Adventures Together

photo-1504567961542-e24d9439a724I enjoy hanging out with and helping my mom. When my dad was going through treatments for melanoma, I got into the habit of helping around the house and yard every week or so. My parents are workers, so while they didn’t really need my help, they always had projects going on.

My work schedule doesn’t allow as much flexibility as I once had, but I still try to spend weekly time with my mom, and at least every few visits, I ask what projects are on her list. I enjoy helping however I can.

Recently, we had a full morning planned. It got redirected first thing when one of her neighbors called to see if she/we could pick green beans. One of his regular pickers cancelled. Not only did I get fresh beans for the week, I also got to spend time catching up with one of my very best childhood friends. And we had the added adventure of maneuvering the exceptionally muddy garden.

Mom and I returned to her house and hosed off buckets, shoes, and ourselves before more adventures. We (hopefully) cleared a gutter, de-birdnested her garage, and trimmed trees. That’s the simple explanation of what we did. A bit more detail: I chickened out climbing onto the roof, might be scarred for life by the denesting experience, and had a blast trying to trim tree branches while standing on the back of the ATV while Mom drove. The fact that neither of us got hurt or caught poison oak from our adventures is remarkable.

We had fun together. We accomplished a lot. We made more memories together.

My mom has been through a lot in the last several years. She stood by my dad and loved him well through some tough treatments and decisions. She said goodbye to her very best friend and life partner. She watched my pain as the person I loved and she welcomed into the family as a son walk away with betrayal, dishonesty, and disregard.

Yet we laugh. We move forward. We appreciate what we have. And we have plenty.

Appreciate the adventures of today and the people in your life. Take time to look around, take a breath, and smile.

Two I Do’s and One I Don’t

photo-1488563191899-79b83cb52fb9Marriage begins by imagining what you want life to look like together. Then it becomes real, and you leave the fantasy behind. It’s hard sometimes, but you choose to say I do again and again and again. It’s messy sometimes. But choosing I do when it’s hard and messy is one of the things that makes it deeply relevant. Saying I do makes the sacrifices worthwhile, because we commit to togetherness. We commit to teamwork.

Until someone says I don’t.

Anybody can say I don’t at any time, even when you least expect it, even when you’ve been intentionally saying I do. It takes two I do‘s to get married, and only one I don’t to end the marriage. And those two words have ripple effects across many lives, whether it’s I do or I don’t.

What ripple effects are you creating in the lives of the family, friends, and community in which you’ve been building a life? The do or the don’t?

Thanks.

Thanks to my mom.

Thanks to my daughters.

Thanks to my friends who have parented alongside me.

Thanks to people who have parented me or my girls as if we were your own at times.

Thanks to people who influenced my mom into the woman she became.

None of the people I thank in this brief post are perfect. But we have shared adventures, memories, grief, struggles, silliness, inside jokes, and many smiles together. Our lives will forever be entwined.

You have made my life richer.

Thank you.

Boomerang Encouragement

17239943_10212391469245663_3793244330793183358_o
©2017 PurePurpose.org

Boomerang encouragement: when my daughter takes some of the cards I sent her through her college years and repurposes them into a cheerful collage to encourage me through a tough season.

I know it was a sacrifice. She kept every single card I sent her while she was at college, which was about one card each week. And she can quickly recall what was going on during the season she received many of the cards. She had mentioned many times that she’d like to do something with them someday. I thought about confiscating them a couple times and creating something new with them, but I didn’t want to disappoint her if I created something she didn’t love.

Then she gave them back to me. I don’t know when she had the time to do it, because it was a hectic, emotionally-exhausting time, not just for me but for her, too. But perhaps creating this for me was somehow healing. Whatever her experience with it, it has become one of the very favorite gifts I have ever received.

I don’t encourage others with the intent to have them encourage me in return. In fact, I think that defeats the purpose and purity of encouragement. But sometimes it comes back hundredfold.

Perhaps you could reflect some encouragement back to someone today, someone who has encourage you through the years. You don’t have to be as creative as my daughter.

Simply encourage.

Happy Yummy Peanut Butter Pumpkin Day

FullSizeROne of my daughters sent this graphic to me and my other daughter a couple weeks ago.

I introduced them to the reality of life early on. I got them ready for Halloween (and supplied some pretty cool costumes through the years!). I got a workout as I wrestled them into and out of car seats while they wore those costumes. I helped them walk up and down stairs and in and out of doors in those costumes. I monitored their sugar intake so they didn’t crash or go wild (okay, so I didn’t always succeed at this task).

And I supervised the sorting of candy. I taught them to throw away any pieces that were unwrapped or otherwise unsafe. I taught them to toss aside or give away the candy they’d never eat (why keep it for months?). And I taught them to give me their Reese’s.

Not all of them. I promise. And I prefer the Reese’s eggs over the pumpkins, but that doesn’t mean I won’t “sacrifice” my taste buds and eat a few pumpkins this time of year.

I don’t hang the “I gave you life” guilt trip over my daughters very often, but we have an ongoing saga about Reese’s, including the “whodunnit” when one of mine strangely disappeared one year.

Some of the simplest stories we share bond us together. And this (literally) sweet memory makes me smile. I appreciate being their mom so much. It’s a blessing and an honor. Right now, I’m feeling nostalgic enough that I might just share Reese’s with them.

Or maybe I’ll just think of them and smile as I eat mine.

 

A Great Ride

Thanks for joining me the last month as I’ve share a month of memories and grief. Something I loved doing with Dad is ATVing. Five years ago, on his birthday, I posted Behind My Dad. A little more than two years ago, as I was riding behind Dad in Wisconsin, I pulled out my phone and recorded a video, so I’d be able to enjoy a ride with him anytime.

Enjoy the ride.

The Final Days

I got to be with Dad during his final days on earth. I wouldn’t change those moments. Nor would I change the weeks leading up to them. Nor would I change the months leading up to those weeks. Or the years leading up to the months.

Not everyone can be with a parent or loved one during the final moments. Some people live too far away. Others know they can’t do it emotionally. Sometimes there are other circumstances that prevent being together. It’s often complicated.

The time I had with my dad was special, but I don’t say that to cause anybody to feel bad if they don’t get that time with a loved one or don’t choose to have it. The final days aren’t a specified time period just before someone dies. The final days are how you choose to spend the moments you have, appreciating what you can, dealing with what you face, reconciling the best you can, pouring into each other, loving each other well.

The time I had with my dad was special, not just in the last days but because of all the time leading up to them.

Today are last days for someone in your life, perhaps yourself. You may be well aware, or you might have no idea. You might have a week, a month, or a couple  years. But as always, time is limited. Spend it well.

Smile. Laugh. Cry. Remember. Resolve. Apologize. Forgive. Share. Love.