Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow, snow and more snow!  Of course it IS winter and that's what's expected!  But, wow, when I woke up to a literal winter wonderland, I could do nothing but stare - and smile! I looked out my backyard at the fresh, untouched snow that blanketed the backyard....and layered the ice on the river. I look at the snow covered fir trees that remind me of my Department 56 village. I watched my dogs playing, running, rolling around in the snow, tongues hanging out and eyes shining bright as they looked at me as if to say "come on, Mom, it's fun!!" I tried to catch the snowflakes on my tongue only to have them stick on my eyelashes and float down my neck. I pull on my snow boots, wrap my neck with my scarf and slide my fingers into my new gloves. I tossed shovelful after shovelful of the soft yet heavy white stuff onto the yard that the dogs promptly ran through.

Isn't it amazing what a dusting or a foot of snow can do to make the world seem a little cleaner and brighter?
Thanks God for cleaning things up a bit with a little snow!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Brother's Christmas Gift

Vincent was in a car accident June 1, 1985.  I know that date because I was supposed to at orientation for the Miss Missouri Pageant.  (Yes, I was a pageant girl but that's a story for another time!)  My little brother suffered brain-stem trauma, leaving him paralyzed on the left side, partially on the right and unable to speak.  He recognizes and knows what's going on around him, communicating thru his index finger (yes), pinkie (no) and middle finger (you figure that one out!).  His eyes express his feelings the most - and of course, his cockeyed grin!

There are 2 other dates of that year I recall quite clearly - February 6, when my sister, a college freshman, told me she was pregnant. (I was on toilet-paper brigade while she broke the news to my newly divorced mom & dad).... September 17, when I became an 'Aunt' for the first time. (to John Paul - we knew it would be a boy because God just couldn't take the only boy in our family without giving us one back!!)

But I digress...My dad, who had a stroke and is at the assisted living facility across the street from the nursing home my brother lives in, was getting an early Christmas present, a new mattress.  I brought down a few boxes I had been storing for him to go through while we waited.  Lots of things in that box, including old newsletters, cufflinks and cassette tapes.  Yes, CASSETTE tapes!  I grabbed a few, looked at the labels & laughed as I found old airchecks from my radio days!  One tape in particular caught my eye. I stashed it quickly in my pocket and the next day told Vince about my find.

My car has a cassette player (does that tell you how old it is?!!) so on my trip home I inserted the tape, listened just a few moments and was moved to tears.  As I drove I wondered just how to share this treasure!  It needed to be transferred to a CD but I had no way to do that!  I called my friend Doug, who is a wiz of an engineer, and, viola, it was done!  Complete with special CD cases (Thanks Doug!!) that I dressed up with pictures on the front and back.  I put them away and waited.

Waited until Vince's birthday, December 28th, when we would celebrate his birthday and Christmas with him and dad.  I could hardly stand to wait to give the presents to my mom, dad and sisters. Vince's Christmas gift was an audio letter to my now deceased aunt & uncle - recorded by him!  

I'm sure that doesn't seem very special to you, dear reader, but it is. Why?

Because it has been 25 years since I have heard my brother's voice, 25 years since he has spoken a word to any of us.  And in that recording, he said something to and about every single person in our family.  He spoke with love to all of us......and while we know he loves us, it was nice to HEAR it after 25 years of silence.  My nephew, Vince's nephew, who has NEVER heard his voice, was given an audio affirmation that Vince was, and is, thrilled to be his uncle. 

Vince gave us hope with his positive, optimistic words....he gave us encouragement with his stories...he gave us a snapshot of his life, and ours, in 1985 - of what it was and could have been.  Once the sadness of the "what could have been" was over, we were struck by the awesomeness of the gift; stilled by the timing of God's plan for that cassette;  stunned to silence by the sound of his forgotten voice.

WOW, what a Christmas gift!!   Just......WOW!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolution - Gratitude

Wow, what is my New Year's resolution?  I'm not making one this year because I always seem to break it within the first month!

Rather I'm going to do a "Gratitude Journal"!!  You know, writing down things that happened that you are grateful for and, taking it one step further, putting down names of PEOPLE you're grateful for.  I'll start with the person who anonymously paid for my Subway sandwich as I traveled over the holidays. (Thank you!)

Or maybe I'll write down the names of the people I want to SHOW more gratitude to this year, because they've helped me in some way, shape or form last year.  Expressing thankfulness to others actually encourages THEM, strengthens your relationship WITH them and puts you in the position to RECEIVE their goodwill in the future!  (Top of my list is my hubby!)

Focusing on the good things that happen to you can change your perspective of your day and your life!  The universe is abundant - concentrate on what you have and you will have more....But if you focus on what you don't have, you will never have enough!

As John Maxwell said, "Although life can only be understood looking backwards, it can only be lived moving forward. No matter what has transpired this past year, today is a blank slate."

Au Revoir, Adios, Arrivederci, Auf Wiedersehen, Pozegnanie, Good Bye 2010......Hello 2011 - I'm glad you're here!