Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aunt Dorothy Was Right!

After writing my last post about missing our family gatherings, look what I found when searching through my photo album for the picture to go along with my previous post: a couple notes from 1962 that I had sent to my Aunt Martha and Aunt Dorothy. I was just 9 years old at the time I wrote these, but my aunts were very pleased with them. I remember those animal stickers I had too!

Here's what I wrote to my Aunt Martha:
I enclosed a sheet of paper with a picture of a house and tree and flowers on the one side (nothing spectacular) but on the other side it said "Happy Martha's Day."

Here's what I wrote to my Aunt Dorothy:

The best part though was the typewritten note enclosed from my Aunt Dorothy! I can't figure out what I was thinking on some of those problems, but my aunt said they were all right!

She was right when she wrote: "I am going to keep this first letter I received from you and when you are grown up, you will like like to read it too."

Finding these with her letter was so sweet. I did enjoy reading them too now that I am grown up and it seemed like I had a little visit with them at the holidays after all! I thought it was cool that the envelopes were still saved too! Postage was only 4 cents back then!

Do you encourage your children to write to their aunts, uncles or other family members? Things written at the time may not seem like much, but finding them later is a sweet thing. I remember when I was cleaning out my dad's house after he died, going through the dresser drawers I found some notes my grandma Nieman wrote when she was living with us. She wrote that she liked hearing me play the piano and that I did real good tonight. I never knew she liked it when I played. I wish she had told me then!

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

What's Your Holiday Wish?

My Holiday Wish is Being with Family and Friends

The holidays are near and dear to your heart. You don't need much to make you happy this time of year.
As long as you're able to be near the people you love most, you are content. It's really that simple.
You want nothing more than a full house of people celebrating the season. It doesn't matter if it's your house or not, just as long as everyone is there.
And if someone doesn't happen to be around during the holidays, you think about him or her often. You get very sentimental this time of year.

and share your results in the comments.

This quiz is right on for me. I do get sentimental around the holidays and think about years past when I spent holidays with my parents, grandparents, aunts, family and friends.

Thinking back, when we were kids we'd each get a game and then we spent the afternoon learning to play them all. It was always a challenge to decide what to buy for my parents. We always managed to find something they could use though. After I got married, one Christmas they came to our house, but usually we would go to theirs because it was easier on them. After my mom died and my dad had all the cats, we would always buy things for them. My dad got a big kick out of watching them play with new toys or lounging in their new beds.

We went to my sister's several years which was always fun. I always liked buying for her kids. When her four kids grew up though, it got to the point where we would give them gift certificates and they'd give us gift certificates. After that, I suggested we just get together and don't bother exchanging gifts, it seemed silly. So that's what we started doing. She had the biggest house so it was logical for us to all go over there.

When we were kids, we always looked forward to going to grandma's for Christmas. I had three unmarried aunts who also lived with my dad's mother and they would always give us nice things. I remember thinking how funny they were because every year when we visited at Christmas, they would still have packages sitting there that they hadn't opened and they'd say every year, "They look so pretty, we hate to open them.!" I never understood that! Of course, the adults were at the big dining room table and us kids were off to the side at a smaller "kids" table usually, but when we got older, they included us at the big table. I liked that!

For New Year's Eve we used to get together with my mom's best friend's family. They had a daughter my age and two older boys, one of which I sort of had a crush on. He was always nice to me and even taught me how to play Chess. I always looked forward to these times because it was so much fun playing games together.

I am glad we have movies, video and photographs of past Christmases. I like watching the videos especially because I can hear my parents voices and it seems they are back at least for that little time. I encourage you to take pictures at your get-togethers.

This year we are going to visit with Gerard's sister and her adult children. I think it's very nice of her to invite us to join them for Christmas dinner. I think I'll bring a camera along, maybe even my Flip for some video.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy being with your families for the holidays! Make the most of them while you can!

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Am A Bit of A Procrastinator, What About You?

Every year I debate if I'm going to send Christmas cards and then end up doing it. I know it's nice to hear from people at Christmas time, especially ones we don't see throughout the year, but I know our cards just get tossed into a basket. Then next year we throw them away to make room for the new ones. I update my "card" list throughout the year and usually buy cards for next year when they go on sale after Christmas.

When I used to ask my dad if he was going to send Christmas cards this year, he always would. He'd always be sure to buy a religious one to send. They are getting harder and harder to find. Most say "Happy Holidays" or "Holiday Season." Many have very cute pictures of animals or beautiful scenery, but those aren't really projecting the true meaning of Christmas. Therefore, I too always buy the religious ones. I figure if the Christians don't, who will.

I used to call my dad a "fuss budget" because he always made extra unnecessary work for himself in my opinion. He'd fuss with stupid things. His Christmas card "ritual" is one example. He kept track on paper of who he got cards from and would make sure to send them one back if they weren't on his list. But just a check mark wasn't good enough. He put the date he received a card. Then he'd also have a list of people that he sent cards to and keep going over and over his lists.

Harry sent out cards every year in December. The last six years or so of his life, I printed out mailing labels for him so he didn't have to write as much. It was a bit difficult for him to write because of arthritis in his fingers. The last Christmas before he died (2006), he got behind schedule and didn't get his cards out on time because of the medication he had been taking that made him so drowsy that he'd fall asleep for long periods through the day and wouldn't get anything done. I felt bad for him and offered to do them for him, but he wouldn't hear of it. He said, "Oh no, I can do it." I suggested that it wasn't mandatory and that maybe he just shouldn't bother with it this year, but he said, "Oh, I want to send them out so people know I'm still alive. Otherwise, they may wonder."

So, his last Christmas, came and went and he didn't get his cards done in time but sent them out after Christmas so people would know he was still alive. He said he wanted to put a note inside explaining to the people why his cards were sent so late so I offered to type up little notes for him to just insert inside. After I explained he could tell me what he wanted it to say and I would type it up, and print them from the computer, he finally understood and started dictating away. He died the following February, two days after Valentine's Day. (This is reposted from 12/22/08)

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Last Birthday Present From Dad

Today is my birthday so I thought this post would be appropriate. After we bought the computer back from dad since he couldn't really use it well, he then paid for a printer for me and gave me a beautiful cabinet he had made a long time ago for the church. He had told the church board that if they could have it for as long as they wanted to use it, but if they didn't use it, he would like it back. For years it was used in his back room but he gave it to me to use as my printer cabinet when I got a printer.

My cat that I got from dad's as a kitten, Spunky Doodle, likes to crawl inside it whenever I open the door. I'm so glad I took her in. I'm sure my dad would be very pleased that his former kitten enjoys the cabinet too!

(See my earlier related post about teaching dad how to use the computer at Seniors and Computer)

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Dad, Happy Birthday!

Dear Dad,

Happy birthday! I love thinking about you still and knowing you are with our Lord Jesus and no longer having to take any pills or worry about what to eat. I wonder exactly what you do up there in heaven and if there are any cats around.

This has been quite a year for us. I wish you could see how much getting our house insulated has helped. I think you would have been proud of me for doing that. Something you probably would think was silly of us that we did last summer was to play softball again. We didn’t play very well, but we certainly had fun. It felt good to play again.

We got a dog in June! She gets along fine with our cats—they even do noses sometimes. When she barks loud, the cats just disappear for awhile but at least she doesn’t chase them. She’s a wonderful dog and Gerard really likes walking with her. She’ll go with him no matter what the weather, unlike me. Wish you could meet her, she’s a great dog!

In July I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. That was the worst part of our year, but fortunately it was discovered early and hadn’t spread. In fact, in a way it proved to be a good thing. I got to take off work with full pay after the lumpectomy and then just go back part-time from Oct. 24 through Dec. 19. It came at a good time because work was so slow I got very bored and so really enjoyed being off. I sure look forward to retirement! The other good news was that I did not need Chemo, just radiation treatments for 33 days which didn’t hurt at all, didn’t take much time because they were at Parma Hospital, so close by. It was sort of a hassle having to go to all the doctor appointments and then paying the big bills but at least everything went well and I’m still alive!

I’m sorry to say the book I wrote in your memory has not become the best-seller I had hoped for, but I’m still glad I wrote it. I tried not to make it too embarrassing for you, focusing on your love for us and just some of the things you did that I thought were funny. I wanted to keep it a short, easy read so people wouldn’t get bored. I can say that people who read it liked it and I didn’t get any bad reviews on Amazon for it.

I still miss your cats and feel really bad I couldn’t take them, but I have kept up with the $100 donation every month to the Caroline’s Kid’s Pet Rescue cat sanctuary in their memory.

You’d also be glad to know that I still have a considerable amount of money left in our bank account from selling your house. That really gave us a nice emergency fund so we are in good shape. Both Gerard and I still have jobs even though many people are out of work now. The economy is really bad, not like the depression that you lived through, but some people are really hurting a lot financially.

Gerard and I are still going to the Parma Heights Baptist Church and like it. I am still teaching 5th grade boys which is fun for me. We both helped in Vacation Bible School again and I helped with Sports Camp last summer too. We have the Christmas puppet presentation coming up on my birthday.

I am so glad you are not suffering any more but still miss you. I keep your picture on my desk at work still and also on my computer desk at home. I’ll always love you and mom very much and thank you for being such wonderful parents. It’s time to start working on my Christmas cards which always reminds me of our last Christmas together when you sent yours out after Christmas! That motivates me to get going on them.

Love always,

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lenore, The Love Of His Life

On this 10th anniversary of my mom's death, I thought it appropriate to write a bit about how important she was to us. Lenore and Harry met at a church function and my dad was attracted to her because she was funny and fun. They both served in the church together for many years.

They both were very loving, caring and generous. With me being an only child, they took in three foster children even though they had only intended on taking in two so the three could stay together. I was thrilled with the idea of sharing my wonderful parents with other kids who needed a good home. It was fun having two sisters and a brother all at once and we grew up together.

Although my dad was the "head of the house" and when he said something, that was it, mom really handled all matters concerning us kids. Often she would convince my dad to let us do things that he felt wasn't a good idea. They discussed all decisions and dad appreciated her input. They were married I believe for 52 years! They had a good balance between them. Dad was reserved, mom more outgoing; dad was handy around the house, mom was nurturing and intuitive.

When mom got very weak and had to go into the hospital, dad stayed with her all day. He was 80 at the time and insisted on caring for her instead of having her go to a nursing home. He had nurses come by the house and he took care of her and even built a special step that she used for therapy. The nurses were amazed that dad could take such good care of her and said she was they're best patient and doing so well with her therapy.

Her last Thanksgiving with us was very encouraging to me. She seemed normal and was enjoying the holiday. I really thought she would be okay but she died a week later. One of the last things she said to me was that dad was a good man and I should take care of him. I tried to do just that.

Poor dad seemed so alone, but not for long. He soon let in some of the stray cats that he had been feeding outside because mom did not like cats and did not want them in the house. They were good company for him. The first week or so, my dad slept upstairs with his cats instead of in his own bed. It was just too hard without her by his side. I had a closer relationship with my mom but after she died, my dad and I became much closer and our relationship improved.

He was so cute though. He shared with me that he would often dream of her so it was like she was still with him and that he had two lives now--the one during the day and the one in his dreams at night. It's hard to believe mom's been gone now ten years. I'll never forget her or my dad. I loved them very much and miss them both.

Related Posts: A Letter To Mom (insight into our relationship)
A Thanksgiving to Remember

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.