This is where I go out on a limb and ponder a while.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

No Regrets

Yesterday was one year since my brother Dave died.  It was a sudden, traumatic end to his life that none of us expected.  It was the kind of thing that you think would only happen to people you don't know or tv characters.  He committed suicide.  There...I've said it.  There is a certain stigma attached to suicide.  I have unconsciously kept the details to myself this past year.  Whenever I talked to anyone about it I said "My brother passed", or "I lost my brother".  I never realized until today that in doing so, I am promoting the shame that many families feel when this happens to them.  And believe me, it does 'happen' to them.  Suicide is so heart-wrenching to the loved ones of the deceased.  There is no closure because you are always left with unanswered questions.

But there comes a time when you have to just close the book on what happened and focus on the living.  This doesn't mean I will forget about my brother.  He was a huge part of my life - we were only a year apart in age, and it was just the two of us for 5 years before my next brother was born.  It means that when I think of him, I want to smile instead of cry.  If any one good thing has come out of this, it is that I have been given an attitude adjustment.  I mentioned in a previous post that I have learned to have an "attitude of gratitude".  This is how I have been able to deal with the loss.  I just have to see something positive.  And what I see is that every single day is a gift.  Dave was dealing with emotions and thoughts that obviously kept him from seeing anything positive worth living for.  I see possibilities everywhere every day.  My adoring husband, my beautiful children and grandchildren, my puppy, the weather, beautiful music, a really good wine.  Every day is an opportunity and I don't want to have any regrets because I missed it.  Probably the most important:  I don't want to lose a loved one and regret that I didn't show him/her my love.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What happened to Christmas?

I feel as though Christmas ran past me this year.  I somehow missed it.  Oh, I was here; buying gifts, wrapping them, planning the Christmas Eve celebration, the Christmas Day celebration, making travel plans, baking treats.  But in the midst of all of that busy-ness I skipped what was really important, and I guess that's why I now experience this shocking sensation that WE FORGOT TO HAVE CHRISTMAS!

Now when I look back at my attitude, I wonder if it showed.  Did anyone else notice my lack of enthusiasm?  Even worse, was I a Grinch?!  Oh, I hope Libby didn't notice!  Christmas is still a magical time at the age of 10.  Normally I really swim in Christmas magic!  I keep Christmas music on all day, I try to decorate every corner of the house, and make more treats than we can possibly consume.  I asked myself several times this season why I just couldn't get into the spirit.  Seriously, besides buying and half-heartedly wrapping gifts, I did very little else to make our home Christmasy.  But I know in my heart it was because I didn't prepare my spiritual life for the season.  This needs to be the main focus of Christmas for me or it falls flat.

We did go to church on Christmas Eve, but my mind was on other things.  Thinking about what I needed to do once we got home- the whole clan joined us for an evening of family fun. Thinking about those adorable babies in church - they can be very distracting!  Wondering if I had remembered everything I needed for our trip the next morning to visit relatives far away.

Well, I can't take it back.  All I can do is remember from this year forward to keep my heart focused on "The Reason for the Season", and everything else will fall into place.  This is something I already knew, of course, but I just lost my way for a little while.  It's ok, He knows.  He's just been waiting for me to find my way back.

Here's a few photos to let you know that the season wasn't a total loss - I love my family!

I know this is a fuzzy photo, but Libby and Myrah rarely hold still.  I think it's so cute because they love each other dearly!

 A very happy Nana.

Look who I've got - beautiful baby Maddie!

Oh, Matt has a soft spot for new baby Charlie!  This was taken on Christmas Eve,
and this was taken on Thanksgiving Day - They're almost the same except that Charlie has grown a lot!

Myrah so wanted to give Jack a hug, but he wasn't having any of it!  He knows his polar bear will protect him!

Here's hoping you will be blessed this new year.  I plan to NOT take anything or anyone for granted and to keep Him close to my heart.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Teach Your Child to Hunt

There’s a saying we like to use around our house that goes “Teach your child to hunt and you’ll never have to hunt for your child”.  I’ve never been able to find out who penned that phrase, but in our family it has proven to be true.   Hunting and fishing have been a priority from day one in our marriage.  When my husband proposed to me, I said yes, and then his next words to me were “But don’t ever try to stop me from going hunting or fishing!”  Whoa!  I knew where I stood right from the start! 

When we started having children, they were used to seeing their father pack up for hunting trips.  It was a different atmosphere in the house then.  You could feel his excitement and he was distracted, already in a different place before he had even left us.  So as soon as they were old enough the kids were eager to go along on the trips with their dad and he was happy to bring them along.  It was a continuation of a tradition his father had carried on with him, just as his grandfather before him.  At first they didn’t hunt.  They weren’t even old enough to be in firearms safety class.  So my husband wisely just let them have fun out in the field.  The first trip he took them on was always a two or three day duck or goose hunting trip around the age of 8-10.  They had to be quiet first thing in the morning in the duck or goose blinds which was exciting for them, but later in the morning he would let them run off steam, running around in the field with the dogs.  They explored and discovered critters and got good and dirty.  They always got to go out to dinner at a grown-up restaurant and maybe even breakfast the next morning, coffee included.  When he thought they were ready, he would take them to sit with him in the deer stand, around the age of 11.

Once they were old enough to take the firearm safety class, they already knew all they needed to know and it was a mere formality.  When my youngest son was taking the class, an instructor jokingly remarked that he could just as well let Dan teach the class.  Finally the time arrived for each one of them when they could go on their first hunt.  It is a rite of passage in our family and it marks the beginning of adulthood.  It is a matter of pride to be able participate in providing for the family.  And there is always a friendly competition going on for first buck and biggest buck, and of course, we have trophies on the walls of our house.  I don’t understand why a spouse would refuse to allow a man to hang a buck trophy on the wall.  It is something they work hard for and is a source of great pride.  The home is not just for a woman to feel comfortable in; it is for a community of people to enjoy together. 

For weeks ahead of the opener of deer hunting, it is the main topic of conversation around the house.  I can’t imagine anything else that could bring a father and his sons together more so than this experience.   Even through what for most people is the toughest teen years, there has never been a rebellious period with our boys.  They have never acted out, showed disrespect, or found themselves in trouble with the law.  They work hard and they play hard, and they are fun to be around.  Our daughter also enjoys hunting and fishing, but she is a new mother now, and for the time being is not as involved in it as she used to be.  However, her son Jack is learning to love going out in the boat with us already and I’m confident that his grandpa will have him fishing in no time.  Two of the boys are also married with young children and fortunately, their spouses understand and support the ‘passion’.  I know they look forward to passing on the tradition to their children as well.  It is a way of life that gets into your blood, stays with you for life and becomes generational. 

Hunting and fishing is part of the independent spirit that started this country, and it should remain ingrained in our family traditions.  Outdoor sportsmen are not stupid, shiftless people with nothing better to do.  We have jobs; we are well-educated, successful in our work life – all-around productive members of our community.  But when we have time off, this is what we do.  And we do it with respect.  No animal is ever allowed to suffer, and whatever we harvest, we eat.  We respect the environment by leaving it as we found it.  Outdoor sportsmen and women spend a lot of money on licenses and stamps, which helps fund conservation projects.  This is good for everyone, whether they hunt and fish or just like to enjoy the outdoors.

Ok, stepping off of my soapbox for now.   I'll just share my favorite photo of my hubby and youngest daughter.  This was a "Take your Dad fishing" Father's Day celebration.  This is how we do it!