Days Of Old Drift Back To Me

Days of old drift back to me on wings of golden memories, taking me back to old times, happy times and family times, as the love of family runs deep in my veins and deeper in my heart…

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Treasured memories of childhood hold fast and true, as the sounds of innocence play softly in my mind…sounds of silly giggling and little legs running to hide on a warm country night, as we played hide and go seek…”Olly Olly Oxen Free.”

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Growing up I had cousins by the dozens and lots of Aunts and Uncles….the above photo was taken on my 3rd birthday here at the house. My Grandma is sitting on the red sofa next to my Uncle Ron and Uncle Rich is sitting in the red chair that was my Dad’s…and to the right of the photo you can see the skirts of my aunts…you can’t see me as I’m surrounded by cousins…I have the short hair with the striped dress sitting on the floor.

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Dad had six brothers counting him and three sisters making Dad’s immediate family a family of 11 and they all lived in this area. As a family tradition, we got together for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas Eve, it was always a very large gathering of around 60 plus family members, with Aunts, Uncles and their spouses and lots of cousins. It was an incredible gift to be part of a huge family as I grew up…as family was very important. Being an only child I was on cloud nine each time we got together for the holidays or for my cousins birthdays…those were the best years of our lives!

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My Dad is standing on the left side with the cowboy hat on and his five brothers…two nephews sitting in the middle in front and two young nephews standing with their Dad on the right side of the photo taken here about 1960.

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When I began grade school in our very small town, 8 miles from our house, there was one of my cousins in each grade from 1-12.  I loved it as my older cousins were plowing the path for us to follow along! It was incredible to experience that…if one of us got hurt or upset we could run to find one of our cousins for childhood support!  Our school was lucky to have a 100 kids enrolled in 12 grades. Most classes were under 10 kids. FYI, I was thrilled when Mom finally told me I could grow my hair out if I took care of it and I did and still do:)

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As we cousins grew up, went to college and got married, we began a new chapter that was very foreign to us. In the last few years, we have buried our parents together. It’s hard at times to fathom that we are now the older family members and yet…we still feel like that same group of cousins, laughing and calling out “Olly Olly Oxen Free”…young at heart…life was good…we had each other and we had our parents and we had lots of Uncles and Aunts to tease us and keep us in line. The picture above is only half of my cousins!

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The last week has been bittersweet as we lost a family member who was very much loved. He was my oldest cousin, but because of the age difference, we called him our Uncle Gerald. He was always in a good mood and had a smile for everyone…if you showed up in his shop he would offer you a meal and something to drink…he loved his family and he worked hard his entire life. He was always there with a smile and a wave as he drove by…I will miss him.

The picture above is at cow camp in the old log cabin. My Mom always cooked up a storm…using a wood cook stove, with no running water and no electricity…she was amazing!  Gerald is sitting with his back to the picture, my Dad is pouring us lemonade and Gerald’s son Jerry is sitting next to my Dad and cousin Matt is sitting next to me and yes…that is me with the dorky glasses and pixie haircut!.

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In remembrance of my Uncle Gerald…the picture above says it all…he was a good husband, a good father and a super grandfather and friend to many…and the best Uncle/Cousin you could have. He will be remembered for the caring love he had for his family and for others…and the great sense of fun he had in life…he lived his life fully with honor and with the simple love of family.

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Time passes by and before you know it those whom you love are gone. Wherever you are…reach out to your family and to those that you love…as time gets shorter each year and before you know it, time passes by…Kathy Mattea sang the song below…it is one of my favorites and so very true.

Dreams drift away like leaves on the water
They roll down the river and slip out of sight
Too many times we do what we ought
Put off ’til tomorrow what we’d really rather do tonight
And later realize

Time passes by, people pass on
At the drop of a tear, they’re gone
Let’s do what we dare, do what we like
And love while we’re here before time passes by

Thoughts are like pennies we keep in our pockets
They’re never worth nothing ’til we give them away
But love’s like a promise in an un-opened letter
Where nights full of pleasure seldom see the light of day
When life gets in the way

Time passes by, people pass on
At the drop of a tear, they’re gone
Let’s do what we dare, do what we like
And love while we’re here before time passes by

Time passes by, people pass on
At the drop of a tear, they’re gone
Let’s do what we dare, do what we like
And love while we’re here before time passes by

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Have a wonderful week with a bit of whacky….as the whacky will keep life interesting! HRCG over and out for now but not for long!

The Miracles Of Christmas…The Miracles Of Each Season And The Miracles Of Life!

The miracles of Christmas, the miracles of each season and the miracles of life…meaning our lives! We have so much to be grateful for in our lives and a lifetime to celebrate that we are alive!

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I love Christmas; the wonders of the season, the glory of God, the magical smiles in the hearts of children, the gatherings of family and friends, the amazing food with sugar and spice smells coming from the kitchen. And for me of course, Lefse or Norwegian Potato Cakes…warm or cold-rolled up with butter….oh my gosh…yum!

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Meaningful memories, both joyous and sad, run deep in your heart and spirit as we look back, remembering our loved ones…wishing they were still here and in many ways they are…through our memories, the old stories and family traditions that they passed on to us.

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My Mom in her later years celebrating Wild Bill’s birthday with us…every year of my life, she always without fail would order me a birthday cake. She loved doing things for others and took great joy in going all out!

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The other day I ran across a quote by Lemony Snicket, from The Lump Of Coal…and it hit my heart, as it fit exactly what the Christmas season and our lives are all about.

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“It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season…like all the other seasons…is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them.”

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Loosing my Mom a few days before Christmas was surreal and hard for my mind to comprehend. We think our parents will live forever, even when we know, due to illness that we could lose them and even with that, you are never prepared. Mom was so brave and she had done so well that in my heart I held on to hope that she would be okay. On a December Sunday, Mom stepped from this world into heaven on a beautiful, clear, crisp, winter dawn, just as the sun was breaking over the hills of Juniper Canyon, spilling eternal golden light at the break of day, with both WB and I at her side. As my heart broke, as difficult as it was, I knew without a doubt that I would see my Mom and Dad again someday, as they were together again and with God in heaven. They had been married 59 years when Dad had slipped into heaven the year before and I know it was incredibly difficult for Mom to be without him, even though she tried to not show it to me as she did not want me to worry…but I did…as I knew my Mom.

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A few days before, Mom told me she was going to take a nap and instead she fell into a sleep type coma for about 12 hours, I could not wake her, which was scary so I called her home health nurse, who came out to check on her and as she checked her vitals, Mom suddenly opened her eyes and was a bit confused and asked “Well why am I back here?” and then her beautiful brown eyes filled with love and she looked at me deeply and she began to pray aloud “The Lord’s Prayer” and I joined in with her, praying in unison together as we had many times before, only this time it was on eternal time. She shared with me that she knew where she was going as she had seen both my Dad and Jesus…and her dog Rhett Butler…she was so at peace having seen a glimpse of heaven.

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The day after Mom stepped into heaven, we had to go to town as I needed black shoes to wear with my dress for Mom’s funeral…somehow my black cowgirl boots did not look quite right with my dress. We went to the little mall we had at the time and everyone was Christmas shopping and running all around town…I was in a daze of shock and could NOT believe that life was going on, as my life had stopped! I wanted to scream and say “NO wait, my Mom’s life is over and so is my Dad’s and I don’t care about Christmas right now!”

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It took me a few years to recover from the grief of loosing both parents in a year of one another…the week we lost my Dad, we found out Mom was in kidney failure. I knew I could not take the time yet to grieve for my Dad as I needed to be strong for my Mom as she was so worried about me. “Mom, no not me….I am worried about you”…but she was my Mom and she always worried about me…no matter that I was now in my early 40′s and she was 80. No matter how old you are, your Mom will worry forever!

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Christmas was an out-of-body experience for WB and I that year…we had not done any of our usual shopping. WB had decorated the tree and cooked for the many friends and family who came to see Mom as we had moved her to our home to be with us…she slept in her old bedroom that she shared with my Dad and the bed I had in the bedroom then was the antique bedroom set that used to be Mom’s when she was a little girl…how God like is that? I loved having her here with me even though at times it was sad…but many times we laughed together and watched old movies and talked all day and half the night and to me, that was a “gift from God.” I was a blessed daughter to spend that quality time with Mom as I was able to take care of her as she had taken care of me when I was a baby and as I grew up…and now I could support her with lots of love and lots of faith.

BTW the above picture was on Easter in front of Grandma’s house in town and all my cousins by the dozens along with me were trying to have an Easter egg hunt and Mom wanted pictures. All the Mom’s wanted pictures so there were some grouchy looking cousins…we wanted to find all the Easter eggs and candy that Grandma’s Easter Bunny had brought…and all our Mom’s could think of was pictures!!!

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Mom’s funeral was December 23rd, and the church was beautifully decorated and filled with her life, as it was packed with her family and many friends. Our pastor began by saying “I have never been present at such a “Godly” death, as Casey’s, the peaceful presence of God was there”…the service was filled with love, just like my Mom, sweet and Godly with a personal touch of the classy lady she was.

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I was deeply touched by the many tribute stories of how she cooked and took care of the world when they came to her house…she even tried to cook and take care of the care giver I hired to help us both with my Dad! She always had good food cooking, with a warm hospitable heart for people…and she always had a smile:) She loved to laugh and share funny stories…Mom and I could start giggling for no other reason than by just looking at each other, after all we spent many years with no one but us and Dad…poor Dad:) And we learned to survive on life…filling in the blanks with swimming when I could with her at the hot springs that was about 30 miles from the mountain ranch or we would look for rocks and do the rock hound thing…or she would go with Dad and I to salt cows on the rainy days in the Jeep…and it was always interesting as often Dad would make us both get out as he was not sure if he could make it and if he slid or rolled, he did not want us in the cab…oh great Dad! Mom was always a trooper and she loved Dad and I…and then WB…finally she had a son…when she was mad at me she would tell me she would trade me off and keep WB:) She was the best Mom ever and I miss her.

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The day after Mom’s funeral, I wanted to cover my head up with the covers and dig a large hole to hibernate in, but I had to get out of bed early, at the break of dawn, as it was Christmas Eve Day. And because we had grandkids and kids to shop for, we did our last minute Christmas shopping in town. It was mind-boggling and exhausting…BUT…the best part of that day was waking up to a few inches of snow. I had complained for weeks that we had not had any snow yet for Christmas and when we woke up on the morning of the 24th, we had snow! As we drove to town that day, we found that less than a couple of miles away, there was no snow…it was only at our house…it felt like my Mom was saying to me “Now, honey, I know you are sad, but I am safe and with your Dad, and here is your snow from heaven.” It was beautiful to see as the sunlight sparkled on the fresh white blanket of snow with heavenly brilliance.

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Shopping was difficult as I felt like a zombie and neither of us could think or make decisions…it was a long hard day. My sister-in-law and her family lived in town, and after shopping, we had dinner that night together, feeling surreal in the twilight zone…we ate and then took a power nap so that we could go to church. I was determined to go to the 11:00 o’clock Christmas Eve Service at the Episcopal Church…and we did. It was beautiful with the red poinsettia’s, boughs of fir, with all the candles lite. Having been there the day before for Mom’s funeral, I felt I was on “Holy Ground” as I knelt at the altar that Christmas Eve Night. I knew that at that moment, all of heaven was celebrating the birthday of Jesus and welcoming my Mom to the celebration table…and Dad was with her again, as were her parents and all the family that had gone before her. Christmas Eve that year and the moments in my life that night, felt like a glimpse of heaven with God’s glory. A true miracle for a daughter who was deeply grieved, yet knew that God was there and my parents were safely with Him. For a month after we lost Mom, her bedroom smelled with the scent of roses…both WB and I were drawn to spend lots of time in her room in the morning, during our quiet waking up time with God and our cup of coffee.

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  On Christmas morning, we got up early to wrap gifts and prepare for our son and his family to come visit us…they came and opened their gifts, sharing a few hours with us. And then, WB and I fell asleep on the sofa, we didn’t mean to, but we were exhausted emotionally and physically…we missed the dinner we had planned to fix for them as they left us to rest…and we did all day long and all night long. The next day we escaped to my in laws house in the mountains and stayed a few nights without a telephone or hectic reminders of life, just quiet rest with lots of snow. It was very peaceful to watch the snowflakes fall softly into the pine trees and fir trees in the forest around their house, with the fireplace crackling away, as the healing warmth of peace permeated deeply into our hearts. I love the stillness and the beauty of the fresh snow that falls quietly, untouched to the ground, as a pure white blanket…it seems that life itself stops, silently holding its breath, taking in the beauty of the glistening white snow as it sparkles in the moonlight or the porch light or when the first rays of dawn hit the snow, as it looks like a bed of white diamonds.

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Coming home after a few days was hard as it was back to the reality that life had forever changed. At that time my parent’s house was right next door to our house…my kitchen window looked out at their house with a driveway between us…I could walk just a few feet for a cup of coffee to visit or if needed a Mom talk or a Dad talk. It was hard to see their house dark…so we decided to set a timer for the lights to come on at dark…but the first night I came home from work and saw the lights on I was stunned. Maybe I had imagined all of this and maybe Mom and Dad were there like usual…watching some old John Wayne movie on TV…much to Mom’s chagrin…and asleep on the sofa or recliner…waiting for me to get home. Mom always watched for my headlights to turn into the driveway as I would see her peek out the window to be sure I was home…safe and sound.

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I was blessed as a daughter to take care of both of my parents at home, and the time I spent with each of them individually, was truly a gift from God…a true miracle of time and memories that will carry me forever, one of my Christmas miracles…feeling the presence of God and knowing that Mom was with Dad and with God. It will be 14 years ago this year that we lost Mom and 15 years ago that we lost Dad, and yet it seems like yesterday in many ways. I miss them both very much and often, I wish I could go next door to see them again for a hug and a cup of coffee. We have had many miracles to celebrate since then…my survival of breast cancer, Wild Bill’s two neck fusion surgeries and this year on Christmas Eve, WB will be having bicep surgery to repair three tears in his bicep muscle in his shoulder…it has been very painful for him and December 24th was the only day they could do the surgery. I know I will be attending another Christmas Eve Service in the hospital to give thanks to God, as our Christmas gift this year will be Wild Bill’s healing…and when I bring him home we will celebrate Christmas and life!

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I hope and pray that as you look around your life or your circumstances during this Christmas Season, that you will see the miracles of your life. They can be small or they can be large…they can be minor or they can be major; either way, a miracle is a miracle of God…look deeply as we all have them. As I write this I see my Minnie Mouse snuggled up on top of the sofa on her blanket next to me…all curled up in her 18th year of a healthy life…and my hubby in his recliner…and I am here, alive and filled with God’s wonder and full of life. As I end this post, I will share with you one of the quotes that spoke to my heart that describes my Mom.

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“Who is that lady, small and spry, who never lets a day go by…without a thought of you and me and nature’s sweet simplicity? Whose hands can quickly touch and bring a work of art from a simple thing. Whose youthful spirit wanders free into the woods or up a tree…”

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“She never lets life get her down, she’s not too proud to play the clown. In every melody she plays she marks the zest of all her days.”

“She’s a lady like no other…she’s God’s own child, my friend, my mother.”

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The miracles of life…the miracles of the season and the miracles of Christmas.

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We wish you a very Merry Christmas from…WB…Minnie…HRCG…and our horses, Fanny Annie, Melody and Buck…dogs Tuck, Dash, Ki…and barn cats Jack and Pat.

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