A Look Back

 

I just realized that it’s the beginning of October.  I started blogging the beginning of October 2005.  Yes folks… I’ve been at this a long long time.  Sometimes I haven’t been the most consistent, going days or even a couple of weeks without a word, and truthfully this is the third blogging platform I’ve used.  Started with Livejournal, then Blogger, and finally WordPress, where I found a permanent home.  Luckily each time I moved platforms I was able to import my old blog posts to this blog you’re reading right now which, thankfully, has it all.  Start to finish.  Pretty cool.  It’s been quite a journey since 2005.

As I re-read these first two entries I had to smile, and be a little sad.  The first entry was after a visit to Karen’s parents place in San Jose.  I had been there before, but not many times at that point so I was still getting to know all of them and they me.  Charles, our nephew, was only 16.  He’s in grad school now at Columbia in NY studying film.  I was smiling reading my entry as I described him as a kid who is passionate about film.  I guess that part stuck.  The second entry was written the morning after my grandmother passed away.  It’s been 8 years and I still cried when I read it.  She was an amazing woman and I see her still in my Mom, my aunts, and in myself.  I’m so proud to be her granddaughter and proud to be a part of the family.

So here they are, the first couple of entries written October 3 and 4, 2005.  I can’t believe I’m still doing this, and still loving it.  Thanks to everyone who’s been reading these little missives of mine since the beginning and stuck with me and also thanks to everyone who’s decided to stop by during that time and especially to those new readers who drop in from time to time, sometimes deciding to stay.  I appreciate you all more than I can say.

I love this blogging thing… a way to express, to write, to share, to throw some of my thoughts out into the world in a real concrete kind of way.  I’ve loved it from the beginning and still do.  Here’s to the next 8 or 16 or 50 years blogging.  I’ll probably still be here.

 

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
12:10 pm
A life… Beautiful
My grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking. 

I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my grandfather. 64 years of love, of life. A life so rich, so beautiful, that wandering around looking at the record of it, I could feel it’s texture. There were books and drawings, copies of marriage licenses, and picture after picture of a life so full it spilled from those photographs out into the living room, where the miracle of that life sat manifest… in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The legacy that’s been left is not just that these people all exist because of her, but that they are all, every last one of them, stellar. Magnificent. They are the best people I know. Intelligent, kind, loving, curious, full of laughter, accepting, driven, artistic, educated, musical, good to the core people. There is never judgment, never an unkind word, ever. They rejoice with each other, celebrate each other, comfort each other… all of them. All the time. There is never a criticism, even a hint of should or shouldn’t… always, in the truest sense of the word, there for each other. My grandparents had seven children, who themselves had 19 children, who themselves have starting bringing many more into the fold. And in the bunch of us, there is not one who is not, in his or her own way, an outstanding human being. All of this, for me, started with my grandparents… the people that they were… are… have been to us. Those two people created the beautiful tapestry that is our family. Those two people created something rare. And we, who are lucky enough to be part of it, know it. It is not, and has never been, taken for granted.

There was a lot of laughter that weekend, three weeks ago, as there always is with this family. My grandmother, central to the scene, as she has always been, involved in it all. I thought to myself, sitting with them that day, what an honor it was, and is, to be a part of it. The luck of my draw. I often wonder how it happened, that I ended up a part of this history, a link in this beautiful chain. I am thankful, every day, for my fortune. I am grateful every day, for the honor of it. And from now, until the end of my days, I will be celebrating my grandmother’s life, as she would’ve wanted me to… by living my life in the best way I can. With joy, love, peace, and happiness, amidst the family… that she made.

Monday, October 3rd, 2005
1:37 pm
Three days in San Jose
Just got home from hanging with the in laws. It was a good trip. Karen’s parents seem to have accepted me, and better yet, they really like me. I think it’s nice for her. All the years of not really being able to be herself, and now she can just be. They are obviously happy she is happy, which is really the important thing anyway. We didn’t do much while we were there, other than hang around chatting, but that was nice. Every time I’m with them I like them more. 

We did go to a movie one night with her sister, Cathy, and her nephew, Charles. I really like that kid. He’s 16 and sort of quirky, and it’s that great kind of quirky. He’s smart, has a great off beat sense of humor, and he doesn’t feel the need to conform to what’s hip. He’s a kid who absolutely loves movies. Old and new, it doesn’t matter. Plus, he knows about them… technique, directors, cast, etc. He’s passionate about it, and that, in anyone, is very attractive. We saw the movie Serenity. Good movie even if you’ve never seen the tv show. There were a lot of people there who obviously had not just watched the tv show, but have gotten into it so much they dress the part. There are clubs for browncoats. Who knew. Not I, but it was pretty entertaining watching them. It was premiere weekend for this particular film and since there’s such a huge cult following, which I also was unaware of, there was a line, the people in costume as I mentioned before, and pre-show trivia complete with prizes for those who knew obscure tidbits about the characters, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything. I did, however, come home with a key chain, thanks to Cathy’s quick grab of a flying key chain after the trivia was over.

Karen’s parents made a full on turkey dinner Saturday night. I guess they figure that they don’t get their kids together very often and since all three were there, it was a time to celebrate. I got the honor of being the forker. When Karen’s dad carves the turkey a person stands there and forks the carved turkey onto the platter. I was told that not everyone gets to be a forker so I was touched he asked me. Standing there, forks at the ready, I felt the pressure to perform and live up to my new post and title. He said I did well, so I might, if I’m lucky, be asked to fork again.

Today I’m lucky enough to be able to hang at home. Relax after traveling. Karen, busy as she is, had to go in to work today. A perk of my job is getting to take off quite a bit of time. I’m fortunate enough to earn comp time on top of my accrued vacation time, so that helps. I slept in today. What a luxury. Sitting here sipping on green tea, still wearing pajamas that I know I won’t change out of, looking outside at the forest and the rain, I think it’s time to head in and see what movie I can find to watch. It’s Monday, and I’m home. How lucky am I?

 

Squishy Face

Dear Sebastian…

Your Grandmas came over to your house the other night to visit with you for a little while.  Your Daddy and Grandma Tam went out to a movie and your Mommy and Grandma stayed home with you.  Before your Daddy and I went to the movie we were spending a little time with you.  We played with your new plane and I made some pretty funny noises while we were playing, pretending to be the plane sounds as it flew around your head.  You really liked that a lot.  Then we got out your play dough and you started making the squishy face.  No one knows when or where you might have seen it in order to make it.  We think you just made it up on your own, which is really smart.

Your Grandmas think you have the best personality.  You are so much fun to be around.  Thanks for letting us spend some time with you the other night.  We love you so much and always like to see you when we can.

In fact, we are going to come over to your house tonight so your parents can go out on a date.  Your Grandma Karen has a cold, but we are going to come over anyway because we really love you and are excited about spending time with you.

No Disappearing Act

Dear Sebastian…

Your Grandmas have been so busy in the last couple of weeks, a lot of time with you, that we haven’t had time to write anything.  We are so slow at this stuff sometimes.  We are going to have to write another catch-up post about all the fun stuff we’ve done… like hanging out with you while your parents went out to dinner, and going to breakfast with you after we watched you swim, and going to your Little Gym talent showcase (you are very talented), and having you and your parents come over to our house for dinner, and a lot of little visits here and there to play and hang out.

Your Grandmas love you very much little man.

Love,    Grandmas

A Day With Your Grandmas

Dear Sebastian…

We got to spend the whole day with you today.  Aren’t we lucky!  Your Mommy and Daddy went to St. Louis to see the places they used to hang out when they were first dating and to do a little shopping.  So, while they were off doing that we came over to your house and spent the day with you.  We had so much fun.

 

You are a such a fun guy to be around.  We played and played, went for a walk, played some more, watched videos, and you hid under your magic cloak.

Your Grandmas love spending time with you.  In fact, I don’t think there’s anyone we would rather be with than you.  You are just that special of a guy.

We love you…

Your Grandmas

Lame Grandmas

Dear Sebastian…

It’s been quite a while since your grandmas wrote anything to you.  So much has happened and we’ve done so much together… including a trip to California to celebrate your Great Grandpa’s 80th birthday and then Thanksgiving back here in Illinois.  We promise to be better and catch you up on all that’s happened.

We love you…

The Grandmas

Swimming and the Goats

Dear Sebastian…

Hi there Mr.  We had a really fun time with you the last few days.  We got to see you twice on Saturday.  We are really lucky.

First we went to see you swim again.  You are such a great swimmer already.  Your Grandmas are really impressed with your skills.  Kind of amazing how you manage to have so much fun.  Your Mommy swam with you again, playing and helping you do all the things you needed to during your swimming lesson.  It was pretty cool.

Later on Saturday we met up with you and your parents at the Curtis Orchard where you picked out your pumpkin for Halloween.  You had so much fun playing on the wooden train and riding the pony.  You are such a brave boy.  It’s pretty special how you do all this stuff and aren’t even scared.  You did the zip line too, with your Grandmas help and that didn’t scare you either.  Wow.  There were goats at the orchard too, and ducks. You really love animals.  It’s so fun to watch you with them and how excited you get.  You fed the goats and also got to pet them.  They had slimy tongues, but you didn’t seem to mind.

Today we came over to your house to see your cool Halloween costume.  You were a train engineer.  Grandma Tam was supposed to bring her camera, but forgot part of it so I couldn’t take any photos of us.  I used my phone camera instead to get a picture, but it turned out kinda blurry.  Your Mommy took some pictures of the three of us with her camera.  I hope one came out, but just in case I’ll put the blurry one on here.  That way we can keep the memory safe and sound.

Love, Your Grandmas

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Grandpa

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

I am doing something today I’ve never done. I’m blogging a picture of an actual person from my life. If you’ve paid close attention over the last two years you will have noticed that I never post pictures of people. A hand maybe, or a foot, but never something where you can tell who it is. Today I’m varying the format, breaking the rules.

This handsome guy is my grandfather. And today, Christmas day, is his birthday. I’ve thought a lot about that, having a birthday on Christmas, and you know… really… what a bummer that could have been. Of course, the way he tells it, it wasn’t really bad at all. But then, that’s him… upbeat, positive, always looking at the bright side of things. He’s an amazing human being.

Yesterday Karen and I were sitting here eating pancakes for dinner (very Christmas like of us yes?) and we were talking about being genuine, or at least trying to be. Karen said, most accurately, that my grandfather is one of the most genuine people she knows. No pretense, no hiding behind anger or humor or silence. He is always, without exception, just himself. And as Karen said, he enjoys life, no matter what he’s doing, he gets the most out of it.

I’ve been corresponding with my grandpa now for a couple of months. He sends a letter, I send one back, he sends another. It’s been so wonderful and I hope very much that it continues. I absolutely adore it. In his latest missive, which I read aloud during our pancake dinner last night, he told the story of how he got a tricycle for his 5th Christmas/birthday. He remembered the morning vividly and his enthusiasm in reliving that event reflected, I’m sure, the happiness he felt that long ago day. I could feel the glee coming off the page. But then, that’s my grandpa…. the twinkle in his eyes, the smile on his face, the adventure he finds in the world, in everything he does, every day.

So Grandpa… here’s wishing you a very happy, joy filled, birthday today. You are the best example of what it means to live with joy, adventure, and love, every day. I am so grateful to know you, have cherished, and continue to cherish, all the time I get to spend with you. And I’m filled up with the pride and love I feel in being your granddaughter. Happy birthday grandpa… I love you.

Legson Kayira

Families have many stories. One of ours involves a man named Legson Kayira. Giving Legson a home during the 60’s is something my family is proud of, and should be. They took him in, which was probably not really as easy as they let on, and then proceeded to make a life long connection with him. In fact, during my mom’s wedding last summer one of the events we have pictures of was a phone call to London, where Legson and his wife have lived for several years. In the photos my mom and all of her siblings who were present are lined up along the side of the house talking on the phone, or waiting to talk on the phone, to Legson.

Today I was looking around for info on Legson Kayira because, I think, I’m facinated by the story of a man who would walk across Africa to get an American education, and I’m proud of the part my family played in his journey. Legson later wrote a book called “I Will Try” about his experience and has written others since. My grandparents had a copy of that book and I remember as a young child being told the story of Legson’s journey and how he stayed with my family (grandparents, mom, and her siblings) after arriving in the states, during the time he attended Skagit Valley College. At the time several articles were written about his journey and experience and during my search I happened to find the article from Time Magazine called Destination: Skagit Valley. Amazing what can be found online.   My favorite part of this particular article, of course, is the quote by my grandmother. It’s classic Martha. As for our family’s part of the story, it’s classic for them. They took in a man who valued education because they could appreciate that aim, and because they felt they had something to offer him, which, for my part, I can testify to. It’s an amazing family, who has, throughout the years, touched many lives in such a postive and great way. They’ve left, and are still leaving, an incredible legacy, of which Legson Kayira is a small, yet amazing part.

 

Pie And Coffee

Coffee + Pie
Coffee + Pie (Photo credit: borkazoid)

Here it is, Tuesday, I’m back at work. How to describe the weekend? I find myself at a loss in this area because I’m emotionally pulled in so many directions. But here I sit, alone in my office during lunch, about to give it a try anyway, as torn as I am.

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is beautiful. And it was. The celebration of my grandmother’s life, held on Saturday, October 8, at noon, was simply beautiful. Not just the setting, though it was, and not just the people, though they were as well. No, it was the spirit of it. The mood. There we were, a large room full of people, all thinking and feeling so deeply about her. All honoring her. And honestly, there was joy in it. Sadness, to be sure, but also a feeling of joy and connection. She would’ve loved her day. Children and grandchildren getting up to talk about her, their voices all filled with so much love and respect. Music… sung and played, food… including, of course, chocolate, a slide show… with music, and people laughing about this thing or that thing they remembered her doing or saying. So much love, and so present in the room, the sense of a life so well lived. And I guess, thinking about it sitting here, that’s the thing. She lived her life well. And we, those lucky enough to be related to her, to be present because of her, learned that from her. We have learned how to live our lives well. The whole event so well organized by her children, the slide show so well done by her son. Her husband, our father and grandfather, so well looked after by his children, his grandchildren. So much compassion, so much respect. And there it is… the truth of the matter, and the truth of a life like hers. Even that day, with her physically gone from us, we were more connected because of her. The family bond strengthening… feeling her arms wrapped around the collection of us, hugging us tightly together. As if she was saying to us, I’m still here, holding you all. We all felt it. As we held each other, as we cried, and even as we laughed. I feel it still. I don’t think it will ever go away. Her power so strong, her influence so rich, her love so great.

We spent the rest of that day together, those that could, and the better part of the next. And then Sunday night we went to watch my uncle play music. She would’ve loved that as well. People enjoying his music, some food, some wine or beer or whatever, and again, being together.

Karen and I left for home after Tom was done making music, and half way there, tired from driving so late, we stopped… for pie and coffee. I thought it was fitting, and I know grandma was smiling. She herself a fan of stopping during early morning hours for pie and coffee, getting a break from driving during long road trips, children asleep in the car. I thought to myself, as afterward we got back in the car and continued the drive home, grandma was there with us. And I know that she’s here with me now. As she will always be… during stops for pie and coffee, during those transcendent moments listening to a great piece of music, during a hug, a call, a laugh, the reading of an email from family. She is there. And that, as it always will, gives me a great sense of comfort… and joy.

A Life… Beautiful

413758_10151043518492389_936384095_oMy grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking.

I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my grandfather. 64 years of love, of life. A life so rich, so beautiful, that wandering around looking at the record of it, I could feel it’s texture. There were books and drawings, copies of marriage licenses, and picture after picture of a life so full it spilled from those photographs out into the living room, where the miracle of that life sat manifest… in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The legacy that’s been left is not just that these people all exist because of her, but that they are all, every last one of them, stellar. Magnificent. They are the best people I know. Intelligent, kind, loving, curious, full of laughter, accepting, driven, artistic, educated, musical, good to the core people. There is never judgment, never an unkind word, ever. They rejoice with each other, celebrate each other, comfort each other… all of them. All the time. There is never a criticism, even a hint of should or shouldn’t… always, in the truest sense of the word, there for each other. My grandparents had seven children, who themselves had 19 children, who themselves have starting bringing many more into the fold. And in the bunch of us, there is not one who is not, in his or her own way, an outstanding human being. All of this, for me, started with my grandparents… the people that they were… are… have been to us. Those two people created the beautiful tapestry that is our family. Those two people created something rare. And we, who are lucky enough to be part of it, know it. It is not, and has never been, taken for granted.

There was a lot of laughter that weekend, three weeks ago, as there always is with this family. My grandmother, central to the scene, as she has always been, involved in it all. I thought to myself, sitting with them that day, what an honor it was, and is, to be a part of it. The luck of my draw. I often wonder how it happened, that I ended up a part of this history, a link in this beautiful chain. I am thankful, every day, for my fortune. I am grateful every day, for the honor of it. And from now, until the end of my days, I will be celebrating my grandmother’s life, as she would’ve wanted me to… by living my life in the best way I can. With joy, love, peace, and happiness, amidst the family… that she made.