Saturday, December 26, 2009
Liz got "the Cancer" (I still whisper when I say that) in August, and sister Maggie also had the same kidney cancer in '02. I decided to get some testing done and am in the clear, as is my sister Mary Pat. I heard one unsubstantiated report that there is a high incidence of kidney cancer in people who grew up in Iowa. Maybe being around farm chemicals? Who knows? Maybe it's our family or maybe it's our specific town where we grew up (right by the grain elevator and pneumonia tanks?) or maybe it's nothing. Probably nothing.
Thanksgiving was me in Iowa with Liz and Mom. DB and the kids here in CT making do. They did great, but I was determined to make up for it at Christmas. So we had a very lovely Christmas Eve (2 church services!) and Christmas Day. Food, love, celebrating the Christ Child, and being together. Today, the 26th, a little time at the mall, afternoon naps, dinner and watching college bowl games with a dear friend. All in all, a very happy time.
I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
So when I asked how I could help, she said I'm her prayer-warrior and asked me to get busy. If there's anyone out there, will you pray too? I'll write about more specifics when I can, but for now, general prayers for Liz, Lauren and Maddy.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wings of Hope
I wrote several months ago about how a passing encounter with Kate and Thomas brought me to my knees and caused me to rethink some priorities. It was nothing either of them said or did, and frankly in the grand scheme of all the Ersevim family encountered last year, they're probably completely unaware of their impact on me. But their influence has caused me to be more patient, more forgiving, less aware of MYself and more able to see others' perspectives. More prayerful, too. So if you're reading, Michael, Kate, Christopher, Thomas, thank you.
Kate's marathon effort is in honor of the Great Mr. Thomas Ersevim, and also as part of team Wings of Hope. Wings of Hope is a very special effort to run and raise funds for a new, state-of-the-art Clinical Care Center for Cancer and Other Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. If you are able, please join me in making a donation to Kate's fundraising goal. Here is a link to her webpage: http://www.wingsofhope.kintera.org/kersevim
Note the wonderful picture of Kate, Thomas and Christopher. Such a lovely photo of LIFE, LOVE and PEACE. Totally brought tears to my eyes this morning. Thanks for sharing it Kate!
Thursday, April 2, 2009
James P. Kennedy
A year ago, my dad, went to Heaven. I find comfort knowing that Dad is freed from the body he left on earth – a body that lost mobility and felt so much physical pain. Now, he’s standing on two legs and looking down on us from Heaven. I tried to talk to Dad today, maybe searching for a sign that he’s watching and I’m doing the right things, maybe just waiting to hear his voice? I don’t really know what I was looking for, but right when I was about to give up, I got this amazing image of Dad with Jesus! I was so excited, am still, to realize THAT’s where Dad is now… walking with Jesus! It’s exactly how things should be. Dad lived a Christ-like life, modeling his actions on the life Jesus led. Love. Forgiveness. Compassion. Peace. Faith.
Please let me share some memories with you.
The first time I brought my Protestant, Republican, country club boyfriend (now my darling husband) home to meet the folks, I was anxious. We were raised devoutly Catholic, verrrry left-leaning Democrats, very involved in Democratic politics, by parents who regularly and willingly gave the shirts of their backs (and ours!) to help a stranger in need. Heck the one thing Mom and Dad always said of their four daughters’ futures: “We don’t care if she marries a black man, a Jew, a Mexican or a Baptist. Just don’t bring home a Republican!” Um, sorry about that Dad.
Once Dad met DB, I think he got over the Republican thing – maybe secretly hoping he might be able to convert DB’s thinking someday. However, they had an interesting talk about being Catholic, or not. Dad shared with DB a basic tenet of his own beliefs, that DB still remembers to this day. Dad, walking in Jesus’ footsteps, believed this: Hate the sin, love the sinner.
One summer, Dad and friends built a brick patio and rock wall around a large oak tree in the back yard. This was a major project and everyone got involved. I remember going on many brick-scavenger hunts with Mom to pick up “supplies.” Although I was too young to notice at the time, apparently there were (and still are!) a number of PBR pull tabs cemented into the rock wall.
The patio was awesome, and unfortunately no sooner was it completed, than EVERY bird in our small corner of the world decided to take up residence in the oak tree. They were so dang loud, and quite oblivious to the placement of their, ahem, droppings, that that patio became quite unusable!
After consulting with several experts, i.e., other PBR-drinking dads in the neighborhood, it was decided we must scare the birds away by shooting blanks into the tree. Problem was, Dad never owned a gun in his life, didn’t like them, didn’t believe in them, and I don’t think ever even pulled a trigger.
So several nights in a row, Mom herded us into the house, away from windows, to cover our ears while Dad’s friend fired up into the tree. The plan eventually worked, and we were once again able to enjoy the fruits of Dad’s labor. Dad never fired the gun, we never “witnessed” the shooting, no birds were shot, and all was well in the land of Oz.
Last year, I went back to the old house, now vacant, and stole a brick from the patio. Please don’t tell on me.
Living in a house with four daughters and a wife, Dad adapted well. If he was a sports fan, I never knew it, except for the annual Iowa-Iowa State wrestling match he’d watch on Iowa Public TV. Dad loved to cook, and spent special time with each of us in the kitchen. He also had an amazing vegetable garden each year, and one year let me have my own little strawberry patch. I remember him coming home from work, and standing out over that garden with the hose, watering it faithfully each night.
As much as Dad loved his girls, a highlight of each summer was when my cousins Hannibal and Aaron would come to stay with the grandparents. This was Dad’s chance to hang out with boys, do gross boy things, and make their annual trek to amusement park Adventureland. One of Dad’s favorite stories, one he was still telling last year, involves the boyish antics of cousin Aaron, now a grown man in his mid-30s.
On a ride called the “Silly Silo” people stand up against the wall inside a large cylinder. The cylinder spins around faster and faster, and eventually the floor drops away. On a diet of funnel cakes, popcorn and saltwater taffy, you can just imagine the impact on a 8-year-old’s stomach.
Exiting the ride, Dad asked the boys, “Well, how was it?’’
Aaron enthusiastically replied, “It was great Uncle Jim! I puked and it stuck to the inside of the walls while we spun around!”
Thanks Hannibal and Aaron for that little jolt of testosterone Dad so loved!
In addition to his five girls at home, Dad had another very large flock of female admirers. The state women’s prison is in our hometown, and Dad became a driving force to bring Jesus’s message of love, forgiveness and compassion to the women there. He helped implement a retreat program called Residents Encounter Christ (REC) to the prison, and spent countless hours making sure the women knew that, in spite of what brought them there, they were loved and valued and children of God. Dad became friend, confidant, and father-figure to so many. One highlight of a REC weekend was the special Saturday night meal, prepared and served by Dad and a team of other volunteers. He made sure each of them felt cherished by this experience. Although stricter prison regulations now mean that special meal is a no-go, there is a whole generation of women, some lifers and many on the “outside” who were touched by Dad and remember his love as a highpoint during a dark time in their lives.
After a long career as a small business owner, Dad had a late-in-life career working for the John Q. Hammonds company in their hotels. Late one night, a weary business travel checked into his room, ready for a soft pillow and a few hours of rest before an important presentation. Minutes later, the man frantically called the front desk, asking of there was an all-night Wal Mart or similar store where he could pick up some dress shoes… he’d forgotten to pack them, and sneakers with a business suit would not cut the mustard come morning. Dad, calm and reassuring, told the man he would get to work on finding a solution, and encouraged him to get some sleep. Dad got busy scouring the Yellow Pages for anything that might suffice, with no luck. As the sun started to peek on the horizon, still no shoes in sight, Dad rang the guest’s room, ready to admit defeat, when brilliance struck. When the guy anxiously answered, Dad asked what size he wore, and realizing a close-enough match, informed the guest that suitable shoes would be outside his hotel door in 30 minutes.
Dad got busy with the shoe polish and a cloth, and placed the shoes outside the room at precisely 7am. Then, his overnight-shift having ended, and ready for his own soft pillow, Dad headed out to the parking lot. In his stocking feet.
Thanks for listening to my memories for a while. I find that once I started writing, I have about a million more stories to share, so hopefully this blog won’t be so silent anymore.
But now, I have a to do list that contains a number of Very Important things. Call Mom. Call three sisters (one down, two to go). Things related to my job and career and clients I need to take care of. Get our 2008 tax info together. Return calls to two dear friends – one of whom invited me to a Broadway show on April 23! My list also contains this: “update iPod.” So please excuse me now while I attend to matters iPod-ish.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. -- Abraham Lincoln
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Laughter Lives Tuesday!
I was talking to a friend on Sunday, who reminded me that we should cherish every moment we have with our children. I had been complaining about what-feels-like-constant time behind the wheel carting kids to and fro, lamenting the more-stringent teen driving laws which went into effect last August. She told me that car time with her daughters – all off-to and out-of college now – is one of her most precious memories. With the kids in the car, a captive audience, you get all kinds of insight and information. No amount of monitoring of the Facebook, text messages or email can ever replace that valuable in person time with our kids. Thanks Mary, for the great reminder.
Starting in January, we joined a new carpool for driving to the high school; every fourth morning it’s our turn. I find it a hilarious juxtaposition of female teens and male teens. While most of my daily interaction is with a male of the species (read: giant hulking food vacuum), it is delightful to spend a few minutes in the morning with these young ladies. They are talkative and forthcoming and love to share details. My boy, on the other hand, is silent, taciturn and wordless. We’ve recently been privy to news of a boy from another school showing interest in one of the girls (exciting!), and in-depth details regarding the Great Biology Test Scandal of 2009. These were events that I had a passing knowledge of based on bits and pieces from the boy, but once the girls jumped in the car, it was awesome to be able to fill in the blanks! One of the other dads who drives has welcomed my boy with open arms – the dad (of two girls) said he’s thrilled with the addition of a little testosterone to the daily commute.
There are all kinds of stories on the internet and elsewhere that are daily reminders to parents to love your children every day with all you’ve got. With one in high school and one in junior high, and our hectic sports and activities schedules, I sometimes pause to ponder the fact that my boy will be off to college within three years, and my daughter just a few years after that. Pause. Heart flutter. It’s the way things are supposed to be, I know that, but it makes me clutch, for all I’m worth, at every possible moment with them. Kids – let your parents hug you! We need it!
All this reflecting and loving on my kids brings me to the point of this post… my friends Brent and Michelle over at the Riggs Family Blog host a weekly blog party called “Laughter Lives Tuesday.” A place for funny family stories and Brent has posted a few great ones. My story is dated a few years back, but pretty typical for the type of thing that would happen to our family when the kids were young.
When our kids were 1 and 5, we moved to my husband’s hometown and joined the church he’d grown up in. Other members of the church were, for the most part, DB’s parents, their friends, and several other “pillars of the community.” Our attendance there was somewhat notable as the church focused on attracting young families, and the return of a member, with a family in tow, was proof that their efforts were working. So attending coffee hour after church was practically required for our little foursome. I’d stand all gussied up, perfect children in my arms, and get introduced to my father-in-law’s Rotary buddies, my mother-in-law’s Ladies Auxiliary ladies, and my husband’s potential business contacts. After a few months, I knew enough people to hold my own.
One morning I found myself in conversation with the head of a large local charitable foundation, a Very Important Person in town. I had my toddler on one hip, and a cup of coffee in the other hand. I was wearing a sharp little top, that I was sure made me look quite mature and classy. It was red and white hound’s-tooth check, and zipped all the way up the front. Deep in conversation likely related to his foundation’s substantial support for a cause I was working on, my darling baby zipped my zipper DOWN, all the way, til my shirt was completely wide open and I had nary a hand available to cover up. I shoved the baby into his arms, dropped my hot coffee, and scampered away to collect myself. The poor man definitely got a show that day, and probably wasn’t sure if it was Sunday morning in church or Saturday night at the local strip joint!
Shortly thereafter, we moved 1,200 miles away.
“One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.” – Erma Bombeck
Monday, December 22, 2008
Merry Christmas everyone! 2008 seems to have flown by. So much happened, and yet so many things remain the same.
NKB and BKB are still very active in sports – basketball right now seems to be running our household. Throughout the year, we also spend a lot of time on the soccer field (BKB), the football field (NKB), the golf course (everyone!), and running. In last year’s update, I mentioned that NKB was almost as tall as DB… fast forward 12 months and about 2 inches and meet our towering giant. DB still has the advantage in muscle and weight, but I don’t anticipate that will last either. NKB is 16, a sophomore, and will soon be driving. Our sweet BKB, 12 and in 7th grade, is developing her musical talents in addition to sports. She’s in a few different vocal and musical groups, and in March will participate in a youth musical.
DB is still experiencing all the joy and merriment in the financial world with [a very large company], and I continue my work as a technology recruiter. We had fun together this summer finishing off our basement. And by “we” I mean DB+KKB+the nice men who came to our house and installed sheetrock. And by “fun” I mean at least we are still on speaking terms, DB and I (just joking!). In all seriousness, it was a great family project and the kids helped out too with a lot of the painting and other finish work.
In April, my dad went to Heaven, after several years of enduring the after-effects of a stroke. His lifetime of service and love, gentleness and joy are a lasting legacy. I was so touched to hear from so many different people, sharing stories of how Dad touched their lives. He was a great mentor and friend, and a lot of folks strove to live by his example, embrace his strong faith, and receive his love. The world is a better place because of Big Jim.
I’ll leave you with a call to action that our family shares together often. I don’t know the author, but would give credit if I could. Our Christmas wish for you is that you read these words, and hopefully they will touch your heart. If they do, the world will be a better place:
"Let us now go forth into the world in peace; to be of good courage; to hold fast to that which is good; to render to no one evil for evil; to strengthen the fainthearted; to support the weak; to help the afflicted; to rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit."
The family who sits Round the Oak Table