I found this old Christmas photo while cleaning before all of our company came over the holidays. In my mother's handwriting it says I am 3 and 1/2 years old, and Lee, my baby brother, is 11 months. It was taken by our neighbor, Homer Thune, a professional photographer. It's my father-in-law who stays at this house now. Isn't it funny how life comes full circle sometimes? In ways we could never anticipate, or predict.
Today, my brother is turning 45.
Happy Birthday, Lee!
He was here for 6 days over the Christmas vacation and we were thrilled to have him and his family with us. His oldest daughter, Madison, was 10 months old the last time they visited us in Minnesota for Christmas. (Nolan was 7 months old at the time- they sat around the tree, pulling the bows off their presents and feeding them to each other.)
We laughed about how Minnesota "nice," the weather was for them. Hardly a smidge of snow anywhere and temps downright "balmy" hovering in the 20's and 30's for a few days.
It was unfortunate mom was in the hospital the entire time the Held family was here, but somehow we managed to spend a lot of time with mom, while still making Christmas memories.
My nieces, Madi, and Alex (Alex is one and 1/2 month older than Colton) in the middle next to Colton, below, were troopers about coming to watch Nolan play hockey. He had 4 games over Christmas weekend, while Colton left with Grandpa Jim to play out of town for a couple of days.
Madi and Alex were even up for a couple of late night dinners with all of us after the hockey games. I love the sheer joy in their faces, and the light in their eyes. They have genuine relationships with each other and I love seeing them deepen and widen.
The kids were such troopers about spending time together in waiting rooms, next to Grandma in her hospital bed, the hospital hallways, and the hospital cafeteria, our cramped little house. No movies, like we had hoped. Or time to swim at the hotel. No Sky Zone, like the boys had hoped, or trips to Detroit Mountain. This clearly wasn't vacation in any real sense.
Instead our moments were centered around just being together. And those moments were full!
The kids played cards like Go Fish, and Uno, laughing hysterically the whole time.
Or they quietly played "Trivia Crack," on their phones, while the chaos of hospital life swirled round.
Lee remembered my love of coffee and brought bags of Starbucks to me.
The Helds also remembered our favorite chocolates and brought us plenty of treats right from Hershey.
I loved shopping for books for the girls- many the same Young Adult titles I've borrowed and read.
Our interests and desires, overlap, despite the distance. The time apart, does little, to pull us apart. We simply pick up, right where we left off.
Our time together was the best gift I could have asked for. It felt so abundant, and filled with grace.
The smile on my mother's face was undeniable. Her spirits were uplifted, her mood cheerful. Despite her circumstances, she persevered.
Our tradition has always been to have Rick capture one photo of the kids before they leave. Then he blows it up big and makes a portrait for my mother's wall.
It was our last day together and although it was cold, the sun shone brightly in the bluest of skies. I think the number of tears I shed that last day, rivaled the number of laughs we'd shared those 6 days. But its a bubble of time and space we shared, that I wouldn't trade for anything.