family

Mystery Envelope

A self-addressed stamped envelope on the kitchen table. (Who even does that anymore?) My own handwriting. A return address sticker with a name I didn’t know. Confusion.

Opened the envelope to find a letter and some photos. A pile of very old and very unexpected memories.

It was her very first plane ride. A whiplash trip to Naples, Florida. Me and my little baby.

Took the 8am flight out, the 8pm flight back. Nothing but a car carrier, diaper bag, formula, a ton of diapers, my little front baby pouch, and some food. Her Great Grandma was nearing the end of life, and I wanted them to meet each other before Great Grandma passed away.

We took a shuttle straight to the nursing home. Met her Great Grandma during recreation time. She sat in her wheelchair. My little Anne, still wobbly on her feet, reached up for her. Great Grandma was deep into dementia by then. I’m sure she didn’t know me, she didn’t know Anne. But still, even through the fog and confusion, Great Grandma’s face lit up. A sweet little baby, soft and curious, reaching up to be held. Their smiles echoed each other’s – wide and cheerful.

We spent a couple of hours. Just talking about nothing in particular. Great Grandma hadn’t been my family for very long. She was my Grandpa’s fourth wife. He had been her third husband. He passed away first, leaving my little known new Grandma to handle his affairs. This wasn’t an easy process, but my Dad loved and accepted her because she had been his Dad’s choice. He still called her every week. But she hardly knew me. I hardly knew her. There was just a lot of smiling and playing with the baby.

We flew home. I wrote her a letter and sent her photos of the visit. As I wrote in the letter, I knew she didn’t have much use for clutter in her tiny single room. So I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope in case she wanted to return them.

Fifteen years later, 2021, the envelope, the photos, appear in my mailbox. My sweet baby in the photos now drives her own car. Still has the blond hair, but she’s five foot nine. She still reaches up. She still smiles, and brings smiles to many.

A letter from her daughter came with it. She had just found the photos, with my letter and envelope, in a long packed away box of photos and keepsakes. Obviously Great Grandma wanted to keep them, she wrote. What can you do but wistfully smile at fate and memory and times long gone?

I got to share the story with Anne, and the pictures. Shortly after that visit, I learned that those were the very last photos ever taken of Great Grandma. Her own children appreciated them, and cherished that we took the time to visit.

Across fifteen years, a whisper from a daughter I may have met once. A memory of an experience that mattered, even if Great Grandma and Anne wouldn’t have known it at the time.

When I think about it, it was kind of crazy. Take a baby on a plane? By myself? Twice in one day? Just to see someone who probably won’t recognize me? Who may not even know why we are there? Yup, I did that. I’m still that kind of crazy. The kind of crazy that will drive hours out of my way for a hug. That will go over and above just to do something little. The little things are the big things.

Take time for people. Take time to write. To chronicle and share. To connect and care.

family

Fresh Air, Fresh Hair

Don’t underestimate the value of fresh air or fresh hair. Today I had a little of both. This weekend I had a plan for me and my mom. Normally my weekend involves toting kids to activities or getting to point a, b and c at set times. This weekend was different. No have tos. Only want tos.

First event was sunrise yoga. I got a fresh start on crisp morning with some wonderful gal pals. This step was important. I stepped outside first thing in the morning. I had clarity of the mind. I was all-around peaceful. Ready for the rest of the weekend.

Stop two was a pick up. A kidnapping of sorts. I got to grab the beautiful, one-of-a-kind mother of mine. I was taking her from her home to get some fresh air and a haircut. 12 weeks she had been cooped up thanks to Corona. The opportunity was there and I took it and her. Off we went. The haircut didn’t take long but how she enjoyed the shampoo and the cut. She felt like a million bucks. Even if you can’t go places often feeling good about yourself is important. She needed and wanted the hair cut for that sole purpose: to feel good. I felt amazing for making it a reality.

We didn’t stop there. We packed up for a mountain escape to the amazing cabin in the woods. A short drive but one that yields gorgeous views.  From icicles on the rock formations to mist on the mountains, it’s part of the experience. She doesn’t like to eat in the car but I packed her some sweet treats for the ride and it made for a perfect picnic. No crowds in a restaurant to worry about. Just yumminess to go. 

The weather was perfect. The cool mountain air was just what was needed. Fresh air. No smog. No mask filtering the air. Just fresh, crisp mountain air. Secluded. Peaceful. Surrounded by amazing views. What more could we ask for on our escape?

We baked a chicken. We made a salad fresh from the garden and it was ever so tasty. Fresh bread warmed in the oven topped off our meal on girls weekend. Off we went into the darkness to view holiday lights. First stop was the small town decorations. Then into the hidden homes that each played 20-minute light shows set to music. It was a new, fresh holiday treat for us. Windows were down, fresh air flowing, holiday music was blaring and lights were flashing. A great way to make new memories in a new place away from the crazy of life the dark shadows 2020 had cast on many.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I never know how much time I have with my mom. For now, I enjoyed the peacefulness of fresh air and many smiles and giggles with the woman I have adored for years.

Many I know don’t have the luxury I have of still having their mom. I share mine when I can so others can have a sliver of her wisdom, her personality, and her sweetness. Getting to your 80s is a milestone. Still moving about and experiencing new things and places is a gift. Living through a pandemic and bending and flexing to rules and lockdowns is draining. Fresh air and fresh perspective can put the fog of tomorrow in the rear view, even if it’s just temporary.

family

Take the Detour

I had a weekend getaway on the books. About a 4.5 hour drive. Not super excited about it but the dynamic duo was on the move. In the car. Gassed and ready to go go go.

The departure time wasn’t set in stone but time was on our side. No rush rush rush. We had a cushion built into our drive. How would we use our time? What would we do when we arrive?

There was a stop for gas. A stop for a coffee. Then there was a spontaneous adventure. A detour that took longer than the drive itself.

A quick chat at the coffee window led to a sweet downtown spot with some unique shops to browse. We may have been masked indoors but outdoors we could enjoy the fall weather and stroll in the quaint city.  We walked. We talked. We browsed. We never bought anything, but we looked at many things. We smelled the crisp fall air. We went in stores with so much flair. We people watched. I’m sure we were watched.

 As the evening arrived, We smelled all the scents of restaurants prepping for dinner. We explored a new city. A small city tucked away off the highway path. It was just what we needed.  We smiled. We giggled. We enjoyed our time. We snapped a few pictures. It was fun. Oh how fun spontaneous turns can be.

We can all get bogged down from time to time. Find a way to step away and enjoy what’s around you. Take the unplanned path. Visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Take the scenic route to your final destination. 

The hotel was still there when we arrived. We didn’t miss a beat but it seems we missed a lot of traffic. Roadway construction it seems. Our unplanned detour saved us some time while yielding many memories. 

Thank you coffee guy. You added some extra sunshine to my travels unexpectedly. 

coaching, family

Vroom Vroom

The engine has started. The permit is in hand. She checks the mirror to make sure she looks cute. Yup, that’s a correct statement. Here we go. The car is in motion with a teen operating the vehicle!

Month one is here. We make it to the highway. We hit the country roads. We yielded in many scenarios. We drove in the dark. We even drove in the rain. We got gas and she pumped. Big deal for her. We passed a cop which made her super nervous.

My favorite trip was to Chick-fil-A. She wanted to maneuver the drive thru, place her order herself, pay and make sure she could get to the window to get the food. That ending part wasn’t so pretty but the long arm reach was fun to watch. She was sad however when she realized she couldn’t eat the hot food while driving.

So many firsts for her. So many stressful situations for me. We are working on it together. We have time to focus without distractions. It’s been a good first month. Well I should say most of the month was good. A few disagreements on what is left and what is right. I figured that was a prerequisite for the permit but I might have assumed too much. I guess when under pressure you might hear go right and go left?

I’ve decided to document this roller coaster ride with her because it’s time I won’t get back. It’s a memory I won’t be able to recreate. It’s a time to build her up and coach her on something that will give her independence, achievement and a right of passage. She is my youngest child. My last time to make an impact on roadway safety.

From the copilot seat, I survived some more miles of behind the wheel training. I’m learning new ways to cope with stress, anxiety and fear. All of which I don’t normally have to deal with unless I’m buckling that seatbelt to go for a ride with permit girl.

Until next time. Drive safely. Be patient if you see a slow driver. They could be learning to drive.

friendship

Surprise!

Everyone likes a surprise. Nobody likes secrets. Generally speaking I can’t keep a secret. You shouldn’t tell me anything that wasn’t meant for the world to know. Just a fun fact about me.

Ironically, I picked up the phone one day and was recruited to keep a secret from a special friend in my inner circle. Clearly the requester had no idea how bad I am at this or they wouldn’t have asked, right? Maybe I was the only option? Of course I signed up for the job but it wasn’t going to be easy. I just couldn’t say no.

The person being surprised is a sleuth. A gal with 1 million questions and a memory like no other. I’m going to get caught I just know it. She is going to be so mad at me for being deceitful. How will I overcome this?

Why did I volunteer for this? Who can I can recruit to help me be sneaky? At least if I’m not the only guilty party she can’t be mad for long, right? I got the pack on board. We each played our part. So far so good. Days are turning into hours. We are honing our deceitful skills as we speak. 

While we are being deceitful the suspecting party is catching on. Her latest line of questioning was Kim asked me this weird question and then Sarah asked me this on the same day…. Me: okay, so what are you trying to say? She: I hope they are not being sneaky for my birthday. Me: I doubt it. You are imagining things. Big sigh. She: Who are you talking to about flowers? Me: somebody asking a dumb question. She: Who? Me: my sister. Bad answer she is a master gardener. Oh well, dodged another bullet. I think.

We have been keeping a secret about a surprise birthday gathering of an unsuspecting or maybe inquiring soul for what seems like months. In reality it’s a week. It’s been torture to say the least! I’ve had to make sure I don’t slip up in a text, in person or on the phone. Talk about challenging.

Close call the day before. Somebody said I’m bringing your gift tomorrow. Oh no, did she catch on? Nail biter for sure. I deferred and deflected but not sure sure if she fell for it….

It’s been kind of fun in a way but I’ll be glad when it’s over. At the end of the day the surprise went off without a hitch. Tears of happiness were flowing in abundance and a very special person was recognized by many who appreciate her.

When the surprise can be kept, the outcome is amazing. It makes all the scandalous secret keeping worth it. I’ve had my fix for surprises for a while. I don’t even like to wait for Christmas to see what I got for presents. I like to know now. 

The best part was a virtual birthday card. Pretty proud of the idea. Excited for the unveiling but it will be a gift that she can look back on many times. So many people sent amazing messages. Not sure why I’ve never done a virtual card like this before but it was my favorite part of being sneaky. 

A big thank you to my Miagi who put all the videos together for an amazing end result. More tears. As expected. Time to shift back to honesty is the best policy motto. Have you had the opportunity to surprise one of your close friends? If not, be sure to give it a try. See if you can keep the secret surprise!