It wasn’t too long ago in conversation with my husband that we started to talk about all the things that have gone on in our lives in the last 2+ years.
The life changing diagnoses of Meghan and I and the correlating surgeries and appointments. just about took control there for a while.
And Felix studied for and ultimately obtained his electrical license through the drama, and extensive, ridiculous hiccups in the process.
It all just blurred in and we never properly celebrated that accomplishment.
Meg changed schools. Well, twice now.
We changed churches.
And the car accident, and the back trauma.
The rotted bay window, and the pool with the hole in the liner.
The loss of my father after a brief, battle with pancreatic cancer that had life changing ripple effects everywhere.
I actually sat down to write a list at one point. Maybe I felt, albeit temporarily, the need to justify the un-returned phone calls, the missed dates with friends, the chaos shoved behind closet doors, and the overarching feeling of disorder in my life. I wanted a way to explain why I felt like I was existing, not living. Why every weekend was faced with catching up, and why we were missing each other. I wanted to explain to the world how I was nutritionally healthier and stronger than ever before, and excited about my new products, but I was/am struggling to get out of my own way.
But this year has served up some intense wake up calls and I am trying to give them my full attention. Because if any reality resonates clear it is the one that there is no guarantee of tomorrow on this earth.
I am not trying to be morbid. Quite the contrary actually.
It is that very realization that caused me to shred that list I was making. It’s counterproductive to dwell. We must press forward anyway. So why stay stuck in the past?
There is a point in your life where you have to stop. And look around. And focus on the blessings around you. This paradigm shift, while far from perfected, is a work in progress.
We have taken steps to transform the house, even if that stands in the way of clearing off the credit card bills. Because, we are not extravagant, and never will be, but living in a neat, clean, organized house, when done well, is easier to maintain, and therefore an investment in our time together
We have family. And lots of it. At 40 years old, I can boast 3 grandmothers and a grandfather. I am becoming more aware each day of the depth of the value of those relationships. In addition to those 4 great -grandparents, Meghan has 4 grandparents of her own. I am beyond thrilled that Meghan, now 11, has had the opportunity to have created life long memories with all of them.
And sometimes it is within thoughts of those closest to us, that we remember what is the most important.
And if I really remember who I am, I have to speak of my grandparents, most especially today Mom’s parents.
Early in my life, when things were jostled around and life was uncertain, they were there. We lived in the first floor of their 2 family for the most formative years. They fed us breakfast and met us after school. They took us to sporting events and school activities while Mom worked 2 jobs. They were just always THERE.
And Pop was there to fix things, and Grandma to play cards and cook with.
There were summers in Ocean City, New Jersey – the best summers of my life.
There was a whirlwind trip to Disney, and so many more adventures.
I remember them as a young child, watching them. They never separated, even for a few minutes, without a kiss goodbye and an, “I love you.” This practice, perhaps formed after a lengthy service in WWII, and a full career in the FDNY seemed rooted in their deep understanding that we need to appreciate each other here. Now.
And when we moved into Mom and Ken’s house there was the summer Pop and Grandpa Al sided the house.
And in my own house the woodwork. The beautiful labor of love that is each piece of trim, each windowsill, each doorframe. In his 80s when I bought my house Pop trimmed each piece, and even helped Felix put in the front door. He shared his craft with my husband, and did so with patience and ease.
So much of the last 40 years of my life revolve around Grandma and Pop.
Never a task too difficult. Never say no. Always giving. Always sharing. Always loving.
When I think about my list that I had started to write, and then I think about them, I get a bit embarrassed.
Born in 1919 and 1920 they have seen more changes in their lifetime than any other generation. They lived through the Great Depression, and participated in World War II. They spent years apart, in touch by letter, only to marry a few weeks after Pop’s return in December 1945.
They built a family, my Mom and my Uncle, and the family branched out.
Pop worked in the Fire Department, and at Zion. Grandma took care of everything else so that there was never a thing out of place.
During their life transformations like – no phone to cell phones, and no TV to HD flat screens, and so many more have happened and they persevere. Pop Emails and surfs the internet, and even carries a cell phone – though it’s rarely on!
Times have changed and things slow down a bit. But it’s still a huge highlight to stop in for a visit and chat.
And when he can, Felix still picks Pop’s brain for suggestions of things he’s about to try.
All my life I remember them doing. For everyone. All the time. They are the ultimate lesson in “pay it forward.” They are for me the ultimate reminder of those vows we make before God and family and friends on the day we marry. Regardless of the wording used, the sentiment is the same. They promised to love each other, in good times and bad, in times when there was a lot, and in times there wasn’t, in times of sickness and in health, and to stand by each other for as long as God gives them life together.
And even in the toughest hours, they make it look easy.
That is almost 69 years of marriage as God intended it.
There are so many things I share. And there are some that just aren’t to be shared. But make no mistake about this.
I’ve learned how to be a better person, and a better Christian from my grandparents. I learned how to be a better wife, from my grandparents.
This doesn’t detract in any way from the love of all the other influential adults in my life, including my own parents. We learn different things from different people at every place in our lives.
But today, it’s about Grandma and Pop. And how their selflessness and pure love never cease to amaze me.
I pray that though all adversity, my husband and I may set the same example for our daughter.
We are deeply, thoroughly, and completely blessed.
And when making lists its far best to make lists of your blessings than your struggles.