Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Mother-Boy Mother's Day Celebration (A Week Early)

Last Saturday the four sons who live in VA came over to our house to celebrate an early Mother's Day with me. (I like to call it a "Mother-Boy" party, but unless you watched a series called Arrested Development you won't get that reference.)  This is an annual event that was the brainchild of son #2's wife, who I think is projecting ahead to the day when her own four boys are grown men.  I never would have thought to ask for this sort of thing, because I love my daughters-in-law very much, and my grandchildren--don't even get me started.  Having the opportunity to spend time with our boys' growing families is the very reason we moved down here in the first place.

But it is true that when your babies are all grown up, you sometimes feel a deep nostalgia for the days when they all lived under your roof and life revolved around your own little nuclear family.  When we get everyone together at our house, it's so much fun--but extremely chaotic!  It's hard to have an uninterrupted adult conversation. So this one day a year when our boys (at least the four who do live close-by) come over all by themselves gives us some very sweet and precious mother-son time together.  Not to mention the "brother time" it gives them, too.  

One of my husband's younger sisters married a man who is the youngest of five boys.  And from time to time, she will encourage him to take trips to visit his mother out west on his own, without her or their kids. He will balk, but then she'll explain that when she's with him, he doesn't give his mom the undivided attention he would if he was by himself.  She is so thoughtful!

Women like my daughter-in-law and my sister-in-law are extremely wise and generous, and I encourage you young moms out there to put this idea of having your chicks fly home to your nest unaccompanied sometimes in the back of your minds, and try to make it happen now and again when they're all grown up and raising families of their own. 

We chose to stay in rather than go out for dinner (actually, that’s what we always do!). My husband cooked steaks on the grill.  We sat on the patio beforehand and then around the dining room table, and we talked and laughed.  It was a simply perfect Mother's Day for me.   

Today, we’re celebrating with my mom, who came down from Upstate NY to stay with us for a few weeks while the sister she lives with is on a well-deserved vacation. She arrived on Tuesday and went almost straight to the hospital, where she spent the next three days—but that’s a long story and the rest of this post was prewritten before she ever got here. So for now I’ll just tell you that she’s home and doing great and has even already visited with five of her great-grandchildren, after a rather drama-filled beginning to her time in VA.  (As she joked, always the drama queen!)

Happy Mother's Day, dear readers!  I hope you are being treated like the queens you are!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Garden Spots

I have the brownest thumb in the world.  Although I love the look of a pretty garden, a gardener I am not. Unfortunately.

That's why I so appreciated the tidy and well-manicured landscaping that came with our house in VA when we moved into it in 2017.  The garden areas in front on either side of the entryway sidewalk are filled with easy-to-trim bushes.  On the left there are several flowering bushes (all the color and beauty with none of the work!), and I think that with our 36" statue of the Blessed Mother in front of them, they make for a nice Mary Garden.  (Does anyone know what these bushes are called?  They have the most lovely blossoms!)

Along the side of the house and near the driveway, the previous owners had planted perennials (again, all the color and beauty with none of the work!).  I left well enough alone and didn't plant anything new, because I liked the low-maintenance garden just the way it was.  I just adore the profusion of gorgeous irises that bloom each spring.  They thrive on benign neglect, which is my go-to gardening technique!

I say I liked it just the way it was; but something was recently, we purchased a new statue to stand amongst the irises.  It is considerably less holy and sacred than the one we have out front.  But you see, my dad, who passed away one day shy of his 82nd birthday in 2016, was known by the nickname "Bigfoot."  (Some kids have a Grandpa, some have a Papa; my boys had a Bigfoot.)  So when I saw this 36", solid cement Sasquatch figurine—which was meticulously created by some local Mennonite craftsmen—calling out to me from a downtown garden shop, I just couldn't resist it.

When I texted our boys a photo of my newly acquired garden statue, son #4 replied in his usual amusing fashion:

A garden Bigfoot might not be "essential" for most folks; but I think it was for me.  I'm  always up for whimsical touches, especially when they have personal meaning.  My mom is coming here tomorrow, staying with us for about three weeks; and I think she's going to enjoy this reminder of her beloved husband—gone, but never forgotten!—when she sits on the patio with us during cocktail hour.

I plan to write more about my mother and the ups and downs of her life over the past five years, and also about the younger sister saint and her husband who have taken Mom into their home (a long overdue post, to be sure); but for now I'm going to sign off by saying that I just love springtime in VA.  Especially with garden spots like these!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Happy Birthday to Our Middle Son

Son #3 turned 35 today.  What?! How is this possible? Because "just the other day" (to borrow my mother's term for anything that happened before this very moment), he was a newborn baby coming into the world five days early at 9 lbs. 13 oz. and 22 inches.  He was a long and lanky baby.  And his father and I were just a couple of babies ourselves, not quite 28...which means that—oh my goodness!—we were seven years younger than he is now!  It's unfathomable.

His was an easy labor and delivery, despite his size—for me, at least.  For him, it included getting momentarily stuck, because of his unusually broad shoulders, and almost having to have them broken by the doctor so that he could make his way safely through the birth canal.  But other than that brief scare, it went amazingly smoothly.

A couple of grainy 1986 snapshots from our boy's early days.  
(What I would have given for an ever-handy cell phone camera
 and the color and clarity of 21st-century digital photography!)

Those words, "amazingly smoothly," kind of describe how his life has gone ever since.  He was always a happy kid, always liked to see the good in every person and every situation.  He always had a lot of friends in school, with his optimistic, glass-is-half-full attitude, his passion for anything sports-related, and his winning smile.  He was a joy to raise, and it has been a joy watching him in the role of Dada (he is as hands-on as they come) the past six years, raising his own brood of four with his lovely wife Preciosa.

Our middle-born is about 6'3" and a lot more filled-out than he was back in the day; but he's still kind of lanky, even though he's not the skinny, knobby-kneed lad he once was.  ([Sniff!] I remember that sweet little guy so well!)  He often cooks for his kids and oversees their bath time; he changes diapers like a boss and creates his family’s Shutterfly photo books every year (he likes archiving memories—I think he got that from his mom!); he’s an assistant t-ball coach for his two oldest kids' team; and along with other impressive DIY projects, he puts up shiplap walls.  He is a jack of many trades these days.  He is also unfailingly good to his father and me, and is clearly happy to have us living just over a half-hour away, where we can be a part of his and his family's everyday life in VA.

This was taken about a week ago, after his oldest daughter's
pre-K end-of-year show.

About a year before we made the decision to sell our house in NH and head to VA, son #3 and Preciosa emailed us a 15-page powerpoint presentation, complete with pictures and professional-looking graphics, enumerating all the compelling reasons why we should move south.  I shrank each page to the size of a wallet photo so that I could frame the entire document, which hangs in the stairwell on the way to the basement in the VA house we bought in 2017. Every time I pass by and see it, I am reminded that we are just where we're meant to be, and that we are beyond blessed to have grown children who want us nearby.

At the time that this powerpoint was composed, we had three married sons and
three grandchildren living in VA.  That number has grown to four married sons 
and 17 grandchildren.  When son #3 and his wife wrote this for us, they were the
parents of two, and they have since added two more.

I used to fear the empty nest a bit, because I'm not a big fan of change.  There was a time when I couldn't imagine our middle son—along with his four brothers—flying far from home.  But like the mother rabbit in The Runaway Bunny (one of my all-time favorite children's picture books) was wont to do, their dad and I decided that if that was what was going to happen, we would just follow them!  Luckily for us, most of them flew to the same region; so our choice was a relatively easy one to make.

This birthday boy of we love him!  And his powerpoint co-writer...we love her, too.