Sunday, July 25, 2010

My first time alone...

It was the sky yesterday that reflected my inner turmoil the most. In the midst of blue and sunshine and warmth, dark clouds formed and rain poured down from that one spot overhead... while the sun streamed all around.  Its exactly how I have been feeling... sunshine around the edges of the thunderstorm of grief.

It was a rough week...

Monday, the 19th, two weeks after my Dad passed away, his older brother Marvin joined him in his heavenly home.

I felt ripped open even wider.

On Wednesday, my computer hard drive crashed. Locked within are all of my photos from Dad's funeral and the week or so before that.

On Thursday, our internet stopped working which actually is kind of funny when you think about it. What isn't funny is how slow it is now as the provider tries to fix it.

On Friday we drove to Marvin's funeral which is almost 4 hours from where we live and is the place where my dad grew up.

The tidal wave of emotion that flooded over me as the "big cow" loomed in front of us... caught me off guard. You just know, don't you, that we played "who will be the first to see the cow?" back when we drove an old brown 1970 Ford Galaxy 500, the speed limit was 55 and it felt like we drove to the end of the world to get to New Salem.


My senses were flooded.  The sweet smell of wheat ready for harvest.  The sea of purple, otherwise known as flax, carpeting the sides of the road.  The red scoria rock covered gravel roads that leave a rusty film of dirt on your car as you travel out in the country.  The friendly waves from every car you meet on the road.  The smell of candy mixed in with wooden floors and medicine at the drugstore my other uncle used to own on the main street.

Everywhere, I turned, I was reminded of Dad.  I realized at some point this was my very first time ever visiting New Salem, without my Dad.  Although, I am sure he was with us most of the day.

During the sermon at the funeral I had to remind myself they were talking about Marvin because I've heard the same words said about my dad.  They were gentle, quiet, trustworthy, faithful, hard workers, who loved their families.  I also heard the word "sentimental."  I think they portrayed Marvin "just right."


While Dad's casket had tools inside, Marvin's had tractors wedged into the flowers on top.


The funeral was held in town, but burial took place out behind the old Bethel country church. We used to attend church out there when we visited Grandma. I was entranced with its simple beauty as my cousin gave us a tour inside. Its in some disrepair, but still used on occasion.


Whenever we came to visit, Dad was in his glory and loved socializing after church with all the people that were always so happy to see him. He would have loved knowing his grandchildren got a chance to see the church.


Marvin was blessed with 13 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  My own two boys were even given balloons to release as well.  And do you know where those balloons headed?

... as we held our breath, they flew up over the trees, into the sky and headed collectively... straight to the family farm... there were lots of chuckles as they hurried on their way.

A kind gentlemen showing the kids where the farm is at, after reassuring them there are no snakes in the grass.

After driving past the farm that was recently sold to another family, we headed for home.  I left with a sense of knowing where I come from.  I gathered a couple of wild sunflowers from along the road... just call me sentimental.

On our way home, we stopped by Valley City, where my dh's family farmstead resides. The boys enjoyed standing in the wheat fields.

I shouldn't have been surprised to find a few pieces of wheat tucked into the back seat of the car... they're learning as well.  Their Grandpa would be so proud. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cully's Kids 2010, or how I spent my birthday...

I wasn't going to go... I just didn't think I was ready... but then mom said she'd babysit.  Rick had free tickets because he took pictures at the golf outing earlier that day.  And I knew we'd be surrounded by friends.   So the night of my birthday Rick and I went to the silent/live auction and concert for the Cully's Kids foundation.  Cully's Kids is the foundation started by Matt Cullen and his wife Bridget, which raises funds for healthcare needs of children, with an emphasis on children with cancer.  Matt just signed a new contract to play with the Minnesota Wild this year and our community is so excited to be able to see him play next year so close to home.

The "celebrities" invited to attend are NHL players, like Cory Stillman from the Florida Panthers, and Eric Staal, from the Carolina Hurricanes, and Bret Hedican (married to Kristi Yamaguchi) who recently retired from the NHL.  All three players, played with Matt Cullen in 2006, the year they won the Stanley Cup.

Also on hand were several of our Division I college hockey players.  Do you remember Chris Vande Velde?  He completed his season at UND and then signed to play with the Edmonton, Oilers.  I totally jumped into this picture for the sake of my friend Jen in the green UND jersey... anything to help a friend out... *wink*  *wink*





Michelle and Julie each organize one of the events for the weekend and do an amazing job. I can only imagine the tons of hours they volunteer for the events.

Matt Cullen with his middle son.  In between signing autographs and posing for photos, Matt takes time for his most important role, Dad.


Matt's oldest son running the bases...

While there are celebrities in abundance at the event, the true stars of the day are the kids the foundation supports.  Some of these kids and their families have overcome more obstacles in their short lives than many of us will face in our lifetime.  But they are not lacking in energy, joy and a true light that shines through.  



Nolan was thrilled to be asked to help with some of the games.


Future Redhawk?  Why not dream big...




After two hours we left hot, tired, sweaty, thirsty and utterly satisfied all at the same time.  You come thinking you are going to "help" and leave knowing you are better for having spent time with these amazing kids.  

I can't imagine a better way to have spent my Birthday.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

So... its my birthday...

Its aged. Tattered, and faded. It almost looks like I could have photoshopped it to give it that antiqued and vintage look. But I didn't... that's me baby, over 40 years ago and its time that has well, aged it, much like myself.

Today, the treasure in the picture, is the location of the photo.  I'm on the farm my father grew up on and for all I know it was one of my first visits.  The photo was taken in July of 68, somewhere around the time when I turned 1.  What I miss is the ability to ask my dad who seems seemed to remember everything... but he blessed me with an active imagination that can fill in the gaps in my own way.  I have to wonder if that might not be a stroller my own dad once sat in?  

I've realized this week what my Dad's biggest gift is to me... the delight in the simple things.  I awoke this morning not thinking about if I will have a cake, or presents or even a party, but with a sense of knowing I am okay, that I will be okay, and that is simply enough for today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I couldn't have known...

I started this post, Monday July 12th...

I awoke today with a tingle on my nose. I had mildly sunburned just the top of my nose one day last week and was sure that is all it was, sunburn.

But it instantly brought me back... thirteen years ago to the day, (July 12th, 1997) I awoke to an overcast sky and a tingle on my nose from the fever blisters and sunburn I had acquired. Everyone assured me however, that rain on your wedding day was a sign of good luck.

So on that day, we heaped on make up. Thank goodness for Merle Norman. But honestly,  I felt too heady and giddy to care what my nose looked like.

All I really know is that the day flew by. I know the string quartet we hired played beautifully. I felt love surround me in the shape of family and friends who came to celebrate. The flowers were so pretty. My bouquet was heavy. My dad and I danced to the song Butterfly kisses and he told me it was the first time he had ever really danced at a Wedding dance. These are just some of the things I know...

What I couldn't have known, was that thirteen years later to the day (July 12th), the very same love, from the very same people, that surrounded me on our Wedding Day, would rise up and encircle me again, on the day we buried my father.

In fact, its that un-nameable thing, that I love the most about my husband. I didn't have to ask for his approval to have a funeral on "our" day... he was more than okay with quietly stepping aside in honor of my dad.


So we gathered again at the church. We were nervous about how well the new pastor, having only met Dad once, would portray him. We needn't have worried. He captured the heart and essence of my father to perfection. He pointed to each item, my dad, a woodworker, had made for the church. From the banner hanger that is used for funerals and baptisms, to the kiosk that stands in the narthex greeting everyone with announcements. He spoke of Dad's faith, and his love of his family.

My favorite part was when the microphone was passed and everyone had a story to share. We laughed and cried and laughed some more. I kid you not when I say at least 5 different nieces/nephews told me yesterday "He was my favorite uncle..."  The family that showed up to honor our Dad, took up the entire middle section of our church.  Love, overflowing.



Daddy's final resting place, is in a pine box, under a graceful, shady, apple tree. Seems fitting for a woodworker. Even more fitting, the man who used his hands to craft beauty out of wood, a carpenter, is in his heavenly home, with the greatest carpenter of all.

It turns out my nose, wasn't just sunburned... its covered... in fever blisters, the first time in thirteen years that has happened again.


As many of you know, I am not the only one mourning the loss of her Dad today. Our Sara, who blogs at Gitzen Girl, lost her father unexpectedly last Friday. Her Dad was on a lake in Minnesota and suffered a massive heart attack. He is being laid to rest today and due to Sara's illness, she will not be able to attend. Please visit Gitzen Girl today and leave her some encouragement and love.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

For you Dad...

Dear Dad,

I miss you already. You slipped quietly away from us, from this earth, after a day that frustrated us all in our inability to keep you as comfortable as we would have liked. You were such a trooper, so strong and determined, you didn't want to leave us that day. It was the only day you spent in bed... ever.

But you waited. You waited for your son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters to return home. And when they arrived it should not have surprised any of us, but you walked on your own accord to the living room, sat in a chair and for half an hour you made us all laugh. You wore your Twins shirt with pride that day, and teased your grandchildren while making plans to get Dairy Queen treats. Little did we know, less than 24 hours later, you'd be in your new heavenly home.

While you've left us physically, I still feel you everywhere. Your scent clings to your things in the bedroom in the apartment. We've filled the apartment with your beautiful wood work from dressers to desks. The scent of wood shavings and sawdust will forever remind me of you. Going to find your suit in the basement of your old house, was almost more than I could bear. But seeing the "chip clip" you used to hold the plastic together over your suit made me laugh, resourceful you at your best.

As much as you fought through your illness to stay with us, and refused to acknowledge your imminent passing, I have no doubt God blazed a trail for you right up to heaven. The sunset Monday night was a spectacular sight. I have never seen the whole horizon glow as golden and bright as it did that night, just hours before your passing.

Dad, I hope its okay... we picked pine wood for your final resting place... I know you never cared to work with pine because of how hard it was to rip through the knots with your saw. But it was rustic and sturdy, with an understated beauty, and it reminded me of something you may have made yourself.

I love you Dad...

I have always been proud to be "your little Snicklefritz..."



Thanks to Rick, for being there for me and for capturing this sunset in all its glory...

As I sat writing this morning, this showed up in my email. Thank you Brian Andreas for giving me the perfect words to go forward from here...

StoryPeople... Story of the Day...

I carry you with me into the world,
into the smell of rain
& the words that dance between people
& for me, it will always be this way,
walking in the light,
remembering being alive together

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nolan, the locksmith and the FBI...

We'd suck at being burglars... Breaking and entering is not our strong suit. Okay... ask me how I would know this?

It was the stunt that nearly put me over the edge last night on a day that had been nothing but a comedy of mishaps all day... otherwise known as "one of THOSE days."

The fighting and bickering amongst the boys was constant. Nobody, wanted to go hockey camp, maybe even me. Its beens 4 long weeks of car pool in and around road construction, several times a day and nobody was all that anxious to climb in the car again. So because we were already running behind, it was the day the baseball gear was left on the seats in the truck.

I tried everything I could to push it, pull it and drag it to make room for the all the boys and their hockey gear. It took 3 of us, but we got it to budge finally. I was hot and tired. It seemed to follow me the rest of the day.

After an hour of running to Walmart and back and 14 phone conversations about it, I discovered the tension rods I bought for the shower at mom's new apartment...  already came installed with her showers... she just didn't notice them. I'm hot, tired and insert crabby here now.

The next call comes when Rick realizes that not only can he not coach Colton's t-ball game, but he can't run Nolan's practice either. With half an hour to spare we had to line up rides for Nolan, coaches to cover, and I had to move the baseball equipment again! I am hot, tired, too tired to be crabby in fact, and now hungry... Enter the FBI... yes really. The coach filling in for Rick is an FBI agent... I mean if you can't count on the FBI, who can you count on?

With Nolan safely to his practice, and Colton with me at his game... I began to think I was home free... which one should really never think...

While I am sitting at Colton's game I get a text from a friend. Nolan is at her house, because he is locked out of our house... hmmmmm... I know I left the door open for him...

But since this is Nolan...

I return home, having just sat through a gale force wind and the most I've had to eat is the sand thrown in our faces from the fields... only to discover when I open the garage door... that by "locked out," Nolan means he not only locked our outside door, but he locked the door leading from the garage to the house... we are screwed.  Safe, but screwed.

Grandpa has the only spare key... on his key ring at the lake an hour and a half away. Okay... tired, hungry, hot, gritty, thirsty... and HOMELESS!!

While I am trying to google from my phone "how to break into your house...," hubby enters.

In one fell swoop he loads us all up, gets drive through pizza, brings us home, remembers cold gatorades in the fridge in the garage... and calls a locksmith.

Locksmith guy shows up... in 2.8 seconds and 60 bucks later, has us in our house... I offer him my first born son in trade... literally... he declines...

I am home... I am now grateful, relieved, full of pizza and gatorade, and happy to crawl in to my bed.  Sense of humor, fully intact!

Please dear lord, tomorrow we have to move my parents from their home of 44 years, into their new apartment... please let this day have been the challenging day!!

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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