A Brand New Driver

September 21, 2018 at 2:50 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I am sitting here at my computer wishing I had renewed my driver’s license sooner. I was involved in an altercation last week and twisted my ankle. It will fun standing outside in the chilly morning tomorrow waiting to get in to renew my precious photo taken last time. Our small town has grown in population the past few years. You are not in and out like times were. It takes three times as long-standing in lines waiting your turn.

As I sit here typing, a fond memory is taking hold. I remember when I and a good girlfriend were juniors in high school. My friend had to get her driver’s license. No one would consider taking her,not her mom, her mom’s boyfriend, her sister or her friends who already were driving. I thought this was terrible. After all, we all had to face the dreaded driving instructor why deprive my dear friend of her turn. After all she was so excited , just needed a ride.

The big day had arrived. I was busy feeding the animals, getting dressed, called my friend to see how much longer for her  to be ready. Her mom said in the background” she has been up since five tried on every outfit she owns and has done her hair three times for the picture. She is ready to go”. So on my way I went to pick her up. It was fun for me because she didn’t know I was letting her use my car to take her driving test in. She just thought she was taking the written test and then her driving part later.

Since it was her birthday, we went to Bob’s Big Boy to celebrate. We had the hamburger combination with a strawberry milkshake. We were full, happy, laughing and ready to head over to Thousand Oaks. I sat in the lobby waiting for her to finish her written test. She came over to me and let me know she passed.”Of course you did silly” I told her. We were starting to walk out the front door when I asked her”don’t you have another part of the test to complete today?” She almost cried when realized I was letting her drive my car to take her test in. She passed that day and what a wonderful memory of a friend I miss still today. She has passed away several years ago, but I remember her giggle, her “Hi” on the phone, and her zest for life itself.

I am thankful for all the memories I have from loved ones, friends, my son and my life as an empty nester. I never thought my golden years I would be writing stories about my husband and son. I am thankful for all the good time I have shared with my family and  all the hardships I have had to endure. No matter what life throws at you, it is still a great life and wonderful t be alive.

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treasured Finds

August 16, 2018 at 1:28 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Yesterday, I went under my house to clean out some more treasures that have stored under there for the past thirty plus years. I found my son Levi’s paint ball gear; I sat on the dirt floor and laughed at the memories of his friends coming over in full gear getting ready for an all out battle. I am thinking I am going to donate the gear to Levi’s best friend Mike who now has preteens of his own. Most of the stuff stored down here belonged to you guessed it, Levi. I had fun looking at some of his prized possessions and remembering when he had bought the items.

I know how easy it would be to just leave his belongings under the house and not deal with the emotional ties, but I would rather his personal possessions go to someone else who could use them now. Some of my friends wonder how I could turn his old bedroom into my dressing room. I made a decision after my son had well ‘almost’ moved out at nineteen to make his old bedroom into my space now. I knew he would never come back over to spend the night, or have dinner with me, or even to sit down to visit. he was too busy and plus he said “I knew where he was at most of the time, come see me there”. It is a funny thing about being an empty nester, sometimes our dreams do not come true. I used to hear my friends talk about the kids came home for Sunday supper. The parents had fun learning the truth about The stain in the carpet, or how the back door really got broken.

I ran across a couple of my childhood belongings down in the crawl space. I ran across my high school year books, some of my 4-H Club ribbons for my lamb, prized ribbons from the fair. I enjoyed growing up on the ranch. I had many opportunities my friends did not. raising all our animals was a once in a lifetime experience. I could ride my horse in the orchard after school, play with the baby lambs, feed the chickens, or ride our mini-bike. Being raised on the ranch taught my twin brother and I responsibility, dedication,and personal growth. It was fun seeing the birth of a baby lamb grow up and become a Grand Champion in the sheep class the next year.

Life has a way of passing us by if we are not careful. I can say I have some very good memories of the life I had lived and some not so pleasant. I thought when I married my husband, we would grow old and grey together. My life too another direction. I also thought when we had our son Levi, we would one day be proud grandparents to his children, I could watch him buy his first house,upgrade from his beloved car to a mini-van,  watch him enjoy being a father now. My life was again changed forever when he passed away in a tragic car accident in 2007. He was only 20. I am so proud of the fine young man he had become.

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They Still Call Me Mom

July 18, 2018 at 7:27 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I went outside to change my sprinkler last night. While out there, one of my neighbors called me over. I was embarrassed to walk over because I was in my night-gown. They laughed and motioned me to come over anyway. While chatting with the young adults, I was struck by a thought.

Ashley is a year younger than my son Levi. They grew up together, made snow forts connecting both our yards to escape…. what I do not know. if you stayed out of trouble, you did not need a place to hide(rather chilly hiding place anyway don’t you think). Levi shared his sled with Ashley so she could have fun sledding after school on the hill by our house. They both grew up to be fine young adults I must say.

When my son was attending Kindergarten he met his lasting friend Mike. They were like two peas in a pod together. Spending the night at each others houses, playing Nintendo together, getting into mischief together. Oh such are the The joys of best friends for a single parent. I remember when they were teens, Mike spent the night. One night I heard the front door open and my hallway squeak. I told the boys”busted” they ran into Levi’s room laughing as they hit the bed. They had forgotten I never had that squeak fixed for this exact reason someday. 

Most of my friends have at least four grandchildren. I have been asked “if I ever get angry at God because my son did not give me grandchildren?” My life had taken another direction than I had expected. Instead of being bitter and angry with God, I chose instead to trust him.  My life is full of people who love and support me, a great job I love, a church family, and people who support my blog. I have learned through the year how to make great lemonade. Life is what you make of it. You can go around wearing a frown or you can be cheerful.

It has been hard since I lost my son eleven years ago. I am proud of the fine young man he had become. I miss his infectious laugh, his sparkle in his mischievous eyes, he smelled great, most of all, his generosity to others. I have been shedding a few tears this week, but I know he is proud of me and this is what keeps me moving forward, looking forward to more good things to come. hug your kids extra tight today, let them know how much you love them, how proud you are of them and you are glad they are in your life. We are not promised a tomorrow, make today count.

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Catching Up With Friends

June 15, 2018 at 12:11 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I ran into an old friend at the grocery store yesterday while doing my moms weekly shopping. We chatted for a while, caught each other up on our families, summer activities, and still talk about how we both met. She was an Avon Representative at the time. I had just lost my husband and was just basically going through the motions on dad to-day living. One day, a nice Avon lady came to my front door. I had on no make-up, not dressed yet ready for my day, I did offer her a cup of coffee. My new friend helped me find colors to compliment my skin tone. One week later when she delivered my package, she was amazed at the transformation. I was dressed, hair combed, house picked up and I looked better than the week before. We stayed friends even though our schedules do not allow us to get together as often anymore. 

I appreciate my friends. They accept me when I am in a good mood or when I am feeling a little melancholy. I know they have prayed for me over the loss of both my husband and my son. It is a nice feeling when I am feeling sad, someone will ask”how are you doing today Julie?” One of the comments I have heard the most is”I can’t even imagine”. I have learned how to live without my son, you never forget them or the good time with them and the difficult times you shared. I have so many wonderful memories of the fine young man Levi had become. One of my most cherished photos in my living room is the one where when our picture was being taken, Levi picked his mom up and my cousin snapped the memory. I remember we were both laughing because Levi told me”how many sons can pick up their mother?” 

This has been a long journey of pain, healing, acceptance, and most of all, the love and support of family and friends. I could not have done this without any of you. The prayers, getting together for coffee and a good cry,and turning my son’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I have friends who have also lost a son or a daughter, they shut the door to the child’s room and never go in it again. I chose to turn my son’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I love getting dressed in the morning and putting on my pajamas at night. I find comfort in seeing his pictures on his wall and reading his hand written notes on his message board. 

When we were born, we were not guaranteed the “perfect life”. We appreciate the little things in life that gives us joy. I know my son is smiling down on me from heaven. I wake up every morning knowing how proud he is of me, his mom who has persevered through my grief and come out the other side into happiness. Hug your kids extra tight today, let them know how proud you are of them, let them know how loved they are and you are glad they are in your life. You are not promised tomorrow , so make today count. 

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A Nice Day Trip

June 7, 2018 at 9:19 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , )

 

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine and I decided to plan a day trip. We were going to spend the day in a quaint little town overlooking the lake. First my friend needed to pick up a Memorial wrath as her mothers headstone had been delivered. Her parents had a plot bought several years earlier so they could be buried together and not burden the children. When my friend and I had gotten into town, we headed for the cemetery to place the wreath on the grave. Let me tell you, there is nothing like getting lost near a cemetery and cannot find the right road to take. After driving around for a half hour, we finally found the road. When we arrived, the grounds keeper was cutting the grass. It took us several minutes walking up and down the rows of graves to find her mom and dad. We took a few pictures and then headed back into town. I am glad I had the day off from work that I could go and help her celebrate her parents. They were like parents to me as well. 

The morning was sunny and breezy, the drive is a picturesque drive with good 1970’s music, beautiful scenery, and great conversation. I never get tired of driving through the forest, or passing a pretty lake. We are always on the lookout for deer on the way. Sharon and I were reminiscing about the first time we had met. She was my son Levi’s Kindergarten teacher; we had become fast and lasting friends over the years. On Friday nights, we would take the kids for an hour drive to our favorite church the out for ice cream after. I needed some good friends, it was a difficult time for me after my husband passed away. Their kids were a couple of years older than my son, so we would talk child rearing. it was nice to have someone I could talk to. 

 I find even if the plans you have are not what you expected, you can still make an enjoyable day out of it. I would like to think I am getting older and more creative with my days off. summer has never been one season I liked. The heat, the humidity, the bugs, the allergies, the water bill (that took the place of the furnace bills in the winter), keeping your flowers alive long enough to enjoy them. This year, I have decided enjoy the summer by being ‘a tourist in my town and maybe a quaint small town or two.’ Enjoying a walk around the boardwalk, having a snack at an outside cafe, have a coffee at a new coffee-house, check out a new art gallery, it has changed how I live my days.  I only have to water my lawn and flowers for three months, the only project this year is fill the holes in my backyard from the trees I had removed and maybe extend my patio. I live in a great neighborhood with awesome neighbors, have a nice little house that really feels like a vacation year round. 

I do not have the money to build an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a swimming pool, or an outdoor fireplace. I will leave that to my home where I go to celebrate my can’t take care of this anymore years. I know it is a growing trend to have an outdoor retreat for the family. I am glad families are investing into the future with grand kids someday, but for now, they can enjoy a yard where it is a home away from home stay-cation spot. I have seen some beautiful homes nestled in the forest or by a lake. Why would you want to go anywhere else?  Some backyards are landscaped in multi levels. a great place to pitch a couple tents and a fire pit. Mom and daughter afternoon pool day. Pack your towel and sunscreen in a tote bag and carry it to the pool party. Simple ways to create lasting memories that is passed on. 

 

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The Best Week

April 14, 2018 at 8:06 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age) (, , , )

I started my vacation last Tuesday morning. I looked forward to getting a few days to myself after working hard and caring for my aging mother. I don’t take many vacations, but sometimes, you just have to take a breather and refresh so you can keep going. I work in health care and help care for my aging mother. This week was nice, I had lunch with mom a couple of days, then had BBQ chicken dinner for her. It is nice to change-up my routine a bit. Sometimes I bring breakfast for her and then I can get ready for work if I need to go in early. Our friend is fascinated by my mom and her endless stories about growing up around the movie stars and our life living on the ranch in my childhood.

I had gotten some heartbreaking news this week. My dear friend have passed away. One elderly gentleman was my Pastors father. I grew up around some of the family and always enjoyed hearing him teach. I remember going to the family reunion a few years ago. Mom and dad ( I think with the planning of the children and grand children) decided to renew the wedding vows. it was fun watching everyone scramble getting this event put together in twenty minutes. The bride, beautiful, the groom, handsome. His wife passed away a few years ago, I was pleased to hear John found happiness again. The evening, bitter sweet. It will be nice to see old friends we haven’t seen in awhile, but it is also a time of reflection.

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I have enjoyed a quiet week for my stay-cation. I went to the Library and checked out a couple movies and good books to read. Had dinner and movie night with my dear friend, it has been cold, rainy, windy, and still a chance of snow so I just had fun staying home. I am not one who has to travel anywhere. I look outside my picture window and see the mountains, I see deer and moose everywhere, I get the chance to see the storm clouds come into the valley below where we get the foggy nights. I do not really plan anything special to eat while I am off.( Some of my friends, they have this thing all planned out to the last detail.) Sounds too much like work to me. A good friend refreshed by bedroom several years ago to resemble a B&B inspired retreat.

I am also not one to be melancholy because I go back to work tomorrow. With some, come a post vacation depression, me, I am happy to get back and see my residents again. I feel like I have hit the life lottery. I love my little house, my job is awesome, my friends and family , I live in the perfect location to enjoy the four seasons. Since I live by a cove, I should learn how to paddle board this summer. I love floating down the river, seeing the beautiful summer homes, and the mountains. I believe I have found my small piece of paradise. Pretty soon it will time to set off for my afternoon drives. I have many places yet unexplored. My favorite place to visit is Sand Point. A quaint little town by the waters edge full of charming shops, art galleries, and eateries. If you enjoy Light House dressings, it is made right here in Sand Point.

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Perspectives

April 3, 2018 at 12:20 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I was having one of those weeks. It was long, tiring and I just wanted to start my weekend. Some weeks seem to just zip by, while others drag on forever it seems like. Work is going well,but some days, you just wish you could call in sick and stay home.  I notice when I get tired, I get sensitive. In truth, some people you do not really know if they are being serious or not. Being middle age is not always easy.

Easter was different for me. Like many, it is just my mom and I who celebrate holidays anymore. It is tough when she just wants a baloney sandwich and call it good. Most of our friends and family has moved away. It was tough when mom didn’t want to get dressed  she prefers her bathrobe. I had a difficult time accepting this new reality. I finally decided to buy her some nice night gown and house dresses so she can look pretty while being comfortable. Besides, arguing just leads to hard feelings. It really helped when I found her a shower aide. The ladies have fun talking and mom feels better.

I remember a few years ago, running into my mom getting her groceries.Her social calendar was full, and she was full of life. Mom was a member of the Red Hat Flappers; She was the duchess of finances. My son used to ask her for a ride, she would tell him to check the calendar to see if she was available. Her group of friends would take a senior travel tour. I was glad she was getting out and enjoying life again. My son moved in with his grandma to help her after his grandpa passed away. My mom was in baking for twenty-five years so she was putting Levi on a budget. She taught him how to pay his bills on time, and save for a rainy day. ( He was at the age where his mom knew nothing, but went over the same material with him).

Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in a rut and can’t seem to climb out of it. I understand the gardeners who can’t wait to start digging in the dirt and plant flowers and trees and things. I am becoming a reforming black thumb gardener. My yard looks pretty nice last year. I like a simple yard with cottage charm. I love to watch the butterflies fluttering looking for the pretty butterfly bushes I have planted, birds landing in the trees chirping away, the deer eating in the yards. So much to look forward to. I think you can look at your life as the glass half full or half empty. Some families have been through devastating circumstances and are having a tough time recovering. Losing my husband and my son has been difficult-but I had to realize you will never “get over it”, yes, life will go on, and I will always remember Jerry and Levi. I think I can say, I accept where I am in my life today. 

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Life can Change in a Moment

March 14, 2018 at 7:34 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I was going through some paper work, and I came across a note my son had scribbled on a piece of paper. The note brought back memories of how much he had grown the last few years before his death. I was truly inspired by what I read. “Life can change in a moment, live everyday like you mean it, and don’t look back with any regrets.” I love his point of view. So many times, me included, regret things that doesn’t really matter. I am so proud of the fine young man Levi had become. I will always remember his smile, the sparkle in his eyes, his infectious laugh, and most of all his generosity.

When Levi was in grade school, his friends decided to set up a small lemonade stand. He was excited to give weary travelers a cold drink on a hot day. The boys did pretty good I might say. As they were getting ready to clean up for the day, a patrol car came down our block. I knew the officers and was talking with them, when Levi came up to them with the last two glasses of lemonade and told the officers”you work hard to keep us safe, you can just have these.” the officer was grateful for the cold drink, but would not Levi and the boys walk away empty-handed.

My life was forever changed ten years ago when my son was involved in a fatal car accident. Some still ask me how I carry on day after day. A strong faith, the love and support of my family and friends, a job I love, and my writing. Today is a rainy day and I feel a little blue. I don’t think it was an accident I found the little note my son had written years ago. It made me feel better and Levi was right, life may change in a moment, but it is how you deal with your grief, stress, who you lean on that counts.  I still think about when my husband and son were alive and our house was full of friends, great food, lively conversations, laughter and love.  I appreciate my friends who have me over for snacks and movies, grabbing a cup of coffee out, a walk in the forest listening to the birds chirp, feeling alive again.

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An Unexpected Surprise

February 21, 2018 at 8:23 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Going through some old paper work, I ran across an old car registration bill. It reminds me when my son bought his new car and argument that followed.

Son:” mom can you help me with my personalized plate pleeease????(hands in prayer position).

Mom:” are going to help me pay for the new plate beings I already put the down payment on your new car?”

Son:” I am short on funds(love this response), but the plate is one I have always wanted”.

Mom:” knowing in my heart my son would never see his new plate, I decided not to help him buy it. I knew he would be angry at me, but he would get over it”.

My son had not had much experience with dealing with car insurance, getting the car registered and of course, you can choose your own plate. He was angry with me, but I got over it. The new plate arrived and Levi said some ugly words to this helpless licence plate. I was teasing him about his attitude and told him I have all numbers on mine, and I am not scared for life. In a huff, he walked away. But isn’t it interesting, he needed the car for work later in the morning.

A couple of years later, I needed to update my old licence plates. While driving through town to get my new tags,  a thought crossed my mind. I remembered a friend of mine wanted to keep his grandpa’s old plates and put them on his vehicle. He found out you had to wait a year before you could request them. When I asked the clerk this was possible, she told me not only it was possible, but I only had one Month left to request the plate before it was automatically sent out to another customer. I felt blessed because I was able to request his special licence plate, but the numbers suit me just fine. Someone asked me once what am I going to do when I have trade in this plate. Easy, I am going to request the same plate again and again.

Being an empty nester and a middle-aged gal sometimes is not easy. I do not have a boyfriend or husband to help me with the day-to-day paper work. It helps thinking you know what you are doing and local businesses don’t find errors in my banking, bill paying, car insurance renewals, I just need a strong hand in my under achieving garden mishaps and life is all good.Right now, I am trying to kep warm while the cold winter blasts once again. They say are we ready for Spring in a Month? Maybe they better ask Mother nature if she is through with her arctic blasts.  I have learned how to cope with getting older, caring for my aging mom, working, and enjoying hat today has to offer. I am becoming a real homebody. I keep myself busy with little projects I have meaning to get to, trying new recipes, enjoying where I am today. 

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Small town Living

February 12, 2018 at 10:39 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking) (, , , , )

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I have lived in my hometown for the last thirty seven years. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. My family moved when my twin brother and I Graduated High school. My dad was hurt on the job and needed to live in a drier climate. The extra bonus for me was when my beloved Aunt, Uncle and Grandma moved a year earlier. Mom and dad would take vacations to Idaho and see the area. Jeff and I loved it because we were trusted to house set. All the comforts of home without the bills. It was our first taste of being out on our own. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe my brother and I were trusted to stay by ourselves. We both had good jobs, stayed out of trouble, no wild parties, friends came over and played games of pool in our huge living room.  My best girlfriend came and stayed with us for the week. She was happy to get out of her house and stay with us. I laugh at the memory of the good time we had together riding our horses, cooking our meals together, going shopping, working and going to college. Mom and dad found a house so we packed up and moved to our new adventure.I was not ready for the beauty that would soon surround me everyday. Everywhere you look, you see the mountains, (you didn’t have to drive an hour to enjoy the views), you can enjoy The National Forest in minutes, plenty of fishing, boating, camping right on the river, picnic areas, hiking trails, beautiful parks,and wild life.

I love living in my small hometown.  My childhood home was a mini mansion as some used to say, plenty of spaces to ride horses, motor bikes, I had to get used to smaller space. We never had pine trees in the yard, we now had neighbors, (we lived five miles out-of-town in my childhood home), older gentlemen stopped in the middle of the road and talked, box boys carry your groceries out for you, seeing squirrel’s, quail, cats stalking the prey, it was fun seeing deer walking down your neighborhood street. (In California, dad went deer hunting, now they show up on your front lawn). I met and married my husband here. We bought a nice house with great neighbors a block from the river. We enjoyed raising our young son teaching him how to fish, ride his small ATV around the block, daddy/son motorcycle rides close. I thought I had my forever husband and my forever home. My husband died in 1990 from complications of his disease. I laugh now at my friends trying to talk me into selling my home and moving – I needed to buy a house that was my mine(I told them, I have MY home). My son Levi passed away in 2007 in a tragic car accident. He was only 20. I live in my forever home not feeling lonely, or sad, I have plenty of company often, move night in, tea and desert drop in friends, I am very happy in my life. I enjoy staying home when on vacation because friends have helped me through the years with fresh paint, new roof, new furnace, and now an updated back yard. I really cannot imagine living anywhere else but in my forever home.

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