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.
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.
One 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.
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.
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.
All this month, I’ve been sharing stories and thoughts about my dad, who died just over a year ago. The month is coming to an end, and I would miss an essential part of Dad’s life and my memories if I didn’t share about my mom and dad’s marriage.
They did marriage well. Maybe I can claim that for the sheer length of their marriage. But to me, it was more than that. I’m sure they would agree. It wasn’t that they had it all figured out or had a perfect marriage. They were two imperfect people doing their best.
It’s not that I think my or everyone else’s marriage should look exactly like my mom and dad’s. All marriages are different. But there are some things I learned from watching them together, through better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.
Do your best.
Be willing to grow.
I’m still working on some of these. But I’m doing my best. Just like they did. I’m thankful for their example.
My dad was ATVing once and saw a bear cub and its mama in the distance. He decided to fearlessly (or foolishly) follow it. As the story has been told, my brother-in-law immediately asked him, “Is this a good idea?”
“Probably not,” my dad replied.
He called me once from Texas to tell me how exciting it had been to drive his truck along the shoreline. He was thrilled to have felt the sand and water moving the truck beneath him. I laughed but told him, “If you want to have fun and take yourself out, that’s your choice, but please don’t take my mom out to sea with you.”
My dad seemed a bit fearless at times. He liked adventures.
But he had no desire to ride in a plane over the ocean. So much for trips to Hawaii or Europe. In fact, he wasn’t very excited about riding in a plane over land either. He had his pilot’s license at one point and said he imagined what could be wrong with every sound of a passenger jet.
Then there was the time he and I rode a very large Ferris wheel. Let’s just say it wasn’t his bravest moment. I was a bit shocked and reported what happened to Mom when we got to the bottom. She wasn’t surprised, and he denied the whole thing.
Even the fearless have fear. Even the brave have concerns. Even the bold have caution.
We all have something. It doesn’t make us weak in a bad way. It makes us weak in a human way. A bit of fear, concern, and caution are good for us when applied well.
My dad wasn’t always right in his judgment of what to fear and what not to fear. None of us are.
Personally, I think Ferris wheels can be fun. So are baby bears. But I’m more likely to get close to the former.