Monday, July 18, 2016

Turning 49

My mom always told the story of how her and my Dad had decided to name me, their first born child.  If you were a boy, I was going to name you.  If you were a girl, your Dad would name you.  

I've never asked which day I was due to arrive.  I just know my mom was in labor with me for 36 hours, and I never lived that one down!

But Dad had already proclaimed, if I were a girl, I was Vicky Marie.  I often wonder why he chose Vicky?  But I knew why he chose Marie.  He had a very special cousin, Marie, and I would have been named after her... BUT...

July 16th, 1967 at 3:17 pm, I was born.  It just happened to be the same birthday as the young girl my mom used to babysit, named Nancy.  Nancy Kay.

Nancy and all of her brothers and sisters were so special to my mom, how could she not give me Nancy's middle name?  Plus she reasoned with my Dad, I could be called Vicky, but my full name should be Victoria.   

Hence my name- Victoria Kay.  

From the start,  Nancy brought me a gift every year for my birthday. I don't recall if we got something for her every year.  I just know, long into my teen years, Nancy would surprise me with a small, beautiful gift. 

Throughout the years we went to the same church as Nancy and had contact with her on various occasion.   

But then I moved, married, and had kids.  My mom would keep in touch with Nancy and give me updates every once in awhile.

After we moved back here, one year I finally found an address for Nancy, and sent her a card for her birthday.  I told her how much her presents in the past had meant to me and I wanted to thank her.  She called me, weeping over the phone, thankful for being remembered.  Lesson learned on my part.

More years passed.

It was just last week I was scanning the newspaper headlines, and saw on the obituary page that our Nancy had died a few days prior.

I had no idea Nancy was sick,  It would have been my mom in the past who would have known somehow and told me.  My mom's friend filled me in.

It seems Nancy had been sick and needed surgery on her heart.  She seemed to be recovering well, but then suffered a set back and despite the work of her medical team, she was 
simply called home to be with Jesus.

I have no doubt, Mary Ann (my mom) was there to usher our Nancy to her heavenly home.  

It was a bittersweet day, yesterday.  I was celebrating turning 49, while mourning the loss of a friend who would have turned 63. 

I'm reflective lately.  Having just attended the funeral of a young woman taken far too soon by colon cancer, time and again my own mortality stares me in the face.

I treasure seeing those pictures (above) of me from long ago.  Me- playing in the lake with a rusty pail and half a shovel.  Me on a pontoon at the lake,  sitting on my Daddy's lap- always the Daddy's girl.  Me- in my little pedal car off on an adventure- wind blowing in my hair.

The car may be gone, and the pontoon, as well as my beloved Dad- and Mom, now Nancy too.   But that girl is still here.  Somehow, for some reason, the gift of life is the very present I open every day- and I am one lucky girl.  

Thank you to all of you who show up, encourage me, hold me up, and fill me with so much love.  

Colton was helping me with the candles for the cake.  We had a Ziplock bag full of all kinds of candles.  But when we searched for the numbered candles?  We could only find two.  They are blending in on the cake.  Two numbers.  A 4.  And a 9.  Someone was clearly helping me celebrate... turning 49.    


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

19 years...

Dear Superman,

Happy 19th wedding anniversary! 

I'm sitting here, stumbling with finding my calculator on my phone, trying to plug in the numbers.  Then I remember, you are celebrating your 30 year high school reunion this year.  So its been 30 years ago since our first date,  although it seems our hearts married right from the start. That one summer night, you had 400 hundred and some odd dollars on the dash of your Mustang, and we had a wide open night to do with as we pleased. I remember little of where we went, or even what we did.  But we spent not a dime, and talked under a bright moon in the front seat of your car, till the birds started to sing at dawn. And we learned that even in the quietness, speaking not a word, our heartbeats had started to commingle. 

But in the thirty years of knowing you I can't put my finger on when it began.  Was it a word?  A date?  A present?  When was it, that I knew?  The times we were together those first couple of years, it was so very real for both of us.  Yet, the times we chose to be apart, I'm convinced, tied us together in even more binding ways.  Maybe I knew when you called and talked to me for over an hour when I was in Paris, and we weren't technically dating at the time. The bill had to have been massive, but at no point did you want to cut it short.  Or it might be how 
you'd just show up to drive me to my college classes, on the really cold days- like -42, knowing I'd have to walk in the cold if you didn't.  We weren't dating, and yet, your desire to take care of me never waned. I still have the Snoopy Christmas ornament your grandmother made for me that year.  You wouldn't tell her we weren't dating... you see...  

I think we already knew.  We weren't entirely ready.  But we knew.

It might have even started back in high school, when we went on the church trip to New York City. We stood at the top of the World Trade Center taking night photos of the cars down below. Even then, neither one of us talked and yet we were completely comfortable not filling up the space with needless words. Were the seeds planted then?

Perhaps, I know, because of all the treats you bring me now, just because you know I had a REALLY LONG DAY. Or its how much I love the way you say, we'll find a way, don't worry. 

Like the day the letter from Blue Cross shows up last week, telling us yet again, they're canceling our health insurance policy at the end of this year. I can't fathom what the new costs might be to us.  But you reassure me, as always, we'll get by.   

It could certainly be because of all the spontaneity. Like when you say, Really, Toronto, Canada is not too far to drive all 4 of us in our little Toyota Prius.   And I discover its not really too far, and we end up with the adventure of a life-time. Or the time when you first got your job in Idaho and were getting ready to move.  But you said "Stay in graduate school.  We can weather a 9 month separation."  Yeah, we did that too.  

It certainly could be the day you said Idaho isn't working for us anymore, after nearly 10 years of calling it home.  Lets quit our jobs, buy a small blue house and move back to Minnesota to be closer to our family.  Maybe I'll try photography and see if I can make a go of that.  Um hm.  That's what we did.  It could have been that day.

Or it could be that one really hard day.  The day I called, sobbing, saying this time its not cysts in my breast.  I was wrong.  Its the worst imaginable and I don't know how I am going to do breast cancer.  I'm sorry.  And you say, I'll be right there.  We'll just do it, together, and everything will be okay.  Five years later, you're still here, and we still manage together.

I guess that's the thing, really.  Its not any one of these, but its all of them.  Its how we've woven this tapestry of us.  Through the times we are at our best, and the many more times when we are broken, tired, or weak.  It hasn't mattered. Apart, was just never really meant for us for very long.  I can't think of a time in my life, when it ever really will be either.  

So at some point its just been together.  This story of us.  Its about the 19 years of marriage, the 30 years of knowing each other, the 16 years of Nolan, plus the 14 years of Colton.  Its the forever I hope to know you, to love you, be with you, and weave together the rest of the story of our life.  All of these years later I know our commingled hearts will always be just enough to sustain us through the foreverness of you and I.

Friday, July 1, 2016

saving up

I've been in a swirl of activity.  

Within one week's time:

 I attended my cousin's daughter's wedding and spent a fun evening with lots of family.

 Celebrated a friend's birthday.

 Had a wonderful girl's night out and dinner with two fun friends.

Drove to Minneapolis for a day with Nolan and Rick.

Spent a Friday night shopping, with Nolan, at the Mall of America. We bonded over Birkenstocks. 

Attended a viewing of a documentary I was honored to be in.

Spent the most beautiful and perfect lake day at a friend's lake cabin.

Had cousins visit from Alaska...

Took oodles of pictures- way more than I can possibly share.

Then my feet came back down to earth as I detoured through Roger Maris for Infusion on Tuesday.  I've been knocked back a bit ever since.  Tired, achy, and nauseous- with a swollen hand leaving me inept at typing again.

So I've been reflective too...

Many years ago I heard sage advice from my uncle Emery.  Isn't it funny how we never know what words uttered might be the ones remembered?

Uncle Emery told stories that made you laugh until your sides hurt.  With his thick Norwegian accent he could tell you the funniest Ole and Lena jokes.  He was a master entertainer and we loved going to  my uncle and aunt's house for the holiday celebrations.

Sadly, just months after he retired many years ago,  Emery was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Rick and I lived in Idaho during this time.  Through the phone my mom would relay the news in bits and pieces.

As his time here on earth waned, he grew more quiet, and had Hospice nurses helping to take care of him.  My mom said the silence was utterly devastating... until that last time he spoke.

In fact, Emery had a resurgence.  And asked if the pastor could come- to sing hymns.  So the family gathered round the bed and to everyone's disbelief, a beautiful, strong voice emerged, one they hadn't heard before.  Mom could only shake her head in wonderment  as she discovered the voice singing was Emery's.

Finally, someone had to ask.  Emery?  All these years, and we never knew you could sing like that?

I can practically hear the words coming from his mouth, myself.

That thick Norwegian lilt to his voice, "Well, dontcha know, I've been saving up!"

Oh the laughter that ensued!  Leave it to my uncle to leave them all with laugher on their lips, and tears in their eyes.  We knew the treasure we were losing during that time.

But those words stayed.  I realized not long ago- its exactly what I do as well.  I've been saving up for these days- like the ones from above.

I spent so much time in bed this past year.  Weak.  Sad.  Dull.  Longing.  For these days.

And now I'm stringing together all my words, to ensure, I'm living it up good!


 Embracing.  Choosing.  Reaching.  Becoming.  Connecting.

Living my moments full.

Living my legacy.

I have this deep-seated resolve- to live all my moments, while I still have them.

I've been "saving up, dontcha know."

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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