Little signs 

I have been so sad about the flooding in Texas. My brother lives in Austin. He had lots of rain and wind but no flooding. He is safe. His family is safe. But so many others are not. It’s really so sad we can’t put words to it. 

I’ve wanted to write this week but I wanted it so be something that might bring joy or a smile or warmth. So many people are suffering and don’t we suffer just a little when we see our fellow man in such peril? So I have a little story that will maybe bring you some joy -or you might shake your head and laugh. 

Because I got a sign. Not a sign but a SIGN!

The other day I was talking to my mother in law. She’s in heaven -or the great beyond. Whatever you want to call it. To me it’s heaven. We lost her just over a month ago. My heart still hurts and it will for a while -she was my good good friend for almost 20 years. 

Anyway I talk to her. I feel her so near to me. I can’t explain it. But maybe it’s the way she felt her husband near her after he passed away in 2015. She felt him in bed on his side next to her every night.  Oh and he made visits to us too. I’ve written about the time he was sitting watching kevin build our chicken coop. Kevin saw him out of the corner of his eye -twice. Dad would have loved being part of building that coop!  

So she’s gone and the hours long conversations on the phone are gone too. Often I’d talk to her then hang up and dial my mother. Those days are gone. But my mom lives here so the chats can continue in person.  But there is a hole left where mom sweeney once was. I feel her close but it’s not the same. 

So I talk. She’d want that.  The other day while I was talking to her I asked her to send me a sign she was ok. 

I said ” maybe you could put a white rose on my pink rose bush or put flowers where they wouldn’t really grow.”

I went on with my day and didn’t think about it again until a day or two later I saw this. 


This was a pot of weeds on my deck. I hadn’t planted in there in two or three years because my dogs would tear up the pot and eat the flowers. Last spring I pulled weeds out but weeds kept growing. This year a big stalk grew out of it and the boys removed that a month ago or more – and the pot was supposed to go into the big dumpster we have out front now as we clean things out from a basement flood and the junk that accumulates when three generations are living in a house. 

But now there are flowers in the pot! There weren’t any all summer. Just weeds. 

I take this as a sign. 

I’m not sure what others think but all I know is it brought me joy in a week with a lot of sad stuff going on. 

I’ll take it. 

Hope this made you smile or laugh – it’s all good. 

Thank you’s and angels. 

This past week I had my 53rd birthday.  I think back over the last three years and all my family has been through and along the way I am reminded of all the love that has been given. 

This past summer I ended up in bed in pain and I was in misery. I had days where I didn’t want to keep going. It seems on those days that Kevin would bring the mail in and there would be a card from someone that would encourage me     – Or I’d get a text or Facebook pm from someone checking on me just when I needed an encouraging and caring word. We received meals twice a week for a couple months. I don’t even know who many of the senders were as it was all coordinated by a close friend of mine. The meals were a lifesaver. I couldn’t cook at all and there are only so many things Kevin can cook though he got more creative under pressure:)

 It is said that God puts Angels on earth to help us and to encourage us. These notes , messages, texts and meals were my little gifts of love and encouragement from those angels.  

Love surpasses all things. We don’t have to agree on everything, not one of us is the same and none of us is right all the time or nice all the time. But acts of love and encouragement transcend all that is different about each of us. It’s what brings us together. We are all on this earth trying to survive and learn what the heck this place is all about. 

We can survive without love -I suppose -but it’s a lonely existence. We need eachother.  We humans should take the cue from other animals. Most species need to be around others of their species to survive. 

We humans have more things alike than we have different. Just when we might feel we’ve lost faith in the human race something will pop up on our Facebook feed that makes us change our minds. There is hope for us. 

The notes and texts and messages and meals and calls and little gifts I have received over the last three years -and especially in the last six months have meant the world to me.  They kept me going during some very low and sad times. There aren’t enough ways to say thank you. My words can’t convey what they’ve meant to me. 

I haven’t quite figured this human experience out yet. I have a strong faith in God and I suspect many of my questions will be answered when my time here is completed.  I have faith that God that knows what he’s doing even when I don’t understand it. In the meantime I want to live my life to the fullest that I can and I want make people feel loved and cared for especially when they are down. Just like what was done for me. 

Maybe the best way I can say thank you to all those who have reached out to me is to simply pay all the kindness and love forward.  We can all be angels on earth -it just takes a little effort to make this world a better place. And it feels pretty good to be an angel too. 

God Bless to all of my angels near and far. I won’t forget your love to me.  I love you all. 

photo credit : Realm of Kindness on Facebook

The little ceramic tree

mom’s tree in the window of her assisted-living apartment

I don’t know how long ago my mother in law (now 91) and I got talking about how much I liked her little green ceramic Christmas tree that lit up. It reminded me of the ceramic trees my dad had and that his mother (my nana) had. I always loved those trees. 

When I think of them I think of so many christmas’s in the deep past of my life.  My Nana had the ceramic tree but it was white and she placed in one of her condo front windows and I also recall she  had the little Swedish angel carousel that would spin around and around when you lit the candles under them. I loved when she had them out over the holidays and she would light them for me. We’d turn out the lights and light the candles. I can still feel the warmth and the tinkling sound of the bells. 

angel tree like my nanas. photo cred: angelcimes.com


My dad’s ceramic tree came to him well after he married my stepmother Jean. It too was white and would sit in our living room on a table -(the living room was the forbidden room unless we had company). I’d admire it from afar. 

Then it followed them to a new home and I was allowed to admire it close up BC by then I was an adult and a guest in the house by then too so I was allowed in the living room. It may have followed my dad to Florida after my stepmother died – and perhaps it will surface as my brother goes through some of my dads items. Maybe my nanas is there too. I can’t remember where that tree went after she died. Perhaps the one my dad had was hers.  That’s a thought that just came to me. This is where the memories blur for me. 

As a young adult years ago -before my marriage – I got to thinking about those trees and I really wanted one of my own.  I did ask my dad if he used his and he said he did.  It was his only tree as he had given up tree decorating some years prior when he sent me a huge box of Christmas decorations from my childhood. I still have many but they are beat  up. 

I couldn’t find a ceramic tree anywhere. They must have gone out of style. I may have even looked on eBay for them a time or two over the years but I never bit the bullet and got one. I’m not sure why. Maybe cost. Maybe I never found one there. Again memory blur. 

But sometime over the last 18 years that I’ve been part of the Sweeney family Christmas I must have begun the dialogue about my love of my mother in laws( mom sweeney)  little green ceramic tree. I would tell mom Sweeney about my family memories with the ceramic trees. One year a while back she mentioned to me that she was going to leave me that tree. I just laughed uncomfortably because to think I’d lose her wasn’t anything I could consider. She’s been such a friend to me – it’s hard to think of her not being here. 

Last Christmas Eve my Father in law died. How we all got through Christmas is beyond me. Not long after that mom sweeney began to get rid of things in her house. And when I say rid I don’t mean that in a bad sense. She carefully chose recipients of her most important items and she began giving them away to each of us. I wrote back last spring that she gave me my father in laws camera. A beautiful old Zeis. It meant so much to me that she would gift me that. It’s a beautiful piece and she knows what photography means to me. 

I think on that same day she also wanted me to take her little green  ceramic Christmas tree.   She said she wouldn’t be around to use it next Christmas – I declined. I wasn’t ready to take that yet. But eventually not long after that things were going at a fast pace out of the house – now some was even going to goodwill.  So my husband and I were over to her home for a visit and I asked her if I could take it but my taking came with a condition proposed by me ” if you are alive next Christmas I am bringing you the tree back.”  

She agreed but I think she was sure she’d be gone by her next Christmas. Then spring became summer and she moved to assisted living. She didn’t think she’d be in there very long- and it’s been a hard transition. And as this holiday has loomed she’s been feeling worse physically -and mentally she’s sad. She misses her husband of almost 70 years. She’s not living in the place she had Christmas for well over 50 years – her home not far down the road from her assisted living. A house mostly empty now and set to go on the market in January. She’s lonely. 

So one day a couple weeks ago Kevin and I made a surprise visit to see Mom Sweeney and we brought her that little tree and placed it on her window ledge.  

“You are still here ” I said. ” I told you I’d bring it back. ” 

She smiled. Her voice is so soft now we can’t always here her. She reminded me that it was my tree now.  I’ll take stewardship of it but it will always be hers. 

I told her , “If you are still here next Christmas I’m bringing it back.” 

We smiled at eachother.

That’s a promise I intend to keep. Oh how I love that lady. 

The Greatest. 

To me Muhammad Ali was the greatest.  Not really because of the fighting. I find fighting barbaric really. But when I was a young girl I watched him fight and I watched him talk. I came to love him for his talking and his banter with the late Howard Cosell. I see the genius and the genuine love in that relationship now.

When I was a kid our home revolved around sports. My dad ruled the tv and we got to watch our shows when he wasn’t watching either news or sports or the occasional sitcom – he didn’t like too many of those.

If you wanted to watch tv you watched what dad was watching. So I watched a lot of sports and because of that I continue to watch sports. I get comfort from it. I sort of find it funny that coming from a sometimes very chaotic home that I took sports as a thing of comfort with me into the future. I think it’s BC it was a time of bonding with my dad. A time when there wasn’t arguing or me feeling like I didn’t fit in.

As a girl I was sort of foreign to my dad BC I was a girl.  As a wimpy cry baby girl I was even more alien to him -he didn’t know what to do with all that. I had a younger brother who was much less alien and more relatable to my dad than I was. Perhaps my love of watching sports ( I played some sports but honestly they were just for fun) comes from the fact that sports watching was a time that my being alien wasn’t an issue. We all sat and watched together and rooted together.  I can’t count how many Redskins games I watched with my dad and how many we attended together. Even now if we get together we inevitably will watch a sports game. It’s become a common bond in a way.

So I remember Mohammed Ali so well. We would watch his interviews with Cosell and laugh at his chants a rhymes. We would mimic his famous phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee….” We would watch his fights or if I couldn’t stay up for a fight I would hear my dad cheering  in the family room.  There are many hours of me hearing sports from the confines of my room. Me laying in bed under my pink sheets in my pink room with pink paisley border-door open because I was afraid to close it at night- listening to my dad watching sports. It’s when he seemed most happy I think. Sports brings him joy in a way that other things might not.

I am finding myself very saddened by the loss of Ali. I think for me his death represents the fast passing of time. The little girl who wanted so much to be part of her fathers life is now grown and still feels the same. Where did those years go? I wonder if Ali felt the same.

That little girl that revered this black fighter and laughed at his rants  and rhymes didn’t realize he was a one of the first gorilla marketers before that was even a thing. She didn’t really know what he stood for in the world of black people and in the history of fighting. She just knew her dad loved watching him so she loved him. And that young girl -now woman – feels the passing deeply. She will never forget the cheers from that family room -someone else’s room now. She will never forget the laughs this fighter brought to her life and she will never forget her dads joy.

RIP

Little visits from beyond?

The first time it happened was in the grocery store about 3 weeks ago. Kevin walked over to me as I stood in one of the aisles. I had left him a couple minutes before perusing snacks one aisle over.  I forget now what I was even searching for but when Kevin caught up with me he asked me if I had been calling him. I shook my head no and asked him why. He had a puzzled look on his face and he said “I heard someone whispering my name..they said ‘Kevin, Kevin’. ”

“It wasn’t me.” I said. “And nobody was near you?”  He shook his head no.

“It was like someone was standing near me whispering.”

Then the thought popped in my head and came out of my mouth in a flash. “It was your dad!” I said. “It was dad!”

We went on to discuss this possibility as we perused the shelves of that grocery store. I think it gave Kevin some comfort in the wondering if his dad was somehow trying to reach out.

We know he is around or at least we believe him to be. Every night since he passed last December he has been sleeping with my mother-in-law. After 68 years of marriage I can certainly understand why he might not want to leave his bride. I believe he is there- if you knew my mother-in-law she is very lucid and she would not talk about it unless she felt something was happening. She says she knows it sounds crazy but she  “feels” him there at night and she feels his breathe. I also believe it because I believe there is thin veil between here and there(where we go after we die). We just cannot see past it- but sometimes little things happen that remind us that the here and there are closely connected.

This past weekend Kevin and I foolishly decided to build a chicken coop (more on that later) -we were doing work outside on the covered patio that leads into the gym section of our barn. I left Kevin with my son Zach who was helping him- as I had to pick up my other son from work. When I returned we got back to work and out of the blue Kevin said ” I saw my Dad today.”

“What? Where?!!!” I asked rather astonished.

“Out of the corner of my eye sitting on that chair. I saw him twice” He was pointing to our plastic adirondack chair that we pulled out for rest breaks.

“What did he look like? Did he say anything?” I was excited and stunned all at once. And kind of jealous because I wanted to see him too.

“He looked younger…like when he was our age.” (which is 50ish) ” He didn’t say anything. I just saw him there.”

I asked him if that upset him, or scared him. Kevin said it didn’t and he said it actually brought him comfort.

Kevin's dad made this some years ago. It hangs over the workbench in our garage.

Kevin’s dad made this some years ago. It hangs over the workbench in our garage.

I am not surprised Dad showed up when Kevin was building something. Kevin’s dad loved to build things. He finished their family homes entire basement and created a cool buffet area that houses the TV but had a built in sink. He made bookshelves for his home. For us he made a toy chest and a table that detached from it’s base so you could turn the leg structure around and that would change the height of the table as my kids grew. He had that sort of mind. He liked making things that served a purpose but they would have this twist of engineering. He was a master at acrostic puzzles and sudoku – at least up until the foe dementia took away his mind.

In time my kids outgrew these items so they now reside with great- grandkids and hopefully they will continue to be passed down through the family. Maybe they will make their way back to live at with my future grands we might have. I am sure each of Dad’s sons can list off items that dad lovingly made for his family. Mom joked he always cut himself every time he made something.

“He is probably here to help you along.” I told Kevin. “For moral support”.  Kevin laughed. Kevin is not a natural do-it-yourselfer.  He has had to become more self-reliant since we moved to this farm. There is always something that needs to be done and sometimes those things cost lots of money if you get others to do them. So Kevin has learned along the way to do a number of things.  This coop is our first major build. But thanks to good plans and maybe a little mojo from Kevin’s dad, we are chugging along.

Last evening Kevin wanted to build two more walls for the coop. It was a nice evening and I looked forward to getting outside and helping him. I mostly read the plans and tell him the measurements of the cuts and the stud placements. I also occasionally measure stuff.

When we got down to the barn I told Kevin that I hoped his Dad would show up. I told him he had to be around because he couldn’t stay away from a project. I had just reminisced the day before with my mother-in-law about the time he came over to our old home and helped us put up a play set for our then young kids. Kevin still says that it was only because his dad pitched in that that set was put up the right way!

Kevin making cuts to the wood for the coop wall.

Kevin making cuts to the wood for the coop wall.

At one point last evening Kevin’s drill bit was starting to strip. I asked him if he had more and he said yes. Except we didn’t have any down at the barn with us they were up at the house in the garage. I suggested to Kevin that maybe we could text our son, Luke, and ask him to grab one and bring it down.  Yes we were feeling that lazy!  I was about to do that except all of a sudden Kevin looked down where he was kneeling at the end of the wall he was building. “What’s this?” He said as he reached down for something.

“What..Oh my God..” I said as I registered what he was now holding in his hand.

“How did this get there?” he wondered as he held up a drill bit- just the one he needed for his screws.

We looked at each other. “Your Dad did that.” I said. I sat there thinking it through. Kevin had just loaded material onto the patio the night before and he was working at building a side wall which he had laying on top of the t1-11 boards that would eventually be the siding of the coop. Kevin had been kneeling there for like ten minutes and he had not seen that bit there. I had been standing nearby and we measured for square and Kevin would have had his face right where that drill bit was – but it wasn’t there then. A few minutes later it was just laying there near his knee.

“Wow – that is amazing.” Is all I could say.  I got up and walked into the gym to grab something and when inside I just stood there in amazement at what had just happened. “Thank you Dad” I said to the air.

And I swear I felt him near me.

At lunch today Kevin and I chatted about the drill bit “incident” again. He told me he finds all these little signs very comforting.  I am glad he finds peace in that. I know how much he misses his dad. I know how much I miss him.

My son Zach said after he heard that his dad saw his grandfather  “We see what we want to see”. Ever the skeptic I suppose.  Perhaps that is true. Maybe hurt hearts want to believe in signs from those that have gone through that thin veil before them. Or just maybe that when we are open enough to really “see”, that veil opens up just enough so someone we love on that side can let us know they aren’t far away.

Thats what I believe…

Thanks Dad – you are welcome anytime…and maybe keep helping us with this coop.. we need it  ….luv u….always…

 

Dear Nurses-

I just want to say thank you all of the great ER nurses for treating my husband with such care and concern last night. 

We were the ones parked in the hallway in front of triage. It was so busy beds were lined up all along the corridor walls. How can you forget right?  

It isn’t great not getting a room but sitting where we sat I got a small dose of what it must be like to be an ER nurse. 

I tried not to eavesdrop as you spoke to the EMTs about people who were brought in. A sweet older woman who had two glasses of wine and her blood sugar spiked. She was a great lady and you all marveled at her love for life and giggled when she said maybe she should not have had that second glass of wine. You said you wanted to embrace life like that when you were older. 

Then there were the frequent flyers. Maybe in for some pain meds. I felt so sad for them. There was a mom whose adult son had a seizure and she was making your lives a little hard with her demands that her son be seen asap. You were kind and patient and never were snarky even behind their backs. 

I am not sure how you do it. I heard a nurse getting yelled at by a patient who was clearly mad about everything.  You all just listed the patients options and tried to get her to understand them.  There was a young man brought in on a gurney in handcuffs and watched over by a sheriff and hospital security. I hadn’t even thought about that part of the job. 

 I saw a lot last night. One thing I know for sure is that I am not cut out of the same cloth as a nurse is at all. We all have our gifts and what a gift you have to tend to the sickest people and still keep smiling.  My 14 year old son was also watching intently. When we were leaving he said he might like to be a “medic” on the ambulance. I think you made an impression on this young boy. What a compliment to your good work. 

Nobody likes feeling sick and having to lay in an ER corridor but we made the best of it and you took great care of my husband in the midst of all the chaos around. Thank you. Getting this glimpse into your world was an eye opener and I have an even greater respect in all that you do. 

God Bless-

From the lady who watched in awe in the corridor. 

  

Angel Yahtzee

I am going to post something a bit lighter than my last couple of posts. Just need a little breather from all of that other stuff.

Yahtzee Gold

Yahtzee Gold

I love to play electronic Gold Yahtzee. If you have never seen one of these games I will share a picture of one because I am pretty sure they don’t make these anymore (ours is ten years old I think and isn’t it weird it still works- the battery is the original) – I have looked online for new ones and Amazon has them for $60(?) what? They must have real gold in them. AND they are addicting…

My husband and I love this game so much that we take it on vacation.  He did not want me to share with readers that we use this Yahtzee game in the bathroom from time to time- but now I have shared it and its out there and I think people can relate to us wanting something to keep us occupied in the bathroom. What?- there is probably a copy of some magazine in your bathroom..maybe you are even reading this post in your bathroom. Wow- I have digressed way off-topic.

What this post is supposed to be about is my angels (and Yahtzee gold but i’ll get to that soon). I believe in angels and I believe in guardian angels. I am not an expert on angels or anything but I happen to know that I have two angels who watch over me. Why did I get two? I think it is because I am a lot to handle for just one angel. How do I know I have two? I am not sure I can explain why –  I just know. I think we all have an angel or two (or more) looking after us.  The other day my angels messed with me by taking over my Yahtzee Gold game. So I will share this story and you can decide what you think:

I picked up our Yahtzee Gold the other day and began a game…my husband was on the phone- my kids were doing whatever they were doing and i was going to have a few minutes to relax before getting dinner on the table. So on my first roll I got a Yahtzee- a Yahtzee is five of a kind and worth 50 points for the first one and 100 for every Yahtzee after that- no big deal(well it is a big deal because it is a Yahtzee but one is -well- just one.) On each turn you get three rolls and it is the result of the 1-3 rolls that gives your score for that turn. So I took my next turn and got another Yahtzee- it has happened to me before- so I wasn’t shocked but I was happy. So I have 150 points so far and I am pretty psyched…and then on my third turn I get a third one- What? Like that is really weird to get a third Yahtzee IN A ROW. I have been playing for years and I have gotten three in a game and not very often but never three in a row! These were Yahtzees with only one roll per turn. This is rare. What was up?

So I thought “angels!” – not sure why this popped into my head but it did. I have thought on a few other occasions that maybe my angels were helping me get needed rolls when it seemed unlikely that I would have a successful turn – like when an inside straight would turn up on a third attempt. I laughed out loud (LOL) at my crazy thought that an angel was helping me..but then I thought ok heres a challenge…I said aloud –“if you are here then give me a 4th Yahtzee on this roll”…I pushed the button and heck yes!!! I got a fourth Yahtzee and with only one roll! This is crazy stuff! By this time I was floored and I said – with tears in my eyes- “Ok I know you are here and thank you for being here”. Then I am wondering is anyone else there? Nana, Jean, Barbara, Christine…people dear to me that I had left our world. It was all kind of weird…but cool.

I kept playing – and I would like to say my next turn was a Yahtzee- it was not…but it was a full house! – I think I accomplished that in two rolls..details are fuzzy bc I was pretty psyched that my angels were there and it kind of became about the angels and less about the game. Then I rolled again and I got another Yahtzee! So if you lost count that is now 5 Yahtzees in one game and all happened on one roll per turn….this was uncanny and I can say it never has happened to me before. So then I began talking to my angels – if anyone had been nearby they may have thought I lost my mind.

The rest of the game went fast because I got what I needed on .Every. Turn.  I think maybe I only took my second roll on a turn a few times – and maybe a third roll once. I did not have to take zero in any category. Everything was going my way- and I got the 35 point bonus. I didn’t even realize that my final score was 678 right away – I was blown away by the experience! 678 is very high for electronic Yahtzee. My high score before that was 617. Normally scores are 150-300. Nobody else in the family had ever gotten over 550. It was quite surreal.

The score!

I ran to show my husband the total. I must say I was kind of emotional thinking that my angels may have been trying to let me know they are there. It was also comforting. I am not sure what you will think but I would like to believe that once in a while we get a little nudge from the other side – whether we recognize it as such is another thing. Hmm…I wonder if my angels would be as much help in a casino…

thanks for reading…