happy result of such moving is that you have the opportunity to become reacquainted with everything you own, and you are forced to select what to keep and what to throw out.     Sounds like the goal is to pare down your life to the bare minimum.

I think “thinning things out” is just a minor goal.

Much more significant is that when you have to move all your things,  whether to a new place or to the same place, as in my case,  what you will be doing is retrieving your past.  As Son told me recently,  “if you don’t remember some things,  they don’t exist for you anymore.”

When parts of you are disappearing from memory,  it’s not your belongings that are thinning out,  it’s you.

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I came across one old box that contained all kinds of greeting cards, used and unused.   I’m normally not a,  uh,   “methodical”person, so I poured everything on the floor and began sorting them out, new cards to be sent,  old cards received.  I read every one of those cards.  I enjoyed every one of them – again.    I appreciated all my friends and the time they took to write something inside their card.   I’m glad I’ve saved these, because it’s like visiting again with good people.   My life is fuller.  I haven’t “lost” their kind words.

But there are other kinds of cards:

SAMSUNGThese are some of the sympathy cards that we received when Hubbie died.

Please know that the extra effort you take to write in someone’s card, in your own hand,  is felt by the bereaved, deep down in their hearts. And the cards are sometimes saved and read again, and your kind words give strength and support once again.

And it brings back hard memories —  of course.

Memories that you don’t want to lose.

“What lies within”  is sometimes a very, very important part of you.

It’s a big chore to move your stuff around,  but don’t try to remove too much of the “stuff.”

 

MAY 21st

May 21, 2014

About 3:30 in the morning, a certain number of years ago,  Hubbie raced out of the house to awaken our neighbor who promised to care for our little daughter….  I somehow managed to get myself into our car, and in a few moments we were speeding through the city.

“The baby” was on its way,  and the hospital was a half hour from our house.     I was put in a wheelchair, and someone said  “Arrival time, 4:00.”

Son was born at 4:19.

A night to remember!   And a Son to celebrate today, May 21st.

We had a nice day,   Son did “whatever he wanted to do,”  and I enjoyed scurrying about getting birthday surprises ready.

Neither of us managed to feed ourselves much today,  so we really  enjoyed a late birthday meal of  unusually good-tasting baked potatoes,  broccoli,  a good salad,  and — ribs!

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That’s a large pan that held a whole rack of ribs with barbecue sauce from Georgia, made with peaches, from Georgia of course.  Oh, my,  that was good sauce!    Not much left!

Then it was time for the birthday things:

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I took a photo of Son sitting behind that birthday cake,  but Son is so big that the cake looked rather miniature.     Chocolate-lovers torte…creamy and delicious.   How fun it is to do everything you can think of for another person whom you love.

I think he had a good day today:

SAMSUNGNo –  I did NOT put him to work.   He “did whatever he wanted to do.”    I’m just really glad he had my lawn in mind.   He used a push mower for the front lawn, a power mower for the back.  I don’t know why.

Tomorrow he goes back to his pharmacy to work –  where I hope his employees will treat him well, in a birthday kind of way.  In the evening there is a nice dinner planned for him – a “dinner for two.”   And then more work and more birthday invitations in the evening.

For someone who took only  19 minutes to come at the hospital,  he knows how to stretch out a celebration!

Happy Birthday, Son!    Your day!   Your life!    To celebrate.

Deo gratias!