Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The whispers that follow us

It is said that there is nothing really special about December 31. It simply marks the passing of one day and, for most, it will be followed by another. We are the ones that make it special. For some this may be true, but for most of us we are reflective and anticipating the clean slate we believe tomorrow will bring. I fall into this category.

This is an anniversary of sorts for me and my husband. The number seems far larger than I think could be true, but I've checked the dates and it is a surprisingly factual marker. On a New Years Eve 31 years ago I met my husband. A random bumping caused us to become aware of one another's existence, though the initial meeting was not love at first sight. More like tolerance and aggravation that warmed into a deep affection and blosssomed into love. And here we are.....years down the road......still in love. More than ever. It is a mystery to me that the two of us are in this well rounded relationship that provides comfort, nurturing, wisdom, love and passion all these many days later. 11,315 give or take ...with a few leap years thrown in. We reside in a peace that creates a yearning in both of us when we are apart. This was not lived out in front of either of us, so I believe it has been created by our mutual love, admiration and respect for one another. It is also a gift. Unexpected and much appreciated.

So here at the end of 2008, I pause and reflect as I have ever since I knew it was worthwhile. This year has held what every year has -- births, deaths, fear, faith, surprise and excitement. But this year held more peace than years past. Maybe my age has caused more calmness or I'm simply too exhausted to get up in arms about things I KNOW I cannot control. Years further back reach out to tap me on the shoulder and ask to be found as memorable as this one and I can nod my head in agreement and know that brilliant spots from any of the past years can be remembered alongside this annual consideration. Pots and pans on the front yard of my parents house when the clock struck midnight. Parties that ended in kisses and hugs. Fireworks and sparklers. The sadness of my father in law's unexpected passing.

This year I watch the movie reel of faces roll before my mind's eye and recall with excitement and sadness the memories we made together. Beach houses that I hope will remain forever in my granddaughter's mind. Sand castles washed away by many tides since, but made with child like precision in the moment. Firepits and marshmellows. Blisters and worn sneakers. The joy of a completed goal. A healthy newborn cry and first words. Games of Candyland and the sight of primary colors painted so carefully on pages that will decorate kitchen refrigerators. An introduction to musical instruments at a Christmas pageant and the wonder as they hear again the story of Jesus and understand what the season is all about. The bright upturned face watching the parade finish with Santa and holding her mothers hand as they race back to the warmth of home. And the whisper that asked "Who will give Santa a present?".

These memories and whispers are the ones that will reach out in the future and tap us on the shoulder and ask if we remember them. These whispers will follow us and remind us of years well lived and moments we slowed down enough to enjoy. But for now we put them to bed and wait for the stroke of midnight to begin a whole new year of smiles and whispers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Birth - Days and odd gifts

Birthdays can be celebrated, ignored, forgotten and endured. My birthday this year was embraced and celebrated. I have the unique excitement of sharing my birth day with my husband and my youngest daughter. It was odd enough to marry a man who wakes up on November 30 with the same knowledge that another year has been added to our journey. It was painful to wake up in labor on my special day, knowing that a child would join this unique partnership of ours and celebrate this day. The good news about sharing this day with two other people in my life is that it lessens the probability that I will be completely forgotten on this day.

This year my husband and I wanted to have a simple birthday. No big gifts, no grand celebrations. We are old enough to acknowledge the date with each other and buy a special gift for the child that shares this date with us. But it is always the unexpected gifts you receive when you least expect it and when it was a gift you didn't even know you wanted.

I moved a piece of furniture that housed all the blankets my mother made before she passed away. They haven't been exposed for a long time because the furniture was being used as a resting spot for the cable box and DVD player. But when I pulled them out, I could smell the perfume my mother wore. And if I buried my face deep in the crafted, colored yarn that spoke of hours of sitting and feeding her soul with the joy of making things for others, I could sense her. The smell of her perfume and the softness of the yarn made me long for the warmth and strength of her hugs and the sound of the way she said my name. The way a mother says your name. With the full knowledge of who you were as a child all the way through adulthood. The way it caresses your head when you have a fever and ache all over and the way it soothes a heart when it's been hurt. I could not hear my name, but I felt her love and remembered how much she loved me. Even 12 years after her leaving I still miss her. But today, on the day she gave birth to me so many years ago she reached out from where she is and wished my a Happy Birthday.

Then later, my father called to tell me Happy Birthday. With his deep and resonating voice, he laughed outloud and wondered how he had a child this old!! I wondered too. I was remembering how I wanted to hear my mother say my name. So I asked him how I came by that name. He chuckled and said "Debbie"? Well, he said, I liked the name Deborah. At the time, there was a beautiful Hollywood actress and I liked her name. So, there it was. I was named after Deborah Reynolds. I proceeded to ask all kinds of questions about that time period when they were expecting me and got some great answers. What an unexpected gift. What a wonderful gift.

So I got unexpected gifts from both of my parents. Both welcome ones for sure. And who doesn't need that at 50 +?